Friday, 28 March 2014
Crusader Kings II (PC)
I have to admit, I've been deliberately putting this off as long as I could, because it seems like it's horrifically complex and strategy games aren't really my genre at the best of times. This is really out of my comfort zone and I won't be surprised if I get hopelessly stuck halfway through the tutorial, and have nothing else to show to you.
I know, tell you what; if the worst case scenario happens and I get absolutely impossibly lost in the game, I'll quit and fill the rest of the space up with more screenshots of Charly the Clown.
(Click the images to restore them to their previous size.)
Hang on, I've just noticed a "Start from the beginning..." button down there on the bottom right. I'll give that one a shot.
Buttons all along the top, a window open with buttons all over it on the left, and a mini-map fortified with two walls of the things. Even things like the portrait images and the shields are buttons as well, and they can be right clicked to bring up more buttons.
Okay, I'm going to try to ignore the buttons for now and focus instead on the very simple instructions given to me step by step in the tutorial message boxes. First up it tells me that I should click the 'De Jure' checkbox to see regions that are tied to my title by bonds that will never break. Hang on, just need to look this up.
Also the first known use of the word was in 1611 and this is 1066 right now, so we're actually using future slang. Okay... so clicking the 'De Jure' button shows the lands held by the King of Scotland then right? Which is me apparently. Awesome, I think I understand the concept introduced by the first tutorial message box in the game!
Man, I feel like I should be writing down notes here (which is good because I am).
SOME TUTORIAL BOXES LATER.
Crusader Kings II Main Theme youtube link.
Anyway, the tutorial has given me two units: an infantry group and a fleet of boats. All it wants me to do now is simply put the soldiers onto the ships... and those little bastards utterly refuse to march there.
Well they've got it in their heads to go on an adventure and I don't know how to stop them. Whatever, I'll skip ahead to the next tutorial instead. I can always go back and figure out how to move units later.
SOME MORE TUTORIAL LATER.
First I need a 'casus belli', which I'm guessing from the context to be Latin for 'a cause for war'. I can't just attack regions without a claim on the territory it seems, though I can just get my chancellor to fabricate one for me.
The problem I'm having here though, is that I've followed every step and done everything it's asked me to, but the bloody 'declare war' button is ghosted out. According to the box that popped up when I hovered my mouse over the button, the reason I can't start my war is: "You are not bankrupt". Sure, I am, I've got -8 coin! Oh wait, I get what it means now.
Well I can't declare war until I get money, but it's a tutorial so the only option it's giving me now is to declare war. Man... I actually did it! I don't believe it, but I did it. I managed to lose the game while inside the tutorial. You're truly observing a master of the craft at work here.
Okay this image above is the single player character select screen, where I get to pick my starting year and region. I'm going to go with 1066, the year of the Battle of Hastings (as that's the earliest it goes), and I'll be choosing one of the Irish leaders as I've been told they're the best for beginners. The King of Munster sounds cool, I'll go with him.
There's also an option to activate iron man mode, which I'm not going anywhere near, even though activating it is the only way to earn Steam achievements. Seems unnecessarily harsh to me.
I mean most racing games don't begin with a tutorial on tire pressure, you don't introduce someone to chess by jumping straight into the intricacies of castling... it's best to get a player familiar with the overall nature of the game first so that they'll understand how the specific features fit into the big picture. Probably. Like I said it's not really my genre.
Anyway, speaking of my overall goals... I'm not sure I even have any yet. I'm going to put the game clock on maximum speed and see if something happens.
My ruler is unmarried, so I should sort that out immediately. Don't want to miss out on that +10 piety bonus. First though I need to figure out how to get him to marry someone. Typically to get character related things done I need to right click their portrait, then click the diplomacy button to show the potential actions related to them.
None of these four even look to be ready for marriage, whoever they are. Donal at the top has no skills, no traits and he's 1 year old. He's old enough to hate me though, judging by that -17 under his portrait.
It's apparently important to think very carefully about who you choose to marry in this, as their stats will be added to your ruler's (to reflect their role as advisor). Things like diplomacy, combat, stewardship etc. I've also got traits to worry about, which act as stat modifiers and will presumably be passed down to their kids. My character is craven, arbitrary, cynical, cruel, and a poor commander, so I'll need to choose someone extraordinary to make up for the incredible drag factor of his personality.
Oh, plus I need to pay attention to where they're from and their social standing! I could no doubt make an valuable alliance with another region by marrying into their ruling family.
Nah, I'll just choose someone who seems nice.
I haven't actually got a clue, but I'll never learn unless I try it and see what happens.
I'll know! I'll send over some medieval dump trucks full of cash to his doorstep to win him over!
