Banner Saga Wiki

This article contains a list with the most common terms used in the turn-based combat system of The Banner Saga. Most of the terms apply for The Banner Saga 2, while some might not appear in the previous games (e.g. Factions does not have Critical hit mechanic).

Ability[ | ]

Abilities are 'special' actions that happen during combat, that transcend the regular Move/Attack/Rest actions. There are active and passive abilities.

  • Active: Each unit belonging to a promoted class has one or multiple active abilities whose potency is measured by their rank (ability rank scales with unit rank). Active abilities of rank-1, -2,- 3 require 1, 2 or 3 Willpower points to be activated. Active abilities are typically beneficial for the unit and/or his team, and can be offensive, defensive or supportive. However, there are active abilities that can harm ally units as well as enemies (e.g. Tempest or Slag and Burn).
  • Passive: Units belonging to almost all classes (with a few notable exceptions) have a passive ability that alters some battle-related aspect (e.g. Stats) and is "always on", i.e. it does not require an action to be activated. Most passive abilities are beneficial, but there are also negative ones.

A list of all Abilities currently in the game, can he found here.

Absorb[ | ]

Certain abilities can help units negate incoming Strength damage, sometimes by transferring it to another stat. For example, Folka's passive ability (Shield Mastery), absorbs STR damage onto her ARM, until depleted.

Acting Unit[ | ]

Is the unit whose Turn to act is up, as measured in the main Queue.

Adjacent[ | ]

Tile or Unit being at a Distance (Range) of 1 tile, as measured from any of the tiles occupied by the reference Entity (unit).

Aggro[ | ]

Stands for "Aggression" and is a measure of how likely is a human-player controlled unit to be attacked by a computer-controlled (Artificial Intelligence, AI) unit. Positive/Negative Aggro means that the unit is more/less likely to be attacked.

Ally[ | ]

Ally (or Friendly) refers to a unit belonging to the same Team as the reference unit. Opposite team units are called Enemies.

Attack[ | ]

Attack is one of the three fundamental actions that can be performed by the Acting Unit during its Turn. Attacks can be targeted at an Enemy unit's Strength or Armor, damaging them. Valid Targets for attack are enemies (you cannot attack Allies!) that are within the attack-Range of the Acting Unit.

Board[ | ]

The Board (also referred to as Map or Grid) is where the turn-based Battles are fought. Boards in The Banner Saga are made up of square Tiles, approximately 16x16 of them, and can also contain Blockers (tiles that are 'unwalkable'). Movement between Adjacent tiles is allowed if no unit (or Blocker) occupies that tile. Units that occupy 2x2 tiles (like Varl), need both adjacent-tiles to be vacant in order to take one step in the direction of movement. Finally, note that there is no "line-of-sight" (LOS) mechanic for ranged attacks.

Blocker[ | ]

A Blocker (or Obstacle) is any tile, or set of tiles, that cannot be traversed during a Unit's Movement phase. However, certain active abilities can move Units through Blockers, for example Battering Ram. In the second part of The Banner Saga, Destructible Blockers were also introduced.

Buff/Debuff[ | ]

A buff/debuff is a positive/negative effect that is applied to a unit or a tile and usually lasts for one Round. These effects are typically "created" by active Abilities; an icon is displayed atop the portrait of the unit that "created" the effect or the unit that is "affected" from it. Buff/Debuffs have white/red colored icons, respectively. Usually, when the unit that created the buff/debuff is killed (knocked out), the effect is removed from the battle (units or tiles).

Class[ | ]

Is a group whose members (called units) share a common set of attributes, like: size, movement/attack range, active/passive abilities. There are base- and promoted-classes; a unit can belong in only one of each, "inheriting" their class-specific attributes.

Critical[ | ]

Often abbreviated to Crit or CRIT. Certain Items, Abilities and Talents give a unit the chance to cause a 'Critical' hit, that causes double (2X) the Strength damage it normally would; any Willpower added by Exertion or ability bonuses are also doubled. This property triggers 'per-attack', so for example a Rank-1 Tempest might cause a Crit on one target, but not the other. All attacks, including those from passive abilities (like Heavy Impact) are valid for Crit. Finally, all Crit modifiers from different sources 'stack', thus leading a higher chance for double damage.

Damage[ | ]

Reduction of a Stat of a unit, especially its Strength or Armor; in the latter case it is referred to as 'Break' damage. Certain abilities can also damage Willpower, e.g. those of the Warped Dredge.

