Stellaris

The Ragnarok Run – The Most Difficult (Survivable) Run [Grand Admiral, x25 Crisis, End-Game 2250 & more]

stellaris 3 - The Ragnarok Run - The Most Difficult (Survivable) Run [Grand Admiral, x25 Crisis, End-Game 2250 & more]
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So, allow me to start with a bit of accreditation – Jon from Many A True Nerd attempted an "Impossible Run" in Stellaris:
– Huge Galaxy, max advanced AI, max Fallen Empires, max marauders.
– Mid-game year at 2225, End-game year at 2250.
– Grand Admiral, x5 Crisis Strength, max aggressiveness.

Lathrix from Lathland performed a similar feat with some differences:
– Medium Galaxy, no advanced AI.
– End Game year started 2350.
– Grand Admiral, x25 Crisis Strength!!
These were both very solid runs that went on to show that these kinds of challenges are… possible.
And so I've been toying with the idea of a run that captures the essence of both of these playthroughs, taking the hardest elements from each.

The idea for the "Ragnarok" Run is the following:
– Huge Galaxy, max advanced AI, max Fallen Empires, max marauders.
– Mid-game year at 2225, End-game year at 2250.
– Grand Admiral, x25 Crisis Strength, max aggressiveness.
– Will be played as a 5-person multiplayer game under iron-man rules.

Now, the notion of this being a multiplayer run may deviate highly from these other incredibly tough playthroughs – but I feel like the reasoning is sound. With a game that is *at least* 5 times more difficult than the run attempted by MATN solo, I feel like bringing a few more brains to the table is fair game, especially when faced with the reality that some of my allies may end up getting outright exterminated.

So this leaves two sets of parameters to polish – empire builds, and the remaining sliders.

So far, my group of fellow Harbingers of the End have decided on three empires that we'll be using, but advice on alterations, and additions of two powerful empires would be greatly appreciated.
1) The first empire will be a research focused Machine Consciousness (MC) with a Ringworld origin. We're hoping to have them act as a largely self-sustaining super state that the other Harbingers will be able to have research agreements with. Naturally they'll also be quite potent in terms of military force, but as the MC has access to Machine Worlds, they will also be able to make efficient use of smaller planets for raw resource extraction.
2) The second empire will be a Megacorp focused squarely on profit generation and maintaining good relations with the rest of the galaxy so we aren't blindsided by wars too early on. Fanatic xenophile is a must, with egalitarian seeming the obvious second choice. We would consider spiritualist ethics, but it is a bit underwhelming outside of Gospel of The Masses. Potentially cannibalising a federation origin would allow us to start up a Military Alliance faster.
3) The third empire will have to be a militarist who's first goal is the establishment of a Military Alliance – with the federation at +50% damage to the Crisis at level 5, it's simply a must have. Whether the militarism is fanatic, or whether I take authoritarian or egalitarian is still up for debate.
4) Still in the ideation phase, advice on builds that would synergise well with the above appreciated. I should point out we're only really going to want a single Gestalt Consciousness simply to allow the MegaCorp to make more money, but if you think say, a Tree of Life set of Hivemind would be more beneficial, please do share!
5) ^ Same as 4) ^

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This leaves a number of sliders and other options to play with, and I'm considering options to make it easier or harder depending on how feasible we end up thinking this is.
– Galaxy shape: Elliptical would be the most balanced, but Spirals give us options for holding certain systems fairly readily, and Ring shapes would potentially allow us to contest enemies on at least two fronts at all times.
– Tech/Tradition cost is the main thing I'm debating at the moment – leaving it at one seems like the most normal course of action, but I'm concerned we'll simply not have enough time for late-game tech if we leave it at one, but on the other hand cranking it up a notch would increase the difficulty, lending more gravity to the playthrough. But as I mention in the title, what matters is that this run is survivable, and we already have a lot stacked against us.
– Similarly, the number of habitable planets will simply be a constraint on the sizes of our economies. We could reduce the number of planets to increase difficulty, or we could increase it to give ourselves a better platform for repelling the crisis. Opinions are welcome again here.
– I'm ambivalent about primitives – the last thing I want them doing is preventing me from accessing a size 25 world, but at the same time… they're fun! What do you think I should do about them?
– As for Hyperlane density, I again am on the fence – reducing the density will give us more defensive options in terms of chokepoints which I do feel would make the game easier. It may also be one of our only ways to well and truly survive some incursions.
– I would love to turn off Wormholes all-together; I hate the idea of being assaulted through a back-door I simply hadn't explored, but if people feel disabling them is against the spirit of the game I would leave them in. Conversely, I would love to max out gateways. Reducing the cost on allied empires of navigation would be an *incredible* boon to our war effort, and I'm seriously considering it in terms of balancing things towards greater survivability.
– Guaranteed habitable worlds would be turned off – they'd be lovely of course, but this is meant to be a challenge run.

Finally some smaller details:
– We won't be playing with intentionally "difficult" empires. What I mean by that is we aren't starting with negative trait points, we will be using all of our starting civic slots, and we will not be using the Doomsday origin.

Everyone, thank you for taking the time to read everything so far, I look forward to reading every single bit of advice you have to give!

TLDR;
Doing a Stellaris Challenge Run, need help with deciding on multiplayer empire builds, and need help deciding what to do with ancillary sliders. There are some key tenets, but the game must be survivable after those conditions are met.

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