The GWJ CRPG Club - Game 12: Banner Saga (In Progress)

Made it past the Godstone Radomyr and to the village of Wyrmtoe with the eastern group tonight. This might have been the best session I've had so far. Fighting went really well; for the first time I feel like I did a good job with special abilities in battle. I feel like I got lucky with decisions. We've got lots of fighters, good morale, some renown in the bank, and a decent amount of supplies. We'll rest up here a bit, buy some supplies, and move on.

Egil's Stone Wall ability is incredibly handy, if you can get him in a spot to get attacked by multiple enemies. And Rook's Mark Prey can be powerful if you can tag an enemy within range of a lot of your fighters. Fun times.

I picked up a couple of items for when our characters level up a bit more. Some of them look to combine nicely with some characters special abilities.

Spoiler:

Okay, I ran into Onef. I was tempted to look up what to do as to avoid what seems to be a potentially awful result later in the game, but in the end I just picked stuff and drove on. Interested to see how this plays out. I'm pretty sure I've chosen poorly.

Redherring wrote:

Started. No idea what I’m doing. Some people don’t like each other and I’m going on a road trip.

And chapter 2 finished. I have a vague idea of what I’m doing now. Some other people are fine with each other (so far) but their village got attacked so they are going on a road trip too.

I played a bit more this morning. Up to Day 83 now, in Burra Pass with the eastern group, at what I think might be the back end of Chapter 4. This stretch didn't go as well as the previous stretch. We didn't gain much morale in battles, didn't fight that well, and lost a lot of supplies. I also feel like I've made some decisions that will come back to bite me, with how I'm treating stragglers who approach our caravans. We'll see on that end.

In combat, I'm still working on using special abilities well. Sometimes I get things right, and I can imagine combining some of these abilities with just the right sort of item to really make some characters powerful. But I'm not there yet, and most of the time I feel like I screw things up in combat in some way.

Definitely having fun with this now. The combat is deeper than it initially appears. I'm enjoying the "choose-your-own-adventure" conversation trees, as ambiguous as many of them are, and the fighting against impossible odds theme has pulled me in. I went from "lost" to "okay" to "this is quite fun" over the course of my 8 hours or so with the game so far. It's definitely grim, but I'm not finding it depressing, for whatever reason.

Redherring wrote:
Redherring wrote:

Started. No idea what I’m doing. Some people don’t like each other and I’m going on a road trip.

And chapter 2 finished. I have a vague idea of what I’m doing now. Some other people are fine with each other (so far) but their village got attacked so they are going on a road trip too.

I'm surprised how it all starts to come together after a bit. I think by the next chapter you'll start to feel more comfortable with things.

GB, given that you felt lost going in, do you have any tips or insights? Maybe things you wish you had known, or were delighted to discover, about the system?

LastSurprise wrote:

GB, given that you felt lost going in, do you have any tips or insights? Maybe things you wish you had known, or were delighted to discover, about the system?

From a tactical standpoint the combat can be counterintuitive. With Dredge you want to focus on breaking armor and spreading out your damage instead of trying to focus fire on one at a time.

From a strategic point of view, you’re always going to be short of resources and need to make hard decisions. Be willing to sacrifice villagers if you need to spend your resources on your heroes.

From a role playing perspective, trust no one.

LastSurprise wrote:

GB, given that you felt lost going in, do you have any tips or insights? Maybe things you wish you had known, or were delighted to discover, about the system?

Sure! I had no idea what the game was about, so that was probably the first thing...

- The dredge have attacked and are wiping out everything. As a player, you're trying to guide two separate caravans of fighters and clansmen to safety. You guide one group for one chapter, then the other group for the next chapter.

You impact the game in four ways:
- Tactical combat
- Party development (leveling up, choosing combat team members, buying items)
- Conversations
- Renown management, which is your currency in a sense. You use it to buy supplies, items, and promote (level up) characters, You earn it mainly from killing things in combat, although there are times where you can earn it outside of combat.

- As jdzappa mentioned, because of the way the turn system works, you usually don't want to kill off weaker enemies. Instead, get them down to 1 or 2 hit points and leave them alive. Offensive power scales with health, so an opponent with only 1 hit point isn't going to do much damage. Because the game alternates turns, you want those weaker enemies using turns instead of a stronger one. The game tells you this in at least one or two places, but it's good to know from the start.

