If you're playing Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord, there will come a point where that first fief falls into your hands, and you'll come face to face with the monster that is settlement management.
These settlements provide significant benefits for their owner but can be confusing. This guide covers the main aspects of castle and town management along with tips and tricks to make the most of your new lands.
Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord Loyalty & Security
The two most important stats for any would-be ruler to consider are loyalty and security, as these have knock-on effects on everything else. They will also drift towards 50 for each, making it easier to keep them at an average level but harder to reach the bonuses you'd receive the closer you get to 100.
Bonuses increase wealth generation and building speed, but if you drop below 50, these become negatives. Below 25, not only will all building stop, but you will approach the point of rebellion where the settlement will declare independence and become a new faction. This will happen as the militia grows substantially larger and eventually takes over.
Loyalty can be increased in several ways. You get up to +1 from having high security, and can also build Fairgrounds, which gives +0.5 for each level up to +1.5. You will also gain +1 loyalty for having a governor of the same culture for the settlement.
If your loyalty drops too low, it's a good idea to swap to the daily default festival and games, which boosts it by a whopping +3 a day.
Conversely, loyalty can be lowered by as much as -1 by having low security, and -1 by having a governor of a different culture. Both of these pale in comparison to the owner culture penalty. If you, as the player, hold a settlement of a different culture, it will always receive a flat -3. This is a huge penalty and negates every major bonus you can have except for the festival.
Still, keeping security high helps a lot and slightly improves taxes. High prosperity increases crime and lowers security, but that is only really important in large towns. A more pressing issue is the -2 for looted villages.
Fortunately, security can be improved in more ways than loyalty, such as keeping villages safe, wiping out any hideouts that naturally give a -2 when active, or completing quests in the area.
The biggest bonus comes from a large garrison though, and having lots of troops stationed inside massively increases security. But, these cost money, so you may lose more than you'd gain from the high-security tax benefits.
Bannerlord Prosperity & Tax
Prosperity determines how much your settlement is worth, with castles being low-value, and towns being much better. Prosperity will increase over time as long as there is food available and loyalty is high and is the primary attribute in your taxable income.
Tax income doesn't just rely on your prosperity though, and maintaining high security and loyalty will substantially increase it. The opposite is also true, and low numbers will cripple the settlements' ability to earn denars.
Building a marketplace or toll collector (town or castle) is a valid strategy, offering a 5% boost per level. However, as with all projects, they take a long time to build and there are often more pressing concerns.
Keeping bound villages free from raiders and pillaging will also increase your income directly, as each village contributes its own small tax to your coffers.
Your taxes also go towards paying for the garrison troops you have placed in the settlement. So, while a safe settlement with high loyalty and a small garrison will earn you a lot of money, having low loyalty and needing forces to defend against sieges can quickly bankrupt a new player without any additional income.
Bannerlord Garrisons & Militia
Garrison forces are useful, and not just to defend your settlement or buff your security. If you ever find yourself low on troops and unable to find recruits, you might want to transfer men from the Garrisons directly into your own party.
Your settlement won't be left undefended without a garrison though, as each has a militia of automatically generated units used for siege defence. These probably won't be as good as any soldiers you add to the garrison, but will suffice for any settlement that's not located on the front lines.
The maximum number of both garrison and militia troops can be increased by building the garrison barracks or militia grounds, but be warned, your garrison consumes a lot of food.
Food is mostly consumed by prosperity and the garrison, but it's produced inside the settlement along with the bound villages surrounding them.
Food items in the store also contribute to it, so if you notice a settlement starving, you can sell some grain to make up the difference. This is quite time-consuming, although it can help to speed up growth if that's what you're looking for.
Bannerlord Projects & Reserve
Projects consist of the buildings available for construction and the daily defaults that will give a small bonus when no construction is in progress.
Each building project offers some major bonuses to the settlement but does take a long time to construct. The bonuses are all listed on the management screen, but if you're just starting it's a good idea to grab what's most important at the time, and worry about long-term goals later.
By this, we mean that if your settlement is on the border, focus on walls, garrison barracks, or siege workshops. If you are fairly safe but have the wrong culture, buff up loyalty with fairgrounds. If everything is looking good, concentrate on prosperity with the marketplace/toll collector or the aqueduct.
Whatever you're building, adding money to the reserve is a good way of speeding things up. For 500 denars a day, you can add +20 to castles and +50 to the construction stat in towns. This can add up quickly, but can easily halve the time it will take to get those walls improved in time for the next war.
As mentioned above, a governor of the correct culture will add to the settlement loyalty, but if you were thinking that wasn't enough of a reason to waste a companion slot, think again. Governors are characters with perks and skill trees that can turn a run-down, backwoods, rebellious town into a regional powerhouse given enough time.
For this reason, it's a good idea to pick up companions early with the culture and basic bonuses you'd like, and then level them up in your party, picking perks that will provide bonuses for your settlements later on.
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