Conquering Calradia is a somewhat ambiguous goal as the first Mount&Blade games were open-ended "sandbox" games, so there is no winning condition. The most obvious goal, therefore, is complete dominance over Calradia. This is achieved by eliminating all the other Factions. A faction will be eliminated when you capture all of their castles and towns. Usually the faction will linger around for a while with their lords possessing very small parties. These can be a nuisance, as their small party size allow them to quickly run away from you when you approach, enabling them to raid all of your villages with minimal threat.
Steps to FollowEdit
There are a number of things that you can do before beginning your journey to becoming the King of Calradia. They are not necessary, but will greatly help in the long run.
These steps are just a rough outline of strong strategies you can use to try to win.
Building a Steady IncomeEdit
Find a way to gain large amounts of money at any time you need it. Ultimately, you want to buy a Productive Enterprise in every town in the game. The best places to start are Curaw and Dhirim, since you can buy an ironworks at each of them for 3500 denars and make about 300-500 every week from them. Once you have all the enterprises, you will get somewhere around 8000 denars every week.
The best bandits to kill for money are Sea Raiders. If your faction is not at war, it is ideal to kill these bandits. However, if your faction is at war, you can try to defeat enemy lords with the hope that you will capture them and sell them for ransom. They can be worth anywhere from 1500-6000 (Kings are worth 9000-17000).
Trading can also be surprisingly lucrative, especially if you have a party member with a high trade skill, have expanded your inventory several ranks, and have identified several profitable trade routes. For instance, salt in Wercheg is especially cheap, available in high volumes, and sells for 3-4x in nearby Rivacheg. A good trade route will net 1000-3000 denars per run, more if you can cash in on the return trip. Talk to villagers if you want some tips on profitable trade route in the area.
Creating a Soldier FarmEdit
You need to be able to easily replenish soldiers while you are at war so that you can protect your kingdom from enemy armies. Being able to recruit a lot of new soldiers quickly creates room for casualties during fights. You won't have to worry about losing a lot of troops during a tough fight.
If you have a negative reputation with a village, they will not give you recruits. If you have somewhere between 0 and 10 reputation, they will give you 0-7 recruits when you go to them and 0 if you are at war with the faction that owns the village. If you are above 10, however, they will give you recruits even if you are at war and you will get more recruits than before. At 20, you have a chance to get tier 2 units, 40, tier 3, etc.
Note that if your reputation with the village improves at all at any time, and you just recruited soldiers, more soldiers will be available for recruitment right away. A handy trick is to talk to the villagers and see if any of them are out of a job. If they are, you can give them 300 denars and your reputation will increase by 1, allowing you to recruit volunteers again.
Some of the best soldiers in the game are:
Infantry: Nord Huscarls
Archers: Vaegir Marksmen
Cavalry: Swadian Knights
Any units you wish to use, however, can be used to replace these units. You should just aim to have a good top tier unit for each role. Swadian Sergeants, Rhodok Sergeants, Rhodok Sharpshooters, and Sarranid Mamlukes would be a very powerful set of units as well.
Any units can be used in your army, it is sometimes very beneficial to hire the prisoners of lords you defeat, especially to augment your garrisons. However, don't bother hiring units that are not the correct type of unit for your current army or tactical style. For example, hiring Khergit Lancers when you are using knights is a very good idea; you can even put them in the front of your army by moving them up in the party list so they can absorb the damage in the initial charge.
Founding a KingdomEdit
You can choose any name for it that you want and you can get a banner if you don't already have one.
You will need to acquire a castle or town to start your new kingdom. One way to defeat a castle is to create an army of Rhodok sharpshooters. Attack any castle (preferably a castle only requiring a siege ladder unless you have really high Engineering) and tell your sharpshooters to hold position at a good distance from the castle. Let them fire all their bolts and then charge up the ramp with your heroes and fight until you die. When you die, you will automatically retreat and lose some sharpshooters so you can go replenish them at your soldier farms if you like. Repeat this process until you are victorious. Keep in mind that castles that have been taken recently will have a weak garrison.
You are very likely to lose this castle to the faction's army. So be prepared to just leave it for them to take. You can take it back easily because the garrison will be weak. Eventually, the faction will be at war with another faction and will leave you alone.
An alternative strategy is to help a claimant take their kingdom. Make sure the kingdom is already really small. Ask for a castle that you think will be a good starting place for your kingdom. When you are done taking the kingdom, empty your castle and siege it. It will instantly lose as soon as you finish building the ladders.
