The goal of this guide is to get you to the point where your company is in a comfortable position. Many guides on builds and backgrounds will talk right away on which choices will position you well for taking on The Black Monolith, for example. This is not that, and the choices are going to be made simply with the goal of getting you started in Battle Brothers so you can really enjoy figuring out the minutiae of the game for yourself. As such, I’m going to avoid spoilers as much as possible since exploration is a big part of the fun. There will, however, be some longer-term combat tips at the end. When you first meet a Necrosavant, I want you to still be thinking, “What on earth is a Necrosavant?”; but I also want to give you a decent chance of actually surviving it.
The first thing you need to do is to choose your settings. You might notice a little hint in the bottom right of your screen telling you to play on the lowest difficulty. Listen! This is not like any other game you’ve played (unless you’ve played modded XCOM, in which case: yeah, it’s a bit like that). You are really going to want to start out on the lowest setting, at least until you get comfortable enough to bump it up with a second or third company. Pick the easiest choice for all three options and take the ‘Rebuilding the Company’ origin. (Late game crises can be left on random). However, the screenshots are going to be coming from a veteran difficulty playthrough, just to prove if it really works.
Rebuilding the Company
You are going to be thrown into a fight here; it should be fairly simple. There is little you can do to really impact the outcome. A much more impactful choice is coming up, and that’s recruitment. It will be a while before you have this much money again, so it’s worth being careful here. In my game, I got a decent selection and picked up a Brawler, Miner and Shepherd. These backgrounds are your bread and butter in the first few battles when you first get going, some can even survive to become formidable late-game brothers.
Brawler is one of the best super-cheap backgrounds, and Miners are decent too; the Shepherd I just grabbed because he was cheap. Weirdly, he turned out better than the Brawler. I passed on the Deserter because they are often pretty bad due to low resolve. Also, a bow does not mean a character is going to have ranged skill, so I would need to buy a new weapon on top of the steep asking price. I checked, and it turned out the Miner beats the Deserter in every stat except stamina; the Deserter’s resolve was so low he was barely usable.
Be on the lookout for Brawlers, Miners, Butchers and Fishermen. Farmhands aren’t quite what they used to be since a patch but still worth picking up. A Priest can make a good bannerman but not much else. Hunters make the best archers, but they tend to be pretty pricey for the very early game.
Equipping the company
It’s now time to start equipping your recruits. Less is more in terms of brothers. The game scales based on the size of your party. This makes it possible to rebuild, or “Build Back Better”, as every politician would say nowadays, after a pyrrhic victory. It also advantages small well-equipped parties over an unarmoured mob. So don’t blow your cash on men and instead pick up some armour. ‘Padded Leather’ is a solid choice as it’s very cheap, along with maybe ‘Leather Lamellar Armour’ for your best brother (anything 70+ works right now).
Don’t neglect head protection either; if you are hit in the head, your body armour does absolutely nothing to protect you in this game; you might well die leaving a pristine suit of expensive gear. Ordinarily, you want to leave a good amount of cash for wages (hover over your coins icon in the top right to see how much is needed daily). But, in this start, you have a guaranteed income stream from the Hoggart fight, so better to safe than sorry.
If you have been smart in equipping your team, you should be able to dispatch Hoggart’s men without taking much damage. The spearwall ability is your friend here. Usually, spears are on the weaker end of the weapons available in Battle Brothers but when enemies have limited armour as you are getting started, they can be really helpful to hold a flank. Using spearwall next to an object protected my flank whilst I took out the other enemy flank.
Levelling the Company
It’s probably time to start levelling a couple of brothers. There are two ways to go with levelling: follow build guides or experiment. The image above should give you a few tips on what to choose. I like to put colossus on all frontliners, not got enough health? Pick Colossus to make up for it. Got a lot of health? Pick Colossus to get max value from it. Otherwise, most abilities are decent, and I have highlighted the ones I like to use for particular builds.
