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Do you have what it takes to lead them through bloody battles and to victory?
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Battle Brothers is a medieval Roguelike turn-based strategy game, best described as an unholy fusion of XCOM, and Mount & Blade, with a healthy heaping of Warhammer Fantasy (or perhaps more accurately, Mordheim) thrown into the mix. Taking the role of the leader of a mercenary company down on its luck, your goal is not to save the world or fight for good but to do anything you can to stay alive, keep your company afloat and your coffers full. Taking place in a Crapsack World, the game will put you up against bands of Greenskins, bandits, a variety of different undead, robber barons, and countless variety of monsters, the answer is not 'when will everything go wrong', it's 'how'.

Battle Brothers was released on March 24, 2017, for Windows on Steam, and the Humble Store after an early access release on April 27, 2015.

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A major Expansion Pack, Beasts and Exploration, was announced on August 3rd, which adds a slew of new content, including a host of new monsters, weapons, armor, events and mechanics to the game.

Another expansion, Warriors of the North, was released on May 9th 2019 and added a new barbarian faction, along with a slew of new starting scenarios for your mercenary company, as well as Nordic-themed banners and icons and new events, contracts and legendary locations and bosses.

The third expansion, Blazing Deserts, was released on August 14th 2020, adding a southern desert setting with Middle Eastern inspirations, three new starting scenarios focused in the south, and a whole slew of new weapons and mechanics, including primitive grenades and firearms, and an arena building available in some southern cities where you can send company brothers to fight against beasts or gladiators for the entertainment of the masses and earn cash.

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This game has examples of the following tropes:

  • Adventure-Friendly World: A positive of the Crapsack World is that you're probably not running out of work any time soon. Bandits, barbarians, monsters and more are all in constant supply.
  • All Webbed Up: One of the annoying issues when dealing with webknechts [1].
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: Trading can be a source of income, though is normally only a supplement to your other work. Settlements produce specific resources according to what production buildings (vineyards, lumber mills, fur trappers, etc.) are in their vicinity, and you can buy trade goods on the cheap in villages that have such buildings and sell them at a profit in the cities depending on the market. In-game prices fluctuate naturally, with events occurring in the settlement (such as disappearing villagers due to monsters) affecting them further. The southern city-states added in the Blazing Deserts DLC produce different goods such as silk, incense, and/or spices. The goods from the North and the South will sell for considerable more in the opposite regions.
    • The Trading Caravan origin allowed you to play a more trade focused game. You'll get bonuses to your buying at selling prices, although you generally won't be as effective of a mercenary.
  • Annoying Arrows: Mostly averted. Shields and heavy armor help considerably, but even then a crossbow can always be pretty devastating. Poorly armored troops are incredibly vulnerable to arrows. A highly skilled archer can butcher entire groups on their own. Crossbows are dangerous enough in untrained hands, but a skilled archer with a good bow is murderous.
    • On top of their physical lethality, bows and crossbows can also have crucial morale effects, as seeing their comrades getting killed tends to be very bad for morale and carries various combat penalties. Shooting an enemy down before the lines even collide can prove very advantageous in the inevitable melee, particularly with lower-tier enemies who can be ready to break after just a few turns of combat.
  • Anyone Can Die: Can and will. It's not at all uncommon for a new recruit to die without ever having finished a battle. This is not a game where you should get overly attached to your men, and you should never put any one brother's life ahead of the squad. Sometimes you'll need to sacrifice a brother or otherwise allow one to fall victim to fickle RNG to win. It is even possible to lose one of your starting companions in the tutorial!
    • There are a few origins (namely the Lone Wolf and Gladiators) where your starting units will result in a game over, however.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted, absolutely. Armor is usually the difference between life and death, with most attacks striking your armor's "health" before cutting through to the flesh (which takes longer and is more expensive to heal than armor is to repair). Basic clothing offers some protection, but the difference between a basic tunic and the most basic padded armor is vastly reduced healing and replacement recruiting costs. Unarmored units fighting against those with good armor often feels downright unfair.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Daggers can pierce through enemy's armor and deal direct damage to the enemy, at the cost of accuracy. It is very useful for killing a target that has really good armor since it is more likely to be looted if it is not damaged.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: Banditry is exceptionally common in such a bleak world. Fighting some variety of bandits is one of the most common lower level contracts. The player can also recruit less savory members (which will sometimes trigger events where bounty hunters will come looking for said men. You can also run the mercenary company this way, preferring loot and pillage rather than taking contracts.
    • In the end your world-beating mercenary company will often consist primarily of woodcutters, fishermen, farmhands, homeless wretches, beggars, killers on the run and even a man who was going to be tarred and feathered by his neighbours for fornicating with a melon.
