Some regulars on this site may be wondering what happened to team Blast Process on Dave’s XCOM diary? Well I’m sorry to say that the aliens won that war, and they have all been eaten. I’m just kidding, no one knows what happened to them as the diaries suddenly ended without reaching a conclusion. But after several long months I am here to take up the slack with several new video game diaries in a brand new section called Blast Process Plays.
Here I will be recording my best and worst moments in gaming and also giving the readers a chance to offer suggestions wherever possible. We will also be showing several other less involved games including some multiplayer action between other members of Blast Process, for example our recent game of Battlefield 3 featuring myself and Dave.
Now onto my first game, Crusader Kings II.
Crusader kings II allows up to 32 players to rule a Medieval dynasty from 1066 to 1453, although it is classed as a real-time grand strategy, it is something much more. You take direct control of a single landed noble from anywhere in europe and beyond and you must make decisions over every aspect of his or her life. The goal of the game is not world domination or becoming an unstoppable powerhouse, although that is entirely possible to make happen. The basic score that this game uses is prestige, your prestige will grow with every successful action or choice you make and will fall with every failure or embarrassment, you must do everything in power your ensure the legacy of your dynasty will pass on from one generation to the next.
CKII has been out a little over a year now and despite this it is still immensely popular. One of the reasons it still stands up to more recent competitors is its huge modding community and the releases of masterpieces such as the Game of Thrones total conversion mod. For this play through I will be using the Prince and the Thane mod. This doesn’t drastically alter the game, it simply improves and expands the features that already exist. I have put many hours into the game in the past, but never using this mod package, so this play though could contain many surprises.
For the game I am choosing to play as Murchad MacDonnchad Ua Briain, King of Munster, although I think I will call him King Murchad I for short. During the 11th century Ireland was ruled by many Kings, although they hold the title King they are little more than Dukes or Counts, the minor kingdom that I rule is Munster, it is a small area to the south of Ireland. The starting date is 15th September 1066, and my neighbors over the sea in Britain are all in the middle of a 3 way war for the crown of England. Kings Harold of England, Harald of Norway and Duke William the bastard of Normandy all claim that they should be king. And on the far side of the Mediterranean there is fighting between the Byzantines and Persians.
Murchad I is 39 years old, Irish Gael, Catholic. He was married but his wife has sadly died and there is no name listed. They have one son, Brian who is 18. I also have two half brothers and a sister, my sister has died childless, but I have several nephews through my brothers. One of my brothers Lorcan, is also my heir instead of my son. I’ll explain why later.
As soon as I begin playing I am greeted with five icons telling me I have important things to deal with. The first is telling me that I’m not married and should find a wife and the second is telling me the same thing about my heir, so I’ll start by sorting that out. CKII uses that well-known dark age method of finding a suitable wife, online dating. I bring up the wife browser and rank the girls by age and by social status, I am king after all. Top of the charts is Urraca of Castille, she is the countess of Zamora and Toro and also the oldest on the list at 33, this may not sound old by todays standards, but back in 1066 it’s getting on a bit. She is rich and powerful and her traits list as greedy, flamboyant and lustful. Perfect wife material for a middle aged king I would say. I send her an email, and by that I mean a guy on a horse with a letter, it will take 6 days for him to reach her. Next up is my half-brother Lorcan, he already has 2 sons so a young fertile wife is not necessary for him either, which is lucky as his traits say is fat and cruel. For him is Urraka of Navarra, 26-year-old daughter of the King of Navarra, her father is minor King like me so she will provide my dynasty with a healthy chunk of prestige and power, but she holds no titles or claims of her own and her traits are nothing special.
So that’s the first two problems solved. Next up is to choose an ambition of my character. Ambitions are like mini missions that you give yourself, you can have just one active at a time and once you complete it you gain a reward that is based on the difficulty of the ambition. All characters have these and helping other people fulfill theirs is a good way to earn friendship. For myself I’m starting of small, get married, should be sorted in the next 6 days.
Point number four is telling me that my son has no title, this is a problem as I don’t have land, and therefore titles to give him right now. But point number five might sort this out for me. It is telling me that I have a du jure claim over the county of Desmond my neighbor to the south. Du jure is Latin for “in law”, it basically means that as King of Muster the county of Desmond should lawfully belong to me. So first order of business is to declare war on Desmond and take back what is rightfully mine, this will give me a spare title that I can give to my son killing two birds with one stone.
Getting my son a title and some land will move him up the rankings in the race to see who my heir is, which is what I mentioned earlier. The laws of succession in my little kingdom are a bit odd, it is called Agnatic Tanistry. What this means is basically all members of my dynasty are able to inherit my titles, and the order is determined my election. The electors are myself and all nobles of 1 or 2 ranks below me, so in my case there are 4 electors, myself as the king, Earl Ragnvald who rules the county next to mine, but accepts me as king, mayor Mael-Martain of Limerick and Bishop Sean of Killaloe who are both rulers of towns within my county. So far my half-brother is winning, but the bishop is yet to vote for anyone. The tool tip informs me that the electors will tend to choose older more powerful heirs rather than young ones.
Once the county of Desmond is under my rule and granted to my son, I’ll be able to begin setting my sights on the rest of Ireland as its High King. This means I’m going to need to get some claims to lands to the north, which is something I don’t have yet. So I send two of my trusted nobles, my spymaster and chancellor off north to start causing trouble and trying to find a reason I can go to war, and as an afterthought I’ll send my court chaplain to Rome to make some friends on my behalf. My council consists of 5 people, the chancellor who helps with the admin stuff, the marshal who trains my soldiers, the steward who deals with economy, the spymaster who wears dark cloaks and hides inside various things and finally the chaplain who deals with any religious matters. Giving people seats on the council will raise their standing with me as well as making us both more powerful, and unlike land titles the council seats do not get passed down to their sons. Choosing who to appoint to your council is important, I already have all five seats filled and a quick glance tells me they are all doing well.
Remember that bit at the start about reader participation? Well if you want to suggest names for any children my characters may have, I will document their lives as they grow up under my rule. They are unlikely to ever become rulers themselves as I already have a son and a half-brother with big ideas, but you never know what might happen. Names for both boys and girls are appreciated, as well as any other comments and suggestions.
I supposed I should actually un-pause the game now and start playing!