We can say that there are 3 main-trees and one side tree (physical)
The 4 trees are:
2. Bow Mastery
4. Melee Combat
The 3 main trees are all good. I see people playing online with all 3 trees.
Most people use melee right now, while many used leadership in the first days. The trend will be bow.
With time we see more and more player reaching lvl 10, which raise the funds to 22k in MM battles.
If you consider this, the leadership tree becomes less good, since the base moral in 22k games is pretty high due to all those expensive high moral units we have to use.
Melee gen stick to the stats he can max gain. With higher funds, Vets get better stats and in relation the gen stats are less worth.
Bowery is the way to go, If you shot, the arrow dont care how much the unit did cost, they hit at 5k and also on 22k. The difference is, that at 22k, the bow gen hit a lot more "cash" with each arrow, since there will be a lot more expensive units around.
The risk, that your gen get beaten with many upgraded vets is a lot higher, than in low fund games.
There are abilities you always want to have, I would like to mention Inspire and also bow. Its both in the first lvl of the trees and you just need 1 point for each.
This tree is all about boosting the whole army and also the units of your allies.
Its less good in 5k games, since you simply play with a few units only and the skills wont pay of as much, as a melee gen or bow gen. Leadership shines at 10k games, since you run around with many low moral units.
With 14k its still useful, while it is almost useless in 22k games. In high fund games, you hardly need another moral boost for all the high moral units you field. If you okay 22k games, you hardly field cheap farmer, you have a hard time to spent all the money and will have units with moral 10 or higher all the way.
Moral 10 and rally, will be more enough to ensure, that your units dont rout and fight till the last men.
Inspire. The inspire, as already mentioned, is a must have. The second point will reduce the CD, nothing else.
Rally. Its okay, not too good, it also effects the CD and you gonna take it to spent the 10 points to reach "stand and fight" and also to get access to "increased aura".
Fatigue Resistance. Pointless. With the current fatigue you dont need it. Units can run quite some time, before they get tired and they refresh very fast. To put points into this ... its not worth.
Scare Enemies. Well, we did tons of moral penalty tests and we couldnt see any effect! Im almost sure, that CA did turn any of these moral effects off or made it having almost no effect. At some point I will publish one video, which show how we tested it and that it does nothing.
Increased aura. Not much more you can choose from, you have to spent points into it. It increase the blue circle for a good amount and its actual good.
Stand and fight. The best ability in leadership. Its a must! During a battle, you can activate it and the general will unmount, build a defensive quarter and cant be moved or used for anything else. The general has a red circle which is bigger than the blue circle. Any unit standing in this red circle gets the boost.
Increased Army Moral. I never took it, the other things are already so good too boost the moral of your units, also remember the rally ability, this point you can spend somewhere else, its not worth imo.
Leadership is good at games with 5-14k funds, its best at 10k. It pay off most with many low moral units, which you will use mostly at 10k games.
It also makes a difference if you play solo or in teams. In teamgames leadership is more worth, since the huge circle of stand and fight will include other armies as well. In 3v3 games I would always want to have one leadership gen with me.
Thats the tree Im currently playing with. I love it! For my playstyle its a lot better than melee.
Bowery is all about your general playing as bow hero... No, wait, a bow hero get smashed in 3 volleys from my general!
Lets get some facts. The range is 200, the accuracy 95 and the reloadskill 80. You can get armor piercing and whistling. The range is the max for bow units, a bow hero is the only unit which can get to 200 as well, apart from artillery...
I can use the hero to support my missles in a shotout, I can press on flanks and shoot on valuable cav or melee units, with 50 more range I can easy shot units behind the archer. I can force people to move their cav back or in trees, I can force people to move to spot I want them. I add a video to this post where you can see how I push with my general.
Nothing to say about, its the only point to start with, its a must and like the name say already, it enable bow.
Hint: In game you can check easy, if your enemy got a bow or not, just zoom into their generals, you will see the mens having bows.
Bow Damage. Well, we dont know much about how the "damage upgrades" work, but I guess, that each unit has hitpoints and arrows have different "damage points". To give you an example. If a men has 11 Hitpoints and a cheap bow has 5 damage, than this men needs to get hit by 3 bows to get over the cap of 11.
Before this, you have to pass the miss check and also the armor check.
Bow Damage itself doesnt feel too strong, but you need to take a point to get to armor piercing.
Its possible, that the units have different hitpoints, so its possible, that bowdamage has more effect vs. units with higher hitpoints. If you hit a men with 3 hitpopints with a bow, which has 5 damage points, you wont need more bow damage, 5 is kill already, since its higher than 3. If you now think about a naginata unit, which could have (example) 6 hitpoints, you cant get a kill from one shot. Now the bow damage would make the difference.
Extra Ammunition. Is a must, I hardly have fights, where my general not shot almost all ammo.
Accuracy Its a must. Its simply a great stat, not much more to say about.
Speed. Is in physical tree, you need at least 1 point, but for the sake of movement, I took 3 points. With 3 points my general has a good speed and is about same as fast, as other cav.
If you stay mostly behind your lines and dont move out a lot, than you can skip the 2 extra points.
If you play like me, and using the general as solo hardcore-bow-cav-harras-mobil-missle-sam-battery... yeah, you get it, than you want to be fast and escape from some cavs, who try to catch you!
