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Archive for Crusader Kings Series 1

Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Excluded, Games

The Promised Land RELOADED #7

Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart Five, and Part Six.


In our previous episode, King Berta the Lecher had narrowly circumvented a succession crisis created by his eldest daughter Senalat and her husband Iyasu.  Murder was involved.

Semien (my home county, rather than the country as a whole) is doing great!  I get the chance to add another holding slot to it.  This is very expensive but worth is, since I can build a castle there.  I already have three castles in Semien, and each provides a bunch of troops.  The key is that one ability of your marshal is to increase troop strength in a specific county, so stacking castles in your capital helps a lot!

Senalat still hates me, but has had no more children.  With two of my sons in line of succession ahead of her things look good.

Unexpectedly, her husband inherits the Duchy of Wag!  

This gives me a chance to end the threat for good.  Previously I was having trouble assassinating Iyasu because he was well-liked by everybody at his court.  As Duke, he has a much larger court and a bunch of annoyed vassals who will help with the plot!

Although this is always a risk.  Stupid mayors.

Even King Berta’s legendary sex appeal can’t overcome the negative opinion from attempted murder, alas.

While I’m waiting for my assassins to do their work, I grab one of the two remaining counties at the mouth of the Nile.  I feel a little bit bad about fighting “Halil the Affable”, actually, he seems like a nice guy.

Finding myself in need of a new steward, I discover everyone in the kingdom sucks.  Fortunately, there are now at least a few Jews kicking around Europe (they get generated as visitors from time to time) so I can go looking for one who’d make a good steward and entice him to my court with a bag of gold.

Zula is some kind of weird mystic I picked up in the desert.  His diagnostic skills aren’t great.

Coughing is rabies, headache is measles.  Got it.

So glad I hired Zula…

Doc, here’s a hint.  It’s always cancer.

Zula manages to stave off King Berta’s cancer with some kind of magic red powder.  Also, what kind of idiot servant randomly tastes the king’s medicine?

The last Nile county had been disputed for a while.  Now that the war is resolved, I can press my own claim on it!

It’s a pretty straightforward war, since I have a forged claim instead of having to declare holy war and risk intervention by others.

One of my vassals jumps the gun and declare a holy war for the Sinai, which is mostly owned by a Spanish sultan.  Good luck, I guess?

Sure, we’ll give the herbwoman a shot.

My assassins, annoyingly, have not had a chance at Duke Iyasu.  However, my spymaster discovers he is trying to kill me, which is almost as good.  It gives me the chance to arrest him without everyone hating me for it.  As usual, that fails, but his rebellion is going to be short-lived.

The old herbwoman died soon after taking office, which frankly is not much of a testament to her skill.  I installed the most learned man in the land, who happed to be some random courtier.  He seems a dab hand with the cow dung.

Finally, Duke Iyasu is in prison, where there’s no danger of his fathering non-dynasty sons.  

In addition to cancer, at 59 Berta is sliding into senility.

With the king not long for this world and the war for the Nile finally finished, I have a quandary.  I have a claim on the nearest province of the Sinai, but if I don’t at least attempt to fight for it, it will end when the king dies.  But the Veremondo Sultanate is embroiled in several wars that will make taking them on somewhat difficult.  I decide to go for it and declare for my claim.

Very nice.  That’s exactly the trait I want in an heir, allowing me to have lots of land in my personal demense.

Once again, I enlist strange women into my council because the duke currently doing the job is mediocre.  Welcome Lady Zenia!

The problem with fighting the Veremondo Sultanate is that their Sinai territories are already occupied by enemies, and their main territories are all the way over in Spain.  However!  I have recently acquired the mouth of the Nile, which means I now have Mediterranean ports!  (The Suez Canal not being built for another thousand years.)

Whatever the sultan was expecting from the war, I bet it wasn’t seven thousand troops suddenly landing in his capital.  No one expects the Spanish Abyssinian Inquisition!

A couple of revolt armies crop up back home, but it’s nothing my vassal troops can’t handle.

At this somewhat inconvenient juncture, with most of his army in Spain, King Berta dies.  Long live King Aman!

King Aman is shockingly competent compared to his father, with excellent stewardship and solid martial prowess.  I immediately set him to focus on having children to establish a succession.

Aman’s wife Makeda is no slouch, either, and tops the list of potential stewards.  (With my gradual increase in the status of women, they can now be stewards, which helps expand the talent pool.)

Unfortunately Makeda almost immediately dies of cancer.  Aman goes looking for wife number two.  In the meantime, the war is coming along, with the peasant revolts settled.  

Then things get sticky.  Several more nations join in, and I lose a battle or two.  More ominously, a large coalition of my vassals is looking rebellious.  I’m still ahead, on the balance, so the sultan agrees to a compromise peace.  My army from Spain sets sail back to Semien.

Not quickly enough, however.  Huge chunks of Semien rise in revolution against the new king.  I raise my vassal troops and hire all available mercenaries.

The war is a mess, with several large rebel armies forming.  My captains on the way back from Spain begin blowing into the sails to make the ships go faster.

My main army finally returns, and I begin the arduous task of bringing the rebels to heel.  My older sister Senalat finally, finally dies, after about twenty years with syphilis.  

I have the upper hand, but the war is still raging and it’s draining my strength.  More importantly, it’s draining my treasury — I’m out of money after paying mercenaries for so long.  It pains me to let rebellion go unpunished, but I agree to a white peace and everyone goes home status quo ante.  At least the realm is at peace again, and I can wait a while for my armies to rebuild.

Are there no just like, normal doctors?  Why are we reduced to ransacking the prisons?

Peace is building up my treasury again while my armies recover.  Aman hasn’t managed to have any sons yet, but his succession looks good — he’s got a brother with a son, and sisters in safe marriages.  So I’d like to have a direct heir, but it’s not urgent.

My spymaster dies and everyone in my kingdom is terrible, so once again I go abroad with a bag of cat treats money.  Welcome, Shlomo of Philippopolis!  I marry him to a half-sister to keep him loyal.

My chancellor having forged a claim, I go to war for Sinai, held by one of the smaller Muslim states.

Note, at this point, that my bank balance (top right, the first number) is 974 gold.  I make about 40 a month, and consider 2,000 in savings to be huge.  150 gold is literally a king’s ransom.  600-700 buys a new castle.

My vassal Kafnai, Count of Assab, dies without a valid heir.  As king, I’m the default heir for everyone with land, so I inherit his county.  More importantly, I inherit his treasury, and at this point I discover that Kafnai, aka best vassal ever, had saved up something like twelve thousand gold for a rainy day.  This is like when the uncle you didn’t know you had dies and leaves you a mansion!

I immediately start spending Kafnai’s gold on upgrading my castles.  I get the chance to put a sixth castle in Semien and deck it out with all the trimmings; that one county alone now produces more than 7,000 troops.  I also get myself some retinues, which are permanent paid troops.  Woo!

With Sinai subdued, the Veremondo Sultanate is taken over by a seven-year-old, so I renew my war for Farama.  This time there’s no third parties to interfere and I don’t need to ship my army overseas.

The only fly in the ointment is that Aman has been unable to have any legitimate children.  He has two bastard daughters, and as a result his actual wife is increasingly unhappy with him.

With Farama secured, it’s time to move into the Holy Land proper.  The Hajurid emirate is conveniently also ruled by a kid, so I declare holy war for the duchy of Ascalon, the biggest chunk of his country.  This is going to bring in every neighbor with an army, so I raise all the troops I can.

The battles commence!  As expected, a lot of countries join in.  Fortunately they don’t work together well, so I’m able to fight them piecemeal a lot of the time.

Shlomo, meanwhile, has been doing sterling work as spymaster, and hardly any nobles are conspiring against me at all.

Finally!  It turns out to be a girl, but at least it’s a direct heir of some kind.

The war for Ascalon is long and fierce.  Most of my wars feature one or two big battles, this one has more than a dozen as I repeatedly smash the enemy armies and am occasionally caught off-guard.  A revolt army is kicking up trouble, too, but I ignore them until I’ve got this locked down.

Finally, Ascalon is mine!  Kind of ugly that it’s not connected to my other territory but we’ll clean it up later.  That revolt army still needs to be put down, too.

Also, I’ve acquired a male heir!  My lover had a son, who I legitimized.  This was the last straw as far as my wife is concerned, though, and now she hates me.  But we know how to deal with that problem…

I crush the peasant rebellion, as my old rival / UST partner Duke Iyasu finally dies in prison.

