I cannot vanquish my brother, the Duke of Modena
November 2, 2016 12:42 PM   Subscribe

I recently bought Crusader Kings 2 during a Steam sale. I'm getting better at the politics, but I can't figure out how to go to war or defend my lands. Could someone please point to a CK2 combat tutorial written for people who have never played grand strategy games before?

I truly need a kindergarten-level explanation, as most of the tutorials I have found are focused on strategy rather than "send an army to vanquish your wicked brother with these five easy steps!" I did attempt the built-in tutorial, but I could not get the instructions to work, and found several forum comments that report the same issue.

[I am playing Duchess Matilda and her heirs. I've married enough people off, especially to the Emperor's close relatives, that the game is still fulfilling as non-military strategy - but I would be doing a LOT BETTER if my brother were languishing in an oubliette and I had all my ancestral lands back, plus it would give my irritating husband something to do besides get me pregnant.]
posted by catlet to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Check out the CKII subreddit, they'll be happy to help, and much better suited to it. Start with the New Player's Guide in the sidebar on the right.

(Speaking of sidebars: if you happen to be interested in George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, there's a total-conversion mod for CKII that is simply amazing. There's also a very helpful subreddit for this mod specifically.)
posted by gettingpaidforthis at 1:00 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


The manual!


Looks like an ok guide, though I haven't played CK2, but am a veteran strategy gamer, so hopefully it works as well.
posted by Jacen at 1:04 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Beyond guides, I just want to give you a simple affirmation: CK2 combat is an incredible shitshow that rarely makes any sense. If you feel like it's out of your control 90% of the time, you may not be doing anything wrong.
posted by selfnoise at 1:33 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I had to work this out for myself, so I can't point you to a tutorial, but here's my own set of instructions:

1. Right-click on the portrait for the person you want to fight. The option to declare war will be there, alongside "send gift" and the like. The option might be grayed out if you don't have a casus belli (legal cause for war) or if your liege forbids wars between vassals -- you can hover the mouse over "declare war" to find out what the problem is.

2. Causes for war include a de jure claim (claim to land formerly/traditionally held by your family); independence from liege; a claim that you or a courtier holds on your enemy's land; holy wars; a few more esoteric things involving excommunications and the Pope. Watch out when pressing your courtiers' claims, though! Once they take over their freshly won lands, you won't be their liege unless you are the de jure liege of the territory or they're a member of your dynasty. (In the map mode selector at lower right, you can see de jure duchies, kindoms, and empires).

3. If you don't have a claim, you can falsify one with your chancellor! Select "Fabricate Claims" in the council window and deploy the chancellor via left-click to your chosen territory. Depending on their skill (and susceptibility to bribery and murder by your intended victim), they may fabricate one immediately or you might have to wait a few years.

4. If you have a casus belli in hand, go get 'em! Just select "declare war" and the cause you're going to fight for, if there's more than one possibility.

5. Go to your military tab in the upper row by your portrait. Click the up arrows by "From Demesne" and "From Vassals" -- these are your armies and those of your counts and bishops, respectively. Your dudes should pop up all over Italy.

6. Left-click on a unit to select it; right-click to the place you want it to go. IMPORTANT: you can select several units by left-clicking and dragging a box around them. You have no idea how long I played CK2 before I picked up on this.

7. You can throw all those dudes at your enemy's dudes in a straight-up battle. These will largely be decided by sheer numbers, but quality of commanders and technology do matter (for example, when making war on the Holy Roman Empire as a pagan tribal leader, you're going to get slaughtered by much smaller numbers of better-armed men).

8. Or you can besiege, which is the workhorse mechanic of CK2 wars. Send the dudes to an enemy territory and they'll automatically start besieging their cities; you'll see a progress bar appear when they arrive. If there's a red scribble on it, you don't have enough dudes to besiege the city. Click on the unit and you'll see a display at left of how many more you need. You can also assault an enemy's holding to knock down a siege right away, though you'll need a huge numerical advantage (10X is safe) to do that. You'll see the button to do that in the siege window, next to "Siege of Ancona" or whatever it is.

9. You can look at how well you're doing -- your "warscore" -- at the bottom of the screen, to the left of the map mode selector. It goes from 100 (win) to -100 (conclusive loss). If you successfully besiege territories or win battles, it'll go up, and vice versa. It's not a strict formula, though. A real slaughter of a battle may send you into a tailspin, or you might suddenly lose a huge chunk of it if your enemy reoccupies besieged lands, only to regain that chunk by reoccupying them yourself. The longer a war goes on, the harder it is to conclusively win it.

10. When warscore reaches 100%, the loser must surrender. You can surrender at any time by right-clicking on your enemy's portrait and offering peace. You can also ask for a "white peace," which basically restores things to the status quo before the war, at a cost of some prestige (and sometimes cash or what have you). Your enemy will only agree to a white peace if your own warscore is still in the green; if they have any advantage, they'll keep trying to press it.

11. If you conquer more than 50% of a de jure territory and you have some prestige and cash to spend, you can usurp it (a button should pop up at the top informing you of this). Usurpation is awesome because it gives you an instant de jure claim to everything else in the territory!

12. As Matilda and her family, I like to conquer Italy through fabricated claims before making a good alliance and then a bid for independence from the Kaiser. Start small and take advantage of your liege's immense power rather than chafing under it -- it's pretty awesome if you can, for example, fabricate some claims down south in independent Apulia and get him to press them.

Enjoy your wars!
posted by thesmallmachine at 1:41 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

And yes, I will second that CK2 combat has a lot of noise to it -- a window pops up during a battle that shows people flanking or whatever; you don't need to understand it (though I'm sure many advanced players do -- I only have 500 hours on the game or whatever and in CK2 that's not remotely "advanced"). Throw more dudes at fewer dudes, stay out of the way of horrific dudemasses ("doomstacks," as they are called on Reddit), know when to fold 'em, and you'll be OK in most CK2 wars. I have rebuilt the Roman Empire in this game without having any idea what's going on in the actual battles.
posted by thesmallmachine at 1:43 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Forgot to mention that you can hire mercenaries, which you'll see in the military window while you're raising your troops. They'll eat up your treasury fast, and heaven help you if you can't pay their monthly fee, but sometimes you need that extra power-up at a crucial moment. Or you can afford them more easily than you can afford pissing off your vassals. Or you just want to enjoy saying, "I've hired the Irish Band." (Note: mercenaries always say they'll spawn "on or near" your capital, but if the problem is -- say -- a siege of your capital, it'll always be "near." They never show up exactly where they're needed.)
posted by thesmallmachine at 1:50 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

One more note on mercenaries- levies, both yours and your vassals start with full morale, which ultimately dictates who wins that battle (when a side runs out of morale, they run away, follow them, get into another battle, kill some more dudes, they run away again, repeat until they are all actually dead). Mercenaries start with next to no morale, but gain it over a few days. So be careful of immediately committing them right when you first hire them.

I've only put a few hundred hours into the game, so I'm still lousy at the intrigue, let alone the combat, but the tactic that I've found useful, at least for rebellions is to gather up most of my troops, combine them into a single army and then go out and crush the rebel armies. Even if they have more troops, if you can keep them divided, you win. Strip them of their titles and give the titles to people who actually like you.
posted by Hactar at 2:02 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding Hactar, that is solid gold advice. (Also, I NEVER KNEW that the reasons mercenaries sometimes stumble out the gate is that they start out demoralized.)
posted by thesmallmachine at 2:11 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

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