• The in-game tutorial is beautifully designed and teaches players the base mechanics of Crusader Kings 3, making it easier for newcomers to get started.
  • Focusing on building up a small realm instead of expanding outward can lead to a strong economy, a powerful army, and the ability to unlock cultural innovations. This strategy allows beginners to grasp the basics before expanding their territory.
  • Building positive relationships with key characters, such as the Realm Priest and the Spymaster, is important for gaining tax and levies, as well as avoiding betrayal. Prioritizing the Sway scheme with important characters can help beginners navigate the political landscape.

For the uninitiated, certain grand strategy games can feel daunting to wrap one’s head around. Crusader Kings 3 is one of the top dogs of the genre as players are tasked with leading their medieval dynasty to fame and glory. Surviving the first few opening years, however, isn’t always as straightforward as it seems.


Crusader Kings 3: Pro Tips To Level Up Your Rule

Some pro tips exist for grand strategy fans to have the most fun with their Crusader Kings 3 experience.

Fortunately, understanding the base mechanics behind the game won’t take newcomers very long. Following these simple beginner tips for Crusader Kings 3, which also often apply to grand strategy games in general, will make the player’s first run through the Middle Ages a breeze. With a little practice, sprawling games of this nature won’t feel nearly as intimidating.

Updated February 6, 2024 by Joe Grantham: As Crusader Kings 3 is expanded on with new and exciting DLC packs, which are accompanied by free updates, the game gets more and more popular, drawing in new players with varying experience levels.

As new mechanics and features are added though, the game also continues to get more and more complicated, which may leave some beginner CK3 players feeling overwhelmed. These beginner tips for Crusader Kings 3 should help players get to grips with the basics and find success with their medieval rulers.

1 Complete The Tutorial

CK3 Is Complicated, But The Tutorial Is Beautifully Designed

Declaring war in CK3 - Crusader Kings 3 Tips

While some games can be learned on the fly, a grand strategy game as complex as Crusader Kings 3 requires more. Thankfully, the in-game tutorial is fantastic, as it sees players take on the role of Petty King Murchad of Munster and takes them on a step-by-step journey to uniting Ireland, although still with a degree of freedom.

The tutorial teaches players how the UI works, even highlighting which buttons to click to carry out actions such as proposing a marriage or raising an army. A similar system exists for times when players run into new features that are either more niche and not present in every playthrough, or ones that are introduced in DLC or free updates. These mini-tutorials can be identified by a question mark inside a purple diamond, and players should always try to make use of them.

2 Play Tall At First

Fostering A Small But Powerful Realm Is Easier Than Managing An Empire

King Malcolm Of Scotland in Crusader Kings 3

Although conquering vast swathes of land is hard, the subsequent management of a large empire is arguably even more taxing. For example, players will have more vassals to contend with, and their resources must be divvied up. This is one of the reasons why it is suggested that beginners “play tall,” a strategy that focuses on building up the existing castles, cities, and temples of a small realm, rather than expanding outwards.


Crusader Kings 3: Top 6 Tenets For Your Faith

Which of these Tenets will shape your faith systems in the grand strategy game, Crusader Kings 3?

Despite having small borders, players will end up with a great economy and a full army of advanced men-at-arms. They should also be able to unlock a considerable number of innovations, progressing their culture through the ages. From this position, players can go on to win more land. By this point, they will have gotten to grips with the basics.

3 Sway The Right People

It’s Important That Certain Characters Have A Positive Opinion


The Sway Personal Scheme is one of the most important actions in the game, as players can choose an individual and over a few in-game years improve relations with them. The opinions that other characters have of the player’s ruler matter dearly, but beginner CK3 players might not know who to sway first.

One of the most important characters to sway is the Realm Priest as if they have a positive opinion of their ruler they will provide tax and levies, with a higher opinion providing more of both. The Spymaster is also important to sway, as they are in a position of power and could use their spy network and high Intrigue skill to betray a ruler they don’t like. Disgruntled vassals should also be prioritized when it comes to using the Sway scheme, especially if they represent a threat.

