The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 28: 16-1: The True Hero Comes Reluctantly


Well, we're here. We've reached the end of the world.

The Banner Saga 3 was backed on Kickstarter, and even though it seems like it did pretty well, I've seen an interview where they said they had to scrap 7 months of work. I think they didn't get a chance to do quite as much as they wanted to. It's still an incredibly solid game, and in my opinion a satisfying conclusion to the Saga.

The music and art and story are still top-notch. Just...some places feel a little short. In terms of text, this is by far the biggest game of the series. In terms of playtime, it's the shortest--a lot of that text is contingent upon a branching storyline. I suspect that's part of the problem here: their actually making choices matter means that by the time you're two games deep into the series, you're doing a lot of development work for things that only a small segment of your players will ever see.

They just released Survival Mode (I'll show it off for both 2 and 3 when we get done with all of this) so I'm hoping they maybe do a little DLC or something.

I'm going to do a bit of save editing to make sure we see as much as we can in our playthrough. There's a design decision here that I really don't agree with, and I'll elaborate more when we get to it.

Still, if ever you wanted to play a game where you dread every decision and fear for your characters, this is the game for you. They nailed it with the drama, and every death here is even more gutting than before.

But maybe we can do this without anyone dying! It's...possible...I suppose.

As with the previous game, there's a recap video for anyone interested. I suggest watching it.


Our title card. Eyvind, you look like hell. I guess going crazy and destroying the Tower of Manaharr took a lot out of you.

As with before, we can start a new game. But why would we do that? This is Alette's journey.

I apologize that I can't link you to the opening video. The only place I've found it is in a "all videos in The Banner Saga" clip, and you'll blow straight into spoilertown if I link there.
: We were as far from safety as we could have been; me, Rook, and Alette, in our small town of Skogr.

: So much has changed since then.

: We travelled the length of the world to escape serpents and dredge, and still it was not enough.

: What I do now is madness.

: Somewhere in the darkness, I've been told, lurks an answer to all our desperate questions.

: I will make sure it sees the light of day. All I care about now is that the friends - no, the family I fought to deliver to Arberrang - live to see the sun move again.

Since it's not totally obvious from the screenshots: looks like Iver, Juno, and Eyvind caught up with the surviving Ravens at the Old Ford. Juno did something to the globe of darkness, which opened up a passage. She cast some sort of light spell that allowed the small band into the darkness.

If you've ever played Mass Effect 2's suicide mission, it's a lot like the part where Samara/Jack/A STUPID CHOICE does the biotic bubble to keep you safe from the seeker swarms.

As always, though, we're not going to get to see the journey immediately. It's time to see what Alette's up to.


The darkness creeps ever closer to Arberrang.

: Already? How?
You're exhausted. Though the King has given you sanctuary in Arberrang, it came with a condition: do your part to repel the siege at the walls. A siege being waged not by dredge, but a man you helped escape from Boersgard: Rugga.
: Rugga's loyalists are already back, and they've got a battering ram! Alette?

...we don't need the "I've never played this game before" choice.
: If we were still out there, we'd be fighting the same war they are.
: There have to be other ways. Attacking the city you want protection from makes no sense! There's thousands of refugees out there, but these's only one reason they're waging a war.
: Rugga.
: And he watches safely from a war tent while his bannermen assault the gates.
: That man poisons everything he touches. He's tried to take the throne in Arberrang before, the rumor goes. I almost can't blame the king for leaving him to the crows.
: But the rest of them don't deserve to suffer for it.
You hear a chorus of shouts from the gates, and a resounding creaking of wood. Arberrang's guards rush to their stations.
: They've broken through the front gate!
: Hurry! We can't let them get a foothold.

And so immediately, we're thrown into the fray.

Except...holy crap everyone is level 8 if they weren't there before. The level cap for The Banner Saga 3 is 15. Anyone that was lower than level 8 gets promoted to level 8 (though their stat points are unallocated). Unfortunately, anyone who had a CHOICE of abilities at level 6 has their ability chosen for them. This is why I leveled Gunnulf and Hakon to 6 last game: it gives Hakon forge ahead (instead of tempest) and Gunnult sundering impact (instead of forge ahead). We want as many people capable of spinning and giving extra turns as possible. So our Hakon and Gunnulf are properly statted.

Mogr got kind of a rubbish skill, but with Egil still alive we don't really need him tanking. The archers leveled weirdly; only Yrsa is particularly good now with her normal Slag and Burn + Bird of Prey (attack from distance).

Oh, and the bug with horseborn is resolved so we can bring any horseborn we want into battle and not worry about them missing abilities.

