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darkwolf
01-23-2014, 11:51 PM
I found my opinions of the game on the fence during most of my play though. I liked the atmosphere, story, and caravan parts. The interaction between Armor, Health, and Damage is a really interesting concept; though the way the turn based system works (with enemies being pushed up in priority when a previous one dies, and smaller groups allowing characters to act more often) occasionally feels gamey. That is to say it feels more like you are trying to exploit underlining game systems or AI, rather then getting immersed in the narrative or playing tactically.

For the most part though I was able to get over and and found most of the battles to be enjoyable. The only real criticism for the main body of the game is probably the pacing. If you took advantage of the second wave feature during some of the wars, you could wind up with a lot of back to back battles with nothing in between. Resulting in too much combat against a lot of the same enemies and nothing to break it up (like caravan choices, dialog, or even different types of enemies).

But I found the 'Final Boss battles' to be both frustrating and also a culmination of the worst and most gamey-est elements from the battle system. To name a few of my frustrations...


The Arrow Bug: After reloading from checkpoint after losing the first fight, I found myself unable to use the arrow ability even when I had 12 str and Bellower had 3 armor.
Forced party members: I was forced to take my under leveled archer, even though I had chosen not to give her the arrow to keep her out of danger. This left me with effectively two useless characters in phase 2 of the fight. There was no real narrative reason or motive for her to be there.
Forced part member part 2: If I had known I was going to be forced to take both of them anyway, I would have given the arrow to the other character. The hunters ability would have been much more useful against Bellower.
Juno being annoying: She is constantly yelling at me to keep chipping away at Bellower, well before I'm even capable of reaching him. Can't move that distance in this amount of turns, can't get around the other enemies yet. It's also a constant reminder of the immersion breaking fiddly-ness I have to use to win this encounter.
Gamey mechanics: Because a 20 str Bellower tends to 1 shot most of your heroes, and he gets priority any time you directly target him (or indirectly hit him for str damage); it forces you to line up awkward positioning and indirect attacks. If the other enemies will co-operate, as several of them have positioning changing abilities or just get in the way (or dont get in the way) of you and each other. This doesn't feel like I'm tactically controlling a battlefield, it feels like I'm trying to figure out how to exploit game systems and computer AI.
Gamey mechanics II: Awkward turn order and positioning means there are times where you find you can't do anything with one of your characters, wasting their turn. Their path is blocked by either your own characters or enemies. While this is an issue the entire game, most of the other fights its not a big deal if you kill off some enemies sooner then others.
Gamey mechanics III: Because of turn order or healing mechanics, you can wind up with your arrow character having their turn right after Bellower; depending on how many other enemies you have killed or have been summoned to the field. Meaning he heals back up enough armor that you can no longer arrow him again. (assuming your arrow works.) ((This is even more exacerbated if some of the stone slingers managed to reduce the str of your arrow character.))
Poor Balancing: I eventually moved the difficulty down to easy. But this made the fight trivial. All of the enemies were weaker (several 6/7's), while Bellower was at 15/15 meaning he could no longer one shot my heroes. Phase 2 consisted of just Bellower 15/15 and two 6/6 throwers. There was a huge gap in potential difficulty range between easy and normal.
Poor Balancing Part 2: Funnily enough, I re-loaded and tried it on hard and found that mode to be easier then the normal troops layout as well. In this case Bellower was still 20/20 like in normal. And the new enemy unit makeup was easier to deal with then normal. So while Easy is a Huge step down in difficulty, Hard is actually only a small step up and may in fact be even easier then normal for this fight.


By the time I restarted several times from losses, fixing bugs, and eventually messing with the difficulty; I was so broken out of the games immersion that I did not even care about the ending. The regeneration and force priority mechanics of the Final boss emphasis the worst parts of what is otherwise a potentially interesting combat system. The forced party, forced narrative, and bugs just add to the frustration. And there is no balance in difficulty between steam rolling the encounter on Easy to Massive fiddly-ness on normal, and slightly easier fiddly-ness on Hard.

At the very least, it might have been possible to rebalanced the formation and enemy composition on those two fights to make the difficulty scale more smoothly.

ErKeL
01-24-2014, 09:55 AM
Yeah have to agree with everything in the OP after finishing my first campaign. I didn't know what the hell I was doing at the start but I still ended up steam rolling through it easily enough until the final boss just pulled this bullshit and stomped my team.

desertrabbit
01-25-2014, 06:29 AM
Hi Darkwolf, I didn't face the problems you have. I just finished my first play through without reading any guide and will probably be playing through again because I've lost some characters along the way. What I did was, have Alette took the arrow to shoot Bellower and with that, my party consist of Rook, Alette, Iver, Hakon, another warrior and Oddleif. At some point during the game I receive the +3 shield breaker and gave it to Rook. My Rook level is at 4 and he himself had +3 shield break and +3 to his will usage.

So all I had to do on first round was, Walk Iver up to the enemies (he had 16 shield and an item at the last market which gives +2 deflect str) and sit there for 1 round while the rest of the team walks up close. On second round, Bellower came down to wack my Iver (which only does 2 str damage cos normal mode Bellower has 20/20) Rook then goes up, breaks Bellower shield (he can break away 9 with Will power) and another warrior chip away his shield which will bring them down to less than 10. This will allow Allette to fire the Silver Arrow. So the first part of my battle ended in 2 rounds. Hope this helps.

Rensei
01-25-2014, 06:56 AM
I love the system (it's official now) and don't really understand what do the whole lot of You mean by "gamey" - too visible mechanics? immersion breaking? feels like a game (duh)? So I won't comment on those.

However I would like to point out that it is (important as it is) just one battle. They needed to make it different so it could feel a bit different from the 50 or so battles You fought beforehand. They needlessly added mechanics that made it waaay to easy (You might have misunderstood them seeing as You cry over the biggest one being a problem in point 5), but if You are looking for some additional challenge You can play "touch Bello only after all bodyguards are down" for some extra fun.

LaMort13
01-25-2014, 07:23 AM
I found my opinions of the game on the fence during most of my play though. I liked the atmosphere, story, and caravan parts. The interaction between Armor, Health, and Damage is a really interesting concept; though the way the turn based system works (with enemies being pushed up in priority when a previous one dies, and smaller groups allowing characters to act more often) occasionally feels gamey. That is to say it feels more like you are trying to exploit underlining game systems or AI, rather then getting immersed in the narrative or playing tactically.

For the most part though I was able to get over and and found most of the battles to be enjoyable. The only real criticism for the main body of the game is probably the pacing. If you took advantage of the second wave feature during some of the wars, you could wind up with a lot of back to back battles with nothing in between. Resulting in too much combat against a lot of the same enemies and nothing to break it up (like caravan choices, dialog, or even different types of enemies).

But I found the 'Final Boss battles' to be both frustrating and also a culmination of the worst and most gamey-est elements from the battle system. To name a few of my frustrations...


The Arrow Bug: After reloading from checkpoint after losing the first fight, I found myself unable to use the arrow ability even when I had 12 str and Bellower had 3 armor.
Forced party members: I was forced to take my under leveled archer, even though I had chosen not to give her the arrow to keep her out of danger. This left me with effectively two useless characters in phase 2 of the fight. There was no real narrative reason or motive for her to be there.
Forced part member part 2: If I had known I was going to be forced to take both of them anyway, I would have given the arrow to the other character. The hunters ability would have been much more useful against Bellower.
Juno being annoying: She is constantly yelling at me to keep chipping away at Bellower, well before I'm even capable of reaching him. Can't move that distance in this amount of turns, can't get around the other enemies yet. It's also a constant reminder of the immersion breaking fiddly-ness I have to use to win this encounter.
Gamey mechanics: Because a 20 str Bellower tends to 1 shot most of your heroes, and he gets priority any time you directly target him (or indirectly hit him for str damage); it forces you to line up awkward positioning and indirect attacks. If the other enemies will co-operate, as several of them have positioning changing abilities or just get in the way (or dont get in the way) of you and each other. This doesn't feel like I'm tactically controlling a battlefield, it feels like I'm trying to figure out how to exploit game systems and computer AI.
Gamey mechanics II: Awkward turn order and positioning means there are times where you find you can't do anything with one of your characters, wasting their turn. Their path is blocked by either your own characters or enemies. While this is an issue the entire game, most of the other fights its not a big deal if you kill off some enemies sooner then others.
Gamey mechanics III: Because of turn order or healing mechanics, you can wind up with your arrow character having their turn right after Bellower; depending on how many other enemies you have killed or have been summoned to the field. Meaning he heals back up enough armor that you can no longer arrow him again. (assuming your arrow works.) ((This is even more exacerbated if some of the stone slingers managed to reduce the str of your arrow character.))
Poor Balancing: I eventually moved the difficulty down to easy. But this made the fight trivial. All of the enemies were weaker (several 6/7's), while Bellower was at 15/15 meaning he could no longer one shot my heroes. Phase 2 consisted of just Bellower 15/15 and two 6/6 throwers. There was a huge gap in potential difficulty range between easy and normal.
Poor Balancing Part 2: Funnily enough, I re-loaded and tried it on hard and found that mode to be easier then the normal troops layout as well. In this case Bellower was still 20/20 like in normal. And the new enemy unit makeup was easier to deal with then normal. So while Easy is a Huge step down in difficulty, Hard is actually only a small step up and may in fact be even easier then normal for this fight.


