Evony Diplomacy Guide
Diplomacy is one of the most critical aspects of Evony and I am constantly shocked by how poor most alliances are at it. The intended audience for this guide are current or future alliance Hosts and officers, as well as players who feel they could proactively offer this kind of assistance to their alliance.
This guide will help you:
- Clarify your alliance diplomatic structure.
- Create an effective alliance introduction thread.
- Create an effective alliance diplomacy thread.
- Create war threads that don't get closed by the mods.
- Play the game with morality.
- Use diplomacy as a weapon.
Throughout this guide I refer to threads I started in the past. I offer them to you as exemplars. I will not be offended at all if anyone wishes to copy and paste them and use them for their alliance - in fact, I will be highly delighted. I give them to you for this purpose. ~ Boleslav
1. What is Diplomacy?
There are two things that draw people into playing Evony. One is the ability to make crazy big armies and attack other living targets, the other is the social interaction that comes from alliance chat, world chat and these forums. Diplomacy is the ability to use these social interaction tools to enhance your alliance's position.
2. Finding your Diplomat(s)
Who are the people in your alliance chat that talk a lot without being annoying? The ones who whispered you because they remembered your kid was sick and they wanted to know if he is doing better? Who are the peacemakers when alliance members disagree? Who are the ones who can communicate ideas in reasonable English? Those are your candidates for diplomats.
3. A Diplomat's Place in the Alliance Hierarchy
A diplomat should be the point of contact between different alliances, but a diplomat should follow alliance policy, plans and strategy, not set them. It is my belief that a diplomat should not be a Host, vice host, presbyter or officer. This ensures that the diplomat can't make policy. Instead the diplomat makes recommendations and presents options to the Host directly, communicating the results of those conversations to other alliances via ingame chat and through the forums.
For the majority of the time when I was diplomat, I was just a member. That's important though - your diplomat is going to be very busy with his or her work, too busy to do the hack and slash parts of Evony gameplay. Strong, fighting alliance members need to be rewarded with the ranking positions in the alliance, it ties them to the alliance and makes them less likely to defect.
4. Diplomatic Duties
I'd suggest that these are the minimum duties of a diplomat:
Encourage as much interaction in alliance chat as possible.
There's a few reasons for this. Firstly, when people talk they make connections - "The alliance that chats together stays together". Secondly, it's the diplomat's job to find out who isn't talking. Sometimes that can be because a player doesn't have great English and is shy, but sometimes that can be because there's a spy lurking. It's very hard to continue being a spy once you've been drawn into alliance conversation. It makes the emotional and moral cost of being a spy higher.
Establish and maintain the following threads on the forums:
I'll discuss more about the purpose and design of these threads later.
Establish relationships with big players in other alliances
I'll deal with this area more when I expand on using diplomacy as a weapon.
5. Supporting your Diplomat
A good diplomat will be constantly busy on the forums and in chat. They are not going to have time to do that and grind their way up the honor and prestige rankings. I was very lucky, when I was diplomatic officer in WMDElite, I had huge players like Mundi, Aetius and G3R4LD give me Lv10s. I converted the cottages to barracks, and sourced my food from swamps, lower level lakes and grasslands (leave the Lv10 lakes for your huge players). In this way, I was able to have 90k archers per city, with no food supply issues. I did also had enough ballistas and transporters to farm Lv5s if I needed to. My goal was not be a drag factor on my alliance, and to be able to defend myself even though I didn't have time to seriously farm and grow. Because my cities were nearish to each other, I could combine my armies to deal with local issues without begging for military help from players fighting on the other end of the server.
Last edited by Boleslav; 08-07-2010 at 05:07 PM.
6. Diplomacy and the Forums
The alliance diplomat should be the primary alliance presence on the forums. Here's where things get interesting. The diplomat should, as soon as possible, establish and maintain several high quality threads in the appropriate server forums.
Alliance recruit thread
This thread gets placed in the Alliance Recruitment subforum. This is the thread you use to update people on the requirements to join your alliance. It is also a place where you can "sell" your alliance by posting updates of your alliance climbing the rankings, welcoming new members, etc. The key is to create an impression that your alliance only wants the best and that it is constantly moving and improving. Some alliances, such as GODZ from s144, have a number of fun and silly activities, like typewithoutspacesday and these can be used to recruit people. Players want to join fun, active alliances.
Let's look at an exemplar from my personal alliance history and then problematize some current alliance recruit threads currently found on the forums.
