Sunday, 30 January 2011
Tips and Tricks for Mount and Blade: Warband
1: This isn't a game you can skip the tutorial for.
I don't know another game that plays like Warband and you probably don't either. I haven't played Warband's tutorial but original M&B did not include one of the most important gameplay elements in its so I'll add it here: COUCHED LANCING. First you need a polearm that is couchable (if it is, then in battle there will be a grey/red dot next to the weapon at the bottom right corner). Not all weapons in the polearm family can be couched - e.g. pitchforks and scythes - but generally speaking all 'spear' or 'lance' weapons can be. To couch a polearm, all you have to do is get your mount to a galloping speed and not press either mouse key (attack or block). You will automatically lower your polearm. Then you just have to aim at your enemies. Couched lance damage does immense damage. You can even take down an armoured war horse with one hit, if you hit it head on. And if you don't kill your opponent, you will almost certainly break their shield. The one thing to note is that your enemies will also couch their lances, so watch out! They generally prefer to go for normal attacks (which can still do a lot of damage), but leading a cavalry straight into an enemy cavalry can prove fatal.
2: Don't be dissuaded if you suck at first.
The game's combat takes some getting used to. At the start of the game, you will miss-time your attacks and blocks, and you won't have the best grasp on how much reach each weapon has (causing you to miss a lot fighting horse back). Once you get used to the game, you'll find it has one of the most intuitive fighting mechanics in any game around. I suggest turning the difficulty down to the easiest settings at first (you talk 1/4 normal damage).
3: Creating your character & party.
When you create your character, you'll first be asked about gender and background. Gender effects how nobles interact with you, while your background effects your starting stats.
Male characters will have a MUCH easier time becoming a vassal to a king and acquiring a fife, but kings will more harshly judge women trying to gain power. The game says female characters can gain more out of a marriage, which I guess is technically true as you can marry some powerful lord, but what I generally found even as a well respected war veteran was that none of the most powerful lords are interested in your hand in marriage. In my female save I eventually settled for a pretty small-time lord, who didn't really help much. I haven't married in my male save game yet, but so far as I can tell a marriage that is blessed by the father will get you into that lord's good books, so you can make strong ties easier... just don't elope, or you'll make an enemy of her dad.
Backgrounds aren't too important, really. Go for whatever sounds interesting. Being the child of an impoverished lord lets you choose your own banner, which gives you a slight advantage when it comes to buddying up with lords. With any other background, you can still get a banner if you become a vassal to a king or create your own kingdom.
When you're on the character screen and asked to put allocate stat and skill points, Intelligence, Strength, Charisma and Agility should be your order of important. Make sure you have a Riding skill of at least 2 or 3 so you can ride some horses. At 4 you can ride the vast majority of horses and don't need much more Riding (4 allows you to mount Hunters, which IMO are the best horses in the game). Important to note is the distinction between individual skills and party skills; party skills are shared by everyone, so you don't need to invest in them yourself. This is where party members (Heroes) come in: you can find and recruit them at taverns, usually at a small price. You can find a list of them here. Not all Heroes get along with each other and they'll leave if they don't like the way you run your army. Heroes are basically party skill slaves, much like how in Pokemon you have HM slaves such as Bidoof. You want to spend all their stats on Party Skills so you can invest in other things. I highly recommend you find Jeremus. His skills (First Aid, Surgery and Wound Treatment) will give you a much better chance at survival
A few skills to think about:
Weapon skills. The best weapons require some investment in these. The very best bows require Power Draw 8 which needs a stupidly large number of points in Strength (upwards of 20). However at 4-5 Power Strike/Draw you will be able to use most melee weapons and bows. You might want one or two points in Power Throw, but I personally rarely use throwing weapons.
Trainer. This will trickle exp down from the character with the highest level (who has Trainer) to troops of lower level. It is very helpful in quickly training up your fragile recruits into men-at-arms and warrior.
