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Subject: Expanded Diplomacy? rss

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Alex Krasny
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I will admit that I am very new to this game, 4 games total (Shadow of the Void expansions) and I love it. However I feel, for a 4X game, the diplomacy game is pretty minimal.

I wonder if anyone has messed around with opening up some options for player cooperation. Here are some things that seem obvious to me, and easy enough to accomplish in the game.

- Trading resources with another player
This is pretty self-explanatory, but if another player is willing to trade with you they should be able to. Players could negotiate value on their own, 1 for 1, 2 for 1, 3 for 2 whatever. Taking a page out of the civilization book, maybe a player could even agree to pay an X-money-per-turn agreement in order to capitulate to a more powerful rival instead of being squashed out? I was thinking initiating such an agreement would involve the active player to take the influence action.

- Trading/selling ship upgrades
Trading research doesn't seem possible given the current game mechanics, however trading upgrades does. The active player would choose the upgrade action, but instead of upgrading their own ship, they can send 1 upgrade into the blueprint of an allied ship. Resource payment can be negotiated and delivered.

- Open boarders
I know this is possible in an alliance, but why not just a 1-time open borders agreement?

Of course I realize freedom like this would greatly strengthen being peaceful and turtling. But I think it might make the game feel more alive. As if you are a real leader dealing with negotiations with other races rather then just the hands of politics that currently exists.

Would any of these break the game in your opinion?
 
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Starkiller
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The problem with expanding diplomacy is there is no in-game mechanic to limit it. And Eclipse is a very tight game...for example, unlike TI3 which is loose and has a lot of room to tweak, tweaking Eclipse usually messes up the play balance.

Trading upgrades in particular is bad, as the limit to upgrades is the techs. If you allow trading upgrades, you and your ally could feasibly build the ultimate ship while only researching half the techs. This would allow really dangerous ships too early in the game.gulp

A lot of the limitation to diplomacy is there to keep an alliance from getting too powerful.

It is quite abstracted and simple, but adding much more will tend to make alliances too powerful.

I personally would say that Eclipse is not the game to play if you are hungering for deep diplomacy. There is just not that much room to tweak....
 
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Peter O
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Eclipse is full of diplomacy. You don't need more mechanics, you simply need to talk to other players and make deals. You can trade systems. You can talk about who to attack. You can make all sort of alliance systems if you want to take the time.

The ultimate game of diplomacy, Diplomacy, has extremely minimal mechanics inherent to the game. You have time set aside to talk every turn and you can support or transport foreign units. Otherwise it has even fewer mechanics dedicated to "diplomacy" than Eclipse does.

But do add whatever adds to your enjoyment. I'm just a less is more person.
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Alex Krasny
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tranenturm wrote:
Eclipse is full of diplomacy. You don't need more mechanics, you simply need to talk to other players and make deals. You can trade systems. You can talk about who to attack. You can make all sort of alliance systems if you want to take the time.

The ultimate game of diplomacy, Diplomacy, has extremely minimal mechanics inherent to the game. You have time set aside to talk every turn and you can support or transport foreign units. Otherwise it has even fewer mechanics dedicated to "diplomacy" than Eclipse does.

But do add whatever adds to your enjoyment. I'm just a less is more person.


Hmm I don't agree that it is full of diplomacy. The only way to interact with players is to attack. It's fair to say this is enough and the game is fine as is (assuming diplomacy mechanics were play tested). However I think this game suffers most when a player is in a losing war with another player. He has no means to come out of the situation.

This player cannot pay/bribe another player to come to his aid. This player cannot capitulate and offer to pay or give away something in exchange for a truce. The player cannot even ask an ALLY for material gains like ship upgrades. The only option is player elimination. I think that is unfortunate and kinda takes me out of the epic feel of the game.
 
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Chris K.
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VirtualAlex wrote:
tranenturm wrote:
Eclipse is full of diplomacy. You don't need more mechanics, you simply need to talk to other players and make deals. You can trade systems. You can talk about who to attack. You can make all sort of alliance systems if you want to take the time.

The ultimate game of diplomacy, Diplomacy, has extremely minimal mechanics inherent to the game. You have time set aside to talk every turn and you can support or transport foreign units. Otherwise it has even fewer mechanics dedicated to "diplomacy" than Eclipse does.

