Best Stars/ Traits/weapons for a BF heavy Duelist?
Best Stars/ Traits/ weapons for a nimble duelist?'
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This guide for version 220.127.116.11 of Battle Brothers. This guide covers some of the builds i have found to be most viable, useful and versatile over the course of my playtime. Included are a list of perks for each build, some explanations and comments as to why these should be taken and how they should be used, recommended talent star distributions, recommended starting attributes, and some recommended equipment, backgrounds and traits.
1. What is important to look for when recruiting new characters?
a) Try out new recruits first and check for “dealbreaker” traits. Asthmatic and Dastard are particularly nasty and should always be avoided; Clubfooted is a no-go on builds which need to be mobile; Irrational, Pessimist and Superstitious will harm any build which is meant to engage in melee and thus suffer frequent morale checks or be targeted by enemy mind spells. Finally, there are a number of traits which reduce your attributes – these may or may not be deal-breakers depending on whether the respective attributes are relevant for the build you’re aiming for, or whether you can outweigh these negatives with good traits, good starting values or particularly good talents.
b) When assessing whether a character is viable for a given role, look to his attributes, specifically talent star distribution and starting values. What exactly you should be looking for here depends on each individual build. Remember that each talent star increases the average gain of that attribute by 0.5 points per level up. Thus every talent star is equivalent to an additional 5 points in that attribute by the time you hit level 11, provided you level said attribute consistently. Backgrounds matter since they affect the starting range of your attributes.
As a rule of thumb, i look for approximately the following values when hiring a new character (of relatively affordable background) whose build calls for requires certain “good” starting attributes:
Of course, some backgrounds may have trouble rolling this high, while others should be expected to roll quite a bit higher since they are also more expensive. Not all attributes are relevant for all builds. I will include in the build guide which attribute you should be looking for “good” starting values in, and which should have talent stars. Also keep an eye out for beneficial traits which increase these stats.
2. How to distribute attribute points on level-up?
In general, you will want to spend most of your points leveling up those which i will call “Primary” attributes for each build. These should also be the ones which have talent stars. Every build will have three such primary attributes, listed in order of relevance. Sometimes you may need to spend points getting a secondary attribute up, at least to a certain minimum value. There are certain HP, Resolve and Fatigue thresholds that no build should fall under, some even requiring quite a bit more.
Furthermore, when you increase a secondary attribute you will have to skip putting points in one of a character’s primary attributes. Thus, if possible, try to do this when you roll low in one of the less important or already sufficiently leveled primaries. However, refrain from putting points into attributes which you don’t need simply because you rolled poorly on that level-up for one of your primary stats, as this messes up your expected average that you should be looking to reach by level 11.
3. What “minimum values” should i aim for? And what about the Student perk?
The values your attributes should reach by level 11 depend on the role of each build, but also how lucky you are with your recruited characters’ starting values and how much you are willing to spend for more expensive backgrounds. In this guide i will assume the backgrounds you will be recruiting are in the price category of the Hunter or below. With this in mind, there are some general guidelines you can follow for values you should be aiming for when leveling:
- Try to aim for around 80HP on most of your bros (after Colossus). Archers can do with 70, while Duelists and Two-Handers may require around 90 or more.
- Try to have at least 55Resolve on any character that is likely to be engaged in melee. Defensive Shield Bro builds may need to go over 60. Backline builds like the Polearm Bro can do with 50, while Archers generally shouldn’t need more than 40. Bannermen should go as high as possible.
- Builds which use a lot of Fatigue will need more of a reserve here: Archers will need around 90Fatigue or more, but also Two-Handers and Duelists wielding Orc Weapons should have around 80 Fatigue after armor. Most others can do with around 70, while the least Fatigue intensive, the Polearm Bros, can function well even with 60.
- Initiative is generally an attribute you can ignore, the only build where it matters is the Dodge Duelist, in which case go as high as your other attributes’ demands will allow.
- Melee Skill (for melee builds) and Ranged Skill (for ranged builds) can and should go as high as you can possibly get them, more is always better. However, some builds may wish to prioritize other attributes instead, e.g. the Shield Bro may want to sacrifice some Melee Skill in Favor of Melee Defense or Resolve if there are not enough points to go around. The Hybrid will want to prioritize Ranged over Melee most of the time, and vice versa for the Bannerman.
- Melee Defense should also be as high as you can get it on all builds which are meant to engage in melee. It is absolutely crucial you do not skimp on this as you will need to be able to reliably dodge attacks even when debuffed or when up against particularly accurate enemies.
- Ranged Defense will be the attribute which most of your builds will struggle to find points to invest in. However, good values to try to aim for are around 10-15 for frontline builds (Shield Bros need it less than Two-Handers or Duelists), and around 35 for backline builds. Though with some lucky rolls and some of the more high tier character backgrounds you may even be able to get your shieldless frontliners up to 20.
As for the Student perk, it is first and foremost a necessity when your build calls for only one Tier 1 perk and no Tier 2 perks, thus letting you skip to Tier 3 without wasting a perk point. Depending on whether you get lucky with high starting HP characters, some builds may be able to skip Colossus. In this case taking Student will be a must. Secondly, Student will get you to level 11 faster, but there is a trade-off in combat efficiency and particularly survivability that you incur when delaying your perks by one level. If you’re feeling confident you can keep your characters alive, take it.
Now on to the actual builds:
The Shield Bro
Your main line of defense, the tank, he is not there to do damage as much as he is there to bind and keep the enemy in place, oftentimes multiple enemies at once, soak up damage and protect the backranks while your main DPS characters deal with the foe. If required however, this bro can and will kill weaker enemies standing in its path. This build uses a shield and a one-handed weapon. He can be built slightly more offensively or more defensively, depending on personal preference.
- Primary Attributes: Melee Defense, Fatigue, Melee Skill.
- Secondary Attributes: Resolve, HP, Ranged Defense.
- Recommended Talent Stars: Melee Defense, Fatigue and Melee Skill.
- Recommended Starting Attributes: GoodResolve, Fatigue and HP; decent Melee Skill (at least 50).
Note that, with the exception of the Sergeant, this is the build for which Resolve is the most important, as he will need to be able to be engaged by multiple enemies at once and stand his ground. It may be important enough to prioritize leveling it over Melee Skill, at least up to a certain point. For an even more defensive build, put more points in Resolve and Ranged Defense at the cost of some Melee Skill.
Talent Stars in Melee Defense and Fatigue are a must, ideally even 2 or 3 Stars. Talent Stars in Melee Skill are optional and there is nothing wrong with only having 1 Star here or entirely elsewhere (e.g. Resolve).
- Colossus – Always take this perk on every build, unless you have a specific reason not to. It is a lifesaver in the beginning of the game and it will save you having to invest points into HP later on when faced with enemies which do direct HP damage such as Goblins using Puncture, Ancient Priests using Miasma clouds, etc. Without Colossus you can very easily lose characters to such armor bypassing attacks.
- Pathfinder – A must for any build that expects to move around a lot, it can be a nightmare fighting in swamps and forests without it, and it provides a substantial advantage when traversing elevation, snow etc.
- Shield Expert – Not only will this increase the defense that shields provide, it will significantly increase their durability vs Split Shield attacks.
- Brawny – This build should be very heavily armored, the heavier armor the better, and it will need enough fatigue to use Shield Wall and still be able to attack.
- Rotation – THE lifesaver skill. A bro can use it to swap himself out of melee or save another bro by swapping himself in.
- Weapon Mastery – Swords have decent damage, low fatigue cost and increased to-hit chance; Flails are weaker in damage, especially against armor, but can be situationally useful in getting around shields; Axes and Maces do well against armored opponents (with Axes being quite a bit stronger than Maces in terms of general damage) and their special abilities can certainly come in handy in some situations; Hammers are a dedicated anti-armor weapon, while Cleavers are excellent against unarmored opponents. Pretty much any one-handed melee weapon is good here except for the Spear, which is too weak in the late game (though an early game Spearwall has its uses). Try to have a good mix of weapons in your mercenary band to cover all needs.
- Underdog – This build will frequently be engaged in combat with multiple opponents, thus negating the surround bonus the enemy gets is essential for increasing survivability.
- Battle Forged – The heavier the armor you wear the better this perk will be. Even if you think your armor is heavy enough, it’s not. Get even more armor.
- Backstabber – This perk will help mitigate the slightly lower Melee Skill of the Shield Bro when engaging enemies together with other bros. Particularly useful when surrounding and daggering down enemies for their armor.
- Player’s Choice – Since there are no more must-have perks for this build, the last perk point can be assigned according to personal preference. I recommend considering
- Lone Wolf for situations when a Shield Bro needs to split off from the group and hold off multiple enemies alone. Alternatively,
- Recover could be used to allow more spamming of Shieldwall;
- Taunt could be used by a particularly defensive Shield Bro to protect weaker allies, though the skill can be notoriously unreliable at times;
- Quick Hands could be used to swap in a second shield when the first one breaks;
- Indomitable could further increase survivability; or you may consider picking a
- 2nd Weapon Mastery to have some versatility and weapon choice for different opponents.
Any of these choices are perfectly fine.
A more defensive variant of the Shield Bro can even forego Backstabber and/or the Weapon Mastery in favor of Taunt and Recover.
A more offensively focused variant of the Shield Bro could take Beserk, possibly also Killing Frenzy instead of some of the more defensive perks (Colossus, Shield Expert, Underdog), though i don’t recommend it. Taking Recover would be almost mandatory as such a build will have an exceptionally high fatigue consumption. Perhaps with a character with the Iron Lungs trait this variant could be made more viable.
The Two-Hander Bro
- Primary Attributes:Melee Skill, Melee Defense, Fatigue.
- Secondary Attributes:Ranged Defense, Resolve, HP.
- Recommended Talent Stars:Melee Defense, Fatigue and Melee Skill.
- Recommended Starting Attributes:GoodFatigue, Melee Skill, Resolve and HP; if possible, at least some points in the Defenses.
For this build, it is essential to have high starting Melee Skill and Fatigue. This is the build for which it will most likely be worth recruiting the more expensive backgrounds, as it can greatly benefit from additional starting points in either Melee or Ranged Defense.
This build requires at least 2, preferably 3 Stars in Melee Defense, as well as some in Fatigue and Melee Skill. This build’s greatest weakness is its lack of Ranged Defense so don’t forget to put some points into this secondary attribute every once in a while.
- Colossus – Same as for the Shield Bro. If anything even more essential here.
- Pathfinder – Pathfinder is indispensable on any build that uses two-handed weapons.
- Brawny – This is another build which requires the heaviest armor possible.
- Rotation – Not only does rotation increase survivability, it often also allows you to get into positions which you otherwise couldn’t without moving two tiles, thus letting you move and attack in the same turn.
- Weapon Mastery – Swords are the most versatile due to having both a line attack and a sweep attack, and they have decent damage vs both armored and unarmored targets. Axes have the highest single target damage output due to their special mechanics (head+body hits, higher critical hits), however their round swing is only situationally useful and too fatigue intensive most of the time. Maces have decent anti-armor capabilities and excel at controlling single targets through Stun and Daze. Hammers are excellent against heavy armor and their sweep attack makes them almost as versatile as the Sword, though its knockback can sometimes be more hindrance than help. Despite their ability to get around shields, Flails are not worth using as their overall damage output is too low. Finally, the Cleaver stands out as potentially the most interesting choice, if you can get your hands on a Crypt Cleaver, which only uses 4 AP per swing, allowing you to hit twice, or even three times with Beserk, though this will quickly drain your fatigue!
- Underdog – The Two-Hander Bro will frequently be fighting multiple enemies at the same time, thus making this perk almost a necessity. It is theoretically a possibility to switch this out for Backstabber (at your own peril!) if you have a particularly high Defense but low Melee Skill bro.
- Battle Forged – This build lives and dies by its armor.
- Beserk – This will allow you to potentially hit twice in a turn or move, hit, move. For two-handed weapons this perk is a must-have.
- Killing Frenzy/Recover – Choose between these two, depending on whether you want to have more short term burst damage capability or more long term staying power.
- Defensive Perk – This build is lacking in perk points to cover all possible defenses, so you will have to choose whether you want:
- Reach Advantage, if you are confident in your ability to hit the enemy and prefer to build up Melee Defense using Reach Advantage stacks. This is more useful for Swords and Hammers which can hit multiple targets at once. A build with Reach Advantage needs more Melee Skill but can afford to have somewhat lower Melee Defense in favor of increased Ranged Defense.
- Indomitable, used together with Recover it can dramatically increase the survivability of this build. Particularly useful, perhaps even necessary, when facing exceptionally dangerous, high damage foes.
- Or Anticipation, if you’re lacking in Ranged Defense and find yourself peppered with arrows and bolts more than you would like to be. This is the option i would recommend least however, since most of the strongest enemies in the game are melee oriented. For fights against Goblins, just bring shields (or better yet, Shield Bros). For fights against Bandits and Noble Houses, simply close quickly into melee and the enemy archers will focus your backranks instead.
If using Fatigue intensive weapons like the Orcish Man-Splitter or the Crypt Cleaver, it is advisable to use a character with the Iron Lungs trait.
The Archer Bro
- Primary Attributes:Ranged Skill, Fatigue, Ranged Defense.
- Secondary Attributes:HP, possibly Initiative.
- Recommended Talent Stars:Ranged Skill, Fatigue and Ranged Defense.
- Recommended Starting Attributes:Very GoodRanged Skill, GoodFatigue and HP.
This build should increase Ranged Skill and Fatigue above all else. This is not a build that should ever get into melee, and if engaged, make sure to get them out ASAP. This also means, no standing directly behind your front lines when fighting enemies which can knock you around such as Orc Warriors and Unholds. Also, they are virtually useless in a fight against the Ancient Dead – use the Polearm Bro here instead for backline DPS, or build them as Hybrid Bros.
High Talent Stars in Ranged Skill are mandatory, as well as at least one or two in Fatigue. Stars in Ranged Defense are nice but not essential. Leveling HP is also great for Nimble builds such as the Archer, since it can protect this bro in case something goes wrong and he is engaged in close combat.
- Colossus – Especially useful on a Nimble bro.
- Fast Adaptation – Particularly necessary against very dodgy opponents like Goblins or Master Archers even into the late game, but also good in the early game when your Archers don’t yet have very high Ranged Skill.
- Bullseye – This will allow you to much more reliably hit targets that are in cover. Oftentimes enemy ranged attackers or spellcasters will hide behind obstacles or tanky minions.
- Anticipation – Your Archers will be most often targeted by the enemy’s ranged attackers once your front line has engaged into close combat. Even with Nimble, the Archer should be getting hit as seldom as possible since their armor cannot absorb much damage. For bros with exceptionally high starting Ranged Defense or high numbers of defensive Talent Stars, it could perhaps be replaced for a more offensive perk such as Head Hunter.
- Bow Mastery – The Archer’s defining perk. Not only does it reduce the fatigue incurred when firing the bow, it also increases your maximum range by 1.
- Footwork – Instead of Rotation, the Archer Bro uses Footwork to stay out of trouble and disengage when threatened. This will save many Archer lives.
- Nimble – To make up for his lack of armor, the Archer Bro can use Nimble to magnify his HP pool. *(See below for recommended armor.)
- Beserk – The Archer’s larger freedom in choice of targets across the battlefield allows him to maximize the use of this perk by consistently looking to last-shot wounded enemies. This will use a lot of fatigue and will require some use of Recover over longer fights.
- Killing Frenzy – This perk synergizes especially well with Beserk.
- Recover – The Archer will go through a lot of fatigue, whether triggering Beserk or using Footwork to escape danger, Recover is always useful.
The only recommended background for this build is the Hunter – all others are inferior.
Furthermore, I advise to resist the urge to take Dodge and/or Overwhelm on Archers. I find they are generally not worth it and the perk point better spent elsewhere. Both of these depend on having high Initiative to make the most of them, yet the Archer will use a lot of Fatigue over the course of a fight, thus making these perks most useful only at the very beginning of combat. If you do decide to use these perks, the Archer will need to invest some points in Initiative.
*Recommended Armor: Noble Mail (160 Durability, 15 Fatigue) and Sallet Helmet (120 Armor, 5 Fatigue, 0 Visibility Penalty). The 20 total fatigue leave you with 53% damage reduction from Nimble out of the maximum 60% at 15 fatigue.
The Bannerman Bro
- Primary Attributes:Resolve, Ranged Defense, Fatigue.
- Secondary Attributes:Melee Skill, Ranged Skill, HP or Melee Defense.
- Recommended Talent Stars:Resolve, Ranged Defense, and Melee Skill or Ranged Skill.
- Recommended Starting Attributes:Very GoodResolve (50+), GoodFatigue and HP; if possible, decent Melee and Ranged Skills.
This build should increase above all its Resolve. The higher the better. Ranged Defense will primarly ensure that the Bannerman does not get sniped by enemy archer fire, though this doesn’t need to be leveled as high as for archers since the Bannerman can be more heavily armored. Leveling up Fatigue is also important to ensure that the Bannerman can actually use the fatigue-intensive Rally skill a decent number of times. Furthermore, some Melee Skill or Ranged Skill should also be given.
The Bannerman should have at least 2, preferrably 3 Stars in Resolve. The other two recommended Talents are not as essential, and either one of them can be replaced by Talents in Fatigue or Ranged Skill and this build will still turn out just fine.
- Colossus – He may not be Nimble but he can still benefit from more HP, thus allowing him to put more attribute points elsewhere.
- Fortified Mind – The Bannerman’s Resolve needs to be as high as it can get.
- Quick Hands – Allowing the Bannerman to switch between his Banner and a Crossbow or better Polearm without AP or Fatigue cost.
- Rally the Troops – A Bro is not a Bannerman without it.
- Anticipation – This perk allows the Bro to occasionally forego increasing Ranged Defense and invest in other attributes instead.
- Recover – The Bannerman will not have many points to invest in Fatigue. Recover is a good choice for longer fights when Rally will have to be used many times.
- Polearm Mastery – Allowing the Bro to cut down a little on the Fatigue use from attacking with his Banner or another Polearm, as well as increasing his movement range by 1 tile while still being able to attack during the same turn due to the reduced AP cost. Keep in mind that the Billhook is by far a better weapon than the Banner and should be used whenever possible instead.
- Crossbow Mastery – Sometimes you need a little more ranged DPS. The Bannerman, though by no means expert in ranged combat, can at least get one or two shots off at approaching enemies before switching to his Banner or Polearm.
- Footwork – A Bannerman built in this fashion will be vulnerable to melee. Use footwork to get him out of trouble. A tankier Bannerman can use Rotation instead.
- Backstabber – The Bannerman cannot afford to put many points into Melee Skill, and Backstabber can compensate for this, especially since most of his targets will usually be engaged in melee with other bros.
A more tanky, heavily armored variant of the Bannerman which can better survive being engaged in melee can pick Brawny and Battle Forged instead of Crossbow Mastery and Anticipation. This allows him to use very heavy armor indeed, though remember that this requires increased Fatigue and heavier focus on melee abilities.
The Polearm Bro
- Primary Attributes:Melee Skill, Melee Defense, Ranged Defense.
- Secondary Attributes:HP, Fatigue.
- Recommended Talent Stars:Melee Skill, Melee Defense and Ranged Defense.
- Recommended Starting AttributesGoodMelee Skill, Fatigue and HP.
This build should mainly seek to increase its Melee Skill in order to be able to hit enemies reliably. There is no need to have a very high Fatigue pool for the Polearm Bro since Polearms are comparatively low in fatigue consumption. Mainly he should have enough Fatigue to be able to wear the heaviest armor available to the mercenary company after equipping its frontline Bros. The rest of the points can be distributed among the two Defense attributes, making the Polearm Bro resistent against both ranged and melee attacks.
The Polearm Bro does not require many Talent Stars and even a second rate character can become a Polearm Bro with just one or two Stars in Melee Skill, though Stars in the Defenses are also beneficial.
- Pathfinder – Together with Polearm Mastery, Pathfinder can drastically increase the mobility of this otherwise rather sluggish build.
- Backstabber – The Polearm Bro will mainly engage enemies from behind the frontline. Backstabber will make him a truly reliable damage dealer.
- Anticipation – Due to his lack of shield, this build must either increase Ranged Defense or take Anticipation. Taking this perk frees up points for other attributes.
- Rotation – The Polearm bro is tanky enough to be able to rotate into the place of another Bro to save their life in an emergency, though he should not be left in this position for long.
- Polearm Mastery – The reduction in Fatigue consumption comes in handy for Beserk, and the reduced AP cost opens up many tactical opportunities.
- Beserk – Due to the Polearm’s relatively low Fatigue cost to swing, Beserk is a very viable choice, significantly increasing this build’s potential damage output.
- Battle Forged – The Polearm Bro will rely on heavy armor to tank damage when he is forced to engage in melee.
- Killing Frenzy – If Beserk can be triggered, Killing Frenzy will further increase the damage done by the Polearm bro.
- Brawny – Brawny will very likely be necessary to keep fatigue at reasonable levels while still wearing the kinds of heavy armor that the Polearm Bro will aim to use by the endgame.
- Colossus – The Polearm Bro is not Nimble, and is likely to be targeted by armor piercing attacks from enemy crossbows. More HP will also help him survive longer under the Miasma cloud cast by an Ancient priest.
Variants of the Polearm bro can use Polehammers or Longaxes instead of Polearms, taking the appropriate Mastery perk instead. These do NOT get the AP benefit of Polearm Mastery though, making them less mobile, and they do not offer major advantages in damage over the Billhook.
The Polehammer’s anti-armor attack is overkill against all but the heaviest armors, and its basic attack is only slightly better against armor than the Billhook’s while being significantly worse against unarmored opponents. The Longaxe does rather poorly against armor compared to the Billhook while its damage against unarmored is only slightly higher. It can be useful to use the Longaxe to break shields, though by the late game your Melee Skill should be high enough across the board such that breaking most shields would be a waste of action points which could have been better spent doing damage.
If you do not have any Hybrid Archers, nor many other builds which use Axes, it may be useful to take Axe Mastery instead of one of the more defensive perks like Colossus or Anticipation, in order to be able to quickly break the shields of Schrats, and – if your Melee Skill isn’t high enough to reliably bypass their Shieldwall yet – of Ancient Legionares and Noble House Footmen.
The (Bladed) Pike can be a good alternative to the Billhook for fights against particularly dodgy but lightly armored opponents due to its bonus to hit.
The Hybrid Archer Bro
- Primary Attributes:Ranged Skill, Fatigue, Melee Skill.
- Secondary Attributes:Ranged Defense, HP.
- Recommended Talent Stars:Ranged Skill, Fatigue and Melee Skill.
- Recommended Starting Attributes:GoodRanged Skill, Melee Skill, Fatigue and HP.
This build requires rather high starting values for quite a few attributes. In particular you will need a background which can roll high both on Ranged and on Melee Skill. The sacrifice will come at the expense of some Ranged Defense and/or Fatigue.
The usual Stars in Ranged Skill and Fatigue that an Archer requires are necessary, in addition, Talent in Melee Skill can be very useful, though a high starting value can suffice instead.
- Fast Adaptation – To hit those dodgy targets.
- Colossus – To make the most out of Nimble.
- Bullseye – To hit obscured targets.
- Anticipation – To avoid getting hit by enemy ranged.
- Bow Mastery – What else for an archer?
- Footwork – Get out of trouble.
- Quick Hands – To switch to the Axe.
- Axe Mastery – This is the main feature of this build, the Hybrid uses the Longaxe to break enemy shields and damage enemies resistant to his ranged attacks. If you have other ways of dealing with shields, consider using Polearm Mastery instead.
- Backstabber – Since this build will never have particularly high Melee Skill (as you should be focusing mainly on Ranged Skill and Fatigue), Backstabber serves to make it a little more viable.
- Nimble – The main way in which the Hybrid mitigates damage, both ranged and, in case of emergency, melee.
Again, the best background for this build is the Hunter, though a few others which roll high in both Melee and Ranged could work if you are willing to sacrifice some Ranged Skill. In particular, Bowyer, Sellsword, Witchhunter, Squire, Beast Slayer and Poacher could make decent Hybrids with enough Talent Stars in Ranged Skill.
For a purely shield-breaking variant of the Hybrid with little to no Melee capability, but which regains most of the ranged damage output of the Archer, replace Backstabber and Anticipation with Beserk and either Killing Frenzy or Recover. Instead of Melee Skill, level up Ranged Defense to compensate for the lack of Anticipation.
The Hybrid uses the same equipment as the Archer: Noble Mail and Sallet Helmet.
The Duelist Bro
- Primary Attributes:Melee Defense, Melee Skill, Initiative.
- SecondaryAttributes:HP, Ranged Defense, Resolve.
