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)
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 The reason is that many of the existing guides are outdated in regards to the DLC, only offer brief advice on the perks, focus too much on the end game, or have information I disagree with.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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
I have built a damage calculatorthat 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.
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?
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:
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.
⊱ 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
◦ 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%.
≻ 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
⊱ 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 pageto 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).
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
≻ 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.
≻ 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
≻ 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 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.
⊱ Heavy armor doesn’t care about ranged attackers
You should never take Anticipation on a heavy armor user for two reasons. Reason one is that heavy armor already does a great job at protecting you from ranged fire. Reason two is that enemies understand reason one and they will prioritize shooting Nimble units instead because they don’t understand that Crossbows are bad against Nimble units. If you are worried about Crossbows attacking your Forge units you would be better off taking Colossus instead since that is helpful for a number of other reasons as well as helping against Crossbows.
Goblins are the only enemy type that can output enough ranged fire to legitimately threaten Nimble units. I’ve described plenty why I don’t think Anticipation is necessary, but if you want to play it safe and/or you struggle with Goblins then Anticipation can help.
“I can do this all day.”
The shield defense bonus is increased by 25%. This also applies to the additional defense bonus of the Shieldwall skill. Shield damage received is reduced by 50% to a minimum of 1. The ‘Knock Back’ skill gains +15% chance to hit.
+ Provides MDF, the best stat
+ Helps keep your shield intact
+ Easy pickup for any dedicated shieldbro
− Shield characters have poor offense
− MDF returns are poor without Heater or famed
≻ Shield gains are not rounded, so you get 1 defense from every 4 natural defense of the shield
≻ Round Shields gain +3 Defenses (from 15)
≻ Heater Shields gain +5 MDF (from 20)
≻ Kite Shields gain +6 RDF (from 25)
≻ Famed Shields with higher bases will have those higher bases get boosted
≻ Shieldwall will double the bonuses gained
≻ Shield damage reduction essentially doubles durability against Split Shield attacks. Regular attacks that hit the shield only do 1 damage regardless of Expert
⊱ MDF is the best stat
Shield Expert is a decent to strong perk that combines a number of bonuses into a nice package that overall adds up to make it a pretty easy pick for any bro who is going to have his shield out at all times. Recall that melee defense has increasing returns (see Game Mechanics), and Shield Spec + Heater makes it very easy to achieve high defense scores.
The extra defense granted by Shield Spec is the most important point and I’m going to focus on the bonus to the Heater as any dedicated tanking bro is going to be using a Heater Shield. 5 MDF for a perk slot is not super compelling by itself (certainly not bad), compare that to Dodge or Gifted for example, but there is more going on here. The bonus goes to +10 when Shieldwalling and that is quite good, even if you probably won’t be Shieldwalling all of the time unless it is a super tank build that never attacks. Still, 5-10 MDF is a good bonus, very similar to Underdog most of the time. I don’t value the Kite Shield bonus very highly as unless you are fielding an entirely shielded frontline, enemies will just shoot your non-shield guys instead anyway regardless of using a Heater or Kite. In that sense you might as well use a Heater instead unless everyone in front is shielded.
⊱ Shield durability is important
Not to be underappreciated, the shield damage reduction part of the perk is actually quite nice in encounters with Orcs and Barbarians. The obvious reason is that if your shield breaks then you no longer have its protection and the perk value is lost. The less obvious reason is that every turn they spend trying to break your shield, is a turn they aren’t trying to kill you. Any shield smash cannot hurt you and getting more wasted enemy turns is great. That being said, even with Shield Spec they will still break eventually (even quickly). It can be a good idea to bring a backup shield in these fights, or use a high durability Orc Metal Shield instead.
⊱ There’s still more benefits
Lastly, the +15% hit chance on Shieldbash is likely not something that you will use very often, but it is nice to have when it comes up. One scenario where you may want to use Shieldbash is to knock a guy off of a high ground tile so that you can take it for yourself. Whiffing on a Shieldbash is extremely annoying because it prevents you from taking that high ground tile. Even if you try a second time and land the hit, you are at the mercy of the turn order and if an enemy gets the next move there is a very reasonable chance he takes the newly unoccupied high ground tile. Extra hit chance is appreciated here, even if it isn’t used very often.
Famed shields have a high appreciation for Shield Expert. Famed shields are entirely at risk of being shattered (and they cannot be repaired if they are). Shield Spec is therefore highly recommended if you don’t want to lose your fancy shields. Famed shields that roll with higher defense values also get better yields from the passive defense bonus of the perk.
⊱ Early game: You have a lot of shieldbros
You tend to use a lot of shield users in the early game due to having poor defense and durability. While the effect on Round Shields is fairly weak (compare to Dodge or Gifted), an early Heater Shield buy with Shield Spec and some other defensive perks can make just about any bro respectably durable for early game encounters.
⊱ Tanks: Shield Spec is an easy pick
Kind of obvious but since using a shield prevents you from using a 2hander or Duelist it leans in favor of a more defensive unit whose job is to hold dangerous positions rather than to deal damage. Whether you go for a more defensive oriented super tank who rarely attacks or for a more balanced tank, Shield Spec is going to be good.
⊱ Famed shields: You don’t want them breaking
I mentioned this above, but to prevent your fancy shield from breaking and to further multiply shields with extra defense, you’ll want Shield Spec.
⊱ Anti-Orc/Barbarians: Your shield won’t last long without Shield Expert
Orcs and Barbarians have dangerous axes and 2Handers. They also really like smashing shields so without Shield Expert your shield is going to be in pieces on the ground very quickly. The more time they spend breaking your shield is more time that they are wasting. It can even be a good idea to bring Orc Metal Shields or Kite Shields to these fights even though they are worse than Heaters, just for the extra durability. If you use Heater Shields I recommend bringing two if you have enough of them and don’t mind the FAT cost of carrying a spare.
⊱ Spearwall support: Knock enemies back out
If your Spearwall gets breached and you want to re-enable it and there is only one enemy currently zoning you, you can smack them away with your shield and then Spearwall up again. This is very expensive on Fatigue and you should really try to either kill that enemy or smack him away with a different bro, but if you want your spearman to have his own ability to do so then this is an option.
⊱ Dagger Puncture: Puncture doesn’t get Double Grip
When building a Dagger bro who is going to be spamming Puncture, you can use a shield without any offensive penalty since Puncture cannot gain Double Grip effects anyway. This is a unique case for a damage focused build to also be able to main a shield. This build is a good way to make use of a unit with high MSK and FAT but maybe has poor MDF as the shield can compensate.
⊱ Defensive Polearm: Shield swap shenanigans are possible.
Since Polearms cost only 5 AP with Spec they can operate similar to the pre-nerf Quick Hands builds but without QH. You can attack (5 AP) and swap to a Heater (4 AP). Then next turn you let the enemies attack into your Heater and then switch back (4 AP) and attack (5 AP). This can allow for a defensive Polearm build that is capable of having a shield out 100% of the time while still attacking every turn. The downside is that moving messes this up and it doesn’t synergize well with Berserk if you have it. You can run this kind of build without Shield Spec, but if you want to lean into the defensive ability of the build then it can help. This build could also reasonably run Dodge since you are just doing a 12 Fat attack once per turn, allowing you to further stack up MDF.
⊱ Anybody who mains a shield
Again, this is pretty straightforward, if you are going to be using a shield a lot then consider grabbing this perk. Otherwise you don’t need it.
“This technique has been passed down the Armstrong family line for generations!”
The Fatigue penalty from wearing armor and helmet is reduced by 25%.
+ Provides a good chunk of FAT
+ Helps equip heavier/better armor
− Usually you would enjoy being able to skip this if you can get away with it
− Less useful on famed armors
≻ Calculates on the helmet/body separately, rather than combining them and doing one reduction
≻ Always rounds up in your favor, even with a .25 decimal
≻ Ex.: A -8 hat and -20 armor will provide 7 FAT (2 from hat, 5 from body)
≻ Ex.: A -9 hat and -21 armor will provide 9 FAT (3 from hat, 6 from body)
≻ Ex.: A -11 hat and -23 armor will still provide 9 FAT
≻ Ex.: Maxes at -16 from 300/320/-62 armor. 300/300/-58 armor is -15
≻ Saves +1 Initiative for each point of Fatigue saved
≻ Updates as you change your armor around
≻ Will count (and reduce) the additional Fatigue cost of attachments if they push your body armor into the next threshold
≻ Will provide less value if combined with an armor using Light Padding Replacement (LPR), but they do stack. LPR will reduce FAT cost first, also rounding up in the same way. Then Brawny will apply after, rounding up again
≻ Ex.: Coat of Plates (-42) drops to -33 with LPR, which then drops to -24 with Brawny
≻ Does not effect Nimble% despite lowering cost of armor
⊱ Brawny value vs. other stat perks
Brawny is another flat stat perk. When using top of the line non-famed armor the value caps at 15-16 Fatigue which is 3.75-4 levels worth of Fatigue which is a pretty good value. This is the ceiling for Brawny value. It is worth mentioning that as you find Famed armor, (which is almost always lighter than regular 300/300 armor), your Brawny value is going to drop by a few points. You might say “who cares, I want the Fatigue anyway” and that’s fine, but if you are trying to decide between Brawny and a different stat boosting perk then you may want to consider that Brawny gets weaker with Famed armor.
Famed 300 armors have a wide range of FAT costs that will impact Brawny value. With the lightest 300 famed armors Brawny value could be as low as 9 FAT, or only 2.25 levels worth. With the heaviest possible famed armor you will still get 16 from Brawny. Focusing too much on famed armor is a bit of a min-max mindset, as there is no guarantee you will find a lot of famed armor or that it will roll particularly well or that you will find it early. If you just want the dang FAT regardless of what the future might hold then just take Brawny and don’t worry about it so much.
Brawny is going to end up being about 3-4 levels worth of Fatigue generally, which is on par with most of the other stat perks except for Colossus. If you want to be raising your hp then Colossus will easily beat Brawny in terms of raw value. You can of course use both. If you are going to be Indomitable spamming then the extra FAT might be more valuable than hp in order to reach the necessary FAT pool to be using Indom and/or the Adrenaline cycle comfortably(see Adrenaline).
⊱ How valuable is more FAT for this bro?
It isn’t all that uncommon to see people in the community claim that Brawny is an auto-pick for Forge units and I think that this is shortsighted. It really depends on the build and what your comfortable FAT level is. Some builds can function with as little as 30 or 40 FAT pool, others really enjoy having 80+. If you can skip on Brawny then you can obviously take a different perk instead, so think about what is more valuable to you (perk/statwise) rather than just assuming Brawny is needed.
Despite existing early in the perk tree, Brawny won’t actually start giving good value until you get your hands on some heavy armor which tends to take some time. If you grab it at level 4 with some Raider armor you are going to get about 5-6 FAT out of it which is really weak compared to other perks you could be grabbing instead. Gifted for example gives 4 Fatigue + other stats. If you do want Brawny, grab it later once you have your heavy armor and it makes more sense.
Although Brawny also technically grants Initiative as well, it is hard to say how useful this is. By virtue of heavy armor you are still going to be slower than most things, and getting 10-16 INI is very unlikely to change that. Rather you may want to grab Adrenaline if you want your Forge unit going fast, which Brawny can help support by giving you more FAT.
⊱ Heavy armor users that want more Fatigue
Brawny is pretty straightforward, if you want more Fatigue and your armor is heavy enough to get good value out of the perk, then consider picking it up.
⊱ Adrenaline/Indom: Reach necessary FAT pool to cycle
There are many strong activatable skills you can be picking up and Brawny can help you use them more often. If you are using the Adrenaline cycle (see Adrenaline) then you need to be reaching a certain FAT threshold to make it work with whatever you want it to do. Brawny can help you reach that threshold, but if you are already at the threshold then Brawny may be a poor pick.
⊱ Recover support
The larger your Fatigue pool is, the more that you can get back with Recover.
⊱ Light armor/Initiative: Brawny is not your pick
You should not be taking Brawny on an Initiative build just because it gives Initiative. With common Nimble armor lines you are going to get 5 FAT and 5 INI from Brawny. That’s a very poor value for a perk point. Nimble builds can take Relentless if they want INI support, and Gifted if they just want more stats.
⊱ Misconception – Brawny is an auto-pick for heavy armor users
No, decide for yourself if the FAT gain is worth the perk cost. You can wear heavy armor without this perk.
“Nothing more so than death.”
At all times your Initiative is reduced only by 50% of your accumulated Fatigue, instead of all of it.
+ Provides a lot of Initiative if you burn through Fatigue
+ Assists going earlier in the turn order, which Initiative builds can appreciate
+ Can provide a small defensive benefit if used with Dodge
− Doesn’t do much if you aren’t guzzling Fatigue
− Not very useful unless you have a good reason for wanting to go fast
≻ INI loss per FAT loss is reduced from 1 per 1 to .5 per 1. So if you have 80 accumulated FAT, you only lose 40 INI instead of 80.
≻ Does not reduce the INI cost of equipping armor/weapons.
≻ Does not eliminate the INI penalty for using the ‘wait’ command (-25% INI for the next turn order)
⊱ Gotta go fast: Relentless supports Initiative builds
Relentless is a niche perk that supports Initiative focused builds by reducing the amount of Initiative loss you sustain over the course of the fight. How useful Relentless is going to be depends on how quickly you accumulate Fatigue and how important it is for your bro to go early in the turn order.
An INI based build doesn’t necessarily need Relentless. If you aren’t accumulating a lot of FAT then Relentless isn’t going to be doing much for you. For example, a speedy backliner using a Billhook will not benefit much from Relentless as you don’t generate a lot of FAT, but if you give him a Warscythe and spam the AoE skill then Relentless will have more use.
The main reason to use Relentless is to support builds that want to go first consistently, and we will talk about some of those strategies in the use cases. Supporting Dodge value is a nice side effect, but not the main reason to use Relentless. With some INI investment and Relentless you can attempt to achieve a state of permanent Adrenaline. Unless fighting Goblins, it is entirely possible to build a bro capable of going first every turn if his INI is high enough and he has Relentless without having to deal with the cost of Adrenaline spamming. Going first or early in the turn order is valuable as acting before enemies can allow you to kill or debuff them before they get to act.
⊱ Relentless and Dodge: Dodge alone does not make Relentless good
When combined with Dodge, Relentless becomes a weak defensive perk in addition to supporting your Initiative. Taking Relentless just for the sole purpose of maintaining high Dodge value is not very compelling. For example, with an 80 FAT pool fully filled Relentless will save you 40 INI which translates to 6 defense from Dodge. 6 defense isn’t bad by any means, but most of the time you will not be capped on your FAT. So Relentless offers 0-6 defense over the course of the fight. Compare that to other defensive picks like Shield Spec, Underdog, Reach, Gifted, or even against other stat perks. An 80 FAT pool is high, and the maximum defensive benefit of Relentless can often be 5 or even 4.
Relentless is in a way the opposite of Dodge in this case. Dodge starts strong and gets weaker over time. Relentless starts with nothing and gains some value over time. Due to the nature of increasing returns from defense you may decide you want Relentless anyway just for additional defense stacking and that’s fine if you deem that worthy of your perk point, but it is by no means necessary or even particularly strong to use Relentless just to support Dodge.
⊱ Fencing: Relentless increases Lunge damage
Probably the most obvious build that appreciates Relentless. Fencers deal more damage the higher their INI so Relentless doubles as a damage perk in this build. Fencers also guzzle FAT so Relentless will start providing good value quickly. Most agree that Relentless is a core pick on Fencing builds. Fencers also want to have Dodge so Relentless is offering some defensive benefits as well.
⊱ Overwhelm: You must outspeed your opponent to get value
Overwhelm needs to go fast in order to work at all and Relentless can help you maintain that speed. How useful Relentless is here is dependent on how fast you gain FAT and which enemies you are trying to outspeed. For example, Overwhelm Warscythe and Warbow will appreciate the help, but Overwhelm Sword might not need it.
⊱ Stagger/Daze: Debuffs are better if they land early
Stagger and Daze are strong debuffs that are far more useful if they land before the enemy acts this turn. Relentless can help you achieve this goal without having to resort to Adrenaline. 2H Hammer benefits more because of the AoE eating FAT and Stagger immediately updating the turn order. A bro like this can act as a setup man and skip on perks like Berserk/Frenzy since he is focused on knocking enemies down the turn while dealing good damage so that your slower bros can more easily get the kills. If you are just going to be using single target attacks then your FAT generation is low and Relentless won’t be as strong here.
⊱ Defensive 2handers: Stack a bunch of MDF perks
People usually like being really aggressive with their 2handers and maybe using something like Indom to keep them safe in a pinch. An alternative and interesting way to make use of 2handers is to really stack defensive perks since your base damage is already going to be high anyway. Picking up Dodge/Relentless/Underdog, maybe also Gifted/Reach/Overwhelm can allow for even units with poor stats to effectively wield 2handers and achieve a good degree of passive durability due to increasing returns from defense, while still dishing out decent damage.
Note that single target 2Handers like 2H Mace don’t gain much benefit from Relentless if you are just doing your one 12 FAT attack once per turn, but if using AoE skills, especially coupled with Berserk, then you will accumulate FAT.
⊱ Duelists: No special interaction with Initiative
For maybe thematic reasons, some people seem to think that Duelists are supposed to be fast and dodgy. However, there isn’t really any unique synergy between Initiative and Duelists. Not that having more Initiative is bad or anything, but it also isn’t uniquely better on Duelists.
⊱ General Initiative support: Going faster is usually better
It is hard to determine how valuable higher Initiative would be at any given time. It is too dependent on your bro and what enemies you are fighting. Maybe you aren’t using any fancy skills that appreciate high speed, but you want some Initiative support anyway. Relentless is worth a large chunk of Initiative (assuming you Fatigue up) and there can be value in that. Goblins will likely out speed you regardless, and you will likely out speed Ancient Dead regardless, but it isn’t always so clear cut.
