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An indie strategy game from Jon Shafer, designer of Civ 5. You are a dark age lord trying to replace the crumbling Roman Empire. Manage your clans, explore the landscape around you, harvest its resources, and build a mighty economic and military machine.
An indie strategy game from Jon Shafer, designer of Civ 5. You are a dark age lord trying to replace the crumbling Roman Empire. Manage your clans, explore the landscape around you, harvest its resources, and build a mighty economic and military machine.
3,009 backers pledged $106,283 to help bring this project to life.

May 2018 Update - Playtest Report 2

Posted by Jon Shafer (Creator)

Hey all!

Back from a trip to Japan to relax a bit while the weather is improving. This update and the one which follows will continue the playtest report we began in the April 2018 update and conclude with me triumphantly founding my kingdom (spoiler alert!). From then on the updates will shift back over to describing recent progress on the game.


March 5 Group Game Playtest - Turn Log Part 2

Where we left off.
Where we left off.

44 … Bayan of the Avars and Attila of the Huns both pop up asking me to stay away from their territory, and I promptly tell both to take a hike. [This behavior comes from the old diplomatic system and will be replaced in the new system.] Clan Askan is now producing Stone Blocks from Coal… well, sort of. They will once they have enough Coal, anyways. Right now they want to produce 2 Stone Blocks from 3 Coal every turn, but Clan Ulfert is only producing 2 Coal per turn, so I need to get another Coal Maker online. Will have to wait until the Woodworks is up and running though. Nothing to train this turn, but a new clan shows up next turn so it's a good opportunity to move my settlement to the east and get it into position for that Woodworks, so I pack up. I wake Clan Ingel (Archer) up from garrison duty to the SE and move them onto the berries, making sure my move is protected.

45 … Clan Waldemar joins me, and they're Reclusive and Leperous. The latter trait reduce the 'Mood' of all other clans on the tile by 1 (making them less productive and more likely to get upset), so shifting them out of the settlement and into some kind of active profession is probably for the best. [The personality and mood aspects of clans are something I plan on taking more advantage of in the future. Right now it's mostly a secondary feature with a lot of potential, as most of clan management at the moment is focused on economics.] I decide to move the settlement down one tile beneath the berries, as that allows me to add the unknown animal to my control as well. Maybe Waldemar can do something there… Hmmm. Not many other active Professions on the horizon, so let's give it a shot. I change my research efforts from Spearmen over to Livestock, and start training Waldemar in the Discipline in order to give them a head start. Making them into Trappers will allow me to start building up a stockpile of Parchment I can use to found my kingdom. I also shift Clan Ewout (Archer) down from their dug-in position in the woods to the north, as they're now outside my control and vulnerable to supply loss.

46 … I give Clan Waldemar 2 levels in Livestock, then start training Clan Warren in Honor in order to prepare them for becoming Spearmen down the road.

One clan's traits can affect the other clans on the tile.
One clan's traits can affect the other clans on the tile.

47 … March … Warm again! Nothing to train this turn since I won't have Trappers researched until next turn. Definitely need to add some kind of alternate way of spending your settlement's turn, as it's no fun to have to completely skip it. We're now down to producing only 1.3 food per turn, so before next year we're going to have to start prioritizing my food production. There's a fair bit of wheat around, so investing in that direction probably makes sense, even after my current two farms are exhausted.

48 … First caravan of the year shows up, and I have 53 wealth to spend. Lo and behold, it has 10 warhorses for sale, at 5 wealth each. Think I might make Clan Warren into Lancers rather than Spearmen! Going to take a while to get them online though, so it might make sense to have Warren do something else in the meantime - could make them Hunters and collect some food or survey some animals. Probably for the best right now. As cool as Lancers are they're not really a major GAME priority right now given my lack of true enemies. I sell the two horses I captured from the bandit camp and buy 5 coal for 10 wealth in order to keep my Brickmaker busy. I also decide to send Clans Ingel and Einar (Archers) to besiege the bandit camp to the NW, and leave Clan Ewout in the east to defend my tribe.

49 … New Clan Roehl arrives - they are Nomadic and Wasteful, giving them levels in Livestock, an extra move, 3 free horses, and a 10% penalty to resource production. Hmmm. Well, they'll still be acceptable as Coal Makers, I suppose. In the meantime I decide to spend the turn training Clan Warren as Hunters.

