I play at ironman expert but I guess my advice will work in veteran
Use very few (or none) ranged and fight brigands at night (archers get penalty at shooting during the nigh)
1. The game has a steep change of difficulty every time a new enemy appears: raiders, legionaries/orc warriors, warlords etc. In expert raiders appear right from the start. I try to avoid raiders until I have improved a bit more. Direwolves, wiedergangers and nachzehrers are ideal. You have to try to get to 12 brothers as soon as possible with cheapish backgrounds. I look for farmhands (they may also come with a polearm), a tailor (
to craft the direwolf armor), apprentices, fisherman etc Equip every frontliner with a shield, get a lot of backliners with polearms. The strategy is for the
front line to hold (spear wall, shieldwall) while the back kills it. In the beginning polearms, spears and flails(because you get the best flail weapon soon) are very good, however these weapons are bad in end game so don’t specialize in them (maybe 1 flail but absolutely no spears)
2. I always take 1 skull contracts and keep a constant flow of them minimizing downtime (a delivery contract without fights is perfect while you repair/heal).
The money offered in the contract will tell you how difficult it is.
You may risk a 2 skull contract if the enemy is easy, basically terrorize the city is the easiest as it will usually be direwolves. Escort caravans is the only contract I don’t do because I can’t choose to avoid the combat and because sometimes you get attacked twice. Only if it is a short route I may take it because you will attacked only once then
3 There are plenty of things you can do to get more efficient. some pointers:
– Weapon selection: It seems all weapons are balanced but in reality some are better than others. In the beginning you want everybody with a shield
and polearms doing the damage but my final band composition is: 1 sergeant, 1 polearm, 3 shields (mostly maces), 1 duelist, 6 2-handers. Once you get
decent defense/armor you can put your best armor in your best guy, equip a 2 hander and see him destroy the enemy. Archers/Crossbows in my opinion are meh.
They are ineffective against armored(bows) or unarmored(crossbows) and they offer NEGATIVE utility (you have to keep them in the back and protect them). Every
frontline that you have adds surround bonus and covers your flank. Fighting without archers also allows you to always fight at night against archers (
avoid escorts missions for this reason as you can’t choose the time) and laugh at wolfriders/necrosavants/orc warriors backlines attacks
– Trading: you should find a good trade goods producer and maximize relations with it and a nearby city to maximize profits. Always trade, it is free money.
– Scavenging: You should try to get enemy armor from the start. Armored wiedergangers are great because they are easy and carry decent armor, then brigands
and specially brigands leader have good armor. You can risk a combat with a low count mercenary company with a hedge knight. In my current game I killed
one 6 men company and got a 300 armor from the knight. To distract the knight I use a shield holder tanking him shieldwalling all the time(don’t attack to
To scavenge effectively you can use flails (go for the head) or ideally daggers (puncture ignores armor), kill everybody else and then surround the knight with all your brothers for a Jon Snow moment. Still it is normal to lose people againts a hedge knight for this reason I don’t fight them normally :D
– Armor: prioritize buying strong armor. In the beg I go for the 210 one, then the 230 with -28 fatigue is great too. Don’t buy weapons, you usually get them from the enemy
– Perks: My first perks are student, colossus, rotation&shield spec(only for shield holders) or gifted/killing frenzy(2 handers), brawny, weapon specialization, battle forged, underdog/backstabber
– Cannon fodder: Keep your rock stars alive and use expendable backgrounds/stats as front line. It is usually better to put your best men in a flank to completely destroy it while the other flank just tries to gain time surviving
5 As mention avoid raiders (and later orc warriors/legionaries) until you are well trained. It comes with experience but always go on the conservative side. The difficulty keeps increasing but it is always better to have slow progression than to lose a brother and suffer a severe fallback