You will not be starved for choice when it comes to troop selection in Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord. Naturally, the more experienced a unit is the better, but there are massive differences between the pros and cons of the best units, which is why it’s necessary to note all the benefits of each unit.
Every faction has their own unique candidates to this challenge. This guide will give a brief overview on the best soldiers in each category and some excellent alternatives that may suit your faction more. Along with an explanation on why they are a great choice for your army.
We also made a guide previously that showcases the best troops from each faction separately and explains which factions suits your playstyle the best.
Quick Summary of the Best Troops in Bannerlord
Here’s a quick summary of what you will find explained in-depth within this article. We will showcase the best troops and their pros and cons in a very clear manner. These are the best of the best troops and you can not go wrong with any of them.
Click on the troops below to jump to their analysis!
Best Shock Infantry
Best Shock Cavalry
Best Skirmish Cavalry
Best Garrison Defense
Best Infantry in Bannerlord
Sword and board, the bread and butter of most armies. Everything from your rawest recruit to your veteran warriors are typically infantry. They often do a lot of the killing, but usually the most amount of dying so it is important that the infantry is tough and easy to recruit.
To get the most out of them you will need to use some formations (such as shield wall) and you must support them with other units. Infantry are best upfront taking the up arrow fire and stopping enemies from reaching your archers.
They are weak against shock infantry such as Sturgian Heroic Line Breakers.
By far the toughest and well-rounded infantry you can get in the game. They have the best armor and shield of any infantry and a very powerful pila to throw before the melee starts.
The pila can also be used as a spear against horses if you order them to hold fire. They will chop through every other tier 5 infantry and absorb a ton of arrow fire, especially in a shield wall.
You cannot go wrong with a core of legionaries holding the center or assaulting fortifications.
Darkhans are strong infantry in their own right. They are better than the Imperial Legionary at fighting cavalry, but they have weaker shields and armor.
They are still excellent substitutes to their imperial counterpart and will beat any other infantry except the legionary.
Best Shock Infantry in Bannerlord
Shock Infantry are basically infantrymen with two-handed weapons. If you want to fold elite infantry and wreck cavalry there is no one that does the job better than shock infantry. They will melt through enemies with their massive two-handed weapons and chuck axes and javelins at those they cannot reach.
Their main weakness is a lack of shields and often mediocre armor, making them very vulnerable to arrow fire. All that power will not mean much if they cannot reach their targets.
This means it’s important to have infantry or cavalry covering them from arrow fire. They make for decent settlement defenders as cavalry and archer advantages can be mitigated behind the walls.
Aserai Mameluke Palace Guard
These beastly warriors are able to carve through infantry with ease, even the staunch legionary would cave into the Palace Guard’s attack.
The small advantage the Aserai Mameluke Palace Guard has over the other shock infantry is that they have better armor than their counterparts, making them less susceptible to arrow fire.
These troops are also easy to recruit as any Aserai can become a Mameluke Palace Guard eventually.
On paper they seem kind of weak, but their weapons are very deadly as they function as a polearm that can swing like an ax. They absolutely destroy anything in melee, even the Imperial Legionary.
It is critical to keep them away from arrow fire because the Voulgier’s armor is very weak. Putting them behind a solid shieldwall or behind your archers to stop flanking units can be the most efficient use of them.
Best Archers in Bannerlord
Bowmen and crossbowmen of all types. They are arguably the most powerful type of unit in the game. Many battles can be decided within the first minutes and if you possess superior firepower you often find yourself on the winning side.
Archers might be weaker in some situations, but most of the time they reign supreme. They are vulnerable against flanking cavalry, superior archers, and bad positioning.
Make sure they have a good view to fire and set them in a loose formation to maximize their arc of fire.
Battanian Fian Champion
Overpowered. Closest thing to fantasy elves as they are so strong that you can easily run an army with only Battanian Fian Champions and you could easily annihilate armies twice the size with minimal losses. They even kick serious ass in melee with their two-handed swords, making them effectively shock troops as well.
It is not unusual to see them inflict 80% of the casualties in any battle. Even though the main downside of this unit is recruitment, the nature of being an archer often means that they usually lose less men than other types of units.
They have the strongest crossbows in the game. They also carry decent swords and shields so they can defend themselves and be used as infantry in a pinch.
They are far easier to recruit than Battanian Fian Champions as they are not nobles. The earlier troops are already very potent so you can quickly replace your losses.
