Arslan of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 0: Pre-campaign notes
Let's roll back the clock to year 769. In mountains of Ili lived a remarkable character - Arslan of Ili. So remarkable that I had to turn off ruler designer costing to create him. I know how to abuse it to get gay wounded lustful dwarves with stats I like, but let's just skip this step and create character we want.
Like everybody else in his small Karluk tribe he was a poor goat herder. From the youngest age he was remarkably good at one thing - organizing cattle raids. Be it goats, sheep, cows, or horses - he and his merry band were able to steal it all and get away with it, occasionally also getting some shiny trinkets or a pretty girl or two while they were at it.
But he had a much bigger dream. Rumors had it that across impassable peaks of the Himalayas - impassable as far as anybody knew, frankly nobody bothered as there was nothing worth stealing there, and it would be too much effort to do so otherwise - there was a land of boundless riches. Why steal goats when you get steal some elephants? Why hunt rabbits when you can hurt a tiger! And however practical they might be, nobody enjoyed mud huts heated with burning goat dung during cold winter nights much, so moving to a palace in some warm climate sounded like a great idea.
He was strong like everybody else in his tribe - weak ones never survived harsh mountain winters. When he wasn't raiding, he was hunting. Or feasting. Or whoring. Of all the cardinal sins the only one nobody could accuse him of was slothfulness - people of Ili knew how to enjoy their short lives, never knowing if they'll have enough goat dung to avoid freezing to death next winter.
He wasn't especially religious. As was proper in land dependent on wellbeing of the herds, he sacrificed a goat to sky gods on designated days. But what did he care that in other lands other people worshiped their gods differently - by staring into the sun all day, going onto distant pilgrimages, or for that matter fucking their sister. He didn't have a sister, so that one was out, but if the tribe ever moves to faraway places with different gods, he might need to worship the new ones appropriately.
Some shamans, usually after they smoked too many holy herbs, talked about future coming of grand shaman chosen by sky god, who would lead all tribes together against foreigners who worship weird gods in weird ways. Few treated that talk seriously.
At his 16th birthday he was elected chief of Ili by tribesmen hopeful for bountiful cattle raids. Little did they know how far he'd go.
As first in his family to lead the whole tribe, he chose blood red horse and saber on night black shield as his symbol, celebrating many successful cattle raids.
Full stats: 6/25/8/11/7
• Brilliant Strategist
This build would cost a lot of points, even though objectively it's not that great.
Other than resetting ruler designer cost the only change I'm using is disabling all dynastic names on the map (so it's Arabian Empire not Abbasids etc.) as I can't stand them, and using Arumba's keyboard shortcuts mod.
A fairly major annoyance in CK2 game starts is that game files don't bother to specify anybody's daughters and sisters, so there's no way to get any dynastic alliances early game unless you live in 1066 Europe. Obviously history is pretty spotty at recording that, but game should just randomly generate some sisters.
I don't plan to give super-detailed reports like with EU4, that would probably take forever in this game.
Khiva is Sunni-ruled and civilized, and everything north of it is Tengri or Manichean and tribal - this means I want to unite as much of the tribes as I can early - starting obviously with Chuy, so I get long border with Khiva to raid. Due to lack of boats in this region that's the only way I can make decent money and prestige from looting.
The most obvious way would be to take ambition to become king of Turkestan, but that's really awful 12-holding title - relocating capital to Cumania or Khiva has a lot more potential (even if Cumania extends crazy far away from India).
The easiest way I can fail is early, once I get rolling, steamroll all the way to India is not unlikely.
De jure kingdoms
Arslan of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 0.5: More pre-campaign notes
First order of business was finding a wife, and it was immediately back to the modding board:
• Tengri can't marry anybody who's not Tengri.
• Being on edge of the map in Ili I can't even marry half of Tengri women since they are too far away.
• Game did not generate any significant number of Tengri women except for fairly small number of lowborn courtiers - 1 per court apparently.
As far as I can tell it's a bug - everybody is supposed to be marriageable within their religious group at least, but Pagans somehow aren't. I think that's due to to the new Zunists religion, which tries to be intermarriagable with Zoroastrian group and Indian group - nice try, but that doesn't actually work, you can only specify individual religions, not religious groups, and this bug not only makes Zunists intermarry not work, it apparently screws the entire Pagan religious group. At least that's my best guess.
I'd report a (presumed) bug, but these days I can't be bothered if it involves more than a tweet. Non-public bug reporting system tend to be dumping groups nobody ever looks at most of the time.
Anyway, I absolutely despise "Must not marry an infidel" mechanic, so it's now gone from this campaign. Everybody can marry everybody else, like they did in real history, as well as early CK2. Some opinion penalty would be justifiable, as at least Muslims and Christians married each other very rarely (Oneca García as an example that it totally happened) - but Christians with Pagans, and Pagans with other Pagans intermarried all the time.
That leaves another problem unresolved - UI for finding a spouse. Clicking find spouse button next to character icon only shows women in your realm (which is 1 courtier total, and also sounds like a bug), and anybody who will result in alliance or is in line of inheritance (which is nobody for Tengri at start date). Total fail.
Finding all women by character finder lists them all, but most are too distant to interact with, and that can't be filtered away in any way and takes a few clicks to check one by one.
I don't like interaction distance limit much either, but it makes some sense, presumably serves some gameplay function, and hopefully won't be an issue too often. But seriously Paradox, if you're going to do stuff like that, at least make UI for it work.
To make sure I don't get into any more issues, I double checked my notes on how I patched CK2 previously. These were mostly sensible things in their context (like increasing demesne size bonus for gavelkind, faster de jure drift, everybody with boats being able to navigate major rivers, adoption and disinheritance decisions etc.), but I don't really care for any of them enough to include them.
Hopefully that's the last detour, and the actual campaign can start without any more interruptions.
Arslan of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 1: 769-770: Karluk Dating Agency
After all the complains about how difficult it is to find eligible wife with distance and religion issues, modding the game to fix some of them, and restarting (in case my mid-game modding messed up anything), the most eligible potential wife in the world ended up... in next county.
Seriously, Ipek was literally in Zhetysu (working there as spymaster), and she's Tengri Karluk with Genius, Ambitious, Honest, Temperate, and Brave for total of 11/18/11/13/10. 16 years old, 6 health, and 60% fertility - not super high considering how many children she'll have to bear before she gets strong genius son statistically - but still pretty decent, and I'll have backup concubines.
Her major downsides are that she's only level 1 stewardship education, and she's lowborn (like every other Tengri woman in the world apparently). Generally wife stewardship is the most important stat, not her martial, as spouse stewardship influences your demesne limit, but you get bonuses only from your personal martial as far as I know.
Of course for prestige and dynastic continuity reasons I immediately needed 3 concubines for which I immediately sent - it didn't really matter much who, I can replace them at later date at no cost if anybody prettier shows up or gets captured. One was Rajput Hindu (and hated me as I had no caste), one was Panjabi Buddhist (and only somewhat disliked me), one was Pecheneg Manichean (with no siblings, poor thing...). Karluk tribes definitely suffer from lack of eligible women. All 3 concubines are gluttonous as I found after they arrived. One of them even managed to be super cute while stuffing herself with goat pie. Karluks don't care for shallow things like how heavy a woman is, just important things like how many healthy sons she can bear.
Oh and obviously I arranged marriages for all my councilors as soon as they chose their ambition to get married (as almost everybody does) - there are very few Karluks on the map, so they'll be my most likely vassals in the future once I grow a bit bigger - and getting relationship boost now for fulfilling their ambitions is easier than trying to arrange that once they're landed.
Did I mention before that CK2 is just an elaborate dating simulator? If only you could so easily see everybody's stats and traits in the real world... Tumblerina -50 relations with chantards; Brave, 50% mtth to get an STD and so on.
While my ambition to get married (next one is to improve diplomacy, becoming king has to wait) was being taken care of, I also attacked tribe of Chuy on day one.
Next part of the plan was raiding civilized people in county of Fergana under emir of Khiva - this is seriously my only source of hard cash, tribes make pretty much nothing whatsoever in tax, I won't make any money raiding other tribes since they're also poor, and there are no Jews to "borrow" money from that far from their homelands in Warsaw.
Plan of course had to change as Khivan League independence war spawned in Fergana and another county. In the long term I don't mind them being divided, but I don't want to conquer any of that now - as long as I'm tribal I won't get significant amount of cash from it - and I urgently need money and prestige and looting settled people of Fergana is right now my only possible source.
Fortunately rebels were kind enough to raise their troops and move away, so it ended up being even better - instead of just skimming money off the top I fully sacked 4 holdings. Unfortunately no prisoners, and I'm still pretty far away from being able to afford significant amount of mercs or tribal troops.
At least dynastically it's good news - my wife bore strong daughter (who can't inherit as a woman), and two of my concubines are pregnant.
The most obvious next step would be to conquer Manichean tribe of Chach, but tribe of Penchenegs can join on defender side in county conquest wars as they're same religion (if I understand correctly), or high chief of Turkestan might opportunistically DoW Chach as soon as I destroy their armies, making us hostile to each other. Neither of these scenarios sound like fun (well, if Turkestan goes in, I can just GTFO for free, but then they could subjugate war me as the next thing).
I'm currently at 816/1533 troops since it takes long time for a freshly conquered county to have levies - it's a bit hard to figure out how many troops other people can raise as their army. Assuming every tribal vassal raises their whole army and enters as ally, other countries can raise:
• Chach - 473
• Khiva - 689/726 (way less than tribals, as feudal lieges get small predictable % levy from vassals, tribals get unreliable high alliance troop)
• Zhetysu - 771
• Kirghiz - 841
• Kimak - 1407
• Pecheneg - 1336
• Turkestan - 3203
I don't have CB on Kirghiz, but I would get one once I'm duke and neighbouring them. So basically my choice (once I somehow get larger army) is one of:
• ambition to become king of Turkestan, subjugate Zhetysu, buy high chief title, invade Kirghiz and Pechenegs, then maybe subjugate Turkestan at some point and become king of Turkestan - leaving ambition and capital move available, but making expansion north really hard, so that's a quick way to India strategy
• once-in-lifetime subjugation of Zhetysu, buy high chief title, invade Kirghiz and Pechenegs, move capital to Kirghiz or Pecheneg territory, take ambition to become king of Cumania etc. That costs me once-in-lifetime subjugation but Zhetysu is way easier to conquer than Kimak.
