First of all thank You for work You are doing. I was fan of TW games since first Medieval. After Empire I thought that this series is “dead” for me. But Napoleon and Shogun 2 were great rehabilitation after ETW disaster : ) I see professionalism and creativity are back again. Even “famous” AI of TW, though still far from perfection, was really improved. Sadly some of old weaknesses of TW were never or little touched. There are:
- Most of the battles in game you play with basic units. Because when you build at last long chain of buildings to hire advanced units the game is generally won or became boring.
- There are too much battles that soon becomes routine and boring. There is a lot of “Decisive Victories” that really seems nothing. Because your rivals just spams you with more and more stacks of units.
- Some features of game are very unrealistic and annoying. Minor one-province factions with poor economy could have huge armies of few full stacks. Rebellions produce large armies of elite units even in small and poor provinces.
- The beginning of game is interesting. But later, since you own about 20 provinces, the game is not just boring but BORING. Because your faction is too strong and it’s too simple to conquer new provinces. There’s only routine process: battle/siege, occupy, wait few turns for positive public order, then march to new province to repeat these operations and forget about previously conquered provinces. The game needs more intrigue and difficulty at the middle and final levels.
- CA improves every new TW game, but ununderstandably removes some of really great features of previous titles.
It always seemed weird to me that you have to build separate buildings to hire sword, spear and archery units. Same with long chain of buildings to get more advanced units. I understand that it’s just artificial conditions for more “strategic planning” in game. But I think after ten years of playing the same, already boring, system it’s time to invent something new. So I suggest the following changes that would bring more fun to game and make it more battle-oriented and empire-oriented than building-oriented.
All units should be available from the beginning, except some advanced and special units that would be available after research of certain technology. It will bring more fun and tactical variety to battles right from the start of game, not in the end when it becomes boring.
There should be only these buildings to hire units:
- City itself for basic melee and missile infantry units
- Barracks for all melee and missile infantry units
- Stables for all cavalry units
- Siege engine / artillery workshop
- Some special buildings for special units (such as monk warriors, palace guard, etc.)
New levels of barracks, etc. instead of bringing more advanced units in game should have these features:
- More slots to hire units
- More experience to new units
- More positive effect on public order
- In case of siege it should provide some garrison troops plus to city militia
It’s great that in ROTS CA already implemented many of these features.
But instead of boring construction of long chain of buildings to get interesting units, there should be limit of troops available to faction. The larger and more advanced faction become, the more number of troops it can maintain. This system will make small factions and rebellions more realistic, it will minimize number of boring battles and will make victories (or defeats) more valuable. It could be done by three different methods.
The first method is simple. Every new level of barracks allows faction to have more number of units. For example, first level will allow 10 units, second – 15, third – 20. So if you have 3rd level barracks in one of your cities, you can have full stack army of 20 units (plus generals that are not units but characters). For larger army you have to build another barracks in another city.
The second method is further development of castles system of S2TW. Each new level of city should consume certain amount of food and allow maintaining certain number of units. For example, first level city will consume 1 item of food and allow 10 units, second – 2 items of food and 15 units, third – 3 items of food and 20 units. So if you have one city of third level and another city of first level, you can have army of 25 units. For this method there should be different levels of farms and different limits of farm upgrades for each province (as described below) for more realistic diversity of cities – not every city should be big enough to support large army.
The third method is more complicated, but it brings more diversity to gameplay. Number of units should be limited by population. For example, every 1000 citizens allows to hire 1 unit of any troops. So if faction have total of 33000 population it could have army of 33 units, but not more.
Third method makes population one of the most important factors in empire building. During the game a player will have to deal with two important tasks: growth of population and control of population.
