Is there a most balanced start date?

Is there a most balanced start date?

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  • "Organizer" makes you go faster, it can be a life changer
Be careful with this one. Yes, it can be a war-winner. But if you have multiple armies all in the same county, and one has a leader with Organizer, that one army will get ahead of the rest and might be vulnerable on its own.

  • "Depressed is the best trait of the game" according to a friend. Because you can choose when your character dies. I find that a little extreme, but see next point
  • If you need opinion from someone, bribing is usually the easiest way
Did you leave out something there? I don's see any particular connection between these 2 points.
 
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"Depressed is the best trait of the game" according to a friend. Because you can choose when your character dies. I find that a little extreme, but see next point
The issues are:

a) Suicide can fail.
b) Most suicide options give you a hefty opinion penalty which is partially inherited by your heir (unless elective).
c) You're more likely to die earlier than you want than getting to the point where you want to suicide.
 
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Some additional comments: in case it wasn't clear, the suggestions to do a first game as Duke of Apulia and Sicily are the same suggestion. The first thing one does playing the Duke of Apulia is to take over Sicily (and make it your capital duchy - one of the best capital duchies in the game).

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  • If you don't auto-end plots, you'll have stupid amounts of micromanagement to deal with. Most plots are irrelevant nonsense of the form Random Nobody #1 wants to kill Random Nobody #2; just auto-end so you don't have to see that junk (and don't miss one of the rare important plots in the huge list of such nonsense).
  • I always have my Spymaster stealing tech in Constantinople. Scheming or spy network only happen once I've pulled even with the Byzantines.
  • Not sure why you have "Embargo - not recommended". If a Merchant Republic that isn't you or your vassal has a lot of trading posts in your provinces, an embargo war gives you a lot of money and generally isn't very difficult to win. It's also the way to clear the field for your own vassal MR once you have one. This is particularly relevant for the Kingdom of Sicily (Duchy of Apulia start), with Genoa, Pisa, and Venice cluttering your coasts and Amalfi as an easily acquired vassal MR you'll want working for you.
  • "Vassalize Pope for divorces to make money"?? Not sure what that means, but if you can vassalize the Pope you stopped caring about money (or anything else) centuries ago and can do whatever you want whenever you want.
  • "No titles to family"? I do the exact opposite. I maximize the number of same dynasty vassals I have, within the constraints of not landing children or women, and trying hard not to set up any easy inheritances where they can start to consolidate (the AI will sometimes set up marriages where that ends up happening, but at least that's a couple generations later - no need to make it easy on them). Powerful duchies in particular get same dynasty dukes. Benefits: there's a small same dynasty opinion boost; RP considerations (this is exactly what medieval rulers typically did); worst case scenario hedging - if you end up with a horrible ruler and can't avoid a civil war, having your own dynasty on the other side means that from the player's perspective it's a win-win. :p
  • "Ambitious vassals at the border" - does the trait actually make them more aggressive? In general you do not want Ambitious vassals, you want Content vassals. Large opinion penalty for the former, large bonus for the latter. Also, aggressive vassals are very much a matter of taste. My biggest annoyance with CK2 is that my border vassals are always going off and conquering stuff. I want very tight control over what land (if any) I'm conquering, and want to keep to de jure borders. So I try to make my border vassals as weak as possible, and try to block off my strong vassals from having an external border (example in Persia - I keep Hormuz as a demesne province so that the Satrap of Kerman doesn't have a land border with Oman, keeping him from rampaging across the strait (the Silk Road TP is also nice of course :D)). In hindsight another nice feature of Sicily/Apulia is that your vassals actually behave themselves - the only land borders are the HRE, the Byzantines, and the Pope. Good luck soloing one of those, AI vassal duke!
  • Retinues are "as soon as you can afford it", not mid/late game.
  • Adding to the "no heir as spymaster", think carefully about making your wife spymaster. She'll probably like your son more than she likes you and want to accelerate his inheritance. Marrying your heir to a high intrigue woman, then giving your heir land can have the same effect.
  • Since you have some entries about foci - Rulership seems to be bugged in the sense that the events very rarely fire. Good luck getting that Administrator lifestyle trait. Whereas you'll pick up the Hunter lifestyle trait almost instantly upon picking Hunting focus, and the other lifestyle traits generally don't take too long to get (bear in mind you can only have one, so choose your first focus carefully). A note about Business focus - the Tower or Maze event chains can be incredibly expensive. For a small, poor realm, sure, go for it, but once you're rich and powerful you really shouldn't.
  • I avoid having my ruler (or anyone I care about, such as a good heir) lead troops personally. Battlefield duels are extremely common and often kill one's character. Personal Combat skill level reduces this risk but never eliminates it. The state of the battle is not considered in the calculation - I've lost a ruler during a 10:1 mop-up battle before. On the other hand if your ruler or heir sucks but has semi-decent or better Martial skill, giving them a combat command can be useful. Ditto for troublesome vassals.
  • Related point - people die unexpectedly. Putting all but one son in bishoprics to secure the succession may be fine, but if that son dies, what are you going to do? I once had a situation where my ruler had two sons (one of whom had a son of his own) and seven daughters, but the sons and grandson all died. Fortunately I had been sufficiently cautious to do matrilineal marriages on the first two or three daughters, so the succession was merely not ideal rather than game over.
Going a bit further back in the thread, I just want to emphasize Aerotinge's point that "HRE is too stable and Catholics with new crusade is OP". Nothing you can do about the Crusade issue; either enjoy the OPness or redirect it to someplace ridiculous to amuse yourself. On the HRE front, keep an eye out for chances to kick them when they're down, since those chances will be rare. In my first game (Sicily) the HRE eventually settled into a routine of systematically stripping territory from every neighbor except me, limited only by how fast they could fabricate claims.

