It should be possible to block free favors from envoys sent to improve relations

Tannhäuser Cake

First Lieutenant
Nov 22, 2020
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As of 3.1, picking the tradition Eminent Diplomats gives envoys assigned to Improve Relations a 1% chance per month to make the target owe them a favor. For a single envoy, this means the ETA for getting 10 favors is 83 years and 4 months.
(If envoys can be stacked, 5 envoys would cut the ETA to just 16 years and 8 months, and in multiplayer 2 cooperating players could get there in just 8 years and 4 months - but I have not yet had the time to test this.)

The ability to get 10 favors (essentially for free) against a big, hostile empire is very powerful, especially since
  1. those favors will be used in a way that harms the target empire,
  2. there is no way to counter the free favors, and
  3. the alternative of using espionage
    • is limited to 1 envoy at a time
    • costs energy
    • costs infiltration points which will need to be regained
    • requires sufficient relative Codebreaking (civics + technology + edicts) to be able to reach that infiltration level in the first place
    • can be countered by increasing Encoding (civics + technology + edicts)
    • can fail
Basically, it is unbalanced, and unfun for the target. At first glance, it might seem intuitive to solve this by making envoys sent to harm relations also remove favors owed to the target empire. However, that would also nerf the value of gaining favors through espionage. The best solution is rather to add reasonable ways to block the free favors.

At the very least, these actions should let you block diplomatic envoys from collecting free favors on you:
  • assigning an envoy to Harm Relations with the other empire
  • declaring rivalry against the other empire
  • adopting the Isolationist diplomatic stance
These changes would help make the "free favors" ability more reasonable, fair and balanced in its fundamental scope, in multi-player, and in comparison to the espionage operation Extort Favors.
 
Last edited:

Tamwin5

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I'm not sure I agree on this being necessary, but it's quite a reasonable suggestion. I'd drop the negative relations though, since it's much easier to get and doesn't require any investment in the way the other options to block the favors do.
 

Zetesofos

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I'm not sure I agree on this being necessary, but it's quite a reasonable suggestion. I'd drop the negative relations though, since it's much easier to get and doesn't require any investment in the way the other options to block the favors do.

Yeah, maybe instead of negative relations, maybe have certain negative traits block (such as "committed genocide penalty, declared war, etc". The total penalty is less important that the circumstance that caused it to appear.
 

Tamwin5

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Yeah, maybe instead of negative relations, maybe have certain negative traits block (such as "committed genocide penalty, declared war, etc". The total penalty is less important that the circumstance that caused it to appear.
Even then, I think it should require actual diplomatic investment to block the favor acquisition. You can still be friends with someone who committed a spot of genocide or declared war on you. And even if you aren't friends, that doesn't mean they couldn't have helped you out with something (say, spinning said genocide into something more palatable). You could also decide to purge one alien species for being ugly, while still buddying up to a long time ally.

Isolationist stance, rivalry, and harm relations represent a more deliberate cutting off/worsening of diplomatic ties. It's saying "I don't want to be on friendly terms with you". Furthermore, each of these is a fairly deliberate action. You don't accidentally send an envoy to harm relations (except by mis-click). You can end up committing genocide accidentally (as horrible as it sounds out of context).
 

Tannhäuser Cake

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I dropped the negative relations suggestion, and added in the genocidal diplomatic stances - purifiers, exterminators, devourers.
(Accidentally, selectively or moderately genocidal empires would not be shielded - only completely genocidal empires.)
 

Tamwin5

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I dropped the negative relations suggestion, and added in the genocidal diplomatic stances - purifiers, exterminators, devourers.
(Accidentally, selectively or moderately genocidal empires would not be shielded - only completely genocidal empires.)
Adding the genocidal restriction to favors is a lot like putting some scotch tape over a concrete bunker. Diplomatic arrangements aren't going to happen regardless.

Although you would actually run into some issues, for if you have multiple empires of the same species with at least one being a fanatical purifier (either through lost colony or split off vassals), or for machine empires interacting with Determined Exterminators.
 

Tannhäuser Cake

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Nov 22, 2020
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True, forgot about that possibility (has never happened to me).
Dropping the genocidal condition from the list.