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Love the game! Some suggestions for the future...


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Posted (edited)

First of all, I'd like to congratulate the developers for designing such a fine game. Excellent mechanics, elegant design, great music… All in all, a very fun and addictive game. I left my enthusiastic recommendation and general observations on my Steam review:

Steam Review

I'd like to suggest a few points on where you could upgrade and build upon the game. If time allows, I intend to update the thread with any new ideas that come up. I'd be quite glad if some designer read this (as well as the linked review). Hopefully an idea or two will be of help for future development.

Bugs and Fixes:

In general, the game is stable and free of bugs. But some small tweaks could help:

  • The Steam distribution has a very blurry desktop icon. A minor detail maybe, but it is quite jarring.
  • Tutorial tips are reset each time you load, so you always get the same messages. The game, of course, should keep track of already-displayed tutorial messages and don't repeat them (unless the player resets them on the Options Menu).
  • Texts are quite clean and free of typos, but some name lists could use a check-up. For instance, for Spanish nobles (unless I'm missing something):
    • Vasco instead of Vaasko.
    • Blanca instead of Blanka.

General Changes and Tweaks:

  • More granular notification control is required (e.g. currently it's not possible to turn off only the "You have won the support of a Great Power" message). Ideally you should add a "Detailed Notification Control" button with a list of all possible notifications accompanied with "Text" and "Voice" icons that you could turn on/off individually.
  • Allow rotation of tactical battle view using mouse (for instance, hold middle button and move mouse).
  • Add an option to have thinner arrow trails on Tactical Battles.
  • Allow slightly more maximum zoom on Tactical Battles.
  • Add an Option to disable/enable victory modes for Tactical Battles (i.e. Control Point Victory - substituted with morale bonus for holding positions, Leader Kill - substituted by morale hit if leader is killed).
  • Voice acting: the narrator and overall English voice acting are simply great. However, for some characters there's some grating voice acting (some with too much affectation, some seem to be joking at the expense of the game/player). Not easily/cheaply fixable, but adding more variety in voices would help.
  • Option at game creation to have "historically inspired" resources (in fixed positions - see below).

Mechanics - Building:

Note that this is in part due to my inexperience in this aspect of the game (consider this point "under construction"), but one area where I feel improvements are warranted is on the building side. My observations:

  • While province development is generally interesting, the shared upgrades, expensive prices and mostly randomized resources and features, make province uniqueness suffer a bit.
  • Specialized provinces don't seem to appear until late in the game (since you need quite a lot of expensive building slots to define a true specialization).
  • Newly acquired (by conquest or otherwise) towns are highly developed by the AI, giving less flexibility to the player. Not a problem as such, but may compound other issues.
  • It all adds up to a feeling of inflexibility in development.

I need to think on this with more depth, but some pointers that may add fun to the building aspect:

  • An option at game creation to have "historically inspired" resources in fixed positions would help to add flavor to the map, and relevance to specific provinces/areas.
  • Some pre-built and purchasable buildings tied to specific provinces (say, if I try to build a University in Salamanca I get, appropriately enough, the "University of Salamanca", with extra bonuses). You already got some similar things, such as the pirate buildings in the Barbary Coast.
  • New Knight Actions and Opportunities relevant to the class and related to the governor status of your knights (e.g. Merchant state Action to boost gold per good on governed city, Marshal Opportunity to add levies to governed city).
  • In general, additional actions (including knight Actions and Opportunities) related to province management are welcome. For instance, a (recurring) opportunity for Merchants related to Trade Centers (even ungoverned ones), an opportunity for Marshals to add regional units to a specific city recruitment pool, etc.

Mechanics - Noble Classes:

  • As mentioned on the review, one aspect of improvement is the distinctiveness and personality of the nobles in the court. Currently they're mostly cyphers, distinguished only by their skills (which the player has the chance to steer to a given template). The ideal way to improve this would be having Character Traits, that is, bonuses/maluses to particular actions and/or skills, acquired at birth or in specific circumstances. The more distinctive and impactful (and perhaps, humorous), the better. Note that in this system, skills "supercharged" by a character trait (if any) should be selectable always (as occurs with Tradition skills). For example:
    • Wanderer (Merchant): more frequent expedition opportunities, less frequent opportunities of a different kind.
    • Manipulator (Spy): can't initiate assassination actions, increased Success Chance for other actions.
    • Born Hunter (Spy): extra Success Chance for assassination actions, extra Reveal Chance for other actions.
    • Harsh (Marshal): initiates region pacification immediately after conquest, increased pacification success chance.
    • Honorable (Marshal): actions on enemy kingdom have reduced relations impact, improves success chance for peace negotiations, automatically releases all prisoners.
    • Charismatic (Marshal): when on an enemy province, there's a chance a Loyalist Rebellion will appear.
    • Zealous (Cleric): will initiate a conversion action on its own (free of cost), abandoning the active standard action in the process (he will not abandon opportunities).
    • Power Hungry (Cleric): increased chance to be selected as a Pope.
    • Strategist (Diplomat): offensive pacts initiated by the diplomat grant involved armies additional morale against the designated enemy.
    • Opportunistic (Diplomat): slower relations gain for Improve Relationship action, more frequent opportunities on assignment.
  • An additional twist is that there should be specific traits on princesses, which would affect the husband (even on a foreign court). Some examples:
    •  Shrewd: (Merchant King) additional gold per trade good, (Spy King) -10% Discovery Chance, (Diplomat King) +10 Fame, (Cleric King) +10% Success Chance, higher probability to be chosen as Cardinal / Pope. Periodic chance to lose Peasantry Opinion.
    • Nagging: King gets more frequent opportunities at -5% Success Chance.

