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Video Game / Battle Brothers

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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 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.

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, is slated for a release on May 9th 2019 and is set to add 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.

This game has examples of the following tropes:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Be prepared to hardly break even on most of your contracts thanks to the cost of all of your supplies and gear.
  • Adventure-Friendly World: A positive of the Crapsack World is that you're probably not running out of work any time soon.
  • All Webbed Up: One of the annoying issues when dealing with webknechts.
  • Anyone Can Die: The game's Roguelike nature means that your soldiers can die at any point of your adventure, and yes, they can never come back... barring resurrection by Necromancer, which you really don't want.
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  • Awesome, but Impractical: Most orc weapons are huge, do massive damage, and can hardly be held by your average human due to sheer size, a nasty case of Reality Ensues.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Certain attacks can ignore armor or aim for the head of an enemy.
  • An Axe to Grind: Axes are generally better than swords and cleavers at breaking through armor, are normally used to destroy enemy shields, and come in one-handed and two-handed variants.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: Trading can be a source of income, though is normally only a supplement to your other work.
  • Annoying Arrows: Certain heavily armored or shieldwalled enemies treat them like this. Battleforged brothers with heavy armor do as well. Otherwise Averted like hell, especially where poorly armored troops are involved, or Goblins, or both! A highly skilled archer can butcher entire groups on their own and a team of them is a practical necessary during the late game...if you have RNG on your side that is. Crossbows are dangerous enough in untrained hands, but a skilled archer with a good bow is murderous.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted. 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.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: Banditry is exceptionally common in such a bleak world making up a majority of lower level contracts, and the player themselves, if played more like a bunch of reavers instead of proper mercenaries, can practically be this.
    • You can create a world-beating mercenary company from simple 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.
  • 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 emphasised by "Companion" background.
  • 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 Viking-esque barbarians 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 life difficult.
  • Being Evil Sucks: While the player normally does some pretty questionable things to get by, 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.
  • 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 armour 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, which is easier said then done, considering their guarded by a horde of powerful Greenskin Warriors.
    • 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.
  • 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 luck. 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.
  • 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.
  • Faction Calculus:
    • Humans: Balanced.
    • Orcs: Powerhouse.
    • Goblins: Subversive.
    • Undead: Horde. Ancient Dead are a Powerhouse.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Ancient Dead's former empire is based on Roman Empire with Egyptian trappings; in addition, the auxiliaries are based on Germanic and Celtic tribes. The present world is also quite heavily German-based (and, to a lesser degree, Celtic), what with the use of round shields, typically "Germanic" armor styles, nearly all location names (which are given in correct German, to boot) and several enemies such as Wiedergänger, Nachzehrer and Lindwurms (or Lindwürmer, to use the correct plural) being named in German outright. It also shows up in the names of your mercenaries, the vast majority of which are of German origin. note  Not surprising, since the indie development team is from Germany.
  • Fantastic Drug: Berserker mushrooms, normally used by orcs, can be ingested by your brothers to improve their fighting skills.
  • 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.
  • 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 1 handed sword that hits harder than the usual ones you have and on top of it summons lightning strikes on up to 3 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.
  • 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.
  • Off with His Head!: Bladed weapons like swords and axes can behead an unit. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Trolls Are Different: Unholds giant monsters than regenerate each turn, make a hole in your formation by throwing a guy out of it, and throw a mean punch 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: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Each weapon does more damage to certain types of enemies
    • unarmored- swords, pike, spear, bow, flail, mace, cleaver
    • armored- hammers, bills, javelins, crossbow, daggers(they can damage hp directly with a skill)
    • mixed- axes
  • The Horde: The Greenskins.
  • Warrior Monk: Regular, non-warrior monks can be recruited and quickly converted into regular warriors. A bit of Artistic License – History comes up with those, as the in-game description of the "monk" background states that while they are driven men used to dedication in the face of hardship, they have no experience at war or physical labor. The former is historically true, the latter not so much, as many monasteries historically were self-sufficient and thus grew their own agricultural produce and manufactured their own tools, and occasionally even sold both to neighboring communities. A common phrase especially in Catholic monastic thinking was ora et labora ("pray and work"), which wasn't chosen for nothing. With the setting being otherwise very closely based on medieval Europe, this is a bit weird.
  • When Trees Attack: Schrats
  • 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.


Example of: