For a full list of bow perks, see here.

To choose archery as your main form of combat in Bannerlord is a completely viable option. You will find that you can do a lot of damage to multiple enemies in a short amount of time. Even when facing heavily armoured opponents, once you’ve levelled your skill in archery beyond level 100 or so, you will find that most head shots will kill an enemy instantly, and even some upper torso hits. The main weakness to an archery build is the potential for being exposed to enemy infantry and cavalry. It is therefore recommended that you recruit a sufficient number of your own infantry and cavalry troops to counteract any attempt to flank your ranks. In particular, you should focus on at least 30% of your army being infantry, preferably with spears and shields, and a minimum of 10% cavalry. These troops can be used to counter melee assaults of enemy forces, allowing you to remain focused on inflicting heavy damage to enemy troops with your own bow, and those of your fellow archers. The true joy of archery is found when you are leading a group of archers which can decimate an entire legion of troops within seconds. You can do the same on horseback, but you may find it more difficult to become familiar with aiming at high speed.

If you want to focus on creating an archer build, you will benefit from selecting the following background skills during character creation (for a full breakdown of background skills, see Defining Background Skills):

  • Family - Mercenaries: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Roguery and Crossbow. 1 Attribute Point to Control.

  • Early Childhood - Your attention to detail: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Athletics and One-Handed weapons. 1 Attribute Point to Control.

  • Adolescence - At the town watch’s training ground: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Crossbow and Tactics. 1 Attribute Point to Control.

  • Youth - Joined the skirmishers: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Throwing and Bow. 1 Attribute Point to Control.

  • Young Adulthood - You survived a siege: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Bow and Crossbow. 1 Attribute Point to Control. +5 Renown.

  • Story Background - You drove them off with arrows: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Bow and Tactics. 1 Attribute Point to Control.

Note: These background skills are recommended based on the core improvements to this specific combat type. You may wish to select different skills to balance other areas of development in trade, crafting, social, and leadership abilities depending on your preferences. Not all options improve bow skill, but instead focus on its associated attribute: Control.

Selecting these background skills will provide you with the highest skill in archery and its associated attributes, skills, and perks at the beginning of the game. You can then gradually improve your skill in archery by investing attribute points in Control and skill points in Bow combat. This will increase the learning rate of of that particular skill, allowing you to level it faster as you use bows in battle scenarios. The more frequently bows are used, the faster your skill level with them will increase. This applies even to the amount of times that you execute a successful draw with the bow. The most experience is earned upon successful hits, especially if you are able to kill one or more enemies with one hit, but you can also earn experience by using the bow in general during a lull in fighting.

The Bow perk tree generally improves speed, damage, and accuracy when using a bow. For example, the first perk at level 25 is Marksman, which provides +10% accuracy with bows. At level 50 you can choose to increase the time in which you can hold your aim at maximum drawback by 15% with Strong Pull, or increase readying speed by 10% with Faster Aim. The perk you choose will depend on your playstyle, whether you tend to aim and shoot quickly or take more time to consider your shots. At level 100 you can select Mounted Archer, which allows you to use your bow on horseback. If you’d rather remain a foot archer, you can increase quiver size by 3 with Large Quiver. At level 200 you can reduce the time it takes for aim accuracy to reach 100% when bow is drawn by 10%, or you can increase quiver size by a further 10.

Other perks in the Bow tree allow you to select various buffs to your party, or debuffs for enemy units. For example, at level 125 you can select either Intimidate Archers or Intimidate Infantry. The former applies a morale debuff of -2 to enemy archers, and the latter the same debuff to infantry. This remains constant throughout a battle. At level 150 you can increase your party size by 3 with Merry Men, and at level 175 you can select Instructor, which provides archers in your army with a lower Bow skill than yourself with XP as they wait passively on the map. The level 225 perks allow you to increase your own skill with the bow by improving arrow flight speed by 3% and arrow damage by 7% with Howling Bolt, or if you prefer to buff your own troops you can select Pick Targets to provide +10% accuracy for nearby troops on the battlefield. Finally, level 275 allows you to purchase any ranged unit with -30% to cost.

