Stellar Relic

Tag - Crusader Kings 2

Screenshot Saturday: Pikes and Pillocks


Videogames are confusing, beautiful, complicated messes, and the best way to convey that is through screenshots, whether they are beautiful, informative, or goofy. Each Saturday we bring you one screenshot each from a game we played. It’s Screenshot Saturday.

screenshot saturday besiege

James: Besiege is one of my favorite games to act like a complete dunce in. You are tasked with building complicated machines out of medieval parts, and then taking those machines out to annihilate camps of enemies, castles and anything that gets in your way. It’s great fun because you end up, more often than not, ripping your machine apart in some miscalculated use of springs. Or an enemy soldier gets jammed in your wheel and rips it out of its housing. Or the bomb you tried to throw didn’t go very far and exploded in your face. It’s a game of delightful chaos and destruction, even when you’re floundering, and that’s something special. Oh, and it has workshop support, and the creations which range from “totally serious medieval catapults” to “Metal Gear RAY”.


Dave: I already have over a thousand hours in Crusader Kings 2, the majority of which went towards unmodded CK2. However, thanks to Thomas, I may have found the only way I’ll ever play Crusader Kings 2 again: the ‘After the End’ mod. I played it ages ago, back when it only consisted of the eastern seaboard, and found it an interesting but not very compelling mod. Now, though, the whole North American continent is up for grabs – and I, the King of Socal, shall be the master of it all. Or at least Barstow. The fidelity to current day America (the existence of La Mesa, El Cajon, Camp Pendleton, and more locations from my local area) and the easter eggs laced throughout (Humphrey Bogart is current Lord Mayor of Los Angeles) compel me to play on a level that Europeans must feel towards the base game. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that there is also a significant element of comedy.

Pike and Shot: Campaigns screenshot saturday


Thomas: I’ve been putting some time into Pike and Shot Campaigns, and I’m pretty pleased with it. The initial Pike and Shot release was fine enough – I really loved the setting and the well-represented weirdness of early gunpowder warfare, but the battles just weren’t engaging enough on their own. The addition of a Total War-style strategic layer has really turned my opinion around. Here, my Parliamentary army engages a Royalist force in the English Midlands. My musketeers and pikemen are doing pretty well – we’ve successfully seized the little hamlet in the center of the battlefield and Fragmented and Disrupted two Royalist foot units. Less promising: off to the right, my horse are getting mauled by Royalist Cavaliers. It’s messy, obtuse, and fun, and now it has consequences. If I lose this battle, Charles could march on London…


After The End: CK2’s Best Mod?

the west

The year is 2667, and North America is just starting to recover from the end of the world. Feudal societies and strange religions dominate the continent in its neo-medieval age. This is the setting for After The End, one of Crusader Kings II’s most popular and comprehensive total conversions.

Inspired by (among other things) the 1960 post-apocalyptic scifi novel A Canticle for LeibowitzAfter The End welds a convincing Fallout-style America to the Crusader Kings 2 mechanics. The initial release included only the East Coast, with the modding team gradually working west. After a surprisingly short period of development, Calfornia is playable and the entire map is filled out, from Bermuda to Seattle, the Arctic to Guatemala.


The actual event that caused the downfall of the United States 600 years before After The End is only hinted at – it could be plague, or nuclear war or something else. What is known is that it massively depopulated the continent and set civilization back thousands of years. Only by the 2600s is the recovery truly underway.

After The End’s developers milk their fantastical setting as far as they can, filling the map with great flavor. My personal favorite is the work they put into the religions. The various forms of Christianity form a plurality, of course, though with some tweaks and oddities (ask Pope Praised-Be, who reigns in St. Louis, for more details). But the fracturing of society means that more fringe beliefs have exploded in popularity. There are the Rust Cultists, who scavenge for old-world relics and prize the technology of the ancients. Consumerism is a radical new belief whose adherents worship the Almighty Dollar and tirelessly perform the ritual of Shopping.


My favorite might be Americanism, which worships the Founding Fathers as gods and includes the President as a sort of democratically-elected Freedom Pope. Players who run for president can spend their ducats to hold opinion polls and launch attack ads dispatch Attack Heralds to demonize their opponents.


Also quite fun to play are the Atomicists of the Southwest, who hold holy the relics of the nuclear age. Those who receive the Blessing of the Atom earn the respect of their brothers in the faith – and also, probably, radiation sickness.


Of course, it’s not just the former United States featured in the mod. In Canada, Ursuline Catholics, High Church Anglicans and neo-First Nations groups like the Haida battle for dominance, all the while contending with the piratical Brethren in their lairs along the coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Mexico mostly follows the mystical Catholic-derived Sagrado Corazon religion, though neo-Aztec beliefs are spreading in the south.


Part of the fun is something that Europeans have enjoyed about CK2 for some time: digging around, finding your home county, and turning Podunk City into the capital of a sprawling empire.As an example, my home of Oklahoma is a divided, multicultural land, with white Texan and Dixie cultures ruled over by resurgent Comanche and Cherokee tribespeople. Local sports teams are often reincarnated as mercenary bands. Look out for the cavalry charges of the Brave Men of Atlanta, or the California-based Cult of the Apple.


The mod is loaded with easter eggs and references from American history, pop culture and folklore. This Reddit post compiles many of the best, and players can almost always spot a new tidbit of local flavor. Look for Kate Beaton in the Maritimes, the Always Sunny crew in Philadelphia, and Lovecraft references galore in Occultist New England.

This wonderful, engaging setting is welded on to CK2’s already excellent gameplay. The latest versions of the mod take advantage of the new Horse Lords mechanics, with Tribal and Nomadic governments roaming the northern Great Plains, and Silk Road-style trade routes splayed across the continent.

There are a few flaws and bugs that occasionally crop up, as you’d expect for a mod that is constantly in development. Still, I can’t help but be honest about this: I have genuinely enjoyed After The End, and plan on playing it quite a bit over the coming weeks. If you’re interested, the places to check out are the CK2 modding forum thread and the Github repository.

Expect to see After The End streamed on our Twitch sometime soon!