Some days, you want to keep your family close and enjoy the simple things - taxing peasants, maxing production on your farm, and the normal family activities. Then there's times when, if you don’t send your relatives away to conquer the world, the inevitable war at home would make any global conquest pale in comparison.
That’s probably not family life for about 95% of us, but that’s your life in Great Houses of Calderia, developed by Resistance Games and Firesquid.
I spoke with Resistance Games’ creative director Jussi Autio and saw roughly an hour of Great Houses of Calderia during a hands-off preview, coming away intrigued by the promise of a more intimate grand strategy game where relationships matter more than ever.
As with any good household, peace and prosperity start by making sure your relatives have plenty to do. Managing your fiefdom takes more than just a few clicks and long-term arrangements. You’ll want to set each family member over a certain aspect of production, and if you’re a wise head of household, it’ll be something that fits their skills. Each relation has a unique set of abilities, interests, and skills that influences production and, later, everything else they do outside your corner of Calderia.
It’s not just your immediate family either. Autio says Great Houses of Calderia will run for several generations, and your scions grow and change over the course of their lives. Every relative has their own complex storyline that unfolds over time and, depending on your choices, may change their role in the family.
Whatever happens, you’ll need to plan carefully how you move and act outside your home as well. Your relationships with the other, equally ambitious and crafty, houses of Calderia depend on - you guessed it - your family. Ambassadors to foreign courts may provide insight into their plans and smooth the path to an alliance, but your rivals aren’t fools. Too many outsiders in their court, or particularly suspicious ones, and there goes your advantageous marriage.
Still, even the closest friendships won’t cover over a rotten deal. No one wants to get swindled in a trade deal, and making the wrong choice could have disastrous ripple effects further down the line, especially when it’s time for the houses to go to war.
Autio said the team wants to emphasize the role-playing element of Great Houses with these choices. There are, as he called them, “captain obvious” decisions, where it’s clear you shouldn’t make a certain choice. You shouldn’t for example, expect great things after insisting on a skewed trade deal with your newest ally.
You also shouldn’t expect terms of your agreements to last forever. Unlike, say, Civilization, you’ll have to reaffirm or even renegotiate deals depending on shifting alliances and other factors.
However, other situations come down to what you think is best for your family.
One example Autio showcased involved a young son with ambitions of being a poet. He was sent on a diplomatic mission and encountered a potentially dangerous situation that his skills were unsuited to dealing with. The smart thing to do is retreat, but then you’d lose progress on that mission and potential growth for the son.
Your moment-to-moment action is filled with situations such as these, while balancing your own fiefdom with attempts at expanding your house’s influence across Calderia. The final game will have at least four win conditions, Autio said, but the only one available when it enters early access is conquest. Calderia itself is full of mysteries to uncover, though these, too, will be limited at first.
Great Houses of Calderia enters early access in the first half of 2022, and you can add it to your Steam wishlist now.