Time for one more round of Crusader Kings II. Last time I allowed myself to get hooked to this game, it took me 30 hours to get away from it. Let’s see how it ends up this time.
In real life, I’m from Croatia. I would not call myself nationalistic, or even especially patriotic, but there’s a lot of history in my country and I have an interest for it, so I always at least try to pick it when that’s an option in the game.
The thing is, I suck in Crusader Kings, and playing as Croatia isn’t as easy as starting a game in Ireland (or newbie island, as many experienced grand strategists love to call it). I gave a game or two in Croatia a shot, but it never got far in any of my attempts.
This time, I’m playing for the experience and I decided to play in ironman mode, meaning the game will auto-save every six months and that’s it – there’s no saving and reloading from my side. This means that whatever happens, happens and I’m bound to lose relatively quickly, but at least it will be an interesting story.
So let’s look at Croatia in 1066, shall we?
Looks kind of OK, no? Well, since I suck at this game, a kingdom is far too much for me to handle after not playing for so long. We will play as count Petar of Veglia instead. This is a much more humble choice.
The county of Veglia has the city of Veglia and the bishopric of Krk. Krk is actually an island in the Adriatic sea, though this isn’t very obvious in the game.
We are not at the top of our dynasty, but I guess there is a way to make ourselves into the kingdom’s heir, probably. I don’t think I’m capable of that, though. For now, I should take a look at our ruler. First thing I notice is that he isn’t married, so this should probably be rectified. Also, he is Chaste, Temperate, Envious, Humble and Weak. He also tends to spend a lot of money. Overall, I wouldn’t call him an especially bad guy, but he doesn’t particularly excel at anything either.
While looking for a wife, something is immediately apparent. We could actually enter a betrothal with our uncle’s 2 year old daughter (yup, our cousin), who is right now the sole heir to Croatia. Within a couple of decades, Stjepan could be king. This scares me, though, so instead, we go for something slightly less weird in this day and age – we marry our aunt! Since she’s 25 and looks 40, we’ll be able to start pumping out children we can trade into marriages very soon.
That being said, Stjepan does have an ambition to become king of Croatia available, so that definitely is a future option.
Moments later, we are at war with Venice, because our fine king decided it to be so.
I lost some troops in this, but gained favor with the king. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for him to give me the duchy of Croatia.
Over the years after that, I’ve spent a lot of money organizing feasts, fairs and hunts, waiting for the count and his five to finally get a child, but it just would not happen. I tried sending my courtiers to various other counties, hoping to get claims there, but none of my nobles were important enough for a marriage like that. There was also a very brief holy war, but nothing else.
At this point, my best bet is to have a son, or even a daughter I could marry matrilineary. I’m sure one of the mayors in other counties would be OK with such a marriage as long as it’s a daughter of a count and not just a courtier.
A month later
The thing about games like Crusader Kings is that they are sort of marathoney. This means that when someone decides “I’ll play Crusader Kings”, they usually give up on the next few days-worth of free time.
As for me, I played for a couple of hours and then returned to the same save well over a month later. This was not good, to put it mildly. You can blame any inconsistencies in style or content on that fact.
Now I’ve been watching some Let’s Plays on YouTube, mostly by people who are a by no means experts, but still on order of magnitude better than me. Watching them, I’ve created a sort of flow of activities in the game. Being a count, it’s not like I have a lot of things to do. I need to:
- Look for diplomatic opportunities.
- Hold a fair/great hunt whenever I can.
- Try to keep vassals happy.
That’s exactly what I was doing. Meanwhile, Stjepan’s ambition is to have a son and a few months into the load, his wife get’s pregnant. This is something I forgot to take a screenshot off.
Other than the great hunts, though, nothing of note happens during the pregnancy. Alas, I wanted a son, but I got a daughter and named her Mare.
Not all was lost, however. For some reason, Duke Zvonimir decided it would be completely fine to marry off the heir to Slavonia matrilineary to my daughter.
In the early 1072, Ceca get’s pregnant again and by the middle of that year, something happens I’ve never seen before, what with usually playing as characters of a higher rank. My king offers me a position on the council.