  • Appeal to Force: The player can use this in certain events, threatening compliance by sword and shield. Others will certainly try to do the same to you in some instances.
  • Attack Animal: You can buy and deploy dogs to fight in the battlefield. The dogs are individually weak and will likely die due to low HP and armor, but are very useful in chasing fleeing enemies or locking down some dangerous foes. They're relatively cheap to buy and keep around, and don't get stronger over time like Brothers do, so they are very expendable.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Daggers have the Puncture ability, allowing you to completely bypass enemy armour and directly damage their HP. Using this ability on heavily-armoured enemies is a great way to get high-end armour for free. Many other weapons also have some variety of this, aiming for the head or a similar weak point at the cost of accuracy or extra stamina.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Most orc weapons are huge, do massive damage, and can hardly be held by your average human due to sheer size. They deal comparable damage to higher-tier swords, axes, and cleavers, but they also impose a huge fatigue penalty on the brother wielding them.
    • The rather crude barbarian weapons impose similar penalties, being unwieldy and fatigue-inducing for worse average damage than regular weapons.
    • Some of the alchemical/gunpowder weapons can also fall into this category. Fire Lances, for instance, have the asme basic attacks as regular spears, but trade the Spear Wall ability for a once per battle special attack where they shoot a jet of fire, hitting two tiles in a row. It's almost certainly weaker than the Spear Wall ability.
  • An Axe to Grind: Axes are generally better than swords and cleavers at breaking through armor, are have the ability to destroy enemy shields, and come in one-handed and two-handed variants.
  • Badass Army: Your companions can turn into this later in the game, taking on armies of the world's worst and coming out on top.
  • Band of Brothers: Your starting companions from the beginning counts as this trope, even emphasized by "Companion" background.
  • Battle Thralls / Slave Mooks: Southern Indebted (slaves/indentured servants/bondsmen) can be available to "hire" (buy; once you pay the up-front cost for them, they do not receive daily wages) in any southern city-state in the Blazing Deserts DLC, and be turned into an effective combatant via hard-earned experience like any other lowborn you take on into your company—or be used as an expendable meat-shield, should you want to do so. One new starting scenario in the DLC allows you to take a large mass of Indebted into battle along with a few freemen overseers, who can whip the slaves to motivate them and reset their morale. On a slightly brighter note, any Indebted who you allow to leave the company are explicitly stated to have been given their freedom.
  • Battle Trophy: With the Beasts and Exploration DLC, you can use those parts from monsters you killed to make goodies to improve the prowess of your company.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The barbarian raiders added in Warriors of the North. The "Northern Raiders" scenario gives you command of a small war party of barbarian warriors - they are adept fighters and have increased loot from slain enemies, but the reputation malus you have might make dealing with the civilized human factions of the south difficult. Culturally, they are heavily inspired by Viking Age Scandinavia with some Iron-age tribalism thrown in (see Fantasy Counterpart Culture for more details).
  • Being Evil Sucks: While the player is generally not exactly a paragon of virtue, falling into full-on banditry will make it almost impossible to run the company, as the various well armed and well trained military patrols will quickly hunt you down and put an end to you (just like you used to do). Even if you fight them off, your inability to resupply properly at towns (that now hate you) will doom you.
    • The way the "barbarian raiders" start is set up heavily encourages you to play like a reaver however. Two factions on the map already hate you, and you gain more loot from any battles against humans. Raiding trade caravans can be a mighty lucrative alternative to contracts and trading, as long as you don't overly piss off the nobles...
  • BFS: Two-handed swords are very expensive in shops, very difficult to find as loot and have prohibitively high fatigue costs. They also have some of the highest raw damage potential of any weapon in the game, especially the mighty Greatsword used by Zweihander troops and some Hedge Knights. Barbarians also use a unique weapon called the Rusty Warblade, a massively broad two-handed cleaver that devastates flesh and metal alike. The southern city-states produce curved versions that count as cleavers rather than swords.
  • Blade on a Stick: Spears are perhaps the most common weapon in the game and the mainstay of a beginning warband. Two handed pole arms, like bill hook and pikes, also counts as one. Generally very powerful if used defensively and in the early game, but they really suffer from their lack of armor piercing and lower attack later on in the game.
    • On the other hand, one-handed spears offer the advantage of carrying a shield (and the shieldwall ability as a result), while also having a decent chance to pierce enemies through armor as well, making their utility throughout the game fairly stable. On top of that, long polearms can attack from two hexes away, preventing enemy counterattacks, and enabling a shieldwall to focus on defense while a few soldiers poke the enemies to death.
  • Black Comedy: The player's dialogue is normally chock full of this, as is the variety of events that occur in your travels.
