"Actions lie louder than words." — Carolyn Wells
In SotS, game Diplomacy is handled through the Alliance Manager, the Trade Interface and the Chat Interface. With the Born of Blood expansion, a new diplomacy interface has been added. With the A Murder of Crows expansion, diplomacy was further expanded.
First contact protocol is in your hands. You control the ships, you decide what they fire on. Or even IF they fire. Instead of hitting a tab on a diplomacy menu you are creating diplomacy in full 3–D. You look at the other ship... and HAVE to think: "Is it going to fire? Should I fire first? What will that player do if I just kill this one tiny scout? Does it mean war with a neighbor? Did that player mean to shoot me or is he a noob who made a mistake?" In SotS diplomacy is UP TO YOU! In real time.
It is possible that first contact will look like a 3D battle in which no shots are fired with both sides just looking at each other until one of them decides to go away or attack. You can use the time to visually evaluate the other player(s) and their technology level.
This is where you are when you start a standard game. Certain single player campaign scenarios modify this at scenario start.
This is where you return from the other stages when you declare War.
After meeting some of the less hospitable inhabitants of the dark places, you might not want to shoot, or be shot at by, the more civilized folk you meet.
Introduced as an option in AMoC.
Once you have learned the initial language technology of a species, you can request an end to being shot at when you meet away from the colonies of either signee.
There is no restriction on the number of Ceasefire agreements that you can have. CFs are independent and different from alliances. A CF is NOT commutative across multiple alliance members, meaning that you will need to make a CF for each member of an alliance separately.
The terms of the Ceasefire agreement do not protect ships around the colonies of the signees.
After sufficiently impressing your neighbors with your brilliant tactical decisions you might get invited to talk instead of shoot.
Once you have learned the second level of language technology for a species, you can request an end to being shot at regardless of where you meet.
While your relations with another Empire are at this stage your ships will not automatically open fire on each other when passing.
There is no restriction on the number of Non–Aggression Pacts that you can have. NAPs are independent and different from alliances. A NAP is NOT commutative across multiple alliance members, meaning that you will need to make a NAP for each member of an alliance separately.
"The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy, no more, no less" — The seven habits of highly effective pirates, Schlock Mercenary
Tactical brilliance might get you to the talking stage, but to advance in their hearts as well as their minds you will need to demonstrate your strategic brilliance.
Alliances are the next step up from Non–Aggression Pacts. You do not have to have a NAP to progress to Alliance, though it is certainly the most likely path.
Alliances are independent and different from NAPs. A NAP is NOT commutative across alliance members, so signing a NAP with an Empire your allies are still at war with won't stop the fighting between the Non–Aggression Pact Empire and the rest of the alliance. Additionally, your allies might become unhappy with your inaction if you have a NAP with an Empire that they are involved in active hostilities against. Often, your alliance members will insist you get off the sidelines and into the fight.
Anyone who is part of an alliance is allied to all others in that alliance. Thus in order to make subsequent Alliances with Empires beyond the first, your existing friends and allies must also be so inclined.
Alliance members can repair and refuel their ships at any allied world, transfer funds between themselves in the form of gifts and can be invited to view combats that other allies are involved in.
With Alliances, joint attacks on enemy systems are made possible. The multiple allied combatants operate as separate fleets under the control of the multiple players involved. This affords a great tactical advantage, as command points (of the jointly–attacking fleet) can be effectively doubled, tripled, quadrupled...well, multiplied as many times as there are Empires in your Alliance at that battle.
Introduced in AMoC, it is now possible to request individual colonies to surrender during the Tactical decision making process. Colonies who face a significant enemy fleet may accept surrender terms if proffered by the besieging Player. The option to request a Colony surrender appears on the Tactical Combat Card after the Strategic Turn ends and before Tactical Combat begins. The options to request surrender are:
- ) Request Surrender, Manual Combat if refused
- ) Request Surrender, Auto–Resolve Combat if refused
If the Colony chooses to surrender, no combat occurs ( regardless of any ships in system ) and the Colony changes ownership. When a Colony changes ownership in such a fashion, the Imperial Population of the Colony is reduced to 100, and the Civilian Population is reduced depending on the technologies researched by the new owner.
