Part 1: I. Introduction and Baldwin IV 1187-1193 A.D.
What is this Let's Play about?:
Welcome! This is a Let's Play of not just one, not two, not even three, but FOUR simulation/alternate history video games by Paradox Entertainment.
We're going to start in the Dark Ages and go all the way up to World War II. We'll follow the fortunes of a family and a nation through eight hundred years of war and glory.
Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis III, Victoria, and Hearts of Iron 2.
(All with relevent expansion packs)
Tell me about Crusader Kings.
Crusader Kings is a simulation of the Middle Ages that runs from the year 1066-1453. Unlike many strategy games you don't play a country so much as you play a bloodline and a dynasty. The vast majority of your countries lands are neither owned or controlled by you, but by your vassals, and a large chunk of gameplay is managing thier happiness and keeping your realm together. Your family members can have friends and rivals, they can murder each other and have passionate affairs, it gets quite complex. It's quite possible to end up with a inbred, crippled, stuttering, schizophrenic, possibly gay, King who's locked in an endless game of assassination tennis against his little brother.
It's kinda like the Sims. Except with stabbing people and Jihad.
Tell me about Europa Universalis III.
This is Paradox's flagship game about the Rennisance and Age of Exploration. With the Napoleon's Ambition expansion pack it runs from 1453-1820. It's very detailed and totally dynamic. Take your nation from feudal lords and pikemen to a constitutional republic, cannons, and massed infantry fire. You can, if you know what you're doing, turn the Ottoman Turks into a colonial power, colonize New York, and rename it New Baghdad.
Tell me about Victoria.
Victoria is the only game ever made where you can turn the Republic of Texas into a brutal communist dictatorship and conquer the world. I am not fucking kidding you. Victoria, with the Revolutions expansion pack, runs from 1836-1936. The game has an insanely detailed population and economics model that, frankly, leaves me a google-eyed. I haven't actually played this game much, so I imagine part of the amusment when we get to this point will be watching how badly I screw up trying to industrilize.
Tell me about Hearts of Iron 2
With the Doomsday expansion pack it takes the seires up to around 1953. In a nutshell, it's World War II. It also has lots of high-end technology, so you can build ICBMs, nuclear submarines, and jet fighters. It runs in 'real time' ticks of individual hours and has a detailed global weather simulation. I'm haven't played this one much either, so I have a sneaking suspicion things are going to end in blood and fire.
But, hey, if Dwarf Fortress has taught me anything it's that losing is fun!
This is all so confusing!
I'm trying to stick to the narrative thread rather then get bogged down in gameplay minuate. There are a LOT of events and minor goings on I'm not going to mention or even touch on. If I did we'd be here for the next fifteen years. Still, if you have any gameplay mechanics questions, do ask, and I'll do my best to answer.
What country are you playing?
We'll be playing the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Crusader kingdom carved out of what's now modern day Israel during the first Crusade in 1099 A.D.
What year are you starting in?
1187. This is first Crusader Kings scenario where the Kingdom of Jerusalem is available. It also happens to be the year that Jerusalem was conquered by Saladin.
Who's your King?
Baldwin IV. If you've seen Kingdom of Heaven it's this guy:
Except, in our version of history he's not a leper.
Just a few things:
This is a Medieval 2 video I found while searching for other stuff, but the song is kinda cool and appropriate for my theme, so I'll post it, `cause it always gets me in the mood to update:
Also, threads like this are popular on the official Paradox Forums at http://www.europa-universalis.com so if you like this you might go check them out to read some others. However, many of those threads can be insanely role-playing heavy. In this Let's Play there will be no seven page dialogues between our king and his minister of taxation. Crusader Kings also contains a huge amount of minor events, pointless court character interactions, and minor details. It's not important, in the grand scheme of things, that I build a library in Bethlehem or that the nephew of my Marshall stutters. So we'll be skipping most of that crap and focusing on the big characters and big events.
This is a huge undertaking, but it's one I've been planning for a while, so I'm serious about getting it done. Serious enough to Toxx-clause myself. Barring irreparable crash bugs, death by Mongol, or total inter-game conversion failure I WILL finish this.
Our 'point of divergence' for Crusader Kings is Baudouin IV, King of Jerusalem. Also known as Baldwin, the Leper King. Now, in our universe the young Baudouin never contracts leprosy and survives to lead Jerusalem past when he did historically. I didn't need to invent the character; the starting scenarios in Crusader Kings already have a whole slew of dead ancestors and relatives, so I just restored him to life and his rightful place as King.
