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Grand strategy in Kaiserpunk

Overseer Games

22. tra 2024.

Check out the second gameplay pillar in Kaiserpunk: the Grand Strategy

The what now? Why would you do that?

Grand strategy. Why not? We like both city builders and strategies... So... why not mix them both and create something new 😉. There are a lot of CBs with exploration, expeditions, some form of out-of-city trade and that's great and we love that. Hell, our previous games had some form of those mechanics, but we wanted more. Something to give you a much bigger purpose by itself. So, we said: total global domination through tactics-ridden warfare and logistics mechanics spanning the entire globe right down to your capital. You know... never reach too far 😊.

How hardcore is it?

We've expanded the grand strategy gameplay by A LOT when comparing it to the original plan, but let's be honest, if you're expecting Hearts of Iron... don't. This isn't it. We're mixing genres, not literally making two full massive games as one. It's also NOT Total war. You won't be arranging royal marriages or passing on your rule to your descendants. Full grand strategies have that covered nicely. Our approach is lighter. There are, however, a bunch of things you can do on the global map (and a lot of it will usually be combat :D), so don't worry. We feel we've struck a good balance of mechanics, and it'll be up to the players to say how successful we were 😉.

I don't want the grand strategy part if it's just slapped on and barely hanging by a thread

That makes two of us. We haven't gone into this half-arsed. Every feature in Kaiserpunk is carefully curated, weighed and measured so it improves the game and, more importantly, fits well. We've paid special attention to the gameplay link between CB and GS. It must feel natural, be fun and engaging without becoming a burden or overwhelming. Additionally, playing the game must be fluid. I'd be the first to flip if there was a loading screen every time I wanted to go from my capital onto the world map. There's no loading, no hiccups, no weird wait right there until I load up some stuff first. Your capital and the entire global map work under the same rules and in the same timeline. If time passes in your capital, it does the same in the world. Period.

What is it you actually do on the world map?

Phew boy... where to start...

The basis is that you conquer regions and use them for resources and manpower. To do that, you assemble armies, move them across the globe and attack enemy regions. You'll also be able to construct region upgrades to boost some aspects like resource yield, immigration, region defenses, infrastructure to help your armies move through the region faster etc.. Stories (a lot more complex events) can appear both in your city and on the global map. To resolve stories on the global map, you'll usually(!) require an army to be present in the region, although there will be stories that simply require you to make a choice. In essence it is that simple. The complexity comes from how you can do these things.

I wanna hear more about the strategic part, the tactics. Don't give me a simple numbers game

There are a bunch of different elements factored into each battle.

  • Army type – Do you really expect to drop bombers from the skies using artillery? Yeah... think again.

  • Army composition – Each type of army has its own set of unit types (your armies are your choice of course). Battalions consist of infantry, artillery and tanks. Fleets consist of smaller, faster ships and larger, hulking ones. Squadrons consist of fighters and bombers.

  • Region terrain – All regions offer bonuses and/or penalties for certain unit types, depending on terrain type. Using bombers in a mountain region won't do much but utilizing them by carpet bombing plains... yeah... different story altogether.

  • Direction of assault – Attacking Western Europe (France for example) from Central Europe (let’s say Germany) is not the same as attacking it from The Apennines (crossing the Alps). Especially if you factor trenches into it. Battalions can be upgraded with a special ability (engineers) to build trenches along a border which drastically improves the region’s defenses from that direction.

  • Unit experience – Each unit in an army gains experience and stat boosts.

  • Army general experience – Each army has a commanding officer who gains experience and unlocks special passive traits (player gets to choose so they can specialize armies for specific battle terrains or other factors).

  • Army supply status – Lacking supplies slaps brutal battle stat penalties.

  • There are more factors, but these are the most important ones. Combat will be covered in greater detail in a special devblog dedicated to that topic specifically, since it’s a large topic.

It is important to note here that we aim specifically to avoid RNG results. For a zoomed in, tactical X-Com like game it works well (I know… I know… we all missed an alien with 99% accuracy while standing right next to him, but let’s not go into that now). Combat, battles in Kaiserpunk are an affair of strategy and big picture tactics. It comes down to planning and trying to anticipate, and better yet, provoking the enemy into doing certain actions so you can execute your carefully planned 5-step plan of conquering 2 regions in an in-game month. In a way it’s almost like a game of chess.