- Recommended Talent Stars:Melee Defense, Melee Skill and Initiative.
- Recommended Starting Attributes:Very GoodMelee Skill (>60), GoodFatigue, Resolve, Initiative and HP; some starting Melee Defense and/or Ranged Defense, as well as the Iron Lungs Trait.
The Duelist MUST have the Iron Lungs trait in order to be able to use his skills without too quickly draining his Fatigue, which would lower his Initiative and the efficiency of Dodge (and Lunge). Furthermore, he should start with at least 5-10 Melee Defense and/or Ranged Defense, have high Melee Skill and Initiative and a good starting pool of both HP and Fatigue as well as at least decent Resolve.
In addition to the high Talents required in Melee Defense and Melee Skill, if the character does not have high Talent in Initiative, it may be better to level up Ranged Defense and Melee Defense individually instead, as each point in Initiative only translates to 0.15 Points in each of the Defenses respectively. The Initiative focused Duelist is particularly adapted to use the Fencing Sword, whose Lunge damage scales with Initiative. If you are building a non-initiative-focused Duelist, the third primary stat should be HP. This variant is explained below.
- Colossus – Together with Nimble this will be the primary way in which the Duelist absorbs damage.
- Dodge – The Duelist uses his high Initiative to Dodge attacks, both at range and in close combat.
- Pathfinder – The Duelist needs to be highly mobile and not be impeded/fatigued by terrain.
- Lone Wolf – Greatly increasing the Duelist’s abilities when out on his own. Take Backstabberinstead if you plan on sticking closer to the main group of Bros.
- Sword Mastery – Reducing both the Fatigue cost of the basic attack, which the Duelist will use up to three times in a turn with Beserk, as well as that of the Riposte skill, which a Sword wielding Duelist will be wanting to use in combination with his superior Dodging skill to inflict large amounts of damage, especially when (partially) surrounded. Replace this with the appropriate Mastery if you’re using another weapon instead.
- Underdog – The Duelist, especially one using Riposte as his primary tactic, will frequently be engaged by multiple enemies at the same time. The Duelist should nevertheless not allow himself to be fully surrounded since the enemy will get increased to-hit bonuses if adjacent to him on all sides. Alternatively, for a non-Riposte Duelist wishing to avoiding getting surrounded, consider getting Footwork instead. In case of emergency the Duelist can use this to escape an unfavorable engagement. Or, switch it out for Rotation if you plan on using the Duelist closer to your main group of Bros to protect their flank instead of as a Lone Wolf.
- Beserk – A Duelist with Iron Lungs will be able to make significantly more use of this perk than other one handed weapon wielders. Not as essential for Riposte focused Duelists, but still useful.
- Nimble – When the Duelist does get hit, Nimble will serve to avert most of the damage.
- Duelist – The namesake of the build, this perk will increase the amount of damage which bypasses opponents’ armor.
- Killing Frenzy – In order to maximize the damage done by a Duelist with Beserk and especially one managing to kill many foes with Riposte.
A Duelist without Iron Lungs may wish to take Recover instead of either Killing Frenzy or Beserk, reducing his damage output but ensuring he does not tire himself out.
The HP Tank variant of the Duelist is adapted for those who do not wish to rely on Initiative and Dodge. This Duelist cannot use the Fencing Sword and should have HP as his third primary attribute and talent, and level it accordingly. This Duelist aims to make the most out of Nimble by using his HP to absorb hits. Instead of Dodge, this Duelist uses Indomitable to avert damage in an emergency. This duelist can afford to use more fatiguing weapons.
Equipment: As close as possible to 15 fatigue penalty from armor, to maximize the benefit of Nimble. The Sallet Helmet and Noble Mail are also excellent choices here until the mercenary company can find named armor better than this generic gear. The ideal equipment for a Riposte Duelist would be the Davkul Armor Set and the Legendary Weapon „Reproach of the Old Gods“.
By the mid game you should be transitioning into recruiting and leveling at least a few candidates for Two-Handers. By now you should have a decent number of good Archers/Hybrids to carry you.
The end game should be focused on transitioning away from the Shield Bro to the Two-Hander Bro. The exception being of course Goblin fights, where you will want to have as close as possible to a half Shield Bro, half Archer group to take them on. Against most enemies some Archers will continue to be extremely useful.
Fights against large numbers of Orc Warriors will require you to restrict yourself to only a few Archersand almost no Shield Bros (whose shields would frequently get destroyed by the Orcs), and instead use a large number of Two-Handers and some Polearms.
Against the Ancient Dead the required party composition involves a handful of Shield Bros to hold their position at key locations while the main bulk of your group, your Two-Hander Bros, will progressively sweep away the enemy, with the help of a few Polearms to replace the Archers who would otherwise be virtually useless against the Ancient Dead.
Feel free to mix in one or two Duelists according to your personal preference.
In addition, some of the recommended configurations of attributes and talents which i have suggested here may be difficult to find, and it may take a good number of tries before you find suitable candidates. You will have to settle for less than optimal characters and do the best you can to compensate for their weaknesses. You will certainly need to use a number of early game disposable bros as throwaway characters before you arrive at a more permanent composition for your mercenary band.
- Love tree teddy coat
- Stringer brackets home depot
- 2005 dodge caravan rotors
- Legacy se 6 runtime
- Homemade soda blaster plans
Pros & Cons:
There is no shortage of excellent guides on the various builds and play styles. As a result, the sheer volume of possibilities can be a bit overwhelming for new and veteran players alike. For that reason, this guide aims to lend some clarity and focus to the meta by showcasing four of the strongest available archetypes.
Who are the Fearsome Foursome?
1. Melee two-handers
2. Cleaver duelists
3. Archer-thrower hybrids
4. The standard bearer
Orc sea of tents and large Chosen camps will easily fall victim to your overwhelming power. The formation is also capable of clearing all legendary locations, with a few substitutions recommended here and there. Melee bros instead of ranged for the Kraken, a sacrificial shield tank for the Black Monolith, pocket shields on the front line for the Goblin City approach, and more ranged units for the Sunken Library (bring slings).
Mid to late campaign once your brothers have nimble or battleforged
1. Highest damage in the game
2. High utility + damage on par with two-handers
3. Highest ranged damage in the game
4. High resolve
A combination of blunt force trauma, punctured flesh, and grievous bleeding wounds
- The formation consists of a front line of two-handers and cleaver duelists
- The back line has our ranged units, standard bearer, and greatswordsmen
- Ranged units can be either bowmen or crossbowmen, and it’s wise to have at least one of each, just in case you find a named bow or crossbow and want someone who can use it. In terms of optimization, I believe the bow slightly wins out over the crossbow and is generally favorable
- The greatswordsmen can be swapped out for two more ranged units when fighting goblins. They can also start in the frontline, reap with the swordlance as the enemy draws near, then move to the back if you’re about to get flanked. The swordlance is interchangeable with the warscythe.
- The cleaver duelists can trade places with the macemen to gain a better spread when dealing with Geists. You may also want to field an additional sergeant for these encounters, but keep the banner and sash together on the better one
- Goblin pikes, swordlances and warscythes are good substitutes for the standard two-handed reach weapons if you find them before the dedicated mastered weapons.
- Suggested reserves: 3 additional melee units, 2 additional ranged units, 1 additional sergeant, and 1-3 dedicated shield tanks
- This is just a guide and is not meant to be interpreted as the absolute be-all-end-all. There is no ideal cookie cutter formation that is perfectly optimized for every single encounter. Players are encouraged to use their own judgement and modify as they see fit. I don’t doubt that there are potentially stronger formations out there. This is simply a collection of very strong builds that I have found to be highly effective in addition to being fun.
The mighty two-hander is a force to be reckoned with. What he enjoys most in life is to see his enemies driven before him, and to hear the lamentations of their women. This archetype closely resembles the Barbarian Chosen, which are widely considered to be some of the toughest enemies in the game. To know your enemy, you must become your enemy. Just wait until you have Battleforged and some decent armor before retiring your one-handed weapon and shield.
- Big donkey damage
- Can take a beating, but can also use Rotation to move to a safer position
- 3-tile AOE attacks, 2-tile reach attacks, or 1-tile bludgeon to the face for maximum damage
- A E S T H E T I C
- Takes a while before they ascend to their final form
- Heavy armor is expensive
- Due to high fatigue requirements, you may need to juggle armor around or settle for something lighter, like coat of scales instead of coat of plates to stay above 70-80 fatigue after equipment
Farmhands, Brawlers, Lumberjacks, Thieves, Militia, Wildmen, Sellswords, Adventurous Nobles, Hedge Knights
Iron Lungs, Strong, Fearless, Tough, Dextrous, Sure Footing, Determined, Iron Jaw, Athletic, Brave, Bright, Deathwish, Lucky, Swift
Primary Stats: Melee attack (80), Melee defense (30), Fatigue (70-80 after equipment)
Seconday Stats: Hitpoints (80), Resolve (40)
- Recover helps to keep you swinging on the longer encounters
- Quickhands allows you to switch back and forth to your reach weapons for added range, disarms with the whip, daggers for puncturing, nets, grenades etc.
- Rotation saves lives and can also be used offensively
- Reach Advantage boosts your melee defense when being flanked and swinging your sword
- Don’t forget: swapping weapons will remove your stacks of Reach Advantage!
- Identical to the greatswordsmen, with the exception of the change to Hammer Mastery
- Similar to the others with 3 notable changes:
- Mace Mastery for the weapon specialization
- Dodge insead of Reach Advantage as a defensive perk
- Crippling Strikes for dealing injuries through armor, setting up Executioner for our throwers
- Pick bros with high ini as your macemen, for synergy with Dodge and Crippling Strikes
- Start the encounters with your polearms equipped, then swap once the enemy engages
- For many encounters, on turn 1 or 2, if you move your entire formation back 1-2 tiles, the enemy will end their turn in range of your polearms, in which case you can swing at them from 2 tiles away. Count how many steps they can take and try to make them end their turn 2 tiles away from your frontline.
- You can’t take 2 steps then swing with your two-handed weapon in the same turn with most two-handed weapons. You can take two steps, Quickhands to a dagger and puncture in the same turn, however.
- When low on stamina, Quickhands to a dagger or other 4AP weapon to get the last hit on a target for the Berserk-Recover combo.
- The single target damage of the mace is a better choice than stunning 90% of the time, but stuns do come in handy in a few key situations. I like to pick Mace Mastery for this reason. The lowered fatigue cost also helps to maintain the initiative. Crippling Strikes allows your macemen to potentially injure orc warriors and chosen on the first hit. Use this to your advantage by targeting them with your throwers.
- Use your reach weapons to punish melee units engaging with the back line. They’re also highly effective for reaching over walled fortifications.
- The extra bag slot can be used for whips, grenades and nets etc. Don’t feel the need to limit yourself to only carrying daggers.
- Goblin jagged pikes are a good substitute in the absence of mastered reach weapons. Their main attack only uses 5 AP without having to spend a perk point in Polearm Mastery, this allows you to:
-take a step towards the enemy on good terrain
-strike with the rupture ability
-step back into formation in a single turn, giving the weapon an effective 3-tile range
The Cleaver Duelist
At the age of six, his parents were murdered by a group of Necrosavants. The boy was lucky to escape with his own life. Lost and alone, he was found in the forest by some of the mountain people, taken in and raised among them. However, he never forgot what had happened to his parents and vowed to deliver vengeance one day upon those responsible.
- The disarm ability of the whip is extremely clutch
- The whip has a range of 3 tiles
- Very strong vs. Geists, Necrosavants, and Undead opponents in general
- Has a free hand that can hold a net, grenades, holy water etc.
- Can stack a lot of bleeds
- The whip has pitiful armor damage
- Fatigue intensive, you’ll burn out rather quickly
- Slightly weaker than a dedicated two-hander
- Perk hungry, so lacking a bit in passive defenses
Farmhands, Brawlers, Lumberjacks, Thieves, Militia, Wildmen, Sellswords, Adventurous Nobles, Hedge Knights
Iron Lungs, Strong, Fearless, Tough, Dextrous, Sure Footing, Determined, Bloodthirsty, Iron Jaw, Athletic, Brave, Bright, Deathwish, Lucky, Swift, Hate for Undead
Primary Stats: Melee attack (80), Melee defense (30), Fatigue (80 after armor)
Secondary Stats: Hitpoints (80), Resolve (40)
- Recover is a good pick due to the fatigue-heavy nature of the build
- Quickhands is great for quickly switching between the whip and cleaver
- Duelist is essential as it allows you to sometimes cause bleeds through armor with the whip, and shred through armored opponents before decapitating them with the cleaver
- Conserve your energy, avoid whipping heavily armored opponents
- If you’re getting low on stamina, the most efficient way to Recover is immediately after a kill in order to take advantage of the Berserk-Recover combo. This way you don’t have to waste a full turn recovering, but rather ‘half’ a turn
- Throw nets and/or use disarm on the high threat targets: Necrosavants, Chosen, Orc Warlords, your mother-in-law etc.
- When daggering down an enemy for their armor, disarm them with the whip while the others puncture
- Similar to the way in which the Goblin pike functions, the Whip ability only uses 4 AP, so you can take a step out, whip an enemy, then step back into formation, giving the whip an effective 4 tile range. This also works with Disarm at a cost of 5 AP for disarming enemy throwers.
- Decapitate scales with lost health. That is, for each 1% of lost health you deal an extra 1% of HP damage, but not armor damage. For example, if the target is at 80% HP you will deal an extra 20% damage to their HP
- Spam Decapitate on wounded enemies, Recover as needed
- Decapitate Wiedergangers to prevent them from resurrecting
- When fighting hexen, wear the undead trinket and use the whip to disarm your bros if they get charmed.
The Archer-Thrower Hybrid
“You have described only too well,” replied the Master, “where the difficulty lies…The right shot at the right moment does not come because you do not let go of yourself. You…brace yourself for failure. So long as that is so, you have no choice but to call forth something yourself that ought to happen independently of you, and so long as you call it forth your hand will not open in the right way–like the hand of a child.”
- Able to snipe targets at a distance with the bow
- Ranged advantage baits the enemy into charging
- Deals heavy close-ranged damage through the use of Throwing Mastery
- Wears light armor, therefore plenty of surplus fatigue and no need to spec into Recover
- It’s fun
- Can’t use ranged abilities when engaged in melee
- Lower survivability compared to heavy armor users
- Can snipe enemies but is also vulnerable to being sniped
- Weak in closed corridors like forest encounters
- Has to be babysat and rotated out of harm’s way
If you only try one build in this guide, try this build
Squire, Witch Hunter, Shepherd, Beast Slayer, Poacher, Bowyer, Sellsword, Hunter
Determined, Iron Lungs, Night Owl, Eagle Eyes, Strong, Swift, Athletic, Tiny, Iron Jaw, Tough, Quick, Bright, Fearless, Optimist, Brave, Lucky
Primary: Ranged attack (90), Hitpoints (90), Fatigue (90)
Secondary: Ranged Defense (just enough to get it higher than your melee units)
- Bags and Belts allow you to carry 3 stacks of throwing weapons and a melee weapon
- Colossus gives some more HP to our fragile Nimble brothers
- Executioner increases damage on the tougher targets. The front line sets up the injuries
- Quickhands lets you quickly switch between bow and throwing weapons
- Bow Mastery grants +1 range to our shots
- Throwing Mastery greatly increases throwing weapon damage
- Duelist completes the build by adding armor penetration to our throwing weapons
- The melee slot gets a firelance for emergencies because:
A) The special attack scales off of ranged attack skill
B) It covers 2 tiles
C) It causes burn injuries, which can be exploited by Executioner
D) It’s also a spear with +20% to hit chance
- Crossbow-thrower variant with the only change being Crossbow & Firearms Mastery
- Also functions as a handgonne-thrower hybrid, or the “Gunslinger” see my other guide
A note on Executioner vs. Overwhelm:
Ovewhelm is another potential pick for the Executioner slot, but I believe Executioner to be the optimal choice for the following reasons:
- Overwhelm requires that the person attacking have higher initiative than their target
- This creates the burden of having to put points into initiative upon leveling up and/or carefully monitor the turn order each round
- A look at the battlebrothers.fandom.com – https://battlebrothers.fandom.com/wiki/Category:Enemies reveals some rather high initiative requirements to hit these benchmarks for many common units
- For example, even the humble Brigand Raider has 115 initiative, while Orcs, Goblins, Barbarians, Nomads etc. have significantly more
- Undead units, on the other hand, have low initiative and can therefore be targeted by Overwhelm with relative ease
- This leaves us with the choice of being stronger vs. Undead or most of everything else
- Bearing this in mind, on a balance of probabilities, you’re more likely to gain benefit from using Executioner for a majority of encounters with the unfortunate exception of Monolith
- With that said, if players would prefer to simply min-max for the Black Monolith and Sunken Library, they should consider picking Overwhelm or Recover instead of Executioner, just be advised you’ll be gimped vs. the big boys like Orcs, Chosen, Unholds etc.
- Taking a point from Colossus and putting it into Overwhelm is another option, but you’ll just be trading your own survivability to increase that of the front line; a risky proposition
- Fire the bow and crossbow at the weaker trash mobs as they approach
- Snipe enemy ranged units whenever possible
- Leverage the Killing Frenzy buff gained from clearing trash to punish the tougher targets
- Switch to throwing weapons when the enemy comes within 2-3 tiles of range
- Use javelins on armored targets and throwing axes on skeletons
- Aim for the injured targets to take advantage of Executioner
- To farm heavy throwing weapons, kill barbarians while they have their throwing weapons out
- When engaged by enemy melee units, switch to the firelance and use the special attack
- Enlist the aid of your melee units who can either beat down the engaging enemy with their reach weapons, or rotate you to safety
- Consider using the handgonne on your crossbow unit(s) when facing large swarms of unarmored enemies such as Wiedergangers, Nachzerers, Webknechts etc.
- Don’t sell your goblin poison, save it for hard engagements and dip your arrows in it
- Pack a fire pot for the challenging encounters
The Standard Bearer
“Stand like a beaten anvil, when thy dream
Is laid upon thee, golden from the fire.
Flinch not, though heavily through that furnace-gleam
The black forge-hammers fall on thy desire.
Demoniac giants round thee seem to loom.
‘Tis but the world-smiths heaving to and fro.
Stand like a beaten anvil. Take the doom
Their ponderous weapons deal thee, blow on blow.
Needful to truth as dew-fall to the flower
Is this wild wrath and this implacable scorn.
For every pang, new beauty, and new power,
Burning blood-red shall on thy heart be born.
Stand like a beaten anvil. Let earth’s wrong
Beat on that iron and ring back in song.”
- Improves the resolve of surrounding allies
- Can rally fleeing brothers back into the fray
- Can use a whip or throw grenades when needed
- Lots of build variety and theorycrafting potential
- You’re hosed if he dies, necessitating the preparation of a backup in most cases
- Has to spend points on sergeant-specific perks, leaving him weak in other areas
- May struggle to keep up fatigue-wise during Geist-heavy fights andlegendary locations
Squires, Wildmen, Monks, Cultists, Adventurous Nobles
Fearless, Brave, Cocky, Drunkard, Hate for Beasts, Hate for Greenskins, Hate for Undead, Iron Lungs, Determined, Optimist, Deathwish, Strong, Athletic, Quick, Tiny, Tough
Primary Stats: Resolve (pump it), Fatigue (80), Melee attack (80)
Secondary Stats: Hitpoints (90), Initiative (96)
- Recover refreshes your stamina when you’re spamming Rally the Troops
- Pathfinder provides mobility for chasing down fleeing allies. Rally the Troops suffers a penalty based on distance, so Pathfinder helps to get you where you need to be
- Quickhands allows you to switch to a whip, strike or disarm once, then switch back to the battle standard in the same turn. This keeps 100% up time on the resolve buff from the banner while adding some more versatility and range to the unit.
- Fortified Mind adds a multiplier to resolve
- Relentless is, in the opinion of the author, an overlooked hidden gem. More on this later
- Polearm Mastery allows the sergeant to contribute damage with less fatigue
- Cleaver Mastery removes the disarm hit penalty of the whip
- Nimble keeps him light on his feet and helps to conserve fatigue
Thoughts on Relentless:
- Relentless keeps your initiative high. We want our sergeant to have high initiative to give him the option of starting first in the turn order so he can Rally the Troopsbefore they act
- Problem: 95+ initiative means the sergeant will start before Geists in the turn order
- Therefore, we want the option of waiting until the end of the turn without penalty
- We have that option, it’s called Relentless
Consider the following scenario:
- You are fighting Geists or Ancient Priests
- Being the sergeant, your initiative is normally higher than that of the other brothers as a result of wearing light armor and being inactive, which preserves fatigue and by extension, your initiative
- We don’t want to act first in this scenario, we want to wait until the Geist spreads his fear or the Ancient Priest horror effect triggers before we rally. This is where Relentless shines:
- Wait your turn
- The Geist fears the troops
- You Rally the Troops
- Thanks to Relentless, We start the next round early in the turn order
- Now we have the option to either:
A) Rally the Troops a second time if morale is still shattered
B) Wait again if morale is raised. Depending on how things go this round, we can Recover, or repeat the cycle.
- Conclusion: Relentless functions as a kind of passive Adrenaline. When combined with Recover during windows of opportunity, it turns the sergeant into a rallying machine. Moreover, if you bring two of these guys, never fear, theGeistbustersare here.
- Embrace the relentless-rally-recover combo. or completely ignore the combo and do as you normally would
- Give your sergeant the hyena fur mantle and/or pop a cat potion to buff his initiative
- Quickhands to a whip for disarming on demand
- Distance matters, move closer to the breaking troops before you rally
- Pop Rally the Troops to mass-awaken your allies vs. Alps
Written by Nerdgasm
I hope you enjoy the Guide we share about Battle Brothers – Best Builds and Play Style + Standard Formation + Best Tactics Guide; if you think we forget to add or we should add more information, please let us know via commenting below! See you soon!
An up to date perk guide that deep dives into each perk to help you make educated decisions when building your bros.
Introduction (Please Read)
Hello all and welcome to my perk guide!
You might be wondering why I’m creating a perk guide when several already exist. The reason is that many of the existing guides are outdated in regards to the DLC, only offer brief advice on the perks, focus too much on the end game, or have information I disagree with. Disagreement is healthy and I’m not arrogant enough to claim that other guides are completely wrong or that my guide is perfect. I encourage you to read other guides as well and come to your own conclusions where we guide writers disagree.
What is the point of this guide?
With the Blazing Deserts (BD) DLC and the Switch release on the horizon, we will likely see an influx of new players that will be seeking assistance. I want to put out a guide that is current to the existing DLC, that goes into a high level of detail and nuance for each perk and their general usefulness, while also providing use cases on when you might want to choose a specific perk.
I wrote this guide so that people would get all the necessary information to make educated decisions when selecting perks. You can be successful in Battle Brothers (BB) using many different strategies so bear in mind that even if I do not value a perk highly it doesn’t mean you can’t make it work. I have cleared crises in a no-perks challenge and I’ve heard rumors of people beating the Black Monolith without perks, so you do not need to stress so much about min-maxing or creating perfect builds. This guide will of course be subjected to my own biases, but I will still point out good ways to use perks that I don’t personally like.
What does in-depth mean?
This guide will take a close look at every single perk, explaining how they function at a basic and deep level, exploring mechanical and situational nuance, and giving tips and advice on how to best make use of each.
To give you an idea, here are some questions the guide addresses:
☆ How does the 3-Headed Flail function with various perks?
☆ What are the pros and cons of each Duelist option?
☆ How much does Fortified Mind help against Hexen?
☆ Is Head Hunter good on bros with Brute?
☆ How does Taunt work in various situations?
Answers to these questions and many others can be found throughout this guide.
I will also explain various gameplay mechanics along the way like injury and morale mechanics, damage calculation, and more. Attributes and stats will be focused on too as they impact the game to a varying degree, and this plays into perk valuation.
What is this guide not?
This guide is not short. If you are looking for a very quick pass on the perks then I suggest just checking out the summary section of each perk and then skimming through any sections of interest. Reading through the entire guide start to finish will take some time, so it may make more sense to focus your reading on sections that interest you.
This guide is not a build guide. I want to focus on the perks themselves and you can come up with the builds because that’s part of what makes BB so fun. Of course I will talk about perk tips, synergies, relative strength, and builds here and there, but I’m not creating a build script for you to replicate. Experiment yourself or look to other guides for that purpose.
This guide is not a min-max’ers guide on how to beat the legendary locations really fast or how to create a company of super soldiers. If you like to play that way then this guide can still help you achieve those goals, but it isn’t specifically catering to that playstyle. Again, you can meet the majority of the game challenges without perks at all so you don’t need to worry so much about creating perfect bros or only using the strongest perks.
Who is this guide for?
