Weapon Proficiencies are the player's ability to use specific weapons. There are six in total and they include:
- One Handed Weapons
- Two Handed Weapons
- Crossbows (or Firearms in With Fire & Sword)
The three melee proficiencies covers the use of swords, axes, spears, maces, etc. Polearms can be one- or two-handed but are considered their own weapon class. Using a weapon will increase its related proficiency.
Certain throwing weapons can be used in melee in Warband; these weapons are usually weak in melee with a very short reach compared to their dedicated melee counterparts. Firearms replace Crossbows in With Fire & Sword, but function in the same way.
Weapon proficiency is the skill you use for any weapon. Increasing your proficiencies allows the character to deal more damage with a melee weapon, and use ranged weapons more accurately. It also improves the weapon's attack speed.
Proficiencies can be increased in two ways. One is to simply use the weapon in combat, and over time your skill with it will increase as you hit enemies with it. The other is to spend Proficiency Points gained upon level-up on the proficiency of your choice. The maximum level for any weapon proficiency is 699, where points cannot be added to a weapon proficiency anymore. However, one can go over 699 by using a weapon very, very often, and for a long time, until finally the game will automatically increase the weapon proficiency by 1 during a fight. Though this is done a lot early in the game when a character's proficiencies are very low, at points over 350, it becomes uncommon.
The Weapon Master skill level imposes a cap on all the proficiencies, restricting how these points can be spent. The cap does not prevent increases earned through actual use. Each point of Weapon Master increases the standard proficiency limit. The proficiency cap progression starts at 60 (for a Weapon Master skill of 0) and the cap increases by 40 points for each additional point of Weapon Master skill.
Bear in mind that the higher the Proficiency is, the more Proficiency Points are needed to raise it further. For example, to increase the One-Handed Proficiency by one point when it is at 20 would take one Proficiency Point. If that skill was 380, the player might need to spend between 10 and 16 Proficiency Points to increase the proficiency by one point. This amount varies based on how high your Weapon Master skill is. The higher the proficiency skill, the more points one will have to spend.
Proficiencies can be leveled anywhere that combat (or combat training) occurs. Your character will gain experience towards the weapon they are using (bare hands/fists do not have a related Proficiency and therefore do not contribute to proficiency progression).
Increasing weapon proficiencies will result in:
- Increased Damage (when using a melee weapon or a ranged weapon if it benefits from Power Draw/Throw skill)
- Faster Attack Speeds
- Increased Accuracy (when using a ranged weapon)
All results are gradual and may need as many as 50 points in a proficiency to see a notable difference, though results are much more noticeable while proficiency is still low. The Weapon Master skill increases the rate at which proficiency points are earned, and raises the spending cap on all proficiencies.
Proficiency increases more quickly when fighting higher level opponents and slower when fighting lower level opponents, in addition to other factors. It is also possible to benefit more from a single attack if the attack was particularly difficult or damaging. The more damage that is dealt with a weapon, the more experience the player earns towards that weapon's proficiency; therefore it may be a good option to couch lances as often as possible if the player uses one, as it can do massive amounts of damage. This means that it is often not necessary to invest weapon points in polearms if it is just for the use of lances, as it rises rather quickly anyway.
Ranged weapon proficiencies increase faster when more difficult shots are landed rather than when damage is done (damage still counts, just not as much). Headshots provide a bonus to the difficulty multiplier as well as shooting while on a moving horse. Additionally, the type of ranged weapon used also affects shot difficulty. Thrown weapons receive a moderate increase in shot difficulty as they are universally shorter ranged than other ranged weapon types while crossbows receive a penalty for their ease of use. Bows receive neither a bonus or a penalty to shot difficulty calculations.
As proficiencies reach higher skill levels (around 150 and higher), the number of weapon points needed to increase a proficiency by one skill level is increased. Around 150, it takes 3 or 4 points to increase a proficiency by one level. If the proficiency has already gained experience toward the next level through actual use, fewer weapon points will be required to raise it to the next level. 10 points are gained simply for leveling up, while an additional 5 points are given for every attribute point the player puts in Agility. Eventually, weapon points can be rather worthless when leveling very high proficiencies and it is a viable option to use them with your lower proficiencies in case you need to change tactics, pick up other weapons on the battlefield, or wish to fight in Tournaments where you may not receive your weapon of choice.
Tips & Tactics
While playing, it may be helpful to consider the following things:
- If you plan on using two-handed weapons, you may want to consider using Polearms, as they have longer reach. However, since the damage output is greater when the target is farther away, you may find yourself in trouble if surrounded by enemies at close range.
- If you plan on primarily using ranged weapons, you may want to specialise in bows and thrown weapons because their damage increases from character skill (Power Draw, Power Throw) and weapon proficiency (bow, thrown). On the other hand, crossbows and firearms make great backup weapons for primary melee fighters or simply characters not primarily built around combat (high Intelligence/Charisma focus), because they start with high damage output and neither require nor benefit from character skill investment and weapon proficiency (when it comes to damage), allowing the player to allocate their skill points elsewhere.
- In Warband, some throwing weapons can be used as melee weapons by pressing "X" and can be switched back to a throwing weapon by doing so again. Firearms can also be used in this way in With Fire & Sword, but the only throwing weapons are grenades, which cannot be used in melee.
- Even though your companions have the same proficiency for every weapon type, some companions initially have skill points spent on Power Draw or Power Throw, which means that they should use a throwing weapon or bow since those skill points cannot be reclaimed.
- Your starting proficiencies are affected by the choices you made during character creation.
- While on Poor AI settings, enemies will not hold their shields up at extreme distances between the player and themselves, so landing arrows or bolts on Poor AI settings is dramatically easier.
- Since experience is higher when higher damage is dealt, it is often useful to use a horse whenever you can to multiply your damage through speed.
- Firing into crowds at a distance and on a fast horse will raise ranged weapon proficiencies extremely quickly because target density is not a factor in shot difficulty.
- In With Fire & Sword, one can achieve extreme level in one handed proficiency (over 1000) by fighting in duels in taverns, especially after their skill is high enough to allow for easier fights.