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Video Game / Bad North

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A typical island, beset by Viking boats from all directions.
Once upon a time, there was a chain of small islands ruled by a king, until one day, the Viking invaders came and slew him. His heir prepares to repel the invasion in spite of badly outnumbered, needing not just a single victory, but a series of them against an unrelenting foe that'll gladly take over whatever you are not able to defend with your limited troops.

That is the basic idea of Bad North, a minimalist Roguelike / Real-Time Strategy hybrid that was developed in Unity by Plausible Concept, and released for Nintendo Switch on August 20th, 2018. It was then ported to PS4, Xbox One and for PC through Steam on August 28th, 2018. Bad North: Jotunn Edition followed on October 15th, 2019; that version was also ported to iOS and Android on the same day.

And just in case, Jotunn Edition of this game has nothing to do with 2015's Boss Game Jotun.


Tropes used in Bad North:

  • Advancing Boss of Doom: The entire horde of Vikings acts as this in the strategy mode. Simply having your commander on the island that is set to be engulfed by it next turn will instantly end the game. The only exception is if there's only one island left, as then it triggers your Last Stand battle.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Each unit's commanders are much tougher than the warriors under their command.
  • Blade on a Stick: The Pikemen, who possess great advantage over basic fighters and infantry due to the great reach of their weapons, but are highly vulnerable to archers since they are unable to block their arrows. Moreover, they cannot attack on the move (unless you use up their precious "Charge!" skill), so once you pick a direction for them to defend, you better hope they don't suddenly get flanked by another squad of Infantry.
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  • Checkpoint: Every randomly generated map has a few special islands on it. Going there results in a tough battle, but succeeding saves your progress, and allows you to replay the game from immediately after that battle instead of simply re-rolling the entire campaign.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Your soldiers are blue, with every detachment also flying a colourful flag above it. On the contrary, the Vikings are always black, and never carry standards.
  • Decapitated Army: Played straight, as losing a detachment's commander immediately wipes them all out as well.
  • Demonic Spiders: Giant archers. Typically only appearing in the later half of a game, these guys will give you an aneurysm every time they show up. In addition to the extra health of their much more manageable melee cousins, they pack a wallop of a ranged attack with enough range to start sniping you almost as soon as their ship comes into view. More akin to a ballista than a bow, their shots can pierce multiple unshielded men, carry enough knockback to send even a shielded soldier flying off a cliff or into the water and even have a chance of just killing a soldier through his shield! Their shots have a very flat trajectory, however, so your best chance is to hide your troops behind whatever cover they can and bum rush them with sword and boarders as soon as they hit the shore.
  • Elite Mook: The Vikings with teardrop yellow shields have no weaknesses: They can shield themselves from arrows, throw axes to break up pike lines, and can hold their own against infantry. Only pincer maneouvres or special abilities are particularly effective against them.
  • Excuse Plot: Most of the storyline is contained within the game's storefront description, with the actual game being largely devoid of narrative.
  • Geo Effects: Archers can get greater distance with their arrows if they're placed on top of a mountain.
  • Giant Mook: The Vikings have some fighters who are visibly larger than the standard units of their type, and have correspondingly greater health and damage to boot. Their range does not match that of a pike, fortunately.
  • Glass Cannon: The double sworded vikings don't have any protection, so your archers can slaughter them with impunity as they sail in. You'll want to do this, because if they manage to get to your infantry they'll wreak merry hell on them.
  • The Goomba: The basic fighters on both sides, who only carry swords without shields, and need to be upgraded into either Infantry, Pikemen or Archers with gold ASAP.
  • Hollywood Tactics: The Vikings always have a numerical advantage over your warriors, but they don't always capitalize on it during the battles, and will often just send out their ships separately from each other, allowing you to outnumber and slaughter the raiding parties.
    • The Viking archers will still disembark the way the melee troops would, regardless of the circumstances, when it would often make far more sense for them to stay in the boats a small distance off the shore and shoot at your melee troops with impunity.
  • Knightly Sword and Shield: The Infantry. They are extremely effective point-blank, but may have trouble getting there, as they are outranged by both archers and even Pikemen. While the former aren't very scary because of the shields' protection, the pikemen will always defeat the swordsmen with all else being equal.
  • Last Stand: Once you are down to your last island, the battle that takes place there will determine whether you succeed or fail at the entire game. Thus, the goal of the game up to that point is really to ensure you have built up four of the most veteran commanders and battle-hardened retinue, showered with all the upgrades you could muster the gold for.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Infantry can block arrows from Archer units with their shields, and so will be able to advance upon them with few losses, especially compared to Pikemen. However, the Pikemen will efficiently stab Infantry to death before they get up close if try to rush them head-on. Successfully flanking them before they can change direction, however, will turn the tables back in Infantry's favour.
  • Rain of Arrows: "Volley", the basic skill for the Archer class, bombards a targeted section of the map with arrows. It also ignores the protection from Infantry's shields.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Sometimes, the Vikings will ignore your troops and just straight-up head for the houses on the island to torch them. Every house they manage to burn down reduces the gold yield from controlling that island, so it's possible to win a Pyrrhic Victory where you are stuck with a useless island.
    • It can work the other way around too - if your troops are clearly about to get overwhelmed by the Viking hordes, you can get into the leftover boats from the earlier waves you slaughtered, and flee in them to fight another day. By that point, the Vikings are likely to be too consumed with torching everything to pay you much attention.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Archers easily riddle Pikemen with arrows from afar, Pikemen can stab Infantry to death before they get up close, and Infantry will block Archers' arrows with their shields up until the moment they cut them down. However, each class also has an active ability that compensates for their biggest shortfall when activated.
  • Variable Mix: The music changes depending on which Vikings are currently floating their way towards you. Dual wielders get a drum roll, and giants have a doomy reverb-heavy theme.
  • A Winner Is You: Prevailing in the Last Stand battle simply freezes the screen and shows a "Congratulations! You survived the Viking horde!" message, along with the campaign's stats.