CK3 News Roundup: Crusades, Vassal Contracts And Battles

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Hello and welcome everybody, I am One Proud Bavarian and I’m here with another iteration of the CK3 news Round Up! I have sifted through all of the new CK3 footage so that you wouldn’t have to and can still learn about all of the important parts. Last time I spoke about the pricing of the game, De jure maps and Cultural Innovations, check out the video – the link will be in the description! Today, I’m going to be discussing Crusades, Vassal Contracts and Warfare in detail, because the new footage contained a lot of information on those topics that went mostly unnoticed. Let’s kick it off with some more insight on how Crusades work, because while much of it will be quite similar to Crusader Kings 2 after the Holy Fury update, some key things have changed. There has not yet been a Dev Diary on this topic, so all the following information is new and contains some degree of speculation based on the gameplay available to us.

When a crusade is called, it comes with some preparation time during which the Catholic rulers of the world get access to an interface that can be described as a more embedded version of CK2’s crusade interface. The options are mostly the same, with crusade participants still having the opportunity of nominating a beneficiary that, based on the overall contribution during the crusade, will gain parts of the conquered land or possibly even the kingdom title of the new Crusader State. It is also possible to redirect the Crusade to a target the player views as more suitable.

This interface makes it clear in its subtitle that this is the Catholic Great Holy War, which leads me to believe that more faiths will be able to gain access to this interface instead of it being limited to the Crusades themselves. This would be a significant change from Crusader Kings 2 and add a considerably higher degree of gameplay features to any religion that can gain access to Great Holy Wars. Once the preparation time is over, the Pope will declare the Crusade and all those that pledged themselves to the cause of the Church will immediately gain access to their share of the Crusader War Chest. The War Chest’s distribution prior to the success of the crusade has been speculated to be unintentional, seeing as the Chest was distributed only after the war in CK2.

While that initially sounds correct, it would also make sense to distribute the much smaller war chest compared to CK2 prior to the war: Many of the Crusaders will need the money to pay for the boats they will have to charter to sail down to the Holy Land and it makes sense that pledging one’s forces to the crusade also impresses the Catholic core lands, giving the rulers piety and prestige. Using a war chest for the actual war seems more sensible than treating it as the huge cash infusion that it acted as in CK2. If a ruler only pledged their forces to gain access to this war chest without ever wanting to go down to the Holy Land, the Pope could simply chide or even excommunicate them, so there is little room in the ways of exploits.

The biggest change when it comes to Crusades in general however appears to be on the topic of what land actually goes to the newly established Crusader State. Crusader Kings 2 oftentimes ran into problems when calling crusades in particularly splintered parts of the world. If, for example, a Crusade for Jerusalem is called, but the crusade target only holds a small part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, only that part would become the new Crusader State, effectively wasting the war.

The screenshots for Crusader Kings 3 outline the de jure borders of the Kingdom of Jerusalem with a blue dotted line, marking all of it down as the target of the Crusade, not just the land belonging to the primary target – the Fatimid Caliphate. The AI troops visible in this screenshot are also all active in land not belonging to the primary Crusade target, but still within the target kingdom. All of this leads me to believe that Great Holy Wars in Crusader Kings 3 will take control of every piece of territory under the supervision of the hostile faith that is the crusade target. This is an excellent change, since this should also counteract the common occurrence in CK2 of rebellions in the target kingdom ending the Great Holy War inconclusively. At the end of it all stands the distribution of titles to the victorious crusaders and their beneficiaries. It should be noted that the player’s prestige and piety have increased SIGNIFICANTLY after winning the crusade for their relative whereas their wealth has not been impacted at all.

This appears to confirm the idea of the developers recognising the huge influx of cash in post-Crusade Europe in Crusader Kings 2 to be unbalanced and rectifying it in CK3. With all of this in mind, Great Holy Wars have become a much more flexible and meaningful venture, opening up gameplay opportunities to more religions. The numbers of course are likely to be subject to change seeing as CK3 is still very much in developement. With all that being said, let’s move on to an exciting topic that has already been addressed in Dev Diary 17, but has seen an exciting revamp: Vassal Contracts. The feudal government system of the Medieval Period is based on the interplay between liege and vassal, both sides having certain responsibilities and rights towards one another.

As the vassal is obligated to pay their liege taxes, the liege is obligated to defend their vassal’s territory. In Crusader Kings 2, feudal contracts were organised on a realm-level, meaning that every vassal under the laws of that realm had the same level of rights and obligations. Dev Diary 17 revealed that CK3 does away with that system and instead organises the feudal hierarchy in a much more granular way, with every vassal having their individual contractual obligations and rights. This was already a significant step up, but it is nothing in comparison to the further development that has taken place since. The individual vassal obligation options have been expanded significantly, with every vassal contract being its own unique beast, allowing players to organise their realm in a way they see fit. Classic obligations like taxes and levies are now being mixed with more roleplay oriented special rights, such as the right to mint one’s own coins, forcing a certain succession type, being allowed to fortify one’s own lands and having a guaranteed seat on the council.

On top of that, there are also special contract types – Scutage focuses on taxation instead of levies, March focuses on levies instead of taxation and the palatinate type gives the vassal more autonomy and rights in general, which can be very helpful when dealing with a very powerful vassal that would otherwise join factions and be a highly destabilising force in the realm. The added variety to the feudal contract system is worthy of being called a revolution of gameplay at this point, as this creates an ever changing contractual landscape instead of a CK2-like situation in which the player finds their preferred settings and never changes laws again.

