Stellaris is a traditional real-time 4X strategy game set in the distant future.
Like most strategy games one of your primary goals in Stellaris will be expanding your Empire.
This is largely done by expanding your borders to gain more and more territory.
This might seem simple in theory but in practice, it can be anything but simple.
Stellaris came out way back in 2016 so returning players might think they know all the answers.
Stellaris has seen a lot of updates since its release in 2016 with several key mechanics being overhauled.
The way you expand your border is one such area of the game which has seen major changes.
So, tighten your seatbelts as we explain, how to expand borders in stellaris.
So Why Expand Your Borders?
Like most grand strategy games there are lots of different ways to win a match in Stellaris with lots of victory conditions.
You might be asking yourself why bother expanding if it’s so confusing?
At its heart, Stellaris is a game about gaining Galactic Control. However peaceful you might try to be, the reality is you are playing to be the top dog.
Most strategies in Stellaris revolve around gaining influence.
Unsurprisingly, a bigger Empire tends to equal more influence.
Secondly, if you want to increase your Stellaris empire size, you’re going to need to establish lots of colonies.
You can only establish colonies within the borders of your Empire.
You might be asking yourself in Stellaris when to colonize? Very often if there’s a nice-looking planet you like the looks of but don’t have the resources to colonize you’ll only have one option.
Expand your borders to encompass that planet to keep it safe and ready for you to colonize at a later date.
So, you want to know in Stellaris, how to claim a system.
Expansion Through Outposts
The most straightforward Stellaris strategy to expand your borders is through the building of outposts.
Simply select your construction ship.
Then choose the system or star you want your borders to extend to and build an outpost.
From now on you’ll be able to colonize any habitable planets in this system.
So, you should just go crazy and start building outposts everywhere right?
Well, that depends on your strategy.
Firstly, it’s a good idea to send in your science ship so it can survey the system where you plan on expanding.
This will help you work out if the system is even worth expanding to. If it has lackluster resources or no habitable planets you may decide it’s not worth the effort.
What is the Stellaris frontier outpost range?
This can vary depending on several factors. The easiest solution is to save scum.
Save your game and build the outpost to see its range and effect on your border.
If you’re not happy with it, reload your save.
Secondly spamming out outposts all over the place can lead to a land grab race against other empires.
Because of this, some players choose to focus on chokepoints instead.
This means they place their Outposts in such a way that other Empires can’t expand.
However, this race to the checkpoints means you often have to skip systems. Skipping systems means less influence for your Empire.
Building a new outpost also uses up a lot of influence.
However, there is another option…
Expand Through Conquest!
Of course, if expanding into unoccupied territory sounds a little dull you can always take a more violent approach with this Stellaris strategy.
This wouldn’t be a grand strategy game if you couldn’t just take what you wanted.
If you defeat a rival Empire and give them a whooping then you can carve up their Empire and take parts of their territory for yourself.
Nothing is simple. Different Empires have differing War Philosophies.
These philosophies dictate what systems you can annex upon defeating said Empire.
If the philosophy protects a certain system, you can’t annex it.
The only exception is if the Empire has the philosophy “Unrestricted Warfare”. This lets you have Stellaris unrestricted wars.
In this case, you can take over all of their territories!
As long as a system doesn’t belong to a Federation member.
If you plan on expanding boundaries through conquest, you’ll have to get well acquainted with the claims management tab to keep track of which systems you’re annexing.
The other factor to remember is that wars aren’t cheap and going to war comes with risks.
What goes around comes around with this Stellaris strategy.
If you start a fight with another Empire and lose, you could well find yourself losing territory, not gaining it.
This is a problem when in Stellaris expanding borders is the name of the game.
Likewise, it’s important not to jump straight in. Make sure your Empire is well established and can look after itself before dumping important resources into conquests.
Open or Closed Borders in Stellaris?
As you expand your borders you’ll have to decide whether to keep your borders open or closed.
In Stellaris, open borders will ease tensions with neighboring Empires. This is beneficial if you’re planning a diplomatic run.
However, having other Empires zipping through your territory can get annoying, especially if they’re using your open borders to claim territory.
To avoid this, make sure you have colonized and claimed everything you want within your borders before opening them.
Closed borders on the other hand are great for keeping the other Empires out of your hair.
In the early game, they can help with territory expansion.
However closed borders are a diplomatic nightmare. It annoys your neighboring Empires if you close them.
If you’re asking Stellaris how to close borders?
The option can be found in the diplomacy menu. Be warned, it is still a little buggy.
It’s probably best to only keep your borders closed if you plan on going to war frequently.
Closing your borders also makes it more likely that other Empires will do the same.
If they close their borders you can’t travel through them to colonize new systems.
This isn’t always clear until Stellaris tells you there is no root to your chosen system.
If you keep finding that Stellaris says no route to the system. You might want to try opening your borders for a while and playing nice.
In the end, there are only really two guaranteed ways to expand your borders in Stellaris.
You can either spend time and influence traveling to new systems or building outposts.
Or go around declaring war on other Empires and taking what’s theirs.
Whichever you choose depends on what kind of Stellaris strategy you’re going for.
You may also have heard of Stellaris feudal empires. These are empires that have vassals that they can consume to gain territory. Useful but often not as efficient as just exploring and building Outposts.
At the end of the day, Stellaris is a strategy game.
Playing this way, you’ll find the perfect blend of Outposts and Conflicts to match your preferred play style.
In Stellaris how to expand borders is ultimately up to you.