14 Tips for New Players | CRUSADER KINGS 3 | Tutorial/Guide for Beginners (CK3)


Hello everybody this is Havoc back with another tutorial for Crusader Kings III. I’ve been diving into specific mechanics inside the game thus far, but I realized that I haven’t really created a video that focuses on some true beginner’s tips for your campaigns. And while I AM working on a “How to Start Your Campaign” video, I thought that I would drop some more general ideas to help those who are brand new to the game.

This video won’t be quite as in-depth and intense as my usual videos are, but I hope you will still find it useful. So here are 14 tips for new players in Crusader Kings III. #1 Don’t Play as Munster Yes this is my first tip in Crusader Kings III. I know this comes off very strange considering the tutorial uses Petty King Muchad, but outside of the tutorial, I would very much caution you to use Petty King Murchad of Munster as your starting character. The reason for using Petty King Murchad as a starting position is that as the Duke of Munster, he has an immediate claim on Desmond, which is technically part of the Duchy of Munster. This allows you to declare war right away and snactch up an entire Duchy. The kicker is that you start off with way more gold and soldiers in the tutorial, which gives the player a bit too much confidence rolling a new game as the Petty King. The Petty King of the real world in CK3 starts with little gold and not even 100 more men than Desmond, making that initial battle potentially devastating and therefore ending your campaign right off the bat.

If you know how to use all the mechanics at the very start of your campaign, you will succeed. If you get lucky, you will succeed. But having played a new campaign as Munster a handful of times to test this out, and only doing the absolute minimum that you learned from the tutorial, you have a decent chance at losing. Ireland is a great place to start your campaign, but maybe try Dublin instead. As Earl Murchad of Dublin, you have the opportunity to put everything you’ve learned from the tutorial into practice right off the bat. You are first in line to inherit the county of Leinster, teaching you about succession.

You have time to seek out alliance with your multiple children. You’ll have to fabricate your own claims, and because your county is of a different culture than the rest of Ireland, you can practice promoting your own culture using your Steward. It’s not necessarily easier, but there’s less chance of failing quite as quick. #2 – Action Lock and Screen Edge Scrolling One of the first things you’ll want to change when you load up Crusader Kings III is the tooltip trigger button. By default it’s set for you to hover over the tooltip to bring up the next nested tooltip. This is cumbersome and causes a lot of frustration when you get 3 to 4 deep into the nested tooltips. You can change this very easily by going into settings, game, and over to Tooltip Mode. Select Action lock from the dropdown menu. What that does is allow you to lock the tooltip box using your middle mouse button, letting you quickly select different tooltips without waiting for the hover timer to finish locking.

The other setting you want to uncheck is Screen Edge Scrolling. Screen Edge Scrolling is exactly as it sounds: once your mouse gets to the edge of the screen it scrolls across the map. As a guy who uses multiple screens all day and rarely if ever plays a game on dedicated fullscreen, turning off screen edge scrolling allows me to take care of something off screen without having my map fly to the other side of the world.

Both of these settings are obviously my own personal preferences, but I’ve seen them mentioned on forums and other creator’s video comments so it’s clearly a pretty common setup. #3 – Explore the User Interface If you’re new to Paradox games, you’ll quickly realize that these grand strategy games have a TON of buttons, menus and submenus. There’s an entire encyclopedia IN THE GAME dedicated to about all the features and user interface things in this game and it’s pretty massive. As a new player to this game or genre, it can be immensely overwhelming if yoCu just jump right in and try to play. I highly recommend loading into the game as any player and just explore the User Interface.

The main screen holds almost all of your information, so click on buttons, hover over information, look thru menus and read progression branches; just take your time. Crusader Kings is not a game to just immediately hop into and go x5 speed, it will eat you alive every time. As a grand strategy game, it is 100% to your own benefit to take 30 minutes and just go thru things to better understand the game. For those that would rather have a handy video that goes over the main User Interface, I’ve got just the video for you. Think of it as your own personal advisor to help you grasp a lot of the main concepts and ideas of the game.

That video will be in the top right corner as you’re watching. #4 – Traits & Stress While the Skills & Traits system is something decently complex, and requires its own dedicated video to explain, in the context of beginner’s tips, it’s important to understand some basics around them. First, there are 8 “types” of traits that your character could potentially have at any given time: Fame, Health, Physical, Lifestyle, Education , Commander, Childhood & Personality. Most characters will only have 4, which will always be 3 personality traits & one education trait as that minimum. Education traits are the result from the child’s upbringing and are determined by how well their education focus was aligned with their Childhood trait, and how effective their tutor was, should they have been tutored. To educate your own children, they must be between the ages of 6-16, click on their portrait, and the bottom left button below their main character portrait is their education focus.

Personality traits are a result of the events throughout a character’s life, positive or negative. These traits will shape their worldview and thus how they view every single character and event. This goes the opposite way and will shape the opinion other characters have towards said character. Hover over these traits to get a better idea on how you can interact with the world around you. These personality traits are crucial to grasp because going against them will cause you Stress. Your Stress bar is to the left of your main screen character. Gain too much stress and you’ll go up a stress level, triggering a breakdown that can have some nasty side effects. Stress is unavoidable in many cases, but being aware of its effects is important. So knowing your personality traits is important to understand why you are potentially gaining stress as a result of certain actions or events.

