• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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magritte2

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The basic concept of this AAR is that I'm planning to play a variety of counts throughout Europe, changing each time my ruler dies, and attempting to have as little impact on the game as possible. I am starting with Crusader Kings 2, version 1.06b, but the plan is to convert the games and play EU3, and eventually Vicky 2, and report on how the world develops over time.

Since my own actions will not be interesting to report and it's difficult to summarize everything going on in the world at once, my AAR will consist of chapters covering the development of particular regions. It will be more or less sequential, but the events covered in different chapters will overlap in time. Although it's mostly an exercise in seeing what the A.I. does when left to its own devices, I'll try not to make it too dry.

CHAPTER ONE: THE RISE AND FALL OF NORMAN ENGLAND 1066-1085

William the Bastard’s conquest of England began. auspiciously enough, with the capture of his rival’s son, Edmund. When the news of Edmund’s death in prison reached them, Harold and his children were livid, but their anger was no match for the superior Norman cavalry. After more than three years of bitter fighting, Harold himself was taken into custody.

Magnanimous in victory, William took a few prized titles for himself and his Norman compatriots, but left the Saxon nobility in England largely intact. Harold’s family members were permitted to retain their lands and titles, after swearing fealty to William…except for King. But though Harold was offered the opportunity to return to his estates as Duke of Bedford and Cornwall, he stubbornly resisted, and remained in prison.

William had only a few short months to enjoy his newly created royalty. The powerful family of Hwicce still ruled in the north of England, and William fell in battle with Eadwin the Just, Duke of Lancaster and Hereford. Eadwin and his brother Morcar, the Duke of Northumberland would remain independent in the north, flouting Robert’s authority, much as they had ignored his father’s. Robert was infuriated by their defiance, but despite earning the epithet ‘the cruel’ during his fierce campaign, he was unable to subdue the northern dukes.

Harold died in prison in 1074, but managed to strike at his enemy’s son from the grave. Shortly before his capture, he had arranged for his daughter Gyta to marry Philippe Capet, the King of France. It is suspected that she persuaded her husband to invade Normandy, just as her brother Godwin was rising in rebellion in the west of England. But Godwin’s own family was as divided as the land of England. His uncle Gyth, the Duke of Norfolk stood with him, but his brother Magnus, Earl of Somerset remained loyal to Robert, as did his cousin Skuli, the Count of Kent. After besieging Somerset and capturing his brother, Godwin committed the shocking crime of fratricide, having Magnus executed in 1082.

Whether motivated by anger over her brother’s death or some other motive, Gyta failed to persuade her husband to cross the Channel and place him on the throne. Instead, Philippe made peace with Robert after securing the lands of Normandy for himself. His hands freed to concentrate on Godwin, Robert defeated him easily. In a surprising show of mercy, he allowed Godwin to retain his titles but forced him to acknowledge his rule.

Much like his father, Robert had little opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his victory. Only a few years after squelching the rebellion, he passed into a coma at the age of 29, from which he never awoke. His twelve-year old son, Robert II. was proclaimed King in May of 1083.

For a time, young Robert’s regents were able to maintain control, even forcing old Duke Gyth to accept the boy’s titular authority. But before long, Godwin was again in open rebellion, this time plotting with some of the counts along the aptly named Saxon Shore. And this time, Godwin would not fail. He was proclaimed King of England in April of 1085. It had taken him ten years longer than he had hoped to regain his father’s title, but he had done it, at last.

The House of Godwin rightfully ruled England once again, and the lands were at peace after nearly twenty years of intermittent warfare. The Norman tide had risen and fallen again. All was as it should be.

Or was it? Dark rumors circulated about Godwin. He was reputed to have sold his soul to the devil to gain the throne, and it was said that sometimes the devil took possession of him and spoke through him. The land remained divided, with the of Hwicce family still in power in the north, and many Norman nobles still in positions of power in England, including Robert II, who remained Duke of Oxford and Kent.

England in 1085:



2012-08-10_00003.jpg
 
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Beelz

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This looks brilliant.
 

magritte2

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Thanks! Sorry I'm having technical difficulties with the screenshot right now. Got it fixed now to get the next chapter in shape.
 
