Crusader Kings 2: The Republic is one of the expansion’s for the Crusader Kings 2 series (read base game review) which is focused around allowing the player to experience one of the four great republics. These republics include Venice, Pisa, Genoa and Gotland. It’s of the players own prerogative to expand these republics and their trade empire in order to amass great wealth and at the same time maintain their dominance over the rival patrician families who seek nothing else but to rule over the republic.
When beginning the game in the year 1066 you can choose to play as any of the four republics. Each republic has a starting character such as the Serene Doge Domenico II of Venice. There is also the option to make your own republic’s as well but I found it much easier to just play as one of the available four options. Each Doge will belong to a family, in Venice’s case it’s the Contarini family. Inside the republic there will be an additional four more families known as patricians that stand as your rivals in the upcoming elections for the right to rule the republic.
The rival patrician families actually become very important throughout a general playthrough. This is because if your character dies, their heir simply does not inherit the republic. These republics are run via elections and if you lose an election you will no longer be the Doge of Venice and will have to make do as a patrician. Therefore it is important to maintain a focus on winning these elections so you can maintain your hold over the republic. But that’s not to say it’s easy, it will get more and more difficult as the game goes on.
Now there are various things that you can do to maintain your hold over the republic to ensure you can win each election. But be warned though, not all of the options are sustainable and they do have their risks. One of the easiest ways to secure a win is to simply devote funds to your victory. Devoting funds will ensure your successor has the most points in their favor. Another option is to increase your successor’s respect which can be done by appointing them to an office such as the high judge or something similar. The other way though which is risky, but effective, might just be to simply assassinate your rival. Although I don’t recommend getting caught as that would be foolish and have dire consequences. The elections in the Republic expansion are a lot of fun and are definitely my favourite part of the game especially by the third generation as things between the families get very competitive.
One of the other things that was also interesting about this expansion during my playthrough of the game was the patrician family events. It was described in some of the Paradox Interactive promotional videos as being a rivalry on the level of the Montague’s and the Capulet’s and to some extent it is. There are occasionally these events that come up which sour relations between the patricians and may even provide you with a valid reason to assassinate a patrician that wronged you through a calculated and embarrassing insult. An example of one of these events was one where I was not invited to a party which included everyone but myself. You can choose to go to the party which will end in embarrassment. After it you can seek revenge or do nothing, the choice is yours, although I always sought petty revenge.
While I did really like a lot of the events, I sort of wished there were a lot more of these random events added in. The Great Ball event was one that I always got for every single one of my playthrough’s for the expansion and I found it to get repetitive as the game wore on. I also think that it would have been good if there were events such as meetings or agenda’s that the patricians had to come together for, for the good of the republic, even though they despise each other. Maybe one of the patricians does something during these events that starts a rivalry and a hatred between the families. I didn’t feel so much that it was a great rivalry that I had between the families because most of it really is just situated around the elections and a few random events. Sure the rivalry is there in that sense, but I never really felt as if I hated any of the patrician families…… However there was one character I did hate, but he was no patrician, instead he was the King of Croatia.
On every single playthrough as the Republic of Venice I was declared war on by the King Of Croatia. This would not only happen just once throughout a playthrough, but consistently throughout all my games. I don’t know what the Doge of Venice did to insult him but the King definitely did hate Venice. I was doing nothing but simply building trade posts and watching my elections, then all of a sudden, Bam! War! Crusader Kings 2 is a good game because while you may think that you have everything in control in your territory, there always seems to be some character out there plotting to kill you or see your rule end in ruin. It’s that character that usually comes out of nowhere and if you don’t know what you are doing properly can damn near ruin you completely.
Going to war will of course cost you money and interfere with your ability to build new trade posts. One of the main things you will be doing with this expansion is building trade posts on coastal cities. These trade posts provide you with extra money. The extra money allows you to buy more influence in the elections, upgrade your holdings or to even hire mercenaries. It’s a very important part of the game and one of the things I thought was very well done in the expansion.
Trade posts are constructed all along the coast of any area that does not have a family currently constructing or has constructed a trade post there already. If there is no trade post there then you are welcome to pay for one to be built. However the further the trade post is away from where you are the more running costs there will be. Also there is always the threat of the embargo or something like that that may slow you down from expanding. You do not have a monopoly on the area either, other patrician families will also be taking territory of their own all over the map so you gotta pay attention to this otherwise you may have nowhere to go if you neglect building these posts for too long or lack the funds to build a far away one.
Trade posts once constructed must also be upgraded. This will ensure great wealth and prosperity for your family and will further add to your pot of money which can be used to fend off threats or secure more opportunities. It’s a delicate balancing act that one must play though when they decide to either invest in a post they already have or expand to more instead. I always have limited funds especially early game so what you do at the start may come back to get you or even save you late game.
Overall the Republic Expansion offers a lot of new activities and features to the base game of Crusader Kings 2. If it’s the only expansion you wish to buy or your first one it’s definitely a good one to start with because playing with the aim to win elections while fending off rival patricians is a lot of fun. Expanding your republic through trade posts and amassing a large amount of wealth will also teach you a lot about money in the game and is a very different way of playing compared to what the base games offers. I did think that this expansion added a lot of content into the game and I was surprised at how much fun being the Doge of Venice was. Crusader Kings 2 is all about the plots and while you may feel secure in your territory and have control over the patricians someone may just be plotting against you without you knowing. It’s great, it’s complicated and it’s a lot of fun. If you enjoyed the base game then this will definitely keep you entertained for hours and hours.