Sweet Lord this game...
I once again started as the Earl of Some Ditch on the outskirts of the Middle of Nowhere, in southern Wales this time - Glamorgan, to be precise. Home of a nice cricket club in the 21st century, a thousand years earlier it was home of a nice wooden club and not a lot else.
First steps early on were just to consolidate position and to try to not annoy anyone too much when I was weak. Not annoying people is really
hard for me, as I can't think of anything I like more, but with repeated counselling sessions I managed to rein in my need to fuck with people. I set about marrying some likely looking lass, picking the firstest, youngest, lustiest lady I can find in the hope of churning out tiny Glamorgans, but this leads to little more than awkward fumbling for two years before Earl Cadwgan finally works out what goes where and when and Countess Aenor falls pregnant.
Cadwgan's ambition is to have a son, Aenor's to have a daughter, so someone is going to be disappointed.
It turns out that the Countess is the "winner" here, as daughter Rhiannon is born in January 1069 and it takes the Earl another two years to remember where he left his groove and have another go, making another Daughter - Marared. Then it's another two and half years before Aenor falls with baby number three - Cadwgan still has the ambition to have a son, (or a name that wasn't drawn out of a Scrabble bag), while Aenor has the ambition of throwing herself out of a tall window, as living in a rain-filled garbage pile with a dull Earl who can't work out how to take off his pants has her depressed. Fortunately even depressed lusty people still like sex, so they come up with another baby and this time it's a girl with a winky, finally fulfilling Cadwgan's ambition and giving him a proper heir, as previously it had been his "kinsman" rather than his son. The kinsman are annoyed, but whatever.
With the future of the dunghole finally assured, the Glamorgan chancellor finally comes through and manages to fabricate a claim to the county of Dyfed, (for non crazy people that's pronounced "Duff-ed"), and the Glamorgan armies are up Dyfed's drainpipes before the ink is dry on the fake claim. Things look like they're going to go a little wrong and we won't have enough men to successfully siege, but Cadwgan cracks open the coffers and buys in a mercenary army who waltz through Dyfed's forces like they're not there. Dyfed surrender and I've doubled the size of the realm.
The Earl of Dyfed was four years old. So yay me, I'm reading military tactics at a kindergarten level.
I use the new county to create a Duchy and promote myself to Duke. I have a soup du jour claim on the third and final county in the Duchy - Gwent - but annoyingly the Duke of Shrewsbury has already waded in there and taken it and going after him would involve declaring war on his liege - some guy called "The King of England." I'll give that a miss.
Things calm down from there until Cadwgan manages to have a fourth child - another boy - and then dies, bringing the 14 year old Duke Meurig to the the throne. Or rather his Mother, Aenor, for 18 months until he turns 16. Roughly the first thing he's asked to do is to decide if he should go to war in support of one sister against the other - a family feud he politely declines. Instead we set sights on the Welsh counties of Gwynedd and Powys. Even though that Duchy is also missing a county due to English aggression, holding four Welsh counties will allow me to create the Kingdom of Wales and make my favourite Welsh duke the new King.
This will be where my Chancellor lets me down, again
, by taking forever to create a legal claim. Eventually I find someone who already has a claim to Gwynedd, invite them to my court and then arrange a matrilineal marriage to a kinswoman, in the hope that that will bring him into the dynasty. Then I press his claim to the Counties, declare war and go in hard with two blocks of mercenaries, meaning I barely have to even raise my own levies. We win, I install the new guy and then offer him an attractive vassalisation, while going off to Crowns R Us to get my head measured for the new shiny hat.
Except the new guy that I manufactured and then installed turns down my offer. WTF!? Dude! Duke... Dude.. whatever. Dude! I made you
. Now I must break you. Or rather I must get my chancellor to fabricate a piece of paper saying I'm allowed to break you.
I sit and wait for the Chancellor to do his stuff. And wait. And wait.
Meanwhile I have to deal with this kind of nonsense."Iestyn Ap Gwrgant wants to get married."
Firstly, I can't find anyone drunk enough to want to marry into that stupid name. Secondly, you're SEVENTY NINE years old. The average life expectancy is about... four, or something. You're so old that eighty per cent
of your children are dead. Just die already.
I arrange a marriage to some old French lady with a lisp and a hunchback, who is listed as "maimed" and an imbecile. Don't say I never do anything for you, Iestyn Ap Gwargledangle.
