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The Banner Saga Walkthrough: Heroes

Updated on January 22, 2014
The Banner Saga is owned by Stoic. Images used for educational purposes only.
The Banner Saga is owned by Stoic. Images used for educational purposes only.

The Banner Saga is big on managing large groups of people, true, but in the final analysis the big battle against the dredge comes down to your heroes. Ostensibly the leaders of the caravan, your heroes are the brave men and women who go into personal combat with the dredge, six-at-a-time, and determine just how good of a tactician you are.

Below is a quick breakdown of each of the characters available to you during your run of The Banner Saga (except for two unimportant dudes in the first chapter). You may recruit all of them; you may miss a few; bringing in some may get others killed. For full details on how to recruit the lot, check out this walkthrough on character recruitment.

Humans

The little folk. Humans take up one space on the combat map. They have less starting Strength and Armor than the varl, but usually have higher Willpower and more Exertion. (In my experience, human special abilities are also typically better than those of the varl.)

Rook

Class: Hunter

Range: 5

Passive Ability: Light Step - Can move through allied squares

Special Ability: Mark Prey - Does 1 damage to Armor and all allies within range automatically attack the target; does additional Armor damage if charged

Rook is amazing - and justly so, since he's pretty much your main character. He has melee and ranged attacks, is durable enough to stay on the front lines, and can slip past allies without having to go around. By far Rook's greatest weapon, however, is Mark Prey. Bring an enemy's Armor down with an attack or two, then line up Mark Prey with your archers, and you'll wind up dealing insane amounts of Strength damage. This ability is perhaps the best in the game for killing beefier enemy units, and will retain its usefulness all the way to the final battle with Bellower. Unless you want a more challenging run, Rook is a staple for any party.

Alette

Class: Eagle Eye

Range: 5

Passive Ability: Puncture - Bonus damage to targets who have lost Armor if the archer has not moved

Special Ability: Thread the Needle - Hits all targets on a straight line within five squares of Alette, +1 Armor damage

Though she has some rather humble beginnings, Alette is an amazing hero. Properly defended she is fantastic at sniping enemies from the sidelines, and though it doesn't come into play that often Thread the Needle is great at wiping out multiple weakened foes when you're ready to clear the field. Alette is one of the most fragile characters in the game, though, and you need to treat her as such by keeping her behind everyone else. Do this and you can focus all stat boosts on her offensive capabilities, completely ignoring Armor.

Oddleif

Class: Skystriker

Range: 5

Passive Ability: Puncture - Bonus damage to targets who have lost Armor if the archer has not moved

Special Ability: Rain of Arrows - Trap a tile with an arrow which causes Strength damage if walked upon before Oddleif's next turn; also appears to stop the enemy from attacking

Oddleif is a slightly-more-resilient-but-not-as-good Alette, and most of her usefulness comes down to her special ability. Rain of Arrows has the potential to be good, as it does a fair amount of damage and will stop an enemy from completing their turn, but only being able to trap a single square... bleh. More often than not you'll just wind up wasting Oddleif's turn where it could be better used actually hitting an enemy, something she's decent at. I'd replace her with Nid if Nid showed up earlier in the game, but since Oddleif's pretty much available since the beginning of Chapter Two...

Eyvind

Class: Mender

Range: 1

Special Ability: Arc Lightning - Hits one target for two Strength damage, continues to travel diagionally in all directions until you run out of targets; can be boosted with Willpower

Special Ability: Mend - Restores an ally's Armor equal to half of Eyvind's current Willpower; can be boosted with Willpower

Eyvind is a pretty good hero, though ultimately not the most interesting. His two special abilities are unique in the game, and with some proper management Arc Lightning can hit a lot of enemies (or your own characters - yay friendly fire!). This makes him quite valuable for softening up large groups of foes. He also enters your party at fifth rank, and has a full point spread ready. That said, Eyvind is really just a kill leech, and if you're not careful kills that should go to other characters will be wasted by Eyvind. Not bad in a pinch, I guess, but his frailty and utter reliance on Willpower make Eyvind kind of a meh choice.

