The One Game Week 4: The Drawing Board

I’m dedicating time to one game in order to try and master it. I’ve chosen The Banner Saga to be that “One Game”. Each week I’ll be reporting on my progress within the game, as well as things I’ve learned outside of it. You can follow my progress via this tag.

Week 4.
Total time played (according to Steam): 5 hours.
Matches Played / Won: 3 / 0
Achievements unlocked: 0.
Rank: 2051.
Rating: 0.
Team Power: 66.
Renown: 1000.

Since last week there’s been another patch or two, with the result of adding a new “marketplace” (which currently doesn’t do anything*), as well changing “Axeman” to “Radier” (and “Axemaster” to “Raidmaster”), and allowing the purchase of “experienced” characters from the Mead House. All of my renown and characters have also been reset*.

This week I’ve been contemplating two aspects of the game: the starting team and the pillage mechanic. The starting team has been especially problematic for me, as I’ve been unable to put my finger on exactly how to make the starting team work together. I posed this very question on the official forums, and found out that actually there isn’t much point in using the default line-up at all.

The “pillage” mechanic means that when you’re knocked down to your last character, you’ll only get to move once for each of the opposing team. Has anyone ever won a game after pillage has kicked in? I’d be interested to know, but it does seem like “pillage” is essentially “game over” whilst you watch the other team pummel your remaining character to death. It strikes me that a much better system might be instead to allow you to still move each turn, but let the side with the majority get to pick which character they want to use each turn. Anyway, fingers crossed, this is something the developers will be looking to make work a bit better*.

So to the drawing board then, as I spend this week building a team that might actually win a battle. I want to go with something simple. Looking at the abilities of each of the different characters, I contemplated using a combination of Warleaders and Siege Archers to basically cover the battlefield with traps and then explode them as needed. But I felt this might be too complex early on, so instead I’ve opted for something even simpler.

The Thrasher has two interesting abilities. The “Bloody Flail” hits an adjacent opponent for armour and strength damage, regardless of the Thrasher’s own strength. It also gets a bonus for any adjacent Thrashers to it (and doing so also provides an armour bonus from the Thrasher’s passive ability). Surely just making a cluster of Thrashers would be very effective? Time to find out.

First, a trip to the Mead House, to buy and additional 5 Thrashers. The way it now works is, I have to buy an “experienced Raider” for 50 renown, and then “promote” him to a Thrasher for an additional 20. Fortunately, I’m provided with enough starting renown to do this, so away I go. I’m also able to pump additional points into the stats for each one, but I avoid doing so for now. Interestingly enough, I discover that there’s a limit on putting more than 5 units of the same base class (i.e. 5 raiders) together in one team. So I opt to round out the selection with a Provoker in order to have a bit more control over the enemy’s positioning.

That’s the theory then, time to put it to the test. To battle!

Ninja Foodstuff vs. Mr. Jensen

I made a few mistakes early on. First of all, I forgot that the Provoker’s ability only works on an adjacent character, so I left him out in the middle of the field, unable to do anything. Once I did manouver him into a more useful position, I was in fact able to put him to good use, on an enemy Thrasher that had been giving me a bit of hassle. I also need to get used to the fact that attacks can only be made in cardinal directions, so positioning Thrashers so that they surround an enemy is not very helpful. Mr. Jensen’s Warhawk ended up doing a fair bit of damage to my ranks, but his Backbiter proved to be my greatest undoing. Although I whittled him down to a weakened Warleader and two archers, he claimed the pillage phase, and killed my remaining Thrashers with a couple of powered-up arrows.

What to take away from this?

  • Perhaps 5 Thrashers is too many, and I should add a powerful archer into the mix.
  • The main problem I had is with positioning of the Thrashers, and having to move them around the board simply to mop up one annoying character proved to be a waste of moves.
  • I should probably focus on weakening, rather than trying to kill characters.

*The Banner Saga is currently in beta. Things are subject to change and may not work as expected.

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