The only source of population growth should be food production. Food comes from three sources:
These sources should provide some units of food that will be summarized in total food production of faction (like excessive food in S2TW). Total food production of faction will be shared between provinces according to number of citizens in province. Provinces with greater food production will “export” food to provinces where food required (like in S2TW). Every unit of food will be enough for maintaining some number of population (e.g. 1 tonne of food will allow faction to have 5000 citizens, 2 tonnes will allow 10000 citizens, etc.). If faction will have additional food, population will grow until it reach limit of available food (e.g if faction produce 5 tonnes of food and have 17000 citizens, population will grow to 25000, but not more). If faction will have population more than allowed by current food production, population will decrease until food level will be enough for maintaining of population (e.g. if faction produce 3 tonnes of food and have 21000 citizens, population will decrease to 15000). At first population should decrease in provinces that “imports” food from other regions, then equally in every province of faction. Growth will have small positive effect on public order, decrease (famine) will have big negative effect on public order.
So the only cause of population growth (except some random events and conquering of new provinces) will be additional food produced by faction. Additional food regardless of its number will have default percents of population growth (e.g. 1% by year). New levels of farms, pastures and fishing will not provide percents to population growth itself, but will add more bonus percents to additional food (e.g., first level farms will not add any percents; level 2 farms will add 0,25% so that population growth will be 1,25%; level 3 farms will add 0,5% so that population growth will be 1,5%, etc.). If there will be no additional food, then farms, pastures and fishing will not have any effect on population growth. Default percents of growth from additional food will be applied to all provinces of faction. Bonus percents of growth from farms, pastures and fishing should be applied only to province where this infrastructure situated.
Other bonuses to growth from additional food should be provided by:
- health care buildings (hospital, aqueduct, public baths, etc.)
- low taxes
- some random events (e.g. great harvest, birth boom, etc.)
- peace (faction is not in war with any other faction, except rebels)
Small (e.g. 0,1%) factionwide bonus to default percents of population growth could be given also by salt as special resource in certain provinces, because salt helps to preserve food for longer time. Salt could be tradable with other factions.
Roads, ports, markets and religious buildings should not cause any effect on population growth.
Farms must be present in every province. There should be levels of farm, say 5 levels. Plus there should be upgrade limit for every province. For example, desert and highland regions can upgrade farms to level 2 only, arid regions can upgrade farms till level 3, normal regions can upgrade farms till level 4, high fertility regions will upgrade farms to level 5. Every new level of farms will provide more units of food, more bonus percents to population growth and more financial income.
Pastures and fishing should be special resources of certain provinces (like iron or wood in S2TW). Every new level of these “buildings” will provide more units of food, more bonus percents to population growth and more financial income. But these resources should not be tradable.
Some random events (e.g. bad harvest, livestock epidemic, floods, locusts, etc.) could temporary reduce food production of farms, pastures and fishing in certain provinces.
Pillage by enemy and sabotage by spies should not ruin all food production in province. It’s just unrealistic that army or spy could quickly burn every field and every foodstore in whole region. The other reason is that in S2TW it was too easy to demolish any great faction with just sabotage of farms by ninjas. So instead of ruin all food production pillage and sabotage should decrease just random percentages of farms outcome.
If faction have additional food, its population will grow, and soon faction will have more troops and more income from taxes. The size of population in province could also determine the number of buildings that could be constructed in city. For example, with 5000 regional population player could have 1 slot for buildings in city, with 10000 – 2 slots, with 15000 – 3 slots, etc. If population decrease some buildings could decay too.
Population could be decreased by:
- lack of food
- massacre (or enslaving) after conquest of province by enemy
- pillage of regional infrastructure by enemy (should lessen local population a bit)
- some random events (e.g. plague, earthquake, floods, etc.)
- military loses
After every battle loses of troops should be subtract equally from every province of faction (e.g. if faction have 3 provinces and lost 300 units in battle, 100 citizens must be subtract from population of every province). Same with attrition.
