Jun
19

Dev Blog #141: Holy War

The upcoming ‘Blazing Deserts’ DLC will introduce a new late game crisis to the mix. This week we’re taking a closer look at what this crisis is about and what it adds to the game. To arms!

Holy War

In a harsh world where every single day is a struggle for survival, where man is but prey to terrifying beasts that stalk the woods, to savage greenskins that cannot be reasoned with, and to horrors from beyond the grave, man needs a powerful ally. The barbarians of the frozen wastes appeal to their dead ancestors to aid them in life. The people of the north pray to a pantheon of gods, often referred to as the old gods, for good harvests, health and victory in battle. And the south belief in but a single true god, the Gilder, sometimes referred to as the new god, manifest in the sun in whose shine they bask day in and out. The new late game crisis is about conflict between the religions of the north and the south, and called ‘Holy War’.

As a mercenary, war means opportunity for profit, and this war is no different. As a holy war is declared, the fires of religious turmoil engulf the southern city states on one side and the two southernmost noble houses on the other. Each faction offers contracts for you to aid them in their war efforts, and you’re free to work for either side, switch sides if the opportunity presents itself, or stay neutral. Like the war between noble houses, this crisis will bring misery and economic disaster to a part of the world, but it will not outright threaten to exterminate it, like a crisis with greenskins or undead do. Playing through this crisis will allow you to learn more about the pantheon of the old gods and the Gilder, as well as the history of the world of Battle Brothers.

A major objective during the holy war is access to and control of three holy sites that date back to the era of the Ancient Empire and a shared history of north and south. They all hold religious and cultural significance to both sides and are the destination of pilgrimages, if for different reasons. One of them, for example, a large meteorite, is believed by the northerners to be an imprisoned god, expelled by his own kind, while southerners believe it a teardrop of the Gilder. As the war is ongoing, you’ll be tasked both to conquer and defend those sites, as well as other places of strategic importance. Siding with the north, you’ll face armies of the city states in battle with terrifying warmachines for a fresh challenge.

The conflict will be proclaimed to be about irreconcilable differences in religion, but it is just as much about differences in culture, about grabbing land and gaining wealth, and about pride and prestige, all thinly veiled behind religious dogma to rally the masses. As a mercenary, you’ll be in a unique position to make up your own mind or dive deep into the madness that is a holy war yourself.

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Jun
12

Dev Blog #140: New Origins

The upcoming ‘Blazing Deserts’ DLC will introduce new southern-themed company origins for you to pick from. This week we’re taking a closer look at what these are. Just keep in mind that things are in development and the specifics may still change. Let’s go!

The Southern Mercenaries

This is the southern variant of the ‘A New Company’ quickstart. It’s well-suited both for a southern-themed playthrough and for checking out right away many of the new things found in the south. 

Just as with the northern quickstart, you’ll start with three companions. They’re southerners, however, with southern gear and starting right next to one of the city states. Where to go from here is your choice; will you fight in the arena? Work for the Viziers of the city? Travel up north?

The Slave Drivers

If you prefer to overwhelm your enemies with superior numbers, and the commander you’re playing as is ruthless enough not to mind using expendable troops, then this origin offers a fresh campaign experience. Loosely based on historic slave armies of the middle-east, you can have a company of expendable slaves that don’t get paid in crowns instead of relying on expensive sellswords that you can’t afford to lose.

You’ll start with 2 slave-drivers and 4 slaves, and you can take up to 16 men into battle at once. Winning battles against human opponents will allow you to press any survivors into fighting for you in order to bolster your ranks as you go, and you can also just buy slaves in the city states. They’re treated harshly in your company, however, gaining experience at only half their normal rate and never surviving with a permanent injury if struck down. All those who are not slaves in your company gain a unique skill called ‘Whip Slave’, which instantly resets the morale of any slave within 3 tiles range to ‘Steady’ and gives them the ‘Whipped’ status effect. With a forceful reminder to give their everything for their masters, up to and including their lives, these slaves gain substantial bonuses in combat, the exact amount of which scales with the level of the character doing the whipping. Your men expect slaves to do the heavy lifting, and if there should ever be less slaves than non-slaves in your company, the men will get dissatisfied. Some northern backgrounds will also take offense with slavery and may not fit well with your company, lest you want to deal with it in events.

Rather than having a tightly knit team of experienced mercenaries, this origin promotes having a small team of slave drivers (of any background you want) and a mass of expendable troops to drown the enemy in numbers and to distract them. Because slaves get substantial bonuses from being whipped into line, even a fresh slave can instantly be a valuable asset, and lost slaves can easily be replaced. Essentially, as long as you keep your non-slaves alive and level them, they can uplift slaves to their level. Should a slave happen to survive long enough to gather experience and become good on their own, that’s a bonus, and you can always decide to grant a particular slave their freedom.

