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Companions in Bannerlord can play quite a critical role in shoring up the weakness in your party, advancing your clan, safeguarding castles and towns, and so much more. There are also still a lot of things being discovered and even being changed about them over time as Bannerlord moves forward in beta and beyond.
Finding Your First Companion
Thankfully these guys and gals are quite easy to find. They can show up at taverns from time to time. Don’t worry though you don’t have to randomly check every town in the game to try and find some decent ones. You can just look up their location and hopefully arrive at the correct town before they move on.
This can be done on the PC by pressing the N key on the keyboard which brings up the Encyclopedia. From there you click on the Heroes page. On the heroes page, you scroll down on the left-hand side to the “Wanderer” box and check it. This will display all companions in-game. There are quite a few!
After that, you can click on individual names for a more detailed page to show up. You are given some information about that companion’s skill level. Also as important on the right-hand side they give you a “last seen” and a location you can click on. This opens up another screenshot that you can then click to track and go to that town. Which makes it easy to find them.
Alternatively, if you are just wondering around and happen to check in on random taverns every time you are at a town. They will display who is in the tavern and you can even click on their name to be directly taken to them.
You might also find it helpful when looking for something of interest in a location by holding down the alt key on the PC version of this game. It will highlight a bunch of things you can interact with. This works outside of the tavern as well in cities, chambers, or even on the battlefield!
Once you reach the companion you want. They give you a bit of a backstory on what has transpired with them over the past little while. This usually is about why they became a wandered and are looking to enlist with whoever wants to pay an upfront front cost of denars range in hundreds to thousands. There is also a daily upkeep cost that tends to be around a hundred or so denars.
The background they give you as well can provide helpful tips about any traits the companion. Some will not be happy with certain actions like raiding villages. Thankfully for the most part with how many there are in Bannerlord, they tend to get along. I’ve yet to have any issues with mine outside of attacking villages due to some of the traits they have. The game also shows it on their page so you don’t have to guess by context clues what traits they have.
Congratulations you now have found and perhaps hired your first companion. Are they any good though? Let’s take a look at that in the next section.
Understanding The Basics Of Companions
There are quite a few things to consider when looking at the possible value in hiring a companion can bring for you or even your clan. Thankfully, for the most part, the game provides a lot of information upfront. You still do need to take the journey and make sure each one is proving the most they can for what you want them for.
One of the great things the Encyclopedia on heroes provides is their skill levels. You have what I will call combat skills which could be as high as two hundred. Then you have core skills like medicine that will cap out at 60 until they level up more from being hired from you.
In fully understanding what you are looking for you first have to think about what role is a companion going to play for you? The game thankfully uses a family name (last name) system to help you identify skill groups that companion possess.
Are they going to prove combat support in your army? Companions with the family name like Shieldmaiden tend to have higher levels in melee and ranged combat. From there you want to find what kind of damage dealer you want and try to get one with 200 skill levels. Alkirya The Shieldmaiden, for instance, has 200 in two-handed weapons.
Do you need someone to fill the clan role of a surgeon? Companions with the family name Willowbark or Healer can have level 60 in medicine. Such as Ragna Willowbark. This is quite important as they can reduce your death count while out on the battlefield. I gear mine with a bow so they stay out of combat melee range. You could even assign them to their group and have them not do anything in combat so they are provided this critical a core role to your army.
Do you need someone to fill the clan role of scout? You are looking for someone level 60 in scouting. They provide bigger map sight, footprint tracking, and other information while on the main map moving around. More times than not you are also looking for someone with decent fighting skills as well. I went with Radul Frostbeard.
At this time I’ve not seen anyone with engineering skills for the engineer clan role. This is a shame as you more than likely have a very low skill level and having someone with level 60 would be quite powerful.
You will also want someone with a high level of leadership for the quartermaster clan role or for leading their party as well. This is something that tends to need to be trained.
While I’ve yet to find someone with a Steward skill for leaving behind to guard a town or castle. I usually just pick someone with high-level combat skills. The castles and towns themselves tend to have a high army count anyways. You just want to leave someone in change.
You also have traits and this is something that can play into the morale of your army. Certain companions could be merciful and honest. They won’t be too happy with raiding villages. Bannerlord does try to help the player out by highlighting any traits you need to watch out for in red. This still seems to be a part of the game that needs to be built out. As outside of attacking villages there not any end fighting between the mixed bag of people I have.
There is one final thing to consider when hiring a companion and that is there attributes. The game won’t show you these till after you have already hired someone. I look for someone to have at least two or three points in the desired attribute the skills I want them to have used. Such as intelligence for medicine.
You want to make sure you are spending your companion's attributes and focus points as well. Along with any choices in skills they might unlock to further help develop and increase their ability in the field of combat.
