Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Adam Smith)

I have never had a ruler this handsome or beardless.

I’ve counted my plots before they hatched, I’ve duked it out with my brothers and sons, and I’ve lorded over an entire continent. Now, having lost more than I’ve gained and suffered more than I’ve succeeded, I’m finally ready to share Wot I Think about the majestic Crusader Kings II.>



Crusader Kings II: The Kotaku ReviewI was playing as the King of England. I ruled for over thirty years, sometimes a tyrant, other times a hero. When I died, I could keep playing, because I was now controlling his son. Who, it turns out, not only had a lisp, but was gay, whose arranged wife hated him and wanted him dead, whose brothers instantly declared war and whose holdings were soon being picked over by Frenchmen.

That would be fairly entertaining if it was a scripted occurrence. Or the result of dramatic writing. What makes Crusader Kings II so amazing is that it's not.

For years now, Paradox has been toiling away on its grand strategy games, releasing a number of series that, while differing slightly in focus and in historical setting, are all generally about the same thing: taking total control of a people or nation. From continental invasions to building a market in some backwood village, you control everything that goes on in your lands.

Crusader Kings II is no different in this regard. Anyone who's played a Paradox game of this ilk before will be right at home with things like its interface, battles and movement. What may not be familiar is the way the game has you managing not just places, but people as well.


Getting There. There's never been any question there are some incredibly detailed and flexible mechanics running Paradox's grand strategy games. The problem has always been in the terrible way those mechanics are presented to the player. While CKII is still far from perfect in this regard, most of the really important stuff can actually be accessed and understood using the game's own tutorials, a first for these kind of games (normally you need community-driven FAQs to help you get your head around things).

Crusader Kings II: The Kotaku Review
WHY: It's like being the Game of Thrones. You build castles and invade Kingdoms, but you also get to bang courtiers and humiliate that disappointment of a son you banished to Wales .

Crusader Kings II

Developer: Paradox Interactive
Platforms: PC (Version played)
Released: February 14

Type of game: Real-time Kingdom Simulation.

What I played: Played a number of singleplayer games as England, Scotland and The Holy Roman Empire. Will update with multiplayer impressions if I can find the time/opponents.

Two Things I Loved

  • It's an all-encompassing simulation of the management of a medieval kingdom, breathtaking in its scope.
  • It's an all-encompassing simulation of the management of a medieval kingdom, breathtaking in its scope that also has a soap opera bolted onto the side.

Two Things I Hated

  • The game is reliant on you clicking hundreds of different buttons, regularly. Unfortunately, dozens of them are buried in places that are tough to find.
  • There's so much to learn and do that the game needed a good tutorial. It doesn't have one.

Made-to-Order Back-of-Box Quotes

  • "Medieval Europe, why do you hate gay people?" - - Luke Plunkett,
  • "The most fun you can have with your breeches on!" - Luke Plunkett,

People Power. Despite the fact I had a Kingdom to rule, I found myself spending most of my time worrying about the King's court instead. Through its emphasis on dealing with individual inhabitants of the game, CKII lets you conduct diplomacy, arrange marriages, educate kids, plot assassinations, bully vassals, piss off the Pope, claim other people's land and hook your 2 year-old son up with the 51 year-old Queen Mother of Norway. You can even award someone the title "Keeper of the Swans". It can be exhausting, but it also gives the game a very personal feeling. Sure, you're spending time looking down on Europe like a God, but you spend more time knee-deep in real, human politics, a rarity for a video game.

Randomly Generated. You can start the game from pre-defined moments in history between the 11th and 15 centuries, and when you do, the people and places of Europe are locked in. Everything that happens after that first click, though, changes every time you play. A son who loved you dearly and supported you as Chancellor in one game could literally stab you in the back in another, meaning even repeating the same game as the same ruler in the same place twice never gives you the same game. It's a blast seeing the politics of a Kingdom unfurl anew every time I start a new game.

Grand Scope. This emphasis on personal relationships bleeds over into the larger strategy of the game, and enriches the whole experience like few other games of this type can manage. You become invested in the relationships you're forging, and because they're often extensions of diplomacy, you become inordinately passionate about their outcomes. I mean, on one hand, all you're doing is sliding numbers around and adjusting values, but good god, when those numbers are represented as catty Spanish princesses trying to kill my wife while I'm off subduing Belgians, it just sucks you right in.


What? As I said above, the game's UI is... better than usual, sure, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. Paradox really needs to get some help in the field of "put buttons and commands people need to play the game where people actually need them".

