Miserable mid-game, new(ish) player perspective

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IngoB

Recruit
I'm going to list my issues with the "mid-game" here, by which I mean the time around gaining indepence as a separate kingdom (i.e., remaking the banner).

For background, I never played M&B 1. I have 250+ hours sunk in M&B 2 single player now, but on multiple campaigns that always end around this point by grinding fatigue and/or rage quitting. I'm reasonably competent at game mechanics otherwise. By the time of independence I typically have half to one million denars, won 50+ tournaments, have a tier 3 to 5 clan, am married, have 1-4 fiefs, ..., and I have a high tier army that can F6-beat other armies twice its size.

My issues are:
  • I want my fiefs in a compact area with bottlenecks so I can defend easily with a central army. But it is semi-random where one gets a fief (frustrating not to get what one conquers, silly to get what someone else occupied somewhere) and spending influence to dispossess is an annoying and slow process.
    Suggestion: The conqueror should always be in the election, and get an influence bonus (say 20 invested for free). One should always be able to withdraw from an election, unless one is the conqueror (if all others withdraw, the conqueror gets it).
  • It's hard to fill up garrisons. I run my army at close to capacity, at least before policies that boost army size. If I park some of my army for troop ferying, I am exposed in war. Also it just takes a long time to ride around to pick up troops. If you conquer quickly, troop respawn does not keep up, and you are too busy to ferry.
    Suggestion: The player should be able to give the garrison an amount of denars, and then the garrison auto-recruits from the surrounding villages (towns also from their pool) until either filled to capacity or the money is spent. Also, if you conquer, some of the defending army (20%?) should be willing to switch sides and stay on.
  • Everybody gangs up on you. Sure, it makes sense for the AI: suddenly there is a weak kingdom with a relatively small army, so let's get them. But from a player perspective I can hold off one kingdom with 2-5 x my strength, maybe two, but I cannot really deal with four or five of them. I have only so much Sparta in me...
    Suggestion: This game needs an alliance system. That's how weaker kingdoms can stand up to a bigger one, by banding together. And for the independence move the alliance system needs a "support independence" function, where I can set up an alliance with a lord to come into effect as soon as I declare (see EU4). Till there is such a system, AI must make the (bad) decision to not attack the newly independent player if already attacked.
  • The enemy of my enemy should be my friend. Well, I'm actually not sure that this one is even real, because I find it is so tedious to keep track of who is fighting whom... But I have the impression that lords attack other lords basically indiscriminately. But if I am fighting A, and B is also fighting A, then B should not generally declare war on me.
    Suggestion: The AI should be reluctant to fight multiple wars anyhow, but in particular not attack someone who is at war with their enemies in a current war.
  • Convincing people to join your kingdom, and keeping them, is way too difficult. You have to hunt them down first, then you have to convince them in a mini-game that gets boring quickly and is begging to be save-scummed. And if you don't convince them, they will reject further advances for a long time (for ever?). They often ask for unpayably high bribes. And if you do get them, and build them up by giving them fiefs, they often just pack up and leave, usually to rejoin their old kingdom - with the holdings you conquered for them.
    Suggestion: I don't know how to fix the current system, I just find it tedious and broken. However, I suggest that if one conquers the last holding of a clan, then that clan becomes amenable to recruitment with a reasonably high probability (50%?). And clans that have switched sides should find it very difficult to rejoin their betrayed old side at least. Maybe there also should be a chance (20%?) to lose a holding to "rebellion" upon switching, with a lost holding added like newly conquered to the old side. That way a frequent switcher attritions down.
  • Making peace is way too hard. The AI seems to have no appreciation of it getting its butt kicked. Or maybe the AI just evaluates correctly that if I am in five wars simultaneously (see above!), I cannot keep trashing them forever. Anyway, after stomping their armies and grabbing several holdings, they still ask for half my money to make peace. Heck, I feel they should offer me money to stop beating them up...
    Suggestion: Recent successes against them (losses of armies and/or holdings) should make the AI agree to peace readily, without asking for massive payouts. Indeed, if they are getting crushed, they should offer money or fiefs to get peace. And I should not be the only one suggesting peace. If I hit them hard enough then their lords should start asking me for peace whenever we meet.
  • My AI clans do not seem to build up and maintain the fiefs given to them properly. I conquer something, I give it to some other clan. A while later, it gets rapidly conquered by the enemy again. Why? Well, it had 0 garrison and no investment in defenses, and if I don't defend this shell holding with an external army, nobody else seems to do it.
    Suggestion: The AI should make it a priortity to get all their fiefs into a somewhat defensible shape, at least to the point where they can hold out a bit until a rescue army (me usually, sigh...) can get to them. Other AI armies should prioritise defending existing holdings if they can help.
  • Dungeons are weird. They seem bottomless. I think the prisoners in there do not count for consumption (maybe they do? no idea) and prisoners in the dungeons never become available for recuitment.
    Suggestion: Dungeons should have limited maximum capacity. Prisoners in them should cost food / money (if less than garrison members). But they should have a chance to become recruitable. Basically, storing prisoners in dungeons should have a price, but also allow me to fill up my army and garrison.
That's all for now. I should mention that I recently discovered "cheating", i.e., setting the cheat mode switch to 1. Using only the occasional Ctrl-Alt-F4 (kill an opposing army outright) and a lot of Ctrl-left-click (teleporting around), I am currently trying to get a mid-game run into a shape that I would consider a "reasonable" starting place. Namely: about dozen fiefs in a compact area, with 2-3 clans in the kingdom. All garrisons are reasonably filled, and the kingdom is at peace with everybody for the time being. Obviously I can get this done now, but even with cheating this is a long grind for all the reasons mentioned above! This prompted me to write this post. If it is so hard to get into a reasonable position even with nuking and teleporting, then the proper non-cheating game probably is as miserable as I feel it is. It cannot be only me being a noob...

