A Battle Brothers Review

Battle Brothers is a game developed by Overhype Studios, a small group of passionate German players. This is a tactical turn based RPG in which you will become the commander of a company of sellswords in a brutal medieval fantasy world. I found that game through streamers on Twitch and got an interest for it immediately. The game being 29,99$, even thoug it is an indie 2d tactical game, it better have some sweet good content to share. Let’s check it out.

Defending a caravan

The Best Of the Best: The Battle System

Battle Brothers’ main focus is on the battlefield and its savagery, it feels like a sort of realistic medieval table top game. Each character participating in the battle will have a turn per round, on each of their turns they will have 9 action points to move, attack or use an ability. Those 9 action points (AP) limit you to two, or at best three, actions per turn, and those will often be used to position your company correctly, you have to think hard about your strategy, as the AI will know how to take advantage of your mistakes. The other limiting factor in battle, is fatigue, each time a bros — as the community likes to call them — moves or uses an ability, they get more fatigued until they are unable to do anything.

Of course, there are ways to lower that fatigue, but it can happen at the worst times. Thankfully, the game displays any information you would need, the descriptions of abilities are easy to understand and show you how many AP they cost and how much fatigue they add. This acts as a kick in the ass if you turtle too much or too early by abusing abilities like spearwall, it can also add more stress to fighting creatures who can be reanimated in battle after a few turns or being ambushed before your companion with a pierced lung can heal.

They think the forest can protect them? Fools!

I also find this game quite realistic, thanks to the to-hit chance and the battle mechanics. The accuracy of anyone in Battle Brothers does not depend on one or two statistics, your bros’ melee skill is first subtracted against the melee defense skill of whatever you want to hit, then it is changed by the gear he and your enemy are wearing — his weapon bonuses, skill and their shield — the terrain height — you have an advantage up hill — and whether or not there are other characters in your control zone — if you have bros surrounding your enemy, they all get a bonus chance to cutting them in half — which all makes sense and is summarized in one percentage you can easily check by mousing over your target.

Being fully aware of the state of the battlefield and what your bros can do will save them, and sometimes, even before the battle start. Engaging in battle at night or in a forest, for example, might be a bad idea, as the obscurity makes everyone less accurate and enemies can hide behind vegetation and trees. This is a part of what makes this game hard, it is down to earth, even when fighting supernatural creatures, luck will leave your side as quickly as it came, your over-confidence will be reduced to nothing in a matter of seconds and your bros will die painful and useless deaths or be horrifyingly injured, but it is all for the glory of the Company!

Torvald… he had a good life… until he got axed in the face…

The Bros And The Company

If you want your Company to be known around the land, you will have to learn to fill its basic needs: crowns, the game currency, so you can pay the wages of your companions; food so you may feed them; tools to maintain their equipment, which can break; ammunition for your ranged bros and medical supplies to heal them. If you run out of the most important ones, food and crowns, your companions morale will plummet, they will be more prompt to run away if things get tough in battle or even quit your Company altogether. But feeding and paying them is not enough to keep them in high spirit, winning and paying them drinks is though.

To the future glory of the Company!

The bros have all a back story some were fishermen, others miners, as such, some are better at being a roaming sellsword than others. These backgrounds also make them better skilled with melee or ranged weapons. You can read their background stories while hiring them. These backstories affect what traits the bro will have, if they are greedy, cocky or eagle sighted, there are many traits that make them quite unique. Even though their backgrounds can give hints to what skills they have, they are still somewhat diverse, as it is still possible to find someone who doesn’t look like a good archer, for example, to be better than your hunter, that’s always a good surprise to hire someone to be canon fodder and discover he is a master at murdering people.

Many skills to improve…
…many perks to get

Your job, on top of managing resources, is to grow your bros into powerful warriors. To do that, you will have to level them up, choose what 3 attributes to increase from the 16 they have and also which perks to take. You can create your own builds or try out those of the community. They are almost all useful but synergy is the key and the game will quickly crush you if you forget.

The World And Replay Value

Battle Brothers’ world is randomly generated each time you start a new campaign. This includes the cities, their positions, the general geography, the nobles houses.

The characters are unique to the seed of your campaign. Some maps are better than others, but seeds are unique and can be shared (phrasing, I know), which the community does, some maps are even renowned as the best. Randomness is quite present in the game, as I said, the world you will roam is in fact, random. The contracts are too, their difficulty is not though and can easily be predicted by reading them, the events you face, like the shown above, are random.

Those events spice up the monotony of fulfilling contracts and are dynamic too, you have to take decisions which have consequences on your bros. They can even take part in them, depending on their background, you will be able to ask them to help or give them orders to solve the problem, or make it worse for everyone involved.

You meet weirdos along the road quite often

Those random events are not the only things to disrupt your routine, a special event will happen after around a 100 days, your world will be torn apart by a crisis, a war between nobles, an undead scourge or an invasion of greenskins. This will test your Company as cities will be raided, well-equipped and bloodthirsty group of enemies will roam the land ready to slaughter anyone they meet. A late game crisis is a big deal, you will have to be well equipped to survive it.

In the end, everyone dies

RNG does not bother me, it can add a lot of hours of fun to a game, but here, I am not sure it serves the game as best as it could. After my third run, I realized I wasn’t reading the prompts anymore, I was skimming through them, looking only at the highlighted text of my character’s answers and the last paragraph. Maybe it is because I am not the targeted audience or focused enough, but I do not see the point of randomizing the characters you make contracts with, or meet. It is a minor complaint, but, the lack of familiarity in every new campaign makes the random events more boring to me. The characters are not important, only their role is and this makes reading through the same discussions you have with them pointless very quickly. It is still a good game that I will keep playing through the coming months, but in short bursts, just for the battle system and my bros.

As brothers!

After playing Battle Brothers for weeks, I think the game will feel slightly over priced for what it is to many players. If you are not a tactical player, it will probably be hit or miss to you, the battle system is the heart of it, and loving it, is a prerequisite, being okay with dying, is too. The game knows its audience and caters quite well to them, as the fostering community it accumulated throughout its development shows. I would buy it with a discount, or right now to support Overhype Studios, which I did, to help them add all the content they had to cut by lack of resources: more events, more backstories and even women. I even got the soundtrack by BreakdownEpiphanies with it, which I love. If Battle Brothers looks like the new messiah to you, you can buy the Supporter Edition, you will help the devs immensely as they seem short on money to expand the game, you will even get a digital art book and lore book.

Battle Brothers is approved by The Bear!