Crusader Kings III Beginner’s Guide, Tips, and Tricks

This guide explores scenarios that maximize flavor, fun, and immersion, as well as the occasional gameplay and achievement tip.


I have played Paradox Games since I was a wee lad and one unifying factor that keeps me engaged is immersion and roleplaying.

Yes, I like to win. But winning is so much better when it is earned and it has flavor. The most memorable games of CK2 and 3 in my memory are ones where things went bad. Were not optimal. I had to play characters I didn’t anticipate (That were also trash. Your alcoholic, unlikable, cowardly uncle for example.). The games where a civil war almost ended your line.

Beyond the misfortune, there is just plain old flavor. I like playing plausible characters that let me create an alternate vision of history to enjoy. People with flaws and strengths in realistic situations.

In order to preserve challenge and unpredictability I recommend you always play on Ironman with balanced characters. There is nothing more boring than starting with a Herculean Genius Hottie who starts perfect. I have no issue with cultivating OP traits in your family over time, but that takes generations and isn’t guaranteed. So you will appreciate it more when it happens. Ironman is crucial to me to have fun. Yes like 15% of the time you will just lose and be screwed, but most of the time it is worth it as no matter how insane powerful you are there is still risk.

There is a bit of a cheat you can use for Ironman for the most dire of situations. Just control alt delete and end the program. If you’re lucky and it wasn’t auto-saved you will get to load one save back and might be able to avoid disaster.

Also never play on max speed I have lost giant wars because a split second too much cost me warscore and doomed me.

A general tip for succession. Try to have a religion or culture that allows controlling your heirs, or work your way towards adding it to yours. You do not have to but executing your own sons to fix succession will quickly make everyone hate you. Greek lets you make Eunuchs, which is obviously monstrous but it works if you do not want a certain son to inherit. Orthodox and Catholic allow you to make your children into monks.

Once you are in the mid game and beyond you do not need these as you can just disinherit heirs you do not want because you will have an excess of Renown. There are various ways to farm renown two being Family Epics and the cultural trait that makes feasts give Renown. The more family members you have alive and the more power they wield means more raw Renown per month. So making eunuchs and monks can be very counter-productive because you are stifling your own Renown gain. Pray for daughters and marry them matrilineally.

I do not like starting as anything higher than duchy, When you start as a king you just took away one of the most satisfying elements of the game away – earning it. If that isn’t an issue for you then starting as a king in these scenarios will make them much easier and will let you get straight to the point.

Starting location is subjective. I picked the starting locations and dates for a reason. If you want a greater or lesser challenge or a different location go for it. You can make the game as hard or easy as you want to. Always pick count if you want the most obnoxious challenges. It’s can be nearly impossible to succeed as a count in a bad spot (more so in CK2), but I won’t fault you for trying :).

There are many things that are second nature to me that may not be obvious to others. I will try to list any small tips I have. Also, I love imparting my knowledge on to others. If anyone wants help or has questions please ask.

Any cultures can be mixed, even if its really hard. All you have to do is convert one province in your lands to your culture then boost cultural acceptance with your Steward. Sometimes you will need to convert two or three provinces to get enough acceptance. It is time consuming but will allow you to make any combinations you want if you are persistent enough!

I love trying out all the different religions, although it can be window dressing to a point. There are some tenets though that you will only see in certain religious groups so it is worth trying! I guarantee in the future there will be a religion focused expansion. Same goes for nomads as they need to be differentiated more from just regular tribal. I recommend being patient and waiting for your Mongol conquest campaign until they do something to make it more unique. Also they will add China. Cannot wait.

I tried to make all of the scenarios make sense. I am generally well-read and I did plenty of research. I hope to hear from people from around the world who have more firsthand knowledge of these peoples and places. Criticism or praise welcome.

Viking Valor

Starting Date – 867
Starting Location – Austr Agdir, Norway, Scandinavia
Culture – Touissanti, Frankish French and Northern Germanic Norse hybrid
Religion – Catholicism
Theme – Chivalry and Martial Prowess

Sent by King Charles and the Papacy with a divine mission – tame the Norse Lands and bring the word of God to them, by word, deed, or sword.

