Tactical turn based combat is the heart of Battle Brothers. The battlefield is a hex-tiled grid, with elevation, obstacles/terrain considerations and zone of control mechanics. An Action Point (AP) system limits the number of actions (movement, skill use) a unit can take each round and an initiative-based system determines the order in which combatants act out their turns.[1]
The character with the highest initiative will start first in a battle round, followed by characters with lower initiative. As initiative is lowered when a character builds up fatigue or has a penalty to max. fatigue (due to armor/weapons or other effects), his turn may move from first to last very quickly, if he gets fatigued too fast and the enemies do not.

Action Points (AP):
AP is spent by actions (moving, striking, using special skills/consumables, etc) and refreshed at the start of the every round. All brothers and most enemy units have 9AP. A few have less (ie Wiedergangers) and some have more (ie Direwolves, Goblin Wolfriders).

Movement on flat ground (Grass/Plains/Roads) costs 2AP. Rough terrain such as Forest/Snow have tiles that typically cost 3AP (there are tiles that still cost 2AP though (ie Light Snow)). Swamp costs 4AP for tiles with Murky Water. Changing elevation adds a further +1 to AP cost per tile. Most strikes from 1-handed weapons use 4AP (exception: Dagger (with Mastery) uses only 3AP) and strikes from 2-handed weapons use 6AP (exception: Warbrand, Rhomphaia and Crypt Cleaver uses 4AP on regular strikes; Jagged Pike uses 5AP).

A typical battle starts with both parties in a line formation (1-2 lines deep for your forces, may be deeper for the enemy), with at least 5 hexes between parties. Human forces cannot close to melee distance within 1 round as traversing a hex takes a minimum of 2AP. Direwolves and Goblin Wolfriders on the other hand can definitely close the gap in 1 round. As bows have a range of 7 tiles on the flat (8 with mastery) and crossbows have a range of 6 tiles, both sides start the 1st round within firing distance of ranged combatants.

Apart from AP, all weapon strikes and movement on the battlefield also cost fatigue to execute, therefore a fully fatigued character can neither strike nor move. Every character recovers 15 fatigue at the start of his turn. As per full release version 1.1, dodging blows also increases Fatigue by 2 and getting struck by a blow increases Fatigue by 5.

Zone of Control (ZoC):
Melee units /units toting a melee weapon exert a Zone of Control on hexes directly adjacent to them. Any unit trying to leave a hex under Zone of Control will suffer automatic strikes from hostile adjacents. If the strikes all miss, the unit is free to leave the hex under control. If any strike hits, the attempt to leave the hex fails and the unit has to try again. Units using a ranged weapon (ie bow, javelins, etc), Fleeing units and Stunned units have no Zone of Control.

To-Hit ChanceEdit

Base chance to hit (shown after selecting a skill and mousing over a target) is essentially: melee skill of brother subtracted against base melee defence of target. [2]

This is further modified by various factors listed below.

  • Gear, elevation and surround bonuses are factored in additively. (ie an attacker with Melee Skill of 70 striking a defender with Melee Defense of 0 will have 70% hit chance. If said attacker had another friendly unit adjacent/surrounding the defender, he would get +5% or in other words his hit chance would be 75% instead)
  • Morale bonuses/penalties and injury penalties are factored in multiplicatively (ie an archer with 86 Ranged Skill at Steady will have effectively 94 Ranged Skill at Confident (+10%))

Defense is improved by shields (mentioned below), various perks like Dodge, Shield Expert, Reach Advantage. However it is also subject to diminishing returns at higher values.[3]
This appears to start at 45 Defense and as Defense increases, so does diminishing returns. At 101 displayed Melee Defense, the game treats this as only 73 effective Melee Defense (-28 from diminishing returns). In other words, roughly half the increase for defense from mid 40s onwards is lost to diminishing returns. [4]
Updated graph on effective defense vs displayed defense. Data collected by Anonymous


  • Weapons with hit bonuses include, for example, pitchforks, pikes and the Battle Standard with a +10% chance when using the "Impale" skill.
  • Weapon skills like Slash (+10% hit chance, available for swords) or Thrust (+20% hit chance, available for spears)
  • Shields confer strong defense bonuses which significantly lower the hit chance of anyone attacking someone who has a shield equipped. Examples of standard shields:
Icon buckler shield 01
Wooden Shield
Icon faction shield round 00
Kite Shield
Inventory faction shield kite 08 01
Heater Shield
Inventory faction shield heater 08 01
+10 Melee Def.
+5 Ranged Def.
+15 Melee Def.
+15 Ranged Def.
+15 Melee Def.
+25 Ranged Def.
+20 Melee Def.
+15 Ranged Def.

