Opening The Passage: CK II – Rajas Of India

I don’t think anyone at Paradox expected Crusader Kings II to spread into India with quite as much gusto as it will this March. The next expansion adds around 50% to the world map, with almost 400 new provinces, three new religions and a continent’s worth of new events, including the possibility of chained ‘reincarnation’ plotlines. As always with these generous chunks of DLC, a free patch will be released alongside the expansion and it will contain a surprisingly hefty amount of content, including the entirety of the expanded map, and Steam matchmaking and Workshop support. While it may not have the immediate appeal of the Old Gods to many (Vikings vs Buddhists anyone?), Rajas is the biggest expansion since. More details below.

As I’ve said before, Crusader Kings II is starting to feel increasingly like Crusader Kings III, at least for those of us who install every expansion as soon as it arrives. Simply looking at the new map for Rajas of India is exciting – the East has always been something of a sketch, with large irregular provinces thrown together. The edges have been tidied up, chopping back the foliage intruding at the garden’s edge, and the additions suggest all sorts of new long-term strategic plans.

Rulers in or around the Middle East have a swathe of new territories to conquer, and cultures to dabble in, and it will be far easier to build a strong power base before setting foot in Europe. Central Asia and Siberia have been properly integrated, and all of these changes have led to an adjustment of the map’s projection. There should be less congestion in those areas of the map now, with provinces more densely divided and the influence of terrain perhaps increased as the distance between East and West stretches, and the choice of meeting point becomes a finer tactical decision. Mountain ranges are potentially as deadly as minefields to armies on a long-haul trip, already suffering from exhaustion and the harassment of smaller forces.

Jungle is an entirely new terrain type, likely to be seen in parts of Africa as well as India. As with everything in the game, the exact positioning of jungle provinces is a compromise between historical reality and the desire to create (or permit) interesting developments. Jungles are placed to create the possibility of bottlenecks and there will be corresponding military traits for leaders. Those who have familiarity with the region will have an enormous strategic advantage, making the advance into India more treacherous than might appear to be the case.

After all, one might think, how difficult would it be to conquer a continent that is divided into three faith types and many splintered realms? Rulers and their people can be Hindu, Buddhist or Jain, and each of the religions and cultures will have its own set of events. The Hindu might well be the most familiar because they’re almost as warlike as the current Pagan, Islamic and Christian folks who are already playable. With the ability to raid neighbouring provinces and a ready supply of casus belli at hand, they’re the most obvious choice for the crusading non-crusader. Buddhists are philosophical sorts, capable of speedy research and forming a middle ground between Hindu and Jain.

The Jains, you see, are quite a radical proposition. A playable culture in a grand strategy game with a firm pacifist core. They are – rather incredibly considering the game’s name and the time in which it is set – tolerant. In a time when heresies, torture, murder and warfare often break out at the family dinner table or during bedside prayers, the Jain are strangers in a strange land. They don’t particularly understand the concept of heresy and their tolerance and non-violent philosophies allow them to support large realms, with many vassals.

On top of all that, there are new events and plotlines, including the possibility of reincarnation. The ancestor of a character a player previously controlled may be heralded as their reincarnation, leading to an ongoing series of events that could see them take on traits and even the appearance of that person, creating a strong link to the past. Other events will include a focus on the happy rhymes of Karma and Dharma. Work has also been carried out to make Ethiopia, Nubia and Abyssinia more interesting to play. That section of the world was the location of a planned ‘mini’ expansion but it has been included in the free patch that will accompany Rajas of India.

When project lead Henrik Fåhraeus described the map projection, he illustrated by swivelling his hands, fingers painting squares in the air, like a director or cinematographer reframing a shot. He seemed mildly distressed that the previously ‘unswivelled’ version had been available for so long. That seems to be the approach to the current DLC policy – see all that has gone before and, with an experienced director’s eye, reframe the shot. Henrik and his team have already created one of modern gaming’s masterpieces, and the addition of even more possible playstyles and storylines seems like a splendid idea. The focus on the map this time around, in terms of terrain and province tweaks as well as growth, also suggests there might well be a few surprising changes to long-term and long-disance war campaigns.