This campaign is a great time because it gives you an excuse to utilize the knight and chivalry focus of the French with the warrior culture of Norse. It lends much more weight to tournaments and being a warrior focused character while oozing flavor. The synergy between the two cultures for this purpose is off the chain. The Norse cultural trait “Performative Honor” allows women to become fighters as well, letting all characters participate in this warrior society. Belligerent, but chivalrous are we.

Milano Supremo

Starting Date – 1066
Starting Location – Provence, Burgundy, France
Culture – Milanese, Latin Cisalpine and Frankish Occitan hybrid
Religion – Catholicism
Theme – Chivalry, Politics, and Trade

A Kingdom in equal parts Mercantile and Honorable. Be a dutiful servant to the Holy Roman Emperors while taking the lands from your local rivals. Your house is concerned with winning tourneys as much as it is profiting off of Mediterranean trade. These things are what will win you distinction. With enough ambition one could even set their eyes on independence, in due time.

Any Medieval 2 Total War fans in the house? I got that game in sixth grade and it set me on the path of loving history my entire life. Milan was always an interesting faction to me because of its location.

For CK3 I enjoy being a vassal in a much larger empire, rather than being the top dog (unless I am specifically playing a conquest minded playthrough.) It provides more interesting gameplay challenges than just painting the map. And lends itself to more meaningful character interactions and A Song of Ice and Fire type machinations.

Start by taking all the land of your vassals and people nearby to garner the counties you want and establish a Kingdom.

While the starting location is not actually Milan, it was the most interesting to me while still being close. Feel free to change it to more a historically accurate start. You could be a count for a much harder challenge.


Starting Date – 867 or 1066
Starting Location – Kibyrrhaiotai, Anatolia, Turkey
Culture – Anatolian, Brythonic Welsh and Byzantine Greek hybrid
Religion – Orthodox
Theme – Longbow Enjoyers

The illegitimate son of Rhodri the Great, the Welsh King was exiled to prevent a potential succession crisis. Due to his family’s prominence and connections he found friends in the other half of Christendom. Now landed in the Byzantine Empire, his goal is to forge his own kingdom and people from the crumbling empire before the caliphates get there first. Soaring ambition is all one needs.

I made this character because I wanted to try the English Longbows but I find actually playing on the British Isles dreadfully boring because its too easy. Pretty much every strategy game ever the easiest place to take and hold is England.

The cultures have great synergy as the Greeks lend formation fighting and Cataphracts if you want them. Anatolia is riddled with hills which means quarries and mines which means MONEY.

Norse Revival

Starting Date – 1066
Starting Location – Jylland, Denmark, Scandinavia
Culture – Norscan, West Germanic Old Saxon and North Germanic Danish hybrid
Religion – Asatru
Theme – Rivalry and Tradition

In Scandinavia, old habits die hard. Despite the soft Christian interlopers corrupting most of the royalty, there are still those loyal to Odin. The time has come to restore Norse dominance and reform the religion to be able to stand on its own in the modern world. The challenge will be great, you have few friends. Keep to tradition, never be complacent, and do not forget your divine grudge.

If you want to play a family that is always angry and getting into scuffles with rivals and fools then look no further. Old Saxon and Danish combine for a very militaristic and aggressive culture. Rivalries are common and martial prowess is everything.

1066 is required as its the whole premise. This is a sort of glutton for punishment playthrough. Being Asatru means all your powerful neighbors will crave your destruction. I chose to start as a Duke in Denmark and win the inevitable civil war when my liege came for my lands. Once you are a King then you need to focus on getting your holy sites and reforming as quickly as possible. Norse is a bad at converting counties so you need to reform it to make it viable. You can take two paths. Become Christian Syncretic or go all in on hostility and make it a fundamentalist murder cult.

Illyrian Islam

Starting Date – 867 or 1066
Starting Location – Zachlumia, Croatia, Balkans
Culture – Illyriadi, Arabic Maghrebi and South Slavic Croatian hybrid
Religion – Islam
Theme – Colonization

Seeing an opportunity to bring the word of Muhammad to the European infidels, our people set sail for a potential weak point. Much of Europe is united in Christ. The Balkans are squabbling and vulnerable. Land there and create a legacy to stand the test of time. Seek to establish a caliphate and appoint your own imam to so that we can integrate into the area just as our brothers in Al-Andalus have.

