This guide is not updated for the 'Beasts & Exploration' DLC. So most of the builds detailed here are not optimal anymore unless one is still playing version 1.1.x.


This is the result of an extensive amount of playing and testing various character builds and combinations. This guide is intended for late to end game. Mid and early game especially, because of economic and recruitment constraints, require different builds with a stress on Perks that improve Attributes for immediate return on investment. The following builds are meant for the long run and will show better results once the characters reach Veteran Level.

Please note that while these builds were used in Expert difficulty, they should work for every other difficulty settings. But they were designed for maximum offense and may despite everything die to very bad luck. For that reason, Ironman players may want to switch some suggested Perks for fail safes like Rotation or Footwork and Colossus. While the former ones are quite unreliable due to huge Fatigue costs, they can save lives.

These builds should cover all your needs. If I skipped some Perks of interest, I usually explain why. However, some Weapons are not mentioned at all because I deemed them not as effective as others. This is notably the case for Throwing Weapons and Crossbows that become less and less good than Bows the longer the campaign goes (I will not demonstrate why here). Most one-handed Melee Weapons while excellent in early to mid game also lose much value after a couple years.


Knights are the epitome of valor and martial skill. They follow a long, hard training in all kinds of weapons and wear heavy Armor in battle. They often come from the nobility and from families that are wealthy enough to buy their equipment. Knights not only win favor from their lord by showing their strength in war but also by jousting in tournaments or by displaying chivalrous qualities at court.


Champions are trained in a variety of combat tactics that make them equally dangerous against all types of enemies. Unlike Crusaders who focus on foot combatants, Champions are also able to take on and dodge or shield volleys of arrows while swinging their Swords.

  • Sellswords start with higher average Ranged Defense. So they will usually make better Champions than other Backgrounds.
  • Fatigue is preferred to Ranged Defense before Veteran Level since the level-up range is wider ([2-4] vs. [1-3]). The bonus provided by the Kite Shield should be enough.
  • Besides the standard Knight core level 5 to 7 Perks, this build uses the Quick Hands and Bags and Belts combination. More weapons for no Fatigue!
    • Sword and Shield is the default starting set-up. It's useful for first engagement. The Sword +10% hit chance can also come useful against elusive foes like Geists.
    • Double Grip Sword can be used in conjunction with Berserk and Recover to slay a near death enemy while regaining some Fatigue.
    • The Shield can be taken out if Reach Advantage isn't good enough or to increase Ranged Defense.
    • The Greatsword is the primary, Fatigue effective weapon. Use it rather than the Two-Handed Hammer for multiple targets swings and against unarmored opponents.
    • The Two-Handed Hammer should be used for single target strikes against armored opponents.
    • Billhook rounds up the weapons choice, giving the build needed additional range for very decent Damage.
  • Champions are primarily meant to fight battles against ranged or mixed opponents like Brigands and Goblins. But they can also fight other enemies alongside Crusaders.
  • Since they sacrifice some Fatigue for additional Ranged Defense, even if they have Brawny, you should consider giving them heavy but low Fatigue penalty Armor. Likewise, use your Greatsword for swings and splits and stick to single target attacks with your Two-Handed Hammer.


Crusaders embark on holy missions to rid the lands of the Undead and Orc scourge. While proficient with Swords and Greatswords like Champions, they also learn to master Two-Handed Hammers which they can use without exertion for devastating Damage against heavily armored opponents.

