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FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander


The Banner Saga Is a trilogy of viking-themed fantasy tactical RPGs developed by Stoic Studios. Stoic itself has no small number of Bioware (Mass Effect, KotOR, etc.) castaways. I know at least one of them has/had an account on here, so I'm hoping they pop in here and there to offer commentary.

The first game was released in 2014 after an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign. The second was not Kickstartered and came out a couple years later. And the finale, The Banner Saga 3, came out at the end of July--another Kickstarter.

I've played the trilogy to completion. It is heartbreakingly beautiful and I love it.

The best parts of The Banner Saga are the artwork, story, characters, and music. It looks like an old Disney movie with hand-drawn art. The world is well-crafted, and while it's fantasy vikingland the internal rules of the setting make sense. Stick that great artwork with some awesome humor, memorable and sympathetic characters, and a great soundtrack, and you have yourself the makings of a classic.

Manage to do all of that and have savefiles that import from BS1-->BS2-->BS3 with choices and consequences that actually matter, and it's even more impressive.

It's a really beautiful game. With one significant flaw:

The combat kind of sucks.

If you're pickier than I am, "kind of" can justifiably be expressed as "really". Final Fantasy Tactics, this ain't. We'll get into how combat works once the LP starts, but it's...not particularly intuitive, and while the later games in the series make it a bit better, it's tough to polish such a flawed system. It's unquestionably the worst part of the series, the only blemish on what's otherwise a masterpiece.

For me, it's not enough to make the series anything less than spectacular. But I know for others, the combat was such a turn-off that they just couldn't finish.

Thus, I'm hoping that this LP gives everyone the best parts of the series without having to directly deal with the combat.

This'll be a screenshot LP. I might link to videos here and there from someone else's, if I can find key moments on YouTube or something. But for the most part, you should get to see the beautiful artwork of this game and not watch videos where most of the time would be spent in not-all-that-interesting combat.

Will update at least 2 times per week. Perhaps more once my obligations as The Other Commish of the Baseball Mogul Super League thread come to a close this season (about 3 weeks from now).

We're going to play the entire series.

Some ground rules:
1.) NO SPOILERS. None. No hints at what'll come. Keep your mouth shut if you already know.
2.) There's already been an LP of The Banner Saga (just the first game) on here years ago; it's actually how I discovered the series. I will be making the opposite decision from what that LP did in the two most important moments.
3.) We can put other decisions to a vote. If it's something where a decision is only flavor text, I'll go ahead and move things forward myself, though. Not everything is gonna be voted on, in other words.
4.) We'll be playing the Saga on hard. I want to unlock a few achievements while I'm at it, and it's one of the few ways to keep combat interesting for me. (By The Banner Saga 2 and 3 I'm expecting to've broken the difficulty over my knee regardless).
5.) No going back and changing things. If we don't like the outcome of a voted-on decision, too bad. We keep going and live with the consequences. If I manage to gently caress up combat badly enough that someone dies or people start to starve because I need to rest from injuries, also too bad. The only time I'll go back and replay something is if I get a hard game over as an outcome (there are VERY few must-win battles in this game; the final boss is the only one I'm remotely worried about falling against because it's extreme bullshit and I hate it.)
6.) Artwork, commentary, whatever else is always welcome--provided it's after a decision point. I'm fine if someone wants to come in and say "had we taken this other decision, here's what would've happened!" I'm not[ fine if someone comes by and says "here's what the 3 decisions we're voting on lead to."
7.) To a limited extent, we can vote on what party members we use in battle. I say "to a limited extent" because given that I'm playing the campaign on Hard, and that the final boss is EXTREME bullshit, there are certain characters I'll insist on keeping around as they're key to my strategy. So, uh...do try not to get them killed please!

I don't know The Banner Saga 2 and 3 nearly as well as 1. I'm fully expecting some out-of-combat deaths as a result.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Saga 1
Prologue
P-1: Prologue
Chapter 1: Only the Sun Has Stopped
1-1: A Giant Problem
Chapter 2: Cut with Keen-Edged Sword
2-1: We're From a Small Town in the Middle of the Woods
2-2: I Have to Axe You a Question
2-3: The Road Not Taken
Chapter 3: Little Did They Sleep
3-1: You're the Worst Goddamned Warleader
3-2: You're Still the Worst Goddamned Warleader
Chapter 4: Lest They Not Come Home
4-1: The Long Road to Einartoft
4-2 (and also early chapter 5): Lending a Helping Hand
Chapter 5: Weary the Weight of the Sun
5-1: Umbrage: -1 ARM, +5 STR
Chapter 6: Of Our Bones, the Hills
6-1: Yngvar
6-2: Sigrholm
Chapter 7: The Slayer and the Slain
7-1: To the End
7-2: The Slayer and the Slain


Saga 2
Chapter 8: From Their Homes, All Must Flee
8-1: I'm on a Boat
8-2: You Can't Use Overwatch on Geography
Chapter 9: Cast the Bone Into the Air
9-1: Quoth the Raven, "Shut Up."
Chapter 10: To Speak in All Tongues
10-1: Alette Took a Really Long Time to Decide, OK?
10-2: Myths Become Real
10-3: Lundar
Chapter 11: Where a Foe May Lurk
11-1: Black Blood of the Earth, Part 1
11-2: Black Blood of the Earth, Part 2
Chapter 12: The Destined Day Shall Come
12-1: Our Steps to the Night
Chapter 13: The Fetters Shall Burst
13-1: Prelude to a Bloodbath
13-2: The Death March
Chapter 14: Brothers Fight and Kinship Stain
14-1: King of the Ashes
Chapter 15: In Fear Quake All
15-1: In Fear Quake All



Saga 3
Chapter 16: The True Hero Comes Reluctantly
16-1: The True Hero Comes Reluctantly
16-2: An Unstable Peace
Chapter 17: Raising High Their Shining Light
17-1: Into Darkness
Chapter 18: Alas, the Sea is Still Deep and Wide
18-1: Ruin Beyond the Wall
18-2: The Center Cannot Hold
18-3: The Contest
Chapter 19: The Hounds Are a-Hungered
19-1: Destroyer
19-2: The Unkindness of Ravens
Chapter 20: We Live as We Will Live
20-1: The Dredge
20-2: The Skogr Banner
Chapter 21: With a Mighty Grief that was Ours and Theirs
21-1: The Inner Earth
21-2: End of the Line
21-3: Juno and Eyvind
21-4: The Last Stand of Arberrang
Chapter 22: Only We Few Remember It Now
22-1: The End
22-2: Fate, Chosen

ERRATA
Alternate Endings
Coda 1: The Alfrun Ending
Coda 2: The Stupid Ending
Coda 3: The Destruction Ending
Coda 4: The Eyvind Ending
Survival Mode
Survival Mode, Part I
Survival Mode, Part II
Coda 5: Ekkill and Onef
Coda 6: Siding with Rugga

FairGame fucked around with this message at 21:13 on Nov 24, 2018

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FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander

Reserved for characters, places, etc.
CHARACTERS, IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

e: editing this out as it's just one giant spoiler depending on where people are if they're not up to date on the thread. And it's kind of a pain in the rear end to keep up to date anyway.

FairGame fucked around with this message at 02:32 on Oct 14, 2018

Jack2142
Jul 17, 2014

Shitposting in Seattle

Man I was really hoping someone would LP this and was idly thinking of making an attempt after 3 came out last month. But now I don't have too! Because I am bad and probably couldn't have finished them.

I think 2 was the best game of the series so I will be excited when we get to it.

FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander

CHAPTER ONE: ONLY THE SUN HAS STOPPED


The game really means this. This isn't like Mass Effect where at best you receive an email from some dude you saved a game ago. Choice you make have meaningful and lasting consequences. To make matters more complex, most of the consequences don't manifest themselves until well after you made the decision. No save-scumming available for you.

