The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga

by ProfessorProf

Part 1: Prologue

Video: The Road to Strand

Video links in this LP are all highly encouraged, but not required. What follows will always be a summary of what happened in the video.

BGM: How did it come to This?

"It has been several long months on the road. The first signs of snowfall accost us on our approach to Strand, largest of the trade cities on the varl-human borders, and our last collection before returning to the capital."

"Several days ago, the sun simply came to a stop in the sky, though during these long winter days, none of us can be certain how long it has been this way. Some of the men in the caravan have taken it as a dire open. I am not quick to superstition, but I myself will be glad to be done with this year's rounds."

"We have been warned by stranded travelers about brigands on the path through Ridgehorn, our road home. Our captain seems unconcerned. Perhaps he is eager as I to be done here. We will rest here this day and inquire further when we speak to the governor."

As the varl ride into town, a human approaches the caravan, shouting something in a foreign language.

Inside, everything is chaos - a chieftain in red threatens the governor, his men cutting down the guards.

Before he can cut the governor down, though, the doors are smashed open, and the varl make their presence known the only way they care for:

Blood and Steel.

The game begins with our first battle! This is the tutorial, so expect a lot of informational boxes. I'll be skipping most of them to explain the battle system as I go.

First up is our Shieldbanger. On his turn, he can move, then take an action.

Because he's a varl, he takes up four spaces, whereas humans only take up one. Also note that the edge of his movement range is highlighted in gold - more on that in a bit. Moving up to melee range.

This is a good time to talk about the game's stats!

Strength plays the role of both attack power and health. When your Strength is reduced to 0, you're down for the fight.
Armor is your resistance to enemy attacks. Every time you attack an enemy, you can choose to attack their Strength or their Armor. If you attack Strength, the damage you inflict is equal to your Strength, minus the enemy's remaining Armor.
Break is how good you are at breaking through enemy Armor. If you attack Armor, then the damage you inflict is equal to your Break, but the damage is applied to their Armor, so their Strength is not reduced. You can't kill anyone with Break attacks.
Willpower is your reserve of inner strength that allows you to push past your usual limits. It can be used to move farther or hit harder.
Exertion is the limit on how much Willpower you can spend on a single move or action.
Ability Rank is how powerful your special ability is.

This raider has 5 Strength and 4 Armor, and I have 9 Strength, so I can kill him with a single Strength attack.

Which I do.

Next is the chieftain in red - the row of portraits on the bottom indicates the turn order. Note how it's alternating us and them - that will (almost) always be true. Whoever has fewer warriors on the field gets more actions per unit.

Shieldbangers have very good Armor - the chieftain hits for a paltry 1 damage. That won't take the varl down anytime soon, but it does mean that his Strength attacks are doing 1 less damage now. The Shieldbanger passive ability means that anyone who damages him in melee takes 1 Armor damage in retaliation, so the chieftain's Armor is slightly reduced in exchange.

Next up is Gunnulf, the Warhawk. Fighting with a two-handed sword, his Armor is a bit lower, but his Strength is great.

The gold area at the edge of movement indicates space that you can't reach without spending Willpower. Because Gunnulf has an Exertion of 2, he can spend 2 of his 8 will to move an extra two spaces, putting him in range of these two raiders.

Note the numbers under the raiders as I put my cursor within attack range of them - that's how much damage I can do to them with a Strength attack from this character.

As outlined here, Gunnulf has two abilities!

His passive, Heavy Impact, means that when he damages an enemy, all enemies adjacent to them take 1 Strength damage.
His active ability, Tempest, hits one enemy and then also hits the next enemy around clockwise. Let's use that!

Both enemies have 7 Strength, so the 6 damage wouldn't be enough... but thanks to Heavy Impact, each hit does 1 Strength damage to the other, taking them both out at once.

Using an ability costs 1 will, for the record, so Gunnulf has 5 left.

When there is only one enemy (or ally) left standing, Pillage Mode starts. This overrides the usual rule of alternating turns between the two sides - instead, we all get an action to his one.

Not that we'll need it here. Will can be spent 1-for-1 to increase the power of attacks, be they hitting Armor or Strength. The Shieldbanger has an Exertion of 1, so he can only add 1 damage, but that's enough.

So ends the ambitions of the chieftain in red.

Victory is ours!

Renown is your reward for slaying your foes. It is used to upgrade characters and buy items.

Now, we have a governor to talk to.

Video: Like a Rabid Wolf

"Like a rabid wolf, that one. How did it come to this? We fool ourselves into believing that peace will last. My grandfather built all this from a poor fishing village, you know."

"He watched the gods die. Watched the chaos that followed. Watched man and varl slaughter each other, even before the dredge arose."

"All we've done is traded one struggle for another. Now that there are no more dredge to war against, we war against ourselves."

"This chieftain meant to kill me, and he's not the first. A dozen families in the city would gladly take my chair."

"This one had men waylaying merchants both north and south of the city, strangling trade; quite well I would add, though he denied it to his last. This sort of wolf doesn't stop biting because the head is cut off, it just grows a new head."

"I am in a bad way, my friend. Help me finish this fight and I will gladly send you on your way, with double our king's tithe."

"Take any men you need. They're loyal, I promise you that. They will meet you down in the proving grounds."