• once-in-lifetime subjugation of Kimak, move capital there (I think it would be free since high chief of Kimak would be my primary title and moving to historical capital of primary title is free), invade Kirghiz and Pechenegs, ambition to become king of Cumania, unite Cumania. Zhetysu might possibly accept vassalization, but Turkestan won't and I won't have any CB on them. Very high potential to blob north, but slow way towards India.
There could still be some exploits with moving capital while having "become king of <your current de jure kingdom>" ambition, I'm not sure really.
Detour to get Chach (or for that matter Fergana - even with wrong holding type and wrong religion penalties it's still worth something)
Another option would be to bribe people into plot to kill high chief of Turkestan to remove biggest threat, and have his two child sons split his demesne - I'm nowhere near the point where I can throw money at stuff speculatively, and it's hard to predict what would be the outcome with tribal mechanics - civil war would be nice but not guaranteed.
And if Turkestan went into war against someone (Pechenegs would be best), I'd definitely get Chach quickly while they're busy.
Oh and I don't want to get into opportunistic county conquest against Pechenegs - I want their 3 provinces in de jure Cumania, not get 1 province in de jure Turkestan I can DoW for, and then wait 10 years.
Did I mention I want to keep this series brief and with much less detail than my EU4 games? How about that...
My wife is pretty awesome
Arslan of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 2: 770-774 High Chief of Zhetysu tribes
The main reason I didn't just attack chief of Zhetysu and Karluk was that I wanted to save my once-in-lifetime subjugation for use against Turkestan sometime later, and I didn't want to take ambition for kingdom of Turkestan as it's very small.
But seriously, I have to once-in-lifetime either Zhetysu or Kimak anyway. The main difference is easy war and spending extra 200 gold (with some prestige dependent discount even) on high chief title if I attack Zhetysu versus hard war (if vassal chief joins it, if they don't it's not really that harder) and free high chief title.
Anyway, Zhetysu. I could presumably take them head on, but it was better to soften them - first fully sieging Karluk tribe with looters, so he'd lose 236 troops (and I'd gain 1.5 gold - raiding tribes in entirely pointless), then I could crush his army of only 535 instead of doing something unreasonably fair.
All that was really good since I could win the war by just destroying his army and sieging his non-capital county, so I got tribe of Zhetysu with full garrison at least (and still no levy, as there's no way to get any levy right after war, at least for this kind of wars).
So now I sort of need to play the waiting game... or I could just go after Chach. If Turkestan enters the fight I can hire mercs for at least a few months. Well, surprisingly they did not join. I'm not entirely sure why, it was still easy conquest for them with me doing most of the work and them taking the province unless I contested it.
Anyway, the point of this was not Chach as such - it was access to second lootable civilized province of Oshrusana. Emir of Khiva was far too active to just let me siege it, so I just raided some cash off the top and ran away, just like in the good old days of cattle raiding.
Fortunately rebels still held Fergana and didn't mind that I'd sack everything in it again. I used money from the raids to create high chiefdom, which meant +25% levy in every county in capital duchy, and access to tribal invasion CB.
Amazingly my plot against high chief of Turkestan even worked, splitting his demesne among his two sons, but keeping his territory otherwise intact.
Up north a lot of action is going on - Manichean Kirghiz conquered Tengri Kipchak in a holy war, Khazaria got one county from Pechenegs, but lost 7 in presumed gavelkind succession (they're still allied as same dynasty, so it's not all well) - I think that's because Khazaria is titular, so whatever the other son got was inherently non de jure? That's my best guess, normal gavelkind would keep him as high chief under his brother as king.
It might actually get awkward as my territories will definitely end up in multiple kingdoms, so any succession might end up splitting them. It's actually sort of tolerable, as I don't think I'll ever have the kind of money to convert them all to feudalism at once, so one branch of the family taking civilized south, and another branch of the family taking tribal north, while remaining allied, is actually a reasonable outcome.
Anyway, there's absolutely zero doubt what I'm going to do next - high chief of Kirghiz has 6 counties but only 3 of them provide any levies, and even that with big penalty as they're all Tengri and he's Manichean. It is not permanent war mode for me yet, as every use invasion CB costs me 500 prestige, but I think that yes, I'd like to double my territory cheaply. I have twice the army he has, higher martial, and Pechenegs won't help him as they just got totally screwed in their war - the biggest worry is really that someone will conquer them before I do.
I finally got a son, but his mother died in childbirth, so I had to get another concubine - some Khazar Tengri cruel wroth brave honest hedonist woman. I can imagine with traits like this it will be interesting...
And the babies kept popping, 2 sons and 3 daughters so far, and more on the way. My plan is to have absolutely no non-dynastic vassals at high chief or above if I can. Just make babies fast enough to keep up with my conquests.
I also lost proud - it doesn't really matter, it's just +6 free prestige / year. So far not one of the events for improving diplomacy fired in 5 years, making me wonder if that's bugged somehow maybe?
A huge pain in the ass I can already see is that they restricted which territory I can give to my heir (only stuff he'd inherit normally), which is total bullshit, as I just want to give each son one high chiefdom territory (without high chiefdom title for now, as I'm not a king yet, and I don't have that kind of money anyway), not try to avoid gavelkind.
A minor complication is that I'll need to move my capital to de jure Cumania... Anyway, let's wait with dividing spoils of war until the war is won.
Arslan of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 3: 774-778: 15 goat pastures are better than 5
I double checked files, and main premise of this campaign is wrong. I thought that tribal invasion CB is based on culture not religion (except pagans can't use it against other pagans, and Christians can't use it at all). This is only half true - if you have horde_invader flag, or you're Nahuatl or Mongol - then you can use it with any non-Christian religion. Magyars and non-Mongol Altaic characters only keep it as long as they're pagan.
This is really awkward, as it makes direct Tengri to Jain transition I wanted totally unviable.
Oh and I can't go feudal by simply moving my capital to owned feudal province, that would be too easy.
I have a few options (after I establish power base in Cumania):
• reform Tengri faith - this enables holy wars, keeps invasions, allows going feudal, all pretty awesome.
• go Zoroastrian - lose invasions to gain holy wars, so it's option for day after I invade kingdom of Persia successfully. Could be fun to restore high priesthood and become Saoshyant. Also gives me access to Jewish money.
• go Buddhist / Hindu instead of Jain - at least I get holy war CBs to reach India.
I might even end up with some combination of 3. I can't think of any reason for going Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Zunist, or non-Tengri Pagan this campaign, but at this point my plan is basically going full Daenerys Targaryen, going to Westeros through Vaes Dothrak, Meereen... I mean to India through Cumania, Hungary (Tengri holy sites are spread very wide), Armenia, and Persia.
Anyway, back to the storyline. The first tribal invasion was 5/6 successful, as Tobol took one county from Kirghiz before I could.
Second tribal invasion of Pecheneg almost failed as Turkestan got 1/3 of their lands occupied, but somehow I managed to press the win button first and got it all. I even got some event troops (461) for it from building legend.
Time to burn my once-in-lifetime capital move (seriously, all of these once-in-lifetime decisions should just have 20 year timer or something...) to Balkhash, abandon ambition to improve diplomacy (not sure if bugged or just very unlucky), take ambition to become king of Cumania and go to war! Well, not much war actually, I got 1 province from Suomenusko high chiefdom of Yugra (that attrition was brutal), and subjugated chief of Tyumen. For some reason I couldn't declare war on 3-chief of Tobol, Ishim, and Kimak, so Khazaria subjugated him instead.
So now I have 9/28 counties of Cumania, 6/12 provinces of Turkestan, and pretty much zero money. I ran out of new sons (just 3), so non-dynastic vassals currently hold 3 counties, in addition to 7 held by my sons, and 5 held my me.
I really want to just go full in for subjugation of Khazaria and Itil - both at once are the only way as they're same dynasty so I'd be fighting both anyawy. I can even call double tribal army into this for 2x2500 extra troops. And I also desperately need money to fund all that as I'm basically broke and there are no Jews to politely ask for any shekels. I even captured a bunch of prisoners, but none of them had any money to pay ransom.
Waiting would make me lose my event troops (now down from 461 to 325), but I'd regain my somewhat depleted levies (unfortunately moving my capital lost me a lot of levy bonuses). I could start a silly war against someone irrelevant to keep them, but all the irrelevant chiefs go conquered by larger powers already.
Itil has 1 holy site and Khazaria has 2, but only one would be in right de jure kingdom, so I don't really have CBs for reforming Tengri faith.
Alternatively instead of bothering with reformed Tengri I could invade Khiva, and maybe go Buddhist or Zoroastrian? Zoroastrian plan sort of demands invasion of Persia since getting it one duchy at a time would be way too slow, and I'm nowhere near powerful enough to take on Arabian Empire. Of course I could go Zoroastrian without going for Saoshyant, but that feels pointless.
Invading south and becoming Buddhist is also fairly straightforward. It even has nice follow up in that I can holy war Turkestan to link my realm together.
Either way I'm going to need ridiculous (compared to what all steppe tribes put together make in taxes) amounts of money to get second duchy (~200), then kingdom of Cumania (~400), then build up my provinces so they can go feudal (~500 each). If i just do my demesne (bad idea long term, as my tribal vassals will hat me), that's 3100 for just that. Even Tengri, second best Pagans after Norse, are nowhere near how ridiculously powerful Norse can be with their boundless money and prestige from raiding Europe.
And as for dynastic politics, I'm no longer lustful. That cruel hedonist stuff was apparently too much. And I forgot to arrange betrothals for my sons before giving them land, so now it's too late and they'll find themselves some truly awful women, guaranteed.
Arslan of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 4: 778-782: What can I even do with all those steppes?
I actually got a brilliant idea how to solve my problem of getting permanent war - why not revoke that Cuman Tengri chief I recently subjugated? He'd probably revolt, and screw tyranny modifiers, it's not like my sons will care... Oh, I can't revoke from character I have truce with without a reason? I had no idea... Oh well, goodbye event troops.
I did some more raiding of Khiva, as I was really short on money, and I did fairly poorly, now that Khiva was at peace it had enough troops to force me to loot one province at time, not two. Too much time wasted on game of cat and mouse with their stack there. And then mid-raid two counties split from Khiva without a war. My guess is that he folded to independence league ultimatum. Then not much later Samarkand gavelkinded away.
