Since there were not many great events in the last session, this week’s AAR (note that we’re having a one-week hiatus due to the Midsummer festivities in Scandinavia) will focus on my plans for the game.
First, as you may have noticed, the Komnenoi are loyal to the Empire in spite of personal differences with the Emperor. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve got the “Seriously at odds with my liege” event, and chosen to reconcile. And since I have, at the moment, a claim on the main title of the Emperor, and he’s beset on all sides by rebellious vassals (being nine years old; the Dukas AI has an absolute talent for putting Byz in its usual state of quasi-meltdown), it’s quite a temptation to join the civil war, put a strong man on the throne, end the internal strife, and present a united face to the barbarians. However, Arkadios refuses to do that, because of the issue of legitimacy. If a Komnenos can do it when a weak Dukas sits the throne, what’s to prevent a different Strategos from doing it when, in some future year, a weak Komnenos sits there? The Empire has never lost a war except when it was riven by internal disputes, usually over who should be Emperor. The Komnenoi in their Theme of Antioch are the eastmost line of defense, marcher lords who glare across the crumbling frontier at the hordes of the infidel; nobody is more aware than they of the danger in thinking internal enemies more important than external ones. Thus, I will try for the allegiance of Counts disloyal to the Emperor; I may march on rebellious Dukes and, if I win, take their lands for Antioch and not Byzantium; and certainly there is no objection to marrying the Emperor’s eldest daughter, if he gets around to having one. But the Two Lions will not be raised in rebellion against Rome.
Thus my internal goals; what of external ones? Obviously I will strive to extend the power and glory of Rome, although the full project of Justinian is likely out of reach for Crusader Kings. Indeed, in Crusader Kings playing a blob is rather annoying even though it’s by no means impossible; I’ll try, therefore, to play historically by creating allied Kingdoms on my borders, rather than expanding directly. Thus, if I win big against Russia, I may annex the Crimean peninsula, but expansion into the steppe proper will be done by creating a Kingdom there and putting a Komnenos kinsman on the throne. Similarly, in the Balkans I’ll expand as far as the Danube, but if I need a buffer against Poland it’ll be done by creating a Hungarian kingdom. In the Levant, my goal is a vassal-ally Kingdom of Jerusalem.
An exception is the Mediterranean islands, in order of priority Rhodes, Crete, Cyprus, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and the Baleares. If at all possible these will be added to the Empire, ideally as demesne of the Emperor. This is because they will be important naval bases for EU3; with a good navy and enough bases, you can spend 400 years projecting power against anyone with a Med coastline who annoys you, while being relatively safe from retaliation. Conversely, you don’t want anyone else owning islands close to your own coastline.
Overall, then, the plan is to maintain Byzantium at its pre-Manzikert borders; put the Komnenoi on the throne without a civil war; create buffer kingdoms to protect the civilised core from barbarian armies; and gain naval control over the Med by acquiring island bases. We shall see how it goes.