Having recently bought the new Paradox game Crusader Kings II, I have already managed to spend a fair amount of time trying to carve out a realm that I could rule as I wish.
The game itself is quite good — Paradox has in many ways overdone itself though I am not that familiar with the company itself. But here at least I am not with the objective to review the game, but more to review a game — given we’ve got tens of goods general reviews as is, I would hope that this try of a more specific one will be of interest.
So, starting in the December of 1066 (so that the Normans would have finished the conquest of England) I played as Ernst I, Duke of Österreich (Austria) . Starting out with one county does not seem very promising, and by now I have little indication of how I actually managed to get past that stage — but I have the recollection that as one of my first conquests I took over Venice. That might have been around twenty-thirty years into the game, certainly not any sooner. That conquest was followed by the assimilation of de iure Austrian lands just north of the county of Austria (Steiermark was taken over around two-hundred and thirty years into the game).
Titles slowly accumulated: Duke of Austria and Venice, then also Anjou and Normandy. Some time after that, I assimilated my first realm by marriage (Dauphine) so my holdings as the Duke of Austria spanned Northern France, Burgundy, Italy, and Austria itself. Crusades into Lithuania made another county join the Holy Roman Empire, the good and loyal Duke that I was. A different holy war in Sicily won me a province on that island as well as Malta, which was the height of my extent for a lengthy period of time.
I mentioned crusades — indeed, I’ve just recently seen my luck turn with those: before my current character to whom I will come in due time, I had led at least six unsuccessful crusades into Aragon and Castille to reconquer those lands as well as two to the Baltics (one successful) and one into Anatolia (failure).
In the beginning of the 14th century, I got relatively bored of the political situation (France was at no Crown Authority and getting destroyed by Muslims; England in constant civil war; Eastern Rome owned the Middle East; and the Holy Roman Empire at Absolute Crown Authority). The good and friendly Duke I was, I succeeded in two consecutive plots to lower crown authority, after which I kindly told the Kaiser of the HRE that I would like to rule in his stead.
And from that point — starting with Kaiser Simon I the Old von Babenberg, Duke of Austria — my dynasty has kept that throne. My present status — as Kaiser Adam III von Babenberg, King of Poland, Duke of Austria and Anjou — is a relative indication that things have just got better since the low-point where we almost lost Barcelona to the infidels (mind you, they already owned the entirety of western France). Indeed, three recent wars have seen the reconquest of Aragon, Gascony, and Toulouse — all areas now under the safe protective sphere of our Holy Roman Empire (which also includes Northern Finland, most of Central Europe, Southern Sweden, and Jerusalem with the adjacent areas).
All in all, a most interesting game, though I dare say playing as Emperor is hardly as interesting as I hoped it would be — only so many times I wish to kill my wife again in a plot after all.