Having trouble getting a handle on the game

Having trouble getting a handle on the game

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Spikee78

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Hi,

As the title says, I find it hard to get into the game, because of multiple reasons:

  • The tutorial covers the UI basics, not the actual game. Sure, this game is way too complex to cover that, but that also means you have no real idea on how the mechanics work

  • There's no easy way to find a starting character as actual stats are not shown until in game (only skills, which give an indication, but ...)

  • There's just way too much happening at the same time, hard to keep track
    • There's too much war going on, likely realistic, but it's hard to follow what's happening
    • Most of the time I have no clue who's fighting who and where they are
    • I have no clue what I need to do to reach 100% war score in large battles. I capture the capital, defeat the troops but often war score just goes down over time anyway
  • Intrigue just doesn't seem to be very worthwhile. 1st line could work, but that's usually your children/heir anyway. 2nd and 3rd, by the time you're 1st in line there's a whole bunch of new heirs jumping in front of you. Doesn't really pay off imho (I definitely could be doing this wrong).

  • I have no idea what to do with newly gained titles. As you have 0 control over them, you don't see the actual value, so you may be giving away your best titles without even realising it. What the benefits of 'You can create a new title' is also isn't very clear. No idea what the consequences are of that and if I should even do it.

  • I have no idea what determines the number of holdings you can have. Also, what if my ruler has an 8 holding limit and dies, my heir has only 3, how do I raise the number of holdings? And, tying in with the previous point, how do I rearrange the leftovers without getting that warning that says you will lose a vassal on your death?

  • Overal weirdness:
    • The info you get before declaring war doesn't seem very reliable: I tried playing as Umayyad, I have 2500ish troops, I attack a small region with only 262, they don't have any allies (or thats what the info says). As soon as I'm at war, I get a 6K West Francia stack attacking me.
    • I just started the game, I have 4/3 holdings, so I give the title that earns me the least way. Then it says I have 3/4 o_O
  • The game just likes to kick you when you're down. If your troops are somewhere far off fighting, you can bet a peasant revolt happens that is over way before your troops get back.

I can arrange/manage small victories, but the game is just way to overwhelming to get a proper handle on without more information.

Advice on my individual points would be great, but since that's a lot, any in depth into the game in general would especially be appreciated. Even the very long Youtube guides on this game barely scratch the surface of how deep this game is.
 
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DeadEyeTucker

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Well, first, welcome to Crusader Kings!

  • The tutorial covers the UI basics, not the actual game. Sure, this game is way too complex to cover that, but that also means you have no real idea on how the mechanics work

  • There's just way too much happening at the same time, hard to keep track
    • There's too much war going on, likely realistic, but it's hard to follow what's happening
Yeah, the game can definitely be confusing to get into at first. CK2 took me a while to get the hang of. I find CK3's tooltips to be really helpful in describing some of the mechanics as well as the little tutorial pop ups for certain big items. There's also the wiki and of course the forums! I can't recommend any YouTubers yet, as Arumba was who I learned CK2 from and AFAIK isn't playing CK3 yet. I can't speak for how well the tutorial does for teaching the mechanics as I brought a lot of knowledge with me from CK2.

I have no clue what I need to do to reach 100% war score, I capture the capital, defeat the troops but often war score just goes down over time anyway
Winning battles, occupying castles, taking hostages, occupying the castle, and occupying the wargoal should all contribute to your warscore. If you capture the ruler of your war target, it's an instant 100% warscore. Occupying the wargoal gives you ticking warscore, but that can be tricky to determine, I haven't seen anything in game yet that highlights the wargoal provinces. If it's a war over a specific county or duchy, then occupying said county or duchy should start generating warscore. If you do not occupy the wargoal, your warscore will slowly tick down over time.


Intrigue just doesn't seem to be very worthwhile. 1st line could work, but that's usually your children/heir anyway. 2nd and 3rd, by the time you're 1st in line there's a whole bunch of new heirs jumping in front of you. Doesn't really pay off imho (I definitely could be doing this wrong).
I am still learning this one myself, but intrigue can be powerful if you go down the right trees. When focusing on intrigue, try to get hooks everywhere you can. If you're trying to murder your way into land, I suggest educating your daughters into intrigue and try to use them as agents in targets' courts. It can be tricky getting them there, but it can work. Be on the lookout for high intrigue females you can recruit as well.


