Species Stratification – Stellaris Tactics

May 26, 2022 by Solar Cross

Through conquest, slave raiding and by migration treaty regular organic empires can become very ethnically diverse.

There are all sorts of potential advantages in having an ethnically diverse empire. One advantage is that having access to species with different preferred habitats can allow an empire to make use of more worlds.

Another advantage is that different species with different traits can be especially productive in specific roles such as leaders, rulers, soldiers, researchers or workers. A diverse empire can potentially allow having especially productive species in every role.

The trick is that by default the player does not have too much control over which species does which role. This guide will show a variety of strategies and gambits for how to manage an ethnically diverse empire for maximum productivity.

Species Stratification

The pinnacle of control is the species stratification tactic. This is where different species are constrained to specific roles for which their traits suit them. We can do this by setting their status and living standards in the species view of the UI.

How to Social Engineer Your Empire

All the following gambits for species stratification are carried out in the Species section of the UI. In this section we use the Set Rights, Reset to Default and Set Default Rights buttons. Set Rights and Set Default Rights brings up a menu for the selected species or sub-type of species.

These menus allows the setting of Citizenship status, Living Standards, Military Service and Slavery Type. These are the primary tools for shaping species stratification for your empire.

Set Rights in the Species Section of the UI

Some options will be enabled or disabled depending on the policies set. Not all policies are available to all empires, depending on governing ethics and, to some extent civics.

Authoritarian and Xenophobic regimes have the highest level of control because they can use the many types of slavery. Xenophobes can even use pops as livestock.

Those without slavery can use robots for a degree of stratification. Besides using robots, empires which do not have access to slavery can only do a kind of species stratification that I call Leader Pool Hygiene.

Leader Pool Hygiene

Leader Pool Hygiene is the simplest kind of species stratification, and is available to empires with any governing ethic, even xenophiles and egalitarians. This strategy reserves the Leader Pool only for species with desirable leader traits such as Talented, Quick Learners, Enduring, Venerable and Lithoid.

Species joining your empire will get to have full citizenship by default for most governing ethics. Full citizenship allows them to do any job and also to appear in the leader pool. If a species has mediocre or negative leader traits, such as Slow Learners or Fleeting, then that will not be desirable.

However we can set a species to residence instead of full citizenship. Species with residence can do any job, even ruler jobs, but are not eligible to be leaders and so will not appear in the leader pool.

In this way we can preserve the leader pool only for those species that are good at being leaders.

For full leader pool hygiene we should also set military service to Soldiers Only or Exempt. If Full Military Service is enabled then even residents will still appear in the leader pool for admirals and generals.

The primary species, your starting species, must always have full citizenship and for Xenophobic governing ethics, only the primary species can have full citizenship. This an important limitation when practicing Leader Pool Hygiene.

Leader Pool Hygiene is not without cost. Species with residence instead of full citizenship have a small happiness penalty.

Robotic Servitude

Robotic Servitude is a kind of slavery open to all organic empires with the right techs. See this article for how to rush robot techs.

Robots have the advantages of universal habitability, easier modding and indifference to happiness.

Robot pops have the disadvantages of being expensive and slow to produce. They also do not contribute much to diplomatic weight.

Initially they can only do worker level jobs but with successive technologies they can also do specialist and even ruler tier jobs.

Best Robot Strategy for Species Stratification

Generally organics will outperform and be more economical than robots assuming an ideal habitat. One nice use for robots though in an ethnically diverse empire is as amenity producers.

Every planet needs amenities but most species will not have a special bonus to amenity production, such as the Charismatic trait. Robots can work on any planet due to universal habitability.

Initially robots can only produce amenities as clerks or as robotic servants. Once you get the droids tech (see here how to rush it) they can also work as entertainers. The droids tech also allows you to mod robots for a bonus to amenities.

Many Shades of Slavery

Authoritarians (unless also Xenophile) and Xenophobes can stratify their species to the greatest extent, making the most layers. For example this can allow them to constrain species that are good at harvesting minerals to worker jobs or good at amenities to entertainer jobs.

