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Great Diplomats Again

Discussion in 'General Balance' started by Gidoza, Feb 18, 2020.

  1. Gidoza

    Gidoza Emperor

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    So I've been considering Great Diplomats, and the funny thing about them is that they have what clearly seems to me like the weakest late-game effect of any GP.

    Whereas all the other GP have a strong instant effect that scales according to particular uses (number of Towns, Academies, Great Works, etc...), Great Diplomats scale according to nothing. I find this problematic, as the total bonus a GDiplomat offers for a CS isn't that much higher than what can be produced in a few turns from actual diplomatic units. At the very least, if an opponent is some 1000 influence ahead of you, using a Great Diplomat pretty much has no effect at all. I find the effects rather mundane; with only 1 Embassy per CS (another limiting factor), one is pretty much forced into squeezing influence into places that often don't make that much of a difference. Personally, with the radical number of influence bonuses that can appear late in the game, I'm inclined to want to see some kind of equally radical effect from Great Diplomats. Here's a few thoughts.


    1. That influence can go below -60. Why not? Influence has no maximum; I don't understand why it should have a minimum. Even if the immediate effect of Great Diplomats on influence remains the same, a bottomless influence negative at least gives the GDiplomat more power by allowing the drain of influence to linger for a longer amount of time.

    2. What about something along the lines of a Great Prophet? All influence from other civs is dropped to 0 or -60 on the spot, and the Great Diplomat provides a normal amount of influence like a typical Diplomat. 100% guarantee of immediate alliance doesn't sound unreasonable for the use of a Great Person - and just like a Scientists doesn't necessarily complete a whole tech or an Engineer doesn't complete the whole wonder, similarly one influence worth over an influence of 0 isn't that far from losing that alliance: the Great Diplomat is your first wave of what should be other diplomatic units to ensure any kind of permanence.

    3. That your influence swaps with that of the current leader. This would lead to swapping wars however which would be kind of lame. I prefer #2 as influence levels are more regulated from it and maintain less silly numbers.



    As for Embassies, what's odd about them is that unlike other Great People apart from a Great Prophet, the bonus goes to the first people to use the availability of an Embassy. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with this, but one would at least theorize that an Embassy could be demolished if the CS was conquered. I mean that is the whole point of conquering the CS after all - to limit another player's control. So perhaps if a CS is conquered, Embassies in the CS territory are removed, and a new one can be planted again if the CS is liberated.


    To summarize - I find that with Great Diplomats, the early game is needlessly constraining, and the late game is highly ineffective.
     
  2. AndreyK

    AndreyK Warlord

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    I like the idea , think that 1 solution and scaling of influence better than 2 or 3. Because then you will be too punishing others who possibly put much more effort, consider that for some CS there 5 or 8 other competitors, and somebody already used 2-3 GD, completed some quests and have influence like 2500, 2200, 1300, 400, 250, 50 - you are going to equalize them, or you will punish only first one with 3.
     
  3. kenneth1221

    kenneth1221 Warlord

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    I think you've noticed a meaningful problem but I disagree with your proposed solutions. Solution 2 seems rather unfun from the perspective of a human player because even though you won't have swapping wars, a single great diplomat can wipe out however much effort went into diplomatic units and you don't have an effective counterplay. If, on the other hand, you can just manufacture more regular diplomats and negate the effect of a foreign Great Diplomat, the Great Diplomat will still feel weak.

    If influence can go extremely negative, with AI GD spam, it might be very hard to stay in the blue. It is quite possible you'll end up in a place from which it is very hard to recover. If every civ but you in an 8 person game uses a GD on the same city state (extreme case), assuming each GD pops for +100/-100, you'll be at -700 and all of them will be around -600.

    It's odd that there's no scaling factor, but the embassy mechanic is limiting in that regard. It's a GPTI that you don't plant in your own lands -- either there's an available embassy or there isn't. Delegates are just that strong. Embassies are also strong tiles and the only way to get them for yourself is to conquer a CS, so I don't like that proposal.

    In summary, I think that any proposed new way of using a Great Diplomat needs to be a consolation prize for not having any available embassies nearby and also slightly more productive than throwing them at a wall of useless CS.
     
  4. Rekk

    Rekk Emperor

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    I would push for something similar to solution 2.
     
  5. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    While 2 would be a way to reset the influence levels, man at high levels the AI throws GDs in the ringer like crazy, so good luck keeping any influence in a CS.

    Maybe a permanent bonus, like gain a permanent +5 influence per turn with the CS (or per era scaling), would be good. So it gives an immediate and a long term bonus.
     
