Dev Blog #80: Progress Update – New Perk System


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!


About Jaysen


  • Texan
    Aug 5, 2016 @ 17:22 pm

    I hope bags and belts & quickhands will be also nerfed, because it is very overused. Archers changing weapon to big hammer without any fatigue and action points cost ( imagine when you come to bandit marksman, and he switch weapon to twohanded axe or pike and he kills you, before you can act). Or ability to shoot 3 times with crossbow in one turn.

    • Rap
      Aug 5, 2016 @ 18:00 pm

      Yes, both Bags & Belts and Quickhands have seen some changes.

  • Monsieur Fourmi
    Aug 5, 2016 @ 17:38 pm

    Reading this is even better than watching Guardians of the Galaxy! Thanks you guys!

    • Monsieur Fourmi
      Aug 5, 2016 @ 18:49 pm

      I’m wondering what’s the dog perk will provide… Maybe something like “you are so cute that your ennemies will never hurt you”?

      • harnas1977
        Aug 9, 2016 @ 8:30 am

        These were my thoughts exactly. To cute to execute ;)

  • Anonymous
    Aug 5, 2016 @ 17:43 pm


  • RusBear
    Aug 5, 2016 @ 17:50 pm

    No perk tree for the group as a whole based on its reputation and successful quests?

  • Sarissofoi
    Aug 5, 2016 @ 22:42 pm

    This is a pretty big change.
    ‘Desire to know more intensives’
    Farewell Inspiring presence+Hold out combo.
    So I bet new update will be no compatible with old saves.

    • Meeky
      Aug 7, 2016 @ 4:39 am

      I’ll bet it’ll be compatible, but perks will be reset.

      Or it might be incompatible. We’ll see.

      • Rap
        Aug 7, 2016 @ 14:02 pm

        The update will not be compatible with older savegames. It will require starting a new campaign.

  • Perky
    Aug 6, 2016 @ 0:39 am

    Hmm I’m wondering why “Recovery” skill is a Perk? Isn’t it something every Fighter would be able to do naturally and not waste valuable skill point on this?

  • Ulrich
    Aug 6, 2016 @ 14:07 pm

    Well done!

  • Meeky
    Aug 7, 2016 @ 4:45 am

    Rally the Troops is something that needed changing for sure. It was one of those perks where SOMEONE in your company HAD to have it if you wanted anything near optimal play.

    I’m curious as to what other methods will exist to control fatigue. Fatigue is probably the most precious resource in the game, as it controls how much “HP” you have (via armor), how much damage you can do (limited by fatigue), how far you can move, etc. The manipulation of fatigue is always going to be a key part of the game.

    This will probably make some previously unpicked traits more useful either way. I can see taking the perk that restores fatigue on landing killing blows more often than before. I can also see letting big guys with big weapons and big armor land all the killing blows for just that reason.

    Weapon Mastery is an A+ decision, too.

    My one concern is going to be whether some talents will feel more skip-able than ever. If you can pick ANY tier 1 perk, then your broad selection of choices keeps you from ever considering certain ones, as you’ll be on bigger tiers really quickly. We’ll see, though.

    I will say this: the changes described thus far don’t serve as a major hindrance to the current most-powerful build: the Nimble build. Perhaps more ranged enemies should be introduced whenever the chance comes to make the build less of a Swiss army knife?

    • Rap
      Aug 7, 2016 @ 14:02 pm

      Like all perks, Nimble, too, has seen some changes and works quite differently now.

  • NewAgeOfPower
    Aug 7, 2016 @ 8:12 am

    Holy shit I am so hyped! Assuming Friday Update, this means we’ll have new perks within 2 weeks! Huzzah!

  • RusBear
    Aug 7, 2016 @ 10:51 am

    ” 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.”
    He-he, looks like you, devs, hate axes as much as Iike them…

  • Quidman
    Aug 7, 2016 @ 19:08 pm

    concerning weapon mastery, one point is tiking me up. There are weapon wich are kind of a mix, like the recent long axes. And looking at the weapon mastery icons, it looks like “axes” are looked as a group. But, There’s Two icon for the spears. So, could it be that some weapon will benefit from two “weapon mastery”? Like, pike would be long polearm AND spear?

    • Quidman
      Aug 7, 2016 @ 19:16 pm

      In fact, since you’re working on it, I would like to make a suggestion. It would be cool if you mixed up 2 style of weapon masteries :

      Short (dagger/fist/butcherchopper), One handed, two handed, longpole (maybe two categories for One handed : With and without a shield) and at the same time, masteries by type of weapon : Axes, spears, dagger, club and hammer, swordlike etc…

    • Rap
      Aug 7, 2016 @ 19:22 pm

      Weapons only ever benefit from one weapon mastery. The tooltip for weapons has been updated to show what category they belong to, as well as whether they’re one- or two-handed.

  • mrbunnyban
    Aug 8, 2016 @ 17:04 pm

    Looking forward to the new update! Designing perks/skills is pretty tricky, so will try to give some feedback after testing

  • mrbunnyban
    Aug 8, 2016 @ 17:06 pm

    Ah, the long awaited perk change! Perk/skill design is pretty tricky so I’ll try to give feedback after play testing

    I imagine you’re going to have to change the AI perks too?

  • OldGreyBeard
    Aug 9, 2016 @ 9:54 am

    I’ll miss my 2-shot on first turn crossbow line. But, the new flexibility looks good!

  • Monsieur Fourmi
    Aug 9, 2016 @ 18:38 pm

    I do like the fact we have weapons masteries in this perks.

    But I see one problem with it:
    Imagine you are a new player into the game. You are going to upgrade your first character at level 4 … and you don’t really know which weapon you want to eventually give to your character! Indeed, as a new player, you probably only experience a few weapons, like spear, dagger, bow, greataxe, and sword… but definitely not every weapon in the game.
    So maybe it will feel a bit frustrating if you have to choose a specialization when you actually don’t know know what you miss not choosing another one!
    Will it be possible to choose a third (or lower) tier skill at level 4 instead of a weapon specialization and still open the 6th tier for next level? Maybe it could delay the choice for hesitant players.

    • Rap
      Aug 9, 2016 @ 19:38 pm

      Of course, you can pick any perk you want as long as you have unlocked that tier/row.

      • Monsieur Fourmi
        Aug 9, 2016 @ 23:40 pm

        Ok thanks! :)
        And how do you unlock a row? Is it only when you have the required level?

        • Rap
          Aug 10, 2016 @ 0:21 am

          By spending perk points (i.e. picking perks). It’s explained in the dev blog above ;)

          • mariusz
            Aug 15, 2016 @ 17:17 pm

            when all of this stuff will be done?
            I downloaded latest update and none of this seems to work?

  • mariusz
    Aug 14, 2016 @ 21:32 pm

    when all of this stuff will be done?
    I downloaded latest update and none of this seems to work?

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