Stellaris – How to Orbital Bombard

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In Stellaris, the prelude to a large-scale land invasion is often an orbital bombardment campaign. This involves your space-borne fleets bombing a defenseless planet, sometimes to smithereens.

Orbital bombardment comes in a wide variety of flavors, depending on your empire’s war policy and ethics.

Recommended Read: What Is the Best Planet Type in Stellaris?

Knowing how to carry out an effective orbital bombardment campaign will serve your empire well, more so when seeking a swift end to hostilities.

Carrying out an orbital bombardment in Stellaris is a simple process – all you have to do is have one of your fleets enter the orbit of an enemy planet. Orbital bombardment will commence in earnest. The lethality of the campaign will depend on the fleet’s orbital bombardment stance.

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How to Orbital Bombard in Stellaris

While the process of beginning an orbital bombardment campaign is as simple as a few mouse clicks. What goes on during the campaign is where the complications arise.

But first, why would you ever want to bombard a planet from orbit? Well, there are a few good reasons.

Genocidal empires seek the death of all other life in the galaxy, and orbital bombardment is a great way to go about that.

If the planet has a large defensive army that your own attack forces may not be ready to fight, a bombardment campaign can deal with some of the defense forces. Evening the odds for when the ground invasion takes place.

Bombarding a planet reduces a planet’s production potential. This economic hit could cripple an opponent’s war effort against you.

It goes without saying that your enemies will seek to use orbital bombardment against you as well. It would be in your best interest to stop them as soon as you are able to.

What Does Orbital Bombardment Do

When a fleet is in orbit around a hostile planet, they will begin bombing the planet from space. Bombing the planet causes a few things to happen.

For starters, the planet will begin taking on the devastation debuff. The intensity of this modifier ranges from 0 to 100 percent.

For every one percent of devastation a planet has, it receives a minus one decrease in housing, trade value, resources from jobs, job upkeep, immigration pull, pop growth, and amenities.

That means if a planet has 60 percent devastation, it will accrue a 60 percent penalty to all of those stats. Which can be devastating.

Bombardment campaigns will also damage ground armies and have a chance to kill the pops that live there as well. The damage and chance of pop death will depend on the fleet’s bombardment stance.

The next section of this guide will cover bombardment stance in detail.

If the bombing results in the destruction of all ground armies, the planet may surrender to its attackers. This will depend on whether their attacker allows orbital surrender as one of their policies.

Orbital Bombardment Stances

Not all empires carry out their bombing campaign in the same way. How ships bomb a planet depends on their orbital bombardment stance.

A more aggressive stance will have a better chance of killing civilian pops, and a less aggressive stance will take more time to cause damage.

There are six orbital bombardment stances in the game, and they all yield different results:

  • Selective. The only stance available to all empires. Ships in this stance will be methodical in their attacks, being careful not to cause too much damage.

This will cause half damage to the planet, normal damage to armies, and has a low chance to kill pops.

If all ground armies die during this, bombing will cease on the planet straight away. Also, if there are 21 pops left alive on the planet, this stance will not allow anymore to die from the bombing campaign.

  • Indiscriminate. This would be the average damage stance. Total destruction of the planet is not the target here, but devastating damage to the world and its people is not off the menu.

Planet damage will be normal, damage to armies is high, and the chance to kill pops is average as well.

Pacifist empires cannot adopt this stance. This stance will leave the last 11 pops alive.

  • Armageddon. This stance is all about the destruction of all life on the target planet. Only genocidal empires and empires that have taken the “Become the Crisis” ascension perk can adopt this stance.

All damage modifiers for this stance are high. If you are the target of an armageddon bombardment, you need to act fast.

If the bombing goes on long enough to the point where the last pop dies, the planet will become a tomb world. A graveyard for all intents and purposes.

  • Javorian Pox. Whether this one is worse than an armageddon stance is up to you to decide. The Javorian pox stance involves virus bombing a planet to kill all the aliens that live there.

The damage to the planet is very low in this stance, but damage to life forms is catastrophic. This stance will not do any damage to mechanical pops, as robots cannot get sick.

To adopt this stance, you first need to find the Javorian pox sample relic. If all life gets exterminated on a planet with this stance, it will become a tomb world.

  • Raiding. A unique stance that requires you to have the barbaric despoilers civic or have the nihilistic acquisition ascension perk. Instead of killing pops, you are here to abduct them.

Planet damage is average, and army damage is low with this stance. While the pop kill chance is very high, if a pop would die, they are instead abducted. A great way to get cheap slaves for your empire.

This stance will leave one pop alive on the planet.

  • Seed Bombing. Another unique stance, this time, needs the fruitful partnership origin. This origin is only available to fungoid or plantoid empires.

Planet damage is average in this stance, and army damage is low. Pops are not killed while being the victim of one of these bombing campaigns.

In lieu of pops dying, the planet will spawn explosive growth blockers. Preventing district construction on the planet until the owner pays for their removal. A very thematic bombing stance, great for a role player.

More on Devastation

Something you should consider before beginning any bombing campaign is what your intentions with the planet are after it has surrendered to you.

If you have no plans to claim the planet for your own empire, then bombing it to kingdom come is a fine strategy.

However, if you intend to absorb the planet into your own empire after the war, that devastation debuff doesn’t disappear. This means that all the nasty debuffs are now your problem.

Planets repair devastation at a rate of 0.05 percent per day. Some basic math reveals that one percent of devastation will take 20 days to repair. 100 percent will take 2000 days, just under five and half years.

A planet with high devastation is more than useless. It is a liability.

A liability you should consider very carefully before you take it on. While bombing the heck out of a planet is one of the easiest solutions to subduing a planet, it is not always the most effective.

This is everything you need to know about how to orbital bombard 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 performing orbital bombardment campaigns on your enemies 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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