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Mount & Blade Warband Infantry Primer

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Sergeant Knight at Arms
A Foreword

So for a long while I've wanted to write a strategy guide for a game, but I haven't found one that I really liked enough to actually learn something about, or keep playing it for a while. Warband has really hooked me, so I've been on and off putting together a guide to help new players get up to speed in warband.

Most of the stuff here will be known by anyone who has played a while, but even if you have, you might enjoy some of the dueling tips at the end for my point of view on things.

I find playing infantry one of the most interesting roles in warband, and also feel there is a lot to learn in order to fight effectively. I've tried to include everything from the basics up to some of my anecdotal evidence I've collected from my playing. There are parts that will need a bit of help, and I generally tend to not remember precise weapon names/stats, so I may be incorrect at places, but I think for a new player my overviews should be helpful. Regardless, I hope everybody can find some benefit here from my incoming wall of text :wink:

Warband Infantry Primer
Updated: Version 1.105

MANUAL - HERE - For some reason if you bought this on impulse or via taleworlds there was no mention of a manual. This is it off of steam. It covers a hell of a lot of stuff on SP that also extend to MP and is a great read, though some of it will be slightly outdated by now.

Helpful Videos:
Would like to keep adding some training/education style videos as time goes on up here to help players get up to speed.

Video Tutorial - A quick run through of all warband infantry vs infantry mechanics, briefly touching on most of the key points.

Team DM with Comments - Some team dm runs which highlight common errors new players tend to make. Hopefully seeing things on the other end of the table can help people out. Note this video was created during warband release when many players had not learned the basics of the game yet. The playing field out there now is much improved.

Siege + Duels with Comments - There are some basic commentaries on the video here during siege. There are also some brief tips for 1h vs great sword in the duel section. Comments stop after that though.

A note about ping:
In warband ping numbers seem smaller than other games. If you have 100+ ping, you are in a high lag situation and should expect the game to not behave entirely correct. There have been some slight changes, so it is still possible to manual block, but attacks will seem to come at you faster and you have to react in a smaller window than in a low ping situation. If you are having a lot of trouble playing, check your ping, it might be just that which is causing you problems.

If you have a good ping (~50 or lower), you still have to be somewhat careful of players with a high ping. Occasionally their attacks will be a bit laggy and skip a few frames. Just be extra attentive when you see someone with a rocket high ping, for the most part they will be swinging at air, but the attacks can come suddenly and be a bit laggy.

So overall, it is definitely playable at a higher ping, and some players have really figured out how to do well with it, but  you are going to have a harder time than someone with a low ping. In general you will probably want to use a shield to start out as infantry with a high ping.


I see a lot of people asking about what control settings to use for playing, everything from sensitivity to block direction. As always it is personal preference on what to pick first of coarse.

For my opinion, I think having your mouse control block and attack directions is a must. Initially when picking up the game the first one I had played that was similar was jedi outcast, which controls swing direction via movement keys, so that is what felt natural to me. Over time though I have realized the speed an maneuverability you get from quickly being able to pick swing/block directions with the mouse is far superior to the key mode.

Mouse does take some getting used to, and takes a bit of time to learn how to stop 'looking' with the mouse and then select a block direction, then resume looking. At first you will be looking up to see an incoming attack and block high by accident and get hit, but over time the swing and block selections will become second nature to you and flow very smoothly.

Inverse or regular is whatever you like. I think if you play inverse at the end of the day it might end up like feeling you are playing a lefty, but really you should stick with the less frustrating of the two.

For mouse sensitivity, this is really what you feel comfortable controlling. For shooting arrows I sort of like it a little bit lower. I used to play on my old mouse with it slightly above default as this felt really natural for me. I got a higher dpi mouse recently and had to turn the sensitivity way down. Basically what you need to be able to do in melee is make sure you can track a person moving to the side of you without letting them get around behind you. You also should be reasonably able to pull a 180 without coming off your mouse pad...basically just the same amount of turning you need in your basic FPS will work perfectly fine here.

Spinning your mouse will not make you hit things faster, there is a turn cap, and currently (patch 1.126) it is pretty low, so no worries you need to jack up your sensitivity to compete.

Attacking, the basics:
When swinging a melee weapon. you generally have 4 attack directions. Most weapons will have a left, right, and overhead swing. Some weapons additionally have a thrust attack, and long pikes will only have a thrust and overhead attack.

Right swing - Swing will cross horizontally right to left in front of you. This horizontal swing is one of the faster swings to be released,  meaning, when you click the button and release, this swing will be one of the fastest to impact a player.

Left swing - Swing will cross horizontally left to right. This swing takes a bit more time for the weapon to travel into it's chambered position. This attack does have a slight reach advantage over the right attack with a 2h.

Overhead swing - Swing goes up over your head and straight down in front of you. This attack is the slowest of all and is harder to aim since the swing must be precise. This can score a quick kill if someone is not wearing a helmet though. (.850) - 1h swing hitbox is slightly to the right of center, take care to aim where the weapon goes and not dead center of your character model. (will have to test, not sure if this is true in .860 or back to the old way)

Thrust - The weapon will come straight out in front of you. This attack has the longest reach, and is often tricky to spot coming out. It has the disadvantage of being harder to aim than a left to right swing and must be guided to the target. If you thrust at someone point blank range, the hit will 'whiff' doing no damage, but interrupting the target. (.850) Thrust is a bit different now in that it has some travel time behind you then forward, so it is a little easier to spot coming out. The 1h reach for thrust is still longest, but only by a tiny bit.

Kick - Middle mouse button by default, but is bindable to whatever you want. The kick is an extremely short range attack that will interrupt and slightly stun your opponent. (.850) Kick has very little rotation, so aim where your target will be by the time the kick lands.  If you try to attack during the kick, your swing will be reset as you come out of the kick. To attack afterwords, your foot must be fully down for about half a second, then you may attack. Kick can not get activated while moving forward too fast, so generally it is hard to run in on a person and kick them. Save it for when someone is too close for comfort.

Fists - When your weapon is sheathed, or you are not carrying a weapon at all, you may still attack with your fists. There are 4 different attacks as above, and you may also block other fist attacks with your arms. Generally people will box for fun, as the range and damage is next to nothing with your fists. As a last resort, you can sometimes get a kill shot on a player with next to no health (though again you won't really find yourself with out a melee weapon, unless you have 3 crossbows :smile: )

Weapon Mode Toggle - When using a throwing weapon, hit this key (X by default) to toggle between throwing weapon mode, or using the throwing weapon in melee mode. When using nord long axes, this key will swap between a poleaxe mode where you may thrust, and a regular swinging mode. (.850) Also note for the cavalrymen out there, you use this key to switch into couched lance mode while using a lance from horseback.

Sprint- When you run forward not doing anything for a bit, your speed will increase. If you generally do ANYTHING (swap weapons, raise your shield etc) it will drop you out of this sprint mode.

Archer / Thrown weapon Bump - If you run into a player aiming a bow, crossbow, or throwing weapon, from the front only, you interrupt them with small bumps constantly as you press into them. You are still susceptible to kicks here, and if they take out a melee weapon (or with a thrower swap to melee mode) it will no longer work.

"Autorun" - Not a feature per say, but if you bring up the chat bar while running forward, you will continue running forward. This is helpful to do when you need to run into position quickly but still need to type.

Blocking, the basics:
There are two forms of blocking when you do not have a shield, auto or manual. Auto and manual are a server setting, but you can still set yourself to manual block all the time in your options. Most players prefer manual block as it adds more dynamic gameplay.

Auto - Press and hold the block button (right mouse button by default) and your weapon will snap to the correct block direction of the person in front of you. If the person attacking changes attack directions, you have to release the block button and press again to correct to the new position.

Manual - You must select the correct direction of the attack to block. Depending on how you have your configuration set up, the way you move your mouse may be different to get the block to come out, so I'll just describe where the player animates to block correctly.

If the weapon is coming from your left, (opponents right side), you must block so that your weapon is on your left side.

To block from the right is the opposite.

Overhead attacks are blocked when the sword is raised at eye level horizontally.

Thrusts are blocked when the sword is low and horizontal.

With horizontal swings (left/right block), you can still block an attack if you pick the wrong direction. If the swing is coming from the right, and you block left, if you turn your character such that the weapon is between you and the incoming swing (to your right), you will still block the attack. The area for this to happen is somewhat small, but it can save you sometimes when you are in close to an opponent. The rule of thumb when blocking left/right is that your sword must be between your body and the incoming weapon (as it should be! ).

Shield Blocking - When you have a shield equipped out on your left hand, simply hold the block button down to bring the shield in position. The shield will block any melee strike coming at you from the front, as well as arrows.

* Not sure if this is still here *New in .660 you can manual block with the shield. If you block the correct direction, the shield will take less damage and last longer.

Not sure on this section anymore, been a bit since I played with arrows flying at me
Arrows can skim over the top of your shield and strike your head, especially when the archer is shooting at an elevated position. Arrows may also strike your legs for a free hit. You may raise the shield up or down depending on the way you are looking while holding the block button.

I would suggest keeping the shield high when advancing on archers that are elevated to protect your head better, while keeping the shield lower when moving in towards archers on level ground to make foot shots harder.

As the shield takes damage, the icon in the lower right will change from a fully formed shield, to an icon of shields in pieces. When enough damage is done, your shield will explode into splinters and be gone.

One final note about your shield. When blocking arrows and throwing weapons, your shield is ALWAYS active when it is out on your character model. This means if you have your primary, or a secondary shield on your back, any arrows coming in at your back will be absorb by the shield there. Even when you are swinging a weapon, and the shield is held at and odd angle out to your left, arrows and throwing weapons coming from your side will stick into the shield still. You can even have projectiles stick to the INSIDE of your shield if hit from side angle while it is out.

Chamber Blocking - If you chamber an attack in the correct direction as an opponents attack is about to hit you, you will block the attack. Think of it as knocking the blade away as your char moves into his strike position. A chamber block will negate any stun you would get from blocking a heavy blow.

The correct swing directions are:

Left or Right attacks = same direction as manual block. If their sword is out to their right (left side of their body as you look at them), you swing to your characters left to block. Visa versa if it is the other direction.

A thrust coming at you is chamber blocked with an overhead attack (.850) or another thrust.

An overhead attack coming at you is chamber blocked with (.850) another overhead attack.

I have an example video here recorded in .650 that shows some chamber blocking in action, though it is an older version so things aren't exactly as they are now.

