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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Let's Play Darkest of Days

I decided to add 3rd let's play series to my ongoing  Puzzle Quest as wizard Saneko (every day, 8:00 London time) and Civilization V as Korea (every day, 10:00 London time) series.

Enjoy Darkest of Days - time traveling first person shooter. Release schedule is one episode a day, 12:00 London time.

In the game we'll me traveling to both World Wars, American Civil War, ancient Rome, distant future, and many other times. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Design patterns for Ruby file format converters

Baby tiger by Diego Cambiaso from flickr (CC-SA)

It's common to write scripts to convert files from one format to another. Everybody wrote tons of utilities with interface like water_to_wine_converter source.water or somesuch. That's the easy part. Pretty much every time the next step is immediately - well, what if I want to convert whole directory of those?

I keep running into this problem over and over, and the solutions I end up writing converged to fairly similar form every time, so I thought I'll write about it.

Well, first, we're going to require pathname library. Once upon a time I used to just use Strings for file paths, but the more I use Pathname the more I like it. It lacks a bunch of methods I need often, and could definitely get better, but it's still a big improvement over using raw Strings.

I'll assume for simplicity we don't need any fancy command line argument processing, but if you do, it doesn't change the rest of the pattern.

require "pathname"

class WaterToWineConverter
  def initialize(input_path, output_path)
    @input_path  = input_path
    @output_path = output_path

  # Actual code

unless ARGV.size == 2
  STDERR.puts "Converts water to wine format"
  STDERR.puts "Usage #{$0} deck.water"
  STDERR.puts "   or #{$0} water_folder/ wine_folder/"
  exit 1

input_path = Pathname(ARGV[0]) output_path = Pathname(ARGV[1]), output_path).run!

So far so good. Alternatively we could pass raw Strings to constructor, and convert them to Pathname there:

require "pathname"

class WaterToWineConverter
  def initialize(input_path, output_path)
    @input_path  = Pathname(input_path)
    @output_path = Pathname(output_path)

  # Actual code

unless ARGV.size == 2
  STDERR.puts "Converts water to wine format"
  STDERR.puts "Usage #{$0} deck.water"
  STDERR.puts "   or #{$0} water_folder/ wine_folder/"
  exit 1
end[0], ARGV[1]).run!

You might even do both just for extra robustness - passing Pathname object to Pathname() constructor works just fine.

Use of Pathname is usually a matter of preference, but in this case it's part of the pattern.

Well, let's write the #run! method:

class WaterToWineConverter
  def run!
      @input_path.find do |source_path|
        next if
        target_path = map_path(source_path)
        next if target_path.exist?
        convert!(source_path, target_path)
      convert!(@input_path, @output_path)

That's some nice code. If input path is a file, we just call convert! method.
If it's a directory, we use #find to find all files in input directory, use map_path to decide where the file goes, create folder to put that file if it doesn't exist yet. target_path.parent.mkpath is an extremely common pattern that frees you from ever worrying about directories existing or not. Just do that before you open any file for writing and you're good to go.
In this example we decided to next if target already exists - this is common if you're trying to synchronize two directories, let's say converting your .epubs to .mobis, and you don't want to redo this work. But just as well we could decide to overwrite or raise exception or print warning or whatever makes most sense.
convert!(source_path, target_path) is just a straightforward method that doesn't need to care about any of that - it already knows if target is safe to write, that directory to create target in has been created and so on.
Now the last remaining part of the pattern is to write #map_path(path) method. If both source and target use the same extension, it's really simple thanks to the power of Pathname:
class WaterToWineConverter
  def map_path(path)
    @output_path + path.relative_path_from(@input_path)

Unfortunately there's no such easy way if we need to change extension as well. I feel like they should add a few methods to Pathname, especially for file extension manipulation, but we'll avoid monkeypatching and do it the hard way.

Fortunately it's not too messy if we're only working with one extension type, and the somewhat ugly bit is encapsulated in one method:

class WaterToWineConverter
  def map_path(path)
    @output_path +
      path.relative_path_from(@input_path).dirname +

And that's it. It's fairly short, elegant (except for that extension changing part), and robust code that's easy to adapt to pretty much every converter's needs.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

This is now a let's play channel

I decided to get a bit more serious about let's plays. I feel going a bit deeper into something is better way to experience it.

So far I finished two series:

  • Let's Play series - Civilization 5 as Shoshone - as my first series this invariably ran into endless technical problems, and audio quality for the first 7 episodes is pretty bad, then it gets better, but I guess not that many people want to watch from the middle.
  • Let's Play Puzzle Quest as Melniel - it started fine, then I got a disk crash after two episodes, and even though I managed to get old save game file from it, reinstalled game would not accept it. Still could be somewhat entertaining, so if you run out of things to watch, why not.
And of course I ran into all kinds of silly issues, like forgetting to charge my headphones, not testing mod compatibility before starting the game, mid-game hacks, random environmental sounds, completely random publication schedule and so on. That was all fine, it was planned as experimental series.

I never got audio quality to studio quality I'd like to have, but it's decent, and video quality is very consistent 1080p with no glitches.

So now I'm starting some new series, and lessons learned, I'm going to do them much better. First two series are:
  • Let's Play Puzzle Quest as Saneko. After her older sister died in a tragic hard drive crash, Saneko continues the quest to save Bartonia from undead monsters. Scheduled for publication one episode a day, 8am London time.
  • Let's Play Civilization 5 as Korea. This is my first game at Emperor difficulty, so could be some challenging fun. Links to all mods used in description under each video. Scheduled for publication one episode a day, 10am London time.
I'm trying to have enough recorded and uploaded about one week ahead, so it never skips any episodes even if I'm too busy to record for a few days or there are issues with my internet connection. 

I want to add a couple more series to this. I'm not sure if I'm going to continue everything at one episode a day pace, or try a different schedule. I definitely don't want to go under 2 episodes a day for the rest of the year, each episode generally aiming at about 25 minutes.

I don't have any definite plans, but I'd like to record at least one series in Polish - most will obviously be in English. I'll probably make some non-gaming videos too at some point - gaming is just the most obvious thing to start with, but the video medium can be used for so many other things.

I thought about streaming, but I can't get any internet with decent upload here (2015, London, zone 3, still no way to get fibre optic, come on...), so it would be pretty awful quality - probably not even 720p. There are some games for which it's fine, but mostly I'll just record.

I don't plan to put any facecams into gameplay videos, I find them rather distracting, and there's no good place to put them anyway, as most games use all corners of the screen for relevant UI elements.

Here's the first episode of Let's Play Civilization 5 as Korea:
And the first episode of Let's Play Puzzle Quest as Saneko:

Feedback always welcome. Let's do some playing.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Let's Play Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

I quite enjoy let's plays, so I decided to start a second series after my civilization V campaign finished.

This time it's the classic game Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords.

I only recorded two episodes (full playlist here). I wanted to continue playing, but due to hardware failure I'm not sure if I'll be able to recover save files.

This series definitely has much higher silliness to gameplay ratio than Civilization V.

Regardless of my success with save game recovery, I'll definitely make more let's play videos. It's really a lot of fun, even if very few people are watching.

Another day, another hardware failure

Ziva the Maine Coon by Nicholas Erwin from flickr (CC-NC-ND)

Well, things were going far too well with just one computer death so far this year, so my gaming computer's motherboard decided to go hostile towards my SSD, -200 desiring all its provinces.

I still have no idea what the fuck. The motherboard works just fine - replacing that disk with another one worked just fine. And the disk works just fine hoo - I can literally hotswap it back where it was before after I boot any operating system, it's just that when it's plugged in during computer startup it now freezes during POST. It's crazy. I went through BIOS flashing and all the usual rituals, with no change whatsoever.

Amazingly, it's another crash with no significant data loss, just wasting a whole Sunday on trying to figure out what the fuck is going on (my expectations of disk failure would be disk not being detected, so it was pretty low on my list of hypotheses to try) and reinstalling everything. Fortunately I always keep notes of how to reinstall various operating systems, like this one here for Windows 7, which is still 90% up to date. I've seen Windows 8/8.1 and I want it about as much as I'd want a free Windows Phone.

Speaking of data loss, getting data from that old disk is still a bit awkward as I'd need to go through boot from livecd, hotswap disk, dump to some USB disk mess. It's mostly low value stuff like save games that I didn't include in backups for a good reason, but I was in the middle of some games, and it's mildly annoying.

There's also tons of software configuration that was lost - I hate how hard it is to sync Windows software configuration with cloud, except for Chrome. On Unix 90% of software can be configured with dotfiles, which are committed to git repository and then symlinked whenever I setup a new machine. I don't really have a good solution for Windows - or for that matter for the handful of Unix programs that don't use nice dotfiles. I could just keep text files with notes, or backup all their user data (including tons of irrelevant junk), or build some sophisticated configuration scripts trying to separate the relevant from irrelevant. The most annoying one that I lost is Open Broadcaster Software configuration that took a ton of tweaking to get right, and I have no recollection which numbers should go where now, with the rest I more or less remember what I need.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

As a customer I'm disappointed by how Amazon is changing

Snowball With Teeth by Property#1 from flickr (CC-NC-ND)

I'm usually a fan of Amazon, but I'm really disappointed by some of their recent changes.

Amazon UK used to have free slow delivery - which of course wasn't actually free, just included in average price. Then they increased minimum spend to £10, and recently to £20. This really interferes with my ability to go to Amazon, and press buy button for whichever gadget I need, and get it the next week or so, without thinking about it.

What's worse - that £20 spend is not on anything on the website, only on items dispatched by Amazon directly (and presumably not even all of them), so it's hard to pad the order by "well, I guess I also need some X, I might as well order it now", as for many Xs they're actually dispatched by some 3rd party.

All this is of course blatant attempt at making Amazon Prime more appealing. But I don't want Amazon Prime. It bundles:
  • something I want that used to be included in price (free slow shipping)
  • something that's a nice to have, but I really don't care about it terribly much (free next day shipping), and presumably only on items from Amazon, so I'll still be paying for shipping on half of stuff I order from Amazon website
  • Amazon Prime Instant Video service, which is just a painfully bad player with painfully limited selection of painfully low video quality - and of the few things they have almost everything needs to be paid for separately anyway. Most ridiculously after paying for Prime subscription and the video you need to pay the third time to watch it in HD. And to just rub it in, you can't download any of that to watch it on a train, or in a better video player. It's just hopeless crap.
  • There's some kind of Kindle library, which I haven't tried, but I presume selection is just as ridiculously low as for instant video. Not that it matters much, stacks of books I sort of want to read somehow keep growing endlessly anyway, I shouldn't be adding more.
  • Oh and now it includes "unlimited photo storage". Like I don't have all the photos in multiple more convenient to use clouds already.
That's not nice, Amazon. If you want to just increase prices, you can do that without doing this delivery fee nonsense. And stop trying to make Amazon Instant Video happen, it's not going to happen.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Medieval 2 Total War Concentrated Vanilla compatibility update

Pussy by tripleigrek from flickr (CC-SA)
A while ago Steam decided to do Medieval 2 update, which broke compatibility with a lot of existing mods, including Concentrated Vanilla.

It took me a while to figure out what the hell - mostly because Steam decided to simultaneously screw up my Medieval 2 installation, and only full reinstall of both the game and Steam itself, followed by then fixing the mod would work.

Fortunately it's all done now. Just grab latest zip from github. It probably won't work with non-Steam retail version - if you have that, just get older version.

And one more thing - if you try to run concentrated_vanilla.bat while Steam is off, it will run unmodded game. Make sure Steam is running before you run concentrated_vanilla.bat. Nothing I can do about that.

Enjoy the game.

Pictures from Paleo Week

As I said before, this is now a food blog. [*]

After "great success" of Vegan Week [**], I decided to go strict paleo for a week. What is paleo? Well, not even paleo people entirely agree, so I went with fairly strict version of it.

Other than massive headaches by first evening due to huge reduction in caffeine intake, it was actually surprisingly OK.

You can see all the pictures with annotations on this flickr stream. Here are just some highlights.

([*] it is not actually a food block)
([**] where by "great success" I mean "no stray dogs were harmed")

Meat with fruit

During my first "pics or never happened" times, I tried meat with rice and clementines in place of usual vegetables. I don't even remember why I did it, but I never looked back. Distinction between fruit and vegetables is an illusion that keeps humanity enslaved to the Matrix, or something like that.

Now, paleos can't agree if white rice is paleo or not, but for purpose of experiment I decided to be fairly strict. 

It's actually pretty good, with grapes:
Oranges and bananas:
Later I even tried it with strawberries, and it was also pretty decent. Don't believe fruit and vegetables are different in any way.

Mean with vegetables

I didn't want to eat fruit with every meal, so I also had meat with steamed vegetables:

 It's really pretty good:

And raw salad style vegetables:
 And salads with both fruit (apples) and vegetables:


I didn't eat just meat, I ate loads of eggs as well. Both scrambled:
 And in a salad:


I had some kind of fruit with about half of the meals, either on its own or with something else.

I really like how nowadays it's possible to buy precut mixed fruit in any supermarket:
 Or just grab random fruit and eat it:


I didn't feel that raisins would fit strict paleo, but nuts, almonds, and honey should, so I had some of that as well:

Coffee with honey

Plain green tea is generally considered paleo, so I had a lot of that, but every now and then one needs something stronger.

Milk is definitely banned in paleo (well, I guess human milk would be allowed, but let's not get there), and most fakemilks are probably as well - not to mention when I tried drinking coffee with almond fakemilk it was really disgusting.

Fortunately coffee with honey was tolerable enough.

The end

The week was quite fun, and it didn't have any serious side effects. I didn't feel like I had to have chocolate or ice cream or whatever else was not allowed, the way I really missed meat while trying the vegan thing.

The food was somewhat more boring than I'd normally eat, and trying strict paleo for longer I'd probably miss it, but a week was just fine.

I'm sure I'll try other things for a week in the future.

EU4 Casual Dutch Trade Game AAR

Post 1 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-15 14:24:56 UTC

Casual Dutch Trade Game: Part 01: 1444-1451

I keep claiming every time that this game will be totally casual, but that never happens, I always end up accidentally blobbing like crazy. Let's give it another go - starting as 2 province minor under PU of one of the biggest blobs in Europe - Holland. With abysmally bad Dutch ideas.

The goal of the campaign is becoming king of Netherlands and getting dominant position in English Channel end node, maybe playing a bit with El Dorado and Protestant stuff.

If I end up conquering India, having 5+ CNs and every province in every end node, that will be a definite proof that I can't play this casually.

Well, first order of business sending a diplomat to claim Antwerpen, and getting support for our independence from Burgundy's rivals - France, England, and Austria. That gave our country 231% liberty desire, sadly capped at 100% for display reasons as it would be funnier to leave it like that.

Burgundy got allies of Brittany, and Trier. I had to pull the trigger as soon as possible even with silly 2k army as otherwise Burgundy would get more allies, and it would be just a lot more painful.

I peaced out Brittany for separately for some petty cash, then in main peace deal I got independence, money, and all lands of Flanders. And wow, the points are real. With one claim that's 159 bird mana in peace deal and 525 paper mana to core.

England was instantly -76 butthurt that they didn't get Picardie in this. Not only is this number absolutely ridiculous, I'd paying bird mana cost if I gave it to them instead of taking land for myself.

I thought about going to some pointless war so emperor would not bother me about illegal HRE land (not sure if they changed it), but pope attacked Tuscany, and Austria called me into war anyway. That's good. War won, Austria and France - who are best buddies forever this time - both went from defensive to friendly.

I got some silly allies like Pomerania and Cleves just for early protection, and Pomerania decided to attack Brandenburg, allied with Poland/Lithuania. Yeah, bad idea, but I'll join. Obviously they lost.

I got coalition against me of Utrecht, Oldenburg, Baden, Nassau, and Hansa. I think I got more AE from just fabricating a bunch of claims than I got from taking all of Flanders. Did they change that recently?

Well, time to break the coalition. Let's say by attacking Friesland, allied with Hansa. Friesland got vassalized and humiliated, Hansa is paying me reparations, Oldenburg left coalition on their own. And now I'm at +66 PP, so the points are rolling in!

It's been fun times, and my truce with Burgundy expired. Sadly I don't have CB against Burgundy, only against thein junion PU partner Brabant, so no free PP from declaring that war, and France which turned defensive might not join. It's still a good idea to attack them right away to prevent them from joining any coalitions.

