Stellaris – How to Colonize a Planet

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So you have started your first game, you have explored the surrounding systems, and you have stumbled across a planet much like your own. It has a good climate and could support life. There is only one problem; you don’t know how to colonize a planet in Stellaris.

Colonizing worlds is one of the most important mechanics in the game. Planets are the bedrock of any empire’s economy. If you intend to become a galactic contender, you will have to learn how to colonize new worlds.

Recommended Read: When Is the Best Time to Colonize a Planet in Stellaris

The method of colonizing a planet is very simple. Where colonizing a planet gets complicated is planet selection. I will touch on this topic in brief, but the primary goal of this guide is to teach you how to get that first planet colonized.

To colonize a planet in Stellaris, you can use one of two methods. The first is to build a colony ship at a shipyard and then order it to colonize the target planet. The second method is utilizing the expansion planner menu.

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How to Colonize a Planet in Stellaris

Colonizing new worlds in Stellaris is a very satisfying experience.

The first time you do it is very special; as you can see, in real-time, the progress of your new space empire is making.

To know how to colonize a planet in Stellaris, you need to know the four steps involved.

These steps must be completed in order, and you can work on colonizing multiple planets at once; if you have the resources for it. The four steps are as follows:

  • Have a science ship survey a system that contains a habitable planet
  • Construct a Starbase in the system
  • Send a colony ship to the planet
  • Wait for the colony development process to finish

All of these steps are basic and part of the core gameplay control in Stellaris.

It may be tempting to colonize the very first planet you find. Let me explain why this is not always the best idea.

Colonizing the Right Planet

Not all planets are the same in Stellaris. In fact, they are all unique. When you created your empire, you select a climate and type for your species’ home planet.

The climates you can choose are; dry, wet, and frozen. These climates are then split into three different types. For example, a dry climate could be an arid, desert, or savannah type.

The worlds you find out in the galaxy will all have their own climates and types.

If the planet you find is a similar climate to your own, your species is likely to flourish there. If your home planet is a desert, and the planet you find is arctic, your species will not do well there.

The game will give every planet a habitability score. Your home planet has a habitability score of 100 percent. Worlds that match your home will have high scores, around 80-60 percent.

Worlds that don’t match your home will have low scores, from 0-20 percent. You will want to prioritize colonizing planets that have a high habitability score. This will mitigate the penalties the game assigns for having less than 100 percent habitability.

You don’t have to worry about being unlucky and not finding any good planets near your home system.

The game will spawn a couple of guaranteed habitable planets close to your capital. You can learn a lot more about planet selection in my guide on The Best Time to Colonize a Planet.

Colonizing Your First Planet

Now that you know what kind of planet you should be aiming for, you are now ready to colonize your first planet. This starts with sending your science ships out until they find a suitable planet to colonize.

After your scientists locate a suitable planet, you will need to build an outpost in that system. You can only colonize worlds that are within your own borders. To build an outpost, order a construction ship to the system containing the planet and build one.

You can identify systems with good colonization targets by using the galaxy map.

Systems that contain a planet with more than 70 percent habitability, will have a green planet icon next to the system name. 40-69 percent habitability will have a yellow planet symbol and a red symbol for 0-39 percent.

Once inside your borders, you can finally colonize the planet. You have two choices in how to send a colony ship to the target.

The Two Options For Colonizing a Planet

First is the manual option. Navigate to a nearby starbase that has a shipyard module. Select a colony ship from the list of available ships, and wait for construction to finish. If you have multiple species in your empire, you will select what species you would like to crew the colony ship. Once built, select the ship and order it to colonize the world. It will move to carry out this order right away.

The second option is as easy and takes some micromanagement out of the equation. On the left-hand side of the interface is a collection of menus. The one labeled expansion planner is the key to colonization automation.

Opening this menu will bring up a list of every habitable world you have discovered. Everything you would want to know about a planet is in this menu. Size, climate, habitability score, and it even lists what districts can be built.

Select the planet you wish to colonize, then a list of species will appear for you to select from. After selecting a species, the magic happens.

The game builds you a colony ship, and then it will take itself to the planet. No further input is required.

The final step to colonizing is being patient. Once the colony ship makes landfall, it will need time to set up the colony.

A lot of things can affect how long this process will take, but you should know the base time is 2 years and 10 months. Once this development period is over, you have colonized your first world in Stellaris. Congratulations.

This planet will now have a planetary capital and one pop present. You can now build districts, construct buildings, produce pops, and use planetary decisions.

It will take some time but with enough care and attention. Your new world will flourish into a productive cog in your empire.

This is everything you need to know about colonizing planets in Stellaris.

If you have any questions or suggestions for this guide, please let us know in the comments section below. As always, have fun colonizing the galaxy.

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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