The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 6: 3-1: You're the Worst Goddamned Warleader


Yeah, I'm absolutely doing some metagaming with Rook's party and we'll explain what's going on with that next time we see them.

Which won't be for a bit, because we have to do the worst chapter in the whole series now. Unless you like the combat, in which case it's probably the best chapter.

Sit tight, Rook. We'll see you eventually.

For now, it's time to play as Ubin...or not. I guess Hakon's the POV character now?

: Hakon. We're back. I was able to get about as many warriors from Strand as you wanted, and more weapons. Extra supplies, too.
You perk up, just now realizing Mogr has been talking to you. Since Vognir died everyone has been looking to you to make the decisions. It's exhausting.
: Hakon?

: Sorry, just tired. Go on.
: I was saying the valr we sent to Strand have returned. The governor gave us most of what we wanted.
: Good enough. Much resistance from the governor?
: Some. I don't think he was happy about us buying his figthers using his own money. He also insisted we take on a lackey of his to watch over his "property." A man named Eirik.

: Eirik? I met him. He seemed competent enough.
: Regardless, the governor will have to get over it unless he wants dredge crawling through his streets. We've put down every slag that has wandered through here while you were gone.
: Enough flapping of mouths, then.
: You're sure that wound has healed, Ludin?
: I agree. Enough has already gone wrong. If something happens to the prince on a mission of peace...the alliance would rot. Or worse.

: Ludin makes his own decisions.
: We would only be made to do this again later. And I will not suffer it all a second time. Either take us through the Wandering Road, or do your job and slaugther some dredge.
Ludin turns abruptly with a scowl. He stamps back to his ring of tents and followers.
: Wandering Road's not an option with this many.
: I could crush that boy's skull with one hand...
: If Ludin won't be deterred, you'll have to deal with it. Don't let Ludin get to you.
: Let's go. I'm sick of looking at this dump.
: What do I tell the warriors, Hakon?

: Tell them we cover the mountainside in dredge bodies.
Editor's Note: This is just flavor text. But Hakon isn't really a leader. He's a a figther, and the mantle of leadership doesn't sit well with him. I figure slaugthering the shit out of dredge is in character, and his class is literally called "warmaster."
This decision to RP a guy who loves'll see.
: Good. Give the word, and we'll set off.

We're still in Vedrfell for now. Let's talk to Ubin and Mogr.

: You knew him well, didn't you?

: Vognir? No. Ah, well...I don't know. I remember him. Always rushing around with some important business. But I never knew him. Never got a chance to talk much.
: Longer than I did, in any case.
: I suppose so. When he spoke, varl listened. I knew that.
: I could use help there.
The scrivener leans back, considering the sentiment.
: I've seen worse. They respect you for your ability to swing an axe. They need to respect you for your actions. But you're not talking to the right varl. Mogr's got some skill there. Most I can do is hold a quill.
: I heard you were a terror back in your day.
: Do you know how old I am?
: Dare I ask?
: I'm competing, you know. Nobody knows how old we varl can get. Naturally. There's one by the name of Snorri. He's got a few years on me, just hunkers in Grofheim collecting rime. Bastard might actually beat me. Another one named Krumr is close, I think. But the addled son of a bitch still welcomes a fight. He'll probably be offed before I am. Although...
The scrivener gestures around him as if you remind you of the current situation. You chuckle.
: Anyway, point is what difference does it make? I'm just a delivery bairn for Jorundr now. Can't remember half of what I've done.
: Hence the journal?
: "Hence?" Don't get fancy on my behalf, Hakon.
: OK, I won't. What are you always writing in that journal of yours?
: How do you mean? What do I write? I write what happens.
: They've got a banner in Arberrang for that, you know.
: You mean the Long Banner? Yes, the Manders wove up something that writes its own history. You want my opinion? I don't trust it.
: No?
: It tells a broad story. I think there's some value in the narrow. Whose story does it write? Mine? Theirs? Ludin's? ...gods forbid.
: Hah, you relic. The gods have been dead a long time.
: Oh, have they? Old habits, I suppose.
: What do you suppose happened to the sun?
: Gods, how should I know? Never seen something like this before.
: Are you worried? Some of the varl in the caravan think the world's coming to an end.
: Others think it's the best thing that could happen. No more black months. I'll take it. If it's the end, I'm ready.
: What about the rest of us?
: To the depths with you.
: Hah! Get some rest. Always more marching to do.
: I've hoofed more hills than a horseborn with a grudge. Don't worry about me.

