PC Gamer
Crusader Kings 2 - Rajas of India

Crusader Kings 2 models the hopes, jealousies and paranoid plotting of around 30,000 unique actors, scattered throughout the troubled hierarchies of medieval Europe. From their varying positions of power, they marry, breed, wage wars and bump each other off with splendid selfishness. It's a pioneering sort of grand strategy soap opera, and it's about to get thousands of extra cast members.

CK2's sixth expansion, Rajas of India, will grow the map by 50% and add 400 new provinces, each with their own cabal of commanders, advisers, vassals children to be traded for political advantage. The rulers of India are mapped to three regional religions, which convey unique socio-economic boons upon their adherents, affecting their war-readiness, stability, and research competence. There's a new set of regional events to reflect the local festivities of the era, new jungle terrain and, inevitably, war elephants. It's plenty to be getting on with, but the most impressive thing about the expansion so far is how much of it Paradox are giving away for free.

That massive map increase will be free to everyone with a copy of CK2, for example. You won't be able to play as the new leaders and factions, but you will be able to meet, barter with and assassinate them. The free update also expands Africa with additions to Abyssinia and Nubia - the remnants of a planned future mini-expack that the designers decided to release as a bonus. That's in addition to Steam Workshop support, Steam multiplayer support, and smaller fixes that the CK2 community have been asking for, like a borderless windowed mode.

Evidently, Paradox are keen to keep their players playing - it's one of the reasons they love making big, brainy sandbox strategy games with lots of replayability. The free stuff encourages further playthroughs, which encourages more stories, which are inevitably shared online, creating a positive wave of word-of-mouth endorsement from which Crusader Kings 2 has particularly benefited. "We want to maintain interest in this game," says designer Henrik F hraeus, "keep it alive, keep it evolving and see what we can do with it."

India was a natural evolution for CK2, he explains. The feudal systems of medieval Europe fit comfortably with India's politics at the time, which made it easier to adapt existing systems to the new nation. There are differences, of course. The expansion should offer a more stable and peaceful starting scenario than central Europe. "The really cool thing about India is that it's such a pluralistic and tolerant society for its time," says F hraeus. "Even in these medieval times with the holy warring going on in the rest of the world, these three old religions of india, the Jain, the Buddhists and the Hindus. They were used to living together, and had been living together for a thousand years, basically, in more-or-less peace."

The Nair are the most peaceful of all. Harmonious internal relations make up for a lack of battle-nous. Hindu territories, meanwhile, are good in a ruck and have access to a wide range of creative Cassus Belli (land and title claims that are used to instigate wars), but are hampered internally by the warrior caste's relationship with the ruling classes. Buddhism's progressive musings on the nature of the soul and infinity manifests as a potent research boost that'll let you grow your society quickly.

To reflect India's tolerant nature, you'll be able to flit between religions more easily than the vanilla game. "I might want to start out as a Hindu ruler and conquer stuff," F hraeus suggests, "and then I switch over to become a Buddhist to research, and I might end up with the Jain to have a peaceful, stable realm, so my vassals love me."

The Buddhist belief system also introduces reincarnation, a particularly interesting addition given CK2's focus on succession. "I want to do really cool things about reincarnation, but I'm not sure how much we're going to be able to do," F hraeus says.

"I want a kid to be born, and people will think he's the reincarnation of a previous ruler, probably one of the better ones, and then maybe he will actually take on some of those personality traits."

I ask if there will be room for players to fabricate reincarnation claims to bestow advantage on your offspring, but the team are worried about presenting the concept in such cynical, power-grabbing terms. "It's a little bit dangerous, we're always stepping on toes. Hindus and Buddhists take this really seriously. I'm not sure if we want to do that."

CK2's rapid expansion - compounded by fantastic community mods - makes it an all-consuming pastime for avid fans. It was a tremendous story generator on release way back in 2012, and all the expansions have had to do is add neat new story beats to play with. Rajas of India's religions should do that nicely, and the extra map space will only make the formerly-squashed Eastern factions more viable. It's out in Spring.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

I don’t think anyone at Paradox expected Crusader Kings II to spread into India with quite as much gusto as it will this March. The next expansion adds around 50% to the world map, with almost 400 new provinces, three new religions and a continent’s worth of new events, including the possibility of chained ‘reincarnation’ plotlines. As always with these generous chunks of DLC, a free patch will be released alongside the expansion and it will contain a surprisingly hefty amount of content, including the entirety of the expanded map, and Steam matchmaking and Workshop support. While it may not have the immediate appeal of the Old Gods to many (Vikings vs Buddhists anyone?), Rajas is the biggest expansion since. More details below.>


PC Gamer

"Do you, Aragorn, son of Arathorn, also known as Strider, from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, take Shelob, a huge terrifying man-eating spider, as your wedded wife?" I do. I did. I married a giant spider! And that's just one of the many bizarre fan-fiction adventures you can have with The Middle Earth Project mod for Crusader Kings II. If marrying a spider sounds weird, it'll make more sense when I explain that I began the game playing as Aragorn's liege: a Balrog.
Before I get into my weird, sick adventure, a little info about the mod. It fully converts Crusader Kings II into Middle Earth. The map is gorgeous and detailed, and there's no shortage of characters and cultures and events imported from The Lord of the Rings. Want to play as Sauron himself? You can. Treebeard of Fangorn? He's there. Saurman the White? Ironfoot of the Dwarves? Elrond of Rivendell? One of those crazy looking masked dudes from Rhun? A Nazgul? An Uruk-Hai? A Goblin? Or something lame, like a Hobbit? They're all there.

