How to Ireland (867 Start) in Crusader Kings III


For Crusader Kings III players this guide will show you how to blob out and form Britannia, all while starting as a lowly Irish Chief.



This guide will walk you through conquering the British Isles as an Irish Chief. It’s mainly for people who understand the game’s mechanics but don’t really get what to aim for.

I played this format a bunch, reset a lot when I was dissatisfied, got one county away from Britannia, realized I wasn’t playing on Ironman, and then most recently formed Ireland on an Ironman run while being much stronger than anyone in the region.

We’ll start as the chief of Desmond, as a nod to my bro King Murchad of Mumu. Set the year to 867 and put Ironman OOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!

My knowledge of this game is not perfect, so please suggest any improvements to my methods. There will also be a tl;dr at the end of the main sections, so you don’t have to read this entire book of mine.

Before you unpause

Lots to do. The most important stuff, too. Start out by swaying your Archbishop. He won’t be endorsing you at the start, meaning that he won’t be giving you his gold and levies. Swaying is basically a free (unless you’re Shy) way to gain opinion points. Make sure to always be swaying, befriending, or romancing.

Next get 3 Bowmen Man at Arms (MAA) divisions. They’re the cheapest aside from Skirmishers, but Skirmishers are trash. They only counter Heavy Infantry, which is so expensive that nobody should have any. Skirmishers are also countered by Bowmen, which only cost like 10 prestige more. Bowmen benefit from hills and forests, which Ireland has plenty of. Bowmen are countered by cavalry, but cavalry is expensive and you can just build a Pikemen division later.

MAAs will be the backbone of your military for (I think) the entire game. At the start of the game they’ll basically be a supplement to your levies, but later on you’ll be able to wage wars entirely with them. It’s actually very good to do so, because they only cost prestige maintenance for tribal rulers. You can raise your MAAs anywhere, instantly. You can disband them on one end of the realm and then raise them up on the other. To raise them without raising levies, just raise your troops and then click on the X button next to the estimate of how long it will take for the levies to gather.

Upgrade your Bowmen as much as possible, but make sure not to send yourself into negative prestige. You don’t have to worry about using your prestige to declare war right now, because declaring on your nearby neighbors will cost piety instead.

Next we’ll look at lifestyles. This is a huge topic and one that I’ll dedicate a section to. For now, go with Martial – Chivalry. You have no vassals right now so the opinion boost is wasted, but the prowess and advantage boosts are really important since you’ll probably be commanding your armies personally for a while. The reason we go Martial is so as to pick up Bellum Justum ASAP. Bellum Justum reduces the prestige/piety cost of declaring war by 50%. This will save you A LOT of prestige down the road, especially because we are going to be declaring A LOT of wars. After Bellum Justum, swing through the right side of the Gallant tree and make sure to get Chivalric Dominance. This perk makes your knights 75% more effective. A single knight can be the equal of hundreds of levies, so nearly doubling their strength is totally insane. This perk will give you an edge against similarly-sized armies, and it’s even near to the top.

Now we get to the marriage. A lot of marriage. Because we’re polygamous. You start out with an unmarried son, so find him a wife. He takes priority over you since either he or your grandson will inherit the realm. Find him a young wife (in the character finder) with Fecund, Beautiful, or some level of Genius. Fecund and Beautiful raise fertility and come with other good buffs, and Genius is obviously very nice. And make sure he’s marrying a Christian or else you’ll be in trouble. I don’t think that your son can have multiple wives unless he becomes the player character.

Now it’s your turn to get married. Set the character finder filter to Religion: Christianity for your first wife. The reason is that a Catholic won’t much mind getting married to an Insular Christian, but would never marry someone who already has a wife. But they don’t mind at all if you marry 3 other people after them, so that’s what we’re doing here. Look for a wife with a high Stewardship skill, preferably Midas Touched, so that you can set her to Manage Domain and buff your own Stewardship a lot. This will get you extra gold and may even raise your Demense limit. Once you’ve sent out your marriage request, unpause for a bit until she accepts it. Now we can get more wives.

Your next wives aren’t as important, but they do have to be Insular Christians so that they’ll accept polygamy. I like to get one who has high Intrigue so that I can make her my Spymaster and not have to worry about getting betrayed. For the other wives it really doesn’t matter much. Go for fecund and such, or just settle for the ones with high stats.

