An Article on Vassalage, by sebinshaolin

I was introduced to the total war series through Rome Total War and later started playing Medieval Total War 2. In RTW there was an diplomatic option become protectorate but it was solely determined by the amount of cash that you can offer.(Since diplomats gain traits at an astonishing rate).

In the case of MTW2 it different because different aspects are taken into account so I shall be detailing about these aspects and how to improve them in the later sections. Comments? Questions? Please visit this thread.

Table of Contents:


BASIC THINGS TO GET A VASSAL

Here I will mention the primary steps to be followed to get a vassal, most of my readers will be aware of these steps but still I am adding this section for those who have never even tried to get a vassal and know nothing about it. Please note that if you do not follow the things mentioned here you will not succeed in making a faction your vassal as the info in the following sections will only increase the chances of you getting a vassal. Beat down the faction you want to make your vassal to 1-2 settlement. Make sure that the last remaining 1 or 2 settlements are surrounded by your territories OR make sure that there last settlement(s) are near the sea with their ports blockaded- this will result in a heavy hit on their economy.

Factions whose power is weak or very weak (pathetic would be ideal) will only accept to become a vassal naturally no one would want to bow before another when you are strong enough. Economy should be shattered before attempting to make a faction your vassal. Taking a few full banner armies to stand near the last of their settlements is a good idea as well, though not compulsory as it causes devastation- again shattering the enemy economy.

ROLE OF THE KINGS AND RELATED TIPS

The reputation of your King is a quite decisive factor when you try to make a faction your vassal. To be specific, other factions will more easily agree to become your vassal if you have a chivalrous King rather than a Dreadful King.

Tip to make your King chivalrous:

The most effective, sure-shot and quick way to make our King chivalrous is to sent him on a crusade. While sending him take care that you sent him to a near by place so that you can save certain number of turns wasted on traveling- I often persuade the pope to call a crusade on a near by rebel settlement for this propose. Persuading the Pope have many advantages. First, you can fight a rebel or an enemy of your faction rather than making a neutral faction your enemy (Usually when pope calls a crusade you are forced to declare war on that faction if at all you wish to join the crusade). Second, you can specify a near by settlement saving a few turn of journey.

These are the Retinue and Traits Gained from a successful crusade:

    Retinue:
  • Hospitaller Knight: +1 chivalry, +1 command
  • Templar Knight: +1 chivalry, +1 command (In some cases you do not get 2 retinue, such as when playing as the HRE, where you sometimes only get Teutonic Knights)
    Traits:
  • Grand Crusader: +3 chivalry, +3 piety, +3 Command

The last thing on crusades is that you should never send the same person again on a crusade, as he will not get bonus retinues and traits due to him already owning them. The Pope may some time request for the same person in, that case you may be forced to assign that general to crusade but make sure that you have another crusading army and that army will do the fighting.

That's all concerning crusade, but calling a crusade will not always be possible so there are certain other ways to make the King chivalrous and also certain things to be followed to maintain the chivalry of your King.

When your King is leading a battle never execute the prisoners, releasing them will gain you chivalry, while ransoming them will prevent you from gaining dread and will also earn you some cash or if the opposition rejects ransom offer, you can execute the prisoners without gaining dread. Do not exterminate captured settlements this seems to reduce the chivalry of the King where as slaking do not have a crucial hit on the King's traits, unless the King himself is the General of the battle. Even reducing the tax of the settlement where the King rules can produce quite good results.( Though I personally do not much recommend it if you are using version 1.0.0.0 of the games (Editor's note- Vanila M2TW) since the effect is not quite worth the money you forgo in that case). Using Assassins have a harmful effect on your Kings chivalry as it gains you dread. I have seen people who think successful assassination do not cause the king to gain dread, but this is not at all true. Successful assassinations too reduce the chivalry of the King at about -1 chivalry for every 2 successful assassinations or sometimes even for 1 successful assassination. So to make your King chivalrous forgoing your assassins is vital.

AGENTS AND RELATED TIPS

To make other faction your vassal is a diplomatic dealing for that you obviously should have good diplomats.

Diplomats with higher influence are bound to extremely useful particularly to negotiate a client kingdom agreement. Once, I was playing as England and was running out of turns- I needed 15 territories in 6 turns, which is quite a difficult task. Then I had a high ranking diplomat I sent him to negotiate vassalage with Spain which had around 7 settlements and quite formidable power. Still they agreed to become my vassal for a meager 15,000 florins. Thus that diplomat did saved the day. I hope now it is as clear as a crystal how good diplomats can be a treasure when coming to vassalage negotiation.

Tips on Diplomats

To train a good diplomat is a very difficult task and your only agent who can enter negotiation other than the diplomats are princesses who are even more difficult to train. Further more there is no guilds for diplomats in the game (that is quiet natural when relating to the medieval times history.). There is actually no sure shot way to get a great diplomat, in this aspect luck surely plays a huge role.