- You won't have enough renown, so spend it wisely. You can't level up everyone. You can take 6 characters into battle with you, but you'll soon have more than that in your character group.

- Conversations matter, a lot. You will lose characters from choosing poorly, and it's pretty ambiguous stuff in many cases. Just drive on and forget about it.

- Take the time to read up on the special abilities, and try to use them well in combat.

- This was mentioned earlier in the thread, but at some rest spots there will be an option for training combat. Although you don't get renown for these fights, the kills you get there count for promotion purposes, so if you take some time to have a few practice combats, you can prime some of your characters for promotion for when you have more renown later.

- I'm not 100% sure on this one. In many combat situations, you have an initial battle and then if you win, you'll have the option to pursue fleeing dredge. It seems to me like it often makes sense to push your advantage after an initial combat. You seem to get a good chunk more renown for it. You'll end up with more characters injured, but the trade off seems worth it to me.

There are probably a few more, and I'm sure I'll learn more as I play more, but that's what comes to mind at the moment.

OK, game is done. I'm glad I didn't play it when it first came out, because I'll be jumping straight into the second one.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. My favorite game I've played with the club? Probably. I'd rank Witcher 3 and Dragon Age: Origins higher. Also maybe Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Jade Empire, but I played all of those beforehand.

Combat MVPs:
Egil on defense, definitely. Just run into the crowd and block with his metal shield. He absorbed so much damage.
Gunnulf (AKA frog) on offense. His strength allowed him to nearly kill fully-armored grunts and slingers in one hit.

Ending spoilers. Do not read!

Spoiler:

I chose Alette to take the shot on Bellower because:
- She said she was the better shot. I figured she was probably right.
- Juno said everyone had to believe Bellower could be killed for her plan to work, but she had told Rook that Bellower couldn't die. I figured Rook's doubt may have resulted in a worse outcome.

Sigh. Nothing worse than a parent losing their child, so I wish it had been Rook. The nature of this tragedy seems appropriate to the theme of the game though: soldiering on despite overwhelming loss and little hope of survival or safety.

I'm tempted to redo it, but no, not this time.

Chapter 3 and 4 done. Still only a vague idea of what is going on. Lost some people I didn’t want to lose. Some more people don’t like each other, and someone who was dead isn’t, and now there’s a

Spoiler:

giant serpent?

Nice work, gewy! Welcome to Level 4! Do you think it was a good idea you restarted?

gewy wrote:

Ending spoilers. Do not read!

Spoiler:

I chose Alette to take the shot on Bellower because:
- She said she was the better shot. I figured she was probably right.
- Juno said everyone had to believe Bellower could be killed for her plan to work, but she had told Rook that Bellower couldn't die. I figured Rook's doubt may have resulted in a worse outcome.

Sigh. Nothing worse than a parent losing their child, so I wish it had been Rook. The nature of this tragedy seems appropriate to the theme of the game though: soldiering on despite overwhelming loss and little hope of survival or safety.

I'm tempted to redo it, but no, not this time.

My thought processes were exactly the same as yours at the end of my playthrough, and my outcomes were exactly the same!

I'm going to have to get through Baldurs gate 3 before I pick up Banner Saga 2 for my "official" playthrough, but shouldn't be too much longer

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

Nice work, gewy! Welcome to Level 4! Do you think it was a good idea you restarted?

Yes, but only because the game is pretty short. I did make a lot of use of one character who died early the first time around. That’s probably the main difference. The extra renown was mainly a factor in chapter 2 and I didn’t use a lot of those characters in the later chapters anyway.

^Thanks. Interesting!

I moved things forward a bit this afternoon. I'm just into Chapter 5 now. The plot thickens. I'm enjoying the story quite a bit now.

I did get a battle loss that results in a "Game Over" result and lets you reload from your previous checkpoint. Second time through it went much better, mainly because I landed two of Eyvind's lightning attacks on enemies on a diagonal. The chain damage turned the battle in our favor. Instead of getting wiped out, we won with our whole party still standing. Special abilities for the win!

I started in earnest today. Made it through Chapter 1, and was a little bit confused by the ending ...