  • Hedge Knights and Adventurous Nobles will make the best Crusaders given their average base scores in core Attributes. Sellswords are also great candidates but may suffer from a lower Fatigue pool.
  • Crusaders do not invest in Ranged Defense so they can focus on increasing Fatigue on level-up. If you get bad rolls Resolve can be chosen instead.
  • Besides the standard Knight core level 5 to 7 Perks, this build uses the Quick Hands and Bags and Belts combination. More weapons for no Fatigue!
    • Sword and Shield is the default starting set-up. It's useful for first engagement. The Sword +10% hit chance can also come useful against elusive foes like Geists.
    • Double Grip Sword can be used in conjunction with Berserk and Recover to slay a near death enemy while regaining some Fatigue.
    • The Shield can be taken out to increase the Crusader Defense after a strike or if Reach Advantage isn't good enough.
    • Crusaders have Mastery in Greatswords as well as in Two-Handed Hammers. So they can use whichever is required for identical Fatigue costs. While the Greatsword works best against unarmored opponents, the Two-Handed Hammer should be used against armored opponents like Orc Warriors and Honor Guards.
    • Billhook rounds up the weapons choice, giving the build needed additional range for very decent Damage.
  • Unlike Champions, Crusaders will not fare well against ranged enemies. If you still have to line them up in a battle that involves some, give them cover and a Kite Shield.
  • Hammer Mastery will spare you more Fatigue than Brawny in the long run, which is why it is preferred on this build.
  • Hammer and Sword combination is better than Axe alone because it offers all possible types of attack and optimal Damage against both armored and unarmored opponents.


Berserkers channel their anger into a frenzied like state during which they will strike twice as hard as any Knight. When they start swinging their Greataxe, it is well advised not to approach them for in the rush of battle, they will hit anyone, friend or foe.

  • The preferred Background is Swordmaster because it gets bonuses in three important Attributes for that build. Fatigue could be a problem early on though, especially if the Swordmaster gets Old. That makes this character a prime candidate for the Emperor's Armor set. Adventurous Nobles come second thanks to their high natural Resolve.
  • Berserkers should fight melee only battles. Since they carry no Shields, Archers would likely target and hit them a lot.
  • This character should be positioned on one of the far sides. As soon as you feel comfortable with your Melee Defense score, you can pull four tiles away to activate Lone Wolf and set up for Round Swings. It's also possible to do so while having brothers adjacent since the -10% hit chance penalty after Axe Mastery should prevent any friendly hits.
  • Be watchful of Orc Warriors reaching you when you're isolated. It's easy to lose Morale if you're getting surrounded and knocked back, even with Old and Fortified Mind. So if you can, keep a Sergeant not too far away.
  • Before reaching Veteran Level, as with other builds, stick to one-handed Weapons and Shields. Or better even, stay behind and use a Pike or a Longaxe.


Archers are an essential component of successful armies. They open a battle by firing volleys of arrows with their Longbows, effectively stopping and routing charging adversaries. They benefit most from high ground which gives them added sight and power. However they must not be left unprotected for highly mobile melee units will slay them without difficulty if given the chance.


Noble Houses train personal guards to watch over them when traveling or taking part in battles. They are not only surrounded by Knights but also by Master Archers who can take care of distant incoming threats and provide cover in emergencies. These Bowmen are so strong that they can carry and fire huge, heavy Bows whose shots will pierce the heaviest Armors.

  • Hunters, with the single highest average Ranged Skill, make undoubtedly the best Archers of all Backgrounds. Since Hunters can be difficult to find, you can also try your luck with Witchhunters. Given good Talents, they can outperform average Hunters.
  • This build can accommodate any kind of Armor. Medium to heavy Armor is recommended. Heavy Armor, while decreasing your maximum Fatigue will provide extreme durability combined with high Ranged Defense and Anticipation. That's why Battle Forged isn't really necessary. Most hits will be dodged so Armor is only there to mitigate that one 5% hit chance shot you took from a Crossbow bolt.
  • Bullseye is extremely useful for effective targeting. Interesting targets include Marksmen and other Archers, Necromancers, Shamans and Overseers, Billmen and other units with low Ranged Defense in cover.
  • Archers with their high Fatigue are prime candidates for Adrenaline. With the usual Berserk and Recover trick you can still kill while getting the spent Fatigue back. Adrenaline guarantees initiative in the next turn which can net you early kills or give you an opportunity to get out of bad situations against fast units like Wolfriders or Orc Berserkers.
  • Quick Hands is not necessary. Most of the time, two Quivers are enough which only costs 5 Action Points. And there's a high chance you'll come up with spare Action Points.
  • Crippling Strike and Executioner are not as good as they look. Since the majority of enemies die in one or two hit they're usually worthless.
  • Your Ranged Defense combined with Anticipation are enough that you can safely get closer to the enemy lines. It will not only increase your hit chance but also mitigate any penalty you may suffer to Vision for wearing heavy Headgear. A Sallet is the best you could get. It has high Durability and only -1 penalty to Vision.
  • It's a good idea to position your Archers in the front. They get additional hit chance and provide excellent cover from the opponents missiles. It's very important to do so against Goblins because it's likely your Archers will get entangled by vines before reducing the distance to Shamans and Overseers.
  • Use a Crossbow until you get Bow Mastery.