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  6. Gidoza

    Gidoza Emperor

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    kenneth's note made me think that one way of counteracting the fact that Embassies are limited (if we insist on that) is that establishing an Embassy could provide no Paper. That is, you only get Paper for using GD for influence. This makes the choices far more distinctive.
     
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  7. tu_79

    tu_79 Deity

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    The number of uses of the GD still affects in the form of paper. More paper, more gold that you can expend on diplomats.

    When influence is in the thousands, it should be decaying by dezens per turn, so it's high maintenance for the AI. If the AI is willing to invest in that, your only way is to use spies and world congress resolutions (open doors, decolonization).

    So the problem is that a great diplomat in the very late game feels useless. No embassies left, abundance of paper, no strength to swap allies. Is this it?

    In that case I'd advocate Gidoza's proposal. It would make paper scarce for civs that went the embassy route, making it harder to use diplomats, so spamming diplomats would be less an issue. Hopefully, there would be still something to do with the great diplomat in the late fame.
     
  8. tibu

    tibu Chieftain

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    If the issue is that GD seems useless in the late game, what about adding a scaling factor? Similar to most of the other great people, the influence gained / lost when using a GD could scale with the number of embassy you planted before?
     
  9. Gidoza

    Gidoza Emperor

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    I think I would only take issue with this idea because unlike other Great Improvements, Embassies are artificially limited - not only by 1 per CS, but also because actually reaching certain available CS can sometimes be impossible. I'm inclined to believe that this would benefit the early-game Embassy planters too much.

    On the other hand, if we were allowed to squeeze Embassies into every legal tile around a CS (still 1 per player per CS), this could work. Not sure if that will fly, either, though.


    As for tu_'s thoughts - that decay should increase the higher your current influence is interesting in theory - but aren't there too many different things that actually stop influence decay altogether? I wonder if such an approach would be effective at all because of that.
     
  10. Moi Magnus

    Moi Magnus Emperor

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    This is already the case, tu_79 is not making a suggestion, he is talking about current situation. Influence decay is 1% of your current influence value. The situation was way worse before this feature was added, so it is somewhat effective.
     
  11. tu_79

    tu_79 Deity

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    Gidoza might be talking about the bonuses in Statecraft that combat decay: trade routes giving influence and such.
     
  12. Gidoza

    Gidoza Emperor

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    Ah sorry I misunderstood. But yes my point still stands though - things like Cold War undermine this quite strongly.
     
  13. azum4roll

    azum4roll King

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    Great Diplomats are currently no different from ~4 Diplomats/Ambassadors late game, since everyone's already got high influence on every city state and reducing everyone's influence is the same as increasing your own influence twice.

    To make them worth pursuing for late game, they need to be different from normal diplomats. Here's my proposal:

    Great Diplomats work the same as they are now - an instant steroid of influence on a single city state and a global influence sink.

    What's changed is the normal diplomacy units - instead of giving an instant amount of influence, they have to spend time to persuade city states, meaning they give +x influence for y turns. Policies and wonders can increase the x value and tech (more advanced units) can increase the y value. Now you'll have to gradually flip a city state unless you use a Great Diplomat.
     
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  14. Gidoza

    Gidoza Emperor

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    This is interesting. Is this possible? I'm not sure what I think of it yet - I only want to put thought into it if the coding details aren't too severe.
     
  15. tu_79

    tu_79 Deity

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    We're in the "only number tweaks" phase.

    It's much easier to make embassies produce 0 paper instead of 1, and technically it is a number tweak.
     
  16. Gidoza

    Gidoza Emperor

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    Fair enough for only number tweaks - I'm just not sure that zeroing paper is enough, but it might be a start. Statecraft's policy that provides paper it seems to me provides enough to make hunting for more generally unnecessary. If influence from others was halved instead of cancelled say from a GD spreading influence (or the usual negative value, whichever is greater), I think the effect would be more reasonably pronounced.
     
  17. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    The biggest thing this does is make me rethink my first GD. Right now, its embassy all the way....but having 2 total paper is VERY useful....so I might actually bulb the first GD instead. I get the paper and the CS bonuses right off the bat, makes it start to look attractive.
     
  18. Gidoza

    Gidoza Emperor

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    Hm, okay then. You know what - I think balance changes should be made piecemeal anyways, so let's start with this. If more is needed, that will be revealed by trial and error. And if not - then it will be revealed by trial and error.

    EDIT: A future consideration could be that of another poster above - that Embassies increase effectiveness of GD. Inasmuch as we would be using GD for Paper, they'd also demand more influence from Embassies we are avoiding. This could work.
     
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