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Korica
01-19-2014, 11:28 PM
EDITED

This review is not for the gaming community so much as it is for the devs. I do not really get in the habit of writing reviews too often. But when it comes to games that I really love, if there are elements I can offer well-worded criticism on, I almost feel obligated to. This is one of those scenarios.

Let's start off on the good notes.
I love this game the way I love my favorite band. I don't love every single thing they ever made, I have problems with certain aspects of their music, but literally everything else about them is so utterly awesome and perfect that I am willing to overlook those faults and call them my favorite.

The art-style of this game is amazing and refreshing. The music is awesome and brilliant. Whoever is responsible for writing the story is a genius, whose talent I envy. I must admit that I really do not care for turn-based combat, but this game made it work for me. I would spent more time singing your praises, but what I really came here to do was to share my thoughts on the parts that I did not like. Just be aware that as much as I may criticize, I do so from a place of love.


FIRST – Character Loss and Renown

I’m not opposed to Character Loss. I think it adds a huge amount to these type of games, to be able to lose party members permanently. What I am opposed to, is the unintended consequences of punishing the player with game mechanics for a Character Loss. To put it more simply, if a player spends Renown to Promote a character, and then that Character dies, the player ought to be reimbursed in some manner.

Renown is not really part of the story, it’s not a tangible thing like gold, but strictly a game mechanic used as currency. If someone were attempting to play the game on Hard and ended up making a lot of mistakes about who to Promote, and ended up losing many of those Characters, it would be quite possible (I think) to reach a point where they would get stuck because their Heroes were too weak and/or too few. I would call that poor game design.

This is particularly true of scenarios where Character Loss is either unclear or uncontrollable. If you actively choose to let a Character die, you know what you are giving up. But there are multiple instances in the game of Characters being killed (or otherwise removed from your roster) without your consent. I think Character Loss without consent is actually very good for the storytelling, but the problem lies in the player not being reimbursed for any Renown they might have invested into the Character.

In my own case, I had this happen a few times. I Promoted Gunnulf, and then he died on the cliff. I Promoted Ludin, and then had him sent away. I Promoted Eirik, and then let him leave. I Promoted Fasolt, and then he died on the bridge. Over time I became rather paranoid and started to Promote only Hakon, Rook, Oddlief, and Tryggvi. Not necessarily because I found them the most useful, but because I had confidence that they were the least likely to be killed off. In total I would say I probably lost about 80 Renown, and that is the part that bothered me. Not the Character Loss, but the Renown Loss.
(And in case you were wondering why I sent Ludin away and let Eirik leave, it is because I was thinking about the story. I was making these decisions based on what I thought Hakon would do, rather than thinking about how many Heroes I as a player wanted in my Roster.)



SECOND – Lack of Female Fighters

Sexism is a touchy subject for some people. Banner Saga seems to do what most fantasy stories do, and use our own view of history as a basis for its society, following more-or-less in the footsteps of traditional gender roles. But let us not forget that The Banner Saga draws huge inspiration from old Norse culture and stories. And those stories have ample amount of Viking women fighting alongside the men, with spears, swords and axes. Shieldmaidens were quite a common thing. There are female Heroes in the game, but they are all exclusively Archers.

I highly doubt that anybody at Stoic stood up on a table and shouted “There will be no Shieldmaidens in this game! If women must fight, they will stand in the back and shoot arrows!” When I learned about this game and bought it, the thought never even crossed my mind that there might not be Shieldmaidens in it. I visited the Fan Art section of the Forums and the first three submissions I saw were all women with spears and swords, so clearly I am not the only one who wants to see this.

If we look at the entire roster of Heroes, there are only 4 Women. By comparison, there are 10 Men. This is not counting the Varl, of which there are 9. Even if you wanted to, you could not field a team comprised entirely of Women, because there simply aren’t enough. Not to mention the fact that since they are all Archers, they would be unable to form a very dynamic team.

I would not say this game is overtly sexist, but I think it does carry with it some unintentional sexism which does it a grave disservice. A prime example would be when Oddlief, the Chieftain’s Wife (who is a skilled archer) tells Rook that she believes he should lead because she is a woman – people wouldn’t respect a woman leader, it would put the caravan in danger, etc. There are plenty of more legitimate reasons that Rook should be in charge, some of which are mentioned, but gender seems to be the one which is brought to the forefront and used as the crux of the argument.

By now it may be too late to change these things for this game, but the story is far from over. You can better in the future, Stoic. I know you can.



THIRD - Bellower

Yes, an entire section devoted to one battle. Because it caused me (and others) that much grief.

I think I can summarize why the Bellower fight is bad in a fairly concise manner. The most basic problem is that it breaks the established rules of the game.

First, it forces you to bring along Heroes that you might not want to. This is especially a problem if you never use those Heroes and they are still Rank 1. Additionally, when it comes time to fight Bellower, you are not given adequate ability to prepare. For me personally, all my best Heroes were injured from previous fights but I had no option to Rest. I was forced to use either Injured or Low-Ranking Heroes for the Final Battle of the Game.

Second, it is an incredibly inconvenient fight which forces you to use one particular strategy to defeat an enemy, rather than letting you come up with your own solution.

Third, Bellower is simply an annoying opponent to face. Boss fights should be fun, not frustrating. Bellower breaks the rules of turn-based combat by getting a free turn whenever attacked, not to mention his ability to regenerate Armor and Strength, or his ability to Damage and Reposition your entire party at once, while also denying one of them a turn. Gods help you he decides to repeatedly Stun somebody who is important to your strategy, like an Armor-breaker.

I played through the entire game losing in Battle only once. I lost to Bellower about 15 times, even after I turned the Difficulty down to Easy. I’ve seen quite a few other people making posts about them having difficulty with the Bellower fight.


EDITED: More Below


FOURTH – Wars

I was extremely excited for the Wars. Battles are fine, of course, but the fact that extra fighting was added in, fighting that made the caravan seem relevant, was an awesome bonus. But I found myself disappointed with the Wars when I finally experienced them, for two main reasons.

First, the Choices you are given seem to be rather pointless. I tried them all once or twice and really did not notice any significant differences. I’m sure somebody smarter than me has either looked into the code or run enough experiments to determine what exactly is the difference between Charge and Formations, but I couldn’t see it.

If you give a player a multitude of ways to response to something, and the player cannot see any difference between the outcomes of those choices, I think that means you have failed to deliver the dynamic and interesting experience that it was meant to deliver.

Second, the Wars lacked any variation. Every battle goes the same. You are approached by X number of Dredge, you Attack or Flee (as if there is any real reason to not attack), and then you move on. The repetitive nature of the Wars is demonstrated in excess by the chapter in which Hakon leads his Varl caravan through War after War after War.

I think the War system would benefit enormously from some randomly generated variations in events. Perhaps if you decide to Charge the enemy, a Second army might move in from behind to flank you, and you would then have to decide how to respond to it. Not to mention, it would be nice to fight things other than just Dredge. Bandit ambushes, perhaps?



FIFTH – Kills for Promotion

Not a huge issue, but definitely something worth noting. I've seen some other people talking about it already.

A total lack of any sort of Assist system means that the only way to rank up is to directly get Kills. This means it is possible to bring a Hero into every single battle you encounter, and if by some stroke of bad luck they never land the final blows, they can never be promoted. It inadvertently forces the player to focus less on the overall strategy they might want to use, but rather on setting up the fight so that certain Heroes deal the final blow, which is simply silly.

raven2134
01-20-2014, 07:38 AM
First, 2 words: Awesome feedback :).

Thanks for taking the time to post all this. Really glad you liked the game and even gladder you came to the forums to share. I do think these points can be taken and used/considered in the future. It's all well reasoned, well said, and I can really tell they have at their heart the affection for the game and the want to improve on it.

I do think your second and third point will add both depth and enjoyment to future work. And I think your first point means it's probably a good idea to mix in some way for players to get something back from losing characters, or to really make some character losses, a conscious and significantly weighted choice. I.e. maybe we should have a choice or 2 in the game where we WILL know this will mean losing something to gain something else and that is a choice.

