Klingon Academy II: The General War was released back in 2007, and without going into detail, it was a mixed bag from a personal perspective. It was the first Total Conversion for Armada II to feature new campaigns, but the concessions made for that meant the instant action and multiplayer side felt a little hollow. I had always told myself that it was mainly about the ship and fleet combat; basically KA on a larger scale, so the base building was secondary and only there to support that really, but I wanted to go back and redo that side of KA2 at a later date.
Well a lot happened personally, publically and I put down tools on KA2: Empire at War, my new Empire building style version, in the winter of 2008. I packed it neatly away into a corner of my hard drive and forgot about it.
Until a few weeks ago that is, when I decided to play a quick game of KA2, for old times sake. I had forgotten, what with all the headaches in the community, about the most important aspect; fun. I had a really good time playing my mod, although it's rough spots were a little apparent, probably more so to me than others since I knew what I had wanted to do in the first place. So I dug out my old tools and plucked away at it once more.
So, that's the why, now for the what.
The main element that separates KA2:EAW from KA2: The General War is the research. I've implemented a far more comprehensive research element. Now in order to progress and produce your more power ship designs, you need to complete research on their hulls, systems, weaponry and other miscellaneous research. The criteria differ from ship to ship and Empire to Empire. I also introduced some racial handicaps / bonuses. For example Starfleet, as we know, has some pretty powerful capital ships. However being fundamentally peaceful, the ruling bodies of the Federation naturally don't want to escalate conflicts needlessly. It's also a drain on the Federation's economy, which while powerful, is still reeling from the massive conflicts that raged over the past half century or so. Therefore, in order to requisition your heaviest ships out of mothballs, you need to have performed supplementary research, namely a report into enemy vessels in the sector. I cannot unfortunately link this to what ships are actually employed (i.e you can only research it if your enemy themselves are employing capital ships) but, this means that the Federation is somewhat slower to mobilise than a more warlike Empire.
I also wanted to expand on the types of ship available, and to change and refine some of the decisions i'd made producing KA2:The General War. In a cosmetic change, the Freelancer and Clydesdale Class Freighters swapped roles, with the Freelancer becoming the Dilithium/Deuterium Miner, and the Clydesdale the Cargo Freighter. This made more sense from a background point of view, as the Liberty design was originally a FASA design for a mining ship, and the Clydesdale carries those oversize cargo containers, and liquid tanks. I had originally intended to have branching tech trees, and many of the new ships classes came from that decision. However branching trees are some what of a hash-up in Armada II, with the AI being unable to really handle them and so forth. However I liked the classes I had implemented, and so at risk of upsetting the careful balance of KA2:The General War, I left almost all of them in.
I always liked the idea of Scout Cruisers. Basically, Scout Frigates are a little weak for fleet engagements, and so taking an idea from history, I added Scout Cruisers to 3 of the 7 (yes now 7, not 6, more on that later..) Empires. These are the Ranger Class FGSC for the Federation, the D6S Maj'NuQ (War Scout) KSC for the Klingon Empire and the Saurus Class GSC for the Gorn Confederacy. The Romulan Star Empire and the Tholian Assembly are known for their powerful sensors anyway, and the Interstellar Concordium prefers lighter scouts in the post-War of Pacification state they are in. Scout Cruisers trade some firepower for longer ranged sensors and ECM/ECCM equipment, and are useful as both regular scouts (although a little overkill, unless its reconnaissance in a particularly hostile area) and as the eyes of your main Battlegroups.
Another ship type I was intrigued with from my study of naval warfare was the Destroyer Leader. These were a First World War idea, basically somewhere between a Destroyer of the period and a Light Cruiser. Destroyer Classes were built in Flotillas, and there would be a single Leader version per Flotilla. These were often stretched versions of the original and had extra command rooms for the Flotilla Commander and extra communications equipment. They eventually died out as Destroyers became larger and larger and so all Destroyers now carried sufficient equipment and such to act as a Leader without a specialist ship being needed. In KA2:EAW, the Federation, the Klingon Empire and the Interstellar Concordium field Destroyer Leaders. They have a bit more firepower than your regular Destroyer, and often carry ECCM (but not ECM) equipment to help boost the coordination of their Flotilla.
