Given the overall situation in China in 1936, the Communists certainly weren’t anyone’s favourite to win the Civil War. Mao and the Red Army had barely escaped encirclement and destruction in Jiangxi, being forced on the famous Long March that carried them to Shanxi to a new Base Area. There, they tried to recover their strength and prepare for the next showdown with the forces of Chiang Kai-Shek. Japan loomed in the background, and the basic question was simple: Who would strike first?
This question formed the core of the strategic deliberations the Party found itself in. If Japan struck first, then an alliance with the Nationalists would be necessary to present a United Front to the enemy. If Japan remained passive, then the efforts should be directed against the Nationalists. And while Mao had emerged as supreme in the internal factional struggles during the Long March, he was far from safe. Others may well try to usurp his position, advocating different paths to achieve true communism.
When war actually came, it came from the Japanese. Mere months earlier, one of Chiang’s top generals had taken matters into his own hand and forced Chiang (more or less at gunpoint) to sign an alliance with the Communists (this Xi’an incident is represented in game as a decision the warlords can take - which we thought worked better from a gameplay perspective than a random event that fired at some point). Finally together in a United Front, both sides lost no time in undermining the spirit of the treaty while staying true to the letter. By 1940, the United Front had become more or less a formality.
Looking at the focus tree, you will note that the Communists share the right hand side of their tree with the Nationalists (modders will be pleased to hear that we now have something called a “shared focus” in script, which does about what you’d think it does). Since the the opening missions to the various countries depend on either having the same ideology or very good relations, the Communists start in a somewhat weaker negotiating position than the Nationalists. But changes in the global situation might give you new opportunities - for example if, say, Japan were to fall to communism…
On the left side, the tree deals with the various internal factions in the Communist Party, from Mao and his allies to the Soviet-trained and backed faction under Wang Ming to an attempt at less radical “Social Democracy” under Zhang Lan. In the center, you are presented with the mirror of the choice facing the Nationalists - do you focus on the Japanese threat, or do you try to take the fight to the other Chinese factions and try to gain supremacy before Japan comes knocking?
Representing the Chinese Communists contribution to the war presented us with a bit of a problem - they didn’t engage in open warfare for the most part, and our systems are not really made to represent offensive guerilla warfare. We wanted to give the Communists a real shot at winning the Civil War without having to resort to the clumsy and counter-intuitive system used in vanilla, where you boost party popularity in China to flip states to your side.
So a few late-evening “design meetings” (beer may or may not have been involved) later, we came up with the Infiltration/Uprising system, which is a unique mechanic for the Communists. At the most basic level, it was supposed to let you pay infantry equipment to infiltrate a state. By itself, this does very little - but when you trigger the Uprising, the states you have infiltrated will flip to your side. Depending on your approach, this can cripple the other side’s war economy and strand a large part of their army in enemy territory.
(numbers are not final)
While we did want this to represent the ways the Communists executed their strategy of People’s War, building base areas from which to wage guerilla warfare, we also didn’t want to leave the other side without any way to counter the infiltration. So the infiltrated player can spend resources to try and uncover your infiltration, and, if discovered, to counter it.
We then expanded the system a bit further to make infiltrating a state not just a binary infiltrated/cleared state, but actually allow you to build up a Base Area in several levels. On the most basic level, your soldiers merely sabotage infrastructure and factories when you trigger the uprising. On the higher levels, the state flips to your control and on the highest level even spawns militia units to defend it.
We then adapted this system to also work against the Japanese. Countering infiltration does not remove it instantly, but only reduces the level of infiltration. It is always worthwhile, but it may not be enough.
Note that this system is still in testing and might change before release.
But opposition and warfare is not the only way you can win the Civil War. We really wanted to explore how the Communists could have secured their influence through political means, which brings us to the second unique China mechanic: Political Support.
(numbers are not final)
When the Communists decide to go down the “Social Democracy” branch of their focus tree, they will eventually form a coalition government with the Nationalists, which will begin a power struggle between the two parties. You can then spend political power over a number of days to build your power base in different states. Each state represents a support value, and securing the support of other warlords adds even more support. Once you have more support than the Nationalists, you can make a push for taking over the entire country, eventually annexing all of China after Chiang Kai-Shek suffers an...accident.
The Nationalist player, of course, has ways to counter this, but with political power scarce, eventually something will have to give. Note that you can pursue both approaches at the same time to keep the Nationalists guessing.
More details on how we did this will have to wait until a future diary, in which we talk more about the scripting behind the new features.
That’s all for this week. Next week we will talk about Generals, and why we have been looking at their family tree. For now, have a look at the awesome hats the Heroes of the Revolution wear into battle:
Edit: We forgot to showcase some of the other new portaits for PRC, here ya go:
At 16:00 today, @Da9L and @podcat will show off the reworked German focus tree, attempt to kill Hitler and bring back the Kaiser! So check out the Paradox twitch today at 16:00 CET: https://go.twitch.tv/paradoxinteractive