Skyrim EP20: The King’s Speech

  By Shamus   Apr 3, 2014   104 comments


Link (YouTube)

If I wanted to argue that Skyrim should have been Game of The Year in 2011, I would use this video to make my case. If I wanted to argue that Skyrim was the worst game of 2011, I would also use this video. This is a perfect snapshot of why all the awful and stupid things in Skyrim are also kind of awesome.

Related references:

Push the Button, Gordon.

Oh Rikkei, you so fine. You so fine you blow my mind.


A Hundred!4104 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!


  1. Chris says:

    A link to Hey Mickey and not to Hey Ricky!?

  2. Jonathan says:

    Fast Edde from Morrowind anyone? His name always seemed out of place.

  3. Mathias says:

    Too tired for long, detailed post, but if anyone would like a few examples of historical sieges/historical warfare from around the period Skyrim is trying to emulate (being the Late Middle Ages sans cannons,) I will be willing to provide.

    Also, considering the Empire is based on the Roman Empire, wouldn’t they detest oceans since, you know, the Romans famously sucked at maritime endeavors?

    • 4th Dimension says:

      The Romans didn’t hate the navy, they simply disredarded it, and it’s commanders were probably land forces commanders promoted for naval duty when necessary on order to keep “those cowardly sailors” from running.
      And thus they got their asses handed to them couple of times by the naval focused powers. Also didn’t they in the end manage to destroy the Carthaginian navy which was probably scary since Carthaginians were primarily traders?
      Anyway Empires certanly have nothing against transporting legions by sea. They conquered Greece that way after all.

      Also on second thought that settlement that Alduin destroys was probably theri main military base since it was on the border with Cyrodil. But Cyridil was probably smashed in the war, so it’s not providing too many men. On the other hand west of the Skyrim are the Bretonian kingdom(s) and those are probably still okay and are one of rare Imperial provinces unravaged by war. Morowind has been wrecked by the Red Mountain erupting.
      So yeah, they are probably sailing the reinforcements in to Solitude from High Rock. And if I remember correctly there is a quite large harbour beneath Solitude and there are warehouses beneath the arch?

      • Microwaviblerabbit says:

        The East Empire Company quest in Windhelm deals with how the empire cannot move supplies by boat due to pirate attacks. Once you complete it, guards all thank you for reopening so, because they love Breton cheese or something so I think shipping from High Rock isn’t the source of reinforcements. The Empire doesn’t seem too concerned about this route being cut.

        The Empire controls all the holds from Solitude to the border with Cyrodiil, so they would be able to move reinforcements that way. High Rock is isolated from the Empire by Hammerfell, and traveling by sea from Anvil to Solitude would get perilously close to Summerset Isle.
        Plus the Legion in Skyrim is almost entirely made up of Imperials and Nords, so reinforcements are probably coming from those areas.

      • guy says:

        Basically, Rome was terrible at naval warfare until they invented better equipment for forcing boarding actions with, at which point they let their land warfare capabilities win naval battles for them. However, by the imperial period they actually did a lot of shipping across the Mediterranean and had conquered basically every port.

        Also, Solitude seems to be the only port that wouldn’t get choked with ice for a good chunk of the year,so they probably don’t have to worry about competition much. And at this technology level, bulk transport over long distances is generally best done by ship.

        • Humanoid says:

          Given the typical carry weight exhibited by the game, the most efficient means of bulk transport would be lone adventurers walking on foot without a backpack.

          • Alexander The 1st says:

            For equipment, maybe, but not their actual Legions.

            Going off that port point mentioned before you:

            The Empire’s fighting rebellions everywhere else as well, IIRC.

            If that is the case,or they fear that to be the case, securing a port is vital for transporting troops between areas. Take some Nords to deal with Hammerfell, or some Redguards to help Skyrim, or Bretons to Skyrim, perhaps on their way to Cyrodiil.

            The versatility of Solitude makes it a vital stronghold for Imperial forces – the fact that they typically have the High King of Skyrim up there *and* it’s far away from warfare also helps significantly.

    • False Prophet says:

      I was under the impression that after defeating Carthage, Roman mastery of the Mediterranean was effectively uncontested during the Pax Romana, such that they referred to it as Mare Nostrum (“Our Sea”).

      Granted, most of their sailors were Greek or Egyptian.

      • Mathias says:

        I was being facetious for comedic effect, but yeah, it’s true, it’s less that the Romans sucked at naval warfare and more that they were always more fond of land-based warfare because they were really, really, -really- good at that.