One way to train a good diplomat while playing a catholic faction is to sent a diplomat to the papal states. (I recommend papal states because keeping a good relation with the Pope has many other benefits more than acting as a practice ground for your diplomat.) At first do not put forward a deal, just gift the Pope with 500 florins do that for a few turns ( provided you can meet the cost). I particularly mention 500 florins because every gift of 500 florins will improve the relation between the factions to the next level. e.g "very poor" to "poor", "good" to "very good", "very good" to "outstanding" and finally "outstanding" to "perfect" (not to mention this will increase the no. of crosses in the Papal standings scroll). Thus with a few turns you can get a perfect relation with the Pope. You may also gift any mount like even 1000 F. This will upgrade the relation faster. eg. "good to outstanding" i.e there is no limit to the relation upgrading in one turn. After that if you offer alliance to the Pope with a fair amount of money or sometimes even without money they will accept the alliance offer. Once alliance is accepted you can put forward a deal , where you offer "map information" and demand "map info".

When doing this care should be taken that you explore something new with your agents or armies (using spy would be ideal) or else after a few turn the pope will reject your offer of map information. Never ask money for "map info" even if it is just a 100F, because AI seems to be too stingy to give money. Also don't try to do the converse that is give money and ask map info, since this too is not always accepted. At certain times if you suspect that they may reject your offer, you can make the offer like this "map information" and a little money (100F) for map info then it will surely give you the generous balance and will be most probably accepted.

In case you are playing as a non Catholic faction you can use the same strategy on any ally. That will be enough to make a good diplomat.( though you will not be able to shoot 2 birds with one arrow).

Offering "trade rights" is also usually acceptable but you can only offer "trade right" once to a faction(since once they accept it you can no longer offer them "trade rights") so not as effective as the above tip .

REPUTATION AND RELATED TIPS

Reputation is almost as important as the degree of weakness of your opponent. The higher the reputation the more likely opponent faction will become your vassal. though I have heard that dreadful king reduce reputation, I don't fully agree with that fact because reputation is mainly depends on what you do to the other factions. That is if you break alliance or attack an allied faction your reputation will suffer.

Tips on maintaining reputation

In the start of the campaign you will be neutral to all other factions and so you can easily forge alliance with almost all the neighboring factions, but refrain from it. Doing so will later bring down your reputation, as after a few turns some of your allies are bound to fight each other (since you have too many with conflicting interests), and then you will have to pick one side to favor. This effectively means you are breaking your alliance with the other, resulting in reduced reputation. Even if you are not in such a situation, you will eventually (as your military power grows) have to attack some of your allies to expand your empire so try to keep the number of allies to a maximum of 3.

Secondly avoid venturing out and attacking neutral faction, as this too will reduce reputation. You can easily do this because in the start of the game due to the many rebel settlements. After you have captured all the rebel settlements wait a few turns (you will obviously wait a few turns without a battle since you need to replenish your coffers and train new units)- by that time some one will most probably attack you. If no one attacks you then you may consider attacking them but try to reduce the number of initial enemies. Even breaking trade agreements will cause your reputation to drop. Players rarely break trade agreements as it does no harm and is simply mutually beneficial, but at certain times we will have to break trade agreements in order to maintain a good reputation. The benefit of breaking a trade agreement is that this will reduce the hit on your reputation if you wish to attack that faction. Simply breaking a trade agreement too affects the reputation one so when declaring "cancel trade rights" give some money or map info.(This have really worked for me). Again, before attacking the faction directly it will be a good idea to provoke the other faction to declare war on you by proposing unbearable treaties- however, this will take time to work.

THINGS TO BE KEPT IN MIND WHILE TRYING TO GET A VASSAL

First of all, never try to negotiate vassalage to a strong faction as it will only result in your diplomat gaining negative traits. Do not waste too much turn trying to make a faction your vassal. If even after weakening that faction is not ready to become your vassal then you may try again but do not forget to continue your empire's expansions in other directions. If you have followed all these tips as much as possible, and the faction is still not surrendering in 4-5 turns, it would be best to exterminate them. While in war with a faction your relation with that nation will go down to "Abysmal". It is often observed that when your relation with a faction is in abysmal there is good chance that they will refuse to the vassalage offer so do not attack them for a few turns (2 will do)- then the relation will automatically improve a bit. This is the ideal time for a vassalage negotiation. Always offer heavy cash with the become vassal demand (though I had a few instance where the simply accepted even without and map info offer). Last but not the least, care must be taken that you do not kill all the family members in the battle since that will destroy the faction and the remaining settlements will become rebel settlements- there was once an instance where I killed almost all the family members except one, that family member was leading an army outside a settlement. Then suddenly he rebelled and the faction was destroyed.


Thats all, hope this will help you make some vassals. After all it is great having vassals since we get money bonus and some territories will be gained without having to fight for it, more over it gives more satisfaction to make a faction your vassal than destroy it.