The game looks very nice indeed, definitely on par with CW2's artwork. The map was given a bit more of a greyish gloom than CW2's map, we felt this represented the grimness of the Great War adequately.
To summarize answers to some of the questions:
- This game is a standard AGEOD game (as opposed to WW1G, which was a heavily modified version of the AGEOD engine). There are some new features implemented not seen in previous AGEOD games, for handling diplomacy with neutral nations, a basic research system, and various other small features, but for the most part this will feel like a normal AGEOD game. Combat, supply, command structure (though on slightly different scale), naval units, etc, will follow normal AGEOD engine rules.
- There are 3 playable sides, the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and their allies), the Eastern Entente (Russia, Serbia, and Romania/Bulgaria if either of them join the Entente), and the Western Entente (France, Great Britain, and any other minors which join the Entente).
- Command structure works the same way it does in CW2, but what constitued an Army in CW2 is a "Army Group" (a Front GHQ), an Corps in CW2 is an Army here, and a combined unit Division is CW2 is a Corps in EAW. Units are typically built as divisions. So you'd build, say, 2 divisions and 2 medium artillery units via the recruitment window, and combine them under a commander into a Corps (in the same fashion a Division is formed in CW2). Multiple Corps so formed can be placed under a stack led by a 3-star Army General, who can be attached to a Front GHQ (in the same fashion Corps commanders could be attached to Army HQs in CW2).
- In EAW, all 2-star and 3-star generals allied to one another can MTSG (March to Sound of Guns) to assist adjacent stacks under attack (as opposed to CW2, where they had to be under the same Army command).
- Trench warfare is handled via normal AGEOD entrenchment. Max entrenchment starts at level 1, and goes up roughly 1 level per month between September-December 1914 (there is a little variability on exactly when the entrenchment levels increase). Eastern Entente proceeds more slowly, at a rate roughly equal to half the Western Entente and Central Powers (so in December 1914, the Western Entente and Central Powers will likely be max level 4 entrenchment while Eastern Entente is max level 2). After 1914, the entrenchments go up a level each year that passes.
- Frontage has been heavily reworked in this game, which means there is a limitation to how many units can be involved in any given round of combat. This makes it tough to break through enemy positions if they are well entrenched, but at the same time keeps losses reasonable on both sides. In a test PBEM I have going on now in beta, the Western Front has just entered July 1915, and the Western Entente have been launching attacks against Germany almost every turn since October 1914. So far, they have only moved forward in two regions, but they've kept my Germans on their toes and held me back from unleashing the full German forces upon the Russians. It works well, between October 1914-July 1915, we've seen roughly 1 million losses on the British/French side, compared to about 750K on the German side. The Western Front is more or less static, but it's certainly not boring!
- Ammunition in EAW represents Munitions for artillery, and is only used/consumed by medium, heavy, and fort artillery, and naval vessels. If a stack's Ammunition runs dry, it's artillery stops firing. Artillery is very important in EAW, as it softens up enemy cohesion considerably, and the heavier artillery units have good trench penetration values. But the shells run out quickly, and the player needs to build Munitions Factories (via RGD) to bolster shell production. This is tough for the Russians in particular (who are lacking in War Supply compared to the other sides), and tends to be their Achille's heel.
- Diplomacy is a dynamic element in the game. Neutral nations are represented by off-map regions which can be influenced by the opposing alliances (those who have played the Guns of August mod will be familiar with the general set-up). Each neutral nation has its loyalty split between the Entente and the Central Powers (ex. Bulgaria's off-map region may by 67% Central Powers, 33% Entente loyalty). Diplomats and various effects will gradually change these values, and when a side reaches 100%, it joins the alliance it favors. For the most part nations tend to drift towards their historical leanings, but certain in-game effects can lead to ahistorical outcomes (such as Italy joining Central Powers, or Ottomans joining the Entente). In general, the most likely ahistorical results can occur in the Balkans, but others are possible under certain circumstances.
- There is a basic research system in EAW (not as advanced as PON, but along similar lines). Research categories include: Infantry, Artillery, Gas/Chemical Warfare, Tanks, Aircraft, Submarines/U-Boats (Central Powers Only), and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) (Western Entente Only). Research has various effects, mostly introducing new units and upgrades to existing units, though Chemical Warfare grants Regional Decisions which can be used to soften up enemy positions, and Submarine/ASW research has effects on raiding and protection of shipping lanes.
There were 3 main goals I had in mind working on this game, and I'm very happy with the results:
- Make the game feel like an AGEOD game
- Make the game feel like a Great War game (static in the West, fluid in the East, but with the West still viable for offensives, to inflict losses without much territorial change)
- Make a dynamically fluctuating diplomatic scene, but within confines of reasonable possibilities