As for patch features:

Movement lock is as fucking infuriating as I expected it to be. Of course not possible to mod the hell out of the game. If army is movement locked, and then gets into battle in province it was trying to leave, it will keep trying to leave the province after the battle as well.

There's a bug that breaks popup and pause when fleet arrives - you get that every time your fleet patrolling trade goes anywhere. That will make fighting naval wars take much more micro.

Achievements this episode:

• That's a Grand Army
• Until death do us apart
• Victorious!
• That is mine!
• Brothers in Arms

Let's get this going.

Casual trade game as 2 province minor

Post 2 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-16 00:29:38 UTC

Casual Dutch Trade Game: Part 02: 1451-1465

I won a quick war against Burgandy and friends, but with coalition against me getting ridiculous already, I just got tons of PP (146 before cap) and a bunch of gold.

Even then I was target of coalition of Alsace, Provence, Aachen, Baden, Brandenburg, Frankfurt, Hesse, Mecklenburg, Munster (German), Oldenburg, Trier, Savoy, Gelre, Liege, Utrecht, and the Hansa.

16 countries are too many, so I went over my relations limit to get alliances with: Austria, France, England, Poland, Milan, Pomerania, Cleves, Pope, and vassal Friesland to counter that, and tried to improve relations with more peripheral coalition members.

I actually pressed development button a few times - I had three development 19 provinces, so I spent a bunch of sword mana to get them to 20 while gaining manpower, and building slot in each. Then I built some temples with all the money I got from my wars. Then emperor passed first reform giving -5% discount on build cost and development cost, so I could have saved like 25 gold and 7 sword mana if I just waited a bit longer.

Cleves called me into hopeless defensive war, which I of course accepted, as some coalition members were allied with enemy, and truces are always nice. And instantly there was infestation of enemy stacks. Two forts I had did absolutely nothing - enemies could directly access my every province even if they couldn't go from one to another always. The whole system is just crap.

AI was amazingly incompetent. I was just chilling in my territory, and it had siege of Cleves nearly won multiple times, and every single time it abandoned it to go join some silly battle. Of course I couldn't counterattack as we had 25k vs theirs 40k, which are decent odds except AI wouldn't attach to me, and my own army of 12k was just nowhere near enough.

I got regency for 5 year old princess, so there's no chance of any expansion until 1569 or so. And sadly Austria lost imperial throne to Bohemia, so my alliance here got a lot weaker - and with me taking side of Bohemia's two rivals Poland and Austria there was no point trying to get another with Bohemia, it's a miracle that France and England somehow managed not to go to war yet.

Well, let's continue Cleves's dumb war. Enemy AI was dumb as fuck, it wouldn't let me white peace out, and it wouldn't take sit long enough in Cleves to take it. It had 0 warscore against me, which by rules of the game as applied to me means they can't request any concessions, but AI cheats, so it asked for reparations, which I was not willing to give. And they apparently removed Concede Defeat option, which was a decent workaround for AI stubbornness.

AI eventually took Antwerpen, and started spamming me stability reducing offers, which I cancelled by consoled because it's dumb nonsense with separate rules for AI and for players.

This retarded war ended up with Cleves paying Mainz reparations, and me losing nothing, just as I asked for over and over before (and what AI agreed to with all AI participants like Gelre just fine, beacuse they were at 0 individual warscore for years). Too bad, because I almost sieged through Mainz's capital, and I'd have 100% warscore against them. Warscore system, dumb at is always was, got huge deal worse in this patch somehow.

Anyway, coalition against me more or less fell apart, but there's still quite a bit of AE left so it could resume if I start expanding again.

I took exploration ideas and just recruited my first explorer. With my luck I won't have anything colonizable in range. Maybe no-CB Norway as soon as Denmark's PU over them ends due to negative prestige? The same would happen with Burgundy's PU over Brabant as well, assuming I don't take Brabant for myself first.

My princess Jakoba is still 12, so a few more years without any wars. Then I might take over some Burgundian territory, or just beat them for more PP and money.

I was in top 10 countries with highest income for a while, but I fell to #14 as war reparations stopped coming (these are only known countries, in reality Ming etc. are probably way richer than that).

Achievements this episode:

• The Princess is in this Castle

Post 3 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-16 02:56:45 UTC

Casual Dutch Trade Game: Part 03: 1465-1476

It turns out absolutely nothing was in exploration range, so the whole rush was pointless.

I noticed that Brunswich got reduced to 5 development OPM with 33 development worth of cores. Well, at least one country has good sense to accept becoming my vassal. 2 relations over limit, like I care.

Cleves got into another defensive, this time against my rival German Munster, and I accepted again. This one we were actually winning, but I white peaced as soon as my duchess came of age and attacked Gelre instead.

Gelre taken for Friesland without any serious troubles. Sadly Burgundy got allied with Castile, Venice, Hansa, and generally impressive list of countries, so it was easier to attack Anhalt for Brunswick's cores, even thought it got Bohemia into the war.

Reconquest CB is just as bugged as ever, costing far more bird mana and AE than it's supposed to, so I had to wait at 100% warscore for bird mana to refill to get provinces which were supposed to cost 0 mana.

Next order of business was taking Utrecht. They were protected by The Hansa, which blobbed quite a bit, and by (German) Munster, whom I could beat up a bit for easy PP. It wasn't too bad, except for my war exhaustion going over 8 from all the attrition. That got increased by a lot this patch apparently.

Once I integrate Friesland, I'll have all the Dutch cores necessary except Breda.

I hope Bohemia passes second reform (one that gives -2 unrest now) before reformation happens - it will probably not be possible later.

I want to move my capital from Holland to much better Antwerp, but that's outside HRE, and I need +100 relations with emperor to add it. I should have done that back when Austria was the emperor, Bohemia is not too fond of me.

As I'm a duchy I'm eligible to become emperor, however with 22 year old duchess in charge, and only Austria having events that enable female emperors, that's probably not going to happen.

Poland lost its PU over Lithuania due to negative prestige. Rulers of Denmark and Burgundy are sadly still alive, as I'd just love for Brabant to become independent.

I'll probably keep diplovassalizing random OPMs. I mostly want English channel trade node, where I currently can't expand at all as its held by overly strong countries, and CoTs in nearby nodes like Bremen, Cologne, Lubeck etc. to feed my end node. And I need to unify all lands of Dutch, Flemish, and Walloon cultures. Beyond that, I'll need to blob a bit in the region just for sake of manpower and forcelimit, but i don't have any major expansion plans - Brunswick was just pure opportunism.

Achievements this episode:

• Seriously?!

Always ally baguette

Post 4 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-16 19:12:23 UTC

Casual Dutch Trade Game: Part 04: 1476-1487

Idea groups I want the most now are diplomatic and maybe trade, but I'm suffering from severe shortages of bird mana, and relative abundance of paper mana, and I'll want religious by the time reformation hits anyway, so that's going to be the next group. Sword mana is going to be used mostly for development.

So the plan is probably exploration, religious, diplomatic, expansion, trade, humanist - or something like that. Before they split diplomatic/influence and religious/humanist, it was actually reasonable to take some military ideas, nowadays it's just silly.

I got into another war with Burgundy. Forcing them to braek relations with Castile, Venice, and Hansa and to give me Breda.

Next target was my somehow-still-rival (German) Munster. I really need to setup my keyboard so it has umlauts, it's annoying to switch layouts just to type it, but then if I remove them from the map that will also solve this problem.

The game eventually figured out that my rivals are a bit silly, and I had to switch to Burgundy, Scotland, and the Hansa.

I got Waldensian rebels twice my force limit... That was really painful, as they stick together and reinforce now, and I don't have infinite time if I don't want my provinces to randomly fall to rebels.

With half my army dead, I decided to attack Burgundy again anyway, taking just two provinces, but a coalition already started as soon as I lost half my army to rebels.

Coalition ended up being: Alsace, Baden, Frankfurt, Oldenburg, Wurttemberg, the Hansa, Hesse, (German) Munster, Aachen.

It wasn't just AE, I tried to keep relations with other HRE members reasonably high so they wouldn't join even at fairly high AE, but "Unlawful Territory" and "Annexed a member of the Holy Roman Empire" penalties on top of AE. It was not too great.

By the way I find it really silly that "Annexed a member of the Holy Roman Empire" is a massive penalty you get for diploannexing HRE member, but for annexing by force? Who cares.

But none of that HRE stuff is terribly important. Northern part of Burgundy, half of Hansa, and a few OPMs to connect all that is about the extent of my territorial ambitions in HRE, and it's not that urgent.

I finally got bird tech 7, so I can send my explorer a bit further away than before. None of that is likely to end in my range, so I'll probably need to beat Denmark and Norway for a few provinces.

France is -90 butthurt that they didn't get their claims in peace. This modifier is ridiculously large, especially when these are just claims not cores. With base decay -1/year and no time limit France will remain butthurt over this until 1562 or so. It was already stupid high, and they probably forgot to rescale it when changing from base tax to development. England is still -24 butthurt over not getting Picardie in my independence war - that's totally ridiculous.

I really need to tone this nonsense down a good bit.

Hopefully Bohemia will pass 2nd reform and then lose elections to Austria or someone before IA starts going down due to reformation and loss of Italy by events.

Achievements this episode:

• For the Glory
• True Catholic

Anti-coalition units

Netherlands nearly unified

Post 5 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-16 21:40:55 UTC

Casual Dutch Trade Game: Part 05: 1487-1497

I modded "Not given occupied cores and claims in the peace" modifier to reasonable levels, but it doesn't apply retroactively, so if France decided to break our alliance based on that, well, happens. It's still a miracle that I more or less single handedly ensured peace between France and England in the Hundred Years War by keeping them both busy fighting Burgundy every 5 years or so.

Bohemia passed second reform, which is more or less how far I want them to go. Reforms 3-4 are I don't care if they pass or not - they are positive, but bonuses are much smaller than for the first two. Reforms 5+ cannot be allowed to happen of course. Right after that kingdom of Italy left HRE by magic event.

I finally discovered some colonizable land - if you can call Greenland colonizable - but it was outside my range, so it was time to start some hopping. Denmark got reduced to OPM with almost no development, so I took it. That's pretty much useless land and not closer to the new world, but at least I can fabricate on Norway from there.

Milan called me into its offensive war againsh Savoy, which I accepted and even helped them with some of Savoy's OPM allies, but then right after the war they broke our alliance. Seriously AI? I hope France conquers you now that you're no longer in HRE. I allied Hungary instead.

I got into another quick war against Burgundy - just returning cores for my vassal Hainaut. I need such small wars just to make sure potential coalition doesn't expire their truces all at once.

Then I got into much more important business - war with Norway. They were allied with (Irish) Munster, which I conquered in this war (not cobeligerent, they were allied with Castile etc.). I also took land in Norway, and all the North Sae islands I could get. With all that, I have a chance to finally colonize something.

It's really nice that I don't have to siege random islands with no castles any more. Unfortunately from what I've seen in AI only games, AI will spam top level forts on completely worthless islands and bankrupt itself rather than just let this mechanic work.

My heir died in a hunting accident, so game thretens me with PU under France. That would be bad, as France is still much stronger than me, and I don't think many countries would help me with this. Then I got another Jakoba von Genf female heir by event. Is this like the only Dutch female name in game files? That's exactly what my previous duchess was named. The current ruler is duke Eberhard. All that pretty definitely tells me I shouldn't be even trying to get HRE throne.

I sent a conquistador to look for 7 cities of gold, he got murdered by first event, and all my troops exiled, so I had to send ships to unexile them. The second one is still ongoing - and my first colony on St. Martin is finally about to get established.

I think it's time to turn away from the HRE - I just need to complete the mission to take the rest of Dutch lands from Burgundy. Afterwards I'd like to force vassalize Scotland, which will put me on inevitable collision course against England. If I could convince France that they can take Gascony and Normandy while I take Britain, that would be sweet. There's of course this inconvenient problem that England has much stronger army and navy than me, but if I make ticking wargoal something like Calais, England will won't be able to do anything about it.

A few things really keep me in HRE: I still want north Burgundy (and they're in HRE), I even more want Hansa's CoT provinces, and I don't mind bonuses from first two reforms. I'll be able to press the button to leave HRE and form kingdom of Netherlands by paper tech 10, in a bit over 20 years. I probably won't do that right away.

And there's still the issue of league wars. This clusterfuck is going to be more entertaining from within than from the outside.

Achievements this episode:

• Cold War

Political situation

Inevitable loss of England as ally is going to hurt

Just some explorers, conquistadors, and location of future colony

Post 6 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-17 19:29:34 UTC

Casual Dutch Trade Game: Part 06: 1497-1506

So I did some off-campaign testing how new force limits work, and the conclusions are:

• tooltip lies (wow, really?)
• tooltip claims local autonomy doesn't affect force limit - but it definitely does
• local autonomy affects force limit from buildings and province modifiers (like center of trade)
• and even that doesn't add up, and number is 1 lower than it should be sometimes. It's most likely bad floating point calculations, followed by rounding down, so 10 is miscalculated as 9.999999, then rounded down to 9.

That makes my plan to just spam force limit buildings in worthless provinces I got from Norway not work, and I wouldn't mind some extra naval force limit .

Weirdly after patch all other building types giving tax, production, and manpower bonuses ignore local autonomy, as their bonuses are additive. It's just the reverso of how it used to be. These bonuses are proportional to development, so in low development high autonomy provinces it's pointless to build anything.

The only building that sort of works in such provinces are shipyards, but even additive +75% slower shipbuilding added to -50% faster shipbuilding is just not very good compared with just building some ships in your core provinces.

And all that is relevant, as I'd like to challenge England on sea without having to spam heavy ships.

I got into another war with Burgundy, and it's really annoying to not be able to just take whichever territory I want - all of North Burgundy would fit 100% warscore, but it would create coaliton up to Aragon and Venice, and probably antagonize both England and France.

In theory this means that AE is probably decently calibrated, as it feels somewhat excessive for small HRE state, and small HRE states have all AE penalties stacked against them. So presumably for everybody else on the map it's more or less OK.

Well, there's land a lot more interesting than HRE - Great Britain. Sadly England did not join - they had "-250 accepting would destabilize England" penalty, probably because they offered military access to Scotland, which is all nonsense but what can I do.

Of course England instantly went into hater mode and broke our alliance. Fortunately that at least made France like me a bit more, and England did not have enough AE to join the damn coalition.

Coalition is somewhat nasty: Alsace, Burgundy, Aachen, Frankfurt, Hesse, Cologne, Luneburg, Mainz, (German) Munster, Oldenburg, the Palatinate, Trier, Ulm, Wurttemberg, Nuremberg, Memmingen, and the Hansa. And there's a lot more countries that might join in the future - there are like three countries in HRE with less than -30 AE against me. If I stop expanding now, and keep max prestige, PP, and better relations over time advisor, all that AE should disappear by 1547. How cool is that?

I decided to leave my colony unprotected, choosing trade option, which supposedly reduced native attacks by a lot, but that was just bullshit, I got two attack almost immediately one after another. I mostly hate how AI cheats that and there's no way to turn off thin cheating.

I've built some castles - in Friesland and Artesië (I need to figure out how to English all names, there's option for that in menu but it's a lie), in addition to castles in Utrecht, Limburg, and Antwerpen. The one in my capital Holland is useless, but I can't delete it as long as that's my capital, and I can't get my relations with emperor to +100 to add Antwerpen to HRE and move my capital there.

HRE electors are split between Bohemia and Saxony about evenly. My best buddies Austria are sadly not in this competition. Catholicism reform desire is at just 69.3%, which seems slower than usual.

I'm tempted to just attack England under some flimsy pretext like Scottish claim to Ulster, then take London without a claim.

I just got to 301 development - actually I pressed development button a lot more times than I expected, every time with sword mana of course, so I could become a king even without my special decision. I still want a few things in HRE:

• North parts of Burgundy, but that's a bad idea as it would antagonize France, and after loss of England I can't afford that
• Hansa's CoT provinces, but there's whole coalition protecting them, and if I took that it would be all of Europe versus me
• A few random provinces like Oldenburg and Meppen for neater borders

Another question is - are kingdom rank and some special events worth losing -2 unrest, -5% build cost, and -5% development cost I get from membership?

