Battle Brothers Hits Early Access

i really had NO idea about this, that is something that changes the context slightly. Though I cant find much about his specific shared posts that give me any light on what he actually said, and more that he is hard right

To be clear, if the game claims historically accurate generals or order of battle, then I expect the same ones that led the armies of the war being depicted. If it’s a generic “general” role, I’m fine with that being ahistorical.

Agreed. In my mind, this issue is fundamentally interwoven with the representation of white men in American culture. A game prominently featuring Han Chinese culture, like TW: 3K, I expect to prominently feature Han Chinese. Yet another all-white-guy setting (let alone one that intentionally degrades women) is not only bog standard, but subtly reinforces existing systemic issues.

I felt like you did. I had no idea, just as with most games I play I don’t always know much about the developers. I’ve been following most of this conversation and really could have gone either way; I default to letting the artist do the work and I either like it or I don’t, and typically judge the work on its own merits (and often I have to; I don’t know anything about who made it).

But once I saw this:

Then my feelings changed and it was like, “aw shit I gave this guy money”. I was acting on the best information I had at the time. I saw good ratings and reviews and bought it. Not an easy matter even if I had known though, because maybe he’s one guy on a team of good people that worked hard, most of whom I would not have a problem supporting.

Did they decide on a low woman premise due to a desire to match the historical gender or random mercenaries in roughly the 13th or 14th centuries or did they decide to specifically exclude women out of misogyny? I can’t know. However the first explanation assumes that the creators are basically decent if fallible and somewhat tone deaf. The second assumes that they are shite people.

I know I am more forgiving than many people in the current zeitgeist so I’ll leave it as I given them the benefit of the doubt and tend to take them at their word that they created with the idea of low women setting because of a general preference for history over ahistorical inclusion and then had the issue that @dbaum mentions with a later somewhat tone deaf suggestion that people should simply use a third party mod.

That’s a good point. I have only ever played the base game. It feels complete so while expansions interest me I’ve never bought them. Too many other games. For what it’s worth I also almost always play with the noble war as the big challenge. I like the more historical nature of it. Plus as someone else mentioned, the orc fights are a pain.

I think you are missing the idea of scale and perhaps tone. CK3 and Total War Three Kingdoms have women as leaders. The games are designed to have the player view these leaders as the player’s focus and actor in the game. They aren’t games where you are dealing with basically grunts who, to me at least, are too numerous, unpersonified, interchangeable and short lived to lead to any sort of identification.

Similarly while I agree that Darklands did the setting and inclusion of women better it was helped by the fact that it leaned more into the rpg aspects similar to JA2. Specifically you created the characters, your starting party was expected to stay around all game, and you have access to some of the fantastical elements and have to balance them against more basic historical abilities. I would have been thrilled if BB had managed to nail the setting as well as Darklands but that is setting a high bar it seems since I don’t think any non-modern squad based tactical game has done so.

Your WW2 comment brings to mind Squad Leader/Advanced Squad Leader which I think is a decent comparison. No one would expect to have female characters in an ASL scenario unless it was given a specific background (partisans, some sort of emergency defense of a rear area target, the notable Soviet snipers). Similar scale, similar historically male dominated setting. Now make it a weird war situation; a specifically historically based squad/unit running into something fantasy (Nazi zombies, dinosaurs in the jungles of New Guinea or a particularly large and aggressive pack of unusual wolves in a forrest) and have to face it with historical tools and squad members who do not have the plot armor of fiction or the exceptional abilities common in rpgs.

In the end I don’t think a creator has a duty to create anything that appeals to a greater audience or specifically promotes a societal goal. Those are both good things of course and a creator might want to take them into account but it shouldn’t be required.

I have to admit that the use of “bog standard” is an interesting phrase. To me it has an implication of something that doesn’t stand out good or bad yet you are using it as a negative. I’d agree that a generic jumbled “European” setting is a negative but a more specific setting that at least attempts to give a more specific historical gloss feels like neither a positive or negative. In the context of getting the best overall games into the environment I think creators should create what they know and let the interests of the consumers and the quality of the games sort things out.

