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Victoria 3 - Dev Diary #21 - Diplomatic Plays

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It’s Thursday again and you know what that means - another Diplomacy dev diary! Today’s dev diary is one I’ve been looking forward to writing for some time, as it covers Diplomatic Plays, which we consider to be more or less the signature feature for Diplomacy in Victoria 3.

So what are Diplomatic Plays? Well, to answer that question, I’m going to reach all the way back to Dev Diary #0 and one of the four game design pillars, namely Diplomatic Eminence. That pillar reads as follows: War is a continuation of diplomacy, and everything that is achievable by war should also be achievable through diplomacy (even if that diplomacy sometimes comes at the point of a gun).

Well, diplomacy at the point of a gun is exactly what Diplomatic Plays are, as they allow you to try to achieve any objective normally achievable by war by diplomatically maneuvering to force the other side to give it to you without a fight. To fully explain what I mean by that, we’ll go over the mechanics of Diplomatic Plays in sequence - how they start, how they play out, and finally how they are resolved.

The way Diplomatic Plays start is the way you would normally start a war in another Paradox Grand Strategy Game - by demanding something from another country, for example that they cede a particular state to you. In fact, unlike other GSGs, Victoria 3 has no ‘declare war’ button to get what you demand - instead you start a Diplomatic Play, and wars are always preceded by Diplomatic Plays.

The fourteen opening moves currently available as Diplomatic Plays, each corresponding with a war goal. As usual, the number in green indicates the number of possible valid targets that exist for that Play.
DD21 1v2.png

Once a Diplomatic Play is started, there’s a number of things that happen immediately. First, the country that is being targeted is of course notified, along with any countries that are considered Potential Participants in the play. Who is considered a potential participant depends on the exact nature of the play, but usually it includes any country with an Interest in the Strategic Region where the Play is taking place as well as countries that have a strong diplomatic reason to get involved (such as allies or the overlord of the defender). At this point it’s important to note that only the Initiator (the country starting the play) and Target (the country targeted) are active participants, all others just have the potential to take part.

Next, the primary active participants on each side (the Initiator and the Target initially, though this can change if the overlord of either side steps into the play) are given a number of Maneuvers. This is a currency that primarily depends on Rank, with higher Rank countries having more maneuvers, and determines how many actions such as Swaying and adding Demands (more on these below) that said primary participant can take during the course of the play to try and gain the advantage over their enemy.

There are three distinct phases over which a Diplomatic Play plays, based on the level of Escalation, which is a value that increases each day after the play is started. The first of these is Opening Moves, during which participating countries take stock of the situation, set their initial stances (more on that below) and the Target has time to set their Main Demand (the Main Demand of the Initiator has already been set, as it depends on what type of Play was started). During the Opening Moves phase, it isn’t possible for other countries to fully commit to one side or another, with the sole exception of overlords of the primary participants. It also isn’t possible for either side to back down.

Cape Colony’s bid for independence and open British markets turned out to be a step too far. Britain demands nothing less than total annexation of the colonial upstarts, whose only hope now is either suffering partial annexation for its insolence, or having to get in real close with France and hope for the best.
DD21 2v1.png

Once Escalation reaches a certain point, the Opening Moves phase ends and the Diplomatic Maneuvering phase starts. If by this point the Target has not set their Main Demand, they are automatically given one (usually War Reparations). This is the ‘main’ phase of the Diplomatic Play, which occupies the majority of the escalation scale and during which most of the ‘action’ takes place.

During this phase, potential participants can now set any stance towards each side, from full support without requiring anything in return (something most AIs won’t be keen to do as they’re not big on having their troops die for charity, at least not in an offensive war), to leaning towards a particular side (which will signal to that side that they’re likely willing to be swayed), to simply being on the fence with no particular preference for either side. It’s also possible for countries that have not committed to one side or the other to simply Declare Neutrality and exit the play altogether, though this might have diplomatic consequences depending on the circumstances.

With only a fraction of the military strength of Great Qing, Kokand’s future independence looks highly questionable. But this Play still has the potential to become pretty complex if Kokand can convince the Sikh and Russian empires to support their case against Qing. Perhaps gaining another subject is not worth the risk of a protracted war that might well cost upwards of half a million lives.
DD21 3v1.png

The Diplomatic Maneuvering phase is also when the primary participants are expected to use up their available Maneuvers on adding Demands and Swaying potential participants to their side. It is also possible to spend your Maneuvers during the Opening Moves phase on adding Demands for yourself, burning through most of them early might leave you at a significant disadvantage late.