My preference is for 867 starts since there is no ahistorically stable superpower like the 1066 HRE. 936 might be OK too, I haven't spent much time there, and I don't know how likely the AI is to successfully form the HRE with Otto.
 
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Did you leave out something there? I don's see any particular connection between these 2 points.
Yeah, apparently. Or I reorganized my bullet points and got lost.

An occupied province doesn't qualify as your territory?
As far as I remember, no.
As you can see, sometimes there are things that are a matter of preference (for example: having poweful vassals or not? landing family members or not?). It may also depend on the situation or on your gameplay but there is no absolute winner.

I find that EU4 is more subtle (warscore for game peace) than CK2 but EU4 is "colder" because you don't play a "real" person, just an invisible ruler. Don't be surprised if some pop-ups are "wrong" sometimes. For example, if your character has the "paranoid" trait, a lot of "is there a plot against me?" pop ups will appear. Some may be wrong.
 
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StefanFan

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I always have my Spymaster stealing tech in Constantinople. Scheming or spy network only happen once I've pulled even with the Byzantines.
Always, even if you are a big kingdom? EDIT: Always, obviously. Until you pull even.
Not sure why you have "Embargo - not recommended". If a Merchant Republic that isn't you or your vassal has a lot of trading posts in your provinces, an embargo war gives you a lot of money and generally isn't very difficult to win. It's also the way to clear the field for your own vassal MR once you have one. This is particularly relevant for the Kingdom of Sicily (Duchy of Apulia start), with Genoa, Pisa, and Venice cluttering your coasts and Amalfi as an easily acquired vassal MR you'll want working for you.
https://prnt.sc/u8tkqe from this guide https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1455487649
"Vassalize Pope for divorces to make money"?? Not sure what that means, but if you can vassalize the Pope you stopped caring about money (or anything else) centuries ago and can do whatever you want whenever you want.
Mechanic is obsolete, as far as I understand you can't marry multiple times and get the money bonus. I forgot to delete that row.
"No titles to family"? I do the exact opposite. I maximize the number of same dynasty vassals I have, within the constraints of not landing children or women, and trying hard not to set up any easy inheritances where they can start to consolidate (the AI will sometimes set up marriages where that ends up happening, but at least that's a couple generations later - no need to make it easy on them). Powerful duchies in particular get same dynasty dukes. Benefits: there's a small same dynasty opinion boost; RP considerations (this is exactly what medieval rulers typically did); worst case scenario hedging - if you end up with a horrible ruler and can't avoid a civil war, having your own dynasty on the other side means that from the player's perspective it's a win-win. :p
The same guide said that giving titles to family who already have opinion malus towards you because of claims it's a bad thing.
"Ambitious vassals at the border" - does the trait actually make them more aggressive? In general you do not want Ambitious vassals, you want Content vassals. Large opinion penalty for the former, large bonus for the latter. Also, aggressive vassals are very much a matter of taste. My biggest annoyance with CK2 is that my border vassals are always going off and conquering stuff. I want very tight control over what land (if any) I'm conquering, and want to keep to de jure borders. So I try to make my border vassals as weak as possible, and try to block off my strong vassals from having an external border (example in Persia - I keep Hormuz as a demesne province so that the Satrap of Kerman doesn't have a land border with Oman, keeping him from rampaging across the strait (the Silk Road TP is also nice of course :D)). In hindsight another nice feature of Sicily/Apulia is that your vassals actually behave themselves - the only land borders are the HRE, the Byzantines, and the Pope. Good luck soloing one of those, AI vassal duke!
Yup, I don't want ambitious vassals, but if I have, the same guide says that they will turn outwards, especially if you have inner wars forbidden. But probably this is situational, as in your case, the Silk Road is something you want to protect.
Retinues corrected. Various other things corrected. I think :D
 