If you want to play a hostile religion in one of the most hostile regions in the game, then look no further. Everyone will hate you and you will have an uphill battle. Persevere and you will be rewarded with a Croat caliphate. I made a new Islamic Religion and became syncretic with Christianity. The other way you could do it is remain fundamentalist and conquer everyone around you. In my game I made a matriarchal Islamic heresy due to the irony and because I rarely play female characters.

This is one of the hardest campaigns I have tried. I failed it many times. I ended up just swearing fealty to Byzantium once I was a Duke and that worked. Otherwise you will be constantly attacked by your neighbors and you WILL fall. If you become strong under the Byzantines then go independent later you will be able to maintain it.

Hellenic League

Starting Date – 1066
Starting Location – Messina, Sicily, Italy
Culture – Hellene, Byzantine Greek and Latin Sicilian hybrid
Religion – Hellenism
Theme – Pagan Republicanism

Long ago, the gods of Olympus held sway from Sicily to the Aegean. The Christians have all but extinguished the worship of the real and true gods. With the help of Zeus and Ares we will restore the ancient beliefs of our peoples, both in Italy and Greece.

I chose the 1066 start date because Italy is more fractured and therefore quicker to conquer. The biggest downside of being a non-Catholic in the heart of Christendom is that Holy Orders will make it much harder for you to take even small lands for yourself. Just assume every Catholic you attack is going to get a few thousand Knights Templar as backup. Because of this, the campaign was excruciatingly difficult for me. But if you have the right knowledge and experience you can avoid the pitfalls I fell into.

There are many interesting starting locations for this campaign. Start as the Duke of Athens if you want to already control a holy site for Hellenism but be warned your liege will hate you. If you start under Byzantine already then be a hot woman with Intrigue focus so you can use a hook on your liege to gain religious protection. I say hot woman because most rulers are straight men. So by having a ridiculous attraction opinion, you can make your liege love you and not act against you even if you are a hated religion. If your liege is gay RIP lol.

If you start independent you can swear fealty to Byzantium and get religious protection for free when you join them. I like playing religions that are not dominant inside another religion’s realm and reforming them to make you friendly with one another. Syncretic religious tenets are a great way to do this.

Teutonic Order

Starting Date – 867
Starting Location – Samogitia, Lithuania, Baltic Coast
Culture – Teuton, Baltic Lithuanian and Central Germanic Saxon hybrid
Religion – Catholicism
Theme – Christianization

The Papacy is always seeking new adherents. Your order was founded in Germany by the Holy Roman Emperor and the Holy See. They have tasked your order with taming the Baltic and beyond by force. We must Catholicize the area before Orthodoxy gains a foothold in our own backyard. Once the Baltic peoples are brought to heel then turn your focus to the Finnic peoples. Succeed and the Norse caught between our realms will have no choice but to convert or fall.

I really enjoy campaigns where I have to take a hostile religion and convert a region. This is exactly what the Teutonic Order tried to do in real life and failed at. The start date is important because if you pick the later date the pagan religions are already dying.

One of your primary goals should be seizing the Duchy of Holmgardr. Anytime I get the chance, I make Novgorod my capital. A legendary county in a legendary duchy, Also makes sense historically. If you can crush Rurik, you should be able to take the rest of the region with ease.

Baltic Kings

Starting Date – 1066
Starting Location – Estonia, Estonia, Baltic Coast
Culture – Latvian, Baltic Latgalian and Balto-Finnic Estonian hybrid
Religion – Vidilist
Theme – Pagan Stronghold

The Christian kings that surround us are poised to strike. They desire our lands and the destruction of our sacred traditions. Act now and take power, or fall to the deluge of Christian warriors soon the be unleashed upon us.

The inverse to the Teutonic Order campaign. Instead of the Christianization of the Baltic Coast you will fight off the Christians to your west and east and establish a rich coastal kingdom.

Start date is important because in 1066 pagans are the underdog. Always play the underdog 🙂

As usual, reform your religion and tool it towards your goals. I usually pick a syncretic tenet to get good marriages and gain friends.


