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    DevDiary 12 – Diplomacy Part 1 – Wars and Alliances

    Hello friends, and welcome once again to 12th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! In this diary we will begin to talk about one of, if not the most important, feature in the game – diplomacy. Since this topic is huge, we will split it in several parts, starting with Wars and Alliances. The art of war is the most common way to dominance and victory, and even if you prefer to play the “Swiss neutrality” style, chances are that sooner or later, you will be attacked by more aggressive kingdoms or get involved in conflicts by other means. As we say here in Bulgaria, “Around dry things, the wet ones burn, too”.

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    War was one of the things we wanted to improve from the first game, mainly when two or more kingdoms are involved, fighting in alliances with each other. It is true that we had alliances in the original game, and we started with the same functionality in this one, but we naturally stumbled upon familiar problems. Alliances were practically permanent, punishing you if you ever decide to attack kingdoms you once allied with. Alliances also often felt tedious, forcing you into conflicts that you would otherwise want to avoid because of actions out of your control, and usually not in a fun way.

    Initially, we tried to solve the problem by limiting them to one generation, meaning that alliances were dissolved upon the death of either of the kings who signed them (inspired by some historical alliances and texts). This worked in some cases, but in others – it didn’t work at all. Sometimes alliances were disappointingly short, other times they were still too long and the problem with participation in wars against unwanted enemies remained. Even we, the developers, primarily avoided using alliances when playing the game, so we finally made a rather big change – in “KoH2:S” they exist only in the context of wars and while it lasts.

    Now, before someone gets awfully disappointed, we want to assure you we have a lot of “peace time” pacts – defensive pacts, invasion plans, royal marriages, vassal-liege relations and other agreements, for which we will very soon tell you about, but right now, we will focus just on the alliances in wars (or as we call them – just “alliances”). None of these previously mentioned pacts guarantees an alliance, though they usually make it highly probable.

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    What helped us a lot was that historically wars were rarely 1 vs 1, and we had a ton of inspiration from actual events – from many medieval wars like the Anglo-French War (1213–1214), where France defeated the Angevin Empire, allied with the Holy Roman Empire, Flanders and Boulogne; to some older epic wars in the Balkans, like the defeat of the Arab invasion by the Bulgarian khan Tervel, that supported the weak (at that point) Byzantium and with this alliance stopped the Muslim advance in the interior of Europe during the 8th century, about the time when the whole Iberian peninsula fell.

    So, in “KoH2:S” each war has two sides (alliances), and each alliance has one leader and possibly several supporters. The supporters can participate from the beginning of the war (depending on the pacts, prior to starting the war) or join in afterwards. Surely, players that prefer to gain strong friends through diplomacy will often use the options like “Demand support in war”, as this can quickly bring a lot of power to their alliance, especially if you have some of the aforementioned stances and pacts. Leaving or disbanding an alliance as the war goes is also a possibility, but the outcome is what you’d expect – your ex-allies will not be very happy about it and overall, your reputation and authority will be hurt, so it is usually a though decision to make.

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    By this time, you are probably wandering how can you ever end a war, considering that you might have formidable forces against you and long wars lead to serious exhaustion of a kingdom. Indeed, you can destroy your enemies and this will lead to peace, but against bigger kingdoms, you often have to negotiate it earlier. A war can be ended with negotiations ONLY between the leaders. If they agree on the terms to sign peace, it is signed between the two alliances and practically everyone participating in the war – leaders and supporters.

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    During the war, supporters are able to negotiate peace with the opposing leader “solo” and if the agreement is accepted, they exit the war. Yes, their ex-allies will be really disappointed, but at least their ex-enemies will be… ex-enemies. Supporters can never negotiate peace between each other, however:  any kingdom participating in war is always in “war stance” with ALL kingdoms of the enemy alliance while they are participating in the war.

    Now, we are considering adding an even more cunning diplomatic option – switching sides – but this can be (and, historically, was) extremely dramatic. It creates an awesome story indeed, but we are still unsure if it might feel too punishing for many players, when the Brutus’s dagger is in their backs.

    What’s your opinion on that matter – should we go all-in “Game of thrones” style, or should we have more honorable factions with less unpredictable diplomacy and backstabbing? Do you like the concept of these alliances, limited within the war, or would you prefer to have just the long-lasting pacts between kingdoms? We’d love to hear about your playstyle in strategy games – do you like to gather a bunch of allies before even thinking of invading someone; do you prefer not to bother with that diplomacy mumbo-jumbo and straight out dominate everyone that crosses your path; or do you prefer something in between, like building a ‘safety cloud’ with no aggression pacts, but then marching into war alone?

