Published on April 15th, 2014 | by Tony Odett0
Crusader Kings 2: Rajas of India review
Summary: A great expansion for fans of India that falls short of the game-changing nature of previous expansions
One Too Many
Crusader Kings 2 launched two years ago to massive critical acclaim and was eaten up by fans of the genre- we could not get enough. Since, we’ve gotten expansions focusing on Islam, Byzantium, the trading empires of the Mediterranean, Vikings, Judaism, and even a fictional invasion by the Aztecs. Each expansion added substantially to the game’s portfolio, providing new and exciting ways to play without substantially changing the core game mechanics. The game has had myriad patches and improved even on its initial greatness, to where now it has reached a pinnacle of outstanding few other strategy titles have matched. And yet, having put dozens and dozens of hours of playtime (and having written reviews of every expansion of the game for several different websites), I find myself asking this question while booting up Rajas of India: when does it all end?
Rajas of India is the newest expansion to the game, and is notable for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the game map is now much, much larger than before, adding the entirety of the Indian subcontinent, plus much of central Asia. Your playground being that much larger also adds a bunch of additional playable rulers from India, along with the customary religions and events to make the Indian rulers a new experience. I hopped into the game as the Maharaja of Bengal, leader of the kingdom of Pala, and began my campaign to lead my family into dominance of the region.
I think the first thing that struck me was the emptiness of the families. I had used the 867 start date, and while my ruler had a son, he had no wife. No matter, thought I, I’ll simply find a mate amongst one of the other rulers in the realm. Sadly, there weren’t any women of the ruling caste to be found. In fact, it seemed as if they had forgotten to put any women of that caste in the game at all. I ended up waiting for about 20 years as a female was born to another ruler and came of age before I could even marry. It was odd to me that the female population seems so sparse, and it didn’t last as the years went on. Something tells me more females will be patched in later, but for now, it’s an annoying factor that will throw a wrench in your long term planning.
I mentioned the caste system. You’ll encounter many folks during your time as ruler, and as you expand your empire and look to put your minions in positions of leadership, you’ll find yourself held back. Folks must be of the ruling caste in order to be given lands and titles. I had one stint as a ruler of an Indian kingdom who had 15 provinces under his belt (he could manage 5 or 6), and there was no one of the appropriate caste to parcel them out to. Guess it was time to have some more children (if only I could find a wife). Then again, one of my other playthroughs saw me have too many children, and saw my once mighty empire go to a shattered hulk- generation after generation of rebuilding my former glory.
Power in India seems to trend towards decentralization. With highly autonomous nobles and gavelkind succession for all, building a centralized power base over the long term is certainly a challenge. India is massive, and fractured, and effecting permanent change on the latter condition is a new opportunity for the most enterprising of CK2 fans.
Yet, I find myself hesitating to give Rajas a ringing endorsement. This expansion does have a ton of content, with new religions, worlds, and events to explore and enjoy. But it’s almost too much at this point. Plus, while the other expansions typically offered a way to play the game you hadn’t seen before (from Viking raiding to trade wars to religious jihads), Rajas doesn’t really change the game in any fundamental way. Having put so much time into Crusader Kings II by now, I find myself wanting to move on to other things. Not because of the game, but because I have had so much of it at this point. Anyone who has an interest in this period of India, or who hasn’t yet put in many, many (many) hours will find a lot of play here. Crusader Kings 2 was a delicious pizza. But I’ve had a lot of slices by now. Rajas of India has that same great taste as its predecessors. But I’m full now.
Rajas of India was reviewed on code provided by the developer.