In addition, the classes themselves should get a review so that they all offer varied, fun options to the player at each junction. In detail:

  • Diplomats: diplomats can be a bit boring compared to their peers, as they don't get many dynamic opportunities nor emergent actions. They are useful, but need some flexibility. Some ideas (that also would work as standalone mechanics - read below):
    • Quid-pro-quo Negotiation (Action): initiated by a diplomatic assigned to a foreign court (could also be a standalone Audience proposal), it would allow free-form exchange of assets between kingdoms (e.g. a Province for a Province, Gold for a Royal Marriage, etc.).
    • Unify Kingdoms (Action or Opportunity): initiated by a diplomatic assigned to a foreign court. Requirements: a lot of gold, friendly relations, cultural influence on provinces, relative size of absorbed kingdom 50% or less than your own, Royal Marriage resulting in a Queen in foreign kingdom, high Nobility Opinion. If successful, you get the option to rename your kingdom by hyphenation (see "Castile-Leon"), incorporate the provinces, and the two top foreign nobles go into your court (as "Important Relatives" if the slots are free). May result in a rebellion in the targeted country or your own (depending on the Nobility Opinion and Crown Authority of each kingdom). On failure, your own Nobility Opinion and Crown Authority take a hit, and you can't initiate the proposal again without a different Queen on the foreign court.
    • Encourage Friendship (Opportunity): a deployed diplomat may get an opportunity to improve the relationship of the foreign kingdom with another one towards which you have decent relations.
    • Caution Foreign Kingdom (Opportunity): a deployed diplomat may get an opportunity to worsen the relationship of the foreign kingdom with another one towards which you have poor relations or are in a state of war.
    • Encourage Peace (Opportunity): a deployed diplomat may get an opportunity to settle a peace between the foreign kingdom and another one it's at war with.
    • Demand Peace with Vassal: a diplomat may get the opportunity to settle a peace between an aggressor kingdom and one of your Vassals.
  •  Spies: the espionage system is excellent, and the opportunities are well designed in both requirements, prices and frequency of activation. That said, you could take a look at the standard actions:
    • Sow Dissent: this action is too slow to be worthwhile, particularly since you need to interrupt it frequently to take advantage of opportunities. You could make it a bit more effective (potential for several points of opinion loss, higher frequency, etc.), or alternatively allow having simultaneous actions (i.e. you can activate opportunity actions without interrupting it).
    • Ruin Relations: similar to the above skill, though this seems a bit more effective but less generally useful (it's more situational). A similar approach could help (increased effectiveness or allow simultaneous opportunity actions).
  •  Merchants: very useful, and less "boring" than diplomats, they still could use more opportunities and actions to spice the game. For example:
    • Search for an Advantage: this action has the merchant look for a trade deal delivering a good required for a specified advantage. This trade deal is not tied to a specific kingdom (e.g. "from a distant caravan", "smugglers", "maritime traders").
    • Replenish Stores: the merchant relieves a town under siege by arranging a covert transfer of supplies (see Castle section below).
  •  Clerics: a very useful class, they are always busy with some rather important actions and opportunities. But as always, more varied opportunities improve the decision-making aspect. For example:
    • Pledge Support to Crusade (Opportunity - Catholic kingdom only): this opportunity lets any country pledge a Marshal and his army to the next Crusade. When the Crusade is declared, you'll get a message asking to confirm your pledge. A denial will give a hit in relations with the Papal States and Cleric Opinion, affirmation will grant you improved relations and opinion, and have your army take the cross (which will make it immune to supply loss and relationship penalties by passage) and automatically follow the main Crusader Army to their first battle. Afterwards, you can control the army yourself and redirect it (including conquering territories for your kingdom), but if you get too far from the crusaders or attack kingdoms friendly with the Papal States, you'll get chided by the Pope and your army will revert to a regular one, with a big relations/opinion penalty.
  • Marshals: they are a key component of the game. The only problem is that the limited number usually prevents the use of more specialized approaches (e.g. to have a specialized cavalry Marshal you'd need at least one other Marshal with a regular army, and you only have 9 nobles). To improve the situation, I'd reinforce the impact of skills and add more variety of skills so that you have more of a need to tailor your general to your army (or vice versa).

Mechanics - Other:

  • (Not) Casus belli: while some games have a detailed Casus Belli system, this game is well served by what it has. However, some scenarios where rival kingdoms conduct hostile non-military actions should grant an opportunity to the player (e.g. via notification) to declare war with minimal relationship/reputation impact.
  • On the same vein, being on the receiving end of some actions should grant you a special diplomatic interaction (e.g. via notification or Audience). For example, if a Witch Hunt discovers a Spy from a foreign kingdom, you should be able to have a specific diplomatic interaction sternly admonishing them for it (and maybe getting a mechanical effect - e.g. being bribed to "look the other way", causing a relationship loss of the spy monger with friendly kingdoms, etc.).
  • Castles: currently, castles don't feel like a significant factor in combat or province resilience. Some changes you could consider to improve this:
    • Castles get independent levy/food storage that gets added to the capital on the event of a siege.
    • Armies can enter and resupply/replenish units in a Castle. The resources to do so are: total province levy/food if the capital is in your hands, Castle levy/food (with an extra factor) if it's in enemy hands.
    • Provinces with (unconquered) Castles get extra siege resilience.
    • Provinces with (unconquered) Castles get the new "Replenish Stores" (Merchant) and "Reinforce Defenders" (Marshal) opportunities.
  • Vassals: currently, vassalization feels a bit limited. It's appropriate for the period that vassals have independent behavior and attitudes, but the game should be more reactive to this relationship, tenuous as it may be. Some changes in this direction:
    • Vassals should help with wars (the whole point of a vassal). On war initiation, you should get a notification related to your vassal, either a pledge of support, or a suspicious silence. If you get the second, you can start an Audience and demand their support in money or troops (they don't have to accept).
    • Kingdoms declaring war to them should ask the Suzerain first if on good relations (if not, a notification that they skipped that and attacked anyway should appear for the Suzerain).
    • Vassals on good relations (and without second intentions towards) the Suzerain, should ask it before initiating war with a third party.
    • The Suzerain should get a notification when a Vassal initiates a war, and should get an Audience option to pressure them for peace.
  • Unit variety as a whole is Ok, but since most armies on the early-mid game have a low technology level, you usually see mostly peasants for quite a while. Some ways to ameliorate this (credit to "zolobolo" from the Steam forums):
    • Unique starting units. Not only unique, but available with low tech (for instance, at "Militia" Level).
    • Some diplomatic arrangement that lets you hire unique troops from a friendly kingdom (Audience - Allow recruitment of foreign soldiers).
    • Perhaps some pricing adjustments could help to ease the transition from militia to professional armies (need to think on this).
  • As mentioned on the diplomat section, there are some diplomatic operations that feel missing from the game, because of their historical and gameplay relevance:
    • Quid pro quo negotiation: allows free-form exchange of assets between kingdoms (e.g. a Province for a Province, Gold for a Royal Marriage, etc.).
    • Kingdom Integration: In the period depicted, a lot of the kingdom consolidation and growth was due to negotiations and dynastic arrangements. For instance, when playing as an Iberian kingdom, if I want to, for instance, join Castile and Leon into Castile-Leon, or join Castile-Leon and Aragon into Spain proper (both of which were the result of peaceful family arrangements), I can acquire the provinces by war, hope for lucky wedding claims or use subterfuge (and in the case of Castile-Leon, imagine the name change). It would be great that the game mechanics more fully incorporated the historical custom, for instance, with a diplomat action (see "Unify Kingdoms" above), even if it's difficult and costly.
  • "More tactical" Tactical battles: I'm not that experienced with the Tactical Battle aspect of the game, but from what I saw there's a nice tactical focus where morale and positioning is of great importance. In particular, there's a bit of the magic from the classic Total War games. I encourage to develop the system on a "simulationist-light" direction, which I much appreciated from the old TW (e.g. effects of maneuvers on instant morale - panic attacks, charge mechanics, limited munition / munition management, impact of facings and formations, etc.). Some pointers:
    • I feel that the Tactical Battle mode could use a tutorial mission, or simply more guides and tutorial messages.
    • Add a button to hold a whole arrangement of troops and move it and rotate it (I think there's a button to keep the current arrangement, but not one where you can modify the facing on arrival).
    • The grouping hotkeys feel strangely unresponsive (selecting units and trying to add them to a group number, sometimes seems to not respond as expected).
    • Show a clearer representation of selected unit cards and grouping (via highlights, colored frames, etc.). Sometimes it's hard to know what's selected, what's grouped and so on.
    • Control Point victory and instant defeat on leader's death feels a bit too "gamey" for me. A suggestion to make them optional is delineated above.

