Stellaris Orbital Rings Explained

Stellaris Orbital Ring printscreen

Stellaris Orbital Rings are Megastructures that are basically giant Starbases around planets. These megastructures were added in Overload Stellaris DLC and you will need this DLC if you wish to build them.

Before we get into details and see how you can actually build Orbital Rings and exploit them in the best possible way, let’s just say this – in general, it is highly advisable to build Orbital Rings at least around your key planets for the economic boost and, if possible, around planets in choke points of your empire hyperlane network as a strategic defense mega fortresses. Overall, they do influence Stellaris gameplay a lot, so without further ado, let’s see how these things are used.

The technology required for Orbital Rings

Type 1 of Orbital Ring
Image credits: Paradox Interactive, Stellaris

There is a great advantage to Orbital Rings when it comes to the required technology for them – although they are considered as Megastructures, building Orbital Rings does not require Mega-Engineering! However, you need to obtain 3 other technologies:

  • Ceramo-Metal Infrastructure (tier 2) tech from Statecraft Engineering path
  • Galactic Administration (tier 3) tech from Statecraft Engineering path as well
  • Orbital Ring (tier 3) tech from Voidcraft Engineering path

Ceramo-Metal Infrastructure and Galactic Administration techs are easily accessible once you have researched tier 2 Colonial Centralization technology. This shouldn’t be a problem as all of these techs are pretty low-tier and will generally roll in your research options. When it comes to the final third step, you can first research tier 2 Starhold technology and you will be able to roll for the required tier 3 Orbital Ring tech. In order to increase your chances of getting Orbital Ring technology you can:

  • Take the Exploration tradition and finish it completely
  • Place Voidcraft expert as your Engineering research leader
  • Have Technocracy civic

Building Orbital Rings

Orbital Ring type 2
Image credits: Paradox Interactive, Stellaris

Once you have researched the required tech, you can simply select the construction ship, right-click on the planet where you want to build the Orbital Ring and find it under Megastructures listed. The cost for a single Orbital Ring is 50 influence and 1000 alloys, and it will take 2 years to complete the building process. Note that you can’t build it on a Habitat. Orbital Rings come in tiers and you can upgrade them as follows:  

  • Tier 1 Orbital Ring: 2 Module slots, 0 Building slots
  • Tier 2 Orbital Ring: 3 Module slots, 1 Building slot
  • Tier 3 Orbital Ring: 4 Module slots, 2 Building slots

As you upgrade, the military power of Rings will increase as additional weapons will be added to their defenses but note this: just like Starbases, you can’t modify basic defenses, they are preset. What you can do about this is build Defense Platforms and modify those but more on that later on. Once it’s done, select the planet and click on the upper right corner on the Orbital Ring icon to select it. From that menu, you will be able to modify and add buildings and modules on your Orbital Ring.

Orbital Ring modules

Planet and an Orbital Ring around it from Stellaris
Image credits: Paradox Interactive, Stellaris

When it comes to modules that you can build on your Stellaris Orbital Rings, you will have the same modules that are available on regular Starbases with one exception – Habitation Module. All other modules (Orbital Shipyard, Orbital Anchorage, Planetery Defense Guns, Planetery Defense Batteries, Planetery Defense Hangards) are optional but Habitation Module is what really makes the difference – with this module, you can increase the number of districts on the planet below the Orbital Ring. Since we all know that more districts equals more resources, you can understand how OP this is.

This module does come with a price though – it requires you to first research Weather Control System tech and then Anti-Gravity engineering. Not only that but besides the Alloy price (200), Habitation Module cost 25 Influence to build. Be it as it may, they are worth every penny, especially later on as the game progress.

Orbital Rings buildings

Orbital Ring cover
Image credits: Paradox Interactive, Stellaris

When it comes to building slots on an Orbital Ring, there are quite a few options available – 27 to be specific. First of all, you can go with regular Starbase buildings (Crew quarters, Hydroponics Bay, Resource Silos, Nebula Refinery, Naval Logistics Office, Black Hole Observatory, Target Uplink Computer, Defense-Grid Supercomputer, Communications Jammer, Disruption Field Generator, Transit Hub).

If you need to increase your defensive capabilities, keep in mind that you can add Defensive Platforms on an Orbital Ring. Although pricy and generally speaking not very reliable, these platforms can still be useful even in the late stages of the game.

However, this is not why you have built an Orbital Ring – the true power of it comes from specialized buildings that can be used to boost your economy. Let’s take a brief look at each of these buildings and see how you can use them.

Low-Gravity Mega-Refineries

Effect: + 2 Minerals from Miners

We start off with the structure that increases our basic game resource – Minerals. Low-Gravity Mega-Refinery requires Advance Mineral Purification technology in order to be built. This tech is fairly easily acquirable as it is Tier 2 technology, just research Mineral Purification first. Low-Gravity Mega-Refineries have a sole purpose – to increase your mining production. These buildings are a must for every mining colony world you have. 

