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Shadow Empire - planetary conquest from Advanced Tactics/Decisive Campaigns dev


Oct 3, 2013

Dev has only written little teasers for the most part but this looks like it could be interesting. Part 4x, part wargame. Conquer a low tech post-apocish planet that used to be part of a now decayed galactic republic. Release next year pending microissues. Here are some devposts:


The type of Planet you play on will impact your game quite a lot. It determines the terrain of battle (and economy), but also the relative scarcity of the different resources. For example a Seth Class desert planet will have very little water, making water very precious. While on other planets water will be more or less plentiful and of no concern.
Key parameters of those Planet Classes shown are Temperature, Amount of Water and presence of (Alien) Life.
There is still quite some variation between Planets in the same Class. The “Siwa” Class for example often has a breathable atmosphere, the others probably not. The thing is that Oxygen is not something that is usually present in an Atmosphere, unless there is some process like converting other molecules like CO2 to it.


This snippet shows one of a players zones key statistics. Two important parts of a zone are population and workers. Population works in the private economy and does not necc. require your meddling or input. Workers however work in the public economy and you’ll need them to actively build public assets (like industry or research facilities) and work in them. The design idea behind the seperation between population and workers and private and public assets is that it allows the player the choice to either ignore the economy and just take tax revenues from the private economy.. or actively start planning and steer the economy in a specific direction. The latter strategy should reap more fruits when enough time goes by and your foes are getting more organized and tech-savy.


Your empire will have 7 profile groups, each with 3 profiles. The groups are: Society, Work Method, Ideology, Warrior Spirit, Diplomatics, Leadership Style and Economics. In the little screenie shown here you see the Warrior Spirit Group. Its 3 profiles are: Cleverness, Bare Bones and Morale. Cleverness gives you good tactical bonuses in the field, but has a limiting effect on Bare Bones once it gets to high. Bare Bones gives your logistical network a boost, but has a limiting effect on Morale once it gets to high. Morale increases the base morale of your troops in the field and helps avoid unwanted retreats or panics, but has a limiting effect on Cleverness once it gets to high.
Furthermore once you get a certain profile field to a certain level you’ll be able to produce specific special Stratagems. In the case of this group of profiles you can get Posture Stratagems that you can play on HQs. Like for example: Hold at all costs, Recon in Force and Ambush.


Here are a sneak peak into the nation profile fields. Note that the arrows actually indicate a negative feedback loop. So for example a high ‘democracy’ profile diminishes the ‘totalitarian’ profile. This system means a nation can only have one profile at a really high score in each circle. Note that this is part of a bigger system and what you are seeing here are just the ‘cap the maximum scores’ rules. Capping is important because we don’t want players to have top scores on everything. Opening certain doors means closing certain others. The profile scores themselves, if high enough, will provide you with bonuses, special action cards and can trigger special stories.


In fact Shadow Empire is going to turn to be a bit more towards the Grognard side of the strategy spectrum than expected. There are a lot of moving parts. The key thing that is different compared to other games and previous games (ATG) is the introduction of Organisations. Think here of analogues of ministries. You can have multiple off them and you can allocate part of your budget (in BPs, bureaucratic points) to each you have. The idea behind them is partly to allow the game to be easy to expand with new features after release, but mostly to allow the player that does not want to do to much management to not create to many organisations (which are not free of cost). My aim is that the game should be perfectly playable even without the advanced options some of those organisations give you.


Shadow Empire diplomatics are relatively simple, but I think they’ll be engaging. Basically either you or an AI regime can take the initiative. You can do so by playing diplomatic Stratagems. For example requesting to make contact, opening an embassy or proposing a scientific exchange. The AI can do the same, but on top of that the AI controlled Major Regimes will be involved in stories that are driven partly by their political and ideological attitudes and partly by their strategic analysis of their position versus that of the player.

In this particular snippet we see the Kaiser of Freikopf Reich being willing to move his attitude from COLD to FRIENDS. Well if you make the right choice and don’t roll particularly bad dice that is.

Note that your 1st Strategic HQ commander has a rather unpleasant attitude to diplomacy :)

p.s: Also note a scripting error in the message. The compliment is of course not for running his ‘reich’ but for running your empire.

It would be nice to have extra Decision options based on your Regime profile or the Leader handling the decision (in this case your Secretary, the Commander is just giving his opinion). But I have to prioritize a bit, so don’t think so for launch at least.

However a fair amount of Decisions and Stratagems do involve skill rolls. Here the commander definitely has an effect (in capability and motivation to do a good job).
You core enemies in Shadow Empire are the other Major nations. These function much like your own nation. However there are also Minor nations and Unaligned Forces. These Minor nations are somewhat organized, but they don’t have the culture, intelligence, tech or will to become a real (major) nation. They are quite diverse and include Roamers, Farmers, Slavers, Religious Fanatics and Mutants. Gameplay-wise they mostly function as speed bumps to your growth, but you can also engage in limited diplomacy with them. It is for example possible to offer your protection to a Minor or make it a client state. Eventually they can even merge into your Major nation.

