The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 3: 2-1: 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 fucked 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. 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.

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?