Future Developments / New Mechanics:

The game has very tight and controlled systems, almost as a board game. While the end result is great, I think that the game would benefit from more complex and optional mechanics to engage in as long as it retains the game style: the core snappy and intuitive, but the more you dig, the more you're surprised by the depth of what you find.

Some over-ambitious examples for future developments below:

  • Antipope shenanigans: kingdoms fighting, kidnapping or otherwise cajoling the papacy where a highlight of the period, in particular when this resulted in parallel claims to St. Peter's throne. You got quite a few devious mechanics associated with the Pope already, but the possibility of claiming a Pope for your own, and then voluntarily or involuntarily moving the See to your kingdom, would be a great choice. This of course, accompanied by a legitimist claim making your cleric and Antipope. An Antipope would bring a new diplomatic layer, forcing countries (including your own, when not the instigator of the schism) into blocks of supporters/deniers of the Antipope's claim. Also it would bring a lot of Spy/diplomatic opportunities/intrigues (Assassinate the Antipope, Kidnap Pope - creates Antipope, Persuade to Abandon Papacy Claim - diplomatic measure, etc.).
  • Another historical fact that could bring interesting mechanics are Local Charters and the conflicts with local nobility and burgsmen. This can be implemented with several concurrent mechanics, for example:
    • A prosperous Trade Center and/or Famous town can request the Crown for a Privilege or Charter from the King. Different charter models would have different pros and cons. Some chartered towns, for instance, could generate claims to independence / rebellions on succession, but grant a substantial trade good bonus or automatically import a good.
    • If you produce a good, you may get a request to grant a Privilege or Charter to the trader interests for that good (in essence, a monopoly). Again, this would bring pros and cons related to the good. Ideally, the charters would favor historically relevant ones (e.g. Wool in Castile, Amber in Baltic States, etc.) and have historically relevant effects. Alternatively, you can make it systems driven (if you have the good, you can have the monopoly), which is less fun. Or a combination of both (some are historical, others are emergent).
  • Regent Queens: the abstracted royal family model is nice, particularly for the period. But, especially at the tail end of it, some Queens played a huge role, causing a stir in succession mechanics, administration, etc. It would be nice to have some not-so-common situations where you could end up with a Queen Regent that would be elevated to regular character. The problem is this would open a whole can of worms in the succession mechanics of the game (as it did in real life, by the way), so maybe not such a good idea... Anyway, some possible ways to approach this:
    • If you get a situation where your successor is a child, or there are only princesses on the line, on succession you could get a notification making the Queen the regent.
    • This would cause a big instant hit in Crown authority (recoverable).
    • The Queen character could get extra stars to bring it to the level of a regular king.
    • On diplomacy, countries would comment (mostly flavor text) but it'd mostly be business as usual (as historically). The exception being, the perceived succession weakness would be considered by the AI in deciding to attack.
    • If married to a local knight, you get a notification to decide if the queen remains as regent (may provoke a rebellion) or he's to be ascended to King (the Queen would return to be a regular female character).
    • If married to a foreign character, the foreign kingdom may push a Claim on your territories.

If you've accompanied me so far, I salute you! I hope you enjoyed reading the wall of text and got at least some fun and a couple of decent ideas from it.

               

Edited by Alfonso XIII
Added tag, trying to fix hyperlink
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

I can't manage to edit my post now (where has the "Edit" button gone?), so I'll add some additional observations:

  • As noted on the Steam forums, the game has the virtue of being quite relaxing, despite the theme. The music, narrator and graphical style contribute to this. This is a great virtue for a game the genre.

Bug and Fixes:

  • On some conditions, the shield icons representing the kingdoms in the interface become very blurry. A reload doesn't fix this, but a game restart does. The problem is both frequent and erratic and I haven't been able to narrow it down to a particular event. Perhaps alt-tabbing is involved. Also, this seems to happen somewhat less with full-screen mode (but maybe this is a placebo).

