Ever read Maurice Druon’s Les Rois maudits? If not, you ought to fix that. If you did, you certainly understand the whole point of playing some more Crusader King II: even though the period covered isn’t right, the whole vassal-suzerain, dynasties and murder plots are in.
In that spirit, best starting date is the bookmark the Stamford Bridge, with Guillaume de Normandie conquest of England, since the chain of events that drives Les Rois maudits is bound to the specific link between France and England.
Considering you start with a fat 1000 cash, it is not really an achievement to win this war over the two other opponents and then get said on English Neck a Norman Yoke achievement. By 1076 it is over:
the broken vassal link:
And then, back to reality: ahem, Crusader King II mishandle the notion of vassal link:
- there is the Emperor/King/Duc/Count/Baron hierarchy
- you can rightly be Emperor of some Empire X and Baron of some barony Z
So far, it is right. But the problem follows: Crusader Kings II does not tie title/territory to vassal links. It is assumed that you hold on your own any title less important than your main title, for instance it is assumed that you hold barony Z as part of your kingdom. You can have only one suzerain, so even if you got two titles from diverging origins.
Let’s explain and, if you read Les Rois maudits you’ll understand that the whole book serie should be trashed to the toilets if abiding by Crusader Kings II rules: horay, Guillaume de Normandie won English kingdom. What should be next? Well, Guillaume is autonomous King of England and vassal to France for Normandie. And what happens in Crusader Kings: Guillaume not only is autonomous King of England but keep Normandie as well, and no longer pay hommage to France for it.
It gives a casus belli to France to get Normandie back. Ok. That how the game cope with this situation. But it is not the same. At all. As a matter of fact, Crusader Kings II deprives the player from the opportunity to continue paying hommage and force him to either go to war or drop the title. It also put the player in the situation in which he must go to war against a vassal that got elsewhere an equivalent title to his, even if it matches his interest, or loose the vassal altogether, no matter if the title gained by the vassal is nothing more than vanity.
Crusader Kings II tries to counterbalance the whole by the notion of de jure territory. If territory is not de jure your, laws that applies within depend from the relevant de jure entity. That would mimic, for instance, law of France applying in Normandie, or have Duchy of Normandie vote in France if France was an Elective monarchy. It is, as a matter of fact, a poor band aid. Why would France allow Normandie any say in Election, if it was deemed independant? Why would specific rules of France (papal investiture of bishops) applies to territories that are entirely under English control. Instead of actually fixing the issue, it leads to random troubles about which the player is powerless.
To sum up: the player cannot decide to pay or not to pay hommage to his liege for a territory; the player cannot change the laws of this territory even if he is the sole ruler.
That is really disappointing. Each titles should always being either own as liege or with hommage. And rules that applies should be the ones of the liege. This logic is unbeatable and would rule any other, works both ways (for instance, France does not have to get involved in war that only relates to English territory, even if England is vassal; but may do so as ally or friendly).
It is not only that it deprives the player from a choice here and there: it actually limits each character to what happen in one kingdom, it cut off the player from the internal politics of kingdoms he would have interest in.
the abused de jure non-electors
After the conquest, the problem is to keep England. First France will attack you (as said, because CKII does not give France any alternative). Who cares, maybe it would be best to forget about Normandie?
Well, no. It is important to beat France to be able to handle internal politics: England is an elective monarchy, no matter how your vassals likes you, it is massively unpredictable, even though it gives you the quite interesting benefit to allow you to hand pick heir.
The best option is to have only one vassal able to vote, one that you can sway towards you. Two vassals is too much. They might both just vote for somehow of one other dynasty and game over you.
For that purpose, prince-bishop are convenient: as they cannot be king, no matter how powerful they are, they’ll never try to take your place. You just have to make sure they favor you.