That said, if some of the above is due to me not playing well / properly, advice is apreciated. And I should stress that I really enjoy the "rags to riches" phase of this game. It's just that every time I get to the mid-game, I try for a while, find it a grindy annoying mess, and then shrug and restart.
 

blackbellamy

Recruit
You want your fiefs in a compact area with bottlenecks so you can defend easily with a central army but yet you bent the knee and swore fealty to someone that would decide what was yours and what was not.

So why did you do that? Did you think your new lord was going to to give you fiefs in a compact area with bottlenecks so you can defend easily with a central army when you decide to rebel against your liege? Would you give your disloyal and unreliable vassals fiefs in a compact area with bottlenecks?
 

IngoB

Recruit
<responding to blackbellamy two posts above>

I'm not sure that one can chracterise fairly the election system simply as "my lord gave me". But setting that aside: I like realism in games, but not to the point where it affects game enjoyment negatively. I'm playing a computer game after all, I'm not trying to do historical reenactment...

Furthermore, if you think the current system represents the lord trying to keep his vassals in line "realistically", fair enough. Then I would also like "realistic" options to deal with this, like being able to conspire against the lord with other clans in the kingdom or external powers, bribe, marry or murder my way onto the throne, etc. Realism in games always falls short, where it ends is a game design choice.
 

StewVader

I'm going to list my issues with the "mid-game" here, by which I mean the time around gaining indepence as a separate kingdom (i.e., remaking the banner).

For background, I never played M&B 1. I have 250+ hours sunk in M&B 2 single player now, but on multiple campaigns that always end around this point by grinding fatigue and/or rage quitting. I'm reasonably competent at game mechanics otherwise. By the time of independence I typically have half to one million denars, won 50+ tournaments, have a tier 3 to 5 clan, am married, have 1-4 fiefs, ..., and I have a high tier army that can F6-beat other armies twice its size.

