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Rob Zacny

Episode 391: Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics

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Three Moves Ahead 391:

Three Moves Ahead 391


Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
The stranger's arrival coincided with omens that the villagers could not ignore. A calf born with two heads. Flocks of crows circling the village green silently as the night, their voices stolen. Men disappearing for days at a time in the woods only to return stupefied, gibbering of bright lights and fairy rings. That stranger's name? Fraser Brown. And he's here to host this week's show on the latest expansion for Crusader Kings II - Monks and Mystics. CK2 Superfan T.J. Hafer is also on hand to talk about satanic cults, taking care of inconvenient spouses, and whether or not we've all hit the DLC fatigue wall.

Crusader Kings II, Monks and Mystics

 

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Having listened to this I'm wanting to see a Paradox take on Solium Infernum.

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Too much paradox.  Surely there are some smaller, strategy games out there that deserve a little more coverage?

Could just be my bias showing through though since my only experience is with EU3 and I completely bounced off it. CK2 looks much the same,  an over-world, with a couple of large soldiers endlessly swinging at each other and the occasional detailed menu popping up from time to time.  If I need to imagine the experience to such a degree I would rather just read a history book.

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Came here to see if there was a new 3MA to listen to while I play Monks & Mystics, and yes there was!

 

If there's any one feature I'd love for a Crusader Kings 3, it's a better interface for browsing characters. The world map is a holdover from other war games focused on territorial conquest, which makes clicking provinces to find vassals and other characters overly fiddly. Having some kind of demesne view mode where you can see all of your vassals, family, councils, etc, in a kind of easy to navigate 2D web would be a step in the right direction I think.

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10 hours ago, Akalabeth said:

Too much paradox.  Surely there are some smaller, strategy games out there that deserve a little more coverage?

Could just be my bias showing through though since my only experience is with EU3 and I completely bounced off it. CK2 looks much the same,  an over-world, with a couple of large soldiers endlessly swinging at each other and the occasional detailed menu popping up from time to time.  If I need to imagine the experience to such a degree I would rather just read a history book.

 

I don't think the size of the developer has any bearing on how deserving a game is of discussion. I wanted to do a Monks & Mystics episode because it's what I've been playing and it's a fascinating expansion. That said, we have a monthly Patreon poll for this very reason - to find out what people want to hear us chat about!

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Good points on UI and expansions. We may hate the way Paradox are not exactly honest about the game being updated and playable even without expansions or the way feature creep is real - but still they update their games. Based on feedback! Other studious updated their games too. But, say, Amplitude had dumb UI/gameplay problems identified on alpha stage for every game and many of those problems still carry on as if devs do not actually play their own games that much. It took Paradox 5 years to update "Help me killing a character" plot message with actual link to a character you're asked to kill - but they got there.

 

Still CK2 has fundamental problems with UI and basic gameplay principles so it's mindblowing to me it was able to become popular as a roleplaying experience. Really the basics of the game are less suited for character-driven game than, say, any of Total War games. You always have map taking 60% of screen even though map is only rarely important. You only see a single character at a time and it's in a small window. Characters sort of do not have a physical position in a world: they can teleport instantly and at the same time you can't send them anywhere manually. Up until the last update one of the most important things for characters - desicion panel - was inadequately small and hard to use. And so on. Frankly it feels like a mod for a strategy game with character in it from some modder who really likes characters.

 

I wait for the day they rebuild Crusader Kings from the ground up. Then we'll play the game we're describing when we talk about Crusader Kings 2. And maybe they'll add half-decent 3D character generator. On the other hand they probably won't: Paradox will sink without selling 2d face packs.

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1 minute ago, ilitarist said:

And maybe they'll add half-decent 3D character generator. On the other hand they probably won't: Paradox will sink without selling 2d face packs.

 

Apparently, from what I've seen on the forums, they're extremely proud of the work they do in those portrait packs. When the Mediterranean portrait pack launched and the characters displayed with it looked terrible, like the unholy union between a vampire and a clown, several of the artists came onto the forums with fists swinging about how they worked hard and Paradox was doing its fans a favor by letting them buy this sort of thing and really the faces don't look so bad if you look at certain other games...

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6 hours ago, Fraser said:

 

I don't think the size of the developer has any bearing on how deserving a game is of discussion. I wanted to do a Monks & Mystics episode because it's what I've been playing and it's a fascinating expansion. That said, we have a monthly Patreon poll for this very reason - to find out what people want to hear us chat about!


Yeah I realize I'm the odd-man out when it comes to Paradox games, but I just don't see the appeal and I find they're a pretty frequent topic on the podcast. 4 out of the last 15 episodes if you count the 2016 wrap up, about 25%. 