Improving diplomatic relations with Mount Doom. Good luck!

So, using the Crusader Kings II Ruler Designer, I whipped up a Balrog to play with. Rather than sticking him in that old dwarf dump Moria, I install him in Dunedain territory, and am quite pleased to see Aragorn himself arrive and become my courtier and heir.

I'm a Balrog.

As a Balrog, I have a couple ambitions. I'd like to have a daughter. I want to research some new technology. I want to hire a capable council. And, of course, I want to kill Gandalf, that bearded prick who trespassed in my house and then had the gall to smash my bridge -- while I was on it! -- when I came up from the basement to politely ask him to keep the noise down. So, I send an assassin after him.

Now it's Gandalf who shan't pass... HIS NEXT BIRTHDAY! Zing. Burn. Pwned.

Yeah, fighting with firewhips while falling though the center of the earth looks cool, but poison is so much more civilized. I know Gandalf's pal, Radagast the Brown, agrees with me, because he immediately poisons me back, and I die. Damn Radagast, you vengeful hippie wizard. Chief Balrog is dead! And just a couple weeks after taking office. I take over as my heir, Aragorn, and quickly swear fealty to Sauron. Because, you know, with Gandalf out of the game, you can forget about marshaling the eagles, or scaring off the Nazgul, or de-witching Theoden, or any of that stuff, so it's pretty clear how this whole war is going to shake out.

I quickly learn that prior to Gandalf's death, he'd already identified the One Ring and sent Frodo off to Bree. Being Aragorn, I naturally meet Frodo there, but the story takes a turn and without getting into too much detail about who did what, let's just say Frodo winds up not having the One Ring anymore and instead it finds its way onto my finger.

Don't worry, Frodo, I'll take it from here.
The bearer of the One Ring gets quite a few stat effects, like enhanced cunning, faster movement, extended lifespan, and apparently a wee bit of a hit on fertility. Still, I should get married and at least give babymaking a shot. I scour the realm for a suitable wife, though most of my own kind are fairly appalled that I've taken Sauron's side in the war.

Some people focus on the spider part. I focus on the noble part.
I do find Shelob, however, living in some sort of Goblin realm, and since the goblin chief approves of my support of Sauron, and since Shelob has a positive opinion of me, I figure, hey, why not? Why not marry a giant blood-sucking spider? I figure the mod won't let me, but the mod lets me. And then I figure it's a goof, and the mod simply doesn't know that Shelob is a giant spider, but the mod knows she's a giant spider. The mod is well aware.

Like the song says, love the one you're with. Love the one you're with.
Sadly, the only option I'm given is to destroy my spider bride with fire, which sort of stinks. I honestly wanted to be married to a giant spider. Who the hell would ever mess with me? You don't invade the lands of a guy who marries an enormous spider. Dude's crazy.
With Shelob dead, I try to marry an Ent, but can't find one that will agree to marry me. I try to marry Arwen, like I'm supposed to, but her guardian Elrond doesn't like me -- for some reason -- and won't agree to the marriage. I have him assassinated, hoping to have more luck with his heir, Elladan, but he doesn't like me either, so I have him assassinated as well, and so on and so on, killing the next four or five successors, in a desperate attempt to find one who will agree to let me wed Arwen. I'm just a romantic that way.

I miss my giant spider wife.

I try the same with Eowyn, killing a bunch of her family members, hoping to eventually find one who likes me, but somehow their opinion of me only grows worse and worse. As it turns out, even I don't like me much. I'm not sure what the source of Aragorn's misery is. Is it the crushing weight of the One Ring? Is it that I married and then destroyed a giant spider? Is it that I killed Elrond and a bunch of other elves in an effort to woo Arwen? Is it my crippling impotence?

Anyway, I notice in my Intrigue panel that I have the option to commit suicide. Considering all the enemies that I've made, and that the One Ring means fathering an heir is almost impossible, and that I attempted to marry a talking tree at one point, killing myself suddenly seems to be the most reasonable option.