By the time I restarted several times from losses, fixing bugs, and eventually messing with the difficulty; I was so broken out of the games immersion that I did not even care about the ending. The regeneration and force priority mechanics of the Final boss emphasis the worst parts of what is otherwise a potentially interesting combat system. The forced party, forced narrative, and bugs just add to the frustration. And there is no balance in difficulty between steam rolling the encounter on Easy to Massive fiddly-ness on normal, and slightly easier fiddly-ness on Hard.

At the very least, it might have been possible to rebalanced the formation and enemy composition on those two fights to make the difficulty scale more smoothly.

This. The last fight badly needed playtesting, and clearly didn't get it. I'll add that it's very possible to have wounded characters going in, and since the game forces them on you, things can go downhill rather quickly by the time you get to the second fight. Another problem I'll add to the list is that there's nothing stopping Bellower from doing his scream attack several turns in a row. In fact, my third attempt at the battle he did this four turns consecutively. Four. Turns. Not only did this constantly knock my archers out of range, it also dropped my varls to the point where the high strength dredge was able to cripple them in one blow. I *still* managed to make it to the second phase of the fight, but by then I had three wounded characters, and was down to five fighters. The whole fight needs a serious reworking.

Aleonymous
01-25-2014, 07:57 AM
However I would like to point out that it is (important as it is) just one battle. They needed to make it different so it could feel a bit different from the 50 or so battles You fought beforehand.

This.

Personally, I'd actually like to have more boss fights, akin to that one, where the enemy's abilities (or combat mechanics) change dramatically and thus put you off guard and require for different tactics. For example, battles that you just gotta kill one particular enemy, or move one unit (or all) to a specific location on the map, battles where you gotta bring every enemy below 3-4 STR (thus "capturing" them alive) etc.

Another note: The Scourge's "Summon Dredge" is also nice, but I'd like it to summon a random Dredge, and not always mediocre rank-0 Grunts.

LaMort13
01-25-2014, 09:22 AM
I love the system (it's official now) and don't really understand what do the whole lot of You mean by "gamey" - too visible mechanics? immersion breaking? feels like a game (duh)? So I won't comment on those.

However I would like to point out that it is (important as it is) just one battle. They needed to make it different so it could feel a bit different from the 50 or so battles You fought beforehand. They needlessly added mechanics that made it waaay to easy (You might have misunderstood them seeing as You cry over the biggest one being a problem in point 5), but if You are looking for some additional challenge You can play "touch Bello only after all bodyguards are down" for some extra fun.

First of all, there's no need to be rude and condescending. This isn't a competition. The OP found there to be problems with the last battle, and they made a list. If you disagree, fine, but at least state your reasons. However, since you don't understand what the OP is saying, maybe you should ask for clarification before posting again.

I believe what the OP meant was that the reasons why the last battle is difficult have little to due with strategy or the difficulty setting itself. The problem stems from assumptions about the player's party at that point in the game. The game assumes a fairly narrow range of parameters for the final fight, and then forces them upon you with no warning.

What happens if Alette is already wounded?
What happens if the rest party is already wounded?
What happens if both Rook and Alette are still level 1?
What if your party has been built with high strength, high willpower, but low break?
What if you've been rotating characters, and no one is above level 2?
What if you have no items, or only low level items?
What if you've been desperately trying to keep your caravan large and moral normal and hence have spent all of your renown on supplies? (There is an achievement for this)

The list is (practically) endless, and it's a real shame that in a game that supposedly encourages player choice, the last battle forces you to use the strategy the game wants you to.

Rensei
01-25-2014, 09:24 AM
This. The last fight badly needed playtesting, and clearly didn't get it. I'll add that it's very possible to have wounded characters going in, and since the game forces them on you, things can go downhill rather quickly by the time you get to the second fight. Another problem I'll add to the list is that there's nothing stopping Bellower from doing his scream attack several turns in a row. In fact, my third attempt at the battle he did this four turns consecutively. Four. Turns. Not only did this constantly knock my archers out of range, it also dropped my varls to the point where the high strength dredge was able to cripple them in one blow. I *still* managed to make it to the second phase of the fight, but by then I had three wounded characters, and was down to five fighters. The whole fight needs a serious reworking.
There is a limiting factor to his "scream" - aggro and willpower. If You present him with juicy target he is more likely to grab the bait and use up willpower to get to it and kill it.

The stats on Your units don't really matter - You just need good breakers and 1-2 relatively well preserved dps. The stats, number and quality on the supporting dredge don't matter a tiny bit (unless You put archers in front and in range of dredge colossus with over 20 str, yeah - then it sorta matters).

You are never "down to x fighters", You gain tactical advantage by strategically sacrificing wounded units to squeeze the best performance out of the remaining ones.

I'm probably in bitch mode right now, but darkwolf's post made some points, Your's sound like You are having trouble with the game and therefore demand it to be easier for everyone, whether they like some challenge or not.


What happens if Alette is already wounded?
She makes an excellent Bello bait.

What happens if the rest party is already wounded?
You had few days in the final city to rest, bunch of fresh units from the varl caravan and the only ones who should be injured are the ones who fell while clearing the gate for them and Juno. One could argue that said battle was relatively easy and should not result in a full party wipe.

What happens if both Rook and Alette are still level 1?
One dies while shooting the arrow, other makes an excellent Bello bait. The game DOES try to hint You that Rook, Iver, Alette and Hakon are sortof important. For example it makes them it's main characters.

What if your party has been built with high strength, high willpower, but low break?
Then You make use of Your high str and take a few high risk - high reward shots that result in either a quick reduction of Bello's combat potency or a quick wipe :)

What if you've been rotating characters, and no one is above level 2?
You take 2 forced ones, 2 high str, 2 high break and start thinking really hard. Or reduce difficulty.

What if you have no items, or only low level items?
While items DO help a ton, they are not required. Also many level 4 and 5 items are far inferior to certain level 2 ones (they are more specialized and grant bigger boost).

What if you've been desperately trying to keep your caravan large and moral normal and hence have spent all of your renown on supplies? (There is an achievement for this)
Got the both achievements along with the one for fighting set amount of battles. I took all the fights I could - was still swimming in renown. As someone who starved thousands of varls for mere experiment, I can guarantee there is enough renown there to keep everyone alive and happy, while maintaining a fully operational party. Sadly You come few days short if You try to grab those AND the one for getting to the final city in less than 120 days.

Any other questions?

Aleonymous
01-25-2014, 12:47 PM
The problem stems from assumptions about the player's party at that point in the game. The game assumes a fairly narrow range of parameters for the final fight, and then forces them upon you with no warning.....The list is (practically) endless, and it's a real shame that in a game that supposedly encourages player choice, the last battle forces you to use the strategy the game wants you to.


You are having trouble with the game and therefore demand it to be easier for everyone, whether they like some challenge or not.

The combat system is so complex that taking into account all possible configurations and catering to all different play-styles and difficulty settings is impossible. So, I think that Stoic just went with tuning the battle difficulty around the most "obvious" (in their mind) protagonists: Rook, Alette, Iver & Hakon. Inevitably, people who invested on other characters are gonna have a hard time with red angry Bello. There's strategies to cope with some of the difficulties you outline, like Rensei suggests, but it takes practice and sometimes luck to get it right. I mean, why should the final battle be easily winnable by every player and with every play-through option-set? I, for one, am the more old-school difficult-game type; and, still finding the game kinda "weak" on hard :p

I think that what the game needs is more & more diverse battle scenarios along the way, so that you get to play and learn and level-up all your characters/heroes/units. I am imagining mini-battles for some of your units, e.g. "Ludin, Yrsa and Bersi are in the middle of a heated discussion when five Dredge emerge out of nowhere and attack them"...

LaMort13
01-25-2014, 08:41 PM
She makes an excellent Bello bait.

And dies in one hit. Not to mention that for every "scream" she loses strength, which requires more turns to lower Bellower's armor.



You had few days in the final city to rest, bunch of fresh units from the varl caravan and the only ones who should be injured are the ones who fell while clearing the gate for them and Juno. One could argue that said battle was relatively easy and should not result in a full party wipe.

Well, this one's patently false. You cannot rest during the last sequence of three battles, and for the others, the game makes it clear that you can either rest, or help Iver/the Ravens/the caravan, but not both. In my case, Iver was wounded during the penultimate fight, and hence, I couldn't rest.



One dies while shooting the arrow, other makes an excellent Bello bait. The game DOES try to hint You that Rook, Iver, Alette and Hakon are sortof important. For example it makes them it's main characters.
Just because the game has Rook as the leader of one caravan doesn't mean that I spent (or wanted to spend) the time and renown to level him up. I certainly didn't invest much effort into Ludin...



