Topic: How do you build archers?

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  • #20772
    QuentinW
    Participant

    I’ve just started the game. My company has six shielded spearmen and six men with various polearms. It works fine for now, but I’m guessing I’m gonna need some archers soon, because most of the human enemies (even those without archers, maybe just a few javelins) will never attack me and I’m forced to move to them.

    So…
    How many archers do you use in your company?
    How do you build them? (stat-and-perk-wise)
    Do you make them hybrids so they can switch to melee?
    Do you equip them with light or heavy armor?
    Do you equip them with bows or crossbows?

    pls help :)

    oldschool rpg blog (in czech language)
    http://2k6goblinu.blogspot.cz/

    #20773
    Quidman
    Participant

    I always go with 2 type of archer :

    2 proper archer, with low melee stat, but very high range stat, and the poleaxe. Other very important stat : initiative. With low armor

    Fast adaptation, Bulleseyes, Bow Mastery, (I also use axe mastery), footwork, berserk, Nimble, fearsome are a must. After that, do what you prefer/most adapted to you Battle brother.

    I use them against week ennemy or ennemy with range mostly, or when there is a must kill target (like orc berserker). Just to clean a little the board.
    If you are against strong well plated ennemy or undead, put them in reserve.

    2 crossbow, with good melee and range stat, poleweapon and heavy armor. Other important stat : fatigue and hitpoint.

    (crippling strike), bulleseyes, steel bro, Brawny, backstabber, Xbow mastery, Polearm mastery, (footwork), battleforged. (and whatever you want for the last skills).

    I use them as archer and 2nd line, able to stand a fight. I’m still not sure about foorwork, and crippling strike is mostly because I use executionner on some of my mercenary, also useful to reduce effectivness of your opponent early during the battle. When the ennemy is at close combat, I switch to polearm. I use them against every type of ennemy, even undead. They could be one exception : goblins.

    #20774
    Mike
    Participant

    Hello,

    welcome to the community :)
    Good call on the need for archers – from my experience having solid shooting is crucial. It allows you to get rid of key targets (necromancers, crossbows, standard bearers) fast and helps to soften up the enemy as he approaches your line. My standard setup is:

    4 specialized archers (middle of the 2nd line)
    2 “flankers” crossbow/melee hybrids (on both sides of second line)

    Archers are focused on maximum damage at range and double as polearm users when tactically preferable (read: when they’ve already killed everyone who’s not in melee with the 1st line). They use bows (backup quiver or 2 in your bags in absolutely mandatory) and 2h-reach weapons: pike at first as they need boost to melee accuracy, then switch to longaxe (best unarmored HP damage, shield breaking). If I know I’m facing heavily armored opponents in next battle (say, orc warriors) I change their equipment to crossbows and billhooks. They wear closed mail coif (or any named helmet that doesn’t limit vision… you can get away with a -1 vision if you roll Eagle Eye trait) and Mail Shirt-grade armor (130-150 armor). In the endgame it’s prudent to give them Steel Brow and better chest armor to avoid embarrasing 1-shots from crossbows.

    Do note that after some recent changes it’s quite safe to shoot directly from behind your brother’s back at someone who is fighting him in melee, so it’s theoretically possible to go full-on range combat and forego melee completely. I just don’t think it’s worth it as polearms offer great support and flexibility (especially when fighting skeletons. On the topic of skeletons remember that unlike dem bones their armor is not resistant to ranged attacks).

    Stat-wise I focus on ranged skill (obvious), fatigue (you get a silly amount of shots with Berserk and need endurance to support that) and ranged defense (never let them stay in melee), in that order. Initiative (for faster movement and possibly Dodge bonus) and melee skill (for actually hitting something with a polearm) are nice secondary stats when you’re hit with bad rolls on the main ones (in general never pick up a roll of 1, and pick a “secondary” roll of 3 over a “primary” of 2).
    In order to make them effective you need them to come from a decent background (poacher/hunter are a good start, sellsword is optimal) and have as least 2 stars in ranged skill (you want them to hit at least 80 in that).

