My Assassin's Creed Valhalla journal

(Disclaimer: I’m into my second (and final) game now, with a fresh skills tree, so I’m not going to remember the names of all these skills.)

Thus far the only melee abilities I’ve gotten any mileage out of are the the multiple-axes one (Berserker Axe?) and Valkyrie Stomp. The former is a great safety valve and panic button, capable of clearing the battlefield without having to target anyone in particular. Large-scale fights can get messy in a big hurry, and it’s always good to have a dependable fire-and-forget assault in the arsenal. Valkyrie Stomp just plain kicks butt. It locks on, it does a ton of damage, often stuns or knocks down the foe, and it can’t be interrupted by anything. I find that last point extremely important as I find my other melee abilities getting interrupted all the time. It doesn’t matter how powerful a strike is if you can’t complete it! I have considered using others, but I’ve been hard-pressed to find anything I can get any mileage out of. I stress again that in this game’s fast-paced combat, your foes will not sit still and wait for you to set up the perfect attack. If you have any stories about how you saved the day with a rush-'n-grab or a harpoon toss, feel free to share, but I’ll stick with what actually works for me.

Bow abilities, eh, take 'em or leave 'em. I’ve found that poison works the best, although as mentioned earlier you shouldn’t use if you risk any collateral damage. The flurry of arrows ability might work wonders against real toughies like Zealots, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Skills. I’ll have more to say later, but in brief: The two you absolutely must get first are Stomp and Backstab. In the early going, the key to winning battles, especially raids, is kill them quickly. Stomp is a great all-purpose finisher, and when enemies are fighting one of fellow raiders, Backstab can rack up casualties in no time. There’s one where you gain a health boost after each kill and one where parries can damage your enemies; get them ASAP. The running attack one is a great secondary skill, especially when enemies are spaced out. Auto-loot is very nice to have for those large engagements, which become more enemy-rich (and chaotic) the further you progress, and the one which loots arrow kills is great as well. Dual Wield is a must in the later game and against the really painful foes like the Daughters of Lerion. In general, favor the Bear path, and once you have some fights under your belt, split the remainder between Wolf and Raven based on what you think your needs are (I favored Wolf the first game, but there may be benefits to Raven I haven’t discovered.)

Chain Assassination…ehhh…it’s a handy skill, no doubt, but not something that’s going to make a major difference, unlike enhanced parries or Backstab. The problem is that if you’re in sight of the second target, your cover is blown even if you assassinate him. (Cool visual, though! :slightly_smiling_face:) As for Advanced Assassination, I can’t say anything about that since I’m not playing at a level where there’s any chance an assassination won’t instantly kill someone. (That may be also why I favor Wolf over Raven, come to think of it.)

Yeah, I like the Dive of the Valkyrie. It generally leaves the enemy open to a follow up Stomp.

I don’t know that I’ve ever got Backstab to work properly, unless it’s happened in the mess of a fight and I haven’t noticed. When I’m fighting one on one with a tougher enemy, I don’t seem to be able to get behind them for a Backstab.

I’m surprised you can always assassinate your targets, I regularly have foes who will only give a “Stealth Attack” prompt rather than an “Assassinate” one. Do you have the guaranteed assassination turned on in settings?

With Chain Assassination you can kill two, or three if you take one out with a bow before the first assassination, and then go back to the shadows. It makes it a lot easier to get around doing the initial softening-up of an area undetected. It doesn’t matter that the second target detects you, once they’ve gone you will go back to your undetected state.

I’ve been mostly going with Raven abilities. It’s nice that you can respec with no cost.

[Full disclosure: Yes, I have assassination-is-always-instant-kill on. It’s pretty simple - the game offers me a taste of power, I take it. Modern games are frustrating enough as it is, I’m not going to add to it.]

Second game is going swimmingly. I just never realized how much work it is completely clearing out even a low-level region like Ledecesterscire or Grantbridgescire. There are mountains of treasure to be had (you’ll never have to drop a coin on leather or runes), and being thorough in your nonviolent a-vikingr endeavors can be highly beneficial down the road. Also, there are advantages to visiting and thoroughly looting a place before you have to do it in a story mission. Not only do you get a lay of the land, you often make things easier for the mission, either by taking out foes or eliminating distractions. In the early story raid in Norway, since I’d already nabbed the supplies in my explorations, literally all I had to do was go there and it immediately triggered the success cutscene. I’ve had two world events which normally require protecting someone from a force of bandits, but in both cases since I’d already run into and carved up the bandits, both escapades ended without a drop of blood spilled.

On to East Anglia, which promises plenty of fun times (Ooh, I want a boat cat! :grin:). I’ll probably spend less time on optional tasks once I get to the level 90 areas, since there are three of them and I’m going to be running into the +51 roadblock sooner rather than later. But I’m definitely going to finish them up once I get to the really tough nuts.

