The Cabal Aristos are the answer to the question you never wanted to ask, “Can I have a empire in Stellaris in which every single pop has a ruler job?“.
You never asked because there is no good reason to even try, there is nothing strong about such a top heavy job structure. Ruler jobs mostly just make unity and amenities. The only reason to try is just for the challenge value, as with the one planet challenge and similar.
There should be no doubt that a Rulers Only run is wacky and only to be done for the fun of it.
Having decided to space reason out the airlock and try a rulers only run, the question remains, how? Let me tell you now, if it is possible to have all your pops employed as rulers, and only rulers, then the Cabal Aristos empire build is how to do it.
The problem with spamming ruler jobs is that normally they are only created by capital buildings and a colony can only have one of those. They can be upgraded to give more ruler jobs but the upgrade requires a large population to unlock.
The Mercantile tradition opens up some extra ruler jobs, merchants, to trade districts and commercial buildings. This of course is where this ridiculous proposition becomes somewhat viable. We can have multiple commercial buildings per colony and if we are Void Dwellers or Ring World dwellers we can have trade districts.
Void Dwellers is going to be superior to Ring World here, because of course we can spam orbital habitats. This means we can divide our population among nearly limitless small worlds with trade districts for maximum ruler jobs both from capital buildings and others.
What civics though? Well there are a few civics that do things for ruler jobs: Exalted Priesthood, Merchant Guilds, Technocracy and Aristocratic Elite. They are all mutually exclusive so we can not stack them. We can have just one.
All of them except Merchant Guilds replace a politician job from a capital building with a special ruler job, high priest, science director or noble. Replacing is not adding and we want adding. Of those three civics only Aristocratic Elite actually adds a building to give us extra ruler jobs as well.
The Noble Estates building allowed by Aristocratic Elite gives us an extra ruler job and a bit of housing for him. Unfortunately it a planetary unique building which means we can only have one per colony. It is not possible to spam it but at least it includes its own housing.
Some shrewd characters may be wondering why not go Merchant Guilds instead of Aristocratic Elite. It does not add any ruler jobs but it does make merchants better. Whichever civic we take most of our rulers will have to be merchants because they are the only ones we can spam.
True enough, however commercial buildings do not include any housing so for void dwellers they compete with trade districts which do. At least the Noble Estate building includes a bit of housing.
Well I am probably rationalising this because it is a small point. I would just like a bit more variety in ruler jobs. Aristocratic Elite means it will not be just be politicians and merchants but something else as well.
We can take two civics, so what of the second? I suggest Shadow Council. The reason being that, firstly it gives a 10% bonus to ruler jobs which is of obvious benefit to a ruler only economy. The other thing is a +1 to Codebreaking. It also makes influencing elections cheaper but that is not especially helpful here.
The buff to Codebreaking is useful because, as you must be aware, researcher jobs are not ruler jobs. So we can have no researchers. With lots of merchant rulers we can have lots of trade and trade means money. Money for buying resources that we are not making ourselves. So far so good but there is no way to buy research, and that is a problem.
Of course researchers are not the only source of research resources. Leaders of science ships can find it in anomalies, it can be harvested by research stations from system resources, it can be gleaned from research agreements and it can be snatched through espionage .
Certainly a no researcher economy is not completely non-viable but a little buff to Codebreaking can help make up the loss by making Steal Technology operations are little quicker, cheaper and reliable. Alongside the Mercantile tradition we could look at the Subterfuge tradition.
With civics and origin justified, let us look at primary species traits.
We have seen the challenge in creating sufficient ruler level jobs to go around all our pops. We can make that easier by having fewer pops from slower pop growth.
Helpfully the Void Dwellers origin already does something for that. We can stack that slowed pop growth with Lithoid for another -25% to pop growth.
If we succeed all our pops will either be making trade resources as merchants or making unity as nobles and politicians. It only makes sense then to take Traditional for the buff to unity from jobs and Thrifty for the bonus to Trade from jobs.
Since we are going lithoid for the stunted pop growth we can get access to rare resources from pops traits. Scintillating Skin is the one that produces rare crystals from pops. This helps us because rare crystals are needed for the upkeep of upgraded commercial buildings that will give us more merchant jobs.
We can not have so many positive traits without some negative ones to balance it out. I suggest Unruly because it is especially harmless for us given our slow pop growth rate.
Decadent makes worker and slave pops especially unhappy. Given they will mostly be in ruler jobs this should be completely inconsequential.
There is some latitude for ethics here. I went with Authoritarian mainly to get access to Stratified Living Standards which makes rulers especially happy. The buff to influence will also be useful for the strategy, see later.
Xenophile gives us a bonus to trade and an extra envoy. The benefits there obvious for an empire that is populated mostly by merchants and looks to espionage to supplement research.
I decided on Militarist for the last ethic point. I feel like making some vassals and / or tributaries will make this empire more viable. A little bit of extra fightiness from Militarist helps here.
Naturally we can not start from day 1 with all our pops in ruler jobs. This is something we must work towards.
The earliest we can start to spam ruler jobs is after we take the Mercantile Commercial Enterprise tradition in the Mercantile Tree. This is the tradition that creates merchant jobs for trade districts and commercial zones.
A constraint for this challenge then, will be to put the first three tradition points into adopting the Mercantile tradition tree, Mercantile Trickle Up Economics (prerequisite for the next) and Mercantile Commercial Enterprise.
At this point we can now start converting over to 100% rulers in earnest.
In each habitat we will change all the districts to trade districts, put in a noble estate and then build commercial zones for the rest of the buildings.
At this point we have a pretty pure unity and trade build. Trade is money and our thrifty merchants make a lot. We need not starve for resources because we can just buy in what we need. Just as they do in Ancapistan.
We will want lots of alloys because we need to keep building habitats to make sure that we keep our slow growing population in ruler jobs.
To keep up with research we are going to have to strongly favour grabbing systems with research resources. Also we will play the anomaly hunting game hard.
Once we bump up against other empires and the anomaly hunting game winds down we will have to switch to stealing tech using espionage.
Warring can help as that will usually produce some research from debris.
So that is it for the Rulers Only Build. Did you like it? Would you ever try this challenge? How did you get on?