4 Learn To Manage Your Council

Effective Council Members Make The Realm Run Smoother

Crusader Kings 3 Council

One of the best CK3 tips and one of the easiest to implement, is to learn the basics of managing the council. Four positions in the council can be changed, these being the Chancellor, Steward, Martial, and Spymaster, but players also can choose the actions of their Realm Priest even if they cannot appoint them.

There are two factors to consider when appointing members of the council and depending on the situation, the priority can change. The first is the character’s aptitude, for example, a Steward with a high Stewardship skill will help secure more taxes and players may even appoint lowborn prodigies for this reason. However, the second factor is that powerful vassals expect a seat on the council, and often players must consider these first particularly if opinions are running low. Additionally, for those playing as vassals, it is a good idea to get appointed to their liege’s council as the position provides unique bonuses.

5 Learn To Manage Stress

The Build Up Of Stress Can Result In Dire Consequences & Even Death

Crusader Kings 3 Tips For Managing Stress

Stress is an incredibly important mechanic and learning how to manage stress in CK3 is vital for new players. Certain actions that players take or unfortunate circumstances such as the death of a loved one, will incur stress for a ruler, and over time this bottled-up stress can cause mental breakdowns.


Crusader Kings 3: 13 Best Cultural Traditions

Cultural Traditions in CK3 can impart massive benefits for players who know how to capitalize on them.

There are three levels of mental breakdown that get progressively worse, with coping mechanisms being acquired first, followed by much more adverse effects such as death. To avoid this, players should try to make decisions that align with their character’s personality traits, as they will gain less stress or even lose some for doing what comes naturally. To actively lower stress, players can hunt and take the recreation intent for any activity.

6 Give Your Heirs The Best Education

A Good Education Means Lifestyle Perks & Traits Will Be Unlocked Faster

Crusader Kings 3 Court Tutor

Education is extremely important in Crusader Kings 3 as the higher tier education traits allow characters to progress faster through their chosen lifestyle, and for example, unlock the best learning perks faster. Therefore, players will want to assign guardians for their heirs who have a high stat in the chosen field of education. Ideally, this would be the player’s character if they are a suitable guardian, as then the player would not only have more control over their heir’s education but also their personality traits.

The Royal Courts DLC also allows players to appoint Court Tutors, one of the best Court Positions, to enhance education outcomes. Additionally, players with the Wards & Wardens DLC can also have their ruler attend university to either counteract the results of a bad education or to further it and perhaps unlock the new fifth-tier education level that can only be achieved this way. However, it does cost a lot of gold to attend university.

7 Make Use Of Activities

Improve Opinions, Gain Prestige, & Lose Stress

Crusader Kings 3 Hunting

Activities are a familiar mechanic in games developed by Paradox Interactive. There are many activities available in Crusader Kings 3, especially for those who own the Tours & Tournaments DLC. For example, don’t be afraid to call a hunt now and then to gain a nice chunk of Prestige. Hold feasts to potentially improve relations with vassals (and maybe even learn a secret or two), and set off on specific Grand Tours for gold, dread, or fame.

It’s worth noting that most activities have a chance of turning out bad. Nevertheless, the benefits can still outweigh the risks if the player is low on Prestige to declare war or their vassals begin to grumble. Hunts and feasts, or other activities are also great ways to reduce Stress if their character is near the breaking point.

8 Attend Other Characters’s Activities For Free Rewards

Gain The Benefits Of Activities Without Having To Pay Large Sums Of Gold

Crusader Kings 3 Grand Tournament Grounds

While most activities provide rewards such as stress loss or prestige, they can be incredibly expensive to host. Therefore, make sure to accept the invitations of vassals, lieges, and foreign rulers to hunts, feasts, and any other activities such as tournaments for those that own one of the best DLCs for CK3, Tours & Tournaments.

Players can then travel to the activity, hopefully in safety, and while they won’t have as much control over events, they should get plenty of random events pop up and benefit all for free.

9 Make Use Of And Understand Mercenaries

CK3 Mercenaries

Mercenaries can be hired by rulers on a 3-year contract for a set amount of upfront gold. These forces will spawn at the player’s capital and can come in extremely clutch in certain battles or sieges and can subsequently turn the tides of war in Crusader Kings 3.