My issues are:
  • I want my fiefs in a compact area with bottlenecks so I can defend easily with a central army. But it is semi-random where one gets a fief (frustrating not to get what one conquers, silly to get what someone else occupied somewhere) and spending influence to dispossess is an annoying and slow process.
    Suggestion: The conqueror should always be in the election, and get an influence bonus (say 20 invested for free). One should always be able to withdraw from an election, unless one is the conqueror (if all others withdraw, the conqueror gets it).
  • It's hard to fill up garrisons. I run my army at close to capacity, at least before policies that boost army size. If I park some of my army for troop ferying, I am exposed in war. Also it just takes a long time to ride around to pick up troops. If you conquer quickly, troop respawn does not keep up, and you are too busy to ferry.
    Suggestion: The player should be able to give the garrison an amount of denars, and then the garrison auto-recruits from the surrounding villages (towns also from their pool) until either filled to capacity or the money is spent. Also, if you conquer, some of the defending army (20%?) should be willing to switch sides and stay on.
  • Everybody gangs up on you. Sure, it makes sense for the AI: suddenly there is a weak kingdom with a relatively small army, so let's get them. But from a player perspective I can hold off one kingdom with 2-5 x my strength, maybe two, but I cannot really deal with four or five of them. I have only so much Sparta in me...
    Suggestion: This game needs an alliance system. That's how weaker kingdoms can stand up to a bigger one, by banding together. And for the independence move the alliance system needs a "support independence" function, where I can set up an alliance with a lord to come into effect as soon as I declare (see EU4). Till there is such a system, AI must make the (bad) decision to not attack the newly independent player if already attacked.
  • The enemy of my enemy should be my friend. Well, I'm actually not sure that this one is even real, because I find it is so tedious to keep track of who is fighting whom... But I have the impression that lords attack other lords basically indiscriminately. But if I am fighting A, and B is also fighting A, then B should not generally declare war on me.
    Suggestion: The AI should be reluctant to fight multiple wars anyhow, but in particular not attack someone who is at war with their enemies in a current war.
  • Convincing people to join your kingdom, and keeping them, is way too difficult. You have to hunt them down first, then you have to convince them in a mini-game that gets boring quickly and is begging to be save-scummed. And if you don't convince them, they will reject further advances for a long time (for ever?). They often ask for unpayably high bribes. And if you do get them, and build them up by giving them fiefs, they often just pack up and leave, usually to rejoin their old kingdom - with the holdings you conquered for them.
    Suggestion: I don't know how to fix the current system, I just find it tedious and broken. However, I suggest that if one conquers the last holding of a clan, then that clan becomes amenable to recruitment with a reasonably high probability (50%?). And clans that have switched sides should find it very difficult to rejoin their betrayed old side at least. Maybe there also should be a chance (20%?) to lose a holding to "rebellion" upon switching, with a lost holding added like newly conquered to the old side. That way a frequent switcher attritions down.
  • Making peace is way too hard. The AI seems to have no appreciation of it getting its butt kicked. Or maybe the AI just evaluates correctly that if I am in five wars simultaneously (see above!), I cannot keep trashing them forever. Anyway, after stomping their armies and grabbing several holdings, they still ask for half my money to make peace. Heck, I feel they should offer me money to stop beating them up...
    Suggestion: Recent successes against them (losses of armies and/or holdings) should make the AI agree to peace readily, without asking for massive payouts. Indeed, if they are getting crushed, they should offer money or fiefs to get peace. And I should not be the only one suggesting peace. If I hit them hard enough then their lords should start asking me for peace whenever we meet.
  • My AI clans do not seem to build up and maintain the fiefs given to them properly. I conquer something, I give it to some other clan. A while later, it gets rapidly conquered by the enemy again. Why? Well, it had 0 garrison and no investment in defenses, and if I don't defend this shell holding with an external army, nobody else seems to do it.
    Suggestion: The AI should make it a priortity to get all their fiefs into a somewhat defensible shape, at least to the point where they can hold out a bit until a rescue army (me usually, sigh...) can get to them. Other AI armies should prioritise defending existing holdings if they can help.
  • Dungeons are weird. They seem bottomless. I think the prisoners in there do not count for consumption (maybe they do? no idea) and prisoners in the dungeons never become available for recuitment.
    Suggestion: Dungeons should have limited maximum capacity. Prisoners in them should cost food / money (if less than garrison members). But they should have a chance to become recruitable. Basically, storing prisoners in dungeons should have a price, but also allow me to fill up my army and garrison.
That's all for now. I should mention that I recently discovered "cheating", i.e., setting the cheat mode switch to 1. Using only the occasional Ctrl-Alt-F4 (kill an opposing army outright) and a lot of Ctrl-left-click (teleporting around), I am currently trying to get a mid-game run into a shape that I would consider a "reasonable" starting place. Namely: about dozen fiefs in a compact area, with 2-3 clans in the kingdom. All garrisons are reasonably filled, and the kingdom is at peace with everybody for the time being. Obviously I can get this done now, but even with cheating this is a long grind for all the reasons mentioned above! This prompted me to write this post. If it is so hard to get into a reasonable position even with nuking and teleporting, then the proper non-cheating game probably is as miserable as I feel it is. It cannot be only me being a noob...