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magritte2

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CHAPTER TWO: TURKISH TURMOIL, 1070-1080

Injuries suffered in the battle on the northern plains of Mesopotamia in January of 1070 earned Basileus Constantinos X the nickname ‘ the lame’, and the war itself was no more than a draw. Despite this, he might well count it among his greatest victories. His hated rival, with whom he had fought skirmishes in eastern Armenia for three years, the Sultan Alp Arslan the Just died in the battle, throwing Persia into turmoil.

The Seljuk Dynasty in 1077:

seljukdynasty.jpg



The sultan left behind seven sons, but the Malik Shah, was only fifteen. He was immediately sworn in as Sultan, but as is so often the case, the young Sultan’s rule is immediately challenged. His uncle Qawurd, the Beylerbey of Hormuz was the first to declare that he would not bow to his brother’s child and seceded from the Sultanate. He was victorious against his brother Ilyas, who was rewarded for his loyalty to his nephew with imprisonment in the dungeons of Tigris, where he died. Qawurd himself soon followed in death, leaving his son, Sultan Shah to carry on.

This rebellion was followed by still more, with many of the Arabic and Persian Emirs deciding that this was the time to free themselves from the Turks. Emir Badr I Annazid of Kermanshah, Djala ud Dawla Nasr Mirdadid of Aleppo and Mamlan Rawwadid of Azerbaijan. The more Malik was pressed by his opponents, the more armies he raised, and the more his vassals resented the young Sultan.

But such rebellions are not uncommon after a succession, especially when the new Sultan is young and inexperienced. For a time Beylerbey Estigin Suleymanid of Basra, Grand Vizier and initially the young man’s regent, used deft diplomacy to keep things from spiraling out of control. But he died in 1072, leaving a four year old son, Timurtas, in his place, and his greedy and ambitious regent, Timariot Bayezid, was willing to plot against Malik.

With Basra now on his side, the old Sultan’s brother Yaquti, Beylerbey of Mazandaran was ready to strike. He had argued for Malik’s younger brother Toghan Shah from the first, and assembled an impressive group of conspirators ready to topple Malik: Ibrahim Ghaznavid the cruel, Beylerbey of Birjand, Mensur Marwanid, Emir of Edessa, Ebbu-Abbas Shabakarai, Emir of Fars, and the Caliph Muhammad II Abbasid. Many saw this as a transparent bid for power of his own, and he soon imprisoned Toghan Shah ‘for his own protection’ supposedly, but continued to proclaim him the rightful king.

Some suspect that more maneuvering was needed by the fiendish Yaquti in order to keep the critical Beylerbeylik of Basrah on their side of the civil war. Timurtas died in an “accident” in 1073, and was replaced by his younger brother Mustapha. When Mustapha’s mother chose to leave for Tis soon afterward, rather than remaining to guide her young son, the wagging tongues of Basrah speculated that she had been implicated in Timurtas’ murder.

With the Sultanate collapsing before their eyes, still more vassals declared independence. Baha ud-Dawla Tahir, Emir of Sistan (who had rebelled against Malik’s father as well), joined by his kinsman Sharaf ud-Dawla Muqaylid of Mosul. Malik’s vassals were not the only ones who saw opportunity in the turmoil, however. The Byzantines declared a Holy War for Azerbaijan, and the Emir desperately called to his ally in Aleppo for help, while the Fatimids launched an invasion of the newly independent Emirate of Kermanshah.

In desperation, Malik reached out to his independent cousin, Sultan Shah of Basra. The latter was facing some problems have owned, having earned the derisive nickname the ‘Ill Ruler’, and decided that he was willing to side with his cousin, so long as he need not bow to him. Another cousin, Beylerbey Sehinsaw of Khorasan was one of Malik’s few loyal family members.

The Seljuk Sultanate in 1077:

Seljuk_1077.jpg

But despite his best efforts, and the tactical brilliance of Sultan Shah’s marshal, Sheikh Mustapha of Zermanyah, who captured two of Malik’s rebellious uncles on the battlefield, Malik was doomed. In January of 1079, he capitulated, and Toghan Shah, now old enough to rule on his on and free of his uncle’s confinement, became Sultan. He rewarded the uncle who had placed him on the throne with the title of Court Imam, and chose another key ally, Mensur Marwanid, to be his Grand Vizier.