By default species deemed only fit to be slaves will have their type of slavery set to Chattel Slavery. Chattel slaves are constrained to worker jobs. However, there are many other options available with different constraints, these are: Indentured Servitude, Battle Thralls and Domestic Servitude.

Indentured Servitude

Indentured Servitude is a type of slavery that is allowed for specialist jobs, except for enforcers and entertainers. It is ideal for species with researcher traits like Intelligent that you would not want to allow residence or citizenship because they have bad traits for being leaders or rulers.

Battle Thralls

Battle Thralls can do worker jobs but can also be enforcers and soldiers. It is ideal for species with army traits like resilient, lithoid, strong and very strong, so that they will spawn as planetary defence armies and be available to create assault armies.

Domestic Servitude

Domestic Servitude allows the slave to do entertainer jobs in addition to worker jobs. It could be a good fit for a species with the Charismatic Trait. Unemployed pops with this slavery type automatically get jobs as servants creating amenities. Servants have reduced housing needs too.

Chattel Slavery

The default type of slavery in Stellaris is chattel slavery. Chattel slaves can only do worker jobs but a have small buff to their productivity.


Finally xenophobic empires can make a species do more that make dinner but become dinner. Livestock generate food or minerals if lithiod. They have reduced housing need and are “employed” without needing districts or buildings.

The Potential of Species Stratification

Using the full range of slavery types, as well as residence and citizenship we potentially could craft an empire where only pops with the best traits for a job would ever do them.

An empire where only long lived, quick learners would be leaders. Species with the traditional trait were rulers and bureaucrats. Researchers all had the Intelligent trait. The merchants were thrifty and the entertainers were charismatic, while the Industrious, Ingenious and Agrarian species were all constrained to worker jobs. An empire where planetary defence forces were all spawned as resilient lithoids.

Good Breeding

We can take species stratification to the next level through pop modification. The key techs for this are Gene Tailoring, Glandular Acclimation and Genetic Resequencing as well as the Biological Ascension path.

The Limitations of Slavery Based Stratification

Unfortunately that ideal of species stratification faces a few challenges.

Creating the perfect stratified multi-species society, where each species is constrained to the job for they are most suited, has three challenges: habitability matching, happiness and risk of unemployment.

Habitability Matching

Species do not just have specific traits which suit them to specific jobs. They also have specific habitats for which they are suited. Even while worlds can be specialised to some extent, they will usually want a variety of different jobs to be filled.

Every world will want to produce amenities and planetary defence forces for its own sake. And every world should produce at least something else to contribute to the empire as a whole.

Matching species traits with slavery types with habitability can be a combinatoric stretch. Maybe you have a slave species that is good in desert habitats and good at worker jobs but your primary species likes Ring Worlds. Who will do the ruler jobs on your desert worlds?

The mitigation to this challenge is to, as far as possible, eliminate habitability as a variable. Invest in techs that increase habitability or allow species to be modded for different habitats. In addition one can increase access to artificial worlds which have universal habitability such as orbital habitats, ring worlds, relic worlds and ecumenopolis.

Or else bump up the slavery type for a species that must live on planets alone. You can avoid upgrading capitals that will create jobs on planets for which the slave inhabitants can not do.

Happiness and Stability

The productive advantages of stratification come at the cost of happiness. All slavery types and even residence status have some penalty to happiness for those pop constrained to that situation. Happiness in turn can affect planetary stability and it affects diplomatic weight also.

There is not much that can be done about reduced diplomatic weight (except the use of the rather extreme Chemical Bliss living standard). We can solve the affect of happiness on stability through living standards and certain ethics, edicts, civics and buildings.

Authoritarians have the advantage of the Stratified Economy living standard which reduces the political power of slaves and workers. They also get access to the Information Quarantine edict which boosts planetary stability and governing ethics attraction.

