If you’re more interested in the roleplaying aspects of Crusader Kings 3 than the map-painting gameplay, then the Tours and Tournaments expansion is a real treat. Even looking beyond the countless new events which breathe life into the game’s quieter moments, there are a wealth of new features and gameplay tweaks to enjoy.
The overhaul to activities is probably the ‘noisiest’ aspect of this DLC. Feasts, weddings, tournaments, pilgrimages, and tours have seen a major reworking and now offer new opportunities, rewards, and gameplay. For one thing, your character now moves around the map to attend these shindigs. A new travel system lets you plan routes, avoid danger and hire experts to ensure a safe, short journey. This is a small system, but it adds a nice little bit of extra crunch, is very intuitive, and ups immersion, helping you genuinely feel like you inhabit this medieval world.
When you’re away from home you’ll have your regent step in. This brings in another new system, power sharing. Regents may follow your mandate (mine even got me absolute crown authority while I was on holiday) or pursue their own goals. An ambitious regent can battle for control with their liege, becoming entrenched or even setting up a coup. I have a sneaking suspicion this feature is one you’re more likely to exploit yourself than have to worry about falling foul of often, but it’s still really enjoyable stuff.
These smaller systems surround a wealth of new roleplaying content which makes up the bulk of the Tours and Tournaments DLC. When I first tried Crusader Kings 3 around its release, the biggest issue for me was how relatively barren it felt compared to the previous game, fully fleshed out with all its DLC. This fixes that, at least in my view, making for a way more varied gameplay experience. There’s loads to do now, from getting gored by boars, to arranging a murder feast, and you’ll rarely find yourself reaching for the fast forward button during peacetime.
Whatever kind of activity you’re attending, Tours and Tournaments will generate memorable stories and choices. In one duel I kicked an opponent in the family jewels and then lost hold of my sword and accidentally maimed a bystander; during a feast I broke up a brawl and then decided to toast myself rather than my guest, the Holy Roman Emperor; while on the road I decided a bear was a sign from god. These are flavourful, often surprising encounters, which give you multiple interesting options and help to bring the Crusader Kings’ world to life.
And there’s tons of them. After many hours of playtime I was still rarely coming across the same events twice. Obviously it happens – for some reason someone always seems to stop to pick flowers on a hunt, for instance – but nonetheless, it’ll be a long while before you’ve seen everything Tours and Tournaments has to offer.
Tournaments are the most exciting activity in my view, and deserve a special shout out. You can set these up to include anything from poetry recitals, to melees, to horse racing, and your interactions will be different depending on whether you’re competing, spectating, or hosting the contest. You can also come with a different agenda, from blowing off steam to pursuing a scheme against a fellow attendee.
While at a tournament you’ll be able to visit different buildings, like a church, tavern or nearby village, each offering new kinds of encounters. And if you’re going for victory, you could win through hard work, or sabotage. There’s a surprisingly dense web of choices here, and it’s a strong point of the DLC, a testament to what’s possible within the new activities system.
Accolades are another tentpole feature of Tours and Tournaments. These are titles which you can create for knights and give both them and you bonus abilities. Over time, as your knights grow in glory, the accolades level up. While the idea is a fun one, I was less sold on this feature’s application. Maybe it’s just a UI issue, but I found it quite fiddly to figure out which knights are applicable for which titles. And when I was in a war, I was constantly having to find replacements or new heirs for these accolades, which felt like a lot of work.
Like the regency and travel systems, there are a few more changes here that won’t blow anyone’s socks off, but do add some nice crunch to go alongside the charming roleplay options. For instance you can now station men at arms in your territory, and they’ll gain different bonuses depending where they’re plonked. And vassals now have different attributes, like ‘gloryhound’, which means there are actions that can piss off or placate large groups of them – it makes your vassals opinion more varied.
Tours and Tournaments is a huge improvement for Crusader Kings 3. It does so much to dispel the slightly barren feeling the game had before and fills it out with the level of variety I want from this series. Arguably, it makes peace more fun than war. I also can’t wait to see what modders can do with the system.
Overall, this is a podium-placing expansion I think we can all raise a goblet to. However, before closing out I want to give an important caveat. Despite singing its praises, I can’t tell you if you should buy the Tours and Tournaments DLC. That’s because there’s a free update coming alongside the new expansion, and I cannot for the life of me figure out what’s paid content and what’s free.
A video from Paradox explains the additions that come in this free update, and they seem to touch on basically every part of this expansion, from the activities and travel, to the new vassal attributes, to the regency system. The only thing I’ve found that definitely seems to be excluded is the knight accolades – which is the feature I found the most underwhelming anyway.
At the moment, I’ve not been able to find a clear breakdown of free and paid-for features. Perhaps there’ll be one available by the time the DLC comes out, in which case you can make a sound judgement for yourself. It’s obviously great to see Paradox being so generous with its free content, but this time it’s a struggle to know if they’ve included enough in the paid DLC to make it worth the price tag.
A sumptuous, flavourful feast
The latest expansion for Crusader Kings 3 adds tons of really enjoyable character and flavour to the game, as well as plenty of smaller features to round out the strategic gameplay.