My military “strategy” boils down to a series of overlapping contingency plans. Before starting a game in normal or hard mode, I will ensure I have a suitable crop of citizens to fulfill what I consider to be the “core” roles:
- Carpenter, requires a Mind of at least 5
- Starting defender, must have body of 6
- Cleric-in-training, must have high Spirit (usually I go for spirit 6; although I may go with a spirit of 5 if they have a Body or Mind of 6. On hard mode though, I’d keep rolling until I got one with both Body and Spirit of 6, very rare and it would mean they’d be stuck with Mind of 1 or 2 but in Hard mode I’m relying on my Cleric to hold the front line together…)
- at least one hearthling with a Mind of 6, so I can rush through Masonry to build the Blacksmith’s Hammer to unlock Blacksmithing. I’ll need a third high-Mind hearthling to get started on Blacksmithing; although the mason can potentially change jobs I try to avoid that since it means their new job will be harder to learn.
From there, I get my crafters onto leveling, and start stocking up for new immigrants who will hopefully fill out the army further. If I don’t get suitable candidates (e.g. low health and high Spirit, so they rush headlong into fights they don’t have the staying power to survive), I set them to building walls instead. The Cleric-in-training will constantly produce healing salves until they reach level 1; at which point they move on to energy potions and a stock of 2 light bandages per hearthling. As soon as they hit level 2, I turn them into a Cleric; even if that means having to buy leather from a trader.
When enemies appear in the wild, I send in the soldiers and intentionally redirect the Cleric off to the side, ensuring they don’t get caught up in the brawl but are positioned to heal anyone who needs it. If I have archers already, I’ll send them in before I give the footmen their marching orders; allowing the archers to lure the enemies into attacking them while the footmen approach and get ready to counter-charge.
If there’s a healer, then all my archers will be told to focus-fire that healer; and then their next priority in targets is the enemy with the highest ranged damage. If there are no ranged enemies, then I’ll have each archer target a different low-level/“cannon fodder” enemy, since they die in a couple of hits and that reduces the enemy party’s DPS and their swarming potential.
25 hearthlings is the limit my computer comfortably runs; so in that group I aim to have between 5 and 7 soldiers. That’s 1 Cleric, 1 Footman (I allow them to reach max level and don’t change them to a different military role, keeping them as the “shock trooper” to disrupt enemy parties and intercept the larger threats), 1 Knight, and everyone else as Archers or backup Clerics.