Grander Strategies: EU IV And CK II Expansions

I haven’t checked in on Europa Universalis IV or Crusader Kings II for a while, but both games continue to expand in my absence. For Crusader Kings II, the Charlemagne expansion pushes back further into the early medieval period, with another hundred years added to the timeline and enough features to make the DLC equivalent in size to the gargantuan Old Gods expansion. EU IV’s Art of War expansion might be even larger and is certainly the grandest piece of DLC for Europa Universalis to date. As the name suggests, the focus is on military campaigns, but every system in these games is linked, so it’ll affect far more than the fracas. Videos below.

Charlemagne adds a tribal holding system, which is another form of the castle, city and temple systems in the base game. Rather than using money to upgrade tribal holdings, you’ll need prestige, and interactions with vassals will be influenced in different ways. There’s also a rejigging of De Jure kingdoms, which unfetters CK II from our current timeline even more. It will now be possible to create kingdoms that do not fit one of the pre-existing templates, which presumably means that my ambition to assume my true role within the game is one step closer.

As for Charlemagne himself, he begins locked into the sort of family rivalry that is often at the root of a great CK II narrative, but his personal story will have scripted branches that can either be followed, with deep story events ensuing, or ignored by players who decide to go off the beaten path. The Dynasty Chronicle is the other new feature that directly expands on the game’s storytelling aspect. A catalogue of events, it will be passed from generation to generation, and becomes a complete history of your family and those who have wronged them.

There’s far more, much of which can be seen in the video below. I’m dedicating my first campaign to preventing the formation of the Holy Roman Empire, so I can see an entirely new Europe. Again. It’s out tomorrow.

As for Art of War, Paradox reckon it might be the largest expansion in the studio’s history. Lots of new historical events, religious leagues and allied objectives that allow for more involvement during military campaigns. Subjects and vassals can now receive orders from the player, and in the late game, the ‘Client State’ technology will allow players to redraw the map in “a truly Napoleonic way”.

Again, there’s loads more, including a ludicrous number of new countries, provinces and events. Details in the video below.

The Art of War expansion is out on October 30th. One month, two major expansions. An early Christmas.


  1. iridescence says:

    Have a feeling both of these expansions will suck me back in to their respective games. Looking good for sure.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Is it just me, or does the heading for this article look like some kind of censored swearing? :)

  2. Lagran says:

    I refuse to play EUIV until I’ve played a few games of CK2 to completion, and I refuse to buy any new things for CK2 until I’ve actually used the DLCs I’ve bought (like, say, play as a non-Christian ruler). I’ll still be curious as to what things the Charlemagne patch adds into the base game.

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      Arnvidr says:

      At least you’re playing. I still can’t bring myself to buy any of them until I can see the end of the expansions and DLC train. At least that’s a positive thing about season passes. If my backlog wasn’t enormous I would probably have bought CK1 complete.

      • Baines says:

        I can’t bring myself to buy CK2 expansions because I’m now far behind on them, and eventually Paradox will need to release CK3.

        CK2 has to be creaking at the seams by this point, and could presumably benefit from general design and engine improvements that are outside the scope of its expansions. But Paradox’s path of expansions may only be making it harder for them to bite the bullet and create CK3.

        • B4rberblacksheep says:

          The engine is actually surprisingly stable considering what’s been bolted onto it. When they made the game initially/over a cousrse of patches they’ve made it very easy to add new content to the game without destabilising it. You just missed the Paradox sale which had all the current dlc for about £10 but if you want to stick to a shoestring budget on it just get The Old Gods and Legacy of Rome. Rajas of India doesn’t seem to add much in the way of mechanics just a LOT of land. Abrahamic faiths is worthwhile if you want to play any of the Abrahamic faiths (duh) but you need Sword of Islam to play as any of the Muslim variants.

      • Lagran says:

        The vast majority of the time I’ve been able to wait until 75% sales where I can pick up what I’ve missed. Even with all the DLC I have, I’ve probably spent about £40 over the past year and a bit which (to me) isn’t much considering.

        I do agree that there’s a ton of DLC, but thankful that the major parts tend to be added in with patches.

    • gadalia says:

      The problem I have is the opposite, I bought all the DLC, which focuses heavily on Christian rulers, but I’m still playing as my Emperor of Scandinavia.

    • killias2 says:

      Charlemagne actually changes a lot of the base game. For example, the assassination button is being removed (more emphasis being placed on assassination plots); vassal limits are being implemented (depending on your laws and what-not, you’ll be able to have more or less vassals directly under you); and legalism and demesne limits are being reworked as well. Those are just changes off the top of my head.

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        Bluerps says:

        Not that the DLC won’t be awesome, but a lot of the things you list, maybe even all of them, are actually part of the free patch. :D

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    Bluerps says:

    I’m not sure how big of a feat it is to create a Europe without HRE, if you start in the new start date (or the Old Gods start date). The patch that came with (I think) Rajas of India changed the requirements to create the HRE and it sounds unlikely that the AI manages to do it on its own in most games. Though I haven’t played with that change yet, so I’m not sure – maybe I underestimate the AI.