Demands are essentially Wargoals (and will turn into such if the Play escalates into war, but more on that later) and includes a wide variety of requests-under-duress such as ceding land, giving up claims or becoming a subject. Only the primary participants can add Demands, but in addition to demanding things on their own behalf they can also demand things on behalf of other countries backing them, if said country agrees that the Demand is something they want.

While this may make it sound like it’s a good idea to spend your maneuvers piling on as many Demands for yourself as possible, there’s a couple reasons not to. First, adding certain aggressive Demands (such as demanding land) always results in a Diplomatic Incident, which will immediately give you Infamy and may degrade relations with countries you need to support you in the Play. Second, being seen as greedy and unreasonable in your Demands will in itself make it harder to get countries to back you up, and may in fact make it so undecided participants side against you just to put a stop to your mad dreams of conquest. It’s worth noting though, that the Infamy from any Demands or Wargoals that end up not being pressed (for any reason) is partially or fully refunded, though their negative impact on relations remain.

Swaying, on the other hand, is the main way in which the primary participants get undecided participants over to their side, by making them a promise. This promise may be in the form of owing them an Obligation (more on this in a later dev diary) or promising them a Wargoal if the Play escalates into war. There’s a few more such types of promises planned for release (promising to become their Protectorate or giving them a piece of land or a subject of yours, for example) but these are not yet implemented. If the country agrees, they will be set as backing the Swaying side in the Diplomatic Play, and will fight on their side if war breaks out, just as if they voluntarily set their stance to backing that side.

Offering Prussia the Austrian states of West Galicia, Moravia, or Bohemia would be most appreciated, as they are populous border states. States which do not already border Prussian land are less attractive to them as they would be much harder to manage.
DD21 4v1.png

However, if you think the Play is over just because France threw their weight behind the Initiator and there isn’t anyone strong enough to oppose them, you’d be wrong! It’s possible for countries that have promised to back a side to betray that promise and go back to being undecided, or even switch sides entirely, perhaps because the other side made an even juicier offer. Doing this of course makes them lose out on anything that was promised to them and negatively impacts on relations with the betrayed side, but otherwise there is no limit to how many times a single country can switch sides in a Diplomatic Play (the AI will be rather reluctant to offer something to a country that has already forsaken them once unless they desperately need their support, though).

This also means that trying to ‘play it smart’ by burning through your maneuvers immediately to sway all the countries you think you need early in the Play can backfire, as the other side is then free to try and ‘bid over’ on your supporters while you’re unable to do anything. Furthermore, it can also make it risky to not be upfront about your own territorial demands - doing the swaying first and then saying ‘oh, and by the way, I want London’ might result in your side of the Play looking very empty all of a sudden as your former supporters scramble to distance themselves from you. Swaying and adding Demands during Diplomatic Maneuvering will also both pause Escalation for some time when carried out, to make it possible for the other side to react even if those actions are taken right at the end of the phase.

[Bolivia will remember this]
DD21 5v1.png

The final phase of the Diplomatic Play is Countdown to War, which is exactly what it says on the tin. During Countdown to War, both sides are locked down and it’s no longer possible for countries to declare or abandon support for either side, nor is it possible to add new Demands or do any Swaying. In fact, the only thing that is possible during this phase is Backing Down, and this is usually the phase when you will see one of the sides give in (though it is also possible to back down during Diplomatic Maneuvering).

Backing Down is, quite simply, one side deciding that the odds aren’t looking in their favor and deciding to concede the Main Demand of the other side to cut their losses. It’s important to note that only the Main Demand is ever conceded in this way, so any additional Demands that are either added or promised to supporters of the winning side are simply lost (with accrued Infamy fully refunded), along with of course all the Demands on the losing side. This means that there is actually in some cases a reason to want the Play to escalate into war (and hence, to not stack the odds in such a way that the other side sees no path to victory), as it is the only way in which you can simultaneously press multiple Demands/Wargoals, assuming you’re willing (or at least think you’re willing) to bear the heavy cost of the war. It’s possible to back down all the way up until the Escalation meter hits 100, at which point the Diplomatic Play is over and War breaks out.

