Crusader Kings II – The Chessboard Basics (Part #1)

From starter to advanced. Part 1. Once you’re done with this guide you’ll have a basic understanding of your chessboard. Once you’re done with the entire series you’ll have an understanding of Crusader Kings 2.

Understanding Vassal Opinion

Opinion is the most basic concept and the most important. This number is displayed next to a character in almost all menus. Green is good, red is bad.

The higher a vassals opinion of you, the more taxes and troops they give you, and they are less likely to act against you.

The lower a vassals opinion, the less they give you and they’re more likely to destroy your life and slaughter your children.

Introduction to Stability

Stability is not an actual game variable or mechanic and it’s not visible to you as a player. It’s an abstract concept I always strive for.

A realm with high stability has no factions, no rebellions, no revolts and it has no unruly or unpredictable vassals. It’s a realm of internal peace and rapid external conquest. It’s a realm where everything goes exactly the way you planned or even better than that!

A realm with low stability has rebellions, revolts, factions, murder, loss of territory, you name it. It is a realm of chaos. Everything not part of your plan can be thought of as a loss in stability. As a failure on your part, because generally you should be in control of everything that happens.

So how does one achieve Stability? This is what the next guide in this series will be about. For now it’s enough that you know about it.


I’ll only mention the 4 most important menus, how to approach them and how to set them up. The rest are yours to familiarize yourself with, which can be done by hovering over them and reading the tooltip.

I’ve ordered them in terms of importance:

  1. Succession
  2. Intrigue
  3. Factions
  4. Search
  5. Council

Succesion is who will inherit your titles when you die. You should strive for Primogeniture or Ultimogeniture to make sure the titles always remain within your family. While successions that depend on voting are often easy to rig they bring with them a menu you have to keep track of. Once you’ve got Primo or Ultimo you can forget about this menu. Hover over the question marks on each succession law and find out what you need to make it happen, then implement the one you want as soon as possible.

Intrigue, Factions and Council I consider “Active Menus”. That means you need to actively manage them constantly during the game. The other menus can be forgotten about until the game lets you know about them. The larger your kingdom gets the more time you’ll be spending arresting and sorting through people in this menu. It’s important to keep your prison filter on foreigners, since that reduces load times for the menu.


This menu lets you know which vassals are grouping up to get you to do what they want. When a faction has an army 30% smaller than yours the game will notify you and it can act against you. If it acts and you refuse to grant their demand you’ll be facing a large scale civil war. Ideally you never want this to happen. (Step 2: Stability will teach you the details on how to avoid this).

A vassal with above 70 opinion usually doesn’t join a faction against you and a vassal with less than 70 usually leaves a faction if you improve his opinion above 70.


Intrigue does 3 very important things for you. These are the “active” parts of the menu.

  1. Sub-menu “Threats” shows you the vassals in your realm that have the largest armies and the lowest opinion of you. The larger the army and the lower their opinion of you is, the higher the threat. Everyone in this list needs to be killed, imprisoned or deposed.
  2. Sub-menu “Known Plots” lets you manage known plots. Plots are destructive actions a character is planning to take against another character (your own character for example).

You can either choose to ask a plotter to end a plot, or arrest him (arrests can fail). Knowing about a plot is vital. It gives you direct power over one of your vassals (preferably over a vassal that is a major threat to you). You can choose to arrest plotters whenever you want. Ideally one-at-a-time, and with your army raised and waiting in their capital province.

Imprisonment is the way to go (unless they like you usually above +70 opinion). It will allow you to take their lands and titles if they refuse to go to jail, or eliminate them as a threat if they accept. If they like you, keep them out of jail unless absolutely necessary. As long as they like you they’ll be giving you more money and more troops.


The council menu contains your most active chess pieces. In general you want each of your councilors to have the highest skill for their role in the world.

The active part in this menu that the game does not notify you of is when a council member is gathering support from other council members. You’ll find this information under the submenu “My Council”. If a majority of your council members support him and the council is empowered he can use his majority to vote in laws that you do not want.

You can see which vassal is gathering support by hovering over the “returning favor to” icon. Replace this unruly vassal immediately.


In this menu we get to save search filters. Below I’ll provide the search filters which I believe are vital to achieve high stability. And it makes finding characters of value easier.

Here’s the purity filter to keep the realm “clean”. In frank terms, the filter I use to find and murder or depose all characters of the wrong religion (more on this in Step 2: Stability):

Here’s the filter I use to find characters with the highest stat in each of the professions:

Here’s the filter for finding appropriate vassals:

I’ll be expanding on everything in this guide in the following guide(s). The chessboard has been set up, let’s advance to Step 2: Stability.

Created by Sceluswe

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