Guide to M&B Warband skills and builds

Core Stats

M&B: Warband has four core stats, which carry their own effects and also serve as skill caps.

A skill can be raised up to 1/3rd of the base stats value, for example a character with 18 STR can reach 6 in Power Strike, Ironflesh and Power Draw.

Strength - Governs how heavy equipment your character can equip & each point in STR raises your maximum Health by 1.

Strength related skills are Ironflesh, Power Strike, Power Throw & Power Draw.

- Strength is obviously a main stat for any fighter character, allowing them to wear heavier equipment, take more hits and strike harder.

-Even the less hardier support characters may want to dip points into Strength just to improve their survivability via Health and Armor.

- Fighters should aim for high STR (20+), others should aim for 9-12.

Agility - Governs on-foot movement speed and initial weapon points.

Agility related skills are Weapon Master, Shield, Athletics, Riding, Horse Archery & Looting.

Agility is a weird one. Best way to describe it is "secondary Fighter stat" since Agility governs mainly personal skills.

- Weapon Master gives a head start for fighters (weapon skills improve faster), which is especially important for archer characters as it has big impact on their accuracy.

- Shield is a good secondary skill for anyone, faster blocking and better protection vs arrows are worthwhile benefits for anyone.

- Athletics is "All or nothing" type of deal, you either focus on it or skip it entirely. An athletic & lightly armored spearman can engage multiple foes at the same time thanks to quick footwork, but AI may not be smart enough to capitalize this properly.

- The heaviest horses require 4 pts in Riding skill. Having a character mounted improves party's movement speed on the map, making this a "one point wonder" for anyone.

Ideal investment in Agility really comes down to personal preference. Leaving it at 6-9 range and minor dipping in Shield and Weapon Master is fine, but if you want to make a beastly combatant you're looking at 15-18 range, or higher.

Ingelligence - Whenever you raise INT, you instantly gain one skill point.

Intelligence related skills are Trainer, Tracker, Tactics, Path-Finding, Spotting, Inventory Management, Wound Treatment, Surgery, First Aid, Engineer & Persuasion.

Phew, that's a LOT of skills!

INT skills are mostly Party related skills and as such, INT is obvious main stat for characters who strive at support roles. I won't delve too deeply into these skills yet, but I'll say you're gonna need multiple INT-characters to supplement all the skills.

Charisma - Each pt in Charisma raises party size by one.

Charisma related skills are Prisoner Management, Leadership & Trade.

And here we have the "dump stat" of the game. Well okay, it's not useless by any means, but it's definitely not worth a major invesment.

Having your main char investing 1-3 pts into PM and Leadership is beneficial if your stats allow it, but don't pump CHA at the expense of other stats. You'll regret it.

STR Skills

Following descriptions are taken from M&B Wiki.

Ironflesh - Increases hit points by 2. Maximum of 20 additional hit points.

Verdict: Meh *

Power Strike - Increases melee damage by 8%. Maximum of 80% more damage.

Verdict: Great for fighters, Useful for support roles.

Power Throw - Increases throwing damage by 10%. Some thrown weapons require a few points in Power Throw to use (e.g. axes, javelins). Maximum of 100% more damage

Verdict: Meh **

Power Draw - More powerful bows have a minimum Power Draw requirement to use. Power Draw also adds 14% to each hit with the bow, until four levels beyond the bow’s minimum Power Draw requirement; for example, if the bow’s Power Draw requirement is 2, then a skill level of 2 will add 28%, while a skill level of 6 will add 84%, while any level beyond 6 will still add 84%.

Finally, higher Power Draw makes powerful bows easier to use by improving your accuracy and the time you can keep your aim steady while the bow is drawn.

Verdict: Must-have for dedicated archers, otherwise Useless.

* Ironflesh and Power Throw are the least useful skills on the list. You're already gaining Health from raising STR stat, getting two more per skill point isn't worthwhile. Armor and blocking are your main methods of damage mitigation, extra 20 HP won't make a difference against high Power Strike.

** Power Throw has a niche role for frontliners (see Nord Huscarls), but unfortunately most throwing weapons have very low stack sizes, which diminishes their usefulness greatly.

AGI Skills

Weapon Master - Each skill level adds 40 points (starting from 60) to your weapon proficiency limits. Beyond this limit, you cannot increase weapon proficiencies by investing points into them. Weapon proficiencies can also be increased with practice, even beyond the limit set by Weapon Mastery, but the rate of increase will slow down as you get further from the limit.

Useful at 1-3 pt range, but once past 220+ proficiency you won't see much of an impact in weapon speed or accuracy.

Verdict: Passable for archers.