Raiding took about two years - it's much less efficient than blitz raiding of half of Europe's coasts Norse can do. I got about 200 gold in the raids, and about 100 more from randoms, got level 1 in castle infrastructure, and even started upgrading some provinces capital (big mistake as it turns out).
My southern border is so fragmented that if I wanted to reach India, it wouldn't be too hard. However, that's not the plan - the plan is to conquer the steppes first.
So I got two 2500 tribal armies - and then I had to lower tribal organization from high to medium, as I could get only 241 levy troops, instead of up to 2979 ally vassal troops. I hate calling allies as vassals mechanic, but levy nerfs got just ridiculous by now. This by the way is another demonstration how awful the idea of vassal cuddling is - this kind of shitty levy is what I get with +100 opinion from all my sons and lowest opinion count was still over +80. I'd get more levies from a building or two in my capital than multiple duchies worth of vassals.
The war took very long time, mostly due to very slow travel time, and I totally miscalculated how much money it will cost and how little prestige I'll make out of it - I've spent 150 gold and 300 prestige on buildings, and now I'm at only 363 prestige (I need 500 to start invasion), and I got bankrupted during last months of the war (after I subjugated king of Khazaria's part of Cumania, but not high chief of Itil yet), in spite of sacking multiple holdings, and even capturing one dude for small ransom. That disbanded my 5k tribal armies (well, a bit less than 5k by that point). I even got 1k troops from building legend, but I had to disband them too since it would take them like a year to reach frontlines, and I was bankrupt already. Tribals are just ridiculously poor.
As I'm now double high chief, my vassal limit increased to 18 and my demesne limit to 7, so I'm fine with both.
My vassals in Western part of my realm don't like me much, and I have double-chiefs who are same dynasty as king of Khazaria. I want to do something about that at some point.
I already got 2 Tengri holy sites, but there are no easy ways to get any of the 3 remaining ones. I'm even fabricating claim on one in Turkestan, but that will take forever. Of course if my ruler dies, one of his sons will be able to subjugate either Turkestan or Khazaria (the last one is way too far in Pannonia), but then if my ruler dies anytime soon, it will be civil war clusterfuck, as two sons will get a duchy each, and western vassals will probably rebel day one.
Now I sort of want to conquer Oshrusana, wrong holding type be damned, as it would give me great base for looting deeper south. There are still 3 chiefdoms in Cumania I don't hold (2 Magyar, 1 Turkestani), but I don't care about them all that much.
Oh and I control 31/71 of de jure empire of Tartaria - I'd need 57/81 to create it, in addition to 2 kingdom titles and buckets of gold.
My realm in terms of stability is (everybody is Tengri at least, and at least same culture group if not culture):
• 5 - directly held
• 9 (3+3+3) - held my my sons
• 2 (1+1) - other Karluks
• 6 (2+2+2) - family of king of Khazaria, two of them claimants to high chiefdom of Itil
• 9 (3+2+1+1+1+1) - other foreigners
• 3 temple baronies
So plans for the near future are some of the following:
• get lucky with claim on 3rd holy site, reform Tengri faith - I'll need extra 2% religious authority for that, but that's just 2 sacked mosques - high chief of Kimak losing holy war to high chief of Kirghiz is the main reason we're below 50%
• expand south into Khiva and maybe even further for more lootable territories
• plot revocation from unreliable multicounts, and generally opportunistically clean up the realm without going full tyrant mode. At least I don't think I have any need or reason to go full tyrant. Half of my realm being held by foreigners, supported by foreign king, is pretty bad. A few tribes I don't really care about that much.
Then further plans depend mostly on managing to reform Tengri faith or not, as without it I don't really have that many good CBs. I can county conquest different religion Pagans to the North/West, but that's not terribly useful. I want to conquer Turkestan and/or Khazaria, but I have neither subjugation nor invasion on them. I can invasion on various countries to the South (except not enough prestige for it), but that's really awkward due to all the feudal holdings there.
If I manage to reform Tengri faith, I can holy war the hell out of de jure empire of Tartaria, and going feudal will be relatively smooth. This is really sweet, since then I can even tribal invade Persia, and do the whole Zoroastrian fun.
If I don't, maybe I could go Buddhist? That would definitely close the door to restoring Persian Empire on the way to India, but then I've been making pretty big detours anyway.
I thought I'd have more sons by now. It's been 13 years with 4 women, and it only resulted in 3 sons and 4 daughters. Maybe it's time for some younger concubines?
I guess I could work around lack of sons by betrothing my daughters matrilinearly and giving their husbands land, but that's much less reliable way to ensure your dynasty succeeds due to concubines and elective gavelkind. Still might be worth a shot.
Arslan of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 5: 782-785: Khan of Cumania
My court Persian who knows how to do numbers told me that it would take about 100,000 gold to turn lands I'm lord of into a serious kingdom like the ones in the South.
This is bad, as yearly income from my demesne is only 8.2, so it would take 600 generations to get there. It's not quite as bad as it seems since:
• My vassals have some incomes of their own
• My income will generally increase as I move closer to feudal model
• There's some amount of looting possible in two neighbouring counties of Khiva - Fergana and Oshrusana, so even now I'll be making more than 8.2/year
But it's still not a viable plan. Subjugating Magyars, Khazaria, or Turkestan would give me access to move lootable territory, but that's not the kind of war I can currently explain to my subjects.
That leaves me with just two options:
• Conquer some territory in Khiva to expand my border with settled people, use money from that to create proper feudal kingdom
• Conquer some territory in Khiva and just migrate to India, dividing family lands between settled lands to the South and tribal lands to the North
In theory a third way would be to fabricate claim on third Tengri holy site, then start a series of holy wars, but I don't even have money to pay for that fabrication without first moving against Khiva.
I organized another round of raids to recover some treasury, while my vassals dealt with chief Erza of Pecheneg and Inder who refused our legitimate call to relinquish one of his chiefdoms. He was helped by high chief of Crimea - a minor independent ruler also of Ashina dynasty.
Meanwhile second of Ashina counts refused similar offer - this time getting help from king of Khazaria, so I had to send my troops as well, my vassals would probably not be enough (they had numbers, but not a shred of coordination); and third of them got caught plotting murder (of another Ashina, so I could let it pass, but plotting murder is plotting murder), so I tried to arrest him, failed, and had another revolt at hand.
As I had no more sons, I couldn't give each tribe to independent chief for silly vassal limit reasons, and I didn't really want strong non-dynastic vassals, I matrilinearly two of my daughers to content boys of similar age, and divided lands of the traitors between them. One of the boys then turned out to be homosexual... I guess at least he won't be whoring bastards on the side, and hopefully will have enough sense of duty to give his wife a son. We're a tolerant society here. There's so many things which could go wrong here, so if even one of the two ends up being inherited by a child of my dynasty I'll call it success.
The raids and fights against rebels resulted in dual success - not only I'm now a Khan of Cumania (spending nearly all the money on the title - a fairly bad idea as in my position I really ought to keep significant reserve), and I managed to expel Ashinas from my realm - none of my vassals now has any foreign allies.
I also have ton of prestige, so between tribal army I could call, my demesne troops, and my vassals I could call the second largest army in the world after Abbasids. It wouldn't be particularly good army - uncoordinated, spread over very large area, mostly light infantry, and I wouldn't be able to pay them for long, bat that's something.
The "county conquest Oshrusana as soon as I'm done looting" plan failed as quickly as it was conceived - first Khan of Khazaria sided with traitor vassals against me, so I had to move my troops West, and simultaneously emir of Khiva declared holy war on Manichean Oshrusana.
I could declare invasion of Khiva. Its success mostly depends on question if Abbasid Caliph would join against me - he currently faces no revolts, and is at 0% decadence (like every other major Muslim ruler, apparently the patch fucked up decadence again, this time in "too easy" direction - it was never balanced in any patch, the only question was which way it would go). At least he's 71, so there's some hope he'll die soon plunging his caliphate into civil war, and letting me expand South freely.
Arslan of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 6: 785-790: Looting my way to India
I declared invasion of Khiva - and got bankrupt in the process before even the first battle, but never mind, nobody except double chief of Samarkand joined against me, and I got over 200 gold from it.
During the war my concubines bore me 2 sons (as well as 1 daughter - there's more twins out there that I'd expect), and the 2 infant sons as well as some patient and lustful 29 old guy betrothed to my 14 year old daughter became my first feudal vassals. That's such a good combination - hopefully he'll be patient enough to wait for the wedding night and not whore on the side, and afterwards make a ton of legitimate babies. (can underage characters become pregnant in CK2? I've seen some screen shots of men becoming pregnant via glitches, but I've never seen this happen myself)
Of course the war was immediately followed by raiding, which funded a series of hillforts and market villages in my demesne. They are admittedly very primitive, but Constantinople wasn't built in one day either. Looters got a bit overenthusiastic and even completely destroyed city of Ishtikhon. That's not too good.
Conquests greatly expanded my territory, as well as expanded raiding potential from 2 to 6 neighbouring counties.
Territory over which I rule currently consists of:
• 31 tribes
• 3 tribal temples
• 6 feudal counties
• 1 barony castle
• 6 temples
• 7 cities
In terms of lands, feudal holdings are a small corner of my realm, but their significance is growing, and southern edges of tribal territory are very slowly becoming more like that.
Since I achieved my main ambition of becoming Khan of Cumania, and I somehow lost my diligence on the way, I decided to focus on improving my abilities - this time it's progressing better - some gardening, some flying contraption, it's getting somewhere.
There's not much choice of next steps - expand towards India for more loot and glory!
As long as Abbasid caliphate stands strong, there's little chance of successfully invading Persia - at least I can raid them over our small border (having border with strongest country in the world with holy war CBs on you is an unhealthy lifestyle choice). I'm not sure if it will ever fall apart on its own - permanent 0% decadence in this patch turns already overpowered Abbasids into lucky France level monster.
I invited some distant relatives of some former high chiefs within khanate of Khazaria - their claims over these high chiefdoms are currently weak, but if situation changes, they might be of some use. Subjugating khan of Khazaria and high chief of Turkestan would be great achievements, maybe even leading to creation of empire of Tartaria - currently a rather remote dream.
Arslan of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 7: 790-797: Long live the new Khan
I continued expanding and looting South. I brought home enough gold that I started funding market villages and earth hillforts in demesne of my sons as well - I could rush to make my demesne feudal while the rest of my realm was tribal, but that would probably lead to a disaster, I'd much prefer if at least half of Cumania went feudal together (probably the Eastern half).