Then You make use of Your high str and take a few high risk - high reward shots that result in either a quick reduction of Bello's combat potency or a quick wipe :)
He's got 20 armor. None of the units I ever had join had strength that high, but even if they had, my archers certainly didn't. And again, everyone else had 1 break. The only person that didn't was Nid, who, by sheer luck, I hadn't used yet, and so still had the 9 free character points the game gives you. Fortunately, I was able to retrofit her to have 3 Break, and even then, she was level 1, with no items.



You take 2 forced ones, 2 high str, 2 high break and start thinking really hard. Or reduce difficulty.
For someone who thinks the last battle is fine as it is, I find it ironic that one of your first suggestions is reduce the difficulty.



While items DO help a ton, they are not required. Also many level 4 and 5 items are far inferior to certain level 2 ones (they are more specialized and grant bigger boost).

Got the both achievements along with the one for fighting set amount of battles. I took all the fights I could - was still swimming in renown. As someone who starved thousands of varls for mere experiment, I can guarantee there is enough renown there to keep everyone alive and happy, while maintaining a fully operational party. Sadly You come few days short if You try to grab those AND the one for getting to the final city in less than 120 days.
Sure, but I am talking about having a party of nothing but level 1 and 2 characters. It's one thing to spend the renown on your main party and then buy supplies, but I'm talking about the opposite order of priorities.


Any other questions?
Yeah, why do you assume that I haven't beaten the game on hard? For that matter, why do you assume that I don't like a challenge? I don't say either of those things in my posts, and you have absolutely no information about how I played the game, whether I beat it, or what I enjoyed about it. Just because we disagree about the final battle doesn't mean that you're right and I'm wrong. (Or that you're the best player, and I'm the worst.)

Korica
01-25-2014, 09:56 PM
I understand that some of you are min-maxing master strategists who find Bellower rather laughable, but that does absolutely nothing for the rest of us. A bit like somebody who spends all their time at the gym looking at other people having trouble working out and saying "I don't see what the problem is, I find that incredibly easy."

Enkeli
01-26-2014, 03:49 AM
Maybe one thing that could be changed is that Juno could magically heal all your characters before the Bello fight?

However, the fight seems fine otherwise. The thing is that if it was made easier, then that would make for a really disappointing finale. Right now it at least feels like the choices you make in developing your characters matter. If the final fight was equally easy regardless of the way you spent your points, that would mean that the strategy for spending those points did not matter. The game does hint strongly that you should invest in armor break. "From here on out, you will fail catastrophically" unless you first break armor is a good hint :). But maybe this is a matter of taste - some of us just feel that the possibility of failure makes the game more interesting.

Rensei
01-26-2014, 08:03 AM
Yeah, why do you assume that I haven't beaten the game on hard? For that matter, why do you assume that I don't like a challenge? I don't say either of those things in my posts, and you have absolutely no information about how I played the game, whether I beat it, or what I enjoyed about it. Just because we disagree about the final battle doesn't mean that you're right and I'm wrong. (Or that you're the best player, and I'm the worst.)
Yeah it's my bad. I, once again, assumed everybody playing TBS had at least some experience in Factions and is well aware of concepts like armor break, party formations, party setup, str/arm relations etc.
I'm not assuming others are worse players (though I might sound so - for that I apologize), I'm just surprised people are making such rookie mistakes.
In my defense Your questions sounded (in light of experience) like You were doing everything to fail at this fight - pick the worst possible combination of injured, underleveled, badly developed characters and I assure You a boss in EVERY game will seem impossible to beat.


Well, this one's patently false. You cannot rest during the last sequence of three battles, and for the others, the game makes it clear that you can either rest, or help Iver/the Ravens/the caravan, but not both. In my case, Iver was wounded during the penultimate fight, and hence, I couldn't rest.
Just for the record You can choose Your actions during those last days. Doing anything other than fighting results in reduced injuries.


He's got 20 armor. None of the units I ever had join had strength that high, but even if they had, my archers certainly didn't. And again, everyone else had 1 break. The only person that didn't was Nid, who, by sheer luck, I hadn't used yet, and so still had the 9 free character points the game gives you. Fortunately, I was able to retrofit her to have 3 Break, and even then, she was level 1, with no items.
I assumed You are a smart girl/guy and had a certain idea in Your head when planning Your party like that. I'm not saying it's wrong, I do agree it will be a pain to defeat Bello with such party, however You can take advantage of high str and high willpower by doing % to hit attacks, boosted with willpower. 10 str archer has 50% to deal 4 dmg - it's not much, but with a party like that it might be worth trying - instead of slowly chipping his armor while Your troops are falling left and right, You can quickly negate his killing potential and go from there.

dufake
01-26-2014, 09:21 AM
These problems had been addressed many times before.
Challenges are good if they play fair.
No one is happy if a thief stole all the supplies without a choice.

Bellower breaks the rule here.(Armor/Strength Regeneration, Full Area Harm + Stun effect, Instant React)
There're three unique skills in one bag, and it feels "out of the place".

In the other hand, Stonesinger is a great mini boss here.
It creates new formulas to the gameboard.
Future bosses could be stronger or smarter than other units like that.

[edit]
Some people can not enjoy such a fight if their builds can not win.
Basically there are three ways to build your party.

Armor break party, Strength maim party or Full melee party(Hakon)
Bellower fight make the other parties fail in the end.

loveboof
01-26-2014, 10:08 AM
Tbh it does sound a bit like the people who have had a lot of trouble with the Bellower fight are making some pretty avoidable mistakes. Anyone who has played Factions will know that you are totally screwed if you have no armour breakers at all in your team! The use of a Warleader (Krumr) can utilise guerrilla tactics with archers/breakers, Eyvind can hit Bellower for 4 damage in your first move if you want - putting him at a more reasonable 16 STR. Maiming (rather than killing) the normal dredge will make them a hindrance for the enemy team, and has anyone tested the Skystriker trap with Bellowers turn skipping? (i.e. does it stop him?)

I agree that the silver arrow UI bug is annoying, but I actually like the added challenge of locked-in characters for the final battle - it is a story based game; they need to be there! (it isn't unnecessarily 'gamey'). If you think about it, Rook and Iver are team locked for quite a while before that final battle, so there is no excuse for not leveling them at all imo!

Jawbone78
01-26-2014, 11:15 AM
Tbh it does sound a bit like the people who have had a lot of trouble with the Bellower fight are making some pretty avoidable mistakes. Anyone who has played Factions will know that you are totally screwed if you have no armour breakers at all in your team! The use of a Warleader (Krumr) can utilise guerrilla tactics with archers/breakers, Eyvind can hit Bellower for 4 damage in your first move if you want - putting him at a more reasonable 16 STR. Maiming (rather than killing) the normal dredge will make them a hindrance for the enemy team, and has anyone tested the Skystriker trap with Bellowers turn skipping? (i.e. does it stop him?)

I agree that the silver arrow UI bug is annoying, but I actually like the added challenge of locked-in characters for the final battle - it is a story based game; they need to be there! (it isn't unnecessarily 'gamey'). If you think about it, Rook and Iver are team locked for quite a while before that final battle, so there is no excuse for not leveling them at all imo!

Some mistakes are avoidable - for instance, focusing on armor break. There is a conversation in the first half of the game, with Krumr, where he flat out tells you to focus on breaking Dredge armor. I think it's fair to expect at least a few armor breakers in the final encounter. Other mistakes are not - for example, showing up to the end battle with no particularly useful items whatsoever. In almost every defense of the final battle I've read, the apologist talks about some +3 armor break item as though everyone should have it. I didn't have it. No idea where or how you get it. Yeah, would have helped, I'm sure. Also, almost every apologist lists a squad of characters that were unavailable to me. You mention Krumr, for example - I didn't have him. That's not an "avoidable mistake". It's a natural byproduct of the sheer number of things that can happen during the story, leading to wildly different endgame loadouts for different players.

Incidentally, I played Factions. I know how the game mechanics work.

But (silly me) I thought that the single player game would be about more than min/maxing your squad for maximum combat effectiveness. I thought it would be about the things you do in between battles - which it most certainly is not. Virtually every decision I made in the game resulted in negative consequences, and ultimately weakened my party more than strengthened it. I lost characters I had invested in and given items to. I lost supplies at every turn (whether I tried being nice or ruthless, didn't matter) which in turn resulted in low morale and loss of willpower. I wound up in the end with so little renown and so few kills and so many injured guys that I couldn't promote my party for the last battle into anything workable (I spent about seven hours doing it over and over and over and over and over). There's nothing you can do at the last minute to turn characters with no kills into top-notch armor breakers (hello, Alette). Nobody in my party except Hakon was even able to stand up to more than one hit from the high-strength Dredge after Bellower's turn-one scream, and few could take more than one hit from most of the others as well. None of those things can be considered "easily avoidable" (without save scumming, which the game goes out of its way to try to prevent). Basically, the way to avoid those pitfalls is to either reload an earlier save (again, the game is designed to discourage doing this), or restart the game. Those are not acceptable options. The only other option is to lower the difficulty, which as I and many others have noted, makes the final battle insultingly trivial.