Ludin

Class: Spearmaster

Range: 2

Passive Ability: Embolden - Killing an enemy unit grants Ludin and adjacent units one point of Willpower

Special Ability: Impale - Knocks a single target back a tile; target will then take one point of Strength damage for each tile they move on their next turn

For all his yappiness, Ludin is actually a solid unit. His Armor could use a bit of work, true, but he hits pretty hard from the start and has some good abilities. His extra range with his spear works very well in crowded situations with your other units, especially with Embolden in play to rejuvenate Willpower. Unfortunately, you'll only get to use Ludin in Chapter Three and at the very end of Chapter Seven, greatly reducing his usefulness.

Eirik

Class: Warden

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Light Step - Can move through allied squares.

Special Ability: Rally - Gives 2 Willpower to an ally at any range.

Taken as a combat unit, Eirik's an inferior version of Rook. he can move through allied squares, true, but he's not quite as strong and lacks Rook's ranged attack. Nevertheless, Eirik is a great character thanks to Rally, his special ability. Rally allows him to bequeath two or more Willpower points to any ally on the battlefield. Any ally. This is a fantastic support move, and will allow dudes like Hakon and Gunnulf to sweep through enemy lines without having to resort to their lesser attacks. He may not stand out at first, but Eirik is a fantastic resource during Chapter Three.

Ekkill

Class: Grudgewielder

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Shield Wall - Adds 1 Armor to adjacent allies and himself

Special Ability: Guts - Knocks back adjacent opponents up to two spaces, dealing Strength damage to each

This guy is good. Not only does Ekkill resist attacks fairly well, he can dish out damage on par with some of the varl. His Guts special ability is fantastic at crowd control if he gets surrounded, though you need to be careful not to catch your own characters in the blast if you like a phalanx formation. Overall one of the better heroes in The Banner Saga, but you need to make a sacrifice or two to have him on your team.

Recruiting Ekkill is slightly complex. Again, check out the Recruitment walkthrough listed at the top of this page.

Onef

Class: Backbiter

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Shield Wall - Adds 1 Armor to adjacent allies and himself

Special Ability: Run Through - Onef runs through two spaces, dealing 2 Armor damage to opponents in the way and Strength damage on the other side

Ever wanted one of those pesky Backbiters on your team? Onef's the man. He's both sturdy and strong, and his Run Through ability is fantastic for dealing damage. Don't expect weaker opponents to last long with Onef around. Uuuuunfortunately, Onef will leave your party late in the game, and he'll take someone else with him. There's little to no point in levelling him. Sigh.

Egil

Class: Raidmaster

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Shield Wall - Adds 1 Armor to adjacent allies and himself

Special Ability: Stonewall: Blocks 3 damage per hit for a single round; amount blocked increases with added Willpower

Sitting atop the defensive tiers with Mogr is the mighty Egil. Properly used, virtually nothing can get through Egil's defenses. Shield Wall is great if you like phalanx formations, and Stonewall is capable of blocking out the blows of even the mighty Bellower on lower difficulties. He's also pretty decent at hitting enemies, which is nice once your other heroes have reduced the Armor scores on nearby dredge. Egil's primary weakness is his smaller frame, which only allows him to block a single square instead of four; nevertheless, if you can set him up between a group of dredge you'll find him quite adequate at absorbing damage. Items that draw aggro are great fits for Egil.

One thing to note: Egil is notoriously difficult to keep alive outside of battle, because he seemingly gets himself into trouble a lot. If you want to use him consistently, it's highly recommended you look at the recruitment page listed at the top of this document. Seriously.

Hogun

Class: Thrasher

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Shield Wall - Adds 1 Armor to adjacent allies and himself

Special Ability: Bloody Flail - Attacks four times, each one doing damage to Strength or Armor; the final attack gains additional damage for each adjacent ally

The more defensively-minded of the brothers, Hogun is a decent unit. He can take more hits than Mogun, and even though he doesn't do quite as much damage in return his starting Exertion of 2 really helps pump up his damage output. Bloody Flail is a pretty good ability if you like to keep your units penned in; otherwise it's somewhat meh. Hogun's worth picking up, but he's not amazing.

Mogun

Class: Thrasher

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Shield Wall - Adds 1 Armor to adjacent allies and himself

Special Ability: Bloody Flail - Attacks four times, each one doing damage to Strength or Armor; the final attack gains additional damage for each adjacent ally

The brother with the scar, and the more offensive of the brothers. Mogun deals more damage but takes more back in return. Otherwise, he's identical to his brother. I recommend picking one, depending on your style of play, and ignoring the other.

