Dev Blog #104: The Schrat

Hostile plant life makes its entry into the world of Battle Brothers in this week’s edition of our dev blog for the upcoming ‘Beasts & Exploration’ DLC. Get your axes ready!

The Schrat

The Waldschrat, or Schrat for short, is a fabled living tree found in the most remote forests of the world. A creature of bark and wood, it resembles no other, and its mind is truly alien. It blends between trees and shambles slowly, its roots digging through the soil. A frightening night time story tells of how trees watered with the blood of the unjustly killed turn into twisted living trees, out to strangle and choke the life out of children that don’t behave.

A Schrat can grow limbs at a whim, and so they grow and regrowth what resembles a wooden shield to protect their more vulnerable parts. While this shield is up, they’ll be much harder to hit and damage. The shield can be destroyed like any other with the ‘Split Shield’ skill, and doing so will reveal the Schrat’s much softer innards; although Schrats can be destroyed either way, they’ll take significantly more damage without the shield’s protection. In a surprising twist, then, axes are particularly useful against trees.

A Schrat attacks by slamming its thorned roots up from below ground, knocking up and impaling whatever is above ground. It’s an area of effect attack that always hits three tiles in a straight line, starting from the tile the Schrat sits on and going outwards along how their roots grew. Anyone hit will receive the ‘Staggered’ status effect – they’ll be off-balance, scrambling and late to act for their next turn. The Schrat has the potential to inflict a lot of damage when hitting three targets with a single attack, but they’re much less dangerous if you use smart positioning and work around their limitation of only being able to hit multiple targets if they’re in a straight line from it.

If a Schrat takes sufficient damage from a single blow to sever a large enough part of them, it will spawn a Sapling upon hitting the ground. They’re miniature Schrats that are much weaker, at least until they’re fully grown in a hundred years or so, but they can still whittle your men down. It’s a trade-off then; fight Schrats with heavy weaponry and they’ll die quicker, but you’ll also have to fight Saplings. Fight with light weaponry, and it’ll take longer to beat down a Schrat, but you won’t have to fight Saplings as well.


Dev Blog #103: Crafting

You may be wondering by now why you’d even want to take on some of the dangerous new beasts coming to Battle Brothers. Why risk your favorite guy getting charmed by a Hexe and hacking your other men to pieces? Well, firstly, because people will pay you to. And secondly, because the slain beasts will provide you with trophies from which to craft unique items. Let’s delve into the details!

The Taxidermist

Battle Brothers had crafting events for a long time – things like a tailor being able to craft unique armor from the pelts dropped by Direwolves. This was fine before, because those events were primarily supposed to just add flavor to particular backgrounds. However, if we’re going to have crafting as a full gameplay mechanic, the game needs to have a more reliable way for you to craft what you want to and when. We’re keeping some of the crafting events for flavor, but for most things we’re introducing an entirely new crafting system.

The way it works is this: Every beastly opponent comes with a couple of new trophy items, and which one you can proudly claim upon slaying them is randomized. Existing beasts like the Direwolf, Nachzehrer and Lindwurm also receive a loot overhaul if you have the ‘Beasts & Exploration’ DLC installed. These trophies can then be taken to a new building found in settlements across the world: The taxidermist. No worries, you’ll have a bit more room in your inventory so that things don’t get too crowded with all the new loot while you’re on your way there.

For a price, the taxidermist is able to create all kinds of new items that suitably reflect your achievements in big game hunting from the trophies that you bring him – charms, cloaks, armor plating, armor for your wardogs, shields, antidotes, drugs, and more. At first, you’ll only see a list of things for which you have all the necessary components to craft in your inventory, so you should drop by every now and then with your new trophies to see what can be done with them. Once you’ve crafted an item, however, you’ll always see its ‘recipe’ and all the necessary components, missing or not, so you’ll know exactly what you need to get in order to craft another one.

Fighting beasts is about to become much more rewarding, which in turn means more variety in the battles that you should pick, even in the early game. Of course, the more powerful the item to craft, the more and the more rare trophies you’ll need to provide. And here we first touch upon the exploration aspect of the ‘Beasts & Exploration’ DLC; even though some of the new beasts will be quite common, the most valuable trophies will be found only by defeating the strongest of beasts, lurking in the wilderness far away from civilization. If you want to get the ultimate hunting trophies, you’ll have to venture out and explore the unknown corners of the world!