While I was at it, I also got a de jure Cumanian tribe from king of the Magyars, who got beaten pretty hard by just about everybody by that point.
A lot of small things went on:
• one of my sons created feudal duchy of Khiva (those feudals have so much money even without raiding, it's ridiculous)
• one of my daughters died - she bore a son before that, and he's an heir to current ruler - unfortunately that was not matrilinear marriage, probably due to misclick, oh well
• one of my grandsons was assassinated
• I revoked a few more foreign multichiefs, giving the lands to my relatives or keeping them for myself
• Abbasids tried to holy warred last Zunist duchy, who decided to change religion to keep it
• Bohemia is in process of subjugating Pannonia, which is pretty bad, as that's one of Tengri holy sites gone
• I continued building market villages and earth hillforts, I even started building the first wooden hillfort in the realm
• I took a lover and had bastard daughter - apparently wife and 3 concubines was not enough. Unfortunately I wasn't asked to legitimize her (unless I missed that somehow).
And then at young age of 44, after ruling for 28 successful years, Khan Arslan of Ili died, splitting his realms in inheritance clusterfuck:
• oldest son Kotyan got high chiefdom of Itil, and chiefdom of Itil in it
• second son (and most popular heir) Uzur got Khanate of Cumania, and 3 of father's chiefdoms
• third son Sevenc got ancestral lands in high chiefdom of Zhetysu, and newly created khanate of Khiva with all feudal holdings in it as vassals. Khanate itself is still tribal.
• fourth son Itkuk and fifth son Aepak got nothing, possibly because they're feudal
The weirdest part was that Sevenc, who originally held 3 counties lost them all to Uzur, getting 4 father's counties instead... Is the next patch going to finally fix gavelkind succession?
Anyway, the plan is straightforward:
• make sure the realm doesn't collapse right away
• deal with my brother (shouldn't be too hard, as tribal rulers over feudal vassals act as if they had autonomous vassal law)
• subjugate Turkestan or Khazaria to reform Tengri faith
• become emperor of Tartaria
All that while continuing to expand towards India and reforming my realm along feudal lines.
It's a good thing I spread market villages and hillforts, instead of building them all in my demesne - otherwise my brother would have them all, and that would not be good.
Uzur of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 8: 797: Brothers
First, let's introduce the new Khan of Cumania: Uzur is 23 old, child of Panjabi Buddhist concubine Bhani (which is not quite as bad as being a legitimized bastard, but not perfect), 4th of 11 children of his father with various women. He's brilliant strategist, just, and zealous. He's also deceitful, shy, and greedy.
• diplomacy 0
• martial 20
• stewardship 7
• intrigue 12
• learning 5
His strongest vassal is his older half-brother and chosen successor Kotyan, high chief of Itil. His vassals are generally not overly enthusiastic about him.
Meanwhile Sevenc, Khan of Khiva, at age of 22, is son of his father's legitimate wife Ipek, and 7th of the children. He had a twin sistem, but she died of poor health during her second pregnancy.
He's attractive (out of nowhere, his father was strong, and his mother was a genius)
, skilled tactician, brave, and gregarious. He's also greedy, envious, and arbitrary.
• diplomacy 5
• martial 12
• stewardship 3
• intrigue 6
• learning 5
The already mentioned Kotyan, high chief of Itil, was son of another concubine - Pecheneg Manichean Ilkay, 2nd of his father's children and oldest son. He's skilled tactician, humble, and charitable. He's also gluttonous, depressed, and cynical.
• diplomacy 7
• martial 14
• stewardship 2
• intrigue 8
• learning 7
Election was fairly close between Uzur and Kotyan, with few people supporting Sevenc.
The first order of business was finding wife - and the most eligible woman was Muslim 16 year old genius in nearby Merv. Unfortunately her liege was zealous, and there was no way to convince him. I'm tempted to sack this place to take her as my concubine at least.
So as next best thing Khan married Lyukha, Tengri Khazar lowborn 18-year old, who's ambitious, diligent, trusting, and midas touched, with very good stats of 12/6/21/6/5, and hopefully highly fertile hips.
I also got some concubines to spread my dynasty further.
What's going to happen to the brothers? You'll see in the next episode.
Uzur of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 9: 797-801: Mandatory succession war
My brother Sevenc immediately started plotting my murder. Then since that didn't work, he tried to murder our brother Kotyan...
All the while getting himself holy warred by Abbasid caliph - fortunately for just one county. It was hopeless, so I didn't even bother helping him. Instead I subjugated Turkestan for third Tengi holy site.
Of course I immediately went bankrupt (got just barely over 0 when I sacked holy site temple) - I think my father had a reserve of about 100 gold, no idea who inherited that, unless of course I forgot to keep reserve for a moment, and that's when death happened. Only 3 of my vassals bothered joinig me, showing how my realm is not doing all that well.
First order of business was subjugation of Turkestan - 2 tribes held by high chief of Turkestan went to new content vassal, so at least I have some support there.
Second order of business was pressing my claim over khanate of Khiva. My brother couldn't really fight as caliph crushed his armies before I even joined - but he did his best by avoiding any battles and making it take forever. To avoid another bankruptcy in this long war, I separated looting group from the actual army, so I could sack everything twice. It was pretty damn effective way to get some money.
Now he's reduced to high chief of Zhetysu and hates me so much I doubt he'll ever help me with anything. I could try throwing him in jail as he keeps plotting against my brother Kotyan. Not sure how much that would help, as I don't really want to execute or banish him (unless really necessary). I could keep him imprisoned for a while until things stabilize a bit more maybe.
I now control 3 Tengri holy sites, so reforming the faith is a realistic option. Unfortunately after losing series of holy wars to Abbasids and Slavic Bohemia subjugating Pannonia with one of our holy sites, our religious authority is not very high at 45 and falling. My piety is also not high enough, at just 409 of 750 needed. Both issues are solvable but not trivially.
To avoid splitting the realm again, it would be sensible to create an imperial title. Right now I control 37/71 counties in Tartaria (as well as 9/90 in Persia), and I'd need 20 more, in addition to big bucket of gold. It's all doable but not trivial, as it would involve a lot of fighting Suomenusko Pagans one county at a time and brutal attrition.
Probably the best thing about it is that fighting them would gain me de jure territory, piety, and Tengri religious authority simultaneously.
Factions keep plotting. The largest is one to lower tribal organization, and I could even agree to that maybe, as I don't really care all that much at the moment - going feudal probably won't happen until next generation or two. The only problem with that is that I wouldn't be able to revoke infidel titles, but that's not a big deal right now.
The next largest faction is independence, and that is actually not a huge problem, as I'd have de jure claims on all of them separately. Some people try to setup factions to but one of my brothers on the throne, but these don't seem to be getting anywhere at least.
Uzur of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 10: 801-806: The Old Gods and The New
It's entirely possible that I might lose a lot of territory to Abbasids - they're a huge blob, with much larger armies than anyone, way better tech than mine, extra bonuses due to 0% decadence thanks to patch rebalance fail, unreasonable levels of realm stability, and free CB on every neighbouring duchy.
They have truce with my brother as he lost one county to them, but not with me. My main protection is AI's opportunism - Abbasids can defeat me, but I can put up a good fight. I'm not sure if I'd even want to, burning all the money and prestige, but they might decide to go after weaker targets elsewhere.
Anyway, let's expand in direction as far away from Abbasids as possible. One of claimants I invited got himself 3rd in line of succession somehow, so I can press his weak claim.
I can also do a bunch of de jure claims and county conquests against neighbouring Suomenusko Pagans.
Expanding towards India as I found out would be a lot harder - Khiva was feudal but barely developed, so it was easy takings, but going further South from there castles are much stronger, levies are much larger, and Indians can hire holy orders already at this date, unlike anyone else as far as I know - Pagans get holy orders when they reform, and Christians/Muslims sometime around times of crusades. Even raiding there was not as easy as I thought from my experience with Khiva.
Anyway, let's get back to the realm. First order of business was rightfully arresting my brother Sevenc to prevent his plotting. Second order of business was some minor warfare:
• pushing claims of Zengi Dulo's for high chiefdom of Bolgar (who eventually lost to revolt, but at that point I don't care, revolt leader is still my vassal)
• my de jure claim on Sharukan against king of Magyars
• my de jure claim on Aqtobe against high chief of Terkestan (subjugation truce lasts much less than regular truce for some reason)
• and county conquest of Fergana held by Muslim duke, so I could give it to my youngest brother who already holds 3 other counties in duchy of Samarkand, so I have one happy vassal more. It would also let my brother create duchy for himself, hopefully.
This time 10/14 vassals dediced to honor their obligations. The realm is not quite where I want it, but it's getting there.
My chancellors did a decent job at keeping factions in check - spymaster by discouraging them from joining facitons (I think you need to check for blackmailable traits first), chancellor by impoving relations, and especially my marshal helping to arrest my brother
My subjugation of Aqtobe failed as he lost holy war at the same time - not even to Abbasids, simultaneous Sunni holy war by duke of Merv - who himself is losing to Zoroastrian uprising - a nice clusterfuck is going on there. Zoroastrians then got attacked by the caliph... Yeah, I wondered what else they were expecting.
That was high chief's only demesne tribe, but somehow instead of usurping title from his 2-tribe vassal, his title got destroyed. Oh well, his vassal would totally accept my overlordship now. Oh and my new vassal, how about you give me one of your counties? You actually would? Well, that's the first time that happens, frankly I did not expect it. Oh well.
I also had to deal with Zoroastrian uprising myself. And then another... Leader of the second one somehow had 300 gold with him - that sounds like Jew money, nobody on the steppes has this kind of gold. But yes, sure, I'll build more hillforts for it.
Time for another set of wars to improve my piety and Tengri religious authority: 2 conquests of Suomenusko tribes, and one on Zoroastrian county not currently holy warred by the caliph. So now everybody except my brother in oubliette will happily join? That's pretty damn good.
Wars against (mostly) the infidels have been going very well, but somehow Gods still hate me - they cursed me with 5 worthless daughters one after another. Will I ever be blessed with a true born son, or will I be forced to leave everything I have to my brothers? It seems I have no choice, but to reform the faith!
Now it's time to finish unification of Tartaria - only 47 of 71 its tribes are under my control, so I'll need at least 10 more to crown myself emperor.
