I want to play Crusader Kings 2-Advice for how to best get into the game

Dalisclock

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I picked up all of the most recent Paradox games over the past few months and have been grabbing the major DLC when Steam does a deep discount sale. All of them sound interesting and complex, but the one that sounds the most interesting is Crusader Kings 2. There's also the fact that saves can be imported to games further down the timeline(CK2->EU4->V2->HOI3) so when I was ready to jump into EU4, I could go ahead and do that.

The thing that's holding me back is the fact that I've been by many, many sources that Paradox games are very, very complex and it's less a learning curve then a learning cliff. So I'm prepared for it to be a struggle to pick up but at the same time, I'm looking forward to the point I do grasp it and can really enjoy it. I tried EU2 a decade ago and remember being totally overwhelmed by it, which is why I never got very far into it. I barely remember any of it.

So the question before the forum is, what is the recommended best way to get into CK2? I plan to read the manual, try the tutorials and watch some of the tutorial web videos. Is there more to this or am I over thinking this?

Another thing that comes to mind is: What is the best country/area/time/settings to start with? I haven't played CK2 at all yet(I have another game I want to finish first) so I don't know what's available. I imagine one of the larger nations in Western Europe is a safe bet but I could be wrong.

Any other advice in general?
 

WouldYouKindly

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Yeah, it's a bit steep. I recommend you go with the Dwarf Fortress motto of losing is fun for a while.

First, marriages are important. Always check if you can get an alliance out of it. If not, check the stats of the bride. Children are effected by the stats of their parents so if the father has good martial stat but bad stewardship, it would make sense to choose a wife with a good stewardship stat so the kids can get the best of both worlds.

Second, Mercenaries are only to be hired if you really have more money than you could want to spend or the situation is truly desperate, like a civil war over your title that you are losing. They cost a lot in upkeep and have no qualms about joining your enemies should you be unable to pay them any further.

Third, maintaining the relationships between yourself and your vassals is of the utmost importance. Give gifts and grant honorary positions as often as you can but keep either some gold or an open position to appease a duke who doesn't care for you, should the situation arise.

Fourth, learn the hierarchy. It's not nearly as bad to have a baron that dislikes you as it is to have a duke that dislikes you. It generally goes mayors, barons, bishops, counts, dukes. If you end up forming an empire, you can even take kings as vassals.

Fifth, improve your holdings. Your personal castles and towns will not improve themselves. You need to spend money and a fair bit of time in order to increase the amount of levies you can raise yourself. For minor wars, as a king, your own levies should be sufficient as vassals don't like raising theirs for too long.

That's about all I got.

Oh, plots are almost universally bad. Try to quash them whenever possible.
 

ExDeath730

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The learning curve is complicated, but it's not really hard to get into the game.

Some specifics for the start, first, go with the 1066 start, it's the most balanced one, and you don't need to deal with the hassle that is the Vikings, because really, after you (hopefully) become a king or emperor, they're more anoying than dangerous, so deal with them in another game, or play as them if you wish, but later, some of their mechanics may be complicated for beginners. Aside from that, start in the so-called noob island, that is Ireland, Dublin is actually a pretty good start, the good thing is that you can experience the climb of starting as a Count or Duke and then go all the way up to king.

This will make you have to deal with most of the mechanics of the game. After this first game, really? You can take on Iberia if you wish, it's hard, unpredictable and full of war and betrayal, just be careful with Duchess Urraca, she is really anoying and will try to stab you in the back. Be careful with plots, but use it as well, if for instance, it's a plot to kill that Duke with "Ambitious" that is on a faction to put himself in the throne, just let the thing go, if possible, back it yourself. About the focus, Seduction is overpowered these days, but most are really good, the entire Learning quest line is very fun, both of the possibilities are really fun.

Most importantly than all that? Learn to lose. Actually, you will lose, and you will fail, things will not go as plained in a lot of situations, so learn to deal with this. If you learn to have fun with all the crazy drama and wackyness all around, you're gonna have some good times with this game.
 

Jandau

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Just play the game. There's a whole checklist of things that you need to do to play well, but you lack context for these things and seeing them written out isn't going to be all that helpful.

To be honest, the reputation of Paradox games is a bit overblown, and CK2 is one of their "easier" games. Yes, there's a lot to take in, but not nearly as much as you might think. Also, the tooltips in the game are pretty damn great, and you can hover your cursor over pretty much any variable to see a list of things that affect it, and most are pretty self-explanatory.

