Tobold's Blog
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Would you recommend Crusader Kings 3 to a tourist?

As this blog is mostly about games, I rarely mention my day job. But I do have a full-time job, and thus in an average week I spend more hours working than I spend playing games. Furthermore, on weekdays, I can only play in the evenings, after a full day at work. Which means that sometimes I am quite tired, and don't really have the energy to play something extremely complex or demanding.

Crusader Kings III was released earlier this month by Paradox. It has a 91% score on Metacritic, so I assume that it is a very good game. However, Paradox games in general scare me. I tried some of the earlier ones, and frequently ended up completely lost. A million different options and possibilities, and me scratching my head and having no clue what I was supposed to be doing. As a consequence I own only a few Paradox games, and I either played them very shortly and gave up, or didn't even dare to start. Basically, due to my day job, games that take a huge amount of effort to even understand the basics of don't really fit my life. I need mostly games that I can play as a tourist, having a bit of fun without a whole lot of investment. And usually Paradox doesn't make games like that.

Now the inaccessibility of Paradox tends to be reflected in the review scores. Thus the 91% score of Crusader Kings III suggests to me, that it is a bit more accessible than let's say Europa Universalis III (which I own on Steam and never started playing) with its 83% score. Furthermore over the last decade or so, learning how to play a game has become somewhat easier in general, because of YouTube. Complex games attract a lot of content creators making how-to video guides, which often are a big help compared to trying to figure a game out by yourself.

So now I am wondering whether I should take the plunge and try to play Crusader Kings 3. Is it even possible to play this "as a tourist", in some sort of "easy mode", without quickly becoming totally overwhelmed? If you have an insight into this, I would love to hear your recommendation.

I don't know, because I haven't played it... BUT if you've got Xbox Gamepass for PC (And, let's be honest, if you like games, why haven't you?) it's on there so the investment of time (and money) is very minimal to try it out and see how you get on.

I know that's not the answer you're looking for, but it's the one I've got. And if you do get GamePass - give Spiritfarer a try, it's AMAZING!
Thanks a lot, @LazerFX, I didn't know the game was on Xbox Gamepass for PC. I should really have checked that first. Downloading now!

I would still appreciate comments from anybody who has already played the game.
I'm in the same boat as you (once spent 2 hours on the CK2 tutorial. Did not understand anything).

I follow @garius on twitter (the Brexit Tapes guy), and he's apparently a big CK fan. He said that CK3 is a lot more newbie friendly than CK2.

But then again, he did understand CK2.
In an unrelated note, while downloading Crusader Kings 3 from Xbox Game Pass for PC, I noticed that Star Renegades was also on the game pass. I noticed it because I had recently received a notification from Steam that Star Renegades is on my Steam wish list and had a small discount. Fortunately I hadn't reacted on that Steam message. Now I wish I had an app that checks my whole Steam wish list against availability on Xbox Game Pass for PC. I doubt that exists.
So as someone who plays a lot of Paradox games it is a lot more user friendly. In fact, my wife who is by no means a big strategy gamer is enjoying it just for all the relationship things that go on. It has a good tutorial to help you get started.
I found them hard to understand. I don't think the games are any more complex than games like Civilisation, really - it's just that they start in medias res (instead of building your own little city from scratch in the wilderness you start already interacting with AI players, with lots of mechanisms already operating). It makes the learning process harder, because in the Civ games you understand everything at least to some extent (maybe at some point Alexander comes along and mashes you, but you understood the things you learned, and also that next game you should build an army too.)
I recommend it.

Paradox games can be overwhelming due to their complexity, but they are forgiving on losses. A loss is almost never game over, just a setback.

Paradox games are sandbox games. There are no easy or hard modes. Difficulty is determined from your starting nation or dynasty and the goals you set for yourself. There are no win conditions, although the games do provide suggested goals, (e.g., form Italy). Most people don't play to the end of a game, which can take 40+ hours. They play until they get tired of it, then switch to another nation or dynasty. There is enough variation amongst nations or dynasties, as well as the RNG factor, to make replays fun.

One way I learned how to play Paradox games was by watching lets-play videos on youtube or Twitch. I recommend quill18. He does a good job at explaining the game as well as his reasoning why he makes strategic decisions.

One benefit in starting CK3 now is that its new. One problem with the older games, such as CK2 and EU4, is that they added so many expansions. Each expansion added some additional complexity. Eventually they became so complex that the games became daunting to new players.

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