Paradox's latest grand strategy game is a great place to start, but it can still be intimidating at first.
By now, you've probably heard about Crusader Kings 3, the latest grand strategy game from Paradox Interactive. It's a game about medieval royalty and war, about watching and even participating in the rise and fall of vast empires, and about poisoning your terrible uncle who won't give up his claims to the county you want.
It's an intimidating game, and if you've never played a major strategy game before, you might be thinking something like, “Should I play Crusader Kings 3?”
We think the answer is a resounding yes, just read our Crusaders King 3 review, and we're here to help. This guide is intended for newcomers to Crusader Kings and the grand strategy genre. If you've never learned to tell your firstborn from the pikemen, you've come to the right place. Let's start.
your first game Crusader Kings 3 should be the new tutorial, which you will have to do the first time you start the game. If you need to pull it out again, you'll find it in the top right corner of the map by clicking 'New Game' in the main menu.
HOW TO START A CRUSADER KINGS 3 GAME
The tutorial will walk you through some of the basics that we will discuss in this guide. You will be placed in charge of the Duchy of Munster in Ireland, and your task will be to reunite the kingdom of Ireland. You'll be guided all the way through helpful popups, so don't worry.
However, if you're not interested in Ireland and want to go somewhere else, that's fine too. You can choose any one of hundreds of rulers to start with. Crusader Kings 3. For your first game, you'll want to choose one of the characters highlighted in the tabs you'll find on the map you'll see when you click 'New Game'.
They are given difficulty ratings, so start with someone marked 'Easy': King Alfonso VI of León (Iberian Peninsula), Duke Vratislav of Bohemia (Rags to Riches), Duke of York Halfdan Whiteshirt (Wrath of the Northmen) are all good options for an initial campaign.
The first thing to understand about Crusader Kings 3 is that you play as a real person and not as a powerful, omniscient force in control of a nation. Crusader Kings 3 is as much a role-playing game as it is a strategy one, and roleplaying as your character is crucial to getting the most out of the experience and deciding what to do next.
The second thing to understand is that there is really no 'wrong' way to play Crusader Kings 3. Failure is bound to happen, but as long as you have a living heir, you will simply continue playing as that character when you die.
Losing everything and having to go your way as a lowly duke can be as fun as becoming a great emperor. Just relax, watch what happens and keep playing your role.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF CRUSADER KINGS 3?
When you start your first game of Crusader Kings 3, you are probably wondering what your goal is.
Perhaps you've played strategy games before and know that strategy games have goals. Crusader Kings 3 doesn't really have a specific goal for you to pursue, so it can be hard to understand what you should be doing at the start.
Don't worry about the big goals just yet. For your first games, your job will simply be to manage your kingdom. There's a lot involved in doing this to keep you busy and it will serve as a perfect way to get a feel for what's going on in Crusader Kings 3.
At the end of the day, what you're trying to do is make sure your family, your dynasty, continues to the end of the game. Again, as long as your heir is someone in your family, you'll simply switch to that character when your initial ruler dies.
If you like high scores though, you're covered. By expanding your kingdom and establishing new titles, you can eventually rise to the level of emperor.
Your actions, no matter what your position, will sometimes earn you prestige, which is a measure of how famous you are. Earn enough and you will be exalted across the world, with your deeds echoing through the generations.
As you play, you will discover things you want to do. If you're playing one of the northern Viking tribes, for example, you might decide to forge the kingdom of Sweden and declare yourself king. You may decide to embrace a heretical sect of your culture's dominant religion and work to legitimize it, replacing the old faith with the new one.
part of the fun of Crusader Kings 3 is to discover these kinds of goals along the way, and you'll have countless opportunities to go parallel paths and pursue personal interests as you play.
PLAYING CRUSADER KINGS 3 FOR THE FIRST TIME
You've chosen your leader and now you're looking at the screen for the first time. You will start the game paused, time flows continuously in the Crusader Kings 3, but you can activate the pause whenever you want by clicking the button in the lower right area of the screen or tapping the spacebar.
Time will also automatically pause when certain important decisions are presented to you as well. So don't worry, you can handle every choice you have, one at a time, and take as much time as you need for each one.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the interface. One of the most important buttons on the screen, especially when you're starting out, is the Problems button. That's the plus-shaped colored glass button at the top of the screen, near the center.
Typically, it will have a number displayed, telling you how many issues you will have to resolve at any given time.
Clicking this button will bring up these items and you can click on any item in the list to get more information or go to the relevant screen to deal with it. Use this as a guide for what to do next, until you feel comfortable dealing with managing your kingdom.
The diamond-shaped buttons next to the Issues button are individual urgent issues, they are things that need to be resolved soon, or they will incur some sort of penalty.
This could include ending the game, so make sure you respond to them right away. Hover your mouse pointer over them to learn more about what needs to be done and left click to open the relevant menu screen.
You'll learn a lot as you play Crusader Kings 3, but if you remember to use the pause button and check the list of issues often, you'll be able to keep your kingdom and family well-run.
YOUR CHARACTER CRUSADER KINGS 3Read also
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Your character sheet contains a lot of useful information and you will use it a lot. You can find it by clicking on your character model in the lower left corner of the screen.
Pulling up will give you a representation of your character and spouse, if any. Immediately to the right you will see portraits of your liege and heir, if applicable.
Each of these additional characters will have a red or green number displayed over them, which represents their feelings towards you (hover over these numbers to learn about the reasons they like or dislike you).
