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Einander
Sep 14, 2008

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.



Let's Play Rondo of Swords!

Rondo of Swords was released in Japan as "Rondo of Deception" on August 7, 2007 by Success Corporation. You might know them for the Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja or The Dark Spire DS dungeon crawler games, all three of which Atlus localized and published in North America. Back home, Success is also known for the Cotton series of shmup games.

You might notice that dungeon crawlers and shmups are two of the more merciless genres. Dark Spire, in particular, is known for its spitefulness. This is because Success Corporation hates you.

Tell me about Rondo of Swords.

Rondo of Swords is a rather unconventional tactical RPG. While the game takes place on a turn-based grid, you attack by moving through enemies. You can attack as many enemies as you pass through.

But wait, you may ask. If that's the case, then how you can make defensive lines? If the enemy can just walk right through your units, can't they just go right for your more fragile ones?

Yes. Yes they can.

Welcome to Rondo of Swords.

In Rondo of Swords:
- None of the between-map systems are explained.
- Recruiting more units can lock you out of additional between-maps content, including items necessary for character promotions.
- Many of your units are fragile.
- You aren't allowed to see how much damage you'll do or take before attacks. Make your best guess!
- You aren't allowed to see dodge or counter chances (though both are rare).
- You aren't allowed to see enemy attack or magic ranges either. Sure, all enemy bowmen might have the same base range... But then they start getting +range skills.
- You don't see enemy skill levels, which could let you judge the above.
- The game doesn't have permadeath, but losing a unit on a map will result in that unit having halved stats on the next map -- in a game with subtraction-based attack and defense.

Despite all of this, Rondo of Swords is perfectly possible to complete. I quite like it, even. You just have to know what you're doing.

Thread rules and format:
1) No spoilers. The game's plot isn't exceptional, but it does some good things here and there. Don't spoil future events, even in tags.
2) I'm not going to open voting for characters, and I'm not going to show off every character. I'll talk about what they can do and their skill list, but Rondo of Swords isn't forgiving enough for goon roster selection. The New Game+ run will be an exception, because it's New Game+. There will be voting at certain points in the game, and I'll say when.
3) This is a fresh run. New Game+ exists, but I haven't even unlocked it on the game I'm using.
4) I'll post updates every other day (except in the case of small interval updates or corrections, which will be posted between main updates).
5) Some scenes are voice-acted, but it's relatively rare outside of combat. There isn't enough action in cutscenes to warrant video, but I'll post tindeck links to particularly important bits of voice acting. This will otherwise be a screenshot LP.
6) In the actual update posts:
This is in-game dialogue.
These are stage directions -- things like "Camera pans down to street." -- or my comments.

List of Updates:

Run 1 (Normal)
1: Escape from Egvard (just below!)
2: Bandits of Gareh
2.5: Department of Errata, Corrections, and Expansions: Part 1 (Chapters 1/2)
3/3.5: A Kidnapping
4: The Dark Forest
5: Reunion
5.5: Errands
6: The Red Lion
7: Wise Bandits
8: Harbor and Pirates
9: Pirate Island
10: Across the Desert
11: Fatima Fortress
Tutorials, Part 1: Tutorials 1-4
12: The Ark Magicians
Tutorials, Part 2: Tutorials 5-8
13: Thunder Emperor (assassination)
13.5: Thunder Emperor (kill everyone)
Tutorials, Part 3: Tutorials 9 and 10
14: Voice of Darkness (Retreat)
14.5: Voice of Darkness (Victory)
15: Mountain Battle
16: Young Lions
17: Winter Storm
18: Free Verona
19: Underground Prison

Route B:
20: The Fated Hour
21: Heart of Steel
22: The Divine Emperor
23: Cost of Betrayal
24: Three-Way Battle
25: Recapture
26: Bretwalde Liberated
27: Pursuit
28: Roadside Stone
29: Grand Bridge
30: Mountain Crossing
31: Fortress City
32: Battle for Romadia
33: The Calm Before
34: Rovencrone
35: The Dark Legion
36: Across the Darkness
37: The Successor
Bonus: New Game+
38: Castle of Darkness
39: Emperor's Shield
40: Dream's End

Route B Map and Final Party Status

Run 2 (Misfit Run)
6-11: Misfit Run Catch-Up, Part 1
12-19: Misfit Run Catch-Up, Part 2
20: The Fated Hour
21: Order of Darkness
22: The Snow Thaws
23: Feudal Alliance
23.5: Mechanical Sidebar: Why Rukia Is So Bad
24: For Whose Sake?
25: The Lords' Trap
26: Red Lions Redux
27: The Crown Prince
28: With His Allies
29: War of Liberation
30: The Promised King
31: Premonition
32: Siege Defense
33: Diversion
34: By The Holy Blade
35: To The Sealed Cave
36: Burning World
37: Land Of Ice
38: Sky of Lightning
39: Light, Dark, and...
39.5: Epilogue

Route A Final Status + All Unshown Promotions

Einander fucked around with this message at Nov 29, 2013 around 01:19

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Einander
Sep 14, 2008

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

Saved, but never used.

Einander fucked around with this message at Mar 17, 2014 around 05:11

Einander
Sep 14, 2008

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

Chapter 1: Escape From Egvard
(or, "Works As Designed")




Every battle begins with one of these scrolling screens. They're one of the few things I have a script for!

150 years after Holy King Altrius vanquished the Darkness, war loomed again on the continent of Bravord.

In Bretwalde, bastion of the Central Plains between four great powers, it had been days since the Sage King Elliott's passing.

Crown Prince Serdic arranged for his father's funeral, but the solemn occasion was disrupted by invaders. The powerful Grand Meir Empire attacked Egvard, Bretwalde's capital city in a blitzkrieg strike; its overpowering numbers and surprise attack routed Bretwalde's forces.

Bretwalde, which flourished through the Holy King's actions, was on the verge of destruction. Many believed it would soon be no more.

In summer of Vern year 382, the green of the leaves was darkening...





The bottom screen here is the same for all story scenes. You'd expect them to use it for something like past dialogue, especially since there's no rewind key, but...

Of course, DS games being a little lazy about the double screens is nothing new.


Surrender now! There will be no escape, I promise you that!





If you can make it to the road, you should be able to escape. I'll stay here and hold them off. Now, go!

Margus, wait!

Look, Kay. The only thing we have to do right now is protect Prince Serdic.





Prince Serdic!

Margus, you will come with me. There's no need to slow their assault.

Prince Serdic!?

Two are stronger than one, and three stronger than two, no? Know this... The three of us will leave Egvard together and alive.

Yes, your highness! Leave it to me!

...I understand, your Highness. We'll show the Empire what it is to challenge Bretwaldean might.





No, Sir.

Then we have no choice. Capture them, and end this siege on the royal capital.



The layout is fairly simple. We start on a vertical street leading out, with our objective directly south of us. There's a horizontal street just before the city exit, which leads to another vertical street and the southwest gate.






Above us, we have Alberich and several Armored Knights.




Let's take a moment to talk stats.

HP, Attack, Defense, Magic and Move are all what you expect. Every unit has MP, but only mages can use it. Attack versus defense is roughly subtractive (with multipliers), and defense applies to both physical and magical damage. Magic also mitigates some magical damage. Attacks can and will get reduced to zero damage in particularly large mismatches.

The green plus numbers are due to equipment. Every unit has a set weapon, and like Suikoden, it can be improved between missions. It also improves when characters are promoted. (More on that when it becomes relevant.) Any defense additions are due to equipped accessories.

Momentum Counter is the game's aggro mechanic -- it determines enemy targeting priority. Particularly high levels of MC bestow special statuses. I'll cover those as they come up.

OverBreak is essentially the game's Limit Break mechanic. It builds up slowly as you deal or take damage, and jumps up much more when you kill enemies. It starts at zero and caps at three, and is used in one-level increments, with the maximum possible taken each time -- if you have 2.80 OverBreak when you use it, you'll use a level 2 OverBreak and drop to 0.80 meter. (Though it's represented graphically, so maybe it actually takes 1.01 OB. I wouldn't know.)




as one attacking all units in range.

[Bio]
Black-clad cavalier put in charge of the Fifth Division. Seeks to understand Gauss's true intentions.

Each unit with a face has their own OverBreak. This includes bosses. They can and will use it against you, provided they manage to build it up.

Each unit also has their own class. Outside of generic faceless enemies, this is largely aesthetic; there are some shared classes, especially among magic-using characters, but each character has their own stat growth and list of skills.

Alberich will not move, so his stats aren't very relevant. He has a special equip called the Black Ring, which adds 1 Move when equipped. He's set to drop it when he dies.

Naturally, we're going to get it. As mentioned in the OP, attacking in this game requires that you move through enemies. +1 Move is an extremely powerful bonus, and it'll be a while before we find another +Move item, let alone one with no penalty.




It will take about six hits to kill a single Armored Knight, and they'll kill any of us in about three. (Kay in 2, probably.) They'll move once we kill the enemies near our starting position.

Note the ZOC skill. This will force attackers to stop moving, breaking an attack chain, and moves them to an unoccupied space near the attacker. The exact placement of the attacker afterward goes top-to-bottom, left-to-right, from the inside out. Top, bottom, left, right, top, top-left, top-right, far left... So on and so forth.

If the Armored Knights didn't have ZOC, they would be completely unstoppable right now. As it is? We're about to abuse game mechanics for fun and profit.

Only people with portraits have OB.

Stat-wise, it's the opposite situation with the other enemies -- we kill them in two hits, they kill us in about six. They don't do anything interesting. There's a group here about to catch up to us, and another one near the left exit. They won't chase us until we approach. The group includes one slightly stronger unit, with higher stats all around.

Of course, our objective is directly below us, so they don't really matter, do they?




Saber Serdic is very average. He currently has no notable skills, has passable attack, and is decently durable. He will eventually become King Asskicker, but "eventually" is not "today." Tomorrow's not looking good either.

As the leader, we lose if he dies. He also has a correspondingly high Momentum Counter.



The Sword of Promised Victory Brave Ray is kind of bad! You can't move before using it, it can only attack in a straight line, it has friendly fire, and it doesn't do much more damage than his regular attack, especially considering the difficulty in application.

Right now, however, I'm very thankful for it.


[Bio]
The Crown Prince of Bretwalde. With Holy Blade in hand, he aims to restore his homeland.



Margus is our best attacker and defender. He will very quickly become the most important unit in our entire army. Unfortunately, his Momentum Counter starts low -- making enemies target him over other, more fragile units takes careful positioning.



Not for his OB skill, though. I guess if he's at full and other characters aren't, but... He's the tank. It's one of a very short list of multi-target healing, at least. Remember it exists.


[Bio]
A cavalier of Bretwalde who hails from the same town as Kay. He acts as mentor to the younger knight, and has a relentlessly flirtacious streak.



Kay has high movement and decent attack, if notably less durability than the former two. Of more immediate importance is his skillset.

Kay has a skill called Will of War. It regenerates 5% HP per skill rank when you move through him. It's one of a list of similar skills, all of which raise stats for the current move action. Margus has one that raises critical by 2%. I didn't mention it before because it's useless.

Will of War isn't much better normally. One or two points in it can be nice when your skill slot options are low, but higher skill ranks are worth getting only if you really have nothing else to buy. You usually do.

Right now, though? It's golden. Our healing consists of a few equipped items, all of which are before-move only and have one range. Will of War is how we will be staying alive.





Also bad. I think he can kill himself with this. Range is bad, too, and he's both 1) high-ranged and 2) not very durable. If he's in range to use it, he probably doesn't have the health to do so.

[Bio]
A young, hot-tempered cavalier of the Bretwalde army.

Let's get started.



Kay attacks the two units directly below our starting position.



Serdic picks up the spare. Margus moves to the side. This means that the two units directly north can only attack one unit at a time, because the closer unit will prioritize Serdic.

It's worth noting that character facing does affect damage and accuracy, but that you can't rotate units. They'll end their turn in the direction of their last movement. This is yet another thing to be careful about.





Serdic and Kay are attacked by the two survivors.




Second verse, same as the first. Serdic gains his first level and rises to level 1 OB.

He also finishes his turn next to Kay, initiating two conversations. Certain characters have these whenever they are adjacent. There's no in-game indication of this; you just have to guess.

Or use a walkthrough. That works too.





Bretwalde can never truly fall so long as you live, Your Highness. So please, don't do anything rash.

You're right. For the sake of the fallen...

Margus moves down and initiates another conversation.




It's a true relief to see you safe and sound, Your Highness. After all, if we lost you, Princess Marie would cry... And making a woman cry is against my personal code.

Marie, eh...?

Yes. I hope the Princess is all right...

As do I...

As our turn ends, the enemy below us moves up.



Margus weakens the remaining enemy and ends his turn next to Kay, triggering our third and final conversation of the map.




Isn't the timing of this whole thing a little TOO perfect?

True enough. Coming in the middle of the King's funeral, after he finally succumbed...

The only explanation I can think of is that they were already prepared... Could they have...?

It's possible. But that line of thinking won't do any good now. We have to focus on protecting Prince Serdic.

Right. If we don't get out of here, we'll never know the touch of a woman again...

Exactly!



Serdic finishes the enemy again.

Enemy turn. We've finished the starting enemies, so the armored knights above us begin to move down.



We flee into this alleyway.

Wait, you may ask. Isn't that really dumb? Can't they just run through you? And if they stand in the alleyway, then you can't leave!

But you see, there is a fatal flaw:



When you're making attack routes, you can't backtrack. At all.

Of course, attacking them should bring us out of the alleyway and make us vulnerable... Normally.




Remember the ZOC skill? Well, if you draw a perfectly straight line through these attackers...





...then ZOC will bounce you right back to the alleyway.

If you draw it to the side and then up, you'll die. Don't do that.

This isn't something you can often take advantage of. It requires multiple enemies with ZOC in a narrow chokepoint with some way to keep them from running right through your lines. This situation is just right to abuse it.

You may notice the "Crazed" status displaying on Serdic right now. It lowers all stats by 30% -- compare his current stats to his earlier ones a few screenshots back.

This is a consequence of rising to about 50-80 Momentum Counter. If you attack above certain Momentum Counters, you have a chance of becoming Crazed. It'll wear off occasionally after attacking or receiving damage. Alternatively, raise your Momentum Counter even higher and it'll be replaced with a different status.

