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  • Locked thread
Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!

Melth posted:

Hm, well perhaps there are 2 angry Eliwoods or something, because there's definitely an angry Eliwood picture that does show up sometimes- including in that scene. Actually I think there are at least 2 different angry Eliwood portraits that do show up. I commented on one of them in that last chapter's ending actually.

Nope, only one angry Eliwood. It's almost certainly an emulator bug, although as previously mentioned the text thing is probably intentional.

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Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


A peculiar title. Itís not like weíre actually in a giant hurry in this chapter. In fact, thereís almost no urgency at all. Nergal didnít take Nils so he canít open the gate and the party decides to just rest and recuperate a bit in Ostia.

Perhaps it refers to how Athos will be telling us the story of how he met Nergal 500 years ago. While that meeting did occur in a sandy place, it still doesnít really make sense. The phrase Ďsands of timeí afterall refers to hourglasses timing things.

But itís a pretty cool chapter actually, much more challenging and interesting than it was on ENM. There it was pretty much just a horde of archers, nothing else mixed in, which mostly served as a place to level Eliwood with his new javelins. He could solo the level with ease.

Now itís actually a hard fight as the enemy uses combined arms with a bunch of strong unit types Ė like generals- and there arenít any really good points to hold the enemy off at. Meanwhile, one small contingent of the heroes is trapped and in a really, really bad spot. And the vast horde of enemies stands between the group and some extremely valuable treasure.

If there was a little more to do- one or two chests or stealable items in a remote corner of the map or something- this chapter might rank with the big three. Without that extra bit of objective juggling itís just a little too straightforward for my taste. Still, an excellent chapter. And Eliwood and company finally learn Nergalís past while Hector reaches the climax of his personal story arc.


Chapter Summary:
Exhausted, confused, and with Ninian dead, the group stops to rest and mourn in nearby Ostia. They then ask Athos to explain what Nergal meant about the two having once been friends but are interrupted when Nergalís morphs somehow launch an attack on the castle. Realizing that nowhere is safe from a man whose minions can teleport, they resolve to just make their final preparations and set out to catch him at the Dragonís Gate. Meanwhile, Hector finally learns what Oswin has been keeping secret from him.




And killed by Eliwood no less. I doubt if anyone saw that coming.




To begin with, Nergal was just a personal enemy of Eliwoodís. Nergal was the man whoíd abducted his father. Then at the Dragonís Gate it was suddenly revealed that he was no mere nobleman trying to control a gang of assassins but the sorcerous commander of an inhuman army bent on bringing dragons back into the world to obtain unlimited power. That changed things. Now, as the story draws to a close, he again becomes a personal enemy of Eliwoodís as well with his role in Ninianís death and especially the cruelty he showed as she was dying. And after the lengthy Bern arc, this was also a good way to remind the player why they should want to kill Nergal other than for the XP- itís been a fairly long time since Elbert died afterall.




So they head for nearby Ostia, where the story began.




Riiiiiiiiiight.




They already did earlier in this very game. And on this chapter now. And then like twice in 6. Ostia has a horrible track record actually. Itís probably because they employ nothing but knights and soldiers and those are terrible classes.




http://old.serenesforest.net/media/fe7music/077%20-%20The%20Grieving%20Heart.mp3

One of my favorite tracks from the game is heard for the first time now. The similarity to some of the other themes- like the Fire Emblem main theme among others- is cool and it just seems to capture the exhausted, grief-stricken, but determined mood of Hector and the others very well.




Hector has been asking where his brother is more and more frequently and getting evasive answers from just about everyone.




This means Hector is in charge and we see that heís become a much more organized and capable leader over the course of his journey.




And he questions Oswin once the soldier is on his way.




The man is not a good liar and heís not fooling Hector.




But there are things to do, so the leaders- minus the grief and guilt-stricken Eliwood- meet up in this conference room.




And they finally broach the subject of what Athos knows about Nergal and how he knows it.




http://old.serenesforest.net/media/fe7music/055%20-%20The%20Archsage%20Athos.mp3

Appropriately, The Archsage Athos sounds quite similar to History Unveiled, the prelude theme. The legend begins recounting how he met Nergal.




And the two became friends. But itís clear to a player whoís done A Glimpse In Time of course that Athos doesnít have the full story here. He has no idea that Nergal is already at least 500 years old- same as him- or that Nergal has lost his memories and his old identity to the ravages of dark magic already.

Still, it seems clear Nergal wasnít just completely inhuman and overcome with his hunger for power yet. Athos doesnít know the story, so he doesnít understand where his own time with Nergal fits in the bigger context.




Traveling together, they found a secret village in the desert where humans and dragons lived together: Arcadia.




Lyn and Hector are amazed and incredulous. Itís not clear just why at first glance- but the reason for that is that the player has seen the History Unveiled prelude where itís stated humans and dragons once lived peacefully. Apparently, that isnít common knowledge. All they know is that the war that came was bitter and bloody and all dragons had to be driven out of killed because no peace could be made with them.




Eliwood slowly comes in and asks Athos not to stop the story.





http://old.serenesforest.net/media/fe7music/056%20-%20Distant%20Utopia.mp3, now plays as he describes the village of Arcadia.




Just as Athos said before, when he was evidently talking about his time there: ďSolve one mystery and along comes another. Before I knew it, Iíd become distant from my fellow man.Ē He just disappeared into the libraries of Arcadia with his friend and everyone must have eventually assumed he died.




But centuries after arriving, Nergal and Athosís goals gradually diverged.




And it was here in Arcadia where Nergal learned about stealing quintessence- and presumably making morphs and the like as well. Which is probably why Athos knows so much about those magics: he likely read the same books. One has to wonder whose books the Archsage studies magic from. Are there even greater heroes further back in Elibeís past? Were morphs once created by other dark sorcerers? And then destroyed and written about by someone else who described them as an abomination?




It sure looks like it was. I wonder what weíre to make of those eyes in his cape. As far as Athos mentions, he didnít create his first morphs till later. Are they purely symbolic of his evil? Or are they, perhaps, spirits or creatures of the darkness that consumed Nergalís old identity centuries before?




Peace talks broke down.




I wonder what weíre to make of that pause before ďdefeated him.Ē That could mean all kinds of things.




Further evidence that he actually does have a secret base there. Perhaps he built it after losing his family but before meeting Athos?

It seems to have been around this point that Nergal really took a turn for the worse. Having his former friend Athos try to kill him really hurt him, as heíll reveal later.




Athos explains that he began building up his power at this point and then started making morphs. And by the time they realized that, heíd become too strong to stop. My best guess is that to survive- or become strong enough that Athos couldnít just kill him- Nergal made further ďreparations to the darkĒ as Teodor called them at this point. Athos didnít know that or that he had ever done so to begin with.

Possibly he did this in this period but just AFTER creating his first group of morphs including Kishuna. That would explain why he seems interested in Kishuna as a person after first creating him but then soon thereafter changes completely and sees him as nothing but a useless tool to be thrown away (as will be seen later).




An unexpected caller! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cH2X0g1L-Q
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin has some tracks that can rival this one, but I canít think of any game with a better theme for suddenly finding yourself under attack.




Itís pretty understandable that heís angry. This is an epic fail on the part of the entire garrison any way you look at it. And not the first one either. In fact, they never do anything but fail to defend Ostia in either game.




Thatís a good one. Enemies already breached it once this story and nearly killed him on his way out, completely undetected.




Why? The whole throne thing just gets sillier and sillier. On this chapter WE lose if someone gets to the throne. Even though thereís nothing else in the room, so itís of no importance.







Thereís a blink and youíll miss it bit here of Athos watching Eliwood pick himself up and get ready to fight, just like he did in New Resolve.




Well Hectorís in luck; Market has a good one in mind.