Check through your council. The game starts you with the best people available in each role and you have no vassals, so that should be good. Set your steward to raise development in Desmond. It’s a tribal holding so its taxes are going to pale in comparison to your raid loot, and you’ll need Desmond to reach a certain development score before you’re eligible to convert to feudalism. This is a long process, so you might as well start now. Your marshal can be left on his levy reinforcement, since right now even 100 troops can make the difference, but you’ll be needing him to increase control in the counties you’ll conquer anyway. Levy reinforcement seems pretty bad compared to training commanders, by the way.

For our final act before unpausing the game for real, we’ll set the game to notify when feasts and hunts are available. Both of these amount to spending gold to gain prestige, which is huge for a tribal ruler. The feast decision doesn’t say that it gets you prestige, but it does. Do these events as much as possible, especially early on since the cost of feasts goes up as your realm gets bigger. You being a tribal ruler means that all this feasting will basically fuel your war machine. More prestige means bigger MAAs. By the way: If, while hunting, you get the event with the choice that gives a 50% chance to get wounded or die, don’t do it. It’s not worth it.

Another recurring decision to look out for are pilgrimages. Going on a pilgrimage amounts to spending gold to gain piety. You can spend around 50-250 gold each time, with more gold equating to more piety. But at the moment you don’t have a pressing need for piety and you also don’t have much gold, so maybe come back when you’re a little… MMMMMM… richer!

We won’t be raising tribal authority yet since we have no vassals anyway and we need that prestige to rush everyone else down ASAP.


  • ➤Sway your Archbishop
  • ➤Build max Bowmen
  • ➤Martial – Chivalry -> Bellum Justum, right path of Gallant
  • ➤Marry your son to a FECUND BEAUT
  • ➤Marry yourself to a super steward, a super sleuth, and two others
  • ➤Adjust your council
  • ➤Set feast and hunt to notify, do them whenever possible
  • ➤(Do the same with pilgrimages for your next ruler)

Getting the katamari rolling

At this point you should have the home front in order. Your army is growing steadily as your MAAs reinforce. So long as you can keep finding sources of prestige, they’re only going to get bigger and bigger. Now it’s time to find a target to sack with them. The AI does not seem to build MAAs nearly as fast as you do, so you’ll have little trouble rolling over anyone who doesn’t form an alliance. They will form alliances, though, because it’s painfully easy in this game. Thomond and Ormond often ally with each other, Ormond usually has another alliance with someone else, and the High Chief of Meath will almost always ally with the King of Scotland.

Due to the previous bold, underlined text, you’re going to have to avoid stepping on the Meath Chief’s toes. The AI can and will declare war on you if it covets your land and its armies are larger than yours. The best way to prevent this is to KEEP WAY AWAY until you’re strong enough. Consider Conacht your maximum upper limit for expansion. Especially avoid trying to conquer someone who is already defending against someone else. You’ll usually wind up at war with the other guy who was trying to conquer the place.

So here are a few conditions for the ideal target:

  • ➤Not defending against someone else
  • ➤A few hundred troops weaker than you in total
  • ➤Away from Meath
  • ➤No allies
  • Bordering you

Aim to snowball your way over the southern half of Ireland. Pounce on any weakness. Even in the worst case scenario, you can passively farm prestige to bulk up your MAAs. You can also raid your neighbors once your armies get stronger than their garrisons. I’ve never seen the AI raise its armies in response to your raid, so I imagine that they’d have to outnumber you significantly to do so. Try to command your raiders yourself, because this gets you a 30% chance each time for an event that can earn you extra prestige and gold. Personally commanding 20 raids will also get you the chance to get the Raider trait, which gives extra monthly prestige.

If all goes well, you’ll be able to create a duchy title. This will help tremendously. First of all, it gives you 300 prestige. That’s 200 Bowmen right there. It also gives you more monthly prestige. That’s more prestige, so more Bowmen. Being a High Chief will also let you hire another MAA division. That’s even more Bowmen Pikemen. I recommend having Pikemen as your 4th MAA to cover for your Bowmen, since they counter cavalry. Being a High Chief will also let you take on counts as vassals. By the way, your 5th MAA should be a siege weapon. By the time you can use them you’ll probably be more powerful than anyone else.

If you keep expanding then you’ll accumulate a lot of duchy titles that you can’t afford to create. Think of this as yet another opportunity to turn gold into prestige. At some point, you’ll also become the Irish cultural head. All this means is that you have to check every now and then to make sure that your culture is researching whatever tech is being exposed to an innovation.

