I’ve been playing games for a long time and one thing I really find lacking in games is decent diplomacy. After watching the Stellaris streams I can’t help but think of how all diplomacy in that game is War, very limited trading, and Defensive agreements which boil down to saying you will kill the people who attack your ally, or the people your ally attacks.
All forms of interaction or change come from war. Revolutions don’t happen on their own you make them happen by invading a country and changing their government. Trade is only a bare bones exchange of resources. You used to be able to “push” your borders in order to take over parts of the map without going to war and get the asteroids and non-colonized planets within but that was removed when the apocalypse expansion was added.
When I look at a game like Stellaris I initially think of all the plotting and strategizing I could do but after the initial phase of expansion the map is quickly filled and never changes except through war. So I’m looking for strategy games that the player can interact with outside of just war.
The first one I know of is Crusader Kings 2 where the politics of a situation aren’t determined solely by the map, who hates or likes who, and who has the biggest military. In that game things can be changed dramatically by marriage or untimely death and while war is likely inevitable it feels like the result of the world changing rather than the only force changing it.
I know the Civilization series is a popular choice and there are many ways to win the game without war. There are a ton of games that follow the Civ style of multiple ways to win and one of my favorites is a game called Star Ruler 2. In that game there was a really deep diplomacy system where you would spend influence to buy cards that you use for political actions and proposals. You could do strait forward things like spend influence on cards that improve your ships or planets.You could make proposals that, if they pass, allow you to become leader of the Galactic Senate, or take permanent control of a planet or solar system. You could also do subtler things like rush proposals through so others have less time to stop you, or you could slow them down, you could call out other nations so they would have to weigh in on a proposal or give you leverage against them. If you become leader of the senate you can be the biggest scumbag and manipulate the voting process by giving one nation more voting power or stopping a nation from taking part in a specific vote. All of this is happening in real time as you play the game. Too bad the devs are inactive.
So are there any other strategy games you can think of where you can make significant changes to the world outside of war?