Deflect[ | ]

Deflection (or Miss) is when an attack on an enemy's Strength fails to do Damage, usually due to the target's Armor being higher that the attacker's Strength. Attacks on enemy's Armor (Break attacks) never miss, but can be Diverted by certain Items or Talents. This property is RNG-governed.

Deployment[ | ]

A phase of the Battle, where the human player positions his/her units on any of the designated deployment zones of the Board, marked by blue tiles.

Difficulty[ | ]

A setting of the single-player game affecting the challenge offered by the enemy/AI-controlled team, during Battles. There are three difficulty settings: Easy, Normal and Hard. Higher difficulties usually result in battles against more numerous and/or stronger (higher Stats) enemies.

Distance[ | ]

Distances in the square-tile boards used in the game are measured by the number of Tiles that need be traversed (i.e. steps) for two units to coincide. So, Adjacent tiles are at a distance of 1; in the same spirit, melee attack range is when the attacker and target are in adjacent tiles. Regular ranged attacks can be made up to a distance of 5 tiles, i.e. there would be four tiles/steps between the attacker and the target. When any of the tiles occupied by a 2x2 unit (e.g. Varl) is "in-range", then the unit is "in-range".

Divert[ | ]

When an incoming Armor Break attack is evaded, i.e. it does not cause any damage. This property is granted by magical Items and Talents, and is RNG-governed.

Dodge[ | ]

When an incoming Strength attack is evaded, i.e. it does not cause any damage. This property is granted by magical Items and Talents, and is RNG-governed.

Enemy[ | ]

Enemy (or Foe) refers to a unit belonging to the opposite Team (or player) from the reference unit. Units of the same team are called Allies.

Entity[ | ]

Anything that is attached on Tiles of the Board during a Battle, e.g. Units, Blockers, Traps, Burning Coals etc. Some Entities (e.g. Traps) can leave the Tiles they occupy 'unoccupied/walkable' while others (e.g. Units) make them Blockers, 'occupied/unwalkable'.

Hero[ | ]

The Units controlled by the human player Team in combat. Lists of available heroes can be found here.

Hit-Chance[ | ]

When attempting a Strength attack, and the attacker's Strength is lower than the targets Armor, there is a chance that the attack might be Deflected, i.e. it does not cause any damage. Hit-chance is 100% (Miss-chance is 0%) when STR ≥ ARM and decreases by 10% for each point of difference, down to the lowest value of 20%. Various Active Abilities have a 100% to-hit chance and this attribute can also be granted by some Items, e.g. the Eyeless Rift. Finally, note that attacks on enemy's Armor (Break attacks) never miss, unless the enemy has a Divert attribute.

Horn[ | ]

A greater magical item, displayed in the top of the screen/HUD. Each time an enemy unit is knocked out the Horn is fueled with one point of Willpower, up to a maximum of 5. Any number of this stored Willpowered can be drawn by an ally unit during its acting turn.

Injury[ | ]

When a Hero is knocked out during a Battle, an injury is suffered. Injured units need to spend time (days) resting to recover their health. Otherwise, they suffer a Strength penalty right from the beginning of the fight they are selected for. The Strength penalty is equal to the number of days required to recover, and is increased for higher difficulty settings.

Item[ | ]

Units (usually Heroes) can be equipped with up to one Item that grants them special attributes during combat, e.g. bonus to Stats or Critical hit chance.

  • Lists of Items can be found here.

Kill[ | ]

Also known as Knock-out (KO). When a unit's Strength falls to zero (or lower), the unit falls down unconscious, is removed from the battle's Turn-Queue and cannot participate in the battle. The tile occupied by its body counts as unoccupied for movement/placement purposes. Heroes are not permanently killed when knocked out during combat, instead becoming injured until the caravan stops allows them time to rest (except in the Banner Saga 2's Survival Mode, where heroes may die in combat). Killing enemy units grants Renown, fuels the Horn and is the prime prerequisite for Promoting your units.

Knockback[ | ]

A special type of movement, by 1-5 tiles (0-4 spaces) in a straight line, against a unit's will. This is either the result of an active Ability (e.g. Battering Ram, Guts, Kindle, Impale etc) or an effect granted by a magical item. Some examples:

  • Battering Ram ability can push the target unit, friend or foe, through other units (or obstacles) causing 1 Break to the target's Armor per unit (or obstacle).
  • Mule Kick ability can push the target through other units but they take Strength damage from that impact.
  • Knockback caused by Items, or Kindle, pushes units back up to 4 tiles (3 spaces), but not through other units.