I have no idea what to do with newly gained titles. As you have 0 control over them, you don't see the actual value, so you may be giving away your best titles without even realising it.
Do you mean newly gained titles from war? If you're under your domain limit, keep them! Raise control with your marshall there. If they're titles that you inherited, again keep them if you're under your domain limit. If you're over your domain limit and it's not land you care to own, give them to loyal vassals or family members. If they're duchy titles, try to only keep 2, as above 2 duchy titles your vassals tend to get pissy. If they're not titles you care to have, and there's no one fitting to grant them to, you can always destroy them as well.


I have no idea what determines the number of holdings you can have. Also, what if my ruler has an 8 holding limit and dies, my heir has only 3, how do I raise the number of holdings? And, tying in with the previous point, how do I rearrange the leftovers without getting that warning that says you will lose a vassal on your death?
Every 5 points in Stewardship increases your domain limit. You also get base domain limit from rank. There is I think one innovation in each era that will give you +1 to domain limit. Architect tree I think (middle stewardship tree) has a perk that gives +2 to domain limit. I think Christians get +1 domain from the religion holding Rome. There's also a Dynastic Legacy perk that gives you domain limit. If you're trying to get quick increases to it, put your wife on boosting Stewardship. If you're worried about your heir, try to give him a stewardship education.

So far my favorite start has been the Duke of Munster in 1066. In a good position to conquer all of Ireland within one lifetime and only about 2 potential threats (Scottland and England/Norway). If you have any further questions or advice/tips on certain aspects, feel free to ask!
 
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Kinkness

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As a long CK2 player, who still plays Ck2, and plays CK3 to more role-play etc, be happy you're not playing CK2 lol.

That being said, I'll help you out with suggestions to help you get into the game more, despite CK3 really being a puppy that just wants to please you compared to CK2, is like a rotweiler you're trying to beat off with a stick at every turn, that's not to say there aren't certainly some learning difficulties with CK3 for new people, and it can be pretty overwhelming at first.
-----------------------------

* You're right about the tutorial.

* Stats for every single character is randomly generated in 99% of the situations. Everything from base stats, to personality traits, and even if they're married and how many kids they may have. (The only exception to marriage and kids is the highlighted rulers when you first pick a starting year, but their stats will still be randomized).

Play what you want to play, and if you feel like you got a REALLY bad roll on stats, then simply restart the game with the same ruler.

That being said, regardless of how bad of a "roll" you get with RNG, you can always make it work for you.

* Don't worry about too much when you first start. Just worry about your internal problems. Nearby vassal getting uppity? ignore it. Your king going to war? Ignore it. It doesn't matter. Over time once you learn the ins' and outs of the game, you'll be able to focus on more, and worry about more. (and even learn how to take advantage of it).

There is no real "victory goal" except to stay alive. That's it. Stay alive to the end date and you've won. So just worry about what you can worry about. That is the #1 key to learning, and mastering Crusader Kings, as even the best CK players will sometimes pay attention too much, and lose track of something important, and.. get punished for it.

Things to pay attention too:

1) Your vassals and if they like you.

2) neighbors directly touching you who have a claim on your land (They most likely don't, but over time it may develop through marriages).

3) Focus on marring off your daughters to powerful allies, and #1 and #2 become almost non existant, as you'll have a strong ally to support you. (Just make sure he isn't half the map away).


* Intrigue is far more than just trying to force your claim on a throne, or trying to force someone else. Most of the time those aren't worth the effort anyway unless you really know what you're doing.

Intrigue helps to keep vassals in check. Give you hooks to hold over their head if they attempt to start an uprising, or even get you hooks on your own king or liege to give you favorable deals.

Intrigue is actually overpowered, especially in CK3.

* As for the titles, I'm a little confused on what you mean.

You can double click on them to see where they are, (or right click and click the go to button). If you're still confused on exactly what the title holds, hover your mouse over the shield, and all the land in that title will glow on your map.

* Number of holdings is directly related to several things.

1) First and foremost your Stewardship.

2) Technology can raise this.

