Paradox Development Studio’s latest work ” Crusader Kings III ” was released on September 2, 2020. The latest installment of the “Crusader Kings” series, which is extremely popular among strategy game fans, is said by those around me to say, “Compared to the previous title CK2, which was difficult to get into, CK3 has a good balance of difficulty and fun.” I hear it often. This time, I would like to introduce the features of CK3 along with a play report.
What kind of game is Crusader Kings anyway?
The original “Crusader Kings” (CK1), released in 2004 , was a strategy game set in Europe between the 11th and 15th centuries, when the crusading movement against Muslims was active. Although there were many other works with a crusade theme, CK1 attracted attention as a unique strategy game played from the perspective of an aristocrat.
Generally speaking, in this type of strategic game, players issue orders to the “forces themselves,” aiming for the development of the nation and, if possible, complete unification of the map. However, in the CK series, the player is in charge of one of the nobles who make up such a force, and the main purpose is to aim for the prosperity of the family.
Even though they are called nobility, they come in various ranks, and the actions that can be taken by the lowest playable earl and the highest playable emperor are vastly different, but in any case, they are just one component of the overall force.
Even in historical Europe, there was no centralized system in place during this period, and the aristocrats of the time relied heavily on personal relationships, that is, connections, to govern. The ability to play as such an aristocrat is perhaps the greatest feature of this series. It can be said to be similar to Koei’s (currently Koei Tecmo Games) “Taiko Ritsushiden” series in that it is an RPG-like strategy game that can be played from a character’s perspective and has a high degree of freedom.
However, CK1 belongs to the so-called “paradote game”, and the game balance is quite severe. Unexpectedly large wars break out due to very personal reasons such as
personalities not being compatible,'' or unintentional inheritance disputes occur as a result of handing out too much territory under control to blood relatives to avoid rebellion. Furthermore, territorial expansion is not straightforward, as it is impossible to wage a foreign war without legitimate claims. However, it is certain that such harshness is what gave the game its unique appeal, allowing players to experience therealism of medieval society that cannot be controlled.”
Following the success of CK1, CK2 was released in 2012, and it became a major work that far exceeded its predecessor in various aspects, such as greatly increasing the number of interactive elements between characters and improving graphics, making it a widely popular strategy game. It was supported by fans.
The huge success of CK2 greatly contributed to raising awareness not only of the series, but also of parado games themselves.
Furthermore, the range of play for players has greatly expanded due to regular updates and an almost excessive amount of DLC added after release, from India and Central Asia in the east to Iceland and the west coast of Africa in the west. It has grown into a one-of-a-kind strategy game where you can play as a noble from a different region.
On the other hand, as a result of many years of development, the system had become complicated and balance adjustment became difficult, so it is certain that there were quite a few fans who wanted a “reorganization.”
Easier to understand short- to long-term goals for family prosperity
Crusader Kings III,'' which we introduce today , was created in response to the voices of such fans and represents a new generation of Paradox Development Studio's home-made game engine , theClausewitz Engine.’ ‘
Even if it is made with a new engine, the play style of
continuing and developing one's family'', which is the best part of playing the CK series, will remain unchanged, and the player, as a noble,prosperes his descendants and ends the family lineage” . Our goal is to expand our territory while ensuring that there are no conflicts of interest.
The concept follows the series, but on the other hand, it is fully considerate for those new to the series. CK3 has more advanced advice functions using alert icons and tooltips than its predecessor. The risk of accidentally forgetting an action you should have taken has been greatly reduced, and the huge number of parameters displayed in various windows can now be easily seen to see what kind of effect they will have.
Additionally, the CK series was difficult to get into when compared to other parado games because there wasn’t much to do in the early stages and the tempo was slow, but CK3 has improved this as well.
For example, let’s start with Earl. In the previous games, a large amount of in-game time would have passed by the time the player “collected funds, built facilities in the territory, amassed troops, and attacked other countries,” so the only other thing the player could do was marry clans and courtiers. Often, all I had to do was find a mate and deal with random events.
In CK3, “Lifestyle”, which is one of the elements added in the previous game’s DLC, has been improved and implemented, and each character can choose from 5 types of lifestyles, such as “Focus”, which is a constant bonus, and fast-paced Having the character you play, who can now freely choose the “perks” you can unlock,
learn skills while considering future strategies works well as a short-term goal, especially in the early stages. It felt like it was happening.
