Play This Now! A Game of Thrones Mod for Crusader Kings II

 

From the moment I started playing Crusader Kings II for my review, I knew it would be perfect for a Game of Thrones mod. George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy is steeped in real history, and concerns itself as much with feudal politics, negotiation, and skulduggery as it does with dragons and swords. Gameplay in Crusader Kings II, built around genetics, marriage alliances, and succession law, provides a natural fit.

It was no surprise, then, when a group of modders began work on a Game of Thrones total conversion shortly after release. The only surprise was how quickly they had it ready to play! The amount of effort and the attention to detail is staggering: the volunteer team designed heraldry, invented names for locations not mentioned in Martin’s books, and created brand-new gameplay features to fit the world of A Song of Ice and Fire.

I’ve got about eight hours of play under my belt so far, and have loved every minute. Games begin in the midst of an insurrection — Robert’s Rebellion, the only scenario available so far — and all of Westeros is crawling with armies. Exploring the map is a pleasure in itself, as is taking stock of the character traits assigned to various recognizable figures from the books. Ned Stark with the double-edged sword of “Trusting” character trait — +1 to Diplomacy, -2 to Intrigue — what could be more fitting? Franchise obsessives like myself will also geek out over the alternate “realities” the game’s randomized nature creates. Cersei Lannister always seems to marry Hoster Tully early on, for instance.

Over the course of two campaigns, I immersed myself in the struggle for the Iron Throne. Mod-specific gameplay features like Maesters from the Citadel, prisoners demanding “trial by combat,” and unpredictable seasons (Winter Is Coming!) only scratch the surface of what the mod team eventually plans to include. Some systems are still wonky; the mod is technically still in beta.

Playing as Littlefinger, confined to a tiny, remote fiefdom, provided a harsh lesson in the balance of power. I do eventually plan on achieving greatness with the Baelish dynasty. Howland Reed provided a more stable powerbase, but the hyper-local “Crannogman” culture was a constant source of debuffs and headache.

Crusader Kings II players unfamiliar with the series might prefer to wait for the release of “Sword of Islam,” an expansion that makes Muslim rulers playable for the first time. If you’re a fan of strategy video games and A Song of Ice and Fire, however, playing this mod is a must. Hit the link below to download.

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