    We will talk more about Diplomacy (Wars and Alliances mainly) in our DevStream on Thursday, October 29th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. This time the original creator and creative director of both the new and the original KoH games – Vesselin Handjiev – will participate, so don’t miss it out. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream.

    Next time we will continue the subject of diplomacy since there is a lot more to share. Till then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer, our brave warriors!


    • Like 1
    THQN Brad
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    I love the change and want to see how it will work. Just some questions: 

    - Who will keep the land that is conqured? The leader of the alliance, whoever conqures it during the war, is it split equally after the war....

    - Do supporters get any say in peace talks? Can they demand vassalage/land/gold/anything from any nation that is on loosing side?

    - What happens if I refuse to join call to war? And can I punish someone that does not want to join my call to war? Or will there be no repercussions if you decline it?

     

     

    And I would still like to see change in relationship if you get married, donate gold to someone, attack someone they hate, brake trade agreement, etc...

     

     

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    Hello there Dear Devs,

    I hope that you and your families are healthy and fine!

    I have a question about the autoresolving of the battles on the campaign map. Namely, has it been remade so as to reflect the casualities realistically?

    Let me explain - in the original game, while autoresolving, players were losing whole units, instead of gradually dwindling the numbers of the soldiers in the units. Which meant that if you win you were losing a unit or two, while the rest of your units were all at full health, full numbers. This is a feat, which is impossible to achieve in actual tactical combat, where all of your units will get their hands dirty and will lose a number of soldiers. I would expect that even if you win a balanced battle, all of your units will be in a rather red health bar.

    Why am I addressing this - Because this autoresolve mechanic has made tactical combat (i.e. actually leading the battle yourself) the harder and rather undesireable option, while making autoresolving too easy and light. To put my question in simple words - Does autoresolving the battle on the campaign map now actually gives realistic casuallties to the army?

    This was my main issue with the original KoH as I am a very tactical player, this autoresolve mechanic breaks my style of play - why lose soldiers and health of units, when you can simply autoresolve and have your army (almost) at full health.

    This is all for now! Thank you for all of your efforts! They are greatly appreciated!

     

    Kind Regards!

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    I rather like the new style of alliances and war, it certainly has its inspirstions and it shows. I am not sure about the backstabbing approach to Game of Thrones scenarios - they certainly should not be excluded, however I believe that the game should focus on the "Honor" part of it. Personally I am a relaxed, slow player, so I enjoy peace time a lot. When I feel confident enough I declare war on the least likeable neighbour and the game of thrones starts. That playstyle of mine, though, might be changed in the new KoH2:S, as my skills in the game grow. Personally, I would be thrilled if same cultures have the tendency to unite against a common enemy of different culture, as it was in history. For instance a slavic alliance against the invading "alliance" of horse nations would sound great. Or unified Balkans, or perhaps unified Italy, as Niccolo Machiavelli always dreamed it to be. 

    All in all this is shaping up to be a great game and I can't wait to try it out! Please don't keep us on our toes for too long! 😉 

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    Will it be possible to invite rebel leaders operating inside the target country as possible allies for the war? And after the war I suppose (depending on their demands) they would require some spoils in return.

    I do support backstabbing, but I would expect both sides to lose relations with you, as everyone should trust you less, so even if you win, you may find your self with no allies going into the future because you lack HONOR!  

    P.S I think the flags on the event popups should have a little bit of texture to them. They look a bit too clean, as if they were straight from paint. Idunno what you think?

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    For your question: I don't favour the Game of Thrones backstabbing style, I think this is very punishing especially for multiplayer. So make it maybe an option for the game session but don't make it a given - or make it so costly that you think twice, thrice or even four times about doing it. I mean, the name of the game contains "honor" 😉 If you would want to implement it, what would happen to diplomacy? Will your new allies like it or not - will it depend on each party? -, or will just everybody hate you and remember what you did?

    In general, I really like the idea of the new alliances. In KoH1 it had more downsides to form alliances than upsides.

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    I really like the new changes being done to the alliances in the new game.  When you are at war, are you able to coordinate attacks on your enemy with your allies?  For example, can you directly instruct your ally to attack a particular province or town or enemy army?  Also, during RTS battles with an allied army involved, if your Marshal has a higher experience level than the allied Marshal, or if he possesses a particular skill, can you take over control of the allied army and lead their forces into battle as you do your own troops?  One of the issues I had with allied armies in the RTS battles in the first game was their lack of tactics and strategy when fighting.

    As to your question, I do like the Game of Thrones style of double-crossing your allies, as this was true to history.

