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June 9, 2022

Things We Wish We Knew Before Playing The Banner Saga

The Banner Saga is an excellent series of games that managed to combine story, characters, combat, and the Oregon Trail, to make an unforgettable journey. Not to mention, the games all have a drop-dead gorgeous art style that is practically impossible not to like. Throw in multiple story paths, beats, and endings, and you have a lot to digest.

Related: The Best 2D Games With Turn-Based Combat

Because there is so much going on in Banner Saga, it's easy to get overwhelmed. It's not beyond the realm of possibility to get hit with a serious case of analysis paralysis. Heck, you might just forget something, and end up making a series of tear-jerking mistakes. Worry not, we have you covered.


5 Focus On People And Supplies

The Banner Saga is split into three very distinct modes of play. You have story segments where dialogue is read and difficult narrative decisions are made. You have combat, where you take your band of warriors and engage in turn-based battles. And finally, you have the caravan sections, where you must manage resources, and people, whilst dealing with racial conflicts.

Each mode of play requires you to tackle its challenges uniquely, and the caravan segments can lead to some pretty dire situations. As a general rule for getting through the game, you want to focus on maintaining lives and keeping a high stockpile of supplies. There will be times when this won't always be the best play, but most of the time, it is a safe bet.

4 Ignore purchasable items

One aspect of The Banner Saga you might get tempted into dabbling in is shopping. You can purchase powerful items that can increase the efficacy of all sorts of units, but as a whole, you don't need to buy them. You're probably better off cutting them altogether.

Why? Well, not all characters even have the option to engage in this mechanic, which highlights just how secondary it really is. On top of that, the cost can be pretty high, and you don't want to burn valuable resources on an item that generally isn't worth it.

3 target priority

Let's move on to combat. When you cross blades with your enemies, you need to target the right enemies, otherwise, you are going to get battered. Not all enemies are made equal, and more often than not, you want to take out their hard hitters first, so you aren't suffering later on.

Related: Sketchy Characters Who Turned Out The Be The Good Guys

This is not a hard and fast rule, however. You can use enemies to block other enemies. For example, if you can use a 4-square enemy to block a chokehold, then his smaller mates can't get through. This works the other way round - you can prevent a larger enemy from attacking by using his smaller allies. Check the battlefield, check your enemies, and pick off and abuse key targets to get the biggest advantage.

2 Maiming Is Often Better Than Killing

One aspect of The Banner Saga that can easily be overlooked is Initiative, and how players can abuse it to gain tempo or build momentum. Killing an enemy makes it so other enemies will activate quicker. You could kill a guy, and then that pushes a more powerful enemy up the turn order, punishing you.

You can get around this by Maiming. Maiming is the act of reducing enemies to a very low amount of HP and leaving them alive. Remember, HP and Attack are linked, so if you have an enemy clogging up the initiative tracker on 1HP, they are going to use their turn to do practically nothing. Once you have neutered the entire team, you can finish them off.

1 Rook The Best Character

Rook is one of the main characters in The Banner Saga, but his role can be cut short depending on your actions in the late game. Rook is by far one of the most powerful characters in the game, and ensuring he lives, can make your life substantially easier. Why? He has access to the Call To Arms ability.

Call To Arms allows Rook to force Pillage Mode to start the moment you outnumber your enemies. What is Pillage Mode? Well, normally it only activates once one side has been reduced to a single unit. It allows the “winning” team to activate all their troops back-to-back to quickly finish off the enemy. Call To Arms lets you destroy the concept of initiative by activating the moment you gain a numbers advantage. Rook's potential replacement can't hold a candle to that - well, not mechanically anyway.

Next: How Long Does It Take To Beat The Banner Saga Trilogy?

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