Diplomacy Gets a Major Upgrade in Civilization VI

In Civilization VI, every choice you make has an effect on the world, whether it’s choosing where to unstack your cities or how you’ll manage the myriad agendas of global politics. Today, we focus on the latter, as we discuss the Diplomacy system with Civilization VI’s lead designer, Ed Beach.

“Diplomacy in Civilization VI has more layers and evolution to it than ever before,” Beach tells us. Players will need to actively peel back these layers, should they wish to achieve great things through the political landscape – and it’s all possible. Diplomacy can be a transparent affair, thanks to the wealth of information provided by the game’s “Gossip” system.

You’ll just have to work for it.

“All those notices that used to just come up as automatic notifications on the right edge of your screen of a Civilization V game have to be unearthed through gossip,” Beach elaborates. Most of the big beat knowledge, like wars being waged or religions being founded, is fairly easy to find out, but as you progress in Civilization VI, and unlock Spies, you can uncover much more detailed information. “Stuff like armies being built, civs getting close to victories, activities of other players’ spies, envoys being sent to sway City-States, late game tourist attractions being created and much more. It’s a really fun system and goes along with Civilization VI’s mantra that the more active you are out in the world the better you will be able to play the game.”

Contextual situations, historical agendas, hidden agendas and the numerous other layers operating all within Civilization VI’s Diplomacy system create almost limitless variety for players, which is something Beach says the developers actively strived for during development.

“With a different combination of leaders - and their agendas - in your game each time you play, you’ll  have new interactions being generated with every playthrough. Just in the small game we used for our first demos, there was a lot going on. Cleopatra would see someone who had a small military and denounce them for being weak. That would cause a war – but since Cleopatra started on Teddy Roosevelt’s continent (and his agenda is to keep peace on the continent) those two powers were often brought into the fray against each other. Now add in two or three times as many leaders, give them each random hidden agendas as well as their historical ones and you can see how things can get wild in a hurry.” When you consider the larger maps, with many more civs and City-States all vying for their slice of the pie, things are bound to get even wilder!

War plays into the Civilization VI Diplomacy system as well, offering some very interesting parameters for players to operate within. “First of all you get NO warmonger diplomatic penalty at all for making war in the Ancient Era. The penalty phases in and starts to get significant around the Renaissance, but that’s when the new Casus Belli system comes fully into play.” Casus Belli, a latin expression, means “an act or situation provoking or justifying war.”

Beach goes on to say that there are six different “just” reasons for war that are covered by the Casus Belli system. “If you are eligible for one of those you can declare war and get a huge reduction in your warmongering penalty with the other civs in the game.” Some even reduce that penalty to zero, like the Reconquest Casus Belli, which is to retake a city lost in a prior war.

Of course, difficulty level also factors into Diplomacy. Upon meeting a new civ, you’ll be subjected to a “First Impressions” diplomatic modifier, which stays in play for the first couple dozen turns after you meet a civ and scales up or down based on the difficulty. Additionally, difficulty affects many of the leader agendas. “They often look at how you are doing in one area of the game compared to the other players. So if you are top in technology, a leader with the Technophile agenda is friendly to you.  But if you are lagging they might get hostile. And since it’s a lot harder to be leading the AI on high difficulties, you can see that satisfying all their agendas is also more difficult.”

But in order to cater to their agendas, you must know their agendas, which brings us back to diplomatic visibility and how crucial it is in Civilization VI. Information is power, and Beach has a great tip for this: “I always try to send a diplomatic delegation to all the other leaders to get my visibility boosted.  It costs a small increment of gold but is always worth it.” Or you can play as France, whose spies always keep you informed.

Beach’s last suggestion? Try to play Civilization VI like you’re roleplaying your leader’s historical agenda. “For instance, Queen Victoria of England has an agenda to get a city on every continent in Civilization VI. I’m currently playing a game and making that my exact goal. We even put in several achievements for following an agenda along these lines. This sort of role-playing can really be a lot of fun.”