Crusader Kings 2: game over

I finally finished the game. From the previous post, I needed 4 more rulers till the game ended in the year 1453.

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I managed to increase the score by over 40k since then to a total of 88,555. Quite good considering that best dynasty (the game has a list of historical dynasties with associated individual score) has a score of 100k but then again I was playing on easy difficulty level.

By the end of the game, my ruler was Emperor of Britannia, King of Ireland, King of Wales, King of England, King of Andalusia, King of Poland and King of Anatolia.

King Gabran the Bold reigned the longest (63 years) while King Zee 1 Mau's reign was the shortest (10 months). The latter died of "Slow Fever". Poor boy.

Here was the extent of my territory at the end of the game (marked by the number 12, symbolising the number of rulers):

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Some of the more significant events since the last post are as follows:

1. After capturing a few more counties in England, I managed the create the land title Empire of Brittannia.

2. As Emperor of Britannia, I then had justification ('casus belli') to declare war to capture all counties in Scotland and some counties in France but I could do it only 1 county at a time, with peace treaty lasting 10 years with the opposing ruler. I could declare war before the treaty ended but I would suffer penalty in relationship with all Christian rulers. Gah.

3. Due to marriage to a duchess in Hungary, eventually my ruler had control over some counties there.

4. I participated in another crusader called by the pope to wrest the Kingdom of Poland from the Golden Horde. Unfortunately, the Timurid had similar idea and separately declared war on the Golden Horde for the same territory and they battled fast and furious. While the crusaders were running in stacks of at most 5 digits (i.e. tens of thousands), I spotted a Timurid army of more than 200k! @_@ In the end, Timurid got most of Poland while I (the crusader who contributed the most to the crusade) was awarded, by the pope, a few counties but with the land title Kingdom of Poland.

5. Byzantine Empire, an empire that was bigger than Empire of Britannia, declared war on me for a county is Kingdom of Anatolia. Previously, when they declared war on me while I was in the midst of putting down a major revolt, I smply surrendered the county they were warring for but not this time. I was determined to put a stop to their foolishness.

Unfortunately, ironically in the midst of this war with Byzantine, some of my vassals revolted by declaring independence. The counties of these vassals were spread all over my empire in these kingdoms: England, Andalusia, Hungary and Anatolia. I knew I couldn't successfully handle both wars. Curiously, this time my ally, the Queen of Hungary (who was my wife then), was willing to help to put down the revolt whereas she wasn't interested in helping me to defend against Byzantine. It turned out to be a ruse of some sort because since my revolting counties were, at least temporarily during the revolt, independent, other rulers, with valid casus belli, could declare war on them without triggering a war with me.

In the end, Byzantine gave up (soonner than I expected, thank goodness) and I then concentrated on crushing the major revolt, which I did. However, I lost about half of my counties in Hungary due to some opportunistic rulers. I forgot to check but the culprit was likely my wife, the Queen of Hungary. Grrr.

Overall, I enjoyed playing this game but it was addictive and as such I had to be extra conscious of the time while playing it. Recently I bought the 'Ruler Designer' DLC and started a game on normal difficulty with a customised ruler. Hope that will go as well as this one.


Nuggets from Penang

During my Nov trip to Penang, I came across some really interesting stuff such as the following:

Deepavali 1

Deepavali 2

This Deepavali decoration ("Rangoli") was found at an Econsave store. What attracted me was the sheer size of it and the contrast of bright coloured rice used on a white background (also made with rice). It was unfortunate that a few days later, I saw that its side was slightly disturbed. Humph.

Lady's finger

Long bean

These vegetables (lady's finger and long beans) were found just outside a huge wealthy-looking bungalow near where my sister lives. It was my first time seeing lady's finger plant. Incidentally, that area has many huge multi-storey bungalows. So rich.

Cholesterol

In Feb this year, I had a cholesterol test and I wasn't happy with it, especially the borderline ratio of total cholesterol to HDL ("good") cholesterol. Since then, I've been taking oat every morning and exercise more regularly (at least twice a week). Although the frequency of exercise fell short of what I hope so (it's hard to motivate oneself to exercise!), the result of the latest cholesterol test this month bore fruit of my labour:

                                        Feb 2012     Dec 2012     Ref. range
Total cholesterol             5.4               5.5                < 5.2
HDL ("good")                 1.08             1.32              > 1.04
LDL ("bad")                    3.7               3.8                < 2.6
Triglycerides                   1.3               0.8                < 1.7
Total/HDL ratio              5.0               4.2                < 5.0

Although total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol level remain more or less unchanged, there is significant improvement in HDL cholesterol level, triglycerides and total/HDL ratio.

