Fun And Prophet: Crusader Kings 2 Expansion Out Now

By Graham Smith on November 18th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

If you enter in to Crusader Kings 2 with a plan to win, you’re going to be frustrated. It’s a complex turn-based strategy game set during the Middle Ages in Europe, with an overwhelming array of options available whether you start as a mighty King or a lowly Count. If you approach it as a role-playing game though, with an interest only in being interesting, then it’s an accessible, surprising delight to muddle your way through and craft your own stories.

That’s why any new expansion to the game is so exciting; every added layer of detail gives you a new role to perform. Sons of Abraham focuses on expanding the Jewish and Muslim faiths. It’s out now and there’s a new developer diary below.

In another developer’s hands, this might feel like dicey territory, or a theme chosen with the intent of courting controversy. That’s not how the CK2 team operate, and all of the additions make perfect sense within the context of Crusader Kings 2. They’re being sensible, historical, respectful about the subject matter, exactly as they were with the Christian faiths in the base game and the Norse and Pagans in the last expansion, The Old Gods.

Whether you’re interested in controlling a leader of one of the new and expanded faiths or not, the idea is that the additions should make the game more interesting for every character, including Christian rulers. That’s partly because Paradox have added hundreds of new religious-themed events “pertaining to relics, monastic life and pilgrimages”, and because you’ll now have more rivals to contend with as you attempt to survive, rule and conquer.

As project lead Henrik Fåhraeus mentions in the above video, Sons of Abraham will be a smaller expansion than The Old Gods, but that’s reflected in the price. The Old Gods was £10, but Sons of Abraham is £8.

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80 Comments »

  1. Mortomes says:

    It’s not a turn based strategy game.

    • BTAxis says:

      It’s not dissimilar though, since time passes in discrete, indivisible units.

      • Sakkura says:

        There are so many of them that pausable real-time is a more reasonable description.

      • Jiskra says:

        yes, they are called days …

        • DragonOfTime says:

          What if we could split them into even smaller units? Modern theories suggest that they consist of “hours”, “minutes”, and “seconds”. If we split them, then it would, in theory, release massive amounts of time! If we could harness the power of days we could supply the future with time forever!

    • RedViv says:

      Still, people! I hear the scratching of lateral setae against aluminium, sand and earth rubbing against oily skin!

    • RaveTurned says:

      I always wince slightly when people call Paradox games “turn-based”. I mean, it’s kind of technically true if you call each day a turn, but it doesn’t really fit expectations from other turn-based games when you can have dozens of them fly past in the space of a few seconds. But then again, it’s not quite real-time either.

      I’ve heard them described as “continuous-time” games before which seems to describe them a bit better – but when you say that to people who haven’t encountered the games before they tend to look a bit baffled. :-/

    • killias2 says:

      It’s actually pretty ridiculous that RPS would say something like this. I’d give it a pass at a console-focused site, but isn’t RPS all about being “teh über hardc0reses”?

      YOU HEAR THAT RPS?! YOU LOSE 1 HARDC0RESES POINT

      • Eightball says:

        “Turn-based” is the pedantic (and thus, hardcore) descriptor of Paradox games. It isn’t a very helpful descriptor, but the games are based on discreet (if very short) turns.

        • killias2 says:

          Isn’t that arguably true for all pausable real time games?
          Or even all real time games?

          • Dave Tosser says:

            Whenever someone calls something that clearly isn’t turn-based turn-based (Infinity Engine games, Paradox grand strategies, real life) the counter argument is always that everything takes place in miniscule increments of time and is thus “turn-based”. Real life is therefore turn-based, and Silent Storm is real-time because there are bits between the turns where you can move your mouse without costing action points. Furthermore, rugby is we-go and chess is active time battle.

            Just so this doesn’t happen again, pro-tip:
            If you genuinely struggle to determine whether it is or isn’t turn-based, look for an end turn button.

    • 2lab says:

      And this expanision isn’t about the Muslim faith either.

  2. Bluerps says:

    Hurray! First thing I’ll do is to try to replace catholicism with a heresy. I just can’t decide which one…

  3. Didden says:

    And thus the cash cow continues… hats off to Paradox though, but it is putting me off buying their titles new.