By the way, I did a bit more off-campaign testing, and warfare got definitely dumbed down by a ton since 1.11. Since nobody can maneuver any more, and it's a lot faster to siege through enemy territory, big dumb stacks tend to win.

No achievements this episode.

Such tactics. Wow.

I had two uprisings in a row here

My alliances are well positioned against the coalition, but awkward against England

Post 7 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-17 23:44:31 UTC

Casual Dutch Trade Game: Part 07: 1506-1516

The priorities were getting coalition down in size (starting at 17 members, but a lot more countries at risk of joining) and making sure France loves me forever.

I was trying to chill, but Pope backed by France attacked Milan, allied with Austria and Hungary, so I had to lose some allies. I decided to drop the pope. That made me seriously tempted to pass statute in restraint of appeals, but that -60 to relations with my Catholic neighbours... Well, France mostly. I had the same problem with "long pig" event where I spent 100 bird mana to avoid -50 hit to relations with my neighbours, that is again France. I'm not sure any of these decisions were correct.

I diplovassalized what was left of Norway, and that was very little.

After waiting 5 years for coalition to hopefully fall apart (it didn't), I decided to ally Castile, going over relations limit, and declared war on England after all for Ulster. Unfortunately Austria and Hungary did not join due to -60 attitude towards enemies. I really dislike this modifier, I want Austria to keep Venice (their rival and enemy) busy, not to fight England.

Dumb Scotland could sit in their capital while English troops were sieging Lothian, but of course they decided to attack 7k vs 34k. It wasn't going too well, Portugal and Aragon together decided to ambush Castile - showing once more how worthless fort system is. Castile's forts are in Galicia, Granada, Cordoba, Castilla Le Vieja and Toledo, so that costs they 5 gold per months and yet everybody from every single direction including from the sea can go straight for their capital.

Of course none of that matters, Scotland has properly setup border fort in Lothian, and they still charge English troops for no reason.

In big naval battle against England my 1 heavy (captured from Scotland), 34 lights, and 10 transports defeated English fleet of 8 heavies 10 lights and 12 transports. Unfortunately only 19 lights and 6 tranports survived on my side, while they got still 5 heavies left afterwards. Sure, it's a victory, but not a pretty one, and with Venice, Aragon, Genoa, and Aragon on English side that wouldn't even come close to ensuring naval supremacy. At least Teutonic fleet sunk politely.

The level of AI dumb was far beyond the usual incompetent. Poland had Teutonic capital at 49%, which would kick Teutonic Order out of the war, and likely with reparations, but they decidedto break the siege to chase 1k stack five provinces away. Fuck that.

And of course I have no idea where zones or control apply and why. France successfully sieged castle in Bearn, which was sieged by Aragon/Venice doomstack. Half of that doomstack freely crossed into France, because ignoring zones of control. And then when then halfstack decided to attack my army sieging Labourd, the rest of the stack crossed directly into Labourd as well to join them. Like what's even the point of the system?

Let's be serious here - the game would be better off back to previous system. It's fucked up to the point of unplayability far beyond the usual shitty QA. If they want to try doing that properly for the next game, more power to them, but this is not even remotely acceptable.

And it's absolutely infuriating that there's no longer any option to concede defeat to separate peace random minors - like Teutons who lost their army to Poland, lost their navy to me, and were almost sieged to death except Poland broke that last moment, all other provinces automatically got unsieged, and that counted as technically 0%.

I finally got to white peace Aragon, Teutons, Genoa. Mostly because of their war exhaustion. I can't imagine how annoying vanilla must be where. Sweden returned some tiny bits of worthless land to Norway, leaving just England, with troops stuck in Ireland and my armies sieging their homeland.

That didn't quite solve the problem, as wargoal was Ulster, and England still had 39k doomstack in Ireland and no intention of disbanding that.

I moved my armies to Ireland, taking Ulster and having 97% warscore, but England would magically not allow me to take it because I didn't occupy fort in Meath. This mechanic is total bullshit.

Oh and game bugged out and wouldn't let me take Scottish claims (which were the damn wargoal) without bird mana, and I didn't have any left, and call for peace was ticking already, so I just added myself bugfix amounts of mana. Oh and I got London.

In HRE Saxony became the emperor for 6 months, then it got back to Bohemia.

Achievements this episode:

• Blockader

Anyway, the game is just a fucking mess. I have fairly low tolerance for bugs and such crap, especially for things that used to work before. I think it will be more sensible to just stop it here, just as I ended by Great Britain Extended Timeline campaign. At least that was mod that changed everything about the game, so gamebreaking bugs in that are somewhat excusable. What's going on here? I just don't care about this game any more.

The really need to fix this shit. It was buggy many times in the past, but never that much. And of course the most broken things are all impossible to mod out of the game.

The same is true about CK2 nowadays, more or less since patch 2.0 when it started getting much worse real fast, with levy nerfs, temporary rebel titles, and ridiculously winter attrition AI has no idea how to handle. And these are just basic game features, I'm not even talking about more borderline issues like non-Norse tribal gameplay, removal of assassinate button and so on.

As for other stuff, El Dorado events were fairly uninspired, cost of bleeding 1 sword mana / month for search which takes forever and barely does anything is just too much. I don't mind a bit extra fluff, but it's fluff that costs mana.

Mana is much more limited. Before the patch rest of the world was low on mana, but HRE minors were just bursting in it. Now with no more -10% tech cost for being in HRE, -5% for university (which not everybody has, but many countries do), no more +1 relation slot from embassy, a lot more bird and paper mana for expansion. Costs could really use some toning down. It's not crazy high, but it's on high end of what's still reasonable. Same with AE, it's a bit too much, and it fails a bit too slow - and now with dumbed down wars and ridiculously high bonuses for independent countries there's no good way to counter enemy numbers with better tactics.

I'll repeat it once more - with fort system in state it is, the game is just unplayable. If you want more examples - England has castle in the Marches. I'm sieging Marches. I can land from ships in St George's Channel to Glamorgan next to Marches to take the province. Armies from Marches can't go left (Gwynedd) or right (Leicestershire). It's a bit silly that sieged castle somehow magically enforces zone of control, but I'll run with it. The really dumb thing is that I can't even go back to ships which are now in Irish Sea. No, ships need to go back to St George's Channel so the troops can embark there. Like, seriously?

So unlike with every zone of control system for every game in history, this one is history-dependent. Armies in particular province can move in some directions or not depending on where they came from. And of course there's no indication whatsoever which army came from where.

And don't even get me started on that halfway through movement lock and how many dumb problems that leads to.

I hope they fix this game in future patches, and it will require some serious redesign not just a few hotfixes with tweaked numbers and a bunch of bugfixes. Right now it's just straight downgrade from 1.11.

I've done my best fixing previous problems with EU4 with mods, but I just can't do anything with this mess.

Political map

My colonies

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fun and Balance mod for EU4 1.12.1

Baby Fox by StarfireRayne from flickr (CC-NC-ND)
Fun and Balance, the one true way to play Europa Universalis IV, is now available for 1.12.1.

1.12 expansion balance math

There's been surprising amount of backlash about coring cost changes and a few other issues in latest patch. Before explaining what Fun and Balance does about it, here's some math.

In vanilla 1.11 to core 100 base tax you needed 2000 admin points, but realistically you'd have claims on that all reducing it all to 1500. 

In vanilla 1.12 on average 100 base tax worth of provinces turned into 268 development (exact numbers vary from place to place on the map). Coring that costs 2680 admin or 34% higher than before, however claims reduce it only 10% not 25% so actual cost is closer to 2412, or 61% higher than before.

Diploannexing same amount of territory changed from 1000 diplomatic points to 2144 points, or 114% more.

However now administrative efficiency applies to coring and diploannexation costs, up to -50% late game, so eventually costs are meant to go down to 1206 for coring with claims. It actually goes down even further to 1072 as efficiency is applied additively instead of multiplicatively as it was presumably meant to, which is nice for claims and coring cost reduction bonuses, but nasty for hostile coring cost increases. In either case you pay more early game, less late game, and have less need to carpet claim.

With diploannexation cost eventually goes down to 1074, just 7% higher than before.

These changes were definitely meant to slow things down, but under assumptions that players generally play the game 1444 to 1821 (or play shorter campaigns but starting from different bookmarks every time), they aren't that drastic. 

Except of course we know this assumption to be false, and as any survey will tell you vast majority of the players tend to start at earliest possible bookmark, and very rarely play all the way through. So people experience early game cost increases, never get to late game cost reductions, and are left very unhappy if this doesn't agree with their playstyle.

Note that none of this applies to Extended Timeline, where people starts at all possible bookmarks from Roman times up to present day, and there are no time limits, so slowing down the game doesn't really cause any problems.

Fun and Balance expansion balance changes

Fun and Balance leaves base coring costs as they are. Administrative efficiency is moved so you get +10% every 5 technologies - 7, 12, 17, 22, 27 instead of 25% at 23 and 27.

Development efficiency (not relevant to this discussion) is similarly spaced with +10% upgrades at 8, 13, 18, 23, 28 instead of 25% and 24 and 28.

It is similar to changes Extended Timeline already does, which needs to spread these upgrades throughout 2000 year timeline, so there are more smaller upgrades instead of just two big bonuses. Developers discussed doing in future versions of vanilla as well. (pretty much every patch a bunch of things Fun and Balance did before appears in vanilla as well - you're sort of playing future patches here)

These are minor changes. Much more important change is that Fun and Balance doubles relations limit, and goes as close to making diploannexations not cost points as it can, just as it used to. Unfortunately that's not moddable, so it does its best with 1point/development - and to make best simulation of annexations taking longer you can only start them after 20 years of vassalage, not 10.

Monarch points are also slightly easier to get in Fun and Balance as well, as it fixes a bunch of problems with rival system, which frequently prevented you from having enough rivals or flickered rivals on and off. Unfortunately there's only so much mods can do about rival system, so these fixes aren't always enough.

As result of such changes expansion in Fun and Balance should be easier in terms of monarch points impact, but more difficult due to denser defensive alliance chains. 1.12 patch's +50% extra AE for taking land from non-cobeligerents makes it even more difficult to use cheesy tactics to bypass enemy's alliance networks, making these alliance networks even stronger defensively.

Other major changes

There are now holy sites for more religions, generally based on CK2. For organized New World religions they include London and Paris if you want to play Sunset Invasion game. Holy sites are now visible as province modifiers. Extended Timeline religions corresponding to vanilla religions got holy sites too, the remaining ones will probably get them eventually as well whenever it makes sense. (the whole holy site system can be disabled from in game menu).

Achievements. The game won't allow you to get achievements in modded game, but if you feel so inclined you can enable them from in-game menu and you'll get an in-game achievement popup at next monthly tick after fulfilling achievement criteria. You can check available achievements in triggered modifiers dialog. If you want to use Steam Achievement Manager to make them "official" or turn it into a drinking game, have fun. It is disabled by default. As console and save scumming are available while playing mods, it's up to you how "legitimately" you get those popups.

You can press your subjects' holy wars and cleansing of heresy CBs without direct border to target if both you and subject have Deus Vult. You must be same religion for Cleansing of Heresy CB, but it's enough to be same religious group for Holy War CB - so for example Catholic Poland can use its march Moldavia's border with Sunni Ottomans to Holy War them. It is only fair as Ottomans could have always used Holy War CB against Poland due to their border with Moldavia.

EU3 style partial westernization feature (worse than Muslim tech to Muslim tech) mod used to have disabled by default. It can be reenabled from in game menu. I found that with Goa core event and all alternative ways to westernization it's no longer necessary, and it causes some issues mid to late game.

Other balance issues

Patch 1.12 did a lot other things like splitting Burgundy and adding very high fort costs.

For now I kept Burgundy's capital in HRE, as it used to be in older versions of Fun and Balance, as this led to better gameplay. I'm not sure if that's still true in new patch, but it seemed like a safer way, and was more historically accurate, which isn't top priority, but a decent tiebreaker in ambiguous cases.

Fort prices are kept at their vanilla values, even though evidence from AI-only games shows that they're far too high for AI which frequently spams high level forts everywhere and ends up in permanent crippling debt, with nothing left for expenses like advisors. I'm avoiding any significant tweaking, as next few patches will probably try to rebalance that. The problem doesn't seem to be fort upkeep itself - its' mainly how many useless forts AI tends to build, or keep in conquered territory.

AI would probably be better off if it got an event every now and then for any fort next to another fort asking if it wants to delete it. Such duplicate forts not at the border, or at the border but next to 2 or more other forts are really just a pointless drag on AI economics. I don't think AI ever deletes buildings normally, as before 1.12 there was never any reason to, so event like that might help a lot, but it requires more testing.

It's hard to create balance with forts which simultaneously provides interesting tradeoffs for the player (as current system mostly seems to aim for), can be competently managed by AI (which current system fails at), and doesn't involve blatant AI cheating.

Everything is optional

Changes the mod does are as independent from each other as I could make them, so it should be easy to customize the mod by selectively disabling or modifying it to get game experience you want. A few are exposed from in game menu, but don't be afraid of text editor.

Enjoy the game. Happy blobbing. Or happy not blobbing. Whichever way you want to play.

Oh, and one small thing. If anybody feels like making a nice logo for the mod for Steam Workshop, that would be nice :-)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ruby 3 should merge Strings and Symbols

my_pic211 by takenzen from flickr (CC-NC-ND)

It seems that every programming language has idiosyncratic ways to divide what everybody else considers one data type into a bunch of variants. Python has lists and tuples, Java splits everything into primitive/object versions, C++ has like a billion versions of what are essentially String and Array, every database ever made has at least twenty timestamp types, and even Ruby does that with String and Symbol.

The excuse is usually some low level optimization or finer points of semantics every other language somehow manages without, but let's be honest - pretty much none of such distinctions are worth added complexity, and somehow other languages never "see the light" and rush to copy such subtypes.

In Ruby 1.x strings were just String objects. Sure, it exposed this Symbol kinda-string thing, because Ruby generally exposes a ton of stuff it doesn't really need to, but it was just internal interpreter stuff only people who wrote C extensions needed to know about. Even metaprogramming API used String objects only. #methods and friends returned String list, #define_method could take either String or Symbol and most people just passed regular String objects. It was good.

Then suddenly people noticed Ruby has two string types, and started using both, without much logic to it. Ruby 1.9 changed some low level APIs from returning String to Symbol, which was reasonable enough, but you can still pass either just fine.

Unfortunately it only got worse as people decided that Symbol is totally awesome to be used for internal identifiers in their programs, not just for interfacing Ruby interpreter - and Ruby enabled this behaviour by adding JSON-style hash syntax (later also used for keyword arguments) - even though in JSON foo: "bar" really just means "foo" => "bar" not :foo => "bar".

That of course instantly led to memory leaks, DoS attacks, and so on, as Symbol type was never meant for anything like that. In ended up with Ruby being hacked to GC Symbols - data type originally just for low level stuff that lived forever, not for any kind of user data.

Look at any Ruby significant codebase today and you see to_s and to_sym scattered everywhere, nasty nonsense like HashWithIndifferentAccess and friends, and endless tests that miserably fail to match live behaviour because saving objects to database or JSON or whatever and loading them back (something tests often don't bother to do) transparently converts things from Symbols to Strings and they are equivalent in some contexts but not others.

Let's just stop this. As long as easy foo: "bar" syntax exists people will keep using Symbols where Strings would be more appropriate, and I'm aware you can only pry this syntax from people's cold dead hands, so this can't realistically be changed by better practices.

The only way this can be fixed is if Ruby just unifies both data types. Just like Ruby 2 made ?x mean "x", which caused some temporary issues but was great simplification, Ruby 3 should just make :foo mean "foo".freeze.

This seemingly radical unification would be surprisingly backwards compatible - String#to_sym can just return frozen copy (or itself if already frozen), and String#to_s can mean "#{self}" in all contexts. It will probably take a few performance hacks here and there to cache some kind of unique key or hash on frozen String so comparing two frozen Strings is fast, but it's conceptually simple problem, and such strings tend to be very small anyway so it's no big deal if unique key sometimes misses forcing fallback to slower comparison routine.

Only the code that relied on distinction between Strings and Symbols for things like sentinel values would be affected, but so many libraries magically convert from one string type to the other or back that I'd not recommend doing that anyway. Just bite the bullet and use sentinel objects. In any case that's like 1% of uses of Symbols.