In terms of equipment for an archer build, you have 4 weapon slots available to you. If you want to go down the route of only ever using the bow as a primary weapon, you can use slot 1 for your bow and the other 3 purely for ammunition in the form of quivers. This will provide you with the most amount of arrows on the battlefield, but you may be vulnerable if you’re caught off guard by a group of melee units. This doesn’t mean that you absolutely must reserve a slot for at least 1 melee weapon. Instead, you can wait until your troops have killed a number of enemy melee units, and then pick up a melee weapon from a fallen troop when necessary. You can also pick up weapons from your own fallen allies. The choice is yours. If you want to ensure that you’re never ambushed in a tight spot within a settlement where bows might be difficult to use, it is recommended to have at least one melee weapon in your weapon slots.

Tip: If you plan to create a horse archer build, it is worth considering using a weapon with sufficiently long reach to switch to melee cavalry charges when necessary. Polearms are generally preferred on horseback, but you can use one-handed or two-handed weapons if you adjust to the required reach for a successful hit.

It is not currently possible to craft bows in Bannerlord, but there are some which you can find from battlefield loot, and from marketplaces, which will serve you well:

  • Longbow: Decent starting bow as you improve bow skill, doesn’t compare to more advanced bows
Draw Speed Pierce Damage Accuracy Missile Speed
85 50 88 70
  • Noble Bow: Superior draw speed and missile speed, less pierce damage and slightly less accuracy
Draw Speed Pierce Damage Accuracy Missile Speed
94 80 98 90
  • Noble Longbow: Superior pierce damage, excellent draw speed and accuracy, less missile speed
Draw Speed Pierce Damage Accuracy Missile Speed
91 95 99 85

In terms of the best arrows, Piercing Arrows provide the most damage and accuracy, but stack to only 23 by default. Stacked Bodkin Arrows provide less damage but the same level of accuracy, and stack to 32 by default. Stacked Steppe Arrows provide less damage still, but retain the same accuracy and can be stacked to 36 by default. These three types are currently the best in the game. It is probably a good idea to stack some of each, to ensure a balance between the highest damaging arrows, while still being able to carry more than you otherwise would with three slots of Piercing Arrows alone. Be sure to manage your use of arrows wisely so that you’re not needlessly depleting your stack early in a battle. The best arrows can become a drain on resources when used frivolously.

These bows are not too difficult to find in the early game, but the noble bows are relatively expensive, especially compared to the regular Longbow. Each can be found on the battlefield, especially after fighting a lord. It is therefore recommended that you join a faction and participate in a large battle with an ally lord against an enemy lord as soon as possible. This will allow you to earn a lot of money in a short amount of time, while also providing you with an opportunity to loot some of the best items with little effort.

Guide Information

  • Publisher
    TaleWorlds Entertainment
  • Platforms
    PC, Steam
  • Genre
    Action RPG, Sandbox
  • Guide Release
    23 April 2020
  • Last Updated
    29 October 2020
    Version History
  • Guide Author
    Scott Peers

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The empire of Calradia is plagued by inner conflict, tearing the structure of the old order as new lines are drawn on the map. The chaos creates a dangerous world, with opportunities to capitalise on the uncertainty of the future. Control trade routes to manipulate production and distribution of resources, join factions to gain renown and influence world politics, or create your own clan to build a world of your own. Whatever path you choose, this guide will help you to understand the intricacies of the Bannerlord economy, combat, factions, skills and perks, tactics, troop types, character builds, smithing system, quests, and much more to ensure that you are never left wondering what to do next, or how you might go about doing it.

  • Guide to quests for each region, includes main quests and side quests
  • Guide to combat system, includes basic and advanced techniques for different weapons
  • Guide to combat tactics, includes how to organise troops on the battlefield and simulation battles
  • Guide to attribute, skill, and perk systems, includes recommended perks for each character build
  • Guide to companion system, includes where to find the best companions and how to get the most out of them
  • Guide to the economy system, includes detailed description of trade system and each method for gaining wealth

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