But do add whatever adds to your enjoyment. I'm just a less is more person.


Hmm I don't agree that it is full of diplomacy. The only way to interact with players is to attack. It's fair to say this is enough and the game is fine as is (assuming diplomacy mechanics were play tested). However I think this game suffers most when a player is in a losing war with another player. He has no means to come out of the situation.

This player cannot pay/bribe another player to come to his aid. This player cannot capitulate and offer to pay or give away something in exchange for a truce. The player cannot even ask an ALLY for material gains like ship upgrades. The only option is player elimination. I think that is unfortunate and kinda takes me out of the epic feel of the game.



It takes a few games, but over time players tend to learn 3 things:

a) player elimination is usually a waste of resources and will not win you the game. You are using actions and resources to eliminate the remainder of the opponent which does not gain you a lot. Having a large Empire is VERY expensive.

b) knocking one player down to a position where they feel they cannot win anymore but stopping short of eliminating them is a sure way to also not win the game. They will likely now just declare it their alternate target to make sure YOU are not winning and therefore bind resources and actions of yours.


c) a "Total War" and "Total Retaliation" Mindset does not win games. It leads to turtling and "Final Round"-Warfare that is a bad idea for most races. "Limited warfare whenever you enjoy a temporary advantage" is the name of the game.

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Chris K.
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VirtualAlex wrote:
tranenturm wrote:
Eclipse is full of diplomacy. You don't need more mechanics, you simply need to talk to other players and make deals. You can trade systems. You can talk about who to attack. You can make all sort of alliance systems if you want to take the time.

The ultimate game of diplomacy, Diplomacy, has extremely minimal mechanics inherent to the game. You have time set aside to talk every turn and you can support or transport foreign units. Otherwise it has even fewer mechanics dedicated to "diplomacy" than Eclipse does.

But do add whatever adds to your enjoyment. I'm just a less is more person.


Hmm I don't agree that it is full of diplomacy. The only way to interact with players is to attack. It's fair to say this is enough and the game is fine as is (assuming diplomacy mechanics were play tested). However I think this game suffers most when a player is in a losing war with another player. He has no means to come out of the situation.

This player cannot pay/bribe another player to come to his aid. This player cannot capitulate and offer to pay or give away something in exchange for a truce. The player cannot even ask an ALLY for material gains like ship upgrades. The only option is player elimination. I think that is unfortunate and kinda takes me out of the epic feel of the game.


Also don't underestimate the length of the game and the comeback options it offers. I have now seen a number of games where people were bombed down to one single non-home-system and their homesystem conquered and they still went on to a Top 2 or even winning final score.

It is important to remember that there is no unlimited scoring in any area and that for plenty of areas there are diminishing returns and the fixed game length of nine turns gives you plenty of room to deal with setbacks.
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Alex Krasny
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Yeah two of my players learned the hard way that being locked in perpetual war is not a winning strategy... And I admit I have only played 4 games total.

But, what are your thoughts on introducing real diplomacy and trade options in the game?
 
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Chris K.
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VirtualAlex wrote:
Yeah two of my players learned the hard way that being locked in perpetual war is not a winning strategy... And I admit I have only played 4 games total.

But, what are your thoughts on introducing real diplomacy and trade options in the game?


I would echo the sentiments of the others:

If it floats your boat, go ahead and have fun with it, BUT ...

... I do believe it will unbalance the game to an extent that I would not appreciate and introduce a "screw people over in trade deals" incentive. It would also stop you from learning and adapting new strategies since it introduces easy ways to circumvent the bad trade rates or mitigate bad resource combinations.
Overall I am not fond of introducing such very big changes to such a finely balanced game.

That said, IF you want to do it, I'd make it a prerequesite that you need to have exchanged ambassadors with a party that you want to do any of your diplomacy and trade actions with. Maybe even make it a requirement that they are still connected as required for exchanging ambassadors at the moment of the trade.
It incentivizes connection building and interacting via the center. It would also strengthen the value of Ambassadors that are otherwise a bit weak in the base game. It also makes it a bit more visible and analyzable just how strong your neighbors' ties and connections are, so that you don't have to worry about the turtle at the other side of the board secretly supplying your opponents.
On the other hand, if that is exactly the kind of scenario you would find fun, then do not have any prerequesites.
 