Also, now Ludin has a full beard. And pretty darn good stats to be honest. We give him the dodge armor and dodge strength talents--if he's going to stay alive he's going to need to just get some lucky misses here and there.

Yrsa's whole thing is just slagging and burning everything, which means she needs a lot of willpower. This'll do.

Nothing really else to report on the existing characters. So let's check out Alette...

Alette can now level to 11. And "choose a heroic title." This is the new leveling stuff of BS3. Just as 2 brought "talents," now we have heroic titles.

Heroic titles are incredibly powerful bonuses that you can only give to one hero in the campaign. If that hero dies, so too does the title. Our choices:

I'll let you all vote on some of these, but with Alette's Overwatch we are taking Bloodletter on her. It's a no brainer. Now she'll not only attack anything that comes into range, but she'll put a bleed effect on it.

Death's Messenger: works great on things that attack multiple times per turn. Oddleif's Rain of Arrows, Oli's Axe Storm, and either thrasher brother's Bloody Flail are perhaps the best choices here.

Monster Killer should go on someone who gets a lot of kills. Unwritten, but VERY IMPORTANT: the strength bonus here can go over your normal cap. It's entirely possible to have a Monster Killer get stronger and stronger the longer a battle goes.

Oath-Maker: good for anyone that does fighting AND relies on willpower. A spearman or archer might be a good choice here.

The Foolish: Good for anyone who wades into the fray AND can somehow avoid being hit. We could possibly make this work on Folka. Or we could give it to one of our Tempest varl and just pray that they can dodge retaliatory strikes.

The Forsaken: This one's good for someone who attacks from distance with a lot of willpower. Seems like a good archer or female horseborn title.

The Hopeful: This one doesn't do much for the unit itself, but anyone standing next to it gets some powerful bonuses. Seems like a natural fit for Egil.

The Last Standing: Good for anyone who falls in battle a lot so we can avoid the injury penalty. But honestly, this is not a great title.

The Mountain: Good for anyone on the front lines. Strength resist is always good, and the additional strength and armor is helpful too.

The Unbent: Great for anyone on the front lines. No additional stats, but also has nothing to fear from poison, fire, drumfire, warped dredge willpower strikes, and so on. Likely best used for someone who needs to stay alive for a LONG time.

The Unmoved: A more combat-oriented version of The Unbent.

The Whisper: Great for avoiding attacks (if even you get attacked). Most useful on a unit that needs to not get attacked. You'd think that'd mean "put this on your soft archers," but you can keep archers from being attacked by just putting them in the back lines. As ridiculous as it sounds, The Whisper is best deployed on a tempest varl so he can start putting the hurt on enemies without worrying about retaliation.

The Wolf: Trades a bit more damage for the dodge chance of The Whisper. Largely the same best use case applies though.

Twice Born: Gives you a get out of death free card. Best used for someone who doesn't need stats to be effective. A thrasher with high dodge or a mender is a good choice here.

Behold, Alette the Bloodletter. All who face her shall despair. (I only put 1 point into the title for now. I don't need to spend the renown for Rank 5 and you'll see why in a moment.)

Back to the walls so we can repel this attack. Canary's still in our party, so whatever happened at the end of The Banner Saga 2 doesn't seem to've been a betrayal.

Worth noting that not all the varl were following Hakon. Things have gone enough to hell that stragglers to Arberrang never got through the walls and they want in. Desperately.

And they have a siege engine.

The enemies are pretty threatening, but nothing is really threatening thanks to Alette. I picked some bad units, though. I'm going to keep them behind the barricades thanks to Overwatch knockback, meaning all my melee units will be kind of bored.

I eventually get tired of waiting and send Ludin and Aleo out to finish things off.

It almost worked, if not for you. The enemy pulls back, leaving you amongst the groans of wounded and dying.

"No more," she swears, dashing off toward Rugga's war tent across the battlefield. The retreating and tired enemy are slow to respond. "Odd, stop!" you shout, to deaf ears. The others give you a quick look before chasing after her, expecting the worst.

Oddleif is forced into our war party. No matter. We'll drop Canary for her.


: If you wanted to talk, you could have asked.

The enemy backbiter knocks over the brazier, starting a fire.

Egil dashes forward--we need to get away from that fire.

Because it spreads REALLY quickly--quick enough that Hakon can't even get out of the way before his turn starts.

Ludin impales a raider and kicks him back into the flames.

Egil, though? With his new item that gives aggro AND strength resist, he can stand in fire all day and not take damage. He uses Guts to knock more raiders through flame. Screw his stone wall. He can tank without the ability now.

Unfortunately, Hakon is taking things badly this fight. That fire damage really put him off on the wrong foot.

Hakon goes down a moment before Ludin impales the last raider. All with Rugga watching calmly.

