Long post, late night rambling.

Training camp of the Death Knights

My general sits upon a hillside on a lovely spring morning, nibbling delicately on canapés the chef has brought up from the mess tent. On the fields below, hundreds of men are dying for my pleasure, torn apart by furious angry mobs. When enough have died I send him the order to recall these scraps of the green units. New recruits. Bah. Useless.

The trouble with new recruits is that they are full of enthusiasm and puppylike eagerness to please and are entirely comprised of untrained men who just don't understand proper military discipline. I discovered after some careful forum scouring and experimentation that it is not too difficult to train your whole army to a high level of expertise without the use of specialist buildings. All that is needed is that most of them die. Repeatedly.

Through combat with Scotland and a few rebel armies, I wore down my spearmen to the nubbins but gained valuable experience thereby. When I sent them rearward to replenish their numbers I found that the experience they gained from gritty combat was passed on to the new members of the squad, no doubt through improved training methods, squad discipline, horrifying stories and demonstration of battle wounds. Ah, the camaraderie of the enlisted men. This level five spearman unit was at the barracks, rested and repaired, when the remnants of another unit, a mere level two happened by. Per instructions, I manually dropped the level five tile on the level two and got an instant upgrade. The level five lost nothing but manpower, and the level two gained two levels. Train them both up and now I have a pair of battle hardened veterans where once there was naught but the scraps and leavings of skirmishes past.

All afire with this new arcane wisdom I carried the same plan forward to the rest of my armies, and soon had half a dozen level nine Mailed Knights, quite competitive with my expensive and hard to replenish Templars. This was all before turn 90, and now I have a new plan for the Dread Lord campaign approach... boot camp.

The training method only works if you are moving trained men into a unit of lower rank, therefore the ideal would be a full unit of level nine and an almost completely empty unit of level zero. How do we get large quantities of nearly depleted newbies?

I use Dublin, because it is close to home for me, accessible by land but allows a single boat to block the hordes from interfering with the demographics on England proper. It has no walls, and once it revolts the usual collection of unusually hi-tech savages take over. They are good at killing newbies, and the Pope doesn't care how many I chew up. So after you have cultivated your chief training officer and have him carefully stashed at the garrison, make a dozen of whatever and march them on over under the watchful eye of a lesser general. Some have heard what lies ahead, perhaps, and would make good their escape. Find a hostile force of manageable size. March them up and tell them to turn around and stand there until I tell you otherwise. The order will have to be repeated, as the men will be tempted to preserve themselves. Imagine the gall. The rebel force will attack without mercy or much competence. Once I lined up half a dozen units full of fresh knights, had them all turn their backs, and after a perfunctory stab or two, the rebels got spooked at the sight of all that horse ass and they just ran away. Might be a good idea to leave the Dread Lord himself at home or out bathing in the blood of innocents. .

Once the unit fatalities have dropped it down to 20-30, extract it. The magic number seems to be 20, as smaller units seem to often auto merge at the end of combat. Remember that the objective is not to fight well and gain levels while losing numbers, it is just to lose numbers, making room for the expert refill waiting at the garrison. The fewer enemies you kill, the better.

After they have seem the senseless horrors that await them at home, my troops are equipped with the latest armor and weaponry and send off in the company of their betters to fight and die on foreign shores.

When Dublin finally runs out of men, as they seem to lose a few even when fighting helpless morons, I just occupy and then leave it to revolt again. Free training dummies!

Exploit? Maybe. I find the time required to be enough of a drawback that much like micromanaging the eugenics of my governors it doesn't feel like cheating, just another way to enjoy the game. It is costly in time and training costs, but the first time you take 250 elite guys up against 1000 joe-schmoes and come out with hardly a scratch you might shift your whole paradigm. Less is more, baby. Now, where did I put my Sherwood Archers?