Want to quickly update a topic I’ve discussed here a lot in the past; that difficulty often leads you to learning the inner mechanics of a game, and that is one spot a good game will shine. In the linked post I mention Battle Brothers, and I want to provide additional context to that today.
One of the big things the Beasts and Exploration expansion adds is, well, beast, and the biggest/hardest of those is the Kraken. After you complete some steps at a legendary location, you unlock the Kraken fight, which is very unique from a mechanics standpoint, mostly in a good way, but with some flaws.
The Kraken head is immovable, one-shot kills anyone standing next to it, and has very high armor/hp. The Kraken also has 8 tentacles (small arms that are function like an enemy unit) that will move towards you, wrap you up, and then drag you back towards the head. They also occasionally melee attack you. When you kill one, the head takes damage, but the tentacle will respawn in a random location around the head. The fight always takes place in a swamp, which greatly hinders movement.
The basic pattern of the fight goes like this: tentacles move towards you, and wrap up some of your guys. You can then attempt to free your guys with others if they are standing next to them. Anyone who doesn’t need to free someone attacks a tentacle. Each kill chips away at the health of the head. Anyone who doesn’t get freed is moved towards the head, which is almost inevitable death as others can’t reach them, and while they can attempt to free themselves, doing so leaves them without enough movement to return to safety. The fight is a long one, and really an endurance test of whether you can keep enough people alive long enough to kill the needed number of tentacles. Each lost brother is one fewer person to break someone out, and after even just a few loses you basically spiral into defeat.
I think the biggest flaw or frustration with the fight right now is the occasional attacks from the tentacles. They hit too hard, being able to kill even a top-geared/leveled brother in a few hits, which pushes you away from critical mass to free everyone and keep going. The fight needs some damage, otherwise the strategy would be to go in naked (max fatigue), and that eliminates the benefits of gearing up, which is key to the whole game. Instead, I’d suggest the damage be way toned down, so brothers take hits, but don’t die nearly as fast.
Another tweak to make is to increase the damage the head takes from dead tentacles. Right now the fight takes way too long, which means that bad RNG factors in a little too much, and its just overall not as enjoyable as it should be because of the time commitment.
I think the wrap/pull mechanic works well, so I wouldn’t make any major changes to that (maybe reduce the movement a little of the tentacles, so a failed rescue isn’t instant-death).
A hard fight like this pushes you to understand the mechanics of the whole game. You can no longer bring a brother that has just OK stats, or has sub-par gear. It truly is an ‘end-game’ encounter, and requires near-mastery of the game itself. That’s good IMO, because the depth of Battle Brothers is excellent.
Not sure how I feel about encounters like that in games meant to be played in ironman. Wiping on unfamiliar mechanics, even with a judicious retreat, sets the squad back a fair bit, and grinding back to former strength feels a little unfair at the endgame. Darkest Dungeon’s finale was especially annoying in this regard, if one didn’t look it up in advance.
Yup, Kraken doesn’t fit into Ironman. You can’t really run away from the fight (grabs you too fast), the layout of the map is too big a variable (if you start in water you lose), even the RNG with breaking out or getting hit is more random than the typical fight.