Mechanics - Building:

  • New sources of "vertical" development for towns would be very welcome. For example:
    • Province capitals fulfilling certain requirements (having "Famous" or "Trade Center" status, being upgraded and producing "X" gold/workers/levy, etc.) could be converted into "Cities of Renown" (working title) and have more building slots open for them, unique buildings, among other bonuses.
    • A secondary town in the province might develop (again, when fulfilling certain requirements), which would open a mini-town interface with its own building slots and town features (more limited than the capital, say 4 and 6 respectively).

Mechanics - Noble Classes:

  • Lack of aging for knights is a pet peeve of mine. With such a focus on the "Knights of Honor", this sticks like a sore thumb and breaks the illusion of reality (see also, lack of distinctive personality traits). I understand that all characters aging was tested and found "not that fun", however, I think that mechanics adjustments (e.g. somewhat slower aging with more death sources besides it, retainer/squire characters smoothing out character transitions, adjustments in books and skill acquisition rates, etc.) would make this both feasible and fun.

Mechanics - Other:

  • Currently, advantages and the commercial victory, as stated in the game library, are more a recognition of advancement (mainly, of having many provinces and upgrades), than a progression path itself. I recommend switching this a bit and adding alternative methods for small/medium kingdoms to pursue advantages (sources of goods), and even a commercial victory. For instance:
    • Merchant characters imports having cheaper upkeep.
    • The "Search for an Advantage" Merchant skill proposed elsewhere.
    • Emergent "Trade Routes" for high value goods. Say the Golden Horde produces spices, and France (now a Great Power) does not. An event would  randomly trigger (simulated for AI, of course) for Merchant nobles on all countries in the path. This would grant money and the good itself, at a cost of commerce units. Destruction of the origin/destination kingdoms would break the route and benefits. Note that diplomats on a mission in a rare good's producer could get an option to propose initiation of the route (if Great Power, as the destination, or else, as a middleman for a route towards a Great Power).
  • Global/Local events related to emergent states in the game, recognizing historical analogues and granting one-time or permanent effects to affected kingdoms. Some of the simplest ones, as an example:
    • Reconquista: occurs when all provinces in the Iberian Peninsula are owned by Catholic Kingdoms. Grants a bonus to all Catholic Kingdoms.
    • Jerusalem Regained: grants a bonus for Kingdoms sharing religion with the city's conqueror.
    • Jerusalem Lost: grants a disadvantage for Kingdoms sharing religion with the city's previous owner.
    • Mecca Lost: grants a "malus" to Muslims, calls a Jihad against conqueror.
    • The One Successor: occurs when there's a single caliphate and grants a bonus to Muslim kingdoms.
  • More emergent problems. For example:
    • Plagues. A global event where everyone is notified. Affected provinces (usually larger ones, and on larger empires) take a lasting hit in workers, food production, morale, etc. Also heavily affected kingdoms take hits in stability and opinions. Their propagation to vulnerable neighboring provinces could be tracked with the Political Map. Some traditions (e.g. Medicine) and buildings may confer resistance or vulnerability to them. In addition, certain character skills (e.g. Medicine, Learning) and buildings/upgrades could generate actions to avoid them or diminish their impact. In any case, they eventually would run their course.
    • Earthquakes: a province-level event that could destroy buildings and kill workers, while possibly affecting opinions (God's punishment!).
  • More "serendipitous events" in general. For instance:
    • A charismatic preacher appears in a province, and you may shun or tolerate him. This can generate further chained events. E.g.: Pope asks to rebuke/imprison saint, if you comply you can get a rebellion, if not you may get lower relations and heresy on the province, alternatively a Diplomat noble can try to persuade the Pope to tolerate his doctrine, etc.
  • A mechanic for relics and pilgrimages on Christian Kingdoms. Relics could be gained by certain provinces (randomly, historically or through governor Cleric events). They would be treated as province features, opening unique buildings, generating fame and the potential to unlock "Pilgrimage Center" status. Towns with this status could generate pilgrimage routes with other kingdoms (initiated by a diplomatic request or Cleric action), granting a gold income. The loss of a relic (through conquest or spy actions) would cause stability and Clergy Opinion penalties.
  • More mechanics for internal dissension and problems related to scale, as a way to slow down and spice up the game for large, powerful empires. More on that if I get some time...
Edited by Alfonso XIII
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  • 2 weeks later...

Not that anyone is reading this, but for my own reference:

Bug and Fixes:

  • IMPORTANT: it appears that when starting a Tactical Battle, you can get periodic slowdowns (hiccups of 3+ seconds where you can't do anything). The worst thing is, once you exit the Tactical Battle, the hiccups carry over to the regular strategic view! This has been greatly hampering my enjoyment ever since I've been trying to fight more manual battles.

General:

  • While the game manages to capture the "flavor" of the age quite well, I feel it would benefit from closer attention to history, both in inspiring its systems, and in the art design / writing department. For instance: 
    • Anachronistic or just plain wrong (TM) details can be disproportionately grating and are "easily" fixed. For instance, Byzantine/Roman infantry clearly inspired by Empire era legionaries, Germany as a distinct entity named just so (I guess it's OK as a kingdom unification goal, if you want to keep it), and so on.
    • Some elements (voice-overs, icons, etc.) and mechanics are too similar across different religions.
    • The role of culture and religion on diplomacy and relations could be highlighted, even if only for flavor text (however, I like that you have frequent alliances and collaboration across these lines, as well as horrible backstabbing and aggression within, which I consider truer to history).
    • Other historically-inspired events and mechanics as mentioned elsewhere.

Mechanics - Other:

  • DO NOT change Crusades. While requests are usually to change things, I'll make one exception here since a few players have requested mayor changes to Crusades but I feel they are a great, fun mechanic that I'd love to keep as it currently is (or improved along the same lines). Crusades now are ambiguous (can be a blessing and a curse to the selected Kingdom), can redraw the political landscape at all stages (but not necessarily so!), are a challenge to the receiving end, invite a lot of interesting diplomatic/espionage intrigues, and give a lot of personality to the world in general (and the Papacy and Catholic playthroughs in particular).
  • "Trends" or "fashions" in trade goods. This would be a global effect granting extra rewards (e.g. extra gold, diplomatic influence, etc.) to kingdoms holding ONE specific, rare good. The base effect would be (lightly) scaled with the amount of production buildings related to the good (and their holding town's trade output). Merchants could get random Actions to try to trigger a new "trend" for a selected good (whose success rate would depend on factors such as cultural influence and commercial output of the Kingdom), which if successful, would substitute the current fashionable good with a new one.

