The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 25: 13-2: The Death March


When we last left Bolverk's Ravens, everyone was injured, starving to death, and fleeing from the literal end of the world as well as a ton of dredge.

: Fasolt said they might not care to fight. Keep moving.
Nervously, the caravan moves. Dredge cautiously watch you and the humans walk by, but they do not engage. When you are well past the group, everyone around you starts cheering and telling their version of what just happened.
We gain +10 renown and get to skip a fight! Sparr stays alive!

We continue the death march, still on 0 food and the giant dark orb of the end of the world not too far behind.

There are a LOT of attacks in this portion.

Since y'all decided we should be friends with the stonesinger...
: He...he might be helping.

You intercept Folka as she tries to get to the stonesinger's cart. She deflects your first punch with her shield, but you grab her leg with your free hand and pull. Her face smacks the ground, her nose bleeding freely. She thrashes to get to her feet but you pin her to ground with a foot. "Stay down!" you roar.

The humming vibration of the stonesinger continues. More dredge appear. The stonesinger's song feels more intense, more desperate. You growl a warning. Some of the dredge stay back, but others advance.

Whatever the stonesinger did, it didn't keep us from having to fight. And...with this roster we're gonna get destroyed.

So let's call in the B Team!

Heck, Sparr's not even that bad a unit thanks to his special.

The plan: hope Zefr can boost strength while Bersi and Sigbjorn tempest their way to maimed enemies. Folka tanks, Dytch blocks, Sparr keeps the biggest nasties from taking a turn.

And there are, in fact, a decent number of big nasties. Priority targets are the enemy stonesinger, and the gloomwarden (the 16/20 big guy) and direguard. Already saw how badly drumfire can ruin things.

Also note that turn queue: we have 7 units on the field. There's an allied stonesinger up after Sparr.

Unfortunately, that direguard gets first turn and I guess wrong with Folka. He walks right around my tank and maims Dytch. Fortunately Dytch was planning on spending most of the fight stealthed and just blocking pathing, so it's not the end of the world.

Some bad luck: I get the strength boosting rune from Runic Gale, but it's too far out of the way to be useful.

Still, Bersi cripples the stonesinger.

After Sparr's turn, our friendly stonesinger enters the field and starts casting...something.

He casts half of umbrage on the enemy. The "mess up your armor" half. Not the "boost your strength" half. So basically he just broke about 20 armor in one turn.

Just like Umbrage, however, the stonesinger has to maintain focus--if he gets killed (and he is targetable even at the edge of the map) they'll lose their debuff.

Maybe I should include Bersi in the A team. He only has 16 max strength, but Tempest is such a strong skill.

Eventually the fight gets to the point that the only real threat is a high strength slinger that I've not been able to get into range with. So instead Sparr just shouts nasty things at it and pushes it all the way to the end of the turn queue.

I get a little greedy passing the kills around and let our stonesinger friend get hit for armor damage. I don't know how much strength he has, but I should probably keep this from getting worse.

So Old Man Sparr and Sigbjorn take care of things.

You snort and signal for everyone to keep moving. Zefr and a few others place the stonesinger back in a cart.
Alright, so he helped. But now he's back to being sick and injured. Like the rest of the caravan!

We start taking starvation deaths as we flee.

Oli was a tie, but random generator dictated we try and support him, so...
: We're all going to see to that.
As you charge, rocks whir past you taking out some of your fighters before they even make it to the battle.

This lineup worked well last time. Let's give it another go, and promote Bersi to 6 while we're at it, giving him Forge Ahead. Now he's a poor man's Krumr.

That's...a really dangerous lineup. Especially the vile skulker which can just move through everything and one-shot Zefr.

I've really had rotten luck getting willpower early in the battle instead of strength tiles.

The stalker disappears. It'll only be back when it one-shots someone, irritatingly.

This is more like it. Bersi can really lay down the pain now.

The skulker targets Folka and kinda ruins her day.

Bersi gets drumfired. It's kind of a hard counter to varl. Unless you can ignore strength damage, it'll maim your heavy hitters.

Really, the human units in this caravan are awful, and the varl get creamed by drumfire. Which happens here and soon enough the fight is down to Bersi and Sigbjorn.

Who, honestly, put up a pretty good effort.

But it's not enough and Bersi falls, losing the battle.

This was...unexpected. I lost this battle in my Rook campaign and Oli died. So I checked the game.

Turns out that if Oli has his lucky flask equipped as his item, he cheats death in this event. And if you send him off on his own, the dredge kill the flask but not him (he returns without the flask). So basically it was a free loss for us since I never unequipped Oli's flask.

Event #4: a snow-blocked pass.

