My early strategy is to build the ‘core’ forces. I pick backgrounds that don’t have fatigue penalties, so I look for Farmhands, Lumberjacks, Hunters anything that can hold a sword the right end up without being exhausted.
I aim for a squad of;
3 Spears, 2 Axes, 2 Maces/Warhammer, 2 Swords, 3 Archers/Crossbows.
The absolute priority is Spearmen though, the idea is to have a wrap-around battle line, spear in the middle and on the flanks with the axes, maces and swords ready to deal damage as needed. I sometimes pull the swords deep ‘behind’ the spears on the flanks because I like to try and keep them somewhat mobile enough to take out anything that loses its armour. Axes deal with shields asap, Maces wear out the armour along with the spearmen who spearwall anything and everything or forces the enemy to split into pockets that I can overlap with the swordsmen (in theory!)
Priority for armour and shields go to the Spears at first as losing a good spear-user is an absolute pain in the butt as the game progresses as rookie spear users tend to be a weak link in the line. I think I can make that strategy a lot more effective once Deployment is introduced, at the moment its luck of the draw whether I get my line set up in time for battle (absolutely no chance against Werewolves who just blitz into the bloody line).
Money is the priority so I usually take a caravan contract right out of the gate, if they are available! These usually give some nice coin for reasonable fights, but sometimes you’re looking at an instant game over tbh, my last ‘failed’ game had my mercs do a caravan contract for almost 1,500 crowns. The trek was huge(!) We fought off two bandit groups, an undead group and then a pack of werewolves and finally literally two steps away from the destination a hunting party of fully grown Orcs went to town on us. No chance! I reckon the caravan guards knew so too as they kinda just let my men get ground to mincemeat before they bothered half-heartedly poking at an Orc! Yeah I could have ran away at that point but… After all those battles it seemed a shamed to give up right at the destination point. :(
I don’t bother with delivery quests, they don’t offer enough to bother with. I’ll take up scouting missions sometimes depending on the terrain and I’ll do raze missions versus bandits, but I’ll abandon them if they send me to an Orc stronghold (learnt that lesson in my first ever game, OHKO head lopping? No thanks!)
A tip for those engrossed in the battle system; Rest, and rest often. I chain missions so often I once ended up fighting a bandit camp with a team half-wounded and with tattered armour. We won, but it was stupid and I didn’t realise we ran out of repair tools, so that was pretty dumb. Ironically, on the way to the castle to get repair tools I got hunted down by werewolves, so yay!