As for the POV switches, we'll get to that when the time comes. (The time will come next update). Fortunately, unlike Game of Thrones, there's not a POV that you will ever particularly hate. Some POVs are worse off in the world than others, but all POVs have interesting characters.


I...I think this splash screen got changed from when I played it. There used to be a line saying "only one thing has stopped: the sun." No matter, we'll get there in a moment. Also, for the purposes of this game:
man = human
giant = varl, a cross between humans and yox (fantasy oxen, essentially). They're big, humanoid, and have big ox-like horns.


Our narrator for the prologue is UBIN, the dude in purple. He's a varl tax collector.




And there's your "the sun has stopped." In the world of The Banner Saga, nightfall hasn't existed for about a week. It's extremely not normal, but everyone is kinda just going about their business.
: We have been warned by stranded travelers about brigands on the path through Ridgehorn, our road home. Our captain seems unconcerned. Perhaps he is as eager as I to be done here. We will rest here this day and inquire further when we speak to the governor.


The tax collectors approach Strand, when suddenly...


A human runs up and shouts something at Ubin. He sounds concerned. Ubin stares up at the town hall...


Inside the town hall, brigands are murdering people. That poor guy bottom center just got cut open.


The brigand leader yells something unpleasant at who is presumably the governor. Things are looking pretty bad for the governor, until...


Ubin and his buddies bash open the doors to the hall, surprising the poo poo out of the brigands. This is more of a fight than they'd counted on.



We now enter our first combat. This is a tutorial, and the game forces you to make certain moves. As such, it's impossible to lose. Even if the game weren't forcing you, it'd be pretty drat hard to lose. It's 4 brigands vs. 2 varl (Ubin's just chillin' out leaning against the pillar. He doesn't take part in combat.)


The tutorial will give us the basics of combat. But I'll do that here myself instead.

Every unit has 5 statistics (seen in the "enemy raider" box in red in the lower left, as well as the unlabeled blue box in the far left. The unlabeled blue box describes the statistics of this generic varl shieldbanger (shieldbanger being the generic class of varl; the class has sub-kits that we'll recruit from later on.)
Armor (the shield icon): Think of this as damage threshold, a la New Vegas. It's a strict reduction on how much damage you take. If an enemy is going to hit you for 5, and you have 4 armor, the enemy only hits you for 1 instead, 5 - 4 = 1. If you have MORE armor than the enemy has attack, the enemy starts incurring a malus to hit at 10% per difference. So if you have 10 armor and a 6 strength enemy tries to hit you, he's going to take a -40% malus to hit. And if he does hit, he'll only do 1 damage anyway.
In general, heavy hitters tend to have low armor--glass cannons. Tanks tend to have high armor and little strength. There are some skills that bypass armor entirely and directly do strength damage. That's very helpful.
Strength (the fist icon): This is your HP as well as your damage. If it drops to zero, you fall in battle. Not "die," mind you. You just fall and take an injury--meaning you have a temporarily lower strength in subsequent battles until you sleep it off. If a character doesn't have one of the aforementioned "do strength damage anyway" abilities, a character who takes a hit to his strength early on is effectively maimed and pretty useless.
Willpower (the star icon): This is a modifier you can use for your attacks (you can attack armor or strength, by the way). The amount of modifier can be applied via your exertion stat, which we'll get to in a moment. Willpower also powers your abilities. If you have no willpower, all you can do is attack armor or attack strength. Or you can rest and gain back a willpower point. In general, though, if you're spending time resting, you're in deep poo poo because that's a turn where you could've been doing something useful.
Exertion (the chain icon): This is how many willpower points you can use to modify an attack. If ordinarily you can do 5 points of strength damage on an attack, and you want to kill an enemy with 6 points, you can use a point of willpower to modify the attack to do 5+1. Exertion is a set stat. Most every character in the game has either 2 or 3 exertion as their cap. It's hugely important. Movement is also governed by exertion. You can move 1 extra tile per exertion point, provided you have the willpower to actually exert.
Armor Break (the broken shield icon): This is a flat amount of damage you will do to enemy armor. Can be modified by exertion. Units in this game vary between 2 and 4 armor break as their cap. You need a few guys who are good at breaking armor so that your heavy hitters can start loving up the enemy.

The other major thing in combat: you and the enemy take turns, 1 unit for 1 unit. Meaning that if you have 5 units and the enemy has 10, each of your characters takes 2 turns to the enemy's 1. As characters fall, the turn imbalance gets changed.
Because of this, and because of the aforementioned "a low strength enemy is effectively maimed," it often makes a lot of sense to just maim a shitload of enemies but not kill them until you're ready to end the fight completely. If the enemy has only 2 or 3 fully healthy characters because you killed everything else, they can pretty quickly bring down a front-liner.
It's kind of silly. It's also a reason that you can dominate this game with a party of 2-3. We won't be doing that except in a couple battles where party size is mandated.

The "you take turns" portion is ended when one side falls to last man standing. At this point you enter what's known as "PILLAGE!" mode. And everyone gets to move as a team. So if you have 5 standing fighters, all of them move and THEN the enemy gets 1 turn before you get 5 straight turns.
In general, it's not really important. If you reach last man standing, you're going to win. If you ARE last man standing, you're going to lose. (Probably.)


Anyway, the tutorial shows off the varl warrior "warhawk" kit. That's what "Gunnulf" (see the lower left) here is. Warhawks tend to have insanely high strength and lovely armor. They're glass cannons. Weirdly, this iteration of Gunnulf looks different--both in clothes and in stats--than the one we're about to get outside of tutorial. Anyway, his default skill is "tempest," which hits up to 2 enemies adjacent to him. His passive skill is "heavy impact" which causes any enemy adjacent to an enemy taking strength damage get an additional +1 damage. So in this case, he'll tempest through 2 guys to do 6 damage, and then since each is adjacent ot the other, they'll cause their counterpart to take an additional +1 damage.
Warhawks get a shitload of kills. There are VERY few skills in the whole series that can do strength damage to multiple units simultaneously.


Our shieldbanger ends the fight by running through the bandit leader.


The game immediately switches to a cutscene with the governor of Strand.
: Like a rabid wolf, that one. How did it come to this? We fool ourselves 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 been 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.
He wanders over to the door of the Great Hall, looking down at his city.


: 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.


Technically that was the prologue. Now we're officially in chapter 1. No POV switch, though. We continue as Ubin, immediately after the fight in the Great Hall.


We'll see screens like this quite a bit. The early game spoils us with a lot of animated cutscenes. For the most part we get a lot of talking heads. PRETTY talking heads, but talking heads nonetheless.


: Eirik, steward of Strand. I manage the governor's business. Ubin, isn't it?


We have the ability to make dialogue choices. In some cases, they're enormously meaningful. In most cases it's just flavor text. You might learn more about a subject or change someone's disposition for the better (or worse). I'll make the conversation choices when it's not meaningful.
: It is.
: The governor tells me you'll be giving us a hand.
: What did you have in mind?
: 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.


We're taken back out to Strand. Most town screens are like this--a nice hand-drawn picture of the town, with a few areas we can travel directly do. We're still sort of in a tutorial right now, though--all that's available is the market. So we head over.


: Let me handle this.
You meander through rows of open-face houses and eroded stalls. Colored cavases flap on a briny current. One man in particular blanches as you approach.
: Hadd, I'm not in the mood today.
I, uh...I didn't get a picture of the merchant. Let's just go with this.
: For...for what?
: Talking to an idiot. The Skalfing's chieftain bled out about an horu 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.
: I don't talk to...they don't talk to me!


: Eirik, need some help here?
: 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?
You toss a sliver of silver on the table. Both men look at you with surprise. Hadd gestures meekly to a variety of junk from his stall.
: Only thing I'd like is the name of a place.
: Nobleman, up by 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.


: Are we done here?
: Gunnulf were you wearing green back at the great hall?
: No. Just bought 'em while you were walking around, why?
: You look like a frog.
: Better than an eggplant.
Gunnulf goes off to look at more stalls.