One thing I would suggest is when you finish the tutorials and start your first proper game, take a look at the row of icons in the top left corner of the game window. These open various tabs related to the governing of your kingdom/duchy/empire/backwater - advisors, laws, intrigue. Poke around in those, press buttons and see what happens. That stage of discovery is one of the fun parts of CK2, don't rob yourself of that by overthinking it and overpreparing.

And as someone has suggested, start in Ireland. It's basically Tutorial Island - small, contained environment, controlled conditions, little outside interference, clear and simple goals that can be attained in multiple ways, once conquered provides a nice base for further gameplay. It's pretty great for new players.

And again, don't worry so much. I wish I could go back to the "I have no idea what I'm doing" stage of the game...
 

Recusant

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My first thought is this: go out and get yourself a copy of Emperor of the Fading Suns. That game had a learning space elevator; if you can handle that, CK2 will be a cakewalk. But that's not really a realistic suggestion. What is is to read the manual. All of the manuals, actually, for every DLC pack you have (the ones that change things, that is: Sword of Islam, Legacy of Rome, The Old Gods, The Republic, Rajas of India, and Charlemagne; the rest are just cosmetic and music packs), but bear in mind that much of the information contained within is going to be out of date. I came in from EU3, so I already understood most of the game's systems; it sounds like you won't have that luxury. Here are some more specific tips:
1. After you've read everything, there'll still be a lot you don't understand. Don't go in thinking you've got it all.
2. The game has no real "win" state; you play until you get bored or run out of time.
3. The time frame is limited; it's still way more than you need.
4. Seriously. Even if your goal (most of the goals you'll have will be self-imposed) is something like "convert the whole world to Ibadi" or "sequentially sacrifice the Pope, the Caliph, and the Ecumenical Patriarch to your hideous pagan gods", you'll have enough time, even though it may not seem that way at first.
5. With that in mind, don't (once you get into the swing of things) ignore the later start dates, there's a lot of fun to be had there that many people ignore.
6. There are only two ways to lose: not having an heir of your dynasty when you die, and losing your last title. This means that a setback- even a really, really big setback- isn't a game over, or necessarily even close to one. Mongol horde took your empire away, leaving you a mere count? Start up a faction and take it back!
7. Your vassals will like you more the more similar to you they are. Traits change often, religion changes rarely, culture almost never. Bear that in mind when you choose who to appoint.
8. The rules and mechanics are complex, often stupidly so (I recently spent a number of hours each Saturday trying to teach an eager and intelligent friend the basics; we'd break off whenever I saw his eyes glaze over and I'd reflect how odd it was I'd navigate all these systems without even thinking about it, and often found myself wishing for more depth and complexity), but it's not as scary as it first seems. Even if you're not the sort of person who sees a hundred-page manual as a selling point (you weirdo), you can have a lot of fun with the game once you get it down.
9. If you're not already something of a history buff, you'll find yourself becoming one. Don't fight it.
 

Amaror

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Dalisclock said:
I picked up all of the most recent Paradox games over the past few months and have been grabbing the major DLC when Steam does a deep discount sale. All of them sound interesting and complex, but the one that sounds the most interesting is Crusader Kings 2. There's also the fact that saves can be imported to games further down the timeline(CK2->EU4->V2->HOI3) so when I was ready to jump into EU4, I could go ahead and do that.

The thing that's holding me back is the fact that I've been by many, many sources that Paradox games are very, very complex and it's less a learning curve then a learning cliff. So I'm prepared for it to be a struggle to pick up but at the same time, I'm looking forward to the point I do grasp it and can really enjoy it. I tried EU2 a decade ago and remember being totally overwhelmed by it, which is why I never got very far into it. I barely remember any of it.

So the question before the forum is, what is the recommended best way to get into CK2? I plan to read the manual, try the tutorials and watch some of the tutorial web videos. Is there more to this or am I over thinking this?

Another thing that comes to mind is: What is the best country/area/time/settings to start with? I haven't played CK2 at all yet(I have another game I want to finish first) so I don't know what's available. I imagine one of the larger nations in Western Europe is a safe bet but I could be wrong.

