Crusader Kings II

Crusader Kings II

152 ratings
Ironman: A beginner's guide & myth-busting
By Falk0
"What is Ironman? What does it do and what are its restrictions? Can I use mods with Ironman? What can I do to prevent my saves from becoming 'corrupted'? The anwsers to all of these questions and more can be found in this guide"
Dear reader, after witnessing the staggering amount of topics about Ironman on the Steam forum, along with the amount of incorrect or incomplete information, I felt compelled to clear things up once and for all.

This guide does not contain walkthroughs on how to get specific achievements.
What is Ironman?
Ironman is a game mode that, when enabled, will allow you to earn CKII achievements. If the game difficulty was set on easy, it will default to normal. If you wish for a bigger challenge you can set the difficulty to hard before starting an Ironman game.

The aim of Ironman is to ensure that achievements are a display of skill, as its design prevents cheating. It does that by imposing the following restrictions:
  • Only a single save will be stored and it will be overwritten every time the game saves.
  • The save will usually be stored on the steam-cloud (can be changed in the options).
  • The save will be encrypted, making it impossible to alter.
  • Auto-saves the game every 6 months.
  • Disables achievements if the checksum is altered.
  • Disables achievements if the Ruler Designer was used.
  • Disables the use of the ingame console.
  • When quitting the game or going to the main menu it will automatically save.
While playing in Ironman there is an always online policy if storing your game on the Steam Cloud. If you lose connection, the game will be unable to transfer the save to the Cloud, this may result in your save becoming corrupt and disabling achievements. Even if your Iroman save is saved locally Steam may be unable to register an earned achievement due to the loss of connection.
How can I be sure I am playing Ironman?
There are three icons that will tell you everything you need to know.
  • Ironman is disabled (default).
  • Ironman is enabled.
  • Ironman is enabled, achievements are not due to Ruler Designer, mods or corruption.
If you wish to play Ironman, don’t forget to enable it before you start a game, this can be done by clicking Ironman botton in the bottum right corner before starting a campaign. If you forgot to do so, you will be impossible to enable Ironman for the save you just created. You will have starting anew.
Can I use the Ruler Designer?
While it is true you can play Ironman using Ruler Designer (as can be seen by the green checkmark next to the iron fist) using this feature will disable achievements once you hit play.

Once you restart the game and reload your save you will see that the icon has changed (into an red exclamation mark and a yellow checkmark next to an iron fist). You will be able to continue playing, Ironman mode will still be enabled but you won't earn achievements.
Can I use mods?
Yes but -- and this is very important -- you can only use mods that do not alter the checksum. Most modders won't mention whether their mods are Ironman compatible in the description. Luckily, a bit of common sense goes a long way.

If the mod in question adds content or alters current content, it will most likely not be Ironman compatible. If the mod only makes minor visual changes such as changing fonts, changing UI, change unit sprites or adding keyboard shortcuts the mod will likely be Ironman compatible. When in doubt, contact the modder(s).
How to prevent an Ironman game from becoming "corrupted"?
First off, the term "corrupt" is often misused in CKII. Most people use it to define a Ironman save that you can no longer earn achievements with. If the save was really corrupted the game would simply be unable to load up the save or crash while trying.

Usually, your Ironman save will have the ability to earn achievements turned off when your Ironman save's checksum doesn't match your game's checksum, this is why game updates tend to break Ironman. When you loaded up a save or play a multiplayer game it is also advised you restart CKII before trying to play your Ironman game as playing a singleplayer or multiplayer changes the game's checksum.

It's important to let the game calculate the checksum before trying to play on Ironman. This allows you to check whether the checksum is correct. You can find a list to all versions and their respective checksums on the CKII wiki:

If the checksum isn't correct, you'll have to find which mod is altering the checksum. If you have no mods enabled, it may be that the checksum is invalid due to changes made to the game files manually. If that’s the case, reinstalling the game or verifying the cache. Verifying the cache can be done by following these instructions:
  • Right-clicking CKII in the game library.
  • Selecting “Properties”.
  • Selecting the “Local Files” tab.
  • Selecting “Verify Integrity of Game Cache.”
If verifying does not fix your checksum try a fresh reinstall.

When making changes to game files, it’s always advised to first make a back-up of the files you wish to modify. Doing this will allow the modified files to be replaced with the vanilla ones to undo any changes made.

The game will also see the save as out-of-date if a new version of CKII has come out and your CKII has been updated. If this happens there isn’t much you can do since auto-updates can no longer be disabled. As for reverting to a previous version, only the following versions are available in the “Beta” tab of CKII’s “Properties”:
  • 1.111 : Version before "The Old Gods".
  • 2.0.4 : Patch just before “Raja's of India” came out.
  • 2.1.6 : Patch just before “Charlemagne” came out.
  • 2.2.1 : Two patches before “Way of Life” came out.
  • 2.3.6 : Patch before “Horse Lords” came out.
  • 2.4.5 : Patch before “Conclave” came out.
Last but not least, ensure that there is a dependable internet connection when playing in Ironman mode. Losing the connection may corrupt the save when saving to the steam-cloud and will preventing any opportunity of gaining achievements with the current save.
Can I disable Ironman mode?
There is currently no way of disabling Ironman mode on an Ironman save. Making a backup of a locally saved Ironman game is possible but editing it or disabling Ironman mode willl be impossible due to the encryption.
I thank you for reading this guide, I hope it has been helpful. If you have questions don't hesitate to leave them below. I also invite you to leave all of your thoughts and constructive critiques below. Please rate this guide accordingly.

I would also like to thank AlphaArBar, Logar T. Logarian and Commissar for their input and help.
< >
Falk0  [author] Aug 10 @ 8:41am 
You can only gain achievements of Ironman mode is enabled. You cannot enable Ironman mode when playing multiplayer therefore you cannot gain achievements in multiplayer.
Roobaron Aug 10 @ 1:09am 
can you earn achievements in multiplayer
FuYin Dec 26, 2017 @ 8:13pm 
ok, I'II ask someone else
Falk0  [author] Dec 26, 2017 @ 9:23am 
@ FuYin, Thank you. Unsure. I don't recall having issues when saving with steam-cloud disabled. You might want to go to the steam and/or Paradox forum and ask or look for a recent post on the topic. I'm not an active CKII player anymore and some things might have changed. Sorry
FuYin Dec 26, 2017 @ 8:20am 
Thank you for this guide. I'm a newcomer and I have a question that if I lose connection while I'm in Ironman mode,Is it impossible for me to get achievement when I reconnect ?
Falk0  [author] Apr 23, 2017 @ 11:03am 
@ Lt. Leopold. Good point. Hadden't thought about that. Honestly, I don't know, I never played on v.1.1. You could test it though by trying to get an easy achievement like "Get married".
Lt. Leopold Apr 23, 2017 @ 3:36am 
@ Falk0 Hi and thanks for respond. Thing is that Ironman Mode was introduced obly in 2.0 patch. So I can't enable this mode in patch 1.111 as you can understand. :)
Falk0  [author] Apr 22, 2017 @ 11:57pm 
@ Lt. Leopold, As long as you play in Ironman mode, yes. Of course you won't unluck achievements that were added after v.1.111.
Lt. Leopold Apr 21, 2017 @ 1:29pm 
HI Guys! Can I still get achievements if I'm playing older version 1.111? Thanks in advance!
G A M B i T Mar 25, 2017 @ 10:13pm 
Ok, thanks for clearing that up for me!