Yeah on Expert Ironman you’re running a tight ship and there is so much that can go wrong, you might survive one bad fight if you’re in good shape. But if you’re barely scraping by already (which is the case half the time early on) and get ambushed or a bad surprise at a location you’re in deep trouble instantly.
I’m not even running much of a 2nd line anymore, your own mid tier archers are great, but target priority for enemy archers kills them sooner or later. Even with someone in front of them the sheer volume of fire will sooner or later kill anyone not wearing 200+ of body and helmet armour. Some random group of bandits with 3 or more Crossbows has good odds to straight up kill someone in the first 50 days or so anyway.
Not saying its impossible or too hard, but there is a problem with Ranged Brothers in general. They take quite a while to get useful, aren’t all that useful against a lot of targets and will probably die sooner or later two a headshot or two with a heavy crossbow.
Necrosavants, Wolfriders, mass or skilled enemy archers will occasionally kill one of them straight away and they aren’t easily replaced where you could just slap some armour on a new “fighty” background to replace a melee combatant.
3+ Archers with Warbows sitting on highground wreak some serious havoc if you have them against Orks or Humans. Getting them to that point can be a serious issue though, and they still don’t contribute much in night fights, against either of the undead or massed heavily armoured opponents like Orc Warriors.
Moral is tedious with Gheists being able to scare your 60+ resolve veterans shitless through 20-40 of Zombies without a way to reach them. There is an effective way to deal with them – running away so the Gheists chase you out of position and can be pummeled. But this takes like forever and then some.
Goblins are still utter bullshit and take forever to get rid of with a lot of injuries and unsatisfactory rewards. Grinding a week in game time to upgrade one piece of armour at a time while avoiding losses, ignoring potential new recruits, avoiding expensive recruits like the plague, until you can make sure they don’t just die in a ditch as soon as someone with a bit of armour piercing weaponry shows up.
The first 50 days are a real challenge, then you get your guys to LVL8 (%based damage reduction perk), have a frontline in good shape to start simply running down Goblins and Bandits before their archers can do serious work. Finally 2 handers come into the equation to serve as force multipliers (High tier armour, Reach advantage and %based damage reduction perk to eat Bolts, 2H Axe hits from Hedgeknights/Mercenaries/Warlords/Knights). Your backline has the necessary Perks to take a hit or to escape combat with an angry Orc Warlord and you’ll have some breathing room in your reserves to cycle in guys with permanent injuries or brothers that simply got benched for their stats.
Damn this game is fun, but Christ it took a few tries to make it far enough.
A few things that are completely unsatisfying at the moment – rare Item drop rates, haven’t seen a single named Item outside of shops for the last 150 days of early/midgame, thats a real bummer – even more so since I wasn’t even close to be able to afford one by buying it so far. Actually apart from right at the start of them game, all my money goes into
1. Tools & Food
2. Affordable backgrounds to get a full company going
3. The best armour I can afford
4. Combat backgrounds
5. no clue never had this much money
My best playthroughs are fueled by slight exploits. Get to day 30 or so, pick the weakest faction on the map, breaking contracts/events that cause hostility until they are attackable. Hunt their Caravans for easy 1.5k+ all over the map without much repercussion than the occasional lost caravan contract.
Cities. It seems like 4/5 contracts a city will give you are caravan contracts or deliveries. Which sucks because you really want to have them on slightly better terms.
Contracts in early game in combination with Map composition. I have some serious issues with a lot of Maps, simply because there is a Motte and a Fortress in between two settlements. Unless I’m already set up to gain contracts from nobles, both locations are more or less worthless. If those locations could provide a limited variation of early game contracts (I’d even be happy about caravan or delivery contracts if that means the cities get more other stuff) that aren’t related to faction reputation but can be used to make money that would be really great.
Tools. Holy crap. Expert wouldn’t be such a damned struggle if you could just sustain a basic level of combat preparation early game without investing at least half your income in tools. Not being able to repair your stuff is what kills your guys early on, keeps you from upgrading your already expensive gear and a single stack can be as expensive as your next contract reward or more if the village is currently suffering from ambushed trade routes. Its not like you can choose not to buy them since you’ve probably bought all available tools on your last location anyway. Their availability isn’t all that great either. Expense based more on equipment quality/points of durability replenished would go a long way to take the difficulty early on down a notch without affecting the game mechanics or mid-/lategame.
Generally speaking, awesome game, time to start over to get after trying to beat some mercenaries way too early again.