The Crusader civilisation in Knights and Barbarians represents the various empires, kingdoms, principalities, duchies, counties and other fiefdoms established by crusaders all across the Eastern Mediterranean, though the Crusaders in K&B focus on the most important and well-known of these states, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, a nation that definitely ranks among the more peculiar among all the medieval powers. It was not particularly strong in military terms, and for all its existence struggled to maintain its territorial integrity. It was also internally divided and highly ideological, though these ideologies were subject to as much division as anything else in the Kingdom. The ruling classes mostly sought to defend peace and stability in the region, and keep Jerusalem accessible for pilgrims from all over Europe, while the lower aristocracy, notably the knightly orders, were often more radical in their approach, seeking to expand Jerusalem's power across the Middle East, and enforce far less religious tolerance than the ruling classes observed. All the while, the presence of both the Italian city states and Arab and Turkish merchants had a powerful effect on the Kingdom's politics, opening up trade lanes between the East and West and allowing an unprecedented amount of goods and (more importantly) knowledge to be exchanged.
Acre, the Crusader Home City in K&B, was the center of this trade policy, and also a perfect case in point about the Kingdom's mixed cultural heritage. The city contained semi-autonomous districts run by several Italian city states and the Hospitallier Order, and other parts of the city were blessed with a wildly varying degree of ethnicities, with Southern and Northern Europeans, Greeks, Armenians, Arabs, Jews, Turks, Persians and North Africans all living together. Acre was to the High Middle Ages what Florence was to the Renaissance and New York to the 19th century; a cityof opportunity. Acre would turn out to be the most prolific of the crusader cities, as Jerusalem was eventually lost in 1187, just after the death of the Crusader AI personality in K&B, King Baldwin the Leper,who was the last truly great King of Jerusalem, and the last who managed to succesfully defend the Kingdom against Salah-al-Din's ambitions of reconquest, until he succumbed to leprosy.
After thefall of Jerusalem, the Kingdom continued to exist in one form or another for quite some time. Acre fell to the Mamluks in 1291, ending the Crusader presence in the Holy Land. It continued to exist on the island of Cyprus, though by this time it had been weakened so considerably that it was no longer of any note, and in 1489, the remainder of the Kingdom was sold to the Most Serene Republic of Venice.The Hospitallier Order however, which had been an important military power within the Kingdom of Jerusalem, established its own territories, and would remain an independent nation on the island of Malta until 1798, when it was, once again, Napoleon Bonaparte that brought their existence to an end. No attempt was made to restore Hospitallier rule, and in 1800 Malta chose to become a part of the British Empire.
The Crusaders are part of the Crusading civset, which means they have the Chapter House and can gather the resource of Papal Favour, as well as having the Officer age-up system, and access to the Headquarters and itsPilgrimage technologies. The Pilgrimage techs benefit a different part of the civilisation for all three civs in the Crusading civset, for the Crusaders this is their Pilgrims. The Headquarters auto-produces the three different types of Auxilliaries available to the Crusaders. The Crusaders start each game with 6 Pilgrims, 3 Crates of Food and 1 Crate of Wood.
The Crusaders have a choice of the following three religions:
- Catholicism (main religion): + Priests have more hitpoints, - Priests move more slowly.
- Armenian Christianity (reformed religion): + villagers and cavalry have increased line-of-sight, - villagers have fewer hitpoints.
- Judaism (outside religion): + villagers gather coin slightly faster, - Priests have fewer hitpoints, Priests move more slowly.
The Crusaders can choose any of these four Knightly Orders in the Chapter House:
- Templar Order: Focus on coin gathering, makes the Chapter House autogather coin.
- Hospitallier Order: Focus on healing, gives the Chapter House a healing aura.
- Teutonic Order: Focus on sheer military power, makes the Chapter House increase the hitpoints of units.
- Order of Santiago: Focus on conquest, gives the player the ability to call a ceasefire.
The bonuses of the Crusaders serve to make them a full-on rushing civ that can baffle their enemies with a great deal of military power early in the game. Their choice of four totally different Knightly Orders gives them some variety, but in its essence, the Crusader military is a blunt instrument that should be used well and early, as the Crusaders will start to significantly lose out in the later stages of the game.
