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A well-prepared Viking begins his battle long before he takes to the field. This starts with careful unit selection—that is, building up the group of units whose distinctive stats and special skills work together to give you the best chance when the arrows start flying.

For general discussion on team composition and use in battle, see the battle rules. This entry focuses on the range of units available, while the official guideext-icon.png explains the units' abilities and strategic roles all in one page.'

Promotion and Planning


Banner Saga currently supports two "types" of units: base (Rank 0) units, and promoted (Rank 1, 2, 3) units. For each base-class (i.e. Archer, Raider, Shieldbanger, Warrior) there is a number of different promoted classes you can choose from. For example, the Archer base class can be promoted to the Bowmaster, Siege-Archer or Skystriker class.

The composition of your warband of six units/characters is referred to as a build (or team). The sum of the Ranks of the units of a build is called the power (or power level) of that build. For example, when you first enter Strand, having just the "Thrasher" in your build, your power is 1. When you have promoted six units to Rank 1, your build's power is 6.

Promoted units have several advantages over base units:

  • They have access to special active abilities, particular to each promoted class, which grows more powerful for Ranks 2 and 3,
  • They inherit the passive ability from the base-class they come from,
  • They gain one additional stat-point per Rank, and
  • Their stat-points can be re-allocated between attributes, respecting min/max limits, specific for each promoted class.

For these reasons, higher-Rank units are essential for building a formidable and efficient warband. Yet, even though units become stronger when promoted to higher Ranks, the wise leader considers the future, learning the advantages of each promoted unit class before deciding to spend the hard-earned Renown for a promotion.


Size, movement and attack-range

Base class size_bw.png move_range_small.png attack_range_small.png
Archers 1x1 3 2-5
Raiders 1x1 4 1
Warriors 2x2 4 1
Shieldbangers 2x2 3 1

Points for promoted classes

Base class Base Limits
Archers 15 34
Raiders 18 41
Warriors 20 43
Shieldbangers 22 44
Point-total Base + 10 + Rank

Each base class (i.e. Archer, Raider, Shieldbanger, Warrior) comes with three attributes that cannot be changed and is inherited to promoted classes: size, movement, and attack-range. For instance, all Shieldbangers (of whatever Rank) will take up four squares, while all Archers will have the same basic attack-range.

Additionally, each unit has three stats/attributes that deplete over the course of a single battle: strength (STR), armor (ARM), and willpower (WP).

  • STR indicates both health and damage. A unit dies when his STR reaches 0, but is gradually weakened as he loses STR throughout a battle
  • ARM negates damage. When an opponent attacks your unit, he will deal total damage of (his STR) - (your ARM). Armor can also be attacked. (See also the battle page)
  • WP allows you to take bonus actions; for instance, you can spend 1 WP to move one extra square, or to do one extra damage, or to use a promoted-unit's Rank-1 active ability.

Finally, each unit has two stats that do not deplete over the course of the battle: exertion (EX) and armor break (AB).

  • EX defines how much WP a unit can use on a given action. (For instance, a character with 3 EX can move 3 extra tiles in one turn at the cost of 3 WP, then attack for three bonus damage at the cost of three more WP. Meanwhile, a character with 1 EX can only move 1 extra square for 1 WP and/or attack for 1 extra damage for 1 WP.)
  • AB defines how much Armor damage the unit can do on a single attack. Unlike attacks on STR, Armor-Break damage is constant, but it can also be increased using WP.

When a unit gets promoted, you get one extra stat-point and — more importantly — you can now freely re-allocate the stat-points between the unit attributes (STR, ARM, WP, EX and AB) anytime you want. You can only re-allocate 10+Rank stat-points, respecting at all times the min/max limits of each attribute (specific to each promoted class).



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Take a look a the list of abilities to see how varied they are.

In addition to statistics, each unit can potentially have both active and passive abilities. Active abilities require the unit to spend 1 WP in order to trigger them, and are not available to level 0 characters. Passive abilities have no cost and are "always on;" the player automatically receives their benefit whenever appropriate.

Rank 2 and 3 active abilities cost 2 and 3 WP correspondingly, but any ability rank from 1 up to unit rank can be used. For example, if your rank 3 Bowmaster shoots at 7 range with her Bird of Prey ability, she will use 1 WP to activate it, but to shoot at 8 range you will need 2 WP.

Abilities are determined by class and type and (unlike statistics) are identical among units of the same class and type, although some abilities (such as the Siege Archer's Slag and Burn) behave differently depending on how the unit's stats are set.

Most active abilities targeting an enemy's STR always hit, with several exceptions like the second hit in the Backbiter's Run Through, which follows the normal rules for inflicting Strength damage, or Thrasher's Bloody Flail, which has special rules.

Most units' active abilities allow them to target squares in their standard attack range. However, some abilities are designed around increased range, like the Backbiter's Run Through and the Bowmaster's Bird of Prey. So far, the Raidmaster's Stone Wall is the only ability that does not target any square.

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