I like listening to the opinions of both you and the other guy on the podcast but can't bring myself to care about a series of games which appear to be little more than a map with a bunch of menus. That's an unfair oversimplification of course, but when I skim a YT Let's play and the screen at the 2 minutes mark looks the same at the 45 minute mark- yeah, just doesn't do it for me. I need more of a visual experience.

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2 hours ago, Gormongous said:

Apparently, from what I've seen on the forums, they're extremely proud of the work they do in those portrait packs. When the Mediterranean portrait pack launched and the characters displayed with it looked terrible, like the unholy union between a vampire and a clown, several of the artists came onto the forums with fists swinging about how they worked hard and Paradox was doing its fans a favor by letting them buy this sort of thing and really the faces don't look so bad if you look at certain other games...

 

Those portrait packs are of uneven quality. E.g. basic "European Person" pack is fine, but compare it to basic "Muslim" pack. Celtic faces are OK but Indian or, say, Persian are so-so.

 

But even if those were good there's so much they could do wit 3D portraits. They could at last make people of varying sizes and proportions. They could model genetics. They could add facial expression or camera angles or lighting to define characters. They could still portrait packs in a form of clothes/hairstyles/cosmetics/jewelry packs.

 

1 hour ago, Akalabeth said:


Yeah I realize I'm the odd-man out when it comes to Paradox games, but I just don't see the appeal and I find they're a pretty frequent topic on the podcast. 4 out of the last 15 episodes if you count the 2016 wrap up, about 25%. 

I like listening to the opinions of both you and the other guy on the podcast but can't bring myself to care about a series of games which appear to be little more than a map with a bunch of menus. That's an unfair oversimplification of course, but when I skim a YT Let's play and the screen at the 2 minutes mark looks the same at the 45 minute mark- yeah, just doesn't do it for me. I need more of a visual experience.

 

Compare it to wargames and boardgames. Even smaller number of people enjoy those things, I think. Still you have bunch of episodes on them.

 

It's either that or no episode at all. Because those are games our hosts are playing anyway. And Patreon is not nearly enough to make them devote their time to cover everything.

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2 hours ago, ilitarist said:

 

Compare it to wargames and boardgames. Even smaller number of people enjoy those things, I think. Still you have bunch of episodes on them.

 

It's either that or no episode at all. Because those are games our hosts are playing anyway. And Patreon is not nearly enough to make them devote their time to cover everything.


Uh, well I'm pretty sure more people enjoy boardgames than computer strategy games.  Boardgames are huge right now.

But that aside, yeah content is better than no content.  I guess another reason is that I usually listen to these sorts of podcast either to discover new games, or to hear some analysis of game mechanics, so hearing about the same game a few times kinda nixes the discovery aspect of things :)

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6 hours ago, Akalabeth said:


Yeah I realize I'm the odd-man out when it comes to Paradox games, but I just don't see the appeal and I find they're a pretty frequent topic on the podcast. 4 out of the last 15 episodes if you count the 2016 wrap up, about 25%. 

 

While you're technically correct, you're looking at a small, Paradox-heavy subset of shows. We've done 5 Paradox shows over the last calendar year  and, yes, 4 of them have been pretty recent.

 

That's because:

  • Paradox just released a whole bunch of stuff recently
  • Our panel loves talking about and playing Paradox games
  • Paradox content gets regular updates which means it's always fun to revisit the games and see how they've changed
  • Paradox shows routinely do very well by our numbers

We love suggestions for show topics, games we should cover, game mechanics... you're always welcome to hit up @3MA on Twitter or email at threemovesahead@idlethumbs.net

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I like the Paradox episodes (and I don't even play many of the games.) Paradox is possibly the most interesting strategy game developer on earth, so it's hard to avoid them!

 

This DLC sounds insane, by the way. :) I'm not the biggest fan of people telling tales from their playthroughs but it sounds like this has some very compelling stories and interactions.

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On the topic of whether CK2 is too long, someone on the Paradox reddit put together an interesting graphic.

CK2 with the expansions is twice the length of EU4.

 

I got CK2 early on, but bounced off it. Quite frankly the idea of a more rpg-ish CK3 is completely unappealing. I'd rather have a game about being a historical Medieval ruler than more Game of Thrones bullshit.

 

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I'm in favor of a more character-driven CK3 because I think that is clearly the major strength of the series, but why not also include a mode to disable some of that and give us the option to play a purer medieval strategy game? Paradox will need to choose something for the default option, for the marketing, etc., but the engine will surely be able to support multiple modes of play, at least after the launch bugs are fixed and the first couple DLC are released.

 

I'm curious what are some of the unofficial ideas Paradox may be considering for CK3. Is this online anywhere?

 

Finally, a note of appreciation for TJ's 1100 hours (and Fraser's time as well) -- they are what make these kinds of episodes work. And the guest hosting went well, in my opinion!

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