The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 33: 18-3: The Contest


Welp; I don't think anyone wanted an outcome other than this.

: Wait...what if he's right, about Arberrang turning on itself?

: No more chances.
You drop Rugga, and feel his neck snap beneath your boot heel. For better or worse, it's done.
As you depart, an excited man runs to meet you. "They're ready with the barrels!" he shouts.

As we head outside, we catch sight of Ludin. He's not dead; he just wasn't in the caravan. For good reason, as it turns out.

: I was with him when he died. He did not go easily.
You get the distinct feeling their time together was strained.
: I thought we should, uh, clear the air about...

: Believe me, I've been thinking of little else since we arrived. But if you're worried about me seizing control, don't be. As far as I'm concerned, nothing changes. Your banner is yours. The varl and horseborn make their own decisions. If you'd like, we can discuss it further.

: I'm sorry your father has passed.
: I suppose I am as well. I know that sounds strange. There was always a sharp edge to him. He wanted to be a ruler, not a leader, if you catch the difference. I always remembered this feeling he'd give me, that he truly believed he deserved to rule men. I think passing it down to me was just a way to continue glorifying himself.
: Was his change of heart with the refugees a surprise to you?
: Was it a real change of heart, or did he hope it would encourage me to take the crown? I don't know. Doesn't matter. I've chosen my own path.
: So you're just giving up your birthright?
: Not too long ago there was no such thing. We still cling to these banners because men follow deeds. Not blood. My father wanted to change that. I've come to disagree. Don't look so surprised.
: It's just that you had a certain reputation, prince Ludin. What changed?

: Seeing how people live. I know. It sounds cliche. For a long time I was jealous of how others looked to you instead of me, but over time, well...

: You did it out of necessity, not privilege. It's a burden I don't envy anymore. Never feels like we've changed until we look back at what idiots we used to be.
: Some of us, anyway.
: But we've all been through some changes, haven't we?
: What do you intend to do now?
: I still have some privileges as Meinolf's son. I intend to use them. When they learned of the darkness, my father ordered every mender in Manaharr to Arberrang. They still answer to me. I intend to find a solution that will protect us from the darkness.
: How's that going?
: Like a fat man coming home from the mead hall.
: Slow and stumbling. The menders are little more than bricklayers and nurses, to be honest. The Valka are another story, but they all stayed in Manaharr against my father's wishes. Nobody knows what they've been up to, but I hope our goals are the same. We can't exactly go and check...
: Still, at least someone is working on it. I won't take any more of your time.
: I'm glad you found me, though. It was good to talk. Listen, even if I wanted to rule now, it would be a struggle. Arberrang needs fewer struggles, not more.
: And fewer people trying to rule.
: What about when this is all over? Arberrang still needs a leader.

: Ah, not that I mean to my king. Uh, necessarily.
You catch Yrsa silently rolling her eyes.
: I'll consider leadership another time. Maybe. It will be the decision of the people, and right now they look to you.
: The smart ones, anyway.
: Let me worry about the menders for now. It sounded like they're ready to go against Ruin. I'll gladly stand with you in the fight if you need me.

You imagine a resemblance between the two you hadn't seen before, but you leave it unsaid, and turn your thoughts to the battle to come.

So...Ludin. The entitled asshole prince has come a long way. With great beard comes great humility, I guess. I don't know if there's a romance option with him, but Alette is interested in Egil anyway, so we're not going to look for such an option if it exists.

Also, if Ludin's dead here Yrsa comes right out and says it since there's nobody alive for the secret to matter anymore: she's Ludin's half-sister and Meinolf's illegitimate child.

Lastly, if the Valka all stayed at Manaharr, they're all dead. Manaharr is overtaken by the darkness now, and Eyvind and Juno probably took care of any Valka when they raided the tower at the end of The Banner Saga 2. Ludin and Alette don't know that, but this is the game's way of telling you "there's not a solution coming from the Valka; all your hopes rely on Iver and the Ravens.

It's time to slay a Sundr. Again.

: That must be every oil barrel in the city. Couldn't have gotten half this many without the varl.

The anchor comes again, a dark streak. The horseborn are already gone, pulling along the netting. Where the obsidian hook punches through the wall, they heave the barrels over top. The net catches, and is pulled back toward Ruin.

An explosion rips into the battlefield, rattling the earth and engulfing the Sundr, blowing dirt and dust into the sky. Cheers erupt spontaneously all the way down the walls. Even the dredge have stopped their assault to watch.