We'll go see Mogr next.

: I'd ask how you're dealing with Vognir's death, but I already know the answer.
: Do you?
: Steady old Mogr, which is good. I know most of these varl, but they're not under my command. They came to follow Vognir.

: Tell you the truth? I wouldn't want to be in your position either.
: Haven't you ever wanted to be in command?
: More than I am? Any more rope and I'd hang myself.
: I doubt that.
: I forget you weren't around back then. At one point I had more rope. I hung myself. So no, I'm not interested in command. It's all yours.
: Thanks. Anything you can tell me about the caravan?
: Throw together this many varl, half of them want to hit each other, the rest want to be left alone.
: Anyone I should keep an eye on?
: There's a couple of clan leaders trying to show off for each other. Not a big deal. I've got it under control. The figthers we just got from Strand aren't bad, but they're unruly. Give it a few days. And there are a few moaning about fighting for you instead of for Vognir. Those are the ones to worry about.
: What about Ludin's men?
: They don't want to hear anything from me, I know that.
: Any problems?
: Could be. Ludin's pet varl is named Bersi. I'm not sure what he came from or what his deal is. Bastard knows how to fight, but there's something I don't like about him.
His girl in red is scary too. Yrsa. She's probably the best figther Ludin's got, to be honest. I've overheard some of the varl call her "the witch."
: Why?
: The flaming arrows, I think. It's a good trick, but the fire upsets our varl more than the dredge.
: Still doesn't make much sense. "Witch?"
: They're not scholars, Hakon. I think they're mostly just afraid of her.
: That makes more sense. Don't let her find out. You think we're walking into a death trap?
: With this many varl? No, we should be alright. Things could get rough though.
: I don't like being the one to send varl to their deaths. I like worrying about myself, and that's the extent of it.
: Who would've expected Vognir to drop like that to a couple of slag?
: I'm still wondering what happened. He had hundreds of dead slag to his name. I don't get it.
: Just happens sometimes. No big moment. I'm sure it surprised him even more than us. Although...I have to wonder. Nah, nevermind. Anyway, I'll worry about the warriors. You worry about not doing something stupid.
: That's asking a lot. What were you holding back about Vognir?
: I'd rather not say, Hakon.
: Why not?
: It's the kind of thing that'd get stuck in your head, and you need a clear one. It's better if you let me worry about it.
: Sounds important. Tell me.
: How did Vognir die?
: He ran into dredge. Wasn't expecting it.
: When we found him he was lying face down, like he was struck from behind. Did he really get taken down by some random slag? Who else was there?
: You think Ludin...?
: He probably didn't, but...
: Dammit. We should keep an eye on that bastard. If you see anything else, tell me.
: I will.
: Let's get back to it.
: Let me know if you need anything else.
: I will.

Despite having the prince of men in our caravan along with 2 bodyguards mentioned by name, they're not playable. Eirik's back, though. And Gunnulf is still hurt from when he got beat up by those raiders way back in the first update.

We immediately level up those who are eligible. Eirik goes right to level 3.

Unlike Rook's party, we're chock full of fighting men and giant. And in good spirits. And have shitloads of supplies. This will be easy!

The first of many of these updates. Mogr sees dredge and lets us know. We could not fight them, but the fact is we need levels and renown, so...