You will find them in remote locations or small villages, scouring forests for game and setting traps to catch smaller animals. Hunters are exceptionally skillful with Bows but unlike Bowmen they carry lighter equipment for easier movement. While they hunt Beasts better than men they can also pull their weight as mercenaries should they ever wish to pursue that dangerous 'profession'.

  • Hunters are Archers with the Strong (mandatory) Trait built towards Nimble. Unlike Bowmen, once Nimble is active, they will wear light Armor to increase the chance for grazing hits. Stick to medium or heavy Armor until then.
  • Hitpoints are extremely interesting for Nimble characters as they more or less get twice as much for every point (supposing Nimble activates every time). That's why Colossus was picked as a last Perk. Hitpoints will act like Armor as a buffer to avoid Injuries and resist that one unlucky shot.
  • Since the Hunter build is a slight variation from the Bowman, the same advice applies. However, it's recommended to position him on the sides rather than in the center where more fire is potentially drawn.


Great commanders are able to gather all kinds of men and give them the courage to fight even against impossible odds. After a time spent studying in war academies, they join the ranks of the military to lead soldiers on the field. They're able fighters but because they're essential to the outcome of wars they tend to stay behind the lines.


These commanders have risen up to the rank of Marshal, an esteemed position among the military hierarchy. Marshals are often lords with fiefdoms that possess military and some kind of legal rule over their lands. When seen on the battlefield among their men, troops gain confidence.

  • This is my version of the Standard Bearer.
  • Quick Hands and Bags and Belts make come as a surprise but they're necessary if you want your Standard Bearer to do more than rally and deal Pike Damage. Quick Hands is obviously more important as it allows free Action Points switches between the Battle Standard which can then provide Resolve bonus and a Billhook for increased Damage. Bags and Belts is picked first because it cancels the Fatigue penalty of -7 induced by carrying the Battle Standard in your bag. And as an added perk you get more slots to play with.
  • What Attributes to raise for this build is a bit tricky. Melee Defense is important if you intend to engage more in melee. But if you absolutely want to avoid it, you can skip it for more Fatigue and possibly Resolve.
  • Like the Captain, the Marshal should not fight in battles involving ranged units. Such units and the ones they accompany have a low threatening level anyway and are not very likely to break your troops Morale. That's the reason why Sergeants do not need to invest in Ranged Defense.


Small towns usually keep a garrison of locally trained men who constitute a militia. Sergeants that have been promoted can lead a company of few of these men as Captains. Oftentimes they enjoy some other advantages and can expect to live a few more years than grunt soldiers.

  • This built is a slight variation of the Marshal but unlike him, the Captain doesn't carry the Battle Standard. He can still rally but will otherwise make standard attacks with its Billhook like Billmen.
  • The choice of Billhook over any other weapon as a sole mastery is because of the range it provides while dealing very good Damage. Without a Polearm, the character would waste Action Points moving into range. I am aware this takes out any possibility of hitting multiple targets in one strike. So I encourage you to test other two-handed Weapons and see what works best for your team.
  • The main difference with the Marshal is Reach Advantage which will increase your Melee Defense to the point where you can safely come into contact with enemies. This also provides additional coverage for your vulnerable, 'true' back line units and reduces their total number.
  • See the Marshal for more advice.


Duelists focus their training on a restricted number of weapons. Instead of wielding shields and heavier or additional sets they keep a single weapon in hand. This allows for increased dexterity and power though this comes at the cost of defensive abilities.


