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OK, so I just moved from emperor to immortal level and its becoming a bit tricky to me. The main problem is that I somehow manage to piss off all my neighbours way too soon :(

The only obvious diplomatic option to keep good relations is a pact of cooperation. But do such things as trade and research agreements or open border treaties make actual impact on your relations? If so, what are their relative values? Also, apparently giving money to other civs should make them happy, but how much should I give to make any impact?

In Civ 5 (unlike in civ 4, where it was clearly identified positive or negative points for diplomatic relations) it all is very vague, basically what you have to do is read the leaders body language. Which I think actually is very realistic. So the only two ways I can think of answering this question is:

  • to try and dig in some modding options, like some default values is some .xml files or anything, does the modding affect diplomacy at all?
  • to share your experience.

So I shall share my experience in my own answer.

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I think I'll leave this question open in case someone is able to dig out some real numbers –  Adj Oct 21 '10 at 14:05
    
One of the features in the upcoming patch is supposed to be much more transparency in terms of how the AI feels about you and what is causing it to feel that way. –  bwarner Nov 12 '10 at 15:37
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4 Answers

I'm currently playing my first successful game on immortal. The most important thing to keep the AI from attacking you is to have a strong enough military that you aren't an easy target. This means that you might have to forego wonders and other early buildings to catch up to the AIs starting units. You should also focus on scouting early, so you can meet as many city-states as possible, find some ruins, and kill some barbarians, all of which boost your economy. In my experience, it also means that you're going to have to attack someone early on in order to catch up to everyone else's growth. A few good puppet cities (preferably with one of those wonders you skipped) will put you back on par with the other AIs.

Some other tips regarding relations I've learned

  • Try to get a pact of cooperation early on, while there's still plenty of space between you and the other civ. They aren't time limited, so it can help protect you for a long time.
  • I've been turning down pact of secrecy offers, they limit my ability to be friends with as many people as possible.
  • I've also been turning down open borders, this just allows the AI to scout me and see that he likely has a military advantage.
  • I didn't settle many cities (only one in fact, the rest of my cities were captured). Eventually the AI settled near me, and this did cause our relations to sour, but at least it put it off.
  • I've never given money to other civs, but I have occasionally given them free resources if they ask for them nicely.
  • Research agreements are good, but be careful that you don't help one AI get too big of an advantage. I try to make agreements with the civs that have a lower score.
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@bwarner, thanks for the answer, is it that you can't get a pact of cooperation when you have a pact of secrecy against someone? –  Adj Oct 19 '10 at 12:57
    
+1 for "If they ask for them nicely". –  user56 Oct 19 '10 at 15:26
    
Well, pact of secrecy doesn't prevent you from doing anything. But if you signed a pact of secrecy with Civ A against Civ B, making agreements with Civ B would violate that and cause Civ A (and possibly everyone) to not trust you. –  bwarner Oct 19 '10 at 16:01
    
If it would cause Civ A to not trust you it would be very clever, I'd love it. Can you verify that on your experience? But it should not affect any other Civs, as a pact of secrecy should be a secret after all :) –  Adj Oct 20 '10 at 10:36
    
@Adj See gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/7926/…. I'm pretty sure that I have had the pact-making civ contact me angrily because I violated a pact of secrecy after accidentally making a deal with the other civ. –  bwarner Oct 20 '10 at 11:19
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These are the points you should consider if you want to improve the relations:

  • The first and most important factor is the respect of your standing army. And to gain that you have to build it up and show it. Which means if you don't have an open borders agreement don't hide your army deep inside - parade it near the borders. Still better your borders rather then their's if you want to avoid some unnecessary questions.
  • Second most important factor on my experience is the friction caused by close borders. So if you want to avoid conflict don't settle near other Civs. On the other hand if they start to settle near you apparently there is just one thing to do - prepare for war!! (and fast).
  • Giving cities. Apparently AI values cities a lot. Some people even call it an exploit - capturing cities and selling them to other Civs for loads of money. So giving up cities should definetely improve your relations, but it obviously just buys you some time and not solves the problem.
  • Giving money. I don't have much of experience myself, but I imagine we must be talking about hundreds and even thousands of gold, probably depending on your and civ in question wealth.

Now I don't have an idea of how the other agreements actually affect your relations, but I can tell quite well how they can be used as the indicators what your relations are at the moment.

  • Pact of cooperation. If they go for it that means that your relations are really good. And if they cancel it it's the first sign that they are souring.
  • Fair trade. One luxury item for another one item is the sign of good relations. If a Civ wants several items for just one it means they hate you. On the other hand if they are ready to give several items for just one it means they fear you.
  • Pact of secrecy against someone. If a Civ is about neutral about you they won't sign up for cooperation but still might sign a pact of secrecy. And if they cancel that it means your relations are really going on negative side.
  • Research agreements. On my experience even quite pissed Civs will sign up for a research agreement. So I think that is the least factor describing your relations.
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I agree with bwarner's excellent answer, just another thing about open borders: I usually decline open border agreements because

  • I'm afraid of a surprise attack
  • I'm annoyed when troops of other civilizations stand in the way of my workers
  • I often expand so that whole areas of land require passing through my territory to access, so by declining open borders I keep those areas for my future cities

However, in the few instances where I do approve of open borders, I've noticed the AI being friendlier towards me. So I do think open borders make you friendlier with other civilizations.

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I agree re declining open borders, I usually go for it just if I can't get a view of rival's capital (which is useful for checking what wonders they are building) or my scouting galley is stuck because of some silly single tile of coast belonging to other civ. –  Adj Oct 19 '10 at 14:06
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I've played a lot of Emperor difficulty but the opinion I've formed early is NEVER get into a research agreement with a direct neighbor, or often any neighbor on the same continent. For me a direct neighbor will always declare war just to spoil the agreement. I've no recollection of testing Ghandi but you'll notice most Civ 5 leaders didn't get famous by being pacifists. The direct neighbor may or may not have an army on your borders. The neighbor across the continent often doesn't show up with any units, ever.

My opinion on open borders isn't any better. On immortal difficulty Japan surprisingly bypassed me to attack the more distant Askia. (I suspect a Japan/Askia research agreement spoiler was the motivation if the AI is consistent and doesn't just pick on non AI) Anyways several turns later I thought it safe to go open borders with Japan and send a scout to snoop. Japan accepted, declared war the following turn (The old "Pretending to be Friendly"), slaughtered my scout and happily managed two enemies. It was early game, I played Romans, small army (five units) two city front, stalemate with most battles in my borders.

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