Please take a minute to look at this Alliance recruit thread: http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?t=18538
Notice that the opening post creates a rich invitation for players to join. The opening post also has some big names (well, for that period of time anyway) which emphasizes the seriousness of the alliance. "Wow! Is that Ahmdo, the legend of S1? And I can join this alliance?" As the thread continues, notice how I use a variety of statistics to show how the alliance is growing in strength. Then our host (at that time) posts a series of data tables showing growth.
Sometimes a comparison is helpful. It's always better to show rather than tell. Let's look at some of the alliance recruitment threads currently available on the forum and identify what is done well and where growth could occur.
UFLF on Server NA21 http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?t=142955
This thread does a couple of things well. It makes the criteria to join clear from the start, and it has a list of friendlies and hostiles. That's important information to know - but personally, I would prefer to see that as a list being updated in the opening post of the alliance diplomacy thread. Notice that the confusion between what an alliance recruit thread should be and what a diplomacy thread should be is clearly evident in this thread. After the first post, it's straight into diplomacy, and the thread becomes confusing as a result. There is no follow up on the initial post, so I have no idea if the alliance is rising, is going through tough times, or if it exists. I am not criticizing UFLF at all here, but I am highlighting that lots of forum members could do things more professionally.
Knighthood on SS49 http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?t=142150
Another perfectly reasonable initial post, but the second post totally undermines the alliance's integrity. I have no idea why the players involved haven't asked me to clear up their thread. The alliance recruit thread is for shameless self-promotion, not for others to make snarky comments.
Rome on NA4 http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?t=140197
There are lots of great things going on in this thread. Firstly, it's Japanpimp. Love him or hate him, he's a well known face on the forums and celebrity status counts for something when starting these threads. The opening post is a corker - his alliance plays the game in a very specific way, so it's impressive how he communicates that quickly and effectively. What I can see with my moderator-vision, but you can't, is that I've deleted a bunch of off topic posts in this thread. Japanpimp requested a clean up because he wanted his alliance thread kept clean. I'm happy to oblige these requests, because I love to see people caring about their alliances and the forums. Japanpimp also knows that you are allowed to bump your alliance recruit thread once per day, and does so, to make sure his thread is near the top of the forum. But what could he do to improve his thread? Well, how about statistics or screenshots showing growth? How about testimonials from happy members of his alliance?
Alliance diplomacy thread
I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is for alliances to maintain an official diplomatic thread in the diplomacy subforum. People want to talk diplomacy and will attempt to initiate it in haphazard ways unless they are specifically guided. Please review this diplomacy thread:http://bbs.evony.com/showpost.php?p=477796&postcount=1
What are the features provided in this diplomacy thread? Well, there's a lot, so let's make a list.
- I provide my contact details and even the times when I play on the server.
- I provide some testimonials.
- I explain clearly and briefly our alliance policy as regards blues, reds and grays.
- I post every alliance which we are friendly or hostile with.
- I have a section to indicate current priority targets.
- I have a section to indicate war criminals.
- I provide a link to a youtube video of the alliance in action.
- I provide a FAQ section.
Now look through the entire thread. You'll see that people mostly treated the thread with respect, and in a professional manner. Sometimes though, players posted in an angry or challenging way. Observe how I responded to these posts. Never, ever, respond to flaming by flaming. Remember that your audience are the other forum members. When someone flames you, calmly answer their question and if necessary, contact a moderator. That way you look professional and businesslike and the flamer is reduced in stature by comparison.
Let's look at some examples of existing alliance diplomacy threads, again, not to criticize, but to identify from concrete cases what works and what is absent.
Khans on NA1 http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?t=131218
With almost eight thousand views, this is a critical thread in the NA1 diplomatic world. The opening post has great graphics and some information about the alliance, and then it's 386 posts of freewheeling, stream of consciousness style chat between Khans players. As a diplomatic thread, it just doesn't work. As a recruit thread it's incredible. When you read through the thread, you get a real sense of how much fun it must be to play in that alliance. But it's not a functioning diplomacy thread. If I were a member of an alliance trying to contact Khans, I'd be too intimidated to post there.
DIVINITY on n1 http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?t=141941
This is a serious diplomacy thread. Binch sets out her rules of engagement right from the start in an excellent and clear way. The second post in the thread is a playful poke in the eye, which Binch handles exceptionally well. Most alliances would do well to follow Binch's lead.
DaFallen on n1 http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?t=82375
This looks and breathes as though it's a diplomacy thread, but it is in fact a kind of historical retrospective. Putting your alliance's history on show is a great idea, and daFallen has been around for a while so its leaders have a story to tell. However, in no other sense does this thread meet my personal criteria for a diplomacy thread.