  • Breather Episode: In between all the vicious fighting and murder, you sometimes get a contract to escort a caravan from one town to another. These trips are self-guided as your company follows the caravan, and while you can get attacked by bandits, if you've been active in the area recently, the chances are low. These missions are a welcome relief when you need to take time to heal and repair your gear, but still need to keep making money.
    • Though to hammer home how hard this game can be, you can accept what seems like a gentle stroll with a caravan and then wind up bumping into the Lindwurm. Not so awesome now, huh?
    • Arena fights in the Blazing Deserts DLC can also be this. While this will always involve combat, the arena will always let you know who/what you're fighting against, and will only pit three company brothers against a limited number of opponents. If you've got injured men on the roster, need money, but don't want to risk facing unknown foes in a contract, you can send three uninjured men into the arena and keep the cash flow going from the winnings. That said, all arena fights are to the death, so if things go sideways you can easily lose all three men you sent into the arena.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Most players swear in the early game by spears and shields. Even if their damage and performance against armour are not so great, spears give your brothers a nice +20% to hit chance (which they will need, surely) and the very useful Spearwall ability, which can often net you 2-3 free attacks as the enemy is trying (and often failing) to get through. As an extra plus, shields allow the use of the Shieldwall ability which not only gives a big defence boost for the brother who uses it, but confers an additional smaller bonus to any brothers standing next to them also using the ability. Using the two abilities together can create a near-unbeatable defence until archers and heavy weapons come into play in mid-game. And the best thing about spears? Lowly Brigand Thugs very commonly carry them.
    • Surrounding a Knight or Brigand Leader or other heavily-armoured enemy with brothers armed with daggers and simply Puncturing them over and over until they die is a fantastic way to get high-end armour for free. And if you take the Dagger Mastery perk, you will be able to stab enemies three times in one turn as they will have a lower AP cost to use compared to other weapons.
    • Along with daggers, the unassuming wooden stick also makes a great secondary weapon. Wooden sticks have about the same damage potential as daggers, but they are much better against armour, and they have an ability that lets you stun enemies, forcing them to forgo a turn.
    • Nets are very often overlooked, great for crowd control and isolating powerful enemies, leaving them unable to move or properly defend themselves while you swing away at them. They are especially effective against Orcs, enemies that will destroy you quickly if you allow them to run rampant.
  • Botanical Abomination: The Schrat is absolutely this. Described as a mythical treant with an utterly alien morality, they're said to stalk the woods to strangle and choke the life out of misbehaving children. As if that description enough wasn't Nightmare Fuel, they're also a pain in the ass to fight.
  • Burn the Witch!: A random event can involve a woman being tied to a bonfire and you can choose to free her or let her burn. Freeing her will net you some morale boost but some of your mercenaries may get hurt. An extra option involves some of your mercenaries depending on their backstory like one letting her burn if they are are Witch Hunter or a Monk, or free her if one of you mercenaries was a Cultist.
  • Call That a Formation?: Averted, keeping your unit in formation is important. Going out in movie-style combat (i.e- charging into the fray) will get your unit massacred from having no support and exhaust them quickly from initial attack. In addition, getting surrounded is one of the worst effects on morale in the game, with the effect getting exponentially worst for every enemy around a unit.
    • Subverted with two-handed users who have AOE skills that lets them take down multiple foes and cause morale failure for the enemy if several enemies are struck down in a single blow. In additions, skills like Breakthrough (Exclusive to Orcs), Lone Wolf and Underdog means they deliberately want to be facing their enemies alone so they can decimate a vulnerable flank.
  • Charm Person: One of the signature attacks from the hexen, they can for several turns make one of your brothers turn against you. Hope the one they charmed isn't your best warrior.
  • Crapsack World: Played straight. Entire setting is Medieval European Fantasy complete with Orc marauders accompanied by Goblins, assortments of Undead, bickering nobility, and occasional banditry and "grave robbers". The first three elements being part of Late Game Crisis (respectively Greenskin Invasion, Undead Arising, and War), where the players can profit in, also add a topping on the bleak setting. Blazing Deserts adds a new Crisis event, a Holy War between northern and southern factions.
    • Even then it makes no pretense that mercenary work while profitable has very little if any glory for the sellswords and recruits, the nobility often could care less about your successes and don't even truly acknowledge you. The Old Witch in the Witch's hut will tell you that when you ask about the False King.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted. Most characters can suffer from injuries if they receive a lot of damage from a single hit, which worsen stats and persist for a few days after a battle
    • In addition, a character lowered to 0 HP may survive the hit, though incapacitated by it. Afterwards, they will receive a permanent injury, which can't be removed at all
    • And even if they're immune to injuries (Usually animals and monsters), they can usually suffer from morale loss after getting hit, which worsens their abilities and eventually results in fleeing.