The Earl accepted the cash graciously, then re-repudiated my claim on his land! Of course you know that this means war (because I'm all out of useful buttons here).
I send the army of King Murchad of Munster marching 80 miles south from Limerick to Earl Muiredach's city of Cork... only to find out that I can't declare war if I've already raised levies. So then I have to march them all the way back home again to disband them.
You may have won this round Muiredach...
My forces returned in force to force the Earl's force to face them and then force a sword into his gut. Checkmate, kind of.
My defenders are still holding out, but things are looking bleak.
Holy shit how could I have been so absent minded? Of course I'll arrange a marriage to the fairest princess in Ireland right away! Let's throw open the gates for her as she arrives, give her a proper welcome! We can have a parade in the streets to celebrate as the city burns around us!
And then, my dear nephew Conchobar, I'll make certain that you and your lovely wife shall be there to formally greet the new Earl of Desmond as he strides into our castle, sword in hand and bloodlust in his eyes. You dumb fuck.
Anyway I clicked 'I have just the person in mind', so hopefully I'll be setting him up with someone good.
Fine, I guess I'll throw him in the cells. Executing him would surely lower people's opinions of me, but with any luck the invaders outside the gates will soon swarm in and kill all the guards who know he's down there and then he'll eventually starve to death. Or single-handedly solve my rat problems I suppose.
... but then the new Earl of Desmond declares peace, helps himself to 15 gold, and goes back home again. So I guess I didn't lose the game then?
Sure the Kingdom is in debt now, but that's nothing that can't be fixed with a bit of vigorous taxation. I think I'll even move the treacherous Earl of of Ormond to a nicer cell to celebrate.
Well if that last screenshot's anything to go by, then at least he died happy. These two messages really did appear one after another on the same day.
Now I'm playing as Murchad's son King Brian II, who apparently hired the same artist as his dad to paint his royal portrait.
1072 - 6 YEARS INTO THE GAME.
I have travelled far, you miserable old bastard, and I shall not be denied! C'mon mate, just give me a bit of wisdom and then I'll be out of your life again. Unless we're actually still in my county right now, in which case my influence on your life will be a long and miserable one.
Right, now what can I do? Well, I suppose I could arrange a few more marriages for my family members then stick the game on fast forward again and wait for an event to happen. Oh, plus invade Desmond again obviously.
1076 - 10 YEARS INTO THE GAME.
Though I can't help but notice that Desmond isn't actually becoming my territory, they've just erected signs all over it, so I don't know what's going on there. Seems that I can't even invade a county right in the game.
1087 - 21 YEARS INTO THE GAME.
Hang on, why is there a skull next to my eldest daughter's name?
Eleven years ago? How did I not notice that message box appearing? Well now I definitely know what I'm going to do next: I'm going to get this guy dragged off to one of my cells and then I'm going to serve him nothing but uncooked rodent every day for the rest of life. We'll see what that does for his political ambitions.
On the plus side, I've figured out how to send my council members out to go stand in the forest. This apparently gets me all kinds of bonuses to things and is therefore a good thing.
1088 - 22 YEARS INTO THE GAME.
1089 - 23 YEARS INTO THE GAME.
Well I don't understand the game well enough yet to know which of these are best to focus on, so I'll just click random buttons and close the window.
1092 - 26 YEARS INTO THE GAME.
Long story short, I'm currently fighting a war against 6000 pissed off mercenaries and all my own soldiers were dead before it even started. Plus I have no money and everyone hates me.
Oh plus I just accidentally made my 7 year old son the new Earl of Ormond, so now he's running that county (I was trying to send him to school).
I can't judge Crusader Kings II, because I just don't understand it well enough. Well okay I can judge the music and visuals for sure (they're very nice), and I can judge its ability to teach idiots how to play as they go (it wouldn't win awards for it), but as gameplay goes I have no clue if this is good or not. For me personally, I got pretty much no fun at all out of the experience, as besides making sure that everyone I knew got married I wasn't really sure what my goal was, and everything I tried led to complete failure without me having a clear idea of why. If I wanted to be completely baffled by a game's core concepts I'd play a sports game.
Though I admit that it's not really my kind of genre in the first place, plus I was playing it like a stubborn idiot, refusing to ask players for advice or look up a walkthrough because I wanted to play it blind. In retrospect this probably wasn't the right game to do that with, though on the other hand the game never really tempted me to look these things up either. Maybe I'll mark this one down as one to replay at some point.
Anyway, those were my first impressions of Crusader Kings II! I hope that reading all this has improved your day to some degree. Actually, why not leave me a comment, then you can let me know exactly what you think about it.