⊱ Misconception – Dodge is married to Relentless
No. I explained this above. While Relentless does support Dodge slightly, that isn’t a very compelling reason to select it by itself, even with increasing returns from defense. Dodge is often perfectly fine without Relentless.
On the flip side, you can use Relentless without using Dodge. For example, an Overwhelm Warscythe or Warbow might never be in danger to need the Dodge defense, but can appreciate Relentless helping them dole out their Overwhelm stacks to better support the team.
“Teamwork makes the dream work.”
Unlocks the Rotation skill which allows two characters to switch places while ignoring zone of control as long as neither character is stunned, rooted or otherwise disabled.
+ Saves lives by bailing out yourself or other endangered bros
+ Provides tactical flexibility and security
+ Can be used offensively
− Expensive to use, you may not have enough FAT when you most need it
− With smart play and good positioning it usually isn’t needed
≻ Costs 3 AP and 25 FAT and ignores Zone of Control
≻ Can be used to swap with NPC units such as Dogs or allies
≻ Can be used multiple times per turn if AP/FAT allow
≻ Cannot be used by or with bros who are rooted or disabled (stun/vines/net/sleep/etc.)
⊱ Rotation saves lives
Rotation is a well-respected perk in the community and for good reason. It is one of only a few ways to ignore Zone of Control which gives you a lot of tactical flexibility.
Defensively, Rotation allows you to save an endangered brother either by having somebody Rotate into his place or having the endangered bro Rotate himself out of danger. It isn’t uncommon to lose bros who get into an unfortunate situation despite the rest of the battle going well and your team being mostly healthy. Rotation can save the day here. Rotation can very well save lives in a way that no other perk can compete with (Footwork kind of). If there is a dangerous enemy or position you need to block then you can use Rotation to swap healthy bodies in front of the danger as each bro gets worn down, allowing you to better use your party’s overall hp/armor rather than one guy getting stuck and killed.
⊱ Rotation can provide other benefits
Offensively, Rotation allows you to manipulate your formation once everyone gets locked down to either focus fire dangerous enemies or line up AoE attacks, or just better position yourself.
Rotation can also help with mobility. For example you can move 5 tiles in one turn by having someone rotate a bro forward and then that bro moving 4 tiles. Situations where this matters are rare, but no other skill in the game lets you move 5 tiles in a turn (except Lunge + Berserk). You can even move 6 or 7 if you really wanted to by having multiple people Rotate chain the same guy forward.
Rotation allows you to swap with NPC units, so that dumb Billman who jumped into the frontline can be saved (if you want), or that Footman trying to steal your Knight kill can be removed. It also lets you swap with dogs you drop, allowing you to use a very expensive pseudo Footwork if necessary, or allowing you to swap your dog out if he’s biting down that armor you are trying to knife for.
Rotation can allow you to better maneuver around tricky or tight terrain. For example, if you have an interesting choke point funnel or hill that you can make use of but there aren’t very many useful tiles for you to stand on behind it, then you can use Rotation to sub fighters in and out.
⊱ Rotation is not a silver bullet
Rotation isn’t perfect however. 25 FAT cost is expensive and sometimes you may find yourself in danger without enough FAT to use Rotation to bail out. If you position your team poorly and end up with a very vulnerable bro, say a guy surrounded by 4 Orcs, then Rotation can save the guy in danger but it doesn’t solve the Orc problem. In this case you’ve put a new guy in danger instead and spent a lot of AP/FAT doing so. So while Rotation can definitely buy you some time, you do still need to be able to handle threats and position your team in a smart way. If a bro is dying and his only options to Rotate in his place are your archers then you have another problem. Rotation is more useful and reliable if your backline is capable of taking some heat. Lastly, with a good understanding of the game and how to properly position your team and formation, you often don’t need Rotation at all.
Rotation is often compared to Footwork and most agree that Rotation is better. Footwork can only save yourself but Rotation can save yourself or save your buddy which makes it a lot more enticing. Rotation also puts a body in your place so that whatever danger you are trying to escape from is blocked at least temporarily. Depending on the situation that may be a pro or a con compared to Footwork. The perks do different things and I’m not going into a full-fledged comparison here. Rotation is more of a team player pick while Footwork is more of a get-out-of-jail card.
⊱ Early game: Keep good bros alive
Rotation is excellent in the early game when you have a bunch of weak and fragile scrubs that can’t take more than a few hits. You want to keep your talented prospects alive and Rotation can help, whether it is on the talent itself or on lesser bros.
I don’t like designated martyrs personally, but if you are into that and the guy survives for awhile then he may find some use in Rotation to save other guys who are more important.
⊱ Tanks: Get in and out of danger
There are three good reasons that Tanks may want Rotation. One is that they tend to put themselves in danger, so having an out is good. Two is that it is their job to defend less durable bros, so being able to Rotate in for others is great. Three is that tanks aren’t your main damage dealers, so if they spend their Fatigue and AP Rotating then you aren’t missing out on much. However if you plan on parking the tank in a dangerous position and then just permanent Indomitable cycle (see Adrenaline) then Rotation may be wasted.
⊱ 2Handers: Good AP synergy with Rotate
Since 2Hander swings cost 6 AP and Rotation costs 3, they synergize well. You can use it offensively to get into a better place for your big swings or as an escape tool in case you get in trouble. 2H Mace can particularly enjoy having Rotate in order to have more options on who you can Daze with your attack and also because by itself the 2H Mace doesn’t use very much FAT which makes it easier to support Rotation’s cost.
Some people have run large companies of 2Hander + Polearm bros with QH and Rotation. The frontline can spam expensive AoE attacks and then when their FAT is full the backline guys can Rotate in and switch to their 2Handers and continue the assault. The original frontliner can then continue in the back with a Polearm or use Recover so that he can Rotate back in with more AoE attacks.
⊱ Backliners: Durable backliners make the best Rotate users
Having backliners, preferably with respectable durability and defense, is one of the best ways to make use of Rotation. Your frontline is at much higher risk of having FAT problems than your backline and that can block them from trying to Rotate themselves out. Since Polearms require very little FAT to use, it nearly guarantees that your Rotation will be available when you need it.
Since the backline isn’t zoned, they have the freedom to move around to wherever the Rotation is needed as well. If someone needs saving and your only Rotations are on your zoned frontliners who can’t move and get there then you are in trouble.
Finally, your back line is unlikely going to take any significant damage in a fight. Having Rotations whether they are on your frontline or backline can be a great way to help distribute damage across the whole party instead of putting the full brunt of it onto the frontline. If a frontliner gets into trouble then he can swap positions with a fresh backliner.
⊱ Misconception – Rotation is mandatory on frontliners
Rotation is a good perk, but you certainly don’t need it on everybody. You don’t even need to use it all and you can still be completely fine. It is certainly a good option to have somewhere in the party, but you don’t have to be taking it on everybody unless you like to do so.
Rally the Troops
“As brothers we fight. As brothers we die.”
Unlocks the ‘Rally the Troops’ skill which can rally fleeing allies, and raise morale of all nearby allies to a steady level. The higher the Resolve of the character using the skill, the higher the chance to succeed.
+ Auto-pick on your Bannerman
+ Needed to safely fight certain enemies
∽ Nobody else needs it
− Is a dead perk in the majority of battles
− Isn’t completely reliable
≻ Costs 6 AP and 25 FAT and has a range of 4 tiles
≻ If check is successful, will raise morale of allies by one level or two (if fleeing), up to a maximum of Steady morale. You cannot gain Confidence from Rally
≻ Formula: Target’s current RES + 40% of Rally user’s RES – 10 * distance from user. Fleeing brothers ignore the distance penalty. The target(s) make the morale check(s), not the Rally user
≻ Being at lower morale imparts a RES penalty, which makes it harder to pass the morale checks to get your morale raised by Rally. If Fleeing then you ignore the distance penalty which helps pass the check
≻ As an example, a Fleeing brother who has 40 current RES after his morale penalties and any other modifiers (such as Banner/adjacency/etc.) will have a 88% chance to Rally from a 120 RES Rally: (40 RES + (.4 * 120))
≻ As per the formula, raising the RES of your team as a whole as well as raising the RES of your Rally user will both increase the chances of Rally succeeding
≻ A bro can only be Rallied once per turn
≻ Assumption – Max chance to succeed is probably 95%
≻ Rally will not work on your Dogs or friendly allies
There’s not a whole lot to say about Rally. You are going to pick it on your Bannerman no questions asked. While it is technically possible to win any encounter in the game without Rally, (yes even against Geists and probably even in Monolith), the question is why would you unless you are doing some goofy challenge run like no perks?
Most of the time Rally isn’t going to do anything, but it is an insurance policy against disaster that you are going to want regardless. There are some enemies that will specifically attack your morale and Rally is important in these fights.
It is important to understand the formula. Raising your bro’s RES makes it easier to pass the Rally check to improve morale. This means that you do still need decent RES on your team and can’t just run a bunch of clown Deserters at 30 base RES and expect to get away with it just because you have a good Bannerman with Rally. When you are Fleeing you get a 30% RES penalty which will make it harder to pass the Rally check. Non-Fleeing brothers face a distance penalty of 10 per tile, which can make it somewhat unreliable trying to raise Wavering brothers 3 or 4 tiles away.
Your Bannerman should be leveling RES every level and using buffs like Mind/Gifted, and the Sash. He’s the natural and best candidate on your team to have Rally. You don’t need to use it on anybody else.
These enemies all have AoE skills that reduce your team’s morale. Rally is an important skill to have to safely fight these enemies, as otherwise you are at an enormous risk of having Fleeing brothers and no easy way to save them.
“Too weak. Too slow.”
Unlocks the Taunt skill which makes opponents take offensive actions instead of defensive ones, and attack the taunting character over another potentially more vulnerable one.
+ A good control tool for your tank units
+ Can help protect weaker units from attacks
− Can struggle in larger battles where you are outnumbered
− Has to compete with other strong defensive skills
− Suffers from very rare but annoying inconsistency issues
⊱ Basic mechanics and control abilities
≻ Costs 4AP, 15FAT, and has a range of 3 tiles
≻ Will not prevent enemies from using AoE skills but it does encourage them to put the Taunt user into the AoE arc
≻ Will prevent Warrior pushing and Unhold throwing
≻ Will prevent skills like Shieldwall, Riposte, and Rotation from being used
≻ Will not prevent the above skills unless those targets are engaged with the Taunt user. For example, Taunting an Unhold 3 tiles away fighting a different bro will not stop the Unhold from throwing (the Taunt will have no effect at all in this case)
≻ Will not prevent Split Shield from being used
≻ Using Taunt on an enemy that cannot reach the Taunt user in any capacity will have no effect
≻ If an enemy is Taunted but then his or your position gets altered by something like Rotation and you are no longer in reach of each other then the Taunt will be ignored
⊱ Understanding AI nuance
≻ Does not work on Hexe
≻ Will not make enemies brainless, and Taunt may be ignored if other AI factors outweigh it
≻ Will encourage enemies to engage into the Taunt user’s ZoC if there is an unobstructed means for them to do so, they are not already zoned, and they have already committed to fighting (meaning that if the enemy team is camping because they have ranged advantage, Taunt will not convince enemies to leave their line to go fight you)
≻ By extension, a unit like a Necromancer/Priest will not jump into your ZoC because you Taunted him. A non-dumb enemy will not jump into your Spearwall because you Taunted him
≻ Taunting a Billman 3 tiles away will not stop that Billman from just staying where he is right now and hitting somebody else if he is able to, but if the Billman has to move anyway then he will move toward and attack the Taunt user if there is space to do so
≻ Will be ignored in some rare cases. For example, I engaged a Master Archer in melee and he completely ignored my Taunts
≻ If you Taunt a Schrat from one side but give him a nice juicy 3 bro line on the other side then the Schrat will ignore your Taunt and go for the juicy 3 hit attack (should be fixed with recent updates)
≻ Will cause Necrosavants to warp onto the Taunt user assuming other Savant AI factors do not outweigh the Taunt. For example, Savants hate being surrounded, so if the only way to engage your Taunt user is to get surrounded then Taunt will be ignored. In rare cases a Savant may warp onto your Taunt user but then attack someone else instead
≻ Will work on enemy range units who happen to be in 3 tiles range even if they have to shoot past their own units to try and hit you, but it may be ignored if you leave a juicy target out in the open elsewhere
As the lengthy mechanics might suggest, Taunt is a perk that will take some practice to get the hang of. It can be a strong control ability but you have to understand how it works and how it can help you. Please refer to the mechanics if you skipped them because I don’t want to repeat myself too much.
⊱ Taunt offers control and utility for your team
Taunt can be a good perk to have on your tanks if you want the additional control option, even if it isn’t something you are always using. Taunt works best on bros who rarely ever plan on attacking because if you can’t hit anything anyway then you might as well make use of your AP/FAT protecting your teammates instead. In this regard, you can make a super tank who never levels skill because he isn’t planning on attacking anyway. It is pretty common to find a cheap background early in the game who has terrible skill but good defensive potential. Making them a tank with Taunt makes sense. Taking Taunt on a skilled unit doesn’t make much sense because you could be spending your time killing instead of Taunting.
Taunt is another control tool for our arsenal. You can use it to block annoying displacement abilities, save a bro who is at risk of dying, protect your damage dealers, control Necrosavant movement, and much more. In some ways Taunt can be kind of similar to a Stun. Although the enemy does get to attack still, presumably your tank should more than capable of avoiding or absorbing the hit. Taunt can be a good way to protect other frontliners so that they can deal their damage in peace.
⊱ Taunt has some limitations
Despite the utility that Taunt offers it suffers from two problems that lead to it commonly being disregarded by the community. Problem one is that Taunt doesn’t deal any damage. This becomes a bigger concern when you start getting outnumbered. Not to be misunderstood, it is completely fine to have one or a few dedicated tanks that never deal any damage, but this brings us to problem two. Problem two is that dedicated tanks have other skills that are usually taking priority over Taunt, namely Indomitable and Shieldwall. If you are throwing Taunts around then you are giving up on one or both of these defensive skills which makes your tank more vulnerable.
Early game: Taunt does better
Taunt can be great early on for a few reasons. One, you can use it to help protect valuable brothers you want to make sure stay alive to a high level. Two, it can help you farm for armor much more easily by controlling priority targets like Leaders while your team mops up their escort and later daggers them down. Three, battles tend to be small and evenly matched, so a Taunt user controlling one or two enemies can give your team a good advantage. An early Taunt user is going to want a Heater Shield purchase and defensive perk support.
If you are into martyrs then you can give them Taunt to help protect teammates.
Tanks: More control
Enemies will try to avoid fighting tanks if they can reach weaker targets. Smart positioning can only get you so far for your tank. Taunt can help them exert control over the battlefield and better support the team.
Taunt blocks Warrior pushing and Unhold throwing. Indom does a better job at doing this but it is unlocked further into the tree. Taunt is a much earlier option if you are looking for earlier control against these enemies.
Anti-Necrosavant: Control Savant movement
Although Savants have a rare chance of ignoring Taunts (they will not warp themselves into being surrounded), Taunt is a very good ability to control their movements and protect more vulnerable brothers. You can also manipulate Savants into wasting turns this way. If a Savant moves then he can only attack once so it is in your favor if they move around. Savants will often try to warp off of your tank if you don’t Taunt them to go after weaker bros. You can use this to your advantage to get the Savants warping back and forth reducing the number of attacks they deliver.
Anti-Polearm: Tanks can struggle to draw Polearms without Taunt
Polearm hordes (Ancient Dead) can be highly threatening to your damage dealers and it is difficult for a regular tank to exert his influence over these types of enemies. Taunt can allow you to control two per turn, FAT allowing, giving your damage dealers some breathing room to move in.
“A jack of all trades is a master of none.”
Skills build up 25% less Fatigue. Other effect dependent on Mastery type.
+ Saves FAT, usually worth it for this alone
+ Provides additional boons of varying strength
∽ Some Masteries are more impactful to their weapon class than others
∽ Some builds don’t need one. Some builds can want multiple
− A Mastery isn’t helping if you switch to a different weapon
≻ FAT reductions do not round, so for every 4 FAT normally spent, you get 1 FAT subtracted
≻ FAT reduction calculates after addition/subtraction by Orc/Famed items. This means more help for Orc weapons and less help for Famed items that have cheaper FAT costs
≻ Saving FAT also helps you maintain higher INI
≻ In addition to saving FAT, all Masteries come with some other weapon specific benefit
≻ Hybridized weapons (such as Goedendag) benefit from Mastery depending on which skill they use. For Goedendag, Mace Mastery will only effect Knock Out while Spear Mastery will only effect Thrust
I’m going to be lumping all of the weapon masteries into one section. Each Mastery will get an individual sub section here, but I’m not going to deep dive into these in the same way that I did for the other perks as this is not a weapon’s guide and a lot of discussion on Masteries can be combined together. I’m going to be talking about the value gained by the perks themselves rather than talking about the efficacy of the various weapon classes in general.
⊱ Mastery saves a lot of FAT
Most bros are going to want to grab a Mastery because they are usually worth it for the FAT benefits alone. Mastery can easily save you 20+ FAT in a fight. The other secondary effects of Mastery range from being not very relevant to being extremely good, so some Masteries are more impactful for their weapon type than others.
Your build will play a big role into how useful Mastery is for you. For example, a super tank that never cares about attacking anyway doesn’t need a Mastery. An Orc Duelist needs Mastery to not be out of FAT in two or three turns.
Single target 2Handers are most able to get away with skipping Mastery. This is because they swing for 15 FAT normally and you recover 15 per turn, allowing you to always swing if you don’t move. Pathfinder + Mastery can allow you to swing for 12 and move for 2-3 most of the time, allowing this build to become FAT neutral on most terrain types and still move + attack even when capped on FAT.
⊱ Mastery encourages specialization, but it doesn’t lock you in
Taking a Mastery doesn’t mean you cannot use other weapon types. For example, a Warhammer bro would be better with a Sword in a regular Unhold fight even if he has Hammer Mastery, so give him a sword for that fight. A bro could QH to a reach weapon for some extra flexibility without having the Mastery for that reach weapon. You can even skip Mastery entirely and just change your equipment around depending on matchup if you don’t desire a specific Mastery effect or FAT benefit.