Armor Customization

So what’s so great about these items that you can craft? Well, one of the major new things that the taxidermist can create for you are attachments with which to customize your armor.

What says ‘I myself bested a giant beast of the frozen wastes’ better than donning its fur as a cloak for everyone to see? You’ve seen the Unhold with its white fur. Go and collect that fur as a trophy, bring it to the taxidermist and have him craft you a cloak out of it. This cloak can then be permanently attached to any armor of your choosing. Not only will it make you look like a veteran mercenary badass, each armor attachment also gives a particular benefit – for example, a fur cloak may make the wearer more impervious to ranged attacks, while replacement padding spun out of a certain creature’s silk may make an armor lighter. It means new choices for a mercenary commander, because a single armor can only be adorned with a single attachment.

Not all armor attachments need to be crafted. We’re also adding a couple of more common ones made out of metal and leather which you’ll be able to buy in shops and loot from places across the world. Those add additional protection and weight to any armor they’re attached to, but generally at a better ratio than using straight-up heavier armor. Also, they allow for more visual customization of your men, which is always nice.


Dev Blog #102: The Webknecht

So far we’ve talked about two new enemies that are part of the upcoming ‘Beasts & Exploration’ DLC and intended to spice up the mid to late game. We want to bring fresh enemies to all stages of the game, so this week we’ll take a look at a new beast aimed to bring variety mostly to the early game. Let’s crawl!

The Webknecht

The Webknecht is a large arachnid that lives in sizable colonies in the dark areas of forests throughout the world of Battle Brothers. It’s there that they spin their webs between trees to trap anything from bird to deer and between. Unlike most other beasts, Webknechts don’t usually roam a lot, preferring instead to sit in their territory and wait until something unfortunate gets itself caught in one of their nets. Still, they’re known to choose the vicinity of settlements for their home on occasion and threaten the lives of villagers and their livestock.

The presence of a large enough number of Webknechts is heralded by extensive webs spanning from brush to tree to rock, uniquely transforming any combat environment in a way that leaves no doubt about who lives there. Worse still, amidst the webbings are nests of eggs, and these eggs hatch during combat. You can seek them out, and destroy them with a single strike before they hatch, but otherwise, as combat goes on, there’s always the danger of more and more eight-legged terrors swaming you until you cut down enough to make it ebb.

Webknechts make use of the ‘Weave Web’ skill to weave around their opponents a sticky web, which prevents anyone trapped inside from moving and reduces their ability to attack with full force or defend themselves effectively. Characters can attempt to free themselves of the web during their turn, and each failed attempt increases the chance of subsequent attempts succeeding, but doing so can quickly become tiring, which only works in the arachnids’ favor.

Webknechts aren’t as frenzied in their attacks as, for example, Direwolves are. Instead, they choose to let their opponents tire themselves out by struggling in their webs, and they wait until an opportunity presents itself and their opponent is distracted before they attempt to bite them a single time per turn. They act as a swarm, and so the more oversized spiders surrounding a target and acting in concert, the more effective they become.

The Webknecht’s bites aren’t terribly dangerous to the armored mercenary, but Webknechts are poisonous, and receiving hitpoint damage will apply it. Unlike the poison employed by Goblins, the Webknecht poison does damage to vital organs over several turns and characters can die from it. The Antidote item already in the game works just as well against this kind of poison, however, and is more important now than ever. In fact, it can now be crafted at will if you have the necessary components – but more on that in next week’s dev blog.


Dev Blog #101: New Weapons

We take a break from looking at things that make your life harder, to take a look at things that make your life easier this week. The upcoming ‘Beasts & Exploration’ DLC will add a bouquet of new weapons. Some of them will fill gaps in the progression of existing weapon types, while others are hybrid and niche weapons to create new builds and tactics with. And all of them will add more variety to human opponents, like brigands. Just keep in mind that details may still change depending on how playtesting goes. Let’s take a look!

Filling The Gaps

First off, several of the new weapons are designed to fill gaps in the tiered progression of individual weapon types. The Longsword is a lower tier version of the Greatsword, but no less versatile. It allows us to more gradually introduce two-handed swords with enemies, and it allows you to use a less costly alternative earlier in the game. Similarly, the Two-Handed Wooden Hammer is a lower tier version of the existing Two-Handed Hammer. And while previously the Orc Berserker Chain was the only two-handed Flail in the game, there’s now two tiers of human two-handed Flails as well.