  • Chromosome Casting: There are no Battle Sisters. All recruits are male. Averted in the Legends rework mod which, amongst many other things, add female recruits. One start in Legends even allows you create a dedicated Amazon Brigade that can only recruit women.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: If you wish, you have plenty of opportunities to betray your employers. Most people even expect you to. There's even an achievement for doing so!
  • Combat by Champion: During a contract to drive away a nearby barbarian camp, there is a chance one of the Chosen from the camp will issue out a personal challenge to the company, and you can send one of your brothers to fight him. If your guy wins, the barbarians agree to leave peacefully and the contract is finished. If you lose, you can then choose to leave the barbarians be (failing the contract but gaining substantial reputation) or raze the place (settling the contract and getting paid, but losing reputation).
  • Combat Pragmatist: Naturally as such a difficult game, you should never apologise for fighting dirty whenever you can. Attack dogs, fishing nets, poisoned weapons and arrowheads, surrounding and attacking one poor bastard four-on-one... Hell, goblins are this trope.
  • Continuing is Painful: Even if you win some battles, you'll often leave it just as bad, if not worse, than when you started the game. This is an expected occurrence, such that the tutorial of the game specifically teaches you how to start from scratch.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: The noble houses generally use the same troops but wearing different heraldry.
  • Culture Clash: As of the Blazing Deserts DLC, if you have both northern and southern brothers in your company, this can occur as occasional random events on the road, with brawls erupting over religious and cultural differences—northern polytheism vs. southern monotheism, northern monogamy vs. southern polygamy, and so on, leaving the participants bloodied and potentially with temporary injuries. The captain will always react with an exasperated "Can't we all just get along?"
  • Dark Fantasy: High mortality, monsters everywhere, nobles more interested in their own goals than the lives of the citizens, and the only magic that exists is vile necromancy. Your best hope is not to make the world a better place, but just to retire with enough money and fame to live comfortably.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The player character.
  • Deal with the Devil: The last ruler of the ancient Empire made a deal with someone only known as the 'Ugly Man' after his child was born stillborn. If he gave the child and paid the price, the Empire would never die and he and his wife would rule eternal. The price was his wife became barren, and the Empire and its legions an undead army.
    • Some contracts will have you working for folk who've struck a bargain with Hexen with promises of their firstborn. Naturally, you'll have to fight the Hexe(n) and any familiars because said schmuck wants to get out of the deal.
    • The player can get in on this as well if one picks the Davkul Cultists origin.
  • Decapitated Army:
    • How the game starts: you serve as the second in command of a mercenary company, where the leader is killed in the first turn of combat (before you get control). You don't succeed at the contract, so much as you fail to lose, because your target runs away, but when the battle is over, you're left in charge of the (three-man) company by virtue of being the ranking officer. According to the tutorial dialogue, the company has fallen a long way before the start of the game.
    • The only way to defeat the Greenskin invasion is to slay the warchief heading it, which is easier said then done, considering the warchief is 600 pounds of sociopathic muscle guarded by a horde of powerful greenskin warriors who are almost as big and mean as he is.
    • When fighting undead, if a necromancer is present then he will continually raise more soldiers until killed.
  • Dem Bones: Legions of Undead skeleton warriors are one of the major enemies in the game, haunting the forgotten places of the world.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Most of your gear is scavenged from your fallen foes and repaired at the end of the day. This means that if you're able to ambush a group of well-armed soldiers (brigands or otherwise), and you survive the resulting combat against foes equipped with superior gear, you can save a lot of money on upgrading your troops to better gear. It is strongly recommended to have a full company of experienced troops before you try it, though.
  • Dirty Business: Generally the entire modus operandi of your mercenary company. Nobody thinks "murdering for money" is a particularly glorious occupation, but everyone needs sellswords for one thing or another. Many events make it clear that the people of the towns really don't like it when your company passes through, even if you have a good reputation with them.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: It is quite clear that mercenary life while profitable is not a respected profession, at best you are treated as fodder for the nobility and made unwelcome in their eyes. At worst, you are living from contract to contract, barely able to make ends meet and one bad contract away from death.
  • Early Game Hell: This game does not pull its punches. You start with a fair amount of money, but building up the company will quickly use most of it up in recruitment costs and gear. The recruits that you can afford to hire are usually not fit for the job, being fishermen, farmers, messengers, or even beggars. The gear that you can afford to buy is usually little better than sharpened sticks or repurposed lumberjack axes, or thick shirts and poorly stitched leather hats. Combat is lethal, with an unlucky hit capable of killing even the few veterans you have in one shot, much less your recruits. Early missions pay only enough for you to maintain, with a very small amount left over for upgrades, if you're lucky. Once you're out of the early game, have some experienced soldiers with better gear, and start getting better paying jobs, you're in a somewhat better position, but a single bad mission can put you back to square one.
