Yes We Khan: CK II Horse Lords Expansion Out Now

I was the first member of my family to go to university. Before my ascent of the ivory towers of academia, the Smiths had known how to work with their hands. No more. Currently, I’m the last of my line and the most impressive thing I’ve handcrafted in my life is a spicy avocado wrap.

If your family tree is in danger of withering, Crusader Kings II’s [official site] new Horse Lords expansion has fresh solutions. While Christian leaders lock children in a tower, you could take a more nurturing approach as a new nomadic clan leader over on the steppes of Central Asia. Send your kids out into the world to make a name for themselves as mercenary warlords. That way they might forge a dynasty rather than fretting over the lack of fresh coriander.

Every new Crusader Kings II expansion contains additions that seem obvious in retrospect and others that I would never have imagined. The larger map that comes with Horse Lords allows for the inclusion of the Silk Road, which can be controlled and raided, temporary fort structures and new rules for the management of nomadic clans. There are also new methods of dealing with underlings – have them become tributaries instead of vassals, so that they simply give you stacks of gold instead of demanding constant attention.

Here’s a summary in Paradox press release form:

• Larger Map: The steppes of Central Asia are now open for you to conquer or develop
• New rules for nomads: Now distinct from other pagan tribes, the Mongol and Turkic nomads draw strength from open pastures and large populations
• Clan management: Struggle alongside rival clans within your nomadic nation, even launching civil wars to keep your khan on top
• Tributaries: Vassals are often a lot of trouble, so why not simply force a conquered enemy to send you a load of gold every now and then?
• The Silk Road: This great historical trading route linked the Mediterranean and the Far East. Exploit its wealth or pillage its trade posts
• Forts: New temporary structures you can build to hold enemy territory while your army marches onward

I haven’t had a chance to look pre-release but I’ve corralled the Horse Lords into my computer and will try to take a look at them later in the week.


  1. Andy_Panthro says:

    Is the whole map available yet? It seems like it can’t be far off!

    Each time I think it might be time to dip my toes back into CK2, they release another expansion and I wonder if I should get that before I begin (then I never actually begin, I’ve only played it properly twice so far and never to the end).

  2. Grizzly says:

    Ever since playing the Broken Crescent mod for Medieval 2 Total War, I’ve yearned for more games that focus on everything east of Jerusalem instead of focusing on everything west of Jerusalem. The influence of the Silk Road on the balance of power in Eurasia is overlooked *all the time*, even though it was the major source of wealth of what we now call the middle east. Everything in CK2 that happens west of Constantinople is basically the petty struggles of barbarian tribes in comparison to what everyone east of Constantinople was doing.

    • thetruegentleman says:

      The problem with trying to do a game for the eastern states is that everyone either wanted to trade with China, or conquer it: control of the silk road was a non-factor for China because the route HAD to end in China in order to function. Thus, the western states had every reason to either go east (to gain the richest trade routes) or take a chance going even further west (which eventually leads to the Americas), while China needed to do no such thing. On top of this, everyone near China was more interested in its very obvious wealth over whatever the hell they could get from going west.

      In other words, the conflicts in the west were very diverse (and thus interesting), and these conflicts led to frequent political and economic changes over a long period of time, whereas China (after its unification) saw briefer conflicts that focused almost entirely on controlling China, with very few political or economic changes otherwise over entire centuries. Thus, any conflict involving the east is essentially locked into those brief conflicts, like the Mongol invasions or the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. We only see this change once the western states forced themselves into the east, at which point any video game wouldn’t be terribly interesting, as the west had a decisive advantage.

      TLDR: the western states had drive that eastern states didn’t, which lends itself toward good games.

      • TheAngriestHobo says:

        Excellent points. It’s worth noting that in the period in question, the Byzantine empire was a key trade node along the Silk Road, but (as far as I know – I never played purple) this isn’t reflected by in-game events. It’s too bad that there’s no “steal Chinese silkworms” event.

        In fact, the Greeks in general were important players along the Silk Road. Very few people know about the Indo-Greek and Greco-Bactrian kingdoms in central Asia, which were one of the legacies of Alexander’s conquests. The latter, in particular, occupied a key position in the center of the route and became extremely wealthy until their conquest by the Yuezhi in the second century AD. They’re also responsible for Zen Buddhism, interestingly enough.

  3. Scott says:

    Absolutely can’t wait for this to be adapted to the Game of Thrones mod for some Dothraki action; historically they’ve had problems properly implementing the Dothraki in a realistic (and fun) way.

  4. anHorse says:

    Gonna give the game another go thanks to this. Might finally get more than 2 years into a CK2 game without forgetting that I was playing it

  5. Girfuy says:

    That was a mighty fine opening paragraph, Adam.

    Anyway, onto the game – I am absolutely impressed that they’re still releasing expansions for this game. Fantastic support from Paradox.

    • teije says:

      I recall reading that another 4-5 expansions are planned for CKII after this. Not to mention an expansion for EUIV came out recently too and several more planned. Kudos to Paradox for extending the life of their grand strategy titles with substantial enhancements. Each one providing hundreds of hours of gaming enjoyment.

      Now the problem is finding a time to finish a game of CKII or EUIV before the next expansion comes out.

      • ThomasHL says:

        Kudos to them for that. Less Kudos for never bundling or price dropping the expansions in a way that allows you get a lot of them cheaply.

        Waiting for a 75% sale, buying 5 of the core DLCs (so skipping several important ones) costs £11.

        Full price they’re charging _£123_ for the game with its DLC bundled. And it doesn’t even include the latest 3 DLCs!
        link to

        • TheAngriestHobo says:

          The only rational (and legal) way to acquire the game with DLCs is through sales. I picked up the whole pack on sale about a year ago, and it still ran me $70 CAD.

          That said, Steam has the collection on sale for $43 CAD atm, so it might be a good time to pick it up.

        • Sic says:

          Yeah, this is my major gripe with it as well.

          I’ve already spent tons of money on it. Can I please get some semblance of closure and get the rest of the DLC for a sum that isn’t totally outrageous? Not to mention, can I purchase said DLC in some sort of package? Having to sort through which of the gazillion DLC for this game I already own is very tedious indeed.

  6. Bydandii says:

    As usual, the release notes are a fun read:
    “Paranoid parents should no longer worry about potential plots against dead children.”

    • Arglebargle says:

      Yeah, that fear should be reserved for the insane parents. After getting rid of pants.

  7. Kenseu says:

    Watch out! The update has some bugs and loading an Ironman save without the expansion will corrupt your file (not sure what happens if you do purchase the expansion pack).

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      Yup, lost a good 60 hours to that Ironman issue you mentioned. Would it have been so hard to put in an in-game warning at the load screen?

    • Scobles says:

      Yeah, mine bugged out by giving me hundreds of thousands gold, but making construction take millennia to complete. And my technology advances inverted/counted backwards. And all AI forces jumped to hundreds of thousands by mine stayed at 2k. And probably a bunch of other things. Glad I wasn’t too far into the campaign and only lost a couple of generations. Turning off auto-updates this very instant.

  8. Arglebargle says:

    Always expect an update to screw up your saved games. I always make a copy of the existing game files before updating. My steam record of play hours would probably be doubled if it included those.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      That only works if you expect the update. For me, Steam boots up when I turn on my computer, automatically installing updates (usually while I’m making coffee). The CK2 page in your Steam library doesn’t include news posts, and even if it did, Paradox didn’t use it to spread the word about how the update would corrupt saves. As far as I can tell, the only way they disseminated the information was by responding to specific questions from users who had gone through similar issues when previous DLCs were released. Not exactly top-notch communication skills, there.