I would like to hope everyone can get something out of this guide.
Beginners will find plenty of advice to make informed decisions on when and why to choose a particular perk. I will also answer some of the most recurring questions coming from new players on the forums, and I will debunk common misconceptions shared among the community.
Veteran players should still learn something new as I go heavily in-depth, or at least get different perspectives to enrich their own playstyle.
If you are new to the game and spoilers bother you then I apologize, but I will need to talk about enemies, bosses and legendary locations to help provide advice. I will not be marking spoilers throughout the guide. This is your warning!
Quantitative ratings and why I’m not using them
Quantitative ratings are fun but really fail to capture how you should be evaluating perks. Dodge for example is probably a 10/10 on some builds and a 1/10 on others, so how do we give it a singular rating quantitatively? It isn’t really the way you should be evaluating perks in game. Instead you should be looking at the bro in question, what role he can fill, what roles your party needs to be filled, and which perks can help a character succeed in that role.
My gameplay perspective and context
My perspective is that of Expert Economy and Combat, Low Funds and Ironman using all DLC and no mods. If you play on a lower difficulty, or do not have the DLC, or play with mods then most of the guide will likely still apply, but keep in mind the differences.
I will also focus mostly on the first 100, maybe 150 days. In my experience, the game becomes largely unthreatening by day 100. It is not too hard to have cleared the map, including legendary locations, by day 150 or 200 with a team of mostly average to good bros. Your team doesn’t have to be perfect or built specifically to win legendary fights. Some perks especially shine in the early and mid game and I’m going to be pointing this out.
A note about Blazing Deserts
I began writing this guide long before BD was announced. The guide heavily reflects the WotN game state which is going to change once BD is released. I will do my best to update the guide after the launch of BD to reflect the new game state. See the BD section for more information.
Where do your calculations come from?
I have built a damage calculator[github.com]that can simulate the game combat.
While sandbox calculator tests can’t fully capture the true dynamic nature of the game, they can still help us evaluate perks and answer questions such as:
◇ How much does Nimble, Forge, Brow, Indomitable really improve the toughness of a character?
◇ How much does Crossbow Mastery, Head Hunter, Duelist, increase damage?
My opinions are not law. If you like using a perk that I say is weak then by all means continue using it, and you don’t have to use perks that I say are strong. If you have any advice for improving the guide or want to offer a differing opinion then please feel free to share in the comments. Again, there are many ways to be successful in Battle Brothers.
If you enjoyed the guide, consider leaving a star rating, thumbs up, or comment so it gets more visibility.
“A dumb quote, reference, or joke I’m putting in for fun.”
Description: the in-game description for reference.
Summary: some + and − points that summarize the perk.
Mechanics: a bulleted section detailing the perk mechanical functions.
Discussion: in-depth analysis of the perk, its pros and cons.
Use Cases: specific scenarios worth considering when using the perk.
☞ The summary serves as a quick reference. It’s not a rating scale.
Thanks for reading the introduction! I encourage you to check the Game Mechanics section as I reference it a number of times throughout the guide. Otherwise, feel free to use the table of contents on the sidebar to jump to perks of interest.
Some game mechanics will be relevant to multiple perk sections. Instead of repeating myself multiple times throughout the guide, I will explain these here.
Defense – Increasing returns from high defense values
Melee Defense (MDF) gets exponentially more valuable the more you already have. To illustrate, let’s assume a Chosen kills us in three hits. What returns can be expected from increasing MDF for different starting values?
10 defense (65% hit chance): death in 4.62 swings. 15 defense (60% hit chance): death in 5 swings (+.38). 40 defense (35% hit chance): death in 8.57 swings. 45 defense (30% hit chance): death in 10 swings (+1.43).
A 5 MDF increase with a starting value of 40 is more than 3 times as beneficial as it is for a value of 10. The takeaway is that stacking MDF is very strong. All of the MDF perks benefit from this interaction, and there is no such thing as too much defense. In conclusion, MDF is the strongest stat.
Technically, the value of each MDF point over 50 is halved. But due to the increasing returns from high defense, leveling it beyond 50 is still extremely strong, and the softcap only slows this down by a little.
As an example, going off of the above scenario:
50 defense (25% hit chance): death in 12 swings. 56 defense (22% hit chance): death in 13.64 swings (+1.64).
Despite the softcap, raising defense is still yielding huge returns, and it continues to get stronger the higher you go.
See this post by Reddit user WeWantEverything for a graphical visual.
Ranged Defense (RDF) also gets increasing returns with higher values, but enemies can just shoot somebody else instead. So it is hard to actually benefit from high RDF, unless the opponent targeting behavior can be predicted and somewhat controlled.
Avoiding attacks thanks to a high defense also helps save Fatigue:
- Being hit: −5 Fatigue
- Dodging: −2 Fatigue
- Shielding: no Fatigue incurred
Related Perks – Dodge, Gifted, Shield Expert, Relentless (via Dodge), Reach Advantage, Overwhelm, Lone Wolf, Underdog.
Skill – Increasing/Decreasing returns depending on perspective
⊱ Increasing returns in ‘not missing’
From the perspective of not missing, Skill (SKL) has increasing returns. For example, going from 90 → 93 hit chance (≠ SKL) gives –30% less relative chance to miss (3 ÷ 10). Going from 70 → 73 hit chance on the other hand only grants –10% (3 ÷ 30).
Another way to think about this is that raising SKL at high levels has increasing returns on reliability, as opposed to lower SKL levels.
⊱ Decreasing returns in expected damage output
As a counter to increasing returns from defense, SKL is more gainful when your hit chance is poor. To illustrate, let’s assume we kill an Ancient Legionary in 3 hits. Legionaries have 0 MDF unshielded and 50 with solo Shieldwall (SW) Tower Shield. How useful is having more MSK here?
70 SKL vs. Pike Legion (70% hit chance): death in 4.29 swings. 90 SKL vs. Pike Legion (90% hit chance): death in 3.33 swings (–.96). 70 SKL vs. SW Tower (20% hit chance): death in 15 swings. 90 SKL vs. SW Tower (40% hit chance): death in 7.5 swings (–7.5).
As you can see, gaining SKL is significantly more impactful to damage potential when your hit chances are poor. As such, bros with lower SKL will benefit more from accuracy perks than bros with higher SKL, and accuracy perks can even be stronger than damage perks in some cases.
Given that most enemies have defense stats and some of them quite high like Shieldwall Ancient Dead, it is hard to have too much SKL. Even high SKL bros can benefit from accuracy perks, but lower SKL bros will appreciate the help more.
Related Perks – Fast Adaptation, Gifted, Backstabber, Lone Wolf.
Damage – HP damage taken is reduced by 10% of the remaining armor
Hitpoints (HP) damage dealt to a target depends on a weapon and skill armor ignoring damage (AID) proportion as well as on the target’s remaining armor.
For instance, a Fighting Spear (25% AID) body hit rolling maximum HP damage (40) can deal up to 10 (40 x 25%) HP damage through armor. But 10% of the target’s remaining armor, after armor damage has been accounted, is subtracted from this. So if the target has 70 remaining body armor after taking the armor damage, then 7 of the 10 maximum damage ignoring armor is subtracted, and only 3 damage is dealt instead.
As a result, heavy armor is very good at negating HP damage from weapons with low AID but is still vulnerable to attacks dealing high AID.
Since the damage mitigation from armor occurs near the end of the damage calculation, abilities that reduce damage prior to this occurring are stronger than expected.
Related Perks – Nimble, Battle Forged (via having more remaining armor after attacks), Indomitable.
Damage – Critical multiplier applies last in calculation
The critical (headshot) multiplier (1.5) is applied after all other modifiers which is why damage mitigation is so important. Let’s take a case:
- HP damage is 14
- after armor damage, remaining head armor is 100
- damage going through armor is 4 (14 − 10)
- final HP damage is 6 (4 x 1.5)
If the critical multiplier was applied earlier in the formula, damage taken would have been 11 instead of 6. In that regard, the damage formula works against Steel Brow and Head Hunter, because critical hits are weaker than you might expect assuming there is a helmet to help absorb the blow.
Related Perks – Steel Brow, Head Hunter, Nimble, Battle Forged, Indomitable.
Resolve – Hidden adjacency bonus/malus
Characters receive a hidden +3 Resolve on negative morale checks for each adjacent ally. They also suffer -3 Resolve on all morale checks for each adjacent enemy. So keeping a tight formation will help with morale. Incidentally, surrounding an isolated enemy will try his Resolve harder.
Fortified Mind does not modify these hidden effects nor does Underdog negate the Resolve malus.
Related Perks – Rally the Troops, Lone Wolf, Fearsome.
Initiative – Waiting lowers Initiative by 25% for the next turn order
Using the ‘Wait’ command will incur a 25% Initiative penalty for determining turn order in the next turn. This does not actually reflect on your current Initiative, meaning that Dodge is not affected and will grant the same benefits.
Waiting should be avoided to ensure turn initiative but acting later can keep certain buffs activated.
Relentless does not influence these mechanics.
Related Perks – Adrenaline (via the cycle), Reach Advantage, Overwhelm, Indomitable.
Terminology | Abbreviations
For the purpose of this guide, I want to define the following terms:
- Early game: The first ~40 days.
- Mid game: Day ~40 to ~80.
- Late game: Crisis and beyond.
- Legendary locations: Special battles like Monolith, Goblin City, etc.
- 120/95: Shorthand for armor line. This would be 120 helmet and 95 body.
- Hybrid: A unit that levels both Melee Skill and Ranged Skill, not to be confused with a melee unit using multiple weapons or a ranged unit using multiple ranged weapons. They have to use both.
- Nimble and Forge: Nimble and Battle Forged are the go-to mitigation perks so they will be referenced a lot when talking about other perks, as most bros will want one or the other. Bros are usually distinguished as Nimble bros or Forge bros when discussing perks/builds.
- Armor Ignoring Damage (AID): Refers to a weapon’s Ignore% which determines its ability to deal HP damage through an opponent’s existing armor.
- MSK → Melee Skill
- RSK → Ranged Skill
- SKL → Melee or Ranged Skill
- MDF → Melee Defense
- RDF → Ranged Defense
- DEF → Melee or Ranged Defense
- FAT → Fatigue
- RES → Resolve
- INIT → Initiative
- FA → Fast Adaptation
- CS → Crippling Strikes
- 9L → Nine Lives
- Bags or B&B → Bags and Belts
- Mind or FM → Fortified Mind
- Brow or SB → Steel Brow
- QH → Quick Hands
- Rally → Rally the Troops
- Reach or RA → Reach Advantage
- LW → Lone Wolf
- FW → Footwork
- HH → Head Hunter
- Forge or BF → Battle Forged
- Frenzy or KF → Killing Frenzy
- Indom → Indomitable
- AoE: Area of Effect, as in attacks that can hit multiple enemies in one attack.
- ZoC: Zone of Control
- DoT: Damage over Time (such as Bleeding/Miasma)
- 3H or 3HF: 3-Headed Flail
- AFP: Additional Fur Padding attachment
- BP: Bone Platings attachment
- LPR: Light Padding Replacement attachment
A note about Blazing Deserts
At the time of writing, the Blazing Deserts (BD) DLC has been announced for Q2 of 2020 (likely later due to the virus situation). With the release of BD we will see new enemies, new items/gear for the player, and likely some balance changes. I will do my best to update the guide as quickly as possible to reflect the new game state once the DLC is launched.
Also, to make it easier to track changes to the guide post BD launch, I will be updating this section to point out any changes I make elsewhere in the guide.
This is not part of the guide or anything, but as more BD news comes out I am going to attempt to predict how it might affect the game/perks. These are going to just be loose predictions, I’m not a prophet or anything, so don’t put too much faith in this section.
⊱ Balance Changes
Given past precedent, there’s a fair chance that some perks might be getting a tweak. I don’t know how they decide on these changes, but I think it possible that the Adrenaline-Recover cycle might get hit. If we look at the past, the cycle right now is very similar to the Bags and QH situation which led to both of those perks getting nerfed. It seems unlikely that it was intended for the cycle to allow 100% Indomitable uptime, and this is probably the strongest thing in the game right now. I wouldn’t be very surprised if one of these perks gets hit to stop the cycle somehow.
The Ifrits appear to be able to harass your backline by throwing smaller dudes into their zones. This could perhaps make Rotation and Footwork useful against those.
We get some handy new grenades to throw, which presumably will have lower FAT cost with Throwing Mastery for what that is worth. More importantly, it might favor QH so that you can toss the bombs at will when they are needed. The Smoke bomb negates Zone of Control in its radius which could give you an escape tool other than Rotation/Footwork depending on if the enemies are smart enough to use the smoke to their advantage as well or not. More grenades might give you more useful things to use with Bags, but potions being used pre-battle gives you less things to use with Bags.
So far what we’ve seen here doesn’t lead me to believe that it will effect perks in any big way.
⊱ City States
The Arena appears to have you field a smaller number of troops against specific enemies. Depending on these numbers and how these battles play out could favor some perks. Taunt for example work better in smaller scale fights. Maybe Lone Wolf could do well here.
⊱ Southern Arms
New weapons means more options for Mastery perks to help with. More importantly, this blog reveals that they reworked some of the cutting injuries to make them more useful. Injuries that debuff %HP will now cut enemy HP after damage is dealt making these injuries potentially very useful instead of being nearly useless (they currently have no effect on max HP in the battle they were sustained).
Assuming that these injury changes count for all %HP injuries and not just ones inflicted by Shamshir, it means a boost for Crippling Strikes as there are now more useful injuries to inflict (less chance of wasted injuries), and also a boost to the Shamshir specifically which right now is generally outclassed by other weapons at doing its own job.
More dangerous injuries and presumably new southern enemies wielding Shamshirs and such may indirectly boost the value of Colossus, Brow, and other mitigation perks for helping avoid injuries.
⊱ Gunpowder Weapons
From what we’ve seen so far, gunpowder weapons automatically hit and do damage based on user Skill and opponent’s Defense. This means that Ranged Defense (RDF) would help mitigate damage here. Not sure if this alone will be enough to make RDF a meaningful stat, but at any rate Dodge and Anticipation might get a boost here, depending on how dangerous this ends up being. Presumably, Overwhelm would reduce damage taken as well, but we will have to wait and see.
Mortars are described as being inaccurate, but they have infinite range. Presumably RDF would be helpful here unless the mortars are unique and don’t count specifically as a ranged attack. The mortar shells also impart a new status effect and morale drops. The wording made it sound like the morale drop was guaranteed, so Mind is maybe not relevant here, but Resilient could potentially be useful depending on how nasty the “shell shocked” status is and how long it lasts.
Fast Adaptation (FA)
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Gain an additional stacking +8% chance to hit with each attack that misses an opponent. Bonus is reset upon landing a hit. Bonus is also reset if a ranged weapon hits a cover tile like a tree.
+ Improves highly valuable accuracy
+ Helps weak to average characters contribute offensively
− Low return with high base hit chance
− Usually outclassed by Gifted/Backstabber
⊱ Returns are inversely proportional to hit chance
The following tables show the expected hit chance gain (EHCG) from FA for a base hit chance (BHC).
⊱ Area of effect (AoE) & three-headed flail (3HF) attacks are limited to one stack, removed on hit
FA will check all hits on the AoE and adjust your hit chance accordingly for each hit. However you cannot gain more than one stack during the process regardless of when you gain it. Any hit during the AoE will remove stacks as you would expect. If one of your bros/allies is in the AoE arc then he is treated the same way as an enemy for the purpose of gaining and losing your stacks. Below are some examples of how it works.
Hit (lose stacks) -> miss (gain stack) -> miss (no stack) Hit (lose stacks) -> hit -> miss (gain stack) Hit (lose stacks) -> miss (gain stack) -> hit (lose stacks) Miss (gain stack) -> hit (lose stacks) -> miss (no stack) Miss (gain stack) -> miss (no stack) -> hit (lose stacks)
◦ A missed arrow that scatters into a nearby target is considered as a ‘hit’ and will remove your stacks even if the arrow ‘hits’ an obstacle such as a rock or tree.
◦ Hitting a shield is treated as a miss as you would expect and you gain a stack.
◦ A buff bubble will appear in the left of the screen where you can see how many stacks you have.
⊱ FA affects hit chance, not Melee/Ranged Skill
The base values above are provided for hit chance and not Melee Skill (MSK) or Ranged Skill (RSK). Since hit chance is calculated with both your Skill and the enemy Defense, this makes FA more useful against dodgy enemies like Shield Wall spamming Footman/Ancient Dead, Goblins at range, etc. and less useful against low defense Orcs.
As an accuracy perk, FA often gets compared against Gifted and Backstabber. In general it is worse than the both of them. Gifted provides a flat +10 stats all of the time and Backstabber is usually at least +5 accuracy. Furthermore, Gifted and Backstabber don’t fall off at high Skill levels in the same way that FA does. FA will win out when your hit chance is very low like against Shieldwalling enemies, but usually it’s better to pick Backstabber and/or Gifted over FA if a choice must be made.
If you would like to see how helpful FA is with 80 MSK against some Chosen, refer to this forum post.
⊱ FA value scales with the number of attacks
FA tends to work better on weapons that can attack multiple times per turn or with AoE as this allows you to immediately follow a miss with a boosted chance to land your second hit. Weapons that only attack once per turn have less time/action efficiency to really capitalize on stacks gained.
⊱ FA helps average recruits
It is a common sentiment in the community that any bro who might want FA should just be fired and a better bro found, but this sort of misses the point. You don’t need superstars to beat the game. You can clear the crises just fine with average guys using FA. It isn’t the greatest perk obviously, but it can get you there.
FA is all about reliability. It isn’t going to make a bro standout, but it will certainly help increase his consistency and ward against poor luck.
⊱ Early game: FA performs better
FA is better in the early game due to the nature of all of your bros being weak and accuracy being highly desired. However it does have to compete with other valuable early game perks like Colossus, Dodge, Gifted and Backstabber. That being said, this is a solid pick for any bro in the early game, particularly if they don’t have very good MSK potential in the long run. An unassuming bro with FA, Gifted, and Backstabber can be viable through end game. Specifically, early game Stun or Lash spammers can benefit a lot here.
⊱ Archers: FA for Quick Shot
Since range units cannot use Backstabber there is less perk competition for accuracy assistance leaving just Gifted and FA. Gifted is probably the better of the two but there’s plenty reason to use both. Archers are notoriously bad at low levels due to the high stat demand to use bows effectively. Fast Adaptation can really help them through the growing pains of the early levels.
It is still useful later on as well since Goblins all have high Ranged Defense (RDF) and Anticipation. For example, a 100 RSK archer only has a 31% chance to hit an Ambusher at 7 tiles with Quick Shot. Usually it is better to shoot the closer Skirmishers instead but they have decent RDF and Anticipation as well.
It isn’t just useful against Goblins. 7 range Quick Shot is -28% accuracy meaning you are in the 60s or worse against most targets after their RDF. 100 RSK archers are also very hard to find and lesser archers will of course benefit more. FA is never a bad pick here.
Crossbows/Aimed Shot won’t benefit as much due to their higher innate accuracy and lower rate of fire, but you can still use FA if you really want more accuracy.
⊱ Hybrids: FA helps with both MSK & RSK
Hybrids are a stat demanding build that runs into some trouble looking for accuracy help from perks. Backstabber won’t help your range. Gifted is fine still but it does take two of the rolls if you raise both. FA doesn’t discriminate and will boost the accuracy of both melee and range at the same time regardless of which you end up using. Due to the high stat demand of hybrids, FA can help you make it work if you need accuracy support.
⊱ Duelist, 2H Cleaver or AoE: Accuracy is essential to damage dealers
It might seem strange to some to consider FA on a damage dealing build because people usually don’t associate bros with lower skill with a high damage option. Sometimes you find a bro with great defense and other stats but his skill isn’t great. You could make him a shield tank which is fine, but another option is try and squeeze out whatever offense you can from him. Take away common offensive perks like Berserk/Frenzy/Executioner and use FA/Gifted/Backstabber instead and you can make this work. In many ways FA is more useful on damage dealers than mediocre shield bros. Helping your weak shield bro deal his weak damage more consistently isn’t very exciting. Helping your high damage bros land their high damage attacks is a lot more useful.
⊱ Counter high defense enemies
Ancient Legion with Tower Shield using Shield Wall will have 50 defense + more if they are lined up together using it. Honor Guard is 55. Footman will have 60 defense + more for adjacent allies. This means an 80 skill bro using a Mace without any surrounding help has only a 30% hit chance against Walling Legion. Even 80+ skill bros can find situations where FA can be helpful.
Crippling Strikes (CS)
“Tis but a scratch.”
Lowers the threshold to inflict injuries by 33%.
+ Improves injury rates and consistency
+ Better against harder to kill enemies
+ Helps set up Executioner strikes
− Injuries are inconsistent in their usefulness
− Killing enemies is preferable to leaving them alive and injured
− Not very useful on higher end weapons against weak/average enemies and some enemies are immune
⊱ Injury Mechanics
Injuries are inflicted by dealing a % threshold of HP damage to a target. Therefore, having higher HP makes a unit more resistant to getting injured. Crippling Strikes (CS) reduces the required threshold by 33%.
%HP Damage Threshold
%HP Damage Threshold with CS
≻ Hitting the heavy injury threshold does not guarantee a heavy injury, you may get a light injury instead
≻ Heavy injuries are not always better than light injuries
≻ There are 3 different damage types − cutting, piercing, and blunt − that inflict different injuries
≻ For a full injury list, refer to this wiki page[battlebrothers.fandom.com]
⊱ Armor Ignoring Damage
In order to make use of CS, we want to injure enemies before having to fully destroy their armor, so understanding this part of the damage formula is helpful.
After an attack damages armor, 10% of the remaining armor reduces the amount of HP damage that would be taken. See the Game Mechanics section if you need further clarity on this.
The main takeaway here is that heavier armor helps prevent injuries by reducing the amount of AID that we can deal, and weapons with a high AID are going to be much better at dealing injuries (Crossbows) than a weapon with low AID (Swords).
Check this wiki page[battlebrothers.fandom.com]to know more about damage calculation.
CS is a niche perk that suffers from a number of problems. Let’s address the negatives before we get to the positives.
⊱ Injury value is inconsistent
Some injuries are useful and others are not. More injuries inflicted doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get good ones. The heavy injuries aren’t necessarily better than light injuries either so the higher likelihood to deal heavy injuries isn’t necessarily an upside. For blunt injuries it is good but for piercing injuries it is actually bad as the light piercing injuries are more likely to be useful than heavy piercing injuries.
injuries that debuff enemy FAT aren’t very impactful as most enemies recover 20+ per turn by default and have large pools. Injuries that debuff enemy HP do not currently reduces it (but they are getting changed in Blazing Deserts and will be useful then).
The ideal injuries are those that debuff enemy Skill or damage. Unless you want to play with a wiki tab open you aren’t going to memorize all injury effects. Generally speaking, hand/arm/shoulder injuries are the good ones, as they tend to reduce Skill or damage.
⊱ A dead enemy is better than an injured enemy
This is a fairly obvious statement but it is worth pointing out. In BB, it’s a much better idea to focus fire your damage on just a few enemies at a time to quickly get kills rather than spreading damage around the enemy party. A dead enemy can’t hit you, so even if you inflict a Fractured Hand on a guy you probably will want to keep attacking him anyway and if you end up killing him before he acts then CS didn’t actually provide value to you (unless the injury was –Defense or you have Executioner on the follow-up). In rare cases, leaving an injured enemy with say a Broken Arm blocking a tile that his buddies behind him can’t fill can be useful, but usually you are better off going for kills.
Killing also triggers both positive morale checks on your side and negative ones on your opponent side, making it attractive to slay enemies as fast as possible.
⊱ Top tier weapons already injure most things reliably or kill things fast
CS usually isn’t needed to injure most enemies once you have top of the line weapons. Most two-handers or good Duelist options already injure most enemies, or will kill them in a few hits regardless. Shield bros probably have better perks to take than trying to deal injuries with their weaker damage.
⊱ Injury immune enemies
Alps, Schrats, Kraken, Dogs, and Undead are immune to injuries where CS will provide no value. Lindwurms while not technically immune are functionally immune because of their 1100 hp pool. Goblins are not immune to injuries, but due to their very small hp pool and weak armor they are already injured by almost any weapon or outright killed making CS of poor value against them, Overseers excepted.
I’ve been mostly negative about CS so far so let’s add some positivity because it isn’t all bad.
⊱ CS is better against harder to kill enemies
CS provides the most value against Orcs and Barbarians due to their higher HP than most other flesh units. Since Barbarians are the most dangerous faction in the game right now, and Chosen are not trivial to injure, this has helped CS carve some niche value. CS is needed if you want to injure Unholds.
