Bring me my sword
To survive as a ruler in these brutal, middle ages world it is necessary to build up your army or ‘levies’ as they are called here. Also Construct castles, walls, keeps and stables in your lands directly held or under your vassals. You do this by spending money that you accumulate through monthly taxation to your vassals and subjects. But, like everything else with CK II there are always other means of monetary gain available to you. However, there is no “Total War” style of strategic battleground battles or Civilization style individual unit building here. In combat it is mainly just a matter of who has the bigger army. Don’t be fooled though, advanced players soon find out that it is far more nuanced than it looks.
Is there heaven at the end ?
Your ultimate goal is to keep the throne or perhaps a throne in your bloodline as long as you can. There aren’t any defined goals or win screens, the game ends at 1453 AD. You do get a ‘score’ at the end but it just tells you how prestigious and pious your bloodline was compared to other historical blood lines. But this type of open-ended gameplay is what Paradox is known for. In the words of T.S.Elliot “The journey, Not the destination matters…”
The ill-fated Duke of Ireland
Here is an example of one of the characters in my bloodline.
I started out as an independent tribal ruler in Ireland. Immediately got married to the princess of the byzantine empire making the Emperor of Byzantine my father-in-law. Few years later she gave birth to a son (oh…glorious day). My brother is no longer the heir to the throne, gets upset and tries to kill my son. I banish him from the kingdom. I use Byzantine’s alliance and defeat neighboring tribes one by one. I am now a Duke. I am told and adventurer is trying to force his claim on my land soon. I don’t think much of it. My queen has died from illness. The alliance with Byzantine is broken. My spymaster informs me some one in the council is trying to kill me. I imprison him and execute him. I am now known as “The Terrible”. My people revolt. I fight them with all I have. I have exhausted my army. An army of 7000 soldiers is in on Irish shores, four times more of what i have left. It is the adventurer. I check to see who he is. He is my brother, banished three decades ago he has returned. He absolutely destroys my armies. I died in battle. My kingdom is mine no more.
Why you should definitely play Crusader Kings II
It is true, this is a daunting game and quite difficult as well. But, if you get past that initial shock of the scale, the complex UI and grasp a few key elements needed to keep your crown succession. What you have is an experience like none other.
It is a ‘Grand Strategy game’ and a ‘Dynasty Simulator’ but it is also so much more than that. It is a dynamic world that cunningly interacts with each other, a political playground of family disputes and international diplomacy with effects on a continental scale and most importantly a sandbox that lets you create your own stories. Despite of its minimalist graphics and gameplay that takes place almost entirely through UI elements you will find yourself caring deeply for these characters who you know just from their portraits, icons and statistics. Playing CK II is like watching a historical novel filled with love, deceit and war unravel before your eyes, where you are the author who crafts these stories willingly or sometimes unwillingly.
I recommend Crusader Kings II to every PC gamer out there especially strategy and historical game lovers. If you love the Civilization games or just curious to play a different kind of game then CK II is for you. And if you have played this game before and were put off by the scope and slow learning curve I urge you to give it another chance (A long solid chance). I promise, you will not be disappointed.
There are countless DLC’s available for Crusader Kings II and paradox is still releasing new DLC’s. You can grab it all in a steam sale which would be much cheaper but you wont need all the DLC’s. I suggest you buy the base game first and then buy the main expansion DLC’s one by one as you want. Also when you do buy the game don’t forget to try out the “Game of Thrones” Mod.
Also, Subscribe to some of the YouTubers that are really good at grand strategy games and have extensive guides to get you started.