Combat is just part of a wealth of gameplay systems in Clockwork Empires, and Gaslamp Games is determined to keep it from feeling either tacked on or too prominent.
In a new blog post, designer David Baumgart explained that he plans for combat to be slow-paced, largely positional, and "determined more by supply and setup rather than tactical micromanagement".
"This makes it a game of strategy over tactics, and tactics over twitch. To further that point, as is proper in a city-builder game, thoughtful positioning is everything," he said.
"Just as it’s important where the mines are built in relation to the middle class housing and the metalworks, just so it is important to be mindful of the placement of your defensive wall, the artillery squad, and Steam Knight patrols. Rather than a reflex AWP shot, think of it more like gardening, albeit bristling with barbed wire and Redcoats."
Gaslamp has some really interesting ideas for how combat will work, as one of its key tenets is that NPCs have their own personalities. As such, the disposition of the characters you assign to command, NCO and general roles will affect how they behave in combat.
This emphasis on characterisation would make losing hard, but Gaslamp wants defeat to be something you accept as just part of the story - not a major setback requiring a restart - so soldiers won't always fight to the death. It swings both ways, though; to stop you just ploughing your way through via military strength, victory will come at a cost, too, eating into soldiers' stamina pools.
The full post has some more details, but as Gaslamp says, the city-building sim is still a long way out so "there’s not much use in getting into the gritty specifics" right now. We have no idea when Clockwork Empires will launch but I send Gaslamp fanmail every few months begging for attention, so if there's any change you'll hear about it.
Thanks, PC Gamer.