First, what inspired this post were all the newbie questions that seem to be popping up all over at the Taleworlds and Steam forums for Mount and Blade: Warband. The Taleworlds player guides can be a bit intimidating as they are pretty long and in-depth. For those who want to jump right in without reading every game secret (you’ll want to try those before reading spoilers) then this is for you.
Mind you, if you really want to avoid spoilers, trial and error is the best way to play the game.
YOUR LIFE LONG AGO …..
The game starts with giving you stats based on the story you weave for your character. Playing as a female will make the game very different. However, in the beginning it is arguably more advantageous to play a female. You won’t be able to become a vassal as quickly which turns out to be a nice self-pacing mechanism for new players.
The greatest error new players make is becoming a vassal much too early. It is much more profitable, both skill and money wise, to be a mercenary early on because you get to pick all your own battles without regard to faction standing. Now your game goals will vary and those will ultimately determine how you play the game at this stage. But there are a few things you should be aware of that will help you make better decisions:
- Don’t fail quests: You need reputation early on and that includes good relations with villages so you can recruit more easily.
- Make money: Find products in markets where you can buy low and sell high. Stack that cash. When you feel you have leanings toward a certain faction, buy your first piece of land there and put a profitable shop on it!
- Small army: An army of about 25-40 veterans is a good force to make bandit chasing easy and lucrative. The larger your army, the more difficult it will be to catch bandits, because you will be a slow rider. The smaller your army, the fewer options you have of exploring all of the map (because you will become the hunted). No matter what anyone says, it is never better to NOT have an army; they simply make earning money too easy. Likewise, small army is cheaper to feed and pay. Find a balance between must-have veteran units and regular units. A couple of veterans can and will turn the tide of battle.
- Skills: Pick up 1 inventory skill, 5 trade skill, and as much leadership skill as you can. Or you can delegate the trade skill to one of your heroes (recommended). This will give you a market advantage and make it more lucrative. More inventory early on is going to be mandatory if you play to loot a lot. Leadership decreases the cost of your army (also increases its size and boosts morale).
As you get more experienced, your mileage will vary with the tips above. But generally speaking, you will be more profitable under these circumstances.
FIGHTING AND FEEDING
There’s a LOT of ways to make money in this game. The spoils of Calradia are practically falling out of the sky! But you’ll need a strong bassinet on your head to catch it all.
As stated already, the larger your army the greater your expenses. You should see to it that you have incomes. Establishing shops won’t make you rich, but they provide a steady income and keep your costs down over the long run. Three shops early on will easily net you a steady net income until you gain a fief or castle. For an army of ~40-60 regulars, 3 shops are ideal. Add a shop to your land holdings for every 30 soldiers you recruit. Double it for a veteran force.
Losing your army is painful. It is cheap to recruit, but expensive to equip and upkeep. Don’t throw the lives of your soldiers away on a gamble. Pick your battles wisely. There’s no reset button and if you chose the autosave option, there is no going back once you have made a choice.
CHOOSING A FACTION
You can always swap factions. I don’t recommend it, but it is an option you always have. That said, early in the game here’s what a new player can expect from the various faction areas.
- Rhodoks: Easy — Enough bandits to hunt and few enough to ride around relatively safely while learning the game.
Hard — Mounted bandits are numerous as the desert sands. You will need a strong army early with anti-cavalry units or lots of cavalry units (these are expensive).
Hard — Same as the Sarranids, but a little worse, especially around Ichamur. The swarming of bandits reminds one of a roach nest.
Medium — Lots and lots of bandits and great loot. Sea raiders are relatively tough opponents, but nothing that can’t be crushed with a small regular army (25-40 units). Arguably the best starter faction, as it offers quick an easy rewards and the baddies are numerous enough to give a steady stream of experience for leveling.
- Swadians: Medium — The difficult here lies in the great distance between their kingdom holdings. There are lots of bandits spread around, but they are mostly looters and other easy prey.
Easy — Unless you hang around Wercheg, banditry is fairly minimal for the Nords. They are also easy because they offer the strongest melee units in the game, hands down. Laying siege with Huscarls is a sure win; besieging huscarls is a really bloody affair.
With all that info, you should know that baddies come with different difficulties too. Looters are the easiest. They are unarmored, poorly equipped peasants running around looting. Then there’s bandits, who are armed and armored, but only little better than the looters. Sea Raiders can be dangerous, if only because they are pretty bold. They are well armed and put up a decent fight. Deserters …they are the most dangerous as they are armed to the teeth (they left their former armies, that oughta give you a clue).
There’s a lot more to know about the game, but the info here is sufficient for a beginner. The best thing you can do is start the game and get going. The exciting part of the game for me is reading dialogue and making choices first hand without using guides so I don’t want to make any guide that intrudes too much on that experience.
I’ll post up an intermediate guide soon enough. Until then, I hope this is useful for some of you.
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