Again, I'd like to reiterate that it's not because I didn't understand how promotion or the battle mechanics worked - it's because I had (foolishly) thought that the story mattered, and that I should play the story as though there was actually a story happening. Now I realize that the "correct" way to play is probably to always charge into every battle, always give chase, never spend renown on supplies, and never invest in characters that you're just going to lose capriciously (hello, Egil).

Basically, play at all times with an eye to earning kills and renown, and min/maxing the perfect party, and ignore the story. Duly noted.

It just seems like (and maybe it's just me), if the game was actually well-balanced, it would have either a) provided some feedback during your journey so you can identify and correct any mistakes you're making before you get to the brick-wall final encounter, or b) provided some sort of catch-up mechanism in the end that allowed you to grind (and rest) until you have a suitably promoted party for the final encounter. Instead, you get zero feedback or correction along the way (I skipped along quite merrily, never coming close to losing a battle at any point until the final battle on normal - in fact, I felt the game was too easy for me to that point, probably because of my Faction experience), and the game is basically on a timer in the end. Sure, you can grind out those last few battles (if you completely ignore what the storyline is loudly urging you to do), but even then you can go into the last battle underpowered because it's too little too late.

GreenDread
01-26-2014, 11:18 AM
Skystriker trap stops his turn, as usual, if I remember correctly.

Personally I struggled just a little bit, but mostly because I had to experiment with his ability first. It would have helped if the ability descriptions were more clear. Fortunately I had rank 5 Mogr with me, who was invaluable in the second part.

And I was lucky enough to make good decisions for the most part, so I didn't really lose any too important chars, aside from Egil and Yrsa.

But I can imagine that the fights gets really hard, if you have no good armor-break with you. The force to bring Alette along was pretty annoying. Just felt weird to have her killed at first opportunity (for turn-advantage), when I chose not to bring her to any fight during the whole game. Should be patched imho.

Another option would be, if there was at least a hint that you have to bring her to bellower in the last chapter, so you can at least bring her up to rank 3, where she can be a decent breaker. Like a small conversation with Rook, that she will not stand back anymore.

loveboof
01-26-2014, 12:28 PM
Some mistakes are avoidable [...] Other mistakes are not - for example, showing up to the end battle with no particularly useful items whatsoever. In almost every defense of the final battle I've read, the apologist talks about some +3 armor break item as though everyone should have it. I didn't have it. No idea where or how you get it. Yeah, would have helped, I'm sure. Also, almost every apologist lists a squad of characters that were unavailable to me. You mention Krumr, for example - I didn't have him. That's not an "avoidable mistake". It's a natural byproduct of the sheer number of things that can happen during the story, leading to wildly different endgame loadouts for different players.

Ok, well firstly if you're going to refer to me as an 'apologist' like I'm some kind of Holocaust denier, then I'm going to refer to everyone who is complaining as 'whiners'...

Secondly, it seems we agree that avoidable mistakes were made which contributed to your difficulty with Bellower! The lack of certain items and characters is also certainly avoidable, but I agree shouldn't necessarily be considered as mistakes since they arise from decisions you have made through naturally playing the game.

The +3 armour break item is Farthingjord, which you get from one of the God Stones (can't remember which one) - it actually used to belong to Iver, and so plot-wise is probably meant to be found. The fact you did not get it is not game breaking at all, although it is a brilliant item. I only suggested Krumr as part of my list of helpful hints for fighting Bellower; if you did not have him, just ignore that particular hint.



But (silly me) I thought that the single player game would be about more than min/maxing your squad for maximum combat effectiveness. I thought it would be about the things you do in between battles - which it most certainly is not.
This doesn't really make any sense. Your difficulty clearly stems from the things you did in-between the battles: i.e. the story / dialogue decisions / party line-up / renown management (etc)

The single player game is quite evidently about more than simply min/maxing a squad.



Virtually every decision I made in the game resulted in negative consequences, and ultimately weakened my party more than strengthened it. I lost characters I had invested in and given items to. I lost supplies at every turn (whether I tried being nice or ruthless, didn't matter) which in turn resulted in low morale and loss of willpower.
Yeah me too! That's the whole point of the story.. 'Talking 'bout hard times, Lord those hard times! Who knows better than I?' (~ Ray Charles)

It may look a bit Disney, but it ain't ;)



Nobody in my party except Hakon was even able to stand up to more than one hit from the high-strength Dredge after Bellower's turn-one scream, and few could take more than one hit from most of the others as well. None of those things can be considered "easily avoidable"
Well, Bellower's turn 1 scream happens after all your characters have taken their turns right? And it only does 1 STR /1 ARM damage with the push back... It isn't that devastating. And As I said before, Eyvind can immediately pop Bellower down to 16 STR if you choose (I didn't btw).



Again, I'd like to reiterate that it's not because I didn't understand how promotion or the battle mechanics worked - it's because I had (foolishly) thought that the story mattered, and that I should play the story as though there was actually a story happening. Now I realize that the "correct" way to play is probably to always charge into every battle, always give chase, never spend renown on supplies, and never invest in characters that you're just going to lose capriciously (hello, Egil).
The story clearly does matter, as it is the source of most your gripes. What you suggest may be an easier way of playing the game, but it's not what I did.
I lost a level 4 Gil who was integral to my strategy; the same for Fasolt! I desperately tried to strike a balance between keeping my caravan alive (and in good morale) with leveling my characters. It was rare that I had any spare renown to buy items from the market without having to sacrifice elsewhere! Obviously I got a bit luckier than you with a few item drops, but the game was far from plain sailing for me - And it isn't meant to be! (That's the point of the story)

The game isn't perfect and perhaps I am just 'an apologist', but my opinion is just as valid as yours. I liked the final boss.

________

Skystriker trap stops his turn, as usual, if I remember correctly.

Ah ok, thanks :)

Well that is a pretty good strategy for the Bellower fight then!

Rensei
01-26-2014, 02:56 PM
In the other hand, Stonesinger is a great mini boss here.
It creates new formulas to the gameboard.
About him (my private opinion, no insults meant).
He sucks. He sucks so hard it makes me cry. He wanders aimlessly on the board, then takes a whole turn to reduce all his friends armor by 2. Gee - thanks. I imagine the str boost he offers in return could pose a treat, but by the time it activates the key targets, that could benefit from the said boost, are either maimed or dead. Not to mention he goes down in three shots and takes the buff with him.

Armor break party, Strength maim party or Full melee party(Hakon)
Bellower fight make the other parties fail in the end.
Again my personal opinion, no harm meant.
I imagine the last two types could help a lot with breezing through the game on easy, where armor on dredge is weak, and varl destroy them on sight, but on hard I somehow cannot imagine anyone having much of a success with them. Might be just me, but armor break is not an option in my book - it's a must. There is a reason nearly every character has at least one point already there.
One alternative could be combining Hakon, Siege archer, Oddleif, Eyvind and both spearmen/thrashers for a willpower dependent skills based party, going straight for strength, utilizing AoE damage, careful positioning and control. Such party however is only available (in its full beauty) on the last fight.

Corvino
01-26-2014, 06:58 PM
I've just played through the game twice over the past 3 days and had very different experiences with the final battle. I had no prior experience with Factions and both playthroughs were on normal.

The first time around I was pretty melee heavy and had decent success for most of the game with a group that usually consisted of Iver, Fasolt/Krumr/Gunnulf, Egil, Rook, Hogr and Mogr. I wanted to see how each class played so I swapped characters around and had quite a few level 3 characters on the roster. I had a certain pair of other characters in my party, so one of the usual lineup didn't make it to the end. As I was trying to be charitable, virtuous and keep as many people alive as possible I spent quite a bit of renown on supplies. Also, as Alette had basically asked not to fight early on I'd completely left her out of most battles. I was lucky to have enough kills to get her to level 3 when I realised she was necessary. My party was mostly level 4 with 1 or 2 level 3s. Everyone had maxed Armor break but I was missing a lot of key items and didn't realise how important Exertion could be as a stat. I got through the first battle easily but being melee heavy allowed Bellower to tear my party to bits in the second. I eventually had to turn the difficulty to easy, which was much too easy.

After this I had a couple of looks at tactics guides and item guides. Then I replayed.

The difference was ridiculous. I built the endgame party I wanted from the outset. No renown was spent on people who were going to die or not be useful. Every possible battle was fought to maximise renown and kills. I used archers more as I knew they'd be useful in the final battle. Iver, Egil, Krumr, Rook, Alette and Nid. Aside from Rook everyone was level 5 and had appropriate gear. Having Alette with 2 Armor break, a +3 Armor break item and 3 Exertion for a possible 8 Armor reduction in one turn was almost unfair. I think Nid may actually have taken him from 20 strength to dead in one shot once his armor was gone, and he didn't manage to kill anyone.

