The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 27: 15-1: In Fear Quake All


Per your vote, we're going to side with King Meinolf. The 2000 members of our caravan will find safety. The thousands more outside the walls, can't save everyone.

: My banner, my people, are my only concern.

Hey, that worked out well.

Sorry, Rugga. I tried to drop you in a ravine earlier, by the way.

Without warning, Rugga pulls his cloak pin dagger and lunges at King Meinolf who shifts slightly, the blade only piercing his side.
We lose about 200 clansmen, fighters, and varl to Rugga's ambush. It's avoidable--if we'd set up defenses with Hakon instead of going to confront the people harassing our horseborn and varl. But I didn't know we were going to side with Rugga so I took the choice that'd get me something useful either way y'all voted.
Before anyone can react, Rugga slinks behind his fighters who are charing you, Hakon, and King Meinolf. "Everyone to the walls!" you shout. "Protect the king and the varl!" Hakon nods his appreciation just before the clamor of war envelops you both.

Also, had we sided with Rugga here, Hakon would've pulled his banner from ours. Alette did just get done telling Hakon "no matter, what, protect your people," and that means fighting Alette in order to get to the safety of Arberrang's walls. Then we'd have had to fight (I don't think kill, but we can experiment with that when we reach the end of the saga and start doing alternate choices) Hakon, Ludin, Yrsa, and so on.

Worth noting: if Ludin is dead at this point in the game, Meinolf doesn't offer the varl safety behind his walls. In which case siding with Rugga is the choice that keeps Hakon on your side.

It's time to level Egil to 8 (we don't have the renown for it, but I at least want to get him started) so that he can use that awesome new item. We select "Guts" as his second ability, as shown here. It's Ekkill's special move, but Ekkill died a while ago and since we didn't recruit him you never got to see it.

Canary, meanwhile, joins at level 8. She has a max of 16 strength and can attack from range. That's, uh...really good. But her stat distribution is pretty crappy and until we can get her to 10 she's not going to be as strong as I would like.

: Just a flesh wound...though I feel...odd. Depths take Rugga! Rally the troops!

Meinolf and his guards depart, leaving us to deal with Rugga's fighters. Note how other folks are already doing this on the sidelines. And some poor guardsman got impaled on a post.

Nothing of particular note here. The enemy is a bunch of kragsmen and raiders, with Dagr leading them. He has unspectacular stats.

The worst kragsmen units are their spearmen and archers. Neither of which are here; we're fine.

Hakon one-shots this backbiter. Crit on varl is pretty ridiculous.

Alette is overwatching anything that comes down the center, and Hakon is just regularly one-shotting anything that tries to come up the flanks.

Dagr dies trying to hit Aleo. Alette gives him a face full of overwatch for his trouble. We clean up the rest without much issue.

By the time your caravan is inside Arberrang's outer wall, the gate is mostly compromised. Rugga's forces are on your heels, and they brought bears.
But Rugga had more than just that handful of fighters. He was serious about starting a war to get into Arberrang. And now that we're in Arberrang that means we have to repel an army.

Screw the tactics, obviously. Not letting anyone else get killed.
: You heard him! Charge!
The roar of battle swells to deafening levels. You focus on the drum beat that is your heart, ready your weapon, and push forward to deliver death.

At long last, Egil isn't just completely defensive. Since Guts does strength damage plus 1 tile per square moved, we'll max his ample strength out. We also maxed out his armor break and gave him the deflect talent--now in addition to his shield wall he can just ignore some armor attacks anyway.

The wall isn't holding.

It's really worth pointing out all the effort they went into for this background.

The drawn map is much larger than where we'll actually fight.

The outside of Arberrang is already a killing field of peasants, raiders, bears, kragsmen,'s a mess.

It's like a Where's Waldo of of everything going to hell.

We've got peasants behind our barricades that we need to try and save. These are our bannermen.

The fight itself has 3 scary units: the 2 war bears and the spearman in the middle, "Urmas Bearlord."

The bears are largely immune to Alette's overwatch, too. It only knocks back on strength attacks of 3 or more, and because bears have the ability to take armor damage before strength starts to decline, she can't knock them back.

Meaning Egil's gonna have to do some work this battle.

Also we get King Meinolf and one of his guards as controllable. Meinolf is poisoned and will take 1 strength damage per turn. I don't know what happens if he goes down in this fight nor do I care to find out. He'll stay well out of the fray.

Given that you have a status called "Rugga's Poison," I'm gonna go with "yes."
: Protect the king!

Urmas has other ideas.

He tries to use pig sticker on Egil, but I mean...the kid tanked Bellower. You think he's gonna let some dumb kragsman do damage?

Unfortunately, Egil doesn't get the attention of the other bear, who goes for Ro'Ech instead. That's fine, though: Ro'Ech can move after attacking so he can do some hit and run.

