I have tried completing the tutorial. I have also watched (and will continue to watch YouTube tutorials). I tried two campaigns. One as a Romanian Count of Severin and I got destroyed by the Hungarians. The second I was an Irish chief of Desmond on "Newb Island". I am still playing this one, I learned how to raid, and build up my infrastructure first. However, I still do not generate enough gold and I am currently getting threatened by a Normandy kingdom.

I am okay with losing and struggling. For instance, I made to weak claims without knowing what I was doing and West Francia came and showed me why I shouldn't do that followed by some Scandinavian lord. I just want a fighting chance and see some progress.

So, my questions is, what are some 2nd nature steps that competent players of Crusader Kings 2 will make to start generating gold? I first get married, then set up my court. Next, I raid to try to get money. I was able to ransom a lord which greatly helped. If it is too broad a question since there are many different lords and situations, You can just answer pertaining to a player starting in Desmond. Thank you so much for your help!

2 Answers 2


CK2 is a pretty detailed game with lots of nuance, so I'll give you some brief tips and hopefully that'll help you out enough. :-)

At the beginning of the game, make sure you've paused the game. This is the single most important thing.

There are a number of actions you'll want to take ASAP. First, look to see if there are any better councilor candidates. For each position, go to the hiring screen, and replace your current councilor if beneficial. Then, when you've optimised your council, ensure that all your councilors are doing something. (This is generally true throughout the game.) For gold, place your Steward in your city with the highest gold generation to Collect Taxes. (If you have decent income, you can instead have them Research Economy Tech.)

You may wish to open the character finder (default key is .) and locate a suitable suitor -- a childbearing spouse, ideally with Genius, though Strong and Quick are also good. These traits, which are heart-shaped instead of circular, are positive genetic traits that can be passed to your descendants. It might be worth getting betrothed to a strong candidate who isn't yet of age -- this means your stats will be lower until they marry you, but having Genius children is very powerful. You can read more about breeding here.

As you acquire land, make sure you don't go over your demesne cap; that would reduce all your gold income multiplicatively.

I would recommend starting off playing feudal rather than tribal, since it's much easier to get a grasp on the game. That said, if you insist on playing a tribal raider, you should be aware of how raiding works.

To fully reap the benefits of raiding, ideally you would complete a siege to sack the holding. This gives you some gold, but more importantly gives you the opportunity to take a prisoner. You'll generally want to raid locations with poor defenses -- tribal counties with temples tend to work well, as they don't have a strong castle that you have to go through first. Click on counties before you move your raiding party in to check what's there; you would siege (and sack) the holdings in order, from left-to-right. Alternatively, any prince-bishopric is generally a strong candidate for sacking.

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    Thank you so much for the helpful information! I got consumed in the game last night during my first time playing. Ended up staying up till 1 am while wondering what had just happened. Man, work was not fun today! Feb 7, 2018 at 21:06
  • One small add on question. Is it necessary to people into positions like Master of Horse and what not in the beginning? I see the advantage of gaining favor, but I feel like it isn't necessary since I just noticed they take a wage which lowers my meager gold income. Feb 8, 2018 at 14:57
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    @CodyFerguson The wage taken by honorary titles is actually generated out of thin air, and does not come out of your pocket. As for whether to do it or not: generally yes, but keep in mind what that title actually does... it may affect you.
    – Schism
    Feb 8, 2018 at 22:19
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    @CodyFerguson Schism might refer to the titles "Designated Regent" and "Cupbearer". While the regent is obvious (the person who becomes your regent when you become infirm or get imprisoned), the Cupbearer title bears a hidden danger. It gives the holder a huge bonus to their plot power when they are involved in a plot to murder you. You should never give it to someone you don't trust 100%.
    – Philipp
    Feb 22, 2018 at 12:52

The ability to raid implies that you are a tribal. Tribals always have low cash-flow because tribal holdings generate very little income and tribals can't build cities. They can build temples, though, which generate a modest tax income (But note that when you adopt feudalism, you get a temple for free in every county where you don't have one yet). But it's not actually that bad for tribals, because 1. they pay with prestige for many things other rulers pay for with cash (holding upgrades, tribal armies as an alternative to mercenary companies) and 2. they can make money through raiding.

If you don't want to be poor as a tribal, then raid, raid and raid. Whenever you are at peace, you should have most of your troops out there pillaging (or even when you are at war - although you can't switch on raid-mode while at war, you are not forced to switch it off). Preferably not too close to home to not make too many nearby enemies. Use the economy map mode to look for rich counties. The bright green ones provide the most loot. Also look for counties which currently have few troops and low fort levels. If your raiders can win a siege, you get a considerable sum of money and maybe even a hostage or two which you can ransom.

Feudal rulers have a lot easier time when it comes to amassing wealth. Their main sources of income are taxes from their demesne (any castles they own directly) and taxes from any direct vassals. So you might want to aim for the long-term goal of converting to feudalism. Just keep in mind that this step should be well-prepared, or you might get into trouble.

Among your vassals, the biggest cash-cows are your mayors, followed by priests (note that in some religions, priests will only pay taxes if they like you more than their head of religion). Feudal and tribal vassals do not pay any taxes by default. Their main purpose is to provide troops. You can make feudals pay a small amount of taxes if you want to, but it comes with a non-negligible permanent opinion penalty (Laws->Obligations->Feudal Taxation).

Having explained the basic mechanics, here are my tips for maximizing income:

  1. Max out your demesne size cap (number of holdings you can control directly without getting a penalty). You can do this through:
    • Warfare. Make sure you use a casus belli which gives the contested title(s) to you personally and not indirectly through another vassal.
    • Revoking titles from your vassals. Revoke titles through intrigue plots if you can. Revoking from the character menu might be faster and have less conditions, but it has a large opinion penalty with all your vassals which is usually not worth it.
    • Building more holdings in the counties you already control (if you can afford it)
  2. Do that preferably with the capital holdings of counties which have at least one city.
  3. Raise your State Stewardship score. Each point in state stewardship gives you a 2% bonus to your income. Your State Stewardship is your personal stewardship + that of your steward + half that of your spouse.
  4. Raise city taxation. Keeping those filthy lowborns happy isn't nearly as important as with your other vassals (but you still might not want them to get too far into negative opinion, because each negative opinion point means they pay 1% less tax).
  5. Make sure all your priests like you more than they like the pope... or convert them to a religion which has no pope.
  6. You need to spend money to make money. Invest in Castle Town upgrades for your castles. If you can afford it, build more city holdings in your counties.
  7. When you have to give away a profitable county or even a duchy, consider giving it to a priest or mayor. That will give them a "wrong government type" opinion penalty which makes them even harder to manage than a feudal/tribal lord, but still gives you some of the income you would miss out on.

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