Shield - Each point reduces the damage to your shield takes when blocking a hit by 8%. It also increases your shield’s effective size versus ranged attacks and improves how quickly you can block with a shield. Extremely high shield skill may cause you to catch arrows that would have otherwise missed you and defend others standing close to you from arrow fire. Maximum of 80% damage reduction.

A skilled shield wielder can soak up LOTS of arrows, making this an appealing choice for modest-high AGI characters. Since sword&shield style often uses short-ranged weapon, consider pairing Shield with Athletics.

Verdict: Great for dedicated s&s fighters, Okay for support roles

Athletics - Increases your base running speed, either making a lightly encumbered character run faster than normal, or letting a heavily encumbered character move at normal speed. This skill also improves your overland speed on the map if you are not mounted. Encumberance has a much larger effect than this skill is able to overcome at higher weight levels, meaning completely unarmored Looters can still outrun a heavily armed and armored man or woman on foot even if he or she has 10 points in this skill.

IMHO this is an often overlooked skill "because horses are faster". The description is bit misleading, Athletics raises your base movement speed (not just running speed), making this a sound skill for melee enthusiastics: A lightly armored combatant can take on a mountain of metal (see Rhodok Sergeants) when they can outmaneuver them and poke 'em with a two-hander.

Also great in situations where you're in danger of getting surrounded.

Still, skill focused builds can ignore this in favor of higher priority skills.

Verdict: Great for fighters, otherwise Okay (but low priority)

Riding - All horses (except the arena mount) have a minimum riding requirement; this skill also increases your speed and agility while sitting astride a steed, but only up to a certain point. Even at 10, this skill will not allow a Sumpter Horse to outrun a Courser or a War Horse to outmaneuver a Sarranid Horse. This skill also improves your overland speed on the map if you are mounted on a horse. Couched lance damage is directly affected by this skill, provided the horse ridden is actually fast enough to allow for it. Acceleration and deceleration are also benefitted by this skill, allowing a horse to reach top speed or stop in less than three steps at higher levels.

Everyone should grab 1 pt in order to benefit from overland speed bonus, reaching 4 pts lets you ride War Horses but any higher than that should be reserved for horse enthusiastics only (either lancers or horse archers).

Verdict: Useful for anyone, Mandatory for horse enthusiastics

Horse Archery - Reduces accuracy and damage penalties for using a ranged weapon from a moving horse. Note that no penalties are applied if you are mounted but not moving.

This one's easy: Are you playing as horse archer? If yes, raise this to 6 but not higher. If not, skip this entirely.

Verdict: Mandatory for horse archers, otherwise Useless.

Looting - Increases amount looted at villages (ex. Cows) and after battles by 10%, and decreases the time needed to loot a village.

Sounds great in theory, but in reality there are much better ways to make profit. Looting villages can provide big jackpots early on, but angering any faction and their lords early on is not a good idea.

Verdict: Useless, unless you're role playing a bandit leader.

INT Skills

Trainer - At midnight of each day, a hero with the Trainer skill adds experience to every other party member of a lower level than himself. This includes the Player and normal soldiers (as appropriate for their Character Sheet level, not tier). Higher ranks in Training add more experience to each eligible party member. If multiple party members have the skill and are higher level, the effects stack for each eligible party member.

Verdict: Must-have for everyone. I'm not joking, this skill is sooo good!

While fighters usually won't have the INT to max this, it's still a great way to alleviate the level differences between heroes (fighter companions tend to be several levels ahead of Support companions).

Tracking - A single point in Tracking allows you to see tracks left by other parties on the world map. Additional points let you spot tracks from a greater distance and make each track reveal more information as well as last longer before fading.

Verdict: Useful up to 3 pts, but you'll gain nothing from 3+ Tracking.

Tactics - Every two levels of this skill increases your starting battle advantage by 1. Battle advantage determines how many soldiers you can have on the battlefield at the start of a battle and how large your reinforcements will be. This skill will also let you retreat from a battle with fewer casualties.

Verdict: Very useful, especially later on when your party size has swelled up to 80+.

Path-finding - Increases Party speed on the map by 3%.

Spotting - Increases sight on the map by 10% per level.

Verdict: Mandatory skills for a Scout. Without a Scout companion, you'll have much tougher time spotting and chasing/retreating hostile groups.

Inventory Management - Increases Inventory capacity by 6 per level.

Verdict: Meh

Wound Treatment - Each point adds 20% to your party’s healing speed; it also allows crippled horses to be healed automatically if they are in your inventory. Crippled horses will still take time to heal however, so patience is necessary.

Surgery - Each point adds a 4% chance that a party member, when struck down, will be knocked unconscious instead of dying. This chance is added to a base chance of 25%. Also, the chance applies only to regular troops, since heroes can't be killed.

