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11 posts in this topic

On tuesday The Banner Saga was published. It is a Kickstarter founded project by Stoic Entertainment, and it was envisioned as a triology, and this is the first part.

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It's set in a Viking setting, after the gods are dead (you are told gods are dead in the intro, so it's not a spoiler). A great threat has reapeared and you company is fleeing with a whole caravan of civilians. YOu have to make sure you have enough food, otherwise you start losing civilians and fighters - witch will negatively impact your morale and morale impacts willpower witch is a cruicial element of combat.

Combat is resolved in turn based tactical combat. The combat engine is so simple you could easily play it with p&p, easy to understand but with plenty of tactical complexity.

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(changed the image for higher resolution). The blue area is where the current character can move this turn, the yelow area is where you can move by expending Willpower I mentioned before.In the bottom to the left you can see the turn order. In left to the bottom you see a bunch of numbers. Those are stats of the current character. It very simple realy.

Basic combat mechanics:

Stats from top to bottom are:

Armor: armor reduces incomigg damage, it targets armor is higher than your strenght your chance to hit reduce from auto hit by 10% for every poin of strength you have less than target value

Strength: strenght not only tells you how much damage you can do, but also how much life you have. More damage you receive, less damage you do. You can boost you damage of any of your strikes with your willpower

Willpower: Willpower is a finite resource each character has - it's also used for special attacks and to boost atacks. It can be regained by resting entire round (ie no moving, witch is normaly first).

Exertion: Exertion tells you how much willpoer you can expend on an attack or move or both - for example Exertion 2: you can choose to boost only move by up to 2, boost both move and attack by up to 2 [total of 4], boost atack by up to 2, boost move by up to 2 and use up to 3 willpower on special attack (Hakon in this case is level 5 and thus has Specal Ability level 3, alowing him to use up to 3 willpower to use his Special ability).

Armor Breaking: Armor Breaking tells you by how much you can damage enemy armor. It is as effective when you have full Strength or 1 strength remaining, and it has ALLWAYS hits. You can boost the ammount of armor broken on any of your strikes with your willpower.

Level of Special Ability: Each character starts with the special ability level 1 at level one and then it automaticaly increases at odd levels to a maximum of Level 3 at level 5. Higher level it is more willpower you can expend on it and more powerfull it becomes.

Story is engaging, but 90% of decissions is not persona decision making, but decision that effect entire caravan - a lot of politics.

 

I do have a few issues. It lacks manual save option and save-points are infrequent. For an RPG it's a bit on a short side and it's fairly linear - The path taken is fixed(predetermined, no choice of paths), events and resolutions aren't. There is still a few stability issues (but I count those as less pressing since bugs can actualy be fixed). I know it's part 1 of 3 and it's an indie title, but 8-12 hours for an RPG is a bit on a short side.

 

Edit: I still like the game and I'm eagerly atincipating sequels (hoping they fix isues). If you think this sounds great despite the issues I listed, then you'll probably enjoy it. If you are on the fence then I suggest you wait for it to be on a sale or wait untill the triology be complete.

Ysnar likes this

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Thanks for the review... I was thinking of getting this, but I'll wait until the trilogy is complete

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You are welcome :)

I'm really interested to see where the story will go, and I hope they imrove on this game (choice of diffirent paths to your objective would be a huge step inn ilussion of choice).

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Finished it yesterday. I was a little disappointed in how linear it was and how little interaction you had with most of the games characters. Love the art and the music was good. I thought the combat was a mess though, easily the worst turn based system I have seen, one that punishes you for killing your enemies and fighting effectively and rewards you for playing around with them, which really doesn't fit well at all with the games themes or the abilities that many characters have access to. Battles were also extremely easy on normal, even choosing to charge into every war fight and take on the extra enemies I never lost a single battle (although I suppose if I lost Egil, who is very likely to die, the game would be much more difficult since he was easily the best character in the game). Spending renown on food, promotions, and items also seemed like an odd choice, especially when some characters could easily die causing you to waste massive amount of renown, luckily I only lost one character in my playthrough and it was a Varl I didn't use or even have for long.