    • Each of the new starts introduced in Warriors of the North has a specific form of Early Game Hell:
      • The Peasant Militia starts you with a lot of badly armed peasants. Losses aren't quite as severe ("Dietrich got his skull caved in with a flail? Ahh well, there's more where that came from!") which means your food costs are high from the get-go, and can never hire anyone that isn't a lowborn peasant which means some of the best recruits are completely unavailable.
      • The Band of Poachers starts with three trained woodsmen, characters who are light on their feet but all specialized as archers (so as soon as melee starts, you'll be outclassed), and can't carry as much stuff, which reduces trading opportunities.
      • The Trading Caravan starts with zero renown, which means contracts will be low-paying bottom feeder contracts, and gains renown at half the normal rate, which means you'll be stuck with those contracts for a while. Also, the pair of caravan hands you start with aren't the best fighters.
      • The Beast Slayers give you a trio of competent monster slayers. They have good gear, get more drops from monsters and can track things well, but due to the social stigma they face from the rest of society (a la The Witcher) everyone charges you 10% more for everything, which adds up very quickly until you can get some decent cashflow going.
      • The Deserters start with less money and also have a noble house out to kill them, meaning they could get attacked any time they're close to a specific noble house's territory.
      • The Cultists have to randomly sacrifice stuff to Davkul, either money, items or... their own. And Davkul doesn't care if you're just getting started and don't have a lot to sacrifice at the moment.
      • The Northern Raiders start with three barbarian warriors and a monk. Most human factions hate or at least dislike the barbarians, which means fewer contracts and less pay, not to mention higher costs in shops.
      • And finally, the Lone Wolf starts with just... himself - a well-armed, well-armoured knight. And that's it. He can almost handle a lot of early contracts on his own (Truth in Television - armoured knights really were able to fight whole bands of men by themselves and emerge unscathed) but he also starts with less money and his high armor repair costs in terms of tools and time are excessive. Oh, and most crucially of all he is your Player Character, so if he dies then the game is over.
      • Blazing Deserts adds the Manhunters and Gladiators Origin. The Manhunters origin gives you access to a slave master and several indebted and the ability to whip them to a frenzy, however the number of Indebted cannot be outnumbered by non indebted and is locked to level 7. Locking them out of valuable Perks. While Gladiator Origins offers more elite fighters, you are still hardcapped at 12 party members, limiting your auxiliary line to only 9 men at best with all of them being high maintenance unlike the Lone Wolf and demand food variety, higher pay costs and being in a good mood and will leave unlike the Lone Wolf. Like Lone wolf, losing all three ends your campaign.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The player character is only referred to by his men as 'Captain'.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Necromancers raising the dead isn't uncommon, and killing them a frequent task.
  • Expy: You can easily tell that Warhammer was a big inspiration for the developers. The game is set in a more low-tech version of the Empire of Man with all the same Germanic trappings (they even have witch-hunters). Life is short and brutal and there are enemies everywhere, like the crude and violent Greenskins that lurk in the forgotten wilderness, the savage and war-loving barbarian men of the north (Norsca), the undead zombies together with the vampires (Vampire Counts) and the skeletal remnants of an ancient empire that isn't quite ready to fade away into history (Tomb Kings).
  • Faction Calculus:
    • Northern Houses: Balanced. The noble houses employ fighting men with an assortment of weapons and armour, just like you; whether you face brigands or professional noble troops, you will see a row of men with hand weapons and shields, with pikemen behind to reach out and archers or crossbowmen to soften up before the clash.
    • Southern States: Subversive. The southern city-states employ troops with equipment on-par with the northerners, but also many exotic units like Indebted (naked slave soldiers with minimal weaponry, rely on sheer numbers to win), Assassins (nimble troops with high attack and low armour), gunpowder troops and mortar artillery. However as a consequence of fighting in their desert home, heavy armour is less prevalent among their troops.
    • Orcs: Powerhouse. With their massive weapons and thick armour, Orcs are very hard to bring down, but armour-piercing weapons and skirmishers can exact a heavy toll. They usually fight as berserkers with little regard for good tactics.
    • Goblins: Subversive. Goblins are weak fighters; they employ poison, netting and sharpshooter tactics to bring their enemies down to their level. In melee they are weak, but crafty and hard to hit.
    • Undead: Horde. Not particularly dangerous alone (though they hardly ever are), the trouble with the dead is they keep getting back up after you knock them down, and worse, any of your fallen brothers have a good chance of doing so as well. Ancient Dead are a Powerhouse; a row of heavily-armoured shield bearers with pikemen behind, they are unstoppable as long as the tight formation holds.
