Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Best Culture - How To Choose

Mount and Blade 2 best Culture
How to Choose?

The first real decision you are faced with in Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord, is what culture you want your character to be from. This choice will have a small, but consistent impact on the rest of the game. This is because each of the six cultures you can choose from give you a stat boost, some of which are incredibly useful and some of which...are less so.

So let’s go through each of them, and look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Bannerlord’s cultures. 

Sturgia

The Sturgians are a strong warrior culture from Northern Calradia. Descended from mercenaries and merchants from further north, they conquered the Northern regions of Calradia as the Calradian Empire began to decline in power.

Sturgian Strengths: 

  • Very strong infantry units
  • Cultural bonus gives you 20% less of a speed penalty in snow
  • Location on the northern tip of the map gives them limited borders to defend
  • Infantry units are exceptional when used in a shield wall

Sturgian Weaknesses:

  • Their noble troop tree doesn’t really stand out at all
  • Cultural bonus is really only useful in Sturgian lands, nowhere else in Calradia
  • Limited options for Ranged or Mounted units

Choose this Culture if: 

  • You want to focus on infantry in your army
  • You want some room to breathe from the other cultures on the continent

Behind the Scenes:

  • Sturgians are based on a group of city-states in medieval Russia
  • In series cannon within the next 500 years, this faction has been replaced largely by the more Norse-themed Nord’s from Nordland, to Calradia’s north
  • They have some of the strongest infantry units in the game making them good at storming castle walls, and at crippling enemy cavalries

Vlandia

In years past, the predecessors of the Vlandians were brought to Calradia and given lands in exchange for mercenary work for the Empire, who needed help keeping the various hostile tribes across the continent in check. This backfired however, when the Vlandians, enjoying their new life in Calradia, broke with the empire and declared their own kingdom along the western coast of Calradia. 

Vlandian Strengths:

  • Cultural bonus gives your troops 20% more XP from battles, which is incredibly useful especially in the early game when you are trying to level your first group of soldiers. 
  • Strongest crossbow units, the Sharpshooters
  • Their Noble troops level up into very solid heavy cavalry, the Banner Knight. 
  • Placement of their initial lands ensures they mostly have to worry about the Empire
  • Nearly all units have polearms, making the Vlandian army incredibly strong against cavalry

Vlandian Weaknesses:

  • Weak heavy infantry until highest levels
  • Severe lack of shields for units
  • Vlandians favor crossbows to bows, making their ranged units much slower to fire and reload

Choose this Culture if:

  • You want the aesthetic of European medieval warfare
  • You want to favor heavy cavalry and polearms
  • You want a strong starting advantage via the cultural bonus, that will continue to be useful throughout the whole game. 

Behind the Scenes:

  • In this writer’s opinion, Vlandia is the only faction that has a strong chance of conquering the empire without masterful tactics. I’ve also seen them conquer the entire map all on their own in more than one playthrough of my own.
  • In the series canon, Vlandia survives for the next several hundred years, only splitting between the Kingdom of Swadia, and the Kingdom of the Rhodoks who rebelled and split off, taking half the territory with them.
  • They are heavily based on the cultures of Western Europe. 

The Empire

For hundreds of years prior to the start of the game, the Empire was the definitive and unquestionable power in Calradia. However since the previous Emperor died things have gone downhill quickly. A civil war broke out, splitting the empire into three factions, each vying for the throne. Taking advantage of this infighting, the various other factions in the game either declared independence, or united to challenge the once indomitable empire. 