    I’m also not sure what I’ll play in Charlemagne. One idea is to go back to the roots and start in Ireland, though this time as a tribal character. Another is to play in Galicia and create a Suebi Empire.

    • RedViv says:

      I wonder if Ériu can still be Noob Island in the new start date. It would be odd if they did not include the potentially very bothersome clash over the deep integration of monasteries into the ruling families, or monasteries going to war with each other. That was what made that bizarre mix of old Irish structure and still relatively recent Christianity at that time so interesting. Lots of potential for FUN.

      • darkath says:

        Ireland in the Viking start date ( 867 ) is not noob island anymore. You’re neighbors with blood thirsty vikings scots and anglo-lords, and they all want a slice of the emerald pie.

    • RQH says:

      The AI managed to form HRE in the Old Gods w Rajas playthrough I just did. Took them til around 1100, but they did it.

  4. Anthile says:

    I hope we get Roland as courtier with events relating to gryphon riding, going to the moon and Marathon.

  5. Tkrens says:

    Hah, that ‘Emperor of Lancashire’ video is amazing. What a wonderful time that must have been (For people with money, at least).

  6. MasodikTiasma says:

    “Crusader Kings 2: Emperor of Lancashire” That’s a Let’s Play I would definitely watch!

  7. slerbal says:

    Yikes, looks like I will be starting again on my EUIV mode with those province changes. Ah well, not too bad as I can use the first pass as a test run now that I know what I am doing quite a bit more.

  8. Ace Rimmer says:

    I still have about thirty years left of my first vanilla CKII playthrough before I get to grips with the DLC. The temptation to micromanage everything in the pan-European Empire of Scandinavia makes the endgame slow (but emjoyable) going.

  9. tumbleworld says:

    Poor Tobias Bodlund in the CK2 video looks like the kind of tired, nervous fellow who invariably gets eaten by vampires in Russian movies. :/

    Expansions seem awesome, of course.

  10. RQH says:

    Fantastic. I just finished my 867-1821 Old Gods through EUIV playthrough (with CK2 in Iron Man.) Formed the Roman Empire in that one, but the knowledge that I could have been the Empire of Navarra (where I started) eats at me.

  11. toshiro says:

    I can honestly say that I have never played games like these before. They changed my perception somewhat, of what a game can and cannot be. Although CKII is too dense for me currently, EUIV is thoroughly enjoyable.

  12. Bodylotion says:

    Both look like really good games. I do own Crusader 2 with most DLC’s but since I never really played a game like it, it’s hard for me to get into.

    • Zamn10210 says:

      For all that people say that CK2 is accessible (which I guess it is, compared to some previous Paradox games), it’s still very hard to wrap your head around. I blame the labyrinthine interface.

      EUIV, on the other hand, should be entirely manageable to anyone who’s played a bit of Civ or Total War.

      • dfuse says:

        I sunk 30hours+ in CKII, and I had the feeling I still didn’t understand anything yet. So hard to know what the consequences of your actions will be. For me the game systems, the rules, were totally opaque.
        Now, if you say EUIV is simpler, I’d like to try that one, but has it the same storytelling capacity as CKII? That’s why I desperately want to play it, the betrayals, the murders, etc

        • tu_79 says:

          Yes, I find EUIV more straightforward, you get your country, realize your advantages and expand and expand.

          CKII is more subtle. A great deal is politics. You must learn who is who in your realm, and you must check their relatives, their traits (ambitious is a very bad trait for a vassal) and their claims, for they will give tips about their future behaviour (and check again after a dozen years). Who is a threat, who presents an opportunity (for wedding, for plots) and who can be an ally. You try to get more lands without upsetting other powerful lords, or keep improving your demesne. Try to marry your heir with other potential lands heirs, while keeping your dinasty name, if you cannot marry a direct heir or landowner directly. Sometimes diseases happen, sometimes it is a nasty knife (founded by yourself). Keep always a little money for mercs, it will prevent your enemies to do something rush. As a vassal your fighting is very limited because your resources are sparse so you rely primarily in politics (marriages, plots, assassins). A king/emperor has more options, can change laws, battle more often, conquer new lands/vassals, can forgo a little the weddings, even marry exotic lowborns if you see fit, but also has to keep an eye on ambitious vassals, foreign alliances, and ensure the heir a stable realm to inherit, with as many holdings as possible. Dinasty members usually ally you, and the more titles hold by your dinasty members the more prestige get your dinasty (victory points), but also they use to have a claim on your titles, and they backstab more often than others. This is what make CKII an engaging game even in later game. The more powerful you get, the more powerful your vassals are likely to be. So you always have a challenge.

  13. bstard says:

    My love for EU4 grows with every DLC, that for CK2 declines. Dont think I’ll get the Charles one, but will be waiting in line for the Art of War.