The Shieldwall skill (not available to mercenaries using a Buckler as it is not a "normal" shield) can be used in combat to double shield defense with a additional bonus for each adjacent ally also using the Shieldwall skill. This tactic can be used to give your front rank mercenaries a big boost to defense when taking a large amount of damage is otherwise inevitable (e.g. needing to advance while under fire from enemy ranged troops).

Height LevelEdit

Height levels are used as ground elevations (hills) on the battle map. When standing on them, you gain a bonus to hit chance while enemies suffer a penalty to their chance to hit you.

Changing height level costs more action points and costs more fatigue than walking on the same height layer. The Pathfinder perk eliminates these penalties. The Pathfinder perk is especially useful for polearm or 2H weapon users, as it allows them to change height level and still attack. It is also extremely useful for ranged mercenaries as they gain significant bonuses from having a higher elevation than their targets and the Pathfinder perk facilitates easy repositioning.

There are the following types of height level in-game:

  • Flat Ground (0 Height Level) Height 0
  • 1. Height Level Height 1
  • 2. Height Level Height 2
  • 3. Height Level Height 3

When standing on a higher height level than your opponent, you gain a +10% chance to hit and they suffer a -10% penalty to hit. It is always advantageous to have the high ground in any battle and the AI will try to occupy the high ground whenever possible, especially their ranged units.

Ranged weapons gain an additional hex of range for each level of height. They also gain increased damage(?) as well as improved hit chance versus targets at a lower height level.

You only count as being in melee attack range if there is a one level difference of height between opposing characters standing in adjacent hexes. If there are two or more levels of height difference between the hex a character is standing on and an enemy in an adjacent hex, you do not count as being in melee attack range or being in each other's Zone of Control.

Surround MechanicEdit

  • Surrounding an enemy with your mercenaries gives a +5% melee hit chance per ally (your own mercenaries or friendly AI) standing adjacent to the enemy not counting the character currently acting (if he is adjacent to the enemy).
  • Your own mercenaries are vulnerable to the same surround mechanic as enemies. The Underdog perk makes it so that opponents can only gain a bonus chance to hit if the character with the Underdog perk is in base contact with 4 or more enemies. The first 3 are discounted for the calculations. This makes Underdog an extremely valuable pick for frontline mercenaries, especially those on the flanks of the main battle line as they will almost always be at least partially surrounded.
  • The Backstabber perk doubles the +5% hit chance bonus to a +10% hit chance bonus for each ally adjacent to an enemy for the character who possesses the perk not counting the character currently acting (if he is adjacent to the enemy).
  • Wardogs count as allies for the purposes of calculating surround mechanic hit chance bonuses.
  • Example: A Brigand Raider is surrounded by Diethelm, Tostig and Erik, all of whom are mercenaries in your company.
    Tostig is the currently acting character in the turn order. He gains +5% chance to hit for Diethelm being in base contact with the Brigand Raider and another +5% chance to hit for Erik being in base contact with the Brigand Raider. This creates a total of +10% chance to hit as Tostig is not counted for the purposes of the surround mechanic as he is the currently acting character. If Tostig had the Backstabber perk, he would have a total bonus of 20% chance to hit in this scenario. Backstabber can be very useful for mercenaries with low melee attack skill, like tanks or "cannon fodder" mercs that you plan to replace with superior quality hires at a later time.
  • Another example:


