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Stellaris - Usefulness of Ascension Perks

By Cuttlefish   /   Mar 13, 2018     Guides
Stellaris - Usefulness of Ascension Perks

A somewhat basic and heavily opinionated guide to what ascension perks you should and shouldn't use as of Stellaris update 2.0. How much fun each perk will be depends on your playstyle, but some of them are either essential or garbage for any player.


Whether you are new to Stellaris and the concept of ascension perks or a veteran player who is stuper indecisive about which ones to pick, I hope you find this useful. This list contains the acension perks as of update 2.0 and my opinions of the usefulness and general fun of the ascension perks. You can only have a maximum of 8 of them (note: a glitch currently prevents non-apocalypse players from getting past 7, but from what I know, it will be fixed shortly), so obviously choosing the right ones is important. The Cherryh update changed the game to allow people without DLC to use them, so anyone with the game might find this useful, though most of the cool ones are still exclusive to DLCs. Paradox still needs to sell stuff.

The list isn't numbered in any particular order of usefulness, but I have put the lower tier ones first, since they're the first ones you'll get the option to use. Full Disclamer: I haven't played Apocalypse yet, so my opinions on the exclusives here is mostly on how I THINK people would use them. I apologize if I'm dead wrong about the level in which the game is different from what I think it is like with that expansion in particular.

I'll categorize them as:

  • God Tier - Don't pass this up it's amazing.
  • Great Tier - NICE.
  • Cool Tier - Pretty cool, you could do cool stuff with this.
  • Weird Tier - Use it under specific circumstances to be NICE otherwise Trash tier.
  • Trash Tier - Don't take this you absolute fool.

I'll also mention the numbered tiers that actually exist in game. Tier 0 perks can be taken in the begining but Tier 1 perks need at least one previous perk, Tier 2 need 2, and so on.

Consecrated Worlds

Tier 0 - Starting things off with the worst perk in the game. This spiritualist exclusive perk gives you access to the Consecrate World planetary edict, which at a cost of 300 influence is the most useless waste of influence and an ascension perk slot. For 100 years, the edict increases happiness by 5, growth speed by 15, unity yeild by 15 percent, and spiritualist governing ethics by 25 percent. Now the problem with this is that to spiritualist empires, governing ethics and unity are already up to 11. Getting this perk would just be overkill. The unity might be nice for getting the rest of the traditions faster, but spiritualists also have the declare saint empire edict which also increases unity by 15 percent but at a lower 200 influence. The growth speed and happiness are too unimportant to be worth the slot and Spiritualist empires tend to be happier anyway. The only way I can think of this being useful is if the planets you use it for are mainly used for unity generation and you plan on snowballing unity for unity ambitions, which would require Apocalpyse installed. - TRASH TIER, like the most garbage tier.

Executive Vigor

Tier 0 - Executive Vigor doubles the duration of your edicts. This might seem kinda bad at first, but this essentially amounts to paying half as much influence for things like increased empire wide minerals. Edicts got really buffed by the Cherryh update, and depending on how many edicts are availiable, this perk can be very flexible to your playstyle, and more influence means more starbases, more claims, and more megastructures. If you wanna conquer stuff, this could be a nice alternative to Intersteller Dominion. Or maybe you could take both and really go all out with the claims. - GREAT TIER

Imperial Prerogative

Tier 0 - Increases your core system limit by 5. This is useful for anyone, but it is generally better for people playing wider. In my opinion, sectors are less of a problem once your resource production is at it's best, but they can still be annoying, so I feel ya. The core system limit can be increased with repeatable technology if you don't want to take this perk, but it takes a very long time, and if you do both, you could maybe manage something like 20 systems without sectors. Though I will admit, as nice as it sounds, I don't personally want that level of micromanagement like wow look at how long the overlay is. This is a ton of planets. - COOL TIER

Intersteller Dominion

Tier 0 - Decreases the cost of starbases and claims by 20 percent each. This is obviously best for people who want to expand very far, quickly, and efficiently. I would say that like my fave megastructure the lovely senrtry array, the larger the map, and the less connected the hyperlanes, the more useful this is. It could have uses even if you aren't militarist, if you want to snipe as much uncontrolled space that nobody wants as possible. Having more outposts increases tech cost and whatnot, but it also increases your starbase capacity, so having a crap ton of outposts, while seemingly hard to defend, actually makes you much more powerful in the longrun. - GREAT TIER, (or God Tier with militarists).