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You're going to hear/read different things from different people. It's partly due to playstyle preferences, but there are also other aspects of it.

* Age. Things have changed with various patches. CK2 has been around for a long time, and advice that was solid three years ago may be useless now.
* DLCs. They all change the game in various ways, some of them more than others. Playing with or without Conclave seems to be the biggest difference, as I understand it (I don't have it myself) Jade Dragon makes the list, too.
* Start date. A game starting in 769 is obviously going to be different to one in 1220.
* Who you play. Feudal Catholic king in Iberia, tribal Suomenusko chieftain, Tengri nomad, Byzantine Emperor. It may be obvious, but you can't play them all the same. Muslim or Buddhist really does matter.

And then there's the goal you're after - world conquest or roleplay, lazy Sunday afternoon or a challenge to brag about completing. Tall or wide, gamey or historical. I usually have several different play-throughs going at once and choose depending on what I feel like that day, because sometimes you want to be a minor count struggling to survive, and sometimes you just want to paint the map. A big part of what I like about CK2 is that it can be used for all those different things.

I... got off the point a little there, didn't I? Anyway - what's good advice in one situation may be bad in another, is what I'm saying. Flexibility is needed.
 
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Yeah, I also have a few campaigns going at any given time, and switch between whatever I'm feeling at the moment.

Anyway, a few addendums to the above:

-Spouse as Spymaster isn't necessarily a great idea, because a big part of your councillors' job is they add their relevant stat to your state stat. But! Your spouse already adds half of all their stats to your state stats. By making your spouse a councillor, the bonuses don't stack, so you get less of a bonus. (It's not useless, though, especially if you've got a small court and nobody else competent)
-Speaking of Spymaster, it's not exactly terrible to take them off stealing tech to do other things for a few months (even if it's the most useful long-term thing)--the temporary boost in plot power one of their other jobs gives can be really useful if you can't quite get above the 80% threshold for Plot To Revoke, for instance. And with Conclave, Scheme becomes a great blanket defence to extend your ruler's life if you think people are plotting against you but don't know who.
-If you want to avoid the hugely powerful crusades altogether, starting in 769 doesn't guarantee they won't start getting momentum back by 900-100 and on, but it does contain a not-insignificant chance that Catholicism will sink beneath the waves completely in the 800s. Still, that's one of the most played starts anyways, and it's actually great fun to explore the amazing full timeline through to 1337 this game has, lots of interesting moments in history there.
 
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I wouldn't recommend 769 as a first start (or 867 for that matter). Any pre-1066 start has the problem of over-powered Norse running around raiding and invading willy-nilly with event troops, which has the potential to end your game prematurely (and as an added wrinkle, Ireland is both tribal and vulnerable to Norse conquests, so you certainly wouldn't want to play there). And as noted, the combination of raiders everywhere and extremely powerful Muslim blobs in Spain means that Catholicism often collapses into heresy.
 
