CK2 Dev Diary #65: Along the Silk Road

Greetings!

Today I’d like to talk about one of the features that we’ve decided to improve and overhaul - the Silk Road. The Silk Road was introduced in the Horse Lords expansion and, while profitable, was very annoying to manage and fickle in its behaviour. As the Silk Road is essential in modeling the importance of China, it will also be unlocked by owning Jade Dragon. Owners of Horse Lords will receive all improvements we’re making, of course.

More often than not, the Silk Road was consciously ignored by players as it was too much of a hassle to manage. You used to compete with everyone for where to build your trade posts - not just with other realms, but with your own vassals. Another problem was that the Silk Road was way too easy to cut off - 100 men looting Dunhuang would completely cut off trade downstream, which wasn’t very realistic at all. With limited routes the trade usually had nowhere to go, and it was not uncommon to see the road completely blocked off if both origin points were under siege.

The Silk Road has received plenty of new routes - based on various historical records, such as those made by Arab traders, Radhanite Jewish merchants and the Chinese themselves. It’ll be very hard to cut it off entirely, as there’s plenty of paths for the trade to take!
Silk Road Basic Outline.png

The Silk Road origin points are now north of Tibet, southern Tibet and via the ocean to southern India.

The new vision we have for the Silk Road is one where you want to control (and fight over) specific counties along the Silk Road, where Trade Posts can always be constructed. These ‘hot-spots’ are placed in various counties with historical precedent along the road itself - i.e. Khotan, Kashgar, Debul, Merv, and even counties as far away as Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. We currently have 51 Trade Post locations spread across the Silk Road.
TradePosts.png

The Trade mapmode now shows icons for Trade Posts, so you can at a glance tell where they can be built.

The value of the Silk Road depends on many factors, such as raids, occupations and the current attitude of China. Raids and occupations will no longer instantly cut off the Silk Road, instead they will decrease the value that travels downstream by a certain percentage - 10% for any county being under siege (i.e. raiders) and 25% for any occupied county. This means that, while the the Silk Road still has a dynamic and interesting value, it’s never arbitrarily cut off by a few raiders.
Raiding.png

You can now easily spot where hostilities are occurring along the Silk Road.

It will generally always be better to control Trade Posts further up the road itself - Trade Posts located further down the road are more susceptible to raiders and occupations, as the trade has to travel through more counties to get there. It’s far from useless though, as a Trade Post working at 50% efficiency still produces a LOT of wealth.
dynamicallyColoredRoad.png

In this screenshot you can see that a war in Bengal is choking the Silk Road passing through eastern and central India. There are also notable conflicts in the northern Steppe route, as well as minor conflicts in Egypt, Persia and Iraq.

Trade Posts now work similarly to hospitals - whoever holds the county controls the Trade Post (this doesn’t apply to Merchant Republics, who work like they’ve always had, even on the Silk Road). This means that you will want to hold as many Silk Road Trade Post counties as you can in your personal demesne. This makes it more fun to play as a vassal, as your liege can’t steal your Silk Road Trade Post slot just because you weren’t fast enough to build it first!

Silk Road Trade Posts are worth a lot of money, and they used to be destroyed first by besieging enemy armies even if there were other holdings in the county that were not yet sieged. This has been changed - they are still destroyed when occupied, but are now sieged last. This means that you can protect them with castles and forts, again improving the experience for whoever builds one. It’s now much less of a risk to build the various buildings Silk Road Trade Posts now contain.

The attitude of China might affect the value of the Silk Road - Plagues, Unrest, Invasions, Civil War and Famines decrease it, while Golden Ages increase it! Sometimes, China might decide to close down the Silk Road and turn inwards, though if you’re powerful enough - militarily or by controlling enough counties on the Silk Road - you just might be able to force them to open right back up...

All in all - it should now feel much more rewarding to control the Silk Road and the Trade Posts it contains. You will actively want to seek out and control the Silk Road, and keep it safe from raiders.
Socotra.png

The Emir of Socotra, with a Silk Road Trade Post in his demesne.
 

Kinkness

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I'd personally like to see the silk road expanded all the way to France, England, Spain, etc.

That, or at least see a dynamic trade system, as the years go on, the silk road expands, and moves farther west at key dates. So that during the last stages of the game, you have the classic trade routes along the north of france, Denmark, etc. through the English channel, and along Sweden, etc, as well as through all the Mediterranean.
 

Guriezous

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Will be there any other trade route besides the Silk Road? Africa really needs one in Nubia and another in Mali and Mauritania. And probably the Ambar Road too in Europe, at the very least.

Sorry for my English.
 

FMSK3E

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Silk Road Trade Posts are worth a lot of money, and they used to be destroyed first by besieging enemy armies even if there were other holdings in the county that were not yet sieged. This has been changed - they are still destroyed when occupied, but are now sieged last. This means that you can protect them with castles and forts, again improving the experience for whoever builds one. It’s now much less of a risk to build the various buildings Silk Road Trade Posts now contain.


