YMMV / Crusader Kings

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: If you completely wipe out the Aztec Invasion in Sunset Invasion, then you will get a message stating that one day the nations of Europe will follow the Aztecs back to the Americas and repay them with interest. This implies that the upcoming decimation of the Aztec Civilizations in the Age of Discovery was a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The "Cadaver Synod" global event that pops up whenever a Pope with the "Wicked Priest" trait dies, in which his successor digs up his corpse and puts him on trial for his crimes posthumously, is sometimes assumed to be yet another of Paradox's tongue-in-cheek gags by new players — but the inspiration is entirely historical.
  • Anti-Sue: It is possible to create one of these with the character creator, and to use console commands to shift the plot in their favour.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: The Zoroastrian religion. A unique religion of a fallen empire, with fire-worshipping priests and the ability to bring its priesthood Back from the Brink and become a prophesied Messiah? No, as far as the fandom's concerned, it's the religion with the incest.
    • And with Rajas of India, we have an entirely new continent, new cultures, new Indian events and a potential for the early establishment of Hindustan. What does the fandom care about? The new Messalian heresy, which has incest and the worship of Lucifer as a god figure. To wit.
    • And to complete the trifecta, the most loved addition of Way of Life is not the new Focus system, nor the addition of new events specifically for roleplayers, but the ability for any character to seduce their sister. This was even mentioned specifically as a feature on the DLC release trailer.
  • Broken Base:
    • Sunset Invasion, a not-entirely-serious DLC focused on an Alternate History where the Aztecs invade Europe. Some loathe the concept, some like the idea of western Europe having an equivalent of the Mongols, others appreciate it as a potential countermeasure against the Moors, and some are content to buy the DLC and just deactivate it for certain campaigns.
    • It also happens with the some of the more recent Portraits DLC. The artist changed, and a big part of the community thinks the art comes off in poorer quality than before. Some people (keeping up with the recent fad in the forums of making petitions for everything) are petitioning the mods to redo the facepacks. The issue often descends into a Flame War.
    • The current trend of DLC expansions has players divided on how Paradox is treating previously implemented content, and if favorites are being played. The Old Gods was one such example, as discussion of favoritism being given towards the Norse due to the far greater degree of content and lack of pre-patch balance, with other pagan religions showing a far thinner amount of content. Critics have also argued the lack of post-expansion attention to various mechanics, despite players demanding attention, such as the Decadence system that was implemented with the Sword of Islam expansion.
      • The Horse Lords Content Pack deserves special mention, as it lumps together content of different natures (unit looks, portraits and music), and the individual components are not sold separately. This raises the ire of buyers who resent having to buy the whole package when they really only want one or two individual components.
    • Rajas of India breaks the base even further. The patch containing free content disrupted multiplayer capabilities, while the expansion of the map to include India meant that lower end computers who could play the game previously now struggle to do so, and Paradox's attempt to compress portraits to free up memory resulted in bugged portraits. These problems persisted for over three months after ROI's release.
    • Charlemagne continues the base breaking tradition. Several features in the DLC itself didn't work as planned, while the patch containing free content introduced new bugs. In addition, the fanbase is divided over the inclusion of "Zunist" pagans. It's either a fun exploration of a fascinating pre-Islamic faith in Afghanistan, or overly obscure add-on that no-one asked for, ignoring fan interest in adding content to existing religions and heresies such as Hellenismnote  or Yazidism. The earlier start date has also proven controversial, with detractors saying that the feudal system as present in the game did not exist that far back.
    • Way of Life introduced focuses, some of which (especially seduction for the adultery and business for the "free money" event) are viewed by a very vocal group of players as gamebreakers.
    • The free patch that will be included with Conclave (the DLC that will follow Horse Lords) is already being described as either the death or rebirth of Crusader Kings II, and it hasn't even been given a full changelog yet!
      • Now that the free patch is released, issues with shattered retreat and coalitions had been raised, and Paradox has promised to look into them.
    • A more subtle example is high quality player mods. Some players praised the developers of such mods for great improvements to the base game, and doing it essentially for free. Others think that Paradox has "gotten lazy" due to such mods, and are leaving bug fixes to such mod developers. To be fair, many modders have clearly indicated that there are some areas of the code which cannot be modified at the user's end, and thus require Paradox's attention to get things thrashed out. The counter point is that Paradox is opening up more parts of the code with each expansion.
  • Crack Is Cheaper: Though the base game's been out for a couple years by now, it's still listed on Steam at its original list price of ~$40. Since then, the series has steadily accumulated a mass of DLC expansions, none of which have yet been discounted themselves, so that to get the full functionality out of the game you'll have to spend well over $100... and that's before you get into the aesthetic unit and face packs. It's mitigated by the fact that the series goes on sale relatively frequently, but the price tag will only get worse as expansions continue to be developed.
