I’ve played a lot of CKII but almost entirely starting as some Viking tribe. I always enjoyed their more “flexible” approach to war and the easy way with which they could raise funds through raiding, especially given their ability to navigate inland using rivers. I’ve had many games in which I’ve started as some Viking duke-equivalent, quickly formed a kingdom, then reformed the Norse religion on the way to forming the Empire of Scandinavia. It’s certainly fun, but I know there’s a lot more to the game and so much that I miss out on by sticking to this play-style.
I’ve also always been terrible at playing the relationships game. That is, trying to figure out who in my dynasty I should marry to whom to get claims on titles and such. It’s always sort of happened by mistake and I’ve capitalised upon opportunities, but I’d like to feel more in-control of this.
So this time I’ve picked Maharaja Balavarman of Mlechchha Kingdom with a 769 AD start. He has the Assamese culture, which only means that I’ll use the dynasty name as the realm title. He follows the Hindu religion which has a number of special effects, but it is the most militaristic of the Dharmic religions, which is helpful given my history with this game! I’m also able to convert by decision once per lifetime to one of the other Dharmic relgions; Buddhism for technological benefits or Jainism for stability. Useful!
I’m independent and on the eastern edge of the map. This gives me an obvious direction for expansion!
These posts will take more of a technical slant, walking through my decision making process and my attempts to tease apart the various game mechanics. I’ve always winged-it a bit in CKII, ignoring bits of the game that didn’t immediately make sense to me. Hopefully it’ll make this play-through helpful for amateurs hoping to learn more about the game, like me. Comments and questions welcome!
1st January, 769
Here’s the starting situation:
I control the dark green kingdom in the very top-right corner of this image.
Here’s the dynasty at game-start:
I have one (unmarried) son, Salambha, who is unsurprisingly my heir. Inheritance laws are currently elective gavelkind. I don’t like where that leads when I die (with my titles being divided amongst all of my children), so I’m gonna get out of this situation ASAP. Looks like I need to research Legalism III so that I can change my Administration law to Late Feudal Administration. This will let me choose between ultimogeniture and primogeniture. This might take a while, though…
In the mean-time, the way I’ve dealt with gavelkind succession is to limit myself to one child and hope it’s a good one. Salambha isn’t anything special, but children are difficult to get rid of… I might need to stick with him and hope I hit Legalism III before I die (I’m pushing it at 44 already). Luckily I don’t need to worry about having another child as I have no wife and no concubines. I will need to marry off Salambha, though.
One thing that makes the Mlechchha Kingdom particularly interesting is that no fewer than three of my counties lie on the Silk Road. This gives some great economic bonuses with boosts to taxes from castles, cities, and temples, and big boosts if I build trading posts.
Another mechanic of the Silk Road is that if a Silk Road province is occupied during a war, the trade will be unable to flow through it to provinces further west. Alternate Silk Road paths (the path forks occasionally) will instead receive increased income. Given that I’m at the eastern-most edge of the Path makes me the custodian of the route. Looks like I’m gonna be Mr Moneybags to the rest of India!
The immediate strategy is to build my economy. This is a very different play style to what I normally try, which is to immediately start conquering and expanding outwards. But that’s what I chose this leader for! I do, however, have a subjugation casus belli to use once per lifetime against other Indians of the same cultural group, should I need it. Given that I’m already 44, I can imagine making sure I use this before I die.
Marry off my heir
Salambha needs a wife. I don’t have a massive selection and none of them have any genetic traits my grandchild might inherit. I’ve chosen one with a higher stewardship (which, if I’m remembering correctly, combines with her husband’s stewardship skill to raise the size of the demesne), which is still only a measly 7. I get 3 prestige and a non-aggression pact out of the marriage, too.
Don’t press claims yet
I have a de-jure Ducal claim on a county just to my south, but I don’t think I want a war just yet.
I think my first priority is Legalism III, which means I need a lot of tech points for culture. The rate at which this progresses is determined by my Diplomatic and Learning skills. Since Learning is applicable to the rate of advance of all three technology types, it would be better to raise that. At present, my Diplomatic skill is 15 (pretty good) and Learning is 8 (meh), so a focus that raises my Learning skill could be beneficial. I choose the Scholarship focus to give me +3 to Learning.
According to the formula here, this should give me:
0.04 * (11 + 15) * 1.2 = 1.248 cultural points per month
From the same page, I think the total cost to advance two levels of Legalism is (assuming no AheadPenalty):
(100 * 2) + (100 * 3) = 500
So I’ll be there in… just over 33 years. Yeah, everything about technology is slow in this game!
To help speed things along I’ll send my Spymaster to some sufficiently advanced county to figure out some of their secrets.
Start boosting the economy
I immediately chose the “See the Realm Prosper” ambition, which means I need to see my realm stay at peace for 5 years. After this, all of the Realm Provinces gain a boost to Prosperity, which increases tax income amongst other things. Achieving the ambition will also boost my Stewardship, which in turn will improve my economy technology acquisition and my demesne income. Given that I’m going for a peaceful start, this seems like a great choice!
I can start increasing my income by building trade posts in Silk Road provinces and any extra cash into walls and towns. I’m initially limited in the number of trade posts I can build (just one), but improving my Trade Practice tech will raise this. To start with I only really need three (one for each Silk Road province) so Trade Practice II should suffice.