Mastery Of Nature

Tier 0
- This is a deceptive weird tier one, I'm saying that off the bat. Mastery of Nature lowers the tile blocker cost by a third, which is useless, and unlocks a special edict, which permanently increases the size of a planet by one to three tiles. That seems useful. Certainly more useful than how garbage it was before Cherryh, but honestly I don't think it's much better. The devs wanted people to find this useful, but I feel like only a small percentage of players will. 100 influence to increase the size by 1 to 3 could be better spent claiming another system with habitable worlds or simply building a habitat with as much as 12 tiles. I will admit, that it isn't completely useless. If you have allot of planets and allot of influence it could add up to allot of extra tiles to work with, but I think most people will find their influence wasted. - WIERD TIER, not trash tier, but on thin ice.

Nihilistic Acquisition

Tier 0 - (requires Apocalypse DLC) I really do not know what to say about this perk. If your empire is capable of slavery and is not a barbaric despoter, this will unlock the raiding bombardment opition. I haven't played the barbarians, but from what I can tell, raiding pops is only useful for xenophobes or for populating new colonies in the early game. This is a tier zero perk, so you can get it as your first, but honestly I feel like if you wanna do raiding you should just play as barbaric despoters. I can't say that this is a bad perk since I haven't used it, so I'm sorry to say that you'll have to ask someone else, I really don't know what to say about this. - WEIRD TIER?

One Vision

Tier 0 (in more way than one) - Increases empire unity by ten percent and governing ethics by 50 percent. I don't think it's worth it. Governing ethics attraction is usually not that useful, unless maybe you're an authoritarian dealing with allot of egalitarian pops making a mess of things. The unity boost might be a tempting boon, but I don't think it's worth the ascension perk slot. You won't be able to use this as a machine empire, but really you ain't missing much. Like Consecrated Worlds, the only viable use for this is to allow the use of a crap ton of unity ambitions, which imo, is not worth it. - TRASH TIER

Shared Destiny

Tier 0 - Halves the influence cost to integrate one of your subjects or vassals. I don't think the difference is worth it, and most of the time it's better to not integrate vassals at all. I don't think this is a good perk, though I imagine that if the devs buffed it to also allow you to integrate two subjects at once, then other players might find it useful. Maybe this seems kinda weird after all the praise I gave Executive Vigor, but like, that's not what vassals are for. Or at least that's now how I use vassals. Even if you do integrate subjects, this doesn't make it happen any faster so I don't see a point - TRASH TIER

Technological Ascendancy

Tier 0 - Technological Ascendancy increases you research by 10 percent. That might not seem like much, but it is a perk that will never stop being useful. The increase will get exponential as your empire grows. In the early game, it lets you get ahead of your rivals, and in the late game, the repeatable techs that are within reach with this can do some of the same things that other ascension perks could do like core system limit or naval capacity. Tech dominence generally isn't the best compared to sheer military size, but if two fleets are the same size, taking this will make you the superior one. - GREAT TIER, it could be GOD TIER in the right hands.


Tier 0 - (requires Utopia DLC) Lets you build Habitats. This is one of my favorite perks. Habitats have allot of benefits. Their construction is pretty much the only use for planets without yields, and contructing them in systems with inhabited worlds will let you increase the amount of pops in your empire without affecting your system limit and giving your planets to those meddlesome sectors. They have perfect habitability for every species. I find them especially useful when playing tall or as somewhere to stuff away the bio-trophies when playing as a rogue servitor. Keep in mind, that like ringworlds, if they are destroyed by the endgame crisis, they cannot be rebuilt. Same thing if they get cracked by a colossus, but when it comes to habitats, they're usually supplimentary colonies rather than something you can't afford to lose, and putting them in already well defended systems will make them difficult to access for said crisis shennanigans. You'll need the star fortress technology to get this, so you may want to wait before picking a perk if you don't want any of the other tier zeros. - GREAT TIER, (God Tier if playing tall).

