Everything you need to know about the most important factions: the advantages and disadvantages of their starting positions, the worst and best units
At first it may seem that all the factions in Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord are approximately equal. It is easy to refute this: it is enough to carefully study the positions on the map that the factions occupy from the very beginning of the game, as well as take into account the pros and cons of their units. Let’s figure out who is the best to form an alliance with, whose troops to hire and who to fear.
Factions and their units
Each faction in Bannerlord has a primary soldier and a rare minor (but not important) recruit. Both units have their own upgrade lines. The main recruits can be melee and ranged. The tree of melee fighters splits into branches of shield-bearers and warriors with weapons, but without shields, while the tree of ranged fighters is divided into two branches of three possible: archers, crossbowmen and arrows.
A rare faction recruit is a special warrior. You will only occasionally meet such soldiers in villages and cities, and to hire them, you will have to pay a lot more money. They have no ramifications, so they go through the same line of upgrades up to the most important and powerful unit of the faction.
Note . The factions listed below are the main ones. However, they are not the only sources of units in the game. In fact, you can meet other elite troops like Skolder Brotva or other mercenaries.
In the center of Calradia, there are three factions of the Empire at once – North, South and West. Such a split in the Empire occurred after the death of the emperor. Each separate part from the very beginning of the game conflicts with certain factions. Don’t be fooled – they are not the same state. The empire is in a state of civil war, so each faction will happily declare war on the other.
- Empire of the North: Led by wealthy plutocratic senator Lucon, the northerners want the imperial senate to choose the next emperor. The state is located in a mountainous area near the shore of a large lake, therefore it is provided with good protection. The northerners have a strong economy, but constant problems are created by the simultaneous war with two or more factions.
- Southern Empire. This part of the Empire is headed by Empress Rageya. The wife of the murdered emperor also has an only daughter and heiress, Ira. Thus, if you are interested in the Southern Empire and you would like to unite with it, we recommend that you establish relations with Ira. Fortunately, at the beginning of the game, she is free (not married). The Southern Empire has well-defended natural borders, but for expansion it will have to fight the impressive cavalry of the Khuzait Khanate and Aserai.
- Western Empire: This nation is led by the famous and popular warlord Garios, who considers himself a full-fledged contender for the throne of the emperor. The Western Empire controls several wealthy cities, but is often embroiled in a war of attrition against Battania.
The warriors of the Empire have cataphractaries (heavy cavalry), effective archers, and versatile heavy infantry. You can get excellent melee warriors, foot soldiers and legionnaires who use shields and heavy throwing weapons. Despite the presence of the crossbowmen branch, alternative archer upgrades will result in more efficient (and heavily armed) Palatine Guards and Bucellarii (horse archers). Their rare recruit is the Imperial Vigla, which upgrades to a cataphractarian. These warriors are protected from head to toe by powerful armor, using spears and bows, making them some of the deadliest and most flexible of the heavy cavalry.
The highlands northwest of the Empire are controlled by the Battania confederation. Their positions at the beginning of the game are good: they control only 5 cities (less than anyone else), but the settlements are located as close to each other as possible. In addition, the passage to each city leads through the mountains, which means that the enemy will have to move through well-protected narrow mountain passes, guarded by castles.
The army of Battania uses medium and heavy infantry with spears and large bows (main ranged units). Their cavalry is weak, therefore, as a rule, suitable for either swift pursuit of riflemen or to distract the attention of enemy cavalry. It will be difficult for you to choose between unit branches. The champions of Battania Fiana are the best archers in the game due to their high bow skill and unprecedented rate of fire. In addition to longbows, Champions have two-handed swords, and they wield them like high-level warriors. But there is one problem…
Unfortunately, Battania’s archers can only be obtained from the rare Highborn Youth recruit. Therefore, players of this faction who want to recruit as many archers as possible will have to take the Disciplinarian perk from the Leadership tree in order to capture and later recruit forest bandits. Battania’s other strongest units are the Wildlings (well-armored riflemen) and the Falxmen.
