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Subject: Federation Diplomacy Question rss

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Davon Collins
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Hi, All

This relates to the "diplomacy" mechanic introduced by the Ferengi Expansion, where you roll a die and add your ascendancy to exceed a diplomacy number located on a particular Exploration card.

Does the Federation's hegemony +1 "Universal Translator" advantage apply? I couldn't find an answer in the manuals, and have been playing as if it does play, since, to me, it makes sense thematically, isn't overpowered, and comports with the Federation's "Diplomacy" fleet that allows a re-roll for cultural hegemony attempts.

Interested in people's thoughts...

-D.
 
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Tim Earl
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Since the ability clearly says to apply the +1 to hegemony attempts, I see no reason why it would apply to diplomacy checks.
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Davon Collins
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You say that like the manuals are models of clear, precise writing that haven't needed multiple FAQs.
I can think of one or two reasons why identical mechanisms might be treated similarly.
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Charles Boyung
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Senatus1980 wrote:
You say that like the manuals are models of clear, precise writing that haven't needed multiple FAQs.
I can think of one or two reasons why identical mechanisms might be treated similarly.


Can you back those reasons up with anything in any faq or rulebook or clarification (or anything else) for the game?
 
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Davon Collins
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Ha! No, if I had a clear answer from the manual, then I wouldn't be asking the question.

Right now, I think it's one of those things that were not clear in the manual and GF9 subsequently clarified - for example, that starbases defend the planet against Borg assimilation - despite the contradictory language in the manual that in assimilations one rolls a die "as in a standard planetary invasion" (where starbases do not count). And the clarification that the cloaked Romulan mines are treated as a "hazard" by the Borg. Then the clarification that Borg adaptive shields applies to planetary assimilations, despite their use of the word "space battle." Et cetera.
So, given the great but not perfect writing precision, you might see why the fact that they use one word "hegemony" in one place and "diplomacy" in another place, to describe the exact same mechanism, I find it ambiguous.

I realize that one can do as a house rule whatever one wants. But if there is an official answer, I would like to see it.

Thanks!
 
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Angelus Seniores
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given the federation is often ahead in ascendancy in mid-game, they dont need an extra bonus on top.
 
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Davon Collins
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Ah, interesting! In my games to date, the Ferengi and Klingons have led the Federation in ascendancy mid-game. Odd since neither the Federation nor the Romulans, who both have culture-getting special abilities, have led - galaxy randomness, I suppose. So the Federation-cultural dominance reason wouldn’t resonate with me particularly.
 
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Leon Hahn
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we've added the bonus to diplomacy test in our games, since it makes sense thematically and the feds never had the strongest abilities to begin with...

the wording seems to indicate that they specifically wanted to avoid the feds gaining any bonuses in diplomacy tests, which is quite stupid given that the federation is supposed to be the diplomacy faction, so i dont know...

maybe vulcans will get a bonus to diplomacy
 
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John Knox
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Seems to me you are trying to gain some advantage by claiming there is some ambiguity in the rules when there generally aren't any really bad errors. Hegemony attempts are attempts to take over a planet. A diplomacy test is an attempt to gain an ally. Similar mechanic but different situations. The Universal translator says hegemony; it says nothing about diplomacy. Barring a ruling from Gale force it only applies to hegemony.
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John Knox
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I haven't seen any particular faction be any better or worse than any other and I have won with all of them. Early planetary exploration and exploitation to me are a fairly big determinate to a races success in my experience.
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Ed Vena
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cheng wrote:
Since the ability clearly says to apply the +1 to hegemony attempts, I see no reason why it would apply to diplomacy checks.


Put me in the camp that sees how there is no ambiguity or discussion here. Feds ability applies to hegemony checks on planets. Ferengi Allies are diplomacy checks with allies, not planets - two completely different things IMHO.

I agree there are ambiguity in other parts of the various rules but this is not one of them. cool
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Davon Collins
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And yet the Federation’s “diplomacy” fleet, using the exact same
mechanic, gives a bonus for “hegemony.”

