Dev Blog #81: Progress Update – Other Improvements

Progress is going well with redoing the perk system of Battle Brothers. While it’s not quite ready to go yet, we have improved the game in other aspects as well. That’s what we’re going to talk about this week, so let’s start!

Talent & Backgrounds

Certain backgrounds, like sellswords, could vastly exceed other backgrounds in effectiveness if you could afford them. That makes sense, of course, in a game that is about sellswords, but what if some farmhand or former militiaman were talented enough to eventually catch up or even surpass them?

All characters now have three attributes in which they’re especially talented – how talented is determined by a star rating of between one to three stars. The way that attribute increases on levelup used to work, you couldn’t predict exactly how character attributes would develop, and if your men would always manage to take away the right lessons away from what they experienced. Being talented in a particular attribute now means that this variance and randomness is lowered or even removed; characters will consistently roll higher on attributes in which they’re talented. Of course, the more talented, the more rare. Can you find that prodigy that has full stars with all their attributes?


In addition, we’ll be introducing two new backgrounds to the game with the coming update. We’ll also add a whole bunch of new events that take into account your party composition. Depending on the characters in your employ, you’ll have different options with events and may gain access to rewards that you otherwise couldn’t. For example, that historian you hired might just be able to make sense of the old map that appeared useless at first glance. We’re currently at 18 new events, but that number is likely to grow further before the update launches.


Attacks missing in combat happens all the time, but it can still feel frustrating as veteran mercenaries make themselves look incompetent by seemingly swinging at nothing but air. In reality, they’d miss because the opponent does their best to avoid getting hit, of course, as they dodge, block and parry the attacks. When it comes to shields, that’s something we’ll emphasize more from now on.

Any attack that misses because of the defense bonus granted by shields, or in other words because the opponent uses their shield to actively block the attack, now actually does hit the shield. This is shown visually, accompanied by different sound effects depending on the material the shield is made of, and actually damages the shield by one point. The durability of shields has been increased, so one point doesn’t mean that much, but it can slowly whittle down shields in prolonged engagements. To effectively get rid of shields, the best way is still to use the “Split Shield” skill of axes and some two-handed weapons, just like it used to be.


These changes should help to make combat feel more authentic, and misses less frustrating, as you’ll have a better idea of why you didn’t hit, and even if you didn’t hit, you may have still caused some damage to your opponents.

Overwhelming and Surrounding

Time to do some cleaning-up. The Overwhelming mechanic has been in the game since the very beginning – way back in the public combat demo that was released in 2014, a full year before the game became available on Steam Early Access. And yet, it’s remained one of the more nebulous things for players. It’s not that intuitive to understand, and even if you do understand how it works, it leads to awkward use of the wait-function in combat to make the best use of it.

Come next update, Overwhelming will be replaced by Surrounding. The new mechanic is quite easy to understand; every ally beyond the first that is adjacent to an enemy counts towards the Surrounded bonus, which increases the hit chance of anyone attacking that target in melee. It goes for you just as well as for your opponents, and there’ll be new perks interacting with this mechanic in interesting ways. And if you think that’s how Overwhelming already worked, that’s just one more reason for why this changed was needed.


The next update will also include a rework of the banners that you can choose from when creating your mercenary company. We did the current ones way back when we scrambled to get the game ready for Early Access, and we’ve now taken the time to create actual unique mercenary banners that are distinct from those of noble houses and much more detailed.



Dev Blog #80: Progress Update – New Perk System

This week we’re talking about the other major change coming with the next update: a revised perk system. We’re doing extensive changes both on how perks are acquired, and the individual perks themselves – new perks have been added and almost all of the existing ones have seen changes. Let’s learn more!

Why change it?

We’re happy to see that the concept of having perks in Battle Brothers worked out in general. They’re a good fit for the game in how they allow you to customize your men according to your own strategy, they make individual characters feel more unique, and they make up a large part of why leveling up and developing characters is fun.

That said, there’s a couple of issues with how the system currently works. By implicitly forcing you to specialize in one of three categories, we’re imposing too much of a limit on how you can develop your characters, and ultimately on the number of possible character builds. Over time it also became evident that some perks just didn’t work out. It may be because they’re not worth picking, whether they’re conceptually flawed or the game evolved in a way that made them obsolete, or because they may be so strong that they unhinge entire combat mechanics and dominate any other strategy. Both of these points demand action, so here we go.

