Crusader Kings III: The Game I’m Not Clever Enough to Play

Actually, let me rephrase the title: Crusader Kings III is the game that I’m not clever enough to play well.

It’s the game that I spent so many hours in the tutorial… which handed me my head by the end of it. Then, I spent hours watching videos to try to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

Why am I so fascinated and drawn to a game that I’m so terrible at playing? I don’t know. Even as I’m about to give up on it, I tell myself: Just try another ruler in another kingdom on an easy game and maybe it will be different this time.

The bright side of this: CK3 is part of the Xbox Game Pass. It’s a game I’ve wanted to try for a while, and decided that this month, it would be my Xbox game goal. I’m thankful for being able to try it on Game Pass, because as many hours as I’ve put into it now (I’ve lost track and Game Pass doesn’t record this), I’m still not sure if this game is for me or if I’ll eventually “get it.” The two hours try-it-out on Steam, which prices it at $50, is simply not enough to decide if this is a keeper (the tutorial lasts longer than 2 hours!!). So, this month, the Game Pass has certainly saved me some cash.

CK3 is an extremely overwhelmingly detailed tactical medieval strategy game where you play a ruler’s dynasty in the Middle Ages. In this global sandbox, there are no set goals – you decide what you want to achieve and how the story unfolds. The only real failure is if you end up losing all your titles (which I’ve done).

I guess the game says I didn’t do too terrible for my first try.

I later learned that many CK3 players use “console commands” (aka cheats) for their games, and having used no cheats, I understand the reasoning! Apparently there are folks out there who do know how to play well, or maybe I’ve just gotten bad starts – which is why I’m thinking about trying a third time as a different ruler.

As much as I may sound like I’m ragging negatively on this game, I’m absolutely not! The reason I’m having such a time with it is because of how absolutely huge the game is and how much can happen depending on every little factor – from your ruler’s personality, traits and skills – down to each individual vassal under your rule. I can’t begin to explain how MUCH there is to this game. Just when I think I have a grasp on one thing, something else creeps up and takes me by surprise.

It makes for excellent storytelling if nothing else.

For example, the second-to-the-last king from my first game was having a terrible time of it. When his father died, the kingdom split between himself and his brother – which I didn’t know was thing until that point. His brother was a powerful and ambitious warrior who then started waging war and chipping away at my king’s holdings.

In the middle of it all, some infatuated courtier tried to make some moves on him. One of the gifts she sent him was a cat.

I chose Meone.

Interestingly enough, this cat was a source of pleasure for my poor king throughout his waning years. Something about it was touching in the middle of all the horrible things going on in his life. That cat brought him happiness and even reduced his stress score!

In fact, though I didn’t screentshot them all, Meone interacted with the poor king far more than anyone else did in his late years. Something about this part of the story made the game worthwhile to have seen this… and those are the kind of things that drive me to keep trying.

Ugh. I guess I’ll roll up a third attempt after all.