Next to the minors there are also Unaligned Forces and they represent those entities that are completely without organisation. They include Free Folk forces and also Alien lifeforms native to the Planet. Note the non-terrestrial plant colours in the screenshot. That is because this particular Planet (Lazonar Lumus) has alien plant life. If it has sizeable Alien animals is not sure yet. It is relatively rare to find yourself on a Planet that had much alien evolution. (well… unless you don’t go fully random and select the ‘Medusa’ planet class for your game)


This snippet shows a part of the stratagem tab. Stratagems can be played on zones, empires or HQs and cost political points. Here we see the ‘Send Spy’ stratagem which you can send to any visible zone. If the insertion of the spy is successful (skill roll involved) it means you’ll get recon points on the zone (and subsequently the empire owning it). Basically the spies enable you to explore the map without using military force. Furthermore more spies will allow you to get information on the enemy troop dispositions and economy.


In this snippet we are seeing some new Fate Stratagems the player has received. I am really expanding on these Stratagems and using them for lots of different stuff. These Fate Stratagems are rare and can only be acquired by conquest and levelling your empire up. Other Stratagems will include Artifact Stratagems that you’ll acquire through scavenging and archeology. Faction Stratagems that you’ll acquire by having a good relation with a faction within your empire. And then there is a big bunch of Organisation Stratagems that are produced by your different councils.


This snippet shows that when you are creating new troop configurations you can specify what kind of equipment they’ll receive. Yes these kind of choices are in essence trade-offs between beneficial equipment versus cost of production. On some planets however you’ll not have a choice. A toxic atmosphere for example will oblige you to issue at minimum envirosuits to your troopers.


In this snippet you are seeing me choosing which new Formation to build. Once I select one I’ll pay the costs in Industrial Points, Metal, etc.. and I’ll get a fully manned HQ and subordinate Units placed on the map.

There are two kind of Units in Shadow Empire. Those which belong to a Formation (a Formation is several units + an commanding operational HQ) and those which are Independent Units. Formations should be preferable to build since they come with their own HQ and can thus have their own Commander, who can give significant combat and other bonuses. As well a Formation gives you the option to play Posture Stratagems on it like: Defense, Hold-at-all-Costs, Shock, Blitz, Reconnaissance-in-Force, etc…

The other kind of Unit is the Independent Unit. The Independent Unit allows you to build specialist Units like for example extra Artillery or AT Support. And each operational HQ can next to its own Units still take a limited number of Independent Units under its command.

The system is more flexible than DC, but less flexible than Advanced Tactics. Instead of designing your own ‘TOE’s you’ll need to develop them (like research) to be able to raise a certain type of Formation.


One thing that is interesting to know about Shadow Empire is that its troop types (like tanks, guns, infantry) never are exactly the same every time you play. In the small screenshot above you can see a detailed statistical report on the ‘ATG’ anti-tank gun. Note also that you can improve the gun by ordering a newer version to be designed. This of course does come at a cost in bureaucratic and political points and is best only done after significant technological advances have been made to ensure the investment will be worthwhile. One thing I am not still completely sure about is how much of the detail to hide, probably I’ll eventually allow the player to chose either ‘extreme FOW’ or ‘normal FOW’. In my humble opinion I believe that not being sure how good your equipment is until you are committed to battle would be a very interesting mechanic. However I’ll have to put that ‘extreme FOW’ on the list for later on since hiding stuff is not the best way to debug and beta test :)


The screeny shows a small empire that just started expansion. For a change we find an empire that is on a planet that actually supports open farming and has some rainfall! That’s good because it makes growing crops a lot easier. No need to build domes or do ice mining for supplying your plants with water.

The small empire shown above is starting to deal with some Marauders at its borders but has not yet ran into any real opposition. Only issue it seems to have right now is a Crime Syndicate which is causing some loss of private Credits and increasing the Danger level a little bit.

The Crime Syndicate is an example of a Story Module that is the first of a template approach for later on. It will be relatively easy to add more Modules like that to further flesh out the game universe. I am using a modular approach with further story content and the aim is threefold: allow the player to switch on/off a Module before starting a game, allow VR Designs to add DLC-like content after release and allow modders a way to create extra content for the game.

But for now it has been enough work on content. There is now a quite rich tapestry of immersive details in place. Lots of events to occur and decisions to make, including diplomatic ones, almost 200 Stratagems, detailed Leader stats, dozens of Hex Perks and Unit Feats, politics, elections, internal factions, archeology, rebellions and what not more. There is enough there right now to make the world feel sort of like a real place. It needs some more work for mid and late game in the final content design phase, but I consider the basic content design phase finished.

It’s time to move to the Interface & Graphics Phase start of August and after that do some AI work. Then it will be on to the Final Content Phase. And then we’ll be getting awfully close to full beta.
Last edited by a moderator:


Oct 3, 2013
Dev went quiet for a while but is back at it, beta is on the semi-distant horizon

Snippet #27: Graphical make-over
Sorry for the long time of absence. I had a rather rough second part of 2018, don’t ask! But I am back in business and trying to catch up on lost development time. At the moment I am working on making the interface graphics in Shadow Empire more consistent and more unique (compared to my other games).

Progress is good, but it has been rather slow going with the modular graphics approach for the Troop Types. Basically each kind of troops, like Light Tanks can have a few hundred different ways it can be rendered. I have also been improving the tech tree.

Anyways I almost finished with the interface artwork phase and will then be moving to map artwork phase.