    • killias2 says:

      I had a blast with both CK2 and EU4 new. These are just here to lure you back. Honestly, when it comes to Paradox, I play by these rules:
      1. After release, buy at the first sale.
      2. Wait to buy DLCs until they’re criminally cheap.

      They tend to work for me.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Why?

      CK2 was a full game (at only 40€ I might add). The DLC expanded the game and you can pick and choose which bits you want. What’s the downside?

      • AgamemnonV2 says:

        “Full” game? This is cute.

        EU4 is a full game–you can play as every single country in the game without restrain.

        In CK2, you can only play as Christians. Want to play as Venice or Genoa? Too bad, need to buy an expansion. Want to play as a Muslim faction? Access denied. Want to play as a Pagan? No Candosville, baby doll. Being unable to play as certain factions because they are hidden behind paywalls is the very definition of an incomplete game. That’s $35+ on top of a base $40 to actually play the actual base game.

        The Paradox fanbase is virulent, as evident by the ornery responses to Didden, when it comes to the issues regarding CK2′s inconsistencies compared to Paradox’s most recent title launch.

        • L3TUC3 says:

          Well, the game is called “crusader kings” 2 and delivered exactly that part at release. Everything else seems out of scope, but ended up surprisingly fitting and fun to play. I’m not even sure PI had planned all these since the start, with CK2 being a surprise hit and all. I don’t mind paying for extras that greatly enhance the experience (that’s what I consider the base dlcs), but the music, faces and unit packs are pushing it a bit too far (why not include them with their respective dlc?).

          The only bit that were missing are theocracies, and those seem to be included with the latest installmen. Feature complete now?

        • Eightball says:

          Is Age of Empires II without the Conquerors(?) expansion a full game?

        • Wednesday says:

          I’m pained that L3TUC3 beat me to the punch on this one, but it bears repeating.

          Essentially, your complaint is that your can’t play as no Christians or anyone outside a Kingdom in a game called *Crusader Kings*.

          I got Sword of Islam for less than the cost of a pint of beer. People will complain about anything.

        • Stellar Duck says:

          Well, I bought the game expecting it to be a sequel to Crusader Kings, a game where you play as kings that crusade. Or dukes and counts, I guess, but you know. Crusading feudal lords.

          And that’s what I got. I got a game called Crusader Kings 2 that was playable at version 1.0 and a complete experience within the scope of what the game set out to do. It’s really simple.

          That they later decided, on the wave of success that the game ended up with, to expand into playing as non crusading kings was, frankly, just gravy. I played CK2 for a couple hundred hours before getting the Islam expansion so it wasn’t like I feel cheated. I’ve subsequently bought the rest of them as well, sans the Sunset Invasion one, and I’ve enjoyed it for hundreds more hours. But as I said, that was gravy. I still haven’t even played as a republic, let alone trying out the Old Gods. Too busy crusading.

          Aside from all that, the patches that come with an expansion enable most of the dlc stuff for the AI so even if you don’t have the expansion your game will still get a lot of it. And if you’re into to multiplayer, as far as I understand, only the host needs to actually have the DLC.

          I fail to see how that is a terrible practice. Release a game that does what it says on the tin and then expand it in significant ways later on. I daresay I wish more developers did that.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          And you still can’t play as dolphins, even though there’s an ocean right there. Complete ripoff.

          • McGuit says:

            …..And you still can’t play as dolphins, even though there’s an ocean right there. Complete ripoff……

            :O

    • Lanfranc says:

      Indeed. Imagine them not just developing new content for their games, but expecting people to pay for it? The cads. >:(

    • slerbal says:

      The DLCs are optional and have massively extended the game play time for me. The extra units, banners, music and faces are completely optional/easy to just ignore but the core DLCs for Byzantium, Islam, Republics and Norse have all added at least another couple of hundred hours to my play time for CK2 (currently according to Steam I’ve played over 550 hours… eek).