It is possible for both the Player and the AI to surrender their entire Empire, either to a specific player or to no one in particular. If Player A surrenders to no one in particular, then they just cease to exist, with all their ships, colonies, technology and money just disappearing. But, if Player A surrenders to Player B, one of two things occur:
- ) If they are DIFFERENT races, Player B gets whatever cash Player A had and a research bonus over several turns.
- ) If they are THE SAME race, Player B also gets whatever colonies Player A had in addition to the cash and research.
In neither case are ships or technologies given.
With the release of Version 1.6.6 of AMoC, this changes to:
- ) If they are of DIFFERENT races, Player B gets whatever cash Player A had, a research bonus over several turns and whatever colonies Player A had with 100 Imperial Population on each colony and what Civilian Population can be supported.
- ) If they are THE SAME race, Player B gets whatever cash Player A had, a research bonus and whatever colonies Player A had with 100 Imperial Population on each colony and what Civilian Population can be supported.
Again, in neither case are ships or technologies given.
Further, with the Subjugate Species technologies introduced in AMoC, you can also now request that an Empire of said Species surrender to you, rather than waiting for them to decide in their own time...
You start knowing the structure of your own species language and thus the language of every other Empire in the game of your species.
You will need to research the language of each other species in the game to be able to communicate with Empires of that species.
You will not be able to research the language of another species until after you have made contact with an Empire or, introduced in AMoC, an independent Colony of that species.
Unless you have researched the language of each others species then any chat from/to each other will be displayed as appropriately stylized 'gibberish', thus restricting interaction. Be careful sending random insults to other Empires as they may have finished the required language Research before you.
Prior to AMoC, there is one translation technology for each species in SotS:
With the introduction of the XenoTechnology research tree in AMoC, there are now three levels of Language per species. You start the game with all three levels researched for your own species.
- Researching Language 1 is required to make Ceasefire Agreements.
- Researching Language 2 is required for Non–Aggression Pacts and Alliances.
- Researching Language 3 is required for Colony Surrender.
All communications from the beginning of the game are FTL.
Most communications with other Empires are in the bribe/threat category, though it is also possible to share information in your possession with other Empires.
Bribing includes abandoning a world for the other Empire to claim or gifting trade as above.
Threatening includes offering to 'look after' that new colony world for them. You also have the option to 'threaten' by pointing out how well another Empire is doing and thus how much of a threat they are and shouldn't we get together to do something about it.
You can Gift a share of your production (Industrial/Research or both) to another Empire either in your boundless generosity or as part of an exchange.
- Research traded for Industry.
You can Gift up to 100% of your Production and/or Research per turn.
Gifting in this fashion is a per turn manual effort prior to AMoC.
- No "signed" agreement to swap "X" points of Research from Empire 1 for "Y" points of Production from Empire 2 for a pre–defined number of turns.
- No brokering a "peace treaty" that has one party paying the other points in either or both Production and Research for a certain number of turns.
With the release of AMoC, you can now set up trades that transfer X amount of either or both Production and Research over Y turns.
There is no technology trading beyond the Gift of Research effort prior to AMoC. With AMoC it is now possible to set up Technology transfers with other Empires that act as Special Research projects resulting in the recipient Empire having the technology transferred appearing as a possible Research project in their Tech' Tree once the project has successfully completed.
Planet trading involves abandoning the planet completely for another Empire to claim (with no guarantee that a third Empire will leave an unpopulated planet just lying around.)
There are no spies in versions of Sword of the Stars prior to the release of AMoC.
Technology advances do allow for the following:
- Viewing other Empires in combat to gather info.
- Determine fleet size/composition at remote systems.
- Advanced Sensors allows Deep Scan Section, which can reveal both planet info from a strategic distance, and fleet compositions.
- Sensor Jammer allows for Jammer Section which can hide the info from Deep Scanners.
- Collect Data on ship configurations and Empire technology (Born of Blood and later only) using Intel Analysis Interface.
With AMoC, you now have an option to place Spy Ships in orbit around a Colony or other system. These are not automatic. You will be required to build the spy ships, deploy them and then pick them up (using salvage ships, along with any data they have accumulated, before they are discovered and destroyed.