Also note to chamber block your weapon must basically make contact with their weapon. It works on about a 35 degree arc in front of your character, so if a long weapon is coming at you from the side, face the weapon coming in, and swing just a microsecond before the actual weapon is about to hit you to chamber block.

Attack Variations

Feinting - Feinting is the act of stopping a swing mid motion and changing its direction. The reason for feinting is to confuse your opponent. If using autoblock, they may not correct in time and take a hit. If using manual block, it might just be overwhelming for them to select the correct block direction. You can even use it to throw off the other person's timing in shield to shield combat. They might think it is their 'turn' to attack, when you just feinted and your real swing is in motion as their guard drops.

To perform feints:

While holding the attack button, move the mouse in another attack direction and hit the block button. Your character will change his swing direction. You can also hit block button at any time during the first half of a swing to pull out into a block, then go immediately into a swing with the attack button. Generally you can feint out of a swing when it is before the midpoint of the animation.

So for example, to perform a right to left feint:

Chamber (by holding down the attack button) a swing to the right. Move the mouse to the left, then hit the right mouse button. You will see the weapon start on the right, then start to move into a chambered left swing. Feints can be done as many times as you want in any direction.

Inventory Management
There are four inventory slots for weapons in the inventory select screen. Left click the square you want to change to bring up the options of weapons/armor you can use for that slot, then left click to select what you want to buy. To clear a slot, right click on it. When the game starts, all of your equipment will be purchased. If your total equipment selected is too expensive (total is in red), the game will pick what it thinks to be the 'best fit' for what you can afford. Instead of your expensive 1h sword, you might find yourself with a middle of the road one.

Generally the game does a good job getting you what you want, but if your total is in the red, it is best to find the trade offs yourself rather than letting the game do it, but only if you have time.

There are now key bindings to select which weapon you want. If you select a shield it will put the shield away. If the last time you had a weapon that could use a shield, but the shield was put away, it will remember that 'setting' and not take the shield out again.

Rolling the mouse wheel down will always work your shield, and sometimes when you have a two hander out and want  to get a shield out to block an arrow NOW, just roll the mouse down, then afterwords select the proper weapon slot to change to it.

Dropping and Picking up Weapons:
When you press the drop weapon, it will place your currently equipped weapon on the ground. If you have a 1 handed weapon and shield out, the 1 handed weapon will drop first. With another press, the shield will drop. If you would like to just drop the shield, sheath your weapon first, then press the drop key.

To pick up a weapon, look down at it until you see a tool tip for it. Press your use key to pick it up. This weapon will go to the first available inventory slot, and be immediately equipped for use.

If you are carrying stacks of arrows or throwing weapons, make note of how many you have left. Currently throwing weapons come in stacks of four. This means if you have 8 weapons, you are using two inventory spaces. When you have thrown 4 weapons, you have a free space and may pick up another weapon. This works the same with arrow stacks as well.

Mount and Blade Combat Mechanics
Stuns - There is a slight stun mechanic in warband now. When you are stunned you can still block, but you can not attack, and your weapon is 'frozen' and won't respond to the attack button. Generally the stun is very short. There are several factors to determine when a stun occurs:

Most important now is 'chamber time'. When you hold the attack button down the swing stay cocked back, ready to be released. As you hold the button, you can see the sword come back, shift almost horizontally, and then sit in place. This small 'after shift' is your chamber time. It takes .6 sec to reach peak chamber bonus, and then falls down. At the peak of the chamber bonus, your stun effect will be 1.6 times normal. As you pass the peak, you will fall back down and stay at a 1.2 times stun effect bonus.

The short version is that,  if you want to stun, you have to hold the attack down a little bit longer before you release.

After chamber time, weapon weight difference is a big factor. If you swing a heavy weapon at a light 1 handed weapon, the stun effect will be quite noticeable. The greater the weight difference between weapons, the greater the stun effect.

Finally, of all the swings, overheads have the greatest chance of adding stun to the attack.

So, the best way to see a stun is to use a great axe with a chambered overhead attack against a blocking scimitar.

Crush-through - Generated similarly to stuns. I think blunt weapons are the only ones that can crush through. What a crush through will do is blast right through a person's block and do damage to them, even if holding a shield. In game play, what this means is that basically Rhodok 2 handed hammer's overhead hits will hit you no matter what, so stay away from them :smile: Generally try to avoid a large speed bonus and stay away from chambered overhead strikes and you can avoid this.

Weapon Sweet Spots
When you swing a weapon and try to hit someone just as the animation is released, it will do no damage and not interrupt the person you attacked out of a swing.

After a short moment in the swing it will do about 1/3 damage and interrupt.

Finally after that mark the weapon will do full damage. The sweet spot effect is slight and expires in probably less then half a second into a swing.

The reason for this is to prevent instant hits at the start of a swing if someone is standing right off to your side. It is also the reason that a point blank thrust will do no damage... because the weapon is touching your enemy, it contacts immediately, doing no damage.

Heavy armor will increase the effects of this indirectly. If you hit someone with the 1/3 reduced damage, armor can absorb or drastically reduce the amount of that already reduced damage even more. With a low damage weapon it might reduce it to a whiff. This means that the sweet spots are even more pronounced against heavily armored foes and you really have to hit someone who is armored out of the sweet spot to hurt them.

Also take note that some swing animations like the great axe or spear start way back over your shoulder, so it is very possible the 'sweet spot timer' has expired before the weapon even clears the line of your shoulders.

So while you should try hit on the early part of your swing, you shouldn't hit TOO early in it!

Location Damage
Depending where you hit an opponent with a weapon (arrows/thrown weapons especially) you will do more damage. Hits to the head do the most, hits to the body are in the middle, and hits to the legs the least. For reference, the head target area is the CHIN and up on the model, not the neck.

Generally in melee it is hard to aim up or down, but over time you will be able to see and aim for the head more. It is particularly good to try to strike helmetless opponents in the head, as they will take much more damage than their armored body (and consequently is a good reason YOU should take a helmet). Overhead strikes tend to hit the head more frequently than an aimed side swing, so think about those a little more when someone has no helmet.

Also, I believe the animation and noise when you hit the head is different. The enemy yells louder and will sometimes bring their hands up to their face in the hit animation, so that can help you tell when you connect to the head region.

Weapon Damage Types
(Will need help here, not 100% on weapon type differences)

There are three types of damage in Mount and Blade:

Blunt - All 2 handed hammers, clubs, and other hammer like weapons do this damage. Blunt damage has a chance to randomly knock down an opponent when you do damage to them. Blunt also can block crush given sufficient force from an overhead attack. (Can all types crush?)

Piercing - Any kind of thrusting swords and spears, as well as military picks will do this damage. Generally the damage numbers are smaller for these attacks, but they make up with it by ignoring more of the opponents armor.

Cutting - Sword slashes and axes do this type of damage. Generally the damage numbers are bigger here, but will do less damage against heavily armored foes, but more to lightly armed foes.


Sergeant Knight at Arms
Weapons and Armor:
Ok, so we have fired a game, picked our favorite faction, and are now staring at a dizzying array of weaponry and armor. What to do now? Well, here is a little bit about each weapon type to help you get started.

First, take note of the stats. The MAIN stats you want to pay attention to are weapon speed, and weapon length. More damage is better of coarse, but the speed and length of your weapon will play the greatest factor in your success.

(.850)Reordered categories and condensed a bit.

Here are the general weapon types you will run into:

1 Handed Weapons - You will find these on all factions and of all varieties. Except for some swords, most of these weapons do not have a thrust attack. All of these weapons may be used with a shield, but using the shield will slow them down. In general though, all of these weapons do lighter damage, have a short reach, weigh less, and are faster than most 2 handers (if used without a shield!). Be careful against 2 handers because they will stun you frequently and due to the short length, will be able to attack you first.

A quick run down of the 1h types:
Thrust Swords -  (Nord, Swadia, and Saranid) Versatile swords that have a thrust attack on them. Generally the variety is short and fast or longer and slower.
Non Thrust Swords - (Vaegir, Khergit, Rhodok) Scimitars are fast, but do light damage. Rhodok soldiers cleaver is more on par with the thrust swords' damage.
Maces - (Vaegir) Blunt damage, so they will knock people down randomly. 1H blunt weapons are too light to block crush.
Axes - (Nord, Khergit, Saranid) Extra damage to shields, will eat them up quickly. Reasonably fast, and good damage.
Picks - Piercing damage, so will hurt people in heavy armor more than cutting damage (swords).

2 Handed Weapons - Can not use a shield with these weapons. Many of these weapons have thrust attacks. They hit for large damage, are fast, and have a long range. Many are tagged with an "unbalanced" stat, which means that they are harder to pull out of an attack into a block and are a little slower to recover. Basically when you see this tag, try to be decisive in your decision to attack or defend.

2H weapon varieties include:

2H Swords - (Swadia) These have the same general rules as the 1 handed thrust swords, except they are slower, BUT the 2 handed variety are LONGER. Using a great sword, you even have a reasonably good chance of thrusting a guy off a horse who is charging you with a thrust. But your primary tactics here are to use your weapon length to hit at range, and to use the thrust as a 'get back' technique to keep people at bay and to score kills at a longer distance.

2H Axes- (Nord, Saranid) - Same shield smashing properties as the 1h axes. They are unbalanced so will not make strong dueling weapons. The Nord long axes can be switched into polearm mode with thrown weapon toggle button, allowing a thrust attack. In a crowd, the great long axes are devastating with their huge range and massive damage, but are slow and easily blocked by an aware opponent. They are capable of producing a lot of stun to 1h weapons if you hold the attack down slightly before release.

2 Handed Hammers - (Rhodok) Great hammers are heavy, slow, and short. They are unbalanced. They have the block crush on their overhead attack, which means generally if you can get close and land the slow attack, you will do damage. Because of this, most of your hits/kills will come from either hitting an unprepared opponent with an overhead, or stepping in and striking them after a close miss. Most of the time, you will not be able to out feint an opponent for a hit with this weapon.

Warspear - There are other spear types, but generally the warspear is the the weapon to take when you want a short spear. Warspears are very fast, do light damage, and have a long range in terms of melee weapons. They may be wielded with a shield, but can only thrust attack when doing so.  A spear + shield is a great defensive combination as you can quickly poke into foes as you back up, but will not stand strong on its own. Using the spear with 2 hands gives you very rapid, mid to long range attacks to overwhelm your foe, but does low damage. The spear with no shield is a very attack oriented weapon.