The battle is very doable if you know what to expect of the fight and have built a party to deal with it. But the game doesn't really encourage you to do this - you fight more or less the same type of battle from chapter 2 to chapter 6 and then something very different gets presented to you at the end. I mainly played through for the story, art, music and atmosphere and normal difficulty was appropriate all the way through on both until the end - at which point you're a bit screwed unless you've been powergaming, metagaming or plain lucky.

Jawbone78
01-26-2014, 07:45 PM
Ok, well firstly if you're going to refer to me as an 'apologist' like I'm some kind of Holocaust denier, then I'm going to refer to everyone who is complaining as 'whiners'...

I should have taken more time to proofread my post. It comes off a lot harsher than I intended, both in criticizing defenders of the final battle and the game itself.

When I say the game is not about the things you do between battles, I don't mean to say that those things don't affect anything. Clearly my decisions there affected my ability in the end to finish the game. What I mean is that I thought (mistakenly) that there would be a reason to care as much about what happened to my caravan, for example, as I did about my units. There is not. The only thing you ever need to actually care about is racking up kills with the right units so you can promote them, and getting into enough battles so you'll have the renown to do so. And making the right decisions along the way to pick up useful items. (I tried to investigate all the god stones, but apparently I wasn't making the right arbitrary choices to get the +3 break items.)

So when my caravan was starving, and I made the decision to not spend renown on anything except supplies, that was objectively an incorrect decision. The supplies just get flushed down the toilet, whether by your caravan consuming them or an event taking them away. I consider that mistake unavoidable, because on my first playthrough of the game there is no way to know. The game never comes out and says "Hey, you know those people following you? They don't matter. You're better off letting them starve to death." Instead, the game leads the player to believe that you're supposed to try to keep them alive, and it's not until the game is over that you realize they don't pay that off in any way.

The right decision, in every case, is whichever decision (seemingly randomly) earns you the most renown and items and kills, so you can put together a party that can take down Bellower. Literally nothing else matters in any way whatsoever. So if you think that the game will reward you for role-playing, or for generally taking actions that follow from the story, you're wrong.

Because the consequences of your decisions are never spelled out for you, and those consequences can in some cases be virtually unforeseeable (I took Onef into my party, and the result was that both he and Egil died). From a storytelling perspective, I like that a lot. In real life, things don't always work out as planned. In the game, however, this basically just makes for a frustrating first playthrough, because it's impossible to make good decisions when you have no way of knowing what the consequences or rewards will be.

Also, as I said before, I don't think the game does anything at all to guide or correct a player's decision-making process along the way. Say you come to an event that gives you an option to help someone or not help them. You decide Rook will be decent, so you help them. Oops, I lost 30 supplies. I guess the game punishes you for being too nice. Okay, next time I won't help people. Now we're at another spot. This time I'm going to be more of a jerk. Oops, lost 30 more supplies. Okay, next time I'll just avoid people. Now we're at another event. This time I'll try to avoid it. Oops, lost 30 more supplies. There is no way to make a good decision in almost any event, because you're not given the ability to investigate your options. Every decision is made blind, and all consequences are basically arbitrary.

Than, after you lose units along the way and your caravan starves, the game leads you to believe that you can still win, because you're still moving. You're never confronted with the fact that your party might be incapable of surviving the final battle until you reach the final battle (especially with respect to Alette, who the story encourages you not to use - until the final battle, when it forces you to use her). You just move from easy battle to easy battle and then suddenly you're past the point where you're able to actually improve your party, and then you lose. Again and again and again for hours.

Again, almost every mistake made is effectively unavoidable if you're playing honestly.

Rensei
01-27-2014, 09:03 AM
The item in question is worldhook - super cheap lvl 1 or 2 trinket, that pops up in different markets 1-3 times during the game. Apart from it, there is no need to spend renown - other useful items are atained from plot events (Allette's necklace, five something necklace, you steal from dead merchant, +3str glove you get from Krumr, godscale, you get for letting the caravan collect scales under godstone and the item the drunken warhawk brings with him).

There are plenty of alternative ones that work just as well (some become godlike when given to right character).

loveboof
01-27-2014, 09:45 AM
I should have taken more time to proofread my post. It comes off a lot harsher than I intended, both in criticizing defenders of the final battle and the game itself.

Don't worry. I wasn't offended - just thought your terminology was a little too serious for the discussion! lol

The clansmen and the wars are the weakest elements of the game, so I can see where you're coming from. I think you are probably meant to keep them alive to stay in relatively normal morale, but I agree that the concept needs some work for the next game.

The recent patch has apparently opened up more renown through some of the chapters, so hopefully if you replay the game you will find that side of things a bit more satisfying.

Personally, I'd like to see more player freedom over your route/destinations through navigating from the map (think FTL but with Banner Saga!). If this was the case, perhaps your whole caravan could become more important in other ways. For example, constructing a camp with better facilities, or ships & bridges to help traversing the map? etc. Or perhaps in a war everybody who can fight should fight, but only the fighters are really effective... There are lots of potential ways the clansmen could become more important in the next game!

Jawbone78
01-27-2014, 10:03 AM
The item in question is worldhook - super cheap lvl 1 or 2 trinket, that pops up in different markets 1-3 times during the game. Apart from it, there is no need to spend renown - other useful items are atained from plot events (Allette's necklace, five something necklace, you steal from dead merchant, +3str glove you get from Krumr, godscale, you get for letting the caravan collect scales under godstone and the item the drunken warhawk brings with him).

There are plenty of alternative ones that work just as well (some become godlike when given to right character).

The point isn't that there aren't items to be had. It's that it's not helpful to say "you should use such-and-such item in the end battle", when it's entirely possible to get there without said item. I can assure you that when I reached the end the first time, I did not have any particularly useful items (Egil took Alette's necklace to his grave, for one thing). Maybe I was the 0.01% case where every possible bad thing that could happen did happen, and every wrong decision that could be made was made.

Rensei
01-27-2014, 01:50 PM
Once again I apologize if I seemed offensive. Was just trying to hand out tips: "have problems with the fight? check Your items, there might be a lone worldhook there, You bought in the first shop, then forgot about it". Some people never noticed they got Eyvind at level 5 with 10 unspent points and kept playing him with 6/7 stats, wondering how anyone can think he is good, some people never bothered to check heroes tent in camp and (because of simplified pre-battle barracks view) ended up never using items.

Myself, I was simply curious on my first run and - even though I didn't buy much, as I was always low on renown - always checked markets for items and read their descriptions. Some were just too good and too cheap to pass. But then again - I knew right from the start what stats I was after.

Aeolun
02-01-2014, 06:44 AM
I just want to make my point here as well. I immensely enjoyed the game. I apparently made all the right choices, as none of my characters died by the end, and I arrived at the bossfight with a completely depleted caravan (the last city really took a toll), but a great party of lvl 5 and 4 characters. However, then this final fight happened, and I found this post on the steam forums which describes my experience quite correctly:

"This ending really just ♥♥♥♥es me off because of how arbitrary it is. Regardless how the 1st portion of the final battle goes, suddenly my perfectly healthy Alette who was standing fully protected by 3 varl... delivers the "killing shot" with her silver arrow and then promptly is squeezed to death by a Bellower that was not even remotely within reach of the character!?!? WTF. Then I am left to fight a shorthanded battle against a fully regenerated Bellower who suddenly has a new special power of going multiple turns in a row so I can do nothing but watch him walk up and single kill my characters without the slightest chance to do anything about it. That is one of the lamest endings to any game I have ever played."

I'd like to say that I don't mind either Alette or Rook dying. That's fine with me as a story moment, but when I'm fighting in combat, bitchslap the hell out of Bellower, who after he's taken to near death with an arrow suddenly apparently teleports through my guys to grab my main heroine and crush her instantly, I'm left feeling utterly disappointed. It's like Mass Effect 3 all over again... There's just no possible way for it to end well, even though the fight might be going completely in your favor.

CSRosewood
02-01-2014, 12:50 PM
LaMort13 a lot of these hypothetical questions are somewhat irrelevant because a lot of them are completely impractical.

What happens if Alette is already wounded? or What happens if the rest party is already wounded?
I don't understand the gripe here. The game presents multiple save points to reload from to achieve different results. If the off chance that your silver arrow archer, or your entire party is wounded, which the latter is ridiculous to begin with (seeing as you get the varl caravan at the end), you can always reload at the beginning of entering the city. All games have trail and errors. And making poor choices are one of them. But to ask the game to hold your hand because you made said choices, is not warranted. But if you are steadfast to push on regardless, then know that not -all- characters require their full strength to be effective in their intended purpose. A purpose which you have given them. I won't go into detail here because I rather not take the time into it right now.