Battle Preparations & the Map:




Itís another big one. And much like Whereabouts Unknown, it relies on sheer size rather than difficult terrain to keep you away from your goal. There are some serious staff druids on this map again, but unlike Cog of Destiny and Night of Farewells, they arenít the main challenge of the mission and donít have absolutely overwhelming numbers. No, theyíre a difficult secondary obstacle but thatís all. The particular trouble is that the split-off group is in range of three of them and itís impossible to get out or kill them all on the first time. The second group is in serious trouble in general since theyíre surrounded. And since theyíre surrounded by people with ranged weapons, those walls are as much a hindrance as protection. The only escape is that narrow passage to the southwest but thatís currently guarded by 5 knights and generals, and almost every other enemy on the level is about to come running in that direction

The most critical choice to make is who to put there and what direction to have them go. The four main choices for the latter are 1) turtle up in that semi-enclosed room and hold out 2) break out the nearby door and head north to meet up with the main army fast 3) break out the nearby door and charge the main enemy force without waiting for reinforcements and 4) Break out the far, currently locked, door and attack the main enemy force from behind after a delay

1) Definitely works but is not good enough. My goal isnít just to survive, itís to kill absolutely everything. Just being defensive doesnít drop the enemy fast enough, and serious speed is called for.
2) Doesnít look like a good idea. No one can beat 3 of these generals easily except Canas because their Res is great, and youíll have to deal with 6-9 of them plus some knights. With 4 guys. In the open. This will either ignominiously turn into 1) or result in a restart
3) Canít even be attempted without putting your 4 best units in that squad and just going all out. Could work. The problem with 2 and 3 though is that they leave a lot of enemies on the right part of the map unlikely to ever be killed in time
4) I went with this because the odds of success were better than 2 or 3 without committing absolute maximum resources and because it also gave me my best shot at exterminating every enemy by turn 11
So with that decided, I had to pick who to put there. There must be 2 restore staff users in the group, minimum. And at least two very strong fighters. The best way to bring that about is to have Pent and Canas or the like on that team. That frees up some slots for other people. Thereís really tough fighting on that front but with the likes of Pent and Canas around, you can even train someone pretty weak.

The other secondary challenge is dealing with the thieves. They begin spawning early and there are a lot of them. Itís important to know that their first goal is to unlock the right door, then get the body ring, then head up to get the other chests. Notably even the guy who gets the body ring will stick around to try to get the other chests, giving you ample time to get it back.

The primary challenge is of course just fighting the giant army of promoted units and managing to kill every last one of them by the gameís end. 11 turns isnít much when most of your (admittedly giant) army starts so far from the front and the spawn points are so spread out and the reinforcements are still spawning on the last turn. There are basically 4 fronts to deal with: top and middle right, bottom right, middle left, and the center line of the map down to Denning. Success requires devoting just enough resources to each front to complete it. Itís just like I talked about in the War Room part 14. You have to match units to goals and remember to consider the opportunity cost of sending great unit X to front Y.

And for me of course I was trying not to put my overleveled people like Canas in many more fights. I need to save them for Victory or Death and Light. And I also need to do what I can to gather any more scraps of XP possible for my few remaining unpromoted people who arenít 20 yet.




Nils is despondent and withdrawn into himself after seeing Eliwood kill Ninian. He canít be used on this chapter or the next one.




Thereís the top group of my formation, and hereís the rest:



Objective: Protect the Throne (WHY?!) for 11 turns
Secondary Objective: Get the Dragon Shield from the top leftish chest
Secondary Objective: Get the White Gem from the other chest in that area
Secondary Objective: Get the Body Ring from the bottom left chest
Secondary Objective: Steal the Lockpick from the first thief
Secondary Objective: Steal the Lockpick from the second thief
Secondary Objective: Steal the Lockpick from the third thief
Secondary Objective: Steal the Lockpick from the fourth thief
Secondary Objective: Visit the Secret Shop
Secondary Objective: Kill Denning and every single enemy for honor and glory
Reinforcements: Agh, so many in so many places and almost all promoted. The important thing is that while loads of people spawn starting very early, most reinforcements stop with turn 8. So you can expect a turn or two to sweep up any remaining forces. However the ones in the bottom spawn points never stop and are mostly tough units like generals and wyvern lords, so you need serious firepower there. Thieves start spawning very early- on turn 2- but fortunately go for a door before the chests, giving you the time you need.
Turn Limit: 11. And itís a survival chapter, so you lose 1 no matter what.
Units Allowed: 12 + Hector + Eliwood + Lyn. So many units! But you really do need most or all of them to kill every enemy on such a big level
Units Brought:
1) Hector. Required and very good here, if a bit slow. Heís one of my best units once again and can crush any enemy on the level. But heís probably going to gain a TON of XP on The Value of Life, so I donít want him getting to more than level 10 or something at most here.
2) Eliwood. Required and suddenly my second-best unit after Canas. Heís got the mobility. Heís got the durability. Heís got the damage. Heís got the javelins. I didnít realize just how good he was going into this chapter but once I noticed he could solo the whole eastern front, strategizing for the rest of the level got a lot easier.
3) Lyn. Required and terrible. Sheís been outclassed for 20 chapters now. But if I have to bring her, Iím going to try to get her some XP. The trouble is most of the enemies on the chapter are knights which she canít even scratch.
4) Nino. Erk is overleveled (but has better stats than my wonderfully blessed CANAS), so I need another sage to train up. My Nino has been unlucky so far but should still turn out well. So Iíll promote her this chapter.
5) Erk. Third best unit? Sain is up there somewhere, but Iím saving him. Erk is the only one other than Canas who can one round kill absolutely anything on this level that isnít Denning, and he can dodge everything and isnít even that fragile anymore. Plus he can heal.
6) Florina. Fiora and Heath are going to be getting big levels on Victory or Death so I canít use them here, but Florina sucks so sheís been left behind up till now. She wonít be contributing much but sheís better than most of the low level people at least and maybe sheíll gain some stats this time.
7) Kent. The only lower level guy now is Oswin and heís waaay too slow moving to be trainable here. Kent is decently effective against many of these enemies, so nowís a good time to get him most of the rest of the way to 20.
8) Priscilla. The top group needs a restorer in case Erk gets silenced and sheís it.
9) Matthew. Legault hit 20. Iíd bring Jaffar instead, but there are 4 lockpicks to steal so it has to be a thief. Heíll do nothing of value other than maybe rescue drop people until itís stealing time.
10) Guy. Useless except that with a healer and the Iron Rune heís juuuuuuust good enough to spend 11 turns slowly taking down those 2 myrmidons and swordmaster on the left part of the map. Oswin would be 1-round killed, Dorcas would be 1-round killed and have like a 0% chance to hit, so Guy is the only option.
11) Serra. Guy needs a healer and Serra is the only staff wielder bad enough not to have something more important to do.
12) Canas. Of course Canas. Heís there to heal, restore, physic, and kill anything that looks to be a serious problem.
13) Pent. Like Canas only worse, as Pent basically always is. But heís lower level, so Iíll try to get him more kills.
14) Raven. Back in a snazzy tailed coat, Raven was promoted for Unfulfilled Heart, used in like 2 fights there, and then never seen again until now. Nowís the time to break out the promoted units like him Iíve been saving. Heís got the damage and speed to kill nearly anything with his iron axes and handaxes.
15) Dart. Because Dorcas sucks! Dart canít really handle this stuff either despite being a really good unit- itís just a REALLY harsh fight on the 4 unit group front, but he can at least manage to stay barely alive with constant healing and maybe a barrier. And thatís enough to finally get him the 250 XP he needs to hit 20. Most of my other people are higher level than that.
Notable Units Rejected:
1) Nils. Iíd love him here, but heís unavailable. So not really rejected, but I wanted to make sure that was clear.
2) Dorcas. I tried it every way I could think of. He was just baaaarely functional last level with Filaís Might on him and Barrier. Here he gets killed by every single enemy and thereís no way to protect him. I said on Cog of Destiny that it was probably my last chance to train him and it looks like Iím right.
3) Fiora. Better than Florina, but after Cog of Destiny sheís too high level. Sheíll do a lot of leveling on Victory or Death too and I donít want to have to kick her out for Light.
4) Heath. Like Fiora but better, so I REALLY donít want to have to kick him out for Light.
5) Sain. Similar to Fiora and Heath in this case really. Heíd be amazingly useful, but heís going to do serious fighting in the next couple of chapters so I need to save him for now.
6) Lowen. Besides being higher level and weaker than Kent, this chapter really does NOT play to his strengths. Way too many magic attackers and he canít even double most of them.
7) Bartre. Heís bad. Heís always been bad. I hated using him. I hope to never use him after fighting Karla next chapter. He canít hack it here, even on a level filled with knights as a level 6 warrior with slightly above average stats.
8) Vaida. I usually bring her on normal and she has a fun beginning of level quote, but sheís in a similar boat to the one the other flyers are. And she canít double things as well.
9) Most other people. Theyíre probably level 20 unpromoted. Or so close to it that theyíd hit it in 1 fight and then be unusable dead weight.