For this battle we need people who can hit multiple targets. Don't necessarily need a lot of armor. We just need to work quickly.

Remember that fight earlier where we had to clear all the barricades?

This is a lot like that. Execpt the dredge are never-ending (and that 15/24 scourge is terrifyingly powerful). So we have to take out all the snow barriers.

In practice, this means Folka tanks as best she can while everyone else tempests and tries to clear out the snow.

Folka falls, but she bought our heroes enough time.

And not a moment too soon because dear god these guys can one-shot everyone now.

We clear out the last of the snow and run like hell.

The Old Ford is visible in the distance. If we can make it there, we can recuperate a bit.

If we can make it there.

: What are you getting at?
: Bah! Never mind the details! Let me take some fighters to handle this situation.
Per your votes...
: Don't make me regret this.
: "You're too young to have regrets. I've only had two in my life. One was sleeping too close to the fire in a great hall after eating eggs for twelve days straight. I'll tell you the second another time.
A dozen fighters take off with the war leader and disappear over a hill.

They don't return. We don't get attacked, at least.

We arrive at The Old Ford, one varl warleader fewer and about 70 fighters and clansmen lighter than we set out. A lot of death, but it could have been a lot worse.
: Gods. Of all the places to make a final stand, I bring us to the Old Ford - a human bridge that should've crumbled a hundred years ago.

: We...need...sleep. And water...
: These people us. Don't...attack them.

: Mercenaries, huh? You don't look worth a damn, let alone coin.
You reach for your axes but a few spearmen make clear you shouldn't.
: Easy. The last thing we need is to spill each other's blood before that dark wall or the dredge get their chance, eh?
Dredge. The word echoes in your head. "They...don't know what they're doing." The man makes a face and even Folka lifts her head enough to squint at you.

Bolverk and the rest of the Ravens are too exhausted to really have much say here.

And so we're treated to another Bellower dream!

: Darkness...Purple Lightning and a Dark Sun...what in the depths is this?

Before we can get any answers, we awaken.

You get to your feet, head pounding. "Where are the Ravens?" you ask. "I woke you first," he says, "but the others need to get up too. I let you sleep as long as I dared, but we're almost out of time." He motions to a side table and you find your axes undamaged. "Who are you and what do you want?" you ask.
: My name's Hadr, but that won't matter in a few hours. We came from Akur. We're the rearguard of the clans' army that went to challenge the king in Arberrang.
: Then what do you want from me?
: Well, I'm no battle leader. I'm just a skirmisher like all the rest here, and proud of myself for not running off already. Plain and simple: you know how to fight, so tell us what to do and we'll do it. We've got fighters who could use some tips or encouragement. Maybe we could build some stake-walls with parts of buildings? Up to you, but you don't have time to do much and no one's expecting miracles. Regardless of how this plays out, I'm glad you stumbled in here when you did.


Hey, he's alive! Good choice, everyone.

Still, a lot didn't.
In case you were all curious:
Sparr can't die in his event. If you send him off on his own or with fighters, all the fighters die and he straggles into the Old Ford just like Krumr just did. The dredge disarmed him and sent him on his way, and he feels awful that nobody even finds an old man like him a threat anymore.

The stonesinger can die in its event. Folka can kill it, or if you're not fast enough the stonesinger ends up in the battle right in the thick of things and can get killed. If it falls in battle, it dies--no injury.

Oli dies without his lucky flask, though I think he comes back with some of the men if you send him off with some fighters instead of totally on his own.

If Ekkill's in the caravan, he takes Oli's place and dies in all circumstances other than "you fight and win the battle."

So let's improve our numbers a bit before our last stand.

Not great, guys.

All I can think of is Ash training the peasants in Army of Darkness.

: They might take a few hits intended for us, so maybe.
: Good enough, I guess. I'm not sure five hundred varl would make much of a difference against all these deedge.

Really only one thing left to do: talk to Folka and make our peace with our last stand on the bridge.

Note that her nose is rebroken--it's a bit more purple and swollen. We did that to her saving the stonesinger.
: If you've got something to say, say it. We'll be dead before long.
: We don't have to be. We could leave. Right now.
: Whoever's after us would roll through here without slowing. We'd be caught in the open.
: Then we can leave that damned cart here. Let the dredge have it.
: I gave an oath to--

: Start acting like a Raven!
: Oh, I know - we're not supposed to feel things, right? We're not supposed to be scared when more dredge than anyone's ever seen are marching straight for us. OR when the constant sun is about to be blocked out by a wall of darkness full of warped things. It's just another day, right?
Her lip trembles and she looks away, trying to collect herself.
: We're not all bears, Bolverk. Or varl. Or whatever you've become.