Awlpikes and Pikes - These are REALLY long spears typically used as anti cavalry weapons. Their range will be well beyond any other weapon. Pikes can not be wielded with a shield. They can only attack from an overhead or thrusting attack. The thrust is the primary mode to attack with.  These weapons make great crowd weapons when people are not focusing you as you can reach out and rapidly stab into already engaged enemies for high damaging attacks. But when horses are near, get near someone with a pike and let them do the work for you.

Street Sweepers - Just a note here, there are some weapons I call street sweepers because they do just that in a crowd. The ones that stand out the Vaegir Great Bardarchi, the Nord Great Axe, and Rhodok War Cleaver. For the most part these will one shot almost anybody and have a very long range. Just be careful when you see these weapons, as one slip up will usually end your life fast. When focused they are not very strong dueling weapons, but you still must be careful as they pack quite a punch.

Bastards - These are weapons that fit a role between a fast 1 handed weapon and a longer 2h weapon. They may be used with or without a shield, but bastard weapons are VERY slow with a shield out.  These weapons are at their best without a shield. Swadia has two bastard swords to use, and the Rhodok's have the morningstar.

Bastard swords are most dueler's preferred weapons since they are so versatile and can make you a threat at any distance. Morningstars are super slow but have some stun on the hit to 1 handers. They can be tricky in their slowness, but generally it is a poor weapon and the speed and short range will really hurt you.

Others - There are a couple I glanced over. Vaegir 2h clubs (like slow spears with knockdown), Rhodok Glaive (slow spear with more damage), Vaegir Bardarchi (like nord 2h axes). But judge for yourself, just look at the properties of each and you should be able to find their niche. I will mention the Saranid 2h mace though, it is fast, does good damage, has a thrust attack, can knock down, and will sometimes crush through 1h weapons. It is a great weapon to use for that faction.

Throwing Weapons - Javelins, wardarts, throwing axes, etc. Nord throwing axes do extra damage to shield as per all axes. Generally as infantry you want to have at least one stack of these on you as it increases your versatility exponentially. Remember in a pinch they can be switched to melee mode so you can block and attack. Sometimes their shortness can be deceptive for players, but in general you want to get a 'real' weapon out if you get tangled up in melee asap.

Not much to say about the left side of the screen here. Armor. More is better! Primarily select the body armor as your first choice for spending money. Head armor will help you survive archer's fire and thrown weapons to your face, as well as keep you up if you take a melee hit to the head. Make sure you check this column, as often there is some head gear available for only 6 denars or so and is worth grabbing.

Foot armor is again primarily for arrows. Generally the only time you will get hit in the foot is if someone is stabbing down (rare) or you are charging an archer / xbowmen with your shield up and they will be firing into your foot to get beyond the shield.

Gloves are there to give you a slight armor boost, but they cost a lot for not much gain. Might be worth it to sometimes get the first set of leather gloves, or more if you have excess cash (usually not often).

In the past armor encumbrance and weight would slow you down, now, the effects are so reduced, that there is really no reason to skip out on armor if you can afford it.

Battle Loadouts -
In DM you can generally goof around, but in Battle you will need to spend a little bit of time setting your equipment up for varied situations. As infantry, you are going to face 3 primary threats. In descending order of importance, Ranged Weapons, Cavalry, and other Infantry.

Ranged - Bolts and Arrows will come pouring in at you almost as soon as the round starts. Always try to block LOS between yourself and the other team if you can, but really at the end of the day what this means is that you are going to need a shield if you want to close with the other team. Take the strongest one you can get! Remember, if a shield is on your back, your back is protected from arrows.

Without fail, you will also get barraged with throwing weapons when you close to mid range with enemy infantry. Your best bet here is to dodge and LOS the thrown weapons, but most definitely have a shield up if you are near the front, especially if you want to advance.

Note, the low end shield will break fast, and can't take many arrows or melee hits, but they do get the job done. Also, if you take more than one shield, or heavy weapons (such as the great hammer) you will run much slower, so keep that in mind when picking a load out.

Cavalry - You may or may not have to deal with them depending on your focus. If there are just a few, the best you can do is have good situational awareness and dodge away if they come at you and hope your teammates have taken something to deal with it. Cav can be dealt with when you have a long weapon like a pike or spear, with throwing weapons (hit the horses head if you can to knock them down), or by staying clear and letting your ranged troops hit them. A well timed jump slash or thrust with a non pike weapon can kill riders as well, but generally this will only work against unaware or inexperienced cavalry.

Infantry - Here is everything else to deal with, and this should be your primary concern for your main weapon selection. Having a 2 hander out in battle is dangerous due to the threat from ranged weapons, so be reasonably sure you are 'safe' from ranged attack before showing it. Also, manual blocking more than one person is difficult, so if you find yourself out numbered, consider going back to your shield and 1 hander.

*NOTE* Costs are adjusted as patches are made. Throwing weapons are expensive now and you really have to commit to them to pick them up. The point here is that you can't start with all these load outs, but they at least give an example of what to think about while selecting your weapons.

So an example load out for a rhodok who wants to deal with cav might look like this:
Slot 1 - Military Pick
Slot 2 - Board Shield
Slot 3 - Pike
Slot 4 - Javelins

This way you can hang back a bit with your ranged guys, protect them from cav with your pike or by throwing javelins, then when infantry catch up to you, you can do reasonably well with your strong shields and 1 handed weapon.

A Swadian who might want to stay turtled up and close with other infantry might load himself out like this
Slot 1 - Arming Sword
Slot 2 - Heavy Shield
Slot 3 - free shield
Slot 4 - Which ever, another shield, blank to save for armor, a 2 handed weapon, or an awlpike.

A Nord who wants to play a tough throwing game might pick
Slot 1 - Hurscarl Shield
Slot 2 - Throwing Axe
Slot 3 - Throwing Axe
Slot 4 - Throwing Axe

Just remember to pick up your missed axes and don't throw them ALL away, keep one for melee!

Another load out for a Vaegir spearmen
Slot 1 - Warspear
Slot 2 - Heavy Shield
Slot 3 - Javelins
Slot 4 - Javelins or another shield.

But you get the idea here, think about what you want to deal with, and make sure you pick weapons and armor appropriately to deal with those situations. But above all, in battle mode, you really, really should take a shield.

The Art of Fighting and Getting Good™

So now that you are all ready to start cutting into your fellow players, the best thing you can do is find yourself a fast respawning game. I would highly recommend Deathmatch as a starting server type. The action is somewhat chaotic and frantic at times, but you come back almost instantly after death, and generally rack up a large amount of money to try different weapons and armor sets out. This is the place to learn and improve your general fighting skills.

Usually when I find I am having trouble doing things, for example, frequently missing targets with throwing weapons, I'll head over to deathmatch and load up with 4 sets of axes or something and just keep hurling them at targets until I get a feel for the aim/speed of them. Generally you will get run over by horses from behind and shot in the head from archers. This is ok as you will respawn in 5 seconds, and if anything, spending time here will net you a huge amount of situational awareness.

Also, spend just as much time if possible in battle, or Fight and Destroy modes. In these modes, for each round of play, you only have one life. These games are paced much slower, and to survive long, you will need a balanced set of gear to deal with the many situations you encounter. Further, good teamwork is essential, and proper tactical choices by your team are highly reward. When you start out, your best bet is to stick with the largest mass of players you see moving in one direction until you get a good feel for the pace of games.

Allllllright, enough with the basics. I find for action oriented games like this, the best types of strategies are the random collection of tips for what works in certain situations. There is no one way to beat a person in an action game, but instead it takes knowledge of all the strategies at your disposal, as well as the muscle memory to perform the actions, as well as knowledge of your opponent himself! So without further adue, random tips:

PATIENCE!!!!! Biggest bold font I can think of here. Waiting until you know the timing is good and carefully going in to strike range is what is going to keep you alive and give you the most kills. Yes, if you can do things fast with the same precision, all the better. But if you can do that, you wouldn't be reading this and probably know much better than me :smile:  But for any tip or thing you can do, keep in the back of your head, patience. There is a time to move fast and react fast, but wait until you identify those times, otherwise keep it slow and easy and wait for those good openings.

Archers - Frequently you find yourself staring at an archer far out who is lobbing arrows at you. The first thing you must learn when dodging arrows, is to recognize the sound and timing of arrow fire. Playing an archer really helps to learn it by heart. But basically, since the window for aiming is a small time frame after the bow is loaded (after the 'squeeeeeze' sound), the archer is going to have to shoot at this point. Not before, not after. So, as you are running, when you hear the squeeze noise, as soon as that finishes, strafe. NEVER JUMP. Jumping in this game makes you a ridiculously easy target and will net you an arrow in the gut. When you chose to strafe, pick left or right RANDOMLY.

When I say random, do not pick left, then right, then left, then right. Random is flipping a coin, 50% chance on each flip. This means you might dodge left 10 times in a row. Pick a random direction each time, and the archer will have a hell of a time hitting you. And yes, sometimes dodging is moving in a straight line, though that's not advised all the time.

When you get the timing down and are using a shield, after a missed shot, drop your shield (ie stop holding block) and run forward, this will increase your run speed slightly and get you there faster. Just make sure you get the shield back up before the archer can rip a shot off again.

A trick you can use sometimes is if you have a pike, keep it hidden until you get somewhat close, then tear it out when you get near and stab. Many times when they had time to get get one last shot off with your sword out, the range of the pike will narrow that window down and you can get a free hit or kill with the surprising extra range of your pike.

Now with sprint, try to keep that going as long as possible to close the distance, but keep your shield up. Without a shield, keep forward progress and don't swap weapons, its better to come at full sprint speed then to try to take out something different, unless it's a shield.

With the archer bump, it eliminates the stalemate of having your shield up and an archer having a drawn bow at point blank. When a player has a ranged weapon or a bow out if you run into their front, they will be 'bumped' and drop out of their aim animation. Many times you can close and bump them out of a shot, though only if you have a very short weapon. It is faster to just thrust ahead though since that has more range and can hit them before you would bump them.

You can also use thrown weapons, but they are less accurate and if you are not careful a good shooter can hit you mid throw. Generally it is just easier to get up close to the archer unless they are REALLY good then you might want to stick with a ranged weapon and gamble a bit more to take them down as fast as possible.

Finally, when you do start to melee the archer, you have to make sure you keep them in range. If they get too far away, they will take their bow out again and may be able to get in a foot shot or something to take you down before you can close. Keep that in the back of your head you have to stick within striking range (striking range being the time it takes you to close while they switch weapons, draw and release ).

