Some Thoughts After 100 Hours- Army Building, Dialogue, Economy, Crafting and Clan Management

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I've been playing this game a ton, and absolutely love it! I'm a huge fan of the premise, and most of what the game does is excellent. There are a few hiccups, as one might expect, but mostly excellent content and mechanics. After about 100 hours in campaign I have a number of thoughts I want to put to paper and field to the devs, but it is difficult to separate them into concise threads in my mind because of the interconnected nature of all the game mechanics. So here are the things I wish were tweaked or overhauled that would bring this game from an 8/10 to a 10/10:

Army Building: I wish that troop trees and progression had a few minor tweaks, and one big change. The minor tweaks include making it easier to train low level troops outside of combat, and to make troops require new gear as they level. The gear would be in line with requiring horses for cavalry as they do now, except everyone requires their respective equipment, not just cavalry. This would enhance the economy in game by forcing every lord to buy the equipment for their troops from various towns, and give mining towns purpose beyond just arming nobles, it would also make it very clear what smithies contribute to the world and make them have better profits during wartime. This could use the weapons as they exist presently, but it may make more sense to create "kits" for each soldier type and tier which are crafted out of the requisite materials in cities that have smithies. That way it only takes one item in inventory to arm a soldier instead of needing to have a huge shopping list. I also think recruiting prisoners is silly, perhaps with a perk it could become available, or perhaps there should just be another way to use prisoners, such as negotiating for lords to back down from confrontation by threatening to execute them or by returning them to the enemy ranks. I think that the devs already know that archers need some tweaking, so I won't go too into detail about saying that archers need to be less dominant, a buff to armor or a nerf to archers seems to be in order from my perspective, but no need for an overhaul here. I also think mobile siege weapons should be something your army can carry and deploy in field battles, and that they could have built before beginning a siege, thus speeding up the siege, but dramatically slowing your campaign map movement. I also think you should be able to launch ships from villages, castles and cities that have harbors, and that some kind of water based battle should exist, even if it is just infantry based boarding actions, this would add options for map traversal, and create new dimensions of national power.

The major change I want to see is having troop trees linked to the person training them. Rather than getting an "imperial recruit" for example, you just get a "recruit" who can then be trained down any troop tree which the noble training him has access to. You can start the game with access to the mercenary troop trees, allowing you to train jack of all trades troops with high daily wages, and as you progress you unlock access to new troop trees for you and your clans parties which are specific to cultures or minor factions. I think implementing some sort of system where your clan has it's own currency much like influence would make a lot of sense for clan management as well, and could be used as the method for buying access to new troop trees, or perhaps just hiring expensive trainers into your party with denars would make more sense. This would give each lord more of an identity in battle, but more importantly would give you a stronger identity throughout your campaign, and give incentive for more playthroughs. You could still pick up troops of other cultures who have already started down their tree and keep them as auxiliaries, you would just be unable to set them on that path yourself without progressing into it. I also think that troops with differing cultures should hurt party morale, encouraging you to focus on a particular strategy while allowing small numbers of auxiliaries to open new tactics in a limited capacity. I think this would help flesh out faction identity and personal roleplaying a ton, and would lead well into a better clan management system if you developed a new influence-like currency for it.

Dialogue: Dialogue is my least favorite part of the game. It is too complicated and too simple all at once. the chances for critical fails and successes feel like they will add depth in theory, but they end up falling flat due to the ease with which you can save scum every check in the game, and truthfully the entire plan you have for a campaign can hinge on random chance in dialogue, so save scumming is what most people will do. I think your dialogue success should be linked to relevant skills, relationship to the target, your renown, your personality traits and the targets personality. I think that this is how it works presently, but I think chance should be removed completely, and if dialogue options are going to fail then they will always fail until one of those dialogue stats changes. I also think the dialogue needs to be less transparent, I want to be given dialogue options and think about which ones are most likely to resonate with the target and use my skills to the best of my ability, then choose them and see the results without being told what traits are at play or whether I will succeed or fail. I think something closer to the dialogue of Fallout 1 & 2 in it's level of transparency makes much more sense here. One of the primary advantages to removing chance from the dialogue would be making marriage a much bigger deal. No longer can I just reroll until I get my wife/husband of choice, I need to actually change the circumstances before the marriage is possible, which may force me to marry a less politically ideal candidate who is easier to persuade, or who I have interacted with more. Thus I cannot become the heir to a kingdom 30 days into the game because I save scum or get lucky on persuasion checks. This will also mean that persuading clans to join your faction will be more challenging, and actually require a great deal of calculated behavior from you over the course of a campaign. I also think you should be able to persuade clan members to oust their clan leader in favor of someone more amenable to you, but that is more on the subject of clan management than dialogue.