My wife, who is now Duchess of Wag in her own right, is not very popular there.  Her own spymaster is willing to join the plot against her, for a consideration.  This is why you keep your spymaster happy, folks.

Classic spouse-murder technique!

For once it goes off without a hitch, though.  Time to find a new wife to get some backup sons.  Pity she won’t be as good a steward as Zauditu, though.

Glancing up at the map, France and their Aragonese allies have almost completed retaking Spain from the Muslims, while the Byzantines expand northward and Italy creates a North African coastal empire.

I’m waiting out a few truces to press my war in the Holy Land when the Caliph throws down on me again.  I’m pretty confident this time, since my armies are in good shape.  Bring it on!

At this point, supplies become an issue in warfare.  Each county can support a certain number of troops — 40k or more for prosperous counties, down to 4k or less for barren ones.  Putting more troops then that in a county means you take attrition losses as long as you stay there.  This means that once your armies get above a certain size, you have to split them up or eat the country bare.  But splitting up also means tactical opportunities for the enemy!  (The old military maxim of “March divided, fight concentrated” definitely applies here.)  It’s tricky to manage.

Quite a few countries has responded to the Caliph’s call…

The war goes really badly for a while, for reasons that I don’t fully understand.  I keep losing battles that I ought to win, on the numbers — maybe there’s some really awesome commanders on the other side?  Note here that one of my defeated armies has chosen to flee all the way up the coast to Ascalon.

Fortunately, I have a considerable advantage in numbers and coordination.  In spite of some freakish defeats, I’m able to retain control of Arabia, and eventually convince the Sunnis to back off.  It costs me more than I would like in terms of troops, though.

I crush a Samaritan revolt on the way back home …

…and then another one literally days later.  You’d think they’d have learned their lesson the first time.

A quick false-claim war for Eilat connects my Holy Land territories to the rest of Semien!  Progress.

Count Berta, who I entrusted with Ascalon, jumps the gun a bit and launches a holy war for Jerusalem.  I’d be fine with that if he won, but the computer isn’t very good at warring.  At least he’ll deplete enemy troops, I guess.

One of my half-sisters is married to someone named “Oromo Zumbo”, which is pretty awesome.  Shlomo, my faithful spymaster, sadly dies of old age.

Once the Count of Ascalon fails, I decide the time has come to launch my own war for Jerusalem.  Here we go!

Uh.  This is unexpected.  I’m in mid-war when this arrives — that fellow there is the Emperor of Byzantium, who apparently has decided that he wants Ascalon in the name of God.  Things just got very exciting.

Suddenly the holy land is a mass of marching armies, including Count Berta’s, who takes this chance to declare another, unrelated holy war.  I concentrate on fighting the Muslims, stalling the Byzantines as best I can.  Fortunately, Byzantine armies take some time to arrive by land or trickle in by sea.

The armies of the Sunni states are mostly smashed, while the Byzantines retreat and then return with fresh troops.  That’s fine — I need to take Jerusalem to win, but only have to hang on to Ascalon.

I have another son, too, with my new wife!  That’s my succession more or less sorted.

After quite a few big battles, Jerusalem is finally mine!

There’s still some big Byzantine armies kicking around though.  I decide to fight the war to the finish, since unlike in a Crusade/Jihad, the Empire will owe me a huge reparations bill if I win.

Gebereal, my legitimized-bastard son, takes after his father and becomes an awesome steward.  I quickly marry him to get the next generation going.

Both founding Israel and rebuilding the Temple require that Jerusalem be Jewish, so I deploy the Court Rabbi at once to begin conversion.

Gebereal obliges almost immediately with a grandson, who he names after me.  Aww.

(Unrelated, but one feature this game really lacks is a “nag children about grandchildren” button.)

I’m forced to invade Byzantine territory, losing quite a few men in the desert, in order to bring this war to a quicker conclusion.

When my Court Rabbi dies, I go abroad looking for a really good one.  I end up with Afework the Blind, who had his eyes gouged out somewhere along the way but still debates a mean Torah.

Okay, no.  I draw the line at giving random witches vials of my blood.  You do not get to be my doctor.

In fact, when I look at people I’ve already got, Afework the Blind has the right traits!  A blind doctor seems a little … odd, but we’ll see how it goes.

The Byzantines finally give up when I start taking their castles, and agree to a thousand gold indemnity.  Very nice.

Soon afterward, now-independent El-Arish falls.  Semien now extends mostly unbroken from Jerusalem to the Horn of Africa.

Okay, Afework, time to show off that high learning.

I mean, I guess what should I have expected from the Court Rabbi?

Although he also dabbles in the occult.

Well, he was right about the cancer.  What now?

Literally in the midst of his cancer treatment, Aman is hunting the White Lion.  That’s dedication!

So Afework sent me on some kind of mystical drug-fueled vision quest…

Which actually cured my cancer!  And also drove me completely insane.  Hmm.

Another quick war adds Acre to my Holy Land territories.  Soon, all the kingdom of Jerusalem will be under my control, and then we only need to convert the city itself to Judaism to create Israel!  But there’s more work to be done after that…

Current Year: 1063 AD.  Current Status: Stark Raving Mad.



Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Excluded, Games

The Promised Land RELOADED #6

Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Four, and Part Five.

Back into the fray!  This bit coming up turned out to be particularly war-filled.

Somewhat appropriately, my Marshal kicks things off by inventing the tank about a thousand years too early.  Sadly you can’t actually use it.

Our liege for the moment in King Mamo, and his vassals are causing trouble.  I send my spymaster to get dirt on them and convince them to stay out of factions.  This one is stressed, insane, has syphilis, and homosexual, so I imagine it’s pretty easy.

King Mamo becomes brave via thought experiments.

I start the war against the Yusufids, but Caliph Abdul decides to join his co-religionists.  Fortunately he has a lot of other things on his mind, though.

In the meantime, King Mamo grooms his eldest son Tengene to be heir.  His stats are progressing nicely for age 12!

My half-sister wants to be on the council.  A woman!  Scandalous!  I would happily support her, but she’s actually not a great choice for steward compared to the guy I already have.  A sad day for women’s rights.  (But more on that subject later…)

The Yusufids swear loyalty to the Muhallabids, bring them into the war.  Unfortunately for the Yusufids, they basically don’t show up.

Another victory!  The borders of Semien march north down the Nile.

Not wasting time, I go for Aydhab, the last county south of the Tujibids.  It’s de jure part of the duchy I just took over, so I have a reason for war that won’t drag a bunch of neighboring countries in.

Prince Tengene turned out to be pretty smart, and he’s doing a good job as my spymaster.

Meanwhile, King Mamo continues his pursuit of the legendary White Lion and decides he’s found his purpose in life.

Strange things are afoot in the wider world.  France is slowly taking over Spain, and the Byzantines are working their way back into Italy.

A random Khagan from the middle of Russia wants his son Crazy-Eyes to marry my daughter.  He has an impressive number of umlauts, but I say no.  He proceeds to offer every single one of his fourteen sons.  There’s no “Take a hint, dude, it’s not which son that’s the problem” button.

Then, disaster!  Losing the war, the Shehzadids spitefully decide to murder Prince Tengene, who apparently was not that great a spymaster after all.  I have two other sons, but they’re already ruling their own territories, which makes them much harder to groom.  Grr.

It’s a little late.

As the war against the Shedazids drags on, my angry vassals get together and demand more power.  I’m not about to grant that, of course, so they take up arms.

Fortunately it doesn’t last.  In the first siege I capture the son of the leader of the revolt, and he submits almost immediately.  Everyone goes to jail and loses some titles, to be redistributed to more loyal followers.

Soon after, the Shehzadids concede the point, and my borders inch farther north.  The path to the next target, the Tujibids, is clear, though I need to spend some time rebuilding my strength first.

?I will never be satisfied!?

Sometimes, all you need to do to get someone to stop trying to overthrow you is ask nicely.

With the army back up to strength, I declare war on the one-handed Emir of the Tujibids.

Eh, why not?  He literally can’t be worse than some of the other guys.

By the way, if you’re wondering what happened to Jahzara the Demon-Spawn from last time, she apparently became a Jainist monk in eastern India.  Waste of great military talent.

Dude, seriously.


Prince Berta, now heir to the throne, follows his dead brother’s footsteps both in the “becoming spymaster” department and in the “figuring out which vassals are gay” department.

The Tujibids are duly crushed.  Now we’re getting somewhere!  It presents a new problem, though — the patchwork of little countries is actually much harder to take over, since you have to declare war on them one-by-one.  (You can do it simultaneously, but most of them aren’t actually tiny countries but small outposts of larger countries, so I don’t want to fight them all at once.)  The mess left over from the Arabian Empire is still getting sorted out.

