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Land warfare

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This article is for the PC version of Stellaris only.
Although second to space battles, ground warfare is a vital aspect of many wars.

Armies are ground forces for invading and defending planets as well as handling out of control rebellions.



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 built on. Transports are generated automatically as armies are embarked. New assault armies automatically embark in transports if the planet has reached maximum capacity. A planet can hold as many armies as its size.

The amount of non-defensive 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.

Army Type Cost Time Army Damage Morale Damage Health Morale Maintenance Requirements Description
  Militia free free 0.75 - 1.50 0.56 - 1.12 150 150 none Starter Each planet has a defending Militia, whose size depends on the number of Pops. Garrisons cannot be transported.
  Defense Army  30  60 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 200 200  0.15 Starter Defensive armies are powerful, but cannot be transported from the planet.
  Assault Army  60  90 1.72 - 3.45 1.98 - 3.96 230 230  0.33 Starter Assault armies come with their own transports and can invade other planets.
  Elite Guard Army


 115 2.62 - 5.25 4.59 - 9.18 350 350  0.50
  • Despotic Hegemony or Illuminated Autocracy government
  • Each ruler can only recruit one Elite Guard Army
The ruler's personal elite guard force.
  Slave Army  20  60 1.73 - 3.45 1.73 - 3.45 230 200  0.25 Slave soldiers who serve their masters on the battlefield. Most are conscripted by force, but many slaves volunteer in a desperate attempt to increase their food rations or escape from grueling labor.
  Clone Army  60  30 1.88 - 3.75 2.34 - 4.69 250 250  0.33 Vat-grown clones that reach adulthood in a matter of months. With a natural lifespan of less than a decade, their lack of personal initiative is deemed an acceptable trade-off for their total obedience to officers.
  Robotic Defense Army  8
 60 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 340 immune  0.23   Droids tech Cold and heartless killing-machines designed only for war. They pursue their objectives relentlessly, and are impervious to the shattering effects of poor morale that so often plague organic combat units.
  Robotic Assault Army  15
 90 1.65 - 3.30 1.65 - 3.30 400 immune  0.50   Droids tech Cold and heartless killing-machines designed only for war. They pursue their objectives relentlessly, and are impervious to the shattering effects of poor morale that so often plague organic combat units.
  Android Defense Army  10
 80 1.88 - 3.75 2.34 - 4.69 434 immune  0.45   Synthetics tech Semi-autonomous cogs in a well-oiled war machine, android combatants are more resilient, aggressive, and responsive to changing battlefield conditions than their robotic predecessors.
  Android Assault Army  20
 120 3.00 - 6.00 3.00 - 6.00 500 immune  1.00   Synthetics tech Semi-autonomous cogs in a well-oiled war machine, android combatants are more resilient, aggressive, and responsive to changing battlefield conditions than their robotic predecessors.
  Psionic Army  50
 360 3.00 - 6.00 7.89 - 15.75 350 600  1.00   Telepathy Soldiers gifted with psionic abilities. Their focus on destructive psionic powers has led to drastically different tactics and strategies on the battlefield – their first objective is always to remove the enemy's willingness to fight.
  Gene Warrior Army  50
 360 3.00 - 6.00 6.00 - 12.00 400 400  1.00   Gene Seed Purification Genetically enhanced super soldiers. Recruits are typically chosen from the elite of the conventional military forces. These then undergo extensive gene therapy, and are made larger, stronger, and faster than their peers.
  Xenomorph Army  25
 360 3.75 - 7.50 3.75 - 7.50 400 200  0.75   Morphogenetic Field Mastery Ravenous hordes of bio-engineered horrors made up of little more than teeth, claws, and an instinctive urge to kill. A cadre of scientists monitor and supervise the raging swarms as best they can from hardened bunkers behind the front.
  Titanic Beast  50
 90 4.50 - 9.00 4.50 - 9.00 1000 400  0.80 Titanic Lifeforms Planet Event Chain Research breakthroughs have enabled us to train Titanic Lifeforms into military units, but due to the rarity of suitable subjects we will be only field a limited number of these Armies at a time.

Army Type Cost Time Army Damage Morale Damage Health Morale Maintenance Requirements Description
  Avatar event event 3.00 - 6.00 9.00 - 18.00 1400 800 none gained from a Shroud event A colossal warrior from the Shroud that has been forged out of pure psionic energy.

  Machine Intelligence empires cannot build armies used by organic species, not even robotic or android armies. Instead they have their own set of armies. While their armies do have morale, it is far too high to ever be depleted.

