Stellaris

Any tips for a frustrated Stellaris newbie?

Edit* everyone here was actually super helpful. Awesome community. Thanks a lot. Answered all my questions

This game is honestly starting to frustrate me. I've done 2 playthroughs and started a new one earlier today. First playthrough was lots of fun as I learned the basics and accidently challenged a fallen empire who swiftly destroyed my last 3 hours of work. Second playthrough I took the lessons I learned and applied them. But it was incredibly frustrating to have hostile neighbors that could attack me anytime I got close to their borders, and not be able to go to war with them. Still I had fun and learned to better balance my colonized planets and what resources they produce.

Third time around and the game gives me 5 planets after expanding for a while, with 3 of them being barely habitable and costing extra upkeep for my pops. Kinda weird but ok ill accept the bad rng. At least the planets have lots of districts. However only one of the planets have a good amount of districts for producing energy and it took a lot expansion just to find it. There's not many mining stations that provide me with energy either. In other words this planet NEEDS to specialize in energy production if I hope to expand any further. The starbase capacity cap doesn't help with this either. I'm not sure what the point of it is, but again it just stops you from expanding. But fine ill just produce enough energy to offset the exceeded starbase capacity penalty.

All of a sudden that planet I was using to maintain positive energy growth decides to become independent presumably because of low amenities, which I think lead to low stability. Idk as far as I can tell with planets, its really impossible to not be in deficits while keeping your pops happy unless you want your planets to be a jumbled mess of different production.

Naturally I decided fuck their happiness. But fine ill make a claim on my colony and declare war to get it back even though my ships are probably less effective since the game decided to take all my energy production. I go to war and the fleet they stole from me rejoins me? No explanation as to how that works from the game. I literally have 4 fleets of ships at their rouge colony and they have NO FLEETS. I have control of the starbase but cant take control of the planet? And how the hell did I reach war exhaustion before them? I cant demand they surrender, they just decline every time.

Meanwhile another alien empire just attacks a different starbase in a different system I own out of the blue? They didn't even declare war or even insult me. Ok let me use one the 4 fleets that are just sitting at the independent colony to quickly rid of the hostile ships at the other starbase. I kill their fleet and now I cant take back the starbase? Its just stuck at 1hp and I cant do anything. Its in my borders and they didn't even make a claim on it. Its like the game is just sabotaging me for no reason and I just don't even know how to approach this game anymore. Expand at the slowest rate ever because I cant afford to dedicate a planet to the production of one or two recourses without them rioting and going rouge? I thought the point was to expand and I hope I'm just missing something really obvious that will allow me to actually get into the end game, cause right now i have no means of producing sufficient energy for the amount of systems I own, and I don't even have the option to take back that system from my own population despite the fact that they have no defenses, no control over the starbase in the system, and are completely surrounded, which is kinda dumb

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