That said, if some of the above is due to me not playing well / properly, advice is apreciated. And I should stress that I really enjoy the "rags to riches" phase of this game. It's just that every time I get to the mid-game, I try for a while, find it a grindy annoying mess, and then shrug and restart.

Everything you said I agree with 100%. The game lacks any sort of complexity or depth and i'm not convinced we will ever get it. The fanbois will scream EA, but after a few months they will change their tune when the game is still just a grindy boring map painter with nothing interesting to do.
 
Well said, thank you for posting this. What you have written echoes my experience at the mid game as well. Being ganged up on and continuously fighting a never ending stream of respawning lords is a huge grind. If feels like you have to do it all yourself. In previous M&B, especially VC you could get Lords and they would be basically self sufficient. Lords would also show up in your home fief where you could accept their pledge. Having to run around and talk to every lord is silly. You nailed it with them leaving quickly as well.

I end up trying to get as many mercenary clans to help me as possible. However, they only stay temporarily then quickly join my enemy. So I end up just fighting all Kingdoms basically alone. Usually this lasts for a bit, then I get pissed and either start executing every lord I capture or quit. Fighting every kingdom is almost impossible without mods.

The base game is unplayable at this phase. You cannot recruit and keep lords, you cannot control your clan parties, and you get hammered on all sides (maybe due to the mainline quest?). Pre-Empire phase is difficult too as you cannot form an army, so without joining a Kingdom you have to try to take a keep with your main party (no clan parties).

I use mods and cheat now, it is the only way to make this mid game playable. I'd rather not use mods, but it is what it is. I did not use mods in M&B or VC and loved the experience.
 
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IngoB

Recruit
You need mods. Mount and Blade titles without mods are mac and cheese without the mac or the cheese.
Well, as someone new to the M&B franchise, I appreciate that this may be the grown culture. But it is not something I'm used to from other games, and I honestly think that this has to change if you want to keep new incoming players. Not that mods should disappear, of course not! Mods are great to extend a game in scope and replayability. However, I don't see why the base game that I paid good money for should not be perfectly playable and enjoyable in vanilla?!
 
Well, as someone new to the M&B franchise, I appreciate that this may be the grown culture. But it is not something I'm used to from other games, and I honestly think that this has to change if you want to keep new incoming players. Not that mods should disappear, of course not! Mods are great to extend a game in scope and replayability. However, I don't see why the base game that I paid good money for should not be perfectly playable and enjoyable in vanilla?!

It is and can be, but once you mod once you never go back. Plus if you dive into the dev blogs and check out the game architecture you'll see that BL was created from the ground up to be incredibly friendly for modders. Taleworlds knows where the game's bread and butter is going to be. Warband wasn't successful because of the base game, the mods carried it over the past decade or so.
 

