(Written for 1.06b)
Mh, scones. But this one can definitely knock out your teeth.
At first glance Scotland seems like a strong starting position, but in 1066 this is not the case. You start with one lousy county in your demesne which translates into no income, no troops, and no dynasty points.
Other facts in 1066:
- Two sons in Agnatic Primogeniture succession - Agnatic is okay, but you might want to switch to Agnatic-Cognatic for the extra succession stability in the long run, preferably as late as possible due to the need for every single point of bonus opinion in the early game; Primogeniture is great, if you feel the need to switch to other succession laws, again, don't switch in the early game
- No spouse - pretty good actually because you can handpick your spouse for needed stats (Diplomacy and Stewardship)
- No held Duchy - see below
- Minimal Crown Authority and Free Investiture - for Crown law see below; Free Investiture is a double edged sword: in the beginning, the opinion bonus is very, very welcome but as you'll make loads of political enemies and excommunication becomes a tangible threat Papal Investiture is much prefered once you can afford the opinion hit
- Allied with the Count of Atholl - not worth anything since he isn't much help and you want his title anyway
- Not at war - a good thing, because all your neighbours will crush you outright
- The County of Caithness and the Duchy of The Isles are de jure parts of your kingdom, held by Norway and an independent Duke respectively, while you hold the County of Cumberland which is de jure part of England - very good because you'll get loads of prestige without having to forge claims or inviting claimants to your court when reclaiming The Isles and Caithness; be wary of England starting a war over Cumberland, for further information see below
With this crappy starting position forget about early conquests; your first goal is to reform your kingdom by bringing the duchies Albany and Moray into your demesne. While the duchies themselves are no top-duchies like Barcelona or Flanders they are a decent average on the British Isles and quite probably you won't be able to get your hands on a better one in the foreseeable future.
The first thing you should do is increasing Crown authority; it won't pass but so you can see who can be bribed into voting for the raise. For milking dynasty points pick the usual Get Married-Daughter ambitions and send your chancellor to fabricate claims in Ireland (don't press the claim, just get the piety), so you won't anger anyone who can crush you in return, read: all your neighours. With all those counties in your de jure kingdom you won't be needing claims in the near future anwyway.
What makes becoming the Duke of Albany and Moray really tricky is that you have Minimal Crown law which means no mass revokation of titles without massive opinion hit and in the beginning you can't win enough of your vassals over to raise Crown authority. So you need to increase your own demesne: more votes for you and less against you, which actually doubles the votes in favour of Crown Law change! (Note that imprisoning rulers without usupring their titles at least removes their votes from the total, reducing the needed votes for the majority but you won't get their votes as long as they still hold their titles.)
At the start of the game, the Count of Atholl is already rebellious, make him Court Jester and he will eventually rebel. To prevent the other lords from siding with Atholl, and you need their troops to even beat a single county, give honorary titles freely to your lords. Sometimes, with bad dice rolls for the traits, you might even need to transfer the vasallage of the County of Buchan to the Duke of Moray even though this means a tad slower expansion in the long run. But your starting position is so frail that you really can't take any chances. If you're lucky you'll get a prisoner whom you can release and lessen the opinion hit when you banish the count - the gold is a very needed extra bonus.
Continue with this careful expansion of your demesne until Minimal Crown law is passed, at which point you can expand slightly (!) bolder. And make sure you are ready to grab every Isles county foolish enough to fight the Duke on their own - one step towards unifying Scotland without incurring a ten year truce.
The Kingdom of Scotland
Once you've strengthened your position inside your kingdom it's time to reclaim your de jure counties. At the start of the game, the Isles are allied to Norway so conquer it after you've established your power base in Scotland and Harald or Gudrod has died. At this point, you shouldn't face any huge problems, the Isles' counties are scattered over Scotland and you can pick off the enemy's armies one by one with your superior forces.
While reclaiming Caithness isn't exactly easy at least your options are limited, simplifying the whole matter: grab it while Norway is embroiled in a nasty war and you don't have other enemies. Maybe get a useful ally and you're set. Just don't go nuts over a single mediocre county - back down if the odds are against you, you won't lose a de jure claim, and come back when you've recovered.
Ireland and Beyond
Ireland is the next logical step in expanding your kingdom and eventually forming the Empire of Britannia. No real problems here as well; at midgame one Irish Duke will be the dominant realm on the Irish island, having accumulated a couple of duchies, but he'll be no match for the entire of Scotland.
If you're lucky and exceedingly fast, pick off the remaining independent Welsh territories but do prepare for the inevitable war against England, so you'd better be in a very strong position and have already conquered Ireland for needed gold and levies before making a grab at Wales. Most of the time, though, it's all England by then.
Throughout the game, keep in mind that you're locked between two of the most powerful kingdoms in the game, Norway and England.
At the start of the game, both will be fighting each other (and the Isles join Harald) so at least you have some years without all the top dogs breathing down your neck. But you have to be quick - once the English War has a winner it's free for all on the British Isle.
I think the worst case scenario is Norway winning the war because then Norway will have no excuse not to grab your titles as well. As for England it may be a little easier; with William winning chances are he'll have to defend his new kingdom against Norway and/or France, giving you some more years of uneasy peace and Cumberland. Make sure not to get excommunicated or too badly mauled in a war as well, because in those cases the kings of England like to declare a war of excommuncation or try to reclaim Cumberland. In any case, if England makes a move for Cumberland it's the same case as with Caithness: don't go overboard for a single county. If you're not finished with cleaning out your own Kingdom or you have more important goals at hand it's usually better not to waste your levies in a useless war, just give Cumberland to the English; you actually won't lose any prestige or gold for surrendering without a fight.