The Glow Worms are the answer to the question, “Can we have petrostates in Stellaris?”. The answer is yes, yes we can.
Of course in the far future of the Stellaris galaxy petro-chemicals are no longer the key energy commodity. A Stellaris petrostate will specialise in the production of Energy resources instead.
Since energy is also money in Stellaris for some reason, this could also be thought of as a gold mining state.
The Glow Worms hyper specialise in the production of energy. The energy is then used to buy all the other things they want using diplomatic trades and the galactic market. Consequently this empire is an example of a cash crop economy, where the crop is exactly cash. See my article on Stellaris economy types for more.
Of all the resources to specialise in energy is the best since it is also money in Stellaris. Using energy to barter in the market is most efficient because we will usually get hit by the market fee only once.
The magic of the Glow Worm build as an effective and rather pure petrostate lies in its species traits and the void dwellers origin.
Besides having the Void Dwellers trait, the Glow Worms have these traits: Ingenious, Phototropic, Strong and Nonadaptive.
Ingenious is a bonus to energy from jobs. Phototropic, which requires plantoid or fungoid appearance, replaces half of food upkeep with energy. Strong makes workers a little better. Nonadaptive is a small malus to habitability which is inconsequential to void dwellers.
Phototropic might seem counter-productive, eating the profit, but since they are better at producing energy than food it makes sense to trade some food upkeep for energy. It will mean less food to buy from the market.
One major obstacle with any cash crop economy based on basic resources like energy, minerals and food is finding sufficient districts of the right type and matching it to species habitability.
Starting with orbital habitats is handy because if we build them from some gas giants or some molten worlds we can build Energy Districts in them. Of course habitats are only small worlds but we can have as many of them as we like. This greatly lifts the potential for specialist production since we are not constrained by the vagaries of planetary habitation.
Energy habitats are little more limited than mineral habitats because most system energy resources tend to be on stars. We can not build habitats out of stars, only from uninhabitable planets and these yield minerals rather than energy more often.
Most of our pops will be in technicians jobs which are worker tier. Consequently Authoritarian is preferred over Egalitarian. Authoritarian also divvies out extra influence and that can help us get system claims and build habitats.
As this is an economy build rather than a military build, pacifist would work. I went with Spiritualist for the unity and edicts. Unity, like research, are not resources we can buy from the market. It makes sense then to make pops not engaged in making energy to be making unity or research.
We really do not need robots for this build, so I leaned away from Materialist. Although robots could be useful for exploiting planetary energy resources that our void dwellers can not touch. This would be using the droid colony tactic.
Xenophile would be okay, but the bonus to trade is not that useful for us and neither do we have that much use for envoys. Xenophobe might be better although that will limit our use of diplomatic trades.
There are no civics that really leap out as necessary or useful. If we go authoritarian then we can use Stratified living standards. Aristocratic Elite lets us have a few more ruler jobs that increase stability. Rulers love stratified living standards.
Functional Architecture is just a generally good civic. Cheaper districts and an extra building slot is useful for anyone.
The key technologies for this build will be the techs under Physics that boost energy workers output and unlock the Energy Grid and Energy Nexus buildings. We can increase the chances of rolling them with a Field Modulation specialist leading research and by adopting the Prosperity tree.
That is it for the Glow Worm build. Do you think it can make as much money as the similar Ancapistan build which specialises in trade rather than energy?