Guy and Serra will (barely) take the myrmidons and swordmaster. It will take most of the level depending on misses. Theyíre juuuuuuust strong enough to do the job and worthless elsewhere, so theyíre perfect for it. Itís not clear who will get the top leftish chests, so these guys have some chest keys and a door key in case no one else can do it easily. I need to clear some Merlinus room, so I decided to give Guy a whole bunch of 1-3 use iron swords to fight with. The main thing I like to use 1 use swords for is feeding kills to low level people as I mentioned before and Iím out of low level people who need the help, so I can use them up now. Guy also get the Iron Rune so those guys canít crit him.

Canas and Pent are my only people capable of both casting restore and fighting, so theyíre no-brainers for the separate group. Each has heal, restore, physic, and Canas has luna and flux while Pent has a barrier to help Dart.

Dart is packing handaxes and vulneraries mostly but also a hammer in case he needs to fight some generals.

And Raven is the last pick for that group. It needed to be someone very strong but not yet very leveled who could use axes. He was the only one matching that description. He gets some handaxes, an iron axe, and an iron sword and also a vulnerary.

The plan is for that group to thin the enemy nearby and then break out through whichever door proves less guarded, pulling and trapping Denning before the main group has to worry about him. And 1-2 people will watch the general spawn point area.

1-2 people from the main group (just who would depend on how the level actually went) were to first hold the semi-chokepoint to the northeast area and then eventually charge through and crush the enemy there. The rest of that group would fight their way through the main body of the enemy and protect Matthew while he went about stealing lockpicks. Most other equipment is fairly standard fare.

Oh and getting to the secret store costs 1500 for Warp and it sells nothing worthwhile, so Iím not doing that.

The Characters:




Look back 10 levels or so to the Ostian knights in Kinshipís Bond. Now look at these guys. These guys arenít better. And those guys sucked against the much, much weaker enemies back then. These guys just explode the moment an enemy looks at them. They do serve 1 valuable function though.




Alright everyone, on three: ďItís a message from Lord Nergal: Meet me on the Dread Isle.Ē ĖDenning, Chapter 31

Although the fact that he has a name Ėwhereas Nergal implies he gave his original, truly emotionless morphs only numbers- suggests heís not entirely mindless, Denning is a morph only capable of or perhaps willing to endlessly repeat the phrase ďItís a message from lord Nergal: Meet me on the Dread Isle.Ē Indeed, it seems the whole point of this battle was to deliver that message.

The implications are fairly interesting. Basically it looks like Nergal is being pretty clever- more than people think- he manipulates them into doing exactly what he wants. Why does he just pop up and mock the group after the last chapter but not take Nils when he totally could have? Why does he send this force out on a suicide mission now? It looks stupid at first glance, the kind of thing Ephidel would do. But actually, if you think about it it looks like heís being rather clever.

Consider: he knows Ninian could not open the Dragonís Gate for him. But he doesnít know why. He doesnít know Ninian and Nils can give each other their power so he didnít realize that was going on after Cog of Destiny. And he probably cannot even imagine that someone would voluntarily give their power to someone else. As far as he knows, Nils would also be unable to open the gate because something is happening with them that he doesnít understand. Plus, unlike Ninian, Nils had the will to actually defy him anyway as we saw before. So if he took Nils, Nils still couldnít open the gate for him most likely as far as heís aware.

But as is revealed, he does have a backup plan using Ninianís dragon stone and her quintessence- and all he needs for it to work is a giant source of new quintessence. And as he himself states, Eliwoodís group will provide that source. So why didnít he attack them outside the cave where Durandal was? Why just taunt them instead?

Because heís not an idiot. If he attacked them head on, alone, heíd surely kill someone of them, but heíd definitely die in the process. No doubt about it, your group can smash him if they get him alone and on their terms. He needs to get them to fight where heís strong and theyíre weak: in his stronghold surrounded by his morphs. Thatís why he has not one but two ambushes at which heís really concentrated massive forces on the dread isle. And thatís the point of all the taunts and provocations and trying to make Eliwood angry. He wants the group angry enough and panicked enough that they do something stupid like run to his lair and try to attack him head on.

And the last thing he wants is for them to get the other legendary weapons. Hence his whole spiel about being impervious to them- even though itís totally not true and we just saw 5 seconds ago that it wasnít true when Forblaze damaged him. Thatís why he doesnít counterattack Athos. He just wants to pretend he was totally not hurt at all, whereas counterattacking would make it look like the legendary weapon was enough of a threat that he canít just take hits from it indefinitely. And similarly he claims that the other divine weapons canít harm him, but thatís also completely not true.

So his goal was to trick the group into abandoning their best chance at defeating him: taking time to heal their wounds, rest, recover, and think about what theyíre going to do as they gather all 8 legendary weapons and maybe enlist Bramimond too. If that happens, Nergal is done for.

And when he sees the group is actually doing that by stopping to rest at Ostia, he immediately commits a force to attacking them there to make them think they arenít safe anywhere and should just attack him now and get it over with. He doesnít have infinite morphs, so this is a decent loss to him, but by throwing his morphs away so casually he makes it seem like he DOES have an unlimited supply ready to teleport out at any time. And the group does EXACTLY what he wants and think theyíre smart for doing it. The one critical thing he did not predict is that they would bravely go on without Athos. Even Athos is amazed by that. And Athos does what Nergal most feared on his own while the rest of the group charges right into Nergalís trap, so when Athos returns heavily armed and with contingency plans in place, Nergalís fate is sealed.

Are you taking notes, Ephidel?




Well Denning has good stats and good gear for an archer. His res in particular means mages canít really beat him. But heís still just an archer, so the best plan is probably to lure him somewhere and box him in for the rest of the map and then kill him on the last turn. I tried various fancy tricks to trap him with the minimum number of units (2 usually) but couldnít get my people into position for it because of his minions. So eventually I just went with the straightforward but costly 4 man trap and then gradually squeezed him back into a 2-man trap.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!
Playing Through:




First a few pre-battle scenes play. Denning endlessly repeats his message. Perhaps the other morphs are doing the same.




Lyn, being Lyn, tries to say something to console Eliwood but then just goes with this instead.




Itís really a lot like a similar scene in New Resolve.




Nils pops up from those stairs.




And a soldier, thinking heís just a kid rather than the most valuable member of the team, sends him back down into that room there. You know, I suddenly see that this map actually matches up to part of the storming castle ostia map in 6. The top of this map is the bottom of that one. Or close to it anyway. Those two weird staircases in particular.

In ENM Nils is obviously safe down there, but in HHM actually loads of enemies pour out of those stairs where Nils is hiding. Whatís up with that?