Let me share a little bit. Here are a few quick screenies from the current progress:


Just some Militia Units exploring the wastelands


The troops inside one of our Militia Units


Info on our starting Zone and its Governor

from the comments section:
q: "i want to ask if the estimated release date still same for shadow empire? (q1 2019)"
a: "Ah no…. that slipped to q3 2019. Sorry there."

Snippet #28: Combat

I am trying to make the Combat Windows in SE a bit more exciting than the ones we have in ATG/DC. And at the same time I would like these windows to become a bit more insightful (in an easy way) for players who want to know the nitty-gritty of the rather complex combat resolution calculations.

Here is a quick screeny of a small scale battle:


Not completely happy yet here. The lavendel colors are not helping either to be honest :) but this part of the UI is still work-in-progress.

What I am trying to do is use the screen real estate better. If there are not that many troops involved then I can show big pictures of all the subformations involved. If the battles get more massive the perspective will zoom-out and/or propose pagination.

I am also adding the option to let the players chose if they want to use ‘auto-combat’ or manually give the order for each next combat round.

Combat is based on a very many variables. Even more than in my previous games.

Factors that play a major role in combat outcome is the Equipment concerned, the quality of the Troops, the Skills of the Commanders leading the troops (Operational HQ and Strategic HQ) and the Posture they have ordered for their Troops. And of course the Landscape and environmental factors.

Other factors include the type of armour versus the type of weaponry used. Low caliber guns will for example perform dismally against really heavily armoured targets.

There are also more exotic weapons to be obtained like Lasers and Atomics. Armour research can provide you with Polymer Armour and furthermore it will be possible to research and construct Shield Generators.

There are many more factors which influence things like Unit Feats, Field Testing and upgrading of your Models as well as your Regime Profile.

I am happy that everything is already in the game and that I am now finalizing the interface and doing a lot of tuning and testing. It is a big game and I need time to polish the rough corners. Hopefully in summer we can move forward to an early beta.

In any case Shadow Empire is shaping up as high complexity sandbox turn-based 4X wargame with plenty of immersion.

from the comments section:
"The project got so huge making it moddable is no longer an immediate priority.
However with time I might open up some limited stuff like allowing a modder to create extra Stratagems (cards) or Story Modules, Or Techs and Models.
But I’ll have to handle this case by case and provide proper documentation how to do this.
Modding at any rate is NOT going to be the sales pitch of this game.
Best wishes,

Snippet #29: Finished up the graphics and UI phase

Finally I wrapped up work on all the icons, sprites, windows and even a few explosions for Shadow Empire. The next months i’ll embark on the last phase before starting a beta test. This phase will touch on two major aspects of the game. The first aspect is the AI. The game needs to become more challenging and a more aggressive AI that is putting more demands on you and is harder to beat on the battlefield will help a lot here.

The second aspect I am scheduling is an improvement of the current Decisions and Events system. Development goals here are to make the systems less complex and have more decisions that are really important.


Choosing option B and denying president Hubeiber will result in a relation loss with Zandstein. It might be more prudent to forget about your support for democracy in order to avoid a war… no?

The above example is actually a Decision that is quite good. But there need to be more of these, with even higher stakes.

Also I am going to simplify the Profile model I did. At the moment it has 22 fields, including the “democracy” and “special interest” ones mentioned in the screeny. I am going to cut them down to 9 spread over 3 groups. The political group: democracy-meritocracy-autocracy group will preserved, but the others will be melted into 2 groups, one society group and one psychology group.

The main goals for this last phase before beta is to improve the comprehensibility and challenge factors of the game.

I’ll present the new Profile model in a next post. Thanks for following the development!


Oct 3, 2013
Playtest snippet #2
Here a playthrough of the first 12 turns of one of my test game.

turn 1: Playing Steelland. Spreading out


turn 2: Still expanding outwards. Encountered minor regime Phoenixkeep in the south.


turn 2: Managed to infiltrate a spy in their Zone.


turn 3: The enemy in the south has like 8000 militia force. I think I can take them and will start concentrating my forces before launching my offensive.


turn 3: My other neighbour are some raiders over in Deneba. I decided to keep them calm while I annex those farmers in the south first.


turn 3: Furthermore I decided to spend most of my Metal and Industrial Point production on buying a unit of buggies to give me some more offensive punch.


turn 4: Still building up towards the attack into Phoenixkeep. In preperation I changed the CO of 1st MG Infantry Brigade with mr Wulfram, a guy that has at least some military skill…


turn 4: Also my food surplus is down to +70 so I have ordered an Ice Mining Facility to be constructed so I’ll have the water to build a farm after. Rain ain’t spectacular on this Planet.


turn 5: Increased soldiers’ salaries to get morale a bit higher. And heck I gave my Leaders a raise as well :)


turn 5: Slow build up, attack still some turns away. Note the blue bars indicating low readiness due to marching all the way south.


turn 6: Discovered Automated Rifles



turn 6: And had to pay off those pesky raiders is in the north to avoid an incursion while all my troops are focussing on Phoenixkeep.


turn 7: Upgrading all my Riflemen to Riflemen II, they have a Carbine instead of a Slugthrower rifle.


turn 7: It seemed Phoenixkeep already knew what was going to happen next and they declared war on us first.


turn 8: Phoenixkeeps farmer militias are afraid and trying to entrench themselves in their City. I fully encircled it and then attacked with maximum forces and concentric bonus.


turn 8: Almost managed to destroy them in a single blow… but not quite.


turn 10: After giving my troops one turn to recuperate I attacked again and forced them to surrender.


turn 11: Gained a Zone and a complementary Fate Pack (4 Fate Cards)


turn11: My two Zones… Halkan in the north and Psimchron (conquered from Phoenixkeep) in the south.


turn 12: Raised a second Brigade… it feels like those Raiders are stirring for war and I do not trust the Major Regime far west of me either.


turn 12: Didn’t calm down those Phoenixkeepuch enough. Had to send in the troops to stop them from protesting.

