DevDiary 5 - Marshals and Armies
Hello friends, and welcome to the fifth entry of the “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiaries! Today, we will be talking about one of the game’s most fundamental aspects - warfare. More precisely, the focus will be on marshals, their role, and the types of troops which can fall under their command.
Being one of the five main classes in KoH2:S, marshals play a very specific and important part in the game, and that’s to lead armies across provinces, fight enemy forces, and paint the political map with your kingdom’s colors. As conquest and expansion were arguably amongst the most important aspects of the original game, we have made sure to encapsulate what marshals were and expand on their concept further.
Each knight in the royal court may lead a number of squads depending on his class and specialization. This is a major change compared to the original game and means that you can turn merchants, spies, diplomats and even clerics into somewhat efficient commanders. The ability to lead troops is unlocked for these classes by certain skills – in specific, all military ones. So, if your trusty merchant learns Infantry tactics, this means he can now muster up a hefty army and replace the quill with a sword at any time.
However, marshals possess a major advantage to these classes, and that’s the ability to control a larger number of squads. For the time being, marshals can lead up to 9 squads, which is 3 more than what other classes may have within their retinues. Kings and crusaders also have an additional bonus on the number of squads they can control, making encounters against their forces particularly challenging.
An additional military advantage of marshals is the skills the class can acquire. Specifically, marshals can learn more military-related skills than the other classes. These mostly focus on aspects of warfare such as siegecraft, archery and leadership, and usually grant additional battle tactics and actions that knights of other classes wouldn’t normally gain. As marshal are natural-born leaders, they also tend to inspire their troops more, which results in higher morale and more epic battles.
It’s important to note that not every skill is necessarily locked to marshals, as other knights may also end up possessing them in one way or another. To explain this best, let’s take Archery as an example. For all classes, having the skill means ranged squads under their command gain higher attack values. However, if a marshal owns the same skill, he has the added benefit of recruiting archers with an increased squad size. We can even go further and look at spies, which instead have their own unique take on Archery, both on and off the battlefield. As an example, they might have a higher chance to “snipe” enemy marshals on the battlefield, or obtain an affinity for arranging “hunting incidents” on foreign grounds. These are just a few cool samples; skills are a compelling aspect of how classes work, and we’ll talk about skills more in a future diary.
Squads and armies can normally be recruited from any town within your kingdom. In general, the resources which are required to produce troops include food and population, which are gathered in each town - just like in the original game. Additionally, some squads may also require specific goods produced or imported within your kingdom. A typical example are horses, which are needed for producing all sorts of cavalry.
Each squad then consists of a varying number of units, depending on what fits the type of troops from both a balance and historical point of view. In general, we aim to have numbers similar to those in the original games, as we favor smaller squad sizes and more dynamic battles. As a rough orientation, most infantry squads currently consist of 30 units, while the majority of cavalry squads have 21 horsemen. Militia type squads are also the biggest, since their only combat advantage is their strength in numbers. However, players will be able to control larger numbers of squads, so expect to see significantly bigger battles compared to the original game.
Now, let’s see what it takes to maintain a marshal with a sizeable army. Like other classes in the game, marshals don’t work for free and cost gold to be hired. (The only exceptions to this rule are members of the royal family, which may enter the court for free.) After hiring a knight, players must also pay his wage, which increases progressively with each additional knight of the same type recruited within the court. In other words - having too many knights of the same class is really costly. Additionally, each army squad also has an upkeep cost, with the exact resources depending on what recruiting strategies players decide to utilize. All recruited armies take up some amount of food upkeep from the kingdom’s global food reserves. Mercenary squads prefer more gold, though.
One significant addition is that squads now also have their own level, which also increases as they participate in successful battles. Each level increases various squad statistics such as attack, defense, stamina and morale. This means that as you find the right synergy between your knights’ skills and their armies’ characteristics, you’ll want to make sure specific squads are kept alive for longer periods. All of these factors play a deciding role in close battles, where numbers might not seem to be in your favour.
When developing an army, picking a healthy mix of varied unit types is often the best approach if you want to be equipped to handle all types of invading troops. For example, you might want to include a bunch of spearmen to defend against enemy cavalry squads charging against your archers, as you have your sturdy infantry troops maintain the frontline. On the side, you could also throw in some highly mobile horse archers for flanking and harassing purposes. Of course, focusing on one type of units may also be beneficial. For example, fast horsemen can quickly deal with weak rebel armies across your kingdom or harass and pillage enemy provinces, avoiding heavier but slower armies. The composition of armies affects not only their speed in battle, but also the traveling speed in the world map.
There’s so much more we can talk about when it comes to combat, but this should at least cover the essentials of what it takes to manage skilled commanders and fearsome armies. Be sure to tune in to our DevStream on Thursday, April 9th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST, where we will try to answer any questions you might have about marshals and squads in Knights of Honor 2: Sovereign. As usual, expect to see us on THQ Nordic’s Twitch channel over at https://www.twitch.tv/thqnordic.
Are there any specific new units you wish to see in Knights of Honor 2? Can you name your most preferred army setup? What’s the perfect number of marshals to have in your royal court? Feel free to ask any questions in advance on our forums, or join our Facebook and Discord channels.
Next time, we will discuss culture, and how it affects different aspects of the game. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!