War is never far away in Kingdoms, for even if you do not wish to instigate it yourself, preferring to expand peacefully through diplomatic means or focus on improving your realm (which in itself is a viable winning strategy in Kingdoms, as victory is achieved through accumulating Legacy points), chances are some of your neighbors see things differently... And even without such a neighbor, you might find yourself embroiled in a Crusade, Jihad, or facing a nation growing too dangerous and on the verge of victory and thus in need of a 'corrective' action.
These factors make it clear that in Kingdoms, even in times of peace (perhaps especially in peace!), preparation for the next war is crucial. This entails numerous aspects to plan and anticipate.
Firstly, a nation with a king of strong Authority is desirable to reduce the risks of sedition and revolts. This also enables the sovereign to lead on the battlefield, magnifying the consequences of victory by earning more Warscore points, which are essential for negotiating favorable terms once peace is restored.
Furthermore, the art of war involves establishing fortifications, ranging from humble keeps to mighty double-walled castles, with intermediate variations depending on your culture and religion: Motte-and-bailey, Trelleborg, Qasada, etc. These defenses offer multiple benefits, the primary being protection for your troops behind walls, along with various recruitment advantages, sometimes even granting additional perks to certain troops.
Once this is achieved, depending on the military building infrastructure you possess, you can recruit various units more or less quickly (and in greater or smaller numbers). Recruitment ease depends on the presence of nobles, spear makers, armor smiths, training grounds, and many others. Quantity is determined by your treasury and metal stock for the SAUs (Standing Army Units) like knights, but for levies, a substantial population is required. Here's hoping you have many villages and towns within your kingdom.
In Kingdoms, units, besides the usual categories like heavy cavalry, infantry, archers, have an additional parallel classification: Mercenary, Standing Army Unit (permanent unit akin to professional), Levy or Volunteer. This grants them a completely different behavior and profile, as levies gain little experience and are relatively costly to maintain, so you may want to disband them in times of peace. SAUs have the opposite profile: they gain experience well, are costly initially, and any loss will decrease your Authority (it's better to avoid losing the cream of your cavalry or shall I say, as a French 'la fine fleur'!).
Mercenaries have other advantages and disadvantages. Quickly recruited, especially through a Regional Decision allowing mass recruitment, they are costly in gold to maintain, and can foster treacheries if commanded by a disloyal general. You might think to disband them when no longer needed, but then expect marauders in your lands. Of course, our testers will advise releasing them into the wild, but on enemy soil, just before peace. A kind of 'Not in my backyard' variant, so to speak.
The army lists of Field of Glory Medieval are honored in Kingdoms, as each nation closely follows these lists, divided into three time periods. For instance, as early period Byzantines, you'll have access to Skoutatoi Archers, but will have to wait until the third period to recruit heavy lancers. Fear not, these periods are not set in stone, as based on your military reforms and overall military expertise, you can advance these periods by a few years, say up to 25 if you excel in the military field.
When your armies are ready to march, it's time to appoint generals, considering their offensive and defensive tactical skills, loyalty (spy on them to ensure it), and whether they have relevant and suitable abilities. Sometimes this is easier said than done, and you'll have to make do with what you have. Whatever the case, don't appoint your psychopathic uncle with a loyalty of 30 at the helm of a mercenary army, unless of course, you believe a necessary wind of change should sweep through your kingdom.
Soon, the time will come to clash with the adversary, after some fine operational maneuvers.
Kingdoms being a game of simultaneous turn-based play, expect some surprises, as you can't be certain that during your turn, the enemy will stay put where you expect them to. But let's hope that luck, coupled with your tactical sagacity, will allow you to triumph on the battlefield.
We'll delve into this more in a future Developer Diary, focusing on the battlefield, castle sieges, and peace conditions!