We’re revising the perk system at this point in development because the game is now pretty stable in terms of combat design, and we have gathered enough knowledge on what works and what doesn’t. Because balancing the new perks is still going to take quite a bit of time, we want to enable you now to try out everything, discover synergies and new strategies, and to give us feedback while we have ample time still to act on it before the game is done.

What is changed?

While individual perks can still be described as being offense-, defense- or utility-oriented, you no longer have to pick perks from within a specific category to unlock other perks in that category. Instead, all perks are now sorted into rows that require a number of previously invested perk points to be unlocked. For example, while you can pick any perk from the very first row from the very beginning, the second row will unlock once you’ve picked any perk from the first row. It currently looks like this in the game.


This means that every time a character levels up, there’ll be new perks to pick from. And because there’s no longer any restrictions between categories, you now have much more freedom to experiment with character builds that fit your strategy, and to discover synergies between any of the available perks. The total number of perks sits at 51 currently, up from 42 previously, though that number may still change.

What is new?

When looking at how any perks work and what changes may be necessary, we’re looking at a couple of criteria. Ideally, a perk would support a player strategy or play style, it doesn’t invalidate combat mechanics but it may change them, it’s worth picking more than once for the company, and it should require player skill to make the most out of. Clearly, not all of the existing perks fulfill these criteria. Covering all the changes made to rectify this in detail is outside the scope of a single blog article, but we’ll take a look at some of the most important changes concerning fatigue, morale and weapon masteries.


Management of both morale and fatigue should be important combat mechanics. Unfortunately, fatigue easily becomes a non-issue with the repeated use of the ‘Rally the Troops’, which then also tips the scales on the balance of other things, such as heavy vs. light armor. Morale, likewise, is somewhat trivialized due to how the ‘Holdout’ and ‘Inspiring Presence’ perks work.

So what’s changed? ‘Rally the Troops’ still exists, but it now does what most people would expect it to do: it may rally fleeing allies and improve the morale of others. It’s become a tool that the player has to have the skill to make use of at the right moment. ‘Inspiring Presence’ has been cut from the game – you’d only have to pick it once for the whole company to benefit and it conflicts with other game mechanics such as mood on the worldmap. ‘Holdout’ largely invalidated the morale mechanic, so it’s now an entirely new perk that only shares the name and icon.


We’re introducing 12 different weapon masteries that allow you to specialize your characters. These include things like axe mastery, but also dagger mastery. Mastering any weapon reduces the required fatigue for using them and comes with a unique effect depending on the type of mastery. For example, axes have their shield damage increased significantly, whereas with daggers you’ll be able to attack three times in a single turn due to reduced action point cost. Picking weapon specializations for mercenaries not only makes a lot of sense thematically, but it also allows for building more unique characters and specialists, and it helps with fatigue management. As you see with the axe mastery example, we’ve also merged some of the previously very specific perks into the new masteries. Yes, there are masteries for light and heavy armor, too!

There’s also another new perk for fatigue management called ‘Recover’ that unlocks a skill of the same name. A character using it will spend a turn to, well, recover, and will see their fatigue reduced by a large amount. Why is that better than before? Because characters can no longer just keep on attacking with no regard for their fatigue, and using ‘Recover’ isn’t something you just automatically do every turn like with the old ‘Rally the Troops’. If you’re building up large amounts of fatigue, you’ll have to make a choice at some point on whether now is the right time to have that character spend a turn recovering, and if it’s the wrong choice, it’ll cost you.

When will it be done?

All 51 perks are in the game and working, though some are still missing assets. We’ll keep on iterating to balance these and iron out any bugs. We’re also determined to introduce some additional content and improvements to the game with the coming update that we’ll talk about in our next progress report. Once everything is done, we’ll again put it on the beta branch first. You can expect it to arrive later this month – we’ll keep you updated!

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Dev Blog #79: Progress Update – Injury Mechanics

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The Music of Battle Brothers

We’ve entered full production now on the excitingly gruesome new injury mechanics and will be revealing them to you next week in a detailed blog post. For now, we give the word to our talented musicians to listen to and hear their thoughts on the most recent additions to the soundtrack of Battle Brothers.

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Update – New Weapons

Time for some new weapons! This update adds two new weapon types, the Two-Handed Hammer and the Longaxe, and fills some gaps in weapon progression with the Light Crossbow, the Warbow and the Fighting Spear. Let’s dive in!

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Update – New UI launched

After tinkering with it over the last week in the beta branch, the new UI has just launched to propel Battle Brothers further towards being a finished game. Thanks to everyone who participated and helped us ironing out any issues! Read more…