Of Yules And Rules: Banner Saga’s Holiday Update

What do boulder-shouldered fantasy Vikings do for the holidays? It’s a question that I’ve pondered far more than I care to admit, but I’ve never been able to come up with a conclusive answer. Evidently, however, I just wasn’t looking in the right places. Instead of scouring their mead halls in search of wafting feast fumes and bawdy tunes, I should’ve headed straight for the most axe-strewn, arrow-speckled of battlefields. The Banner Saga’s Vikings, you see, continue to duke it out even as we speak, and a new Yuletide update’s trotted some formidable toys out to the frontline. Thanks, nasty, brutish Viking Santa!

The biggest change is that all 12 classes planned for Factions’ full release are now in place. Another 12, meanwhile, will apparently see the light of day once the single-player campaign launches. Also stewing away in warm cauldrons beneath, erm, Austin, Texas’ frigid wastes is a full-blown tutorial, but for now, Stoic’s added help tabs that give detailed descriptions of skills, abilities, stats, and things of the like.

The new endgame Pillage mode is also a welcome change, given that players with only one character left previously gained a disproportionately huge upper hand in turn order. Now, though, the system’s far less skewed.

There’s still plenty of potential for tide-turning, though. It just makes more sense now – by way of a magic horn, naturally. It can slowly build up a surplus of willpower points, which you can then bestow upon characters at a moment of your choosing. So then, want to gain an early upper hand with damage-boosted attacks? Or maybe you want to have a brute force failsafe in case your tactics prove to be hilariously inadequate. It’s your call.

Beyond that, Stoic’s also dropped in quite a number of interface and usability tweaks. Oh, and even if you didn’t kickstart The Banner Saga, you can now donate a mere $5 to its turn-based cause and jump right into Factions’ beta. So that’s good news. Unless you hate Vikings and turn-based battles of wits. But if that’s the case, well, what do you even like?


  1. Easy says:

    After playing a few matches, I can say this game is a little gem with below the surface a lot of strategic depth. As a bonus, it looks and sounds pretty and the community has this far been delightful. Chatting to kind strangers as you’re hacking away at their playing pieces is a joy ^^ some people compare it to chess with a lot of theme and clever mechanics. One of my best buys of 2012.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Agreed. Not being all that great at TBS (The Banner Saga/Turn Based Strategy, take your pick), I was worried this would be really daunting and full of genius opponents who I had no chance against. Turns out it’s more accessible than that, but still has loads of depth to it. The setting and style are right up my street (I likes Vikings), and it looks absolutely gorgeous.

    • Cosm says:

      Well I think you’ve convinced me to thrown down the $5 to check it out. I’ve been really itching for a game like this for a long time.

    • sweetjer says:

      I purchased beta access about a month ago when it was 15$. I’ve so far put in double the time over any other game I’ve played this year. If it had come out in 2012 it would be goty for me. I can’t recommend it enough for 5$ even though all you get is early access to the f2p. Before you get all principle of the thing about it: it’s the price of a pint and stoic gives us iterations pretty much weekly.

  2. JackDandy says:

    It looks like it’s progressing really nicely. I’ll definitely buy it once it comes out.

    By the way, if you donate 5$ you get the MP mode instantly, and the first chapter (When it’s released), right?

    • AmateurScience says:

      It’s just access to the multiplayer bit – which will be F2P when it leaves beta, but you do get two keys now and some other stuff (looks like the kind of thing that might be microtransactiony when it releases).

      • JackDandy says:

        Hmmm.. F2P, huh. I guess I’ll just look forward to the final game.

  3. LennyLeonardo says:

    This game is great, but it’s not as good as Ultimate Destruction.

  4. Michael Fogg says:

    This looks nice but kinda boardgamey… after the turn based-tactics feast of XCOM it would feel sorta basic. I’ll still probably play it when it comes out.

    • sweetjer says:

      This game is far more entertaining and dynamic than xcom. It also has leagues of strategic depth beyond the fairly simple to master mechanics of xcom. And I played 70 hours on ironman. Also it really does play like a board game but one that would be no fun to play on a board if you had to track all the numbers and count all the squares.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        I hope you’re right.

        • sweetjer says:

          My best comparison would probably be chess meets magic the gathering with more emphasis on chess. On a computer. With Vikings. I can understand holding out till release but continue thinking this looks simple and be in for a pleasant surprise when you get to playing.

  5. Saul says:

    Are the image-fairies on holidays?

    • Noburu says:

      Seems something broke recently with just this article. They worked for me a few hours ago. I keep checking back to see if they posted the Kickstarter Katchup. I am hoping they cover Topia Online this week. link to kck.st

  6. Shiri says:

    I’m pretty sure that this is the best tactics game I’ve ever played, for what it’s trying to do. It is a little overly chess-like (which is to say, it’s the kind of game that’s theoretically solvable with little ambiguity, so the game ends a decent while before it’s officially finished) but it’s so damn fun, the customisation seems actually meaningful despite being ultimately statistics-based, and the whole structure of board control really mattering is so different to things like FFT or Disgaea with their vast aoes and ranges on EVERYTHING. Your guys are often in a really careful cluster, and you often put your fat jotun in front of other units specifically to block them access to your fragile rear lines, or vice versa, but you also want to make sure the archers don’t have to move on their turn for free bonus damage, and not open yourself up to tonnes of splash damage from warhawks, etc. etc.

    I got 2 keys for $15 and had an awful lot of fun with my friend, so I recommend anyone bored over xmas who has even a vague interest in the genre to give it a try if they can find someone else to get it too.

    Disclaimer: I never played the newer Tactics Ogres and they always get praised a tonne so I don’t know how it matches up to that.

    Second disclaimer: If you’re allergic to pay to win that may be a concern, they’re doing the same “pay or grind” model as league of legends. Given the obvious love that’s gone into the game so far I have hopes they’ll be less extortionate with it since they said they just made it free to make sure it had a playerbase, but we’ll see.

    • Cosm says:

      Are you sure they’re using a pay/grind to win type model in the future? I haven’t seen anything about that on the website or their forums, and anything like that would probably ruin the balance they’re working so hard to achieve. As far as I’m aware, they’re only charging for the single-player portion of the game.

  7. Xzi says:

    Want so desperately to buy into this beta, but I’m not sure I could give it the time it deserves, having bought so many other games just recently. Has there been any time frame given for release? Is the single-player campaign slated to be released at the same time as Factions (multiplayer), and as one package?

  8. Arkhonist says:

    Reminds me alot of Gladius. That was such a great game!

  9. unrbcl117 says:

    If you have a favorite one, befriend the sales people so they can give you a heads up when a new batch of used designer duds are shipped. Going into denial will only make matters worse.plagiarismsoftware