Lord Irontoe

Master Knight
You want your fiefs in a compact area with bottlenecks so you can defend easily with a central army but yet you bent the knee and swore fealty to someone that would decide what was yours and what was not.

So why did you do that? Did you think your new lord was going to to give you fiefs in a compact area with bottlenecks so you can defend easily with a central army when you decide to rebel against your liege? Would you give your disloyal and unreliable vassals fiefs in a compact area with bottlenecks?
I think you missed the point of the OP's post. Its more about not being able to decline random fiefs that you don't want while not even being in the running for the fiefs you conquered yourself. Its not like the kings are consciously deciding to spread out your holdings to prevent powerblocks. Its just a bad randomized system that doesn't make sense.
 

sifis172

Sergeant Knight
WB
i feel all the points you make are valid, i feel an emptyness to that too.
i like the way you progress at the start. but once you get your first proper armor
and set your first fiefs, it's an end game.

*StewVader*
as for if we, myself too as a fanboy, will get the product finished is just a question of when.
taleworlds kept updating warband 1, until 2(? someone correct if wrong) years ago.
viking conquest expansion was remade virtually again, in patches and balancing.

I'm aFanboy because of the community,as i don't like very much phantasy RPG's.
and if for some reason things get the way you say in some months, there is
the old community of modders as is the new community that is forming.

personally i believe that it will rise in incredible heights.
maybe you could take a look in the forge and speak with a modder,
because my opinion you might say is a little biased.
i haven't spoken to anyone in that sector so i don't know their opinion,
would be interested in what they say.
 

RexDart

Recruit
The funny thing is, in my game Rhaegea seems to be granting fiefs in a quite geographically sensible way.
 

Apocal

Grandmaster Knight
I'm going to list my issues with the "mid-game" here, by which I mean the time around gaining indepence as a separate kingdom (i.e., remaking the banner).

For background, I never played M&B 1...

Forming your own kingdom is usually considered late- or end-game in M&B. The earliest release, vanilla M&B, didn't even support it. And Warband (the pseudo-sequel) made it painfully clear that forming your own kingdom was something you only did when you'd amassed considerable power, good relations, near-bottomless finances, and worked up a little stat called "right to rule" which made the AI a bit less inclined to declare war on you.

I don't know why they decided to do the banner quest in the manner that they did. It shoves you into what is a late-game activity way too early if you follow the questline. And, worse than that, it isn't even finished. Kingdom management is broken in the parts that are implemented and most of them aren't even implemented. I had one playthrough where I accidentally formed my own kingdom, realized that they weren't lying when they said kingdom management wasn't supported and rolled back to a previous save.

It is early access but there isn't an excuse for TW to literally lead players to busted content.

The funny thing is, in my game Rhaegea seems to be granting fiefs in a quite geographically sensible way.

It should do that for most every kingdom. The code to decide who gets on the ballot for a fief factors in distance from other fiefs. Where it becomes a problem is the player faction. For AI kingdoms, the fiefs are assigned instantly, with no holding period. But in the player faction, the monarch becomes the temporary holder meaning that their distance from the fief is... 0. Obviously, that makes it easy for them to get on the ballot and (with a surplus of influence) take every goddamned thing.
 

drallim33

Sergeant
Convincing people to join your kingdom, and keeping them, is way too difficult. You have to hunt them down first, then you have to convince them in a mini-game that gets boring quickly and is begging to be save-scummed. And if you don't convince them, they will reject further advances for a long time (for ever?). They often ask for unpayably high bribes. And if you do get them, and build them up by giving them fiefs, they often just pack up and leave, usually to rejoin their old kingdom - with the holdings you conquered for them.
Suggestion: I don't know how to fix the current system, I just find it tedious and broken. However, I suggest that if one conquers the last holding of a clan, then that clan becomes amenable to recruitment with a reasonably high probability (50%?). And clans that have switched sides should find it very difficult to rejoin their betrayed old side at least. Maybe there also should be a chance (20%?) to lose a holding to "rebellion" upon switching, with a lost holding added like newly conquered to the old side. That way a frequent switcher attritions down.
I think treacherous lords should be shunned by the rest of the world. They should only get one betrayal before every king knows they are a turncoat and will never trust them with a fief. They should get -100 relation with all members of the faction they betray if they defect during war to the enemy. And some sort of reputation with everyone else for being untrustworthy.

