This article is for the PC version of Stellaris only.
Wars are not decided only in space. In order to capture enemy planets, entire armies will be needed, along with the preparation and battlefield awareness to properly use them. However planets may only be invaded if the system's starbase has been occupied.
Ground combat takes place between the planet owner's defense armies and the invader's assault armies. The number of armies that can be engaged in combat on either side is half the size of the planet. Armies not engaged in combat will be placed a row behind the fighting armies and replace any killed army.
Generals are leaders who command armies and give them bonuses. However Generals, particularly at lower levels, may die during the fighting.
Each army has a morale value, and once morale drops low enough the army will be negatively affected with the following modifiers:
|50%||-25% Army Damage|
|0%||-75% Army Damage|
Armies gain experience from combat and can rank up. Higher rank armies are more effective in combat.
An attacker can always attempt to retreat. However there is a significant chance that each retreating army is destroyed while attempting to return to space, making retreat a risky endeavour and something to do only in very poorly chosen engagements.
Planet Devastation is a measure of how much damage has been caused to the planet's population centers. It goes from 0 to 100% and the higher it is the more damage defensive armies take and the more likely pops are to be killed. Every 1% Planetary Devastation causes a 1% decrease in Housing, Amenities, Trade Value and Growth Speed.
Planet Devastation is caused by orbital bombardment and assault armies. Assault armies have a Collateral Damage modifier that determines how fast they cause Planetary Devastation. Defense armies do not cause any.
|Planet Devastation||Damage to armies||Kills pops||FTL inhibitors functional|
Planet Devastation is reduced monthly by 0.5% as long as the planet is no longer bombarded or invaded.
Defense armies are automatically recruited by certain buildings from the species working them and can be robotic or organic. They are stationed on planets and used to defend against enemy armies. While they are stronger one-for-one than assault armies, their static nature means that investment is necessary to fend off a concentrated attack. Their combat ability is also improved by certain technologies.
|Slave Overseer||2||Only available on planets with the Thrall World Specialization|
|Protector||3||Only available to biological Fallen Empires|
|Xeno-Keeper||2||Only available to the Enigmatic Observers Fallen Empire|
|Guardian||3||Only available to the Ancient Caretakers Fallen Empire|
The type of army recruited depends on the pop working the building that spawns them. Defense armies do not incur any upkeep beyond that of the building that creates their Job. Defense armies do not cause Collateral Damage.
|Army Type||Army Damage||Morale Damage||Health||Morale||Pop Species|
|Defense Army||2.25 - 4.50||2.25 - 4.50||250||250||Organic|
|Robotic Defense Army||1.50 - 3.00||1.50 - 3.00||250||immune||Robot|
|Drone Grid||1.65 - 3.30||1.65 - 3.30||220||immune||Machine Unit|
An empire can recruit armies of any species that is present within its borders, as long as there are members of that species living on the planet which the army is recruited from. Unlike Defense Armies, they are based in space and each recruited army will board a transport ship. Transport ships are unarmed but automatically upgraded with the latest defense components.
The amount of armies an empire can build from a species is limited to the number of pops of that species living within the empire. Titanic beasts are limited to three per empire and lost armies cannot be replaced.
As armies fight battles they will increase in rank, improving their stats based on their experience points. Armies get +2 experience points each time they deal damage and +1 when they take it. Armies recruited on planets with a Military Academy, Mercenary Liaison Office or War factory are granted 100 experience points and therefore start out as Experienced.
|Regular||0 - 100||None|
|Experienced||100 - 1000|| +10% Damage|
|Veteran||1000 - 10000|| +20% Damage|
|Elite||≥ 10000|| +40% Damage|
Orbital bombardment occurs when a fleet is in orbit around a hostile planet, and is generally a precursor to invasion. Genocidal empires can even opt to skip the invasion entirely and simply exterminate all life on the surface. Orbital bombardment causes damage to any defensive army but also Planetary Devastation. Effectiveness is based on the Fleet Size of fleet in orbit. At least 10 Fleet Size is required to perform orbital bombardment at all, and maximum effectiveness is reached at 100 Fleet Size. Orbital bombardment damage is reduced by 50% if the world has a a Planetary Shield Generator, which also cannot be destroyed by it.
Each pop killed by Orbital Bombardment lowers the opinion of every non Militarist empire, particularly Pacifist ones. Fallen Empires also ignore it, with the exception of the Benevolent Interventionists.