So you've decided to play as the Norse for the Old Gods expansion. I'm going to focus on the Ylving, living in Östergötland.
So the advantages of the Norse in 867 are as follows:
- Subjugation CB allows you to take over the kingdom that your primary title resides in (eg. Ylving's Östergötland resides in the De jure of Norway)
- With Raiding you are able to send an army over to any rival faction's land and raid their goods for some nice cash.
- Norse raiders can travel throughout the river system (mainly through Rus)
- With the Norse invasions of Britain it is possible to aid your fellow Vikings and therefore have a premise to take over the British isles
- Quick expansion from your native lands can quickly allow you to create the Empire of Scandinavia.
- Reformation can finally halt the Christian upstarts down south from ever expanding into your territory.
The disadvantages of the Norse in 867 are:
- <Without reformation, Gavelkind is the only succession law available to you unless Norse is reformed or you convert to Christianity.
- By raiding certain areas often the wealth gained will often decrease as it takes many years for a province to recover and over raiding from many different Norse seafarers in a particular province can leave a constant economic low in that region.
- Christian holy wars from the south can become common especially if they hold Denmark.
When beginning as the Ylving you can see that you have 4 provinces and you can field around 1000 levies. You have a bit of cash but if you want more the first thing you need to do is start conquering or raiding.
Your guy isn't married so let's get that started. I recommend finding someone with attributes like genius, quick or stats like high intrigue, these will make your heirs have generally positive traits that are transferable over many generations and having good intrigue means that she can possibly become your spymaster and you can easily assassinate your sons if there are too many for your territories.
So with the offspring issue now solved you can wait for those to appear and begin taking over your immediate area. Now pagans with the ambition "Found the Kingdom of X" gain unlimited invasion CBs until that goal is achieved. This has some limitations such as invasion CBs only being available to that de jure kingdom and neighbouring lands but that's still better than having to fabricate claims on all those duchies before being able to create the kingdom. Since you’re in Norway, lets put that ambition on. Remember that once you accept this ambition, you can't choose another one until it is achieved or you die. Quickly claim those provinces to your north as they only have either one or two counties each. After this you can continue north and west claiming all those counties until you can claim ownership over Norway. I would also recommend taking over many locations in Sweden as the Kingdom of Denmark will most likely be created in the first 10-15 years and you don't want to also have the Kingdom of Sweden choosing to pick a fight with you the moment you found Norway. By taking counties in the de jure of Sweden you are also guaranteeing that you can take over the Kingdom of Sweden after Norway is founded, therefore increasing your chances of creating the Empire of Scandinavia or reforming the Norse religion before your character dies and you have succession crises all over your land.
This should take approximately 10-20 years depending if your character dies and your sons take your land before you can create Norway or any other unforeseeable events occur.
So you've created the Kingdom of Norway, you should also have a few Swedish counties under your belt and you're trying to work out what's next. By now your man should be getting into his 50s or more so your sons might be coming of age and you can see your kingdom falling into small pieces of land where your sons quarrel about whose going to be the next king. So let's look at the religion tab. Oh so you've got two Norse holy shrines. One's in Norway and the other in Sweden. Two of the others are most likely inaccessible as the Kingdom of Denmark has been founded and the Kingdom of East Francia holds the other. But it looks like Zealand in Holland is still an independent Christian. Well you only need three to reform the religion so let's free Holland up for a Norse invasion. Now you can prepare an invasion of Friesia, which could take a few years but would grant you the entire land mass or you could have a holy war for Zealand and hold the county on its own. It's really up to you. I would just holy war it so you can reform before your character kicks the bucket and you lose the lot.
Zealand is now under Norse control? Good. Now let's reform so you can get those better succession laws.
Reforming the Norse ReligionEdit
With the reformed Norse religion, you are now a Fylkir, sort of like the Caliph to the Norse people. You can call "Great Holy Wars" against other religious bases, similarly to the Crusade or Jihad that the Christians and Muslims have. You can also now change those succession laws to make your kingdom last without a major split among your children. You've probably only got minimal or low crown authority so elective will most likely be the best way to keep your Norse Dynasty going. If you were clever and reformed the Norse Religion before creating the Kingdom of Norway (more difficult but easier in the long run) you can set your succession laws as Primogeniture (First born) and then create the Kingdom of Norway. It's not necessary but can make it easier than taking four generations to move crown laws up to high without having any successful claimants.
By being reformed, you are also making it more difficult for other faiths to convert you, mainly the Christians to your south. The only major problem is that many of your land will still be "Old Norse". These heretics don't see you as their head and wish for the old ways to continue. Make sure they are very mistaken and don't fall back into the old ways. It will be difficult if your heir is Old Norse so make sure that important figures like him aren't going to destroy all that you've worked for.
Now there are two paths that I recommend to you. First of all, you should reunite all the Norse beliefs in Scandinavia so that you hold three kingdoms. Since you should already hold two, Norway and Sweden, you can either take the easy option and take over Finland and then after the empire is created, offer vassalage to Denmark. The alternative to this is to take over Denmark, this can be more difficult as they are unified but it is still possible.
The other path, which you should do, is involve yourself more in England. Throughout your years as leader of the Norse people you should already had several of your subjects leave to carve their own kingdoms out. This has already occurred in Britain and if you've been keeping an eye on them and aiding them in their wars against the Christians then most of Britain should be Norse already for you to incorporate into the empire. This can be done through succession or invasion CB (NB you should still have the invasion CB but it will be only accessible once per generation so use it wisely). The other thing you should do is support those adventurers who are fighting all around Europe. I've seen a Norse Africa after one of my cousins left to take on Africa and the Muslims with 2000 of his men and 30000 of mine that I lent him for a couple of years.
With 1066 beginning to come around you'll notice two major differences that are beginning to occur. For one, the rivers will start to close off to you once and for all. Therefore raiding will become much more limited. Secondly the Norse cultures will begin to split into Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish. This will only apply to those areas specified prior to you beginning the game. Those Norse lands outside of Scandinavia will still remain Norse and this will mean that your empire will now have foreigner disadvantages and you may have all five different cultures as apart of the empire.
Later on in the game, around the 12th or 13th Century, the Christians will be able to call crusades against the Pagans. Make sure this doesn’t catch you unawares.
So you've created your Norse Empire, convert the heathen, keep the heretic in check, and enjoy The Old Gods for Crusader Kings 2.