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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Conclave Dev Diary #1

Hi folks, I hope you have all had a nice and relaxing holiday! However, just in case you didn’t, let me take the edge off your existential angst with some soothing talk about the next expansion for Crusader Kings II; a little thing we eventually decided to call Conclave...

As you know, most of CK2’s expansions have “widened” the gameplay by unlocking new regions of the map and making various religions playable. You can now start the game in widely different cultural spheres for a great variety of different experiences; “Fifty Shades of Dark”, if you will. Meanwhile, we have gradually improved the core gameplay in patches (e.g. the technology system), but rarely in any radical way. Whenever we did try to “deepen” the core gameplay in an expansion, it often turned out to be a mistake: The Retinue mechanic of Legacy of Rome should, for example, have been a part of the base game so we could have kept building upon it.

Even so, it is high time that we addressed some of the major shortcomings of the strategy game that underpins the RPG experience. In particular, CK2 suffers from a kind of inverse difficulty progression; it is hard in the beginning and easy in the mid-to-late game. This is a great shame, because one of the main points of the whole feudal hierarchy mechanic - the need to rely on vassals - was to make it hard to maintain stable large Realms. So, my first and foremost intention with Conclave was to increase the challenge of the mid-to-late game. This was the general plan of action:

  • Reduce the “positive opinion inflation” of vassals vs their liege. (We ended up cutting many important positive opinion modifiers in half.)
  • Highlight the most powerful vassals by making them strongly desire a Council seat.
  • Give the Council more power without reducing player agency. (You are free to disregard the Council’s suggestions, but this will have ramifications on Factions. More on this later...)
  • Introduce Infamy and Coalitions against aggressively expanding Realms.
  • Improve the alliance mechanic to make it a more intentional choice. (A royal marriage is now simply a non-aggression pact. Alliance is the second step, but still requires a marriage.)
  • Improve the diplomatic AI in order to contain “blobs” (with the help of the above Alliance and Coalition systems.)
  • Bring the military AI to a whole new level.
  • Make it harder to quickly win wars through one or two major engagements. (Hence, we reduced the bloodiness of battles overall, introduced “shattered retreats” and made armies reinforce in friendly territory.)
Crusader Kings II - Conclave - Obligations.jpg


Thus, the features of Conclave and the accompanying patch are a combination of internal and external measures to make blobbing harder. This intention had ripple effects on other mechanics. For example, malcontents now tend to gang up into fewer but more powerful Factions, and we reworked the Law Screen while we were adding the new Council Power laws.

Crusader Kings II - Conclave - Council.jpg


We also took this opportunity to address an unrelated weakness in the game, namely the education of children. If you have the expansion, that whole experience should now be more interesting…

That’s all for now, stay tuned for the details!
 
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So basically the mechanics of CK2+ and HIP made their way here.
 
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Whenever we did try to “deepen” the core gameplay in an expansion, it often turned out to be a mistake: The Retinue mechanic of Legacy of Rome should, for example, have been a part of the base game so we could have kept building upon it.

That's a shame, I wish retinue could be made better or/and expanded. I won't mind making it part of regular game, I am sure most of community will be fine too.
 
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I actually really enjoy a stable empire, I know many disagree and like things to fall apart to build them back up again. Will it be easy to mod to keep a stable empire that gets large?
 
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Lookin' good
 
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Wait, we can't force vassals to contribute large portion of both troops and cash at once any more? WHY, DEVS, WHY?
 
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I actually really enjoy a stable empire, I know many disagree and like things to fall apart to build them back up again. Will it be easy to mod to keep a stable empire that gets large?
Since you can already mod, that realms get instable and shatter you can probaly also mod them stable. Just improve the opinion modifieres again for example.

To the DLC/Patch itself: Since I was personally disappointed with the last DLC and patch (I for one had even greater perfomance hits after patch, and didn't link the horde mechanics) I am much more reserved for this patch.
Still looking forward to it, but no Fanboy-like instant buy this time.
 
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So basically the mechanics of CK2+ and HIP made their way here.

First thing that came to my mind when I saw the "reduced opinion boosts" line, and the obligation screen.

I actually really enjoy a stable empire, I know many disagree and like things to fall apart to build them back up again. Will it be easy to mod to keep a stable empire that gets large?

I think you can get a large, stable empire even with Conclave. It just requires investment and more work.
 
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Emre Yigit

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Jolly good. Do I infer correctly from the first screenshot that vassals will now give either money or troops but not both (unless the bias either way is relatively low)?
 
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Could you change the "marital non-aggression pact" into a "marital defensive alliance"?
 
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I wonder if we'll be able to appease powerful vassals with a honorary title
 
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I'm still not liking that colaitions are formed against Realms. If the King of Bohemia, a HRE vassal is on a conquest Spree shouoldn't the coalition form against him, not the HRE. And tying it to Realm means vassals have no part of it, while on the contrary vassals would very much like to try to contain Rising Powers (within and outside the Realm) they worry about.
 
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Tufto

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Looks great thus far :D I've been wanting a stronger, more politically-involved council for a long time. Too often they're just a blur of easily-replaceable faces.

Still a tad concerned about Coalitions, though...
 
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Thure

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That's a shame, I wish retinue could be made better or/and expanded. I won't mind making it part of regular game, I am sure most of community will be fine too.

The problem is... many people did buy LoR only because of retuines. If they now move this feature into the base game... I'm sure there will people complaining 'I paid 15 bucks for this sh*! And now everyone get it for free, a*holes?!' or something like this :D
 
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GothicEmperor

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I'm very interested to see what will be in the patch and what will be in the DLC. Children's education's very likely to be in the DLC, but I'm not so sure about the rest.
 

Pyramid_Head

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Shouldn't "addressing some of the major shortcomings" be called Patch, instead of DLC?
 
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ashandresash

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I really like the plan behind Conclave. The more you're worried about your vassals rather than other realms (except when blobs are involved), the more feudal-ish it'll be.

I'm looking forward to improving and developing factions... and I love new interface windows and tabs ;)
 
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Voigt

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I personally bought LoR because of Rome ^^
New events, possibilty to reform the empire and so on. But yeah even if lot's of people would say they would be ok with moving retinues to the basegame, Paradox still probably wouldn't do it
There is still the silent majority, who doesn't read the forum and could get pissed, also there are probably some legal pitfalls.
 
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