Dec 28, 2015

CKII: End of a dynasty

Last time around, King Abbán II of Éire had united Ireland and was going on Crusade. We were eying expansion opportunities in Muslim Iberia and the tiny kingdom of Brittany. The Crusade went pretty much like second crusades do, nowhere, but it got us a bunch of people with the Crusader trait. Then, though, things changed. For starters, England collapsed:

I apologize for how dark the screenshots are; that's the in-game fog of war. If I zoom out further, it becomes difficult to discern anything either, and to be honest, I forgot how much darker the picture looks on a white blog background. Nonetheless, the grey provinces are where a separate Kingdom of Jerusalem split off from England, and the darker red ones are rebel provinces. We also got our man on the throne of Broërec, now Vannes:

Another direction for expansion I mentioned in the previous post was Iberia, and it did actually look promising; the Muslim kingdom of Andalusia was mired in almost constant wars with their neighbors and the Kingdom of Aquitaine was expanding at their expense, so I figured if I wanted a piece of the reconquista, now was the time! My chancellor fabricated a claim on Lisbon, and King Abbán II smashed the Andalusian armies.

So here it is: the Irish county of Lisboa, with my court chaplain hard at work converting the locals to Catholicism! Surprisingly, this conquest also let me establish the titular Kingdom of Portugal, which I didn't know.

Meanwhile, back at the demesne, we'd gotten our own man on the throne of Scotland, which promptly also collapsed into anarchy. We found it necessary to give our kinsman a hand with his subjects.

Here he is in his royal glory:

The downside of the Scottish accession was that the prince I handed Vannes to died childless, and it became a Scottish fief. Despite our repeated interventions, the civil wars just would not stop, both against the King of Scotland and among the dukes.

At one point, the realm actually split in two when one of the dukes managed to claim his independence. This provided us with an opportunity:


By now, King Abbán II had been succeeded by - believe it or not - Baron Domnall of Clondalkin, who reigned as King Domnall. He only held the throne for eight years before dying in combat; he was followed by his son Gabrán the Scholar. At this point, the portraits start to look different, because I bought some DLCs, namely the Celtic Portraits pack. For a massive 1.99€, it got me a selection of new character portraits, which was honestly well worth it as I was sick of looking at the same faces all the time! I also got the Celtic Unit Pack for the same price, but I didn't really feel it was worth it. The zoom level where you can actually see the various unit graphics properly is pretty much useless for actual gameplay.

While I was at it, I also picked up the Sons of Abraham expansion for, what, €9.99 or something. It's worth it just for the opportunity to borrow money from either the holy orders or the Jews, options I feel should've been in the game from the start. We ended up having at least one Templar barony in Ireland during this game, and one of my sons took holy orders on his own initiative.

Speaking of money and holy orders, King Gábran expanded our holdings in Portugal, with some unexpected pontifical help:

These are our continental holdings: the county of Roazhon, since Rennes, in Brittany, and the counties of Lisboa and Alcacér do Sal in Portugal. That ended up being as far as our Breton gambit ever went. At this point, the English territories on the continent have become the independent duchy of Normandy.

When England collapsed into another endless civil war, I decided to roll the dice and press a kinswoman's claim on the county of Teviotdale. It's a de jure part of Scotland that the King of England had taken off Artgus the Usurper in the chaos of his accession, but we had an heiress to install on its throne.

The campaign went all right.

Having taken Gwynedd off the independent Scottish duke, King Gabrán the Scholar added the Kingdom of Bhreatain Beagh, known as Wales in alternate timelines, to his titles.

When Gabrán was succeeded by King Brandub the Monk, England was still in total disarray, with Wessex part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and Gloucestershire a fief of Normandy. Brandub intervened to support one of our kinsmen in a civil war for the throne.

Shortly thereafter, a major opportunity opened up for King Brandub when the Pope called a crusade for Andalusia. There are basically two ways a holy war works in the game. If it's called in support of an existing realm, then all the territory taken over by the war is handed over to that realm's ruler. If, on the other hand, it's all infidels, then the party that makes the greatest contribution to the war gets the new realm and title. This is how the King of England managed to also become King of Jerusalem. With our existing power base in Portugal, we were in an excellent position to contribute, and damn near managed to add Andalusia to the Irish realm.

Unfortunately, the Duke of Toulouse beat us to it, and at the conclusion of an unusually succesful crusade, the Pope handed Andalusia over to Aquitaine.

Brandub the Monk's reign was also a low point for England, which split up into no less than six separate entities: York, East Anglia, Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, with the rump of the kingdom locked in a civil war.

While all this was going on, the Duke of Ulaidh launched his personal war to press a claim on the county of Epiddant.

Which he promptly won!

Down south, we took advantage of the confusion and conquered the three independent counties of England.

