The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga

by ProfessorProf

Part 5: Day 4: Skogr Attacked

In the wake of the death of the varl prince, it is time to say farewell to Ubin and his caravan.

We cast our eye far to the east, to the distant edge of the Setterlund. To...

...I think this transition was programmed with the assumption that I was in widescreen mode.

Shh. Stay close.
I think it saw us!

More tutorials for things I already talked about! I can move these two anywhere I want within the blue area before I start.

The tactical usefulness of this is somewhat hampered from not being able to look at anyone's move ranges before starting the battle.

Having abandoned the deer it was carrying off, the starving drudge turns to face us.

This is Rook, our new protagonist! With axe and bow, he can attack up close and at range. He shares Eirik's passive ability to move through allies, and his active ability, Mark Prey, does 1 Armor damage, then lets all allies adjacent to the target make free attacks on it. Only works in melee, though.

Both of these two can attack from up to 5 spaces away. The dredge advances and feebly bats at Rook for 1 Strength damage.

Unlike Rook, Alette is a pure archer - she can't attack in melee range. Her passive, Puncture, gives her bonus damage if she doesn't move before attacking and targets an enemy who has taken Armor damage since her last turn (I'm not sure offhand exactly how much, but it's significant). Her active, Thread the Needle, lets her hit multiple people with one arrow as long as they're along a straight line.

The dredge has 8 Strength and Rook has 8 Armor, so as long as it's wasting time with 1-point Strength attacks, I can take my time wearing down its armor.

I guess this is why Rook told her to not get too close! Fighting with only archers isn't easy.

We're in no real danger here, since this is another tutorial fight.

Unfortunately, the "no melee for archers" rule counts even if the enemy takes up multiple spaces, so Alette can't take advantage of Puncture.

A bit of attrition later, the battle ends with no casualties.

Like so. Only 3 Renown, though.

Alette looks calm, but you can tell her heart is about to beat right out of her chest.

It was. Let me see... are you hurt?
No, I'm... I'll be fine.

When the dredge attacked your cart and the yox bolted, it spilled most of your supplies. You can see more dark figures moving through trees when you glance that direction.

All that food. That's the last we're going to get before winter. Do we... what do we do?

We're about to be in serious need of supplies, so let's take what we can get.

I can see them, in the trees... are you sure about this?
No. We have to try, be quick!

+15 Supplies

(Supplies are measured in some sort of generic units - that doesn't mean 15 days. The more people you have in the caravan, the more supplies you need to get through one day.)

Our "caravan", at present, is just Rook and Alette, hurrying back to Skogr.

Already we see more between the trees as we approach our home, and Alette grips my hand tight. We must find Iver.

The enormous varl in question towers over the men in the training field. He squints as you approach.

Dredge. Everywhere!
Dredge? How did they get through Greyhorn?
Must have broken through the fort.

The fighters nearby have stopped sparring. They gather around you.

Dammit! They'll be here soon, if they're not already.

You hear screams. From the outskirts, people are running toward the great hall. Iver turns to one of the older boys in his group of fighters.

Egil, take Alette to the great hall, tell the chieftain what's happening. The rest of you gather up as many people as you can!

I'm gonna need as many fighters as I can get for this one.

Why not invite some goats to join us, too? You're asking for dead kids.
I won't let anything happen to her.
They'll have to deal with it sooner or later, Iver. What now?
Fuh. Egil, keep your shield up. We just hold them off until everyone's inside, then we figure out what to do next.

More shouts draw your attention to some houses atop a nearby hill!

Skogr isn't much of a town, but the people living here have always managed to scratch out a living from the forest's bounty. Until now.

"Behind you, Tryggvi!" shouts Iver, who shoots you a dour look. If Tryggvi is known for being a madman, at least he's the sort who can hold a spear in the right direction. He smiles a mile wide when he realizes you're going to have to fight your way out of this.

From here on, every battle will be preceded by this screen. Here, we can pick which heroes to send (max 6, so since we only have five right now, it's a moot point) and their turn order.

The game suggests fighters before archers, but I like to stagger the two, so that I can send in a head-knocker and then send in someone to support them from the back line.

I think this'll do for a starting formation - the important thing is keeping the enemy away from Rook and Alette.

I'm going to make some stupid mistakes in this battle, so brace yourself.

In addition to the grunts, we have a new dredge type - a Stoneguard. Armed with an enormous shield, they can slam all adjacent enemies away from them while inflicting Armor damage.

Iver is another Shieldmaster like Mogr, but instead of Bring the Pain, he has the active ability Battering Ram, which does 1 Armor damage and knocks the target back four tiles. If the target runs into other enemy units, it passes through them and takes additional damage.

The Stoneguard advances, but isn't close enough to do anything.

Dredge Grunts are weak enough that Armor attacks are seldom necessary - a couple heroes with high Strength can beat them down without worrying about it.

Already reduced to 4 Strength, the Grunt makes a feeble attempt to break Iver's armor. It takes 1 Armor damage in exchange.

