Stellaris Federations Guide: The Best Federation Types & Choices

Which Federation type will keep your empire happy and, honestly, well-paid?

Stellaris Federation types determine which bonuses your galactic community receives as it evolves — if you choose to go down this diplomatic route at all, of course. The best Federation types in Stellaris fluctuate a bit depending on what you want and need. Which empires popped up next to yours? What kind of cultures do they have? What Ethics did you select and which boosts do they give you? The game has so many possible variations that you may and likely will need to adjust on the fly. We can still give you a basic idea of what to focus on and when, however, so let’s take a look in our guide to the best Stellaris Federation types!

What Are the Stellaris Federation Types?

This guide does presume you have at least a very basic knowledge of how Federations work in Stellaris. For example, you should probably know that many features are only available if you own the Stellaris: Federations expansion. A Federation can also only include true in-game empires: Enclaves like independent mercenaries (even if you’re their patron), the psychic Shroud-Touched Coven, or the scrap-happy Salvagers don’t count. Even though they show up in the same Contacts menu.

Then you need to purchase the Federation Tradition to, well, form a Federation. If you don’t choose a particular Origin that puts you in a Federation immediately. Simple! Federations can also start during certain endgame events, when galactic crises and Fallen Empires begin to affect the galaxy. You can then attempt to change the type of Federation after joining or creating it. Though this will reduce that Federation back to Level 1 (forgoing any bonuses from higher ranks).

Last but not least, it’s worth understanding that a Federation’s most critical role in Stellaris is to help stop any in-game “crises”: galaxy-destroying endgame threats that require multiple empires to band together and defeat. Whenever this guide or an in-game buff from a particular type of Federation refers to a crisis, that’s what it means.

Now here’s a very basic overview of different Federation types in Stellaris, along with their starting bonuses, followed by the general role each plays:

  • Galactic Union:
    • -50% Cohesion loss from Ethics
    • +60 Intel cap across member empires
  • Trade League:
    • Unlocks the Trade League trade policy
    • +50 Intel cap across member empires
  • Martial Alliance:
    • +100 starting ship XP
    • +100 starting army XP
    • +25% faster ship building
    • +50 Intel cap across member empires
  • Research Cooperative:
    • Free Research Agreement diplomacy actions between members
    • +50 Intel cap across member empires
  • Hegemony:
    • Members can’t leave the Federation
    • Members can use “Secede” casus belli to attempt to leave
    • Lower Centralization requirements
    • +40 Intel cap across member empires

stellaris federations

Galactic Union is arguably the “basic” Federation type. It’s also the only Federation type available if you don’t own the Federations DLC. It comes with minor, fairly nondescript bonuses for all members (and further boosts for the President, as with all the Federation types). The upside is that it focuses on stability. It’s much harder for a straightforward Galactic Union to dissolve from a lack of Cohesion than other Federations in Stellaris. This means less micromanagement and a generally easier time using the Federation for its most vital goal: combating the interstellar crisis. It’s also open to the most empires. The only requirement to join a Galactic Union is to not have the Galactic Despoilers Civic.

Trade League is, naturally, focused on trade. More specifically it boosts the effects of Trade Value. This is a resource that only generates Energy Credits by default for every empire that has at least some Trade Value. Yet a Trade League opens up the Trade League policy: converting some of those Energy Credits into Consumer Goods and Unity instead. Higher levels of a Trade League Federation generate more and more Trade Value as well.

Martial Alliance is focused on navies, defense, and fighting. Members build ships faster and gain a +100 bonus to starting experience on their ships and armies. Higher levels of this Federation type also gain access to larger Federation Fleets and even more damage against crises than usual.

Research Cooperative, if you can believe it, gives a bonus to research for all members. Specifically, it creates free Research Agreements between all members — granting +25% bonus research on any technology that another member of the Federation already completed. Higher levels of a Research Cooperative grant more flat bonuses to research speed (especially during crises) and double the chance of discovering “rare” technology. If another member of the Federation has that rare technology already, that is.

Hegemony is unique among the Federation types in Stellaris. Members cannot leave whenever they feel like. Instead, they need to use a special casus belli called “Secede” that becomes available inside the Hegemony. This Federation is all about absorbing new members and getting them to do what you want (if you’re the President). Federations also include a statistic called “Centralization,” which basically determines how much sway Federation law has over its members. In a Hegemony, different actions require less Centralization to affect member states, meaning empires need to do what the Hegemony says more often. Members also generally enjoy increased resources from jobs and, at Level 4, nix the upkeep costs of both Migration Treaties and Research Agreements.

The Best Federation Type in Stellaris

As mentioned above, the best type of Federation is slightly subjective. It depends on what type of empire you’re playing and what’s going on in your campaign. Though a couple stand out from the pack: Trade League and Hegemony. This is thanks to their flexibility and consistency.

First let’s talk about the Trade League. It’s true that some empires will focus on Trade Value more than others. Megacorps in particular are extremely trade oriented. Yet most empires in Stellaris (Gestalt Consciousness governments excluded) benefit from Trade Value at least a little. A Trade League doesn’t just grant extra benefits from trade; it boosts the resource altogether.

This is why it’s both flexible and consistent. It provides things that you need (Energy Credit, Consumer Goods, and Unity) which you can then spend on anything of your choosing. Compare this to a Research Cooperative. While there is some raw research speed to consider, most of the benefit comes from Research Agreements, which depend on the semi-random choices of other Federation members. Those agreements only work if you happen to research something another empire has already learned. While the odds of that are pretty good, it’s not guaranteed to get you what you want or need, and the true benefits aren’t always felt immediately. Discovering new ship technology doesn’t actually help you until you then build the ships, for instance. Unity and Energy Credits can be used immediately and for a variety of things.

Th Hegemony enjoys many of the same benefits as the Trade League. You get more resources that you can put to a variety of things. On top of that, you have a greater deal of control over who joins your Federation (i.e. who gets forced into it), who stays, and what actions are taken by your Federation. This of course puts greater importance on actually becoming the President. If you’re in charge, though, it’s a huge boon to your empire. And reaching the maximum rank of Level 5 will give you a portion of every member’s Diplomatic Weight to keep you in charge.

And that’s that for our suggestions on the best Federation types in Stellaris! We hope this at least helps you figure out which super-government is right for you. Best of luck uniting the galaxy against that existential crisis on the horizon.