I'm also over my vassal limit - mostly due to rampant gavelkinding among my vassals, which is not something I have much control over. I don't really like this mechanic much.
Uzur of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 11: 806: Interview with Khan who reformed Tengri faith
• Q: Wasn't this supposed to be India campaign? India is the other way
• A: It was meant to be tribal and India campaign, if I meant it to just be India, I'd start in India.
• Q: So when is it going to India?
• A: As soon as I become Saoshyant, the chosen savior of the world, I'll start great holy war upon one of Indian kingdoms and go on from there.
• Q: Saoshyant? That's some Zoroastrian thing? Didn't you just reform the Tengri faith.
• A: Gods work in mysterious ways.
• Q: It's about one of your sisters, isn't it?
• A: I doubt I'll make it, but I have 5 daughters, and my son might be interested...
• Q: OK, no more questions about incest, I actually don't want to know. Didn't you say something about being emperor of India as a Jain or a Buddhist? You reformed Tengri faith, and now you're talking about becoming Saoshyant, how does that even work?
• A: Gods work in very mysterious ways.
• Q: OK, so when are you invading Persia?
• A: There are two things stopping me - first Abbasids are far stronger than I expected, so either they need to get a lot weaker, or I need to get a lot more powerful, or both. Second, Persia would mean huge amount of feudal territory to manage, and that wouldn't be very practical for a feudal ruler, so I'd like to go feudal on day of my conquest of Persia.
• Q: How powerful is the Abbasid Caliph exactly?
• A: 2nd to 4th most powerful countries are three about equally strong empires - Umayyad's Sunni Empire of Hispania, Karling's Catholic Empire of Francia, and Isauros's Orthodox Byzantine Empire. Abbasid Caliph is stronger than any two of them put together, and I'm not even sure who would win a 3-vs-1, if that somehow came to happen.
• Q: And Khanate of Cumania and Khiva?
• A: It looks big on the map, but it's sparsely populated, poor, and underdeveloped. It would not stand a chance.
• Q: Does the Caliph even have any weaknesses?
• A: He can't increase crown authority past medium at his current technology level, and he won't be getting holy orders unless someone of another faith conquers Baghdad (that's part of Saoshyant plan), Damascus, Cairo, Jerusalem, or Mecca, or very long time passes.
• Q: And speaking of your realm, how far are you from going feudal anyway?
• A: I need stone hillforts (level 4) in at least my demesne. So far my entire realm has 2 wooden hillforts (level 2), about a dozen earth hillforts (level 1), and assortment of market villages and barracks I also wouldn't mind upgrading while I'm at it. It doesn't help that with elective gavelkind I don't really know what my demesne is going to be, so I need to spread upgrades among everything held by my family.
• Q: How much would that cost?
• A: Even very limited feudalization, at least 10,000 gold. Building all cities, temples, castle towns, and so on, even to Khiva's level (and far below what they have in Byzantium, Persia, or India) more like 100,000 gold.
• Q: So, more raiding then?
• A: My experience with raiding the Caliph has been mixed so far, and Southern border is now fairly straight, restricting raiding opportunities. Expanding further towards India for new raiding grounds could work, but these lands tend to be well fortified, and difficult to sack for loot and prisoners. Raiders can of course steal some cattle and whatever wasn't locked behind walls and get out fast, but that's not worth as much.
• Q: Would some feudal taxes help?
• A: Somewhat, but I don't want to tax my feudal subjects (2 duke brothers, and 1 almost-duke) too much, as Khiva is also underdeveloped, and I'd prefer if they spent money on fortifications in case Caliph decides to attack.
• Q: Any other sources of gold?
• A: That Zoroastrian uprising with 300 of Jew gold was literally God-sent... sorry for the pun. Situation is not desperate, so I don't expect any more bankruptcies, but we lack funds for investment, and any kind of development aid is welcome.
• Q: Is that the only problem?
• A: I wish. Even if we looted all the gold in the world, very few provinces in the tribal parts my realm have technology necessary to build reinforced hillforts (level 3) and stone hillforts (level 4) - and without high chiefs in charge, spread of technology is very slow. I'd also like level 3 legalism to adopt high crown authority, or realm would be weaker after feudalization than it was before, fortunately at least that is only required in my capital. Of course with very high legalism and majesty we would love to establish imperial administration like the Byzantines, but that's getting really far ahead.
• Q: Coming back to reforming Tengri faith. How does that help?
• A: It helps with realm stability a lot, removing -10 opinion penalty from unreformed Pagan vassals they'd otherwise have at medium tribal organization (would be up to -30 at absolute, but I won't be going there anytime soon), and reducing short reign penalty by about a third.
• Q: Was there any backlash?
• A: Much less than I expected. Almost every Tengri ruler within as well as outside my realm converted, including the Khazar Khan.
• Q: Does it help with further expansion too?
• A: It grants duchy level holy war CB against nearby Suomenusko and Slavic Pagans (as well as Old Tengri, but there aren't many around, and more remote Pagan). It's still not a happy direction to expand, as I have no protection against Arctic winters, on top of their Pagan homeland penalty. In due time (mtth 3 years) holy order Lords of the Sky is expected to get organized, that would definitely help in case Caliph decided to attack me, but I'm not sure if that would be enough.
• Q: And the final question, Gods forbid anything were to happen to you, who would be the next Khan of Cumania and Khiva?
• A: Chiefs don't agree with my choice of my brother Kotyan, instead preferring my younger brother Ituk, duke of Khiva. He's currently feudal, but inheriting tribal title would force him to go back to tribal ways. It's not an entirely unreasonable choice, even if I hope for Gods to bless me with a son before I die.
• Q: Thank you again for your time. Would you be willing to answer questions from the audience?
• A: Of course. What would they like to ask me?
Uzur of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 12: 806-810: Wars of Religion
Reformation went relatively smoothly, but not perfectly - 2 chiefs refused to convert, and one of them even refused revocation and rebelled.
There was also rebellion against Khan of the Khazars, and rebel leader was Old Tengri, so that was a good opportunity to enforce my claim to Khazar lands.
My brother Sevenc, such fool, he got killed while trying to escape prison. And I was just about to show brotherly mercy and release him, the papers were literally on the way... Oh well, at least his son loves me, and I gave him lands of rebellious Old Tengri chiefs to let him get over his father's death faster.
There was Old Tengri uprising, and Buddhist uprising simultaneously, neither of them had even one shekel of Jew gold, so who the hell pays them to rebel against a just and merciful ruler like me? I charged in first line of battle and became wroth because of them. And then there was another Old Tengri uprising, and another Buddhist uprising... Unfairness of it all made me lose my faith in justice. I have literally 1 Buddhist county in my whole realm, and it got "Religious Unrest" +50% revolt risk/year modifier. What the hell game?
I had to increase feudal taxes to fund development of Cumania - I'm now getting about 35-40 gold annually in taxes. That's still not much as I need tens of thousands, but it's better than nothing.
Oh and somehow that one count rebellion got king level temporary title, and as far as vassals know it was a major rebellion I crushed... Apparently it grows with every retelling on a drunken feast, and who am I to correct the bards?
Sadly I also ran into bullshit "vassal limit", so now I have 12.9% penalty to my vassal income. I guess it's time to create imperial title. Those 4 tribes in Azov were extremely helpful, now I'll just need a few in the North.
Or I could go all in and holy war Byzantines, who also took advantage of Khazaria's troubles and put Greek Orthodox bishop in charge of Tengri holy site... They're a lot stronger than me in theory, but is this also true in practice? Especially if anything were to happen to Byzantine empress, and there was civil war there...
I even got my sister married to Ailbert Karling, heir to empire of Francia. Really more because I had nothing better to do with her, but maybe we could crush Byzantines together?
The Saoshyant plan looks a lot worse now that I took a closer look - Abbasids were very effective at converting Persians to Sunni faith. I could of course take over Persian lands, but there would be no benefit in going Zoroastrian.
Detailed maps of possible war zones and of religious situation below (apparently Google+ doesn't handle 5 screenshots on one post too well...).
Uzur of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 13: Thoughts on new CK2 mechanics (for the last few versions, not just 2.2)
• tribals make ridiculously little money from their lands - Byzantine 1-counts make more money than large tribal kings
• this is an major problem, as upgrading provinces requires a lot of money
• fortunately there is second source of major income - coastal raiding. Unfortunately it's only available to the Norse. Everybody else is screwed as you can only raid direct neighbours (at least now you can raid other Pagans at will), and that's literally worthless unless they're civilized, and even if you're lucky to border a few it's a fairly slow trickle of gold, and big risk of losing your men with no boats to withdraw to quickly
• exchange rates are really poor - if you build tribal market town (level 2) for 75+150 gold, then convert to castle, it will convert to castle town (level 1) which costs just 100 gold directly - especially annoying since feudal rulers have far more money - so I think the right strategy is to rush hillforts and skip market towns
• using prestige as resource is a great idea
• except your best source of prestige is coastal raiding, only available to the Norse, which also gives gold so you have both or neither
• of things you can spend it on - buildings have fairly poor exchange rate (700 prestige tribal - 100 gold feudal), and tribal armies need fairly significant gold upkeep, which you probably won't be able to afford unless you're Norse
• wars between feudals are self-funding as long as they're going well - sacked holdings and ransomed prisoners are worth a lot of gold - but sacking tribal holdings gives you basically nothing, and tribals can't afford any meaningful ransoms, so tribe vs tribe wars are money sink for everybody
• mechanics are extremely punitive for trying to go feudal gradually, you have to go all in and that's ridiculously unaffordable - I guess that could be a legitimate design decision
• seriously, they are extremely punitive - tribals pay no taxes, you lose tribal allies (and get really tiny vassal levy instead, and that only if they like you) even just to go to high tribal authority, every wrong holding type in your demesne gets -75% levy and tax penalty, and as long as you're tribal, your feudal vassals are at zero crown authority and hate you
• even once you go feudal, you only have one holding per county so you still need 1100 gold per county to build city and temple
• it seems way easier for feudal lord to expand into tribal territory and turn it feudal gradually
• but you can't pull a reverse one, by conquering feudal territory as tribal and using that to help you - you can't move capital to different holding type (well, there are exploits...), and you get -75% levy and tax penalty for wrong holding type
• actually works better than expected
• you have basically zero control over who gets elected, your vassals will vote for whomever they feel like even if they love you - supposedly they nerfed elective that way too
• it's still fairly glitchy, maybe I've been quite lucky so far as glitches I've got weren't too bad
• +2 demesne limit for tribal at least does something meaningful, unlike +30% (rounded down, and applied before half of modifiers, so +0 usually, or +1 at best) for being gavelkind
• vassals as allies is not as bad as I thought - they're dumb as hell, but at least they use full levy instead of 10%-ish numbers you'd get otherwise after all the recent nerfs
• vassal levy nerfs got really ridiculous
• it doesn't nerf blobs at all - now that rebellions use temporary title with no de jure territory they get hit with vassal levy nerfs way harder than blobs - and blobs were limited more by stability than by smaller countries around them
• as tribe you have very low retinue limit as it's per holding (and you have 1/county, not 3-4/county like feudals), and you can't afford any retinue anyway now that it costs money all the time
• as tribe you can't afford mercs, as they got way more expensive in recent nerfs, that makes a lot of sense since you get tribal armies (hired for prestige) and councilor-raised armies as replacement for mercs - except tribal armies and councilor armies don't reinforce and autodisband on peace - should they really?
