Edit: By the way, if you wouldn’t mind taking a few seconds to click a link, I’d love your help cheesing a local newspaper poll to help my cousin win Athlete of the Week. It would be a big morale boost for her in an otherwise really crummy school year, so if you could head here and vote for Julia Holland, it would be appreciated!
I have never played a Crusader Kings game before, but I heard some intriguing things about the series, and saw the latest installment was on GamePass and… wow. It is a lot.
It feels like a history test I completely forgot to study for. There is an overwhelming amount of information to digest, but once you start digging through it, also a thoroughly interesting and unique strategy game. The sort of game you feel like you could play 100 hours of, and still not have a complete mastery over every system.
Even keeping track of who owes fealty to what hierarchy in which castle and who is married to who and will inherit what from where within a small portion of Ireland makes the mind reel, and then you scroll out and see this massive world at play. It’s fascinating because it’s clearly grounded in reality to a great degree (the countries, the way land, titles, succession, etc seem to work), but it also lets you play with history however you want.
In my nascent dabblings with the game, I’ve defaulted to the lowest common denominator as a way of conquering land: military might. I simply besiege my neighbors until they fold. If I’m feeling crafty, one of my council members spends a couple of years crafting a bullshit paper trail to allow me to make a contrived claim-by-rights to a certain section of land. My great great grandfather’s gardener’s dog once shat there, etc, and I hold that up as a justification for invading. Because, y’know, I’m the rightful heir.
And while this playstyle works, in a fashion, it feels like the equivalent of a caveman banging rocks together to make fire, while standing next to a top-of-the-line induction cooktop. Crusader Kings presents so many interesting way to scheme and plot and kill and marry and fuck your way to power, all of which require a much deeper understanding of the game’s mechanics as well as the desire to sit down and make sense of all of the density of overlapping effects of each action.
It’s the sort of strategy game that no tutorial can accurately lay bare for you, and so instead it seems you have to just jump into the deep end and maybe drown a few times in the pursuit of becoming a better swimmer. It’s daunting, for sure, but it also looks suspiciously like the kind of experience that’s worth the learning curve.
Plus there aren’t many games where you can foil your son’s plot to murder you, plot to have him murdered, marry his widow and father a brother for your own grandchild who you will then get to play as once you’ve kicked the bucket. So there’s that.