Crusader Kings 2 is a Grand Strategy game developed by Paradox Development Studio for PC, and was released on the 14th of February 2012 worldwide. A Mac version of the game, developed in-house by Paradox, was released on May 24th of the same year.
The game, in the typical Grand Strategy sense, is played from a map screen, with you controlling your character and his lands, and your vassals, if you have any.
Players can take the role of any Christian Count, Duke, King, or even Emperor from any time past 1066 (867, with the Old Gods DLC) - the Norman Invasion of England - until 1453 (though the latest start date is 1337) - the end of the 100 years war. The DLC adds the ability to play as others; Sword of Islam allows playing as muslims, The Republic allows you to play as merchant republics, The Old Gods allows you to play as one of the many pagans (norse, romuva, slavic) or a Zoroastrian. The focus of this game is more about building your dynasty and improving relations with allies, and playing as a character instead of a nation, than it is about building an army that can conquer the world like in other strategy games.
Every court has characters, and the player can marry important characters (princes/princesses etc) off to faraway courts to gain favour with that court's ruler. As the game takes place during the dark ages, religion is very important, and players must make sure not to anger the pope; that is, unless they want to create their own anti-pope. The pope will call on his Catholic leaders to Crusade on the religious opposition to take back the Holy Lands from the Muslims. Likewise, the Sunni or Shia Caliph can call a Jihad to take back lands from the Catholics.
If the player plays as a king, or even a duke, their lower counts and vassals each have their own opinion of them: if they don't like you, they can break away, or even plot to assassinate you. The game does not end if your kingdom is taken over, and instead ends if the player's dynasty ends. This can occur if the current played dynasty has no legitimate heirs.
The first expansion - and large content patch - to Crusader Kings II, the Sword of Islam, was released on June 2012. The expansion allows players to take control of Muslim dynasties and expands the map further into Africa and Western Asia. A second large content patch came and added new formable Empires in places that did not have them before (Britannia, Scandinavia, Hispania).
The second expansion - and large content patch - to Crusader Kings II is the Legacy of Rome, which was released on October 16th, 2012. It is focused on the Byzantine empire, as well as the Orthodox Church. The expansion added a retinue system where rulers could have a base standing army rather than raising one from their demesne; more events and decisions for the Byzantines, and Orthodox kingdoms can now appoint their own Patriarchs, rather than be subservient to the one in Constantinople. The patch added the faction system, where vassals can more easily band together and revolt against their liege; it made armies more reliant on their leader's stats and added more traits for army leaders, and added one new religion: Miaphysite, and two new heresies: Nestorian and Monothelite. It also fixed memory leak and speed bugs.
The third expansion - along with a small patch - is Sunset Invasion, Paradox Development Studio's first non-historically accurate venture. The DLC features an Aztec civilization - the culture is called the Nahua culture - that has come to invade Europe - in boats that look suspiciously like Viking long boats - in a Golden Horde/Il-Khanate style invasion. They also bring a new plague; specifically syphilis. With it they have new events, such as sacrifices to their gods, the introduction of Cocoa as a resource/good, as well as coloured beads. It also features new portraits as well as new sprites. The patch along side it came with many fixes to retinues and the faction system. It was released on November 15th, 2012.
The fourth expansion is The Republic, which was released on January 15th, 2013. The expansion allows players to play as the republics of Genoa, Pisa, and the most Serene Republic of Venice, as well as others that may come later -such as the Hanseatic League; it also adds the ability to play as any maritime republic, although it does not allow players to play land based republics. It will add a new type of holding, the Family Palace, that a doge may own, and there is more of a focus on gold and trade. You can be voted out of the dogedom due to new election mechanics as well; it will be hard for a player to keep control of the republic for a very long time. However, the player does not need to control the republic in order to continue playing. The accompanying patch added many fixes, two new inheritance laws (ultimogeniture and tanistry), lowered the demesne cap across the board, new mercenaries for cultures that did not have them previous, as well as updating the UI. The patch also adds automatically changing province titles; for example, if a Muslim holds Lisboa, it is called Lishbuna.
The fifth expansion is The Old Gods, which was released on may 28th 2013. It allows players to play as Pagans of the Baltic area and Russia, including the Zoroastrians of Persia. It also allows players to play as aztecs and tengri Mongols, who are introduced at a later date. It will also introduce an earlier start date of 867, in which the viking king Rurik has just formed the Kievan Rus, the Karlings control a large portion of Europe and the Umayyad Sultanate controls much of southern Iberia. This makes the playable time period of the game extend to 586 years. It will also introduce new rebel mechanics, as well as landless adventurers. There will be new conversion mechanics for the christians as well. It also includes many events and decisions for the Pagans, though norse Pagans do get the most events added to them. There's also a new Raiding mechanic, where you can toggle an army as a raider and go around Europe to siege and pillage provinces for gold and prestige.
The Clausewitz engine is very moddable, and as such has many mods for it; the most important of which are:
CK2+, a mod made by Martin "Wiz" Anward, is the most played mod according to Paradox's internal data that they collected in the winter of 2012. It is a mod dedicated to making the game harder for both the player and the AI, and includes many changes to the faction system, holy wars, and much more. It also includes many other minimods developed by the community. It lead to the modder in question being hired by Paradox, to work on AI. Wiz's final update is to make the mod compatible with The Old Gods.
The Game of Thrones, made by a large team, is a total conversion mod that takes the mechanics and systems of Crusader Kings II and changes the map and characters to those found in the book series written by George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones. It includes many different start dates that coincide with the book dates, and the characters that are mentioned within. It also includes many specific events that relate to events in the book. It got much attention from the gaming community and press.
Elder Kings is a total conversion mod that allows players to play in the Elder Scrolls universe; the starting date is much before any of the games, and allows players to play as any of the cultures (including tertiary ones that have never been featured in any game). It introduces a magic system, an adventurer system, a new court position (court wizard), and a dragonborn system.
- Dynasty Shields
- Mongol Faces
- Ruler Designer
- Songs of Albion
- Songs of Faith
- Songs of the Holy Land
- Songs of the Caliph
- African Unit Pack
- Byzantine Unit Pack
- Dynasty Shields II
- Songs of Byzantium
- Mediterranean Faces
- Songs of the Rus
- Russian Portraits
- Russian Unit Pack
- Songs of Prosperity
- Norse Portraits
- Norse Unit Pack
- Hymns to the old Gods
- Celtic Faces (unreleased)
- OS: XP/Vista/Windows 7
- Processor: Intel® Pentium® IV 2.4 GHz or AMD 3500+
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Hard Disk Space: 2 GB
- Video Card: NVIDIA® GeForce 8800 or ATI Radeon® X1900, 512mb graphics memory required.
- DirectX®: 9.0c
- Sound: Direct X-compatible sound card
- Additional: 3-button mouse and keyboard