Over 100 hours in the game - my first impressions, experiences and ideas for improvement

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Having bought this game as a X-mas gift for myself and I am having a blast. The graphic is crisp and immersive although I might want to have some more maps for the fights. During fights I miss a map feature to realize where I and my troops are. I get lost during my favorite combat activity - chase down horse skirmishers while on horseback - be it Imperial Buccellarii or Khuzait Horse Archers - just let a gang of Aserai Mameluke Heavy Cav follow you and pick them off before they are getting annoying. And swinging a two-handed sword from horseback is nice as well.

So...regarding combat:
- overall it is nice, the last UI change with the combat orders, however, is not to my palate
- combat map is missing or at least an arrow that points at my troops

The start is a bit tedious, which is o.k. - you might want to explore Calradia and get a feeling for where what resource is needed in order to trade efficiently. Trading prices depend on many factors. It is usually a wise thing to buy goods at villages and bring them to cities that need them. A good idea is to find out, what workshops exist and what can be found in the near vicinity and what not. Usually, a town has 3 or 4 villages connected and nearby castles count as well so villagers will come and sell the produce in the city. Depending on what this is, the prices may vary. E.g. if a city has a village nearby that produces fish, you will be able to purchase fish quite cheap even in that town and have a hard time of making a profit there with fish unless you are very good at trading. Depending on the relations to the settlement the prices might vary. I found out that if I help out a village often and get bonus relations to them, their prices will drop or generally be better. In that regard the scouting skill is notable. On level 2 (?) i.e. 50 levels of scouting you can pick a perk that will either raise relations to villages or to craftsmen in towns just by visiting. In the long run the perk is pure gold as it unlocks better troops with that notable and with that higher troops tiers. In the early game it is a good thing to buy small quantities of goods that give a good margin of profit. These are - in my opinion: tools, jewellery, silver ore, iron ore and leather. You can easily make up to 100% profit if bought and sold at the right places. This even gets better, as selling at good profit gives lot of trade XP which in turn reduces the trade penalty (resulting in better prices for you) and some perks even support this idea depending on your style of trading. Also, prices will raise, if caravans are intedicted and supporting villages raided as the goods now not reach their destination. Sieges and war raise demand for edibles so you can even make a pretty penny with those, if you have a surplus in stock. Lords will buy great amounts to keep their armies and sieges use up much of it. Raiding even makes a staple commodity like grain even scarcer.

In my experience, you gain trade XP for selling goods at profit, not plundered items. If you are a bit adept at smithing, you might even pinch the last penny out of your loot. At 25 levels of smithing you can choose whether to get 3 charcoal for 2 hardwood or make more iron out of iron ore. I always prefer the first. The reason: Hardwood sells quite good at some places and by whacking looters you might always have an ample supply of 'wooden hammers' and 'wooden pitchforks' which you can 'smelt' for 3 hardwood. Their selling price is much lower. So spend a charcoal, get 3 wood and...instant surplus wood + smithing XP. Gets better with 'efficient charcoal maker' where you can get 3 coal for 2 wood which could give you 9 wood for the price of 2 so 7 surplus hardwood out of 3 rather worthless wooden items you get lots of. Selling the weapons just nets some pennies. Cities with a carpenter (wood workshop) have a higher demand for hardwood so expect good prices there for selling. Remember, that more than one character can smith and you might specialize them so you have a steel-maker, a coaler, a good smelter for getting recipes. You need to click the character face and can use any family member/companion at the smithy's.

- smithing can be profitable. Use any resource you have to gain wealth unless you are landed and have lots of income. It is just not too intuitive and in case of 'smelting' wooden weapons almost comical although abstraction is in order, yes.
- check the related villages of a town. You can get a basic information on what items might there abundantly and which not. Also, check out the workshops. A good hint is looking at the notables 'X the brewer' or 'Y the wintner' might indicate the presence of a brewery and wine press. Otherwise, run around a bit in town, press ALT and see, what exists.
- negative: to buy a shop, you must find and visit it. If I could access this point over the quick talk menu, it would be less tedious.
- Resources are somewhat logically placed. You get salt and fish at the coast and wood near forests. Regarding animals, you can buy hogs and cows better in the north of Calradia and sheep in the medium hills of the empire. Horses are best bought at the Khuzait steppes and in the Aserai deserts.

