Total War

Common-sense fixes to diplomacy

Content of the article: "Common-sense fixes to diplomacy"

Diplomacy in Warhammer 2 right now isn't a mess so much as it's just borderline useless. Beyond trade and non-aggression pacts (sometimes!), there really isn't much reason to negotiate, because alliances are nothing but trouble. So-called allies behave like they're auditioning for the part of Luthor Harkon, and declare war on everyone and anyone with no particular rhyme or reason, dragging the player into it and/or wrecking the player's reliability in the process, resulting in all kinds of crazy wars. That's resulted in the current "trade with as many who will accept, no agreements otherwise" approach that's the safest way to play WH2, which is a real shame.

Thankfully, I don't think it would take huge fixes to diplomacy to make it useful again in WH2. A more intricate diplomatic system would be nice, but it isn't necessary. What's necessary is for other factions to start behaving in halfway sane ways.

So here is a list of straightforward, specific fixes that should iron out a lot of the problems in the current diplomatic system, shouldn't take too long to code, and shouldn't wreck the game balance.

AI Factions should only consider declaring war on other factions when they don't have a current war to fight and have a significantly negative relationship with that faction.

(Unless they're Aggressive or Unreliable, in which case, fine, declare all the wars they would like.)

The AI have some kind of code that pushes them to find a war if they currently aren't in one, but the problem is that if they only have access to other factions that they have good relationships with, they'll still declare war on one. They need to stop doing that. It's one of the biggest reasons for the alliance-ruining wars, because the player will sign up several friendly neighbors into an alliance, and then one will declare war on the other like a teenager who needs drama in his life to feel authentic, and drag the player into it.

It's OK for AI factions not to be at war. Really, it's fine. If they have good relationships with all other close-ish factions, they should be perfectly content staying at peace. The only AI factions that should be pushing for wars to the extent that they'll declare on a faction that's friendly are Aggressive or Unreliable factions.

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AI factions should ignore their relationship and relative power with a vassal faction, and only check it against the vassal faction's overlord, before declaring war.

Every declaration of war against a vassal state is effectively a declaration of war against that vassal's overlord, and the AI should treat it as such. Forget about the relationship with the vassal or with the vassal's (apparent) power level, what really matters is the relationship and power level of the overlord, since it's the overlord they'll end up fighting. (This should have been put in place when Nakai launched, and the fact that AI factions still look at vassal factions in isolation is one of the reasons Nakai is still broken.)

But what if the vassal faction is itself quite powerful, but the overlord faction isn't? Well . . .

AI factions should add more weight to alliances and vassal/overlord relationships when deciding to declare war.

They already do this to some extent, but not enough. If you're allied with the biggest and most powerful faction on the map, that should really mean something, but right now, it doesn't have enough of an effect. The player can be top faction by a huge margin and still get pulled into wars by a weak ally who gets declared on by some delusional AI faction that can't possibly win the war. Unless they have a diplomatic trait like Aggressive, AI factions really need to stop and think twice before picking a fight with another faction that has a very large ally.

(Yes yes, I know, World War I and all that, but let's just say that it was a set of Aggressive / Unreliable / Opportunistic factions who started all that mess.)

AI factions should ignore alliances with the requesting faction when considering confederation requests.

This is one of the most frustrating aspects of the game – confederations are notoriously difficult, because you need very good relationships to get factions to consider a confederation request, but the best way to get that relationship up is through alliances, but as soon as they have an alliance that increases their internal power level, and as soon as their internal power level increases, they are less likely to accept an alliance. So the only way to make confederation work is to stay out of an alliance and hope they get into a war where their entire forces get blown up and enemies are threatening their homeland. It's intensely frustrating.

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AI factions' internal power levels get boosted from an alliance as a way of signaling to other factions that they're more dangerous. But it isn't enough of a boost to really discourage stupid declarations of war (see above) and too much of a boost for confederation, where it really doesn't make sense. I would recommend keeping the power boost in place, actually increasing it (as recommended above), but subtracting out the power boost that comes from the alliance with the player (only) when considering confederation requests.

AI factions should refuse invitations to join in a war against another faction unless they have a bad relationship with that faction and a good relationship with the asking faction.

I really don't know why the "united against us" system works the way it does right now, it's utterly insane and almost completely unpredictable. The only factions that should join in a war against another faction are those that would already be inclined to declare against them in the first place, namely those that don't like them (and don't have other wars to fight, and think they would have a decent chance of winning, etc.)

Also, the relationship with the asking faction definitely should matter – if a hostile faction wants you to fight another faction, why would you ever say yes? If the target is unfriendly and the asking faction is friendly, it may be worth considering, but everyone else should just say no, whether it's the player or an AI faction that's asking.

Eliminate reliability penalties for wars that are declared through being called up in an alliance.

I think this is already the case with Troy (and maybe Three Kingdoms? I don't play it much), but it really needs to be the case in Warhammer. The faction that you declared war on can still hate you with a white-hot passion for breaking your agreement, that's fine, but other factions shouldn't consider you to be a scoundrel just because two of your allies got in a fight and you had to choose a side.

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Wouldn't these changes wreck game balance?

Not really. I think the main effect would just be to have the various power blocs consolidate a little more quickly since there would be less senseless in-fighting, and if the game progresses a little faster, that wouldn't be a bad thing. But it would open up a lot more options for the player beyond "conquer everything that isn't a Tomb King trading partner, because alliances just aren't worth the hassle", which on the whole would be a good thing.

Source: reddit.com

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