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Crusader Kings 3: 14 Tips For Newcomers To Grand Strategy Games

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  • Posted on 08th Apr, 2022 15:40 PM
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Crusader Kings 3 can be an intimidating title for newcomers. Here are some things to know for gamers who don't usually play grand strategy games.

p>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.

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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.

Updated April 2, 2022 by Mark Hospodar: Now has never been a better time to revisit Crusader Kings 3, considering the game's recent release on consoles. Players can expect to spend hundreds of hours in this engrossing medieval world, leading their dynasties to ever greater glories.

However, for the uninitiated, CK3 can be a difficult game to dive into blind. There's a lot of nuance to managing a realm successfully. As such, this list has been expanded to include a few more CK3 tips to help beginners learn the ropes.

14 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.

13 Don't Hire Too Many Mercenaries

Speaking of mercenaries, it's worth clarifying an important point about hiring others to fight your wars. Mercenaries are only useful for short conflicts that can be won relatively quickly. They're helpful in that they give players a (hopefully) decisive edge in an important battle or siege.

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Even with an incredibly robust economy with plentiful reserves of gold, mercenaries can pose a massive drain on a player's funds, especially if multiple companies are hired. As soon as they've served their purpose, it's a good idea to disband them immediately. Slipping into debt can cause a lot of problems for a realm, and mercenaries who've overstayed their welcome are typically one of the causes.

12 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.

11 Generate Plenty Of Prestige & Piety

Alongside gold, Prestige is another useful currency in the game that players can't ignore. Prestige is used for a variety of actions and decisions. Always having enough of it in reserve is recommended to stave off unforeseen negative events. Winning wars and creating new titles are two of the simplest ways of gaining Prestige.

Piety also comes in handy, particularly for Catholic rulers. Characters with virtuous traits will have an easier time generating Piety on a passive basis. For Catholic rulers, this results in a friendlier relationship with the Pope. Rulers can spend Piety through interactions with the Pope to gain claims, gifts of gold, and even marriage annulments.

10 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.

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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.

9 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.

8 Pay Attention To The Terrain

Compared to Crusader Kings 2, fighting battles in CK3 requires a bit more finesse and planning. Thus, it's important to remember that winning a battle isn't strictly a numbers game. Possessing numerical superiority helps, but it won't always win the day on its own.

As such, it's essential that players pay attention to the terrain. Fans should never place their armies at a geographic disadvantage, especially when the forces are evenly matched. For instance, never cross a river to meet the enemy in battle. If a particular type of terrain favors defense, then stay put. Spend some time studying the lay of the land. Oftentimes, your attention to detail will be rewarded!

7 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.

6 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.

5 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.

4 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 Innovations to gain access to better units and buffs.

3 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.

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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.

2 Become The Dynasty Head

Interactions among one's own Dynasty work a bit differently in CK3 compared to the previous game in the franchise. A Dynasty can potentially consist of several Houses, the most powerful (militarily) of which is the Dynasty Head. For players, being the Dynasty Head is always preferable.

The Dynasty Head possesses several advantages. In addition to increased Monthly Prestige, Dynasty Heads have access to several unique interactions that can be taken with other members of the family. Best of all, these individuals get to decide the Dynasty Legacy, permanent modifiers that bestow a series of useful perks that are important for a player's long-term strategy and goals.

1 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.

Crusader Kings 3 is currently available on PC, macOS, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S.

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