As I go through the various masteries I’m not going to be talking much about Fatigue. The Fatigue benefit is usually a good enough reason to grab a Mastery by itself and I don’t want to repeat that a dozen times. Instead I will be talking about other aspects of the Mastery.
“If the [brothers] must be soldiers, they will be good soldiers.”
- Bash: 13 → 10
- Knock Out: 25 → 19
- Cudgel: 15 → 12
- Stun skills go from 75% success to 100% assuming target is not immune.
75% Stun chances are really annoying. You don’t want to spend extra FAT and lower your damage and still fail your Stun because it is only 75% chance. Mastery is very important for the extra reliability which makes it more exciting on 1H Mace which is better for Stunning than 2H. If you don’t need to Stun or care about FAT then you can skip Mastery here.
Stun immune enemies include Unholds, Schrats, Lindwurms, Ijirok, Berserkers, Warriors, and Warlords.
A notable enemy that isn’t immune is the Conqueror, making Stunning a great way to limit him.
“Does more damage the less hp you have.”
- Flail: 13 → 10
- Cascade: 15 → 12
- Lash/Hail: 25 → 19
- Pound: 15 → 2 (Orc: 20 → 15)
- Thresh: 35 → 27 (Orc: 40 → 30)
- Lash and Hail also ignore the defense bonuses of shields.
- Thresh gains +5% chance to hit.
Lash is a good ability for Flails that is both expensive and is missing the normal Flail accuracy bonus against shields. Mastery makes it a lot easier to use Lash and is worth 15-25 accuracy against shielded enemies which is huge. Ignoring the shield value does not count Shieldwall bonuses.
2H Gains a little accuracy on the AoE which is hard to use, and no help to regular attacks except FAT, making Mastery more skippable unless using the Berserk Chain.
“Can’t touch this.”
- Batter: 14 → 11
- Destroy Armor: 25 → 19
- Smite: 15 → 12
- Shatter: 30 → 23
- Destroy armor deals 33% more damage against armor (multiplicative boost, makes Destroy armor go from 1.5x modifier to 2x modifier).
- Shatter gains +5% accuracy.
- Polehammer no longer gets -15% accuracy penalty for attacking adjacent targets.
Destroy armor gets a lot stronger with Mastery, and lowers the expensive cost making it much more worth using. 2Handers get some accuracy help. Good pickup for all Hammer users.
“I’ll try spinning, that’s a good trick.”
- Chop: 13 → 10 (Orc: 18 → 14)
- Split Man/Strike: 15 -> 12 (Orc: 20 → 15)
- Round Swing: 35 → 27 (Orc: 40 → 30)
- Split in Two (Bardiche): 30 → 23
- Split Shield: Varies
- Split Shield damage to shields increased by 50% (this also works on non-Axe weapons with Split Shield).
- Round Swing gains +5% accuracy.
- Loneaxe no longer gets -15% accuracy penalty for attacking adjacent targets.
Axe Mastery isn’t doing much. Splitting shields is usually not a worthwhile strategy because it takes a lot of time (AP) and FAT to do so, you give enemies a buff (Double Grip) when you break their shield, and you make them more likely to attack you (they can’t Shieldwall instead of attacking). It isn’t a practical idea to be splitting everyone’s shields and most annoying shield enemies have Shield Mastery which makes their shields even more durable.
The extra shield damage can help against Schrats, but otherwise shield breaking is not usually worth your AP/FAT. Axe mastery is very skippable if you don’t care for FAT.
“They’ve got curved swords… Curved. Swords.”
- 1H Cleave: 12 → 9 (Orc: 17 → 13)
- 2H Cleave: 15 → 12
- Decapitate: 20 → 15 (Orc: 25 → 19)
- Whip: 15 → 12
- Disarm: 25 → 19
- Bleed damage doubled to 10 per turn for Cleave attacks and 20 for Whips.
- Disarm no longer has a -15% accuracy penalty.
Burst damage is preferred to waiting around for Bleeds to apply, but you can’t always burst everything down each turn so every bit of extra damage is nice to have. Undead, Ancient Dead, and Schrats are immune to Bleed, and a decent number of enemies have Resilient, making Bleed value inconsistent between fights. The Whip should not be used as a primary weapon so the extra Bleed there doesn’t mean too much. +15% accuracy on Disarm is huge, and many people commonly add Cleaver Mastery to their Polearm users just to have Disarm utility.
Weapon Masteries (continued)
“Master how to remove your pommel and end them rightly.”
- 1H Slash: 10 → 8
- Gash: 20 → 15
- Riposte/Lunge: 25 → 19
- 2H Slash: 13 → 10
- Overhead Strike: 15 → 12
- Split/Swing: 30 → 23
- Riposte no longer has a -10% accuracy penalty.
- Split/Swing gain +5% accuracy.
If you are just using a 1H Sword and no specials then Mastery is more skippable than usual due to Swords already having lower FAT costs. With Mastery however you are almost FAT neutral (16 per turn) which is great for bros with FAT problems or if you want to maintain high INI.
Riposte focused builds will want Mastery for the accuracy and FAT. Fencers will want Mastery for the FAT which also helps keep their INI higher for stronger Lunges.
Greatsword will appreciate the bonus accuracy and FAT reduction for AoE attacks.
“Don’t forget your cloak.”
- Stab: 7 → 6
- Puncture: 20 → 15
- Stab and Puncture cost 1 less AP, allowing for three attacks per turn.
Dagger Mastery is one of the more impactful Masteries, allowing for potentially a 50% damage boost as well as the assorted mobility advantages of being able to attack for less AP. Even so, regular Dagger attacks are weak enough that even with three attacks per turn it isn’t very impressive. There are some niche ways to try and make use of this such as getting three Overwhelms per turn or trying to do a famed Dagger with Duelist, but the damage will never be impressive here.
Puncture is a strong attack however, and a skilled bro (to handle the -15% accuracy) with high FAT (to handle the 15 FAT cost per Puncture) can do pretty well for himself. This build can also freely use a Shield since Puncture can’t get Double Grip anyway. This build appreciates other high Ignore% attackers such as Duelists, 2H Mace, Crossbows, or other Puncture users assisting as the goal is to kill enemies without bothering much or at all with their armor.
With 3AP attacks you can swing a 2Hander for 6AP and QH to a Dagger for 3AP. Investing in Dagger Mastery (and even QH if you weren’t already using it for something else) is probably not worth the cost of a perk for a bit of extra damage when you aren’t getting a Berserk proc. In Blazing Deserts, a new Dagger has been revealed that gets bonus damage against Dazed enemies, so a 2H Mace that QHs to this new weapon might be an interesting idea, depending on how the stats turn out.
“I’m cool playing second banana.”
- Impale/Strike: 15 → 12
- Repel/Hook/Reap: 30 → 23
- Rupture: 12 → 9
- AP cost of Polearm actions reduced from 6 AP to 5 AP.
- Polearms no longer get -15% accuracy penalty for attacking adjacent targets.
- Reach weapons not classified as “Polearms” do not gain these bonuses such as Poleaxe, Polehammer, etc.
Polearm Mastery is one of the better Mastery effects. Going from 6AP to 5AP is a huge deal, vastly improving the mobility and utility of the weapon class. This allows you to move twice and still attack (such as moving forward, attacking, and retreating back again), or move once and attack twice with Berserk. Moving twice with a two range weapon lets you reach enemies 4 tiles away, and often being unzoned in the back gives Polearms some of the best flexibility to move around and influence the battlefield wherever they are needed. The two movement also lets you more easily get around your own bros when you are trying to find tiles you can attack from. Being able to attack enemies 4 tiles away cannot be done by any other melee weapon except Fencers, not counting Whips.
The 5AP cost also opens up many good options to pair with QH such as to combine with a 4AP attack such as 2H Cleaver, or a Whip attack. You can also use the extra 4AP to throw a Net or Grenade. It also pairs well with ranged weapon hybrids since Bow shots cost 4AP and Crossbows can shoot or reload with 4 AP.
There’s a reason why things like the Poleaxe and Polehammer feel so clunky. The 5AP capability of Polearms makes the Billhook so much better than these weapons overall, even if Poleaxe/Polehammer are more damaging sometimes.
“I said GOOD DAY Sir!”
- Thrust: 10 → 8
- Spearwall: 30 → 23
- Prong: 15 → 12
- 2H Spearwall: 35 → 27
- Spearwall no longer disables when enemies breach into your Zone of Control.
- Spetum no longer gets -15% accuracy penalty for attacking adjacent targets.
Spearwall is the main selling point of spears (aside from accuracy). Mastery makes Spearwall significantly better by allowing it to continue working even as you get breached. Even with very skilled bros, you will get unlucky eventually, and sometimes early, so having the insurance of Mastery to guarantee you get your Spearwall value is important if you want to try and use Spearwall.
“Oh please. Bianca can handle this herself!”
- Shoot Bolt: 5 → 4
- Reload: 20 → 15
- Increases Ignore% stat by 20% additive.
Mastery is very good for Crossbows, increasing Ignore% from 50% to 70% (Heavy Crossbows) which is extremely helpful for Crossbows doing what they want to do, which is dishing out injuries at will, and killing things through their armor. It is very similar to Duelist.
As an example, let’s look at a bro vs. some Chosen. Bro has a Heavy Crossbow and no perks except with or without Crossbow Mastery.
Vs Light Chosen (145 hat, 140 body):
─ No Perks: 5.17 shots to kill on average. 0% injury on first shot. <4% injury before shot 4.
─ Mastery: 3.9 shots to kill on average. 51% injury on first shot.
Vs. Heavy Chosen (190 hat, 230 body):
─ No Perks: 7.05 shots to kill on average. 0% injury on first shot. <1% injury before shot 6
─ Mastery: 4.79 shots to kill on average. 11% injury on first shot.
As you can see, Mastery makes a huge difference to the damage and injury potential of Crossbows. You should not skip Crossbow Mastery.
“And you have my Bow.”
- Quick Shot: 15 → 12
- Aimed Shot: 25 → 19
- View range and maximum firing range increased by 1.
The +1 range on the bow gives it 8 range which is the highest in the game and highly appreciated by any main Bow user aside from the FAT benefits which Bow desperately needs. The +1 vision is needed to actually get the +1 range, and does not allow you to wear a -1 vision hat without penalty. Easy pickup here.
“The reason Lances/Axes are better than Swords, because they have easy/cheap access to 1-2 range.”
- Throw Javelin/Axe: 15 → 12
- Damage increased by 40% when at 2 range.
- Damage increased by 20% when at 3 range.
- Also reduces Fatigue cost of Nets/Grenades.
Throwing Mastery is a ludicrous damage boost for Throwing, which when combined with Duelist, which also works with Throwing, allows for some of the highest damage output in the game. As an example, Duelist + Throwing Mastery Heavy Javelins at 2 range deal about 10% more damage than Heavy Crossbows with Mastery (again, at 2 range), and they get to attack twice per turn. Throwing Mastery is very good.
Reach Advantage (Reach)
Each hit with a two-handed melee weapon adds a stack of Reach Advantage that increases your Melee Defense by 5, up to a maximum of 5 stacks, until this character`s next turn.
+ Provides MDF, the best stat
+ Very strong if you gain multiple stacks per turn
+ Still ok if you only get one stack
− Value is conditional and inconsistent
− Does nothing when you miss, which compounds a bad outcome
− Not as good on weaker recruits
≻ AoE attacks can gain several stacks at once
≻ Swapping weapons will lose all current stacks
≻ Stacks last until the start of your next turn
≻ Caps at 5 stacks, which is +25 MDF
≻ Provides no value on misses
≻ Works on all 2Handers, including things like Spetum Spearwall, Polearms, and Warbrand
≻ Hitting your own bros or allies will grant you stacks
⊱ Reach helps stack MDF
Reach is a good option to consider for any frontliner who primarily wields a 2Hander and is consistently able to land his hits. Due the nature of increasing returns from MDF (see Game Mechanics), Reach has potential to be very strong on bros who already have high defense and/or who are capable of consistently getting multiple stacks per turn.
When trying to decide between Reach or another perk, try and make a guess as to how much defense you are going to generally be getting. We can reasonably expect that Reach will be granting at least 5 defense on average (for AoE or Cleaver) which makes it a fine perk already because of how important defense is. If you can consistently get around 10 defense per turn then it is looking really good.
⊱ There are three ways to get more value out of Reach
The first is to increase your bro’s skill. If your bro is missing his attacks then Reach is not helping you. Reach will work better on units with naturally high skill, and can benefit from the bro having other accuracy perks to assist in hitting. This also means that Reach will be easier to use against easy to hit enemies like Orcs, and will be worse against an Ancient Dead established Shieldwall.
The second way to get more Reach value is to attack more times per turn. Hits or misses aside, more attacks means more chances to hit. As such, AoE capable weapons like Greatswords can gain a lot more stacks per turn than single target weapons like 2H Maces. Berserk is great to get more attacks per turn.
The third way is to have high base MDF. With high defense, each stack gained is more valuable. One mistake players sometimes make it thinking that Reach can let them get away with low defense and this is a bad idea. Try and get high defense and then use Reach to further complement it.
⊱ Reach suffers from some problems
First is a win-more problem. Reach is stronger the higher your skill and defense, making it exceptional on strong recruits who are probably already going to be crushing the game. Further, if you kill an enemy and get some stacks but there are no other immediate threats then your stacks are wasted. Second problem is a lose-more problem. A weaker recruit will have less consistency getting Reach stacks up and have less defense to stack it on. Further, when you miss you are now stuck facing a healthy enemy and have no value from your defensive perk.
Third problem is that enemies can attack you before you get a chance to attack them depending on battlefield conditions, meaning you have no Reach value on their opening strike. Fourth problem is that if you spend a turn using Recover so that you can continue spamming attacks then you’ve spent a turn without gaining any Reach value (this can be mitigated with the Adrenaline cycle, see Adrenaline). Finally, Reach is unreliable in the value that it provides. Sometimes it is great and other times it fails you. Compare to other perks where you always know what you are getting.
Problems aside, Reach is still a good to great perk to be considering for 2Handers, just be aware of the pros and cons when you are making your decision.
⊱ Greatsword, Bardiche, Hammer: AoE gets more stacks
These are your go-to AoE weapons as their AoE attacks are easy to make use of without risking hitting your own troops. Frontline Warscythe can enjoy this as well. Backline Warscythe likely doesn’t need the defense.
⊱ 2H Flail, Greataxe: AoE attacks are awkward
The spin-to-win AoE attacks are far harder to make use of but can gain huge value from Reach if you manage to get yourself surrounded by large groups of enemies. Generally speaking this should be avoided, but with some clever positioning and the right build/bro you can deal enormous damage with this playstyle.
⊱ Crypt Cleaver, Rusty Warblade, Warbrand: Attack twice
These 2Handers are unique in that they attack for 4AP instead of 6, allowing you to get two attacks per turn and multiple chances to gain Reach stacks.
⊱ 2H Mace or other single target strikes: Not as good for Reach
Although not the greatest for gaining Reach value, defense is still highly valuable. Reach can still be used on single target 2Handers for some extra defense if you desire, but other defensive perks might make more sense. Dodge for example is very good on single target 2Handers. You can of course use both.
⊱ Polearms: Backline is safer
Unless you are frontlining with your Polearm, you usually don’t care for a defensive perk like Reach on the backline where you shouldn’t be getting attacked.
Spetum: Reach builds while Spearwalling
Spearwalling with a Spetum does grant stacks, making it very easy to gain 25 MDF while you have Spearwall going. This can allow bros with poor defense but high skill to pretty safely Spearwall. If anybody manages to breach then you can enjoy your added defense until your next turn. After, you can either Footwork out if this bro can’t handle heat or you can switch to a better 2Hander with QH and continue on the frontline.
If you use Adrenaline on turn 1 and have heavy armor, then turn 2 you can Spearwall and “wait” (to slow you down next turn). This way you will have your Spearwall online for all of turn 2 and 3 regardless of if you get breached. This is a long commitment to make for your Spetum bro so the extra Reach defense can be appreciated if multiple enemies manage to get through.
If the enemies fail to breach and attack you then Reach didn’t actually help you here, so you may skip it on this build in favor of other perks if you desire.
⊱ Berserk synergy: Attack more
2Handers can easily proc Berserk due to their high damage, and more attacks means more chances for Reach stacks.
⊱ Adrenaline cycle synergy: Increase stack uptime
Using the cycle and heavy armor you can achieve 100% Reach stack uptime in the same way you do with Indomitable or other skills. You achieve this by using Adrenaline to begin. At the start of the turn you go first and attack (and also use “wait” command to slow you down next turn) which gets you Reach value for that full turn. Next turn because your FAT is capped you go last, meaning your Reach value doesn’t turn off until the end of the turn after the enemies attack. Then you Recover – Adrenaline and do it again. See the Adrenaline section if you need further clarity on this.
Orcs are both easy to hit and durable, both of which favor Reach to both gain stacks and survive the counterblows from the surviving Orcs.
⊱ Misconception – Reach is an auto-pick on 2Handers
No. It’s a good perk, potentially exceptional, but understand the pros and cons and make the choice that works best for your bro and needs.
Very dangerous. If your healer gets hit with this it is probably a reset.”
With every attack, hit or miss, against an opponent that acts after you in the current round, inflict the ‘Overwhelmed’ status effect which lowers both Melee Skill and Ranged Skill by 10% for one turn.