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    I think an option would be a great idea for how to do alliances. You would be able to pick while creating the game weather alliances are only for war, or are a pact till you decide other wise. I really like the idea of pacts, that you are allies with a nation until you decide to de-ally. I do also like the idea of "grand alliances" one side vs the other, but I also think there should be an option that though you are allies with blank and they are fighting blank, you dont have to necessarily fight all of blanks allies. I think you should have to declare war or get declared upon for war to happen. You should have to declare war on each of the enemies allies, not automatic. Look at age of conquest IV, I really like how they do it. Or at least have that option. Options! Lol

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    Ooh, betrayals.  Very tempting.  But you are right.  It has the potential to be very one dimensional.

    If I was more certain of how well and how deep diplomacy was in the game, I would feel more comfortable with betrayals.

    The problem I see is that the cost of betrayal will be too little or too easily overcome, making switching sides just a tactical move.

    Consider KoH1.  I didn't care about alliances because not following through had no real consequence.  Oh, Kingdom Power dropped?  Click click click, problem solved.  Other countries were more wary of me now?  Who cares?  I just wait to roll stomp them.

    If the diplomacy package in KoH2 had much MUCH more going for it, then maybe betrayals could be something to look into adding.

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    Diplomacy is important ...and diplomats ranks are too important...example:magister officiorum was so important for Eastern Roman empire..and Grand Vizier was so important for Ottoman Empire...we can see these ranks for some Empires ? 

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    What I want from a grand strategy game:

    In service of player, I don't want games to give handicaps to my opponents.

    Since it's a single player game, I don't want the game's agents to play their roles for my enjoyment.

    I want a selfish AI just as me. The player.

     

    Giving personalities to AI is good thing but in the end AI shouldn't "live" its role to fullest. It's first priority should always be "alive" Just like any living being.

    AI personality modifiers should only weight actions of an AI to a degree but shouldn't lead to its demise.

    Edited by ruzen

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    5 hours ago, ruzen said:

    Giving personalities to AI is good thing but in the end AI shouldn't "live" its role to fullest. It's first priority should always be "alive" Just like any living being.

    AI personality modifiers should only weight actions of an AI to a degree but shouldn't lead to its demise.

    I don't think they are going to programme the AI to play its character against its own best interest.  I think any personality will be there to make the character a different strategic choice from other characters.  Otherwise we could employ the same strategy for each and every single encounter.

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    21 hours ago, ruzen said:

    What I want from a grand strategy game:

    In service of player, I don't want games to give handicaps to my opponents.

    Since it's a single player game, I don't want the game's agents to play their roles for my enjoyment.

    I want a selfish AI just as me. The player.

     

    Giving personalities to AI is good thing but in the end AI shouldn't "live" its role to fullest. It's first priority should always be "alive" Just like any living being.

    AI personality modifiers should only weight actions of an AI to a degree but shouldn't lead to its demise.

    This. All possible effort should be made to make AI to be an opponent rather than a theme park mannequin you are supposed to kick.

    The more complex and punishing any support system like diplomacy is in a game, the more potential it has to be abused by a player against an AI.

    I'm very skeptical about complexity of "defensive pacts, invasion plans, royal marriages, vassal-liege relations and other agreements" as well as "cunning diplomatic options". It is likely to be meaningless junk or much worse - easy exploits an AI can't manage but a human player can.

    For a competitive single player game any system should be first and foremost an easy to compute and act upon for a game AI.  I understand that KOH2 is more of an "experience" rather than a fair chess match, but I would urge you to keep yourself in check and stop making complex mechanics an AI can't perfectly navigate.

    For instance, take  an issue with alliance/betrayal. Player has ZERO incentive in keeping any promise while AI has to keep an appearance of faith. If AI always not faithful it is not a usable system for a player to even touch. So let me describe a system I would rather want to see.

    Any alliance or war agreement should have fixed action you should do or fixed actions you expect AI to commit to:

    • Raid N enemy villages by a certain time, take N provinces from an enemy by a certain time and so on. Fixed calculable actions you have to do or AI should do
    • If you don't keep to the fixed commitment there is a cost
    • If AI does not keep up - there is a cost of an AI
    • Probably you should have moderate and extreme commitments you can choose from depending on how you feel about current situation

    You have to clearly understand what YOU have to do and what AI have to do and what are you agreeing on, what the cost is, when the deadline is. Your diplomacy play should be about making costs higher or lower or committing to less or more action as you see fit. This is the only way you can make it work. If you are just "in an alliance" and you have zero concrete goals, AI has zero concrete goals, AI can cheat you and you can cheat on AI. "We are now at war" is totally useless for a human, it is completely pointless for a AI.