Army Type Cost Time Army Damage Morale Damage Health Morale Maintenance Requirements Description
  Refitted Workbots free free 0.75 - 1.50 0.56 - 1.12 150 2000 none Starter Industrial and service robots that have been hastily refitted with weapon systems to defend against invasion.
  Drone Grid  30  60 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 200 2000  0.15 Starter These autonomous sentinel drones will incessantly patrol their assigned sectors. Though lightly armed and not very intelligent, they are legion.
  Hunter-Killer Army  60  90 1.72 - 3.45 1.98 - 3.96 230 2000  0.33 Starter Mass-produced tracked war machines designed to seek out and destroy everything that has been designated as an enemy.
  Seeker Grid


 80 2.25 - 4.50 2.81 - 5.62 460 2000  0.45   Adaptive Combat Algorithms These upgraded sentinel drones are far more powerful and intelligent that older versions.
  Battle Frame Army  20
 100 2.25 - 4.50 3.37 - 6.75 500 2000  0.60   Adaptive Combat Algorithms Large, bipedal warbots that are surprisingly fast and mobile given the heavy armaments they carry. They are quite intelligent and renowned for the insidious tactics they often employ.
  Mega-Warform  50
 360 3.00 - 6.00 6.00 - 12.00 600 2000  1.00   Biomechanics This single colossal warform towers over the battlefield and its massed firepower exceeds that of most armies. Bringing one of these behemoths down is extremely difficult.


Ground combat takes place between several assaulting armies and the planet's defending armies. The latter are composed of any standing armies present on the planet as well as a number of free but weak garrisons. The base number of garrison units is 2, increased by 0.4 for each population over 1.

The damage dealt by attacking armies is multiplied by a modifier based on the planet's fortifications. At 100% fortification, damage dealt to defending armies will be decreased by 95%; whilst at 0% fortification damage to defending army is doubled. It is therefore highly advisable to only start landing once the fortification level is reduced by orbital bombardment, unless there is a considerable advantage for the attacker. The total amount of fortification is again based on population, starting at 1000 and is increased by 100 per pop above 1.

Each army has health and morale, as well as a range of possible damage against both these values. This damage is dealt to a random enemy army once a day until either side runs out of armies. If an army's morale is depleted, their damage dealt is reduced by 75%. If their health is depleted, they are destroyed. Once all armies of one side have lost all their health that side loses the battle.

Landed armies cannot disembark if there are no pops alive on the planet. This can be caused by losing the planet to the abandon war goal or purging all pops on the planet. The Number of Armies that can be stationed on a planet equal the Planet Size. The attacker has no limitations, other than how many armies they can muster.


Attachments are modules that enhance armies. They are unlocked by researching technology and bought and equipped individually to single armies. In order to outfit an army with modules, it must be landed on a planet. While on basic armies they're not worth the cost, on advanced armies they can prove useful.

Attachment Cost Effects Requirements Description
  Neo-concrete fortifications   50
  •   +10% Army health
  •   –10% Army upkeep
Extensive layers of neo-concrete ground fortifications and bunker networks that offer increased protection against orbital bombardment. This restricts the mobility of the army, but can be a deciding factor in defensive actions.
  Hunter-killer drone swarms   50   +15% Army damage Massive swarms of these relatively simply unmanned aerial vehicles are unleashed on enemy positions in the hope of overwhelming them. Although a single drone may not be a significant threat to a trained soldier, several dozen are.
  Commissar squads
  •   +15% Army damage
  •   +10% Army morale
  Will to power Enforcing discipline in an army of slaves is monumental task, but these squads of hardened commissars have turned it into an art. Decimation and other harsh disciplinary actions are used to ensure the slaves fear the ire of the commissars more than the enemy.
  PSI warriors
  •   +10% Army damage
  •   +15% Morale damage
  Psionic Theory These elite warriors are shrouded in mystery, relying on their powerful psionic abilities and extensive physical training to move about the battlefield. They prefer to engage their opponents in close combat, and many are extremely proficient with melee weapons.
  Xeno cavalry
  •   +10% Army damage
  •   +15% Army health
  Morphogenetic Field Mastery These sturdy war beasts make excellent mounts, once they have finished bonding with their riders. They can traverse almost any terrain, and have proven very effective in scouting and raiding roles. Larger specimens have also been used with success as heavy weapons platforms.
  Clone commandos   +25% Army damage   Gene Banks These vat-grown killers are expensive to produce, but the extreme conditioning and training they are subjected to turn them into very capable soldiers. They are more independent-minded than normal clones, and some models have been known to develop eccentric quirks.
  Combat software 1.1   50   +15% Army damage   Machine Intelligence A comprehensive upgrade to the combat software of all units in this army. This includes improved reaction-times, updated tactical analysis algorithms and a vast number of minor bug fixes.
  Combat software 2.0   +25% Army damage
  •   Machine Intelligence
  •   Adaptive Combat Algorithms
The ultimate in combat software, specifically designed to counter the unorthodox and unpredictable tactics the organics often employ. The heavy strain this puts on processor units necessitates new and improved coolant systems.


