The Forsooth Saga: Warband Part 2

By James Carey on May 25th, 2010 at 4:46 pm.


RPS needs: YOU! We have a new Mount & Blade: Warband dedicated server, and last night brave folk took to its fields to do bloody murder on their fellow man for the first time. Find out what happened, and how you too can get involved, below.

Firstly a huge thanks to the brave souls who showed up last night (around 25 of you at the peak). Despite the fairly predictable chaos of the first meeting we actually did manage to get some sort of organisation going after a few rounds. A small miracle considering that half an hour before kick off we didn’t even have a server or a voice comms channel in place. Still, with technical hurdles successfully vaulted we got stuck in to some serious swordplay.

One of the first things that strikes a new player joining a public Warband server is that it doesn’t look much like a battle. All the right bits are there, knights in shining are pinning yeoman to trees, the clash of steel rings out to a counterpoint of pain, arrows rain from the sky, fallen litter the field – all that good stuff, but it’s all the wrong shape. It doesn’t look like a battlefield. People are too spread out, breaking off into little one-on-one or two-on-three micro-battles. Even team modes like CTF and Battle can feel worryingly close to a Counterstrike match with the ammo removed: everyone scurrying about trying to stick each other in the back with something sharp. What I’m driving at is there’s a distinct lack of formation in Warband, and surely that’s the signature of pre-industrial fisticuffs? We’ve been fed a big block-shaped diet of Spartacus and Braveheart, and more importantly of Total War. We expect our roughhousing to be rectilinear. Now not actually having ever been in a real medieval battle, I’m in no position to say whether these martial manoeuvrings at all reflect the look and feel of pointed-stick warfare, but it’s certainly what one expects.


So of course the first thing anyone with a hunger for that special kind of gaming thrill that only comes from multiplayer cooperation does is try and form a hedgehog. A big shield wall block of infantry bristling with spikey pikes. And so we did, or at least we tried to. Here’s where we meet our first and possible greatest problem: I’m 100% sure our burgeoning band of bludgeoners can overcome issues of organisation in the weeks to come, but population deficit may be our Achilles Heel. After last night’s first stab, I reckon that in order to form a decent hedgehog you need at least eight pikemen, any less and the block is too small to repel absorb the impact of a small cavalry charge. You get outflanked and the gaps in your sides and rear get exploited. Also, when dealing with enemy infantry, inevitably one or two eager fellows get drawn out of the line to engage a skirmishing foe, then get picked off. So, eight strong men and true it is for that then. That works, but it does leave you rather short in other departments if you’ve only got around twelve men to start with. You see Warband looks like it will demand balance if we’re to pull this vision of militant order off. The hedgehog on it’s own can handle cavalry charges, but soon gets wittled down by probing infantry and withering arrow fire, so you need some cavalry to go out and mop those archers up, and some archers of your own to harass the enemy infantry. It’s that classic rock, paper, shotgun… sorry scissors… thing. This is actually brilliant if you think about it. This is what you wantwork. But as I say it demands a fairly high population of organised fellows.


Last night was only the first of many, and achieving that level of mass organisation is the aim of this experiment. In the forums we’ve created a little war room (no fighting) where we’ll be attempting to get things a little more organised now the morning star is rolling. We had a good turnout last night, but now I want to grow that 25 and split you off into groups of Archers, Infantry and Cavalry. We already have a few people who’ve expressed and interest in one particular area but we need more. Why not head over to the forums now and sign up to this man’s army? You’ll also find the next Training Knight details, and details for the dedicated server itself, therein.

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43 Comments »

  1. Sobric says:

    Ack this sounds better with every write up, I’ll have a look tonight! (long time M&B player, but I keep on losing my key and I’ve already bought the game 3 times – now it’s full price I just don’t want to).

    Also, I think medieval battles probably did look a lot like that – you just need someone yelling at you to form a line. Maybe try Roman infantry-style lines? Complete with throwing-spears to chuck at horses heads when they get too near.

    • snv says:

      Uh, i lost my key once. Then i used the key retrieval system on their homepage. I can’t remember the details; it was a hassle, but it worked.