Plague’s effect should be increased if city has aqueduct, public baths, theater, hippodrome, brothel, drinking house or any other buildings where large number of people gathers together. Hospital should decrease effect of plague. Spies should be able to infect local sources of water to cause plague. There should be random chance of spreading of plague to other regions through roads and trade routes. But there should be option to quarantine infected city.
If number of troops is more than population can maintain, then certain units (first it should be basic units with lowest experience) should lose some number of soldiers every turn until total disappearance of these units, because there will be not enough recruits to replace retired veterans.
The other task for player will be control of population. Features described below could be implemented as part of new unit recruiting system or independently. The main ideas are: a) public order should be more dynamic; b) conquering of new regions during middle-late game should be harder.
Every province should have two or three main parameters:
- culture type
- faction loyalty
First two parameters could be absent in some TW games. For example, in S2TW culture type is just one for all factions, but there are different religions; in RTW religion has no matter, but there could be different culture types: roman, barbarian, hellenistic, eastern, etc. Influence in ROTS is like culture type too.
Faction loyalty means to which faction local population is loyal to. Every province starts with 100% loyalty to initial owner faction. After conquest by other faction loyalty to previous owner should be slowly (e.g. 1% by turn) replaced by loyalty to new owner. This process could be increased by some factors:
- educational and “propaganda” buildings constructed by new owner faction (e.g. school, university, journal press, etc.)
- some of discovered technologies
- some traits of faction leader
- some traits of characters present in province
- some random events (e.g. many of local citizens decided that new faction is better for them)
On the other side, some buildings constructed by previous owner faction could increase loyalty to that faction instead of new one.
If there are loyalties to multiple factions in province, then loyalty to new faction after conquest should replace first most little loyalties of other factions (e.g. if there are 80% for faction A, 3% to faction B and 17% to faction C, then new faction D should replace percents of faction B at first, then faction C, then faction A).
If region starts game as rebel province its assimilation speed should be increased twice. If region was lost to rebels it should keep its faction loyalty status-quo until some faction conquer it.
Same process of assimilation should happen to religion and culture , as it was already realized in TW.
Positive public order parameters should be:
- low tax level
- entertainment buildings in province (theater, coliseum, hippodrome, brothel, tavern, etc.)
- “discipline” buildings in province (e.g. barracks, court, jail, magistrate, etc.)
- religious buildings in province
- province “imports” food from other provinces of faction
- significant amount of luxury goods available to faction (e.g. 1 happiness point for every 3 luxury items)
- growth of population
- troops stationed in province
- troops stationed in city (should double the effect of troops presence)
- population feels fear after massacre or enslaving
- some traits of faction leader
- some traits of characters present in province
- some of discovered technologies
- some random events (e.g. festival, local preacher teaching obedience, etc.)
Negative public order parameters should be:
- high tax level
- lack of food in province
- local culture type is different to culture type of owner faction
- local religion is different to religion of owner faction
- some traits of faction leader
- some traits of characters present in province
- population was massacred or enslaved (it should be eternal parameter)
- some random events (e.g. rude actions by officials, spreading of new heresy, etc.)
Some traits of faction leader should have great factionwide effect on public order, either positive or negative, and such increase the role of person in history (gameplay). After death of faction leader public order within faction could change from positive to negative or vice versa, like it often happened in history. Positive traits should increase: happiness, respect, discipline, fear. Negative traits should increase: unhappiness, disrespect, corruption.
Traits of other characters should work the same way but produce only local effect in province where character presents.
Troops presence should make some positive effect on public order when troops are stationed in province, not in city itself (like in all TW games). Troops stationed in city should only increase this effect.
Massacre (or enslaving) of population after conquest of province should produce great fear among population for long period of time, thus add lot of positive points to public order. On the other hand it should add small negative points that stay forever as memory about this event. Looting should add some negative points to public order for some turns only. All these points should be applied only if province is owned by faction that committed these actions. Massacre (or enslaving) should also produce small negative points on relations with other factions and great negative points on relations with faction which former population was massacred. Looting should have no any effect on diplomatic relations. During massacre many buildings in city should be damaged too. Looting should not damage any building.
