Crusader Kings II

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Crusader Kings II
Crusader Kings II box art.jpg
Developer(s) Paradox Development Studio
Publisher(s) Paradox Interactive
Distributor(s) Steam
Director(s) Henrik Fåhraeus
Producer(s) Johan Andersson
Designer(s) Henrik Fåhraeus
Christopher King
Programmer(s) Henrik Fåhraeus
Johan Lerström
Fredrik Zetterman
Artist(s) Fredrik Toll
Composer(s) Andreas Waldetoft
Engine Paradox Development Studio
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux
Release Microsoft Windows
February 14, 2012[1]
May 24, 2012[2]
January 14, 2013
Genre(s) Grand strategy
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer

Crusader Kings II is a grand strategy game set in the Middle Ages, developed by Paradox Development Studio and published by Paradox Interactive as a sequel to Crusader Kings. It was released for Microsoft Windows on February 14, 2012.[1] An OS X version, Paradox Interactive's first in-house development for the operating system, was released on May 24, 2012.[2] A Linux version was also released on January 14, 2013.

The game has been Paradox's second most successful release to date, after Cities: Skylines, with over 1 million copies sold.[3]


The game is a dynasty simulator where the player controls a Medieval dynasty from 1066 to 1453, though the DLC The Old Gods and Charlemagne allow for an earlier start date of 867 and 769, respectively. Through the strategic use of war, marriages and assassinations among many other things, the player works to achieve success for his or her dynasty. The game contains numerous historical figures such as William the Conqueror, Charlemagne, Harold Godwinson, Robert Guiscard, Harald Hardrada, El Cid, Constantine X Doukas, Harun al-Rashid, Alexios I Komnenos, Alfred the Great, and Saladin, but allows for the player to choose less significant figures such as minor dukes and counts, and creation of entirely new characters with the use of the "Ruler Designer" DLC.

The simulation is open-ended, so the definition of success is completely defined by the player. The only in-game objective is to obtain as many prestige and piety points as possible in order to surpass the various historically relevant European dynasties in a fictional prestige ranking (the three most prestigious ones being the Capetian, the Rurikovich and the Habsburg dynasties). The game ends when the player's current character dies without an heir of the same dynasty to succeed him/her, when all landed titles are stripped from all members of the player's dynasty, or simply when the in-game year changes to 1453.[citation needed]

The game employs a genetics and education system where children will inherit many traits, culture, religion and skills from their parents and guardian. This adds an additional layer of strategy to marriages, such that a player will attempt not only to form beneficial alliances, but also to select marriage partners with strong heritable traits to maximise the quality of offspring and thus strengthen the dynasty. This requires balancing sometimes conflicting interests. For example, while one possible marriage might allow some desirable alliance to be formed with another ruler, it may also require marrying a spouse with some undesirable traits. Such a trade-off can occur in the reverse as well: one possible spouse could possess highly desirable traits but yield no new alliances for the player's dynasty.[4]

While a player can choose almost any landed noble to play, there are some which are unplayable without the use of mods, notably: Theocracies (most notably The Papacy) and landed Holy Orders/Mercenaries (for example, the Templars or the Catalan Company) as well as minor Republics (such as Novgorod) and baronies are unplayable. Muslims, Pagans, Jews, Indians, and Merchant Republics (most notably Venice) are playable with the Sword of Islam,[5] The Old Gods,[6] "Sons of Abraham", "Rajas of India" and The Republic[7] DLC respectively.

Expansions and DLC[edit]

Crusader Kings II is updated through patches, with packs of extra features being released as DLC available through Steam or the in-game store which is connected to GamersGate.