• fuck that shit
• feudal kings can have vassal dukes, but you can't afford to create duchies, your multicounts definitely have zero chance of being able to afford to create duchies, and your multicounts will gavelkind just to fuck with your vassal limit
• even if you have duke vassals, rebellions against them count as another vassal to screw you
• it's just making the game worse, and I can think of no redeeming qualities
• as additional entry in fuck that shit category, if you're over your vassal limit, vassals can go independent on succession - which would be tolerable if you got claims to get them back, but you don't
• and let's reiterate - EU4 low diplo relationship limit were literally the worst design decision EU4 ever made (even the universally behated scaled truce timer would make some sense if they actually applied to country you got stuff from, not everyone) - repeating similar bullshit here is not appreciated
• when you stack defensive Pagan homeland, arctic, severe winter, and long travel time, you'll lose 80% of your army in time it takes you to move from one Suomenusko province (even one already occupied by you) to another - attrition makes sense to a degree, but they overdid it way too much
• you can plan around winter penalties in Europe where travel times are short - in steppes there's no way in hell, it takes one season to move to a province, then another season to move back
• Muslims are ridiculously stable and decadence is easier to keep at 0% than ever - that needs some serious nerfing
• they also have best inheritance system, best CBs, best crown laws, and generally no downsides
• the only bad thing about playing Muslim is when you're a vassal and your liege is totally OP
Marriages and diplomacy:
• I'm pretty sure it's a bug in files, but it's such nonsense that Pagans can't marry other Pagans
• Everybody starting the game with no female family members kills all diplomacy for Pagans for the first 20 years - it's just all in war
• Diplomatic distance makes sense in theory, but it's extremely painful since you can't filter characters to just ones you can interact with in character search
• Removing assassination button sucks - what makes it a lot worse is that plots outside your realm are still awful. Let's say you want to murder Caliph. You have 20% plot power, so that will never fire, and nobody will join you as you're infidel. You can't join other people's plot against the Caliph, or ask other foreign rulers who hate the Caliph to join, or throw money/prestige/etc. for greater plot power etc.
• The game really needs more available plots than just murdering someone
• there isn't really that much new stuff you can do as tribe, I thought they'd add more events, decisions etc. I guess the DLC was really about playing as Karlings, not playing as tribes.
• the game has so few available ambitions, it really needs more
• Indians getting holy orders even at earliest start date feels really weird
• non-Norse tribes absolutely need more sources of gold
• maybe allow armies to carry loot so you can go further looting than just the next county
• maybe raiding non-Norse troops could get movement bonus, to let them escape easier?
• there really needs to be some kind of raid CB against civilized people (Game of Thrones mod have these for Dothraki raids, pirate raids, slave raids etc., as well as whole slave trading mechanic) somewhat similar to existing embargo CB - if tribe wins, it gets gold, but not any territory - that's fairly easy to mod, as mods already do that
• and analogous CBs against other tribals for prestige farming without territorial conquest
• I'm not sure if they want slavery in game, they probably don't (it's literally worse than incest) even though that was huge part of tribal economy of these times. Slavery was something that feudal Catholic Europe managed to eradicate fairly successfully, so it's much less necessary in 1066 start date (it was still widespread in the Muslim world until 19th century British Empire made them stop), but in early start dates, that's pretty much how tribal chiefs made money
• Game of Thrones mod handles these things reasonably well
Uzur of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 14: 810-818
Game updated from 188.8.131.52 to 2.2.1.
I couldn't really afford any major fighting, so all I did was 3 Indian counties, 1 Suomenusko tribe, some rebel fighting, and some raiding. Caliph declared holy war on me, which I couldn't realistically fight, so I just surrendered one tribal chiefdom to him. Losing one county for 10 year truce is not too terrible - I thought Caliph would holy war for Khiva instead, and that would screw me a lot worse.
At least every now and then random vassal chief would go Old Tengri, which would mean I could give his territory to one of my nephews.
Without major source of gold holding upgrades were really slow, and I've spent a lot of money creating high chiefdoms to work around damn vassal limit instead of doing upgrades.
But then wonderful opportunity happened - my claimant to high chiefdom of Alania got high enough in inheritance chain that I could press his claim. This is really useful, as that plus some holy wars against Suomenusko chiefs (not easy by any means, mostly due to brutal attrition).
And of course in the middle of that war I got ill, then I got pneumonic, and then I died an ace of 45, with the realm being divided between:
• Khan Ituk of Cumania (49 holdings) - younger brother of Uzur
• Khan Bonek of Khiva (37 holdings) - 4 year old son of Uzur
• Khan Tolun of newly created Volga Bulgaria (16 holdings) - 11 year old son of Uzur
Borders are horrible mess - lands in de jure Turkestan and Alania got divided between Cumania and Volga Bulgaria in a messy way, Ituk's original holdings in duchy of Khiva got given away to Bonek...
As if mid-war 3-way succession wasn't bad enough, Caliph declared invasion of Armenia on Byzantine Empress while she's at war with king of Lombardy as well. It's a pretty safe bet that Caliph will crush her, and be even more unstoppable than he already is. It's totally fair when I exploit game mechanics to blob, not when AI does it.
Anyway, let's introduce Khan Ituk. He's 31, son of Khan Arslan and Rajput Hindu concubine Kanchuka (the gluttonous attractive one).
He's Mastermind Theologian, which is definitely super useful for Khan of steppe tribes, and zealous mystic on top of that. He's honest, brave, temperate, and humble - all admirable traits for civilized ruler like duke of Khiva he used to be.
Other than intrigue, his stats are not too awful:
• diplomacy 8
• martial 13
• stewardship 11
• intrigue 2
• learning 12
His biggest downside is his zealotry - just like his brother. He won't have fun possibilities like:
• changing his religion to Sunni to avoid losing his lands to the Caliph
• going Buddhist and expanding to India
• going Slavic or Suomenusko and moving from Tartaria to Russia
• going Norse and finally making enough money from raidings to afford development of Cumania
• invading Greece, going Orthodox, and crowning himself Byzantine Emperor
• invading Persia, going Zoroastrian, and becoming Saoshyant
None of these are particularly amazing ideas, but I'm not taking advantage of invasion CB anyway, and Tengri doesn't have much special content other than that, so maybe it's time to consider alternatives?
Right now it seems that victory over Khazar Khan, subjugating my nephews, and finally some holy wars against Suomenusko chiefs will be enough to crown myself emperor of Tartaria if everything goes well.
Most holdings in the realm have at least earth hillfort (level 1), and a lot have wooden hillfort (level 2). There aren't any reinforced (level 3) or stone hillforts (level 4) yet, but it seems going feudal by year 900 is plausible, not by original pessimistic prediction of year over 9000.
As another unfortunate consequence of Uzur's untimely demise, Caliph no longer has truce with any of Uzur's successors.
Ituk of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 15: 818-828
Something really weird is going on with warscore system - instead of being really easy to get to 100% like it used to be it's now much harder. I think it just calculates occupation warscore by holding not by county, so if you have mix of tribal and feudal counties, feudal counties (with multiple holdings) count for way more than tribal counties (with one holding each). Between this and painfully slow travel time (here's an idea - why not make travel time same between any neighbouring provinces? I know, it sounds radical, but it's such pain in CK2 and EU4 depending on which part of the map you're on, and how stupid map projection is there) this makes tribal wars really slow.
Anyway, finishing finishing high chiefdom of Alania took forever, with help from my both nephews, but wasn't too difficult.
Then khanate of Volga Bulgaria took even longer - and while I was at it duke of Kabulistan attacked me for de jure claim over one of Indian counties. My second nephew helped me defend against that while my army was busy in the West.
Weirdly High Chief of Bolghar inherited duchy of Moldova with 3 counties (while still under Volga Bulgaria). That extends my country uncomfortably far to the West.
I created 2 duchies in territory already held by my subjugated nephew and gave them to him, so now he tolerates me. It might end with less kinslaying than previous succession, hopefully.
Fight against duke of Kabulistan was victorious, but my armies suffered massive losses. Fortunately so did my nephew's so it's time to reunite family lands. It took 10 years to resolve succession - and with successions happening mostly brother to brother that means realm will be in state of succession crisis more often than not.
Unlike with my tribal nephew who accepted his position in life, all 3 nephews who happen to be feudal dukes under me hate me - 2 as title claimants, 3rd without claims just because he's ambitious. At least 4th feudal nephew - who holds 3 counties, but only 2 of them in his main duchy, so he can't be a real duke likes me there.
I have loads of nephews like that - House of Ili grew to 49 living members, and has already higher prestige than Karlings - even if not as high as Abbasids, Umayyads, and various ancient Indian dynasties. Those minor titles really add up.
Contrary to my predictions, Caliph's invasion of Byzantine empire failed miserably, but that had little impact on the Caliphate. Caliph is 73, and his successor is content, so there's some hope thing will get better.
And yes - it turns out I'm so good at this game, I win even metagame, Muslim decadence is no longer hardcoded at 0%, Abbasids got to 38% somehow. But then Umayyads are still at 0%, and most other Muslim rulers are very low, so it could be just some event-driven decadence here, and not actually fixed Muslim decadence? Only time will tell.