This is a side-effect of being counter-attacked. It wears off at the start of the unit's next turn. (Thank you for the correction, Bellmaker!)

Normally it's a complete pain in the rear end. Right now, however, it lets Serdic hit them a few more times before they die. More hits = more OB meter. We want that right now.

We continue this for several more turns.

It's worth noting that every time it comes around to the enemy turn, there's a very long deliberation delay for these armored units.


Please tell me this isn't actually happening.



Oh, it's happening. It's definitely happening.




Now, if we attack, there's a chance we'll bounce out of the alley. We're not taking that chance. Serdic has OB meter, so it's time to use Brave Ray.







"Holy Blade, unleash your power!"

(Displayed damage is capped at current HP, sadly. You'd definitely be able to hit damage caps otherwise later in the game.)



The Knight dies, and the two others move to fill it in. The cycle begins again!




However, after the first attack, Serdic has risen to 81 Momentum Counter, giving him the Boost status. This is guaranteed at 81+ MC. Boost status also makes you immune to all enemy statuses -- it can't be replaced by anything other than the 99 Momentum Counter status.



Serdic wears them down and prepares to kill the second Knight. He doesn't have enough OB to use Brave Ray again, unfortunately, so we're going to have to do this the hard way.

You'll notice Serdic's missing some HP. Units have a chance of countering enemies, and it's much more likely when they're attacked from the front. This does damage and gives the countering unit ZOC if they don't have it, immediately ending the attacker's movement. This version of ZOC will always bounce the attacker back from the direction they attacked.



After the blow, Serdic hits 99 Monentum Counter and gets the Hero status. "Support effects" are the "move through ally" skills, so Serdic now heals 7% HP or gains 3% Critical by moving through Kay or Margus. Like Boost, Hero makes you immune to all other statuses. It's very rare.




Kay and Margus attack, doing just enough damage to kill the third Knight. Margus gets the kill and levels.

Now, Alberich is to the north of us. Alberich does not move, and therefore cannot attack. Alberich is a high level boss. Alberich has a unique item to drop.

It's pretty obvious that the game developers expected the Armored Knights to scare you off. Now that they're gone, he's a sitting duck.

We start to wear him down.





Once Alberich gets to about one-third health, he says a special line. After this point, he'll start moving and attacking.

...on his next turn, anyway. Each player character does about a fifth of his health.

Yes, this is exactly as ineffective as it sounds.



Serdic is high-level enough, and he might kill Alberich if he attacks. Let's give it to someone else.

Kay attacks, and...




...Margus picks up the kill, bringing him to level 3.




We get his accessory for our troubles. After this map, Margus will be wearing it to bring his Move up to the rest of our squad, and he'll keep it just about the entire game.



Prolonged combat will only result in more casualties for my men. If you'll excuse me, Emperor Gauss...

Unable to deal with the stress and sheer implausibility of recent events, Alberich hallucinates about his dead soldiers, becomes intensely concerned about their welfare, and withdraws.

We take a minute to mourn the costs of war...



...and then we move down. Passing a threshold triggers a map event:







Gauss, we agreed those youngsters would be in charge of this mission. Let's let this play out.

Of course... But wouldn't you agree that our troops could use the exercise?

Hmm... You do have a point.

Very well, then; go and show them the glory of our Empire!



Imperial reinforcements!? We must flee the capital right now! Let's make for the south-western gate!



New map conditions!

Meet the Emperor of Grand Meir, Gauss, and two more of his generals.




spirit.

[Bio]
Emperor of Grand Meir. He gained his throne through conquest, and actively seeks control of other nations.



[Bio]
One of the Four Grands, and leader of the Third Division. She began as a bandit, and her troops are still a band of unusual soldiers.



taken their turn.

[Bio]
One of the Grands of the Grand Meir Empire. Has been fighting alongside Gauss since before the Empire was founded. In charge of the Second division.


Hmm. Counting Alberich, that only makes three Grands...

None of them move, but their troops will: they're more Armored Knights, ZOC and all, with one slightly more powerful member. He has a feather in his helmet.



We defeated three of them and only took damage once, but five is clearly right out. Everyone flee!

(In all seriousness: Gauss and his generals can be defeated here, and defeating Gauss will end the map. Clotho, Mattias, and Gauss will each drop a special item, too.

It's not very interesting. Remember what I did with the three Knights earlier? It's that again. You then build up OB meter on Serdic using the other enemies and then repeatedly blast the three generals. They won't become aggressive if you do.

It's not really worth it, either. Sure, Serdic will be about level 20 by the time you finish the map, but that's a
bad thing. Stat growth is determined by class, and characters in this game can promote. Excessive leveling now hurts you later. The items aren't particularly good, either -- they're three accessories that give +10 Attack/MC, +critical rate, and +HP.

This game has a New Game+ mode. I'll show that off when we get there.)

Next turn, after the Armored Knights chase after us...



...we continue running away.

We've crossed another invisible threshold, triggering a second and final end-of-turn event.




More enemies. Continue running, men!



Blue skills are spells. Ernest has every single Lightning spell in the game. (Except one that's unique to a certain character, anyway.)




of a crazed thunder lizard.

[Bio]
One of the Grands, and the commander of the Green Lions, the Fourth Division. Has a big ego and a small intellect.

Meet the final Grand of Grand Meir, Ernest. He's a lightning mage and commands a corps of more mages. The Armored Knights with him won't move until we attack them, and he won't move, but his mages will come after us.

Yes, his OB really does hit everything, his allies included. Yes, he usually commands Mages, who have no durability. Ernest will usually murder every single Mage he still commands when he uses it. It's
hilarious. I dearly hope to show it off at least once.



They have enough MP for four spells, and two spells will kill any of us. Serdic's higher level might allow him to survive two, but that's a dicey proposition. They play it safe, too -- they won't ever advance far enough for us to attack more than one of them. We're best off not messing with them.



Margus is attacked and kills the man for his impertinence.





Serdic and Kay position themselves to lure the two normal units near the bottom and take minor damage. Margus kills the top man, while Kay weakens the second and kills him the next turn. The positioning of Margus and Kay keeps them far enough up the map to force the cautious mage AI to advance more slowly.



Serdic, meanwhile, moves down to the bottom, moving just high enough to lure the strongest enemy.




The enemy moves to the maximum of his attack range, letting Kay land another hit and Margus finish it.







With that done, the map is over.

There are several different kinds of victory, each with their own reward. Generally speaking, lower turn count = better victory. The Black Ring, however, is better than anything this could possibly give us.

Bonus experience is distributed to all units automatically; no FE9/10 BE pool here, sadly.

(Moon Weed is the weakest MP healing item. It'll generally give you enough for maybe half a spell.)




Emir Darsin should help you, Your Highness.

As you say, Margus. Let's go.

Several hours earlier...




Meet Prince Serdic. The other man is Mephreyu, a trusted court aide.

I won't usually post music, but this song plays while Serdic is on-screen in this flashback. I like it, and I'd recommend giving it a listen.


The King's funeral will begin shortly. Please proceed to the cathedral.

All right.

Also... about Princess Marie.

What about her?

It appears she will be late. What shall we do?

...We have no choice but to proceed as planned.

Yes, my Prince.




"???" is never given a name in this scene.

There is much to raise suspicion in this matter. One hopes it is nothing, but just in case... I leave the funeral to you.

Yes, my Prince. In that case, please excuse me.

A few hours later...

There is the sound of an explosion.



Ngh... why is this happening? Prince Serdic... Please be safe...!

There! It's the Crown Prince!

drat!

There's the footsteps. Next, just before the next image fades in, there's the sound of an impact -- the speaker is being hit.



*gasp* Ugh... My wounds are deeper than I thought... This may be the end for me...

There's the sound of a blow being blocked and countered (literally -- it's the exact sequence of sound effects used in combat).



......

Prince Serdic, you're...!

Oh... it's you...



Forget about me... The important thing is that it seems that the Empire isn't our only enemy... I can't believe that they...

"They"? Exactly what happened!?

Take this......

It is Spanta, the holy blade...

This is Bretwalde's royal emblem! Why are you giving it to me...?

Take it... and go... My time is short... it's better that you take it.

You can't mean... What are you saying!?

Hah... I think you know. It's too late for me...

...



To think there was anyone in the world with such an uncanny resemblence to myself...

I surely would have been done in without your help, my Prince. I remembered nothing of my past, and my wounds were grave enough to bode ill for my future...




I-I merely did what was natural!

I have... a final request of you... Will you listen?

O-Of course, my Prince!



...You can't...

During the battle, this Holy Blade was cursed... Bretwalde cannot be saved without Spanta. Find a way to remove this curse.

I... I understand.

If you should meet Marie... my younger sister... look after her.

I will, my Prince.



......!

Now go... Make haste, or your chance to escape will be lost.

This isn't a request for a mercy kill. I'm fairly sure Serdic meant, "when you die (while living as me), I want it to be an honorable death." He won't be remembered as "???", the body-double of the Prince -- they are now historically indistinguishable. No one will know that the real Prince died here today.

...Yes, my Prince.

We are all... relying on you...

Prince Serdic...

Now go!

His body double leaves the scene, escaping the castle.

......

You can hear Serdic collapse here.





Next time: The Bandits of Gareh.

Einander fucked around with this message at Jun 1, 2013 around 18:01

Bellmaker
Oct 18, 2008



Oh, it's this game. I have a soft spot for it, but it's bad. It's basically as helpful with giving out information as Hoshigami, but it's nowhere near as ball-crushingly hard.

Pretty sure "Crazed" only happens when you are countered/ZOCed, and not at 81+ MC. It's applied to the enemy too, though! Not like the game would tell you this (or for that matter, ANYTHING)...

Bellmaker fucked around with this message at Apr 26, 2013 around 02:53

Grizzwold
Jan 27, 2012


Hey, I remember this game. In fact, I actually still have it. I never finished it, though (or got very far at all), so It'll be nice to see what I missed out on.

Edit: I do seem to remember Alberich actually starts coming after you on that turn anyway, no matter what his health is (or if you ignored him entirely).

Yapping Eevee
Nov 12, 2011



I remember checking this game out back in the day, but never actually getting a chance to try it. From the quality of information given, following this LP should suffice.

theshim
May 1, 2012

You think you can defeat ME, Ephraimcopter?!?

You couldn't even beat Assassincopter!!!


After playing through the game legit, I went back and had a level 20 something Serdic after this battle.

That run was a lot more fun.

CrookedB
Jun 27, 2011

Stupid newbee

This is actually one of my favorite SRPGs, in spite of the mechanics being obscure and all the criticism it tends to get. So I'll be following this thread closely.

SaitoBatch
Jun 16, 2009


I like this game a lot, but it's not even a little easy. When you can lose in the training mode, you know it's a special kind of game.

McDragon
Sep 11, 2007



That actually seems like quite an interesting twist early on, that it's not the prince but his double that survives.

Mechanics seem very strange. I do like that little trick with the alleyway though. Silly Armour Knights.

Pladdicus
Aug 13, 2010


Hmm, I'm legitimately interested in this story. The mechanics turned me off but I can't get enough of breaking games over knees so keep at it, following this.

Einander
Sep 14, 2008

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

Update 2: The Bandits of Gareh
(Or, "Baby Steps")




It has been a month since Serdic's flight from Egvard into Darsin's care at the Shalem Federated Emirates. Darsin, his son Ansom, and the Na tribe welcomed Serdic and his men warmly. The camp from Bretwalde passed the time peacefully, never seeking retribution.

Meanwhile, rumors of bandits in the Gareh Mountains began to reach Serdic. Known as the Wise Bandits, they have begun to attack travellers and raid the villages of Shalem.





Oh, it's Ansom, Emir Darsin's son.



Ah, Emir Ansom. Shalem is a fine land... I could happily live out the rest of my days here.

Emir Ansom sounds so distant! Don't you remember when we played in the fields as children?

As a body double, 'Serdic' has likely spent the last few years living in secrecy. He was obviously trained to fight (very well, if he's keeping up with the Knights entrusted with the Prince) and likely briefed on basic knowledge of the kingdom's political affairs, which would be supplemented with more knowledge on a case-by-case just before a job. As someone with amnesia, he hasn't had much other life experience. Now he's been flung out into the wild for a role he was never prepared for, forced to fake his identity among people who share history with Serdic he's ignorant of, one of which is Serdic's sister. The moment he fails and the ruse is discovered, he loses all authority among his men and allies and all power to fulfill Serdic's last wishes. And since the Spanta is the royal emblem of Bretwalde, he'll also lose his bitchin' holy sword in the bargain. He might even be killed, because Margus and Kay already suspect that there's a traitor and he's a very good suspect.

And if he succeeds, he has to rule a kingdom. He has no training, no idea what his duties are, and no exit plan.

Poor ???. His life really,
really sucks right about now, doesn't it?



Meet Sasha. She's a servant of Ansom and his bodyguard, not that you'd know it from the way she talks to him. They're very relaxed in Shalem, aren't they?

Now, now, Sasha... I'm sure you've forgotten by now, Serdic. Distant memories are best refreshed with new, equally pleasant ones.

...Now who's saying too much, Young Master?

A-Anyway, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?



Yes. I'm given to understand that they've begun attacking travelers and nearby villagers.

Thankfully, there haven't been any major incidents, but...

We can't just leave them be.

...Then, would you mind allowing us to deal with the situation?

Is that all right with you?

Think nothing of it. Consider it payment in kind for the Emir's hospitality.

??? is well-versed enough in politics to sense a request-that-isn't-a-request, at least.

Fade to black, end of scene.




This is the preparations screen. Fight!, Save, and Load are all what you'd expect. Errands allows you to send units out to shop, train, and complete quests, but it's currently locked.



Selecting Formation allows you to select and deselect units. Right now, we can take all three of our units into this battle.

Unfortunately, "go into further menus" is X and "select/deselect" is A. This is going to cause me no end of aggravation until I retrain my muscle memory.



If you deselect and reselect a unit, they say a quote and run in from the left, using their movement battle animation. Serdic is required, so no quote.


You face a Knight of Bretwalde!

Easy does it.

(And at this point in the writing, I realize I've gone through the first two updates with my screens flipped. Somehow. Um, oops? Pardon our technical difficulties; it'll be fixed next update onward.)



After selecting "info," we get this screen. Status brings you to the same set of screens as it does in-battle, Gear lets you change accessories and equipped consumables, and Skills sets you level and equip skills.



