Friday, 29 November 2013

Let's Play Crusader Kings II - The Bosonids Part 5

And so it came to pass...

... that in the year 867 the count Boson realised that life is short and that he had yet to make his name immortal.

We find the count in his chambers, contemplating his fate.

"Becoming more learned would surely increase my reputation, but is it enough to cement my legacy? I think not. The Bosons in ages to come shall remember me not just as wise, but also as the forefather who expanded our lands and, so to say, gave it more mass! Perhaps the king would consider making me a Duke as well, if I become powerful enough? But where to start...

We'll take that county with blood and sword!
Venaissin, home of Count Tour de Pin
My neighbour, Count Tour de Pin, has always been a craven pig. His people would most likely welcome a change of leadership. It so happens, as well, that I have a cousins mothers something-or-the-other who was a relative of the late count of Venaissin. Clearly the county should have been given to me when he passed away! I must consult my Master-at-arms about the condition of our levies..."

This the count did and the armies were found to be ready. However, with the declaration of war in the hands of Tour de Pin and the soldiers marshalling in all towns a courier from the king arrives. Can it be that the king has decided to interfere?

The best laid plans...

The King, may he live for ever, has not in fact decided that he desires my head on a silver plate. Instead he's decided that it should bear a silver coronet. In other words, he has given me the title of Duke of Provence.

With this new title on my luggage I am no longer at war with de Pin since he has effectively become my vassal along with the bishop of Nice, who was presented earlier. Whether the title was a result of the king wanting to spare his people the bloodshed or if he had in mind to make us a duke all along we shall never know. While patience is one of our virtues, we were not patient enough and thus will never find out. What we do know is that our new vassal, de Pin, hates our guts because of the war declaration. I foresee treachery down the line from this man... Unless...

The plot thickens

Look at that sly bastard; you can't trust him!
Count Tour de Pin
Rather than have a troublesome vassal such as de Pin plot and intrigue against us we will attempt to bring harmony to the realm by getting rid of him. We quickly form a plot to have his lands revert to the crown, which of course is Duke Boson.
Since Bosons skills at subterfuge vastly outstrips those of that bearded oaf de Pin it takes little time for us to find enough support to send a little letter showing him the impossibility of remaining in his current position. After a few days of private deliberations the count sends a reply. He accepts our demands for the good of the realm and will retire to a county in Aquitaine where he will serve a new master. As a last sign of defiance he adds that "His new master knows to value his vassals more than his last.".

After this successful coup there is some grumbling in the ranks about the duke holding rather too many holdings for a man of his stature. The general opinion seems to be that some of the counties should be given to loyal vassals.

Loyal vassals? Nonsense, I say! Insubordination is what this is. The ringleader is the dastardly Prince-Bishop of Nice. Fortunately he is a man of no great skill at intrigue, just like Angilbotto Tour de Pin. After a few well chosen words with my other vassals a letter phrased much the same as that sent to Angilbotto is carried to the ruler of Nice. He is a man of character though and refuses to give up so easily. War is declared and our armies marshalled without delay. Our spies count the enemy forces at around 300 men which is less than half of our 800 man strong army. Not even their advantageous terrain will help them. Battle is joined on the 25th of May as our valiant shieldwall fords the river and push up the steep hill supported by the archers on the right flank who send wave after wave of arrows towards the enemy. Our foe cannot hold under the furious onslaught of our men and soon signals the retreat. All but a small fraction of the fleeing soldiers are caught and the way to Nice lays open. 

The following siege is both short and bloodless since the garrison only consists of 17 old warriors who quickly yield at the sight of such a mighty host. The Prince-Bishop had indeed put everything he had into the main battle and has no reserves left. With the victory complete and all-encompassing we personally take possession of the final part of our dukedom. The good duke Boson returns to his capital Arles in Provence with a feeling of accomplishment, having doubled the size of his demesne and fought a successful war to establish peace and prosperity throughout his lands. However, it will be difficult duke Boson to manage them all himself and we will have to either find trustworthy noblemen to rule the lands in our name or find some way to improve the administration through research or further education. There is also the possibility of doing nothing and handing over the resulting troubles to our heir who promises to be a most competent ruler.