    • Another mitigation is that many popular/high quality mods make use of assets from the expansion and/or portrait DLCs.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Plenty, but in particular:
  • Demonic Spiders: The Mongol Hordes. Huge numbers, with little or no attrition to speak of.
  • Ending Fatigue: It's entirely possible for a player who knows what they're doing to achieve their goals — up to and including World Conquest — well before the game ends. The rest of the game then becomes about protecting what you've already gained from being conquered or breaking under its own weight, which is usually not quite as compelling as the initial goal.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: The d'Hauteville family, the Norman rulers of southern Italy and later the kingdom of Sicily before their country was inherited by the Hohenstaufens, are a very popular choice among players, apparently. Reasons for this include a very convenient geographic position in the middle of the Mediterranean, proximity to both several small and easily conquerable nations of various religions which make it easy to expand your territory and the Papacy which makes for an interesting diplomatic partner, the absence of a Muslim superpower that tries to curb-stomp you from the get-go, and a huge number of (mostly male) family members convenient for both political marriages and diminishing the risk of interfamilial rivalry. They have basically lots of exploitable options in every aspect and don't start overpowered enough to make your achievements seem ordinary. The fact that it is reasonably easy to trump their real-life achievements certainly helps.
  • Genius Bonus: The blue-clad blond knight featured on the game's box art isn't some generic crusader, but Walter Scott's Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe himself: http://imgur.com/92J4u3Y
  • Goddamned Bats: The Old Gods adds raiders who will plunder your territory, then flee back onto their longboats before your army can get to them.
    • The Karlings largely owe their status as The Scrappy to being this in the 867 start. They aren't necessarily a threat, but they take up huge swathes of Europe and are very difficult to dislodge.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • The demo for the sequel restricted play to only four characters. However, almost imminently players found out they could play whichever character they wanted by picking a character from the demo list, then quickly clicking on a province on the map before the game loads - and play as the ruler of said province.
    • They also found out that the demo doesn't end twenty years later but specifically in 1086 and that if you set the start date at 0AD you could get 1086 years of playtime out of the demo. However, this screws up the triggers.
    • A bug in the release version of Rajas of India allowed men to become pregnant from homosexual couplings. There was much laughter. The eventual fix to this bug included checks to ensure the potential parent is actually female... though another overlooked loophole means that the "father" can also sometimes be female, so it's not entirely fixed yet.
    • A very particular bug with Greek characters had them continuously looking to see who they could blind and castrate in the world, leading to some very odd issues where left unchecked, Byzantine Emperors might go to war just so they could castrate somebody. This was also one of the main things leading to slowdowns, and has since been fixed.
  • Holy Shit Quotient: If "From Holy Kingdom to Unholy Nightmare" is any indication, Sons of Abraham does this for the second game. Having your children and heirs to your realms be the spawn of Satan (complete with insanly high stats) will do that for anyone.
  • Magnificent Bastard: What the player is aiming to be. Results may vary.
  • The Scrappy: The Karling dynastynote  in The Old Gods 867 start, who start with the powerful and prosperous kingdoms of East and West Francia,note  Italy, and Lotharingia (among others) within their realm. Due to the way alliance and title mechanics work in the game, they often hold onto their thrones much longer than they historically did, and any attempt to unseat one of them (or half the wars they get involved in at all, really) ends up dragging literally half of Europe into the fray. Charlemagne didn't improve matters, as certain deaths can result in a Karling blob of either the Empire of Francia or a Holy Roman Empire that includes France.
    • The Abbasids in the Charlemagne DLC's 769 start (and to a lesser degree in 867, where even the AI can easily restore their 769 borders). They start out owning a good sixth of the map as-is (Arabia, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia and Syria/Jerusalem) and Empires in-game tend to be much more stable than in real life, so most games started in that year end up with the 'Abbasid blob' locking down the entire Middle East for the rest of the game unless the player intentionally starts antagonising them. Unlike its historical counterparts, the Abbasids will laugh off the Seljuks and even halt the Mongols' advance into Europe.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Muslim players bear the brunt of the problems, but there are a few other instances of problematic design:
    • The Decadence system, which, while not necessarily a bad idea, means that in practice, Muslim players can see their entire dynasty collapse because they have one drunken second cousin, whose existence somehow brings enough shame on their house to trigger an invasion by fundamentalist desert tribesmen.
      • Eventually, Decadence was reworked such that only male relatives with the Decadent trait will actually add to the dynasty's decadence rating. Also, relatives with the trait who are imprisoned or not living in the realm do not contribute to the rating. Players can (and should) devise ways to throw such relatives into the dungeons or exile them.