So I set up shop in Duchy of York and Lancaster (it is always important to have a compact demesne, the ability to regroup levies fast matters) and made a prince-bishop giving him a county just up north my territory, give him Kent as duchy. I fed him a few counts in order for him to be able to, in turn, appropriate further prince-bishopric (you cannot give him more than one duchy rank title: but he can usurp/create them for himself). I made him antipope, so he definitely likes me – since there was already one, I got the achievement All Three Popes.
The logic is as follow: only this guy will ever get duchies in de jure England. Only one voter, only a guy that cannot be elected. That’s convenient.
Obviously, you cannot have only one vassal in the game. He would be too powerful and, if not, you’d have many counts too powerful, all wanting to siege in council. No, I created other duchies: within de jure France.
Sometimes, some small count within England created for himself a duchy like Hwicce: I immediately revoked it and made sure it could not be re-obtained, or only by my Pope. At some point, I also got Anjou being long enough within England to be also de jure. The same: revoked. I paid attention not to get Normandie fully so it’ll stay forever de jure France.
the Cathar catharsis
I made Normandie a vassal Republic to get cash, since it is supposedly profitable, thinking it’ll be as handy as my pope.
It proved unbearable. Over generations, the doge was almost always opposing me – so probably not giving much. I dont think you can have both theocracies and republic in your pocket.
I found very convenient to seize the opportunity to convert to cathar so I could remove easily this now heretic doge from title within de jure England. During that period, I reorganized a lot my territory.
(see, even there, one guy opposing: the damned doge)
And I was glad my king died, with catholic heir, when multiple holy war against me arised – not to mention my prince-arbishop could no longer a be a nice pope.
the broken vice-royautés
This cathar experience made me fear the wrath of a crusaders: and I decided it was a good time to do some on my own. Soon enough, there was a crusade on the way and, with my massive monthly cash income, I could play a decise role. Decisive so I was granted, after victory, the kingdom of Jerusalem and, so, the Crusader King achievement.
There is now a system where you can land Crusader orders when you get Jerusalem. I did so. Obviously, considering the fragile position of Jerusalem, I gave the lands to new vassals. Most notably, I gave Jerusalem as vice-royauté.
I was surprised to find, a few years later, that one duchy of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, was now autonomous, with territory within de jure England. That must be a bug, there was no war I was called about it. Could be tied to how CK II works (back to step 1: Normandy getting out of England).
The territory was not lost from long. Still, last time I played with vice-royauté, I noticed similar issues. In the end, even though vice-royautés are nice in principle, it is then best to give a up a real title: at least I understand how it works.
killing the Kingdom in the name of the Empire
Next, I was contemplating the notion of creating Britannia Empire. So it led me to consider the United the Kingdoms achievement.
Nonetheless, it was much more convenient to use now the intrigue function create empire of England instead of having Britannia later. So I did that, which I soon set to primogeniture – and on the way, I actually destroyed the kingdom not to bother for the time being about elective monarchy.
That being done, I then focused on Britannia. At the same time, Muslim decided to severely attack Jerusalem.
Even though I sent massive amount of troops, I got not much help from other christian leaders and could not handle as much as 75000 troops at once. It was clearly time to focus back to Europe, where the Normandie dynastie was quite something:
At that moment, I was quite happy to get Poland for free. Almost. My heir was king. Thing is: he was also of judaism. And, after a regency where I tutored him and try to get him to be proper English catholic, as soon as he was ointed, endless holy wars started. The whole Europe decided to grab her part of the Kingdom:
I was hoping he’d convert or died fast. He died after loosing at least a third of his kingdom.
During the same period, in actually got a few female emperor (Empressive: play as three consecutive generations of empresses) and some wolf blood (Run With the Wolf: Play as a character with Wolf’s Blood). Not much to comment on that, since it is contextual. The wolf blood was an unexpected perk of having some altaic bloodline, having a cheremisa duchy.
So I finally focused back on the United Kingdom. After getting all relevant territories, I found out I need to hold in my own hands each king title. I used the very convenient “Spy On” feature giving by intrigue high skill and focus to revoke the title of the King of Wales resisting arrest.
Later, it is already the endgame. By far not my best score, fun game nonetheles.