The Empire’s Strengths:

  • The Imperial Legionnaire is the strongest infantry unit in the game
  • Their Noble unit, the Imperial Cataphract is the strongest Heavy Cavalry unit in the game
  • The Cultural bonus for the Empire shortens the construction time of town projects, siege engines, and the repair of walls by 20% which is extremely useful late game

The Empire’s Weaknesses:

  • Lacks polearm units
  • With the civil war going on, you will have to fight other imperial’s a lot
  • You are surrounded by enemies right from the start

Choose this Culture if:

  • You are a beginner or want a fairly easy faction to play, the Empire’s diversity of units and generally strongly armored troops makes them generally fairly easy to do well with
  • You want to get started quickly, you will probably spawn in Imperial territory regardless of what faction you choose
  • You want a slightly easier time later in the game, when you are managing towns and fighting sieges

Behind the Scenes:

  • In the game’s canon, the empire is completely destroyed within the next two hundred years
  • The current plotline heavily revolves around taking a pro-empire or anti-empire stance before progressing very far
  • The Empire is based very heavily on the late Roman Empire

Battania

The descendants of some of Calradia’s original people, the Battanians have been reduced to desperately holding onto what little remains of their kingdom. They are the masters of their forests but find themselves surrounded by the hungry eyes of their various larger neighbors.

Battanian Strengths:

  • Their Noble unit is the strongest archer in the game, the Elite Battanian Fian
  • Their Cultural bonus gives them 10% less of a speed reduction when moving through forests
  • Most units carry multiple weapons, allowing them to be very adaptable

Battanian Weaknesses:

  • Most soldiers are very lightly armored
  • Battanian infantry as a general rule is not very strong in a straight-on fight
  • Doing well for Battania requires clever use of tactics and strategic use of its various unit types

Choose this Culture if:

  • You enjoy a challenge
  • You prefer guerilla hit and run tactics to pitched warfare

Behind the Scenes:

  • Like the Empire, according to game cannon the Battanians are entirely wiped out as a nation within the next 200 years, being reduced largely to forest bandits.
  • The Battanians are heavily inspired by Celtic cultures, like the Irish and Scots.

The Aserai

The Aserai are a loosely grouped collection of desert clans that have united somewhat recently to take advantage of the Empire’s waning strength. They are the undisputed masters of the bronze desert. 

The Aserai’s Strengths:

  • They have the most flexible army in the game, having a very stable balance of troop types.
  • Their Cultural bonus gives you 30% cheaper caravans for trading, and  10% less trade penalty
  • They have strong horse archers, as well as heavy cavalry
  • Long distances between settlements in Asarai lands give you a fair time to prepare when one of your cities is attacked

The Aserai’s Weaknesses:

  • Traveling between settlements takes a lot of time and resources compared to most other factions.
  • Desert Bandits can be especially troublesome when you are a low level
  • Faction bonus only benefits you if you focus on being a trader

Choose this Culture if:

  • You want to focus on building businesses and trading/making money
  • If you want a very jack of all trades master of none army

Behind the Scenes:

  • This faction survives the next 200 years according to game canon, though a different clan takes over and changes the name of the faction to the Sarranid Sultanate 
  • Based on the traveling Arab tribes that existed before the rise of Islam

The Khuzait Khanate

A collection of nomadic tribes, that fled from the east into Calradia, forming a Khanate and conquering the eastern part of the empire for their new home. 

The Khuzaits’ Strengths:

  • Unparalleled options when it comes to mounted units
  • Best horse archers in the game
  • Culture bonus gives all horsemen a 10% bonus in speed on the map

The Khuzaits’ Weaknesses:

  • Reliance on light cavalry requires hit and run tactics
  • limited infantry options
  • nearly exclusive use of polearms and bows make them fairly easy prey if their horses go down
  • weak infantry make sieges especially difficult for Khuzaits

Choose this Culture if:

  • You want to live out your Mongolian Horde fantasies 
  • You are comfortable avoiding straight fights as much as possible 
  • Want a horse/ranged focused playthrough

Behind the Scenes:

  • Much like the Aserai, the Khuzaits survive the next 200 years according to game canon, changing their name to the Khergit Khanate when a faction within the Khuzait’s takes over. The Khergits are actually an existing faction within the Khuzaits even during the events of Bannerlord
  • Heavily influenced by the Mongolians

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