  • Dodge gives a bonus equal to 15% of current Initiative to both Melee Defense and Ranged Defense. Note that Dodge loses effectiveness due to certain injuries which affect Initiative and as a mercenary builds up fatigue during battle (accumulated fatigue lowers Initiative). Dodge is also less effective on characters that are wearing heavier types of armor and using heavy weapons (e.g. Fighting Axe) and even shields as your Initiative is lowered based on the fatigue penalty of equipped weapons, shields, armor and by what is being carried in your bags if it has a fatigue penalty (although this penalty is reduced by 50% while said items are in your bags).
  • Shield bonuses to Melee Defense and Ranged Defense can be increased further by using the Shield Expert perk which increases the base defense bonuses of the currently equipped shield by 25%. Unique shields with higher bonuses to defense values make this perk even more potent.
  • Some weapon masteries increase the to-hit chance of particular attacks of the related weapon (e.g. Sword Mastery gives the Split and Swing attacks available when using a Greatsword or Warbrand a +5% chance to hit).
  • Some other perks give bonuses/maluses to hit chances under specific conditions. They are described in more detail on the Perks page.

Day/Night CycleEdit

Battle Brothers uses a day/night cycle, going through the following phases

Dawn - Morning - Midday - Afternoon - Evening - Dusk - Night

Battles fought during the night give combatants the Nighttime debuff which gives them penalties of -2 Vision, -30% Ranged Skill and -30% Ranged Defense (if not immune to the effects - e.g. having The Fangshire helmet equipped). As Ranged Skill for both AI ranged troops and human-controlled mercenaries generally tends to be significantly higher than Ranged Defense in most cases, this usually works out in favor of the defender. Thus it is advantageous to attack enemies which have ranged superiority during Nighttime.

Ranged To-Hit ChanceEdit

Ranged to-hit rolls operate in the same manner as melee to-hit rolls, where to-hit = Ranged Skill of brother subtracted by base Ranged Defense of target. A few additional factors come into play though, besides the usual gear and perk considerations, namely:

1. Distance and base accuracy bonus of strike
  • Regular bows suffer -4% accuracy per hex with Quickshot (no base accuracy bonus)
  • Regular bows suffer -2% accuracy per hex with Aimed Shot (offset by a +10% base accuracy bonus)
  • Crossbows suffer -3% accuracy per hex when using the Shoot Bolt skill (offset by the standard +10% base accuracy bonus for crossbows or +5% base accuracy bonus if using a Spiked Impaler + 15% base accuracy bonus for the Shoot Bolt skill)
  • The first hex from the bowman is NOT counted and does not give penalties for the purposes of to-hit chance calculations.
  • Examples:
    (a.) Aimed Shot by a Ranged Skill 50 bowman on a Bandit Thug with a Ranged Defense skill of 0 who is 7 hexes away, will have 50% + 10% (Aimed Shot) - 12% (accuracy degradation of 2 for 6 hexes of distance) = 48% to-hit chance.
    (b.) Shoot Bolt by a Ranged Skill 50 crossbowman on a Bandit Thug with a Ranged Defense skill of 0 who is 6 hexes away using a Light Crossbow, will have 50% + 10% (basic accuracy bonus for crossbows) +15% chance for Shoot Bolt - 15% (accuracy degradation of 3 for 5 hexes of distance) = 60% to-hit chance.
  • Thrown weapons (e.g. Bundle of Javelins) suffer a penalty of -10% accuracy per hex (offset by a +30% base accuracy bonus). Note that, unlike bows and crossbows, thrown weapons DO count the first hex from the attacker for distance effects on accuracy.
2. Cover (shown as "Line of fire blocked" with it's own unique icon of a shield with an arrow) reduces overall to-hit chance by 75%. This penalty can be reduced to 50% by the Bullseye perk. In the above example (a.), the bowman would only have a 12% to-hit chance on the Bandit Thug if he had cover (e.g he was standing behind another enemy unit or was behind one of your own units. This chance would be improved to 24% with the Bullseye perk making it a core pick for ranged mercenaries.
  • The initial roll on whether the shot hits the intended target or its 'Cover'(which could be another unit or an inanimate obstacle) is NOT shown on the battle log though as of release 1.1. The battle log ONLY displays the to-hit roll for the intended or unintended target, without factoring in Cover a second time.[5]
  • Ranged attacks now confer the debuff granted by the Overwhelm perk to any target struck even if it is not the intended target (e.g. hit on another target due to the scatter mechanic for ranged attacks) or even by a miss on the intended target.
  • As with Melee Defense, the Dodge perk and shields also affect Ranged Defense, as does height advantage/disadvantage. The Anticipation perk confers a bonus to Ranged Defense based on the distance from the attacker and on the base Ranged Defense of the defender. The farther the distance from the attacker, the bigger of a bonus Anticipation provides to Ranged Defense. Some enemy units have access to these perks as well (e.g. Goblin Ambushers have the Anticipation perk).
3. Scatter is a mechanic whereby a missed ranged attack has a chance to strike an adjacent target, friendly or enemy. Because of scatter, it can be effective to fire into a block of enemy units even if your hit chance on your intended target is low for whatever reason (e.g. due to the line of fire being blocked, due to low ranged skill or due to distance). In this circumstance, you have a reasonable chance to hit something (hopefully an enemy!).
  • Ranged attacks via the scatter mechanic can actually strike unintended targets one hex beyond the normal maximum range of the attack in question.