+ Effect is strong, similar to having more Defense
+ Supports other teammates as well
+ Better against harder to kill enemies
− You must out speed your opponent to apply it
− Discourages usage of the ‘wait’ command, which is awkward
− If the enemy dies before attacking then Overwhelm did nothing
≻ You must out-speed your opponent to apply Overwhelm
≻ Still applies stacks even if you miss
≻ Lowers skill by 10% per stack, which is ~6-8 accuracy penalty per stack for most enemies
≻ Stacks cap at 6
≻ Can only apply one stack per attack action per enemy
≻ As per above, the 3H-Flail will only apply one stack per swing, not three
≻ AoE attacks can apply Overwhelm to multiple targets
≻ If a ranged attack misses and scatters to another target then both the original target and the scatter target will gain a stack
≻ Will reduce a unit’s ability to break out of Nets as Net breaking is based on MSK
⊱ Overwhelm is akin to having more MDF
Overwhelm is a good debuff but the perk itself suffers from something of an identity crisis. It is a defensive perk that requires you to attack (offense) but also not kill the enemies you are attacking. This is somewhat similar to CS although with a more focused effect. Overwhelm can help protect other teammates. This makes Overwhelm a team support perk that is better used against bulky enemies.
The effect that Overwhelm applies is quite good. I’ve talked extensively about the high value of MDF and Overwhelm is essentially an increase in defense (by decreasing opponent’s skill). Putting two Overwhelms on an enemy is usually about 12-16 extra avoidance, which is a huge value for one perk. Another upside is that your entire team enjoys this benefit. The downside is that you won’t be able to Overwhelm all threats each turn, so you still need good MDF.
Because Overwhelm affects enemies, it gets around the 50 MDF softcap, making it enormously strong on high defense brothers. Frontline shield tanks supported by Overwhelm from elsewhere are extremely durable.
Although the effect is good, Overwhelm is a very awkward perk with a number of problems holding it back.
⊱ You have to out-speed your opponent
This is not always a trivial task to accomplish. Against really slow enemies like Ancient Dead, and Orc Warriors you can very easily out-speed them without any INI investment at all. Large Beasts like Schrats/Unholds/Lindwurms aren’t very hard to out-speed either. Most humans will need you to invest into INI to reliably start out-speeding (100+ after gear is recommended, 110+ if you can), and Barbs can cheese past you with Adrenaline. Goblins are very hard to out-speed. To be clear, you do not need to be able to Overwhelm every enemy in the game for the perk to be good for you, but you do need some stat investment (which is an opportunity cost) if you want to be able to use it against more foes.
⊱ Poor synergy with the ‘wait’ command
The ‘wait’ command is a powerful tool at your disposal that gives you more tactical options. Overwhelm forces you to attack on your first action if you want to get value. Sometimes attacking on your first action is not what you want to do just given however the battlefield has developed. This can make Overwhelm awkward.
Furthermore, ‘wait’ command gives you a 25% INI penalty for the next turn order which means if you did decide to wait once then it is going to be harder to Overwhelm on the next turn. So Overwhelm very much wants you to attack on your first action and immediately end turn and not ‘wait’. This reduces your tactical flexibility.
⊱ A dead enemy is better than a debuffed enemy
Even if you’ve Overwhelmed a guy, if he is close to being dead you are still going to want to kill him before he attacks if possible. A dead enemy cannot hit you, and if you kill an Overwhelmed enemy before he attacks then Overwhelm didn’t help you. Since Overwhelm requires you to attack it is very common to kill enemies and not get value. This makes it hard to make use of against the very common weak and squishy enemy types.
Despite the awkward parts of Overwhelm, it can still be a good perk for certain bros or builds to provide general team support because again, the effect is strong. Understanding the weaknesses of the perk can help you know how to use if effectively.
⊱ Anti-slow and heavy units
Units like Orc Warriors, Schrats, Lindwurms, Unholds, Ancient Dead, etc. are slow and often bulky, meaning you can out-speed without INI investment and they may not die easily, removing several of Overwhelms’ problems.
⊱ Lower skilled bros: Less likely to kill
Low skilled bros are less capable of getting kills which means they are more likely to be able to get stacks to provide value. However, if a bro has no skill at all then he might as well use Taunt to protect the team instead as both perks are trying to achieve the same thing, protecting teammates. Overwhelm can help bros who want to attack with their AP but aren’t the best at killing.
Overwhelm might seem like a good pick on a Fencing build. It is true that Fencers will out-speed most enemies, but Fencers are also really good and killing, enjoy the “wait” command, and are highly perk starved. Skipping Overwhelm is common here.
A well positioned Warscythe can sweep across the enemy frontline and provide good damage for your team while also providing good Overwhelm support across multiple engaged targets. INIT investment and Relentless can really help this build.
Backliners have an easier time leveling INIT and picking up support perks due to being in less danger. Being unzoned and highly mobile also helps them find good targets.
Whips are commonly combined into Polearm builds for Disarm utility. You can Polearm (5AP) and Whip (4AP) on the same turn with QH, allowing you to throw Overwhelms around at range.
⊱ Dagger Mastery
Daggers can attack three times per turn with Mastery which means three Overwhelms. This does not work well with Puncture however due to the very high cost of Puncture spamming.
The community seems to like Overwhelm archery but I don’t think it is very good. It is difficult to out-speed enemy range units, Warbows guzzle FAT, Overwhelming far away melee units isn’t useful, and shooting the slow units like Warriors/Ancient Dead/Schrats is not who you should be shooting at.
Just because scatter shots can apply stacks to multiple enemies does not make it good because that means you are missing. You should not be trying to miss to get extra stacks. The shot can also easily scatter to a target who isn’t even engaged on you anyway.
⊱ Set-up bros
Not every bro needs to be a killer. You can build a fast bro who goes early in the turn order to weaken enemy units so that your other bros can get the kills. You can combine this with other debuff skills like Stagger/Daze, or just use it on a fast Warhammer guy (as an example) who Batters down armor for other bros while applying Overwhelms.
You can Overwhelm without Relentless, but it does help support it a lot, especially on weapons that eat through FAT. Weapons like Warscythe and Warbow would appreciate the help. FAT neutral builds not so much.
Nets work well here because they lower enemy INI, and Overwhelm makes it harder for enemies to break out of the Net.
Ijirok gets completely owned by Overwhelm.
Lone Wolf (LW)
When no ally is within 3 tiles of distance, gain a 15% bonus to Melee Skill, Ranged Skill, Melee Defense, Ranged Defense, and Resolve.
+ Provides a ton of stats
− Very dangerous to use, can easily get you killed
− Usually not worth leaving formation to gain this buff
− Being alone leads to RES and FAT problems
≻ A buff bubble will appear on the left of the screen when this effect is live (sometimes the bubble lags in appearance)
≻ The RES portion of this buff will multiply +RES Trophies
≻ Will update in real time as bros move around
≻ LW only checks your deployed bros and not other allies
≻ Dropped Dogs will not disable LW
≻ Ally friendlies will not disable LW
⊱ That’s a lot of stats, but at what cost?
In terms of raw value, LW is basically Gifted on steroids, and is better the more talented your bro already is. For example, if you have 80 MSK, 20 MDF and 50 RES you get 12 MSK, 3 MDF, and 7 RES out of LW. If you have 100, 40, and 60, then you get 15 MSK, 6 MDF, and 9 RES.
That’s a large chunk of stats but it isn’t that simple. Those stats don’t make your bro un-killable which presents a bit of a problem, because if he’s off Lone Wolfing and gets into trouble then nobody else is nearby to bail him out. Him being off on his own means he can’t support his teammates either if one of them are in trouble (though the LW’s mere existence will draw aggro away from the main party).
Battle Brothers is a team game. You have 12 bros that should be supporting each other. A LW has no support system and it can be very hard to save them if things start going poorly. Worse yet, if your LW is in trouble then sending bros to try and rescue him will turn off his LW buff.
⊱ LW’s need a ton of Resolve
Striking out on your own has some problems that might not be immediately obvious. Namely, Resolve is a huge concern. Even with LW’s +15% you still need a very high base RES to safely LW without constant risk of morale drops just from enemies walking up to you. There’s some hidden resolve modifiers in the game that play a big factor here. For each adjacent ally you gain a hidden +3 RES, and for each adjacent enemy you get a hidden -3 RES. As such, an interior lineman in your formation normally enjoys a +12 hidden RES buff and can face up to two enemies for -6 RES. A LW gets no free RES because he is all alone, and worse, he can be engaged by six enemies for a potential -18 RES debuff. In addition, without some clever positioning on your part, the LW is also going to be missing the Banner buff which is another 10+ RES he’s missing compared to normal. I’ve had 60 base RES LW’s drop to Fleeing just from people walking up to them. You really cannot ignore it. 70+ before LW is recommended which usually means that you are going to have to pick up Mind. If your morale drops then you’ve basically negated your LW bonus.
Your LW will really appreciate if you can position your Banner four tiles away. If you can consistently do this then it does wonders for the RES problems and you can even Rally if there is trouble. However, it isn’t easy to keep the Bannerman in perfect range safely.
Another not so obvious problem with soloing a bunch of enemies is that every time you dodge an attack it costs you 2 FAT (unless it hits a shield), and every time you get hit by an attack it costs you 5 FAT. If your LW is fighting many enemies by himself then his FAT is going to go up really fast just from incoming attacks.
⊱ LW builds are perk starved
Trying to support LW with other perks starts to get pretty costly. You likely want Mind as already mentioned. Underdog is important as you are going to get surrounded. Adrenaline/Recover/Indom are highly desirable for safety reasons. You could also consider Footwork if you want an escape tool. These and LW are all perks you could reasonably skip if you just stuck with the team which would have given you a lot more room for other perks.
At the end of the day, LW just usually isn’t worth the risk associated with trying to make use of it. That being said, it can be used and it can do well and it can be a lot of fun. I do not recommend playing Ironman when you are first practicing with LW. It will take some practice to know when you can and cannot safely make use of it. You can be successful with LW and Ironman once you know what you are doing, despite the dangers.
⊱ Spin-to-win Greataxe
Normally the 6-tile AoE of the Greataxe is very difficult to use, but this can be a perfect weapon for a LW who can punish anybody and everybody arrogant enough to engage him.
⊱ Riposte: Enemies have no other target
Whether Duelist or shielded variant, when enemies can only attack you then it guarantees that you get Riposte value. You need a very dodgy bro to try and make this work, and given Swords’ low damage vs. armor you will need some backup Swords or a different option against heavily armored foes. A build like this with the Lightning Sword can crush Ancient Dead, but you could also do the same thing without LW and stick by your team.
⊱ Flanker: Harass enemy archers
It is already an effective strategy in some fights to have one of your bros swing around the outside and jump into the enemy backline (Adrenaline can help with this). This usually sends the enemy AI into disarray as their archers try to get away from the threat. LW can be a good addition to this build. This build can work very well in Goblin fights with the Goblin Trophy to prevent rooting.
⊱ Pre-battle formation
You can pretty easily set-up LW from the start of the fight by putting all of your units on one side and the LW on the other. When fighting 30+ enemies, the overflow enemies will spawn on the top section of the map which is toward the left side of your formation. Whether or not you want your LW involved with the north enemy block you can start him on the far left or far right.
⊱ Noble War and ally units
Your own Dogs and ally units will not turn off LW, so in the Noble War and sometimes in the other Crises you can get LW value with much greater safety by hanging around a friendly Noble squad.
⊱ Fencer: LW is not recommended
Although perhaps thematic, Fencer is not a good candidate for LW as he really appreciates teammates setting up kills for him and being able to freely Lunge around. Getting bogged down in a LW horde is going to get him killed.
⊱ Super tank: Distract large portions of the enemy team
This is one of the easier ways to make use of LW. Super tanks generally want to be engaging as many enemies as possible to help ease the burden on teammates. An easy way to do this is to have your LW tank jump 4 tiles forward/left/right at the start of the fight and let enemies surround him and your team can deal with the overflow. Then when the rest is mopped up your team can go ‘rescue’ your tank who likely is incapable of dealing damage. A build like this can do very well in Monolith to stall the northern enemies, though the LW will probably die there unless the rest of your team is very fast.
⊱ Archers: LW is awkward
Although the huge RSK buff might seem exciting, it is pretty hard to get good value here on an archer. Either your Archer needs to waste a turn moving back or everyone else needs to move forward neither of which are desirable. Even if you can get it online you then have the trouble of trying to find line of sight for good shots as your melee bros are likely engaged with the enemy melee bros and the enemy archers likely out of your range now because you or they moved back.
“Your overconfidence will be your downfall.”
Any defense malus due to being surrounded by opponents no longer applies to this character.
+ Indirectly provides MDF, the best stat
+ Very good on bros on the edge of your formation
+ Still decent on interior bros
+ Stronger the more danger you are in
− Provides no value in 1v1 situations
≻ Normally, each case of surrounding provides a +5% chance to hit. See Backstabber if you need to see how surrounding works
≻ Underdog and Backstabber cancel each other out, giving normal surround effects when both are in play
≻ Worth 5 avoidance against two opponents, 10 avoidance against three opponents, and so on
≻ Does not provide extra benefit against enemy 2-range Polearm strikes. Again, see Backstabber if you don’t know how surrounding works
⊱ Underdog value is easy to get
Underdog is a good pick on any frontliner due to increasing returns from defense (see Game Mechanics). Out of all of the MDF perks, Underdog is the one with the least strings attached. You will find yourself against multiple enemies at a time and Underdog will be consistently useful. How useful does depend on where your bro is in your formation.
If you run a standard connected frontline then your interior lineman will never be facing more than two enemies at a time (unless you break formation). In this scenario Underdog is going to be providing you only 5 defense because you can only ever be engaged by two enemies. 5 defense for a perk point is still valuable just because defense is so strong, but you may want to compare this to other defensive perks like Dodge/Reach which can beat 5 defense, or even Gifted which is only 3 defense but gives other stats as well. There is nothing stopping you from using multiple or even all of these to just stack your defense as much as possible, but if you are tight on perk space then Underdog may not be your best pick here so long as you maintain formation.
You can’t really go wrong with Underdog because defense is so valuable. A unit that is surrounded by multiple enemies is exactly the unit that wants to have a bunch of extra defense to survive that dangerous position. In that regard, Underdog gives more value the worse the position becomes, and that’s a nice trait to have.
⊱ Underdog shines on the edge
Edge bros however really enjoy having Underdog. Depending on how you deploy your formation, your edge bros can face three or four enemies. That would be 10 or 15 defense from Underdog which is huge. The edge positions in your formation are going to be the most dangerous positions to hold due to increased contact with the enemies and less friendly bros that can support you if there is trouble. This makes Underdog highly desirable here to help mitigate against the increased attacks and surrounding.
Unique formations can provide more opportunities for good Underdog value. For example, you can run a four front – eight back formation where none of the frontliners are connected. This means every frontliner can be engaged by four enemies. The advantage of a formation like this is that your frontline has a lot of freedom to do AoE attacks, and enemies that jump into the pockets between your frontline are also going to be very vulnerable. The disadvantage of this formation is that your backline range units can get zoned from the front and your four frontliners take a lot of pressure.
Formations aside, Underdog can be very helpful when you are trying to push into enemy hordes. You can’t always just stand around and let the enemies walk into you. When pushing into enemy lines it is very nice not to have to worry about giving the enemy extra accuracy. The most common scenario where this is helpful is against Ancient Dead where you need to push toward their Polearms and this can put your bro into dangerous positions.
⊱ Are there any downsides?
Underdog only real downside is that compared to other defense perks, it doesn’t provide any value in 1v1 situations. Early in a fight before all of the units bunch together or late in a fight when there are less enemies remaining Underdog may not be providing any value. Compare to perks like Dodge/Gifted/Shield Spec which will always* be providing value.
Inner formation Underdog is usually only worth +5 defense, which can be beat by other perks if you are tight on space.
⊱ Tanks: You want to hold dangerous positions
Underdog is an easy pickup here. Tanks want to hold down dangerous positions so that other teammates don’t have to. They want to be surrounded so that they can draw in more attacks. They want Underdog to help protect them when they do get surrounded.
Further, Tanks can very easily get over the 50 MDF soft cap (see Game Mechanics if you don’t know what that means). Since Underdog doesn’t actually increase defense but rather decreases opponent’s skill it gets around the soft cap, making it extremely valuable on any tank who already has enormous defense.
⊱ Edge bros
Underdog is far more valuable on the edge. You should know who on your team wants to hold the edges and who on your team wants the safety of the interior rather than just randomly placing your frontliners around.
⊱ 2Hander AoE: 3+ hit AoE requires being surrounded.
The three tile AoE sweeps from the Greatsword/Hammer and the six tile sweeps from the Greataxe/Flail require you to be engaged by 3+ enemies to get full value on. If you are engaged by 3+ enemies than Underdog is worth 10+ defense. This makes Underdog a great pick for AoE bros that want to make the most of their AoE skills.
⊱ Frencers: More security on Lunging
Fencers are rather perk starved and you can run them without Underdog for sure, but having it is nice for the extra security, and it means you don’t have to be so careful about where you are Lunging around. Depending on how you want to play your Fencer, Underdog might be very good for you.
⊱ Lone Wolf: Underdog is an easy pick
If you are trying to Lone Wolf then you are very likely going to get surrounded by multiple foes and will very much appreciate having Underdog’s defensive support.
⊱ Misconception – Underdog is an auto-pick on every frontliner
No. I’m not saying this is a bad idea because the perk is good and consistently useful and it is nice to not have to think about surrounding, but interior lineman may benefit more from other perks.
“Float like a butterfly…”
Unlocks the Footwork skill which allows you to leave a zone of control without triggering free attacks.
+ A handy escape tool for vulnerable brothers
+ Can be used offensively in creative ways
+ Can allow you to be more aggressive, knowing that you have an out
− Expensive to cast, you may not have enough FAT when you most need it
− With smart play and good positioning it usually isn’t needed
− Unlike Rotation, only saves yourself rather than being able to save others
≻ Costs 3 AP and 25 Fatigue
≻ Can be used multiple times per turn, AP/FAT allowing
≻ Can move up or down one height elevation
≻ Ignores Zone of Control
⊱ Footwork provides insurance and peace of mind
FW is a nice escape tool to have on fragile bros that may find themselves in danger if you aren’t confident in your positioning game. If you have a good understanding of positioning and how the AI works then you can skip on FW for better perks.