At this point I manage to outsmart myself, or alternately allow roleplaying to coax me into poor decisions.  I’ve been working on increasing the status of women during this playthrough (with the ultimate goal of having female rulers) so moving to Agnatic-Cognatic succession seems like the logical stuff.  For those of you unfamiliar with obscure inheritance terminology (shame on you!) this means that instead of only males being in the line of succession, women can inherit if there are no male children.  (But males always have precedence.  This seems to make sense, because my eldest son has three daughters.

Note that in the new line of succession, Berta’s daughters come before their uncles and great-uncles.  However, I’d forgotten about a wrinkle that would cause much trouble later, which I’ll explain when we get there.

A consequence of expanding quickly is that people can form alliances against you.  Sometimes this is bad, other times it just means a bunch of wimpy countries joining together and remaining wimpy.  This, fortunately, is one of the latter times.

Jeez, I can’t see how that could go wrong…

Since I still have a truce with the Tujibids, next on King Mamo’s hit list is Banu Judham.  A very complicated war ensues, in which another sultanate has also declared a holy war for the same territory, resulting in a sort of race to knock down the Banu Judham castles.

Prince Berta is a shockingly good spymaster.  He seems to dig up dirt on everyone, almost immediately, and as a result my vassals are more obedient then they have been in years.  

I realize that I’ve managed to marry one of my daughters to her first cousin.  Shelbyville here we come.

Here we go again.

But King Mamo the Hunter isn’t going to let mere pain stand between him and the White Lion!

Again.  Could be worse!

Hmm.  Ideas?

“First, do no harm,” right?

Finally he resorts to massage.

When that fails, though, it’s back to good old scab-powder, which works its usual magic.

Look at this mess.  (Counties with cross-hatches are occupied by invaders.)  Every castle within a hundred miles is a smoking ruin as four or five different wars play out simultaneously.

Finally things calm down a bit.  I end up with Alexandria, on the Mediterranean, but with someone else holding all its component baronies.  At least I get Cairo too, pushing ever farther northward.  I’m still not sure why I didn’t get the other Banu Judham county…

With the fall of Cairo (I think) the Caliph decides enough is enough.  This bodes poorly.  A jihad (in the game, this is historically inaccurate) is the equivalent of a crusade, which attacks a kingdom-sized chunk of land and invites all co-religionists to come help out and get piety rewards.  Hopefully they’ll target some Christians and not me.

When my cancer plays up again, I go back to Tengene, and this time he gives me some mercury!  What a good doctor.

A strange woman with a martial score of 20 shows at my court.  This time, I’m happy to grant her request, since my current marshal is pretty terrible.  Welcome, Lady Tavavich!

Now Duchess Falashina wants to be marshal, too!  Unfortunately she’s pretty bad at it, though still better than the previous guy.  I’ll keep Lady Tavavich.

A quick war with the Tujibids after the truce expires restore contiguity to Semien.  I set my chancellor to work forging claims on the counties by the mouth of the Nile, so I can take them without starting massive religious wars.  The only power that’s REALLY frightening, though, is the Sadiqids of Persia, who are fortunately Shia and won’t participate in the jihads.

King Mamo the Hunter finally succumbs to cancer after a long and glorious reign.  Long live King Berta!

Now we have problems.  King Berta is excellent at intrigue and has literally devoted his life to seducing women, although he somehow has only one bastard son.  He completely sucks at war, though, which is disappointing.  

More alarming, though, I now realize the consequences of my earlier decision.  Since Berta has only legitimate daughters, his heir is the eldest, Princess Senalat.  Unfortunately, she’s already married, and to someone not of my dynasty!  The problem I alluded to earlier with Agnatic-Cognatic succesion is this — if a daughter seems likely to inherit, then you need to either marry her to a dynasty member or do a matrilineal marriage, which will make her children dynasty members.  Unfortunately, since Berta wasn’t heir and had land of his own, I couldn’t control her marriage, so now if she has a son he will not be of the dynasty and inherit everything!  This would be game over.

I immediately start taking steps to deal with this problem.  Step one is to legitimize Loua, my bastard son.  As a male, this puts him ahead of Senalat in the succession.  That still doesn’t make me comfortable, though — he’s young, and if anything happens to him before he breeds, we’re in trouble again.

Unfortunately, doing this causes my wife to hate me.  (She actually hated me already for being a horrible lecher.)  Since that means she’s probably willing to help kill me, and it reduces the potential for more sons, she has to go.  Send for the assassins!

Hmm, wait.  Maybe not?

Nope.  Definitely assassins.  Though there’s some weird math going on here for those numbers to add up to -100.  I think some things trump others.

Keren was apparently very unpopular, so it’s not long before I get my chance.  Manure explosions, the old stand-by.

Searching for potential new wives, I find one who is awesome at stewardship (the key skill for wives) and is an old flame of King Berta’s who still loves him!  Welcome Queen Kelile.

King Berta just can’t stop falling in love!

On the war front, I’ve managed to grab one additional county in the north.  But I’m still more worried about succession.  Senalat’s younger sister are both married safely (to dynasty members or matrilineally) so even if Loua dies their sons will be okay to inherit.  Killing Senalat would be one solution, but you’re not allowed to assassinate your children, and simply imprisoning and executing her would make everyone in the country hate me as a tyrant.  Instead, I try to assassinate her husband.  If he dies, then I can remarry her safely or leave her as a widow.

Unfortunately, the inconvenient husband is very popular and difficult to assassinate.  I try to invite him to my court, but he’s happily married and refuses to come.  This is in spite of his massively favorable opinion of King Berta, which turns out to be because he’s gay and super-attracted to Berta’s wiles!  Unfortunately, Berta doesn’t have the option to take one for the team and seduce him, which leaves us at a stalemate.

I’ve been holding off on more wars, expecting a major revolt from my vassals at some point.  Unfortunately King Berta can’t act as his own spymaster.  It finally arrives, with the dukes once again demanding increased power.

Fortunately, I have a pretty good army ready, King Berta’s crappy military stats notwithstanding.  The revolt is led by the Duke of Makuria, so I spend most of the war laying siege to his castles and crushing his armies.  In the meantime, my bastard son Prince Loua has turned sixteen and gotten married.  If he can just sire some sons, we’ll get through this yet…

Oh, dear.  I’m still hip-deep in the rebellion with the Caliph drops the entire Sunni world on my head.  I quickly hire all the mercenaries I get my hands on and set about trying to finish things with the rebels, while Muslim armies lay siege to the castles in the north of Semien.

And, of course, it never rains but it pours.  Prince Loua dies of pneumonia without offspring, which makes Senalat heir again.  Once again the sword of Damocles is poised over my dynasty!

Queen Kelile comes through with a son, which removes the immediate threat.  But his older sisters are almost certainly going to plot to kill him.

A Sunni uprising chooses the absolute best time to join the fray.

Finally, my main force catches up to the rebel army and smashes it, which spells the end for the rebellion.  Once again, half my dukes go to jail, although Makuria promptly dies and leaves everything to his son.  I immediately turn the army north to fight off the hordes who are smashing castles left and right.

There’s quite a lot of them, but fortunately Semien is rather large at this point.  Since they’re attacking all of Egypt, it takes a long time to build up enough victories that I’d have to concede, so I have time to go liberate my castles.

As the march goes on, beloved high-stewardship Kelile gets dysentery.  

Some large battles result, but thing pretty much go my way.  Fortunately, being attacked by infidels makes all your vassals suddenly very friendly, which in turn makes them send more troops.  Soon the main Sunni armies are crushed and driven off my soil.  

Unfortunately, the queen dies.  I quickly pick a new wife, still eager to get some backup sons in play.

King Berta will literally just fall in love with anyone.  Which is appropriate, I guess, for someone nicknamed “the Lecher”.

Unfortunately, Nyala produces a daughter, which doesn’t help the situation.

After their armies are smashed, the Caliph agrees to a white peace.  (Peace with no victor.)  I could have pressed for total victory, but the rewards for winning against a jihad are actually pretty small, so this is fine with me.  Egypt is safe, for now.

Nyala gives birth to another daughter.  In the meantime Senalat has given birth to a son, Teka, who is now second in line for the throne after Kelile’s son Aman.  This calls for drastic measures.

That takes care of that problem.  

The Duke of Makuria, apparently have not paid any attention to what happened to his father, refuses to stop plotting against me, rebels, and ends up in prison.

