Picking the right Tradition in Stellaris can be a tricky task. While choosing the right Tradition usually is based on what things you are trying to achieve (politics, war, diplomacy, etc.), it can’t be denied that, just like Ascension Perks, some Traditions are inherently more useful than others. We acknowledge that there can’t be a Stellaris Traditions tier list of absolute power since certain Traditions that are bad in some situations are the optimal pick in others. This tier list accounted for all recent significant changes to Harmony, Prosperity, Mercantile, Versatility, Synchronicity, and Adaptability Traditions.
Traditions that help you early and throughout the whole game remain on top of the list of priorities. The main big thing that Patch 3.6 and 3.7 brought is that there are fewer “useless” things when it comes to Traditions in Stellaris. This is also notable in the mechanics of ship design in Stellaris, and it also applies in regard to Traditions. Nevertheless, there are still some unbalanced things. We will explore all the traditions and their place in the game. Here is our comprehensive Stellaris Tradition Tier List ranked by overall power, usefulness, and flexibility.
The most notable thing about Expansion Tradition is that it gets you an extra pop on the newly colonized planet. This makes your early game much smoother and enables you to get ahead of the curve in terms of pops. We all know that pops are the main culprit for success in the early-mid stages of the game. Furthermore, you get a lot of good benefits down the line so this all makes Expansion a must-pick. This is surely the best pick early in the game since all the benefits that it provides in its tree are very beneficial throughout the whole game.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Expansion Tree
You can’t go wrong with picking Prosperity as one of the first Traditions. The bonuses such as Mining Station Output, reduced Upkeep, Job output modifiers and Housing are essential for mitigating problems with the economy in the future. We suggest you pick this Tradition as soon as possible in order to start benefiting from the increased output and decreased upkeep. This one is on top of our Stellaris Traditions tier list because the economy is one of the key elements for a powerful empire.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Prosperity Tree
We said that various Traditions benefit different empires. If you are playing a Megacorporation, Mercantile is the best Tradition you can pick. It has everything you need in order to get your economy to another level. The +20% Trade Value alone is good enough to pick it, let alone all the other benefits like Trade Protection, Trade Value per Clerk, Trade League Federation boosts, etc. You simply can’t play any economy-focused empire without this Tradition. Even if you are not playing a MegaCorp, there is a place for picking this tradition down the line.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Mercantile Tree
One of the biggest benefits of Diplomacy is that it is required to create Federations. In some cases, Diplomacy is absolutely useless, usually when you’re playing an AI Exterminator or similar, and everybody already hates you, so there is no point in reconciling relationships. On the other hand, in a Diplomatic focused empire like a Xenophile MegaCorp, this Tradition can seriously change your whole game. Being able to form Federations, having extra envoys, Diplomatic Weight, and bonus Unity from Embassies are all huge benefits that make one of the Stellaris best Traditions.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Diplomacy Tree
There isn’t too much philosophy revolving around this Tradition. If you are, want to be, or even thinking of being at war with someone, Supremacy is a must-pick. It essentially enhances your fleet in every shape and form (Capacity, Build Speed, Build Cost, Command Limit, etc.). We all know that even if you are playing a peaceful empire, war is imminent in Stellaris. Whether you are facing an Ancient Empire, Exterminator, or Endgame Crisis, sooner or later, you will need to boost your fleet power to some extent.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Supremacy Tree
This Tradition is exclusive to a Machine empire. It comes down to the basic systems that are extremely important in Stellaris – Pop Assembly, Housing, and Upkeep. Versatility Tradition deals with all three and is especially important because of the reduction of the Pop Assembly. The +2 Amenities per Maintenance Drone is also a big factor since if you have a lot of planets and pops, there will be a lot of Drones going around. Having +2 Amenities for each one will essentially stop you from worrying about your empire’s Happiness.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Versatility Tree
Discovery has an interesting place in the game. The Tradition itself isn’t bad and we pick it more often than not, but sometimes there are other choices that are higher on the priority list. Basically, as the name suggests, this Tradition revolves around speeding up your Research Speed in every aspect of the game. If you picked the first 2-3 Traditions that are your top priority or are thinking of going for a tech rush, Discovery is mandatory. The bonuses for Research Stations and the overall Research Speed can ramp up and let you research new technology in a matter of few months. This all makes Discovery rank well in our Stellaris Traditions tier list.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Discovery Tree
We already mentioned that certain Traditions are not that useful in given scenarios and can be an optimal pick in others. While it may seem like a good all-rounder Tradition, there are a lot of things that will benefit you only in specific scenarios. To get the full benefits of this Tradition, you essentially have to be a “police state”. While there are things that will benefit you regardless of your empire type (-33% Clear blocker cost, -10% Empire Size from Pops, etc.), there is a certain archetype of the empire where Domination is sued the best. Slave labor, Workers, Enforcers, Government total control, and overall a more dictatorial regime is where Domination shines the most.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Domination Tree
Harmony Tradition has some overall good benefits, but nothing too game-changing. It gives you sort of everything in balance, so your empire will stabilize a bit more. The benefits that you get with picking Harmony like Governing Ethics Attraction, -10 Crime, +5 Stability, etc. all imply that this Tradition is “trying” to avert any unwelcoming events like rebellions and criminal uprisings. It wouldn’t be our first pick and the best Tradition, but if you have free space and need some extra boost and stability, Harmony is an okay choice.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Harmony Tree