I also tweaked the color of Jerusalem to be a nice clean white on the political map rather then the god-awful orange it used to be. Finally I removed the events that spawn the religious orders in the middle of your territory because I find it really annoying to have your vassals constantly surrendering their land to what amount to independent kingdoms in the middle of your country regardless of how many times you reannex them.
Let's get started!
This is where things stand in the year 1187 A.D. The Kingdom of Jerusalem is the white nation in the center, established during the First Crusade in 1099. The purple in the upper left is the slowly dwindling Byzantine Empire, last remnant of ancient Rome. The yellow country beside Byzantium is run by the Seljuk Turks. The massive green empire is Egypt, run by everyone's favorite Jihadist Saladin. Everything else are less immediately important or relevant minor duchies or Islamic holdings. Generally, round shields are Muslim while everything else is Christian.
This is our King. In real life he'd already be dead of leprosy, but in our world he's still kicking. At the top of his icon you can see his gold, prestige, and piety. The King's personal gold is also the Kingdom's personal gold, so we'll need to get some of that pronto. Our prestige is our standing amongst nations and it affects a lot of things, including events, diplomatic actions, and how much our vassals like us. It can also be spent to create a legitimate claim on Christian lands (the only way of taking them in peace). Our piety shows our standing in the eyes of God. Or, more exactly, what everyone else THINKS our standing in the eyes of God is. It's also important and helps to decrease any bad reputation we get from being a megalomaniacal conquering bastard.
Generally our prestige and piety will go up (or down) by a tiny amount each month based off our traits and how much we donate to the church and stuff. But most of it will come from in-game actions.
Our base stats are the numbers you see, while the numbers in parentheses are our stats with the aid of the various members of our Court. These will change often, so I won't go into too much detail about who's doing what unless some fun stuff comes out of it.
We have four vassals who owe us allegiance. Unlike most empire building games we don't actually own all our nations land. Most of it will be administrated by vassals who actually collect the taxes, improve the land, and control the troops.
We'll want to keep an eye on these fellows. Some of them may be our friends or rivals. We can piss them off by taking control of their troops for long periods of time and make them happy by lowering their feudal dues or giving them land and such.
On to our neighbors.
This is Saladin. In real life he captured Jerusalem in the same year we're starting play, 1187. Fortunately, the Kingdom is now run by Baudouin and not the twit who was running it in real life, so we can hopefully dodge that bullet. We still need to be careful though, Saladin's empire can raise way more soldiers then we can, and he's a great leader so we'll want to be quiet as dormice for a while.
The head of the Abbasid Caliphate, the red country in modern day Iraq. The Abbasid's are allied to Saladin, so if we piss him off we'll have these bastards breathing down our necks too. Let's avoid that.
Leader of the Seljuk Turks. I imagine he'll be too busy playing with the corrupt Byzantines to give us much trouble, but it's still good to know he's up there.
That's that, now the real fun begins…
Our first order of business is getting married. At 26, poor Baudouin has spent far too long a virgin. He needs a legitimate heir to the throne or the Kingdom of Christ on Earth is finished. We could spend a lot of time hunting for someone who might give us a line of inheritance on another throne but nearly all our neighbors are Muslim anyway and what we really need is someone young and fertile so we can expand our dynasty. Currently if Baudouin dies there is no heir and it's game over as we're playing a bloodline more then a nation.
Fortunately a little searching around we find a suitable bride in the Duchy of Jaffa-Ascalon, run by Duke Guy de Lusignan. We propose to her and by February we're married!
This is our blushing bride, Geneviva. Her stats don't matter so much, as breeding for super-kids has been removed in the Deus Volt expansion. The little symbols under her name mean she's deceitful, trusting, and a flamboyant schemer. Not the best combo, maybe, but then again she's young, nubile, willing, and hopefully fertile. She'll do.
Long live Queen Geneviva!
Our initial plan is to lay low for a while and build up some cash while we fertilize our queen with sons and improve our lands. But like all plans, ours goes awry quickly. In April of 1187, lacking anything better to do with his time, the Pope declares a Crusade against the Egyptian capital of Egypt. While it may be our duty to march against the infidel we're really not stupid enough to throw ourselves against the might of Egypt, so we decide to lay low and see what happens.
The tiny Kingdom of Portugal declares war on Egypt immediately, but otherwise things seem pretty quiet, so we bide our time.
In May we get great news, Baudouin has wasted no time… Geneviva is pregnant! Nine months later, in February of 1188 a son is born to Jerusalem and we name him Charles. Our kingdom has been peaceful and free of trouble so our stability goes up from zero to +1. Stability is a new concept in the Deus Volt expansion pack. Unlike Europa Universalis you can't invest in it directly but it changes based off the current state of your kingdom. High stability gives you good events and low stability the opposite. It ranges from -3 to +3.