If territorial expansion is a medium-term goal, long-term goals are also prepared. This is the establishment of a
legacy'' that can be called alifestyle” for the family to which the character belongs. This is a bonus that can be unlocked using CK3’s new resource, Honor, and is more powerful than the personal lifestyle bonuses. This system is an arrangement of the “Bloodline”
added in CK2’s DLC , but like Lifestyle, the interface is made easier to read so players can aim to acquire them in a planned manner.
In this way, CK3 provides easy-to-understand goals at each stage of play, so the situation where you feel like you’ve started the game but don’t know what to aim for, which is common in parado games, is greatly reduced. I think so.
Further evolution of the character’s individuality
The way lively characters are expressed in the game has also become even more profound than in the previous game.
The first thing you notice is the character portraits, which have evolved even more than the previous game. In addition to the fact that each character now has animation, the life of each person is visually recreated using the visuals that express the gradual growth cultivated in Paradox Development Studio’s previous work “Imperator Rome” . Compared to CK1’s 2D portraits (which were quite interesting), it really feels like a world away.
Many of the events that occur during play are complicated and involve other characters, and you can experience the joys and sorrows of a dark medieval society. The event text was also dramatic and elaborate, and I felt that it enhanced the story of the game. The “stress”
system added to this work has a major impact on role play during events . For example, suppose a character with the trait “honesty” chooses an option that involves lying. In this case, the stress increases because the person is forced to make a decision that is not in line with their sexuality, and if it exceeds a certain level, it will have a negative impact.
This is exactly what I feel is the biggest improvement from CK2. In CK2, there was almost no penalty for choosing an option that was the exact opposite of the character’s characteristics, and a major dissatisfaction was that individual characteristics did not have much weight. I even thought,
Why don't I make a mod that checks all events and doesn't allow choices that don't match the characteristics of the target character?'' CK3 solves this problem in a way that isn't as sadistic as mine, and it's a good balance of saying,You can make choices that don’t suit your character for reasons such as the development of the game, but there’s a price to pay for that.” I think that.
Also, the number of traits that can be acquired is more limited than in CK2, so it’s easy to fixate on “this character has this kind of personality”. As a result, players are always aware of this when dealing with events, and as a result, their sense of unity with the characters has greatly increased.
Mini-play report: The story of Mrezav, Earl of Desmont
Now, in order to get a feel for the actual game, let’s play a scenario set in the year 1066, choosing to play as Mrezaf, a member of the Morza family who rules the Earldom of Desmont in the southernmost tip of Ireland. Furthermore, CK3 also has a comprehensive tutorial, so you can learn the basics of play.
Mryezav, Earl of Desmont, is a weak force that tends to act as a
dog dog'' for the main character of the tutorial, the Little King of Munster. That's no wonder, since the Earldom of Desmont is the Duchy of Munster'scustomary territory”, the Munster side can always start a war and ask for the territory back. Therefore, Count Desmont’s medium-term goal was to build up his country’s strength so that it would not be easily attacked by Munster.
The first thing you have to do when you start the game is find a marriage partner for yourself or your son. This is partly to leave descendants, but marriage also has a great significance in forming alliances with other feudal lords. In particular, the Earl of Desmont in 1066 could only mobilize a few hundred soldiers, so choosing a wife from a family that might be able to send reinforcements would depend on more than the wife’s ability or compatibility with her husband. It becomes important. Fortunately, in Ireland, which is in a state of military division, the troops that other forces can mobilize are also similar, so a difference of 100 or 200 men makes a huge difference in strength.
Once the marriage is complete, the next step is to improve relations with Munster. Based on my past play experience where he was inadvertently attacked and destroyed by Munster several times, Murhada, the minor king of Munster (equivalent to a duke from another country), had a bad relationship with our Earl of Desmont, Mryezav, and there was a difference in military strength. It seems like they will attack if there is one.
Therefore, he asks Mulhada to become his beloved daughter Shedaf’s guardian. As a result, Murhada’s evaluation of Muryezav improved slightly. In addition, he will carry out a conciliatory plan for Mulhada. If successful, this plan can significantly increase your reputation, and it can be carried out multiple times, so although it takes time, it is an effective means of significantly improving relationships. Furthermore, he aims to make Mrezav’s lifestyle “diplomatic” and improve his friendly relations with Munster.
