Supply and Regions in a post 0.3 world

I will now try to coordinate my thoughts on the current state of the supply system and hopefully spark a discussion on what could make it even better.
I heard about Cantata months ago (on Three Moves Ahead podcast) and immediately wish-listed it. When I saw it on sale after the 0.3 update, I decided to take the plunge and buy it. Reading the past dev blogs and updates give me a glimpse of the Cantata that I never got to experience. Part of me wishes I could play that dream of a finicky, logistics heavy Cantata, but that is not the point of this. I can have faith in the direction of the team of developers working on Cantata based on what they have accomplished so far.

Uh oh, this is starting to sound like a long winded review. Who am I writing this for? Get to the point!

Time to forget the past and embrace the bright future of region supply networks!
My gut reaction: the current supply systems and networking are a solid foundation but it feels like something is lacking in the form of strategic interaction.
After playing for a dozen hours, and now going back to carefully read through the dev notes of all the changes in the last two major updates, I think you have largely succeeded. I took for granted many of the newer innovations like:
*all supplies being in the regional pool,
*all regions automatically creating a network,
*the way units and buildings pull resources from your pool when they are connected to the network.
A lot of that felt so intuitive when I couldn’t see the long journey that Cantata took to get here. I had some trouble understanding which units I should build or how to use them properly, but the resource system was rather frictionless, and so I didn’t have to think about it very much.

I think the relationship between buildings and resources make the tech tree for the Reign function quite well, and it is relatively easy to understand the flow of it. I would like to see more of a sense of progression in the other two factions. I found making build-order decisions in the 2nd and 3rd campaign missions to be much more overwhelming because there was no indication of what I should build first. Access to more details on each unit would alleviate this somewhat.

The function of regions was also easy to grasp as a first time player. I am only speaking about regions in the campaign missions, I haven’t had a chance to try multiplayer yet. The toughest part was understanding the region pressure rules, and I swear that they worked differently between campaign missions 1 and 2.
The impact of regions seem to really fall off after the early game phase. I’ve seen talk of units requiring ammo, and that would greatly increase the need to control regions near the front line. However, I worry that expanding your territory is a little too effortless at the moment.
example: you move 4 units into neutral territory. You are now off the supply network and have to build a outpost to access some abilities. But after killing an enemy unit, the entire region is instantly yours and all of your units have access to all or your resources.
I guess I’m saying it is both too easy to capture a region, but also not very impactful when you do. Maybe regions could be upgraded with different infrastructure bonuses, so they don’t have to have a big impact at first, but they can be developed to be more valuable over time. Also these bonuses could be permanent so you are creating an incentive for enemies to take your favorite regions from you.

Supply lines. I said earlier the resource flow is frictionless. That can be a positive and a negative. Moving away from finicky micro management is probably a good idea, but I feel a real absence of vulnerable supply lines in the current “region network” of supplies. I feel more comfortable not having to worry about defending a supply chain in my own territory, but I feel like my offensive options are similarly limited. There isn’t an enemy supply line to sever or exploit. My tactical options are many, but my strategy feels like I’m playing Risk, and just rolling my strongest army into the nearest territory, and then the next, and the next, with few other considerations. (this may just be a feature of the early campaign missions, I really should try multiplayer)
I would love to see an encounter in a campaign mission where the enemy is heavily fortified in front of you and the smart solution is to cut off their supplies (could be a road, an outpost or some other line), with an obvious effect of weakening their combat effectiveness. I would prefer for this interaction to use the normal systems of the game, and not just be some scripted event. Ideally, single player campaigns should teach you tricks that could also be used in multiplayer matches.

Whew, I better call it there. Feel free to respond with your own tangential thoughts.
This was created for Kyle’s druthers. I hope it was worth it.

Welcome @Darclas and glad to have you here! Always happy to engage with people interested in the game.

This is amazing for me (and the team!) to hear. It was a big risk doing The Big Shift so to hear that it was recieved so well by someone totally new to the game tells us we made the right call.

We’re doing a bit of reorganizing the factions for incoming patches, so interested to see what you think here. We actually don’t want too prescriptive of build orders, and want to largely leave it to the player to decide what to build, especially in light of limited resource pool. Interested to hear what you think after that.

One thing I’ve noticed is that people don’t so much make the learning jump for banners have a pressure “amount” and not that “banners capture regions”. The regions in CH 1 have low capture thresholds, and later chapters its a bit higher. I think we could probably standardize it though to make it a little easier to clock.

Definitely agree with this and I think the new changes to factions (and ammo!) will really help this. We also have a few things coming in that I think will help regions feel more flavorful and “necessary”. It’s definitely a balance for the campaign vs. skirmish though, so we’ll see what makes sense. That said,

Yeah we are looking at stuff very similar to this.

This is a huge discussion internally. I think the long story short is “we aren’t going to spawn stuff in the back of your base in the campaign game” a la XCOM. The campaign maps are meant to tell a story instead of being super challenging maps (but still are hopefully difficult!), so we’re reserving a lot of what you’re talking about for skirmish/multiplayer. Not to say we don’t want to do some emphasis on networks in the campaign, but if the AI relies on them too much the story may fall a little flat. It’s a forever push and pull of “area control” vs. “tactics” for us, and for campaigns we are definitely more in the latter. That said there are definitely some later maps that have logistics components, but it’s definitely not Starcraft style “fight against a skirmish AI in the campaign” style.

Actually, as a small plug, I talked a lot about this at the recent Tacticon event on “narrative in strategy games”. You may like it!

Really interested to see how the new upcoming patches play into this. I think the Skirmish game is where Cantata’s systems will really shine, and the campaign will ideally just feel like a great way to explore a really interesting story.