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Crusader Kings II Do you like to play Crusader Kings? Looking for help, tips or strategies?

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Old Oct 7th 2014, 08:06 PM
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Default Duke William the Bastard - Stamford Bridge Start

Duke William the Bastard - Stamford Bridge Start

I'm using the 2.16 version of the game, so almost all of the walkthroughs and discussions about this scenario on the net are somewhat out of date.

This is a three-way war between England, Norway and Normandy for control of England and it is an extremely challenging battle scenario. It can be won, but it takes some good planning and a fair bit of trial and error. The scenario begins with King Harold of England sitting in England with a rather large army (13,000+ troops), completely ignoring the Norwegian army nearby (10,000+ troops) laying siege to York, apparently waiting for you to land so he can immediately attack and destroy your army.

Duke William starts off with about 9000 to 9500 troops. You can try calling your allies (Duke of Flanders and the Count of Holland) to your aid and they will readily agree, but the HRE usually will declare a 'de jure' war for Gent so your allies may have to cancel out (because they are vassals of the HRE). The allies were able to come only once in about 7 or 8 tries I had with this scenario. Duke William also starts with lots of cash which is good, but you will almost certainly need to hire mercenaries in order to win because both the Norwegians and the English armies outnumber you at this point.

Waiting around hoping to get the English and the Norwegians to fight it out (as happened in real history), doesn't seem to work here (or it never worked for me). When I held back in Normandy, or in the Channel on ships and waited for the English and Norwegians to hopefully fight it out, King Harold of England would still ignore the Norwegians, pack up his army and invade Normandy with all 13,000+ troops. If I landed in England while King Harold was in Normandy, he'd ignore me and stay in Normandy laying siege - if you want to beat him, you have to go back and fight him in Normandy.

Various solutions suggested around the net include waiting in Normandy for King Harold to land, landing in Cornwall or Devon, or assassination. I tried all three techniques (as well as some others) and it was only the assassination ploy that worked, so that's the one I'll describe here.

Duke William starts the scenario with lots of cash for hiring mercenaries. I used some of it to pay for an assassination of King Harold of Norway after first putting my Spymaster in the Norwegian capital and crossed my fingers for success (and to not get caught!). This is a tough decision because spending that money means you can hire much fewer mercenaries and that's going to hurt.

And this is the message you don't want to see...

Anyway, I did get away with it.

I then hired some mercenaries (about 2500 of them) and landed in Sussex (just short of 12,000 troops). As in real history, King Harold of England marched double-quick southwards with his army into Middlesex. I took up position in Surrey and King Harold obligingly attacked from across the River Thames. The English outnumber the Normans at this battle (13,000+ to 12,000-) But the Normans have better leaders/generals. Cross your fingers Duke William doesn't die in combat - but he is your best general and you have to use him. It is a truly glorious battlefield victory - to win the battle when you are outnumbered and fighting on the defensive!

Anyway, beating the English army is one thing. I had barely 5000 troops left after the second battle to eliminate the retreating English army. That's when you have to face the Norwegians because they will immediately march against you with an army of about 10,000 troops. With a successful assassination, the Norwegian army instantly vanishes - the war with Norway is over (their CB becomes invalid). With Harold's huge army defeated, and the Norwegians quitting the war with a dead king, it becomes a race to siege as much territory in England as you can before King Harold of England surrenders. I could only manage to occupy the southern half of England before time ran out.

Once Harold surrenders, you get the whole Kingdom of England plus all the territory you just occupied. Also, William's nickname changes from "the Bastard" to "the Conqueror".

Alternatively, if you don't do the assassination, you can hire twice as many mercenaries and thus easily outnumber the English army. That makes it way easier to win that battle and you will have a much larger army left over to fight the Norwegians with. But this never worked for me because the Norwegian army was always larger than my leftover army from beating the English (and the Norwegians have good leaders). The Norwegian army usually beats my army rather easily at that point and then there's no way to recover since I'm out of cash and can't siege England with a big nasty Norwegian army roaming around.

Incidentally, the reverse is true as well. If you hit the Norwegians first, you can certainly beat them, but then you are faced with a big (13,000+) English army coming right at you.

Anyway, if or when you do win that war, the next challenge you have to deal with are King Harold's brothers Eadwin and Morcar, who usually control four duchies and five or six counties between them (northern half of England) - and these two fellows are going to hate you forever. And France is just twitching to take back Maine so they are almost guaranteed to declare war on you at the first opportunity. And your heir is not ideal to say the least. Luckily, he tends to die young which is good news.

All in all, it is a pretty challenging game start, though all the challenges are packed into the first 10-15 years. Once you get past the reign of William the Conqueror, the game is wide open and England is a fairly large kingdom and it really doesn't have any natural enemies in the game, so it is fairly easy to play and it is especially well placed to win crusades when they pop up. But the opening battle conquest challenge is certainly very challenging!

* * *

So has anyone else tried this scenario? Anyone have a different solution for it? To be honest, I don't like winning by assassination - I just couldn't win this one any other way.
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