        But it still doesn’t make much sense to have your main base so far from any sensible supply lines. Even if you can get goods through by ship, wouldn’t having a stable, land-based supply line where you can more easily defend your supplies be preferable, since even if your fleet is absolutely massive, you have to devote far more resources to it?

        Also, and I know this is a limitation of the engine and the AI, but did it bug anyone else that the Imperials and Stormcloaks pretty much fight the same way? I mean, if the Imperials are supposed to be based on the Roman Empire, wouldn’t they be fighting in organized formations of heavy infantry, maybe have some throwing spears and archer auxiliaries in there? No, splitting out into small groups and attacking the enemy one-on-one? Usually without a shield or other kind of protection while wearing light armor? I guess that works too.

        Also, on the note of sieges and Skyrim, the Falskaar mod actually adds a more realistic siege to one of its missions. Granted, it eventually devolves into an assault on the city as well, but for the first few missions in one link of that questline, you actually do see a city surrounded on all sides by enemies blocking off access to the gates and raining fire down on the populace.

        • Ciennas says:

          The Cryodilic Legion is very clearly modeled after Roman sensibilities, but that doesn’t mean they’re a carbon copy. I imagine logistics are different when at least one branch of your army are practicing mages. (A mage that knows feather spells could drastically simplify loading ships, for example.)

          Yes, it would have been nice for the AI to exhibit different behaviors for different military factions… I just remembered: The Stormcloaks were trained in the Legion. That would explain the identical fighting styles and tactics. Out of universe, they basically designed three humanoid AI patterns, and didn’t bother adding any others. All of them act like this, from bandits to draugr.

          Maybe a more varied AI could be involved in the sequel. I dunno.

    • They managed OK when they had to, though. For one thing, they were pioneers in the effective application of marines–using their land war expertise at sea. They had this “Gangplank with nails” thing; when they got close to an enemy ship, they’d drop it, it would stick to the enemy deck with the nails, they’d march some legion across the gangplank, and that would be that.

  4. MrGuy says:

    You don’t understand, guys. That old lady made me that sweetroll for my birthday, then Butch tried to steal it. Man, I hate the Tunnel Snakes.

  5. Nick says:

    Forever after known as Reginald Catbear, disruptor of speeches

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Hey Mumbles,look,an actual cat-a-pult.

  7. SirMize says:

    If I recall Roman history, a Quaestor is an administrative official, not a soldier. That promotion seemed oddly out of place unless the next quest was to evaluate taxes.

    • MrGuy says:

      Dude, spoiler warning!

    • Thomas says:

      Go full on Frog Fractions, start with an epic quest for the Dragonborn to shape the fate of the world, end it with tax returns.

      ‘It’s sort of a mixture between Skyrim and Papers, Please’

      • daveNYC says:

        On that subject, kinda, given the questionable nature of the executions (mostly yours) that start the game, Bethesda could have stuck a pretty interesting quest or two into the civil war questlines.

        An assassination or spying gig on the opponent’s home city, or also interesting, a beat down an opposing faction’s rabble rouser. Bonus points if they manage to make the job seem distasteful yet necessary.

    • Humanoid says:

      A Quaestor is someone who does quaests.

      But make no mistake, Reginald *will* collect his dues from the populace of Skyrim.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    A manbearcat so needs to happen!

  9. spades says:

    The “battles” of the Civil War questline are really underwhelming. The NPCs that you fight are really weak (despite being the same models of the super tough town guards), the environments you fight in are repetitive (forts everywhere!) and the combat basically dissolves into spamming the attack button ad nauseam. There’s no need for strategy or tactics in this questline, there’s very little variety and little to no character development or even characters. Its all just “follow the white arrow and kill all the guys!” until you take over the HQ of either faction.

    Tl;dr: CW questline is a big snoozefest

    • Microwaviblerabbit says:

      I particularly hate any of the civil war missions that involve sneaking. The AI always screws up ambushes, can’t shoot on cue, and it never matters anyway. Considering both Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas managed to do ‘large scale combat’ showpieces sort of effectively, it was really disappointing. Skyrim seems to suffer from the same console power bottleneck that New Vegas had in terms of NPCs, which makes battles really small.

      The city attacks/defenses are bad in general. The defending troops almost always destroy their own barricades, because the AI incorrectly thinks it can shoot over them. Plus, because your sides’ named characters are unkillable, you can just sit back, do nothing and eventually win. There is a lot of cut content that indicates the civil war quests were originally planned to be much better. I wish they had taken everyone allocated to the main Thieves Guild quests, and re-tasked them on the civil war quests.

