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Old 02-29-2012, 05:18 PM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Crusader Kings II Review

Politics, intrigue, assassination and plotting. Going to war against infidels and pleasing the Pope. Claiming land from your neighbors and getting rid of inconvenient family members. That's good old Middle Ages, for you. Read through Mario's review of Crusader Kings II and please, please, do not attempt at home the things he's done.

Read through Mario's full look at Crusader Kings II and then discuss it here!
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:14 PM   #2
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Being this an Editor's Choice, I'm going to follow up this article with extra information for the curious, interested or buyers of this excellent title from Paradox Interactive.

Expect in the next 48 hours:
  • An alternative soundtrack, if you ever wish to play the game with different, but still appropriate, music for a game of this type. That will be the playlist I currently play the game with.
  • A list of various links to what I consider the best tutorials and learning tools. FYI, I've learned to play the game from the links on that list.
  • A small post-article on others aspects to Crusader Kings II that didn't make it to this article to conserve space and not bore you to death.
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Old 03-02-2012, 03:09 PM   #3
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I start here a series of posts where I will got a bit deeper into Crusader Kings II and add a few extras. Let's start with the game musical score.

---

Crusader Kings II comes with great music. Like many games by Paradox, the pieces are original and composed specifically for the game. With Crusader Kings II, Paradox once again requested the talents of Andreas Waldetoft, a game, film and TV composer who has already worked for Paradox on other titles (Victoria, Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron). The choir is the little known but excellent Herrestads Church Choir, a Swedish assemble managed by Hanz Blomdahl.

However, I'm not entirely a fan of Andreas work. I certainly recognize his talent. And some of his compositions are indeed great. But I've been growing tired of a certain tendency of games, no matter the genre, to produce music that is often qualified as epic. I just no longer appreciate -- maybe because it has become too much, like that great song on the radio that they just don't stop airing -- heroic type of music.

After a little while I feel inclined to just set the music level to 0, or replace it entirely with a playlist of my own. That's exactly what happened to Crusader Kings II not 2 hours into play. With the help of a thread on the game forums I eventually started adding to my playlist and am here to share the final version for you.

---

This playlist is mostly comprised of Lorenna McKennitt work intersected by other great musicians and composers. My only warning is: you may lose the game.
  1. Loreena McKennitt - The English Ladye and The Knight
  2. Loreena McKennitt - Banquet Hall
  3. Loreena McKennitt - She Moved Through The Fair
  4. Jordi Savall - Le Royaume Oublié (the video is an excerpt)
  5. Loreena McKennitt - Blacksmith
  6. Loreena McKennitt - The King
  7. Loreena McKennitt - Kellswater
  8. Jordi Savall - Greensleeves
  9. Loreena McKennitt - Sacred Shabbat
  10. Omnia - Fairy Tale
  11. Loreena McKennitt - The Highwayman
  12. Al Qantarah - In Hoc Anni Circulo
  13. Loreena McKennitt - The Seasons (can't be found on YouTube, except for a cover) ()
  14. Jordi Savall - Hespèrion XXI (the video is an excerpt)
  15. Loreena McKennitt - Coventry Carol
  16. Loreena McKennitt - Dante's Prayer (not entirely suitable, but one of my favorite of hers)
  17. Loreena McKennitt - The Mystic Dream
  18. Conrad Paumann - Mit Ganczem Willen
  19. Loreena McKennitt - Santiago
  20. Jordi Savall - Folías de Espanã
  21. Loreena McKennitt - Bonny Portmore
  22. Loreena McKennitt - Between The Shadows
  23. Omnia - Fidhe Ra Huri

I just set the game music volume to 0, and run the playlist in loop random mode.

I'll certainly be adding and tweaking this playlist with time. But it's unlikely I'll be posting more about it. In any case, if you like any of this, you can work from here.
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Old 03-02-2012, 06:50 PM   #4
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Moving on, let's see what you can use to learn how to play the game.

---

As said on the review, Paradox isn't exactly known for its comprehensive manuals. Similarly, if -- and when -- they do add tutorials to their games, these are usually very simple and introduce only key game concepts, leaving aside any considerations regarding gameplay.

For the population in general this can be a problem, since grand strategy games of the scope of Paradox titles are very rich in features, some of which are deeply ingrained in the engine, and not at all apparent from just looking at the data presented to us. Likewise, the data that is presented to us is often complex, very rich in terminology and tightly integrated with the rest of the game. There's load and loads of numbers and terms that need to be learned and understood; both their meaning and the vast web of consequences of messing with them.

Truth be said, not every information is meant to be taught to the player. An intrinsic part of playing any grand strategy game is to learn the innards of its engine. But this isn't possible to do if we don't have a basic knowledge of the gameplay. It's very easy to look at a title like Crusader Kings II, Victoria or Hearts of Iron (all Paradox games) and quickly lose interest because the player finds the game unplayable without the knowledge of how to play it.

Thankfully Crusader Kings II isn't a hard game to get into. Paradox did an excellent job abstracting the whole complex affair of internal politics in a feudal system into an easy to understand set of game features. At first glance the game looks as daunting as any other Paradox title, with the exception of Hearts of Iron (possibly the most complex game ever conceived). But once we get a helping hand, we realize that things do fit in, make a lot of sense and can be easily understood.

That helping hand is the players community, who had been doing a great job publishing all sorts of material to help others learn the ropes of Paradox games.

What I'm going to present next is the set of links that I personally used to learn how to play the game. With the material below, I was able to understand the gameplay to its fullest. With a little free time in your hands and a bit of perseverance, you will find too the pleasure of playing Crusader Kings II.

---

(1)
What introduced me to the game and pretty much taught me how to play it were the excellent tutorials by TekkorGJC. He has a pleasant voice and demeanor and guides us through the game in 5 tutorials followed by two Q&A videos. After going through all of them I was essentially introduced into the gameplay and could play it on my own.

TekkorGJC also has a Let's Play Crusader Kings series on his channel that you may want to follow too. He explains many of the things he does in the game and you get to see the game being played in its fullest.

(2)
Another excellent source for learning the game is Das24680 Let's Play series. Another good communicator that is easy to follow and won't tire you. Das, explains the game as he plays it in 11 episodes. He doesn't fear making mistakes, talking about them and learning (him too) how to play the game as he goes.

I watched Das series a fair bit after I started playing the game on my own. And it was worth it since it introduced me into yet more game concepts.

(3)
The game forums are an essential resource for any game of this type, as you well know. There, you can learn about everything there is to know about the game, as players share their experiences and accumulated knowledge of the game. There's however an invaluable resource in there in the form of a sticky thread that gets into a somewhat deep analysis of the key game concepts. This is the In-depth Guide to CKII thread, managed by Meneth.

It's, at the time of this post, a work in progress. Meneth keeps on adding new information and correcting whatever information is found to be wrong or unclear. A companion thread to the guide allows anyone to give feedback or clear any doubts. I'm listing both below.
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Last edited by marfig; 03-02-2012 at 08:29 PM.
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