Focus point system is good. You only must understand the golden rule: you earn XP for stuff by doing it. Things you either set your focus points and raise the corresponding stats will just advance quicker. Stuff done behind learning limt will even be slower in progress than normal. Things I focus first are almost always Stewardship, Trade, Bow (engage stuff with less danger for you), Riding (because you are mostly mounted) with some odd 1-2 put into stuff like favorite melee weapon, roguery, leadership, smithing, charm

Army composition and maintenance is a point that becomes difficult in the early game. Troops comsume food and money and you do not have much of it. You want them to level and then again you don't because they will get more expensive in turn. Most times, they also slow you down unless you have spare mounts for them. Sumpter horses and mules do not qualify. This makes it quite hard to raise even a small force and hunt down looters. If you are good, you can solo greater numbers of looters but are unable to prison them as you need more battleworthy troops to hold more prisoners. Large numbers of horses without handlers also hamper movements (herd penalty). Rule of thumb: one troop per animal. Aim for a small band of 10 and gradually buy horses for them. Desert horses or steppe horses are fine for that and you might get good prices, if you help the villagers. A good mission to do is 'deliver the herd' or 'army of poachers' to get quick relation levels. 'Landowner needs laborers' can be good as well, if you are good at capturing looters. Have troops with blunt weapons. That way you only knock them out. Raise medic skill to doctor's oath so it also applies to the enemy.
Normally, you will get lots of looters and they are only good for five things:
- take their stuff -> money and goods
- sell them to the ransom broker -> raise roguery skill
- cannon fodder/animal handler
- transform them into imperial infantrymen upon experience - some perks give troop XP passively which is a safe way of training low tier troops and a horde of imperial infantrymen will become a good number of imperial legionaires. You will need 175 levels of Leadership, however, which is quite hard to get, if you do not know how.
- If you have a fief, put them into your dungeon and keep them there unless one of your subjects wants 'laborers' as a mission. You can sell a lot of them for relation and 5 times the money.
Stewardship skill just builds up naturally and directly influences the number of men you can have. Just have troops and supply them with a constant variety of food - which is good for the morale. Good morale results in leadership which will boost morale in turn. The initial high morale is the tough nut to crack. Skill like gourmet (double troop morale for food variety) helps and being a merc and helping other lords in battle gives good morale boosts. Rule of thumb: the harder the fight won, the better the morale.

You want the faction-related special units like Khuzait Khan Guard or Battanian Fian Champions? If you are lucky, you can get the low tier units resulting in those at villages and town where you have a good reputation. A better way of getting them is hunt bandits and recruit them into your army. This can be done in two ways:
- fight them and take them prisoner. Each day there is a chance that they will turn and you can recruit them from the prisoner menu. However, the higher the tier, the less likely they convert. tier 5 to 6 almost never convert so ransom them instead or get the perk that doubles chances for tier 4-6 converting
- have an intimidating army so they will offer to get 'hired' instead. Forest bandits are splendid for that cause. They are slow enough to catch and make excellen bowmen at tier 3 (Bushwhacker -> Freebooter -> forest bandit) and will become Battanian Fian Champions eventually once you get warrior's honor skill (Leadership tree at level 175).
If it was upon me, I would rank them: Forest bandits > Sea Raiders > Mountain Bandits > Looters (because they are abundant) > Desert Bandits (usually too fast to get) > Steppe Bandits (same here, only worse). To get steppe bandits either raid encampments or intervene in fights they do like attacking caravans and villagers.

To level up some troops you need horses and not any.horse will do. With 'horse' the game does not mean work horses like sumpter horses, but especially those marked as "horse". You might want to always have desert and steppe horses in your inventory to quicken your infantry in overland movement and for getting higher tier troops. High-tier troops need war horses explicitely. Steppe war horses are the cheapest of those while I would not waste Aserai horses for that (which come at about 1,4k per horse).