I hope to increase the frequency of exercise and to watch what food I eat more carefully.

Epicurus

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

- Epicurus

Update: Ron left a comment casting doubt on this quote (conventionally) attributed to Epicurus. Here's what I found from Wikipedia:

" This argument was a type favoured by the ancient Greek skeptics, and may have been wrongly attributed to Epicurus by Lactantius, who, from his Christian perspective, regarded Epicurus as an atheist.[14] It has been suggested that it may actually be the work of an early skeptic writer, possibly Carneades.[15] According to Reinhold F. Glei, it is settled that the argument of theodicy is from an academic source which is not only not epicurean, but even anti-epicurean.[16] The earliest extant version of this trilemma appears in the writings of the skeptic Sextus Empiricus.[17]
Epicurus didn’t deny the existence of gods. Instead, he stated that what gods there may be, do not concern themselves with us, and thus would not seek to punish us either in this or any other life.[18] "

Crusader Kings 2

There were many games on sale on Steam sometime during the last week of November (autumn sale), ranging from 25% to 75%. Never in my life had I bought that many computer games within a a few days! I, however, managed to stick to my buying games costing no more than USD10.

I bought Crusader King 2 for just below USD10 and that entitled me to the main game i.e. none of the DLCs (downloadable content) were included. I didn't purchase any of the DLCs mainly because I wasn't certain whether I would like the game enough to warrant getting its DLCs.

Well, it turned out I do like it :)

Ban, who purchased it earlier than me, did a quick research over the net and told me that one recommendation for beginner was to start playing as a character in Ireland. We later realised why: Ireland wasn't united as a kingdom then (default starting year is 1066) and thus didn't have a king. Morever, its neighbours, Scotland and England were still settling down as kingdoms (there were still powerful factions wrestling for the kingdoms) and Wales, similar to Ireland, wasn't united yet.

This grand strategy game ends in the year 1453 (approximately 400 years) or when your character no longer has an heir upon his death. Yes, you play as the heir once the existing character dies, so on and so forth. Oh, by the way, the game crawls day to day but luckily there's an option to speed the time dramatically and even pause it while you take some actions.

The game score is determined by the total amount of prestige and piety points gained by your line of rulers. At the moment, however, I would deem it a success if I manage to survive for 400 years judging from the various problems and issues the ruler has to contend with. My score currently is close to 50k.

In terms of expansion of my territory, here's what happen with 8 rulers to date (numbers correspond with those in the pictures below):

1. Started of as Earl of Dublin. Gained more duchies and eventually established the Kingdom of Ireland and later one conquered the Duchy of Ulster from Scotland to unite the entire island of Ireland.

2. Conquered most of Wales and established Kingdom of Wales. Conquered 1 more county a few centuries later. Didn't dare to do it earlier because England was very powerful then.

3. Joined a crusade and as the crusader who contributed the most to campaign, my ruler was awarded the spoils of war: Kingdom of Andalusia. Expanded by capturing 3 more counties from Castille but only with the help of some allies.

4. Joined another crusade and was awarded the Kingdom of Anatolia. Many years later, I willingly surrendered a county to Byzantine (opportunist!) as my ruler was fighting a tight civil war with his uncle, which he fortunately won with help from some allies.

5. In the latest crusade, my ruler was awarded all the counties belonging to England, which was then shockingly ruled by the Muslim kingdom of Fatimid! Oh my. I couldn't believe how far the English had fallen. From here, my ruler had the Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Brittany and some counties in the Arab peninsular.

Crusader King 2_1

Crusader King 2_2

Crusader King 2_3

Show proof

Have you met someone who refuses to believe in anything until it's scientifically proven by the relevant expert? I have and they come with varying degree of conviction. I would put myself in this category too but not to the extreme.

How extreme? Well, I know someone who seems not willing to entertain the possibility, even a small one, of truth of certain claim without scientific proof.

