I’m sure you all remember my Crusader Kings II review from two months ago, back in March, but for those new to Crusader Kings, the game is a medieval dynasty management game – you play the family, not the nation in a medieval sandbox where every action you take has a reaction from someone, somewhere.
Since then, the game has had a few major patches as well as an expansion/large DLC called Rajas of India, released on the 25th of March. They’ve expanded the map to incorporate the entire Indian subcontinent, as well as giving it three unique religions and some rather interesting gameplay mechanics attached to the religions. Needless to say, this expands gameplay by quite a bit!
Will you play the Byzantine Empire and expand eastwards, through the Middle East and into the Indian subcontinent to finish what Alexander the Great started? Or will you play an Indian Raj, unify the divided land and eye the warring nations of Europe with a hungry gaze? Or perhaps, the Vikings not only survive, but thrive, carving out territories of their own in the Arabian peninsula, bringing their dreaded dragon prowed ships to entirely new coasts? If there is one thing Crusader Kings II gives you, it’s options, and Rajas of India is no exception.
Jains, Hindus and Buddhists
In Rajas of India, there are three religions for the Indian subcontinent at the start of the game, each of them with a different personality and with different effects on your character and by extension, your realm and gameplay experience. For example, if you are Hindu, you can declare Subjugation wars against the other Indian rulers, holy wars against heathens (your caste trait matters a great deal), and lastly, you get a morale bonus for your armies as well as being able to select a patron deity. Buddhists get an additional four learning skill, meaning they advance faster technologically, they can designate their heir and caste traits don’t matter at all. Jains are peaceful and get a large bonus to relations with their vassals, a lower chance of revolts in controlled provinces and Jain rulers can have a larger Demesne – the amount of territory they can personally hold. Because of this, choosing what religion you are becomes a matter of your current needs – unlike any other region in the game, Indian rulers can convert between all three religions through a decision, though they can only do it once in their lifetime.
So, if you have a great military ruler, it might be best to convert to Hinduism so that you can use its military benefits to further strengthen your armies. After conquering a vast amount of territory and acquiring dozens of new (angry) vassals, a Jain ruler would be able to smooth over any ruffled feathers with ease, while a Buddhist ruler would be able to use their more advanced technology to give them a decisive edge on and off the battlefield. All three religions are balanced, there is no super religion except the one that you find blends the best with your playstyle.
Each religion also has a different set of holy sites which affect the authority of your faith, having all of them under the control of someone from your religion, or even yourself, would vastly increase your religious authority which allows you to reap the maximum benefit from your faith. But there is the possibility that your holy places could be held by one of the other Indian nations – leaving only one option to you…
As you could expect, Rajas of India added a few things to the military system, but the overall formula is exactly the same. What they have added are special units – like war elephants, camel warriors and horse archers. The tactics system has been expanded to take this into account. A charge of war elephants is truly a fearsome sight on the battlefield! Hindu leaders are also fortunate to be able to raid nations around them, attacking them and looting their territory without a formal declaration of war. This is an excellent source of cash if you’re a truly prolific raider, and also lets you soften people up during wars, though they are freely able to attack you back, no questions asked, since both sides are put into a mutual state of hostility, not war.
There has also been an expansion to the attrition system, so trying to march into (Or out!) of India is going to be a nightmare for your armies as you take terrible losses without even having to engage in battle. The environment of India is a defense, but it’s not a discriminatory one.
General Mechanics and Tweaks
India wasn’t the only thing added to the map, in fact, the expansion has an overhaul of East Africa and adds a large chunk (but not all) of Siberia to the game. But I’ll get back to that in the end. In total, the expansion adds an absolute ton of provinces to the game, so players dreaming of global conquest have one more piece of the globe to take control of. Indian rulers have their own UI skin, faces, clothes, everything you’d expect them to have. They also improved the attrition system to have more detail, but I should make one thing very, very clear…
If you don’t want to play an Indian nation, there is no point in buying the expansion. Simple as that. The reason I say this is that, everyone who owns Crusader Kings II got all three hundred provinces added to the game for free, they got all the gameplay tweaks, they got everything except the ability to play an Indian ruler.
The Indian content is extremely detailed, with decisions like going tiger hunting, finding a guru and lots of other stuff. There’s a good chance that the average player won’t even reach India in their game, and the game map was already quite extensive even without India being added to the game. The expansion doesn’t add anything for the player if they aren’t playing India, but what it does add is extremely detailed. The Old Gods expansion interacts really well with this one, since the 867 AD start date is compatible with Rajas, expanding game time a lot and changing the situation in India quite a bit.
But I have to say, there are things I would have placed as a higher priority than adding India to the game, even as much as I’d love to put Alexander the Great to shame with an Empire that stretches from Lisbon in the west to Ceylon in the east. Naval battles, for instance. So far, there has been absolutely no development for naval battles – and not because there weren’t any in the medieval age. If two fleets from two nations were to occupy the same sea province, then there is no battle at all, they simply sail past one another, no interactions at all. Naval combat is such an important issue I’d have gladly paid for an expansion pack that added it to the game, even more so if it added a lot of different ship types to create a mirror of the land war system at sea. It would even add a ton of modding potential to the game, something that has always been strong in every Paradox Development Studio game to the point it’s an iconic feature of them all.
So, in a nutshell – if you are content to play only, say, Christian rulers and would like to see maybe a few more features for you, there is no point in buying the expansion – the map changes and a number of tweaks are provided for free through a game patch. But if you like to spice things up and would like to try something different, then I have to recommend Rajas of India. While it doesn’t provide a range of content across the board like the Old Gods or Sons of Abraham expansions did, the content that the expansion covers is extremely detailed.
And I’m okay with that. You’re not forced into buying one expansion so you can buy the next. Each expansion is a modular entity so you can buy one, skip one then buy the next with absolutely no issues at all.
One thing I found rather saddening is that the expansion, while it comes with art for the Indian nations, comes with no music for them – and I used the nextsong command in the game’s console fifty times to see if I could get one to play! But it’s not because they didn’t make them. They did, and they come under the Songs of India DLC, an entirely separate purchase altogether. Considering that Rajas of India costs £9.99, I find that rather strange. It would be nice to get even a few songs, but instead you get the First Crusade, Tedonium, Coeur de Lion, In Taberna and a number of others, all of which are songs from the base game and better suited to a European nation than an Indian one.
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