If you often wonder why AI would “almost” sell you a tech for 500g but would “never” do so if you add 1gpt, you should read on. In my opinion, this is one of the most important game mechanisms that you have to know to play this game at the higher levels.
Note, this article describes what I think the game mechanism is from my experience in playing various games and incomplete testing. There are certain things that I haven’t specifically tested but believed thus it is possible that some of them are completely or partially wrong. Feel free to correct me if you find any mistakes.
What is trading reputation?
First let’s define “gpt deal”. As far as trading reputation is concerned, “gpt deal” isn’t an accurate name as you could risk trashing your reputation even if you are not paying gold-per-turn. A more accurate name is “rep-risky deal”. A deal is rep-risky if any of the following is true:
- You pay per-turn (resources, gpt, RoP) goods for hard goods (techs or lump sum gold) from the AI.
- You export resources to the AI (even if the AI only pays per-turn goods)
- MA/MPP is involved.
But unless explicitly stated, we’ll use the more common term “gpt deal” in this article to refer to rep-risky deals.
Trading reputation decides whether AI is willing to make gpt deal with you. It has the following characteristics:
- Your reputation starts with clean.
- Each AI has a record of your reputation separately.
- An AI views your rep as “trashed” if any of the following is true
- You had a gpt deal with this AI before which got terminated prematurely for certain reasons (see the next section).
- The AI knows or knew another AI with whom you had a broken gpt deal, and those two AI are NOT currently at war (that AI who you betrayed might have been destroyed). This is similar to what your foreign advisor says about “xxx is a known liar and betrayed our friend yyy”.
- Once an AI thinks you have a trashed rep, it would be less willing to or never make any gpt deals with you anymore. Note the “less willing to”. Although your rep is shot, you could still possibly make gpt deal but would have to pay a lot more. I think it depends on how big gpt payment you avoided in the broken deal. Practically, once you break a gpt deal you’ll never be able to make such deal again.
How do you have a broken deal
Your gpt deal could get broken and trash your reputation if any of the following things happens before the 20-turn deal ends:
- You declare war on that AI (including MA/MPP).
- You are exporting resources and could no longer do so for the following reasons:
- the resources are lost, depleted or disconnected.
- the trade route between you and the AI is cut (AI capital isolated, harbor is destroyed, the AI through which the route goes declares war on you or the other AI, etc).
- You break an MA or MPP.
Cases that do not trash your rep
There are certain cases that a prematurely terminated gpt deal does not affect your rep.
1. The AI declares war on you
Of course you get no rep hit if the payee decides to end the deal by itself. It’s often (ab)used by players to avoid huge gpt payment by deliberately tricking the AI to declare, such as asking the AI units to leave our territory. The key is to make sure the AI would declare (decided by relative power and its attitude), and that you could defend your territory until you could make peace.
2. The deal involves an MA and the target AI is destroyed
If you have a gpt deal with A in which you have MA against B. If B is destroyed before the 20-turn period expires, the deal ends immediately but your rep isn’t affected. It’s often (ab)used by players to sign an MA when the target AI is about to die, and get money back as soon as the AI is destroyed.
3. The AI you are paying gpt is destroyed
It doesn’t include the case if you are paying resources.
4. The deal involves AI exporting resources but not you, and the AI cannot export resources anymore (pillaged or trade route is cut).
For example, if you have 120gpt for saltpeter+ToG from an AI, and the AI’s saltpeter is pillaged, the trade ends and you get no rep hit, because it’s the AI who cannot execute the trade, not you. It could also be used as exploit as you can disconnect your own capital and stop the gpt payment. The only thing you need is to include AI resources in the deal.
5. The deal involves both AI and you exporting resources, and the AI’s resource is cut but trade route is fine.
I have not thoroughly tested this. I tried cutting my own capital off and it gave a rep hit, but not sure what happens if cutting AI capital off.
What to do if your rep is trashed?
Sometimes it’s just unexpected or unfortunate that your rep is trashed even if that’s not your intention, but don’t panic, you can still do gpt deals with a trashed rep.
1. renegotiate peace treaty
If you can renegotiate peace treaty with an AI, you can include a gpt deal and AI would accept (probably with a bit premium for the peace treaty itself).
If you broke a deal with A, and want to make gpt deal with B, you could MA with B against A and B will forgive your betrayal to A.
RoP reputation is a related topic but quite independent of trading reputation. It decides if AI is willing to sign RoP with you. Your RoP rep is trashed if you declare war on the AI while you have any units with attack/defense value (including boats) inside AI territory, regardless of whether you actually have RoP deal with the AI. Trading and RoP reputation is maintained separately and does not affect each other.
Peace treaty reputation
Well, there is no such a thing. It means if you sign or renew a peace treaty and declare within 20 turns, you do not incur a rep hit, unless by doing so you break a gpt deal (within the same peace treaty or not).
So you could attack an AI, sign peace and get several cities, and break it immediately without a rep hit. However, many consider it an exploit.
Last just to point out a common misunderstanding. Trading reputation has nothing to do with AI attitude. “AI being furious with me” says something about its attitude, but it would possibly still happily trade with you.