As our meeting came to an end, Henrik pointed out a land bridge between India and Sri Lanka. It’s called Adam’s Bridge, and with this inclusion and the announcement of Wealth of Nations, I felt I was on the verge of being turned into a piece of DLC myself. I didn’t know it existed until I saw it on the Rajas’ map and I don’t think Henrik knew about it until he started his research for the expansion, or at least he hadn’t realised that it was passable on foot until just after CK II’s time period.

It’s in the game now though, forming a route for armies, and there’s a wonderful impression that Henrik is being permitted to teach and entertain even as he continues to learn about a period he already knows so much about. Even before the release of Rajas, I’ve started to speculate about what plans he forms for the next DLC. Expect the unexpected, although perhaps not in the form of a revamped Spanish Inquisition.

Also expect war elephants.


  1. Thurgret says:


    I thought they had come to a conclusion with Sons of Abraham. But I see they’ve engaged the Infinite Money Hoover again. Not that I disapprove, though I do wonder at how much of the world they ultimately intend to try and have.

    • Martel says:

      I’m just waiting for the expansion that takes to the stars, then they will have the world and more!

    • Syphus says:

      The Silk Road was well established in this timeline, so I imagine they can go all the way east.

      • Thurgret says:

        That’s a good point. I just have a really Europe-centric point of view, admittedly, and know next to nothing about the history of anywhere due east of the Levant or Hungary. I should probably see to fixing that.

      • Dorako says:

        As much as I would love that, I don’t know personally I have heard many argue that the feudal mechanics don’t make sense in the far east. Given the way they’re a core of the game, that would be hard to rework…

        • PatrickR says:

          The feudal mechanics are only really central to the Christian bits and pieces – Paradox built completely new systems where appropriate, as far as I can see

        • SillyWizard says:

          What would be the problem with Far-Eastern feudalism, anyway? Japan for sure had a pretty analogous-to-the-west feudal society.

          China was generally better at centralizing their government than their contemporaries, as far as I can tell, but it was such a massive and ever-changing political landscape there, it would be like the HRE of the East. Which could be awesome!

          I for one would absolutely love an expansion to ultimately include the Far East. Chinese gameplay should of course force players into an inescapably isolationist situation, to reflect China’s self-obsession.

          A cursory glance at Wikipedia suggest that China from 867-1435ish would see the fall of the Tang Dynasty, the fracturing into the 5 Dynasties and 10 Kingdoms period, the Kingdom of Dali, the Northern and Southern Songs, then the Liao, Jin, Western Xia, and Yuan Dynasties. Plenty of turmoil for everybody!

          (I’m getting really excited about all the potential for eunichs to ruin everybody’s shit in ancient China.)

          • Lacero says:

            At the top level perhaps, but under that it was all civil service examinations and many, many families.

            In practice it likely wouldn’t be too different to the republic gameplay, but instead of your ability and age and bribe money etc. affecting people voting you to doge, your ability and bribe money etc. would affect your score on the civil service exams. I imagine you’d have a decision that lets you try and take the next level of exam each year or so. And of course the main requirement would be cultural knowledge and etiquette rather than any actual ability. Passing an exam would result in you being reassigned.

            So you’d end up in a hierarchy of provinces with each level having their positions chosen by civil service ballot. Probably your “court” would be entirely assigned by the civil service exam results with some options to bribe for better people?

            Invading neighbours is nonsense in this, but you could promise your men to factions at the empire level which would lead to the other dynasties you mention taking over. Presumably you could even try and be one of those dynasties but I can’t see the join between civil service play and feudal. Perhaps only the top five families get those options and the aim is to get your family up to that level through good breeding and assassination.
            I don’t know what you’d be doing exactly, probably collecting taxes for your masters and putting down rebels and trying to genetically engineer competent sons who will also pass the etiquette exams.

