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Oregon Frail: The Banner Saga's Brutal Journey

'What a strange fate,' muses Philoso-Dredge, 'that such a slight, brittle object could fell such a majestic beast.'

Order Of Business The First: You should know that The Banner Saga – which I developed a sort of gleeful Stockholm Syndrome toward after it crushed my spirits like so many brittle icicles for three hours – has a release date! Shamefully, we missed the initial announcement, but I will now atone for that mistake by a) telling you and b) dripping hot wax into my eyes. Alright then, let’s begin: The Banner YEAAAAGGHGHGOHHHCHRIST Saga is coming out on NYEAAARGGHHHWHYYY January AAAAAAAAAHHHH 14th PLEASECALLANAAAAAAAAMBULANCE. *Days of intensive care pass* OK, that out of the way, let’s watch a video of The Banner Saga’s Oregon-Trail-but-with-miserably-tough-choices travel system. (I can’t actually see it or anything anymore, but I’ll enjoy it vicariously through you.)

The systems in question – morale, supplies, and population – really do have a huge impact. Managing them isn’t easy. It’s like juggling chainsaws with hooks instead of hands (presumably because you lost your hands the last time you decided it’d be a good idea to juggle chainsaws). As I explained in my preview:

“It was frustrating. It was frustrating because I couldn’t be everything for everybody. For every one person I pleased, I pissed off another ten. But keeping people happy and keeping them alive, as it turned out, were two very, very different things. Going off the beaten path to rescue a village from Dredge assault might have sounded like the right thing to do, but was it really? For my steadily dwindling troops? For my tired, hungry peasants? For morale? For the respect of my best fighters? Playing hero, as it turned out, was rarely practical.”

“I felt like an incompetent, indecisive leader every trudging step of the way, and it was magnificent. The Banner Saga’s world is a harsh, frigid place, and its cast of characters are far from simple lockstep lackeys. If you want their respect, you’ll have to earn it. Sometimes that means making tough calls – ugly decisions that’ll twist and writhe around inside your guts for days to come. But that’s leadership for you. It’s not about being loved. You get results, and you worry about popularity contests later.”

In my experience, it was rough, but never dull. I found myself enjoying the frigid, treacherous road nearly as much as I did the thick of battle. I’m hoping the significantly less rough-around-the-edges launch version is even better, as there’s definitely potential for big things here. We’ll see. (Well, except for me. You know, hot wax and all that.)

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Nathan Grayson

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