When I first start a game, I develop a sort of personal connection with the characters... I began to immerse myself with all the members in my dynasty and observe as the intricate stories unfold: plots of murder, succession crises, infidelity, and betrayal... it's almost like watching scenes from Shakespear's MacBeth. I would take a close look at all of my next generation kin, watch them grow, and see what became of them.
At around 100-200 dynasty members however, everyone becomes a number on a list. Things start to become chaotic, and next thing you know one of your distant cousins that you never knew existed wants some kingdom or duchy title that you hold.
I prefer smaller kingdoms, too. Its easier to get to 'know' the characters and their stories, make up motives and get the story inside your head up and running. With empires, the list of people just goes on and on and on, and eventually everyone just fade into everyone else, and the story grinds to a halt.
Put me on the list for small kingdom. I too like to keep track on what dynasty members are doing, how their kids have developed, or how they've fared once they've left 'the roost.' I'm also somewhat OCD when it comes to building up my provinces, and once I have too many I start to feel overwhelmed (in fact if I've gone overboard with holy wars and such I tend to start a new game )
It's not a secret that small kingdoms give more pleasure to play as. However - the game is currently tailored for constant growth, and blobs pretty much never break up, so if you stay behind, you will suffer in the later game. At the beggining I had the choice between steady and controlled growth, or just devouring everything that stood on my way. I chose the first way(basing on my limited CK 1 experiences), while the AI went for a rampage. Now I have 3 kingdom titles and nothing to fight, aside from 3 uber blobs that surround me (GH consisting of all Rus and most of scandinavia, Byzantines who grew to the north and took some parts of southern Rus, and the almighty HRE with Hungary, Croatia, part of France, holdings in England, Iberia, around 1/3 of Africa and whole Sicily (along with the original lands)). I am just a sitting duck - only way to survive is to be allied with either HRE or Byzies, as the Horde is waiting with their Invasion, which I cannot counter (they're Orthodox). The game turned to be the Orchestra of 6 players (Ilkhanate, Mauretania and Shia Caliphate add to three mentioned above), and noone else matters.
My next game I am definately going for unlimited growth, because as the game is now, the opposite approach leaves you sitting there for last 150 years watching big guys winning their civil wars, but unable to really threaten them. Of course it will make you fight constant civil wars, but they are not a threat at all, since you can just beat them 1 by one (even if they all gang up with something like claim throne war it is enough if you rush and take main pretenders land)
Add me to the empire group (but unhappy about that).
I actually like starting small and then trying to find my way to the top (or near to it). Once your dynisty gets too large to know everyone you gotta just take it in stride. I treat them as those relatives that seem to drop by who noone really knows, you know what I mean. Just follow the main branch and the people that fall by the wayside and appear latter are interesting surprises
empires if you want a dynamic game.
and by dynamic, I mean conquer a lot, succumb to collapse, recover, and expand again, and keep on working to expand while keeping it together.
of course, you'll need some paracetamol handy
You can have a small dynasty and have a big kingdom and you can have a small kingdom and a big dynasty. In my multiplayer Game my friend created the Kingdom of Germany (started as Brandenburg) and is constantly on the edge of Game Over. Because he simply doesn't get a lot of kids and kills a lot of his relatives. When we started he had Gavelkind and killed all but 1 son for a few generations. This way his dynasty is very small. I have a similar realm size but I have more living dynasty members as he had in the whole game
Empires. I like to start with a Duchy or small kingdom but I'm always gunning for one of the two real Crowns.
Sometimes the process can get a bit convoluted though. Plans fail, and also I get side tracked.
This is my first 1.04 game so far.
Started as Hungary. Initial plan was to gun for the Croatian and Bulgarian crown and then find a way to claim the 'weakened' Byzantium advertised in the patch, I was assuming they'd lose territory. That didnt happen though so I had to expand more to be able to take them on. I didnt want to go for Rus but I got a ton of claims on all their dukes so I invaded, set up the place into a unified Kingdom, gave my brother a genius wife with 20 as a stat average and let them break free. 40 years later all their 3 kids died and I inherit the damn thing Its half catholic tho now so I decided to keep it. When I finally got a claim on Croatia, they had been inherited by the Hautvilles who made it their primary titles so it came with greater Sicily.
So now that I have the military power to grab an Imperial crown, I'm raising a future heir who has a claim on Byzantium so I FINALLY get back on track. But the heir is a nephew so I'm keeping 6 different kingdoms as 'Elective' so I can get this kid to inherit everything, that's alot of juggling. Plus, my King now has a claim on the HRE so I'm half tempted to go that way instead... maybe even grab both. And as you can see, the map would look so much neater without this polish blob... it's too... red.
Oh and btw, this game taught me that changing your primary title wipes away your long reign bonus I thought it would be cool to have Jerusalem as primary. Losing +25 LRB hurt!