Shortly thereafter, Brandub was succeeded by his son Proinsias, who took advantage of the Pope's newfound enthusiasm for holy wars by going on a crusade to Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, crusades aren't just a handy way of getting a nice trait; it turns out they're also dangerous. Eleven years into his reign, Proinsias was killed in combat in the Holy Land. What made things worse was that if my previous post had ended in me worrying about how to possibly manage landing as many as eight children, later generations of the Ua Cheinnselaig dynasty suffered from no such problems. Both Domnall and Gabrán only had two sons; Brandub the Monk only had one, Proinsias, at the very end of his reign. Proinsias's son would accede to the throne as Brandub II, but only after a long regency. Proinsias's second son Eochaid was born after his death, and Proinsias's sister Siobhan immediately started plotting his demise. At this point, a couple of extra sons would have been worth just about anything.


Because we'd been suffering from a distinct lack of personnel, so to speak, I'd been trying to recruit some talented people and marry them into the family. A Jewish spymaster showed up at our court, for instance, and being a capable fellow I had him married matrilineally to one of the ladies of our dynasty, and put him in charge of Northamptonshire. He constantly plotted to secure his independence and actually made some of his vassals convert to Judaism, but the hope of a second Israel in Northampton was dashed when his son, of our dynasty due to the matrilineal marriage, took over and restored Catholicism and order. I'd also gotten another clever courtier married to a daughter of one of my vassals, and their son Ualan inherited the Genius trait from both parents. Help like this isn't easy to find, and since Brandub II's regency was going to take forever and I couldn't do anything myself, I made him Duke of Hwicce (or Gloucestershire in less enlightened times). He promptly pressed his de jure claim to Oxford on the King of England, and conquered Oxfordshire!

At this point, an unfortunate semblance of order was restored to England when Duke Matthew the Merry won the crown for House Lockhart, and his successor settled things down from the family headquarters in Chester.

Soon enough, though, King Brandub II reached maturity, the regency ended, and it was time to not only celebrate but ensure the loyalty of my vassals with a grand tournament.

And pretty much immediately after that, everything went straight to hell.


The fall was so fast and dramatic I honestly forgot to take screenshots. Another civil war started in England, and we took the opportunity to press the claim of one of my vassals to the duchy of Winchester. Unfortunately, they got the civil war wrapped up surprisingly quickly. Then, my kinsman (my kinsman!), the King of Scotland, went to war with us over Teviotdale and allied with the English. As all this was going on, King Brandub died of consumption, and was succeeded by his underage brother Eochaid. We lost the climactic battle for Teviotdale and had to hand it over to Scotland. At that point, Eochaid's aunt Siobhan's plan finally came together, and Eochaid was poisoned. On his death, Siobhan acceded to the throne, and literally everyone rebelled against her. What was worse, she was in her sixties, and her children weren't of our dynasty. That's game over.

With our demesne troops wiped out at Teviotdale and the treasury empty, we had no chance to defend ourselves, and Siobhan surrendered to the rebels. Her kinsmen took the royal titles, at least leaving the realm in Ua Cheinnselaig hands, but Siobhan ended up dying as the Duchess of Mide, succeeded by her son, Duke Osmund of the house of Godwin.

In the end, we lost Teviotdale, and the King of Scotland was rolling back the Duke of Ulster's claims. The rebels instituted lower crown authority, effectively reducing the Kingdom of Ireland to a bunch of squabbling duchies, with Wales in open rebellion.

Here it is: the end.

As you can see from the score breakdown, it was King Abbán II the Lionheart who really made this dynasty. King Brandub the Monk's reign was the high point, both in terms of prestige and territory, and his three successors all went to untimely deaths, and eventually the direct line died out, and the game was over.


I'm not going to lie: I was seriously bummed when Eochaid died. I spent a long time thinking about how it all went wrong, but in the end, it was just the sum of several coincidences outside my control. If Eochaid hadn't been assassinated, at least the realm wouldn't have collapsed completely, and maybe he'd have been able to have some children so it wouldn't have been game over at least. Usually when a kinsman or courtier starts a plot you become aware of, they'll stop it if you tell them to. Unfortunately, the bloody-minded Siobhan wouldn't, and she was safe at her husband's court in Devon so we couldn't throw her in prison. Brandub II tried to have her killed, but the plot didn't have time to succeed before his death ended it.

Maybe if Brandub II hadn't caught pneumonia, he would've eliminated Siobhan. Then again, if Proinsias hadn't got knocked on the head at Jerusalem... In the end, it's like Nethack: a succession of events happens that defeats your best-laid plans. Any one of them I could have survived. All of them in a row? No chance.

Honestly, I need a little time to get over this. Starting the game, my goal had been to unify Ireland for the first time and become king. That happened; not only did I become King of Ireland, but also of Wales and Portugal. We were even making good headway in England and Scotland, which might have eventually led to me becoming Emperor of Britannia. Unfortunately, due to a combination of small families, crusades, pneumonia and murderous aunts, it wasn't to be. Still, I exceeded my goals. Next time, I think I have to try something completely different to get over this.

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