Rating: 4 out of 5
Feudal lords, kings and emperors may have large holdings and huge armies, but their domains are largely dependent on trade. Throw the Patrician families into the mix and you’ve got a setup for conflict that doesn’t always involve swords and horsemen.
“The Republic” expansion adds in the merchant republics of Genoa, Pisa, Venice and Gotland to the already complex “Crusader Kings II.” Trade posts and extravagant family mansions largely replace the castles and large cities you’d normally rely on as a king. Sea lanes and trade routes are paramount.
I honestly didn’t even know if setting up trading posts would be very much fun, and after playing through a few campaigns as the various merchant republics, I’ve realized that it really isn’t. Fortunately, along the way I learned that “The Republic” isn’t about trade—it’s actually about the long-running feuds between the various Patrician families.
Starting as the serene doge Domenico Contarini of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, I’m in a battle against the Faliero, Ziani, Dandolo and Morosini families of Venice. This isn’t going to be fought just with soldiers, but also with trade, gold, holdings and, most importantly, reputation. Although doges are elected for life, I’m in it for the long haul. The Contarini family must prevail, and winning the doge elections is a big part of that.
The doge acts as spokesperson for the Venetian families and is generally the most respected family head. Respect is immensely important and adds a new dimension to the prestige-system in “Crusader Kings II”.
Although the metric isn’t visible outside of the republic tab, it’s the determining factor for the doge elections. Gold, trading posts, holdings, prestigious family members and ties to the right people are all key factors in amassing a large amount of familial respect.
This respect isn’t global; as the Contarini family, I ended up in a feud with the Morosini family that spanned across multiple generations and doges. It started with a Morosini party that I was not invited to. This progressed into assassination attempts and plots to seize control of each other’s trade posts.
The appeal of “The Republic” is definitely in the details since not much of the core game has changed. If you enjoy sending armies sweeping across the globe to lay siege to cities and castles, playing as a merchant republic probably won’t be very fun to you. However, if you enjoy the idea of focusing on intrigue, diplomacy and trade to become powerful—welcome to the family.