Stratospheric Ionization Elements

Effect: 2 Energy from Technicians 

Stratospheric Ionization Element is a must for almost every empire that doesn’t play the One Planet Challenge. Surely you will need Energy as whatever you do, this resource will bottleneck your growth at every turn. Planetary Power Grid, a fairly easily obtainable tech, is required to build it. Once you do, add Energy Nexus on your power-generating planet, and, with this Orbital Ring around it, your Energy production will skyrocket. 

Climate Optimization Stations

Effect: + 2 Food from Farmers

Same as the last two, Climate Optimization Stations work the best when build on Orbital Ring around a world that is specialized in producing one resource – in this case, it’s Food. If you are in dire need of more food, simply research Advanced Food Processing and you will be able to build these stations on your Orbital Ring. 

The Giga-Mall

Effect: +5% Trade Value and Clerks give +1 Amenities

When it comes to Giga-Mall, you need Interstellar Economics technology in order to build it. Having +5% Trade value is nice but the fact that your Clerks will now produce Amenities (which is normally an upper-tier job) is really neat. However, one might argue that the Orbital Stock Exchange is much more effective. 

Orbital Filing System

Effect: +1 Unity from each Telepath, Priest, Administrator, and Manager

Effective Bureaucracy is a tech that you need to aim for if you wish to build an Orbital Filing System on one of your Stellaris Orbital Rings. Frankly speaking, this is useful but it’s very situational. Only if you are in dire need of Unity and have a specialized planet for that purpose, this is a way to go. Be it as it may, these things are pretty useful when it comes to this particular resource. 

Orbital Logistic System

Effect: – 1 Mineral and +1 Consumer goods from Artisans 

When it comes to Orbital Logistic Systems, Replicator Kiosks are the tech that you will need before you build them. As you can see by its effect, this building is very situational and you should go for it only if you need Consumer Goods and/or have a well-established Mineral production already. 

Alloy Processing Facilities

Effect: +1 Alloy but -2 Minerals from each Metallurgist

Another situational building that you can make is Alloy Processing Facilities. You will be able to build it after you research Nano-Separators but the thing is, these come with a great cost: Minerals. A much more viable solution for the Alloy production boost is going for an Ecumenopolis world as it will yield more resources for a lower price. 

Orbital Shield Generator

Effect: +25% Shields for Orbital Ring and Defense Platforms 

To be honest, this one is not so useful. Orbital Shield Generator does provide an additional boost in defense for Defense Platforms but unless you are 100% sure that the enemy fleet will attack it and you planned every detail of the encounter, we wouldn’t advise going for it. Sure, it is good for Orbital Rings that are built-in strategic choke points of your empire Hyperlanes, but other than that, it’s just a waste of resources. The tech required for it is Planetary Shields, which are even more useless.

Orbital Embassy Complex

Effect: +2 Envoys

Orbital Embassy Complex is another situational building that can be built only around your capital and after researching Xeno-Relations Society tech. If Diplomacy is your weapon of choice then these things are pretty useful as they will boost your Envoy capacity. Just be sure to put those Envoys into use after you finish building Orbital Embassy Complex. 

Orbital Stock Exchange 

Effect: +20% Trade Value and 2 Merchant jobs

Well, as you can assume, having a +20% Trade Value is sweet for every world that focuses on trade. Research Galactic Markets and you will be able to build this on your Orbital Ring. Combined with Merchantile tradition, you will have an enormous boost when it comes to trade. Just be sure to build other planetary structures that boost your trade and you will have no problem with this aspect. 

Orbital Maintenance Drops 

Effect: +1 Amenities from Maintenance Drones

Orbital Maintenance Drops can only be built if you are playing as a Machine Intelligence Empire and with Resource Processing Algorithms tech. Having extra Amenities from Maintence Drones is nice but to be honest, there are better things to go for on your Orbital Ring. You can solve the Amenities problem in another way and this just seems like a waste of resources. 

Orbital Slave Processing Hub

Effect: +5% resources from Slaves, -25% Slaves’ political power, -50% Automatic Resettlement chance 

For all of you that have empires that allow Slavery, this is a neat structure to have. Basically, you will get +5% production on most of your basic resources and decrease the political power of Slaves which can be a problem, especially in the mid-game phase. If you want to build Orbital Slave Processing Hub simply research Neural Implants tech and you are all set. 

Planetary-like buildings

Note that there are several other buildings, such as Psi-Corps (+2 Telepath Jobs and +5 Stability), Noble Estate (+2 Noble Jobs, +2 Housing), and Synaptic Relays (+1 Amenities from Synapse Drones) that you can also build on regular planets, providing that you are running that specific kind of empire. We won’t get into details about these buildings now as it’s pretty obvious that they are useful but only if you are playing that specific type of an empire. 

Final thoughts on Stellaris Orbital Rings

Orbital Ring from the Movie Orbital
Image credits: Movie Orbital

To sum it up, as you can see, Stellaris Orbital Rings are pretty useful Stellaris Megastructures when it comes to boosting your economy or boosting your military and defensive power. Since they are accessible early on, the common mistake is to spam them wherever you can – don’t do that. Try to pick the most important planets that yield the most resources and boost the economy there. Also, when it comes to defensive power, try to pick one or two choke points and build Orbital Rings there. The less is more in this case – especially early on. 

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