Crusader Kings 3, or CK3, is a real-time strategy game by Paradox Interactive that does things a little differently. For instance, there is no win state in the game. If you manage to conquer the world, no screen will pop up saying “You won!” Instead, the purpose is to create a dynasty and keep it going for as long as possible. This can be a bit frustrating for new players, so I thought I’d share some of the ways you can have a bit more fun from the get go.
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1. Conquer First, Politics Later
Like most real-time strategy games, CK3 wants you to conquer. It’s the easiest way to expand your nation, which in turn gives you more money, more soldiers and more problems. This strategy is probably what most newer players will go for first and it’s very simple.
Conquer as much as you can while your character is alive
Depending on who you choose to play as, or the character you create, it might be tougher than it sounds. While CK3 gives a lot of information, it’s not always clear what determines the outcome of a campaign. Regardless, whether you are building a kingdom or maintaining one, expansion is both fun and strategically sound most of the time.
Make sure your player heir is learning intrigue or diplomacy
You can influence this by checking out the skills of your courtiers and making sure their mentor has the right education traits. Amateurish Plotter, Flamboyant Trickster, Intricate Webweaver and Elusive Shadow mean fairly high intrigue. Whereas Naive Appeaser, Adequate Bargainer, Charismatic Negotiator and Grey Eminence are used for diplomacy. These educations will give your heir a few perks in the associated skill’s upgrade tree, and are generally the most useful for politics, with stewardship and learning being decent substitutes.
Play until your first character dies
After, you’ll notice a few things. Firstly, the kingdom you’ve expanded or built is probably divided among your vassals and children. Secondly, you’re probably in-line for a title or two. This is when the Game of Thrones-esque politics battle begins. Using the skills in the intrigue and diplomacy trees, you can forge alliances with your family members and work together to spread your nations far and wide, or assassinate them and their offspring to claim what’s really yours.
Playing this way gives a lot more to the politics system and gets wildly engaging. You’ll never be more angry than when your idiot son loses half of the kingdom you built, and you’ll never feel smarter than when an elaborate political plan comes together. It gives you the best of both worlds.
2. Be a Baby, Baby!
This next strategy is a bit more vague, but can produce some interesting results. When you start a new game of Crusader Kings 3, there is an option in the bottom left of the screen to create your own ruler. This allows you to design a character, give them whatever traits you desire, set their religion, sexuality and name, but most importantly, decide their age. So, it is very possible to play with your first character being a child. While you can’t decide their education at such a young age, you can decide their future appearance and give them traits to start off with.
There are some drawbacks when it comes to playing as a child. Certain things, like the sway action, aren’t available to you before a certain age. However, the true fun of this strategy is organically receiving traits as you age. After asking someone to mentor you, there are a variety of randomised events that determine which traits your character gets as they grow up. You won’t be nearly as powerful as an adult player-made character, but it adds a certain challenge and excitement when you have no idea what your sexuality, stat boosts or random benefits will be. Rivalries and friendships also tend to form in childhood, giving you immediate political options as you hit adulthood.
For all you perfectionists out there, don’t worry! Not everything in your childhood is randomised. As said above, you can still give your character traits in the creation menu before the game starts, and you can decide which lifestyle they are studying as they grow. Mentorship also plays a role, as you can assign yourself a mentor and inherent some of their traits. The early game might be a bit slower if you go this route, but it does help you get attached to your character and add a fun sense of discovery. You can still fight wars as a child, become betrothed in political marriages and make some decisions regarding your nation.
So, if you want a slightly longer playtime with your first character, why not start them off as a kid?
3. The Ruler in All of Us
The final solution is possibly the vaguest, but can be the most fun. Simply put, roleplay. Don’t look at this as an experience you have to win, but rather as an evolving story. From the very moment you choose or make your ruler, figure out what kind of person you want them to be. If they have the brave trait, how did they get it? If they’re a sneaky schemer instead of a fierce warrior, what’s their master plan? How do they feel about their religion, and would they make a new one once they get enough piety?
Best of all is this route’s versatility. Roleplaying can fit into any playstyle you choose, and deepen the experience of CK3. It could make everything a lot more dramatic, as if people are sending assassins after you instead of Queen Matilde of Munster. It could also make everything a bit funnier, as you try to imagine what was going through your ruler’s head when they kidnapped the son of William the Conqueror and forgot to ransom him for 13 years, starting a holy war.
I have spent hours of time in CK3, totally unaware of the outside world because of this method. You may have noticed I spoke a lot about the feelings you’ll get in certain situations, and roleplaying makes that so much more intense.
- It turns a frustrating moment into a motivation and transforms a good play into a personal victory.
- You grow attached to your rulers, laugh at the mistakes you make and genuinely feel sad when they inevitably die.
- Makes everything a bit more dramatic.
- Makes everything a bit funnier.
Roleplaying is something that can make a game about alternate history into a captivating story of political intrigue. A ballad of powerful armies and unlikely allies. It’s what makes you tell people about that time your kids split your kingdom in half, or when you seduced a king to blackmail him.
Ultimately, the best way to have fun in CK3 is very similar to Minecraft. Go in with a project. Do you want to build an massive empire, starting out as the smallest county in England? Go for it! Do you want to be a literal one year old invading Brittany with the entire military might of the Holy Roman Empire? Have fun! Want to craft a new religion in Iceland that allows both same sex marriage and holy conquest? Who doesn’t? It’s a game where you get to be creative with history, no matter who you’re playing as or where. Try new stuff, get a little weird, and don’t be afraid to start again. Remember, there’s no way to win until you’ve decided you have.
Now, I got to get going. My Hunnic tribe led by Betty White is being invaded by Prussia, and I should probably deal with it.
[wpdiscuz-feedback id=”9wgum7pqvt” question=”What was the craziest thing that happened in one of your CK3 games?” opened=”1″]What were some of the craziest things to happen in your CK3 playthrough? Let me know in the comments below![/wpdiscuz-feedback]