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Detailed Combat FAQ (weiming2)

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  [1] Intro

  [2] Battle Skills
      -Horse Archery
      -Mounted Combat
      -Infantry Combat (Battles)
      -Infantry Combat (Sieges)
      -Additional Notes/Advanced Tactics
  [3] Final Thoughts

  [4] Weapon Master Addendum (what's up with weapon skills anyway?)


  The game is called "Mount" and "Blade" for a reason, besides some mods which have attempted to re-balance this, the game is designed to favor a mounted , heavily armed fighter with a big knife or other killing tool whisking by some poor sod on the ground and cutting him in half (wouldn't that be cool?), or whacking another mounted foe about the head 'till he slides out of the saddle dead or unconscious.  This is the best way to survive your early battles, you really can't go wrong with lots of armor, a good horse and a lance (which you are couching, by not pressing the attack button and ramming the enemy).

  First of all, depending on your specific starting stats, your character SUCKS to various degrees at fighting when the game starts.  Seriously, every starting character is a terrible fighter.  Go to the training ground and fight through the battles 'till you beat everyone.  No matter how many times you lose, keep at it until you can beat those guys consistently, this will teach you a thousand little things  you need to know about the unique mechanics of the game.

  The next step is to go to the nearest town and get into the arena, fight and fight until you can consistently kill around 30 of the enemies with any weapon, and until all your main weapon skills are at LEAST 120 or so, put a point or two into weapon master skill for this, so that your skills go up faster.  You can see the detailed info on how weapon master works at the end of this post, or skip to it now if you like.  You have the added bonus of earning money and experience, which you sorely need to improve those pathetic battle skills and buy some decent armor and a reliable weapon.  As a side note, I recommend you find a good Cutting weapon for weaker enemies and a good BLUDGEONING weapon with decent range and speed (don't worry about the damage) for tougher armored opponents and sieges.

Bludgeoning reduces the affect of an opponents armour by 25%. Piercing reduces the effect of armour by 50%. The other advantage of bludgeoning however is that it renders opponents unconscious rather than killed, allowing a character with prisoner management to take advantage of his downed opponents. Several quests obtained from lords also require you KO one or more NPC's rather than kill them, so a bludgeoning weapon is always nice to have.
Piercing has no real secondary advantage beyond the armour penetration. However, many weapons allow you to do piercing or cutting depending on the strike, usually slashes for cutting and thrusts for piercing. For ranged (thrown or archery) characters utilising one of these weapons lets you tailor your attacks to the opponent without sacrificing a weapon slot which could be used for ammunition.

  Battle Skills:

  Horse archery:

  The concept: I think this is the most advanced fighting style in the game, but coupled with a good melee weapon it is also the most flexible and reliable, I'm not scared of ANYTHING on a good fast horse with a good bow and some arrows.

  You'll want a horse archery skill of 5 or 6 (no more), you should have a power draw of at least 5 and a good bow before you use HA as an attack method, otherwise you just do too little damage.  I played through the first half of my game with a riding of 3, you really want a horse with speed at or around at least 40, early on speed is more important than HP/Charge damage.  I focus on having more arrows and ignore damage bonuses until I get good, or have such a high Powerdraw that I don't need to use all my arrows before I switch to smaller bags of  arrows with better damage bonuses.

  In general, there are four main ways to kill a guy on a horse with a bow: in order of difficulty starting with the easiest they are:

  (1)The over the shoulder (beginner): Get an infantry enemy to follow you on your horse, perhaps after a failed attempt to cut him down, move off slightly to his right and slow your horse down, aim over your left shoulder and shoot him.  Hit the head for more damage, aim at the feet if he/she has a shield.
      *Do not let the enemy get directly behind you, sometimes you can still shoot back there but your reticule vanishes and it's hard to be accurate.
      *Do not let the enemy get too close.  Slow down, but keep your horse at a walk, beware of going uphill or downhill, if you go uphill your horse will immediately slow down,  and you'll be caught, if you go downhill your horse does not automatically speed up, but the guy will suddenly start running really fast, and you'll be caught.