 

There were also some very poor choices that should have easily been seen by anyone on the team that play tested the game. Some examples being a lack of food in the last chapter (that they said they are patching to add more), not allowing you to equip characters or to check a characters stats in pre battle screens (even when sometimes new characters are added through those screens or characters are forced into your battle team), having to decide on turn order and characters before seeing the battle map or enemies, bugs with a certain character showing up in your group even when you didn't take him (also said they are patching).

 

I'm hoping the next two chapters improve on some of this games flaws because it could easily be much better, and I believe from my donating $50 to their Kickstarter that I will be getting both future chapters.

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I actualy love battle system, and I dissagree with you (and Spoony) that killing enemies is discouraged (damaged enemies are still as good ad destroying your amor, and armorless targets die in 1 or 2 hits. Besides you satert with less units than enemy in many battles, so the exchanging turn order benefits you as weel. My My MPS were Rook (hes both mele AND ranged) and Harkon. I think tis is easily the best turn-based tactical system. 

I cant talk about the bugs, but I agree with other issues.

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I actualy love battle system, and I dissagree with you (and Spoony) that killing enemies is discouraged (damaged enemies are still as good ad destroying your amor, and armorless targets die in 1 or 2 hits.

Them breaking armor takes way to long, even longer if you bring in two good armored characters like Egil (who can even block armor break damage and get aggro increasing items later) and if you get in the right formation for defensive characters they have an even harder time. Even if they do break characters armor it won't matter when their entire force is left with only 1-2 strength, can't do any damage, and will be killed by any attacks against them. It's a much safer strategy to not kill anyone, and due to my success with the game I would say obviously the best one. If killing them is actually a good idea I would hate to think of the battles being even easier, but I stopped losing characters in battle (even though their really isn't much of a penalty to losing characters in battle) once I stopped killing enemies.

 

Besides you satert with less units than enemy in many battles, so the exchanging turn order benefits you as weel

 

It doesn't matter that it benefits both at certain times it's a system that relies on you gaming the system to do well and is completely against the themes of the game. Also, you just said that killing enemies is worth it, that's the complete opposite opinion then saying you benefit from being outnumbered.

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How is killing enemies as fast as possible completrely against the themes of the game?

Ai might be lacking, but against other players you want to kill their units. 

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How is killing enemies as fast as possible completrely against the themes of the game?

 

The better strategy being to not kill enemies and to play with them all to weaken them instead of fighting in a way that makes sense is against the themes of the game.

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Keeping enemies alive works aonly becouse inadequite AI and underpowered single tile units of Dredge.

I've never seen anyone in PvP keep your units crippled and alive. In PvP you only have Varl and Humans - no spearmen and hunters.

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Keeping enemies alive works aonly becouse inadequite AI and underpowered single tile units of Dredge.

I've never seen anyone in PvP keep your units crippled and alive. In PvP you only have Varl and Humans - no spearmen and hunters.

 

Well, I never played the free Banner Saga Faction for multiplayer, that's going to be different when playing against human opponents. I'm just talking about the game and what will likely be how the next two in the trilogy play.

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Banner Saga Factions was designed to test the combat system in multiplayer enviroment. If same system works well in multiplayer then I say the system in itself works, it's the AI and dredge balance is the issue - something that can be relatively easily fixed, but an issue none the less (might sound like splitting hairs, but the poin is that core combat mechanics are fine and issues lie elsewhere).

I personaly allways relied from the extra willpower from kills (warhorn uses) in single player as I'm used to do (there are some classes in MP that you don't want to keep alive even with 1strength).

Not that you go for a kill at all costs in multi player - ussualy when I cripple an enemy it's becouse I just didn't have enough strenth and I souldn't boos enough. If it's an overkill to kill an enemy with curently active companion, and I could do 5 or more unboosted damage to another dangerous enemy or crippled enemy has no willpower and no Warhorn uses, then I leave him alive untill I some more damaged companion becomes active.

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