In terms of allies being people, not planets, “hegemony” doesn’t work on planets - no one can use
hegemony to take over a virgin world, or even a pre-warp
world, so it acts on people, with things like diplomacy fleets, to convince people to join your cause. Hegemony and diplomacy are conceptually far
more similar than they are dissimilar, and that’s before you take into account that they use the exact same mechanic.
 
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Guðmundur Skallagrímson
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If I had to guess, I'd say the difference between the two checks (diplomacy and hegemony) was later in development, after the designers settled on the Ferengi rule on their player board not to allow the Ferengi player to add Ascendancy to hegemony. Because of this, the new ally cards were unthematically harder for the Ferengi to obtain if they were based on hegemony, and thus the new Diplomacy check was born as a clone but distinct roll. I have no idea as to whether the Federation abilities were at any point applied to allies during development, but I really don't think it matters which way you want to play it.

The game is balanced based on player interaction alone. These small rule arguements really add up to nothing, as the game mechanics (including system draws, card draws, and dice rolls) are wildly swingy to begin with, and it's up to the other players join forces to smash down a race that has had it too easy. So sure, give the Feds a +1 to Diplomacy if you want to. Really, it won't make too much of a difference after they grab a couple of Ascendancy anyway, but if they find a few allies from card draws, they might find it more difficult to make peaceful agreements with the real players at the table.
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Ed Vena
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Senatus1980 wrote:
And yet the Federation’s “diplomacy” fleet, using the exact same
mechanic, gives a bonus for “hegemony.”

In terms of allies being people, not planets, “hegemony” doesn’t work on planets - no one can use
hegemony to take over a virgin world, or even a pre-warp
world, so it acts on people, with things like diplomacy fleets, to convince people to join your cause. Hegemony and diplomacy are conceptually far
more similar than they are dissimilar, and that’s before you take into account that they use the exact same mechanic.


You're hung up on words in the book or on cards that don't actually apply to the rule. First, the Feds fleet #3 is called the "Diplomatic" fleet, not a diplomacy fleet if we're being accurate. But it doesn't matter. For that end it could be called the "ships without guns" fleet. It's just a name. What does matter is what's in the text and that text says "You may reroll your Hegemony roll in system this fleet occupies." That's it, Hegemony only. No tie over to diplomacy, just for Hegemony. If diplomacy rolls were like a hegemony roll or included hegemony bonuses then I could see it more.

I get where you're coming from with the thematic part working sort of but they didn't put that in. If they had wanted that they easily could have added to the Ferengi rules under diplomacy tests something about your hegemony bonuses count towards these diplomacy rolls but they didn't. At this point it's clear vs other rules (some Borg rules) that aren't. shake So I wouldn't kill yourself trying to make this connection but also don't see any harm if you wanted to house rule it. It's your game, mod as you like. I just know I wouldn't allow it in our games unless there is an official update to the rule from GF9.
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John Knox
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You seem determined to finesse a rules advantage that barring clarification from Gale Force 9 isn't there. This might work with friends too lazy to read the rules (a common problem) but, you've gotten an answer from the community that is in opposition to your desired intent and are just playing semantics games to persuade people to your point of view or perhaps you're just trolling a thread. Play as you and what friends you can convince to a similar opinion wish to play but, in most places your argument would not get you the desired result.
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Lou Lessing
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Flavor-wise it makes a lot of sense, and balance-wise it shouldn't make much difference. I say: house rule if you wanna. It would make a lot of sense for the diplomatic fleet to be good at diplomacy rolls.

Mechanically, I'm pretty sure Diplomacy Rolls and Hegemony rolls aren't the same thing. They have different names, and function a little bit differently. (Diplomacy difficulty is always specified, Hegemony difficulty is based on structures + ascendancy + hegemony resistance.)

Hazard rolls and Weapons rolls share a similar relationship, and provide some precedent for similar rolls being affected by the same bonuses. Hazard rolls aren't weapons rolls, but you add your Shield level to the difficult of both kinds of rolls. Effects that give a bonus to only one kind of roll are formatted as conditional Shield bonuses.

