Stellaris – How Many Planets Should You Have?

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Asking yourself how many planets you should have, is a very sensible question. An up-and-coming Stellaris player has no doubt heard all about various play styles and wants to know which to pick.

Planets are the bread and butter of every single empire, whether they are genocidal robots or pacifist mice. Without planets, you have no pops, and without pops, you have no empire.

Recommended Read: Stellaris – Economy Guide

Deciding how many planets you should have, is a case-by-case basis. Only the person playing the game can decide the answer to that question, and this guide will explain why. Not only that, there will be some handy tips for helping you manage more planets on your next run of Stellaris.

The amount of planets you should have in Stellaris is as many as you can run without driving yourself crazy with micromanagement tasks.

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How Many Planets Should You Have in Stellaris?

Technically, the correct answer to this question is all of them. If it is within your borders, you should colonize and exploit that planet for everything it is worth. Planets are the best way to produce resources, and as such, you should have as many of them as you can.

While that is the correct answer in theory, let me explain why it is wrong. Managing planets in Stellaris is tough. There are so many things to manage; pop growth, pop housing, districts, unemployment, crime, blockers, districts, buildings, planet modifiers, and I am only scratching the surface with this list.

Managing that while dealing with everything else Stellaris throws at you doesn’t sound like fun to me. I have tried managing lots of planets, and it becomes too much, a lot faster than you expect.

Stellaris’s AI Planet Strategy

Many new players tend to look at the AI empires close to them. They will often have 25–40 planets colonized from mid to late game. Beginners look at that and try to copy, unaware of the mountain of micromanagement ahead of them.

You may ask yourself, “How can I keep up with the AI if they can manage that many planets, and I can’t?” A very valid question and the answer is; the AI can’t do it either.

In Stellaris, the AI is notorious for being very bad at the game, so bad that at higher difficulties, the game gives them free bonuses.

Now, you are probably asking; “How is that fair?” Trust me. You want them to be able to do this.

In the past, the AI was so bad at the game they couldn’t play it. AI empires would run their own economies into the ground, and you would pick them off one by one with little to no challenge.

With good gameplay, you can outplay the AI with 40 planets. Even if they have modifiers from the difficulty settings.

What Should a Human Player’s Strategy be

So we established running a lot of planets is difficult, so difficult, in fact; that even a computer can’t do it.

That is why the best strategy for planet management; is to colonize as many planets as you can manage in such a way that does not hamper your enjoyment of the game.

That will depend on your experience level, your love for micromanagement, your patience, and the number of planets you have in your borders.

You will have to find this number out for yourself, with trial and error. It may get frustrating sometimes, but stick with it, and you will find that sweet spot.

Personally, I like to run anywhere from 10 to 18 planets in my own games.

I am an experienced player, and I will tend to try and keep the number as low as possible. This is why I always recommend people check out my guide on playing tall.

Tips for Planetary Management

As well as the guide I mentioned, I also have some quick tips that may empower you to run an extra planet or two.

  • Allow your governors to run sectors for you. If you divide your empire into sectors, you can assign AI governors to run the planets in the sector for you. In the past, this was not a viable option, and while the AI may make some odd choices now and then; you can always fix their mistakes.
  • Specialize your worlds. Having a planet devoted to one task makes any decision related to that planet an easy one. If you have a world that is only for mining minerals, rename it to “mineral planet 1.” Name the next mineral planet 2, and then you can see at a glance what every world is for.
  • Create Vassals. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with planets in the past, and you likely will at some point too. Rather than abandoning worlds that you have put a lot of effort into; you could create a vassal instead. The sectors I mentioned earlier can be turned into small vassal empires that pay tribute to you. A win for everyone.
  • Expand slower. A planet is a long-term project. You have to colonize, grow a population, build infrastructure, and give it time to thrive. Whilst it is growing, that is when it is most difficult to run. If you take on too many planet projects at once, you could find yourself overwhelmed. Try waiting until a planet is fully developed before taking on any more.
  • Pause the game more. It is easy to forget the pause function exists. Use it to your advantage, and take your time with decision-making by pausing the game more. The AI won’t get annoyed, so use it. If playing PVP, make sure you ask your fellow players if you need a bit of time first.

This is everything you need to know about how many planets you should have in Stellaris.

If you have any questions or comments for this guide, please let us know in the comments section below. Have fun managing planets in Stellaris.

Simon Neve

Simon lives in Northern Ireland with his wife and two children. When not caring for his family, Simon enjoys video games, board games, and tabletop roleplaying games. When playing isn't an option he writes about them instead.

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