Once all the cards are on the table you have to carefully weigh if this is really something you’re able to win, and what cost you’re willing to pay for the opportunity to try. Perhaps it’s better to cut your losses, gain a Truce, let the other side accrue some Infamy, score a Claim on the lost territory (if the Play was about land), and start making a plan to recover what you lost - and then some.
DD21 6v1.png

Whew, that was a lot of text, and I’m sure I’ve still missed some detail or another. As those of you who are familiar with Victoria 2 has noticed, Diplomatic Plays draws a lot of inspiration from the Crisis feature in Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness, a feature I’ve personally worked on and always thought was one of the most interesting things we’ve done in any expansion for a Paradox GSG. But with that said, our dev diaries on Diplomacy are drawing to a close (for now, we’ll certainly return to the subject later) as next week we’re going to talk about something you’ve been (rightfully) curious about since the announcement… War!
 
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This comment is reserved by the Community Team for gathering Dev Responses in, for ease of reading.

Make Victoria 3 said:
Will it be possible to add demands once a war broke out? It should of course add the risk of more nations joining the enemy side.
No, the fact that the Diplomatic Play sets the hard boundaries of the possibility space in the resulting war is a critical feature of the system. The assumption is that every participant has already made all their possible claims ahead of time, to permit all the players to make a calculated decision on how critical this war is to them. I believe it's possible to add war goals via scripted effects though, so special events and the like could potentially introduce this where appropriate.

Lucododosor said:
Oh my, this is GREAT. Just a couple of questions:
- What exactly is "cut down to size"?
- How will a diplomatic play be for the player if they're not the Initiator nor the Target? Will we be able to choose whichever side we want, even if it means England siding with France, or will we be locked to fewer options?
- Are POPs in any way connected to diplomatic plays, that is, will POPs demand that you take a specific side in a certain diplomatic play?
Cut down to Size is a wargoal usable on very infamous countries which forces them to relinquish every single state (subjects included) they did not possess 20 years before the wargoal was demanded. Essentially it completely strips a country of all recent conquests.

The player participates in diplomatic plays under the exact same rules as AIs. You can join a side if there isn't something mechanical like an Alliance blocking you from doing so.

Truenorth14 said:
If say I am the Hudson’s bay company, a subject of Britain. Can I start a diplomatic play to say take the American western border or perhaps request Britain to do so? Or perhaps join in on say a British American diplomatic play over Oregan?
Starting/joining plays is possible, there's currently no way to ask an AI overlord to grab something for you.

Heatth said:
Can I promise something from myself to sway another country? Beside obligation? Like. as Kokand ofer to join the Russian Market to gain protection against Qing or something of that nature.
Not in the current build of the game, but this is something we're definitely hoping to add. From the diary:
There’s a few more such types of promises planned for release (promising to become their Protectorate or giving them a piece of land or a subject of yours, for example) but these are not yet implemented.
Gaining protection by trading away your independence is exactly the kind of move we're hoping to encourage with this.

MrMineHeads said:
Is it possible for both the Target and the Instigator to back down simultaneously and maintain the status quo?

Also, I love love love this dev diary!
At the moment no, but I'm considering adding more status-quo related actions to Diplomatic Plays, such as this one or swaying a country to your side by vowing not to press any wargoals for yourself.

Caracus said:
This sounds very promising! I have one question though:

Will you, as a player, be able to select demands when you get swayed by the instigator or defender? For example when you play as Prussia and Russia instigates a play against Austria and tries to sway you.
In that case you have shown that there is a weight map associated with certain territorial claims (I assume from Russias perspective as the player). This is very nice but if you are not Russia but Prussia in that place you might not want the same state priority as the AI would have chosen. Be it for strategic, visual or economic purposes.

Are you able to renegotiate which land you would like in the case of a full fledged war if you are the player as a third party in a diplomatic play?
Reverse-swaying (saying 'I will join you for X') currently isn't in but I'm hoping to have time to add it before release.

Yagami913 said:
Do "solved" diplomatic plays cause truce and prevent any play that time?
Yes, backing down creates a truce. Currently truces are hard blocks but I'm considering changing them to be breakable (at a hefty Infamy/diplomacy penalty).

Enska said:
How easily will weak AI back down for small demands? So if a great powers demands only treaty port and target does not get much support, do they back down?
The aim is that the AI should generally back down if the demand isn't nation-ending and they don't think they can win the war.