    • Barbarians: Cannons. They rarely have armour or shields (barring the odd elite), but forgoing this protection gives them a high initiative and, combined with their Adrenaline and Barbarian Rotation perks, a lot of mobility too. For what barbarian weapons lack in subtlety they make for in sheer heft, and they are often wielded two-handed.
  • Fantastic Drug: Berserker mushrooms, normally used by orcs, can be ingested by your brothers to improve their fighting skills. Frequent use may cause a brother to develop an addiction, however.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • It's strongly implied throughout the game that the setting takes place in an Expy of the Holy Roman Empire, which makes sense given how Overhype Studios is based within Germany. Ruled by a privileged collection of incredibly powerful and influential noble houses that vie for dominance of the game map, the lack of distinct kingdoms as opposed to noble houses was definitely not unlike how the Holy Roman Empire was less an absolute kingdom and more of a loosely-allied confederation of city-states that let the nobility vote on whom the ruling regent should be. This is in addition to the regular contests of power held between the Germanic counterparts and their northernly raiding neighbors (just like the rivalry between the Holy Roman Empire and Scandinavia). In addition, the setting has typically "Germanic" armor styles, with nearly all location names and several enemies such as Wiedergänger, Nachzehrer and Lindwurms (or Lindwürmer, to use the correct plural) being named in grammatically-correct German. It also shows up within the names of your mercenaries, of whom the vast majority are named of German origin. As an interesting side note, the setting is, to a lesser degree, strongly Celtic inspired, what with the usage of round shields and tribal tattoos to complement the largely Germanic setting.
    • Speaking of, the Ancient Dead's former empire is heavily based on Roman Empire with Egyptian mummy trappings; in addition to the implications held of such a cultural mix, the auxiliaries within the empire are based around the Germanic and Celtic tribes like the ones the real Roman Empire has conquered and absorbed.
    • The Barbarian Tribes encompassing most of the northern area of the map are also heavily inspired by the Scandinavian viking raiders of the Low Middle Ages, though with a much more tribal and, well, barbaric culture more befitting of Iron Age Scandinavia. Inhabiting the coldest and most northern climes of the map, the Warriors of North expansion pack even adds two new banners with a distinctly Nordic theme to it. Interestingly enough though, one of the banners introduced is actually inspired by the Kievan Rus', implying the extent of the barbarian kingdoms go beyond equivalence to just Scandinavia.
    • The upcoming "Blazing Deserts" DLC plans to add a brand new southern faction with Arabic and Persian trappings.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Played straight mostly, but the Blazing Deserts DLC averts this by adding some very primitive gunpowder implements. Fire lances are spears that can blast enemies two ranks deep once per battle with an attached powder charge, and handgonnes are early-style hand cannons that shoot like shotguns and are very slow to reload.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The legions of the Ancient Dead will take a special interest in the Captain in the first skirmishes, pointing him out in battle and declaring that the "False King must die", and that the "Empire shall rise again". It is heavily implied that the Captain is a descendant of the ancient royalty who rebelled and tore down the Empire long ago.
    • Various characters will mention that the Greenskins once nearly wiped out civilisation and were only stopped in a massive war that cost many, many lives, and brothers who were veterans of the conflict can be recruited. Many find it odd that Orc raiders are suddenly returning to harry civilisation.
  • Giant Spider: Webknechts.
  • The Horde: The Greenskins and the Ancient Dead. A particularly large barbarian warband might also qualify.
  • Horrifying the Horror: There's a random event where your company comes across a young alp, one of the possible choices is to send a flagellant brother to scare it off, he accomplishes this by whipping himself while staring it down until it flees in terror.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: The Kraken is one of the late game things you can attempt to fight, although there is a few things you have to do before you can summon it.
  • Legendary Weapon: If you're determined and badass enough, you can get Reproach of the Old Gods. A one-handed sword that hits harder than the usual ones you have and on top of it summons lightning strikes on up to three nearby enemies.
  • Low Fantasy: As the Word of God from this post, your focus in the game is about "managing a group of human mercenaries in a low power fantasy world". This statement was emphasized by the low presence of magic (exceptions include Goblins and Undead) and focusing on mundane military tactics.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: One of many important equipments in the game, the shields come in many varieties and provide better protections. Also, the game also averts Call That a Formation? with the viability of forming a defensive line based on Shield Wall ability.
  • Master Swordsman: You can recruit old sword masters to your company. More importantly, you can make a master swordsman, by building up a recruit that specializes in the use of bladed weapons.
  • Medieval Morons: The infamous "Melon Thief" event.