You have four item slots and four accessory slots per character. There aren't any fixed-slot accessories or items.

By "moderate HP," they mean "60%." Consumable items are ranked in 20% increments, with HP going Raka's Juice -> Pulpy Juice -> Akasha Juice -> Alchemiracle -> Amrita. MP healing items work the same way -- Moon Weed -> Moon Dew -> Peach Nectar -> Hamao Water -> Soma Droplet. Since items can only be used before your turn and end your turn immediately, they don't see much use.

Amulets are +defense items; the Moon Amulet gives +7. The Silver Ring increases MC by 3 points. Generally speaking, you'll be buying as many amulets as possible and cramming them into every available slot. Tanks! Rogues! Healers! Mages! Archers! It's all amulets for everyone all the time! You could get other accessories, but the vast majority of them suck and amulets help you
not die.



Margus gets the Black Ring, along with Serdic's Silver Ring. Enemies are already attracted to Serdic's succulent imitation princeflesh, thanks to his high base MC; slathering him with enemy-attracting honey is overkill. By default, Margus comes with a +5 Defense Ebon Amulet, a Raka's Juice, and a Pulpy Juice.



Kay, meanwhile, has the same two consumables and a Copper Ring, because Kay is young and stupid and has not learned the value of amulets. Copper Rings are part of a line of red-colored +attack rings, going +2/+4/+6. You might notice we have a +7 Defense Amulet right now. The strongest amulet is +25 Defense, but you'll have an entire army's worth of +12-+17 amulets by endgame.

The Prosecution rests, Your Honor.




Selecting Skills brings you to two submenus, which allow you to learn and to equip skills. You get a certain number of skill points every time you level, the amount increasing as you level, while characters learn additional skills as they level. As the highest level character, Serdic has the most skills and skill points, so we can buy a pretty sum right now.

Learning skills costs 1/2/4/6/8 points, and as you'll see at the bottom, you can have a maximum of 12 skills equipped at one time. Most characters have about 30 skills to learn, with learnable skills split roughly equally across their class promotions. (It still isn't time to talk about how or when you promote.) All non-spell skills scale linearly. As a result, it's much more efficient to spread your points out among your available skills, buying a broad base of weaker skills -- after all, going from level 3 to level 4 only costs one point less than going to level 3 in another skill.

Serdic's skill list is roughly split. He learns to be equal parts damage and tank, with each of his promotions jiggering the balance a little -- the more naturally offensive promotion gets more tanking, the more naturally defensive promotion gets more offense.

The exact numbers are provided for the curious.

Ultimately, I decide to buy these skills:
Stand Fast (Level 3): Increases base defense (before Amulets) by +6%/12%/18%/24%/30%
Frontal Blow (Level 2): Increases damage when you attack from the front by +6%/12%/18%/24%/30%
Duelist (Level 2): Increases damage when attacking one (and only one) enemy unit by 10%/20%/30%/40%/50%

(And no, Rondo of Swords doesn't tell you the percentages. Frontal Blow says "increased damage when," while Duelist says "deals more damage when." Figuring out that Duelist provides bigger numbers requires either 1) testing, 2) genre savvy or 3) a guide. There's an excellent one on GameFAQs, which I'm using for all my numbers here.)


The other available skills, for reference, are:
Foresight: Increases evasion chance (exact numbers unknown)
Valor Bonds: Increases Support (run through an ally) skill effects received by 10%/20%/30%/40%/50% (multiplicative, not additive -- 10% is turned into 15% by VB5)
Note: There's a dummied out skill, War Cry, that does the same in the other direction -- it improves the Support bonuses that others receive from you. They stack additively! 100% more effect! ...still not very impressive.
Karma Strike: Increases counter attack damage (again, exact numbers unknown)
Eternal Rage: Restores HP and MP after leveling by 20%/40%/60%/80%/100%
Knight Codex: Increases MC gauge by +5/10/15/20/25 (active ability; requires a turn to use; the action of using an active ability gives you +3 MC, so add 3 to these numbers)

Margus is a good example of the "spread your points out" philosophy. He has four skills right now, and he has just enough points to put a few in all of them.

As the tank, Margus receives no skills to improve his attack or damage. His attack base and growth are good but the lack of skills means he'll eventually lag behind quite a bit. In return, he learns just about every defensive skill that isn't dummied out. Margus never dies!

Margus's level is very important right now. Margus needs to be level 9 by the start of stage 6 -- failing to do so is going to make that one a great deal more aggravating. I'll be working on it.

Stand Fast (Level 2): Increases base defense by +6%/12%/18%/24%/30%
Rook (Level 2): Increases base defense by 5%/10%/15%/20%/25%, lowers counter attack rate by (unknown)
Note: Yes, it's strictly worse than Stand Fast, having both lower numbers and a penalty. They stack, so who cares?
Invoke Life (Level 1): Increases max HP by 8%/16%/24%/32%/40%.
Rally (Level 1): Support skill; increases ally critical rate by 2%/4%/6%/8%/10%.

(He comes with the point in Rally, and he doesn't have twelve skills yet; it's useless, but it's not actively offensive to me, so I keep it. For the curious, critical hits do about 1.25x damage and ignore defense.)


Kay, being the lowest level, only has two skills available. He came with both skills at level 1. I go ahead and raise Will of War to level 2, saving the rest of his points.

As you might expect, most of Kay's skills focus on improving his damage output. He will eventually, however, get a surprising number of defensive skills. His defense growth is initially only a little worse than Margus, and it catches up the moment they promote, so his survivability remains solid.

Invoke Might (Level 1): Increases base attack (before weapon/accessories) by 5%/10%/15%/20%/25%
Will of War (Level 2): Support skill; heals allies by 5%/10%/15%/20%/25%

I'll summarize skill names and numbers in future; you won't get big number lists like this every time our party levels and there's suddenly six new skills. I just wanted to give you an idea of the usual scale of the numbers involved.

Unless you all like the numbers and say so, I guess? Lord knows that anyone into SRPGs has a certain amount of number fetishism. I'm not here to judge.

Right! With that done, it's time for the map.



This map is meant to be your first "real" map. Last time, the focus was on running away. Now you're supposed to fight.

It's a complete pushover. Even Kay can nearly kill the enemies in one hit when attacking from the side, and it's nearly impossible for Serdic or Margus to die with any degree of intelligent play. (Kay might if you're dumb about his OB. It hurts him, remember.) We're still a few levels from a real challenge.







We start in the bottom left. To our right is a few bandits and a whole lot of nothing. There is even more nothing at the top left! The enemies are largely clustered up in the top right, standing around in a bunch of wasteland. That's the dark brown tiling. This map serves as your introduction to terrain.

Take a moment to look at the bottom right of the following two screenshots.




(Pay no attention to the placement discrepency in this screenshot; it isn't important.)

See the "2" on the tile picture? "Waste" tiles cost 2 movement to enter and provide a 20% defensive penalty. "Grass" costs 2 to enter and provides a 10% defensive bonus. Unlike most strategy games, mounted units do not face increased movement penalties from obstructing terrain. As I recall, there is exactly one flying unit in the entire game, and she's a mage. It's not really a big thing.

Terrain can be very useful, much more than Fire Emblem or Advance Wars or the like. This stage is good at showing you that.

By the way, since I forgot to show it off last time, the Menu option button:



"Save" is the standard DS suspend save; you're returned to title, you pick "continue" instead of "load," the suspend save is deleted. "Goal" shows you the objective screen again. "Team" is a little more interesting.



It's a basic little status summary. "Info" brings you to the status screen. Afterward, that character will be selected. It's useful if you manage to lose someone, I guess?



The "Skills" tab shows you all of the skills your characters have equipped... But not who *has* them equipped. I am trying to think of a way to make this useful and failing. The "Magic" tab is that, but for magic. That's more useful, I guess -- character spell availability is limited enough that you can tell who has what. (More on that later this update.)



"Quit" is, surprisingly enough, the most useful option. A retry button! Isn't that beautiful? Better yet, the "Reform the party" option lets you return to the preparations screen with all options available, letting you select skills and characters for the enemies on the map. It's not as ideal as just giving the player an FE-style "see map, arrange formation" option on the preparations screen, but it's still nice.



For our first move, I advance Serdic. See the enemy movement range displayed? He's on the last tile of that enemy's movement in his direction. Remember, enemies need to complete a movement action to attack, and they can't backtrack. This means that if I position Margus or Kay on the tile to the right, his positioning will protect them from any attacks.

Since someone's taken an action, the game checks for available conversations, and Kay and Margus are right next to each other.





Yeah. They're hoodlums who work out of the Gareh Mountains. They claim to be "gentleman thieves."

Gentlemen thieves, huh? Yet they raid villages...

I've heard their boss frowns on that kind of thing, but it looks like he's not around these days. Sometimes when you try to reach out, your hand gets slapped back. It happens pretty often.

Uh... who are you talking about?

The first two maps establish a trend -- Margus, as the older knight and Kay's mentor, will often explain the situation in greater depth to Kay. While totally optional, these are some of the more important conversations; even if you drop Kay later on (you will never drop Margus, not ever), you should bring him into each map and see if Margus has something to say.

We end turn.

Down at the bottom of the map, someone walks in.




For those who have yet to develop anime genderdar, that's a boy.

Looks like they're taking on some bandits. I should help...

Meet Selmer, our first allied mage. Right now, he's an Other unit, under computer control.




next player phase.

[Bio]

An Ice warlock from Almeria. He joined the Bretwalde Army under the orders of his master, Arios. Though a boy, he is one of Almeria's preeminent magicians.

Holy poo poo, that durability. Wow.

(Word from the future, to give you a frame of reference: Right now, the pathetically weak enemies hit a level 3 Kay for 57 damage. Kay has 160% Selmer's defense, and "high defense growth" is "nearly a point every level." Bases are important.)

As you can tell by the defense score and especially the HP, mages in this game are made of tissue paper. Mages or healers that can survive one physical hit are durable by mage standards. Since Magic is the main stat used in calculating spell defense, allied mages can usually survive one spell, but two is unlikely. Be careful with them.

(This might change later in the game, but it's a good rule of thumb. Remember how I said that you can't see the damage an attack will do any time before it hits? Yeah. By the time a mage might get to "survives two hits," you've learned not to try your luck.)

Now that we have an allied mage, let's talk about magic! Mages can only cast spells before moving, and most of them can't attack directly -- if you move through an enemy, nothing happens. Think of them like Advance Wars indirects and you'll get the idea. As you'd expect, spells cost MP. If a Mage is out of MP and they have no MP restoration items, then they're done for the map; MP does not regenerate naturally. Spell MP cost, range, and power are determined by skill level, and spells advance the same way as other skills. Each spell also takes up one of the mage's 12 skill slots. Right now, Selmer has level 2 White Dust, which has 6 range and costs 16 MP.

There are five elements: Ice, Lightning, Fire, Darkness, and Light. The game's four healer characters specialize in Light, and there's one mage character for each of the other four elements. (Well, the final healer is special, and there's three other mages with different rules, but we'll get there.) The four elemental mages all have the class of Sorcerer, which promotes into Warlock and then Rune Master. There's four spells per element available to the Sorcerers, with the ultimate spell of each element being locked to the third class (fourth Sorcerer excepted) and each Sorcerer getting a smattering of other spells.

Poor Selmer is hamstrung by his join time. He would be okay, maybe even good, if he just joined later in the game! Ice is a good element, having the undisputed best multi-target spell (outside of a special mage, who cheats) and a good long-range ultimate, and he's the only one who gets Ice Shard to strengthen his Ice spells and Arcane Ice to make them cheaper. He's also one of only three mages to get the powerful Torus Spell ability, allowing him to regenerate up to 20% MP every single turn, and he gets it earlier than anyone else.

Unfortunately, he joins at a point where he can only cast three spells before he's out. A level or two will bring it up to four, but if you level his attack spell up to level 3, he can cast two. We have a grand total of one MP healing item, and Selmer joining brings the list of MP healing items up to two. With both of them, he can get 60% of his MP back. Two spells! To add insult to injury, he doesn't get that useful multi-target spell until promotion, he's one of two Sorcerers who doesn't join as a Warlock, and he's actually the only Sorcerer who has no access to other elemental ultimate spells -- the second Sorcerer has one of them, the third (first Warlock) has two of them, and the fourth (second Warlock) has all of them.

(This is actually pretty far down on the list of reasons to use her. It's a long list.)

So at this point, his magic isn't very long-ranged, using it slows your advance, he has no durability, he has MP issues, and he is worse than useless once he's out of MP. Sure, Selmer might be good if you stick with him, but it's really hard to justify doing that when other mages are ready to go from the moment they join.



The enemies advanced right into our faces during their turn, because the CPU in this stage is set to "stupid."





Kay and Margus teach them the error of their ways, bringing Margus to level 4. Serdic had his moment of glory last map, so he'll mostly be sitting this one out.



Selmer advances. He'll go to the right side and advance up there.

"But wait, my dear fellow!" You may cry, fearfully adjusting your monocle. "Mages are fragile and the AI is stupid! However shall he survive without our aid?"

See how he's surrounded by wasteland? He has a ranged attack, they don't. Selmer is going to be just fine.

More importantly, we don't have to talk to him to recruit him, chasing after him is slow going with the wasteland there, and Other units don't get experience from kills. If you go north and circle around, you can kill the two bandits in the middle left before they kill themselves on Selmer.



We repeat the earlier trick with enemy movement ranges as we approach the next group of doomed bandits.







Spirits!

Selmer kills a man by summoning dozens of little shards of ice. White Dust is a multi-hit spell, and it's strong enough to one-shot this bandit.

Now, because I'm LPing this, I had time to look at this spell frame-by-frame and think about how that'd actually work.

...yeah, don't do that. Wow. White Dust should be illegal, and I'm not talking about powder.

Let's distract ourselves from this brutal child soldier murder by acts of brutal adult-on-adult murder.






That's better.

I already know Kay will kill any of the bandits he hits from the side, so I have him kill one and have Margus take the other. Serdic follows up behind. Our young war criminal continues moving up the right side.



On our next turn, Kay begins our assault on the upper right. Random variance allows him to kill both, gaining another level.



The bandits haven't moved, so Margus is able to kill one of the two Bandits in the path of Selmer. It's a mercy, really, compared to what was awaiting him. Serdic will kill the last one down there, while Margus and Kay will kill the ones up top.