Aleonymous
01-20-2014, 09:14 AM
FIRST – Character Loss and Renown

That bothers me too. I want choices to be between equally good (or good) decisions, and not right/wrong or unforeseen (even if it can be eventually reasoned) situations. That Gunnulf-permadeath (vs. Ubin's wagon) "choice" is the prominent example of that...


SECOND – Lack of Female Fighters

+1. I'd like to see more female fighters too. Also, I found it quite weird that the Dredge Slingers (the only ranged Dredge attackers) are revealed to be female! A coincidence? :)


THIRD - Bellower

I played the game on Normal and didn't lose a single fight until Bello. I beat him on 2nd try on Normal, and on 1st try on Hard. I understand all those issues you pointed out (bringing specific character, unable to rest/heal etc); they have been raised multiple times. But, in overall, I liked the final battle and I think it serves the role of the "Boss Fight", so Bello gotta be a little tough imo. I, personally, see no harm in that happening by adding "new" abilities that alter some fundamental game mechanics (self-healing on Phase#1, extra-turn on Phase#2). Finally, if you ask me, I'd have the game be a lot harder. Why should anyone be able to beat the game in one sitting (~10hrs), even on easy? Because he purchased it? How about all those who purchased the game seeking a challenge?

roder
01-20-2014, 09:55 AM
i loved the bellower fight! :D i wouldnt say it was a cut and dry strategy imo, i had to use his own troops as intereference to prevent him from hitting me. im sure there are a lot of strategies that would be successful. think about Skystriker trap to neutralize bellower. stonewall to block off his attacks and take reduced damage. battering ram to hit him past his own units and away from your archer backline (which i kept doing xD)

all your other points were very reasonable. id agree with them all except bellower :P which i enjoyed fighting, but that is the first battle i lost as well lol

Veektarius
01-20-2014, 09:56 AM
Since I made an account simply to add similar feedback, I'll put it here. I really liked what the game had to offer and I hope the future installments of the saga will come relatively quickly now that the engine is in place (though I can't imagine the art will be nearly as easy to churn out) I shared the OP's problems but have different proposed solutions.

1) Renown is an illogical currency

I've found it totally impossible to internally justify exactly what renown represent. How does it reflect A) a barrier to the development of my characters' skills, regardless of their experience in combat B) A means of paying for goods and C) something that is obtained mostly by fighting enemies but D) is definitely not gold? I understand the resource scarcity aspect of things, but just let players level up their characters and let the currency limit stuff like items, supplies, and maybe equipment, if you'd like to add that aspect. This would solve the problem with lost characters as well. For my part, I had to spend so much on supplies that I only had developed 3 characters to level 5 for the final fight (not counting Eyvind).

2) The chess-style alternating turns regardless of unit count should be removed:

For most of the game, this was not a big deal, and actually favored me when I was significantly outnumbered. However, when it came to Bellower, the problems with this setup became pronounced. The easiest (maybe only?) way to get Bellower's armor down was to get yourself in the pillage state where all your characters could move before he does and you could whittle away his health. But before you can get to that stage, as the enemy has fewer pieces, Bellower gets a chance to wipe a character basically every other move. That's going to remain true in any future boss battles you put in. It also makes the "forge ahead" ability way less useful, as you move no more often than you would otherwise. Of course, the added difficulty when outnumbered could be offset if you allowed the player to match the enemy's number of troops if he has the heroes to spare... but no one ever wants to do that.

Nelson Rosenberg
01-20-2014, 10:12 AM
I really don't see the problem with the Bellower fight; True, I first tried it on easy mode and it was REALLY easy, much more than some of the other fights. For staters, Bellower is weaker than Destroyers (the blue colored big dredge), I had 3 varl in the fight, one shield and two for damage. All with maximum armor break and no items. Position them in front of Bellower, hit his armor really hard with all the willpower you can and shoot the arrow. Won in the first round. For the second part, just repeat but just damage his armor once and them just go for str. Didn't even kill any of the other dredges.
I'm not sure if the fight has been changed since launching, but that description holds true as of Jan 20.

Cheers!

dufake
01-20-2014, 10:35 AM
Female Fighters

It appears that there are a lot of female dredges on the battlefield, and their starving children.

Bellower

Agree. It's like fighting a cheater.
I lose my armor breaker in that backstab event, and the game punish me with an ultra armor enemy.

Baldwin IV.
01-20-2014, 11:46 AM
SECOND – Lack of Female Fighters

Human woman would be the only posibility, if I am not wrong, as the Varl only can come to existence through creation. Not sure if this implies that there are no female (ore at least female looking Varl) existent.

Ulfrith
01-20-2014, 12:54 PM
the part of losing characters to see a reward later,be it story wise,+ supplies sent from gretefull departing character would be great,but its not currently in game is it? the Eikil example,i kept him around,but escorted the family to Strand and sent 15 Varl to gather the treasure and sent it to Strand again,so even while it s a vipers den pollitically i send some kinda reinforcements i guess,let me know any new info on this,as i also fear to lose Fasolt but break the alliance as well,is it confirmed to have repercussions on chapter 2 of the Saga??please developers help me out there ;)

Myll_Erik
01-20-2014, 01:15 PM
Thanks for your feedback/review :)

illathid
01-20-2014, 02:06 PM
I would not say this game is inherently sexist, but I think it does carry with it some unintentional sexism which does it a disservice. A good example would be when Oddlief, the Chieftain’s Wife (who is a skilled archer) tells Rook that she believes he should lead because the people of the Caravan would not want to follow a woman. Another example would be, if Oddlief starts training the women of the Caravan to shoot, their husbands come to Rook to complain about it.


I just wanted to address this point, as it seems somewhat misplaced. I don't think the example you bring up with Oddlief was unintentional at all. I think it was there to explicitly drive home that this is in fact a sexist world. However, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. The story strongly hints that Oddlief might be the best person to lead the caravan, but she isn't because of the sexist nature of the world. This serves to highlight the injustice of these sexist views, which is a good message in my opinion.

So yeah, yes there's sexism, but IMHO it serves a good purpose in the story.

GreenDread
01-20-2014, 03:13 PM
I think it was there to explicitly drive home that this is in fact a sexist world.

That's how I understood it, too. If I remember correctly, you can ask her, if she could lead (implying that she's the best candidate), but she denies, saying that the men would just not respect her as much as a leader and especially other leaders might not consider her an equal.
Seems like a rather serious approach to this issue, showing the problems of sexism instead of ignoring it by saying "Here women are completely equal"

But I also hope, that there will be a female melee class in the next game and hopefully also a female main character.

loveboof
01-20-2014, 03:49 PM
I just wanted to address this point, as it seems somewhat misplaced. I don't think the example you bring up with Oddlief was unintentional at all. I think it was there to explicitly drive home that this is in fact a sexist world. However, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. The story strongly hints that Oddlief might be the best person to lead the caravan, but she isn't because of the sexist nature of the world. This serves to highlight the injustice of these sexist views, which is a good message in my opinion.

Spot on! This perfectly explains why the game itself is not sexist, but rather the game world. Which can actually be a powerful means of exploring an issue like sexism. Who needs a bland, politically correct game world where there is no space to analyse wider issues? Especially in a game with a fair amount of darker themes (even if it does look so darn pretty...)

Lochlan
01-20-2014, 05:34 PM
But I also hope, that there will be a female melee class in the next game and hopefully also a female main character.

Agreed. I would love to see something like a Shield Maiden as a new class. As for your second point, well, I suppose that would depend on the choice you make at the end...

Mhorhe
01-20-2014, 06:47 PM
SECOND – Lack of Female Fighters

Sexism is a touchy subject for some people. Banner Saga seems to do what most fantasy stories do, and use our own view of history as a basis for its society, following more-or-less in the footsteps of traditional gender roles. But let us not forget that The Banner Saga draws huge inspiration from old Norse culture and stories. And those stories have ample amount of Viking women fighting alongside the men, with spears, swords and axes. Shieldmaidens were quite a common thing. There are female Heroes in the game, but they are all exclusively Archers.

