Isaac Unbound: CK II – Sons Of Abraham

By Adam Smith on October 22nd, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

Apparently, Crusader Kings II is still missing something, which seems unlikely considering the amount of content that each major expansion has added. The Old Gods took the cake* – Forseti loves a slice of Battenberg – adding a couple of centuries to play with, a host of religions and new raiding mechanics mechanics. That’s not the end of the road though. It seems the one God and the diverse groups that claim to know Him best is a little jealous of the Old Gods and the Sons of Abraham expansion is hoping to make Him feel better by honouring “the big three in Medieval Europe: Christianity, Judaism and Islam”. More details below.

Hundreds of new religious events are the core of it, spread across the three major religions and the entities that are created by their schisms (not dimensional schisms, not world-eating entities). Christianity has the following to look forward to:

Plunge into the powerful and profitable world of Papal politics, appointing your bishops, gaining influence with the College of Cardinals and reap the rewards of the Pope’s money and favours. Show your devotion with the Holy Orders; their clout will come in handy when you want to expel troublesome relatives to a monastery!

Islamic lords will have philosophical and political decisions to make, “choosing to follow the rationalist Mutazili or opposing Ashari”, and Jewish rulers will be able to rebuild the Kingdom of Jerusalem. History branches yet again. Due November 18th.

* added a link because my housemate reckons ‘take the cake’ is only ever used in a negative sense, like the very British ‘takes the biscuit’. I am reclaiming cake seizure as a positive action.

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67 Comments »

  1. Discopanda says:

    still waiting for Crusader Kings Z like we were promised. paradox is worst developer boycott now plz.

    • airmikee99 says:

      Not many people fall for April Fools jokes, even fewer believe them six months later.

      • lordcooper says:

        The number of people who thought that comment wasn’t being sarcastic is even smaller.

        • airmikee99 says:

          Oh yeah, I forgot how easy it is to detect sarcasm without inflection.

          • Discopanda says:

            I’m sorrrrreEEEEEE?”but no really. this religion stuff is stupid. nobody cares about it. we need more zombies pronto.

          • Tiax says:

            It’s called common sense.

          • Max Planck says:

            Are you being sarcastic? I can’t tell without inflection. At all.

          • bladedsmoke says:

            The lack of self-awareness, it burns!

  2. lordcooper says:

    Those poor mechanics.

    Also: SQUEE

  3. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    This excites me! Religion never felt like it played a big enough role in the game, so I’m looking forward to seeing what this brings to the table. Wonder if we’ll be allowed to play as the Pope?

    • Logeres says:

      Nope. They re-confirmed in their stream that the Pope is the only character that will never be playable.

      • MO73 says:

        Ain’t nobody gonna Pope!

      • strangeloup says:

        Well, my Popes for this expansion have been dashed.

        • Graves says:

          I’d like to pontificate about this story, but I’ve got to see a man about the electrical mitre.

      • iniudan says:

        You don’t want to be the pope anyway, it’s basically like having a list of spambot in your email contact list.

      • Harlander says:

        Did they say why not?

        Possibly something along the lines of “simulating the experience of the head of a world-spanning religion is a game in itself”?

        • JB says:

          The pope not having a dynastic heir would be my guess.

        • revan says:

          JB is on the right track I think. Pope or any other position within the Church isn’t a hereditary title, so you can’t create a dynasty. You can’t play as Mayor for the same reason.

          • Malibu Stacey says:

            Except you can since The Republic expansion.

          • Anders Wrist says:

            Mayors and barons are unplayable. Patricians, which is what you have the option to play as in The Republic expansion, are something else entirely.

  4. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    Looking forward to this one — the new mechanics for playing Islamic rulers that were added in the Sword of Islam expansion are already pretty good, but they’d be even better rounded out with more events and decisions…

  5. Ace Rimmer says:

    I finally got into CKII when a Linux build turned up in a recent humble bundle. It has since consumed my life entirely. It’s already a complex game and there’s a lot to keep track of, but church politics seems like an area that could actually do with some added depth, beyond keeping the Pope moderately happy so he doesn’t moan too much about my free investiture. Looking forward to this.

    Edit: Provided of course that they make it available for Linux, which they probably won’t. Ah well.

    • RaveTurned says:

      If they’ve already got the engine and base game working on Linux, I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t add all DLCs as well. The hardest part of the work’s already done, and selling that extra content is where they make their money.

  6. PopeRatzo says:

    Crusader Kings II looks like a good game, but it was just too dense for me to start.

    The reason more people played the Civ games is that the learning curve wasn’t as steep. I got about 1 & 1/2 hours into the game and just said, “too much”.

