Religion- a pleasing distraction from the intense battles of M2TW, with enough depth and intricacy to have you wanting to explore it. To control it. While it won't actually make you control 45-odd territories and a certain city, it will certainly help- priests keep religious unrest in line, Cathedrals grant a growth bonus, crusades enable your armies to rampage through the old world at top speed, while the Pope stops any Catholics from attacking. A distraction it may be, but it's one that can be very useful in the right hands.
This guide will mainly focus from a Catholic faction point of view, but with minimal effort it could be adapted for Orthodox and Islamic factions- you can still train your priests and Imams using the same methods, for example.
- Holy Wars
- The Pope's Best Friend
- From Priest to Pope
- Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition!
- The Priest and Bishop Pools
Crusades and Jihads are likely to be set off during the middle game, and are a very good thing for you, as they have a few advantages:
- Crusader armies are off the payroll
- A massive movement bonus, so you can take a few cities on the way with ease
- The start of expanding in the east. Many faction objectives have a settlement such as Jerusalem in the east that they need to capture, and this is the way to do it.
- Papal favour, enabling you to call more crusades and to escape punishment from attacking catholic neighbours as His Holiness turns a blind eye.
There's a trick to getting to the target first- using boats and their amazing movement points. If it's a long way away you should have at least a 3 unit strong fleet to take your all-conquering army to the city. Mercenary boats will have to do when you're stuck at the top of the map, but this is fine, since when they're crusading boats you don't have to pay the large mercenary fee- always a good thing.
Bear in mind that crusades aren't just headed for the east- as your influence with the Pope grows, you will be able to order your own, more useful ones that are nearer to home. As your crusading armies emerge victories, you'll get rewards. Now, the florin reward is usually pathetic- 1000-2000 most of the time. But you also get a chevron for each unit, which quickly builds up as they are sent into more battles and crusades, and your general becomes insanely brilliant and chivalrous- it's a very quick way to bump up even useless generals, especially if they 'win' the crusade.
The problem with all this is getting enough favour with the Pope to be able to call these crusades. Let's dive into the murky world of religion of M2TW.
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The Pope's Best Friend
In the beginning you'll get a Cardinal, usually near your capital. This is your sole representative for the Pope in the early game, and you'll be hard put to get another for a while unless you've got a neighbour who's a different religion to you (Venice, for example, has it easy in Papal affairs). But to find favour with His Holiness, you'll need the following ingredients:
- Churches- especially upper tier
- A theologian's guild if possible (to be used with...)
- More Priests
You will loose favour if you:
- Allow a rival religion/heresy in your lands
- Demolish a church or chapel.
- Continually make war on your catholic neighbours
- Fail any Papal missions
You will find your favour going up especially when you've got priests everywhere spreading the faith. You have to execute heretics quickly before they spread Heresy in your lands- a big no-no- and the rating usually goes sky high when you have all your regions on at least 85% or upwards Catholicism. As likely as not you'll need to put multiple priests in the area to make it go quickly, depending on the piety ability.
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From Priest to Pope
Piety is what determines the effectiveness of the humble priest, as you well know, and higher tier churches and Theologians guilds, which you can get by cranking out your holy men at top speed, affect the initial rating.
As your priests waltz around the map, you'll find traits such as 'Servant of God' and 'Battler of Heresy' come through. This is due to the two main ways of boosting a priest- travelling and executing.
Travelling is simple enough- make your priest go to an area where your religion is in a minority, or at least close to 50%, and let him stay there until the region gets a decent amount of converts. This will make your priest(s) supercharged, and it's a very easy way to get Cardinals- especially if they're working as a team- but there are dangers. In high heresy areas your priest's faith is being tested all the time, and while most of the time he'll gain positive traits, he may become unorthodox. Once this happens, I do suggest pulling him out, as there is a risk of said priest becoming a Heretic automatically. This is very annoying, but if you look on the bright side it's extra experience for your faithful servants that haven't slipped into the dark abyss.
This brings us neatly onto the second way to train priests- execution. It's easy- find a heretic, and try to prosecute them. The successful killing of this blasphemer results in good traits, but a failure unswervingly ends in 'Poor prosecutor', which takes a piety away, so pick your targets well.
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Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
The Inquisition arrives if you've not done your job properly, and it is a very bad thing indeed. You'll find your family members put on trial and executed if you've been lax on your religious duties, hence reducing the amount of influence a governor can give to a city (reducing the income). The best thing to do is prevention, but if an inquisitor does arrive in lands that have low piety family members, you may wish to get them out. Neighbouring regions should be fine, as long as it's outside the inquisitor's movement points, but I find that a boat is safest- the inquisition can't swim, or else the Bible might get wet. Also remember that your priests and, should they be found, other agents will also be put on trial, although I think if your spy or assassin has his stealth not 'broken' (No way of telling this, though) the inquisitor can't see him, and so is safe from prosecution. Nobody expects the inquisition, but you should make it doubly so by stamping out Heresy immediately.
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Traits: Both Hidden and Obvious.
There are many mini-traits or hidden traits for you to discover for priests as well.
Orthodoxy/Unorthodoxy: This is a rating of how true to the faith your priest is. Affects the chance of becoming a heretic and surviving an inquest
Violence: You will want this trait in your Popes. It determines how likely a Pope is to agree to a crusade.
Eligibility: Determines the cardinal's standing in the collage of Cardinals. The more the eligibility, the more likely the priest is going to be a Preferati.
Purity: Also effects the priest's standing in the collage of Cardinals, but also affects the chance of surviving an inquest or becoming a heretic, although in smaller quantities.
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The Priest and Bishop Pools
The number of priests you're allowed during the game is determined by the amount of Churches and Cathedrals you have in the kingdom. A small church or small chapel grants one priest, but a normal sized church or chapel doesn't grant any additional ones. However, an abbey allows another to your total, and a Cathedral has the snazzy bonuses of a) giving you Papal favour upon completion, and b) a bishop pool. This is a very useful feature for controlling the papacy, as your priests get a leg up with a 'Bishop' trait that gives +1 piety upon finishing training- be aware it seems to be a progressive trait, with Cardinal being the next level, you sadly you can't get +3 piety from being both a bishop and a Cardinal. Of course, this only happens when your priest if he's trained in a city with a Cathedral (in 1.1, anyway, due to there being a bug in that if a priest is trained in a city with a huge cathedral it reverts back to training normal priests. Hopefully this is addressed in 1.2). Each Cathedral grants a certain number of bishops to be recruited from the city, but each bishop pool seems to be separate from the others- that is, you can exhaust your bishop pool in one city, but carry one recruiting in another. There is defiantly a limit of bishops you can train, and you can recruit over 25 bishops from one cathedral, so I put the limit on 30.
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I hope you found this guide helpful in your plans to take over Christendom, and that you have as much fun putting your knowledge into place as I did researching it. See you on the battlefield!