Training your first troops is a bit time-consuming and costs money both in wages and in promotion costs. If it was upon me, a viable way would be:
- get 10 'horses', 10 mules and 10 recruits of your choice. Do caravan stuff and engage looter groups of 4-5 looters. They are not very dangerous, but they throw rocks and recruits do not have shields so you will lose an odd number quite quickly, if you do not help them. Stewardship comes automatically over time as you maintain and feed troops and then either use 'combat tips' or 'raise the meek' to passively give XP until they reach the next tier of troops. Those have shields and will whack down looters quite efficiently if they outnumber them. At higher tiers they even will throw javelins and one-shot the looters. Or you can go all-archer style and shoot them down. Expect losses if you are unlucky as low tier bowmen will miss often and have NO shield to protect him. Better to raise another 5-10 archers once you have your core infantry. Cavalry is very good to hunt down fleeing troops or to shock them and cause them to flee. But either you recruit someone with a horse (Aserai Youth, Khuzait Noble Son, converted Highwaymen or Desert/Steppe Bandits) or promote them via giving them horses: in my book mounted archers are more versatile than melee cav. Do not have too few of those and do not let them go gung-ho as even looters can put on a fight and 'stone' them to death quickly (remember how quick you go down in the early game? Same for them as they only wear t-shirt grade armor at low tiers). Golden rule: do NOT use 'send troops' unless the bar is filled almost completely to your favor. Autoresolve gives odd results like the only casualty is the only fian champion in an army of 50 men versus 10 looters. You almost exclusively lose high-tier troops and this is not worth it for the training grind.
Having a medic companion (X Willowbark, Y the Scholar) helps keeping the men in the game since it turns 'killed' into 'knocked out' results. Do not forget to assign the medic role via party menu in 'clan' menu. One thing I realized was the 'train troops for X' mission gets harder, the better your troops are. They are quite the kill-stealers and on their own the borrowed troops die like flies, even versus looters.

The only things negative I think is the autoresolve option which produces odd results, the roguery skill not working properly. I have not observed getting XP for having bandits in my army although it is stated there in the skill description or it is so marginal it won't make an impact. Better ransom prisoners. The more gold you make, the quicker you raise in levels and there are some that give extra XP for bandit troops and reduce their wages. Supports my preferred way of troops acquisition (get bandits for profit). The last thing to voice critique is the leadership skill. In my opinion it is crucial to train and support troops but too hard to get in the beginning (morale is quite a thing and decays faster than you can build it up on a regular base).
What works is: have a companion and give him a party (hurts purse as upkeep is high and he will recruit every men and his little brother to reach max troop size regardless of you getting broke!). Then call him into your army for 0 influence and keep him there and voilá: more troops to command in battle and steady flow of leadership XP.
I miss behavior settings like 'only roam certain places', 'preferred engagements: Looters, caravans/villagers, enemy lords' and a cap for recruitment. Yes, I KNOW you can lead 80 men, but I just want you to have 20 archers and keep it that way! Make an end to auto-recruit behavior. How to assign a companion as a captain anyways? Have not foung out yet as I am in charge of every battle I lead and if not, my battlebrothers mostly go gung-ho so I am forced to help out quickly to prevent unnecessary losses.

The one thing giving me strokes of anger is the stupid faction AI. Being a vassal is a torture mostly as your liege does strange stuff on a whim. First, if you pledge loyalty be prepared to have a stash of money available - otherwise stay merc for a bit and buy workshops and caravans. If you do not have one already, you will receive the castle conquered last. Do not expect them to give you towns and they crap on the habit of 'you conquered it, it is yours by right and tradition' like in the predecessor. Any fugitive low-life defected lord of other factions would rather get it than you. But a small castle at the border with looted villages and zero loyalty? Yes, what a splendid gift for my new vassal! Good idea...really! He will obvioulsly hold it on his own once I declare war on the former owner in five minutes againLOL. See? That is the stupid thing, the AI does: declaring wars at random. No consolidation of fiefs conquered, no non-aggression pacts, RNG diplomacy with dire results. And the fiefs even are a liability, even more with rebellions coming next in the main branch. I mean, what good is a 0 loyalty castle with two looted villages? Loyalty penalties stack up: wrong governor culture, looted villages, low food (which is a direct result of looted villages, low security which is a direct result of settlement being conquered recently) with NO viable way of redeeming the situation by building stuff (you either do not have enough gold in the early to mid game to boost or the low loyalty gives a too high penalty on construction. Low security should result in more criminals appearing in the fief with even a bandit hideout spawning which will hurt villages because their villagers are attacked -> less wealth -> less taxes -> hurt city economics and low loyalty should lead to dropping relationships to notables in fief resulting in low-tier troops at low amount and rebellions only occurring in worst case scenarios. Bandits hunted down could result in a temporary security buff (crackdown on crime) in the fief.
But the worst thing is arbitrary declaration of wars. We can only do hedgehog tactics and train good troops and defend feverishly the one castle we got to whether the crap our glorious leader has decided upon. Otherwise, wars can be lucrative.
Regarding AI flaws: Why do my caravans go through lands my faction is at war with and get caught regularly wasting 15k of gold every time?! Why can't I toggle the lands the caravans will visit to mediate the danger? Regarding this, the game has lots of potential to get better. Why do my companions just join wars and waste my money, my troops and themselves in engagements they are not made for? The only way to prevent this is keep them in my army. Companions should rather gather and train troops for me and rid my lands of bandits - or at least this ought to be adjustable.