Zones form around Cities. Hexes are assigned to Zones based on distance from the Zones’ Cities. It is not possible to manually draw your Zone borders, but it is possible to delegate an Asset to another Zone.
These Assets can be located in the City (like Industry) or in a “Rural Hex” (like a Metal Mine or a Farm) outside the City.
Next to your Assets you’ll see Free Folk villages on the map. Occupying these will help you increase your City Population.

Design Snippet #30
Shadow Empire will have a Tech Tree. But it is not completely your regular kind of tree…


The essence of Shadow Empire research is that it is a two-step process. First you have to discover a Tech and then you can chose to research that Tech.

Discovery is easier than researching, thus often you’ll have to make a choice which of your discoveries you’ll actually want to focus your research on.

Due to the random discoveries you’ll never have exactly the same Techs between which to chose to focus your Research on.

However having said that… the system is only partly random. This is because Techs always belong to a Tech Group. Once you have researched 3 Techs in a Group all the Techs in the connected Groups will become open to Discovery. So for example in the above screeny the Player will only be able to make discoveries in the Basic Tech Group. Once the Player has researched 3 Techs of this Group he’ll be able to also discover Techs in the Chemistry and Engineering Tech Groups.

In case anybody wonders what the small letter codes “Mi”,”Ec” and “Ap” signify… They signify the Council you’ll need to Discover and Research them: The Military Research Council, The Economy Council or The Applied Sciences Council.

The tree is not procedural and always the same.
However what you will discover first (step 1) will “always” be different and hence you’ll “never” have exactly the same choice what to actually research (step 2).


Studio Draconis
May 6, 2011
Middle Empire
Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Advanced Tactics had a great mini economic system, and army composition/research options. I really look forward to this one.


Oct 5, 2012
Codex 2014

This game, like other games from them, will be published by Matrix Games/Slitherine: https://www.matrixgames.com/news/shadow-empire-is-announced

Shadow Empire puts you in the seat of the supreme ruler of a small nation destined for greatness and reconquering a devastated Planet.

You have Leaders to help you govern your Zones, administer your Organisations and lead your armies. You’ll also have Stratagems available that you can play on various targets.

It is in essence a game about military conquest, but you will also engage in diplomacy, budgets, organizational management, your economy, infrastructure, design and many more details.

The game has a very procedural design that will ensure re-playability and experimentation. Not only are the Planets procedurally generated, also the equipment you are fighting with is.

A separate system for discovery of Techs, Formation Types and Model Types and their research/development also ensures that you’ll have to work with different playing pieces each game.

The game universe is designed to evoke the feeling of being on another planet in some dark future, but at the same time to stay familiar. It is a game that does not deny it is a game, but it has a strong thematic focus on keeping things relatively realistic.

For a strategy game there is a relatively strong roleplaying angle where you’ll need to keep your leaders happy in order for them to do their jobs well and not get any ideas of rebellion.

There is a lot of potential micro management to engage in and to offset this the game has Stratagems that allow sweeping actions by just clicking the ‘play stratagem’ button. This allows a mental break from the micro stuff, for helping the player get out of a fix and enforcing the thematics as well.

This game is one of the most ambitious games VR Designs ever made.

It is a very rich experience and a truly unique game that is no cookie-cutter of something you have already seen before

  • Most turns you'll have to make Decisions on events occuring in your Zones, with your Leaders or with third parties (for example: cults, crime syndicates)
  • Procedurally generated Planets according to the rules of Astrobiology that include Climates, Rainfall, Deserts, Snow, Glaciers, Lava streams, Deep Forests, Alien Evolution, Mountain chains, Resources, Rivers, Biohazard Level and Respiratory Hazard Level, etc.
  • Detailed Combat Resolution taking into account factors as Readiness, Morale, Supplies, Experience, Entrenchment, Landscapes, Recon, Rivers, Weapon and Armor Technologies, Concentric Attacks, Leader Skills and Posture Stratagems.
  • Discover and Operationalize over a 100 different Formation Types, each in 3 different sizes (like Infantry Armor, Heavy Assault Brigade, etc)
  • Discover and Design 30+ different Model Types (like Light Tank, Walkers, Missile Launchers, etc…)
  • The game starts at a Low Tech Level, but at the end of the Tech Tree you’ll find knowledge that allows you to build (for example): Laser Guns, Atomic Missile Launchers, Walkers, Shield-Generators and even ICBMs.
  • Discover and Research over a 100 different Tech Fields (like Assault Rifle, Algae Vats)
  • Units can pick up supplies from a road hex inside the Logistical Network in a certain operational supply range.
  • You can extend your Logistics Network capabilities by building Roads or Rails as well as constructing Truck Stations, Maglev Station and Supply Base Assets.
  • Leaders can be recruited and appointed to become Zone Governors, Council Directors, Army Commanders or Advisors.
  • Leaders can have over 40 different Skills and can receive Leader Feats to augment their Stats
  • You can play Stratagems (cards) on other Regimes, Leaders or Zones. Over 150+ available.
  • Unsatisfied Leaders could leave you, rebel or turn corrupt.
  • Leaders tend to band together in Factions.
  • Factions will put forward Demands on you, like asking you to conquer a neighbour or raise your Tech Level.
  • You either have a Parliament, Senate or Politburo in your nation, you will be able to change system during a game
  • On the Diplomacy front: Minor Regimes can be coerced to become a vassal or even join you. Major Regimes can be tied into a number of pact and deals to ensure a peaceful coexistence.
  • Realistic supply model where running out stuff always has consequences. Lack of Oil will immobilize your troops, lack of Ammo will for sure stop any offensive operations and a lack of Food might just starve and kill your Troops and Populace.
  • Different kinds of Mining operations possible: Water, Metal, Rare Metals, Oil and Radioactives.
  • Prospecting is often necessary for discovering Resources that could be mined
  • Scavenge Ruins and discover rare Artifacts.
  • Supports multi-player