I know status quo bias will make many people dislike this idea, but let's reverse this - if it was already working like I describe, would any sane person suggest introducing Symbol type? Of course not.

Oh and while we're on the subject of Ruby 3 wishlist, it could really get some kind of #deep_frozen_copy and #deep_unfrozen_copy, with whichever names people end up using. This however is a subject for another post.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Let's Play Civilization V as Shoshone - post-campaign retrospective

So I finished my first Let's Play campaign and I thought it's good time to have a retrospective on mods I used. It's not yet all uploaded, at my upload speeds it will take until next era for that to happen.

  • 3rd Unique Component and 4th Unique Component: Adds extra unique components to each civilization — I liked that. 3UC/4UC seem to be on fairly low power level, so there's nothing crazy, but they made civilizations a bit different. Definitely yes.
  • Capture+: Allows capturing all civilian units — I really liked how early game it hugely increased stakes with capturing settlers. Capturing great generals on the other hand, that's a bit silly. Probably yes, or something similar.
  • Caravansary Trade Routes: Adds extra trade route for each caravansery built — It makes wide empires somewhat better, it added too much busywork with trade routes for my taste. There's probably some strategy to exploit those extra trade routes hard, I just used them in most straightforward way. Probably no.
  • Civilization 5 Diplomacy Values: Displays numeric values of diplomatic modifiers — I'm not terribly familiar with how much AI cares about different things, so I definitely like that. Definitely yes.
  • Ethnic Units: Extra civilization specific textures for units — It doesn't matter, but it looked nice. Definitely yes.
  • InfoAddict: Displays more statistics — It was extremely useful, it's silly how base game. Definitely yes.
  • Less Warmonger Hate: Reduces warmonger penalties and makes them decay faster — Other civs seemed to hate me just fine in the end, and it felt reasonable mid game before I went on warmongering spree. Vanilla warmonger hate gets pretty extreme sometimes. Probably yes.
  • More Luxuries: Adds more unique luxury types — The biggest technical failure of the campaign, as I really needed this one, and it didn't actually work due to conflicts with Natural Wonder Overhaul. Definitely yes.
  • Natural Wonder Overhaul: Adds more natural wonders — It's a good idea, but it conflicts with much more important More Luxuries. Definitely no.
  • New Beliefs Pack: Adds more beliefs. — That made religion game much more interesting at no downside. Definitely yes.
  • PolicyPlus+: Rebalances social policies. — It's straight difficulty increase, as you no longer have easy access to overpowered policies, but it also makes weak policies more viable, so it's more interesting. Probably yes.
  • Promotion Melee Ranged Correction: Bugfix for some UU promotion upgrades — That applies to just a few UUs, and a few more 3UC/4UC UUs. I didn't play as any of them, so it didn't really matter, but I can't see why not. Definitely yes.
  • Scouts Ignore Borders: Lets scout units ignore borders — It was good for scouts and embarked scouts, and felt really silly for pathfinder I upgraded to composite bowmen in a goodie hut. On the other hand, how many such goodie huts you're going to find each campaign, 0-2? Quality of life is totally worth it. Probably yes.
  • Separate Great People Counters: Makes getting one kind of great person not screw up other great people. — Interface for it is really awkward, but it feels like a bugfix. Probably yes.
  • XP From forts: Units can get some XP while sitting in forts and citadels (up to cap) — I used it exactly zero times. I guess that's something I could use spare great generals for, especially to train donated city state units. It is annoyingly nerfed on epic speed (not like I used it), which I consider a mistake as such speeds are specifically for more military action, and this is already very weak. Probably yes.
  • Extended User Interface: So many UI fixes — I care about UI even more than Arumba. I should maybe make some videos for Paradox too. For Firaxis modders are doing just fine. Definitely yes.
  • Warlord happiness on higher difficulty levels — that's one thing I modded mid-game when I realized More Luxuries mod was not working. I feel it goes a bit too far maybe. I probably won't do it next time, but I might do something milder like +1 happiness for extra copy of each luxury resource beyond first.
Making this Let's Play series was a fun experience. Mistakes were made, but life is the real ironman mode. Audio quality started horrible as I tried various settings none of which worked for first 7 episodes, and ended up tolerable from episode 8 onwards, but still not quite as good as I'd like it to be.

I'm not sure yet what I'm going to let's play next, but that's definitely not my last series. If I revisit Civilization V again, I'll probably try higher difficulty level, and slightly different combination of mods.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Let's Play Civilization V as Shoshone - my first experience with Let's Plays

I've been watching tons of Let's Plays, and eventually I decided I'm going to give it a try as well.

The first series I've made is Civilization V as Shoshone. It's 25 episodes in (a few still uploading as I'm writing this), and will probably end up at 40-something.

Recording setup

I thought about streaming, but my upload speed is so awful (at most expensive BT option available) that I don't think I'd even be able to do 720p, and I really dislike watching console quality 720p, so I'm not going to inflict that on anybody else.

I tried a few things, and Open Broadcaster Software seems to be working well enough - I had to increase bitrate a lot from its default low quality settings, but video quality was very good from episode one.

Audio was a much bigger problem. I tried to record a few videos with headset microphone, and it was just awful. So instead I got this Auna MIC-900 USB microphone. And it took a lot of tweaking to get the setup right, audio quality in the first 7 or so episodes is fairly poor - first I had microphone sensitivity too high, so there was constant background noise, then volumes between microphone and different parts of in-game audio (especially ambient sounds like cows mooing etc.) were misaligned, so it was difficult to hear me at times.

I think from episode 8 onwards audio quality is fine as well. It's not super amazing, as there's some background noise like computer fans, and a few times you can hear random sounds like Hangouts message incoming beep (which I eventually figured how to turn off on all devices) or courier buzzing.

One thing I definitely don't want is any kind of facecam. I always found them horribly distracting, and usually there's not even any good place to put them, as all of screen is used for game interface.

The game

Civilization V is a game I have mixed feelings about. Then again, my feelings about games range from outride hatred to ambivalence, so that's probably good :-). I like so much of what they've done, but I was never happy about its happiness system, and how everybody felt depressed if you play anything except very tall game while prioritizing happiness over everything. There's also a bunch of minor things I wanted to change, like balancing social policy trees, and making civilizations more distinct from each other.

Fortunately Civilization V has Steam Workshop support, so it's very easy to install a bunch of mods, and I thought they'd fix all my problems. Unfortunately it turns out the mod I wanted most of all - extra luxury resources - conflicted with another mod I added, and in the end we're back to vanilla happiness mechanics I loathe. So I did what I always do, and modded the game halfway through by setting Warlord level happiness in otherwise King difficulty game. I'm not entirely sure if that was sensible or not.

Publishing videos

I haven't given that much thought. I just use my normal Youtube account (liked with my Google account), I made one playlist, and I just add videos to it as they get uploaded.

They get pretty straightforward titles, one line description, and autosuggested tags.

One thing everybody else is doing that I haven't figured out how yet is to upload a bunch of videos in advance and automatically release them once a day or so - it's really not practical for recording and publication to be in sync, especially if I want to watch the videos before publishing them.

I just use Youtube upload feature on its website, nothing fancy. Due to my horribly upload speeds, it's taking forever, but I'm not going to downgrade to 720p or do anything awful like that.

Future plans

I hope this Let's Play series is entertaining, but it's really mostly just a test to figure out all technical details. I'm not sure where to go from there. I'll definitely record a few more games - just not CK2/EU4, that takes forever, and a lot of time would be spent on alt-tabbing to spreadsheets and such.

I might record a few videos in Polish - it's weird how little I actually speak Polish these days.

One obvious thing to do is record some programming videos, but that would require a different setup, as I really don't want to program on Windows 7 machine I do gaming and recording on.

In any case, it's been tons of fun so far. I doubt any of the videos I make will ever be popular, but as long as I'm entertained and a few people watching them are entertained, it's all good.

Content ID bullshit

Oh yeah, and I already got into Content ID bullshit. Apparently 32 seconds of one 27 minute episode matches "Light Wave - Abaji" playing in the background, and that makes youtube put ads on that episode, with money to be paid to APM Music.

There's similar automatic claim on 3 other episodes for "Blackfoot Nights - Global Journey".

Fuck Youtube for this kind of bullshit. There's not one shred of proportionality here. Sadly they have sort of monopoly on internet video. Imagine if some site like let's say imgur had similar level of power over internet images, and Content ID'd them and then put ads on the images. It's not anywhere remotely reasonable, but monopoly is monopoly and we can't do anything about it, other than turn off all in-game music (which is already paid for when purchasing the game).

Friday, June 05, 2015

CK2 CrusaderPop AAR

Post 1 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-26 16:30:51 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 01: 1066-1068: Duchess Matilda of Tuscany

I said in my HuniePop review that I never played any other dating sims. That's not entirely true - CK2 is dating sim / grand strategy hybrid just as HuniePop is dating sim / Puzzle Quest hybrid.

CK2 tries to be a game about a family, but the way it's implemented it really turns into a game about a family name - something that historically nobody really cared all that much about, and I don't see any gameplay reasons for that to matter either. It has silly ahistorical concepts like "matrilineal marriage" instead of just allowing the player to continue as any family member (within bounds of succession laws) after death of current character, even if they have a different name.

The other problem with CK2 is how irrelevant is any dynastic politics between rulers and vassals (something that was extremely important back then), and between characters of different religion (which was also extremely common) so you often end up as only top level ruler of your religion really fast, and then you're really just playing a country not a dynasty. If I wanted to play a country, I have so many other games for that.

As I don't really like tribal stuff, I'm going to play 1066 start, as duchess Matilda of Tuscany [ ] with some ruler designer fixes. She's going to start a bit overpowered, because being a woman in world of CK2 is nerf enough. To be honest uncustomized Matilda has very high stats, so if ruler designer allowed customizing existing character (as they originally promised), not making a shitty one from scratch, it would probably not even be needed.

With tons of mods - some to enhance family oriented gameplay, others just random tweaks and fixes. And most important - I plan to switch to other family members much sooner than death of their parents.

The most obvious goal is to become independent queen of Italy. And of course get a good husband and make loads of genius babies.

I made Matilda attractive ambitious midas-touched genius, because why the hell not, and to make it a dating game lustful, envious, paranoid, gregarious, and zealous. That's only slightly more powerful than default Matilda.

By the way ruler designer bullshit literally didn't allow me same first name as character I'm replacing. Not dynasty name - it didn't allow me to call her Matilda. Seriously? I absolutely hate how ridiculous ruler designer is because it's so much fun to start already engaged in dynastic politics, but this, like, seriously... That's the fastest I ever edited save game.

And to make thing weirder, game spawned original Matilda di Canossa as my courtier. As you can see, she's pretty damn decent. Ah fuck that, I'll just make her my dynasty, let's pretend she's some distant cousin.

Anyway, before unpausing:

• start independence factions - no plans to actually go for it anytime soon, I just want to be the one to decide when it does
• arrange betrothal with 14 year old king Philippe Capet of France
• choose business focus and ambition to get married
• fabricate on Ravena (imagine if it was just a 12 month timer...)
• improve relations with pope Alexander II
• spy in Constantinople, taxes and troops in capital
• married Matilda di Canossa to king Sancho II Jimena of Castille - as she's just a distant relative and it's not matrilineal that won't give me any alliance or anything, I just wonder how well her kids will do
• plot to revoke county of Lucca - it's silly that counties in my primary duchy are held my vassals, not by me

Sadly damned emperor Heinrich III Salian decided to attack my Philippe over de jure claim over Gent. If he's so much into de jure how about he gets the hell out of North Italy? Apparently I can't vote in HRE elections because it's not de jure, but he's still my liege? That's not going to last much longer.

Count of Lucca needed some military convincing to give his castle. I still had count of Corsica as my vassal, but that's not a big deal. More important thing is duke Alberto-Azzo of Lombardy, which is rightfully mine. I gathered a group of HRE princes that all agreed - as I'm a wonderful and generous person I gave some of them gifts in thanks for supporting justice.

Apparently that made me so happy that I'm no longer envious.

I declared war to get rightfully mine duchy of Lombardy, I got all of it except bishopric of Trent which is illegally held by duke of Bavaria. Fortunately 13 year old count of Grisons just across the border who formerly was vassal of fake duke of Lombardy is now my vassal - and I'm going to educate him myself.

I'm also going to educate heir of fake duke of Lombardy, just to make sure I'm not going to have any problems with next generation there.

I arranged marriage with king of France - I accepted his dynasty, but in exchange we agreed that it's going to be matrilineal. (OK, I get that it's silly, but I'm not going to let AI educate my heirs).

Sadly the idiot is chaste, focused on learning, and wants to become a paragon of virtue... Who the hell did I marry?

He's still losing his war over Gent, but at least that Norman bastard's invasion of England is failing, so he won't lose Normandy. At least not just yet.

My cousin already has a son Vela who's heir to kingdom of Castile. If everything goes really poorly on my side of the family, I guess I'll just continue the game as prince Vela, who cares about family names.

By the way what's male equivalent of "waifu"?

The new improved Matilda

The other Matilda

Matilda's husband Philippe

Post 2 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-26 19:27:27 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 02: 1068-1078: Queen Matilda of Italy and Sicily

I held a feast to celebrate taking Lombardy, which was uneventful other than count of Alberto-Azzo d'Este refusing to attend. 1 year old count Teodoro of Padua died in his sleep, poor baby. I'll make sure his castle will be taken good care of, and mass in his memory will be held every year in Padua chapel as long as I live.

As Padua was part of duchy of Verona, it only made sense that the rest of the duchy also comes under my rule. It was nice to see everybody agree - it was ridiculous that a German could hold Italian lands. And duke Berthold already holds duchy of Carinthia, why would he need Verona as well? Greedy much?

Some count tried to seduce me. He's gluttonous, 30 years old, and worse of all - German. Get lost! And then he tried again, with same result. And he continued. Fortunately my husband finally did his duty. It took him a while. The boy is a genius baby, but he's sickly and I got ill due to childbirth as well.

Some bishop just over the border tried to get it on with my courtier Agalina. A bishop! And he has 4 bastards already! A German, no surprise here. Same bishop tried to seduce me later... Not with a German, no way in hell.

Sadly emperor found out about my independence faction and I was forced to abandon it for now. So for now the best I can hope for is being his strongest vassal.

A fun event due to my business focus was organizing foreign trade expedition, which gave me pretty decent amounts of gold. Apparently mayor organizing it wanted a big share of it, but that's completely unreasonable. How come that makes me greedy? Oh well.

After taking duchy of Verona I got crowned queen of Italy, called for a feast to celebrate that, and organized some discussions to confirm my claim to various counties.

Independence faction triggered, releasing duke of Provence, count of Forez and Lyon, and two mayors of Ancona and Urbino. Ancona and Urbino immediately accepted my rule as queen of Italy - something I couldn't even ask them for back when they were part of HRE. Yeah, game has some issues.

I had 4 duchies, which really annoyed my vassals, so I gave county and duchy of Spoleto to local mayor, and created duchy of Ancona for its mayor as well. They'll have to live with me holding 3 duchies.

It was time for war. Did I say this is meant as a dating campaign? I'm sure we'll get there eventually. Because it's CK2 not EU4 I started 4 wars all at once - 2 for my claim, 1 of claim of some random woman, 1 de jure.

Emperor Heinrich got himself excommunicated, and my husband declared war on him for that together with king of England and duke of Barcelona. They're technically at war, but nothing seems to be actually happening. King of Hungary started a second such war, and king of Poland a third - I think the game should just let them all join, but whatever. He setup an anti-pope which somehow un-excommunicated him and broke all 3 wars against him. Oh well.

No matter, some mayor was plotting, so I tried to arrest him for money. He rebelled, so I took his city, gave it to some claimant to Apulia and Calabria. I got Apulia for the mayor (so now I have 3 merchant republics under me), and Calabria for one of counts in in Apulia, as I didn't really feel like setting up a double-duchy merchant republic.

After taking over those duchies I crowned myself queen of Sicily, making me ridiculously powerful for a vassal. Sadly I'm still discouraged from joining any factions.