Starting Date – 867
Starting Location – Konugardr, Ruthenia, Ukraine
Culture – Mariupol, Byzantine Greek and East Slavic Russian hybrid
Religion – Orthodox
Theme – Byzantine Loyalists

Your ancestors came from Greece centuries ago, bringing their culture and God with them. Over time the local Slavic people and the Greeks melded into one. It is time for the prodigal son to return. We seek reintegration with the Byzantine Empire. In order to accomplish this we must expand our realm until it borders Byzantium. Enemies surround us, but with quick decisive action, we can garner the Empire’s protection before the looming horse lords to our East come to conquer us.

This campaign is all flavor, and gives you a good excuse to try out Druzhina, the unique Russian Men-at-Arms. In my playthrough I swore fealty to Khazaria so I could take the land I needed without fighting an impossible war. Inevitably the AI will lose control of its empire and you will get your opportunity to revolt and join the Byzantines or remain independent.

Side note I have gone to an Orthodox Church’s parish picnic. Oh my god is the food insanely delicious. 10/10 would be a brother in Christ again.

Moroccan Marauders

Starting Date – 867 or 1066
Starting Location – Sous, Idrisid, North Africa
Culture – Moroccan, Iberian Andalusian and Berber Butr hybrid
Religion – Achamanism
Theme – Pagan North Africa

For centuries Islam has slowly eradicated our traditions and replaced them with Abrahamic falsehoods. If we do not act now our gods will be forgotten. Form Morocco, reform the religion, and expel Islam. Once we have a secure position we can set eyes on involving ourselves in the Iberian struggle. The Spaniards have been under the heel of the Abrahamic religions for far too long. Shall we liberate them?

I love playing cultures with quick armies and good cavalry. These two cultures combined will net you incredible army speeds and powerful light cavalry. You could go totally ahistorical and start as a Turk or Mongol and hybrid with Butr for insane bonuses then again hybrid with Andalusian later for the most broken armies imaginable. One tactic the AI uses is running around and wasting your time and energy. If you can easily catch them with your armies you will eliminate a large part of the headache from wars.

Flavor-wise this gives an interesting pagan option for players who want to experience North Africa and Spain. Most of your holy sites are easy to attain, so you should be able to reform before your initial character kicks the bucket. Which is important because polygamous religions with no bastards make succession really absurd. Unless you have primogeniture I recommend you always pick monogamy. Its just way better due to how succession works.

Crusader Kingdom

Starting Date – 1066
Starting Location – Palestine, Jerusalem, Israel
Culture – Levantine, Iberian Visigothic and Arabic Mashriqi hybrid
Religion – Mozarab Christian
Theme – Coexistence

After the Byzantines abandoned and botched our Crusade attempt, we are left stranded in Israel with a tenuous hold on power. A precarious agreement has been reached with the Sultan, we are barely tolerated. We need to ingratiate ourselves to the local ruling class and integrate before we are annihilated. Our goal should be to hold the Kingdom of Jerusalem and reform our religion to coexist better with our Islamic neighbors and subjects. Once you are secure, wait for an opportunity to gain independence and carve Christendom permanently into the Levant.

Wonderful campaign for flavor. Who doesn’t want to be a Crusader King?

I picked Visigothic because it is very good for the coexistence/integration playstyle. I would prefer French, German, or English for flavor honestly, pardon my powergaming. Same with Mozarab and Catholic. Mozarab makes it easier but Catholicism probably makes more sense historically. Problem is if you are a hostile culture and Catholic, your liege will try to take your land immediately. Not impossible to win in that situation but close.

Zoroastrian Vengeance

Starting Date – 867
Starting Location – Nasrid, Makran, Iran
Culture – Parthian, Iranian Persian and Arabic Bedouin hybrid
Religion – Behafaridism, Zoroastrianism
Theme – Revenge

My brothers we have suffered crimes most grave. For centuries our righteous religion has been slowly eradicated by the Islamic interlopers. Keep a good face but lay in wait until an opportunity to strike comes. Consolidate power within the caliphate until they are weak enough for us to throw off their yoke! Zoroaster shall return.

I wasn’t sure historically what makes more sense. Turkic, Indo-Aryan, or Arabic culture hybrid with Iranian. If you have insight let me know! I picked Arabic because they were the ones who conquered the Zoroastrians historically.

You should know by now I love me some underdog fights. As usual, acquire religious protection from your liege. Jizya status is better than being extinguished. Combining these cultures will net you some incredible buffs. There are so many good cultural traits between them you have an embarrassment of riches in terms of choice and direction you want to go.

