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 five plus one-fifth of the Planet Size.png planet size. Armies not engaged in combat will be placed a row behind the fighting armies and replace any killed army.

General.png Generals are leaders who command armies and give them bonuses. However, Generals have a 5% chance to die whenever one of their armies is killed.

Most armies have a morale value, and once morale drops low enough the army will be negatively affected with the following modifiers:

Morale Perc. Penalty
50% < Mod army damage mult.png −25% Army damage
0% Mod army damage mult.png −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

Devastation.png Devastation Damage Damage to armies Job purge.png Kills pops FTL magnet.png FTL inhibitors D huge tree.png Tree of Life
0%-24.9% 50% No.png Functional Alive
25%-49.9% 100% Yes.png Functional Alive
50%-74.9% 100% Yes.png Disabled Destroyed
75%-100% 200% Yes.png Disabled Destroyed

Planet devastation is a measure of how much damage has been caused to the planet's infrastructure. It goes from 0 to 100% and 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 jobs, Upkeep upkeep from Jobs, Mod pop growth speed.png growth speed and Immigration pull 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 recovers by 0.05% daily if planet is not being invaded or bombarded.

Defense armies

Defense armies are automatically recruited by certain jobs based on the species working that job 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 and their loss does not cause War Exhaustion, their static nature means that investment is necessary to fend off a concentrated attack. Their combat ability is also improved by certain technologies.

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.

Type Mod army damage mult.png Base Damage Morale Damage Mod army health.png Health Mod army morale.png Morale Source
Army defense.png Defense Army 2.25 - 4.50 2.25 - 4.50 250 250 Organic Job colonist.png+1 Job enforcer.png+2 Job patrol drone.png+2 Job soldier.png+3
Army defense m.png Robotic Defense Army 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 250 Immune Trait mechanical.png Robot Job colonist.png+1 Job enforcer.png+2 Job patrol drone.png+2 Job soldier.png+3
Army undead.png Undead Defense Army 2.25 - 4.50 3.93 - 7.87 350 Immune Organic Job colonist.png+1 Job enforcer.png+2 Job patrol drone.png+2 Job soldier.png+3 Job necromancer.png+3
Replaces normal organic defence armies if at least one Job necromancer.png necromancer is present
Army xenomorph.png Offspring-Led Army 2.62 - 5.25 3.41 - 6.82 400 Immune Origins progenitor hive.png Progenitor Hive Job patrol drone.png+2 Job soldier.png+3
Army defense m.png Drone Grid 1.65 - 3.30 1.65 - 3.30 220 Immune Machine unit.png Machine Unit Job patrol drone.png+2 Job soldier.png+3
Army defense m.png Sentinels 6.00 - 12.00 30.00 - 60.00 1400 Immune Archaeology map icon.png Archaeology site event outcome
Army undead.png Crystalline Bane 52.50 - 105.00 2625.00 - 5250.00 11000 Immune Unexpected Mineral Seams

Assault armies

An empire can recruit assault armies on a planet based on the species living there. The species must not have Military Service Exempt Military Service rights in order to recruit an army from that species. An empire cannot recruit more assault armies from a species than the total number of pops of that species living in the empire, with the exception of Army clone.png Clone Armies. Armies not tied to a species, such as the Army xenomorph.png Xenomorph Army are unlimited as well unless otherwise specified.

Unlike Defense Armies, assault armies 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. Assault armies can be ordered to land on an owned planet to provide additional defense against invasion.