  (2)The over the shoulder (advanced): Those guys on horses with shields and lances/polearms are a B***ch early in the game, if one gets behind you on a horse, move over to his right, look back and draw your bow, slow down a little or wait for him to get in attack range, he will draw back for a really weak attack, shoot him. Preferably in the face.
      *Do not let the enemy switch to your right side, you can't shoot back there, try to remain aware of the terrain: trees, rivers, hills, and the battlefield boundary, all of these  will seriously ruin your day if you ram into them at high speed.  Later, this will become like a 6th sense for you.

  (3)The over the horse neck:  Charge an infantry unit, set your horse up to pass by just a little bit on his right, shoot directly forward and down a little bit  as you get close to the guy, done properly you will hit him square with your arrow, if you like you can slow down and add a begginner "over the shoulder" as a parting gift.
      *If the guy notices you too early, break off your attack or just knock him down with your horse instead, especially if he has a spear or polearm.

  (4)Hanging in the saddle: The toughest maneuver: position your horse behind and  to the right of a mounted troop and try to match speed, shoot slightly up and slightly in front of where you want your arrow to go, a good guide is to treat the left edge of the targeting reticule as the center, this varies depending on how much the target is in front of you or to the left of you.  Better yet, shoot for the center back, you get lower damage but two or three arrows will do him in.
        *Do not attempt to shoot enemies directly to your left, it's very hard, slow down or speed up a bit and get more of an angle on it.

  (5)Bonus: The dirty b*stard: If you honestly just find yourself sucking, or you're just so pissed off that that Jatu Warlord is carving up your infantry like a Christmas ham, aim a little lower and shoot his horse out from under him, it's a much bigger target and chances are you already hit it a couple of times while trying to hit the rider, now your infantry will totally maim him, or you can slow down and go in for a "bump'n'slash" from behind (more on the "bump'n'slash" later).

Also note that the penalties for being mounted only apply when the horse is in motion. Until you obtain five or six horse archery you may find it easier to use the horse as a taxi rather than a weapons platform - use the horse to get you into position and then bring it to a halt before you start shooting. When the enemy begin to close, gallop off to a new position. Rinse and repeat

  My biggest mistake with horse archery was trying to aim at everything, don't.  Hold your reticule still and use the motion of your horse or the enemy to bring your shot into line.  I don't know how much sense that makes like, if a guy is galloping slightly faster than you, aim in front of him and let his speed carry him into your reticule, I've found this is way more effective than trying to aim AT him.  Oh and, practice practice practice, you will get better at this, then you'll wonder how you ever played the game before.

  The mounted archer is almost invincible, if a little slow to kill and difficult to master, but your worst nightmare is of course, another mounted archer.  Learn the shooting arc from a horse, and always make sure to stay out of the shooting arc of the enemy and maneuver him into yours, this is quite easy to do as the AI almost always chooses the "over the shoulder", just move to the right a bit and execute a "hanging in the saddle".

  Mounted Combat:

  The concept: You'll be doing a lot of this, a LOT, so get these skills down early.

  These are the most effective ways to kill enemies while on a horse, again in increasing difficulty

  (1)The "Bump and Slash"(as Eogan calls it): After the swing/counter-swing this is the most patented move in the entire game.  While mounted, draw back your weapon on the right side and charge into a guy so your horse's right shoulder just grazes him, he will be dazed knocked back, let your weapon go and you will hit him for massive damage.
      *Get in too close and you'll just knock him down, doing only a fraction of the damage, depending on your speed and your horse's charging damage, you also run the risk of being hit yourself.
      *Stay out too far and you may miss with your weapon, aim as low as possible, as someone mentioned before, it's very easy to swing over the enemy's head.
      *Generally, it's not worth it to try this on the left side, it's just too hard to line up, even with a very long weapon.
      *I recommend a weapon of at least 90+ length, shorter weapons seem to have difficulty reaching the enemy from the horse.
      *Take your weapon speed into account, once you get much below 85 or so, you'll have to swing much earlier so that your weapon is in the middle of it's arc as you pass.