In a pretense at family unity, he allowed Malik Shah to retain his lands and even made him steward. But he was determined to prevent his younger brothers from doing to him what he had done to Malik. Three of them were imprisoned, while a fourth, Muhammad, escaped to Khiva, where he toiled in obscurity as the Grand Vizier of the Bey of Kara-Kum. Only his youngest brothers were spared imprisonment…for the time being.

Having secured his throne, Toghan Shah turned his eyes to the man who had killed his father. He had been drawn into war with the Byzantines when the Emir of Azerbaijan had returned to the Seljuk fold. Hoping that a victory over the Greeks would bring him glory and persuade some of the renegade Emirates that they needed the protection of a Seljuk Sultan, he organized an alliance with the Mirdasids, Annasids, Uquaylids, and Hashimids. But after ten years of bitter war, they had not the strength and were forced to cede northern Azerbaijan to the Greeks.

By deposing his older brother, Toghan Shah had restored partial order to the Sultanate, but it was not the power in the East that it had been. The Seljuk family was no longer as respected as it had been, and was widely viewed as a dynasty in decay. It remained to be seen whether he could return it to the glory of his father’s day.


The Seljuk Sultanate in 1080:

Seljuk_1080.jpg
 
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Dovahkiing

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nice work, how long between updates on each region (because I want to find out more about Godwin's demonic pact...)
Anyway, it will probably be quite interesting to see what the world will be like in a hundred years or so, let alone in 1453 or 1820...
 

magritte2

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I'm not planning any set timing for regional updates. I'm just going to report whatever catches my interest. Sadly (from a narrative perspective, not for the English er Saxon people), Godwin didn't live long after becoming King so his posession had little impact. I'll probably pick up the story of England again in the 1120's when his son Wulfnoth the Great leads a crusade.
 

kaeim

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Very interesting!
I'm assuming you're using patch 1.06 and the DLC Swords of Islam? It'll be interesting to see how the Islamic powers develop in your game, in mine Italy, Spain and most of Russia fell to Islamic powers, all before the Mongols invaded!
 

tnick0225

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I always wondered what would happen in the world of CKII should the player not intervene in any major way. Should be interesting to see what the map looks like after the first 100 years.
 

Saithis

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There's always a disappointing shortage of Hands-Off AARs, so this looks like it'll be a lot of fun. I hope you keep up with it.
 

magritte2

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Glad to hear that there's interest in seeing what the A.I. does left to its own devices. And yes, I am using SOI. Sixty years into the game, I actually feel things are developing along fairly plausible lines historically. There are big differences, of course, but Malik Shah actually did fight his uncle Qawurt after his father's death, so it's not hard to imagine the Seljuks having a protracted and destructive civil war at that time. And if William the Conqueror had died young, leaving Robert on the throne, maybe the Normans could have lost control of England. For all that the chroniclers despised William Rufus, he seems to have responded pretty emphatically to every challenge to his rule, and I'm not sure Robert would have been as effective. A Fatimid attack on the Normans in Sicily and Southern Italy (next chapter) doesn't seem completely outrageous to me, either.
 

magritte2

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CHAPTER THREE: THE FATIMID JIHADS AND THE FIRST CRUSADE (1076-1095)

Despite its remarkable agricultural bounty and resulting large population, Egypt had largely been ruled by foreigners—Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs—for fifteen hundred years. Even when it had been independent, it had rarely been a great empire that struck fear into the hearts of its neighbors. The Caliph al-Mustansir I seemed an unlikely candidate to change that record. Up until he was forty-seven years old, he had been content to quietly promote the true Shiite interpretation of the words of ancestor, the Prophet. Although noted for great physical strength, he had not sought glory in warfare, perhaps because of the tragedy of his eldest son Mansur al-Nizar, who had died maimed and crippled at twenty-three. He was admired for his kindness and generosity to the poor of the Caliphate, not for deeds of military prowess.

But his ambitious mullah, the Wali Abdullah of Helwan, had other ideas. Seeing that the Seljuks were falling apart, he persuaded the Caliph that this was an ideal opportunity to spread the correct interpretation of the Q’uran. He declared a holy war to capture the territory of Nefoud from Emir Badr I Annazid of Kermanshah by 1079. He rewarded his friend Nuraddin Masrid by making him Emirate of his new territories, a titular equal to his two eldest sons, al-Majid of Alexandria and al-Mustali of Arabia.

