The construction of various structures is an important part of your work as a medieval ruler in Crusader Kings 3. The buildings you put up around your various holdings will determine how much gold you earn every month, along with how many fighting men you can levy into battle at a moment’s notice. In today’s article, we’re ranking the best buildings in CK3! We’ll help you decide which buildings to place for a strong economy, along with which ones to place to win wars.
Best CK3 Tribal Era Buildings
Before we can start talking about which buildings to construct, we should first mention how your starting era factors in. Tribal governments have an entirely different set of buildings compared to feudalized or clan-run empires. You’ll later want to swap your tribal government into a feudal or clan system, as it provides numerous benefits to how your territories are organized. Keep in mind, though, that when you do upgrade your holdings into feudal castles, you will be provided with a random set of buildings appropriate for your area, not necessarily the best ones for your playstyle.
If you choose to begin the game in 867, many of the playable characters begin as tribal leaders. While tribes should mostly focus on expanding outwards, given that they have looser requirements for waging war on their neighbors, you might have enough money and prestige left over to build some structures afterward, especially if your raiding has been very lucrative.
If you’re going to build tribal structures, Markets are great to invest in. They’ll let you build up some extra gold that you can then easily reinvest. They’re also the only purely economic construction in this era. If you’re going to build military structures as a tribe, make Sparring Grounds. These make your champion units do significantly better in combat, as well as allow you to recruit an extra one. Fill the ranks of your champions with any prisoners that have a high prowess.
Best CK3 Economy Buildings
Once you’ve surpassed the tribal era, you’ll have access to the full range of economic buildings. Most economic buildings will give you a blend of either tax income, levied troops, or development points. Development points are the most important of the three, so long as you’re in an area you plan on keeping long-term. Building economy buildings inside your vassal’s land is also a great way to increase the resources you can harvest from them. As an added bonus, it reduces the land they have available for military structures that could make them more troublesome during a rebellion.
Hunting Grounds are one of the more versatile structures in the game. This will actually be one of the best buildings in CK3 for any culture that relies heavily on cavalry or has access to horse archers, like the Mongol Empire. That’s because they provide tax income, levies, and a small defender advantage for the holding. This makes them a great choice for any castle you’ve got on a hostile border, as well, letting you get a little bit of income while still maximizing the chances that a small force can hold the castle themselves.
Constructing new Hunting Grounds is a good pick for your very first building on a new settlement, especially early on in the game. They’re a whole year quicker to build and 50 gold cheaper than some other comparable structures.
Fully upgrading the Hunting Grounds will unlock some additional bonuses, like a small bonus to the development of the holding, a penalty for enemy raiders attempting to pillage the castle, and a small reduction to the maintenance fees for every single one of your men-at-arms. With all this under consideration, this is one of the best picks for any viable zone. The only locations you can’t place Hunting Grounds are any kind of mountain, desert, floodplain, or oasis. This makes them largely inaccessible for the more arid parts of the world, but common most anywhere else.
Pastoral Lands represent vast fields that docile animals are using to graze. They provide an initial bonus to your taxable income and the levies you can gather in the province, but get increasingly more powerful and gain a huge range of different bonuses by the time they’re fully established. Some of these bonuses are military-focused, but most will just help your economy. Pastoral Lands will be the best pick in some of your more central zones that you expect to stay firmly under your control. They only take two years to construct, just like the Hunting Grounds, but cost 150 gold. This investment proves worthwhile over time.
A fully upgraded Pastoral Land gives you a bonus to your supply limits, garrison size, and levy reinforcement rates, all excellent bonuses for a centrally-located, well-defended zone of your control. On top of this, the entire county will get a bonus to development and popular opinion, and your entire realm will get a bonus towards the toughness of light and heavy cavalry. This bonus is important since heavy cavalry will be the strongest shock troops of the late game. The only places you can’t construct pastures will be wetlands, taiga, and the jungles of south Asia.
