Banner Saga Guide: Skills for Kills Part One

Need any help with the Human abilities in Banner saga? Check out this detailed guide for all their abilities and uses.

Abilities can really turn the tide of battle in Banner Saga. Some character types have passive abilities that apply to every class of that type. There are also some unique abilities between each class of the same type. Everyone has two things in common. There are three ranks of each ability, and they needs kills to upgrade their abilities.

If you are looking for a basic combat guide, check out my Banner Saga Combat Guide. If you want more of an explanation on units, then visit my Banner Saga Unit Guide.

This guide will cover class abilities including:

  • Explanation of each human ability
  • Best use of each ability

Banner Saga Human Abilities

Each character type, archer, melee, and mender, have different classes. Each class has their own abilities.  Let's start with the archers.


All archers have the passive ability, Puncture. This ability does more strength damage if the user does not move that turn and based on how much armor the target has lost. For every two points of armor the target has lost, the archer will gain one point of strength, as long as it doesn't move.

The Eagle Eye class has the active ability, Thread the Needle. This ability can hit a target up to five spaces away and will hit ever unit in a straight line on its way to the target. It does normal strength damage, plus up to three armor damage, depending on the rank, and puncture damage if standing still. This is a great ability if you can get enemies to line up, but be careful, friendly units will also be hit if in the line of fire.

Skystrikers have the Rain of Arrows ability. This ability shoots up to three arrows on an unoccupied tile. Any enemy that step on the target will take normal strength damage and get stunned, ending their turn. Each rank adds an extra arrow and strength damage to the ability. This ability is a great defensive tool. You can protect allies by placing traps near them, to stop enemies that target them.

Bowmasters have the Bird of Prey ability. This ability increases the range the user can shoot and gives it a 100% chance to hit. The ability initially gives the user two more tiles of range, each rank adds an extra tile. This works with puncture, so it is a good way to use that passive ability on enemies that are otherwise out of reach.


There are three types of melee units for humans: landsmen, spearmen, and raiders.

Landsmen have the passive ability Light Step. This ability allows the user to pass through allied units. This ability is useful for getting into position, or escaping a dangerous situation.

  • Hunters are landsmen that have a bow and axe. These units can attack from far away or melee range. The active ability, Mark Prey, is a melee ability though. Mark Prey does armor damage to the target and causes all allies within melee range of the target to automatically attack the target. This ability will not, however, work with ranged units. It does one armor damage and goes up by one every rank. This ability is great when used near high damaging allies within range of the target. You may even be able to finish a target off by using this ability once.
  • Wardens are landsmen with the active ability, Rally. This ability grants allies with willpower, from anywhere on the battle field. It starts at two, then goes up by two each rank. This helps a lot when an ally is short on willpower and needs it to finish off an enemy.

Each spearman has the passive ability Embolden. This ability grants one willpower to the spearman, and any adjacent allies, when the spearman gets a kill.

  • Spearmasters are spearmen with the active ability Impale . This ability will impale the target, then knocks them back one space. Impaled targets will bleed the next turn if they move any spaces. If the target moves next turn, it will take one strength damage for each space moved.. This ability knocks the enemy back one extra space for each rank.

All raiders have shields and the passive ability Shield Wall. This ability adds one extra armor to the raider and allies when the raider moves next to an ally. This ability lasts as long as the raider stays next to an ally. Additional raiders add to the ability, up to four armor if four raiders stand in a square formation.

  • Thrashers are raiders with the Bloody Flail active ability. This ability will randomly do one damage to either armor or strength, multiple times. It does four strikes at rank one and goes up by one each rank. Each adjacent ally increases the damage of this ability by one. This ability is useful on targets with high armor because you have the potential to do a lot of strength damage. Putting allied units near a thrasher not only gives it an attack bonus, but will grant extra armor because of th passive ability.
  • Grudgewielders are raiders with the Guts active ability. This ability knocks all units next to the user back two spaces, friend or foe. Each rank adds an extra space to the knockback. All units hit by this ability, take one strength damage, plus one for each space knocked back. This is great for hitting a group of enemies and knocking them away from allies, just don't do it near friends.
  • Raidmasters are raiders with the Stone Wall active ability. This ability will resist three damage for each strike to the user. Each rank adds an extra two to the resist. This is great for charging into a group of enemies, or stopping a strong enemy from hurting allies.
  • Backbiters are raiders with the Run Through active ability. This ability allows the user to run to an enemy up to two spaces away. When they reach the target, they stab them in the back for normal strength damage. Each unit the user runs through on the way to the target, takes two armor damage. Each rank adds an extra space the user can run through.


Eyvind has two active abilities, Arc Lightning and Mend. Arc lightning strikes an enemy up to six spaces away with lightning from the sky. This ability does two strength damage to the target and one additional damage to each unit diagonal to the target. Arc lightning can hit allied units, so be careful. Each rank adds one extra damage to the first strike.

Mend restores an ally's armor up to six spaces away. The amount restored is equal half of the user's current willpower. Each rank adds an extra point of armor.

That's all the human abilities. If I have missed any, or you have any questions, let me know in the comments. Part Two will go over the Varl's abilities.

Guide Editor

After gaming for 25 years, Synzer leveraged his vast knowledge of RPGs and MMOs into a job as a games journalist, covering the games he loves. Five years later, he's still writing about Kingdom Hearts, Pokemon, and Knights of the Old Republic. Synzer has a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing. You can see him in action on his YouTube channel ( and Twitch (

Published Jan. 17th 2014
  • kebabsoup
    Whut? I'm pretty sure mark prey works with ranged characters, if they are in range that is.
  • Nat_6842
    Quick question, sorry if it's noob ;)
    I can't seem to add points to the abilities, i can add points to every stat when leveling, but not the "spells". They stay at 1/3. What am I missing??
  • Synzer
    Guide Editor
    You will automatically gain ability ranks when you level up more. When you promote it will tell you if you will gain an ability rank or not.
  • BrainFreeze_2182
    Arc lighting doesn't work that way. It is base damage(2/3/4) to primary target and base+1 to diagonally adjacent. It grows stronger with each leap, not weaker.
  • Synzer
    Guide Editor
    Sorry, you are correct. I missed the additional and thought it meant it does only one strength damage.

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