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Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




The Banner Saga is a strategy game that was Kickstarted nearly two years ago, and finally saw its release at the beginning of 2014. Survive through battle, tenacity and difficult decisions in a world inspired by Norse Mythology while being beset by traitors, monsters and starvation. Almost all of the game's art is hand-drawn frame by frame, and the music is by Austin Wintory, the genius behind the soundtrack of the 2012 game Journey.

How this thread will go down:

  • I'm going to try to update every Monday and Thursday. It's a bit slower than my usual pace, but there's a lot going on in this game (and I may occasionally have to redo a battle multiple times to get past it), so I'm aiming low. If I'm feeling good about my pace, or if I have to do a smaller update, I may increase the pace.
  • No spoilers in the thread. Not even behind spoiler tags. Not even hinting smugly at events yet to come. No spoilers no spoilers no spoilers.
  • There are a lot of choices in this game, some trivial and some crucial to how events play out. I'll be glossing over the simple choices, but leaving the more important ones - plus some decisions about how we manage our caravan - to a thread vote. These will always be on a 24-hour timer, so that I have time to put the update together.
  • As with my previous LP, any vote accompanied by related fanart you drew yourself counts double.
  • If you already know the outcome of a particular decision, either by reading spoilers or playing yourself, don't vote on it.

Prologue


Day 0: Nobleman
Day 0: Departing Strand
Day 2: The Dredge


Day 4: Skogr Attacked
Day 4: Evacuation
Day 5: Distraction
Day 5: Hridvaldyr
Day 9: Hogun & Mogun
Day 9: Arrival at Frostvellr
Day 11: Ekkill


Day 13: Departing Vedrfell
Day 13: Bersi & Yrsa
Day 13: War
Day 17: Dredge Army (First Half)
Day 17: Dredge Army (Second Half)
Day 18: Fasolt
Day 19: Denglr
Day 20: Reinforcements
Day 22: Approaching Ridgehorn
Day 23: Arrival at Ridgehorn
Day 23: The Tower
Day 23: To Grofheim


Day 51: Frostvellr
Day 51: Ekkill Revisited
Day 53: Journey to Wyrmtoe
Day 59: Wyrmtoe
Day 59: Marek
Day 67: Collapse
Day 70: Burra Pass
Day 76: Bellower


Day 77: Juno
Day 77: Defense of Einartoft (Day 1)
Day 78: Defense of Einartoft (Day 2)
Day 79: Defense of Einartoft (Day 3)


Day 80: Departure from Einartoft
Day 82: Pursued
Day 84: The High Pass
Day 87: Dundr
Day 93: Ingrid
Day 95: Arrival at Sigrholm
Day 97: The Wait
Day 98: Onef
Day 104: The Road to Boersgard
Day 106: Bjorulf
Day 112: End of the Road

Bonus: The Map


Day 116: The Situation in Boersgard
Day 116: Seige (Day 1)
Day 117: Seige (Day 2)
Day 118: Seige (Day 3)
Day 119: Seige (Day 4)
Day 120: Stravhs
Day 121: The Slain

Quinn2win fucked around with this message at 00:40 on Aug 29, 2014

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Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?


Fanart

WARNING: This contains spoilers!

By Akogare Zephyr


By tomanton


By yokaiy

Quinn2win fucked around with this message at 21:41 on Aug 31, 2014

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?






Video: The Road to Strand

Video links in this LP are all highly encouraged, but not required. What follows will always be a summary of what happened in the video.

BGM: How did it come to This?



"It has been several long months on the road. The first signs of snowfall accost us on our approach to Strand, largest of the trade cities on the varl-human borders, and our last collection before returning to the capital."



"Several days ago, the sun simply came to a stop in the sky, though during these long winter days, none of us can be certain how long it has been this way. Some of the men in the caravan have taken it as a dire open. I am not quick to superstition, but I myself will be glad to be done with this year's rounds."



"We have been warned by stranded travelers about brigands on the path through Ridgehorn, our road home. Our captain seems unconcerned. Perhaps he is eager as I to be done here. We will rest here this day and inquire further when we speak to the governor."






As the varl ride into town, a human approaches the caravan, shouting something in a foreign language.



Inside, everything is chaos - a chieftain in red threatens the governor, his men cutting down the guards.



Before he can cut the governor down, though, the doors are smashed open, and the varl make their presence known the only way they care for:



Blood and Steel.



The game begins with our first battle! This is the tutorial, so expect a lot of informational boxes. I'll be skipping most of them to explain the battle system as I go.



First up is our Shieldbanger. On his turn, he can move, then take an action.

Because he's a varl, he takes up four spaces, whereas humans only take up one. Also note that the edge of his movement range is highlighted in gold - more on that in a bit. Moving up to melee range.



This is a good time to talk about the game's stats!

Strength plays the role of both attack power and health. When your Strength is reduced to 0, you're down for the fight.
Armor is your resistance to enemy attacks. Every time you attack an enemy, you can choose to attack their Strength or their Armor. If you attack Strength, the damage you inflict is equal to your Strength, minus the enemy's remaining Armor.
Break is how good you are at breaking through enemy Armor. If you attack Armor, then the damage you inflict is equal to your Break, but the damage is applied to their Armor, so their Strength is not reduced. You can't kill anyone with Break attacks.
Willpower is your reserve of inner strength that allows you to push past your usual limits. It can be used to move farther or hit harder.
Exertion is the limit on how much Willpower you can spend on a single move or action.
Ability Rank is how powerful your special ability is.

This raider has 5 Strength and 4 Armor, and I have 9 Strength, so I can kill him with a single Strength attack.



Which I do.