Yrsa

Class: Siege Archer

Range: 5

Passive Ability: Puncture - Bonus damage to targets who have lost Armor if the archer has not moved

Special Ability: Slag and Burn - Arrow explodes across five squares in a cross shape, leaving two lit areas that deal 2 Strength damage if crossed

Weak though her attacks may be, I like Yrsa. Slag and Burn hits a fair number of squares, and if you keep Yrsa penned behind your varl she can really whittle down Strength scores amongst the opposition. She is very fragile, though, and I haven't found her normal Strength attack to be that great. Nevertheless, she can be quite handy in the many Wars of Chapter Three.

Nid

Class: Bowmaster

Range: 5

Passive Ability: Puncture - Bonus damage to targets who have lost Armor if the archer has not moved

Special Ability: Bird of Prey - Perfect accuracy with a range of up to seven tiles

Nid's a great archer. Though she doesn't seem to hit quite as hard as Rook, Alette or Oddleif, the extra range afforded by Bird of Prey allows her to snipe enemies long before they can reach her. Nid's also great for picking off those stupid beefy dredge that run away and try to summon reinforcements when they're weakened. The only major downside to Nid is her late appearance in Chapter Six, at which point you won't have a ton of chances to bump her up to fifth rank before the final battle.

Varl

The big dudes. Varl take up four squares, but can't move any further than humans. Varl on average have a higher starting Strength and Armor score than humans, but they have less Willpower and Exertion.

Iver

Class:

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Heavy Impact - Enemies adjacent to Iver's targets take 1 Strength damage

Special Ability: Battering Ram - Knock an adjacent unit up to four tiles away, dealing 1 Armor damage plus 1 additional for each unit the target passes through on the way

The maaaan. Iver's big, Iver can take a lot of hits, Iver can chew up Armor like there's no tomorrow, Iver is just great. If it weren't for his somewhat lackluster ability Iver would be top tier, as Battering Ram is typically worse than just doing normal damage. The main reason to use it would be crowd control, and there are better ways of achieving this than Battering Ram. Still, Iver will probably be a mainstay in your party until at least Chapter Six, and he's a good match for Bellower in the final battle. (And no, his little 'accident' partway through the game doesn't change his stats at all.)

Hakon

Class: Warmaster

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Heavy Impact - Enemies adjacent to Hakon's targets take 1 Strength damage

Special Ability: Sundering Impact - Perfect accuracy, +1 Strength, +1 Armor Break, +1 to Heavy Impact

The protagonist of the third chapter and a constant fixture in the story, Hakon is a pretty great hero. Though he starts out a little fragile, he has offensive capabilities that put other varl to shame. His normal Strength attack is often enough to OHKO lighter opponents, and once Armor has been whittled down he's great at taking out heavier dredge as well. Sundering Impact is a fantastic ability for solo encounters, though it's not so great as a first strike ove against heavier dredge. Though he doesn't show up that often in The Banner Saga, Hakon's still worth promoting at least once or twice to boost his Armor.

Mogr

Class: Shieldmaster

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Return the Favor - Getting hit triggers a counter attack dealing 1 Armor damage

Special Ability: Bring the Pain - Deals Armor Break damage to the target and +1 to Return the Favor for one round

Mogr is one of the best defensive units in the game. His Armor starts out nice and high, and any enemies hitting him will have to deal with Return the Favor, which saps one Armor from the attacker. Add Bring the Pain onto that and he'll be dealing a ton of Armor Break damage each round. There's not a whole lot to say about him offensively, but that's not the role he should be playing anyway. Stick your archers behind him and have fun.

Krumr

Class: Warleader

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Heavy Impact - Enemies adjacent to Krumr's targets take 1 Strength damage

Special Ability: Forge Ahead - Move one adjacent ally to the top of the initiative order

Krumr is great. Filling a similar niche as Hakon, he can deal amazing amounts of Strength damage without having to chew up much enemy Armor. He's also a little tougher than Hakon, and can sit in the front lines with your defensive characters without suffering too much. That said, It's Forge Ahead which really allows Krumr to shine, as he can change the battle order and allow your stronger units (say, perhaps, Rook?) to get in two turns a round, rather than one. Well worth training overall.