: We'll deal with it ourselves.
The caravan stops and waits while you lead a small detachment up the hillside to take care of the dredge quickly. You tell Ludin to stay by the caravan. He folds his arms and mutters something about being treated like a child.

Not the best party with my heavy hitter at -4 strength, but it's a pretty easy fight.

We're significantly outnumbered, but most of the dredge are pretty shitty and can be maimed easily by Hakon or Gunnulf.

Stuff happens. Eirik and Gunnulf go down. Hakon and Mogr stay up which is the imporant part. Varl get wounded for 6 days when they go down. Gunnulf is now back to -6 strength (not -4 + -6, thankfully.)

Anyway, that optional fight cleaned up, we press on, until...

: Hakon!
You can hear Ludin's hard-booted trot as you set up camp the first day, and brace yourself.

: Can we speak? As equals?
: We can try.
: It seems clear to me you plan to kill a lot of dredge along the way. Am I right?

: In fact, I plan to go out of my way to kill them.
: I shouldn't be surprised, but...don't assume only the varl can fight. Do you understand me? That is my banner we fly to Grofheim. The banner of Arberrang. I insist on joining in battle.
: Almost gutted in your first encounter and ready for more? Whatever you like, prince.
: And...uh. I expected more resistance.
: From Vognir, maybe.
: They tell me you were his kendr. That's why you're in charge now. Some kind of next of kin...varl thing? Don't you take on his responsibilities?
: Why the tough act, kid?

: Don't look down on me again. Don't you dare.
: When you're nearly two hundred years, it's hard to take a twenty year old that right?...seriously.
: You'd better start. We'll both be kings someday.
: That's the last thing I need to think about right now.
Ludin looks at you as though you just punched yourself in the face. He heads back to his tent before saying whatever was on his mind.

Might as well meet the rest of his crew.

: You have a moment?
As you approach Bersi, he lowers the book he was reading. He doesn't strike you as the book-reading type.
: You're Bersi.

: You're Hakon. We've gotten that out of the way, haven't we?
: I had some questions.
: Say what you want to say.
: What's a varl doing working for Ludin?
: What's a varl doing working for another varl? What difference does it make? It looks like you're in charge right now, so do me a favor and don't get Ludin killed.
: He's important to you?
: No. But that's one way to put it.
: Where'd you learn to fight?
: Same way as you. By fighting.
: You know what I mean.
: I robbed well-protected merchants for at least one man's lifeetime. Is that what you mean?
: Yeah. Not anymore?
: I've had a lot of jobs.
: Can I trust you?
: What a loaded question. Depends what you mean.
: Whose back will you have if things go wrong?
: Assume I'm looking out for myself and you'll figure it out.
: Does Ludin understand that?
: Ludin doesn't even understand that half his army is here just to protect him from the people he talks to.
You laugh at the unexpected gouge. Bersi grins, pleased with himself.
: I won't keep you any longer.
: See you on the battlefield, oh leader of varl.
: You could join us.
: I'm where I want to be. Don't forget what I said...about keeping Ludin alive. Got it?
As you step away, you can't help but wonder if there was a bit of threat behind that gravelly request.

Bersi is a warhawk, like Gunnulf. Only not like Gunnulf in that he actually has some points in exertion so he can get himself into position to hit things. Lower strength, so he's not as heavy a hitter as Gunnulf, but in general you'll get more use out of him.

Yrsa next.

: Yrsa, right?
She watches you appraoch with her head tilted back, and points a thumb toward Ludin's tent.
: No. Here for you.