    Perk-wise it’s all about pumping out the hurt, and in a hurry. My absolute mainstays are:

    1. Bow Mastery – essential for out-sniping goblins and other rangers
    2. Berserk – you’ll be getting a lot of kills later on as with decent skill you can easily pick the softest targets
    3. Killing Frenzy – great synergy with above for a snowball effect
    4. Crippling Strikes – for softening up scary targets (*cough* orc warriors *cough*) that you can’t reliably kill before they reach your line. The injuries are rather random and range from “mildly annoying” to “absolutely crippling” but either way they stack and add up quickly
    5. Fearsome – absolutely amazing when facing tightly-packed living targets (sadly useless against undead) – their whole formation can scatter before they even close the distance between your lines
    6. Fast Adaptation – for dueling with other archers and gaining something even from missed attacks
    7. Quick Hands – mandatory for using a 2-hander effectively as otherwise you waste a whole turn while switching weapons
    8. Footwork – with focus on ranged combat/defense and light armor you are dead meat in melee, if anyone puts you there (that damned orc warriors again) you need to get out ASAP

    The rest is not as crucial and more debatable IMO, here’s my opinion:

    1. Bullseye – used to be OP and pretty much mandatory, now it’s not really crucial – the bonus is rather small and with smart targeting/waiting not needed all that often
    2. Steel Brow – a potential life-saver, but with a good build and defenvise perks (see below) headshots are very unlikely to occur at all. You gotta ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky?
    3. Anticipation/Dodge – mostly taken so you can avoid getting sniped on turn 1, their usefulness depends on how fast you can take out the opposing rangers, and what are your stats. If you have at least 20-30 base (as in, not factoring any equipment in) ranged defense and a decent amount of both HP and armor Anticipation is sexier; if your ranged def is lacking but you’ve got around a 100 initiative at the start of each battle Dodge will serve you better. Never take both at once, you need those perk points elsewhere
    4. Crossbow Mastery – crossbows are really good regardless of the perk, and it doesn’t add anything special (unlike the bow mastery). Take it if you’re going for the “war” endgame crisis or plan to hunt tin cans on a regular basis
    5. Head Hunter – can get you a spectacular 1-shot-kill but also hinder you when the previously undamaged helmet stops a shot that would otherwise kill an armorless enemy. I skip it on my latest builds
    6. Pathfinder – potentially useful for getting to an advantageous position, loses value if you mostly stay put – a matter of your preferred tactic. I skip it
    7. Bags and Belts – currently rather weak, at any rate not much needed – at the beginning 20 arrows will last you entire fight, later on when you run out you can just switch to a polearm (you kill important targets hanging out in the back first). Skip it hard.
    8. Executioner – nice synergy with Crippling Strikes is undeniable but 20% is just not worth a perk point when competing options are so much better. Viable if you wanna go full “glass cannon” mode
    9. Axe Mastery – a potentially nice addition if you use a poleaxe often, but your melee-oriented bros have ways of dealing with shields, so just stick to what you do best – turning enemies into pincushions. Skip.
    10. Polearm Mastery – come hell and high water, I’ll still skip it hard. Hell, I skip it on dedicated polearm users, that’s how useless that perk is.

    I’ll come back later to elaborate on “flankers” and ranged combat tactics. Hope the above helps you already.

    #20776
    MGL
    Participant

    Often when i start levelling up a new archer, or in the earlygame for that matter, i often find it a bit challenging keeping them alive. That is mostly due to their low ranged defense making them an instant high priority target for all enemy marksmen, and their low level meaning i cant really equip them with too much armor due to fatigue. So “cuddling” them for a while, if you have found a good trait/background bro, is smart.

    I go Nine-Lives on the first tier (unless im for some reason leveling an archer who starts out with under 50 in ranged, which i rarely do, but then i would go fast adaption.), I literally cant count who many times my 80+ ranged attack bro on current save has had his nine lives triggered and gotten away. I a duel with and archer it is invaluable for survival. It also affords you one more turn if an orc warrior or something gets in melee with you, for rotation or something (later i get footwork though)

    On the second tier i always go Gifted. I know there is some debate on this, but there isnt any in my head. I get max rolls (3-4) on ranged attack, ranged defense and fatigue, what more can a guy ask for?