      • Humanoid says:

        I wish they had taken everyone allocated to the main Thieves Guild quests, and shot them.

      • Raygereio says:

        Skyrim seems to suffer from the same console power bottleneck that New Vegas had in terms of NPCs, which makes battles really small.

        The problem isn’t really “them evil consoles holding the glorious PC master race back”. Sure, if you have more processing power and memory for the game to munch on you could have larger engagements without too much loss in performance. But that’s only treating the symptom, the problem of the engine being kinda crappy would still be there.
        The Skyrim’s Creation Engine – much like Bethesda’s previous engines – just doesn’t handle NPCs very efficiently. Not sure how Bethesda could fix that while keeping things moddable and not a giant pain to work with.

        And there’s also the problem of Skyrim’s combat mechanics not being suited for anything larger minor skirmishes.

        • Install the mod that turns New Vegas’ Freeside back into part of the Mojave open world. The same author has loads of other “uncut” mods, like the one that turns the strip into one (instead of three) chambers, and adds bucketloads of NPCs.

          You will not question the Glorious PC Master Race again.

          Seriously, even though a few quests are added and some dialog is restored, it just makes the place feel a lot more lived-in. Additionally, it adds drunken NCR soldiers, which makes a lot of sense, given the location. It adds flavor. It keeps the game from seeming too much like those TV shows or movies where an entire universe seems to be populated by the main characters and a handful of mooks.

          As for the combat, I think mods themselves have shown the possibilities are more limited by the people coding the thing. There are mods to allow large-scale attacks, castle/building defense, etc.

          • Thomas says:

            There are drunken NCR in vanilla Fallout: New Vegas. It’s impressive just how lively the NPCs in Vegas are at night, I realised I was really missing out by sleeping through the dark hours in that game

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        For me, finding that using my Orc’s Barbarian Rage makes distinguishing my opponents from my teammates rather difficult, since they ended up wearing similar helmets, is probably a more distinctive problem – the consoles can probably handle more AI, just not in a “Hey, these guys are working together – they must be on the same team!” distinctively unique way from a different group.

        Titanfall, for example, IIRC, runs on 360 with plenty of AI mooks – but I’d not be surprised to find both team’s AI mooks and Titans in AI mode act exactly the same way.

    • Someone says:

      I think you just described the whole game there

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    7:20 – Its ok for you to say that the ai here is more impressive than in thiaf.Dont hold back.

  11. 4th Dimension says:

    And still no health potions bought. This is going to be a looon season.

  12. ACman says:

    Now you can have somebody say “Be Careful with That Axe Eugene.” and not have it sound creepy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMpGdG27K9o

  13. Raygereio says:

    I don’t see the problem with the “82% of the stormcloaks remaining” progress bar. Yeah, there’s no way your character would now that he just killed 28% of the enemy forces, but that’s not what that is. It’s there to give the player a sense of progression during a fairly lengthy combat.

    Also: someone did a cool thing.

    • Thomas says:

      But the idea of percentages seems like a mismatch in tone. Statistics don’t feel very fantastical. 32/50 at least would have seemed more reasonable.

      But better still, wave counts give you a sense of progress and don’t take you out of the world after every single kill. If you wanted to go really fancy you could give the waves names (like ‘initial’, ‘reinforcements’, ‘final reserves’ etc). I know they’re counting player kills not waves, but that whole idea is frankly weird and they should make the attempt to disguise it at least a little from the player.

      • Faren says:

        They aren’t counting player kills though. The kills that your side get count too, they just take a lot longer because both side is worthless without the player.

      • Humanoid says:

        How about actual tangible objectives like ‘destroy the cat-apults’ instead? A series of objectives like that would make it easier to disguise the lack of scale in the actual engagement.

        • Veloxyll says:

          Would also make more sense, given that everyone is always “You’d be useless as a regular solider. Go do something heroic to their catapaults.”

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I think just numbering the waves, like most games do, would’ve been a better idea there.

        I think another aspect is just how “non-Medieval” the font they’re using is. I’m not particularly peeved by that because this particular font is easy to read, but it feels a little weird to be in this Medieval setting and receiving updates in a clearly modern font.

    • Gruhunchously says:

      Couldn’t they have done that while still keeping within the general theme of the setting though?

