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Default The Banner Saga - Preview Roundup

December 16th, 2013, 23:17
I have a third preview roundup for everyone today, and this time they are for The Banner Saga. As usual links and descriptions are below.

Incgamers

Stoic has done a magnificent job pulling together a unified art style across three different mediums. The hand-drawn figures in close-up dialogue, majestic 2D landscapes and the isometric tactical battles are all quite splendid. The Banner Sagaís setting and writing give credit to the intelligence of the audience, itís quests show up in a pre-designated order but appear to be diverse in their outcomes, and the turn-based battles are, in these early stages at least, a welcome challenge. 2014 is looking extremely promising for RPG titles on the PC, and Stoicís title is a firm reason for some of that optimism.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun

The Banner SagaĎs first chapter is due out next month. Itís certainly much anticipated, coming from a team of ex-Biowares, and following a phenomenally successful Kickstarter. A tactical RPG, turn-based combat combined with a unique way of delivering its narrative, itís going to be interesting to see how it suits peopleís tastes. It certainly divided John and Adam, as they played through the first three or four hours of the game.
StrategyInformer

Even with it not being the final version The Banner Saga already has its grip on me, so that I found myself eagerly looking forward to playing it when I wasnít doing so. I was excited about it before but now that Iíve played a few hours Iím itching to get my hands on it properly. If Stoic can iron out the last few little faults, implement the choice/consequence system satisfactorily and carry on building the tension right through to a great ending The Banner Saga might turn out to be one of those annoying January games that you have to keep in mind all through the year so you can say how great it is in December. Make sure to check back for our review next month to see how it fares, but now youíll have to excuse me, Iíve got a huge banner to sew.
GamingLives

The Banner Saga is described by Stoic as a ďmature game for adultsĒ and this really does seem to be the case. No hero is apparently safe from a sudden bloody death and the story is one of war against an apparently unstoppable enemy. From what Iíve seen, there is a huge amount of potential for a unique and powerful story to be told and I am looking forward to seeing what happens. You can get yourself wrapped up in this rich tapestry on 14th January when Chapter One is released.
More information.
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December 16th, 2013, 23:17
The RPS review made me somewhat hesitant but the more I ponder it the more I'm willing to bet at least John has committed the cardinal sin of the battle system, killing weakened troops. HP & Strength are the same thing, so a weakened unit poses little threat to your army. Killing them actually helps your opponent as their strong units get to act faster. It's an unusual mechanic that's easy to overlook but once you notice it, it makes a dramatic difference in battles.

The story being confusing and choppy still worries me but I'm still looking forward to this game.
Last edited by greywolf00; December 16th, 2013 at 23:46.
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December 17th, 2013, 07:19
Originally Posted by greywolf00 View Post
…the cardinal sin of the battle system, killing weakened troops. HP & Strength are the same thing, so a weakened unit poses little threat to your army. Killing them actually helps your opponent as their strong units get to act faster.
That's strange. I'll have to try to remember that.
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December 17th, 2013, 07:57
And still no one giving an estimation about how much playing time this is.
See that is my main problem with episodic. I just can't get sufficiently engaged and into a game and its atmosphere in a handful of hours…

Still I guess that if I want these guys to make more chapters (and hence create the complete game I want to play) I might as well chip in when chapter 1 comes out…

P.S Yep it does sound like there are a couple of things about balance they might want to look into a bit (if anything indeed can be done at this point). Does sound like a challenging/non handholding type of game I want to play though at any rate…
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December 17th, 2013, 10:56
Originally Posted by greywolf00 View Post
HP & Strength are the same thing, so a weakened unit poses little threat to your army. Killing them actually helps your opponent as their strong units get to act faster. It's an unusual mechanic that's easy to overlook but once you notice it, it makes a dramatic difference in battles.
Doesn't sound like a very realistic mechanic. I think you are entitled to have some expectations about how combat should work, like if you see someone with a sword you don't expect them to bash stuff with their fists. And it isn't very satisfactory when things don't work out like that and there is no explanation as to why.
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December 17th, 2013, 11:04
Originally Posted by Roq View Post
Doesn't sound like a very realistic mechanic. I think you are entitled to have some expectations about how combat should work, like if you see someone with a sword you don't expect them to bash stuff with their fists. And it isn't very satisfactory when things don't work out like that and there is no explanation as to why.
And an enemy beaten within an inch of his life doing max damage is ?

Originally Posted by greywolf00 View Post
The RPS review made me somewhat hesitant but the more I ponder it the more I'm willing to bet at least John has committed the cardinal sin of the battle system, killing weakened troops. HP & Strength are the same thing, so a weakened unit poses little threat to your army. Killing them actually helps your opponent as their strong units get to act faster.
Can you elaborate on the act faster part. was this a specific mechanic described somewhere ? (I've only skimmed through the reviews)

Is there not i.e. some sort of initiative in place? How is unit turn calculated ? I assume some of you guys have played that online combat component thing ?
Last edited by JonNik; December 17th, 2013 at 11:15.
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December 17th, 2013, 12:19
Originally Posted by JonNik View Post
And an enemy beaten within an inch of his life doing max damage is ?
This is exactly what the mechanic simulates. As said, it's not expected because most games don't use it but it makes perfect sense once you're aware of it. John wound up saying the game doesn't come with a battle tutorial, and that specific mechanic isn't highlighted well in the multiplayer combat game either. But, as I said, once you're realize it, it has a dramatic impact on combat.

The combat system is playable via Banner Saga Factions. It works kind of like chess, you move a piece, the enemy moves a piece. As the enemy has less pieces, the remaining pieces get used more. This is what makes leaving weakened units alive beneficial, it creates a mandatory gimped move.

You can select your units order on the prebattle screen. Units move in order from the left to the right (determined on a screen where you drag available units to the top part and then sort them by who you want to go first). Then, your left most unit moves, then the enemy's first unit moves. Your second unit moves, their second unit moves, etc.
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December 17th, 2013, 12:24
Originally Posted by greywolf00 View Post
The combat system is playable via Banner Saga Factions. It works kind of like chess, you move a piece, the enemy moves a piece. As the enemy has less pieces, the remaining pieces get used more. This is what makes leaving weakened units alive beneficial, it creates a mandatory gimped move.

You can select your units order on the prebattle screen. Units move in order from the left to the right (determined on a screen where you drag available units to the top part and then sort them by who you want to go first). Then, your left most unit moves, then the enemy's first unit moves. Your second unit moves, their second unit moves, etc.
Oh wow this is kind of daft! No initiative depending on the type of unit or, extending the kinda nice hp mechanic, health/strength condition then

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. This sounds quite a bit less than my kind of TB combat then…
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December 17th, 2013, 12:30
I think it's worth kicking the tires on of the combat system on Factions, it's free after all. While I too like initiative systems, I still found Factions to be enjoyable as there's a nice layer of complexity to the combat system.
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December 17th, 2013, 12:33
You are right I should give it a try at least.

It just boggles the mind a bit that they went the extra length on such a nice realistic mechanic as the condition/strenght one we were discussing yet implemented such a gamey TB scheme…

Anyways I am occasionaly in the mood for more gamey experiences. Its just that my insterest slipped a bit for now.

Still beautiful looking (and sounding) game…
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