Huh? Paradox also needs help in the field of "OK, so our systems are complex, so let's make our tutorials thorough and easy to understand". Because they're not, which is a shame, because that's going to put off a lot of people who, with the right hand-holding, could really get into this game.


I can finally, after years of only talking about these games with people who play military strategy board games in their spare time, recommend a Paradox grand strategy game to more "casual" (warning: relative term!) gamers. Crusader Kings II still has serious issues with accessibility, but once these are overcome - and they are worth overcoming - you'll find one of the most challenging, entertaining and rewarding strategy games you've ever played.

Product Update - Valve
2012-02-17: v1.03b

- Loading a save where you had marked characters of interest or non-interest will no longer crash the game
- Fixed a bug with the de jure modifier not being initialized correctly for most kingdoms and above
- Fixed a tooltip crash in the Realm Tree
- Fixed an issue with long MP game connection times
- Fixed an issue with burgher heirs retaining burgher laws when inheriting a feudal demesne
- Fixed several script errors with the special CoAs in Dynasty CoA Pack DLC
- The texture in the Dynasty CoA Pack DLC now works correctly on all graphics cards
- Children of rulers now automatically get the appropriate claims when you start a new game (they don't need to be scripted in)
- Fixed the Steam install script so it won't run every time you start the application
- In order to ask for an invasion CB, you must be at peace and either have a claim on a primary title of the target's, or have fewer holdings in your realm
- AI will now change tech focus
- Revised reverse demands for CBs to make them more interesting
- Diplo AI: Will not allow matrilineal marriages with unimportant characters
- Diplo AI: Will say no to marriages that would make valuable courtiers (councillors) move
- Diplo AI: Will be reluctant to let skilled courtiers move to marry
- Diplo AI: Will now sometimes grant titles to unlanded courtiers again!
- Diplo AI: Fixed a bug where a completely beaten AI would surrender too easy
- Diplo AI: Muted AI spam about marriages if player already declined offer
- Diplo AI: Will not declare religious wars for overseas territories that de jure belong to an independent duke or king of its own faith
- Invasion AI: Better at not disembarking into an enemy army
- Invasion AI: Optimized prio target selection
- Invasion AI: Fixed an issue with pointless counter-invasions
- Invasion AI: Will now load armies in port when possible, in order to avoid loading armies onto the wrong fleets
- Invasion AI: Should now understand how to target peasant rebels
- Resigning now changes the checksum, so you cannot join an MP game without restarting the game (which would cause an OOS anyway.)
- Boosted the strength of peasant rebel units by 50%
- Fixed a bug with the CB for the Institute Gavelkind plot
- Upped the length of truces to 10 years (from 3)
- Added fractions to the revolt risk in the province view
- Added a monthly law vote check to make sure laws pass when they should
- Fixed a bug with port buildings not giving more galleys
- Fixed a problem with running the game on large TV screens
- Raised mercenary hire costs a little bit
- Flank leader damage bonus changed from 1% to 2% for each point in martial
- Fixed an issue where granting titles would disband troops
- Fixed an issue with a plot where the target would retain his title even when he folded
- Fixed a problem with playing the Earl of Durhamn causing immediate game over
- Ask for ransom interaction can now be initiated with the liege
- Ask to ransom interaction in the diplomacy window now has a proper title when selecting target
- Rebalanced the initial situation between William, Harald and Harold
- Gave Edward III a claim on France so the 100 years war bookmark will work correctly
- Corrected the history of Gevaudan to avoid dead "Serene Doges" of France at startup and make sure it has prince bishops at the end

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Adam Smith)

I haven't actually been a king at all, not even for an hour.As many of you will have noticed, Crusader Kings II came out on Valentine’s Day. This, as it turns out, was a good thing. I’d already played the beta extensively and have only emerged from the full version when the fact of being a biological entity has demanded that I do so, or when the necessity to write about other things has arisen. I’m not ready to write extensively about wot I think yet – it’s a big game and I’ll be thinking lots about it – but it would be remiss not to acknowledge the release and the hours I’ve already enjoyed.


Product Release - Valve
Crusader Kings II is now available on Steam!

Crusader Kings II explores one of the defining periods in world history in an experience crafted by the masters of Grand Strategy. Medieval Europe is brought to life in this epic game of knights, schemes, and thrones...

Additionally, you can now purchase the original Crusader Kings Complete on Steam!

Announcement - Valve
Crusader Kings II is now available to pre-purchase on Steam! Act now and receive the first two CKII DLC's upon release and the original Crusader Kings Complete to play right now!

Crusader Kings II explores one of the defining periods in world history in an experience crafted by the masters of Grand Strategy. Medieval Europe is brought to life in this epic game of knights, schemes, and thrones...