Steel and Flesh 2 is a medieval strategy RPG developed by VirtualStudio as a sequel to their previous game Steel and Flesh, where you play as a once-proud soldier, a humble farmer, or a crestfallen merchant in the year 1212. Choose to side with one of the dominant powers of Europe or Asia, or try to carve out your own empire by force. Will you follow history to the letter, or choose to write a new chapter of your own making?
This game is rather complex, with multiple armies and empires attempting power plays to expand their territories or defend their holdings. After creating a character, you are placed in the middle of all this, sometimes literally, with nothing but the clothes on your back and any gold and equipment the game gives you. This can get very overwhelming to a new player, especially once you start managing your own army and later, your own settlements.
Steel and Flesh 2 is a sandbox title, that’s both vast and confusing. Our beginner’s guide is designed to help rookie soldiers and would-be kings to get a grasp on what do first. Whether you become a merchant king, a ruthless pirate, or a loyal general in this game is ultimately up to you. Stay with us to learn how to master the basics of Steel and Flesh 2!
1. Constructing Your Character
To start a new game, Steel and Flesh 2 lets you select between a single-player experience against the AI, or a multiplayer session with other players. Steel and Flesh 2 has mod support, allowing players to further customize their experience.
By default, the game comes with the 13th Century setting as advertised. These can range from simple cosmetic changes, to content expansions, to straight-up cheat mods that give you a massive advantage. The main campaign itself is vast, but limited to continental Europe, much of Asia, and a portion of Africa.
You can select your difficulty from one of five options, and it is displayed on the selected save file. This determines the starting level of your character as well as their initial amount of gold, along with enabling, disabling, or adjusting the following mechanics:
Fighting Spirit: The morale of your army. If it drops too low during a battle, your soldiers may flee from a fight. Managing it is important between fights.
Food Stocks: An army marches on its stomach, and your forces are no exception. This determines whether you must regularly procure food to keep your soldiers in peak condition.
Forage Stocks: Whereas Food Stocks are for your men, Forage Stocks are for any beasts of burden or mounts you might purchase and use. If this is active, any animals you might own will need food as well.
Skills-limit Equipment: Your skill points normally determine how well you use certain weapons, and if this modifier is active those weapons will need a minimum skill value to actually wield them.
Squad Stamina: Stamina limits how long your character can move and fight, and naturally regenerates when you stay put. If this setting is on, your whole army will have to deal with stamina management, which can be a bit of an issue if you travel for too long or if a battle drags out.
Free retreat at squad size: Normally, a retreat costs resources as your army leaves the field. Depending on the difficultly, retreats cost no resources at a certain number of soldiers. The lower the difficulty, the larger the army can get before incurring retreat costs.
We will discuss that later, but for now you have to select the career of your character, which determines starting equipment and stat bonuses. Your last task in character creation is assigning points to your stats and skills, which can get daunting.
All entities in a saved game, including NPC humans, have five main stats. Each stat has six corresponding skills. Some skills may have bonus points allotted to them depending on your selected career. Upon reaching a new level, you are given one point you can use to upgrade one of your stats, which in turn affects how well their related skills perform. During character creation, you are given a set number of stat points depending on your starting level:
Power: The overall strength of your character. Related skills pertain both to melee weapons and physical ability. Power also determines how heavy your equipped armor can get.
o Health: Determines how much damage you can take before your character dies. Simple as that.
o One-handed: How well you handle one-handed melee weapons like short swords. If you plan on carrying a shield during a melee, this skill is mandatory.
o Polearms: Spears, halberds, and jousting lances. If your chosen weapon lets you stab enemies from farther away, this is the skill to improve.
o Stamina: How long you can move and/or fight before tiring out.
Agility: Staying light on your feet and quick on the draw, ranged skills form half of the available skills under agility.
o Horse Riding: How well you take to mounted combat and all its benefits and flaws. This also determines how strong your selected horse can become.
o Bow: Good old-fashioned archery. Great for picking off enemies from afar. This skill affects both damage and accuracy.
o Crossbow: Compared to bows, crossbows offer stronger shots at the expense of taking longer to nock and draw a new arrow. It is otherwise functionally identical to Bows.
o Throwing: Throwing knives and axes. Not as much range, but they can also double as melee weapons in a pinch.
o Shield Wielding: How quickly your character can draw their shield to block incoming attacks.
o Hunting/Fishing: If your army is camping, you can choose to hunt or fish for additional food and other resources. This skill increases the odds of finding goods from either activity.