  • Mêlée à Trois: If you're being chased by a stack of whatever, you can lure them to an enemy camp and start a 3 way between them, your brothers, and whoever occupies the camp.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • A child in a tree can ask the company to help him get a ball off the roof of a nearby building. You can send one of your brothers to do it, but there is a chance the idiot will decide to throw it at the child, who will then fall off the tree and break his back to the horror of everyone. Your character even asks him what the hell he was thinking.
    • It is entirely possible the only reason the dead are haunting the lands and trying to destroy all of mankind is because you went around looting their tombs while being descended from their arch enemy.
  • Non-Action Guy: The player character never personally participates in combat encounters (despite presumably being a seasoned mercenary) due to the wound he got in the prologue battle.
    • As of the Warriors Of The North expansion, averted with the "Lone Wolf" company origin, in which you start out with one single high-leveled and well-armed (but nearly broke) hedge knight who explicitly is the player's avatar. Even if you hire more men, this character will remain on the field and be able to participate in battle, but if he -i.e. "you" - dies, the campaign is instantly over. It also doesn't take into account the fact that your avatar is a character in the company: you can still get events that have the avatar talking to the captain of the company, even though he IS the captain.
  • Non Standard Game Over: The player can retire at any time, and will get a variety of endings anywhere from living in luxury to freezing in the basement of a tavern, homeless.
  • Not Afraid to Die: This is why Barbarians have such high Resolve compared to other human enemies. In their culture it is believed that dying in battle means they get to meet and revel with their heroic ancestors for all eternity.
  • Off with His Head!: Bladed weapons like swords and axes can behead an unit; cleaver-type weapons (barring whips) even have a specific skill that increases the chance of this happening. Beheading can be detrimental to you as it means your units will stay dead and not have a chance of surviving the battle with a permanent penalty. On the upside, landing a beheading hit on a human enemy whose armor was relatively intact beforehand may allow you to loot the armor post-battle, and beheaded wiedergangers (barring Fallen Heroes, who'll come back as headless Fallen Heroes) cannot be resurrected.
  • Old Soldier: Old veterans from the last war with the Greenskins can be recruited, complete with him telling your other brothers war stories around the campfire.
  • Organ Drops: some of the "Trophies" droped by monsters are this. Lampshaded by flavour text for Nachzehrer Brain.
    The greasy brain of a slain Nachzehrer. What could you possibly want with this?
    • Another specific example deserving of mention is the heart of an Unhold, which can be combined with wine to produce Fermented Unhold Heart, which can then be eaten by your men. It has the longest time-to-spoil of any provisions in the game (20 days).
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Lindwurm DLC brings the titular wingless dragon that is the only unit that used two tiles (representing head and tails). Furthermore, its tail can swath away anyone in the back while the head can bite a man in half. Finally, its corrosive blood can dissolve through armor but can be collected in vials to be used as weapons.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Nachzehrer note , a type of ghoulish creature that likes to eat corpses. They'll often do this when battling your company, eating either their own dead or yours and growing bigger and bigger and more powerful as they do so. At their biggest extent they can swallow one of your men whole, and if you fail to kill the creature your comrade will die in its stomach.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Battle Brothers Orcs are basically Expies of the Greenskins from Warhammer - big, green, nasty to face in close combat, and possessing little in the way of culture beyond Might Makes Right and War for Fun and Profit. Orcs in battle are simple but devastating - you have a green tide of younger Orcs (usually armed with hardly anything) charging head-on to wear the enemy down, Orc berserkers with little armour but a lot of fury tearing into the flanks, and a big warlord clad head-to-toe in heavy armour standing in the back, bellowing out orders.
  • Our Trolls Are Different: Unholds are giant monsters that regenerate each turn, make a hole in your formation by throwing a guy out of it, and throw a mean punch capable of hitting multiple people when they're surrounded. Comes in 2 flavors: the weaker swamp version and the stronger winter yeti like ones.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Necrosavants fulfill the role of both vampire and mummy. The vampire part comes in its ability to move across the battlefield, virtually reaching anyone on practically the first turn, making it impossible to pin them down. They also suck blood. The mummy part comes in their appearance and their equipment, mainly khopeshes.
  • Permanently Missable Content: If the "Permanent Destruction" option is enabled, settlements destroyed during the undead or orc crisis will never be inhabited again.
  • Private Military Contractors: The player has to manage this through contracts and battles.
  • Quantity vs. Quality: Two of the new starting scenarios in Warriors of the North present this dichotomy:
    • "Peasant Militia" gives you twelve men to start, allows you to take up to sixteen into battle and allows you to maintain up to twenty five in the company. However the starting men are woefully equipped and you will never be able to hire nobles or professional troops, only lowborn dregs.
