So folks, we are releasing the fifth expansion to Crusader Kings II, on Monday next week; Sons of Abraham. In the previous dev diaries, I have gone through the various features we've added in the expansion, so today I'll speak of the 2.0 patch. Usually when we release expansions for Crusader Kings II, we add a lot of free stuff in the patch as well, and this time is no exception. It's almost funny how many features we plan for the expansions that we end up putting in the patch instead, simply because they alter the core gameplay too much. Now, where to begin?
Perhaps the biggest - yet quite subtle - change we did was to reduce the amount of levies you get, particularly from your vassals. There are several changes to the rules; first off, levies from outside your de jure capital region get progressively smaller in stages (county, duchy, kingdom, empire, outside). Secondly, vassals will not give you any levies if they don't have a positive opinion of you (previously the threshold was -25). On the other hand, you now always enjoy a big opinion boost if you are being attacked by foreigners, particularly by infidels. This means that you can usually raise something approaching your theoretical max while being attacked, but not when you are doing the attacking. (Incidentally, this also means that factions tend to be less dangerous while the whole realm is under threat.) Lastly, the ruler's martial skill has a direct and significant effect on the size of the levies that can be raised from his or her demesne.
We have also added whole new feature to improve the military side of the game; terrain bottlenecks. This is a system where the defending side in a battle has sometimes found suitable terrain before combat commences. The chance of this depends on the main province terrain and leader skill (there is even a new commander trait for this.) Each flank may have a narrow approach, preventing the attackers from attacking in numbers greater than the number of flank defenders (their number at the start) during the melee phase. The main reason we added this feature is that being outflanked is now much, much more devastating than it used to be, particularly if you are being outflanked from two directions, or through your (fallen) center. We have also updated all mercenaries and holy orders so they actually have three regiments instead of one (and can thus fill a battle line on their own.) Mongols and Aztecs also arrive with more but smaller regiments, etc. What else? Oh yes, we unleashed Wiz (Martin Anward, who improved the EUIV AI) on the military AI to see if he could kick it up a notch...
Another really nice thing with the 2.0 patch is of course the addition of Ironman mode, like in Europa Universalis IV. To complement this, we added 50 Steam achievements that you can only get in Ironman mode. The multiplayer metaserver, however, will be discontinued. RIP.
Now, as you know, playing Crusader Kings II is a pretty cheerful and lighthearted experience, so we thought it was high time to bring in some much needed tragedy. Thus, there is now a chance that women might die in childbirth, either at once or after a period of illness. Infants can also be born "Sickly" (new trait), which means it is unlikely they will live past their third year. Surprisingly, we are not simply doing this out of pure malice; there are interesting gameplay effects where marriage alliances can suddenly be reset and you don't know if your sickly heir will actually survive to adulthood.
When characters convert religion, there is now a chance they will be tolerant of their old faith. These are new traits which affect the opinions of both the character and of other characters. For example, a former pagan king might get no opinion penalty versus pagans, nor will they of him.
I know I'm forgetting stuff here, but you can all read the change log for yourselves when I post it. Needless to say, it's full of bug fixes and modding improvements as well.
And in case anyone missed it, Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham will release the 18th of November.
That's all for now, but there will be a live stream with yours truly on Tuesday, the day after release!