: Eirik, that man of your 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 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. I'm going to find him. I'll meet you there.
: Shouldn't we have an approach of some sort?
: 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.

There's not really anything we can do here. We're on rails until we head to the Nobleman.


: That's the spirit! OK, here we go!
Valgard boots the front door open so hard it won't close again without repair. As you enter the hall Eirik is already at the head of a table, his axe drawn. Wide-eyed drunken Skalfings scramble to find their own weapons, turning tables and mead steins in the process.


Now we're in our first combat that we actually could lose. We won't, though my playing sloppy ends up leading to injuries.


You can position your characters (and in subsequent fights, your initial turn order) at the start of most battles. In this battle we've got Valgard, Gunnulf, Eirik, and that generic shieldbanger.

We've seen the 2 varl in action already. The 2 human units are new, though.
Valgard is a raider class, raidmaster kit. That means he gets "shield wall" as his passive--when standing next to an allied unit, that unit AND Valgard get +1 armor. This mean that if 2 raiders are next to one another, they each get +2 armor--1 from themselves, 1 from the ally. If for some reason you have a 2x2 block of raiders, everyone gets +4.

You won't get a 2x2 block of raiders ever.

He also gets the "stone wall" ability, in which he gets a temporary +3 armor resist. The AI doesn't see this, meaning he can run out and tank the poo poo out of a bunch of attacks while your less-protected allies get into position.

It's not as useful as it sounds. There's a character we'll get to shortly that has this skill as well and it's a lot more useful on him since he has access to items that'll force the enemy to attack him.

Eirik is a landsman class, whose passive ability is the ability to move through allied units. Helpful for dodging into and out of trouble. His active ability, "rally" allows him to trade his own willpower to an ally at a 2:1 ratio. Very helpful, though not until higher levels when you can go 6:3 and really move meaningful amounts of willpower.

We're up against a shitload of raider-backbiters (they run through an enemy, dealing armor damage, and then do strength damage. Very dangerous) and generic raiders who don't have an ability. We'll take 2 turns for each of their moves.


I group everyone up. The plan is to deal with the near raiders while the other nerds waste their turns just getting into melee range. It doesn't work particularly well.


Eirik stands back-to-back with Valgard, each getting a +1 armor bonus. But...who cares?


Gunnulf makes the first kill of the fight, splattering a swordsman. But also putting himself too close into harm's way.


This is why the "run through" ability is so dangerous. I thought I had Gunnulf protected by Eirik/Valgard/shieldbanger, but instead the guy just dashed through Valgard AND Gunnulf, shredding Gunnulf's armor and taking down his high strength. Bad move, me.


Things compound themselves as a healty backbiter does significant damage to Gunnulf. He won't be one-shotting anyone anymore.


At this point I figure Gunnulf's gonna go down, so I might as well try and feed some kills to Eirik.


A tempest kills one of the raiders, giving Gunnulf his second kill and making him eligible for promotion.


The enemy AI is coded to prioritize kills over pretty much anything. Gunnulf makes too tempting a target, and he goes down. He'll now need 6 days of rest before he's back in good fighting shape.


My shieldbanger goes down, too. I promise I'm better than this, but I also figured I didn't care too much about taking an injury to a temporary character.


Eirik dashes forward and avenges the shieldbanger, making himself promotion-eligible.


Despite taking two injuries, this fight was never really all that threatening. Eirik finishes things off, hogging kills.


We earn 10 renown for our efforts. Renown is your resource pool that's used for level ups and for trading.


: There they are. Gods be damned, I've got to go wash off this blood.
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 sure there are no rotting bodies or pools of entrails still in the great hall before they come by. Can I ask one more favor?
: What is it?
: 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 toses 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.


Next time: We meet the important guests.

FairGame fucked around with this message at 14:52 on Nov 22, 2018

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016





Oh, hey a full trilogy LP.

I always ended up rocking a full team of the "ignore armor" characters, but I also kinda sucked at these games and that might be the reason why.

Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances

FairGame posted:

It's a really beautiful game. With one significant flaw:

The combat kind of sucks.

You take that back! :colbert: The combat is one of the best parts of this series because it makes you think differently than nearly every other tactical RPG. It lets you use new strategies, like intentionally keeping weak enemies alive in order to waste opponents' turns and targeting enemies based on their position in the turn queue. This game would be way less interesting if it just had standard Final Fantasy Tactics mechanics.

FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander

Enchanted Hat posted:

You take that back! :colbert: The combat is one of the best parts of this series because it makes you think differently than nearly every other tactical RPG. It lets you use new strategies, like intentionally keeping weak enemies alive in order to waste opponents' turns and targeting enemies based on their position in the turn queue. This game would be way less interesting if it just had standard Final Fantasy Tactics mechanics.

Agree to disagree. In general, what this ultimately means is just "try to avoid an annoying injury while the enemy sandbags at the end of combat."

It's a lot like the end of a chess game when you know you're gonna win, but have to figure out how not to gently caress up the checkmate and lose pieces in a sloppy ending.

As such, while I find the end of combat an interesting challenge, I'd just as soon not reach it because I dominated the early combat thanks to maim-not-kill strategies.

FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander

PART II: A Giant Problem
Editor's Note: Hey, I haven't done an LP in forever and I gather I hosed up some of the batch processing here. Images will get better once I'm clear of the initial upload (which is probably 1 update from now). Thanks for your patience. This is a long series of games; we'll all get there together.


When we last left off, Ubin had helped the governor of Strand keep the peace in his town, only to learn it was largely because important guests were due in town any minute. Today, we'll meet the guests.



This is Vognir. He's kendr to the varl--the closest thing to "next in line for kingship" that the giants have.
: Vognir.
: Gods, Ubin, you're looking ancient!
: Comes with being old. And, if there is Vognir there must be Hakon.
A 3rd varl enters the conversation, but he's kind of obscured in the conversation screenshots behind Ubin's shoulder. We'll be seeing a lot of Hakon, so don't worry too much about it.
: Must there?
:: 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 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, then, 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 road back to Grofheim should be more interesting than most years, you think.

Now would probably be a good time to explain a bit. The governor touched on a bit during his speech last update, but there are 3 major races in this game:
Men: Humans. Easy enough.
Varl: Giants. Half man, half yox. Note that this isn't some Piers Anthony creepy Xanth poo poo where a yox banged a human and made a giant. Varl in this game were literally created by the gods. Gods decided "hey let's make a half man half yox" and presto, varl. Meaning there are no women varl, nor can varl reproduce. Literally every single varl was created by the gods. And with the gods dead per the first update, well...that's not great news for the varl. They're exceedingly long-lived (none of them has yet died of old age; it's a plot point) at least.
Men and varl warred for a good long time, though--what the varl lacked in number, they made up for in strength. At some point the gods got pissed off at the two sides constantly fighting with one another and created...
Dredge: Stone men who came from underground. The dredge attacked man and giant alike, and only through an alliance (and some other poo poo we'll get to later) were the dredge defeated. There have been two great wars betweeen dredge and humans/varl. At the end of the second great war, the dredge were driven underground and have not been seen in meaningful numbers since then.

Man and varl apparently have tried to maintain their alliance despite no longer having a common enemy. Enter this diplomatic mission with Vognir and Ludin, both second in line for the throne of their respective race. Worth noting that while human succession is hereditary--Ludin is the son of the king, varl succession is basically just "the king picks a badass warrior and names him kendr, that badass warrior names his own kendr, and so on." After all, since they can't procreate you can't have hereditary anything.

Varl are cool as hell and really got a raw deal.

There's a 4th race, the horseborn (centaurs, basically; created the same way as varl but apparently WITH the ability to procreate) but they hosed off to the far south centuries ago. They got pissed off looking at regular horses, and murdered them all in a fit of pique. Then, ashamed, they fled south.

We will not be seeing any horseborn in this game, but for good measure I figured best to cover them.



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 you to the prince they spoke so highly of.