Diplomacy rolls add your Ascendancy. They aren't a special kind of Hegemony roll, they just sorta look like a Hegemony roll. They don't say anything about using Hegemony bonuses, and Hegemony bonuses aren't like shield bonuses, they aren't conditional Ascendency modifiers. (I expect they chose to template them differently because it avoids having to clarify that Ascendancy victory requires five physical Ascendency tokens at the end of a round, and not just a modified Ascendancy score of five at any time.)

So, other than the flavor argument, I don't see anything in the rules as written to suggest that Universal Translator and Diplomacy Fleet affect Diplomacy Rolls.

I agree that the rule books for this game leave a lot to be desired, and that's the kind of house rule I support. The fewer differences there are to remember between Hegemony and Diplomacy rolls there are the better, new players already seem to have problems remembering the different kinds of rolls.

It is a small buff to Federation, although diluting the warp-capable civs with allies is a nerf to them, so I think it's all about the same. They get a little less culture and a little more of everything else. As for whether they need it, I feel like they're pretty powerful without extra starting rules and focused research, but with those rules the game's more fun and the Klingons are probably the best.

A more radical notion: I don't think balance really matters in ST:A. It's important that everyone feels like they're able to win, that none of the races feel like they're bad and not worth playing. But beyond that: anyone who comes to ST:A looking for a balanced experience is going to be wildly disappointed. It's not really especially balanced now, and it's not going to be fixable with house rules because even if it were balanced numerically it wouldn't "feel" balanced. The exploration mechanics in this game are so swingy, there's so many ways to get completely screwed by a d6 roll in the early game, that the people who complain about balance will, at best, complain about variance instead. (At worst, they'll interpret the randomness in their sample as being representative of the game's balance and have weird tribal fights on the internet about tier lists.)
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Alex Hirsch
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I myself just picked up the Ferengi expansion and had a chance to read and reread the rules. Hegemony tests and Diplomacy tests are completely different things and it clearly states that Universal Translator are for Hegemony tests only.
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Ed Vena
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BalrogJDK wrote:
You seem determined to finesse a rules advantage that barring clarification from Gale Force 9 isn't there. This might work with friends too lazy to read the rules (a common problem) but, you've gotten an answer from the community that is in opposition to your desired intent ...


Well said, my thoughts exactly.
 
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Davon Collins
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Obviously, “diplomacy” and “hegemony” are different words. It was mentioned in my original post, so no need to keep repeating the same point. What I’m interested in is whether the Universal Translator inapplicability was intended or not, something that required later clarification (as was needed with the starbase assimilation defense point). As I play solo, it’s hardly about my needing to give the Feds-me an advantage against other factions-me. If anything, my favorite faction (even when playing against myself) are the Romulans.

In any event, I do appreciate Guth and Lou’s thoughtful analyses. After reading Lou’s points, I think he makes a good case that the two mechanics for hegemony and diplomacy are not the same at all! Very interesting - especially the comparison to hazardous systems.

Also to Lou’s point, I’m curious that you think the addition of allies as a nerf to the Federation. I would think, even without a diplomacy bonus, it’s more neutral in its impacts. When playing the Fed turn, I feel like groaning only when I encounter virgin worlds, pre-warp civiliations and crises, so, to the extent that expansions have added more of those, the deck is weighted more against the Feds. But at least with allies, the Feds have an opportunity to gain something, right? Cheers!
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Lou Lessing
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Senatus1980 wrote:
Obviously, “diplomacy” and “hegemony” are different words. It was mentioned in my original post, so no need to keep repeating the same point. What I’m interested in is whether the Universal Translator inapplicability was intended or not, something that required later clarification (as was needed with the starbase assimilation defense point). As I play solo, it’s hardly about my needing to give the Feds-me an advantage against other factions-me. If anything, my favorite faction (even when playing against myself) are the Romulans. ;)

In any event, I do appreciate Guth and Lou’s thoughtful analyses. After reading Lou’s points, I think he makes a good case that the two mechanics for hegemony and diplomacy are not the same at all! Very interesting - especially the comparison to hazardous systems.