A wounded Ro'Ech also makes a great target for Aleo's "tale worth telling" ability, and I move Ro'Ech out of harm's way. The bear will need to close ranks to hurt him, and with this much missing armor, an Alette overwatch shot will proc a large enough puncture bonus to nullify him.

Like so.

Alette has Lucky Shot, but it doesn't always work. The heavy-armored Urmas walks right past Egil, shrugs off Alette's overwatch, and puts a hurt on Hakon.

Hakon, wounded as he may be, returns the favor.

Guts does damage AND knockback. If the knockback moves someone through overwatch range, Alette will take a shot. Like so. So the young couple have their first teamkill.

Canary has the flank dealt with just fine. She poisons anything that gets too close.

Egil uses Guts to finish off the last combatant.

: Brave fighting out there, should...
King Meinolf is panting and bracing himself on a knee while grabbing his side where Rugga stabbed him.

His hand gestures to a great many things before he gasps and falls to the ground. Menders arrive and take him away.

: I'm...I'm glad we're still alive through all of this, but...
: I know.
: We fought so hard to get here. For what?
: Even making it inside Arberrang's walls feels hollow now.
: It wasn't supposed to be like this. We were going to save everybody.
: At least Hakon and the varl are still with us.
Oddleif's eyes look as empty as you feel as she slowly glances around.
: What now?
: Now? I'd really like to find some place to fall asleep and wake up to discover this was all a bad dream.
Oddleif nods her agreement.
: But we've got to prepare for Rugga's retaliation. He'll keep trying to get in. And then there's the Darkness. Juno said we have to hold out until they finish what they set out to do.

: She said to hold on until the Darkness breaks.
: Until the...they are going to stop that Darkness themselves?

Oddleif seems to take strength from your resolve. She takes a deep breath and her eyes focus on a man running toward you.

Tolir was where Alette (and Rugga) both sent scouts to in order to resupply after the disaster in the Old Wood. Now we know what happened to them.

And who in particular was responsible.

But we'll have to deal with Canary's likely betrayal later, because it's time for a POV switch!

The darkness has crept even closer. Now half the Old Wood is in it.

Wait, Iver? What happened to Bolverk? Bolverk and Zefr were going to Manaharr. Iver was supposed to be stopping the Darkness with Eyvind and Juno...

Outside the tower of Manaharr, purple lightning is streaking everywhere.

Inside the tower of Manaharr, it's mostly streaking all over this poor Valka.

Eyvind has a new staff. It seems, uh...a lot more powerful than his last one.

And Eyvind seems a LOT angrier than we've ever seen him.

There's another dead Valka over there in the corner. What has Eyvind done?

: We hoped Valka Dusi wouldn't be foolish enough to attack us.

: We hoped you would see reason.
: Reason, yes. What was your reason...for breaking the world?

: You didn't tell me all of this was your fault.
Juno looks at you but says nothing.
: You've recruited Yngvar, yet...kept him ignorant of your actions?
: Even you have no idea what you're talking about, Dusi.
: Call it a hunch, but whatever is breaking this world...stems from the source of our weaving. You, Juno, were sentenced to death for...for manipulating minds. You knew it was forbidden.
Valka Dusi coughs and small flecks of blood hit the stone floor.
: But you were helping Eyvind to...what? Become a god?
Juno says nothing, her anger apparent.
: Become a god? This doesn't make any sense.
: And now this...Darkness. Eyvind...what did you unleash to bring her back?
Eyvind gasps and looks strained. A few stones drop from the walls.
: Our cause broke Council laws, but that does not make it wrong. You could have realized the importance of our work. You should have.
: And you two should have stopped...stopped your curiosities when the council warned you. You'd still have your life. Have each other. Do you even see what you've become?
Juno's confidence vanishes at the question. You have never seen a Valka's tears before now.
: And the varl - are you threatening to control his mind too? If I were you, Yngvar, I'd--
The large door to the Valka's Hall shakes from a great impact, then shatters.

What's this, then?


Oh, hell. There's Bolverk. And at the worst possible time.
The floor and walls are now glowing, floating, and breaking apart. Another Valka enters the room. She looks concerned for the barely conscious Dusi and mortified by Juno.

Bolverk's rage is consuming him and he is spitting more than speaking.
: Is that Bellower's faen body?
: Not just his body, I fear. Bolverk's mind is...not his own.
Bolverk looks at you and his eyes go wide before a cold hatred settles into his stare.

: And I know you've lost your damn mind.
: I've seen things from the other side. The dredge lives warped and ruined by the two you stand with. They lay waste to everything they're near!
: Bolverk, I can exp--

: No!
The fear in her voice is infinite. Eyvind reacts to her by screaming, and the whole tower pulses with crackling energy, shaking violently.
: Iver, I'll help Eyvind and hold off Dusi. Kill Bolverk! You're the only one who can!
Bolverk growls deeply and stands to his full height, brandishing his axes. He looks stronger than ever.