I highly doubt that anybody at Stoic stood up on a table and shouted “There will be no Shieldmaidens in this game! If women must fight, they will stand in the back and shoot arrows!” When I learned about this game and bought it, the thought never even crossed my mind that there might not be Shieldmaidens in it. I visited the Fan Art section of the Forums and the first three submissions I saw were all women with spears and swords, so clearly I am not the only one who wants to see this.

I would not say this game is inherently sexist, but I think it does carry with it some unintentional sexism which does it a disservice. A good example would be when Oddlief, the Chieftain’s Wife (who is a skilled archer) tells Rook that she believes he should lead because the people of the Caravan would not want to follow a woman. Another example would be, if Oddlief starts training the women of the Caravan to shoot, their husbands come to Rook to complain about it.

By now it may be too late to change these things for this game, but the story is far from over. You can better in the future, Stoic. I know you can.

Like others before me, I too would like to address this. While sexism is undoubtedly a real and aggravating issue, talking about sexism in Banner Saga is being a tad too politically correct.

1) The "issue" of women "only" fighting with bows and arrows (and the equivalent dredge slings) is faintly ludicrous. What's next, comment that Varl being femaleless (and sexless..) is also sexist? Women obviously play a major role on the battlegrounds of the Banner Saga world, on both sides of the fence. So they're not hefting shields around.. it's not exactly a chainmail bikini issue. Why is it sexist to have them as archers only? If we follow that logic through, I'll call it.. uh..reverse sexism? that no man but Rook seem to be able to use a bow. What, are they inferior? How dare you Stoic? HOW DARE YOU?
Firing a bow with enough strength to penetrate obsidian is not quite the same as needling. If it quells your anger any, the one time we have a woman going mano a mano with a man (Alette versus Ekkil) the man gets stabbed through the heart. With an arrow. BY HAND.

2) The husbands' complaint example. The women Oddi is training are quite obviously farmer wives and daughters. They have not trained or prepared in any way for war, let alone war against an enemy so utterly alien and terrifying. The reaction of their husbands, fathers and brothers is only natural. By contrast, no one bats an eye about Oddi or Alette (who have received extensive training) going into battle. Because it's something they've prepared for, at least in some manner, and it's something expected of them.

3) The Oddi discussion example. I don't agree that this is an example of a world being inherently sexist (like Westeros) - or if it is, it's only slightly so. Even Skogr's chieftain relied heavily on Rook. It follows that he's become sort of a figurehead for the entire town. He's also a pathfinder, a hunter - what better guide for such a journey as they face.
Note that Oddi and later Alette are pretty essential to keeping the whole thing together, especially Alette. Who's basically spelled out as being half the leadership of the caravan (the conversation with Ekkil). In point of fact, female characters in Banner Saga rank amongst the best fleshed out and strongest in the game. Oddi, Alette, Juno..

EinarNordwin
01-20-2014, 07:41 PM
I playd the Campaign on normal and need at last around 10 hours. The Bellower fight i beat too at my second try it was so easy. No battle or war was hard in this Game. I dislike the complete Game (not for the difficulty level, i play it on normal if that was my Problem i play again on hard). You fight only dredge and the Campaign is again a booring Fantasy Crap, Sorry.

What i like was the Landscapes and the Music thats a Pice of Art.
The characters were ok but too superficial for an RPG. For a shooter RPG mix it would be appropriate. But in principle, the game was indeed a shooter like RPG MIX.

To 90% only kill those boring gray black dregde. I had to force myself then literally end the game. I would have liked more caravans management and role-playing. But that was a waste Dredge slaughter after another. A handful of fighting against non-dredge were also there ok, but it was just too little.. I had expected against wolves and similar animals / monsters to have to fight and my camp having to manage. It was really short and disappointing the game.

Rensei
01-20-2014, 08:39 PM
FIRST – Character Loss and Renown
Hurt me too - badly. Still, it kinda made me think really hard about my choices, and I felt really hurt, really emotional about the random act of betrayal - maybe it's not a necessarily bad thing?
I mean it felt a bit lame and made my final team weaker, but it took me very little time to get emotionally attached to my "vikings". Kinda like with XCOM soldiers - You realize they can die any second, and suddenly You care about them.

SECOND – Lack of Female Fighters
Female. Couldn't care less.
OK, I guess it would be great to see a bad-ass shieldmaiden (preferably looking like Lagertha from Vikings series <3), but it's not like all Saga women were hidden in the Kitchen. You are sounding like the guy from few months back arguing there should be black people in the game. He even came up with some politically correct term for them - People of Colour O_o, glad You're asking for females, not People of Boobs.

THIRD - Bellower
Easiest fight possible, that can be made more challenging if You, for example, decide to kill every other dredge, before even touching Bello. If You end up with lvl1 Rook and/or Alette and are forced to use them, You'r A team is badly hurt etc. You are free to take full advantage of the battle's specific mechanics and end it in few moves.
It's as linear as You make it. Looking for a challenge? End it in set amount of turns, after defeating the bodyguards, only indirect lightning strikes and clever diagonal positioning (this one is great - super challenging)... the possibilities are endless. Feel tired after fighting through entire game again? Go linear.
He gets free move after hit only in P2, and it's NOT a free move - he replaces someone else. This mechanic is his ultimate downfall and makes P2 disappointingly easy - once You get his hp down a bit You have a funny little doggy running between Your guys trying to hurt them.
His ability is willpower dependent - lure him to use some to shorten distance to some juicy target You prepared as a lure or just endure the 2-3 he usually tosses.

Tychoxi
01-20-2014, 10:24 PM
FIRST – Character Loss and Renown
This didn't bother me to be honest. Hard loses is pretty much what this game is about.

SECOND – Lack of Female Fighters
I was also a little bugged with females-as-archers-only, and no male archers too (aside from Rook who's a special case), my thoughts were on it largely being related to budget restraints. On the other hand a male-centric culture in a work of fiction doesn't bother me, I felt Oddelief made very good points during that conversation. As you said though, a different game with a different setting could have a more gender-neutral thing going on, to be honest when it comes to videogames I consider a win when there's simply no oversexualized females, which is something I appreciated with The Banner Saga

THIRD - Bellower
I didn't find problems here but I agree on having an option to rest there.

Korica
01-21-2014, 01:10 AM
In response to all the people claiming that my comments about the need for Shieldmaidens or the game being sexist...

I must say your reactions have disappointed me. When somebody calls for a bit more equality and the crowd shouts back "That's insane! You're being too PC!" I think that says a lot more about you than it does about me.

Sexism in a story can serve a purpose, just like racism can, or most other "-isms". But if you are going to include those things, you ought to actually make something useful out of them. Just because the story is set in a sexist world is not a valid excuse to says "Whelp, that's just the way the world is..." and leave it at that. You can use that narrative to bring up topics of gender inequality in a manner which is positive. (By way of example, since the Varl are essentially genderless, perhaps they might find the Human notion that women are weak to be completely idiotic.) As some of you pointed out, the game is not devoid some positive messages on equality, but they do seem outnumbered or inconsequential against the story as a whole.

I think many people fail to realize how many potential gamers feel alienated by this consistent attitude that making games inclusive to all genders is somehow unnecessary or "not their problem". It's not about political correctness. It never has been. Stop trying to use that as an excuse for your own apathy about the subject of sexism.

illathid
01-21-2014, 01:31 AM
Sexism in a story can serve a purpose, just like racism can, or most other "-isms". But if you are going to include those things, you ought to actually make something useful out of them. Just because the story is set in a sexist world is not a valid excuse to says "Whelp, that's just the way the world is..." and leave it at that. You can use that narrative to bring up topics of gender inequality in a manner which is positive.