Some snippets:

In response to Confederate monuments in Baltimore being removed following the Charlottesville protest, he commented: “Baltimore Monument Toppled! -1 Culture per turn.”

“This is why I see mindful immigration at a time like this as a form of preservation of Western ideals,” later adding: “Well, for one example, if it’s an unmarried male Muslim you don’t let them in, period.”

“Black women are the best at sex and it’s not even a close competition. I will continue to ‘mix’ it up until one of their boyfriends jacks me with a pipe or some other aspect of this reality changes.’

For the more curious, there is a good amount more in the image.

Yeah, unfortunately I think the writer at least is a shite person. And it’s unfortunate cause it taints the whole enterprise. The other devs on their small team can’t feign ignorance about the writing. They approved it on release and they haven’t retracted anything since. They’re happy with this kind of writing:

“…literally bringing her to heel,” likening her to a dog. Fucking gross. Of course they have sex after, and he just has to get in a jab about her easily impressed nature.

The Brothers are absolutely the player’s focus and actors in the game called Battle Brothers. What else is there? You certainly don’t form an attachment to your armor or crossbow. A lot of people keep their original bros throughout most or all of a run. If you aren’t playing Iron Man, your bros don’t have to be interchangeable or short lived. The Lone Knight playthrough specifically ends if the character representing you dies. People absolutely form connections to their legless grimdark meeples, especially the high levelled and geared ones.

In my mind, Bros are the equivalent of generals in TW: 3K, since 3K generals have a finite lifespan and can and do die on the battlefield. There are famous named generals, but plenty of RNG ones as well. You have more generals in TW: 3K and way more vassals and courtiers in CK3 than in BB. In CK3, they are even more disposable, and even just your dynasty can have hundreds of members.

So, no, I’m not missing scale. The tone is certainly different between TW: 3K and BB, but it didn’t have to be for CK3. Paradox made a choice to not treat women like dirt even though they could have in the name of immersion, realism, or “that’s just how things were back then.” The difference in tone is a conscious one, and yet CK3 is a far more realistic depiction of a historical medieval setting than BB. Battle Brothers specifically chose and continues to choose misogyny.

Agreed on this point. However, in 2021, if a creator makes a game catering to incel fantasies, they should be prepared to deal with some backlash.


Yeah, Jesus. Fuck that guy.

We are going to have to disagree. You bring up CK3 and Total War again and I still see no connection at all. If nothing else they are the result of multiple iterations of game systems from fairly large game companies versus the first (I believe) game by a much smaller team. More importantly to me BB plays as a tactical wargame. Unlike an rpg or a broad scope character based game like CK3 I few the brothers as basically pieces. I do sort of identify with the equipment! Kurt the crossbowman for instance; if Kurt dies I will give his gear (if possible) to Wilhelm who becomes the next crossbowman. There are minor differences but the differences are nothing compared to the influence on play and on my mental response to play between Hildred the aging regent for her 10 year old son who seems to be turning out poorly and Johan the pious, proud, and caste perfect Christian prince who seems to have married an infertile wife and look like he might have to hope for some bastards but that gives him stress. I love CK2 (CK3 didn’t grab me but I also didn’t give it a great shot before moving on) but it is nothing like BB.

That might well explain why I don’t respond as much to the events. In CK2/3 they are helping to show and tell the story of a person I think of as me in game. In BB they feel like in game characters (ie not my voice) saying things that are meant to be either edgy or funny but don’t quite make it. The one you just posted seems cringe worthy as much for the bad attempt at humor as for any misogamy. To me it reinforces the idea that BB is the production of a small team. A B-level game that happened to make it bigger because the tactical combat is good.

Sorry but that gets a chuckle from me. It’s an awkward “you really went there?” sort of chuckle followed by the thought that in a sense it actually works well when you think of it as Confederate culture lowering making Baltimore more likely to flip away from it.

The connection to CK3 is this:

  • CK3 is a more historical game than BB
  • CK3 is set in the same time period and location as BB
  • CK3 manages to not be misogynistic while keeping the historical feel of the period

That’s it. CK3 proves you can do the time period justice without misogyny. Your personal connection or lack thereof to your bros or ruler has nothing to do with it.

