Stellaris – How to Beat Fallen Empires

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One of the greatest challenges your empire will face is the fallen empires. These sleeping giants are no slouch, and if you anger them, you better be ready for a tough fight.

Fallen empires have the best technology, large fleets, stronghold planets, and repeatable tech upgrades. Whether you take the fight to them or they come to you, it will serve you well to know how to beat fallen empires.

Recommended Read: How to Get Rid of a Criminal Branch Office in Stellaris

This guide will explain what fallen empires are and the best tactics when fighting them.  These enemies are tough, but they are not insurmountable.

The best methods to defeat a fallen empire in Stellaris are avoiding fighting them until your empire is ready, defeating them before they awaken, focusing on weaponry that does direct hull damage, taking the Galactic Contender Ascension perk, and taking advantage of the decadence mechanic.

Table of Contents

What Is a Fallen Empire?

Depending on the size of the galaxy you are playing in, a certain amount of fallen empires will spawn. Fallen empires are space-faring civilizations like you, with some very important differences.

Fallen empires were out exploring the galaxy millennia before your empire. They once had a mighty empire, but they have since gone into decline and are shells of their former selves. 

They begin the game with all technology unlocked, a collection of powerful fleets, 10 levels of all repeatable technology, and may have a colossus weapon.

Fallen empires start in a “sleeping” state. This means they cannot build new ships, conquer new territory, and do not research. 

When you enter their space, they will contact your empire and warn you of their presence.

Fallen empires only have one fanatic ethic, and this determines their attitude toward you, the requests they make, the armies they have, and what gifts they may bestow. 

Provided you don’t mess with them, even fanatical xenophobe fallen empires are happy to leave you alone. To them, you are a child and do not pose much of a threat.

Awakened Empires

As your game of Stellaris advances, often, at least one fallen empire will awaken. Sleeping empires that awaken will only do this if certain criteria are met:

  • To guard the galaxy from crisis. If the end game crisis has spawned, a fallen empire may feel it is their duty to defend the galaxy from it.
  • The awakened empire will form a federation and devote itself to defeating the crisis at all costs. 
  • To fight another fallen empire. Two fallen empires awakening at the same time is bad news for the entire galaxy. These sleeping beasts have decided to tolerate each other no more and begin the war in heaven.
  • Every empire in the galaxy now has a choice: pick a side or fight both sides. Despite the apocalyptic nature of this happening, the war in heaven is one of the greatest gameplay experiences Stellaris has to offer. 
  • To quell an emerging threat. If a player empire, or even an AI empire starts becoming too powerful, a fallen empire may feel it is time to show them who is boss.

The odds of this happening become greater if the up-and-coming empire has already conquered a fallen empire planet. 

  • Fanatical spiritualist fallen empires can declare holy wars. If you destroy one of the fallen empire’s holy worlds, they will always begin a holy war against the offender.

Unlike the other awakenings which occur in the late game, this can happen at any point. If you destroy one of these worlds in the early game, the awakened holy empire will not hesitate to slap you silly.

  • Awakened empires will spread out and conquer all that they can around them. They begin pumping out fleets, subjugating neighbors, and generally being a nuisance.

How to Beat Fallen Empires in Stellaris

For most players, the first few times they battle a fallen empire, it ends in disaster. If you are not ready, they will leave you outgunned and outmatched.

What makes it worse is that an ill-timed fallen empire awakening can end your run just when the game starts to get good. So, how do you beat these fallen empires?

When it comes to fighting fallen empires, there are six tried and tested ways to help get you results.

The next time you plan to fight a fallen empire, remember these tactics, and they will go a long way to helping you overcome them.

Don’t Fight Them

This might seem counterintuitive, but hear me out first. Prevention is always better than the cure, you wouldn’t put your hand in a fire so you can enjoy the feel of a cold pack afterward, would you?

So why would you choose to fight a powerful and potentially devastating opponent? If the fallen empire is leaving you alone, leave them alone, too.

Even if you can destroy them, they could be a powerful ally for fighting the end-game crisis.

Don’t Fight Until You Are Ready

If you are online, reading this guide on how to defeat a fallen empire in Stellaris, chances are you have already fought one before. That means you probably lost to them as well.

One of the mistakes you could have made was picking a fight you were in no position to win.

It is very possible to surpass a fallen empire in terms of power. Fighting them before this stage is inviting others to take advantage of you. 

Even if you defeat the fallen empire but lose most of your fleets in the process, do you think your ambitious neighbors are going to let you off the hook? Of course, they won’t.

So wait until you can defeat them without losing everything.

This tactic does assume that the empire doesn’t come for you first, if it does, the rest of the tactics will help.

Direct Hull Damage Weaponry

Fallen empires have access to every tech in the game. This means all the rare tech, all the dangerous tech, and even ones outside their ethics too.

As for repeatable tech, they have ten levels of it unlocked at the beginning of the game.

This makes their shields, armor, and weaponry a real force to contend with. One thing that is not upgraded is their hull, and it is easy to take advantage of if you optimize your ships for attacking hull.

The weapons that bypass all shields and hull are Arc Emitter, Focussed Arc Emitter, Disruptor, Ion Disruptor, Phased Disruptor, and Cloud lightning. 

These weapons work best when there are a lot of them. So outfit as many ships as you can, and take the fight to them.

Galactic Contender Ascension Perk

If you have open communication with any fallen empire, you can unlock the Galactic Contender ascension perk. 

This perk increases your diplomatic weight by 20%, but that isn’t the reason you take it. It increases the damage you do to all fallen empires by 33%

If you intend to fight a lot of fallen empires in a game, this perk is a total no-brainer. This can bridge the major technology gap between you and your fallen empire enemies.

The Decadence Mechanic

When fallen empires awaken, a hidden countdown begins. After twenty years, the empire will begin acquiring a stat called decadence. When they obtain enough of this decadence, the empire will begin to crumble.

All jobs will produce 66% less resources, 25% reduction in weapon damage, 25% less hit points on ships, and vassal opinion penalties. 

As you can see, the longer a fallen empire is awake, the weaker they become. Stellaris games are a marathon, not a sprint. If you are patient, you can make use of this mechanic to defeat a fallen empire.

The tactic is easy: a fallen empire spawns, and you are in no position to defeat them. They declare war on you, and you surrender, becoming their vassal.

As their vassal, you enjoy their protection and continue advancing your empire. When your overlord accrues too much decadence and becomes weak again, you launch a rebellion and overthrow them.

Defeat Them Before They Awaken

Fallen empires that are not awakened cannot produce new ships, conquer worlds, and are weak in comparison to their awakened state.

If you are confident that you could make a rush on a sleeping empire and defeat them before they have a chance to awaken, you should. 

Be warned, if they awaken during your war, you could be in for a harsh retribution.

This is everything you need to know about how to beat fallen empires.

If you have any questions or suggestions for this guide, please let us know in the comments section below. Have fun bullying fallen empires.

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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