General_WCJ said:
I wonder what happens if you declare a cut down to size war goal in say 1846, does it only take away gains from 1836 onwards or does it include gains from 1826 onwards
It doesn't include anything gained before the game starts.

Science-Recon said:
Hmm, the diplomatic play for Cape Colony becoming independent says that it’s a diplomatic play in England. That’s presumably becuse England is the strategic region that the UK’s capital is in, but wouldn’t it make more sense for an independence demand to be centred on the capital of the subject not the overlord, in this case Cape?

It makes more sense, to me at least, for countries with an interest in cape (I.e. other colonial powers) to have an interest in joining rather than continental neighbours.

For example, Canada (or predecessors thereof) demanding independence should probably primarily involve the US, whereas this seems like it’d just be France that’d be interested.
Independence Diplomatic Plays targeting the overlord's capital is not intended, WIP mechanics.

unmerged(760025) said:
In Victoria 2 there was a "liberate country" cb, that you could use, for example, to go to war against the UK to force them to liberate Ireland, making the newly formed nation appeared on the map.
Is there a diplomatic play permitting the same thing ? And if there is one, would the country be fully independent or is it more a : "Well... When I said I was liberating you, what I really meant is that you are now my puppet."
There isn't currently but it exists as a wargoal, and is planned to be implemented as a Play before release (it's slightly tricky to setup UX wise which is why it isn't done yet).

joeski27 said:
For the Cape Colony example then, does that mean Britain would annex 1 of those colonies as a "main demand". Will the main demand be more apparent in the final UI?
Yes and yes.

King Doom and Ice Cream said:
Does that mean that diplomatically annexing your subject always leads to war, as annexing is nation ending?
Not if the subject is an AI country! It is possible for AI countries to actually act rationally in this situation and allow themselves to be annexed if it's obvious the loss of life will be too great.
If the target is a human player in MP though, backing down from a Play like that would mean Game Over, so they're liable to fight to the death just to spite you. But launching a Play that lopsided in MP is kinda bad form anyway ;)

ksmiles said:
You say that subjects can do plays of their own. Will dumb subject AI be able to drag me into plays without my input? Can AI Canada say "Oh, britain is powerful and is going to have my back, I'm going to start a play on the US!" without a player Britain having any input?
This depends on the type of subject they are! More independent types of subjects, like Dominions or Protectorates, can start Plays of their own, though of course their overlord is not obligated to jump to their aid in these at all. If you want to ensure your subjects don't make any moves on their own to endanger them you need to turn them into less independent types, like Territories or Puppets.

luxfelix said:
:) Cheerio!

Can multiple Diplomatic Plays commence simultaneously during a game, either between a nation already in a Diplomatic Play (instigator in one and target in another, for example), or between two nations completely uninvolved in the first Diplomatic Play event?
Yes, absolutely. Occasionally, though rarely, this will create a contradiction since you and another country pledging positions in two different Plays freely could potentially make you both a co-belligerent and enemy of the other country at once. This is not allowed for quite obvious reasons, so in this case your position in the second Play would become invalid once the first Play escalates into war.

MrNewVegas said:
Where is the status quo demand?
"Status Quo" is basically when the target demands nothing but War Reparations and the Initiator backs down. Being conservative with your counter-demands like that is a good way to attract support of secondary countries in the Play and thereby increase the chance the Initiator backs down.

It's also possible for a resulting war to have a White Peace outcome.

thedarkendstar said:
Is there any reason not to use your first diplomatic play to say annex a country and then use your manuovers to influence other nations to your side Instead of just expanding your goal during a play

Example I as the ottoman would like to use the annex play on Egypt then once the play has started use my manurvers to influence the British Austrians and Prussia
All Demands, including the initial one the Play is based on, creates Incidents of relative proportion which will make secondary countries more prone to align against you. Whether you want to come out strong with your initial Demand and then try to sway countries to your side, or be more cautious initially and see how far you can push it without upsetting too many people, is up to you - there are valid strategic reasons for both approaches.

One thing to consider though is that the Primary Demand will be the one conceded if the target backs down, and must also be included in any peace deal you're offering (other than complete capitulation, of course). So starting a Play for something fairly mild makes it moderately easier to get out of a war later on, but also yield less payoff if they give it to you without a fight.

Elfin said:
A somewhat related question:
Will the amount of reparations paid by a nation stay the same no matter who demands them?

Two situation to better explain my question:
1) I am a small country threatened by one of the big guys (country X), but then I get support of other big guys while demanding only reparations.
2) I am a big countty in play against that same country X.