Knockout[ | ]

See Kill.

Melee[ | ]

Refers to the Range (Distance) of 1 tile, i.e. when units occupy a pair of Adjacent tiles.

Miss[ | ]

See Deflect.

Movement[ | ]

One of the three fundamental actions performed by the Acting Unit. A unit's movement phase in The Banner Saga games always happens before it attacks or uses an active ability. In order to move a unit to specified Tile or the Board, that tile must be 'in-Range', also accounting for any blocked/occupied tiles.

On Rest[ | ]

Regain extra points of lost Willpower and/or Armor, provided that a unit Rests for this Round, i.e. ends its current Turn without moving, attacking or using abilities. This power is granted by Items.

Party[ | ]

The group of units (Heroes) the player can bring to a battle. It can contain 1-6 units.

Per Kill[ | ]

Certain Items grant the power to regain extra points of lost Willpower for each enemy unit Killed. The WIL gained goes to the Unit, in addition to that added to the Horn

Per Turn[ | ]

Modifiers applied (or actions performed) at the start or ending of a unit's Turn. For example, see Regeneration.

  • 'Per Turn' bonuses granted by Items are applied at the end of the unit's Turn.

Pillage[ | ]

A special Turn-Queue mode entered when the second-last unit of one team is knocked out. In Pillage mode, the lone unit acts once and then all the enemy units act successively (in a row), before the turn is given back to the lone unit. Example:

** Team A has one unit: [A2]
** Team B has three units: [B3,B1,B2]
>> Assuming that Team B just killed the second last unit of Team A, the battle's Pillage Queue will be: [A2,B3,B1,B2,A2,B3,B1,B2,...]
  • Some abilities, like Forge Ahead, Tremble or Enraged, can slightly disrupt Pillage turn-queuing, while Call to Arms can bring the battle to Pillage when more than one enemy units are alive.
  • If a Team starts a fight with only one unit, then Pillage mode is not available.
  • Battles in the Survival Mode are 'Pillage-locked'.

Protected[ | ]

Also known as Kill Stop or Defy (Death). Some units (e.g. Bellower) can not be knocked out by regular Strength attacks. When a unit is "Protected", its Strength will not drop to zero unless a special ability is used. A lesser power of the same type can be granted by certain Items and Talents:

  • A unit equipped with the Ring of the Wolf can avoid a killing blow unless its Strength is equal to 1; in this case, the unit's Strength is reduced to 1 which means means that the next blow will be fatal.
  • A unit with the Defy Talent has a chance to avoid any killing blow.

Queue[ | ]

Also referred to as Initiative (Order). A list containing all units still alive, defining the order in which they will get a Turn during the battle. The unit in the front (left end) of the Queue, as displayed in the HUD, is the Acting Unit; after it completes its turn, it is moved to the back (right end) of the Queue. In regular battles, each of the two Teams keeps its own sub-Queue, while the two teams Alternate in the battle's main Queue. For example:

** Team A has two units in its sub-Queue: [A1,A2]
** Team B has three units in its sub-Queue: [B2,B3,B1]
>> Assuming it is Team A turn, the battle's main Queue will be: [A1,B2,A2,B3,A1,B1,...]

Range[ | ]

Might refer to Ability (Cast), Attack or Movement range. Range has min and max limits. See also: Distance.

  • Ability (Cast) range: Is the Distance (in tiles), measured from the caster, that contains the valid Target units or tiles for an Ability. For example, Bird of Prey has a min range of 2 tiles and a max range of 7 tiles (at Rank 1).
  • Attack range: Is the Distance (in tiles), measured from the reference unit, that contains the valid Target enemy units. For example, Melee attack range is 1 tile (Adjacent), while Archers have a min/max range of 2-5 tiles.
  • Movement range: How far a unit can move, with or without Exertion. Typical unit movement ranges are 3-4 tiles. In contrast to how the previous two ranges are measured, movement between Adjacent Tiles is only allowed if no unit (or Blocker) occupies that tile. This means that Movement range can be reduced (even zeroed) by blockers, while Attack and Ability ranges are not affected.

Rank[ | ]

Rank (or Level) measures the 'power' of several different things: Units (Heroes and Enemies), Items, active Abilities and Talents. The higher the Rank the stronger the 'power'.