We'll get screens like this a great deal. Click on a portrait to initiate a conversation with a hero. For the most part it's just world and character-building and not on the game's critical path. But given that you should only play this game if you're into world and character-building, it'd be a shame not to.

I'll obviously be talking with people at all times. We'll start with Hakon.


: Scrivener!
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 a swathe through dredge at Vognir's side in the second great 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.



We'll go see Ludin next.
: Is this the right place?
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.
: Yes. You're with Vognir? I don't remember you.
: 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. What do you want?


All of these lead to different dialogue, but you can only choose 1. I'll go with option 3 since it seems the most in-character for the world's most literate varl.
: I have a habit of recording history. I thought we might talk about your visit.
: A varl historian? Aha. Dont' you already know? Your king and mine have both been practically trumpeting throughout the cities.
: I've been on the road a while, I'm afraid.
Ludin takes a deep sigh. Whether tired on 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 grand alliance for the "next age" of men and varl.
: You sound unconvinced.
: There's no need for it. And it's damned cold up here.
You get the sense he's struggling not to complain outright. You take the opportunity to excuse yourself.

With nothing else to do, we'll retire for the night.


...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 twon 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 whole, you think.


And finally, we're on the road. There's not going to be much difficulty in Ubin's caravan, given that he's traveling with a varl and human army combined and that they're well-resourced. Still, best to go over all of this.

That module at the top reports the status of our caravan.
The red 36? That's RENOWN, the resource we will use to level up, buy supplies, and maybe buy items in shops. Items are kinda random and level ups are almost always better than an item. There are a couple items in this game that if they show up I'll be buying immediately, though, as they're so good that they can carry you into BS2 and even BS3 and I'd rather have that than a level 5 Gunnulf or whatever.
The yellow 67? That's DAYS OF SUPPLIES, an all-purpose counter for food/water/medicine/whatever else you need to be out on the road per day and not die of starvation/dehydration/exposure/whatever. It scales to how many people you have in your caravan. We don't have 67 supplies. We have enough supplies for 85 fighters and 366 varl to survive for 67 days. When supplies get low, morale tanks. When supplies hit zero, you have people die every day until you manage to resupply. There is an achievement for not having anyone starve to death in this game.

I have not gotten this achievement. I will likely not be getting it this playthrough either.

The brown 1? That's day of the jouney. Not really much to report there. There's an achievement for reaching the final destination of the game in 120 days. I will 100% not be getting it this playthrough. Or ever.

The smiling green face? That's MORALE, and it has a different face/color combo for each of the morale levels. Remember how health in Oregon Trail was Good/Fair/Poor/Very Poor? It's like that. Great morale gives you bonuses to willpower. Good morale gives you smaller bonuses. Fair gives you nothing. Poor and very poor morale give you equivalent maluses to willpower relative to good. Continued travel without rest with sap morale, as will starvation. As will loving up certain events. Doing well in certain events can boost morale.

There is an achievement for reaching the final destination without ever going into bad morale. Given what I just said about the starvation achievement, rest assured we will not be getting that achievement either.

Then there are the 3 person-types composing the caravan.
CLANSMEN are human non-combatants. Civilians, if you will. They do nothing useful other than eat your food. They get more useful in later games.
FIGHTERS are human combatants. The 85 here are Ludin's retinue. They will take part in large-scale war battles, which we can worry about when we get to one. Also, if your fighter count dips below certain levels, bad things tend to happen to you (the most obvious of which happens at the very end of the game.)
VARL are, well...varl. All are combatants by definition. They behave the same way as fighters. Despite being strong as an ox, the game counts a fighter and a varl at 1:1 when it comes to determining war strength.

And that's about it! We'll worry about all this stuff later on.


We'll toast to Vognir.
You raise your drink, toasting the alliance between man and varl. The others join in. Ludin's expression is like a stone wall, but the others laugh at your exaggerations. Eventually you sit down beside Vognir. "Thanks for the speech," he slurs.


: Looks like you didn't have to miss out, after all.
: 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 of, what happens after this business with Ludin?
: Hopefully the boy goes back to Arberrang. 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 the campfire, lost in thought. You leave him to it.


This is the camp screen in the background, but we're still sort of in a tutorial. We'll get to explore a bit later on.


: Ah, it's Ludin. Always a pleasure. You look well rested.
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 game's map is interactive. You can click any named area and learn a bit about it. Which is impressive since we'll only ever see like 15-25% of the game world directly. They really did a neat job building up the world and its lore.


Like Dalalond, for example. Allegedly this is where the horseborn are. We'll never see it in any of the games. But it's on the map and you can learn a bit about this lush but empty area.


: We head north, then east, past the forts. Grofheim's far from Strand. Going to be a long march.
: 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 disguise 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.


With that, we're taken back to the Camp screen where you can manage your heroes, rest (no thanks), or do training battles (also no thanks). We have 4 heroes at present--Gunnulf, Hakon, Mogr, and Ludin. We'll be seeing a lot of all of them; they're all very good units.

When Varl get injured they take injuries of 6 days (-6 strength). Gunnulf's counter is down to 5 because we technically spent a day in Strand after he got beat up a bit.


His injury notwithstanding, Gunnulf is a good unit. We'll promote him. He needs 2 kills to promote (the 2/2 at the bottom) so no worries there. Varl warhawks will almost always have more kills than you have renown with which to promote them; the ability to attack multiple units in a single turn is unparalleled. We'll worry about "item rank" once we actually get some items.

Apparently I didn't screenshot it, but I gave Gunnulf 2 points (you get 2 points at level up) in armor so that he gets maimed slightly less easily going forward.


As we approach Vedrfell, Ubin narrates some more.
Vedrfell. Even the name means bad weather, where frozen wind sweeps in from the bay. They tend livestock, but most are just men driven from Strand, with nowhere else to go. Why else would anyone stay? We won't stop long.


: By Hadrborg, that's a lot of varl for some missing cattle.
: 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 your 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 tak ea look around and set up camp.
The peasant spits, his eyes anxiously darting about as the caravan sets up tents.

...Were this a different game, we'd go on a cattle rustling sidequest. But that's not The Banner Saga. The Banner Saga is a story where everyone has bad poo poo happening to them, and most of it is small-potatoes enough that it'd be absurd to get involved. I thought I'd be spending time in Vedrfell hunting down some bandits as a benevolent giant. But no, that's not at all where things are going.
: 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...
: Shut up. Hear that? Where's Ludin?
It's faint. Sounds like fighting and...something else. Hakon takes off at a run.


We're immediately taken to a battle screen against 3 Dredge. Ludin will learn how to make waypoints--good for avoiding hazards.

Also in the background, Vognir's down.



Ludin, as a spearmaster, can attack from 2 panels away--which means diagonally. Very useful! But not here, where the tutorial forces a 10 strength character to attack a 15 armor dredge. Ordinarily it's an attack that'd have a 50% chance of doing 1 damage. Pretty useless. But it's hard-coded to deflect here. Essentially a waste of a turn.


The dredge responds by one-shotting Ludin. Now both second-in-lines are down.


Hakon, Gunnulf, and Mogr arrive on the scene too late.


Hakon has the ability "sundering impact" which isn't nearly as useful as Gunnulf's "tempest," but it has its uses. It modifies the "heavy impact" skill most varl warriors have so that adjacent enemies take extra damage. But more imporantly, it does a guaranteed 1 armor, 2 strength MINIMUM damage on attack, wholly independent of your strength vs. the enemy's armor.

Guaranteed strength damage is very useful, especially early on. So that's what he does here.


Gunnulf is gonna be pretty useless here. Note that he has only 10 of 15 strength in this screenshot. That's his 5 day injury rearing its head.


Mogr is a shieldmaster. He's never gonna be big on dealing damage, but he can break armor like a champ and tank reasonably well. His special skill is "return the favor," which modifies his passive.

His passive does 1 armor damage to any adjacent enemy that hits him. It's still not great to get hit. Even with return the favor enabled and that 1 armor damage becoming 2/3/4. Best to not get hit.