Getting governor skills for a leader is quite useless as you cannot directly govern a castle. What it should do is while staying in a settlement add governor boni the acting governor does not have thus aiding him while you are there. Currently, I do not feel anything done in that regard.

Last point: minor factions. What are they good for? Yes, they are the mercenary groups but they are a nuisance, really. Sometimes I do not even know, why such a faction hates me and what to do against that as I cannot do jobs for them or do diplomacy like "leave my stuff alone!". Currently, they are a source for combat XP and a source for weird troop types to have in my army. And a source of frustration when they capture one of my caravans again in a land my faction has peace with. I cannot even go to their hometown and recruit their special stuff like go to the Beni Zilal and get their Bedouines directly instead of fighting them and capture their stuff and convert it later. Why can't I hire a band of them for gold and have them patrolling my lands?

Still, early access, yes - so I hope, things will get better over time and not the cosmetical ones.
 
Last edited:

Shun

Squire
WB
Having bought this game as a X-mas gift for myself and I am having a blast. The graphic is crisp and immersive although I might want to have some more maps for the fights. During fights I miss a map feature to realize where I and my troops are. I get lost during my favorite combat activity - chase down horse skirmishers while on horseback - be it Imperial Buccellarii or Khuzait Horse Archers - just let a gang of Aserai Mameluke Heavy Cav follow you and pick them off before they are getting annoying. And swinging a two-handed sword from horseback is nice as well.

So...regarding combat:
- overall it is nice, the last UI change with the combat orders, however, is not to my palate
- combat map is missing or at least an arrow that points at my troops

The start is a bit tedious, which is o.k. - you might want to explore Calradia and get a feeling for where what resource is needed in order to trade efficiently. Trading prices depend on many factors. It is usually a wise thing to buy goods at villages and bring them to cities that need them. A good idea is to find out, what workshops exist and what can be found in the near vicinity and what not. Usually, a town has 3 or 4 villages connected and nearby castles count as well so villagers will come and sell the produce in the city. Depending on what this is, the prices may vary. E.g. if a city has a village nearby that produces fish, you will be able to purchase fish quite cheap even in that town and have a hard time of making a profit there with fish unless you are very good at trading. Depending on the relations to the settlement the prices might vary. I found out that if I help out a village often and get bonus relations to them, their prices will drop or generally be better. In that regard the scouting skill is notable. On level 2 (?) i.e. 50 levels of scouting you can pick a perk that will either raise relations to villages or to craftsmen in towns just by visiting. In the long run the perk is pure gold as it unlocks better troops with that notable and with that higher troops tiers. In the early game it is a good thing to buy small quantities of goods that give a good margin of profit. These are - in my opinion: tools, jewellery, silver ore, iron ore and leather. You can easily make up to 100% profit if bought and sold at the right places. This even gets better, as selling at good profit gives lot of trade XP which in turn reduces the trade penalty (resulting in better prices for you) and some perks even support this idea depending on your style of trading. Also, prices will raise, if caravans are intedicted and supporting villages raided as the goods now not reach their destination. Sieges and war raise demand for edibles so you can even make a pretty penny with those, if you have a surplus in stock. Lords will buy great amounts to keep their armies and sieges use up much of it. Raiding even makes a staple commodity like grain even scarcer.

In my experience, you gain trade XP for selling goods at profit, not plundered items. If you are a bit adept at smithing, you might even pinch the last penny out of your loot. At 25 levels of smithing you can choose whether to get 3 charcoal for 2 hardwood or make more iron out of iron ore. I always prefer the first. The reason: Hardwood sells quite good at some places and by whacking looters you might always have an ample supply of 'wooden hammers' and 'wooden pitchforks' which you can 'smelt' for 3 hardwood. Their selling price is much lower. So spend a charcoal, get 3 wood and...instant surplus wood + smithing XP. Gets better with 'efficient charcoal maker' where you can get 3 coal for 2 wood which could give you 9 wood for the price of 2 so 7 surplus hardwood. Selling the weapons just nets some pennies. Cities with a carpenter (wood workshop) have a higher demand for hardwood so expect good prices there for selling. Remember, that more than one character can smith and you might specialize them so you have a steel-maker, a coaler, a good smelter for getting recipes. You need to click the character face and can use any family member/companion at the smithy's.