Spoiler:

... where Vognir dies. Didn't I control him during the mission? (No). Did I do something that caused him to die? (Again, no -- I checked). I have a hard time matching the names with some of these characters, yet.

The start of the second chapter with Rook and Alette was interesting, and I can tell already that I'm going to like having a ranged character. I just made it through the first fight back at their village, and choked during the dialogue choice ...

Spoiler:

... nocked an arrow, but hesitated, and so Egil died defending Alette.

I've already leveled up a couple characters to 2. On level up, I see that I can invest 2 stat points, and then once I max out a stat, there are some passive boosts I can buy, and those also cost a stat point. Is it always 2 stat points per level up? Any recommendations on how to spend points?

Nice work!

I felt like the game throws a lot of characters and names at you in the beginning. I'm still getting a few of them mixed up.

Start of second chapter spoiler...

Spoiler:

Egil can die there? Heh, I don't even remember the decision, but I must have picked something that kept him alive. He's still alive in my game.

Yes, every level up, at least in Banner Saga 1, is 2 points. I read that ARM and STR are good places to spend the points. People here have been saying BRK and Exertion. I've done a bit of both, depending on the character. I haven't spent much on WILL.

I played a bit more tonight, just to the point where I'm plagued by indecision. Three choices. One feels hopeless. The other two feel heartless. I've gone down the hopeless route two steps, and it feels ever more hopeless, like continuing makes no sense. But the heartless choices feel even worse.

Hard choices, this game.

Well, any thoughts that my crew might catch a break in Banner Saga 2 and get to rest a bit are right out the window. A couple of these characters look like they've aged 10 years or so; their faces are so weary.

Chapter 6. In which we walk through a lot of countryside and fairly uneventful villages. Also I guess we are being chased by bad things.

I've finally had time to play a couple of sessions and have reached chapter 3. Feels like I've been rewarded for most decisions so far, but I also got caught in the same one that LastSurprise did, costing me that character. Grumble. I think I made a mistake last night as well, but haven't played it forward to see what will come of it.

I can't figure out why I bounced off this game so hard after Kickstarting it (literally one session and never went back). It's delightful!

Spoiler:

Rook's crew arrived at a city in lockdown, and I elected to join the bunch running the who inside. I couldn't get a vibe off what was actually happening there, but it instantly felt like the wrong choice.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

Nice work!

I felt like the game throws a lot of characters and names at you in the beginning. I'm still getting a few of them mixed up.

Start of second chapter spoiler...

Spoiler:

Egil can die there? Heh, I don't even remember the decision, but I must have picked something that kept him alive. He's still alive in my game.

I went and looked it up after the fact, and apparently you had to thread the needle carefully to get the good outcome you received...

Spoiler:

When Alette doesn't see the dredge, you have to choose to knock an arrow, and then choose to fire -- even though the game warns you (both times) that you might hit Alette. If you do anything else, at either of the dialogue prompts, Egil dies.

I'll be starting up my Banner Saga journey later this week but I thought I'd mention here that all the games in the series are currently on sale. You can get all of them or complete your collection with the following bundle on Steam for a big discount: BANNER SAGA TRILOGY - DELUXE PACK

Neutrino wrote:

I'll be starting up my Banner Saga journey later this week but I thought I'd mention here that all the games in the series are currently on sale. You can get all of them or complete your collection with the following bundle on Steam for a big discount: BANNER SAGA TRILOGY - DELUXE PACK

Nice! I picked up the Stoic edition. Thanks for posting this. I've added the information to the first post.

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LastSurprise wrote:

I went and looked it up after the fact, and apparently you had to thread the needle carefully to get the good outcome you received...

Spoiler:

When Alette doesn't see the dredge, you have to choose to knock an arrow, and then choose to fire -- even though the game warns you (both times) that you might hit Alette. If you do anything else, at either of the dialogue prompts, Egil dies.

Heh. I confess I don't remember this. I didn't spend a lot of time on decisions in the beginning. I just figured, "Oh, whatever. These won't matter. Lots of people I don't know." *picks random thing*

Spoiler:

It wasn't until later where someone really useful died because of a conversation that I woke up and started thinking about things more. Now I'm so petrified I'm going to kill people because of my decisions that it's taking me forever to make progress.