      Also if you play in MP with a friend hosting who owns the others you get full access to them for the game, which is a pretty decent thing to do I reckon.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      You know how I deal with the Paradox DLC paradox? I never buy their games at full release price, I get them free when I can (you’d be surprised how many of these titles get handed out by the company), and I never buy their DLC unless a massive discount is involved.

      I certainly dislike Paradox’s money-siphoning post-release support process, especially in light of the fact that they’ve been guilty in the past of holding off on patching vanilla content in favor of coding fixes into DLC. I just happen to enjoy a game or two that they’ve created, so I let my money do the talking.

    • Jason Lefkowitz says:

      The DLCs frequently go on sale for 50%-75% off, so it’s not that painful in practice — hardcore fans grab them at full price right away, everyone else waits and gets them cheap on sale.

      The bigger problem with Paradox’s DLC strategy IMO isn’t with the big, meaty expansion packs so much as the smaller, cheaper packs of cosmetic changes. They put out so many of the latter that it’s impossible to point a newbie at, say, the CK2 Steam page and have them understand which packs are must-haves and which aren’t; there’s just a long list of undifferentiated DLCs. It would be good if they would roll up the ones that actually add gameplay features into a single package, so new players could just grab CK2 and the latest expansion multi-pack instead of having to manually review five hundred DLCs and determine whether each is a must-have or not.

    • theleif says:

      @Didden: Don’t let the pesky fact that they have added more to the game in free patches than what most other developers add in paid expansions detract from your conviction.

    • Didden says:

      Wow. Drama :). For the record, I bought it at full price and picked up some expansions in sales, or at full price sometimes. And as far as Paradox go, I own quite a fair bit of their catalogue. And for every Crusaders Kings, there are also products like Sengoku that they haven’t been supported – and in its own way, was just a stepping stone technically to CK2, which is a shame, although they did patch it.

      And I recently gave up playing Hearts of Iron 3 again, after the ship stacking became laughable (200 ships in a fleet etc with no downsides), so that game is still, frankly broken in some key ways outside of land combat, and is an issue mods can’t fix that sadly (I asked).

      And yes, its great that they have supported CK2 and continue to add to it, but having played the Muslims a fair bit, I have to say this expansion will probably add quite a bit to that experience. Good stuff and all that, but I’d rather, these events were added when the Muslims were added originally. I’d rather wait for them to a deeper expansion effectively.

      The point I’m at now, is that with there being so many games I can choose to play, that my approach to Paradox has effectively changed. I will no longer be buying the products at full price. With EU4, I’ll definitely be waiting 2-3 three years. At that point, all of their original ideas will have been fleshed out, and the bugs forced into submission at the end of a pointy stick.

      Don’t get me wrong though, this Paradox is far better than the one it used to be, where buggy releases were par for the course. I just feel they’ve sort of gone to far one way, and would prefer meatier expansions that take a bit longer, include everything (aka music, faces etc), and sold for one distinct price.

    • HothMonster says:

      Meh. The dlc additions, at this point, are more than I would have expected from a sequel and combined cost less to buy than if they had just held onto it all for two years and called it CK3. Not to mention none of the DLC is earth shattering just wait till its 75% off, the base game is fun enough.

  4. The Pink Ninja says:

    JEWS: The Expansion Pack

  5. The Pink Ninja says:

    What I really want is an option that starts off with no Empires or Kingdoms but every De Jury Duchy as an independent realm.

  6. teije says:

    Could be just the thing to pull me away from EUIV for awhile and back to CK2.

    • slerbal says:

      I dunno, the new EUIV DLC is really getting me excited…but CK2 is such a great game that I’m sure it will get some more play over winter.

      Last time I made a Norse Venetian Patrician. Now that was an interesting game!

  7. Armatool says:

    dlc the game

  8. Njordin says:

    Turnbased, RPS [Graham Smith] ? Really? You´re disappointing me, son.

  9. SillyWizard says:

    So I haven’t picked up any of the expansions to CK2 yet, but I have a question about how they interrelate:

    Say you start as a Viking in 867 in the Old Gods expansion. Through creative marriage-arranging, would it be possible to inherit a Merchant House centuries later through The Republic DLC, and open an entirely new layer of gameplay?

