The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 5: 2-3: The Road Not Taken

By unanimous vote, we decide to intervene on behalf of the brothers.

Oh dear. Where'd Alette go?

Hogun and Mogun are identical twins and have virtually identical stats. Mogun (the scarred one) is more attack-oriented, and Hogun is more defense-oriented. But it's barely a difference. Especially because of their class.

Both of them are "thrashers," a sub-class/kit of the raider class. Meaning they get the shield wall passive (+1 armor to adjacent units.)

Their active ability is "bloody flail," which seems to've been significantly improved in this version of the game. It's an interesting ability. At melee range, you randomly do either strength or armor damage, 4 times. The final hit will do +1 damage based on however many allied adjacent units you have.

The damage when I last played was just 1 for each hit, so your bloody flail would do 4 points cumulative of armor or strength. Not very useful, though if you get lucky and hit 3 or 4 of the points in strength, you can weaken a heavily-armored target off the bat. Also nice in case Hogun or Mogun get maimed--the damage you do is independent of your own strength, so a 1 strength Hogun can still do potentially 4 points of damage to something.

It seems like rather than the FINAL hit being boosted, though, that ALL hits are now boosted by adjacency, because Hogun and Mogun ripped off some hilariously strong bloody flails in this battle. It also means enemy thrashers are a lot more dangerous than I thought, though I already had a habit of killing them early because nothing is more frustrating than getting bloody flailed for 4 strength points early in a fight.

Again, not sure if I got lucky here or if they patched down the difficulty of this fight. It was always winnable, but I'd usually get someone wounded. Now, though...there are 0 archers on the board. Iver is gonna run roughshod over these clowns.

As always, my first move is to stick Egil out to draw fire. An enemy thrasher uses bloody flail on him, and his "stone wall," which cancels up to 3 damage per hit, just completely trivializes the attack.

The most dangerous enemy unit on the board is the "backbiter," who spawned away from the rest of the dudes. There were some of those in the opening fight way back in the first update.

But Oddleif makes too tempting a target for the AI to ignore and the backbiter spends most of the fight trying to attack her and instead running headlong into her rain of arrow traps.

Mogun is next to both Egil and Iver, so his bloody flail does some pretty strong damage here. The battle is well in hand at this point.

Iver runs a backbiter through and becomes promotion eligible.

We finish off the fight with Rook using mark prey so that 3 units can get credit for a kill.

This was the correct choice, inasmuch as this game has "correct" choices. Had we sided with the villagers we'd have gotten a whole lot of nothing.

Instead, we get 2 hero units (who apparently don't suck anymore), a bunch of clansmen, a handful of fighters, some supplies, and a ton of renown.

Alette's fine, by the way. She just didn't want to be part of the fighting.

: Alette, I have something for you.
Oddleif has gathered up the long banner from the caravan, and smiles warmly as she passes it to Alette.
: What's this about?
: I was hoping you'd sew up the banner with everything that has happened since we left Skogr. Come find me another time, Rook, and we'll talk.
Before you can comment, she departs.

MUSIC!Just listen and ignore the intensely silly video
: Dad, are you...the chieftain now?
: It looks that way.
: Oh. Then that means...
You're both quiet for a moment, while Alette unfurls the banner.
: Oddleif has been teaching me how to sew.
: She speaks pretty highly of you.
: Can we read the part about mom?
You nod. On the banner has been sewn the story of the families who have lived in Skogr throughout the years, just as is done on every banner in every town.
: I wish she were here. But I'm kind of glad she isn't.
The section of banner about your family is short, but Alette has been sewing in colorful designs.
: Why do you say that?
: So she doesn't have to deal with...all of this. Dredge. Leaving home. And...why did you have to kill those men? In the village? I mean...if it's ok to ask...

: They would have killed others.

: But how do you know which ones are bad?
Editor's Note: This is one of the best questions in the whole series. You...don't.
: Because...the dredge are terrifying. Every time we have to fight them I just want to run. But...I don't want to kill a person. Please. Are you mad at me?
: I'm glad you don't want to.
Alette smiles at this, then her face sinks again.
: I guess I would do it, if I really had to. But, do we have to?
: I know what you mean.
: Yeah, I know. Dad...I think you're doing a good job.
She hugs you. You spend the rest of your time together, sewing new verses into the banner. For better or worse, the story of Skogr is your burden now.
There is an achievement, "innocent," for finishing the Saga without Alette harming a non-dredge unit. We...probably won't get it. It's possible, though!

Oddleif said to go see her, so let's go do that.