They should also only be able to take their fiefs with them if they have held them for a year or more. In one game the king gave four fiefs to a clan during a war against the Vlandians. That clan then defected to the Vlandians, returning the fiefs to them. This in itself is ridiculous, but since the armies that took them the first time were still in the area, they were immediately besieged and taken again. When they were all taken back the traitorous clan defected again and the king gave them more fiefs.

This is absurd and kept happening until the vlandians were completely wiped out, this clan kept flip-flopping and getting more fiefs every time.
  • They should not have been able to rejoin the faction after the treachery
  • They should not have been able to take the fiefs with them that had only just been conquered in the last few days, that they had probably never even visited
  • They should probably get some sort of bounty on their head to be tracked down and executed
I also find that the clans that are chosen for eligilbility for a new fief need improvement. Currently it seems to only take clan tier and current number of fiefs into account. So if a one-man clan that's tier 5 joins a kingdom, they will be first in line for the next few fiefs even if there are other long-standing, loyal clans with more members who need the fief more. I think the clans chosen for the fief elections should take into account the combined party cap of all their members. It should have more options too, including ALL clans who were involved in the siege. It shouldn't be forced to go to some newly-joined lord that everyone hates, with no other clan members, who might betray you at any moment.
 

kreamy

Sergeant
You need mods. Mount and Blade titles without mods are mac and cheese without the mac or the cheese.
+1
they have mods for that. Sadly the TW teams doesn't include basic good things. For some reason there are chickens with no heads doing some of the decision making (no idea why, since really basic **** like this should be seen in playthrough - the only good thing TW did was allow modders to easily mod/collaborate, and so do all the work for free essentially - a piss poor reward for the great community (in a way, but in a way great.)

I play with approx. 40 mods, they are mainly quality of life mods that doesn't change the essence of the game, but is really what bannerlord should be like.
 

svennd

Recruit
M&BWBWF&SVC
I agree for many parts; If I'm part of the war or the conqueror, I should be on the short list to get it; Geographical spread is ridiculous, it wasn't the case in history either; A region you know and have many fiefs are better protected as you can have multiple castles/fiefs/... in the area;

I haven't had my own kingdom as that is not yet "ready", they said it when they released the EA so I haven't ventured into it;

I hope we see some new stuff coming over the next few months, I have to say allot of work still needs to go into this game; I just saw a stream of warband and I don't have the same feeling when I'm on the battlefield; I feel like a looter on a horse compared to the hero of the battlefield in warband; (and yes I play on super easy!) I also can't find a decent 2 hand sword or any 2 hander for that matter.
 
I agree for many parts; If I'm part of the war or the conqueror, I should be on the short list to get it; Geographical spread is ridiculous, it wasn't the case in history either; A region you know and have many fiefs are better protected as you can have multiple castles/fiefs/... in the area;

I haven't had my own kingdom as that is not yet "ready", they said it when they released the EA so I haven't ventured into it;

I hope we see some new stuff coming over the next few months, I have to say allot of work still needs to go into this game; I just saw a stream of warband and I don't have the same feeling when I'm on the battlefield; I feel like a looter on a horse compared to the hero of the battlefield in warband; (and yes I play on super easy!) I also can't find a decent 2 hand sword or any 2 hander for that matter.
I would recommend Smithing for your weapons. Once you get up in level you can make some excellent weapons. I roll with 2 hand sword + 2 Hand Polearm and crafted javelins for all my team.

