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Agreements and Alliances
You always have the option of going it alone, and never talking to other players. But that's not the way to the biggest victory. In a multiplayer game, players can make many sorts of agreements and alliances. The simplest agreement is the non-aggression pact (NAP). In a NAP, players simply agree not to attack either other, either for a certain length of time or throughout the game.
Other deals can include trade agreements, pacts against common enemies, divisions of territory, and "overlord" systems where a strong player receives tribute . . . Gift Fleets from players who benefit from the overlord's protection (or just don't want the overlord to crush them).
It's always good to talk to your neighbors. Use UltraMail to contact a neighbor or two - or all of them - with an introductory message. Take note of who responds. If you like one player's style, why not suggest an alliance? After all, you can't fight everyone at once. And if another player sends an arrogant reply, now you've got a reason to fight, in character!
If you're an experienced player, you may want to play "patron" to newbies in your area. Sure, you could crush them with your superior skills . . . but if you find them likeable and willing to listen, why not offer them help and advice? You may find that you've created a reliable guardian for your empire's border, and a good friend for later games.
If you have an alliance, or simply a friendly group, of several players, you can talk in the forum. Over time, you may find that your group is forming strong bonds.
No matter how they form, alliances can be powerful tools. By working with other players, you can avoid unnecessary battles (saving strength for the necessary ones!), secure more worlds, have more resources at your disposal, and get aid in times of trouble.
An example: A new player joining the game sees that he is flanked by three other players. He sends UltraMail to each of them. Two respond . . . and both warn him that the third neighbor is very aggressive and has a history of attacking without negotiating. They decide to join forces . . . and together, they crush the tyrant. The remaining players each gain a few more planets and rid their sector of an intimidating force.
Some alliances continue between games. These are called "clans," and they can be good or bad for the individual members, and good or bad for the whole game. See the Social Rules for more discussion.
Note: Alliances are a player-maintained system. There is no way to enforce any agreement other than the strength and persuasiveness that you and your friends can bring to bear. Some "allies" are treacherous, awaiting only the right moment to stab you in the back . . . and some enemies will be honest and honorable and keep their word. Try to read other players' motives carefully!