Christ, is Urtuk a better example? It’s damn near a BB clone (small dev team! edgy!) and also doesn’t have women combatants. However, one important feature it’s missing is prostitute murdering. Amazingly, the game hardly suffers from this terrible oversight.

Your original point was a battle sister toggle would have damaged the verisimilitude of the setting. I content that’s horseshit. All we lose is some miserable woman-hating dialogue like the examples above. For some reason, you see them as harmless bad humor. For me, it’s painfully assholish writing, demonstrating a sneering disdain for women, and I thought that before reading any of the RPGCodex stuff.

It doesn’t take a team of 100 to not say shitty things about women.

We are talking past each other because you have missed the multiple places where I have separated things into two different issues. I do contend that adding women would harm the verisimilitude of the setting. I’ve also said that the gain in inclusiveness would make the game better overall.
No where have I claimed that misogynistic writing is required or desired to keep any sort of historical feel. We disagree on how bad the writing is but we agree that it is, at best, bad. Toggling in women as warriors doesn’t change anything about the writing in the events.

Since you want to use CK3 as an example I’ll use it. I’d forgotten that it has has a toggle; historically accurate (mostly) and less historically accurate because women are treated equally with men in a fashion that they were generally not in the time period covered. Sorry but CK2 doesn’t have such a toggle and I played only a couple of hours of CK3 so until someone mentioned it in the thread I had no reason to remember it’s existence.

The toggle is good. Very nice and very inclusive. But the designers specifically point out that the toggle for greater equality is not as historically accurate. More inclusive but not as accurate is exactly what I claimed a toggle would be in BB. As the CK3 developers point out you do lose something even if it is an overall gain

The authors of the game disagree with you on this point.

Ok, to be very precise the toggling in of women as warriors has no connection to whether the writing in the events is misogynistic or not. I agreed with @dbaum the it almost certainly does require changes in various tags to get things like pronouns correct.

Looks like the questions I was asked were answered above, but let me know if not.

I kind of agree that CK3 and BB is a bit like comparing apples and pears, but I don’t see how one can dismiss Darklands.

  • Realistic/grim dark Germanic historical setting? Check. Of course, Darklands does this better by using an actual (and much larger) map of Germany. And also by really digging into the historical setting in a way few other RPGs have ever matched.
  • Party of inter-changeable mercenaries? Check. The Darklands party grew old and died + you could at any time retire members and bring in new ones. The BB party is bigger (12 vs 6), but Darklands was not a typical RPG party game.
  • Meaty, extremely detailed combat model with weapon durability, etc., etc. Check.
  • Eternal open world, with “end-game” bosses that the advanced party can attempt to defeat. Check.

In pretty much every aspect, BB is a clear attempt at a spiritual successor to Darklands - and in some ways, is - I would say - a superior game. As a historical-fantasy game, though, Darklands remains unchallenged. Hendricks background as a historian really shines through in that game (so sad that he passed away last year and never got the chance to do a sequel).

I dunno man, I think this is one of those, “there’s no example you can provide that will convince me” situations. Darklands was referenced multiple times previously. Because it was more of an RPG, somehow that makes it invalid. See, it has to be exactly like BB for any comparison to be made.

I’m edging more into snark as I get more frustrated with this topic, so I’ll step back from contributing for a bit.

I agree. The superiority of Darklands might well be why I view BB as such a wargame. The bigger party, random nature of the starting brothers, and generally greater turnover of brothers really changed the feel for me.

Understandable but also frustrating as I was just about to ask you a question. Minus the snark I really like your comments. Actually I don’t mind the snark either except that you seem to be unwilling to read what I have said at times. I’m going to make my comment/question anyway. Answer if you feel like it.

One thing that stuck me last night was that we have completely different connotations for the tavern event. You look at the phrase “catch the mistress on the toe of his boot, quite literally bringing her to heel.” and think that the important this is that it is likening her to a dog. I read that exact same phrase and think its a mixed metaphor the heel and the toe aren’t the same. I haven’t had a dog in over 30 years. When I did have a dog I thought of the word heel as teaching the dog to stop at my heel with a focus on the place. So even that though leads to me thinking that it is simply a very awkward way of describing bringing her to a stop by/at his foot.