Any other advice in general?
My advice:
- Don't just try the game again and again trying to grasp the mechanics, it will leave you frustrated.
- Don't play the tutorials, they're worthless at best and cause even more confusion at worst *Cough*HOI3*Cough*
- Pretty much same goes for the manual, it's not horrible, but too much information at once that you can't really comprehend and successfully put into the game.

What i do recommend is watching youtube videos. Mainly Quill18 and Arumba. Arumba is better at the game than Quill, but Quill is better at explaining stuff and pretty good for getting a good grasp of the base mechanics. When you want the more detailed stuff you can watch arumba once you get the basics.

Best Country to start with.
Ireland. Just choose one of the Ireland minors and try your luck with them. It may sound counterproductive to start as a small nation but larger nations face a lot of complicated issues that small nations don't have. Playing as a small ireland minor allows you to grasp the basic mechanics, use the mechanics to conquer more territory and learn more complicated things as you realm grows and they pop up. It's called the nooby island for a reason.

Oh and disable the sunset invarion dlc. It just makes a superpower invade you after a while which you can't really defend against successfully while your still trying to learn.
 

DEAD34345

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I'd say Crusader Kings is definitely the best one to start with, so you've made the right choice there. Unlike most of the other Paradox games it's difficult to totally screw yourself over in that game, so restarting is never usually necessary[footnote]"The exception being that if your dynasty dies out, it's an instant game over. Just make sure you always marry someone young and have plenty of children, and you should be fine on that point.[/footnote]. The DLC has added a ton of cool alternate ways to play the game, but it's probably best to learn as a standard Christian feudal lord in the 1066 start, somewhere in western Europe. An Irish count is the one that's usually recommended, and it's probably the safest place to be in the game to experiment and steadily expand at your own pace. You really don't want to be a republic, a tribe, a pagan or a muslim for your first games, or a part of the Byzantine empire, which has it's own special laws for vassals which you'd have to contend with.

As for what to actually do, just experiment. Crusader Kings 2 was my first paradox game, and I pretty much learned by failing constantly. Treat it as a sandbox, and just laugh at all the horrible ways you can be screwed over.
 

AzrealMaximillion

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I'd say watch some of the earlier videos from Northernlion, MathasGames, Arumba and quill18 om YouTube.

Northernlion started off as a newbie to Grand Strategy games. His early vids (Specifically his "Let's look at Crusader Kings 2: The Old Gods") show how a beginner gets into the games.

quill18 is very good at the game and has a few tutorial vids that go into a LOT of the games' terms.

Arumba is a near expert at the game and with every expansion he goes into the game's files and calculates all of the percentages and numbers involved as well as has modded the game.


All of them with MathasGames included have joined together and have done multiple Campaigns in multiplayer on YouTube.


Honestly, if I had a mic for my PC atm, I'd say to just add me on Steam and I'd run a quick explanation of the game, since that'd be easier for anyone to explain how to actually play the game to you rather than to tell you to just play it and lose.

The game's learning curve us steep as fuck, but it's very fun.

Edit: Start off in Ireland. It's colloquially called Noob Island by the Paradox Community for a reason.
 

Fox12

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Ugh, I tried, but the tutorials were awful. So I looked up a tutorial on youtube. Nine hours. There was a nine hour tutorial to start the game. I like in-depth titles, but that was ridiculous. I'm sure it's great, but I don't have the time to spare on something like that. It's their failure to communicate, really, there's no way the system had to be this complicated and poorly explained.

Still, a Game of Thrones version would be interesting.
 

beastro

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CK2 is the simplest of Paradoxes games with the details involving more the interpersonal side than warfare. Because of that you'll find it easy to get into the rhythm of rising and lowering armies and such.

You can look into watching Let's Plays and such, but really, it's best to jump in and learn as you go. With that in mind, and if you want to go it slow, you can play with the first handle of ex packs and then as you go along open more of the later ones that change the game mechanics like Way of Life so you can focus on learning the basics and then dig deeper (It did help me to get in playing on and off since the Legacy of Rome).
 

Redryhno

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Best way to get into it? Play it. Make sure you get the custom ruler dlc(honestly it should've come with the damn thing, not as a five dollar add-on) and just have FUN(Dwarf Fortress definition of course). Oh, and also some of the Steam Workshop add-ons that add more events and personal estate building.

