Kingdom of Heaven: Essential Tips for Crusader Kings 2

By Jack Trumbull 22 Jan 2019 0

Stellaris isn’t the only Paradox grand-strategy game to undergo sweeping changes recently. Crusader Kings 2 is the title that originally heralded the dawn of a new era for these types of the games, and it’s seen the most patches and updates.

Holy Fury was the biggest expansion and reform of the game to date, ushering in the 3.0 patch and changing quite a few things, including the crusades themselves. We’ve been playing the game a lot and have put together some quick tips for playing CK2 post-Holy Fury. As this guide gets updated, we’ll be adding more tips and best practice advice, so stay tuned!

This guide is up to date as of the Holy Fury expansion and the 3.0 Patch.

Moral Authority

Moral authority is not new to Holy Fury, but it is an important concept to revisit, particularly for players who like earlier starts to their game. Moral authority is essentially a percentage measure of the “strength” of a religion. The higher a religion’s moral authority, the easier it is to convert other religions, and the more difficult it is to convert characters and provinces of this religion. This is critical to keep in mind when playing as a religion with fewer followers, or when seeking to reform a pagan religion. Pagans will start out with very low moral authority (generally around 30% or below), and can very easily vanish to their reformed neighbors.

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Increasing moral authority can be done in many ways, and some differ from religion to religion. For example, winning a holy war will add 3% to the moral authority of the religion for several years, while allowing heresies to prosper will reduce moral authority by 1% or 5%, depending on the severity of the uprising. Catholic players should be on the lookout for anti-popes, as they reduce the moral authority of the religion by 30%! A divided Catholic church can very easily be overwhelmed by the various Christian heresies, or the neighboring religions.

Reforming a Pagan Religion

Reforming Pagan Religions got a major rework in Holy Fury. Before, a pagan religion post reformation granted a higher base moral authority, as well as the ability to summon holy orders or call holy wars. However, that was about it. Holy Fury gives each religious reformer a chance to specialize their new religion. Several policies are available for reforming religions that give bonuses such as increased defense when fighting on ground your religion owns, or increase the stability of followers’ lands.

To reform a pagan religion, 3 of the 5 holy sites of the religion must be held by the character seeking to reform. The specific locations can be found on the religion tab, as well as the tracker for moral authority. Once the reformer has the 3 holy sites and 50% moral authority (or all 5 holy sites, in which case the moral authority requirement is waived), they can spend 750 piety to begin the reformation. From here, the new tenets of their religion can be customized. Choose carefully, you cannot change your decisions here later!

Bloodlines

Bloodlines are earned by a character for performing certain feats, or are awarded to particularly significant historical characters, such as Ragnar Lodbrok or William the Conqueror. They award positive opinion from characters that are from the culture of the character that spawned the bloodline, as well as unique bonuses, such as additional personal combat prowess or the ability to legitimize bastards with no penalty (thanks, William).

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Bloodlines have specific rules regarding inheritance and this will differ from bloodline to bloodline. Some are only passed from fathers, while others are only passed from mothers, while a lucky few are passed from either parent. Players who enjoy planning ahead marriages to create a dynasty of superheroes by seeking to wed other characters with bloodlines. Be warned though, pursuing bloodlines too rabidly can lead to unfortunate side-effects as a result of characters inbreeding.

Warrior Lodges!

Warrior Lodges are one of most flavorful features to be added in Holy Fury. Pagans can join a unique society (one for each pagan religion) and be given new quests and events, such as raiding a specific county, or dueling another character. These quests can have great rewards, and a savvy member of a warrior lodge can use their ill-gotten gains to quickly build up their holdings’ infrastructure. Strong holdings are the ultimate key to success in Crusader Kings 2, and pagan rulers with enough cash to throw around can easily find themselves to be the new “big kid on the block.”

Other notable features of warrior lodges include the potential to spawn a bloodline, certain “powers” granted based on your rank in the lodge, and perhaps most importantly, cosmetic changes to your character’s portrait. You will feel the part of a hardy warrior much more when your character is cloaked in a bear skin!

Retinues

Retinues are another old feature, but one that is worth revisiting. In contrast to levies, which must be raised from specific holdings, retinues are an early form of a standing army. They are useful not only for their addition to the overall manpower of a demesne, but they can be used to amplify the troop composition of an army. For example, Norse and Saxon players have access to housecarls, a superior form of heavy infantry. Retinues allow characters to pick specific units to build, such as a unit of all heavy infantry housecarls, or conversely, a unit of archers and light infantry, who will make the army stronger in skirmish phases of battles. Every retinue also comes with a built-in bonus for that specific unit, such as increased defense or heightened morale to reflect their nature as trained soldiers.

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Retinues can be recruited from the military tab, and there you can find the various types of units you can recruit, and the associated costs with each unit. A demesne can only support so many men in a standing retinue at a time, and the “weight” of each retinue unit can be found here. It is generally “less expensive” to field units of light infantry and archers, but they are less effective in pitched battles as the game progresses. Retinue caps can be increased by increasing the size of the demesne, by researching military organization, and by building specific buildings in castles.

Crusades

Crusades got a rework in the patch that accompanied the release of Holy Fury. Now, when a crusade is called, there is a 2 year preparation window, when both the religion on the attacking side of the crusade and the religion on the defending side of the crusade are notified, and are asked to pledge to join their respective side. During the 2 years, characters may back out of their commitment, but will take a large opinion penalty with their religious head. After the 2 years are up, both sides will immediately enter into a war with each other. Be aware that armies from all over can show up to participate in a crusade, and the 4,000-man stack you are so proud of can be wiped out by the sudden appearance of a 10,000 killer army.

After the war, if the attacking side is victorious, various monies and territories are delegated out to participating characters based on how much they contributed to the war effort through fighting, seizing land, etc. A character may identify another character of their dynasty that is unlanded as the beneficiary of their spoils, forgoing any rewards for themselves but potentially strengthening the dynasty as a whole.

Crusader states can also be formed if an attacker took all the titles in a duchy that is NOT the war target. A character may form this state after the war for the price of 500 prestige and 300 gold. The state may then be incorporated into the realm of the character who formed it, they may abdicate their throne to rule the new state, or they may award it to their crusade beneficiary. Successful crusades can have a chaotic impact on the map!

Got any advice of your own to share? Let us know in the comments!

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