Crusader Kings 3: 7 Hardest Achievements To Unlock

Crusader Kings 3 is a brilliantly complex rulership simulator with a wide variety of difficult achievements. These are the hardest.

However, seeing as the same upfront cost has to be paid at the end of the 3 years if players wish to keep these hired swords on, players might find their army dwindling in prolonged wars, and could even be given false confidence. Players also will not get any of their money back even if a war ends early, meaning that using mercenaries in extremely short wars is inefficient.

10 Only Hold Court With Ample Gold And Prestige

Court Events Will Often Require Gold Or Prestige For Some Of The Best Decisions

Crusader Kings 3 Byzantine Royal Court

For players that own the Royal Court DLC and have a character who rules a kingdom-level realm or higher, they will have the chance to hold court every five years if they wish. While taking this decision will cost a small amount of upfront prestige, players should be aware that they could end up spending much more.

Every time court is held, the player will be presented with three petitions and then get to decide on how to respond. While the outcome can often be positive, players should be ready to fork out gold and lose prestige to better the realm or deal with unforeseen circumstances. For this reason, it is good to have plenty of prestige and gold before holding court. Players can check out more tips for the Royal Court DLC here.

11 Save Large Funds Of Gold

Gold Can Be Used To Bribe Vassals Or Pay For Troops Upon Succession

Crusader Kings 3 Rich Treasury

One of the most important aspects of realm management in Crusader Kings 3 is the economy. Amassing a large stockpile of gold is essential for ensuring successful military conquests as well as preventing internal rebellions. With enough gold in one’s pocket, it’s possible to stave off even large disasters, such as untimely deaths.

Gold can be used to bribe vassals, increasing their opinion of the player’s character a fair amount. Happier vassals mean less factionalism and revolt. Large gold reserves make it possible to recruit more regiments of Men-at-Arms, which are top-quality soldiers. Finally, a large number of mercenaries can be hired if one’s pockets are deep enough.

12 Develop The Economy

Buildings That Provide Gold Are More Efficient If Developed Early

Stewardship Perk Tree From Crusader Kings 3

How does one go about stockpiling gold? An efficient and stable economy is the surest path to success. When the player saves up a little money, invest it by constructing new buildings inside one’s counties. Focus on building projects that increase tax revenue to build up some income.

Characters with a Stewardship Lifestyle can acquire various perks that improve the economy of their realm. Vassals, particularly religious ones, are more efficient in handing over their taxes to a popular ruler. If playing as a Catholic ruler, be pious and ask the Pope for gold whenever possible. Lastly, prioritize Innovations that improve the economy to maximize profits.

13 Generate Plenty Of Prestige & Piety

Prestige & Piety Are The Two Main Resources

The Pope From Crusader Kings 3

Alongside gold, Prestige is another useful currency in the game that players can’t ignore. Prestige is used for a variety of actions and decisions. Always having enough of it in reserve is recommended to stave off unforeseen negative events. Winning wars and creating new titles are two of the simplest ways of gaining Prestige, along with successful hunts and other activities such as Grand Tours.

Piety also comes in handy, particularly for Catholic rulers. Characters with virtuous traits will have an easier time generating Piety on a passive basis. For Catholic rulers, this results in a friendlier relationship with the Pope. Rulers can spend Piety through interactions with the Pope to gain claims, gifts of gold, and even marriage annulments.

14 Be Loved (Or Feared)

There Are Two Ways To Prevent Vassals From Rebelling

Crusader Kings 3 King and Queen

A vassal’s opinion of their liege plays a huge role in Crusader Kings 3. As an independent ruler, never have too many powerful vassals with negative opinions of the player’s character. Preventing revolts in the first place is much more efficient than having to violently suppress civil wars every few years.


Crusader Kings 3: Everything You Need To Know About Your Character

To best plan a successful playthrough in Crusader Kings 3, players should consider the traits, appearance, and opinions of their character.

Be as popular with one’s vassals as possible. Betroth and/or marry children to spouses with positive congenital traits. Furthermore, ensure that children are given guardians that may bestow on them excellent personality traits. Fear is also a plausible route. If a character amasses enough Dread, vassals, and courtiers will be too petrified to act against their liege.