That doesn’t mean everything is known far in advance. There are things you can know and things you cannot know. You can know the enemy’s army composition. You can know their units’ experience level (you’ve monitored them carefully). You can’t know the enemy army general’s traits, however. Maybe that nifty +30% infantry defense in urban areas will be nullified by a trait that the enemy general has. Also, when you’re for example attacking a region, you can’t know in advance how the region’s defenses will react exactly. The local garrison might be sent to halt your primary army, while the stationed defense army might go after your reinforcements… That you won’t know until the battle starts playing out.

Regions and their (in)stability

Regions, depending on what is happening there and in their immediate surroundings, have fluctuating stability. Wars, disasters, hostile armies, allied armies... it all impacts a region's stability in some way.

  • If the region has a border with a hostile region, its stability suffers a penalty.

  • If there is a hostile army in a neighboring region, its stability suffers a penalty.

  • Allied armies stationed in a region improve the region's stability.

  • Upgrades, like the Propaganda bureau, increase a region's stability.

  • Battles taking place in a region drastically reduces the region's stability.

  • Stories and events can also impact a region's stability, both positively and negatively

Stability is very important, because unstable regions come with potentially severe penalties. Resource yield is reduced, immigration from the region slows down (which directly impacts the workforce in your capital) etc... If a region suffers prolonged instability, it can revolt, completely halting any resource exploitation. And at the most drastic end, a region can openly rebel and separate. When this happens, the region can go solo or even join a neighboring faction (which could be hostile to you).

It is no wonder then that you can easily expect other factions to use this against you. They could be spending resources to cause problems in your territory and instigate rebellions. Naturally, that also means you can do the same 😊. This, again, is of note. Destabilizing regions belonging to other factions: perfectly valid. They won’t like it, but technically, you didn’t start a war. Maybe you can provoke them into starting it? Or maybe you can actually flip the region, so it joins you? It’s all available as an option. The aim of Kaiserpunk is to create the world, apply the ruleset and then allow the players maximum freedom in trying out various approaches and tactics.

What about logistics? Do army supplies just magically appear?

There's nothing magical about it, unless you love fiddling with logistics lines like we do, then it's pure magic. Indeed, your armies require supplies. If they don't get their supplies in time, their stock will gradually deplete, and their supply state will also gradually drop. Poorly supplied or, even worse, armies completely without supplies are severely ineffective in combat. So much so that it is better not to come close to combat with an unsupplied army. They'll be minced meat in no time. Even the most experienced armies.

Armies are supplied from either the capital region directly, or from the nearest outpost. Provided the outpost has the needed resources (and the amounts needed of course). If not, the army will look to the second nearest outpost and so on. Resources need to be brought to outposts so they can dispense them. For that, the outpost must be connected to the capital region or another outpost (if you're transferring resources from one outpost to another). If the connection is severed (because let's say, Prussia cut your territory in half), no supplies are coming, and your armies will have to make do with what is available. Infrastructure and railways make transport faster, so outposts are filled up more quickly.

And, of course, it’s on you to produce or procure in some way all the resources needed by your armies. The bulk is produced in your city-state, your capital, though you will be able to acquire resources from the other regions as well.

All of this was mostly for land armies... what's up with the airforce? I've seen screenshots; don't lie to me.

Airforce squadrons, your air armies, are assembled in the same fashion as battalions. Instead of Factories and Tank factories to produce armament, you'll use Aircraft factories. And instead of Military bases, you'll use Airbases to assemble Squadrons. That part is basically the same.

Controlling squadrons, moving them around... that's a different story. Unlike battalions that move from region to region, squadrons do not move around. They can only be transferred from airbase to airbase and squadrons can only be deployed into regions that have an airbase upgrade already built (and unoccupied of course). Transferring a squadron takes time, just like deployment of any army.

Once deployed to an airbase, however, a squadron has a wider area of operation than any other type of army. Squadrons can attack, or join a battle, that is 2 steps away. To explain more clearly, if a battalion can only move and attack a neighboring region, squadrons can attack targets 2 regions away (neighbor and neighbor of neighbor). This makes squadrons very potent and powerful but be careful: region garrisons have an entire section dedicated to air defenses which can be improved significantly.

Squadron units come in two types: bombers and fighters. The type names should give you a clue what they are good for...

And the navy? Anything special about managing naval fleets?

Indeed, there is something special. Navy fleets can only move across water (of course). To be more precise, fleets use a separate naval movement grid, points surrounding landmasses and crossing oceans. When these points are situated near land, fleets can bombard points on the land (armies, upgrades, garrison...).

