Stellaris – How to Change Ethics

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In Stellaris, one of the more unknown game systems is changing ethics. Ethics determine how you and other empires behave in certain situations.

For example, a militarist authoritarian empire is likely to be very aggressive, and you should be wary of them. a pacifist spiritualist empire will be more passive and receptive to trade. For players, governing ethics determine the options you receive in the form of event pop-ups.

Recommended Read: Where and How to Build Starbases in Stellaris

Ethics are not set in stone, and knowing how to change ethics is a niche tool that can help optimize your empire. Changing ethics is not available to machine or gestalt consciousness empires.

You can change ethics in Stellaris by embracing the faction tied to the desired ethic. This carries a cost of 5000 units.

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How to Change Ethics in Stellaris

When you begin playing Stellaris, you have three ethic points that must all be spent.

Fanatic ethics cost two points, and standard ethics cost one point. This means every empire will have 3 standard ethics or one fanatic and one standard.

Let’s say you have been playing for a while, and that pesky neighbor keeps raiding your outer systems. You are a pacifist empire and have never done your neighbor any harm.

You can’t keep hemorrhaging resources in counterattacks all game. It is time to embrace militarism and show those aliens who’s boss.

To shift your ethics, you will first need to understand about factions.

Factions are seldom integrated with game mechanisms in Stellaris. For those that know nothing about the factions system, a brief explanation is as follows.

How Factions Work

Factions represent various political parties that arise in your empire. Your pops can become members of these parties or factions, as they are called in the game.

Each pop will adopt a standard ethic from those selectable at empire creation. They then have a chance to join the faction tied to the pops ethic. Slaves cannot join factions.

The more pops that join a faction, the more unity it will produce for your empire.

The unity production is also affected by the goals of the faction. For instance, a pacifist faction will want your empire to have pacifist laws, and a militarist faction will want the opposite.

You can’t make all the factions happy, so you will have to choose which factions to support and which to ignore.

Factions with high approval provide happiness buffs, and ones with low approval provide debuffs.

We can use the suppress faction option in the factions menu to discourage pops from joining low-approval factions. Also, we have the Promote faction option to encourage pops to join the factions we want them to.

Embracing a Faction

The final option available in the faction menu is the one we need to change ethics.

It is called the Embrace Faction. This can be chosen once a few criteria have been met:

  • You have 5000 unity to spend.
  • The faction you intend to embrace has 20 percent faction support.
  • Your empire does not already have the fanatic version of the ethic the faction represents. For example, if your empire was already a fanatical spiritualist empire, you would not be able to embrace a spiritualist faction.
  • You are not a vassal to another empire.
  • It has been over ten years since the last time you embraced a faction.

Once the faction has been embraced, your ethics will shift straight away. Your ethics will still conform to the three-point system spoken about earlier in the guide.

Embracing a faction and changing ethics is not without consequences.

Members of the faction you embrace will be happy, but every other faction will be irked. Every other faction will receive a -35 faction approval for ten years. This debuff could result in an empire-wide unhappiness spike.

This could lead to resource production suffering, an increase in crime, and at worse, a planetary revolt taking place.

If you have high governing ethics attraction, chances are your pops will see the light and change ethics before any of that can happen.

All the problems that can emerge from swapping factions are not playthrough-ending, a headache to be sure but a manageable one.

Changing Ethics is an overlooked feature in Stellaris. I imagine there are some very experienced Stellaris players out there who don’t know how to do it.

For those that are eager to learn the hardcore meta strategies in Stellars, ethics changing is a feature you will want to learn about.

That is everything you need to know about changing ethics in Stellaris.

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

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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