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Peter O
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VirtualAlex wrote:
tranenturm wrote:
Eclipse is full of diplomacy. You don't need more mechanics, you simply need to talk to other players and make deals. You can trade systems. You can talk about who to attack. You can make all sort of alliance systems if you want to take the time.

The ultimate game of diplomacy, Diplomacy, has extremely minimal mechanics inherent to the game. You have time set aside to talk every turn and you can support or transport foreign units. Otherwise it has even fewer mechanics dedicated to "diplomacy" than Eclipse does.

But do add whatever adds to your enjoyment. I'm just a less is more person.


Hmm I don't agree that it is full of diplomacy. The only way to interact with players is to attack. It's fair to say this is enough and the game is fine as is (assuming diplomacy mechanics were play tested). However I think this game suffers most when a player is in a losing war with another player. He has no means to come out of the situation.

This player cannot pay/bribe another player to come to his aid. This player cannot capitulate and offer to pay or give away something in exchange for a truce. The player cannot even ask an ALLY for material gains like ship upgrades. The only option is player elimination. I think that is unfortunate and kinda takes me out of the epic feel of the game.


Again I refer you to Diplomacy. None of the things you've mentioned are present there either yet the game still has a highly competitive tournament and online scene even though it was created in 1959. Diplomacy is a great teacher of the brutality of actual diplomacy and many games' "diplomacy" mechanics actually serve to remove real diplomacy by forcing things through predefined paths.

If you want to bribe someone, give them a hex. It's points and resources in a tight little bundle, requires no additional rules, and doesn't allow for unlimited trading (which is a good thing). If you're defenseless and can't prevent them from taking it anyway, then what good does bribing them with resources on hand do? If you have resources on hand you should probably be spending them. Joint combat is easily achieved through attacking different systems. The piece limit makes 2 players on 1 conflict brutal enough for the single player. If they have only a single chokepoint to attack through then diplomacy isn't your answer, more aggressive exploration and wormhole generators are.

If you're having trouble convincing players to come to your aid when being attacked, then mechanics aren't your problem. Them not being willing to attack your attacker is the problem and you need to do a better job of convincing them of the imperative. Trading upgrades and resources is simply an end around of the issue of distance in the game. The issue of distance and access to other players is a FEATURE. It's a limit placed on game play to make the location and accessibility aspects of a hex important properties. Some players seem to value only the resource capacity of hex not realizing the strategic importance of certain locations.
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James Motz
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VirtualAlex wrote:
I will admit that I am very new to this game, 4 games total (Shadow of the Void expansions) and I love it. However I feel, for a 4X game, the diplomacy game is pretty minimal.

I wonder if anyone has messed around with opening up some options for player cooperation...


One thing that I didn't see as I skimmed this list, do you own the Rise of the Ancients expansion? There are more diplomatic options (like full blown alliances that allow you to enter each other's space) in that one.

Also, the short answer to "did anyone ever mess around with variant ideas in Eclipse" is always yes. Search around for more diplomacy ideas in the Variants forum - there are lots.

But I echo the common thread here - what you may be missing is that the best diplomacy in Eclipse is the fact that you are people playing the game and interacting with each other. You may not have formal cards or rules spelling it out, but you can always say to your neighbor "hey I won't attack you and you don't attack me."
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Gee, James, you didn't give a link to my diplomatic add-on?

But I agree with Peter and the rest. The absence of rules about diplomacy doesn't mean that you cannot be diplomatic with your fellow players. Go play a few games of Diplomacy - it might expand your understanding of what is possible in this world.
 
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Alex Krasny
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Whymme wrote:
Gee, James, you didn't give a link to my diplomatic add-on?

But I agree with Peter and the rest. The absence of rules about diplomacy doesn't mean that you cannot be diplomatic with your fellow players. Go play a few games of Diplomacy - it might expand your understanding of what is possible in this world.


Hmm I am trying my best to not get frustrated with this conversation. It's true I have not played Diplomacy so I can't truly say "I get it" or even speak about that game in an educated way, so i'll take your word for it.

That being said, of course I understand that human beings can negotiate deals. The "problem" that I am trying to solve is the only game mechanic available to facilitate any diplomacy is who to attack and when to attack. I feel that it is lacking.