Verdict: Both skills are Mandatory for a Doctor. They're so good you may even wanna have two Doctors in same party as Party skills stack up to 14 pts, which translates 80% healing speed and 16% chance to go unconscious (when compared to 10 pts).

First Aid - Each point will allow your hero characters to regain 5% of the health they’ve lost during a particular skirmish or battle. Note that this is added to a base rate of 10%. First Aid cannot be triggered consecutively by entering multiple small battles in a row within less than a minute.

Verdict: Least useful skill from "Doctor trio", you can hold this off until later. Meh

Engineer - This is used to determine how quickly you can build siege machinery. It also affects the speed and cost at which improvements can be built at a fief which you own.

Verdict: Practically useless early on, but if/when you start forging your own faction this skill becomes Very Useful. Cutting down siege times is the biggest pro this skill carries.

Persuasion - Increases the chance that other people will accept your point of view. This lowers the cost of the optional bribe required for successful persuasion, increases the chance of prisoners accepting to join your army by 4%, and increases the chance of routed enemies surrendering when offered the choice of capture or death.

Verdict: Handy if you have skill points to spare, this is most useful when you're trying to convince lords to join your faction (you can succeed without this skill, but you may need better relationship with the said lord). You don't need to max this out, but feel free to invest 2-4 pts into this if it suits you.

CHA Skills

Prisoner Management - Increases maximum number of prisoners by 5. This skill also reduces the chance of prisoners escaping from your party once captured. An incredible profit can be turned out after every battle with the help of this skill.

Verdict: Useful for your main character, even at modest 1-2 pt dip you can start generating decent income by selling captured foes into slavery.

Leadership - Increases maximum number of troops by 5, decreases troop wages by 5%, increases party morale by 5% and decreases the chance that a recruited prisoner escapes by 5%. Note that the extra morale does not cover group size you incur while being at the cap.

Verdict: Only Very Useful CHA skill, this is worth a modest 2-4 pt investment if you're having trouble with party size or morale.

Trade - Decreases trade penalty by 5%. When using assess local prices, it also informs of one more possible profit opportunity by skill level.

Verdict: I wouldn't have my main character invest into this, but since it's a Party skill you can have a companion invest into this (Marnid comes with 3 pts in Trade IIRC). Handy in the early game, but starts losing value toward mid-game.

Bows Or Crossbows?

This age old debate keeps popping up everywhere I look, so let's get this out of the way quickly.

Bows + Power Draw approach is arguably the leaner & meaner killing machine, but requires hefty investment to make it fully bloom.

In other words, you need to decide from the get-go whether you want Character X (be if your main char or a companion) to become an Archer or not.

Crossbows only require STR, their damage/performance is not tied to anything else but weapon skill.

This makes it a perfect pick for Support character, a ranged weapon keeps them out of the fray and they can still provide some covering fire.

In short: Archer fighters invest in Power Draw, everyone else should just stick with crossbows.

Example Builds For Companions

Fighters, footman

Archer is a fighter who specializes into bows and high Power Draw. When sufficiently geared and leveled, their killcount is unparalled. Cavalry troops might reach them, make sure you give them a melee weapon & Power Strike to fend them off.

Personally I prefer gearing them with bow, two stacks of ammo and a two-hander melee weapon. Bows deplete ammo rapidly, therefore two stacks feels sensible choice.

Troop counterpart: Vaegir Marksman

Sword&Shield, as the name implies, is a frontliner who focuses on landing strong hits and defending with a shield. Power Strike, Shield and Athletic should be their main priorities, but if you have points to spare you can try adding Power Throw to the mix.

Troop counterpart: Nord Huscarl

Agile Berserker wields a big weapon (either a polearm or 2handed sword/mace/axe) and light armor, accompanied with high Power Strike, Athletic and Weapon Master. He's not a tanky as s&s warrior, but he makes up for it with nimble footwork and quick swings.

Troop counterpart: Vaegir Guardsman (kinda)

Fighters, cavalry

Heavy cavalryman Is basically a mounted S&S troop, only swapping out Athletic for Riding. Cavalrymen can utilize lances, but it may be a better idea to use a spear instead (less range, but better in prolongued melee fights).

Troop counterpart: Swadian Knight

Shocktroop cavalryman is basically a mounted Agile Berserker, trading a shield for a barchide to perform ride-by sweeping attacks. More susceptible to arrow fire, but quicker to chase down stragglers than H. cavalryman.

Troop counterpart: Vaegir Knight

Support characters in general spend most their time improving INT, leaving little room for combat related skills. That why I often choose to give them heavy armor, shield and a one-hander & crossbow. With modest investment in STR, Power Strike and Shield, a support character can fend off Tier 1-3 troops adequately (long as they don't get overwhelmed).

Troop counterpart: Rhodok Sharpshooter


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