Well the first move of the game is getting Dart ready.




But I need to see the results of Raven attacking this guy with Luna before I can decide what to do with Canas and therefore how much of a risk Dart can take.




Raven did well, so Dart goes in as planned. Itís unclear just how many shamans and archers will attack him since there will be other targets, but he should be able to stand up to them.




Nice one.




And since Raven was fine, Canas can heal Dart.




Guy starts moving in for his 3 enemies with Serra behind.




This group starts really far from most enemies, so thereís nothing for Priscilla to do on turn 1 but get these knights out of the way. Plus I might get some use out of dropping them where I need them later. Remember, the enemy turn is before the green unit turn. So any knight I drop stays where they were dropped through the enemy turn at least.




Eliwood and Erk help Nino get to the front faster. Remember what I said about how you should probably be rescue-dropping for maximum mobility on any turn where youíre not fighting.

And everyone else pretty much just moves in as far as they can.




A good level off some shamans for Kent. Heís a very good Kent. Still useless, but it makes training him easier.




This, of course, is why I needed at least 2 restorers in the split-off group. Theyíre the most vulnerary to statuses at the moment.




Remember when I said the knights had one use? This is it. The enemy loves to status them. And every knight they status is a good unit they donít.




And Raven is berserked. With the sleeping knight blocking easy access to him. Still, nothing I canít fix.




The ostian knights are so cute recklessly charging to their deaths after Hector explicitly ordered everyone to hold their positions and just play defense. Itís almost like they think they can fight.

Guy and Serra just keep moving. Itís a good thing the enemy goes before the green units so the knight canít get ahead and block me out.




Canas takes out the blocking enemy and Pent restores Raven. Unfortunately that meant Canas couldnít take out one of the longbow snipers Dart lured into perfect position.




Raven is making a very successful comeback tour.




And that druid drops a spare restore. Too late, all the serious staff maps are over.




So at the start of this turn enemy reinforcements begin big time. The top area here is going to be awash in snipers and druids for a long time and I really donít need them flanking me while I try to move south.




My plan is to trap Denning in that narrow hallway with just 2 people (one being Dart). The idea is to get Dart just at the edge of his range, then have Dart retreat with him following while not realizing that a single unit from the top force has looped behind him. Then heís pinned and out of the fight. Reinforcements stop if he dies, so heís not going to be killed till turn 11.

But to do that, I need these knights thinned out, so Dart is going to start working on that.




Sweet, Lyn can kill someone! I have to take XP for her where I can get it.




Kent is easier to train as long as he has HP.




The generals and knights on this level have a very wide array of weapons. Lances and axes both from spears to poison to killer axes to even one with a devil axe. That makes it hard to counter them effectively.

Everyone else pretty much just charges and thatís the turn.



Guy takes a big hit since the myrmidon is better than him and has a silver sword, but he gets a good level and while Serra canít keep up with the damage, she can keep up with it long enough to drop the myrmidons. The swordmaster actually doesnít hit as hard.




He takes about 5 damage net per turn while itís Myrmidons Guy is fighting.




Well thatís a bad level.




WAY too many knights and generals aggroed to Dart, so I have to give up that plan for now and just focus on clearing these enemies first.




Nosferatu enemies are almost as problematic as Luna ones at time. If the druid hits, Raven wonít actually kill him and will have 40% odds of being killed himself. But hereís the trick: if the druid attacks first and Raven just counterattacks twice on the enemy turn, Nosferatu canít heal him so the druid dies guaranteed In this case, thatís not viable since the druid would attack someone like pent or something instead though.




Def is nice on this fragile guy.




Look at my Kent, my Kent is amazing. Thereís not much to say about the actual fighting, itís just a fairly straightforward brawl as I have my strong units either 1 round kill generals or weaken them just enough for someone weak to get the last blow.




My Lyn is actually quite good too, across the board really. Still useless.




Remember how on Cog of Destiny I realized Eliwood was one of my best guys for Res? He still is. Iíve realized that since he can one round kill any druid and 1-2 round kill any sniper and has good odds to dodge and good defenses, he can probably actually handle this front on his own. Maybe with a Physic. I can see Iím about to run into serious trouble with some generals, so Iíd better go for this with him.




Erk and Nino are highly effective vs the knights and generals. Nino much less so though. Her Mag is mediocre and unlike the knights, the generals have great Res.




8-9 damage per hit to a 45 HP unit is just not acceptable usually.




Thereís some Mag!




So this is actually a difficult situation and I had to spend a while coming up with a plan. That sniper has a longbow, so heís hard to block out. Both generals are WAY too tough to kill. Nino could take 1 hit but not 2. Same for Lyn and Matthew. Priscilla canít even take one.




Priscilla carried that knight for a reason though. She drops him to block the sniper and then Florina blocks the bottom general. Now only one person can attack anyway in that line who isnít Kent, and Kent can dodge the attacks since the general has an axe and the knight an axereaver and Kent has a sword out.




And Hector manages to finish the top general for a nice level.




So this is the formation I went with. Should work. Setting this kind of thing up is actually the main challenge and fun part of this levelís main battle. Thereís no good chokepoints and your units canít stand up to multiple generals with killer axes, so you end up with a fight thatís kind of reminiscent of False Friends or Pirate Ship where youíre desperately putting up crazy formations that block just enough every turn.




The newly dropped Knight is immediately helpful. This turn the enemy runs out of staves.




Next turn, Guy gets his first kill.




On the other side, Raven is able to weaken one of the longbow snipers for Dart to finish.




Dart continues to amaze. This is a roughly average dart. Slightly above. Use Dart on non-ranking runs. Heís like Gonzalez but with a backstory.




And with 2 healers, this group stays ready to fight. Look how many generals there are though! There were tons to start and more are spawning. And in the corner of the screen, you can see the thieves just opened the door south.




More heals.




Last turnís formation woes were just a warmup. What the heck do I do now? Ideally I could get to that diagonal from the corner in the bottom middle over to the wall of the small groupís starting area. Depending on exact formation, 3-4 people could hold it with no one attackable by more than 1 (or 2) foes.

But thereís too many generals and theyíre too tough and worse yet, some have spears and thereís a sniper. That means no formation is really safe. Iíve got to do what I can to block the enemy, but I have to set up across a wider space and focus first and foremost on weakening enemy firepower.




Hector downs one general for a nice level.




Nino moves to form part of my makeshift wall and promotes.




Meh, itíll do! And sheís all ready to go with a heal staff, though for the short term future Iím more at risk of people being 1-2 hit killed than gradually worn down and I need lots of firepower, so healing isnít that useful.




Erk downs a general and continues to amaze. Afaís drops! Cap everything, Erk! Weíll show them! Weíll show them all!




I work with what Iíve got, and sometimes that means Merlinus. This wall is not a good one- most people can be attacked at 1 range by at least 2 people and there are ranged enemies too, but itís the best I can manage. And given the enemyís love of targeting the dodge-y Merlinus first, it SHOULD be enough.




Kent is actually the weak link here, but he should live.




Sweet. Of course, sheís still only gained 1 point of Def in 23 levels. If she continues not gaining it, she might eventually come out looking worse than Artixís Lyn.




A bad level for Eliwood as he continues his lonely but epic battle.




Alright, I survived, new turn! This is turn 5, so the map is still heating up with at least 9 enemies per turn spawning, but Iím in a better position now and have eliminated most of the promoted starting enemies. The last thief spawned this turn and the right door was unlocked. Now every single one of them will make for the Body Ring chest. I need to get over there pretty quickly. I have about 2 turns to cripple the enemy force enough that I can make a real charge and still get there in time.