    • derbefrier says:

      Heh same here but I stuck with it. Even printed out a manual some nice fellow posted in the rps forums wich was extremely helpful. While I am still a noob I now know enough to have fun with it. I am at a point were I understand how the induvidual systems wotk but not real clear how they interact with each other yet

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        And now I’m going to have to update that manual! Hope I can remember my login information for the file hosting site…

    • SillyWizard says:

      It’s really not as complicated as it seems! The vast majority of the game (for me, anyway, and I’m not very adventurous) is waiting for stuff to happen. For the most part you’ll want to hold Summer Fairs, Grand Hunts, and Feasts to build up your prestige, while building your infrastructure (which is thankfully an extremely slow process) and biding your time to make a move for the neighboring county/duchy/kingdom.

      You can choose to trawl the continent for likely candidates to invite to your court, but for an introductory game you can certainly leave much of the game alone and just concentrate on survival.

      I’m still in my inaugural run, just about 40 years from the end. I’ve managed to forge the Empire of Britannia and my heir is my younger brother, who is also heir to the throne of the Byzantine Empire. I desperately want to kill off my current character so I can start playing as a dual-emperor, but it hasn’t been working out and save-scumming has kind of taken the wind out of my sails.

      However, the point is that even a novice like myself managed to put myself in a position of almost controlling two major power-houses.

      My suggestion for getting started is finding a decent youtube LP just to introduce yourself to the flow of the game, and then don’t worry too much about what the LPer does, because it’s probably not going to be any more of an educated guess than your own instincts.

      (Aside – the most intensely satisfying/appalling thing I’ve done in the game was manage to arrange the assassination of the pregnant queen of Scotland, ensuring that I remained the ailing king’s heir, and finally cementing the union of Ireland and Scotland. On the one hand I ensured the doubling of my own power, for the good of the land; on the other hand, I murdered a pregnant woman for fear that she was carrying a son. I felt genuinely horrible, and simultaneously elated! And frankly, quite worried about what all that said about me. Politics is hard!)

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Not many games allow you to dual wield empires.

        And I should get back to my current game where I accidentally won a crusade and went from a minor scottish duke to King of Jerusalem. It’s been a hell of a ride and I even added the kingdom of Lithuania after another crusade. Sadly I botched a murder on my niece and got deposed and am now playing as my daugther. My kingdom split in two, my relatives are still pissy because I’m a new ruler and a lady. Oh, and the shia just declared Jihad.

        I fear it’ll end in tears.

        • SillyWizard says:

          I didn’t even know that could happen! Man I love this game.

          I’ve avoided messing around with Crusades for the most part, being safe-and-sound in Ireland. Seems like too long a sail. It is called “Crusader Kings,” though….

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Well, I joined in to suck up with the pope a bit and get the crusader trait. So, yea, basically, I joined a crusade for some short term political gain and ended up trying to keep a tiny kingdom alive in the middle of the Levant. It’s pretty awesome.

          • patricio says:

            I had a similar experience in my first game – I had started with the recommended “start gently as an Irish noble to learn the ropes” and after an unexpectedly successful crusade found myself as a lowly Irish noble and, er, king of Sicily. I wonder what my court made of that…

        • hungrycookpot says:

          In the Crusade of Kings, you win, and you die!

    • revan says:

      It is pretty daunting for beginners, no doubt about that. But half a dozen failed states and about the same number of gruesome dynasty exterminations later, you start to figure things out. It’s important to read the manual and wikia entries (they are up to date source of instructions after patching, unlike manuals) so you can get some bearings.

      Also, you must come to terms with the fact that 99 out 100 times, your plans will end up going in the most unexpected directions, usually horribly wrong. And come to terms with the fact that you just can’t control and keep an eye on everything. Sketch a goal in your head and try to accomplish it to the best of your abilities, going against some freaky events. That’s where the fun is. My advice is not to save scum. No matter how bad things get. Way more fun because all kinds of crappy, hilarious, creepy and disturbing situations arise.

      On a side note, I’m organizing a cozy Blot in Jorvik and expect to see you in attendance or some gold, if you worship the White Christ. You don’t want to take the third choice, trust me… :D

    • mouton says:

      Actually, I would argue CK2 mechanics are simpler than those of Civ5. They simply have wider focus.

  7. wwwhhattt says:

    Where would the Jewish rulers be? I’m fairly sure the Khazars in the 867 start would be, but I don’t know of any others.

    Edit: The livestream says it’s just the khazars.