Tactical Battles:

  • Archers can "kite" infantry quite effectively, which of course is not, and shouldn't be, a real tactic. I'm not sure of the current stamina mechanics, but I believe they could be tweaked to solve the issue.
  • Maybe this is already in, but I'd like to have a way to trace a path for units/groups to follow while keeping formation.
  • Also, it'd be good to have a way to lock the display of unit destination markers (currently it's done by holding "Q", if I'm correct).
  • I'm not sure how to lock a formation for a group of units, even with "H", but maybe it's me. To reliably keep formation I have to use Ctrl+Click, but I can mess up if I miss a Ctrl once. If there's NOT a reliable formation lock already, please implement it. If there is, I'd appreciate some pointers!
  • Are there height mechanics on Tactical Battles? If there are, they should get a tutorial prompt. If not, they should get implemented (e.g. stamina loss and lower movement speed for units going uphill).
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  • 4 weeks later...

Lovely suggestions, I would really like most of these to be added. Devs should consider your suggestions.

I think there should also be an option to create a vassal if you took a lot of someones territory. Or for example if you are Germany and allied to Burgundy in a war against France and France conquers Burgundy however at the end you take out France, there should be an option to restore Burgundy. Or like a peace treaty where you can demand France retreats from Burgundy (or you can say to them to keep Burgundy in final peace deal but become vassal or give some other land)

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On 6/23/2023 at 10:47 AM, CroatianKnight said:

Lovely suggestions, I would really like most of these to be added. Devs should consider your suggestions.

I think there should also be an option to create a vassal if you took a lot of someones territory. Or for example if you are Germany and allied to Burgundy in a war against France and France conquers Burgundy however at the end you take out France, there should be an option to restore Burgundy. Or like a peace treaty where you can demand France retreats from Burgundy (or you can say to them to keep Burgundy in final peace deal but become vassal or give some other land)

Thank you, glad you liked the post!

By the way, it seems that your "create vassal" idea was included in the last update! It works great, by the way. You can restore a faction in any province you conquer that is not of your same culture, making it a rather grateful vassal. However, I believe it works on a province-by-province basis, and I don't think you can ask for it on peace negotiations (though I believe you could ask for the land and then restore the faction), so you can't always fully restore conquered allies in this way.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/1/2023 at 2:47 AM, Alfonso XIII said:

Thank you, glad you liked the post!

By the way, it seems that your "create vassal" idea was included in the last update! It works great, by the way. You can restore a faction in any province you conquer that is not of your same culture, making it a rather grateful vassal. However, I believe it works on a province-by-province basis, and I don't think you can ask for it on peace negotiations (though I believe you could ask for the land and then restore the faction), so you can't always fully restore conquered allies in this way.

You are welcome and yes I noticed that and I am glad it is in the game  

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  • 2 weeks later...

While some of these are great, some of them would just make game too complex, almost like... you want game to be CK-KoH, main thing for me about KoH 1 and 2 is about how accessible these games are, which is largely due to lower complexity, like... the biggest obstacle I've had with KoH1 was handling Rebels. lol

 

But let's go over some things.

General Changes and Tweaks:

More granular notification control is required (e.g. currently it's not possible to turn off only the "You have won the support of a Great Power" message). Ideally you should add a "Detailed Notification Control" button with a list of all possible notifications accompanied with "Text" and "Voice" icons that you could turn on/off individually

I 100% agree about this one, I don't care about support of great power. lol

Additionally It would be nice if we could turn off some types of notifications, like... I've done 3 playthroughs so far, I've only used "Shun Merchant" once. I refused to kill children with Spies, and such. So I would love it we could just exclude those options, at least from notifications, if not completely for the run.

  • While province development is generally interesting, the shared upgrades, expensive prices and mostly randomized resources and features, make province uniqueness suffer a bit.
  • Specialized provinces don't seem to appear until late in the game (since you need quite a lot of expensive building slots to define a true specialization).
  • Newly acquired (by conquest or otherwise) towns are highly developed by the AI, giving less flexibility to the player. Not a problem as such, but may compound other issues.
  • It all adds up to a feeling of inflexibility in development.

I disagree with these, I think it would be great if we had some more building types, which would be available only on certain sites, like someone suggested watermill if you have river, and such stuff, but what I really mind is too few buildings slots, so I try to be optimal, without being "fun".

However since you can always destroy buildings, I don't really see an issue, like... when I close part of map, and know there won't be stuff like rebels going on anymore, nor someone would attack me, I'd just destroy barracks, armory and such, so I have more space for economical buildings. So whatever AI builds is irrelevant to me, however... I'm not really sure AI ever destroys buildings, my last playthrough was where everyone started with single province, and majority of them ended up the same, even in endgame, with some kingdoms spanning close to 20 provinces.

And I actually like randomized resources, because then every game would be the same, "Oh I need Grapes I need to conquer Dubrovnik, Sicily, Athens or Valencia" (I'm just going randomly ofc...) "Oh I need Gold, I better conquer Buda, Barcelona, Novgorod, Cairo", "Oh I need Iron, I better conquer Visoko, Moscow, Paris or Rhodes" and so on... besically each game would devolve in what's the most optimal based on your position, so you would always look to progress the same with things in the same area, so if you were starting with anything on Balkan, you would always aim to conquer Visoko and Dubrovnik. And... it basically just kills replayability, especially if it's a region controlled by Byzantium, Ottomans, and such, which makes it even harder to gain access to resources, while starting with those you'd always have those, and maybe even practically start with Kingdom Advantages. I wouldn't mind it as an option of those who like such limited gameplay, but for me randomness is fun.