Easier said than done! Just look at the enemies packed in over there. On this turn I realized that my biggest mistake had been trying to lure Denning up with Dart and whatnot. I should have never tried that, it was never going to work with so many knights. My problem at the moment is 3.5 of my best units on the whole map are now far from the main battle fighting nearly nothing except some generals who just started spawning there. Iíve got to get Canas, Pent, and Raven in particular back to work NOW. They need to start fighting the waves of bottom reinforcements and get Denning pulled out of the way so I can just rush the main group in at full speed once the enemy lines break.




It really is just like some of those early chapters. ďThis is what youíve got, this is what youíre up against; how can you do the most damage and maintain a good enough formation that you can survive another turn.Ē

This is fun. Challenging, but fun. The biggest problem really are the sniper and druid actually. If those are done, the generals are a MUCH more controllable threat. I can just wall those and then slaughter them all next turn.




No one else can do this except Erk, who was needed for other things. Only Hector has the right balance of speed and power for the sniper, so heís got to do it.




Florina was not lucky with the druid, but I had a backup plan and it begins with ďKĒ and ends with ďent with a javelin.Ē




The important thing is the druid is dead. But that was a nice level anyway.




Just one guy canít block the enemy formations very well, so Iím having trouble having Eliwood keep the enemies from pushing past him and shooting my main group in the back. In this case Priscilla had to stand there to heal, but now Lyn and Matthew need to pull her out.

You can see the enemy formation looks superficially unharmed- most of the generals are still intact walling me and there are still knights coming, but those are just knights and many of these generals are injured. And most importantly they have no ranged support, so Iím going to live this turn at least.




Next turn, Guyís long grind has continued. You can see heís almost dead now, but is bringing down the second Myrmidon. And since the swordmaster has a mere killing edge and Guy has an iron rune, from now on heíll be taking much less damage.




Who cares?




This swordmaster has actually been a bit of an issue for the main group. Since on some occasions I wanted to walk Matthew into that range and almost forgot about it.




Alright, now some druids spawn up there with Luna and Eclipse! And more generals down here too. And enemies continue trying to pile into the main battle area to reinforce their lines.




Looks every bit as bad. But itís not. For one thing, Iíve been advancing slightly and my formation got better, so I was taking less damage. For another, they still donít have nearly as much ranged support as they once did.


That said, I donít have much more time to kill, so I really need to make most of these guys dead right now.




First the easy moves. Dart kills one of the mid right generals and gets his last level.




Pent also downs one for a much better level. Get on Erkís level!




And NOW I finally lure Denning.




Easy moves done, itís time for the main group. Itís pretty much full offense time, so Hector breaks formation and kills the sniper. No ranged support for you.




My other damage monster kills one of the tougher remaining generals.




Priscilla gets Florina ready to go.




And a risky move here. I hadnít planned on Eliwood doing so much work originally so heís not equipped for it. He needs more javelins and maybe a stronger sword. Plus I could use more firepower on this front right now at the cost of having to deal with those snipers next turn. So I moved Merlinus here so Eliwood could run up, use him, and then attack with his new stuff.

Merlinus is really a VERY handy unit Iím finding. I talked about some clever ways to use Merch on the battlefield before, but I never realized just how often those situations come up.




Eliwoodís new stuff includes a shiny new armorslayer!




It was that surprise intervention by Eliwood that makes this turnís breakthrough possible.




Florina remains unimpressive, but the enemy lines have been smashed irreparably and I now control the breach. Critically, I deliberately leave a path through my formation- however roundabout- that the enemy thieves think they can get through to get to the treasure. If they think the route is blocked entirely they may just flee the level prematurely. It depends chapter by chapter.




Denning takes the bait and delivers a pointy message from Lord Nergal.




The swordmaster is keeping Guy almost dead, undoing Serraís healing +1 every turn. But that still gives Guy time to kill him provided the swordmaster misses just one attack- or I physic Guy at some point or the like.




The enemy gets the body ring, as expected. Now as long as a path to the treasure remains, the other thieves at least will take it. Which means theyíre running right at all my soldiers + Matthew. The best way to chase down thieves is to make them come to you.




Time to pay the piper. Eliwood led these guys here last turn to take out the general, now I need to undo that damage and keep making progress.




Eliwood kills the other one. Another weird level for my great Eliwood. Unfortunately, it no longer looks like heíll cap his luck. Oh well. That Def is fantastic.




So a minor puzzle on this side. I need to 1) kill that other sniper 2) surround Denning on all sides 3) make sure the people on his left and bottom are tough enough to stand up the reinforcements just off the bottom edge of the picture.




I had to kill the sniper with Dart, unfortunately, a waste of XP, and use physic on pent when heís like 2 squares away which feels like a waste of money, but I got a not bad level up and surrounded him.




Denning is out and those newly spawned wyvern riders will attack people who I want to get XP.




Complete rout time, Kent and the other weak people hack down the remaining knights.




Erk gets even faster and tougher killing one of the remaining generals.




Lockpick number 1 is stolen.




And at the end of turn 7, Iíve won the map. Phew. It was tough getting there. Now I just need to make sure I can kill every last right side enemy.




Kent hits level 18. Yíknow whatís crazy? Sain hit that exact same level in his absolutely amazing phase as he was killing Lundgren. And his stats then were almost just like Kentís now. Ok, better by 1-2 points in the important things, but still really close. This is a darned good Kent, but itís too late to matter.




Raven get a bad level from the attacking wyvern lord.




The swordmaster has missed so Guy is now in no danger whatsoever and just keeps chipping away. Meanwhile those 2 knights have been standing there watching like idiots for 5 turns , not trying to help out anywhere else because they apparently think they can do something here.




Eliwood charges back in and vulneraries up to make absolutely sure he can take a hit from all of those enemies at once if he needs to.




Hm. So I need to keep Denning walled, but I want to get Raven and Pent fighting properly. I basically need Dart and Canas to take their places and to make sure Denning canít kill Dart or something.
Or shoot over them to finish off Pent if he gets hit by a knight or something.




This is the best I could do. Not ideal at all, but it should work since Canas healed Pent up and Dart has his iron axe equipped. With his handaxe Denning could double him.




Florina is garbage vs knights and generals, so she just helps Eliwood a bit.




Second lockpick stolen. The guy behind this one has the body ring I believe.




So hector smacks this one down. Iíve been trying to get kills with his iron blade to pump his sword rank up before The Value of Life.




Pretty darned good, Hector. Pretty darned good.




Pretty darned bad, Florina. Pretty darned bad.

But sheís finally almost caught up on speed at least.




XP is XP, so I donít care if Guy gets nothing at all when he levels. But Florina I have to actually use in real fights.




Turn 9, Eliwood has basically cleared the top. This is the first turn on which spawns are done. All he has to do is deal with the 2 Eclipse and Luna druids.




Third lockpick is mine!




Oh, Lyn crits the guy immediately thereafter.




XP is XP.




Got the body ring.




I realized that with all the stealing he has to do, Matthew doesnít have time to actually get the chests in that room. So I had Merlinus position himself so Priscilla could open this door and then use his chest keys.




Everyone else keeps moving in.




This would be awful if Def wasnít the most important stat for him at the moment.




All the unimportant stats. Oh well.




At last Guy has won! I donít know where those 2 knights think theyíre going now, but the battle is going to be over before they get there.




Last lockpick.




And Priscilla gets the shield.




Denning has made a critical blunder trying to shoot Dart and moved into this corner. Now heís properly trapped, Dart can just pin him.




Eliwood takes out one of the druids for a solid level.




So things are totally under control now on turn 10. All chests are in hand, all lockpicks stolen, Eliwood has only a single druid level to kill, and I have 6 powerful units staring down just 4 enemies and then 3 more next turn. And Denning canít even attack anymore.




Another iron blade kill. Heís now got a C rank. If I can get to A I will, but itís unlikely.