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"only" is a little too absolute to me but generally speaking, I'd agree. Different religion and different culture = negative opinion versus you. And you want vassals to love you^^
(or to hate you enough that you can make them rebel and then crush them to revoke their title but then, why giving title to the wrong person at the beginning)
 
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"only" is a little too absolute to me but generally speaking, I'd agree. Different religion and different culture = negative opinion versus you. And you want vassals to love you^^
(or to hate you enough that you can make them rebel and then crush them to revoke their title but then, why giving title to the wrong person at the beginning)
Thank you.
 

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"only" is a little too absolute to me but generally speaking, I'd agree. Different religion and different culture = negative opinion versus you. And you want vassals to love you^^
(or to hate you enough that you can make them rebel and then crush them to revoke their title but then, why giving title to the wrong person at the beginning)
Agree with everything here.

The only time I really give titles to another culture or religion is when I've changed culture and/or religion on my heir and want them to match his.

It can also sometimes be useful to have one Jewish vassal, because usually there are no landed Jews in the game, and then expelled Jewish characters will always end up in your realm, sometimes carrying artifacts and decent amounts of gold. :)
 

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936 feels like the most balanced and is probably the only start date I will ever use from now on. I used to like 1066, but HRE and France generally blob too hard for the AI to counteract them, and it makes the game unenjoyable to me.
 
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I wouldn't recommend 769 as a first start (or 867 for that matter). Any pre-1066 start has the problem of over-powered Norse running around raiding and invading willy-nilly with event troops, which has the potential to end your game prematurely (and as an added wrinkle, Ireland is both tribal and vulnerable to Norse conquests, so you certainly wouldn't want to play there). And as noted, the combination of raiders everywhere and extremely powerful Muslim blobs in Spain means that Catholicism often collapses into heresy.
All of which is only really a problem if you're playing a Christian character, but I guess most people do for their first game.

But yeah, 936 is probably the best-balanced start overall.
 
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All of which is only really a problem if you're playing a Christian character, but I guess most people do for their first game.

But yeah, 936 is probably the best-balanced start overall.
Viking raiders are a problem for Muslims as well, and overpowered Norse are a serious problem for most Eastern European pagans, as they ignore the pagan attrition penalty and tend to have more and better troops/stats at start. If they don't convert, you can expect most of the Baltic coast to belong to Scandinavian pagan kingdoms.

But more generally, I'd always recommend a Christian feudal as your first game. Even if you expect to mostly play pagans/Muslims/whatever, Christian feudals give you the basic mechanics without any weirdness (like the need to reform your religion, dealing with decadence, having to move away from tribalism, etc.).
 
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Viking raiders are a problem for Muslims as well, and overpowered Norse are a serious problem for most Eastern European pagans, as they ignore the pagan attrition penalty and tend to have more and better troops/stats at start. If they don't convert, you can expect most of the Baltic coast to belong to Scandinavian pagan kingdoms.

But more generally, I'd always recommend a Christian feudal as your first game. Even if you expect to mostly play pagans/Muslims/whatever, Christian feudals give you the basic mechanics without any weirdness (like the need to reform your religion, dealing with decadence, having to move away from tribalism, etc.).
If you absolutely can't let yourself play a Christian in your early games, I would recommend looking east and choosing a Buddhist feudal (or even Monastic Feudal) character. Duke Könçek of Qocho is a good choice, as is Gyalpo (King) Bhakra Shimsgon of Guge. Both are in 936. Buddhism has bits of flavor found in all sorts of other religions, but without the headache of religious heads, reformation, or the penalties associated with unreformed paganism. Also in the area, take a look at Cao Yuande of Guiyi. He's Taoist, which is essentially the religion for people who don't want to deal with religion. (When I played him, I quickly went Buddhist myself and expanded from there
 
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1081 back in the day used to be more balanced, as it curtailed some of the byzantine blob.
 
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