Fasolt

Class: Provoker

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Return the Favor - Getting hit triggers a counter attack dealing 1 Armor damage

Special Ability: Malice - Force an enemy unit to attack Fasolt on their next turn

On paper, Fasolt is pretty fantastic. He's a teensy bit better defensively than even Mogr, and his Malice special ability can allow you to manipulate the more dangerous enemies in a scrap. He would be a shoo-in for a party... except that he leaves the party at Einartoft, one way or another. Temporary characters just aren't worth the bother, y'know?

(It is possible to get Fasolt in your party for at least the duration of Chapter Six, though I think this might be a mistake on Stoic's part. Check out the recruitment walkthrough for details on how to make it happen.)

Gunnulf

Class: Warhawk

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Heavy Impact - Enemies adjacent to Gunnulf's targets take 1 Strength damage

Special Ability: Tempest - Normal Strength damage to two adjacent enemies, chosen clockwise

Talk about a glass cannon. Gunnulf is one of three Warhawks in the game, and you'll get to use him most by far. He hits extremely hard, has a good movement range despite not being able to use Willpower to extend himself at first, and Tempest is fantastic at sweeping weaker enemies whose Armor has been whittled down. Problem is, Gunnulf has a tendency to get picked apart in a hurry, as you need to get nice and close (as well as surrounded) for Tempest to work. Unlike most varl units I recommend keeping Gunnulf away from frontline action until your other units have had a chance to soften up the opposition a little.

Bersi

Class: Warhawk

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Heavy Impact - Enemies adjacent to Bersi's targets take 1 Strength damage

Special Ability: Tempest - Normal Strength damage to two adjacent enemies, chosen clockwise

Hey, look, a Gunnulf clone. Bersi's pretty close to being on par with Gunnulf, but he doesn't get nearly as much screen time. I found him a bit hardier, with a bit less damage output. You'll use him in Chapter Three, aaaaaand that's about all. If Gunnulf lived, just stick with him.

Griss

Class: Strongarm

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Return the Favor - Getting hit triggers a counter attack dealing 1 Armor damage

Special Ability: Battering Ram - Knock an adjacent unit up to four tiles away, dealing 1 Armor damage plus 1 additional for each unit the target passes through on the way

Ooooo, an Iver and Mogr combo. Griss is quite handy, considering he's strictly a side character, and is equal parts offensive and defensive. You can develop in either direction to gain a capable, though perhaps not outstanding, unit. He is worse than both of his component varl in their respective roles, though, and so Gris probably won't get a ton of use. (Doesn't help that his appearances in the story are few. Oh well.)

Sigbjorn

Class: Warhawk

Range: 1

Passive Ability: Heavy Impact - Enemies adjacent to Sigbjorn's targets take 1 Strength damage

Special Ability: Tempest - Normal Strength damage to two adjacent enemies, chosen clockwise

Hey, look, another Gunnulf clone. Sigbjorn is nice and tough, and starting out at rank five is fantastic, but you'll have him for one battle before he leaves. (On the plus side he does carry a Scarlet Feather, and if you help him recover from his hangover you'll receive Bjorulf's Blessing. Steal one and acquire the other before he takes off.)

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    • profile image

      Charlie 3 years ago

      Hey, your description of Heavy impact always mentions Krumr regardless of character. :)

    • profile image

      Charlie 3 years ago

      I don't know if it was just in my case, but once I leveled up Nid, she had 11 stat points. Likely to be a bug, but it allows maxing her out and making her a super destructive archer with tons of will.

    • MattWritesStuff profile image
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      Matt Bird 3 years ago from Canada

      ... I may have copied and pasted...

      And thanks for noting that. I'm giving the game one more pass today; I'll max her out and see how many points she gets.

    • profile image

      Charlie 3 years ago

      Hakon, Bersi, Sigbjorn. :)

    • MattWritesStuff profile image
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      Matt Bird 3 years ago from Canada

      DANGIT

    • MattWritesStuff profile image
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      Matt Bird 3 years ago from Canada

      Yep, my Nid got the massive boost too. I doubt that glitch'll be around for long. Fun thing to note for now, though.

    • MattWritesStuff profile image
      Author

      Matt Bird 3 years ago from Canada

      FFFFFFFF

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