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DevDiary 11 - Merchants and Trading

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Hello friends, and welcome to the 11th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign!” In the 6th DevDiary, which feels like ages ago to us, we talked about the marshal class. Now, let’s take a look at merchants, who are, debatably, just as important as Marshalls for any kingdom which aims to become a great power in the Old world.

Let’s start with the primary role of a merchant, which we all most likely know from every strategy game out – to bring gold into the kingdom’s coffers. This is true for the KoH series as well, but there are different ways to achieve it.

First of all, each knight can be selected as a governor of a province, and merchants have the most skills and governing effects that can boost gold income and commerce. Additionally, once a merchant is appointed as a governor of a province, trade caravans and ships start visiting nearby towns, bringing gold from trade when they return, unless ill fate (also known as “rebels”, stops them in their tracks. Being a governor does not hold back a knight from performing any other functions, it is a “secondary” role they have, so it is not a matter of whether to have them as governors or not, but rather who should govern where, as different classes gain and provide different bonuses to provinces.

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Each merchant can also be sent on a “mission” to establish and maintain trade with a chosen kingdom, as long as a trade agreement with it is signed and valid. This means you’ll need good relations to expand trade, which is where diplomats could be needed as well. Prosperous trading between kingdoms and good diplomatic relations are well tied together – on one hand kingdoms are more benevolent and eager to make agreements and pacts of all kinds with their established trade partners, and on the other hand trade is more profitable and offers more opportunities when the diplomatic relations between kingdoms are warm. Many other factors also play effect – for example distance, personal qualities and skills of the merchants, and whether they have royal blood – kings and princes have advantages in almost all trade endeavors.

Trading with a kingdom is a “full time” occupation, so a merchant cannot simultaneously maintain trade with more than one kingdom, or trade while leading an army, for an example. If there are more promising offers elsewhere, merchants can always return “home” and try establishing trade in a new kingdom, but in that case any developed position and all deals with the original partner they were overseeing is lost. This can often be a significant step back, since one of the possible, costly, and time-consuming actions is to expand trade to gain more and more profits and a bigger share of the market of a kingdom.

Now, we haven’t talked a lot about resources in the game yet and we won’t get into details about them now, but another thing a merchant can do within a kingdom is to arrange the import of goods. Resources are needed for the construction and function of some buildings, for hiring troops, and other things, so arranging imports can be particularly important. Food can also be imported or exported; it is needed for upkeeping the armies, as well as for maintaining the population growth and happiness. Historically, food trade and grain trade in particular were one of the oldest and most stable over the centuries, so we felt it important to represent this our game. This can also create different strategic choices for players – they can produce their own food, rely on import (if they have the gold for it!), or focus on agriculture, stock-farming and food export as a stable source of income.

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There is one significant new addition for the trading system in KoH2:S and that is “Kingdom’s Commerce” – a parameter of the kingdoms that is required for “upkeeping” the continuous trading deals, such as imports, exports and general kingdom trade. Players increase commerce mainly by constructing trading-related buildings, but also with traditions, skills, governor effects, etc. Here the challenge for players is providing the needed Commerce availability for their merchants to use, as well as putting all available Commerce into good use and thus maximizing the benefits from it.

Up to a point of the development process, this was what merchants were all about. Were they useful? Undoubtedly. Were there strategical choices for the players, like how many merchants to have, when and where to send them and what to do with them? Sure, there was. But we decided that we wanted to try and make this class even more interesting. Thus, we implemented the “Opportunities for merchants”, based on a system we so far used for spies. Thanks to it, we managed to add many additional actions that pop up from time to time for merchants on a semi-random principle. Our idea with that was to spice up the merchants and present even more choices to the players.

Each opportunity has its own story and specific effects, and we will continue to add more of these during the development of the game. Here are just few examples:

  • If one of your armies is near or in a province of a kingdom you are trading with, your merchant can try to arrange a supply of provisions to that army, which can sometimes be crucial.
  • Often merchants have opportunities to make some risky deals, for example reselling goods; thus, the players can invest some of their gold and hope to make good quick profit.
  • Merchants can hire mercenaries in the kingdom they trade in and call them to their own lands.

They can sometimes try to convince their trade partners to stop trading with another kingdom and shun a foreign merchant, if they a have strong enough position to do so; besides hindering an opponent, this has additional advantages – reducing the competition increases the chances of getting a bigger share of the market.

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As a result, the merchants can be very useful, not just by making gold. We are trying to make them both a part of the overall strategy of players and a driver of the economy of their kingdoms, as well as introduce some emerging stories and gameplay with the class. We will talk more about Merchants and Trading, as well as the opportunities that can emerge, in our DevStream on Thursday, October 1st, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream.

We really want to hear your opinion about the merchant – do you like the wider opportunities for the class or would you prefer it to be simpler? What kind of opportunities and actions of merchants would you like to see in the game? Do you like the concept of the random trade possibilities, or would you prefer to always have the full arsenal available and rely on chance as little as possible?