One last word on world events: The correct course of action is the one where you get 1,200 experience; everything else is up to your conscience. Sometimes there’s more than one correct path, or more than one result of the correct path. A perfect example of the latter is the girl staring at the single leaf on the tree. The gist of it is that the family farm is failing, so her father went to a distant land to find work, promising that he’d return before all the leaves fell from their tree; it’s been six weeks since, there’s been no word from him, and now there’s only one leaf remaining. Now the girl does nothing but stare at the leaf and beg for it not to fall. Obviously the resolution is to shoot the leaf to make it fall and allow the girl to go on with her life, HOWEVER!!…okay, I admit I’m not 100% sure of this because I messed up my manual save somehow and was unable to try it again…if she sees you shoot the leaf, she gets angry and shouts at you to get lost, while if she thinks the leaf fell on its own, she sobs a bit but then finally accepts that her father isn’t returning. Either way it’s counted as a success and you get the experience, so the only quandary here is whether you feel an obligation to let her down gently. If I’m being perfectly honest, teaching her that life is hard sometimes, people can be capricious and heartless, and nature doesn’t give a rip in any case…all lessons she has to learn now that she’s on her own…is a perfectly acceptable outcome, which is why I never bothered hunting for the right autosave to do it over. There is another one where you make an offering of 200 silver (which gives you the same reward as any other offering), discover it’s a ruse by two sundered children, and can either give them another 65 silver or wish them the best and give nothing. (There’s also a “give them food” option, but I don’t know how you do that.) Either is fine, but only one counts as a success. (In general, it’s always a good idea to be nice to children in this game.) In an early event, I ran into an angry dispute between an irate hunter and a warlock. The former was an irascible finger-pointer, the latter a creepy weirdo. They immediately began fighting to the death, and I had to decide whether to help the hunter, help the warlock, or stand back and let nature take its course. I helped the hunter. Was it the right decision? Who the heck knows? Seriously, I have no idea as there are zero repercussions for this battle however it ends. I just took my 1,200 points and carried on, as should you. Bottom line, don’t sweat morality, just get it done and move on to more important things.

A bit more on abilities. Again, on the melee end, Throwing Axe Fury for crowd control and getting out of jams, Dive of the Valkyrie for those tough nuts. I’ve been unable to get any mileage out of anything else. In particular, anything where I have to run into the enemy is pretty much guaranteed to end in dismal failure. Ranged has more decent options. Incendiary Power Trap is great for when enemies are bunched up. I was able to take out Tonna and her two guard with a single shot with this…highly satisfying being able to take out that punk before she could shoot her mouth off any more! :slightly_smiling_face: I’ll see whether Thorn of Slumber or Ranged Poison Strike is better for a single enemy with a lot of health; I’m leaning toward the latter. I haven’t found a good opportunity for Mark of Death yet, as it requires multiple enemies in the open from a single spot. Piercing Shot is fairly handy but IMO not worth a whole adrenaline slot. In my experience, fancy trick shots aren’t as effective as good old-fashioned lethality, so I’ll stick with the fire and poison enhancements for now.

Skills! Stomp is a must and should always be your first no matter what. I’d go with Parry Damage for the second. Sprint Attack is great to have, but it’s down the Wolf path after the relatively useless Stealth Recon, so I’d save it for later. Backstab is really good for the early battles, but in the beginning there are so many other things you want that you’ll probably end up sacrificing it, possibly repeatedly. Get Chain Assassination and Auto-Loot once your fighting skills are up to speed; they’ll make life a lot more pleasant. Save Heavy Dual Wield for until you have a good, sturdy shield and a strong two-hander, like the Sepulcher Axe (my current workhorse), but definitely get it, preferably no later than your first level 90 region. I’ve changed my position on Danish Axes; they’re a perfectly fine all-purpose weapon if you don’t have two spears (and you won’t for quite a while). Perfect Strike will help you a lot in melees, and just for a bit of insurance, get Berserker Fury and Adrenaline Fiend. Once you have all those, you’re more or less set and can add based on need and go for those all-important extra adrenaline slots.

Oh, one final note. Flyting. I had some harsh words about this before. Here is my current stance. Do it. It’s fun, it’s super-easy, and it’ll give you plenty of benefits in the future. And, I hasten to add, there is no genuine malice or hostility whatsoever. No snotty little twerps, no repulsive crowd sending off the loser with a torrent of abuse. The rhyming “insults” are on the level of Sesame Street. Seriously, I can picture Bert and Ernie throwing these corny jabs at each other and then laughing about it over a jug of milk. And even if you do get a response wrong (which will rarely, if ever happen…seriously, they’re so obvious), as long as you get two of three right, it’s your victory. I’ve done 5 of these so far, and my record stands at 4 wins, 0 losses, and 11/12 correct responses. There is no reason you should have any trouble flyting.