The Gladiators

A different take on the popular ‘Lone Wolf’ origin, this origin has you start not with a hedge knight, but with three experienced gladiators. Once an unbeaten team in the arena, now starting a life as mercenaries, your three gladiators are at the very core of your company.

Each of your three gladiators comes well-equipped and experienced. Like a team of bare-breasted superheroes, each one of them also brings a unique perk that aids them in combat and opens up new synergies. They’re the team, and everyone else you hire is just there for support and to make them look good. Spoiled by adoring fans and an expensive lifestyle, they demand high pay right from the start. Even though they will never desert you, and you can not fire them, they will suck your coffers dry with expensive spa visits and buying jewelry that spells their name if you don’t ensure a steady cash flow. Playing this origin, you essentially have three lives – should all three gladiators die, the company will be left without their icons and dissolve, and the campaign will end. And because this origin only ever allows you to have 12 men in your roster, there’s no putting them in the backline without leaving you at a disadvantage. Despite starting out with very strong characters, this origin is a challenge best suited for experienced players that know what they’re doing.

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Jun
05

Dev Blog #139: The Serpent

The bestiary of the south grows by another entry as we take a look at a scaled and slithery opponent this week: The Serpent. Read on!

The Serpent

While much of the south is made up of barren wasteland, the seas of sand are dotted with green islands that promise a treasure most sparse in these parts: water. Water means life in the great deserts, and so any caravans seeking to travel them will hop from one oasis to the next. They are lush refuges teeming with life, but also with danger, for they are home to a slithery predator: The Serpent.

The Serpent is a large non-venomous snake that preys on animals and humans alike in and around oases. Well-camouflaged on the ground, they are not always easily spotted from afar, but they are also slower on the world map than other beasts. Using their forked tongue to sample the air, they have a directional sense of smell and can hunt equally well in the darkness of night as they can in the bright of day.

In battle, a Serpent will seek to wind itself around their prey, to constrict their movement and breath, and to drag them away from allies where they can be more easily killed in isolation. Similar to human opponents using the ‘Hook’ skill of Billhooks, Serpents can pull apart a formation, drag your men into being surrounded by several opponents, and expose your backline. Although Serpents are not venomous, they will attack using their fangs until their victim is either dead or limp enough to be devoured whole.

Serpents can be dangerous for anyone traveling the south, but they also offer an opportunity for earning crowns. The body of a Serpent is covered with overlapping scales of different colors, and some serpent skin, particularly rainbow colored scales, is worth a lot to the upper class of the city states that seek to flaunt their wealth. A mercenary captain will often find contracts to hunt down Serpents, whether to turn them into expensive-looking slippers or simply because too many a caravan hand lost their live along a trade route so that business begins to suffer. The shimmering scales are quite resistant to heat and fire, and a taxidermist can also craft an armor attachment out of these for use with your own men.

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May
29

Dev Blog #138: More Smaller Things

Even though the Corona situation has been and still is negatively affecting our schedule, we’re making steady progress every week. There are signs of normalcy on the horizon regarding the reopening of schools and daycare, so here’s hoping our productivity will also soon normalize again. In the meantime, we’ll take another look at several smaller additions coming with the next update. Read on!

A New Banner

As a thank you for your continued patience, and because having a guiding light in dark times seems fitting, we’ll include a new player banner in the free 1.4 update. Hurray.

More Champions

The ‘Blazing Deserts’ DLC will introduce a variety of new human opponents. Several of these you can also face as more dangerous champions, like famed gladiators, nomad princes and southern officers of great renown. The screenshot below showcases some of the new named gear that these guys may carry.

We’ve also made more existing opponents into champions. For example, if you ever wanted to fight a particularly powerful necromancer with an illustrious name like ‘The Puppeteer’ or ‘The King of Worms’ who is carrying unique loot, you’ll soon be able to. And if you hire the Bounty Hunter as part of your retinue of non-combat followers, you can earn additional bounties for hunting down champions such as these, and find them more easily and more frequently.

New Treasure Items

In order to make fighting beasts, and particularly those of the powerful and dangerous variety, more rewarding, we’re introducing additional new treasure items. These are not for crafting, but only for selling. For example, a Hexe may now leave you a valuable jade brooch as you hasten her departure from this world, while an Unhold may have crushed and mashed any valuables that they found into a handy twisted ball, which you can loot and sell.

New Settlement Situations

The southern city states come with a selection of their own settlement situations. For example, a city may hold slave auctions, which significantly increases the availability of slaves. Sand storms may temporarily limit the availability of goods transported by caravans, and bread and games will mean lots of activity in the local arena and increased availability of gladiators for hire. Other situations, like slave revolts, are directly linked to contracts, and completing them will resolve the situation for the city and, in this case, make slaves available again for purchase.