15 Develop The Military

Men At Arms Are Much More Effective Than Levies

crusader kings 3 military

Whether playing as a good or evil character, maintaining a well-run military is constant. Typically, the bulk of a player’s territorial acquisitions will come through conquest. When starting as a lowly count, the military needs to be developed sooner rather than later.

Furthermore, a large and effective army makes AI rulers think twice about invading lands inside the player’s realm. Ensure the maximum number of Knights are being employed at all times. When recruiting Men-at-Arms, add variety to the composition of the regiments for more versatility on the battlefield. Be sure to possess a nice collection of infantry, cavalry, archers, and siege engines.

16 Pay Attention To The Terrain

Certain Terrain Is Better Or Worse To Fight On

crusader kings 3 cheats

Compared to Crusader Kings 2, fighting battles in CK3 requires a bit more finesse and planning. Thus, it’s important to remember that winning a battle isn’t strictly a numbers game. Possessing numerical superiority helps, but it won’t always win the day on its own.

As such, players must pay attention to the terrain. Fans should never place their armies at a geographic disadvantage, especially when the forces are evenly matched. For instance, never cross a river to meet the enemy in battle. If a particular type of terrain favors defense, such as mountains, then stay put. Spend some time studying the lay of the land. Oftentimes, the player’s attention to detail will be rewarded!

17 The Marriage Game

Marry For Military Alliances Or Inheritable Traits

Crusader Kings 3 Wedding

It’s impossible to ignore marriage in Crusader Kings 3. If the player’s dynasty ceases to exist, it’s Game Over. However, not any old marriage partner will do. Players must get into the habit of searching for partners with either desirable traits or alliance offers.

In the early game, especially if one is a weak ruler, netting a marriage that results in an alliance with a powerful ruler is recommended. Their troops will make expansion a lot easier. Once the player’s realm is sufficiently large and stable, start searching for partners with positive traits. Make liberal use of the game’s search filters to find the best match.

18 Acquiring An Inheritance

It Is Possible To Marry Into An Easy Inheritance Without War

CK3 Succession Laws

Inheriting titles is the trickier, non-violent way of gaining new lands. This route takes patience but results in more territory without the need for a war. Once again, take a careful look at all the facets of a potential marriage partner, including their claims.


Crusader Kings 3: Trait ID List

Players can use this list of Crusader Kings 3 trait IDs alongside two console commands to make immediate changes to their characters.

Once beginners become more comfortable with engineering favorable marriages, this strategy bears enormous fruit when the situation arises. Marry individuals with inheritable claims to desirable titles. It may just happen that the player’s primary heir will inherit two realms at once. Sometimes players might have to cut short the lives of those with better claims.

19 Don’t Join Every War As An Ally

Raising Troops Costs Lots Of Gold & Leaves Home Territories Exposed

An Ally's War in Crusader Kings 3

This advice holds true for many grand strategy games, particularly for the Total War series as well. Allies are great to have in Crusader Kings 3, but they can also become a nuisance. The AI is always waging war or having war declared on them for one reason or another. Inevitably, the player character will eventually be asked to lend a helping hand.

Although it may not be very honorable, don’t feel obligated to join every war. Coming to the aid of a far-flung ally can potentially wreck one’s military, weakening the player’s position at home. Sometimes it’s just better to outright decline and take the Fame penalty. Or, a player can agree to join but sit on their hands instead. The player’s ally, however, won’t appreciate such a tactic.

20 Prioritize Useful Innovations

Certain Technology Is Better For Specific Goals

Crusader Kings 3 Innovations Screen

Like many grand strategy epics, Crusader Kings 3 contains a technology system in the form of Innovations. Over time, cultures gradually make progress towards unlocking various Innovations, which provide useful bonuses. Players that become powerful enough can influence the speed at which a particular Innovation gets unlocked.

A player who is a Culture Head can select an Innovation as their own personal “Fascination.” This speeds up the process of unlocking a particular Innovation. It’s best to use this mechanic strategically. For example, if a player knows they will be waging war regularly, prioritize the military Innovations to gain access to better units and buffs.


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