I’d like to close this post out with a bit about Fergal The Faceless, who truly deserves a mention all his own. (Oh, and if it isn’t clear, I urge you to manually save beforehand.) It’s marked on your World map in Grantebridgescire as a flyting. When you get there you find into a locked house and a woman who regales you with a dire warning about the mysterious “Fergal The Faceless”, a terrifying creature who can be heard but never seen or touched. If you dare accept his flyting challenge, she will give you the key to the house, but beware, for such is his power that his very words can kill. Once inside the house, you see that it’s packed with images of death and doom: bones, a carcass hanging from the ceiling, ominous symbols, bits of metal, etc. Fergal is nowhere to be seen. Suddenly you hear a voice. He declares himself Fergal The Faceless, the invisible terror whose very words are death. Now that you’ve accepted his challenge, you are bound to the flyting duel, and if you get even one response wrong, you will die. After giving you a moment to let that sink in, he begins the flyting duel.

Whereupon it immediately becomes painfully obvious that he can’t do this. At all. After his initial rambling spiel (which goes over the place and doesn’t even follow any kind of cadence, you calmly request which part of his blather was the insult. He obliges, and you are given a choice of three responses…all of which are acceptable. After that, Fergal expresses genuine surprise that you used a rhyme, and he fires back with another, even clumsier barrage. Again you get three responses which all work. This totally obliterates whatever brain function he had left and he babbles in a largely incoherent manner, whereupon you discover the reason you can’t see him…he’s outside the house, next to the window. You get three variations of “I’m not wasting any more time on you”, which reveals the, ahem, terror’s true identity and ends the flyting. Again, this is a flyting that is literally impossible not to win and allows you to have a laugh at a pathetic poseur’s expense. Too kind, Ubisoft!

Oh, and the reason you should save beforehand is that this is too damn precious to see just once. :slightly_smiling_face:

The journey continues…and it’s going to be a long, long haul, no doubt. I keep learning things! For instance, if you dual wield the same weapon, L1 does a special double attack. For Danish axes, it’s a big continuous spinning slash. Good for hitting enemies all around but drains plenty of stamina; not really that useful. Once I get double spears, however, I’m almost certain that’ll enable the rapid-thrust attack that’s so key to beating the fast bosses.

As I’ve now tried all the weapons, let me give my observations of each:

  • bearded axe: The “Mario” of this game, neither great nor terrible at anything. Since you’ll always want a shield for everything besides boss fights (the benefits of parrying alone make it a must-have), I recommend sticking with these until you get Heavy Duel Wield and/or the Blacksmith’s Hammer. Don’t waste any nickel on them.
  • flail: Use this only if you want to challenge yourself or like flashy kills (you know who you are). Too slow and clumsy to be effective otherwise.
  • hammer: The first hammer you get isn’t too good, but the Blacksmith’s Hammer has some very nice stats. Once you build it up, it’s a fantastic tool for rattling skulls and smashing shields into kindling. Where this really shines is on the battlefield, where it can rack up bodycounts like Ezio Auditore was wielding it. Don’t use it against bosses, however; the short reach is a major handicap against heavy hitters, and its speed isn’t enough to make up for that.
  • dagger: Experts only. Can carve up the toughest foes with blinding speed, but if you don’t have nerves of steel and an extremely steady hand, it’s only going to make you look stupid. I never bothered with these after the first few fights.
  • spear: This rocks, plain and simple. As fast as a hammer yet can reach most foes before they’re even close enough to hit you. Its effective range is so great that it can rack up damage even if your timing is off (like mine much of the time). This is the boss killer, and I wouldn’t even think of taking on a real nasty like a Daughter of Lerion with anything else.
  • greatswords/Danish axes: Similar in form and function, though the big axe has slightly better range and worse speed. Their big, sweeping slashes cover plenty of ground, making them handy to have when you’re surrounded. But their basic attacks are slow, their running and L1 attacks are even more sluggish, and all too often they’ll do nearly enough damage to kill the enemy but not quite, requiring you to take one more massive, syrupy swing to finish the job. Good only until you get a spear.

Speaking of which, I took out the four weakest Zealots, and it’s been quite the experience. Redwalda was a huge pain; he kept getting hit after hit, and I was seemingly never able to nail the weak points despite getting lots of shots off. I ended up slogging it out and going through all three rations; it’s been a long time since I’ve been pressed like that. Eorforwine went a little better, but she kept doing that poison cloud thing and I just could not get clean shots. Heavy damage taken; two rations expended. And then I discovered this most remarkable Ability (well, I’ve had it for a long time, but it never occurred to me to use it)…Focus of the Nornir. The description is super cryptic (“Fateful speed”? The hell? :roll_eyes:), so I’ll just tell you what it does: It slows down time to a crawl for a few seconds, allowing you to fine-tune your aim and hit those small, quickly-moving targets. This makes a HUGE difference, especially since each is probably going to take more than one shot (that armor can really take a punch!). So on to Cola (whom I’d never even heard about before, BTW), where I fired up the Nornir ability, keyed in on the head and right foot…and stunned him. Just like that. Stun attack, life drained away like nothing, chucked a few more arrows, and that was that. The whole battle took maybe eight seconds. I tell you, it was a thrill to take on an enemy type which had caused me so much misery, so much aggravation, and find something that just completely worked. Did the same tack against Kendall; not so quick…one of her weak points was on her flank, which I just couldn’t get to…but a healthy dose of arrows finished the job without much fuss (Spray and pray is surprisingly effective in this game! :grin:).