Next is the chieftain in red - the row of portraits on the bottom indicates the turn order. Note how it's alternating us and them - that will (almost) always be true. Whoever has fewer warriors on the field gets more actions per unit.

Shieldbangers have very good Armor - the chieftain hits for a paltry 1 damage. That won't take the varl down anytime soon, but it does mean that his Strength attacks are doing 1 less damage now. The Shieldbanger passive ability means that anyone who damages him in melee takes 1 Armor damage in retaliation, so the chieftain's Armor is slightly reduced in exchange.



Next up is Gunnulf, the Warhawk. Fighting with a two-handed sword, his Armor is a bit lower, but his Strength is great.

The gold area at the edge of movement indicates space that you can't reach without spending Willpower. Because Gunnulf has an Exertion of 2, he can spend 2 of his 8 will to move an extra two spaces, putting him in range of these two raiders.

Note the numbers under the raiders as I put my cursor within attack range of them - that's how much damage I can do to them with a Strength attack from this character.



As outlined here, Gunnulf has two abilities!

His passive, Heavy Impact, means that when he damages an enemy, all enemies adjacent to them take 1 Strength damage.
His active ability, Tempest, hits one enemy and then also hits the next enemy around clockwise. Let's use that!



Both enemies have 7 Strength, so the 6 damage wouldn't be enough... but thanks to Heavy Impact, each hit does 1 Strength damage to the other, taking them both out at once.

Using an ability costs 1 will, for the record, so Gunnulf has 5 left.



When there is only one enemy (or ally) left standing, Pillage Mode starts. This overrides the usual rule of alternating turns between the two sides - instead, we all get an action to his one.



Not that we'll need it here. Will can be spent 1-for-1 to increase the power of attacks, be they hitting Armor or Strength. The Shieldbanger has an Exertion of 1, so he can only add 1 damage, but that's enough.



So ends the ambitions of the chieftain in red.





Victory is ours!

Renown is your reward for slaying your foes. It is used to upgrade characters and buy items.

Now, we have a governor to talk to.

Video: Like a Rabid Wolf



"Like a rabid wolf, that one. How did it come to this? We fool ourselves into believing that peace will last. My grandfather built all this from a poor fishing village, you know."



"He watched the gods die. Watched the chaos that followed. Watched man and varl slaughter each other, even before the dredge arose."



"All we've done is traded one struggle for another. Now that there are no more dredge to war against, we war against ourselves."



"This chieftain meant to kill me, and he's not the first. A dozen families in the city would gladly take my chair."



"This one had men waylaying merchants both north and south of the city, strangling trade; quite well I would add, though he denied it to his last. This sort of wolf doesn't stop biting because the head is cut off, it just grows a new head."



"I am in a bad way, my friend. Help me finish this fight and I will gladly send you on your way, with double our king's tithe."



"Take any men you need. They're loyal, I promise you that. They will meet you down in the proving grounds."

Quinn2win fucked around with this message at 22:09 on Apr 14, 2014

Deadmeat5150
Nov 21, 2005

OLD MAN YELLS AT CLAN


I was always curious about this game. I heard it had a punishing difficulty.

citybeatnik
Mar 1, 2013

You Are All
WEIRDOS





Deadmeat5150 posted:

I was always curious about this game. I heard it had a punishing difficulty.

It can be very punishing, although the last time I played it I had it turned all the way down. I think I got about... halfway in?

Which is a shame since i helped kickstart this game, so i really should get around to playing it. I'll be following this thread if only to see what real tactics there are and what differences there are between my choices and the thread's.

Yapping Eevee
Nov 12, 2011

STAND TOGETHER.
FIGHT WITH HONOR.
RESTORE BALANCE.

Eevees play for free.


Soiled Meat

A tactics game with interesting mechanics and a very nice art style? Well, colour me intrigued.

Onean
Feb 11, 2010


Oooo, nice. I'll have to follow this to see how this playthrough goes. Also, to motivate myself to finish my run before you get farther than I do.

RickVoid
Oct 21, 2010


OH drat this game looks good. The LP subforum is ruining my bank account.

Zanzibar Ham
Mar 17, 2009

You giving me the cold shoulder? How cruel.




Grimey Drawer

This game looks great.

And the game mechanics look really engaging, though I can see myself really struggling with things until I got over my compulsion to never use any willpower at any point "just in case".

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?


Mehuyael posted:

This game looks great.

And the game mechanics look really engaging, though I can see myself really struggling with things until I got over my compulsion to never use any willpower at any point "just in case".

The game actually actively punishes you for hoarding Willpower, which I'll probably touch on in my next update.

I seriously love the battle system in this game.

Captain Bravo
Feb 16, 2011

An Emergency Shitpost
has been deployed...

...but experts warn it is
just a drop in the ocean.

I've never seen any of this, despite owning the game! I started playing in Beta, back when it was only battles and a few upgrades, no story mode. The difficulty was phenomenal, I only ever won maybe 2 or 3 rounds against human opponents in the time I played. Never realized they'd released the full game since!

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?






This is Ubin, our first perspective character. An old tax collector and historian.





I'm sure you'll get it, if not more.



It's been worse. We've got a lot of irons in the fire.
What does he want, exactly?
Skalfings that you didn't hack up in the great hall scattered after you took out their chieftain. The governor just wants to make sure they stay down. Was hoping you'd join me at the marketplace by the docks. If there's anyone left to worry about, I know who can tell us.



Strand! A nice place.

I'll get to what all that HUD means later. For now, all we can do is go to the market.



You meander through rows of open-face houses and eroded stalls. Colored canvases flap on a briny current. One man in particular blanches as you approach.

Hadd, I'm not in the mood today.