  (2)A surprise from behind:  This is only for mounted enemies, and only if you catch them while they're galloping slowly, or if you're faster than them.  Charge up behind on their left side and aim up, try to exaggerate it a little and your swing should catch them right across the back of the head.
      *Be ready, if you don't kill them, be ready for a second quick slash before you pull away.
      *A really good move is to decrease speed and while keeping your reticule high follow this up with a  couple overhead hits, works great for those enemies with lots of HP

  (3)The sass:  My personal favorite, every once in a while you come upon a mounted guy with a spear or a really sharp sword and you just don't want to get hit, set your horse parallel to his, just outside of his attack arc, and then guide your horse just a bit closer and back again, he  will swing every time, immediately move in and whack him once or twice, repeat if necessary.
      *This can take a little while, and your attention is to your right, beware of trees/hills/changes in the terrain, watch out for guys coming up on your left.

  (4)Mounted Murder:  The positioning is similar to the bump and slash, but it's for cavalry, preferably at the start of a battle, or when you're charging opposite to them as they run from an opponent, set yourself up to pass close on his right, cock your weapon to the right, aim up, up, waay up (honestly, it's really hard to swing OVER a mounted enemy's head, unless you're on a hill) and release your attack just as you pass, you will smash him right in the face, and he will usually die from the combined speed/force of your attack.
    *Do not attempt this against guys with polearms/spears, you'll get a spear in the gut and depending on your damage settings, YOU might die.
    *If you see  they have their shield/weapon in a defense position already, I'm afraid you have no choice but to (A) break it off and try another pass/do something else or (B) lower your swing and take a vicious slash at their horse, a  couple of those and you'll be fighting infantry, not cavalry.

  (5)Take care of those tailgaters:  This attack method is not really that great, it's difficult to do, and should really only be used if you're in distress, or just really need that mounted guy to die.  You actually get a really good arc on the attack for your rear RIGHT side, if an enemy is closing in, or you accidentally overshot a guy while trying "a surprise from behind", slow down, cock your weapon on the right and try to maneuver the guy close to your horse's rear, release your attack at the right time and he'll take quite a nice hit.
      *Know your weapon range, it's the key to pulling this off.

  Infantry combat: Battles

  I have to admit, this is my weakest area, but I think that's due more to the game than my skills, it's just really hard to fight effectively on foot why?  Because you get mobbed, and when you get mobbed, you just backpedal 'till your shield breaks, then you die.

  *The most important thing for fighting on foot in battle is: PICK your battles.
  *The second most important thing is to master your attacking skills.  Try not to block as often as you sidestep, if you have the presence of mind to try to fake ou the enemy with a feint (or fake attack), more power to you, I don't.  Usually the enemy will block your attack, immediately set yourself up for another attack but hold it until his attack is JUST about to start, and let loose.
  *Make your attacks more efficient, the end of each attack should lead smoothly into the beginning of another, this is a counter-swing, it becomes more and more effective as your weapon skill gets into the upper 200's and 300's, and it is vital for you to keep a stream of attacks coming so that the enemy is always on the defensive, not you.
  *Master the range of your weapon.  It may surprise you  just how far your weapon can reach, use this to your advantage as swings at an arm's length do much more damage than a swing chest to chest (just as they should).

  Master the above skills in the arena.

  Firstly, you will  be charging in on your horse, otherwise by the time you actually RUN over to the enemy, either they're all dead, or all of your guys are (unless you somehow manage to have no cavalry).  If you're planning  to fight on foot, charge in WITH your cavalry, not way out ahead of it, in fact, try to hit the enemy behind your cavalry, not in the first wave.  Depending on the number of the enemy, they will do one of two things:  be broken and scatter, or: cluster around one of your forces (usually a hero) who is stupid enough to actually stop his horse and try to go toe-to-toe with the infantry from the saddle (this happens way too much, and it should be fixed).  Lucky for you, this will play a big part in your success.

  Remember, you just won't survive on your own on foot, at this point you're way out ahead of your own infantry, they won't be arriving for another minute or so, so stick around those charging horses of your cavalry, and aim for small pockets of two or three guys who are ALREADY doing something.

  Lesson (1) Getting off your horse:

  The concept: There's a reason you're getting killed in the first 10 seconds of fighting on foot.