3) A few stewardship life skills can as well.

*

The game very much likes to kick you when you're down. (Not nearly as bad as CK2 though).

Many of your questions and confusions can be directly answered and cleared up if you just read the in-game tool tips... hover your mouse over words, and things and you'll see a tool tip pop up, you can then hover your mouse over any blue words, etc. to get even more details on specific mechanics, what certain words mean, etc.
 
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prismaticmarcus

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take your time. don't panic. pause is your friend.
 
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GeneralZaphod

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You are not alone. It took me a good 40 hours of play to even be comfortable, and another 100+ to get "good" at it. I think it was worth the effort. I can safely assure you that every one of your points of confusion will become clear with time. I had a lot of the same issues, and now I see that all of this is actually made very clear by the game as long as you understand how to use the interface, and understand the mechanics of the game.

I think the hardest part of the game to understand is titles. There are lots of posts about it out there, and it take a serious amount of time to really understand it all. It would take a lot of effort to give you all the details, but let me give you some tips:
  1. Make sure you understand your domain vs. your realm. Your domain is stuff your person owns and you get income from. You really only own castles. The cities and churches belong to low noble and you just get a share of the take. When building, just spend your money on your castle holdings. Get to know the progression of De Jure and how all the titles from Barron to Emperor works. There is lots of info out there on it, and experience will get you there, it just takes time and effort.
  2. Your domain size limit is important to stay under. If it is 9/9, keep 9 counties/castles. The penalty of going over is bad. Simply evaluate which of your holdings generates the least levies, or gold in the Domain tab under Realm (you will use this a lot) and do a grant title to someone. For early play, just grant it to anyone, but I usually prefer somebody who has no title already because you don't want them to be too powerful. However there are arguments in the other direction on that too.
  3. You will note that when you win a war and get a county or three it doesn't incur the penalty until after a year has passed, so you have a year to do the granting. Unfortunately you don't know how many levies or gold it generates until after that year has passed (don't like that) so if you are over your limit, you will have to make guesses based on what is in the castle itself, and also how much "stuff" is in the rest of the county to decide if you want to get rid of the new, or an older holding.
  4. I used to focus on keeping holdings in the same duchy, but realized that only matters if you want to build the Duchy buildings. For instance, you get up to a 20% boost on the whole duchy with the tax office, but honestly I would rather have a county that generates 10 gold in another duchy than boost my 3 gold county to 3.6 gold. I usually just keep the best counties regardless of where they are.
  5. You can have 2 duchies. Just keep the ones you believe are best. I usually keep my hold duchy, and then just the one with the most development after that.
  6. King titles can be kept without penalty, and I usually do until I exceed my vassal limit, then I dole them out. Once you do, you can give it to a Duke. It honestly doesn't matter who for the most part, and the only thing I usually care about is making sure I keep the balance of power pretty even. You don't want too many dukes or kings in the early game because when you die, there are more to pay off to get them out of factions, but late game it is easy to manage this, or at least much easier.
  7. Succession is important to understand. You will lose holdings if you are not careful. Get to know succession laws and know it will take many many years to change them. At first you will need to do things like disinherit sons to be sure all holdings go to one son (or daughter). There are other tricks too, like if you have two sons, sometimes you can create a king title, and the other son will simply get that lone title (I think you need high partition for that to work). Try to keep your holdings if possible, but don't fret too much if you lose stuff at some point, you will get more through war.
  8. Keep attacking, but watch your "offensive war" penalty that you can see when you hover over a vassal's opinion of you. This can get large if you war too much. It won't be an issue in the early game to any major degree.
  9. When you die, host a feast, watch your factions and watch the factions (ignore the rabble factions, just watch the vassals). If one gets large, and they will, pay off the most powerful. You can also pay the ones that have the higher opinion of you in hopes they leave the faction with a high enough opinion of you. You only have to get the faction so they don't have enough power to declare war or make demands. Don't be afraid to cave to demands if you can't win a war. Often you can win those wars. Sway people constantly focusing on the most powerful first. If you have diplo track, use the befriend skill. Don't be afraid to change lifestyles mid game. I often switch between my favorite tracks within each branch picking one track to do from several different lifestyle groups. I don't think any one is better than the other, however diplo makes it easier to keep rebellions down. Stewardship is best for larger holdings and more gold. Military is best for power obviously, and I like learning a lot because it has a lot of valuable boosts.
Anyway, that is enough for now. Hope there was a bit of help in there somewhere. There is just too much to know to type it all out.
 
