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Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne (DLC) Review (PC)

Charlemagne DLC is the 8th expansion for Crusader Kings II. If you don’t know what Crusader Kings II is, you’re reading the wrong post! In short it is a fantastic grand strategy game from Paradox Interactive that despite being released almost 3 years ago is still being supported with regular updates and DLC, the latest of which focuses on centre Europe and the Holy Roman Empire.

203770_screenshots_2014-10-19_00002Charlemagne sets you off at the start of rise of the Karling Dynasty. The main characters of interest at the start date of 769 are the two brothers Karl and Karloman Who have inherited a Francia from their recently deceased father. Their father has divided the land between them in a manner that was to encourage them to work together. However, this is not how things played out. One brother would find his early demise, and with no heir of his own yet, East Francia was inherited by his brother Karl.

For the first time the game will try to hold your hand through the early stages if you do play as one of the Karling brothers. You’ll be given a set of intrigue events depending on which one you are, each with the option of follow history / don’t follow history. Essentially, your choices here in the early game will dictate how the rest of your game will be played. If both brothers survive then an eternal struggle for power in Francia will ensue, and someone will be planning to off a relative at some point anyway. However, if you get control of Francia in the early game, you can set up nicely for entire Central Europe domination.

203770_screenshots_2014-10-28_00012As part of the new DLC you can create new custom Kingdoms and Empires out of your lower titles. If you are playing as Charlemagne (Karl) though then you can really aim at creating the Holy Roman Empire and take the fight to any non-Catholic neighbours. Rebellions will be a constant issue, as will disgruntled uncles and cousins, but rise above it all and by the time the year 867 come round (the previously earliest start date in the game with the Old Gods DLC) you could be running a huge empire with Kings doing your bidding.

And so you should be! With 100 years to get yourself on top there is no reason you shouldn’t be. Forget your One Million Years Dungeons, Charlemagne DLC really does add 100 years to the game, adding the total up to almost 700 years of historical gameplay. On top of the DLC came the latest patch which introduced a vassal limit on top of your demise limit. This forces you into adopting a true feudal system, something you very much need to be aware of as an Emperor. Too many direct vassals and they won’t take too kindly to it, restricting your tax and the levies they provide you with. Find the right balance of power, don’t give those who could rise against you too much of it, but don’t keep it all for yourself either. As your dynasty grows you can put the right people on the right thrones, and your titles will usually be split amongst your heirs upon death anyway.

203770_screenshots_2014-11-17_00001Truthfully, I was looking for an excuse to play some more Crusader Kings II, and the Charlemagne DLC has provided the perfect excuse. The vassal limit adds a bit more difficulty to balancing a large Kingdom or Empire, and you can’t really complain about an extra 100 years of gameplay. Trying to keep both Karling brothers alive in the 7th century and a divided Francia requires a lot of work. On the other hand ruling the Holy Roman Empire can be a lot of fun, but can become a bit too easy with the armies that you will end up at your command. At least you’ll be able to answer the Pope’s call for crusades in Jerusalem.

5 ways to kill a Karling out of 5

Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne (DLC) Review (PC), 2.3 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

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