When we dished out a perfect review score for Crusader Kings II a few months back, we never expected that such an excellent game would be graced by so many DLCs.
In fact, the DLCs for the game number fifteen as of today (after the release of the latest scenario expansion – Sunset Invasion). The DLCs comprise a handful of unit packs, face portrait packs, shield packs, and music packs; then, there are the game changing expansions (Sword of Islam, Legacy of Rome, and Sunset Invasion) that add more depth to the game. Finally, there is the Ruler Designer DLC.
The Ruler Designer DLC for Crusader Kings II is an interesting product that is activated after you download it from either the Ingame Shop (through Gamersgate) or from Steam – make sure you get the DLC from whichever portal you originally got Crusader Kings II from.
To access the Ruler Designer dialog, you need to activate a little button next to your ruler’s portrait before you embark on playing any of the scenarios. Now, to really enjoy the Ruler Designer DLC, you must think of it as a character generator like those you would find in a role-playing game. It follows its own set of rules to generate a ruler, so if you are looking to create a “superman” type character – like a 16 year old ruler with 16 sons and 16 positive traits, then this is not the product for you. The Ruler Designer DLC creates “balanced” rulers for your enjoyment in both solo and multiplayer games.
There are three tabs to the Ruler Designer dialog: Appearance, Coat of Arms, and Attributes. The first of these – Appearance, allows you to customize the sex and look of your ruler from a rich set of facial and visualization features like eye color, hairstyle, clothes, headgear and age. If you don’t feel like customizing appearance manually, you can click on the dice to randomize all features. This randomization can be further constrained to a set of predefined rules based on ethnicity.
The Coat of Arms tab allows you to apply your own heraldic design on an escutcheon (or shield). You first select the division of the field (background of your shield) – the field can be divided into a maximum of four quarters. You then apply a background to the field and pick from a selection of nice-looking emblems. Heraldry designs can be much more complex, but this will have to do for Crusader Kings II.
The most important tab in the Ruler Designer must be Attributes. With this tab, you can edit the first name and dynasty name of your ruler (or randomize it), choose whether he is married, whether he has any children, to what culture he hails from and to what religion he believes in. You can also tweak character attributes (diplomacy, martial, stewardship, intrigue and learning) as well as his health and fertility.
More importantly, you must select your ruler’s education and traits. The list of education choices and traits will either add to or subtract from your ruler’s age based on the listed amount. In fact, so do most of the options mentioned earlier. You can’t begin play if your ruler is not within a legitimate age range.
The Ruler Designer DLC without a doubt does a great job. You will enjoy clicking through the many sliders to see what choices the game has in store for you. You will soon come to realize however that this is the biggest problem with the DLC; there is way too much clicking to do, especially when it comes to customizing the layout for your Coat of Arms. Also, you can’t save a ruler design as a profile or template to be loaded later in future games.
One other thing you must never forget, this DLC is for creating balanced rulers. So if you are looking for somebody who has the Genius, Crusader and Strong traits, is married and has 5 sons and 4 daughters – then you can forget it. That ruler would be 150 years old and completely unplayable!