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Diplomatic Stances in a Fantasy Wargame

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Nestalawe
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Right. I have started working on an idea I have had for a long time for a Medieval Fantasy Wargame. Each Player will begin with their own Empire, and there will be a variety of Neutral Empires.

One of the key aspects with the game will be the Diplomacy with the Neutral Empires. To this effect, players will have Diplomat Leaders who may be moved into the Capital Cities of Neutral Empires and build Embassies. This will then let the Player use various Action Cards to influence that Empire.

To this end, I have worked out five different Diplomatic Stances a Neutral Empire(NE) may have towards a Player Empire(PE) -

- 'Friendly' - Neutral to the PE, but generally more friendly
- 'Hostile' - Still Neutral towards the PE, but not as friendly as Friendly
- 'At War' - The NE is in open war with the PE
- 'Conquered' - The PE has been At War with the NE and has conquered it
- 'Allied' - The PE has Allied with the NE

Depending on the Stance a PE has with a NE will dictate what types of Actions the PE can undertake in the NE, what effect moving an Army into the NE will do etc.

For Example, a PE may only Gather Taxes from a NE they have Conquered. Or, a PE may Raise Armies in both Conquered or Allied NE's.

Now, firstly I wanted to hear peoples views on this sort of a system. I want to allow players to be able to follow several paths in the game, i.e. Conquering Empires, or trying to Ally with Empires. I also have Trade things, and Religion things in the game as well - so Players can follow a Trade path to victory, or may wish to spread their Religion.

The Diplomatic part of the game does get tricky though. For example, should all the Players always be At War with eachother? Or, if a PE1 has Allied to a NE that is Friendly with another PE2, but PE1 and PE2 are At War, does that NE change its Stance with PE2 to At War as well?

Or should Players be able to have various Stances towards eachother as well? If so, then there could be cool things like Players forcing other PE's to Ally with them. But then again it feels better if Players work their own Alliances out. But then again it would be fun to make Players have to build Embassies in eachothers Capitals to be able to Ally, or to be able to Declare War on them without gaining Treachery(players will gain Treachery Tokens for doing things like attacking without declaring war first, or for destroying Embassies, Temples or Trade Guilds when not at War with the owner). And it would be fun to be able to play the devils advocate and cause two Allied Players to go To War with eachother through using your Diplomats. That kinda stuff.

Or should I try and simplify things a bit?

The main thing I am asking is what people think of having this type of Diplomacy in an Empire-Building Wargame, where Players don't just go romping around with their Armies wherever they want, but must Declare War first, else gain Treachery, which would place them in other Empires' 'Bad Books'. And also where Players may choose more Diplomatic means to gaining power, lands and Allies.

Thoughts?

Ska_baron
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Diplomatic Stances in a Fantasy Wargame

Let me start off Nest by saying that I love your idea, and I too have been trying to grapple with a diplomacy aspect in games as well as including NEs - and by NEs I'm assuming you mean NPC (non player character) countries. So, I like the different victory conditions (trade, military, maybe cultural/religious) but are you trying/wanting to make diplomacy a victory condition in and of itself or just a mechanic? I think I like it as a mechanic to achieve one other types of victories, but that might just be me.

Possibly have a track of intentions:

Allied---Friendly---Neutral---Hostile---At War
Conquered--------

Starting all at neutral (or at the start, each player secretly chooses one nation to be at war with, one to be neutral with and one to be allied with)and with different actions move increasingly towards one or another...

Maybe you could have action cards that benefit you/your ally and then affect your status with them:
EX: Raise 5 additional armies (maybe in addition to ones raised in a regular fashion) in a province boardering another player and advance one level towards HOSTILE.

And during one phase you can always move to "at war" - either with a declaration or not. I really like the trechery token idea and maybe that can limit players to what actions they can then take.
I think this phase should come near the end of a players turn. Then it increases tension if you declare war on someone and then must wait til your next turn to actually attack (of course you COULD just attack anyway and be seen as more ruthless and untrustworty) -- the more I think about this mechanic the more I like it =)

Maybe you can conquer other PE (say by taking his capital)...and that player isnt out of the game (he still has other provinces), but rather can only perform limited actions (obviously they SHOULD be to help the conqueror). However, he can also try to take back his capital wtih an allience or on his own, but failure to do so would lead to free/cheap repercussions by the conqueror.

Just some random ideas that you ignited. But just to encourage you, I really like the diplomacy/trechery mechanic you've outlined.

Nestalawe
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Diplomatic Stances in a Fantasy Wargame

Hey Ska, and cheers for your thoughts.

Yeah, basically trying to work out a nice way to implement NPC Empires.

Players will start with 3 victory condition cards, which may be War, Infrastructure(Diplomacy and Trade) or Religion based. They get to choose which types (max of 2 of any one type) they want, but the cards will be random. One will be Public, the other two Hidden (I think). So players will be able to choose at the start of the game which path to victory then will play towards. They will also be able to spread focus points in the three areas (War/Infrastructure/Religion) and so can specialise their Empire, or try and keep them balanced. Both styles should have good chances of being successful.

Yeah I should simplify things to your Allied---Friendly---Neutral---Hostile---At War---Conquered track...

Yeah, being in different stance with an Empire will let you do different things, so you can choose which Empires to attack and which to try and work with.

Another aspect I didn't really go into detail about is the Religious aspect, which will also affect Diplomacy - different religions will begin as Friendly or Hostile to the Player Empires, and will affect how easy/hard the Player Empires will find it to interact with the Neutral Empires.

I quite like the idea of a Player being able to maybe take over an Allied Empire if their Home Empire gets knocked out, or at least stay in the game somehow...

Ok, cool, things are becomnig clearer...

Ska_baron
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Diplomatic Stances in a Fantasy Wargame

Quote:
I quite like the idea of a Player being able to maybe take over an Allied Empire if their Home Empire gets knocked out, or at least stay in the game somehow...

I think this came from playing A&A and seeing a capital being taken over, but rarely could you take it back... This way though, a player could be rebuilding under the guise of helping the conqueror, and then strike back... OR it may behoove them to just work with them and if they're the type of player that doesnt harbor a grudge, then it might work out well... very Roman =) Plus, who wants to ever be out of the game entirely? NO ONE.

Venga2
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Diplomatic Stances in a Fantasy Wargame

Quote:
Allied---Friendly---Neutral---Hostile---At War---Conquered track

Pehaps on the left side of such a track you could add Annaxation. For example it is possible to peacefully annex a NE when you are much bigger, much more advanced etc. That way you can have a real alternative to warfare as a the path to victory.

This works quite well in the computer game Europa Universalis.

Of course it would need certain conditions, and possibly a random element, when it fails the NE gets angry and moves to the right on the Diploacy track, or simply delcares war :)

Btw, The game sounds very nice, especialy the diplomacy, but it might get very complex with all the rules governing it.

jwarrend
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Diplomatic Stances in a Fantasy Wargame

I'm fiddling around with some vaguely similar goals in my new Thirty Years War game, but the systems I'm developing are pretty different, so I thought I'd mention them.

I am looking in that game for a way for players to form alliances but to have the possible terms of the deals be limited, so as to speed up the deal-making process. The system that I think I'm going to use is that players have a set of, say, 5 "deal" cards, which say things like "Spain will give the holder $2 per turn" or "France promises not to attack the holder". An "alliance" is formed when players exchange two such cards.

The advantage I can see to this system is that I could use the same mechanics to enable deal making with NPCs -- the NPC faction would just have deal cards representing the things that players could receive from that faction. (and in addition, there would need to be some AI as to what kind of deals each NPC would accept). It could be particularly important for my game because the game will seat 7 players, but I want it to be playable with smaller counts; this deal-making infrastructure could allow the "unseated" factions to be represented as NPCs.

I like your idea of a diplomatic posture, the only real concern is that it will be a bookkeeping hassle; if you have to have a separate track to keep track of everyone's posture with everyone else, it might chew up a lot of space. But you can probably find a way to do it in a easy-to-visualize presentation.

Good luck!

-Jeff

Nestalawe
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Diplomatic Stances in a Fantasy Wargame

Venga2 wrote:

Btw, The game sounds very nice, especialy the diplomacy, but it might get very complex with all the rules governing it.

Cheers Venga ;) It is looking a bit complex, but once I get a mockup made and do smoe testnig I will be simplifying a heap of things, I don't want this game to be too much of a monster...

jwarrend wrote:

I like your idea of a diplomatic posture, the only real concern is that it will be a bookkeeping hassle; if you have to have a separate track to keep track of everyone's posture with everyone else, it might chew up a lot of space. But you can probably find a way to do it in a easy-to-visualize presentation.

Yeah that is a major design issue. A suggestion that was made to me, and which I quite like, is to use dice, or cubes, with different stickers or signs on them. i.e. the six sides being Allied/Friendly/Hostile/At War/Conquered and um, one extra side ;)

Each player would have a set of these cubes/dice and they would be placed in the Empire on the map, with the relevant side face up. So if there was a four player game there would be four of these cubes in each Province... Hmm, maybe sounds like a lot of stuff on the board, but would work nicely and it would be fairly easy to see what was what.

Also, Neutral Empires would only be able to be Allied to, or Conquered by one Player at a time, and I will most likely have info cards for each Empire (showing their tax, what units they can raise etc) so players will be able to have those in front of them to easily know what they have...

sedjtroll
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Diplomatic Stances in a Fantasy Wargame

jwarrend wrote:
I like your idea of a diplomatic posture, the only real concern is that it will be a bookkeeping hassle; if you have to have a separate track to keep track of everyone's posture with everyone else, it might chew up a lot of space. But you can probably find a way to do it in a easy-to-visualize presentation.

I envision a player board for each player to keep track of other stuff, as well as X tracks - 1 per NE - which would run from Allied to Conquered. So if you want to see if an action is available (or legal), you just look at their player mat and see if the conditions are met.

- Seth

RookieDesign
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Diplomatic Stances in a Fantasy Wargame

JUst to let you know,

Look at the game age of Napoleon. It is quite good for 2 players. The diplomatic system could interrest you. There's a notion of insurrection. Very nasty! When my opponent had conquered the country, you raise an insurrection. You don't have to commit army yourself the insurge (sp?) will do it themselves.

Anyway good game for diplomatic ideas.

Good luck.

Nestalawe
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Diplomatic Stances in a Fantasy Wargame

RookieDesign wrote:

Look at the game age of Napoleon. It is quite good for 2 players. The diplomatic system could interrest you. There's a notion of insurrection. Very nasty! When my opponent had conquered the country, you raise an insurrection. You don't have to commit army yourself the insurge (sp?) will do it themselves.

Ah yes I remember checking the game out in the past, and just read over the rules.

Lots of good stuff in there, and there are definately other similarities to what I am working on, looks like I will have to see if I can get hold of the game ;)

Nestalawe
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Diplomatic Stances in a Fantasy Wargame

sedjtroll wrote:

I envision a player board for each player to keep track of other stuff, as well as X tracks - 1 per NE - which would run from Allied to Conquered. So if you want to see if an action is available (or legal), you just look at their player mat and see if the conditions are met.

Yeah that was my initial plan, but i'll try to keep as much info on the board as possible. I am planning to have a Religion Chart for the game though, and may see if I can incorporate the Diplomacy side into that...

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