Well, at least nobody died.

Come on, this isn't even a choice.
His nose crumples beneath your fist like a dry leaf, and he falls to a knee, groaning. Oddleif keeps an arrow pointed at his bristling clansmen, who move aside as you lead a bloodied, gasping Rugga to the guards at the gate. Rugga is clapped in chains, and you wait.

You spend a long, silent period with Oddleif. "I'd do it again," she finally whispers, referring to her reckless attack on Rugga's tent. Hours later, a message arrives. The gates are slowly drawn open, to your great surprise.

: Welcomes? After all this killing?

: You have my attention, for dealing with Rugga. It seems your reputation has some truth to it. King Meinolf has personally asked for you to be his honored guest. I've been ordered to escort you to a gathering at the great hall, along with this cur.

: Good to see you too, Petrus. A captain, now? You've been busy.

: What made the king decide to open the gates to everyone?
: I can't speak for King Meinolf, but if these people had never joined banners with this snake, they'd have found safety a lot sooner.
: Another of Meinolf's lies.
: That reminds me, I need to find a gag. King Meinolf will speak to you...both...when we reach the great hall. And do me a favor: I've got enough to deal with, ushering in all these new refugees...

And so after all that, Rugga is back inside the walls of the city he once tried to take control of. In chains, and with a broken nose. But inside. (Had we sided with Rugga, we'd have led the charge on the gates instead of repelled one.) Either way, we end up outside the gates and Petrus has to let us in because Meinolf has a change of heart when it comes to the refugees.

Arberrang's outer ring is...crowded.
: Look at how many people there are already!
: There's about to be a whole lot more.
: I don't care for how many looks we're getting.

His mother grabs him by the arm, blurting apologies. A man with a short banner of his own approaches. "Excuse my wife and son," he says. "There isn't anyone in Arberrang who hasn't heard of you."

: Any allies are welcome in these times.
The man claps you on the shoulder, and many other clans promise to sew their banners to yours as you travel towards the great hall.
This gets us 100 more clansmen and 10 more fighters. Also: all the portraits in this section are from kickstarter backers that threw a TON of money at the game.

It's looting, but heck. We're the only thing standing between this city and complete chaos. Might as well try to make ourselves stronger.
Here and there a piece of someone's old life catches your eye.

Good lord, what luck. All 3 of these items are incredibly good. You've seen the Clasp of Kyn and The Blackfish before. Yrsa's gonna use The Blackfish, we'll put the Clasp of Kyn on our first non-Alette level 10 (+3 talent ranks is REALLY strong), and the Miniature Carving gives a ton of break and strength resist.

We're probably not going to get a chance to resupply anymore, so we burn out all our renown at the store. There will be chances for more renown.

: Keep your eyes open. Some of these people were ready to kill us just hours ago.

Ahead, more horseborn rear up at spear-point. Canary and her companions thrust weapons and words back at their accusers, unintimidated.

Crap. I guess Canary is still a problem?

Wait, no. It's people that are still pissed off over what we learned at the end of The Banner Saga 2.

Let's deal with this then. Canary caused this mess. She can help resolve it.

: Kill the rabble rousers in blue and the rest may flee.

You can do this fight in a couple of ways. You can kill everyone.
Or you can listen to Ludin's advice and take out the 2 backbiters that are leading the riot. It's not that hard--they're melee units and will come to you.

Egil's gonna be completely unkillable soon. Well, in battle, anyway.

With The Blackfish, Yrsa can break 10 armor per turn. It's nuts.

Egil downs one agitator.

Alette sees to the other. We get a TON of renown for doing this the "peaceful" way.

: Why men attack? Why so much shout?
: Everyone thinks your horseborn pillaged Tolir.
: This is important, Canary. Is it true?
: City to east? Yes, kill many man, take many thing. You need more?
Oddleif's mouth opens but finds no words.

: Many food, many weapons. Bring to you. You eat. You take.
: You slaughtered them and gave their things to us?
Canary looks from Oddleif to you, puzzled, then back to Oddleif. Her front hooves pound the dirt and she gestures in the air.
: You kill at walls. You kill on road. Man. Horseborn. Every.
: No, that's...damn. It's not the same thing. She doesn't get the difference. They must have done this even before we met them. How are we going to explain this away?
: There's nothing to explain. We either defend them or we don't.

Horseborn ways are not our ways, but that doesn't change the fact she slaughtered innocents. Do we:
A.) Look past it. She and her people are part of our clan now, and we have bigger things to worry about than previous grievances.
B.) Banish her (and possibly other horseborn). Juno says we're responsible for holding civilization together in Arberrang. Surely this won't go over well if we let Canary off for it.