- smithing can be profitable. Use any resource you have to gain wealth unless you are landed and have lots of income. It is just not too intuitive and in case of 'smelting' wooden weapons almost comical although abstraction is in order, yes.
- check the related villages of a town. You can get a basic information on what items might there abundantly and which not. Also, check out the workshops. A good hint is looking at the notables 'X the brewer' or 'Y the wintner' might indicate the presence of a brewery and wine press. Otherwise, run around a bit in town, press ALT and see, what exists.
- negative: to buy a shop, you must find and visit it. If I could access this point over the quick talk menu, it would be less tedious.
- Resources are somewhat logically placed. You get salt and fish at the coast and wood near forests. Regarding animals, you can buy hogs and cows better in the north of Calradia and sheep in the medium hills of the empire. Horses are best bought at the Khuzait steppes and in the Aserai deserts.

Focus point system is good. You only must understand the golden rule: you earn XP for stuff by doing it. Things you either set your focus points and raise the corresponding stats will just advance quicker. Stuff done behind learning limt will even be slower in progress than normal. Things I focus first are almost always Stewardship, Trade, Bow (engage stuff with less danger for you), Riding (because you are mostly mounted) with some odd 1-2 put into stuff like favorite melee weapon, roguery, leadership, smithing, charm

Army composition and maintenance is a point that becomes difficult in the early game. Troops comsume food and money and you do not have much of it. You want them to level and then again you don't because they will get more expensive in turn. Most times, they also slow you down unless you have spare mounts for them. Sumpter horses and mules do not qualify. This makes it quite hard to raise even a small force and hunt down looters. If you are good, you can solo greater numbers of looters but are unable to prison them as you need more battleworthy troops to hold more prisoners. Large numbers of horses without handlers also hamper movements (herd penalty). Rule of thumb: one troop per animal. Aim for a small band of 10 and gradually buy horses for them. Desert horses or steppe horses are fine for that and you might get good prices, if you help the villagers. A good mission to do is 'deliver the herd' or 'army of poachers' to get quick relation levels. 'Landowner needs laborers' can be good as well, if you are good at capturing looters. Have troops with blunt weapons. That way you only knock them out. Raise medic skill to doctor's oath so it also applies to the enemy.
Normally, you will get lots of looters and they are only good for five things:
- take their stuff -> money and goods
- sell them to the ransom broker -> raise roguery skill
- cannon fodder/animal handler
- transform them into imperial infantrymen upon experience - some perks give troop XP passively which is a safe way of training low tier troops and a horde of imperial infantrymen will become a good number of imperial legionaires. You will need 175 levels of Leadership, however, which is quite hard to get, if you do not know how.
- If you have a fief, put them into your dungeon and keep them there unless one of your subjects wants 'laborers' as a mission. You can sell a lot of them for relation and 5 times the money.
Stewardship skill just builds up naturally and directly influences the number of men you can have. Just have troops and supply them with a constant variety of food - which is good for the morale. Good morale results in leadership which will boost morale in turn. The initial high morale is the tough nut to crack. Skill like gourmet (double troop morale for food variety) helps and being a merc and helping other lords in battle gives good morale boosts. Rule of thumb: the harder the fight won, the better the morale.

You want the faction-related special units like Khuzait Khan Guard or Battanian Fian Champions? If you are lucky, you can get the low tier units resulting in those at villages and town where you have a good reputation. A better way of getting them is hunt bandits and recruit them into your army. This can be done in two ways:
- fight them and take them prisoner. Each day there is a chance that they will turn and you can recruit them from the prisoner menu. However, the higher the tier, the less likely they convert. tier 5 to 6 almost never convert so ransom them instead or get the perk that doubles chances for tier 4-6 converting
- have an intimidating army so they will offer to get 'hired' instead. Forest bandits are splendid for that cause. They are slow enough to catch and make excellen bowmen at tier 3 (Bushwhacker -> Freebooter -> forest bandit) and will become Battanian Fian Champions eventually once you get warrior's honor skill (Leadership tree at level 175).
If it was upon me, I would rank them: Forest bandits > Sea Raiders > Mountain Bandits > Looters (because they are abundant) > Desert Bandits (usually too fast to get) > Steppe Bandits (same here, only worse). To get steppe bandits either raid encampments or intervene in fights they do like attacking caravans and villagers.

