For my main game, the Lucky Laggards…
Early game: Bought a few guys I wanted to keep, but also got some throwaways. Used throwaways to distract the enemy, kept others alive. Fought bandits mostly, kept the roads clear of their camps. My map had next to no undead at the start, so instead I tackled orc youngs after that.
When money was tight I’d take delivery jobs and caravan escort quests. My best money, however, came from raiding bandit hideouts and camps, so that’s what I did. I did my best to avoid forest battles and instead fought on the plains whenever possible; it’s much easier to take out bandits when they’re charging at your shield wall with archers behind it.
Orc warriors remained a big “no please no” opponent, and I wound up losing some guys to a fight with them when I tried to save a village.
Also, I trained 4 archers as soon as possible and made them respectable. They were hugely important for fighting bandits and orcs. I was lucky enough to get a Wildman early on too; his high fatigue made him a natural choice for a two-handed warrior. I forced him into heavy armor, slapped a greatsword into his hands and never looked back. Walter the Wildman has been my highest damage dealing character since.
Mid game: Had lots of pretty tough guys and a small body count for the throwaways. By now I was able to buy the REALLY good guys (Weaponmasters, Hedge Knights, etc.), so I did, though I couldn’t hire them all at once. Trained them on bandits again, then went tackled orcs and orcs and orcs and orcs and orcs. Still no undead around, really.
Late game: Now I can fight orc warriors with no real problem. My 4 archers from before are ridiculously useful at this stage; with Berserk and -33% fatigue on kill and the ability to fire all day long until they lose fatigue, well… these guys are a real pain train, and orcs with their melee focused armies can’t really do much. It’s easy for me to train the Weapon Masters and such that I picked up now; I weaken things with a hail of arrows, then I finish them off. It’s a great way to hit level 11 on everyone.
At this point I started replacing characters that I didn’t really want (my miner and my shepherd, for instance) with actually useful backgrounds. Again: Weapon Masters, Retired Soldiers, Hedge Knights, Adventurous Nobles… You name it. A couple of these guys die during training missions, but those that survive reach level 11 pretty quickly since I can tackle REALLY tough fights without much of a sweat. My army is effectively complete.
Presently: Sitting on 232 days worth of pay (61k gold), 202 days worth of food, 605 tools, 149 ammo, 1947 medical supplies. Half my inventory is made of identical equipment I can swap to in case my other equipment gets badly damaged and I need to throw myself into a fight. I’ve started new games since then. I’m looking at coming back to this main game later after a few updates, but I feel like I’ve “won.” It’s day 82 and there’s not much more progression to be had. I’ve thrown my armies at enough undead dungeons (they finally started spawning) to get a feel for the challenge they presented. Sadly, there haven’t been any werewolves for me to fight yet.
What I’ll do in later games: Use throwaways still, but I’ll get 12 guys ASAP rather than waiting to build up to that point. More bodies on the field is a huge advantage. Replacing guys with bad stats was the right decision to make, and I’ll be sorely tempted to do that toward the midgame rather than late game.
For my army composition, I’m thinking 4 archers, 2-3 two-handed weapon fighters, 2 captains and 3-4 “tanks” of some kind may be the way to go. I’ll definitely be using Weaponmasters again; they’re just amazing at holding the line against orcs with an einhander build. Two captains is good, by the way, because you get both Inspiring Presence and Rally the Troops, two must-have abilities that affect the whole team. Plus, it means you can fight on two fronts without either front having a low resolve. Not bad.