Yeah, and I would say that bringing up the "topics of gender inequality in a manner which is positive" is explicitly what the game is doing, at least in the two examples you mentioned. If you have some other example where that isn't happening, such that it outnumbers the two you listed or makes each of them inconsequential, that's another matter.

Aleonymous
01-21-2014, 03:41 AM
Sexism is a touchy subject for some people...unintentional sexism...

It seems like everything said (or left unsaid) can be twisted into sounding sexist, in a direct or indirect manner. For me, there's no such thing as pure white or pitch black; just shades of grey.

Mierko
01-21-2014, 04:49 AM
FIRST – Character Loss and Renown
Renown reimbursement would make the game pretty easy. On my first run I lost Egil after he was Rank 4 and the entire basis of my strategy. Egil goes head first into all the heavy melee and absorbs damage for 4+ turns while I mow down everything on the other side of the board. When I lost him I reloaded for about 45m trying every conversation I could before I realized he was doomed. That was the point. You made a choice in a previous chapter and this is what happens. If I got the points back I could have just insta-buffed Rook, Iver, Odd or Tryggvi to Rank 5. The issue was never the kills it was always the Renown. You shouldn't be rewarded for losing one of your heroes.

SECOND – Lack of Female Fighters
I was expecting a shield maiden or a spear wielder, but it could always happen in the sequel.

As far as TBS-Part One goes, if any character could have been swapped from a man to a woman (storywise) it would have been Tryggvi. I don't even think the dialogue would need to change apart from a few "him" to "her"s. Trygg is one of my favorite characters but I would totally endorse it and frankly the character could have been a bit more interesting.

THIRD - Bellower
Bello beat me the first time I tried on normal, but once I learned the mechanics, it was a breeze. Alette was only Rank 2 at the time and generally worthless, but as mentioned in another post I just kept ping-pong'ing him between ranged armor breakers while others rested to build up for a charge with full exertion on attacks. I am on my second play (Hard) so maybe it will be a different story, but if I am reading things right in another thread, in part 1 you don't even need to kill all of his bodyguards. You just wear down his armor and then special arrow. Personally I liked the Bellower fight, but I have a feeling that it will be a massive pain in the ass on Hard.

I didn't try it but on part 2 can't you just position everyone in place and have Rook hit him with his ability so everyone gets a shot in? That way you don't get stomped every time you hit him.

Mhorhe
01-21-2014, 08:00 AM
In response to all the people claiming that my comments about the need for Shieldmaidens or the game being sexist...

Sexism in a story can serve a purpose, just like racism can, or most other "-isms". But if you are going to include those things, you ought to actually make something useful out of them. Just because the story is set in a sexist world is not a valid excuse to says "Whelp, that's just the way the world is..." and leave it at that. You can use that narrative to bring up topics of gender inequality in a manner which is positive. As some of you pointed out, the game is not devoid some positive messages on equality, but they do seem outnumbered or inconsequential against the story as a whole.

Your post here assumes that you have indeed proved the game sexist and asked for equality, and the evil conservative mob of gamers started clubbering you for it.

Problem is, you've done nothing of the sort. You gave some examples that felt sexist to YOU, and very little or not at all to others. You have not touched in any way the explanations others have given to these situations you put a sexist spin on - it's like only your version of things is the correct one, all the others are just blind to the horrid sexism of the game :|

Fighting in battle shoulder to shoulder with men except they're not using the same tools is not sexist, that's ludicrous. I think your determination to prove the game sexist outstrips your desire for truth.. Firing even a simple hunting bow, with accuracy and at decent ranges, is not a feat for the faint of heart. The bows used in Banner Saga are capable of penetrating Dredge obsidian (hell, you can even armor break with them :)..) and those apparently armored shirts and pants everyone non-Dredge wears. This puts them on even grounds with the real live Gaelic longbows.. and those are not for the weekend warrior.

People concerned about the welfare of their children or significant others when marching off to war against the most terrible foe imaginable is not sexist, that's ludicrous. When men protested, it wasn't in a manner of pitchforks and torches "WOMEN! BACK TO THE COOKING FIRES!". They weren't protesting the fact women were engaging in some prohibit activity, they were protesting their loved ones were to be marched off into dire danger! It's also interesting how you conveniently ignore the fact that the sexist, sexist farmers who did not want to see their wives turned into Dredge bait, did not protest Odd taking those women and girls out to train for an extensive period of time.

Rook being preferred over Oddi is not a clear cut of "Bah, boobs, she can't lead us!" This is, however, the one case where you might be a shade correct. Except.. you're not being consistent. You're very annoyed by the lack of Shieldmaidens in this world that reflects the Viking world.. and you're also annoyed that this world that reflects the Viking world is a touch sexist! Yes, Nordic women had a lot more freedom in many respects than their counterparts of the age. Yes, Nordic women could be warriors, could even ascend to the heavens like their male counterparts (or honour of honours, be selected as a Valkyrie). Hell, Vikings even had specific punishments against rape that were revolutionary compared to their day and age. For all that, though, sadly women took a backseat in the Viking world as they did elsewhere in their day and age. And when using it for inspiration and flavor, you are unfortunately bound to borrow some of that.


(By way of example, since the Varl are essentially genderless, perhaps they might find the Human notion that women are weak to be completely idiotic.)

This human notion being touted by some less wise in the real world, maybe? Because there is not one moment in the game where that happens - that is, someone decries women as "weak". None of the examples you gave come close to that even if they proved sexism. The most powerful human character in the game is Juno.......definitely the most powerful human character in appearance, and one of the most powerful of everything around fullstop (being a Valka).


I must say your reactions have disappointed me. When somebody calls for a bit more equality and the crowd shouts back "That's insane! You're being too PC!" I think that says a lot more about you than it does about me.
I think many people fail to realize how many potential gamers feel alienated by this consistent attitude that making games inclusive to all genders is somehow unnecessary or "not their problem". It's not about political correctness. It never has been. Stop trying to use that as an excuse for your own apathy about the subject of sexism.

Way to take the moral high ground.

The fact that you stroll in here, present some arguments and draw an irrefutable conclusion from them(actually scold the devs, no less), ignore any counterarguments to your point and proceed to casually insult everyone who disagreed with you, says volumes about yourself. And not recommended read volumes, to be sure.

It's incredibly easy to put a sexist spin on things, and you're it doing here. Yes, sexism is a real issue, in games as in life, and we can talk it over as much as you want wherever the Stoic forums puts its off topic threads. There's plenty of bikini chainmail warrioresses and D-cup sorceresses and poor helpless game characters in need of a white knight out there. Banner Saga, though, ain't that.



It seems like everything said (or left unsaid) can be twisted into sounding sexist, in a direct or indirect manner. For me, there's no such thing as pure white or pitch black; just shades of grey.

Yeah, and I would say that bringing up the "topics of gender inequality in a manner which is positive" is explicitly what the game is doing, at least in the two examples you mentioned. If you have some other example where that isn't happening, such that it outnumbers the two you listed or makes each of them inconsequential, that's another matter.

I'd upvote these two posts if I had the option :) Well said.

netnazgul
01-21-2014, 10:55 AM
When you say the game is being sexist, you are sexist too. Dodge that

Nelson Rosenberg
01-21-2014, 12:00 PM
I have played the game for long hours and the only time I saw gender coming up was with Oddi being the leader and again when she trains the archers. The leader parte was very well done. She fears that some will think that she is weak (even if she can't be sure of that) and that even if her village trusts her, people from other villages might think they are weak for being lead by a women and try to take advantage. It's a very good argument if you take into consideration the Viking theme of the game. And Mhorhe already did a very good argumento for the training of archers.

So why must this discussions exist? It seems like every piece of media MUST be pro or against some -ism or another. There writers were only telling a story, and an excellent one. They are not concerned with matters of any type of -ism. I don't think this is the media to deal with those subjects. Can't we just enjoy a good story without stopping to think if the boobs are too big of if the color is too white?