Enigmatic Engineering

Tier 1
- (requires Apocalypse DLC) Enigmatic Engineering is appropriately named. I think its use is very enigmatic. It increases sensor range by 2, and prevents your ships from spawning debris that other people's science ships can analyse. I don't think it's too useful most of the time, but it has it's moments. The sentry array gives you full coverage, so the sensor range increase is useless at that point, and in the late game, technological dominance is no longer the best strategy since everyone will have completed the tech tree. Though, this being said, I can think of a use for it that could make it real awesome under certain circumstances. If there is a low or none number of fallen empires, you can snipe the exclusive tech from those poor precursors, or the fortress if you have Leviathans installed, before anyone else and get this perk to prevent anyone from aquiring it. You could also use it if you get psionic tech from the shroud. I've found that I could research it even as a gesalt consiousness from spiritualist empire ships' debris. Other empires cannot be prevented from getting to the shroud on their own though, so I think it's more useful in the former case. It also has some roleplaying value for xenophobes if you're into that. It's definitely the most quirky thing here. - WEIRD TIER

Biological Acsention Path

Tiers 1/3 - (Requires Utopia DLC) We've reached the ascension paths. This one like all of them is actually two perks, since the second requires the other, and generally I wouldn't recommend taking one but not the other most of the time. All Ascension paths require Utopia installed and are mutually exclusive. Machine empires can't use them and this one here is the only one hive minds can have.

Engineered Evolution gives you 3 species modification points and lets you modify species for less society research. I'm not usually a fan of this, since it takes allot of time that could be spent researching other things, but some people like it. It's best for homoginous empires with a low number of species. Xenophiles would be overhwhelmed trying to mix and match the traits of too many species.

The best ones for this are Hive Minds, which get even more benefits from the second perk, Evolutionary Mastery. This one provides the same things as the previous one a second time (so now you have 6 extra points and research modification 50 percent faster rather than 25) but also allows the removal of positive traits and the addition of special exclusive traits that no other species can have. It also lets you add or remove the hive minded trait. Non hive minds can remove the trait to allow hive minded species to live outside the mind, and hive minds can assimilate other species into their consiousness. - WEIRD TIER

Psionic Ascension Path

Tier 1/3 - (Requires Utopia DLC) You don't need to be spiritualist to get magic powers, but I think most guides will just sort of assume that you are cause it's easier for spiritualists to get this since you need psionics and unity for the traditions.

Mind Over Matter on it's own is kinda meh. It unlocks the Psi Corps building which reduces empire unrest but is otherwise mediocre, and gives you the Telepathy tech if you didn't have it already. Adopting it makes members of your primary species latently psionic, increasing their productivity for research and energy, and making them a little happier.

The real benefits come when you take Transcendence.A fully psionic species doesn't do much for pops, but for leaders it is amazing and makes them better at what they do than the synths, and it allows you to access the dimension of the Shroud. Boons from the Shroud include many cool things like psionic tech like shields and the Psi-Jump Drive, Shroud Avatars that act as hyper-powerful premade ships or armies, temporary boosts to production, or events which make your leaders immortal. The synthetic path also makes your leaders immune to age, but synths have a change to break down, while chosen ones do not. This path is better for authoritarians and spiritualists who want more effective scientists and admirals.

Or maybe you just want space magic. That's cool too. Just say no to the end of the cycle. Avoid it. It's a trap. - Between GREAT tier and WEIRD tier. It can be godly for those who know how to use it, but for allot of people, it's not worth it so yeah WEIRD TIER but nowhere near as weird as the horrors of the Shroud.

Synthetic Ascension Path

Tiers 1/3 - (Requires Utopia DLC) The Flesh Is Weak is great for people who love robots, though machine empires cannot take this. Taking this will reduce robot maintinence by 10 percent and increase the speed at which they are built by a third. You will get a special project to turn all your organics into cyborgs, which makes them more productive, live longer, and increases their habitability on most planets. Finishing it will also allow you set assimilate other species into your cyborg empire like a less threatening borg, and increases your materialist ethics attraction, though you don't need to be materialist to take the perk. Spiritualists will hate you more than they usually do once you become cybernetic. Taking the perk will prevent robots from rebelling.

I think this goes really well with the mechanist civic since you can get it faster and the robot maintinence reductions stack. The Synthetic Evolution perk is cool, but also optional. The changes are so big, that you could totally just not take it. Taking this will increase your robot modification points, reduce costs, and oh yeah lets you turn everyone into a robot. Doing so brings many benefits and drawbacks. Nobody needs food, and all your farms are turned into power plants, everyone gets the synthetic trait and thus has all the benefits that come from them.

It will give the synths you already have citizenship if they don't have it already though which may increase your consumer goods cost. For the purposes of diplomacy, other empires will consider you a machine empire. Spiritualists will hate you even more, all non materialists will fear year, and determined exterminators will stop trying to kill you, though they will find your appearance creepy/uncanny and won't start liking you after they stop being genocidal. People may hate you, but holy moly are the benefits SICK. - GOD TIER (unless you're spiritualist then it's Trash).