          • SillyWizard says:

            Wow, yeah…for sure it seems like the bulk of your court would be civil servants, but just as you only ever play Count+ level nobility in Europe, it seems like you similar rules would apply to a Chinese expansion. They still had an aristocratic class of sorts in earlier eras who employed civil servants. I’m assuming an aristocracy existed during the time period in question. (I could be wrong.)

            The Outlaws of the Marsh took place during I believe the 11th or 12th century AD, and there were tons of bandits and erstwhile appointees of the emperor-cum-rebels trying to carve out their own kingdoms within China at the time. (Old fiction = history!)

            One (possibly) neat way that the game could work in China would be to have a player start out in control a province, and whenever your character dies, the dynasty would end if you haven’t managed to secure a province-level appointment for your heir. And if the end is nigh and you haven’t set something up, you could always simply rebel and try to set up your own sovereign nation — perhaps with an end-goal of conquering the entirety of China and setting up your own Heaven Mandated Dynasty.

            It could be an interesting gimmick to have your primary heirs not be guaranteed a title.

        • Baines says:

          Paradox tried with Sengoku, which ran on the same engine as Crusader Kings II.

          Sengoku wasn’t great. It wasn’t the fault of the engine or the CKII mechanics though. It was the lack of game present. The characters and countries were interchangeable. There were barely any events. Combat was basic. There were few choices. Sengoku was more like a rough draft or skeleton of a game, something that could have become interesting with an expansion or two to flesh it out.

          But the ultimate problem was lack of consumer interest. Paradox, selling games primarily to a Western audience, saw that Western focused games simply sold much better. Paradox couldn’t financially justify continuing with a game like Sengoku, not when a much larger audience was willing to pay for more Crusader Kings or Europa Universalis.

          Sengoku never managed even a single expansion, and “non-Western” stuff now seems relegated to being sold as expansions to Europe-focused games.

        • Anabasis says:

          In any case, CK II’s “feudalism” is clearly and obviously a total abstraction of the historical “feudalism,” which was quite a bit more messy and less systematic than presented in game (on top of the fact that the very concept has been challenged by some historians in recent decades). Besides, if we’re being restrictive, then Western European “feudalism” is a terrible way to represent the Byzantine Empire. I think the games systems work perfectly fine representing the balance between state power and regional power for pre-modern societies in general.

    • MaXimillion says:

      I believe SoA was supposed to be the first of the “Phase two” of DLC, which should contain around as many DLC’s as “Phase one” (everything before that point) did. And they’ll even do a third phase if it turns out people keep buying them and they don’t see moving to a CK3 as a priority.

  2. IshtarGate says:

    There are too few games set in India, so this certainly has me hugely hyped.

    That land bridge by the way, is more important than you’d think. Although it is presently a string of islands, the more orthodox Hindus hold that it was constructed by Rama of the Hindu epic Ramayana, during his absolutely JRPG-esque journey to defeat the demon king of Lanka.

    • Arvind says:

      Yeah, as an Indian and a CK2 player, this news is very exciting. I would like more information on which era of rulers the game will have, since eras in this region don’t match as neatly into the European ancient/medieval/etc eras but I guess that info will follow soon.

      • Thurgret says:

        As in, the 867/1066 start dates don’t really line up very well with major events in regional history?

        • Arvind says:

          Pretty much. There were a few pretty big empires with lots of history a long way before the start time (Maurya & Gupta empires), and the Mughal empire is a little bit later to include in this I believe.

          The region was splintered into many smaller empires for the majority of the time period, which isn’t bad by any means – just that we won’t see the really huge empires unless they change the time period.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Arguably I’d say that’s a good thing. Less blobbing and no HRE to dominate. Lots of smaller states make for more interesting games I think.

          • SillyWizard says:

            Most of the rest of the world in CK2 is fractured into tiny independent states (particularly if you start in 867). The game excels at the start-tiny-grow-massive style of play. Why would they fiddle with India’s history if that time period already matches the rest of the (existing) planet’s?

            If you want a Guptan empire, go see if you can find a descendant of the Guptas and reforge it!