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Prins Valiant

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Welcome!

One of the things that makes this game different from others, is that it kind of not have any clear "goal". OK, there's a mechanic for building legacy, but you'll not see many posts here "boasting" of high scores. Thing is, you can kind of set your own goal like for instance become king of Ireland. Then just take it from there. Your first playthroughs will be full of mistakes and errors, but that's OK. The victories will be all the sweeter.

For instance, you don't need to focus on intrigue at all. My guess is that after "mastering" for instance warfare, you'll suddenly decide that on your next game, you will try to "succeed" through intrigue.

  • Overal weirdness:
    • The info you get before declaring war doesn't seem very reliable: I tried playing as Umayyad, I have 2500ish troops, I attack a small region with only 262, they don't have any allies (or thats what the info says). As soon as I'm at war, I get a 6K West Francia stack attacking me.
There are glitches and bugs, but I must say, most often when what you describes here happens, it is because something you have overlooked. (Trust me, I have screamed at my screen: Where the H*** did they come from!). My guess is that the dude you attacked had a lot of gold and hired mercenaries. Consider saving before you go to war. I think that's perfectly OK when you are learning the game. If you attack because you think he has 265 men, but then suddenly some rule you didn't know about gives him 6K more. Go back to save, and make another plan... It's a good way of learning what happens, and still play a funny campaign.
  • Overal weirdness:
    • I just started the game, I have 4/3 holdings, so I give the title that earns me the least way. Then it says I have 3/4 o_O
Yes, this happens (also to other stats). I don't know why, but it is because of how and when calculations are done. Some of them seems to require that the game runs for at least a few in-game days. Your example could for instance be that you somehow increased your stewardship so you "just" reached the threshold for +1 domain limit, but that wasn't calculated while on pause. Also 1 over domain limit is something you probably can live with :)

  • The game just likes to kick you when you're down. If your troops are somewhere far off fighting, you can bet a peasant revolt happens that is over way before your troops get back.
Yes, this is deliberate, and actually not unrealistic. Your angry peasants will try to revolt when they think you are weak because that's their chance. Don't be surprised if that jealous count next doors suddenly also attacks yours well... Be sure to use the same tactic when YOU attack your more powerful neighbors :)
 
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Spikee78

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Hi all, thanks for the in depth information!

A specific example of what I mean on how difficult it is to gauge opponent strength:

Capture.PNG


On paper I shouldn't lose this if I'm careful, in reality this battle is done before it starts. The 3055 mentioned is actually more like 5,5K. Which easily crushes my army. Especially since it takes ages for my allies to actually go to the target, although they aren't that far away. Some are even pretty close. If this is a case of mercenary armies being added, its not fair, because I am not even close to having enough money to gete even the smallest band.

When my allies do arrive, they also get picked off really easily because everyone throws themselves upon the enemy one by one. Can you set a rally point for all troops (not just my own)?

All battles with the neigbouring regions are like this, very winnable on paper, undoable in practice.
 

Kinkness

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Hi all, thanks for the in depth information!

A specific example of what I mean on how difficult it is to gauge opponent strength:

View attachment 643278

On paper I shouldn't lose this if I'm careful, in reality this battle is done before it starts. The 3055 mentioned is actually more like 5,5K. Which easily crushes my army. Especially since it takes ages for my allies to actually go to the target, although they aren't that far away. Some are even pretty close. If this is a case of mercenary armies being added, its not fair, because I am not even close to having enough money to gete even the smallest band.

When my allies do arrive, they also get picked off really easily because everyone throws themselves upon the enemy one by one. Can you set a rally point for all troops (not just my own)?

All battles with the neigbouring regions are like this, very winnable on paper, undoable in practice.
Absolutely feel free to keep giving examples like this, and we'll be happy to help.

Without knowing exactly what's going on, there are several different situations which could cause this to happen.