All this and much more in the episodes to come!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Let's Play Crusader Kings II - The Bosonids Part 4

Count Boson - A New Beginning

Welcome back to the Dark Ages!
I have now confirmed that there are indeed issues with playing old save files in the new patch by wandering the halls of the Paradox Fora and leafing through the tomes and commentaries displayed on the shelves. The main issue seems to be with levies and income not matching up as they should and so we will be starting over. Happily we haven't even started properly and will not loose any progress.

"I feel like a new man!"

With the new game comes a new count, or at least the same count with new abilities and traits. To save some time I've prepared two scrolls with the details of the two most important characters, namely the count himself and his heir.

Count Boson the Elder

While our two main protagonists are still much the same there are some notable changes. Our notably just count has had a change of heart and has become a lustful man with substantially weaker abilities compared to his earlier self. The new count is still rather diplomatic but has lost all his acumen and has thus a poor hand with money. The only two improvements to be found are to his skill as a commander of battle and his learning. However, they are still not close to making the family proud.

Boson the Younger
While the old man has been weakened as a result of the change, the younger man has become stronger. Our new Boson Bosonid is an even more well versed than his old self and while he has lost some skill at intrigue he has gained a considerable amount of learning and so has become a most worth heir. However, to his sins must be added the new hairstyle which looks a lot like a modern combat helmet.

The Stage is once again set

It is now time to finally start this Let's Play and see what our fate in this new world will be. Ignoble defeat, imprisonment and obscurity in the annals of time or a glorious future with the name Bosonid echoing between the four corners of the Earth? It is all in our hands!

Friday, 22 November 2013


A patch of bad luck

I do apologise for the lack of recent updates. The Sons of Abraham patch (2.0) has changed a whole host of things, including making things somewhat less stable when playing. Since this could be due to the save having been made before the patch I'm currently investigating how well the save files are compatible and whether I should simply restart with a new count Boson with slightly different stats, since they are somewhat randomised.

Another interesting point is that there are some new rules in place with the new patch, making warfare more expensive and money a more important matter. To facilitate war it is now possible to approach money lenders with a request for gold. Of course, borrowing money is only possible at extortionate interest rates and so it will be more important than ever to ensure that wars of conquest will actually pay for themselves. In addition, it will be all too easy to borrow money in a defensive situation to safeguard ones realm only to find that afterwards the realm is bankrupt and is technically owned by the bankers...
Should be lots of fun, right?

Nonetheless, after this weekend everything should be back on track, whether we play from the old save or from a new save.

See you soon!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Let's Play Crusader Kings II - The Bosonids Part 3

Love thy neighbour

During the brutal times in which our adventure takes place the commandments were highly regarded however they were not always followed by the nobility, rather the opposite. Coveting thy neighbours house, wife, servants and household animals was the norm and the means through which they were acquired often broke the sixth commandment, Thou shalt not kill. Thankfully we are far away from those who know nothing about the commandments, as mentioned earlier, but we still have plenty of Christian neighbours who are all too eager to show us how much they value Christian love. Regardless of how much they may desire our holdings we must still do the decent thing and make our introductions. Let's start with the honourable count Angilbotto de la Tour du Pin of Venaissin.

Count de la Tour du Pin

Count de la Tour du Pin

Immediately on our western border lies the county of Venaissin. Currently it is being held by the old count Angilbotto, a man with few graces. Having no talents this man has adopted sneaky, underhanded manners spiced with cynicism which, combined with his shyness and chastity, has made him impossible at social gatherings. Safe to say, he is not a man worthy of his position and would not be missed if he were to be ousted from his county. Conveniently enough, we happen to have a claim on his lands, something which should be taken advantage of at the earliest opportunity. Before someone else has the same idea...

Prince-Bishop Benedicto

Prince-Bishop Benedicto

On our other side, to the east, lies the bishopric of Nice. This theocratic stronghold is ruled by Prince-Bishop Benedicto who rules with a lax hand. His paranoia has made him rather disliked in the area and together with his natural shyness this means he rarely leaves the monastery for neither invitations nor visitations. Like our neighbour to the west he is rather useless and ripe for being replaced by more prominent men.

Count Rodolfo d'Auriate

Count Rodolfo d'Auriate

Looking further afield we have a county just beyond Nice called Saluzzo. The ruler of this county is a somewhat more agreeable type than his westerly neighbours, but his chief talents lie in warfare. Rodolfo is young and has yet to marry making him a prime target for proposals. Although he wouldn't make for a powerful ally it may be possible to inherit his lands further down the line if the lineage dies out. Furthermore, he currently lacks an heir of any kind which means that if he were to die his holdings would revert back to the crown. If the young count becomes uncomfortable for the king he might find himself a head shorter...