Senalat’s second child is a daughter, which is no threat, and she now has syphilis.  Hopefully this means she’ll die quickly.  Still nobody wants to help me kill her husband, who is still in love with me, although somewhat peeved I murdered his son.

Finally, Nyala has a son (and another daughter at the same time!).  There’s no guarantees until Senalat dies, but I’m probably out of the woods.  Note to self — watch daughters’ marriages better!

Makuria is subdued, again, and another county in the north falls.  Soon I’ll have completed my conquest of the Nile and start moving on my ultimate goal, the Kingdom of Israel.

Current Year: 1017 AD.  Current Status: Relieved.



Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Excluded, Games

The Promised Land RELOADED #5

Part OnePart TwoPart Three, and Part Four.

Before the commercial break, incompetent King Fethee was looking avariciously at the lands of his neighbors after the breakup of the mighty Abassid Empire.

As mentioned, Fethee kind of sucks.  A so-so stat is around 10; 3 martial and 5 stewardship is pretty bad.  He’s also slothful, greedy, and somehow both deceitful and trusting.  And he murdered kin at some point and is thus universally reviled.

Possibly for this reason, many of his most powerful vassals are now in prison.  Actually executing people is seen as tyrannical, so my preferred strategy is to throw them in the oubliette and hope they die of their own accord, which they usually do.

First step is to clean up my backfield, so I declare a holy war for Asosa.  This turns out to be a somewhat bad move, as the ruler there holds territory elsewhere, and is able to convince neighboring states to THAT territory to come join the war.  Oops.  (This is the problem with holy wars — the immediate neighbors of your target tend to join in if they’re the same religion.)

I’m forced to summon my vassals and hire mercenaries to fight the war.  (For those who don’t play: you have your personal troops, who cost money, mercenaries, who cost a lot of money, and vassal troops, which are free but cause a steady drop in vassal opinion of you the longer they’re raised, unless you’re defending the realm against infidels.  Generally I prefer to fight wars with personal troops alone, if I can help it, and save vassal troops for emergencies.)

In the meantime, Jahzara is apparently the spawn of Satan.  What do you think, Rabbi?

Oh good, glad to know that’s over and done with.  Definitely won’t come back to haunt me.

Unexplained servants is a perfectly normal thing right?

Fethee’s vassals are not fond of him.  The Duke of Berbera in particular is mad because I may have imprisoned one of his sons, who to be fair did rise in revolt.  They get along because they’re both drunkards though!

This war turns out to be way longer and more expensive then it ought to be, and I actually come close to losing.  Fortunately, having a fleet on the Red Sea lets me switch my armies between Semien and enemy territory quickly.

My court doctors continue their reign of terror.  Although the toad thing actually seems to work.

Meanwhile Jahzara, the perfectly normal child, is killing her sisters in their dreams.  Nothing to worry about, right rabbi?  Most girls go through that phase I’m sure.

The war comes down to a final battle in which I’m pretty badly outnumbered.  Usually this is the same as losing — CK2 has a highly complex combat system with different troop types, etc, but 99% of the time the result is “the guy with more soldiers wins”.  In this case, I managed to stack the “mountainous terrain” defense bonus with the “defending river crossing” bonus and juuuuust pull out a win against a larger force.  (Lucky!)

The aforementioned Duke of Berbera has become a Miaphysite, so I’m forced to declare war to strip him of his titles.  But King Fethee has other things on his mind.


Somehow this costs only one piety?

I guess she got what she was looking for.

I’m still finishing with Berbera when one of the Muslim nations to the north declares a holy war for Oman.  Busy busy.

Aaaand Jahzara continues her reign of terror.  Fortunately, because I’m still under seniority succession, my immediate family is not all that important, but this is still disturbing!  The rabbis still insist nothing is wrong.

With Berbera finally in prison where he belongs, I can devote my time to crushing the Abd Al-Qays attack.  Winning this war gives me a nice chunk of gold as reparation payment, even if it doesn’t grant any territory.

Peace again, finally!  But not for long.  That isolated county in the middle of my territory needs to be mine.

Okay, rabbi, I’m convinced there’s something wrong here.  I’m running out of kids.

I am surrounded by nonsense!

Given King Fethee’s dissolute lifestyle, this is hardly a surprise, but I choose to blame Jahzara instead of my drinking habit.

It worked for cancer, shouldn’t it work for gout?

Apparently not.  Long live King Tengene II!

King Tengene II is a bit better than King Fethee at warring, but even worse at stewardship.  His chancellor having forged a claim on Matamma, the wayward province, he declares war to get it.

In the meantime, he searches for a physician.  This one seems a trustworthy sort!

Irritatingly, a failed rebellion cancels my war and forces me to begin again.  Fortunately the Shehzadids are pretty weak, and since I have a (fake) claim instead of a holy war other countries won’t come help them.

Somewhere along the way, King Tengene lost his sense of justice.

Jahzara is finally of age!  I can get her out of the house.

Except HOLY CRAP, look at those stats!!  She’s literally the best everything in the kingdom, including by far the best general.  Notably, she has the hereditary “genius” trait, possibly the best in the game.  If I could, I’d make her king immediately, but under my current laws women can only be Spymaster.  And I can’t make her spymaster (even if she’d be awesome at it) because she hates me, and having a spymaster that hates you is somewhat suicidal.

As a compromise, I marry her to a younger member of my dynasty, hoping to breed some sons with good traits.

Dum de dum, not suspicious at all.

Okay, now she’s trying to kill me in a more conventional manner, inasmuch as manure bombs are conventional.  Unfortunately, she’s got to go.  Guards!

Typical.  (Now I want to write stories about the possessed hyper-competent demonspawn’s adventures in medieval India.)

The war for Matamma ends satisfactorily.  At peace once more, it’s time to address an ongoing problems: succession law.  The default early succession, gavelkind, is pretty bad — titles are split up among heirs, leading to a fractured demense.  I changed to seniority as soon as possible, which is better — the oldest dynasty member inherits, meaning titles stay together.  But it has some disadvantages.  You get new kings without getting to manage their upbringing, so they often have bad stats.  You also get a lot of assassinations, since everyone in the dynasty is in the line of succession.

What I’d like to do is switch to primogeniture, where the oldest son gets everything.  Now that my dynasty is big enough that there are enough branches to make sure it won’t die out entirely, this will keep things stable.  But switching is annoying — I’ve finally gotten the legal development to allow it (Late Feudal Administration) but I need to reign for ten years, have all my vassals at peace, and most importantly have them all like me.  This is tough.

For starters, some of them are in prison, and they’re obvious not happy.  I quickly have the Duke of Wag murdered.  Eremias, in spite of being in the oubliette for 26 years, is still alive, and popular enough that nobody wants to help murder him!  Boo.  I have him tortured to speed him along his way.

Having him tortured didn’t make him like me, but he did finally die.  I get to work on my other vassals via more conventional means, like bribery.

The wider world is still a mess, although the Sadiqid Empire is becoming quite powerful.  Francia also seems to be working its way into Spain.

Finally, after nearly ten years of peace and prosperity, everyone likes me enough!  From now on Tengene II’s sons, grandsons, etc will inherit the throne.  Hopefully this will cut down on assassinations!

To celebrate, I declare holy war on Alodia, to the west of Semien.

They are quickly subdued, and the Fadlids are next in line.  Most of the nearby Muslim countries are too distracted to join in the fighting.

swear it runs in the family!

Meanwhile, in France…

Being possessed was apparently not kind to Tengene’s health.  Long live King Mamo, his son!

Mamo caught the flu but shockingly managed to survive the attentions of his doctors.  The war concludes, and Semien is bigger than ever.  The Yusufids are next, clearly, and then things will get trickier as we get close to the larger Muslim states and fight our way toward the mouth of the Nile.

Current Year: 974 AD.  Current Status: Not Yet Possessed.

Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Excluded, Games

The Promised Land RELOADED #4

Part OnePart Two, and Part Three.

Back to the Horn of Africa!

King Kifle, unlike many of my kings, actually has pretty good stats, so under his rule Semien is quite powerful.

First up is a quick holy war to subdue the Hafazids.

With that done, I’m out of nearby neighbors who aren’t part of the Issamid Empire, so expansion becomes a bit tricky.  I start putting a lot of money into upgrading my military infrastructure.

My vassals while away the time by fighting one another.

Kifle, tragically, dies fairly young, of natural causes.  (At least no doctors were involved.)  Long live King Tengene!