Eliwood kills the last druid while he still has Eclipse equipped. Thatís one of the advantages of 7 move: it means he can lurk just outside this guyís attack range so the druid doesnít try to Luna him instead and then strike while he has Eclipse out to hit someone else.




Priscilla gets the white gem.




And everything else is almost dead.




Kent gets another kill.




Matthew and Lyn bring down the last thief. Iím surprised this guy isnít level 20 already. Iím also really miffed that there are now solid odds heíll NEVER cap speed. Since so many enemy thieves have 20 speed starting by chapter 19xx, thatís really just not acceptable.




And thereís general heal spam to max out my XP on the last turn.




Denning tries to repeat the same message with his last breath. Dibs on his awesome purple bow. No wait, Iíll take the boots instead, someone else can have the bow.




Not bad. Heís going to cap the whole left side, as he usually does.




No survivors.




But, unlike most other survival chapters, this time thereís no different ending congratulating you for completely smashing the enemy. Amusingly the green unit formations are disrupted by where your units are standing. Theyíre all supposed to be in 2 lines.




Remember, the group never actually fought morphs in numbers up till now- except for Kishunaís forces which they had no idea what to make of. And Athos only just explained the concept, so theyíre creeped out to realize that every one of these guys really did look just like Sonia and Ephidel.




The writers did a good job of keeping track of in vs out of character knowledge in this game. But when there are so many cutscenes revealing all sorts of secrets to the player, sometimes doesnít work so great. All these shocking revelations to the characters about the morphs are like 15 chapters old for the player. Itís another of the many downsides of showing us so many cutscenes of the enemyís secret plans and the like.




So Athos says. But some supports Ėand the Kishuna levels which Athos NEVER sees or learns about- suggest that morphs are not just the soulless fiends Athos believes. Whatís really interesting to me about Athos is that he knows so much and really does usually come off as wise- but he also really knows very little about some important things. And despite his wisdom and acknowledgement that the world is full of mysteries, he still doesnít know what he doesnít know and that makes him dreadfully wrong about several things, but everyone in game just assumes he knows what heís talking about.




Athos continues the interrupted story. Nergal had escaped and secretly built up his power and was now ready to resume his original plan of stealing quintessence from dragons. If he did that, heíd be unstoppable.




Athos assumes Nergal will attack Arcadia, so he sets an ambush there.




Eliwood really shows on many occasions that heís a clever guy. One step ahead of even Athos here actually, heís put the pieces together already.




Athos confirms Eliwoodís guess; Nergal predicted Athosís move and sidestepped him by targeting dragons through the Dragonís Gate instead of Arcadia.




And even now Athos doesnít know how he did it! As I said before, thatís really the thing that makes Nergalís better past so poignant. Absolutely no one in the world including his friends, his family, or even himself knows about or will ever know about the man he used to be or how critically that affected the plot.
That kind of dramatic irony where the audience knows things the characters donít know is the great strength of the FE style of story telling with cutscenes of the enemy and such that I was just talking about.




So they make their plans. And Athos decides to actually bring Bramimond up to speed. One gets the impression that the two of them were not at all close among the 8 legends really and have had pretty much no contact for 1000 years. And of course not. Bramimond is soulless and inhuman and probably creeped everyone out during the Scouring.




A very interesting line for reasons Iíll bring up when the time comes. Oh and people often ask whether Bramimond was a man or a woman originally. Iím pretty sure Athos settled that question here. He did call Bramimond post-darkness an it, but he evidently refers to Bramimond reflexively as a male and if anyone would know Bramimondís origins it would be this guy. Teodor too actually, and Teodor always calls Bramimond male.




And neither Nergal nor Athos saw this coming.




Athos is amazed by their bravery. I really like the way Athos wistfully mentions Roland and the others now and then. Despite everyone talking about him now being superhuman, his friendship with the other legends- and the new ones he forms now- show that heís really not fundamentally different from ordinary people. Bramimond and Nergal are, but not Athos.




Good question. Almost as good as where was Athos during the last 2 battles. Heís been right there just not helping.




It did murder the love of his life and use him as a weapon for that purpose, I can kind of see where heís coming from.




And Hector is scared to use Armads for the same reason. Plus, remember, he saw Durban and how Durban seemed to have either confused himself with his axe or just been subsumed by the axeís personality. He may have been champing at the bit to get his hands on it at first, but heís not too stupid to realize it could have serious consequences. And remember, he kept stressing that he wanted it- and would bear any risk- to help Eliwood. But Durandal sure didnít help Eliwood.




Iím not sure how this helps, unless perhaps Athos (maybe with Bramimond) does something to change the weapons so they arenít as dangerous to their wielders.


e

Scene break, the battle is over and Hector finally has a final and awesome confrontation with Oswin.










The Grieving Heart plays again and is once again perfect. Iíve said before that one of the biggest themes of this game is that everyone deals with loss and grief in their own way. Hectorís way is to get angry and determined on the outside and not let anyone know heís sad underneath. Each of the main characters really has their own musical theme that fits just them when theyíve lost someone.




He even threatens to kill Oswin, but Oswin still refuses to speak.




And Hector realizes that this means his brother really is dead, not just sick and off trying to recover somewhere. An all new Hector portrait, which again really captures the stoic front he tries to put on.




And then he flees so Oswin wonít see him cry- or worse yet, not cry because heís said he just canít seem to even when he really wants to.


And thatís the end of another great chapter. The next one will be a real challenge though!

I got every treasure, stole every lockpick, and killed every single enemy. And I did it while training some lowish level units too, though no one really terrible. In the end I believe I got a total of 33 levels. The chapter only requires 20. I havenít crunched the numbers since just before Battle Before Sawn but I believe Iím actually done at this point. I think I have enough XP gained that even if I gained 0 from now on I might be able to get 5 starts. I have 7500 or so surplus at that point and have overperformed by hundreds or thousands on every chapter since then, and the total requirements of the remaining chapters are about 9000 even. So yeah, I think Iím good.

But this letís play is not about the bare minimum. Itís not about the absolute best I could do either, but I aim to do significantly better than the minimum in every category if I can. Enough better that despite never planning on recruiting Farina- and not even reaping the benefits of getting her- I can prove that I could have spent 40k on her, for example. I hope to finish with thousands and thousands of XP more than I needed, a significant store of funds even after promoting Farina, and several spare turns too.

Total Restarts: 35 (One time I accidentally did put Matthew into that swordmasterís range while the latter was of screen, and there was also that first attempt where I was trying to see if Dorcas was usable).
Turn Surplus: 15 (Canít not lose one here)
Things I Regret Missing: The lockpick on chapter 11, that darned archer on chapter 11, this one brigand who attacked Marcus on chapter 12, 2 more brigands who ignored everyone else to attack Marcus on chapter 13x, and 2 archers who ignored Hector and Dorcas (DORCAS!) to attack Marcus on chapter 14, like 10 more enemies I could have killed if Hector could have survived one more turn on chapter18, Uhai who decided to take a 100% chance of death to Sain over a free hit on Hector, the chance to finish shopping properly with my silver card on chapter 21, the armorslayer that I would have acquired if not for a stupid minor mistake on chapter 22, these 3 wyvern riders who decided they preferred a 0% chance to hit Isadaora and then 100% chance of death against her to fighting a low level Heath, those 2 pegasus knights at the end of Crazed Beast that I just didnít have enough time to feed to Bartre, the confused pirate and final archer on Night of Farewells, and the Pure Water on The Berserker.

XenoXiaoyu
Mar 28, 2006

Give us your HANDS
Oops wrong thread

Onmi
Jul 12, 2013

If someone says it one more time I'm having Florina show up as a corpse. I'm not even kidding, I was pissed off with people doing that shit back in 2010, and I'm not dealing with it now in 2016.
I do like what Artix pointed out in his own playthrough, Denning is more an example of how Nergal is just making Morphs to fulfill a single purpose. He clearly doesn't expect Denning to live, he sent him to delive a message and die and maybe kill one or two of Eliwoods compatriots. It's almost shocking how wasteful he is with the limited resource that IS Quintessence.