Another fun activity is working out those Order of the Ancients clues to pinpoint Palatinuses (Palatinii? Plalatiners? Whatever…) and take those unwitting fools down. I got a tip on Gunilla and was eventually able to track her down to a dockside (full of friendly Norse, no less), where she was just sitting there without a care in the world. Predator bow shot, confirm kill, boom, dead. I tell you, those pathetic Palatinibinniwinnies drop like flies once you find out where they’re skulking. And of course, if you meet tyrant Buddha on the road, you’re perfectly at liberty to kill him completely of your own initiative. I’m fairly certain that nearly everybody is going to take out Hunta, son of Hunta (milling around after that big street fight in Ledecestre…I think some of those men were his bodyguards) and Gilfe (after assailing the pyromanaic bandit camp he happens to be running) this way. I’m seriously considering looking up The Lathe’s location on IGN.com just to spare me the aggravation of having to learn freaking Orlog. (I’m okay with everything else in this game, but I hate gambling!)

On a more general note, holding off on clean-sweeping Lunden and Oxenefordscire was definitely the right call. I got a lot of levels from my first trip to Asgard, meaning that I’m going to be unavoidably spending a lot of time in a greened-out lands. Chests yield virtually no fabric until the level 130 kingdoms, Sciropescire and Cent, and realistically I won’t be snagging any of the really good gear until at least the level 160s. (Oh yeah, definitely should take on Lincolnscire ASAP; there is a sweet predator bow to be had there.) The next big stalemate point after 90 is definitely 160, as there are three kingdoms at that level and Vinland, unlocked after slaying all the Palatin-blank of War. (This is the easiest Order branch to clear out, as one is absolutely mandatory, three others are part of the Lunden assignment, and one other is the hapless HsoH. That leaves Leofgifu, who’s really nothing special and as she’s in a riverside encampment, you can and should bring your Vikingr buddies to help claim her head.) So I’m going to be in gear-‘n-go mode all the way up through the 160s, and only afterward, once levels start being important again, am I going to be thorough. (This makes even more sense given that the most valuable items are kept in castles, which are either enemy-controlled or completely inaccessible until liberated in a mission.)

One (hopefully) final word on combat: Even when you’ve learned all the techniques, the real key to survival is being able to adapt to changing situations. The big battle at Cyne Belle Castle is a prime example. First you have to lower a drawbridge (preferably after climbing the front; this is the most reliable way to get at those supports), then raise a portcullis, which requires you to go to an interior chamber and turn a crank (this is the very first time in the game you do this, BTW), and everything leads to a fight against the quick and wily Eadwyn, who does indeed have weak points…which you almost certainly won’t be able to target as you face her in a battleground full of rampaging soldiers. Even though she’s relatively weak for a boss, you won’t be able to key in on her like you can with, say, Leofrith, and the crowded field means that Dive of the Valkyrie will often target some random schmuck rather than your true foe. In this case, you either have to find a wall to put your back to and fire away, or else do the usual dodge-and-counter and keep your eyes open for flanking bastards. One good get-out-of-trouble option is Man’s Best Friend, especially once you get the additional level. There isn’t a foe this fanged terror can’t take down, allowing you to get a powerful stomp in and regroup.

Oh, as for Maximillian. Yeah, if you talk to him and refuse to pay, Eivor mentions that it might be possible to use children to distract him. I’m not going to bother with that, partly because I usually mess up these kind of shenanigans, but mainly because I honestly want to see what the Charisma-5 option does. So far I haven’t seen anything with such a large requirement, so this could be something special. Or funny, which also works.

It was a very busy Saturday for me, capped off with a thorough conquest of Vinland. It was strange… I was half-expecting it to be a savage land where survival hung by a thread, and it was pretty much the exact opposite. More on this later; first off, some more tidbits in no particular order:

  • The last thing I’ll say about combat. Two words: Twin. Spears. This is now what I use for everything and anything. Not only is it an absolutely lethal combination in terms of speed and range, it can foil enemy tactics that gave you headaches with lesser hardware. Pikemen can’t get their guard up in time, skirmishers can’t recover and counter, goliaths can’t get close enough to throw you, archers can’t backpedal fast enough. Just hammer R1 and watch your enemies drop like flies. Even better, you can parry with a spear just as well as with a shield, and against anything but a hearty boss, a twin spear stun counter is instant death. You can’t block with a spear, but this isn’t really an issue once you get to the 130 or 160 areas, as blocks eat up stamina and you’re usually better off dodging anyway. Again, two spears, parry, dodge, and you need not fear Thor himself. (Speaking of which, I have the feeling that Mjolnir is going to be a disappointment, but that’s fine…I really only want it for the trophy anyway.)