I personally think the Mubarizun Men-at-Arms you get from Arabian cultures are broken because they are heavy infantry that counters other heavy infantry. Heavy infantry are by far the most commonly used Men-at-Arms so that bonus is just unfair. I enjoy combining two cultures with broken Men-at-Arms, this allows your armies to counter anything thrown at them.

I know about the Knight buff stacking bonuses and how insane that can be, I just think its cheesy.

Slavic Horselords

Starting Date – 1066
Starting Location – Pomerania, Pomerania, Central Europe
Culture – Romani, Turkic Kimek and West Slavic Pomeranian hybrid
Religion – Slovianskan
Theme – Slavic Pagan Resistance

Our traditions have been all but extinguished by the monotheists. Mount your steed and set out east to unify the remaining Slavic pagans. Reform the religion and legitimize our people, our gods, and our rule. Once that is done look to the opulent realms of Western Europe, ripe for the plundering.

This campaign’s challenge can vary widely. Poland and the Holy Roman Empire are looming threats but oftentimes they will leave you alone. Get as powerful as possible as quickly as possible and you will become a permanent fixture of central Europe. Reform the religion and go full horse lord conqueror or syncretize with Christianity to be accepted without conquest.

Good excuse to use Konni and synergize it with Turk horse lord traits. You are also surrounded by strong Christian realms that will soon have access to holy orders. Pick your battles wisely.

Arabian Hebrews

Starting Date – 867
Starting Location – Jawf Al-Yamani, Yemen, Arabian Peninsula
Culture – Judean, Israelite Bevlim and Arabic Bedouin hybrid
Religion – Samaritanism, Judaism
Theme – Take the Holy Land

Cast out from our ancestral lands in Israel we have been pushed all the way to the Arabian Sea. We could have fled to India like many of our brethren, but instead we have chosen to stand and fight. We must forge a realm from the sand and mingle with the local Arabs. Once we are established in the deep desert we simply must wait for the opportunity to strike at a weakened caliphate and take back what is ours.

This campaign is for those who wish to enact the dreams of many a Hebrew throughout the ages. Take and hold the Holy Land back from those who expelled them. Both Bedouin and Yemeni are cultures worthy hybridizing with. You have many options on paths to take. When possible, reforming the religion to make it syncretic with Christians or Islam is a logical course. Otherwise it will be difficult to find good political marriages.

Stalwart Han

Starting Date – 867 or 1066
Starting Location – Wuluhai, Xia, Tibet
Culture – Sino-Tibetan, Tibetan Sumpa and Chinese Han hybrid
Religion – Shangqing, Taoism
Theme – Emperor’s Vanguard

Our Emperor, Xuanzong of Tang, has sent us to establish a Chinese colony. Our goals are twofold: protect the borders of the Empire and establish ourselves as a power in our own right, subservient to the Chinese crown. Seize as much of Tibet as possible and keep an eye on the nomadic peoples to your North and West. Do your utmost to crush any “Great Khan” before he gets a chance at said greatness.

My knowledge of Chinese history is dim at best, but I wanted to have a campaign utilizing Chinese people in a realistic way, as well as getting to see Taoism. You have an interesting crossroads of a location, being a buffer between the horse lords and the rest of Tibet. Can you survive the invasion of Genghis Khan?

The Han are the only culture with access to crossbows. Pretty freaking cool.

Siberian Holdouts

Starting Date – 867
Starting Location – Ural, Permia, Siberia
Culture – Siberian, Turkic Laktan and Ugro-Permian Permian hybrid
Religion – Turumic
Theme – Mongol Invasion Survival Simulator

Our people are hard as iron. The vast taigas and unforgiving cold demand it of us. For millennia we have endured invasions from the nomadic peoples. Let us seize our destiny and create a stalwart hermit kingdom to stand the test of time.

This region of the world is rarely highlighted, worth a playthrough for that alone.

A classic “Tall” playthrough. Establish your borders and stick to them. Focus on being small but strong. Surviving the inevitable Mongol horde is your ultimate goal.

Between these two cultures and the Stoic Ethos you will be in a great position to fight and win defensive wars against much larger armies. The land itself is hostile to invasion, combined with staunch people and you have an uncrackable nut.