Generally speaking, people like to put FW onto their range units. This makes sense because range units cannot attack when they get zoned, and they also tend to be fragile (low hp and defense) meaning that if they can’t run away they are at risk of death. If you are worried about keeping your range units alive then FW is definitely something that can give you some peace of mind.
⊱ Some tips for keeping your backline safe without FW
There are a few enemies in the game that are of higher threat to your ranged units than most. Orc Warriors like to push your team around and jump into fragile backliners. There are a number of ways to control this. A tight formation is a good defense here. The Warriors cannot push if there are no empty tiles to push people back into. This means a tight formation cannot be pushed around except through the edges, and your archers should be in the interior back. Indomitable, Taunt, and/or Nets will prevent Warriors from pushing and should be used to control the edges. You can also use Spearwall to delay the Warriors contact. Understanding Warrior control is the biggest step to safely skipping on FW. If you aren’t confident in your Warrior game then don’t get greedy and just use FW.
There are other enemies like Unholds, Wolfriders, and Necrosavants that could potentially reach your vulnerable units, but there are means to control these enemies as well and you shouldn’t even have archers deployed against Necrosavants.
Understanding how the AI works makes FW less relevant as a panic button because you will get better at preventing those panic scenarios from happening in the first place. Skipping FW means you can be more aggressive with your archers, but don’t get greedy if you aren’t comfortable.
⊱ FW can enable aggressive playstyles
FW allows you to be more aggressive in some cases. Knowing that you have it as a safety option means that you can take more risks. Without FW, if a Warrior is threatening to get around then you need to deal with it somehow. If you have FW then it puts less burden on your teammates to solve your problems which can be valuable.
You can be very aggressive with 2Handers and/or Polearm users that have poor defense by having Footwork to get out of any halfway dangerous situations. You can do this with other weapons as well but the AP synergy isn’t as good. Polearms enjoy having great mobility already, and FW adds to that arsenal.
Essentially, rather than thinking of FW as a panic button, you are thinking of it as a justification to hold your ground because you can always get out if needed.
⊱ Blazing Deserts
The revealed Blazing Deserts Smoke Grenade cancels ZoC in its AoE, which might be a strike against Footwork depending on how it works and if enemies are smart enough to use it to their advantage as well.
⊱ Escaping danger
Any unit that you think might be getting themselves into danger and you want an escape ability can make use of FW. This can include frontliners. Getting stuck in a bad position is the highest cause of death. FW can let you get away.
⊱ Frontline Throwing: Bounce back and Throw
If you want to use a frontline Thrower who isn’t also a melee hybrid then FW can be a way to get him out once the enemy makes contact. Rotation can also work here.
A very FAT expensive means of fighting Chosen is to have Throwing and FW. Non-Cleaver Chosen cannot move twice and still attack. You can use this to your advantage. If you are in contact with a Chosen then you can FW back, throw a Javelin at him, and then move 1 tile back (Pathfinder recommended) for 9AP. This ends your turn 3 tiles away from the Chosen and he cannot hit you. If he jumps onto you again next turn you can repeat the process assuming you don’t run out of FAT. Be careful of the Chosen having Adrenaline though. You do not want to use this strategy expecting you will never get caught with an attack.
⊱ Repositioning: Ignoring ZoC can let you improve your position
Rather than escaping, you can use FW to dance around a mothball of units ignoring ZoC and getting into more favorable positions to reach certain enemies or use AoE skills. A flanking unit can use this bounce over to a Necromancer. 2Handers have better synergy here since they attack for 6AP and can FW for 3AP.
⊱ Spearwall: FW can let you reset
If your Spearwall gets breached and you have enough FAT, you can FW back and put the Spearwall back up. With Recover and Adrenaline in the mix you can easily keep up a permanent Spearwall like this. You might want a backup Spear in case your first one starts breaking.
⊱ Fencing: FW is not very practical
It might seem like FW is a good idea on Fencing to setup Lunges, but the cost in AP/FAT makes doing so very impractical and it will just make you Fatigue out faster and weaken your Lunges. You would be better off just doing two regular slashes than a FW into Lunge. You can use FW if you want some extra safety insurance for your Fencer, but using it to setup Lunges is impractical.
⊱ Misconception – All backliners should take Footwork:
No. Your Polearm bros can be built to take some pressure if necessary, and you can protect your archers well enough without FW if you know what you are doing. Use FW if you like it, but you shouldn’t feel like it is forced.
“You won’t like me when I’m angry.”
Once per turn, upon killing an enemy, 4 Action Points are immediately regained. Characters can not regain more than their maximum Action Points and no more than 4 for a single attack.
+ One of the best perks for your damage dealers
+ Does better in the larger/more dangerous encounters
+ Can use the extra AP for defensive skills or mobility as well
− Need Fatigue to make use of the extra AP
− Can be wasted if there are no targets or useful things to do with the AP
≻ Effectively allows you to have up to 13 AP, which is enough for three 1Handed strikes or two 2Handed strikes
≻ Can only proc once per turn, even if you kill multiple enemies at once
≻ Does not proc on opportunity attacks against fleeing enemies
≻ Can be followed by Recover if you get back to 9 AP
⊱ Berserk is the premier offensive perk in the game
The nature of the game really favors Berserk for two big reasons. One, later in the game you are consistently outnumbered by larger enemy parties. Two, most enemies can be killed quickly by high tier weapons. This combination makes Berserk one of the best perks in the game for fighting the large and difficult battles you will find later on. Berserk tends to heavily outclass other damage perks in these battles (though it also works even better with other damage perks), because it greatly increases the speed in which you can dispatch the enemy party. Faster killing means less danger for your team.
Most enemy compositions will feature plenty of easy to kill enemies with maybe a few elites to go along with them. Since elite enemies generally aren’t scary without an entourage to back them up, mowing down their less durable troops essentially wins the battle.
The extra AP from Berserk can be used for more than just extra attacking. You can use it for mobility or repositioning for next turn. You can use it to swap a weapon for next turn. You can use it to cast Recover for next turn. You can use it to cast defensive skills like Indomitable or Shieldwall. AP is the lifeblood of your turn, and Berserk lets you get 44% more turns in a loose sense.
⊱ There are some weaknesses to be aware of
There are a few things to keep in mind on Berserk however. It does not do very well in certain battles where you face a small number of durable enemies. For example, in a fight against six Schrats it is not very helpful except to clear out the saplings. Similar deal against Unholds and Lindwurms. Not that Berserk is bad in these fights, but there are limits.
Berserk also burns through your FAT faster. If your FAT is capped out then you will not be able to attack with your Berserk AP.
There is diminishing returns on Berserk across the party. There are only so many enemies that you are going to be capable of killing each turn so if you have 12 Berserks then you will not be able to proc all of them.
Finally, Berserk depends on being able to consistently hit and kill things. Bros with lower skill might be better served with accuracy boosting perks than Berserk.
⊱ Damage Dealers: Berserk greatly increases damage dealing
Berserk allows 2Handers to attack twice per turn instead of once, potentially doubling your damage output. 2Handers also have no trouble getting kills.
Duelists are another of your primary damage dealers and really enjoy Berserk. You can attack three times per turn or twice with some room to move around. If you use Recover then you can Berserk into it for greater efficiency.
All forms of ranged units are very good at dealing damage and enjoy having Berserk.
Polearms can attack twice and move one tile with Berserk, giving them a large amount of flexibility and ability to find targets to take advantage of the extra AP.
⊱ Shield bros: Berserk is not a priority
While you can technically use Berserk with shields, it isn’t really the role of your shield guy to be getting kills, so he probably has batter perks he can be taking instead.
⊱ Legendary locations: Berserk shines
Monolith and Goblin City are the largest fights in the game. It is good in the other fights as well with the exception if Ijirok where it is useless. There are also a lot of large camps like Sea of Tents where Berserk shines. Berserk is better in many of the hardest fights in the game.
⊱ Killing Frenzy synergy: They proc on the same condition
Both Berserk and Frenzy proc on a kill, so it makes sense to use both together. The Berserk AP allows you to immediately attack again with a Frenzy buff.
⊱ Anti-Overwhelm synergy: Their value condition is at odds
Not that they cannot be used together, but to get Overwhelm value you need to have not killed your target and to get Berserk value you need to kill your target so they are at odds with each other. One exception is that Berserk + AoE Overwhelm can let you dole out multiple Overwhelm stacks while still nabbing a kill.
⊱ Anti-Adrenaline cycle synergy: Can’t Berserk and maintain cycle
The Adrenaline cycle requires specific actions and FAT to maintain and there isn’t room for Berserking if you don’t wish to break your cycle. See the Adrenaline section if you don’t know what I’m talking about. People still very often use Berserk on cycle builds because of how good it is and so that they can use it when not cycling.
⊱ Misconception – Berserk is an auto-pick on every damage dealer
No. Due to diminishing returns from Berserk across the party as well as its other limitations that I described, it is completely fine to skip Berserk on some bros. For some bros it just doesn’t make a ton of sense to use Berserk such as bros with very poor FAT, shield bros, Overwhelm bros, or setup bros who are designed to help other bros proc Berserk rather than proc it themselves. An example would be a speedy Hammer guy who smacks enemies down the turn order with Stagger while stripping their armor so that your other bros can grab the kill and Berserk.
You will likely have a lot of damage dealers with Berserk, but it doesn’t have to be the whole roster.
Head Hunter (HH)
“One shot. One kill.
Gain +15% chance to hit the head for critical damage each time you hit the body. Bonus is reset upon hitting the head.
+ Can increase damage output on some builds against some enemies
+ Better against lightly armored enemies
− Can actually make your bro worse at dealing damage
− Headshots are weaker than you expect
− Value is negated by Steel Brow enemies
− Outclassed by Berserk/Frenzy/Executioner even on weapons where it can be good
⊱ Effective Headshot% gained from HeadHunter
Base chances by weapon:
⊱ AoE and 3HF mechanics: Stack count only depends on first hit
Only the first hit can modify the stack count and the rest go off of whatever the headshot % is after the first hit. For example, if the first hit is a body hit, then the remaining hits all gain +15% headshot chance regardless of if any of them hit the head or not. If the first hit is a headshot then all stacks are removed and all subsequent hits roll on the base chance.
⊱ Other mechanics
≻ A buff bubble will appear in the left side of the screen where you can see how many stacks you have
≻ One stack is gained on a body hit and all stacks are lost on a headshot
≻ The headshot modifier is the very last thing to apply in the damage formula. This makes headshots weaker than expected, which disfavors HH. See the Game Mechanics section for clarity
≻ The normal headshot modifier is 1.5
≻ Brute increases the headshot modifier by .15
≻ 1H Axe increases the headshot modifier by .5
≻ Is not effected by the secondary hit of Split Man from 2H Axes. Even when the secondary hit of Split Man hits the head your stacks will not be removed, and a stack will not be gained when the secondary hit of Split Man hits the body
⊱ HH can make your bro worse: Splitting damage between head/body is not good
HH is a tricky perk that you need to be careful about using. It has the dubious honor of being the only perk in the game that can actually make your bro worse by taking it. The main problem with HH is that it encourages you to split your damage between head and body and this is not what you want to be doing. Most armored enemies with roughly equal head/body armor will die with their head armor still in tact because you break through their body armor and kill them that way. Hitting the head in that scenario is bad because they have healthy head armor to absorb the blow. With HH this happens more often, and it can actually cause you to kill things slower.
In that regard, most weapons don’t actually want to have a greater chance to hit the head, and they certainly don’t want it after they’ve already damaged the body.
It doesn’t actually take very much head armor to already make HH look bad. Let’s look at some example bros vs. a 105/115 Raider (105 hat, 115 body). The calculator carries over HH stacks between kills, as would the game.
If I put CS/Executioner onto the Warbow then HH scores equal with non-HH.
⊱ HH isn’t always bad: High armor ignoring damage (AID) weapons can get value
These tests help demonstrate one of the core principles behind using HH effectively. It is much better on weapons with high AID and will often actively hurt weapons that do not. One reason being is that high armor ignoring damage means more damage that gets multiplied by the headshot modifier. These weapons are also much better at killing without actually having to fully destroy the opponent’s armor.
Worth noting is that the Fighting Axe doesn’t especially benefit from HH here despite the bonus headshot damage done by 1H Axes. By extension, having a bro with the Brute trait doesn’t necessarily mean you should take HH.
The enemy matters a lot as well. The more armor they have the worse off HH usually looks, but it can provide value against low armor targets and with the right weapons. Also, the battlefield is a dynamic setting (unlike a calculator). You can get better HH value with smart play by focusing your HH bro on enemies who have weaker or weakened hats, and depending on how many stacks you currently have you can make educated decisions on who to target.
⊱ HH is bad against Brow, and outclassed by other perks
Another problem with HH is Steel Brow, and a decent chunk of enemies have it. Brow negates headshot bonuses and this makes HH especially detrimental if they have armor as you are splitting your damage more and not even getting your bonus headshot damage.
The following enemies have Brow: Ancient Dead (all except Savants), Unholds, Schrats, Kraken, Tentacles, Ijirok, Bannerman, Sergeant, Zweihander, Swordmaster, Master Archer, and Wardogs. It is worth noting that Dogs and Sergeants have no hat so HH is still good there. Master Archers can have no hat or a Hunter Cap so it is fine on them as well.
Even though HH can provide value as a damage perk for some weapons, it is almost always outclassed by the other damage perks (Berserk/Frenzy/Executioner), and often by accuracy perks as well at speeding up kill rates. You can make use of it (with the right weapons) but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’ve picked up the other damage perks already.
Head Hunter (continued)
⊱ Damage perk stacking
Although weaker than the other damage perks, you can certainly use all of them. Backliners can easily get away with this.
⊱ Ranged weapon: HH can work
Ranged weapons have the luxury to choose targets easier than melee units can, meaning they can better use HH to bully the enemies that deployed with crummy hats.
Crossbows and Heavy Javelins have high Ignore% with their respective Mastery (and Duelist for Javs). HH can benefit these weapons if you can fit it into your build.
Warbows are less clear. HH is useful against Goblins, low armor or naked Orc Young/Berserker, most human range enemies, and the not too uncommon human melee units who deploy with weak hats. These are all priority targets for Warbows so HH makes some sense here. However, as we saw in the Raider test above, even 100 armor is enough to start giving HH some trouble on Warbows. Generally speaking you can find enough decent targets and use smart play to get HH value on Warbows, and most of the priority Warbow targets have little to no armor anyway. HH making Warbows worse against armor shouldn’t be a huge problem, as you don’t really want to be shooting at high armored targets.
I would not recommend HH over the other damage perks on any of these weapons.
⊱ Sling: Daze memes
The Sling can apply ranged Daze status when it gets headshots. While HH can help out here, this is certainly a meme build. If your range unit is talented enough to be hitting things he should be using a real weapon that deals damage instead of trying to fish for Dazes.
⊱ 2H Mace: High damage and high AID
2H Mace has probably the highest AID in the game and is even capable of one shooting Raiders/Footman depending on their armor loadout. HH can work here.
If you wanted to do a build that attempts to injure Orc Warriors on first hit then HH can help here. Normal 2H Mace with CS has a 16-89% chance of first hit injury on Warriors depending on their armor. With HH that goes to 27-91%. Frenzy would boost it further.
⊱ Duelists: Damage perk stacking
High AID Duelists like Mace can make use of HH for some small benefit. Fighting Axe and Head Splitter are not especially stronger with HH, and should not be taking it before the other damage perks despite the expected synergy. Low AID Duelists like Swords should not use HH.
⊱ Brute and 1HAxe: HH is not automatically good here
It isn’t uncommon for people to ask for ideas on what to do with Brute characters and if HH is good for them or for the 1HAxe. Technically speaking, HH does help take advantage of Brute and/or 1HAxe but the effect is minor enough that it isn’t very compelling. You are still going to want the other damage perks first.
As an example, Duelist Mace with HH still tends to outperform Duelist Fighting Axe with HH even though the Fighting Axe would presumably benefit more.
⊱ 1H Flail: HH doesn’t make sense
HH isn’t very compelling on 1H Flails since they can just target the head at will anyway with Lash. If you aren’t using Lash then HH is likely to split your damage and make you worse.
⊱ Injury delivery: HH increases injury rates.
HH on appropriate high AID weapons tends to increase first injury rates slightly with or without CS considered, compared to the same weapon/build that doesn’t have HH.
⊱ High base headshot chance: HH isn’t necessarily good
Having a higher base headshot chance via background, weapon, or famed weapon does not necessarily make HH a complimentary pick. For example, a Killer on the Run with a Berserk Chain against our Raider example gets worse from using HH even though his base chance to hit the head is at 50%. The reason still being that HH is encouraging him to split his damage. He wants either two body in a row or two head in a row, not one and one.
HH on this bro would give a decent level of predictability though. For example, if you have one stack you are at a 65% chance to hit head already. So you could use that information to make your next attack against someone with weak or no head armor. With smart play maybe HH makes sense on this kind of bro, but don’t think that having a high chance to hit the head necessarily means you should take HH and that it will automatically be good. You still need to have a weapon where it makes sense to want to increase your headshot chance, and you still probably want the other damage perks first.
⊱ Anti-Goblins: Goblins are vulnerable to one hit kills
Goblins have low armor and low HP which makes them especially vulnerable to one hit kills compared to other factions in the game. HH is actually pretty good against Goblins and can increase the odds of one hit kills for many weapons.
For example, Warbow can benefit a lot here. The %chance of a one shot kill vs. an Ambusher with Quick Shot goes from 22.7% to 33.3% with HH. If you have Frenzy online then it goes from 64.5% to 70.3%. Maybe those don’t sound like huge gains, but when you have to kill 30+ Goblins, and your hit chance isn’t very good, every one shot kill is a blessing. Although the gain is lower with Frenzy, HH can help keep your Frenzy from turning off which is definitely welcome.
