This is the fourth in a series of reviews looking at the evolution of Crusader Kings II. See the previous reviews here:
Crusader Kings II:
The Second Crusade
The Old Gods: That Old-Time Religion
Sons of Abraham: A Little of Everything

Paradox gave Crusader Kings II another huge update after the grab-bag of Sons of Abraham. This time, the map was extended hundreds of miles east, to take in the entirety of India, Transoxiana, and part of Siberia.

The engine came in for a round of optimizations to keep this from bogging the game down, and of course, everyone got the new map with free patch 2.1, which was released with Rajas of India on March 25, 2014, and also featured an updated launcher. With Islam already at the fringes of India at any start date of the game, having adventures there is easy if you already have Sword of Islam.

Aren’t You Special

One place that the CK series was a bit inflexible is that there were seven types of troops, with no way to expand that. So patch 2.1 introduced something of a workaround.

The seventh type had always been horse archers that were not available to conventional Christian armies. Now, they were changed to be special troops, that could be different in each unit. As the building blocks of armies are individual units from separate levies, each levy could now have something different in the seventh slot, and the army as a whole would support multiple different types, with different stats, together.

Here, the point was to add elephants to Indian armies. But the slot was moddable, so that mods could be made that had all sorts of special or fantastic troop types available, as long as no holding had more than one special.

Big Game Hunting

As can be expected, there’s a fair amount of new content surrounding the new areas. New illustrations for the holdings, new events, and of course new dynasties and realms.

Some of it seems to have been not well worked out. Many realms start with the ruler personally holding the bulk of the realm with a few vassals, putting him well over the demense limit. This may actually reflect what’s known of the situation in the region at the time, implying that CK’s feudal system isn’t a good match for India, but the in-game problem is that this happens just as Paradox enforced feudalism more stringently.

“North Korea Mode” had become a popular way of getting around the constraints meant to be set on the player. If you hold all the lands in your kingdom yourself it doesn’t matter how much your non-existent vassals dislike you being over your demense limit.

So patch 2.1 tightened the screws by having all except your capital’s holdings’ musters and taxes reduced for being over the limit (annoyingly, you have to drill very deep to find the one place that modifier gets displayed). Considering that this starts with a 20% reduction at one holding over the limit, these massive new realms (where holding 20 out of 6 in the demense limit isn’t uncommon) start with almost no troops outside the capital. Even under normal circumstances, the reduction means it’s wisest to stay with your limit, especially once it’s over 3 or 4, as the reduction to all your musters will be bigger than the troops you can gain from a single holding.


The patch was more successful at getting the general feel of India across, however. Three new religions (all within one group of dharmic religions) were introduced in the patch, and the expansion makes them playable. While they conform to the normal CK II presentation of religion, they do have some important differences.

As all three are somewhat related, and coexisted peacefully, they generate smaller penalties to relations. There’s still a penalty for being of a different religion than someone else, but it is much smaller here. Similarly, the population will not revolt because their lord is of a different religion. A character of one of the faiths can also convert to one of the other two (once), through a decision with no penalty.

Indian religions do not have heresies like other religions, thus eliminating that source of trouble. Instead, they have sects, a bit like the Islamic Mutazilite/Ashari factions from Sons of Abraham. They are organized, and have good base authority, but have no formal head, and cannot use the equivalent of Crusades, though each one has a holy order that can be formed (in keeping with the practice established for everyone else in the previous patch). Finally, characters of these religions use karma in place of piety (with few, if any, mechanical differences), or purity for Jainites.

Indian characters also have a caste. This is simplified down to three, with the Brahmins being used for temples, Kshatriyas for castles, and Vaishyas for cities. While the Brahmins are technically top of the pecking order, this is a game of worldly power, and the manual acknowledges that the Kshatriyas are on top for game purposes. There are penalties for having the wrong type of holding, and Hindu characters cannot marry outside their caste without a large penalty. It is possible to change caste to Kshatria, though it’s expensive, hard to do, and still has lingering penalties akin to an acknowledged bastard.


Hinduism is most like non-Indian religions, with a number of opportunities to go to war. They can raid and loot non-dharmic realms like pagans, can declare holy wars against non-dharmics, and their troops have a notable bonus to morale. Combined with moderately good technological levels (especially for culture, which boosts opinions and demense), Hindu armies are capable, reasonably large, and the countries are fairly stable.

As mentioned before, they also pay the most attention to the caste system, as the other two do not generate so many non-caste penalties, which can cause trouble (a notable Hindu ruler in 867 is a Brahmin with no heirs, and no brahmins available to marry…). There are four sects, which can boost prestige, karma, fertility, or vassal opinion. There is also a decision to pick a patron deity, which will grant a one-point bonus to one stat, and a countering penalty to another.


Buddhists move further away from the normal patterns. Holy wars are unavailable, but they can still pursue claims on other’s territory (legitimate or not). They can designate one child as his heir instead of dealing with the usual problems of gavelkind inheritance, or changing the laws to something more stable, but less popular. In addition, there is no short reign opinion penalty, or problems with female rulers. There are three sects which can boost vassal opinion, health, or learning. That last in in addition to a learning bonus that all Buddhists get, and they can get ambitions to remove negative traits. On the other hand, they don’t get the morale bonus.


Jainism is a pacifistic religion, avoiding all but the minimal amount of violence necessary for self-defense and protection of others. Naturally, many technically Jain rulers have not lived up to these ideals, and CK II still allows some latitude for action.

That said, Jain rulers still have fewer ways to go to war than anyone else. On the other hand, they get a boost to demense size and vassal opinion, making them the overall most stable realms in the game. Their two sects can grant a bonus to health, or a further boost to vassal opinion.


As an expansion, this is a pretty simple yes/no deal. If you’re interested in playing as a native Indian culture (and there’s plenty of reasons to want to), get this, if not, don’t. Like with SoI, there’s nothing else to it. The Old Gods gives the ability to play as a pagan, and a new start date; Legacy of Rome gives a bunch of events and retinues. This feels a little more one-note, and is recommended only if you’re feeling a little played out in boring old Western Europe, or if you have an interest in Indian history (in which case, go for it!).

Along with the realm annoyances, no Indians were included in the ‘interesting character’ listings for the at start bookmarks in 2.1, but that did get fixed when Paradox reworked the starting bookmarks in 2.2. The scope of the game took another leap larger with the patch, but it would take another major patch for Paradox to catch up with it and fill out the possibilities. So as a patch, this was in essence great, but needing a little more work.