As I play more Crusader Kings II, I’m noticing that outright defeat, while possible, is rarer than in games such as Civilization, and that the balance of power is more dynamic.
For instance, in my current game I had carved out a nice little kingdom of 9 territories on the Spanish peninsula. My current ruler was just 31 years of age, and I had plans to capture more land while upgrading what I already had. Then, randomly, my rules died of disease and his 10 year old daughter (no sons) inherited the kingdom. Sensing a new, weaker ruler, a few of my lords rebelled. On top of this, a Muslim nation also sensed weakness and declared war.
If I was playing Civilization, this would basically be a game-over scenario. One by one my cities would fall, and I’d be wiped out. In Civ, you are either moving forward or you are dead. It’s almost impossible to play a weaker nation and just maintain for long, and it’s also very rare to have a major setback and recover from it.
CK is different. What ended up happening is that the Muslims looked to conquer some of my territory, but they picked the now-rebelling lord’s area to do so. The two-front war for the rebels meant I could fight them back and reclaim some land. In turn, the Muslims captured some territory and declared victory. Once I stabilized the kingdom and recovered a little, I plotted when to recapture the Muslim lands. As fortune would have it, they soon engaged in a Holy War against a different Christian nation, and with most of their troops fighting others, I declared war and began my assault.
While initially I did not face much resistance, soon the Muslim army began its defensive march towards me, and their army was much larger than mine despite already taking losses from the Holy War. I spend most of my remaining funds to hire a mercenary company, and combined the hired soldiers with my army to fight off the defenders. Once that battle was won, I sieged and recaptured all that I had previously lost.
What is really interesting is that although my section of the map looks the same, the people behind the holdings and their relationships with each other are very different. Hard to identify if overall things are better, the same, or worse, but they most certainly are different. That alone makes CK a truly interesting game that has me very enthralled at the moment.