    • "Lone Wolf" gives you a single hedge knight to start with, who has great equipment and plenty of experience right off the bat. However, the company is limited to twelve men, and if the knight dies then the campaign is over.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The men you can hire are of a broad spectrum of backgrounds, ranging from adventurous nobles, disinherited noble sons, hedge knights and other blue-bloods, to professional soldiers and assassins, various tradesmen, and even refugees, cripples, and beggars. In terms of geographic origin, with all expansions installed, these people can range from a northern barbarian warrior to a southern caravan hand or nomad. For one reason or another all of these people are now trying to make it as sellswords. Excepting perhaps southern Indebted (basically slaves), who are all but stated to have been bought rather than hired, and may not necessarily be there by choice.
  • Rainbow Pimp Gear: Because most of your weapons and armor will be scavenged off the field from dead human opponents, this trope is in full effect for your company. Armor can be repainted in uniform colors of your choosing, but spending money on paints and the like is often not an option, especially early on. This can result in oddly mismatched armor rather representative of the motley crew you've assembled for your company.
    • The Blazing Deserts DLC makes this especially pronounced, as southern, Middle East-inspired armor styles and northern, European-styled ones can be mixed in any combination, worn by company brethren of either cultural background. This results in such sights as a northern hedge knight wearing a bucket great-helm over brassy southern plate lamellar, or a southern nomad archer wearing barbarian bear hats and furs.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • As previously noted, Orc weapons are big and gnarly and deal loads of damage, but your human mercenaries will find little use in them as they are ergonomically not designed for humans to lift and wield.
    • By far the most vital piece of gear for any mercenary, even more than the humble shield, is a good helmet. Even just a simple padded cap is much better than nothing. Helmets Are Hardly Heroic will just get your best man killed.
    • Most of the time, you will need to stay in formation to have a chance of getting out of a fight unscathed. Sending bros out to heroically charge the enemy will generally only result in them getting flanked and killed.
    • Fighters with two-handed weapons deal massive damage, but unless they have very high-end armor, they will get wrecked due to their lack of a shield, which was one of the reasons why in real life two handed weapons didn't become the mainstay of armies until advanced plate armors were developed.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: A best solution against the undead as they cannot raise back from the dead. However, Fallen Heroes can be resurrected, even if they are decapitated.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: Your company runs on rations, medical supplies, equipment to repair your gear, and most importantly, gold. Running out of any of these things can bring a variety of problems.
  • Royal Blood: Events imply the player character is descended from ancient royalty.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: When hiring a group of prostitutes on the road:
    She sidles up real close now and goes low with a hand.
    "Well then."
    Well then indeed.
  • Shout-Out: One of the fallen brothers in the opening battle is named One-Eye.
  • Slave Revolt: Southern cities can occasionally suffer from an Indebted uprising, and such cities will offer contracts for your company to put down the revolt. Resulting battles can end up seeing ten or so company brothers facing a mass of Indebted up to 20-24 strong, hence why these contracts tend to be marked "hard" by the game; fortunately, the rebelling slaves tend to have poor weapons, practically no armor, and bad morale.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Each weapon does more damage to certain types of enemies:
    • Unarmoured - Swords, pikes, spears, bows, flails, maces, cleavers.
    • Armoured - Hammers, bills, javelins, crossbows, daggers.
    • Mixed - Axes.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: If there's multiple brothers with the Gladiator background (from the Blazing Deserts DLC) there are random events showing them engaging in weightlifting competitions and form tests as they squat.
  • Token Heroic Orc: A random event gives you the possibility of recruiting a barbarian warrior. If you took the barbarian raiders starting scenario, the chances of this event triggering are increased, but any warband can get it.
  • Warrior Monk: Regular, non-warrior monks can be recruited and quickly converted into regular warriors.
  • When Trees Attack: Schrats
  • Whip It Good: Whips are "one-handed cleavers" that can hit enemies within 3 range and can either lash to deal damage and inflict bleeding or disarm an enemy for 1 turn. They are two whips: battle whips and thorned whips (which are used by barbarians).
  • Witch Species: Hard to say, but most assume the hexen are.
  • You Are in Command Now: The main player, The Captain, gained control over the mercenary company after the previous leader along, with many soldiers, were killed in an ambush. The tutorial battle is the waning aftermath, with the target of your contract running away and your few remaining soldiers cleaning up the remnants of the brigands. The rest of the tutorial is the determination of the company to continue on despite the setback, with the player taking and learning the reins of leadership as you go.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The dead find no rest in Battle Brothers, and bands of zombies will raid the countryside. And you may find the Ancient Dead rise to reclaim their old empire.

As brothers, we fight; as brothers, we die.
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