Talking to an idiot. The Skalfing's chieftain bled out about an hour ago, Hadd. So when you tell me what rat anus the rest of them crawled back into, nobody's going to try to kill you this time.



Hadd, I had a change of heart. I hope you do give us a hard time.

Hadd sweats visibly, fumbling with some dirty trinkets on his table.

Wait, just... buy one of these. If everybody thinks I'm getting worked over every week, how am I supposed to know much? Just a little food money, yeah?



Human bickering tires us.

You motion to Gunnulf, your enormous bodyguard, who looms over the man like a snake over a mouse.

Gods! Eirik, laying it on a bit heavy, don't you think?
Where are the Skalfings?
Nobleman, up by the east wall! But that was months ago, last I know.

Hadd skulks away with a wave of Eirik's hand, gathering things from his hovel. Disappearing for a while until this blows over, you figure. Your bodyguard steps forward.



Gunnulf, were you wearing green back a the great hall?



Better than an eggplant.

Gunnulf goes off to look at more stalls.

Eirik, that man of yours seemed unreliable at best.
A blind dog wouldn't trust Hadd, but he used to be Skalfing. If they're licking their wounds, they've probably gone to the old haunts, not new ones.
Nobleman is a mead hall?
Best I can tell, the name's ironic. Listen, I know a guy who would love to put a few of these skals in the ground.



What a luxury. C'mon, you've already mopped up worse today.
Just make sure the governor remembers his promise. Double the usual tithe.
I'll remind him.



Still in the linear section! To the Nobleman.



"They ran to a mead house," says Valgard. "I'll be surprised if they can stand up straight right now. Ok, here we go."

Valgard boots the front door open so hard it won't close again without repair. As you under the hall, Eirik is already at he head of the table, his axe drawn. Wide-eyed, drunken SKalfings scramble to find their own weapons, turning tables ad mead steins in the process.




We're up to four heroes for our second battle! From left to right: Valgard, Eirik, Shieldbanger (he doesn't have a name), and Gunnulf. Two humans, two Varl.

Our opposition:



Eight thugs. The gray-shirts have 6 strength and 6 armor, and the beige-shirts have 8 strength and 5 armor, plus a special ability called Run Through. We'll probably see it in action soon.

I can reposition my men inside the blue area, but since I have no archers and this is going to be a pushover anyway, I don't bother.



Valgard's primary trait is his shield - his passive ability Shield Wall gives him and an adjacent ally +1 Armor when they're adjacent. His active ability, Stonewall, reduces the damage of all incoming attacks for 1 round by 3 points. It means he can't attack that turn, though, so it is of limited use.

Shuffling forward a bit - better to let them come to us.



This game's combat system is very sparse with hidden information. I know exactly how much damage every attack will do, how far every enemy can move, and what order everyone will act in. The only major uncertainty is the decisions my enemies take.



I can select any enemy to see their move range - as with me, the gold area is where they can move if they spend Willpower. Until one of them charges in, I'm moving everyone a single space short of the enemy's move-and-attack range.

The blue banner on the left is Eirik's stats. Not as strong as the varl, but he has less trouble maneuvering - his passive ability, Light Step, lets him move through spaces occupied by allies. His active ability, Rally, spends 1 Willpower to grant 2 Willpower to an ally.

Note that his Willpower is 7/5 - above the maximum. That's true for all of us, because our caravan's morale is fantastic.



Those two extra points of will are very handy. As a result, I don't feel any reservations about using one to push Shieldbanger into attack range of the thug who just charged in.



This is the most common tactical question in the game - Armor or Strength?



In this case, the answer is obvious. Their armor is so weak already that Shieldbanger can slam out 4 damage - not only will that kill them in two hits, but the first hit will drop them to 4 Strength, which isn't enough to do more than scratch any of us.



Gunnulf's stats, strangely, have changed completely since the tutorial. Most notable is the lack of gold area around his move space: He has no Exertion, so he can only spend his will on using Tempest.

Gunnulf advances, the thugs keep stumbling around each other while we remain out of reach.



This actually takes some consideration! I could rush in for the attack right now, but it would cost 2 will, and I'd risk Valgard getting mobbed. It might still be worth it, but...



What makes me ultimately reconsider is the fact that all of these thugs have Shield Wall - in that cluster, the one in the middle is at +6 Armor and the others are all at +2. I'm going to lurk outside of their attack range and wait for them to break up and come for me.



It pays off! The enemy still hasn't gotten a single attack off against me, and now Eirik is in range to punish the advance.



Eirik's Strength isn't very impressive, but he has 2 Exertion, so I can still do a full 4 damage here. 3 probably would've been fine, but eh.



The situation in this fight has changed as well! Shieldbanger was going to kill this guy in 2 hits, but an ally moved into range, and now they're giving each other Shield Wall bonuses. 2 extra Armor means that I can only take out 2 of his 4 remaining Strength, and since Shieldbanger only has 1 Exertion, he can't force the issue.

However, the turn roster shows me two important details: Neither of those two are acting next, and Gunnulf is coming up. So, a plan is formed.



Step 1: Shieldbanger moves out of the way and softens the thug up a bit.



Bleagh, that was crappy framing. Oh, well.

So that's Run Through. He charges through the enemy, inflicting 2 Armor damage, then turns around and does a Strength attack. This guy is just a feeble grunt, but in the right hands, it is seriously one of the best abilities in the game.



And here's step 2. When you have two adjacent enemies, and Gunnulf is near them, Tempest is the answer.



With the extra point of damage from Heavy Impact, this is nearly a double KO. The weaker thug dies, and the stronger is left with 2 Strength.

Note the light that just lit up on the horn at the top of the UI. Every time I kill an enemy, one of those five lights fills up. At any time, I can blow the horn to grant 1 Will to the person whose turn it is.