    • The game also automates guardianship contracts for female Muslim characters, operating, apparently, under the assumption that anybody who plays as a Muslim won't care who mentors their daughter. Not only can this destroy one's immersion in the game (it's hard to stay in character, when the game decides your worst enemy would make a dandy mentor for your daughter and assigns her accordingly), but it can actually become a serious problem when the computer decides that it would like to reassign her to a new mentor, and, in the process, earns you a massive -30 "Lost a Ward" penalty with the old one. Worse yet, the game can then decide that this pattern worked out so well statistically, that it is going to repeat it exactly, earning you ever increasing negative penalties with her previous mentors. Finally, it only gives Muslim players access to one kind of succession, which aside from being historically inaccurate (not all Muslims are the Ottoman Empire), pretty much ensures a civil war after your heir takes the throne.
      • Again, with the decadence mechanic being reworked as noted above, it is entirely possible to land only one son, although landing male relatives with any title will reduce their chances of getting the Decadent trait. In addition, the automated guardianship process for Muslim girls has been fixed. The devs probably noted that assigning guardians for girls can raise the guardian's opinion towards the father-ruler.
    • Adventurers, introduced in the Old Gods DLC, randomly lets characters gather a host to assault a realm they have a claim on, or which follows a heathen religion. Adventurers automatically scale with the realm they assault no matter how little sense that would make, making it perfectly possible for a pre-christianised Finland to produce a 50,000 man army out of nowhere to attack your Frankish Empire or for one of your courtiers to go adventurer and form a 20,000 man expedition to take your kingdom... from inside your own capital. Worse yet is that adventurers are treated as non-rebellious and saddle you with tyranny, dishonourable or kinslayer penalties for dealing with them (clearly, arresting your son-in-law for openly declaring the overthrow of your realm from inside your own court is the mark of a tyrant) and leave you at the mercy of the RNG.note  Removing the diplomatic assassinate option just made this mechanic even more annoying.
    • The tribal transition to feudalism or republicanism is a real thorn in the side of pagan players. Reforming a tribe into a more advanced form of government is expensive and time-consuming at the best of times, but pagans can't reform their government without first reforming their faith. The AI almost never does this on its own. This means that pagan players have to conquer essentially an empire-sized realm first, since it's impossible to reform pagan religions without controlling at least three holy sites. Pagans by design have great difficulty holding a large realm together, and given that the realm is militarily gutted immediately after the transition, it leaves the fledgling kingdom defenseless before surrounding states who would ''really'' like to get back at you for a few decades of continual raiding — which, incidentally, is the only way tribal states can support their economy.
      • This transition got so painful that Paradox eventually streamlined it; you now only need a single fully decked-out holding in your capital to turn your entire demesne feudal/republican, and your vassals can switch governments for free (and usually will very quickly as long as they like you). While this makes the process much quicker and cheaper than before, it's still painful for pagans and leaves your realm vulnerable.
    • Gavelkind inheritance. For the uninitiated, this inheritance law means that your senior heir gets the current ruler's primary title and capital holding on succession, while they compete with their brothers and / or sisters (depending on gender inheritance laws) to parcel out the remainder amongst themselves. Despite gavelkind being present from the earliest versions of the game, no one has managed to work out what sort of logic the game uses to parcel out the titles, which typically happens in such a way as to ensure very fragmented, disjointed, and aesthetically unappealing territorial splits. While it's moderately effective at keeping AI realms split, most players hate it for the chaotic results it produces and try to switch to something else at the first available opportunity.
      • The trick to managing gavelkind succession is something of a Violation of Common Sense. You must be willing to parcel out titles to your junior heirs voluntarily, as opposed to the arbitrary distribution done by the AI. On top of that, you should aim to have only 1 title at the highest tier (e.g. not holding multiple kingdoms as a king or multiple empires as an emperor), which does reduce the amount of prestige you get from such titles. However, it would ensure that your heirs will not become independent of the primary one. Elective gavelkind further complicates this by forming same-tier titles whenever you control enough de jure land of said title, giving them to your heirs, and making them independent (e.g. if you are the king of Sweden and also control the de jure land of the kingdom of Denmark, even if you have not created the title, one of your heirs will become an independent king of Denmark). Also, all junior heirs have the option of going independent peacefully during succession.
    • The Seduction Focus. Not so much that you have the option of extramarital affairs, but rather that all the AI characters do and have no rhyme, reason or discretion in using it. AI seducers tend to eat up processing power and your patience jumping everything in sight including your spouses, your siblings, your children and your siblings' children's spouses and spreading STDs and bastards with your character having no way to stop it. The focus has been nerfed at least twice, and even then the only thing it's done is to make Chaste or even Homosexual the most valuable traits to look for in a spouse.
  • Spiritual Licensee: A Rock Paper Shotgun review of the second game calls it "the best Game of Thrones game you will probably ever play."
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: The original game, while it had its fans, was definitely a flawed game, with a Troubled Production and quite a lot of bugs. Crusader Kings II, on the other hand, has received by far the smoothest launch of any Paradox game to date, and received almost universal acclaim from the fans. Expansions like Sword of Islam, Legacy of Rome and The Old Gods have only served to make it even better.