Oh boy oh boy, I usually refuse to play beta and EA not to spoil myself the experience from a complete version, but I'm gonna go for it cuz it looks really promising


Still no beta invite for me :negative:

Any codexer playing this already?
May 5, 2014
Devblog #2
Military Conquest

In the previous DevLog we looked at how to generate a Planet and start a game.

In this one we’ll take a look at the most important and immediate task that you’ll have: Expanding your little empire and ensuring its safety against possible attack.

Though in theory it is possible to co-win the game by making an alliance with the winning player, in practice that is a very risky strategy and you’d be better focusing on military conquest to win the game.
Inspecting your initial forces
A default game starts drops you in the game with only a few Militia forces under your command.


Above we see a typical game start state.

1. The Units initially at your exposure are 4 Militia battalions and 1 Militia regiment (note it has more troops) as well as your Strategic HQ (SHQ).

2. When selecting a Unit you can see if it contains Regular Troops (REG) or Militia Troops (MIL).

3. As long as your Militia Units stay within your HQ Power Range they’ll be able to receive positive effects from Operational HQ Skill Rolls. (note that SHQ Skill Rolls always apply irrespective of range between Unit and HQ)

4. Note that non-aligned Unit close to our City.

Militia forces
Militia forces might be relatively weak,. but they have one big advantage. Their recruitment and support is completely autonomous. As long as a Zone has enough Militancy score it will keep recruiting new Militia and sending you the supplies and/or replacement forces that the Militia in the field requires.

With time, the Militia will be able to improve the statistics of their Troops and they might even well start using older Models which you have developed for your Regular Troops.

Militia are rather sensitive, however, to your empire creating large amounts of Regular Troops. You can offset this by making certain Decisions, but as a rule of thumb the Militancy levels will start declining once you have constructed a sizeable Regular force.
Create some safe space around your City
Having enemy Units (like non-aligned Units) close to your City will give your initial Zone so-called Danger Points. Claiming about 2 Hexes around your City should remove any such effect.


Your Militia forces are relatively weak and are best used for defence. So, when you use them in an offensive role always try to mass them. Also, for optimal success chances try to attack with Units that have full Action Points available.

Each Combat Round costs 10 Action Points, and the more Combat Rounds the fight can continue the more chance you’ll win the fight and take the Hex. Furthermore, in the initial 2 Combat Rounds the defender has an extra advantage (as your Troops are closing the distance), so that is another reason to avoid short indecisive battles.


During the AI turns the non-aligned forces launched their own attack against one of the Militia Battalions. As you can see our recon was faulty, their Unit did not contain 700 troops, but 2400 troops instead! Always keep this FOW effect in mind (unless you have really a lot of Recon Points on the Hex).


After you order an attack the Combat Selection Popup will appear, giving you a wealth of information on the modifiers as well as an estimate of the combat odds. These odds are an estimate, not a prediction, and you should always take them with a grain of salt. However, if the color turns bright green you’ll be sure you’ll win and if turns bright red you’ll be sure you’ll lose.

1. Note that all our Militia forces are ordered to join the attack, we are trying to mass as many troops as possible. The Motorized Militia Unit (truck symbol on counter) sadly does not have the Action Points to enter a sand Hex (trucks don’t drive well in loose sand) and so cannot join the combat.

2. Whenever possible, try to attack from as many angles as you can. By attacking from three sides in this example the Militia has secured a +40% bonus. That might just make the key difference.

3. At 2 : 1 odds this is going to be a very “iffy” battle. It could still work for us however.

4. Also note that due to our lousy Recon we are probably overestimating the size of the enemy unit (which in the history report was at 2400 troops).


The battle was almost won…

1. The defender held. The Hex has not been taken.

2. Note that it was a close call though. The defender would probably have retreated if its operational troops would have dropped below 50%.

3. Our troops got some good modifiers from the SHQ Commander, Concentric Attack and Experience.

4. Note this particular heroic subunit that scored 5 hits on the enemy (of which 2 were kills).
Raise some Regular Troops
I think the above section illustrates the limited value of Militia Troops in an offensive role.