Lord Mayor Ansaldo

Lord Mayor Ansaldo

The rich lands of Genoa are in the hands of the comparatively competent Ansaldo. Of course, he doesn't have a drop of noble blood but our king moves in mysterious ways. If he wants a commoner to be in charge of one of the realms richest regions then that's his choice. As for me I shall plot to make them mine and mine alone. The Lord Mayor may have nearly all of the virtues, including diligence, charity and kindness, but that will not protect him from assassins or court intrigues.

Having met our immediate neighbours there is one last person to introduce, one who technically already owns our holdings is the King, so please welcome the glorious King Louis II of Italy.

"Who is it that can tell me who I am?"

 William Shakespeare, King Lear

To answer the rhetorical question: I can tell you that you are the king,Louis II Karling.
Your Royal Highness is, as you can see, a likeable master of intrigue with some ability when it comes to the field of battle but with little acumen, something reflected in his charitable nature. His patience serves him well in all his capacities, although his table manors can be somewhat uncouth as he tends to gobble anything in sight. Being a part of the Karling dynasty Louis is involved in a complicated network of inheritances which all depend on who dies first and who manages to produce an heir before their time is up. Although our king is reasonably young his marriage to the queen has not yet yielded the hoped for results. Some say that this is because the king spends more time on the battlefield than in the bed chambers and this is supported by the fact that the king is at the moment involved in a war against the Muslims living at the "heel" of the Italian boot that is the subcontinent. We're not one of his favourite vassals at the moment but on the other hand there are others who are more disliked than our count Boson so we are not at risk of being named court jester.

So those are the people living around us at the moment!

Next time we will plan out our campaign.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Let's Play Crusader Kings II - The Bosonids Part 2

Introducing the Bosonids

Last time we talked a bit about the macro political situation around us, including a look at the kingdoms and the religions in the area. Having concluded that things are currently quite stable in our region we ended things by admitting that we are too small for other things to affect us right now. For completeness sake I would like to add that the Norse menace probably won't be an issue for us because of the considerable distance between Scandinavia and the Mediterranean and that the rest of Italy shields us from any other pagan raiders coming in from the steppes to the east.

Enough about the grand politics for now though; This time we'll be looking at first introducing the good count Boson and his family and in the next post take a look at the micro political situation. Unfortunately this means that we won't get to see any actual game play just yet, but knowing what's going on from the beginning will surely make things more fun once we get going, so stick around!

Family first

François Engelert
The name Boson has been thrown around a lot in the build up for this game so it's about time we were made acquainted with the main man himself. As is shown in his portrait, the man bears an uncanny likeness with one of the two gentlemen mentioned earlier who have been awarded the Nobel price. To start with, the luxurious beard is, although quite a bit longer, very similar to that of Englert. The two gentlemen also share the same piercing gaze (although Boson has green eyes) and striking nose. Finally I feel like they share some features in the cheekbone department, however, Boson has been more lucky when it comes to keeping his hair. Clearly this indicates that the head of the Bosonid family shares features with the Nobel Laureate such as being scholarly, hard working and having a grasp for numbers.

Count Boson
Well, what do you know: It's spot on. As can be seen on the right the good count fulfils all our expectations being both diligent, patient and zealous. The Just-trait is entirely his own. When it comes to stats the strong fortes of our bearded one is acumen and diplomacy. He's not quite modern-day Nobel prize material, but for the Middle Ages he's a pretty sharp character with no glaring weaknesses. Our head of the family is currently unmarried, this is not because he's an eternal bachelor but rather because he's a widower, his lovely but unknown wife having died many years earlier. Their marriage yielded only one child, a daughter named Richildis. She was married off to the count of Luxembourg, matrilinearly of course, so that the line could continue. However, disaster struck and the poor girl died at the age of 32, but not before producing five kids, of which 17 year old Boson Bosonid stands in line to become head of the family. Sadly her husband did not in fact leave his lands to her since their inheritance laws were strictly agnatic at the time.