To level up some troops you need horses and not any.horse will do. With 'horse' the game does not mean work horses like sumpter horses, but especially those marked as "horse". You might want to always have desert and steppe horses in your inventory to quicken your infantry in overland movement and for getting higher tier troops. High-tier troops need war horses explicitely. Steppe war horses are the cheapest of those while I would not waste Aserai horses for that (which come at about 1,4k per horse).

Training your first troops is a bit time-consuming and costs money both in wages and in promotion costs. If it was upon me, a viable way would be:
- get 10 'horses', 10 mules and 10 recruits of your choice. Do caravan stuff and engage looter groups of 4-5 looters. They are not very dangerous, but they throw rocks and recruits do not have shields so you will lose an odd number quite quickly, if you do not help them. Stewardship comes automatically over time as you maintain and feed troops and then either use 'combat tips' or 'raise the meek' to passively give XP until they reach the next tier of troops. Those have shields and will whack down looters quite efficiently if they outnumber them. At higher tiers they even will throw javelins and one-shot the looters. Or you can go all-archer style and shoot them down. Expect losses if you are unlucky as low tier bowmen will miss often and have NO shield to protect him. Better to raise another 5-10 archers once you have your core infantry. Cavalry is very good to hunt down fleeing troops or to shock them and cause them to flee. But either you recruit someone with a horse (Aserai Youth, Khuzait Noble Son, converted Highwaymen or Desert/Steppe Bandits) or promote them via giving them horses: in my book mounted archers are more versatile than melee cav. Do not have too few of those and do not let them go gung-ho as even looters can put on a fight and 'stone' them to death quickly (remember how quick you go down in the early game? Same for them as they only wear t-shirt grade armor at low tiers). Golden rule: do NOT use 'send troops' unless the bar is filled almost completely to your favor. Autoresolve gives odd results like the only casualty is the only fian champion in an army of 50 men versus 10 looters. You almost exclusively lose high-tier troops and this is not worth it for the training grind.
Having a medic companion (X Willowbark, Y the Scholar) helps keeping the men in the game since it turns 'killed' into 'knocked out' results. Do not forget to assign the medic role via party menu in 'clan' menu. One thing I realized was the 'train troops for X' mission gets harder, the better your troops are. They are quite the kill-stealers and on their own the borrowed troops die like flies, even versus looters.

The only things negative I think is the autoresolve option which produces odd results, the roguery skill not working properly. I have not observed getting XP for having bandits in my army although it is stated there in the skill description or it is so marginal it won't make an impact. Better ransom prisoners. The more gold you make, the quicker you raise in levels and there are some that give extra XP for bandit troops and reduce their wages. Supports my preferred way of troops acquisition (get bandits for profit). The last thing to voice critique is the leadership skill. In my opinion it is crucial to train and support troops but too hard to get in the beginning (morale is quite a thing and decays faster than you can build it up on a regular base).
What works is: have a companion and give him a party (hurts purse as upkeep is high and he will recruit every men and his little brother to reach max troop size regardless of you getting broke!). Then call him into your army for 0 influence and keep him there and voilá: more troops to command in battle and steady flow of leadership XP.
I miss behavior settings like 'only roam certain places', 'preferred engagements: Looters, caravans/villagers, enemy lords' and a cap for recruitment. Yes, I KNOW you can lead 80 men, but I just want you to have 20 archers and keep it that way! Make an end to auto-recruit behavior. How to assign a companion as a captain anyways? Have not foung out yet as I am in charge of every battle I lead and if not, my battlebrothers mostly go gung-ho so I am forced to help out quickly to prevent unnecessary losses.

