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The Banner Saga - turn based Viking epic - Steam release 14th Jan


Captain Kelsten
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Just started this, but have only played the first couple of battles. Couple of things sprung to mind...

- How do you regain health? I rested, but it didn't seem to do anything - did it affect something else?

- Is there any benefit to attacking armour rather than health? I'm sure there's a tactical benefit somehow, but it wasn't immediately obvious.

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I think the idea is that you chip away just enough armour so that your team can attack effectively, but not concentrate so much on it that you never get round to wounding the enemy before they overwhelm you. It's a balance I'm struggling with a little at the start.

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I was a bit confuised by that as well, but apparently the attacker's strength minus the defender's armour equals the damage dealt when you do a strength attack. So it's very beneficial to attack armour before doing a strength attack. I don't think you can regain health during combat?

Resting during combat will replenish willpower.

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Yep: Strength attacks deal your strength against the opponent's strength, minus their armour. On hard mode you'll need to know how to balance the two from the off, as you'll get enemies with more armour than your strength from the off.

And there are very few ways to regain strength in battle - the few that do involve special abilities (possibly also items, though I've come across none).

Resting restores willpower, which is what you use to boost attacks and activate abilities.

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Yeah, cheers guys. It all makes sense now. I wasn't anticipating more tutorial fights, and I didn't want to fall into bad habits without knowing what was what - but the next fight after me posting here explained all of that.

Very early in, but it's glorious.

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So, I finished this last night.

It's really, really, really good. Filled with difficult, interesting decisions and unforeseen consequences, the combat is great (and punishing on Hard - ended up having to knock it down to Normal about 2/3rds through - I'll try again on hard when I do my next playthrough now that I understand the consequences of my actions that much better), the writing is good, the visuals are lovely, the music is wonderful - just a pleasure from start to finish.

I also thought the pacing was perfect - it's a game that uses literary pacing rather than movie pacing, which I think has thrown a lot of people, but for me just makes it feel like I'm playing through an epic fantasy novel - the fact that the game is happy to switch perspectives and have consequences to your choices come entire chapters later only reinforces that feeling.

Though I'm gutted that the game crashed halfway through the closing credits so I never got to see my name in the list of backers :(

But yeah, if you're on the fence, grab it.

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Steam tells me 18 hours, which will include about an hour and a half paused, and is with me playing on hard and so having to redo some battles quite a few times. I'd estimate it'd have taken about 11 hours if I'd ploughed straight through without a loss, and I'm planning to replay immediately so I can make different choices and see how things are affected.

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God damn this is exactly the sort of game I enjoy.

I'm making all the wrong decisions.

Me too, I just made an agonising decision that I'm sure now is a mistake... but heh, that's the way it goes baby.

Lovely game.

Any general tactical tips? I'm playing on normal, and I'm barely scraping through battles. I'm favouring clumping all my guys together, and I'm not sure why. I feel as though I'm pissing in the wind with the combat (despite enjoying it), in that I don't ever feel like one course of action (i.e. who to attack, whether to use a special) is any better than another - so it feels like I'm choosing a move without being sure it's correct. Maybe that's the way it is, dunno.

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Naff me. That music as you go to the city map.

Finding combat tricky - not used to alternate moves between you and the computer...

Seems fun though - trying to sort my head around Armour/Strength though.

Edit - And I'm struggling at the 1st decision :facepalm:

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Me too, I just made an agonising decision that I'm sure now is a mistake... but heh, that's the way it goes baby.

Lovely game.

Any general tactical tips? I'm playing on normal, and I'm barely scraping through battles. I'm favouring clumping all my guys together, and I'm not sure why. I feel as though I'm pissing in the wind with the combat (despite enjoying it), in that I don't ever feel like one course of action (i.e. who to attack, whether to use a special) is any better than another - so it feels like I'm choosing a move without being sure it's correct. Maybe that's the way it is, dunno.

I've got the same problem with combat. They way combat seems to work is opposite of almost every other game of this type I've played. Usually I'd focus fire and kill off the easier guys as quickly as possible but in this that just means the tougher guys get more turns attacking you. It seems best to knock all enemies down to low health/strength and then finish them at roughly the same time and if you have to kill any early, make it the tougher guys.

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Aye, it's all about paying attention to your enemies' stats, turn order and range - it's very situational. Sometimes it makes charge down their high-strength unit before it gets a chance to deal real damage, bringing it low early on; other times it can be better to skirt around it while you take care of the other troops; sometimes you want your archers moving aggressively and whittling away at the enemy, other times you want to keep them behind a wall ready to counter attack once your front-liners have weakened the enemy. It's a really nice system.

I'm a third of the way through a new campaign, on hard again, and finding it far easier - just went through a two-stage battle without a single guy falling, which was particularly satisfying. Only a few choice deviations from my previous run through in terms of choices, but they're already reaping interesting results. Great stuff!

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Yrsa's brilliant (unlike Rook, who is great if well supported (mark prey is hilariously useful with supporting archers/nearby heavies), but not a great standalone character). Guaranteed 2 damage to at least one enemy every turn without needing to put herself in attack range? Ability to strike up to five targets at once? Ability to create damage-dealing barriers on the field? She's ridiculously useful, able to nullify high-armour enemies early on and wear down clusters of enemies well into the late game.

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Every archer has puncture, which makes them really good if you've got them in a secure spot where they're unlikely to be targeted.

I've finished it now. So much death. So bleak.

The biggest surprise for me was (maybe 75% of the way through spoilers):

Onef's little 'chat' resulting in him stabbing me, cutting Egil's throat, and almost killing Oddleif. Poor fucking Egil. I was convinced I'd lost SO MANY people.

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Aye, though it's only those that are specifically archers that get the ability - characters with close and ranged attacks (i.e. Rook) don't have it. Indeed, all classes have a secondary, passive ability, and it's worth learning what they are.

And yes, the bleakness is quite something, which along with the pacing and scale of the journey makes it feel so much like a good, grim fantasy novel. Even so, I didn't expect the ending to go quite as it did:

Though I assumed the ending would be merely to escape, the death of Alette was unexpected - though the way it's framed makes me suspect that the next game may see her involvement in the afterlife, but maybe not. I'm also curious to see if that's changed by not allowing her to be the wielder of the arrow.

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