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Get your Diplomacy On
The new expansion for Sins of a Solar Empire, Diplomacy, adds a fairly obvious set of features which have always been lacking from the game. There is a new diplomatic tech tree, new diplomatic ships, and new mechanics for assigning missions to other player and for diplomatic victory. This brief guide will help you understand those mechanics and use them to your advantage.
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The Diplomatic Ships
As mentioned, each side has a diplomatic ship which is new to the game. These diplomatic ships are unlocked using the diplomatic research tree and can be had extremely early in the game. The diplomatic ships serve two roles. The first is to raise relations with other factions. Simply being in the same system as the planet of another faction will raise relations with that faction. This makes it possible to enter new diplomatic agreements and also reduces the chances of war.
The second role of thee diplomatic ships is to use special abilities which give bonuses to other empires. This improves your relations with those empires. Also, all diplomatic ships have a diplomatic immunity power which makes enemy ships temporarily unable to fire on them.
Neruda Envoy Cruiser (TEC)
- Worthy Cause - Gives a credit income bonus for a limited period of time when used on an allied or enemy planet.
- Arbitrate Tariff - Gives an allied or enemy planet an increase in trade income for a limited period of time.
- Settlers - Gives an allied or enemy planet a boost in population growth for a limited period of time.
- Cultural Assistance - Gives an allied or enemy planet a culture bonus for a limited period of time.
- Sacrifice - Destroys the Herald but gives your empire a dramatic relations boost with the owner of the system the Herald was in when the ability was activated.
- Quell Unrest - Increases the allegiance of an allied or enemy planet.
Voruntak Envoy Cruiser (Vasari)
- Mutual Threat - Increases the resource production of an allied or enemy system.
- Nano-medicine Outreach - Restores the health of an allied or enemy planet.
- Grant Amnesty - Causes an enemy or allied planet to be immune to attack for a short time.
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The second major feature added by the Diplomacy expansion is the ability to research Pacts. Pacts are agreements between you and other players which give bonuses to both. Pacts can be negotiated at any time with other players if you've researched the Pact technology, but AI players won't enter a Pact unless you've buttered them up sufficiently by using your envoy ships.
There are Pacts for all sorts of things including weapons damage, armor, shields, planet health, structure health, credit income, resource income, phase jump speed and more. Each of the three races in Sins of a Solar Empire has a unique set of Pacts which they can offer to other players, making it of particular interest for players to engage in pacts with other races.
The power of Pacts is substantial. Each Pact is an always-on passive bonus which doesn't go away unless one side ends the Pact. They are powerful enough to sway the course of a game in favor of those who have research Pacts. Those playing in team games, either against computers or other players, will certainly want one player on the team to be researching Pacts.
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The strategies you use in the Diplomacy expansion will differ significantly depending on if you are playing against real or AI players.
AI players are all about the numbers. There is a new diplomacy screen available in the game's interface which will list each AI player's relations with you and why it is doing as well or as poor as it is. Getting the AI players to ally with you and enter Pacts with you is simply a matter of doing things they approve of. Part of this is completing the missions which they randomly assign you and the other part of this is using envoy ship powers to boost relations.
Human players, on the other hand, are free to enter or exit agreements with you no matter how you treat them. The Envoy Ships - and the Pacts - therefor become a much more interesting but also much less reliable tool. Giving bonuses to other players doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to return the favor or that they're not going to backstab you. What you really want to do is rope other players in Pacts. The passive bonuses are only in effect as long as the Pact is in effect and a player who has been significantly strengthened by his or her pacts with you isn't likely to exit the Pact.
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Using Missions and Pirates
The new Diplomacy expansion allows players to assign AI and human player missions. These missions are just like the ones which the computer players often assign to you in a single player game. Using missions effectively is usually a matter of paying the most well armed players to fight it out. It isn't cheap to issue missions, but it is often cheaper than building your own fleet.
You can also missions to the pirates. The Pirates are much more deadly than in any previous Sins of a Solar Empire incarnation, and are perhaps overpowered. A patch will probably address this at some point in the future, but currently it is very effective for players using a mid-game boom strategy to pay off the pirates rather than building significant forces of their own. The strength of a pirate fleet paid for by 10000 credits is impressive.
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Diplomatic Victory is a new optional victory condition which allows for players to win by accumulating diplomatic points. Diplomatic points are accumulated by completing missions and by using envoy ships to increase relations with other players. Once one player has received a set number of diplomatic victory points - as displayed in the diplomacy menu - that player wins.
In general, diplomatic games are faster and more furious than other. It is possible for a player to win a diplomatic victory in a little over an hour if they know what they're doing. Players who are not going the diplomatic route will have to act quickly to head them off. Games with diplomatic victory on tend to favor players who are most comfortable using early game rushes to defeat opponents.