⊱ Smart targeting: Specifically target enemies with poor headgear and avoid high armor
Calculator tests and vacuum cases aside, Battle Brothers is a dynamic game and we can be smart players. With smart play, you can get better HH value than a calculator will be able to represent by having your HH bro specifically target enemies with weaker headgear, and choosing your attack targets depending on how many stacks you have. In this regard, HH can be a bit better than we usually expect, but it does require you to pay attention to what your HH bro is doing.
“Don’t answer to twinkle toes, it’s not manly!”
Hitpoint damage taken is reduced by up to 60%, but lowered exponentially by the total penalty to Maximum Fatigue from body and head armor above 15. The lighter your armor and helmet, the more you benefit.
+ Grants large passive damage mitigation
+ Provides resistance to injuries
+ Enables late game light armor builds
+ Nimble armor is cheap and easy to loot
+ Protects against burst damage and damage going through armor
− Vulnerable to focus fire and damage over time (DoT)
− Sustained burst damage is less common than repeated attacks
≻ Formula: 0.4 + (FAT penalty above 15)^1.23 × 0.01
▹A 20 FAT penalty gives: 0.4 + 5^1.23 × 0.01 = 0.472 (displays as 47%)
▹For 15 or less FAT penalty, Nimble value is 40% (60% reduction)
▹For 43 or more FAT penalty, Nimble offers no protection
▹Nimble value drops off exponentially, rewarding low FAT penalties close to 15 (see table below)
≻ Only mitigates HP damage
≻ Nimble damage reduction is more valuable because it occurs early in the damage calculation, before the 10% reduction from remaining armor and before the critical multiplier
≻ A left screen tooltip displays the Nimble value
≻ Neither the Brawny perk nor the Strong and Fat traits affect Nimble but armor attachments that alter FAT penalties do
≻ Nimble does not reduce damage from DoT effects, but may help avoid sustaining them since bleeding and poison can only be inflicted with attacks that deal 6 or more damage
⊱ Nimble makes late game light armor builds viable
Nimble used to be hard to play with but since the B&E DLC it has been reworked to give light armored characters a fair chance at survival even up to the late game. Without it, light armor wouldn’t provide enough protection and heavy armor, as in the past, would dominate.
⊱ Nimble is economical and has an immediate impact
Nimble characters only need early Raider equipment which, unlike heavy armor, isn’t expensive or difficult to get and repair. Since only very heavy armor can compete with Nimble, and it takes a long time to acquire heavier armor, Nimble is one of the strongest perks in the midgame. Because light armor stinks without Nimble, Nimble has one of the highest returns on perk point investment.
⊱ Nimble extraordinary HP damage reduction is tied to FAT penalty
Nimble reduces the amount of HP damage received. For example, an unarmored character with 40% Nimble (60% reduction) effectively has 2.5 more HP (1 ÷ 40% = 2.5). To put that in perspective, Colossus is a good perk and it is only worth 1.25x HP.
This reduction also takes place before the 10% remaining armor mitigation and the critical multiplier, effectively decreasing HP damage taken even further than advertised:
Heavy Crossbow with Mastery (Arbalester) vs. 105/95 (Head/Body)
max armor damage roll of 53 (70 x 75%) & max HP damage roll of 49 (70 x 70%)
⇾ no reduction: 44 damage (49 – 4.2) or 65 critical ((49 – 5.2) x 1.5)
⇾ 40% Nimble: 15 damage (49 x 40% – 4.2) or 21 critical (((49 x 40%) – 5.2) x 1.5)
Final damage always rounds down.
In this example, the effective Nimble value is closer to 33% than 40%! As armor is lost the value will slide back up to 40%.
Since Nimble reduces incoming HP damage, increasing it with perks like Colossus and Gifted will improve a character’s staying power. In that regard, aggressively leveling HP and grabbing Colossus will go a long way to make Nimble better for you. How much you care will depend on the bro’s role. A front liner expecting to see a lot of danger would like as much HP as he can reasonably get. A safe back liner can get away with less.
Nimble gets exponentially worse the higher the FAT penalty, so best keep close to the 40% value. Raising armor levels at the expense of the Nimble value can decrease staying power while costing more FAT. As a general rule, the higher the HP the better 40% Nimble gets.
⊱ Nimble can almost double a character staying power
The following table shows the simulated mean hits for a mix of thirty one enemies to kill a character with various HP and common 105/95 (head/body) armor, with and without Nimble.
This example illustrate how strong Nimble is for light armored characters, with the returns increasing the higher your hp. The difference in power between a level 6 character without Nimble and a level 7 (when it can first be picked) character is huge. Only Indomitable can achieve such results but not passively.
⊱ Compared to heavy armor with Forge, Nimble is weak to focus fire, DoT and Split Man
Repeated weak attacks being more common than single heavy ones, Nimble tends to be, on average, slightly less durable than 300/300 Forge.
When facing Goblins, for example, Nimble will provide excellent protection against the occasional heavy bolt or puncture but it will not perform well against a rain of arrows and Bolas. Despite the HP damage reduction, by lack of armor, Nimble is still vulnerable to poison effects after roughly [7-10] successful shots.
DoT effects like bleeds from Cleavers and Webknecht poison deal fixed HP damage over a certain amount of turns. This duration can be reduced with Resilient but the damage itself cannot be resisted by Nimble (only Indomitable). Since every HP point is worth more with Nimble, DoT particularly hurt it. Bleeds can be inflicted not only by Cleavers but also by Whips, Jagged Pikes and Irrlicht (Kraken) attacks. Ancient Priests Miasma deal direct damage as well.
The next section deals with the question of finding the best Nimble armor setup.
⊱ Mid game ─ a power spike
As previously demonstrated, Nimble has a tremendous impact on light armored characters and it can reasonably be accessed by day [30-40]. At this stage of the game, very heavy armor sets aren’t available or at best in very limited supply. Nimble makes do with cheap equipment offering immediate return on the investment and beating most of the then available heavy armor options.
High HP Nimble stays competitive throughout the whole game and doesn’t fall off contrary to popular opinion.
⊱ Armor attachments ─ Bone Platings preferred
Arguably, the best armor attachment for Nimble is Bone Platings (BP).
◦ BP do not add to the FAT penalty and completely absorb the first sustained hit.
◦ Durability attachments usually aggravate the FAT penalty and, by reducing Nimble effectiveness, do not actually increase a character’s staying power.
◦ Light Padding Replacement (LPR) can improve Nimble value with heavier armors, but it’s usually better to wear a lighter armor with BP instead.
◦ Unhold Fur Cloak (UFC) is the best choice against Goblins, especially when facing the hordes of the Goblin City, but this attachement requires components also used to craft the Additional Fur Padding (AFP), which heavy armored characters sorely need.
◦ Direwolf Pelt Mantle (DPM) or the leather attachments (+10 durability) make a great early choice until BP can be obtained.
⊱ Efficient armors ─ the most durability for the FAT
Nimble benefits much from efficient armors. Here are some of the common picks:
› Necromancer Dark Cowl (40/-0)
› Sallet Helmet (120/-5)
› Zweihander’s Helmet (160/-7)
› Barbute Helmet (190/-9)
› Necromancer Dark Rugged Surcoat (60/-4)
› Leather Lamellar Armor (95/-10)
› Basic Mail Shirt (115/-12)
› Noble Mail (160/-15)
⊱ Characters with high HP
The higher the HP, the better Nimble performs. It solves the problem of character with low amount of FAT who would otherwise struggle wearing heavy armor. Usually, base FAT is sufficient for Nimble characters so leveling their HP instead should be a priority. Even with both low or average HP and FAT, Nimble can still make sense.
⊱ 40% Nimble ─ the go-to
When in doubt, better stick to 40% Nimble setups:
◦ 120/95 (Sallet/Lamellar) or if lacking a Sallet, 105/95 (Nasal/Lamellar) are default.
◦ 190/65 (Barbute/Gambeson) performs better than 120/95 with higher HP and BP, assuming a couple critical hits.
◦ 40/160 (Cowl/Noble) should not be used without Brow but with it, wins over the other two options.
◦ 160/80 (Zweihander/ Padded Leather) is a less lopsided version of 190/65.
Refer to this discussion for a more detailed analysis of 40% Nimble lines.
⊱ Brow and Gifted
The aforementioned discussion also analyzes the impact of Brow and Gifted on Nimble.
Gifted provides an additional 3 Defense and 5 HP (Colossus) which particularly benefits Nimble. Brow doesn’t bring much, but it does push the 40/160 Nimble setup to the top and further increases injury resistance.
⊱ Better armor for less Nimble ─ worth considering with lower HP
Going above 40% Nimble is better in some cases and worse in others.
Generally speaking, 40% Nimble is recommended with high HP.
For HP values of 80 or less, more durable armor performs slightly better, as long as it is still efficient.
◦ 120/115/42% (Sallet/Mail) makes a good starting basis.
◦ 120/160/47% (Sallet/Noble) sometimes wins, sometimes loses, so Noble Mail is not necessarily a must buy.
As a rule, the higher Nimble value options do slightly better against focus fire (from Goblin Ambushers, for instance) and weapons causing bleeds, while the 40% Nimble setups get the edge against heavy attackers like Chosen.
Note that Indomitable favors having more armor (see Indom), so if you are using Indom then the Noble Mail lines will benefit from it slightly more than the 40% lines.
Refer to this discussion for a more detailed analysis of higher value Nimble lines.
⊱ Named armor ─ efficiency first
Some named armor types are always a good fit, like the Wolf Helmet. Others must be efficient and get a favorable durability per Fatigue ratio. For a detailed analysis as well as more Nimble vs. Forge comparisons down the comments, refer to this discussion. Use this wiki pagefor a list of named armors and their possible values.
⊱ Dodge, Overwhelm, Relentless, Initiative ─ a natural fit
Let’s stress that Nimble does not rely on any of these to perform. However, since heavy armored characters cannot really benefit from them, you’ll want to use Nimble if you want to make use of any of these.
⊱ Ranged units ─ light helmets do not restrict vision
Bowmen with reduced vision lose range. Crossbowmen, having one less maximum range, can afford one less vision by day. Since neither can wear heavy helmets without suffering range penalties, light armor and Nimble make a prime choice. Well protected archers could even rely entirely on it to defend themselves against the occasional hit.
Heavy archers are more resistant to focus fire. They trade protection for range and even though they must get closer to the enemy line they gain increased accuracy in the process.
⊱ Back line ─ solid protection for little cost
Characters in the back line are mostly safe from harm, but they can still be targeted by ranged attacks and Nimble offers good enough protection against those. They must stay vigilant against enemies who can disrupt or ignore the formation and reach the back line, like Necrosavants or Orc Warriors. While heavy armor may offer a better chance of surviving dire situations, Nimble demands very little to shine, which may allow you to grab other stats if you prefer.
⊱ Injury avoidance
Because Nimble highly reduces HP damage and encourages high investment in HP, Nimble characters are usually extremely resistant if not immune to injuries.
⊱ Armor ignoring damage counter
Nimble counters enemies who otherwise deal huge amounts of AID like Unholds, Schrats and dangerous attacks from weapons such as 2Handers, Crossbows, Daggers.
⊱ Misconception – Nimble isn’t viable in the late game
No. This is silly. Every fight can be won with a full Nimble team.
⊱ Misconception – Nimble builds are worse than Forge builds
It depends. Nimble beats Forge until it’s set with 300/300. Even then it still wins in some cases. Using a mix of both light armored and heavy armored characters is recommended. Nimble usually performs better against weapons with high AID such as two-handed weapons or Crossbows, while Forge excels against repeated weak attacks.
⊱ Misconception – Nimble can’t be used on the front line
No. Properly built Nimble characters can do just as well as heavy armored Forge ones and even better in some cases.
⊱ Misconception – Nimble is all about Initiative, Dodge, Duelist, Footwork and flankers
This is a trope. Nimble does support Initiative builds, but by no means relies on them. Nimble characters can wield two-handed weapons, shields or other tools to great effects. There is no inherent synergy with Nimble, Duelist, flanking, or things of that nature. Any build type could be done with Nimble.
⊱ Misconception – the character armor got destroyed in a couple of hits so Nimble is bad
No. Beginners start to panic when a character armor is gone because it meant certain death in the early game. With Nimble however, HP is armor so as long as there’s life, there’s hope!
“Giants… Giants… Giants… Become unstoppable.”
Armor damage taken is reduced by a percentage equal to 5% of the current total armor value of both body and head armor. The heavier your armor and helmet, the more you benefit.
+ Improves heavy armor effectiveness
+ Scales favorably with named armors
+ Strong against repeated weak attacks
+ Saves armor and tools
− Low impact on armor ignoring damage
− Requires hard-to-get very heavy armor
≻ Formula: 1 − 5% x (current head armor + current body armor)
▹300/300 → 70% Forge (1 − 600 x 5%)
≻ Forge value updates with current (≠ maximum) armor and so diminishes over the course of battle as more damage is sustained
≻ Armor gained from attachments counts towards the value
≻ Only reduces armor damage taken
≻ Can indirectly reduce incoming HP damage with improved mitigation from remaining armor
≻ A left screen tooltip displays the Forge value
⊱ Forge improves heavy armor effectiveness
Forge is not as impactful as Nimble because heavy armor itself, being challenging to acquire, grants levels of protection that light armors can only provide thanks to Nimble. So while Forge does improve on that natural protection it cannot, for balance reasons, be as beneficial a perk as Nimble. Even though heavy armor doesn’t need Forge as much as light armor needs Nimble, and even though Forge does require at least heavy armor to start mattering, as a defense and survival oriented perk, Forge offers great value.
⊱ Forge reduces armor damage taken
Forge mitigates armor damage received based on total current armor. Essentially, it acts as a multiplier on total armor durability.
Fighting Axe expected armor damage vs. 300/300 (70%) Forge
⇾ no reduction: 45-71 armor damage (35-55 x 130%)
⇾ 70% Forge: 31-50 armor damage (35-55 x 130% x 70%)
⇾ 80HP, 300/300 Forge vs. Fighting Axe gains ~115 total armor from Forge.
Final damage always rounds down.
HP damage received is reduced by 10% of remaining armor, so taking less armor damage will slightly reduce armor ignoring damage (AID).
Because Forge value updates with current armor durability, very heavy armors that can maintain a high value even after being damaged benefit more.
⊱ Forge scales with armor durability and low damage levels
The following table shows the simulated mean hits for a mix of thirty one enemies to kill a character with 80 HP and various armors (head/body), with and without Forge.
The gains going from 210/210 to 300/300 are substantial (almost a one hit difference). Very heavy named armors benefit even more.
Forge protects better against the more common weak attackers. The following tests retain only the twenty five strongest, most damaging enemies.
Gains are lower against heavy attackers.
Even though Forge doesn’t improve heavy armor as much as Nimble does light armor it still provides a decent amount of durability making it a valuable, if optional, perk.
⊱ Forge has little impact on armor ignoring damage and heavy armor is expensive
While heavy armor offers good protection, especially against repeated weak attacks, it is vulnerable to high armor ignoring damage (AID) and Forge does not solve this problem.
Let’s find the mean hits to die of a character with 80 HP and 300/300 base armor against a Goblin Ambusher (Ambusher) using a Reinforced Boondock Bow, an Honor Guard (Guard) using a Ancient Bladed Pike, and against a Barbarian Chosen (Chosen) using a Two-Handed Spiked Mace. Expected armor saved thanks to Forge is shown in the last column.
Forge impacts weak and medium attacks far more than high damage threats that heavy armor is vulnerable to. Against Chosen, Forge does reduce the chance to die in two hits from 38% to 16%, which is helpful, but just not good enough on its own to make it safe to go stand in front of a bunch of them.
Buying and finding very heavy armor takes time which is why Forge, unlike Nimble, does not perform well in the early to mid game with mostly 200 durability armors. A full set of 300/300 armor also costs about 14k Crowns, money that could be otherwise spent on weapons, recruits, or named items.
Since Forge requires very heavy armor, character builds should plan for 300/300. Characters with low FAT can still go heavy with single attack builds. Otherwise, Nimble should be considered.
Battle Forged (continued)
⊱ Armor attachments ─ Additional Fur Padding preferred
Arguably, the best armor attachment for Forge is Additional Fur Padding (AFP).
◦ AFP addresses heavy armor weakness to AID while providing valuable injury resistance
◦ Bone Platings (BP) is a worthwhile but unreliable option and Nimble characters want this attachment
◦ Light Padding Replacement (LPR) can be considered if FAT is an issue, but it doesn’t directly impact durability
◦ Attachments granting +40 durability offer the best value against weak to medium attacks, but do little against dangerous AID. Heavy armor performs well enough by default in the former case, so using another attachment like AFP if available is recommended
⊱ High FAT characters can better support the cost of heavy armor
Heavy armor logically costs more FAT to wear. Backgrounds with natural high starting FAT like Wildman and Farmhand or characters talented in FAT thus make better recipients for heavy armor and the BF perk, being able to use costly abilities without having to recover every other turn.
⊱ 300/300 vs. 300/320: Is +20 armor worth −4 FAT?
Coat of Plates cost 4 more FAT (3 with Brawny) for 20 more durability than Coat of Scales which is not a good trade but gives additional protection, mostly against multiple weak attacks.
⊱ Named armors made even better
Because Forge gets better the more durable the armor, it works especially well with very heavy (300+ durability) named armors.
⊱ Colossus and Brow, on the importance of HP
For heavy armored characters, Colossus, though weaker overall, can actually do better than Forge against some enemies. They can be combined for additional protection against injuries and AID. Getting to safe HP levels (roughly 80) usually requires Colossus or a few level-up points investment in the case of particularly tough backgrounds like Hedge Knight and Wildman.
Brow is similar in purpose but weaker than Colossus. It gives a passive damage reduction which helps avoid serious head injuries.
Indomitable can compensate for low HP, which would otherwise be risky. It makes Brow irrelevant, so better avoid picking both (see Indomitable).
⊱ Indomitable ─ A protection against high AID
Indom is Forge best defense against its AID vulnerability. Due to the way damage is calculated, it combines extremely well with heavy armor and Forge (see the Indomitable section for details). It’s not required, but it does help solve heavy armor biggest weakness, and the combination of Indom & Forge offers incomparable durability.
