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Advanced small start guide

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This is a guide to my preferred start, which is almost always as a count or as a small duke in 1066, vassalized or not makes no difference. But if you start out as a vassal, your first goal will probably be to take over your liege's lands, so if that's not the direction which you want to go, an independent start might be better. Note that independent counts get a +50% bonus to their levies in their capital, while vassal counts do not get any bonus. In addition to the capital county bonus, independent dukes and above get a +25% bonus to levies in their holdings within the capital duchy. (For vassal dukes and kings, the bonuses are +25% for capital , and +15% for capital duchy).
I tend to go for ahistorical conquests, as radically different from history as possible. To that end, a couple of interesting vanilla map starts in 1066 are the Count of Napoli, who is the only Greek Orthodox in Italy and Lübeck, which starts nestled between three incredibly strong powers and a single county with a claim next door. There are obviously quite a few more but these serve as good examples since both of these are extremely difficult to survive, much less do well with, so I pull out all the stops as I will outline below. Be warned that some of these tactics are quite gamey.
Are nearby realms stronger than you? Do they have [[Casus belli|CBs]] against you, especially ones that would usurp your titles rather than make you a vassal?
If you are independent: would you be safer if you were to [[Diplomatic_actions#Swear_fealty|swear fealty]] to a higher-ranked neighbor or de jure liege? Beware, though, that you may be attacked before you get a response!Also, as mentioned above, your safety would be bought with a reduction to the levies you can raise.
=== Marriage ===
You want to find a wife on day 1 because most of the AI are also unmarried and will very quickly start snatching up the best wives. Focus on [[Traits#Congenital|genetic traits]], fertility, and stewardship (to increase your demesne size). The ideal wife is young, {{iconify|Midas touched}}, {{iconify|Genius}}, {{iconify|Strong}}, and {{iconify|Lustful}}.
You can use the marriage rings to try to find a high stewardship wife. If you can find one that is of the same culture , then even better. Your future wife will have to be of your religion group, otherwise the AI will never accept the marriage. Go to your character finder and just look for unmarried women, sort by stewardship. Due to stat boosts, Genius (the best genetic trait) and Midas touched (the highest-fertility education) should float to the top. You can enter searches such as "genius" or "midas" if you want.
== Consolidation of power ==
== Using your new court ==
Your invitations are now flying through the air via the magic medieval post office. You may also be putting down a rebellion from a failed imprisonment. Luckily, those who witnessed your tyrannical attempt at imprisonment are gone, and by the time you put down the rebellion , you will have a free [[title revocation|revoke]]. If you can't revoke due to Crown Authority then you may end up killing/banishing again but for only one or two with any new vassals starting with +20 it isn't as big of a deal.
=== Arrange marriages ===