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King For Two Days: Crusader Kings II

I haven't actually been a king at all, not even for an hour.

As many of you will have noticed, Crusader Kings II came out on Valentine’s Day. This, as it turns out, was a good thing. I’d already played the beta extensively and have only emerged from the full version when the fact of being a biological entity has demanded that I do so, or when the necessity to write about other things has arisen. I’m not ready to write extensively about wot I think yet – it’s a big game and I’ll be thinking lots about it – but it would be remiss not to acknowledge the release and the hours I’ve already enjoyed.

The original game’s mixture of roleplaying and grand strategy is intact, made more complex I feel but backed up by a robust set of tutorials. There are slight niggles, although the greatest so far is the sheer power of some pagan territories and that’s something that may be necessary for late game balance. To be honest, when that’s my biggest issue so far, I’m probably actively seeking something to grumble about.

I haven’t run into any crashes, and the game is far more in depth and satisfying than Sengoku, which it shares some mechanics and visual stylings with. Over the next few days, I’ll be taking a few different approaches, from forging mighty kingdoms and reclaiming distant lands for the Pope, to eking out an existence as a lowly vassal. I’ll be plotting and indulging in peccadilloes aplenty, but I’ll also make sure to walk the path of virtue and nobility. Here’s the launch trailer, which contains naught of those last two qualities.

What I won’t do in the next few days is experience all the possibilities on show because this, like its precursor, is a game rich with start points, journeys, narratives and glorious ways to decline.

For all that Crusader Kings II is a game about staring at maps and adjusting the flow of numbers, and it is those things, more than anything it is an engine for creating stories. So, while I forge an empire of words, who else has been playing already and what kind of medieval mischief have you been up to?

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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