Now, imagine if every single person adopts such attitude. What will happen? Let's take an example. Until centuries ago, everyone believed the Earth is flat. If every person say, "I shall not believe anything contrary to that until someone scientifically prove it wrong", what will happen? No one will be bothered to find out, isn't it?

In that case, how will knowledge expand? How will mankind progress?

Mouse

This is a mouse and not rat, right? It looks too small for a rat. Frankly, I don't know how to differentiate them other than their size and that a rat looks...nastier? *shrug*


Mouse 1

Mouse 2

This mouse was found in the room I slept in at my sister's place. I guessed that it managed to squeezed between the window panels and the insect screen panels. For your information, at that time, I pushed the different panels to different sides.

I agreed with my brother-in-law that it looked quite cute but naturally we couldn't have a mouse running around the house, especially with a toddler and a dog in the house

It eventually left the room through the window after my bro-in-law pushed the insect screen panels to the right, where the window panels were. From then on, we have to make sure panels are shut.

Soup: Flower crab & bitter gourd

Flower crab n bitter gourd soup

Once upon a time, in the central region of Peninsular Malaysia, my dad boiled soup made of only flower crab with a little salt and nothing else but boy, it tasted very delicious and completely oil-less!

Right away I thought of Ban. He likes watercress soup the best but he doesn't like oil in the soup, even if the oil comes naturally from pork or chicken carcass. He also doesn't like the smell of ikan bilis (anchovy) soup although it's oil-less. See? Such a tough nut to crack, right?

So I tried replicating the crab soup. Ban couldn't stand the smell of the fresh crab and had to vacate the kitchen. He, however, did help to slice the bitter gourd.

Taking out the carapace was as easy as my parents said it would be. The harder part was chopping its body because I am not good at using a chopper. I fear chopping off my other hand should I use it to hold the food. It's not an unfounded fear because at times the part on the food where the knife connected was significantly away from the intended part. Scary.

After boiling for hours in the afternoon, I tasted the soup. It was not even close to as sweet as the soup my dad boiled. I cheated and added a little sugar. Tasted it again later. It was a little better but far from what I had hoped to achieve. Either there was too much water or too little crab meat.

Good news is that Ban doesn't mind having it again. I should clarify the recipe with my dad before trying to boil some again.

Eragon

Eragon

As I said before, the internet hadn't been set up at my sister's new place when I was in Penang helping her to move there. So one way I kept myself occupied at night when the couple and their toddler went to bed was to read book.

This book was lent to my sister by my other bro-in-law when he and my other sister were down here in Malaysia from Australia a few years ago. It is meant to be an easy reading for people who want to try reading fantasy novel and hence was recommended by my bro-in-law. However, my sister never did get started on it.

The story was enganging enough for me to want to read more about it. In fact, on some nights, I read till like 2am - 3am. The story so far promises bigger and better things to come in subsequent books and so this will determine whether I like the series or not. There are some series that disappoint me due to them not fulfilling the expectations that they have (inadvertently or not) created e.g. Tales of Alvin Maker (though apparently this series may be continued).

<minor spolier ahead>

So I'm looking forward to the land of the elves and the emergence of greater and varied power of the Rider in the second book, The Eldest, which was lent by my bro-in-law.

N.B: I'm quite surprised, after reading the book, to learn that the author was only 19 years old when he wrote Eragon. Wah.


Vegetarian noodle @ City Star

One of the few places we frequent quite regularly for dinner is City Star at Taman Bukit Mayang Emas. Ban normally doesn't like to have Chinese food (regardless of restaurant), including noodle, because they're usually too oily for his liking. He, however, seems to like this vegetarian noodle served there, as he orders it quite regularly (it's either this or rice with stir fried chicken with leek with a fried egg added).

Vegetarian noodle @City Star

I too like this noodle and more likely to order this if I already had meat for lunch. They use wantan noodle and has different kind of vegetables .Its price, though, is a hefty RM7! Compare that to the price of fried lou shu fun (RM6).

Moreover, the amount of leafy vegetable is usually not as much as shown in the picture above. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at the attempt to arrange them in this manner.

Despite its price, I would recommend it to anyone to try it at least once. It's appetising.