  Sounds silly right? But for most people, this is right where combat on foot starts to go wrong.[Edit]Once you have spotted a safe position from which to dismount (close to the enemy,but not so close that they can mob you before you dismount), charge to that position and hit Ctrl+J (thanks to Amroth for the reminder) to make your mount immediately stop and rear[/Edit].
              *Do not stop too close to the enemy, make sure the enemy is on ONE side, the opposite side of your horse.
              *If you have a shield, hold block throughout the dismount animation, you will block as normal.
              *If you do not have a shield, try to hit the block button as the enemy attacks, you will block most of their attacks as normal (for some reason).

  Later in the game, when you have a much better horse another good tactic is to break the enemy up, especially if it's an infantry line by swinging around to the side or behind the line and charging through it, doing some good damage and scattering the line, do this a couple of times to scatter the enemy, when you slow down to make another pass, dismount instead.

  Lesson (2) Engaging infantry:

  The concept: I know you want to be a hero and charge right in, don't.  Be a sly, dirty little  parasite, prey on the weak and take every opportunity to sneak attack your enemy, you'll live longer.

  There will probably be a couple of guys around your horse already, drop them.  If you do not have enough powerstrike and a good enough weapon to kill a guy in two or three good hits, you should not be fighting on foot yet.  Pick your next target by finding a guy who is haplessly trying to defend against a cavalry attack, try to hit him in the back of the head while running.

    If a lone enemy notices you, keep charging.  Most of the time lone enemies panic and do one of two things, they will make a thrusting or overhead attack at you while backing away, or they will charge you.  If they thrust or swing overhead, try to sidestep the attack and continue with your slash to the face, hitting people in the face/head while charging ahead is important.

  If he charges, then it's just a game of "Arena Chicken", wait for him to swing first, slow down a bit then continue your charge and kill him, or just wait and wait  'till you're almost up in his face and he starts his attack animation (actually just a fraction of a second before he starts), and kill him. Sometimes the guy still won't attack, even after you're pressing up against his shield, keep running forward and wait for him to start his attack, and kill him.  It's important to have a high weapon skill to get this to work, your swing must be faster than his. Perfect this in the arena.

  If you stop, block and then try to counter attack at close range, your attack will do very little damage.  For this reason, while on foot, keep moving forward, left, and right, and spin with your attacks to add extra speed.  If your speed bonus numbers are low or negative, there's something wrong with your attack style and it's time to go back to the arena for practice.

Sometimes a guy will be so "impressed" by your attack he'll fall to the ground, this is actually really annoying, as those few seconds that he's floundering around down there are wasted, allowing his  buddies to close in, and you actually can't kick him while he's down (don't know why). You should back up just half a step, look way down and slash at the back of his head JUST as he starts to get to his feet. Swing too early and your attack will fly harmlessly over his head, swing too late and he will pull of a miraculous move by which he blocks your attack with one hand (the wrong hand) while you are standing directly behind him.  Perfect this in the arena.  When they go down, always make sure they stay down.

  If your cavalry was really stupid and got stuck with like 10 guys around him, this is the perfect time to run up behind them and smack the back of some heads, the enemy almost never turns on you in this case, having said that:
    *Do not engage too many of the enemy.  You will see a funky animation where the enemy turns strangely or walks backward while in mid-swing or mid-animation as you get close to them, this means they have targeted you, be aware of where everyone is around you and don't get separated from your forces.
    *If you're doing this properly, you should find that you've eliminated most of the enemy and the battle has moved elsewhere, it's time go get back on your horse, note that you can begin turning, moving your horse as soon as the mounting animation begins.

  Lesson (3) Engaging Archers:

  The concept: Honestly, I just don't think archers are that dangerous, I almost feel sorry for them, but you should know how to deal with them, especially if there is more than one.

  You should not rely on your shield to protect you from archers, it's a waste of your shield's damage points and it doesn't work very well, the AI has improved and they WILL shoot your feet.  Instead, as the enemy is executing the arrow/bow draw animation walk directly towards him, try to wait 'till the last minute and dodge to the right (or left, if you swing that way) while walking forward, the arrow will whisk right over your shoulder.  Repeat.

