This guide will cover the basics of armies and the troop options available in Crusader Kings. We have a lot of information so let’s get started.

You must first create a rallying point to raise armies in CK3. Clicking on the Military tab will allow you to connect to add and then choose a Holding from anywhere within your Realm. Each Rally Point creates an entirely new flag on the map. If you click on it, you can select Raise Local Army OR Raise all Here.

You can choose only to generate local Levies. (The number is visible at the side of this button) Along with your Men-at-Arms, you can also create a stack of nearby Levies. This means that your elite troops will be included in your first army of war regardless of where it is raised. This is important to note: You cannot declare war on armies that have already been submitted.

You can reorganize stacks and move troops and Knights into new armies. It is best to raise all your troops in one location to avoid any stragglers stacks being picked up across the map. While your Men-at-Arms will be there immediately, the rest of your army may take several days before they appear. Be patient and wait.

CK3 Men-at-Arms

Your elite troops are the Men-at-Arms. You may be familiar with the Retinues in CK2, but they are similar with some refinements. The Regiment Limit is the limit on how many units you can hire. However, this is not the same as the number of men in the branches. They start with five men and gradually increase their strength.

Once a unit is hired, it can be upgraded to multiple tiers. Each tier adds 100 soldiers. As Innovations improve, more levels become available, allowing larger units to remain. You will also unlock more Regiments and access new types of units.

It would help if you also considered the cost of upkeep when building your Men-at-Arms. Although they are relatively inexpensive while unraised, the cost of maintenance can quickly increase once they are deployed on the field. Your Levies are almost always the most costly forces to keep in the war because they cost up to an entire order of magnitude more to raise than these elite troops.

Next, consider the rock-paper-scissors that they use to fight against other Men-at-Arms. Each Regiment has its strengths and weaknesses. This can reduce combat capability by up to 90% if there is enough counter. It’s therefore essential that you study your enemies and ensure that you don’t waste your resources.

Archers are strong against Skirmishers but weak against Cavalry units, as you can see. Below is a list of what each Archer is good against. It loops back at the end.

    • Archers
    • Skirmishers
    • Heavy Infantry
    • Spearmen
    • Cavalry

Men-at-Arms can see improvements in their logistics as Innovations improve. However, you can also increase their combat performance, as we discussed above. Different building types in your Domain can grant Realm-wide bonuses for a specific kind of unit. These bonuses can stack to make you extremely powerful.


For example, take the Military Camps Building. It grants Archers +4 damage and one toughness at level 3. Skirmisher bonuses are also included. It would be +8 if you had two of these bonuses in different Baronies. Multiple prizes can quickly add up, and when you consider that Archer’s base damage is 25, you can see the improvement.

There are many of these buildings, and several are for each type. They are worth every penny, and you can find out more in our Building Guide. The Martial Lifestyle gives your ruler excellent bonuses to Men at Arms.

Their terrain modifiers are something you can’t change. Each type sees favourable and unfavourable terrain. While this is not as important as most other aspects of battle, it can tip the balance when fighting isn’t even.

CK3 Stack Splitting

Select your raised army, then click Split Off new Army. You can then select the units you want to transfer to a different command. After that, you can click or x out to move to the following stack. You will need to assign a commander for new stacks that don’t yet have one. A high level of Martial skills can give you an advantage in battle, so make sure to choose a skilled one.

Additional Commander Traits may be available to certain characters. These should be considered. These traits can offer enormous bonuses to an entire army. The Unyielding Defender, for example, reduces friendly deaths by 25%. This will dramatically decrease your losses in long wars as troops still die even when you win. Others are equally effective, such as the Aggressive Attacker, which increases enemy fatalities by 25%.

You can also find more abstract traits like a Forder that removes the penalty for river crossings or an Organizer that increases army movement speed up to 25%. Take your time and choose the Commander most helpful to you. Also, plan for how that army will be used.

CK3 Movement

It’s easy to move troops by clicking left and right, but it is essential to pay attention to where the stack is located. CK3 will sometimes push the icon away from the stack it represents to avoid overflowed text. This could lead to missing intercepts or incorrect locations during a chaotic war.

This becomes even more evident when you consider that movement does not lock to a County but allows armies to be placed on specific provinces within it. Why don’t you besiege that Castle? You’re standing in the field next to it, yes. Be aware of this and use zoom to ensure your forces are exactly where you want them.

Lifestyle Perks and Commander Traits can affect movement, but we won’t tell you how to find them. They are not essential, and they aren’t focused on anything.

The ocean is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the movement. Tell your stack to enter the water province to move on to transport. It costs gold to create a fleet, but it is speedy. This isn’t very pleasant because the AI will constantly build fleets on moving some provinces or avoiding incoming troops. Although this sounds fine, you’ll end up playing whack a mole with enemy stacks.

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