          • iniudan says:

            I could see them added an 8th of June 632 start with that map extension, has I think it would fit for an interesting map in the East, has that the start of the Rashidun Caliphate for the Arab, thus would still have the Sassanid Empire for a strong Zoroastrian presence, while for India we would have the Gupta successor in the North like Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty (still small at the time) and Harsha, while the south would have Chalukya dynasty, should also have a few Cholas dynasty members mucking about with lesser title somewhere in the south-east, if you feel like trying to take back your rightful place at the head of the South with them.

            Sadly, I got no idea who was in the East after Gupta downfall and before the Pala dynasty conquest.

          • Lacero says:

            If they were extending the time period I think they would advertise it more. It’s most likely to be 867 still.

          • xaphoo says:

            This is not true. The time period lines up very nicely with the Ghaznavid Empire (the height of which was around 1000), its successor the Ghurids, and then, most importantly, the Delhi Sultanate, which lasted from 1200 or so to the 15th century, and then even longer in certain areas up to the rise of the Mughals.

            These were large empires based in the Indian subcontinent. They were, however, Muslim.

            There’s also Timur’s conquest of Delhi.

  3. MuscleHorse says:

    I’m looking forward to the Americas DLC, with the ability to play as any of the native tribes, along with their associated religions. Maybe.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      The problem there is we’re really unsure what Pre-Colombian American societies were like. There are fairly strong suspicions that, in North America in particular, Native society was more advanced than the one’s encountered by settlers, diseases bourne by the very first European explorers to penetrate the continent are thought to have caused tremendous epidemics that caused society to collapse. The standard perception of Native American tribes may well be only post apocalyptic remnants of those collapsed societies.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        I now want to play a post apocalyptic game in the Americas where you play as natives.

        • says:

          I think you’ve already got it – Fallout 2!
          (Still Looove that beginning!)

          • Stellar Duck says:

            I was more thinking post apocalyptic in the context that the indian societies we knew were remnants of something that had collapsed.

      • Marblecake says:

        Yes. Yes, please.

  4. MrThingy says:

    On the whole, seems like a nice idea. A little worried that maybe extending the CK2 map, and processing all the new provinces per day might affect performance a bit.

    (a longwinded way of saying my machine sucks, but runs CKII quite nicely at the moment)

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Can you Run EU:4?

      • MrThingy says:

        My machine starts to sound like a turbine hall… but it juuust about does EU:IV. (though EU:IV sadly just doesn’t tickle my gaming-plums like CK2 does, so I’ve left it on the shelf looking all Bambi-eyed and unloved…)

    • Kandon Arc says:

      It’s not the provinces that slow down CK2, it’s the growing number of characters through the game that slows it down. I too am a bit worried about late game performance with another +50% characters for the computer to keep track of.

      • MrThingy says:

        Eeep! My first long campaign as Byzantium and the Mongols haven’t arrived yet. The character count will possibly shoot up after that.

        • singh1699 says:

          You can literally build a solid system able to run arkham city on high 1080p for under 300. It’s called apu, if you’re buying games you have no excuses. :P

          Thank me later,

    • Anthile says:

      The CK2 save game system keeps track of every character ever, no matter how insignificant. My Amalfi Ironman save file from 867 to 1453 is a 67.79MB text file

  5. RedViv says:

    Wonderful. Now my Roman Empire might not get bored around 1300 when it has shoved even the Aztec invasion back where it came from. And then accidentally adopted its religion.

    • frightlever says:

      That is SUCH a Roman thing to do.

    • mouton says:

      How did you adopt the aztec religion, anyway?I am positive there are a bunch of sneaky ways but I am curious what route you took.

      • RedViv says:

        My heir’s mentor switched to the Aztec religion, ruling a province bordering an Aztec county. I only realised that a week before she turned 16, as that was when my character died. So I really just accidentally Caligula’d my way in there. That she had a Learning skill of 24 did help.