Type Cost Time Time Energy.png Upkeep Mod army damage mult.png Base Damage Morale Damage Devastation.png Collateral Damage Mod army health.png Health Mod army morale.png Morale Mod country war exhaustion.png War exhaustion Requirements Species
Army assault.png Assault Army Minerals.png 100 90 1 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 100% 200 200 100% Biological
Army slave.png Slave Army Minerals.png 50 60 0.5 1.50 - 3.00 1.12 - 2.25 150% 200 150 50% Building Slave Processing Facility Biological (enslaved)
Army clone.png Clone Army Minerals.png 75 30 0.75 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 125% 200 200 50% Tech gene banks.png Gene Banks Biological
Army robotic.png Robotic Assault Army Minerals.png 150 90 1.5 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 150% 400 Immune 50% Droids Droids
Menu icon policies.png Robotic Workers Allowed
Army psionic.png Psionic Army Minerals.png 250 120 2.5 3.00 - 6.00 4.50 - 9.00 50% 350 500 300% Tech telepathy.png Telepathy Biological (psionic with Utopia)
Army xenomorph.png Xenomorph Army Minerals.png 200 100 2 3.00 - 6.00 6.00 - 12.00 500% 400 Immune 25% Tech morphogenetic field mastery.png Morphogenetic Field Mastery None
Army gene warrior.png Gene Warrior Army Minerals.png 300 150 3 3.00 - 6.00 3.00 - 6.00 75% 500 500 300% Tech gene seed purification.png Gene Seed Purification Biological
Army undead.png Undead Army Energy.png 100 60 0.75 1.50 - 3.00 2.40 - 4.80 125% 200 Immune 50% Job necromancer.png Necromancer jobs Biological
Army assault m.png Hunter-Killer Army Minerals.png 100 90 1 1.50 - 3.00 1.50 - 3.00 200% 200 Immune 50% Auth machine intelligence.png Machine Intelligence Robot
Army assault m.png Battle Frame Army Minerals.png 200 120 2 2.25 - 4.50 3.00 - 6.00 200% 500 Immune 100% Auth machine intelligence.png Machine Intelligence
Tech adaptive combat algorithms.png Adaptive Combat Algorithms
Army assault m.png Mega-Warform Minerals.png 800 500 8 6.00 - 12.00 9.00 - 18.00 400% 1200 Immune 400% Auth machine intelligence.png Machine Intelligence
Tech biomechanics.png Biomechanics
Army assault m.png Cybrex Warform Alloys.png 250 500 8 7.50 - 15.00 15.00 - 30.00 500% 1400 Immune 400% R war forge.png Cybrex War Forge relic
Can only be recruited on the capital
Army xenomorph.png Titanic Beast Minerals.png 300 90 1 4.50 - 9.00 9.00 - 18.00 300% 1000 600 200% Titanic Lifeforms event chain
Only 3 can be recruited
Army xenomorph.png Azizian Army Minerals.png 250
Energy.png 50
90 1 4.50 - 9.00 9.00 - 18.00 100% 1000 400 100% Ice Alien event chain
Only 3 can be recruited
Army imperial legion.png Imperial Legion Minerals.png 300 150 3 3.75 - 7.50 3.75 - 7.50 75% 600 600 300% GalacticEmpire mainButton.png Galactic Emperor
Resolution imperial institutions.png Imperial Legions resolution
Only 12 can be recruited
Army assault.png Mercenary Army Energy.png 120 0 2 1.65 - 3.30 1.65 - 3.30 250% 200 100 50% Overlord Mercenary enclave deal Biological
Army assault.png Mechanized Mercenary Army Energy.png 240 0 5 3.3 - 6.6 3.3 - 6.6 300% 360 200 50% Overlord Mercenary enclave deal Biological
Army psionic.png Psionic Avatar Event 0 0 7.50 - 15.00 15.00 - 30.00 100% 1400 Immune 500% Utopia.png Shroud event None
Army assault m.png Nanite Warform Event 0 0 15.00 - 30.00 90.00 - 180.00 500% 3600 Immune 400% Distant Stars.png A Quiet Stroll event None
Army undead.png Skeletal Giant Event 0 1.5 4.50 - 9.00 13.50 - 18.00 350% 1400 Immune 50% Civic reanimated armies.png Reanimators
Strange Mountain Formation anomaly

Army rank

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

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 damage. Army starting experience can be increased by +100 by each of the following:

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 armies as well as Devastation.png Devastation. Effectiveness is based on the Fleet Size of the fleet in orbit, where maximum effectiveness is reached at 200 Fleet Size.

Stance Planet damage Army damage Pop kill chance Other effects Requirements
Bombardment light.png Selective 50% 100% 25%
  • Does not kill the last 21 Pops
  • Does not bomb planets with no armies on it
Bombardment limited.png Indiscriminate 100% 150% 50%
  • Does not kill the last 11 Pops
No.pngPacifist.pngFanatic Pacifist.png Not Pacifist
Bombardment armageddon.png Armageddon 150% 200% 100%
  • If the last pop is killed, the planet becomes a Planet nuked.png Tomb World

One must be true:

  • Civic fanatic purifiers.png Fanatic Purifiers
  • Civic machine terminator.png Determined Exterminator
  • Become the Crisis Become the Crisis
Bombardment full.png Javorian Pox 20% 150% 150%
  • Does not kill Trait mechanical.png Mechanical Pops
  • If the last pop is killed, the planet becomes a Planet nuked.png Tomb World
R pox sample.png Javorian Pox Sample relic activation
No.pngPacifist.pngFanatic Pacifist.png Not Pacifist
Raiding bombardment.png Raiding 100% 50% 100%
  • Abducts pops instead of killing them
  • Species with Displacement, Neutering or Extermination species rights will still be killed
  • Does not cause Terror Bombing opinion if successfully abducted
  • Does not kill or abduct the last Pop
One must be true:
  • Civic barbaric despoilers.png Barbaric Despoilers
  • Ap nihilistic acquisition.png Nihilistic Acquisition

Orbital Bombardment Damage dealt to enemy planets can be increased by the following:

Source Damage
Overwhelming Force Overwhelming Force tradition +20%
Ship part orbital trash dispersal.png Orbital Trash Disperser component +25%
Ship part aura bombardment.png Munitions Plant juggernaut aura +30%
Crisis Lvl3 btn.png Crisis level 3 +20%

Orbital Bombardment Damage taken from enemy fleets can be reduced by the following:

Source Damage
Origins subterranean.png Subterranean origin −75%
Building shield generator.png Planetary Shield Generator building −50%
Survival Fittest Survival of the Fittest tradition −25%
Never Surrender Never Surrender tradition −25%
Job soldier.png Fortress World designation −10%
Spaceport 1.png Fortress Station designation −10%
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