Farms & Fields
In terms of pure cash generation, most of your empire will eventually be supported by farms and fields. They represent any form of agrarian civilization, eventually expanding into hamlets and then towns. At first, they provide tax income, more than most other economic structures, at a base rate of 0.5. They cost 150 gold, more than many other structures, and also take longer than the last two entries by an entire year. But, fully upgraded, a farm provides significantly more gold, along with some development progress and huge upgrades to the supply limits of the county.
All these bonuses are compensated by the fact that you can only build farms on drylands, farmlands, floodplains, and plains. While these tiles still make up a majority of the map, some regions simply won’t have access to farms and fields. There are replacement farms for wetlands, hills, and deserts, yet none of these are nearly as powerful when fully upgraded, especially in the amount of supply they’re able to add to these already tight areas. This encourages you to split your armies significantly more when you invade or defend on difficult terrain.
Tradeports are one of the best economic buildings because they provide a massive boost to development right from the get-go. Development is incredibly important for your long-term economy, representing the overall complexity of the civilization existing in any particular county. It’s always applied on a county level, so Tradeports are a must-have for any coastal county that contains more than one holding, as well as any coastal city or castle whatsoever. Development is just that important. It raises your taxable income, levies, and the supply limits of the county, allowing it to support more troops. On top of all this, it also represents the scientific capabilities of your kingdom, allowing quicker advancement down the innovations tree.
You can obviously only construct Tradeports in coastal cities or castles, but they work with any kind of terrain along these coasts. Some cultures gain additional bonuses for being adjacent to the water. The Irish and Norwegian cultures, for example, get Maritime Mercantilism. This allows them to build Tradeports one era earlier, gain an extra 10% gold income from every coastal holding, and earn a bonus with republican leaders. If you own a lot of coastal spaces and have some extra prestige to spend, you may want to pick up the same tradition.
Manor Houses are absolutely the best economic building in the game. They provide the most gold out of any building initially, and you can upgrade them to also give you a percentage-based levy bonus, a massive amount of extra supply, a bonus to development, and a rare bonus to control. This bonus to control will keep corruption from taking root in the area while maximizing the economic production of the zone. Manor Houses take five entire years to construct, the longest out of any normal economic buildings, and cost a whopping 200 gold. These are small prices to pay for the massive output you’ll get from them.
The only reason you can’t just construct a Manor House in every single province is that they’re limited to the very rare farmlands terrain. You can only find farmlands on the banks of major rivers, representing ancient population centers. The de-jure capital of most kingdoms and empires will be located on farmland terrain. Farmlands provide a huge bonus to development as well. Any single tile of farmland is worth throwing an entire continent worth of troops at if there’s a chance you can hold it for yourself. Manor Houses are a major reason for this.
Best CK3 Military Buildings
Choosing military buildings for your empire is going to depend more heavily on the terrain you plan on fighting in, and what special units your culture has available for recruitment. Some special units are unlocked by traditions, like huscarls, while others are unlocked via technology. One of the first things you should do when starting a new dynasty is checking into what special men-at-arms you’ll be recruiting, so you can build your structures accordingly. With that in mind though, these five will generally be your best bet.
Camelry and Elephantry
These structures would be at the absolute top of our list if they were accessible without their special terrain requirements. Out of all the regular military structures, these two are the only ones that will provide you with extra knights, while also increasing the power of those knights. Individual champions that can push their way through massive hordes of enemies will become much more important in these more isolated, extreme environments. Fully upgraded, either will give you an opportunity to recruit four more elite warriors, who can potentially do the same amount of damage as nearly a thousand levied troops.
You can only build a Camelry in the desert, desert mountains, oases, and floodplain terrains. They provide more general bonuses towards all kinds of cavalry and camelry as well. Meanwhile, the Elephantry can only be built in jungle terrain located within South Asia. This limits how many you can construct just through the sheer difficulty of building new settlements within jungle terrain. A Camelry takes three years to construct, while an Elephantry will take a whopping five years. Either cost 150 gold.
The humble Military Camp lands a spot in our list for the sheer number of them you’ll build throughout a normal game. If you’re starting in 867, these may become the mainstay of your early construction, since light footmen and bowmen are the name of the game in this era. Archers are a counter against levied troops, and since the majority of early wars are fought with peasant soldiers, dedicated archers with some stacked bonuses can rip apart more than double their size worth of levies.
