Just thought I'd report my findings with the beta. Overall it's a very satisfying experience - but I'm sure things can be improved. Balance seems just about right, although I had some issues early on with Denmark rebelling at 1100 and catholic factions disappearing before 1200. The diplomacy still needs adjusting too! It's virtually impossible to ceasefire with neighbouring factions even when you have not physically attacked them OR are allied to their enemies.
I'm playing as England, and I'm trying to stay faithful to the pope. It's 1200.
Here is a jpeg of the map as of 1200. I have found it very difficult to expand successfully. It's better to raid, and let the settlement rebel in order to fund the growth and expansion of your empire. It's almost impossible otherwise. Funds are extremely tight. I am considered rich, with 27000. This as you know will not go far with the provinces I own.
As you can make out from the map, I have conquered Scotland, Wales and Ireland. I then moved east and conquered Stockholm and Oslo - these were owned by Poland at the time. I then crusaded South and attacked the Moors in Spain and North Africa. I took a beating quite early on as my settlements were spread far and wide. I have tried to focus my efforts on several major settlements like Cordoba, Caen, London and Stockholm, and let the others flounder somewhat. I simply cannot afford to build them up like I'd wish.
Interestingly Russia is really beginning to show some form. I can't wait to see how they deal with the Mongols when they arrive. :hmmm:
As you can see from the overview several catholic factions have been wiped out. It's unusual to see at such an early stage in the game - this may point towards some unbalancing.
This is my best general to date. A very successful crusader.
Unfortunately I think the Duke of Normandy will be laid to rest soon!