Some pre-built and purchasable buildings tied to specific provinces (say, if I try to build a University in Salamanca I get, appropriately enough, the "University of Salamanca", with extra bonuses). You already got some similar things, such as the pirate buildings in the Barbary Coast.

This also adds to more limited gameplay, since you would maybe even wait to conquer Salamanca to build University there, Rheims to build Cathedral and so on... Or just remove previous ones you've built, because you have better one now.

As mentioned on the review, one aspect of improvement is the distinctiveness and personality of the nobles in the court. Currently they're mostly cyphers, distinguished only by their skills (which the player has the chance to steer to a given template). The ideal way to improve this would be having Character Traits, that is, bonuses/maluses to particular actions and/or skills, acquired at birth or in specific circumstances. The more distinctive and impactful (and perhaps, humorous), the better.

 This I don't like at all, while it adds randomness, it also adds to you being shafted when king dies or having too strong knights. Since you don't really have an option to choose your heir (which you can influence somewhat in CK), it also means you'd be playing with gimped out king.

  • Diplomats: diplomats can be a bit boring compared to their peers, as they don't get many dynamic opportunities nor emergent actions. They are useful, but need some flexibility. Some ideas (that also would work as standalone mechanics - read below):
    • Unify Kingdoms (Action or Opportunity): initiated by a diplomatic assigned to a foreign court. Requirements: a lot of gold, friendly relations, cultural influence on provinces, relative size of absorbed kingdom 50% or less than your own, Royal Marriage resulting in a Queen in foreign kingdom, high Nobility Opinion. If successful, you get the option to rename your kingdom by hyphenation (see "Castile-Leon"), incorporate the provinces, and the two top foreign nobles go into your court (as "Important Relatives" if the slots are free). May result in a rebellion in the targeted country or your own (depending on the Nobility Opinion and Crown Authority of each kingdom). On failure, your own Nobility Opinion and Crown Authority take a hit, and you can't initiate the proposal again without a different Queen on the foreign court.

While negotiations have to improve and not be as one sided (like... let's say you could offer someone province which you could, but demand some gold in return or maybe something else in return, now you can just "Offer Province" or "Demand Gold" you can't do both). You could also try to force a trade for certain resource/good and so on...
But Unifying Kingdoms is just too strong, and it has to be one way, because no played would be happy if all of the sudden Byzantium absorbed them because they were friends, since that's what basically happens in this scenario (I mean... you already have similar option with Spies). And you have to then reload and piss them off, break relations, go to war, to stop it from happening.

  •  Spies: the espionage system is excellent, and the opportunities are well designed in both requirements, prices and frequency of activation. That said, you could take a look at the standard actions:
    • Sow Dissent: this action is too slow to be worthwhile, particularly since you need to interrupt it frequently to take advantage of opportunities. You could make it a bit more effective (potential for several points of opinion loss, higher frequency, etc.), or alternatively allow having simultaneous actions (i.e. you can activate opportunity actions without interrupting it).

I agree with you here, that Sow Dissent is too slow, and that it's annoying to interrupt it every few minutes (kinda like Cleric's "Bolster Culture"), but I can also see why it would be kept slower, enemy spies would be harder to ignore in your court, and with such limited amount of knights, you would always have to employ Spy in your own court for witch hunts at least. Now imagine new player having 3+ spies in his court, that constantly Sow Dissent, and just ruin Opinions of each class, and they can't do anything unless they fire another Knight, and even then, they'd have to wait for Witch Hunt action to even appear.

Ruin relations is actually strong, since you can remove someone from actually entering a war against you.

  •  Merchants: very useful, and less "boring" than diplomats, they still could use more opportunities and actions to spice the game. For example:
    • Search for an Advantage: this action has the merchant look for a trade deal delivering a good required for a specified advantage. This trade deal is not tied to a specific kingdom (e.g. "from a distant caravan", "smugglers", "maritime traders").
    • Replenish Stores: the merchant relieves a town under siege by arranging a covert transfer of supplies (see Castle section below).

First one is too strong, because it would give you too easy access to kingdom advantages, 2nd one just doesn't make any sense, someone would slip by a sieging army, and push supplies into town... how? It's not modern cities, so due to size Medieval cities they were a lot easier to control during siege, they've had only a few gates, so only a few entry points too, and unless cities had underground tunnels, cliff caves, and such, no one was getting in or out. Scouts would constantly patrol around (if not be spread around) to keep an eye on walls, in case someone was trying to escape some way over them. In order to keep hostile armies away from cities, and making them easier to spot too, most cities had clean areas around walls too, which in turn would also mean that no one could sneak in to help either.

  •  Clerics: a very useful class, they are always busy with some rather important actions and opportunities. But as always, more varied opportunities improve the decision-making aspect. For example:
    • Pledge Support to Crusade (Opportunity - Catholic kingdom only):

Too strong, Crusader armies are already too strong at times to handle, and them having a support is insane, plus some targets would be too easy to overrun, like... if 4 or 5 kingdoms were to pledge... Crusading armies can already be too easy to abuse at times, where you can send them against enemies of yours. Last time I've played I was playing Pagan kingdom, and even tho I was deep in Europe, whenever crusade was announced anywhere, Crusaders would casually try to run over my cities.

Marshals: they are a key component of the game. The only problem is that the limited number usually prevents the use of more specialized approaches (e.g. to have a specialized cavalry Marshal you'd need at least one other Marshal with a regular army, and you only have 9 nobles). To improve the situation, I'd reinforce the impact of skills and add more variety of skills so that you have more of a need to tailor your general to your army (or vice versa).

Kinda agree here, while you have options, they are usually subpar, I always try to aim for Siegecraft, and two others, and build armies the same way anyway. Even if I have Archery, Cavalry, or Infantry boost. If I have two Marshals which have Transport (or however the one which gives army speed boost) as secondary skill, I'd pair them up, but yeah... I've only run one Marshall without Siegecraft so far, but gave him two Army number boosts, while pairing him up with other which had two Trebuchets to even things out.

Vassals: currently, vassalization feels a bit limited.