Flame free threads to discuss individual wars
There's no point pretending otherwise - Evony is a wargame. As a diplomat, a war is a great opportunity for public relations, especially if you emerge victorious! There is nothing better than a war to show people how strong, able and serious your alliance is.
People love war threads! Who doesn't like to see the war reports, the lovingly created data charts which show alliance X shedding members? But there's always an issue with these threads. Without a diplomatic officer setting the tone and an example, these threads become flamefests very quickly. Once a thread becomes a flamefest, the moderating team are left with no choice but to shut it down. That's a lose-lose situation. What we want to see is a win-win, where players get to brag about their attacks and the community gets to follow the action even if they aren't involved in the war directly or are even in a different server. What do such opportunities look like?
WMD vs. MISC http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?p=147304#post147304
WMD vs. Karnage http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?p=529148#post529148
WMD vs. SpartanS http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?p=430177#post430177
WMD vs. Dragons http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?p=169485#post169485
Notice that there's a standardized opening post which I use. Right from the start I make clear what appropriate content is. I also make very clear that I expect all sides in the conflict to show respect. Especially important is to deal with players who are communicating ineffectually or rudely with enemies. As a diplomat, that only makes your job harder. WMD ejected players who were caught harassing other players.
In these threads you can observe a few things happening. In most cases, I provide closure to the threads by telling the community how the war ended (though I failed to do that consistently!). Another thing you will see is that forum members tried to flame and drag these threads off topic, but other members brought the subject back ontopic. More importantly, there is a bevy of information and war reports for all the community to see.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to place your war reports on these threads. These war reports are as much about intimidating your future opponents as they are about the actual war of the moment.
Last edited by Boleslav; 08-07-2010 at 01:47 AM.
7. Morality and Truth
A diplomat should never lie. A diplomat should also never volunteer information that puts their alliance at risk. However, when asked a question, even by a most hated enemy, the diplomat should be able to politely provide an answer, even if that answer is merely "sorry, but that's classified information."
Truth is an important concept in this game and on these forums. Fighting a war is to take part in an information-gap activity. Both sides have a justification for war - their "truth" - and the actual general truth lies from a synthesis of these private "truths". In other words, truth is relative and isn't absolute. Many discussion threads get closed on the forums because people are unable to accept that other people, enemies, have valid opinions and voices. Believe it or not, it's OK for your enemies to criticize your alliance on the forums.
Remember that the people who view your threads in the forum may not even play on your server at all. They need examples, information, data and evidence to remain interested. Flaming is a huge turn-off.
Compare these two threads: http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?t=55799 with http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?t=141879
It is also important that a diplomat - and by extension, their alliance - is seen by the community to act with morality. Here are some examples to illustrate what I'm talking about:
Create a "no-hit" list
When attacking an alliance, take the time to find out if there are any kids playing, or if there are any players in that alliance who are having really terrible real life issues. Create and maintain a "no hit" list so that these poor unfortunates don't get wiped out. When you create such a list, make sure that everyone in all the alliances knows about it, and that the enemy alliance understands that if resources and troops get stockpiled in the "no hit" cities, then they will be removed from the list and targetted.
There is another category of player who may be placed on the "no hit" list, but I will explain more about that later.
Give people chances to avoid war
When attacking an alliance or a multi-alliance group, allow enemies who don't want to fight the opportunity to leave their alliance and move to a new alliance which will keep them out of the war but which is tied to your alliance grouping. In Wn1, we had a sister alliance called "WMDmercy" which we used for this purpose. Reluctant fighters in targeted alliances could move to that alliance; we sifted through them and later absorbed the best players when the war was done.
A Clear explanation of war
The more you have to talk to explain why you went to war, the less people are interested and the less convinced they are that you went to war for honest reasons. Alliance, especially top flight alliances, tend to know for weeks in advance who they will be at war next. Look for opportunities to sell a war declaration in a clear and simple way. These include: violations of publicly agreed to terms (again, the forums are key here), discovery of spying, an agreement to stand by a weaker alliance, or whatever.
Ending a war positively
I can explain this best by providing a personal example. The defining war for WMD on S1 was the war with SpartanZ and 300, their sub. We were at war for what seemed like forever, and it was brutal. WMD eventually won the war, but it was hard fought and both sides were evenly matched. Of course, by the end, both sides wanted peace. However, I had tried to broker peace earlier and had been rejected because SpartanZ thought they were in a great position to win the war. When WMD won, we imposed horrendously tough conditions on SpartanZ, which broke them as an alliance. Their best players did not join us. There was little gain in the war.