  • At heart, Zealots are just tough fighters, and they can be taken down like any other tough fighter. Fire up Focus of the Nornir and get the weak points and the battle is half won. From there just do anything that does damage, whether it be a light bow barrage, attacking from behind, or a well-timed wolf strike (I really should do that more often! :slightly_smiling_face:). Occasionally you’ll run in to someone who breaks the usual wall-‘o-iron mold…Wuffa and Cudberet are similar to skirmishers, for example…but as long as you remember how to fight them, that’s not a big problem.

  • One thing that you absolutely have to get used to is that from beginning to end, becoming stronger, tougher, and more capable is a matter of incrementalism. Each skill point adds a little bit, each equipment upgrade point adds a little bit, each blacksmith advancement adds the potential for more little bits, and it’s all these little bits and pieces that add up to a powerful whole. The impressive-looking weapons, armor and shields in the shop…y’know the stuff you have to pay actual money for…are certainly better than your regular gear, but they’re not going to turn the tide of battle on their own. When Ezio got smoke bombs, it made him about ten times harder to kill; Shay’s air rifle was essentially a BFG. There is no equivalent here. So you want a pair of sturdy, well-upgraded spears (in all likelihood Fyrd Spear and Cadfarch Spear, unless you’re actually good enough to best a freaking Lost Drengar), and lots of powerful armor, and lethal bows, and all the abilities you can get, and a fully decked out quiver and rations pouch, and a truckload of skill points. And the only way to do it is brick by brick, piece by piece.

  • You’re going to have to deal with greenouts. Especially if you’re thorough in doing all the optional tasks (which you should be), you’re going to be hitting that +51 wall sooner rather than later. In fact, I’ve completely given up blitzing through the 160s, mainly because I got so many levels from Vinland that I’d have to rush through the 160s, the 190s, and Glowcestershire (220) before I’d take on an appropriately-leveled kingdom again. Since I don’t like being rushed and am also concerned about missing out on a lot of flytings, raids, treasures, etc. (I really, really, reeeeeally want to see where the Twit Saga is going! :grin:), I’ve decided to face the reality of overpowered flunkies and go back to being thorough and cleaning out every kingdom.

  • One optional task you should definitely do as soon as you have the power and confidence is battle the Daughters of Lerion. In a nutshell, they are three fanatical ladies who fight incredibly dirty. Teleportation, invisibility, long-range stuns, blinding strikes, area effects, and bizarre movements are part of their arsenal. Worse, they recover with such amazing speed that nothing in your arsenal is going to do heavy damage. The only way to beat them is to stay alert, stay light on your feet, tough out the big hits, and, most importantly, make the most of every opportunity. They a great proving ground for your fighting skills…if you can best them all, you need not fear any other foe. Not the mightiest Zealots, not the most hardened thegns, not even the Grand Magester himself. You also get 80% of the best (non-wallet draining) armor set in the game, in case you need a more tangible reward. So far I’ve taken Goneril (Grantebridgescire, level 90) and Regan (East Anglia, level 160; she’s the one in the northeast). The former was actually a bit tougher as she used poison, which packs a heavier punch than Regan’s fire. I’m not quite sure when I’ll take on the last, who’s reportedly level 300, but as I definitely want that…relatively awesome armor (see point on incrementalism), I might be going for it sooner rather than later.

  • The Lathe is almost certainly going to be my last task before the end. Contrary to what I thought earlier, very few Palatinuses can be taken down at any time; in fact, Leofgifu, Hunta son of Hunta, and Gifle may very well be the only ones. For the rest, you either have to wait until they come up in a specific mission or do the investigation tasks…which means, yes, even if you look up where the Lathe is supposed to be, yes, you still have to play the damn Orlog game to lure him out, and yes, you have to Ragnarok-damn win it. Did I mention how much I utterly despise gambling? And this is going to be my first Orlog game ever (and very likely the last).

Now, about Vinland. Know how in most AC games there’s this one specific area or mission where for some reason or another you have minimal equipment and somehow need to defeat the same foes with this handicap? Think Edward escaping from prison or Connor just after being saved from the gallows. That’s pretty much what this is, a highly stripped-down version of the main game. You allowed to bring no weaponry and are dressed in plain merchant’s garb (so as not to spook the locals). The land is warm and peaceful, with the only threats being the Order of the Ancients soldiers and hostile predators. You can acquire weapons and armor from shops (which are surprisingly powerful; too back you can’t take any of it back to England), but you need to loot chests to afford them, which are found only in hostile encampments, meaning that you’re going to have to take out quite a few foes with your good ‘ol bare fists. (One of the interesting quirks is that Eivor takes a long time to recover from a dropkick whether or not it connects…I’m fairly certain this is the first video game in history where this is the case. :wink:) While the hunt for the no-good Magester was plenty satisfying in itself (as was finding out what the Order is doing here in the first place), for me the real reward was ingratiating myself with a simpler, humbler, kinder people and making life a little better for them. These…“native Vinlanders” (the game doesn’t say what nation this is) are genuinely good people that, in the end, I wanted many good things for. And who knows, if they use that gift properly, they just might get them.

