The “Ten Thrones” Steam achievement is all about painting the map with blood rather than political unity. There must be ten independent kingdoms all ruled by fellow dynastic members. The exact win condition is here:
Have your dynasty rule 10 independent Feudal/Iqta/Monastic Feudal Kingdoms or Empires with at least 25 realm size each. You must be one of them.Ten Thrones Achievement Conditions
Notably they need to be feudal level kingdoms so tribal kingdoms won’t count.
This is definitely one of the harder achievements. 10 kingdoms of at least 25 realm size is a lot of real estate but even more to the point the fact they must be independent means not having very much control over them. Without control over those dynasts whom we spin off with kingdoms of their own can undo all our hard work by falling to usurpers or bad marriages or wars. They could even turn on us. Or go off to do their own successful conquering locking up potential targets into big empires. Though a way to mitigate that would to create a huge super empire big enough to make ten kingdoms then grant independence to our dynasts all in one go.
Immediately I can see two very different broad strategies to use to get there:
Have lots of kids, as many as can be. Marry sons and other male dynasts to the daughters of kings, making sure to avoid matrilineal marriages, then assassinate all the male heirs so the daughter inherits the kingdom. Her heirs to the kingdom by our male dynast will carry our dynastic name.
Also we can marry daughters and other female dynasts matrilinearly to
distant male heirs to a kingdom and assassinate those higher up in the queue. A matrilineal marriage here will pass on our dynastic name to the heirs of the title.
If we end up liege to any of these dynasts we can just grant them independence.
One thing to watch out for are the succession rules for the target kingdom. If females are prohibited from inheriting then all our skulduggery will be for nothing. Likewise we want to avoid kingdoms with succession rules that are a bit odd like tanistry, elective monarchy or elective gavelkind. Really we want to see regular gavelkind or primogeniture to safeguard a relatively predictable line of succession.
Assassinations are slow, can fail and we can only run one operation at a time. So it will be important to keep them to a minimum. Targeting kingdoms with none or few male heirs will help with this.
Seeding the court with characters who have high espionage skills, a dislike of the people we need to murder and a liking for us will help a lot too. Especially if we are cunning enough to arrange matches with cultural and personal flash points built in. Like marrying groomed characters to uncouth characters or proud characters to humble characters.
Clearly high espionage skills are wanted not just in our characters but in all the dynasts and agents we seed into foreign courts too. It will help keep them alive in a potentially hostile environment and make them more effective in supporting our skullduggery. They may even carry out their own schemes successfully saving us the trouble.
This strategy will probably work best with a catholic character as Catholics have the wider marriage opportunities and although females don’t have the opportunities that males have they can usually still inherit if there are no males ahead of them, unlike with the Muslims.
The main drawback with Catholics is that being limited to only one marriage at a time and not being able to get divorces easily can make producing dynasts in quantity quite difficult. On the upside though our targets will also tend to have few children as Catholics which can reduce the number of assassinations needed. The seduction focus is a potential help here too although bastards are hard to use for inheritance purposes.
This strategy depends on diplomacy skills but relies most heavily on espionage. Diplomacy to get the marriages and espionage to jump the inheritance queue.
I am tempted to try to get the Ten Thrones this way, it looks fun and challenging, but for my first attempt I will try the next, probably much easier, strategy…
This is seemingly simple, just conquor kingdoms and gift them to dynasts. Simple except in ck2 there are some limitations to overcome in obtaining a suitable casus belli before a war can even be started. Also many causes for war are not suitable for obtaining titles. Then of course the war must be won.
An ideal casus belli here is one that is easy to get on a wide variety of targets, purges titles of their existing owners and is scalable to target kingdom level titles. Great Holy Wars, Crusades and Jihads offer this but are not available to just anyone. Only religious heads can call them.
Pagans have a strong casus belli in the Pagan Subjugation which is available even from the earliest bookmark and is quite easy to obtain. In addition Norse pagans also have the strong Prepared Invasion casus belli although it does not become available until the Viking Age.
I have not played a muslim character yet but I suspect Ten Thrones through conquest might be quite easy as a Caliph as he will have access to the powerful Jihad casus belli.
Another potential strong start would be a Norse character who will have easy access to Pagan Subjugation and Prepared Invasions.
A helpful thing is that Norse pagans can take concubines which can greatly increase dynast production. Potentially this can allow them to get foreign titles through inherited claims in a variation of strategy two through getting offspring from concubines. Since concubines can be made from captures this even allows circumventing the barriers to marriage with those of a different religion.
However one weakness is that virtually all these Norse characters are tribals ruling over tribal lands but Ten Thrones specifies Feudal Kingdoms. Of course Prepared Invasions can be used on Feudal targets and tribal lands can be upgraded to feudal lands so that is a hindrance rather than a hard barrier.
One thing about the Norse that is usually considered a drawback is actually a benefit when pursuing Ten Thrones, and that is Elective Gavelkind. The issue with the Elective Gavelkind inheritance rules is that it has a tendency to split up realms into smaller independent realms. However independent kingdoms are what we are actually aiming for with this achievement. So we can let Elective Gavelkind create our kingdom level titles for free.
Elective Gavelkind synergises very well with Prepared Invasions. To be eligble to call a Prepared Invasion one must not control more than fifty holdings. But a successful Prepared Invasion can give one an empire’s worth of holdings. Which means one successful Prepared Invasion would prevent future Prepared Invasions for one’s future generations. Except Elective Gavelkind will split that up for me so that on the next generation both me and my brothers can each call a new set of Prepared Invasions.
To the extent that our brothers with their own kingdoms also succeed in Prepared Invasions means our dynasty can potentially get several Prepared Invasions going on at once. And in the next generation all our brother’s sons and our own sons each having a Prepared Invasion of their own… a cascade of Prepared Invasions.
The amount of event troops you get for a Prepared Invasion depends in part on how many troops you can already muster, the more the better. Elective Gavelkind helps here too as it allows for a larger demesne limit.
High martial skills are critical to this strategy, but stewardship and diplomacy have supporting utility too.
Reckless bravery in raiding and war is called for here too. If we have plenty of sons and brothers to carry on for us then we need not fear the reaper. We only get one Prepared Invasion per life, so the shorter our lives are the more frequent our Prepared Invasions can be!
On a personal note I have played Norse a lot, so I would be on familiar ground with a Norse character. So Norse it will be.
The three pillars of our strategy are concubines, Prepared Invasions and elective gavelkind. Rinse and Repeat. Ideally we hope to get a Prepared Invasion cascade as described above.
The legendary Ragnar Lothbrok of course is the avatar of this strategy whose many sons all went on to become independent conquering kings in their own right. So I fancy to use Ragnar for this strategy. Well of course from the Charlemagne bookmark it will be his father Sigurd Hring. I believe he starts with a duchy level title in Sweden. Hopefully we can game it to inherit into Ragnar.
To follow the Sons of Ragnar Lothbrok in their quest for the Ten Thrones click here for the first chapter: