Given that Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is at its core a war game, battle tactics are extremely important. The way in which your army charges into battle and responds to the AIs tactics is vital to victory.
Battle formations can be changed in the deployment menu at the start of the battle. You can also give formation orders mid-battle by using the function keys on your keyboard. This is where you can also do things like command selected units to charge or indirectly engage enemy forces.
The various Bannerlord formations found on the field of battle can be devastating to both the player and AI, if used properly. The first thing to consider when picking battle formations is the composition of your army. If you have an infantry-heavy force, certain slower or large formations aren’t going to be as effective. Keep reading to learn more about formations in Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord and how to use them.
This is the standard choice for all formations, and the one that’s on by default. It’s good when you’re just charging down small troops, but has limited use in large battles where you could be facing hundreds of opponents. The biggest problems with this formation are its limited defense against both cavalry charge and arrow fire. Since the shields or spears in an infantry unit aren’t tightly packed in this formation, it’s very vulnerable to a heavy cavalry charge. Its compact size will make moving across the map and concentrating forces a bit easier.
Best Uses for Line Formation in Bannerlord:
- Light infantry against other light infantry
- Cavalry chasing down fleeing units
- In small battles where tactics don’t matter too much, just issue a Charge command and be done.
This is one of the better general-use battle formations in Bannerlord. This packs your units in tight, and allows them to withstand cavalry charges quite well. Use the options within the deployment screen to get all your heavy infantry into one formation, and then give them this command. You will be able to use them to great effectiveness in blunting charges. The biggest problem with this formation in Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord
is that it’s very slow and cumbersome to use. It’s also much easier to get hit by arrow fire when using this formation. The best compliment to using heavy infantry shield walls is to have your cavalry follow you, then charge behind the enemy line to find their archers. Smash down enemy ranged units with lightning-fast charges, and they’re much less of a threat. Use the ALT key to highlight enemy unit positions on the overview easier. Once you’ve spotted the archers, give your cavalry the Follow Me command (F1 then F2) to hit the archers with repeated charges.
Another option is to hary the enemy with your own archers using the Engage command. Be sure to separate your unit type into their own formations on the Deployment screen to make grabbing your archers much easier.
Best Uses for Shield Wall Formation in Bannerlord:
- Heavy infantry is the king with this configuration.
- Make sure to complement this formation with supporting troops of some kind.
- You could use this in sieges to get your units closer to the walls as well, avoiding withering arrow fire.
As the name implies this is a loose line of units in a single formation. This is best used for archers or when you need to fight a wider formation. If you’re facing down a long line of archers, spreading your units out can help them charge down the enemy forces without taking too much damage. A very weak formation when it comes to charges and fast-moving strikes. Cavalry should almost never be put into this configuration. This is mostly the domain of archers and large blocks of infantry.
Best Uses for Loose Formation in Bannerlord:
- Avoid arrow fire while chasing down enemy forces
- Put your archers into a long line in this formation and they will be able to fire over a wide area.
The best way to use this would be to counter large lines of infantry. Or as an anti-cavalry block. If you know you’re up against a horse-heavy force, put your best spearmen into this setup and let them blunt charges. Support a unit in this formation with a lot of cavalry counter-charges or ranged fire. This will help them last longer. The one big downside is how specifically placed a unit has to be to use this effectively. You almost have to use your best and toughest infantry in a relatively stationary position to make this work. Units will get surrounded fighting in this position, so be sure to keep supporting cav close by to slam into the backs of your enemies.
Best Uses for Square Formation in Bannerlord:
- The Square Formation in Bannerlord is reserved mostly for defensive actions. Park your heaviest units in the middle of a block of supporting forces, and let them just chew through enemy units.
- Always support a Square formation with cavalry charges into the flanks of enemy groupings.
A refined and rather strange version of the Square Formation, but it doesn’t have any of the strengths. You can’t fight as tightly with heavy units in this setup, and it’s just as vulnerable to arrow fire and being compressed by an infantry mass. If the circle gets too squished by a mass of enemies, it just turns into a much weaker line formation.
Best Uses for Circle Formation in Bannerlord:
- Unfortunately, there are almost no circumstances where you should ever find yourself needing the Circle battle formation.
Skein is the best charging formation in the game, hands down. This wedge is great for both countering incoming charges and dealing lighting-fast strikes to thin lines. If you’re hunting down enemy ranged forces, use the Skein formation and your cavalry to punch a hole right through them. If a Line or other simple formation is about to be charged, you can also order a defending unit into this formation to force the enemy to wrap around your unit. This exposes the enemy flanks a bit, allowing for a stunning cavalry charge in response.
Best Uses for Skein Formation in Bannerlord:
- Cavalry charging into lightly-armored units will do massive damage in Skein.
- Heavy infantry can be ordered into this formation as well to blunt incoming charges.
Column is a very easy-to-use order, as it arranges your soldiers into a long line, facing front to back. This only really has one use, as it’s easier to get units to cross bridges in this form. If you’re fighting in a village, use this to order your infantry across a bridge if you need to. Although with the way the AI works, using infantry to bottleneck the bridge, which then allows arrows to rain down upon your foes is so much better. If you’re going to use this formation, it should only really be to move units around.
Best Uses for Column Formation in Bannerlord:
- Only really useful for getting across bridges with light infantry. If you need to fight, take them out of this formation ASAP.
A more widespread version of the Loose Formation in Bannerlord. The Scatter Formation in Mount & Blade 2 is a pretty basic order, and only really useful if you need a unit to be spread out over a huge area. Problem is, there’s no real way to do anything other than dodge arrow fire with this move. You’re better off just using Loose and coordinating your units to better cover each other from infantry and horse units.
Best Uses for Scatter Formation in Bannerlord:
- Unfortunately, there are almost no circumstances where you should ever find yourself needing the Scatter battle formation.
Other things you might want to learn are how to properly manage your party’s size and movement speed. No use building a massive army if it’s too slow to fight. Smithing and other crafting disciplines are key to outfitting your troops. And knowing how to deal with rival lords and vassals is key to actually building that army.