It's much better to end a war with reasonable, even generous, conditions. Look at this post for an example: http://bbs.evony.com/showpost.php?p=678348&postcount=74. Forcing alliances to "join or die", dictating alliance renames, demanding vassal status, and demanding transfer of heroes and cities are ineffective ways to end conflict. Aside from failing the "fun test", they will only store up resentment.
8. Diplomacy as a Weapon
Peeling the layers off the onion
I'm going to write something here that will make some forum members splutter "that's not true, not in my alliance, man!" but nonetheless, it's going to be a truth. No alliance is made up of 100 big hitters all equally devoted to the cause. No alliance is 100% muscle. Sure, the host and the officers may seem like they are online all the time, but what about the weekend warriors? The farmers? The multi-accounters? The high prestige inactive accounts? Every alliance in this game has layers of activity and loyalty. It's the job of the diplomat to strip away some of those layers.
One way to do this is to talk to individual hostile players, to find out what they need to be convinced to stop attacking. If they are good, they can even join your alliance when the war is over. During the war, they can be put on a "no hit" list. Of course, their status on the list should be a secret from their alliance, and if they attack they get taken off the list.
Many alliances are part of larger families. There's three models of mega-alliance families:
- A tightly controlled multialliance run by a single centralized command group (eg: P50T from S1)
- A dominant alliance and its vassal alliances (eg: Karnage from S1)
- A loosely controlled multialliance with decentralized decision making (eg: WMD from Wn1)
The method for dealing with all three variants is similar, but will be less effective the tighter the alliance control is. Essentially, a multi alliance group moves the onion skin graphic above into three dimensions. As diplomat, your job is amplified - not just are you trying to peel away layers from individual alliances, but also the connections binding the alliances together. This is easiest with an alliance group using vassals. Any alliance group using this system is guaranteeing eventual failure. When "BoB" (Karnage, their 5+ vassals, P50T and 1984) declared war on WMD in S1, it was laughably easy to remove Karnage's vassals from the conflict. A vassal will always turn on their master if they have a good chance for independence. Karnage's allies were harder to deal with, but with only basic prodding the entire coalition against us seemed to collapse. That they regrouped and destroyed my old alliance was due to Emcee21, who was an elite level diplomat. But don't despair, not many alliances have people of his caliber.
Recruiting in unexpected ways
One mistake some diplomats make is in thinking one-dimensionally. It's easy to forget that people have lives beyond the wargame. Taking the time to talk to players you want to switch into your alliances is a great thing. The key is to make connections. I helped work on moving Nailbomb from SpartanS to WMD just by talking to him. Other players I poached by talking to them in their language, or talking about shared interests (pets, kids, travel, books, movies, etc). You'd be surprised how players react to a genuine human contact.
It may seem odd, but one of the best times to start chatting to these players is when they take a city from your alliance. Whenever that happened to WMD, I would always PM the enemy attacker and tell them "congratulations". It's an easy way to start a dialog, and once you start talking, all bets are off the table.
10. Recommendations Regarding Skype and Evony Approved Alliance Websites
Last edited by Boleslav; 08-12-2010 at 10:54 PM.
ZOMG! Added to the guide library! Nice job Boleslav
But I'm a no diplomacy type of guy. I don't like to be held back in anyway.
Comprehensive and educational. Bravo!
I will only point out that perhaps not all hosts will be comfortable with an official diplomat as some would rather speak for themselves, specially the smaller alliances. But there is no reason why this shouldn't apply to a Host/Diplomat as well.
Very good thread! If people take this game seriously, the diplomacy should also be a serious part of it.
ASMO approves of this guide on the condition that he be made a mod of earth.
Good job! Boles a great start up guide for any would be leader/warmonger and everyone in-between.
I've updated the guide since you posted this, and I still have work to do on it, but I'd say that by neglecting diplomacy you aren't achieving as much with your alliance as you could do.
Originally Posted by Satan
I'll be happy to check it soon to see what changes you have made.
Originally Posted by jerryyichang
I think this is what Satan is also referencing in his post. I would counter argue that I have never met a host who actually enjoyed doing all the replying to the mails and whispers they receive. In my suggested structure, the diplomat does all that. The host still gets to make the final decisions.
Originally Posted by Wildor
What I was getting at, is that I like to be the most aggressive alliance out there. In few servers I play, I will only join an alliance that has very limited friendlies, and a large list of hostiles. Why? Because the game becomes much, much more fun that way. Sometimes, I'll even join teddybear alliances, stir up some trouble, leave, and have them all come after me. It's quite funny actually.
Originally Posted by Boleslav