Mhorhe
01-21-2014, 01:02 PM
So why must this discussions exist? It seems like every piece of media MUST be pro or against some -ism or another. There writers were only telling a story, and an excellent one. They are not concerned with matters of any type of -ism. I don't think this is the media to deal with those subjects. Can't we just enjoy a good story without stopping to think if the boobs are too big of if the color is too white?

;) excellently put.

netnazgul
01-21-2014, 01:42 PM
This is the exact time the discussion about the game lacking people of other skin colors should arise... :D

simon280586
01-21-2014, 02:24 PM
Lots of people in this thread have already done a great job of putting the sexism argument into context. I would also point out that there is an issue of development costs. Designing and animating the game's characters is by no means a simple (or cheap) task. Remember this is a very small studio operating on a limited budget, and it would likely have been prohibitive in terms of costs and time to create female versions for each class. Clearly, though, Stoic wanted to include female characters and so they dedicated archers to that purpose. This is a positive thing, no?

Korica
01-22-2014, 12:03 AM
Your post here assumes that you have indeed proved the game sexist and asked for equality, and the evil conservative mob of gamers started clubbering you for it.
Hardly anything that bad. I've found the discussion to be quite civil compared to a lot of other internet conversations I've had. On further reading it actually seems there was less disagreement with my accusations of sexism than I originally thought, so perhaps I was overzealous in my retort.

The major focus of that part of my review was simply to say "There isn’t many female fighters. I expected Shieldmaidens and the game doesn't have any. You should add some in the future."
My notes about the sexist world-setting were not the main point of that section, and certainly not the main point of my review as a whole. They also seem to have gone ignored by the people who are complaining about the accusations of sexism.
Sexism aside, we can at least agree that Shieldmaidens would be a nice addition to the game, no?

Points raised about Rook’s leadership are completely valid, he most likely is the better leader, but not because he is a man. That really is not the issue.
The issue is that in the conversation gender is used as the key argument for why Rook should be leader. Oddlief chooses to focus on the fact that a woman leading the caravan would be bad, rather than focusing on the multitude of other reasons that Rook should be the leader.

If you were to paraphrase the conversation between Rook and Oddlief, it would look something like this.
Oddlief: Rook, I think you should be the leader.
Rook: Why?
Oddlief: Because it would be a bad idea for a woman to lead the caravan.
Rook: Oh, yeah, I guess you’re right.

I am not suggesting the writer(s) intended for this dialogue to reinforce negative, sexist, ideas. But in the end, it is.
They could have easily written it without the gender connotations, instead having Oddlief tell Rook that she doesn’t want to lead, that he has the skills necessary for the job, and/or reminding him that the Chieftain wanted him to lead. You could easily alter the conversation such that gender is not involved at all, and the story would only be made better by it.
The sexism doesn’t add anything positive to the writing, but it does add something potentially negative. That’s the problem.

By way of counter-example, look at the ending of the game. Alette comes to Rook and asks him if she can fire the arrow at Bellower. This conversation does a much better job in not using Alette’s gender as a point of concern. It’s not about a woman asking a man’s permission, it’s about a child asking a parent’s permission. You could swap the genders and the conversation would be completely unchanged. It brings nothing negative to the table.

It’s all these sorts of tiny little details that make the difference.
Sexism in this medium is not usually about vicious misogyny, but rather the misguided notion that these little things don’t matter and aren’t worth putting effort into changing. Small things like letting people choose to be a Female soldier in Call of Duty, rather than forcing everybody to be male. Small things like making NPCs have random genders instead of assigning them all the default of male. It might not make a difference to you, but it will make a difference to someone else, and the game is only made better by it. There is no advantage to knowingly alienating fifty percent of the entire population.


I would also point out that there is an issue of development costs. Designing and animating the game's characters is by no means a simple (or cheap) task … Clearly, though, Stoic wanted to include female characters and so they dedicated archers to that purpose. This is a positive thing, no?

The old argument of “It takes too much time/money to animate females!” is, at best, incredibly lazy, and at worst, intentionally dishonest. The devs behind games like Blacklight Retribution (FPS that includes male and female avatars) have come out as saying such.

I would also add that saying “Hey, at least they included females at all, that’s good, right?” is almost barbaric in how sexist it sounds.







All that said, I would really prefer it if the thread was not derailed to focus upon this one single topic. I consider it to be an important topic, worthy of its own discussion, but somewhere else. I suppose it’s your choice if you want to keep talking about it here, but I’m done discussing it in this thread!

Mhorhe
01-22-2014, 02:22 AM
Hardly anything that bad. I've found the discussion to be quite civil compared to a lot of other internet conversations I've had. On further reading it actually seems there was less disagreement with my accusations of sexism than I originally thought, so perhaps I was overzealous in my retort.

Glad to hear it then.


The major focus of that part of my review was simply to say "There isn’t many female fighters. I expected Shieldmaidens and the game doesn't have any. You should add some in the future."

I don't see why it wouldn't be a good idea, but more on that later.




Points raised about Rook’s leadership are completely valid, he most likely is the better leader, but not because he is a man. That really is not the issue.
The issue is that in the conversation gender is used as the key argument for why Rook should be leader. Oddlief chooses to focus on the fact that a woman leading the caravan would be bad, rather than focusing on the multitude of other reasons that Rook should be the leader.

If you were to paraphrase the conversation between Rook and Oddlief, it would look something like this.
Oddlief: Rook, I think you should be the leader.
Rook: Why?
Oddlief: Because it would be a bad idea for a woman to lead the caravan.
Rook: Oh, yeah, I guess you’re right.

I am not suggesting the writer(s) intended for this dialogue to reinforce negative, sexist, ideas. But in the end, it is.
They could have easily written it without the gender connotations, instead having Oddlief tell Rook that she doesn’t want to lead, that he has the skills necessary for the job, and/or reminding him that the Chieftain wanted him to lead. You could easily alter the conversation such that gender is not involved at all, and the story would only be made better by it.
The sexism doesn’t add anything positive to the writing, but it does add something potentially negative. That’s the problem.
By way of counter-example, look at the ending of the game. Alette comes to Rook and asks him if she can fire the arrow at Bellower. This conversation does a much better job in not using Alette’s gender as a point of concern. It’s not about a woman asking a man’s permission, it’s about a child asking a parent’s permission. You could swap the genders and the conversation would be completely unchanged. It brings nothing negative to the table.

Au contraire, I find that the way the Oddi - Rook conversation is phrased one of the few points in the game where you feel these are differing genders and not sexless drawings. It's in a slightly negative way, but so very slight. In point of fact, the Oddi - Rook duo gives this (mostly sexless) world some color in the manner of a believable man - woman interaction. There's even some very slight play at attraction at one point. By contrast, what you said - "swapping the genders and the conversation would be completely unchanged" - is that a good thing for any man-woman discussion? That IS the discussion between a man and his daughter. The discussion between Oddi and Rook is between a (presumably straight) man and a (presumably straight) woman, both of whom are single (albeit the latter is recently widowed and grieving). Variations between how each of them relates to their own gender and to the opposite gender should be obvious..



It’s all these sorts of tiny little details that make the difference.
Sexism in this medium is not usually about vicious misogyny, but rather the misguided notion that these little things don’t matter and aren’t worth putting effort into changing. Small things like letting people choose to be a Female soldier in Call of Duty, rather than forcing everybody to be male. Small things like making NPCs have random genders instead of assigning them all the default of male. It might not make a difference to you, but it will make a difference to someone else, and the game is only made better by it. There is no advantage to knowingly alienating fifty percent of the entire population.

You're slipping into that exaggerated virulence mode again. :) And you're talking about other games. Old games if I'm any judge, can't remember a RPG that defaulted all NPCs to male..

But sexism in this medium IS about vicious misogyny much more often than little details, at least for me. Booth babes and their ingame correspondents are what bothers me, not a slightly sexist world that is modelled after a real live medieval world. Or maybe the odd detail in an otherwise normal game that stands out (selling your wife in King's Bounty the Legend, for instance).