Oddleif stifles an ecstatic gasp when she realizes what Canary intends. You scramble onto horseborn backs, soon finding yourself racing through hordes of dredge you would have crashed against on foot. But the dredge come in endless waves, eventually slowing you to a crawl. They surround you from all sides, until all you can see are black stone and yellow eyes.

Then, over the din of battle, a drumming rhythm draws your attention. To your right, a cloud of dust is rising, approaching swiftly, until it collides with the army of dredge, tossing bodies into the air.

This couldn't have gone better. If you don't still have the horseborn and the varl (minus Fasolt, anyway), you can't get to Ruin right off the bat. Instead, you have to fight multiple waves and you are significantly weakened by the time you reach her. Still winnable, of course, but Ruin is insanely strong and will start this fight wounded because we did the oil barrel trick. That'll give us a chance to close the distance and hopefully maim her before she starts one-shotting our units.

Hakon, the varl king, has seen one Sundr slain (well, "slain," but he doesn't know that) firsthand in his life. He's going for a second.

Another veteran of the Battle of Boersgard, Egil, will tempt fate a second time. How that metal shield hasn't been dented into being unrecognizable, I don't know, but the kid is still kicking.

The last time Alette killed a Sundr, she lost her father. Let's hope things go better for her this time around.

This is Petrus' city. He's the only reason we've maintained order, by and large.

Honestly? Ludin's a little outclassed at this point and spearmasters are tough to make work. But, dammit, he wants to help. And under the circumstances, how can we say no?

Canary murdered the clansmen of many of the people we're protecting now. She doesn't see it that way, but this is a chance for redemption. Varl, man, and horseborn will unite to stop the dredge from sacking the last sanctuary left in the world.


The explosion from the oil wrecked a good chunk of the battlefield. Ruin is, essentially a slinger Sundr the same way Bellower was a stoneguard and Eyeless a stonesinger. And she's LUDICROUSLY dangerous.

And tough to get to--in addition to the fire hazards on the map, there's debris everywhere. We can destroy it, but it'll take some time--and it means that Hakon will have some trouble getting to the fight.

The rest of the units are pretty dangerous, save for the nearest 2 grunts. The skulkers are not directly dangerous, but if they stop our heavy hitters in their tracks, that's a problem.

Ruin's max stats are an insane 25 armor and 23 strength. She's wounded right now, but is regenerating. If she reaches full strength, she can pretty much one-shot (or mangle) any of our units at will--and do so from LOOOOOONG range.

Somehow, she's not the strongest unit on the field.

Oh, right, there was that dust cloud right when we got here.

It's a horseborn!

Two horseborn! that...?

Down goes 1 dredge.

And another.

The only voiced line since the prologue of Banner Saga 1, delivered amazingly well. Sorry I can't find a video that doesn't have some greasy nerd in the background.
: It's Ubin!

Scrivener is back, and apparently he's just as badass as everyone says he was back in the day. Krumr's hasn't won the "oldest varl" contest just yet, it would seem.

Ubin is, well...awesome. 16/16 stats means he can give as good as he gets. He gets Tempest. His passive, "Stronger Together," allows him to have a dumb slogan that's part of an inept effort which will cause him to lose a gimme election to a fascist piece of shit boost the attack of allies and himself as people stand around him.

And his other active, Reveal Weakness? It's like Rook's Mark Prey, only it can be used from range (and also is a 50/50 shot of allies doing strength or armor damage) and is amazing.

Unfortunately for us, he's pretty far from the main group AND his horseborn allies get the immediate next turns, which keeps us from making our way to him.

Meanwhile, Ruin retreats a bit and starts regenerating.

With a weird little shield.

He's not kidding. The minute her next turn comes up she's going to be at full strength.

I'm actively rooting for our generic horseborn to fall here. We need our good units to get turns.

This would have been a great spot for a tempest, but the bombs the slinger put up top would have maimed Ubin.

I know, Ubin. But you brought 2 turn-clogging bozos with you instead of coming solo!

Canary has crazy-high movement, though. She can reach Ruin and at least poison the hell out of her.

I bet had we fielded a team of just Canary and Derdriu and maybe Nid, we could have taken care of this before it got out of hand. But we didn't, and now Ruin is at full power (well, almost; she's poisoned) before we can completely close the gap.

Ludin takes care of one of the skulkers. The other has disappeared.

Every time Ruin gets a turn, she pushes everyone away from her Fortunately, Egil and Petrus' summoned guard buddy both had stonewall up, so the pushback doesn't hurt them.

