Talk:Advanced small start guide

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I found this guide very gamey in that its legal within the game but feels to me like it breaks the spirit. What I generally do is described below.


  1. Work out my initial strategy - what are my strengths (e.g. alliances), weaknesses (e.g. different religion/culture to subjects), opportunities (e.g. CBs, weak neighbours) and threats (e.g. powerful neighbours with CBs). CK2 is often quite volatile so expect to have to regularly review this.
  2. Check marriage status. If not married set your ambition to get married. Then find the best wife for you and any heirs or kin. At this point there are generally very few good alliances available, but research this as a good early alliance can make a big difference. Otherwise stats take priority. High stewardship and/or diplomacy matter the most. If you've no good spymasters you can always go for high intrigue and make your new wife spymaster.
  3. Check the laws. If you are gavelkind change to Elective and/or Primogeniture if you can. If not check the issues stopping you and work quickly at resolving them. Change the city tax to Harsh. I'll normally follow this by upping the CA to medium, although you often can't do this in a small start.
  4. Check vassals. Give honorary titles out to vassals where it matters (e.g. mayors with negative opinion, bishops who'll start paying you, barons & counts to push them over +25).
  5. Assign councillors (you should have the best already allocated). Chancellor should fabricate a claim somewhere sensible. Marshal should research tech in your capital. The steward can try to get more money in your richest province or research tech in the capital. Spymaster I normally send to research tech somewhere good (e.g. Lecce). Chaplain should try to convert any province not of your religion or research tech in your capital.
  6. Technology - check the technology in your capital. Research techs that are furthest behind, if they are the same choose tactics, farming and legalism.
  7. Ambition - if you aren't getting married then typically I'd look for a revoke or kill plot that gives you one of your feudal vassals holdings. If not then just go for son/daughter etc/ Amass wealth is good, but 500 gold is a long
  8. Occasionally you'll want to move capital to another county you control with much better tech.

Initial Strategy[edit]

Situational Awareness[edit]

As a small realm its hard not to stress how important it is to be aware of your surroundings and what's happening. Know what alliances your neighbours have, what wars they are fighting and what wars their allies are fighting. As a 1-2 county realm there is little worse than a kingdom stomping all over you, wiping out your expensive mercenaries, killing your levies and making you incredibly vulnerable to attack. Only attack in wars you are sure you can win. If you are attacked and don't think you can win, see what the CB was. You may be able to give up whatever they are after. If you can't surrender as you'd lose the game, try to see if you can get a white peace.

If you feel you are very vulnerable but independent and at peace then one option is to offer vassalisation to a powerful neighbour.


Generally you'll have a tiny army, incapable of taking on anyone, and often no CB to attack anyone even if you did. So the priority is getting CBs on someone you can beat, and getting enough money for mercenaries to pay for the conquest. In many Catholic realms this is really a matter of waiting for a Fabricate claim event, paying for it (it doesn't matter if you go negative cash to do so), then saving for a mercenary company to make it happen. For Moslem's you've got the conquest option so just need 50 piety, which a quick Haji (always choose Humble!) will get you. Generally I'll aim for targets that mean I get create/usurp a duchy/kingdom and get De Jure CBs without having to fabricate or burn piety.

Make sure before you hire the mercs you've enough cash to pay for them for the likely duration of the war. Look at your cash flow (hover over the gold top right) and make a guess about how long the war will be. Typically I'll save up about 120 gold for a 75 gold merc company hire. When hiring mercs I normally do so before declaring war. I'll move them towards the target province then declare war about 5-7 days before they arrive in it. Typically the defender will raise levies, you'll kill them all, and then you get war score (and maybe ransom) from the battle plus the siege defenders are less numerous so the siege goes quicker.

Sometimes you get lucky and get multiple CBs before you press your claim. If you can exploit from a single mercenary hire then do so (making sure you've enough cash to fight all the wars.

I'll generally rinse and repeat this until my levies are big enough (usually 1000+) to do this without mercenary support.