Fleets are also used for specific tasks, like transferring battalions across the seas and oceans. It's pretty hard to think about the periods of World War 1 and 2 and NOT think of D-Day. Transferring battalions using fleets and making landfall into enemy territory can be really tricky and difficult, but sometimes it's your best option, especially if you mayhap soften the landing by first bombarding the local garrison and stationed army.

One of the key elements we want both the player and the AI to be able to do is implement naval blockades. This was (and is actually) commonly used as a strategy. Breaking through naval blockades will be immensely fun and rewarding on its own. Of course, this means that a whole new battle layer awaits when two (or more) fleets meet on the high seas to duke it out.

That's a lot of sections on fighting and being badass. Anything else you can do? Something less bloody?

Sure thing. Diplomacy is always an option. Seeing as Kaiserpunk is all about (well, not all, but a lot about) production, you conduct diplomacy also through or facilitated by production. Simple trading with another faction will increase your economic relationship, your economic bond. The more you trade (both ways), the better the relationship. After enough trade volume is achieved, you'll automatically sign an economic agreement. And that is, let's say, repeated several times with each level strengthening your economic relationship. The first agreement for example makes it possible to trade using your currency (cash). Until that point, that faction won't accept your currency. It means nothing to them; it has no value. You must trade goods like in the good 'ol days. But once the first agreement is signed, you can use your cash in trading, both to sell and buy resources. Opens a whole new world of possibilities.

Military cooperation (in the sense of diplomacy) is achieved by fulfilling tasks granted/given/requested by the other factions (tasks of the military kind) and by trading military goods or outright donating military equipment. And finally, you can improve your cooperation in the science fields. This is a simple matter of exchanging some of your research points for theirs (in different fields of course). Be careful though, since you'll be boosting someone else at your development expense... Are you sure they can be trusted not to stab you in the back?

Once you reach a sufficient level in all diplomatic categories, you'll be able to start several tasks/quests that will result in your two nations combining into one. Well, you're the player, so you'll absorb that faction. This effectively takes the faction off the playing board, and you gain most or some of its territory. A part of their territory (some of their regions) will have some grievances and will either form a new faction or dissipate into neutral territories.

You mentioned trade... What about it?

Ah yes, trade. There are two types of trading in Kaiserpunk. One is low-volume „passive“ trading with passing ships or merchants travelling across the land. They periodically arrive at your tradeports, airports and markets and conduct some small business. It can help, but don't rely on this too much. The volume is simply too low. It's helpful, but not a deal changer.

Real trade is done through trade deals. These you have to sign with the other factions. Trade deals require trade buildings (tradeport, market, airport) since the needed transport is handled through these buildings. Trade deals take time to flesh out, agree upon, sign and implement. And usually, they take the form similar to over the course of the next year, we will send you X amount of resource A, while you will send us Y amount of resource B every week. As noted, trade deals take time, because these goods are transported across the world map. Trade lines can be severed, intercepted and pillaged. Infrastructure and railway region upgrades also influence how fast/well trade deals are handled.

Any AI controlled factions?

Absolutely! It wouldn't be much fun without them. Currently, there is a maximum of 7 AI factions doing their thing in the world. Their alignment towards the player relies on a number of different factors and it will be impossible to be on excellent terms with all of them at the same time, since they have quarrels of their own to settle. Precisely what factions will be in your playthrough is randomized. The pool of potential factions is significantly larger than 7. Whether or not all those in the pool remain is still a matter of debate. The key element we want to achieve here is for all the potential factions in the game are visibly different when it comes to their behavior, otherwise we'd only be left with a faction name and that's just fluff. In any case, a maximum of 7 are picked from this pool and placed in the world. AI factions are allowed and able to do everything the player does (conquer, upgrade regions, improve garrisons, create armies etc..).

Each of these factions has its own heritage. This usually, or basically as a rule, shows the historical link to an area or a real historical country. You won't be able to find a small Ottoman faction in Australia for example.

In the beginning of the game, most of the global territory is controlled by no-one. This doesn't mean you can simply waltz into a region. There are locals who won't look upon your imperialism fondly. These minor factions do not expand their territory, but they can get stronger, in a military sense. Something akin to city-states in Civilization V.


There's a whole lot going on in the grand strategy segment of Kaiserpunk. The above is really just a part of it all. We'll have a lot more to talk about in the near future, but for now, we'll focus on the next blog in line: Production.

Until next time,

Overseer Games

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