Surgery. Of the three 'health' skills this is the most important. Every skill point in Surgery gives your individual soldier's an increased chance of being knocked unconscious instead of killed in battle. At around 8/9 Surgery, you will rarely see deaths in your ranks. Very important to at least put one skill point into at the very start, or your army will never get better than recruit level.
Engineer. Decreases the time it takes to build siege ladders/towers (this varies from castle to castle). Not important early on, but highly important later in the game. Siege towers can take days to build without Engineer and a lot can happen in that time.
Prisoner Management. Capturing and selling prisoners is a pretty lucrative business. 2 or 3 is enough though, that gives you a prisoner capacity of 10-15, which is enough for the whole game.
Leadership. Sounds important but isn't really. One or two points is nice, but renown (which is earnt by being victorious in battle) will do far more for your army size and morale.
Trade. This is a dump stat for your Heroes, but starting with 1 might not be a bad idea. Trade allows you to access market prices. You can do that at towns, and it tells you what to buy and where to sell it for profit. The more skill points, the better the intel.
Weapons. Generally speaking, using a weapon will do far more for your skill with it than allocating points will. If you have any plans on using a bow or crossbow though, put skill points in there. You can barely aim for shit until around 100. At around 200-250 points, your accuracy and power with a bow is ridiculously good compared to earlier levels, so don't shrug it off because it's crap at first. Melee weapons you'll use a lot, so they'll go up on their own.
3: Calradia is ridiculously big! Where do I even begin?! To start off with, when the game asks you where you're travelling to (i.e. which kingdom you'll begin in), choose the kingdom of Swadia, Nords or Vaegirs. The Kherghit Khanite and Sarranid Sultanate is teeming with horse-back bandits which are very difficult to deal with, and the mountain bandits in the K-O-Rhodoks are pretty bad too (plus the mountainous terrain is difficult to deal with). The looters and forest bandits you meet in the former three are far more beginner friendly.
Do the tutorial quest when the merchant comes approaches you at the start and continue it to its near end (I don't recommend doing the last quest, attacking the guards at night; you don't get much out of it and you're likely to lose men). The following doesn't need to be done in any specific order, and you can take the tasks on as you like but I suggest doing these in the order laid out:
Play merchant. Remember Trade? Use that to find where you can buy/sell stuff. You'll start out small but pretty soon you'll be making a hefty amount of money.
Find the nearest feast. To do so, go to towns and drop by the taverns until you find a bard. You can ask them where feasts are being held. If there isn't a feast find the nearest tournament (ask the man at any arena). Feasts last about a week and there is a tournament held every single day of the feast. If you place 100 denars in every round of a tournament, you will come out with 3600 denars (you win 4000, but that's 600 denars you bet on yourself). Win a week's worth of tournaments and you'll be financially secure for quite a while. Don't forget to upgrade your equipment with all that money.
Get to know the local lords. If there was a feast, this is much easier to do. As a nobody you're not allowed into the castle during a feast, but if you win the tourney you'll be invited inside, where you can meet most of the lords of the realm. Get to know them and start accepting quests - and talk to the girls too. The lords bring all their unmarried daughters to feasts, so this is a great time to begin a relationship with a powerful lord's daughter. Early on you won't be very familiar with who's who, so check the characters section of your log (you can only access this in the overworld) and look for Lords with many connections and fifes. For example, Lord Haringoth of Swadia is powerful, and if you can romance his daughter you'd be making strong ties (just don't visit any girl without her father's permission, or daddy will hate you).
Take jobs from local Guild Masters and when you have the money, invest in a business through them. To find the GMs you need to wander through the streets. Look for the man standing on his own, not near a store. Unless you have the renown or are their lord, you'll need to do a few quests until they trust you enough to allow you to build a shop. It'll take a few thousands denars, but it's worth it. A permanent income is very helpful in paying your army's wages. I've stuck this in at number 4 but you should really do it whenever you have the money. It should be noted that your store's incomes will be withheld from you if during a war the town it's based in falls to enemy hands.