As for the dating sim part:

• genius son Enrico
• attractive son Silvestro, betrothed to Byzantine princess with strong claim (not heiress)
• daughter Ricciarda, betrothed to heir to Polish throne
• attractive daughter Berenice, betrothed matrilineally to Franz Salian, heir to duchy of Franconia
• (all children totally legitimate)
• tons of random dudes tried to seduce me, I refused all those damn Germans, but then a French count that seemed pretty nice...
• as I'm lustful, and my emperor is lustful, while my husband is chaste, I switched to seduction focus and tried to seduce Holy Roman Emperor. Sure, he's German, but this is so delightfully perverse... I think accepting advances of that French count broke this attempt. Like, you can only have one lover? What kind of dating sim is that? I get it that there should be a limit, but 1? That's just nonsense. I can't find any code that would limit anyone to just 1 lover, so I'm not entirely sure what is going on.

Post 3 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-26 21:19:23 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 03: 1078-1085: Popes needs some lovin' too

Wiki claims up to 7 lovers are possible, and game code doesn't say anything obvious about lover limit... Oh well.

The game turned from blobbingfest into real dating sim really quickly once I switched to seduction focus.

I got event to give bodyguard a good tumble for +1 martial and +10% plot discovery chance bonus.

Then I had a single session with my Greek confessor. Why do I even have a Greek confessor? But we're not like lovers or anything. That one session was enough to get me pregnant.

While pregnant with that Greek bishop I managed to seduce my emperor too. But seriously, who would not want some action with girl with my stats?

Apparently having 2 lovers is too stressful, so I could either get Stressed trait, or break with one of them. Well, I'm a bit bored with that French count, I'll give Kaiser a chance.

Meanwhile I gave another confessor a taste of what it forbidden to them, and then I made pope John Paul, successor of Alexander, my lover. And I got pregnant with the pope! This is exactly the kind of stuff I hoped would happen when I started this game.

So far my children are: 2 sons and 3 daughers with king of France, one son with that Greek bishop, and one son with the pope.

Even assuming no more children - and that would be a silly assumption, Matilda is just 34 - and that daughers will be happy with just regular marriages and no land (and one is matrilineally betrothed to Kaisor's oldest son), I still need to arrange some land to my 4 sons.

Kaiser caught me in factional second time, so I can't just setup a faction and politely ask him to grant me independence. I could declare war on him, and together with my husband and ridiculously big merc fund we would probably win, but it would be awkward in bed if I did that...

My cousin Matilda is quite successful as well - her husband expanded from just a tiny Castille to northern half of peninsula, and technically has 3 kingdoms, even if they're not real kingdoms, only game being silly.

Post 4 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-27 00:21:22 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 04: 1085-1090: Independence

I assassinated a grant mayor who didn't like me, bribed a count and send assassins to deal with some rebels to make sure my vassals are all at peace - and I passed absolute cognatic inheritance laws.

Two lovers were not enough, so I decided to seduce my marshal duke of Capua - with stats like 12/27/16/23/14 he's just insanely good. And of course he got me pregnant really quickly.

I murdered Byzantine heir and unfortunately the word got out. I wonder if my son's betrothal will go through this way. I killed another one of his sons, sadly the emperor had a daughter born in purple so the one betrothed to my son is 3rd in line again. Even assuming this goes forward.

I got too many lovers event again, and being pregnant with duke Landone, and already having a son with pope John Paul, I guess it was time for Kaiser Heinrich to go. Some time later I got this event again - I think it's just too frequent for a dating sim - and I decided to break up with pope.

I arranged marriages for 8 of my kids, except the youngest son. Prince Enrico came of age, his betrothed princess Katarzyna of Poland is still just 11.

I think it's about time to liberate Italian lands from German oppression. And fuck... CK2 winter attrition is retarded. Kaiser's 24k army melted down to 8k over one winter. Not any pagan attrition siberian province - just going through provinces which normally have 21k and 24.5k supply limit.

Of course I lost a quarter of my army to winter too when I tried to actually do something - in my own territory - in normally ridiculously over limit provinces (I split army in half, and in summer whole army would fit just fine).

The whole war was just ridiculously anticlimactic - in 2 years and 6 months I got 27% from occupations (one county, losing 1/4 of my army to attrition on way back), 24% from battles (wiping out what was left from HRE army trying to siege that county back after attrition murdered 3/4 of them), and the rest from ticking warscore. Like that's seriously ridiculous.

Anyway, my second son's betrothal to Byzantine princess went through. I'm now trying to get rid of the emperor and his oldest daughter - if that works, I'll just peacefully get my son's waifu on Byzantine throne. If it doesn't, she has strong claim already.

I plan to get family members married into royal lines of every Christian realm. I don't really know if I can unify them in anyway, as different children will be on different thrones. I could divide my two crowns between two of my children and retire. Or continue trying to get them on various thrones by sending assassins around.

So far my family:

• cousin Matilda - married to king of Castille, Galicia, and Leon, mother of all their children
• son Enrico - heir to France (agnatic primogeniture), betrothed to princess Katarzyna, second in line to Poland
• son Silvestro - married to princess Romane, second in line and already with strong claim to Byzantine empire
• daughter Ricciarda - betrothed to prince Boleslaw, heir to Poland
• daughter Berenice - matrilineally betrothed to prince Franz Salian, heir to HRE
• son Gabrino (with my Greek confessor) - betrothed to prince Aimes, second in line to Navarra
• daughter Flavia - matrilineally betrothed to princess Almos, 4th in line to Hungary
• daugher Nunzia - matrilineally betrothed to prince Guillen, heir to kingdom of Galicia
• son Cangrande (with pope John Paul) - betrothed to duchess Sibilla of Aquitaine and Gascogne
• son Lealdo (with duke Landone) - no arrangements made yet

It's actually a bit surprising that chaste king Philippe, in spite of wife cheating on him with half of Europe all the way from lowly bodyguards through confessors to popes and emperors, he still managed to get 6 legitimate children and all of them are heading towards great prominence.

Post 5 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-27 02:20:57 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 05: 1090-1095: Dynasty Triumphant

As I had a few more years, I decided to seduce strong king of Poland.

I murdered my way to the point where princess Romane should become new Byzantine empress, but somehow her distant cousin got the title.

I betrothed Lealdo to princess Margaret of England - really distant in line of succession - and just gave him a county of Pisa.

My husband died, so Enrico is now king of France and Aquitaine, and depending on how things go may get a claim on Poland as well. I got myself an 18 year old attractive distant relative of Scottish king to keep me company in my old age.

Some dumb bitch declared revolt against Enrico to put my younger son on French throne. How is that even legitimate?

My second son, for whose wife's claim I've been fighting all the time kept bitching about getting land of his own. That's not supposed to happen at all with gavelkind anyway!

And of course Enrico's wife died, and he asked me to marry some ridiculously shitty girl at least she's Komnenos. That's just too dumb. Console, betrothal to youngest daughter of Hungarian king. At least before his wife died they managed to make a son who has tiny change of being in line to throne of Poland. If not him, then my granddaughter, even though she's technically Piast not Capet.

War for Byzantine throne was much more interesting - attrition is still ridiculous, except it's zero on sea, so there's a workaround. Stupid workaround, but it works.

I've just noticed that Enrico somehow managed to not get engaged with Hungarian princess, and married some really awful Danish hunchback bastard, who somehow got weak claims to England and Denmark. For fuck's sake...

Status of my family:

• cousin Matilda - queen of Castile, Galicia, and Leon, who conquered 2/3 of Spain by now
• son Enrico, king of France and Aquitaine, in really dumb second marriage
• grandson Cristoforo - heir to France, Aquitaine, and with tiny chance of inheriting Poland
• son Silvestro - manwaifu of (Greek Orthodox) Byzantine empress
• granddaughter Giuseppa - Italian Catholic heiress to Byzantine Empire
• daughter Berenice - married matrilineally to prince Franz, oldest son of Holy Roman Emperor, who's currently losing elections, but a claim will be enough
• son Gabrino - married to princess Aines, second in line to kingdom of Navarra (that's most promising target of intrigue)
• daughter Flavia - matrilineally betrothed to duke Almos of Transylvania, with weak but hereditary claim to Hungary
• daughter Nunzia - matrilineally bethrothed to prince Guillen, heir to Castille
• son Cangrande - betrothed to duchess Sibilla of Aquitaine and Gascogne
• son Lealdo - count of Pisa (will get whole duchy once I'm done with it), betrothed to princess Margaret of England who's like 15th in line, but it's better than nothing

I could switch to king Enrico, and try to get England for my waifu. I should probably do something about my titles before that - maybe give one of them to one of children with fewest hopes, or maybe getting empire of Italia title to keep them both. Making them absolute cognatic gavelkind is as silly as things get.

Whichever family member I decide to play as, I'm sure the rest of my family will act real dumb. Hopefully not lose Byzantine empire level of dumb.

Oh and there's ongoing crusade for Jerusalem, surprisingly winning but not very convincingly. Maybe I should join it to increase chances of my granddaughter succeeding to Byzantine throne?

Post 6 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-27 11:49:32 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 06: 1095-1099: Testament of Matilda the Great, Queen of Italy and Sicily

I still had a few children to educate before they can go into the world on their own - sadly they are free to make their own dumb decision and not listen to their mother as soon as they get any land.

Luis, prince of Navarra, had an unfortunate hunting accident and my daughter in law princess Aines is now heir to throne of Navarra. King and queen of Navarra are pretty old, so it's not certain that Aines will get the throne, but not too far fetched.

This game is technically called "Crusader Kings", which is relevant given ongoing crusade. I sent the troops over, and in some minor skirmish my troops managed to slay caliph like a dog. Pope did not value my contributions enough, instead giving the kingdom to... king of Navarra. I seriously did not plan it, I'm just getting kingdoms for my family left and right.

Actually that's not quite true - older daughter will get tiny Navarra, younger daughter will get huge Jerusalem. Because gavelkind is pure logic.

I became possessed in my old age.

I switched to family focus, and started giving away duchies to my children - some of my vassals were less than faithful, so a few counties and duchies needed new management anyway. The best thing - well, the only good thing - about absolute cognatic is that I can give land to my daughters freely.

My second husband magically disappeared. I have no idea what the hell, he didn't die or anything... Well, I married some relative of king of England, even if it's past baby making I still need that demesne size bonus. Somehow he became incapable. At age of 17, with no obvious reason. Hey there pope huney, would you mind granting me a divorce, I mean, seriously... I married some relative of doge of Apulia instead.

I continued cleanup of independent possessions of various republics, but there's still a bit to go.

It's high time to change the character. Here's how far my family went:

• my cousin queen Matilda, her descendants will likely become emperors of Hispania
• king Henri (became French and changed name from Enrico), king of France and Aquitaine, married to potential queen of England and Denmark
• basileus Silvestro, husband of Byzantine empress, heir to kingdom of Italy, with two daughters who will likely continue the dynasty
• princess Ricciarda, wife of future king of Poland, heir to kingdom of Sicily
• princess Berenice, wife of Franz Salian who was once heir to HRE, but elections are fickle. Herself heir to duchy of Verona
• prince Gabrino, married to heiress to Navarra, and with some help possibly kingdom of Jerusalem as well
• princess Flavia, duchess of Susa in own name, married to duke of Transylvania with weak claim to Hungary
• princess Nunzia, duchess of Lombardy, married to heir to kingdom of Galicia
• prince Cangrande, bethrothed to duchess of Aquitaine and Gascogne
• prince Lealdo, duke of Modena, and Pisa as soon as he usurps that one, betrothed to distant relative of English princess (7th child, and he has younger brothers as well, I doubt that could be even assassinated through)

I decided to console hax and make Ricciarda's marriage retroactively matrilineal, I'm not obsessed with names, but gavelkinding Sicily to 3rd child is clearly broken here. Yeah, gavelkind is broken, you've heard it here first. It's not like I couldn't assassinate my way to Polish throne - Henri and Katarzyna had a strong genius son before she died of pneumonia, and he's 4th in line, but I'm not going to kill my grandchildren just because they have silly name.

It's time to switch to Henri II, king of France and Aquitaine.

Post 7 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-27 15:15:20 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 07: 1099-1104: Henri, King of France and Aquitaine

Queen Matilda designated her second son Silvestro as heir to kingdom of Italy, and her daughter Ricciarda as heir to kingdom of Sicily (Ricciarda's manwaifu agreed to retroactively make their marriage matrilineal). Not wanting to leave Henri without anything, she sent him a bit over 2500 gold to help get things in order.

And he definitely needed it. Demesne of 2 castles, half of the vassals of dubious loyalty. It's quite surprising he even managed to pass medium crown authority in both his kingdom, defeat HRE attack, and some rebellions to lower crown authority on his own with position so weak.

In theory Henri's France and Aquitaine is much stronger realm than Matilda's Italy and Sicily. In practice, it needs work.

First order of business was increasing my ridiculously tiny demesne. Duchess of Poitou was a traitor, so I arrested and banished her (one of the things I modded was increasing range of things that warrant banishment, it was silly that you couldn't banish rebels). That's one rebellious vassal down.

Next I'm educating 11 year old duchess of Aquitaine and Gascogne betrothed to my brother, giving away some honorary titles, increasing retinue, increasing centralization from minimum to low, and getting claims on some random counts. And obviously seduction focus time (I reset focus timer by save editing as well, timers are fine if player did the original choice, here they're just annoying), and trying to seduce duchess Garsende of Champagne. Seduction succeeded and I got "lover's pox" from her... I didn't even know the game had that, dating sims generally don't deal with such issues...

Revocation of Amiens failed, and my armies were still pitiful, so I decided to hire some mercs - Catalan company - on longer term basis. Same with count of Vermandois - damn Karling even. Vermandois went to some weak claimant to duchy of Brittany, and that got incorporated into France, regardless of help from Scotland and Barcelona its duchess got.

Well, that left me with still too small demesne, and far too many powerful dukes. If duke of Normandy would be nice enough to rebel, that would solve a lot of my problems, so how about I induce him to?

That gave me big enough demesne, even if it's scattered all over the place, resulting in a lot of conflicts with local dukes.

Of course as soon as I changed characters queen Matilda decided to go to war with her son Lealdo to revoke Pisa. That game would be much better if AI wasn't a dumb fuck like that. Of course she burned all her armies on that retarded war, so Kaiser attacked her for claims to all her titles. Fortunately that did not go well for him, and with my help Kaiser got defeated.

Everybody around me get himself in trouble - Byzantine Empress got like 7th revolt to lower crown authority, Leon got some rebels of same kind, Navarra got adventurer. Poland at least successfully pressed some weak Rurikid claim.

Anyway, time to press my wife's claims. I wanted to press both at once, as I don't think I'd be able to press second once she leaves my court for her new land. Denmark is ruled by a child, and English king has been rotting in foreign jail for years now. Both need a strong ruler, like my Danish hunchback bastard Elisabeth. Well, more like our quick daughter, but it's too early for that.

Wait, what the fuck? Why can't I press my wife's weak claim on English throne? They have regency over there and I can press weak claims of my 3 vassals. So much for plan England, at least Denmark was underdeveloped and barely defended, and Polish king came to help me there. And that does nothing whatsoever as Denmark is elective and they have no intention of electing her daughter.

In other words, the only thing that I thought AI got right by accident - marrying a girl with weak claims to England and Denmark in spite of her awful stats - was actually totally wrong and useless.

I'm not really seeing any obvious things for Henri to do next. There aren't any claimants nearby (except for Powys - that's like central 1/3 of Wales - probably not worth sending ships for), and there are no good dynastic options. Pope is an asshole and won't give me any claims of any kind - I don't know why they even added that option, it's as worthless as excommunication in EU4. I could always divorce my Danish wife and marry that damn Hungarian princess with weak claim I was meant to before game bugged out. That even assuming the pope will grant the divorce.

The thing about this game is that many things take long time to get going. A few generations in fact.

And I burned through dynastic emergency cash reserve really quickly. I expect to need a lot of money to get through Italian Catholic ascendancy in Byzantine empire.

Post 8 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-27 22:19:04 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 08: 1104-1108: The Fall of Jerusalem

Damn Pope would not grant me a divorce, and I can't setup an anti-pope unless I have free investiture, which I can't pass because I passed medium crown authority, and both count into same category of one-change-per-lifetime laws.

Infidels called for Jihad on Jerusalem, which I obviously joined. Pope did not take that into consideration at all. The antipope liked me more, but I don't have an option to choose sides here. I improved my relations with the pope from "no" to "maybe", and then he refused anyway. Being absolutely sure if AI will respond yes or no is such a nice thing in EU4...