Other options for CBs Holy Wars. I tend to be very wary of these early on since neighbours often pile in and you'll get overwhelmed, and have lost a lot of cash on mercenaries.

Marriage and Alliances[edit]

Alliances through marriage are very important. Getting an alliance with a relatively powerful neighbour (e.g. France if your are Spanish ruler) is very helpful for both deterring aggression against you, helping you win if you are attacked and can be used for offensive actions too.

As the game progresses you can often use marriages to help expand your empire. A favourite trick is marrying your heir to the daughter of a local ruler. Then either assassinate or plot to kill those in the way of her inheriting, or when she gets a claim, press it and your heir will inherit. You can also scheme to get your kin to become other rulers, giving you permanent alliances with them.

Could you make a guide of your own on the wiki as well, and link it on the top of this guide for people looking for a less gamey strategy? :)
For anything that's not a complete rewrite you're free to edit the guide itself. ~ Meneth (talk) 13:06, 9 August 2012 (CEST)
I concur, I've added a notice Template:Gamey so that readers are at least warned about that. Yet this guide can be useful when wanting to start in some impossible spot (for whatever reason ^^), so not sure what's best. Romulien (talk) 23:53, 17 January 2014 (CET)

Under "rebuilding your court", you could also mention matrilineal marriage as a chance. Find female courtiers (again, low intrigue and/or like you) and try to MM them to dudes outside your realm who have a good stat but don't hold any landed titles and therefore are willing to come over. Also can try inviting debutantes since you don't tend to start with a lot of women, which can get pricey. Options are limited, but this is worth a consideration and could land one or two decent council members. Second, consider granting landed title to someone outside your realm who likes you to get their council stat. With all those church and city holdings you've now taken over by revoke or revolt, you could grant a non-heir nobody (who likes you) a rather small title that brings them into your court and not have to worry about them growing to power; you still control the county via the barony, can still raise large personal levies and get taxes, and they will like you even more for the title grant. Wait a couple of days game time and you might even find someone who's ambition is to get married and they'll end up loving you at +100 opinion nearly forever.

Not gamey enough[edit]

When the guide to a small start warns you that it's gamey you'd expect a whole slew of cheap tricks and dirty strategies. This was practically white soft and fluffy. I also don't see how getting rid of vassals to replace them breaks the spirit of this game. It's a valid strat, and if you look at modern politics it's being used IRL to this day. The only difference here is the tyranny aspect. You obviously don't do that in a big realm without a good excuse but this is a SMALL start guide and in a small start getting rid of whole 3 barons and a dozen of nobodies who care about those barons is nothing to fret about.

Besides, you want a play-through that follows what reason and logic dictate? Well, reason and logic dictate that the underdogs (that is the part we play) are supposed to lose and the ones that have the upper hand (that is the role we DON'T play) are supposed to win. Have fun replaying that scenario with wahtever most non-gamey methods you can come up with.

I'm bothered by the opposite, there's really not enough info here to call it "advanced". Same goes for the "guidelines" posted on this discussion page. Mostly it's obvious and minor stuff. I really don't need to be told how to get better councillors, and WTF does that even have to do with small starts??? let alone ADVANCED small starts?

Well here's my obvious stuff then. WARNING! It's lacking. But if I knew all there is to know about the subject I wouldn't be reading someone else's guide in the first place, would I? Anyway...

Do your utmost to avoid being declared on by:

- Plotting to kill people who have claims on you. Prioritize rules (DUH) then people outside your realm starting with potential heirs to independent realms then potential heirs to vassal land, then unmarried nobodies in other courts with inheritable claims (you don't want rulers to marry them and have heirs with claims on your lands do you?), then just about everyone else (because adventurers).

- SFing to someone who has dejure claim on your lands. Because (DUH) Dejure claim don't die when people do.

- Making NAPs with Claimants or with neighbours that have other kinds of scary CBs.