I'd like to take a moment to outline how awesomely complicated this game makes the simple strategical minigame of who to attack and how. First, I have to choose between strength and armor - the former is the only way to victory, and a single Strength hit reduces the damage dealt by the target for the rest of the battle, but a single Armor hit increases the damage they take from every attack of the rest of the battle, so you have to judge how low you want to bring each enemy's Armor before going for the kill. Then on top of that, there's the actual, legitimate question of whether to finish off a weakened foe or injure a healthy one. Once an enemy's Strength is low enough, they can barely hurt you at all, so leaving them alive doesn't seem like a huge crisis. On the other hand, they can still do full damage on Armor attacks. On the other hand, because of how turn order works, every slain weak enemy means more actions for their stronger allies. On the other hand, killing an enemy can give you the Willpower you need to survive elsewhere.

It's wonderful.



One of the thugs from the back gets in a hit on Gunnulf in retaliation! I'd be worried, but Gunnulf's Strength is an insane 15 - even after both of those hits, he does as much damage as my Shieldbanger.



In this case, the thing to do is to keep an eye on the turn order. This thug was acting next, and still has 8 Strength, so that needs dealing with.



Good thing, too - that Run Through would've done 5 damage to Gunnulf if I hadn't weakened him just now. The enemy is focusing on my heavy hitter, whose Armor is getting very low.



This move from Eirik serves two purposes. First, getting that Strength down from 8 before he can attack. Second, blocking his movement - now he can only reach the two humans, who both have 10+ Armor. Unfortunately, Eirik's subpar Strength and the enemy's Shield Wall means that even with full will usage, it's only 3 damage.



Did I mention that Run Through can hit multiple people? It goes forward 3 spaces, and the 2 spaces in the middle are both subject to attack. So, 1 varl or 2 humans. Seriously an absurdly good ability.



And here is one of the rare pieces of RNG in the game. If you Strength attack someone whose Armor matches or Exceeds your Strength, the attack will do 1 damage, but there's a random chance it will be deflected, doing no damage instead.



Looking around the map, this is the only guy with more than 6 Strength left, so let's fix that.



Gunnulf is in a bad place here. From ruthless enemy swarming, he's down to 3 Armor and 6 Strength - barely enough to damage his enemies. Also, because of the enemy positioning, he can't actually move from that spot.



Hell with it - he's gonna get a kill before he goes down.



And a level up! I'll talk more about how that works later, but kills are experience. Gunnulf eats another hit on the enemy turn, dropping him to 4 Strength.



This move with Valgar serves two purposes. First, killing off another thug...



...and second, establishing a Shield Wall with Gunnulf. 1 extra Armor doesn't seem like much, but it moves him from taking 2 damage to 1 damage here, effectively doubling his life expectancy.



Another kill, but...



Gunnulf had 4 Armor and 3 Strength left. The thug had 6 Strength and 1 Exertion. Putting a point of will into his attack was just barely enough to drop Gunnulf.

Units falling in battle has consequences reaching beyond the battle itself. More on that when it becomes relevant.



The two enemies on the left are the only real threats on the map at this point - both are at full Armor and Strength. Still, I'm going after this straggler for a reason.



If Shieldbanger has gone in close, the thugs could have stood their ground and hit back. Because I remained at a distance, he had to move to attack anyone, breaking up his Shield Wall.



And once he's out of his Shield Wall, Valgar kills him in one hit.



From here on out, it's pretty much wrap up. Eirik gets the kill and promotes, beginning Pillage. Valgar finishes off the last one.



Victory is mine!



Eirik is looking out the hall's windows onto the bay. A fleet of longships approach with sails of bold reds and blues.

One banner I know well. Vognir. Next for varl kingship last we spoke. The other flag? Looks important.
Yeah, important guests. See what I deal with all day long?
Ah, things make a little more sense. You hoped I'd have a stake in saying "everything's fine here" when the royal guests arrived.
Not me. The governor. Now I have to make are there are no rotting bodies or pools of entrails still in the great hall before they come by.



If you happened to stall our guests down on the docks I wouldn't object.
Maybe I will.

Eirik and Valgard hustle from the mead house. To his credit, Eirik tosses the barkeep a spar of silver for the mess. You give an apologetic shrug, and go to greet the new arrivals down at the docks.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




BGM: We Will Not Be Forgotten

So, let's visit the docks, then.



A familiar varl steps onto the docks. In your mind you recall a much younger version trampling the halls of Grofheim, abundant in purpose.



Comes with being old. And, if there is Vognir, there must be Hakon.



Still bleeding tributes from the poor and stupid, old yox? At what age do you lose a sense of shame?
Jorundr demands it. I'll take that over lingering to death in Grofheim. Speaking of, I had no sense that you were so far from home.
Just returned from Arberrang, in fact.
And glad for it.

Hakon motions to the other ships in the bay, sails still fluttering. Golden wolf head emblazoned on red. The king of men, or someone on his behalf.

The king's whelp.
The king's son, Ludin. Don't you know, scrivener? We visit his capital, he visits ours. It's how you make alliances these days.
It's a miserable waste of time.
Yes, Hakon has it. I'd almost forgotten. It's a good thing you're around, Hakon.
Then you're going to Grofheim? I have the distinct feeling I've finished my business in Strand and was heading there myself. We should caravan.
We should. Give it a day. In better circumstances I'd drink a week away, but, ah... let's just be done. Find me tomorrow at the gates.
What he's trying to say is the prince is a delight to behold.
Where is Mogr? Hakon, have him find a place to put up the warriors. I'm heading up to meet the governor.

A host of giants depart in his wake. You recognize a few, others are strangers to you.