---

ubrakto wrote:

I've finally had time to play a couple of sessions and have reached chapter 3. Feels like I've been rewarded for most decisions so far, but I also got caught in the same one that LastSurprise did, costing me that character. Grumble. I think I made a mistake last night as well, but haven't played it forward to see what will come of it.

I feel like there are a lot of decisions I've made that are just time bombs waiting to go off later. I've got one character in particular that I'm certain is going to mess me up badly. I can just feel it.

ubrakto wrote:
Spoiler:

Rook's crew arrived at a city in lockdown, and I elected to join the bunch running the who inside. I couldn't get a vibe off what was actually happening there, but it instantly felt like the wrong choice.

I felt like everything I did there was wrong and it was a matter of picking the least worst thing. Also, that was one place where I don't feel like things were clear what each decision meant. One of the weaker decision-tree sequences in the game so far.

---

On a side note, I don't think I'll be able to play for the next couple of nights. I put off doing US taxes until October 15, and well, it's almost that time. I'll be playing Turbo Tax for the next couple of evenings.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I felt like everything I did there was wrong and it was a matter of picking the least worst thing. Also, that was one place where I don't feel like things were clear what each decision meant. One of the weaker decision-tree sequences in the game so far.

Ahh. Good to know that's not just my imagination!

Neutrino wrote:

I'll be starting up my Banner Saga journey later this week but I thought I'd mention here that all the games in the series are currently on sale. You can get all of them or complete your collection with the following bundle on Steam for a big discount: BANNER SAGA TRILOGY - DELUXE PACK

Trying to decide if I like the game enough to buy more of them. So far it’s all a bit strange. Looks like the sale runs for a few days so there’s time to decide.

Hmm ok well just finished the game in just over 7 hours.

The ending...

Spoiler:

I was going to let Alette take the shot because it seemed like the right thing to do. But i wasn’t happy with what might happen so I cheated and looked up the ramifications of that particular choice. So glad I did - do not need THAT in 2020 thank you. Bye Rook.

Redherring wrote:

Hmm ok well just finished the game in just over 7 hours.

The ending...

Spoiler:

I was going to let Alette take the shot because it seemed like the right thing to do. But i wasn’t happy with what might happen so I cheated and looked up the ramifications of that particular choice. So glad I did - do not need THAT in 2020 thank you. Bye Rook.

Congrats! Wow, that's fast! I'm at 10 hours on Steam (probably 8 or so active hours) and still on Chapter 5. I'm going to hold off looking at the spoiler until I'm done, but nice work!

Not sure what I would have done to take more time. Spend hours agonising over choices, or deciding whether Hogun or Mogun deserves to have that trinket?

Taxes done, I'm back at this today. We're into Chapter 6 now, still facing insurmountable odds. But I feel like things aren't going horribly wrong at the moment. We've got food, we're winning our battles, and I haven't (as far as I can tell) botched one of the recent decision trees in a cruel and painful way.

I'm happy to play this is bits and pieces, like an hour or so at a time, but I'm interested to see how it wraps up too.

I played another 45 minutes or so today. Our journey is at 110 days, and we're well into Chapter 6. We reached the village of Sigrholm with barely enough supplies and weak morale. On this leg of the journey we made some good decisions, yet had a few mediocre ones that cost us. More and more it feels like our margin for error is getting thinner and thinner. The journey feels like it's coming to a head.

- I'm really enjoying this now, especially in short play sessions. Spreading it out has allowed me to read everything and get into role-playing the decisions. I'm less trying to game things and more trying to imagine myself as leading a caravan on an epic quest. Playing this way has made me realize how often I "game" games now rather than just play them. This has been a refreshing change of pace.

Decided to carry on the saga - bought part 2 and 3, let’s see where this road trip takes us.

I jumped in and beat it over the weekend. I was going to make some different decisions this time around, but i didn't have the heart to make a drifferent decision in the end, and the only drastic difference was in Frostvellr when I made the fateful decision to

Spoiler:

Pick upp Onef, who then proceeded to betray the caravan later on and kill poor Egil.

So, uh, I think my first playthrough is going to remain my canon one.

Still a great game, despite me not caring much for the gameplay systems. The alternating is so unintuitve, as does you using the same currency for supplies and leveling up. Yes, it forces you to make hard decisions, but it feels. Everything about the presentation is just *chef kiss* though.