It was prototyped with a board game...
...which Larian Studios Founder Swen Vincke hopes to release with the special edition and as a stand-alone product. OK, that's not conceptually insane, but it does tell us something about Larian's creative freedom and business sense. If they make something they think is fun, they want it out there.
The board game release isn't solidified quite yet -- Larian still has to decide who's going to produce it -- but Vincke has some options and sounded ecstatic about the idea.
Oh right, the non-board game: this is the tactical map, where troops can be shuttled around and RTS battles initiated. When you claim a new territory for your empire, you've got to keep it in check diplomatically, or by tossing a few occupiers in. These regions produce gold, and some contain factories which can be used to produce new units.