Transports are ships transporting an army from a planet where it is based to a planet it aims to invade. Defense armies cannot be transported.

Unlike other ships, Transports are not built in the spaceport (although they can be modified through the ship designer and subsequently upgraded at spaceports), they are found under the armies tab located on one of the planets you control. The defensive army units can not be embarked from planets. Assault Armies will board transport ships in a 1:1 ratio and can either be embarked from or deployed to a planet all at once or individually through right-clicking an individual unit. Once an army is disembarked, dropships will carry it to the planet's surface.

In addition, transport ships may be required if an event is triggered within the Situation Log, for example, should armies need to board a ship that has been damaged in battle to inspect the remains/look for survivors or whatever the event dictates you need to do.

Use for Army types

There are a whole bunch of army types in the game. Each one has a specific purpose.

  • Militia / Refitted Workbots spawn for free, based on the number of population on the planet. They are always of the primary species, take up no slots and cost no maintenance. They spawn on occupied planets to help the occupier. On their own, Garrisons are little more than speed bumps. However they can work as useful damage sponges for the real defensive armies. This use is compounded by them despawning and fully healing between assaults.
  • Assault Armies / Hunter-Killer Armies are the kind you will use to attack planets, unless you have and can afford a better army. When they are not needed in space, they can operate as a useful defensive army as well. However they are usually too expensive for that on a large scale.
  • Defense Armies / Grids are the significantly cheaper brother of the Assault Armies. They can not be moved off planet and are also inferior in any way to Assault Armies (however the Garrison should not be forgotten in that calculation). They are outclassed against any more advanced army. However the combination of the low maintenance and not counting against the assault army cap makes them excellent at suppressing unrest.
  • Slave Armies are a special kind of Assault armies for Slaver Empires. They are cheaper while offering nearly the same performance as Assault armies. If they have access to them, Slavers should usually use them over Assault Armies.
  • Clone Armies while having the same Build and Maintenance cost as normal Assault Armies, these are superior in Production time and combat ability. If available they can effortlessly replace Assault Armies.
  • Robot Armies / Droid Armies These are special armies available for Empires going along the AI Robotics path. While they can be recruited just by having the next technology and are quite powerful, they cost a minor premium in energy maintenance. Their most special feature is that they are immune to morale damage. They are not affected by the AI policy selection and do not need any population to recruit them from. AI rebellions will use them exclusively.
  • Psionics Armies / Gene Warrior Armies / Mega-Warforms costly but highly effective armies that are especially effective at damaging enemy morale. Fallen Empires will use these armies almost exclusively.
  • Xenomorph Armies are basically barely controllable Zerg Broods. The most powerful normal army you can employ when it comes to raw damage and a benefit of going for the Genetic Engineering line.

Special Armies

These armies can only be gained based on a Special Projects or event.

  • Titanic Beast Armies Only can be recruited on planets with Titanic Life modifier. A maximum 3 armies of this kind can be recruited in the entire game (a better limitation is not possible based on the Script limitations). They are stronger than xenomorph armies.
  • Titanic Guard Army A special kind of Garrison army that spawns upon completing the quest that allows Titanic Beast Armies. A minor trade-off for getting the quest multiple times.
  • Avatar Basically a one entity army, it is by far the most resilient and scary. Its health will ensure it survives every battle as long as supported by other armies, especially since enemy armies lose morale if as much as the avatar looks at them.
  • Primitive Army / Industrial Army / Post Atomic Army A special kind of army only Pre-FTL Species possess. Performance is even inferior to garrisons, while they operate like them. They may stay around upon a species learning FTL travel, taking up valuable slots. If deciding on conquering a Pre-FTL planet, Industrial and especially Post Atomic armies should not be underestimated; while nevertheless inferior to regular army types, their numbers should not be shrugged off.
  • Swarm Army Only used by the Swarm Crisis, this army is only outclassed by Gene warrior Army and about equal to the 2nd Robot Army.
  • Rebel Army These armies are spawned by Faction revolts. Their Performance is under that of even Defense armies and in part even Garrisons. However they will be quite Numerous (1 per pop). They should despawn after winning the fight.
  • Rebel Slave Army Will only spawn on Malcontent Slave Faction Revolts. Their power is somewhere slightly above defensive Armies. They will operate as defensive armies after victory.
  • Mutant Horror This army may be spawned as part of a terraforming related Event Chain. It is superior to Clone Armies.