The higher durability of these units means that they are harder to kill quickly, which means injuries have more time/likelihood to provide value. Even strong weapons will struggle to injure these enemy types, so CS can be a good way to get in some early debuffs.
⊱ Early injuries are better
CS makes you more likely to land injuries on armored targets which might otherwise avoid injury on early hits. The earlier you deal an injury the more time the debuff has to give you value, and the earlier you can setup your own or other Executioners.
⊱ Premium heavy injuries
Fractured Skull and Concussion are among the best injuries in the game. The Blunt head injury pool is rather small, so CS can really help you land these desirable injuries.
Crippling Strikes (continued)
⊱ Early game: More injuries with weak weapons
In the early and maybe into the mid game as well you don’t have top of the line weapons and dealing injuries to Raiders or tougher enemies with low tier one-handers with a shield or with low tier ranged weapons isn’t very likely without CS. So in this case CS actually might indeed make a big difference to the number of injuries you are inflicting early on.
Word of caution is that CS and Executioner provide no value against Undead/Ancient Dead. If you know what you are doing then this isn’t an issue, but if you are a new player you may want to stick to more universally helpful perks early on and specialize at higher levels.
⊱ Warbows: Increased consistency of first shot injury
Warbows with CS are a great way to tag multiple enemies early on in a fight with Injuries for later exploitation by Executioner bros (or the Warbow user himself). CS isn’t necessary for injuring some targets but picking it up does increase the reliability of getting first strike injuries against Orc Berserkers, armored Young/Raiders/Footman, etc.
⊱ Crossbows/Throwing: Anti-Chosen specialist
For the most part CS on Crossbows/Throwing is wasted because these weapons already have very high Ignore% with their respective specializations and Duelist for Throwing that makes them very effective at dealing injuries by default. To make matters worse, the heavy piercing injuries are not as good as the light piercing Injuries.
However, there is a specific use case for CS here and that is as an anti-Chosen mechanism. Without CS you have an 11-51% chance to injure on first shot (Heavy Crossbow with mastery) depending on Chosen armor loadout. With CS that goes up to 65-100%. Since Crossbows and the Spike Impaler specifically are very good against Chosen this can be worth picking up to set up your Executioner(s) so that you can kill the Chosen as quickly as possible, as well as fish for useful debuffs like Injured Shoulder, Pierced Arm Muscle, or Pierced Hand. Since Chosen are one of the most dangerous enemies in the game, this can potentially be worth a pick. Also helps against other higher armored humans and Orcs.
⊱ Dagger Puncture: Injure almost everything consistently
Because it completely ignores armor, Puncture is a great way to set up injuries and with CS you can injure just about everything in the game, even Orc Warriors. It comes with a hefty FAT cost and -15 Accuracy so you do need a bro with high FAT and Skill to make this work reliably. With Dagger Mastery you can attack three times per turn giving you a pretty good chance at landing some hits and potentially getting useful debuffs like Injured Shoulder, Piercing Arm Muscle, or Pierced Hand. Since Puncture cannot hit the head, these injuries are even more likely.
⊱ Two-Handers: CS value depends on weapon choice
For the most part CS is wasted on two-handers unless you are trying to Injure Unholds, Orc Warriors, or Chosen. For example, the 2H-Mace and Hammer are capable of injuring Orc Warriors on the first hit with CS on their single target strikes, but against other enemies it is certainly overkill to have CS here. Weapons with lower Ignore% like Greatsword, Billhook, and Warscythe can benefit from CS, though Warscythe AoE may struggle to injure even with CS.
⊱ Duelists: CS value depends on weapon choice
Depending on your weapon of choice, CS has differing value for Duelists. Duelist Orc, Mace, or Hammer are already very good at injuring most targets without CS. With CS they will even injure Chosen consistently and headshots are more likely to get Concussions or Fractured Skulls which are some of the best injuries. Lesser Dueling options like regular Axe/Cleaver/Sword/Flail/Spear will benefit more from CS as their lower innate Ignore% makes them less capable of injuries against armored targets as the former weapons. However, Duelists are fairly perk starved and CS is a bit of a luxury that can be hard to fit in.
⊱ Shamshir: CS Shamshir not as good as you would hope
Yes the Shamshir special attack does stack with CS. However, the Shamshir itself is a rather poor Duelist option due to its low base Ignore% and low armor damage. For example, Shamshir can deal up to 27 armor ignore damage and 42-46 armor damage. Mace deals up to 44 armor ignore damage and 48-75 armor damage. The higher damage makes Mace much better at dealing injuries than the Shamshir. The main reason to use Duelist Sword is for the low FAT cost and additional accuracy but the Shamshir special attack doesn’t have either of those qualities costing 20 FAT (15 with mastery) and no bonus accuracy. Sadly for the Shamshir, Duelist Mace/Hammer with CS is more reliable at inflicting injuries and for much less FAT cost due to being far better at actually damaging through armor. The main niche that the CS Shamshir can claim is that it is capable of reliably injuring Unholds while double gripped for only 4 AP and you don’t even need Duelist for that. No other (non buffed or famed) weapon is capable of this (for 4 AP) except top roll CS Crypt Cleaver. That utility doesn’t make it worth the build, but it is something unique.
Blazing Deserts (BD) hinted at some changes to cutting injury mechanics to make those injuries more useful. Shamshir certainly appreciates this, and will be worth a new look in BD.
⊱ 3-Headed Flail: Split damage is awful for dealing injuries
Because it is hitting multiple times, the 3HF is a terrible weapon for inflicting injuries even with CS. The main problem lies in its inability to deal any meaningful armor ignoring damage due to each individual attack being so weak and due to the way that remaining armor reduces the amount of HP damage taken. So that leaves the 3HF almost entirely incapable of injuring. If you want to use CS with a Flail then use the regular Flail with Duelist, not the 3HF.
⊱ Spearwall: Low damage makes injury very unlikely
Due to Spearwall halving your damage and Spears also having poor Ignore%, it is extremely bad at inflicting injuries to anything that is remotely armored. Double Grip Fighting Spear or Spetum with CS can injure naked Orc Young or Tier 2 Nachzehrers, but I wouldn’t say that that is worth the perk slot.
⊱ Turn order: Faster bros with CS can setup slower bros
You don’t actually need to have “high” initiative per say, but any old Nimble bro with CS can tag an enemy with an injury that Battle Forged units with Executioner can take advantage of later in the turn order. That’s not to say that CS should only be used on Nimble units. I’m just illustrating an example where you can use the turn order to your advantage even without really worrying about the Initiative stat. Another order based strategy would be to have your fastest Archer have Crippling to spread injuries around and your slower range units have Executioner to capitalize.
⊱ Misconception – CS is better the more bros that have it
I’ve seen this a few times and I’m not entirely sure why. I guess if you deal more injuries to the same target you are more likely to find the useful ones, but if an enemy has been injured multiple times he is probably close to dead anyway. CS is not an all or nothing perk. It’s a luxury pick that you can put on a few bros for specific reasons if you have the perk space.
⊱ Misconception – CS is needed for Executioner
No. You can deal Injuries plenty enough without CS to make fine enough use of Executioner. They are not a package deal.
⊱ Misconception – Executioner is needed to capitalize on CS
No. You can use CS and not use Executioner. They are not a package deal. However having some Executioners in your party can help gain more value out of injuries that are dealt.
⊱ Misconception – I can’t use CS because I want to fight Monolith
No. You can clear Monolith with a few dead perks. You don’t have to base all of your builds around it.
“Provides +1 trade routes and increases the amount of gold gained from trade routes. Requires coast.”
Hitpoints are increased by 25%.
+ Amazing with Nimble
+ Solid on Forge
+ Helps protect against injuries (sparing medicine for healing)
+ Returns more raw stat levels than most other stat perks
− Not as valuable if Forge + Indom spam
≻ Does not round, so you get +1 HP for every 4 points of real HP your bro has. So 60 base HP gets +15 and 63 base HP also gets +15
≻ Higher maximum HP makes you more resistant to injuries
≻ Updates along with maximum HP (also influenced by injuries and traits like Fat or Old)
Colossus is a lot stronger than you might expect since most backgrounds start with ~60 HP and that just isn’t a comfortable number to stay at. How you evaluate Colossus is going to depend a lot on whether you plan on going Nimble or Forge later on.
⊱ Nimble: Colossus, a natural fit
Colossus and Nimble go hand-in-hand to the point where it is almost an auto-pick. Nimble wants as much HP as possible because it is a multiplicative boost to a brother’s overall staying power based on their HP stat, and Colossus is a multiplicative boost to a bro’s HP stat. The synergy is obvious.
Unless you want to get greedy, every Nimble brother you expect to be seeing danger (front liners) should be taking Colossus whether the guy’s got 50 or 100 HP. It is the best passive perk that a Nimble brother can take to increase their durability. Back liners can skip Colossus if you want to be more aggressive, but the insurance can be nice to have on them as well.
⊱ Forge: Colossus protects against armor ignoring damage (AID)
Colossus and Forge is not as straightforward as Nimble. The value of Colossus here is going to depend a lot on how dependent you want to be on Indomitable to survive dangerous high AID attacks such as from Chosen.
If you look at a lot of old guides, some will tell you that you only need 60 HP on your Forge units. Some will say 70. Both are bad advice, unless they also advise that you take Indom. The game has changed with the last two DLC and currently Chosen are among the most threatening enemies in the game. Their weapons (particularly the Mace/Hammer) come with extremely high AID and damage, and Chosen can come in hordes. They are very capable of killing a 300/300 Forge bro despite his armor.
To illustrate the danger low HP Forge units can find themselves in, please refer to the following table. Test case is a Chosen with Spiked Mace (+CS and Executioner) vs. a Forge bro. Note that Additional Fur Padding (AFP) attachment reduces the amount of AID you take. Also note that the part about heavy injuries is the chance that you reach the heavy injury threshold, but you are not guaranteed a heavy injury when that happens and you could get a light injury instead.
The table shows the mean hits to death (MHtD), the chance to die in two hits (%2HD), the chance to get injured on the first hit (%1HI), and the chance to meet the heavy injury threshold on the first hit (%1HHI).
68 HP, 300/300 Forge
68 HP, 300/300 Forge (AFP)
85 HP, 300/300 Forge (Colossus)
85 HP, 300/300 Forge (Colossus + AFP)
So other than a glowing endorsement of AFP, what is going on in this table? 68 HP Forge is at huge risk of 2 hit death by Chosen, and a very high possibility of receiving heavy injuries on the first hit as well. The extra 17 HP provided by Colossus does a lot to reduce the odds of injury and death here (less so if AFP is assumed, but it takes a long time to find a lot of AFP materials). The point I’m trying to make is that low HP Forge is very vulnerable in Chosen fights, which leaves you with a few options: use Indomitable, raise your HP, or minimize contact.
If you are spamming Indomitable then raising your HP becomes a lot less meaningful due to the way Indom works in the damage calculation (see the Indom section). Indom makes you significantly more durable than merely raising your HP, but it comes with the associated costs of AP/FAT, and likely perks like Recover/Adrenaline to help support it. You are also vulnerable to things like Daze or Broken Nose (from Chosen Mace) which could prevent your next Indom. So another option for your Forge guys could be to take Colossus, raise your HP, and that makes you less dependent on Indom to survive and frees up your AP/FAT/perks to do other things.
There are also other enemies that having a higher hp count will help you against such as Crossbows/Unholds/Schrats/Goblins/etc.
⊱ Colossus yields a high stat return
At only 60 HP Colossus is already +15, which is 3.75 level ups worth of max hp rolls (4). So with little or no investment into HP Colossus is already outpacing the other raw stat boosting perks in terms of raw numbers. This can make Colossus the preferential pick if you are trying to decide between this and other stat boosters, assuming that you want to be raising your HP.
⊱ Injury avoidance
Colossus helps you avoid injuries and this effect should not be underappreciated. Injuries are not just really annoying, but some enemies have Executioner to further punish your injuries. Better not to give them that boost.
The following enemies have Executioner: Raiders, Direwolves, Barbarian Chosen/King/Madman, Noble/Hedge Knight, Mercenary Archer, Master Archer, Cultists, and The Conqueror.
Injuries can also disable or at least severely handicap a character for several days. An opportunity cost that is increased by the financial cost of possibly having to pay for medicine or treatment.
⊱ Early Game: value first pick
Colossus is one of the best picks as a first perk. In the early game when you are running around in Thug armor (30-70), gaining 15+ HP from Colossus is actually a pretty big increase in your total durability. I recommend the majority of your early game team to go Nimble in the future anyway so taking Colossus and raising HP is right in line with that strategy, and future Forge units will really appreciate it as well early on when they don’t have good armor.
The value of Colossus here goes beyond just the raw durability. You are much more resistant to injuries with 80-90+ HP than with 60 HP. Injuries are big a problem in the early game because you don’t have reserve bros to sub in and because you really don’t want to be spending your little money on Temple healing, Medical Supplies, or replacement bros. Too many injuries early on can end a campaign.
The extra HP also makes you more resistant to Brigand Marksmen which tend to give new players some headaches. Furthermore, Raiders and Direwolves have Executioner so running around with injuries early on makes them more dangerous to your already fragile bros.
⊱ Nimble: increased efficiency
Colossus is fantastic with Nimble. No amount of HP is too much HP for Nimble. Use Colossus if you expect your Nimble bro to be seeing danger.
⊱ Forge: a safety net
60-70 HP isn’t safe for Forge in the post DLC climate. Colossus can help you reach a comfortable level. If you are going to be using Indomitable with your heavy armor then you can get away with a lower HP count as Indomitable + armor does a wonderful job at mitigating armor ignoring damage, but without Indomitable a low HP count is risky.
⊱ Miasma: extra choking time
Miasma will sap your HP each turn so having more is obviously better. Having a high HP count is important in the Monolith where you have a long battle and multiple Priests to contend with.
Nine Lives (9L)
“Makes your cat stronger each time he gets knocked out. But after 9 faints he stays down for the rest of the quest.”
Once per battle, upon receiving a killing blow, survive instead with a few hit points left.
+ Better against high damage enemies
+ Useful for sacrificial decoys
– Does nothing for you if you aren’t dying
– Doesn’t solve the problem if you are dying; very high possibility you die anyway
≻ When it procs, saves your life with 5-10 HP returned
≻ Can be proc’d by DoT effects like Bleeding/Miasma
⊱ 9L doesn’t help prevent the problem it protects against
9L has a fairly low reputation in the community because most of the time people would rather choose defensive perks that are always helping rather than a perk that might save you when things are going badly. Taking 9L is like playing with one less perk the majority of the time in exchange for an unreliable insurance policy in the case of disaster, but if you chose a better perk then maybe disaster wouldn’t have struck in the first place.
⊱ 9L leaves you crippled and at death door
While 9L may save your life once, it doesn’t solve whatever problem is occurring that caused your life to drop so low in the first place. The enemies are still there and your brother is still in danger. So unless 9L gave you just enough time to solve the problem, odds are your bro is going down next turn or worse later in the same turn order. If you’ve been pummeled into 9L activation there’s a very good chance you’ve got some injuries too and if one of them cuts your defense then you are in big trouble. Or worse yet, if you are bleeding you may just immediately die anyway.
⊱ 9L is better against dangerous enemies
Statistically speaking, 9L is actually pretty good, especially against the more dangerous enemies in the game that can kill even high leveled brothers in a few hits. You can’t just blindly follow calculator numbers though. You are better off taking a perk that is going to help protect you from damage and injuries during the fight rather than hoping 9L saves you. Furthermore, enemies like to focus on bros with low HP, so your injured and dying 9L bro is going to take a lot of aggro and likely die. You want to avoid/prevent these situations in the first place.
With all of those points in mind, people usually pass on 9L in favor of defensive perks that are more consistently helpful, or use escape perks such as Rotation/Footwork. There are enough good defensive perks in the game that it is hard to find room for 9L.
If you want to make use of 9L, consider also grabbing Rotation/Footwork, Rotation on other bros, and carry bandages on the 9L bro and other party members.
⊱ Early game: High return on durability
In the early game when your armor/hp are low, 9L actually offers the greatest durability boost of the row one perks. It has to compete with other good defensive perks like Colossus, Dodge, Gifted, etc. which scale better later into the game, but if raw durability right now is what you most want then you can pick up 9L.
⊱ Designated Martyrs
This isn’t a strategy that I am much of a fan of because I think it is needlessly costly, a waste of XP, and not necessary. However some people like to hire trash units like Beggars or other cheap classes and send them into suicide positions to protect better units. If these guys survive long enough to level up, 9L is a pretty good pick to allow them to distract for an additional hit. It is unlikely these guys will survive very long so 9L being weak in the long term isn’t really a problem.
Any disappointing recruit can also take up this role instead of being outright dismissed. Kiting enemies away from the group or baiting them to strategic positions and protecting more valuable team members from dangerous opponents.
⊱ Anti-Barbarians: Chosen hit hard
Barbarians are the most dangerous faction in the game right now because they like to swarm you with a bunch of dangerous 2Handers that do a lot of armor ignoring damage. Since Barbarian two-handers are capable of 2-4 shooting most bros that aren’t using Indomitable, 9L actually has a better chance than usual to be meaningful here. Just keep in mind that Chosen have Cleavers that might cheese through your 9L with bleeds and they also have Crippling Strikes so even if you do survive you are going to get injured.
⊱ Anti-Hexe: 9L protects against death by damage sharing
9L can make Hexe fights a little easier. If there is a damage sharing hex on one of your bros but they have 9L then you can still attack the Hexe with impunity because 9L will save you. Just make sure your bro isn’t in danger of Beasts before you wreck his health attacking the Hexe.
Bags and Belts (Bags)
“You aren’t a real adventurer unless you are carrying a hundred things that you will never use.”
Unlock two extra bag slots. Items placed in bags no longer give a penalty to maximum Fatigue, except for two-handed weapons.
+ Offers versatility
+ Can be worth a chunk of FAT
– Most of the time the base 2 bag slots are plenty enough
– Need to have a good reason to use all of the bag slots to make this a worthwhile pick
≻ Items in bag normally cost half as much FAT (rounded down in your favor), Bags eliminates this cost (except for two-handed weapons)
≻ INI scales with current FAT, so the reduced FAT cost increases INI
⊱ Do you really need 4 bag slots?
Bags is a fun perk but usually not needed. Two bag slots is most of the time plenty for your needs. Even builds that like using multiple different weapons are usually just fine with the regular two slots. You probably have a Dagger on most bros by default so taking away the Dagger for extra bag space is the first step. You shouldn’t be using Bags just so that you can carry a bandage and a net for example. You really shouldn’t be using Bags so that you can carry four bandages or five stacks of arrows.
⊱ Bags provides a Fatigue benefit
Bags does spare FAT for carrying things (except two-handers) and this can add up to a meaningful amount of FAT in some cases. For example, carrying a Heater Shield and a one-handed weapon in the bag is going to come to around 12 FAT depending on the weapon. That’s comparable to Brawny, +2 more bag slots, but if you are never going to use the pocketed weapon and shield then this doesn’t mean much. If you want to carry various two-handed weapons then you will still have to pay the FAT cost of carrying those.
⊱ Bags offers versatility which can be valuable
Bags is all about versatility (and some FAT is nice). If you plan on using whatever you place in those bag slots on a regular basis then Bags can provide good value to you and open up your options. If you never end up using those extra items then you are wasting your perk.
Hybrids tend to have the most uses for Bags, but they also tend to be highly perk starved so you may decide it isn’t worth fitting in.
⊱ Ranged units do not need Bags for ammo.
Some people seem to like Bags on their ranged units. I want to make it clear that you do not need Bags to carry more arrows. You will never need more than two stacks of arrows or a single stack of bolts (that’s counting the designated slot for ammunition). You don’t need Bags for arrows. Before you take Bags on your ranged units ask yourself how often will you use the items in those extra bag slots and if the answer is almost never then Bags isn’t doing much for you.
⊱ Throwing units do not need Bags for ammo
I see it often that people say that Bags is a must pick for Throwing builds. No. You will never need 25 Throwing weapons. In the same way that you rarely use more than 15 arrows you are not going to use more than 15 Throwing weapons. If you want some ammo insurance then bring two Throwing stacks and use your last slot for a Bow or Crossbow. This has the added benefit of giving you a long range option that Throwing lacks while also providing you with plenty of ammunition. Furthermore, it doesn’t cost you a perk since you can take Bow/Crossbow mastery instead of Bags. You do not need Bags for Throwing builds unless you are using those last two slots for some other reason that you deem worthwhile, but not for more ammunition.
⊱ The Shield Bearer: Carry a bunch of shields
Barbarians and Orcs really like smashing shields and you can use this to your advantage. Every turn they spend smashing your shield is a turn they aren’t smashing your face. Where does Bags come into play? You can bring 5 Heater shields if you really want to go in on this idea. That’s a little impractical given that Heaters can be hard to find in easy supply outside of fighting Nobles. More reasonable is carrying one or two backup shields, one of them could even be an Orc shield for the extra durability.
Bags is helpful here not necessarily because of the slots but because of the FAT. Carrying a bunch of shields or Orc shields costs a lot of FAT. If your tank unit wants to carry multiple shields and it puts his FAT too low that it blocks his Adrenaline cycle (see Adrenaline) then Bags can help you get your FAT back up to the proper level. You can use the other extra slots to carry different one-handed weapons, a Whip, etc.
⊱ The Net guy: Carry a bunch of Nets
One way to make use of a crummy bro is to just have him spam Nets on things to help out the other bros. Nets can make a huge difference in some difficult battles and you certainly don’t need Bags to make use of them, but having a guy bring 5 Nets into battle and lock down a dangerous enemy is pretty funny, even if not an incredible use of the Brother.
⊱ The Everyman: He can do it all
This is a frontline Shieldbro that carries a bunch of different one-handed weapons and a Whip to use depending on the situation. He needs to have a lot of FAT to make this work because you won’t be able to take a bunch of weapon specializations. One example might be a Warhammer, Flail, Whip, Cleaver, and a Spear or backup shield. You get a good armor option, a good flesh option, a headshot option, a control option, and possibly a backup shield or even a net depending on how you want to play it. You should probably pick at least one Mastery as your main option (Cleaver for the Whip accuracy is recommended) and use the other weapons if the situation works for it. Quick Hands is a must here.
⊱ Frontline Duelist Hybrid
Bags is not necessary to run a frontline hybrid Duelist, but there is a variant of the build that can appreciate it. Without Bags the build would look something like 2 Throwing stacks and a melee option, or 1 Throwing stack, melee option, and a Whip. With Bags the build is 2 Throwing stacks, a Cleaver, a Whip, and a final option for versatility such as a Net, emergency shield, or even an anti-armor Duelist option like Mace/Hammer.
⊱ Backline Hybrid
There are many ways you can build Hybrids and Bags isn’t strictly necessary, but it does increase your options. One example would be bringing a Crossbow, Billhook, one-handed weapon, Heater Shield, and a Whip. The non-Bags version of this would skip the one-handed weapon and Shield. If you plan on having this guy Rotate forward or maybe hold the back flank and you want him to be able to convert into a Shieldbro mid fight then you have a reasonable use case to carry all of these items.
“It’s over Anakin! I have the high ground!”
Action Point (AP) costs for movement on all terrain is reduced by -1 to a minimum of 2 AP per tile, and Fatigue cost is reduced to half. Changing height levels also has no additional AP cost anymore.
+ Amazing in rough terrain or maps with hills
+ Can save a lot of Fatigue
∽ Better with some weapons than others
− Not doing much in flat maps
⊱ Movement costs
2 AP + 2 FAT
2 AP + 1 FAT
2 AP + 4 FAT
2 AP + 2 FAT
3 AP + 6 FAT
2 AP + 3 FAT
Murky Water (Swamp)
4 AP + 14 FAT
3 AP + 7 FAT
≻ Changing terrain elevation increases AP cost by 1 and FAT cost by 8. Pathfinder eliminates the extra AP cost and reduces the extra FAT cost to 4. So changing elevation on plains costs 6 with Pathfinder instead of 12, and no extra AP
≻ Plains, Forest, and Snow have elevation but Swamps do not
≻ Athletic/Clubfooted effects take place after Pathfinder for calculating FAT movement costs
Pathfinder is notorious among the community for being loved by some and ignored by others. If there was any perk in the game that came down to player preference then this might be the one. I recommend you give it a try and decide for yourself whether or not you think it is worth the slot. Personally I take it on everyone now and recommend it at least on some builds, but I also played the game for over two years never using it at all. You don’t have to be that extreme about it, It isn’t all or nothing. Some weapons/builds benefit more than others.