Plenty of mods to make smithing less of a pita.
 

IngoB

Recruit
Forming your own kingdom is usually considered late- or end-game in M&B. ... I don't know why they decided to do the banner quest in the manner that they did. It shoves you into what is a late-game activity way too early if you follow the questline.
Thanks, I had no idea... I wouldn't say that I'm rushing to do the main quest line, but those quests are there and so whenever I have nothing else to do I try to progress them. After getting my nose bloodied several times with seeking independence, I did start to prep more. But the vanilla game sort of runs out of new / interesting things to do at that point (at least if playing fighting-oriented), so it seemed logical to take the leap to unlock new content sooner rather than later.
 

Ananda_The_Destroyer

Master Knight
I ended up with towns close to each other by only putting myself up for what i wanted, based on what I had. I made blunder in one game of just grabbing everything I could and of course most got taken back, I didn't know I would lose heavy relation for loosing the stuff.

My advice is, until they add more stuff and fixes, just do your best and enjoy building up, being a vassal or trying to be a kingdom.... then when you can't hack it anymore go mad king and start murdering everyone in the world who stands up to you.

I read somebody say they cleared the map by recruiting everyone and I need to go find it and ask them for more info. As I've read most people have trouble getting a good outcome from recruiting vassals.
 

Timberwolf

Banned
I'm going to list my issues with the "mid-game" here, by which I mean the time around gaining indepence as a separate kingdom (i.e., remaking the banner).

For background, I never played M&B 1. I have 250+ hours sunk in M&B 2 single player now, but on multiple campaigns that always end around this point by grinding fatigue and/or rage quitting. I'm reasonably competent at game mechanics otherwise. By the time of independence I typically have half to one million denars, won 50+ tournaments, have a tier 3 to 5 clan, am married, have 1-4 fiefs, ..., and I have a high tier army that can F6-beat other armies twice its size.

