My strategy so far has been to get as many of the companions as i can and max one of each stat on different ones (the party skills only of course, and research the noble companions. best tog ear them for being a Lord rather than party member). 10 in wound treatment, surgery, first aid, trainer and path finding makes your downtime very...short.
for troops i follow the 'specialist' builds
Infantry: Nord Huscarls (best melee, even over hired blades. Also has
thrown weapons to whittle away the enemy ranks before the even
Archers: Rhodok Sharpshooters and Nord Vet archers. I mix and match
because I feel rhodoks while powerful in ranged combat, they cannot
move and fire and their melee skills kind of stink. The nord vets are
better at melee defense if cavalry happen to get through.
Cavalry: mix of merc cav, Saranid horsemen/mamlukes and swadian
Knights/MAA. (While very expensive to upkeep, a completely cavalry
army of this mix offers very good NON-SIEGE victory. Never bring
cavalry to a siege, they will die or be incapacitated quickly
compared to hired blades and huscarls.
From what i have read/seen this is what i consider the troops usefulness for
(best to worst)
- Nord huscarls
- Rhodok/Hired Blades
- Khergit (no true infantry past 2nd upgrade so... yeah)
Archers (not horse-archers)
- Rhodok Sharps/Vaegir Marks
- Swadian sharps/merc crossbowmen
- Khergit (non ponies, again no ground troops past upgrade 2)
- Swadian Knights/ Sarranid Mameluke (Knights have better armor/hp,
Mameluke have better weapons/manuever/speed/dmg)
- Mercenary Cavalry/slaverchief (the entire line is pretty
awesome, more later) Vagir kngihts/Khergit Lancers (refer to top,
repalce swadia with vaegir and sarranid with Khergit)
- Nords don't like ponies apparently.
- No one else has the moving, hand-eye coordination.
I think a companion sums it up (lezalit maybe?)
- Nord flank
- rhodok line
- vaegir archers
- swadian cavalry
- khergit pony-archers hit and run.
For sieges I have everyone hold their fire, and station my archers behind my huscarls (if I bring archers, sometimes i don't). I then go up the ramp/siege tower behind the second rank of huscarls (so I'm in the third 'set' to hit the walls). I then jump down and get to the opposite wall of the castle/town (if there is an opposite wall) and have the archers hold that position so they can pepper the enemy with arrows from behind. I then sit back and keep enemies off my archers.
My personal skills priority list
- Riding to 5
- Leadership 10 (dat paycheck shrinker)
- prisoner management 5 (explained later)
- invo manage 5 (explained later)
- then I alternate points into
Doesn't matter if you are on your own, helping g a claimant or helping a faction having a central garrison is your first goal.
Go for a city that is fairly secluded (wercheg is my favorite) or a city that is VERY easy to get to (Dhirim or Suno for example) and build your prison tower. Start filling your barracks with Highlevel troops and use the city as a storage closet for your cavalry if you are going on a siege spree.
Get as many of the Manhunter line as you can (I usually stop at 50-100, they are pretty spendy) and add a small mix of other cav units too. Use this as your main "field engagment" force. Capture as many enemies as you can hold and barracks them in this city.
When you get a certain troop PAST what you can carry for prisoners, put ALL of your troops into the barracks and grab that troops set out. Set camp recruit them (if they accept) then IMMEDIATELY barracks them. DO NOT grab your old crew back out yet, unless they have better than "below average" morale as you risk losing some to desertion. Grab any over that and go find looter/bandits AND SLAUGHTER THEM until your morale is back to average/below average on the troops in your city.
If you get too low on cash you can also sell these prisoners as an 'emergency bank account' :)
Then go back about your business.
Inventory management is a MUST if you are going to be holding a large number of troops for any period of time.
I set my Inventory (going to call it bags from now on, just faster) up with my food/alternate weapons at the bottom so i don't accidentally sell it.
