Great Houses of Calderia PC Preview

Great Houses of Calderia has all the tools but not the instructions for a grand strategy.

By Fragnarok, Posted 31 Jul 2023

Resistance Games is a relatively new studio, having been founded only a few years back. The Finnish studio proudly showcases that they are backed by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund. So far, Resistance Games has released a single title, Company of Crimes, in 2020. That 1960s London-inspired strategy game has gained a decent, though not large, fan base. Resistance Games is also teaming up with a different publisher for the release of Great Houses of Calderia with Firesquid. This publisher is also relatively new to the business, making it unclear what enticed Resistance Games to pick them.

Unlike other medieval strategy games that span multiple nations, the land of Calderia is a single island. Centuries ago, it was a prosperous land, but the greed and corruption of its rulers became its downfall. Throughout the rest of the world, even uttering the name of Calderia was met with disdain. But, a new, bolder Emperor came into power and sent his Viceroy to conquer the lands. Today, roughly 60 or so years later, the issues of past bickering are once again on the rise.

Great Houses of Calderia, PC, Review, Screenshots, Gameplay, RTS Game, Sandbox

You take control of just a single lordly house, a small fiefdom on the island of Calderia. Players should curb their expectations: Great Houses of Calderia is not an epic quest like the Crusader Kings series. Instead, it zooms closer in on the daily routines of the lords, ladies, knights, and other leaders. Rather than getting an overview of what is going on, you are able to directly follow a noble as they give orders, roam the land, make deals, and possibly even fall in love.

After naming the house, you must pick a tradition - a set of principles the family is known for. The current options in the beta include Peacemakers, Idealists, Warriors, Isolationists, Schemers, and Scholars. Each provides a starting and ongoing bonus but no direct penalty. The base traditions can be changed during the middle of a game, and one can also later branch out with like-minded ideas. For example, the “Soothsayers” tradition is a direct upgrade to Schemers, but Isolationists can also work towards it.

From there, four adult siblings are generated, and one must be selected as an heir. They can be of either gender, are roughly at least 30 years of age or older, and may be married or single. They will all have different levels of starting stats: Diplomacy, Economy, Intrigue, and Military. Each will also have random traits that affect the results of in-game conflicts.

Outside of the four heirs, various spouses and children will also populate the realm. Players should expect to have command over around 6 to 12 characters, depending on life states. While it is interesting to have all of these people within the house, it would be nice to have some level of customization. Currently, there is no way to adjust personality, stats, appearance, relations, or age. Someone who liked that level of freedom in something like Going Medieval will be disappointed.

Great Houses of Calderia, PC, Review, Screenshots, Gameplay, RTS Game, Sandbox

From there, a settlement is retroactively established. Your house was established generations ago either on fertile flatlands, a mineral-rich mountain, a steppe plagued by random occurrences, or a hillside perfect for crafting. Note that each of these land types is specific to a region of Calderia: eastern flatlands, northern mountains, western steppes, and southern hills, respectively. So the choice can greatly affect close-by neighbors, journey times, and warfare.

Great Houses of Calderia features a short and optional tutorial to onboard new players. You are first instructed to enter the city view, which shows the current task for the commoners. In all cases, crops are a bit short and demand more farmers be allocated from other jobs like smiths and scholars. 

Next, the heir must embark on a diplomatic mission to meet one of their neighboring lords. This conversation is about the current criminals in the area and what you plan to contribute. Players are free to make a selection, but the other leader’s disposition may change based on this. Some choices also further solidify an existing tradition or lean towards a new one.

That is simply the end of the tutorial explanation, and players are dumped back to the world map to figure out what is going on. A prompt will show to view victory conditions. This can include factors like arranging a wedding, participating in an election, and even taking over the Viceroy.

Great Houses of Calderia, PC, Review, Screenshots, Gameplay, RTS Game, Sandbox

The objectives towards victory can both repeat while also having little explanation. For example, two different milestones are about constructing. However, you don’t start with enough resources for either project. Instead, one needs to navigate menus and explore the map to find out where good sources of metal and crops exist. One can either produce them over time or conduct another diplomatic mission to trade for said goods.

Another early victory condition is marrying one of the single siblings. There is no direct list of suitable suitors. Instead, you will need to go city to city and try and find someone as a good match. Will you pick a trade partner, a military ally, someone eager to raise a child, or actually base it solely on love and attraction?

All members of the family deploy to regions in real-time. This means it is usually good to give everyone a task at the same time, especially if the party is in a far-off land. However, just because two nobles interact does not mean the meeting will be successful. Each house has a base opinion of each other, but also further adjusted for individuals. For example, the lords of Aviscay could have great admiration for your fief but still loath your wife. The opposite is also true: perhaps your nephew is the only one who can sweet-talk your bitter enemy.

Even if someone is declared a rival, you can at first only thwart them in open conversation. This is where intrigue comes into play - family members can set up spies in a city. They can delay production, destroy buildings, and generally make that region unhappy. They can even go as far as to assassinate troublesome individuals.

Great Houses of Calderia, PC, Review, Screenshots, Gameplay, RTS Game, Sandbox

When relations truly break down, with both sides having a -40 opinion of each other, war may be declared. One can fight against a specific lord - pursuing them if they join another family or the entire house. Nobles can lead the armies themselves or send independent bands to charge the map, similar to strategy games like Ogre Battle or Dragon Force. Nobles tend to be more powerful in a fight but risk the possibility of dying on the field.

Skirmishes are conducted on one to three Halatafl boards. Not every point on the board is connected - mostly based on terrain, which determines the direction melee units can attack. Ranged units can typically shoot across several spaces. Usually, only one of the boards is the primary objective, but winning on the other two could boost morale or destroy enemy resources.

At present, Great Houses of Calderia is more like a fun giant sandbox and not a clear standalone game. You need to find your own fun among the random events, interactions, and trading. Some players will love the freedom, while others will be perplexed by the directionless opportunities. There is currently an ongoing beta for those that previously helped fund the game. Early Access will arrive at a later undisclosed date.

Kurtis Seid (@KurtisSeid)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Firesquid
Developer(s): Resistance Games
Genres: Simulation
Themes: Empire, City Planning, Medieval, Family, Military
Release Date: 2023-07-23

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