     

    Concrete, fixed commitments, time to complete, FIXED CONCRETE actions you have to make or AI commits to make by a certain date. What is the reward to follow through, what is the cost of betray. CONCRETE, numbers, list of actions.

    As a human I can't really plan a war with AI alliance "if they will just be in war", I want to plan and COMMITMENT of "we will take Paris in 5 years, you are committing to take a province of France in 3 years". As AI it is not computable if a human player is in a real war or just faking it unless there are easy to compute goals vs results.

    Can't have a lose terms, a lose expectations of who will do what at what cost and how it will change your plans. I've listened to your dev stream. You only real change from KOH1 is a single leader kingdom of an alliance, but its all based on logic what PEOPLE would do as part of an alliance IF they were in real life situation. But in the game there is only a single human player who is aware that everyone else is a dump exploitable AI and AI in it's own turns can't possibly judge what a player is doing or what the player intentions are. It won't work like you trying to describe on the stream. You might imagine all that, but it won't work like that.

    Fixed tasks. time to complete, potential rewards, costs for failure. Do you enter the alliance, yes/no.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    On 10/27/2020 at 7:30 AM, THQN Brad said:

    do you like to gather a bunch of allies before even thinking of invading someone; do you prefer not to bother with that diplomacy mumbo-jumbo and straight out dominate everyone that crosses your path; or do you prefer something in between, like building a ‘safety cloud’ with no aggression pacts, but then marching into war alone?

    I like the idea of making pacts.  Diplomacy is something that I think a lot of people clamor for.  It's wildly popular in Civ VI.

    I don't want just a hack and slash game. If I want that, Medieval II: Total War is still downloadable and playable.  Heck, Lords of the Realm II is still out there.

    The problem with KoH 1, which I think we've beaten to death, is that diplomacy was done so poorly.

    So yes please, invest more in diplomacy.  It makes the world a much more living, breathing entity.

    Different personalities, different means to the end.  This ruler prefers alliances.  This one is the lone wolf.  That one can't be trusted, this other one can.  He wants to use spies to take over kingdoms, that one believes in economic warfare.

    The more varied, the more diplomacy can play a role.  Hack and slash should be but one avenue to victory.

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    I like the idea for enemies to switch sides, so nice for if you want to make your games more entertaining.

    So for people who don't like it you can put a option pre game to remove it and like that both sides will be good with it. 

    People who don't like it can switch it off and people who do like it can switch on pre game and both sides okay with it. :)))))

    Edited by eNeXPi

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    So, I really like the direction of the alliances in the way described.  Switching sides was possible in real life and it is here as well.  I like the idea of it being possible, with enormous penalties to your relations with your former allies.

    The main question I had was about whether you will maintain from KoH1 the concept that whoever conquers the territory keeps the territory.  One of the most frustrating things in other games (such as CK3) is conquering a bunch of land, and then the game forcing you to give it back after you win a war, or worse, give it to an ally and gain nothing from it.  This also adds a layer of hesitation to automatically bringing all your allies into a war, because you'll have to share the spoils with them if they conquer land, something that also happened historically. 

    Edited by KingJohnVI

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    On 11/2/2020 at 6:21 AM, KingJohnVI said:

    The main question I had was about whether you will maintain from KoH1 the concept that whoever conquers the territory keeps the territory. 

    Yes.

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    I want to see for diplomacy in KoH:S; we make a peace within our two friends or vassals. I had in war one country and decide to peace. but my vassals continues this war and my new frinde (old enemy) crashed my vassals. I do anythink and this very much annoying. 

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    Player will abuse AI taking whatever land just under the nose of the allied AI. And allied AI will never be too smart or too aware to stand up to the abuse. Also AI will time to time take land a player wanted and planned to conquer, which will make a player to be angry against "this stupid allied AI ruining my plans". Because AI is an ally player won't be able to get it back by force. All this will angry the player, disturb and mix up war plans and make alliances a nuisance just like they were in original game.

    Alliance should have FIXED goals and FIXED rewards before a player or an AI commits to it. "Join the war and you will get Normandy if WE win". No one in the history of men joined an alliance and started a war without an agreement on who gets what at the end of it. It should be most obvious for both player and AI if the goals are met or failed and what rewards should be distributed at what moment.