Okay…updates probably going to be sparser now that I’m largely dialed in and have a ways to go before shooting for another alliance. (Any buzz about this game? Or the PS5? Curious minds want to know.)

Power: 239
Ranged abilities: 12 Books of Knowledge, Incendiary Powder Trap 1, Ranged Poison Strike 1, Ranged Fire Strike 1, Piercing Shot 1, Mark of Death 2, Raven Distraction 1, Man’s Best Friend 2, Axe Blizzard 1, Focus of the Nornir 1, Thorn of Slumber 2. I really want the second level of IPT or FotN. Mark of Death is garbage.
Melee abilities: 13 Books of knowledge, Rush & Bash 2, Blinding Rush 1, Poison Strike 1, Vengeance of Thor 1, Feign Death 1, Dive of the Valkyrie 2, Harpoon Impalement 1, Rage of Helheim 1, Fire Strike 1, Throwing Axe Fury 2. Other than DotV and TAF, I’m not seeing anything that’ll actually help me in any kind of fight. If you have any success stories, feel free to share.
Primary weapons: Fyrd Spear, Cadfarch Spear. Blacksmith Hammer’s served its purpose. May go for a better spear later on.
Bows: Skadi’s Wrath (Light, level 7), Death-Speaker (Hunter, level 7), Recurve Bow (Predator, level 4) I’m going to be scrubbing Lincolnshire for that top Predator bow pretty soon.
Armor: Brigandine Cape level 3, Thor’s Battle Plate level 7, Brigandine Helm level 3, Brigandine Gauntlets level 3, Thor’s Breeches level 7. Brigandine armor is sturdy but bulky; better than humdrum stuff like Huntsman’s or Hidden Ones’ but inferior to Mentor’s (best pound-for-pound) or Thor’s (best overall protection). I recommend getting the full set and upgrading it only if you’re not serious about getting the best armor in the game (I stuck with it for my first game).
Quiver 8/10, Rations pouch 5/6

Alliances: Ledecestershire 20, Grantebridgescire 20, East Anglia 55, Lunden 90, Oxenefordscire 90, Sciropescire 130, Cent 130
Zealots defeated: 8/15
Palatinuses defeated: 9/20
Magesters defeated: 1/5

You could say that about most games period. There has to be some bit where you get captured or something, your captors take away all your stuff and leave it in a box somewhere. You escape and have to fight foes with the bare minimum equipment, then you get your stuff back and are all powerful again.

Lots to catch up with on this lazy Saturday.

First off, a bit of advice about that delivery list (those four items in the back of the shop Yan Li wants you to drop off for her): DON’T GUESS. If you don’t know what that spring or that bathhouse is, look it up and get a good idea of where you should be going. You can easily waste an hour or more schlepping something to where you swear it should be. Save yourself the aggravation and look it up. You’ll thank me later.

Jotunheim. I took it in two parts because I was concerned about running low on supplies. Turns out that you can find food fairly easily if you know where to look and arrows are a lot more plentiful than I remembered, so splitting up was for avoiding fatigue as much anything else. This was a smart move, especially since just getting all the Ymir Blood Stones was a slog. Making the Offering Altar donation is an all-or-nothing deal, BTW (5 skill points for ponying up all 33), so once you get started, either you finish the deal or all your effort is wasted. It was such a slog that I honestly almost forgot why I was supposed to be there in the first place. Well, I was able to finish business, which means that I never have to go there again, and good riddance, honestly. Two things I did appreciate learning: 1. I kick butt! I was able to beat Steinnbyorn, a level 400 beast! (Hint 1, catch its back as often as you can, hint 2, do not let it pin you against a wall. Give it all the grazes it wants and stay in the open!) I was only about level 283 at the time, so I wasn’t sure I could actually beat it, but I thought, eh, only live once, gotta at least try. And, though I had to attack furiously and take some major lumps (I started with 5 rations and had 1 to spare), I prevailed in the end. I don’t have the slightest illusion that I would’ve gotten creamed on any higher difficulty, but hell with it, a win is a win and I’m pumped. 2. Incendiary Powder Trap can smash destructible barriers! Not only that, it doesn’t create a fire, meaning you never have to worry about, ahem, backlash. This is a fantastic option if dragging the firebomb all the way there is a hassle or you can’t find one at all. And on that latter note, I should warn you that there is one Blood Stone behind such a barrier where there is no way in and no firebomb anywhere around, so the only way you’re getting that grand 5 level boost is if you have IPT. Incidentally, this does a ton of damage to enemies, way more than poison, so it’s good to have in stock for those strongholds.