Title Release Date Patch Version Notable features
Sword of Islam June 26, 2012[5] 1.06
  • Muslim rulers become playable, with unique features:
    • Polygamy
    • Decadence
    • Agnatic Open Succession
Legacy of Rome October 16, 2012[8] 1.07
  • May have a standing army, called a Retinue
  • Mend the Great Schism, making Catholicism an Orthodox heresy
  • Adds the possibility to reform the Roman Empire
  • Events and decisions for the Byzantine Empire
The Republic January 12, 2013[7] 1.09
  • Introduces the ability to play as a Patrician of a Merchant Republic
The Old Gods May 28, 2013[6] 1.10
  • Start date of January 1, 867
  • Pagan rulers become playable, with unique features:
    • May raid provinces for money and prestige
    • Casus Belli to subjugate other pagans
    • May reform their religion to create a formal religious hierarchy
Sons of Abraham November 18, 2013[9] 2.0
  • Jewish rulers become playable
  • Adds the College of Cardinals to the Papacy, allowing rulers to gain influence over the Pope
Rajas of India March 25, 2014[10] 2.1
  • Makes Hindu, Jain and Buddhist rulers playable, with unique features for each
Charlemagne October 14, 2014[11] 2.2
  • Start date of January 1, 769
    • Introduces Charlemagne as a playable character
  • Zunist rulers become playable
  • May form custom kingdoms and empires
  • May grant titles to viceroys which are passed back to their liege upon death
Way of Life December 16, 2014[12] 2.3
  • Ruler may set a Focus, giving increased attributes and unlocking focus-specific events and traits
Horse Lords July 14, 2015[13] 2.4.1
  • Nomadic rulers become playable, with unique features:
    • Casus Belli to conquer any adjacent province
    • Casus Belli to subjugate one entire realm per lifetime
    • Nomadic Succession, where the brother or son with the most prestige becomes heir
    • May declare a blood feud with another Khan, allowing raiding of the Khans provinces
    • May force rulers to become tributaries, making them pay a monthly tax to their suzerain.
Conclave February 2, 2016[14] 2.5.1
  • Introduces new council mechanics, allowing council members to vote on realm laws and declarations of war.
  • Revised education system for minors
  • Political favors
  • New realm laws
The Reaper's Due August 25, 2016[15] 2.6.1
  • Epidemics Improved: Diseases spread from province to province along trade and sea lanes
  • Hospitals and Royal Physicians:
  • Prosperity and Royal Focus: Well managed provinces in peaceful kingdoms pay larger dividends in gold and levies
  • Seclusion: Rulers can hide behind locked castle gates during epidemics, and ignore the plight of those outside
  • New Event Chains: Such as the fear of the "End of Days", or seeking supernatural origins or solutions to problems
Monks and Mystics March 7, 2017 2.7
  • Monastic Orders: will increase the character’s piety via lay offices
  • Cults: Characters can join Gnostic heresies or darker groups
  • Climb the Ranks: Characters can work their way up the leadership of Societies
  • Hunt for Heretics: Chaplains can be sent out to find secret societies that undermine the holy church
  • Other New Councillor Actions: Councillors now have a fourth action that will make them more powerful
  • Also new concepts such as treasury room, holy relics, inheritable items, and item/relic hunts[16]
Other notable Downloadable Content
Title Release Date Notable features
Sunset Invasion November 15, 2012[17]
  • Fantasy scenario where the Aztecs invade Europe
  • Aztec culture and religion
Ruler Designer April 18, 2012[18]
  • May create a custom ruler
    • Customize portrait
    • Set name and coat of arms of dynasty
    • Assign attribute points
    • Create spouse and children
Europa Universalis 4 Save Converter August 13, 2013[19]

Notable Mods[edit]

A total conversion mod based on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novels was released in May 2012.[20][21][22] On 17 December 2013, a massive expansion to this mod was released, adding the eastern continent of Essos.[23]

A total conversion mod based on Bethesda Softworks's The Elder Scrolls video game series was attempted in early July 2012 and received its first release on April 1, 2013. Entitled "Elder Kings", the mod recreated the majority of known landmasses of Nirn. Tamriel included all 9 provinces (Including the Orcs homeland Orsinium, though not as its own province.) Akavir, Atmora, Cathnoquey, Esroniet, Pyrandonea and Yokuda were also included in the modification. All major races from the Elder Scrolls games were playable.[24]

Release and reception[edit]

Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic 82/100[25]
Review scores
Publication Score
GameSpot 8/10[26]
IGN 8/10[27]
PC PowerPlay 7/10[28]

A demo was released on February 4, 2012, which featured four playable characters over a 20-year span.[29] A marketing campaign for the game featured light comedy videos on the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins.[30]

The game was met with generally positive reviews and has attained a metascore of 82 at Metacritic.[31] GameSpot reviewer Shaun McInnis stated "Through a complex system of diplomacy and backstabbing, Crusader Kings II makes every power struggle an engrossing one" and he lauded the gameplay while noting the "lackluster tutorials".[26] IGN summed up their review by saying "An intense learning curve, but a unique strategy experience".[27] IGN rated the gameplay and "lasting appeal" a 9/10.[27] A reviewer for Rock, Paper, Shotgun stated that Crusader Kings II was "probably the most human strategy game" he ever played.[32] Rob Zacny of PC PowerPlay, who gave the game a 7/10 score, called it a "brilliant treatment of feudalism in terms of strategy and story" but also stated it "requires major investment to overcome information overload".[28] Kotaku named the game as one of their game of the year nominees.[33]

By February 13, 2015, the game sold over 1.1 million copies, with the expansion packs sales totaling over 2.5 million units sold and the cosmetic DLCs 5.5 million. According to Paradox Interactive, the game is played by an average of 12,500 players every day, 104,000 per month, with an average playtime of 99 hours per player.[34]


  1. ^ a b "Buy Crusader Kings 2 - Paradox Interactive". 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  2. ^ a b "Crusader Kings II released for Mac". Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  3. ^ Zacny, Rob (September 20, 2014). "How Crusader Kings 2 caught Paradox by surprise". Archived from the original on September 22, 2014. 
  4. ^ Joe Martin (February 9, 2012). "Crusader Kings 2 PC Preview". bit-tech. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Crusader Kings II: The Republic". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Crusader Kings II: Way of Life". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords". Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Crusader Kings II: Conclave". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Crusader Kings II: The Reaper's Due". Retrieved August 30, 2016. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Crusader Kings II: Rule Designer". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Crusader Kings II: Europa Universalis IV Converter". Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  20. ^ Plunkett, Luke (28 May 2012). "There is an Awesome Game of Thrones Video Game. You Can Play it Right Now.". Kotaku. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  21. ^ Adam Smith (May 28, 2012). "A Mod Of A Game Of Thrones: Crusader Kings II". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  22. ^ "Crusader Kings 2's Game of Thrones mod update lets you feast on new scenarios | Mods, News". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  23. ^ "Crusader Kings 2: A Game of Thrones mod adding massive eastern continent". PC Gamer. 
  24. ^ Phil Savage (December 12, 2013). "Crusader Kings 2's Game of Thrones mod to welcome the Mother of Dragons next week". Mods. PC Gamer. Retrieved 2013-12-24. 
  25. ^ "Crusader Kings II for PC Reviews". Metacritic. 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  26. ^ a b Shaun McInnis (February 16, 2012). "Crusader Kings II Review". GameSpot. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  27. ^ a b c Eric Neigher (March 5, 2012). "Crusader Kings II Review". IGN. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  28. ^ a b Zacny, Rob (1 May 2012), "Crusader Kings II", PC PowerPlay, Australia: nextmedia, no. 203, p. 52 
  29. ^ "Crusader Kings II Demo". Retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  30. ^ Gonzalez, Christina (10 January 2012). "Crusader Kings II: Greed Enters the Fray in The Latest Deadly Sins Comic Trailer". Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  31. ^ "Crusader Kings II for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  32. ^ Adam Smith (2012-02-23). "Wot I Think: Crusader Kings II". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2013-02-02. When the consequences are so human they mean all the much more and this is probably the most human strategy game I’ve ever played. If it doesn’t wind up being among my very favourite games of the year, spectacular things will occur in the next ten months. 
  33. ^ Plunkett, Luke (4 January 2013). "Why Crusader Kings II Should Be Game Of The Year". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  34. ^ "Timeline Photos - Paradox Interactive". Facebook. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 

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