(Note that when using the sharpshooter strategy you don't actually have to charge the castle when you run out of bolts. As long as you have a good kill ratio you can retreat without consequence and come back again with all your ammunition restocked. The only limit is time, as enemy relief forces may show up while you are waiting to attack again.)
Beating Other FactionsEdit
The faction that you took the castle from is very likely to declare war on you even after they failed to take the castle back multiple times, so try to eliminate them first. A castle is necessary because you can put troops in them and they will only cost half wages. This allows you to switch your army at any time without disbanding all your troops.
When a faction declares war on you (or you declare war on them), hunt down their lords. Keep in mind that all enemy units are dismounted when fighting in villages but your units won't be (making knights significantly better). If you find their ruler, try to take them out so their tactics level won't affect your battle advantage in the next fight.
If their army groups up and sieges your castle and there is no way you can fight the whole thing, just wait for them to enter your castle. But catch the last bunch of lords that enter. Enemy kings often enter last and they always have the most troops. After defeating them, help your castle win the battle. With your massive income from your enterprises, your castle can hold easily about 300 top tier units (you should have powerful units such as Huscarls and sharpshooters in your castle).
When you assault a castle that has a lot of troops inside, don't worry about any number over 300, since after that, reinforcements cease arriving, and all the extra troops are killed. The best units for attacking a castle are the Nord Huscarls, as they are perfectly able to take the hailstorm of arrows that fly during most sieges, and are also able to retaliate with thrown weapons. If you have any cavalry units in your army, make sure to place them at the back of your battle list, as they will be dismounted during the battle and won't be able to fight as effectively (not that they'll be entirely useless, they just won't be able to match up against higher ranked units)
Get Lords to Join YouEdit
You need at least one Lord on your team. As for lords, don't get too many because they will start to hate you as more fiefs are given away. The easiest thing to do is just keep one town that you like and give away all the villages for that town and all the castles and towns you capture.
To get more Lords to join your team, you can send out all the heroes in your party to go try stir up things in the other factions. This will usually get a Lord or two for you - provided that you have enough land. You don't need very many Lords since you can defeat every team in the game with the above strategy.
Keep in mind that Lords that have joined you are very unlikely to participate in campaigns because they will be busy defending their fiefs. You mostly just need them for a little defense for your villages and to fill up the garrisons of castles.
Another thing to note is that if you capture a lord and then their faction falls while they are still in your custody, they will not be freed and will always be in your custody. To prevent this, before you conquer a faction, make sure you ransomed them off. This way you can have all lords if you would prefer.
An easy way to get Lords to like you is breaking them out of prison, travel past towns and castles looking at the captives that are being held at in them. If a Lord is being held captive, enter the town or castle and walk up to the Prison Guard. Do exactly what you would do if you were freeing the Lord as a quest, the best part of this is you don't lose approval from any other Lords or Factions. The only difference is you will only get approval from the Lord(s) you rescued.
Control the EnemiesEdit
It is ideal that all the other factions remain small and weak. To achieve this, avoid eliminating factions - save them if you need to by attacking a faction that is attacking the weak faction. This way, the lords will never all be together and a bunch of weaker armies will try but fail to take your castle.
Begin declaring war on factions. Use knights to wipe out their armies and then sharpshooters (and maybe some Huscarls if you want) to capture all their towns. Target towns first since they have your enterprises. Use the same tactics that were used to start your kingdom.
The hardest faction to defeat with the sharpshooter strategy is the Nords. Then next being the Rhodoks. These may require more brute force so use a lot of Huscarls or just keep farming up a new army to attack with.
Keep in mind that once you eliminate a faction's main army, they will take a long time to rebuild it. The lords will run around with small parties of tier 1 to tier 3 units and can be easily defeated with any army you have.
You should aim at their campaign army first, try to lure them out, once their campaign army is beaten, repeat it every two weeks. This should keep the other faction down hard enough for your lords to win most fights on their own. Another way to keep your enemies weakened after defeating their main army is to split up your force, attacking and burning down as many villages as possible. This affects the enemy's recruitment and income.
Repeating the attack/raids every two weeks should make your enemy's beg for peace within a month or two, ending the war in your favor.
Keep in mind that you will lose relations with your current lords when you assign a new fief, so don’t be too greedy and instead conquer bits at a time, keeping your internal relations at an all time high.
If you conquer too fast, you will see deserting lords, which will harm you even more than your enemy will.
Items and SkillsEdit
The equipment and skills you choose are entirely up to you because they are not too important if you use the above guidelines and your skills should be chosen to fit your play style. A more in-depth analysis can be found here. However, there are some specific suggestions that may be advisable for characters intending to conquer Calradia, which are listed below.
