My latest gaming obsession is a roguelight real time strategy game called “Bad North” (Steam link here). The game’s low-poly aesthetic combined with brutal battles is what pulled me in, but I’m really love the minimalistic gameplay which works surprisingly great as a console experience.
The game’s basic strategy comes down to a rock/paper/scissors dynamic: Pikemen beat knights. Knights beat archers. Archers beat pikemen.
Loading screen tips:
It’s that simplistic concept that makes the game easy to get into, but there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface. What islands are worth attacking, when to level up, what units to assign items to, when to restore a unit, etc. A lot of the games nuances take a little work to figure out, but many of the basic tips are randomly displayed during loading times. Unfortunately these only appear for a few seconds, so I wanted to compile the list of them here for anyone to find. If I missed any, please let me know in the comments.
- Replenish squads in houses to bring them back to full strength
- You can flee an island on an empty ship if the battle seems lost
- Ships can stun your troops if they are too close to the beach
- Archers are vulnerable in melee
- Your Pikes can’t fight while moving
- Troops with shields can block arrows
- Your Militia are basic troops that can be upgraded
- The large viking brutes pack a punch – be careful where you face them
- Pay attention: all units have their strengths and weaknesses
- Adapt your strategy to the shape of each island
- If your commanders fall in battle, they will be lost forever
- Shields can only block one threat at a time
- Stunned enemies are vulnerable
I tried running a grep to find these loading screen tips in the game’s directory, just like I did in this Fallout Shelter post, but I couldn’t find them. Luckily one of the developers shared a list on a Steam forum, but I still feel some are missing.
A few other basics:
- Archers always target the closest units or buildings to them, so so let it be your knights. As far as I can tell, their shields will block all (or most) of the damage.
- Some units, like the Berserkers with the red and white shields, will go straight for the nearest unit instead of a building. This means it’s easy to lure them up a ramp where you pikes are ready to demolish them.
- Game state is saved between islands. I’m not saying it’s okay to force quit when a battle goes horribly wrong… I’m just saying.
- Falling into the water is instant death. So you can position your pikesmen to push units into water or use items like bombs or hammers to fling opponents to their watery deaths. Be careful though, bombs can damage your own troops too.
- Focus on one upgrade at a time, there’s no reason to spread your gold out too thinly. I always start by turning my militiamen into the three basic units, starting with my archers then knights, then pikesmen. After that, I do the basic upgrade on each unit in that order, then the full upgrade, before I start messing with upgrading items or other units. If I gain a fourth army of militiamen, I will convert them to a second archery unit asap, then keep them in the rotation of upgrades I mentioned before.
- Once you’ve clicked on an island, you can leave it before a battle begins without losing troops. This means if you open it up and don’t think it’s defendable, or the risk isn’t worth the gold (because there aren’t enough buildings), you can select another island instead.
- Don’t rush to the end. Try to maximize the gold you can gain on each island before they disappear. Sometimes it might be better to go for an island with more gold than it would be to go for an island with a new army or item to unlock.
- Use the highground. Pikes work great at entrances to high ground, and archers seem most effective from higher positions too. Pikes also work great for narrow passages, but knights only seem to fight one at time in these narrow areas, so it seems best to keep them on flat ground when attacking.
- A great breakdown of advanced strategies and formations. Use this!
- A great article about how they make these tiny soldiers feel so human. It breaks down unit behaviour that makes it really easy to understand how best to use units.
- The Bad North soundtrack is on Bandcamp.
- An interview with the developers.