Stellaris Tactics – Migration Magnet

June 13, 2022 by Solar Cross


You may have heard it said for Stellaris that “Pops are power”. Well there is more than one way to get power, but growing large populations certainly is one path there.

To out grow the competition in population growth one can certainly just try beating them with sheer fertility. However to really grow at a rival’s expense we need to steal their pops away as well as produce our own.

The go-to ways of stealing pops in Stellaris is of course the conquest of planets and slave raiding. But what if you are playing the nice guys? What if you are pacifist or xenophile? Is there not a nice way to steal pops? Well yes, as it happens, there is.

It is possible to build an empire that does a dogooder equivalent to that of nihilistic acquisition. You make your empire so attractive to foreign pops that Migration Treaties do more than merely trade diversity they actually leech population growth from the other party to the treaty.

Also whenever pops are dispossessed by war or genocide your civilisation will be the number one choice for refugees.

Recipe for a Migration Magnet

The first step to creating a migration magnet is to understand the migration mechanics of Stellaris.

Migration is calculated by subtracting emigration push from immigration pull, both of which are determined by factors such as housing, stability and unemployment. A planet with more emigration than immigration will have its growth speed lowered and the amount lowered will be added to potential immigration targets. Planets with higher immigration pull will receive a greater share of this migration, which is converted directly into pop growth. Signing a migration treaty will allow migration to and from another empire’s planets. A newly colonized planet gains +100 immigration pull and divides a total of +50 emigration push between all developed planets, until 15 years have passed or the colony has 10  pops.

– Stellaris wiki #migration

In short we want our immigration pull to be very high and we want to be in migration treaties. Ideally we want our developed planets to retain a positive immigration pull even while we have new colonies. This way more of the pull will be felt by foreign empires rather than our own cities.

There are a number of things we can do siphon off pop growth from our treaty members.

Base Immigration Pull for a planet is made of free jobs and high stability. New Colonies also get a substantial +100 to immigration pull while putting some emigration push onto other more developed planets. Unemployment also adds to Emmigration Push.

On top of that, base Immigration Pull can be further magnified by a number of multipliers.

Planets with higher Immigration Pull than Emmigration Push will have their pop growth rate increased at the expense of planets with emmigration for which they are a valid migration target.

The greater the immigration pull a planet has, the larger the share of pop growth it will get from the emmigration planets.

This means if we can have some planets with a greater immigration pull than that of our migration pact members, we will effectively siphon off population growth from them.

Emmigration Push is created by two main circumstances, unemployment and newly founded colonies. In the case of newly founded colonies the number to beat is +100. If our planets are valid migration targets and have greater Immigration Pull then the pop growth of the rival’s new colony will go to us instead.

Valid Migration Target

Besides high Immigration Pull our migration magnet also needs to be a valid migration target for the emmigrating planet. A valid migration target is one with suitable habitability for migrating species and connected by migration treaty.

Refugees are Welcome

Besides the migration mechanics there is also the refugee mechanic that we can use for the migration magnet.

Refugees are generated by purges, slavery, resettlement and land appropriation. Once generated these pops will spontaneously resettle somewhere else in the galaxy.

Refugees are not that fussy though, all we need to catch them is good habitability for that species of refugee, spare housing and the refugees welcome policy.

Certain pops with no freewill like robots, drones and zombies will not become refugees. Also no refugee will go to an empire where their status will be “undesirables”. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Triangulating on the Ideal Migration Magnet

So a migration magnet planet wants to have:


Democracy is a good government type for a migration magnet. The bonus to automatic resettlement means that our planets will spend less time in unemployment and therefore contributing to Emigration Push.

We can also use automatic resettlement to help push pops out of our migration magnets to our less attractive worlds. We can do this by temporarily closing our migration treaties then rolling back the all the spare jobs on our migration magnet planets while creating jobs on the lesser worlds.

Automatic Settlement will then distribute the pops out, subject to habitability.


Xenophile Ethics helps with getting migration treaties and the xenophile faction’s preferred policies are symbiotic with a migration magnet’s policies. Xenophile’s also can access to the Land of Opportunity edict which boosts Immigration Pull.

Egalitarian Ethics helps with stability through access to the Utopian Living Standards. It also allows the use of the Encourage Political Thought edict. This edict increases the chance of a pop’s ethics to shift. Incoming pops, especially refugees, can bring with them ethics that are oppositional to our empire.

Given we will be granting Full Citizenship to everyone this can have a disruptive effect on happiness, stability and faction unity output. Running the Encourage Political Thought alongside other ethic attractors such as promoted factions and edicts like Peace Festivals can help speed up harmonious assimilation of the newcomers.

Pacifist Ethics has the benefit of a general buff to stability and a reduction to empire size from pops. It also allows the Peace Festivals edict. One downside of pacifist ethics is that it makes founding a federation a little more challenging due to the adverse opinion modifiers for not having the unrestricted wars policy.


There are three civics which are potent for a migration magnet: Free Haven, Beacon of Liberty and Idealistic Foundation.

Free Haven is the strongest as it specifically applies a substantial multiplier to Immigration Pull and to the pop growth from migration. Most Immigration Pull multipliers are widely available, so because this multiplier is tied to a civic it will allow the Free Haven empire to attain the highest Immigration Pull among its treaty partners.

Beacon of Liberty helps by increasing unity output which helps with paying for all the useful edicts like Land of Opportunity, Diplomatic Grants, Peace Festivals etc. It also reduces empire size due to pops.

Finally Idealist Foundation increases citizen population happiness. This will feed our Immigration Pull because citizen happiness increases stability.

Implications for Diplomatic Weight

Since having lots of happy citizen pops is both a means and fruit of the migration magnet tactic, it is well to note that happy pops count towards Diplomatic Weight much more than unhappy pops (such as slaves) and pops that have no happiness at all like drones and robots.

Consequently a migration magnet strategy is a good support for a diplomatic strategy, focused on the Federation building and the Galactic Community. Federations are also a potential source of free migration treaties.

Primary Species Traits

The primary species will soon become a minority amongst a great diversity of species. To maximise happiness we will want to be permissive with offering citizenship.

This diminishes the scope for practicing Leader Pool Hygiene. Consequently the primary species of a migration magnet should not bother with good leader traits. Our leader pool will soon fill up with other species.

By using the clerk spam tactic to create high amenities and lots of free jobs it will makes sense to have a thrifty and charismatic primary species. This is even better with the shattered ring world origin, see below.


Having at least some planets with universal habitability is crucial for an effective migration magnet. In the early game this is possible through certain origins: Shattered Ring, Remnants, Life Seeded and Void Dwellers.

Shattered Ring is especially good because it is a high capacity planet with trade districts. The limiting ring world habitability for our primary species is not so much of a problem for a migration magnet too.

Ring World habitability will mean that our primary species will not find valid migration targets in other empires. This while the ethnic diversity we achieve through migration treaties will still allow us to colonise planets.


Mercantile is a good fit because of how important free jobs are. Mercantile allows extra merchant jobs for Trade Districts and Commercial Buildings. Even without mercantile commercial buildings are good for creating spare jobs because unlike any other basic building at game start it creates 3 jobs.

Some do not like clerk jobs because their output is generally less than that of other worker jobs. However the point of spare jobs is to bait in migrants, not necessarily to actually be worked. To the extent that the clerk jobs are worked they will also increase amenities which contributes to happiness and consequently also stability.

The Mercantile tradition plus spamming trade district and commercial building means lots of productive merchants and lots of spare clerk jobs available to attract migrants.

The Diplomacy tradition helps with getting and keeping migration treaties as well as building federations. It will also help to boost up diplomatic weight.

The Prosperity tradition tree is worth a look for the extra housing and clerk jobs. All to the good for attracting migrants.

The Harmony tradition has a range of useful benefits including: extra stability, governing ethics attraction, edict funds and reduction on empire size due to pops.


A migration magnet synergises with a general diplomatic build so it makes sense to found or get into a federation. Pursuing the mercantile tradition will suggest founding a Trade Federation.

However a box standard Galactic Union has some advantages over a Trade Federation for a migration magnet. Galactic Unions suffer less from loss of cohesion due to divergent ethics and failed votes.

This allows them to have more members and still develop. More members will help with getting more migration treaties.

Ideal Migration Magnet Empire Build

Quti Freeport Commonwealth Build Summary

So there it is a comprehensive guide to the migration magnet tactic for those Mr. Nice Guy players.

Share this article to my twitter @SolarCrossGames or my reddit community r/SolarCrossGames and let’s chat about it.

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