1) #1 rule of Crusader Kings, whether its 2, or 3 you're playing is always always compare your gold to each other as well. NPCs usually won't hesitate to start pulling mercenaries with gold when need be, if they are losing, or are weaker at the start of a war.

This is most likely what happened. He saw he was weaker, and knew he had the gold to fund some mercenaries, that's why his power jumped from 3 to 5k.

Just like you'd need to do in real life, you need to save up a "war chest" so to speak. Money not only to pay your army upkeep costs, but enough to fund potential mercenaries if you start taking a few bad battles, get unlucky, or the enemy pulls out mercenaries themselves.

Generally in Ck3 I find if the enemy has at least 350+ gold they will pull mercenaries. (You can check the prices of mercenaries as well yourself to get a general idea of what they might be able to pull at what gold they have).

2) He married off a daughter in haste to land a favorable ally for the war. (You'll easily be able to tell this, as someone who wasn't originally on the list of members in the war will suddenly appear.

3) Someone close to him offered to help him in the war. (This happens very VERY VERY rarely, almost never, but can happen).

---------------------------

Generally you need to treat war much like you would in real life.. It's a very risky business, and war is very costly in more ways than just gold, and all's fair when it comes to war as well. They got more money? to bad, they won with mercenaries. Fair is fair when you're threatening their lives, and lands.

Tips for warring in CK2 for beginners.

1) Make sure you of course, have more manpower than them, and more allies.

2) Be sure you have more gold than them, and that your gold can support your troops for an extended period of time.

3) try to pick favorable moments to declare war. Such as when they enter a war themselves, or are weak after just finishing one. Just because you have a cassus belli doesn't mean you have to use it right away. SOmetimes I'll get a Casus Belli and then sit on it for 30 years until its a favorable moment to push it in war, or use the claim to push it in other ways. Sometimes its just never a good time, and you need to let it go. It's better to lose a claim, than lose your kingdom.
 
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There’s been plenty of advice given here already and it’s all good. I’m not that good at this game yet so can’t add to it.
What i will say is I was where you where a few weeks ago. There’s lots of different mechanics and complicated mechanics and it’s an extremely high learning curve. So don’t worry about finding it difficult. It’s normal and it’s what makes it such a unique game.
Theres lot’s of you tube videos out there they do well to explain things. And they break it down in specific categories.
All I can say it will take time to learn. Play the game.Try things. Watch YouTube videos. Read the forum. Then repeat.
If you have a specific question post it hear (there’s some genius members in here that will always help you out).
Don’t give to. It’s a hard game to get to grips with but as you start to it becomes so much fun.
 
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There’s been plenty of advice given here already and it’s all good. I’m not that good at this game yet so can’t add to it.
What i will say is I was where you where a few weeks ago. There’s lots of different mechanics and complicated mechanics and it’s an extremely high learning curve. So don’t worry about finding it difficult. It’s normal and it’s what makes it such a unique game.
Theres lot’s of you tube videos out there they do well to explain things. And they break it down in specific categories.
All I can say it will take time to learn. Play the game.Try things. Watch YouTube videos. Read the forum. Then repeat.
If you have a specific question post it hear (there’s some genius members in here that will always help you out).
Don’t give to. It’s a hard game to get to grips with but as you start to it becomes so much fun.
Yeah definitely, I've played EU4 pretty heavily before* and, although of the same family ofcourse, CK is still different. That alone takes some getting used to. I'm at 20 hours now, as already mentioned above, that means I'm barely scratching the surface. I adore the historical context and I love the wide array of possibilities. Downside is that it's complex and takes a lot of investment. Guess save and load will be my best friends for a long time :).

* CKII as well, but I found that really hard to get into, as was mentioned. I'm already doing way more now than I was with CKII 75 hours in.
 

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Not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet, but if you're the sort of person who doesn't mind reading up on a game, the wiki is very helpful for understanding the core mechanics and concepts of the game, as are the tooltips, which link to the in-game encyclopedia. Additionally, as I see someone has already mentioned, there are a plethora of tutorials and playthroughs on YouTube.

My personal advice to a new player is to start with a large, well-established kingdom or empire, such as the Byzantine Empire, so that you're not at immediate risk of game-over. If necessary, don't be afraid to use console commands to keep yourself in the game early on - I'm not ashamed to admit I did that while I was trying to figure out CK2.
 