Right now I'm helping king of what's-left-of-Khazaria defend against holy war waged by a Miaphysine duke. It's totally awkward as I'd rather de jure claim the county I'm defending as I just need one more county to crown myself emperor!
Feudalization is progressing nicely. Double high chief of Bolgar (tribal) and Moldau (feudal) used his feudal income, even with -75% penalty, to build stone fort and reinforced fort in his tribal holdings. It could be that remote Bolgar will be the first place to feudalize, due to their weird family situation.
My demesne on the other hand is just 1 reinforced hillfort (level 3), 1 wooden hillfort (level 2), and 7 earth hillforts (level 1). Somewhat quite disappointing as lands two previous khans spent money and prestige improving are now mostly under their vassals - and they've spent tons of money on creating all the high chiefdoms.
That's 3450 gold for demesne only feudalization, and 400 gold for imperial title. With current khan at age of 41, he probably won't make it long enough to feudalize his realm.
I'm not sure what's the best next step. Some possibilities:
• Invasion of Kabulistan is definitely doable - he's just Buddhist duke and everyone around him is Hindu, so the only help he'd get is Buddhist holy order.
• Suomenusko rulers hold 5 counties in my de jure empire, so if I wanted to get imperial title quickly that would be a way - but that's extremely painful arctic.
• Holy war against Byzantines - or even invasion - if Caliph failed, it feels like an extremely poor idea, but then who knows, maybe it's doable. I'm also allied with Karling empire of Francia. My nieces married kings of Serbia and Saxony too, but that unfortunately doesn't count as an alliance.
• Wait for truce with Khan of Khazaria to end, de jure that one missing county - sounds like at least part of the plan.
• Holy war or Pagan subjugation against Slavic rulers to the West - that's really really off route to India, but at least it's not arctic over there, and more land means more power base for my future empire, and more power means less worrying about the Caliph. That duchy of Moldau I got is sort of asking to get connected to the rest of my realm, and it's either that or holy warring Byzantines for it.
• Clean up Miaphysite counts in Caucasus - easy, but they provide distraction for Caliph and Byzantines, so I'm somewhat willing to let them be.
I'm not even totally sure if this is still India campaign... That's what drove chief Arslan out from his home village, but then his successors might have different ideas. I'll probably decide once I'm feudal emperor.
Ituk of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 16: 828-832
I had long truce with Khan of Khazaria, so I spent the money on upgrades instead of saving it for emperorship. Then Khazar Khan suddenly died, and I got 80% control over de jure Tartaria much faster than expected, except I couldn't afford it right away.
Supply of family members finally outran my ability to get new territory fast enough.
Anyway, it was time to rethink the strategy. Tengri religion, even reformed, has no future. I can't expand North/West due to atrocious levels of attrition, I can't expand South because Byzantine Emperor and Caliph are both too strong, and expansion to India is cute, but Caliph will probably holy war me and cut my realm in half - steppe part and Indian part.
Until recently it was not really possible to do anything about it, as Ituk of Ili was zealous, but teaching his son Sircan and his cynicism made Ituk realize that zealotry leads nowhere.
Maybe it's time to preempt all this and convert already? My options are:
• Sunni - the can't beat them, join them option - I'm still not convinced if sudden decadence Caliph got is a real problem, or just a glitch - right now it looks like the most powerful way to go. With +25% jizya tax in infidel provinces, and (from 0 decadence I assume I'm getting) +20% demesne income and +50% demesne troops morale - in pretty much the entire realm as my family holds most of it it gets even better. It would change me from Elective Gavelkind to Open succession, which means no more realm split.
• Orthodox - can't beat the Caliph? get help from Byzantine Emperor - sadly most special features of Orthodoxy are only enabled for Greek culture or even only Byzantine empire (or restored Roman empire) - if only there was any guarantee that Byzantines will even help, or that we'll succeed against Caliph even 2-vs-1
• Catholic - Francia is hypothetically another great power, but they're simply too far to do anything against the Caliph - it would protect me from at least Byzantine holy wars, and maybe I could get diplomatic alliance with Byzantine emperor? It will be long time until holy orders and crusades start, and I'm not sure if access to papacy is a good or bad thing on net.
• Hindu - caste system sounds horrible, as far as I can tell every character will have to change caste on their own. Politically India is ruled by mostly Hindu rulers, so they might come to my rescue.
• Jain - it might be fine for slow games, but right now I need to expand fast to protect myself from the Caliph
• Buddhist - that's probably best Indian religion to switch to, but other than duke of Kabulistan there aren't any Buddhist countries which could help me against the Caliph - Buddhist Maharaja of Bengal has some power, but Bengal is far away
• Slavic/Suomenusko/Romuva - if I could have enough time to convert my lands and get pagan homeland modifier, it would be sweet, but other than that, it's only good for migrating West and abandoning plan India completely. Long term that keeps me invasion CB, but the only countries I can invade are too powerful.
• Norse - that's extreme version of migrating West hard, Norse is a way better religion that Slavic/Suomenusko too. Norse invasion of India is actually quite reasonable, as India has great rivers which are made for raiding, and I'd be keeping invasion CB. Downside is that it doesn't help with Caliph problem at all.
• Zunist/Zoroastrian/Miaphysite/Jewish/(various minor heresies) - political dead ends right now
• Remain Tengri - any kind of change will inevitably result in major realm stability problems, at least temporarily - getting into this just after succession crisis does not sound like winning strategy. I might lose some territory to the Caliph, but then Caliph might get lazy and not attack, and even if I do, that's one duchy at a time - long way to go until it's really threatening.
As far as I see it right now most promising options are Sunni, Orthodox, and Norse. Going Muslim, Christian, or Zoroastrian gives me access to Jewish moneylenders so instant emperor title - or emergency money for mercs to prevent realm from falling apart during religious transition.
Ituk of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 17: 832: Playing CK2 is like debugging C++
I hate it when I plot a brilliant strategy, then I look at the files, and it turns out it's not even going to work.
So the plan was to choose new religion! Candidates being Norse, Slavic, Orthodox, Catholic, Sunni, and Buddhist.
Norse and Slavic being unreformed Pagans would have big disadvantage that I wouldn't be able to demand that my vassals convert, but I can revoke all non-dynastic vassals anyway thanks to medium tribal organization, and I could work around it by reforming them as well, and then ask my family to convert too, so not a huge deal.
Unfortunately, the first problem - convert to spouse/concubine religion only works for Pagan switching to non-Pagan, so I can't go Norse or Slavic that easily. Even worse, this means any decision I make is going to be harder to revert than simply getting a new wife/concubine and paying some prestige or piety.
Second problem - the biggest benefit of going Sunni, Caliph losing duchy level holy war CB on me, yeah that's not going to work as Caliph has special kingdom-level subjugation CB on every independent Muslim ruler, so it would get even worse. Or actually it wouldn't get worse - Caliph also already has kingdom-level jihad and invasion CBs on me anyway in addition to duchy-level holy war I was worried about. Not good. On the other hand Caliph is going to like me a lot more if I convert, so maybe he'll go fight someone else?
And third problem - I won't even have "convert to attacker's religion" option, as that's only available to unreformed Pagans, but it's not a huge deal, as there are some Sunni and Orthodox concubines available (only ones with Pagan or Indian lieges works - no-concubine-religion lieges won't send you a girl as concubine).
And fourth problem - if Caliph holy wars me and I convert to Sunni (via concubine), the war ends inconclusively - but unfortunately I won't be getting 10 year truce this way, so he could attack me again basically the next day. Still, AI is fairly random, so he might decide to go somewhere else, or maybe even die and let his son inherit the Caliphate.
Anyway, back to religions. Orthodox vs Catholic is easy choice - Catholic means losing half (or worse) of bishop money to the Pope and much lower chance of Byzantine Emperor helping me defend against the Caliph, so it's basically strictly worse than Orthodox. At some point Catholics get crusades, and tons of holy orders, so they won't always suck that hard, but it's going to take very long time.
Going Buddhist is cute, as it gives me +4 learning, removes short reign penalty, and unlocks all Rajas of India content, but it doesn't help me with money, doesn't help me with alliances against the Caliph, and CBs are awful - even holy war goes down to county-level only.
And ignoring the issue of Caliph-safety, Sunni is simply best religion in game, especially if decadence is really trending hard towards 0% like I assume it is.
So that leaves me with:
• Go Orthodox right away, ally Byzantine Emperor, hope he'll help me defend against the Caliph
• Wait for Caliph to attack, go Sunni if that happens
• Go Sunni right away
• Go Sunni, swear allegiance to the Caliph, try to undermine him from within (pretty much no way that's going to work at my size)
• Remain Tengri, use super cheesy trick I haven't tested yet, but which might just work, get 30k+ army, invade the damn Caliph, and solve this problem once and for all.
More in next episode. I want to test the damn cheesy trick before I continue.
Ituk of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 18: 832-836: Civil Jihad
It turns out the game explicitly checks for cheesy trick I wanted to use for infinite money and prestige, so that's not going to happen. Damn.
Oh well, absolute tribal authority, divorce my old wife, send away all concubines as incompatible with my new religion, convert to Muslim, get new set of wives including Caliph's daughter, betroth my daughter to Caliph's son, and revoke infidel titles left and right, starting civil war to get this realm in order. Oh and also borrow some money from the Jews, kick them out because they're Jews, and use the Jew gold to crown myself emperor of Tartaria.
Some fighting later - and that includes a lot of totally provoked revolts so my vassals would love me due to +350 crushed 14 major revolts modifier - all my landed vassals are my family (one is non-dynastic nephew, due to matrilinearity misclick, but I'll let that pass). They're also all Sunni except my underage sons who will eventually convert as well. There are no top level foreigners as well - it's all Karluk. The exception is Tengri high priest who's Khazar Tengri and nondynastic, but he's landless even as my vassal.
My army is much smaller than it used to be as instead of major tribal allies I can only call in small vassal levy, and instead of +30% Tengri levy modifier we all have -25% wrong religion penalty (well, not all the land was Tengri, so half of it had that already). Even with vassals all entertained up to +100 by tales of "major revolts" I can only raise 8k soldiers - not impressive.
Caliph is fighting Byzantine Emperor, who's totally screwed this time - with two separate Byzantine revolts at the same time as if that wasn't enough.
I got decadence from 25% to 8% in four years without doing anything unusual, demonstrating pretty clearly that Muslims are OP as hell this patch.