1. To the left we see the statistics of Militia Infantry.

2. To the right we see the statistics of the Regular Infantry Troops.

3. Note that Regular Infantry has almost 50% more hit points.

4. Note that Regular Infantry has almost double the attack values.

For these reasons it is a good idea to Raise some Regular Troops Units. They’ll perform about 2.5 times better than their Militia brothers. (however, keep in mind they’ll be recruited at 0 experience points)


Using the “Raise Formation” order we can raise some new Units. We do not have enough Recruits available at the moment to recruit a multi-unit Brigade under its own HQ so an Infantry and a Buggy (car with MG) Battalion are raised. Note that you can increase the recruitment of Recruits by calling the Governor of a Zone to tell him/her to recruit more.

These buggies are an excellent complement to the existing Militia since they have good attack values.


Above is an attack that much more likely to succeed. Note the newly recruited Regular Units augment the Militia forces enough to have enough punch to brush aside those pesky Free Folk Marauders.
Improve Morale of Regular Troops
While waiting for our Zone to produce some more Recruits, let’s try to improve the Morale of our Regular Troops. You can do this by calling your Secretary and asking him/her to prepare a Decision on salaries.


On default mode your Regular Troops get their rations and the rest is payment in gratitude and the honor to serve the nation.


If you give them several Micros of salary (a 1/1000th of a Credit) per round that will improve their Morale. Higher morale will keep them in the fight longer and they will be less prone to panicking, this will be especially important with certain Postures.
Raise a multi-unit Formation
Once you have enough Resources (Items) and Recruits you will do well to recruit a multi-unit Formation with its own Operational HQ (OHQ).

You’ll be able to assign a Commander to an OHQ and Skill Rolls will add to your combat bonuses. Furthermore, you can play Posture Stratagems on your OHQs that can also give combat bonuses. The combined effect of OHQ Commanders and Postures is such that you should try (in the future) to have the majority of your forces under OHQ command.


There is not too much choice at the start of the game, so an Infantry Brigade is an economic choice.

Note that to get more Formation Types to choose from you’ll have to discover and develop more Models (like Light Tanks, Artillery, etc..) using the Model Council and also operationalize new Formation Types using the Staff Council.
Quick look at Models that can become available
Once your technology advances and you make an effort to discover new Model Types, more types of Formations will be available to choose from.


The Model Types you have already discovered are shown in green.
Assign a Commander


1. Here we see our newly raised 1st Light Infantry Brigade.

2. When newly raised there is no Commander assigned.

3. The round after you raised the Unit a selection committee will have prepared a Commander selection list for you to choose a Commander from.

4. Note that sometimes the most suitable candidate is not presented to you for political reasons of the selection committee. You can dismiss candidates at a small Political Point cost.

Keep in mind that if you want to change a Commander you’ll have to call and dismiss him/her.

Play a Posture Stratagem
In the Stratagem Tab under the “HQs” category you’ll often have some Posture Stratagems available that can be played on OHQs.

To generate more Posture Stratagems you need to get a Staff Council operational and assign a lot of budget to their Posture Task.


In the Stratagem Tab you pick the Posture Stratagem you want to play and select the OHQ to receive it.

Here we are assigning a Posture that is going to give a big boon on defensive operations. +50%. However, the flipside is it will be hard to use Units with this Posture in offensive operations.


Our 1st Infantry Brigade is ready to hold the front! Commander and Posture present.
Assigning Auxiliary Units to an OHQ
Individual Regular Units start under an SHQ, but each OHQ has a limited number of slots (usually 2) to take command of auxiliary Individual Regular Units.

To do this select the Individual Unit and click the Unit Admin Order to assign it to an OHQ of choice.


Our 1st Infantry Brigade can also be inspected in the OOB Tab, like above, and here we see it and its 5 battalions, but with an added Auxiliary Unit. This Auxiliary Unit will now also benefit from the Commander and Posture bonuses.
Keep an eye on Ammo, Fuel and Food
Every round your Troops consume Food and when they move or fight they can use Fuel. During battle (especially offensive action) they’ll use Ammo.

Keep an eye on your SHQ Item stocks:


You can produce Items using your Assets or buy Items from the Traders.

Also, some Items (like Ammo and Machinery) can be produced by using the Workshop Order.
Keep an eye on your Logistical Network
By using the Logistics Layer Buttons in the Layers Tab to the right of the screen you can inspect your Logistical Network as it formed at start of your turn.


1. Above we see the Logistical Points that have been generated in your Logistical network. Note they stop well short of the Advanced motorized Militia Units to the South-East.

<IMAGE INSERT: how1/image17jpg>

Here we see the actual Logistical Points that have been used to supply our Units (and possibly Zones)

1. This is the last Hex that has Logistical Points on it. This is the point where the Units will need to pick up the supplies they need.

2. The dotted lines show Organic Logistics of the Units. At this point a Unit would have been able to use its own Organic Logistics to pickup all the supplies it might need at point 1.

3. The actual location of the Units however is to far away from pickup point 1 and hence it is receiving less than it is requesting.


Note that this Militia Unit only received 2 of the 4 Fuel and 5 of the 9 Food that it requested.

There are two solutions here… For the present it would be wise to move the Units back to point 2 so that they will be fully supplied again. But after that it would be wise to extend the Logistical Network to facilitate further conquest.
Extending your Logistical Network
This you can do buy constructing either (1) new Logistical Point Sources like Truck or Train Stations or by (2) extending the range of existing Logistical Point Sources by construction of Supply Bases.

