I am not allowed to play Crusader Kings 2 any moreComplications Ensue
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Sunday, March 02, 2014

Some games are just too much fun.

CRUSADER KINGS II is a turn-based strategy game in which you play a succession of heirs to a dynasty. Your dynasty keeps going until you hit 1453 -- or, far more likely, it dies out. Having only girl heirs can destroy your dynasty. Having your rulers die before they have kids at all is entirely possible, too.

It is an immensely complex game. You have councillors. They may like you. They may not. They may plot against you. You have vassals. They probably will plot against you. You have neighbors. They will attack you when you're weak and suck up to you when you're strong.

You can play an emperor, a king, a duke or a count. You can try to build your count up to be an emperor. That's almost impossible, but a boy can dream, can't he?

I played the Bagrationi dynasty, rulers of the Kingdom of Georgia. My first three kings did pretty well, expanding from four counties to maybe a dozen. I took two Christian counties back from the Muslims. Some of that was the doing of the Dukes of Kartli, also of my bloodline, and therein lay a problem: they all thought they'd make better kings than I. They were always waiting to overthrow me.

Then my last King had only a girl child. No sons. Then he died of the pox, leaving me playing a 2-year-old princess. None of her vassals liked her: on top of being a minor, and a girl, she was also a coward. (All the characters have a slew of virtues and vices you can do nothing to improve.) The duchess of Kartli (the duke had died in my prison) forced me to accept electoral succession; then a cousin got himself elected to the throne.

My now-demoted duchess saved her gold up until she was 16, and hired four thousand horse archers to take her throne back. She threw the amiable usurper in prison and put her brother on the throne. (I forgot to mention:  seven months after the succession crisis, my deceased King's Queen had a boy. If she'd just done that a year earlier, there would have been no succession crisis.)

That was about four in the morning. CKII is as addictive as CIVILIZATION, another game I have banned myself from playing. Turn-based strategy means you can fuss endlessly; there's never a good reason to stop playing. (Well, had I kept playing, the Mongols would have swept the Bagrationi from their throne well before 1453. There's no beating the Mongols.)

But CKII is to CIVILIZATION as DARK SOULS is to SKYRIM: you will eventually die. The fun is in staying alive as long as you can, and doing as much as possible, with the game actively trying to kill you. You don't play CKII for the graphics. It is all maps, numbers and sound effects.

But I found CKII to be one of the most immersive games I've played. The game mechanics are really well thought out. They recreate the travails of being a feudal lord. You struggle to find councillors who are good at what they do; when you do, you can't always use them. I had a courtier whose stewardship, 16, was significantly higher than my current steward, whose stewardship was only 14. Unfortunately the current steward was the red-bearded Duke of Kartli. I really did not want to offend my most powerful vassal by giving some courtier his job. So he stayed on, and the talented guy had to wait years -- until the Duke rebelled against me.

I knew I wouldn't be able to get to sleep with the game merely paused. So I deleted all my saved games. And threw the app in the trash. And deleted the trash.

Now I can get some work done.

Wait ... that wasn't actually the app I trashed ... I think it was just the shortcut.

It wouldn't hurt if I played just a little bit more... would it?


This is not the rabbit hole you are looking for.... (I'm honestly worried if I really started gaming again like I did in college, I wouldn't get anything accomplished...)

By Blogger jmulligan, at 12:45 AM  

This is why I stay away from online games in general. The internet is enough of a time-sink for me as it is, even allowing for the stuff I won't be able to do without it.

By Blogger Dwight Williams, at 7:51 PM  

CK2's addiction abilities are immense towards particular personalities. I've quit gaming for one year now, yet merely watching videos on historical battles has triggered severe urges to pick up CK2 again. CK2 is unlike any other. I hope I do not give in!

By Blogger Quanxiang, at 7:40 PM  

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