An opportunity presents itself when the Issamid Empire is divided by civil war!  I have a claim on Akordat, the gray province at the north end of Semien, because it’s de jure part of one of my duchies.  I can declare war on the temporary revolt state without having to fight the Issamid army proper, which is probably busy anyway.  The downside is that if the revolt ends, my war will end inconclusively, but a revolt this big is going to last a while.  So away we go!

No sooner have I started the war then I have “malaise”.  Here we go again.

That … actually seems reasonable.

That does not.

Fine work Hagos.  What’s your next treatment?


I should say not.

Actually, this was not because of his proctological expertise, but because a gang of my vassals decided this would be a good time to demand extra powers, including Hagos.  

At the same time, another Miaphysite rebellion broke out, so that kept me pretty busy.  I quickly hired a mercenary company to put down the rioting Christians, then continue on into Issamid Revolt territory to bring that war to a close.  Meanwhile, my primary army heads over to what used to be Hafazid territory to discipline the ungrateful jerks I gave it to.

As I’m fighting three wars, Tengene still is feeling poorly.

Cancer again, eh?

Ah, the old reliable methods.

Well, at least his diagnosis was right.

This unorthodox cancer treatment somehow worked brilliantly, and Tengene’s illness went into remission for five years.

Finally.  My old hunting companion Ezana gets thrown in prison and has his titles revoked.  Serves him right for demanding representation.

Eventually the Issamid Rebels concede as well, and Akordat swears fealty to me.  Its rulers are all Muslims, so I can revoke their titles and hand them out to loyal Jews without any of my Jewish vassals (which is all of them) caring.

The Issamid civil war is still ongoing and both sides are weak, plus one of their vassals is having his own civil war.  I smell profit, and launch a holy war for Blemmiya, the region immediately north-west of Semien under Issamid control.  Sure enough, my armies roll in and capture most of it without any Issamids coming to dispute the matter.

It’s tricky, because there’s a bunch of rebel factions and they’re all mutually hostile and hostile to me.  I lose a couple of battles but continue to hold territory.  In the meantime, Tengene’s cancer returns, and I go back to Rabbi Taye.

A … apparently it was leg cancer?  I hope.  But this treatment actually works and King Tengene makes a full recovery!

The war drags on.  As long as I control Blemmiya, the contested territory, it swings slowly but surely in my favor.

Irritatingly, a powerful faction wants to change to gavelkind inheritance, where titles are split among the sons.  It’s led, appropriately enough, by Tengene’s only son Eremias.  Currently I’m using seniority inheritance, where the oldest member of the dynasty gets everything.  This has the disadvantage that you can’t groom your successors, but it keeps all the titles together.  I’d like to switch to primogeniture but can’t manage it quite yet.

Fortunately, Eremias has the impetuosity of youth.  He starts a plot to kill Tengene, which I find out about.  This means I can try to throw him in prison — while that fails, and he revolts against me, he does it without any of his faction allies.  Leaving Blemmiya alone for a while, I head out to discipline the boy.

Unfortunately, things start to go wrong.  First, the Issamid civil war ends, which means that the Issamids regain control of part of Blemmiya that was owned by the rebels and reduce my war progress.  Second, someone is still trying to kill me, probably Eremias.  

He fails the first time, but succeeds the second.  Alas, poor king Tengene.

Come on, Tengene was unfaithful like … one time!  Two or three at most.  Anyway, long live King Fethee!  “Trusting and complacent”, huh?

Complacent he might be, but Fethee gets things done.  He gathers the armies and gets the better of the Issamids, finishing the war for Blemmiya.

Staying well clear of yet another giant revolt army heading for the Caliph, Fethee turns the armies around and heads for the rebellious Eremias in Bayda.

Aaaaand then splits the army again to deal with a Sunni revolt.  Fortunately by this point the rebels are mostly spent, and it’s just a matter of besieging their castles.

Finally Semien is reunited!  However, King Fethee kind of sucks, especially at war, and all his vassals hate him.  I put further plans against the Issamids on hold to try to pacify my country.

This goes poorly.  What do they think this is, a democracy?

However!  As I’m crushing this latest rebellion, the event I’ve been waiting for finally arrives — the Issamids collapse entirely.

What used to be a unified Arabian Empire is now a mess of tiny states, which should help my expansion prospects considerably.

The Pope decides to take advantage of this new geopolitical climate with a crusade against … the Slavs?

Another civil war won, another set of vassals in jail.  The somewhat-incompetent King Fethee turns his sights northward…

Current Year: 940 AD.  Current Status: Avaricious.



Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Excluded, Games

The Promised Land RELOADED #3

Part One and Part Two.

I’m going to have to start doing these in a little less detail — so much crazy stuff happens in this game I’d be here all night!

When we last left our heroes, my daughter Habesha had cancer.  It turns out she’s also possessed!  And an awesome spymaster!  (And shrewd and deceitful.)  I kind of want to know more about this character.

I’m still part of the Kingdom of Abyssinia, though by dint of falsifying claims on other nobles in the kingdom and then taking their land, I’m rapidly becoming the biggest landholder after the king.

That’s me in light brown, the king in dark brown, and Duke Wededem in green.  I can’t declare war on the king without fighting all the other nobles at once, so I concentrate on trying to get land of Wededem.

In the meantime, the king takes Berbera, extending Abyssinian rule all the way to the Horn of Africa.

Then, dickishly, the king decides he likes Gondar and revokes my title to it!  I have to agree or go to war, and going to war doesn’t seem on quite yet.  But I’ll get it back if it takes a century or two…

My doctors continue their reign of terror.

Seriously, guys?

The king’s demands for my lands have put me on notice.  It’s time for Semien to be free once again!  I launch a war of independence and win, with heavy mercenary support.  Unfortunately I’m now surrounded by hostile Abyssinia.  This is going to take some work.

I am beginning to doubt the wisdom of these rabbis.  

The newly crowned King Mekonnen died soon afterward, presumably of sheer exhaustion.  Long live King Bekele!


Right then.  Long live King Yacob!  

(Seriously, long live, we need one of these guys to last more than a year.)

Because the Abyssinians are Miaphysite Christians, I can declare Holy Wars against them and don’t need, like, a reason.  This has the downside of having other nearby co-religionists come to their defense, but we’re surrounded by Muslims anyway.  So after some long and extremely expensive warring I manage to grab the Duchy of Afar, which takes the wind out of Abyssinia’s sails.

My favorite part of this war: early on, I captured the Abyssinian king’s entire family, including seven or eight children.  As the war dragged out and my treasury ran low, I ransomed the kids back to him, one by one, to get enough money to keep paying my mercenaries.  What a great dad!

A long, tense, and hard-to-follow sequence of wars commences.  If this were a history book, this is the part where you’d start to lose the thread.  I fend off a war of revenge from Abyssinia, but one of the Sultanates that makes up part of the massive Abassid Empire comes and starts nibbling at my northern border.  To forestall this, I assassinate the sultan, and then his son, leaving a five year old in charge.  He swears eternal revenge which definitely won’t be an issue later.

King Yacob: a deep thinker.

As the Semien/Abyssinian Wars continue, interrupted by brief truces which usually end in assassinations, I get the upper hand, and also promote Semien into an official kingdom!  It is, finally, good to be the king.

Glancing at the Abbasids at one point, I discover they are at war with somebody named “Maharaja Dundaka III the Mutilator of Varman”, which may be the best name ever.

Yacob and his wife continue their passion, even though he’s now in his 70s.  Note the tooltip — 10% chance of death.  Also, why does it give you prestige?  Is the whole castle watching?

Somewhere in here, the boy-sultan grew up and launched a war of revenge specifically against Yacob, not even for territory.  He ended up spending some time in the dungeon until I could raise the money for a ransom.

Yacob lived to a ripe old age and much success.  Perhaps I’ve broken my streak!  Long live King Kafa!

Turns out Kafa was already comatose in bed when he took the throne.  Long live King Gebereal!

The Tujibid Sultan, all grown up, comes at me again, but this time I fend him off and end up with a sultan’s ransom.  I continue to pick away at Abyssinia, though they still hold Gondar. 

For a guy called “the Hideous” he looks okay to me.  Although he is also possessed, which apparently runs in the family.

Finally, after not quite a century, Gondar returns to its rightful owners.

Soon afterward, Semien’s victory is complete!  Abyssinia is expelled from Africa.

The bad news is that the Abbasids, while they have become the Issamids, are still far too gigantic to challenge.  This is going to present a problem.

The new king, Loua (who is only like 45 at this point) decides he’s had enough of this and would prefer to live forever.