To construct a new Logistical Point Source use the Construct Asset Order. Probably preferably on the City Hex of the Zone.

To construct a Supply Base pick a Hex that is still receiving a good number of Logistical Points (they go down quickly after they go beyond the AP Range of their source).


As you can see Supply Bases are cheap and quick to construct. They do not actually add any Logistical Points to your Network, but they extend the range of the existing points entering the Hex with the Supply Base.


After the Supply Base has become operational and its effect applied to the Logistical Network we see we have extended our range.

1. The Logistical Points that enter the Hex with the Supply Base are receiving +50 AP extra range.

2. Allowing plenty of points to arrive 5 Hexes further. After which they decline quickly again.


The advance Units now are in full supply again.

Devblog #3
Building an Economy

Shadow Empire Beta is open! Join and help us polishing the game

In the previous Dev Diary we discussed Military Conquest. Which is without doubt a very important activity.

However to supply your Armies of conquest, to produce Replacement Troops or to raise new Formations you’ll need Industrial Points and Resources. Here the Economy part comes in.

At game start with the default options you’ll have a tiny but usually functional economy.


Here in the bottom you see the Assets present in your initial Zone. There are different kinds of Assets you can have.

1. Public Assets. These are the ones you can construct yourself using the Construct Order. They require you to pay and feed Workers. You have full control over them.

2. Private Assets. These have been constructed by the Population of your Zone and are not in your control. The Private Economy makes its own decisions on what to construct. However almost all Private Assets send a part of their production to you as a Tax.

3. Free Folk settlements. The Free Folk are people who live in the territories you claimed but who remain independent and have not yet joined your Population. If your economy is running well and your Population is happy they will join you in large numbers. Especially in the early game, they are a key source of Population increase.

4. Hex Feats. These are special artefacts or sites that provide a simple and fixed bonus to a site.

Except for Free Folk settlements all Assets can require input and will provide output.

5. Input is the Resources and/or workforce that the Asset has consumed to produce or perform its task.

6. Output is what an Asset has actually produced.

Game Start
In the game start example used in the screenshot above we are receiving 132 Food from the Private Farm which is enough to feed our initial Workers. 100 Workers require 1 Food. We have plenty of Energy arriving from our Hex Feat, a damaged but still functional Galactic Republic Generator.


In the Items Tab of the Zone we can see this as well. The Zone is only producing Surpluses. Or in other words: consumption is lower than production. Most of the surplus (if some Zone reserves are not merited) will be send to your Strategic HQ (SHQ).


We can see these items have arrived in our SHQ above. The Items in our SHQ can be used to produce Replacement Troops and to raise new Formations. Also the SHQ can sell the Items to the Traders. (or buy from them of course)

Constructing Assets
After playing some turns and maybe raising some Troops you might realize you need more Items like Industrial Points or Food.

There is (even at low tech level) plenty of choice of Assets you can build. In the example below I selected the Construct Order and am going to choose to start construction of an Industry Asset.


In the construction window the Construction Costs are shown as well as the Input & Output of the Asset when it is completed.


It will take several turns to complete the construction of the Industry Asset. Note that it requires lots of Metals.

Different Public Asset Types
Click on an Asset (in bottom or in popup) to get more information on it.

Notably there are Asset Types that can be built only in your City Hex (like Industry or Bureaucratic Offices) and Assets that can be built anywhere.

Mines can only be built on top of Hexes with their corresponding Deposits. Wind Traps only in mountain Hexes. And Volcanic Taps only on volcano Hexes.

In this game example I am only producing about a 100 metals a turn. While completing the Industry Asset requires 1500 metals. I could have constructed some more Scavenging Assets first, or maybe a Metal Mine (if i would have found deposits), but here Trading can come in handy as well.


Using the Trade Order a SHQ can sell excess Items to the Traders.


And use the proceeds to buy the Metals that we need.

Keep in mind that prices go up with an excess of demand and go down with an excess of supply. The Traders of your Zones also trade with Zones owned by other Regimes and there is a real planetary economy running.

In case you can’t find Machinery with the Traders you can use your workshops to produce them. Eventually you will have to construct Heavy Industries to fabricate machines in a more efficient fashion.

The Workshops can also be used to make Ammunitions. Which you’ll only need once you get in a shooting war. Especially offensive combat consumes a lot of Ammo.

To pay more Workers (once you have more Assets) or to buy from the Traders what you need, you’ll need Credits. A key source of obtaining these is from Taxing your Zones.


You receive Service Tax and Income Tax from your Population. Other taxes in the game are Sales Tax that will be paid by the Traders and Tariffs that will also be paid by Traders if they engage in Imports/Exports.

However, keep in mind that the more you Tax your Zones the more you’ll stifle the development of the Private Economy.

Private Economy
There is some detailed modelling going on of the Private Economy and your Population will save credits and food (for emergencies) as well as invest their saved Credits in new Private Assets. Furthermore they’ll spend Credits on fabrication and consumption of luxury goods. They’ll even be able to Mothball or Close Assets when there is not enough Population to man all Assets. What you need to know for now is that this is all mostly beyond your control.

The only ways you can impact the Private Economy is by taxation, providing emergency Food and investing Credits in the Private Economy (through calling your Governor and giving Zone Orders). Though plenty of Stratagems and Decisions also can have an impact.

