Stellaris: How to Build a Starbase


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The term “starbase” may immediately cast your mind to the world of Star Trek. However, for Stellaris gamers, the starbase plays a critical role in expanding and protecting the empire.

Despite how pivotal starbases are, many Stellaris players don’t know how to build a starbase or even why they are so important. Without this knowledge, you’ll never make it very far in the game.

Don’t worry, though. With our comprehensive guide, you’ll learn all about Stellaris starbases and start building them across the galaxy in no time!

Why You Need Starbases

What does God need with a starbase?

Our guide helps you understand and build as many starbases as your empire can handle. Before we go further, though, it’s important to answer a simple question: why do you actually need starbases in the game?

The main reason that you need a starbase is to establish ownership of a star system. Without such a base in place, you aren’t the owner of a system…you’re simply an explorer. A starbase can also help you repair ships, inhibit enemy FTL travel, and defend your system.

Before you can build a starbase in a system, you must use science vessels to fully survey the entire system. After that, you can build a starbase for 100 Alloys and an Influence cost determined by the shortest jump path between your target system and the next closest system that you own.

Over time, you will have many opportunities to upgrade your starbase. But even the simplest base is enough to assert ownership of a system.

The Humble Outpost

All humble, no bundle

When you first start playing Stellaris, you might get some of the different terms confused. For example, many starting players are confused about the relationship between Outposts and starbases.

Simply put, they are one and the same. An Outpost is simply the most basic form of a starbase. As you upgrade a starbase over time, its exact designation will change.

For example, you can go from an outpost to a Starport, Starhold, and Star Fortress all the way up to a Citadel. While each of these offers improvements on the previous iteration, all of them are considered starbases for the purposes of claiming and defending a system.

Losing Your Starbase

I'm starting to lose it!

When it comes to starbases, we’ve got some good news and some bad news. Here’s the good news: your starbase can never really be destroyed by enemy forces. Unless you personally dismantle it, your starbase is going to be in that system forever.

Here’s the bad news. While your starbase cannot be destroyed by enemy forces, enemy focus during wartime can reduce your starbase hull to 0. At this point, your starbase will be disabled for 30 days after the attack.

If those enemy forces take no further action, your starbase will attempt to repair itself and become functional again when it has at least 5% hull. However, enemy forces can occupy your disabled base before it repairs itself.

When enemies occupy your starbase, they get to enjoy all of its benefits. That means they can use your base to repair their own ships, prevent your FTL travel, and use any of the defenses you have added (more on this later). They can also take advantage of any buildings and modules in your starbase, though they cannot change them or make upgrades to the base.

Defending Your Starbase

Let's go, defense!

Now you know that it’s possible to lose your starbase. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to keep that from happening.

Your initial outpost is not heavily-armed. In fact, it only has a single Guided weapon slot to help you keep enemy forces at bay. Every starbase upgrade, however, gives you +2 medium weapon slots, and the final Citadel upgrade gives you +6 medium weapon slots.

On top of that, you can build defense platforms for your starbase. These platforms can be configured in a variety of versatile ways, allowing you to adapt to different situations over time. If you no longer need a particular configuration, you can dismantle the old defense platform and build a new one.

Different upgrades allow you to build more platforms per starbase, and you can boost platform capacity with things like Eternal Vigilance and Defense-Grid Supercomputer. And once you have a fully tricked-out starbase, it can potentially repel entire enemy fleets by itself!

Your Starbase Capacity

We're at capacity, captain

As you can tell, starbases are a very powerful way to assert control over different systems and defend those systems from enemy forces. However, you must keep an eye on your starbase capacity as you play.

Once again, we have good news and bad news. The good news is that you can build as many basic Outposts as you want to. The bad news is that the starbase capacity limits how many starbases you can upgrade beyond the Outpost level.

While you can upgrade starbases beyond that capacity, all of your starbases will require an additional +25% upkeep per starbase beyond capacity. Because this affects all starbases within your empire, you have a powerful incentive to stay within your starbase capacity (though this capacity will grow as you gain additional systems and discover special technologies, perks, and edicts).

Buildings and Modules

If you build it, they will come

Of course, starbases do more than help you claim and defend systems. By building different modules and buildings within a starbase, you gain access to a host of different benefits.

You can add modules to your starbase (up to 6 modules on a fully-upgraded base) that can help with defense, resources, and shipbuilding. It’s up to you to make decisions about whether, say, a Solar Panel Network is more important than a Hangar Bay, Gun Battery, or Missile Battery.

You can add buildings as well–up to 4 buildings for a fully-upgraded starbase. There are many different buildings that confer unique bonuses to your empire. For example, an Art College will provide +10 Unity while a Curator Think Tank provides +5 Research.

Between the buildings and modules, the possibilities for customization are endless. Don’t forget, though, that occupying enemy forces will reap all of these benefits, so it’s important to keep your base protected.

How to Build a Starbase: What’s Next?

Now you know how to build a starbase in Stellaris. But do you know what challenges to take on next?

Winning this game is about more than defending your starbase. To improve your performance today, check out our guide for winning wars in Stellaris!


Chris Snellgrove
Chris Snellgrove is a professional nerd turned nerdy professional. After completing a PhD in English, he started teaching by day and writing by night. Despite the manic schedule, he finds plenty of time for books, comics, movies, and video games. Ultimately, he lives his life by the philosophy of the Rocky Horror Picture Show: "don't dream it...be it!"

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