50 … Clan Warren is sent to the Unknown Animal herd to the west first, as I'll switch them over to hunting the big herd of Deer during the winter when my Wheat Farms shut down. Clan Waldemar (Trappers) starts identifying the herd of animals already within my control (borders). Clans Ingel and Einar (Archers) begin the siege of the bandit camp to the NW, which I can hopefully finish before winter. I start training Clan Roehl as Coal Makers.

51 … I finish researching Loggers, which Clan Habel (Wood Collectors) will be retrained as once they finish their last forage tile. That's it for this turn. 2 turns until a new Clan arrives, 3 until the next Caravan.

52 … Starting to wonder what I might want to do with Clan Ottokar (Wood Bundlers), as they'll need a new Profession after Clan Habel switches jobs. Could use them to produce even more Stone Blocks, and really go heavy down that road [this sort of thing will be much easier in future versions of the game when there will be a lot more Clan upgrades available]. Let's try it out and see what happens!

53 … June … New Clan Adalbert has joined the tribe - they're Adventurous (ANOTHER one!) and Adaptable. Might make sense for them to build a level 2 Farm on one of the remaining Wheat tiles near me. I add a note to their clan card and move on.

54 … Caravan arrives and we're up to 62 Wealth, which I promptly use to buy up all of the available Weapons, bringing me up to 12 - enough for my Lancer with a bit left over to get a head start on expanding my control somewhere as well. I also purchase the 5 available Coal, a handful of Parchment and a handful of Cloth. [I'm starting to realize that with so much money my options at the caravan are fairly limited - it might make sense to allow the caravan to be "upgraded" by spending Wealth or such, just so there are more options available later in the game.] Clan Waldemar (Trappers) finds a second herd of Sheep, which I decide to turn into Cloth for now, as we're still a ways away from needing Parchment to establish my kingdom. I realize I need Tools in order to train my Farmer, so I open the caravan back up, sell off my 3 Horses and buy up 6 Tools. Woops. Well, that won't be as necessary in the future once the Professions are redesigned a bit and all tier 1 professions (like the Farmer) won't cost anything to train. Not something I can rely on in this playthrough though!

I found something productive for the shunned Clan Waldemar to do.
I found something productive for the shunned Clan Waldemar to do.

55 … Need to start thinking more about my future food sources. This should be a lot easier under the new design, as right now one of my best options is to construct a level 2 Wheat Farm and add an Apprentice to it… but that currently requires 20 Boards and 10 Alcohol, which is a huge expense at this point in the game. A Bread Maker is another option, but only adds +5 Wheat per Farm, which is less than double, and with only one Wheat Farm compared with my current 2 just keeps me running in place, rather than serving as a long-term solution. I decide to make an ad-hoc tweak to increase the bonus to +8 and the cost from +1 Timber to +2 Timber to help keep the game moving, and make this my strategy. This will tax my Woodworks even more, and I also reduce the Apprentice cost by half. No actual in-game decisions to make this turn though! I have an opportunity to take a shot at the weakened Bandit Camp this turn, but decide to wait a bit longer to ensure I take zero casualties.

56 … And of course a new Bandit spawns, meaning I have to delay my assault a few more turns. Ah well. Nothing else to do this turn either.

57 … Clan Warren (Hunter) identifies more sheep to the west, and I send them towards the large herd of Deer to the NW of my settlement. I finish researching Lancers, and decide to start on Bakers, an upgraded version of the Bread Maker which requires 10 Stone Blocks and 2 Coal every turn but provides a massive +20 bonus to Wheat Farms. Next turn Clan Habel (Wood Collector) finishes their final Forest forage task, so I have a bit of a bridge turn to spend on something. I don't have a good need for my Lorekeeper any more (not great, but a problem that should be solved with the new Professions), so I decide to switch Clan Ahlert's Discipline over to Metalworking, as they can eventually help me make more Coal from Timber. Clan Adelbert (newly-trained Farmer) heads west to start surveying Plants, as there's not much need for a Farmer just yet (plus, they're Adventurous, so +1 movement!). My new Bandit friend has left his camp to head west (saw the writing on the wall?) so I swoop in for the kill, but hold off on pillaging the camp until my other friend is dealt with (this is when having the option to pillage or not after capturing a camp is really nice, as pillaging gives you a big defensive penalty).