After a turn of moving and preparation, they hit Serdic and Margus for utterly laughable damage. Yes, that's *after* the health bars finish scrolling.



And Margus was hit by the "boss" when he took that much damage, even. Look at the little guy. He's so ineffective but he looks so happy! Look at that sprite grinning down there.

(Each unit has a "when selected" sprite, for those who haven't noticed before. Serdic and Kay raise their fists, Margus gives you a thumbs-up.)

Maybe he wasn't really trying to attack Margus. That would certainly explain the damage.



Margus attacks The Happiest Bandit. Serdic's already killed the one who hit him.



The boss high-fives Kay with a little too much enthusiasm. Kay's kinda fragile compared to Margus; it's not really his fault.

Plus, you know, the horse. He had to jump.





I'm Selmer, a magician from Almeria. My master Arios ordered me to find you and help as best I can.

Almeria's mages have taken an interest in me?

You've previously been a friend to us quite often, Prince Serdic. We cannot sit idly by while you're in danger.

I've... helped you, have I?

Is something the matter?

In any event, your aid is appreciated. It's a pleasure to meet you, Selmer.

Serdic talks to Selmer. Again, this isn't required; Selmer will join regardless. But hey, Serdic doesn't have anything better to do. We're just about done.

Edit: Additionally, Margus has his own conversation with Selmer.




My, my, what a cute young lady...

Wh-Who...?



Note the new expression, then forget it exists. It's better that way.

Ummm, I'm a boy.

You--I--Wha--a BOY!?

...You don't have to act THAT shocked...

Sorry... I need to be alone now.

R-Right...

Of all the... Is my judgment that off nowadays?




It's at this point that I realize:

1) Kay has 3 OB.
2) Kay has very nearly full health.
3) There's a bandit above Kay that needs to die, and nothing can attack Kay afterward. If this kills, anyway. It should kill, it's 3 OB!

...well, there's never going to be a better opportunity to show this off, is there?

You'll notice the range is much larger than I remembered. The fact I didn't remember its range says a lot about it, really.



I won't be stopped!







The attack does 128 damage, capped at enemy max HP. Kay also loses 128 HP, going down to 30 HP.

Testing against Happy Bandit shows that it does 129, or 60% of Kay's max HP, to both himself and the target. Additionally, it can't kill Kay -- if 60% of max is enough to drop him, then he'll do enough damage to drop him to 1 HP instead.

Yes, the damage is 1:1 health lost:damage dealt, and it's just barely enough to kill a bandit. I told you Kay's OB is bad. It's less dangerous to him, yes, and yet it's somehow even more useless than I remembered.

(Watch it somehow save my bacon later. Killing an archer, maybe? We'll see.)




In one leg of the Trousers of Time, I realize that Kay is hurt, Margus has nearly full health, and Margus has 1 OB.



I'm prepared for anything.







It healed 64 to Kay and did 64 to Margus. So, 20% of Margus's max HP at level 1. Not awful, provided a good number of people are close to him... At least, if it doesn't split the healing. Kay's OB gives us strong reason to suspect it won't kill him, after all. Of course, if higher levels don't improve the ratio of damage:healing, then it's not ever going to be good; that's not a very large range.



In our leg of the Trousers of Time, I don't, because that's dumb and alternate-universe-me is willing to front some screenshots. Thanks, man.

Wait, Margus. That's Happy Bandit! No, Margus, don't--!



MARGUS NO




Amber Amulets give +2 Defense.

And that's that for that map!







Next time: A Kidnapping

Einander fucked around with this message at Jun 1, 2013 around 18:08

Anastasiya
Oct 10, 2012


I like how Serdic has two different expressions: the half-lidded dull look that the real Prince Serdic wore and his own more-wide eyed expression.

Rigged Death Trap
Feb 13, 2012

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP


Anastasiya posted:

I like how Serdic has two different expressions: the half-lidded dull look that the real Prince Serdic wore and his own more-wide eyed expression.

??? has frying pan eyes.
He's like the little green men that way.

SSNeoman
Jul 19, 2011

Villain tip: Next time kill
someone I actually like.


This map is basically a warm-up for all the horrible things to come. I really wish your allies were a bit better. Especially Kay, he really loses a lot of use after level 1.

Bellmaker
Oct 18, 2008



Selmer should be good. Ice magic has the best spells out of all the lines (the ultimate is quite simply game-breaking), but he's just so drat flimsy.

Also, Selmer and Marcus have an... "interesting" conversation in this chapter that you missed.

Einander
Sep 14, 2008

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

Department of Errata, Corrections, and Expansions: Part 1 (Chapters 1/2)

Here's a few things I wanted to add, got wrong, or missed entirely in the first two updates.

Chapter 1:

Testing shows that Bellmaker is right about Crazed, so I edited that appropriately.

While defeating Alberich does gain you the Black Ring, it also means you miss a decent amount of the action in this chapter. A level six Serdic is in no great danger, after all, and most of the forces can't chase you very far.

It's a great deal more hectic if you do it "properly."

First, Ernest's dialogue is different if Alberich is still on the field.


General Ernest! The enemy is coming!

Then waste no time in intercepting them!

But General Alberich's men are already in pursuit...

At this rate, the enemy will escape anyway. We're going to step in and... assist Alberich. Understood? Or would you rather fret over Alberich than obey orders?

N-No, sir.

Then hurry up and attack!

Yes, Sir!

Then this happens:



Alberich has nine move.



If you'll remember, there's a one-space area between trees near the exit to stage 1. Kay nearly died (he got countered and swarmed by a group I expected to kill), so Margus and Kay huddled in one those tree alleyways. Hey, only Serdic has to get to the exit, right?





This is why you don't rush. Alberich won't come after you until you trip Ernest's ambush, so you can afford to play a little more cautiously. I rushed Serdic pell-mell as far forward as I could every single turn, and, well... Look at how quickly Serdic's HP dropped between these screens. Those were each one turn.

On the plus side, this happened!



Complete Victory is the highest rank possible.




Alchemiracles are 80% HP healing items.

Next, during the two scenes with the real Serdic -- talking with Mephreyu, sending ??? to the funeral, ??? finding him and Serdic giving him his last orders -- this song plays. It's not the most complex song, but it's probably the only one really worth mentioning so far.

I've expanded the stage directions during that scene, so reread it if you're curious.

Chapter 2:



Kay has no conversation with Selmer. Margus, however, does. I'll be adding this to that update proper in a moment, but here it is for your reading convenience:




My, my, what a cute young lady...

Wh-Who...?



Note the new expression, then forget it exists. It's better that way.

Ummm, I'm a boy.

You--I--Wha--a BOY!?

...You don't have to act THAT shocked...

Sorry... I need to be alone now.

R-Right...

Of all the... Is my judgment that off nowadays?

Einander fucked around with this message at Jun 1, 2013 around 18:11

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.


Wow, there's fragile mages, and then there's THIS. Holy poo poo.

Is ZOC at least a skill that our frontliners can learn?

Einander
Sep 14, 2008

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

Glazius posted:

Wow, there's fragile mages, and then there's THIS. Holy poo poo.

Is ZOC at least a skill that our frontliners can learn?

There are exactly three characters in the game that learn ZOC. For all intents and purposes, you get one. Number two is a result of making a specific decision, and number three is special.

(To the thread in general: Don't talk about ZOC two or three if you've played the game before -- I'd consider the identity of the characters involved to be major spoilers. You should know why with at least one of those two.)

Update later tonight once I finish the one I'm working on. I'm working on a backlog.

Yapping Eevee
Nov 12, 2011



I have watched an awful lot of anime, and I still wasn't sure if that was a boy or a girl. Probably because you don't tend to see boys with massive hoop earrings.

Einander
Sep 14, 2008

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

Chapter 3: A Kidnapping
(Or, "First, Let's Do What We're Supposed To Do")


Last time, we had a slow teach-by-demonstration map on magic and terrain. This time, a more interesting map!




It's a short one this time around, all the more because I've just about run out of exposition.




You'll make a fine trophy...

What are you doing!? Unhand me!

I think they made an error here. Marie has multiple expressions. She has a worried/distressed one, even. Having her smiling portrait while she's saying this gives an entirely different impression.

Can't do that. Take her back, boys!

Marie vanishes.

She's a valuable hostage, so be gentle!




It's been some time since I strayed so far from the castle...

We drove off the bandits. Emir Ansom will be pleased.

I hope so... Hmm? What's that?

It's a carriage, though it looks like it's been destroyed.

Could some of the bandits have slipped away?



Soldiers?



A lady is in trouble!? Listen closely, boy... How attractive was she!?

I don't think that's the problem, Margus...

Oh... right. Right you are. Err, putting that aside...

First, we send a patrol to confirm the situation. Kay. Margus. Will you go?

Leave it to us!

I can't just stand by when there's a lady in trouble. You can count on me.

Off to the preparations screen. Errands is still grayed out, so let's check who we have available.



Three slots available, with Kay and Margus already selected.

As the pre-battle dialogue suggested, Serdic is unavailable. This is one of the major reasons it's nice to get the Black Ring in chapter 1; if you do that and let Kay and Margus do chapter 2 with minimal aid, then they'll be caught up by the time Serdic is usable again in chapter 4.

We can take Selmer along, and even if we won't use him for long, there's no reason not to -- this map isn't dangerous enough to make him a liability, and remember, you get bonus experience for all members at end-of-map. His selection quote:


Leave it to me!

It's worth noting that you can't choose where people are deployed on map -- it's all based on deployment order. Yes, this is exactly as annoying as it sounds.



Selmer has Ice Shard (+ice damage), Invoke Mind (+magic), and White Dust equipped by default, all at level 2. Additionally, he can pick up one more Ice spell and two Lightning spells.

Ice Spear attacks in a straight line in any of the four cardinal directions, having less damage, much less range, and fewer targeting options than White Dust in exchange for attacking everything on that line and costing 1 less MP per level. It's bad.

Spark Edge has one less range than White Dust and a higher MP cost (10 per level vs 8 per level) in exchange for slightly more power. It's bad. Storm Rave attacks in an x-direction centered on the caster. This results in much more range at maximum level than any other spell -- 7 diagonal tiles, so 14 tiles away, where the next-best is 10 -- in exchange for friendly fire risk and awkward targeting. It has potential, but it's difficult enough to use that you probably won't. Often, anyway.

I don't get him anything right now. He only has 1 point to spare anyway.



No other new skills, just characters learning things other characters already had.

Margus learned Knight Codex. I picked up a point in Invoke Life.



Kay learned Knight Codex and Frontal Blow. I picked up a point in Frontal Blow and Invoke Might.

He also gets the Amber Amulet from last stage. +2 Defense may seem like a small boost, but that's four levels of stat growth for Kay -- not bad.



Our condition for this map is misleading. There's a scouting point, yes, but that doesn't end the map. It instead starts the second half of the map.

If a map is multi-stage, then the "victory condition" shown is the condition to start the next stage. There's nothing to distinguish single-stage or multi-stage maps, but a "Kill everyone" objective typically doesn't show up at the start of a multi-stage map.

The first part of that defeat condition is nonsense; don't worry, Marie can't be killed.

On this map, anyway. She's currently decoration.





This map is just a long corridor. The trees are impassable, and the dark green grass behaves as we saw last stage. Other than that, everything is straightforward 1 move terrain.



None of the enemies are very aggressive -- hell, the Scout near the top will sometimes outright ignore you, even after you nearly kill him.



The terrain feature from the upper right area, zoomed in a little. Remember this was here when the next map is posted -- it's a nice bit of inter-level continuity.





[Bio]
Upon learning Princess Marie is in the region, he schemes to put his Ga tribe in charge of the Shalem Federation by siding with the Imperial Army.

Yes, the top of his head just does that in his picture. That's where his head meets the top of the screen in dialogue, and they didn't bother to include an unclipped version for his status screen. Presumably they didn't care enough.

You know that you're unimportant when your Bio is literally just a description of your introduction cutscene. And a correction: As shown, not everyone with a portrait has an OB. At least, Jaglat doesn't have one. Right now, anyway. Maybe that will change! I don't remember, so if it's there, it must be unimpressive.

Wow, he's just putting out all kinds of "minor, ultimately irrelevant villain" flags, isn't he?

Jaglat will not actually participate in this map.





[Bio]
Princess of the Kingdom of Bretwalde. She was raised at a monastery in Verona. A quiet yet determined girl.

Uh. If that's what Rikka really does, should she really be carrying it around? That seems kind of absurdly dangerous. Is the sun going to forget to rise in the morning if someone breaks it? Because you see Rikka eventually, and it does not look especially sturdy.

Right. All fear for the current state of reality aside, Marie has no skills and she's just going to stand there. I'll talk about her when she's more relevant.




These enemies are more sturdy than the Bandits; it's unlikely Margus can take one down alone. Kay weakens one and Margus takes the kill.

You want Kay to head for the objective while Margus and Selmer take care of enemies. Killing them is unnecessary; it's just something you can do for a bit of extra experience and to make the map more interesting.

But Margus isn't going to hit level 9 by himself, so we get on that. He's level 5 now -- just four more to go.

No Margus-Kay conversation this map.

Selmer moves towards the enemies on the right side. The enemies remain motionless on their turn.



Kay moves up.

In retrospect, this was a mistake -- the top unit was, for some reason, completely passive. If I'd gone around the right side instead, I could have hit him coming and going, scoring another kill. Oh well.



Margus moves to engage the lower-right group of two.

From his starting position, moving on the first turn will bring Selmer just far enough ahead to reach the man behind the trees with White Dust. Level 2 White Dust won't one-shot him, however. If you seriously want experience for Selmer, level it up -- he won't be casting more than two spells this time anyway, and you'll need it at level 3 soon enough.

I don't cast this turn, because I forgot, somehow, interestingly enough, you have just enough time to spaz out and completely forget about Selmer once, and still finish in the minimum number of turns.

Wow, am I lucky or what?




Next turn!

Margus attacks the group of two, killing one and wounding the other. Selmer casts White Dust on the man lurking behind the tree, just out of view. As mentioned before, he survives.

Kay ends his turn on the objective, triggering a scene.





drat... I've been spotted.

Don't let them get away, boys!

I yelled at a guy and he saw me, somehow! That's cheating!