Best Shock Cavalry in Bannerlord
Heavily armored and charging in on horseback with spears and lances. They have a secret bonus of making your armies move faster on the world depending on how many units on horses you got.
Shock cavalry are vulnerable to pikes, being swarmed, and skirmisher cavalry (horse archers). Fortunately, it is rare to run into any significant amount of pikes, and even then you can dismount your cavalry and beat up the pikes on foot.
Imperial Elite Cataphract
The Imperial Cataphract, as well as their elite counterpart, the Imperial Elite Cataphract, are the closest thing to tanks in Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord.
They have tons of armor and very strong melee weapons. They also ride the Imperial Charger which has very high hit points at 290, compared to other horses that usually have 200.
The major downside they have is a lack of lance couching which reduces the amount of the damage they can do, but they are still deadly in melee regardless.
Khuzait Heavy Lancer
Might not be the strongest cavalry, but they are very easy to recruit. Cataphracts need to be recruited from nobles, while the Heavy Lancer can be recruited from any Khuzait village. They can even beat Aserai Faris who are much harder to recruit.
Best Skirmish Cavalry in Bannerlord
Skirmish cavalry, better known as horse archers designed to whittle down a less mobile army to its bones before going in for a finishing blow, if that’s even necessary. You can easily beat any army using horse archers only.
Khuzait Khan’s Guard
Heralds of death and destruction. They are disgustingly powerful and able to overpower anything in a record time.
They have one of the best weapons in a game: the glaive, a polearm that can swing thus giving the Khan’s Guard a lot of flexibility and reach. This is on top of their impressive armor and having the highest bow skill in the game next to the Fians.
Khuzait Khan’s Guard even destroy Imperial Elite Cataphracts in melee combat despite them being horse archers.
Their only weakness is that they are a noble recruit, meaning that it is harder to recruit them in large numbers early on. There are no situations they are bad in. Either they are good or the best.
Khuzait Heavy Horse Archer
The little brother to the Khan’s Guard. They are not nearly as powerful and don’t carry overpowered weapons like their noble counterparts, but they make up for it in numbers.
This bowman is an excellent alternative if you need more horse archers. A combination of 30 Khan’s Guard with 50 Heavy Horse Archers is usually better than 45 Khan’s Guard with no extra troops.
Best Troops for Garrison Defense
Troops that make for decent town or castle defenders due to their cost effectiveness. It is quite important to fill up garrisons with cheaper units to keep costs down and deter hostile armies from attacking the settlements.
Your NPC allies also make a habit of taking and replacing expensive units in garrisons.
#1 Imperial Vigla Recruit
They have surprisingly high skills for a tier 1 unit. More importantly, they upgrade into Imperial Cataphracts later down the line so they make for worthwhile investments regardless.
#2 Imperial Trained Infantryman
They are quite well armed for their price and also upgrade into proper Legionaries when experienced enough. They come with javelins making them able to do more than just look at the enemy. Excellent fillers for any settlement and empire recruits are everywhere making them very easy to find.
#3 Vlandian Levy Crossbowman
Considering that they are only a tier 1 unit and very easy to recruit, they are very strong for what they bring. They already threaten heavily armored units at such a low tier and make for excellent town defenders. They also upgrade into Vlandian Sharpshooters which is the best common archer unit.
Other very efficient troops to fill your ranks
Once you’ve got all of the best troops you could find from the list above, there will be tons of space left for the backup troops, so these are some honorable mentions that you should add into your army to support the better ones.
#1 Sturgian Heavy Axeman
They are almost as good as Khuzait Darkhans and Imperial Legionaries. They have good shields and better skills, but they suffer from relatively bad equipment making them lose against other infantry. You can mod them to get longer weapons and they perform just as well as the Legionary.
#2 Battanian Veteran Falxman
They are even better than the Vlandian Voulgier, but the Voulgier has a weapon that can thrust making them a bit more versatile. You cannot go wrong with these troops either.
#3 Imperial Sergeant Crossbowman
They are almost as good as the Vlandian Sharpshooter. Unfortunately the sergeant has a worse crossbow so they are slightly less deadly against armored enemies.
#4 Imperial Bucellarii
They are probably the worst horse archer in the game. Fortunately for the Bucellarii, there aren’t many horse archers in the game and can circle around slower enemies and turn them into pin cushions. They also have decent skills and are very easy to recruit.