    • wengart says:

      I too would like to know.

      • soulblur says:

        Hmm. I didn’t buy The Olds Gods, but I don’t see why you couldn’t move into playing a merchant house later on. It’s possible to create a merchant state as one of your vassal states by making a duke of a city leader, as opposed to from a castle leader. Merchant families then arise to create the vying for power that happens in a merchant republic, but the overall leader would still be one of your vassals.

        The problem with then directly taking over the merchant republic is that it limits you in other ways – they could never rise above limited crown authority, I believe.

    • RaveTurned says:

      I think achieving this by marriage would be impossible due to the way inheritance and succession work for Republics. Your game can only continue through heirs of your dynasty, and the heads of merchant families are only selected from people in their own dynasties. Even if you married into a merchant family I don’t think you could inherit the Republic as your children would either be ineligible to inherit the merchant titles or your own.

      There may be other ways to turn yourself into a Republic though. I know you can create Republic vassals by giving duke-level titles to someone whose primary holding is a town. It might be possible to engineer something similar for yourself, but it’d be pretty tricky to pull it off.

    • Leb says:

      You can load up any of your save games as a different existing characters.

      I’ve played games where I formed a decent empire, given a bunch of land to a son as a republic, and then reloaded and continued to play as that republic (while the AI plays as my previous character)

      This can be done in any way you seem fit! A lot of players Like to switch to a less powerful realm after success in one realm, effectively playing against your own creation, or play with yourself if you will :)

      • SillyWizard says:

        Thanks for your input. I was hoping more for a way to directly manage both a kingdom/empire and a merchant house, though it makes sense that that’s not really an option.

        Thanks for the reminder about being able to pick up different characters whenever loading…I’ve never messed around with that but I could see it being pretty amusing.

        • Malk_Content says:

          Just in case nobody has pointed this out, although you can’t go from Feudal > Republic or vice versa without swapping your character, there is no cap to the level of title a Republic can become. I had great fun with my Norse Republic of Brittania (had to do savegame shenanigans at the start of the game, losing a total of 1 day of game time in order to start as a Norse Republic.) I can’t remember what your title is as an emperor level Republic but it was pretty spiffing.

          The best bit was essentially doing viking raids down the coast of Portugal and instead of raping and pillaging I left baby merchant houses behind.

  10. Dominic White says:

    For those struggling to understand the appeal of a strategy game without any kind of clearly defined ‘win’ state, I highly encourage that you give the ‘Flamboyant Schemers’ Let’s Play a read:

    http://lparchive.org/Crusader-Kings-2-(by-Thanqol)/

    A family of barely-noble nobodies run in circles for generations, achieving very little in the grand scheme of things, but in the most spectacular possible fashion. The game is so much more fun if you actively roleplay each character in succession.

  11. Leb says:

    Should be noted that Sons of Abraham is not just an overhaul on the Jewish and Muslim faiths, but also does A LOT to Christian gameplay :)

  12. serioussgtstu says:

    I hope this religious overhaul will add a few new ways to generate piety for your character, like through pilgrimages or by recapturing important religious sites. Throwing money at the Pope got boring pretty quickly.

    Also, I know almost nothing about medieval Jewish culture, so this might whet my appetite.

    • tormos says:

      You are in luck! Pilgrimages and alternate methods of gaining piety are both things that have been added to the main game. (Although I have to say, I think the only time i’ve ever bought an indulgence was while saving piety to make a kingdom)

  13. Kubrick Stare Nun says:

    Jeez, this is nuts. Crusader Kings 2 Collection is already more expensive than recently launched AAA games and it doesn’t even have all of the DLC. Capcom ain’t got nothing on Paradox.

  14. Trespasser in the Stereo Field says:

    I have a feeling this is going to be one of those games that I blow $40 on because I promise myself I’m going to spend all Christmas vacation learning the ins and outs of this awesomely complex game that gets rave reviews from everyone but then after 10 minutes into the tutorial I get up to make a cup of coffee and never come back to it.

    • Wednesday says:

      Alright, you all need to hear this.

