Stellaris: Top 10 Most Fun Ethics To Play With

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Ethics are the principles and ideas guiding any terrestrial or intergalactic society.

Things like your attitude toward other nations and species, your metaphysical views, and your willingness to do battle to expand your territory are all contained within these ethics.

It’s not the same thing to spend your entire game negotiating trade agreements as it is to lead your armada into battle to establish intergalactic dominance. Your ethics will determine which one of these options is open to you.

After trying out many strategies and playstyles, I’ve come up with a comprehensive list of ethics that’ll maximize your enjoyment of the game.


10. Pacifist

Pacifist Icons / Stellaris

Most of us value peace and harmony, but that way of thinking will probably lead you to a very dull playthrough in Stellaris.

The Pacifist ethic focuses on growing tall and harmoniously.

It gives you 15% less Empire Size from pops and 5% extra Stability, so you can worry less about political turmoil and focus more on creating a vibrant economy.

Since you can’t really start wars as a Pacifist, you’re encouraged to form Federations and extend your soft power through diplomacy.

Regrettably, these systems are lackluster in Stellaris, so it doesn’t make up for the lack of military fun.


9. Egalitarian

Egalitarian Icons / Stellaris

Next up, we’re looking at another staple of Western political thought: Egalitarian.

This ethic is all about building a society where everyone has an equal shot at success. You’ll get +25% Faction Unity Gain, and 5% increased Specialist output by giving everyone a voice.

Unlike Pacifist, Egalitarian does allow you to wage wars of expansion. In addition, you get access to the Utopian living standards, which makes everyone lead very happy lives.

They’re so happy that even unemployed pops are content, and they’ll produce Unity and Research.

Overall, Egalitarian gives you a lot of gameplay freedom.


8. Xenophile & Fanatic Xenophile

Fanatic Xenophile Population Tab / Stellaris

With the Xenophile ethic, diversity becomes your empire’s greatest strength – but is it any fun?

I love filling my empire with Xeno. It gives me a chance to check out all the crazy lifeforms in the galaxy – and I can only imagine the crazy parties a multi-species civilization can throw.

However, this ethical path makes you incapable of displacing aliens or enslaving them, which discourages conquering planets by force.

These ethics are better suited to maxing your trade output and trying to buy your way up.

I’ll include the “Fanatic” version of the ethic because doubling the +10% Trade Value and +1 Envoy bonuses for two ethic points is totally worth it if you’re playing a trade-based game.


7. Militarist & Fanatic Militarist

Citizen Service description / Stellaris

Launching a military campaign to expand your reign over the galaxy is one of the most exciting moments in any Stellaris game.

So going for Militaristic ethics is a no-brainer.

These ethics are especially beneficial in the early game when the +10% Ship Fire Rate is strongest. As the match draws on, you’ll appreciate the 10% reduction in Influence cost for claims – helping you extend your tentacles across the galaxy.

Fanatic Militarist doubles both of these bonuses.

My favorite part is the Citizen Service edict, which “encourages” your citizens to do their part for their empire. It increases your Naval Capacity by 15% and grants +2 Unity production for each soldier in service, which is phenomenal.


6. Authoritarian & Fanatic Authoritarian

Fanatic Authoritarian description / Stellaris

Authoritarianism is on the rise worldwide, and Stellaris helps us understand why:

It’s bloody fun (for the ruler, at least).

The extra monthly Influence and increased worker output are fantastic. Still, they’re secondary to the Information Quarantine edict and Stratified Economy living standards these ethics unlock – as well as the ability to enslave aliens.

Thanks to Information Quarantine, you can drop an Iron Curtain around your territory to increase Stability and Governing Ethics Attraction.

Stratified Economy, on the other hand, suppresses slaves and low-level workers to give Leaders and Specialists higher Happiness and Political Power.

Enslaving the population and suppressing their rights is the easiest way to sustain a vigorous planet-conquering campaign.


5. Fanatic Spiritualist

Fanatic Spiritualist descriptiojn / Stellaris

When it comes to roleplaying, I can’t imagine something more wild and fun than expanding the true faith throughout the galaxy.

Fanatic Spiritualist ethics help you spread the word with mighty bonuses: 20% extra Unity production and a 20% reduction to the cost of passing Edicts and keeping them going.

If you feel that’s not enough Unity, you can activate the Veneration of Saints edict to get 20% extra priest Unity output.


4. Spiritualist

Spiritualist, Militarist and Authoritarian Empire / Stellaris

Spiritualist ethics work best when paired with something else.

The 10% extra monthly Unity and 10% reduction in Edict costs, coupled with the Veneration of Saints edict, will grant you plenty of Unity to adopt as many Traditions as you want.

You can couple these benefits with something like Militaristic or Authoritarian ethics to fuel your war campaign and – eventually – get access to one of my favorite Colossus weapons: the Divine Enforcer.

If they don’t have the spiritual sensibility to see the truth of your faith… you can just shoot a giant religious conversion laser at their planets. Praise the Lord!


3. Materialist & Fanatic Materialist

Fanatic Materialist and Xenophile Empire / Stellaris

The opposite of Spiritualist is Materialist, which focuses on technological advancement and transcending the limits of our decaying bodies with the help of augmentations.

Materialist and Fanatic Materialist empires get a sizable bonus to Research Speed (5% and 10%, respectively), which will start giving you massive returns from the get-go. This puts you on the fast track toward a mechanized, automaton-rich empire, taking us to our next point…

At first, the 10% and 20% reduction in robot upkeep is useless (unless you choose something like the Mechanist origin). Still, it’ll become progressively more beneficial as you make your way toward your cybernetic destiny.

Anything that eases your financial and administrative problems in the late game makes Stellaris a lot more fun.


2. Gestalt Consciousness

Gestalt Consciousness Empire / Stellaris

Gestalt Consciousnesses don’t need guiding values for their society.

After all, they’re just one mind.

This ethic is a prerequisite for both Machine Intelligences and Hive Minds, some of the most potent empire types in the game.

You’ll have tons of fun with Gestalt Consciousness, not because of the extra monthly Influence or reduced war exhaustion gain, but because it gives you access to MI and Hive Minds.

Get ready to ramp up and snowball like never before.


1. Xenophobe & Fanatic Xenophobe

Xenophobe Ethic in Stellaris

Xenophobia is a horrible trait to have in real life – but in Stellaris? It’s a ticket to a world of fun!

Hating alien scum gives Xenophobic empires two incredible bonuses: 10% faster Pop Growth Speed and a massive 20% reduction in the Influence cost of building new Starbases. Fanatic Xenophobes get double that.

This’ll allow you to expand with incredible speed and efficiency during the early game, colonizing new planets and setting up strong Starbases to protect your ever-expanding territory.

The complete freedom to purge, displace and enslave aliens is also extremely useful.

It’s either a free workforce or a bunch of mass graves.

In addition, you actually get to use your own beloved species instead of having to accommodate immigrants. Diversity is their greatest strength, but unity and efficiency are yours!

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.