I guess I’ll jump in with my take on the offense tree as my play style has just solidified.
I like my party to have a line of sturdy tanks that use shieldwalls and high melee defense to tie up enemies, while they break enemy shields. They’re supported by a couple of crossbow using archers, whose job is to try to get a kill on weak enemies to get killing frenzy up ASAP, then their job is to shoot the most heavily armoured enemies to strip away their armour. A couple dudes with bill hooks also support the front line, trying to finish what the crossbowmen have started or stripping armour from enemies for the front line soldiers to get an opportunistic kill. Also a couple of guys with great swords to help thin out herds with area of effect attacks.
Sundering Strikes – A good perk for the heavy hitters. It doesn’t add much extra damage to one handed weapons, but it starts to add up for billhooks, greatswords, etc especially when combined with other damage increases. I think when I first started I vastly overvalued this perk and got it on all the brothers. I still will take it on almost every one because there’s not much competition at tier 1 for perks and it’s always helpful.
Crusher – I started out disliking this perk, but I’ve come to appreciate it much more for my front line troops, especially once I got fighting axes all around. Shieldwalls, especially undead shieldwalls that don’t suffer from fatigue, are a massive pain in the ass and Crusher helps break the stalemate quickly while staying safe. You can strip a shield and then shieldwall yourself, and let a fellow brother attack. I don’t like breaking shields with the two hand axes as anything that needs an axe that big to break can and will hit you back very hard.
Crusher benefits hatchets by letting you break a young orc’s feral shield (6 hp) in two blows instead of three, or a wooden shield (8 hp) in three blows instead of four, a heater shield (12 hp) in 4 blows instead of 6. That’s terrible, don’t bother with hatchets. A hand axe with Crusher can break a feral shield in a single blow, great for dealing with young orcs, still takes two for wooden shields, but does help with heaters which only take 2 instead of 3. A fighting axe without Crusher can break a Feral shield in one blow, a wooden in two, a heater in two, a kite shield in 3, an orc warrior’s metal shield (25 hp) in six(!) blows. With Crusher a fighting axe can break feral and wooden shields in one hit, heater and kite shields in two, and metal shields in 3 hits.
It’s easy to get three brothers with fighting axes and Crusher together to strip an orc warrior of his shield in one turn, while staying in shieldwall, and let your billhooks or archers deal with him, or kill them next turn. It also lets you break most bandits and skeletons shields in one hit, saving a lot of time and precious fatigue.
Bloody Harvest – a must have for anyone planning on picking up a great sword or great axe.
Executioner – Not great. I tend to pick it on the front line guys, as they use one handed weapons with relatively little damage and it helps them finish off wounded enemies.
Push the Advantage – I started out really liking this perk and using winged maces on everyone, but then I noticed I was running out of fatigue incredibly often going for stuns. Using a winged mace, you have anywhere between 40-70% to hit in the first place, and then another 75% chance to get a stun, and then you have to have a follow up attack ready from someone with Push the Advantage before the enemy’s next turn to benefit from it. It’s a lot of fatigue to risk, and enemies can be immune to stuns, but the reward is huge. I can’t see myself picking this ever again.
Fast adaptation – This isn’t even a choice, it’s mandatory.
Beserk – A must have perk. This is so useful for being able to reposition after getting a kill, especially with two handed weapons where you can only take a single step if you want to attack in a turn. You get a kill and can shift to where you’re needed for next turn. It’s also great for extra attacks, especially for two handed users. I haven’t been taking this on archers but now I’m sorely tempted.
Head Hunter – I hate this perk so much. You either want to be hitting the head every time or hitting the body every time, you don’t want to alternate. Nothing is worse than breaking someone’s body armour, taking them down to a few hp, and then the final attack hits their head armour and doesn’t penetrate. If it was just a flat increase on the chance to get a headshot, I might take it, especially for archers, but right now I avoid Head Hunter.
Full Force – A nice perk for great sword users who should be in the heaviest armour, or for billhook dudes because why not. I tend to take this because there’s not much else going on for them at tier 2.
Debilitate – A solid perk that I’m sad I ignored for so long. I want to have this on a couple of front line guys to make taking down heavily armoured enemies easier.
Bullseye – Amazing for archers. An absolute must have for the dedicated archer.
Close Combat Archer – This perk is amazing, especially if you take Killing Frenzy, Sundering Strikes and use a crossbow. If the range was 3 tiles it’d be over powered as all hell but 2 tiles is still risky against orcs. If you can get a kill with the crossbowman, and then get within 2 tiles of an orc warrior or warboss, they can kiss their armour goodbye.
Killing Frenzy – Amazing perk, I love having it on my support guys for sustained heavy damage.
Perfect Focus – I haven’t used this yet but there have been plenty of times when I wished I’ve had it. I can see this being very useful for 2 handers, archers and crossbowmen.
Wooooooow that took a long time.