The one thing giving me strokes of anger is the stupid faction AI. Being a vassal is a torture mostly as your liege does strange stuff on a whim. First, if you pledge loyalty be prepared to have a stash of money available - otherwise stay merc for a bit and buy workshops and caravans. If you do not have one already, you will receive the castle conquered last. Do not expect them to give you towns and they crap on the habit of 'you conquered it, it is yours by right and tradition' like in the predecessor. Any fugitive low-life defected lord of other factions would rather get it than you. But a small castle at the border with looted villages and zero loyalty? Yes, what a splendid gift for my new vassal! Good idea...really! He will obvioulsly hold it on his own once I declare war on the former owner in five minutes againLOL. See? That is the stupid thing, the AI does: declaring wars at random. No consolidation of fiefs conquered, no non-aggression pacts, RNG diplomacy with dire results. And the fiefs even are a liability, even more with rebellions coming next in the main branch. I mean, what good is a 0 loyalty castle with two looted villages? Loyalty penalties stack up: wrong governor culture, looted villages, low food (which is a direct result of looted villages, low security which is a direct result of settlement being conquered recently) with NO viable way of redeeming the situation by building stuff (you either do not have enough gold in the early to mid game to boost or the low loyalty gives a too high penalty on construction. Low security should result in more criminals appearing in the fief with even a bandit hideout spawning which will hurt villages because their villagers are attacked -> less wealth -> less taxes -> hurt city economics and low loyalty should lead to dropping relationships to notables in fief resulting in low-tier troops at low amount and rebellions only occurring in worst case scenarios. Bandits hunted down could result in a temporary security buff (crackdown on crime) in the fief.
But the worst thing is arbitrary declaration of wars. We can only do hedgehog tactics and train good troops and defend feverishly the one castle we got to whether the crap our glorious leader has decided upon. Otherwise, wars can be lucrative.
Regarding AI flaws: Why do my caravans go through lands my faction is at war with and get caught regularly wasting 15k of gold every time?! Why can't I toggle the lands the caravans will visit to mediate the danger? Regarding this, the game has lots of potential to get better. Why do my companions just join wars and waste my money, my troops and themselves in engagements they are not made for? The only way to prevent this is keep them in my army. Companions should rather gather and train troops for me and rid my lands of bandits - or at least this ought to be adjustable.

Last point: minor factions. What are they good for? Yes, they are the mercenary groups but they are a nuisance, really. Sometimes I do not even know, why such a faction hates me and what to do against that as I cannot do jobs for them or do diplomacy like "leave my stuff alone!". Currently, they are a source for combat XP and a source for weird troop types to have in my army. And a source of frustration when they capture one of my caravans again in a land my faction has peace with. I cannot even go to their hometown and recruit their special stuff like go to the Beni Zilal and get their Bedouines directly instead of fighting them and capture their stuff and convert it later. Why can't I hire a band of them for gold and have them patrolling my lands?

Still, early access, yes - so I hope, things will get better over time and not the cosmetical ones.

Just a small comment about arrows pointing to troops on the battlefield, if you hold the ALT-key, your formations will be visible as icons on the hud.
 
O.k. - having reached the 800 day mark in-game the situation is as follows:
It is becoming a chore. I was awarded Tubilis Castle and I am vassal of the Asaid. Main quest failed because guess what - it had a 10 year timer. In the meantime I have managed to get all castle upgrades. Yet, I cannot leave Tubilis area. Why?
Battania has gobbled up Vlandia and western Empire while Khuzait have wiped away Sturgia and the northern Empire. Southern Empire holds both Castles around Husn Fulq and the City of Ortysia. Guess what? I am in a continuous state of war. I cannot do anything else than running around my castle whacking random SE or Battanian lords trying to raid my villages. And even my own liege does not keep peace even if he lacks the troops to wage war. Playing the Pokémon game with them I lock them away in my castle just to see them escape again and again despite 300 militia and a crack force of 200 T5+ soldiers garrison next to my 200 T5-T6 soldiers. Meanwhile my AI is lost while it cannot decide to take action like conquering border castles. Nope, it wastes armies running around errantly while small bands of nobles play the raiding game and are cought by Battanian armies rushing to lay siege to my castle (which never works, but that is another thing). The Aserai armies do such useful stuff like trying to take Usanc castle, but Ortesia/Garmator Castle is SE territory - it is not a border town or even trying farther up north. Bordergore is programmed and guess what? Those castles are awarded to a powerless lord and reconquered only 2 minutes later by the Battanians.
My game has evolved to "kill marauding army, sell stuff and prisoners, retrain lost forces, rinse&repeat". Oh yeah, and getting back my caravans that are regularly caught by minor factions or trying to do trade in enemy lands. I even cannot get all of them back when they escape prison. Nice of you going to Myzea after escape - how do I get there through 2 enemy nations? I can magically see where they are via wiki telepathy but am unable to send them a messenger to have them come to Quyaz. Frustrating. I cannot solve issues because either my faction's lords are somewhere running astray on the map or the villages raided or simply because I have no time for that, because I am too occupied to play the front-ex game and catch every minor lord and his little sister trying to raid the Quyaz area. Which is only temporarily as the escape my dungeon like it had revolving doors installed instead of iron bars. Any yup, they return again soon..with troops NOT being recruits, but mid-tier at minimum - wherever they got those in that short period of time.