But if you want to talk about small things, here's one (and it's not even that small). Alette, kidnapped by the Bad Man. Classical damzel in distress situation. Except, when the white knight(s) find her, the damzel stabbed the Bad Man with an arrow.

If that doesn't put paid to any notion of sexism in Banner Saga (considering everything else at least), I don't know what will.




The old argument of “It takes too much time/money to animate females!” is, at best, incredibly lazy, and at worst, intentionally dishonest. The devs behind games like Blacklight Retribution (FPS that includes male and female avatars) have come out as saying such.
I would also add that saying “Hey, at least they included females at all, that’s good, right?” is almost barbaric in how sexist it sounds.

Except, no, it's not.

For one thing, they DID take time/money to animate females. On both sides of the fence. They just didn't choose the weapons you would have preffered :D But no, seriously, the fact that there ARE women in the game, fighting, invalidates your whole argument here.

For another, you're forgetting this awesome slice of gaming was made by three (3) guys. 3! Purely cosmetical implementations like "hey let's make male archers and female, uh, axewomen, must have ranked pretty low on the list. You've got men, you've got women, shouldn't that be enough?



All that said, I would really prefer it if the thread was not derailed to focus upon this one single topic. I consider it to be an important topic, worthy of its own discussion, but somewhere else. I suppose it’s your choice if you want to keep talking about it here, but I’m done discussing it in this thread!

It would definitely be for the best.

Poison_Berrie
01-22-2014, 05:38 AM
Points raised about Rook’s leadership are completely valid, he most likely is the better leader, but not because he is a man. That really is not the issue.
The issue is that in the conversation gender is used as the key argument for why Rook should be leader. Oddlief chooses to focus on the fact that a woman leading the caravan would be bad, rather than focusing on the multitude of other reasons that Rook should be the leader.

If you were to paraphrase the conversation between Rook and Oddlief, it would look something like this.
Oddlief: Rook, I think you should be the leader.
Rook: Why?
Oddlief: Because it would be a bad idea for a woman to lead the caravan.
Rook: Oh, yeah, I guess you’re right.

I am not suggesting the writer(s) intended for this dialogue to reinforce negative, sexist, ideas. But in the end, it is.
They could have easily written it without the gender connotations, instead having Oddlief tell Rook that she doesn’t want to lead, that he has the skills necessary for the job, and/or reminding him that the Chieftain wanted him to lead. You could easily alter the conversation such that gender is not involved at all, and the story would only be made better by it.
The sexism doesn’t add anything positive to the writing, but it does add something potentially negative. That’s the problem.

But you seem to be blowing past, what seems to me, the point of the entire conversation.
It isn't about whether Rook would be the better leader or that she doesn't want the job, her qualities or willingness isn't at question here. It's about her realizing that leading the caravan as a woman could have a negative effect on it. Even if the village/caravan itself would accept her leadership, she realizes that the outside world might not and that this isn't the time to crusade for that.
The fact is that Stoic intentionally made this scene to show that the world of The Banner Saga is somewhat sexist. I say somewhat here, because there are plenty of instances where we are shown gender isn't really that much of an issue.

Also as Mhorhe said, this was made be a 3 man team, with a lot of care given to animating and creating the characters. I think the argument of it requiring investment is valid, if not money at the very least time.

Cystennin
01-22-2014, 07:18 AM
So, about the ladies... I believe there are two facets to the issue, which in this particular thread have been mixed together on numerous occasions, causing all sorts of confusion. The first part is about a woman's place on the battlefield both in the game's fictional world and in our very real one. The second part regards a woman's social standing and it's connotations. Those are two separate subjects. I put it to you that nothing in regard to part one is relevant to the gender inequity argument.

Far from being "a common thing", female warriors were indeed a part of Scandinavian and nigh-Scandinavian folklore and perhaps even history, around which The Banner Saga is supposedly designed. While an image of a fearless heroine like Brynhildr is relatively easy to picture, the situation with her historical counterparts is quite obscure. For instance, here's an excerpt from an account of the legendary Battle of Bravellir by Saxo Grammaticus:
Out of the town of Sle, under the captains Hetha and Wisna, with Hakon Cut-cheek came Tummi the Sailmaker. On these captains, who had the bodies of women, nature bestowed the souls of men. ... Wisna, a woman, filled with sternness, and a skilled warrior, was guarded by a band of Sclavs: her chief followers were Barri and Gnizli. ... Hetha, guarded by a retinue of very active men, brought an armed company to the war.
Here women are not only participating in a battle, but also taking the roles of commanders. However, Saxo's narrative is abundant with mythological detail and his work's authenticity may be disputed. She-vikings might be also making an appearance in "Synopsis of Histories" by the Byzantine historian John Skylitzes. I couldn't find an English translation, so here's the gist of it. Once upon a time a Russian prince Sviatoslav led a small army of Varangians to raid Byzantine settlements in Thrace, but was eventually pushed back and besieged in a Bulgarian city of Dorostolon. Being massively outnumbered, the defenders attempted frequent skirmishes. After one of those, during a routine corpse-looting the Greeks discovered among the dead several female bodies in men's clothes. It remains unclear though if those women were a part of Sviatoslav's party, or just locals protecting their homes from yet another ravage. The first is doubtful, since the earliest Russian chronicle called "Tale of Bygone Years", while containing a record of the events in question, makes no mention of women among Varangian troops at all. Apart from these two examples, there's not much to tell about the so-called Shieldmaidens, but they are definitely a thing, and that, I believe, is more than enough for the purposes of a computer game based in a fictional universe.

That said, I would bring to your attention one blatant stereotype, which is equally as popular as it is ridiculous. And that is viewing archery as a "woman's job". The roots of this notion, I suspect, lie in two false presumptions, the first being that shooting a bow requires less physical strength, than fighting with a melee weapon, and the second - that ranged troops enjoy more security on a battlefield. Firstly, any missile needs sufficient energy in order to damage it's target. Where does said energy come from? Why, from a shooter of course. Consider this: it order to draw a string on an English longbow in the Middle Ages one had to impart a force equal to that needed to pick a 50 kg (or 110 lb) object from the ground. Even if we halve this figure, due to TBS bows being seemingly less powerful, it would still be a lot. Especially considering that shooting in a real-life battle scenario was almost always repetitive. The point usually was to cover as much ground with arrows as possible. As for precision bow-shooting, it was only relevant while hunting, which is also a traditionally male activity. Secondly, since ancient times and until the advent of line infantry, ranged troops were comprised of the poorest people, because their equipment was the cheapest. As such, bowmen were considered less valuable on a battlefield and suffered heavy losses due to practical absence of armour. Not only were they vulnerable to enemy fire, but also risked being overrun by the enemy cavalry and in some cases - even trampled by their own allies. In fact, bows mix with women even worse than, say, a sword and a shield would.

To sum up: is a shieldmaiden a good idea for the next TBS installment? - Yes, as long as steel bikinis are not involved. I for one consider this image (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/Peter_Nicolai_Arbo-Hervors_d%C3%B8d.jpg) very compelling.

Originally at this point I planned to switch to the part concerning the social issues, but I now realize that I simply don't want to. This argument already shows every inclination to go to crap, and I want no part of it. In short, The Banner Saga being sexist is bullshit. Peace.

raven2134
01-22-2014, 07:29 AM
Well, this has at least been somewhat entertaining :).

TLDR:
TBS is not sexist. It's too much trouble to break down and read too deeply into a conversation that's honestly just fine.
Shieldmaidens are a good idea for a new unit.

Good civil discussion.

Korica
01-22-2014, 11:03 AM
Well, this has at least been somewhat entertaining :)

I added a couple additional points to the Original Post, if you'd care to have a look at them >_>

Poison_Berrie
01-22-2014, 11:46 AM
I added a couple additional points to the Original Post, if you'd care to have a look at them >_>
On your fourth point about Wars. There is a difference, though it's mostly to do with difficulty.
The options determine the ratio of how many enemies your heroes face vs. how many casualties your caravan takes. Charge being the one with the most enemies and the least casualties, while oversee means you don't fight a battle and the casualties are determined based on army strength. It's no more than a difficulty setting for the Wars portion of the game.
In the end, though, that means Charge is, in terms of Renown, the smart option.

