The much awaited Kickstarter from Stoic Games and MegaCon Games for The Banner Saga: Warbands finally launched yesterday.
It has already been fully funded.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't still check out the game. MegaCon Games looks to faithfully recreate the experience of leading all these varying tribes and personalities through the obstacles and people they encounter along their long journey. Warbands has you and 3 other players taking on the roles of either the Quartermaster, Keeper of Names, Warmaster, or Thane. Each Bannerman has unique abilities and a specific role to play in the party. The task at hand is to get from one location on the game board to another, with different points along the path that make you adapt and react to different circumstances, while also keeping track of supplies and food for your party.
For example, in the video below, the Warband encounters a group of refugees. The Bannermen have to then decide between themselves from a selection of 3 choices what to do when they ask for assistance. If they feed them and let them go their own way, the Warband loses resources, food, and possibly renown (i.e victory points). They have to have a certain amount of renown left once they reach their goal location to win the game. They could ignore them, but who knows what will happen then, or they could let them join the group. All of these can result in different challenges or rewards for the party, and this type of back and forth debate and decision making is what makes up the core of the experience.
The game does have its share of combat though, and that is done on a separate skirmish game board. Skirmish perfectly describes what these are. This isn't trying to be Warmachine, or even something like Arcadia Quest. The battles take place on a smaller board, and don't include any dice. You have all of your Bannermen as well as any followers you have purchased or picked up along the way (each one costs renown of some amount). Each person on the board has a rank of bronze, silver, or gold, and can also have a shield to help block attacks. You move along a square grid, and there is no line of sight mechanic. If you can see it and it is in your range, you can attack. Bronze attacking a bronze would kill it instantly. Bronze attacking a silver would reduce that unit down to bronze, and it is the same procedure with gold. Adding a shield can basically block a hit without losing a rank. This streamlining allows the combat to move fluidly and quickly, and helps the game get back to the long, winding road trip that the game essentially is. There are still unique abilities and tactical moves in play, but that is the simple gist of it.
The focus isn't lost because combat isn't the prevalent mechanic here, just part of a larger whole, which has me excited to try the game out. It won't fully release until August of next year. In the meantime, you can head to their Kickstarter page for more information about the game.