Military Camps are some of the quickest buildings to construct, taking only a single year, and costing only 100 gold. While they’re initially limited to providing bonuses to only the weakest units in your army, those might be the only men-at-arms you can afford early on anyway. Fully upgraded, the Military Camp is known as a Levying Square, and provides a small bonus to a wider range of troops, including the powerful armored infantry units.
These are safe buildings to create in areas you don’t intend to hold forever, since they don’t provide any defensive bonuses for the area, unlike a lot of the other military buildings. They’ll empower your vassals slightly, but if you’re smart about countering these weak troops, you’ll still be able to stomp them out without much effort. The Military Camp is the only building in the game that can be constructed in literally any building slot, in any kind of terrain.
The Barracks structure provides some fairly straightforward bonuses. Early on, it’ll give you some extra levied troops, while also scaling up the damage potential of your heavy infantry and spearmen. These men-at-arms will likely make up the majority of your professional soldiers by the late game, since heavy infantry outperform many of their contemporaries, and spearmen are devastatingly powerful for the defense of hill or mountain terrain.
When fully upgraded, the Barracks provide an even bigger bonus towards your supply of levied troops and the power of your toughest infantry. They also reduce the construction time of other buildings in the county, and raise the levy reinforcement rate for the individual holding. Barracks can be built on any kind of terrain except for a desert, desert mountain, oasis, or floodplain. If you can stack five of these across your holdings and get them fully upgraded, your heavy infantry will be almost twice as strong as they are by default!
There are multiple fort buildings you can construct, dependent on the terrain of the holding.
- Walls & Towers: Provide some tax increases and stat buffs for your archers later on. Require more upgrades than other fort buildings to get combat advantage bonuses. Can be constructed on plains, farms, and wetlands.
- Forest Forts: Provide some levies, and give a boost to skirmishers and archers later on. Can be constructed on forests and taigas.
- Hill Forts: Provide a combat bonus even at Level 1. Later levels add a bonus to spearmen (who fight best in this terrain), and a percentage-based bonus to control growth. Can be constructed on hills, mountains, and desert mountains.
- Watchtowers: Provide a combat bonus, improve archers, and increase the time it takes an eney to successfully raid you. Can be constructed on all types of terrain not specified above.
Forts can only be built in castle holdings, not cities or churches. All fort buildings take 150 gold to build at their first level. All take three years to construct, with the exception of Hill Forts, which take five years.
Regardless of what kind of fort you’re building, they all have at least one effect in common, which is raising the “Fort Level” of the castle. This makes any enemy army trying to put the castle under siege bring siege weapons of an appropriate era for the fortifications in front of them or risk an incredibly lengthy siege process. Even the first level of walls can do quite a bit for you in this regard.
The absolute best military structure in the game has to be the regimental grounds. Taking five entire years to construct and costing 200 gold, this structure raises the rate at which your levies can reinforce by a whopping 5%, and that’s just at the first level. It also adds 150 individuals to your conscripted peasant army and provides a strength bonus for armored cavalry, the absolute strongest men-at-arms variety. On top of all this, the biggest benefit it gives you is a percentage-based reduction in the maintenance costs of your men-at-arms, letting you support bigger, stronger armies for longer.
The downside to these structures is that they can only be built on farmland or floodplain terrain, like a purely military version of the Manor Houses. These structures should absolutely be built on every available tile workable terrain. Upgraded all the way, they provide bigger stacks of the bonuses you already have from the lower levels, while also giving you a percentage-based bonus number of levies from the entire county. With several of these buildings in play at once, this could add up to thousands and thousands of extra men from these structures alone. It will also give you access to an additional knight, and knights are truly the most efficient method of waging war.
Join the High Ground
That’s it for our ranking of the best buildings in CK3 — thanks for reading! As a final note, centering your empire around farmland terrain seems to be your best bet. If you can’t get access to farmland to build manor houses and regimental grounds, though, you have many other options to work your way up and become the ultimate feudal ruler. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more CK3 content like this!