#CK2: A Game of Thrones – #1 The King in the North

I’ve been needing a reason to blog for a couple of months now since I got wrapped up in writing The Land Down Under for The Higher Tempo Press and then got caught up doing a lot of work. I’ve been playing a lot of Crusader Kings 2 lately because I wanted to try out the Game of Thrones mod. I figured I’d write some brief updates covering each play session and the events going on in Westeros.

This could last for one or two updates, this could run as far into the future as the game will let me go before I must stop. I have no idea. Because it’s just how I play Crusader Kings, I’ll be basing my decisions in-game on whoever the character I’m controlling is. If I have an honorable and just lord who has traits suggesting he’d just want to maintain the status quo of his realm, that’s what I’ll do. If I have a deceitful, ambitious lord who’d want to do whatever he can to expand his realm, then guess what? We’re marching to war!

We start the game as Torrhen Stark, the King in the North during Aegon the Conquerer’s invasion of Westeros. The King in the North has five children at the start,  none of which are landed or married. I’ll take care of that. Moat Cailin and Sea Dragon Point went to my two oldest children and everyone was given an appropriate spouse in the North or abroad.

Things were quiet in the realm for the first four years. While Aegon the Conqueror led men to war for the Iron Isles, the Reach, and the Mountain and the Vale, the Starks looked to the North’s interests, and the years were spent focusing on improving the dynasty’s situation in the realm which, to be fair, was great to begin with. I had to command the lords of my realm to stand down from petty wars against each other, and we did imprison the lord of House Stane of Driftwood Hall. Skagos has been a thorn in my side, frequently attempting to go to war or conspiring in unjust plots that threatened my realm.

In this brief insurrection, King Torrhen the Just, in the year 7999, led an army of his own personal levies to the islands to put the rebel forces to the sword. The Lord of Driftwood hall was permitted to bend the knee, but his four-year-old child was taken as a prisoner of the war and would spend the next nine years in my prison. Honestly more because I forgot he was there than anything, but there happened to be no insurrection against the king while the kid was a hostage.

In the year 8001, Aegon the Conqueror set his eyes on the North. He sent a raven declaring the North to be a lawful realm of his kingdom by right of conquest. The King in the North could either bend the knee and be spared, or resist and be beaten in war. Hah, the North knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is Stark!

The banners were called, and we were immediately put on the defensive before my 24,000 men could all be gathered up. The war started off very poorly, with many provinces falling to the Conqueror’s fleet-based armies and massive host on the ground. It was a defensive war, chasing his men around and grinding them down for years. Eventually, the Northmen were able to split their armies down. A 14,000 man army led by Prince Brandon, heir to the North, held his lands around Moat Cailin and kept the main army from crossing the Neck into the North. The 11,000 man army led in the interior by King Torrhen spent years fighting smaller, though not insignificant, armies until we ground them down to a couple thousand men here and there. The army was halved, with one group liberating seized territories and one rounding up stragglers.

In the year 8009, King Aegon sued for white peace. After a bloody decade of war, he had ground down the Stark armies to the point where I was wondering how long we could sustain levies, but he was feeling the same effects of the war. Five years of failing to hold a meaningful amount of land in the North had cost him tens of thousands of men during a winter war.

By all accounts, a white peace can be considered a win for the King in the North. Despite Torrhen’s aching to lead men down into Westeros to take the war to the Targaryans and find an upper hand to enforce demands on the Conquerer, the fact that we held our own lands can be considered enough. It was a war to preserve our sovereignty, and by holding Aegon’s army to a stalemate, we did just that. The Targaryans had to win, we just had to beat them back.

The war cost us tens of thousands of men, including Prince Jorah, Torrhen’s second born who died in battle, but we didn’t bend the knee. The North has a ten-year truce to recover from the war and size up the Targaryen kingdom, which is fractured by an independence rebellion running concurrently with his still-ongoing invasion of the Vale and his stalemate in the North. Aegon or his descendants will likely return for round two, but the North is waiting for him. King Torrhen of the North has no interest in expanding the realm so I won’t be doing so with him unless there is some really opportunistic claim to a marriage coming up.

The day will come someday we’re standing on our own against the might of a unified Targaryen empire and have to fight them all off or bend the knee, but it’s not today. Today, we celebrate our victory and mourn our losses.

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