New objective! Run south. And... My. That's rather a lot of enemies, isn't it. All characters have to escape for the map to end -- you can't just have someone camp the entrance and step on the moment Kay arrives.

They'll end their turn immediately after spawning without actually moving, presumably to allow non-Kay characters to run away, since the Swordsman at the center there has 7 Move.

You'll also notice that the Swordsman is using an axe. That was not the finest moment in localization, Atlus, even if "swordsman" is usually a good translation for "blade-wielder."

I'm not going to talk about these enemies right now. You'll see why soon enough.



The survivor of Margus's attack hits him for pitiful damage. Margus is so unaffected that he doesn't even flinch.




Kay bravely runs away, attacking the northmost original enemy and gaining a level. Selmer kills the man he attacked last turn, Margus does the same.

Now that that's done, everyone books it for the exit.



The man Kay attacked turns the other cheek. The rest of the enemies chase futilely after us.



There's no enemies in the way, nothing else to kill, and they can't actually catch up. The rest is details.

As the color of the text suggests, and as mentioned in the errata post, "Overwhelming Victory" is not the highest possible rank of victory. That's "Complete Victory," in gold letters, which sounds considerably more underwhelming.

I'm not sure what you could do to get a Complete Victory here. Give Kay the Black Ring, maybe? That should shave a turn off your completion time. The experience for Margus matters more, though.




Blessed Gum is new -- it's a consumable that increases MC Gauge by 15 when used.





What I said about Marie earlier goes double for Serdic here. We've even seen the expression that should go here earlier, even, back in the chapter 1 flashback:

What!?

This is actually somewhat of a pattern going forward. Maybe ??? thinks that Princes don't emote properly.


drat that Jaglat! Quickly, Your Highness, let's go rescue her!



Next time: Now: Well, that's what happens when you do what they tell you to do.

If we'd done that on map 1, we wouldn't have the Black Ring, now would we?

You know what that means. We load save.


Chapter 3.5: A Kidnapping
(Or, "Running Is For Sissies")


We're going to do a little preparation before this map.





Kay gets the MP healing items and Serdic's Moon Amulet, Margus gets most of the HP healing items, Selmer gets the overflow. I only use one item, but I believe in being prepared.

Selmer still has that one skill point unused. I will feel like a moron for this later.



But first, let's go see what happens if we bother Jaglat. Go save Marie, Kay!



The answer is nothing! The objective isn't actually at the marked point -- anywhere past it will trigger the cutscene. No attacking Jaglat, sadly.

For the curious, Margus and Selmer also have lines. The conversation goes the same with Margus, with only his lines changing:


That's Jaglat of the Ga tribe, and THAT... is a beautiful woman. ...Is that Princess Marie!?
Huh? Hey, if it isn't one of Serdic's men.
drat, they spotted me.
Don't let them get away, boys!

Jaglat, however, has no idea who Selmer is:

Hmm... That's Princess Marie of Bretwalde, isn't it? I should hurry back and tell Prince Serdic about this.
Is someone over there!?
So you've spotted me... But I won't reveal my identity!
Don't let them get away, boys!

Not that it matters.

Kay triggers it like normal and we're off.

Let's look at the enemy.



There's one Swordsman, and he is highly mobile. He should be your priority target first turn -- remember, Selmer has a glass jaw, we'd rather avoid having him killed this map, and the Swordsman is the only one that can reach him the first turn. Having him in Hurt status would be incredibly inconvenient next map.



This is our first archer. Enemy Archers work like mages or Advance Wars indirects -- they can only attack before moving. This particular kind of archer has 6 base range. You know it's 6 if they don't have True Arrows. If they do have that skill, then their range is somewhere betwen 7 and 9, with 7 most likely and 9 least.

The archers are largely irrelevant. While either of them could one-shot Selmer, their AI is individualistic -- it isn't willing to fling one of them to its death to ensure that the other can shoot him. Since moving into his range lets him attack first, they'll content themselves with firing potshots at Margus and Kay.



The Attackers are the enemy heavies, and they hit pretty hard. Margus takes about 70-80 damage from them. There's three of them, too.

On the plus side, they'll go down to two attacks right now, and we get first strike. Just gotta play it safe.



Warriors are filler. Nothing worth noting, really.

There's also an Armor Knight, which you may remember from the first stage. He's much weaker now, most notably lacking the ZOC skill, but he still hits hard, doing about 100 damage to Margus.



Margus and Kay position themselves on the 2-terrain cost grass, while Selmer places himself just behind them. We've waited for them to approach, letting us use the terrain to protect Selmer and lure them together. Dense groups of enemies can be as easy as small ones, provided you have enough movement.

The left archer advanced normally, but the right archer went up two tiles. I have no idea why. Mortal fear of Kay attacking him, maybe? Ranged attacker AI tends to play it safe.



Selmer hits the Swordsman, nearly killing him. (Remember, White Dust is multi-hit. It did about five times that damage.)



Kay cuts a swath through the enemy group, moving off to the side. Conveniently enough, he misses the Swordsman.



Margus kills the Swordsman, two Warriors, and an Attacker.

In addition to funneling sweet, sweet experience to Margus, this also causes Margus's MC to skyrocket. Kay is around 30 MC right now, while Margus is in the 40s. Kay may be defensively weaker, but the enemy can't kill him, and that means they're going to focus on Margus. This is exactly what we want.





Margus takes a beating. (The flinch with no visible enemy is an archer, for future reference.)



Kay gets hit once.

MC is a very convenient system -- knowing and manipulating enemy targeting priority can be incredibly important. Don't forget about it.



It's time to consider priorities.

Priority two is to keep Selmer from getting attacked. If he gets hit, he dies. If a character dies, they have the Hurt status for the next map, whether or not they're actually brought into it. This halves all stats. Selmer isn't very important, but having him Hurt reduces our options greatly.

Looking at movement, the Attackers have 5 Move, the Heavy Knight has 5, and the Warrior has 6. Selmer is standing in front of grass, which takes 2 move to cross. This means that the two Attackers and the Warrior can attack Selmer. That means they all need to die.

Selmer can only cast on one target. Ironically, despite my earlier badmouthing of Ice Spear, now would be a really, really good time to have one point in it -- all the targets I need to hit are directly in front of him, at a maximum distance of 4 tiles, which is the exact length of a level 1 Ice Spear spell. I think the game is rubbing it in, guys. This is what I meant about spreading out skills! For mages especially, having a low level version of many different targeting type spells can be helpful.

So, which target should Selmer attack? Margus is going to attack both of them from the back -- he'll move two up and one over, finishing at Kay's current location. Kay is going to attack one of them from the front and one of them from the side. He currently has Frontal Blow 1, which is less than the damage boost for attacking from the side, so the Attacker to Kay's immediate right will take more damage.



Selmer casts on the higher Attacker. Kay attacks, killing the Attacker Selmer hit.



Margus attacks, killing the Warrior and Attacker.

The real answer to my question above, by the way, would normally be "wait and see." If two of the enemies had survived Kay and Margus, Selmer would unable to kill both. Attacking last with Selmer would allow him to flee if he was endangered, keeping him from dying.





But if I did that, Margus would probably die instead. He survived this turn with 51 HP, and an Attacker hitting from the back could finish him off here. Priority two is to keep Selmer alive, but priority one is to keep Margus from getting overwhelmed and killed. If it comes down to it, I would sacrifice Selmer to save Margus long, long before the other way around. Thankfully, we were able to keep it from coming to that.

That said, if they didn't die, I would have reset, moved the Moon and Amber Amulets to Margus, and tried again; Kay hasn't been hit enough to need them. Margus has been hit often enough for +9 defense to make a pretty big difference.

Plus, attacking first with Selmer ensures he isn't getting any kills. He's not sticking around. Kay may or may not be a permanent part of our roster, but right now he's invaluable.



Kay attacks and kills the Heavy Knight, wounding an archer in the process.



Margus heals up. It's over now; it's just a matter of killing the archers and leaving, and they can't do enough damage to seriously endanger anyone (that isn't Selmer). It's not really worth showing off. The other enemies won't give enough experience to bother with, and there's no additional dialogue for just murdering everyone instead of running. It isn't really acknowledged.

They may live and carry news of our victory back to the others.



As I said before, the victory types are largely differentiated by turn count. Sure, we may have absolutely brutalized our pursuers, but that's slower than running away.




Narrow Victory is the worst victory type -- you can see the difference it makes on the after-map rewards, especially the bonus experience.



Despite that, Kay and Margus did a lot more killing this time, and it shows. Between the two saves, this one gives Kay 85 more experience and Margus 58 more, giving both of them levels, while Selmer gets about 40 less experience, losing a level, and we have three less Pulpy Juices (two lost from worse victory reward, one used in-map).

I can live with that. Murder it is!

(Selmer only gets two skill points for leveling to 6. If he got three, choosing between saves would be much more difficult. You'll see why next map.)


Next time: The Deep Forest.

Einander fucked around with this message at Jun 1, 2013 around 18:18

Justin_Brett
Oct 23, 2012


This game, man. I don't want to say it's bad, because they had some neat ideas, but anyone who's ever felt Fire Emblem is unforgiving would freak at some of the later stages. You need to know exactly what to do.

Yapping Eevee
Nov 12, 2011



Man, this looks like it's going to become less forgiving than some of those perfect S-rank, all tank kill runs in Valkyria Chronicles.

Einander
Sep 14, 2008

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

A quick bit of errata -- I ran across this fact while I was checking something. It also doubles as a sneak peek of the next map. (Hey, it's the save I had at hand.)

You might remember that in the second update, I mentioned the "Quit" menu. It includes "retry" and "reform team" options. It turns out that Retry doesn't work quite as I expected. This is probably because I never have to use it.




Serdic attacks this enemy. Note the change in his experience count.




We restart, and...

Wait, what? 71 experience?

Welcome to this game's method of grinding. Much like Shining Force's Egress spell, either Quit option will reset the map, allowing you to kill enemies over and over. I don't believe there's any real penalty for using this option; you don't keep items that can be found in-stage, but I don't think it affects the end-of-map rewards. (I'll check on a day when I'm working on updates and say which it is.)

The real penalty is for people like me, who will feel like weaklings for using this option. I can't use the retry button now.


Update tomorrow, I'm taking a break today. There'll be two more updates on this page at most; chapter 5 is a big one, and I'm worried about it killing the page loading times for everyone defaulting to 40-per-page.

Since that's going to involve posts... If you've got questions or suggestions for the LP, now's a good time!

Bellmaker
Oct 18, 2008



Einander posted:

Since that's going to involve posts... If you've got questions or suggestions for the LP, now's a good time!

I know you talk about them in your updates a bit, but more extensive character updates like some of the other FE/strategy threads would be nice (why Kay is so mediocre, why another character is more broken than T.G. Cid, etc.).

Justin_Brett
Oct 23, 2012


Knowing you can do that almost makes me want to pick the game up again.

Zaodai
May 23, 2009

Death before dishonor?
Your terms are accepted.




Is Margus thinking Selmer is a girl a joke added for the English version of the game, or is Japan that self-aware of their character design choices?

poorlywrittennovel
Oct 9, 2012

And now we're gonna paint a happy little critical


Zaodai posted:

Is Margus thinking Selmer is a girl a joke added for the English version of the game, or is Japan that self-aware of their character design choices?

Considering how often it shows up in terrible anime, I'd assume that it was there in the original dialogue.

RabidWeasel
Aug 4, 2007

Cultures thrive on their myths and legends...and snuggles!


Something about the art style of this game makes it feel really low budget to me, but it does look kind of fun, if terrible at actually giving information to the player (which seems to be a common problem with niche SRPGs).

theshim
May 1, 2012

You think you can defeat ME, Ephraimcopter?!?

You couldn't even beat Assassincopter!!!


Have you thought about posting links to the music as we come across it? I recall a couple of fairly nice tracks in RoS!

Einander
Sep 14, 2008

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

Bellmaker: I'll be posting more detailed character analyses on characters I intend to use as I go and more of the system and other characters are known to you, the audience. The ones that are getting dropped will get more detailed ones the moment they join.

theshim: I'll be posting music links sporadically, mostly ones that I think are particularly notable. There's some good tracks, but most of them are heavy on trumpet and percussion, and I'm not really fond of the style.


To the thread in general: I've completed chapter 6 and I'm in the process of working it up into a post. As of that chapter, we are 0-3 on following advice to run away from one group of enemies. 0-4, if you count this map (I don't). If you want to make the forces of Bretwalde flee, then bring at least three armies. And it means that you'll get to see the Hurt status for the first time in chapter 7, so look forward to that -- beating chapter 6 through murder is the first point I've been forced to accept a casualty for victory. I make no promises that it will be the last... There's at least one more "run away" stage that I can recall in the game, after all, and I'd like a perfect record.

While I work on that, have an update! Chapter 5 will be posted in two days.

Chapter 4: The Dark Forest
(Or, "You WILL learn!")




The Bretwalde Army and the Na Tribe gaze upon Jaglat's Han Castle in the dark forest of Shalem at noon...





Already? Hmph. Why must they choose times like this to show up early? Well, let them through.



But enough pleasantries... Is it true that you've kidnapped Serdic's younger sister?

I don't have any idea what you're talking about.

Don't try to play the fool, Emir. There are witnesses who saw you carrying the Princess away!

Sasha... You forget yourself.

......

Jaglat. Princess Marie is Serdic's younger sister, and he is a guest of the Na tribe. Your actions threaten to bring shame upon our people. I don't want the situation to get out of hand. Will you return the Princess and restore peace?

Shalem's peace may also be ensured by handing these Bretwaldeans over to the Empire... Don't you think?

Stop this, Jaglat, before I am forced to restore the Na tribe's honor at the cost of your life.

I don't give a fig for your pride! I'm tired of hearing you whitewash what's going on! Get 'em, boys!



On second thought, perhaps "threaten to kill a traitor in the middle of their stronghold" was not the best plan.

Father!

Emir Darsin!

Stick around, because you two are next.



Young Master, I can't just leave you...

She kind of has a point, Ansom. You are an archer. You are exactly the wrong type of person to hold off a large group of people.

Of course, so is Sasha, but that's not the point.


It wasn't a request, Sasha.

...I understand. Take care of yourself, Young Master.

Jaglat isn't really the best thinker. Starting a civil war to pacify a conquesting imperial power isn't the best thinking. Even if they didn't plan to conquer you before, weakening yourself presents them with an opportunity to change their mind.




