Crusader Kings: A Dynastic MasterpieceMay 18, 2020 | 1 Votes
Usually, strategy games are rather straightforward. The goal is to strengthen your domain as much as possible, build an army, and wage wars to dominate your enemies.
This isn’t the case in Crusader Kings. Instead of simply waging war, your goal is to ensure your dynasty/family is as prestigious as possible, rivaling prominent medieval families. You’ll also engage in courtly intrigue, manage the education of the next generation, improve or sour relationships with other characters, and of course, wage war.
As someone who spent at least 300 hours playing Crusader Kings II (which is free-to-play on Steam), I’ve went through countless difficult moments and absurd situations. One thing is for sure though: every minute I spent playing it was more than worth it.
With that said, let’s take a good look at why you’d want to try the game out, regardless if you’re a strategy gamer or otherwise:
A huge learning curve
Like most Paradox-developed strategy games, Crusader Kings II (and its predecessor and successor) have tough learning curves. The first time you’ll drop into a game and look at the entire map, the first thing you’ll definitely say is:
“What am I supposed to do now?”
You’ll have to take note of a lot of jargon and in-game mechanics including titles (baron, count, duke, king, emperor), character traits, and marriages, and the religion mechanic. Thankfully, the game has a rather long tutorial and you can even try using cheats to help you learn the game’s mechanics bit by bit.
In any case, try not to get intimidated. Crusader Kings may take time to fully learn and master, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll sift through the game’s menus like clockwork.
The joys and pains of ruling
In Crusader Kings 3, you’ll play as a ruler. You can be a lowly baron and count, a powerful duke, a strong king, or a duly-elected emperor.
Regardless of your rank and stature though, you’ll experience both the joys and pains of ruling over your subjects. If you have vassals (or people you lead), there will always be a faction conspiring against you. Some demands include changing a law, replace you as a ruler, assassinate someone, or independence. Once these factions have enough power and rulers on their side, they’ll then revolt and you’ll either have to agree or fight them. In any case, there are always consequences from your actions. Personally, I can’t count how many times I tried to keep my realm at peace, only to have shadowy figures conspiring behind my back.
However, there’s a great sense of euphoria if you manage to play as a well-respected and strong ruler where everything goes your way. The feeling of happiness and relief when you put down a rebellion and execute troublesome vassals and winning a hard-fought war against a foreign invader can never be understated.
Playing as a matchmaker
In the many hours you might end up spending in Crusader Kings, you’ll undoubtedly allot many hours playing matchmaker. As a ruler, you have the power to decide who to marry and who among your non-ruling family members should marry. With that said, you’ll spend a lot of time sifting through the list of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes.
You see, every character in Crusader Kings has genetic traits and different attributes (diplomacy, stewardship, martial, intrigue, learning). As much as possible, you’d want your character and dynastic kin to marry those with positive traits and high attributes. For example, marrying a character with the “Genius” (+5 in all attributes) and “Quick” traits will give you a chance to produce offspring with the aforementioned traits.
Dictating the flow of history
Crusader Kings 2 and all of Paradox’s strategy titles like EU4 and Victoria are essentially alternate history simulators.
In your case, if you play as a powerful ruler, you can influence and directly play a monumental role in changing history. For example, you can become the Umayyad ruler of modern-day Spain who managed to subdue the last of the Visigoths. You can then turn your gaze upon France and wage war against Charlemagne and the Franks.
You can also opt to become a powerful Catholic king with sway over the Pope. You can ask for a Crusader against non-Christian realms. Instead of doing so for the Holy Land, you can opt to do so for places like Tunisia, Persia, and even West Africa.
Unfortunately, one of the worst things about Crusader Kings II is its vast library of DLCs. Although it’s safe to say that these DLCs are worth the purchase, most have features that could have been added to the game via a free patch.
For example, let’s say you purchased the DLC “Horse Lords” which adds more depth to playing as the Mongols and the nomadic nations. With that said, it should have come with the unit pack and portrait DLCs instead of having to buy them separately. We hope that this won’t be the case for Crusader Kings III.
Crusader Kings III is upon us
Crusader Kings III is nearly upon us. Set to release on September 2020, it has a larger and more detailed map and you can actually see your characters animated instead of them being just portraits. Most of the best features - basic and DLC - have been carried over from Crusader Kings II. There’s even a possibility of China and even parts of southeast Asia added to the mix, especially if you look at the map.
In any case, it promises to be one of the highlights of the year and is definitely a game you’d want to look out for.
Overall, it’s not too late to dive into CK2 and it’s definitely something you’d want to do if you’re a huge fan of strategy games. With CK3 preparing a crusade, it’ll definitely be a great entry point and is a great gauge if the franchise is a perfect fit for your preferences or otherwise.