    • Discopanda says:

      There might be some mayors-level titles in Spain for Jewish characters, and around Khazaria…

      • Fiyenyaa says:

        Sure, to begin with.
        However, as soon as you press the play button the game is gonna diverge from history; in a game where Catholicism can become a heresy of Orthodox Christianity, I think it’s pretty plausible for Judaism to do little better than it did in real life geopolitically speaking.

    • Meneth says:

      Historically there was a small Jewish kingdom in Ethiopia known as Semien or Beta Israel.

    • Dave Tosser says:

      I still find the case of CK2′s missing Jews quite funny. At launch I felt my kingdom was lacking something, possibly argumentative and Magen David-shaped, and it was only through the great Diaspora mod that I was able to conquer all of Britannia and Ireland from the inexplicably Jewish County of Lincoln. Little St Hugh my arse,

      I yearn for a game with Europa Universalis’ setting and Crusader Kings II’s incestuous, familicidal, eugenical fun. Alternatively, proper implementation of theocracies.

      • DonJefe says:

        Agreed. EU IV ended up as a bit of a disappointment for me. It’s obviously a great game and I enjoy the focus on trade and expanded geographical scale but I miss the intrigue and backstabbing from CK II.

  8. Keyrock says:

    CK2 is great in how quickly things can go sideways. You’ll be cruising along, delegating responsibilities, spying on your neighbors, having some little turf wars, fathering an heir, all smooth sailing. Then all of a sudden disease ravages your family, your wife is plotting against you, and oh by the way, here comes the Mongol horde.

    Good times.

    • SillyWizard says:

      I’m pretty convinced that the game is coded to screw with you if you’re doing well. I had a great setup going after struggling through half a dozen so-so characters, my Irish king who united Britannia got his heir married off to a woman whose fertility bonuses alone were +40%, and I think the heir added another 10% as well.

      That heir and his wife ended up squirting out something like 7 daughters and 2 sons. Both sons died in infancy. It was such nonsense. The wife died, as a man in his 60s or 70s the guy managed to knock up some other lady and I had to save-scum to get a boy (literally reloaded the pre-birth announcement save around 15-18 times before a son was born), and he’s total crap. He’s currently ruining my empire and is really just in the way at the moment.

      I wonder if there’s a way to force the Depression trait on someone so I can select the suicide option….

      • revan says:

        Why are you so dead set on having a male ruler? My best ruler in Norse England was a female ruler. She offed her sisters one after another, in order to unite her father’s lands (got the cute nickname Gyla “the Accursed” for that bit of fratricide), and then she started throwing her weight around, subjugating Christian Petty Kingdoms and ended up creating England out of fire and brimstone. After some more slaughter in Scotland and Ireland, spawning a whole brood of Yngling children for Norway, seven husbands, she died at the age of 67, feared, hated, the greatest queen of England. Her son and heir was crap. Lost his head in a civil war which followed.

        • SillyWizard says:

          Having no clue what I was doing and not understanding succession law, I ended up worrying that female heirs would mean that my dynasty would end abruptly, after they bore children from another house. So I ended up changing succession law to Agnatic Primogeniture (I think…only males can inherit is the upshot).

          Now that I have more of a clue what’s going on (and have learned about matrilineal inheritance) I’m much better equipped to make less hateful decisions.

  9. SillyWizard says:

    Crap. Enemy Within is coming out like a week before this, meaning probably at least 60 hours of game-time wrapping up another campaign in that; and when I pick up this expansion to CK2 I’ll be grabbing the Old Gods, Sword of Islam, Legacy of Rome and the Republic at the same time. (Really looking forward to seeing how all the new bits tie in!) And maybe Sunset Invasion — does anyone have an opinion as to whether or not this expansion is worth grabbing? Seems a bit silly. (And are the Aztecs playable in it?)

    So I’ll probably want to run through at least 2 or three more CK2 campaigns with all the new bits. At 100+ hours per vanilla CK2 campaign…yeah. It’s going to be Xmas 2014 before I’m in the market for any new games….

    • SillyWizard says:

      One thing I’d like to see — and forgive me if it’s been implemented in one of the DLCs — is an end-game prestige bump for having successfully married your relatives off to prestigious people across the land. I’ve very aggressively branded much of Europe with the Ua Briain crest, but as far as I can tell I’m not going to get any recognition for Dynasty Success, only my individual players’ success…? Is that right?

      • Gormongous says:

        At the end of the game, you get the prestige of any independent branches of your dynasty holding a title equal to or greater than yours added to your score.

        It’s easy to miss, because the AI is not great about maximizing its prestige output, so what it adds is a drop in the bucket compared to the 5000 prestige a moderately skilled player can haul during a reasonably long reign.

        • SillyWizard says:

          Sweet, thanks for the tip! So does that mean if I end my reign as a lowly count it might be more beneficial than keeping my empire intact?