“Just ask around, guys!  I’m sure someone knows how to live forever.”

Apparently living forever is very expensive.  I like to imagine these guys are out partying it up with the money.

Sadly, Loua did not secure life eternal.

However, his reign is long and successful!  The Abyssinians are wiped out, and the Hafizids are soon to follow.  The Pope has called for the Crusades, which I’m hoping will weaken the Issamids a bit, although the First Crusade apparently went to Saxony.  Step One of the master plan, secure the Horn of Africa, is complete.  But fighting our way toward Jerusalem is not going to be easy…

Current Year: 915 AD.  Current Status: Apprehensive.

Crusader Kings Series 1, Excluded, Games

The Promised Land RELOADED #2

Part One.

The continuing adventures of the Gideon Dynasty.

When we last left our heroes, Abyssinia had just taken out most of the Shirazids, and I was looking to take the lands of Gondar, my immediate southern neighbor.  Unfortunately I lack a good claim on Gondar, so I set my chancellor to falsifying the appropriate documents and wait.  

The Iconoclasts appear to have taken over the Byzantine Empire, which is interesting historically if not particularly relevant to me.

Not much left of Orthodoxy!

King Oda Gosh of Abyssinia has died, and the throne has passed to his brother Ayzur.  Unfortunately there’s a lot of Solomonids so getting someone from my dynasty on the throne is going to take a lot of work.

King Ayzur wants money for his warchest, but I’m not THAT loyal.  I need that money for my own wars!

Gondar follows my lead and swears loyalty to Abyssinia.  That doesn’t mean I can’t attack them but it makes it a little riskier.  I switch to trying to forge a claim on Gojjam, since they’re still independent.

Duke Gideon Gideon claims to love his daughter Semhar!  This will become important later.

More formerly independent counties around Damot swear loyalty to Abyssinia.

King Ayzur decides to kick off a war with the Arwadids, across the straights in Arabia.  Not a terrible move as long as the Abbassids don’t get involved.  I cautiously send some troops to loot while avoiding the main armies.

Once again the computer sucks at warring.  It happily lets small enemy armies unite rather than crush them.

Also, I start building a hospital in Semien, on the grounds that it might help with disease and such.

Overqualified Jews in search of employment keep randomly turning up at my court, which is fine with me!

Then things get … weird.

That seems normal enough.  Might lead to “It’s good to be the Duke!”

A nun, eh?  Well, being friends with Christians doesn’t seem like it could HURT.  There’s a lot of them after all.  Sure, she can stay!


Or she could turn out to be fucking Death incarnate.  Obviously I have to challenge her to a chess game, since my young Duke apparently only has a 20% chance of overpowering a nun with a dagger.

Fortunately she likes chess.  Although I notice she doesn’t actually promise to spare me if I win.

I … uh, don’t actually have very good stats for chess …

Duke Gideon Gideon, having apparently lost his queen, bets his daughter’s life in order to get it back.  Double or nothing indeed!  Honestly though, getting a queen back is pretty strong, right?

Apparently not.  

Sooooo Duke Gideon Gideon dies under “suspicious circumstances” along with his daughter Semhar, leaving his 10-year-old son Mekonnen as the sole surviving member of the family.  Though what Gideon did to merit a personal visit from Death is still beyond me.  Long live the Duke!

At this point, King Ayzur’s war is still blundering along, not really getting anywhere.  I’m looking at a six-year regency, which is unfortunate.  But my chancellor finally has some luck, and forges a deed to the county of Gojjam!

Thankfully, my regent and council approve immediate war.  I hire some mercenaries and crush Gojjam in a very short campaign.  Hurrah!  The first real addition to my domain!

The remaining country next to Gojjam quickly swears fealty to Abyssinia.  Ayzur wraps up his inconclusive war, but in his weakened state one of his new vassals demands a change to elective monarchy!  I would actually happily join this rebellion, since I want elective monarchy too, but nobody asked me.  I’m always last picked for the team, sob.  So I guess I’m a loyalist.

In typical AI fashion, Ayzur starts laying siege to rebel castles, while right next door the rebels are laying siege to the nearest loyalist castles.  Which happen to be mine.  *headdesk*

My capital may be occupied by rebel troops, but at least the Duke is grown up!  Even if he has only managed to become a mediocre bureaucrat.

I marry him off as quickly as possible, since I desperately need some sons.  Sela seems like a better choice, even if she doesn’t like me.

Good news, my wife is pregnant!  Bad news, my land is still occupied, and now a powerful Abassid faction has declared war on Abyssinia, which is leaving Ayzur a bit overtaxed.  I’ve got my own tiny forces together, and I’m doing my best to liberate my castles to weaken the rebels.

A son!  If only there were a few less rebel troops about.  Fortunately, a few Christian allies have sent troops to help fight the Abassids.

Me liberating them from rebels apparently encouraged the people of Semien to return to the faith!

Ayzur finally gets the rebels to surrender.  Unfortunately, he’s losing the war with the Abassids rather badly, and I haven’t got much to throw in the balance.  On the up side, my wife gives birth to twin girls!

King Ayzur finally gets up the nerve to fight the Abassid army, and I pull together my troops to help.  We have a slight edge in numbers.

As we’re trying to force an engagement, a Monophysite rebellion breaks out!  That’s, uh, poorly timed.

We finally manage a showdown while the Monophysites rampage.  Victory!  

Ayzur crushes the impudent peasants before the Abassids can regroup, then settles in to retake some castles.  In the meanwhile, I’m recovering my strength and eyeing Gondar, which was so unkind to me while it was in rebellion.

Apparently the lesson didn’t take because another Monophysite revolt breaks out.  And yet another Muslim prince has declared a holy war for Abyssinia.  But I’ve generated a false claim, and quickly defeat the men of Gondor Gondar and add it to my realm!

The Abassids have finally been convinced to give up their war, but the Qadir are more stubborn.  Meanwhile, my steward is planning long-range training expeditions.  Keeping his eye on the ball, I guess.  I certainly need the money.  And it turns out quite profitably, giving me both cash and increased stewardship.

My youngest son has the flu …

…there’s another Monophysite rebellion …

…and one of my daughters has cancer.  This pretty much feels like an average day now.

My clever chancellor forges a deed to the other half of Gondar, and I take it with the aid of more mercenaries.  So my coffers are pretty empty, but I’m up to five counties, which makes me one of the stronger nobles in Abyssinia.  Progress!  Unless of course the Abassids come back to kick our asses.

Current Year: 801 AD.  Current Status: Cautiously Optimistic.




Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Excluded, Games

The Promised Land RELOADED

This is my attempt at a text-and-images Let’s Play, of sorts, documenting one of my adventures in Crusader Kings II.  I may adjust the format as we go along, let me know if you have any suggestions.  Clicking images should embiggen.

A few caveats!  I am not a super-expert CKII player, nor do I really care to be — I tend to be in it more for the story than anything else.  So I may behave sub-optimally from time to time!  (I may also explain more than needed, since my assumption is that not everyone reading this plays.)  Also, CKII is a historical game, so we’ll be dealing with some real-world stuff here — countries, religions, even a few people.  Generally I’ll try to be sensitive but if it bothers you when I declare holy war against Orthodox Christianity on behalf of the pope, or whatever, this is probably not the best thing to be reading.

CKII is a game with no real defined end goal.  You pick a ruler and a starting time, and you play as successive rulers of that dynasty, until you die out or the game ends in 1453.  I usually try to pick something to work toward to make things more interesting.  I’ve done a bunch of fun stuff, but one previous playthrough was kind of a bust — I wanted to play as a Jewish ruler, with the goal of re-establishing Jerusalem and rebuilding the Temple, only to have a game bug screw up the events that were supposed to make that happen at the last minute.  I have now gotten over my annoyance enough to try again!  (This time I’m not using Ironman mode since a) I don’t care about achievements and b) this way I can reload or use the console if I get blocked by bugs again.)

So!  Can we get back to the promised land … AGAIN?  Let’s find out.


The first problem is that there, uh, aren’t that many Jewish rulers.  We’re going to start at the earliest possible date, 769 AD, because we need a LOT of time to get this project done.  There are definitely easier ways (starting with the Kazakhs for example) but this one seemed fun.  So we will start as the Duke of Semien, a tiny little Jewish state in the middle of absolutely nowhere.  (One of the teeny ones to the right of Kassala.)

Yeah, see?  Middle of nowhere!

The other problem is that being a Jew is not exactly a popular choice in 769.  They’re the tiny little blue patch.