Guess I'm off to find Mogr. See you in the morning, scrivener.
I'll be along.

The young prince of men ambles from his ship. He brushes off his tunic, scanning the beach with low eyelids. Ludin looks for all the world the sort of boy who grew up pulling the legs from spiders. The long road back to Grofheim should be more interesting than most years, you think.



On the other hand, if you're going to join Vognir's caravan tomorrow, it might not hurt to share a drink with Hakon, or introduce yourself to the prince they spoke so highly of.



For the first time, we are granted options! Before heading on to the Great Hall, I can optionally talk to Hakon or Ludin. I will hit up the former first.



You find Hakon in a mead house surrounded by other varl. Strand is no stranger to varl but rarely sees this many. Hakon waves you over.

Went straight for a flagon?
Vognir's the one who agreed to pass up a drink. I wasn't invited to the governor's hall anyway.
You already missed the massacre. Every year I make the rounds collecting taxes. Every year it's the human settlements that give me trouble.
No surprise. What this time?
When I got here the great hall was already full of bodies. We added a few more.
Hah... humans. I guess if I only lived as long as a yox fart I might be desperate to make something of myself, too.
It's not too late to start trying, Hakon.

Hakon lets slip a low chuckle. Any varl could recount his deeds, known as he is for cutting through dredge at Vognir's side in the second war, and regularly since then.

Down here I'm a glorified bodyguard. You might have a point. Just another reason to get back to Grofheim.
Soon enough, I imagine.

You drink until the mead house becomes overbearing, then step back into the cool air outside.



Okay, I can only put off talking to the prince for so long.



You find the prince at an inn. Guards blanket the building, including a sharp-eyed varl who must be working for Ludin. A woman in red eventually waves you over and stands nearby, arms crossed.

Greetings, Prince Ludin.



Not exactly. I've known Vognir a long time. I'll be joining you back to Grofheim, with my guards.

Ludin looks up for the first time. The woman doesn't react.

Why?
I work for the king, carrying tithes to the capital. We crossed by chance.
Oh, a tax collector. Fine company.



A varl historian? Aha. Don't you already know? Your king and mine both have been practically trumpeting it throughout the cities.
I've been on the road a while, I'm afraid.

Ludin takes a deep sigh. Whether tired or ungracious you aren't certain. Maybe both.

A formality, mostly. Vognir came to our capital in Arberrang and now we go to the varl's capital in Grofheim, to cement this grant alliance for the "next age" of men and varl.
You sound unconvinced.
There's no need for it. And it's so damned cold up here.

You get the sense he's struggling not to complain outright. You take the opportunity to excuse yourself.



And with no further distractions, we hit the Great Hall in the morning.



+20 Renown

Your guards take the treasure wagon down to the gates. Vognir is already here. A while later Ludin and his men appear, groggy and disheveled.



You follow Mogr and join the others.

Usually the smaller doors set into the gates would be enough to enter or leave the city, but the town guards have been told to push them open entirely. They mutter things under their breath that are best not heard. Perhaps the governor expected you to draw a crowd, but there's nothing of the sort; just frustrated, tired people. It summarizes Strand well as a while, you think.




Now that we're on the road, let's talk about all those numbers!

The big one at the center is the number of days since the story began. As time passes, the ring around it fills, one full circle representing a day (or an equivalent period of time - there's no day and night with the sun frozen in the sky).

The red banner on the top is our Renown, which can be used to get supplies or upgrade units. The gold banner is Supplies, measured in days - it will go up and down as people join or leave our caravan, and drops by one at the start of each new day. We do not want it to reach zero.

The numbers on the left are the size of our caravan. Clansmen are human non-combatants, Fighters are human warriors, Varl are varl. The face to the right of these numbers is the caravan's morale - currently Great.



This caravan is very well-off. Most everyone in it can fight, spirits are high, and we have food to spare. No difficult tradeoffs involved yet.

At the end of day 2:





"Thanks for the speech," slurs Vognir...



Thanks to Mogr. I thought the damned governor would never shut up. Did he give you the history of his entire family?
He tried. Then he asked me to clean up his mess. for your benefit, turns out!
I'd have given the job to you, too. Gods, there's no joy in politics.
Speaking off, what happens after this business with Ludin?
Hopefully the boy goes back to Arberang. On his own. And I... can take out some frustration on dredge or something.
Starting to sound like Hakon. You don't like the life of a diplomat?
Haha! Don't you miss the fight, Ubin?

You down your mead instead of replying. Vognir slouches and shakes his head.

There's no great joy in killing dredge. But this... pretty sure this nonsense is some scheme between the two kings to force some kind of lineage. Used to be, warriors would follow you for what you'd done.
Isn't that why they follow you now?
Is it? Or is it because I'm the next in line? These lines are getting muddy, old varl.
They've always been muddy, Vognir.

Vognir stares into he campfire, lost in thought. You leave him to it.

JamieTheD
Nov 4, 2011

LPer, Reviewer, Mad Welshman

(Yes, that's a self portrait)

I'm actually a little shocked nobody's replied after last update, this has been pretty well presented thus far! Then again, it's been a slow week, it seems. In any case, I'm guessing that the "so far" in the latest update means we're going to have to make terrible and momentous decisions later on? If so, interesting, it seems a pretty grim (IE - Very scandinavian) game so far!

Shadow gamer
Jul 24, 2008

I PASSED UP A BARGAIN

Somehow I missed this LP until now.

This game is beautiful, heartbreaking and very Norse. It truly is amazing and everyone should buy it.

TravelLog
Jul 22, 2013

He's a mean one, Mr. Roy.


Heard good things about this game. Interested to see how it moves forward. Just how intense is the difficulty curve? Is this Thracia level bullshit?