Alette taking a giant stone ball to the face hurts, though. A lot. She'll be on mending duty the rest of this fight.

We gave Canary the armor break item for a reason: we've got to get Ruin to the point where she can't just one-shot our allies.

Generic guardsman dude helps a bit.

Egil can't crit--I haven't given him talents to do so. So while Ruin's all but dead, she remains standing and is going to move right after Ubin.

So Ubin uses his "Reveal Weakness"

And Egil, Petrus, Alette, Canary, and the summoned guard put down a Sundr.

This...doesn't end the fight, though. All units have to fall, so my going all out is going to cause some injuries. Canary gets maimed by this slinger.

And though he did his part in the battle, Ubin succumbs to this slinger.

The real threat now is the elite stoneguard. Canary can't do strength damage anymore since she's so badly wounded, but she can poison. And 3 damage per turn will get him to manageable levels eventually.

Not in time for Ludin to not get crippled here, mind you.

In general, it's fine. Hakon still has enough strength to deal with the slingers, and Petrus and his buddy can shieldwall up and take care of the rest of the enemies.

The battle ends with Ludin impaling a slinger and kicking it into a firepit, killing it instantly.

Now Ruin lies dead at your feet. Dredge keep their distance as you limp back to the city. The people of Arberrang watch silently from behind the walls, afraid to believe what they see. Suddenly cheers ring out around you, rising into a chorus of adulation, even if a few dour clansmen stare with hard eyes. Rugga's loyalists.
: They're chanting your name.
: Only because they don't know yours yet.

: The darkness sure seems a lot closer than before Ruin appeared. Listen, I've been meaning to ask you something. Looking back on the last few days...

: You do seem to be taking charge lately. What's changed?
: Ah, I was hoping you wouldn't notice. I don't know. I guess it's about you. I know we're not blood, but you've become like a sister to me. I couldn't bear to lose you. I've never regretted giving you the banner, but it's a struggle to stay silent. I feel like I'm the only one arguing with stubborn men for the greater good. If I dare show the same sort of confidence, well...they have words for women like that. It wears you down. Aren't we all fighting for the same thing? If Juno doesn't make it after everything we've been through...

: Nothing's changed. We'll deal with whatever comes.

: Speak for yourself, Ubin! How did you get the horseborn tribes to leave Dalalond?
: Ah, well. When you learn someone's language, you can speak to them, you see.

: It's a long story, friends. A long story. But the short of it is that the dredge are also in the south. As many as here.

: I just appreciate a moment of rest.
: Seconded. I think we're all looking for some peace right now. Even the dredge.
: Damn them. The silence is almost worst than the fighting.
A new sound slowly begins to take its place: a warbling moan that fills you with unease and makes your hair stand on end.
: Should we be worried about this?

: Maybe they're feeling the pressure a little sooner than us. The darkness doesn't care whose side you're on.

We'll briefly flip back to Iver's POV before our next vote.

The darkness is at our gates now. Iver's party, meanwhile, is around Vedrfell--where Vognir (who would have been varl king after Jorundr had he not been killed by random dredge) was slain.

There are no supplies in this caravan. Lotta renown, though.

Great. Bolverk is stalking us.
: At least he seems to remember the sting.
Folka shakes her head, and picks up the engraved axe Bolverk threw.
: This is a prized possession made from his own horn. The only reason he'd throw it is because he thought he could end this here and now.
She hangs the axe on her belet and stares out into the darkness.
: I'm more worried about a Bolverk I can't see than one I can.

Nothing to be done for it, though. We press onward.

Bolverk probably doesn't need sleep anymore, and the warped probably don't either. We do. As we make our way to Ridgehorn, we're going to need to manage our needs against the fact there's an undead berserker trying to kill us. Whose advice should we listen to during the trek? (You can mix and match in the game, but I'm not going to let everything come to a vote. Will take too long.)
A.) Iver's advice: he doesn't know Bolverk or what lurks in the darkness. He does know what fighters need to stay sharp, though. If he thinks we can sleep in shifts, maybe that's the safest.
B.) Folka's advice: she's been with the Ravens since she was a little girl. She knows what they're capable of. Better still, she knows what Bolverk--if there's anything left of the varl she knew--is capable of. If she can think like him, she can help us avoid the worst of his plans.
C.) Juno's advice: she's the only one of the three who understands the darkness. And that's the part that will kill everyone. Bolverk, undead or not, is still just one dude. The darkness warps indiscriminately and Juno and Eyvind are the only ones capable of keeping it at bay.