->Hover/Click For Detailed Synchronicity Tree (Machine)
Politics Tradition was introduced recently and fulfills a certain role in the game. It’s not the best Tradition in the general sense, but if you are playing in a diplomatic way and want to dominate the galaxy with politics, this is the way to go. The reason why it’s so low on our list is two-fold: Firstly, you can establish diplomatic power without this Tradition (especially if you have all other things in place in order for you to have diplomatic power). Secondly, the overall system of Resolutions and general decisions will not influence your game that much (in most scenarios). While there are some Resolutions you really don’t want to get passed in certain scenarios (eg. Anti-slave Resolution when you have slaves), a lot of them aren’t really impactful and generally don’t make or break the game for you.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Politics Tree
While Adaptability as a function is extremely important in Stellaris, the problem with this Tradition is not the concept, but rather the lackluster bonuses you get. In certain scenarios, this is good and it can be very beneficial (eg. if you want to resettle a lot of pops or have Housing issues), but other than that, it doesn’t feel that good. The -10% Pop Housing Usage and +10% Habitability are nice, but other things like Orbital bombardment damage and “Planetary Prospecting Decision” are underwhelming, especially when you consider other options like Mercantile or Prosperity Traditions. While it’s useful in some situations, it’s simply not up to par to be at the top of our Stellaris Traditions tier list.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Adaptability Tree
Like anything with words like Encryption and Codebreaking in Stellaris, Subterfuge Tradition feels ineffective. It did receive some updates and changes, but it’s still bad compared to others. The most notable benefits are the Cloaking Tech benefits, +5 Change to Evade, and +10 Tracking. This makes your fleet more powerful, which is always a huge plus. On the other hand, all the other benefits have to do with the “hacking and infiltration” mechanics in Stellaris, which we all know can’t make much difference in most scenarios. We just feel that the concept is very good, but the overall cost-to-benefit factor in regard to Encryption and Infiltration isn’t that valuable to be at the top of our Stellaris Traditions tier list.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Subterfuge Tree
Although we realize that Unyielding has its place in the game, usually this Tradition is picked later on and is sort of a “reactive” choice, rather than proactive. In Stellaris, you usually want to maximize your efficiency and, in the end, get “rewarded” with the best fleet or the most powerful empire overall. Choosing a Tradition like Unyielding is rather good only in scenarios where you think the extra defense will be worth picking. Keep in mind that you sacrifice a whole Tradition tree while doing so, so instead of something like Harmony, Diplomacy, etc. you basically pick a “defense” Tradition. All in all, a perfect pick in some scenarios, but not optimal in many.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Unyeilding Tree
Special – Ascension Traditions
Ascension Traditions can’t be compared to regular ones in our Stellaris Traditions tier list. Since these Traditions are special and don’t fit in with the rest, they can’t be ranked in a proper way. In our Stellaris Ascension Perks Tier List, we discuss and compare all the Ascension Perks in more detail. Either way, if you choose any of the Ascension paths, we strongly suggest you just pick the Tradition that is linked to its Ascension Perk, since you will have a ton of benefits.
Psionics is surely the most popular Ascension path in Stellaris. It provides unique benefits, cool roleplay, and a lot of new possibilities. Like any other Ascension path, you get a lot of benefits for your pops and the whole empire. With Psionics, you also get full access to the Shroud, which is a topic in itself. Other things to note are that your leaders can become The Chosen One, and you can have Awakenings throughout your whole empire. Overall, we find Psionics perhaps the most powerful Ascension path, since there are ways to get it early on and have the benefits throughout the whole game.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Psionics Tree
When you unlock this Tradition (from The Flesh Is Weak), we suggest you pick it up as soon as possible, as it gives all your pops the Cybernetic trait, and boosts your Unity, Society, and Engineering. Basically, Cybernetics makes your pops have less maintenance, quicker assembly, and more efficiency than regular ones. Furthermore, there are some unique factors to consider, like the ability of Homicidal empires to have a +10% Pop Growth Speed on planets with ongoing Purges, which is an interesting mechanic. In a nutshell, this path just gives your pops many bonuses that make them more efficient in every shape and form.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Cybernetics Tree
Genetic modification is an interesting concept that isn’t that straightforward. The main addition is that you can play around in the Species Tree a lot. Adding, removing, and modifying traits is the main benefit of this path. On top of that, you have an additional +1.5 Monthly Organic Pop Assembly from Clone Vats. This means that Genetics synergizes extremely well with the Clone Army origin, one of the best origins in Stellaris. All in all, this path is not considered the best in most situations, but combining it with Clone Vats is very powerful and can’t be underestimated.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Genetics Tree
Going for the Synthetic empire modifier is a similar concept to Cybernetics. The whole empire will start generating robotic pops and you will practically become a Machine empire. This in turn gives you a lot of benefits like +10% Robot Output, Leader bonuses, modification points, and so on. The reason Synthetics (full machine) are regarded as less efficient than Cybernetics (half bio, half machine) is simply that the benefits are generally lackluster in comparison. In some scenarios, Synthetics can be better, but usually, Cybernetics Ascension is preferable.
->Hover/Click For Detailed Synthetics Tree