Also to Lou’s point, I’m curious that you think the addition of allies as a nerf to the Federation. I would think, even without a diplomacy bonus, it’s more neutral in its impacts. When playing the Fed turn, I feel like groaning only when I encounter virgin worlds, pre-warp civiliations and crises, so, to the extent that expansions have added more of those, the deck is weighted more against the Feds. But at least with allies, the Feds have an opportunity to gain something, right? Cheers!


Thank you!

The reason I say that diluting the deck with Allies is a small nerf to the Federation has to do with the distribution of cards in the deck that benefit them more than other players. The allies are very good cards to draw, some of the best in the whole deck, but for balance purposes, it doesn't matter how good your average draw is -- it only matters whether your average draw is better than the other races' average draws.

Blue cards (including Allies) are usually roughly equally good for anyone who draws them. There are a few that favor one faction over the others, but in general they affect everyone the same. Virgin worlds are likewise equally neutral, and red cards equally bad. Most exploration cards do the same thing no matter who draws them, so it makes sense that most are pretty much equal.

Because of the Federation's unique abilities, if the Federation is in the game, civilization cards aren't equal.

Warp-Capable Civilizations are some of the worst cards to draw for anyone but the Federation. Drawing a Warp-Capable Civ means much slower and more expensive colonization process. In general, they have to invade the planet, which they can't do with just the ship they used to explore, so that means spending money on a fleet, spending commands to move it in and start the invasion, losing ships in combat, and damaging the nodes on the planet. For the Federation they're pretty good. You get a free Culture, which is huge, and because the Federation does all their conquest via Hegemony instead of Invasion, and because they get such good bonuses to Hegemony, they can almost view the nodes on warp-capable civilizations as "free." With the upgrade that makes successful Hegemony not cost a second culture, it's no more expensive to roll Hegemony than to colonize a virgin world.

Pre-Warp Civilizations are the opposite. The Klingons and the Romulans get a virgin world + free production, the Federation gets a free culture but they can never colonize the world unless someone else does first, which sucks.

So, while the red, green, and blue cards treat everybody the same, yellow cards don't. There's ~3 pre-warp civilizations (good for other people, bad for the Federation) and ~12 warp-capable civilizations (good for the Federation, bad for everybody else) so in general, civilizations can be thought of as being better for the Federation than for other players.

As a result of this, the average Exploration card draw is a little better for the Federation than for other players. Adding a bunch of blue and red cards from the expansions means that drawing yellow cards becomes relatively rarer, which reduces this advantage.

This all sounds incredibly minor until you think about how valuable that 1 culture really is. First of all, ST:A, at least for the Federation, is a race to 20 culture. They're basically victory points, you need to collect 20 of them and sink them into Ascendency tokens to win, and the basic strategy is to be the first person to 20. Other factions put more emphasis on stopping other people from getting to 20 culture, or winning by taking over homeworlds, but the Federation really just wants to get to 20 culture as fast as possible. And culture's expensive to produce, it costs a total of 3 culture to build a new culture-producing world that produces 1 culture a round. So, even if it were just 1 VP out of 20, 5% of the culture you need to win, one culture would be pretty big.

But it's not, it's better than that. Culture is also a resource. Everybody needs it in small amounts, it costs 1 culture to build a new colony and 2 culture to build a new yellow node, both of which every race does a lot. For the Federation, with their reliance on Hegemony, it is even more important -- it effectively costs them culture to fight, or expand into a world with a civilization. It's also very convenient that you get your 1 culture just in time to use it on a Hegemony attempt.

So: Strange New Worlds triggers == very powerful. Fewer Strange New Worlds triggers == small nerf to the Federation.

(On the other hand, allies increase the average value of everyone's exploration card draws, and because of Strange New Worlds the Federation ends up drawing a lot more exploration cards, and therefore are more likely to get an Ally. So maybe it all evens out, but that's my logic.)
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