#5 – Marry for Alliances Marriage is no simple task in Crusader Kings III, and there are so many reasons to marry your children, family members and court members off to various other characters. But a wise word for beginners in CK3: Marry for Alliances. The release build only has one type of Alliance, and that means that no matter if it’s an offensive or defensive war, you can call on your allies for support, and 95% of the time they’ll answer your call…if you have enough prestige that is. Having powerful allies at the start of the game is incredibly helpful to give you an edge for expansion right from the start when your surrounding neighbors have weaker armies, or prevent bigger nations from trying to stomp on you the little guy.

To go about marrying for strong allies, it’s a smart idea to use children that aren’t your direct heir, unless there’s a chance your hier will directly inherit their spouses kingdom. Right click on the portrait of the character you wish to marry and select Find Spouse. This brings up all potential candidates for marriage. Under the character is a drop down menu defaulted to Relevance, select Alliance Power, which will bring up the candidates with the best Alliance power. It’s important to note a couple of things here: First, Alliance power isn’t exactly tied to how many men are in their armies, altho that does have a very large factor to play.

Second, when choosing based on Alliance power, start with kingdoms closer to your own as you want them to join quickly. An ally with 9000 men isn’t very useful when they are halfway across the map and can’t reach you in time. If you have multiple children, marry them off for multiple Alliances. Just remember that it will cost you prestige to both start a war AND call on your allies, so make sure you have a decent amount before attempting an offensive war if you want your allies to join you.

#6 – Starting Issues When you first start your campaign, before you even think about hitting play, check out your issues at the top of the screen. Anything in red diamond are immediate attention matters such as your or your heir being unmarried, choosing a lifestyle focus, or even being over a vassal or domain limit – tho those last ones shouldn’t apply as much if you’re starting small. The next icon of stained glass with numbers over it is your Issues tab, and it will bring up any relevant overall realm management things that are not immediate but still very helpful to figure out before you begin. These things will include other family members to be married off, wars you can start, titles that can already be created, or vassals that need some attention. Even as a veteran it’s best not to ignore these issues and events so that you can progress nicely and know that you’re not forgetting something that might be crucially important. For beginners, these are very necessary for survival. #7 – Don’t Build Buildings When it comes to managing your realm – or all the land within your direct power, it can be tempting to build up your vassals by constructing buildings in their holdings, or even building your own buildings in your domain.

After all, about every other strategy game out there has you building and constructing in order to build up your economy, and with so many buildings in this game, that should apply too right? Do. Not. Do it. Buildings are costly, take a long time to build, and their benefits – while useful for sure – are not worth the investment in the early game. Your early game economy will not see such a large increase from constructing buildings, and your money can honestly be spent much more effectively elsewhere. You will need money to finance your armies during wars, hire mercenaries or create a professional army, to create titles that expand your empire, and a myriad of other kingdom related things.

It’s not until you have somewhere in the ballpark of 1000+ gold that you should even consider getting into buildings. Also a quick note here: when you do start building, never build in your vassal’s counties. You will always get the most money from your own holdings, whereas you’ll get a tiny percentage of your vassal’s income, not to mention that any number of things could happen in this game where that vassal is no longer yours and now you’ve wasted that precious investment. #8 – Manage Your Council Your Council is composed of court members that help run your realm. As such, it’s important to keep highly skilled characters in your Council at all times. Each position directly affects important aspects of your realm, and you can see what those are by hovering over each button. Matching skilled characters to their respective positions will allow you to maximize each position’s effects on your realm and therefore keep things running smoothly and efficiently.

It’s smartest to match these positions with your Powerful Vassals to keep the satisfied, in turn keeping them from rising up – hopefully. This won’t always be possible though, and you will sometimes have to choose between satisfying a powerful vassal or choosing a more appropriate character for the position, it’s up to you. One very important thing you should do in managing your Council is to ensure that none of them are fighting as a Knight, and if they are, forbid it.

You can check by going into your military tab, click on knights, and scroll through until you find your council members, and click forbid. In doing this you make sure they cannot fight in your wars and potentially cause their deaths. I’ve lost too many good council members forgetting to do this, so try and make it a habit every time you bring in someone new to your Council. Lastly for managing your council: Use your spouse. Your spouse is automatically part of the Council, and he or she can be incredibly useful. By Default they are on Assist Ruler, which takes their skill level across all skills and reduces it by a significant amount. Focusing your spouse int an area they are strongest with will boost your own skills in that exact area, thereby making you a more effective leader in said skill area.