Intelligence: Some skills can be improved not only through practical usage, but also through reading related books on the topic. This stat increases how fast you read through skill books.
o Engineering: Castles require more than men and horses to conquer, and Engineering controls how quickly you can build a siege camp and siege engines to penetrate defenses.
o Tactics: Unless you have a strong grasp of logistics, enemy armies will typically be larger than your own. This skill gives your army some advantages if it is smaller than the enemy army, with this bonus increasing the greater the difference is.
o Scouting: Increases how fast you and your army can move on the global map. Its effects should not be confused to how Athletics works above.
o Surgery: If any of your soldiers are brought down during a battle, this stat decreases the likelihood of any casualties dying from their wounds. Outside of battle, this increases the rate your character recovers from damage, along with any heroes you may enlist.
o Bandaging Wounds: Working in conjunction with Surgery, this skill determines how quickly regular soldiers recover from their wounds. After a battle, this skill also calculates how much health your forces may recover immediately.
o Veterinary: The first two skills were for humans, while this skill increases the survival rate and recovery speed of any horses in your army.
Charisma: It is the Middle Ages, with all the intrigue that comes with it. This stat slightly increases the likelihood of positive outcomes during dialogue.
o Leadership: The most important skill for your army, Leadership controls the overall size of your army. If this is too low, you might spend your early game on your own.
o Training: This skill lets you train your soldiers, as long as their Training skill is not higher than yours. If you want to keep your men at the top of their game without constantly firing and hiring replacements, this is the stat to go to.
o Trade: Adjusts the prices for any equipment and loot you buy and sell. For more mercantile players, this stat can make trading between cities very lucrative.
o Persuasion: This skill has a greater effect on dialogue compared to charisma and increases the chance of success during conversations.
o Courtship: This skill increases the likelihood of succeeding in dialogue with members of the opposite sex.
o Discipline: You cannot keep soldiers under your thumb forever, especially if resources are running low. This skill affects the likelihood of soldiers deserting from your army, and how many of them leave. This also controls how many prisoners of war you may find after a battle.
Diligence: A curiously-named stat, skills under this stat revolve around logistics and crafting.
o Blacksmithing: Determines the quality of any arms and armor your character may craft from raw materials.
o Seafaring: Scouting for bodies of water. This determines how fast you travel on seas.
o Packaging: This dictates your maximum inventory capacity, taking into account any beasts of burden you may have in your army.
o Animal Care: Increases the health and lifespan of all animals in your army, both battle and burden. This also affects their regeneration rate slightly.
o Weapon Care: Controls how fast your weapons and armor degrade over time.
o Looting: Affects the quality of any spoils of war you may find after a battle.
The last stat you might spot is Defense, which is affected by the type and quality of armor your character is wearing at the moment. Unless you pick a career that gives you decent armor, this stat will start off low until you get better clothes.
2. Gold And Glory
Once you have completed character creation, you will spawn close to the capital of whatever empire you chose at the start. This guarantees that you start near a settlement or two. Empire relations are dynamic, changing as armies clash and try to besiege bases or suing for peace. Do not expect the game to follow history perfectly even if you minimize your interference, which can lead to interesting scenarios as a game plays on.
Your army, assuming you have soldiers following you, is represented by just your character on the map. You tap a location to tell your character where you want to go. If you tap a settlement, you have two options: simply pay a visit to purchases and converse with the populace or try to attack the place and take over.
If you opt to pay a visit, the tasks you can do there are limited by the settlement size. Villages will offer less to do compared to developed cities, but that also means that there are less defenders to deal with if you want to attack them later. You can perform the following activities while in a settlement that allows it:
Visit the market: Whether to buy supplies and gear for future campaigns, sell spoils of war to earn more money, or purchase new animals for travel, you will probably be visiting this area often to make money. Prices are determined by your trade skill level and the quality of the item in question. Worn-out clothes or stale food are naturally worth less compared to high quality meats and treats.
Recruit soldiers: If your Leadership can support it, you can hire soldiers to accompany you on your travels. These tend to be volunteer forces, but depending on who is in control of the settlement, you might be able to find prisoners to rope in. Remember to keep your food stocks up if the setting is enabled.
Visit the tavern: Much smaller than the town square, people tend to congregate in taverns. If you are looking for someone in particular, you will most likely find them here.
Fight in the Arena: Generally exclusive to the capitals or major cities, the Arena lets you bet on horseback combat, or even take a jousting lance to earn some gold and fame yourself. Arena matches consist of three rounds where you and your team try to defeat the enemy, earning more gold the further you go. As the match goes on, there will be less and less men on each team until it is a one-on-one match between you and a lone enemy.