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My personal advice to a new player is to start with a large, well-established kingdom or empire, such as the Byzantine Empire, so that you're not at immediate risk of game-over.
I know that's also what the game promotes, but I don't think so. With large nations you also have large wars, many vs many, and that's the main thing I currently struggle with, managing that. I think for now I'm better off being a small region surrounded by small regions. Makes warfare a lot easier.
 
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Another specific case, I'm Lower Gurma:

20201018222217_1.jpg


I took the mercenary advice to heart, started with a 650 army enhanced with 700ish mercenaries of equal quality. I'm attacking Mamprusi, which is supposed to have 1500 troops. With my 3 allies that should be fine (1 not too large one on their side).

However my, by far strongest ally with 2150 troops, Kano is a no show (others as well actually) even though they're pretty much next door neighbours. They are in the war, but I never see any troops. Again the same mechanic as before kicks in and they outnumber me, while I'm without the promised aid.

What could be the reason for this and what should I do?
 
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Lot of good advice here.

I agree with you that starting with a huge empire is not a good idea. Start as a duke (or even count). Yes, there's the chance of early game over, but that's a chance to take. Thing is, it's a lot easier to have "control" of "everything". Playing as a vassal of for instance HRE can be quite fun, you then also have the "protection" of your liege against attack from foreign powers, but can work on growing within the Empire.

I took the mercenary advice to heart, started with a 650 army enhanced with 700ish mercenaries of equal quality. I'm attacking Mamprusi, which is supposed to have 1500 troops. With my 3 allies that should be fine.

However my, by far strongest ally with 2150 troops, Kano is a no show (others as well actually) even though they're pretty much next door neighbours. They are in the war, but I never see any troops. Again the same mechanic as before kicks in and they outnumber me, while I'm without the promised aid.

What could be the reason for this and what should I do?
You should probably "calculate" your winning chances without mercenaries. But you should have enough gold to rent them if you need them. Look at them as your insurance, not a part of the plan (unless you have a LOT of gold, and can use them both as part of the plan and as insurance).

It sounds like you trust a little too much in your allies. There are numerous reasons for them not showing up. It could be they are involved in another war for instance. I usually tries to only go to war if I think I can win it without help. I usually have allies and gold as part of the backup plan. If I make allies part of the plan, I know it's risky because they might not show up, suddenly have to leave to take care of a peasant uprising etc.
 
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Lot of good advice here.

I agree with you that starting with a huge empire is not a good idea. Start as a duke (or even count). Yes, there's the chance of early game over, but that's a chance to take. Thing is, it's a lot easier to have "control" of "everything". Playing as a vassal of for instance HRE can be quite fun, you then also have the "protection" of your liege against attack from foreign powers, but can work on growing within the Empire.


You should probably "calculate" your winning chances without mercenaries. But you should have enough gold to rent them if you need them. Look at them as your insurance, not a part of the plan (unless you have a LOT of gold, and can use them both as part of the plan and as insurance).

It sounds like you trust a little too much in your allies. There are numerous reasons for them not showing up. It could be they are involved in another war for instance. I usually tries to only go to war if I think I can win it without help. I usually have allies and gold as part of the backup plan. If I make allies part of the plan, I know it's risky because they might not show up, suddenly have to leave to take care of a peasant uprising etc.
Yeah, makes sense, thanks.
 
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Make sure you understand your domain vs. your realm. Your domain is stuff your person owns and you get income from. You really only own castles. The cities and churches belong to low noble and you just get a share of the take. When building, just spend your money on your castle holdings.
If you reform your religion with the right tenants, you can end up directly owning churches too, and they can make a bit more coin than castles. It is a trade-off though because the more churches and castles you own, the fewer counties you can own. But if you have a cramped start (or a lot of siblings taking your stuff on succession), it can be helpful to have those extra baronies. I think you can lease them out to a lower noble later.

But yeah, it's generally not worthwhile building stuff in counties or baronies you don't directly own unless you're overflowing with gold. My first game I wasted a bunch of gold on a city, not realizing I only get a tiny % of the benefit back. Mayors will eventually build up the cities themselves.