  With more than one archer, try to position yourself  so that one the archers are standing in a line relative to you.  They cannot shoot through each other, and the ones behind the lead archer cannot hit you.  If there is a hill or crest or tree, or boulder, use this to your advantage, stay behind it for as long as possible.  As you draw near, even if an archer already has his bow drawn, he will cancel out of this animation to switch to his melee weapon (usually something crappy).  Drop him, but keep moving.

  Your goal is to get close enough to all the archers so that they all switch to melee weapons. Here is where you want to master the art of the "sidestep, attack, move, turn attack, sidestep, move".  Try to always be moving forward or to the side, if the enemy is behind you keep moving forward and sidestep a couple of times instead of turning around.

  *Really, the best way to take care of archers or lone infantry who  are just a little too far away, if you play the way I do, is to just pull out your own bow and shoot them in the nose bridge.  If you have mastered horse archery, shooting on foot is no challenge at all, and you can turn your attention to more pressing matters.  Do not be tempted to stand still too long while shooting on foot.

  If you are mounted, bob and weave, sway your horse from side to side as you charge archers, they may hit your horse, but they will almost never hit you.  It's best to just run over archers rather than trying a "bump'n'slash", as in this case you're setting yourself up for the archer to pull of a "Stand your ground" on YOU (what's a "stand your ground"? keep reading).  With  luck, you'll get the archer to switch to his melee weapon, or you can slow down for an "over the shoulder" an pick him off.

  Lesson (4) Engaging Cavalry:

  The concept: You should not be engaging cavalry on foot.

  You will usually be reminded of this fact as you're lining up the killing blow for some pathetic infantry fodder and you are unceremoniously knocked on your face from behind, trampled, and then smacked around by the same infantry guy who you were just about to kill.  If you do find yourself in this most embarrassing situation, run for the nearest tree, rock, or river, sidestep as the guy  gets just in range and aim for his horse.  Or, if you're really badass, stand just in front of the obstruction, sidestep at the last moment so he rams into it, and run around the back of his horse and carve him up, then take his horse  and get on it because...

  You should NOT be engaging cavalry on foot.

  If you're out in the middle of nowhere, which is often the case, and you're lucky enough to have a bow, I'm afraid you're going to have to "stand your ground", this gets easier with practice, but just get out your bow, stand on the enemy's right and put one between his eyes just as he gets in range.  It can actually be fun, especially after being knocked on your ass.

Actually cavalry are easy because the AI has no idea that you can strafe. Face the charging cavalry, ready your swing and simply sidestep and release as they are about to reach you. Time it right and the horse will carry on past you while the rider falls dead at your feet. Also note a spear or similar polearm thrust directly into the front of the horse will cause it to rear up

  Infantry Combat: Sieges

  The concept:  You cannot win this siege alone.  I know, you THINK you can, but you can't.  This is not (shudder) "Dynasty Warriors".  The key is: extending the life of your troops as much as possible, because they're going to win this siege for you, by being idiotic damage absorbers.  Also, I usually keep a set of heavier armor and a nice thick starting shield for sieges, and switch to them.

  Case (1) Those crappy little ramps from the old versions.

  They said they were building ladders, they lied.  Sometimes you get those crappy little ramps that lead to a really narrow little parapet, there's no room to stand and you often get knocked off.  The key here is: you have to be first up the ladder.  I know I just said you're not being the hero, but you MUST be first up the ladder.

  Use your shield if you like, but get up that ladder, don't focus too much on killing the guys at the top, the key is to get IN there.  If you can, jump over the enemy and get on the parapet behind them, you can now try to kill the guys in a circle around you, or drop down off the wall and circle around if you're trying to conserve HP, but get back up there and clear a  space to one side of the ramp so your other fighters can get through.

  When you get back up, try to take out that little nest of guys who are shooting your guys on the ladder, this is very important.

  The key to a successful siege is surface area,that is:  The number of your forces can stand shoulder to shoulder facing the enemy versus the number of enemy forces that can stand shoulder to shoulder facing you.  At the beginning of the siege it is 1:5 or 1:8 (the tiny opening at the top of the ramp), if you manage to kill all the guys on one side it is 1:2 or  3:5 (as your troops are now standing on the parapet).  If you can, try to work your forces down to that same archer's nest and get them to spread out.  This would be a great place to actually just hold the guys and kill them en masse, but that's not gonna happen because...