Archers tend to be a little situational compared to Throwers, and abilities that seem specific to them aren’t that crucial. I swapped my starting Crossbow into a Thrower as soon as it got some axes from a barbarian.
Stats are pretty self-explanatory; the stars add to your brothers’ growth potential by guaranteeing an extra available point per level. Initiative is rarely worth it outside specific builds. Melee/Ranged skill and Defense are the most valuable and hardest to increase, so take any 3s in a relevant column, but otherwise, just try and keep a good balance. Super high Melee Skill isn’t so great if you don’t have the resolve to keep control of the brother.
Making Money and Renown
You are also going to be asked to pick up a goal, the early goals are Battle Brothers’ way to direct you in how to get started. However, goals like ‘reach 12 brothers’ can end up making the game harder for you in the long term. Always try and take the easiest one, as you can only have one at a time. You are also going to need to take on a job; start with those with only one difficulty skull but don’t feel afraid to move fairly quickly on to two and three skull jobs when your men are well equipped and not wounded. It is mostly scaling on how far into the game you are and how many brothers you have.
What you want to avoid is taking the escort, finding and package delivery quests; these take too long and let the difficulty curve get away from you. Though sometimes you might be told to go where you were heading anyway, in which case they’re helpful. Finding locations is an especially enormous waste of time unless you are ready to tackle them too. Only take these if you are specifically looking to avoid a fight for a while, maybe you have super damaged equipment or you have lots of wounds and need an easy way to get cash.
Completing these jobs is the best way to get money. To get gear, focus on fighting Bandit Raiders as they usually have decent stuff. You will mostly find bandits in the middle of the map, so stay there early; the North and South are more dangerous so leave them for later.
If you equip daggers as a secondary weapon, you can surround an enemy and use the secondary attack. This lets you deal damage directly to health, so you can guarantee enemies will drop their equipment. Otherwise, try not to be too rigid in the gear you use; just pick up the best stuff you find and mostly buy armour. Even if you find something better, it can become a hand-me-down which weapons often can’t, due to specialisation.
- Keep your best men on the backline early on: Right from the start, your brothers on the frontline will die in battle a lot. If you want to keep someone with good growth potential, give them a polearm and keep them from harm’s way. Later on, you might reverse this to level newer brothers before they have the health to compete on the frontlines.
- Sometimes it’s better not to do anything: Stamina and formation are worth keeping. Let the enemy come to you when possible and move your frontline first by delaying backliner’s turns with the spacebar. Also, if you need one character to act before another, make sure to delay turns.
- Know your roles: Figure out who you want to hit armour vs. health based on the weapon’s penetration. Position and delay turn accordingly.
- Make use of high ground and chokepoints: High ground bonus is huge; if possible, avoid ever engaging an enemy unit higher than you even if you have to take a longer route. If a brother with a shield can block chokepoint against melee enemies, they can often force enemies at the back to waste turns. Just keep shieldwall up and don’t attack too much as it might lower stamina so much shieldwall can’t be maintained.
- Rotate saves lives: Some say if you play well, you don’t need to rotate, but sometimes things go wrong. If your brothers get low, just rotate them out and have them hang back. No point throwing a brother’s life away when they are too weak to keep fighting
If you follow these tips, you can have a party with decent weapons and good armour as early as day 10. In the run I did to grab some screenshots, on moderate difficulty, we had completed the first two skull missions of day 10. This netted the company a couple of helmets to complete a decent loadout for 6 brothers. 6 might seem a small party, but it’s worth reiterating that starting small is easily the best way to go early game. Try and keep these strategies in mind and cautiously build up the level of challenge you take on. Don’t rush straight from this stage to an Orc camp! From my company to yours…good luck.
Let us know in the comments what you think of our guide on how to get started in Battle Brothers. We hope it was helpful.
(The Blazing Deserts Perk Guide was created by Filthy Robot)