      My girlfriend can play this game. So what, you ask? It’s her first ever strategy game. At all.
      It is complex, but you need not actually grasp that complexity. I still have no bloody idea how tax is generated.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Tax is, I assume, generated when I strong arm my vassals to pay me through the nose or go to the dungeon.

        Either that or arcane magic.

        But really, I haven’t the faintest idea. I just roll with it. It’s the same with the technology. I just buy one when I have enough points. No clue as to how it spreads, and nor do I care. I’m not one for min maxing anything.

        Much better to fail spectacularly than play a boring safe game, I find.

      • belgand says:

        Precisely. There are, indeed, some complex systems at work behind the scenes, but they tend to stay there. In reality the game tends to skew way too far in the other direction and often gives you almost nothing to do. I’ve often spent far too much time just sitting there and turning the speed up higher and higher in the hopes that eventually something will happen so I can have a chance to do something. The number of interesting decisions to make is sadly very underwhelming.

    • SillyWizard says:

      Do not waste your time on the “tutorial.” It’s a series of boring-as-a-coworker’s-kid-pictures pages of text. And the game, turns out, really isn’t complicated enough to warrant all that.

      Find a couple of youtube let’s plays, and just check out what they do.

      Essentially, your goal is to build up prestige. There’s literally 2 or 3 things you can do in a normal year to gain prestige. Over time there are some other things you can do, but the game pretty naturally makes those options available, so you don’t need to worry about them too much.

      Figure out how to do them, and use the rest of your free time to poke around.

      You can be a busy-body arranging marriages for everyone in your court, or you can leave people to their own devices. You can try to assassinate someone standing in the way of a potential inheritance, but chances are you won’t need to worry about things like that until well after you’ve figured them out just by poking around while waiting for things to happen.

      It’s not 1/10th as complicated as it looks.

      I would recommend making sure you see some info on how to run a military campaign on a let’s play. Sometimes the numbers don’t mean what you expect them to mean.

    • Listlurker says:

      For those looking for solid, accessible instruction on how to play Crusader Kings II, may I suggest the short series of Tutorial videos done by Tekk on the “Tekk’s Tavern” channel at YouTube?

      It’s where I learned to play, since the in-game tutorial is highly unhelpful, at best.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJhoyHE26lg&list=PLDF61F4A4275A64D4

      Tekk’s tutorial for the vanilla game is slightly dated by now (e.g. certain UI elements have since been moved, as he flags in an annotation), but follow up the Tutorial vids with one of his Let’s Plays, and you should see whatever detail explained that you’re seeking.

  15. buedi says:

    I like it how CK2 is a game about Sex, which is also clearly shown twice on the Screenshot. And nobody noticed it :-)

    • OscarWilde1854 says:

      Funny: I was JUST about to make an almost identical comment, but I figured I’d pull out the old “ctrl-f” first and see if anyone else had used the word “sex” so far… and to my delight it turns out i’m NOT the only person who noticed the windows strategically blocking out parts of words to leave the viewer with a number of intercourse references.

      • buedi says:

        Haha. Same as me. I used CTRL-F twice and found nothing. Then I created an Account just for this comment. Before posting, did CTRL-F again. Nothing found :-)

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I wanted to say thank heaven the map isn’t centred on Scun-thorpe, but the RPS anti-swearinator suffers from the Scun-thorpe problem. So here it is, with a dash to remove the rude

  16. hypocritelecteur says:

    RPS
    Please do not become another gaming site that allows writers to comment, review or preview games that they have obviously not played.

    This is shameful.

    • McCool says:

      It was clearly just a slip of the finger. Adam Smith has been an avid Paradox Grand Strategy fan for years, he’s reviewed every single game of that genre that has come out in the last few years for RPS. He’s the local expert, the man knows his GS, he probably just wrote the article in a rush.

    • SillyWizard says:

      hypocritelecteur

      Please do not become another gaming site commentor who nit picks every inconsequential error he sees, especially four hours after the subject was done to death.

      It’s pretty embarrassing.

  17. JoeX111 says:

    I really like this idea of playing the game by roleplaying the individual rulers. But I still have no bloody idea how to play. :( Help.

  18. Darkhorse says:

    sex

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