Doubtless, the Christian world paid little heed to the change of ownership of a few acres of desert. But Abdullah had bigger plans. Convincing his humble Caliph that it was his religious duty to carry on the fight, he promoted a Jihad for Armenia in the spring of 1079. After a long struggle, Constantinople was forced to concede many of its eastern provinces—most of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Coloneia—to the Fatimids. The land containing some of the oldest Christian churches had fallen to the infidel.

The Caliph was not done. Soon after granting the title Emir of Armenia Minor to his third son, Is’mail, he cast his eyes westward. Abdullah pointed out that faithful muslims in Sicily were being persecuted by their new Norman overlords, and al-Mustansir agreed that it must fall to him to save them. The Zirids, Suleimids and Hammadids who ruled North Africa were not strong enough. He built a fleet and sailed to Sicily, destroying the de Hauteville’s utterly, and capturing most of Sicily and parts of southern Italy by 1089. The proud Norman houses of de Hauteville and de Normandie, rulers of wide lands in England, France and Italy less than a decade before, were entirely subjugated.

A disturbing lack of solidarity had been shown by the Christian rulers, confirming al-Mustansir’s opinion of their petty, venal natures. Rather than rallying to try and drive the Fatimids from their lands, Pisa and Genoa had descended on the Normans like vultures, hastening their demise in their hurry to grab southern lands for themselves.

The Fatimids in 1093:

Fatimid_1093.jpg


Emboldened by the success of the Fatimid Jihads, Emir Muhammad II of Seville decided to proclaim a Jihad of his own to capture the Christian Kingdom of Galicia. Galicia was already in dire straits. King Gomez had died in a suspicious hunting accident, placing his three year old son, Sancho III, on the throne, and Sancho Fernandez of Castile was claiming his title. Between the Abbadids and the Castillians, Galicia was lost in 1090.

Spain in 1093:

Iberia_1093.jpg


Pope Benedict X was deeply troubled by these events, worrying that a repeat of the great Umayyad conquests of the seventh century was on its way. The Byzantine bulwark in the east was faltering, the Catholic rulers of Europe had failed to put up a united front against the heathen, and now the muslim menace was less than a hundred leagues from Rome.

A strong response was needed. He decided to strike at the Fatimids in a place that had great symbolic meaning for Christians everywhere: Jerusalem. Declaring that it was God’s will that they free the Holy Land, he called upon all the rulers of Europe to crusade.

Many answered his call, great and small. Philippe Capet and King Malman of Croatia came with large hosts. The young King Wulfnoth of England sent his Marshal, Duke Oshere Aelfricson of Gloucester with a bevy of English troops. The of Hwicces in northern England, and most of the petty counts and dukes of Ireland and Wales vied with each other for the glory of fighting for Christ. Kaiser Adalbert the Good judged himself too old to fight, but many of his dukes answered the call. As the troops gathered an Italy seeking passage to the East, the Pope said that he too would fight for this cause. Convinced that no greater force had been assembled in Western Europe since the fall of Rome, Benedict set sail for Palestine, confident that God would bring him victory.

Five years later, Benedict would sail back to Italy a broken man. Once word reached them of what was coming, the Fatimids had been well-prepared. Every landing spot on the eastern Mediterranean was guarded and the Crusaders were never able to get themselves organized before being brutally attacked. Al-Mustansir himself, despite advanced age and infirmity, willed himself to lead his troops and they were inspired. The Christians were routed in nearly every battle. The Crusade was a catastrophe.

Al-Mustansir I was remembered as a terrible scourge in Christian Europe, the feared military commander that led the Fatimids to dozens of victories. But in his own lands, it was the man’s other side that is most remembered: his humility, charity, kindness, and wisdom; indeed, he was known as al-Mustansir the Wise. But however his legacy was viewed, there was no doubt that he had brought Egypt once again to the forefront of nations

 

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Very interesting start! As you said, things are progressing very differently from our world, but so far nothing too implausible. I'll be keeping a close eye on the British Isles myself.
 

Beelz

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Why does the game always turn Al-Mustansir into a saint? He let his people starve and sold priceless artifacts to keep mercenaries at bay. Doesn't sound so generous to me.
 

kaeim

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Why does the game always turn Al-Mustansir into a saint? He let his people starve and sold priceless artifacts to keep mercenaries at bay. Doesn't sound so generous to me.

When looking back at history, people always seem to concentrate on the good things rather than the bad. This is just another one of those things I guess.

