It isn’t a question right now that if you want maximum efficiency in your game, you are going to need all three banners, which means you are going to have to grind through the progression quest at least twice.
But if the devs really intend that the banners be “choices to consider” at the start of the game, then the balance really needs to be looked at.
Right now, the ultimate first choice is Banner of Cunning because it boosts the overall efficiency of the town by a lot!
Obviously you need to build roads for this, but that’s like the simplest thing and only has to be done once. After that, your hearthlings will spend a lot less time traveling between places and will spend more time actually working.
Banner of Vitality boosts plant growth and wood yield, but…
Unless your computer is buff enough to handle more hearthlings, you don’t need that much food, and even so, you would probably have enough spare workers to add an extra farmer.
As for wood… now that trees yield seeds, replanting them is the simplest thing so you’ll always have a steady income of wood. Besides, if you pick cunning instead, you can simply buy your wood from the massive hoard of gold it helps you generate.
Banner of Strength is likewise not so useful.
Unless you pop your town right on top of a mountain, your time saved on less mining will be spent on traveling between the mine and the town. (This can be circumvemted by popping crates near the mine then moving it, but that just adds micromanagement, which isn’t cool.)
With Banner of Cunning mixed with the new stall mechanism, you could theoretically hide inside a mountain, have 3 masons produce the highest value thing, pop a bunch of stalls, and live forever off food you buy.
Achieving a perfect balance is obviously not possible. Nor is needed anymore, since anyone who wants the best out of this will just re-embark twice to get all three. Still, something has to be done so there wouldn’t be anymore obvious right choices at the start.
Something like this perhaps?
Banner of Vitality
- +20% plant growth
- +20% faster harvest
- +15% movement speed near plants
- +5% Hearthling HP
- 3x plant appeal
Banner of Strength
- +33% mining yield
- +10% off-road movement speed
- +5% Hearthling muscles (more damage)
- +2 bakcpack space per hearthling
- no cramped environment thought
Banner of Cunning
- 3x road speed bonus
- 2x merchant stocks
- +50% merchant gold
- -50% stall cooldown time
- -25% off prices at merchants (instead of higher sell value)
- slightly higher chance for merchants to carry “quality” items