What happens if both Rook and Alette are still level 1? or What if you've been rotating characters, and no one is above level 2?
These two questions are so identical, that it's worth mentioning them together. And the issue with these inquiry here is that it all falls down to player competency. There's absolutely no reason for you to be sending nothing but level 1 or 2 characters into the final battle. There is so much renown and so much kill counts that, it is impractical to even consider this happening. The only way this could happen is if, of course, player incompetence. Yes, you can spend lots of renown on items and supplies, though one would wonder why you buy items which require level restrictions for characters you have no interest in leveling, piled onto the fact that if such a large portion of your characters are underdeveloped, someone or something had to be doing your killing for you which in turns is the only character(s) that would even qualify you to go out of your way to buy high cost items. Thus lowing overall expenditure of renown. You can declare that this is a game about player choices but there should also be consequences to every decision, and poor management can and does lead to self-destructive dead ends. And as the game has put forth, a character can die abruptly with no fan-fair or drama. Game over.

That being said, I always rotate my characters in both caravan parties and I always end up with at least 6 level 5 characters (not to mention the Eyvind starts off at level 5!) with everybody else at level 4's and 3's There might be one or two characters still at level 1 or 2 but certainly not every single one of them!

What if your party has been built with high strength, high willpower, but low break?
Then I say, you must have a hell of time getting through the game. To be so strongly specialized to one end of the spectrum to have NONE of your characters diverse enough to invest in armor break or exertion is again, player incompetence. If this is a game about strategy then it is also about adapting to unexpected circumstances. Failure to be versatile should lead to devastating repercussions. Especially in a game about survival and warfare.

What if you have no items, or only low level items?
You shouldn't, especially since the game practically gives you tones of them. However, you must have ONE item regardless. Alette's Bracelet. Still, these are simple augmentations and none of them are require to beat the game. In fact, my Alette wore her bracelet in the final battle (a level 1 item) with Egil beside her, in hopes that maybe the Bellower will kill Egil instead. He promised to protected her damnit! But, oh well....

What if you've been desperately trying to keep your caravan large and moral normal and hence have spent all of your renown on supplies?
The math doesn't add up. I know this cause I've done this and still get a good number of high level characters at the end.

One other issue I haven't addressed are the forced characters. Egh, in a game where non essential characters die abruptly, why would you NOT level up characters that were highly likely to survive the life-span of the game (main characters for example). I could understand neglecting Alette. But Rook and Ivar? Extremely unlikely. Seeing as Ivar is the only tank in Rook's caravan that doesn't die abruptly like poor glass-jaw Egil (hell, the kid has an achievement just to make it to the end!). And Rook being the best archer in the game? Come on. Besides, the last city has several battles to participate in, plenty of time to get some kills for them, if you're willing to reload from an earlier save. AKA Trail and Error.

Anyways, regardless how crude my reply might have been. I'm not here to bash anyone but express my thoughts on the matter. I don't want hand holding in this game.

CSRosewood
02-01-2014, 01:40 PM
I do agree with Jawbone on one particular fact. That the caravan NEEDS to mean something. I too, played through my first playthrough with the idea that keeping them alive was important. In chapter six, I was devastated that some of my guys starved on the final stretched in chapter 6 but after beating the game, you wonder... what's the point?

I don't like gaming the system to min/max. And in all my playthroughs, I still keep my caravan alive. I'm hoping that in the next game, these numbers will matter. Like sending Eirikk, the varl king's gold and the merchants to Strand. Holding onto the brothers necklace to return to said merchant. I have high expectations that at SOME POINT I'll be returning to strand and all these choices DO matter. I'd be gravely disappointed if they don't.

There's a thread talking about how they should implement consequences to starving your caravan. Ideas how to make your clansmen numbers meaningful and worthwhile.

Aeolun
02-01-2014, 02:45 PM
@CSRosewood: While I agree with you in basis, I think you are overlooking a very important fact. If you've gotten through the entire game with only lvl 1-3 characters, without any break skill whatsoever, and apparently won all the battles you were in, having the final boss be an impenetrable hurdle is quite frustrating. It makes no sense in light of the difficulty of the rest of the game.

That said, the instant I saw all these walking pieces of armor the only thing I could think was 'Max Break Now!'. It's also the only thing that remains consistently useful after your characters become strength depleted (called dead weight by others in this thead).

The real reason I'm back here is to say that once I figured it out, the bossfight was actually quite easy (on normal). It's just a matter of waiting until he comes to you, using the archers to knock down his armor (though mine both had armor break items, maxed exertion and maxed armor break, so the poor Bellower jumped from 20 to 3 armor in 1 turn. Then it was just a matter of either shooting him with the arrow, or in case of the second fight, slapping him with the 21 str warhawk. Of course it didn't all go as planned, but that was the basic tactic.

CSRosewood
02-01-2014, 02:56 PM
Well Aeolun. It would be a plausible excuse to have won many battles before hand, but the final battle isn't the first time you encounter Bellower. He's 20 Str/20 Armor on the bridge, and if that wasn't your wake-up call, well...

loboludo
02-05-2014, 06:38 AM
I've just played through the game twice over the past 3 days and had very different experiences with the final battle. I had no prior experience with Factions and both playthroughs were on normal.

The first time around I was pretty melee heavy and had decent success for most of the game with a group that usually consisted of Iver, Fasolt/Krumr/Gunnulf, Egil, Rook, Hogr and Mogr. I wanted to see how each class played so I swapped characters around and had quite a few level 3 characters on the roster. I had a certain pair of other characters in my party, so one of the usual lineup didn't make it to the end. As I was trying to be charitable, virtuous and keep as many people alive as possible I spent quite a bit of renown on supplies. Also, as Alette had basically asked not to fight early on I'd completely left her out of most battles. I was lucky to have enough kills to get her to level 3 when I realised she was necessary. My party was mostly level 4 with 1 or 2 level 3s. Everyone had maxed Armor break but I was missing a lot of key items and didn't realise how important Exertion could be as a stat. I got through the first battle easily but being melee heavy allowed Bellower to tear my party to bits in the second. I eventually had to turn the difficulty to easy, which was much too easy.

After this I had a couple of looks at tactics guides and item guides. Then I replayed.

The difference was ridiculous. I built the endgame party I wanted from the outset. No renown was spent on people who were going to die or not be useful. Every possible battle was fought to maximise renown and kills. I used archers more as I knew they'd be useful in the final battle. Iver, Egil, Krumr, Rook, Alette and Nid. Aside from Rook everyone was level 5 and had appropriate gear. Having Alette with 2 Armor break, a +3 Armor break item and 3 Exertion for a possible 8 Armor reduction in one turn was almost unfair. I think Nid may actually have taken him from 20 strength to dead in one shot once his armor was gone, and he didn't manage to kill anyone.

The battle is very doable if you know what to expect of the fight and have built a party to deal with it. But the game doesn't really encourage you to do this - you fight more or less the same type of battle from chapter 2 to chapter 6 and then something very different gets presented to you at the end. I mainly played through for the story, art, music and atmosphere and normal difficulty was appropriate all the way through on both until the end - at which point you're a bit screwed unless you've been powergaming, metagaming or plain lucky.

Your post sums it up perfectly for me and I wanted to add more to that although I still have to replay the game.

I have now spent three hours on this final fight and quit for now in frustration and will probably tone down the difficulty and retry later today or tomorrow or whenever the mood hits me...
The "mistakes" that let to this I guess are:
I bought to many items
Coming from the Hakon campaign with no item at all I had the impression items are a scarcity and was very happy to finally be able to buy some.
This left me with a huge chunk of items which got replaced by way better items you got due to scripts and there for where wasted renown.
I favoured the wrong Heroes
Every Hero I lost due to story was at least lvl 3 which let to a lot of wasted renown.
I am to kind...I guess
I lost to many food to people that joint my caravan and then stole from me and always took everybody with me. This isn't really the games or my fault but more just the combination of both. When faced with a moral choice in games I indistinctly go the paragon way and this game works best if you go the grey router. This is a first for me and I admire the game for it but this doesn't fix the final fight for me.
I did not used Alette at all
There is nothing to add to it I guess. Despite being a great character I saw no reason to take her to any fight. I enjoyed every conversation with her but that does not increase her level (maybe something for the next Saga?).

All of this left me with no food at all for the last 20 days or so. When I arrived at the final town I had maybe a dozen fighters left, no renown, no food, no moral and no Alette.
After the siege begins the lack of fighters forced me to basically fight five battles in a row without rest and the low moral crippled me in all of them.

I think I know what I did wrong and more so after reading this thread. Thanks btw for not spoiling any story after the fight. :)
The game is now in a strange position for me. If love rogue-likes like FTL and coming from that side a can accept my defeat because the reason I lost feels similar to those kind of games. Story driven games on the other hand are also very near and dear to my heart like Journey or Walking Dead. The end of those games feel similar like TBS but that is the point of the story and you are therefore still able to progress because its a story and progressing through it is the point.
The frustration comes from the combination that I can't progress in the game because I had a bad play-through but the game isn't finished despite that fact and this leaves me in limbo.

I will still recommend this game to all my friends but I WILL have to warn them to listen to my advice to at least level Rook and Alette through out the game which I regard as an essential but necessary story and gameplay spoiler as sad as it sounds.