The best way to work this out is simply saving the game before you hire someone. Than reloading the game if they lack what you desire and look for different companions. Usually, for game balance, a higher attribute in a needed skill can come with the drawback that they are low skill or have a trait you don’t want. The good news is a higher attribute means they can learn those skills faster.
While this was a lot to take in and even more to learn on your own. It is a part of Bannerlord that adds in some nice depth to the game. It is also an area I feel will be expanded out more in the future. As such having a basic understanding of these things can go a long way.
Quick Family Name breakdown
For those who prefer a quick bullet point breakdown without much explaining. These are the family names I find helpful when looking for particular skills. They could serve as usual in other are these are just I’ve discovered and how I use them for.
- Shieldmaiden: one-handed/two-handed weapons
- Coalbiter: one-handed/two-handed weapons/polearm
- Bloodaxe: Lower level one-handed/two-handed weapons/polearm
- Wronged: Riding
- Accused: Roguery
- Longknife: Roguery
- Robber: Roguery
- Wanderer: riding, ranged
- Willowbark: Medicine
- Healer: Medicine
- Lucky: Tactics
- Companions with a one-off family name tend to have higher skills in some areas than the above ones.
I won’t be shocked if they add more to the already long list that there is in the future. Many of the above have secondary uses and other things to take into account. This was just a quick overview of where to start if you are looking for a couple of skills.
Like your character Companions also wears gear. This tends to be the more expensive part of having them around. As you end up providing them with what they should be using as weapons and armor. I tend to keep them in my army for a while before I’ll send them off on their own party.
The great thing here is unless you are playing in death mode your companions only get knocked out in battle or captured if the worst things happened. As such it is ok to splurge and make them powerhouses in their own right to clear the battlefield with.
I always start each one off with a horse. Many of them come with decently riding skill to start with anyway. This increases their mobility and makes it easier for them to defend themselves from having an elevated heighten from being on a horse.
I also take a look at their weapons skills. For most of mine one or two-handed is the way to go. Unless I’m dealing with a possible healer where I’ll only give them a bow in hopes they stay out of melee combat and keep at the range. You want to make sure they have the right weapon for their highest skills.
While all the best gear is always going to myself first. I tend to give my older gear to my companions along with any gear I ended up looting that is an upgrade for them. One day perhaps when I’m swimming in many millions and dropping 600k on a piece of armor is no big deal I’ll consider buying better armor. Until then there are higher priorities for spending money then dumping a few million into a single companion.
I prefer to send more veteran and higher geared companions off to make their parties for my kingdom. Some of them for whatever reason seem to be worse off than others even with decent skills. I’ll have a couple that always seems to go down in every other battle. I noticed they get captured more than others as well. So anyone who does not live to par while under my command gets the boots instead of a promotion to run their own thing.
Clans within each kingdom tend to play a decent role in how powerful you can become. Their level alone has quite an effect on how big you can even become. Not to mention a powerful clan demands more respect from others in the kingdom when you push your weight around.
Clan tier is determent by the amount of renown you have eared total while being in it. Each tier increase allows you to have one more companion and increase party size for everyone by 15 units. This is quite a huge bonus to have for a clan.
While you tend to be the biggest gainer of renown for your clan you should not limit your growth by doing it all by yourself. You can assign companions you feel are decent at combat and have the gear to go out and lead their armies. Any renowned they earn along the way will go towards your clan’s total count.
The process is quite simple. Under the parties tab in the clan page, you just click on an open
“create a new party” slot and pick who you want to command it. After that, a window opens up where you need to give some of your armies to the new party to get them started. Sadly they have nerfed starting with a few troops due to people exploiting getting free troops for making a party.
As such I tend to create a new party when I’m at one of my castles that have a huge amount of defenders and can afford to give up sixty or more. The less you give them the bigger chance they end up getting captured. You then need to rescue them or find them after they have escaped to rejoin your party and have any usefulness again.
The process is equally as simple for giving them a fief to watch over for you. You just need to assign them as a governor. It is a good idea to help them stock up a bunch of troops as well. Just keep in mind you don’t’ want to be to over your parity limit otherwise you will lose a bunch of troops before you make it back to donate to the keep's garrison.
It can also be a good place to store a bunch of extra troops at a garrison for cheap so you have some replacements if you happen to suffer a massive loss on the battlefield. They have quite a large ability to hold a lot of troops anyway. It also makes them much harder to be taken over by the enemies.
While it can sometimes be frustrating dealing with companions when they get captured or you loose a holding. They can play needed roles in helping you secure what you have while helping you grow your ability to command bigger armies and have more under you. So the next time you have an open slot for a party or a castle without anyone in it. Perhaps you will rethink and assign someone to those positions if they are ready for it.
I’m really glad to see companions serve a much bigger role in Bannerlord than they have in the past. I can only hope to see this feature expand and even my understanding of it grows over time. It adds some nice management to the game when they are under your control. While creating even more opportunity for your clan or even the kingdom once you get up to that step and send them out to be on their own thing.
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