A few months later we notice that more and more nations have joined the Crusade and declared war on Egypt. Furthermore Saladin is nowhere to be seen. Egypt is instead run by this fellow:
Less scary then Saladin to be sure. What happened to Saladin? Hard to say. Most of Egypt's troops are no longer at home, so I imagine they've marched off to fight the invaders someplace and perhaps Saladin ate an arrow or two. In any case, he's gone and the heartland of Egypt is only lightly defended.
This is an unlooked for opportunity, but one we ought to take advantage of. We quickly mobilize as many of our troops as we can and declare war on Egypt. In August, five thousand troops sail for Alexandria while the rest remain home to defend Jerusalem and the homeland from invasion.
The army of Baudouin.
While the death of Saladin seems to have severed the alliance with the Abassid Caliphate, the new Egyptian Caliph Mu'izz has an alliance with the light green nation north of the Abassid, the Emirate of Kirkuk, who start sending troops against us as well.
We arrive in Alexandria in November of 1188 and very shortly thereafter are joined by Crusaders from several nations. Bohemians join us in our siege of Alexandria, while a Sicilian army marches south and French armies land on the coast to our east.
Geneviva has been traveling in camp with King Baudouin, and in January the happy couple discover she's pregnant once again.
In February of 1189, Alexandria falls to our troops who move east to attack more Egyptian land. In July Egypt cedes Alexandria to us and we make peace with them. Our war against Kirkuk isn't doing quite so well, as they've already forced one of our vassals to cede two provinces, Tiberias and Amman.
The war against Kirkuk is bleeding us both white. I can't seem to retake either of the provinces they stole from my vassal, but they can't make any headway into my land. During the war though we're faced with an important choice. We have to decide how our young son Charles will be raised. We can raise him ourselves, but this will take away from our future fertility as we'll be spending so much time with him, or we have various options of sending him to be raised by nannies, monks, or a local noble. We take the fertility hit and raise him our self, because the future King of the Kingdom of Christ needs close attention. In October Geneviva gives birth to a girl, Elizabeth. She'll be raised by monks. I won't be lowering my fertility to raise a girl!
Days after Elizabeth is born, we're confronted by this. Our court Spymaster claims that Charles, Charles is a bastard and Queen Geneviva has been sleeping around on me. This simply can't be true. I refuse to believe it. But even still, King Baudouin gains a new trait: Suspicious.
Meanwhile our economy hasn't been doing so great. We're at -240 gold as our armies cost a lot to support. Even if the war with Kirkuk ended immediately, it would still probably take a year or more to dig ourselves out of debt. But out of nowhere, God blesses us! Our positive stability triggers an event where we can gain a pile of extra gold at a 50% risk of dropping our stability. We go for it and our treasury bounds back in the black to over 400 gold and our stability remains unaffected.
The good news continues in early 1190. An event pops up telling us that the 'Heathens are splintered' and giving us the chance to make a white peace with our enemy, Kirkuk. We take it. A month later the Duke of Antioch asks to become our vassal, no doubt impressed by our performance in the war. We accept of course.
The crusade officially ends in victory in June of 1192 and this is how the Kingdom looks:
As you can see, our vassals lost three provinces on the eastern side of the Kingdom, one to Egypt and two to Kirkuk. But we've gained three provinces too, the two owned by the Duke of Antioch and the insanely rich Alexandria. I feel the war has been a clear success, if for no other reason then that Egypt as almost certainly been fatally weakened. You can see the Egyptian heartland has been divvied up. Three provinces to France (blue), one to Bohemia (brown), and one to Sicily (pale green).
Not all news is so good though. Over the next few years Queen Geneviva gives birth to two stillborn children. Baudouin begins to worry that Charles may be his only heir. Thus, when the young boy is clearly having trouble learning to speak, Baudouin does his best to beat some sense into him. Pampering the boy has far too high a chance of leading to him ending up with a stutter. Young Charles gains the trait hostile, which gives a -1 to his diplomacy skills but a +1 to his martial skills.
In June of 1193, finally, Charles gains a young brother, Jacques. Charles also is starting to develop more a personality.
We encourage him to play outside more, which leads to him becoming energetic. Another +1 to martial, a +1 to diplomacy, but a -1 to intrigue. This is how the boy looks at five years old:
Our first update ends here.
Assassins stalking newborns!
Expanding the Kingdom in Egypt!
Charles grows up, has bad taste in facial hair!