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It sounds like the trade deal a merchant sets up with a kingdom, is influenced by many factors; distance, skill of merchant, blood type, the length of the deal, and relation with that country. Could you elaborate on which of these factors have the larger or the most impact on the profits and which do not?

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1) How can a merchant be overseas trading and get the mercenaries if he can't trade while leading an army? Does he stop trade and all the trade income lost when I get them?

2) In KoH 1, mercenaries were on the map for any commander to hire given enough gold.  Will this still be the case?  If so, why have this be a random event for Merchants.  Note I'm not opposed to other types of events, just questioning mercenaries specifically.

3) With respect to mercenaries, I see there is a % chance of success.  This seems a bit odd, in most games mercenaries are available to the highest bidder, so, are we saying these are only available to this merchant, right then, and if you fail to recruit them or choose not to do so, do other players get access to this mercenary group?

4) If there is a % chance of success, do I lose the gold if the chance fails? If so, why would one reasonably want to try to recruit them unless it was an emergency situation?

5) When do these mercenary purchase opportunities arise for the merchants?  It would seem to me that a new outbreak of war would be a great trigger time to offer mercenaries generally, but generally I would not want pop up messages to appear randomly for this unless I sought them out specifically.  Normally, I don't want someone who's main focus is to earn me money to go spending it and leading an army.

"Do you like the concept of the random trade possibilities, or would you prefer to always have the full arsenal available and rely on chance as little as possible?"

Personally, I prefer more to have most options available, but some level of unique choices also adds some flavor and value to the game.  So that multiplayer doesn't get too bogged down, I would suggest that these random occurrences don't occur too frequently, though or it will interrupt the flow of the game.

Hugely looking forward to this game, by the way, been watching progress silently for a long time, I'm playing CK3 right now just waiting for this to come out!!

Edited by KingJohnVI

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Thanks for the new dev diary. I see that like KOH1 trading is a full time job that require sending a royal court member to a foreign kingdom, but also noticed that if a governor is assigned 

Quote

trade caravans and ships start visiting nearby towns

Does this mean that there is a passive trade income on top of the income from the merchant?

 

My second question is would it be possible to use trade as an excuse to start a war for example to force another kingdom to allow your merchants to trade in their kingdom or after winning the war to force the losing side to transfer part of their trade income for a certain period of time?

 

And speaking of trade and merchants do you plan to add Merchant republics to the game?

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I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude with merchants.

Ultimately, the question is going to be: Should Merchants even be bothered with if I can get more just by conquering a kingdom?  This was the problem in KoH1.

Economic warfare should be a viable option.

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Hello there Dear Devs,

I have a quick question – Would you please make a DevStream where Brad would talk to Veso once again? I have a great deal of respect towards Veselin Handjiev (Frujin) and I would really love to see him speak about our future favorite game!

Kind Regards!

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Yes these Merchants are looking confuse...very details...i think political and war systems is more important than this topic because Political and war systems are most important things for strategy game.

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Hi Dev-Team,

does maintaining a trade route mean a better relationship with the corresponding kingdom - maybe even a slightly but constantly improving one as long a the trading runs smoothly? And in addition to this: If so, what improves a relationship more: making gold or exchanging goods, since goods make the people happy and flourish? (are kingdom advantages as in KoH 1 actually still a thing, or do traditions replace them?)

Wow, that turnded out to be a lot of questions. I thought I only had one. 😄

I thank thee in advance, go forth and develop a great game (= 

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21 hours ago, KingJohnVI said:

 

"Do you like the concept of the random trade possibilities, or would you prefer to always have the full arsenal available and rely on chance as little as possible?"

Personally, I prefer more to have most options available, but some level of unique choices also adds some flavor and value to the game.  So that multiplayer doesn't get too bogged down, I would suggest that these random occurrences don't occur too frequently, though or it will interrupt the flow of the game.

 

I am totally your opinion here since I am generally not too fond of chances and luck.

An idea however would be to make it a decission in the game set up before you start a new map. Anno does this vastly. So you can try different experiences and I think these options come out pretty different in the gameplay and how a session goes.

But if I have to choose between one of the two options, I say: go for the full arsenal and less chance.

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I liked to goods system. 

But I don't know about chance based system and the cost seem prety high for a little chance.

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Hi Dev Team, 

Can we attack the trade routes (caravans and ships) with our marshals and if yes, should we get gold or food as a reward ?

What is the way to level up the merchant, I mean, only with books or he gain experience by completing missions ?

Should we get more gold if a merchant is a governor in bigger cities ? (for example, historicly Constantinople was the greatest trade center in the middle ages) Also, should we get more gold if the city have a water border ? (not only caravans but also ships)

And my last question, but i think the most important is about the role of the merchans, since in the first KoH trade was "secondary". How significant will be their role for your rullership, could you skip them and conquer the world with only marshals for example ? 

Thank you ! : )))

 

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