My Kingdom for a Horse...and Some Armor -- M&B Warband
This is a guide to the horses and armor of Mount & Blade: Warband.
Choosing Armor and a Steed
Success in Mount & Blade: Warband isn’t just about your weapon and your wits you’ll also need some quality armor and a trusty steed. With the right gear you can become a one man army on the battlefield and take down huge numbers of the enemy single handed. The armor and the horse you choose in Mount & Blade are closely related and it makes sense to decide on your strategy beforehand so you can get kitted out appropriately.
There are various options available to you but for the sake of simplicity we’ll divide them into three. Naturally within these three categories you’ll find gradations and an experienced knight of the realm might carry more than one set of kit in the inventory so they can switch according to the circumstance. It is a good idea to be prepared for different eventualities.
Let’s take a closer look at the possible paths to glory.
Light and Speedy
Armor - You’ll fall pretty quickly from a great axe swing or a hammer blow but they’ll have to catch you first. All armor in the game has a weight and in simple terms, the more protective it is, the more it will weigh you down, and the more it will slow you down. If you want to be fast then go for lightweight clothing and basic armor. It won’t offer much protection on the battlefield but if you keep your distance that shouldn’t be a problem. It also means you’ll be able to run faster and manoeuvre more easily.
Horse - For your trusty companion you want the fastest horse possible and there is no substitute for a Courser. These horses cannot take much damage but they are very fast. Provided you don’t get bogged down you’ll be able to keep your distance or ride by and release a devastating blow. The damage done by strikes is boosted by your speed. You’ll need to work on those riding skills if you want to upgrade to a Spirited Courser but it is well worth it for the extra power.
This approach is best employed by archers and fans of throwing spears or jarids. Ideally you want to be faster than infantry or heavy cavalry so you can always escape when you need to. With heavy crossbows you may find you need to dismount to reload so that’s not a great combination. This approach can also work well with a lance because you can build up great speed and deliver devastating couched lance damage. However, you will need to work hard to make sure you never get bogged down because you’ll be hacked to pieces in no time if you crash into a tree or get stuck in a group of enemy troops. It is worth remembering that fast horses with low armor are much easier to halt so you should only pick off lone enemies if you plan to get in close.
Not too Fast, Not too Slow
Armor - The middle way involves equipping yourself with decent gear but not weighing yourself down so much that you’ll barely be able to walk. You want decent armor with gauntlets, a helmet and good boots but you want to stay light enough to move in a hurry if you have to. You’ll be able to go toe to toe with a few enemies but you won’t last the distance against a big group unless you fight clever.
Horse - The medium horse in terms of speed and armor is the Hunter and a Spirited Heavy Hunter is a great horse to have. You’ll be able to build up enough speed to deliver seriously nasty blows to your enemies with a sword or lance. You’ll also be able to outrun the really heavy knights riding horses with mail. You can afford to take on groups and at speed your horse will happily run men down. Once again if you get bogged down in the middle of a group or stuck on a tree your steed won’t last long so be careful.
This approach is ideal for the mixed fighter. Start off the battle with some throwing spears or maybe a lance and then switch to a one handed sword and take out your enemies in a series of ride by slashings. The fact you can run down heavy knights, slash them and then outrun them until you can manoeuvre into another risk free ride by is great. Archers on very fast horses can still prove to be a major frustration but if you save throwing spears for them and target their horses you can bring them down quickly.
Heavy and Slow but Deadly
Armor - The stereotypical knight is weighed down by plate armor, a heavy helmet, gauntlets and greaves. He is virtually indestructible and can take several blows before showing any sign of damage. He is also incredibly slow and cumbersome. You’ll need to build up your strength in order to adopt this kind of armor but it does allow you to take on multiple enemies without fear. It goes best with a heavy weapon which will fell an opponent in one swing.
Horse - You can’t expect a Saddle Horse to carry all that weight. If you go for heavy armor then you’ll want a War Horse. The War Horse is protected by heavy mail and capable of charging straight through a group of enemies leaving them all sprawling in the dirt. They are slow and they don’t manoeuvre easily but they’ll take an awful lot of damage before they go down. You’ll need to build up good riding skills to get one of these but a fully armored knight and horse combination is a formidable sight.
This approach is suited to bloodthirsty scrappers who want to be in the thick of the action. You’ll probably use a lance or a two handed weapon and your charges will end in death for your target. You’ll also be able to ride straight into big groups of enemies and swing away without much fear. The big drawback is that you’ll never catch fast archers and you’ll be vulnerable to well armoured and armed enemies on Hunters. For taking on big infantry armies this is the best approach.
It is a good idea to have a heavy set of armor for sieges even if you don’t use it in open battles. Horses play no part in sieges but you will find yourself facing down a lot of enemies in tight, constricted situations and being able to deal out big damage and take a few hits is hugely advantageous. Since the battle will end if you get knocked out, and your troops will not perform anywhere near as well without you, it is important that you don’t fall during a siege.
All references and images from Mount & Blade: Warband.