Do you expand fast and risk your kingdom imploding with rebellions and vassal infighting? Or do you play it safe, only to stagnate in a political backwater?
CK3, like any good strategy game, makes you juggle conflicting agendas:
– Realm expansion vs realm stability
– War expenses vs. spoils of war
– Conflicting councillor duties: Preparing for War, vs. Waging the War, vs. Winning the Peace
Early game: Street fighting years
This usually means scrapping your way up to around kingdom size – targeting neighbours engaged in succession struggles with few or no allies. Sure, that’s just dirty street fighting, but you’re still eating just turnips. But this period also gives you the time to research the tech needed for the mid-game.
Get yourself these traditions ASAP – by setting them as your cultural Fascinations:
- Royal Prerogative is an Early Medieval tradition. It allows you to pass High and Absolute Crown authorities. Both will give you a lot of control over your vassals. They also net you the higher rates of vassal tax and levy contribution: You’re gonna need that.
- Divine Right is a High Medieval tradition. This one is key – since it lets you press any number of claims in a single war, allowing you to launch lengthy campaigns.
Land Grants (another High Medieval trad). is a good follow-up. Not essential, but very nice since it speeds up your Bishop’s ‘Fabricate Claim’ task by +50%
Mid-game: Using a Campaign Strategy
While the early game made for guerrilla warfare, the mid-game allows you to embark upon lengthy campaigns for great swathes of territory (thanks to that Divine Right tradition). And that’s something each ruler might do only a couple of times during their lifetime, so it may as well be planned out for a solid long term advantage.
1. Preparing for War
2. Waging a War
3. Winning the Peace
1. Preparing for War
- Have a good idea of your long-term goal (e.g. a particular regional empire achievement).
- Decide on a sequence of duchiesyou’ll have knock over to get at least part way there
- Set your Bishop to Fabricate Claim on this territory, targeting one county after the other.
- Set your Marshal to Train Commanders (this gradually buffs all your knights and men-at-arms, with a good chance to increase knight prowess and score some nice commander traits)
- Set your Steward to Collect Taxes, to help build up a substantial war chest.
- Build up your men-at-arms, ideally in unit types suitable to terrain they’ll likely be fighting in
- Get all the alliesyou can to help out with the biffo (coz taking on more allies while you’re at war is a lot harder)
2. Waging the War
- As usual, be certain you canwin / afford the war before declaring it. Then press ALL your claims like the megalomaniac you really are.
- Set your Marshal to Organise Army(reduces army maintenance costs, increases reinforcement rates, and buffs all your garrisons).
- Keep your Steward on Collect Taxes (you’ll certainly need em)
- Set your Bishop back to his work-a-day task of Religious Relations (or else, keep him on ‘Fabricate Claim’ in preparation for a subsequent campaign)
- Sound the trumpet!Then as usual, balance your forces in the field between attack and defence. And timing your attacks with the arrival your allies, etc. You know, tactical sheet.
- Take the victory when you’re at +100%.. Prolonging a war for a merry game of hostage-hunting will probably cost you more than you’ll earn.
3. Winning the Peace
- Grant titles immediately – to get your county Domain size back down below your Domain Limit and avoid aggravating your insanely jealous vassals. Parcel out counties so as to correspond to their natural Duchy. Grant each duchy to a different infant from your own dynasty
– One vassal per historical duchy seems to make for much less infighting later
– Your related infants are born with a hook. Use this to extort favourable terms immediately.
– As dynasty members, you can call on them for free during your next campaign.
– As kids, they can’t join any factions against you until years after the dust has settled.
- Set your Marshal to Increase Control in County. Starting first, with any county you own personally which needs it (and mote that counties with high control return the most income)
- Set your Bishop to Convert Faith and target the counties contained with each Duchy one at a time (conversion helps with control in the long term)
- Set your Steward to Promote Culture (ditto)
- Fingers crossed the Realm shouldn’t descend into a bloodbath. And gradually your income will rise again to an even more comfortable level. Then you can think about going back and bundling all those counties into duchies – for some sweet renown increases for having a flock of dynastic dooks.
The bigger your campaign, the more time it will take to fully consolidate your lands before the next one. But using a structured campaign strategy means your realm is seldom in chaos, and your overworked councillors have the chance to tackle just one problem-type at a time.
However, note that there’s also some good variations to this formula For example, starting out by pressing claims held by a courtier, or using an abduction scheme to conclude a war before even the first arrow is loosed. But this here is the core of a workable long term strategy, I think.
Anyway, good luck managing your megalomania
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