I cant marry princess Piroska, but if we could make a baby with weak claim on Hungary... And we got genius daughter whom I legitimized.

Oh wait, I forgot to expel the Jews. That's like medieval rite of passage.

Anyway, the Jihad. As everybody in Europe is now married to everybody else thanks to Matilda's efforts, I thought it's going to be trivial. Turns out thanks to new bullshit attrition system barely anybody made it there, and they were all killed my Muslim doomstacks. Fuck, I'll send 25k French soldiers... And that was not even close, 7k came back from there.

Like what the fuck is going on? Apparently every single Shia duke gets separate calls to Jihad. So Sultan has 100% of his realm levy, while we're getting the usual feudal 10%. I sweat, this game used to be better before this bullshit. A lot better. Changes to feudal system, attrition, tribes, temporary rebel titles... it's all going downhill hard.

Of course I got two instant rebellions because 3/4 of my troops died to AI cheating - one duke was trying to fabricate a claim on kingdom of Aquitaine and refused to back down, another tried to put my brother on throne of France. Well that dooms kingdom of Jerusalem.

Fortunately Kaiser to whom I'm allied thanks to marriage between my sister and his son agreed to help. With all the wars between Kaiser and my family you'd be surprised we are totally allies and have been since forever...

And to make it even worse, Sunni jihad got called at the same time. If only the game was kind enough to make Sunnis and Shias hostile to each other so they can fight while we're busy with rebels, but no such luck. And my brother Gabrino who was married to princess of Aines of Navarra died without having any children...

Oh well, my brother Cangrande needs a fief of his own, he might be married to a double duchess, but he's an ambitious bastard. I mean literally, everybody knows he's pope's baby. I made him duke of Burgundy and designated regent, that should be good enough for him. He's literally 8th child of Matilda, he's not expecting an empire, right?

I took advantage of peace to pass true cognatic, I arranged Cristoforo's marriage to princess of Castile, and Cecile's matrilineally to prince of Hungary with weak claim to Croatia. Judith might still inherit weak claim to Hungary from her mother. It would be fairly difficult to push such claims even if they became available, but dynastic game is all a long shot compared with just holy warring infidels until you're biggest blob on the map.

I think it all proves that Muslims need to be eradicated, starting from North Africa where they can't counterattack. Unfortunately I don't have any in range, except for Baleares which are already being attacked by Barcelona - Castile did really good job at cleaning up the rest. Of course if my chancellor managed to fabricate claim on duchy of Barcelona somehow, that would open my way to North Africa.

The best other option is to use various claimants to take over Wales and Ireland. I hoped for dynastic option, but I'm not really seeing any.

King of Galicia decided to switch from gavelkind to seniority robbing his 5 children of inheritance. That's another dynastic longshot not working out.

Post 9 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-28 02:05:33 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 09: 1108-1117: Death of Queen Matilda

I got some weak claimant to duchy of Barcelona, and I managed to assassinate the duke whose heir was a child - and the child turned 16 just a couple months too early. Damn! Assassinating the second duke was much harder and more expensive, and I had to act right away as next duke was 13 already.

My strong genius son asked me to become a monk... Like, seriously? He's not even zealous or anything, and he's already betrothed. No way, you're going to be a duke of Poitou whether you like it or not! What do you mean characters with 15 learning can use "reverse psychology" action?

I had another baby with some minor Welsh duchess. Sadly being a lover is not enough to convince someone to accept vassalization, and her sons are much higher in order of succession. Of course I love you darling, and I'd totally marry you if only Pope granted me a divorce... Oh come on, I'm not saying that to every girl, that's so unfair, you're breaking my heart with such accusations...

Getting Barcelona meant North African Muslims were finally in range. My mother had the same idea and attacked the Shia Sultan of Egypt directly - without the cheaty Jihad troops he's not really that strong.

I expanded simultaneously in Wales (4/10 counties), Ireland (5/13 counties) and North Africa. Duke of Barcelona pushed his weak claim to duchy of Mallorca too, so I could create Aragon (8/15 counties) if I had cash. All that fighting completely burned through my reserves.

So far my children got:

• son Cristoforo, with my first wife Katarzyna Piast of Poland - duchy of Poitou
• daughter Cecile, with my second wife Elisabeth of Denmark - lands in duchies of Kabyla and Tunis (intended to be double duchess eventually)
• daughter Judith, with princess Piroska of Hungary - duchy of Tlemcen and lands in duchy of Algiers (intended to be doule duchess eventually)
• daughter Mawd, with duchess Blodwen of Deheubarth - can't give her anything, her mother is landed so she's at her court even thought she's legitimized

And younger ones are still waiting:

• daughter Peronelle, with my second wife Elisabeth of Denmark
• daughter Sophia, with Piroska of Hungary
• son Onfroy, with my second wife Elisabeth of Denmark

So I wouldn't mind getting a bit more land so every one of them can be a duke.

As for larger dynastic situation, my younger brother holds Italy and his children will inherit Italy and Byzantine Empire. But not same kid, in Italy older sister takes precedence, in Byzantium it's boys over girls.

In Sicily, that's more awkward... My sister holds it, and her husband will get Poland any day (his father is like 75). After that, their son will get Poland, and their daughter will get Sicily - except their daughter is married to Bulgarian king who rebelled out of Byzantium. That's not only going to be an awkward family conversation, it will make Sicily pass out of the dynasty. Absolute cognatic just leads to this kind of silliness.

Castille after all fell apart a bit, Muslim rebels taking over Andalusia.

Given enough time Henri will surely take over Ireland, Wales, and most of North-West Africa (as well as likely good bits of Spain) - even if it will take some waiting to gather some money to fund all this.

At some point I'll switch to Byzantine branch of the family. It mostly depends on when basilissa Romane will die, but she's 43 and in good health so I don't expect that to be anytime soon. Or I could switch to her before that to prepare the empire a bit for shock of reverse mending the schism.

Post 10 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-29 02:13:48 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 10: 1117-1122: Dynastic Empire from Ireland to Armenia

The Pope would not grant me divorce, he would not grant me any claims, so would he at least share his money so I can use it to fight Muslims? Of course not. Well, I can't really spare my court chaplain to sit in Rome and entertain Pope for better relations, he's too busy with missionary work in North Africa.

You know what's the biggest problem with CK2? It's relation system. It's just so ridiculously easy to get to +100 or -100 for that matter and what it means is "likes you a bit" and "dislikes you a bit". There are extremely few things AI will do differently based on that. You'll reach the cap with tons of characters on routine basis, and it basically means nothing.

Your major vassals are the only people who matter, and that mostly during succession or after your army dies to ridiculous attrition. Maybe spymaster, but you can just replace him with someone who likes you more. Everybody else? Foreign rulers, wife, children, pope? Who cares, really.

Anyway, my Danish wife cheated on me with some mayor, which was finally enough grounds for Pope to grant me a divorce - I thought I'd marry my lover princess Piroska of Hungary, but she's 38 already... My 18 year old niece, daughter of Byzantine princess looks pretty cute. Surely nothing wrong could possibly come out of it. Well, of course it did, apparently I can't use seduce action on any close relatives... Oh come on game...

My new wife immediately found out about my affair with duchess Blodwen of Deheubarth. I wonder what was the hint... Maybe the bastard daughter I legitimized? Fine, I'll confess and break up with my lover.

Everybody needed my help... I found myself in 11 simultaneous war (with more coming later) - Ireland, North Africa, helping king of Italy against rebellious vassals, helping king of Castile against Andalusian rebels (with their event troops), king of Leon, and who knows what else...

It was really bad, so while defending Castile from Andalusian attackers I decided to give another try with papal request for money which was at maybe, and I got a bit over 700 gold for it.

Fortunately while wars were numerous, they weren't particularly difficult. I became king of Ireland and Aragon and expanded my North African possessions - sadly my former lover Blodwen who wouldn't accept vassalization lost her duchy and is now just a count under England, so not much hope of becoming king of Wales.

Basilissa Romane died at age of 46, her husband Silvestro king of Italy died as well. Their son Basileus Silvestro just came of age today.

Family holdings:

• Basileus Silvestro, Byzantine Emperor
• King Henri, king of France, Aquitaine, Aragon, and Ireland, overlord of various duchies in Wales, Africa, and Mauritania. He's probably going to get 5th kingdom of Brittany - I didn't create it as it's fairly pointless, but AI loves creating titles
• Queen Giuseppa of Italy
• Queen Ricciarda of Sicily, married to king Boguslaw of Poland. Oh and she's Fraticelli somehow...

Boguchwal Capet, heir to kingdom of Poland, and queen Giuseppa are married, but it's all gavelkind so it's going to fall apart anyway. Queen Matylda, heir to kingdom of Sicily, is married to king of Bulgaria in a regular marriage, so their kids won't be of right dynasty, but Bulgaria is de jure Byzantine anyway...

Well, I'm going to switch to Silvestro, first Catholic Roman Emperor in very long time. I want to unite Eastern half of family holdings (Roman Empire, Italy, Sicily, Bulgaria) under one imperial rule, reorganize it so it's ruled by Catholics, and restore Pope as Roman vassal. We're going back to days of Emperor Justinian.

Kingdom of Poland and 4/5-way kingdom of France can stay as they are.

By the way I didn't want to have any other imperial titles once I got a shot at Byzantine Empire - elective HRE is an extremely shitty title, and in any case having multiple top level titles is just trouble.

Even if I did, Queen Matilda couldn't form Empire of Italia as that required one kingdom title other than Italy/Sicily as special condition, and she only held a few counties outside their de jure territory. Her best shot would be holy war on sultan of Africa, but that would probably take far too long.

Empire of Francia (which also requires one kingdom outside France/Aquitaine/Brittany/Burgundy) couldn't be created because king Henri only controls 77% of its de jure territory - with HRE holding nearly whole kingdom of Burgundy.

By the way the "de jure empire of Italia" is probably the only ahistorical bullshit that's too much even for me. Aztec invasion? Wendish Empire? Sure, go for it. But "Empire of Italia" that doesn't even include half of Italy... What the fuck is that?

Oh yeah, and I'll have to decide which culture I want to go. Half of my family is French, half is Italian, a few are Polish, Welsh, or Hungarian due to all the affairs, and I could switch to Greek instead as well. It's probably best to decide before making tons of new babies.

And I need to find myself a wife. Kings of Georgia and Bulgaria won't agree to any marriage for political reasons. I could always choose some family member or one of Kaiser's daughters. Or just marry someone irrelevant with good traits.

There's hope for Catholic dominance

Children and grandchildren of Queen Matilda are already most successful dynasty since Karlings

Post 11 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-29 14:13:49 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 11: 1122-1128: Emperor Cristoforo's Accidental Crusade for Sicity

I modded decision to coscript merchant ships to no longer show as major decision - it's ridiculously situational, and the game doesn't have a way to decide which decisions should be displayed as popups like EU4. Actually feast/festival etc. decisions which can be only taken in certain months probably should be shown as major - they're really easy to overlook otherwise.

Henri's last act before changing characters I sent emperor Silvestro 1540 gold.

He unfortunately forgot to switch Aquitaine's inheritance laws, so it's on agnatic primogeniture, while his other titles (France, Ireland, Aragon) are all on absolute cognatic primogeniture.

Kingdom of France will be inherited by duke Cristoforo - ridiculously good strong genius fortune builder 20/16/27/9/15, fortune builder, trusting, gregarious, honest, diligent, and kind - and legitimate heir of king Philippe and queen Matilda by any inheritance laws. To make matters more messy, all titles within the realm are under agnatic cognatic gavelkind, and game is really bad when different titles use different inheritance rules.

Emperor Silvestro is much less impressive - 3rd child (and oldest son) of 2nd child (and 2nd son) of dynasty founders, attractive fortune builder 7/10/13/6/5, born in purple, kind, gregarious, deceitful, charitable, and brave. A reasonable character, but compared with Cristoforo's highest stewardship (and probably total stats) on the map.

Well, no need to fight my cousin, I'm just going to arrange betrothal to his oldest daugher Ide. She's 9 and I'm 16, so I'll take a pass on seduction for a while. It's a good time to focus on scholarship and improve my stats somewhat. Of all the supposed events including some fun chain to build observatory absolutely nothing triggered. I guess I'll just go back to seducing wenches.

I had ongoing rebellion in Crete I needed to put down, I had demesne of just 2, and tons of Orthodox (and a few Iconoclast) vassals who needed to be convinced to become good Catholics.

It was actually shockingly easy to get my vassals to convert. After death of any duke his duchy would pass into my hands, then I'd grant it back to their children (or some other count), and that would be huge relations boost just enough to get them to convert. Of course with empire as big as mine it still would take very long time to get everybody to convert, but it was a surprisingly peaceful process.

In a display of stupidity that's absolutely amazing even by AI standards, Pope declared crusade for Sicily, held by my Fraticelli aunt, even though she's 52 and her heirs are all Catholics. Fuck's sake.

I had to join or horrible things would happen. As I did 79% contribution, and had weak claim to Sicily, I got it as a result of crusade I did not want. I also got shitton of demesne over there, even though vast majority of her vassals were Catholic.

Now it's time to figure out what I'm going to do with my massive demesne. I think I'll keep Sicily and Thrace and give away the rest.

Another thing - I've just noticed that of newly conquered territory, 1 barony belongs to Knights Templar, 1 to Knights Hospitalier, 1 to Pope, and 3 to random independent Muslims. All that actually matters for sake of Restore the Roman Empire decision, and if inherited kingdom of Italy somehow, I'd be more than halfway there.

Pope wants me to restore Roman Empire regardless of my other plans

Catholicism is coming back East

Post 12 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-29 18:01:41 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 12: 1128-1136: Byzantine Steamroller

Apparently "Build Observatory" is a fucking decision the game does not bother marking as major, or in any other way informingy ou that it's available. I just fucking hate CK2 decision system. It has all the tools to make it work, but it just chooses to do the dumb thing. Oh well. Also decision to expel the Jews should be marked as major.

I started Build Observatory, and I followed with event chain to observe stars, ending up with publishing heliocentric theory, greatly annoying pope and all bishops but getting me tons of prestige, military research points, diligent, and cynical.

During 7 year wait for my bride to turn of age, I got a lover by random event and we had a bastard son, whom I acknowledged but did not legitimize. Like many other children with poor chance of succession, he's just going to get a duchy in Africa instead.

Kaiser decided to press some bishop's weak claim to duchy of Verona against my cousin Eriprando, king of Italy.

I got king of Hungary killed, and his 3 year old daughter succeeded him. That as silly of course, so I pressed claim of a more competent ruler. King of Croatia was not possible to kill, but he got pneumonia, leaving the country to a 2 year old instead.

My nephew Benvenuto became king of Poland. One of my sisters married heir of newly Catholic king of Pomerania. It's not like our family wants to encircle HRE from all sides - our plan was to take HRE as well, but bastards elected wrong guy.

I got a major revolt all while fighting Kaiser and Hungary, and with my armies severely depleted. Just in case anybody wonders why I'm sitting on 2-5k gold instead of spending it on buildings, that's the reason. Mercs and retinue both got seriously nerfed, so using mercs as standing army is maybe not as obvious an idea as it used to be, but for emergencies, sure.

Oh and I've been doing seduction focus wrong. I understood it to be some kind of "polyamory focus" - get like maybe 3-5 lovers, have fun with them. What they intended it to be is really "slut focus", with endless series of meaningless one night stands. Maybe they should split them? I can totally see interesting use for both in a dating sim.

Anyway, rebels all got banished - that's my favourite thing I modded in, being able to just banish rebels and take all their gold and titles, instead of stripping them of 1 titles. I got new rulers to replace them, Catholic Frenchmen if possible, or just handed over counties to existing dukes if they were previously held by wrong one for some neater borders. I'm pretty close to hitting vassal limit already, I guess double dukes wouldn't be that bad.

King of Georgia got got caught in some silly business, so I found a weak claimant, and repeated Hungarian/Croatian scenario.

Sadly my cousin got caught in fight against Kaiser which was otherwise totally won (like +90% warscore), and that instalost it to -100%. I get why they have this mechanic, but it's so ridiculously annoying here.