- The Crusaders start the game with a free Chapter House
This bonus gives the Crusaders an early start in military production, as the Chapter House will already have been built by the time the Crusaders reach Age II, so they can start producing powerful Templar, Hospitallier, Teutonic or Santiagese units straight away. Moreoever, it gives the Crusaders an extra defensive edge early in the game, as the Chapter House is also a defensive building. This will help the Crusaders against any enemy that tries to out-rush them.
The Crusaders have Pilgrims instead of Peasants
This minor bonus aids the Crusaders in maintaining their economy and withstand enemy raids. The Pilgrim is no significantly better at gathering resources than the Peasant is, but it is far more capable of defending itself in situations of peril.
The Crusaders have Auxiliary units, which are stronger than regular units, but cannot be upgraded
This bonus gives the Crusaders some extra military power in the first ages, when the superior strength of the Edessan, Lebanese and Armenian Auxilliaries makes them easily better than the (respective) Man-at-Arms, Archer and Cavalry Archer they replace. In later ages however, the lack of upgrades for these units will start to count against the Crusaders.
The Crusaders autogather Papal Favour faster than any other civilisation
This bonus represents the dependence of the Crusader states on the military power of the Knightly Orders residing within their borders. Units from these orders cost Papal Favour, and through this bonus, the Crusaders are more adept at attaining a sizeable number of these powerful units than other civs within the Crusading civset are.
Crusader Knights are stronger but train slower, other units (excepting Auxilliaries) are weaker but train faster
This bonus is meant to represent the importance of Knights in the armies of the Crusaders, as well as strengthen their rushing potential. The faster training of non-Knights makes it even easier for the Crusaders to get a good rush in before any of its enemies manages to do so, but as these units are weaker than usual, this will count against the Crusaders in ordinary military encounters.
- Edessan Auxilliary (Barracks or Headquarters, II), unique to the Crusaders. Much more powerful than the Man-at-Arms it replaces, but without unit upgrades
- Spearman (Barracks, II)
- Halberdier (Barracks, III)
- Lebanese Auxilliary (Archery Range or Headquarters, II), unique to the Crusaders. Much more powerful than the Archer it replaces, but without unit upgrades
- Crossbowman (Archery Range, III)
- Skirmisher (Archery Range, II)
- Hand Gunner (Barracks, V), becomes available after researching Black Powder
- Templar Sergeant (Chapter House, II), becomes available by picking the Templar Order
- Canon of the Holy Sepulchre (Chapter House, II), becomes available by picking the Hospitallier Order
- Halbbruder (Chapter House, II), becomes available by picking the Teutonic Order
- Light Cavalry (Stables, II)
- Knight (Stables, III)
- Armenian Auxilliary (Stables or Headquarters, III), unique to the Crusaders. Much more powerful than the Cavalry Archer it replaces, but without unit upgrades
- Templar Knight (Chapter House, III), becomes available by picking the Templar Order
- Ritterbruder (Chapter House, III), becomes available by picking the Teutonic Order
- Knight of Santiago (Chapter House, III), becomes available by picking the Order of Santiago
Artillery and Siege Units
- Sapper (Siege Workshop, II)
- Ballista (Siege Workshop, III)
- Catapult (Siege Workshop, III)
- Ram (Siege Camp, II)
- Mantlet (Siege Camp, II)
- Siege Tower (Siege Camp, III)
- Bombard (Siege Workshop, V), becomes available after researching Black Powder
Other Land Units
- Militia (Town Center, I)
- Lord (I)
- Pilgrim (Town Center, I), unique to the Crusaders. Similar to the Peasant it replaces in resource gathering, but better militarily
- Farmer (Manor, I)
- Priest (Church, II)
- Bishop (Church, III), first has to be unlocked through the HC
- Dog (Manor, I)
- Hospitallier Surgeon (Chapter House, II), becomes available by picking the Hospitallier Order
- Gastador (Chapter House, II), becomes available by picking the Order of Santiago
- Fishing Boat (Docks, I)
- Cog (Docks, II)
- Galley (Docks, III)
- Carrack (Docks, IV), becomes replaced by the Gun Carrack after researching Black Powder