        • mouton says:

          Oh okay, I usually only have members of my court mentor my heirs so I was wondering how did you get an Aztec courtier. Seems like that would be harder and/or random.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Hah, I already know what I’m going to do! Two words: Buddhist Rome.

  7. Leb says:

    inb4 “this game looks so cool but I can’t get into it for some reason”

    • bstard says:

      Ck2 is about to get even better, all you konsole noobs better shape up.

    • jkz says:

      This post looks so cool but I can’t get into it for some reason.

    • Lacero says:

      My fridge looks so cool but I just can’t fit into it for some reason.

  8. frightlever says:

    I played a little bit of CKII when it came out and I’m actually relatively up to date with the DLC but I never quite got around to playing it properly – if you install these larger DLC can you still play the original game or is it gone for good? And how does this affect mods, like the GoT one?

    • MuscleHorse says:

      Can’t speak for mods, but each DLC is more like a jigsaw piece being clicked into place rather than a jigsaw machine chomping everything up. You can still play characters from Europe much as you would with the base game. That’s not mentioning the hefty patches that come with each DLC release that is applied to everyone’s game which tends to shift things about a bit.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        I suppose one nifty thing about me buying the GamersGate version is that I still have my 1.0 installer.

      • frightlever says:

        Well, say you JUST wanted to play the European game one weekend, can you restrict to that?

        Never mind, I’m being a pussy. I’ll just go download, roll up my sleeves and dive in. See you at Easter!

        • Stellar Duck says:

          Well, for what it’s worth I got all the DLC and I tend to focus on Europe and I only really take interest in what’s going on in the rest of Europe and further away when there is a crusade going on. Hell, if I’m playing somewhere in France I can miss England forming and breaking any number of times before I finally zoom out and go ‘Huh. I guess they’re part of Denmark these days.’

          I think you can be as insular or global as you like.

        • SillyWizard says:

          Every time you start the game you can select which DLCs you’d like to be active/inactive.

    • Jason Lefkowitz says:

      The “launcher” (the little box that pops up when you first run the program with news of new patches, etc.) should have a list of all your installed DLC down at the bottom, with checkboxes for each. Just un-check the ones you don’t want to run and the game will ignore them; it remembers which ones you un-checked, so you only have to do this once until you decide to roll those DLCs back in. (This is very handy for setups like mine, where by default I have it use all the DLCs except for the wildly game-altering Sunset Invasion.) So getting back to “vanilla” should just be a matter of unchecking all the DLCs.

    • Lacero says:

      Most of the mods only affect you if you’re playing as that group. Old Gods, Republic, Sword of Islam etc. only really affect whether you can play as norse or republics or muslims. The game is the same either way.

      The Byzantium one affects whether you can have a retinue or not, effectively a small standing army, this makes the game much easier and so it is a real difference.

      Otherwise, the game has changed as each expansion comes out and the game is patched up. Originally history would progress more or less as you’d expect. Now with everything included the norse hammer the north of europe so hard christianity can’t always keep up the defence against islam in spain and you can easily end up in a situation where christianity falls. If you want to push it in that direction.
      The absolute chaos in europe a few hundred years into an 867 start is wonderful.

  9. Orija says:

    Ashoka suceeded to a great empire that extended to Central Asia. He started the conquest of Kalinga in the ninth year of his reign, 259BC. The people of Kalinga were subdued after terrible slaughter. This war and slaughter affected Ashoka so deeply that there was to be no more war for him. Nearly the whole of India (2 million square miles), except a tip in the South was under him. He refrained from conquering it. According to HG Wells, he is the only military monarch in world history who abandoned warfare after victory.

    Kinda awe-inspiring, but would be boring as hell to actually play.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah but then he took to forced conversions to Buddhism, i learned after graduating school.

      Ashoka wasn’t quite as nice as popular Indian history pretends.

      • singh1699 says:

        It’s more Bramin revisionism to set up a platform for muslim hatred. I.e what Africans try to say to Europeans that we were peaceful you guys are mean invaders.

        The mauryan empire had the world’s largest spy system.