: How are you doing, Odd?
: I'm alright. Oh, but I realized after I handed you the banner I probably gave the wrong impression. My husband's still in and out of consciousness. It doesn't look good. It's harder than I thought it would be. Just...not knowing. People tell me I'm a "strong woman."
: It's funny, my father named me Oddleif before I was even born. He wanted a boy so badly. "Strong woman." What does that even mean?

These options matter a bit insofar as Oddleif's opinion of Rook.
: People look up to you.
: Don't take this the wrong way but I don't want to be known for handling my feelings. If I feel nothing about my husband dying people think I'm strong. If I cry because my insides feel like they're on fire I'm weak. Why does that feel so backwards? I'm sorry, Rook, it's been hard.
You're not sure what to say. In the many years you've known the chieftain's wife this is probably the most you've ever talked.
: You asked me to come find you?
: Yes. It's about the banner. I thought about it a long time. He asked me to give it to you, you know. In case something happened.

: Why me?
: He always depended on you, Rook. It should be mine. I could carry it. But I thought about why he named you. I get it. They won't follow a woman. Families would leave. Our banner would be divided.

: You're probably right.
: I know I'm right on this one. It's not just about our small town. What happens the first time we need something from another clan? How will that go? And the first time someone thinks they can take advantage of us? I think this is what has to happen.

: I rely on you.
: I'll be there when I can. Just don't expect any miracles. Listen, I know I dragged this out. The truth is, my husband and I could never have a child. I don't want our banner to end here. It'll be safe with you and Alette. I know you're going to take care of her.
She puts her hand on your shoulder as she heads back to the camp.

Well shit. If Oddleif is wise enough to see that she can't lead effectively because of patriarchal bullshit, and strong enough to step aside, I can make sure the rest of the Skogr crew is just as strong. Egil gets these 2 points in armor break.

You'd think it'd go in armor, but with stone wall I want him to have low armor so that he's an appealing target for enemy AI that thinks they can do strength damage.

Rook levels to 3 and puts his points in exertion. Now I can break 6 armor my first couple of turns.

Almost immediately upon getting back on the road, this pops up. We see them off with extra supplies. There's really no reason not to, and Rook isn't really in charge enough to keep them here if I wanted to.

We lose 8 fighters (permanently; the implication is that they don't find family and end up getting killed themselves) but gain 10 renown in the bargain. That's well worth it.

That drunk guy is causing trouble again, and this time it can't be laughed off quite so easily. We choose to punish him physically.
You're considering your options when Oddleif appears out of nowhere and doubles him over with a gut shot. "Endanger everyone again and you'll get more than a cracked rib!" she shouts, leaving in a huff. The others go back to their business, satisfied with the outcome.
Caravan morale goes up slightly, and Oddleif really should be the fucking leader.

He...didn't learn his lesson. Moron. We let our clansmen deliver justice.
A swift and brutal beating befalls Rafnsvartr, one that leaves him begging for mercy. The next time he is offered mead, the man shies away in fear. As for the rest of the caravan, everyone seems pretty satisfied.
I guess "beating up the town drunk" is the best option here, as it improves morale slightly.

We approach Frostvellr, where our chieftain said we'd be safe thanks to the strong walls of the town.

Indeed, those walls look pretty impressive. But so does the encampment...outside the town? That's not good...

: This is not looking good.
: Why are there so many people in the fields?
: We can't stay outside in the open like this.
Oddleif finds you amongst the many refugees.

: Rook, I just talked to some of the women here. Nobody is being let into the city.
: Why?
: It's overrun with varl from Blotsbalkr, Greyhorn, people from Bitra, all the nearby villages. The dredge are everywhere. And the chieftain of Frostvellr has locked himself in his great hall. That's when they closed the gates.
: When the dredge come, these hills will turn red. We have to get in there.
: Where else could we go?
: With our whole caravan? South, but Sigrholm or Boersgard are so far away they may as well be horseborn lands.
: The dredge are moving south. If we keep going west we might get out of their path. Wyrmtoe is half as far as Sigrholm, and full of varl.
: and it's across the wastes. These people won't make it.
: I don't like any of these ideas.
: That's because they're all bad. There's no point talking about leaving. We have to get in there.
: We're getting in the walls somehow.
: I can get that gate open.
: Let' ssee if there's any other way before we start breaking down gates.

: I wasn't going to break it. Just push really hard.

There's nothing of particular value in the store. The jarl's seal gives +1 willpower per turn, and I thought about giving it to Egil so he can just use stone wall forever. But I thought better of it. Very few supplies available, which makes sense given how crowded the town is.