Let her in.

Excuse the abrupt nature of this visit, Prince Serdic, but... Emir Darsin has been slain by Jaglat of the Ga tribe, and my Young Master is his captive.



??? is very good at this fake stoicism thing. It's impressive how he can interrobang with so little facial expression.

Please, save my Young Master.

I understand. Emir Darsin was a good friend to us... The time has come to return the favor. And Marie needs rescuing as well.

Thank you very much, Prince!

Prepare to move, everyone!



And we're back to the preparations screen! Errands is still blocked off, not that we'd use it anyway. We need every warm body we can get at this point in the game.

As you'd expect, Sasha has joined us, and she's here to stay.


I will cleave all in my path!




[Bio]
A swordswoman of the Shalem federation. She normally serves as Ansom's bodyguard, and secretly pines for him. Doesn't realize everyone knows this "secret."



The skills pictured are the only ones she has right now for purchase. Sharpshot increases accuracy, Arrow Guard reduces damage from archers. She doesn't have much in the way of useful skills during her first class, so I buy some points in both.

True Fangs is the first legitimately impressive OverBreak we've seen. (And had usable, I should say. Marie's OB is better.) It has a long range, does good base damage *and* ignores defense, and has no penalties for use. It's a boss killer attack, and it's drat good at it -- lure them into her range with a tough target and then tear them apart. A level 3 OB won't kill bosses outright, but it's definitely going to bring them down to "killable."

You may notice Sasha's high move, impressive magic score and okayish attack and defense. She also has one of the highest critical rates at 10%, eventually increasing to 15% in her third class. Let me correct myself on an earlier point, since this is very important to her: Base defense and skill defense actually makes no difference when it comes to magic. Accessory defense does reduce magic damage (AMULET SUPREMACY), but otherwise, magic is the only stat used in magic defense, full stop. Sasha seems to be designed as an anti-range character, able to guard against magic (and, to a lesser degree arrows, with Arrow Guard) and kill the attacker in a single hit; she learns a decent assortment of +attack skills, especially Duelist and Lateral Blow (Frontal Blow but for the sides, with a stronger effect to boot), enough to eventually make up for her lower natural offense. This role also lets her build OB through kills for taking on bosses.

Unfortunately, she isn't quite strong enough to fight non-fragile enemies yet, her Move isn't exceptional for her role (and she never learns the +move skill), and she starts out a little too fragile. It's the max HP that ultimately sinks her -- base defense matters less and less as you accumulate more and more powerful amulets, but low max HP is more difficult to fix, and hers is atrocious for a frontliner. She's useful now, but you'll usually drop her later. (And that's ignoring a wrinkle of the game system that tacitly encourages you not to use characters that start at first tier. We'll get there.) Her days in the team are numbered.

A bizarre factoid for you: Sasha's third class learns Rally at level 58. The next highest-level ability learned by characters is at level 45, and you're likely to finish the game around level 50. You might remember Rally as the near-useless "+critical hit for allies" Support skill.

Yeah, I don't know either.

We swap items around. Serdic gets his +7 amulet back, Sasha gets Margus's +5 amulet, healing items are shuffled around a little.

Kay buys a point in Frontal Blow, Margus buys a point in Stand Fast, and Selmer buys a point in Storm Rave. You might remember that as the x-shaped lightning spell. I had a terribly clever idea, you see!

You can guess how that turns out, huh?




Rondo of Swords starts showing a little teeth now.





Do you see the problem yet?




It isn't the Scouts or the Warriors. We've seen them before; they're still pretty middling. Remember that Sasha is a delicate flower compared to the rest of the group and you should be fine.



It's these assholes. Remember the last two maps, and how we were able to exploit terrain to keep Selmer safe? The enemy is doing that to us now, and it's in a better place for it.

They're all standing two tiles deep in grass, requiring you to go three tiles deep to hit them. That's six movement. The third archer, the one in the picture, is standing four tiles deep unless you go the long way around.

That's ignoring the real problem:

At this point in the game, you were just given Sasha, a fragile melee unit, and Selmer, a mage. Your natural instinct is probably going to be to kill the archers with Selmer, your only ranged attacker. It makes sense, right?



So you check the archer range by selecting it, as you'd normally do for other unit types. You have no idea what the bow range of an archer is, because it isn't indicated anywhere, and you probably ran away last map. It appears to go out five tiles. Okay, you think. I should be able to place Selmer at the edge of its range and kill it.

That five tile range was the Archer movement range. Archer bow range is six. White Dust also has six range. The Archer shoots Selmer and kills him in one hit.

Surprise!

That's reset one. You might hit reset two when Sasha gets killed, because she's pretty fragile and you're used to frontliners who are sturdier. You will win by try 3.

This is actually an incredibly easy map; once you get over the surprise, it's asking you to do a relatively simple thing. It just requires you to know something you're not going to figure out until Selmer dies for it. The only lose condition you might trip here is the Fire Emblem one: "Well, someone died, time to start over." Every person matters on the next map -- this is a very bad time to lose someone.

I think that's intentional. This map is designed to kill someone and weaken you for the next map, teaching you about caution and about enemy ranges and about the Hurt status.

The archer movement, while useless for displaying range, does work for a quick guide on where and where not to move, though. Don't stop on the red tiles or any ones adjacent to them. This map is all about luring enemies out of Archer range, stabbing them to death, and moving to the next safe spot. The Archers generally won't chase you, so it's safe to leave them be.

Not that we will. That's boring.

(Notably, a Selmer with a level 3 White Dust can snipe the Archers from just outside their range -- it has 7 range to their 6. This, however, requires a level 7 Selmer, and that's difficult to achieve by this point in the game.)

We begin.



Serdic moves up to weaken the first Scout. This placement will put him just outside the archer's range and inside the range of the second Scout enough for him to attack and retreat; if we were further outside his range, he wouldn't be able to retreat after attacking. If he moves further back, we have a larger safezone for our non-decoy units. This will require a little positioning, but positioning is the name of the game in Rondo of Swords. Now is a very good time to learn.

Margus has a conversation with both Sasha and Kay this map, and his position starts him off next to both.




Sir Margus... I apologize for all this on behalf of Shalem.

Perish the thought, Miss. It's Jaglat who's at fault here. We'll sort this out in no time. After which... would you like to accompany me to Lake Seldina? They say its waters are the clearest in all of Bravord.



Keep limiting use of this expression to once per conversation, Margus! It means I don't have to make a portrait for it!

(Thank you, limited art assets)


Ha! I appreciate your attempts to cheer me up... But my only concern now is my Young Master's safety. I can think of little else...

Hmm? Could it be that you're in lov--



Our relationship is that of bodyguard and ruler. I am loyal to the Young Master -- nothing more.

Ah...

O-Of course he's important to me! But it's because he carries the future of Shalem on his back. Any loyal citizen would share my concern!

Another hopeless case...



I can't believe that Jaglat went and did such a thing. Though if the Princess hadn't arrived, we may have went unnoticed, so...

What!? Are you trying to pin this on Princess Marie, you degenerate!?

No, not at all. No, nothing like that. At any rate... I hope Princess Serdic takes this opportunity to shine.



Driving off the bandits seemed like a good diversion for him, but...

Probably because it let him think about something other than Shalem or Bretwalde.

Hmm... We can't let ourselves be a burden to His Highness. We must rescue Princess Marie, no matter what.

Just think of how much less interesting this story would be if we were controlling the real Serdic.




Sasha takes out the Scout. Selmer and Kay move on up. Now the Scout's blocked off, so he can only hit Serdic.



He's ineffective. The other Scout nearby moves up.



This time, Serdic attacks and positions himself just inside the enemy archer range. His higher MC means the Archer should target him instead of nearly anyone else, so long as we don't put Selmer inside his range.

That was the plan, anyway.




When a unit counter-attacks, there's a blue shimmering effect where you hit them, there's a sound a little like a bell, and then they hit you. As mentioned before, this aborts the rest of the attack and pushes you back to your starting location.



Serdic is now Crazed, thanks to the counter. Fortunately, we're not in a position where 30% lower stats is likely to place Serdic in much danger.



Margus is still strong enough to kill both of them. He'll drop off eventually, but Margus's base stats carry his offense for quite a long time.



Kay and Sasha move up to the Archer. Sasha is back-up -- Kay may not finish the job.

Selmer moves up a little.

Conversation interlude! Sasha and Serdic have a talk on this map. I didn't activate it in the course of my normal run, so I went back for it.




I can't say that Ansom is unhurt. Reassuring lies do not become a retainer as faithful as yourself. However, Emir Ansom and his father went to great pains to protect my sister and myself. I will devote no less effort to protecting him.

Thank you, Prince Serdic.

That said, it troubles me to see such melancholy on your face.



I actually did not know this was a word. Huh. Searches suggest that "mislike" was based off a Middle English word, which "dislike" eventually replaced. Same meaning, different sounds.

Rondo of Swords: Educational in unexpected ways!


I see... Also unlike Margus, your concern is not limited to attractive women, right?



Regardless... Ansom may yet live, but we don't know for how much longer. Let's hurry.

Yes, Prince Serdic!

Back in the present time, it's the end of our turn.




The Scout in the grass attacks Serdic, the first Archer attacks Margus. Decoy successful!



Kay attacks and doesn't kill, so Sasha finishes the job.



Serdic kills the Scout who attacked him and moves up.

We're waiting for the group here to advance a little more -- no point in giving them the first strike, we're not in a hurry.

Margus is already in position at the edge, and he has OB, and he's at near-full, and Serdic isn't. Why not? It's only 20% HP.



Oh, hey, the level up icon!



Um, wow.

For reference, he was at 6.85 before. So 74 experience, where 100 is a level.

I think I know why you use Margus's OB now: grinding. 3/4 of a level? That's crazy.

Selmer moves up a bit. The enemies move up a bit. Next turn.



When considering my action, I looked at Serdic and came to a sudden realization: He's at 1 OB.

I had a clever plan involving using the range of Storm Rave, too. Oh well.





We finish off the group; Sasha moves back in the process for safety. It'd be embarrassing to have her die this late, but two archer arrows might do it.

End turn. Serdic gets hit for minor damage. More importantly:




Serdic vaporizes an archer. It's very satisfying.




From there, it's just a matter of killing the last archer.



Clearing the level also triggers the victory screen. If you bring Selmer, then you definitely want to kill all of the archers -- trying to get him to the exit with 4 movement is going to drop you down a rank or two.




The Hawkeye Medal is an accessory that increases Accuracy by 5% flat. It's not exceptional, but it's good for now, with our accessory options limited as they are.

(In retrospect, I completely forgot this existed. I will regret this later.)

The Hawk Proof is our first promotion item -- it's for archers. Or, rather, it's one of the two promotion items for archers. Or one of the four, depending on how you count.

Rondo of Swords promotion is a little different than you might expect. I'll cover it after the next chapter, once we can do Errands.




Your Highness, it appears that the Princess and Emir Ansom are both being held inside.

Thank you, Kay. (Princess Marie, huh? I wonder what she's really like...)



And that's that!

Next time: Reunion

Einander fucked around with this message at Jun 1, 2013 around 18:33

theshim
May 1, 2012

You think you can defeat ME, Ephraimcopter?!?

You couldn't even beat Assassincopter!!!


quote:

To the thread in general: I've completed chapter 6 and I'm in the process of working it up into a post. As of that chapter, we are 0-3 on following advice to run away from one group of enemies. 0-4, if you count this map (I don't). If you want to make the forces of Bretwalde flee, then bring at least three armies. And it means that you'll get to see the Hurt status for the first time in chapter 7, so look forward to that -- beating chapter 6 through murder is the first point I've been forced to accept a casualty for victory. I make no promises that it will be the last... There's at least one more "run away" stage that I can recall in the game, after all, and I'd like a perfect record.
Shades of Yggdra Union right here.

And yes, I've beaten BF13. It's a hell of a fight.

Grizzwold
Jan 27, 2012



Why did they even bother making these separate portraits for Serdic if they look almost exactly the same? Yes, those are two different portraits, look at his collar.

Bellmaker
Oct 18, 2008



Sasha's definitely not great (not getting any movement boosting skills while everyone else in her "class" does in a game all about movement blows), but man, get a few levels into her and her Tiger Fangs is probably one of the most destructive OBs. Boss killer, indeed.

SSNeoman
Jul 19, 2011

Villain tip: Next time kill
someone I actually like.


Grizzwold posted:

Why did they even bother making these separate portraits for Serdic if they look almost exactly the same? Yes, those are two different portraits, look at his collar.

The first one is his regular face and the second one is his pensive face.
And huh, Margus' OB actually gives him EXP? That could actually be really useful in the first mission...

Anastasiya
Oct 10, 2012


Grizzwold posted:

Why did they even bother making these separate portraits for Serdic if they look almost exactly the same? Yes, those are two different portraits, look at his collar.

One is copied off the real Prince Serdic, the other is a more natural expression for ???...? Who knows.

Einander
Sep 14, 2008

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

Chapter 5: Reunion
(Or, "The End of the Prologue")





Buckle up; this is a fairly long one. Lots of conversations, and the structure of the map means they're rather rear-loaded.

...mind, what with transcription, it likely feels much longer to me than you.




This is the second song I'd recommend listening to, after the one I added to update 1 and the errata post. It's not much at first, but I'm quite fond of where it goes from about the twenty-five second mark on.

As a rule, the soundtrack is fairly heavy on trumpet and percussion, at least to my untrained ear. I'm much more a piano person, but it may be more to your taste. If you're interested, look at the uploader's channel; he joined Youtube in 2007, posted no public videos until November 2012, and then posted 31 Rondo of Swords OST tracks. Nothing before or since. YouTube activity is a strange and wonderful thing, isn't it?


Let's rush him, Your Highness... Before he can strike again!



When a man like that is cornered, things usually turn ugly.

I like Margus. Some degree of that is affection carrying over from his gameplay utility, but another part of it is that for all of his weird flirty behavior, he's also a very good knight. His conversations with Kay make him feel like a convincing mentor character, and he's obviously got a good head on his shoulders. He also doesn't ever get too weird about it -- he flirts, but he doesn't harass. It's an aspect, not the dominating feature of his character.

If only all characters of the archetype could show that degree of restraint.