Alexander’s Successors

Starting Date – 867
Starting Location – Khuttal, Transoxiana, Afghanistan
Culture – Achaemenid, Iranian Tajik and Byzantine Armenian hybrid
Religion – Manichaeism
Theme – Conquest

Long ago, Alexander campaigned eastward. After his death, the Macedonian generals split his empire between them. In time they crumbled as well. Since those days, our small Greek community in Bactria has long been supplicants of more powerful realms. If you have the ambition, you can reforge the Seleucid Empire and even bring it to greater heights than it was in days of yore.

Fun campaign where you can LARP as an Alexandrian successor kingdom. You could combine this and the Zoroastrian campaign pretty easily. I chose Manichaeism because its an oddball religion that is basically extinct in the game, as well as being historically plausible.

Even though Rome 2 Total War is a steaming pile of poo and always will be. Yes I know its gotten better yes I know mods make it playable. It is still the worst Total War I have ever played in terms of the battles. The soundtrack is partially to blame but the combat itself is just completely unexciting and blobby. Despite all that I remember it put me on a path to learning more about the Macedonian Empire and its descendants. Bactria was always interesting to me as its in a spot rarely highlighted in games.

I picked Tajik because I like its traits. Afghan is another good choice and might even make more sense historically.


Starting Date – 867 or 1066
Starting Location – Anartta, Solanki, India
Culture – Mughal, Turkic Oghuz and Indo-Aryan Rajasthani hybrid
Religion – Almohadism, Islam
Theme – Conquest

In India the Eastern Religions hold sway. Pacifism and personal growth dominate these religions. This breeds disunity in the political realm, making them ripe for the taking. We have landed on the shores of India with a mission from the caliph: bring the Indian subcontinent to Muhammad’s light. Whether they like it or not they will see the truth and worship the prophet. Bring low their kingdoms and establish an eternal eastern caliphate.

Straightforward conquest campaign with Islamic and Indian flavor. I like Rajasthani because of its aggressive nature. There are many great choices for a hybrid culture though. India has many rivers so any culture that lets you sail major rivers will make your life much easier. Picking an Arabian culture can also make sense and give you the incredible Mubarizun. That being said, as best I can tell Turkic makes more sense historically.

Almohadism is my Islamic sect of choice for conquest as its perfect for it. Muwalladi is my sect of choice when I am trying to fit in with the locals more.

Independent Georgia

Starting Date – 867
Starting Location – Georgia, Georgia, Caucasus
Culture – Caucasoid, Byzantine Georgian and Iranian Daylamite hybrid
Religion – Apostolic Christian
Theme – Survival Mode

For centuries we have been ravaged by the Islamic caliphates, barely preserving our people. We must unite Georgia and stand independent from the rest. Our nation lies in a crossroads of vital importance. We must seize this for our own benefit once and for all.

Really tough campaign if you try to strictly remain independent. I failed many times. I settled on swearing fealty to Khazaria or Byzantium until I was strong enough to go independent. If you insist on staying independent you will constantly be attacked and whittled down, causing even more vultures to arrive. Not saying it is impossible but pretty close. Eventually you can make a nice Caucasian kingdom that is really hard to budge from their mountain homes.

Orthodox Christian makes more sense historically, I just picked apostolic because its rare.

Azerbaijan and Armenia are nearby locations that are also ripe for some succulent campaigns.

I enjoy hybridizing for fun and power, but this is a case where staying Georgian and reforming that culture makes more sense historically.

Because I only had a very specific area I wished to control for flavor, I tooled my religion and culture to be pacifistic but stalwart. I no longer needed offensive war so I became the Gadsden serpent. Become untreadable.

Indian Exclave

Starting Date – 867 or 1066
Starting Location – Danakil, Adal, The Horn of Africa
Culture – Mauritian, Indo-Aryan Gujarati and Horn African Afar hybrid
Religion – Shaivism, Hinduism
Theme – Colonization

The same old families in the same old order constrict the ambitious Indian. We set sail for the Horn of Africa to establish a new dominion where growth is still possible. Will we embrace local religion and customs or will be seek to create a new Gujarat?

Due to the technological and societal gap between India and Africa, it makes sense as a place for an Indian colony to form, thinking to exploit the people and resources there, or perhaps just to start anew.