GilliamYaeger
Jan 10, 2012

Call Gespenst!

Onmi posted:

I do like what Artix pointed out in his own playthrough, Denning is more an example of how Nergal is just making Morphs to fulfill a single purpose. He clearly doesn't expect Denning to live, he sent him to delive a message and die and maybe kill one or two of Eliwoods compatriots. It's almost shocking how wasteful he is with the limited resource that IS Quintessence.

Its really part of Nergal's quite brilliant bluff. By doing that it makes the Morphs seem expendable, like he can just throw them around willy nilly because he can always make more. But as we're aware, the reality is very different. This is really in the same realm as pretending to shrug off Forblaze.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

GilliamYaeger posted:

Its really part of Nergal's quite brilliant bluff. By doing that it makes the Morphs seem expendable, like he can just throw them around willy nilly because he can always make more. But as we're aware, the reality is very different. This is really in the same realm as pretending to shrug off Forblaze.

Exactly, yeah, that's what I was saying.

Bogart
Apr 12, 2010

by VideoGames

(and can't post for 26 days!)

But at the same time, after 1000 years, Athos should've learned the weapons triangle by now. :v:

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!
I just realized: Luna breaking against Lloyd means there's no way whatsoever to have 2 on Light when I need it. Darn. That was so avoidable; all I needed was to save one use and then Hammerne it but I wasn't thinking about how I needed the original 2 tomes on Light. That's going to be trouble, but I can partially mitigate it with some trade chaining.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Here comes the hardest chapter of the game. It doesnít matter how strong your team is; if you donít keep the objective in mind and figure out the 5 moves that are the only way to win, then youíll never complete this chapter on HHM.

Brutally difficult though it may be, this chapter is a great illustration of one of my favorite mechanics in this game: limited shopping opportunities.

Almost All FEs quickly give you access to nearly infinite money- particularly if you sell some of the dramatically overpriced treasures youíll receive. All of the recent ones also give you pretty much unlimited shopping opportunities for that money in one way or another. In Sacred Stones you could just walk back to any store on the map and could even buy basic weapons- albeit at significant markup- in the depths of the postgame dungeons. In 9 you get a group of shopkeepers that inexplicably decide to risk their lives traveling on campaign through every country in the world with your small band of mercenaries as their only customers. You can buy or sell nearly whatever you want at any time and at your leisure except that boringly they donít ever sell some of the interesting weapons. Heck, you can even make your own custom uber weapons which are actually stronger than those that came from the hands of the gods themselves. You can make like 20 of them. 10 kept that up and later in the story even let you inexplicably buy and sell things that other people hundreds of miles away had. And Awakening? The most generous of them all.

I donít really care about the silliness of many of these cases- and the 6-8 system of walking into stores drenched in gore with 5 men riding dragons bearing down on you and walking out with 4 silver swords, a killing edge, and a lancereaver is at least as ridiculous- but I do think that making shopping opportunities unlimited was not a good choice.

Together with class-specific, strictly limited promotional items and unchangeable supports that worked best in triangles or otherwise complex configurations, it was a major source of strategic difficulty and fun. In FE games since 7, strategic considerations have been marginalized or outright removed and I think removing this dimension from the game to leave only tactics was a big loss.

Plus it was sometimes tactically interesting to need to find time in a busy map to get a unit- with a silver card or the like- over to the stores.

Youíve seen many times the kind of difficulties and challenges that the inability to just buy what I wanted caused me over the course of this run, and it would have been a lot less interesting without that if you ask me. So when I play this, the one chapter where FE7 is as generous as the later FEs, I regret that what once was a special and glee-inducing privilege hidden away in a sidequest right before the endgame the norm.


Chapter Summary:

Having returned to their homeland where they are wealthy, powerful, and respected, the heroes make use of their position to get the money they need to buy whatever they need to save the world.
Meanwhile they have several character-developing conversations among themselves. And Bartre does something stupid.




Grieving Heart is still playing. Remember Fargus? Still the only guy willing to sail to the Dread Isle. Heck, telling people why we need to get there would NOT make most people more willing to go now.




Marcus steps in as the voice of everyday practical knowledge and reason, as he has before.




Ok, Hector hasnít become THAT much more responsible.




Best line ever? Best line ever.




Oswin defeats Hector once again.




As has been established before, Hector and Marcus know each other well. Any time Eliwood went to Ostia to see his best friend, Marcus probably went with him.




Hector explains that the town is impressive and imposingÖ because everyone shunned extravagance. Thatís probably also why they have an absolutely enormous, decorated castle as big as the town.




Just what other kinds of nobles are there in Lycia besides marquesses and knights? Does it vary city by city?




In Eliwoodís story we see this line, but we havenít seen the previous Hector-Oswin and Hector-Uther conversations, so we have to take it at face value. Now we know he knows his brother is dead, but he gives no sign and tells no one so that they wonít worry about him or get distracted from their quest. A great deal of the greatness of having the alternative Hector and Eliwood stories is in how a lot of lines like this one are exactly the same but have a completely different meaning in the two stories.




ďA terrifying thought, isnít it? Ha ha ha haaaa!Ē




There are quite a number of possible extra conversations unlockable in these final chapters depending on who has A supports with who among the lords. Unfortunately, those are very hard to get in max ranking runs so I canít show you any of the good ones.

Here we see that at long last- 20 or so chapters of her criticizing and insulting him- Lyn is still criticizing Hector but at least finally acknowledges that Eliwood was probably right that Hector has some good qualities. Even when sheís being nice sheís kind of a twerp isnít she? Only if she and Hector have an A support- and only on this chapter- does she offer anything like an apology for her behavior, and the one she offers implies that she still thinks of him as a violent brute.




Unlike Lyn, Eliwood is neither jerkish nor a poor judge of character.




And here we get a hint that Eliwood understands Hector better than Hector knows he does, being aware of his doubts and that heís hiding them. As will later be revealed, Eliwood has figured out that Uther is dead from how Hector has been acting despite the latterís efforts to conceal it. He just plays along because he thinks thatís better for Hector at the moment. The two of them are always looking out for each other as best they can and itís rather sweet, even if the specifics are sometimes hard to understand.




They segue into another conversation with Lyn talking about how much she loves her newground grandfather.




Eliwood feels similarly for his only remaining family.




Indeed, the charactersí belief that family is more important than anything is the foundation and driving force of the whole plot of both Lyn and Eliwoodís stories. And although the story is superficially about the friendship of these three people and how they all work together to help one another, itís important to note that what they do is help one another protect or find family members. And Lyn in particular Ė but the others as well- comment several times that itís mostly because they understand that protecting family is important that they get involved helping each other.




I think one of the things that gets me about this game is how we can see in advance the many partings the ending will entail, but thereís just no way to prevent all of them- or even most of them. Eliwood will return home to his mother but will see his friend Hector perhaps only once more before the latterís death. Lyn may never be seen again by either of them depending on how long it is before Hausen dies and she returns to the plains. Some characters outright disappear off the face of the earth. And so on.

But thatís life. People are always being parted and always losing precious things, even as they gain others. And I think Fire Emblem in general but this game in particular does a good job of acknowledging that sometimes thatís sad, but at the same time itís necessary in order for there to be growth and change.




I think he might be the only one who consistently uses her real name.




She changes the subject back to the problem at hand.




Meanwhile, these two are having an awkward talk.




Hector tries to brush Oswin off and get back to business with a comment that right now he just needs to pretend Uther is still alive- not for himself but for the others.




And as heís said before, thatís how heís lived his whole life really- he was brought up to and canít help it even when he wants to. As Iíve said before, every character in this game grieves in their own way, just as is true of real people. And itís not just the unique musical tracks for each person at the sad moments that evoke that, that would be a comparatively cheap way to develop this theme. No, something like 10% of the whole script must be devoted to it at least.