Eternal Vigilance

Tier 2 - Eternal Vigilance makes you starbases and defense platforms stronger, and allows your starbases to have more defense platforms. Yep that's it. Only 5 extra platforms. I can't see anyone but the most turtley payer getting this perk. Honestly I think it's more of a roadblock that slows enemy fleets down than anything useful.

It's not bad enough to be Trash Tier, but it just is not a useful perk. - COOL TIER if you want but do you really.

Galactic Force Projection

Tier 2 - Increases fleet command limit by 20, and naval capacity by 80. Even after the nerf, it seems like a good perk on paper but actually using it, I wish I could swap it out for something better. Fleet command limit is capped at 200, and can be gotten easily with repeatable technology, and naval capacity is capped at 1000, perk or no perk. On large maps I usually reach that cap. 80 isn't even that big of an increase compared to how it used to be. With large vassals I usually don't even need to build any anchorages. This perk could be ok on smaller maps or during early warfare, but as a tier two perk, by the time you can get it, you'll probably be past needing it. It's not completely useless, but I can't think of any niche uses for it so garbage tier is goes. - TRASH TIER

Machine Worlds

Tier 2 - (requires Synthetic Dawn DLC) Only an option for machine empires, this lets you terraform planets into lifeless factory worlds populated only by robots. Only machines can work on this planet, but said machines have their tile output increased by 20 percent. Without organic pops, this may be essential for any empire that wants to maximise productivity. Though even rogue servitors can make use if this by moving all their organics to habitats or something. A 20 percent increase means more of everything from minerals to unity to research, and if an organic empire captures it, the planet will have to be terraformed for them to use it. Overall, it's the best perk there is, but only as a machine cause you know it's like that resturant on the moon, great food, no atmosphere (that's a lie, it removes food from tiles) - GOD TIER, for machines anyway.

Master Builders

Tier 2
- No this is not a LEGO Movie reference; this is the ascension perk that lets you build megastructures twice as fast. It also gives you mega engineering if you didn't already have it, allowing you to get Galactic Wonders sooner. It's a simple benefit, but it's also extremely good. Being the first to cmplete a dyson sphere is a nice feeling, and what's better is that it allows you to be more speedy in the construction of gateways, which can give your fleets the mobility to defend against all but the most well cordinated enemies. It doesn't reduce the mineral costs, but if you have access to living metal, it shouldn't be too much of a hassel to build this stuff, so long as you don't bite off more than you can chew. - GREAT TIER or COOL depending on your interest in building habitats and gateways.

Synthetic Age

Tier 2 - (requires Synthetic Dawn DLC) Increases robot modification points by 2 and reduces modification costs but only for Machine Empires. This is a simple perk, and maybe a useful one, but I play machines allot, and I don't find this particularly useful. It might be nice if you want a really special multitasker robot, but most of the time I think you would do better simply making different types of machine pops for different work rather than spending a perk to make a superdroid who can do research AND minerals. You should spend the slot on Machine Worlds. - COOL TIER if you want, but I think it's TRASH TIER

World Shaper

Tier 2 - Before the 2.0 update, this was an even more useless trap than Galactic Force Projection is now, but it has since become something wonderful. World Shaper decreases the cost to terraform by a quarter and is now the only thing that lets you terraform planets into gaia worlds, which have been buffed to increase the productivity of pops on their surface.

I'll focus on gaia creation. Whether you use this depends on your playstyle but for those who do use it, it is amazing. Xenophile empires will probably want this if they want a more successfully multi-species empire, and it is super helpful for species that went with the nonadaptive trait. If you chose that challenging Apocalypse-only civic, Life Seeded, this perk is essential. Spiritualist empires without any gaia planets could use this to simply create a hallowed world, which could give them unity in a way far superior to Consecrated Worlds or One Vision.