I did my best. That's all anyone can ask.
Accomplished nothing of note? I assassinated Gandalf and Elrond. I stole the One Ring from Frodo. I MARRIED A GIANT SPIDER. We have a very different definition of "accomplished," video game. Very different.
Installation: I will give you instructions, if you do not know the way. Download the mod. Extract it to your CKII mod directory (even with a Steam copy, look in My Documents > Paradox Interactive > Crusader Kings II > mod). When you start up CKII, just tick the box that says Middle Earth Project, and start playing!
PC Gamer

Paradox have blown their conference's announcement horn, summoning a horde of new games and expansions to the sweltering shores of Miami. But have those games arrived by longboat, frigate or submarine? Actually, it's all of the above, with their upcoming catalogue covering the full breadth of their internal Development Studio titles. As well as the expected expansions for Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis 4, they've revealed the existence of the long-awaited Hearts of Iron 4. If that weren't enough, they've also announced a brand new Norse-inspired RPG called Runemaster.

A Hearts of Iron 4 announcement, you say? Best bring out the Churchill.

Hearts of Iron IV challenges players to face the brutal conflict of World War II in a multifaceted grand strategy game, where history can be fully relived or rewritten from the perspective of a global superpower attempting to change the world, or a small nation simply trying to survive.

Not much is known right now, except to say that Paradox want HoI4 to be "better than EU4", and that it won't be released this year.

On to the new new thing. Runemaster is an RPG from PDS, making it a pretty big departure from their grand-strategy comfort zone. It's also a fantasy title, making it a really big departure from their historical comfort zone. Here's the teaser:

"Runemaster is an RPG set in a fantasy realm based in the rich, majestic traditions of Norse mythology, casting each player in the role of a unique champion in a time of chaotic upheaval. Procedural maps and quests will ensure that no two playthroughs are identical, allowing players to tell a saga that is uniquely their own. Explore vast vistas through the six worlds of Norse myth, command troops in tactical combat, and define your champion through the choices they make."

As for the expansions, Crusader Kings 2 is getting Rajas of India, which, as you might expect, expands the map. With India included, the game's map becomes 50% bigger, incorporating an extra 300+ provinces. And Europa Universalis 4? That expansion will be called Wealth of Nations, and it'll focus on improving and expanding trade.
Jan 17, 2014
Community Announcements - doomdark
This patch makes the EU4 converter fully compatible with EU4 patch 1.4 and the Conquest of Paradise expansion. We also fixed a bug where cloud saves could get corrupted if they were too big.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Crusader Kings 2 is one of my personal favourites of 2013, as it was in 2012, but it didn t have a place in our calendar. It could been included using the Trojan Horse of DLC, as XCOM did thanks to Enemy Within, but it s hard to pick out the stand-out expansion for CK II. Even The Old Gods, which expanded the timeframe, felt like part of the whole rather than a distinct item. That is part of the brilliance of the design, but it also makes it much harder to say Crusader Kings II: Old Gods is one of the games of 2013 rather than simply saying, Crusader Kings II is one of the games of the year. Again. Here s why I think that argument is valid.>


Announcement - Valve
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The Steam Holiday Sale will run until 10AM PST, January 2nd. Complete information on Daily Deals, Flash Sales, Community Choice Voting and more can be found HERE.

Dec 16, 2013
Community Announcements - doomdark
Here are the major changes (complete list here! ):

- Added a "Depose Antipope" Casus Belli
- Added an "Antiking" faction. The leader usurps the liege's primary title, deposes the antipope and passes papal investiture. The Pope can be called into the resulting war.
- Not possible to set up an antipope within 50 years of one being forcibly deposed
- Fixed bug in Linux where the game became totally unplayable if you ALT+TAB
- Now possible to play in Ironman mode with the ruler designer and mods (but you won't get achievements)
- Significantly reduced the amount of event-spawned troops across the board to better reflect the rebalanced levies
- Fixed crash bug in the Mac launcher
- Fixed religion reformation crash
PC Gamer
Game of Dragons

"Khaleesi"... "Car-leesy"... "Kaleeeessi". Oh, sorry. You've just caught me practising my Jorah Mormont impression. I want to get it perfected before next week, when Crusader Kings 2's brilliant Game of Thrones mod will launch its Essos update. That's because the arrival of the Eastern continent will also mean the introduction of its most famous inhabitant: Dany Stormborn and her three dragons.

"Daenerys is obviously a very important character in the Song of Ice and Fire," write the mod's creators in a development update, "and so we have given her a detailed event chain that spans the Clash of Kings and Feast for crows scenarios to try and recreate her story for the player in the mod."

"The main chain will follow her progress from Qarth to Astapor where she claims an Unsullied army," they continue. "From there the player must defeat the other cities of Slaver's Bay, and will hopefully one day eradicate slavery and return to Westeros. There are a few tangents the player can go on as well, maybe you will choose not to go to Slaver's bay and go straight to your homeland to reclaim your birthright?"

Elsewhere, the mod will be updated to take advantage of the base game's Sons of Abraham DLC. The Cardinal mechanics have been re-appropriated for the fantasy world's fiction - meaning the High Septon will be elected by a Council of the Most Devout. The DLC's pop-up events will also be repurposed with a ASoIaF twist.

The mod's update will release next Tuesday, 17th December. You can download the Game of Thrones mod from ModDB.
Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 75% on Crusader Kings II!*

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