Regeneration[ | ]

Regain stat-points of lost Armor, Strength and/or Willpower, happening at the beginning or ending of a unit's Turn. This power is granted by certain special active Abilities, Items and Talents.

  • Regeneration by Items happens at the end of a unit's Turn.

Resist[ | ]

Certain Abilities, Items and Talents help units 'negate' a portion of incoming damage to Strength and/or Armor. For example, the Raidmaster's Rank-1 Stonewall ability Resists up to 3 STR or 3 ARM damage, per attack.

Rest[ | ]

One of the fundamental actions performed by the acting unit. A unit may only Rest in the beginning of its Turn to Regenerate 1 Willpower point. Resting after moving does not Regenerate WIL and is referred to as End Turn.

RNG[ | ]

Stands for "Random Number Generator" and is used to decide if a random event will take place (proc) or not. RNG governs several secondary features of turn-based combat in The Banner Saga, granted by Items or Abilities, for example: Critical, Dodge, Divert and Deflect chance.

Round[ | ]

The time interval between two Turns of the same unit, measured in slots of the main Queue. Most persistent ability effects (buffs or debuffs) last for one Round, meaning that they are initiated at the end of a unit's Turn and expire on the beginning of its next Turn.

Roster[ | ]

The group of all units and Heroes available to the player for Battles. Also referred to as Barracks.

Size[ | ]

A fundamental attribute of Entities (e.g. Units or Blockers) of the Board, referring to the number and arrangement of Tiles occupied. For instance, Units can have a size of 1x1, 2x2 or 1x2/2x1 tiles.

Skip[ | ]

A situation where the Acting Unit is forced to perform a set of actions during its Turn and, specifically, when it is unable to attack or use an ability. This is usually a result of some special attack or passive ability. For example, if a Maliced enemy unit cannot reach the Provoker, it might move but it will not attack. AI controlled Dredge Gloomwardens display the same behavior when a Stonesinger is attacked.

Stats[ | ]

Integer values referring to a unit's:

Stats have base (starting, min) and max value-ranges. Sometimes Rank is also included in the Stats.

Stun[ | ]

A special, and particularly nasty, debuff where a Unit forfeits its next Turn, unable to act (move, attack or use ability). Note that the Stunned Unit does not regenerate Willpower, as in Rest action. Abilities with the Stun effect include Quake and Despair and Mule Kick.

  • See also: Skip Turn.

Talents[ | ]

Special attributes only accessed by high-Rank Heroes. See main article for details.

Target[ | ]

Refers to a Unit or Tile that is the 'subject' of an Attack or an Ability. Certain abilities have multiple target Units or Tiles. Valid Targets are those that are "in-Range" (see also: Distance).

Team[ | ]

Battles in The Banner Saga are against two teams, marked with blue ([[Ally|allies) and red (enemies). The units of the "blue" team are controlled by the human-player (you) and the units of the "red" team are controlled by the game's AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Tile[ | ]

The fundamental 'pieces' that make up the battle Boards. One tile can contain one 1x1-sized Entity, e.g. a unit or a blocker. Tiles are used to measure units' Sizes, Distances between two units or tiles and Attack/Ability Ranges.

Turn[ | ]

The fundamental unit of abstracted time in turn-based games. All units in the Queue get Turns in the battle, during which they can perform some (or all) of them following "actions", in due order:

  1. Rest (ends Turn)
  2. Blow the Horn
  3. Move
  4. Blow the Horn (again)
  5. Attack or Use Active Ability (ends Turn)
  6. Move again (only available to specific units)

Unit[ | ]

The fundamental board Entity that can act during the battle, i.e. that gets a place in Turn-Queue and thus access to "actions". A unit needs to have the following attributes: {Size, Attack-range, Movement-range, Stats, Attack and Rest "actions"}, while it can also have any number of passive and/or active Abilities.

  • Tiles occupied by Units are considered as Blockers ('unwalkable') by other units, allies and enemies. Exceptions hold for some active abilities, e.g. Light Step.
  • See also: Class.

Waypoint[ | ]

An intermediate tile traversed by a human-player controlled unit during its movement phase, before reaching its final destination. Waypoints are typically used to avoid board hazards, like traps or burning coals.

  • The game's pathfinder prioritizes the SW-NE axis over the SE-NW one. This can be used to predict the AI movements when placing traps.