Funny enough, I've noticed that even machine pops get a boost to their production when on gaia worlds. This may be an oversight, but I though it was pretty neat. Obviously you should not take this perk and Machine Worlds at the same time, but when playing as a Rogue Servitor or Driven Assimilator, this may be a fun alternative if you feel like shaking things up. However. I have noticed that AI empires tend to take this perk allot, and if you wait a while, many of the worlds you conquer will be gaia worlds by the time you get around to taking them, making terraforming unnessecary. Still a solid perk though. - COOL TIER

Galactic Wonders

Tier 2 - (requires Utopia DLC) Allows the contruction of megastructures (Dyson Spheres, Sentry Array, Science Nexus) This right here is the bees knees. A fully completed dyson sphere can provide half your entire empire's energy requirements and provides more than enough to counteract the maintinence of the other two structures. The Sentry Array is the only thing in the game that lets you see inside nebulas, and any would be galactic conquerer will need it to see enemy fleet movements. Without the sentry array, conquest will be allot harder. I won't go into how to use them, somebody else probably wrote a guide for that, but I personally find this one of the single most useful perks. The science nexus is nice too, but I could live without it, by the time you have enough resources to build it, you'll already be in your technological prime. - GOD TIER like holy cow this is good.

Defender Of The Galaxy

Tier 3 - Taking this perk gives you an advantage against endgame crisis factions (but not awakened empires or the end of the cycle). It increases damage by a third to the swarm, extradimensional invaders, and the contingency. It also gives a plus 20 boost in opinion from everyone, even the most genocidal of butterflies. I think taking this depends on how strong you set the crisis strength. If less than 1.5x than maybe this isn't worth it. But higher difficulties might make this a life and death perk. Also, if the galaxy is too tiny, then lower naval capacity might make this nesseccary to beat a strong crisis. It depends on what you set it as. If you don't remember cause you started the game while ago, and didn't take this perk cause you thought you could beat a 5x strength contingency in a size 200 galaxy GOOD LUCK. - WEIRD TIER

Galactic Contender

Tier 3 - If fallen empires exist in your map, taking this will make you ships do a third more damage to fallen and awakened empires. I really like this perk, but it has specific uses and just because a fallen empire is present in your galaxy does not nessesarily mean that taking the perk is a good idea. If the fallen empires are distant and docile, it may be smarter to just wait until you have a sizable fleet and take them on the normal way. If the number of FEs is low, and by luck you spawn right next to one, then it might be useful to take this with Enigmatic Engineering to do the previously mentioned dark matter tech sniping.

Keep in mind though, this perk is not FE kryptonite. Fallen Empires are still extremely dangerous and should not be provoked willy nilly. If they aren't awakened, this is good for people who have their eyes set on the bounty that FE worlds possess, but the most useful thing that this does is dealing with the War in Heaven event.

If you have Leviathans installed, FEs may awaken and war with eachother in an attempt to reclaim the galaxy. Awakened empires are far more dangerous than they were in their fallen state, and if you plan on joining a poorly armed league of non-alinged systems or siding against one of the more unpleasant empires like the Holy Guardians, then this perk will make the War in Heaven allot less painful. Someone else can make a guide on how to deal with FEs, but whatever, I like Galactic Contender, it's neat. - WEIRD TIER

Colossus Project

Tier 3 - (requires Apocalypse DLC) The bread and butter of the most recent DLC lets you build a colossus. You know what that does right? Honestly, who cares how useful it is?! You can crack open planets. That's pretty baller! You should get this simply because like why did you even buy Apocalypse if not to make your own death star, like what even is the point?! But yeah also it hasn't been around long enough for me to fully know if a colossus is that essential with more serious war buisiness. It's cool, but you could probably live without it. Also, constructing one will make you a target from everyone else so be prepaired for war before you attempt to build it, which you should, because it's effing amazing. - GOD TIER

The Circle Of Life

Tier 3 - (requires Utopia) Allows the contruction of Ringworlds. I'm not sure how to feel about this one. I used to really love it, but I think the usefullness of them is slightly overrated. I think it depends on your playstyle and the map choice. If you have Synthetic Dawn and a machine empire spawns, or if the map contains the Sanctuary system, you might find the prospect of constructing even more rings a little much. Though I can't deny how incredible they are, I have some issues with them, but I still think they're good. It could have an entire guide on it's own. Unlike habitats, they cannot be contructed in systems with habitable planets, since they consume all other celestial bodies. It would also be unwise to contruct them in systems with strategic resources, since you'll lose them. They are also irrepairable if ruined by an endgame crisis. They're still awesome though. A maxed out Citadel, and all four sections containing fortresses and shield generators could make it hard for the swarm to blow it up in the first place. And even if a section is ruined, even a single section is a size 25 gaia planet. This perk is great, just make sure you defend them well, or you'll regret building them to begin with. - GREAT TIER, almost but not quite God Tier.
Tags:   Stellaris, PC
Written by Cuttlefish.