It’s a very useful tool and a great way to get your spouse involved in the best ways. #9 – Not Rightful Liege Issue I’ve created two videos so far on Vassals, so I won’t go into detail on managing them in their entirety in this video. However, one of the most helpful tips when it comes to Vassals and your economy is to check if you are their Rightful Liege by looking for the red arrow icon on the far right of the vassal tab. Most vassals want you to hold a specific title – usually centered around a duchy title – to know for sure that you are indeed their “rightful” liege. If you are not, then that vassal contributes 50% less taxes and vassals to you than they would otherwise.

That is a pretty massive hit, especially if you have multiple vassals who feel this way. A vassal will let you know what title you need in order to remove this, so use this information to plan out your future expansions or to know what titles to create next so that you are using your vassals to their fullest extent. #10 – Raising Armies This one’s pretty easy. When you decide to go to war, or war is declared on you, you will immediately need to raise your armies to give them time to muster completely. This is achieved by using the Raise All Armies button that should pop up at the bottom right of your screen, or by going into the Military tab and selecting the Raise All button. When it comes to the size of your armies, vassal levies ARE INCLUDED in this number. So if you think your vassals are not doing anything…well they aren’t doing anything because they don’t have to.

They are only required to give you so many men, and that is automatically part of your full levy numbers. #11 – Understand War Score Understanding how War Score works can help you figure out how to win wars quickly. You will need that War Score to get up to 100% to enforce your demands, no matter if an offensive war or defensive war. First is the objective. In either an offensive or defensive war, there is a set objective piece of land that is being fought over. Taking that objective or defending it from being taken will improve your war score for as long as you hold it. For every month you hold that objective, your war score will increase. Next are battles and it’s pretty self explanatory: The more battles you win, the higher your score 3ticks. After that are holdings. Conquering enemy holdings is a great way to speed up the war score for you regardless if it’s offensive or defensive in nature. Lastly are prisoners. You can gain prisoners from battles or through conquering their lands. The enemy capital is a great place to grab some captives.

And if they’re important enough, it will increase your war score in a very easy way. Once you get to 100%, it’s best to enforce your demands near as quick as possible to reduce any further damage being done to your newly acquired land. #12 – Knights Are Essential Moving into warfare, and Crusader Kings III brings in a new mechanic that is absolutely essential to your armies: knights. Knights are characters that join your armies in battle.

Their prowess skill causes 10x the damage of regular levies PER level. So a 16 prowess knight would cause 160x more damage than a unit of levies. There are also a handful of perks in the Martial Lifestyle Gallant tree that will strongly buff your knights and allow you to recruit more into your armies, and as a new player I highly recommend going this route for your leader’s lifestyle, it will help you fight as a much smaller army. Having several high prowess knights in your army can be the game changer when fighting bigger armies. You can recruit knights by using your Marshall to find some, hiring them from wanderers in your court, or by using the invite knights event in your decision tab. #13 – Hire Bowmen, Pikes & Onagers As a new player, I would recommend starting to hire professional soldiers decently early on, as they’ll do wonders against levies. In my time playing I’ve found that the AI will trend towards hiring Skirmishers and Light Horse for their own armies. If you’re interested in countering those troops and giving yourself a decent advantage I recommend hiring Bowmen to counter the skirmishers and Pikemen to counter the light horse.

Even tho light horse counters bowmen, the pikes should take away most of the damage done, keeping your archers safer than they would be otherwise. You’ll need Onagers to siege settlements quickly. One of the fastest ways to crank up your war score is to take an enemy capital and then the settlements you are trying to conquer. Sieging can take quite a while without siege weapons, and while Onagers do seem slightly overpowered at the moment, it can’t hurt to use them and speed up the siege rate during your wars.

It’s important to remember that men-at-arms soldiers – any of your professional army – have a peacetime maintenance fee ⅓ of its total value than when at war. Checking the monthly maintenance at the bottom of the right hand military screen will show you how much it’ll cost when at war, and how long you can survive at that rate. #14 – Use Map Modes to Expand While you can quite literally expand in any manner possible in CK3, it is generally pretty smart to expand in a way that you can create bigger titles that will allow for more vassals and other sources of income. As a count, you should look to create a Duchy, as a Duchy a kingdom etc etc. To better explore where you should conquer next to achieve this title, go down to your map modes in the bottom right corner. This will let you see your County/Duchy/Kingdom/Empire map modes, giving you ideas where you can conquer to gain the title. A note for expansion. You only need ⅔ of the land to acquire the title of the area. So ⅔ of the counties to make a duchy, ⅔ of the duchies to claim a kingdom.

Once you create that title, say the Duchy of something, the rest of the counties you have yet to conquer are now de jure, or legally part of what should be yours. This gives you a perfectly valid reason to conquer the rest of the Duchy without penalty. This is a solid strategy so that you are not wasting casus belli’s on territories you don’t need to for De Jure reasons. I could honestly make 100 tips for beginners in CK3, but this list is a start and will hopefully help you prepare for the immensity that is a crusader kings campaign. Be sure to check out my other guides and tutorials on the game, the playlist will be consistently added to as I get to different mechanics and subjects, so be sure to subscribe to the channel so you are always up to date. Thank you for watching, best of luck in your campaigns, this is Havoc and I will see you in the next video..

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