This page has been updated for patch 1.05.
Holy Orders are something like mercenaries who serve their God first and their brethren second. Both Muslims and Catholics have access to Holy Orders, and hiring them on for a religious conflict can turn the tide of a war swiftly. Some who have altered their game to play as pagans see the Holy Order as overpowered, but you can easily check to see if your opponent has the option of hiring them or not via his/her Piety score.
Holy Orders can be hired via the Military button along the top of the screen, and then the Holy Order tab in the middle of the pane.
Catholic Holy Orders are not available to players at the beginning of a 1066 game. They are introduced, one at a time, around the year 1100. Sunni Muslims apparently do not have immediate access to Holy Orders either (based on a fair amount of play in Iberia and North Africa). However, Shiite Muslims have access to a five thousand strong Holy Order from very early and possibly day one.
Holy Orders follow all the rules of mercenaries, with some additional rules that apply specifically to them. The main differences are that rulers must spend Piety to hire them, they can cost no maintenance when being used in defense, and they will not fight their religious brethren.
Holy Orders and Brothers of the Faith
Holy Orders cannot be used to attack members of the same faith. As a Catholic, you can use Holy Orders against all heretics, Muslims, and Orthodox Christians.
Holy Orders and Church Authority
As of patch 1.05, the number of troops in a Holy Order is now affected by the relative church’s authority level. As Catholic church authority drops, the number of knights joining the Templars declines as well…
Piety and Holy Orders
As a Catholic, you will need to spend Piety to hire a Holy Order. The amount needed is tied to the size of the Holy Order, which is itself tied to the current church authority and the time frame within the game. While you may not pay maintenance to use them in defense, you will have to pay this cost upfront each and every time you hire an Order. Thus, if you share borders with Muslims, or if Europe is quickly descending into heresy, you may want to do everything within your powers to make certain you have the requisite amount of Piety on hand.
Shiite Muslims used to need only 112.5 Piety to hire a 5250 strong Holy Order, but now this figure will fluctuate based on church authority. If you are facing off against a Shiite realm early in the game (Cough – Palermo- Cough), you would be wise to check the ruler’s Piety before making your decision (and equally wise to check on who is Sunni and who is Shiite). If they are under 100, you are probably clear for a while, but ideally you will want to catch them after they lose a holy war or after succession, both of which can significantly reduce piety.
Maintenance and Holy Orders
When CK2 launched, you could steamroll the infidel with a single maintenance-free Holy Order unit by hiring them in defense, and then letting that war drift on as you declared war on realm after realm of infidel. The maintenance cost of the Order was not charged until the defensive war had concluded, allowing you to be very offensively minded in the meantime.
This was, quite fairly, changed in the first patch. The fix was a complicated one though, and i am still not sure that i know all the ins and outs myself. I do know that any offensive declaration of war after the Order is hired will trigger maintenance fees for the Order. The Maintenance fee for the early game Orders is19.95 gold per month, which may seem a bit extravagant, but you are getting 7350 of the toughest troops around. The Shiite variant cost 8.4 gold per month.
To avoid paying the maintenance costs, you want to make sure to hire the Holy Order only after having war declared on you by someone who does not share your religion. If you were already in a war when war was declared on you, this will not affect this result. However, if you declare war on someone before the defensive war ends, you will begin to incur maintenance for the Holy Order troops. You will also begin to incur maintenance when the defensive war ends, so you will likely want to disband the Holy Order promptly at the war’s conclusion.
Holy Orders and Navies
So you have taken Mallorca, and every Muslim in Africa is offended, and most of the one’s in Iberia as well. They are coming, but you are ready. You have 200 Piety to burn, and can’t wait to hire a Holy Order to crush them. And boom, 7350 troops, and only 50 ships…
Unfortunately, the Holy Order units are indivisible, and unless you can amass enough ships to transport the entire force at once, they will remain landlocked, which is quite restrictive. To get them on a boat, you have a couple options:
- Hire a mercenary navy (added in patch 1.05). Mercenary navies begin with 100 ships, which will handle your Holy Order with ease. They are quite costly maintenance-wise though, so you would be wise to get your Order where it is going and then dismiss the navy straight away. If you are in a game where you expect to be using Holy Orders frequently, you may want to consider taking the province where the mercenary navy is headquartered. Doing so will allow you to assign the titular title ‘Captain of the Navy’ (or something like that) which will then reduce up front and maintenance costs on the unit thereafter.
- Get them to an enemy county, and assault the castle. You will be able to take out the castle quickly, increasing your warscore, while also killing off a bunch off your Holy Order members. Rinse and repeat until your Holy Order is small enough to get on your boats.
- Change your capital before hiring them. This is a pretty crappy solution, but in dire straights could buy you some time. If you set your capital to your otherwise inaccessible island, the Holy Order will appear there as long as it is not already occupied by the enemy. The problem is that they will be unable to move to any of your other counties, and you will be unable to change your capital again while your current ruler is alive.
In the long run, you want to make sure that you are capturing enough coastal counties to ensure that you have a navy of sufficient size to transport these larges armies. Obviously this is not something you can do while your Holy Order sits and waits, but once you realize the need, focus on this until it is accomplished.