The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 4: 2-2: 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 fuck, 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. 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 fuck 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 shit 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. 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. 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 fucking 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 ass! 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.

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?