Anyway, a bunch of poo poo happens until I maim all the dredge to the point that I'm willing to kill one and gently caress with turn order. Killing something puts 1 star in THE HORN at the top of the screen. It's a good way to spread willpower around late in a battle.


Anyway, I fed 2 kills to Hakon and 1 to Mogr. I want Hakon to be level 2 by the next time I have to use him in battle, since he ALSO has lovely armor by default and I can't have both him AND Gunnulf running around getting maimed at the first opportunity.


: You trying to get yourself killed, Ludin? What are you doing?
(remember what I said about in-combat deaths usually just resulting in injuries rather than death?)
: I was trying...finding a...trying to get a shot in between the plates.
: You never seen a dredge before, boy? What kind of idiot...break their armor first!
(To be fair to Ludin, he probably hasn't seen a dredge before.)
: 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.
: Vognir's dead.


And on that cheery note (Vognir didn't fall in combat, he was already fallen by the time we got there), we reach the end of the chapter.

FairGame fucked around with this message at 15:29 on Nov 22, 2018

wedgekree
Feb 20, 2013
That's an upbeat way to start the game..

Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances
Ludin's a stupid jerk, I vote we try to get him killed ASAP.

FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander

Enchanted Hat posted:

Ludin's a stupid jerk, I vote we try to get him killed ASAP.

Ludinís not so bad. Heís not really whining any more than Vognir did. Just...heís royalty instead of a cool giant.

Also Iíll get the mismatched headshot sizes fixed next update. I really appreciate everyoneís patience here.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016





Ludin is a pretty cool dude who is in wayyyyyy over his head and knows it.

Sankara
Jul 18, 2008


Whoa, Banner Saga 3 came out?! I completely missed that.

bewilderment
Nov 22, 2007
man what



Doctor Reynolds posted:

Whoa, Banner Saga 3 came out?! I completely missed that.

Banner Saga 2 apparently didn't do as well as expected, so they had to kickstart 3. I think it's maybe a little shorter than they wanted in the end (2 is huge by comparison) but it's a reasonable end to the series.

I wish we got to see a bit more of Vognir - maybe use him in battle once, to make the sting of losing him a bit bigger. You meet him in chapter 1 and he dies off immediately, so you don't really get to see what makes him worth being kendr - would've been nice to have a one-battle superunit, at least.

Jack2142
Jul 17, 2014

Shitposting in Seattle

bewilderment posted:

Banner Saga 2 apparently didn't do as well as expected, so they had to kickstart 3. I think it's maybe a little shorter than they wanted in the end (2 is huge by comparison) but it's a reasonable end to the series.

I wish we got to see a bit more of Vognir - maybe use him in battle once, to make the sting of losing him a bit bigger. You meet him in chapter 1 and he dies off immediately, so you don't really get to see what makes him worth being kendr - would've been nice to have a one-battle superunit, at least.

I agree with the Vognir statement, it wasn't badly done, but a little more of a presence would have made the loss feel more important.

mauman
Jul 30, 2014

Whoever's got the biggest whiskers does the talking.
I'm in the "Love the setting and story, but hate the combat" camp.

I really tried liking this game, but the combat was just WRONG to my poor little mind.

Mechanical Ape
Aug 7, 2007

But yes, occasionally I am known to smash.

quote:

The Banner Saga is a story where everyone has bad poo poo happening to them, and most of it is small-potatoes enough that it'd be absurd to get involved.

This is a setting, after all, where the gods are dead and last week the freakin' sun stopped moving and people's response was to say "welp, guess that's a thing now".

I wouldn't call The Banner Saga grimdark, the way Warhammer is, but it's very very stoic.

double nine
Aug 8, 2013

so this playthrough made me remember my half-finished save file gathering dust and erm.... I don't remember a single class' combat niche. So I'm gonna count on you, Fairgame, to set me straight.

In the meantime, I have a bridge to cross.

FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander

UPDATE 3: WE'RE FROM A SMALL TOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS

In our last update, Vognir, second-in-line to the varl kingship, was unceremoniously killed by some random dredge offscreen.

This is going to set off a significant problem when it comes to succession, and we'll need to figure out a way to...

Nah, just kidding. POV change time!




Every time there's a POV switch, it'll show you on the map. So we're going from the west coast of the main continent, where Ubin, Ludin, and the varl are. Allll the way to the east coast. And north quite a ways, too.


Here, instead of varl getting harassed by dredge, there's 2 humans--a bearded dude and a red haired girl who seems extremely put off by this.
: Where did that thing come from?
: Shh. Stay close.
: I think it saw us!


We're immediately taken into combat. This is sort of a special fight--ordinarily when one side is down to 1 person, you're in PILLAGE! mode and the opposing team gets to move as a unit before the solo combatant gets a turn. But not here. Here it'll get 2 moves for every 1 of each of my heroes, as seen in the turn order in the lower left.
But, I mean, it's called "starving dredge" and was carrying a deer. I'm pretty sure we can take it.


Our two heroes for this fight are Rook (the man) and Alette (the woman). They're father and daughter. Both are extremely strong units.
Rook has the same passive ability as Eirik which allows him to move in and out of allied units rather than getting blocked off.
His active ability, "Mark Prey" allows him to do armor damage to anything that's in melee range, and once he's made that attack, any other allied units that can reach the marked prey will do a strength attack. So it's great for getting a shitload of strength attacks all in 1 turn. In practice because of turn order, it's not that helpful. But if you ever need to take down a boss, it's pretty handy.
Rook is also notable for being the only unit in the game that can attack at range OR close up. He fights with an axe at melee distance, but he'll plant the axe in the ground and whip out his bow at ranged.

Alette is strictly a ranged fighter, meaning she cannot attack anything immediately adjacent. That's true of all archers, and important when it comes to using (and avoiding, in the case of enemy units) their passive ability.
The archer passive is "puncture" and it's ludicrously dangerous. For every 2 armor points the target is missing, the archer attacks as if s/he had +1 strength. Puncture is only applicable if you haven't moved yet. I guess the logic here is that you're using the time to move to line up a nice shot between cracked armor.
Anyway, tanks like Mogr *hate* archers. They spent combat having their armor get chipped away, but if Mogr ordinarly has 17 armor and 10 strength, and he gets chipped down to 10 armor/10 strength, a 9 strength archer is gonna ruin his day. She'd attack as if she had 4 more points of strength, so that's a guaranteed 3 damage. Tack on exertion and suddenly Mogr can tank melee like a champ but will get ruined by an archer.
Long story short, enemy archers are almost always top priority. If you can't kill them, get in their face so they have to move (and thus lose the puncture passive) to attack you.
Alette's active ability is "Thread the Needle" which will do armor and strength damage to anything in a 5 tile line projecting out from her, allied or enemy. It's rarely useful.


There's not much to this combat. It'd be virtually impossible to lose it. As you can see here, the dredge is at 4/9 armor. Alette has 7 strength. Without puncture, she'd do 7 - 4 = 3 strength damage. But because the dredge is missing 5 armor, she gets 5/2 strength points added to her attack, rounded down. The green on the strength attack icon indicates it's a puncture attack.


This was actually pretty wasteful of me. If Rook does a "Mark Prey" attack and the enemy dies, both Rook and ALL attacking allies get credit for the kill. Given how important promotions are going to be, I really should've set up the kill that way so that both Alette and Rook could've gotten credit. Oh well.


: Was that a dredge?
Alette looks calm, but you can tell her heart's about to race from her chest.
: It was. Let me see...are you hurt?
: No, I'm...I'll be fine.
When the dredge attacked your cart and the yox bolted, it spilled most of your supplies. You can see more dark figures moving through trees when you glance that direction.
: All that food. That's the last we're going to get before winter. Do we...what do we do?
: Don't run. Let me think.
You get a choice here to run, or to load up supplies as quickly as possible. We choose the latter. Rook is going to need ALL THE SUPPLIES even though right now it's not that important (we'll discuss that later on.)
: I can see them, in the trees...are you sure about this?
: No. We have to try, be quick!



