I'm crossposting this from the Slitherine forums, so that those users who only read this forum might see it.
I understand that the developers plan on expanding the game over time, a la Panzer Corps. I feel that the part of the game that most urgently needs addressing is the diplomatic model, so here are a few suggestions for how revamped diplomacy might work.
A simple system would be for every nation's diplomatic stance to be graded from 0 to 10. 0 represents allied with the Entente, 10 represents allied with the Central Powers, and 5 is dead center neutral. The two sides can use influence points (based on how many nations have joined?) to influence the positions of neutrals, either bringing in new combatants or delaying their entry.
Here's a rough draft of what neutral powers' starting positions might be (ignoring France, Germany, and Russia for now, who start neutral, but would be either hard coded or strongly weighted to come in at the historical times):
UK: 3 (representing the "Understanding" with the French and Russians, see below for effect of violation of Belgium)
Belgium: 5 (see below for Violation of Belgium)
Italy, Bulgaria: 5 (historical combatants, but Swayable by either side. See below for suggested events or decisions that might bring them in on either side)
Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, Persia: 5 (these nations historically remained neutral, so perhaps some extra resistance to persuasion would be needed)
Portugal: 4 (representing longstanding ties to the UK)
Ottoman Empire: 6 or 7 (Military ties to Germany, antipathy towards the UK and Russia)
Trading with neutrals:
Both alliances gain PP from neutral nations (assuming there's a viable trade route, see below for more details). Only neutrals whose attitude is between, say, 3 and 7 are allowed to trade with both sides. Neutrals outside this range would only trade with their favored alliance. This would simulate the trade of various nations, especially the Central Powers, with neutrals (the US, Sweden, the Netherlands, etc). The two alliances can place pressure on neutrals to stop or limit their trade, or through blockades (see below).
In addition to spending Influence Points, the two alliances can sway neutrals through various events and decisions. Here are some examples.
Violation of Belgium
- Belgium is hardcoded as neutral and can't be swayed (Albert was super strict in his neutrality).
- UK stance swings four points against whoever declares war on Belgium (AI controlled CP should do this most of the time)
- If France pulled a "reverse Schlieffen plan," this would swing the UK to an unfavorable neutrality, but not outright war)
Impound Ottoman ships
- Historically, the UK seized two warships freshly constructed for the Ottomans. This move angered the Ottomans and pushed them further into the arms of the CP.
- Available only if UK has joined Entente.
- If UK accepts, UK gains one cruiser unit near London. Ottoman Empire +2 stance
- If UK declines, in two turns Ottomans gain one cruiser unit near Constantinople. Ottoman Empire -1 stance.
Goeben and Breslau
- Available only if Ottoman Empire neutral.
- If the CP bring a cruiser within x hexes of Gallipoli, +3 Ottoman empire stance. Cruiser unit becomes Ottoman controlled. No morale bonus.
North Sea Blockade
- Available if UK has joined Entente.
- Stops all German trade with Spain and Portugal. German trade with US, Norway halved.
- +1 US and Norway stance.
- Available if France has joined Entente.
- Stops all Austrian and Ottoman trade with Portugal, Spain, and US. +1 Ottoman empire stance if still neutral.
- Represents UK application of the "Doctrine of continuous voyage" to prevent neutral trade with Germany through Netherlands, Denmark.
- Available if Entente has taken "North Sea Blockade" decision.
- Stops all German trade with US. Halves German trade with Netherlands, Denmark.
- +1 Netherlands, Denmark, US stance.
- Available to CP if UK has joined Entente.
- CP can choose to start the East Africa Campaign event chain by accepting.
- Once activated, UK loses 5 PP per turn, representing the resources needed to garrison East Africa and combat the forces led by Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck.
Reinforce East Africa
- Available to Entente if CP has chosen to activate "Heia Safari"
- Entente can spend 20 points to reinforce their colonial garrisons and push Lettow-Vorbeck back.
- -5 PP/turn penalty canceled.
Retreat to Portuguese Africa
- Available to CP if Entente has activated "Reinforce East Africa"
- If accepted, Germany spends 10 PP to retreat von Lettow-Vorbeck's forces into Portuguese colonies.
- -5 PP/turn to UK, Portugal
- -3 Portugal stance
- If declined, East Africa event chain ends, UK no longer penalized 5 PP per turn.
Unrestricted Submarine Warfare
- Available to CP if at war with UK.
- CP submarines' operational range +10
- -3 to US stance
These are just some examples I've daydreamed off the top of my head. There could be other event chains to influence Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, etc. I'd appreciate your feedback and balancing suggestions.
I'm also crossposting this response from FOARP.
"The game already includes a stance-metric for each country, what is missing is any way of influencing this positively.
My favoured approach is that each alliance gains a diplomat for each friendly capital it holds. Similarly to labs, these can either remain unassigned, in which case they influence all neutral countries equally, or they can be assigned to a single country, in which case they have a larger influence effect on that country but none on any else, with a maximum of one assigned diplomats per country.
The effect that each diplomat has should depend on the morale of the country that provides them - if Germany has 90% morale, then its diplomats should have 0.9 of their maximum efficiency. In this way, countries that are slowly being defeated should have less influence than those that are winning the war.
In addition to the current stance-metric, each country will also have a neutrality rating showing the difficulty with which they may be influenced. Switzerland, for example, might have a high rating (say, 10), making it practically impossible to influence into either camp even if it is focused on for the entire length of the war. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark might have slightly lower ratings (say, 9, 9, and 8, respectively) , meaning that they might be influenced into either camp so long as they are focused on for long enough and the other side doesn't try to counter their influence.
Some countries should have an attribute that makes them more susceptible to influence from one side than the other. All remaining equal, Entente influence on Italy, Romania, and Greece should be greater than that of the Central Powers, whilst the influence of the Central Powers on Bulgaria should be greater than the Entente's. If the Entente suffers some a-historical defeats, though, this story should change.
I'd still like the invasion of Belgium and the British, Russian, and French declarations of war to be via event, though, since without these countries the war would essentially be a non-event. Turkey's entry into the war on the side of the Central Powers should also be constructed so as to be the default result."
I'd love to know your thoughts on how this design would work and whether it could be implemented in a future version of the game. The game would have a lot more replay value if the composition of the alliances, or at least the timing of neutrals joining the war, could be changed more directly.