For the uninitiated, certain grand strategy games can feel daunting to wrap one's head around. Crusader Kings 3 is one of the top dogs of the genre as players are tasked with leading their medieval dynasty to fame and glory. Surviving the first few opening years, however, isn't always as straightforward as it seems.
Fortunately, understanding the base mechanics behind Crusader Kings 3 won't take newcomers very long. Following these simple tips, which also often apply to grand strategy games in general, will make the player's first run through the Middle Ages a breeze. With a little practice, sprawling games of this nature won't feel nearly as intimidating.
Save Large Funds Of Gold
One of the most important aspects of realm management in Crusader Kings 3 is the economy. Amassing a large stockpile of gold is essential for ensuring successful military conquests as well as preventing internal rebellions. With enough gold in one's pocket, it's possible to stave off even large disasters.
Gold can be used to bribe vassals, increasing their opinion of your character exponentially. Happier vassals mean less factionalism and revolt. Large gold reserves make it possible to recruit more regiments of Men-at-Arms, which are top-quality soldiers. Finally, a large number of mercenaries can be hired if one's pockets are deep enough.
Develop The Economy
How does one go about stockpiling gold? An efficient and stable economy is the surest path to success. When the player saves up a little money, invest it by constructing new buildings inside one's own personal counties. Focus on building projects that increase tax revenue to build up some income.
Characters with a Stewardship Lifestyle can acquire various perks that improve the economy of their realm. Vassals, particularly religious ones, are more efficient in handing over their taxes to a popular ruler. If playing as a Catholic ruler, be pious and ask the Pope for gold whenever possible. Lastly, prioritize Innovations that improve the economy to maximize profits.
Be Loved (Or Feared)
A vassal's opinion of their liege plays a huge role in Crusader Kings 3. As an independent ruler, never have too many powerful vassals with negative opinions of your character. Preventing revolts in the first place is much more efficient than having to violently suppress civil wars every few years.
Be as popular with one's vassals as possible. Betroth and/or marry children to spouses with positive congenital traits. Furthermore, ensure that children are given guardians that may bestow on them excellent personality traits. Fear is also a plausible route. If a character amasses enough Dread, vassals and courtiers will be too petrified to act against their liege.
Develop The Military
Whether playing as a good or evil character, maintaining a well-run military is constant. Typically, the bulk of a player's territorial acquisitions will come through conquest. When starting as a lowly count, the military needs to be developed sooner rather than later.
Furthermore, a large and effective army makes AI rulers think twice about invading lands inside your realm. Ensure the maximum number of Knights are being employed at all times. When recruiting Men-at-Arms, add variety to the composition of the regiments for more versatility on the battlefield. Be sure to possess a nice collection of infantry, cavalry, archers, and siege engines.
The Marriage Game
It's impossible to ignore marriage in Crusader Kings 3. If your dynasty ceases to exist, it's Game Over. However, not any old marriage partner will do. Players must get into the habit of searching for partners with either desirable traits or alliance offers.
In the early game, especially if one is a weak ruler, netting a marriage that results in an alliance with a powerful ruler is recommended. Their troops will make expansion a lot easier. Once your realm is sufficiently large and stable, start searching for partners with positive traits. Make liberal use of the game's search filters to find the best match.
Acquiring An Inheritance
Inheriting titles is the trickier, non-violent way of gaining new lands. This route takes patience but results in more territory without the need for a war. Once again, take a careful look at all the facets of a potential marriage partner, including their claims.
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Once beginners become more comfortable with engineering favorable marriages, this strategy bears enormous fruit when the situation arises. Marry individuals with inheritable claims to titles you desire. It may just happen that your primary heir will inherit two realms at once.
Don't Join Every War As An Ally
This advice holds true for many grand strategy games, particularly for the Total War series as well. Allies are great to have in Crusader Kings 3, but they can also become a nuisance. The AI is always waging war for one reason or another. Inevitably, your player character will eventually be asked to lend a helping hand.
Although it may not be very honorable, don't feel obligated to join every war. Coming to the aid of a far-flung ally can potentially wreck one's military, weakening your position at home. Sometimes it's just better to outright decline and take the Fame penalty. Or, a player can agree to join but sit on their hands instead. Your ally, however, won't appreciate such a tactic.
Prioritize Useful Innovations
Like many grand strategy epics, Crusader Kings 3 contains a technology system in the form of Innovations. Over time, cultures gradually make progress towards unlocking various Innovations, which provide useful bonuses. Players that become powerful enough can influence the speed at which a particular Innovation gets unlocked.
A player who is a Culture Head can select an Innovation as their own personal "Fascination." This speeds up the process of unlocking a particular Innovation. It's best to use this mechanic strategically. For example, if a player knows they will be waging war regularly, prioritize the military Innovationsto gain access to better units and buffs.
Play To Your Character's Strengths
Only very exceptional characters in Crusader Kings 3 can ever be a jack-of-all-trades. Typically, assuming their education wasn't completely botched, your player character will be above average in only one of their five attributes. It's important to play to that strength.
None of the core attributes in the game are useless. Every perk tree contains something that a player can find beneficial for their character. In addition, an experience point bonus is applied to a character who selects a Lifestyle that matches their education. Thus, acquiring more perks becomes a much faster process.
Don't Be Afraid To Take Decisions
Decisions are a familiar mechanic in games developed by Paradox Interactive. In Crusader Kings 3, players can enact both major and minor Decisions. Don't be afraid to call a hunt now and then to gain a nice chunk of Prestige. Hold feasts to potentially improve relations with your vassals (and maybe even learn a secret or two).
It's worth noting that most Decisions have a chance of turning out bad. Nevertheless, the benefits can still outweigh the risks if the player is low on Prestige to declare a war or their vassals begin to grumble. Hunts and feasts are also great ways to reduce Stress if their character is near the breaking point.