...We have no choice. In order to save both of them, we'll charge on my signal!



drat... Where's that Imperial Army!?

No portrait for the Ga Soldier here.

Ga Soldier: Maybe we shouldn't have relied so much on the Empire...

Shut up! Just hurry over there and hold them off!

Ga Soldier: Yes, sir.

This country WILL be mine, dammit!

Jaglat is kind of a missed opportunity. If he's just a greedy rear end in a top hat, we're unlikely to stop and think, 'man, that guy kind of has a point.' The most interesting bad guys are ones we can sympathize with, even if we disagree. I'd rather have a patriot than a puppykicker.

Okay, imagine that Shalem can't easily organize to repel the Empire. That's reasonable; they're a tribal civilization, and they don't seem to have much centralization. Consider that Darsin went into the Ga tribe's area as the Na tribe representative, not as some kind of chosen representative of the rest of the tribes. He seems to have a decent amount of influence, though, considering that Serdic spent months in Shalem without the tribes raising a fuss, the Ga aside.

But this does raise a point -- Darsin and the Na may not have the backing of the rest of Shalem. The others may not be interfering, but that doesn't mean they're happy about it. We don't hear much about tribes other than the Na and the Ga, but again, Darsin went in alone. So let's revise the scenario a little in light of that, to see if we can take these pieces and make something more interesting with them.

Okay, the tribes gather together and the majority decide that they can't afford to harbor the Bretwalde royals. Some groups agree with Na, saying that now is their opportunity -- Bretwalde has been a friend to the tribes of Shalem, and it provides a good excuse to go to war with the Empire. After all, recent history suggests that Gauss will come for them soon enough. In the hands of the hero Altrius, the holy sword Spanta is said to have conquered the Darkness ages ago. (Note: We haven't been told this outright yet, but reread the map scroll for Chapter One; Bretwalde is the country Altrius founded.) If it possesses anywhere near so much power as the legends say, then it will be a powerful weapon against the Empire. If they give up Serdic, they give up the holy sword.

The opposition isn't disagreeing because they want to ally with the Empire or because they want to wrest control from the Na, who currently lead the tribes (or, at least, it isn't mostly because of that); rather, their argument is that while the Empire needs to be defeated, they can't afford to pick this fight right now. They need to build up resources and train men and prepare for invasion, and if they're attacked now, it's going to be incredibly costly to Shalem. Sending off the siblings will buy them time.

So the Na defy the rest of Shalem, sheltering Serdic regardless. Eventually, Jaglat, representative of both the Ga and the will of Shalem, kidnaps Marie. Once you hear the news, you're forced to charge in to what you know is a trap. That would be this stage.

This would do several different things. One, it makes Jaglat someone you can relate to. Two, Spanta is going to be more important soon. Bringing up the legend we've seen allusions to also reminds us of the curse on the blade and shows us why the Holy Sword is so important to Bretwalde. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that Spanta can be uncursed eventually, and when that happens, it's the most powerful weapon on your side by a large margin. The OB this purification unlocks is similarly powerful. So Spanta is Important. Three, it provides drama that's lacking here -- you wouldn't just be fighting one tribe alone, you're fighting several tribes with the backing of one or two of your own. Maybe have a small allied army fighting off to the side, on a part you can't easily reach. Four, it reminds us that the Empire is scary. This is important, considering that the game lets us defeat their leader on the first stage.

But I digress, especially since we haven't seen how this arc does end yet! Let's get back to what's actually happening.




Same group as last time; no new characters. Right now, getting the Black Ring and getting Margus to level 9 has resulted in somewhat lopsided levels; we'll fix that soon enough.

We bring everyone. Everyone has a role, and it's not like we're lacking for slots. Selmer is going to be particularly useful this time around (well, by the standards of what he's working with).

Not much happens in terms of skills; Margus buys Invoke Life 3 and that's it. Last map didn't involve much murder.

Suffice to say this map will make up for that.



As mentioned, Jaglat is our objective. He moves surprisingly early on, and he's surrounded by a fairly tough crew.

Also, he hits really drat hard. In a halfhearted run I did for conversations, Margus got hit for 149 damage. Margus. Yeah.

We'll be killing everyone, of course. There's no reason not to.







It's a complete circle. The prison area to the right is surprisingly lightly guarded. However, sending too many people that way means Jaglat might go that way too, and that's problematic.



As mentioned, Jaglat moves. This means that while you can split up, and you should, you'll want to eventually reunite your groups -- otherwise, the group on the side Jaglat is ignoring won't do much in the final clash. Where Jaglat goes, the rest of his men follow. They're all pretty standard.



The new type of heavy knight doesn't have ZOC, but he does hit quite hard and he's very tough.

You'll notice the three cells in the shots above. There's something in each of them. Yes, even the one that looks empty. There are spots with hidden items in this game, and the most you'll get is some strangeness to the placement. What, did you expect Rondo of Swords to tell you something?

In the cells, you'll find Marie and Ansom. We saw Marie's stats before. There is, however, something new about her:



She's picked up her first spell, Cure Drop. It's the game's healing spell, singular; there are no others. As you might have guessed before, Marie is our first Light mage and healer. She has one of the smallest skill lists in the game and no promotion, but that's because everything she learns is relevant to her job.

(The other skill, White Light, improves the speed at which the user recovers from status effects. It's not very useful; statuses are rare outside of very special circumstances, and the most dangerous status doesn't wear off naturally. Get the +status resistance skill instead if you're worried.)

She's one of the best characters in the game for a good many reasons. The first is her OverBurst. If you use it at the start of the turn, it's full-party healing. A *lot* of full-screen healing -- it's a strong effect. It gives her a lot of experience with every use too.

You'll see the second reason soon.




direction.

[Bio]
Son of Emir Darsin, ruler of the Na tribe in the Shalem Federation. Has known Serdic since childhood.

Ansom is even better!

As you can tell from looking at his attack, Ansom hits hard. He also has some actual durability, unlike Mages. Not much, but he can take a hit. And the astute may have noticed that when I explained how enemy Archers work, I specified "enemy." Yes, allied archers work differently: He has an attack range of 5 (6, once he reaches his third class, and up to 9 once he masters the True Arrows skill), and he
can attack at range after moving. Ansom is the best mage-killer, bar none, and probably the best ranged character period. He's also very good at eliminating archers.

Even outside of that application, Ansom is incredibly powerful. Sure, Ansom may only be attacking one enemy at a time, but that enemy WILL die, up to and including some bosses or ZOC heavies. You may pause here and think, "Wait, what? his attack doesn't look *that* high." Oh, it isn't, but his damage is. You'll see why I say that in about seven more maps. He's going to have quite a debut...

His OverBurst is pretty much the same as Brave Ray. It's 5/6 the strength, except it's on Ansom, so it's better. You won't use it much, but it's the only way Ansom has to hit multiple people, and if he
does get to use it then the target is dead, no question and no exceptions.

That said, there is one massive dick move here. Okay, so Ansom is Serdic's childhood friend, has a battle sprite and a face, and clearly supports his cause. Seems like a shoe-in for an automatic join, right? You know, like Selmer. No, that's not the case; if you don't talk to him here, he doesn't join you. At all. Ever. No second chance. As I recall, he speaks in the stage aftermath even if you don't recruit him, so it isn't about leaving him in the cells. He is a very sensitive soul, apparently, and does not take kindly to being ignored

Let's get started.



Kay and Margus are going to be going off to the right to rescue Marie and Ansom. Serdic, meanwhile, will take Sasha and Selmer and go off to the left to 1) eliminate that group there and 2) pull Jaglat off to the left. If he comes at us from that direction, then we can push toward the prison cells, and the vertical hallway just before them is an incredibly convenient staging ground to end the map. Jaglat's aggressive AI lets you pick the battlefield -- take advantage of that.

That said, we shouldn't split up or move in immediately. The group of enemies near the start is aggressive, and we can't quite reach any of them from our starting position. If we charge forward, we're just giving them opportunities to attack a large swath of our group.



To that end, we cluster up on the edge of the range of the closest enemy. He can attack Margus and Serdic if he takes one specific path, so we know where he'll end up. It also puts his back in our direction of travel, which will make it easy for Margus to take him out while he's charging towards the Archer.

In retrospect, it would have been better to switch Serdic and Margus. I'll explain why in a moment.



Just as planned.



Selmer casts on the further enemy; I want him to get a bit more experience. If he levels up to 6, he'll get enough MP for another cast of White Dust, so this is effectively free. I was a little leery of finishing yet another stage without him running out of MP, and it looks like I was ultimately right; Selmer just ran out when this stage ended.



Serdic finishes.



This is what I meant about the positioning. If you count tiles, you'll see that if Margus was just behind this enemy, he'd be able to hit him and move two tiles in front of Kay. Kay is sitting just outside of the Archer's range of six, so this would let Margus attack the Archer.

Unfortunately, the Archer is sitting in a chokepoint. There's only one direction in which to attack and both Kay and Margus will terminate right next to him, so it's either Kay or Margus who gets to attack him. Margus still hits a little harder, even with Kay's skills.

At least Margus is able to one-shot the Scout. It'd be problematic if an enemy killed Selmer -- he's actually fairly important this map.



Margus tanks an arrow. It does the typical pitiful damage.

Kay fails to kill the Archer. Margus moves up into its face, preparing to kill him next turn. He's going to have to -- you can't backtrack, remember, and Kay's high move means he's going to be doing the vast majority of the prisoner rescuing.



On the other side, we look at the attack range of the Scout. It's six, so it terminates one tile behind and to the side of the Warrior here.



Conveniently enough, we want the Warrior dead anyway. Selmer moves up, but he has 4 move and that's very slow.



Unlike many games, enemy Archers can and will shoot you at one-tile ranges; their range is 1-6 inclusive.




I won't be keeping Sasha, but it won't hurt to get her some experience, and I haven't shown off her OB yet. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen this map.

Sasha may die to two arrows, but Serdic's MC means he has targeting priority. Having her there behind him is perfectly safe. It also accomplishes one nice thing: the right Scout at the top there can attack us in one of three ways, finishing in any of the other directions. If he goes up, we can use the bottom-left corner to stay out of his attack range; if he goes left, we can take him out with the left archer; and if he goes down, we can take him out with the bottom archer. Any of these are good outcomes.

Note Selmer's position.



On the other side of things, we have this Scout to worry about. If we do the same sort of trick we did with Serdic and Sasha and end two tiles inside his range, using the wall to cover a second side, he's forced to attack in a way that leaves him in our path. We can kill him without slowing down at all next turn.



Like so. Margus killed the Archer and passed through Kay just before this, and Will of War restored him to nearly full health.




Serdic takes a beating.

That damage screenshot is included for a bit of math. Notice it did 45. Serdic has 53 health left. There isn't a variable factor in damage, so I'm sure he can take one more arrow. So long as he doesn't take more than one arrow, he'll be just fine.

Luckily, we can kill the Scout and one Archer this turn, so we get on that.



Times Eternal Rage ((20% HP/MP regen * skill level) after gaining a level) would have been useful: 1

I'm counting this for SCIENCE. That skill has always seemed kind of awful, even on tanks.

(This would be a good time to mention that though Eternal Rage claims to restore MP, no one who learns magic has the skill. It'd be quite good on a mage. On a front-liner, not so much.)

...oh, wait. Margus's OB gives him a metric crapton of experience when he uses it, doesn't it? And it uses HP... *checks* ...annnnnnnd Margus can't learn Eternal Rage. That figures.

Kay can at level 9, though, in case you want to make his OB merely "really bad" instead of "astoundingly awful."

Sasha finishes and terminates on the tile to the bottom-right of Serdic. Notice that Selmer has already acted; he casted White Dust on the Scout. Turns out he's exactly six tiles away from that spot, which makes it really weird that the Scout ended his turn there...

(Remember this; it'll come up again in a little bit.)




You open these cell doors by ending your turn next to one. Kay starts on saving the prisoners.

We're not stealing the item on the ground in that cell. We're
liberating it. I guess it was locked up as an enemy of the state or something? Don't ask me.



Serdic takes an arrow. Jaglat and his men are on the move -- that entire delegation up there is moving towards us now.



Okay. A Warrior's come down, so it's just him and the Archer here. We do have to kill him -- we'll lose too much time if we run down into the bottom-left corner. The Scout doesn't have enough range, so he can't attack Serdic. I should be fine as long as the guy doesn't counter. Counters are pretty uncommon, and attacking from the side further decreases the odds, so--




...what. You are goddamn kidding me.

(When a character dies, it pops you back out the map. They say a vocal line and then disappear, just like enemies do. There's no portrait.)

(vocal, no text)
I'm sorry... everyone...

YOU MOTHERF--



(I write my posts in my head as I play, and sometimes I stop and write a bit that's particularly important. The above was written about thirty seconds after the actual event. SRPG SSLP live commentary!

By the way: I do these by screencapping as I play, so no video. I savestated just as Serdic started the attack, to ensure I wouldn't be tempted to load state and cheat. I really didn't expect him to actually get countered, but I knew I'd be busy staring and swearing to screenshot it properly if it did happen.

I was. I know myself pretty well!)

Right then! That marks the first death and first reset of the run, I'm sad to say. (Feel free to speculate on the final number; I've never kept track before, so I don't know what to expect.)

On my second attempt, I do essentially the same thing -- the fundamental plan was sound, and nothing really different happens. The convenient thing about having screenshots the last run is that you can just do the exact same thing again!

I didn't actually think of the Serdic/Margus positioning switch until after I placed him again. Oops. In retrospect, Serdic should have also gotten the +5 defense amulet Sasha is wearing; in the final run, she goes the entire map without ever being hit. That's the power of MC and good positioning!



The one difference is that instead of casting with Selmer on the last Scout, I have him move up, so he can cast on that cheating son-of-a-bitch
fine gentleman if he moves into place again. Serdic attacks first, so he gets one less kill and Sasha gets one more.

(I also write bits before I do them, sometimes, as part of brainstorming. Then I change the tenses afterward. My writing process is very eclectic.)



You'll notice the Warrior moved to avoid Selmer. Enemies can see your spell ranges. (...which seems a bit unfair, because you can't see theirs.) But that's fine; that gives us enough space to let Serdic and Sasha kill the Archer and end their move outside of his attack range. This is why Margus will always have the Black Ring; 6 Move is okay, but 5 Move is painful.