    On the third tier I go anticipation, survivalbility is the priority with my perk selections. When you start getting them up to 70 ranged attack you will be hitting more then you are missing, so its about being able to stick it out and keep harrowing those arrows.

    On the fourth tier i go Bow mastery, i have very rarely used crossbow, only after i get a crossbow from and overseer or an heavy crossbow i might consider it.

    On the fifth tier i go Footwork. Its freaking great, getting engaged in melee is no longer the hassle it once was. Get a melee bro to surrond the guy, use footwork one tile away fire off a quickshot.

    On the sixth tier I go Berserk. More actionpoints, Especially handy when fighting wiedergangers or orc young etc.

    On the sixth tier I go Killing frenzy, however this is not a high priority in my book, i usually go back and pick and another perk from tier 5 Overwhelm or Lonewolf.

    On my stat level ups. I am quite consistent in picking ranged attack, ranged defense and fatigue. Unless I am going hybrid, then i usually level up melee attack at the expense of fatigue (depending on the base fatigue though, if under ca 110 then i will have to sacrifice some ranged defense). Also if I am going an dodge build i might level up some initiative, this has nice synergy with going overwhelm later in the build.

    #20780
    mrbunnyban
    Participant

    Do note that after some recent changes it’s quite safe to shoot directly from behind your brother’s back at someone who is fighting him in melee, so it’s theoretically possible to go full-on range combat and forego melee completely.

    What, really? You can no longer hit your bros if you try that?

    #20781
    Mike
    Participant

    Do note that after some recent changes it’s quite safe to shoot directly from behind your brother’s back at someone who is fighting him in melee, so it’s theoretically possible to go full-on range combat and forego melee completely.

    What, really? You can no longer hit your bros if you try that?

    “Directly” as in “you are hugging the back of your bro and shooting someone who is standing directly front of him (in melee range)” – can’t be 100% certain but I have yet to hit one of my bros this way. If you are not “hugging” them (your archers is 2 or more tiles away) they count as being in the line of fire, as always (the red shield icon will show) and you’re likely to hurt them.
    It makes it possible to keep shooting into melee of 1st line if your archer is standing in 2nd line.

    #20789
    mrbunnyban
    Participant

    Do note that after some recent changes it’s quite safe to shoot directly from behind your brother’s back at someone who is fighting him in melee, so it’s theoretically possible to go full-on range combat and forego melee completely.

    What, really? You can no longer hit your bros if you try that?

    “Directly” as in “you are hugging the back of your bro and shooting someone who is standing directly front of him (in melee range)” – can’t be 100% certain but I have yet to hit one of my bros this way. If you are not “hugging” them (your archers is 2 or more tiles away) they count as being in the line of fire, as always (the red shield icon will show) and you’re likely to hurt them.
    It makes it possible to keep shooting into melee of 1st line if your archer is standing in 2nd line.

    The red shield icon is gone??? Think that makes it pretty clear. What an interesting change to the game!

    Edit: Wait, just to confirm, red shield icon is gone and you receive no penalty to hit the enemy?

    #20831
    Namespace
    Participant

    Hey!

    @Mike
    nice stuff! Seems like you put a lot of work into that strategy. You should make some youtube videos and explain in detail!

    @OP: you will see that everyone builds their archers differently as it is just preference, so here is what I run:
    4 dedicated Archers for most battles. Built to overwhelm and never die. No hybrid (not dedicated anyways). The reason for this is that Enemy archers used to be insanely strong a few updates ago, they seem to be weaker now so maybe I am going overkill on the defensive perks.

    Absolutely mandatory perks are
    1. Bow Mastery and 2. Berserk. Berserk is pretty much the best perk in the game imo, I use it on every single trooper I have. And
    3. Footworks. We don’t have enough attribute points to spec heavily into melee defense and this guy is a lifesaver especially against orcs.
    the rest is pretty much optional and you can experiment with builds.

