Manor Lords: How to make weapons and shields to build an army

Manor Lords battle.
(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

Slavic Magic's new medieval city-builder Manor Lords isn't exactly like Total War, as there's far less action in it than you might expect. Even so, there are still times when you'll need to fight to defend your settlements, eliminate bandit camps, or challenge a rival lord for territory on the map. In those situations, you'll need a militia to command into battle.

Raising a militia requires making weapons and shields, though, and Manor Lords doesn't exactly explain how to do that. The guide I've put together below, however, does — and it also includes everything you need to know about building an army once you have. Read on for a full in-depth overview of the process.

How to make weapons in Manor Lords

Blacksmith's Workshops can produce Sidearms, Spears, and Polearms. (Image credit: Windows Central)

To make weapons and shields for a militia in Manor Lords, you'll first need some Level 2 Burgage Plots with space for a backyard extension (Level 1 Burgage Plots can't have the workshops you need). To upgrade a Burgage Plot to Level 2, you'll need to make sure your town has a Well and a Church, and ensure the plot has access to Fuel, Clothing, and two types of Food from a Marketplace.

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Once you have these, you'll then need to convert one of them into a Blacksmith's Workshop (5 Regional Wealth, 5 Planks), one into a Joiner's Workshop (4 Planks), and one into a Fletcher's Workshop (4 Planks). Notably, this turns the families living in these plots into Artisans, which locks them from being assigned to other jobs in your city. Therefore, I recommend making sure you have a few unassigned families before doing these conversions so they can replace the Artisans in your workforce.

From there, these workshops will begin making weapons and shields using Planks (made from Timber at Sawpits) and Iron Slabs (made at a Bloomery from Iron Ore, which is gathered from Mining Pits placed over Iron deposits). Though the fletcher will only make Warbows, the joiner can make two different types of shields and the blacksmith can craft three types of weapons; you can select a workshop and switch its Production Focus in its General tab to change what it produces, or press the pause button at the top of its menu to stop its production completely if desired.

The table below shows all the different weapons and shields each workshop can make, along with the material cost of the weapons themselves and the militia units the equipment is needed for.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
WorkshopWeapons producedNeeded for
Blacksmith's WorkshopSidearms (2 Iron Slabs), Spears (1 Iron Slab, 1 Plank), Polearms (1 Iron Slab, 1 Plank)Militia Footmen, Spear Militia, Polearm Militia
Joiner's WorkshopSmall Shields (1 Plank), Large Shields (2 Planks)Militia Footmen, Spear Militia
Fletcher's WorkshopWarbows (2 Planks)Archer Militia

If possible, try to keep the workshops near the Storehouse where your villagers are stockpiling Planks and Iron Slabs. This speeds up the production process by ensuring the workers don't have to travel far in order to get the materials they need for crafting, and also allows the Storehouse transporters to take finished weapons back to storage quickly as well.

By the way, I also recommend either getting the Armormaking upgrades and getting an Armorer's Workshop and a Tailor's Workshop or buying armor through trade. You don't technically need Helmets, Gambesons, Mail Armor, and/or Plate Armor (retinue only; more on what that means in the next section) to raise a militia, but it makes your men significantly more durable in combat and is absolutely worth investing in. Don't forget, your militia fighters are also farmers and craftsmen back home, so losing them could cause economic problems.

How to raise a militia in Manor Lords

The Army menu in Manor Lords. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Once you've got plenty of weapons and shields (and armor as well, ideally), you can start to build an army. Raise your militia by opening the Army menu (the icon for this is crossed swords), selecting the "Create new units" plus sign, and choosing which of the four militia unit types you want. Once you do, Manor Lords will assign up to 36 of your male peasants (that aren't affected by Homelessness) to that unit, with the number of men in the unit dependent on how many weapons and shields you have. For example, if you have 24 Spears and Large Shields, you'll be able to make a Spear Militia unit with 24 men in it. Provided you have enough men and equipment, you can form as many units as you want.

Each militia unit type has different strengths and weaknesses and requires different gear. The table below lists them, along with a short description for each:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Unit typeDescription
Militia FootmenMobile infantry with Sidearms and Small Shields
Spear MilitiaDefensive infantry with Spears and Large Shields
Polearm MilitiaBalanced infantry with Polearms
Archer MilitiaRanged infantry with Warbows
RetinueSlow, heavily armored infantry with varying weapons

Your Retinue are your best fighters, especially once they're upgraded with top-notch armor. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Your Retinue are elite heavy infantry troops, and you're limited to having just 12 of them at first (you can have many more once you start building Garrison Towers at Manors in regions you control). Separate from the rest of your militia, these are your personal men-at-arms, and even though they're slow, they're extremely effective on the battlefield.

You start off with 5 Retinue soldiers, though you can hire more with Treasury — money obtained by using your Manor to tax your citizens' Regional Wealth. You can also use Treasury to upgrade them with Plate Armor (doing so is cheaper if you source the armor locally).

Note that you can also use Treasury to hire mercenaries by clicking the icon that looks like a hand dropping coins in the Army menu. The advantages of putting mercenary lives on the line instead of your townspeople's are obvious, though something to keep in mind is that mercenary availability is dynamic and you may not be able to hire mercenaries when you need them. Also, they'll charge you monthly fees, so keeping mercenaries in your militia long-term can get very expensive. With that said, I still recommend hiring them to bolster your forces before a battle if possible.

When the time comes to fight brigands or the rival Baron, you can use CTRL + left-click to select your units, then select the Rally icon (it looks like a flag) to pick a spot in a region you control for them to organize. You can then right-click and hold right-click while moving the mouse to adjust their position and formations, respectively, and select the icons at the top of the Army menu to give them commands in battle.

Manor Lords is finally here, and it's fantastic. Without a doubt, it's one of the best PC games of 2024 so far, and as I wrote in my review, a must-play for anyone who enjoys city-builders. It's on sale until May 10 for 25% off, and it's also playable through PC Game Pass (and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, by extension).

Manor Lords (PC) |$39.99$29.99 at GOG

Manor Lords (PC) | $39.99 $29.99 at GOG

Greg Styczeń's highly anticipated city-builder Manor Lords is finally here, and it's just as amazing as everyone was hoping it'd be. I'm not even a huge fan of the genre, but it's absolutely hooked me with its addictive gameplay loops, and I'm confident you're going to love it, too.

See at: Microsoft Store | CDKeys (Steam) | Steam

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.