HP and Armor DamageEdit

A regular d100 roll (a procedure to get a random number in the range of 1 to 100) is made. If number is lower than to-hit % chance,then this is a hit, a 2nd d100 roll is made to see if it the attack hits the head. [6]

Head hits are critical hits which do +50% damage to HP, but no added damage to head armor. Base chance to hit the head is 25%, modifiable by weapons (i.e. flails, billhooks, etc), perks (Head Hunter) and Character Backgrounds(Killer on the Run, Juggler).

  • Case 1: If no armor is present (or armor has 0% durability) and a strike hits, then the damage will be subtracted from HP. This will be the base weapon damage plus any damage modifiers (i.e. Drunkard trait).
  • Case 2: When armor is present, armor takes damage first (base weapon damage x Vs armor modifier). HP takes damage subsequently ((base weapon damage x ignore armor modifier) - 10% of current armor).[7] From in-game testing, armor and HP damage rolls appear to be separate rolls.
  • Case 3: If armor is destroyed by a blow whose armor damage would exceed the previous remaining durability of the former, HP damage falls somewhere between "damage from ignore armor" (case 2) and base weapon damage (case 1). In other words, "ignore armor" hp damage is applied (as per Case 2) and so is a "leftover damage component after armor destruction". This leftover component appears to be a highly random separate damage roll but generally for armor with still fair durability (>90), test results hew close to 0, whereas for armor with low durability (<25), this component can take on higher values, but is still bounded by base weapon damage as a maximum.

For example, using a Billhook to attack an Orc Warrior wearing Looted Plate Armor (400) (= For this example -> Head Armor):

  • Billhook (60-90 base damage)
  • Orc Warrior is hit in the head (critical hit), resulting in +50% HP damage
  • 30% ignore armor [range: 18-27 hp damage]
  • 150% vs armor [range: 90-135 armor damage]
  • We roll 120 on armor damage, 27 on hp damage (which, because of the +50% bonus of critical hit, truly equals 40 hp damage).
  • Result: Looted Plate takes 120 damage. 280 armor remains.
  • Orc Warrior takes 40 - 28 (10% of remaining armor) = 12 hp damage

"Split Man" damage mechanics: Edit

Two-Handed Axe "Split Man" Skill is explained in game as "hits both head and body for additional damage". Here is an accurate explanation on what it means:

The split man will hit the target twice in one attack.

The first hit is the same as common weapons and do 100% of weapon damage. It will roll to determine if the hit is on the head or body just like normal weapons. If it hits the head, it will do critical damage as well. The second hit will be on the other part (if first hit on body, the second on head and vice verse). This damage is 50% of the weapon damage and NEVER crit.

The raw damage can be considered as 150% weapon damage if not crit and 200% if crit (with no other crit damage bonus). But as the damage will be subtracted by armor twice (once per hit, it does less health damage than a weapon with 150% damage, while the total damage on armor is the same as 150%. [6: reference "Split Man" damage mechanics explanation" on guide section -]

Weapon DurabilityEdit

Weapon durability is important, as when a weapon's or shield's durability reaches zero, the weapon or shield will break.

