The Banner Saga 2, the bloody and beautiful sequel to the 2014 cult hit, is a challenging game. Not only does it test your patience and leadership skills outside of battle, but it consistently tests your mettle in the heat of its tense combat. When forging across the continent to escape the Dredge, there isn't much that can help you outside of trusting your gut. In combat, though, there are a couple of tips that can help keep the fight in your favor.
1. Balance Is Key
It may be possible to brute force your way to victory during some of the early battles in Banner Saga 2, but as more dangerous enemy types and more restrictive scenarios present themselves, a dynamic set of tactical options will be necessary. This can be as simple as diversifying your party roles - adding a good mix of Varl, warriors, and archers. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Each of your characters have unique abilities outside of standard attack functions. Yrsa and Oddleif are both ranged attackers, but Yrsa's Slag and Burn ability has a completely different utility than Oddleif's Rain of Arrows. Warriors with a shield, like Mogun and Hogun, have more defensive capability than ones with spears, like Folka or Tryggvi, who have longer melee ranges.
2. Play to Your Passives
Along the same lines, each of your character classes host individual passive abilities that shouldn't be ignored. Almost every Archer has Puncture, for example, which adds strength to their attack based on the armor lost from their target - so long as they stand still. When Spearmen like Tryg kill someone and gain a point of Willpower, adjacent allies will also gain a point of Willpower thanks to Embolden.
3. Rook Is the Leader We Deserve
I shy away from claiming that there are any "auto includes" in any given Banner Saga 2 party. With character life expectancy being so uncertain, it's hard to say that you always should focus time, reknown, and artifacts on someone who could really just disappear with one wrong choice. That said, players with Rook as their leader have what may be the best offensive option in the game at their disposal.
Alette's narrative journey is arguably stronger in the sequel than her father's, but in battle, she is basically just another archer. Thread the Needle is a cool little ability that hits every enemy in a straight line doing regular damage (plus Puncture) and doing bonus armor damage to all targets. But it doesn't really compare to Rook's Mark Prey. Outside of doing armor break damage on hit, every ally in range makes an instantaneous attack against his marked prey. With careful positioning, you can put 5 attacks on a creature out of turn, not including the moves and attacks your party has taken during their normal phases. He meshes very well with a pair of archers in his party, simply because they're generally easy to position and can do heavy damage without being put at risk. Coupled with his passive, Light Step, which allows him to move through spaces occupied by friendlies, he makes the perfect 6th man, swooping in to put the icing on the death cake.
4. Covet Artifacts
The only equipment present in Banner Saga 2 are the artifacts you can buy/stumble upon during play. Every character can equip one of these items, though they must meet a minimum level requirement to do so. Every artifact grants bonuses in some way, shape, or form. Some are just stat boosts, like Warrior's Oath. Some have altering effects to combat, like Sun Stone.
Buying them in the markets at stops on your journey is a way to acquire artifacts, but they cost renown, and there are better ways to spend renown, frankly. Stopping at Godstones almost always has a chance to net you an artifact, so be open-minded when approaching one. Generally speaking, artifacts with a focus on boosting armor, strength, or effectiveness in melee (in ways that aren't directly boosting stats) should be prioritized to Varl, who are melee-centric.
Do not be afraid to use Willpower. The resource, though finite, is the tide turner in battles that helps you leverage certain tactical options in your favor. Besides being the fuel source for your active abilities, Willpower also allows you to move farther than normal and hit harder than expected. Never hesitate to do any of those things if you feel you can, because the longer a battle goes on, the more dangerous it becomes for your units. Taking strength damages puts your life at risk, but it also greatly hampers your damage output, making it difficult to land those killing blows in a timely manner. If you make your first attack the hardest it can be, since you'll probably not have taken any damage at this point, you can make the most out of your advantage early and hopefully keep the momentum for the length of the battle.
Victory can be fleeting in the cold, unflinching world of The Banner Saga 2. With some good advice, though, achieving it is that much more possible. Tips come by way of information scrounged up from the Official Banner Saga Wiki, which you should visit and contribute your findings to. And let us know if these worked for you on Twitter and Facebook!
Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.