My issues are:
  • I want my fiefs in a compact area with bottlenecks so I can defend easily with a central army. But it is semi-random where one gets a fief (frustrating not to get what one conquers, silly to get what someone else occupied somewhere) and spending influence to dispossess is an annoying and slow process.
    Suggestion: The conqueror should always be in the election, and get an influence bonus (say 20 invested for free). One should always be able to withdraw from an election, unless one is the conqueror (if all others withdraw, the conqueror gets it).
  • It's hard to fill up garrisons. I run my army at close to capacity, at least before policies that boost army size. If I park some of my army for troop ferying, I am exposed in war. Also it just takes a long time to ride around to pick up troops. If you conquer quickly, troop respawn does not keep up, and you are too busy to ferry.
    Suggestion: The player should be able to give the garrison an amount of denars, and then the garrison auto-recruits from the surrounding villages (towns also from their pool) until either filled to capacity or the money is spent. Also, if you conquer, some of the defending army (20%?) should be willing to switch sides and stay on.
  • Everybody gangs up on you. Sure, it makes sense for the AI: suddenly there is a weak kingdom with a relatively small army, so let's get them. But from a player perspective I can hold off one kingdom with 2-5 x my strength, maybe two, but I cannot really deal with four or five of them. I have only so much Sparta in me...
    Suggestion: This game needs an alliance system. That's how weaker kingdoms can stand up to a bigger one, by banding together. And for the independence move the alliance system needs a "support independence" function, where I can set up an alliance with a lord to come into effect as soon as I declare (see EU4). Till there is such a system, AI must make the (bad) decision to not attack the newly independent player if already attacked.
  • The enemy of my enemy should be my friend. Well, I'm actually not sure that this one is even real, because I find it is so tedious to keep track of who is fighting whom... But I have the impression that lords attack other lords basically indiscriminately. But if I am fighting A, and B is also fighting A, then B should not generally declare war on me.
    Suggestion: The AI should be reluctant to fight multiple wars anyhow, but in particular not attack someone who is at war with their enemies in a current war.
  • Convincing people to join your kingdom, and keeping them, is way too difficult. You have to hunt them down first, then you have to convince them in a mini-game that gets boring quickly and is begging to be save-scummed. And if you don't convince them, they will reject further advances for a long time (for ever?). They often ask for unpayably high bribes. And if you do get them, and build them up by giving them fiefs, they often just pack up and leave, usually to rejoin their old kingdom - with the holdings you conquered for them.
    Suggestion: I don't know how to fix the current system, I just find it tedious and broken. However, I suggest that if one conquers the last holding of a clan, then that clan becomes amenable to recruitment with a reasonably high probability (50%?). And clans that have switched sides should find it very difficult to rejoin their betrayed old side at least. Maybe there also should be a chance (20%?) to lose a holding to "rebellion" upon switching, with a lost holding added like newly conquered to the old side. That way a frequent switcher attritions down.
  • Making peace is way too hard. The AI seems to have no appreciation of it getting its butt kicked. Or maybe the AI just evaluates correctly that if I am in five wars simultaneously (see above!), I cannot keep trashing them forever. Anyway, after stomping their armies and grabbing several holdings, they still ask for half my money to make peace. Heck, I feel they should offer me money to stop beating them up...
    Suggestion: Recent successes against them (losses of armies and/or holdings) should make the AI agree to peace readily, without asking for massive payouts. Indeed, if they are getting crushed, they should offer money or fiefs to get peace. And I should not be the only one suggesting peace. If I hit them hard enough then their lords should start asking me for peace whenever we meet.
  • My AI clans do not seem to build up and maintain the fiefs given to them properly. I conquer something, I give it to some other clan. A while later, it gets rapidly conquered by the enemy again. Why? Well, it had 0 garrison and no investment in defenses, and if I don't defend this shell holding with an external army, nobody else seems to do it.
    Suggestion: The AI should make it a priortity to get all their fiefs into a somewhat defensible shape, at least to the point where they can hold out a bit until a rescue army (me usually, sigh...) can get to them. Other AI armies should prioritise defending existing holdings if they can help.
  • Dungeons are weird. They seem bottomless. I think the prisoners in there do not count for consumption (maybe they do? no idea) and prisoners in the dungeons never become available for recuitment.
    Suggestion: Dungeons should have limited maximum capacity. Prisoners in them should cost food / money (if less than garrison members). But they should have a chance to become recruitable. Basically, storing prisoners in dungeons should have a price, but also allow me to fill up my army and garrison.
That's all for now. I should mention that I recently discovered "cheating", i.e., setting the cheat mode switch to 1. Using only the occasional Ctrl-Alt-F4 (kill an opposing army outright) and a lot of Ctrl-left-click (teleporting around), I am currently trying to get a mid-game run into a shape that I would consider a "reasonable" starting place. Namely: about dozen fiefs in a compact area, with 2-3 clans in the kingdom. All garrisons are reasonably filled, and the kingdom is at peace with everybody for the time being. Obviously I can get this done now, but even with cheating this is a long grind for all the reasons mentioned above! This prompted me to write this post. If it is so hard to get into a reasonable position even with nuking and teleporting, then the proper non-cheating game probably is as miserable as I feel it is. It cannot be only me being a noob...

That said, if some of the above is due to me not playing well / properly, advice is apreciated. And I should stress that I really enjoy the "rags to riches" phase of this game. It's just that every time I get to the mid-game, I try for a while, find it a grindy annoying mess, and then shrug and restart.

Unfortunately my friend, this game is just unplayable right now. If they can't even fix the money and influence system that they just broke yet again, and still have half the game missing, don't expect any sensible changes for the next few years. This game should be finished, at this rate, maybe around 2030, and even then I doubt it would be what you're looking for. I only got on the forums today to voice my opinion about the new update notes, as I've stopped playing now. As someone who played the very first game when it was new and has bought every game since, I'm more than a little disgusted.
 
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