Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Crusader Kings II: Creating a character without the Ruler Designer

 When considering a new start to my Scottish campaign, I came up with a new method of designing characters that does not require the Ruler Designer. Even though I had the designer, I wanted a more randomised start rather than picking my stats, but definitely wanted to set up the name. For those that do not have the ruler designer, this method should work too. Here’s the shortened version:
1) Create a town and name it to your surname
2) Keep inviting nobles to court until one comes with that surname
3) Grant a landed, playable title to the new character.

Creating a town: 

 - You will need to choose any province with a blank space. If you have one in mind, awesome, but any province will do.
- You will also need 700 gold. This will equate to about 5 years of play as a king, or ~15 years of play as a duke. At maximum speed without any wars this takes around ½ hour for a duke. Don’t forget to assign ‘gather taxes’ from your court. You might want to save before creating the city if you feel like using that start for other surnames.
- Once paid for, the town will take about 2 years to build

Naming your town: 

- To rename a town you must be the highest independent sovereignty over that title. This means that if you are an independent earl or duke you can do it, but if you are an earl or duke under a king or emperor, then you need to save the game, load it as the king or emperor and rename the city.
 - Once renamed, load the game back as the current ruler of the province the city is in to pass it on.

Invite nobles to court 

- Once you have control of the direct ruler of the new city, invite nobles to your court until one arrives with the new city’s title. Congratulations! There’s your new randomly generated character!

Grant landed title 

- Now that you have the character, all you need is to grant him any title of earl or greater so that you can play them. It doesn’t need to be the same title as the city, but since you have gone to that effort to make a home base, it hay as well be your capital too.

Starting REALLY small. 

- Since your character has just been generated, you will have 0 money, 0 prestige, 0 piety.
 - You will also have 0 court if you took you new character over immediately after creating and assigning them a landed title. With no money this makes it rather interesting bringing in the right people to hold down council positions.

Good luck with the game!

Crusader Kings 2: A fresh Start

After playing through the Bo’ness clan into a position of ruling Britannia, I had made a couple of errors along the way that stalled the main goal; to build a strong Scotland for Europa Universalis IV. The critical failure was to claim Ireland and England. Even though I wasn’t going to do that at the start, it seemed an easier way to conquer the remaining parts of those kingdoms. Scotland still remained the primary title, but Ireland and England ceased to convert culturally to Scottish control.

Another misstep was to aim for Seniority succession. By the time the Bo’ness clan had embedded itself all over Britannia, there were ~120 living descendants in the family tree. This amount meant that the claimants were lining up and getting any more that 5-10 years out of a ruler was going to be lucky. It turned into an old-aged concession as more and more resources were spent just keeping everyone together during the early stages of a King’s rule. Seniority succession DID come in handy in the early game as that was how I claimed Lothian, and brought in multiple titles from passing on to another branch of the family. I was also hoping that the rapid succession changes meant an additional boost to score as there were more people coming in with an already established piety & prestige score, but the amount was dwarfed by a couple of years in the top job. For this playthrough I’ll aim at Primogeniture succession. This should make passing control from one generation to another even easier without the risk of breaking apart the realm, albeit not able to gather any more provinces from the succession itself. Hopefully the additional stability of a long rule will make up for the lack of gaining provinces. There might even be opportunity to start as succession, then swap to primogeniture, but I might just try to build it straight from the start and compare it to the Seniority succession game.

When considering starting again I also thought back to the start of the game. Even though I owned the ruler designer, I didn't really like the way it allows you to pick your traits from the start. Yes, they are somewhat balanced by points and age, but it felt a little contrived. For this playthrough I thought of using the ‘Invite a noble to court’ feature to randomly generate my dynasty line. Unfortunately in testing you cannot use the ruler designer to change the player from a save game, only from the starting periods. Another thought I had was that I'd created the Bo'ness city in Lothian that had spawned lowborn mayors with the Bo'ness title, so I tried to replicate that by playing forward until I could create the city, then promote the Mayor to an earl of the province. Unfortunately it also brought the city with him to the top title, turning it into an unplayable republic (even though I have the republic DLC :/). The final solution was to invite nobles to court after the city had been created in to hope that one would be of Bo'ness heritage. First one was that, excellent!

Another benefit to this method is to let the game play through a couple of years to get the political engine going. This makes it a little more natural to join in as well as having all the good unattached nobles be locked away by other nations.

 New Game, New Rules 

Considering the aims of this game, the current imposed rules for this playthrough are to be:
- Create a random character of the Bo’ness line
- Always have Bo’ness as the capital
- Do not own titles above Scotland
- Spread Scottish De Jure titles as far as possible

To keep Scotland strong I’m also going to have, as a general rule, Scottish courtiers and Scottish mentors. This might get a little muddy when bringing in people for marriages, but we’ll see how we go.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Calculation of win percentages

This article is part of a series on designing a tournament:
Part 1 - Designing a Tournament
Part 2 - A grading system
Part 3 - Calculation of Win Percentages (this article)

One holdup in determining a grade for different tournament system is to settle on an algorithm to give consistent win percentages that scale with the difference in true skill of the competitors. Initially I had used a 100% win ratio to the higher ranked player for determining the inherent bias in a tournament system so that the result could be clear of as many other biases as possible, however this precludes tournaments that attempted to add more games to a match for bias reduction. Without some chance for the lower ranked player to overcome a higher ranked player (even a slim chance) there would be no need to play best of 3 matches, best of 5 matches and the like for the better player to prove their worth.

 Ideally I'd like to come up with a system that gives a win chance similar to a standard deviation bell curve or some sort of sigmoid function that granted ever higher win chances the greater the skill difference was between players. As it turns out, the bell curve presented as a cumulative chance for success also appears as a sigmoid. Also, the idea of having ranks of importance to also determine the relative skill differences appeals as the difference between 2nd & 5th should be far more significant than the difference between 32nd and 35th. Even though there may not be a bell curve of skill displayed at the tournament, it would be prudent to assume that we have the top end of the bell curve in attendance.

After a couple of attempts at mapping the ranks of importance onto units of standard deviation, another mathematical nicety presented itself: The inverse ratio of each player's true skill produces the same ratio between ranks: 2:1. Eg: 2nd in true skill play 4th in true skill (1 rank apart) gives 4:2 => 2:1. 8th plays 16th (1 rank apart) gives 16:8 => 2:1. 2nd plays against 8th (2 ranks apart) gives 8:2 => 4:1. 4th plays 16th (2 ranks apart) gives 16:4 => 4:1.

This inverse ratio means a difference of one rank has 66% chance to win over their opponent, a difference of 2 ranks gives 75% chance to win, 3 ranks gives 88.5% chance, etc. Not quite as steep as the standard deviation steps, but follows along the same shape as cumulative chance for success. This should fit quite nicely for now.