Then all thinking about the wording vanishes as I think about how silly it is to visualize the action and how impossible it would be to slow or break anyone’s fall with your foot like that.

Two questions.
Would it provoke a similar response from you if the scene had involved her tumbling down the stairs until he caught her saying “Whoa.” or “Whoa there.” or so on? I’m interested in whether it is the specific dog reference, any animal reference, or the fact that it is presented as the narrator not as an NPC speaking that matters.

If the paragraph simply said he caught her on the toe of his boot would the NPC quote about dropping trou be offensive? I can’t read it as offensive in any way but I’m afraid that I also can’t get the completely silly idea of catching someone’s careening downwards fall (not simply a little topple!) on the tip of your boot at the end of your outstretched leg while your hands are otherwise occupied out of my head. It is such an over the top idea that “easily impressed” comes off as an attempt at false modesty / humble bragging.

Yes the whole scene is very dude bro in tone. I’m not sure that matters. While I haven’t seen any research on it I wonder if much of our current reaction to dude bro type content in games and media is similar to the overreaction to violence in games and media. Research shows that people don’t seem to be influenced to real world violent behavior even after seeing/experiencing/doing violent behavior in video games. It makes sense that people would make the same separation of fiction and real life with regards to dude bro content.

In the end I view games like BB as similar to second rate action movies and think there is room for them. We should point out when they go to far (for me the little boys line in the prostitute event is too far) but there is no need to hold them to a standard that they were never aiming for.

So uh, yeah, breaking my 5 minute vow of silence to explain this whole thing out. It’s my interpretation, but I’ll try to support it with reasonably objective definitions and interpretation where possible.

From The Free Dictionary:

bringing (someone) to heel: To force someone to obey one’s wishes or commands; to make someone act in accordance with one’s authority.

The figurative interpretation of bringing someone to heel, especially in this medieval context is to get them under your control, doing what you want them to do. It comes from what I described earlier, commanding a dog to your heel.

This term transfers commanding a dog to come close behind its master to similar control over human beings or affairs.

Discarding the awkwardness, or indeed, physical impossibility of the interaction, the allusion the writer was conjuring compares your bro’s dominance over this woman to a master commanding a dog. There’s an obvious power disparity between humans and dogs, both physical and intellectual. So it’s implied this woman is weaker and dumber than our bro, and there are even subtle sexual connotations if applied in certain situations (and this obviously was one). This vignette married, literally and figuratively, your bro bringing a woman to their heel. Both meanings were present and intended.

Of course, the sexual connotation is immediately made explicit, because what use is power over women if you can’t have sex with them? So of course, they have sex after he brings her to heel like a dog. To top it off, they have a joke at her expense, to throw in a little slut-shaming shit cherry on top of the shit sundae.

The “easily impressed” line directly insults the woman’s discernment. The implication is that all it takes for this woman to sleep with a man is an effortless act of physical dominance. She’s so naive and feckless as to sleep with any guy who walks into town and does even the slightest interesting thing. Further, this fact should be pointed out and mocked.

To be clear, I’m not offended by the writing. As someone, who, I don’t know, doesn’t hate women and treats them with respect, I’m repulsed by it. To me it indicates a diseased mindset: someone imbittered by past experiences, able to paint an entire gender with a overbroad brush.

To answer your questions, I’m less disgusted by what specific acts were performed and more how they were described. If the writer alludes to slavery to describe a guy catching catching a woman as she falls down the stairs, he’s managed to turn an innocuous act into a horrific one.

Dude used some really base imagery in this event and others when he absolutely didn’t have to. He didn’t have to compare the woman to a dog. He didn’t have to mock her after. But of course he did, because he’s human garbage.

When @strategy says the writing drips with misogyny, this is what he’s talking about.

I’ll admit that I was sort of fishing for this response. That is probably the key bit. You look at it very figuratively. I tend to look at it much more literally. I’ve never had any desire to change your mind on the writing. I more or less agree with it but only on an academic level. When I read the text that isn’t what I think of. In the end I’m interested in that difference in perception partially because I think many of the people who have a very figurative perception assume that the more literal or detail people are being willfully dense.

Cool. Glad I wrote all that up to satisfy your curiosity.