⊱ Adrenaline ─ An answer to low Initiative
Heavy armor severely lowers Initiative. But Adrenaline almost guarantees turn initiative which comes handy in a pinch, if enough FAT is available.
Heavy armored characters usually go late if not last in the turn order. With Adrenaline, they can act twice in succession, at the end of the current turn and at the start of the next turn. The Adrenaline cycle relies on that principle (see Adrenaline).
⊱ NimbleForge ─ Meme or supreme?
Given that both Nimble and Forge power relies on extreme specialization, using them in conjunction rarely makes sense. There isn’t a single regular armor combination in the game where going NimbleForge is advantageous (rather than specializing), even with LPR.
However, efficient named armors can make it possible. The ideal would be a perfect Noble Mail and Steppe Helmet: 250/200 armor for a mere −16 FAT. A perfect Wolf Helmet and Alloy Plate (175/350), and many other options between would also work.
Ultimately, NimbleForge is a niche combination that can potentially be great depending on luck with named armors but it’s not a strategy that can be relied on and Nimble characters can already make use of efficient armors.
⊱ Misconception – Heavy Armor + Forge = Safe
No. Many attacks from dangerous enemies such as Chosen, Unholds, Lindwurms, Two-Handers, Crossbowmen can pierce through armor.
⊱ Misconception – HP is unnecessary for heavy armored characters with Forge
No. This is legacy from when there were few enemies dealing high AID. In the current state of the game, 60 HP 300/300 Forge can die in a couple heavy hits. Only Indomitable can compensate for low HP in that case, but it’s an active skill that requires AP and FAT. As an aside, it can be activated at all times with the combination (cycling) of Adrenaline and Recover.
⊱ Misconception – Heavy armor & Forge needs Indomitable against Chosen
No. While Indom gives the best possible defense against Chosen, constantly using it and relying on it has its own costs. A healthy HP count, AFP, and possibly Brow can all help a bro survive a few more hits as can debuffs like Daze. Team support, good positioning and tactics can also go a long way to limit or even prevent Chosen from attacking.
⊱ Misconception – Defense is not necessary with heavy armor
No. Armor and Forge are great, but if a character can’t avoid incoming hits then he’s going to get worn down quickly and die. A good (Melee) Defense complements armor nicely.
⊱ Misconception – Forge is required to beat the late game and legendary fights
No. Every single fight can be beaten without using Forge.
⊱ Misconception – Forge builds are better than Nimble builds
It depends. Nimble with base equipment beats Forge until it’s set with 300/300. Even then it still wins in some cases. Using a mix of both light armored and heavy armored characters is recommended. Nimble usually performs better against weapons with high AID such as two-handed weapons or Crossbows, while Forge excels against repeated weak attacks.
“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Any attack that inflicts at least 1 point of damage to hitpoints triggers a morale check for the opponent, as opposed to only if at or above 15 points of damage.
+ Dropping enemy morale is good
− Must deal 14 or less damage
− Hp based morale checks are easier to resist when healthy
− Enemies already suffer morale problems without Fearsome
− Some enemies immune
≻ Normally, a morale check is proc’d when you deal 15+ HP damage
≻ Fearsome grants a morale check when you deal 1-14 damage
≻ The chance of a morale drop when taking damage depends on your current modified RES and % of missing hp (after subtracting damage taken). Modified RES is your current RES after any buffs (like the Banner), debuffs (like negative morale), and hidden modifiers like adjacency bonus/malus. See the formula below.
≻ Formula: %Chance to drop morale = 100 – (ModifiedResolve – 40 * (1 – CurrentHP/MaxHP))
≻ Ex: 200hp Orc Warrior with base 75 RES and no modifier takes 10 damage
≻ Ex: Same Orc Warrior with 50hp left would have a 55% chance of morale drop
≻ 3Head Flail: Only the first hit of the 3-strike can proc Fearsome. The second and third cannot.
≻ AoE: Each hit of the AoE is capable of procing Fearsome
≻ Undead and Ancient Dead are immune to morale checks
≻ Assumption: The minimum %chance to drop morale is likely 5%
Fearsome is mediocre, not because dropping opponent’s morale is a bad effect, but because Fearsome is not actually very good at helping you do it. Let’s examine why.
⊱ Most damage dealers will deal more than 14 damage against most enemies
2Handers and Duelists often deal too much damage to fall into the Fearsome window, meaning that they are already dishing out morale checks without Fearsome. Only exceptionally bulky enemies like Warriors have enough armor for many of these weapons to deal low enough damage for a Fearsome check. Low or even medium armored enemies will often take 15+ damage, so Fearsome doesn’t actually apply. It doesn’t work on Undead/Ancient Dead either, so that leaves few enemies where Fearsome might actually help.
⊱ Even if you proc Fearsome, you have to succeed the morale check
Because of the way HP based morale checks work, healthy units are more resistant to HP based checks. Healthy units are the ones most likely to be in the Fearsome window as damaged enemies are going to take more damage. This presents a problem in that it isn’t very easy to get morale drops with Fearsome even when it procs, which means often times the perk doesn’t even do anything.
For example, in a vacuum, if we deal 10 damage, we have a 27% chance to drop morale on Orc Warriors on the first hit, 13% against Chosen, and whatever the minimum is (5% probably) against armored Unholds. It isn’t as simple as vacuum cases of course. Remember the hidden adjacency Resolve effects: +3 for each adjacent ally, -3 for each adjacent enemy. Enemy HP and morale state will factor in as well. The lower their HP and lower their morale the easier time you will have getting procs. You can try and support it by running with Direwolf attachments and having a Cursed Crystal Skull, but there are better attachments you could be using instead.
⊱ You don’t need Fearsome to cause morale problems
The general idea of Fearsome is to cause a ripple like effect where each morale drop makes it easier to get more morale drops and so on. There is some merit to this idea. When an enemy drops to Fleeing status it causes a morale check to other nearby enemies. When an enemy is killed this happens again. So dropping enemies to Fleeing does grant more morale checks overall and Fearsome does help you with this even if only slightly. As good as this sounds, just normal gameplay without Fearsome already causes this ripple effect already. In fact, killing enemies is the best way to achieve this, so instead of taking Fearsome you could have taken a damage or accuracy perk to kill the enemies faster which likely will cause more morale checks than fishing with Fearsome ever will.
It isn’t that Fearsome is unusable, it just always feels irrelevant in my experience. I’m lucky if a Fearsome bro gets two morale drops in a battle. Often he doesn’t even get one. You could take it on the whole team to get more chances, but most high end weapons don’t benefit because they already deal too much damage.
⊱ Warhammer: 10 minimum damage
1H Hammer is guaranteed 10 damage minimum, and Destroy Armor is 10 damage fixed. Thus, shielded Hammers can consistently proc Fearsome on armored targets. Duelist Warhammer is too good at dealing damage and shouldn’t use Fearsome.
⊱ Warcythe AoE: Sweet spot Fearsome window
Warscythe damage range is in the sweet spot where it will quite consistently proc Fearsome against undamaged foes between 100 and 200 armor on the first hit and sometimes even the second or third hit as well before damage gets too high. Procs don’t necessarily mean morale drops, but with an AoE skill in this damage range, Warscythe is one of the better weapons to try Fearsome on.
⊱ Warbow: Fearsome window on armored targets
Warbow is weak enough against armor to often get procs against enemies over 100 armor. However, Warbows usually don’t want to be shooting enemies over 100 armor. Instead, they should be shooting poorly armored range enemies, Beserkers, Goblins, etc. and Fearsome is doing nothing there.
⊱ Anti-Frenzy synergy: Get less procs
Frenzy is a global damage increase which pushes the window around on Fearsome procs. More damage means you are more likely to deal 15+ damage, which means you are less likely to get Fearsome value.
⊱ Shield bros: Fearsome can work
Shield bros deal low enough damage that they can deal Fearsome procs to lightly armored targets. Even so, your shield bros probably have better options for support/utility skills.
⊱ Spearwall: Damage is usually too weak
Spearwall is usually too weak to deal chip damage through armor and get procs. Shielded Fighting Spear will only proc on very light Young. 100 armor Young will need to hit the wall 5+ times before they reach the Fearsome window.
However, Spetum and Duelist Fighting Spear are capable of getting procs on Orc Young consistently right away. Given the high volume of Young bouncing into your Spearwall you could reasonably get some morale drops here. Don’t expect anything on the Warriors though as you won’t deal any damage through their armor.
⊱ 3Head Flail: Fearsome doesn’t work
Fearsome does not work with the 3Head like you want it to. Only the first hit of each 3hit strike can proc Fearsome. Further, 3Head does such awful armor ignoring damage that you will often deal zero damage even to lightly armored targets. Fearsome is quite bad here.
⊱ Orcs: Most vulnerable to Fearsome
Orcs already suffer from morale problems not because their RES is bad but rather because they have a lot of health so they tend to drop morale a few times before dying which makes it more noticeable than other enemies who just tend to die quickly instead. Warriors have enough armor that most weapons will have a Fearsome window against them. Out of all of the factions, Fearsome works best here, and could potentially help in Sea of Tents battles.
⊱ Barbarians: They have a lot of RES
Reavers have 80 RES and Chosen have 90. This makes it very difficult for Fearsome to get morale drops even if your weapons are getting procs.
⊱ Misconception – Fearsome helps against Unholds/Schrats
No. Not sure where this myth came from but I’ve seen it multiple times. For one, neither enemy is armored (usually), so it will never proc. Even if it does these enemies have 130+ RES.
“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
With the offhand free, an additional +25% of any damage ignores armor.
+ Provides huge damage gains for 1Handers
+ Makes 1Handers competitive with 2Handers
+ Duelists can be preferable to 2Handers is some cases
~ Better on some weapons than others
− Costs a perk point that a 2Hander wouldn’t have to spend
− Provides no value against unarmored enemies (ie Unholds)
≻ Adds +25% to a weapon’s Ignore% stat. So a Warhammer goes from 50% Ignore to 75% Ignore
≻ Works with a consumable in your offhand (such as a Net or Grenade), but consumables do turn off your Double Grip
≻ Does not work with shields or 2Handers
≻ Works with Throwing weapons, including the single use Throwing Spear
≻ Throwing cannot gain the Double Grip buff so they can freely carry a Net here
≻ Works on secondary skills like Decapitate, Spearwall, etc
⊱ Duelist drastically increases damage
Duelist is a strong enough perk that it enables an entire build style that would otherwise be completely ignored without it. I’m talking of course about using a 1Hander without a shield. Before someone calls me out on it, you can use a 1Hander without a shield and appreciate your Double Grip bonus without Duelist, but if this is your main plan for this bro then there is no reason not to use Duelist.
What makes Duelist so strong? Well that +25% Ignore damage is a lot stronger than you might expect it to be. Combined with higher innate Ignore% weapons like Mace and Hammer you can get very high armor ignoring damage, enough so that you will very often kill enemies before their armor is destroyed, similar to other high Ignore% weapons like 2H Mace and Xbows. Killing an enemy by Ignoring their armor is a lot stronger than having to wear down their armor first. For this reason, Duelist tends to work best on weapons with higher innate Ignore%. The greater Ignore% is a pure damage upgrade against anything armored, and also has the added benefit of helping you deliver early injuries.
The high AID potential of Duelists make them especially strong against armored but low hp enemies such as Ancient Dead and most humans.
⊱ Test example of Duelist impact
The following is a test of Winged Mace vs. 26 enemies and adding the total mean hits to kill each enemy. It isn’t the perfect test, but it can help show the relative value of Duelist vs. various enemies. Our brother has no other perks here. Score is mean hits to kill the entire test group.
As you can see, ditching our shield and going Duelist makes an enormous difference to the offensive output of the Winged Mace, and other 1Handers will follow suit.
⊱ How does Duelist compare to 2handers?
It is pretty clear that Duelist is very strong when we are ditching our shields. The less obvious question is how to evaluate going for a Duelist vs. a 2Hander. The short answer is that both are strong and you should use some of each. Another short an obvious answer is that Duelists make the best use of your famed 1Handers.
The longer answer is that there are pros and cons of each. 6AP 2Handers have much better synergy with skills like Indom/Rotation because they can use both in the same turn while still doing their full damage. Single target 2Handers also have greater damage per FAT efficiency, and AoE 2Handers have nice AoE skills. Duelists however have better mobility and can attack multiple times per turn which means that missing is less painful and there is less wasted overkill damage on weakened enemies. 4AP attacks also have Berserk/Recover synergy if you use both of those. Generally, Duelists just feel more flexible with 4AP attacks instead of 6AP attacks.
What about 2H Cleaver? Again, both have pros and cons. 2H Cleaver doesn’t cost a perk (don’t need Duelist), are better against low or unarmored targets, and can use Reach if you wanted. Duelists however can sometimes out damage the 2H Cleavers, cost less FAT to hold and swing (unless Orc), and are much better at dealing injuries.
Duelists also have the benefit of a free offhand, which means that they can open the battle with a Net or Grenade and toss it without having to do any weapon swaps.
Maybe the biggest downside to going Duelist vs. a 2Hander is that Duelist is something of a perk “tax” that 2Handers don’t have to take. That by no means makes Duelists bad or that you shouldn’t use them, but it is something to be aware of. Duelist also doesn’t provide any value against naked enemies. Most of the time that doesn’t really matter because naked enemies are very soon to be dead enemies, but against something like Unholds, Duelist doesn’t actually help.
Not all Duelists are created equal. Some of the weapons perform far better than the others. I will go over this in the use cases.
If you are interested, check out this thread where I tested various Duelists vs. Chosen.
⊱ Famed weapons: Duelist is nuts
Duelist gets stronger the higher your base damage and Ignore%. This makes it extremely good on famed weapons with damage/Ignore% buffs.
⊱ Duelist Orc
The Head Chopper/Splitter are the strongest 1Handers in our arsenal, but they are very heavy and come with additional FAT penalties on swing. Make no mistake, these weapons make for your best Duelists, but the extra FAT demand cannot be ignored, and you will either need an exceptional recruit to support this for an extended period, or resort to using Recover to support it. The Chopper tends to be better than the Splitter if you are deciding between the two, but it does depend on Bleed and Decapitate value to win.
⊱ Mace and Hammer
The best non-Orc Duelists tend to be Mace and Hammer. Mace has innate 40% Ignore and Hammer has 50%. With Duelist these go up to 65/75% which is huge. Hammer tends to tie or beat Mace against enemies with even somewhat low armor, but the Mace is a more balanced weapon overall. Mace also costs 1 less FAT to swing and deals FAT/INIT penalties when it hits which is not hugely helpful but maybe it helps you out-speed a guy next turn.
Neither weapon will be using its special very often as Duelists because they want to be dealing damage. Stun is a nice option for your arsenal but should be used rarely here. You didn’t build this guy to be a Stunner, he wants to be killing things. Destroy Armor is usually bad on Duelist Hammer because it fixes the hp damage dealt to 10. With a 75% Ignore stat you are almost always doing way more than 10 damage so Destroy Armor makes you worse against most foes not named Orc Warrior or bigger.
The nice part about these Duelist options is that they deal consistently good damage without having to resort to special attacks or Orc penalties to do so. Cleavers can sometimes out damage here with Decapitate, but that requires some setup and extra FAT.
Mace/Hammer are also extremely good at delivering injuries due to their high Ignore% and two attacks per turn.
⊱ Fighting Axe
Fighting Axe lands in an awkward position where it usually isn’t as good as Mace/Hammer and it isn’t really providing any niche benefit to try and stand out. The extra damage on headshot does not save it here. It can beat Mace in some matchups, but their kill rates tend to be similar overall while Mace is better at dealing injuries.
⊱ Military Cleaver and Khopesh
Cleaver Duelists can do well in two conditions. One, you aren’t overly concerned with burst damage and give Bleeds time to tick. Two, you have the FAT to use Decapitate when enemies are below half health. On a per hit basis they do less damage than the above options, but with Bleed damage and Decapitate added in they can out dps Mace/Hammer in some matchups.
The downside here is that burst damage is usually preferred rather than waiting around for Bleeds, and Decapitate is expensive and requires setup. They are also far worse at dealing injuries than the above options. Cleavers make for good to great Duelists potentially, but there are strings attached.
Flail Duelists tend to be a good deal weaker than the above options, but they have some advantages that can make them worth considering.
One, Lash is very strong with Duelist, and judicious Lash spam will make the Flail as strong as the Mace on average with the added benefit of more head injuries. Realistically, you won’t be using Lash every attack as it is too expensive, but you don’t need to either. Having the option to Lash against specific enemies depending on their armor situation gives the Flail some flexibility. Lash can also fish for the desirable Fractured Skull or Concussion injuries (CS would help here).
Two, Flails ignore the defense bonus of enemy shields. This can be anywhere from 15-25 extra accuracy against shielded enemies and is especially useful against Footman/Ancient Dead who love their shield spam and are highly vulnerable to Duelist given their low HP.
The extra accuracy and option of Lash can make Duelist Flail a good option for a unit with a bit lower skill that would appreciate accuracy support who also has a good FAT pool to make use of Lash. If you are wondering about Brute, it is only ever so slightly more useful on Flail Duelists than on other Duelists, so Brute alone shouldn’t necessarily make you think you should use Flail. Brute does however lower your skill, and that can be a good point in favor of Flail.
⊱ 3H Flail
3Head is maybe the worst pick you can do for your Duelist. The reason being that splitting your damage into three attacks means that your AID damage gets mitigated three times. This makes 3H terrible at dealing AID, even with Duelist. Use a regular Flail instead.
⊱ Noble Sword
Duelist Sword is one of the weaker picks you can do for your Duelist due to the low Ignore% and low armor damage. However, Swords have a lower FAT cost than the above options and a bonus +10% accuracy. This can make it a great pick to make a damage dealer out of bros with lower Skill and/or FAT.