Economy: It's no secret that the economy seems to break in a new way every patch, this is all part of the process and not what I'm here to complain about, I'm confident you can make it function as intended over time. What I want to say is that I think it should be tough, but more importantly it should effect the way everyone fights. Villagers should never sell goods to foreign cities, even during peace as it is unrealistic and provides incentives for new wars due to resource shortages. Caravans can trade to foreign powers, but they do so at high risk of warfare disrupting their trade routes and at wildly inflated prices because they know that city in a foreign nation has a shortage of a particular item.

Every resource needs to feed a workshop, and every workshop needs to produce goods, and every good needs a workshop or village that produces it. Part of the issue with the economy as it stands is that there are some workshops that feel useless. Smithies seem to change nothing about whether a town has armaments, and even if it does that only allows lords to buy weapons, and doesn't effect armies, and jewelry coming from a silversmith has no function outside of trade runs, thus feeling artificially valuable, even though literally no one uses jewelry. Adding soldier kits, as I suggested above, or needing to buy gear to upgrade soldiers would enhance the economy greatly, and would make wartime have big impacts on economies throughout a nation.

Owning workshops should give you cheap or free access to the goods they produce, which would mean that you have incentive outside of profit to make your business successful, and you can monopolize the production to prevent other lords from using your smithy to arm their troops for example. You also need to be able to expand workshop space in a city you control to allow for more or fewer workshops in a given city. It also makes sense that once you control a village you are able to direct, or perhaps persuade with a new dialogue system, the notables in that village to deliver their goods to a particular settlement that you prefer.

Crafting: Crafting is mostly just too grindy, but I think the devs already understand this, and I also think they intend to add armor crafting as well, and I sure hope they do, because it's very necessary to make the system worthwhile, especially if armor receives a buff to lessen the effect of archers. My only real addition to crafting is one that goes hand in hand with troop tweaks, make kits for each type and tier of soldier which can be crafted, then spent to equip troops, making it cheaper to craft military equipment than it would be to buy it.

Clan Management: There are obvious UI tweaks that I won't bother getting into here, as I'm sure they have been suggested by many other people, but there are a few bigger tweaks I would love to see. More companions is a big one, we just get a little too few as is, and we have lots of positions to fill, and it sort of makes combat focused companions feel like a waste of valuable companion slots. Part of the reason I think we will need more is because I think there should be more clan roles available, and that each clan role should level 2 non-combat skills at a time rather than one. I think the idea of a quartermaster, engineer, scout and medic should all be converted to being purely party roles rather than clan roles, this would create a need for more companions to have more effective parties, rather than single companion parties roaming around. I also think we should have true clanwide roles, such as making one person clan leader, another a clan enforcer, a spymaster, a caravan master etc. where they could provide benefits based on relevant skills to every party in the clan, not just their own party.

The next thing I would like to see is troops rising to companionship over time. This would allow a diverse skill set to come from a culturally specific group that would be better suited to ruling fiefs with the same culture, and making me feel more attached to my companions by having them become heroes alongside me and truly accompany me on a very specific journey instead of just hearing about their lives before I met them. I also think wanderers should have quests associated with them to increase their loyalty and add depth to their characters.

I also think there should be some sort of influence-like currency that is just for clans, which would allow you to do similar things, just on a clan-scale instead of a national one. Such as calling your clans banners into an army, instead of calling other clans, which would make founding your own kingdom more viable because you could actually get a reasonable number of troops without being a vassal. Perhaps this currency could also be used to buy access to troop trees for your clan, thus giving your clan a more firm identity versus other clans in the same faction. This system could also be used to implement changes in authority within npc clans and to create more realistic intra-family politics in the game.

This next one isn't 100% about clan management, but has a big impact on family. Time should be the same as real life, 365 days in a year with 12 months and 24 hour days. The way it works now is just confusing, and it makes many things about the game feel strange, particularly the speed that children grow up and the short amount of time seasons last. If you need to make days quicker in game time without reducing movement speed, that's fine, Calradia will just feel bigger! I know this can throw a kink in food and wage management, but that's why I think it should be done sooner rather than later, and I think it will be worth the effort in time when the game just makes more sense and plays by more realistic rules, which seems to be the goal to me.

Finally I think family should be a bigger focus in clans. I'm sure this is going to happen when the quest to find your family gets more fully fleshed out, but I just want to say I think most of your clan ought to be family rather than companions, as that's how the npc clans function, and your companions are less able to cement political alliances than family members, but have other roles they excel in that family members may fall short in.

Thanks for reading, and know that I'm thrilled to see the polished final product no matter what you do, I'm just trying to bump an 8 or 9 to a 10.