Situated along the entire western coast of Calradia, Vlandia is one of the most authentic medieval cultures featured in Bannerlord. They have a fairly large territory, while this faction has been involved in a difficult war against Sturgia since the beginning of the game.
Vlandia’s army is one of the best in the game. In the attack, she uses powerful knights, to whose assistance cheap, efficient and easily accessible crossbowmen are diverted. Moreover, crossbowmen are effective from the first upgrade, from Levy Crossbowmen to Vlandian Sharpshooters. Vlandian Hardened Crossbows and better also carry heavy shields into battle.
The rare Vlandian Squire recruit does not stand out at first, but from the first upgrade it becomes more and more powerful until it turns into the Vlandian Banner Knight, the most powerful heavy cavalry in the game. Get as many of these units as possible through the knight tree, then fill the holes in your cavalry army using the light cavalry and vanguard from the main infantry tree.
Vlandia also has her own trump card up her sleeve. Most heavy cavalry units are useless in sieges. However, the Billman and Voulgier upgrades for Vlandia’s spearmen are excellent for both assault and wall defense. Take a dozen of these units into your army and keep them for siege battles. At the same time, keep them away from normal field battles.
The territories of Sturgia are located in the frozen northern lands of Calradia. They stretch the entire length of the map from east to west, which can be considered both an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time. Enemies have to wade through snow-covered forests and narrow valleys, but it will be much more difficult for you to react to an attack in another part of the map.
The Sturgia’s army is built around reliable heavy and medium infantry. There is nothing special about cavalry. At its best, it can be used for reconnaissance or firefights. Sturgia’s low-tier troops are pretty weak. There are no archers, there are small shields, so in this case the best option would be to recruit captured robbers. At least until the moment when troops of level 3+ become available. The Sturgian Veteran Warriors are some of the best foot soldiers in the game, and with the support of the Ulfhednar berserkers, they’ll be able to destroy every enemy infantry or take the wall of any castle. You need to be wary of enemy armies with a large number of riflemen or heavy cavalrymen.
Rare Sturgia Recruit – Warrior Son. His final form is a cavalry soldier (Druzhinnik), who can be regarded as a second-rate cataphractarian. So far, these are pretty useless warriors.
Those living in the Aserai desert have perhaps the best starting position. They are separated from many by the enemy by narrow passages from both the east and the west. Their boundaries with opponents are small, so they have excellent options for expansion. Their AI-controlled lords usually spend as much time on the road as they do in battles.
Unlike other factions, Aserai troops from recruits are divided into standard and special units (and not melee and ranged fighters). There is nothing special in the standard unit tree, so archers and infantrymen are best recruited from other factions.
However, the special Mamluk tree looks great. Palace Guards are heavily armored shock infantry with two-handed axes. Mameluke Cavalry and Heavy Cavalry have a higher speed than their counterparts from other factions, and due to the presence of both bows and swords, they can perform any tasks assigned to the cavalry. Aserai Rare Units – The Aserai Youth transforms into amazingly powerful hit-and-run spear cavalry. This improvement takes much less time compared to other factions.
Like the steppe, nomadic civilizations such as the Mongols and Huns, the Khuzaites inhabit the vast desert area on the eastern edge of the map. They have a lot of cavalry, the main advantage of which is the relatively high speed of movement in the steppe. Nevertheless, this faction constantly has to deal with the most dangerous robbers of the game – the steppe bandits.
But the Khuzaites have horse-drawn archers. And Khuzait Heavy Horse Archer is the best horse archer in the game. After a group of such archers have shot the enemy, it will no longer matter that the Khuzait Heavy Lancer is far from the best heavy cavalry in Bannerlord.
A rare Khuzait recruit, Noble’s Son, transforms into the Khuzait Khan’s Guard, a heavily armored cavalry with a bow and long blade. It might even be the best unit in the entire Bannerlord! The tactics of the battle for an army of Khuzaites is simple: gather a column of horse archers and run it around the enemy army before sending the rest of the troops to finish off the wounded beast.