Arslan of Ili, Emperor of India: Part 1: 769-770: Karluk Dating Agency

After all the complains about how difficult it is to find eligible wife with distance and religion issues, modding the game to fix some of them, and restarting (in case my mid-game modding messed up anything), the most eligible potential wife in the world ended up... in next county.

Seriously, Ipek was literally in Zhetysu (working there as spymaster), and she's Tengri Karluk with Genius, Ambitious, Honest, Temperate, and Brave for total of 11/18/11/13/10. 16 years old, 6 health, and 60% fertility - not super high considering how many children she'll have to bear before she gets strong genius son statistically - but still pretty decent, and I'll have backup concubines.

Her major downsides are that she's only level 1 stewardship education, and she's lowborn (like every other Tengri woman in the world apparently). Generally wife stewardship is the most important stat, not her martial, as spouse stewardship influences your demesne limit, but you get bonuses only from your personal martial as far as I know.

Of course for prestige and dynastic continuity reasons I immediately needed 3 concubines for which I immediately sent - it didn't really matter much who, I can replace them at later date at no cost if anybody prettier shows up or gets captured. One was Rajput Hindu (and hated me as I had no caste), one was Panjabi Buddhist (and only somewhat disliked me), one was Pecheneg Manichean (with no siblings, poor thing...). Karluk tribes definitely suffer from lack of eligible women. All 3 concubines are gluttonous as I found after they arrived. One of them even managed to be super cute while stuffing herself with goat pie. Karluks don't care for shallow things like how heavy a woman is, just important things like how many healthy sons she can bear.

Oh and obviously I arranged marriages for all my councilors as soon as they chose their ambition to get married (as almost everybody does) - there are very few Karluks on the map, so they'll be my most likely vassals in the future once I grow a bit bigger - and getting relationship boost now for fulfilling their ambitions is easier than trying to arrange that once they're landed.

Did I mention before that CK2 is just an elaborate dating simulator? If only you could so easily see everybody's stats and traits in the real world... Tumblerina -50 relations with chantards; Brave, 50% mtth to get an STD and so on.

While my ambition to get married (next one is to improve diplomacy, becoming king has to wait) was being taken care of, I also attacked tribe of Chuy on day one.

Next part of the plan was raiding civilized people in county of Fergana under emir of Khiva - this is seriously my only source of hard cash, tribes make pretty much nothing whatsoever in tax, I won't make any money raiding other tribes since they're also poor, and there are no Jews to "borrow" money from that far from their homelands in Warsaw.

Plan of course had to change as Khivan League independence war spawned in Fergana and another county. In the long term I don't mind them being divided, but I don't want to conquer any of that now - as long as I'm tribal I won't get significant amount of cash from it - and I urgently need money and prestige and looting settled people of Fergana is right now my only possible source.

Fortunately rebels were kind enough to raise their troops and move away, so it ended up being even better - instead of just skimming money off the top I fully sacked 4 holdings. Unfortunately no prisoners, and I'm still pretty far away from being able to afford significant amount of mercs or tribal troops.

At least dynastically it's good news - my wife bore strong daughter (who can't inherit as a woman), and two of my concubines are pregnant.

The most obvious next step would be to conquer Manichean tribe of Chach, but tribe of Penchenegs can join on defender side in county conquest wars as they're same religion (if I understand correctly), or high chief of Turkestan might opportunistically DoW Chach as soon as I destroy their armies, making us hostile to each other. Neither of these scenarios sound like fun (well, if Turkestan goes in, I can just GTFO for free, but then they could subjugate war me as the next thing).

I'm currently at 816/1533 troops since it takes long time for a freshly conquered county to have levies - it's a bit hard to figure out how many troops other people can raise as their army. Assuming every tribal vassal raises their whole army and enters as ally, other countries can raise:

* Chach - 473
* Khiva - 689/726 (way less than tribals, as feudal lieges get small predictable % levy from vassals, tribals get unreliable high alliance troop)
* Zhetysu - 771
* Kirghiz - 841
* Kimak - 1407
* Pecheneg - 1336
* Turkestan - 3203

I don't have CB on Kirghiz, but I would get one once I'm duke and neighbouring them. So basically my choice (once I somehow get larger army) is one of:

* ambition to become king of Turkestan, subjugate Zhetysu, buy high chief title, invade Kirghiz and Pechenegs, then maybe subjugate Turkestan at some point and become king of Turkestan - leaving ambition and capital move available, but making expansion north really hard, so that's a quick way to India strategy

* once-in-lifetime subjugation of Zhetysu, buy high chief title, invade Kirghiz and Pechenegs, move capital to Kirghiz or Pecheneg territory, take ambition to become king of Cumania etc. That costs me once-in-lifetime subjugation but Zhetysu is way easier to conquer than Kimak.

* once-in-lifetime subjugation of Kimak, move capital there (I think it would be free since high chief of Kimak would be my primary title and moving to historical capital of primary title is free), invade Kirghiz and Pechenegs, ambition to become king of Cumania, unite Cumania. Zhetysu might possibly accept vassalization, but Turkestan won't and I won't have any CB on them. Very high potential to blob north, but slow way towards India.

There could still be some exploits with moving capital while having "become king of <your current de jure kingdom>" ambition, I'm not sure really.

Detour to get Chach (or for that matter Fergana - even with wrong holding type and wrong religion penalties it's still worth something)

Another option would be to bribe people into plot to kill high chief of Turkestan to remove biggest threat, and have his two child sons split his demesne - I'm nowhere near the point where I can throw money at stuff speculatively, and it's hard to predict what would be the outcome with tribal mechanics - civil war would be nice but not guaranteed.

And if Turkestan went into war against someone (Pechenegs would be best), I'd definitely get Chach quickly while they're busy.

Oh and I don't want to get into opportunistic county conquest against Pechenegs - I want their 3 provinces in de jure Cumania, not get 1 province in de jure Turkestan I can DoW for, and then wait 10 years.

Did I mention I want to keep this series brief and with much less detail than my EU4 games? How about that...
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