Aleonymous
02-05-2014, 06:53 AM
Hello all.
I made this small tutorial-video (http://www.twitch.tv/aleonymous/b/499676199) for beating the Bellower fight. I am using [Griss, Mogr, Hakon, Oddleif, Rook & Alette (she has the arrow)] and playing at normal difficulty. My characters are fairly leveled-up (ranks 3-4-5), but I am using no items on them, so this compensates a rank or two. I know your teams are probably not as "properly statted/ranked" as the one I am using, but I hope the generic comments and strategy/tactic tips can be of help to you.
--Aleo

loboludo
02-05-2014, 07:54 AM
@Aleonymus
Great video, I learned a lot. :)
I also noticed that I missed a lot of information because my laptop screen is a lot smaller then yours and my field of view is also a lot narrower. I only noticed the unimportant "hints" like "You have to hurry!" (duh).

So I finished the game now by setting the difficulty to Easy and feel like I cheated...
This final fight severely changed the impact of the whole game for the worse for me and although I can now see a lot of mistakes I "made" (in quotes because I made them due to lack of information and experience) it doesn't change a thing about my experience.
Please don't implement a boss fight in the next Saga or set up a situation where anyone starts with the same conditions regardless of prior decisions because otherwise the same things will happen I guess. The first option is my preferred one because the decisions are more important to me personally.

Igguk
02-18-2014, 01:54 PM
Hello,

I agree with many things that have been said here, i enjoyed the game very much for its story, graphics and music but this boss fight was really frustrating.
I'm not a big tactical RPG player but the entire game didn't give me real challenge, i enjoyed the ride but never had really hard fights even when i couldn't upgrade my characters because all my renown went to supplies (knowing how starvation have little effect on the caravan, i thing i will play this differently now)

The problem is that this final boss, i couldn't defeat it, i spent the whole evening yesterday and a few hours today trying different strategies but i finally switched to easy mode (which is really really too easy), and it's frustrating.
I'm not against a little challenge even if i'm not a great tactical mastermind, but what surprises me is the difference of difficulty between the whole game and the boss. There is no real progressive learning curve, it's more like a huge wall at the end of a rather easy ballad.

And because i had no real issues during the game (the few defeats i had didn't even stop the progression) i think i didn't learn enough efficient mecanisms and strategies.
I also had my main armour breaker badly injured without possibility of resting before this fight, and the second fight where i can't change my roster, with this boss who take initiative everytime he's hit, changing everuthing i learned during the walkthrough...

I don't know, it feels like school when a final exam wasn't about things we learned in class, but something totally different and harder.

Argail
02-25-2014, 05:39 PM
Hello everyone

I find it quite interesting that there is such a major discussion about the final boss fight. I too found it to be one of the toughest parts of the game which on the one hand is great because, well, it's a boss fight. But then again, on the other side, I found it tough for all the wrong reasons. The fact that Bellower changes the rules of the game certainly makes it challenging, however, I simply find him a bit too tough for parties who are not walking in prepared.

Ultimately, I ended up playing the final part of the game a few times in order to arrive with good moral stats and also with more or less suitable heroes. All in all, what I find rather annoying was the fact that tis repitition was breaking the immersion for me. I took about 2o tries to fight Bellower (on hard difficulty) with characters who were still not quite up to the task (highest armor break 4). Today I finally finished him off with a couple of Rain of Arrows which was the more satisfying.

A thrilling alternative perhaps would have been to have a huge battle with all what remained of your party so far and engage in a massive battle with lots and lots of Dredge, culminating in a huge struggle between the two final armies. But then again, a single huge enemy seems to be pretty epic and more unique.

I believe that on a second playthough Bellower will be much easier to beat since I now know how to prepare for him. Nonetheless, I would have preffered a slightly less challenging end battle despite me enjoying the overall high difficulty of the game.

Oh, and perhaps it would have helped if I would have figured out earlier that the silver arrow actually was a special ability I was supposed to use...I tried for ages to kill Belower by using Allete for the final strike, and it was simply impossible due to his infinite regeneration ability. ^^


- Argail

supamanu
02-27-2014, 03:04 PM
I came here after a few hours of frustration trying to beat the final battle... I have tried at least 6 times and failed. It's just so...odd. I was having such a perfectly wonderful time throughout the game, loosing some battles and winning others... and then this...WALL of frustration. Some of my better characters are wounded and there is no way to heal them before the battle. Argh, why. I'll keep on slaving away I guess since I would like to complete the game but, what a real downer on an otherwise wonderful experience. That's not how I wanted to finish the game :(

edit: arghh this is driving mew crazy. I cannot for the life of get get passed the second stage. I give up.

Argail
02-27-2014, 06:01 PM
@supamanu:

Hey, don't give up! :)

I can understand your frustation, it took me a couple of sessions to finish the boss battle. But I think it is possible with almost any party; a good piece of luck is also involved since Bellower is not always using the same skill, so the more you try, the higher your chances are.

Hopefully some of those hints can be of assistance:

Preparing for the fight:

- try replaying the complete part in Boersgard; there are conversation options you can take for improving your moral, ultimately leaving you with more willpower to spend in the final fight
- check the marketplace regularly, items vary and if you have the reknown, some can be quite helpful in the last fight (e.g. those improving armor break)
- do not use any of the units in the battles leading up to the boss fight whenever possible; thus you will have no injured units when encountering Bellower
- while being in Boersgard you have the chance to earn a bit more reknown; gather it all and then spend it wisely right before the fight

The final boss battle:

Stage 1

- even more so than in other fights, turn-order is crucial -> whoever has the silver arrow should be acting after some units with high armor-break
- ignore the slingers and to a certain extend also the shieldguard
- focus on the two Dredge with 23 strength and make sure they do not one-shot your guys; knock their streght down enough that they are no immideate threat to you anymore
- then focus on Bellower and get his armor down as much as possible; even with a weak team it is possible (but admittedly very tough) to finish this stage with none of your characters dying

Stage 2

- Bellower immideatly reacts to every hit, so it is very effective to not let him hit you
- I find RoA crucial in this fight; this way Bellower is much less dangerous since you counter his attack
- also, if you have units who can move enemy units by pushing or kicking, you can actually use other Dredge units to limit Bellower's movements
- ignore the songsinger guy, he is not a threat in this fight and his lowering the overall armor of the other Dredge comes in handy when attacking Bellower


I hope this helps. ;) It's certainly a tough fight and I cannot say that I particulalry enjoyed all of my attempts finishing the battle. Nonetheless, the final cinematic after the battle is actually quite nice.


- Argail

supamanu
02-28-2014, 07:04 AM
Thanks Argail, you are very kind. I will keep trying. I cannot NOT finish the story. I was just getting really really pissed off yesterday after 10+ attempts...

One thing though, what is RoA?

edit: Ah Rain of Arrows, got it :D

supamanu
02-28-2014, 08:20 AM
Well, in the end I switched difficulty to Easy (was playing the game on Normal), I just wasn't getting anywhere... which then turns it almost into an unsatisfying cakewalk.

Meh, I am so bummed out.

Anyhow, it's done. I got to enjoy the gorgeous cinematic, and I will pray to the gods that the next chapter doesn't end this way again.

Thanks again Argail.

edit: I should also add that I don"t think my problem was character levels or items. I had a few level 4-5 in my party and some decent items. Hakon was able to armor break 6. Despite all that, I got beaten down again an again. Perhaps the only conclusion is that I suck at this game... which is fine, but getting through the whole game feeling ok about combat (i.e. I win probably 70% of the fights) and then being consistently beaten to a pulp with no way out was just heartbreaking.

Aleonymous
02-28-2014, 09:21 AM
edit: I should also add that I don"t think my problem was character levels or items. I had a few level 4-5 in my party and some decent items. Hakon was able to armor break 6. Despite all that, I got beaten down again an again. Perhaps the only conclusion is that I suck at this game... which is fine, but getting through the whole game feeling ok about combat (i.e. I win probably 70% of the fights) and then being consistently beaten to a pulp with no way out was just heartbreaking.

I don't know if you checked my video-tutorial for the 1st part of this fight (post #32 in this thread). It is on twitch, and the link is this -- http://www.twitch.tv/aleonymous/b/499676199 . If you don't mind my Greek accent, you could grab some interesting tactics on how to beat Bello on Normal, with high-rank characters (and no items). I will try to summarize some of the most important points here:


As Argail said, you'll mainly need ARM breaker units in this fight. Bringing three ranged breakers (Rook & Alette + Yrsa or Oddleif) works even better.
As Argail said, you should place the silver-arrow bearer (preferably that should be Alette, due to her Puncture passive) after those breakers .
Don't ever try to bum-rush Bello and his bodyguards. That's the surest way to lose.
Deploy in a corner, and spend your first few turns resting or slightly repositioning out of their reach. Let them come to you.
Avoid killing the bodyguards, just maim the high-STR Scourge and the kamikaze Slingers.
Keep the Arrow-Bearer safe in the back. Equipping him with one of those "1STR Deflected" items keeps him/her safe from Bello's Quake-and-Despair too.
Carefully study the turn-order. You should look for a "window" of Break->Break->SilverArrow. Optimally, Bello should be acting right after the Arrow-Bearer.
Even if that doesn't arise, don't hesitate to "gentle" Bello, i.e. reduce his STR to safe levels. At the start of his next turn, he'll regenerate 6 STR points. So, if you get him down to ~9-10STR, he wont be so scary.