          • Gormongous says:

            I guess? But it seems really silly to do so, just for a bigger number.

          • SillyWizard says:

            Mostly I’m looking for a silver-lining to the fact that I’m about to lose everything in my current game…!

    • Leb says:

      I usually play with Sunsent Invasion disabled, it’s nice to try out once though.

      Aztecs are playable with the Old Gods, but do not offer much in terms of flavour. Cool thing is though, using a Sunset Invasion save to convert to EUIV makes the Natives in EUIV have the same tech level as Europeans – makes for an interesting ahistoric game.

      And I believe the “reward for marrying off relatives to own other dynasties” is already in game. I think you get prestige bonus for having family in prestigious places, I’m pretty sure dynasty-allies are permanent allies, unlike marriage allies which only last for the generation the marriage is made or whatever.

  10. Shakes999 says:

    After spending 6+ hours playing CKII and almost the same amount of time reading guides on the internet, I have come to the conclusion that I am just to stupid to play this game. I has a sad :(

    • _Nocturnal says:

      No you’re not. Just try it. All you need to do is pick a character to play as, pick a wife for him from a list, give orders to his council (by selecting one of three options and possibly a place for the order to play out), and wait for events to happen. That’s it!
      You can trigger some events such as fairs and feasts yourself. You can make certain characters like you more by sending them gifts, granting them titles and helping with their ambitions. All of this is easily done and well explained in the game itself.
      When shit hits the fan, there’s a single button you need to press which raises all the armies available to you. You press the button, select all the armies that appear and click on the bad guys. If you haven’t gone to war with someone much more powerful than you, you win!

      …unless your character dies in battle, his two brothers start a civil war each and the regent to his infant heir dies in mysterious circumstances. Then you lose. But you lose because of your decisions, not because of how complicated playing the game is.

      • Leb says:

        best way i’ve heard anyone describe learnign CK2, certainly true.

        CK2 isn’t a traditional strategy title, don’t go in looking for strategies, tactics, etc.

        Just go in and let stuff happen. The only thing you really need to understand is marriage, councilors, and succession and the rest is cheesecake

    • Llewyn says:

      Trust me, that’s only because you’re approaching it with the wrong mindset, as most of us did at first – you’re treating it like a game that you need to try to win. You don’t. It can be perfectly viable and quite entertaining to play it almost passively – effectively to roleplay how a real ruler would have lived – without any grand vision or necessarily much idea what’s going on.

      Once you do understand the mechanics it’s trivially easy to dominate the AI from almost any starting position, but that gets quite dull quite fast – the joy in CKII lies in not optimizing your gameplay, in willingly accepting your mistakes, in suffering setbacks and fighting back against them.

      And of course sometimes you can be incredibly successful by inaction and sheer chance, as you can fail miserably by executing a daring plan almost perfectly. Example: in my current game I control just over a third of Europe as King of Bavaria, the remainder was split between the Holy Roman Empire and Castille who have been vying for power for several generations. Warfare, civil wars, assassinations and strategic marriages – all by AI characters, while I’ve largely pursued my own goals and watched – have finally succeeded in uniting the two thrones under a Jimena Emperor, the first of his line…

      …and the last, as those assassinations have left him without surviving children, and without a male Jimena heir within the last three generations. Thanks to a strategic marriage sought by the previous Jimena King of Castille, the heir to the Empire, Spain and Hungary is my eldest son – the AI’s schemes have presented the whole of Europe to me on a plate, united.

      Assuming of course that my son lives long enough…

  11. Arglebargle says:

    I’ve gotten to the point where I dread these ‘upgrades’. I only play mod versions of CK2 now, Project Balance, CKPlus, Lux Invicta, etc. Paradox’s big patch ‘upgrades’ invariably change basic structures of the game, causing every mod to have to be reworked. If the folks responsible feel up to yet another complete redo. Those ‘upgrades’ too frequently lead to game breaking bugs as well.

    I have had seperate installations of CK2 for almost every single major ‘upgrade’, as I wanted to finish an in progress dynasty run. And Paradox’s ‘saves don’t survive a patch’ mechanic makes that tough otherwise. This also skews their statistics, as I have played more time ‘off the books’, than their records would ever show.

    • Gormongous says:

      Hey, if this DLC makes vanilla Sword of Islam anything other than ridiculous and broken, I’ll gladly see all my favorite mods lose compatibility for a while.

  12. alh_p says:

    Re: “Took the cake”. Ugh. US English. I will not have divergent factions represented on this website!

  13. Pippy says:

    When’s CK2: The Completable Tutorial coming out?