Northern settlements also get a few new situations, mostly to do with trade. A ceremonial season in a northern town with a temple means increased prices for incense and thus lucrative trading opportunities. Finally, tavern rumors now also include hints of settlement situations of nearby villages and towns, and less flavor responses, so that you get a better idea of trading, recruiting and work opportunities nearby. For example, if you’re set on hunting Unholds to wear their furs as cloaks, tavern rumors can now point you to villages where the giant creatures have been sighted.

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May
22

Dev Blog #137: The Hyena

While Direwolves, Webknechts und Schrats dwell deep in dark forests of the north, the upcoming southern deserts have entirely different beastly inhabitants. We’ve already learned about the Ifrit, intended mostly as an opponent for well-established companies. This week is about a new beastly opponent for you to face in the early and mid game: The Hyena. Let’s take a look!

The Hyena

Prowling the southern deserts and steppe is the Hyena, a carnivorous mammal that resembles a poorly groomed cross between feline and canine. Prey can be few and far between in the endless sea of sand, and so the Hyena is both scavenger and nocturnal hunter. Many a traveler lost in the desert ended up a feast for a pack of Hyenas – but whether they tore him apart as he was still alive, or he died of thirst long before the pack came upon him, is another matter.

In the barren wastes of the south, no scrap of flesh can go to waste, and the Hyena has a jaw strong enough to crush bone so that it can get to every last shred. As it turns out, a jaw that can crush bone can crush armor quite well, too, making the Hyena a threat also to men in armor that would protect them against lesser wildlife. Although a Hyena is smaller than a northern Direwolf, and not always able to kill an unarmored man in a single turn, the way it rips flesh from its victims can leave terrible bleeding wounds and inflict the ‘Bleeding’ status effect. A battle against starved Hyenas is not lost as quickly as against a pack of Direwolves, but it may well be over before you even realize it when your men live on borrowed time as they slowly bleed out while the hyenas circle you in anticipation of a feast.

Hyenas roam and attack in packs that swarm and often surround their prey, attacking from multiple angles. They’re faster in combat than most other opponents, faster even than a Direwolf. A single Hyena can attack three times a turn, often overwhelming their victims and leaving them fatigued as they try to dodge every attack. However, their morale isn’t particularly good, and like most beasts they’re especially afraid of firearms spewing smoke and fire with a loud bang, unreliable as they otherwise may be. Naturally, Hyenas drop unique loot which can either be sold or used to craft new items, including a new armor attachment, if you own the ‘Beasts & Exploration’ DLC.

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May
15

Dev Blog #136: Smaller Things

The next update to Battle Brothers will introduce not just major new gameplay features, many of which we’ve already talked about, but will also include countless smaller additions and improvements. This week we’re taking a look at some of those. Let’s start!

New Banners

Naturally, the ‘Blazing Deserts’ DLC will come with several new banners to pick for your mercenary company. They all sport a southern look and are a good fit for a southern-themed playthrough.

We’ll also have a Supporter Edition again for those who want to support us in developing Battle Brothers above and beyond. As a thank you, you’ll get a unique southern-style banner with some extra bling this time.

Ambitions

The next update will include some rebalancing on currently available ambitions, but the upcoming DLC will add a whole bunch of new ones. Many of these new ambitions are tailored to specific playstyles – for example, perhaps you’re more into trading? There’s a new ambition for becoming a master trader. Or perhaps you’re into banditry and robbing caravans? We’ve got you covered. Because unlocking additional slots for your retinue of non-combat followers requires renown (the system was slightly revised since we last talked about it), these new ambitions also help out with more specialized playstyles that previously had a harder time at accumulating renown.

When picking ambitions, it’s obviously helpful to know beforehand what exactly is asked of you and what your your reward is going to be in order to make an informed choice of your company’s next steps. That’s why the ambition selection now includes a detailed tooltip showing exactly that.

More Reactivity

In an effort to bring more reactivity to the world of Battle Brothers, we’ve added a few more ways to interact with parties on the worldmap. For example, if you happen upon a caravan that is being attacked, and you rescue them, they’ll now properly thank you and often provide you with some kind of reward. As they then tell the story of how you saved them to others, your relations to settlements will also improve this way.

Farmers travelling between settlements to sell their produce on local markets may now also offer it to you. That’s convenient for the farmers, as they don’t have to travel all the way to the next settlement, but can return early to their loved ones, and it may be convenient for you, as it’s a way to get cheaper supplies on the road. Of course, you can also decide to just take it from the farmers by force – after all, what are they going to do about it against a company of armed men?

Trade

The ‘Blazing Deserts’ DLC will introduce several new trade goods produced only under the blistering heat of the southern sun, such as silk, incense and spices. But while previously the prices of trade goods were affected only by the size of a settlement and whether it produced a trade good itself, it’s now also a matter of how far away a trade good is produced. 

Southern trade goods, such as spices, will earn you a higher profit up north, where such goods are not commonly available. Conversely, northern trade goods, like thick furs, will earn you higher profit down in the south, where even a bear pelt is a valuable curiosity. All this makes trading across the continent and across larger distances more profitable.

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