Will the amount of reparations stay the same in both cases? Because what would seem an enourmous amount of money for a small nation would be a tiny percentage of a budget of a great power.
The exact amount of money changing hands that results from enforcing War Reparations is variable, for the reasons you mention.

NilsFabian said:
Maybe I haven't seen it, but will other nations always intervene when I start a diplomatic play?
Me, mighty Württemberg (Ulm) again, wants to annex Baden. They are quiet open to the idea and would say yes. Could France try to object to this unification?
If they have an Interest in the region, absolutely! And once Baden sees France supports their independence they may change their mind about conceding to mighty Württemberg's demands. Though they're still permitted to just back down even if France supports their side, of course - France has no say in that.

Idle America said:
Darn, no demands to change government types? So if I were playing as the USA, I couldn't force the Emperor of Mexico to step down?
Government type is a function of Laws, and both 'Ban Slavery' and 'Open Market' are examples of Plays which enforce a Law on someone else, so an 'Abolish Monarchy' Play would work the same way. We don't have immediate plans to expand the repertoire of Laws you can enforce on other countries beyond the two we have now but it's definitely on the roadmap. Another hypothetical "Enforce Communism" Play suggested in this thread would work the same way.

dragonluke said:
so puppets and territories can't make independence plays against their overlords?
Yes, Independence Plays are always allowed for all types!
 
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Would it be possible in those diplomatic plays as a participating great power to put in different options.
Britain wants to annex the Cape Colony. Fine by me, the great Power of Württemberg (Ulm) but I want in exchange for Britain to acquise to my annexation of Baden.
With everyoen stirring the pot that we might actually get something like those events like the congress of Berlin or such.
 
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It’s Thursday again and you know what that means - another Diplomacy dev diary! Today’s dev diary is one I’ve been looking forward to writing for some time, as it covers Diplomatic Plays, which we consider to be more or less the signature feature for Diplomacy in Victoria 3.

So what are Diplomatic Plays? Well, to answer that question, I’m going to reach all the way back to Dev Diary #0 and one of the four game design pillars, namely Diplomatic Eminence. That pillar reads as follows: War is a continuation of diplomacy, and everything that is achievable by war should also be achievable through diplomacy (even if that diplomacy sometimes comes at the point of a gun).

Well, diplomacy at the point of a gun is exactly what Diplomatic Plays are, as they allow you to try to achieve any objective normally achievable by war by diplomatically maneuvering to force the other side to give it to you without a fight. To fully explain what I mean by that, we’ll go over the mechanics of Diplomatic Plays in sequence - how they start, how they play out, and finally how they are resolved.

The way Diplomatic Plays start is the way you would normally start a war in another Paradox Grand Strategy Game - by demanding something from another country, for example that they cede a particular state to you. In fact, unlike other GSGs, Victoria 3 has no ‘declare war’ button to get what you demand - instead you start a Diplomatic Play, and wars are always preceded by Diplomatic Plays.

The fourteen opening moves currently available as Diplomatic Plays, each corresponding with a war goal. As usual, the number in green indicates the number of possible valid targets that exist for that Play.
View attachment 768543
Once a Diplomatic Play is started, there’s a number of things that happen immediately. First, the country that is being targeted is of course notified, along with any countries that are considered Potential Participants in the play. Who is considered a potential participant depends on the exact nature of the play, but usually it includes any country with an Interest in the Strategic Region where the Play is taking place as well as countries that have a strong diplomatic reason to get involved (such as allies or the overlord of the defender). At this point it’s important to note that only the Initiator (the country starting the play) and Target (the country targeted) are active participants, all others just have the potential to take part.

Next, the primary active participants on each side (the Initiator and the Target initially, though this can change if the overlord of either side steps into the play) are given a number of Maneuvers. This is a currency that primarily depends on Rank, with higher Rank countries having more maneuvers, and determines how many actions such as Swaying and adding Demands (more on these below) that said primary participant can take during the course of the play to try and gain the advantage over their enemy.

There are three distinct phases over which a Diplomatic Play plays, based on the level of Escalation, which is a value that increases each day after the play is started. The first of these is Opening Moves, during which participating countries take stock of the situation, set their initial stances (more on that below) and the Target has time to set their Main Demand (the Main Demand of the Initiator has already been set, as it depends on what type of Play was started). During the Opening Moves phase, it isn’t possible for other countries to fully commit to one side or another, with the sole exception of overlords of the primary participants. It also isn’t possible for either side to back down.

