Useful Tips for Noobs
What I found very fruitful in the beginning and which lets me leave the beginning area with a well equipped group of 9 to 10 guys and 2 ponies, was the following approach:
For starting out (this is totally up to your own gusto, tho) I picked the deserters. It is an extremely well balanced group and their disadvantage will be gone before it even matters (you will need to hire a brute and a spear man along the lines, tho) with able fighters trait (for the sweet 10% boni on XP and fame) and as disadvantage I picked “loose sense of loyalty”, which, if you try and manage to keep your group happy, has no impact at all.
Go straight to town, pick two easy quests and an average one (best is to grab the average that simply makes you find the tomb, for example. No fighting involved. Maybe stay away from the rat’s nests for the time being, until your guys have some hair on their chests) and hire a brute or spear man. Check their negative and positive traits. Those can really impact any hiring decision. They will likely be tinkerers, but if you already made on a tinkerer, you can change it in the char screen. Also buy all the salt and wheat they have at the market (Salt is needed for all cooking and outside of buying not easy to come by, unless you go full stealing route, which I do not).
Do NOT pay for the informant in the tavern! All the markers he gives you, you can come by by exploration. 100 crowns is too much for it to be worthwhile.
Then go about fulfilling those quests. Train one of your guys as tinkerer, one miner, one as wood cutter, one as cook, one as angler.
Once you have more people, train a blacksmith and an apothecary (making your own weapons and medicine is much more cost effective. Armor you do find all over the place, so is rather 2nd on the list for the blacksmith to craft at this point. Maybe invest in some helmets, but even they can be found more often than weapons).
Your way should at some point lead you south past the salt mines (you can find two iron nodes in there), past the lund farm, to the mill, where you can hire a second Ranger for free (if you can spare a medicine). I normally give him the thief profession, simply for lockpicking. ANd do lockpick everything. It will not count as stealing, unless the contents of the container say so.
Revisit town regularly, in order to cash in quests and restock salt & wheat, and check for new hires. You should, with fishing, bread backing and killing wolves, boars, etc. be able to sustain your group easily food wise. For gold keep taking quests and cashing them in.
Purple quests (you find those by talking to people in the region) will advance the region meter. Once it reaches 100, the region is officially done and you get a border pass. But it is often worth to stay for longer. I did not leave the region, until I was lvl 5 and had my camp properly set up with Captain, two Lieurnants, a banner and all that.
If you are in a building / location, press ALT to see all interactables. A lot of them will get lost otherwise.
Over a bit of time you will need a second pony (You will notice the time has come, when you keep hitting your weight ceiling with loot, food, parts, etc.). Ponies do eat food, so take that into account, but food really shouldn’t be a worry in the first region. As long as you keep wheat and salt stocked up, you can always make bread. Go hunting/fishing for meat. Do invest knowledge points into cooking recipes, since most of them will with the addition of salt turn your 4 food into 6 food items. Build your camp items, like hitching post, cooking pot, tent, etc, so your guys have useful things to do.
Resource nodes do respawn, but the time differs from resource to resource. Hemp grows back the fastest. Lumber and Iron ore takes considerably longer.
When it comes to picking a path for your class level ups, things are less easy, but there are some really, really, outrageously powerful builds.
I tend to have a sword man shield tank, a sword man fighter (with 2 hander), a Warrior protector with 2H axe (for that sweet Riposte for everybody), a cutthroat ranger with poison (if you find and give her the cap that gives additional damage against poisoned opponents, her one two combo of normal backstab and 4 extra attacks will take anything apart), a tactician ranger with poison (if you wait in battle until you have a big blob of yelling, screaming and stabbing guys all balled up together and nicely engaged, pop his smoke bomb and take the enemy team apart in one fell swoop), a spear man (pike man trained), two archers (one infantry man, one Hunter), and a Brute for the clobbering with the big ticket items, plus 2 ponies, by the point I leave the first region. You could probably add a second brute with 1h and shield into the mix, if you can sustain another hire.
Most important is to pick how they generate valor points. It makes sense to pic for example for your backstabbing rangers that they generate a point, whenever they finish their turn next to an enemy, but are not engaged. Your tanks should generate one, whenever they engage in a fight, yaddayadda.
My archers form an archery line and thus I told them to generate points whenever the finish next to a friend. Stuff like that. The one I found useless is the one about hitting multiple enemies. More often than not you do not have control over that, or would hit a friendly. I do not see how this is more beneficial than simply “when engaging”. That’s a safe point… the other way… meh, more often not.
And as cool as Arc weapons are, they can oftentimes be a hindrance, damming you to spend the turn doing nothing or disengaging, cause you would hit a friend or two. Try to find weapons that offer more flexibility in the attack skills. There are nice twohanded weapons that have attacks against a single enemy, and I find them preferable, unless I face rats. If you have a swordsman with twohander, for example, and make him go the fighter route, you will always have a single enemy attack with the kick skill, if sh*t looks bleak for wide attacks. Brute destroyer with 2 H hammer the same, with his Weakening Blow. Especially when your 2H fighters are properly engaged, their attack arc is locked and you cannot change it anymore.
For stats, Movement, Will power (up to 15, then it stops mattering) and constitution, in that order. Strength and Dexterity get boni from the weapons already, so could be neglected in favor of those three. It makes sense to invest in the knowledge skill that allows you to pick their training paths in exchange for fame (Edit: It is called “Career Plans)”. You want your people to move fast, especially a tank with plate (giving -2 movement) is no good, if it takes him 3 turns to get into the fight, or a backstabber not being able to make it into the back of the main enemy.
Also check who is next in turn and try to bind them, especially if it is an archer or similar. They can really mess up your day, if left unchecked. Use tanks to bind all the upcoming enemies in the turn order, then use your rangers and archers to finish them off. Be careful with spear man or archers on your end that have knockback abilities. An enemy hit by that will be disengaged if moved even a centimeter, and thus will be free to run around the map and do his thing. You can, however, use the same thing to mess up / cancel enemy arc attacks.
If members of your group will not survive the current round, due to poison, bleed or whatever, try to take one or two enemies down without using those hurt guys (after they move, bleed or poison will take effect, killing them). Chances are the enemy will offer a surrender, if you just manage to whack a couple more guys into oblivion. You better take it at that point.
When it comes to initial group setup, my example with the deserter squad taken here, it makes sense to give your sword man tank the taunt ability (in case your ranger or archer ever get bound and have more important things to attend to), your warrior the Wrath ability (that is one extra attack on seriously wounded enemies), your ranger First Aid (They should be free to move and aid at any time, if they don’t have an important target to stab, unless you use them wrong) and your archer Aim (nothing better than taking potshots across half the map on that one lurky little sh*t that eludes you).
If you can, grab a bear or polar bear. Its probably the only animal worth of having in your team. All the other animals are rubbish because they will die too soon to be even worthy to use em. But bears are another story, you can use em as tanks while the AI tries to kill em and you can peacefully plan your strategy in the meantime. Specially in the beginning this is going to make your run incredibly easy.
Ponys are also better than all animals (except bears of course). Once you upgraded and levelled em up, they are pretty good.
But anyways, your first two or three runs should be to learn all the basics. Once you learned enough, then restart again another run this time doing things in a serious way.