In the beginning when setting up your player it is easiest to choose being a noble over a street urchin or other such lowly citizen. This is, however, entirely up to you. Being a noble will just make the game slightly easier due to increased starting funds and renown as a noble.
Basically any skills will be good to have, but some skills that are especially handy as a king/queen:
Training - allows you to get new top-tier troops quickly, and without risk of losing recruits; especially if given to multiple party members.
Leadership - Good for getting a larger army and keeping it happy.
Prisoner Management - Good for making a bit more money. Sea Raiders are worth about 100 denars.
Path Finding - Gets you out of sticky situations on the map, and makes large armies move less sluggish.
Persuasion - allows you to convince other nobles to switch sides and resolve conflicts among your vassals.
Tactics - increases your battle advantage by 1 every 2 points and allows you to get more units into the battle per spawn. A higher battle advantage does however reduce the renown you get for the battle.
Engineer - you will often have to initiate sieges yourself, and being able to build siege engines quicker can give you a significant strategic advantage
Note: All the 'party' skills can be given to your companions. Party skills receive a bonus depending on the leader's skill level; so if your medic has Wound treatment of 5 and you have none, it's effectively 5 points. If he's got 5 and you've got 1, then it's an effective 5+1 = 6 points. The leader skill bonus (+1 if the skill is 2-4, +2 if it's 5-7, +3 if it's 8-9, and +4 if it's 10) also applies if the highest level skill is owned by the Leader.
Get anything you want that suits your play style. You should however keep in mind that you will fight a lot of sieges, as well as large battles, both of which will sometimes take multiple rounds. This requires a build that is able to last long without running out of hit points or ammunition.
Usually it is a good idea to get a ranged weapon so you can use it in castle sieges but you can just leave it in your inventory for other fights. You can go for a bow with the Power Draw skill or you can just use a crossbow. Thrown Weapons are not the best choice since they generally have less ammunition but they can still be useful if you use throwing daggers and have a lot of power throw and throwing proficiency. Keep in mind that any skill points you spend on Power Draw or Throw are ones you cannot spend on Leadership, Persuasion, or other leader-specific skills; only crossbows do not require skill points.
In general, the game is easier if you just buy strong armor since it is really hard to avoid getting hit in close combat, and it will allow you to stay in combat and help your troops longer. It is also easier to use a Charger or Sarranian War Horse over any other horse since it will almost never die before you do - even when you have Plate Armor. Heavy armor makes your character run slower on the ground but since you will want to be mounted most of the time, you will be better off with it anyway.
The Heroes page contains a section suggesting how to best use all 16 companions in the first and second 'halves' of the game. Basically, you level up your nobles while you are building your own skill, and then switch over to using peasant companions (who cause problems if they are given fiefs) after you have your own kingdom. Of the two commoners in the first party, Artimenner makes for a good minister (who can be reactivated as trainer or engineer in a pinch), and Borcha should best be dismissed.
If your Persuasion is high, you can also keep your first party and only use lords from other kingdoms. Having too many lords may actually put you at a disadvantage as it will be increasingly difficult to keep their relations high and prevent jealousy when awarding fiefs.
The nobles in the first party should all have a few points in Trainer, Tactics and Leadership if you want to grant them fiefs later on, as this will help them field better armies and win more battles. Even pure combat characters should get 9 or 12 points in INT and CHA and raise these Skills to 3-4. And having many characters in your party with the Trainer skill is beneficial anyway. Prisoner Management is best avoided for companions, as it will only slow their party down.
Remember that your companions will have the same AI as your other soldiers, so they are bound to fail in combat. If you give them a lot of strength, you can expect them to kill a few enemies before going down.
Since the AI does not allow soldiers to do clever moves, such as kite, it is best just to give them the strongest armor that you can find. This will help them last during fights and they will kill a lot more enemies.
The AI is also particularly bad at using polearms so avoid giving them spears of any kind.
You should give them a ranged weapon as well since they will be very effective in castle sieges with them. Since they can't die, they are ideal for taking castles without casualties. In this case, having a party member with a high First Aid skill is very valuable, so wounded companions can get healed again for a second round of the battle.
For sieges, they do best with a ranged weapon, a shield, and a one-handed melee weapon. You want them with this equipment so you can use them like your Rhodok sharpshooters (shield until in position then start firing) and so that they can fight in close combat when they run out of arrows or when you are using knights. They also do well with this equipment if you stand them in front of your archer army so enemies that come close will be taken care of by them while your archers keep firing.