I hope they do more with it in the next chapters and give reasons to use the various formation.

Aleonymous
01-22-2014, 01:43 PM
I think the War system would benefit enormously from some randomly generated variations in events. Perhaps if you decide to Charge the enemy, a Second army might move in from behind to flank you, and you would then have to decide how to respond to it. Not to mention, it would be nice to fight things other than just Dredge. Bandit ambushes, perhaps?

Yeah, Wars could do with some tweaking. An outlined idea:


Each War is different from the other.
Before the War, some hints about the geography of the battlefield (random or story-fixed) and the approximate number of foes is given.
Each War is fought on three stages, i.e. three separate TBS-battles: (1) Vanguard, (2) Main Host, (3) Reserves/Melee
Before the War, you get to divide your Heroes & Soldiers between those three parts of your army.
Soldiers are generic rank-0 units, that swell your ranks and depend on Fighter & Varl populations.
The three TBS-battles are fought consecutively, one after the other, each one affecting the morale of the one after.
Once assigned, the Heroes cannot participate in other battles.
At the beginning of each stage of War (each TBS-battle) you get some options (like charge/formation/retreat) that affect deployment etc.
The overall renown gain, caravan casualties and/or supplies loss/gain is defined by your performance on all three battles/stages.


That's the general context. It basically boils down to three small battles, but offers more flexibility and room for customization/randomness.

Sol
01-22-2014, 03:23 PM
If they do something like that, it would be nice to have the soldiers level up as they participate in battles so as to encourage you to not use them as human shields (which could potentially result in permadeath for them). The player may be able to replenish their pool of fighters down the line if they make a mistake and lose a battle with them, but having units that grow stronger through experience (and that can be lost) forms a level of attachment to them and invests the player in keeping them around. Having a pool of names that they are randomly assigned would also help with this. "Yonn has died." rather than "-1 fighter"

loveboof
01-22-2014, 03:43 PM
But you seem to be blowing past, what seems to me, the point of the entire conversation.
It isn't about whether Rook would be the better leader or that she doesn't want the job, her qualities or willingness isn't at question here. It's about her realizing that leading the caravan as a woman could have a negative effect on it. Even if the village/caravan itself would accept her leadership, she realizes that the outside world might not and that this isn't the time to crusade for that.

It is in this discussion where you can talk about what it means to be a 'strong woman'. Oddleif's decision not to push for the leadership despite it being her right can be seen as very strong! It sets aside any notions of pride and puts what is best for the people first in such a dangerous time. She isn't prepared to even take the chance of creating further division and concerns for her people - it is actually quite noble.

I completely disagree with Korica's paraphrasing of that conversation (perhaps I made different dialogue choices...)

Zekram Bogg
01-22-2014, 03:49 PM
Ah a fan voicing many of my concerns as well! We are now concern bros as far as I'm . . . concerned.


EDITED
FIRST – Character Loss and Renown

I’m not opposed to Character Loss. I think it adds a huge amount to these type of games, to be able to lose party members permanently. What I am opposed to, is the unintended consequences of punishing the player with game mechanics for a Character Loss. To put it more simply, if a player spends Renown to Promote a character, and then that Character dies, the player ought to be reimbursed in some manner.

Renown is not really part of the story, it’s not a tangible thing like gold, but strictly a game mechanic used as currency. If someone were attempting to play the game on Hard and ended up making a lot of mistakes about who to Promote, and ended up losing many of those Characters, it would be quite possible (I think) to reach a point where they would get stuck because their Heroes were too weak and/or too few. I would call that poor game design.

This is particularly true of scenarios where Character Loss is either unclear or uncontrollable. If you actively choose to let a Character die, you know what you are giving up. But there are multiple instances in the game of Characters being killed (or otherwise removed from your roster) without your consent. I think Character Loss without consent is actually very good for the storytelling, but the problem lies in the player not being reimbursed for any Renown they might have invested into the Character.

In my own case, I had this happen a few times. I Promoted Gunnulf, and then he died on the cliff. I Promoted Ludin, and then had him sent away. I Promoted Eirik, and then let him leave. I Promoted Fasolt, and then he died on the bridge. Over time I became rather paranoid and started to Promote only Hakon, Rook, Oddlief, and Tryggvi. Not necessarily because I found them the most useful, but because I had confidence that they were the least likely to be killed off. In total I would say I probably lost about 80 Renown, and that is the part that bothered me. Not the Character Loss, but the Renown Loss.
(And in case you were wondering why I sent Ludin away and let Eirik leave, it is because I was thinking about the story. I was making these decisions based on what I thought Hakon would do, rather than thinking about how many Heroes I as a player wanted in my Roster.)


This is something I brought up in my thread as well. I think getting a refund on a dead character would work mechanically, but it would pretty much break the narrative intent of making the loss hit home.

I suggest instead, an alteration to the injury mechanic, making it more of a strike system, so that characters can have the possibility of surviving "death events" if they haven't gained a lot of "strikes" yet.

But this is certainly something I agree is a major issue. For I too, spent lots of renown leveling characters up only to see them immediately die before I could use them in battle - it happend four times in my progression - FOUR. I easily lost a hundred renown this way. It's VERY frustrating.




SECOND – Lack of Female Fighters

Sexism is a touchy subject for some people. Banner Saga seems to do what most fantasy stories do, and use our own view of history as a basis for its society, following more-or-less in the footsteps of traditional gender roles. But let us not forget that The Banner Saga draws huge inspiration from old Norse culture and stories. And those stories have ample amount of Viking women fighting alongside the men, with spears, swords and axes. Shieldmaidens were quite a common thing. There are female Heroes in the game, but they are all exclusively Archers.

I highly doubt that anybody at Stoic stood up on a table and shouted “There will be no Shieldmaidens in this game! If women must fight, they will stand in the back and shoot arrows!” When I learned about this game and bought it, the thought never even crossed my mind that there might not be Shieldmaidens in it. I visited the Fan Art section of the Forums and the first three submissions I saw were all women with spears and swords, so clearly I am not the only one who wants to see this.

If we look at the entire roster of Heroes, there are only 4 Women. By comparison, there are 10 Men. This is not counting the Varl, of which there are 9. Even if you wanted to, you could not field a team comprised entirely of Women, because there simply aren’t enough. Not to mention the fact that since they are all Archers, they would be unable to form a very dynamic team.

I would not say this game is overtly sexist, but I think it does carry with it some unintentional sexism which does it a grave disservice. A prime example would be when Oddlief, the Chieftain’s Wife (who is a skilled archer) tells Rook that she believes he should lead because she is a woman – people wouldn’t respect a woman leader, it would put the caravan in danger, etc. There are plenty of more legitimate reasons that Rook should be in charge, some of which are mentioned, but gender seems to be the one which is brought to the forefront and used as the crux of the argument.

By now it may be too late to change these things for this game, but the story is far from over. You can better in the future, Stoic. I know you can.


I personally think this is less of an issue. You're kind of imposing your modern world view on a setting that's very much in a medieval age. That kind of thinking is the definition of problematic.

Besides, Juno, easily the MOST powerful hero character in the game is a woman. I really don't see how you can view the game as even sexist when that's the case. Plus, I can guarantee there will likely be some shield maidens in the next installment, it'd just make sense given the unfolding situation of the plot. You're kind of jumping the gun I think.



THIRD - Bellower

Yes, an entire section devoted to one battle. Because it caused me (and others) that much grief.

I think I can summarize why the Bellower fight is bad in a fairly concise manner. The most basic problem is that it breaks the established rules of the game.

