Strategic Primer: Diplomacy

(For any new readers: On Wednesdays I write posts about a strategy game I’m designing, called Strategic Primer. It has two versions, first a computer game I’ve designed and programmed about to the prototype stage and second a “campaign” version in which the human players submit strategies to a human Judge, who determines what happens in the world each turn. I’m currently running a campaign of that version of the game, which could use several more players.)

By this point in the current campaign, due to several factors (the pace of exploration, that exploration has been focused on breadth of area covered rather than comprehensive investigation of that area, and that the world is so small) I expect one player’s explorer to encounter another player’s fortress any time now. So this is as good a time as any to talk about how diplomacy will be handled.

Until nearly-instantaneous communication is invented (and that doesn’t necessarily begin with telegraph or radio), diplomacy necessarily involves one player’s unit visiting the other player’s fortress. At least one player will have to give his or her legate instructions, but trust him to use his judgment, for the exchange to be completed in any reasonable amount of time. (The alternative is for diplomacy to be conducted by messages, which must be carried by messengers–and at present the fastest transportation any player has can only go 40 miles a day.)

For the player receiving a diplomat, the exchange would be a remarkable exception to the usual pattern (send in a strategy, receive the turn’s results), conducted in conversation with the Judge, assuming that the visit is to the player’s headquarters rather than some other fortress. For the player sending the diplomat, instructions to the diplomat would most likely form a large part of the player’s strategy the turn the diplomat was sent (or, if the receiving player’s fortress was close enough that messengers could reach it and return within the turn, each turn until the diplomat returned), and the outcome of the negotiations would form a substantial fraction of the results when the diplomat returns (or every turn, again if the fortress is within reach by messenger).

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