Crusader Kings 3 – Best Men-at-Arms Setup

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Men-at-arms are one of the most interesting additions in Crusader Kings 3, as they bring a whole new strategic element to battles.

In the past, it would have been enough to just throw a bunch of troops at your enemy to win. Now, you have to think about the composition of your men-at-arms if you want to win every battle.

Recommended Read: How to Declare War in Crusader Kings 3

There are a lot of men-at-arms unique to each culture, and some are just better than others.

In this guide, we will tell you what the best men-at-arms setup is for Crusader Kings 3, and how you can get them all in one playthrough.

Table of contents

How to Get Any Cultural Men-at-Arms in Crusader Kings 3

The best men-at-arms setup/composition in CK3 has warriors from very faraway lands. You might normally think that there is no way to get both longbowmen and elephants without a hybrid culture, but you would be wrong.

You can get any men-at-arms in CK3 by teaching your heir a different culture, the one that has the men-at-arms you are looking for. Don’t worry. You don’t have to fully commit.

Once your heir takes over, buy the men-at-arms that you want and convert back to your original culture through the decisions menu (your original culture should be dominant in your capital).

So, now that you know how to get any men-at-arms in the game, here is the best setup in CK3:

Best Men-at-Arms Setup in Crusader Kings 3

Normally, you won’t have space for a lot of men-at-arms in CK3. However, there are only 4 that you will need to have an optimal combination:

  • Horse Archers
  • Varangian Veterans
  • War Elephants
  • Siege Engines

Once you get more free spots for men-at-arms, you can just create duplicates of the ones we have listed above.

Horse Archers

Horse archers were some of the most powerful troops in human history, and they can hold their ground in CK3 as well.

If you want to make sure that the enemy army stays dead after a battle, you will need troops with a lot of Pursuit.

The Pursuit stat decides how many enemies die when they start retreating. Horse archers have one of the Pursuit stats in CK3, with only a few select light cavalry beating them by a little.

Horse archers also rank very high in the Damage category, having more power than most heavy infantry in the game. They counter heavy infantry and skirmishers.

When it comes to terrains, the horse archers are good in steppes, plains, and farmlands. This is the general terrain of most capitals in CK3, making them extremely powerful in the fights that really matter.

On the other hand, they lose some of their powerful Damage and Pursuit in mountains, jungles, and wetlands. However, if you have other good men-at-arms, then this disadvantage will mean nothing.

To get the horse archers men-at-arms in CK3, you will just need the Horse Lords cultural tradition. This one is available to most Turkish/Cuman cultures.

You should aim for around 2 to 3 regiments of horse archers if you also have the other men-at-arms we list below in your employ.

Varangian Veterans

The Norse in CK3 have some very powerful unique men-at-arms and the Varangian veterans are the most powerful ones you can get.

Varangian veterans are heavy infantry that counter spearmen and heavy cavalry, stopping probably some of the most dangerous men-at-arms in the game.

Since heavy infantry are usually only countered by light infantry, the weakest men-at-arms in CK3, they are always a good addition to an army.

These troops have decent Pursuit, the same amount of Damage as the horse archers, and really high Toughness.

One of the best things about the Varangian veterans is their terrain advantages. They get Toughness and Damage buffs in farmlands, plains, and hills. They also get Screen and Toughness bonuses during the winter.

To get Varangian veterans, you just need the Coastal Warriors cultural tradition, available to nordic cultures.

You should aim for 2 regiments of Varangian veterans to get some of the toughest to defeat troops in CK3.

War Elephants

War elephants men-at-arms have the highest Damage and Toughness in CK3. Nothing can stop these giant killing machines from advancing on the front lines.

These units get massive debuffs in mountains, wetlands, and during winter, but even with these debuffs, they are still some of the most powerful men-at-arms in CK3.

In jungles, they even get a +50 Damage buff that fixes the loss of skill of the horse archers.

War elephants will destroy every type of infantry unit in the game. Both heavy and light infantry (skirmishers) won’t last a second against these destroyers.

Their counter is spearmen, but this problem should be easily fixed with the help of your Varangian veterans.

To get war elephants in CK3, you will need the Elephantry cultural innovation. This one is available to most Indian and Southeast Asian cultures.

Most cultures in those regions already have it, even in the 867 start, so you should be able to easily get these monsters.

One big disadvantage of the war elephants is that they are extremely expensive. This is why you will have to be content with having one regiment of these beasts.

If you feel like you have the economic capabilities to use even more, then you shouldn’t get more than two regiments.

Siege Engines

The last men-at-arms should be obvious to veteran CK3 players. You need to have at least 1 regiment of siege engines (onagers, trebuchets, etc.).

If you want to conquer territory in CK3 without losing all your troops to attrition, you will need to get siege engines.

That’s everything you need to know about the best men-at-arms setup in Crusader Kings 3!

Have any input or suggestions for this guide? Let us know in the comment section below.

Adrian Oprea

Based in London, United Kingdom, Adrian Oprea is a Guides Writer. As a professional single-player RPG player, Adrian has often been stigmatized. He has decided to pour his frustration into writing guides!

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