Diplomacy is a very complicated thing. In some multiplayer games (not restricted to CV titles), diplomacy is undisputely the most important factor to victory. I don't have any word to say for Dipoomacy in Multiplayer games, because people are smart, creative, and sometimes annoying spoiled kids. In single player games; however, the AI opponents can be viewed as dumb human players, who act according to predictable patterns. It is much easier to figure out some guidelines to crack AI's brains. The purpose of this article is to discuss the diplomatic approaches used in a conquest-oriented game. This does not limit to a Conquest Victory, but generally applies to all games that the human player expands effectively and continuously. If one expands extremely well, then there will be a Conquest Victory, or a Domination Victory. Otherwise one can still achieve Tech (space) Victory. Even if that is not possible, one can still aim for a Diplomatic Victory by adjusting the friend/foe ratio (mentioned later). On this board there is an article "Triangle Diplomacy", which is a very good read. This article of mine is a more generalized description of what we can do. In other words, you have to figure out a triangle, a hexagon, an axis, or an alliance yourself. Humans are creative. *** I only have 3 general guidelines. 1) Keep all your opponents equally weak. 2) Keep as many foes as friends. 3) Keep expanding! Let me explain below. *** 1) Keep all your opponents equally weak This is the core of diplomacy. Do you know why the English divides up the Muslim Middle East in the early 20th century? *cough* Obviously, you will emerge as the winner if all your opponents are weak. The trouble is other people will do the same to you, by sponsering your life enemy under the table. Do you know how much weapons the US is going to "encourage" Taiwan to buy from them? In CV4, you identify your stronger opponent at the time, and try to bribe the weaker ones to hate it (such as declaring a war). This involves some planning because you need to make friend with the weaker ones in advance. You must know that both bin Laden and Saddam Hussein used to be USA's friends by now. Do you know why they were USA's friends? Hint: they were both fighting against some other super power that no longer exist. In practice, you look at the score list, and figure out who needs to be put down, and who will be put down if you don't give them a lift. The high scorers sure needs to go down, and the bottom scorers not necessarily needs a lift (because of your limited power). Sure, it is fun to watch A put down B, but the consequence is A is going to merge B's land and evolves into a monster. You want to be that monster, not somebody else. So your mission here is exactly to help B to defend against A, but not feeding B too much so B eats A alive. When I was little, the TV cartoon hero's mission is always "help the weak to defend against the powerful". They do this for a reason that's not so naive, you see. Things are usually more complicated than just scores, because you will be able to pick sides. Do you want to join the Budda's meditation class, or sing the chant of Hindu Blue? If you join one side, then you make CIvs on the other side hate you. Your powerful friend will become a headache, and your powerful enemy will also threaten your safety directly. This brings up the next guideline... 2) Keep as many foes as friends. The most effective diplomacy in a war-oriented game is NOT about to make a lot of friends, but to make your friends and foes both busy at fighting each other, while staying on the winning side. Obviously, if you have too many enemies and too little friends, you enemies will overpower you and run you over. So it is easy to pick side at first -- pick the side that will grant you SAFETY! Less obviously, if you have too many friends, you friends will kill off all the enemies and prosper, or plot some conspiracy against you, and you have no way to stop your friends from surpassing you in score and tech. This isn't the end of the world, though. You can always dump your friends. Saddam is on trial now, isn't he? It is actually a careful balance of friends and foes. If you see too many enemies, bring one down to restore the balance. If you have too many friends, bring one down to restore the balance. Notice the common phrase here -- bring somebody down...! You are bringing down other Civs, one by one. Eventually you will be the only one left, hence the Conquest Victory comes. The top scorers really needs to go fast. Friend or foe, you must bribe others to bring them down along with you. You are lucky if they are actually your neighbors, but what if they are not? Then you can either raze the cities, or give it to the underdog Civ who won't develop into the next superpower to dethrone yourself. During the "bringing down the biggest threat, then the next, then the next" process, you balance the ratio of friend and foe, to keep them busy with each other. You match them up, A1 hates B1, A2 hates B2, A3 hates B3, or even better A1 also hates B2 and B3, etc. They will drag each other into war, and nobody is really gaining anything through all the war because they are all equally strong, or weak relative to you. Later on, you will have a much easier time to wipe them out. It is also very beneficial to bribe your target to attack somebody else, about 10 turns before your grand backstab. 10 turns is about enough to get most of your target's extra troops far away (or killed). Likewise, every time you go to war, make sure you can't get backstabbed. If you can, make all nearby unfriendly Civs busy, so even if your target calls for help, nobody will come. 3) Keep Expanding! This is really obvious, but easy to froget. I just include it for morale boosting reason. You know the drill. Keep expanding! You already have a good plan of the sequence of attack. On the first second you see the map clear, and the religions laid out, you form some plans of how you are going to win this game, right? *** Now the theory is over. Please allow me to show it in a real game setting in the following post.