Horn Africans come with a unique Skirmisher Men-at-Arms called Horn Warriors that counter heavy infantry, as well as their own local religion if you prefer that to Hindu. Personally, I made a new Hindu sect with Syncretic Folk Traditions. This is particularly useful in Africa as its heavily pagan. This will allow you to intermarry with much of Africa.

Tons of options for hybrid cultures. You could start much deeper in Africa and have your pick of the litter but that wouldn’t make much sense in reality. You can always hybridize twice or more. I have done it a few times if I really want a trait from a certain culture but can’t realistically hybridize with it until a much later date.

Kosher Burma

Starting Date – 867 or 1066
Starting Location – Ramannadesa, Pagan, Burma
Culture – Cochin, Kochinim Israelite and Burman Burmese hybrid
Religion – Malabarism, Judaism
Theme – East Asian Diaspora

Our people have been scattered to the four winds repeatedly, leaving us uncoupled from our region of origin. We chose to settle in Burma, bringing God and our traditions with us. We believe we are chosen and we must fight for this belief. Gain power in Burma and form a Jewish state. Once established, seek to solidify our people in this place and create a new home.

Really cool campaign that gets to highlight Judaism and Jewish culture which is super rare in the actual game. All historically legit too. Hebrews on elephants baby.

Another “Tall” focused game. Expanding beyond Burma militarily is not the focus. Building up and becoming super rich and powerful in your small kingdom is the focus. India and Burma are extremely rich, exploit that. If a large empire forms close to you, swear fealty for your own safety.

Hebrew uses a completely different alphabet, so apologies to my Israelite friends for any errors. Researching Hebrews is more difficult than most peoples due to the massive language barrier.

African Mission

Starting Date – 867 or 1066
Starting Location – Savalu, Borgu, Nigerian Delta
Culture – Afrikaaner, Central Germanic Frisian and Nigerian Delta Ewe
Religion – Catholicism
Theme – Colonization

We come to spread the word of God and the teachings of Christ. Most of the locals are hostile to us. As we traveled farther down the west coast of Africa, we finally found a people receptive to God. The Ewe welcomed us and we established a colony. We must establish a foothold for the Holy See and set ourselves up as rulers so we may guide these wayward pagans into the Lord’s favor. By force is necessary.

Catholicism in Africa is a double edged sword. Being able to receive funding from the Pope as a small tribal government fighting other small tribes is a powerful boon. The other side of it is that as a foreign culture and religion you will deal with frequent large rebellions. The early game is precarious. I failed a few times because I had revolts much larger than my levies and lost. Methodical expansion and shrewd management is a must until you are firmly established.

If you want to try out other kinds of Christianity there are a few obscure ones to try, such as Insularism. The ones that still have access to the Catholic Pope are the best powergaming-wise.

Yes I had to type Nigerian instead of minus the i-a-n because Steam thought it was profanity and censored it. Good god we live in a world of adult babies.

Ptolemaic Egypt

Starting Date – 867 or 1066
Starting Location – Makuria, Nubia, The Horn of Africa
Culture – Pharaonic, East African Nubian and Arabic Egyptian
Religion – Coptic Christian
Theme – Matriarchal Christian Egypt

The Arab conquest of Egypt has shifted the culture dramatically, but our people remember the old ways. Older even than that of Christianity. We yearn to return Egypt to its ancestral owner’s and restore the Pharaohs through the female line, the line of Cleopatra.

Despite the cringetacular Netflix doc about her, I still think Cleopatra is interesting. So why not have some fun restoring the Ptolemaic dynasty? Like seriously people stop watching all this crap or it will never stop being produced. Every day I see ads for a million new garbage TV shows and movies and wonder who the hell is watching it? I grew up on video games and books and always disliked tell-lie-vision so maybe that’s just me.

I chose to go matriarchal because its uncommon and Nubian is already geared towards it. I would go just equal gender law but the problem is that without primogeniture your successions will be a disaster in an equal law realm. Unless you have mods or its late game its simply more logical to go patriarchy or matriarchy.

