Crusader Kings (video game)

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Crusader Kings
Developer(s)Paradox Development Studio[a]
Producer(s)Johan Andersson
  • Henrik Fåhraeus
  • Joakim Bergqwist
Programmer(s)Johan Andersson
Artist(s)Marcus Edstroem
Composer(s)Inon Zur
EngineEuropa Engine
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
  • EU: April 23, 2004
  • NA: May 2004 (Online)
  • AU: July 15, 2004
  • NA: September 28, 2004
Mac OS X
  • WW: August 10, 2005[1]
Genre(s)Grand strategy
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Crusader Kings is a grand strategy game developed by Paradox Development Studio and published by Paradox Interactive in April 2004. An expansion called Deus Vult was released in October 2007. A sequel using the newer Clausewitz Engine, Crusader Kings II, was released in February 2012, and another sequel, Crusader Kings III, was released on September 1, 2020.


The game is set primarily in Europe in the mid to late Middle Ages in the time-period from December 26, 1066 (the day after the coronation of William the Conqueror) until December 30, 1452 (five months before the fall of Constantinople). Three scenarios are also included in the game, namely: the Battle of Hastings (1066), the Third Crusade (1187), and the Hundred Years' War (started in 1337).[2]


Unlike other Paradox titles (such as the first two Europa Universalis series), Crusader Kings is a dynasty simulator with similarities to role-playing video games in that it focuses on a trait-based individual whose primary goal is the growth and enrichment of their dynasty. In the game, the player attempts to lead their dynastic demesne across four centuries, while managing its familial, economic, military, political, and religious affairs and stability. Rulers are supported by appointed councillors, a Chancellor, Steward, Marshal, Spy Master, and Diocese Bishop, and oversee scutage from their vassals.

In addition, yearly random events, as well as hundreds of pre-scripted ones based on the historical themes, make for varied game play and challenges. Crusader Kings also differs from many similar turn-based strategy games in that time flows continuously rather than taking place in discrete turns. As such, the player is able to pause the game, examine the map and its characters, and make decisions and give orders, then speed up or slow down time as events take their course.

Over time, based on the territories and titles held, characters can be elevated upwards in status (from count, duke, king, to emperor substantive titles) or regress as status and lands are lost. The lowest level count vassal tiers (i.e. castle baron, city mayor, church bishop), as seen in Crusader Kings II are not represented. The game is lost if no direct member of the playable dynasty holds or inherits an imperial, royal, or noble rank.


The lead game programmer was Johan Andersson. The engine for the game was based on the one developed for Europa Universalis II, i.e. the updated Europa Engine, which had been released in December 2001.[3] The similarities between the two games, and the release of a save game converter, allow players to continue their game after 1419 through Europa Universalis II.

In North America, Crusader Kings was originally planned to be published by Strategy First. However, Paradox revealed in June 2004 that it would self-publish the game, which it called "a way for Paradox to secure our intellectual property and to serve our customers in a better way."[4]


The game received "average" reviews according to the review aggregation website Metacritic,[5] and many U.S. reviews came in a few months before the game's official U.S. release.[6][8][9][10][11][13]

In the 2013 book Digital Gaming Re-imagines the Middle Ages, the author explains that:

As digital medievalism, Crusader Kings models systems of cultural change in the Middle Ages rather than merely assigning cultural labels to people and geographic areas of Europe at specific chronological dates. The game attempts to avoid anachronism through historically based systems of gameplay, rather than through rote inclusion of historical facts.[14]


  • Strategy Gaming Online Editor's Choice award[15]
  • Game Vortex Top Pick award[16]


A downloadable expansion pack called Deus Vult ("God wills it" in Latin) was released in October 2007.[14][17][18] Improvements to the base game included:[19]

  • graphics overhaul including new windows and alert icons
  • inter-character relations (including the addition of friendship and rivalry)
  • new realm stability and diplomacy options (e.g. sending fosterlings to other courts)
  • new character traits and the evolution of childhood stats from age 0
  • new random events
  • additional tools for modders

As with other Paradox games, within days of release, fan made mods began to appear such as The Deus Vult Improvement Pack, aimed at fixing bugs and making the map, cultures, and characters more historically accurate.[20][21]


  1. ^ Ported to Mac by Virtual Programming.


  1. ^ "Virtual Programming offers Gangland, Crusader Kings". Macworld. Archived from the original on 2023-04-23. Retrieved 2023-04-23.
  2. ^ "Crusader Kings for Macintosh (2005)". MobyGames. Archived from the original on 2021-06-02. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  3. ^ "Crusader Kings - PC". Archived from the original on 2021-06-03. Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  4. ^ Calvert, Justin (June 16, 2004). "Paradox to self-publish Crusader Kings". GameSpot. Archived from the original on March 11, 2005.
  5. ^ a b "Crusader Kings for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on October 25, 2017. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Durham Jr., Joel (June 4, 2004). "Crusader Kings". Archived from the original on June 25, 2004. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  7. ^ Goodfellow, Troy S. "1066 and All That". Computer Games Magazine (165). Archived from the original on November 29, 2011.
  8. ^ a b Liberatore, Rafael (August 2004). "Crusader Kings" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 241. p. 80. Archived from the original on June 17, 2004. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Todd, Brett (June 10, 2004). "Crusader Kings Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Chick, Tom (June 8, 2004). "GameSpy: Crusader Kings". GameSpy. Archived from the original on June 2, 2020. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  11. ^ a b Hopper, Steven (May 25, 2004). "Crusader Kings - PC - Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  12. ^ Butts, Steve (September 24, 2004). "Crusader Kings". IGN. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Crusader Kings". PC Gamer. July 2004. p. 74.
  14. ^ a b Kline, Daniel T. (2013-09-11). Digital Gaming Re-imagines the Middle Ages. Routledge. ISBN 9781136221828.
  15. ^ "Award-Winning Crusader Kings Now Available in Stores". Paradox Interactive. September 28, 2004. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  16. ^ Horwitz, Andrew (2004). "Crusader Kings". Game Vortex. Archived from the original on July 27, 2018. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  17. ^ "Crusader Kings: Deus Vult - PC". Archived from the original on 2021-06-02. Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  18. ^ "Crusader Kings: Deus Vult launched on GamersGate". 4 October 2007. Archived from the original on 2021-06-02. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  19. ^ "Announcement - Crusader Kings: Deus Vult". Paradox Interactive Forums. Archived from the original on 2019-10-19. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  20. ^ "The Deus Vult Improvement Pack". Paradox Interactive Forums. 7 October 2007. Archived from the original on 2020-03-31. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  21. ^ "FilePlanet - DVIP The Deus Vult Improvement Pack". FilePlanet. Archived from the original on 2021-06-02. Retrieved 2019-07-21.

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