    Recommended perks are
    4. Pathfinder, I also use this on every trooper I have simply becasue otherwise I would be utterly screwed in swamps, forests, snow etc.
    5. Anticipation: The best defensive perk against enemy archers provided you have decent base ranged def like 15-30.
    6. Recover. Another perk I use on almost all my characters. It is very nice in long battles and helps restore initiative as well.
    7. Bullseye doubles your accuracy against people behind cover. Very useful to snipe necromancers and enemy archers and goblin overseers/shamans. Also helps with destroying armor of ancient legionaire pikers. I tried to run without this perk in my current playthrough and ended up taking it around lv6 or 7 anyways because I had such a hard time sniping enemy archers.

    The rest is very situational.
    I am also using 8. Overwhelm. Very black and white perk. Amazing perk against slow enemies like Wiedergangers, Legionaires, Hedge Knights, Orcs. Maybe also against noble houses – have only had one encounter with them very early where nobody had this perk. Utterly pointless against fast enemies because It doesn’t seem possible to get initiative up high enough to be faster than brigand marksmen, goblins, direwolves.
    9. Steel brow I am using because it has been recommended to me by sarissofoi. Helps with not getting literally oneshot by a lucky headshot. Maybe not necessary if you have high HP coupled with named head armor or eagle eye and head armor.
    10. Dodge – very strong early game perk and also adds melee defense. Maybe not necessary if your guy will end up with 30-40 ranged defense and 10+ melee def. On my latest recruit with ranged def** I will try and give him nimble or killing frenzy instead.

    Some other perks I guess should be discussed:
    Killing Frenzy: Great perk for extra damage. I will probably get back to using this once I figure out which other perk to drop for it :)
    Fast adaption: great perk for early trash guys, not so good if you get hunters who will end up with 90-105 ranged skill dependent on starting value and talents.
    Crippling strikes I have never been a fan of. Usually enemies die fast enough so wounds are just a bonus. Warbows don’t really have enough armor penetration.
    Bags and Belts seems kind of weak right now, better on hybrid builds. Quick hands also good on hybrids, not really necessary for pure archers. Gifted is good for grunts without talent but I am not using this perk anymore 3 veteran levels are not much to trade for an extra perk point imo.
    Nimble – haven’t tried on archers yet but I imagine it will be better than dodge in the late-game.
    Fearsome: It’s a great perk but I simply don’t have enough point left over.
    Brawny: have used before and decided to drop it.

    Crossbows are great in the early game because they are more accurate. I also like using Spiked Impalers against fully grown ghouls and knock them back to avoid them eating one of my brothers. Ultimately they can use heavy armor but their damage output is just so much lower than Archers so I only use them when levelling new recruits I don’t want to die so they get scale armor and a crossbow and helmet.

    Anyways in my current playthrough on Expert Iron man day140 I only lost one archer on day 31 who got 2-shot by a Necrosavant.
    Also: Poachers and Bowyer background have not ever yielded a good archer for me. Even a hunter without any talent or sellsword, squire with talents turn out better for me.

    #20832
    Namespace
    Participant

    Edit: Wait, just to confirm, red shield icon is gone and you receive no penalty to hit the enemy?

    Yeah, you can basically use Archers instead of polearm users now.

    #20834
    mrbunnyban
    Participant

    Edit: Wait, just to confirm, red shield icon is gone and you receive no penalty to hit the enemy?

    Yeah, you can basically use Archers instead of polearm users now.

    Wow, thank you Mike and namespace for the info. That is really very interesting new info. I want to reconsider my archer builds now haha

    #20898
    Danubian
    Participant

    First: dedicated archer is a pointless thing, because there are enemies in game that are nearly immune to ranged damage and there are enemies that will slaughter back line characters.

    Second: As soon as i am able, i tend to start recruiting backgrounds with both high melee and at least ~50 ranged skill at level 1. Usually its raiders. As i start getting such characters, i pretty much start increasing the number of people who carry ranged weapons as secondary. So ultimately i end up with 12 people who can fire a bolt or 2 worth of crossbow bolts (usually crossbows) in order to soften up enemies. Sometimes ill keep 2 bowmen to pick off enemy ranged units.

    When it comes to second line people (6 in front 6 in the back) they tend to be primarily armed with 2 handed weapons with 2 reach (usually great axe or whatever its called nowdays). As secondary, if their ranged is at least 50, i give them either a crossbow or a bow. Their use is rather obvious; start unloading damage at range and keep doing that until your melee weapon is needed.