⊱ Pathfinder makes a huge difference in annoying terrain
Refer to the chart in the Mechanics section to see how Pathfinder effects movement values. Pathfinder always allows perfect movement on normal tiles regardless of height changes. It also allows perfect movement on flat Forest/Snow/Mud. Lastly, elevated Forest/Snow/Mud and also Swamps drop to 3AP cost, giving you +1 movement on these terrains compared to normal.
With Pathfinder you will always be able to move at least 3 tiles in any terrain at worst. Without Pathfinder, moving in Snow/Forest is trickier especially if there are height changes, and Swamps are a nightmare.
⊱ Pathfinder saves Fatigue
Also not to be forgotten is the halved FAT cost of movement. On flat normal terrain this isn’t too noticeable but in Swamps or changing height levels this starts to save you a lot of FAT. In some ways this is similar to weapon specializations as far as saving FAT goes, but of course it depends on how much you move. Weapon specializations may save you more FAT but it isn’t too uncommon for Pathfinder to yield more FAT than Brawny even if the perks don’t really do the same thing. Not trying to say that you should take Pathfinder instead of Brawny, just pointing out that Pathfinder is a FAT perk as well as a mobility perk. Taking Pathfinder makes it easier to skip Recover for example, depending on build of course.
⊱ Pathfinder isn’t as good in some cases
The biggest downside to Pathfinder is going to be the inconsistency in the value that it provides. Generally speaking it is far better to let the enemy come to you than for you to run towards them. So in battles where you don’t end up moving or repositioning much, Pathfinder isn’t really helping you. It also doesn’t do much in flat normal terrain because you can already move freely there anyway.
However, Pathfinder is so nice to have in rough terrain that it can be worth taking even if it has low value sometimes. Fighting Ancient Dead in the swamp or Goblins in a map with a bunch of hills is a real pain without Pathfinder. Sometimes relocating your team out of the water or onto a high ground can be the difference between winning a fight handily or the fight getting nasty. There’s also usually a fair number of Barbarian camps in the snow and having a Pathfinder advantage over them is nice.
Pathfinder is good on any unit. The use cases are going to point out specific weapons that particularly appreciate not losing their movement.
⊱ Polearms: Mobility is one of their main advantages
Since Polearm Mastery lowers the AP cost of Polearms to 5 they are able to move 2 tiles per turn, even change elevation and still attack. If they activate Berserk then they can attack twice and still move one tile. This mobility is a huge advantage for Polearm users and one of the reasons why Polearm Mastery is so good. Therefore it really hurts when terrain or height changes block your Polearm’s mobility advantage. Pathfinder helps Polearms maintain this advantage in all battles.
⊱ Crossbows: Can move once after shooting & reloading to reposition
Crossbows can shoot and reload for 7 total AP, leaving them 2 AP left to move. This mobility allows them to reposition a little bit each turn to try and claim high ground tiles, stay in cover, or get clear shots. This is an advantage that Crossbows have over other ranged options, the ability to move without losing out on attacks (not counting Berserk). Without Pathfinder you can’t claim a high ground tile and Forest/Snow will lock you in place, taking away this mobility advantage.
⊱ Two-Handers with mastery can move & attack even when capped on Fatigue
Using a two-handed weapon single target attack with mastery costs 12 FAT. Pathfinder on normal flat terrain drops the cost of movement from 4 to 2. Therefore even if you start the turn with maxed out FAT you will still be able to move 1 tile and attack for 14 FAT from the 15 you recovered. This is not possible without Pathfinder (unless you are Athletic). This also works on flat snow/forest/mud allowing you to move for 3 Fatigue and swing for 12. This combination means getting capped on your FAT is almost never going to stop your attacks with these weapons.
Pathfinder also allows two-handers to move in a Swamp tile or elevated Forest/Snow and still attack (3AP + 6AP) whereas without Pathfinder these terrain types would prevent them from moving and attacking.
⊱ Tanks: Claim important tiles
Tanks usually want to grab a position and then hold there, so they may not benefit as much from Pathfinder as others. However, grabbing a crucial tile in-between the lines or running up a hill to secure space for your team can be important.
Pathfinder works especially well there in conjunction with Adrenaline to reach the enemy back line.
They stack and Pathfinder applies first. So Pathfinder halves cost and then Athletic drops it by a flat 2. This means you can move through flat tiles for 0 FAT. Pathfinder halves and then Clubfooted increases by 2. This means that they cancel out on flat normal tiles, and on other terrain types the combination of the two is still better than a non-Pathfinder normal unit.
⊱ Kraken is in a swamp
The Kraken fight is in a swamp. Moving around in a swamp without Pathfinder is a real pain. If you plan on fighting the Kraken then Pathfinder is recommended. It has been beaten without Pathfinder however, so don’t feel like it is forced.
⊱ Goblin City is in a mountain
The Goblin City spawns on a mountain tile which means there is a decent chance the map generation will be disgusting. Pathfinder can help here.
⊱ Misconception – Pathfinder is all or nothing for your team
No. There’s nothing wrong with having it on just some guys as some builds benefit more than others. That being said there is indeed a value to acknowledge in having it on everyone as it guarantees team cohesion on any terrain type, but that’s a high teamwide cost in perks so you can make the call if you think that it is worth it.
“It’s one hell of a drug.”
Unlocks the ‘Adrenaline’ skill which puts you first in the turn order for the next round.
+ Turn manipulation is very strong
+ Can lead to decisive opening turns or clutch timing pushes
+ Can be used with Recover to infinitely cycle other strong skills
∽ Relatively more useful the slower your bro is normally
− Expensive to use
≻ Costs 0 AP and 20 Fatigue
≻ Can be used on the same turn as Recover since it costs 0 AP
≻ If multiple characters use Adrenaline then Initiative will determine their turn order
There’s a lot to talk about Adrenaline because it enables a lot of different strategies. The 20 FAT cost is not cheap but sometimes just one or two rounds of Adrenaline can ‘win’ you the fight. There’s also incredible synergy with Recover to help offset the FAT cost in longer battles.
⊱ Adrenaline gives you very strong opening turns or timing pushes
The most straightforward use of Adrenaline is to spend your first turn and round ‘waiting’. Most enemies will move several tiles toward you and end their turn. Then on your second turn phase you move toward them and attack and then use Adrenaline. Next round starts and you attack again giving you 1-2 rounds of attacks in before the enemy can retaliate or defend themselves. Alternatively, use your first move to move around the edge and use Adrenaline. Then start the next turn by jumping into the enemy backline which works very well against Goblins and other ranged enemies.
Of course you can use Adrenaline beyond the early turns as well for clutch timing control. There are too many possibilities to point them all out. Sometimes you just ‘need’ to go before a critical enemy and having Adrenaline available for those situations can turn things around.
Attacking before an enemy can provide more benefits than just trying to get well timed killing blows. A damaged enemy could very well get injured or drop morale from taking that damage which may weaken their ability to hurt you if they do get their turn. You can also use weapons that have their own debuffs or control abilities, where going first may be crucial.
⊱ Better on slower bros
The slower you bro is compared to the enemies that you are facing the more you gain from Adrenaline. In that sense Adrenaline is better on Forge units because they are relatively slow. Nimble bros even without INI investment will naturally outspeed heavy enemies like Warriors and Ancient Dead so there is a bit less enemies to jump ahead on with Adrenaline. That’s not to say you can’t use Adrenaline with Nimble, just that it is slightly better on Forge to help counter the low Initiative inherent with heavy armor.
⊱ Adrenaline and Recover synergy
Adrenaline costs a lot of FAT especially if used multiple times per fight. So it’s often paired with Recover but the synergy goes well beyond simply getting your FAT back. Since Adrenaline costs 0 AP, you can use it and Recover on the same turn regardless of your FAT. If you start your turn fully Fatigued then you can Recover and then Adrenaline using the FAT you just recovered allowing you to immediately impact the fight again next turn instead of waiting.
If you have enough FAT then you can also Adrenaline first and then Recover instantly getting back half of the cost of using Adrenaline. These interactions with Recover allow for some very powerful strategies often dubbed as the Adrenaline-Recover cycle/loop which you can combine with other skills/effects like Indomitable/Shieldwall/Riposte/Reach Advantage/etc. to allow these skills to be always active.
⊱ The Adrenaline cycle − How it works
The cycle is hard to grasp without an example of how it works so let’s get into it. The most common abuser is Indomitable which is a very strong skill on its own and becomes arguably broken when combined with the cycle. The way the cycle is abused deals with the way Initiative determines turn order. When you are highly Fatigued your Initiative is way down which makes you go late in the turn order. This is great for extending the time of skills like Indomitable which won’t turn off until your turn starts again. Also using the ‘wait turn’ command makes you take a 25% Initiative penalty for the next turn order which is great for this purpose.
So the basic idea is that you use Indomitable and all of your Fatigue and wait turn so that next turn you are highly fatigued and go last allowing your Indomitable to sustain for the first turn and most/all of the second turn. Then since you are capped on Fatigue, you use Recover and Adrenaline and then next turn use Indomitable and your Fatigue and wait turn again allowing Indomitable to be online 100% of the time. Since you go first because of Adrenaline on the first turn you have full Indomitable that turn. Since you go last on the second turn your Indomitable stays online for all of the second turn as well. Rinse and repeat. Because of Recover you will never run out of Fatigue and can maintain this indefinitely (provided you don’t get Dazed/Injured). The cycle works better with heavy armor to guarantee you go last on every other turn. Even fully fatigued Nimble will sometimes outspeed enemies causing your Indomitable to turn off before they act.
⊱ The Adrenaline cycle − Examples
Using a numbers example, let’s say you have a 2Handed Mace without Mastery (15 cost swings) and Indomitable and you are fully Fatigued with a FAT pool of 77. Because you are fully fatigued you go last and recover 15 FAT to start your turn like normal. You have 62 FAT and cast Recover and then Adrenaline. 62 → 31 → 51. Next turn starts and you have 36 out of 77 FAT. You swing your Mace (15) and cast Indom (25) and you go up to 76 FAT and you use ‘wait turn’. Your Indom stays active for all of this turn and all of the next turn because you are going to go last due to your heavy armor and high FAT. Next turn Recover → Adrenaline and do it all again.
If your 2Hander has Mastery you can run this with only 68 max FAT which is pretty strong considering you wouldn’t expect an uninspiring pool of 68 being capable of infinite spamming of Adrenaline + Indomitable and still attacking. With an 84 FAT pool you can infinitely cycle Indomitable and Shieldwall allowing for the most effective tank build in the game. You can also use the cycle to allow for infinite Riposte or Spearwall or etc. If your brother has Iron Lungs (+4 FAT Recovery per turn) then you can run any cycle strategy with 12 less max FAT.
⊱ The Adrenaline cycle − Drawbacks
The obvious downside to any cycle strategy is that every other turn you are spending on Recover and Adrenaline instead of acting. For a super tank build or Riposte build this isn’t a problem, but for an attacker like a 2Hander build you are essentially halving your damage output in exchange for more than doubling your durability (See Indom section for details). That might seem to cancel itself out but the reality is that you don’t have to spend the turn setting up the cycle if you aren’t in danger and you can just do regular attacks each turn if the Indomitable isn’t required. Basically the cycle exists for you as an insurance policy to keep you safe in dangerous situations and then when your brother is freed from that danger he can go back to being a regular aggressive 2Hander. Or he can tank with the cycle while other bros deal the bulk of the damage.
The cycle can be broken by Daze status and injuries, so be weary of enemy Chosen Maces in particular.
⊱ Adrenaline-Recover + Skill cycle
I explained this above so check there if you skipped to this section. Many players consider this to be the strongest thing in the game right now, so do not be shocked if it gets tweaked in the Blazing Deserts launch.
⊱ Early game: Battles are short and units are fragile
Because early fights are short you have plenty of Fatigue to burn, you could reasonably cast Adrenaline several times. Both your bros and the enemies are very fragile so getting an extra turn of attacks in can make an enormous difference offensively and defensively. Adrenaline is good against the common early game Brigands and Beasts you will be fighting.
⊱ Early turn blitz – Win the fight quickly
Use Adrenaline to go all in on the first few turns in an attempt to gain a decisive opening that aims to win the fight quickly. This tactic works better the more bros on your team have Adrenaline and the lesser enemies are faced, but it can still be effective with just one or a few bros using it. Barbarians try doing this to you and it is terrifying. You can do it to your enemies as well.
⊱ Heavy armor is slow
Adrenaline is great for negating the natural slowness of heavy armor, provided you are willing and able to spend the Fatigue.
⊱ Stagger/Daze/Control (2H Hammer/Mace/Polearm/Whip/etc.) abilities want to go first
Stagger and Daze are both handy debuffs that will knock the enemy down the turn order or mitigate their damage output. Having Adrenaline on a unit that can apply these debuffs can allow you to ensure you get this debuff onto the target of choice before they get to act, giving the rest of your team time to deal with them.
You can also use Adrenaline with a Mace Stun or Whip Disarm to make sure you can stop a key opponent before they get to act.
You can also use Adrenaline to set up Overwhelm stacks. This is a bit tricky to make use of consistently since Adrenaline is going to cost a bunch of Fatigue which will slow you down when you can’t use it. Cycle users are usually single target 2Handers who probably have better perks to pick than adding 1 Overwhelm stack to their attack every other turn.
⊱ Polearms cost little Fatigue and have perk space to use Adrenaline
Backrow Polearm units tend to have more perks to spare and Polearms don’t cost much Fatigue (aside from the Warscythe) giving you two reasons that you might want to consider picking up Adrenaline here as a utility option for them.
⊱ Super tanks use the cycle to achieve the best tank build in the game
Tanks love to abuse Indom/Shieldwall cycle and are also a great candidate to Adrenaline flank the enemy backline to spook enemy range units into running around instead of shooting. This is a key perk to the most durable tank build in the game.
Super tanks spamming the Indom + Shieldwall cycle provide no offensive contribution, so you can focus entirely on defensive stats and perks. If you want a more balanced tank that can still fight then the cycle is still good but less important, as you may decide you want to be attacking.
⊱ Spearwall with Adrenaline can allow the wall to hold through turn 3, or infinite with the cycle
Infinite Spearwall aside with the cycle, there is another interesting way to use Adrenaline with Spearwall. Without Adrenaline you usually have to pop Spearwall on turn 1 because enemies will out speed you on turn 2 and close the ranks before you get your chance. Putting up the Wall on turn 1 means that it will deactivate at some point in turn 2 and if you’ve been breached then you can’t re-enable. With Adrenaline you can use Adrenaline on turn 1, start the Spearwall on turn 2 and use ‘wait turn’ to slow your Initiative for turn 3. With heavy armor you will likely be slow enough to go last on turn 3. This means your Spearwall is active all through turn 2 and 3 even if you get breached (assuming Mastery). This gives you an extra turn of Spearwall guaranteed compared to not having Adrenaline.
⊱ Anti-Barbarian: Adrenaline the Adrenaline users
Beat Barbarians at their own game by using your own Adrenaline to try and outspeed their Adrenaline. You will need more Initiative than them to pull this off though so Nimble is recommended if this is your plan.
⊱ Anti-Hexe: Adrenaline can pseudo negate one turn of Charm
Hexe fights are a lot about timing and Hexe are pretty fast making it difficult to out speed them. Getting a Mace bro near her and using Adrenaline can be a great way to try and get a Stun in which can potentially win the fight. Even if you miss your Stun you can use ‘wait turn’ and there’s a pretty good chance the Hexe will go for you since you are right next to her. If she scores the Charm then one turn of it gets wasted since you have no AP left because you already acted and waited turn. If you have Resilient as well then the Charm will wear off without ever actually doing anything. Furthermore, you can use Adrenaline in your formation to make sure you out speed a charmed brother who is posing a danger. One downside though is that if you get Charmed there is a high chance your bro will pop Adrenaline while Charmed which may end up wasting his Fatigue if he is still Charmed next turn or out of position.
⊱ Anti-Kraken: Save a brother or get back into formation
Adrenaline can be good in the Kraken fight since the fight is largely about making sure you don’t get dragged around by the Tentacles. This process is dependent on understanding the turn order and who is going to get dragged and when. Adrenaline can help you rescue another brother from getting dragged. You can also use it on yourself after you got dragged to try and get back into formation before you get grappled again.
⊱ Misconception – I must use Recover to use Adrenaline
No. While there are a lot of synergies with the two of course that we’ve gone over, they aren’t necessarily a package deal. For example, a Polearm uses 12 Fat per turn or 24 if you Berserk. Even without Recover you could reasonably cast Adrenaline several times a fight.
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Unlocks the ‘Recover’ skill which allows for resting a turn in order to reduce accumulated Fatigue by 50%.
+ Crucial for some builds to function
+ Fuels other strong skills
+ Probably mandatory for the Kraken*
− Not needed on many builds in majority of battles
− Costs a whole turn to use
≻ Costs 9 AP
≻ Rounds odd numbers up in favor of the user. As in, using Recover on 51 FAT returns 26 FAT
≻ Can be used after a 4 AP attack that procs Berserk
≻ Recovers on current FAT, not maximum FAT
≻ Lowering current FAT will raise current INI by an equal amount
⊱ Recover fuels other strong skills
Recover is a well-respected perk in the community, dare I even say overrated. It is easy to see why. Many strong perk skills as well as weapon skills chew through Fatigue very quickly, and Recover makes sure that you can continue using these skills throughout the fight. Recover is the fuel one needs to keep spamming expensive skills.
Wanting to spam skills like Adrenaline and Indom are the biggest reasons why you might want to be using Recover. Most weapons can function well enough on a normal FAT pool, but using these skills multiple turns a fight on top of weapon usage will drain FAT extremely quickly, making Recover handy to continue usage.
⊱ Recover isn’t for everyone
However, some players seem to slap Recover onto every bro assuming that it is going to be necessary or perhaps as a safety net. The truth is that many builds don’t need Recover at all. Unless you want to fight the Kraken (where you are very likely going to want 12 bros who have Recover), you could reasonably clear every other encounter in the game, including the other legendary locations, without using Recover at all. Again, some builds really want it, many don’t need it.
In some cases, Recover is a win-more perk. For example, by the end of a 20+ zombie fight you are probably pretty Fatigued, but do you really need Recover to mop of what is left? Probably not. Most fights are decidedly won in the first few turns, and your bros should have enough FAT to operate for a few turns without needing to Recover. Using Recover at the end of the fight is unlikely to matter, and may even slow you down. Make no mistake, spending a whole turn on Recover is a huge cost. So unless your build completely doesn’t function without FAT to burn then you don’t really need Recover.
How much you care about Recover is going to depend a lot on your builds and playstyle. If you are highly aggressive then fights can usually be won before Fatigue becomes a problem. If you like a slower and more defensive team then Recover might be more useful for you.
⊱ Early game: Recover usually isn’t needed
Two builds that might want early Recover however are dedicated disablers (Mace/Whip) and Flail Lash spammers. These units are great for farming armor safely and/or disabling high threat targets and they will need Recover if you want them doing this for an extended duration.
⊱ Adrenaline synergy
Adrenaline really enjoys having Recover. See the Adrenaline section for details.
⊱ Berserk synergy: Kill into Recover
Recover costs 9 AP. Berserk regains 4 on a kill. Landing a kill with a first 4 AP attack means you can Recover after Berserk which is an efficient use of AP/Fatigue. Duelists/2H Cleaver/Bows/Throwing are the most likely to benefit as they really want enough FAT to attack twice per turn and they have the damage output to more reliably activate Berserk. That being said you can run these without Recover as well, so while this synergy is great, don’t feel like Recover is an auto-pick for these builds. Of these, Orc Duelists and 2H Cleaver are more interested in Recover than others.
⊱ Initiative builds
Because INI drops as you gain FAT, Initiative builds that tend to accumulate a lot of FAT can appreciate having Recover to help reset. For example, an Overwhelm Warbow or 1Hander might appreciate Recover here, but a more FAT neutral 2H Mace wouldn’t benefit as much.
If using Dodge and having high FAT, Recover also helps you gain some Dodge value back.
Fencers enjoy spamming Lunge constantly and Lunge does more damage at high Initiative (low Fatigue). Fencers can also easily activate Berserk for Recover efficiency.
⊱ 2Handers can deal high damage on capped Fatigue
2Handers generally do not need Recover unless you are pairing it with Indom spam. AoE attacks are expensive yes, but you should have enough of a FAT pool to use them a few times after which you can switch to single target attacks. Since 2Handers cost 15 to single target (12 w/ Mastery), you will always be able to attack with your natural 15 recovery. The single target attacks also do more base damage than the AoE attacks. So using Recover just to use more AoE is actually not that impressive when you consider you give up a whole turn just so that you can hit 2 or 3 enemies next turn with a weaker attack when you could have just taken those two turns using two single target attacks. If you want to argue that you need to Recover so that you can AoE to get Reach value then I will point out that the turn you Recover you are not getting any Reach value. Recover can help 2H builds but it is by no means a necessity.
⊱ Tanks usually want Recover
Tanks like spamming Indom and Shieldwall, maybe Adrenaline, Taunt, Rotation, Shield Bash, Mace Stun, Spearwall, Destroy Armor, etc etc. 1Handers are more expensive than 2Handers for their two swings, and defensive skills are expensive. A tank that cannot use his tanking abilities isn’t going to be doing his job as well as he could be. Recover is also a crucial piece of the Adrenaline cycle for 100% Indomitable uptime, which is the best tanking build, see the Adrenaline section for details on how that works.
⊱ Dagger specialist – Puncture
3x Puncture spam is extremely expensive, costing 45 Fat per turn with Mastery. Recover is a must for this build to continue Puncturing.
⊱ Legendary locations feature long battles
The legendary locations are long fights that will test your endurance. I’ve beaten most of them without Recover but it is a good skill to have in these fights. Kraken is a different story because not only is the fight long but you will repeatedly be forced to try and free yourself from grabs (15 FAT) and its in a swamp. If you can’t get out of the grabs then you will die. Recover might well be a must-pick for this fight.
Reddit user MrDadyPants has beaten Kraken without Recover. Info here.
There’s a lot of useful and expensive skills that you can get. Spamming these skills will likely need Recover to support it. However if it something you might use once or twice a battle then Recover shouldn’t be necessary.
⊱ Pathfinder makes it easier to skip Recover
Pathfinder saves FAT over the course of a fight and can make a big difference to the viability of a fully Fatigued unit still operating decently without Recover. See the Pathfinder section for details.
⊱ Rally doesn’t need Recover
You might think Recover is an auto-pick for your Bannerman so that you don’t cap out and miss on a Rally. In my experience he really doesn’t need it and I’ve run some very low FAT Bannermen (sub 60). Swinging his Banner (12) and basic movement is unlikely to accumulate FAT. So Rally is one of the only things that will cause him to Fatigue up and even with a poor FAT pool he can cast Rally several turns in which for you to solve the problem.
⊱ Misconception – Recover is a must-pick for late game
No. With the probable exception of the Kraken, every fight can be beaten without Recover.
“It’s leviOsa, not levioSA.”
Gain additional 20% experience from battle. At the eleventh character level, you gain an additional perk point and this perk becomes inert.
+ Helps new recruits catch up in level
+ Gain level up stats faster, and reach bottom tree perks faster
+ Raises the minimum perk tier bar ‘for free’
+ Doesn’t count as one of your 10 perks
− Not a good choice in the short term
− Students will be functionally down 1 perk for most of their careers compared to non-students
≻ Students need 17% less experience to reach the next level compared to a normal bro.
Level Normal Student Diff 2 200 167 33 3 500 417 83 4 1000 833 167 5 2000 1667 333 6 3500 2917 583 7 5000 4167 833 8 7000 5833 1167 9 9000 7500 1500 10 12000 10000 2000 11 15000 12500 2500
≻ Students will never be two levels above a non-student assuming equal XP gains
≻ Therefore, Students will spend much of their careers functionally one perk behind a non-student
≻ Becomes disabled at level 11 (including the XP bonus), and refunds its perk point
≻ Allows you to skip a tier of perks if your level 11 bro wants a bottom heavy perk lineup
Student is unique in that it technically doesn’t cost a perk slot in the long run. Therefore, you don’t have to compare it to other perks except in the short term, but that short term cannot be fully ignored. Students will always be equal or behind in real perks compared to a non-student.
Student’s only combat value is faster levels which means you get stat gains a little bit sooner. A small benefit that is certainly weaker than taking a real perk in its place. Don’t take Student in the early game if you are having any difficulties.
Student can also help you rush to higher tier perks which can be more powerful than lower tier perks. Nimble is an obvious example that makes an enormous impact on a bro’s durability. If you wish to get Nimble asap then Student can help you get there faster at the cost of a weaker early game.
It is worth noting that one factor in enemy composition scaling is the strength of your party and your bro’s levels do factor into that. So leveling up faster with a “dead” perk is going to do you a very slight disservice here.
