The lights are on
I'll admit, I absolutely adore the majority of games from the Swedish developer Paradox Interactive, and have played their games since Europa Universalis (I), so I might be slightly biased in my opinion.
Crusader Kings II is a long awaited sequal for me personally, since I loved the first game. The micro-management of the game appeal to my interest in the small intrigues of the various characters, to the historical details in the laws of the land, traits, alliance making through marriage etc.
As the above review states, regarding the recruitment of armies: "Crusader Kings II doesn’t even give you a choice in what kind of troops you recruit ... ", then this is true, but only to a degree. It is true that you cannot control what your vassals might be constructing in their Duchy or County, however you do have control of your own lands, and which buildings you choose to construct.
Some buildings serve to provide better defense for your hold, such as a palisade, moat, stone walls etc., where other buildings might allow you to recruit a larger number of pikemen, archers, light/heavy infantry, light/heavy cavalry and so on. This will allow you to focus the military forces which are loyal to you, as your vassals can be a treacherous bunch at times.
Should your own military might be lacking, you are able to hire mercenary companies to fight for your cause, providing you have the coin to motivate them of course.
As I'm from Denmark, I always play my games with the aim of bringing my native land to the glory it rightfully deserve ;) However civil war is frequent when a ruler dies, and the sons fight over the scraps. I was between a rock and a hard place, as my military was weak, compared to that of which my characters brother could muster. The solution was obvious, I thought, I'll get a bunch of mercenaries and show him his place. Unfortunately I forgot to look at my vault before I hired these professional killers, which caused them to turn coat, join my brother and that was the end of my ruling days.
Rule #1 when it comes to mercenaries: Always make sure you can afford their monthly fee, or they will fight for whom might be able to do so.
All in all, if you like these sort of micro and macro-management games, where you have little influence on the actual battles, but just enjoy being the guy in charge, enforcing your rule, then this is the game for you.
*Edit* Should have read Dan Amrich's book Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living before I wrote this ;)
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