I made a new Christian Sect that made my family, the Ptolemys, into god-kings. What could be more fitting? You can pick Communion and be the Pope of your religion and it will make you absurdly rich. Once your realm is fairly large you will receive constant money for forgiveness of sins. Its very OP and has no downside. That is one way to cheese any religion. Make yourself the head of the religion and pick communion. You will have never ending money. The only drawback is you are sacrificing other religious tenets that are useful beyond the simplicity of the monetary. Money can’t buy everything you know.

Islamic Ireland

Starting Date – 867
Starting Location – Munster, Ireland, British Isles
Culture – Al-Mustafan, Iberian Andalusian and Goidelic Irish
Religion – Almohadi, Islam
Theme – Colonization

For centuries the Barbary corsairs have raided for chattel from Corsica to Ireland. Why not create a permanant stronghold in the pastoral lands of Ire while it is weak and divided? The other kingdoms present on the Isles will no doubt seek to expel you. Move decisively and with ruthlessness before the English, Scottish, or Norse unify.

Very ahistorical as the Pope would send a pan-European legion to crush you immediately. But crusades do not exist as a mechanic in the game until much later so you have plenty of time to turn the British Isles Islamic. You can take Muwalladi instead of Almohadi if you want to integrate with the locals more instead of being purely belligerent.

Dutch East Indies

Starting Date – 867
Starting Location – Pandya, Tamilakam, India
Culture – Germani, Central Germanic Dutch and Dravidian Telugu hybrid
Religion – Nestorian Christian
Theme – European Exclave in India

We come seeking a share of the great wealth of the east. We must establish our own kingdom and Christianity along with it. Through trade we will wield power and influence unmatched.

City focused cultures are not very fleshed out as of yet but it won’t stop me from trying them.

Campaign is fairly easy to be honest due to Dharmic pacifism shielding you from easily declared wars. Lots of flavor though 🙂

I did the achievement to have 95% or better cultural acceptance with 10 cultures in your realm on this playthrough. Just hyper focus on cultural traits that raise acceptance gain and you won’t have much trouble. Egalitarian ethos is a big help as well.

Paragons and Pirates

Starting Date – 867 or 1066
Starting Location – Somavamsi, Orissa, India
Culture – Siddi, Akan Kru and Indo-Aryan Oriya hybrid
Religion – Yumaism
Theme – Conquest

Our people were brought here as slaves. Through sheer suffering and time we finally have gained a small measure of autonomy. We still hold our tribal traditions despite the modernity that surrounds us. We have adopted local pagan gods and must establish the religion with a solid foundation before the Eastern religions permanently overshadow us. Become independent and make our enslavers regret abusing the Siddi!

This campaign gets to utilize the “Practiced Pirates” cultural trait which is very rare. It has a few benefits, the most interesting being that you can raid even after you become feudal and regardless of religion. It also lets you raid overseas. India is extremely wealthy and being able to raid Burma and Sri Lanka is really neat! Unfortunately they patched it and you can only be Duchy or lower and still raid regardless of restrictions. So make sure you get all your raiding urges out before you get too big and too legit.

1066 is for those who want a much harder challenge.

If you use the map filters you can see governments. You will then see why I picked the county I did. Because it is the only tribal government in India proper. In 867 that is a good thing. In 1066 this will mean you are really far behind.

Historically the Siddi largely became Christian, Hindu, and Islamic and did not hold pagan beliefs. It could be a good excuse to try one of the myriad eastern religions in the game. Gujarati and Kannada would be the historically accurate hybrid cultures.

Will the real Hungary please stand up

Starting Date – 867
Starting Location – Yedisan, Zaporizhia, Black Sea Coast
Culture – Hunnic, Mogyer Magyar and Turkic Avar hybrid
Religion – Taltosist
Theme – Thracian Horse Lords

While the Arpad dynasty seeks to strategically sell out to the Christians to garner favor and legitimacy, we reject this notion. Our gods are older our claims are truer. We will sweep our foes from the field one by one and establish a Khanate in Thrace and beyond.

This is a tough campaign but so very rewarding. Pagan horse lords in the middle of loads of hostile realms. Gives you a great reason to play the Taltosist religion as it fits flavor-wise and its holy sites are realistically attainable.

There were long periods of this campaign where my realm size stagnated due to lack of options. All you need is one kingdom level holy war and you will be set on the path to conquest. You have lots of choice in terms of direction you go because of your central location. Or just absorb everyone like the giant horde you are.

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