Another note on abilities: While Focus of the Nornir is, again, awesome for nailing weak points, against higher-level enemies you shouldn’t count on that to turn the tide. While reducing the enemy’s defense gives you a definite advantage, in the higher-level areas they can take such a massive pounding that you still have work to do. In these cases, it’s best to lead with FotN, then switch to something which can disable the enemy and allow you to pour on the damage. I’ve also discovered that Man’s Best Friend will not knock down the enemy if he’s too strong (and you want that knockdown). When I get the chance, I’ll see if Raven Distraction can fit the bill. The game says that with the upgrade (which I just got today), Synin will stun the target; if I can get a guaranteed stun attack against a Zealot or Legendary Beast, that alone is going to make it a must-have.

Other than that, it’s been lots and lots of highly productive work, much of it gaining loot and experience from Sciropescire and Cent and cutting down the ranks of the Order of the Ancients. Between them, Vinland, and Jotunheim, I was close to 300 before I even committed to my next 160!

The thing that Ubisoft did very well with the Order, in particular the non-storyline related Palatinuses (I still have no idea what the “correct” term is; if you have something better, feel free to share), is that they make you experience the entire game. One requires you to win a drinking contest, one requires you to be on the lookout for a certain tower, one requires you to raid an encampment. I really do not like having to win a tricky dice game to get to The Lathe (and by extension The Lyre), but I understand Ubisoft’s good intentions and can deal with it. This once. Eventually. :rage:

The other big milestone (which I actually did before Steinnbyorn) was defeating the last Daughter of Lerion, Cordelia, and obtaining two highly coveted pieces of the Armor of Thor. There’s been some scuttlebutt on GameFAQs on just how hard she is to beat and what works best against her. In a nutshell: She’s hits very hard, especially with her red aura jumping slash, her lightning attack has tremendous range, and she both moves and recovers really fast, so you need to stay on your toes, keep your guard up, and capitalize on every opportunity. That’s really all there is to it. I recommend double spears and the toughest armor you have, of course, and either the Poison Strike or Fire Strike ability, whichever you’ve seen kill bosses faster. I had 5 rations against her and used either 2 or 3, I forget (and this was after getting tagged by at least 3 reds), so it can be done. (Again, I’d like to stress that I’m playing on I-wanna-win-dammit difficulty, so I am not in any way, shape, or form thumping my chest about my video game prowess, which is and forever shall be abysmal, I’d just like to stress that yes, beating the Daughters of Lerion somewhat handily is within the realm of possibility. That is all.)

On a related note, regarding armor (and everything I said before about incrementalism still holds), the smartest play is to get at least 3 matching pieces of anything, upgrade everything to Superior (carbon ingots are so plentiful and cheap that you should never muck around with lowly Fine equipment), and keep them at a modest level unless you’re really struggling to stay alive. When you obtain Brigandine from the 130s (2 in Sciropescire, 3 in Cent), bump them up to level 4, but no higher unless you want to make this your permanent armor. While it has excellent defense, second only to the Thor armor, it’s also bulky and not easy to dodge in. My path had me besting Goneril for Thor’s Breeches before I even got the Brigandine Trousers, saving me some resources and trouble. The Thor armor is by far the best equipment you can get at the early-mid stage of the game, so I very strongly recommend biting the bullet and taking that sinister trio out. Bump all your Thor equipment up to Flawless and level 7 ASAP (if you’ve been scouring kingdoms to any reasonable extent, this should be no sweat). From there the last step should be the Mentor armor, which I strongly recommend boosting all the way to Mythical and level 10 right off the bat. While not quite as resilient as Brigandine or Thor’s, it’s considerably lighter and has much better evasion stats, and trust me, you’ll want to be very light on your feet for your final battles. The first should always the be the Mentor’s Cloak, held in a protected location in Snotinghamscire, as by the time you get the Thor equivalent it’s essentially a “bragging rights reward”. Save your precious tungsten for the other Mentor’s or Thor pieces, starting with the chest piece (which, as of the current update, is the only one which can receive a diamond rune). It only takes 1 tungsten ingot to bump up an armor piece as opposed to 3 for a weapon, so defense before offense!

Oh, before I forget, they also added a new feature. Ever wondered what those bridges on the edges of the settlement were for? Well, get ready for a new challenge, River Raids! This is essentially an “endless mode” for players who’ve conquered everything else in the game. Basically you start with a simple raid, the raids gradually get harder, you have a finite supply of raiders and healing rations, and you keep going until you call it a day or die. The bad news is that if you die at any point, you lose EVERYTHING you obtained on the raid, so it’s a question of not only skills but guts. Dare you do one more? Me, I have the guts of a jellyfish, so I’ll leave this to the true masters, but it’s nice to know that there’s some actual replay value here.

Another fun thing that happened was that I finally got to charisma level 5, meaning that I could finally work my charms on Maximillian and get that statue gratis! Just for the record, it takes a total of 12 flytings to get to that level (of which 10 require actual effort, the other 2 being a tutorial and, well, that guy :laughing:), 1 for level 2, 3 more for level 3, and 4 each for levels 4 and 5, so I was raring for this moment for quite a while. So here’s what happens…

Eivor threatens to do horrible stuff to Maximillian. Maximillian becomes filled with fear, caves, and lets her take the statue. That’s it. :face_with_raised_eyebrow: Not sure how skill at improvisational beat poetry translates to skill at base thuggish intimidation, but eh, success is success.

