What do you know about the history of the Iberian Peninsula? We suspect not much. Because for some reason, this part of Western Europe is a blind spot in history classes and even in film and television.
We want to claim that most of us know practically nothing about the Iberians’ people, kingdoms, and religions. Most of them still know the turbulent history of the colonial era in South America and the sinking of the Armada. But basically, it’s only on the edge and the Iberian peninsula itself.
It’s good that there are video games, especially those from Paradox Interactive. For example, in Europa Universalis 4, you get to know the Kingdom of Aragon and learn how Spain was founded in the first place.
With the DLC Fate of Iberia for Crusader Kings 3, the Swedish developers are focusing on another historical conflict, the details of which most people also know little about the Muslim rule of Iberia and the Reconquista. A new game concept is introduced to properly represent this complex battle, which we will probably encounter more often. So this tiny DLC should be groundbreaking for Crusader Kings 3.
It suits you if…
If you are interested in the history of the Iberian Peninsula.
If you don’t, want to color the map.
If you like to play in the region.
It doesn’t suit you if…
If you expect significant changes in the Muslims.
If you don’t plan to play a ruler in Spain.
A struggle of epochal proportions
The central feature of Fate of Iberia mentioned is the new gameplay mechanic wrestling. It’s an exceptional condition for a geographic region and all the characters and realms.
As long as the conflict is not ended by one of three solutions, four states alternate, intended to reflect the current mood in the region:
Opportunity: Uncertainty sets the zeitgeist. You can take advantage of the situation and wage cheap wars or use the openness for intercultural relationships and marriage. Aggressive actions lead to the hostility phase and diplomatic efforts to reconcile. Holy wars are disabled.
Hostility: Tensions are at their maximum. Cultures and religions hate each other. Marriages between the camps are forbidden, and wars become even more accessible. The economy and technological progress suffer as a result. Due to war fatigue and diplomatic actions, this phase will sooner or later slow down and turn into »compromise. «
Reconciliation: If the tolerant actions have prevailed in the opportunity phase, Reconciliation occurs. Tolerance and cultural diversity flourish. Wars become expensive, but it is easier to rule empires with different religions and cultures. In addition, the Iberians can unite against external aggression.
Like hostility, Reconciliation slowly ticks down into compromise as opportunists, conservatives, and intolerants rekindle old concerns and strife.
Compromise: pragmatism characterizes this phase, in which wars are most expensive, but the economy is booming. The exhausted countries recover so that ultimately new scope for political adventures arises again. The phase of opportunity begins again.
Each phase has it is dynamic.
So each of the phases brings different modifiers, bonuses, and penalties. For example, mercenaries are remarkably cheap in the stage of opportunity, and several claims can be enforced at once. No holy wars are allowed for this.
As a result, this ensures a constantly changing dynamic in your game that makes expansion, marriage, alliances, and economic investment easier or more difficult. If you want to get the most out of your realm, you must adapt to these circumstances – and, if necessary, pave the way to a phase that is more comfortable for you.
You help determine where the conflict is headed.
You certainly influence the course of the conflict phases, at least to a certain extent. Many of your actions affect the progress of the current stage. Befriending another character during Opportunity scores points toward Reconciliation. Declaring war, in turn, draws the entire region closer to the abyss of hostility.
However, the actions of the computer-controlled rulers are also included in the calculation. So if the AI wages endless wars, your attempts at Reconciliation will be fruitless.
Additionally, a few significant events and decisions can end a stage immediately. One of them is the Council of Toledo. If you, as a Mozarab, own the province of Toledo directly, you can summon the bishops of the Mozarabic faith community and decide on the religious attitude. If you choose to be tolerant, the phase will immediately transition to Reconciliation.
Conquest does not always lead to the goal.
Ultimately, to complete the cycle, you or the AI must meet the objectives for one of the three endings. The developers have ensured that conquering alone does not lead to the solution. Thus, the three endings of dominance, status quo, and relaxation are challenging to achieve. Still, they grant you powerful bonuses for your dynasty, with Status Quo being the worst ending overall because it permanently eliminates the possibility of founding the empire of Hispania.
On the other hand, the bonuses of the reconciliation ending are pretty attractive, but you can’t achieve this if you conquer too much of the peninsula, which is a nice change from the endless map spread.
New events and decisions
Of course, the ringing system isn’t everything. The DLC includes many new events and decisions, which are also limited to the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. Some relate to historical events, and others expand on everyday rulership. For example, you can get a visit from a blacksmith who claims that his family forged swords for the Roman legions as far back as ancient times and that he puts his services and knowledge at your service – for a lavish fee, of course.
You can also expect new decisions, such as the Council of Toledo mentioned or the restoration of the Toledo Empire. You can build pilgrimage routes if there is a holy site in your empire or fund Jewish researchers if you are in the reconciliation phase.
Also included are new artifacts, such as the Bells of Santiago. There are also new 3D character designs, monuments such as the Alhambra or the Mosque of Cordoba, and, last but not least, chess boards. Because yes, you can now play chess and lose entire counties. However, the system is implemented a little oddly as an event chain with decisions only vaguely reminiscent of real chess, which detracts from the flair accordingly.
The atmosphere is a minor point of criticism. Despite a large amount of content, the feeling for Andalusia, the Reconquista, and the Muslim world does not always come across as one hundred percent. On the one hand, we were a bit lacking in the appropriate musical accompaniment. On the other hand, Crusader Kings 3 is still focused on Christian Europe. The game with the Muslims is not significantly different.
Of course, this is not a particular problem of the DLC but of the game itself, but for the Iberian struggle to take off from the point of view of a Muslim ruler, a large DLC that focuses on the Arab-Muslim world is needed.
The free patch
As usual with Paradox, a free patch will appear alongside the DLC. This time it brings a map update for Iberia and a new rebel faction that wants to destroy the title of the chief (similar to the independence faction).
There are also new vassal options. You can now promise your subjects a right to marry. With this, you promise always to arrange an engagement with one of your family members. In Muslim kingdoms, you can grant jizya status to a non-religious vassal, which earns you more taxes, but you can no longer convert the provinces. Furthermore, a religious leader like the Pope can simultaneously be the leader of different subgroups like the Mozarabs.
A DLC for the future
All in all, Fate of Iberia is a successful flavor pack. You get a lot of content for seven euros, but it only relates to the Iberian Peninsula. However, we recommend giving it a chance, if only because the border area between Christians and Muslims in the Mediterranean is one of the most exciting regions in the world in Crusader Kings 3 anyway. If you are not interested in this world region, you can ignore the DLC.