  • Melee weapon durability is lowered by 3 (was previously 4 in earlier builds) when it strikes metal (or other hard) armour, it doesn't lower when it hits flesh (Hitpoints). Durability loss for AoE strikes is calculated separately for each individual hit (ie a Warscythe can lose 9 durability on using Reap, if 3 targets are successfully struck and all 3 hits connect with metal).
  • Shield durability is lowered if it is hit by certain Throwing Weapons (like Javelins and Throwing Axes), by being hit with the Split Shield skill of a wepaon (the shield damage will vary based on the weapon doing the splitting) or by randomly being hit with any other weapon when the attempted attack fails but doesn't miss and hit the shield instead (-1 durability for each hit, regardelss of weapon).
    The Shield Expert Perk reduces the incoming shield damage by half (50%) to a minimum of one.
  • Bow or Crossbow durability is lowered by 2 (was previously 4 in earlier builds) with each shot.


Morale is one of five states and represents the mental condition of combatants and their effectiveness in battle. At the lowest state, fleeing, a character will be outside your control - although they may eventually rally again. Morale changes as the battle unfolds, with characters that have high resolve less likely to fall to low morale states. Many of your opponents are affected by morale as well.

Morale is represented by a flag icon next to the character portrait (during battle). All units (excluding most Undead and most Ancient Dead) have Morale status, which varies from Confident to Fleeing, with Steady being the default state. Most Undead and most Ancient Dead have "Unbreakable" morale, a state that cannot be affected during battle, with no bonuses or penalties to stats.

Effects of Morale on various stats are shown below:

Resolve Melee
Confident 0 +10% +10% +10% +10%
Steady 0 0 0 0 0
Wavering -10% -10% -10% -10% -10%
Breaking -20% -20% -20% -20% -20%
Fleeing -30% -30% -30% -30% -30%
  • All percentages are applied multiplicatively. For example, a unit with 86 Ranged Skill will have an effective 94 Ranged Skill upon receiving Confident status.
  • Brothers' starting Morale in battle is rolled based on their Mood. Certain Traits (ie Determined, Dastard, etc) of a character can affect the default starting state.
  • Morale checks can change a character's state of morale.

Negative Morale checks (lowers morale state if check fails) are triggered:
1) when engaged in melee by more than one opponent and more than already engaged by this turn -The difficulty is relatively low, but scales with the danger of the opponent closing in (i.e. more likely to fail against an Orc Warrior than a Bandit Thug)[8]
2) when a unit takes 15 or more hp damage (only 1 hp damage required with Fearsome perk)
3) when a friendly unit dies - the more powerful a character is and the closer he is to his allies, the more impact his death has on everyone’s morale, and therefore the higher the morale check difficulty will be in case he is killed)[9]
4) when units like Geists and Ancient Priests use morale affecting skills (Horrific Scream and Horror) - Horrific Scream now triggers 4 small morale checks (since build 0.9).[8]

Positive Morale checks (improves morale state if check succeeds) are triggered:
1) when an opponent is slain - the difficulty of the morale check depends on how powerful and how close the opponent was – a Goblin Chieftain being slain is much more likely to improve everyone’s morale than a random goblin out of a dozen more.[9]
2) when the Rally skill is used - only affects men with Wavering or worse morale: has a chance to regain control of fleeing men and to raise morale (see Rally the Troops in Perks)

  • Unlike hit rolls, Morale check rolls are never shown on the battlelog, so no specifics are available, apart from being a roll made to test the Resolve of the character(s) involved.
  • Units that fail a morale check/resolve test when they are on Broken state will panic, change to Fleeing state, are moved to the end of the turn order and try to disengage and flee the battlefield.
  • Fleeing characters have no zone of control, allowing opponents to navigate adjacent tiles without penalty.
  • Fleeing units can regain their composure and come back to fight, if they pass a morale check (made each turn, given some distance to the nearest enemy). If the check is passed, the character will be returned to a “wavering” morale state and can then act normal again.[9]