We're granted 15 supplies for making this good decision. Again, note that it'll last us 18 days--right now the caravan is just Rook and Alette. That's going to change in a second.


Whereas Ubin's caravan is moving left to right, Rook is moving right to left as they approach the town of Skogr.


: I never expected to see the dredge with my own eyes. What happened in the north? Already, we see more between the trees as we approach our home, and Alette grips my hand tight. We must find Iver.


: Iver!
The enormous varl in question towers over the men in the training field. He squints as you approach.


: Already back, huntmaster? Thought you'd be tomorrow.
: Dredge. Everywhere!
: Dredge? How did they get through Greyhorn?
: Must have broken through the fort.
The fighters nearby have stopped sparring. They gather around you.
: Dammit! They'll be here soon if they're not already.
You hear screams. From the outskirts, people are running toward the great hall. Iver turns to one of the older boys in his group of fighters.
: Egil, take Alette to the great hall. Tell the chieftain what's happening. The rest of you gather up as many people as you can!
: Come on, Alette!
: No, wait. I, I want to help...


This is a moderately important choice, as it'll impact who's in the next fight. Egil and Alette are both hero units and can fight. But because of how the game works, there's strength in small numbers and I'd much rather have Iver and Rook get most of the turns than share them with Egil and Alette. So I send them packing.
: Go with Egil, Alette.
Alette looks like she might protest, but scowls and runs off to safety.
: Gods, Rook. Don't start telling them I know what I'm doing.
: I know it's a stretch, but they bought it. What's the plan?
: Just hold off any dredge we see until everyone's inside, then we figure it out.
More shouts draw your attention to some houses atop a nearby hill!

Editor's Note: This is where I started the new screenshot process. I hope they look good! Let me know if not!


We're SO CLOSE to being able to actually play and not be stuck in tutorial mode. But not yet. We only have the option to check out houses.
Sure enough, dredge are gathering in number. Fear threatens to bubble over into panic. "How long do we need to keep this up?" you ask. Iver shakes his head unknowingly. That's a bad sign.


aaaaand I hosed something up. Oh well.
When The Banner Saga first came out, it gave a special character, Tryggvi, to you in this battle and all subsequent ones. He's a spearmaster, is fairly interesting, and has identical stats to Ludin. He's unlocked for free on the PS4 version, but I forgot I needed to enable him here.
Oh well; I'm pretty sure he can't die in Banner Saga 1 so when we get to 2 he'll just kinda magically appear.
This does mean that this battle is going to be a little difficult, though, since Trygvvi and Iver can team up to do some bullshit and now I can't do that.


Iver's class is "Strongarm," a varient of the shieldmaster class that Mogr (from the Ubin caravan) has. His stat caps are incredibly good. And he'll be our heavy hitter for a while. Whereas the Ubin caravan is brimming with high strength varl, this POV is pretty much a one-varl show.
His passive is the same as Mogr's: he does armor chip damage when he gets attacked in melee.
His active is "battering ram," in which he can whack a dude with his shield and knock them back up to 4 tiles, including moving them through other units. Great for knocking back the clumsy 2x2 varl-sized dredge to the point that they can't get past their own people to close to within melee.
It's situationally useful, but when it's useful it's REALLY useful.

Because we told Alette to stay out of combat, her bracelet comes with us without Alette. For a rank 1 item, it's extremely good, giving 3 stat points. You have to be the character level OR higher than the item level to wear it. Not a problem in this instance.
Though I wonder how a bracelet that's made to fit on Alette's slender wrist is being worn by Iver. Maybe he's wearing it as a ring.


We talked about Rook already. He's extremely well-rounded.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBZmHUZB-_4: BGM, "Cut with Keen-Edged Sword"


We're going to dance around these dudes. 1 2x2 big guy, and 3 grunts. No problem.


So long as Rook isn't getting hit by the big guy, we're fine. But the big guy has to maneuver all the way around Iver, and meanwhile Rook can move back and forth on either side of Iver because of his passive. And because Rook and Iver are getting 2 turns to every 1 turn from the big guy, we can slowly chip away his armor.
This would be easier if we'd had Trygvvi, but no worries.


Literally the entire fight is Rook playing keep away from the big guy, breaking armor while Iver does significant strength damage. Eventually I decide everyone is maimed enough to begin killing.


Iver ended the fight with like 0 armor, but whatever. Split the kills 2/2 and now both characters can level up.


: Got it.
You're lucky to escape the notice of more dredge on the way back. You can see them rummaging through homes, tearing the buildings apart. If you're going to look for more survivors you make a note to do it quickly.


: You find anyone?
: A few, sent them inside. Gods, this is bad. I'm out of practice, Rook.
: Look. As long as I've known you, you've always wormed your way out of talking about dredge. This would be the time to start talking.
: I can tell you they rarely stop for rest. The sooner we leave, the better. They'll follow us until we're tripping over tired women and children. Then they'll attack. Even after we're wiped out they'll keep coming, trampling corpses in their wake. There's no end to them.
: How did anyone survive the great wars?
: Ask the menders. I wasn't there.
: But I know you've fought your fair share.
: Yeah. I've killed enough slag for one lifetime.
: That's why you're going to save us now.
: Don't lay that on me. Come on, let's get inside.


You can go to the town market, but there's not really anything here worth buying. Item drops and market item stocks are random in this game. At least the item costs seem to've been patched so that it's 2 renown/item level rather than 5, which is what it was at launch. Somehow the Banner Saga 2 economy made its way into this game. It's still not like that on PS4. Odd.
Anyway, we could buy some supplies, but I'm not going to. And none of these items really do anything worth mentioning, either.



Iver levels up to 2. I stick both points in strength.


Rook levels up to 2. I stick both points in armor break.


We head into the town hall.
: Rook! Thank the gods you made it!
The great hall is an utter din, filled as it is with dozens of terrified families.
: Don't stop worrying yet.
: I haven't. What in the depths is going on? Dredge milling around, ransacking houses?
The chieftain's wife finds you, pushing through the crowd.


: They must know we're here, why haven't they attacked?
Editor's Note: Yes, Oddleif is a man's name. It's addressed.
: Don't know. I wouldn't expect it to last.
: I've made some decisions. But tell me straight, what would you both do in my place?
: I'd have left by now. They're already outside the doors.
: Not so easily done. Rook?
: I trust Iver on this.
The chieftain sighs a deep and heavy breath, slumping. He looks years older.


: I imagined us fighting back and "saving the town," but...nonsense. Iver's right, of course. We can't just wait to be slaughtered.
: Where do we go? If dredge are coming down from the north...
: Frostvellr, to the west. It's close and it has walls. I intend to be free of Skogr in one push, nobody left behind.
: I wouldn't. If they follow us, we're done.
: What do you suggest?
: Let me create a distraction, then go. I'll catch up on the road to Frostvellr.


:siren:Let's put this to a vote. In order to condense some of the branching dialogue, vote like this:

1.) What should take priority? FOOD, CIVILIANS, OR LEADERSHIP
2.) Should we let Alette fight alongside us?

FairGame fucked around with this message at 15:46 on Nov 22, 2018

Zanzibar Ham
Mar 17, 2009

You giving me the cold shoulder? How cruel.


Grimey Drawer
1) FOOD - no matter how many people (civilians or leaders) we manage to save, it won't matter much if we then proceed to starve to death
2) Nah - apparently her active ability isn't that great most of the time (on paper it sounds pretty neat to me, but I never played the game and can't form my own opinion), so it may be better to wait for an archer with more potential to show up

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016





Rook is a lot better than Alette in this game IMO.

Zanzibar Ham
Mar 17, 2009

You giving me the cold shoulder? How cruel.


Grimey Drawer
Actually I can guess why it's not good, since for it to work optimally damage-wise she'd have to put herself close to the enemy, and with an opening for them to reach her after.