Tiiiiiny little blue patch.  This poses a couple of problems.  First of all, everybody around us is going to have an attitude penalty (in CKII, attitudes are numerical values from -100 to 100, and Infidel is -20) and basically not like us.  Second, it’s going to be hard to find people to marry.  Third, and most importantly, anybody who isn’t Jewish, which is everybody, can declare a holy war and come and take our land.  More on that in a minute.

Here is our King (actually Duke, but he calls himself a King) Phineas Gideon.  He is 46 years old with a son who has apparently formed ex nihilo, since he’s never been married.  His stats are pretty crap, to be honest, but we’re going to have to put up with a lot of that since we won’t have much choice in terms of wives, mentors, etc.

Here’s the Prince, Gideon Gideon.  He’s 14 and a bit better, stat-wise, except in terms of Stewardship, which is of course the one that we want the most.

Our initial goal is going to be to accumulate a lot of gold, so that we can use mercenaries to punch above our weight and take over some neighbors.  So we set Phineas Gideon to studying the mysterious ways of commerce.

Gideon Gideon will be tutored by Tessema, a random courtier who happens to be awesome at Stewardship.  We’d really really like it if he learns the Midas Touched trait from him.

Phineas needs to get married, because one son is never enough.  There is exactly one woman in the entire world willing to marry him, so I guess Senalat will have to do.  Fortunately she happens to be an awesome diplomat at age 16, which may come in handy.

Our council mostly isn’t bad, except for our Steward, who completely sucks at his job.  Fortunately, we can just replace him with Tessema.  He won’t like that but he’s not powerful enough to do anything about it.

On the to-do list, eventually: change away from Gavelkind inheritance, which will be problematic once our realm gets bigger.  Not urgent though.

Military: pretty poor.  Admittedly it’s 769 so everyone sucks, though.  We could use some more castles.

Ultimate goal!  We’re … a long way off from that.  But you gotta have goals.

Last important step before unpausing the game is to swear fealty to the King of Abyssinia.  Seems sort of counterproductive, I know, since ideally we want to be king, right?  But Semien is just not big enough to go it alone, and Abyssinia is our biggest neighbor.  Swearing fealty means that Abyssinia itself probably won’t attack us, plus provides a little protection against other people.  On the downside, the King might take our land or execute us, but one thing at a time.

King Oda Gosh accepts our request!  We are now part of the not-very-mighty Kingdom of Abyssinia, and none too soon.

We assign our councilors to their tasks and get working.  First goal, as I said before, is to build up some gold.  I also sent away for a Court Physician, and found this cynical rabbi named Amare.  (This is my first time playing with Reaper’s Due, so I have no idea about this part!)

Every year we can celebrate Passover!  But it’s expensive so I usually don’t.  Sorry guys.

King Oda Gosh is pretty quick off the block.  Not more than six months have passed before he’s declared a holy war against Berbera, which is off to the right of the screen there.  We’re not actually obligated to help, but it looks like a good prospect, so we’ll go along in hopes of some loot.

I’m in the middle of besieging Berber castles and the peasants are asking for money for their like … dance social?  Sure, why not.

Hmm.  I’m not an expert, but this bodes poorly.

What do you think, Rabbi?  Gout, huh?

You had one job, Amare!

One.  Job.

Predictably, diseased beaver secretions failed to help Duke Phineas, and he died shortly thereafter.  Thankfully, Gideon Gideon is almost 16 (the age of majority) and thus will have only a short regency.  That leaves me in a poor position, though, with only one family member to my name.

On the plus side, Gideon Gideon gained Midas Touched when he reached adulthood!  This will help with his crappy stats.

At this point, though, things are going pretty badly for the new Duke.  Our heir is King Oda Gosh, which means if Gideon dies we lose the game.  Also, the war has taken a decided turn for the worse.  The Shirazids (the green country including Harer, between Abyssinia and Berbera) have declared a holy war for Aksum, the core territory of Abyssinia.  They marched over into Berbera, where Oda and I were laying siege, and crushed both our armies.  So at this point Oda’s capital is under siege by a large Shirazid army, while he runs around desperately trying to recruit more men.  I am standing still lying in wait, but if the Shirazids win the war Abyssinia will be crippled and I’m probably screwed.

Oh, also, on reaching adulthood Duke Gideon Gideon turned out to be gay.  Definitely less than ideal dynasty-wise.

Gideon Gideon decides to console himself with “family”, which in this case means “sexing”.  In spite of his natural inclination, he’s managed to acquire a wife (once again the only woman in the kingdom) and is hard at work trying to acquire some sons.

There’s also a measles epidemic spreading fast.  Hopefully it does some damage to the enemy.

In spite of being gay, Gideon Gideon falls in love with his own wife!  A hopeful sign.

The war is still going very poorly, though.  Aksum is now occupied by the Shirazids, and their army continues to rampage throughout Abyssinia.  Our forces have recovered somewhat but are still waiting in their castles until the odds get a little closer to even.

However!  Fellow Miaphysites from surrounding countries rally to Oda’s side and send some armies over.  We quickly raise our troops and lead them to join the fight.  (Red armies are bad, gray are neutral to us, green are ours.)

As is so often the case, one hard-fought battle completely changes the course of the war.  We quickly liberate the castles and towns in Aksum and pursue the retreating enemy back into their own territory.

Unfortunately the Jews of Semien are not, uh, particularly warlike in their abilities.  We’re going to have to work on that guys.

As we reduce the Shirazid castles, good news!  Gideon’s wife is pregnant.  Maybe the dynasty will continue!

In addition to capturing some castles, we got a visiting Sheikh as well!  This is very good, he will bring a fine ransom.

Seriously, Amare?  Seriously?

Aaaand he’s been joined by the entire peasantry of Semien.  You’d think that being a Jew surrounded by hostile religions was hard or something.  We’ll get our Court Rabbi on setting people straight ASAP. 

Hurrah!  Gideon: The Next Generation.

On the downside, my wife contracted dysentery and died shortly thereafter.  Not one to waste time mourning, the Duke searched for a new wife, but this time there were literally no women in the world willing to marry Duke Gideon Gideon.  Fortunately, for a little cash you can “Present Debutante” which creates a new woman from scratch.  Long live Duchess Semhar!

My prisoner complains of his accommodations, which reminds us that he exists.  Now that the war is over, we ransom him back and pad our treasury.

For being gay, Duke Gideon Gideon keeps falling in love with his wives!  Later he fell in love with her again, and it stacks, meaning he had DOUBLE LOVE.

Then, for a while, things went relatively peacefully.  One of the small countries south of Abyssinia fell apart in civil war, and Oda Gosh grabbed half while the Shirazids grabbed the other half.

Semhar acquired an interest in romantic poetry, which we encouraged because it made her lustful.  Not long after, she gave birth to a daughter.

Oda Gosh, getting bored, declares war on the Shirazids again.  This time, because we’re not simultaneously fighting Berbera and he has some allies, it goes much better.  The AI is not super-good at fighting wars — it prefers to sit around besieging castles, rather than confronting the enemy even with a 2-to-1 advantage.  Not how we’d do it if we were in charge, but at least we get some loot from taking cities!

We win the war and take most of the Shirazid territory.  They won’t be much of an issue from here on out, I think.  Also, between the ransom and the looting, I’ve acquired a reasonable amount of gold, enough to pay some mercenaries for a bit.  So I set my chancellor to forging claims against the Duchy of Gojjam, just south of me, in hopes of getting a quick little war going.

Will it work out?  Who knows!  Tune in next time.  Current Year: 779 AD.  Current status: Still alive.

Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Crusader Kings Series 2, Excluded, Games

How Do I Vike, Part One

People seemed to enjoy my last Crusader Kings II write-up, The Promised Land RELOADED, so now that I’ve finished Persona 5 I thought I’d do another one.  I asked Twitter what I should play, and the response was in favor of being a Viking, so it’s time to figure out how to vike.

Some of the same caveats as last time — I usually don’t play CKII to “win” but for fun, so my decisions are often sub-optimal by hardcore player standards.  This is actually my first time playing as a tribal, pagan ruler, so I’ll be learning on the job more than usual!  I’ve also never played with the Monks & Mystics expansion, so there’s probably some new stuff there as well.  Lastly, it’s a historical game, so real-world stuff pops up — please don’t assume I’m actually in favor of burning Christians in the name of Thor!


Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Crusader Kings Series 2, Excluded, Games

How Do I Vike, Part Two

Part One.

The ongoing slapstick adventures of a band of serial arsonists in the frozen north!