Crossbowmen - With crossbowmen, all the same apply, except they can hold their shot forever. Generally they will get fewer shots on you, due to their reload time, so when they are aiming at you, do the freaked out monkey dance left and right randomly... *RANDOMLY*... until they pop a shot off. If you are close or have a bad shield, the bolt can penetrate and hit you. If they miss, drop your shield and run like hell to get up close to them, putting your shield up as they begin to re-aim at you. BE CAREFUL, some people will take 2, or even 3 crossbows and pull them out and fire at you in rapid succession.

Crossbowmen generally have shields, so be ready for a possibly long fight as you close, but usually they will be unable to reload the crossbow with you around, so you can just concentrate on melee with them.

Another common scenario is you standing in the field looking at a horse barreling full speed at you. If you are facing Swadia, chances are he has a great lance out that makes him able to stab you from half way across the map.  Horses moving fast can not turn very quickly, so often times if you see the horse at a distance you can move away from him enough that he will miss wide.

Your best bet is to be near a tree or rock or barrier. Stand on one side of it, and as they come up, move to the other. Play ring around the rosy with them using the tree.

Stand along walls. If a horse charges straight at you and misses, they will be stuck on the wall, and very vulnerable to you. If you are along a wall though, be wary of players making a charge parallel along the wall. It makes it harder to dodge since you only have one way to go, so be careful.

If you are out in the open, the safest spot as of this patch is right between the horse eyes. If they hit you, you will take little to no damage, maybe get knocked down, and maybe even stop the horse dead in its tracks. As of this patch, lances will 'bounce' over the horses head when cavalry are aiming, making the space in front of the horse a weapon dead zone. Just be careful as the horseman will be turning away from you to graze by from the side, so while you might be safe now, at the last moment, you may not be.

Down block if you have no shield. A down block will stop a thrust from a lance, but will NOT stop a couch. If they are couching, dodge, or use a shield. If the horseman is using another weapon, take note of his swing direction just like manual blocking on foot and block that way. You can even chamber block a weapon swing from horseback but the only thing that accomplishes is making you feel good about yourself :smile: The horse will ride past or bump you out of your swing before you can hit them.

If you have a ranged weapon, the most reliable way to stop them is to hit the horse's head. This may not kill the horse outright if you are an archer or they are not going fast enough. If you aim for the rider, it is a smaller target and you may miss or hit his shield.  If they go down, swing wildly into the ground where they slid. If it is a 'far slide' look about 3/4s of the distance you saw the char go, if it is a short one, chances are he is right where he looks on screen. I think with recent patches crazy slides are out and people seem to be about where they are on screen now, so just chop the body.

If you have a longer weapon, a pike, lance, or sometimes even a warspear or great sword, as long as you are careful, you can generally take out horses charging at you. Stab early with the pikes so that the horses run into it at the extremity of the thrust. It is generally safer to aim at the horses head since at the moment it'll hit that first, the horse will die, and the pike might continue right on into the rider.

If you can, dodge the lance hit like normal AND thrust. There is a lot of room for error doing this though, especially with a great lance, and you may be better off trying to get in the 'dead zone' in front of the horse.

In traffic, if you unhorse one player, let your teammates get the downed enemy (keep an eye to him though), but focus on what is coming NEXT. Very rarely does cavalry come in one at a time. Many times you might lance one guy only to have his friend come around the corner next and take you out. Keep your eye on the prize and the pike wall up.

If a horse is stopped at a wall in front of you... if you landed a solid hit with the pike, he is hurt, so back up slightly, and step forward into another thrust to unhorse or kill him. If it is a good player, generally aim for his horse, otherwise if you aim high you will probably be blocked and he may escape. In general getting him off the horse is the best thing to do as a priority.

If you didn't get a hit on him, two pike thrusts might not kill or unhorse him, so instead get your melee weapon out and work on him that way. If you have a 2 hander ready, jump and swing into the horseman from behind. If you are getting in close though, be careful, the horseman can still thrust a lance into you, or, take out a sword and attack like normal. Generally though when a horse rams a wall, you are free to stab into that horses butt until he goes down.

Good cavalry players will not charge you if you are facing them and set with a pike. They will wait until you are looking else where, or you just stabbed at, and /or missed another cav/player. One way to goad in a cavalry unit is to keep your pike hidden, until you see they are at mid range, then suddenly take the pike out and get ready as they close at gallop. Generally they can not turn or get away fast enough at this point, and, even if they do swing off, you can get a stab in to the horse's rear and do some damage.

You can also deal with this by 'playing stupid'. When you see the horse, just look another direction from it. If you have time use ~ to look behind you, but as they close, you have to have a good sense of timing for how close the horse will be. Seeing your attention elsewhere, they will usually charge you as fast as possible. At the last moment, spin, thrust, and usually net yourself a kill. Be careful you do not prime the thrust too soon or the turn rate limit will slow you down, or, if you do it too late, you will be couched. But keeping your back to the cav is a good way to draw them in (although risky).

TURN INTO YOUR SWING - This is something that will come naturally to you over time, but just to mention it here...turn into the swing. If you are attacking from left to right, face your character to the RIGHT so that as your weapon comes out, you hit them on the front arc of your swing. You really want to hit the opponent before you, and this means hitting them in the front half of the weapon arc rather than the end.

I've frapsed a few of my fights and watching them in slow motion, many of them I was just realizing I won the exchange ONLY because of my turning the weapon into the opponent. I've seen their swings come out first and coming for me, but only as I twisted into my hit did my weapon creep in and hit first.

--Spears and pikes make excellent assist weapons. The awlpike especially is a powerful poking weapon that can rack up the kills in traffic. The basic idea here, is to hover just out of range and behind teammates. When an opponent lifts up his weapon to strike your friend, you stab in and damage and interrupt him. If the enemy shows his side or back to you while chasing a team mate, you stab into him at range. Basically any opening you can find you jab into faster than they can respond. But be careful, if they close and/or focus on you, you are in trouble.

--Play stupid.  Sometimes if you are in a random melee, and catch someone on your peripherals  who came out of nowhere, DO NOT FACE HIM. Instead, think how the guy right now is giggling with glee that he is going to sneak up on you, probably just took out his big 2 hander and is holding it above his head ready to strike.  Well, just keep on jogging randomly around at the main action, again, when your 'inner timer' has gone off, turn with a right hand swing (thrust will be too hard to aim in your blind spot) and run at where the guy is. Generally they will not be ready for this and you will get yourself a kill and/or hit.

This ONLY works if you never looked at the guy and he thinks he is being clever. You can't look at a guy, turn around, then 'pretend' you didn't see him. You really do need to catch them out your sides and pretend to be focused else where for it to fool them.

--Going with the above, this does not work as well as it used to, but if you ever find yourself in a 5 vs 1 or similarly outnumbered and are running away, what you want to do is hit the second guy in line. Usually you will be running madly away, and see one guy in your face playing normal, shield up, waiting for an opening. Behind him will be 4 kill hungry players with their weapons cocked ready for the kill.

What you do is face the main guy, after he swings or when you feel you have an opening, start an attack, twist to face the next guy in line, and run at him. This sudden direction change and aggression change from defensive to aggressive will catch most players off guard and you often net a hit, or even a kill. Further, if someone does swing at you, you are in so much traffic that their attacks are bouncing off their buddies backs and they are acting as a shield for you.

With slower melee speeds and more experienced players this doesn't work as frequently, but attacking the guy in back will always be the best move to make overall.


Sergeant Knight at Arms

Additional Dueling Information:
Dueling Guide - More great information about dueling by nK_LordHasek
Corsair's Dueling Guide - Another great dueling guide targeted for the new to mid level player.
Guide to the Pike - A guide to the art of the pike, by Girl_with_Pike.

The convention of dueling is that you initiate it with a high block while looking at a player. They will respond by doing a high block of their own, and then the duel has begun. To have uninterrupted duels, you will have to find a server clearly labeled as a duel server, but occasionally people will call for a duel in a quiet corner of a deathmatch game.

In the following, I am assuming straight up melee advice here, assuming you are not using a shield, and are in a 1v1 fight, so no worries for interference from elsewhere.

If you want to be a strong dueler, you have to know how to manually block. The best place to start learning is either with a friend, or the tutorial against the melee fighters. You have to train your hands to react with a block in the correct direction when you see a certain swing animation. Becoming a strong manual blocker will be the most important thing you can do to become a good dueler. If you can not block, you will not be able to even see the back and forth of a good fight, or last long enough to begin trying to fit in a strike against an experienced player. At the very least, you should be very comfortable blocking single attacks, and blocking feints will come in time after that. You want your hands to just react with no thought.

I found that I had two stages of learning to block, at first I could comfortably block at mid melee range, but when someone got close, I had a lot of trouble seeing the arms and understanding the direction of the attack coming at me. I went back to the block tutorial and let the bot face hug me so I could understand the different ways the animation looked up close from above.

Another thing to practice is to walk backwards and circle strafe the bot while blocking, in this way you can learn mechanically to block while moving around and looking around. Sometimes just the act of trying to keep something in view will mess up your ability to block correctly.

Remember that players will swing faster and in general be more confusing than bots, so even with all that practice, try to be fast as you can to block the bot. Try to block very early in its swing. Tutorial bots have a sort of rhythm to them that is good for practice, but will mess you up against real people.

The best way to learn is if you have a friend who is very patient. Stand in front of each other and let him keep swinging at you. At first, have him put the swing up and wait to release it until you get the correct block set. As you get better start going faster, and later throw feints in. Eventually try to be moving around together while you are being feinted and block that.  Remember though that blocking is only half the battle, you will still need to know when you can strike, but having a solid manual block foundation is a must.

Choose your weapon
Swadia swords are an overwhelming favorite for duelists, but all weapons can be effective in the right hands. Swords are a strong starting choice since they have all 4 attacks, and are reasonably quick. . The Swadia bastard sword is a good weapon to start with, but you may want another weapon depending on your style or personal preference.

Weapon speed, weapon length, and to a small degree weapon weight play a big factor in your choices. Try to play to the strength of your weapon. If you pick a war spear, know that you will probably be attacking and feinting furiously. If you pick a longer two handed sword, you should play on the outside and keep good spacing and not try to trade blows inside. If you pick a fast 1 handed weapon like a scimitar, you should try to stay close and take advantage of the weapon's speed. Look at what the weapon is good for, and try to create situations where you have the advantage with it.