KnoxZone
Jan 26, 2007

If I die before I Wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.


I really enjoyed this game and will be looking forward to seeing you play it.

RickVoid
Oct 21, 2010


This is damned fascinating, and I've loved every minute reading it. I just haven't said much because I'm not sure what I can contribute and I'm just eagerly awaiting the next update.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


I swore not to play this game until I turn in my final draft of my master's thesis. This LP is making me look forward to finishing and jumping into this more than ever.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?


TravelLog posted:

Heard good things about this game. Interested to see how it moves forward. Just how intense is the difficulty curve? Is this Thracia level bullshit?

I haven't played Thracia, but I would rank this game as generally easier than the harder end of Fire Emblem.

Captain Bravo
Feb 16, 2011

An Emergency Shitpost
has been deployed...

...but experts warn it is
just a drop in the ocean.

Wow. This is... this is just miles ahead of the Beta. Like night and day.

You mentioned that you would detail what happens when somebody dies in combat, is that going to be in the next update?

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?


Captain Bravo posted:

Wow. This is... this is just miles ahead of the Beta. Like night and day.

You mentioned that you would detail what happens when somebody dies in combat, is that going to be in the next update?

Yup!

jymbojones
Jul 4, 2010


Looking forward to any and all future updates. I've actually owned this game for about 2 months now, but I've yet to play (or even install) it because I keep playing other poo poo with my very limited free time.

Vikings are rad as hell.

Onean
Feb 11, 2010


JamieTheD posted:

I'm actually a little shocked nobody's replied after last update, this has been pretty well presented thus far! Then again, it's been a slow week, it seems. In any case, I'm guessing that the "so far" in the latest update means we're going to have to make terrible and momentous decisions later on? If so, interesting, it seems a pretty grim (IE - Very scandinavian) game so far!

Things are fairly normal in the world at the moment, aside from the sun being stuck in the sky. poo poo hasn't hit the fan yet, and when it does is when things really start rolling.

Captain Bravo posted:

Wow. This is... this is just miles ahead of the Beta. Like night and day.

You mentioned that you would detail what happens when somebody dies in combat, is that going to be in the next update?

If you have the time, I'd highly recommend playing through the fully released game. The beta was, like you mentioned, just the multiplayer stuff. This is the actual game as they meant it to be, and it's worth forgetting about any disappointment the beta left you with.

Getsuya
Oct 2, 2013


This is such a great read I just want to see where it goes. I can barely beat easy tactics games without grinding like mad to kill the challenge, so I'm definitely grateful someone is LPing this so I don't have to beat my brains out against it.

John Charity Spring
Nov 3, 2009

ACTIVATE THE QUEEN



I loved this game to bits and this LP is a very good presentation of it. Linking the background music is a particularly nice touch, since the music is of universally high quality (and the track titles are very evocative).

People shouldn't worry about difficulty. I don't think the game is that hard, really, although it always feels like you're on the cusp of disaster.

bewilderment
Nov 22, 2007
man what





On the one hand, I'd love it if you'd get the 'Beat the Odds' achievement (if this is a spoiler, let me know, but it's not a 'hidden' achievement). On the other hand, getting it requires either a lot of luck, or doing things you wouldn't necessarily ordinarily do.

Eirik's an interesting character to use in combat, since he's theoretically a 'support' character. He's not as beefy or tough as the varl. On the other hand, his fantastic passive ability means that he's great at running around to finish people off and promoting off of that, and he can be built to pack a decent punch.

Keldulas
Mar 18, 2009


Gunnulf dying in that fight actually showcases something that can be a recurring trend. His combination of high strength and low armor with his aoe ability means that it's tempting to slice multiple people, but he's insanely vulnerable to being swarmed. Overall, he's pretty hazardous to use for that reason, although fun.

Banner Saga is pretty fantastic though, the choice element is handled quite well throughout.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?


e: never mind.

To put some actual content here, I just noticed that in the second battle, Ubin is standing politely on the sidelines watching for the whole scene:


He's not a fighter, but that doesn't mean he's opposed to violence.

Quinn2win fucked around with this message at 13:22 on Apr 22, 2014

Testekill
Nov 1, 2012

I demand to be taken seriously





Man oh man, Banner Saga is just a stunning game to look at.

ForeverBWFC
Oct 19, 2011

Oh, the lads! You should've seen 'em running!
Ask 'em why and they reply the Bolton Boys are coming! All the lads and lasses, smiles upon their faces,

WALKING DOWN THE MANNY ROAD, TO SEE THE BURNDEN ACES!


Had this game on my wishlist for a while, this LP looks awesomely well put-together, looking forward to seeing more!

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?






Vognir releases a caged yawn, and receives a hard-eyed stare in return.

How long to Grofheim?
Haah. We're only two days out of Strand, you know. Come, I'll show you on a map.



The world map! Let's take a look at the route of our journey.



This is the progress we've made since we left Strand. Soon, we will arrive at Vedrfell, a dismal city populated mostly by people who were cast out of Strand. From there, it's north past the Hanged Man to Schlid, a fort that used to be at the forefront of the war against the dredge, before they were pushed far to the north.



From Schlid, it's a long march east, between the Varslmarch and the Brattabreck Peaks, before we finally arrive at the varl capital of Grofheim.

There's a lot of great detail on this map that I'll go over later.



You should have drank last night, Ludin.
Why not take the ships to Skrymirstead? What's the point of marching?
The Silverstone bay is called that for a reason. It stays covered in ice all year, it would tear up the longships.
Too bad, though. We could have shown you all the wonders of Skrymirstead.
A half-sunken city crawling with dredge, prince. Dredge and glaciers. You like glaciers?