When we left off, I’d picked off some of the surrounding counties, but Denmark was growing dangerously large on my southern border.  But there’s also some matters of succession to deal with.

My eldest daughter, Gurli, is turning out pretty damn well.  I set her for a stewardship education, in hopes that she’ll pick up Midas Touched from Ormr.

Unfortunately, Gurli has three siblings, including the depressed 6-year-old Astrid.  With Gavelkind succession, this is going to cause serious issues.

There’s still a few easy targets to pick off, though.  As Duke of Nidaros, I have a de jure claim on the County of Nidaros, which is currently held by an 11-year-old.  My troops make quick work of the war, and my not-yet-kingdom expands further.

Gurli, at 14, is known for her bravery!  Ormr despairs of teaching her to be a coward like himself.

When she finally achieves adulthood (after acquiring ANOTHER sibling) she has very solid stats, with Cynical, Brave, Ambitious, and Diligent, though sadly only a so-so administrator.  I find her a husband ASAP.

Meanwhile, I continue my expansion against the heretics to the east, usurping a High Chiefdom (Duchy) from them.  That gives me two duchies, so all I need to do is accumulate enough gold to declare myself King of Lapland before Ormr dies.

Unfortunately, the quest for more money takes its toll on the body.

And people are conspiring to kill my wife.  Which is … fine, actually, since I need her to stop having children I can’t afford to give land to.

Ditto when someone, probably one of her siblings, tries to kill my daughter Astrid.  Go forth, children, and slaughter one another!  I’ve also managed to grab the missing county out of my duchy in the east.

Once again it’s time to debase the currency!  You’d think people would stop falling for that.  It puts Ormr, at 51, tantalizingly close to his goal of becoming king.

Sadly, though, it’s not to be.  Ormr’s currency manipulation is discovered, and soon afterward he dies of sheer embarrassment.  As you can see in the “lost titles” section, this is not a good thing for the new Duke.  (Petty Queen, technically, which is a Duke-level title.)

Gurli (who has already outlived one husband) has severely reduced resources, having only one county to her name along with the primary duchy.  Worse, while her various siblings who got counties have mostly become her vassals and will thus at least contribute to her wars, the Duchy of Kola has broken away entirely.

In retrospect, I probably should have immediately declared war on Kola and settled the matter.  Instead, I decided to try and be clever — Queen Þordis (pronounced “thordis”) has no heirs of her own, which means Gurli is her heir by default.  So, I try to have her assassinated.

Meanwhile, Gurli manages to fall in love with her husband, and produce a son shortly thereafter.  So at least succession is more or less going in the right direction.

And suddenly great events are afoot!  The Viking Age beings, which means that every Norseman suddenly wakes up to find he knows how to build ships.  Finally I can get on with some proper viking, instead of just pillaging my neighbors.

To address the issue of my highly negative prestige, my mother takes it upon herself to build a giant statue of me.  Aww, thanks, mom.

Irritated by my inability to kill Þordis, I launch a war for Kola, but she swears loyalty to Karelia, a larger kingdom further south.  They send enough armies north that Gurli’s much-reduced forces can’t handle it, and I scrape out a white peace.  Thwarted, I keep the assassins coming.

Gurli manages to improve her mediocre administrative skill on a trip to the far-off Isle of Man.  Not Midas Touched, but it’s a start.

I start organizing a raid to go seize some treasure.  In the meantime, I grab another county in the west, inching toward the tip of the peninsula.

My half-sister cheerfully proposes that she should marry my son.  Um, ew.  We’re Norse, not Valyrian.

My first proper raid!  Five hundred brave men in nine ships make their way down to the Channel, looking for easy targets.  The ideal is to find single-county realms — once your army is there, they can’t raise troops, so they can’t really fight back effectively.

We land in Sussex, which is its own country at this point, and start taking everything that’s not nailed down.  This being Crusader Kings, “things that aren’t nailed down” actually has a specific numerical value — if you look at county description in the bottom left, there’s a line representing how much of the loot is available to steal and how much is hidden within fortresses.  I don’t have the manpower to besiege the castle yet, so I settle for what’s easily portable.

The chief of the county I just finished subjugating rebels against me, so my Kid’s First Viking gang comes home to deal with him.  Fortunately it’s not difficult, and this time I get to revoke his title instead of just making him a vassal.  I’m back up to two counties!  I head back out, this time to Ireland, looking for more loot.

Then this shows up in my inbox.  That’s the Queen of Denmark, and it turns out she’s declared a full-scale subjugation war against me.  This is definitely not good.

My raiding party hurries back, and I call in my tribal allies.

Unfortunately, Denmark is a lot stronger than I am.  My underdog strategy from the Israel days — avoiding battle and freeing recently-captured castles — works poorly here, because most of my holdings are unfortified tribes, and the terrain is harsh.  If the enemy were Christians, I’d have more options, but these are fellow Germanic tribesmen.

In the “seriously, who cares” department…

Well, crap.  I do what I can, but it’s not enough.  Ex-Queen Gurli is now officially a Danish vassal.  Worse things can happen, I guess.  The Danish queen seems well-disposed to me, and even offers me a council seat right away.  Let the plotting begin.

Burn the witch!  You’d think the Byzantines would have closer problems to worry about.

Okay.  If we’re going to get out from under the Danish yoke, we’re going to need to reconsolidate power a little.  I plot to kill my youngest sister, Rögnfrið, since she has no heirs and the county she inherited from Ormr will thus come to me.  Everyone is eager to help!

This may alarm my remaining siblings.

On the plus side, you can’t argue with results.  That’s three counties.

Gurli is heir to quite a few titles, as it happens.  Five siblings left.

Before I can do anything about that, though, there’s the small matter of surviving the flu and whatever insanity my doctors come up with.

Eh, I’ve seen worse.

Whew.  Okay, what next?

Apparently not very much.  Gnupa, one of Gurli’s brothers, apparently took exception to her “murder all the siblings” policy and decided to strike first.  Because the succession is by election, rather than the eldest, the youngest brother Guðfrið takes the throne.

He’s Zealous, Brave, Temperate, Proud, and Homosexual.  At least his fighting and stewardship are reasonable.  Unfortunately, I’m back down to two counties, one inherited and Guðfrið one already had.

I decide to stop playing nice, and revoke the title from Gnupa, who killed my big sister.  He rebels, of course, and the war is briefly interrupted by some weird political change in Denmark, but ultimately I throw him in prison.

With Gnupa’s two titles now mine, I move against Ingrid of Westrobothnia, another sibling.  She doesn’t have enough troops to put up much of a fight…

Oops.  Apparently I forgot to tell Guðfrið that he shouldn’t fight in the front lines, and he got himself killed in battle.  The electors choose Ingrid as his replacement.  Of the children of Ormr, only Ingrid, Þordis, and the imprisoned Gnupa are left.

Ingrid, unfortunately, is just terrible stat-wise, and she already has syphilis.  Fortunately for the dynasty’s sake, she has two children and one bastard.  She’s also managed to get up to five counties due to running out of siblings.

The electors decide the traitorous Gnupa should be heir.  Ingrid says the heck with that, and has him hanged on the spot.  At this point, I notice that while being tyrannical is going to piss off my vassals, I don’t have all that many vassals worth mentioning.

With Þordis not part of the realm, she has no supporters, and the succession is between Ingrid’s two children.  I can live with that.

Given that she has syphilis, Ingrid asks her doctor to do what he can.  Always a smart move.

He decides that “what he can” means “amputate one of my legs”.  This is a well-known treatment for syphilis, I’m sure.

Ingrid dies almost immediately thereafter.  However, the electors change their votes at the last minute, so the throne goes not to one of Ingrid’s young children, but rather to the adult daughter of her elder sister Gurli, High Chieftess Gloð.  Once again titles are scattered to the winds and the realm is a mess.

This has to stop.  Gloð has only three vassals — Ingrid’s two children and one stranger — and they’re all weak.  It’s time for a Reign of Terror.

I revoke all their titles at once, leading them all to rebel against me.  But everyone’s weak from the constant wars, so I bring in a gang of foreign mercenaries and smash them, one by one.

This takes a while, so I have to keep busy.  Burn the witch!

Finally, everyone is subdued, and I’ve got the five counties that comprise my realm back together again.  My cousins are in prison, and the Queen of Denmark is busy fighting a bunch of wars.  Paying my mercenaries has drained the treasury completely, so Gloð rounds up what troops she can and sets out to burn and pillage!  Once I build my strength, then we’ll see who’s the vassal…

Current Year: 815 AD.  Current Status: Honestly Still Not Much Of A Viking