The main draw of the Shamshir is supposed to be that it can deal injuries better with its special attack. However, given the low Ignore% and low armor damage Shamshir is actually worse at delivering injuries than Mace/Hammer while costing more FAT to try and do so. The injury attack doesn’t even get the Sword accuracy bonus. Unless you have a famed version then there are better picks than this.
Duelist is an auto-pick for any Fencing build. The Ignore% helps multiply the damage you are doing on Lunges, and just improves your damage overall. You want this.
⊱ Fighting Spear
Fighting Spear is a weak option for Duelist given the low damage. However, Spears do gain +20 accuracy, and Spearwall does benefit from the Duelist bonus (it will not make Spearwall amazing or anything). One option could be to have a Duelist start with Spearwall and then switch to a better Duelist option afterward, or to give a Thrower a backup Spear.
Duelist only works on the Stab attacks. You would reasonably want a good famed Dagger to attempt this, otherwise you might as well use a better weapon or a Puncture build instead. Puncture can easily out damage a Duelist Dagger and is also able to run a shield since Puncture gets no Double Grip.
Yes Duelist works with Throwing and it is insanely good. Heavy Javelins at two range with Mastery/Duelist is some of the best damage in the game, often stronger than Orc Duelists. It is akin to a Heavy Xbow w/ Mastery that shoots twice per turn at two range.
⊱ Injury delivery
Given the higher Ignore% of Duelists and multiple attacks per turn, they can be very good at delivering injuries on first hit to most enemies, even without CS.
Chosen are among the harder enemies to injure early. Duelist Mace has a 5-27% chance of a first hit injury without CS depending on their armor, and a 40-88% chance with CS. Hammer has a 0-12% without, and a 26-98% chance with. Frenzy boosts it further.
⊱ Anti-Ancient Dead
Ancient Dead have up to 210 armors on Honor Guards and very low hp (55 Legion, 65 HG). This makes them vulnerable to high AID attacks such as those from Duelists. Duelists also have an easier time getting through Savant 9Lives (than 2Handers do).
⊱ Misconception – Duelist should be used with Nimble/Dodge/Initiative/etc.
I assume this is some kind of myth derived from gaming/fantasy culture. There is nothing about Duelist that favors it going for Nimble vs. Forge. Both can use Duelist effectively, and Nimble Duelists do not necessarily lean toward using Dodge and/or Initiative either.
⊱ Misconception – Duelists are best with Sword/Cleaver
No. There are reasons you may want to use those, but they tend to be beat out by other options like Mace/Hammer.
Killing Frenzy (Frenzy)
“Play of the game.”
A kill increases all damage by 25% for 2 turns. Does not stack, but another kill will reset the timer.
+ Provides a large global damage increase
+ Does better in larger/more dangerous encounters
+ Synergizes well with Berserk
− Requires setup
− Buff can be wasted if you miss
≻ The 2 turn timer starts right when the kill is made, which means that it counts this current turn. Frenzy will turn off at the end of next turn if you don’t get another kill
≻ A buff bubble will appear on the left side of the screen when active
≻ The damage bonus effects both hp and armor damage
≻ Damage bonus stacks multiplicatively with other damage modifiers (such as Executioner)
≻ Can turn online mid AoE swing if a kill is made
⊱ More damage − More killing
Frenzy is a pretty straightforward perk. It is a global damage increase (and quite a large one) after you get a kill, which means if you can consistently be getting kills then you are consistently doing extra damage without really any strings attached except for getting it online in the first place and keeping it going.
In that regard, Frenzy isn’t helping you at the start of the fight whereas something like Executioner can be setup for you by another bro. Unlike Executioner though, Frenzy just works once you have it online even against fresh enemies, which can mean dealing earlier injuries or even one hit kills. Also unlike Executioner, Frenzy works against Ancient Dead.
The majority of battles later in the game feature large enemy parties that often have a number of weaker enemy types in the deployment which usually makes it very easy to get kills to put Frenzy online. Frenzy helps feed itself, giving you extra damage to keep the killing going.
Frenzy can help increase the consistency of one hit kills with some weapons against some enemies. Goblins are most vulnerable to this, but even some human foes are at risk of getting one shot by the higher tier 2Handers, and Frenzy can improve the consistency here.
⊱ Limitations of Frenzy
There is a diminishing return on the number of Frenzy users in your party just like with Berserk. There are only so many kills you will be getting each turn, so it is ok to have some damage dealers who do not have Frenzy who can setup the kills for the Frenzy bros. Frenzy also depends on being able to hit things to get value. Your Frenzy buff goes to waste if you just whiff on your next turn, so having higher base accuracy and/or accuracy boosting perks is helpful. Frenzy also won’t help much in battles with few but strong enemies like Lindwurms.
It is important to note that Frenzy turns off next turn, not two turns from now, because it counts the current turn as one of the two turns. This means that if you turn Frenzy online this turn but have no AP left to do anything, then you only actually got one turn of value (next turn).
Compared to other damage perks, Berserk is usually better, but Berserk’s faster damage output does cost more FAT while Frenzy’s does not. People generally consider Frenzy to be better than Executioner since it is more universal (and also 5% more buff), but there are scenarios where a bro might want Executioner and not take either Berserk/Frenzy, perhaps because he has FAT problems. Comparisons aside, damage dealers would certainly enjoy using all three of them, and they all help improve each other.
⊱ Damage modifier stacking: The more the better
Things like Executioner/Huge/Drunk/etc. stack multiplicatively with Frenzy, so the more of them you stack together, the stronger they all become.
⊱ Berserk synergy: They proc on the same condition
A forum member (don’t remember who, sorry) once said “Frenzy is the jelly to Berserk’s jam” or something to that effect anyway. The perks compliment each other very well. Both perks proc on a kill giving them the same condition for value. Berserk allows you to instantly attack again with your Frenzy buff, allowing you to get more mileage out of it. Having Frenzy up next turn makes it easier to get more kills to get more Berserks and Frenzies later.
Although you can use Frenzy without Berserk, Berserk makes it a lot stronger, and is generally the better of the two anyway, so you’ve probably already got it.
⊱ 2Handers and Duelists
These are your primary damage dealers and they very much enjoy having Frenzy buffs. 2Handers like Mace and Hammer are even capable of one shotting enemies like Footman and Ancient Dead once Frenzy is online.
⊱ Range units
Range units are also good at getting kills, and have plenty of perk space for damage perks hiding in the back line. Throwing is especially strong here since it combines the action efficiency of the Warbow with the damage potential of Xbows when at two range with Mastery and Duelist.
Against Goblins, Frenzy increases the chances of one shot kills which is highly valuable when you are trying to gun down 30+ of them.
⊱ Legendary locations: It’s a damage race
Most of the legendary locations and large camps in the wild feature huge numbers of enemies. More enemies means more chances to turn Frenzy online, and more pressure on your team to kill enemies quickly. Frenzy is good in these fights.
⊱ Shield bros: Not your main killers
Your shield bros probably aren’t getting a lot of kills and they probably have better perks to be using instead of Frenzy.
⊱ Overwhelm and/or setup bros: Frenzy is contradictory
Faster bros can be used to setup kills for slower bros with Frenzy to capitalize. If you are using Overwhelm, it requires you to not kill your target to get value, so its value condition is opposite of Frenzy giving them poor synergy if used together.
⊱ Accuracy perks: Missing is a waste of Frenzy
Frenzy is only any good if you can hit things consistently. Accuracy perks can help you more consistently land your hits to both turn Frenzy online and keep it going after. A unit with lower accuracy might be better off taking accuracy perks instead of Frenzy to improve his damage.
⊱ Misconception – Berserk/Frenzy are auto-picks on every damage dealer
No. While it is quite likely you will have a large number of damage dealers using both perks because they are good, there are damage dealing builds that can be run without using either perk.
You can run a damage dealer that runs all of the accuracy perks and no damage perks. Is he the greatest damage dealer ever? No, but he can work.
You can have a few setup bros who weaken enemies for your Berserk/Frenzy users to capitalize on, as there are only so many kills you will be able to get per turn. If you don’t have room for both Berserk and Frenzy you can also use just one of them and it can still be good.
“You shall not pass!”
Unlocks the Indomitable skill which grants a 50% damage reduction and immunity to being stunned, knocked back or grabbed for one turn.
+ Provides enormous and unparalleled increases in durability
+ Is favored by the damage formula
+ Provides immunity and control against annoying enemy abilities
− Is expensive to cast
≻ Costs 3AP and 25 FAT and lasts until the start of your next turn
≻ Mitigates both HP and armor damage taken
≻ Stacks with other mitigation abilities like Nimble and Forge
≻ Halves the damage earlier in the damage formula, before mitigation from 10% of remaining armor and before the headshot bonus. This makes Indom way stronger than you would expect.
≻ Halves fixed damage from Bleed/Miasma/etc. and rounds it down in your favor
≻ Provides Stun immunity from Maces, Orc Young, and Unholds
≻ Provides immunity to displacement effects such as Warrior pushing and Unhold Throwing, as well as abilities like Shieldbash and Polearm displacements.
≻ Provides immunity to Kraken Tentacle grabs
≻ Does not provide immunity to tier 3 Nachzehrer swallowing
⊱ Unlimited power
In terms of raw power, Indom is probably the strongest perk. This is because the amount that it increases your survivability is unmatched by any other perk in the game, and it works favorably with strong skills like Nimble and Forge which you are likely going to be grabbing anyway.
The reason that Indom is so strong is because the reduction occurs early in the damage calculation rather than at the end. This makes it so that you actually take far less than half damage.
⊱ 50% damage reduction makes you more than 2x durable
Let me illustrate using a 300/300 Forge unit vs. a Chosen Mace. For sake of simplicity we are going to say that our Chosen rolled 80(middle) on his HP damage roll and 90(max) on his armor damage roll. Chosen mace has 60% Ignore armor and 115% Armor modifier. We have a 70% Forge modifier with 300/300 armor.
⇾ Armor damage = 90 * 0.7(Forge) * 1.15(Armor%) = 72.45. Remaining armor = 227.55
⇾ HP damage = 80 * 0.6(Ignore%) – 22.755(10% Remaining armor) = 25.25.
⇾ If Headshot we multiply final hp damage * 1.5 = 37.87.
⇾ All damage numbers round down
⇾ Final damage: 72 armor damage and 25HP damage (37 if headshot).
⇾ Armor damage = 90 * 0.7 * 0.5(Indom) * 1.15 = 36.23. Remaining armor = 263.77
⇾ HP damage = 80 * 0.6 * 0.5(Indom) – 26.377 = 0
⇾ Final damage: 36 armor damage and 0HP damage (0 if headshot).
As you can see from this example, Indom made us take far less than half damage. We didn’t take any damage at all! Not even on a headshot! This is why even though perks like Colossus and Brow can be nice for the extra passive defense and injury avoidance for Forge, if you are using Indom, Brow is almost irrelevant and Colossus isn’t as impactful as normal either.
Here are a few more examples.
80hp, 300/300 Forge bro (no attachment or other perks) against a Chosen with a Mace:
⇾ Mean hits to die normally: 2.84
→ 16% chance of death in two hits
→ 100% injury in one
⇾ Mean hits to die with Indom: 10.23
→ 6% chance of death in eight hits
→ <1% chance of injury by hit 5
Our Indom bro is ~3.6x more durable here, not twice as durable as you would have maybe expected. Injury resistance has increased massively.
120hp, 120/95 Nimble bro in the same scenario:
⇾ Normal: 4.53
⇾ Indom: 10.5
120hp, 120/160 Nimble:
⇾ Normal: 4.35
⇾ Indom: 10.19
Our Nimble bro is ~2.3x more durable and even beating the Forge brother here.
Note: Indom multiplier for Forge/NImble does not always equal x3.6 or x2.3, it depends on the enemy/scenario. However, Unless naked, you can expect that it will increase durability by more than 2x.
Clearly, the differences between Indom and not are astronomical, with the effect being more pronounced against dangerous enemies that deal a lot of armor ignoring damage. This is due to Indom doing an insanely good job at mitigating armor ignoring damage that no other perk can really compete with except Nimble.
⊱ But wait, there’s more ─ Resist displacement
Indom offers resistances to annoying enemy Stun and displacement abilities. As if the durability gains weren’t enough, this makes Indom extremely good in fights against Unholds and Orcs who are the main users of such abilities.
An Indom user locks down Unholds and Warriors, keeping your vulnerable backliners safe from annoying Throwing and Pushing skills, which makes these battles much easier. Immunity to Orc Young jumping Stun spam is nice too.
⊱ Indom is not a passive effect. Adrenaline cycle can be used to spam it
Of course, the downside to Indom is that it is not a passive effect. You have to spend 3AP and 25 FAT every turn to keep this going and that’s really expensive right? This is where the Adrenaline-Recover cycle comes into play (see the Adrenaline section). Using the cycle it is easily possible to keep Indom online 100% of the time and still attack. This will slow down your attacking since every other turn you need to Recover, but when it makes you more than 3x as durable it is certainly worth it, and your backline is of course free to attack with impunity while you hold the line. This perk group/interaction is considered the strongest thing in the game by most players.
⊱ Indom is strong, but not mandatory
Does that mean you should be using Indom on every frontliner, and also Adrenaline/Recover to support it? Well, no, that isn’t really necessary. You can use Indom without also taking Adrenaline/Recover just to have it as an occasional tool or if you get into trouble. You can also field frontliners who don’t use any of those perks and they can still survive while having more AP/FAT to spend on other things instead of Indom or the cycle. Indom is probably the strongest perk in the game, but you are not forced to use it on everybody to survive.
There is a bit of danger in relying entirely on Indom and/or the cycle to keep your brother safe. For one, it locks you into place if you want to attack with your 2Hander and Indom, meaning that if you move you have to decide between attacking or Indom which is annoying. Two, if the cycle gets broken somehow, such as by getting a Daze status from Chosen Mace, or a Broken Nose injury (it is the only light blunt head injury so more common than you might expect), then your brother is now at huge risk because he cannot continue his Indom. Indom does wonders for your survivability, but you should still have decent durability, MDF, and tactics to go along with it.
⊱ Survivability: Indom offers the most
Indom is the best survivability perk in the game. If you want more bulk then Indom has you covered. It is more helpful against the most dangerous attacks in the game, and that is highly appreciated.
⊱ Adrenaline cycle: Infinite Indom
See Adrenaline if you don’t know what this is. With the cycle you can achieve 100% Indom uptime. This is probably the strongest thing in the game right now.
⊱ Forge: Indom solves your biggest weakness
Forge does a great job of keeping you safe against most enemies but is extremely vulnerable to high Ignore% attack such as those from Chosen 2Handers. Indom is your best defense against this problem, and Forge works better with the Adrenaline cycle than Nimble does.
⊱ Nimble: Indom is still amazing
Although technically Nimble tends to benefit less from Indom than Forge does (relatively speaking), it is still incredibly strong, and Nimble-Indom can beat Forge-Indom in some matchups. Nimble also really enjoys taking less Bleeding/Miasma damage.
⊱ Tanks: Durability and control
Regardless of how else you build your tank, he’s probably going to want the strongest defensive perk in the game both to keep himself safe and control dangerous enemies.
The most durable build in the game is a super tank Forge running the Adrenaline cycle to have a permanent Shieldwall + Indom.
⊱ 2Handers: AP synergy
2Handers have better Indom synergy since they can attack for 6AP and Indom with the remaining 3. 4AP attackers can move once, attack, and Indom, but this interaction isn’t as good as 2Handers ability to hold position without losing any damage output.
⊱ Orcs: Indom blocks their skills
Orc Young love their jumping Stun spam and Warriors want to push your guys around. Indom helps prevent both of these annoying abilities. Mansplitters are also entirely capable of 2 shotting most bros so Indom can be handy to have in the event that you allow a Berserker or Warlord an opportunity to attack you.
⊱ Unholds: Prevent throwing
Unholds want to throw you around and get at your weaker backliners. Indom locks the Unholds in place and allows you to safely attack them from two range with your weaker units.
⊱ Barbarians: Protect against high damage Chosen
Barbarians field a lot of dangerous 2Handers that pose a huge threat to most bros not using Indom, especially Forge bros. The harder Barb fights will also have Unholds in the mix. Indom helps you survive these dangerous attacks and control the Unholds.
⊱ Lindwurms/Schrats: Protect against dangerous attacks
Unless you are doing some kite cheese, the best strategy with Wurms is to have a super tank stand in range of the head doing nothing but Indom/Shieldwall while everyone else safely attacks the Tail from 2 range. Without Indom, Wurms are very capable of killing even good bros in just a few hits.
Schrats also deal a large amount of Ignore% damage and they have CS, so without Indom there is a very high chance you will be getting a lot of injuries here.
⊱ “Wait” command: Extend Indom timing
Indom will last until the start of your next turn, so using the “wait” command to slow yourself down (25% INIT penalty next turn) can be a good way to artificially extend your Indom duration.
⊱ Steel Brow: Indom already protects your head
Steelbrow isn’t an especially strong defensive perk on its own. If you are using Indom constantly then it becomes nearly useless as Indom often makes you take zero damage anyway, and your helmet will last twice as long.
⊱ Resilient: Keep the cycle alive
Since Daze status can threaten to break an Adrenaline cycle, if you are entirely dependent on the cycle to stay alive then Resilient could potentially be a safeguard against Daze. This is not an incredible use of a perk point, but it does also make Hexe fights easier.
⊱ Misconception – Indom allows me to get away with bad MDF
Sort of, it is definitely worth considering Indom if your defense is bad for the extra insurance, but surviving more hits will not necessarily save you if you can’t avoid anything in the first place. You still want good defense.
⊱ Misconception – Indom is dependent on Adrenaline/Recover to be good
No. Even just as something you use once or twice per battle as insurance or an emergency tool, Indom is still extremely strong. Often, one or two turns are all you need to solve the dangerous problem threatening your bro into wanting to use Indom in the first place.
⊱ Misconception – Indom is mandatory for late game fights, Orcs, Barbs, Legendaries, etc
No. Myself and other players have beaten every fight in the game without using Indom. It is a strong perk, but the mindset that it is mandatory to succeed is incorrect.