Many of the Empires that can appear in Stellaris have hugely varied beliefs, values and goals, but unlike all but the most hostile Empires that can appear, the Marauders live and breathe conflict. Introduced as part of the Apocalypse Expansion, the Marauders are nomadic and militant clans of aliens that have rejected living on planets and instead prefer living on space stations called void dwellings.

Like pirates that can appear in an Empire’s under-protected star systems, the Marauders are much more organized and powerful. Their territories are open for your ships to pass through, but they are always hostile and will attack.

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Like typical space pirates, the Marauders will occasionally decide to send a fleet to raid an Empire’s colony world for their resources or even their populations. Before they send the fleet, they will offer you the chance to pay them tribute with energy credits, minerals or food. These tributes will increase in price as the game progresses, with later prices in the range of thousands. For Empires that refuse to pay, the raid will commence. Even if your Empire isn’t bordering with the Marauders’ territory, their fleet will pass through other Empires system as neutrals. They can also travel through wormholes if it makes the trip faster.

Once arriving at your territory, it will destroy every mining and research station in your systems, as well as any starbases and ships they come across. The fleet will then begin orbital bombardment of a colony until it reaches 15 devastation, at which point it will steal either your resources or up to 4 pops. Afterward, the fleet will return to their territory but remain hostile on the way back. A Marauder’s fleet power is determined by the number of years passing, with fleets having as much as 10k power later on. This makes any fight against the Marauders increasingly difficult to repel in early years.

A Marauder Empire can be wiped out by destroying all of the void dwellings in the 3 systems they control. But they are heavily defended and can’t generally be successfully attacked until mid to late-game. The Marauders’ dwellings are defended by multiple fleets with as much as 12k fleet power, and the dwellings themselves have 4k power.

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Despite their hostility, the Marauders can actually be useful for Empires willing to deal with them. If you have a rival Empire, you can pay the Marauders to raid one of their colonies for 3000 energy credits. This can distract and significantly weaken a rival without having to get your own hands dirty. Keep in mind though that your rivals can do the same to you, and in cases when they are paid off by Empires, there’s no option to offer tribute to leave you alone. The Marauders will also refuse to attack any Fallen Empire that you’ve declared a rivalry with.

You can also hire an Admiral or General from the Marauders to command one of your fleets or armies for 2000 energy, starting with level 3 experience and coming with the Mercenary Warrior trait, which gives an Admiral 10% increase to evasion and fire rate, and a General 10% increase to army damage.

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Once the mid-game year has been reached, the Marauder’s services will expand to hiring out entire fleets as mercenaries that you can command. These fleets come in varying sizes, technology and experience, they cannot be merged, split or disbanded, and their admiral cannot be dismissed. While these mercenary fleets won’t count towards naval capacity, their contract will only last for 5 years, while giving your Empire a chance to renew the contract when their time is up. And as bad as they are, the Marauders have some standards, in that they will refuse to interact with any kind of genocidal empire besides raiding them.

Empire’s that directly border with Marauder Empires will experience one-time events that can indirectly benefit them, including gaining resources from salvage, accepting refugees or even gaining an entire abandoned Marauder fleet to add to your own. If a Marauder Empire has been destroyed, refugees will settle on any Empire worlds that are willing to accept refugees.

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After the mid-game year has passed, there is a chance of one of the Marauder Empires unifying under the leadership of the Great Khan, a leader that wishes to expand their people’s borders against any Empire they border with. These Marauders will then become known as the Horde, or “Marauder Khanate.” The Horde has an increased chance of happening if any other Marauder Empire was wiped out. When created, the Horde will create new fleets of roughly 20-30k fleet power, construction ships for building new void dwellings and even army transport ships to invade an Empire’s colonies.

The Khan themselves will personally lead the most powerful fleet called “Chosen of the Great Khan” as a level 10 Admiral with unique bonuses to his entire fleet. The number of ships the Horde will have depends on the game difficulty setting, although the Horde will also regularly spawn new fleets until the Great Khan’s death. For Empires that are unable to fend of the Horde, the Khan will offer to make them a Satrapy state, subject to the Horde and required to provide a tribute of 10% energy and 20% mineral production as well as 30% of their naval capacity.

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If you manage to destroy the Great Khan’s fleet, they will escape but return to the war with a new fleet within a year. If this new fleet is destroyed a second time, the Khan will not attempt to escape and will die in battle. But if not killed in battle, the Khan can also potentially die from a random event such as disease or assassination. If none of this happens, the Khan will die from natural causes in 15-45 years. If the Great Khan dies for whatever reason, the Horde’s fleets will end their expansion and retreat within their borders. Afterward, the Horde will be turned back into a Marauder Empire if they didn’t manage to conquer any planets, or a regular random Empire if they did manage to take any planets for themselves.

Whichever Empire manages to defeat the Khan and his Horde, they will be rewarded with the Khan’s Throne relic, which has a passive effect of minus 20% influence cost when trying to claim a system. It also has a triumph effect of 20% increase to weapons damage, and a 25% increase in Militarist Ethics attraction for 10 years, for 150 influence.

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