Most people do not role play, or take the time to write out long diplomatic messages. Some players won’t even take the time to send any messages to anyone. This is a mistake. Take the following situation.
You are suddenly attacked by two of your neighbors, who up till that moment have been silent toward you. One of them sends you a “Hey man sorry but we gotta attack someone, message.” Who are you going to defend against harder? They guy who said nothing, or the guy who sent you a message? What if that message were polite, sympathetic, or insightful? Suddenly, Mr. Silent attacker may be facing all your defensive stacks, while chatty Kathy takes your abandoned home world because he communicated, or was polite.
Here is another example.
A player on your border begins to build up for an attack, stacking up units, with a carrier with 1 ship returning into his interior for more. This is generally a bad sign. You start a diplomatic conversation, maybe offer him a preview of what will happen, speculate about negative consequences if he attacks, maybe an ally of his will back stab him. Blow sunshine up his skirt by giving him false information, or even real information, maybe you see a neighbor building up for an attack against him…why not tell him. Make a prediction, by the time this fight is over, you will have lost 500 ships, or half your fleet, and still won’t have gained anything…become my ally instead, we can take over this guy instead.
Here is a real life example.
I accidently order an attack against my neighbor’s colony, say testing the range of an attack but then don’t cancel the attack like I thought I did. Somewhere in the 18 hour journey, I notice I’ve 98 ships bearing down on his colony garrison of 28. “Arg” I think to myself, then immediately send a moderately sized wordy apology, maybe with a nice turn of phrase or two. I say I’m immediately retreating once my strike lands, and I’ll abandon the colony the moment I retreat out of it. Most players would stop there, I offer him the “compensation of his choice” (because I want to avoid a fight, he’s 3 times stronger then me), maybe $ or a level of terraforming he doesn’t have. He thinks my gesture is so “noble” that he allies with me the rest of the game, eventually I loose, but so what. I turned a potential disaster into a minor victory, all through a little diplomacy, and a sprinkling of creativity.
NP2 I would say is about minimizing your mistakes, and maximizing your opportunities. Wargamer’s primarily play I think by attempting to avoid horrific blunders, no one needs a Stalingrad level fiasco, like loosing half your space fleet to an ill timed attack against someone’s home world. If you have no opportunities, then make some. Contact that player 3 empires away, and chat him up. Share rumors, maybe ask about what his alliance is doing. Information is useful, and I think most players don’t value it sufficiently.