By the end of the year, Ceca gives birth and this time, it’s a son named Castimir. This one will hopefully be my pride and joy, but you never know. This also means an ambition is fulfilled, so it’s time to pick a new one. I weight the options and pick to try and increase my intrigue. It seemed the one most obtainable at that point.
I immediately arrange a betrothal of Castimir and princess Neda, the heir to the Kingdom of Croatia. For some reason, King Krešimir adores me.
Over the next few years, nothing of note happens in the county of Veglia. Outside of it, King Krešimir organizes a Grand Tournament, which I attend, and I’m also allowed to approve or ignore the Byzantine Emperor’s decision to introduce medium crow authority. Why I was able to vote on that, I have no idea. Medieval rules are strange to me.
At this point, the second session ends, as I was getting tired. I’m also noticing I tend to speed up the game more often now. This will probably end up costing me.
The third session
This one started only a day later, so everything was still fresh.
A few moments (maybe a month or two) after loading up, our spymaster get’s a breakthrough in technology. A week later, he dies. I guess it was too exhausting. It’s the year 1075, by the way.
Stjepan current ambition, and it’s been this way for a few years, is to raise his Intrigue to 8. This can be done through random events, but we’ve been extremely unlucky with these, so the stat actually got lowered. Because of that, I decide to cancel his ambition in hopes of deciding on a new one after a certain amount of time has passed.
After a few months, this is exactly what happens. I would have preferred to pick “Have a son” or “Have a daughter”, but neither of these were available. Instead, I decide on “Become chancellor”. Currently, Stjepan’s Diplomacy, which is a chancellor’s primary attribute is at only 9, but it’s been as high as 14 before and could get that high again. Additionally, the King loves Stjepan, so he has a decent chance of achieving this. If he does, he will get another point of diplomacy as a reward.
Right after this, the King decided to arrange a great feast in Zadar. Again, since my character is now someone’s vassal, unlike in other Crusader Kings games I’ve played, I get to see what it’s like on the other side of the table. During the feast, we get random events which mostly improve my relations with the King.
Duke Mihajlo of Duklja decided it would be a good idea to invade the Kingdom of Croatia. This means the feast has to be cancelled, but the King doesn’t call for my help yet. Since I have time, I decide to try my luck with a plot – I plot to kill Duke Mihajlo.
Initially, there’s a small chance of succeeding, but I can call in for help from other characters. I’m not really sure if killing the Duke will help my or anyone’s cause, but at least it’s good fun and good training.
Not many are willing to join and some join after I give them a bag of gold or two, but overall, it’s somewhat promising. He’s far away from me to, so if it fails and I’m discovered, I’ll be just fine.
Pretty soon Mare, Stjepan’s first child, is old enough to start her education, so I send her off to a courtier somewhere in the Kingdom. He has a high Diplomacy attribute, so she may learn something from that.
Around the same time, our Chancellor dies, so we need to find a new one. There are no good candidates around and I’m having a hard time finding someone from outside the realm, so I invite a courtier from Bosnia, with 10 points in Diplomacy. It’s not great, but it’s the best I could get.
It’s actually a good idea to see who we can get every couple of months. You can never have too many good courtiers.
In August of 1078, there’s a special event involving a merchant caravan. I decide to welcome them and threat them nicely and for this, Stjepan gains a eunuch follower.
What does that mean? Well, we simply get one more courtier. It’s a eunuch, so his fertility is set to -5000%. In the real world, this would mean he can’t have children. In the game, you never know, but I’m guessing it’s about the same. It’s an average character, in no way special except for how I got him into my court.
There was something that’s been bothering me from the start. The City of Veglia isn’t under my control, even though it definitely should be. Instead, the Merchant Republic of Venice owns it. Crusader Kings can be extremely fun if you play it rashly, even if that style causes you to lose. I decide to risk it and declare war on Venice.
It wasn’t very fun, though. It turns out, Venice has a huge military and the County of Veglia cannot compare at all, even with Duke Zvonimir as an ally. The war was lost and I had to waste a total of 200 gold on it, bringing me all the way down to -50.
You know what that means? It means I’ll be playing at maximum speed for a while, because I can’t really do anything. It also means my next report will be a couple of decades later. It’s time to focus more on the game and less on the writing.