A Few Rules of Thumb
- Keep the enemy in view. You want to see their shoulders and hands and weapon so that you can read the next swing animation coming out. If you are looking at the ground, or your model is blocking your view of them, or off to the side somewhere because you got a little excited in your mouse movements, that is less time you have to recognize a swing and block it. So keeping your opponent in view is very important.
- Longer weapons control the first hit. They are longer, they will get there first, end of story. Of coarse, a player can mess up, and many do, but if the player does not mess up, no matter how fast you come up on a person with a longer weapon, they can hit you first, so be aware that you have to block as you come forward to those weapons.
- A "good position" on a swing is when you will hit them with the front half of it. This may change with the upcoming patches beyond .720, but as of now, to strike first, you must be standing so the first part of your swing will strike the opponent. This means that if you swing to your right, the opponent must be in front of you off to your right. Even when you do have good position, if you see that they are swinging as well, twist your view to the left so that you will add to the movement of the weapon such that it collides with them first. Establish good positions, especially with a fast weapon, and you will be sneaking many hits in.
- A player's strike range is the amount of space they can clear before the swing is done while moving forward. Remember that, especially when they have a long thrusting weapon, they can move forward and hit you when it looked like you were out of range when they started the swing.
- You can always kick a person moving forward first. At full speed you can not kick, so while they come up close, they have to slow down, then kick. So if you are backing up, if you stop and let them close the distance, you can kick them first. At this patch (.720) a kick followed by a swing when the kick animation is done will equal a free hit. So be sure to never facehug a person and keep a slight distance.
- Don't forget swing clambering. If you hold your weapon down and release it after .6 seconds, you will apply a small stun to the other player's weapon. This is more noticeable when you use a big heavy 2 handed weapon like a great axe or rhodok hammer, but the effect is still slightly present with the other weapons.

How To's

Deal with Feint Spam - This is when a player will aggressively feint in many directions, rapidly changing direction almost too fast to follow. You can emulate this by clicking your right/left mouse buttons rapidly and moving your mouse around. There can be reason to it, but in general the idea here is to create an unreadable mess of potential strikes, then, when the timing is right, let a swing go out of the confusion and land a hit.

This can be very overwhelming to handle especially if you are new to blocking. To deal with this, first you want to look at spacing. Remember that if someone is out of range of you, no matter their swing direction, they can not hit you. Generally the player doing this will inch up close to you as they feint all over, just to the point that they can release an attack and hit you while running forward. If you are aware of what that distance is, you can ignore the feint spam until they reach it.

Remember our first rule of thumb, that longer weapons control the first hit. This means that his strike range will overlap yours first, so you will have to block that feint spam if you want to engage. So try to stay near that imaginary line where his attacks can reach you, then cross it aggressively when you feel confident on the direction of his last feint move. With you coming at him strong, he will let go whatever swing he has chambered, and if you got your brain locked onto it, it should be easy to block. If the player chooses to go with another direction, you have time again to correct your block just like a normal feint.

If you have an equal length weapon, you also have the option to attack as you cross this boundary. So instead of waiting for a good block, wait until he is between feints, then advance over the line swinging. They player will generally have to block or take a hit, even if they try to swing. A thrust is a strong swing to use here as it has longer range, but remember you have to aim it. Also, if the player is experienced they may be waiting for it to chamber block you. So vary it up as usual, but a thrust into feint spam is a generally good attack to go with.

Deal with Chamber Blockers - A player that can chamber block you is very dangerous. Their swings will come fast and at unexpected times. Feinting will throw off a persons chamber blocks, but make your feint very quickly because if they swing to chamber block your first feint, their attack is still coming at you, and will hit you before you can start your second swing. If you do a very fast pump fake to prompt the chamber block swing out of them your second blow can often land.

The other way to deal with it, is to just hold your strike a half second longer. If you know the player is going to probably chamber block you, just hold the blade out there a moment longer then swing, it will bite right into them, and it is next to impossible (i'm sure someone'll learn how to do it :smile: ) to chamber block a swing that comes at a random time. 

So in summary, be unexpected in your swings, or hold the strike just a tad longer than normal, and you should have no trouble with being the recipient of chamber blocks.

Deal with a Great Hammer - Nothing is more frightening than a great hammer held in the overhead strike position by a player that is next to you. There is no way to stop it. Good players will not miss if you try to dodge left or right.

Lucky for you, the hammer is very slow and short. Stay away from it!

You can block left and right swings no problem, but will take some stun from it due to its weight. If a hammer user starts an 'early' overhead attack and comes at you, back up away from it.

If the hammer user wants to get close enough to hit you so that you can't get clear of the overhead attack, kick them, or if you have a fast weapon, attack. It is frightening, but if you keep away from it and kick/slash when it gets too close, the hammer will not be able to touch you.

Whatever you do, don't freeze up and try to block it. Even another great hammer won't always block a descending great hammer from your enemy, so kick it, or slash it away from you, that's the only way to save yourself from turning into a tent stake.

Player Styles
The most important factor in a duel is knowing your opponent. Here I'll try to categorize the type of players I've encountered and strategies that might be helpful to land a hit on them. If you do not know the player in front of you, then play like he is the new player for the first few blows of the fight until you can feel out his skill level and style.

But one thing to do, is try to find out what kind of player you are. Below I'll outline what to do against certain styles, but if there is one that really appeals to you or that you find yourself playing that way, really focus on it, and I think you'll have great results. If you are a fast twitch kind of player, don't try to be defensive all the time, learn to play your way, and you'll be coming up with your own sets of tricks in no time.

The New Player - The new player will close to range with you, and swing their weapon over and over again until either you or him are dead. This is what most players will tend to do at first as they are learning melee because they do not have any fear or knowledge of what could happen to them otherwise. Chances are this person might not be a strong blocker, yet they have been successful overwhelming people with fast attacks. Despite their apparent weakness at the game though, it is important to realize that if you try to do something tricky to this player, they will kill you. You can do the most aggressive/amazing feint known to mankind and they won't even understand what you are doing, just kill you and move on.

This means that for a new player / aggressive swinger, you must either strike first if you can via good positioning and surprise timing, or just block their first swing, then immediately swing back, most likely scoring a hit or kill. Be ready to block their next hit or, if the positioning is good, hit them again. Generally the fight will be over fast.

Remember, if you block their first hit, then decided to feint, their next hit will be in the air and you won't have time to block or hit the person back, and they will hit you.

Now, on to the more experienced player styles.

Aggression - This player closes to face range and will swing and feint aggressively. They are not like the feint spammer in that you can generally follow their feints, but they will move fast. Warband is interesting that it really does respond to your speed. If you click the mouse fast, thinks happen quicker, especially feints. In general you will know you are playing a person like this if you feel a large amount of pressure and / or fear as they come at you like a wild animal. The players that do this in a controlled manner are ones to truly be feared.

How you handle this largely depends on who you are as a player. In general these players tend to come at you fast and cause you to start backing up. You can often stop abruptly and let them catch up to you and kick them away to create room for yourself. I still have a lot of trouble with fast players, but try to follow the feints. Do not get lazy, even when you feel out of range, block the swing directions, as they can often hit you with the very tip of their weapon.

These players will feint, but usually mixed up with single swings as well. Because of this, these players also tend to respond really well to feints that you make yourself. I have found with aggressive players the fights do become to an extent hit trading in the sense that they feint and swing, then I feint and swing.

Sometimes you can surprise these players and channel the new player above. It is a gamble, but you can swing twice in a row sometimes and score a hit, or at the very least gain initiative and force them into a block, and to start thinking a bit more if they want to feint you, which can then make your blocking easier.

I need more tips against aggressive fighters, but in general things will happen fast. These players tend to be very offensively oriented, so if you can get them to slow down some way, by blocking them, by kicking them, by moving away from them, they will really start to focus on getting a hit in on you to the point that they will start leaving openings for you as they swing away at you madly. Fights against this player type are usually fast and furious to say the least.

The Turtle This style is overly defensive. They block anything you throw at them. Players who do this are often frustrating to play against as you feel like you are swinging at a brick wall, and just when you least expect it, they will lash out with a hit that will sting you, and go back into their shell again.

The turtle suffers the opposite problems of the aggressive player in that sometimes they are too defensive oriented. Often times if you can get very aggressive against them you can overwhelm their defense. If they hit you, keep pressing forward and brush it off, don't give them time to set up their blocks again.

The same general rule applies here, don't play their game, but force them into a place where they are uncomfortable.

Heavy Footwork I couldn't think of a good name for this, but this player is someone who will stay on the outside at that 'line' I described when talking about feint spam. This player will come forward aggressively when it is safe, and they will back up when they are in close and not in control. These types of players can be very frustrating to close with. You can sort of think of them as 'runners', but the better ones will stay tethered at their strike range so they can at any moment turn the tables on you and attack.

Fighting these players is mostly a normal duel, but with extra emphasis on footwork and range. It is important to not to get too aggressive in your pursuit of them. When you chase a running player it is very easy to get lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that they can't or won't hit you. But many will give the appearance of backing up, then start a swing, while reversing directions and coming right back at you. Remember, strike range is strike range, even if they have their back to you and are running away. Be ready when you are in theirs.

A player that will step back and make you miss your swing then close and attack you, and then retreat again out of range, is especially frustrating, and worse if they have a longer weapon then you. If you are in this situation, you will really have to work to get in close range, and then you may duel like normal. If you get too close or come forward too aggressively, you are very susceptible to kicks. They may even be able to move forward and kick you because you are so focused on getting in range to swing at them.

From my observations, players of this style are nervous when you are close to them and and will do whatever they can to clear out back to their optimum range. Lots of feinting on the inside and a good pacing of distance can really throw them off their game.


So, I hope this helps you get started dueling. There are many little things to learn, the most important of which is how to manual block and timing for when it is safe to swing. When you find yourself comfortable with this, then begins the trek to finding out what kind of dueler you are, and to start building a collection of tricks to land a hit against people. When you come against that strong opponent, prepare yourself for a long fight, establish a pattern with them, and then at the right moment, break it, and you can often land a hit against a seemingly impossible opponent.

But none of this can be accomplished if you can not block their attacks, so if you can take anything away from this guide, it is that you must train yourself to be a good manual blocker. If you learn this, it will take you very far as an infantry unit, and make you a deadly threat on the field to any player, in any game mode.


Sergeant Knight at Arms

This is probably the last bit of melee advice I have left in me after about a year of play. I think the bulk of what I write would be targeted for players who are about average in melee looking to move to the next level. I am not too sure there are many people at this point looking to put the work in to go to the next level, but whatever :smile:

This will mostly be everything I've come to learn about the game in melee, though with the caveat if you run into me while playing I am nowhere near up to practice in everything I talk about.

