The map is a celestial map used for a graphical overview of the "galaxy". During the game the player can use the map to obtain different types of Information, like other Empires, hostile fleets, star systems and their planets. After exploring a star system, the player can also see resources or habitable planets of a star system.
The galaxy map is what the player will be watching most often for ongoing developments and changes to the star systems. When starting a game, the galaxy of the map is procedurally generated, with its size and shape optionally specified, as well as the number of (normal) AI empires. Sizes currently range from 150 to 1000 stars. The amount of AI empires specified only affects how many AI controlled empires are generated from the start, as a lot more will spring into existence during your game.
Three different type of galaxies are available.
| Spiral galaxy
|Spiral galaxies (2 arms and 4 arms) have the stars placed in arms that extend out in a spiral pattern. A spiral galaxy provides an interesting geography, with voids between the arms that might be difficult to pass in a straight line.|
Expansion is limited to spiral arms.
| Spiral galaxy |
|Elliptical galaxy|| Elliptical galaxies have the stars placed in a ellipsoidal pattern , resulting in a more evenly distributed geography. |
Expansion is mostly unhindered.
|Ring galaxy|| Ring galaxies have the stars placed in a ring shape around the galaxy core, resulting in clockwise or counterclockwise fronts within the ring, making it easier to cut other empires off from the rest of the galaxy than it is with any other shape.|
Expansion is limited to a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.
A star is a celestial body that usually composes the center of a star system. They are classified based on their spectral types B,A,F,G,K,M. Some star systems can however be more special, like a black hole, pulsar, or a neutron star. The star type influences the generation of the solar system.
A star system is a grouping of planets, asteroids, and other features within a singular system which is isolated from other star systems. A solar system is the second level of territory size within Stellaris, the first being Planets, Moons, Asteroids, or any other objects within a star system. Owning territory of a star system can be accomplished by colonizing a body within the star system, expanding the Empires Borders over the star system, or by building Frontier outposts within the systems for a player to expand his/her borders. Having control of a star system permits the ability to expand by constructing orbital objects such as resource extractors, and allows colonizing habitual planets.
Every system with a certain star class has a certain specificity; you will, for example, have a hard time finding habitable planets close to a black hole. Within any star system, there can be anywhere from 10 to 15 planets.
Alongside stars and planets, nebulae feature heavily on the galactic map; these large accumulations of interstellar gas and dust tend to have fewer habitable planets within them, but the celestial bodies within them also have significantly higher chances of yielding rare strategic resources that can be difficult to find anywhere else.
Nebulae are always visible on the galaxy map, and have unique names such as Grasping Claw Nebula and Orantes Shroud. They also reduce the speed of Warp and Hyperdrive FTL travel by 30%.
The combination of strategic resource availability and FTL speed penalty make them a significant strategic element on the galactic map, as a well-positioned nebula can provide a buffer against enemy incursions, or a tempting war target for opportunists seeking to seize the resource deposits.
There are some subtle visual cues in the Galaxy Map that will can help you manage your empire. One of the more useful late game cues is star systems with the titles in dark gray. This is to let you know that the system has not been surveyed. This is useful because you may inherit a system as part of a war, but if you do not survey it, it may still contain hidden treasures.