      Like a message saying ‘Only and handful of Stormcloaks remain’ or having some NPC call out something to that effect. Using a percent indicator seems incongruous in a setting where such precise calculations are not likely to be common.

      I mean, it’s a trivial thing in the long run, but it is curious why they went that particular route. It’s a disconnect between the setting and the interface that makes everything ring false, if only for a moment.

      • Raygereio says:

        Well, you can give the exact same complaint about “only a handful of enemies” remain. How would your character know that? For that matter, how would your character know the exact ammount of health of an enemy? There will always be a disconnect because it’s a game and not reality. You’re not swinging a sword, you’re clicking your mouse.
        I’m just not a fan of “My immersion is ruined”-style complaints in general.

        • Thomas says:

          But ‘a handful of enemies remain’ is way more in tone than an actual percentage. It’s part of the baggage of conceptions we have about medieval works that makes %’s seem out of place. And %’s in a battle seem particularly out of place because it’s too precise on this sort of scale.

          And if you wanted to fridge logic it, then knowing a handful of enemies remain is way less weird than a %. Just pop your head over the wall and say ‘hmm there’s a small number of people still out there.’ Whereas a % involves a detailed count and then adding up everyone who died and making sure no-ones in a tent or hidden behind a catapult.

          Saying there ‘a lot’ of skittles in a bag of skittles is always less weird than saying there are 28 skittles, 72.6% of a full bag

          • RandomInternetMan says:

            To me, this is such a strange way to look at numbers and their representation.

            …Wait, are you the one responsible for us getting health and mana bars instead of actual numbers in the UI?

            *sharpens his +76% fire damage pitchfork*

    • Humanoid says:

      Well, good to know the Stormcloaks were giving it 110% effort.

    • Hal says:

      The funny thing is that the Storm Call shout renders these quests completely trivial. Even at the lowest level, you’ll kill any of these soldiers with one lightning bolt, so you can wipe out the entire opposing side with negligible effort.

      Of course, you’ll also kill all of your own soldiers and really piss off the immortal NPCs, but all the same.

      Edit: Ho hum, this should have been a reply to the comment chain above this one. The point stands.

      • SAD1 says:

        “Call Dragon” is the best Shout for these Battles, just call in the air-force, sit back and watch your enemies burn and the Progress Bar fall!

  14. Neil W says:

    Jarl Carl started as a thrall, was promoted to huscarl then ruled over all.

    • Mathias says:

      Unfortunately “thrall” is pronounced in the same way “all” is, so that doesn’t quite hit the mark. 7/10, would show others.

      • I’m not sure I understand this comment. Were you meaning to say “isn’t” pronounced the same?
        I assumed he was going for a rhyme; if it is pronounced the same that would not be unfortunate, it would be what you want, right? Is there something else going on in that line that I’m not getting?
        Making it more confusing for me is that everyone I know does pronounce “thrall” the same as “all”, which would make your comment correct as written except for the “but it’s not unfortunate” thing. Let’s see . . . “thrall” is an old Norse/Anglo Saxon term; there might be a slight shift to how a Viking-type character would pronounce it, but then they should pronounce “all” funny too, making them the same again.

        • Mathias says:

          It was more that if he was going for everything being a pun on “Jarl,” the pronounciation didn’t match up. But if he was going for rhyming, then it was basically perfect.

          …I may or may not have typed up that comment at really early in the morning.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The reason why this siege turned into an outright assault is because they know how small the army in the city was.Theres like 20 guards.

    • Veloxyll says:

      There were only that many Stormcloaks, too, though.

      • Tizzy says:

        Both factions have few troops, and so they spend their time trying to catch the other out of position. Hence the assault: a siege would simply leave the Stormcloacks open to a pincer attack by reinforcements, or leave their depopulated holds open to an easy grab.

        Skyrim is very Starcraft-like in this way…

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      Also, attempting to starve out Whiterun while sitting outside in winter conditions is not ideal…especially when the player character probably sold them a bunch of stuff they could use to sell to buy more food in advance, if not equip more soldiers.

      At least an assault makes the most of what little element of surprise they have left.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I mean, let’s be honest. A siege wouldn’t have worked either.

      Catburt would just charge outside and murder everyone…. much like he did here.

  16. Blov says:

    None of the Ulfric speech :'( but that’s like… actually pretty good and I like the voice acting and it makes by far the best case for the Stormcloaks in the game, and I like him and Galmar’s relationship and so on.

    Also that siege is *way* more satisfying as the Stormcloaks.

