May 22, 2017

CKII: We got the empire

He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
- Job 26:7

Last time, we followed the kingdom of Suomi through the transition from tribal to feudal rule and primogeniture, and the terrifyingly long reign of mad king Susi. When his oldest son Tommo finally succeeded to the throne in 1166, this is what the world around him looked like:

To the south, our old enemies, the Ruthenians, have fallen to the Islamic conquests and been replaced by the Justanid shahdom. France, by the way, is also currently part of the Islamic empire of Hispania. To the west, our conquest of Sweden continues. With our annexation of Gotland, it's high time we took some steps to secure a better income by founding a merchant republic of our own.

Gotland is an ideal place for a vassal republic because it's a one-county titular duchy, meaning that its holder will have no claims on others and vice versa.

Granting that titular duchy to the mayor of Visby creates a merchant republic under our rule. They'll start founding trading posts and making money, providing us with tax revenue and improving the economy of our coastal provinces.

Meanwhile, our increasing prestige and the fact that we hold the kingdom of Sápmi has finally persuaded the chiefs of Kola to submit to our rule.

Finally, our long conquest of Sweden was succesful; the kingdom title was extinct, and we held enough of its de jure lands to recreate it.

The war for Sweden was the toughest campaign we fought, thanks in no small part to the Christian military orders and their heavy cavalry. Combat in Crusader Kings II is slightly esoteric, and to be honest, I've never been bothered to really figure out how it works exactly. Basically all you can do as a player without getting into the nitty-gritty of it is to try to find generals with high Martial attributes and put them in charge, and build improvements in your demesne provinces that provide better troops. One of the disadvantages of being a tribal ruler was that your armies were mostly light infantry; as a feudal ruler, you can start building improvements that provide heavy infantry, who will pretty much make mincemeat of light infantry unless they're massively outnumbered. Even tougher and harder to get than heavy infantry is heavy cavalry, and while I barely had any at all, the Christian military orders had huge heavy cavalry contingents. Because the Christian Swedes could hire them for free while defending against pagans (i.e. us), conquering Scandinavia was tough.

By comparison, expanding eastward against the pagans and their light infantry was much easier, and soon we added a fifth kingdom title.

The reason holding these kingdom titles is significant is because we're using the Charlemagne expansion and creating our own custom empire. Because it has no de jure lands that go with it, all the kingdom titles I hold will be transferred away from their respective de jure empires into the new Empire of Suomi. So, here goes:

Et voilá: King Tommo has crowned himself Emperor Tommo I of Suomi. Our imperial domain now stretches from the North Sea to the Urals.

In the meantime, the high priest of Suomenusko came up with another holy war.

Eh, I thought, why not, we'll get a bunch of our guys the holy warrior trait.

Wait, what?

So, it's 1286 and the Empire of Suomi is secure. I've now pretty much fulfilled all the objectives I set out to achieve, and in fact exceeded my territorial ambitions with the surprise conquest of Volga Bulgaria. All that remains is to survive until 1453. With both the massive Mongol Empire as well as Byzantium right on my doorstep, this is by no means a done deal. The scattered Catholic kingdoms in the west are also a threat because of those damn military orders. I almost wish I had Sunset Invasion! Boringly, the safe thing to do would seem to be to rest on my laurels and mind my own business until time runs out. We'll see if I can't think of something more interesting.

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