Recently Jim wrote a post about his top three video games, which is a funny coincidence since I also wanted to make a post about video games, or rather one game in particular, since an important update is coming soon. A fantastic game that I cannot recommend enough is Crusader Kings II. I want to talk a bit about what CKII is and why it’s awesome before I explain why May 28 is an important date.

CKII is a real-time strategy game. You start by selecting any historical leader (count, duke, king, or emperor) who reigned between 1066 and 1337. The historical accuracy of the leaders and their territories is quite impressive. You then play as that leader, making your own decisions and leading however you wish, thereby diverging from “true” history and creating an alternate history. Upon your death, you then takeover as the dynastic heir. Thus, your dynasty is more important than the individual characters you play as. The game ends once you reach the year 1453 or there are no living members of your dynasty that are count or higher.

The gameplay in CKII is remarkably detailed. For one, you have to worry about succession laws. The differences between gavelkind, primogeniture, and seniority are quite significant. Any changes you make to succession or royal laws will upset members of your dynasty as well as your vassals, whom you also must constantly appease. Your vassals can rebel if they dislike your leadership or provide much needed support if they enjoy your rule. Religion is also important. The Pope rewards good Christians and will excommunicate those who are unfaithful. Don’t like the Pope? You can appoint an antipope from your loyal bishops. The Pope also has the power to call crusades to areas under the control of non-Christians and those who participate have a chance at gaining some land for themselves.

Beyond the features that come with the basic game, which are too many for me to discuss, there are also several DLCs. The Sword of Islam will let you play as an Islamic character and introduces several new mechanics unique to them. The Republic enables you to play as a merchant republic (Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Gotland, The Hanse, or start your own) and adds lots of unique features. The Legacy of Rome extends the Byzantine Empire and Orthodox religion and also makes it possible to reform the Roman Empire.

So, returning to the original point of this post, why is May 28 important? May 28 is the release date for the Old Gods expansion. The Old Gods allows you to begin the game in 867, adding an extra 200 years of gameplay. It lets you play as a viking chieftain, a minor Anglo-Saxon king, or even one of Charlemagne’s successors. It also lets you play as a pagan leader and, if a viking, make raids and plan invasions (e.g. Sweyn Forkbeard’s invasion of England). This DLC is likely to be the best yet and I am very excited for its release.

—Shawn

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