This is post is to give a compiled and reworked overview over the ´claim-and-crisis-system´ i suggested in this thread, earlier. Let me start by explaining the two new terms first:
Claims: A claim is what a nation publicly wants, but doesnt have, yet. Each claim has a corresponding war-goal. Making a claim reduces the penalties incured by the corresponding war-goal, the more, the older the claim is. The age of a claim is, along with its target, its defining property, giving it its strength. So, it doesnt help you to make a claim on jan, 1st, and making it a war goal on feb,1 – a one-month old claim does close to nothing at all. Claims can be revoked at any time, but this resets its time-counter to zero (re-adding it will make you start over on it). Fullfilling a claim decreases revanchism (people going toward jingo), revoking it raises it – amount of both depending on the age of the claim.
The number of claims a nation can have at any one time depends on two things: number of national foci and militancy of the party in power. National foci can be used to produce claims freely. A jingoistic government gives you three additional ´claim-slots´, a pro-militaristic two, a anti-militaristic one, and a pacifistic none. If a nation has less or more claims than its government adds as a bonus, it will raise discontent among the corresponding people (for pacifists, if you have more claims than party gives as bonus, for example). If a nation looses a claim-slot, due to elections bringing a less militant party to power, the youngest claim gets auto-revoked.
Claims play a central role in the diplomacy of the game: If someone has a claim on you, it will reduce your relations with that nation (-2 per month). If you and someone else have a different claim on the same third nation, that third nation will be regarded as your common enemy by the AI, and thus an alliance among you two encouraged. If you share the same claim with another nation, the later does not happen, and the relation among you two gets a -1 hit each month.
Now, the older a claim gets, the more of a threat it poses, as simply upholding the claim will reduce the cost of first war-exhaustion (raised massively from vanilla by default for claimless war-goals) and then infamy for making it a war goal. If an AI-nation gets threatend this way, it may react in different ways, depending on its relative strength and diplomatic situation (as well as the age of the claim – the older the more urgent it appears to deal with it):
If regarding itself as being out-powered by the claimant, it will first try to search for allies, failing that it will try to get to +200 relations with the claimant in order to be able to ask for revokation of the claim – see below
If regarding itself as being about as strong as the claimant, it will prepare for a war with it, including search for possible allies
If regarding itself as stronger as the claimant, it will tend to add claims on that nation itself, spuring tensions among the two
Asking to revoke a claim requires +200 relations. Bringing up relation requires sacrifice of some sort. You can pay money to the nation you want to improve your relation with, for example – but the recipient can always reject such presents. No more hit a button for free in intervals to get it (no more diplo-points at all, actually). A human player will have to always accept to revoke a claim for an AI-nation, if it reaches +200, so he/she might want to reject presents that make it reach that number. Remember, that the claim reduces relations monthly, though, and thus a constant tribute can be expected and accepted from an outpowered, ally-less target of a claim. An AI-nation may reject a request for claim-revokation, though, be it by a human or another AI-nation. Another way to have a claim revoked is by adding that as a war-goal – it should be (almost) free by default and not be avaiable as a claim. Revoked claims can be re-started a-new immediately, but, as said, its age (and thus its value) will be zero. The AI needs to take the age of the claim into account when deciding the urgency to counter it.
A good logic, supplemented if needed by some nation-specific AI-scripts, should make the AI-nations pick reasonable claims. The grand campaign can have some claims for some nations with some age attached to them from the get-go (hegemony for austria, for example). AI-nation would rarely use N.F.s for claims and rarely declare an aggressive war without a claim.
This set of mechanics clear the way to the abolishment of the SOI-system as we know it: If an AI-nation feels outpowered by a (sole) claimant and fails to find an ally against it, it will do everything trying to have that claim revoked. First it will throw money at you. If you keep it from getting to +200 relations for long enough, and your claim has grown strong enough, the AI-minor will ask for sphering, and if accepted gets to keep what you had a claim on (→ auto-revokation of claim, but without effect on the major´s revanchism). There is no reason to limit this to the grand powers, either – everyone could sphere (or get sphered), theoretically. If two or more stronger nations hold a claim on a minor, the minor wont react to this at all... but hope that they´ll get into each others way, eventually. Make yourself the sole threat to a minor, in order to sphere it (e.g. project your power)!
Crisis: This is a prelude to war, giving all involved nations the chance to make a statement on how they are gonna act in an upcoming war, before it actually breaks out (or is prevented). When a nation decides that it wants to use force now to get something, it will make a demand (= the first war-goal, if war does break out) on the target nation, resulting in the start of the crisis. Now, all the allies of the aggressor and the ´defender´ get to make a statement during the next week, wether they will stand up to their commitment or not. As this is not their final word on this, yet, and refusing incures a prestige-hit, they should be more inclined to stand up for it (when compared to vanilla).
Based on these statements, the aggressor decides, within another 7 days, wether he wants to follow through and actually declare war, or not. Backing off costs prestige. He can dissolve freely the alliance with any ally that refused to back him and inpose an additional prestige hit on such nations, now (for, say a year). If war is declared, all allies loose one point of presige for each day they do not join on the side they vowed they would join on. Any war-goal picked by an ally already is unavaiable to all other allies for this war. If a none-attacking nation has a claim on a war-goal set by one of the attackers, it is more likely to intervene on the defenders side.
A starting crises alets everyone involved to consider mobilisation.
Diplomacy much more transparent as you can see what the AI-nations want, now – much less surprise attacks, penalizing willy-nilly opportunistic land-grabs without long standing claims.
No need for generic, semi-random CB-events anymore – make your own (sort of) via the claims!
No more staring at abstract numbers increase in the SOI-system. Project power to get spheres (fleet for oversea-expansion), instead! Less micro.
Less pointless wars (provided a good claim-picking logic/scripts) and less chickening out of alliances
Get more for your infamy with careful laying out of claims long before going to war about them and waiting for the right moment to push them.
Prestige is capital, allowing you to do ´cunning´ things, if you can afford it (like wait to join a war with an ally).
Deals among human players via presents and claims possible to a limited extent again, without exploitability of the AI (unequal conditions for revokation of claims: you cant deny at +200, the AI can)
Hopefully, we will see some block-forming due to claims and counter-claims and alliances spured by them
C.B.s that were introduced in vanilla to steer things into the ´right direction´ can be replaced by high likelyhoods for AI-nations to make the corresponding state subject of a claim (elsass-lorraine, for example).
Threatend, helpless minors pay ´tribute´, if they cant find any allies (to get to +200 relation, in order to be able to ask for claim-revokation) even before they offer to be sphered.
Big minors (read: china) cant be intimidated into sphering for a single state claimed, esp. not when multiple nations put claims on it – it is likely to be broken into sphere´s of interest (russia puts a claim in the north, UK in the south, others on the coast....). Putting more than one claim on china represents some major commitment for any nation, as you can only have so many claims at any one time.
requires some work on the AI as well as on the diplo-interface and the main-screen (no more diplo-points, influence and influence-priorities, but claims) – crisis mechanic requires some new pop-ups, new outliner-feature of 1.2 can go again...
others i didnt think of and you will tell us about... (possible exploits?)
Questions, objections, critique?