Ludin exhales through the nose a poor diguise for his contempt. He turns and bats aside the tent flaps as he goes, barking at his company in the distance.

Don't poke the anthill, Vognir. He seems no happier to be here than you.
Spend a few more days with the boy, old friend. You'll be looking for a tall cliff to hop off, too. Ludin's got a shorter wick than Hakon.
Thanks, Vognir. Let's get moving. Another half-day to Vedrfell if we're lucky.



This is what will replace the town view for much of the game: Camp. From here, we can train in mock battles, upgrade heroes, rest, or get back on the road.

Mock battles I will ignore, because they are basically useless. Resting wastes a day (and a day of supplies) in exchange for improving morale - I don't need to do that right now because our morale is at the highest level. So, let's check out the hero tent!



Remember how Gunnulf went down in our most recent battle? Well, here's the cost of it. If someone drops to 0 Strength during battle, they get Injured, and stay so for a number of days after the fight. Injured heroes can still be sent into battle, but their starting Strength is reduced. The amount that Strength drops and the duration of the injury vary based on factors I totally don't remember, but I'll update later if I figure it out.

For now, let's look at what we've got to work with.



Gunnulf is the only living varl from the group of bodyguards Ubin had when he first became the royal tax collector. As a Warhawk, he has massive Strength and the ability to hit multiple enemies with a single swing of his greatsword.

The number at the bottom of the screen is his kill count - it's reached 2, so I can Promote him if I want. I'll get back to that in a minute.



Ludin is the prince of the kingdom of men, and the only human among my heroes at the moment. While he lacks the great strength of his varl kin, his spear lets him attack at range and impale enemies, causing them to slowly bleed out over time.



Hakon is the muscle behind Vognir's leadership, a legendary war hero with a long history of victories. His axe can strike so hard that enemies near his target are caught up in the impact.



Mogr is the commander of Vognir's personal varl army. As a Shieldmaster, his huge Armor stat makes him nigh-impossible to kill, and he can strike back with Armor damage against every attack that comes his way.



Promoting a hero requires that they have enough kills for their next rank (2, in this case), and also requires spending Renown - 5 times their current Rank. Gunnulf is my only active hero with any kills, so let's make him a bit stronger.



Three things can happen upon Promotion. First, every rank up means 2 points to distribute among any stats other than Ability Rank. Second, at Ranks 3 and 5 (or thereabouts), Ability Rank automatically goes up, making their active ability more powerful - in Gunnulf's case, his Tempest becomes able to hit 3, then 4 enemies at once. Third, they gain the ability to equip more powerful items.

I have a hard and fast rule regarding point allocation that has never let me down: Everybody gets 2 Exertion and 2 Break. Those are the minimum requirements to function as a proper hero in my eyes. Gunnulf still isn't there, but a point into each brings him close.

There is one exception to this rule, but he won't be showing up for a long time.



That's all we can do for now, so time to hit the road once again. We're almost to Vedrfell, at any rate.





Welcome to Vedrfell! It's a shithole.



What?
Couple days back, sent word to Strand about the cattle. Didn't expect an army!

He looks pleased with himself, until it sinks in that you aren't here on his behalf.

Where have you cattle gone?
Wouldn't know. My boys seen men up the hills carrying them away. Don't know many men who can hoist a whole cow by himself.
Skalfings out here, maybe? Could they have varl working for them?
Not from what the governor told me. I'm going to take a look around and get camp set up.

The peasant spits, his eyes anxiously darting about as the caravan sets up tents.

We'll be here no more than a day. There's silver for any food you've got.
For hundreds of varl? Are you serious?
Whatever you're willing to sell.
You thinking of squatting? Not enough room for a couple hunters here, forget hundreds of...



It's faint. Sounds like fighting and... something else. Hakon takes off at a run.



Ludin is getting himself into some trouble!

Starting off with a tutorial about setting waypoints - by clicking multiple times, I can dictate the specific route a unit takes to its destination. Not useful most of the time.



You've heard people talking about the dredge, and here they are. Ludin's attack bounces harmlessly off of the Brute's 15 Armor.

Against human thugs, I've been able to get away with just doing Strength attacks. That's about to change.



And in one blow, Ludin goes down. In case it was obvious, this was a bit of a scripted event.



But then the varl arrive! Now it's three on three, so let's see what we're up against.



Dredge Grunts, the smaller enemies, are only marginally more dangerous than thugs, with no particular special abilities. Their passive, Splinter, they share with all dredge, and I'll touch on it when it becomes relevant.

The Brute is far more dangerous - in addition to its massive 15 Armor and 16 Strength, it can summon more allies to the battle. Taking the Brute down is my top priority.



While I do need to get that Strength reduced before he starts carving chunks out of my army, attacking him right away is useless. None of my attacks will do meaningful damage through that armor.

Mogr and the two Grunts just advance, none of them fast enough to close distance with the other team.



I'd be tempted to break Armor again here, but the Brute's turn is next, and if I leave him at 16 Strength, he could hit Gunnulf back for 9 Strength damage, nearly taking him out in one shot. Fortunately, Gunnulf's massive Strength is enough to break through that thick Armor for 5 damage.



Honestly, the game is still largely playing nice at this point. With that last hit Gunnulf got it, none of the enemies have above 11 Strength - barely enough to scratch Hakon or Mogr before wearing their Armor down.



For some reason, I don't get my team's morale bonus for this fight. These two Armor hits burned through all of Hakon's will.



Just like last time, the enemy sees Gunnulf as the biggest threat and tries to swarm him down. I've got to get that guy some Armor.



Instead of attacking, I use Mogr's special ability, Bring the Pain! It does Break damage to one enemy's Armor, but that's not all...