You’ll probably have more children at some point, what with your 4 wives. Educate the sons and betroth the daughters. The sons should be educated in stewardship, since this can get you some great personality traits, some nice perks, and prevent you from having to worry about demense size. If you want your heir to reform the faith, go with learning instead and hope that he starts with the prophet perk (if that’s possible). Your daughters should be thrown at whoever will take them, starting with those with the most troops. Alliances can keep everyone off your back while you grow stronger. If an ally asks for you to join a war, just join it and then don’t do anything. Not your problem.


  • ➤Continue building up your MAAs
  • ➤Look for weaker counties (check for allies!) that are closer to you than Meath
  • ➤Wait until you get stronger than them, then conquer them
  • ➤Save the stronger targets for last
  • ➤Raid people in between wars for gold, turn gold into prestige, turn prestige into MAAs
  • ➤Aim to conquer the regions of Munster and Leinster
  • ➤Betroth your daughters for alliances
  • ➤Become a High Chief ASAP by creating a duchy title
  • ➤Wait to create other duchy titles until you need the prestige
  • ➤When you become the Irish cultural head, make sure you’re always researching whatever is getting an innovation

The bumps in the road

Expansion will bring its own problems. You’ll run out of weak prey and be forced to deal with stronger foes. You’ll hit your demense limit and be forced to take on powerful vassals. Your ruler will enter his 60’s and you’ll have to think about succession and heir education. You’ll run out of Irishmen to raid and have to consider more distant targets. Let’s go down the list:

No more weak targets
Usually there will be a few counties that survive your aggressive expansion. They have foreign allies, or they’re owned by powerful Jarls, or some other issue. The good news is that you’re not that weak anymore. The other good news is that you can still grow stronger, even while laying dormant. If you’re able to form the Kingdom of Ireland before you’ve taken the whole island, then you might be able to just offer vassalization to the remaining enemies.

Keep farming prestige, increase your control over your counties, and hope to gain a few alliances by throwing your daughters at people. With all the children you gain from being polygamous, it’s easy to have a stockpile of alliances ready to provide you with thousands of troops if anyone dares attack you. Calling allies into offensive wars costs prestige, but calling them into defensive wars costs none. This means that you can rapidly become the international equivalent of a grumpy porcupine. If the AI somehow manages to avoid being eclipsed by you personally, you can still at least hoard gold for mercenaries and prestige for calling allies into offensive wars.

Another small upside is that relying heavily on allies has some drawbacks. Say that you’re conquering Meath and he calls in Scotland. The Scots still have to take a few months to walk over to you. You can try to break Meath’s armies first and then intercept the Scots, hopefully gaining enough of an advantage to circumvent their raw numbers. You might also be able to siege out the Meath Chief’s county before the Scots even arrive, and take him prisoner. I once got that lucky, and it ended the war before the Scots could even reach our island.


Vassals are extremely easy to deal with as a tribal ruler. Their tax and levy contributions are based directly on your level of fame. You upgrade your level of fame by gaining prestige, which IS ALL WE’VE BEEN DOING. You can sway the few angry ones and just ignore the consequences of your actions. You can execute the heretic vikings you’ve captured and intimidate people into submission. You can please them with feasts. Even when they have low opinion of you, they’ll still be slow to do anything about it unless it’s extreme.

Powerful vassals will come into the picture and get butthurt about not being on your council. It’s honestly a matter of weighing the pros and cons. Sometimes a powerful vassal would be so bad as a councilor that it’s better to just let him seethe. Sometimes you really need him to not seethe, and he’s not that much worse than your best option. Sometimes he might even be good at what he does. You’ll have to make the call yourself.

As for which titles to keep: I personally like to hold on to the duchies of Munster and Leinster, including direct ownership of all the counties. They’re nicely packed and you can usually count on your ruler to have a demense limit of at least 5. Giving out the rest of the titles will make succession easier and prevent you from having to raise control in all of them.

You may have the problem of not being able to get enough vassals. I struggled with this, too, until I realized that people don’t need to be in your court to be vassalized by you. Just open the character finder and you’ll notice that you can grant titles to some of the people in it. I don’t get why only some of them can be vassalized and not others, but whatever. Filter it such that you’re shown non-rulers who are culturally Irish and at least Christian. Make sure that the vassal-to-be is culturally Irish or British, otherwise it will upset the Reclaim Britannia decision.

