Land warfare

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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.


Although secondary to space battles, ground warfare is a vital aspect of many wars.

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 a fifth of 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:

Morale Penalty
50% -25% Mod army damage mult.png Army Damage
0% -75% Mod army damage mult.png 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

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.png Housing, Amenities.png Amenities, Trade value.png Trade Value, Mod pop resource output.png Resources from Pop job.png Jobs, Upkeep Upkeep from Pop job.png Jobs, Mod pop growth req.png Growth Speed and Mod planet migration all pull.png Immigration Pull.

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
0% 50% No.png Yes.png
25% 100% Yes.png Yes.png
50% 100% Yes.png No.png
75% 200% Yes.png No.png

Planet Devastation is reduced monthly by 0.5% as long as the planet is no longer bombarded or invaded.

Defense armies

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.

Job Defense Armies Notes
Colonist 1
Enforcer 2
Soldier 3
Patrol Drone 2
Warrior Drone 3
Slave Overseer 2
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
Army defense.png Defense Army 2.25 - 4.50 2.25 - 4.50 250 250 Organic
Army defense m.png Robotic Defense Army 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 250 immune Robot
Army defense m.png Drone Grid 1.65 - 3.30 1.65 - 3.30 220 immune Machine Unit

Assault armies

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.

Army Type Cost Time Army Damage Morale Damage Collateral Damage Health Morale Maintenance Requirements Description
Army assault.png Assault Army Minerals.png100 Time90 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 100% 200 200 Energy Credits.png1.00 Starter Assault armies come with their own transports and can invade other planets.
Army slave.png Slave Army Minerals.png50 Time60 1.50 - 3.00 1.12 - 2.25 150% 200 150 Energy Credits.png0.50 Tech neural implants.png Neural Implants 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.
Army clone.png Clone Army Minerals.png75 Time30 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 125% 200 200 Energy Credits.png0.75 Tech gene banks.png Gene Banks 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.
Army robotic.png Robotic Assault Army Minerals.png150 Time90 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 150% 400 immune Energy Credits.png1.50 Tech droid workers.png Droids tech
Allowed Robotic Workers Policy
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.
Army psionic.png Psionic Army Minerals.png250 Time120 3.00 - 6.00 4.50 - 9.00 50% 350 500 Energy Credits.png2.50 Tech telepathy.png 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.
Army xenomorph.png Xenomorph Army Minerals.png200 Time100 3.00 - 6.00 6.00 - 12.00 500% 400 immune Energy Credits.png2.00 Tech morphogenetic field mastery.png 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.
Army gene warrior.png Gene Warrior Army Minerals.png300 Time150 3.00 - 6.00 3.00 - 6.00 75% 500 500 Energy Credits.png3.00 Tech gene seed purification.png 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.
Army assault m.png Hunter-Killer Army Minerals.png100 Time90 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 200% 200 immune Energy Credits.png1.00 Auth machine intelligence.png Machine Intelligence Mass-produced tracked war machines designed to seek out and destroy everything that has been designated as an enemy.
Army assault m.png Battle Frame Army Minerals.png200 Time120 2.25 - 4.50 3.00 - 6.00 200% 500 immune Energy Credits.png2.00 Auth machine intelligence.png Machine Intelligence
Tech adaptive combat algorithms.png 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.
Army assault m.png Mega-Warform Minerals.png800 Time500 6.00 - 12.00 9.00 - 18.00 400% 1200 immune Energy Credits.png8.00 Auth machine intelligence.png Machine Intelligence
Tech biomechanics.png 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.
Army xenomorph.png Titanic Beast Minerals.png300 Time90 4.50 - 9.00 9.00 - 18.00 300% 1000 600 Energy Credits.png1.00 Titanic Lifeforms event chain
Only up to 3 can be recruited
Research breakthroughs have enabled us to train Titanic Lifeforms into military units, but due to the rarity of suitable subjects we will be able to only field a limited number of these Armies at a time.
Army xenomorph.png Azizian Army Minerals.png250
Energy Credits.png50
Time90 4.50 - 9.00 9.00 - 18.00 100% 1000 400 Energy Credits.png1.00 Ice Alien event chain
Only up to 3 can be recruited
The Azizians make titanic murderous slugs, crushing their foes, secreting a sticky fluid.
Army psionic.png Psionic Avatar event event 7.50 - 15.00 15.00 - 30.00 100% 1400 immune none Utopia.png Shroud event A colossal warrior from the Shroud that has been forged out of pure psionic energy.
Army assault m.png Nanite Warform event event 15.00 - 30.00 90.00 - 180.00 500% 3600 immune none Distant Stars.png A Quiet Stroll event gray_army_desc

Army rank

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.

Rank Exp Points Effects
Regular 0 - 100 None
Experienced 100 - 1000 Mod army damage mult.png +10% Damage
Mod army morale.png +10% Morale
Veteran 1000 - 10000 Mod army damage mult.png +20% Damage
Mod army morale.png +20% Morale
Mod army health.png +10% Health
Elite ≥ 10000 Mod army damage mult.png +40% Damage
Mod army morale.png +40% Morale
Mod army health.png +20% Health

Orbital bombardment

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.png Fleet Size of the fleet in orbit. A fleet of at least 10 Fleet Size.png Fleet Size is required to perform orbital bombardment, and maximum effectiveness is reached at 100 Fleet Size.png Fleet Size. Orbital bombardment damage is reduced by 75% if the world has a Planetary Shield Generator.

Stance Planet damage Army damage Pop kill chance Other effects Requirements
Bombardment light.png Selective 50% 100% 25% (20 min) Will not bomb undefended planets None
Bombardment limited.png Indiscriminate 100% 150% 50% (10 min) Not Pacifist.pngFanatic Pacifist.png Pacifist
Bombardment armageddon.png Armageddon 150% 200% 100% If the last pop is killed, planet becomes a Trait pc nuked preference.png Tomb World Civic fanatic purifiers.png Fanatic Purifiers or Civic machine terminator.png Determined Exterminator
Bombardment full.png Javorian Pox 20% 150% 150% to biological Pops
0% to robot Pops
If the last pop is killed, planet becomes a Trait pc nuked preference.png Tomb World R pox sample.png Javorian Pox Sample relic activation
Raiding bombardment.png Raiding 100% 50% 100% (1 min) Abducts pops instead of killing them and does not cause Terror Bombing opinion Civic barbaric despoilers.png Barbaric Despoilers civic or Ap nihilistic acquisition.png Nihilistic Acquisition ascension perk
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