A shame about the failure of the First Crusade, maybe the next Pope will be smart enough to concentrate somewhere closer to home where reinforcements are closer at hand. Should've concentrated on Italy, but what can you do when the AI looks around? :rolleyes:
 

binTravkin

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Excellent concept! :)
 

Nikolai

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Mr. Capiatlist

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I like this idea! I believe, though, that there is a cheat to let CK2 run in handsoff mode. Your character will turn into a big "?" and you can just watch history make itself.
 

Nikolai

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There is. I *think* the command is debug observe.
 

magritte2

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Thanks for the heads-up about the cheat command. I'll have to try that. I hope Paradox starts including that in all their games.
 

magritte2

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CHAPTER FOUR: NORWAY AND THE NORTHERN CRUSADE, 1071-1128

Young King Olaf III of Norway (1050-1102) despaired of matching the feats of ancestors, who had terrorized the shores of Europe. But while the Norse men were still doughty, the days when a few longships full of warriors could set down on the coast and return to their ship a day later laden with booty and thralls were over. The coasts were dotted with castles and walled towns rendered it too difficult to plunder, let alone to capture wide lands as the de Normandie’s had in England and France. Besides, the Church forbade taking fellow Christians as thralls.

He ruled a kingdom full of restless young men, but there was no space for more farms in his rugged land. Perhaps he should seek out fabled Vinland? He sought advice from his chancellor, Duke Orm Hogalin of Trondelag, andhis chaplain, Kare av Hogvalen. They both told him he should forget Vinland. Even if the stories the Greenlanders had told the Icelanders were true, it was too far away to maintain communications across the icy waters of the north. Instead, they suggested he look east, north of Sweden, to the wild lands ruled by pagans. Though these lands were bitterly cold and unsuitable for farming, there was timber, good hunting, and furs for trade.

And so, in the summer of 1071, Olaf led his men through the Kjolen into Lapland and easily overcame the tribes that hunted and herded reindeer there. The summers of 1075 and 1076 added Angermanland and Vasterbottom to his lands. His appetite whetted for more conquests, he declared a Holy War for Karelia the following year, but met stern resistance. High Chief Baeivi Guoladat of Kola Sami was joined by High Chief Baeivi Kemilainen of Kvens, and together the Baeivis beat back the Norwegians.


Norway in 1080:

Norway_1080.jpg


It was thirteen years before Olaf dared go on the offensive again. This time, he sought to make war for Finland, moving his troops by land along the Baltic coast from Lappland rather than trying to invade along the Artic Ocean coast. Although High Chief Mielus Hamalainen of Tavastians came to the defense of the High Chief of Kvens, Kola Semi stayed neutral, and over a period of three years, Olaf gained control of most of Finland, including southerly provinces, more suitable for farming, such as Savolax and Kexholm. The Kola Semi chief might well rue his neutrality, for when Olaf came for him 1101, there were none to defend him and Kola was finally in Norway’s possession.

Norway in 1105:

Norway_1105.jpg


The Kola campaign proved too stressful for the aging Olaf and he died soon afterward. The election of a new King proved controversial, as opinion was divided between Olaf’s weakling son, Harald, Harald’s older sister, Sunniva, Queen Consort of Svend III Ylving of Denmark, and the Dukes of Norrland and Iceland. Harald prevailed, but his rule was a short and unsuccessful one. Though he was viewed as both wise and devout, he somehow became excommunicated, possibly through the machinations of King Svend. In 1104, he died in a suspicious hunting accident, and his hunting companion, Ogmund Hagalin, Duke of Trondelag, was chosen for the throne.

After taking ten years to consolidate his power, Ogmund sought to extend Norwegian power in the east, declaring war on the High Chief of Bjarmia, Baeivi the Young in 1114. He did not live long enough to carry the war through, but his son, Arnvid the Noble succeeded in pressing the war, despite the untimely change of monarch, capturing still more of the coveted lands of southern Finland. In 1125, Arnvid declared war on the last remaining pagan chiefdoms in the North, extinguishing them in 1128.


Norway in 1129:

Norway_1129.jpg


It had taken nearly sixty years and four kings, but the Norwegians had conquered a vast territory in the north. Further expansion would have to come at the expense of their civilized Christian neighbors, but Norway was now strong enough that such expansion was not unthinkable.