Join a faction. This does not have to be a permanent deal - you probably don't have the renown or relationships to become a vassal yet anyway. But if you ask for missions from a faction that is at war, they might offer to hire your army as mercenaries. As a mercenary your relationship with the warring factions will change accordingly (+50 for your ally, -50 for the enemy), but you do not have to keep allied with the hiring faction after your contract is over (30 days, but you can extend it by another month each time). Jumping from faction to faction as a merc as you find your place and get to know Calradia is not a bad idea. When you're ready and you know who you want to serve, ask to become vassal from the king of your choice.
And all the time throughout the above, recruit people for your army (hiring mercs at taverns isn't a bad idea if you have the money, but hired blades and mercenary cavalries have nothing on top tier soldiers trained from the ground up). Don't forget to hire some Heroes, too.
By the time you reach the end of that to-do list, you've probably gotten a feel for the game, gotten familiar with Calradia and the battle mechanics, and have an army big enough to scare away those pesky looters. There's a lot more to the game, but once you're this far along (I would say 5-10 hours into the game) you'll be familiar enough with the game to find them out for yourself without much difficulty.
A few, final tips:
ctrl+space. This is never mentioned ANYWHERE, but holding ctrl+space while moving in the overworld speeds the game up by about 3x, and you can even have it at this speed while travelling. The closest the game ever tells you about this is to hold spacebar to wait, but you can't move while waiting. It's a bit dangerous, especially in the early game, as the speed is so fast that if you don't pay attention and react quickly, you might run right into some enemy army you've no chance against might. However, this really speeds up the peace-time parts of the game, by far the most boring. Being a merchant and not using ctrl+space is extremely boring.
Keep horses in your inventory. About 3 or 4 will do. Your mount will eventually go lame and you'll need to switch it out for a new one. They eventually recover too but it takes a long time, better to sell the old and buy a new champion horse if you have the money. Also, having horses in your inventory will increase your travel speed (regardless of the horse's stats; even a lame saddlehorse will increase your speed).
Your Heroes need to be equipped the same as you, but don't waste too much money on them. Instead use hand-me-downs. Until you're rich and have purchased that rare +54 head armour helmet, you'll be constantly swapping out your old equipment for the new ones you find collecting the spoils of victory. Give yourself the best, then hand your Heroes the next best and your old armour.
During times of peace, and if you have a castle, garrison your troops and keep only 60 of your best men. Trying to support 100-250 men when there's no war is a hopeless endeavour as you can't keep their morale up without big, exhilarating battles. During peace, a 60-man army is big enough to scare away bandits, and small enough to catch up with them for a quick, morale-boosting victory.
After a battle with an enemy lord there is a chance (I think it's like 25%) that you will capture them. At this point you have the option to either claim them as your prisoner or set them free. Unless it's a king or you're invested in crippling the enemy armies (and capturing many of their lords is a good way to do so), you should always set them free. A few will hate you for your pity, but the vast majority of lords will like you more if you let them go, and you gain honour (which is always great as generally people like you more and some maidens require your honour to be high before accepting a proposal). Making the enemy love you is a good idea - if during a time of war you encounter a friendly enemy, you can plead with them to let your army escape without bloodshed, and they'll accept at a penalty to your relationship. Friendly lords are also much easier to persuade over to your side; if you try to put an usurper on the throne or attempt your own conquest of Calradia, you will want to bring friendlies over to your side.
Finally there is one last tip; USE MODS! Warband is a heavily modded game with a huge modding community, this game was meant to be modded and there are many amazing, huge mods out there that offer you a completely new experience and perspective. Some of these mods are large enough to be another game in themselves.
all credit for this guide goes to Doctor_Alligator on Reddit.com, thanks for letting us use this wonderful guide!