⊱ Early game: Student is not advised if you are struggling
If you are having trouble in the early game then you should not be using Student. Early game perks are very impactful to your weak bros and skipping on them for Student is a greed play that you should not be making unless you are comfortable with the game.
⊱ Student helps rush bottom tree perks:
If you want to get to things like Nimble, Duelist, Indom, etc. as quickly as possible then Student will help you get there faster, but it will make you weaker in the short term.
⊱ Later hires: Student is great
Student shines later on when you are trying to get new recruits to catch up to your veterans. Your veterans should be able to keep your fresh blood safe in battle so the short term loss of missing a perk isn’t as big a deal.
⊱ Delaying decision making or reaching further down the perk tree
Since Student is technically a free perk, choosing it allows you to delay making an actual decision regarding your build. This can be useful if you are indecisive, or are trying to wait to see how the stat level ups go, or if you can find a famed weapon to build around.
Student also lets you reach further down the perk tree without committing to a real perk above. This is great if you want to skip the first perk line or if you want to take a large number of perks from the bottom half of the tree.
⊱ Veteran levels
Technically speaking, even though the XP bonus turns off at level 11, reaching 11 faster does mean you will be reaching veteran levels a bit sooner than non-students. The impact of this is marginal at best. You should never be counting on veteran levels to matter on your builds. By the time you are gaining veteran levels you should have already built a party that can clear most or all of the game.
“Works well with Dragonslayer.”
Inflict additional 20% damage against targets that have sustained any injury effects.
+ Good for damage dealers
+ Better against harder to kill enemies
− Requires setup
− Not very useful against weaker enemies. Some enemies are immune
− Usually third fiddle to Berserk/Frenzy
≻ Deals bonus damage to both armor and hp
≻ For a list of injuries, refer to the wiki[battlebrothers.fandom.com]
≻ Debuffs like Stagger/Daze or DoT like bleeding are not injuries
≻ Damage modifiers stack multiplicatively, favoring stacking
⊱ Executioner vs. Berserk/Frenzy
Executioner is a damage oriented perk which means that it is going to be compared to other damage perks. While many would agree that it is generally worse than Berserk and Frenzy, it doesn’t mean you can’t use all three, and Executioner itself is a fine offensive addition that got better with the addition of the Barbarians (and will likely get better again with more humans coming in Blazing Deserts). While Executioner suffers from many of the same problems as CS (see CS section), it is a better perk overall. Damage dealing builds will enjoy having it if you have the space.
On bros with low Fatigue, Executioner like KF can make more sense than Berserk as the value is not contingent on having enough Fatigue to capitalize on Berserk.
⊱ Executioner usefulness is inconsistent
Executioner value is going to be tied into the injury system. If you need a reminder on how injury mechanics work then go back to the CS section. Executioner needing an injury to gain value might seem like a big problem, but it isn’t really that hard to set this up. One example is that it is pretty easy to spread injuries with ranged weapons for other Executioners to capitalize on. The biggest issue on Executioner is not the setup, but rather the many injury immune enemies. As a reminder from the CS section, Alps, Schrats, Kraken, Dogs, Undead, Lindwurms, and Goblins are all targets that are either immune to injury or will die in two hits anyway (Goblins) regardless of Executioner (except Overseer).
Another downside to Executioner is the potential for it to be a win-more perk. If an enemy dies in X hits without Executioner and dies in X hits with Executioner then it didn’t actually help you. However, given the chaotic nature of the battlefield, multiple brothers contributing damage, and damage rolls being variable, it is hard to predict how often Executioner helps or does not help. You can reasonably assume that Executioner will increase consistency in kill rates, even if it doesn’t always speed up kill rates, but it depends on each weapon/enemy case.
⊱ Executioner is better against certain enemies
Despite the large number of targets where Executioner doesn’t help, it can do very well in Barbarian and Orc battles and since Barbarians are the most threatening faction in the game right now it is definitely worth considering using a perk slot to help against them. Barbarian Chosen are too dangerous to leave alive for long so it becomes a damage race. Executioner helps you kill them faster which is very welcome. They have it too by the way.
Being smart about your targeting and injury delivery will help you get more value out of Executioner. Use ‘wait turn’ to your advantage if you need to setup, and pay attention to who you are attacking.
⊱ Early game: Executioner is the only early game direct damage boost
I usually recommend taking defensive or accuracy perks early on, but if you want more damage then Executioner is the only damage perk early in the tree (disregarding that accuracy perks are indirectly damage perks). The early game is largely spent fighting Beasts and Brigands and Executioner can help you deal extra damage here. You will want weapons that are capable of dealing injuries though as low tier spears/swords are not going to be dealing injuries to get your Executioner online. Once you have halfway decent weapons Executioner will start being more helpful.
Warbows are all about damage and are pretty good a dealing injuries to softer targets like opposing archers. Executioner can sometimes save you a shot against enemy range units or against Orc Young/Berserkers/etc. Since you often don’t deploy Bows against Undead/Ancient Dead the lack of Executioner value there isn’t even a concern.
Crossbows/Throwing can be scary with Executioner given their high innate armor ignoring damage. Everyone knows how annoying enemy Marksman/Arbalester are. Be thankful that they don’t have Executioner. While Crossbows/Throwing are great at dealing injuries to set up their own Executioner, they like it even better if a Warbow user or another bro can set up the injury first. Crossbows/Throwing are great against Chosen both for dealing injuries and killing Chosen faster, and you want to kill them as fast as possible.
Any damage dealing build is going to appreciate more damage. While the value may be lost on weaker foes, it will help in harder battles (yep, Chosen). Melee bros can also capitalize on injuries distributed earlier on by your range units. Duelists such as Orc/Mace/Hammer Duelists are very good at injuring allowing them to get an immediate boost on their second hit. Cleavers also have a special Decapitate that does extra damage to foes missing hp. Injured foes by nature are missing hp. So Decapitate buffed by Executioner works very well.
⊱ Dagger specialist – Puncture
Puncture builds benefit a lot from Executioner since they can usually deal injuries on first hit and can attack three times per turn. With CS as well you can also injure Chosen and Warriors reliably. Puncture builds also tend to spend a lot of time using Recover, so Executioner can make more sense than Berserk/Frenzy here.
⊱ Multiplier stacking: The more the better
Damage modifiers stack multiplicatively, meaning if you have Frenzy up already then Executioner is worth +25% instead of +20% because Frenzy is also multiplying it. This also applies to things like Huge, Drunk, Mushrooms, etc. Executioner is inherently better on bros with other damage modifiers.
⊱ Turn order: Slower bros with Executioner can capitalize on prior injuries
Executioners can benefit by being slow. This can allow your faster bros to get first strikes on enemies and hopefully land some injuries to allow your Executioner to capitalize. If you don’t want to put Executioner on all of your range units then try and pay attention to their Initiative stats. Having your slower range units with Executioner to capitalize on injuries dealt by the archer in front of him is a good way to get value.
⊱ Misconception – CS is needed for Executioner
No. You can deal injuries plenty enough without CS to make fine enough use of Executioner. They compliment each other, but they are not a package deal.
⊱ Misconception – I can’t use Executioner because I want to fight Monolith
No. You can beat Monolith with a few dead perks. You don’t have to build your whole team around it.
The penalty to hit chance when shooting at a target that has no clear line of fire is reduced from 75% to 50% for ranged weapons.
+ Doubles accuracy when shooting into cover (25% → 50% of base hit chance)
− Making use of Bullseye means intentionally halving your accuracy
− Half accuracy is still not reliable enough to justify shooting into cover
− Shooting into cover means more missed shots than just not trying to use Bullseye in the first place
≻ A target is in cover when standing behind another unit or obstacle (like a rock/tree)
≻ You can tell when a target is in cover when aiming at them if you see a red/orange shield icon appear on the object in front of the target
≻ The 50%/75% hit chance penalty is multiplicative
≻ Without Bullseye, shooting a covered target when you would normally have 80% hit chance gets dropped to 20% hit chance
≻ With bullseye in the same scenario, we would have a 40% hit chance
≻ A missed shot that scatters into an unintended target has a -15% flat accuracy penalty and deals 25% less damage if it hits
Bullseye is a perk that most players automatically think is good and just pick it up on their range units without really thinking about it. I used to do it too until someone pointed out to me that the perk is bad. Let’s really think about Bullseye, why I think it is a trap, and why you should consider skipping it.
⊱ Are you really sure you want to be halving your accuracy?
Let’s start with cover mechanics and how they affect accuracy. Refer to the example in the mechanics section. We have an 80% hit chance to an uncovered target and he moves behind a another enemy. We drop down to 20% without Bullseye and 40% with Bullseye.
So the immediate reaction would be that Bullseye just doubled your accuracy in this situation. That’s great right? Well… yeah, technically it is, but instead of shooting the guy in the back at 40% (with Bullseye), why not shoot the guy in the open at 80% instead like you should be doing? Or you spend a turn repositioning to get 80% shots on the guy behind. That’s the main problem with Bullseye. Yes it makes it easier to shoot covered targets, but you shouldn’t be shooting covered targets because you are choosing to half your accuracy when there are probably plenty of guys out in the open you could be shooting at with high accuracy instead. Bullseye doesn’t make shooting guys in cover reliable enough to make me want to actually try shooting them (It will always* be sub 50 hit chances). So I recommend not using it at all and just take the open shots you have and free up a perk slot.
Another way to think of shooting at half accuracy is that you are halving your expected damage output. You don’t want to half your damage output, right?
⊱ But what about those pesky Hexe/Marksman/Necromancer/etc.?
Yeah I hear you. This is where you need to decide for yourself whether it is worth cutting your accuracy in half to try and shoot these targets vs whatever is guarding them. Personally I don’t think it is worth the accuracy loss. Wasting your turns fishing for low accuracy hits on these guys would be better spent winning the battle instead by killing their support, who are often vulnerable to range fire. These guys aren’t a threat without the units accompanying them. So kill the units accompanying them.
⊱ Scatter mechanics, and why they disfavor Bullseye
One defense people will give for Bullseye is that if you miss the intended target you have a good chance of hitting the guy in front of him so that’s fine right? Scatter mechanics are complicated but there are a few takeaways to consider. A scattered shot has a penalty to hit chance against the new tile/target (flat -15% drop). A scattered shot also does 25% less damage to the new tile/target. So sure while your missed Bullseye shot might hit something else, the chance to hit and damage is reduced significantly. Instead of hoping for value on missed shots you should instead be going for shots that are likely to hit in the first place. If you don’t have any clear shots then move to a better position rather than shoot at half accuracy. You don’t want to be shooting at half accuracy.
Shooting targets in the front can still lead to scatter shots, but they are less likely since you will be less likely to miss in the first place.
⊱ Anti-Hexe: Fish for wins
This is maybe the most common defense I see for Bullseye. After all, downing the Hexe on turn 1 with your archers is extremely satisfying and will outright win the fight immediately if she was the only one. However, this is a very luck based strategy and as the loading screen likes to tell us — “if your plan relies on luck then maybe it isn’t a good enough plan.” The Hexe will always start covered and unless you have a famed Bow or Frenzy online it will take two hits to kill. A 100 skill archer (non confident, flat ground) doing an 8 range Aimed Shot against a covered Hexe with Bullseye has only a 44-45% chance to hit depending on how it rounds. That’s not completely terrible by itself but you have to hit twice per Hexe. Even if you had multiple 100 skill Bullseye archers (which you don’t lets be honest) this strategy still isn’t reliable. Instead, your archers should be mowing down the Hexe’s escort as everything besides Schrats that she can pair with are very vulnerable to Bows. Once the ads are dead the Hexe herself isn’t really a threat.
⊱ Anti-Necromancer: Fish for faster wins
I personally don’t recommend bothering with Necromancers at all. While he lives he is going to draw 1-3 zombies to block for him which is less enemies fighting your party. Rather than fish for low chance shots on him you can instead just kill his escort after which you can safely walk over and finish him off. He can only revive once per turn with his Possession skill or twice per turn with no Possession. Your team should be capable of slapping down zombies faster than he can pick them up. If you are going to die without Bullseye shooting the Necro multiple times then you should not be taking the fight to begin with.
A lot of the time these guys stand out in the open anyway giving you free shots. When they are covered you are better off shooting the guys in front of them so that you can free up a melee unit or dog to go pin them. The Billman or Raider with a Pike/Longaxe/2Hander are probably more threatening anyway and often easier to shoot.
⊱ Goblin Shaman/Overseer
As annoying as these guys are, with high RDF and Anticipation and decent enough health to take multiple shots, shooting them in cover is a really bad idea. Shoot the much easier to hit Skirmishers instead to start morale problems and give your frontline some freedom to move forward.
⊱ Misconception – Bullseye makes it safe to shoot past my brothers
Calling this a common misconception is an exaggeration, but I have seen people say things like Bullseye makes it less risky to hit your own guys as a defense for it. You shouldn’t ever be taking shots that have a risk of hitting your own guys in the first place whether you have Bullseye or not.
“If you can dodge crossbow bolts you can dodge a ball.”
Gain 15% of the character’s current Initiative as a bonus to Melee and Ranged Defense.
+ Provides a ton of MDF, which is the best stat
+ Very strong on builds with low Fatigue generation
+ Better in the early, more dangerous parts of fights
∽ Benefits slightly from INI investment, but does not require it
− Value drops during the fight
− Poor on heavy armor and/or Fatigue guzzlers
− Vulnerable to drop-off from various status effects that lower INI
≻ Value depends on current INI, not starting/max INI
≻ Current INI updates in real time as you accumulate FAT during the battle
≻ Heavier armor/weapons reduces your starting INI
≻ Using the ‘wait’ command reduces INI by 25% next turn but this is only for turn order and does not factor into Dodge in any way
≻ Debuffs like Stagger/Daze/Nets/etc. reduce INI and will thus reduce your Dodge value
≻ Relentless halves INI loss from Fatigue gained, thus reducing the rate of Dodge loss
≻ Recover halves current FAT, thus gaining back some Dodge value
≻ Ex.: 100 INI gets +15 Defenses. 60 INI gets +9 Defenses
≻ Each 1 point of INI is worth 0.15 Defenses, so leveling +5 INI is worth 0.75 Defenses
≻ A buff bubble will appear on the left side of the screen where you can check your current Dodge value
⊱ MDF is the best stat
Before we get into it, it is important to understand how MDF offers increasing returns the more you have. Please refer to the explanation in the Game Mechanics section if you skipped past it.
Dodge is a very strong and oft misunderstood perk by the community. Due to the increasing returns from high MDF, Dodge is potentially extremely strong when used on a bro with already high MDF. Dodge can offer more raw MDF than any other perk in the game aside from 4-5 stack Reach Advantage or 4-5 surround Underdog. Because of these increasing returns, Dodge is a pretty good to amazing pickup on really any Nimble front line build that isn’t immediately guzzling their Fatigue. MDF is the best stat in the game and Dodge gives you a lot of it. You should be using this perk if you are looking for survivability and your build allows for it to work for you. You can never have too much defense.
One mistake players sometimes make is that they think Dodge is a substitution for proper Melee Defense, they spend all of the their level ups on Initiative and leave their defense stat at base. Then they die and decide Dodge stinks. This is not what you should be doing. Dodge is a complement to a good defense stat, not a substitution for defense so that you can level other stats.
On a bro with low Initiative after his gear and/or who generates Fatigue very quickly Dodge won’t be as useful, but otherwise it is usually worth a consideration due to just how strong Melee Defense is as a stat.
Dodge is mainly about getting more MDF while the extra RDF isn’t a huge value. Nimble back liners have little to fear from enemy range attacks so for them it doesn’t mean much. Nimble frontline however can appreciate the bonus RDF as enemy range units really like targeting Nimble front liners even if they are harder to hit than Forge front liners. You don’t need Dodge to run a Nimble front liner, but they can actually enjoy some “free” RDF whereas usually the stat is irrelevant.
⊱ Should I be leveling Initiative?
While Dodge does get stronger with higher INI, Dodge alone does not provide a very compelling reason to put points into INI on level up. A +5 in INI equates to +.75 defenses which is still worse than even just a regular +1 in MDF unless you have some other reason to want the INI .
So rather than thinking you need to be leveling INI to gain Dodge value, what you should be looking at is your base INI stat, where it lands after gear, and how fast you are going to accumulate Fatigue. Most backgrounds have an average base INI at 105. After -15 Nimble armor and a weapon you are going to be around 70-80 which means you start the battle at +10-12 defenses. That is a huge chunk of defense for one perk and you didn’t put any points into INI for it. That’s almost a Round Shield’s worth of defense, and it isn’t hard to find some bros with base INI even higher.
⊱ But Dodge value drops off over the fight
Dodge haters are usually quick to point out that the value decreases over the fight but this sort of misses the point and also assumes you max your Fatigue immediately somehow. Some builds and weapons hardly accumulate Fatigue at all, allowing you to maintain high Dodge value indefinitely*. You gain back 15 FAT per turn naturally. There are a lot of weapons that can function for less than that per turn. Even if you run 20 FAT per turn (many 1Handers with Spec) you are only slowly accumulating and only slowly losing Dodge value.
⊱ The start of the fight is the most dangerous
Although you will likely accumulate Fatigue over the course of the battle, the first couple of turns are generally the most important and decisive. Therefore, Dodge protects you the most during the earlier and most dangerous part of the fight where all of the enemies are still alive. Even as you do start to tire, it doesn’t take much INI to still be getting +5 out of Dodge and that is equivalent to Shield Expert and Underdog most of the time. By the time you are tiring, some or most of the enemies will be dead anyway.
⊱ Watch out for status effects
Something to watch out for is enemy Mace users who deal extra FAT damage with each attack (and therefore INI) and can Daze (2H version). Enemy 2H Hammer users, Unholds, Schrats, and the rare Polearm special attack can inflict the Stagger status effect which wrecks your INI. Goblin Nets/Roots/Poison will also lower your INI.
⊱ Early game: Dodge excels
Dodge is one of the best perks in the early game for a number of reasons. You have both weak and light armor and weapons meaning you have less FAT penalty coming out of your gear. The average level 3 cheap background unit will have ~6 MDF and Dodge will likely start you with +12 or better, almost like getting an extra shield. Your weak armor and lack of defensive/durability skills makes avoiding attacks extremely important. The RDF is a nice buffer against annoying early Marskman (and Poachers or Throwing Weapons). Many of your early game team is likely destined for Nimble so Dodge will still be useable later. Finally, battles are usually small and short so Dodge getting weaker over the battle isn’t really a problem because battles end quickly.
You can use the extra defense to stack with a shield for 30+ defense by level 3 which is of course wonderful against common early game threats. You can also use the extra defense to be aggressive and double grip a 1Hander or go for an early 2Hander (I don’t recommend this if you are a new player and still learning). Even though Dodge is technically a defensive perk, you can translate that extra defense into offense if you want to.
⊱ Thief/Gambler/Ratcatcher: High INI base makes Dodge better
These cheap and common backgrounds start with higher INI than most generic backgrounds and in the case of Thief and Gambler they also start with extra defense. These backgrounds combined with Dodge can reach very high defense levels at very low level. The enigmatic Assassin that we are never lucky enough to get the event for also has high base INI.
⊱ Fencer: High INI frontline build is going to want Dodge
Fencer is an obvious build that appreciates Dodge. Investing heavily into INI for Lunge is going to leave you stat starved in other areas like HP and MDF. Dodge can help make up for that and it isn’t uncommon for Fencer’s to start the battle with +20s from Dodge. Fencers do generate Fatigue quickly but they also want to have Relentless anyway so it isn’t much of a problem. Fencers do still want to invest in regular MDF in addition to their Dodge value. Remember, the more MDF the better.
⊱ Single target 2Hander (not 2H Cleaver): High damage, low FAT cost
Single target 2Hander has the best damage per Fatigue spent ratio in the game. With weapon spec they only cost 12 to swing and since you recover 15 per turn you will not accumulate Fatigue without Berserk or other skills or getting hit. Therefore, it is entirely possible to maintain near full Dodge value through an entire fight. The bonus Dodge defense also makes it easier to safely ditch the shield so that you can use these weapons. This makes Dodge a great pick for Nimble builds using 2Handers. Polearms are the same way but backliners have less need for defense boosts so you may skip it if you want to be more aggressive.
Because single target 2Handers take little FAT and can benefit greatly from Dodge, it makes them one of the least stat demanding damage dealing builds in the game.
⊱ Ranged units: Dodge isn’t needed
I personally do not like Dodge on range units but some people do so I will talk about it. Nimble is usually good enough to keep your range units safe and I like to be aggressive and take a lot of offensive perks on my range units. Dodge can admittedly help you avoid some opening shots by enemy range units, but usually enemy range units will target your frontliners instead. Archers generate FAT quickly so the Dodge bonus will drop off quickly and probably be low or gone by the time your archer is being engaged in melee (which he shouldn’t be at all). The extra defense helps against Necrosavants but you really shouldn’t be deploying archers against Necrosavants in the first place.
⊱ Dodge + Shield: Stacking MDF is strong
Shields are heavy and shield bros often like using expensive support/defensive skills, but combining Dodge and a shield can get you to a very high level of passive defense, which due to increasing returns from defense can allow for very dodgy bros. Works better on shieldbros who plan on attacking as that is cheaper than casting defensive skills.
⊱ Going shield-less: We need more defense
The extra Dodge defense can help your bro safely go without a shield. I mentioned 2Handers already but of course you can use it with Duelists as well (not Orc Duelists). If you want to be aggressive in the early game then Dodge is one of the best perks to take to help you survive without a shield and without other defensive staples like Nimble and Forge. Later in the game it is still very strong due to increasing returns from defense.
⊱ Synergy with Pathfinder, Recover, Relentless, Weapon Mastery
While none of these perks are necessary for Dodge to be good, they do help in small ways by lowering your FAT accumulation and INI penalty. I will say that taking Relentless just for more Dodge value is a poor use of a perk point however, more on that in the Relentless section.
⊱ Anti-synergy with Adrenaline, Rotation, Footwork, Indomitable, Taunt
While none of these perks make Dodge bad, liberal use of these skills will fill your FAT quickly and lower your Dodge value. If your build wants to spam these skills then Dodge will not be as useful to you. If your build just wants these skills for tactical flexibility and just-in-case scenarios then it won’t hurt Dodge much.
⊱ Blazing Deserts: Anti-Gunpowder weapons
This is currently speculation. The newly revealed gunpowder weapons automatically hit and deal damage based on user RSK vs. target RDF. Depending on how dangerous these enemies end up being, Dodge might get a boost in usefulness for the free RDF that it provides.
⊱ Misconception – Dodge requires you to level Initiative to get good value
No. The majority of your Dodge value is going to depend on your base INI and how fast your build generates FAT. You can get a lot of value at base INI and spending level ups on INI doesn’t actually help Dodge that much.
⊱ Misconception – Dodge is married to Relentless/Overwhelm/Nimble
No, you can build a Nimble unit without Dodge, and you can build a Dodge unit without Relentless or Overwhelm. Think about why you are using each perk and don’t fall into the mistake of lumping things into package deals.
⊱ Misconception – Dodge is bad because the value decreases over the fight
No, the early part of the fight is the most important. You should be solidly in control or outright winning by the time your Dodge value is waning. Even if it falls low to something like +5 then consider that +5 is the passive benefit of Shield Spec and inner formation Underdog.
⊱ Misconception – Using Dodge means I don’t have to level defense
No. Dodge is a compliment to proper defensive investment, not a substitute for it.
Fortified Mind (Mind)
Resolve is increased by 25%.
+ Auto-pick on your Bannerman
+ Helps against specific enemies like Hexe, Geists, and Priests
+ Protects from stat loss via morale drops, and helps gain stats via Confident morale
− Provides a poor raw stat return compared to other stat boosting perks
− You can usually reach acceptable Resolve levels without Mind
≻ Does not round, so you get +1 RES for every 4 points of real RES your bro has
≻ Ex.: 40 base RES is +10 and 43 base RES is also +10
≻ Updates as your bro levels and gains more points
≻ Modifies after traits like Brave/Fearless
≻ Modifies Resolve gained from Trophies or the Sash
≻ Refer to this link[docs.google.com] to see various Resolve checks/modifiers
⊱ Mind usually returns lower raw stats than other boosters
As a raw stat perk, Mind is going to have to be compared to the other raw stat perks. While the DLC have made Resolve more important than prior (Hexe mainly), it is usually feasible for most backgrounds to achieve a decent Resolve score without resorting to this perk for help.
How valuable Mind is compared to the other stat boosters is going to depend on what your comfortable Resolve target is. Personally I aim for 50 but yours may be higher or lower depending on your preferences. I don’t recommend lower though unless you want to get greedy on backliners.