Below the image you will see your name, age and dynastic coat of arms. Immediately below your name, there are a series of icons that represent your traits and characteristics. Going to the next line below, you'll see his skills these are, in order, diplomacy, martial, stewardship, intrigue, learning, and dexterity. You will also see your culture and faith listed here.
The area below this is your domain. A domain is the collection of lands you personally hold, while your realm includes these and everything else controlled by vassals. As you'll learn as you play, managing the balance between them is an important part of Crusader Kings 3.
Here you will also find the values of the various currencies of Crusader Kings 3 possess: fear, gold, prestige and pity. Beside them you will find your military strength. You'll also see the crests of anyone you have alliances with or are at war with.
The bottom row displays the titles you have claims on. Each of these shields and banners represents a title and can be clicked to open the relevant information panel.
Finally, the bottom area of your character sheet deals with relationships. Here you'll find clickable portraits of the key people in your kingdom, your family, vassals, lovers, and courtiers.
You can right-click on any portrait in the game to bring up a menu of interaction options for that character, so if you want to arrange a marriage or start a murder plot, this is usually the easiest way to do it.
You will inevitably have to fight wars and you might even kill a few people over the course of any Crusader Kings 3 campaign. But you can avoid a lot of that, and prevent the possibility of being murdered yourself, by keeping as many people close to you as happy as possible. Investigate the red and green attitude numbers on the character portraits.
Reds in particular are important because these people have some reason to not like you and if that number gets big enough they will act against you.
By hovering over the numbers, you can find out why they are upset and often find something you can do to improve their attitude towards you.
This is particularly important for your board members. Always try to keep your spymaster happy, for example, and you will dramatically increase his life expectancy.
HOW TO DECLARE WAR IN CRUSADER KINGS 3
So you got to know your kingdom, the big players in it, and most importantly, yourself. If no one has attacked you yet, you may be looking at the map and thinking about expanding. There are several ways to get stakes and titles in Crusader Kings 3, and war is probably the most straightforward.
Unlike many strategy games, however, Crusader Kings 3 it doesn't just allow you to choose fights at will. While you can raise your army whenever you want, you'll have to declare war before they can invade and start conquering territories.
To declare war, click on the territory you want to dominate and find the portrait of the person who holds the title. Right click on this portrait and see if the 'Declare war' option is displayed in color. If not, that means you don't have a justifiable reason for war, a casus belli.
If you want to take the territory, you'll need to find a casus belli, and as usual, there are a few ways to approach this. Some cultures and religions allow you to declare war almost indiscriminately, but for most European rulers, you will usually need a specific claim to the territory you are trying to dominate.
If the ruler you want to go to war with holds a territory that traditionally belongs to your house or forms part of a superior title you hold, you will have what is called a 'de jure' claim that you can use as a reason to go to war.
You can also go to war because of your courtiers' claims, so it can be useful to use the Decisions tab to invite new people to your court, after a while new faces will appear and if they have convenient claims you can recruit them and using these claims as reasons to start wars.
Once you have a claim that you're ready to pursue, right-click your target's portrait again and select Declare War.
A new panel will appear and you will see the potential enemy along with a list of casus belli you can choose from. Each of them will have different war objectives and costs associated with them, Holy Wars require mercy, while their standard conflicts over de jure territory often cost prestige.
If you don't have many troops available, work on improving your properties with buildings and upgrades. Options like barracks and training camps will increase the number of recruited soldiers that the property will contribute to your army, while other buildings will increase their quality.
Having a larger number of soldiers is always good, but you're in trouble if you don't provide some training facilities. Once you have a steady income, consider establishing some regiments of soldiers in the military guide as well.
They are professional soldiers and can bring specialized siege equipment with them, which makes taking down enemy settlements much faster.
If your culture is pagan or tribal, you can skip this process and make a foray. It's a decent way to earn some quick cash and prestige, and you can learn how to do that in our guide on how to hack in CK3.
Now you know how to go to war, but don't overdo it: your prestige level and rank limit the amount of territory you can control at a time. Even as emperor, you will only be able to personally control a small number of properties directly.
Keep an eye on your domain limit in the top right corner, this will let you know how close you are to your maximum number of direct memberships.
If you go there, you will need to find someone to whom you can grant additional titles, or you will suffer losses in tax collection and contribution collection. Also, it irritates your subjects and you are at a greater risk of factions forming against you.
Start small, grow gradually, keep an eye on the issues panel and use the pause key frequently. Get to know your character and try to think the way he would think. If everything goes wrong, just start a new game with the lessons you learned from your first campaign.
Once things really get started, you'll form bonds with characters from the medieval world of Crusader Kings 3 and you'll want to see what happens even when you face setbacks. There is no CK3 character creation screen, but you can adjust your appearance using the barber shop.
As you get older, you should also keep in mind that your character will die. But that's not the end of your game, as an heir will take the throne and you'll be able to continue playing as him. This is where the CK3 succession laws come in handy. The guide linked above will show you how exactly you can define and adjust these laws.
Above all, remember that there is really no wrong way to play, Crusader Kings 3 it's more about stories than counting victory points, and sometimes the most interesting stories come from defeats.
Crusader Kings 3 isn't as difficult to learn as it sounds and is infinitely rewarding once you start playing. The third thing to know is that you definitely don't need to know everything to have fun.
After playing a few games and feeling comfortable navigating medieval monastic life, you should try some CK3 mods or start messing around with characters using CK3 console commands.