My sister Ausonia, duchess of Tuscany was extremely unimpressed by our cousin king Eriprando's performance and declared her war to get Italian throne. Ausonia is married with my uncle king Henri of France.

Just screw all of you, you're obviously unable to hold queen Matilda's legacy!

Family civil war it is then.

Post 13 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-05-29 21:21:59 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 13: 1136-1143: Italy for the Byzantine Frenchmen

I thought king of France would join on side of duchess Ausonia, and who knows what king of Poland would do, but they were both apparently already in an HRE-Italy embargo war (what the fuck happened to truce timers?), so they couldn't accept mine or Ausonia's call to arms. They still randomly displayed as allied or enemy or whatever else - I don't think the game likes such clusterfucks, but its prohibition against alliance clusterfucks is less strict than in EU4.

Two of the girls I slept with got in a fight, and everything got revealed. Oh well, happens. At least I managed to get a bastard son who's going to inherit weak claim on kingdom of Galicia. It is not that great to have just one legitimate child.

I won the war for Italy - and that got me way a lot over vassal limit. The biggest bullshit about vassal limit is how temporary rebel titles count as vassals. So if some rebels are trying to overthrow king of Hungary? Totally counts as 2 vassals to the limit.

I accepted my sister Ausonia's offer of white peace, as I didn't plan to revoke her titles or anything. Actually, you know what sister? Enjoy viceroyalty of Italy. And I'll give another distant kinsman kingdom of Africa as viceroyalty as well.

My dynasty lost Poland to faction demand... Seriously, why would anybody accept that ever? Oops, he's craven. Figures. He still kept one duchy.

Anyway, I got into my first war against the pope - for a barony he should definitely not hold. Random baronies will be huge pain, of 14 duchies I need to completely hold to restore Roman Empire, I only have 6, with 3 more having random holy order baronies. There's a tiny chance a Frenchman will become a grandmaster or one or another, then they might accept vassalization peacefully. If not, I can always kick them out.

There was a fun clusterfuck in Spain between kings of Galicia, Leon, Portugal, Navarra, and Castile. I got one of my lovers on throne of Galicia - unfortunately since Byzantine Empire is agnatic-cognatic I couldn't give her any token land to make her a vassal, and as all vassal kings she refused to do it peacefully. It doesn't matter that she's literally 1 county queen, we're at +100 relations, and I hold the other 50% (1/2 counties) of her silly "kingdom". Fine, I'll push someone else's weak claim instead. I ended up with very tiny Galicia and very tiny Castile as my vassals - both family members, so all that dynastic shenanigans paid off, sort of.

My cousin Cristoforo got throne of France, Aragon, Ireland (all to be inherited by my wife), and Aquitaine (to be inherited by some distant kinsman, because accidentally left agnatic) and decided to open his reign by declaring a war on HRE to depose antipope. I joined, as did pope, and for some reason Suomenusko high chief of Prussia. I have no idea how that one even worked.

For now the Kaiser is winning - it's really hard for me to help in any fight except one near Italy. Well, unless someone just gets themselves caught in a battle, I can't help with that much. Two of my relatives already got captured this time again, each worth 5% warscore. Seriously...

Byzantine Empire is so big, it has tons of king-level vassals:

• Ecumenical Patriarch
• Queen of Croatia (Hungarian Arpad)
• King of Hungary (Hungarian Arpad)
• King of Georgia (Russian Rurikid, somehow)
• Vecereine of Italy (family)
• Viceroy of Africa  (family)
• King of Galicia (family)
• Queen of Castille (family)

And a big assortment of dukes, doges, minor viceroys, and so on. I'd generally want to replace feudal vassals with nominated vassals if opportunity presents itself, but I'm not going to incite them to rebel just for the sake of it. I'll have tons of trouble with imperial reorganization after I inherit French lands anyway.

Roman Restoration is going happening quickly

Poland got lost

Catholicism spread much faster than I expected

Post 14 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-01 00:43:47 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 14: 1143-1149: Counterattack of the faithful

Catholicism was emerging from its dark times. Not so long ago Jerusalem fell to the Shia Caliph, Andalusia fell to Yazidi rebels who were trying to expand to duchy of Beja, schismatics held Byzantine Empire as well as large parts of Eastern Europe, ruler of kingdom of Sicily became Fraticelli, and king of the Germans setup his fake pope to accompany his fake emperorship.

Fortunately it was mostly over now. Thanks to Queen Matilda's dynastic politics schismatics lost control over Byzantine Empire. Roman Emperor Silvestro put Catholic king Briachislav Rurikid on throne of Georgia, and led crusader troops against his heretic aunt holding to restore Catholicism in Sicily. North African Muslims of all varieties fell to crusading efforts of Queen Matilda, King Henri of France, and Emperor Silvestro. King of Pomeranians, last remaining Slavic ruler, accepted the true faith. Even son of schismatic king of Bulgaria accepted true faith, and it wasn't entirely unreasonable to expect Romuva king of Lithuania to do the same soon.

And now Henri's son Cristoforo, king of France, Aquitaine, Aragon, and Ireland, together with his cousin emperor Silvestro pushed against king of the Germans to depose the fake pope. In initial phase French armies got crushed without even weakening the Germans much, fortunately Roman reinforcements quickly changed the outcome. Hilariously, the fake emperor hired both holy orders, who just walked around the place unsure which side to really fight on.

Unfortunately it seems that deposing antipope kills the whole antipope system for next 50 years. So here go my hopes of getting Latium in any way whatsoever this century.

And unfortunately weakness of French king was taken advantage of by his treasonous vassals, and he lost kingdom of Aragon, duchy of Tlemcen, and some Irish counties to rebels and usurpers. That's why people don't generally jump from character to character - AI has truly remarkable ability to screw everything you worked for, even in the most ridiculously advantageous circumstances.

My sister vicereine Ausonia of Italy attacked my cousin king Cornelio of Galicia and duke of Lombardy, killing any chance of going true cognatic anytime soon. In a fun development my former lover Elvira, briefly queen of Galicia, decided to declare war on Cornelio as well. Requirement for vassals to be at peace is extremely annoying, especially since it doesn't even matter that I'm at medium crown authority and they're not supposed to be fighting. I get why the requirement is there, but it should only count your real vassals - not temporary rebel titles.

I assassinated my former lover, but that wasn't even close to ending fights between my vassals. That became my policy for dealing with rebellions unless they're between my family members. Sadly viceroy of Africa is fighting de jure war over county of Cyrenaica that's not ending anytime soon.

Waiting for them all to finish, I decided to intervene in Bulgarian civil war and incorporate Bulgaria back into the Empire.

Then I decided to go for a quick holy war for duchy of Alexandria, which I gave to one of my bastards from before I became a good family man. It was such a well organized operation.

Then I disbanded all vassal levies as I needed positive relations with every vassal in case they ever stop fighting for even one day so I change succession laws, and got duchy of Sevilla for one of my younger sons from Yazidis.

In fairly unfortunate event, the Hashshashin killed by landless cousin Elena. I think I'll need to crush them at some point, but they're located in some very remote places, not anything conveniently near Mediterranean coast.

My cousin Cristoforo, king of France, Aquitaine, Ireland, (and formerly) Aragon is stressed, incapable, and in ill health. My wife and lover Ide (she got over all the acknowledged bastards, I have 7 legitimate with her, and 3 bastard children with 3 different women) is in line to throne of France and Ireland (and would get Aragon as well if it didn't fall away). Unfortunately one of his sons will get Aquitaine.

If I managed to get true cognatic passed before Cristoforo dies, and grant my wife some lands, all French lands except Aquitaine would before parts of the empire immediately. The way it is now, Byzantine Empire will go to our son (confusingly also) Cristoforo, and French lands will go to our daughter Isabelle. I hope for at least one day without vassals fighting each other before I die.

Otherwise I can just switch to my wife by console and designate one of our sons as heir to everything. That's a reasonable backup plan in case vassals never stop fighting.

Or one of plots to kill my wife could succeed before king Cristoforo dies, then I think my wife's brother Henri gets France, and my children don't even get a claim. She shouldn't die naturally on her own, she's depressed, but she's just 36 and her father is 56.

Oh and there's Shia jihad on Aragon. I don't even care if they win or not - they wouldn't be able to defend territory that distant from Christian counterattack. The only downside of their victory is if the pope decides to call crusade for it instead of Jerusalem or Egypt, wasting another one.

Nice landing while Caliph was fighting rebels in Abyssinia

Post 15 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-01 04:27:42 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 15: 1149-1156: Future for Isabelle

To restore the Roman Empire I need full control over 14 duchies. I got 7 of them:

• Venice
• Ferrara
• Genoa
• Capua
• Thrane
• Alexandria
• Athens

And I need to get the other 7:

• Tunis - half Byzantine, half French
• Antioch - half controlled, will holy war
• Jerusalem - lost to jihad, I prefer to take some nearby duchies as well first to connect it all
• Sicily - one barony held by Knights Hospitaller
• Apulia - one barony held by Knights Templar
• Croatia - ne barony held by Knights Templar
• Latium - can't really get it without antipope

I have an option to expel holy orders, but I still hope a Frenchman will inherit them (currently Breton and Hungarian), and maybe, just maybe, they'll vassalize peacefully.

I got Andalusian sultan killed, and declared war on his son before garrisons even started replenishing.

My wife inherited France and Ireland, and her brother Henri inherited Aquitaine.

I wanted to make sure papacy won't de jure drift out of Italy, so I pressed some woman's claim on one of its counties. She should become my vassal afterwards as that's de jure Italy. For that matter I should be able to press my sister's de jure claims to it anyway. Sadly that didn't happen, she rejected diplovassalization, and accepted one by the pope instead. Simply infuriating.

Some woman inherited Aragon, and king Henri of Aquitaine tried to push his claim on Aragon, which should rightfully belong to my wife anyway, it's true cognatic so pushing claims because he's a man is dumb, and she was even helping him. Not going to happen, I'll just press my cousin's Onfroy's claim since a war is ongoing. That made me hostile to my wife, but we're still totally +100 in love.

I switched from family focus to intrigue focus - apparently I can't spy on anyone outside my realm, and these are my favorite targets. Oh well, let's see what king of Serbia has to hide (he has 2 viceroyalties granted by me, but created a feudal kingdom for himself as well, I don't think it's legal).

That uncovered nothing, so instead I spied on duke of Thracesia. I uncovered his plot, arrested him, but he just went to jail instead of rebelling. That was awkward as if I released him he'd still be really angry at me. Fine, I'll just illegally revoke your duchy, -20 to every vassal, big deal. It's supposed to be a minor viceroyalty anyway, no idea how it got to be a feudal duchy.

Some idiots formed a faction for my weak claim to rule France against my wife, and presented her with an ultimatum... Come on now... Obviously I joined her side against my own claim. Even if I won I'd just give it back to her.

Then my uncle declared his war for his claim to France. And some idiots declared independence revolt.

For some stupid reason after my uncle died in the middle of his stupid rebellion, his duchy was all inherited by king Henri of Aquitaine, not by my wife.

Finally when independence rebellion against my wife was at 99%, and my vassals were at peace... Obviously king of Hungary would pick that time to revoke something from one of his dukes fucking everything up again. I assassinated that duke invalidating his war, and then changed everything to true cognatic.

Then I wanted to give Isabelle some land so nothing dumb happens... and game decided to fuck up and would disallow me from doing that, because gavelkind. I specifically decided to enable heir designation for all religions to disable this bullshit, but heir designation does not work for a title with born in purple. Fuck you game. If it's broken, I'll just switch to primogeniture by console.

Seriously, gavelkind is such shit. It's bugged as hell, and it has those completely retarded limitations on top of that, and even 30% demesne size bonus is bugged and rounded down from number other than final one, so it's really closer to 10%.

And now Isabelle she's outraged by succession law change, from one where she was heir to one where she's heir. But she got Sicily so she can live with it.

A lot of people are upset by succession law change, vassal levies raised, female heir, and so on. They can all go to hell.

On the picture you can see a girl whose realm will make emperor Justinian jealous in heaven. But it will probably be one of her children, not her who's going to restore the Roman Empire.

Post 16 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-01 07:51:39 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 16: 1156-1163: Debugging the game while Jerusalem burns

A group of loyalists declared rebellion for my rule over Aquitaine, which is something I can definitely support. I didn't even know I can ask such rebellion to join them. Aquitaine exhausted after their recent unsuccessful attempt at conquering Aragon had very little chance of resisting.

A simultaneous problem was dealing with my vassals, who were really really angry at me. Here's just some sampling of their baseless complaints:

• -10 female heir
• -20 revoked vassal titles
• -40 upset
• -10 imperial administration
• -10 medium crown authority
• -8 foreigner
• -10 known murderer
• -5 primogeniture succession
• -26 feudal opinion of granted viceroyalties
• -62 raised levies
• -5 lover's pox

How silly is all that? Obviously not all on same person. Women were less of a problem, -5 to attractiveness from lover's pox was completely overwhelmed by +30 attractive +30 seducer and lack of -10 for female heir.

I was fighting slow war for Aquitaine, and helping my wife with yet another rebellion, when pope called for another crusade for Jerusalem. Good idea, poor timing.

Anyway, the game bugged the fucked out again:

• duke of Poitou's faction war against king of Aquitaine for my claim was at 100%
• count of Forez declared another war for Aquitaine, being hostile to the duke
• some countess declared claim war on the duke
• she occupied some of duke's holdings
• duke couldn't sent offer, king couldn't surrender, even with console, because of those dumb occupations that had nothing whatsoever to do with anything
• I couldn't offer to join duke's other war
• I wasn't hostile to the count or the countess
• oh and the count was somehow on same side as me in my wife's fight against her rebels...

So I had to wait for my wife's war to end before I'd become hostile to that damn count, all while caliph was winning the crusade.

Then once that happened, my wife called me into another one of her wars - some host for Brittany, which I couldn't refuse, but it made me not hostile with that fucking count again. Well, time to rush my armies and kill that fucking host as fast as possible. OK, done, I'm finally hostile to count of Forez. I could at least occupy count of Forez's castle, but none of baronies of his vassals... Like seriously, this game is bugged as hell.

That of course meant absolutely nothing as far as countess's war was concerned - I wasn't even tiniest bit hostile to her, even though she was blocking my kingdom.

OK, it's been going like that for like 5+ years already, it will probably only end when someone dies. Actually, it took painful time for that occupation of Poitiers to tick up - after that I got Aquitaine same day. And I inherited 70% war against count of Forez too.

For last few years of that I just had 10k merc stack on patrol duty to make sure war stays at 100%, while I went on serious crusading.

Isabelle inherited throne of France, but even though she was a landed vassal under me, she took Sicily and got away. I don't even know if that's a bug or not. Her first action was attacking king of England, who's stronger than her, over county claim of her courtier who won't even become her vassal if that wins. AI is so dumb.

I needed another wife, so I married princess Kera of Yazidi sultanate of Anatolia. She's cute at least.

Crusade for Jerusalem was won thanks to my forces - it had not tiniest chances otherwise - and of course the title went to king of Navarra as they still had weak claim from previous crusade. That makes it much harder to get control over duchy of Jerusalem than if I simply let it fail. Oh and I even killed the caliph.

If I manage to die somehow, my daughter will inherit the empire and she'll be able to move much further towards restoration of Roman Empire.

Sadly if I don't die soon, then whichever character I decide to play, the other one will probably lose half their realm to AI dumb.

At least a Frenchman got elected as grandmaster of Knights Templar, and they accepted vassalization peacefully. It seems that heir of current grandmaster of Knights Hospitaller is a Frenchman as well, my nephew in fact, so there's some hope. There's also Bekhashi Order in Tunis I need to crush.

Oh and queen Matilda of Castille got Ireland somehow. It got switched to seniority succession. Why? AI does not need a why.

Post 17 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-02 10:55:08 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 17: 1163-1173: Rulership focus - not just free depression

I switched to rulership bonus waiting to hopefully get depressed, and passed time with some easy wars like:

• Shia Caliph of Egypt (who's normally very strong, but got really crushed by the crusade)
• Yazidi sultan of Anatolia (who's related enough to my new wife for prestige bonus on wedding day, but not enough to be considered by ally)
• my Hungarian cousin Judith, duches of Tlemcen, who ought to be vassal of France, but somehow got out during rebellions
• county of Crimea for nicer borders
• barony in Tunis duchy held by Sunni holy order, I need 100% control over that duchy for Roman restoration

Strangely instead of getting depressed I got +1 stewardship, ambitious (then lost it to "I have trumped everyone and am the best Emperor ever!" event), just, upgraded my education from level 3 to level 4. What the hell is going on?