The reason why Mind isn’t very appealing is that going from 40 to 50 RES using Mind is the equivalent of 2.5 level ups since you can get 4 RES per level up. Compare that to Colossus which is already providing 3.75 levels of hp at only 60 HP, Gifted gives 3 level ups, and Brawny gives 3.75 level ups to a non-famed 300/300 armor set. If your Resolve target is 60 (going from 48 to 60) then you are still only getting 3 level ups worth of stats here. Generally speaking, trying to level your Resolve naturally with a couple +4 rolls and maybe a Trophy is more efficient than using a perk point to fix a bro’s Resolve problem.
Of course you can use multiple stat boosters and a bro using Colossus, Mind, Gifted and Brawny is still completely viable despite a large perk investment into stat help, but if you are trying to get away with fewer stat boosting perks then Mind isn’t giving you the highest value and one of the others should probably be taken instead.
Mind does boost the gain provided by Resolve trinkets, but that doesn’t change the story by much unless you are still aiming to go to 60+ Resolve.
⊱ Mind helps maintain higher morale levels, which means better stats
Mind helps protect against morale drops which would penalize your stats. It also helps you gain and maintain Confidence status which boosts your stats. In this manner, Mind is indirectly a boost to your other stats by protecting their loss from morale drops and helping gain Confidence. It is hard to put concrete value on how often this is factoring to compare against other perks, but is good to be aware that Mind’s value extends beyond the raw RES gain.
A higher base RES will also make a bro more likely to succeed a Rally check from your Bannerman (see Rally for details).
⊱ Bannerman: You want Mind
Obviously, the Bannerman wants as much Resolve as possible both for his Banner aura and for Rally. Mind is an auto-pick here. Your Bannerman should have the Sash too and that also gets multiplied.
⊱ Lone Wolf: You need high RES to safely LW
The LW perk encourages you to run off by yourself which often leads to getting surrounded which leads to a lot of morale checks. If your morale drops then you’ve basically negated your LW buff and if you drop to Fleeing then you are dead. For these reasons a high Resolve score is a must for anyone looking to LW. By high I mean 70+ before LW is what I would recommend and it is very hard to get there without Mind.
Standing next to adjacent friendly bros grants +3 hidden RES bonus for each bro. Standing next to enemies grants -3 hidden RES debuff for each enemy. Therefore a LW is giving up his free RES from his buddies and probably the Banner as well which leaves him at much higher risk than you would otherwise suspect, especially if he gets himself surrounded by a bunch of enemies.
⊱ Super Tank: Holding dangerous positions will lead to more morale checks
Dedicated tank units will want a high Resolve score if you plan on putting them into situations where they are going to be surrounded and taking a lot of hits and especially if they are leaving formation. If you stay in formation you probably don’t need Mind. There are a lot of good perks for super tank builds so it can be tough getting Mind in.
If you are bringing a super tank as a core piece of your Monolith strategy then Mind can be helpful due to being surrounded by a large number of Ancient Dead being a quick path to Fleeing even with the Undead Trinket to protect from the Priests. I’ve had 60 Resolve tanks drop to Fleeing just from Ancient Dead walking into his zones at the start of Monolith.
⊱ Anti-hexe: Avoid Charms
Hexe are one of the more dangerous enemies in the game. Resolve can help you dodge the ever annoying Charm status so obviously Mind is great here. A common strategy to fight Hexe is to have a bunch of Maces on your team to Stun your Charmed brothers (and the Hexe herself). If you have dedicated Mace units for this job then they might appreciate having Mind to make sure that they don’t get hit by Charm themselves.
It will also be good in the Witch Hut where you face 4 Hexen and a bunch of incoming Charms per turn. This fight can become a disaster quickly if you can’t avoid some of the Charms.
You get two chances to resist each Hexe Charm (you have to fail both checks) so each point of RES gets two chances to help you resist a Charm. A 50 RES bro who is alone (no adjacent allies or enemies, no Banner) has a 72% chance of getting Charmed. A 60 Resolve bro in this same scenario has a 56% chance of getting Charmed. Each adjacent ally is a hidden +3 Resolve and each adjacent enemy is a hidden -3 Resolve so actual Charm chances are not going to be so static. A 50 RES bro with a +10 Banner buff surrounded by 4 other bros (+12) and no enemies has a 40% chance of being Charmed.
Geist screams will generate 4 morale checks against all of your brothers in 3 range. This means that each point of RES you take gets 4 chances to be helpful to you for every scream.
⊱ Anti-Undead Priest: Resist morale drops and Stuns
Undead Priests are rare and usually only come one at a time, but in the Monolith you will be fighting 3 and they will be spamming you with morale drops and Horrify Stuns. Having more than 50 RES will certainly have value in Monolith. A 50 RES bro (with no adjacency modifiers or Banner) will have a 65% chance to drop morale on Horrify and a 55% chance of getting stunned (checks rolled separately). Each point of RES reduces these chances by 1%. If your morale gets dropped then you take a RES penalty as well which will make you more vulnerable to further Horrify spam.
“I always bounce back.”
Any status effect with a finite duration (e.g. Bleeding, Charmed) has its duration reduced to 1 turn.
+ Very good against Hexen
+ Status effects can be annoying, and less damage from bleeds
∽ Better on Nimble who tends to be more bothered by status than Forge
− Status effects are fairly rare
− Status effects are usually not so bothersome that you want to devote a whole perk against them
− Less bleeding damage is not good enough reason to take Resilient over another defensive perk
≻ Effects include Bleeding, Poison (Webkneckt/Goblin), Charm, Stagger, Acid (Lindwurm), Flies (Shaman), Daze, and 2 turn Mace Stun
≻ Reduces the effects to 1 turn, meaning they will disappear after your bro next ends his turn. ‘Waiting’ will not count as an ended turn and effects will persist until you specifically end his turn.
≻ If a bro acts and uses all of his AP and then ‘waits’ and is then hit by a status effect, it will still disappear when he officially ends his turn, even though he technically already acted before the status effect occurred. You can use this to almost completely avoid status effects if the timing works out, which is very useful against Charm (more on that below)
⊱ A whole perk just to counter status is a high cost
Resilient is a perk that would be nice to have but you can never fit it in because other perks are better. The problem is that there aren’t really that many status effects for Resilient to mitigate (see the list in the mechanics section).
It might seem like there are a lot of status effects but most of those are rare (Flies, Daze, 2 turn stun), and Acid should never even hit you because you shouldn’t be fighting Lindwurms in melee.
Stagger is less rare (Hammer Chosen/Schrat/Unhold) but Forge doesn’t mind Stagger much. Forge also doesn’t care about Bleeding or Poison because heavy armor already does a very good job at protecting you from those. So all that really leaves for Forge to care about is Hexe Charm. Nimble can appreciate the reduced Bleeding/Poison/Stagger duration but it is hard to justify the perk slot here unless you want help against Hexen, because another MDF boosting perk will otherwise be more helpful for you and also provide status avoidance.
The main draw of Resilient is of course the reduced Charm duration. Hexe are one of the more dangerous enemies in the game and Resilient makes them significantly easier because being Charmed for 1 turn instead of 2 is a huge difference, and you can even negate the Charm entirely with good timing. I’ll talk more about this in the use cases.
Overall Resilient is just too low impact and/or situational to often justify the perk slot for.
⊱ Anti-Hexe: Resilient on just one or a few bros can neuter Hexe
If there is a reason to take Resilient on anyone then this is it. Unless you really hate Hexen then you probably won’t be taking Resilient on all of your bros. The trick of course then is getting the Hexe to target your Resilient bro(s) instead of your other bros. This is actually pretty easy to do because they like to target bros that are closer to them.
So the idea is to send your Resilient bro(s) forward and let them take the Charms. If they get hit then they will spend their turn trying to move back toward your line and then immediately flip back to your control without doing you any harm. Even better, if you can out speed the Hexe naturally (she has 100 INI and no equipment penalty) or by using Adrenaline then you can act first and move forward and “wait turn.” The Hexe then Charms you but you have no AP left because you already moved. Then when your second move comes around you stand still and then flip back to your control, essentially negating the Charm entirely.
Having one or more bros capable of doing this does a very good job at keeping the Hexe distracted while the rest of your team clears out the mobs. If the Hexe decides to ignore your Resilient guy then he can try and make his way over to stun her.
Having even just one Mace unit with Resilient can make Hexe fights a lot easier, and I highly recommend you do this if you find Hexe battles challenging.
Witch Hut: 4 Charms per turn is very dangerous
Witch Hut is a unique fight against 4 Hexe and a nasty entourage of Beasts and is one of the harder fights in the game. This is also one of the more rng based fights in the game because how many of your guys getting Charmed on turn 1 will make a huge impact toward how hard this fight is or not. Fortified Mind and Resilient are two of the best perks for this fight. The fight is winnable without them of course, but if you want to increase reliability and decrease the rng of the fight then these perks will help.
Again you don’t need Resilient on everybody to beat the Witch Hut. Just one or a few makes a big difference and it can also be won without using it at all.
Goblin City: Multiple Shamans means Flies are more likely, and Ambushers will wear you down.
With multiple Shamans it is far more likely than usual that they will cast Swarm of Flies onto you which can take a brother out of the fight for three turns, if it doesn’t outright get him killed. This is especially troublesome for your Goblin Trophy user as he is immune to Vines/Nets but not the Flies, so if you wanted him to go hunt the Shamans he is going to want Resilient or else get ruined by Flies.
In normal battles, Ambusher Poison isn’t usually a big problem, but the length of the City fight and the number of attackers means you will get worn down, which means you will start getting poisoned at some point. Ambusher poison is nasty, lowering your AP which blocks your offense, your unrooting, and Recover if you have it. Nimble is much more vulnerable to this problem here than Forge.
Anti-Bleeding: Resilient can help, but this reason alone doesn’t make it a compelling perk choice
Nimble hates Bleeding. The reason why is because Nimble multiplies your hp and Bleeding damage cuts through your hp without regard to Nimble. So taking 10 Bleeding damage on a Nimble bro is more like taking 25+ damage as your raw hp is multiplied by Nimble. Resilient therefore will have some value against common Orc Cleavers and Necrosavants. It is hard to justify the perk slot for this reason though when there are plenty of other good defensive perks to choose, and they all provide better returns on survivability than Resilient does, even against Cleaver enemies.
Bleeding and Poison will apply on any attack that deals 6 or more hp damage. Since heavy armor does a good job of protecting your hp, Forge units have little need for Resilient to protect them from Bleed/Poison. Nimble on the other hand relies on its hp stat to tank and is very likely to be hit by Bleeds, so Resilient is slightly more useful on Nimble than on Forge.
Adrenaline cycle support: Daze can break the cycle
One of the few things that can break your Adrenaline cycle (see Adrenaline) is getting hit by Daze status since that reduces your maximum Fatigue which will break your ability to cycle. Chosen are among the more threatening units in the game and they also carry 2H Maces which can inflict Daze. Chosen can also easily smack down units who aren’t using Indom so if your Adrenaline cycle gets broken then your bro is at high risk if he cannot get his Indomitable back online. Resilient can help you defend against Daze breaking your cycle, but generally speaking a perk that raises your Melee Defense is probably more universally useful and also helps you avoid getting Dazed by avoiding attacks entirely.
You certainly do not need Resilient to make use of Dodge, but there are a number of status effects (Stagger/Daze/Poison/Flies) that will reduce your Initiative and kill your Dodge value. Resilient gives you a bit of protection here.
Steel Brow (Brow)
“Allows you to impress your friends by smashing things with your head.”
Hits to the head no longer cause critical damage to this character, which also lowers the risk of sustaining debilitating head injuries.
+ Provides passive durability
+ Helps protect against injury
− Effect isn’t actually very strong
− Outclassed by Colossus
− Obsolesced if used with Indomitable
≻ Headshots by default do 1.5x damage but only to HP (not armor)
≻ The headshot modifier is the very last thing to apply in the damage formula. This makes headshots weaker than expected, which disfavors Brow. See the Game Mechanics section for clarity
≻ Brow always reduces the headshot modifier down to 1x. This means that Brow cancels out (negates) the modifiers from the 1H Axe and the Brute Trait
≻ Taking reduced damage lessens the chance of head injuries. Because head injuries have higher thresholds to injure compared to body injuries (see CS), Brow does a better than expected job of mitigating head injuries
⊱ Brow is a situational Colossus
When you boil it down, Brow is basically just a worse version of Colossus. Brow essentially increases your effective HP count, but only against headshots while Colossus increases your effective hp count against everything. Since you are only going to be getting headshot ~25% of the time it makes more sense to take Colossus which is always helpful. Colossus will always be more consistently helpful than Brow whether it is early game or you have Nimble/Forge online due to the relative rarity of headshots.
If you already have Colossus, what if you wanted to double down on the passive durability and grab Brow as well? Just like in the Colossus section, I am going to separate the discussion here based on whether you want to go Nimble or Forge.
⊱ Nimble: 40/160 Brow line beats other 40% Nimble lines
Nimble does a wonderful job of mitigating the occasional headshot that you might take, but Brow does allow for a unique armor line to be used that takes advantage of how Nimble works.
Because Nimble gets huge mitigation to hp damage taken it is capable of face tanking with its HP stat. This makes it entirely possible to ditch your hat and focus on more body armor. Normally this is not a worthwhile trade to make, but with Brow this option actually has some merit. Noble house Sergeants do this (though not in the smartest way). The way you should do this is to wear a Necromancer hat (40) and Noble Mail body armor (160) preferably with Bone Plate attachment. This gives you standard 40% Nimble with a few advantages. You have higher body armor to help against the far more common body hits, and for the few times you do get hit in the head then Brow turns it into a normal hit anyway which Nimble is fine at shrugging off.
The 40/160 Brow line consistently beats other 40% Nimble options (even if they have Brow) making this line the best choice to use if you want to grab Brow. However, the gains compared to non-Brow 40% Nimble lines are not especially high, so the perk point might be better off spent elsewhere. It depends on how you want to build the bro. If you are willing to spend the perk point on Brow for some additional passive durability then the 40/160 line will serve you best.
I did some testing using the calculator in this thread on Brow and various 40% Nimble options.Those tests seemed to suggest that Brow was worth about 15hp which is 3 level ups (Colossus assumed) of hp. That would put Brow in about a similar position as many of the raw stat boosters. Other interesting points of note is that the Brow Nimble line had the best injury avoidance, and that Brow was relatively more useful on lower hp units and lower defense units.
Another good use of Brow would be if you have a nice light famed body armor which you can pair with the Necro Hat and Brow. Basically it would just a better version of the Necro/Noble line.
Overall, Brow isn’t incredible on Nimble, but if you want a bit of extra passive durability then it does beat out the other 40% Nimble options and provides similar value to other raw stat boosting perks, making it an ok pick.
⊱ Forge: Brow helps against high Ignore% attackers, but isn’t doing much otherwise
For the most part, Brow is poor on Forge units except against specific enemies. There’s a few reasons for this. One is headshot damage applying last in the damage formula (see Game Mechanics). Two relates to one, the majority of attackers in the game aren’t going to penetrate past 300 helmets to deal meaningful hp damage. Three, Forge units tend to like using Indomitable, and Brow is nearly useless if using Indom (see Indom for details).
The only reason Forge might care about Brow is to help offer some passive (non Indom dependent) protection against high Ignore% attackers like Chosen Mace/Hammer, and Heavy Crossbows. Please refer to the Colossus section if you need a reminder on how easily Chosen can threaten Forge units. I will say again that Colossus is better than Brow on Forge units and you should only use Brow after Colossus is already taken. The following are a few example enemies against an 80hp 300/300 Forge bro using AFP attachment, and with or without Brow. Enemies have their respective perks/weapon skills in play.
Bladed Pike (Legion/HG):
- Normal: Death in 7.98 hits.
- Brow: Death in 8.12 hits.
Heavy Crossbow (Arbalester):
- Normal: Death in 7.06 hits. 10% injured on first shot. 30% injured by 3rd shot.
- Brow: Death in 7.88 hits. 1% injured by 3rd shot.
2H Spike Mace (Chosen):
- Normal: Death in 3.8 hits. 6.4% Death in 2. 16% chance of hitting heavy injury threshold in 1.
- Brow: Death in 4.11 hits. 8.2% Death in 3. 6% chance of hitting heavy injury threshold in 2.
What’s the takeaway here? Against Bladed Pike and most weapons Brow is very underwhelming because your helmet is already doing its job to protect you. Against Heavy Crossbows Brow offers a decent chunk of survivability and very good injury avoidance. Against Chosen we avoid the unfortunate 2 hit death possibility and also eliminate the possibility of getting a heavy injury such as Fractured Skull on the first hit.
Against the majority of enemies Brow isn’t helping Forge very much at all, but in a few cases like heavy Crossbows and Chosen it can offer some meaningful passive defense. If you are worried about those types of enemies then Brow can help a bit. If Indom is being used then Brow is basically useless here, as the order of damage calculation heavily favors Indom and not Brow (see Indom).
⊱ Early game: Double down on passive defense with Colossus
Early game your bros are weak, have little defense/armor, and that makes them vulnerable. Brow has to compete with other strong early game picks like Colossus, Dodge, and Gifted, but it can be useful here to boost your durability.
See discussion section for detailed thoughts on these. Nimble Brow has some advantages compared to regular Nimble. Forge Brow only helps against specific enemies but it could be worth a look if you aren’t Indom spamming just because of how dangerous Chosen are. It is not particularly strong in either case.
⊱ Injury avoidance: Head injuries can be particularly nasty
The head injury formula favors Brow, making Brow fairly good at helping you avoid head injuries, especially heavy head injuries.
⊱ Anti-Head Splitter/Necrosavant
Orc 1H Axe has the extra headshot damage from 1H Axes, and Savants have Headhunter. Brow helps more than usual against these two enemies. Nimble benefits more here than Forge.
Quick Hands (QH)
“If the mercenary life doesn’t work out, become a street magician.”
Swapping any item in battle except for shields becomes a free action with no Action Point cost once every turn.
+ Offers a ton of tactical flexibility
+ Can be used offensively and defensively
+ Indirectly grants +4 AP per turn
− Carrying extra items to QH to costs FAT
− Doesn’t work with shields
≻ If a shield is involved in the swap whether to your hands or off of your hands then QH will not work
≻ A buff bubble will appear on the left of the screen when your QH is still available
⊱ QH increases flexibility
QH is one of the few ways in the game to get extra AP (indirectly). The ability to swap items for free opens up plethora of options only limited by the player’s creativity and the number of items in the game. Without QH it can be difficult to make meaningful use of your two bag slots which isn’t really a problem, but if you want to carry multiple weapons or items to make use of your bag slots then QH will help you use them.
QH has a lot of obvious offensive uses, allowing the bro to switch between multiple weapons depending on what is most useful for that turn, or even swapping between weapons mid turn. It is also useful for defensive utility such as swapping to a Whip or throwing Nets. You can do these things without QH but it will be slower and less efficient.
If you take Bags then you are also probably going to want QH to make use of whatever you are putting in all those bag slots, but you don’t need to take Bags to make use of QH. There is plenty you can do with your default bag slots.
Keep in mind the added FAT cost of carrying around multiple weapons/items. Each item in a bag slot costs half of its FAT cost to carry. This can add up to a fair chunk of FAT if you are carrying multiple 2Handers for example.
There isn’t much nuance to discuss in this section. If you have a build that wants to use multiple weapons then QH is a good pickup. Otherwise you don’t need it. The use cases will have many of the common ways to take advantage of QH.
⊱ Legacy info: QH was nerfed
QH received a significant nerf in WotN, no longer allowing the free swap of shields. That nerf had the intended effect of killing the ubiquitous QH defense that was probably the most common means of protecting Duelists and 2Handers at the time. Even so, the perk remains as a powerful tool for the amount of flexibility it offers. If you see references to QH shield defense in older guides/videos/posts then understand it is a legacy effect and no longer applicable.
Hybrids want to be able to use melee and range weapons at the same time depending on need and want to be able to switch between them freely in order to do this job well.
Throwing + Melee hybrid can maybe get away without it if you don’t mind giving up half a turn to switch to melee and you don’t plan on going back to Throwing after. That’s up to you.
Crossbow/Bow + Polearm wants QH. Since Polearms only cost 5AP with Spec, you can swing your Polearm and QH to Bow for a 4AP shot allowing you to get two attacks every turn that is stronger than just pure Bow. Crossbow is the same except every other turn you will have to only attack once and spend the other AP reloading.
You can also do Throwing + Polearm but that’s actually just weaker than just pure Throwing without offering any real range advantage like Bow/Crossbow do.
Speaking of Throwing, QH is pretty good here for a few reasons. Since you only have 5 shots per stack you are going to end up switching stacks once or twice. I also recommend you pair Throwing with a long range option (Bow or Crossbow) so having QH is good to be able to switch between your long range option and your short range Throwing as needed.
Using QH just to swap arrow stacks is a very poor use of a perk point. A lot of the time the battle is already won by the time you need to swap arrows. If you have to miss half a turn once per battle that isn’t the end of the world. Unless your Bow user has something else they need to swap to (such as Throwing or melee) then you really don’t need QH just for ammunition refilling.
⊱ Polearms (and other 2-tile reach weapons)
The 5AP cost of Polearms allows them to be combined with other 4AP cost attacks to make the full use of your 9AP. I already touched on Hybrids, but you can also make a melee build that combines a Polearm with a 1Hander, 2H Cleaver, Warbrand, Whip, or a Net(s). The advantage here is that the Billhook does better armor damage than all of those except Warhammer. Going for a Billhook followed by a Crypt Cleaver is some of the highest damage you can get out of a turn. Whips are also a great follow up for a Polearm unit since it can also hit at 2 (or even 3) range giving you a use of your remaining 4AP if you don’t need to move.
Those synergies aside, any non-shielded melee unit will enjoy having access to a 2 range weapon even if they primarily use a different weapon as this drastically opens up the amount influence/reach they can exert over the battlefield. The Longaxe and Polehammer are also good weapons to use with QH, particularly for units that are already picking up Axe or Hammer spec for their main weapon.
Polearm back liners also enjoy having a stronger melee weapon to swap into should they get jumped on by a flanking enemy or Orc Warrior. For example, you can easily use a 2H Mace without mastery which is far stronger than a Billhook. 2H Cleaver is another popular choice since you may already want to have a Whip and Cleaver Mastery anyway. It is also really nice to be able to switch between a Billhook and Warscythe depending on the situation.
Whip Disarm is a great control ability that is nice to have available for your team, but the Whip itself is a very weak weapon. This makes it a great candidate for QH so that you have the Disarm available if you need it but you can use a better weapon when you don’t.
A common complaint about the Banner is that it is weaker than most weapons you will be using later in the game. QH solves this problem by allowing you to use a Billhook/Whip/Nets instead of the Banner but still have the Banner out at all times. For example, you start the turn with the Banner out, QH to Hook/Whip/Net, do the thing (4 or 5 AP), and then use the remaining 4 or 5 AP to bring the Banner back out allowing you to maintain the Banner buff that you want to have while also having the ability to use other weapons/items. Doing this does prevent the Bannerman from moving that turn however.
⊱ Using multiple 1Handers
If you want to use multiple 1Handers then QH is nice to have to efficiently swap between them. One example would be a Hammer user that switches to a Sword/Cleaver after he knocks down the armor. Another example is a Spear user who switches to a better weapon once his Spearwall is breached.
⊱ 2Hander + Dagger with Mastery
2Handers cost 6AP and Daggers with Mastery cost 3AP. With QH you can get the two attacks in.
⊱ 2Hander + 1Hander + Berserk + Recover
Recall the synergy that 4AP attacks have with Berserk and Recover. 6AP 2Handers can try and take advantage of that by adding a 1Hander and QH to switch to on a turn where you want to Recover provided that there is a kill set-up for you to take advantage of.
Nets are great. QH allows you to throw them more efficiently, but it does depend on your loadout. For example a Duelist can start with and throw a Net without ever needing to swap anything around, but a 2Hander needs QH to throw a spot Net without costing him turns.
Acid, Holy Water, and the new bombs in Blazing Deserts. If you want to throw these then QH is handy.
“Don’t let it go to your head.”
Instantly gain a level up to increase this character’s attributes with maximum rolls but without talents (stars).
+ Increases SKL and DEF, the best stats
+ Never a bad choice, as more SKL and DEF is always good
+ Flexibility to choose stats depending on your needs
− Flexibility can also be a downside, as maybe you want a more specialized perk for your needs
≻ Grants a spendable level up screen like a normal level up where you choose 3 stats, but with every stat getting a max roll without regarding stars. So HP/FAT gets +4, INIT +5, DEF +3, and so on
≻ This is an extra level up in addition to a bro’s standard 10 level ups
≻ If you reset your perks using a Potion of Oblivion, your Gifted perk gets refunded but you get to keep the stats you gained from it. This isn’t as strong as it sounds as by the time you can craft one of these you’ve likely already cleared the entire game
⊱ Gifted competes well against other stat boosters
Gifted is a lot stronger than some people in the community give it credit for. Even though Gifted isn’t particularly interesting, more stats is always a good thing, and Gifted gives you the flexibility to grab stats in whichever stats you most want boosted. Gifted often gets compared against other stat perks in the game, let’s see how it compares.