The second part of the fight is a little easier, in my opinion. I typically "sacrifice" a ranged-breaker to win this one:

Move a ranged-breaker up and do a 5+ AB on Bello. He'll walk up to you (if he can) and probably one-shoot you.
If the next-to-act ally is a high-STR one that can "gentle" Bello, take that STR attack on him. It's a walk after that...
If the next-to-act ally is a breaker, do another 5+ AB on Bello. He'll probably one-shoot another unit, or cripple a high-ARM breaker.
The most difficult thing here is having at least one high-STR Varl (i.e. don't get your Hakon KO'd in the first part!).
But, in-range archers work even better. All it takes to gentle an ARM-broken Bello is one Puncture shot!

Zimzallabim
03-08-2014, 02:35 AM
I had the same bad experience that many others had. I replayed the Bellower fight on Normal about 15-20 times, all with varying results of getting waxed. I'm either a terrible player or the mechanics of the final fight are deeply flawed.

I don't mind if I'm a terrible player. That's fine. But the game needs to do something to let me know that before I reach the final fight. I took every fight I could, won all but 1 along the way, and got my ass handed to me repeatedly against Bellower. At the end, my team couldn't crack him. I made it to the second part a handful of times, but I went into the fight with two characters injured, and was just ground down.

I feel like there are too many mechanical issues that go awry that simply aren't present in the rest of the game-

1- I'm actually okay with Bellower restoring his armor. I'm NOT okay with the turn order changing so much. It essentially ruins the set up with the required item and draws out the first half of the fight.

2. Being down one character. My version of Alette was pretty weak, so losing her wasn't too bad. Only, sometimes she'd get dinged early and I couldn't make it out of the first half. I also played with Rook being the archer with the special arrow, only he's one of my better characters, so to lose him for the second half made it nigh impossible to win.

3. Change of difficulty on Easy. I've never completed a game on less than Normal, The Banner Saga is the first game that I've felt compelled to drop the difficulty down just so I could see the friggin' ending. That's terribly disappointing. I still love the game, but the balance and mechanics are out of whack.

For the record, I've been playing games for a long time and I've played and beaten many SRPGs. Some were easier than others, some are more difficult. Difficulty isn't a problem, but fairness is. I'm also a game dev with over 9 years professional experience. I don't know many folks who would say that turning the rules on their ear in the last encounter is good design, it just goes off the rails. If done properly, the last encounter should build upon and expand the rules you've come to know and love, not just make up new ways to punish you. I applaud those that have made it through, particularly on your first run. But flexing your e-peen doesn't mean that the game is balanced, not by a long shot.

Does that ruin the game? No. Not at all, it's a wonderful game. I can't wait to play through it again. But does it diminish my enjoyment of it as a whole. Absolutely. And that's a shame. I'd definitely still recommend, but only with the qualifier that it is poorly balanced in the end.

chadwilson
03-14-2014, 01:24 PM
I stopped playing the game, have yet to see any endings, and at this point I really don't care. Having bashed against the end battle over and over I am done. I will be very unlikely to purchase another Stoic game and will not be recommending this to my friends.

Turambar29
03-14-2014, 07:54 PM
I agree; a fantastic game, but some rough parts - the last battle, most notably. From a roleplaying perpsective, the caravan seems important. The end of the game reveals that it really isn't, particularly from a gameplay perspective. Certain characters are important, form a gameplay perspective, but there's not much indication of that - the variety gives one the impression that you are free to customize. A nicer match of roleplay and gameplay would be nice. It reminded me of Krater, a game that seemed decent until the last, stupid-awful fight, which I never did win. TBS is, in contrast, a much, much better game, but has the same final fight problem.

Still, a fantastic game!

LieChenZhou
03-22-2014, 01:23 AM
LOL come on, Bellower is not as hard as Count Dracula from NES Castlevania.
Just break his armor to under 10, afterward get one of your heavy hitter attack his strength (Hakon, Bersi, Gunnulf, Rook, Nid, Alette)
After his strength is under 8, the guy is easy.
to break his armor : equip items, and use Mogr/Griss/Rook Special.

I want stronger Sundr for next Saga, something that lurk in the back like Stonesinger with its annoying abilities, with step back ability and can call reinforcements

PS : For the developer : you know you made a good final boss when there are people who can't finish the game because of him :)

bob the builder
03-22-2014, 01:08 PM
Hi,

I thought the last battle was great; because it changes the combat mechanics, it forces you to change up your playstyle. I think the game needs more of these moments, as it took me maybe 5 tries to get it right (versus winning every other battle).

It's pretty obvious that you have to weaken the minions while keeping them between yourself and bellower. Like someone already said, if you have Oddlief in your team, you can use rain of arrows and keep Bellower locked down. Then you need one good armor reducing attack on Bellower (like someone carrying that belt, plus 3x willpower attack, can take off up to 10 armor in one hit). Then assuming you put a high defense character in front of bellower (say, 18 def), he can only do minimal damage on his next turn. When it's your turn again, an archer with puncture and decent damage (say, with the +3str gloves) will take a big chunk off of Bellower, meaning he's no longer a 1-hit-kill danger. Then, you work him as per usual. This might not be obvious on your first go at the battle, but by 20 tries you should have figured something out. I'd hate for this to be just like any other battle but with a 20/20 enemy instead of the usual; how god-awful boring would that be?

To complain that you might need Alette or Rook and you may not have levelled them, or they're injured, seems absurd given the fact that the entire game is based on not knowing the consequences of your actions. What if I spent all of my renown levelling Egil and then he died? Tough luck, that's part of the game.

Aleonymous
03-24-2014, 06:49 AM
I want stronger Sundr for next Saga, something that lurk in the back like Stonesinger with its annoying abilities, with step back ability and can call reinforcements

PS : For the developer : you know you made a good final boss when there are people who can't finish the game because of him :)

Hey there, good to see you in these forums too! :)


It's pretty obvious that you have to weaken the minions while keeping them between yourself and bellower. Like someone already said, if you have Oddlief in your team, you can use rain of arrows and keep Bellower locked down. Then you need one good armor reducing attack on Bellower (like someone carrying that belt, plus 3x willpower attack, can take off up to 10 armor in one hit).

I gave that some thought... It seems that the character with the highest Armor-Break potential is Krumr, having 4AB-max and 3EX-max. Giving him that +3AB item/belt, makes him the only character capable of that double-digit 10AB! :D

Argail
03-30-2014, 06:22 AM
@ Supamanu: you're welcome :)


I gave that some thought... It seems that the character with the highest Armor-Break potential is Krumr, having 4AB-max and 3EX-max. Giving him that +3AB item/belt, makes him the only character capable of that double-digit 10AB! :D

@Aleonymous: Is there actually any way to bring Krumr to the final battle? In my playthroughs he always got killed stopping Dredge pouring into the city.


I just finished the Boss Battle in another playthrough and I really think that RoA is the best way to confront him. In the second stage of the engagement I kept placing them with Oddleif and then hit Bellower with Ludin, the RoA field inbetween the two. With RoA levelled all the way up to three it goes pretty quickly. ;)

Still, considering how many people had severe issues with the final battle (myself included at first) and that some didn't finish it because of it (which is a shame really, such a beautiful cutscene in the end!) I feel that the second installment should have a somewhat different bossfight.

Aleonymous
03-30-2014, 08:06 AM
@Aleonymous: Is there actually any way to bring Krumr to the final battle? In my playthroughs he always got killed stopping Dredge pouring into the city.

Sure :) Actually, in all my playthroughs Krumr was there available! The reason is, most likely, because during the siege of Boersgard, I helped Iver defend the walls on every single day. Fighting (and winning?) all those battles probably prevents the Dredge from breaking into the city, the event which triggers Krumr's death, I believe...

hreinnbeno
03-30-2014, 09:56 AM
You can skip fighting on the wall the first day 100% and Krumr will not die. Maybe the second (not 100% sure here). But if you dont fight the days after that, krumr will die.

Argail
03-30-2014, 12:28 PM
Ah, very interesting. Thanks guys! :)

CSRosewood
03-31-2014, 11:44 PM
Actually, you don't have to fight on the wall at all, as long as you have enough soldiers to fight the waves. It's when you run out of soldiers that the dredge break in and causes Krumr's death.

Arnie
04-02-2014, 10:33 AM
Actually, you don't have to fight on the wall at all, as long as you have enough soldiers to fight the waves. It's when you run out of soldiers that the dredge break in and causes Krumr's death.

Yup. This ^