Visit the Port: While you start with your own boat, it gradually wears down with use. Once your boat gets too damaged you can purchase a better one at the Port.
While on the move, you can spot armies marching towards their destinations, either to reinforce allies or attack enemies. You can interact with these armies by tapping them, and you can choose to attack them, talk to them about current events, or even swear your allegiance to their parent faction.
If you chose to swear an oath, some armies might take you in on the spot, while others will direct you to a more suitable leader or location instead. If you do swear an oath, you follow your allies to any battle they get involved in. If they declare war on someone while you are in their territory, it is probably best to leave lest you get overwhelmed.
If you do get into a fight, the game switches to a selected battlefield and changes the camera to a third-person view. Controls during a battle are typical of third-person mobile games, with the left joystick controlling movement while the right buttons perform an attack or defend.
The buttons in the middle let you switch to different weapons if you have them equipped on your character, and let you give orders to your men if any are following you. If you choose to give an order, the game temporarily switches to a top-down view of the map as you tell them what to do, so make sure you are somewhere safe or at least not alone.
Orders include telling your men to get into formation or sending an available siege engine to bring down enemy fortifications. If you successfully invade a village, it becomes yours to command, and you can opt to sack it or develop it to your own ends. Be careful though, as even a failed siege will anger whoever was originally in charge.
Back in the general map view, there are five buttons at the bottom of the screen that let you access more information about the world. These buttons are as follows:
Map: Displays a larger map depicting who currently owns the displayed cities. As a rule, your faction will always be displayed with bright green text, while every other faction has a unique color. This is great for determining whether yours or your allies’ friendly territory is currently under attack.
Squad: Displays the current Fighting Spirit and Stamina of your army. If Fighting Spirit is low, you can boost it by throwing feasts or rewarding extra gold. If squad Stamina is low, you can restore it by setting up camp.
Setting up camp lets you hunt animals for food, with forested areas or remote locations offering more chances to find fresh game. If you have a fishing rod, either through your starting career or through the market, you can also fish, and with the right resources you can smith your own gear either to maintain or to sell.
States: Shows the current state of diplomacy between the empires, and who is at war with each other.
Inventory: Displays everything you and your forces are lugging around, and lets you equip new gear once old equipment has worn down. You can also throw out unwanted items in case they are no longer of value or if you need the inventory space.
Player: Displays your character’s stats and appearance, and you can customize the latter as needed. Your character’s appearance can only be modified here and not while creating a new game.
Aside from this, there are some buttons to adjust video and quality, access the in-game store for more customization options, and manually save your game.
3. Medieval Mobilization
With how daunting this game can get for players new to the genre, we can give you some tips to smooth things out, particularly in regard to your own survival and fortune:
Do not be afraid to start at the lower difficulties. With so many factions and armies roaming about, just managing your own character can be a pain. The game has multiple save slots so you can go for easier difficulties to see how the game handles.
Archers with fishing rods. One easy way to make money is to start the game as a hunter, which gives you a bow right from the start as well as a bonus to Hunting/Fishing. If your difficulty level has sufficient gold, purchase a fishing rod from a nearby city and set up camp.
That way, you can hunt or fish and provide fresh food for yourself, while selling any excess for more gold. The gold in turn can be used to hire soldiers, buy yourself new equipment, or train your men.
Hunters also start with a bonus to the Bow skill so in case you and your forces get ambushed by bandits, you can safely fire at brigands from a distance while more melee-oriented allies hold them off. Gold can also be used to purchase skill books from certain merchants if you can find them, allowing you to increase proficiency in a given skill without having to level up.
Know when to attack. Even a simple village will have an archer and/or a crossbowman defending it, which can spell instant death if you try to attack a village by yourself. Whether or not it succeeds an attack also angers whoever was in control of it and counts as a declaration of war. Make sure you have the allies to back up a potential assault.
Remember your men. If Fighting Spirit and Food Stocks are on, remember to make regular visits to the market to keep them well-fed and ready for a fight. Do not forget to make camp and let your soldiers recover lost health and stamina, and you can use the rest to gather a little extra food or manage your loot.
And that concludes our beginner’s guide to Steel and Flesh 2. We hope that our guide lets you survive whatever the Middle Ages throws at you. If you have any tips and tricks you would like to share, please let us know in our comment area. Good luck and game on!