Granting land to dynasty members reduces decadence, taking land from dynasty members doesn't, so infinite away if you ever find yourself in decadence problems, but realistically it will be at 0% even without it - I simply got rid of all non-dynastic rulers, and put family members in charge.
Unfortunately Muslim open inheritance merges instead of splitting titles, so now one of my nephews is 4-duke, and another is a 3-duke. They love my stories how I crushed all those scary mayors, so they love me, but it might be awkward on inheritance. Apparently as Muslim I can revoke duchies at will (except of course target will -80 me for that)... Seriously? Like they're not OP enough. I should probably do that to avoid succession mess.
Ituk of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 19: 836-852: Settling Down
I finally figured out how to get basically infinite money and prestige, but the method involves insane number of clicks (all easier versions have been closed one by one), so I did it a few times just to try, got maybe 100 gold out of it, and gave it a break.
I finally got 11 boats so I could raid Byzantines freely with some tribal armies - with another stack of tribal armies raiding Kabulistan. Loads of money and prestige to be had this way.
Byzantine Emperor is now Sunni too, he totally realizes how broken they are this patch. He got his decadence down to 5%, mine is 0%, Caliph went from 38% to 0% too, all really quickly.
I holy warred Aghbania, took 3 castles there (2 well upgraded, 1 former tribal holding barely turned into a castle) for myself, gave one of my tribal high chiefdoms to a son, and I went feudal!
This was instantly really poor idea:
• I can no longer raid anyone (I had no idea, I naively thought they gave everyone raiding, as Norse feudals can raid just fine)
• For a while I only had 1 castle with decent levy - other than that I had 3 newly conquered castles (which won't give much levy for a few years), 3 tribes (I wanted their buildings to finish, so they stayed tribal for a couple more years). Even after upgrades levy refills from basically 0 since tribes and castles have different levy type.
• I can no longer raise tribal armies, or event troops - at least I get to keep what I got until I'm at peace (which won't be anytime soon).
Some Karluk kinsman inherited a duchy, so I wanted to revoke it - but I had no army, so I tried to assassinate him instead - it got me dishonorable, but somehow not kinslayer on top of that. His son revolted anyway, so I have at least one +25 crushed major revolt.
All the old "crushed major revolt" modifiers wore off, and I had massive penalty for raising crown laws for a while (that wears off fast at least), as well as dishonorable, wrong holding type, and basically everyone hated me, and I had no troops to keep everything under control.
And of course tons of religious rebels spawned all at once on opposite ends of the realm. It took me a long while to get this all together.
Pretty much the only upside of all this is that I'm making crazy amounts of money, crazy at least by standards of what I used to make - 190/year (compared with previous 45 or so) and I hope to double that by getting better castles.
The big question is - do I want to keep my capital where it is, or move it. In old patches moving it would be obvious choice, as out of 7 counties I hold only 2 in Aghbania are decently upgraded, and even they are in de jure Byzantine Empire, so not the best place to be. On the other hand vassal levies are now ridiculously based on where capital is - not even your primary title like sanity would demand, so moving it out would improve my levy at cost of losing a lot of vassal levy.
With 4/5 emperors Sunni, it's pretty clear which religion won. I'm 65 so I probably won't live long - I should designate successor, but to be honest all of my sons are mediocre, except for one total imbecile.
All the minor countries between me, Byzantine Empire, and Caliph have been divided, so the only directions of expansion are towards India (with only CB being duchy-level holy war, and fighting holy orders every time) and towards high attrition Pagans.
House of Ili has 117 living members and higher prestige than even Karlings, so I don't think I'm ever going to need to give titles to non-dynastic people again.
About half of high chiefs upgraded their capital holding to castle, but they still have almost all tribal vassals, so realm is very far from losing its tribal character. Most of it doesn't even have technology (castle infrastructure 1) necessary to fully upgrade hillforts. I'd assume it's going to become mostly feudal by year 900, but then I might expand further into Pagan territory if India turns out too hostile.
Ituk of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 20: 852: The End and post-campaign notes
I thought about it a bit, and I think it's time to stop this campaign, even thought the big plan to get to India failed miserably, and I'm not even bordering India (I'd need one more holy war for one remaining duchy in Afghanistan to even border de jure Punjab).
I wanted to do two things in one campaign - tribal/feudalization stuff and India/Buddhist/Jain stuff, and it seemed totally doable. Tribal/feudalization part went pretty well - new mechanics to explore, new kinds of problems to overcome and so on. Loads of fun to be had.
Unfortunately between non-Norse tribals being ridiculously weak, Abbasids next to me being ridiculously OP, Indians having access to holy orders stronger than all tribal armies of the steppes combined (sensible design decision to avoid them getting curbstomped by Abbassids, but sucks if you're not Abbassids), and 2/3 of my time being spent fighting civil wars and rebellions (there weren't even that many, travel time was just so ridiculously long), India kept getting delayed and delayed.
I finally reached the point where I can invade India - but I'd be doing it as feudal Muslim ruler with zero special CBs (I misread the files and thought I'd keep them as non-Pagan, oh well), totally generic and pretty much the opposite of what I wanted.
And so India will have to wait for another campaign. I keep returning to Paradox games, so it will happen sooner or later. For that matter I played as EU3 Vijayanagar, EU3 Orissa, EU4 Dai Viet, and EU4 Timurids (into Mughals into Byzantium), where India played very prominent role, as well as quite a few campaign where it was secondary theater of operations.
I wrote what I think about new mechanics already, and I don't have that much to add. The game is just ridiculously unbalanced - it feels like it might be the least balanced patch so far, but then I'm contrasting the most OP option (Abbasids) with the most nerfed option (non-Norse tribals with no nearby settled people to raid, and very high travel time - they're nearly as bad as Africans), if you're playing Catholic or Norse game it might be just fine-ish.
Once upon a time the feudal system of the game made sense - city vassals provided taxes, feudal vassals provided levies (based on how much they liked you), temple vassals something in between. After levy nerfs, feudal vassals are nearly pointless - kingdom's worth of feudal vassals provides less levy than your demesne, even if they totally love you.
I mean literally, 134-holding kingdom of Lombardy, 5th largest country on the map - controlling Italy, half of Sicily, and big parts of Bavaria, gets 4.2k levy from vassals, 2.4k levy from own 5-holding demesne (of 7 max), as well as 1.3k retinue. The nerfs have gone way too far.
And so the game cut max demesne size, prevented you from having large demesne by harsher penalties with each patch, prevented you from having more temple/city vassals by arbitrary 10%-of-your-realm limit, nerfed mercs and now also retinues you could use to work around that, banned you from giving titles to your successor in case you wanted smooth succession, and is generally being an asshole. It started with "HRE too strong, please nerf" and step by step it descended into current mess that's far worse than the original design, and contains just so many dumb penalties and arbitrary limitations.
The biggest derail along the way were probably temporary revolt titles. That managed to somehow nerf revolts, so people are afraid of random adventurers and rebels instead of unhappy vassals and claimant brothers these days.
Anyway, I'm not even entirely sure how I'd fix it with simple tweaks. Some obvious ideas:
• Reduce wrong holding type penalties from ridiculously high 75% on both tax and levy to something reasonable, at least for tribal/feudal.
• If decadence can't be fixed, just remove decadence bonuses/penalties completely.
• Give tribal troop upkeep discounts, as they're too poor for even own levies.
But they honestly just won't do enough. The whole pile of arbitrary nerfs and limitations the game got over time needs dismantling.
It doesn't mean the game is unplayable - plenty of people enjoy it as an RPG / dating simulator, and seriously unbalanced strategy games can be perfectly enjoyable. I just feel I'm done with it for now. Maybe I'll play some mods instead.
Anyway, here's a small bonus, some exploits.
How to farm infinite gold/prestige:
• Own county as part of your demesne, with city inside. (it doesn't have to be city, but you get a lot less money per iteration otherwise)
• Grant city to infidel - just make sure not the same one as last time.
• Grant independence to that infidel.
• Attack with county claim, with your levies/retinues/event troops/etc. sitting on the province.
• First time it will take a while to siege that down, that's totally fine.
• Once you win the war, enforce demands, repeat - this time since garrison has 0 troops (it got conquered today), it will take just 1 day to win the war.
• Every time you sack it you get loot money (sadly only 30% due to new administration modifier, so about 14 gold a day from mid-wealthy city), and 50 prestige from winning a war.
• It's a lot of clicking. I find it too tedious. Easier versions used to be possible, but they closed them. (I don't even mind that)
• And don't accidentally give the title to same infidel, as you'll have truce timer. You don't want that.
How to get a ton of rebellions (not infinite, just opportunistic):
• You need to be at medium crown authority or medium tribal organization, so you have infidel revocations free
• If you happen to conquer territory with infidel rulers, do this:
• Revoke all counties so they're your demesne
• Once that's done, revoke all baronies, same day, they'll definitely all say yes
• Give all counties to someone
• Barons will notice you're not their direct liege, so they'll automatically refuse your offer, and rebel against you
• You get ten-years +25 opinion with all your vassals per revolting baron. One duchy worth of them is basically +100 opinion realmwide no matter what you do. Sadly this all expires in 10 years and any new vassals won't have it.
• This trick can be farmed - give titles to infidels, wait 1 year so you can revoke them, do everything, but usually you'll find yourself with infidel counties anyway in normal gameplay, and you might as well do this opportunistically.
• This works if you get infidel territory by claim / invasion. Holy war automatically kicks them out and gives their holdings to you.
• It's easy to accidentally do this (that's how I discovered it) - barons will always accept revocations, but they wait different time, so you might accidentally give county away before getting all barons to accept revocations.
How to change crown authority by multiple levels is one day:
• Be Muslim, so you don't need to bother with vassal votes.
• You need 2 kingdoms worth of land
• If not Muslim, get your vassals happy (see previous exploit)
• Change crown authority from 0 to 1
• Create second kingdom titles - it will start with higher level but no timer
• Change crown authority from 1 to 2 in new kingdom
• Change your primary to kingdom with highest authority, repeat until happy
• If you run out of kingdoms, destroy some and recreate them
• If you want to create empire, do that last
• That will leave you with some kingdoms at lower authority than your primary, you can leave it for your successors, or destroy and recreate those titles
• You can't destroy titles as gavelkind or elective gavelkind, but you can still go 2 levels up right away by just creating a new one.
That's all exploits I'm aware of. If you know any more, I'm always interested.