Egil has the same skill loadout as Valgard from the previous chapter. He's actually going to stay put this turn. If he moved, he could attack the Grunt or the Stoneguard, but I'm not liking either option. The Grunt is already weak enough for Iver to kill in one blow, and I don't want to get any closer to the Stoneguard. As it stands, it'll take a point of will for it to reach me, and in doing so, it'll come into range of the archers. For now, Egil will just use Stonewall in case the Stoneguard decides to attack him.

This looks like a good opportunity for Alette to use Thread the Needle, but it's a bit risky, because the attack hits allies as well as enemies. If this was a more serious battle, I'd skip it, but it should still leave Iver with enough Armor to block anything these Dredge can do to him, and I want to show off every skill at least once.

Oops. Apparently Thread the Needle does Strength and Armor damage. Sorry, Iver!

Tryggvi is an enthusiastic fellow who shares Ludin's active ability, but has a different passive - Embloden grants him and any adjacent allies +1 will whenever he gets a kill. Yet another wrench to throw into the problem of when to maim and when to kill.

If you bought the game after launch, you may be surprised to see him here - Tryg was a preorder-only bonus character.

He's also carrying a piece of equipment! Tryggvi's Necklace, unlike the name suggests, can be worn by anyone, and it gives every Strength attack a 10% chance to randomly inflict double damage. so!

This is actually a problem. It speeds up the clock on the enemy turn order and leaves Tryg exposed to, say, an incoming Stoneguard.

There are times where that necklace is amazing, but this is not among them.

Next up is Iver, who faces a decision. That Grunt is up next. Two immediate choices present themselves: Kill the Grunt, or attack the Stoneguard.

If I attack the Stoneguard, then the Grunt will be free to walk past and start harassing my archers, which would be annoying. If I kill the Grunt, then the enemy will have two units left, meaning the Stoneguard starts taking 2.5 moves for each move any of my heroes takes.

I choose option three!

By using Battering Ram, I accomplish two things - first, I tear the Grunt's armor down so that anyone on the team can finish it off in one attack. Second, knowing that it's the next enemy to act, I push it out of range of most of my army.

This works even better than I had hoped - in some bizarre glitch of AI, the Grunt doesn't do anything on its turn beyond resting to recover its one point of will.

The downside of this is that when I start focusing down the Stoneguard, I have to use Rook, who only has 1 Break and 1 Exertion. Getting through that Armor is gonna take a long time.

As we tear down the wall, I realize I overlooked another important fact about Alette's skillset:

Splinter only affects Strength attacks. So, even though the Stoneguard has taken Armor damage, and Alette hasn't moved, I can't bring any bonus damage to bear against it because it's too well-defended.

Tryggvi is down to 2 Strength. If I was playing on Hard, I'd probably have him fall back, but I have a plan.

The turn order is perfectly set up here - Tryg, then the Grunt that can't reach him, then Iver, then the Stoneguard. Time for some ability synergy.

Step 1: Tryg Impales the Stoneguard, doing 1 point of Strength damage and making it bleed 1 Strength for every tile it moves until the end of its next turn. Stoneguard Strength remaining: 10.

The Grunt, unable to reach Tryg, hits Egil for 1 Strength damage.

Step 2: Make him move.

Impale's damage doesn't care whether they move on purpose or because I make them. In addition to one Armor damage inflicted by Battering Ram, each tile he moves does 1 Strength damage. Stoneguard Strength remaining: 6.

Even better, if he wants to do anything to us, he has to trudge all the way back, still taking 1 damage for each step.

And that's how I bring the Stoneguard down to 2 Strength without cracking his Armor.

Determined to do something, the crippled Stoneguard uses Kindle, knocking everyone back and doing boatloads of Armor damage. That includes both of his allies.

I'll get a gif of that move another time. This was already a busy turn, so I almost missed it completely.

Another stupid mistake as I begin the mop-up phase - Rook's move was 1 space short of picking off the Grunt harassing the critically-injured Tryg, and once you finish moving, you can't add more to it, even if you didn't move your full distance. Instead, he's got to pick off a little more of the Stoneguard's Armor so we can get that finishing blow in.

Hang in there, Tryggvi!

There! Now there aren't any enemies with serious Strength left.

And there's the Puncture bonus at work.

I might as well start getting kills at this point. If I leave it alive, it can go and try to finish off Tryggvi. If I kill it, the Grunt will act next instead, and it'll definitely try to kill Tryggvi. Whether he survives or not comes down to the random Deflect chance from his remaining Armor.

So, we pray.

Oops! I forgot, the gods are dead, so it doesn't matter if I pray or not. Tryggvi goes down.

The enemy is starting to get a lot of turns, so we'd better hurry this up.

Pillage start.

Pillage end.

+6 Renown, Rook Promotes.

We're already pushing our luck being out here.

Uh oh.

You let go. A second passes like an eternity.

The arrow bounces off the dredge's face, inches away from what you think is an eye. It recoils, then turns upon Alette again. Egil rushes to her side. Iver throws himself between them, catching the mace on his shield and returns the favor, crushing the dredge's head with his shield point. When the dust settles, you can see see that everyone is all right.

"Let's get out of here," says Iver, as he goes back to check the last few houses nearby. "Rook, see if you can find any more survivors and meet me in front of the hall."