Cape Colony’s bid for independence and open British markets turned out to be a step too far. Britain demands nothing less than total annexation of the colonial upstarts, whose only hope now is either suffering partial annexation for its insolence, or having to get in real close with France and hope for the best.
View attachment 768544
Once Escalation reaches a certain point, the Opening Moves phase ends and the Diplomatic Maneuvering phase starts. If by this point the Target has not set their Main Demand, they are automatically given one (usually War Reparations). This is the ‘main’ phase of the Diplomatic Play, which occupies the majority of the escalation scale and during which most of the ‘action’ takes place.

During this phase, potential participants can now set any stance towards each side, from full support without requiring anything in return (something most AIs won’t be keen to do as they’re not big on having their troops die for charity, at least not in an offensive war), to leaning towards a particular side (which will signal to that side that they’re likely willing to be swayed), to simply being on the fence with no particular preference for either side. It’s also possible for countries that have not committed to one side or the other to simply Declare Neutrality and exit the play altogether, though this might have diplomatic consequences depending on the circumstances.

With only a fraction of the military strength of Great Qing, Kokand’s future independence looks highly questionable. But this Play still has the potential to become pretty complex if Kokand can convince the Sikh and Russian empires to support their case against Qing. Perhaps gaining another subject is not worth the risk of a protracted war that might well cost upwards of half a million lives.
View attachment 768545
The Diplomatic Maneuvering phase is also when the primary participants are expected to use up their available Maneuvers on adding Demands and Swaying potential participants to their side. It is also possible to spend your Maneuvers during the Opening Moves phase on adding Demands for yourself, burning through most of them early might leave you at a significant disadvantage late.

Demands are essentially Wargoals (and will turn into such if the Play escalates into war, but more on that later) and includes a wide variety of requests-under-duress such as ceding land, giving up claims or becoming a subject. Only the primary participants can add Demands, but in addition to demanding things on their own behalf they can also demand things on behalf of other countries backing them, if said country agrees that the Demand is something they want.

While this may make it sound like it’s a good idea to spend your maneuvers piling on as many Demands for yourself as possible, there’s a couple reasons not to. First, adding certain aggressive Demands (such as demanding land) always results in a Diplomatic Incident, which will immediately give you Infamy and may degrade relations with countries you need to support you in the Play. Second, being seen as greedy and unreasonable in your Demands will in itself make it harder to get countries to back you up, and may in fact make it so undecided participants side against you just to put a stop to your mad dreams of conquest. It’s worth noting though, that the Infamy from any Demands or Wargoals that end up not being pressed (for any reason) is partially or fully refunded, though their negative impact on relations remain.

Swaying, on the other hand, is the main way in which the primary participants get undecided participants over to their side, by making them a promise. This promise may be in the form of owing them an Obligation (more on this in a later dev diary) or promising them a Wargoal if the Play escalates into war. There’s a few more such types of promises planned for release (promising to become their Protectorate or giving them a piece of land or a subject of yours, for example) but these are not yet implemented. If the country agrees, they will be set as backing the Swaying side in the Diplomatic Play, and will fight on their side if war breaks out, just as if they voluntarily set their stance to backing that side.

Offering Prussia the Austrian states of West Galicia, Moravia, or Bohemia would be most appreciated, as they are populous border states. States which do not already border Prussian land are less attractive to them as they would be much harder to manage.
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However, if you think the Play is over just because France threw their weight behind the Initiator and there isn’t anyone strong enough to oppose them, you’d be wrong! It’s possible for countries that have promised to back a side to betray that promise and go back to being undecided, or even switch sides entirely, perhaps because the other side made an even juicier offer. Doing this of course makes them lose out on anything that was promised to them and negatively impacts on relations with the betrayed side, but otherwise there is no limit to how many times a single country can switch sides in a Diplomatic Play (the AI will be rather reluctant to offer something to a country that has already forsaken them once unless they desperately need their support, though).

