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A Beginner's Guide to Vanguard Diplomacy (Pg 1) 1.04.07

Updated Fri, Jan 02, 2009 by Ralsu

Waggling a Silver Tongue

A Beginner's Guide to Vanguard Diplomacy

By Ralsu

The full intent of this guide is to give you a brief introduction of what Diplomacy is (Overview), an explantion of Diplomacy mechanics (Basics and Advanced), a look at some beginner Diplomacy quests (Competing Egos and Flesh to Stone), and a hint of what might come after the entry-level quests (What Now?).

To help convey the complexities of the Diplomacy sphere, this guide makes use of roughly 35 screen shots taken from Beta 4. The images will appear small on this page, but you can click them to view the larger version. Keep in mind that images taken from Beta 4 may not reflect what the final product looks like.

To help you navigate this guide, use the links in the box below:

Waggling a Silver Tongue

A Beginner's Guide to Vanguard Diplomacy
  1. Overview
  2. Basics
  3. Advanced Training
  4. Competing Egos
  5. Flesh to Stone
  6. What Now?

I. Overview

Diplomacy, one of the three major spheres in Vanguard, focuses on contests of verbal wit bewteen the player and various non-player characters (NPCs) throughout the world of Telon. A successful diplomat can alter the course of politics in an area. Small tasks might be to convince two sentient swords to resolve an old dispute so that their owner can wield them harmoniously in combat (see Competing Egos). Most difficult challeneges might ask you to investigate rumors of a merchant rebellion in a major city. The Diplomacy process, which is called parley, manifests on your screen as a turn-based card game of sorts. Players who have experience with Magic: The Gathering or Triple Triad from Final Fantasy VIII will have an advantage coming into Vanguard's Diplomacy system. For those who have experience in neither of those games, don't fret; this guide will help any Vanguard Diplomacy newb get caught up in no time!

II. Basics

Your journey toward becoming a renowned diplomat begins when you talk to the Diplomacy trainer in your starting area. Keep in mind that my examples come from the Wood Elf beginning tree city. Different regions regard Diplomacy with varied prestige. The Wood Elves call the art of Diplomacy "The Language of the Wind," and its masters are held in high esteem (image 1). Once you've expressed interest to the Diplomacy trainer, you are given two starter cards--expression cards.

Your first task will be to prepare those cards for use in parley (image 2). Press the P key (default for Abilities menu) and click on the Diplomacy tab. Click the Strategy button to make your Diplomacy "hand" appear. You'll see five empty slots. As you gain more cards and learn what kinds of diplomatic situations you are going into, you'll have to make tough decisions about what kind of cards to put into your hand.

Click one of your two starter cards and then click one of the five slots in your hand (you can also drag and drop) to place the card in you hand. Repeat with the second card.  Alternately, you can follow the trainer's tutorial on how to set up cards in your hand.

Now you're ready to speak to the trainer again to begin your first lesson. (image 4). Don't be nervous. The trainer will talk you through it--and you have this guide!

start
prep
lesson1
1 - Starting
2 - Preparing cards
3 - Lesson 1

The trainer will walk you through the various aspects of a parley. The focus of this first lesson is understanding what it takes to win a parley. As your trainer will tell you, the parley window should be viewed as two halves: your opponent up top, and you at the bottom. You win a parley by playing cards that influence the marker on the far right to your side (the bottom) of the board by the time one of you uses all of your dialog points, which are represented by the numbers by the dialog bubbles at the top and bottom of the scale (image 4). You need only to end the parley with the scale tipped toward you to win, but it is possible to win a parley outright by reaching one extreme end or the other of the scale.

How do you the cards tip the parley scale in your favor? Cards have an influence score indicated in their upper right corner (image 5). This tells you how much the scale will move and in whose favor. Positive numbers move the scale toward you. Negative numbers move the scale away from you. We'll cover why a diplomat in his right mind would give the advantage to his opponent in the Advanced section. For now, just know that you want to end parley with the scale tipped in your favor, and you use cards to influence the scale.

This first Diplomacy lesson also includes information about how to use the cards and understand there features. Image 6 below contains many notes to help you out. First, you can play a card by clicking on it and then clicking the speak button in the parley window (blue lines on image 6). Each card has a refresh timer shown on the bottom right of the card, meaning you may have to wait several rounds before you can play it again. Timers can be static or a random number in a range (lime lines on image 6). It is completely possible that you will not have any cards ready to play on your turn and have to choose the listen option on the parley window (yellow lines on image 6). And as I will not in Flesh to Stone, Listen can be a pretty good option even if you have cards ready to play.

We'll look at more of the notes on image 6 in just a bit.

scale
influence
features
4 - The Parley Scale
5 - Influence
6 - Card features

Your trainer will go on to explain that some cards have a cost required to put them into play (Magic, Pokèmon, Yu-gi-Oh players will get this). This cost is called Expression, and it comes in four types:
Demand, represented by red dots; Reason, illustrated by green dots; Inspire, shown by blue dots; and Flatter, the yellow dots. Each of these types can be seen below in images 7-10.

You gain the Expression needed to play a card when your opponent plays a card. See, in addition to the influence your card has over the parley scale, it also gives Expression to you and/or your opponent. The dark green lines in image 6 highlight the fact that the Snippet of Wisdom card gives the opponent one Expression point in each of the 4 categories.

Demand
Reason
Inspire
Flatter
7 - Demand
8 - Reason
9 - Inspire
10 - Flatter

Images 11-15 show you the dialog exchanged between my trainer and me. It says basically the same thing I've said, but this is dense material; it doesn't hurt to read the words again. Note that you don't have to try to read all of the dialog during the parley. You can just concentrate on winning and then read the text. In fact, you may find yourself in a parley where you have a limited time to respond to your opponent!
banter
banter
banter
banter
victory
11 - Banter
12 - Banter
13 - Banter
14 - Banter
15 - Victory!


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