Boson the Younger
The young man Boson Bosonid takes after his grandfather to a great extent, being both diligent, patient and zealous. However, rather than being just our heir carries deceit in his heart. Boson the Younger is a man of considerable diplomatic skill but has not neglected the other areas important to a nobleman, as you can see on the left. However, when it comes to learning or friend is sadly ignorant. Hopefully he will be a worthy heir who will carry on the fine traditions of the Bosonid etc. etc. His siblings, though all very fine I'm sure, we will introduce as and when they become of interest; Right now it is time to introduce the members of the counts council.

The Council

The five man strong council is, as usual, a mixed lot. The skills of Bosons' two grown grandsons have recommended them both to seats on the council as Chancellor and Spymaster respectively. While the others are hardly remarkable for their skill they are all fiercely loyal and will serve their lord wholeheartedly. This may be important in the future if and when the count becomes a duke and needs faithful vassals to entrust with ruling his lands. At this early part of the game they will surely be put to work improving the living standards of the realm by encouraging invention while the Spymaster is tasked with studying foreign technology, perhaps in the great empire of Byzantium. It will be a priority to improve the council throughout the game since they all add their skill to the State Attributes which affects many aspects such as technology acquisition speed, plot power and various events.

Next time

That's all for this now, but join us next time when we'll introduce the king of Italy and our neighbours as well as start plotting how to propel the Bosonids into the history books. See you then!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Let's Play Crusader Kings II - The Bosonids Part 1

Raison d'être

As mentioned in the last post I'll be using all the DLC, apart from Sunset Invasion.
The starting point will be the bookmark supplied in The Old Gods which starts in 867AD, however, I will not be playing as a pagan or one of the nifty Scandinavian raiders.

Celebrating Higgs

Instead, I have decided to celebrate this years Nobel Physics prize winners, François Engelert and Peter Higgs for their works in predicting and finding the Higgs Boson.

This I propose to do so by playing as 
count Boson of the house Bosonid.

François Engelert
Peter Higgs
Count Boson

I'm not making this up: However silly it may sound he's called Boson and controls the two counties of Provence and Forcalquier. With skill and a bit of luck we should be able to take this obscure sub-atomic family and both the charming (Provence) and strange (Forcalquier) holdings and lead them to a singular future. You can look forward to a naming scheme involving both gentlemen, most of the elementary particles and some of their defined qualities. Perhaps we'll have a little Tau running around with François and Photona.

Our place in the world

Our holdings in 867AD
In the year 867 the good count is a puny vassal of the much grander king of Italy, Louis II. As shown by the map above, the Carolingan empire of Charlemagne has long since been divided but his descendants still control the remaining kingdoms. Provence and Forcalquier occupies the strategically important area between the western outcrops of the Alps and the Mediterranean sea, effectively controlling traffic and trade between Aquitaine and Italy along both land and water. While the residual kingdoms of the Carolings all enjoy good relations with each other they all find a common foe in the Muslims on the Iberian peninsula who vie for control over the rugged terrain with the remaining Christian Asturian lords in the north. There are also African Beys clawing at the islands of the southern Mediterranean, but those are the concerns of the King. At our current size the extent of our political interest and power is scant, but that is all about to change when we set out on our grasp at glory.

New Let's Play - Crusader Kings II

Well, it's been a long hiatus without writing but I have now returned for what I hope to be a more stable run of posts.

In the meantime I've acquired more games of which Crusader Kings II stands out as a shining example of a well executed game in what must be considered a niche market, namely that of dynastic strategy games. In Crusader Kings II you play as the invisible guiding hand of a noble family trying to survive and flourish during the Middle Ages. Your tools for increasing your own power and diminishing your competitors include everything from strategic marriages and alliances to forging fake claims on your neighbours lands and assassination! Many have deemed the game a "Habsburg simulator" after the way the Habsburg family successfully used the same tools in real life to create the Austro-Hungarian Empire which prospered until the First World War.

The Medieval period was one of great turmoil caused by religious and cultural friction together with the lust for power, glory and gold. These factors are all reflected in Crusader Kings II in that you will most certainly see war between Muslims and Christians and between Frenchmen and Germans, however, certain events such as the reconquest of the Iberian peninsula by Castille are in no way guaranteed to happen. Instead, it is up to you to see what mark on history you can make whether you start out a count, a duke, a king or an emperor.

For this Let's Play I will be playing will all DLC, including Sword of Islam, Legacy of Rome, The Republic and The Old Gods. More on the settings in the next post!