Gifted is 3 max rolls of stats so that’s our baseline. Mind only equals in value if you are at 48 or higher Resolve when you are using it. Brawny beats it slightly on non-famed 300+ armor but once you have famed armor, which is almost always lighter, then Brawny and Gifted start to be about equal. Gifted loses to Colossus which will easily give you more than 3 max rolls worth of HP.
So yes, Gifted is outclassed by Colossus and sometimes Brawny in raw returns, but SKL/DEF are better stats than HP/FAT, so often times you may prefer Gifted over the others. It depends really on your build and what you want for your bro.
You can translate your Gifted gains into other stats. For example, let’s say you want to get your Resolve up and you want to put at least three levels into it. If you take Mind at 40 RES you get +10 RES. Alternatively, you can take Gifted for a +4 and then use the other Gifted gains to allow you to skip rolls elsewhere later on to take more +4’s in RES. In this way, you can loosely translate your Gifted gain into +12 RES. This works better on bros with poor stars, where you are more likely to be ok with skipping low rolls in SKL/DEF to level other stats.
Not all stats are created equal. SKL and especially MDF are much more meaningful than the other stats. Gifted and Lone Wolf are the only perks in the game that raise both your accuracy and your defense. You can almost never have too much accuracy and you can never have too much defense due to increasing returns of high defense (see Game Mechanics). In this way, Gifted is actually extremely strong on a bro with 40+ MDF already.
⊱ Gifted competes against other perks as well
There aren’t very many ways to gain accuracy. Fast Adaptation isn’t super strong. Backstabber is usually only worth +5 and sometimes +10 or better. +10 Backstabber is pretty good, but +5 Backstabber is pretty easily worse than Gifted. Gifted’s boost is also unconditional, unlike Backstabber.
On the defensive side, Shield Spec is +5 MDF or +10 while Shieldwalling. Underdog is +5 in the interior of the formation and more otherwise. Reach Advantage is +5 per hit but worth nothing if you miss. Gifted provides only 3 defense but it is always worth 10 pure stats or again 3 max rolls. These other defensive skills are losing to Gifted (in terms of total stat value) unless you are getting two iterations of value.
My point here is that that there are quite a few perks that deal in raw stats and Gifted is usually competitive with them. Disregarding it as “just stats” is misunderstanding the point. A lot of perks can be boiled down to “just stats.”
⊱ Is Gifted bad in the long-term?
No. The common argument against Gifted almost always has to do with Veteran levels. People say that since you slowly gain stats in Veteran levels that Gifted must be bad, but if that’s the argument then all of the other perks I’ve compared Gifted to must also be bad right? It just doesn’t work that way. A level 14 unit with Gifted will still be 3 rolls ahead of a level 14 unit without Gifted. I highly doubt your brother has too much skill and if you have high defense then Gifted is even stronger, potentially extremely strong. Going from 47 defense to 50 defense is a massive increase in overall durability due to increasing returns from defense. Finally, veteran levels are extremely slow and miss the point of the game. By the time you clear the crisis (around day 100 let’s say), you might have a level 12 or 13 guy. You are also capable at this point of beating 95% of encounters in the game. If you want to play until day 1000 and have level 25+ units then sure skip some stat perks and get something else, but the game isn’t designed for such long play and you’ve long since become unkillable whether you used Gifted or not. Saying Gifted is bad on day 500 is a pointless argument.
⊱ Early game: Your bros stink and Gifted really helps
Gifted is great perk in the early game. You have a lot of cheap and weak bros who can’t hit anything, have no defense, and don’t have enough durability to take hits to begin with. Gifted helps to alleviate these problems. More skill to hit things, more defense to avoid damage, and more hp to avoid injuries (or another stat of course). Colossus into Gifted is a good opening that can help you if you struggle in the early game. Since most cheap backgrounds will appreciate multiple stat boosters you can’t really go wrong with Gifted here.
⊱ Bannerman: More Resolve
The Banner wants to stack as much RES as possible to improve his Rally consistency and increase the party wide buff that the Banner grants. Gifted is worth 5 RES with Mind assumed, plus two other stats dependent on what your Bannerman needs.
⊱ Range units: Long distance shooting takes high RSK
Range units, especially archers, really enjoy having accuracy assistance to help with the penalties of long distance shooting. Even 100 RSK archers will appreciate Gifted.
⊱ Nimble: Gifted is better than usual
Nimble loves having a high hp count. Gifted gives hp. With Colossus assumed, Gifted is worth 5 hp and 3 defense which believe it or not is a respectable defensive boost for a Nimble bro, and potentially a large defensive boost if your base defense is already high.
⊱ Increasing returns from Melee Defense
Going from 47-50 defense is magnitudes stronger than going from 7-10 defense. See the Game Mechanics section if you are unclear on this. This makes Gifted a very good perk on bros who have naturally high defense. The more the better. This also makes Gifted a good compliment to other MDF boosting perks.
⊱ Any bro who wants more stats
Really. Nothing special here, you want more stats? Use Gifted. You can’t go wrong.
⊱ Misconception – Gifted is bad beyond the early game
No. This idea usually has something to do with Veteran levels or talented recruits like Hedge Knights. I’ve said it enough in this section already, but more stats are always better, especially with MDF. In this regard, Gifted is even stronger on talented bros or bros with many Veteran levels, not worse.
⊱ Misconception – Gifted is only worth using on bad units
No. Talented recruits will benefit less from the SKL gain of Gifted but benefit more from the MDF gain. I’ve heard people say things like “any unit who needs gifted should be fired” which doesn’t make any sense. Even Hedge Knights can enjoy having Gifted, especially for stacking more MDF.
“Et tu Brute?”
The bonus to hit chance in melee is doubled to +10% for each ally surrounding and distracting your target.
+ Increases highly valuable MSK
+ Can yield more MSK than Gifted/Fast Adaptation (FA)
+ Safe pick for any damage dealer
− Not as good on bros with naturally high MSK
− Most common case is +5 MSK, which is a low yield compared to other stat perks
≻ Surrounding formula accuracy boost: (Number of adjacent units engaged – 1) * 5 (10 with Backstabber)
≻ Ex.: 1v1: (1 – 1) * 5 = 0 surround bonus.
≻ Ex.: 3v1: (3 – 1) * 5 = 10 surround bonus (20 with Backstabber).
≻ The formula is from the perspective of the defender, not the perspective of the attacker
≻ As per the above, Polearm units do not get extra Backstab bonuses. This is because from the defender’s perspective, the Polearm unit is not adjacent to him, and therefore not factored into the surrounding formula even though he is the one attacking. It is very common for new players to misunderstand this, refer to the following picture for clarity
⊱ Polearms do not get extra benefit from Backstabber
Roman is the attacker and he is adjacent to the blue hat Raider along with 2 of my other bros with Swords. This is a 3vs1 adjacency so all three of these bros get 2 surround bonuses. My Banner is also capable of attacking Blue Hat here. This is the important part. My Banner also only gets 2 surround bonuses, not 3, even though there are 3 other bros adjacent from my Banner’s perspective. This is because from Blue Hat’s perspective, Blue Hat is only fighting 3 of my bros (so 2 surround modifier), regardless of who is attacking him and from where. Backstabber in this scenario is worth +10% to any of the 4 bros who can attack Blue, and not extra for the Banner.
≻ Polearms and Whips can gain Backstabber bonuses but they themselves do not factor into the formula unless adjacent (see the points above)
≻ Friendly ally units and your own Dogs will count toward your surrounding and Backstabber
≻ Underdog and Backstabber cancel each other out. If an enemy has Underdog you will get normal surrounding buffs (5%) rather than Backstabber’s 10%
⊱ Accuracy is important and Backstabber offers the most
Backstabber is a solid perk because it is hard to have too much accuracy and compared to FA and Gifted, Backstabber can give the largest amount of skill. This makes it an enticing choice for any bro that needs accuracy help which is most cheap bros without stars. Even talented bros will appreciate the bonus hit chance for increased consistency and to better use high end weapons that don’t have natural accuracy bonuses. Finally, Backstabber is really easy to get value out of as you are naturally going to be getting surround bonuses every battle anyway. For these reasons Backstabber is generally a safe pick for most bros.
In most cases Backstabber is going to be worth +5. This is the common case where you maintain a consistent frontline. The enemy will engage into you and there will be two of your bros to each enemy bro getting you 1 surround bonus. You can try to manipulate the formation so that you can get more surrounds but you also run the risk of the enemy getting more surrounds on you by doing so.
Backstabber starts adding up toward the end of the battle as the enemy team crumbles and you can more easily stack more surround bonuses. I don’t put a huge value into this as in many ways this is a win-more effect to an already won battle, but it can speed things up especially if daggering down the last guy for armor.
⊱ +5 MSK isn’t overly impressive compared to other perks, but +10 or better is good
Backstabber’s biggest competition is going to be FA and Gifted where of the three, Backstabber offers the most accuracy. Backstabber’s next competition is going to be other raw stat perks in general where it is less clear on how well Backstabber fairs. +5 skill isn’t very good compared to other stat perks while +10 is good (comparable to Gifted) and +15 is great. Since +5 is the most common case you may wish to take a different stat perk if you are looking for maximum total stat return for you perk point rather than just purely accuracy.
⊱ Early game: You have many low skill bros
Accuracy is highly desired early into the game and you probably have a lot of unskilled bros which makes Backstabber enticing. It also helps when daggering down enemies. Since Backstabber is rarely ever bad it is a pretty easy pick up if you are looking for accuracy early on and it will still be good later. Of course compare it to other stat based perks and make the choice that makes the most sense for your needs.
A good early game build is a unit with high FAT making use of Mace Stun to control dangerous enemies and farm armor or Flail Lash for easily killing the fairly common Raiders that don’t have a hat. Backstabber can help these guys do their job and make decent use of a high FAT but lower skill unit.
⊱ Peasant Militia origin: More bros, more surrounds
Peasants get to field more bros and lose access to the skilled expensive backgrounds. Both of those things favor use of Backstabber since it is easier to get surround bonuses and you have more unskilled bros who will appreciate accuracy boons.
⊱ Dagger Puncture
Aside from just daggering for armor, a dedicated Dagger bro with Mastery using Puncture will really appreciate accuracy help to make up for Puncture’s -15 accuracy penalty.
⊱ Any bro who isn’t extremely skilled
Unlike FA which loses value as you get more skilled, Backstabber still does fine on highly skilled units. For example, a unit with 85 skill using a 2H Hammer is skilled enough that he can function well without Backstabber but not so skilled that Backstabber has become bad. Again, decide for your needs whether or not more accuracy is worth your perk slot in these cases or if you would rather have a different perk. Gaining skill does become less helpful the more you have though, so lower skill units will benefit more than higher skill units.
⊱ The +10 Dog drop
Dogs count for surround bonuses which also means that they work with Backstabber. Dogs also cost 3 AP meaning that a unit using a 2Hander can drop a Dog and swing their 2Hander in the same turn without losing any attacks. So if you give this bro Backstabber then he can drop a Dog for an instant +10 hit chance for his upcoming attack. Dogs in general are great for getting more surround bonuses and more Backstabber value.
⊱ Anti-Footman/Ancient Dead
Shield Wall spamming enemies can be very difficult to hit especially when they are bunched up for adjacency bonuses. Backstabber can help crack these guy’s defenses.
⊱ Misconception – Backstabber is better on Polearms
I see this a lot and I believe that it often comes from a misunderstanding on how surround bonuses are calculated. It isn’t uncommon that I see people say that Backstabber is an easy +10 accuracy for Polearms but this isn’t the case. A front liner and a back liner will get the same value out of Backstabber. Please go back to the mechanics section if you are unclear on this.
That aside, Polearm units have more perk space than other bros and since they only attack once per turn they really don’t like missing. They also have good Dog synergy and good mobility. So there are plenty of reasons why Backstabber is a good pick on Polearm units, just understand that they don’t get extra surround bonuses.
“It’s like Christmas.”
When being attacked with ranged weapons, gain 1 + 10% of your base Ranged Defense as additional Ranged Defense per tile that the attacker is away.
+ Can provide a lot of RDF
− Stacking high RDF isn’t impactful, as enemies will have already stopped targeting that bro
− Need to level RDF to get good value, but if you leveled RDF you don’t need Anticipation
− RDF is a weak stat
− Value dependent on distance
≻ Only counts on your base RDF, not defense modified by Shields/Dodge/etc.
≻ With 10 RDF at 6 tiles (crossbow), you gain 12 RDF.
≻ With 20 RDF at 6 tiles (crossbow), you gain 18 RDF.
⊱ Do you need more RDF when you aren’t the one getting shot?
In terms of raw stat value, Anticipation has the potential to offer a huge amount of levels worth of stats. As can be seen in the second example above, we get 6 levels worth of +3 RDF and that is going to be even higher at 7 or 8 tiles range.
The problem with Anticipation is that enemies aren’t stupid. They aren’t going to shoot your guy with 20 RDF whether he has Anticipation or not, they are going to shoot the weakest link. In order to get good Anticipation value you need to devote a lot of your limited level ups into RDF, but if you already invested a bunch of points into RDF then you have no need for Anticipation. In this regard, Anticipation suffers terribly from a win-more problem. Even though RDF has increasing returns just like MDF does, it is nearly impossible to actually make use of it because the enemies will just shoot somebody else. If I have 20 defense then I certainly don’t need Anticipation because I’m already not getting shot at. If I have 10 defense I’m not getting shot at. If I have 0 defense then Anticipation is just weak.
Even if you do invest in RDF and pick up Anticipation, it doesn’t solve the problem that is enemy ranged attackers. They will just attack somebody else instead and putting a ton of RDF on your entire team is not worth the loss of other stats that that would require.
⊱ So you are saying that I don’t need RDF?
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Most enemy range units actually have fairly poor RSK, and by the end of turn 1 or on turn 2 you can have your frontline in cover behind the enemy’s frontline forcing their range units to try and shoot past their own troops or move forward.
You can beat Goblin City with units that never put points into RDF and that’s the biggest ranged test that your squad will ever face. Nimble or heavy armor already give you all of the security against ranged attacks that you will ever need, so devoting level ups and a perk point into Anticipation is just not worth the cost of not taking better stats or perks.
You do want to be smart about it though. Don’t have your 70 HP, 3 RDF Nimble archer stand out in the open against 12 Ambushers. You want him standing behind a Kite Shield bro.
⊱ Legacy information: Anticipation used to be good
Prior to the B&E DLC, Nimble was terrible which made heavy armor the only viable option to not be at risk of immediate death all of the time. However, archers could not wear heavy armor due to the vision penalties. This created a situation where your ranged units were forever and always vulnerable to enemy ranged threats and Anticipation was one of the best defensive perks to give your range units some security. People even gave Anticipation to other back liners because of how long it takes to get a lot of heavy armor sets.
However, now that Nimble has changed and it is amazing, you don’t need to bother with Anticipation anymore. Once you have Nimble, enemy ranged units should never be a threat to you (unless you go stand out in the open for multiple turns in a row for some reason). I’ve brought back liners into Goblin City with Nimble as their only defensive perk, with only 70 HP and less than 10 RDF, and they did fine. Anticipation used to be a good perk in the past, but in the current climate of the game it is obsolete.
Older guides and some players may recommend leveling RDF and taking Anticipation on the back line but this is outdated advice. Later in the game the enemy range units are going to be far more likely to be shooting your 2Handers or Duelists on the front line rather than trying to shoot into your covered back liners anyway. If they do want to shoot your covered back liners then that’s great because they will face -50% hit chance and Nimble will shrug it off if it hits anyway. Usually, they will just shoot your front line, which makes Anticipation on the back irrelevant.
⊱ Blazing Deserts: Will RDF be relevant again?
The newly revealed gunpowder weapons deal damage based on attacker RSK vs. defender RDF and they automatically hit. Depending on how dangerous these enemies end up being, RDF might become useful again. I believe these weapons will have lower range than Bows/Crossbows however, which means less room for Anticipation value.
⊱ Early Game: Insurance against Marksman
You don’t get Nimble until level 7 and you are going to run into Marksman before then. You can get 10 RDF and Anticipation by level 3-5 which provides a decent chuck of added protection in the early game when your range units are at their most vulnerable. Personally I like to be highly aggressive with my range units and only use Nimble for defense, but if you are paranoid about early game survivability and struggle keeping your range units safely tucked behind your frontline then Anticipation can help.
⊱ Frontline: You’ll be in cover by turn 2
I hope I’ve explained well enough why you don’t need Anticipation on the back but what about the front for your 2Handers and Duelists? There’s still a few problems though. You likely have multiple 2Handers and Duelists and if you take Anticipation on one then the enemies will just shoot the more vulnerable guys instead. On the first or at the latest second turn you will be engaged with the enemy melee units which grants your melee units cover. The distance is also going to decrease either because you move forward to engage or the enemy ranged units move forward to stay in cover or get better shots. Less distance means less Anticipation value.
⊱ Fatigue support and arrow diversion
If you really wanted to be 99% sure that someone is not going to get shot at then you can take Anticipation. Generally speaking, just putting a few points of RDF is enough to accomplish this as the enemy range units tend to target the easiest to hit Nimble guy on your front line. Therefore you don’t need Anticipation to divert arrows, but if you are paranoid about it and want all of the insurances you can get then Anticipation is there for you. Not getting shot at has the added benefit of not taking Fatigue damage from getting hit, but keep in mind someone else on your team is getting shot at instead of this bro, so you’ve only made it somebody else’s problem.
Duelist build brothers battle
So what is the new Duelist meta? In particular, I want to know:
1. Weapon types: Does the new dagger type make a dagger Duelist best? Or will that template still struggle against heavily armored enemies and axes or hammers are still better? What about the southern swords with Cripple?
2. Nimble or Battle Forged? I recall people were using Battle Forged Duelists more for the end-game encounters when I quit playing more than a year ago. Is this still the case?
Since I am a Duelist newb, any suggestions for Perks and actual builds would be greatly appreciated, too!
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There is a variety of ways to build characters in battle brothers but the "Duelist" builds tend to have a wide range of how they are built. This page is to explore Duelist builds and other utility builds that fulfill specialist roles in the company. Theory crafting is allowed, though context of the build (Iron Man survivibility/Experience utilizing) is encouraged.
The Spetum Duelist is a little bit on a misnomer, because it doesn't use the "Duelist" Perk, but fulfills a similar funcion. It has an interesting utility for a melee character and can fulfill several different functions. They primarily function as a interceptor and skirmisher that relies on spearwall and footwork to stop enemies from flanking. This makes them a highly mobile stop gap that does more damage than the standard spear wielding shield tank and slightly more adept at hunting geists and other lower hp targets. It's especially adept at keeping a flank from getting overwhelmed by wolfriders and superior numbers. I've used this to entertaining effect in Veteran/Non-Ironman difficulty. I'm curious how this build would survive Ironman and may try a variant of it going forward. I'm curious how a battleforged version of this character would fair as well.
Key Stats Melee Attack Ranged Defense Initiative
Key Perks 9 lives Dodge Brawny Spear mastery Footwork Nimble Reach Advantage
I've seen several variants of this build, but have found great success (and fun) with running it. This duelist excels at hunting single targets and even providing debuff support through spamming overwhelm/dagger mastery. He can make quick work of ork warriors and poach high value armors quickly.
Key Stats Melee Defense Melee Attack Initiative
Key Perks 9 Lives Dodge Brawny Dagger Mastery Overwhelm Nimble Duelist
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This guide is not updated for the 'Beasts & Exploration' DLC. So most of the builds detailed here are not optimal anymore unless one is still playing version 1.1.x.
This is the result of an extensive amount of playing and testing various character builds and combinations. This guide is intended for late to end game. Mid and early game especially, because of economic and recruitment constraints, require different builds with a stress on Perks that improve Attributes for immediate return on investment. The following builds are meant for the long run and will show better results once the characters reach Veteran Level.
Please note that while these builds were used in Expert difficulty, they should work for every other difficulty settings. But they were designed for maximum offense and may despite everything die to very bad luck. For that reason, Ironman players may want to switch some suggested Perks for fail safes like Rotation or Footwork and Colossus. While the former ones are quite unreliable due to huge Fatigue costs, they can save lives.
These builds should cover all your needs. If I skipped some Perks of interest, I usually explain why. However, some Weapons are not mentioned at all because I deemed them not as effective as others. This is notably the case for Throwing Weapons and Crossbows that become less and less good than Bows the longer the campaign goes (I will not demonstrate why here). Most one-handed Melee Weapons while excellent in early to mid game also lose much value after a couple years.
Knights are the epitome of valor and martial skill. They follow a long, hard training in all kinds of weapons and wear heavy Armor in battle. They often come from the nobility and from families that are wealthy enough to buy their equipment. Knights not only win favor from their lord by showing their strength in war but also by jousting in tournaments or by displaying chivalrous qualities at court.
Champions are trained in a variety of combat tactics that make them equally dangerous against all types of enemies. Unlike Crusaders who focus on foot combatants, Champions are also able to take on and dodge or shield volleys of arrows while swinging their Swords.
- Sellswords start with higher average Ranged Defense. So they will usually make better Champions than other Backgrounds.
- Fatigue is preferred to Ranged Defense before Veteran Level since the level-up range is wider ([2-4] vs. [1-3]). The bonus provided by the Kite Shield should be enough.
- Besides the standard Knight core level 5 to 7 Perks, this build uses the Quick Hands and Bags and Belts combination. More weapons for no Fatigue!
- Sword and Shield is the default starting set-up. It's useful for first engagement. The Sword +10% hit chance can also come useful against elusive foes like Geists.
- Double Grip Sword can be used in conjunction with Berserk and Recover to slay a near death enemy while regaining some Fatigue.
- The Shield can be taken out if Reach Advantage isn't good enough or to increase Ranged Defense.
- The Greatsword is the primary, Fatigue effective weapon. Use it rather than the Two-Handed Hammer for multiple targets swings and against unarmored opponents.
- The Two-Handed Hammer should be used for single target strikes against armored opponents.
- Billhook rounds up the weapons choice, giving the build needed additional range for very decent Damage.
- Champions are primarily meant to fight battles against ranged or mixed opponents like Brigands and Goblins. But they can also fight other enemies alongside Crusaders.
- Since they sacrifice some Fatigue for additional Ranged Defense, even if they have Brawny, you should consider giving them heavy but low Fatigue penalty Armor. Likewise, use your Greatsword for swings and splits and stick to single target attacks with your Two-Handed Hammer.
Crusaders embark on holy missions to rid the lands of the Undead and Orc scourge. While proficient with Swords and Greatswords like Champions, they also learn to master Two-Handed Hammers which they can use without exertion for devastating Damage against heavily armored opponents.
- Hedge Knights and Adventurous Nobles will make the best Crusaders given their average base scores in core Attributes. Sellswords are also great candidates but may suffer from a lower Fatigue pool.
- Crusaders do not invest in Ranged Defense so they can focus on increasing Fatigue on level-up. If you get bad rolls Resolve can be chosen instead.
- Besides the standard Knight core level 5 to 7 Perks, this build uses the Quick Hands and Bags and Belts combination. More weapons for no Fatigue!
- Sword and Shield is the default starting set-up. It's useful for first engagement. The Sword +10% hit chance can also come useful against elusive foes like Geists.
- Double Grip Sword can be used in conjunction with Berserk and Recover to slay a near death enemy while regaining some Fatigue.
- The Shield can be taken out to increase the Crusader Defense after a strike or if Reach Advantage isn't good enough.
- Crusaders have Mastery in Greatswords as well as in Two-Handed Hammers. So they can use whichever is required for identical Fatigue costs. While the Greatsword works best against unarmored opponents, the Two-Handed Hammer should be used against armored opponents like Orc Warriors and Honor Guards.
- Billhook rounds up the weapons choice, giving the build needed additional range for very decent Damage.
- Unlike Champions, Crusaders will not fare well against ranged enemies. If you still have to line them up in a battle that involves some, give them cover and a Kite Shield.
- Hammer Mastery will spare you more Fatigue than Brawny in the long run, which is why it is preferred on this build.
- Hammer and Sword combination is better than Axe alone because it offers all possible types of attack and optimal Damage against both armored and unarmored opponents.
Berserkers channel their anger into a frenzied like state during which they will strike twice as hard as any Knight. When they start swinging their Greataxe, it is well advised not to approach them for in the rush of battle, they will hit anyone, friend or foe.