Pops are power, but no pops pop more power than Poop pops pop power. Now say that ten times fast.
Tremble before the mighty reproductive power of the unflushable Poopshat Effluvia. The odorous essence of this build is in stacking massive reproductive power over as many planets as possible for maximum pop power.
Take another look at the Poopshat flag. When you see it, you see it.
I probably focus too much on tall builds so I thought I would try my hand at a wide build instead, a really wide build. These bois are wide bois. “Wide” in the sense of pushing hard on Empire Size. See my article about Tall vs Wide for more about the differences between Tall and Wide playstyles.
It is not particularly realistic but Gestalt Consciousnesses in Stellaris are generally better for wide builds. Light lag would be crippling for Hive Minds in real life. Nevermind, realism is always the first thing thrown out the airlock in science fiction!
Machines Intelligences grow pops slow but do not worry about habitability. Organic Hive Minds are impeded by habitability but are peerless in terms of pop production.
Gestalts have to be good at wide because of their limitations at diplomacy. Their pops are have less potential for excellence too because happiness is not a factor. Quantity can make up for lack of quality.
The Poopshat build is all about massive pop growth and decent adaptability so we can use more planets earlier. Poopshat pops might not be super productive at science or mining but they are great for making more Poopshat pops. Many tentacles make light work.
For this reason this build will be an organic Hive Mind. Hive Minds get a solid +25% to population growth (better than Fanatical Xenophobe). They also get a helpful -25% to Empire Size. The wider you play the more benefit of reduction modifiers to Empire Size.
That is not the whole story for Hive Mind pop growth. Hive Minds grow pops like regular organics but at the same time they can assemble pops like machine intelligences by building a spawning pool. This is where the Budding species trait is great.
You might be wondering why use Budding for species trait instead of Rapid Breeders. Rapid Breeders is fine but Budding works a little differently. Rapid Breeders is a percentage modifier on population growth. Budding adds a small amount of population assembly per pop on the planet. This means budding gets stronger the more populated the planet is.
We already have percentage modifiers on growth from Hive Mind and the Tree of Life Origin. More is better but Budding does something for our other source of pops which is pop assembly. It does quite a lot too.
Rapid Breeders will give an extra 0.6 to population growth per planet making those pops. Budding can add as much as 2 to pop assembly for a mature planet, though it is weaker for new colonies. New colonies however would have a Spawning Pool for pop assembly. Budding will give us pop assembly even without buildings such as the Spawning Pool or Cloning Vat.
So with Budding, once a planet is nearing its limit we can free up the building slots used by pop assembly buildings while still getting pop assembly.
Since we are talking species traits let us look over the others and their strategic implications.
Adaptive is obviously to let us get breeding on more planets earlier. It loses its usefulness once we get the ability to terraform planets though.
If you do not like Adaptive consider using Docile instead. Docile reduces Empire Size from pops so that will do something for us all game long. Then again you can always add Docile later if we take the Biological Ascension path.
Communal can save us from building so many Housing Districts. We get some free housing from the Tree of Life, so we can do without it.
To balance out the useful traits we have Repugnant and Sedentary. Neither matter too much because we will be going hard down the Biological Ascension path and will be removed soon enough.
Repugnant makes our amenity jobs less productive. Amenities do not do that much for us as a Hive Mind. We want to have only enough of stay over 50% stability. I use up a building slot for a Hive Warren to get some amenities that do not come from jobs. Also the Ascetic Civic we will take reduces pop amenity usage. Using Hive Warrens in combo with Ascetic reduces the need for jobs that produce amenities. More on Ascetic later.
Sedentary makes our pops a little more expensive to resettle. All our pops will be much like another though. There is not so much need to resettle except to get a colony started faster. Then we can let Budding take over to fill it up.
Also the Subsumed Will civic we will take completely waives the Unity cost of resettlement. We probably care more about the Unity cost than the energy cost.
Sedentary also adversely affects population growth from immigration but with all our powerful pro-natal powers that hardly matters at all.
The main reason for taking Subsumed Will is for the reduction to Empire Size from pops. This will do a lot for us given that most of our Empire Size will be from pops. It also gives us a slightly large Edicts fund. This helps because Edict cost is one of the things that scales with Empire Size.
The other starting civic is Ascetic. I have already mentioned the main benefit of Ascetic, it reduces amenity usage. It also gives us a +5% benefit to Habitability which together with Adaptive gives us +15%. Not enough of a benefit to make us like robots but enough to make a go of a larger range of planets in the early game.
Once we can terraform we can swap out this civic for something else. Once we have succeeded in grabbing dozens and dozens of planets then we might look at Divided Attention for the hefty reduction to Empire Size from planets.
Expansionism is the key early Tradition. This is not just for its own advantages but because it also increases the odds of drawing tech options for obtaining Terrestrial Sculpting and Climate Restoration. We will want these techs to unlock the Hive World Ascension Perk. Hive Worlds will do all sorts of good for us, see later.
After Expansionism, for economy: Adaptability, Domination, Prosperity, Synchronicity and Harmony. For war: Supremacy and Unyielding.
I would not bother with Subterfuge. As a Hive Mind we start out with a good resilience to enemy Infiltration but there is not much benefit for us building on that.
Discovery is alright but not a must have for us.
The best here is Mastery Over Nature which gives a Decision than lets us increase the number of districts our planets have.
Imperial Prerogative is a good take but we can also get this effect with the civic Divided Attention. Taking both together would entirely eliminate the Empire Size from Colonies! This is probably overkill though.
Interstellar Dominion reduces the Influence cost of making claims. This sounds good but in practice we are generally swimming in Influence anyway. We also do not necessarily want lots of systems. What we really want is lots of planets.
The Biological Ascension Path is where it is at for us. The Biological Ascension path will allow us to modify our pop’s traits and further boost population growth through the Cloning Vat building. It will even allow us to assimilate non-hivemind pops into the collective.
The Biological Ascension Path is the Engineered Evolution Perk followed by the Evolutionary Mastery perk.
To get Engineered Evolution we need the Gene Tailoring technology. Gene Tailoring has Genome Mapping as a prerequisite.
To get Evolutionary Mastery we need to first have Engineered Evolution and the Glandular Acclimation tech. Glandular Acclimation has Gene Tailoring as a prerequisite.
Genome Mapping, Gene Tailoring and Glandular Acclimation are all more likely to come up for us as Hive Minds but we can further stack the odds by having a Biology specialist in charge of research.
I already mentioned Hive Worlds. This is the final key perk we want. It does not depend on any prior perks and is only a tier 2 perk but it is hard to get early because it depends on a getting a tier 4 tech Climate Restoration.
Given both the Biological Ascension path and Hive Worlds depends heavily on Society research we can see why the Tree of Life is a good origin. One of its benefits is +10% Society research on our homeworld and +5% Society research on colonies with a sapling.
We can make our homeworld into a brain world, heavily populated with research buildings. All our colonies could have a research building too.
One use for this Poopshat build is in making a fast path to the We are Legion steam achievement.