Do your utmost to gain avenues of growth. And by growth we generally mean conquest. (You could always arrange to inherit nearby lands, but where's the fun in that?) Since there's no way you're going to win against an empire or even a decent kingdom with just your one county you need similarly small game to prey on. If there's a lot of it around you then stop reading already, you're probably NOT in a situation where you need an ADVANCED small start guide (lemme guess you're in Ireland?). If not then here's what we'll do. - If there's an indie or two of your size around DO try to gobble them up ASAP. - Once you're out of fish to catch (or if there wasn't any to begin with) go SF your way into a bigger pond. You're looking for a neighbouring realm of your religion and preferably your culture (group) but more importantly a realm where vassal wars are allowed. Once you're in, start eating other vassals.

Not exactly attracted by the above path? Here's two alternatives.

Alternative one - ally with empires and make them do their work for you. Harder than it sound (although not by much) and a hell of a lot more boring.

Alternative two - exploit crusades. Obviously you'll need to be one of those avaricious Catholics to do that. Let's make that clear from the start - we're not after the LAND that the crusade is targeting, that'd be a whole different kind of play-through, we're after the looting rights, so make sure you actually have a beneficiary you could dump those lands onto. For the actual crusade exploitation you'll need some troops and some money (may the Jews be with you). The more you have the better it will go but even if you have very little we can still get away with a good share of loot. Before the crusade starts take a good look at the target's lands and figure out the capitals of their direct vassals, because that's where the troops will pop up and that's where we want to be once the clock strikes 0 (days till crusade). OBVIOUSLY, look for the spawn you can handle, and steer clear of the ones you can not. And just in case - don't go too far from the coast. You can afford to lose troops, but you can't afford to lose battles, and ships should help you avoid the ones you'd lose).

So, like I was saying, before the crusade take a look where the enemy troops will spawn and figure out where you can go to kill some. Then somewhere between 200 and 100 days before crusade starts (depends on your mobilisation time and sailing distance) up your troops, hire your mercs, load them on your ships and go drive a wedge into enemy mobilisation routine. Just be ready for your wedge to come flying out of there like a cork out of a bottle once the enemy decides to react. Like I said, you CAN afford to lose troops, but that doesn't mean that you can afford to waste them - you want your victories to go as smooth as they can and for that after your initial success you'll want to meet up with your allies.

Did I say allies? I meant competitors. I mean, who the hell does that Holy Roman Emperor think he is coming here trying to steal your loot rights... Regardless, be sure you're close to those competitive reinforcements once your surprise advantage reaches it's expiration date. This is when the tough part starts.

Your initial stunt have won you a lead in contribution and won your side an advantage in warfare, so now's the time to use the second to cement what's left of the first. Yes, what's left of it. See, that 99% contribution of yours will be gone in seconds.

Start occupying the infidel lands (but make sure it's actually you who's leading the siege) don't get distracted by nearby battles, that's not our thing. With how much people are being slaughtered in those crusades we don't have a snowball's chance in hell of outperforming our competitors in slaughter, and both our relative war contribution and war score effect from our involvement in fighting is going to be low. Instead, aim to end this war ASAP by doing sieges. Even if you don't perform particularly well you should get out of that crusade with more money than you spend on mercs and troop maintenance. If you manage to snatch 1st place (quite doable if you're duke-sized by the time the crusade fires and have saved up some money for mercs) you'll sail out of there filthy rich.

And they told me it's Vikings who were looting in shiploads... BHAH!

Be warned, that while the process of coming with a first place out of the crusade is fun, the results are NOT. It's not out of the question to walk out of with with 13k gold 8k prestige and 4k piety. Next you can just butter up the pope, ask him for invasion rights, and go p2w your way into kinghood with multiple mercenary companies on your payroll.

Not very orthodox, but if your goal was something like "put house X on the throne of realm Y then do Z" and you don't care much for the process behind the 1st step then this is good short-cut through that. 15:58, 2 January 2020 (UTC)