: Oh?
: Can we talk?
Yrsa shakes her head 'no,' a smile on her lips, eyelids low.
: Why not?
: I don't.
In those two curiously contradictory words you get two impressions: she has a beautiful, obsidian voice. And this might be a complete waste of time. She watches you expectantly.
: You don't talk.
: No.
: You do, though.
: I don't.
She smiles warmly, clearly enjoying her game.
: You're Ludin's bodyguard?
: No, he's mine.
Before you have the chance to be confused, she cackles, abrupt and loud. Then looks slightly embarrassed.
: You are his personal guard though?
Her expression changes to "of course."
: How did you end up with someone like Ludin?
: Luck.
She raises an eyebrow.
: It's about the flaming arrows. Varl and fire don't get along.
All you get is a shrug.
: If you're going to use them...
She pulls an arrow. There's a flick of the wrist you don't quite catch. Suddenly a bird combusts in the tree behind you and falls to the ground, smouldering. Half the camp has turned to watch.
: Don't tell me not to.
She crosses her arms, a hand on her chin, and cocks her head to one side.
: Until next time, Yrsa.
: Hakon...
You stop, and look over your shoulder.
: I am a witch. So be careful.
She puts her forefinger to her lips with a soft "shhh." You depart, not quite sure what to make of that.

So now we have a full roster of heroes. And even one who can sit on the bench.

Yrsa is an archer. We've seen that class before. Puncture passive.

Her active, though, is interesting. It's called "slag and burn," and it's her fire arrow trick. She throws coals on the ground in a plus pattern (meaning 5 tiles catch fire). Anything that's directly in the ignition takes +2 strength damage, indendent of armor. Anything that's on the center of the plus sign takes armor break damage equivalent to Yrsa's break stat (which right now is just 1, but that'll change).

Her coals stay aflame until her next turn. Anything that walks over them takes +1 strength damage independent of armor.

So she's great at hitting multiple targets for chip damage, and can also do strength damage through armor. She's very useful.

The downside? She has like NO strength or armor, especially early on, and anything that gets past your front lines is liable to one-shot her.

Bersi's really not better than Gunnulf, but starting with a point in exertion is a significant point in his favor.

Like I said: 6/6 armor/strength is a great way to get killed.

We saw Ludin get creamed in the Vognir battle, but he's actually a very solid unit. His passive ability grants willpower to himself and any adjacent unit when he kills something. Handy.

His active, "impale," will move an enemy back 1 to 3 tiles, do strength damage (min. 1), and any tile the impaled unit moves causes it to take 1 damage. Very handy when comboing with battering ram, though Iver's not in this party.

Spearmen can also attack from 2 panels away, though the impale move requires adjacency.

Upon hitting the road, we immediately get this guy talking shit about us. Hakon gives no fucks.

So much for that nerd.
"What's his name?" you ask his companions. "Griss." "Take care of Griss," you reply. You hear them laughing at his misfortune as you wander off.
We get +5 renown for keeping our disaffected units in line.

Some time later, we hit some more folks. We tell them the road to Strand is clear.
They thank you profusely. One stops as he passes. "If you're passing by Denglr, do me a favor? My wife's brother stayed behind. You'll know him by a necklace with many rings on it. If you see him, say we are safely in Strand." You nod. After a short time they continue on.

Time for more fighting!
Dredge watch you, waiting to see what you do. "When's the last time you commanded a few hundred, Hakon?" asks Mogr. "Don't overthink it. The warriors can take care of themselves."

We are now at war. War battles consist of two waves, and the difficulty of the initial wave is determined by your battle command.

From most difficult to least difficult, Charge through Oversee.
Charge will give you a very difficult tactical battle, but if you win, you will save a lot of varl and figthers from being killed offscreen, thus weakening your army.
Formations, Hold them Off, and Oversee all make the battle easier but put your army in more danger.
Oversee skips the fight entirely but you take a shitload of losses and also get no renown.

Hakon will charge into every goddamn fight. Because I'm an idiot.

Here's our war party, charging in. 3 guys at level 1. Great plan.

Aw...fuck. Most of these guys are pushovers, but there's enough of them that I'll get worn down.