You step forward, but feel the air thicken around you for a moment, stopping you. Then, it suddenly releases its grip.
: No, Zefr! Now, you will do as I say!
The Valka Zefr looks shocked by Juno's control, but you waste no time in charging Bolverk. You slam your head into him with tremendous force, sending him reeling across the room.

This is the final battle of The Banner Saga 2: a 1v1 duel between Iver and Bolverk.
Both characters have whatever stats and items that they ended their previous chapters with.
Iver, thanks to Juno being a mind-controlling crazy, has a passive assist from Zefr. Zefr will cast Breeze on Iver so that he can freely move around the battlefield. If we hadn't gotten Zefr to level 6, she'd cast Runic Gale instead--which is not nearly as helpful--and in fact is actively detrimental if Bolverk gets to the tiles first.

If you failed to level up Iver, or had a monstrously powerful Bolverk, this fight can be nearly unwinnable.
We did not fail to level up Iver, and Bolverk is merely regular levels of powerful because we lost enough fights that I could never comfortably get him to level 10 and put a Clasp of Kyn on him. He's dangerous with the Gem of Vez'nan: if he gets in the first strike he's very likely to crit. But because Iver has Breeze, there is a 0% chance of Bolverk getting in the first strike.

We are going to kill him.

Oh, Bolverk has the "Bellower's Dream" passive: which restores 4 strength and 4 armor per round. That's...extremely dangerous. But we can get around it.

: For all of my people who fell to your schemes, you will pay!

He roars, and we see the ghost of Bellower.
: All YOUR people?
: Zefr is under my control, but Bolverk is possessed by Bellower!
: Bellower? Seems I'll get payback for my arm after all!
: Raze and thousands of others will be avenged!

As Bolverk and Iver close the distance, little lightning square appear. Eyvind can't control his powers--the field is going to have stray lightning strikes every turn.

This really does make the difference.

Because Iver can walk wherever he wants, he is at zero risk of hitting lightning. If you can knock Bolverk into lightning (using Battering Ram), it'll cause him to take damage and remove the Bellower passive. He'll still want to kill us, but he won't be doing it with 4/4 regen.

If we didn't have that degree of mobility, we'd be in a lot of trouble and the fight would be a coinflip. Or perhaps favor Bellower.

Iver headbuts Bolverk into a lightning strike.

It does very little damage, but it removes his monstrously powerful buff.

He crits Iver for 2 damage--no matter.

Iver uses 3 exertion points, crits, and one-shots Bolverk, killing him.

I don't know if he actually dropped the Gem of Vez'Nan or if it's a weird artifact from Survival Mode. If it's in our party next game I guess we'll know one way or the other.

Beating Bolverk/Bellower is something of a pyrrhic victory, though.

Well, at least we're rid of Bellower. He can go have not-dead dreams at the bottom of the ocean.

Meanwhile, Eyvind has completely lost control.

Going for the Bilbo Baggins crazy eyes.

He's really angry, has a powerful new staff, and is completely out of control.

In a powerful scream that'd make a saiyan jealous, Eyvind glows with purple light.

And the Tower of Manaharr, a magical wonder of construction akin to the bridge of Einartoft...

Is no more.

Alette begins narrating.
: In a flash, threads unwind.

: Our intentions gone, our fates laid bare.

: We are forced to change, pulled in new directions.

: For good or ill, we cannot know.

: How far do the echoes of our struggles reach? What can we expect from our efforts in this breaking world?

: Our answers...

: ...the reasons for our journey...

: ...lay just beyond these walls.

...and that's a wrap for the middle chapter. We've reached the finale of the trilogy.

A lot happened in that last update:
1.) No wonder Iver wandered to the easternmost point of the map. Every damned Valka recognizes him by sight.
2.) We have confirmation that this is all Eyvind and Juno's fault. Well, mostly Eyvind's. Juno was just doing something shady when it came to mind control. Eyvind brought her back to life, and that's when all hell broke loose.
3.) Juno and Eyvind got something (maybe that staff?) from the Tower of Manaharr, and now Juno is interacting with the expanding globe of Darkness that is surely going to kill everything if left unchecked.
4.) Juno is strong enough to mind control another Valka with ease.
5.) Bolverk's alive again. Sorta. The maimed Serpent brought him back to some form of life. Whether he's himself, controlled by Bellower, controlled by the Serpent, or some combination of the three is unknown.
6.) King Meinolf is poisoned and never had a plan to deal with any of this anyway.
7.) Rugga is very much alive and will likely try to breach Arberrang with the tens of thousands outside the city.
8.) I think Canary is "yellow and blue" and lied to us. She almost certainly is responsible for killing all our scouts before we met her.

In conclusion, everything is bad! But not as bad as it could have been. The game doesn't end if Iver loses his duel to Bellower/Bolverk. It just means that you have to flee the Tower of Manaharr in a hurry--and don't get a chance to throw Bellower into the ocean. So when Bolverk awakens in the rubble, he yanks out Bellower's arrow and revives the immortal Sundr.