Bacter
Jan 27, 2012

Nie wywoluj wilka z lasu, glupku.
1) Civvies since what are we doing this for it not to save people
2) No, for reasons mentioned above - wait for more useful people.

Really happy to see this - I enjoyed the first one, but just didn't have the time for 2 or 3!

FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander

Zanzibar Ham posted:

Actually I can guess why it's not good, since for it to work optimally damage-wise she'd have to put herself close to the enemy, and with an opening for them to reach her after.

Thatís part of it. But mostly itís ďremember how I explained how her passive ability, puncture, works? And how if you move, you lose its benefit?Ē

Itís very rare that enemies are lined up BEFORE she moves, at which point youíve lost a lot of her damage potential.

Plus as you say, itís never great to have an archer close to being in harmís way.

sudonim
Oct 6, 2005
Man the battle system for this game really is Basic Arithmetic Tactics. I remember one of my friends who really like Final Fantasy Tactics seemed excited for this game, but the two are worlds apart in gameplay. I should ask him if he played it and what he thought.

I'm fan of FFT and I would've hated to play this myself so thanks for showing it off.

TheFlyingLlama
Jan 2, 2013

You really think someone would do that? Just go on the internet and be a llama?



1) Food
2) Yes



challenge run where we make you get all the bad characters and use them needs to be a go

Mechanical Ape
Aug 7, 2007

But yes, occasionally I am known to smash.
Our chieftain is plainly useless. Let's do what it takes to save civilians.

And as far as I'm concerned, Alette is one of the civilians we're trying to save. Keep her out of fights as long as possible.

Might as well leave the food stores. Who knows, maybe the dredge are just hungry and they'll be content to eat our food and let us escape.

Orcs and Ostriches
Aug 26, 2010


The Great Twist
Every time I tried to replay this game I stopped because it gets so bleak. Never really clicked on the battle system, but everything else is beautiful. 2 and 3 are sitting there on my wishlist, haunting me. I don't think I can quite get into them.

It'll be nice to see where everything goes.

Damanation
Apr 16, 2018

Congratulations!



Count me in as someone who couldn't get into it because of the combat system. I just didn't enjoy how it worked? It felt wonky to me every time I tried it again.

I vote for more citizens since we should at least try to save as many people as we can. Also we should let Alette fight with us I worry that if she doesn't, she might try to on her own terms and put herself in danger anyways.

FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander

Voting closed.

Will focus on civilians and try to keep Alette out.

some plague rats
Jun 5, 2012

by Fluffdaddy
[whoops!]

FairGame posted:

Ludinís not so bad. Heís not really whining any more than Vognir did. Just...heís royalty instead of a cool giant.

Ludin is great because he's nearly always right, he's just a real dick about it so no one listens

Somebody fucked around with this message at 02:02 on Sep 8, 2018

FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander

Crane Fist posted:

A spoiler, unintentionally

Hey man, mind editing that out?

FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander

UPDATE 4: I HAVE TO AXE YOU A QUESTION

Y'all voted that we'd try to protect civilians, and try and leave Alette out of it. We tell the Chieftain we'll go along with Iver's plan to create a distraction and lead the dredge away from town.


: I didn't ask for advice just to ignore it. Promise you're not throwing away your lives on this.
: That wasn't part of my plan. Iver?
: Nope.

: Then I'm coming with you.
That catches you by surprise. The chieftain rubs his chin, but doesn't argue. From the training she's given Alette, you've no doubt she can handle a bow.
: Fine. I'll get the townspeople ready. Make your move, Iver. We'll leave when you're clear.


Iver wants to bring in Egil ("Gil"), the boy he was training when we first arrived in town. Alette wants to come along too, but we won't let her.
: Don't leave me alone...
It's difficult, but you drag yourself to the door of the great hall, resolute that you're making the best decision for her.
You step into the town courtyard, where you can already see dredge in every direction. Iver starts banging his shield and swearing at them. "We kill a few," he shouts, "And the rest will follow!" You steel yourself for a tough fight.



We have 2 new units for this battle, both level 1.
Egil's a carbon copy of Valgard, that dude from the tutorial fight. He's tanky as gently caress, but can't do much else. If we had a full roster, his ability to tank would be better, but since we're only going with 4 characters he'll need to recast his "stone wall" ability more often and will run out of willpower before the fight is over.
...plus enemies won't always focus on him anyway.

Oddeif, on the other hand, rules. She's another archer, like Alette, and gets the "puncture" passive.
Her active is extremely weird. It's called "Rain of Arrows," and she can use it to trap any tile in her firing range. If an enemy walks onto that tile, it takes strength damage as if she'd fired a stationary shot at it. It also immediately ends its turn.
The enemy AI is coded not to notice where you've set your traps, or if Egil's stone wall is up. So if you can get good at predicting the enemy AI, you can cause it to waste turns attacking a wall, or walking into traps.

It's somewhat difficult to do, though.
The AI is coded to prioritize in the following way, as near as I can tell:

Kill something > > > > > Strength damage > > > Armor damage > Reposition

So you can have Egil right in something's face, but if the enemy thinks it can kill something it'll go for that target instead. The ideal situation is getting the enemy to think it can kill Egil, in which case it'll waste its turn attacking his stonewall.

Oddleif's a bit easier because archers make squishy targets and she can frequently use her skill to trap things that are interested in hurting HER.

It's a useful skill, but you really need items that gently caress with enemy aggro to make it work properly.


We will eventually be maxing out Egil's armor. And then I guess his armor break. I prefer to keep him low strength, though, since it makes enemies think him an easier target.
All his stats SUCK. His stat CAPS are superb. Probably the best human fighter in the series. Just...good luck keeping him alive long enough to get there.


Oddleif also has pretty rubbish stats right now, but since she won't be in harm's way it's fine.


We're up against 2 stoneguards and 3 grunts, but they're thankfully split up. We'll focus on the lower 2 first and wait for the others to come to us.


The enemy stoneguard (the big guy) was gonna get an early turn so I moved Egil into his way. He's the only viable target, so he wastes his turn.


The grunt does the same. When Egil works, he works REALLY well.


Rook (armor break) and Oddleif (strength damage) combine to maim the grunt coming from the far side. He's also nicely taking up space that his big guy friend will need to traverse.


Because I don't have Tryggvi to combine with Iver for strength damage, I need to get Egil involved in actual combat. He begins breaking the armor of the stoneguard.


Iver gets in on the action as well. He's standing next to Egil, which means both he and Egil get +1 armor--enough that the 12 strength stoneguard isnt' terribly threatening.


I miscalculate a bit and cause Rook and Egil to get maimed, but Rook can hide behind Iver whenever necessary, and Egil can just put up his shield wall. They're the 2 guys in this battle that can take strength damage and have it not be a problem.


The rest of the fight just becomes me maiming the poo poo out of enemies until they're at 1 strength and then picking and choosing who gets the kill. For giggles, I use Mark Prey against the hapless stoneguard at the end, ensuring EVERYONE gets credit for the kill.


...an hour later, Oddleif is the first to spot them. "There!" she points to the road. As you rejoin them, you can tell there was trouble, some people wounded. Others missing.
Alette rushes to you, throwing her arms around your waist. You smile and hug her tightly. "Dad...please don't do that again," she says.
"Brave girl, this one," adds one of the women from Skogr. "Chieftain would've died without her." She points to the back of the caravan.
You find Oddleif beside her husband, who is laid out in a cart. "Old fool," she says. "Got himself a prize for trying to fight back." She shows you his deep gut wound. "But he's alive. Nothing for it but to get to Frostvellr." You continue on in silence, Alette's hand in your own.

We gain a ton of renown for this. Chieftain is alive (barely), Rook and Iver's plan worked, and Alette apparently did something heroic offscreen. All told, good choices, y'all!




We select to rally the caravan.
: Fight for every step! Remember those who didn't make it and push onwards!
The clansmen see your effort and follow suit, pushing themselves harder.
...we gain some more renown. It was a good speech.