Which leads me to the first section, practice and preparation. To be successful at anything requires repetition and muscle memory, even a video game. The plus side is the barrier to entry is much less than a traditional sport, but none the less you won't really get better if you don't play semi regularly against talented people and are able to keep an open mind to continue learning.

If you play people worse than yourself, it feels good, but you won't improve as easily, and this is true for anything in life. When you do find someone better than yourself make sure you are analyzing why you died, thinking about your opponent's play style and what in particular it is about them that is giving you a hard time. Try to see if certain techniques should be incorporated in your own style or their style will influence your own.

Another key point in your performance is actually how healthy you are feeling. Did you get enough sleep last night, did you just come from the gym working out, have you been up until 5 am seven nights in a row? Most "professional" gamers include some sort of physical training in their routine, the more awake and alert you are, the clearer your mind and the faster it can process events around you.

That said in most areas I don't think warband has this level of competition that you need to run 5 miles a day and live in some starcraft player farm, but it is something to be aware of. I've had moments where no matter how hard I try I just am playing like crap, I'm feeling tired, in a crappy mood, bored with the game, whatever. On those days, nothing works, but other days I'm relaxed and blocking everything thrown at me quite easily.

Battle vs Duel
I am not a great battle player, but I've dueled plenty of great battle players. After just a short moment in a duel, you can usually tell where a player has learned their craft. Battle players tend to come at you aggressively with quick hits and few feints at a somewhat frantic pace. They are usually very clean with their timing, not venturing into the realm of 'weird'. This reflects the nature of where they learned to play, the fight has to happen fast and you need to break your opponent's defense down quickly before circumstances change, being sure to maintaining awareness of everything around you.

A duel is different in that you can focus solely on your opponent and have a slower pacing to wear down your opponent. In a duel the problem is right in front of you and the only person who can overcome it is yourself.

So a dueling will help you gain confidence in yourself and your abilities, but everything you learn while dueling may not apply to your chosen game method (if it is other than duel of coarse). There is much to be said for focused practice, but make sure that you have a healthy dose of 'real' game play as well, ultimately your time is best spent where you want to excel.

One of the concepts that really changed the way I played Warband was understanding that melee fights at their core have everything to do with timing.

When learning the game, blocking is difficult, people might have trouble blocking overhead attacks for example, or later on when learning to chamber block people might think doing so against left/right attacks is too hard. At that level overcoming the basic mechanics of the game is the challenge and we tend to structure our play around that idea. I know in my case when I had trouble blocking overhead attacks, I used to perform overhead attacks thinking they were more difficult for people, while that may not have even been close to the truth.

A really strong attack to use against a person is to run to the right of someone with a left swing. This is hard to block (when NOT using inverted blocking direction at least) because to track the block you must turn left to face opponent while at some point you need to flick the mouse back to the right, set your block, then continue back to the left to keep tracking the attacker.

If you don't keep your target centered (as the blocker) the attacker will move past your shoulder and strike your back, so you MUST turn in addition to blocking the opposite way.

This style of attack works great against many beginners, average players if executed well enough, but good players will pick up the block and turn with no problem, and suddenly an attack like this isn't quite as viable. Good players can perform the movements needed to defend without thought.

So these sorts of tricks, things like spinning 360, face hugging, wrapping around people, they can only work so long, eventually you will run into someone who has seen it all before before and easily defend against them.

I'm not saying don't use these types of attacks ever, I'm just saying that attack patterns that aim to confuse via direction or control difficulty are not enough to overcome everyone you will run into. Honestly this stuff will work just fine for most anyone all the time, even catching good players unprepared. The more tools in your tool box the better, but we are in the ADVANCED melee tutorial, right? :wink:

The most important take away from this idea is that only using techniques that create difficult control situations has a limit, as soon as you find an opponent who can handle the controls nimbly enough, those techniques alone are not enough to win.

Attack Options Revisited

You can read up in the primer how I originally thought of the swing directions, but now a days I think of them a bit differently. When choosing a swing direction it has a lot to do with their range, the location of my target, speed,  and any stun/crush properties. Try to think of this as just a different way to think about your swings beyond the basics and the ideas behind it more so than anything.

Thrust - This attack has the most range, and most of the time I use it to hit at max range. With a spear I sometimes will use it for its pierce attack for increased damage vs heavy army. Most players think to attack with a thrust at first due to this range. You should know if the person has a longer weapon than your own, if you have a heavy bastard sword and they have a two handed sword and you both thrust at the same time, you lose. You need to know this.

If you try to thrust someone point blank it will whiff, you have to 'miss' with the thrust then swivel it back. Many players use this technique all the time to disguise their attack.

Side swings - I pick the swing that is closest to my opponent. Occasionally when trying to wrap around a person I pick the opposite side, though this hardly ever leads to a hit, but I like it for fun pace changing. But again if a person is to your left, use a left swing, if they are at your right, do a right swing.

Overhead - For its stun. The longer you hold down the attack (IE chamber it) the  more stun inflicted. If you have a weight advantage with your weapon, a charged overhead followed by a horizontal swing in spam attack fashion will often score a hit. This is gimmicky though and better players will know to block the second hit.

Jumping - When you jump, you accelerate faster than when running on the ground, but there is a pause as you land. Overall you cover less ground when you jump than if you just run, but for the duration of the jump, you are moving faster.

You use a jump to suddenly accelerate in a certain direction. This is really the only way in the game to 'lunge' or dodge a horse or something. A use for this might be used to escape out a player's attack range so you have enough time to turn and face them if you had somehow lost track of them. When fighting multiple people and I accidentally let them surround me, you can use a quick jump to clear someones attack range while you block a closer player.

Above all, jump == SPEED, that is its primary purpose in a melee fight.

When is a player defenseless, and when is a good time to hit them?
- Right after you kick him. Kicks are harder to land than in the past, but when you do last one, a person is vulnerable for an IMMEDIATE follow up attack and can not block it.
- Thrusting a player as they kick. When a person kicks they may block all directions except down. So if you thrust a kick they can not block it and will be hit.
- Close range thrust chamber blocks. If you are close enough and chamber block a thrust attack with your own you will strike them. If they have a long weapon or are backing up they can step out of range of the attack sometimes, but this is a way to hit someone.
- The back half of a swing. When you attack, you can right click to cancel the attack until about half way through its swing arc (less time for unbalanced weapons). After you pass this point in your swing, you MUST finish the swing, you can not defend at all.

If two players have the same attack speed, if player B swings just a moment after player A, and player A misses his attack, player B's weapon will hit player A in this 'dead zone' No way to block at all.

The best way to intentionally hit someone like this is when you have a longer weapon and you time your swings correctly, basically swing just after they swing, sort of like chamber blocking.

Priority - Who Goes First?
(Priority as a term stolen from Draygo, sounded much better than what I was calling it :smile:  )

Basically, who gets to attack? Who is in control of the attack, and consequently the duel?

There is a simple way of thinking about melee attacks that is quite obvious,  but I think it still must be stated clearly, as when it comes to the forefront of your mind while fighting it can be very powerful.

There are basically two key parts to a weapon attack. The weapon starts in neutral. You click the attack and you bring the weapon back to a chambered position. When you hold the attack button you stay at this point. Release the attack button and you swing the weapon in its arc.

You could say that the speed of your attack, or time to hit, is chamber time + swing time = hit. IE the time it takes to go from neutral to chambered position + the time time the weapon takes to swing from chambered position to the point it strikes something.

Now, think about the implications to this...

If I get you in my strike range with a chambered swing ready to attack, and your weapon is at the neutral position, there is no possible way you can attack me without getting hit, you MUST block. I have priority and control of the fight.

Before I talk about this stalemate more, I want to briefly talk about your strike range. I define this as the ground you can cover with your next attack. If you looked at a player overhead and drew a circle to represent their threat range, it would look like a lopsided circle.

If my weapon is at neutral, and I left attack while running forward, the longest distance away from me I can strike is slightly off to my right. Basically it is whatever ground I can cover before the sweet spot takes effect at the end of  the swing arc.

At neutral, my threat range is larger, because my weapon has to come up to chambered position first, then start its swing arc. If I have my weapon already chambered, I can't cover as much ground before the weapon swings past the target.

Now, most players will not let you run up to them with a chambered attack, in fact this really is something a lot of beginners do. Not only do you telegraph your attack, if you are showing overhead, left, or right chambers, your foe will most likely thrust since he has range on you, and you must block or be hit.

If the player that is getting attacked by the guy running up with his chambered attack decides to attack you with a left/right/overhead swing, he must make sure to get his weapon to a chambered state before you are in strike range, or he will be hit first. Most of the time you don't want to take this risk though, and most people will just thrust at you for the free attack.

But simple, as you are running up with this telegraphed hit, you have predicted the thrust, you block, and now you control the next move for a brief moment. If you now bring your weapon to a chambered position and HOLD, you now have effectively dictated the pace of this fight. You stopped it in its tracks, dead.

You hold a left swing, the opponent holds a right block, hes backing up, you are moving forward, with more speed so you are always in range, he can not really escape you unless you let him.

The only way for the defender to escape his role as defender is to somehow get HIS weapon to a chambered position. If this happens, the only thing determining who hits first is where you are standing in relation to the swings, but basically its pretty even.

So as an attacker doing this, run up to someone, hold your strike, and wait for their character model to twitch. As soon as it does release your swing and you will strike first, they must block or be hit.

Like any technique this can be messed up if you don't react in time. Plenty of times I get in this position as the attacker and someone just swings and hits me because I fell asleep at the wheel and didn't release my swing.

The Warband Clock
So I have this theory about us Warband players and I've sort of named it the Warband Clock. It is basically the timing that the game naturally imposes on us while performing the standard block and attack rhythm we see so often in shield on shield combat.

I think of this as something we all have to learn first to start understanding the game and learning the basics, (weapon ranges, swing speeds etc), then as we get better, have to throw it away, but in the process it becomes a part of how we play the game.

This held strike stalemate mentioned in the last section fundamentally breaks this internal clock that tells us basically when we should be attacking or defending. Consequently it is also one of the few ways you can control the pace of a fight and can slow it down or speed it up as needed.

If we just exchanged a series of 3 or 4 attack sequences involving at most 1 feint before attack and suddenly I hold my last strike in this stalemate, it messes everything up.

