Today's dev diary is one we've been looking forward to for some time, as it covers Diplomatic Plays, which are considered to be more or less the signature feature for Diplomacy in Victoria 3.
So what are Diplomatic Plays? Well, to answer that question, we need to reach all the way back to Dev Diary number 0 and one of the four game-design pillars, namely Diplomatic Eminence. That pillar reads as follows: War is a continuation of diplomacy, and everything that is achievable by war should also be achievable through diplomacy, even if that diplomacy sometimes comes at the point of a gun.
Well, diplomacy at the point of a gun is exactly what Diplomatic Plays are, as they allow you to try to achieve any objective normally achievable by war by diplomatically maneuvering to force the other side to give it to you without a fight.
The way Diplomatic Plays start is the way you would normally start a war in another Paradox Grand Strategy Game - by demanding something from another country, for example, that they cede a particular state to you. In fact, unlike other GSGs, Victoria 3 has no ‘declare war’ button to get what you demand - instead, you start a Diplomatic Play, and wars are always preceded by Diplomatic Plays.
Once a Diplomatic Play is started, there’s a number of things that happen immediately. First, the country that is being targeted is of course notified, along with any countries that are considered Potential Participants in the play. Next, the primary active participants on each side, that is the Initiator and the Target initially, though this can change if the overlord of either side steps into the play, are given a number of Maneuvers. This is a currency that primarily depends on Rank, with higher Rank countries having more maneuvers, and determines how many actions such as Swaying and adding Demands.
All in all, countries will usually wage war without even shedding a drop of blood.