Oh man, so many ideas; brain buzzing.
First off, a Gonking big round of applause for the Devs who have outlined what looks to be the coolest event in the history of Skyrates.
I have both questions and suggestions:
Question: Just to clarify 100%, you are inclined to go with Sunrunner's suggestion that Trades and Combat still provide profit/bounties IN ADDITION to all the supply/workforce/influence architecture that the Hidden War will add? That seems simplest to me, and lets new players play the basic game until they feel like taking an active role in the War.
Related Suggestion: Players must choose between helping themselves, and contributing to the War effort. Each player has a slider (or text box just like the one that sets armor % for fleeing) on their Options page where they can set what % of their activity will reap the traditional rewards (money from trades, bounties from combats) and what % will result in War Effort related benefits for their faction (Supplies/Workforce). By default
this would be set to 100% Personal Gain (ie. the status quo of normal Skyrates play). This way, players would have to opt in to start playing the Hidden War, and could even split their efforts between personal gain, and Faction goals.
I like the flavor of this, since players choose between War Profiteering, and supporting the War Effort. It also let's new, or uninterested players go about their business without having to think about the Hidden War. Finally, it leaves some room for players to make "gas Money" or to upgrade themselves while still taking part in the war.
Question: Will the use of some Abilities require to expenditure of Supplies/Workforce? That is, in addition to the time it takes to use the ability (based on distance), will there be an "activation cost"? I think this would be a good idea for some abilities (but maybe not all, eg. not for simple Workforce/Supplies -> influence). This would help make the use of abilities a more strategic decision (see next question) AND opens up space for special faction abilities that REDUCE these overhead costs (see below).
Related Question: Will there be a maximum number of simultaneous actions that can be taken from a single skyland by the controlling faction? Can the CA launch an Raid on Skyland A, and while that is on its way, take Defensive action on Skyland B, and Transfer Supplies to Skyland C? Again, I think a limit would be a good idea, but that limit should not be 1 action at a time. That way, certain factions could have a bonus of more simultaneous actions (which still may have activation costs).
Question: It seems that running Missions now produces three simultaneous effects, viz. Gaining Inf, Creating Workforce, and (potentially) raising defense/offense. Trade, meanwhile, serves the sole function of creating Supplies. To me this would seem to create a situation in which you need many fewer traders to accomplish your goals than Inf runners. Since there are all sorts of players (with all sorts of planes and playstyles), I have a...
Related Suggestion: First, take this imbalance into account when setting the Workforce/Supplies costs for various Abilities. In general, you should need more supplies than workforce. Second, add a per-day "upkeep" cost to controlling a Skyland. Each day, the controlling faction loses X Supplies to feeding the populace and general maintenance. If they come up short, Sklyand Defense and Offense suffer.
These two tweaks should mean that factions will still need a good fleet a traders and that those who only want to trade still have a valuable role to play.
I have a few thoughts for Faction Specific abilities, although I don't have a firm idea of which faction they should be assigned to in all cases.
I think that each Faction should have one or more passive bonuses that no other faction has (or maybe some could be shared, but each faction only has the same number of bonuses). Some possibilities, with suggested Factions in brackets.
Command Structure: Faction can launch 1 additional simultaneous Ability from each controlled skyland. [CA/CoV]
Creative Accounting: More of Supplies/Workforce earned on non-controlled skylands goes to your own faction. E.g, the "tax" is reduced from 50% going to controlling faction to, say, 30% (meaning your faction gets 70% of your efforts when you don't control the skyland. [JH/EO]
Blockade Running: Abilities execute faster. The amount of time it takes for an ability to execute is reduced by a %. [AL]
Logistics: The Activation Cost (assuming there is one - see my suggestion above) of abilities is reduced. [CA/JH/EO] * Note: This could be broken down into specialized abilites that covered only certain actions (eg. one for Transferring, one for Arming, one for Raiding. Each faction could thus have a competitive advantage at doing certain tasks, which would make faction team-ups more fun and more likely.
Community Organizing: Defense and Offense stats are reduced at a slower rate, even when the skyland is under attack. (And maybe a bonus to the influence gain from "take back the skyland" refugee missions. [EO]
Finesse: Legendary Combats won take a bigger chunk out of overall NPC presence. [CoV].
As for active abilities, I like the ones already suggested, so I will instead suggest a third class of actions that I think would add more strategic spice to the mix: Skyland Installations.
These would be structures/buildings that the controlling faction could build by expending a large amount of Supplies/Workforce over time. They would remain on the skyland once built, giving that skyland a passive bonus of some sort for WHOEVER controls it. They would not be destroyed upon the skyland changing hands, allowing certain skylands to be turned into more strategic and valuable assets as time went on. It might be interesting to give the controlling faction the CHOICE to demolish certain buildings (if they fear imminent takeover and want to keep them out of enemy hands).
Radio Tower: Increases the number of sklands that are considered "neighboring" for purposes of Abilities/Actions that affect "neighboring skylands" to some extent.
Anti Aircraft Guns (Ack Acks): Permanent (non reducible) bonus to Skyland Defense.
Hospital: Permanent bonus to Skyland Offense (healthcare makes the citizen's happier to support you).
Repair Hangar: Bonus of +X% condition (instant) to all planes passing through.
Staging Ground: Reduced Activation cost and/or increased effectiveness (for Raids, eg.) for Abilities launched from that skyland
Phew! There's more brewing in my noggin, but I have real work to get back to. I'll try posting additional thoughts and clarifications later.