58 … The bandit attacks, and inflicts a small amount of damage but is nearly wiped out in the process. I finish the job immediately afterwards, and my western flank is now fully secured! Clan Adalbert (Farmer) takes advantage of this and continues westward. My first (and large) Wheat Farm finally runs out, and my food consumption switches over into the red - not normally what you want to see in August! I begin switching Clan Habel over to become Loggers.

59 … September … Clan Ivo (Vigorous, +1 Move, and Reclusive, prefers active professions) joins the tribe. I don't know what to do with them yet, but probably something out on the map. I have a few clans to keep busy with though, so I don't need to figure out a role for them just yet. I spend the turn leveling them up in Metalworking though, as there's nothing more pressing right at this moment - having them become an Apprentice for the Gold Mine seems quite appealing. I'll now hit my popcap in 6 turns, so I go ahead and spend 10 Cloth to increase it, and switch Clan Waldemar (Trappers) over to foraging for Parchment. Clan Adalbert (Farmer) proceeds further west towards the collection of unknown plants around where I expect to found my kingdom.

60 … NOOOOOOO! Bandit Riders appear from the SW and steal Clan Adalbert (Farmer) from me. So much for having a secure frontier. I scramble all of my Archers and begin marching them towards the raiders, hoping I can save Adalbert before they suffer a terrible fate. Fortunately, the fast Clan Ingel is within range to swoop behind the horsemen and restore control of Adalbert, but they're outmatched. Clan Einar has finished pillaging the Bandit Camp to the NW, and moves a couple tiles away. I recall Clan Ewout from the far eastern frontier, but it's going to be a while before they're of any help. They might be needed to hold off the riders though should they continue eastward, rather than engage my other two Archers. I start packing up the Settlement in order to position it for building the new Wheat Farm after starting on the Woodworks next turn. Good timing! At the caravan I purchase a plethora of goods, including Alcohol, Coal, Boards, and Timber.

The delicate situation I end this report facing.
The delicate situation I end this report facing.


That's it for now. The conclusion to our story will come here in a couple weeks in the June update. 'Til then!

- Jon

milehiguy, Linda Shafer, and 10 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      clayffo on

      @ Peter thank you for your criticism. I will make sure it is filed in the circular file along with Jon’s .

      As a contributor I absolutely have a right to comment and expect accountability

      Again all Jon has to do is be honest and fulfill his own clearly stated promises from this year and I won’t need to say anything .

    2. Missing avatar

      Peter on

      @Clayffo: I don't think your contributions to these updates are as useful as you seem to think they are. I have as many bones to pick with Jon about his handling of his project as the next backer, but at the end of the day it is *his* project. If your goal here is to contribute fruitfully to the games' development--and I think that goal is admirable--you might reconsider your overall tone.

      @Jon: Thanks for the update, and for continuing to stick with this project. I'm not as concerned about the development time as others here seem to be: if it is good when it comes out, I'll be happy. However, that's not to say I'm blind to some of the potential costs of such a long development time, cheif among them the risk that certain aspects of the game will feel outdated upon release. Yes, I'm talking about the interface... it might have been serviceable for an indie game circa 2013 but nowadays even indies are held to a higher standard. Do you have any plans to bring someone on board (once the game nears release) to add polish to the interface/art direction?

    3. Jon Shafer Creator on

      It wasn't intended as an attack, and I apologize if that's how it came across.

      It's simply a fact that every game needs to balance both hardcore and more casual players. I'll be making plenty of changes aimed at the hardcore and focusing on balance soon - I just haven't done much on that front yet. You'll start seeing a lot of changes of this sort in the first July build/update.

      - Jon

    4. Missing avatar

      clayffo on

      I always appreciate the passive aggressive attacks against me. in appreciation of your most recent attack, I have posted a survey question on steam.

    5. Jon Shafer Creator on

      After the upcoming June update the next several will focus solely on what's been implemented recently.

