Battle Brothers survives gauntlet of early access

Sound the horns, ye scoundrels. Battle Brothers [official site], the turn-based strategy full of pointless deaths and bad decisions, has emerged from under the pile of corpses that litter the early access battlefield. After almost two years of mercenary mischief, the full release was today. If you’re not familiar with the man-hiring and hexagonal tile-based killing of the game, don’t fret. They’ve got a wee video to show you what’s what, which you’ll find down there.

I played some of it back in the day and found it to be a grand old romp. I haven’t played Jagged Alliance, from which it takes some inspiration, but I am a fan of the new age XCOMs and it goes in a similar direction. You take rustic farmer types and put them through the blistering grindstone of battle until they either become real warriors or die in some tragic altercation with a goblin swinging a fishing net around its head.

The hook here is that it’s all set in a “low fantasy” world of hard times and harder monsters. The world map is randomly generated and open to explore from the start. Each town will have quests and recruits, shops and inns. One of the features is that you can buy a round of ale for your men to raise their spirits, but the drink also lasts a while and might make them a bit useless in battle if you indulge your battalion too much.

What I remember most is the toughness though. There usually isn’t enough money to make up for all your faults – to buy new weapons or armour for everyone and still afford to pay them their wages, for example. Warriors die because they’re ill-equipped, unhappy fighters desert the company, frightened and bruised men run away in the middle of a fight. It’s a game about winning some battles and then losing the war, all because you spent too much money on an unreliable war dog.

Anyway, if that sounds like your cup of bloody tea, it’s on Steam now for £22.99/$29.99 or available straight from the developer.


  1. ButteringSundays says:

    I really enjoyed it for a dozen hours a few months back but held off going all-in until until it hits 1.0 – look forward to getting back to it! It’s a cracking turn based tactical team rpg thing.

    I didn’t find it that difficult though. You can’t treat it like xcom, your brothers are disposable. That’s key. And pick your battles or flee – there’s no scaling.

    • Detocroix says:

      Whoa! Your brothers are definitely not disposable. Losing couple of key brothers can force you to very low tier fighting. In XCOM you have basically endless amounts of troops and if you just train them fairly evenly, your losses won’t be horrifying… but in battle brothers, one of your brothers can basically carry whole army worth of gear (artifacts and plates, ooof)

      • Palindrome says:

        They are fairly disposable, you will lose a lot of brothers before you get a stable max level company. Some brothers are a lot more disposable than others though.

        Characters have different starting stats (and therefore max stats) and they also have a relatively randomised ‘learning ability’ in certain areas when they level up. These are influenced by their background but its not absolute (I have a suspiciously warlike and highly skilled tailor in my current playthrough)

        Additionally they can have certain traits (drunkard, intelligent, coward etc) which can alter the rules of the game slightly or add stat bonuses/maluses.

        This basically means that some recruits are a lot more valuable than others, even others with the same background.

        The holy grail is a Hedgeknight with +3 in melee attack, melee defence and fatigue with the Iron lungs trait.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        Well of course not all of your brothers will be disposable, but you can maintain ranks of fairly disposable brothers. They’re cheap to replace, and chuck a helmet and a shield on a newbie and they’re good to go.

        Editing to add that i last played in August (and it was for 26 hours, more addictive than i remember!)

  2. Iron Helmet Games says:

    I really love the look of this game. I can’t wait to have a weekend to get into it.

    • Captain Narol says:

      It’s strange, this game looks great and right up my alley of Turn-based-Tactics addict, but I can’t cope with the aesthical choice they made of only putting the head of each character on the map instead of the full body.

      I still don’t really understand why but it really makes feel uneasy and I’m gonna have to pass it by for that reason, while I would probably have enjoyed it with a more classical representation of your characters.

      My problem and my loss, I guess.

  3. Fumarole says:

    Game of the year for me by a large margin. It was an example of Early Access done right.

  4. Palindrome says:

    I have 193 hours in this game so that suggests that it is worth your money.

    Goblins are bastards, spears are a great early game weapon and stay well away from caravan missions…

  5. bramble says:

    This game is great and I hope it gets a proper WIT. Meaningful and interesting strategy layer, with a flawless and exciting tactical game. Upgrades matter, weapon choice matters, there are lots of different builds and tactics to try, yet poor planning or preparation will be harshly punished.

    • Aetylus says:

      Yup. Excellent game and from a small studio to boot. Give it some love… give it to Tim.

  6. mercyRPG says:

    Best addictive game I played since XCOM:EW Long War 1.0! Highly recommended!!!!

  7. Frank says:

    I had a lot of fun with the EA version (the battle-trade gameplay loop and RPG mechanics), but it was missing a lot of campaign elements. Hope they’ve added to that side of it.

    Oh, just found a “What has changed?” video linked to the trailer.

    • Chaotic Entropy says:

      They’ve added a lot of mid to end game content, definitely worth another look.

  8. Freud says:

    Sounds like my kind of game. Thanks for the heads up.

  9. jasta85 says:

    been wait for release to jump into this, go figure it comes out the week after nier automata and like 2 days after mass effect, so many games to play.

    • ogopogo says:

      This offhand comment — totally honest and accurate! — reflects the joy of PC gaming so well, where a well-crafted indie title can butt heads with AAA titles from two hemispheres… in the zeitgest if not in sales, at least.

      Bravo to Battle Bros. It is a game that is *absolutely* competitive with Nier and Mass Effect, if you’re inclined to apple oranges anyway. And I, for one, orange.

  10. imperialus81 says:

    It really is a fantastic game. Hard as hell though.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Martell says:

    Best game in its class for years. Just the width and breadth of tactical options available and required when fighting orcs vs goblins vs bandits vs noble houses vs undead is impressive.

    I feel like the UI can still use some quality of life improvements, but it’s eminently playable and a huge amount of fun as it is.

  12. Gurrah says:

    I really wanted to like it, but I bounced off it too hard though, Good luck to them, I hope does well in it’s niché.

  13. Triglav says:

    I put in over 300 hours on early access so far. I guess it’s alright. Frustrating at times, but rewarding when you win some tough engagement.
    While the game offers gear and skills for “light” characters as well, that whole thing is pretty useless actually, as heavy “tanks” don’t suffer any movement penalty, while in a game where survivability is the only thing that really matters, you’ll want to put on the heaviest stuff available.
    Hope there is a full English translation one day too, as practically all names and many monsters are in German, which is ok for the German market, I guess, but kinda pointless for everyone else.

    • Landiss says:

      What are you talking about? The game is fully translated. I find it ridiculous that someone would have trouble with german-sounding name of fictional character or a city…

    • ButteringSundays says:

      “300 hours … so far. I guess it’s alright.”

      You clearly value your time less than I if you can waste 300 hours of it on an ‘alright’ game!

    • alcfdantas says:

      300 hours in an “alright” game. I don’t know if I’m happy that you got all this free time to play games or if I’m sad that you put those many hours in a game that you thought it’s just ok.

  14. Whiskey Jak says:

    Just a few in-game “days” played so far and I really dig this game. My take is if you have some nostalgic urge to play Darklands (1992), this scratch that same itch but with some modern sensibilities. It’s also checking the same boxes as Darkest Dungeon for me, in a somewhat lighter setting.

  15. Chaotic Entropy says:

    I do love this little gem.