Weirdly my wife won her amazingly stupid war against England, and that countess then lost her title anyway.

Well, next round of wars:

• duchy of Aragon (which happened to go independent instead of becoming my vassal beacuse I'm not his de jure liege, my cousin is, it's seriously just a bug, but I don't care much, fragmenting them is somewhat useful too)
• some hard to pronounce county in Ireland
• one county in Andalucia (which I setup as viceroyalty for one of my sons)

Ridiculously, king of Navarra gave Jerusalem to some bishop, so now every single county there is a bishopric. Please someone jihad that ugliness.

Some host with 30k event spawned troops declared war on me. Well, 30k is not all that much, especially if he can transport 10k at once only.

My cousin Benvenuto, former king of Poland who cowardly accepted faction demands lost his craven trait and gave it another try, which I supported with overwhelming force. Of course he immediately got a faction against him, but at least he's fighting not giving up.

I decided to do some fun spying, and I ended up with king of Bulgaria and duke of Burgundy rebelling. That's good except my daughter suffered another attack of AI retard disorder and attacked duke of Burgundy over de jure county claim, completely oblivious to the fact the she's going to inherit the whole fucking Byzantine Empire including all of Burgundy. And of course by attacking my rebelling vassal she became hostile to me.

The dumb thing was that I couldn't fight France, because if I crushed her armies then her vassals would wreck her. Fucking game. I guess I should have called her into my war before she did anything dumb like this.

Right now the main problem I have is 30k host troops attacking duchy of Derbent, which is awkwardly located pretty deep inland.

Jerusalem fell, and without even a Jihad. I think that was Seljuk's cheaty tribal invasion CB, which they're now trying to use on Egypt, and they'll probably unite most of Muslim lands this way. Standard 0% decadence any expanding Muslim blob has. Is there any mechanic which could possible break a blob like that? Pecking at them with duchy level holy wars once a decade seems fairly pointless, and Muslims are pretty much immune to succession problems.

Salians finally lost HRE to some obscure Udonen dynasty of dukes of Luxembourg. Catholicism is doing extremely well.

Over 10 years of attempting to assassinate grandmaster of Knights Hospitaller all failed so far, but I'll have to continue until they get a Frenchman in charge, so I'll be able to vassalize them.

Roman restoration progress is 9/14. I don't expect it before early 1200s.

Post 18 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-03 04:18:01 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 18: 1173-1179: Ascension of Empress Isabelle

All Muslims of North Africa, Iberia, and Sicily got crushed. King of Mali was Yazidi and his worthless realm was fragmented between infighting Yazidis, Sunnis, and West African pagans.

Fatimid Shia Caliph and Sultan of Egypt and Arabia turned out to be fairly weak, even if he was fairly successful at suppressing revolts against himself. Pope and various Christian monarchs including king of the Germans were somewhat annoying in their independence from the Roman Empire, but that wasn't a terribly urgent task.

The Seljuks on the other hand... Sultan Turhan got himself 5 king level titles - Persia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Turkestan, and Khiva, controlled all territories of kingdom of Jerusalem, and was trying to invade Egypt. And mid-war he recreated Sunni Sultanate, which lapsed 1140-1175 after last Abbasid caliph lost his title, somehow (even thought he lived until 1170).

Oh and somehow, my kinsman Jacques viceroy of Africa became Sunni, presumably to get 4 wives in addition to making bastards left and right. Fortunately he obeyed simple request to stop this silliness.

I never thought I'd defend the Shia Caliph, but time came for that. Holy war for duchy of Ascalon. Interestingly Sultan decided to surrender without any fight except one tiny battle counting for 1.2% warscore. That should seriously give him a "craven" trait. Oh wait, he actually is craven. Well, that explains a lot. Anyway, not a chance.

Sadly I had to split my army in half to simultaneously protect Egypt and deal with dumb 30k host attacking Derbent, and my armies took some beating while fighting the caliph. I fucking hate 30k hosts - only Byzantine Empire, Seljuk Sultan, and king of the Germans have more troops than that and they just magically spawn in the middle of nowhere, attrition free.

Well, many battles later Seljuk invaders got reduced from 50k to 20k, but it also cost me tons of my own troops, which is really annoying considering all the traitors I have as vassals.

And of course I got a peasant rebellion in North Africa. I really dislike this permanent +2% different culture group rebellion risk in every province, -1% crushed revolt doesn't stack and culture conversion is really slow except for a few scripted transitions, so you'll be at 1% per province forever. It's so wonderful how EU4 finally fixed that "1% everywhere forever" problem a few patches ago.

And my daughter got attacked my king of the Germans in de jure war over county of Hainaut - something he wouldn't dare to do if game didn't bug out and kept her as my vassal when she inherited France, but what's one county compared to fate of Egypt and Jerusalem. Sadly Isabelle already borrowed money from Jews and Templars, probably for her ridiculous war against king of England (which to be fair, she won, but that was 100% pointless anyway).

Well, since I'm fighting to defend Egypt, and I already hold 2/5 duchies in it, how about I take advantage of my recent truce with Shia Caliph ending to geth 3rd?

By the way, attacking someone to weaken them extremely does not work in CK2, all vassals get +75 "defending vs infidels" opinion of them. It stabilizes their realm, weirdly. And even with people of different religion they get +50 "defenting vs foreigners". Weirdly even people of same culture as attacker get that, which is really a bug.

Well, Seljuk Caliph gets it but his family members don't, so I can always try making sure the whole realm falls in hands of some baby.

And I ended up with massive independence revolt by kings/viceroys of Georgia (married matrilineally to my daughter and heir Isabelle, so he's basically revolting against his wife), Hungary, Croatia, Italy, Ireland, Andalusia, Castile, Cyprus, as well as a bunch of dukes and doges. At least they had decency to wait for end of my wars against the two caliphs.

Due to bug (can you see the pattern here?) with rebels, one occupation got transferred to rebel alliance and I started at -21% warscore. Oh well. Here's a puzzle - who's better at microing a large scale naval combat, me or AI?

Anyway, in the middle of this revolt emperor Silvestro died at old age of 73, leaving his empire to his daughter empress Isabelle. That's an awkward transition of power, but I'm sure she'll do just fine.

Post 19 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-03 07:36:27 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 19: 1179-1184: Third Christian reconquest of Jerusalem

Isabelle's awkward problem was that leader of the revolt was her husband. At least crushing the rebellion was fast, it took much longer to micro titles. Sadly very low demesne and vassal limits and severe penalties for going over them no longer allow delaying such choices.

All republican vassals and my two viceroy brothers got away just paying money for their treason. Everybody else - especially feudal vassal kings - got banished and all their titles and money seized.

After the war, king level or otherwise powerful vassals were:

• Brother Cristoforo, viceroy of Italy (former rebel)
• Brother Guillaume, viceroy of Aquitaine
• Brother Herbert, viceroy of Andalusia (former rebel)
• Kinsman Jacquies, viceroy of Africa
• Kinswoman Peronelle, vicereine of Mauretania
• Son Guiges, viceroy of Sicily and Calabria, heir to the empire (probably will get viceroyalny of Sicily at some point)
• Son Foulques, viceroy of Hungary
• (some random Frenchman) viceroy of Cyprus
• (some random Catalan woman) queen of Aragon and vicereine of Castille
• (some random Frenchman) viceroy of Georgia
• daughter Eve, vicereine of France
• nephew Henri, viceroy of Armenia
• kinsman Berardo, king of Galicia
• niece Stephanie, vicereine of Bulgaria
• (some random Serbian) king of Serbia
• kinsman Angelbert, viceroy of Croatia
• half-sister Melisandre, vicereine of Ireland
• king-level ecumenical patriarch, probably feeling silly with Catholics all over him

In one rebellion the empire changed character from appointed core and feudal periphery to largely imperial, at least at kingdom level, at duchy level it's still more mixed.

Oh well, no time to lose, succession ended truce timers, so:

• holy war against Fatimid Shia Caliph on Cairo
• holy war against Seljuk Sunni Caliph on Jerusalem
• claim kingdom of Leon for count of Toledo
• claim kingdom of Portugal for some random courtier
• continuing some random courtier's claim on duchy of Pecheneg
• continuing defense of Hainaut against king of the Germans

Slowing down? I don't understand the concept. And I don't even really care if I end up losing war against the Germans, +50 defending vs foreigners is a nice bonus to keep for a while.

The only one of these wars which was both dangerous and high stakes was one for Jerusalem.

Oh yeah, and I owed some money to Jews and Templars. Jews got expelled of course, Templars I'm not sure how to repay.

All the wars except the one with Germans which I ended up white peacing were victorious, and I even usurped kingdom of Navarra as it was a joke as an OPM (some mods make you automatically lose your top level title if you get too tiny).

Still needed for Roman Restoration: Latium (antipope), parts of Antioch (holy war), and baronies in Sicily and Croatia (vassalizing or expelling holy order). It will probably be done somewhere around 1200.

I randomly have one county in Norway due to some vassal inheritance silliness.

My kinsman is ruling Poland, but I don't really have any plans to incorporate that into Roman Empire.

Justinian is so jelly

Religious situation is extremely clear

Post 20 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-04 14:26:15 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 20: 1184-1192: Empress Isabelle, Defender of the Faith

I changed my focus to scholarship - this time building observatory to study the weird, not the stars. I acquired Necronomicon, and became a lunatic or so they say. It was totally worth it, I got tons of cultural tech points for it.

I did some border tidying - finishing off leftovers of Africa, Iberia, and Wallachia, usurping kingdom of Egypt from Shia Caliph, and using retract vassal function to deal with some nasty cases.

Viceroy of Wallachia pushed some of his claims, and I gave him viceroyalty over newly conquered Taurica as well.

Shia Caliph did not like that so he decided to declare jihad for Egypt. Attacking Roman Empire at its full power is a dumb idea, but then the Caliph is probably a bit butthurt about being a sultan of Egypt not so long ago. The Jihad obviously failed, but it was much harder than I expected - mostly due to attrition risk of going away from the coast. They never sieged even one holding successfully and only won one battle which I miscalculated, but I couldn't just rush it, so it took a while.

Of course as soon as that ended I immediately counterattacked both Caliphs - Shia Caliph (decadence 43%) for duchy of Aswan, to finish liberation of Egypt, and Sunni Caliph (decadence 58%) for duchy of Galilee to restore viceroyalty of Jerusalem - and to have full control over the coastline.

I murdered like 10 different candidates for Grantmaster of Knights Hospitaller hoping for a Frenchman, but no luck whatsoever. Once I got heir to be French, killed Grandmaster... and I got Occitan anyway, so now I believe the interface lies for holy order heirs. Well, time to kill one grandmaster after another until I get that damn Frenchman... And then turns out once I created kingdom of Jerusalem I can do that at press of a button for 500 gold. Yeah... many lives would have been saved if you told me that earlier game.

Shia Caliph died soon after surrendering, so I immediately continued against his son. Awkwardly that moment was used by Sunni Caliph to declare his own jihad against Jerusalem. Why they can do 2 jihads but we only get to do 1 crusade, and most of them against really really dumb targets?

And then, while fighting two caliphs, empress Isabelle died at age of 62, leaving the empire to her oldest son Guiges.

Post 21 - Originally published on Google+ on 2015-06-04 17:25:44 UTC

CrusaderPop: Part 21: 1192-1198: Empreror Guiges the Glorious, Restorer of Rome

Roman Emperor Guiges ascended at age of 38.

He never remarried after death of his first wife 17 years ago (seriously game, if I don't babysit every character, are they going to do shit that dumb?), and had only one son. Annoyingly a lot of bastards I made were secret - I'm not sure if that's totally random or mother decides if she wants to ask me to acklowledge / legitimize the bastard or pass it as her husband's.

I got an interesting message telling me that the Necronomicon was stolen from my mother's library. Maybe I should switch to scholarship focus and get it back someday. But it's seduction time first, I need more children just in case something happens to Humbert.

Oh and I apparently inherited "Owes 300 gold to the Knights Templar" from my mother, and I have no idea whatsoever how the fuck to repay that.

Fighting two caliphs and jihadi swarms was much more painful than I expected - I didn't do the usual next day counterattack, as with levies depleted that much I wasn't sure if my vassals won't take this as opportunity to rebel.

Anyway, the Pope called for crusade on Suomi... Well, I guess I sort of took all more obvious targets already. I joined it just for sake of crusader trait. Crusade succeeded, with some local Finnish  continuing the pattern of Catholicism crushing everything.

Oh yeah, the pope. How many times did he refuse the obvious request of swearing traditional oath of fealty to emperor of Rome? It's time to make sure somebody more reasonable is going to be the pope now. And I have no intention of letting this conflict stew for decades, same day declaration.

War started 5 September 1196, 7 November pope Victor III died in battle against emperor's army and was replaced by Anastasius IV, by 8 December it was all over.

There was one remaining problem - since county of Archa in duchy of Antioch which was already 2/3 controlled by us, but somehow was absolutely essential to claim to be restored Roman Empire.

And even that was not enough as Hashshashin set a castle in Archa. Also another one in Farama in Sinai that I overlooked - the game really needs damn CB list in ledger or some other way to see things like county claims.

I took two castles they held within my territory, and without waiting for ticking warscore I just sent my armies to Mecca and Dailam where their other two castles stood.

And I think it's time to finish the series here. I can either continue with the glorious purple blob, but I've done that tons of time already, or switch to another character and watch AI fuck up the glorious purple blob, something I have no heart to do.

My views on 10 focuses:

• seduction - both in one night stand mode and polyamory mode, as both genders, my default mode
• intrigue - that's strangely ridiculously good at vassal management - you can spy on vassals to uncover their plots and either blackmail them to stay out of factions or expose and get reason to arrest them

• hunting - never tried
• war - never tried

• business - fun random event chain
• rulership - I tried that in a quick test game and got instant free depression (which lets you commit suicide and control timing of succession, so it's a good trait in CK2), I tried it here, and I got one awesome trait after another

• family - arranges friendships and relation bonuses between family members, really good for helping smooth succession in realm where dynasty members are major vassals like what I usually do (for roleplaying really)
• carousing - never tried

• scholarship - one event chain with two branches (stars and weird), fun to try
• theology - never tried, but I can totally see the point of pilgrimages

Family and seduction give fertility bonuses, which can be extremely useful. Family and weirdly hunting give health bonuses, which could be useful too.

It's a really nice addition.

As for Catholicism game - non-vassal pope was worthless, and therefore cardinals were worthless too. He has positive opinion of pretty much every Catholic on the map - well, not literally, but there's only mapmode of what people think of given character like pope, no mapmode what that characters thinks of other people and I almost never found a charecter pope dislikes I could get claim on - and positive opinion means he'd never excommunicate anyone or give you claim on them. You can get money or divorce sometimes.

Antipope and vassal pope are much more powerful options, but restricted to just empire-level Catholics, which in regular start are none except HRE, which I refuse to play after previous inheritance clusterfuck due to mixed succession laws. Sure, you can make your own or take over and religion flip Byzantine Empire, but that gets you so far towards global domination getting some duchy claims more easily becomes a really minor deal.

Attrition system recent patches got is absolutely awful - AI can't do that, and for player it's tedious micro that's doable only if your war fits your screen, or all wars are coastal.

As for modding:
• Being able to banish rebels makes the game drastically more enjoyable.
• Increasing gavelkind demesne size bonus from 30% to 50% made it less ridiculously bad, if you're willing to excuse the bugs
• Absolute cognatic is fun - especially the part where you can grant land to women. If there was a way to mod agnatic-cognatic so you can still grant land to daughters (but your sons inherit first), that would be really good combination, but I don't see any way.
• Heir designation is definitely fun. In theory it could be abused, but it just feels more reasonable. At least gavelkind should have it always.
• Intermarriages between religious groups, reduced wrong government penalties, allowing any % temple/city vassals, allowing pagans to go feudal/republican etc. never really mattered.

As for realm stability, even with retinue and merc nerfs, everyone is ridiculously stable since they added temporary rebel titles. It's still a good idea to keep some spare cast for mercs.

Now with bigger font size

Rome Restored!