Finally, I also added the carriers present in KA2: The General War as campaign and map units into the buildable lists of each Empire. They function slightly differently, but in order to keep their operation as simple as possible, they basically function as mobile resupply points for Fighters. Fighter have a limited capacitor, ammunition magazine or equivalent for their heavy/secondary weapons, and so need to return to a Carrier to resupply. The Carrier has a special resupply function that recharges these weapons. This function will not work efficiently on larger vessels however, in order to prevent Carriers from being used as advanced weapon rechargers for your fleets. The exact type of Carrier and Fighter each Empire gets is racially varied. For example, the Klingon B10V Talh'VoR (Mother of Death) is a Battlecarrier, and as such is more heavily armed than other carriers. She's no Battleship, but at least can go toe to toe with a Battlecruiser (although presents a much larger target). Their Fighter, the HegH'GogH (Iron Fist) is a Heavy Fighter, designed for fleet engagements to puncture the strong shields of Federation starships. The Romulan Star Empire on the other hand prefers smaller, stealthier ships that support their hit and fade operations, and their Carrier is an Escort Carrier, a modified Assault Transport infact. Their Fighter, the Blade, is a Cloakshape Fighter, more of a manned Plasma Torpedo Tube than a fightercraft, being basically built around a Light Plasma Torpedo Tube. Both the Carrier and Fighter can cloak. They are designed to strike isolated targets without warning and quickly cloak and retreat to a safe resupply distance. The Federation is sort of a control, having a typical Fleet Carrier vessel and Strike Fighter, both being well rounded types. The ISC are similar, boasting better firepower, and neither the Gorn or Tholians use Fighters or Carriers, although the Gorn Confederacy does employ Pseudo-Fighters, essentially Gunboats that are somewhere between a Fighter and a Frigate, with greater firepower than either, although they lack the crew and resilience of a Frigate.
All Fighters are built from the Outpost, a new station for each Empire that serves as a light Starbase. It cannot build anything except Fighters, but it is more powerful than a defence mine and can repair and recrew ships. Starbases are now not buildable stations; you recieve a single Starbase at the beginning of a game and you must protect it, else you will lose your ability to produce your support ships (Construction ships, Freighters etc). However they are as always massively powerful and can stop anything short of a determined Strike Fleet. The Tholians and ISC do not get an Outpost, but their subspace gate/jumpdrive technology makes such installations unnecessary anyway. ISC Fighters are produced by their new super weapon station, the Subspace Research Facility. This station has two special functions besides producing Fighters. The first is a Subspace Portal, allowing instantaneous travel between two points for an entire fleet. The second is Subspace Rift. This opens a gate to Andromeda, and pulls a Neo-Tholian vessel through. This Neo-Tholian vessel will attack all ships within range, although the rift itself can be targeted anywhere on the map.
Obviously each Empire now has more research stations, a grand total of 3 in most cases. They research hulls, conversions (for example, Torpedo Cruiser Conversions of the Cruiser Hull, once you posses the right prerequisites) and weaponry/misc research. Another change is the addition and changes of advanced weapons to each Empires Frigate or Escort. With the correct research, the Federation Oberth and Tholian Feldspar can detect cloaked ships. The Klingon B'rel (Bird of Prey) carries Anti-matter Mines. The Gorn King Snake carries Gravitic Mines which impair the drive systems of an enemy vessel. The Romulan Preax is armed with the crew killing Cohesive Fused Deuterium Irradiation Cannon (CFDIC) and the ISC FF-IV is fitted with a Subspace Jump Drive which allows it to move almost instantaneously from place to place. This is similar to the ISC Star Cruisers Subspace Distortion Drive, except it is shorter ranged but does not require a Subspace Portal to use.
Finally, I have decided to add a 7th race. They are under wraps for now, but hopefully they will prove as unique and fun to play as the other races. They are another aggressive race that oppose the Federation, although for reasons that you might not foresee.