Two-Handed Maces

Maces now come in massive two-handed variants. They excel in single-target damage and crowd control, and like their one-handed cousins, they apply a lot of additional fatigue damage. Receiving a blow from a weapon like this will leave anyone dazed and gasping for air, and this is reflected in the ‘Cudgel’ skill applying the new ‘Dazed’ effect. A dazed character will have their maximum fatigue, initiative and damage output reduced. The other skill of two-handed maces is called ‘Strike Down’ and will stun a target for a whole 2 turns, instead of just 1 turn with one-handed maces. This also plays into a new perk which we’ll explain in another dev blog.

The Polehammer

The new Polehammer is the polearm variant of the Warhammer, a weapon designed to neutralize heavily armored targets. With two tiles of range, a Polehammer can be used from behind the frontline, and outside the range of most other melee weapons, to batter, deform and rip enemy armor. Against unarmored or lightly armored targets, however, other polearms perform better.

The Spetum

Even more defense-oriented than a pike, the two-handed Spetum is used like a cross between pike and spear in the game. It is a specialized polearm that is less damaging than the pike, but can be used to form a more deadly yet more fatiguing ‘Spearwall’ than with a one-handed spear. Particularly useful against beasts.

The Throwing Spear

Throwing weapons also get some love with the new Throwing Spear. Larger than a Javelin, it’s a consumable item similar to the Throwing Net and designed to take out shields from afar.

The Goedendag

A curious hybrid between club and spear, the Goedendag is a two-handed weapon that enjoys popularity with militia and similar non-professional outfits. It comes with the ‘Thrust’ skill of the spear, making it easy to hit with, as well as the ‘Knock Out’ skill of Maces, enabling the user to incapacitate their opponents.

The Three-Headed Flail

The Three-Headed Flail, also called Ochsenherde, is a less common weapon. It works the same as any other one-handed flail in the game, except for one detail: Every attack is split into three separate ones, one for each of the striking heads, and each head can hit or miss, and hit body or head, separately. That’s a good thing if you’re looking for consistent damage and a high chance to hit the enemy at all, for example to apply the Poisoned effect or because you’re fighting a fragile enemy with high defenses. On the other hand, this weapon will split damage between head and body armor even more so than other weapons, making it ill-suited if you’re looking to brute-force your way through enemy armor.

The Fencing Sword

Another uncommon weapon is the Fencing Sword; a light and elegant blade that favors a swift and mobile fighting style. It comes with a skill unique only to this weapon: ‘Lunge’. Using the ‘Lunge’ skill, the user will dash towards a target two tiles away, followed immediately by a precise thrusting attack to catch the target unprepared. Lunge gets a damage bonus scaling with the user’s initiative; the quicker the user, and the less armor weighing them down, the more damage they do. With a fencing sword, a combatant gains a lot of mobility, dancing between enemies to make precise strikes if any opening should present itself.

There’s even more new weapons coming, both legendary ones to be found by exploring the wilds, and craftable ones, but we don’t want to spoil these – you’ll just have to find them for yourself!


Dev Blog #100: The Unhold

Last week we took a look at the Hexe, a wily witch that is making its way into the world of Battle Brothers as part of the upcoming ‘Beasts & Exploration’ DLC. This week, we’ll take a look at the Unhold, a more down-to-earth type of enemy that is intended to spice up the mid game with its physical presence. Let’s go!

The Unhold

The Unhold is a lumbering giant, easily the size of three men, and dwarfing even the tallest orc. It eats whole sheep for a snack and empties a pond to wash it down. There’s tales of enraged Unholds leveling remote farms and plucking the limbs off of unlucky farmers like wings from insects, but closer examination will reveal that Unholds aren’t malicious creatures. They’re fiercely territorial, but may often be content to persuade with ear-deafening bellowing and threatening gestures any invaders to run for their lives. The Unhold is a somewhat solitary creature and can be found either alone or in small groups only.

The upcoming DLC will assign to all the beasts distinct habitats around the world, but the Unhold actually has several, because it comes in three regional variants. The most common variant is found in the northern tundra and hills. Another variant is said to be found in swamps and sometimes forests, where they inhabit caves. The fiercest is the northern variant found in the snowy wastes, with white fur that protects equally against cold and steel. Click here for a wallpaper of the artwork below.

