Kaiserreich, a popular alternate history mod for Darkest Hour, recently released its 1.7 update. Kaiserreich is an exhaustively complex scenario for the Hearts of Iron 2-derived strategy game Darkest Hour, packaged as a full modification, and celebrates its tenth anniversary this month as well.
I dearly love Kaiserreich. Its alt-history setting is well-thought out and realized. As in Darkest Hour or any Hearts of Iron game, players choose a nation and guide it through war and peace from 1936 on, making important decisions, designing and directing their armies, and so on. Despite the engine’s age, Darkest Hour is a great experience in its own right – the final and best iteration of HoI 2, and far superior to HoI 3.
In Kaiserreich, the Central Powers won the First World War. The defeated Entente powers of Britain and France fell to Socialist revolutions, with the royal family fleeing to Canada and a rightist French government in Africa. German colonies, greatly enlarged, extend across the globe, but a showdown between the forces of Syndicalism and Mitteleuropa is imminent. India is divided and headed for war, and the United States, robbed of the moderating influence of FDR, seems destined for a second Civil War.
Just a few months ago, Kaisserreich 1.6 released, overhauling the Indian subcontinent. 1.7 is a more modest update, though Mexico has received a good deal of necessary work. (Mexico is quite a fun experience, incidentally – if you’re lucky, you can intervene in the Second American Civil War and steal back the lost states.)
It’s an astonishingly flexible and polished experience, the product of a decade of work. The alternate history setting means that various gameplay elements can be balanced without making the whole exercise inaccurate. Unlike the standard HoI/Darkest Hour experience, which tends to play out WW2 along historical lines with historical actors, every playthrough of Kaiserreich is unique. Almost every nation has the opportunity to join a different faction, and the mapgame plays out in very unpredictable ways.
You can download Kaiserreich from this Paradox forums thread (I recommend the ModDB link). For those interested in the setting but who might not have access to Darkest Hour or the time to play it, Ofaloaf’s outstanding LP “This Land Is Your Land” is ongoing, serves as a solid introduction to Kaiserreich’s mechanics, and is a great read in its own right.