  17. Lachlan the Mad says:

    This probably doesn’t have anything to do with this video (haven’t finished ep 19 yet), but I have a suggestion for a quest that nobody ever does because it’s stupid, and since Spoiler Warning is all about quests which nobody will ever do because they’re stupid, you should totally do this stupid quest.

    After you’ve visited Paathurnax, you can return to the Blades HQ (which most players never do since they ditch the Blades the second they aren’t plot-essential). If you let slip to the blades that Paathurnax is sitting on top of the mountain, the Blades are all like “OH A DRAGON? YOU SHOULD TOTES KILL IT!”, and they give you the quest to go and slay Paathurnax.

    Most players won’t do this, because Paathurnax is a pretty cool dude. But Reginald Catbert is all about random dragon murder, and he should totally take on this quest.

    (Incidentally, it’s one of the few ways to change the end of the game).

    • Ciennas says:

      Actually, they force it on you regardless. If you keep it to yourself, they magically realize who the reclusive fellow who hangs out behind an impenetrable storm wall.

      It’s an interesting idea, but by golly do I hate the binary states this mission has. No negotiating a truce between the greybeards and the blades, no promising to do it when paarthurnax proves a threat, and no chance of otherwise weaseling out of it in a way that makes sense within the context of the setting.

      Blurgh, railroading.

      • spades says:

        It also doesn’t help that the consequence for refusing to kill Paarthunax is really insignificant. The Blades are a very minor faction (even if the player helps build them up) and Paarth never turns evil anyway.

    • Humanoid says:

      Would have loved to be able to tell them “I’m going to do what the Thalmor couldn’t” as you slip a blade between their ribs, yes. And then murder all the Greybeards anyway. Reginald Catbert is about random everything murder.

      • Mathias says:

        Also, you can’t murder the Blades for suggesting it because they’re plot-critical NPC’s. Even after you complete the main quest and they shouldn’t be.

  18. Veloxyll says:

    Damn it Josh! Stop jumping, you are literally making me sick!

    Also, Catbert is kind of a feline, so he can probably manage raw steak.

  19. See, this is why you need Rutskarn here. Ulfric sits on the pastry and Mumbles cries, “You assassinated the sweetroll!”

    Rutskarn would’ve said, “ASS-ASSinated, you say?”

  20. C0Mmander says:

    So do you guys intend to do a new intro sequence soon. I think you have enough material by now if you’re interested.

  21. Mintskittle says:

    Techno Moose…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qBikFUV8oE

    I don’t think this is what the moose was listening to.

    Maybe it should have been Techno Goose?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=920UjGkiczQ

  22. Kyte says:

    Ulsweet Rollcloak

  23. Merkel says:

    Fun fact, the “were” in werewolf specifically refers to a male human, a female werewolf would be a wifwolf.

  24. McNutcase says:

    My wife actually came in to find out why the heck I was killing myself laughing when Josh blasted Balgruuf off the wall.

    And I was only watching because I was done writing for the night.

  25. Grudgeal says:

    Am I the only one who keeps expecting Tullius to sign you off with “ave, true to Caesar” every time and keeps getting disappointed when he inevitably never does?

  26. Tizzy says:

    ” Die, Dog!”, says the Stormcloack to the Cat. Nice touch…

  27. Andy says:

    Jarl Carl House, formerly a housecarl named Carl House, of House Carl (little-known rival of House Grey-Mane).

  28. Pat says:

    Regarding the empire presence in Solitude (at least, my theory):

    Solitude hosted the seat of the High King of Skyrim (Torygg) until Ulfric killed him. I guess the empire would like to to have some force close to the High King to assure he stays loyal to the empire. Thus having the main base of operations in the capital would seem (historically) logical.
    After Toryggs death, when his wife Elisif becomes the jarl of Solitude, the empire tries to put Elisif forward as the new High Queen, since there is already a bond between the empire and the jarl of Solitude.

    This makes Solitude a high value target for the stormcloaks, as the moot might try to call Elisif the new High Queen, which would strengthen the empires influence in Skyrim. To make sure that that won’t happen, Ulfric will have to deal with Elisif, and the empire will have to try to keep Elisif in their grasp.

    If the empire would have focused its attention to the south of Skyrim after the loss of Torygg, they might have been able to hold more cities, but they would lose their prime candidate for the position of High King and would thus (in the long run) be confronted with a new High King of unknown allegiance, or in the worst case, Ulfric himself.

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