Crusader Kings 2: Initial Thoughts and Impressions

I bought Crusader Kings 2 with some DLC about a year ago as part of a Humble Bundle sale, and tried it. I couldn’t get into it, then uninstalled it.

Recently, I reinstalled it and gave it another try. This time it has been a lot more fun, but I do have some comments on the game:

The Good

  • The political system and relationships: There’s quite a lotĀ of depth here, and when people say it’s more of a game about inheritance and politics than war, they aren’t kidding. War is a function of politics; in CK2 it exists mostly to claim what is “rightfully” yours or to prevent that from happening to you.
  • Everyone is playable: Any nation is playable, from tiny counties to giant empires. You can start as a duke, vying for power among other vassals under a king, or as the king himself, trying to manage your vassals and keep it all from falling apart.

The Bad

  • Shallow combat system: There just isn’t a lot there. While combat outcomes are affected by unit type and terrain, for the most part simply outnumbering the enemy army will win you the battle regardless of other factors. That doesn’t mean you can stack just one unit type and win, but as long as you have a somewhat balanced army, you just need to have more units than the other guy.
  • Mid/Late Game Tedium: Like other large campaign strategy games like Total War, once you get out of the initial challenges of a campaign, the mid-to-late game environment is pretty boring. While you have to manage an ever increasing web of political and family relationships, the formula for dealing with them is the same.

I have been playing the Kingdom of Jerusalem, with the fun advantage being that I have two holy orders at my disposal, the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller. The campaign has been interesting thus far. I can’t really decide if I like this game or not yet, but I do not really feel compelled to try to “finish” the game as there are no real goals, just high score.

I can still see why people like the game series. It is pretty complex and there is a lack of politics-heavy game centered on the relationships and feudalism of the Medieval era. Total War, while being great fun for combat, is very lacking in terms of political gameplay. I think it would be interesting to see a game incorporate both elements from the Total War series and Crusader Kings 2.