Alternatively there is the Decadent living standard enabled by the Pleasure Seekers and Corporate Hedonism civics. This gives a solid boost to happiness across classes without giving up too much political power to the lower orders.

In addition any measure that increases stability directly without going through happiness is golden.


An empire using species stratification is more at risk of unemployment because so many pops have a narrower scope of jobs they can do. This increases the micromanagement burden. It is not enough to create a job on a planet with unemployment it must be the right kind of job.

One solution to this is bump up chattel slaves to domestic servitude. Unemployed domestic servants automatically get jobs as servants creating some amenities and reducing their housing needs too.

Best Empire Builds for Species Stratification

Now we will take a look at the best characteristics of empire builds for employing species stratification strategies.


To really make deep use of species stratification an empire’s governing civics need to be either Authoritarian, Xenophobic or both, to allow slavery. Authoritarian is a little better for stability and productivity but Xenophobic allows the harshest and lowest level of stratification, livestock.

Xenophobes want to have good leader traits because full citizenship is only available to the primary species.


Syncretic Evolution is a nice origin to have for a head start on species stratification. Necrophage is also. Mechanist is head start on the robotic kind of stratification.

Void Dwellers, Shattered Ring and Remnants all give an early solution to the habitability challenge to multi-species stratification.

The Teachers of the Shroud origin is worth a mention. Although it is a headstart on the psionic ascension path which conflicts with the biological ascension path.

The psychic, latent psionic and psionic traits only affect the primary species. So ideally you would at least want to practice Leader Pool Hygiene in order to keep non-psychic species out of the leader pool.


Aristocratic Elite helps bypass happiness by allowing noble jobs which boost stability directly. However these jobs can not be held by slaves so you can still potentially be caught by a habitability mismatch.

A better civic for multi-species stability would be the Police State because it is not constrained by habitability.

Corvee System is good for reducing the cost of resettlement.

Slaver Guilds / Indentured Assets increases slave output and partly solves the initial habitability issue by making some of your primary species into slaves. Although arguably that is not species stratification just stratification.

Pleasure Seekers / Corporate Hedonism makes domestic servitude a bit better and helps with happiness if you use the decadent living standard.

Warrior Culture is mildy useful in so far as it enables Battle Thralls to also take entertainer (duelist) jobs.

Barbaric Despoilers enables the raiding stance for fleets by which means pops can be abducted for slavery. However this civic also disallows migration treaties. Possibly a better way to access the raiding stance is the Nihilistic Acquisition perk.

Anglers, Mining Guilds and Agrarian Idyll are civics which boost the output of worker jobs.

Species Traits – Primary Species

Your primary species at least wants to geared to being good at leaders especially if Xenophobic. A primary species must have full citizenship and so will always be eligible for the leader pool.

Moreover it is desirable that they are optimised for taking ruler tier jobs. Most ruler jobs produce unity so the traditional trait is a good pick.

Conformists is also a nice trait for a ruler tier species under Stratification Living standards. Conformists will strengthen the alignment of the species with the governing ethics which in turns makes them happy and yield unity from their factions.

It is also handy if they have good habitability since every planet will want ruler jobs and our primary species are best suited to that tier.

Two traits give both good leaders and good habitability nearly for free, necrophage and lithoid. The drawback to both is slow reproduction but that is not problem at all in species stratification system. We only need so many ruler tier pops.

Perfect Build for Deep Species Stratification

All of the above leads me to the following formulation for the perfect empire build for exploring the species stratification strategy.

Stonekold Species Stratification Build Summary

Government: Imperial (or Dictatorial, although Imperial is needed for Aristocratic Elite civic)

Civics: Police State, Corvee System and Aristocratic Elite for 3rd civic

Ethics: Authoritarian, Xenophobe, Materialist

Species Traits: Lithoid, Quick Learners, Traditional, Conformists and Unruly

Origin: Remnants

That is it a brief guide to social engineering in Stellaris by means of species stratification. Which empire builds featured here at Solar Cross Games do you think would do well for species stratification?

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