    The abstract alliance mechanics are not only lame as a player inability to attack an AI just because a friendly flag is set and AI can't understand a difference between an honest effort and an exploit of alliance rules by a player, but also are very fuzzy as you have no idea on who should do what what and when. As a player nothing stops me from joining an alliance and do nothing at all, if you were playing with other humans they would see it through, AI will not. You are just enforcing the gap between a player and AI by making a system which is easy for a player to cheat and hard for AI to even notice the cheating.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    23 hours ago, William Blake said:

    Alliance should have FIXED goals and FIXED rewards before a player or an AI commits to it.

    How would they be able to program it so a player could promise an AI something for victory?

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    2 hours ago, Lighthope said:

    How would they be able to program it so a player could promise an AI something for victory?

    I'm glad you asked ) But it will take a bit of explaining case by case

    Case 1: money

    This is pretty easy, you commit money with your offer if AI accepts. Then at the end of the agreed time you check if the goals are complete by AI or not and a player gets a refund. Plain and simple

     

    Case 2: trade

    If you bargain on trade routes or anything like that - it applies at acceptance and gets revoked at the end of the specified time if the goals are not archived. Plain and simple.

     

    Case 3: land

    Now the case of land ownership it gets interesting, always been. In fact it goes beyond just alliances so the system I would do have more complexity but it is quite neat.

    You add new mechanics - Land Claims. Each kingdom has "an opinion"  on who is "rightful owner" of any province. In terms of data structure - each kingdom needs a new map[ProvinceID] = RightfulOwnerID which will hold the opinion of which land should belong to which kingdom.

    If at any moment any CURRENT owner of any province updates his "opinion" on who is the "rightful owner" of a province and it matches the opinion of that rightful owner the province changes hands "by law". Or in other words "kingdom A sets a claim on province P1, kingdom B is an owner of the P1, once B accepts the claim that A is the rightful owner P1 the province ownership is switched to B".

    In context of an alliance or any feudal ladder of "lord/vassal" the claims should be checked for all the alliance members and the ladder. Basically for all the allied parties, if no one has a counter claim on the province, the owner gives it to the "rightful owner".

    Why this system is beautiful:

    • You can have claims as a currency and make a whole lot diplomacy just around "do this and we will accept your claim on that land". Which you can do on lands NONE of you own at the moment
    • It totally solves the problem of alliances when people or AI take wrong provinces at a wrong time and piss everyone else off, if you see the claims you know who wants what
    • It allows war tensions without a war - "kingdom A is now claiming one of our provinces Sire, its a bit troubling"
    • It allows mechanics of hidden tension "yes I can take Normandy from France right now, but England has a claim on it, and if I take it England will push me to accept their claim and turn it over"
    • It is very easy to implement from data structure and logic points, you need a map of int to int by number of kingdoms which is peanuts
    • From UI perspective you need a field on a province view which will give you a list of all kingdoms claiming the province and on a global map you need a switch to view all the provinces claimed currently by a given kingdom

    So going back to original question "how would a player promise something for an AI alliance" it would be "I accept your claim on Normandy the moment you agree with our alliance goals, I will revoke my acceptance of your claim if the alliance goals are not completed at the end of the term". After that if I take Normandy it will go to the AI because I accepted AI claim on it. If AI takes Normandy it will be rightful owner I have no objection. Also IF ANY OTHER AI from our alliance takes Normandy it will go to the AI which had a claim.

    Maybe you would only need an expiration time on each claim so you could not "accept/decline" back and forth someone's claim on a land which is not captured yet.

    Probably you need some kind of limit of open claims per kingdom so you won't just claim whole map all the time, but a few provinces max.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    12 hours ago, William Blake said:

    You add new mechanics - Land Claims. Each kingdom has "an opinion"  on who is "rightful owner" of any province.

    In a game where the goal is conquest of the world, "rightful owner" doesn't have a whole lot of significance.

    But I get your point.  A player (or AI) can put value on a country.  If you offer them that country, the AI would be more willing to accept your alliance.

     

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    "Rightful owner" is only an opinion of 2 kingdoms regarding a province, original claim vs current owner accepting the claim. To make an example from a real world - German and USSR agree to take and divide Poland, Germany claims some parts of Poland, USSR claims other parts of Poland, they agree on how they split the land, war goes on. Poland is defeated, all the land is taken either by Germany or USSR, then they accept each other claims they agreed on and swap parts they took during a war beyond the agreement. Between them everything is "right and legal", yet France and England and everyone else do not accept all this and still support that all of the Poland should be back to what it was.

     

     

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    21 hours ago, William Blake said:

    Between them everything is "right and legal", yet France and England and everyone else do not accept all this and still support that all of the Poland should be back to what it was.

    Again, that really doesn't matter when the ultimate goal is to conquer the world.

    I like your idea, but it goes against the goal of the game.

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