Following the introduction of the barbarian faction in part one, this week we’ll take a look at the first three of their unit types and some general combat mechanics. All part of the upcoming ‘Warriors of the North’ DLC, of course. As always, keep in mind that things are still in development and may change. With that said, let’s delve in!
Northern barbarians are not born free, but as thralls in servitude to their elders, and ultimately their tribe. They have no say on tribal matters, and they may possess only what they can carry. On occasion, members of other tribes are also accepted into thralldom, either peacefully or after being captured in battle.
It is expected that a thrall seek the respect of their master, their ancestors, and the tribe as a whole, and ultimately earn their status as a free man or woman. Indeed, young folk are considered to have reached adulthood as they become free, and to have then earned their place and say in the tribe. One way to do so, but not the only one, is to prove their worth in battle.
Thralls are the light and nimble infantry of the barbarian tribes. Clad only in furs, and sometimes with nothing but warpaint on their bare chests, armed either with weapons made from readily available materials like bone, or looted from the battlefield, they rely on ferociously overwhelming the enemy. They’re quick and agile, making ample use of the ‘Adrenaline’ skill. And having both the ‘Anticipation’ and ‘Dodge’ perks makes them harder to hit, at least until they’ve exhausted themselves after a couple of rounds.
Like all barbarian infantry, thralls have a very physical combat style of wrestling with the enemy, throwing their weight against them, and jostling to put their opponent out of balance. Their ‘Barbarian Wrath’ perk makes them fight even harder as they get hit, and the next time they land a hit of their own, they confer a status effect which for one turn knocks their target out of balance to lower their damage and defense until they have regained their footing.
Reavers are the medium infantry of the barbarian tribes. They’re battle-hardened free men, yet not necessarily warriors by trade. Some may be bloodthirsty veterans of many battles that seek immortality through their deeds on the battlefield, and have tattoos on their skin tell the saga of their life. Others are merely hunters or craftsmen that join with the rest of the tribe to raid and ensure their survival in the upcoming winter.
Reavers are often armed with armor and weapons that have been passed down through generations and show signs of wear, but may also have claimed equipment in duels that settled disputes. Like thralls, they have an offensive and nimble combat style, but backed up with experience and skill. Like all barbarians, they don’t fear death the same as southern folk do, and so are not easily broken. They’re roughly comparable to brigand raiders, but may be more or less of a challenge, depending on your approach.
Warriors who show exceptional skill on the battlefield are said to be blessed by the ancestors, and those who also have impressive victories to show are said to eventually take a place beside the ancestors in the afterlife to watch over the tribe. These champions of the ancestors are the heavy infantry of the barbarians, and they wear weighty metal armor and heavy two-handed weapons – trophies from vanquished foes and gifts from invested elders.
Unlike thralls and reavers, champions rely on their heavy armor for defense. They can shrug off status effects more easily, and excel even when fighting against several opponents at once. Tougher enemies than any brigand, other than perhaps brigand leaders, they are mid to late game opponents.