Technically all cities/provinces are your vassals too and can only do what you tell them, while other kingdoms you make vassals, they aren't forced to follow your every whim. And if you treat them well, have a good relationship, they'll support you and won't demand release either. The way it used to work, they'd have type of relationship defined as vassalage took place, they weren't always paying tributes, they weren't always forced to support in war, and so on... I mean... what's the point of becoming a vassal, if they're just going to use your as a meat shield next time they need it. Some of them were limited in international politics completely, some where left to their own devices.

But it would be nice if you could replenish supply and maybe like up to 30% of troops in Vassal areas. It would also be nice if you knew they were in war too (without them asking for support first)

  • Unit variety as a whole is Ok, but since most armies on the early-mid game have a low technology level, you usually see mostly peasants for quite a while. Some ways to ameliorate this (credit to "zolobolo" from the Steam forums):
    • Unique starting units. Not only unique, but available with low tech (for instance, at "Militia" Level).
    • Some diplomatic arrangement that lets you hire unique troops from a friendly kingdom (Audience - Allow recruitment of foreign soldiers).

Unique starting units would make game too complex and push even more (or farther) some kingdoms at being the best to start with.
You can already recruit foreign soldiers, by asking others to join your war, or by hiring mercenaries, it wouldn't make sense for other kingdoms to allow you to recruit their army, since that would make them weaker in turn. And such army wouldn't want to follow your rule either. (From gameplay mechanics you probably mean just allow you to ask England to recruit Longbow man, but it makes no from logical sense, since they're troops from that area, which isn't loyal to you)

Quid pro quo negotiation: allows free-form exchange of assets between kingdoms (e.g. a Province for a Province, Gold for a Royal Marriage, etc.).

You currently have limitations on what you can "buy" from others, that is only provinces where your culture has spread/which are loyal to you. And for this reason, just trading provinces willy-nilly wouldn't work either. Gold for Royal Marriage is already a thing btw. Sometimes they'll just flatout ask you "Pay me 5000 Gold and we have a deal", sometimes you can just butter them by giving them Gold before asking for Royal Marriage.

Kingdom Integration:

Unless they were conquered they weren't doing it, since you can't have two rulers, even split kingdoms (like Holy Roman Empires) which had two leaders, functioned alone. So basically outside of Defensive Pacts or Offensive Pacts, you didn't have Kingdoms functioning together. Again... you might've had some which worked together for a time, like... Kingdoms cooperating against Ottomans/Golden Horde and such, but when that's done, everyone goes their own way, or splits lands before that.

Future Developments / New Mechanics:

The game has very tight and controlled systems, almost as a board game. While the end result is great, I think that the game would benefit from more complex and optional mechanics to engage in as long as it retains the game style: the core snappy and intuitive, but the more you dig, the more you're surprised by the depth of what you find.

This should be optional or not exist at all, Knights of Honor games are great because they're not as complex as Paradox's games.

Another historical fact that could bring interesting mechanics are Local Charters and the conflicts with local nobility and burgsmen. This can be implemented with several concurrent mechanics, for example...

I absolutely hate this idea, it would lead to creation of rebellions in middle of nowhere, force you to reconquer provinces, in the middle of nowhere, and bring nothing to the game other than being a massive annoyance.
These things might work with CK, due to amount of personnel you can control, but here where you only have King and 8 Knights, it would be hard to manage, and drag out things too much.

Because of these things I've played CK only once, and vowed to never do it again, while I've played KoH2 3 times in 2 weeks, and will play more. KoH1 I've played 4 or 5 campaigns, and no other Grand Strategy (other than Endless Legend), had me playing it more than 3 times.

Regent Queens:
I agree about this, some Kingdoms just weren't sticks in idea of who leads them, and if you choose to expand from a province, this would make even more sense, maybe you would have harder time gaining culture/loyalty in certain provinces as a penalty, but Queen Rulers should be a thing.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'll get back to other things some other time

Edited by Archiel
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  • New sources of "vertical" development for towns would be very welcome. For example:
    • Province capitals fulfilling certain requirements (having "Famous" or "Trade Center" status, being upgraded and producing "X" gold/workers/levy, etc.) could be converted into "Cities of Renown" (working title) and have more building slots open for them, unique buildings, among other bonuses.
    • A secondary town in the province might develop (again, when fulfilling certain requirements), which would open a mini-town interface with its own building slots and town features (more limited than the capital, say 4 and 6 respectively).

Trade centers decline. Famous status... famous cities aren't necessarily massive, so them having more slots and being converted into cities of renown, doesn't make much sense.

Provinces have their own resources, having them split between towns... it's not THAT bad, but still... would you have to conquer that things too then? Would you have to defend it against others too? It just becomes an annoyance.

  • Mechanics - Noble Classes:
  • Lack of aging for knights is a pet peeve of mine. With such a focus on the "Knights of Honor", this sticks like a sore thumb and breaks the illusion of reality (see also, lack of distinctive personality traits). I understand that all characters aging was tested and found "not that fun", however, I think that mechanics adjustments (e.g. somewhat slower aging with more death sources besides it, retainer/squire characters smoothing out character transitions, adjustments in books and skill acquisition rates, etc.) would make this both feasible and fun.

As little sense as it makes, I think one of the reasons I could always play KoH1 and KoH2, was because of non-aging knights, it's just an annoyance, it doesn't enrich gameplay by making it more realistic, in fact... in game timer for King should be slowed down so that they age slower too, since game doesn't have age, and time related events don't happen either. And if scenario where midwar, I'd lose Marshall due to age, and lost battle because of that would make me not want to play game again, or look for cheats.

And if it was outside of the battle, I'd just replace him, and retrain him and I'll be back to where I was except I've wasted 20 minutes needlessly. Aging doesn't bring anything other than annoyance.

  • Currently, advantages and the commercial victory, as stated in the game library, are more a recognition of advancement (mainly, of having many provinces and upgrades), than a progression path itself. I recommend switching this a bit and adding alternative methods for small/medium kingdoms to pursue advantages (sources of goods), and even a commercial victory. For instance:
    • Merchant characters imports having cheaper upkeep.
    • The "Search for an Advantage" Merchant skill proposed elsewhere.
    • Emergent "Trade Routes" for high value goods. Say the Golden Horde produces spices, and France (now a Great Power) does not. An event would  randomly trigger (simulated for AI, of course) for Merchant nobles on all countries in the path. This would grant money and the good itself, at a cost of commerce units. Destruction of the origin/destination kingdoms would break the route and benefits. Note that diplomats on a mission in a rare good's producer could get an option to propose initiation of the route (if Great Power, as the destination, or else, as a middleman for a route towards a Great Power).

