Diplomatic Visibility and Gossip are closely related mechanics introduced in Civilization VI. Unlike prior games, which provided automatic feedback on important happenings in other civilizations, this intel must now be acquired through the Diplomatic Visibility and Gossip system.
In short, Diplomatic Visibility reflects the level of intelligence you can gather about other leaders' agendas, their military plans, and landmark achievements, while Gossip is the news and messages you receive whenever there are remarkable events occurring in other empires.
Diplomatic Visibility, or "Access level", is a new mechanic in Civilization VI and represents the amount of intel you can receive about the actions of another civilization and the character of their leader. There are several levels of visibility. At the first level (None) you know very little about them; you don't know their agendas or even what influences your relationship. At higher levels of Visibility, you receive frequent updates about what they do. The "Access level" panel in the Diplomacy screen of a leader shows the following information:
- Your current level of visibility (None, Limited, Open, Secret or Top Secret).
- A list of the factors that contribute to the level of Visibility you have of that leader, like trade routes established or embassies.
- The kind of information you receive at this level.
- What you may expect to see in the next level of visibility.
The maximum Visibility level available in the Ancient and Classical Eras is 'Open'. The maximum level possible in the Medieval Era is 'Secret', which can be achieved by making an Alliance with the other party. In the Renaissance Era all the levels become available once the Printing technology is researched.
This table lists the information provided at each level of access:
Gossip items are represented as coming from a source which more or less matches what provides your current Access level to the nation. For example, if you only have a Trade Route with them, the gossips will start with 'Our traders heard that...'; while if you have an Alliance the gossip will start with 'An allied friend tells us that...'.
Diplomatic Visibility is mostly independent of your relationship with a leader. Having a Delegation or Embassy improves relationships a bit, and having a very good relationship is required to create an Alliance. Other than that, Visibility and relationship are not connected. In practice, however, it is very difficult to have high visibility on a nation whose leader is hostile to you, especially in the beginning of the game (when you haven't researched Printing, have no Spies to establish Listening posts and may be unable to even reach the other civilization with your Traders). Unless you've tricked the other leader to let you send them a Delegation, you will then have an Access level of None. Later in the game, you may get up to three factors improving Visibility, even without an Embassy; that is the Printing tech, a Trade Route and possibly a Spy establishing a Listening post. Even if you are at war with a civilization, two of these are still accessible (Trade routes become too risky so this factor is out).
Diplomatic Visibility has military implications. If you attack a civilization your levels of Diplomatic Visibility will be compared, and the party which has a higher level will receive a permanent bonus in every military encounter - this is known as 'Intel on enemy movements' and consists of +3 Combat Strength per level of difference, leading to the maximum bonus of 12 Combat Strength (happening when one civilization has access level of None and the other Top Secret on one another). This is even more important if you play as Mongolia, since they can double this bonus (24 Combat Strength maximum). If both parties have the same level of visibility, neither one receives the bonus. This bonus is also active during theological combat.
Diplomatic Visibility allows you to receive Gossip, information about another player's actions. You gain more detailed Gossip based on your level of visibility, of which there are 5 levels: None, Limited, Open, Secret, and Top Secret. For example, when you have just met a civilization, you will receive information about their declarations of war, denouncements, friendships, alliances, and when they do something like found a Pantheon or complete a wonder. If you gain Limited Diplomatic Visibility, you will find out some information about their opinion of you and what government they have. At the Open level, you will have access to that civilization's diplomatic agendas, their relationships with other civilizations, and know when they have launched an inquisition.
Improving Diplomatic Visibility
You must accumulate Diplomatic Visibility levels individually for each civilization. You will receive a combat bonus for having a higher level of visibility on your opponent than they have back on you. Levels may be gained by accumulating various sources of Gossip, including:
- Traders. Establish a Trade Route to a civilization to increase visibility by one level.
- Sending a Delegation. Send a Delegation to a civilization to increase visibility by one level. Once Embassies are available, establishing an Embassy will replace this.
- Sending a Spy on a Listening Post Mission. Performing the Listening Post mission in another civilization's city increases visibility by one level.
- Forming an Alliance. Alternatively to spying, you can form an alliance with a friendly civilization. These two actions do not add separate Diplomatic Visibility levels, as you cannot spy on your Allies.
- Researching the Printing technology. This will increase your visibility with all civilizations by one level.
- Playing as (Black Queen) Catherine de Medici. She gives France one level of access above normal at all times with civilizations she has met.
- Activating the Great Merchant Mary Katherine Goddard. This will increase your visibility with all civilizations by one level.
- Playing as Mongolia and establishing a Trading Post in another civilization's city. This increases visibility by one level.