There's really not much to it and beyond your ruler suddenly contracting the plague and dying three days after starting(has happened too many times for me to not complain about it), you'll get it down eventually. It's a game about land and the relationships that get you someone else's land. Best way to play it I've found is to embrace the shitty aspects of your family members and make up a story as you go along and to keep track of difficult Houses and families for narrative purposes.

 

404notfound

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Dalisclock said:
There's also the fact that saves can be imported to games further down the timeline(CK2->EU4->V2->HOI3) so when I was ready to jump into EU4, I could go ahead and do that.
Be careful with the converter: It corrupted save files and failed to convert according to the last thing I heard about it (this was a few months ago now though so it might be fixed/what I heard might be out of date, still I'd look into that)

Dalisclock said:
What is the best country/area/time/settings to start with?
As others have said, Ireland is a good place to start, I also recommend Leon/Castille in Spain on the 1066 starts, which are my preferred start dates. I think 1066 starts are the best because: there's a good balance between already built up holdings and also giving you the opportunity to build up as you want.

And yeah, don't get disheartened if things go south: it can be more interesting when they do.

Hope you enjoy it.

Edit: also; counts/dukes/small kingdoms are my favourite start ranks. You don't start too big nor too small at that level in my opinion.
 

Dalisclock

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Thanks for all the advice. I am really looking forward to playing this game. The facts that you start almost at the bottom and have to work your way up is one of the appealing things to me because few strategy games actually do it to my knowledge. You always start as head of the kingdom/planet/country and sure, you can conquer other countries and build an empire, but it's not the same as being one of of the low men on the totem pole and eventually(hopefully) working your way into being in charge and then expanding from there.

The fact you can lose your kingdom and still continue the game is interesting because you can (apparently) almost always rise again also intrigues me.

I guess another question is: What are the levels you can start at and how much difference does it really make to start as a count(is that the lowest?) vs. a duke?

Sunset Invasion was the only major DLC I think I passed on just because it sounds like a lot of people felt it was far more aggravating then it was worth and even by AH standards it was a bit much(The Aztecs conquering much of North America in the middle ages? Possible, but not likely. The Aztecs having the Naval technology and Ambition to not only cross the 3000 miles of ocean but also mount of a full scale invasion of Europe? Nope. Not happening. Even with 21st century tech mounting a transatlantic invasion would be extremely difficult).
 

f1r2a3n4k5

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Fortunately, the game lets you tailor the difficulty level easily based on your starting character. You can start as a Count, Duke, King, or Emperor (or Merchant Republic with the DLC, but this is a wholly different playstyle.) So if you wanted to just start and end your game steamrolling smaller nations, play as the Byzantines.

I would say after putzing around with a boring Count for a few decades to get the swing of things, jump into the reigns of the Kingdom of Castile (before they merge with Leon if you wanna putz around with backstabbing family, after if you'd prefer to skip that step and just want to wage Holy Wars against Islam.)

Now, beginner stuff aside, my personal favorite game is to try to take an almost-dead religion and bring them to prominence like Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Zunism. A lot of them have pretty cool events if you succeed. It's ridiculously difficult, but in a fun way.
 

Shinkicker444

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If you have all the mods turn off Sunset Invasion. Ignore the 'official' tutorials. But yeah, best info would be Quill or Arumba. Quill has a few 'tutorial' style playthroughs, Arumba kinda just leaps into it and plays really fast, so it can be kinda hard to follow him at times. If you want to just plug at it yourself, I'd suggest selecting an Irish province, a duke, and try and form the Kingdom of Ireland by conquering your neighbours. Ireland is nice and contained on it's own so it's really good for beginners, and you only have to take over a couple of the neighbours before you can create the Kingdom Title, and the rest of the dukes just fall into like (Vassalisation). If you can form Ireland, next would be taking over Scotland or if your balls are brassy enough, England (Might want to get France or one of the Spanish Kings onside for that one).

My personal favorite (Other than ruling Byzantium) is to play as one of the Trade Republics (or cheese the game to form my own). You get some really cool and fun story events, and the inter-family intrigue is hilarious.

Although, the funniest thing I've seen is having my King apparently be the spawn of Satan, and have three Pagan Witches show up at my court before going on a slaughtering spree across England to appease daddy. I think Joan of Arc was in there too, towards the end. Tried to marry her like some other guy I read about on a spawn of Satan rampage, but could never quite pull it off before I suffered a tragic snake in the bed accident.