So yeah...game is getting repetitive. I blame the AI for that as I cannot influence Unqid in conquering the "correct" targets and assign a powerful lord to hold them (me?) to just keep the spoils of war. Nope, it is stalemate or losing another castle in the east of the realm as I am not capable of bilocation.
 
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lnjdk

Veteran
O.k. - having reached the 800 day mark in-game the situation is as follows:
It is becoming a chore. I was awarded Tubilis Castle and I am vassal of the Asaid. Main quest failed because guess what - it had a 10 year timer. In the meantime I have managed to get all castle upgrades. Yet, I cannot leave Tubilis area. Why?
Battania has gobbled up Vlandia and western Empire while Khuzait have wiped away Sturgia and the northern Empire. Southern Empire holds both Castles around Husn Fulq and the City of Ortysia. Guess what? I am in a continuous state of war. I cannot do anything else than running around my castle whacking random SE or Battanian lords trying to raid my villages. And even my own liege does not keep peace even if he lacks the troops to wage war. Playing the Pokémon game with them I lock them away in my castle just to see them escape again and again despite 300 militia and a crack force of 200 T5+ soldiers garrison next to my 200 T5-T6 soldiers. Meanwhile my AI is lost while it cannot decide to take action like conquering border castles. Nope, it wastes armies running around errantly while small bands of nobles play the raiding game and are cought by Battanian armies rushing to lay siege to my castle (which never works, but that is another thing). The Aserai armies do such useful stuff like trying to take Usanc castle, but Ortesia/Garmator Castle is SE territory - it is not a border town or even trying farther up north. Bordergore is programmed and guess what? Those castles are awarded to a powerless lord and reconquered only 2 minutes later by the Battanians.
My game has evolved to "kill marauding army, sell stuff and prisoners, retrain lost forces, rinse&repeat". Oh yeah, and getting back my caravans that are regularly caught by minor factions or trying to do trade in enemy lands. I even cannot get all of them back when they escape prison. Nice of you going to Myzea after escape - how do I get there through 2 enemy nations? I can magically see where they are via wiki telepathy but am unable to send them a messenger to have them come to Quyaz. Frustrating. I cannot solve issues because either my faction's lords are somewhere running astray on the map or the villages raided or simply because I have no time for that, because I am too occupied to play the front-ex game and catch every minor lord and his little sister trying to raid the Quyaz area. Which is only temporarily as the escape my dungeon like it had revolving doors installed instead of iron bars. Any yup, they return again soon..with troops NOT being recruits, but mid-tier at minimum - wherever they got those in that short period of time.

So yeah...game is getting repetitive. I blame the AI for that as I cannot influence Unqid in conquering the "correct" targets and assign a powerful lord to hold them (me?) to just keep the spoils of war. Nope, it is stalemate or losing another castle in the east of the realm as I am not capable of bilocation

Oh my... just quit the game myself after the main quest has failed due to 10 years timer( wasn't aware of that), and thinking about starting a new playthrough, because I would like to complete this quest.

I burst into laughing while reading your comment regarding the villages. I can relate. It is so frustrating! Being a vassal of Vlandia and having 2 cities(Seonon, Marunath and a couple of castles) under my control, I probably spent 3-5 game years trying to chase away all these vandals, trying to plunder my villages. I gave up... This is ridiculous, especially when you see an "army" of 12 men at it.... There is nothing we can do to secure villages, at the same time there is nothing we can do to build prosperous cities, as for some reason the villages that belong to us are so seductive to the AI, that it would even cross half of the continent just to plunder your village. Hopefully devs will come up with better mechanics regarding this matter. Same as you mentioned in your post, I will not spend my entire playthrough as a freaking village guardian.

Oh yeah, and getting back my caravans that are regularly caught by minor factions or trying to do trade in enemy lands. I even cannot get all of them back when they escape prison. Nice of you going to Myzea after escape - how do I get there through 2 enemy nations?

What you can do now, if you have any fiefs, just briefly assign your companion as a governor and it will be teleported there immediately. Then just take the companion back in your party and assign the old governor if you had any.
 
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