In my current playthrough, I played very conservatively until I had an elite team of battle-hardened mercenaries. Even with my careful play, s*** happens. I’ve lost a founding brother, and at least half a dozen men.
However, by now my party cannot be beat in an open fields formation. I have had one single bowmaster kill 21 (!) ghouls in one turn.
(I’ve posted this picture in another thread before, but it’s the same party.)
The most critical key of my army are the members I call my ‘Sergeants’. One is a Fearless Apprentice who started with a incredibly high Resolve rating, 60ish, IIRC. The other is an squire who rolled a 54 starting resolve. At level 11, these men have a morale rating of 95 and 94 (!), respectively. This is before bonuses from Confident or Captain kicks in.
With an enormous +23 (observed in combat) Resolve rating, even the most craven and worthless scum stand their ground like fanatical zealots.
More importantly than that, however, is the ability to permenantly Rally The Troops. With the Sergeant’s shouting affecting each other, my entire front line can spam Spearwall + Shieldwall every turn. If my archers or other carries get unlucky on their first Perfect Focus run, they can just wait for a recharge from the Sergeants yelling at them.
The Seargents start out with Heavier mail and billhooks. Early on, they basically act as a second line damage source once the ranks close. I level them up in a Melee/Ranged/Resolve pattern on even levels and Melee/Fatigue/Resolve pattern on odd levels. Late game, they are armed with two crossbows, a shield, and a billhook, and are armored in scale vests and fitted with padded kettle helms, however, they rarely do anything but use Rally The Troops.
My army’s endurance is only limited by their ammunition and weapons durability now. In an open-order battle, as long as I am not completely boned by positioning, I can fight an Orc force up to 5x my size.
The ‘Lieutenant’, whom quite appropriately is an naive noble idiot, is fitted similarly to the standard frontline defensive heavy infantry. I chose him to be the “Inspirational” Officer since he already has the Determined perk, allowing for a uniform Confident Start. The standard rotation of Melee Skill/Melee Defense/Ranged Defense works well for him, with a few levels devoted to Endurance. Since Nobles are idiots who don’t know the true threat of arrows, he must use a kite shield to compensate. You can see his exact setup in the first picture.
The ‘Grunts’ I use 4 of. They are fitted at the beginning with basic mail, boar spears, and shields, upgrading to full mail, nasal helms and heater shields, then to plated coats and mailed flat-top helms. They level Melee Attack, Melee Defense and Ranged Defense, occasionally trading melee skill for endurance.
They prioritize the basic defenses and Rotation, then take a point in Sundering, then goes back into utility for Pathfinding, aiming for Brawny by level 10. I haven’t figured out what to put the final point into for level 11, but having the basic defenses, Rotation, Sundering, and Brawny makes for a very powerful lineup of tanky characters, that when armed with spears, will connect extremely frequently. These are the most expendable dudes in the army.
Your bowmen are practically useless until they hit 70 weapons skill. Even then, you need to take Fast Adaptation to make Quick Shots useful, and even with Sundering, they still bounce off Armored Orcs.
Why not use Crossbowmen instead, who are semi-reliable with just 60 weapons skill, and dish out incredible anti-armor performance, instead?
Firstly, the Hunting Bow outranges the Crossbow- it is very important that your own skirmishers can reply in kind to opposing skirmishers. Secondly, once you can reliably connect, the Hunting Bow will significantly out-DPS the crossbow. Finally, Perfect Focus builds plain just don’t work well with crossbows- the Fatigue/Damage ratio is just too poor.
These factors, especially the last two factors, ensures that for an end game build, the Hunting Bow is the tool for specialists. With the powerful combination of Battle Flow and Perfect Focus, an skilled Bowmaster can singlehandedly wipe out entire armies of light opponents. Even better, the bow does not suffer degradation of durability, a huge bonus when comparing to melee Perfect Focus carries; I have had a Perfect Focus Hedge Knight shatter 3 greatswords (Original, Quick Hands, Beserk recovers AP for another switch) in one turn.
That is not to say Archers are flawless- it is rare for your bowmen to kill an Armored Orc in one turn, and vs Skeletons they can only hope to chip away at your opponents armor. Indeed, they are so useless early game I often have 2/3 bowmen carrying their billhooks into battle instead. Still, late game, they are unrivaled vs light opponents that do not resist piercing .
Early game, I have them just wear padded surcoats and other light armor. However, an battle with some heavy orc warriors saw my front line broken, my mailed Sergeants bleeding, but my unarmored Archers dead. Once my frontliners had enough endurance to swap to heavier gear, my archers were refitted in mail.
The other two characters are my Glass Perfect Focus/Battle Flow Hedge Knight and my nimble
Jedi Swordmaster. Their builds are self explanatory.
Note of warning: You may be tempted to give your
Jedi Swordmaster nothing but a sword and a woven tunic, to minimize encumberance and maximize Dodge bonus, for further Nimble Multiplication. Do not do this.
No matter what your total defense skill is, chance to hit/get hit cannot fall below 5%. Eventually your extremely skilled, rare, and expensive asset will get hit.
With his terrible HP pool and the absurd damage levels on late game weapons (My Hedge Knight, if using Split Man with an Orc 2H Axe deals 148-215 damage, 311-457 armor damage. He isn’t even Brutal…) he will probably die. Put some goddamn armor on your Jedi- it may not look cool, but it will keep his butt alive.