Four weeks later Iestyn dies and now I'm left with some mad old French hag wandering the halls of the castle, drooling and smelling of cheese.
I try to marry her off but surprisingly no one will have her.
Finally there comes news from my Chancellor. I open it excitedly and read it, expecting details of how I'm the Duke of Powys' Cousin's dog's Aunt's Sister's Uncle, but instead it just says "I have died of old age."
I find a new Chancellor and send him in with instructions to just write something down
and he's there about four days when he's faked a claim. I consider digging up the old chancellor and punching him in his dead balls, but instead pay for the mercs again. Go on the offensive again. Kick over the tables again. Capture Powys and Gwynedd again.
Paying for the mercs has dipped me down to 200 gold coins. I need 350 to make myself King and start stamping my own face on the money.
While I try to wring as much tax as possible out of anyone who jingles when I shake them, the Duchess of Kent wanders through my realm and fakes a couple claims because, you know, her Chancellor isn't useless. This is sort of annoying as the Duchesses sister is married to my fourth son, so you'd think they'd pick on someone else. But they're on completely the other side of England, so I'm sure it'll be fine.
Ten minutes after that thought a declaration of war is delivered by the Kentish councillor. Followed by a 1,400-strong army wandering into Gwynedd. I leave it undefended save for the weak garrisons there and hope the Kents wear their army down. By the time they've taken Gwynedd and Powys their army is down under four figures, so I raise a merc unit and my levies and meet them in Dyfed where I take a pointed stick and wedge it in their Kentish holes. I pull together every vassal unit I have now and send it into Gwynedd to try to recapture immediately, but Kent pull another 800 strong army out of nowhere and drive me off the field. I appeal to some allies in Scotland and Norway for help and they both turn me down. That's not what "ally" means, you buggers.
In a fit of desperation I send my spy master to Kent to have a couple words with the Duchess. Words like "knife" and "in the back while you sleep", followed by a practical demonstration that she doesn't enjoy too much. She's succeeded by her sister for some reason and she won't accept peace, so I stab her too. That "her" would be my Daughter in Law and I was expecting her husband, my son, to step up to the big chair at this point, but instead succession goes to their son, with some old bag as regent. He's four. I know how to beat four year olds. So I have him stabbed too.
I'm now spending almost all my time watching the Kentish court and no time watching my own. My Granddaughter is next up to bat as leader of the Kents - she's two. I sit watching the bottom corner of her portrait for news of which inbred knuckle-dragging mouth-breather will be next in charge if something dreadful should happen to her when a face pops up that I recognise instantly. Mine
To recap, at this point I've spent 150 pieces of gold to kill the Duchess, then my Daughter in Law and then my Grandson and now I still have Kentish armies on the borders and I'm only one small stabbing away from being able to call off my own armies in my war against myself, thereby gaining control over the counties I need to make myself King and
picking up some prime real estate in the south of England to build my summer home...
Way to turn stabbing from a chore to a hobby.
But there's bad news - the two year old's regent has noticed a worrying trend of people accidentally stabbing themselves while shaving, so she's clearly called the spymaster back into the county to discover plots, because my chances of successfully stabbing a two year old girl are apparently not very good.
If they'd just given the crown to my son we could have had a nice little chat and no one would have had to have been stabbed. But noooooooooo.
With stabbing temporarily off the table I decide to bust out some diplomacy instead. I invite a bunch of new debutantes to my court until I get one who is both attractive and lusty and young and virile. And smells like vanilla. I then go off to the Kentish court and find the spymaster. His wife has sadly recently suffered a fatal stabbing, so he's back on the lookout and happily accepts a marriage proposal that will see him hook up with Miss Wales 1136. He also happily accepts a small amount of gold coin and suddenly his frown is turned upside down, his red middle finger becomes a green thumbs up when I invite him back to my court and so he goes from being Duchess Two Year Old's Spy Master to being my Master of the Cups.
Completely coincidentally Duchess Granddaughter Wasserface has no other serious candidates for replacement spymaster and, I mean, really
... who let a two year old play with a knife? Now there's blood everywhere and I suppose I'll have to split time between being King of Wales and Duke of Kent. I didn't want the job, but someone has to do it.
I only hope I can find out who's behind all these stabbings.