There's a constant need in every Settlement for small business owners, traders and merchants. But Butchers have known a remarkable increase in their number these past few years. One can surely understand that when you know how and where to cut meat, you're prepared for anything should a war break out.

  • Depending on whether you want this character to face ranged units or not, you'll decide on whether to raise Ranged Defense as a secondary Attribute and with Veteran Levels or not. If you decide to do so and if you also have a low Fatigue, you may consider switching Adrenaline for another Perk.
  • But Adrenaline will ensure the best possible Defense at all times if you follow these steps:
  1. Wait for the enemy to finish its turn
  2. Engage, attack and activate Adrenaline
  3. Attack again, then raise up your Shield
  4. Repeat these steps
  • Cleavers is arguably one of the best one-handed Weapons.
    • It does not only sports very good overall Damage, it also inflicts bleeds if enough damage is dealt to Hitpoints (10?). With Cleaver Mastery, that's 20 Hitpoints per hit over two turns. It essentially counters Nine Lives and finishes off otherwise surviving low Hitpoints enemies.
    • Its basic attack, Chop, is extremely cost effective too, with only 9 Fatigue per use after Mastery.
    • Cleaver Mastery also works with Orc Cleavers, a stronger version of normal Cleavers with additional Fatigue costs.


All kinds of Brigands, Thugs and shady characters roam the land and soil civilized cities with their less than honest dealings. Why work and sweat your blood for a mere pittance and such a reward as 'honorable' living if you can get rich by other, more direct means? Brutes do not care about those. They get what they want, should they have to axe a skull or two.

  • Brutes are Duelists with the Brute Trait. Since Brute gives increased Damage on head (critical) hits it synergies well with Backgrounds that have increased chance to hit head like Killers on the Run or with Weapons that increase that same chance like Flails. Unfortunately, these are not as viable as other options for late game. Axes however, deal substantial Damage especially to Armor which is essential and they also add another 50% damage on head hits.
  • Combined with Brute and Axe, Head Hunter which is otherwise hard to bank upon, makes an ideal final Perk for increased one-hit critical kills.
  • Since Adrenaline is not a pick on this build, Fatigue is not so much of a concern as it is to the Butcher unless you plan on wielding an Orc Axe (which is not as good as Orc Cleavers are in comparison to their respective normal versions). It means you can go for Ranged Defense as a secondary Attribute and with Veteran Levels.
  • The main difference with Butchers is that thanks to the Axe Mastery, you get to keep a Longaxe in your bag for more combat versatility.


Swordmasters have reached such skill and fame with their named swords that they're often very sought after even by kings. They are adept at finding openings no common fighters would think of and strike Knights in full plate armor like cats a mouse: with deadly accuracy and utmost apparent childish ease. They also develop secret techniques to parry blows and counter attacks against all expectations.


These Swordmasters specialize in the Direwolf school or style. The recipients of such a well kept knowledge are extremely rare and must often pass a series of daunting challenges to deserve a training. Almost nothing is known of who they are and the persons who would met an untimely death.

  • The Swordmaster Background is not recommended for this build since Old with reduce Nimble chance to activate by 20%.
  • Nimble has natural affinity with Dodge (Fatigue penalties negatively affect Initiative) which raises both Melee Defense and Ranged Defense. This build improves on it by raising them equally on level-up. It is fine to do so, since Fatigue isn't much needed with light Armor and Swords.
  • Lone Wolf is another great Perk to have on Swordmasters. While distancing yourself from your party is generally a bad idea, Swordmasters thrive on it. It's when they get surrounded that the Sword Riposte skill will work best. Be very careful about Morale drop though. If your Resolve is too low, consider wearing the Sergeants Sash.
  • There was no room for Brawny but if you're looking to add some chance for Nimble to activate, you could pick it instead of Fortified or Dodge, depending on your recruit.
  • If you ever find it, The Davkul Armor set would be perfect for this character.


As a bonus, here are videos showcasing some of these builds. Some names may have been changed but everything else is as explained here.