For a full list of one-handed perks, see here.

One of the main advantages of focusing on a one-handed weapon build in Bannerlord, is the ability to wield a shield. While you will deal less damage than you would by using a two-handed build or even a powerful ranged based build, you will generally find it much easier to hold your ground in larger battles. For example, when besieging a settlement you will be the target of numerous archer, crossbow, and thrown weapon units firing from battlements. Without a shield, you will need to constantly alter your position to avoid incoming projectiles, but with a shield you will be able to edge your way forward, toward the gates and walls, while remaining in a tight formation.

If a shield build is what you want to work toward, you will benefit from selecting the following background skills during character creation (for a full breakdown of background skills, see Defining Background Skills):

  • Family - ’Urban Blacksmith:’ +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Smithing and Two-Handed weapons. 1 Attribute Point to Vigor.

  • 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 - ’With the alley gangs:’ +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Roguery and One-Handed weapons. 1 Attribute Point to Cunning.

  • Youth - ’Trained with the infantry:’ +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Polearm and One-Handed weapons. 1 Attribute Point to Vigor.

  • Young Adulthood - ’You defeated an enemy in battle:’ +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to One-Handed weapons and Two-Handed weapons. 1 Attribute Point to Vigor. +1 to Valor and +20 Renown.

  • Story Background - ’You subdued a raider:’ +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to One-Handed weapons and Athletics. 1 Attribute Point to Vigor.

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.

Selecting these background skills will provide you with the highest skill in one-handed weapons and their associated attributes and skills at the beginning of the game. You can then gradually improve your skill in one-handed weapons by investing attribute points in Vigor and skill points in one-handed combat. This will increase the learning rate of of that particular skill, allowing you to level it faster as you use one-handed weapons in battle scenarios. Aside from one-handed swords, maces, and axes, using your shield also contributes to levelling your skill one-handed combat. This applies when using it to block incoming melee hits, projectiles, and also when you use it to attack with a shield bash. To use shield bash, hold the right mouse button [RMB] and press [E] by default.

You will need to consider which weapon you want to specialise in one-handed combat between sword, mace, and axe at a relatively early stage. This is because at level 50 in the one-handed perk tree, you are given the option to gain +5% damage wielding one-handed axes and maces with the perk ‘To Be Blunt’, at the expense of +2% swing speed with the perk ‘Strong Arms’. This is the only point in the perk tree at which you will need to decide on the weapon that you’ll specialise in going forward. Keep in mind that blunt weapons do more damage to heavily armoured opponents, while swords are generally faster, have greater reach, and allow you to slash through multiple enemies. While you can slash through multiple enemies with axes, their reach is much shorter than swords and you won’t be able to do this with maces.

If you want to focus on creating the toughest possible tank build with a shield, you should focus on choosing the following perks from the one-handed perk tree: Deflect (Level 25), Shield Bearer (Level 75), Trainer (Level 100). At level 125 you will need to decide between Arrow Catcher and Shield Wall. The former will grant you a greater shield surface area for defence against ranged weapons, while the latter will reduce the damage to your shield when you block from the side. At level 200 you will benefit from Steel Core Shields. At level 225 you will benefit from Unwavering Defence. The alternate perks in this tree will improve your damage and speed with one-handed weapons, or provide bonuses to party management which are irrelevant to personal one-handed skills. While Deflect is the best option at level 25 if you want the toughest possible build, you might want to opt for Basher if you’d prefer to balance a good defence with reasonable offence.

Note: The best possible damage output isn’t necessarily the strong point of a one-handed build. It is therefore recommended to specialise in it only if you want the option to switch between a decent offensive build and a tough, shield-based defensive build. If maximum melee damage is what you prefer, a two-handed (on foot) or polearm (on horseback) build is recommended.

In terms of equipment for a one-handed build, there are four weapon slots which allow for multiple options. If you want to focus on switching between damage types, you can have both a mace and a sword or axe in your weapon slots. This will allow you to use a sword when fighting multiple opponents, granting greater reach and the ability to slash through more than one enemy, with the option to switch to a mace if you encounter a particularly heavily armoured opponent. At the same time, you can keep a shield equipped at all times, but note that this will decrease your movement speed, whether you are wielding it or not, until you unlock the Shield Bearer perk at level 75. If you know that you want to stick to permanently wield either a sword, axe, or mace, you can use the extra slots to equip throwing weapons such as javelins, throwing axes, or throwing knives. These can be particulalry useful during sieges while assaulting battlements, or simply on the battlefield to take out a few enemies before they reach your shield wall.

Although most of the best weapons are those which can be crafted in smithing, there are some that can be acquired from large settlement markets, or from lords and other powerful opponents on the battlefield. In terms of one-handed weapons, you should look out for:

One-handed swords:

  • Engraved Backsword: Superior cut damage, average swing speed and handling, no pierce damage
Swing Speed Cut Damage Length Handling
82 103 110 78
  • Thamaskene Steel Spatha: Excellent pierce damage and good handling, less cut damage
Swing Speed Cut Damage Length Handling Pierce Damage Thrust Speed
88 75 110 89 51 90
  • Thamaskene Steel Warsword: Superior swing speed and handling, less cut and pierce damage
Swing Speed Cut Damage Length Handling Pierce Damage Thrust Speed
103 68 66 102 41 90

One-handed axes:

  • Round Bitted Fine Steel Hatchet: Excellent cut damage, good length and handling
Swing Speed Cut Damage Length Handling
88 82 85 85
  • Northern Rectangular Bitted Axe: Excellent cut damage, good length and handling
Swing Speed Cut Damage Length Handling
88 82 84 84
  • Northern Spiked Battle Axe: Excellent swing speed and handling, less cut damage and reach
Swing Speed Cut Damage Length Handling
95 73 67 94

One-handed maces:

  • Cataphracts Mace: Superior blunt damage and reach, good handling
Swing Speed Blunt Damage Length Handling
81 89 75 89
  • Fullered Western Mace: Good swing speed and handling, less reach and blunt damage
Swing Speed Blunt Damage Length Handling
92 69 56 99
  • Calradic Mace: Superior swing speed and handling, less blunt damage and reach
Swing Speed Blunt Damage Length Handling
101 63 47 106

Note: These are just a few of the best weapons of these types in Bannerlord, but each of the above have been chosen for their different strengths in specific categories.

These weapons are not too difficult to find in the early game, but they can be expensive. The swords are the most expensive, around 8,000 - 13,000 denars, while axes are much cheaper, between 2,000 - 4,000 denars. The maces are rarely found above 3,000 denars. Each of these weapons 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.

Note: In addition to one-handed swords, maces, and axes, you can also use a spear with a shield build. This would be used in circumstances where you need the most reach in tight spaces, as they are poor slashing weapons and there are no spear-based bonuses from the perk tree.

Guide Information

  • Publisher
    TaleWorlds Entertainment
  • Platforms
    PC, Steam
  • Genre
    Action RPG, Sandbox
  • Guide Release
    23 April 2020
  • Last Updated
    14 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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