: I'd kill them and take over. You want to try?
: Leading the company has never interested me or you'd have made a lesson of me a long time ago. But you know the others have always come to me for answers instead of having you rip their heads off. I just don't have any answers for them anymore. Not when they ask what's going on with you.
: There's a voice in my head, growing louder. I've been fighting to keep it quiet. Bellower's voice, probably.
: But Bellower's dead. His body...
: He's asleep. I think the arrow keeps him that way.
Folka nods. The conclusion doesn't seem too far-fetched for her.
: These dreams are things he's seen. The Valka did something to betray him.
: They were working with the Sundr?

: They did something. Something bad. I don't even think Zefr knows what they did.
The two of you look over at Zefr. The Valka stares into a fire, lost in thought.

: It means don't trust Valka.
: But Zefr said Juno was killed for controlling the minds of others. She could probably make people trust her.
: Not me--
A scout's horn interrupts you, signalling all fighters to the bridge.

You storm off to the fighting, building your rage with each step.

In a parallel to Banner Saga 1, you can guess what comes next.

Aaaand start cutscene.


You look awful, kid.

Oh. Probably because you're a dead mender possessed by Eyeless.

Thankfully everyone heals to full in Old Ford so we can bring the A team back.

: Don't be fooled. That isn't Nikels, but Eyeless!
...well, obviously, Zefr.

There's a trick to this battle: all the strongest enemies are 2x2 and stuck behind a huge wall of more dredge and also the bridge on Old Ford has some missing tiles--meaning the big guys need to walk all the way around.

And Eyeless in her normal state is terrifying. But controlling a mender...all she can really do is mend armor, and eventually she'll run out of willpower and just be controlling a human corpse with no magical power.

In other words: kill Eyeless/Nikels last.

I learned something valuable here: I cast Breeze on Krumr, then used Bersi to give Zefr another turn and cast Runic Gale. The idea was that then Krumr would go, have infinite movement, collect all the powerups, and just mash enemies into paste.

It turns out you can't do that, though. Any buff applied by Zefr wears off at the start of her next turn. So Breeze goes away as she's casting Runic Gale. A pity.

Still, I can charge Bolverk into combat and start damaging the big guys. So long as I maintain his armor and have him get in the first strike, he's not really in much danger.

I use Breeze to get Bolverk into the enemy backranks where he can chop up slingers.

Soon enough, everyone is dead except Eyeless/Nikels, and he's out of willpower. All he can do is chip 1 armor away at a time.

Which, thanks to Dytch having the Pipe Plant (+3 will on rest), I can outpace. I rest for a very long time, getting everyone back to full willpower and full armor.

And then use Cull the Weak on Nikels so that Bolverk can get first strike against Eyeless.

She's still really strong now, but I have turn advanage and at 19 strength she can't one-shot people. I can chip her armor down and wreck her with my varl.

And then I make a terrible mistake. I dash Folka up to tank the hit that Bolverk's about to take.

And forget that Eyeless does knockback on hit. And disease.

Bolverk gets knocked back--as does Folka because she was tanking with her special ability. Putting all of my units adjacent to one another. EVERYONE gets diseased and will take +1 damage per turn for the rest of the fight.

So I hurry up while I still have strength. Dytch un-stealths to wreck Eyeless' armor.

And Krumr gets on the Sundr scoreboard with a massive crit. Iver 2, Krumr 1, everyone else 0.

However, instead of dying, she starts casting something. And some smaller stonesingers and gloomwarden elites are summoned.

Round 2!

Despite my being diseased, if I can act quickly I can probably take care of things. So...
: On me! Today, we kill a Sundr!

Bolverk might not be himself, but the Ravens love this shit regardless.

Oh. Turns out clearing the field and advancing all the way to the end of the bridge made this easier. I could see how this would be a challenge had we "killed" Eyeless while the field was still littered with dredge and we were halfway across the map. But we can just walk right up to Eyeless and kill her in a second.

Which is exactly what we do. Screw even dealing with the other dredge.

Your mind fills with images of Eyvind on the tower. Of dredge twisting, warping in darkness. Shaking. Slobbering. Roaring. You fight to regain control of your mind.
OK yeah Eyvind fucked up big time.
The dredge begin moving south along the river, not as an army but as people fleeing danger. Many of them start crossing the Old Ford bridge.

Goodbye, Folka.

Goodbye, Ravens.

It's time to go with Zefr to Manaharr with the Bellower cart. And get some damned answers.

...which will have to wait until Bolverk's next chapter!

Because while he's on one side of Arberrang...

Alette is on the other.