The Private Economy is a great source of Quality of Life (QOL) for the Zone because the moment the Population is in the safe zone concerning Food production the Population will be focussing a lot on Health, Education, Entertainment and Security Assets. They want to have a nice life.


Here above an example of some typical early Private Assets. Note the Arena and the Museum which provide Quality of Life points that will eventually raise the Civilization level of your Zone and as a consequence determine your Empire’s Civilisation Level.

You can usually only build one Asset per Hex of a certain type. If there is already a Private Asset in place in your Hex that is blocking you from constructing a Public Asset you have the option to nationalize it. This costs some Credits and might very well cause some unhappiness but will gain you the corresponding Public Asset.


Here the Private Scavenging Asset is nationalized (500 Credits of cost) into the Public Recycling Asset.

Asset Levels
Almost all Assets can be upgraded.


But keep in mind that the highest Asset Level available for upgrade is the same level as the Level of the City. So small villages can only construct Assets upto Level 1 for example. Where huge cities can go all the way up to Level 7.

But do note that there is a second limiting rule and each Asset Type is limited either by your Regime’s Tech, Admin or Civilization Level. For example Bureaucrat Offices Level is limited by your Civilisation Level and Industry Level is limited by your Tech Level.

Keep an eye on your Relation with your Governor.


If the relation is above 50 you get a sizable production bonus, while it being below 50 gives a penalty. Consider paying Governors well (you can set salaries by calling your secretary).

Apart from your Relation with a Leader, also consider which guy to pick for governor as his Skill set can impact production positively as well as help a lot with some troubles that can occur in Zones.

Take care with events… as a lot of bad stuff can happen if Unrest is high or Happiness is low. Strikes, Protests can impact production. A strong army presence in the City of the Zone or an able Governor with good Interpersonal Skills can help a lot to mitigate negative effects.

Production Modifiers
Keep an eye on production Modifiers. Already mentioned are Governor Skill and Governor Relation, but there are some noteable others.

In case of Mining the Ease of Mining of a Deposit plays an important role. Some Deposits are not easy to extract because for example they are deep or in difficult geological layers.

But also in the case of Open Agriculture. Here the temperature and rainfall of the season will play a role. As well as Planetary conditions as Atmospheric compatibility and possible Biohazards.

Last example: Wind Traps for example perform better if there is more moisture in the air on your Planet.

Be sure to always read the description of an Asset Type before constructing it to avoid disappointments.

There are a number of resources that have to be mined to obtain them. These are: Metals, Rare Metals and Radioactives. On waterless Planets mining Water deposits is also a good idea.

It is important to know that you can only construct a Mine on top of a Deposit. And you need to find these Deposits first. This requires you to either add an Economic Council (with the Prospecting Task) to your administration or to appoint a Governor that has the Prospecting Skill.

There will be a separate chapter on Logistics. Especially once you have multiple Zones you need to pay attention to the Logistics as one Zone might produce surpluses for the shortages of another Zone. But for your single Zone you’ll just need to keep track of one thing concerning your Assets.

For a Public Asset to have unimpaired production or construction progress it needs to be on a Hex that has at least 100 Logistical Points for each Asset Level at the start of the turn on its trajectory to its City. (for Private Assets its only 50 Logistical Points per Asset Level)


Above we see the Logistical Points at the start of turn. And we can see that the road from the Farm Level 1 in Monroe to its City (Junotop) has always at least 193 Logistical Points. Its production is at 100%.

You need enough Workers in your Zone to fill all the positions at your Public Assets. The default mode of Worker recruitment is to recruit if shortage and fire if surplus. However you can fine tune your Zone Worker policy by calling your Governor and giving him Zone Orders.


You can also improve the Workers’ salaries which will help a lot in improving their happiness as well as with their recruitment.

You should keep a special eye on if you are not paying your Workers less than the average revenue made by your Population in the Private Economy. Because that might tempt Workers to quit and seek their fortune working in a Private Asset.

Many Assets can be unlocked or benefit from increased production by adding an Economy Council to your administration.


If you have the Bureaucratic Points (BP) to spare you can discover and research plenty of more civilian Techs (compared to the Military Research Council) here.


Note in the Tech tree that early Assets you can unlock are: Power Plant, University, Solar Panels, Hospital, Barracks and a whole family of Storage Assets. The “Ec” in the screenshot above notifies you need the Economic Council to discover and research the Tech and the “Mi” notifies you need the Military Research Council.


±¼ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Apr 16, 2012
Divinity: Original Sin Divinity: Original Sin 2

I bet they use Oblivion to generate faces and then they import the screenshots into the game.
WTF! :)


Dec 13, 2019

It shows promise, but I do hope they plan on improving the UI. For example: the borders between regimes could be color-coded, rather than simply separated by the same-looking red line. Same goes for names of the capitals.


Mar 2, 2015
Yeah, it really looks like an interesting 4x with large focus on warfare.
Apart from Distant Worlds 2 (if they'll make it) it's the title I'm the most looking forward to this year.


Aug 30, 2008
Great AAR. This looks very very cool.

The UI seems surprisingly servicable too for a game this complex.

Even the portraits have grown on me..


Jan 28, 2014

Did a two hour stream of the game, i am optimistic.

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