  All of your forces (and this is so stupid) are on a track through the castle, they will all follow the SAME track (instead of say...going in many different directions or jumping down off  the walls/stairs and SPREADING OUT!), your task is to stay with them, and to stay at the front CORNER of the column of your forces.  The idea is, the two groups of enemies in the siege are just wildly hacking away at each other, it's just a numbers game at this point, whoever has more numbers will win and chances are, you're outnumbered.

  The key is, when the enemy runs up, if you're just at the corner, they will attack your guys and not you, this is the perfect time to whack them in the back of the head.  They should fall in a hit or two, especially with the additional damage they are receiving from your forces.  Keep this up, and keep yourself at the right position.  Too far ahead and you become a target, and you will die.  Too far back and your guys will surge forward, preventing you from reaching the enemy, and they'll just get themselves killed.

  Sooner or later your health is going to drop so low that you're just a hit or two away from unconsciousness (or death, if you play certain mods), time to whip out the bow, get a little distance and start picking off guys, or just hitting them once, this makes a huge difference (think back to the arena and how your one arrow usually decided who would come out on top in an AI battle).  Beware though, the enemy has lots of archers and they WILL target you, try to take them out first, and watch out for archers re-spawning.

  Case (2):Actual Ladders, or even better TWO Ladders (don't get too excited, your idiot troops still use just ONE):

  This is just much better, ladders are slightly wider and the enemy tends to even make a small space at the top of the ladder for you, this is the same as above but because the ladder is slightly wider you can actually let a guy come up beside you, help him kill the first couple of enemies, and feed your guys in this way before moving in yourself.  If there are two ladders, go for the one on the right, it remains empty.  Use your guys at the top of the other ladder as a distraction to help you clear a space faster.
Don't underestimate throwing weapons in this situation. You can still use your shield, and throw an axe or knife at the men waiting on the top of the ramp while you climb it. The more you thin out the defenders, the easier it is to gain a foothold on the walls

  Case (3): Siege towers:

  Don't you just hate 'em?  Try to ignore all the guys dropping like flies around you and just push that thing, ignore the fact that they're standing BESIDE the thing like idiots and not behind it.  Don't stop, don't bother looking around the side to see how close you are, just  push it.  You're going to lose most of your first wave, just accept it.  If you lose a lot of guys really quickly, the siege tower can slow down or even stop, just keep pushing.  When you reach the wall, the siege tower will grind to a halt and you'll hear a roar from your forces, letting you know you're there, run around and proceed with the standard siege affair.
For an archer, there are a number of positions on the tower ramp where you can shoot at foes on the parapet while they in turn have incredible difficulty hitting you

  *The battle size makes a huge difference in sieges, if you're having a lot of difficulty, try turning it down to 50 or 40, it's just easier to take the enemy in small bites, and it seems to determine the total number of guys you have to kill before the siege is over as well.  I killed 160 guys on a battle size setting of 50 and 260 on a setting of 100.

  *Wait for your reinforcements.  If you're doing this properly, the enemy will get two or three reinforcement waves before you get your first wave of reinforcements.  This system is quite unfair in M&B, where it punishes you for taking out a lot of the enemy by turning out a wave of fresh, ferocious enemies on your injured forces while they're spread out over the ladder and walls but hey, what are you gonna do?  If your guys are really thinning out, whip out your bow and fall back to the ladder, wait for the next wave of guys to surge up and get on the corner of that column.

  *On the battlefield, archers are a joke, in sieges they are lethal, not so much for you as for your forces, take them out as a priority.