Although it is not certain whether the Munsters will actually attack or not as it depends on the military strength of their allies, as a result of maintaining friendly relations, they managed to avoid destruction at the beginning of the game.
The next step is to increase the number of troops necessary for the attack. They want to build a facility to increase the number of conscripted soldiers in the Barony of Tralee, the only territory under their direct control, but this will require funds nearly 50 times their monthly income. Therefore, in order to obtain funds quickly, Mrezav decided to choose an option that did not suit his characteristics, at the risk of increasing stress due to some economic events.
However, as a result of the subsequent event to improve relations with Ulster, his stress level finally rose to 1. The events that occurred as a result of this succeeded in lowering his stress level, but instead, Mlyezav gained the trait of being a “recluse”, and his evaluation from several characters, including his wife, dropped significantly, as well as Mlyezav himself. ‘s status has also dropped…
In any case, the army was able to mobilize around 600 people, twice the original number. Neighboring powers that could be attacked with this force would be the Counties of Connacht, Athlone, and Ossory on the opposite side of Munster. Among them, they decided to target Connaht, which had the least amount of troops. Normally, they would have wanted to defeat Munster first, and it would have gone against the principle of long-range melee attacks, but they couldn’t change their intentions.
Unlike Munster, who can attack us at any time, Earl Desmont cannot suddenly start a war against Connacht. In order to attack, it is necessary to order the bishops of your country’s council to fabricate claims of other countries. “When I was looking into such and such ancient documents, it was written that Connacht belonged to the Morza family.” In CK2, the claim fabrication had a strong random element, but in CK3, the completion period is displayed in advance, so as long as you have the necessary funds by that time, you can definitely obtain the claim. This is a modest but welcome improvement.
Once we have the right to make a claim, it’s time to declare war. Wait for the allied forces from afar to converge on Tralee, then march on Connacht. Connacht had a bonus against the garrison in the wetlands, so despite the difference in strength, they had a tough time, but they managed to win the battle and conquer the Connacht County territory. If Desmont had fought alone, he would definitely have lost. You are truly an ally.
Mriesav, Count of Desmont, ruled Connacht and became the lord of two countries. There are two main strategies you should take from here. One is an invasion of Munster, his arch-enemy. If he can acquire Munster, he will have the advantage of connecting his home base of Desmont and Connacht. The other goal was to use Connacht as a foothold to capture the neighboring country of Breffne. If you can control Brefne, you can establish the Principality of Connacht and raise your rank from earl to duke.
The author chose the latter route, heading for the Principality of Connacht. In fact, in Ireland, a country dominated by large groups, it was relatively easy to create a large force by attacking weaker forces. While waiting for the military to recover from the previous battle, there was an accident in which some marriages between the Morza family and other families disappeared, and as a result there were no allies left to call for reinforcements. secure new allies by In 1089, Mrezav became the lesser king of Connacht.
The fact that it took him 23 in-game years to increase his territory from one country to three and become a duke from earl can be considered a relatively slow pace. However, CK3 has a game system that makes it easy to set short- and medium-term goals, as introduced earlier, and thanks to the events that occur at a moderate pace, you can enjoy playing without delay.
Above all, as I watched the still youthful Mrezav in 1066 grow into an old and distinguished monarch wearing the crown of a minor king, I was reminded of the days when he visited Munster to see how he was doing, and how his military strength was increasing. I am truly moved by the memory of all the hardships I went through.
Don’t miss the development status of various mods!
As a side note, CK3 also has active mod production activities by volunteers. Mods of all sizes are uploaded to Steam Workshop every day, and many of them are Japanese creators. One of them, needless to say, is the Japanese translation mod ( external link ), which was very helpful in writing this article . I admire the speed with which they respond to new updates.
Another recommendation is the “Shogunate” Mod ( external link ), which completely replaces CK3’s Eurasian map with Japan. One of its appeals is that it offers a completely different experience from the original, which is set in medieval Europe, but in reality, this MOD is based on the historical data and map data of the Japanese History Mod ( external link ) that I created for CK2. It is made based on.
The disadvantage of using mods is that it becomes impossible to obtain achievements in Iron Man mode, but the high degree of freedom in creating mods is also the appeal of parado games themselves. However, please note that the use of mods and any troubles that occur will be at your own risk. On the other hand, you may be able to contribute to the development by reporting these problems to the mod creator, so we recommend actively interacting with the mod creator.