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Stellaris: Surviving the One Planet Challenge

After winning a few sessions of Stellaris, many players love to give themselves personal challenges to truly test their ability to manage an interstellar Empire. One of the most difficult of these is the One Planet Challenge, which makes players keep their pops on their home world throughout the session, never colonizing other habitable worlds. Since the game continues to change with each new update and DLC, strategies have changed in how to attempt this challenge. Here are some tips based on the latest version of Stellaris.

Before starting the challenge, players will need to consider what kind of Empire they wish to play as. Different origins can make a huge difference, as they will determine what your home world will be. The Life Seeded origin is arguably the best, as it starts players off with a size 25 Gaia world with three mineable strategic resources. While this origin typically hinders players by limiting players to only being able to colonize Gaia worlds, that won’t be an issue here.

Among other viable origins is Remnants, which starts players off with a size 22 Relic world with blocks that can be cleared and potentially unlock random researched technology. It’s especially useful considering that this Relic world can eventually be restored into a full Ecumenopolis world. Since each of the four segments of a ring world are considered separate worlds themselves that need to be colonized, choosing the Shattered Ring World origin might be considered as cheating. Those who want to start as a machine Empire should choose the Resource Consolidation origin, as it starts players off with a Machine world with no district blockers and various planetary features.

While most authorities won’t make too much of a difference with this challenge, choosing the Corporate authority can allow players to build branch offices on another Empire’s worlds if they’ve made a commercial pact with them. These offices can provide additional resources or an Empire-wide bonus, allowing the player to continue growing their economy even if their world has already been developed to its full capacity.

Since players won’t be colonizing alien worlds anyway, traits like being adaptive or nomadic should be ignored in favor of others like being communal, which allow more pops to use less precious housing space. Planets and pops are the foundation of any Empire, and only having one planet means that your home world’s development must occur as quickly as possible. When putting in the settings for the new session’s galaxy map, you could also disable guaranteed habitable worlds. Your Empire would have no use for them, and, more importantly, it deprives other Alien Empires from having access to these worlds.

Since players will only be in control of their home world, it needs to be well defended. If not, a rival Empire or Crisis force that reaches and successfully invades your world will cause you to lose. Great care should be taken to set up bastion starbases in systems that directly connect to your home system. Your home world should also have at least one precinct house to help keep crime down, as well as fortress and shield generator buildings to ensure the planet’s defense. Maintaining planetary stability is incredibly important, because if it falls low enough to cause a successful rebellion, this will also cause an instant loss. When building and deploying fleets, it’s best to keep at least one defending your home system at all times.

Additionally, players will need to grow their home world’s population to as large as it can go. To accomplish this, prioritize housing and manufacturing consumer goods and alloys. If playing as a biological Empire, consider building agriculture districts, but an alternative could be to construct hydroponics buildings on every starbase. Energy credits and minerals can be alternatively gathered from mining stations in space.

Additionally, avoid expanding your borders unless absolutely necessary. This challenge works best with a tall playstyle rather than a wide one, as systems without colonized worlds can be immediately be claimed or destroyed. Having a vast technological advantage could be a way to face Empires with numerical advantages in regards to pops, fleets and armies.

Since the One Planet Challenge is meant to put the player at a disadvantage against the AI Empires, focus on survival rather than domination or expansion. Practicing with few or no AI Empires or Crises can be a good way to prepare for taking the challenge on in a regular game. To be clear, this isn’t an official challenge that rewards players with an achievement; it’s completely fan-made and optional. However, for those who feel like they have otherwise mastered the game, the One Planet Challenge is a great was to really test those skills and experience the game in a fresh way.