Phew, I did it. I finally finished my first “round” of Crusader Kings 2, the most addictive game I’ve played in a while! I wanted to update more about it in the process, but besides having some Uni work to do I also staged a play and had lots of visitors… and there was just no time. I am planning a proper Let’s Play though, since I am nowhere near fed up with this game yet!
This is probably the most amazing thing about Crusader Kings 2: I love strategy games, and I used to play loads and loads of Civilization, for example; but with the Civ games and most other strategy titles, there came a point real quickly where I’d get annoyed and tired of playing. I used to re-start my Civ games so much, I hardly ever finished a round. You know, when you get an unfavourable starting position, or make a few mistakes in city placement or have some bad luck in battle? Somehow that always ruined the game for me, because I strove for perfection. More often than not, I just played on because I felt I had to finish it, even though I knew I could not win any more. I really tried to get better at Civ IV or V, but somehow I never did, no matter how much I read about good strategies.
In Crusader Kings 2, failing is part of the game. Even when you get knocked off the throne, defeated in battle, marry the wrong wife, have ugly and lisping children… it’s all part of the story. I never thought there’d be a strategy game that could capture this role-playing feeling so well. Maybe it was Let’s Plays like Flamboyant Schemers that made me realise this (go read it, it’s awesome). Or maybe the fact that whenever I discuss the game with my friends I extrapolate way too much on my marriage politics or the coolness of my rulers.
You can certainly play the game like a hardcore strategy title. Conquer the world (i.e. Europe) and not bother yourself too much with the characters and their petty lives. But that is what I draw most of my enjoyment of the game from.
In my first campaign, I started out as the King of Sweden, and actually managed to stay in power for the rest of the game. In the beginning, I didn’t conquer or expand at all, I was way too busy learning all the elements of the game, keeping my vassals from murdering me, and finding the right women to marry. I quickly learned that alliances at the right time can save your ass, and also that Counties can change their de jure category when they belong to another country for too long. Sorry, Norrland. Also, I wiped out an entire family (the Sverkers), because they wouldn’t stop plotting. They were asking for it, really.
After playing some multiplayer games, I figured out more of the conquering stuff, and started trying that “at home”. Sweden then surprisingly quickly conquered Denmark – and finally a faction plotted me to the throne of Norway as well. I founded the Empire Scandinavia, and ruled over it for 53 years. My vassals didn’t like my son, though, and ursurped the throne for some other dude, and I had to plot for a few generations before I found a way to get it back. In the meantime, Scandinavia had conquered all of Scotland and Ireland, won France from the Aztecs in a 4th crusade, and ursurped the throne of Ruthenia. By the end of the game, I was queen of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, had installed most of my family in vassal positions, and was slowly conquering England. My son and heir was married to the Empress of Scandinavia (NOT a matrilinear marriage), so if I had died sooner, the Empire would have been mine. Alas, in 1453, I reaped a total of 56.600 points.
Now that’s one side of the story. The other tells the magnificent tales of Emperor Sigtryg the Magnanimous, who united the Empire. Or the tale of Astrad II and his loving Mongol wife Yesui. Or the dark and sinister story of how little King Einar was pushed off the roof by his Guardian. Or how King Halsten Half-Hand lost his hand! Or the life of lustful (yet celibate) King Jedvard the Great, who ruled for 63 years and live hale and hearty until 87.
That’s why I want to play again! There’s just so many constellations and events I haven’t seen yet, so many different things to try. I could see what it’s like to play a Republic, or an Islamic nation. Or try to fight my way up from an impossible situation. Or finally buy the Old Gods! Well, suffice to say, there’s more to come.