      I'll be prioritizing incorporating external feedback soon. My work rhythm is better-suited to focusing on only one or two major tasks at a time, and recently that's been internal design analysis and the diplomacy system. Playtester feedback is vital, but it's equally vital for the designer to understand their own work, as pre-release playtesters, regardless of their background or preferences, have a much more hardcore relationship with the game than the average player. Both audiences are important, both deserve attention, and I'll be focusing a lot more on external feedback soon.

      That said, as I've noted before any contributor unhappy with the direction or progression of the game's development can email and request a refund of their contribution. If you're philosophically opposed to my approach then that's certainly your right, and I appreciate your past support all the same.

    6. Missing avatar

      John Rohde on

      Don’t know why I bother to read these updates. Trip to Japan? Must be nice. How much time do you spend working on this game with our money? At this point I cinsider this game vaporware. If it came out I doubt I’d even play it. And if I see this hucksters name associated with a game, I’ll steer clear as a matter of principle.

    7. Missing avatar

      clayffo on

      @ chris graphics are what you see . Visual appeal will not be a part of this game as there is no money to invest in it at this point.

      I've played the game maybe 90 hours and the intent seems to be civ 5 with a few distinct modifications:
      1. people with various quirks and personalities to manage
      2. an end game boss to defeat (Romans)
      3. significant micromanagement responsibilities each turn (people, resources, and environment)
      4. 1 mobile city with no internal buildings or resources to manage.
      5. limited resources that must be replaced over time
      6. very limited improvement of common tiles (only improvement I have found is building roads)
      7. workers get tired, injured, unproductive, and can die
      8. a neutral trader that acts as a common shop to trade goods.

    8. Missing avatar

      clayffo on

      @ Sean, there are a couple of issues with his approach and these documented play throughs, which is a big part of the reason the game is so far past the completion date.
      1. Jon has said on multiple occasions said that he is using 1 hour of play time per day and "his" notes based on that gameplay to develop the game. content creators of any type, whether it be games, movies, youtubers, musicians, athletes, etc should never be the sole critic of their work. the reason being is that they do not want to try to break their own work, nor do they want to make the hard criticisms required to spawn evolution and change. He is like a mule with blinders on slowly pulling the plow completely oblivious to what's going on around him.

      The only time Jon will ever look up and actually pay attention is if you send him multiple documented error/bug reports, in which case he will fix them given enough time.

      2. Jon has spent at least a month and a half playing and documenting 60 turns in this 1 game. I have, in the same time period, played approx. 700 turns across 10 games. other people like me have played combined thousands of turns. It is wholly unproductive for him to not use us in the way we are intended, as alpha testers. I have personally posted a lot of content to his conifergames site and he has never contributed or responded to my thread.

      3. Jon, as a developer, is considered an authority figure. he is basically making a "how to" play the game in the most up to date 1990s style. I highly disagree with his approach to this map and I have posted a very successful 375 turn game of the same map. he shouldn't be trying to influence people how to play the game in "his" style. Jon has spent a great deal of time creating a very extensive library of help files in the alpha. all contributors have access to the alpha if they ask for it.

      Sean, you should get a copy of the game, spend you time reading the help files, and play the game for your self. provide some actual feedback and stand with me to demand that Jon follow through with his promises of monthly updates and real game updates.

    9. Chris ORegan

      I have to back up Clayffo on this. What has been written here is a description of a gameplay session. It is in no way an update on the progress of the game's progression. It has been four years since the promised release date was passed and we do not seem any closer to release. Looking at the screen shots I can only hope that most of what is being shown is placeholder as it looks like a game for 30 years ago. The interface design is really not up to current standards and the colours are jarring to look at. At this rate Brexit will have happened before this game sees the light of day :(

    10. Missing avatar

      Alex Wilson on

      I appreciate these because of the asides in brackets. It's a good method of explaining in game details for those of us who did not get access to the alpha/beta. Looking forward to the next one!

    11. Sean Krauss

      I'll voice my dissent here: I'd *much* rather read an article than watch a video. I'm glad to see continued attention to the game, which I didn't take as a given.

    12. Missing avatar

      clayffo on

      I first off want to ask again, Jon why don't you do "lets play" instead of this narrative? what you're doing is super boring and you're wasting development time. throw up a quick video and get back to work on development.

      secondly, and as I said last month, this is not an update. you had promised you were working on diplomacy for the last couple months. Post an update on this or bug reports or anything tangible to show some progress.