The defender here must stop, stop and hold a single block, no click blocking, just hold down that block button. Personally, I mess up most of my hold strikes where I wait for the player to drop their guard because I don't have very fast reflexes. What I do instead is release the attack right at the time a person's warband clock tells them to counter attack.

Think of an exchange between player A and and B in a series of time blocks with the following actions by the player.

T0 - A, attack
T1 - B, block
T2 - B, attack
T3 - A, Block
T4 - A, attack

Now the hold strike, which works somewhere in the middle of an exchange looks like this:
T0 - A, attack
T1 - B, block
T2 - B, chambered attack held
T3 - B, hold attack (A block)
T4 - B, release attack (A attack)

In the () is what A would normally be doing, what the clock is urging us to do. If B holds his attack for the duration that A would normally be performing a block and instead releases at the time when A would be attacking, B will most likely score a hit.

The early rapid exchange of blows puts players in reactive states where muscle memory is driving actions, not what they are actually seeing on the screen. A will most likely release their block to counter attack right before B's weapon impacts them.

Not many people play like this, so not many people really defend well against this style of attack. I'm finally starting to see players somewhat understand how to defend against this more often as a lot more players are now up to speed on their dueling/melee abilities, but none the less in the middle of a frantic battle, slowing the pace down is incredibly powerful.

But above all, remember to not let your muscle memory rule you, and to instead re ct to what you see in front of you.


Hold Strike as a Counter
This discussion of hold strikes naturally leads into chamber blocks. The common mantra is that hold strikes are the natural counter to chamber blocks. I strongly agree with this as chamber blocking a held strike is very difficult simply due to the times you have to react.

To chamber you must swing just after an attack is released. If a person is feinting or using single attacks, there are wind up times to the attack, giving you time to prepare for a chamber block.

The amount of time you have to see a swing coming from highest to lowest are:

1. Single strikes from neutral - Weapon must travel from neutral to chambered, then swing to you. The 'slowest' attack and most time to prepare a chamber block.

2. Feint - Weapon has to travel from one chambered position to the next, or if it was a 'swing feint' (attack release, then block to cancel the attack) it must travel back to a chamber position, then on to the next chamber position.

3. Held strikes - As soon as they release you must react. This is the most twitchy style of chamber blocking and takes really crazy good timing.

Now most people still call 1 impossible, and I can chamber feints (2) if it is a lead in attack (IE feinting a lot before moving into threat range) or if I'm really switched on. Most of the time though I can not chamber held strikes (3).

The only person I've seen initially chamber my held strike was my dueling partner who just did it out of familiarity with me since I tended to release my held strikes at the same time all the time. (Had to change up my release timing after that :wink:)

Anyway, the point is, held strikes are hard to chamber because the window of time to recognize and react to the strike is so small. If the server is set to fastest swing speed the timing windows are even smaller.

Why Chamber Block?

So why chamber block? Besides the thrust chamber that can grab an unblockable hit, they can do something else much more subtle, and that is to basically steal an opponents priority.

Lets examine some time tables when both players using bastard swords. When I first was learning to chamber, one thing I noticed was when a player attacked me with a right feint into left swing, and I attempted to chamber block the initial right swing, I would hit still hit them.

The timings worked out such that my weapon would strike them just a bit before their weapon would hit me, meaning the timings were really close, enough to make it hard to judge. In addition to this, when feinting around your fingers/brain are typically committed to continuing the motions, so unless it is really obvious you are going to get hit, you continue with the motions.

Since many people do not chamber block you on a day to day basis, many players are not trained to recognize that they must cancel and block the incoming attack.

Look at one of my dueling videos, about 13 seconds in against NJ_Blak is a perfect example of this timing (which I put in slow motion hoping people watching would pick up on what went on there). Blak goes into a quick feint, and I swing to chamber block his first attack. I let the attack go and he continues his feint into swing. Blak is a good player and recognizes he is going to get hit by my weapon first so pulls out to block, but he still didn't get the correct block out in time to prevent getting hit.

This is really the power of chamber blocking against aggressive feints and something you have to be wary of when fighting someone who can utilize chamber  blocking.

Note this timing only works with left/right swings. Remember that overhead attacks are slower. So, if a person attacks you with an overhead then feints to a left swing, and you in defense swing overhead to chamber block their first hit, HIS hit will hit you first! Your overhead chamber swing is slower than your left/right/thrust attack, you yourself must pull back and block in this situation.

Further, with the left/right swing, I started testing this early on when I found out about the timing, and I found that a 'fast' feint, IE, you basically show right swing, then cancel before the weapon has even made it all the way up to the fully chambered position, and change to the left attack, you hit the person trying to chamber you.

Really take away there is if you are fighting the Star Wars Kid, you shouldn't try to hit them on a chamber attempt this way...

"Stealing Priority"

Against the masses, a chamber block will usually net you a hit since they were not prepared to defend at that moment in time.

The chamber block fundamentally breaks the above mentioned rules for priority. If my opponent's weapon is at some point in their swing motion ahead of me, where they have priority (IE will hit me first), I must block. But, if I chamber block their attack, suddenly this rule is broken.

My weapon was at neutral, theirs chambered, but I swing with timing to block their attack, and now mine is coming at them, right between those nice neat time blocks that the warband clock has set in our heads dictating when to look for blocks.

Really great players will still block you, either they are used to blocking chamber blocks because they play stronger players often, or they just are great at blocking everything coming at them.  I still get hit by chambers all the time because I haven't run up against a heavy chamber blocker in a while. I know I fall into the trap of being on auto pilot, it takes a lot of work to break out of the clock's imposing pattern.

So at the end of the day, you can use a chamber block to save yourself when you've lost priority in the duel and gather back the offensive, and is a good way to keep players honest with their feints and punish predictable attack routines.

Putting it all Together

Lets come back to a fight where both players understand all of these things. How do you attack this person? What is safe?  If you lead with a single strike they can chamber you. If you feint, they will chamber you, forcing you to defend. If you hold strike you force a slow paced stalemate.

This is often the conundrum when trying to attack a great player. Think about those horrible spam attacks you see out there in servers, sometimes those swings come fast, faster than you are used to. Unfortunately for most of us, great players operate at that speed. They are not constantly swinging but their brain is deciding what to do a few steps ahead and their fingers are reacting flawlessly to what they want to do, chamber this, swing, oh no I will get hit, block, now attack, now feint, etc. As the situation changes they just react IMMEDIATELY.

So how do you deal with this? Well first rule of them, which sucks, is generally if you can't match their basics, IE they can just block and attack with 1 feint here or there more consistently than you for a longer period of time, you'll just lose, nothing fancy to it, all this stuff I just talked about means nothing.

But say you guys are both reasonably equal in ability, how do you approach this fight? This depends on your personal style at this point, for what works for you.

So I tend to flip around how I play depending on my mood and have different approaches. One way that I think will appeal to a lot of people is pure aggression.

I've tried to define at one point what aggression actually is. This is a video game, right? But, I've had plenty of times where people have asked me while dueling if I was angry and pissed off, when I really was IRL. It's kind of amazing that you can actually get your emotions across the internet like that without any words at all.

There was one time when some chick from dominos wouldn't deliver to my house even though I am 2 minutes away but in another town, she was such a jackass about it on the phone, it just sent me on a rager. Meanwhile I was in the middle of dueling at the time and when I got back on the PC right after, I was invulnerable. I was this whirling demon of terror, every action in game took too long to complete, every attack at me was slow motion, every free conceivable second I could take back control of the fight I took it and attacked. The person I was dueling basically told me I was making him afraid the way I was attacking and he could feel my anger pouring though. 

Anyway that only lasted only a few minutes until I cam back to reality, but that is adrenaline for you. I guess the same way that when things get hectic in real life and they slow down can transfer over to the game.

So after that experience, I started being aware of the fact that some players made me afraid in game, and I was trying to figure out wt is it about a character model in a video game that could make me feel fear, what were they doing that caused that tension, and how do you duplicate it when you don't have a snotty 16 year old cblocking you from getting pizza?

After a bit I came to determine that control and fear came from your ability to do things faster than another person. Depending who you play against, the speed you are moving starts to reflect your opponent. Play a bunch of beginners and they do everything slow, you don't really have to think or react very quickly because they aren't offering up a lot of stimulus and it rubs off on you. When you stumble on a good player, suddenly they are forcing you to react to things in half the time you are used to, and this can catch you off guard and get you killed quickly.

The other part of it is pacing. In most duels/fights, players attack in a series of blows then retreat to re-asses. This is often a mutual respite, maybe you got in to an unfavorable position and want to 'reset', or you just needed a break.

If I try to clear out and my opponent won't let me, they keep attacking, keep the pace up, this can get really stressful, you already made a decision to clear out and take a break, and it is really hard to let go of decisions you make in the heat of the moment.

Ever play a fighting game where you decide you want to throw someone, and despite getting pummeled as you keep trying to close the distance you keep trying to get that stupid throw, and can just basically lose the whole fight because you couldn't decide to stop trying for that pointless throw? It's sort of like that.

Aggression can also lead to some funny situations. Have you ever found yourself so in charge of a fight that they let you feint up to 10 times before they even react? You can tell when a person is virtually 'on their heels', you can see it in hesitation in what their character is doing, at this point you can really just swing feint the crap out of them, eventually one of those swings will look good and you just let it go, bam.

So to generate that aggression, you have to feel it, be aggressive, give them no time to react, go faster than them, stay up in their face pressuring them every second you get.

Example Aggressive style attack sequence

With everything mentioned so far, you can't just walk up to a person and start doing all this stuff. You need to develop the fight for a moment before you start trying trickery. You have to increase the pace to the point that they are moving on pure reaction time.

One of my bread and butter attack sequences was rapid up and down shifting of the pace of the fight. I would start out the fight getting right in my opponent's face (minding the kick of coarse :smile: ), using single swing attacks. That is about as fast as you can get in the block/swing game in someones face.

So a few single swings as fast as possible, too many and you risk getting chamber blocked, which can mess everything up. After this next comes a hold strike. A nice, long, slow, freaken hold strike. If you want you can twitch it every now and then like you are going to attack to get them to drop their guard. So either you hit them on a good release of the hold strike, or if not, you have forced them to slow down.

Dropping from feint/fast attacking/blocking mode into standing there and holding left block is maddening, especially when you want to be moving FAST.

So after a good slow pace is set, release the hold strike, then immediately spam attack, don't block, just attack again while you continue wrapping around them.

This will hit a lot of players because they came down from really aggressive attacks and had to slow their system down to hold that block, which means when you attack from the hold strike at an unexpected time, they aren't prepared to counter immediately, giving you time to get your spam attack in.