There are branching paths here. And the decision you make in Frostvellr matters fairly significantly. However, the first LP of this game took one of the paths so we're gonna take the other major Frostvellr decision. That plan Iver had? "I'm a fucking giant varl; fuck your gate?"

It sounds good.

Archers up on the walls make it clear that nobody will be getting in. Men and women below intermittently call for mercy and reason, when they're not flinging stones and curses.
: Iver, did you really expect to push these gates open?

: OK, give it a shot.

Then, unbelievably, the doors start trembling. The archers shout, more to those inside the walls than out. The creaking becomes louder, then a crack. Then the doors part, slightly. "Help him!" you shout to the rest of the caravan.

When you look back again you see that nearly everyone has thrown in to push. The gate finally succumbs under your combined effort, and you find yourself face-to-face with dumbfounded guards. You bark at the mob to attack!

There's no opportunity to set your battle party here; you plunge right into the fight. Fortunately I wouldn't change my lineup anyway. The only other character we have is Alette, and she doesn't want to fight humans.

That enemy archer is gonna be a pain in the ass if I can't get to her, but fortunately she was only able to reach Egil this turn.

Iver has 4 armor break. Couple that with his exertion and he breaks the shit out of the enemy thrasher's armor. If Rook can get in position for a mark prey, Iver will autoattack and do a shit load of damage.

It doesn't quite turn out that way, as Rook has a chance to kill the enemy archer instead, but Iver nevertheless gets the last laugh against the thrasher.

Sorry I'm not showing how the whole battle unfolds, but really there's just not much to these. Basically it's a bunch of:
1.) Figure out ways to make the enemy waste turns attacking Egil.
2.) Break the shit out of enemy armor with Rook and Iver
3.) When opportunities present themselves, mark prey and have Iver maim people
4.) Maintain shield wall since with 3 units (Hogun, Mogun, Egil) on the map that can boost armor, I can keep pretty much everyone safe.
5.) Use Oddleif as a decoy with rain of arrows.

I fucked up here and mislicked. My plan was to have Rook mark prey so everyone but 1 of the thrasher brothers would get credit for a kill. Instead, Hogun hogs the final kill.

We could've done lots of things to get into the city. Such as:
1.) SEWER LEVEL! (Iver's too big to fit into the cistern so you have to fight without him)
2.) Wait for a supply cart from the city to come out and negotiate with them to be let in
3.) Wait for the supply cart from the city to come out, murder the supply cart's crew, and come back into the city in it
4.) Nothing at all; just make camp outside.

But Iver offers a direct approach.

: What in the depths are you doing?
: Letting ourselves in.
: I can see that. I'm very impressed. But all those people you just let in here? DEAD. All those women and children with you? DEAD. And thanks for killing the only ones holding this place together. Skal.

: What are you talking about?
The man orders his guards to get the doors closed again before more refugees notice.
: If I knew there were fighters and a varl outside I would have brought you in. I'm Ekkill. I'm in charge here. You heard about the chieftain?
: We heard he's hiding out in the great hall.
: Oh really? Think you mean hiding out in a grave. He's eating worms, if that wasn't clear.
: What happened in here?
: Soon as they heard dredge were coming, anyone who couldn't swing an axe got one to the head. That's the short story, anyway. At least three clans in here warring over turf and food, and the WORST are the god-forsaken varl!
He eyes Iver and shrugs with exaggeration as if simply stating the obvious.
: We're in more danger here than out there?
: Look, I was in charge here before things went to crap. You've got some people who can fight. You've got a varl who apparently has the strength of a god. I can keep your flock safe, in the great hall. You fight for me. And to take back Frostvellr.
: I don't take sides. Too hard to tell when the good guys have become the bad.
: Fine. Cut these sheep loose and watch your own asses. What do I care? All I want to do right now is get out of the damned streets. Think carefully about what you want.

This would ordinarily be a vote, but we're intentionally going with options that differ from the previous LP.
: We're not staying here. Let us out.
: I don't know if that's...
Ekkill has already shouted to his men, who stare daggers in return. They had just finished closing the massive doors.
: A fine waste of time, and lives. Now get out.
You pass again through the gates of Frostvellr, wondering if you just threw away your best chance for survival.
: Hope we know what we're doing.
: Making it up as we go, Iver.

And on that note, chapter 2 ends. Whatever happens to Rook and the Skogr refugees will have to wait, we're POV switching back to Ubin/Hakon/Ludin next time.