Alliance-wise, I decided to make the next one Essexe because I felt it was a natural continuation point after Cent, plus there was that one synchronization point I avoided earlier because there were a bunch of angry guards in the area. As it turns out, Essexe has a surprising amount of combat for an arc centered around an old romance and a corny staged kidnapping, with no castle or major battle. Just as well that much of the action took place in Colcestre, as I was able to completely clear it, which is great because I do not want to go to that bloodsoaked hellhole ever again.

There was one interesting note, which was Rollo’s grilling of his lieutenants, which, since I can barely remember the names of the important characters, much less supporting cannon fodder, I’ll simply refer to as “SM” (shield maiden) and “OV” (old veteran). Rollo belived that one of them betrayed him, so he asked for Eivor’s help to determine which. At Grantebridgescire, it was a damn long search, but eventually I found sufficient evidence to nail the culprit. (Incidentally, it is possible to seal the alliance even if you mess this up, but the fighting is tougher, Soma’s relationship with you is soured, and you lose out on a Jomsviking) Here, I don’t know what I missed, but I had zero idea who to accuse. Both had a solid motive, both gave the exact same alibi, both were strangely absent when the camp was hit, both showed suspicious behavior. I thought that the only reasonable response was to lock them up and investigate further, but Rollo wanted an answer RIGHT FREAKING NOW, with that big hammer in his hands making his intentions all too clear. In my first game, the one I didn’t accuse turned out to be guilty, which I found out the hard way in the final fight against Aelfred’s forces. Since I had garnered no further evidence, I assumed this was either the standard “They both did it, you fool!” twist, where you learn the old lesson about one party being guilty not automatically making the other innocent, or, worst case scenario, that execrable no-win situation where no matter what you choose you discover later that you were wrong. So this time, of course, I pointed the finger at the other to see what would happen.

The first game I accused OV. In the final battle, SM alerted the attacking forces to Estrid’s presence, then placed her in the path of an arrow (she was badly wounded but survived). In my current game, OV…who displayed a rather poor attitude up to that point, I hasten to add…warned Eivor and Rollo of the attack, then was cut down by arrows while trying to protect Estrid, who came out of the battle unharmed. So yeah, shield maiden guilty, old veteran innocent. No twist, no BS, pure as the driven snow. Go figure. Incidentally, either way the end result is essentially unchanged: Both SM and OV are dead, Estrid escapes to Francia alive, and a grateful Birstan keeps his word and makes the alliance official. I think you don’t get Rollo as a Jomsviking if you guess wrong, but Jomsvikings are easy enough to acquire that this is hardly damaging. The consequences for messing up are far less than for Grantebridgescire, so Ubisoft does has some sense of justice, at least.

Excellent game! :slightly_smiling_face: Hopefully somewhat shorter posts in the future; I don’t see any new major developments for a while.

Power: 316
Upgraded ranged abilities: Incendiary Powder Trap, Ranged Poison Strike, Piercing Shot, Mark of Death, Raven Distraction, Focus of the Nornir, Thorn of Slumber
Upgraded melee abilities: Rush & Bash, Blinding Rush, Poison Strike, Vengeance of Thor, Harpoon Impalement, Throwing Axe Fury
Primary weapons: Fyrd Spear L7, Cadfarch Spear L7
Bows: Light - Skadi’s Wrath L7, Hunter - Death-Speaker L7, Predator - Longbow L7
Armor: Mentor’s Cloak L10, Thor’s Battle Plate L7, Thor’s Helmet L7, Thor’s Gauntlets L7, Thor’s Breeches L7
Quiver and Rations pouch ALL COMPLETE! :grin: (You get_plenty_ of Fabric once you hit the 130s. Pretty much everyone should have both maxed out before finishing the 160s.)

Alliances: Ledecestershire 20, Grantebridgescire 20, East Anglia 55, Lunden 90, Oxenefordscire 90, Sciropescire 130, Cent 130, Vinland 160, Essexe 160
Completed areas - all Wealth, Mysteries, and Artifacts: Ledecestershire, Grantebridgescire, Lunden, Oxenefordscire, Cent, Vinland, Essexe, Jotunheim. (Still have a Lost Drengr in East Anglia and an Offering Altar in Sciropescire.)
Legendary animals defeated: 6/11 (Feel a bit cheated that I don’t get some acknowledgment in the homestead about Steinnbjorn and O Yan Do’ Ne, even if one “isn’t real” and the other’s far from England.)
Bound to Fate arcs completed: 2/3
Zealots defeated: 11/15 (I could take on Hrothgar and Beorhtsige right now, but I want to get some more of the story done first.)
Palatinuses/Magesters defeated: 15/25 (I’m actually thinking that The Oil might be the tough one, as the first clue is in the hardest area in the game, but I am in no hurry to go after The Lathe.)