Mar
29

Dev Blog #120: The Barbarians, Part III

In part two we introduced three basic unit types of the new barbarian faction that is to claim the north in the upcoming ‘Warriors of the North’ DLC. This week, we take a closer look at their more specialized unit types. As always, keep in mind that things are still in development and may change. With that said, let’s go!

Drummers

As has been tradition for generations, larger parties of northern barbarians that go to war are often accompanied by drummers. In a sea of rhythmic tribal beats and chants, the barbarian mind will enter a trance-like state where there is only battle, and the barbarian spirit will press the body to its limit and beyond.

As mentioned previously, barbarians have a very physical and fatiguing style of combat, and they don’t pace themselves well. They’re especially dangerous in the first few rounds, but if you can weather this opening onslaught, barbarians will then often find themselves exhausted.

The rhythmic beats of the drummers will have barbarians press on to glory despite this, reflected in the game by reducing the fatigue of any barbarian on the field by a small amount each round. A barbarian can have their fatigue reduced only a single time per round, no matter how many drummers on the field, but it may be enough to give them the strength to use an additional skill, which makes them all the more dangerous. It’s worth considering, therefore, to make drummers a priority target – even if they themselves are unlikely to inflict any damage on your men with their wooden drumsticks.

Beastmasters

Beastmasters are revered for their druid-like abilities to control the biggest natural predator of the north – the unhold – and lead them into battle as living and breathing war machines. They wear ceremonial helmets with long horns and decorate their armor with animal bones, but their most useful tool is a thorned whip with which to exert dominion over their beasts.

In battle, the beastmaster will always appear with one or more unholds. These mighty beasts can wear anything from a simple metal harness and chain, to be controlled more easily, to having metal plates nailed right onto their hide – something possible only due to the unhold’s uncanny ability to quickly heal any wound, even during battle. A beast armored like this can be impossible to bring down if you’re not equipped both for handling massive amounts of armor and health at the same time.

Every turn, a beastmaster cracks the whip to direct their beastly warmachines to do his bidding. However, a beastmaster can not do so if anyone is in their zone of control. And they very much can’t do so, if they’re dead. If an armored unhold doesn’t get directions from any beastmaster, they become confused, and every round there is a chance that they become feral, change to the beast faction, and attack player and barbarians alike in a mad rage of befuddlement.

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Mar
22

Dev Blog #119: Tunes from the North

Before venturing further into the northlands, let’s set the mood this week by taking a closer look at fresh music accompanying the new faction of northern barbarians coming with the “Warriors of the North” DLC. Yup, Breakdown Epiphanies are on board again to add to the game’s music. Let’s see what they have to say in this week’s dev blog!

Tunes from the North

As those of you who have been following Battle Brothers since they days of Early Access know, as composers we ourselves took an RPG approach when it comes to orchestrating soundtracks for the various factions in the game. The undead are accompanied by an orchestra solely comprised of dark string instruments and percussion that is supposed to resemble the rattling of bones, the orc music is dominated by dark and menacing brass as well as sounds of metal, for the brigands our theme was „instruments you can carry around with you“, and so on. The signature sound of each faction in the game grew from imposing limitations upon ourselves, which in turn lead to a very distinguishable tonal landscape that could even give away what the player is fighting the first time they do so.

You may be happy to hear that for the upcoming “Warriors of the North” DLC we got on board again to expand the soundtrack with new music accompanying the player’s battles against their new adversary, the northern barbarians.

Adding new factions to the soundtrack gets more tricky as time goes on: While from a gameplay standpoint, fighting the barbarians will play out differently than fighting orcs, there are certain aesthetic similarities (brute force, heavily armored higher tier units, show up in clans) that would also favour a similar approach to the music (which in case of the orcs translated to throwing all the brass instruments and war drums that we could find into the mix). Luckily, though, the barbarians also lend themselves well to going a different route, which is mostly inspired by their nordic and rus themed lore and background.

Avoiding brass (and the resulting overlap with the orc faction) completely, we decided to use vocals as the tonal backbone of this faction of northmen. Aside from more common singing styles, we incorporated mouth percussion, overtone and throat singing, which is a vocal style found in Norwegian folklore, Mongolian music and shamanist rituals leading back to the stone ages. As, from a gameplay perspective, the barbarians are a variant of the brigands, we also fell back on the brigands’ „instruments you can carry around with you“ philosophy. Only a single violin, a Swedish nyckelharpa (a medieval string instrument), a couple of drums and a choir of hardened nordmen come together to add new signature battle tracks to the Battle Brothers soundtrack. While production is still ongoing, we are happy to give you this sneak peek today.

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Mar
15

Dev Blog #118: The Barbarians, Part II

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!

Thralls

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

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.

Champions

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.

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Mar
08

Dev Blog #117: Named Equipment

Chasing after named items can be fun and a driving motivator in the later parts of a campaign. At the same time, things can always be improved, and so we’re doing some tweaks on both how named items are placed, and what stats they can and can not have. And while we’re at it, we’re adding more named variants of existing equipment and filling in some blank spots. Let’s take a look!

Named Equipment

As nice as it is to have named equipment, not every piece you fought a hard battle over is always a satisfying reward. With weapons in particular, there’s quite a difference in how useful individual stats are, and therefore how good a named weapon actually is. We want to keep different levels of quality between items, but we’re tweaking what stats those items can have over their common counterparts, and we’re also introducing several new potential stats. All this is to make sure that named items will always be better than their common counterparts in some significant way, and that named items feel more unique, both of which will make for a more satisfying treasure hunt.

To offer you a broader collection to hunt for and claim as your own, the upcoming 1.3 update will also add various new named variants of existing armors.