Doesn't make much sense, those resources are valuable because they're scarce, and upkeep should be high to stimulate their worth, and make it harder to just get everything you need, as opposed to conquering everything, there has to be fine balance between those things. I mean... game could go an extra step to make it more expensive the farther away you are from the trading post, but I don't really want that either. Someone infinitely trading extra of something they don't have access to infinitely makes scarcity irrelevant, someone could trade infinite amount. Like... let's say they have 3 Spices, they're using one, how are they going to supply 20 Spices from 2, to all Kingdoms on the path?

  • More emergent problems. For example:
    • Plagues. A global event where everyone is notified. Affected provinces (usually larger ones, and on larger empires) take a lasting hit in workers, food production, morale, etc. Also heavily affected kingdoms take hits in stability and opinions. Their propagation to vulnerable neighboring provinces could be tracked with the Political Map. Some traditions (e.g. Medicine) and buildings may confer resistance or vulnerability to them. In addition, certain character skills (e.g. Medicine, Learning) and buildings/upgrades could generate actions to avoid them or diminish their impact. In any case, they eventually would run their course.
    • Earthquakes: a province-level event that could destroy buildings and kill workers, while possibly affecting opinions (God's punishment!).

Plagues weren't that common, and it brings nothing to the core experience other than making game more complex and more annoying at times too. If it hit in an opportune time, you could even lose the game. On my 2nd playthrough, Loyalist rebellions went berserk, they came in from outside my area en masse there were 20+ loyalist bands, they kept on taking my cities, I kept on losing crown opinion, and opinion of each class, whole thing went haywire, due to disorder, rebellions and everything popping all around, kingdom too. Ofc I've had shortage of gold/income thanks to all that, and imagine being hit with Plague on top of all that...

On my last playthrough I've had -100 from War Exhaustion, because my enemies didn't want to sign peace, and I was battling on two fronts (one in Africa, one in Eastern Europe), then got down to one (Africa), then back to another Kingdom declaring separate war (Central Europe), and no matter how many cities I'd conquer in Africa, they didn't take none of mine, but have pillaged enough stuff and killed enough mercs to keep war score in their favor. And... imagine on of that getting Plague. How does it enrich experience? People are already complaining about rebels.

Game technically doesn't take span over that long time, which is why you don't have technology progression, timed events and such. Devastating Earthquakes aren't that common. And they weren't as destructive in most cases, because buildings were sturdier and smaller. And... how does it enrich gameplay? Other than just adding another annoyance.

  • More "serendipitous events" in general. For instance:
    • A charismatic preacher appears in a province, and you may shun or tolerate him. This can generate further chained events. E.g.: Pope asks to rebuke/imprison saint, if you comply you can get a rebellion, if not you may get lower relations and heresy on the province, alternatively a Diplomat noble can try to persuade the Pope to tolerate his doctrine, etc.
  • A mechanic for relics and pilgrimages on Christian Kingdoms. Relics could be gained by certain provinces (randomly, historically or through governor Cleric events). They would be treated as province features, opening unique buildings, generating fame and the potential to unlock "Pilgrimage Center" status. Towns with this status could generate pilgrimage routes with other kingdoms (initiated by a diplomatic request or Cleric action), granting a gold income. The loss of a relic (through conquest or spy actions) would cause stability and Clergy Opinion penalties.
  • More mechanics for internal dissension and problems related to scale, as a way to slow down and spice up the game for large, powerful empires. More on that if I get some time...

Why not just play Crusader Kings or Total War instead?

I don't want any of those in this game, especially considering limited number of Knights.

Religious centers already have "Value" in the game, if you hold them people of that religion are more likely to declare wars on you, and be less likely to end them too. Internal dissension already has chance of happening every time your King dies, if you're not managing your kingdom carefully. This chance is increased by a lot if one of your Knights is becoming new king, and not one of your heirs.

People have stopped playing KoH 1 and 2 thanks to it happening.
I'd usually just reload it to latest save, only once did I progress with losing half of my kingdom.

DO NOT change Crusades. While requests are usually to change things, I'll make one exception here since a few players have requested mayor changes to Crusades but I feel they are a great, fun mechanic that I'd love to keep as it currently is (or improved along the same lines). Crusades now are ambiguous (can be a blessing and a curse to the selected Kingdom), can redraw the political landscape at all stages (but not necessarily so!), are a challenge to the receiving end, invite a lot of interesting diplomatic/espionage intrigues, and give a lot of personality to the world in general (and the Papacy and Catholic playthroughs in particular).

 Crusades are a massive disappointment, as they are now, you're just poised to lose whoever is leading the crusade, and even if you don't lose them, you're screwed anyway, since you're missing that knight while crusade is happening. I've done it once, luckily my knight only got captured, I've got them released, and I'll never do it again, I'd rather take hit in my reputation/opinions than waste time on that. In fact, I'm kinda leaning towards more often playing non Catholics just so I don't bother with Papacy, Crusade, and their opinion. X_x

I'd like an option to completely turn them off. lol
I was so overjoyed in my last playthrough when after a few hours in, Germany conquered Papal States, while I was still battling my way towards Europe. lol

"Trends" or "fashions" in trade goods. This would be a global effect granting extra rewards (e.g. extra gold, diplomatic influence, etc.) to kingdoms holding ONE specific, rare good. The base effect would be (lightly) scaled with the amount of production buildings related to the good (and their holding town's trade output). Merchants could get random Actions to try to trigger a new "trend" for a selected good (whose success rate would depend on factors such as cultural influence and commercial output of the Kingdom), which if successful, would substitute the current fashionable good with a new one.

Don't like this, but unless boost is good enough that we can't ignore it, I don't care if it's added.

 

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