  Additional Notes/Advanced Tactics

  I don't really have much to put here, as my guy's only level 35 or so, and to be frank, I'm not that good at video games but:

  (1)The Mow-down

  If you manage to get a really good horse with a high charge stat, swing around to the side of an infantry line and charge right through them, then turn around and do it again, before the infantry has a chance to spread out.  Big battles are very much just a numbers game, if you can knock off 20 or so points by ramming a guy, your fighters have a higher percent chance of killing him.  Ramming the enemy with your horse is also the only attack in the game that hits multiple enemies  in one go, it is easily the highest damage output there is.
  *Do not try this on infantry with lances/polearms.
  *Do not position yourself for a "bump'n'slash", your horse will get cut out from under you, charge the enemy directly instead.
  *Do not try this with one of those light and fast horses, it will die
  *Until they introduce horse HP, keep a good mental tally of how much damage your hose has taken (look for blood stains while you are swiveling around in the saddle)

  (2)The John McClaine

  Jump over the wall while defending in a siege, run over to the siege engine and just murder those guys.  They're AI programmed to focus on the castle and will mostly ignore you until you get very close, keep the siege engine between you and the crowd of guys at the back, they've got bows.  To raise your kill count/survivability, use your own bow on ANYONE with out a shield, head shots are guaranteed at this range.  You can seriously kill like 100+ guys this way, and using this method I've never lost a Siege.  This is pretty much an exploit and will probably be changed in later versions of the game.

  (3)Slant the odds in your favor

  Many things about the battlefield that you can indirectly control give you a significant advantage/disadvantage.  If you use horse archery as much as I do, fighting at night sucks because it's too dark to properly track the flight of your arrows, fighting on very hilly or wooded terrain is awful, since you're running into trees left and right and you can't get up a good gallop, and all your targets keep disappearing behind hills.  Furthermore, if you begin a battle near a body of water there will often be a river on the battlefield, which is death for you on a horse.

  The key is to always decide where and when you fight a battle.  If you discover the enemy in a hilly  or wooded area, make for the plains, if it's late night, keep walking around for a moment or two until dawn or early morning.  The key is party size and speed.  If you have a reasonable number of powerful troops in your party you can keep your party size between 50 and 100. Smaller parties will just run from you, but with a few points in pathfinding (and if you have mounted troops) you should be able to catch them if you really want to. Larger parties will be too slow to catch you but will still follow you like idiots, allowing you to lead them away from sieges or straight into enemy territory where they will be attacked and murdered.

  I get the feeling that a lot of people ignore the skills of spotting and pathfinding, but if you have one or two of your companions specialize in this skill, you gain a distinct advantage over the enemy, as their spotting skills and movement speed never change.

  Final Thoughts:

  I totally agree with the other posters. The M&B controls system has a beautiful, intuitive control system to go along with their mind-bendingly awesome combat system, the only thing is that this system is counter intuitive to the way most FPSs work.  It takes some getting used to but once you do you realize the system is nearly perfect for this game.

  Things like arrow-fall (how much your arrows fall over distance), timing a "bump'n'slash" just right, twisting your guy just right as you strike to get the maximum speed bonus, recognizing the animation that  lets you know a guy is just about to drop his shield, and timing the opponents attacks so that your attack swing starts JUST before his are things you'll just have to feel out for yourself, but as you put in hour after hour in the arena and on the battle field, AND (and this is important) as the battle skills of your character increase, you will get better and better until you're doing things that amaze even yourself.

  The game makes you feel like you suck at first, but keep at it and you'll get better.  If I could offer just three pieces of general advice they would be: while you are still weak:
  *Stay on your horse
  *Use your troops, this game was designed for you to participate in battles, not win them single handedly.  Having 50 relatively powerful mounted troops around helps  you immensely just because they give the enemy something else to target besides YOU.
  *Focus on your combat skills early in the game, fighting with 10 str, 3 powerstrike/athletics , 93 in single-handed weapons and 45 hp (Normal stats for level 1-5) is COMPLETELY different from 24 str, 8 powerstrike, 250 in single-handed weapons and 60 HP (Normal stats for a fighting-focus character in the mid 20's).

  Remember: There is no level-scaling in this game, you fight the same level enemies whether you're on level 1 or level 50, so the game will only get easier and easier, provided you develop your character properly.
Weapon Master Addendum:

  Your skill with your chosen weapon makes a huge difference in how effective you are with that weapon.  The game punishes you severely for having weapon skills below 90 or so, you swing your weapon or draw your bow VERY slowly, you recover even more slowly, you do pathetic damage and with ranged weapons your reticule closes VERY slowly and then remains open quite a bit so you can only be accurate when the enemy is a few feet away, precisely when you should NOT be using a ranged weapon.