Massacre (or enslaving) could be applied to any city with great negative public order at any time as kind of punishment. It will temporary add a lot of positive points to public order in city. But it will add negative and dishonor traits to faction leader. Plus until death of current faction leader it will cause small negative effect in every city of faction and middle negative effect in massacred city.
If faction loyalty in province is less than 100%, there should be additional negative parameters for public order. The less is loyalty to new faction the greater should be the effect of these parameters. Some of them should appear as effect of events that happens to new owner faction. But most of them should decrease every turn (like some factors in diplomacy in S2TW). There are:
- loyalty to previous owner - the more hostile previous faction to new one, the higher should be this parameter, thus it will be harder to hold conquered provinces of old enemies (this parameter should decrease only by increasing of faction loyalty)
- distance to capital of new owner faction (it should be matter only for really distant provinces and should decrease only by increasing of faction loyalty)
- absence of troops in province (should decrease only by increasing of faction loyalty)
- city was looted after conquest by new faction (should decrease every turn)
- crushing defeat suffered by new owner faction anywhere (should decrease every turn)
- any province was lost by new owner faction (should decrease every turn)
- new war with previous owner faction (should decrease every turn)
- other faction declared war on new owner faction (should decrease every turn)
- enemy army within territory of new owner faction (should decrease every turn)
- new owner faction became vassal of other faction (should decrease only by increasing of faction loyalty)
- change of leader of new owner faction (should decrease every turn)
- some traits (that applied to unloyal provinces only) of leader of new owner faction
- some traits (that applied to unloyal provinces only) of characters present in province
- some random events (e.g. rude actions by officials, spreading of rebellious ideas by local philosopher, etc.)
Small negative public order should not produce rebellions. With –1 to –3 public order there should be only decrease of tax income and small stacks of bandits (basic rebel units) on roads. Higher negative points should cause further decrease of tax income and rebellions.
The number of rebelling units in province should correspond to number of troops that this province could provide (e.g. if province has 15000 citizens and can provide 15 units of troops, then total number of rebel units in this province should not be more then 15 units too). The higher is negative level of public order the more rebel units should appear (e.g. –5 public order could produce 5-9 units, -10 public order could produce 10-15 units). Rebelling units should correspond to set of military buildings in province (e.g. if there are barracks and stables in city, rebels could have both infantry and cavalry; if there is only barracks, rebels could have only infantry units; if there is no any military buildings in city, rebels could have only basic infantry units). Rebels should have only those units that could be hired in province (e.g. if you can hire katana samurai but not no-dachi samurai, rebels could have katanas only). Total number of rebelled citizens should be subtract from local population (e.g. if there are 15000 citizens in province and army of 500 rebel warriors appeared in this province, then 500 citizens should be subtract from population of this province). If rebel army was bribed and disappeared, then number of warriors in this army should be returned to local population.
If faction loyalty in province is less then two thirds (or less then 70%), then rebels should always be supporters of previous owner of province. Their main task should be to capture regional city and return province to previous owner or reemerge that faction if it was already destroyed. If faction loyalty is less then 51%, rebelling units should always appear in city itself (if it is not occupied by army) and thus immediately return province to previous owner. These rebels could be allies of previous owner faction or just part of its troops.
If faction loyalty is more then two thirds (or more then 70%), then rebels could be either supporters of previous owner or just rebels. Or supporters of default faction for this province (like rebels in S2TW).
Provinces with faction loyalty less then 51% should also suffer some penalties. For example, units hired in such provinces could be untrustworthy for some turns (e.g. 10-20 turns). They could rebel or turn to enemy side (to previous owner faction) if left unsupported by loyal troops or loyal troops are in minority. And they could turn to enemy side right before battle (when two armies cross swords on strategy map). If they turn to enemy side, such units in enemy army should be changed to corresponding type of units for that faction (e.g. sword units should be changed to sword units, spear units - to spear units, basic units - to basic units, elite units – to elite units). Chance of betrayal actions by such units should decrease every turn until total disappearance when these units will become trusted.