    The second line people usually wear lighter armors (specially early on) because they dont really get engaged. It is crucial to get some levels and that skill that allow you to walk out of enemy’s range (whatever its called i forgot) before you start fighting things like Orc Warriors that can push your people back and reach the second line people.

    #20899
    nope100500
    Participant

    First: dedicated archer is a pointless thing, because there are enemies in game that are nearly immune to ranged damage and there are enemies that will slaughter back line characters.

    That’s exactly why archers should be dedicated. Their only weakness are ancient undead (especially necrosavants). I just swap them out for dedicated melee from reserve instead of bringing half-assed hybrids into such fights.

    On a related note, is it correct that “unknown” enemies in ruins are never ancient undead? Because that’s my observation so far.

    Second: As soon as i am able, i tend to start recruiting backgrounds with both high melee and at least ~50 ranged skill at level 1. Usually its raiders. As i start getting such characters, i pretty much start increasing the number of people who carry ranged weapons as secondary. So ultimately i end up with 12 people who can fire a bolt or 2 worth of crossbow bolts (usually crossbows) in order to soften up enemies. Sometimes ill keep 2 bowmen to pick off enemy ranged units.

    I just advance my non-archers in tight shieldwall formation (while leaving some shielded newbies as cover for archers). This seems to drop enemy hit chances to 5% or near, as I often see fights without single ranged hit from enemy. And that is despite practically not leveling ranged def on non-archers.

    Trading hits with enemy using unskilled crossbows seems less attractive option to me… Unless it ensures that enemies always attack, maybe? (because they see ton of ranged weapons without knowing how bad are your guys at shooting)

    #20906
    Teslarod
    Participant

    From playing a couple hundred hours of Expert Ironman the results are a bit surprising but very clear.
    A dedicated Archer needs 3 things
    1. Defensive perks and stats, so he’ll actually live to see LVL 6+. Getting killed by the first couple Necrosavants or 2 lucky Crossbows will happen even despite that.
    2. secondary utility, so he won’t be useless against Ancient Undead.
    3. Damage Output.

    The mortality rates of my archers are insane. 10+ Wolfriders, Necrosavants are bad enough. But what they really die to most often are just regular Bandit Marksmen and Goblin Archers. Archers don’t wear shields and are mostly limited to light armour and helmets, so they are easy targets unless you get them to 40+ ranged defense. Stats are mostly Range Attack, Range Defense and Fatigue, if you get a +1 for either Attack or Defense take the best roll out of Melee Attack, Hitpoints and Resolve. Perks:
    Tier1 I’m always taking Colossus since it puts you from 2-3 clean arrow/crossbow hits away from death to 3-4 right away.
    Tier2 is Gifted to get the extra Ranged Attack, Ranged Defense and Fatigue.
    Tier3 goes to Anticipation, now your guy can comfortably outshoot Bandits.
    Tier4 is Bowmastery for Fatigue management and to outshoot/match Bandits in Range
    Tier5 Footwork to get away from Melee

    Note: Necrosavants will still kill those guys in 3 hits and there is nothing you can do about it other than to hide them in the middle of your formation.

    From there its up to what you prefer, you now have an Archer that won’t just be doomed to die sooner or later and 5 more available Perks to build from.
    My personal favorite is Quick Hands, Axe mastery, Killing Frenzy, Berserk and Fearsome/Headhunter. I prefer my Archers with Long Axes and Axe Mastery so they can really speed up getting rid of Nobles, Ancient Undead, Bandit Raiders and Orcs even without any melee skill after running out of Ammo.

    On Expert you run into 5+ Bandit Marksmen with Longbows and Crossbows or even more Goblin Archers on a regular basis. The only way to get through that more or less unscathed is either running 12 guys with 400+ combined armour and Battleforged straight into melee or simply putting up a shield wall and outshooting them until they decide to charge you. The game gets really hard if you try to run into someone sitting back having more archers than you, even more if the terrain isn’t in your favor. Never again am I fighting 20+ Goblins in a swamp.

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