This also means that trying to ‘play it smart’ by burning through your maneuvers immediately to sway all the countries you think you need early in the Play can backfire, as the other side is then free to try and ‘bid over’ on your supporters while you’re unable to do anything. Furthermore, it can also make it risky to not be upfront about your own territorial demands - doing the swaying first and then saying ‘oh, and by the way, I want London’ might result in your side of the Play looking very empty all of a sudden as your former supporters scramble to distance themselves from you. Swaying and adding Demands during Diplomatic Maneuvering will also both pause Escalation for some time when carried out, to make it possible for the other side to react even if those actions are taken right at the end of the phase.

[Bolivia will remember this]
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The final phase of the Diplomatic Play is Countdown to War, which is exactly what it says on the tin. During Countdown to War, both sides are locked down and it’s no longer possible for countries to declare or abandon support for either side, nor is it possible to add new Demands or do any Swaying. In fact, the only thing that is possible during this phase is Backing Down, and this is usually the phase when you will see one of the sides give in (though it is also possible to back down during Diplomatic Maneuvering).

Backing Down is, quite simply, one side deciding that the odds aren’t looking in their favor and deciding to concede the Main Demand of the other side to cut their losses. It’s important to note that only the Main Demand is ever conceded in this way, so any additional Demands that are either added or promised to supporters of the winning side are simply lost (with accrued Infamy fully refunded), along with of course all the Demands on the losing side. This means that there is actually in some cases a reason to want the Play to escalate into war (and hence, to not stack the odds in such a way that the other side sees no path to victory), as it is the only way in which you can simultaneously press multiple Demands/Wargoals, assuming you’re willing (or at least think you’re willing) to bear the heavy cost of the war. It’s possible to back down all the way up until the Escalation meter hits 100, at which point the Diplomatic Play is over and War breaks out.

Once all the cards are on the table you have to carefully weigh if this is really something you’re able to win, and what cost you’re willing to pay for the opportunity to try. Perhaps it’s better to cut your losses, gain a Truce, let the other side accrue some Infamy, score a Claim on the lost territory (if the Play was about land), and start making a plan to recover what you lost - and then some.
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Whew, that was a lot of text, and I’m sure I’ve still missed some detail or another. As those of you who are familiar with Victoria 2 has noticed, Diplomatic Plays draws a lot of inspiration from the Crisis feature in Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness, a feature I’ve personally worked on and always thought was one of the most interesting things we’ve done in any expansion for a Paradox GSG. But with that said, our dev diaries on Diplomacy are drawing to a close (for now, we’ll certainly return to the subject later) as next week we’re going to talk about something you’ve been (rightfully) curious about since the announcement… War!

This is all beautiful: I love dividing a play into three phases.

I am however slightly worried that this design could lead to borders changing too quickly (despite good mitigating mechanisms you created). Therefore a question:

1. If I am (like many countries of XIX century) interested primarily in keeping the borders intact - can I offer my support to one side under the condition of this side dropping its (territorial) demands?

In other words: can I offer support in exchange for changing Main Demand to something I consider safer (like reparations)

If this is currently not an option I would strongly advocate to making it one

2. Can I demand something from a side I am joining? Cavour example:
Piemont starts a play against Austria. France offers them support in exchange for Nice and Annecy
 
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Markusw7

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I'll have to back down on my demand that there be status quo ends to diplomatic plays given the default defender demand in reparations.
 
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Make Victoria 3

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Can this also be like a trade were you demand a state and offer some money as compensation? Or is something like this included in normal diplomacy?
 
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cumaethor

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Sounds very interesting. Only feed back I can give now is Diplomatic Maneuvering phase menu seems too cluttered with large flags and large multiple sway buttons.
 
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Lucododosor

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Oh my, this is GREAT. Just a couple of questions:
- What exactly is "cut down to size"?
- How will a diplomatic play be for the player if they're not the Initiator nor the Target? Will we be able to choose whichever side we want, even if it means England siding with France, or will we be locked to fewer options?
- Are POPs in any way connected to diplomatic plays, that is, will POPs demand that you take a specific side in a certain diplomatic play?
 
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LeSingeAffame

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All of this looks wonderful!
A few questions:
- Are Diplomatic Plays moddable?
- I see that there is a "Ban Slavery" Diplomatic Play, does that mean that you could eventually add new ones depending laws? In Vic2 there was a "Spread Communism" cb I think, will we see such Diplomatic Play in Vic3?
- I suppose that you can't start a Diplomatic Play against a nation you have a truce with, and against your allies. What about subjects? Is the only way to seize land from a subject to wait for them to revolt? Can they even revolt? I may have missed it, but there isn't such a Diplomatic Play.
 
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