Mogr's passive, Return the Favor, inflicts 1 Armor damage every time an enemy attacks him. For one full turn after using Bring the Pain, that's increased to 2!



Gunnulf's Strength is getting low, but thanks to the damage I've done to the Brute's Armor, he can still bring some decent hurt against it.



THIS is potentially dangerous. With its Strength reduced, the Brute isn't a real threat, but it still has its active ability, Tremble. If the Brute is still alive by the time its turn comes back up, a new Grunt will arrive on the battlefield.

However, it's worth noting that it only has 5 Armor and 7 Strength left, and Hakon has 14 Strength.



Thank you for cluttering up my screencaps, tutorials!

The Brute is down. the right Grunt carves another chunk out of Gunnulf.





Mogr continues to be unkillable.



That 70% there is the chance that Gunnulf would be Deflected if he tried a Strength attack here. I'd be worried about him suffering even more injuries, but mathwise, there's not a huge danger of it. The Grunt has 10 Strength and 1 Willpower. Gunnulf has 7 Armor and 5 Strength. Even if it goes all out, it can't quite drop him this turn.

While he won't be killing anything anytime soon, Armor attacks are unmodified by reduced Strength, so Gunnulf can still carve a good 3 Armor off.



1 strength left!



9 damage - one short of a kill, and Hakon's out of Willpower.

But wait! I got a star for my horn for killing that Brute! I can give anyone 1 point of will with it!



Grunt down. Hakon rank up. Pillage on.



Fun fact I picked up on while having to redo this fight due to an accidental quit: The AI is fully deterministic. It will always react the same way to the same situation.



Battle over.



I was trying... finding a... trying to get a shot in between the plates.
You never see a dredge before, boy? What kind of idiot... break their armor first!
Where did they come from?
We didn't even see them... they were just... there.

Hakon goes to where Vognir lies face down. The future varl king lies motionless, aside from a spreading pool of blood.



End of Chapter One

Deadmeat5150
Nov 21, 2005

OLD MAN YELLS AT CLAN


Welp... time to run away.

Coolguye
Jul 6, 2011

Required by his programming!


What battle difficulty are you playing on? I was sort of surprised when I saw Gunnulf was only injured for a day or two after going down in the mead hall. I would've expected the better part of a week. I play on Hard, though, and I've never quite known how much longer dudes are out for when they go down on that difficulty.

It's interesting to see other modes of play, though. I rarely bother with upgrading Armor Break unless the character has decent potential for it (like, maxing out at 4), and Gunnulf doesn't begin to qualify on that front. I'm much more a fan of upping Armor and Strength; high Strength means you only need one or two good armor breaks to get in a decent amount of damage, and high Armor means that one solid hit makes an enemy useless. It often requires some finagling to get enemies to walk into your attack range so you get the first hits in, but on Hard that's served me very well.

Exertion rules, though, no arguments there. Never Not Level Exertion, though I tend to do that after getting Armor up to 10-ish.

Coolguye fucked around with this message at 03:11 on Apr 25, 2014

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?


I'm playing on Normal! also there's a 2-day gap between the first battles and this one - injury time is usually in the vicinity of 3 days.

And it's entirely possible that Str/Arm is a better bet, but I hate people not being able to do decent damage to Armor.

Coolguye
Jul 6, 2011

Required by his programming!


If there were only one way to build your troops, I'd rag on this game for having lovely balance, so you do what you do.

Also, 3 days? Jeez. I guess Hard just doubles injury times or something, because if I let Gunnulf go down in the mead hall he's sometimes still hurt by the next fight. Fortunately, none of the other characters are in the next fight, so if someone must go down, it can be Anyone But Gunnulf (tm).

Beefeater1980
Sep 12, 2008

My God, it's full of Horatios!





I love this game. Also, exertion is the most critical stat in the game and must always be levelled.

ninjaiguana
Aug 1, 2009

Holy shit! I have a tail?!


Banner Saga is an amazing game. I've completed it twice, first on Normal as a standard playthrough, and then again on Easy to farm some of the trickier achievements (though I got Beat the Odds blind on my Normal run, which felt pretty good!). The difference between the two is night and day - enemies on Easy have vastly reduced stats. I'd say for anyone thinking of trying out Banner Saga, always try it on Normal first, because if you try it on Easy, you won't learn proper tactics, and Normal will wreck your poo poo.

My main issue with Banner Saga is that for best results, you kind of want to have played the game before. Your unit roster can change around, and quite a few of the available units can be lost forever. This means it helps to know what you intend your core roster to be from the get-go, so that you can funnel kills to those individuals whenever possible so that they can rank up. It also means that if you burn your Renown upgrading absolutely everyone, you'll end up with a bunch of kind-of-ok dudes at the end (and may have lost some people you spent Renown on, drat it!), and no real shitkickers. So it's a bit of a trap. This got really evident when I replayed on Easy and had a final party of max-ranked dudes by the end. On my first blind Normal run, I think I had most of my main party at 1 off max rank, and maybe one straggler at 2 ranks down.

ninjaiguana fucked around with this message at 07:09 on Apr 25, 2014

Xander77
Apr 6, 2009

Fuck it then. For another pit sandwich and some 'tater salad, I'll post a few more.




Count me as another viewer who has the game on his wishlist (I'm kinda torn as to whether I should keep reading or wait until the game goes on sale so I can play it myself).

May I recommend you proofread a bit more, including the last few updates?

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Endorph
Jul 22, 2009


The writing is really good, though it has problems (typos and awkward writing that make me think maybe it wasn't written by a native english speaker.)

90% of the gameplay is really fun and gets across the setting really well.

The art is gorgeous.

The actual combat is loving horrendous.

Banner Saga was almost a perfect game.

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