So we do. Selmer moves up so he can cast on the warrior, depending on how he positions. That's the end of the left side's turn.




Margus can't quite reach the cell door, so Kay attacks the Scouts and opens it. The surviving Scout will attack both of them, but that's a minor concern; as soon as you talk to Marie, she becomes a friendly Other unit, and she has healing spells. Between that and the waiting while the left group retreats, we have plenty of time to get our health back; outside of the Scout, there's just one Archer left on this side.

Next turn, the Warrior on the left side moves up.



I don't need to learn a lesson twice. Sasha attacks him first this time. Can't counter if you're dead.

rear end in a top hat.

Anyway, Marie has all of the conversations you'd expect: She talks to all three of the Bretwalde group. Maybe Ansom too, but they're both computer-controlled and hell if I can get them to stand next to each other. Those three can walk with her at can talk at any time.

Ansom, meanwhile, will talk to whoever frees him and to Serdic. Serdic can also free him, but this results in the exact same conversation.

Trying to get Selmer over there to talk to him was... interesting. That would be how I found out how much damage Jaglat does.

Time gets a little non-linear here. Try not to mind it; all the important bits will be covered.

Marie and Kay:




Thank goodness you're all right, Princess. If anything happened to you, I don't know how I could face our departed King...

Don't look so forlorn, Kay. See? I am fine. Besides, I am at fault -- it was I who came to Shalem on my own, only to be captured.

This reminds me of last map's Kay-Margus chat.

Regardless of what you may have done, Princess, it is on our heads that we were unable to protect you. A knight obeys his liege's orders, and guards their lives with his own.

...You haven't changed at all, Kay.

Huh?

I mean to say that you are as steadfast as ever. However, Kay, that is one of your strongest qualities.

Your Highness, I beg you not to tease me so.

I mean no teasing, Kay; only praise.

In that case, I have cause only for rejoicing. My sincerest thanks, Princess.

The way Kay and Margus seem so comfortable with Marie, and vice versa, also suggests that they're actually fairly important among the Knights. I'm glad they didn't send Serdic off with two random unknowns -- it feels more real this way.

At a later point, Kay goes down into the empty cell.



The Coral Amulet gives +11 defense. That... is a lot.

Marie and Margus:




On behalf of my departed father, thank you for your service in protecting my brother, Margus.

You honor me, Princess. To receive such a compliment from someone so... beautiful...

I'm torn on whether to interpret the pause as Margus trying to be sauve or sniffing back tears.

Probably the latter. It's more amusing.

My god! A conversation with a girl where I'm not being humorously shot down! It's... it's so beautiful.

Comic relief is a tough life. Savor this moment, Margus; it's going to be a while before its like is seen again.


*giggle* Oh, Margus. You've said such things as long as I've known you...

Only to you, My Princess. Only to you...

Truly?

Really and truly. Look into my eyes and you'll see that I speak the truth.

I understand... I believe you.

I am glad to hear it.

But Margus... you mustn't make women cry, all right?

Oh, er...

She even does what might be light-hearted flirting with him! No wonder he's so happy.

Or he's getting humorously shot down again, which is probably more likely.

Poor Margus.



By the way, this is what he actually did. I didn't actually screenshot killing the archer. All of my brainpower was occupied with dread of transcribing these conversations. Back to transcribing conversations!

Marie and Serdic:




Marie, eh...?

What? Elder brother, is that you?

...

I haven't seen you since our mother passed away...I suppose it's been five years now. You've changed, elder brother.

As have you, Marie. You've grown even more radiant... it's a pleasant surprise.

Oh, elder brother...

...I regret that I was unable to protect Bretwalde.

Don't talk that way... I'm happy enough to see you here, alive.

Here... alive, hm?

Elder brother?

It's nothing. We have much to discuss, but first, we should take our leave from this place.

Right!

This is the conversation you receive if Serdic is the one to rescue her. This is the one you receive if Serdic talks to her after she's rescued:





...I'm sorry it took so long to come and rescue you. You must have been lonely.

Notice that he never says "yes, it's me," not in either conversation.

No... this happened because I did as I pleased, without a thought as to the consequences. Don't blame yourself, elder brother. Besides, my loneliness was cast off the moment I saw your face.



Consider this line in context and it's very depressing. You can tell he feels really, really bad about this.

We have much to discuss, but first we should take our leave from this place.

Right!



The Margus and Kay conversations can take place at any time and are the same regardless. These two conversations are only available if Sasha and Selmer are the ones to rescue her.

Marie and Selmer:




And you are...?

I'm Selmer, a magician from Almeria. I've come to help Prince Serdic on my master's orders.

My elder brother?

Yes, he's right over there. I'm sure he wants to see you right away.

Hooray!

Marie and Sasha:



Are you all right, Princess Marie?

You are...?

Don't you remember? It's me, Sasha.

...Sasha! You're the one who's always at Emir Ansom's side!

Yes. We should leave this place, quickly. Prince Serdic has been worried about you.

My elder brother is...? I see! Thank you, Sasha.

Margus also used his OB while we were waiting, since he had it charged and it's free experience. A *lot* of free experience. Marie's OB will be used the same way after she joins; "there's nothing Marie really needs to do. Ehh, may as well get her an extra level, I don't think I'll need this OB later."

Ansom and Margus:




Oh, it's you, Margus. I'd be grateful if you untied these ropes.

Easy enough... there you go.

So soon? Mmm, my wrists have been rubbed raw. drat that Jaglat... I don't enjoy being tied up by other men.

I couldn't agree with you more!

Your agreement is strangely vehement...

Wait, what? How could you make that comment about being tied up "by other men" and not have it be the obvious bondage joke? Does Ansom only like tying himself up or something?

Math interlude!



Three facts about this screenshot:

1) This is Marie after casting level 1 Cure Drop three times.
2) It costs 10 MP for Marie to cast the level 1 Cure Drop spell.
3) All three of these statements are true.

This the second reason Marie is incredibly good. All other ways to do the same thing come much later in the game.

Ansom and Kay:




Emir Ansom, are you all right?

Yes, thankfully.

Can you stand?

If I were to say "no"... would you carry me on your back, Sir Kay?

No. I would get Margus to do it.

Hmm... I'm tired of waiting here. Very well, I'll stand.

Your effort is appreciated.

Best conversation? Best conversation. This is how you do humor with two low-key characters.

Ansom and Sasha:




Sasha? You're all right...

I was going to say the same to you! I can't believe you stayed behind by yourself... You're always doing this! Acting recklessly, trying to solve things on your own!

You flatter me.

It wasn't a compliment! I'm really angry at you! Do you have any idea how worried I was?

...I'm sorry. I was trying to keep that bastard Jaglat from laying a hand on you.

Young Master? What do you mean by that?

You're... you know... important to me... You're my vassal, after all. Wh-What's with that look?

Oh... It's nothing. Let's leave this hellhole, and quickly.

Ansom: Hits on both genders, but weak on the follow-through.

Cure Drop animation!






I'm pretty sure that crystal in her hands and then above her head there is Rikka. It's the other sacred emblem of Bretwalde. Doesn't that look kinda fragile? If it's that important, should you really be making it hover above your head like that? I mean, what if you drop it?

Also, I was wrong: It looks like allied Other units can gain experience in battle, and they keep it when they join. They don't, however, get the bonus experience at the end of the level.

I guess you could let Selmer murder the three bandits he has MP for in his introduction; that'd make it a little easier to use him. He's still kind of bad, though.

Anyway, we're on the homestretch! ...and then I get to type out the end-of-level conversation. Bugger.

Selmer and Ansom:




Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Selmer, a magician from Almeria. My Devotion is to Ice.

What is an Almerian magician doing here?

My master has ordered me to help Prince Serdic.

I see. You said your Devotion was Ice, right?

Yes... What of it?

In that case, do you think you could make the air a little cooler? It's so humid in here... I can't take it anymore!

Wouldn't it be easier to leave the cell?

I dunno, being in the cell might be important to him. Apparently Ansom likes being tied up sometimes? But not by other people.

I'd missed this conversation in previous playthroughs (for obvious reasons), and I don't remember if Devotions are brought up anywhere else. Remember how I said there's one mage specializd in each of Ice/Lightning/Fire/Darkness? I didn't know that the elemental specializations in this game were actually a background story thing and not just a gameplay matter. Huh. Cool to know, at least.

Ansom and Serdic:




I'm glad you're all right. But it seems Emir Darsin wasn't so fortunate.

Wow. That was graceful, Serdic.

I'm glad you're alive and well. Unlike your dad.

Who is dead. So very, very dead.


......

Serdic? You're kind of a dick.

The Emir gave us his hospitality, and I was unable to repay his kindness.

Okay, actually, he's just feeling bad for himself, but... Dude. Seriously. Give him some time before you spring that on him.

My father wasn't the sort who'd care about that. If you would mourn him, do what you would consider to be right. That's the most fitting way to repay him.

Then we can begin by avenging his death.

Exactly.



Oh thank god, gameplay.

Anyway! See where Selmer is? This allows him to snipe most of the corridor with White Dust, because magic goes through walls.

One of the two closest tiles that's out of its range is at the end of the hallway, exactly five tiles away from Serdic.

I'd like to take this moment to remind you that Brave Ray is exactly five tiles long. And that the AI doesn't pay attention to OBs when it's moving.




Due to the damage formula, Level 2 Brave Ray does 1.5 times the damage of level 1 Brave Ray, and level 3 does 2 times the damage of level 1. Level 1 Brave Ray, meanwhile, does about 1.5x the damage of a normal attack -- slightly more, since it multiplies attack before defense is considered. So we'd need about four Serdic attacks to kill this guy, and skills make Serdic our strongest physical damage dealer right now. (Ansom hasn't technically joined yet.)

If an enemy has the "heavy armor" sprite, they're tough, no exceptions. Treat them like sub-bosses and defend/attack appropriately.



Selmer casts on the top Attacker, who is in range of White Dust. No one else is. That same top Attacker here can reach Serdic to attack, so Kay stops him from going up -- we'd rather have the enemies clustered closer together. That'll make it easier for our group to hit them all at once.



Kay's a little low-leveled. This attack brings him to level 7.



All of the remaining enemies have 5 Move. They can't reach us to attack.



Selmer casts on Jaglat.



Now it's time to milk as much experience out of this group as possible.



Jaglat dying will end the map, so we want to kill him last. But the heavy armor knight is exactly seven Move away from Kay in a straight line through Jaglat, so Kay needs to kill Jaglat if we want to kill everyone.



Duelist lets Serdic kill this one particular attacker, even at relatively high enemy HP.



Kay gets several kills, adding up to a whopping 163 experience.





This is quite a haul! This is the point of the game where higher ranks of victory start really mattering -- the rank rewards will now include various Proofs fairly often, and a higher rank can increase the number you receive. I've seen rewards of up to three of the same Proof. There's a degree of randomization, though.

The Jade Amulet is +9 Defense. The Hunter Proof is a second Archer promotion item, and the Battle and Capt. Proofs are for warrior/knight types like Kay, Margus, and Sasha.




Emir Darsin...

Thank goodness you're all right, Princess!

Thank you, Kay. I'm glad to see you haven't changed at all.

This is more than a little goofy, considering Kay was the one who recruited her in this run. You had this conversation five minutes ago.

It's true. Five months or five weeks, Kay is always Kay...

What does that mean!?

Teeheehee...

Marie, there's one thing I'd like to ask you.

And what is that?

Why did you come to Shalem? You knew the danger, didn't you?




And ??? is suddenly very, very afraid that he just flubbed his disguise...

Elder brother.

...but it's okay, apparently!

Yes?

The reason I came was to deliver a message to you from the Pope of Verona.

From His Holiness?

And then he wanders right into what is possibly another, even bigger mistake.

He uses "His Holiness" here. I'm going to spoil a minor thing, because by all rights Serdic should know this: The current Pope of Verona is a woman. (It probably has to do with the fact she's the best at holy space lasers. The space laser split between the genders in this game is 5:3, and men are not winning. You try telling her she can't be Pope.)

Anyway, either 1) they say "His Holiness" anyway (which is dumb), or 2) this is supposed to be a slip, gasp!, and ???'s education as Serdic's body double didn't involve instruction on who the Pope is in a world where the Church is a major social and political force (which is dumber).

Or it's a translation/localization mistake, and they forgot to script-check later. Somehow. This is kind of a big mistake to make, but they translated an ice spell as "Yumil Magna," so who knows.




That is what I was told.

No one blinks an eye, though. Weird.

A coronation ceremony, eh? But...

Is something the matter?






And there we go. You thought the conflict right now was the conquest of Bretwalde? Nope. That's the long-term problem. The immediate one is Spanta's curse. Serdic is currently not powerful enough to deal with the Empire problem.

Right now, Serdic is not King, and he can't be King until the Holy Blade is pure again. The curse on Spanta weakens him in combat and ensures he can't wield his full political authority.

Whoever created this curse really knew what they were doing.


If that's so, then there may be something we can do.

Really?

I can feel magical power from that sword. And where magic is concerned, my master, Arios, may be able to intercede.

I see. Then our destination is...

The Magic Nation of Almeria.




You may wonder, by the way, why I've been so focused on getting Margus to level 9. I'll go ahead and a spoil a little of the next update for you:





Resets so far: 1

Next time: More than you ever wanted to know about Errands. It's a small update, so expect it tomorrow.

Einander fucked around with this message at Jun 1, 2013 around 18:42

theshim
May 1, 2012

You think you can defeat ME, Ephraimcopter?!?

You couldn't even beat Assassincopter!!!


Ansom is ridiculous. Fire Emblem could stand to take the occasional leaf out of Rondo of Swords' book - one of them is how to make a good archer.

Bellmaker
Oct 18, 2008



Ansom is dumb as hell. The tutorial character literally says "Archers are kind of broken", and they're right.

I'm pretty sure there's an item behind Jaglat's throne, but who would ever get there?

ZOC is amazing but it's also kind of a cruel trap, I'm sure you'll go over that though.

Bellmaker fucked around with this message at May 3, 2013 around 01:28

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Yapping Eevee
Nov 12, 2011



Ansom is a fantastic character. But surely if he says that he doesn't enjoy being tied up by other men, the logical train of thought isn't "he doesn't like being tied up by other people"... but rather "he prefers being tied up by women".

This game certainly looks like it requires more strategy than Fire Emblem, that's for sure.

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