  The good news is: weapon skills go up rather quickly at first, and you can fight very effectively with almost any weapon with a skill of 150 or so, at least You will get normal speed/damage/reticule size/closing speed etc.

  Weapon master is the skill that determines how many points you can put into a skill, and how quickly it improves naturally, it works like this:

*The higher your weapon master cap is relative to your skill, the less damage you have to do with your chosen weapon before you get a skill increase. 
*If your skill is at or exceeds your current weapon master skill, you will have to deal out much MORE damage before you get a skill increase and eventually, you will stop getting skill increases until you raise your weapon master skill.

  The increase in weapon skill is decided by how much damage you do with your weapon, each skill point at a  certain level requires a certain amount of damage to increase it once.  I don't have the actual algorithms they use in the game  so I'll just pull some rough imaginary numbers out of my nether regions:

  Say you have a one-handed weapons skill of 50, and say a weapon master skill of 1, after you deliver say 100 points of damage with that weapon, your skill will increase one point.  This amount is not constant though, it is based loosely on your weapon master skill.  The higher your weapon master skill, the fewer points you need for a skill increase.  So if you had a weapon master skill of 2, you might only need 80 points of damage to get a skill increase.

  Weapon master determines how many skill points you can invest in a skill, but the skill will improve naturally with use. The higher the skill, the harder it is to increase it.

  So for example, you have a skill of 1, which I believe allows your weapon skill to reach 100.  Once your weapon skill reaches 100, it will continue to rise, but at a much slower rate.  If you had a weapon master skill of 2 (which I think allows you to cap at 140), you might pay 200 damage points for each increase in skill over 100, but since you only have 1, it's going to cost you like 250 damage. 

  Once you hit 140, you seem to start paying like 3 times the normal damage cost for a point increase.  Remember, a skill increase at 140 costs more in the first place, say 500 damage per point, but since your weapon master skill is only 1, you may have to pay as much as 1000 damage.  And then, when you reach 180 (I think that's the cap for weapon master 3), your skill increases will come much fewer and far between, you may end up paying thousands of damage per point.  Unless of course, you raise your weapon master skill by one point, at which point you'll go back to paying double and triple the damage for an increase.

  Final  Note:

  Remember, skill increases are calculated according to how much damage you do, this is why for many people who use lances, polearms shoots up so quickly, because couched damage usually numbers in the hundreds.  On the same token, for many people, bow skill goes up painfully slowly, because they only shoot heavily armored opponents in the feet, for very little damage.  This is where damage type, armor type, and attack location and speed and power strike/draw/throw  come into play. 

  The damage number on your weapon does not necessarily determine how much damage you deliver to the enemy.  How fast you can swing your weapon, if you're standing still or charging past on a horse and other factors all determine how fast you hit your target, which in turn adds to the damage.  This is why it's so easy to get two-handed skill points while mounted.  Attacking unarmored or lightly armored opponents, or as is more often the case, the unarmored or lightly armored areas of the opponents' body will allow you to deliver more damage. Take advantage of this.

  In the arena there is no armor, but then again the weapons are all wooden/practice weapons which deal low damage.  Still, it's safe, consistent, you don't have to worry about dying and with the bow you can easily get head shot after head shot.  Especially when you first start the game, the arena is ideal for getting those pathetic weapon skills up to snuff so you can survive on the battlefield.  The skills of Power strike/draw/throw go hand in hand with weapon skills, as each increase to these skills allows you to do significantly more damage (especially for the bow). 

  You can of course just grit your teeth, keep these skills low and get your weapon skill increases very slowly, but I find that weapon skill has the biggest influence on your weapon speed and accuracy, not damage.  If you're a fighting focus character it's always a good idea to get those skills up to at least 5 and I recommend more than that.

  As far as the actual weapon master skill, I find a skill of 6 or so allows your weapon skills to get into the 300's.  If you're fighting with a weapon, you should really have a skill of 150--200.  I've had skills of like 400 before, but I can't say I saw a huge difference between 300 and 400, it's up to you how much you put into this skill.
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