      Just a suggestion…

    • Sobric says:

      Part of the problem is the loss of previous email (university address, silly me), or old old emails that I don’t use/can’t remember password/can’t remember address. Nevermind.

  2. Wilson says:

    This is tempting me to buy the game. I enjoyed Mount and Blade, and I had some fun in the multiplayer beta too. Hopefully this will be something that goes on for a long time, so it’ll still be around whenever I get the game :)

  3. Entropy says:

    Check it out! I’m the archer on the top screenshot, on the left. I feel so proud. =D
    …Not that I actually hit anything. I think I hit maybe…2 dudes? at close range… with 90 arrows.

    • Wilson says:

      @Entropy – I like your hat.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I’m in the bottom one, with the bear insignia. Yup, the one that’s completely blocked out.

      I feel sorry for you guys. You’ll never see my face, and its quite something to behold. Like a medieval Arabic Einstein.

      Was a right old laugh, anyway. Looking forward to the next one!

  4. robrob says:

    I really wish I could join you guys on this, I’ve been playing Mount & Blade since before it was invented but it won’t run on my rubbish laptop :(

    Can I help in an auxiliary role? Fletching digital arrows, sharpening e-swords, that sort of thing?

  5. toot says:

    DAMN!!! This sounds too good to be true, only thing keeping me away is the time investment and the lack of players, but I’ll delve deeper into this matter

  6. toot says:

    Do you actually need mount and blade as well, or not? I mean, it says it’s a stand alone expansion, but does this mean you still benefit from having mount and blade, i.e. more weapons or something or not?

  7. Isometric says:

    Damn I thought it stuff was happening tonight, not last night. I’ve got the IP of the server and joined the group now so crisis averted aye.

  8. MrTambourineMan says:

    Wow, it seems really cool, but the price of game is too high – 30€ on Steam, for that I’d rather buy Revenge of the Titans and Bayonetta (game.co.uk) and spend the rest for a couple of beers in a local joint.

  9. dave says:

    This sounds awesome, when RPSH gets round to forming a coup and installs Captain Beardface as the CEO im so going to pointy stick some dudes.

  10. ChaK_ says:

    looks cool.

    though I only enjoy horses in my plate

  11. Metalfish says:

    Looks like I might be getting this sooner or later. Personally (if the beta is anything to go by), I work best as shock infantry or archers/skirmishers. Whilst I can ride a horse, I’d rather use a swinging weapon than a jabby-pointy thing. Mostly though, I like doing what everyone else isn’t.

  12. Lack_26 says:

    I couldn’t find the server via the server browser so couldn’t join (I’d been searching since you posted the announcement that the server was up), did you use an app outside of the main game or does Warband just hate me?

  13. N says:

    What the hell happened to the bad company server anyway?

  14. laikapants says:

    Well damn, unless you have frequent weekend outings, then I shall be forever unable to attend as these seem to be occurring whilst I’m at work.

  15. Choca says:

    I hate you RPS for making me buy games I probably won’t have the time to play.

  16. Tom OBedlam says:

    How beginner friendly is this? I’m nearly finished at uni and could do with some to occupy my summer.

  17. pabswikk says:

    Omg I think I might be the archer on the right. It’s a good thing the picture doesn’t show how godawful I am with a bow. Or me getting shot in the face like a second later.

  18. Entropy says:

    Yeah, the screenshot makes me look a lot more competent than I actually am =P
    Also I got cut down not long after that, since I didn’t have a melee weapon

  19. ThePieSpy says:

    I’ve seen formations work a couple of times in warband. About 10 or so spearmen backed up by 3-5 decent archers will destroy cavalry and allow you to advance pretty handily on other archers.

    Small scale teamwork can be effective too. Me and some other dudes from TG ArmA have a favorite tactic of using strong shields coupled with spears, if you manage to surround someone he cant really attack anyone without getting stab-ified by the other two spears. Keep an eye out for our mighty purple and white unicorn shields next time your on a North American server.

  20. utharda says:

    Until Tom Clancy’s Friendly Fire Incident is developed, I might just see if I can walk in a straight line, with some practice.