Some exceptions are the special buildings. Like the holy sites for Slovianska Pravda have a special building slot that gives you +5% renown, even if owned by one of your vassals, so long as the owner is in your dynasty. I built those for my vassals.

Your domain size limit is important to stay under. If it is 9/9, keep 9 counties/castles. The penalty of going over is bad. Simply evaluate which of your holdings generates the least levies, or gold in the Domain tab under Realm (you will use this a lot) and do a grant title to someone. For early play, just grant it to anyone, but I usually prefer somebody who has no title already because you don't want them to be too powerful. However there are arguments in the other direction on that too.
I gave them to random champions in my court at first, but nowadays I watch the succession screen and try to give them to my siblings who would've otherwise inherited a county I wanted. Especially since I had a tribal start and was stuck in Confederate Partition for a long time.

You will note that when you win a war and get a county or three it doesn't incur the penalty until after a year has passed, so you have a year to do the granting. Unfortunately you don't know how many levies or gold it generates until after that year has passed (don't like that) so if you are over your limit, you will have to make guesses based on what is in the castle itself, and also how much "stuff" is in the rest of the county to decide if you want to get rid of the new, or an older holding.
I think you can see the benefit right away. The problem isn't the domain limit, it's the control penalty reduces the effective amount you get. But clicking on the holding should show you income and levies. And the grant title screen does as well, if you hover over the title you're about to give out.

Succession is important to understand. You will lose holdings if you are not careful. Get to know succession laws and know it will take many many years to change them. At first you will need to do things like disinherit sons to be sure all holdings go to one son (or daughter). There are other tricks too, like if you have two sons, sometimes you can create a king title, and the other son will simply get that lone title (I think you need high partition for that to work). Try to keep your holdings if possible, but don't fret too much if you lose stuff at some point, you will get more through war.
You don't need high partition to split the King title, but the lower partitions will try to ensure the competing heirs have roughly the same amount of land as you. So if you already gave them a couple counties or a duchy in the kingdom you want them to inherit, you can get by without giving them more on succession.

But yeah, even if a bad succession happens, you can manage. I had a double-succession while defending against a crusade and multiple side wars, so for 50 years I was funding the entire Empire of Russia out of the county of Novgorod (directly owning the churches as head of faith helped here). Now I've bounced back and am on the verge of dismantling the papacy.

OP, if you're still looking for an easy start, I'd recommend Rurik in 867 ("Rags to Riches" I think). You start with enough land to essentially form a kingdom right off the bat, and you're tribal which is great early game (get lots of levies and gold based off your prestige, pay for men-at-arms with prestige instead of gold, raid neighbors for prestige and gold), which helped me figure out the warfare part. Eventually you'll want to switch to feudalism because tribal is locked to the first tech era and you'll want the siege engines/man-at-arms upgrades so you can take higher level forts. Meeting the requirements to switch makes for a good goal to work towards. Once you switch you'll have a period where you're vulnerable because you'll go from taking 80/100% of your vassals' levies down to feudal's 15-20% and everything will start requiring gold again, but it's been an interesting ride.

Something else that the tutorial doesn't mention, and that I wish I knew earlier, is you can change your character's culture and faith to match that of your capital's. When I tried the "easy"-rated Hæsteinn I kept getting wrecked when his son took over because France and England didn't like a Norse pagan on their doorstep. If I knew earlier I could adopt Catholicism, I could've avoided the constant Holy Wars from my neighbors until I had the power to actually stand on my own.
 
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Something else that the tutorial doesn't mention, and that I wish I knew earlier, is you can change your character's culture and faith to match that of your capital's. When I tried the "easy"-rated Hæsteinn I kept getting wrecked when his son took over because France and England didn't like a Norse pagan on their doorstep. If I knew earlier I could adopt Catholicism, I could've avoided the constant Holy Wars from my neighbors until I had the power to actually stand on my own.
Yeah, this is great advice! No reason to do it "all" in your first run. Sure it is fun to see if you can use Hæsteinn to make Spain or something into a norse, pagan bastion, but you don't HAVE to do that on the first run. Adopt religion and culture to make it easier. You can also voluntarily become a vassal of a big empire or kingdom to get that safety against foreign invasions.