The ideal vassal:

  • ➤No other titles
  • ➤In your religion group
  • ➤In your culture group
  • ➤No claims
  • ➤Not brave
  • ➤Low intrigue
  • ➤Good stats other than intrigue
  • ➤Not an old man with no kids

We don’t want them to have titles because each vassal should be as weak as possible. Just as in CK2, the ideal vassal has the fewest number of counties possible. Of course our vassal has to be Christian or else all hell will break loose. Vassals get opinion penalties with you if you’re not the same culture and religion. The no claims thing is because I don’t want my vassals to go starting wars with each other. The bravery and intrigue thing is really important. Brave vassals are much harder to control, and master schemers will be difficult to assassinate.

Another reason to give out your titles is so as to leave less for your children to inherit. I’ve even had runs where I gave away all but 1 county just to disenfranchise all my other sons. It actually worked out quite well. All of your children will have claims on your titles, so you REALLY want them to stay weak. Ideally only your player heir will be landed, but this might not be feasible.

The way that I deal with this problem, aside from the emergency measure described above, is by forming Ireland with my first character. This way I gain access to the decision that lets you reform your kingdom’s succession laws to elective tanistry. An elective system might seem bad, but as you gain more kingdoms it will keep the realm unified since the vassals seem to pick the same guy for every title. The game lets you do this reform succession decision every time you pick up a new kingdom or empire. The 300 prestige cost is annoying, but easily met.


  • ➤Continue to bulk up
  • ➤Think a bit harder about who you declare war on
  • ➤Take Munster and Leinster for yourself, give everything else to vassals
  • ➤Find vassals in the character finder who are sniveling, cowardly, brilliant, clueless Irishmen
  • ➤Think about whether you really need each powerful vassal to be on the council
  • ➤Aim to form Ireland so that you can get elective tanistry

On top of the world but afraid of heights

So by now you should have eclipsed your ancient rival, the High Chief of Meath, driven out the last of the vikings, and maybe even broken Scotland’s back. You’ve mastered the art of laying back and letting your prestige solve all your problems for you, and your power is rivaling the strongest of anyone in Europe. Your ruler is getting closer and closer to dying from old age, and you’re worried about it all crashing down. Well don’t be. It’s easy.

The game from here on consists of conquering as much as possible, except now you don’t really need to worry about treading on toes. After forming Ireland, you’ll find yourself gaining strength even more rapidly while everyone else flounders. It’s unlikely at this point that anyone is strong enough to beat you. Prime targets: Scotland, Jarls in Scotland, and the weaker duchies around mainland England. The same principles from before apply. Just find someone weaker than you and cash in your prestige to conquer their duchies.

I haven’t yet had it happen to me where anyone in England or Scotland was as strong as a united Ireland. Forming Britannia from Ireland really is as simple as just conquering everyone. If there’s somehow someone you can’t beat, you already know what to do about that. Just wait while you grow. Forming Britannia will require you to get EVERY county in the British Isles, which is going to take a bit of a while. Start with the bigger enemies first so that you can carve out more territory.

This is around the time that you should start building buildings. The problem with buildings up until now was the prestige more so than the gold. Right around now you’ll probably be getting a lot of gold, and you know how to turn that into prestige. You’ll still need that prestige for war declarations, but after conquering Scotland your targets will all be pretty weeny. The available buildings will suck, but they’re better than nothing and they’ll get converted to feudal buildings when you convert. I always start with the prestige and gold generators, since they’re much more useful than the extra levies you can get.

Talking about prestige: You’ll need absolute tribal authority to convert to feudalism. We’ve been relying on prestige very heavily and had little to spare up until now, but you might be getting close to having enough to spare to consider stockpiling for law changes. Do not delay any further, since you’ll have to wait 10 years for each step.

Another thing to think about is changing the faith. You don’t need to do this, but it’s a really big boost. Doing so will require so much piety that only a ruler with the prophet perk could consider it, so consider whether the future holds enough peace for you to afford spending the perk points on this (and going through the minor instability that will ensue).


  • ➤Drop a steamroller on the remaining enemies, one by one
  • ➤Build buildings (obviously in your own counties and not your vassals’)
  • ➤Start upping tribal authority
  • ➤Form Britannia
  • ➤Maybe raise a ruler to reform the faith


I’m sure that this section won’t be a wall of text by the time I’m done with it.

Where do I even start? I guess I’ll go over the best perks and rank them by priority. Factors include both usefulness and investment required.

