Sirian's Great Library - Strategies for Civilization III
Effective Diplomacy and Trade

UPDATED Aug 1, 2002: The Foreign Minister screen can only show up to seven rivals, yet you can play with more (on large maps, or through alterations in the editor). There are three ways to contact civs not shown on F4: 1) You can shift-rightclick on any F4 portrait and reassign any civ not currently being shown. 2) You can reach other civilizations through the Trade Advisor, F2. 3) You can click on the tiny "D" button for diplomacy in the bottom right of the main display. I don't tend to use the D, but I use both of the others (and on large map games, I rotate the pictures on F4 a lot to see who's at war with whom, etc).
Nov 16, 2001: Embassies are no longer required to talk with your rivals. Just making contact allows you to meet with them. However, you cannot negotiate treaties without an embassy. Establishing an embassy with your nearby neighbors, at the very least, would be a good idea in general. Not only does it improve relations, but it also allows for Right of Passage agreements and other treaties that may be important to your civilization. In particular, it is difficult to explore with early ships when rivals keep complaining about you violating their territory. You can do it a few times, but if you persist, they eventually grow angry.
Nov 16, 2001: Beware of Military Alliances. In accepting one, you may betray existing agreements, and that bodes ill for your future. Either make sure your would-be enemy has no ongoing agreements with you that last a specified length and have not expired, or else realize you will lose some face for betraying them. Likewise, a military alliance lasts at least 20 turns, and if you make peace with the enemy before the end, you break your alliance agreement. Thus, democracies in particular must be wary of alliances, as war weariness can force you to sue for peace if it gets out of hand.
Nov 16, 2001: World Map information is a valuable commodity. Don't give it away lightly, and never give away large map secrets between turns. Do that only during your own turn, so that you can sell the same information to everyone you know and get paid for it each time, rather than selling it to one rival and watching them turn around and sell it to everyone else (which they WILL do). Likewise, if you do pay through the nose for information, you may be able to be the one who turns around and sells it simultaneously to everyone in the world. In the most extreme cases, this move could be worth thousands of gold! I kid you not. Take heed.
Nov 16, 2001: Don't trade away vital resources to important rivals. Coal is the most important, then Oil, and Iron. Rubber is up there, too, Saltpeter for a while, and of course Uranium. Horses can make a huge difference early, but rarely can you trade that quickly. Lack of access to vital resources can cripple a rival. On the other hand, you may WANT to provide a weak neighbor access to these resources to prevent (or try to slow) their disintegration. The last thing you want is to see a neighbor swallowed whole by a strong rival, and almost as bad is the world carving up their lands and you not getting a slice. Be careful who you trade vital resources to. The AI's do not value them as much as they should in terms of paying you for them, but they sure do want an arm and a leg to trade them to you.
Jan 2, 2002: The AI's will trade techs back and forth amongst one another, if they have cash on hand. If they do not have the cash, they won't trade as much, or not at all. You therefore might as well broker tech to them, selling to all you can, if they have large bankrolls of cash on hand. By contrast, if they are all sitting around with no cash, or running deficits through cash paid out per-turn, you might decide to hold on to your tech lead (if you have one) and try to pull out ahead of them. Nothing beats having the tech lead, but there are times when the AI is going to buy tech from somebody no matter what you do, so learn to spot their large bankrolls and be the one to benefit. Drain them of cash and then you can continue to broker if you like, for per-turn payouts, or be stingy and try to get ahead.
Jan 2, 2002: Right of Passage costs are calculated based on total land controlled. Therefore it will cost YOU extra to secure RoP with larger rivals, but smaller civs will PAY YOU for a right of passage. If you play expansionist style and focus everything on building settlers and grabbing lots of land, you may be able to charge almost everyone for what will often be useless Rights of Passage -- and everyone with whom you make such an agreement will be more polite to you. Be careful, though, the AI may betray you over a city with a resource they want, so keep an eye on that. You can't cancel the agreement on them in the middle without a huge loss of reputation, and you need a clean reputation to continue to have the option of selling RoP treaties for cash-on-hand. If your rep gets too ugly, they may even stop agreeing to pay you per-turn. So be careful.
Jan 2: 2002: Razing a city mostly affects only your relations with the civ you harmed. The loss of face with other civs seems minimal. Any civ whose cities you start burning to the ground will never again be your friend, but sometimes it doesn't matter (if you are taking an aggressive stance). Don't be afraid to raze, it's a valuable military option, sometimes worth the cost. On the other hand, if you want to keep the Diplomatic Victory option open, you can't afford to be razing cities. You'll make too many bitter enemies that way to ever win the UN vote.
Aug 1, 2002: The cost of buying contact is related to the power of the civ in question. One thing that came clear to me a few months ago is the utter importance of being in contact with as many civs as possible, preferably with all of them. Tech costs deflate for you not based on the number of civs who have a tech, but based on the number that you are in contact with, who have the tech. If you can get into the glorious position of being in contact with several civs, but them unable to contact one another (possible, for example, if you build the Lighthouse and can sail where they can't), then DON'T sell the contacts. Keep them in the dark from one another, giving you lower costs but keeping their costs higher, and you able to play middle man to your own benefit. By contrast, if you are the one unable to meet some of your rivals, beg borrow or steal whatever you have to to buy those contacts, and do so before you make tech deals, so that the tech deals you do make will be lowered in price.
Aug 1, 2002: AI's will trade contact with one another faster than anything, even tech. If you sell contact between civs for some valuable tech, maps, other contacts, cash or goods, then in most cases, all the civs who have any link with one another will trade around the rest of those links very quickly. It is usually best to do that yourself. Even if you have to give away some of the contacts in question, at least you get the diplomatic boost of showing some generosity. That's better than letting the AI's get the benefit for those trades.
Aug 1, 2002: On Deity, always cave in to AI demands. That's one of the secrets of survival: to give in to their arrogance and petty extortion. You might occasionally be in position to handle a war with the enemy, but unless you have good relations (and especially trade agreements) with your other rivals, the one coming after you may buy allies and you find yourself at the business end of several armies rolling through your lands. The extortion demands are usually cheap, especially if you don't keep lots of cash, and if you trade/sell any techs you get that they don't already have. On Emperor or lower, you may have a shot at fending them off, but often even then it's less costly to pay a small extortion bill than divert into a war you don't need to be fighting. On the other hand, sometimes the demands are outrageous, and even on Deity there are times (later in the game, when your position is stronger) that the right thing to do is tell some bully to put a sock in it. When in doubt, though, cave in. You don't need to lose a whole game over a hasty moment of pride. Take your lumps, and dish out the revenge later, when you are in a stronger position. The AI's almost invariably call off their attacks and war plans, and leave you alone for a while, if they make a demand and you pay what they insist.

- Sirian

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