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Crusader Kings utilizes the Europa Universalis game engine, but presents the medieval fiefdoms of Europe from 1066 to 1419. The Crusader Kings map includes the Urals on the eastern edge, as well as parts of Persia and the coast of North Africa. In a twist, games of Crusader Kings focus on wealth and honor more than territorial acquisition, with players trying to hoard as much Prestige and Piety as possible. Contending with bishops, feudal lords, and the magnates of other provinces is much of the challenge. Saved games can also be converted into Europa Universalis games for additional gameplay.
Gameplay takes place in real-time, though players can choose to pause the game at any time, allowing for careful strategy. Feudal society is represented with laws, nobles, burghers, priests, peasants, and religious superstitions. Combat features exotic units like Mongolian light cavalry and English long bowmen. As their dynasty gains power and prestige, players receive special awards from the Pope, and can choose to join a religious order like the Knight's Templars, The Knights of St John, The Teutonic Order, the Order of Calatrava, and the Order of Santiago. ~ All Game Guide