First, it forces you to bring along Heroes that you might not want to. This is especially a problem if you never use those Heroes and they are still Rank 1. Additionally, when it comes time to fight Bellower, you are not given adequate ability to prepare. For me personally, all my best Heroes were injured from previous fights but I had no option to Rest. I was forced to use either Injured or Low-Ranking Heroes for the Final Battle of the Game.

Second, it is an incredibly inconvenient fight which forces you to use one particular strategy to defeat an enemy, rather than letting you come up with your own solution.

Third, Bellower is simply an annoying opponent to face. Boss fights should be fun, not frustrating. Bellower breaks the rules of turn-based combat by getting a free turn whenever attacked, not to mention his ability to regenerate Armor and Strength, or his ability to Damage and Reposition your entire party at once, while also denying one of them a turn. Gods help you he decides to repeatedly Stun somebody who is important to your strategy, like an Armor-breaker.

I played through the entire game losing in Battle only once. I lost to Bellower about 15 times, even after I turned the Difficulty down to Easy. I’ve seen quite a few other people making posts about them having difficulty with the Bellower fight.


Yeah, Bellower is totally OP. I'd tend to think that's fine since he's a boss, but you are correct in that the game's peculiar initiative mechanics really make this fight ludicrous. I had to retry it a bunch too, I think everyone does.

I was trying to address the weird pacing of the battle for SP, and I came up with this, what about a Battle Rhythm Meter so that whenever a team goes through a full "revolution" of its members (thus the usually larger Dredge hordes would have fewer activations at start of battle) it adds a point to the meter (with each defeated team member increasing the number of points needed to fill the meter by one to encourage quick kills), and when the meter fills the player and/or the enemy side gets one full revolution of "Pillage" mode before returning to a standard turn order? This would let the player who gets a couple kills in on Bellower's Dredge team earlier in the fight get a pillage round before eliminating ALL of the dredge, and that can be used to set up the arrow shot.

It's an idea anyway.



FOURTH – Wars

I was extremely excited for the Wars. Battles are fine, of course, but the fact that extra fighting was added in, fighting that made the caravan seem relevant, was an awesome bonus. But I found myself disappointed with the Wars when I finally experienced them, for two main reasons.

First, the Choices you are given seem to be rather pointless. I tried them all once or twice and really did not notice any significant differences. I’m sure somebody smarter than me has either looked into the code or run enough experiments to determine what exactly is the difference between Charge and Formations, but I couldn’t see it.

If you give a player a multitude of ways to response to something, and the player cannot see any difference between the outcomes of those choices, I think that means you have failed to deliver the dynamic and interesting experience that it was meant to deliver.

Second, the Wars lacked any variation. Every battle goes the same. You are approached by X number of Dredge, you Attack or Flee (as if there is any real reason to not attack), and then you move on. The repetitive nature of the Wars is demonstrated in excess by the chapter in which Hakon leads his Varl caravan through War after War after War.

I think the War system would benefit enormously from some randomly generated variations in events. Perhaps if you decide to Charge the enemy, a Second army might move in from behind to flank you, and you would then have to decide how to respond to it. Not to mention, it would be nice to fight things other than just Dredge. Bandit ambushes, perhaps?

This feels like an optimal space where the player could organize almost Total War style battles with multi-soldier units of fighters (divided between Raiders & Archers) and Varl (divided between Warriors and Shield Bangers) on a field before the battle starts from an aerial view, maybe even on various terrain maps that affect possible strategy, then select targets for each unit (divided into 4 main types themselves - Grunts, Slingers, Scourge and Stoneguards respectively), and movement paths to attack then hit go and watch the battle play out from the aerial view, with the tactical battle occuring either before this (if charging) or after (if selecting formations) and adding its respective modifiers.

Now, such a system would pretty much be like adding a whole new game, so probably a bit too much for what's pretty much a different means of creating a tactical battle, but one can dream, right?



FIFTH – Kills for Promotion

Not a huge issue, but definitely something worth noting. I've seen some other people talking about it already.

A total lack of any sort of Assist system means that the only way to rank up is to directly get Kills. This means it is possible to bring a Hero into every single battle you encounter, and if by some stroke of bad luck they never land the final blows, they can never be promoted. It inadvertently forces the player to focus less on the overall strategy they might want to use, but rather on setting up the fight so that certain Heroes deal the final blow, which is simply silly.

Yeah I've found this frustrating in Factions, especially for my backbiter, who I can effectively work into an overall battle strategy to win, but not to effectively get kills with.

Korica
01-22-2014, 08:17 PM
This feels like an optimal space where the player could organize almost Total War style battles with multi-soldier units of fighters (divided between Raiders & Archers) and Varl (divided between Warriors and Shield Bangers) on a field before the battle starts from an aerial view, maybe even on various terrain maps that affect possible strategy, then select targets for each unit (divided into 4 main types themselves - Grunts, Slingers, Scourge and Stoneguards respectively), and movement paths to attack then hit go and watch the battle play out from the aerial view, with the tactical battle occuring either before this (if charging) or after (if selecting formations) and adding its respective modifiers.

Now, such a system would pretty much be like adding a whole new game, so probably a bit too much for what's pretty much a different means of creating a tactical battle, but one can dream, right?

That would be beyond awesome. If they ran a Kickstarter just so they could implement that into the game, I'd dump money into it.

Grufolo
12-11-2015, 10:36 AM
FIRST – Character Loss and Renown

I generally agree as savegames are not so easy to place in TBS, that either a better rollback system should be in place, or that multiple items are used to promote characters. the current system in TBS is limited by having only one wearable item, while if we leveled up through gaining items (loot, that is) from winning battles or making choices, we could recover them from the dead or from those leaving the party. Also, the opponents may try to loot characters they take down...

SECOND – Lack of Female Fighters

I don't care much if the thing is about sexism, but i personally like female melee fighters and i won't mind if there will be more in the next instalments

THIRD - Bellower

I replayed the game multiple times and indeed the level of Alette and Rook, or the presence of enough 5th level characters can make a whole lot of difference at the harder levels. It can easily range from very easy to frustratingly hard depending on your choice of characters

FOURTH – Wars

Spot-on. Wars are a big missed chance to make a much better game. If the war scenario was more changing (is my group charging in the middle of the fight or on the sides? are we going to be able to help other fighters in their struggle when we're done?

FIFTH – Kills for Promotion

Another great comment. At the second try I used these mechanics and only let my higher-ranking characters break armor so that my lower-levs would get then kills rank up faster. It works like a charm but in the end it ruins the game fun.

Yellow
02-04-2017, 08:32 PM
Yeah, Wars could do with some tweaking. An outlined idea:


Each War is different from the other.
Before the War, some hints about the geography of the battlefield (random or story-fixed) and the approximate number of foes is given.
Each War is fought on three stages, i.e. three separate TBS-battles: (1) Vanguard, (2) Main Host, (3) Reserves/Melee
Before the War, you get to divide your Heroes & Soldiers between those three parts of your army.
Soldiers are generic rank-0 units, that swell your ranks and depend on Fighter & Varl populations.
The three TBS-battles are fought consecutively, one after the other, each one affecting the morale of the one after.
Once assigned, the Heroes cannot participate in other battles.
At the beginning of each stage of War (each TBS-battle) you get some options (like charge/formation/retreat) that affect deployment etc.
The overall renown gain, caravan casualties and/or supplies loss/gain is defined by your performance on all three battles/stages.


That's the general context. It basically boils down to three small battles, but offers more flexibility and room for customization/randomness.

That would actually make way more sense and be more enjojable than what we currently have. TBS2 actually did took some steps in this direction at least regarding the individual battlefields, wish it had taken more.

Aleonymous
02-06-2017, 10:23 AM
Thanks for "necro-ing" this post/thread, Yellow! :) Yes, Stoic actually did something like that in the Lundar War battles in Saga2 (end of Chapter 10, if I recall correctly). They also redesigned their War mechanic, but there's definitely still many steps to take! Problem is that Wars are not "generic" (and they shouldn't be), so there's probably not a one-fits-all solution to follow... :rolleyes: