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I'm working on a board game called Farlanthia: Lords of War. And I need some help with resolving diplomacy during play.

My original idea was to have Diplomacy be a form of "attack" like in RISK. This would force another player to perform an action (like a trade, or peace treaty, etc.) The idea is that each "season" you would send a diplomat to court, and politics would play out. Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don't. This would allow me to use modifier cards (say, you have as prisoner a general from the other player, this would give you +2 in diplomacy with them).

However, as was pointed out on BoardGameGeek this isn't optimal for everyone. So I'm considering adding in a voluntary portion where if both parties agree to the treaty at hand, it goes into place without die rolling.

Thoughts? I'm just not sure how to arbitrate the rules of diplomacy during an otherwise concrete game if the diplomatic actions aren't just as concrete.

Thanks,


[EDIT]

(Cross-posted to GameDev in case it isn't appropriate for here.)

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The question is definitely on-topic here, see for instance the definition on Area51 area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/5220?phase=commitment or the thread on meta meta.boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/236/… –  Brian Campbell Nov 2 '10 at 15:25
    
Why does this have the carcassonne tag? –  Kristo Nov 3 '10 at 15:59
    
If you read the pdf, the game board is built in a similar manner to carcassone, where players take turns placing terrain tiles. I admit it doesn't relate to the question, however, so I'll remove it. Thanks for pointing it out. –  Stephen Furlani Nov 3 '10 at 17:13
    
removed other game-specific tags. I don't care it is similar to them: if it's not about them, then it shouldn't have the tag. –  Lohoris Dec 31 '11 at 12:47
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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

A question to consider is whether diplomacy should even be something that is directly handled by the game mechanics, or something that happens purely through negotiation between players with game mechanics that encourage negotiation.

A great example of this is, of course, Diplomacy. There are no mechanics directly related to diplomacy (nothing that says you're in a treaty, or that diplomacy was successful or not), but the fact that moves are submitted simultaneously, and that you generally need support from multiple armies in order to take territory, means that you need to ally with other players in order to get ahead, and you need to place a certain amount of trust in them that they will do what they say; and those facts means that there are complex, shifting alliances throughtout the game, backstabbing, and negotiated two or three way wins at the end.

Another good example of this style of encouraging diplomacy and backstabbing is A Game of Thrones.

Beyond simultaneous movement mechanics, another way to encourage diplomacy without adding it explicitly to the game it through trading. If people are able to trade resources at some point in their turn, like in Settlers of Catan, then they may be able to negotiate a non-aggression pact and/or trade some resources, giving the players who negotiate such a pact an advantage over the other players in the game.

I would be wary of making diplomacy be something you roll for. It's very easy to add too much rolling for action resolution to the game. People will wonder when playing "why can't I just negotiate directly, why do I have to roll randomly to negotiate, even when what I'm proposing is directly to the advantage of both players involved?" Try to make the diplomatic aspect more of an emergent property of your game, which comes about not because of explicit rules, but because it's the most sensible way to play the game, and I think your players will enjoy it much more.

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ok. So in terms of emergent diplomacy, I could give players resources that other players want to have. for example: "Green Player Culture Artifact" Treasure card does nothing for the red player, but the red player wants the green player to not attack him next turn. For emergent diplomacy, should I let the players decide how to handle that situation instead of dictating it in the rules? This idea feels very settler's of Catan-ish. –  Stephen Furlani Nov 2 '10 at 16:22
    
@Stephen Yes, that's what I'm suggesting. It is a bit Catan-ish. I wouldn't make the explicitly only valuable to one player, but instead something that players may or may not need depending on the circumstances. "I need to build more ships to cross this ocean, so I need steel, while you need more artillery for a land attack, so you need gunpowder." –  Brian Campbell Nov 2 '10 at 16:30
    
ok so there's actually opportunities for players to earn meta-resources (not wood/stone/gold) by adventuring. I can wrap this up in there. This is a great Idea, thanks!!! –  Stephen Furlani Nov 2 '10 at 16:58
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One game I have played in the recent past that had an "attack via diplomacy" mechanic was Cosmic Encounters. In that game, any "main" player (i.e., attacker or defender) can play either an "attack" card or a "negotiate" card. If both players play attack, then they resolve using the relative value of the cards. If they both play negotiate, then they have 60 seconds to conclude a peace deal on terms acceptable to both, or they suffer the consequences for failure (ship loss). Finally, if only player plays attack and the other plays negotiate, the attack player automatically 'wins', but the negotiate player is entitled to draw "compensation" from his attacker, taking from his hand a card for each of his ships that was lost as a result.

I'm not suggesting that you rip off their mechanism wholesale, but it may serve as good inspiration to flip through the rules of that section, as they do lay out the terms for successful negotiations and the like.

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