Armor Penetration. I tested with and without. If you shoot at low armor units, like ND or ashi, you wont need it, once you meet high armor units, such as melee general or naginata, it becomes handy.
If a melee general isnt moving, I kill the gen with inspire in 3 volleys. The armor means nothing. Imo its very useful.
Reload Speed. Same as Accuracy, great stat, its a must.
Fire arrows Useless crap, same as the ability with samurai archer, useless, just looks good in fight, but has no effect.
Whistling arrows. If you mouseover you see some information, which you wont see in your stats, apart from a drop in melee. Imo its worth to take, since you can effect a lot of units. IF you get rushed this is pretty useful. The duration isnt very long.
Increased Range. Now the fun starts! Both points its a must, it gets you to 200 range and unless you got enough points to have full range, the whole tree is pointless, apart from the first point.
Its all about range, nothing else matters so much!
Sniping. Well, I got it. Once I can effort 3 tokens, I will remove it again. Sometimes it is handy, but as a top tear skill its simply too weak. This is a passive ability, if you want to use it active you have to move somewhere, stay in the woods and wait till you get "hidden". Thats not a great thing to do, if your in range of many enemy missles.
The most fights are with movement, you dont have too much time to stay there hidden and shoot fulltime...
The Bow Mastery doesnt care which fund lvl you play at. Since you cant really boost armor of units ( there is a retainer and also some skill-upgrades, both hardly will get used) the bow gen will stay always about the same.
While the units become more expensive, the bow gen keeps hitting the same amount of mens.
Compared to the other 2 trees, it dont lose power with higher funds.
With 14k and 22k the risks to lose your gen in a melee fight raises, I personal dont like to move my gen into a skirmish, where some great guards are running in. My bow gen is dangerous, you cant really do anything against it, apart from putting some archer-spear combo in front and get melee and cav a bit more back.
A bow gen wont waste too much ammo on a cheap spear or a cheap archer. Woods can also be effective.
Else its a better bow hero, he can support archer and get some initial shot on the enemy archer, its also effective to drop moral quick by raising the killing-speed.
A good thing is, too watch this video and look how I move my gen vs 2 good player.
I played a lot as melee general before I switched to bow. Its a very effective and good tree, many people playing with it. The big advance is, that with high defense and high armor, the gen is a lot less fragile. He can take some shots and wont get killed easy from normal bow units (enemy bow gen with armor pierce is dangerous) or melee/cav in general.
The bansai effect is quite good, so is "no penalty" at spears.
The melee general is very effective in games from 5-14k, with 14k the average unit is becoming stronger, while your general keeps at the same maxed out stats. In 22k games you probably face a lot off good veteran units, with many upgrades. At this point the average unit got a big boost and will have a lot better stat than in low fund games.
This said, the melee general cant get better, while the vets gets better.
As usual, you will take at least one point in inspire and I personal would also take one point in the bow tree.
Melee Attack Not much to say about, it raise your melee stats, its the entrance skill, same as the defense stat. You need it to reach the charge skill
Melee Defense Same as attack, you have to take it, its good and you need it for armor.
Charge Its a must, raise the charge stat and its quite good, you need it to get to bansai.
Moral Useless. Sadly, the game got too high moral, your gen will fight till last men with its base moral of 15. There is no need at all to spend a single point into moral.
Bansai Its a must. Bansai is pretty good.
Armor It raise the armor to a total of 12. If you ever shot a naginata with armor of 9, you can imagine how hard it is to kill something with armor of 12. This stat is the big lifesaver vs enemy normal archer! Here comes bow-damage or missle-damage in, the only units which will it make any sense are hero units and your general. Since these units are the only units with higher hitpoints.
No penalties against spears. The "lol" ability. Its extremely good and bugfree. I want to point out, that I dont like this at all, since it takes out a whole counter. Its too good! The only way to kill a melee gen is to get a cav into it.
Increased Bodyguard Size Its good and as the name say already, you get more mens in the general unit.
To use charge, you have to spent at least 1 point into speed. Now at this point you will have points left. If you spent one point into inspire you cant get to the "hitpoint" ability. This will only work, if you spend all remaining points into "physical".
I dont see it paying off. I would always get inspire, its too good, the bow point can be saved. In the end you have 2-3 points left. I personal would spend it into speed.
With 3 points in speed your unit will be about the same speed as normal cavs, with just 1 point your general is slow, this was always a problem for me, since other caves can always escape and you gen cant be used as offensive unit, if your opponent is any good.
Many people want that their costs (1800 for lvl 10 gen) are paying of somehow, as leadership general, your gen wont kill anything. So melee is a good way to play with, since this gen can actual kill something on its own.
If you dont like to play with a bow gen, than melee would be my choice.
What I dont like about the tree is, that you have to move into action and it can be risky. On the other hand, with bansai and inspire on it, the unit freaks out and can easy eat 3 normal yari cav on its own.
With the great guard becoming popular, the risk of enemy cav who can rip your gen raised, always keep in mind, that the vets with 22k games can be extremely strong. I know about Great Guards with bansai and inspire and that can get quite dangerous.
You know how hard it is, to move a cav out of a skirmish once its in.