With this new mechanic, players will be able to adapt the organisation of their realm as time passes and even long-term gameplay *as* a vassal becomes more interesting. While a vassal in modern-day Austria might be used as a March early on in a playthrough, a vassal that takes complete control of the region may later on be able to demand his contract be converted into the palatinate form. This is a mechanic as exciting as the Cultural Innovation mechanic explained in the last video and the impact on gameplay both in vanilla and mods should be tremendous.

As a side note: The EXCESSIVE vassal limit that we can see for the Holy Roman Empire appears to indicate that the blobbing visible on screenshots showed last video could easily be solved by altering this to a more acceptable number, so it should not be a big concern. Let’s move on to a topic that has been hotly debated ever since Dev Diary 3: Battles. Crusader Kings 2 has an incredibly in-depth combat system that is impacted by character stats, traits, terrain, unit types and a HUGE chunk of random number generation for tactics and so on and so forth. Crusader Kings 2 also has one gigantic problem – Gaining an understanding of how things fit together requires hours upon hours of time and usage of external sources like the CK2 wiki, since the game does not communicate much of the systems in use in-game at all and does a splendid job of hiding the parts it does communicate behind a hundred spread out modifiers.

This is highly problematic, because it has led to a situation in which most players simply do not use or know about many of the mechanics inside of the game, leading to the systems playing practically no role in gameplay. They might as well not exist. Subunit commanders for example affect their subunits with their stats on top of the effect that the flank leader already has, but assigning them includes tedious microing and the game does not tell the players about this effect at all.

Tactics on the other hand are highly mysterious parts of CK2’s system since the player can encounter them in-game only when in battle, meaning the player must other go and read the game wikis or live with incomplete knowledge of what triggers certain tactics to what percentage. Dev Diary 3 for CK3 has introduced an extensive rework of combat mechanics that until now were tough to really judge seeing as we did not see them in-action. The new footage however gives us a much clearer view on what to expect going forward. The new combat system does away with flanks, multiple army commanders and tactics in the way that we know them from Crusader Kings 2. However, after examining the combat footage that we have, the new system does not to away with complexity as much as it simply gets rid of nebulous systems, substituting them with a much more transparent set of mechanics.

This set of mechanics is also much easier to influence by the player, making player decisions count to a greater extent than before. When raising one’s army, the forces are now gathered at a rally point. This process takes time depending on the size of one’s realm, still emulating the preparation time a medieval realm needed when going to war without the tedious macroing of mini stacks mindlessly running into enemy forces while rallying in CK2. The forces consist of Levies – the bulk but poorly trained part of the army -, Men-At-Arms – specialised troops that the player can recruit easily to influence their makeup of their army – and knights – named characters that function as units akin to Men-At-Arms, but are more of a fusion of a normal unit and CK2’s subunit and flank commanders.

Every army only has one commander whose skills determine combat rolls comparable to CK2’s tactics. Actual battles play out in a way in which armies clash at a combat width level influenced by the total size of the two armies as well as the local terrain. The commanders of the army influence the battle based on their martial skill and rolls akin to the tactics rolls in CK2. However, the results of all of these factors are much more obvious because they influence the “Advantage score” – Each point that one side has advantage over the other side means 2% additional damage by that army.

Effectively, tactics, commander skills and traits are all still in the game, but they are no longer a mysterious secret that one needs to go to university for. Combat as seen in the existing footage sees the quality of participating armies go up as fighting goes on, because worse units – primarily the levies – flee before the elite men-at-arms and knights do. This means that every battle HIGHLY depends on the overall quality, combination and counters of the elite units. This is excellent, because the player has a much greater degree of choice in army makeup in CK3 compared to CK2, meaning players can prepare their army setup depending on the sort of enemies they will be facing instead of just relying on having more troops. The army setup, terrain, commanders and named characters will have a much larger and obvious impact on battles in CK3 compared to CK2, making the new system one that actually hands the player the keys to the kingdom if they are smart about their setup.

While winning battles in CK2 depended on reading up on obscure systems and working with spreadsheets to find the optimal result, CK3’s system is a much more transparent one that requires the player to actually outsmart their opponent in the moment. Knowing possible choices and recognising the right one is strategy, having memorised hidden away mechanics and simply knowing the best one is not. I was initially quite sceptical of this system, but the way it works brings a higher level of actual strategy to the table and requires players to adapt their strategy depending on the circumstances instead of just throwing the bigger army at the enemy.

All in all, the battle system requires less microing, but more important decision-making. Including more named characters is also excellent for the distribution of prestige in wars, taking prisoners of war and just roleplay in general. And with that, we have come to the end of today’s News Roundup. What do you think about the changes to Crusades, Vassal Contracts and Battles? Let me know in the comments! For the moment I would like to simply think the members of the channels that are making videos such as this one possible. Namely the Barons: MR Mamellow, Thomas, Lauchlin, Mitchell, mfw, Florian, Daan, TheMurcielago, Jacob and the two newest members – Rex Romanorum and Falling Phoenix, welcome to the channel! Of course also the Counts: Shifty, Wombat and Ksen and last but not least the absolutely gorgeous Dukes: Suspicious Duck, Nathan, Jak, Kenneth, Lextzo, Arik and of course Adan.

Thank you all so much for supporting the channel directly, that is what keeps it all going! I will see you all later, Alligator!.

Read More: Introducing CK3 – Dynasty

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