At the dawn (or what would be dawn, if not for the sun never setting) of the 6th day, we arrive at a godstone. You'll find these littered all over the world of The Banner Saga, monuments to the gods, constructed while they yet lived.
: Far enough for today, I think.
After a day of misery, men and women drop their meager possessions beneath the godstone of Hridvaldyr.
: What are we doing? We just left our homes because suddenly there were dredge.
: Chieftain did what I suggsted and look what he got for it.
: Look at these people. Someone has to hold them together.
: That's you, Rook.
: But you're the dredge killer around here.
: Yeah, a varl. They want to listen to someone who looks like them.
: What about Oddleif?
: Let her, if that's easier for you.
: What if we run into more dredge?
: You mean when. I'll be honest with you, these men can't take on dredge by themselves. I expect we'll lose two for every slag we take down.
: So we run?
: Only if you want to lose women and children. We're going to have to fight, and there are going to be deaths.
: Gods be damned. Why is this happening?
: Think of how I feel. I'm stuck nursing a bunch of weaklings.

: You do care, I can tell.
: Feh, men are a plague on the world worse than any dredge, as far as I can tell.
: Chats like this are why we get along so well, Iver.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exkbBiDcO60: BGM, "Only the Sun Has Stopped"
The godstone looms overhead, the massive eyes of Hridvaldyr looking the same direction as you.
The weathered stone doesn't see many visitors. Not much reason to travel so far east. When hunters come through they sometimes stop to give offerings, out of habit more than anything else now that the gods are dead. Hridvaldyr was the god of hunters and of wild beasts, occasionally seen roaming the land as both man and wolf. He was always depicted in effigy with his terrible spear. You wonder what he'd think about his woods being full of dredge now.

A young girl from the caravan approaches you. "I made this for you," she says, handing you a crude necklace carved from a branch she must have found nearby. "Thank you for saving my mama," she says, before running back to her tent.

Back at your tent, you rouse Alette, who clings to your arm until she's completely awake. Bad dreams. Eventually the camp is broken down and it's time to move on to Frostvellr. It feels like an end more than a start.


We're granted the Bjarken Rune. It is a level 2 item that gives its bearer a 15% chance to completely dodge a strength attack. Powerful when it triggers, since it'll dodge a 10 strength attack as readily as a 1 strength attack. But a 15% chance isn't worth pinning one's hopes on. We'll use it only until we have something better.

Most godstones in this game grant items. Maybe they all do, actually. The gods are dead, but their magic is still in the world. Subtly so, but it's present.


We hit the road again. Note that the default morale for Rook's caravan is just normal. Unlike the varl and human royalty caravan, we're not swimming in fighters or supplies. We're a bunch of refugees with little food and security. It's not great.




You get random events while you're on the road. You won't get every event in every game, though this one I think is a fixed encounter. We need more supplies and fighters, and local folks seem like they're worth taking a chance on. Not all encounters are so pleasant.
We're granted 12 fighters, 5 renown, and 18 supplies for bringing them into the fold.


Another random event.


This is a viking game! There's gonna be drinking and fighting and we should be ok with it! Skal!
...we gain 5 renown.


We hit a small village where we can rest, though we don't need to because we did so well in the escape from Skogr.


More importantly, it gives us a chance to talk to Egil.


You find Egil just outside the camp, practicing his sword swings.
: How's the arm, Egil? I saw you taking some hard hits out there.


: Oh. Yeah, I'm great. Er, not great, considering everything that's...I'm fine. My arm is fine. It's a strong shield. It's Rook, right? I know we haven't talked much. Before now. But if you want, just call me Gil.
: OK, Gil.
: I wanted to let you know that I meant what I said before. About making sure nothing happens to Alette.
: You're protective of Alette, huh?
: Well, she's...I don't want her to get hurt.
You can see his cheeks turn bright red.
: Don't worry, she can take care of herself, too.
: I know, I didn't mean...
: Easy, Gil. I know what you meant. Iver seems to think you're pretty good.
: Did he say that? That's good. I'm trying. Never had to fight anything like dredge before, but...I don't have much else to do. And how many people get to train with a varl? Just seems like...I could be a help to someone. That's what I want to be.
: I've never seen a shield like that before.
: Yeah, I doubt there's many. My father made this. It's solid metal, really heavy. But I've been practicing with it since I was a kid. I used to spend a lot of time just getting used to lifting it.
He raises it up to show you.
: I'm pretty good with it now. It's the only thing of my father's I have left. Then when my mother died...she gave it to me...before she died.
: I'm heading back to camp. Stay strong.
: I will. Oh, and if you need something, let me know. I can do anything you need. Between you and Iver, we're going to be ok, I can tell.



We get extraordinarily lucky and find this ring here. It's an incredibly powerful artifact that I'd be willing to pay 25 renown for, but thanks to the rebalance patch I only have to pay 2 renown per item level.

Strength resist is the best effect in the game, in my opinion. It flat removes 2 strength damage from anything that'd hurt you for strength damage. Unlike armor, it can't go away, either.

A LOT of effects in this game do 1 damage to you in bursts. If you're bleeding, you lose 1 strength point per tile you move. But if you move 4 tiles, that's not 4 damage. It's 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 damage. Which, thanks to strength resist, makes 0 damage.

The enemy AI also doesn't know you can resist strength, so if you give this item to your tanks they'll effectively behave like Egil when he has his stone wall up.

Level 5 is the cap in this game and we won't be there for a while. But you can import items from BS1 into BS2, and we'll have some level 5s in this game before it's all said and done. This item loving rules and I'm elated to find one.


Oddleif got most of the kills while we escaped Skogr, and I give her a point in exertion and a point in armor break. She's never gonna be a heavy hitter, but if she can break 4 armor per turn that's pretty useful and can let Iver and Rook start to do some damage.


There's not much else to do in town, so we head out again, bound for Frostvellr.


But before we get too far from town, this happens.


: What's going on?

: These bastards don't speak for us! They've been trying to divide the village since you got here.

: True. You can keep whoever wants to stay and die.

: The rest of us will go with the reasonable people of Skogr.
: I'll have you both gutted before I let half the village desert!
Behind the angry villager, a mob of thugs have appeared, all furrowed brows and nervous stares.
: You both know what will happen to the rest of us if the fields are abandoned! Nobody leaves!
: There won't be anything to tend once the dredge arrive.
: Dredge, my rear end! I don't know what the scam is this time, Hogun, but you got two choices. Get back to work, or I'm finally putting you in the ground.
: Mogun, what do you say? Thought it was unfair that he only asked me.
Mogun draws his axe slowly, followed by Hogun. Despite their confidence, the brothers are significantly outnumbered.


:siren: Vote time!
The axe brothers, Hogun (no scar) and Mogun (scar) are very likely to get themselves killed trying to get their town to flee the dredge. On the other hand, who are we to interfere in another village's politics?
Do we HELP THE BROTHERS or do we SIDE WITH THE TOWN LEADER?

FairGame fucked around with this message at 00:10 on Sep 18, 2018

Zanzibar Ham
Mar 17, 2009

You giving me the cold shoulder? How cruel.


Grimey Drawer
One of my peeves with Fire Emblem is that since axes are sort of considered to be the Enemy weapon, you get less options to use'em yourself.

Also come on, you call'em the Axe Brothers, I vote we try to save their asses

TheFlyingLlama
Jan 2, 2013

You really think someone would do that? Just go on the internet and be a llama?



HELP THE BROTHERS

some plague rats
Jun 5, 2012

by Fluffdaddy
The bros are correct re: the dredge and we will help them

Dong Quixote
Oct 3, 2015

Fun Shoe
Save their axes

Aeromancia
Jul 23, 2013
Help these bros out

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007

It's okay if you have any questions.


Help them

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FairGame
Jul 24, 2001

Der Kommander

Alright, that's not getting overturned anytime soon.

And I discovered that the ps4 and pc versions of this game are balance-wise rather different. The axe bros are...good? Wasn't expecting that. Update tomorrow.

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