Is that going to be the same for Republics's trade posts ?
 

Vityviktor

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I'd personally like to see the silk road expanded all the way to France, England, Spain, etc.

That, or at least see a dynamic trade system, as the years go on, the silk road expands, and moves farther west at key dates. So that during the last stages of the game, you have the classic trade routes along the north of france, Denmark, etc. through the English channel, and along Sweden, etc, as well as through all the Mediterranean.

Yeah, the trade routes idea is very nice, but Europe and North-Africa feel quite disconnected.
 

Asiak

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It's funny I really like silk road improvements.

But I vehemently disagree about your reasons for doing it.

More often than not, the Silk Road was consciously ignored by players as it was too much of a hassle to manage.

I refute that strongly. I know I only speak for me but not a game in the east or semi east didn't have been trying to take Antioch or Alexandria. And more east than that it was even worse. I would struggle over my demesne limit just for that trade income.

The new vision we have for the Silk Road is one where you want to control (and fight over) specific counties along the Silk Road

Why is what we did now?!?!?!? You're taking what was a strategic and compelling system and turning it into a more strategic compelling system. But this is what we do now. There are distance requirements to build the levels you have to find that out and then war it down and build it.

I fully agree / love the new flowdown effects with raiding and war because that did easily kill the whole thing.


And does this mean you've decided not to split Mecca into two provinces? Because I hated that change.

You are literally taking my future Mecca merchant republic run out back and shooting it. Assuming that one tribe to the slight north is still there.
 

Snake_Squeezins

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You and the team have obviously put a lot of thought into these revised mechanics, which look very well done.

But I'm still simply not interested in buying DLC which only affects the Eastern side of the map. I hope that there is future DLC planned that is either universally-focused or which deals with the Western side of the map. REAPER and MYSTICS showed that there were still great ideas you hadn't yet tapped into.
 

VoodooEconomist

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You and the team have obviously put a lot of thought into these revised mechanics, which look very well done.

But I'm still simply not interested in buying DLC which only affects the Eastern side of the map. I hope that there is future DLC planned that is either universally-focused or which deals with the Western side of the map. REAPER and MYSTICS showed that there were still great ideas you hadn't yet tapped into.
You forgot there are new Casi Belli which will be DLC-specific and available for rulers in any location, not just the East ;)
 

Faerillis

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Dammit Paradox!

When you announced this expansion, the choice seemed simple. Obvious really. Play Tibet, no two ways about it, play the new guys farm the achievements.
Then I saw the changes to Northern India and suddenly my desire to go through my Karkota playthrough (cause I like their Heraldry) and get My Very Own Subcontinent increased dramatically.
Then I saw the rework of the Middle East and my mind was torn between remaking my Zunist playthrough in Ironman and playing honestly AND restarting my playthrough as House Karen 769 to become an immortal Saoshyant in the new and restructured Persian Empire.

I had it down to four options. Four options and I viewed that as reasonable.
Then you added a proper trade post to Socotra. You knew what you were doing.

I'm now super tempted to use the cheesy strategies available to the player to go Ironman and swap the island to a Republic. A playthrough as the Dragonblooded Principality of Socotra (especially going Ethiopian Hindu for the amazing Raiding opportunities) is intense!
I actually tried it before and it honestly got super tedious because you were forced into playing Christian or Muslim characters in the region because you had no decent options for Mercenaries otherwise. But Chinese Mercenaries go far and are quite powerful, so things could really interesting.

So Devs
Any chance of giving Socotra (and Socotra alone) an option to swap to a Merchant Republic — since everybody loves to do so anyways — if you own Jade Dragon? It would add a lot of gameplay options in the region!


One way or another, it's clearly time to start working on my Gran Francisco AAR
 

aono

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That, or at least see a dynamic trade system, as the years go on, the silk road expands, and moves farther west at key dates. So that during the last stages of the game, you have the classic trade routes along the north of france, Denmark, etc. through the English channel, and along Sweden, etc, as well as through all the Mediterranean.
Actually, it can be done quite simpler - make "generic" trade posts less profitable and allow feudal/pagan rulers to build it.
 

Asiak

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Naughtius Maximus

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You and the team have obviously put a lot of thought into these revised mechanics, which look very well done.

But I'm still simply not interested in buying DLC which only affects the Eastern side of the map. I hope that there is future DLC planned that is either universally-focused or which deals with the Western side of the map. REAPER and MYSTICS showed that there were still great ideas you hadn't yet tapped into.

They're working on the most relevant parts of the world in the Middle Ages, what more do you want? Another Catholic biased DLC after 6 Holy Orders and the more recent Mystics DLC?
 

Damarrocarion

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I think the route passing central India is just representation of local trade routes, rather than making new unique ones. It also gives those places interaction potential with China.
 

luanmameili[LM]

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The Silk Road origin points are now north of Tibet, southern Tibet and via the ocean to southern India.
Will the Bubonic Plague come from the Bay of Bengal? And will it also strike China?