I am a huge fan of 4X games and I have been an avid player of Civilization and Master of Orion series both of which have evolving and interesting trade and diplomacy systems that go far beyond "attack or not attack."

I realize, of course, that Eclipse was designed and play-tested the way it is. The game is amazing and very successful. I am not really looking for reasons NOT to add more diplomacy. Rather looking for any issues more experienced players might see with adding it so I can make an educated decision before investing 5+ hours of time from my and my friends. I appreciate the links to those diplomacy modules I will look them over.

P.S. yes I did look into ROTA (I just ordered a copy from Italy actually) and read the alliance rules. That is actually what disappointed me so much, to the point of expanding it. it adds "open borders" which is good. But still doesn't let you actually trade or buy resources from an ally. Why not? I suppose the answer would be because it imbalances the game... But it kinda seems to me that it would reduce variance and let you prop up your imbalances starts.
 
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VirtualAlex wrote:
I am a huge fan of 4X games and I have been an avid player of Civilization and Master of Orion series both of which have evolving and interesting trade and diplomacy systems that go far beyond "attack or not attack."


Mutual Trade agreements exist in the game, and they're represented by the cube you put on an ambassador - it gives both parties a boost on their economy, or materials, or, science, representing the exchange with that civilization. Which cube you select when exchanging ambassadors reflects what you're expecting to obtain from the mutual beneficial agreement, and the fact that you don't "spend" anything to get it shows that it is, indeed, beneficial (you recoup those costs somehow).

On a galactic scale, simply considering "my planets give your planets 8 minerals" would require myriads of ship containers and transportation of goods, considering those 8 materials reflect the whole production of your galactic empire. Smaller effects such as the current mechanics seem more likely overall.

There's definitely nothing to stop you from making variants; at the very least, I'd remove the ambassador cube entirely if I was to allow resource trading, and I'd put a "-1/-2 good(s)" penalty on each trade for species with average or bad trade ratios. As for giving parts or technologies, I don't know how that could be implemented in the game without breaking the balance and/or making it a kingmaking fest (usually, that's BAD).

Others are not trying to tell you how the game should be played in your group, just suggesting you use caution and look back on the effect on the game, if making any changes. After all, this is a variant on par with "Catan without trading" in the way it could affect the game and people wanting to play !


 
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Alex Krasny
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LazyJ wrote:
[
Also, the short answer to "did anyone ever mess around with variant ideas in Eclipse" is always yes. Search around for more diplomacy ideas in the Variants forum - there are lots.


Awesome thanks for all of those. Some super interesting ideas in there. I am happy to hear that people tried them and found them fun and successful. That makes me optimistic! Some of the variants have very in-depth and complex rules. My ideas are very simple. Just to let players mutually agree to trade resources and upgrades at the cost of actions.

But if those complicated variants work, I am sure my small addition will work.
 
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Dystopian wrote:


Mutual Trade agreements exist in the game, and they're represented by the cube you put on an ambassador - it gives both parties a boost on their economy, or materials, or, science, representing the exchange with that civilization. Which cube you select when exchanging ambassadors reflects what you're expecting to obtain from the mutual beneficial agreement, and the fact that you don't "spend" anything to get it shows that it is, indeed, beneficial (you recoup those costs somehow).


Hmm well you aren't wrong, however this is a basic suspension of disbelief that needs to be applied for the game to work at all. Who is bringing 16 production to sector 203 to build 2 dreadnaught? Why can't that same invisible team of cargo ships bring that cargo to sector 245 instead and drop it off at the Planta sector? My proposal still has this "cost" an influence action after all. I do like your idea of penalizing poor-trade civilizations though... Not sure how to implement it in an elegant way.

Dystopian wrote:

As for giving parts or technologies, I don't know how that could be implemented in the game without breaking the balance and/or making it a kingmaking fest (usually, that's BAD).


I suppose that is a worst-case scenario... More often it will just create a richer environment for cooperation and creating more balances and successful games. A player who gets science-heavy draws but very little money could balance it out by selling power sources to his allies. On the flip side, a player with lots of money but very little science could buy some good upgrades and still keep up militarily. it will give more options for players in general.

Obviously I have not play-tested this yet so this is all theorycrafting.
 
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VirtualAlex wrote:
Whymme wrote:
Gee, James, you didn't give a link to my diplomatic add-on?

