Crusader Kings II – Navarra

Crusader Kings II is pretty awesome.  I generally like Paradox titles.  History: started with Europa Universalis (yeah, the first one!) waaaayyy back; didn’t care for it terribly much at the time.  Several years later, I discovered Hearts of Iron II and was hooked.  I have some fun memories of playing Italy to a world power – puppet nations in Russia and then conquering the USA.  Then I played a bunch of  Europa Universalis III.  Something always seemed missing from EU3; and I think it might be the role-playing / human element of Crusader Kings.  Rather than playing a nation (which was an abstract concept not totally developed even during the Middle Ages), you play a member of a feudal dynasty, complete with vassals and a bevy of titles – barons, counts, dukes, and kings (now I kind of know the ordering of those!!!).  When your character dies, you take over as his heir – usually son.

But you can read more about the game elsewhere.  I want to write about my first game.

I started as lowly Navarra, on the Iberian Peninsula.  It’s not quite so lonely; the Jimena dynasty spreads across most of the Catholic areas.  My goals were the Reconquista and … that’s pretty much it.  Learn the game, I guess.  I’ve succeeded by the 1300’s or so; “Spain” is all Catholic and I’m incidentally the most powerful person in the game — you can play anybody when loading a save game and when I click on my ruler, the difficulty factor-bar-thingy doesn’t even register.  Meaning it should be easier than snot to play my nation.  Kind of means it’s not terribly fun anymore … unless I think of some crazy goal like conquering France.  Maybe.  Probably not; would rather document and move on.

Uniting Spain was not too hard.  I used elective succession to hoover up most of my dynasty’s lands – set my heir to be a neighboring king or his heir, then wait … pretty soon you have TWO kingdoms!  Kind of a special case for Spain since the Jimenas have a lot of the lands at the start of the game.  Next I picked off the Muslims one by one, usually striking when they were exhausted and depleted from other wars.  Sicily scored big in the game, gaining Africa from about Tunis over to Morrocco at about the same pace as I drove south and west from the Pyrennees to Gibraltar.

I switched my capital and demesne down to Granada (and Sevilla) because they have room for lots of holdings!  I think I had 3 castles in Granada and 4 in Sevilla; that was the bulk of my demesne and I could raise something like 15k men just from these two counties … lots of upgrades!

Cool thing that happened: I kind of haphazardly joined up the first Crusade (for Jerusalem), lost an army, and then didn’t pay much attention until several years later I was notified that we won, and since I was the largest contributor (!), I got all the spoils!  Hello, kingdom of Jerusalem!  I lost most of it back to the Muslims, but another Crusade won it back for me.  Then, much later, a third Crusade was called for Egypt and I went all in, sending over about 60k troops and winning that kingdom, too (it’s huge!).  I split it up by giving Egyptian duchies to each of my Iberian dukes … made them very happy!  Egypt was kind of a bizarro Spain, in terms of rulers…

Greatest moment though was much earlier – I had a lot of succession wars and rebellions early on.  The AI seems to know when you are weakest and strikes then!!!  Anyway, I was at like -80% warscore and was about to lose half my realm, when the Call to Arms button pops up … my 5 year wait on the HRE alliance was up; would I like to call them to battle?  Uh, ok … accepted!  I chortled as 30k German troops flooded Iberia, waxing my enemies and winning my war.  Priceless.

Couple of screenies: first is my realm (in green) in 1066.  Itty bitty!

Lowly Kingdom of Navarra, 1066

Mighty Castille-Navarra-Jerusalem Empire, 1305

And the spread of religion:

Religion, 1066 (Catholic = white)

Religion, 1305. Reconquista complete! (And then some…courtesy of Sicily)

My “score” (total of prestige and piety for all your rulers) is somewhere around 60k.  I think I got the Reconquista etc a bit earlier than 1305; it’s just by now I realize I don’t really have much else to shoot for and might be boring waiting around til 1452 (?) game end.

Some tips: diplomacy skill is very important for kings – get training by Grey Eminence if possible.  Low Crown Authority seems to work well for large empires — keeps those dukes fighting each other, and not me.  🙂

Irony: I ended up with like 8 kingdoms…but not the Kingdom of Navarra!  I lost it to a sister I married off to England at one point … she came back with a claim to the throne and the might of her son, the King of England, to enforce it!  She and her descendants kept it until I won back all Navarrese territory … but I couldn’t get the Kingdom title as my ruler was not Basque, but Castillian.  Doh!

Next time: start with a small dynasty, and try to spread it as far and wide as possible.  I think I’ll intentionally duplicate my crusade strategy and try to get the County of Jerusalem as my demesne … I believe it has room for 5 castles!!!  I have my eye on a family in Wales … stay tuned.

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