  21. Shadrach says:

    I had a quick try of MP before but found it very confusing and frustrating. This sounds very nub-friendly and if you can get a full server (64 is it?) I recon this could be epic.

  22. ZIGS says:

    I should get this game. Should I get this game?

  23. DarkFenix says:

    Pretty sure in the top screenshot I’m about 10 yards behind Entropy, probably lying in a pool of my own blood. Damn I suck with Sarranids.

  24. Torgen says:

    I wish there were a “spectator” option for most multi player games. It would be fun just to hover over the battlefield and watch :)

    • Vinraith says:

      @Torgen

      I presume that it’s generally not been a standard feature because of bandwidth limitations and not wanting to impinge on the speeds of those actually playing the game, but I agree that in many cases MP-capable games would be more valuable to me if a spectator option was involved. For one thing, it’s a good way to learn a bit about the MP side of a game without having to go out and make an idiot of yourself. For another, it can be darn entertaining in its own right.

  25. LB says:

    Actually, going by my memories of Mount & Blade’s single-player, “rock, paper, shotgun” is an excellent descriptor of the unit balance.

    Heavy cavalry plays the role of “shotgun”.

  26. Malagate says:

    I’m so disappointed I missed this, especially as I joined the steam group especially for it :( and I’ve got a wealth of experience from before too! Had a long break for a while though so my chamber-blocking has degraded, but that’s not really a useful ability in a formation.

    Also LB, Warband multiplayer is (un)fortunately not the same as M&B when it comes to heavy cavalry, couch charging is not so much the ICBM of Medieval times as it used to be. Mainly because you’re not playing against AI, but also because the mechanic has changed (press x to level a couch, you can aim it better than before but if you hit/after a few moments you will lose your ability to couch for a few seconds). Right now I’d say the shotgun would be either a good archer/x-bow man or a fast two-hander (most swords, some long axes too). High speed, long reach, powerful enough to 1-hit-kill pretty much anyone, even just spamming them can be effective.

  27. Jhoosier says:

    I want to play! Need to get the game, this post is putting me over the edge. I just hope I get to play with people in an organized fashion, not just run around by myself.

  28. Gareth says:

    Ah man, I really wanted to join in on this. Unfortunately after ‘upgrading’ my BT broadband service a couple of weeks ago it ceased to give me any broadband at all. Finger crossed that the 2nd engineer visit on Friday will sort it all out (spy must have sapped the first ones sentry), then I will join in the fun!

  29. DrGonzo says:

    Is this game netbook friendly? Bare in mind I have a netbook with an Ion in it.

    • Jhoosier says:

      These are the system requirements:

      * Operating system: Windows 2000/ME/XP/Vista/Windows 7
      * Processor: 2.1Ghz or higher
      * Memory: 1 GB
      * Hard disk space: 900 MB
      * Video: Graphics card (128 MB+)
      * Sound: Direct X-compatible sound card
      * DirectX®: Directx 9c
      * 3-button mouse, keyboard and speakers
      * Internet Connection required for multiplayer and Online Activation

  30. tigershuffle says:

    As far as I know you can download the demo of Warband and play a character up to Level 7 in single player only. Though the vanilla Warband singleplayer isnt that much of a leap from M&B the mods so far released are really good.
    Multiplayer is exellent especially if you find yourself in a public server with a clan thats practicing

    Its a good way of practicing before buying and once bought you can get yrself in the multiplayer and have some ability ;)

    Im loving the Litus mod and there are already a good selection nearing full release.

  31. Railick says:

    I had the same exact thing happen to me. I bought Mount and Blade way back when it was for sale but not nearly finished and the e-mail I used to buy it was a university one so when I left university I couldn’t remember or access it :P Ah well , just know you’re not the only one.

  32. Bob says:

    If anyone in the UK is after this, Zavvi have it £14.95 or other shops here

    http://www.find-games.co.uk/21611-mount-and-blade-warband-collectors-edition.htm#B002RL9RKY

    All cheaper than Steam anyway :D

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