Other penalties for unloyal provinces could be decrease of tax income or increase of buildings construction time. Number of garrison troops in such provinces could be decreased or even absent in very unloyal regions.
Certainly there should be civil wars. They could happen after death of faction leader if new leader has low influence or/and some negative traits that make him unrespectable. A highly influential and ambitious general from ruling dynasty could proclaim himself alternative faction leader and start civil war. Random set of provinces, troops and characters should join alternative leader. Player could decide at which side to continue game (such feature was in first Medieval iirc). There should be other factors to increase chance of civil war:
- new leader was not the eldest son of previous leader
- potential leader of revolt is brother of old or new faction leader
- faction is quite large (e.g. 20 and more provinces)
- there are some provinces with negative public order (expect provinces where faction loyalty is less then 51%)
- faction is not in war with other factions, except rebels
- some random events (e.g. alternative leader was inspired and supported by other faction)
Provinces with negative public order (except those where faction loyalty is less then 51%) should always join alternative faction leader. Lot of positive points (enthusiasm for supporting alternative leader) should be temporary added to public order in these provinces.
If leader of one party dies (by natural causes, assassinated or killed in battle), then leader of other party should became ruler of united faction. If both leaders die in same battle, then new leader should be chosen and unite faction.
There could be also dilemma event if current faction leader is quite old and low influenced, but his heir is younger and more influenced. There could be plot against old leader and player could be asked if he wants to depose old leader or punish unloyal heir.
Mercenary system (for related games) could be changed and attached to population too. Mercenaries are foreign people whom you can hire for military service. So it should not be possible to hire mercenaries among your own citizens (what’s the point in giving additional payment to somebody if you can just have him as common levy in your regular army?). Thus it should be possible to hire mercenaries from abroad only. There were certain regions famous as source of mercenaries in different periods of history (e.g. Numidia and Libya in Antiquity, Aragon and Scandinavia in Middle Ages, Ireland and Germany in Renaissance, etc.). If you border or trade with faction that own such region, then in your border or port provinces you can hire mercenaries available for corresponding region (special button for hiring mercenaries could be placed right to unit recruitment slots in your city). But if you own such region yourself, you cannot hire any mercenaries from this region. Though there could be multiple provinces available for certain type of mercenaries (e.g. medieval Aragonese mercenaries could be hired from provinces of Barcelona, Saragosa and Valencia).
Mercenaries could be also hired by your general in corresponding province (if this province does not belong to your faction).
Cost of hire and replenishment rate of mercenary unit should correspond to diplomatic relations with faction that own “mercenary source” region. Friendly relations will decrease cost and increase replenishment, war will hugely increase cost and make replenishment almost stopped.
Number of mercenaries available from certain province should be lesser than number of military units that this province can provide – about 30% of it (e.g. if province can provide 15 units, it would be possible to hire 5 mercenary units here). Hired mercenaries should not affect recruitment of troops from this province, but number of hired warriors should be subtracted from local population. If all available mercenary units in region were hired by any faction, than it should not be possible for anybody else to hire any more units from this province until current units will be disbanded or annihilated in battle, or until population level will provide more units for hire.
If you disband mercenary unit there should be three random consequences of this action:
- mercenaries will settle within your faction (number of warriors in disbanded unit will be added to population of province where they were disbanded)
- mercenaries will return home (number of warriors in disbanded unit will be added to population of province where they were hired from)
- mercenaries will riot
If faction became bankrupt, all mercenaries at its service should riot. Some of them could become loyal again if faction return to positive income later.
I hope that ideas described above would make game more interesting.
P.S. There's also list of features I posted in special thread on forum.