Kingdoms places a strong emphasis on the development of the regions within your nation, each boasting a diverse population in terms of culture and religion. Alongside this, a vast array of infrastructures and a plethora of buildings are available to steer the economic and societal development in the direction you desire.
Indeed, this is one of the strong suits of Kingdoms, setting it apart from many other games. Even in times of peace, you will always have dozens of interesting choices to make within your realm, as the game offers no less than 600 different structures (no, that's not a typo!). Taking into account the different categories of buildings and their roles, the culture of each population, the various religions, and the numerous unique situations allowing for uncommon buildings, we indeed reach this high number, signaling a great diversity and almost certain renewal of the content in your gameplay. But let's delve into how all of this is structured...
At the core of the region, the economic unit, lies the population. These populations are defined by their social class, culture, and religion. Don't expect a peasant to fulfill the role of a noble, or a clergyman to till a field. Each population point, despite these constraints on who can work where, is somewhat of a wild card, as you can allocate it in various ways, slightly altering its production from turn to turn. However, the population also provides construction slots, each allowing for a building. There are several possible roles for these buildings, and some do a bit of everything, while others are specialized. Some have synergies with others, while dozens have small events attached, making them unique. In any case, there are a large number of interrelations between the game's concepts and therefore between buildings and populations, in a very organic and logical manner. For instance, the population requires food to grow, but also needs access to a healthcare system, however rudimentary, otherwise epidemics lurk. Similarly, loyalty to the Crown must be monitored, and while it's possible to ignore the problem for sparsely populated regions, those with larger populations will require a strong presence of the Clergy, or nobility, sometimes even the army, to prevent any possible revolts.
But regions are not isolated islands either. Kingdoms introduces the concept of National Authority and then Local Authority, the latter deriving from the former. This Local Authority serves as a basis for determining the loyalty of the region, and decreases progressively based on the distance of the region from the capital (posing problems for overly extended empires). Nevertheless, nobles, with their function of generating Stewardship points, can help solve this problem by maintaining a high level of Local Authority. The Clergy plays a somewhat similar role, but will be particularly useful either for converting the infidels to the True Faith or for convincing heretics, in various more or less unpleasant ways, to return to the fold.
Besides this, regions often have a military function, either defensive or offensive. On the defensive side, the game could not overlook one of the staples of the medieval period: castles and other fortified places. You probably know that castles of the time were built over a long period. Kingdoms represents this by allowing you to erect several structures over time that provide temporary bonuses as well as permanent Fortification points. Once you have accumulated enough of these Fortification points, a permanent defensive structure will be proposed. Thus, in the beginning, you will have the choice between a hill fort or perhaps a Motte and Bailey, but with time and effort, you will have the opportunity to build double-walled concentric castles, bristling with towers and caltrops.
On the offensive side, you will also need to put in some effort to be able to raise anything other than peasants and low-quality troops. Over time, you will then be able to raise archers, armed sergeants, and other knights. In this case, we are talking about permanent troops, and while they are powerful, losing them in battle is always a blow to your Authority! It's somewhat of a double-edged sword...
Let's conclude this brief tour of the regions of Kingdoms by citing a few examples of structures, so that you can appreciate the full diversity of the game's buildings, which are much more than mere providers of numerical bonuses!
The Manorial Demesne is a very important structure in Agriculture, as it is a pivot structure, unlocking the other half of Tier I structures. It also benefits from a productivity bonus for each other agricultural structure present.
The Demesne Expansion is a rather peculiar structure as it can be upgraded no less than 5 times, and provides a free slot each time! While initially a few peasants will suffice to clear the countryside, the later levels will require tools, a large population, and a determined local lord.
The Trade Road is a structure that can spontaneously appear if you have itinerant merchants in the region. Being itinerant, they move between your regions (and rarely into other nations' regions). Thus, over time and with many merchants, Trade Roads will appear in your Realm.
The Jousting Field is quite emblematic of the Middle Ages as well, as it will provide free XP to heavy cavalry units created, and can even give them a special unique perk.
The Astrologer (not to be confused with the Astronomer) engages in some esoteric studies, not very well seen by the Clergy, but it seems that he can occasionally create a very particular resource that we will call 'Luck'. It is said that this can prevent misfortunes befalling your characters or even your ruler, such as a sudden death during a hunt or an unfortunate arrow targeting them in battle. Certainly just rumors!
The King’s Agent allows for a discount on the promulgation of Edicts. These allow you to choose the structure of your choice to build in Kingdoms, which will certainly please players of Empires who didn't like the reshuffle button too much, as it has disappeared!
Here is a brief overview of population and economic development in Kingdoms. This is really just the tip of the iceberg, but we hope it will make you want to learn more!