1. Most of the time I gave polearms to my most talented, but at this point weak, recruits. This wasn’t the best of approaches as it seems. Worked in beginner but in veteran you just can’t afford to miss to much of the polearm- damage- output. So I will try to give my best guys the polearms and to abuse the 100% hitchance of the shieldsplit like McKing proposed.
I give polearms almost exclusively to ranged hybrids in my backline. I don’t run dedicated polearm guys. Sometimes I give polearm to one of the new recruits in later stages of the game but you have to be careful with that when you are against enemy with ranged as he is likely without ranged defense and thus primary target for enemy bows and crossbows. I prefer to keep talented recruits in reserve and rotate them in to the easier fights until they get few levels.
Works fine for me so far.
To hunt down what terrorizes villages is also my favorite quest and werwolfs and nachzehrers are by far the easiest enemies at the start. So I try to do as much of those contracts as possible.
Problem with these two is that they give small experience and little loot. In early game, I actually like raider type missions because they are my primary source of 2. tier weapons and 100 durability armors. To get these weapons and armors by buying them would be major pain in the ass as I would struggle to earn enough money while raiders are walking armory.
My usual approach which works for me so far is to recruit 8 squad (including starting brothers) for a fight with Hogart, all equipped with 30-40 class armors and headgear, at last 2 spears and as many shields as I can find. Farmhands, brawlers, daytalers, fisherman, butchers, builders are my picks but I won’t shine away from ratcatcher, apprentice, mason, messenger or vagabond either. However I avoid backgrounds with negative bonuses like cripples, beggars, tailors and so on. If I stumble across cheap poacher, I might consider recruiting him. I buy few knives as well and give it to the best melee fighters to let me strip enemies of those armors I need.
In fight against Hogart, I aim at getting Hogarts armor. Depending on how AI plays, this is quit doable and armor goes to my starting 2H guy. And yes, I do use 2H at the beginning.
After the battle I take a look at the map and try to find region with many civilian settlements close by, with at last one major trade resourse in a small settlement and at last one large city where it can be sold. In ideal case at last one small settlement should have workshop for cheap tools and herbalist grove for cheap meds. I will then made that region my main base of operations for beginning and mid game, running missions around and trading there. Always try to make local mission before buying and selling since it always results in better prices.
Once I know where I will operate I try to raise my squad to 12 while keeping equipping them with 40-50 class armors, helmets and shields. All salvaged from enemies (thug class). I also try to hire second ranged guy. Usually poacher or bowyer but I do keep eye on a talented guy from other backgrounds (40+ ranged attack and 2 or 3 stars will do).
Once that is done, I try to hire few brothers in to reserve while upgrading my armors in the front row to raider class gear (+-100 armor and helmets). As for weapons I tend to run 7 front liners with shields, 2 spears at the flanks, 2 flails, one mace and 2 swords. Mace and flails goes to those with best melee attack. In back row I have 1x 2H and 4 ranged/polearm hybrids. I prefer pikes at the early-mid game due to their hit chance bonus, but I like to have at last 1 long axe for breaking shields. All my non ranged get daggers for armor stripping.
At this point I try to replace really bad brothers with more decent ones and I try to find at last one more future 2H user -that means somebody with ability to reach 85+ attack, 25+ defence, 120+ fatigue and 50+ resolve. I also try to find 1 or two candidates for sergeant. I prefer to use my sergeants as a shield frontliners. I give them banner only during fights against geists.
At the same time I try to raise 10,000 gold as a permanent reserve. Anytime I get more, I buy 200 class armor and helmet for one of my front liners. This seems to be point where many new players tend to make a mistake. Once they equip their squad with top raider class gear (100 armors 2nd tier weapons), they think they are good to go. That’s not the case. You need better armor and few better weapons if you want to regularly take on larger raider groups, goblins and orcs. Otherwise you’ll be constantly loosing brother or two per fight and struggling to move forward. You need to level your brothers to level 7+ (to get battle forged which is probably the most essential perk in this game for heavy melee builds in mid to late game).
Once I get at last 4 200+ armors and helmets in the front row, I start raiding ruins for famed weapons and armors and look for bandit leaders and hedge knights to get higher tier armors and weapons. Having 2x 2H guys with 80+ attack, 300+ armor, battle forged and some good 2H weapons is going to carry you long way in the middle part of the game (great sword is likely the most versatile but you want 2H hammers if greenskins invade). At this point all my melee brothers have dagger and some ranged hybrids have nets to help strip those more dangerous foes of their goodies.
Also fallen heroes are good source of early heavy armors. With their low action points they are somehow less dangerous and while their armors are sub par to their normal equivalents, they still can provide you with very good protection until you can afford something better. Don’t sell their shields either, while they are inferior to kite shields, they are superior to round shields. And it won’t hurt as much when some orc breaks one.
At this point you should be in the mid game, have 2 high level 2H guys in 250-350 armors. Next thing you want to is start hiring more expensive backgrounds, replacing the more useless of your mercs, increasing number of your 2H guys, perhaps adding one or two duelists, finding especially talented ranged character to have him sniping out enemy ranged (he should be able to reach 90+ ranged attack by level 11 and have at last 20 ranged defense). Mid game is also when first crisis kicks out and unless it’s noble war which you can essentially sit out without interfering, you gone face increased challenge as you need to actively prevent settlements to be overrun otherwise your world will shrink.
If greenskins invade, you want to have orc and goblin trophy (from chalenges) and 2 good 2H hammer guys.
If undead invade, you gone need one or two good sergeants and undead trophy.
5. In future encounters I will use falcons and scout out the enemies like hruza does. Never really considered them worth it because at the beginning 700 bucks for a falcon is a lot of money.
Falcons indeed seems like a expensive investment at the beginning of the game and buying one shouldn’t be your first priority. But they are one time investment so you may look for one for a good price (small castles are best bets) once you can afford it.