Outposts and Starbases

Territory is now claimed by building Outposts in star systems. Your borders no longer expand outwards from planets and Frontier Outposts. To claim a star system, you must build an Outpost there. Outposts have a flat mineral and influence cost; there is no influence maintenance as the Frontier Outposts used to have.

Outposts can be upgraded multiple times to Starbases of increasing strength. Starbases can be augmented with weapons, shipyards, economic buildings, research stations, and more. You can also build defence platforms around them to increase their combat effectiveness.

The thing about Starbases in Stellaris 2.0 is that they are formidable. Combat strength of multiple tens-of-thousands is common. They are quite capable of discouraging or deflecting even mid-size fleets.

Stellaris Cherryh Review - Starbase
A Starbase with a full complement of defence platforms.

FTL Inhibition and Sub-light Travel

Planets and Starbases can now act as FTL Inhibitors, which restricts enemy movement. Upon entering a system with an FTL Inhibitor, the enemy fleet can only go back the way they came unless they disable the Inhibitor (by capturing the Starbase or planet).

These act, therefore, in much the same way as Forts in Europa Universalis IV, for anyone familiar with that particular game mechanism.

Further, fleets must now traverse across a star system at sub-light speeds before entering a hyperlane to an adjacent system. This means system entry/exit points now correspond with the arrows present in the star system view. Fleets take much longer to travel across the galaxy and would normally be forced to engage with any heavily-armed Starbase in the system before proceeding.

Continuing with the Engagement

With all of this knowledge in hand, we can play out our scenario.

The enemy empire declares war, assuming – foolishly – that your shared border is undefended. In the system behind the black hole is one of your planets; the enemy can go through the black hole system and onto the planet, or they could go through the other system and around through, say, four other star systems.

Wanting to maximise gains and minimise losses, they choose the former option – to go via the black hole.

You, of course, were prepared for this eventuality and in the black hole system is a Citadel (the maximum level Starbase) brimming with weapons. The enemy’s fleet is large; they’re surprised, but proceed with the charge as they will likely win.

You then move your own fleet into the black hole system. Smaller than your enemy’s, it would probably lose a direct engagement. But with the Citadel, your combined strength is some 50% greater than the enemy’s.

The enemy may realise their error at this point, but the black hole is reducing the ability of the enemy ships to disengage from battle. They take heavy losses, and you’ve successfully defended your empire against a max-strength attack. It’s unlikely the enemy will make gains in this war.

Occupation, War Exhaustion, and Status Quo

While the enemy is licking his wounds, you’re able to jump into their space with a smaller fleet and begin picking off enemy Outposts. When you do so, you temporarily “occupy” the system and gain the economic benefits of doing so.

You have the advantage now, as the enemy realises they’re not going to get past your superior defenses at the border. They still don’t know what’s in the other system, and may not risk it with their deflated fleet.

As you jump from system-to-system, outrunning the enemy fleet thanks to favourable hyperlane layout, your enemy’s War Exhaustion ticks up. As this hits 100%, your enemy will begin to suffer empire-wide penalties, encouraging them to accept the Status Quo. (Note that in 2.0.1, you are able to force Status Quo if the enemy was at 100% War Exhaustion. This will be changed in a later patch, expected soon, due to community feedback.)

Stellaris Cherryh Review - Small fleets
The Ix’Idar Star Collective gave me the run-around in this war, where I focused my efforts on Covfefe. Meanwhile, they had smaller fleets advancing into my territory through Efoll. My War Exhaustion eventually hit 100%, and the Ix’Idar were able to take a number of strategically significant systems (specifically Syrma, which was stopping them expanding into an inner galactic arm), all because I was trying to emulate the doomstack.

Accepting the Status Quo means transferring occupied systems to your ownership. So, in a war that the enemy would have quite easily won pre-2.0, you were able to fight intelligently and gain territory from the aggressor.

Ground Combat

Had the enemy fleet managed to press on beyond the black hole system and onto the first star system containing a planet, they would have had to contend with more FTL Inhibition on the planet itself. This would require one of two things:

  • occupation of the planet with ground forces;
  • obliteration of the planet’s Fortress, housing the FTL Inhibitor, by orbital bombardment.

The latter option is a slow process. The best is occupation.

Stellaris 2.0 introduces the concept of “Combat Width”, which describes the maximum number of armies on each side that can be engaged in combat at once. You can attempt to land more than this, but the armies will essentially “queue up” to replace defeated ones. This makes it much harder to crack well-defended planets.

So in the case of your well-defended planet with an FTL Inhibitor, your enemy will find they have to excel at ground-combat to press on further into your empire.

Continue reading this article!

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