Stellaris Resource Scale: Primitive + Megastructure Edition

Obviously, with Stellaris, we know that we are looking at “really big numbers,” given that this is a game involving harvesting suns and black holes for raw materials. However, I want a slightly more exact quantification, so I will make rough estimates (give or take a few orders of magnitude) for the value of energy credits, minerals, food, and alloys.

Energy Credits:

There are two easy estimations: our yearly energy production, and the energy production of a Dyson Sphere.

A Dyson Sphere produces 4,000 energy credits per month. The luminosity of the sun is 3.827*10^26 watts. Watts are joules per second, so we need to multiply by the number of seconds in a month (we will use 30 days, since all months in Stellaris are now 30 days), or 2.59 million seconds to get 9.92*10^32 joules generated by the Sun per month. Therefore, a single energy credit is worth about 248 octillion joules, or 280,000 yottajoules. For some context, that is greater than the rotational energy of the entire Earth and about 500 million times greater than our current yearly energy consumption. Of course, this is assuming a Dyson Sphere built around the Sun, and estimates may vary depending on which star you build the Dyson on (which is why I love Gigastructural Engineering’s megastructure scaling based on stellar classes).

For the second estimate, an Early Space Age primitive FTL civilization has two technician jobs that produce a total of 2 energy per month for a total of 24 energy per year. In 2018, the world energy projection was 14.42 billion metric tons of oil equivalent, or 600 quintillion joules. As such, a single energy credit is worth about 25 quintillion joules, or 7 thousand Terawatt-hours. That is about a billion times less than the Dyson Sphere estimate. I am more inclined to believe the Dyson Sphere estimate, given that the energy output of a pre-FTL civilization does not vary from industrialization and beyond, which is essentially saying that energy production in 1900 is the same as energy production today.


I will calculate this based off of Earth’s mining output and the mining output of an Early Space Age primitive civilization. An early space age civilization has two miner jobs for 6 minerals per month. Meanwhile, in 2017, the entire world consumed 100.6 billion metric tons of raw minerals, ores, and rocks for the entire year, which means that one Stellaris mineral is worth about 1.34 billion metric tons of raw materials.


Once again, I am going off the calculations for a primitive civilization. In 2018, 2.627 billion metric tons of grains were produced worldwide. An atomic/early space age primitive civilization will have 10 farmer jobs, for a production of 30 food per month. Dividing the yearly global output by the 30 food per month gets the value of 7.3 million metric tons of grain per unit of food.

Alternatively, I can calculate the amount of calories per unit of food. In 2017, the average per-capita daily food supply was 2919 kilocalories, for about 7.365 billion people. That amounts to a monthly food supply for the entire world of 644.95 trillion kilocalories. As such, a single unit of food is equivalent to 21.5 trillion kilocalories, or enough food to sustain about 240 million humans on the 2017 food supply for a month, a little under the population of Indonesia. Of course, this estimate would lowball the value of a Stellaris pop based on food upkeep, but pops are such a vague generalization that I don’t think it is worth factoring in.


For alloys, the issue is that primitives do not manufacture alloys, which implies that alloys are some sort of supermaterial that we have not discovered yet. The tier 1 armor is described as a nanocomposite, and we do have nanocomposites. However, these are not manufactured in industrial quantities yet, so I will focus on the next-best thing Earth has: superalloys, or advanced alloys that can operate without losing their mechanical properties at much higher temperatures than conventional alloys.

In 2017, global nickel production was 2.7 million metric tons, with 12%, or 324,000 tons, going towards nickel superalloy production, which amounted to 287,000 tons. However, in order to get a ratio of minerals to alloys, which we will use for the final conversion, we need to expand that 324,000 tons to include the unrefined material. Nickel ore has around a 1% nickel content, so the total amount of ore mined is closer to 32.4 million metric tons of ore to produce 287,000 tons of nickel-based superalloys. That means that for every 112.9 tons of raw material, 1 ton of superalloys is produced.

We know that the base metallurgist output is 3 alloys for every 6 minerals, or a 1:2 ratio of mineral upkeep to alloy production. Therefore, given 2 minerals, or 2.68 billion metric tons of raw material, each alloy is equivalent to 23.7 million metric tons, assuming a similar processing ratio as modern superalloys.

This is the most inaccurate estimate, given that it drastically underestimates the mass required for constructing megastructures (Dyson Spheres, Ringworlds), and it overestimates the mass for ships (a science ship would mass about 85 times more than a Lunar Class Cruiser from Warhammer 40k and 850 times more than the Enterprise-E). On the other hand, it would make estimates about colony ships carrying hundreds of millions in cryogenic storage more plausible.

Other Resources:

I would say that all other resources in Stellaris are impossible or difficult to quantify accurately.

Consumer goods is such a nebulous resource, and no one tracks the mass of consumer goods produced, only its worth (since a measurement of mass would be worthless anyways given that mass does not determine price). In addition, the worth of consumer goods will likely be very different in the future compared to the modern economy given advances in technology that will decrease manufacturing cost and the transition to an energy-backed economy.

Trade Value is also a nebulous term. The in-game descriptions says that trade value represents civilian day-to-day economic activity, or GDP. However, that does not explain why celestial bodies have trade deposits or why trade value needs a route to the capital. An alternative theory is the planetary taxes, but we also would not have an accurate estimation given that taxation likely varies between empires depending on their government type. If trade value represents planetary exports, then I don’t have a reliable way to guess the volume of exports of a planet in 2200 AD.

Influence and Unity are simplifications of political concepts and thus have no real world equivalent.

Research is also an oversimplification of actual research processes, so we cannot exactly quantify it.

We have no equivalent for the strategic resources, so we cannot estimate their equivalent reliably.

Amenities is also an abstraction of much more complex factors, so an estimation is also impossible.


The above are very general estimates, so take their accuracy with a grain of salt. However, I think that the estimates show a lot about the economy of Stellaris. For one, energy is a lot more abundant in the Stellaris than raw materials like minerals and food relative to our modern day industrial output, which makes sense in a civilization that will develop zero-point power and already has access to fusion.


All the World’s Metals and Minerals in One Visualization

2020 will have something to satisfy classic and modern gamers alike. To be eligible for the list, the game must be confirmed for 2020, or there should be good reason to expect its release in that year. Therefore, upcoming games with a mere announcement and no discernible release date will not be included.

2020 has a ton to look forward to…in the video gaming world. Here are fifteen games we’re looking forward to in the first half of 2020.

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