  • ➤High priority
    • Martial (listed first for a REASON)
      • Bellum Justum
        • Cuts the cost of casus bellis by 50%.
        • The earlier you take this, the more you’ll save. Especially useful for a tribal ruler who will want to be declaring conquests on everyone. It’s also right at the top, so it’s easy to get. You can then springboard into other useful Martial perks while waiting to be able to change focus.
      • Stalwart Leader
        • Makes your ruler less likely to get hurt in battle.
        • Since you’ll probably be the best commander available in the early game, this is a big deal. This perk is also a gatekeeper for some of the best perks in the Martial trees.
      • Chivalric Dominance
        • Raises your knights’ effectiveness by 75%.
        • Near the top of the tree. Insane. Knights play a massive role in winning battles and this just straight-up makes them better than the enemy’s.
    • Intrigue
      • The entire Torturer tree
        • Just two perks in and you can already eliminate the piety penalty and clergy opinion penalty for torturing, which are the main drawbacks. You’ll have plenty of filthy pagans to practice upon due to the viking invasions. Even without them, it’s not like abducting your fellow countrymen in order to torture them to death as a display of dominance for their children to witness is such a difficult thing to do, right?
        • The other perks give you way more dread gain. Did you know that having high dread can make vassals terrified, in which case they won’t ever defy you directly? Like ever? HMMMMM… And what’s with all these perks that raise your gold, levies, and prestige for having dread? Big thonks required for this one.
      • Truth is Relative
        • Enables the fabricate hooks scheme and makes it possible for your councilor to fabricate hooks automatically while looking for secrets.
        • Free hooks is kind of insane. You can use them to modify feudal vassal contracts to get more levies, rope your vassals into doing things that they don’t want to do, and other things. Did I mention that this perk is at the top of the tree so it requires basically no investment?
    • Learning
      • Prophet
        • Faith creation and reformation costs 50% less.
        • Completely insane for a ruler that wants to shake up the faith. Completely useless for all others. Basically a requirement for whichever of your rulers you decide will be the one to do such a thing.
  • ➤Lower priority
    • Diplomacy – August tree
      • This tree can be referred to as “the prestige tree”. It’s designed to get you more prestige and it’s just great.
      • The problem is that, in this scenario, your first few rulers will probably only reign for a few decades. They’re just too old to get a lot of usefulness from this tree. If you’re young, though… Did you know that, with the Writing History perk, you can commission an epic that costs AT MOST 100 gold and gets you a bunch of prestige, piety, lifestyle experience, and gold? Did you know that you can do it MULTIPLE TIMES?
    • Martial – Never Back Down
      • Less friendly casualties so that your councilors will stop getting their heads ripped off.
      • Ehhh, I guess that’s important…
    • Martial – Kingsguard
      • +4 knights.
      • +4 knights that are 75% more effective thanks to Chivalric Dominance. Now THIS is important!
    • Martial – Organized March
      • +15% army movement speed
      • Real good, real good indeed. The problem is whether it’s worth loitering in the Martial lifestyle for. I’d say to think about how long you expect your ruler to live. If it’s not long, then you’d be better off pursuing something else.
    • Intrigue – Like Weeds in a Garden
      • +30% fertility.
      • Amazing, especially since it’s at the top of the tree, except that it’s a lot less useful for people like us who have 4 wives. Sad!
    • Learning – Learn on the Job
      • Gain 20% of your councilors’ primary skills added onto your own. All your councilors.
      • This. Perk. The Learning tree is really unenticing, but this perk is an absolute monster. We’re talking several points being added on to all of your skills, here. It’s like gaining the genius trait with just one perk. The only downside is that it takes a lot of investment.

The feudal checklist

  • ➤Follow a reformed/organized religion
    • You’re already covered thanks to being Christian, but you should still reform your religion at some point. You’ll get to pick your tenets and set yourself up as the head of faith. Now I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to this, but I’ve heard that you should go for Lay Clergy and Communion. Iunno.
      • Your vassals will decide whether to convert to the new faith. The best way to make this happen is to keep them happy. Sort out any issues they might have with you beforehand to increase the odds. At worst, you can still demand conversion using hooks.
  • ➤Have absolute tribal authority
    • Better scrape up thousands of prestige and wait decades upon decades to grind this out. Don’t think there’s any better way. I’d tell you that you should have been doing this from the start, but it’s not like we had that much prestige to spare.
  • ➤Have all tribal era innovations
    • Good luck!
  • ➤Level of fame at least 2
    • Bruh.
  • ➤Development in capital county is at least 10
    • This is why I told you to keep your councilor on raise development. This is another really long process. I guess you could consider switching your capital county to one that’s more developed, but that sounds like more trouble than it’s worth.

That’s all we are sharing today in Crusader Kings III How to Ireland (867 Start), if there are anything you want to add please feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll see you soon.

Credit to Effluvial Kraken

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