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You’ll likely remember that in May we alerted you to the Game Of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings II. It’s first release was already incredibly impressive, packed with features and civil war. And now they’ve released a version 0.2. Goodness knows how good this will be if they ever reach 1.0.
It's not like I wasn't in love with Crusader Kings II enough as it was, but ever since the wonderful Game of Thrones mod for the grand strategy title turned up, it's been destroying my social life.
Having been first released in May, a major update has just been made that not only fixes a bunch of bugs and crashes (the mod is still in beta, remember), but also introduces playable Wildlings, and a beefed-up Night's Watch to combat them.
A few less exciting changes were also made, including some improvements to the mod's visuals and the addition of a few new quests.
[RELEASE] A Game of Thrones v0.2 [The Citadel]
Familicide is an actual word with a meaning as horrible as you might imagine. A lot of the things that happen in Crusader Kings II are horrible and familicide is just one of them. I’ve misplaced more blood relatives than I’ve had hot dinners, and that’s mostly because heating food takes time and that’s time that could be spent crushing infidels, betraying loyal vassals and hoping for young children to die in a war that I started so that I can inherit everything they own. With a major patch and expansion due, I spoke with project lead Henrik Fåhraeus to learn what horrible history the Sword of Islam DLC will add.>
June 2012 will bring the Sword of Islam expansion to Crusader Kings II, allowing players to select any Muslim dynasty at the beginning of the game and “delivering a wealth of specific new mechanics distinctive to these rulers, creating a whole new gameplay experience. Laws, marriage, holding, traits, titles and more will work completely differently.” Equally exciting is the news that a major patch will be arriving at the same time as the DLC, expanding the map into Mali-Songhay, and adding more complexity to claims, a new plot and expanded combat. The actual DLC will set you back $9.99 or an equivalent of your local coinage. A trailer of maps below.
Given the fact most big games are made by Westerners for Westerners, we don't often get the chance to assume the role of a serious, proper Islamic (or even Middle Eastern!) character. And no, Ubisoft, a fairy-tale, clichéd ideal of a Persian Prince doesn't count.
So it's awesome seeing Paradox give Crusader Kings II players the chance to do just that with an upcoming expansion for the game called Sword of Islam.
The Islamic factions, once walled off as unplayable in the game (and more often than not the enemy, given the time period involved), are now there to be played, with Paradox going the full authenticity route by changing how the game's titles, marriages and laws work to better accomodate the differences between Christian and Muslim realms.
The map has also been expanded to include more of the Middle East and Eurasia as well.
It's out next month, and will cost $10.
Those who'd prefer Westeros to the Middle East, well, there's something out now for you as well.
I mentioned in my review of Crusader Kings II earlier in the year that the systems put in place by developers Paradox seemed ideally suited to George R R Martin's fantasy universe. While there are larger things going on like Kingdoms falling and wars being fought, CKII places just as much importance on the more personal side of feudal rule: marriage, politics, alliances and back-stabbing. Which just so happens to b the same blending of the big and small picture that that makes GoT that much more appealing to a wider audience than your standard fantasy tale.
It was only last week, then, that in lieu of a decent official Game of Thrones title I was recommending people keep an eye out for a Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings II instead. Turns out you didn't have to wait long, because it's not only been suddenly released, but it's already surprisingly playable and, more impressive, comprehensive.
Beginning during Robert's Rebellion against the mad King Aerys, CKII:GoT lets you play as any title-holder in Westeros. And I do mean any. The mod team has certainly done their research, as going beyond the big names like Aerys, Robert and Ned Stark are hundreds of lesser lords and officials, some featuring as characters in the books/TV show, others only mentioned briefly or in passing.
What does this mean? Everything I said about the main game in my review applies here, only everything I loved about CKII is now magnified, because I'm not playing as some random English Duke, I can play as Ned Stark. Walder Frey is there, and he has 100 kids, and they can all be married off to unsuspecting husbands/wives/victims. Even The Wall and the Night's Watch are there, though without Wildlings in this beta release, they're not doing much.
Honestly, it's worth a download just to use it as an interactive Game of Thrones encyclopaedia, clicking through the family trees and lineages and histories not only learning about the world, but admiring the amount of work that's gone into this mod.
In terms of what it adds or changes to the vanilla CKII, there's nothing too different. There's a new war system in place to better handle the nature of the conflict (since it's one giant civil conflict), a new assassination system and the incorporation of knights into the character system. Aside from that, and some welcome (and extensive) re-skinning of CKII's graphics, things play mostly the same as they do in the standard game. Some added, extra events - winter is coming, prisoners demanding trial by combat - are a nice touch.
I haven't run into too many issues so far, but I've only been playing as the Starks, and I've only been playing over the weekend. I'm sure something will pop up sooner or later, this being the first beta release of a mod, but whatever. It works, and it's stable enough to enjoy. Know though that it does need some balancing, especially with regards to how strong King Aerys' forces are early on. Get past the early wars, though, and things seem to settle back down to a more normal pace.
If you're a strategy game veteran, you'll have no problems here. Those who are big GoT fans but who haven't played a game like Crusader Kings II, don't panic; it may look complex, but it's surprisingly easy to get a handle on, and you can have enjoyable games only knowing the very basics of its structure. Later playthroughs, where you can dig a little deeper, will only get better.
You can download the mod at the link below. Note that, being a mod, you'll need a copy of Crusader Kings II first, which you can get here.
UPDATE - Seems Crusader Kings II is $10 on Amazon, or $12.50 as part of a deal including other Paradox games. Great timing, that!
A GAME OF THRONES v1.02, A MOD FOR CRUSADER KINGS II [Official Site]