But I agree with Peter and the rest. The absence of rules about diplomacy doesn't mean that you cannot be diplomatic with your fellow players. Go play a few games of Diplomacy - it might expand your understanding of what is possible in this world.


Hmm I am trying my best to not get frustrated with this conversation. It's true I have not played Diplomacy so I can't truly say "I get it" or even speak about that game in an educated way, so i'll take your word for it.

That being said, of course I understand that human beings can negotiate deals. The "problem" that I am trying to solve is the only game mechanic available to facilitate any diplomacy is who to attack and when to attack. I feel that it is lacking.

I am a huge fan of 4X games and I have been an avid player of Civilization and Master of Orion series both of which have evolving and interesting trade and diplomacy systems that go far beyond "attack or not attack."

I realize, of course, that Eclipse was designed and play-tested the way it is. The game is amazing and very successful. I am not really looking for reasons NOT to add more diplomacy. Rather looking for any issues more experienced players might see with adding it so I can make an educated decision before investing 5+ hours of time from my and my friends. I appreciate the links to those diplomacy modules I will look them over.

P.S. yes I did look into ROTA (I just ordered a copy from Italy actually) and read the alliance rules. That is actually what disappointed me so much, to the point of expanding it. it adds "open borders" which is good. But still doesn't let you actually trade or buy resources from an ally. Why not? I suppose the answer would be because it imbalances the game... But it kinda seems to me that it would reduce variance and let you prop up your imbalances starts.


I want to reiterate that you should play it anyway which maximizes your enjoyment.

I can also see where you are coming from regarding MOO. It's an excellent game which due to computer opponents requires an extensive diplomacy system and mechanics out a chunk of the diplomacy.

My perseverence on Diplomacy is that it is a game that challenges players on internal assumptions regarding fundamental aspects of not just negotiating, but also the psychology behind playing games at all. Many new players to the game have trouble understanding how to convince their fellow players to cooperate with them. Threats rarely work in Diplomacy and are often detrimental. Furthermore, going it alone is NOT an option. You will simply get eaten by two people who do cooperate.

What constitutes a "successful" game is open to debate. Some players feel simply surviving is a "win." Others feel only a 2 or 3 player draw is a "win." Yet other feel only the solitary win is a true win and anything else is not something to strive for. Yet all of these players may end up at a table together and figuring out who is who is a critical part of understanding what alliances and proposals to offer.

New players often have trouble proposing deals in the first place. Some make crazy demands and get rejected. Others give up to much and are eventually backstabbed or otherwise eaten. The trick is offering a deal that looks good to both players yet has subtle advantages for you over your partner such that even though you might offer your partner one more supply center than you get, you end up in a better strategic position in which to advance.

But that's not all. Good players know how to cooperate without having to trust their partner. They set up defendable borders with each other that use a minimum of units. They make sure that coordinated attacks don't utterly fall apart when only one player follows through with their orders. etc...

So really, you and I are probably talking about totally different things. In some ways games like MOO offer abstractions of diplomacy in order to provide another route of interaction that essentially remains tactical. Games like Diplomacy and to a lesser extent Eclipse, offer an open table of possibilities through which personal negotiations can happen. Eclipse doesn't make it the games sole focus as Diplomacy does, but it most certainly retains heavy elements of the need for diplomacy. Not being able to just bribe my neighbor with a direct transfer of resources means I need to be more creative in my diplomacy. (It also prevents races like Orions from skirting around their 4:1 conversion ratio). Groups can certainly play without a lot of discussion, but in groups that table talk individuals with great diplomacy skills have a powerful advantage that is often far larger than the running your economy skills.
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Mistah Frooza
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A small diplomacy variant I've been using for two years now is Trade Ships. Trade Ships are like colony ships; you have three of them, you flip them over when you use them, they can be refreshed with the influence action. They can be used to send one single unit of one resource to another player.

It gives the ability to trade resources without letting players trade resources too freely. You can only send three resources per round which is pretty limiting. Thus far it has not seemed to adversely affect balance. Often resources are so tight in Eclipse that even when alliances use trade ships to try and balance out their economies it still doesn't work out that well.

We tried some more complex diplo variants but so far this is the one that's stuck, every player that's tried it has liked it, no one has ever complained that it ruined their experience of the game.
 
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