One faction that didn’t have named equipment until now are the Ancient Dead. That’s about to be rectified. The image below shows some of the upcoming named weapons, alongside their common counterparts, that can be taken both from Ancient Dead locations and from the cold dead hands of your vanquished opponents.

And as you’ve learned last week, barbarians will not only come with their own weapons and armor, but named variants of their top tier weapons as well. While all of the above additions will be part of the free update, the new weapons below will be a part of the ‘Warriors of the North’ DLC.

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Mar
01

Dev Blog #116: The Barbarians, Part I

The upcoming ‘Warriors of the North’ DLC will not just bring more replayability and nordic equipment, but also introduce an entirely new human faction to the game. They’ll come with their own lore, armor and weapons, enemy types and fighting styles to pose a unique challenge to any mercenary commander. Let’s delve in!

Introduction

During the development of the ‘Beasts & Explorations’ DLC we had this idea for groups of wildmen roaming the northern parts of the map. Essentially, they’d be a different flavor of brigands and use existing assets. Except, maybe we could also squeeze in one new armor if we found the time? Or maybe even two? And so we decided that if we wanted to do them, we’d do them right and dedicate the time necessary to give them equipment and mechanics of their own, their own music, as well as contracts and events to convey their lore and the part they play in the world of Battle Brothers. So here we are, with a ‘Warriors of the North’ DLC in development.

Many hundred years ago, in a different era, an empire of man spanned much of the known world. An empire, not of petty noble houses, but one of a dozen provinces, from the blistering sands of the south to the frozen tundra of the north, of a dozen peoples under one banner. As the empire spread further and further to the north, it became entangled in constant war with countless tribes of barbarians. Some were subjugated by force, some saw opportunity and swore allegiance, others faded into nothingness, but many more remained free; their constant raids and incursions a thorn in the side of the empire.

The empire, as you may know, eventually crumbled under its own weight, and feudal houses emerged from the dust to rule the lands in its stead. Yet, in the very north, the free barbarian tribes remained free still. For them, their own tribe is the beginning and the end, it is bliss in life and death, for their family is holy to them and they believe to sit with their ancestors if they meet their end in this life. They roam the harsh and infertile lands as they have been for hundreds of years, they raid to claim what they need, and they sacrifice their prisoners in bloody rituals to prove their worth to ancestors who ascended to be gods through their deeds in life. But they’re not beasts, and they’re not of alien minds like the greenskins. They’re humans; and while they speak a different tongue, they can be reasoned with, and they know the concepts of honor, and friendship, and truce and bartering. What they do, they have to do in order to survive in the unforgiving lands they inhabit. They follow their old ways to this day. They’re the warriors of the north.

Fighting Barbarians

The warriors of the north are ferocious fighters, but with scarce resources and a nomadic lifestyle, they usually don’t have access to the level of equipment that other human factions do. Many of them wear armor crafted from pelts and furs, and while some do boast metal armor, not least because it is a matter of prestige, the harsh climate of the north often has taken a toll on it over the years. Some barbarians even forego armor altogether, and instead paint their bodies with magic runes to call upon their ancestors to protect them from harm.

Their weapons are likewise often crafted from wood and bone, some of the few materials readily available to them, or have been handed down through generations and show signs of wear. Generally, all barbarian weapons have somewhat lower base damage values, but a higher percentage of damage that ignores armor than comparable weapons in the game. Of course, all their armor and weapons are lootable and equippable by you, too – and there’ll be named variants as well!

In combat, a barbarian warband doesn’t bother with formations, and they have no backline with polearms or dedicated archers. They are a horde of ferocious warriors in a constant shuffle of everyone trying to bring their weapons to bear against the enemy. They’ll shower you with throwing weapons, they run towards your line, and they make ample use of the ‘Adrenaline’ perk to overwhelm you before you can even strike back. They don’t fear death the same as other humans do, so they are not easy to break, and getting hurt will only further incite their barbarian wrath.

Because a barbarian warband is but a loose collection of individuals, unified only in their tribal bonds and their willingness to fight for their place in both life and afterlife, their unit types are quite diverse in terms of equipment and perks, as you’ll see in a future dev blog.

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Feb
22

Dev Blog #115: Nordic Equipment

It’s Friday again! This week we’ll take a look at some of the new nordic and rus inspired equipment and player banners coming with the ‘Warriors of the North’ DLC. Just keep in mind that things are still in active development, so we can’t show everything that is to come just yet, and things may still change. Onwards!

New Banners

Coming with the ‘Warriors of the North’ DLC are two new player banners. One is more inspired by scandinavian vikings, the other by rus vikings. Of course you’ll be able to paint your shields with the motif of these new banners as well.

Many of you supported us beyond the asking price of the ‘Beasts & Exploration’ DLC by getting the Supporter Edition. We’re very thankful, and your support has shown how much you appreciate us creating more content for Battle Brothers. We’ll also be offering a Supporter Edition for the new DLC as well. There’ll be more details at a later time, but for now, here’s a preview of the bonus banner and painted shields that’ll be included.


New Wardog

The harsh climate of the northern tundra and hills is home to a hardier breed of wardog, the warhound. Bigger and stronger than its southern brethren, it can bring a grown man down on its own, and take more of a beating, but it is also slower and therefore less suited for chasing down runners. You’ll face the warhound in battle, and you’ll also be able to purchase your own at northern settlements.


New Helmets

If your mercenary company operates in the north, and perhaps if it even hails from the north by virtue of choosing the ‘Northern Raiders’ company origin, you may want your men to look the part. The DLC will introduce various new helmets inspired by historical nordic and rus designs. Most of them will also come in extra fancy named variants to hunt for.

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