The Unhold’s theme in the game is displacement, and all of his skills center around it. To this behemoth, zone of control means little, as he will constantly shuffle the battlefield and demand smart repositioning by the player to protect their weakest characters, and allow the strongest to bring their weapons to bear on the beast. Unholds have little to no armor, depending on the regional variant, but they possess the unique ability of healing wounds slowly over the course of combat. Luckily they can’t heal injuries, like a broken leg, the same way, but the longer combat drags on, the more their regenerative abilities will work in their favor.

The Unhold’s first skill is called ‘Unstoppable Charge’ and works similar to the charge that orcs employ. When charging, the Unhold hurls himself towards his opponents with such force that it can’t be defended against with a spearwall, it stuns or knocks back several people at once, and it also dazes the Unhold himself as he makes impact, so he isn’t able to charge and attack in the same turn.

The second skill is ‘Fling Back’ and allows the Unhold to grab any opponent in his way and fling them back over his shoulder like a plaything, taking their place in the process. Using the ‘Indomitable’ perk will guard against it, but anyone flung like this will receive falling damage. By tossing his opponents around, the Unhold can slowly make his way wherever he wants to go.

Once in melee, the Unhold uses his massive fists to make sweeping strikes that can hit up to three targets at once with so much force that there’s a chance they’ll be knocked back. Because the Unhold will constantly knock targets away from himself, he’s rather bad at focusing down a single target, but he excels at battering down a group of people over time. Individual attacks of the Unhold aren’t the most damaging, especially to armor, but he has the potential to make a real mess out of your plans if you don’t adapt fast enough.


Dev Blog #99: The Hexe

The upcoming ‘Beasts & Exploration’ DLC will add a variety of new beasts and related creatures to the world of Battle Brothers. We’re going to introduce new opponents to cover the early, mid and late game. Some of them will be pretty complex to fight, and others more straight-forward. Some will be magical creatures, and some plain beasts, but all of them will come with their own unique mechanics to challenge you.

To start things off, we’ll be taking a look at the Hexe today. It’s the first of two upcoming spellcaster type opponents we’re adding, and intended for spicing up the mid to late game. Let’s roll!

The Hexe

The Hexe is a witch inspired by Grimm’s fairy tales, a malevolent old crone living in swamps and forests outside of villages alone or in a coven with other Hexen. They’re human, but have long sacrificed their humanity for otherworldly powers. They’re feared, but also worshipped by some. They’re burned at the stake, and yet people seek them out to plead for miracles. They lure and abduct little children to make broth and concoctions out of, they strike terrible pacts with villagers to receive their firstborn, they weave curses and cast hexes. Their huts may or may not be made of candy. With her sorcery, a Hexe can enthrall wild beasts, and even warp the mind of humans, and so will often be found in the company of creatures that serve her.

The Hexe has two skills in combat. The first one is called ‘Charm’ and works like this: From her shriveled lips, the crone blows one of your men a seductive kiss to bewitch their mind. A strong-willed individual can resist with a successful resolve check, but otherwise they’re doomed to have their senses warped and to fall under the spell’s dominion for several turns until the effect wears off. To the ensorcelled, the Hexe no longer appears as an old crone, but a youthful lady with radiant beauty for which they will gladly obey every command. They’ll be eager to shield the witch from arrows with their bodies, and not think twice about hacking their comrades to pieces in order to protect their beloved. Should every last man on the battlefield be mind-controlled by a Hexe, the coven will have them all commit suicide in order to end the battle.

Even though the Hexe is old and fragile, has no melee attack, and in fact no Zone of Control, she isn’t quite defenseless. Her second skill is also a spell; it’s called ‘Hex’ and can be cast on one enemy at a time. Anyone that has a hex cast on them is cursed to feel the same pain and receive the same wounds as the Hexe does. It’s mutually assured destruction when the Hexe defends herself by giving you a choice: Attack her, and risk the health and potentially even life of one of your men, or let the hag live for another round, hoping that she doesn’t do too much damage in the meantime and that you can get her before she casts another hex. Or at least casts it on someone who can take a blow for the team.

Fighting a Hexe is different from fighting most other opponents in the game. For starters, the stronger you are, the stronger the Hexe gets, as you’ll spend a good time dealing with your own men turned hostile. Her two skills also make for a more puzzle-esque battle than usual, but the right approach can turn a seemingly impossible challenge into a manageable one. Maces and nets are useful for disabling your own men while they’re charmed, rushing or taunting the Hexe can be effective, and having solid resolve is always helpful. What tactics can you come up with to beat her?

Join us again next week for a look at a new beast that you’ll soon be able to meet on the field of battle – one that uses brute strength and not trickery of the mind.