        They also ignore that he pretty much expanded all throughout the natural boundaries of South asia. It’s almost impossible to expand out of Afghanistan and you don’t reach anywhere with significant food until Mesopotamia or east Europe.

        India eventually became 70% bhuddist and bhuddism stretched from Iran to China.

        To be honest, the only way to rule India as a whole is through state terror. Mughals, Afghans, Mauryans, Guptas, British, and modern India are bold examples.

        It’s insane to think for a second a king would turn pacifist and be able to rule a place where people worship weapons.

  10. Hunchback says:

    Why would they ever make CK3, if people don’t really care about graphics with their games? I mean, they’ve released EU4, a supposedly brand new game etc… and visually and menus and basically everything but the underlying systems is 1:1 with CK2.
    Guess they can keep pumping CK2 expansions for the next 2-4 years, and it’ll be just fine. Then maybe they’ll consider building a new engine and a more streamlined, easy to navigate interface.

    Not that i complain, i find the game nice, with it’s weird shit and all, but still i think that they could have put some more effort in the visual aspect of it. Especially the interfaces, which really are horribad in terms of usability, accessibility and complexity. They just need to hire some proper UI engineers.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      ‘Especially the interfaces, which really are horribad in terms of usability, accessibility and complexity. They just need to hire some proper UI engineers.’

      Indeed, though compared to CK1 the interfaces are near perfect.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        One thing I miss about CK1 was that you could shove a kid off to be raised by the church. I did that at one point and the the poor kid hung himself at age 8. I wonder what all the monks and priests did to him…

  11. Asdfreak says:

    First thought: YES! New places for my vikings to build a kingdom. Should be quite interesting getting there and all, without pulling some bullshit trick. Great Jarldom of Ceylon, infinite mountains of looted gold to my feet.
    Also: Budhist Vikings.

  12. Laurentius says:

    So I assume we are one DLC away from Genghis-Khan expansion because this cruicial period of CK2 time frame was really unsatysfying,

    • dolgion1 says:

      Totally. An expansion would just make sense right now. I was disappointed that the Mongol campaign in CK2 started you off in the middle east thanks to the limited map. Now we can actually go all the way from central Asia and recreate the Mongol empire proper. Maybe an expansion isn’t really needed then, though a whole new set of events for would be perfect.

  13. Soulstrider says:

    [Historical Bonner Intensifies]

  14. derbefrier says:

    I really need to start playing this again. I bought the last expansion during the xmas sale and haven’t even booted it up. Stupid friends always bugging me to play coop games keeps distracting me

  15. SuicideKing says:

    Well, never paid attention to CK, now i just might. Adding Sikhs in the game might have made it even more interesting, though i’m not sure what timeline CK follows.

    @Adam: I wish you’d have called it Rama Setu or Rama’s Bridge, etc., it’s only appropriate, i mean heck, it was known long before British cartographers noticed it.

    • Leb says:

      1066 is default start, can start any date between 1066 and i believe 1457, long before Siikh religion becomes a thing (it is not in the game)

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Adding Sikhs in the game might have made it even more interesting, though i’m not sure what timeline CK follows.

      Considering Guru Nanak Dev Ji wasn’t actually born until after the end of the playable time in Crusader Kings II (game ends in 1453) & Sikhism wasn’t really formalised until the late 16th century (construction of Harmandir Sahib started in 1570 & the Guru Granth Sahib wasn’t finished until around 3 decades later in the early 17th century by Guru Arjan Dev Ji) it would be a little premature to add Sikhism to CKII. They’d need to extend the timeline by ~3 centuries which would step on the toes of Europa Universalis IV & defeat the purpose of the CKII -> EUIV save convertor.

      I guarantee it’ll be modded by someone somewhere though.

  16. Sidewinder says:

    Do we have anything in the way of a release timeframe yet?

  17. rwschris says:

    I hope you can re-establish the post-Alexandrian Hellenistic kingdoms.

  18. Drakedude says:

    Hot damn was the history in the comments interesting to read. Thank you!