Mogr's job is to break the armor of the toughest guy around so that he can die.
Also, a thing I failed to mention earlier about dredge: if you do 3 or greater armor damage to them, all adjacent units take +1 armor damage, down the line. You can get like a 5 or 6 dredge chain like this. It's moderately useful and not worth planning around, but it's a nice bonus to splinter a bunch of people at once.

Here's Hakon's sundering impact at work. He hits the middle unit, and the left and right units both take 1 armor and 2 strength damage too.

Apparently dredge bleed?

Yrsa fires off a slag and burn at the big guy. You can see 2 active coals and also 3 inactive ones to form the "plus sign" I referred to.

A nice thing about Ludin's impale skill is that the enemy AI doesn't recognize it. So sometimes an enemy will start walking and die of it, wasting their turn completely.

Ludin racks up another kill. This is going great!

Eirik kills the penultimate dredge, putting us in PILLAGE! mode. Hey, everyone's healthy! Let's fight the second wave!

What could go wrong?

Here's what could go wrong. That big guy spanws in right next to Mogr and Hakon, and neither of them can move before he does. Which means someone's getting OHKOed.

Bye, Hakon.

Bye, Yrsa.

Bye, Eirik.

I just don't have the DPS to take out the remainder. To make matters worse, the big stoneguard begins summoning reinforcements and I can't stop him. This battle is lost.

Bersi puts up a good last stand, but it's too late. He falls a moment after Ludin. least we got some bonus renown for killing part of the second wave.

A bunch of varl and figthers die because we fail. Dying in the second wave is treated like dying in the first in terms of how the game penalizes you.

Fortunately, we're in no hurry. We can rest for 6 days since we've got 2 goddamn months worth of supplies.

Hey, more dredge!

We're going to draw some of them forward and split them.

Another fight. Another war.

We charge into battle again. At least this time we have some levels to our name.

An ENORMOUS number of the 2x2 dredge greet us. If we were a predominantly human party, that'd be great since we could just run circles around them as they got in one another's way. Against a varl warparty though, this is kind of a pain in the ass.

Yrsa scores her second kill, ensuring I can armor her up a little bit next time I have a chance to promote.

Mogr tanks, armor breaks, and splinter chains armor to the point that Hakon can finish off wave one.

I've learned nothing. Let's see what wave two has to offer!

This isn't quite so bad. Plus 3 of them spawned too far to hit me on their first turn.

Ludin's a dick, but don't doubt his bravery? Or his value as a unit. Late in war battles you're low on willpower, and his ability to self-replenish and also help adjacent units when he kills something is pretty valuable.

Much like the last time I was dumb enough to do a second wave, Ludin and Bersi end up last standing.

Unlike last time, I'm strong enough to take them down.

My reward? ...a shitty level 1 item that gives +1 willpower. Goddammit.

More importantly, nobody in the entire caravan died.

...and we can sleep off the injuries again. Levels for everyone! I'm back in business and nothing can go wrong!

All 3 level up. I'm so strong now! What could possibly go amiss?

Hey, things are so good that I tell Griss he's got one shot and I get a free unit!
You tell him to report to Mogr. "I don't sit in the back lines. Make a mistake and you'll get your head caved in. Nobody'll lose sleep over it." He nods and goes to speak to Mogr.

Hey, let's take the fight to them! We have new levels! And let's see what Griss can do!

Griss is a shittier version of Iver. But being able to go 15/15 with armor and strength AND have 4 break makes him tremendously versatile. And a good partner for Ludin. We'll bring him.

Oh man, Griss right after Ludin! He's gonna battering ram so many impaled units! This is gonna be great!

So far, so good! I'm unstoppable.

Ron Howard Arrested Development Voice: He wasn't.


I really wanted to get into that town. A shop for a varl party that has very few items. And a vote that'd be impactful not only here, but in later games.

Jesus christ.
Griss, killed by my hubris. I feel awful about this.

Next time: I still don't learn my lesson!