If they block the spam attack you need to judge now, did they just barely block it? If so chances are they are in defensive mode, on their heels, probably trying to clear out, this is when you press aggressively and try maybe 2 or 3 swing feints depending if you think they will hit.

That is a pretty strong sequence right there and it's basically one I use all the time.

It doesn't always go right, new players will ignore feints, good players will recover faster and not let their timing get shifted around as easily, or they might just play at a slower pace themselves eating up your aggression.

In general as people get better at melee you can manipulate them much more easily than beginners / average players, so again when it comes to them, sticking to the basics will usually yield the best results.

This is honestly my favorite way to play melee recently, and it's something I really want to explore, but it is also pretty damn hard to find situations where you are out numbered and either allies don't come to your rescue or someone doesn't hit you in the head with a javelin or arrow.

When you are up against multiple people you have to remember that you can only block one person at a time unless you luck out and they pick the same swing. You can rapidly block one person than another a split second after sometimes, but generally you want to reduce the amount of incoming weapons that hit you at one time.

Here are a few things I try to keep in mind as I'm engaged by a group.

- Let the group come to you. The more aggressive they are the better off you are going to be. If you press too deep into the group, then try to back off, you won't clear out in time and get surrounded easily.

- The groups generally end up with one lead guy who is always in striking range of you, and others rapidly trying to catch up to either hit you or to surround you. The longer you can keep just one person near you the better.

- Keep your focus outwards. When I play I hyper focus on the person in front of me, in a duel this is fine, and in most other game modes you can keep half attention on the surrounding area and react, but when you have a group coming at you, you really have to keep your attention on the outside of the screen.

I've noticed a huge difference when I am able to keep half attention the guy closest to me and pay attention to the pack behind me. In a sequence where I block the lead guy, then have to block an approaching player, it feels like a hectic and last minute block. If I am keeping my attention half on the close guy and half on the guy closing behind him, the feel of that hectic block changes entirely to a really easy and predictable block. It is a subtle thing, but I think it is the main mindset you need when getting swarmed.

- If a right and a left attack is coming in at you, hold down a block, then keep it held down but turn your character model to block the second attack, this can sometimes save you and be faster than selecting each individual block.

- If you mess up and find a guy on your left and right both in striking distance, I've gotten out of this jam by holding a side block, facing the weapon towards the area between them and then heading full speed into the gap. The abrupt cutback will catch them by surprise and they'll most likely both swing horizontally at you, and if your weapon is in place you can luck out and catch both weapons with one block.

- Force predictable attacks for position. There are times when getting chased down I will block an attack from the lead attacker, then immediately turn directly for someone else. I am safe at my back because I know I have a moment that the lead attacker can not strike me, and I know the person I charge at will most likely just swing, but I will be ready for the block, giving me more time to position near him. This is a good way to create space around the edges of a group and discourage flankers.

- Long one hit kill weapons excel here. Having the killing power in one or two hits and being able to reach out and hit more people as you are retreating can make all the difference in the world when thinning the herd.

- Offense becomes defense in this place. At times when two or more people can hit you at once by having your weapon out to strike you can paralyze one player long enough to come back to block the second player, then block the first player you 'froze' with either an attack or outstretched weapon.  It is hard to explain but basically by staying an offensive threat you force people to slow down their wild charge and buy yourself time to block or get to a position where only one player can hit you.

- A 'bad' player up front can be the best thing for you. Slow and easy to predict attacks make it easier for you to concentrate on better players behind him, at the same time the bad player is in the way most of the time. Although you might see openings to kill him, it is sometimes better to keep this guy in the lead position and work through the people behind him as opportunity presents.

- There is just something about how all the timings of people's attacks work out that give you some key openings. Your 'body posture' is very important and you always want to give the appearance of solely dueling the lead attacker. Most players who are trailing in the pack want to attack you at the same time as the lead guy, or right after, unfortunately for them, since you are usually moving constantly, they won't be able to get close enough in time.

This means that if you block the lead attacker, then twist abruptly and thrust at the second guy in line, chances are he will be in the middle of trying to get up and strike you and won't be ready for you abruptly stepping in his space to attack.

-Cracking the walnut, as I like to call it. It is some weird phenomenon where if you hit one of the non lead people, you cant hit anybody else in the group by just swinging at them. It is weird and I haven't stopped to puzzle out what phenomenon of timing is going on, but seems to happen the same way every time.

I call it cracking the walnut cause I can be running away from 3 players with no time to hit anything for a while and suddenly I catch a guy in the back of the pack, I turn and swing at the lead guy again and then kill him as well, then I can still usually swing at the 3rd guy for a final 'spam' swing which they usually block at this point, but then there is a 1 on 1.

I've seen that play out a lot, it might not be the safest thing in the world but generally when you catch one person, you can catch a second before you have to get back defensive.

-Try to give yourself as much time between blocks as possible.

All this dueling stuff I basically had time to talk about and practice by having an amazing dueling partner who has been better than me at every turn of my skill level. So instead of playing in a huge pub game I'd just start up a server on my PC and duel for an hour or two, try different approaches, refine and fix huge holes, and then try wacky things and refine them into usefulness.

I mean no matter what I write, to get really good at the game you just need to love playing it, and have people at your skill level or above you to keep pushing you farther.

Anyway, yeah that is about everything I know about warband melee fighting. There's a lot more to know for sure, and honestly I think I make a better teacher than practitioner for sure. I don't think at this point I have anything more to add the art of swinging swords at one another except this:

Defense, defense, defense. There is no guard break in warband. The only unblockable attacks are close range thrust chamber blocks, and a kick followed by a slash. After that any time you get hit it was because you failed to understand the timings of the swings coming at you and/or you failed to get the block set. (Well if your ping is bad that is an excuse too :smile: ).

But think on that, every technique that you can execute all starts with a solid blocking foundation. Understand threat ranges, know when you are out ranged, know when the other player's weapon is closer to hitting you than your own, and you are untouchable.

I write all this stuff about dueling and fancy tricks, but as a player I still fail many times in simple hit trading exchanges with other players with nothing fancy going on at all.

Solid execution is all that matters at the end of the day.


N° 22
Impressive effort, there.

tl;dr version:

1) Buy weapon
2) Swing wildly
3) ???

Skot the Sanguine

Sergeant Knight
Hehe, melee Gnomes.

This is an excellent guide Reapy, well done.

A bit of advice I will give in addition is regarding fighting multiple opponents, especially in tighter areas.  If you are fighting two or three people alone in close range, often there is one who will step back to wait for a moment to strike (or someone else might come in and wait for a moment to attack, like an archer)...I often take a moment in the chaos to strike them, since they neither expect that and also they are probably the most dangerous to you.  Also, the kick is your friend in tight spaces...use it.

Bastard swords ftw!


nice guide Reapy - now I just have to read, practice it all.

that and watch out for Reapy's Warhammer of doom


Master Knight
So what would you guys say it all boils down to?  For me, WB combat is all about distance control, timing, and knowing your weapon.  Also, knowing when NOT to charge in flailing is huge.


N° 22
That about sums it up. Distance control and timing allow me to make up for the fact that I never bothered to learn manual blocking. :razz:


Master Knight
Nor I, sadly.  It's not as vital as some people think, but it puts a big hole in your combat prowess.  I need to spend more time in a DM server practicing this, but that mode usually just makes me rage.  :???:


Sergeant Knight at Arms
That seems like it is it really. When you come down to it it still lacks a lot of options in the fight. You either wait for the miss or close and do the manual block thing.  Granted manual blocking is sort of exciting, but its essentially a guessing game at the end of the day.

When I wrote the part about the 'safe' thrust in, it really sank in from last night about the lack of options. I had some good fights going and it got to the point where, when holding the same swords, either you have a funny guessing game on the outside for the position / timing, or you lead with a thrust to close and play the manual block game. That was about it.

I'm not really consistent or great about doing what I wrote, but I can't really find too many other options. I am hoping there will be more to come in later patches.


Master Knight
I, personally, would like to see stabs slowed down a bit, though not to where they were.  I feel that they remove a bit of depth from combat.  Originally, a stab was a surprise move with good range and damage, yet easy to block if the opposing player was expecting it.  Very strategic.


Sergeant Knight at Arms
Right, it already has the best range already, it doesn't need to snap out as fast as it does, AND some of swords 'hang' out there, so you can walk into a thrust you thought was done or have it turned into you. Most of my kills and deaths from a sword come from the thrust, which is telling.


Master Knight
Reapy said:
AND some of swords 'hang' out there, so you can walk into a thrust you thought was done or have it turned into you.

That's especially a problem with spears.  The period during which damage can be dealt needs to end as soon as the stab animation completes.


N° 22
Reapy said:
AND some of swords 'hang' out there, so you can walk into a thrust you thought was done or have it turned into you.

Ohhh how I hate that. Happens with other thrusting weapons as well, truly infuriating since it seems to do full damage!


Master Knight
It's one of the major problems with the spear/shield combination currently, and it's why doing away with the turn speed caps will not fix spears, as some have argued.


Master Knight
Great job Reapy! A good read even for an [rusty] infantry "veteran".

I will add:
feinting and attacking on the same side will often mess up the timing of noobs. Against more advanced players, you should go ahead and do the normal, feint right, attack left for your first attack, but then feint right, attack right next time.

Scientia Excelsa said:
So what would you guys say it all boils down to?  For me, WB combat is all about distance control, timing, and knowing your weapon.  Also, knowing when NOT to charge in flailing is huge.

Yes, distance, range, and timing are probably the most important things (and things that I am kind of rusty at right now :???: ). But don't forget that the best players are very often the best manual blockers (for example Urist, test, and Rhade).

A HUGE part about it though is knowing when you should set your mind on blocking and when you should set your mind on attacking. I think Reapy pointed that out well here. There are certain situations where you need to just focus on blocking every blasted thing swung at you. Then there are times when you need to just focus on just hitting that blasted enemy. A really big part about being good is knowing when to play defense and when to play offense.

Also, Scientia Excelsa, if you want to ever practice manual block or another aspect of melee let me know. I've got some drills that are good for working on certain things (btw, did you read my melee articles on the "you know what wiki I'm talking about *wink wink*"?). I also really wouldn't mind helping the less-skilled HOBOS improve their melee as well.

I will also add that I too think there needs to be some other way to attack/defend than just swing/thrust and manual block. Now there is the kick which is good. I keep thinking that there needs to be some way to knock the opponent's weapon aside or control it or something.
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