When looting the enemy after a battle i ONLY pick up items worth at least 200 gold (until i get my bags full). when my bags are full and I'm on my way to a friendly (or neutral) city to sell I still battle (morale is important, so are prisoners if I can get my hand on em) I will start replacing low value, nonfood/alternate weapon items with higher value gear, starting at the lowest value and replacing my way up.
SO in essence inventory priority:
- food/secondary weaps for me and party
High value items
- Horses/tradegoods, they both sell very well usually.
- Armor usually sells at an acceptable rate over weapons.
- Weapons (thrown too, but not arrows/bolts)
- ammo because it's usually the lower value battle-loot
Honor vs Dishonor
I usually don't worry about honor before I get to around 750-1250 renown. Keeping your army outfitted/paid/upgraded is more important then moral feelings and as such should be your first concern. When you finally start warring with other factions (be it by yourself, helping a claimant or a faction) you can keep attacking caravans that ARE on the enemy side but almost always let enemy lords go (inc faction with them usually). I only keep kings for ransom, or if I'm doing a 'capture an enemy lord' quest I will not release my next captured lord. It will make it so you have more enemies to train your troops off of (enemy lords keep recruiting when you release them) but also makes defending your realm a more challenging objective.
A word of advice, do not try to persuade lords to defect until you have a VERY high relationship with them, I have a game I enabled cheats on (and import/exported my character for max stats). She has 109 relation with Jarl Olaf but he just refused her attmpt to defect to Swadia (he is mad at ragnar, mad at most of the jarls and loved my reason he should defect. he also fealt safer among my faction than his own).
Types of Engagements
Army(ies) vs Army(ies) on a random battlefield. You will be in A LOT of these.
Reasons to battle in general engagements:
Morale. Morale is raised every time you win a battle that required
even half an effort. No reward for going 200 vs 3 enemies.
Relation. Saving villagers/caravans from enemies or bandits increases your faction with that realm.
- Money. Battlefield loot is pretty valuable and often yields upgrades for your companions. Never buy your companions gear unless you have the cash. give them hand-me-downs or downgrades from you.
- Experience for you, your companions and your troops. Avoid getting into long drawn-out battles if you do not have a companion with surgery at 10 (increased chance that fatally struck troops will be incapacitated instead)
Reasons to AVOID battles:
- Losing results in morale lost, cash lost, companions are lost, items lost. Losing battles becomes VERY costly.
- troops WILL die unless its an absolutely unfair battle. or you have maxed surgery.
- Companions lose morale and start to whine if you lose or lose to many troops in a victory.
Offenders vs Defenders in a castle or town setting. Defenders will come out only if they have TRIPLE the offenders troop number. very useful if you have max level troops and they have mainly low level troops. otherwise, HAVE FUN STORMING THE CASTLE!
Average Castle garrison WITHOUT an occupying lord(s) is roughly 80-200.
Average City garrison WITHOUT occupying lord(s) is roughly 200-450.
expect a large range of troop levels, from recruits to Specialists.
Reasons to besiege:
- New territory for your faction
- Release prisoners (lords or troops). released troops can be recruited.
- Make trade routes safer if you at war with a faction but not one on the other side. Caravans that reach their destination inc prosperity.
- Fiefs Fiefs Fiefs!
Reasons NOT to besiege:
- Storming a castle is very costly, in terms of time AND money/troops. You lose food while waiting to build ladders/towers and are vulnerable to being counter-attacked/surrounded.
- Storming a City is the same as above, but even-more so.
- The lord you are taking it from will, for some unknown reason, NOT LIKE YOU!
- a freshly taken city/castle by an NPC lord is rarely left with a sizable defending force, leaving you to do it or left it to be counter-sieged.
- messes with prosperity A LOT if you/your faction raided the villages nearby, leaving you an economic mess.
Hope some of that helps you. That's all from my personal experience playing for over 300 hour or my own personal summary of what I have read from other sources/the wiki.
Also, try making friends with enemy lords. at the cost of some relationship points some of them will agree to avoid the battle, making it so the other lords have to catch up to you if they still want to fight.