This week I started playing a new computer game: Mount & Blade: Warband. It’s a cross between RPG and FPS (with swords and bows instead of pistols and machine guns). So far I really like it a lot, but I’ve found very little online as far as guides or even just down to earth practical advice.  So I’ll share what I know so far – what you need to know as a newb to this game.

I’m not going to go over factions and skills, as that part of the game is actually pretty well covered. I’m going to suggest some goals and things to watch out for while you’re actually playing the game.

First thing – do the training grounds.  The fighting style is different from most games out there and it takes some getting used to.  Definitely concentrate on both the melee and fighting from a horse – it’s not called “Mount & Blade” for nothing, you fight from atop your horse all the time while “out in the field” (moving from town to town), but you need your melee skill during a castle or city siege, and when raiding bandit lairs (no horses allowed in these venues).

Once you’re somewhat comfortable with the controls and you feel like you’re able to actually hit stuff while on your horse, move into the game proper and do the complete introductory merchant quest line. While doing this, feel free to take on looters and bandits if you feel you have enough men to do so – which means you have equal or more numbers in your army.  At this stage in the game, hang back with your troops – they don’t have horses yet, so if you go running up on yours, you’ll be facing your enemies alone. It’s much easier to take on the baddies with your group.

Additionally, in these early stages avoid battles with bandits on horseback as they will seriously mow you down and take you prisoner – you eventually escape, but you will have to start all over building your army back up, and you’ll be much further from home.   It’s much better to wait until you get some of your army trained up to horsemen before taking on other mounted groups. 

It doesn’t take too many battles against other foot-bound bandits and looters for your recruits to advance to horsemen. This will greatly enhance your mobility, and your killing capacity.  Keep recruiting as many men as you can afford to feed/salary.  You will need a large army to begin fighting in the “army proper,” or to lay siege to anything.

Funding a sizeable army also takes butt-loads of cash. There are basically two ways to do this, one is by signing up with the local lords doing menial tasks and eventually sigining on as a mercernary force, which then leads to earning enough reputation to become a vassal. As a vassal, you can earn the right to be granted a castle/fief. Or funding option two,  you can cheat by importing an edited character export file…  To learn the game quickly, I chose the latter and built it into my story line – my character is actually named the same as my EVE Online “main” who also happens to be a corp. leader (and sole member of)  the Markovian Parallax – and he’s decided to take a break from being a space mariner to found the Markovian Empire on this backwater world, using his extensive off-world resources to fund this new enterprise…

Anyways, back to tactics.  With funding out of the way – remeber to keep your army fed, and use a variety of foods to keep them happy.  You can buy food from cities and settlements. You can only sell your loot in cities at the marketplace.  Keep an eye on how many funds the merchant has, since if you try to sell too many items, they may not have enough funds to pay you for everything. 

The nice thing about using funding option two, is that since you’re not aligned with any one kingdom, you have free reign to run around the entire world map, to any kingdom and any city to sell off and buy stuff from, without worrying if you’re going to get attacked by some large, well trained royal army. It also means you can recruit from all of their settlement to build up an army with the best units from each kingdom. Plus it allows you to be very selective in who you hire as companions.

Companions are very important, you can select their armor, weapons, and training paths – thus they make excellent warriors at your side.  And in the long run they can also help you lay claim to founding your own kingdom, esp. if you hire on the noble born (of which, there are six).  I hired on all of the nobles – mainly because they all get along with each other, and they can be very instrumental in gaining you favor from the other kingdoms – which is esp. useful when the time comes for you to declare war on one of the kingdoms to establish your own…

In my next article I’ll probably just list a bunch of specificst that I’ve found to be useful…