Yeah, itís pretty hard not to see where Hector is coming from. Especially because he gave Oswin so many chances to come clean and Oswin had sworn an oath to serve Hector personally after one of their major bonding moments early in the story. Hector really trusted him and he really was betrayed, even if it was for his own good.




Oswin explains why he kept the secret; it was on Marquess Utherís own orders. Which I suppose supersede or are at least equal to Hectorís since he swore to serve both.




And Utherís reasoning is explained. He didnít want Hector to have to choose between returning to his family or staying with his friend when both needed his help. Thereís no right choice there.




So he did what he could to spare Hector the choice altogether.




YeahÖ kind of too little too late on the wanting to help Eliwood with Elbert front. Uther really did pull some jerk moves not helping with that while there was still time and then lying and saying he couldnít have done anything to Eliwoodís face later.


The War Room, part 32

Weíre at that part of the game. The time to break out the unique uber items and use them up if need be. The time to bring the Hammerne staff out of storage. Many chapters ago- on Unfulfilled Heart to be exact. Ursula gave Dart or Heath or someone this special item. It has 3 charges, requires an A in staves to use, and costs a whopping 600 gold per charge.


Iíve talked about it before and even explained most of what Iím about to do with it, but I think itís worth explaining fully here.

So every weapon and every item has a durability statistic- the number of uses remaining before itís broken and lost forever. And thereís no way to restore durability Ė or to prevent its loss except not using the item in question. Except this staff. Every item also has a value, and as you decrease the remaining durability of that item you lose the itemís value in a prorated manner. So a 3 use vulnerary is worth 300 gold, and if you drink 2 charges of it then you only have 100 gold worth left. Since your funds score depends on the total value of all stuff you own + cash on hand, this means that using weapons and items invariably decreases your funds score.

The Hammerne has 3 charges and is worth 1800, so each charge used up is 600 gold down the drain. But it restores whatever item itís used on to maximum durability- which also restores the itemís value. An elixir is worth 3000- 1000 per charge. So using the Hammerne on an elixir which has lost exactly one charge gives you 1000 Ė 600 = a net 400 increase in assets. Clearly you should not save up the Hammerne when it can generate money for you.

But you shouldnít use it on an elixir either. No, remember the economic concept I brought up before: opportunity cost. The true cost of using the Hammerne on the elixir isnít the 600 for the Hammerne, but the maximum possible gain you could have got from using it on something else. For example, if you had a second elixir that was at 1 use left instead of 2, then the true profit of using the Hammerne on the first Elixir instead of the second is -1000, a major loss.

But thereís a bit more to it than that: you should never be using elixirs in the first place. Thereís just no need for them and it wastes a massive chunk of money. If you even HAVE a 2 or 1 charge elixir then you have screwed up. And if use the Hammerne to undo that mistake, you still pay a price: the value of restoring a much useful (or valuable) item to full durability.

So the ideal things to use the Hammerne on are those which are:
1) Extremely valuable when at maximum durability
2) Currently at very low durability
3) Not about to be used again (if youíre going to use it again soon and it has more than like 1 charge left, just use it first and THEN Hammerne it)
4) Actually useful items.

What are the most monetarily valuable items in the game which have more than 1 possible charge (anything that hits 0 is gone forever, even the Hammerne canít restore them)?

The S-rank weapons at 15000 Ė 35000, the spear and Fenrir at 9000, aura and fortify at 8000, the brave lance and brave bow and warp at 7500, the rapier and Wolf Beil and Fimbulvetyr at 6000, luna at 5250, eclipse at 4000, physic at 3750, nosferatu at 3200, and the wyrmslayer and tomahawk and elixir and purge at 3000

Also a few items like the Wind Sword and such which are not actually acquirable.

Which of those are actually useful items? Well things like Fenrir and aura and so forth are right out. Those are either too heavy or only available at almost the exact same time as the superior S rank weapons or the like.

And the S-rank weapons themselves are not good candidates since by the time you get them the game is over and youíre evidently already smashing up the hardest enemies without them.

Really the huge-priced uber weapons in general are not good because theyíre only marginally better than normal weapons. Only weapons with specially early availability or unusual functions are worth including.

The shortened list is: Fortify at 8000, Warp at 7500, Rapier and Wolf Beil at 6000, Luna at 5250, Physic at 3750, wyrmslayer and purge at 3000.

Fortify is certainly very handy, but Iíve never needed more than 1-2 charges of it. And itís only available really late anyway. Warp is in a similar category. Physic is not a bad candidate, but because I tend to buy multiple physic staves but use them sparingly, I again donít tend to get one staff with really low uses. Although I could doubtless pull some interesting tricks with it, I think Purge is in the elixir category of use avoidable enough that you shouldnít use it.

Rapier, Wolf Beil, Luna, and Wyrmslayer. And Wyrmslayer is much less pricey. So the 3 are all decided basically. Those 3 weapons are incredibly pricey and incredibly useful and will likely see enough use to get them down to just a few charges left. Theyíre perfect candidates, at least for my style of play.

Stupidly, I actually used up my last charge of one Luna tome so I canít Hammerne it now. But Iíve been planning on the Rapier and Wolf Beil all game and theyíve been sitting in storage with 2-4 uses each.

Oh and Filaís Might/Ninisís Grace WOULD be on that list despite having 0 monetary valuable due to sheer usefulness, but it turns out Hammerne just arbitrarily doesnít work on them, as I found out this level. Oops.


Battle Preparations & the Map:




Not much to see here. Karla only appears if you bring Bartre and heís a level 5 or higher warrior.




I need to clear serious Merlinus space and as long as I buy only with the silver card there is no loss for selling items, so I sell everything thatís halfway broken or otherwise not worth very much and can either be replaced or isnít needed. I need a lot of empty space so I can buy lots of handy items that arenít half broken.




Remember, with the silver card all cash awards can be doubled. The chapter expects me to gain 30,000 gold, but I can gain 60,000 just by using the silver card. Thatís a nice profit.



Objective: Survive 5 Turns.
Secondary Objective: Do some shopping
Secondary Objective: Recruit Karla with Bartre
Secondary Objective: Develop some supports since thereís some time to kill
Reinforcements: None. I half-expected some kind of Damian-type thing my first time on this chapter. Perhaps in part because the same music is playing as on The Port of Badon.
Turn Limit: 5. And itís a survival chapter, so again that means I lose 1 turn.
Units Allowed: 9+ Hector
Units Brought:
1) Eliwood. I want to try to get him to B support with Hector since heís a really good unit.
2) Lyn. I want to try to get her some supports with Florina because I might as well. And maybe with Eliwood because I have to drag her to Light anyway.
3) Bartre. Needed to recruit Karla.
4) Florina. I want to try to get her support with Lyn because I might as well and with Fiora because both are going to see more use, and their similar movement pattern makes them a natural team.
5) Fiora. I want to get her supports with Florina. And as a flyer (who only needs to support with 1 other person) sheís my most natural silver card user.
6) Erk. A tiny bit of heal grinding on Bartre and Karla since heís so close to a new staff rank + support building with Nino and Pent.
7) Nino. Support building with Canas and Erk.
8) Pent. Either he or Canas will be using the Hammerne staff this chapter since I have so much time to kill. It gives serious XP and Canas is too high level, so Iím having Pent use it. Plus building support with Erk and Canas.
9) Canas. Building support with Pent and Nino. Plus I need a 3rd item to Hammerne since I donít have Luna as planned. After reviewing my options I decided on a moderately expensive Barrier staff because I could use up some of the remaining charges of that first for free XP.
Notable Units Rejected:
1) Priscilla. Since unpromoted people get twice as much staff XP as promoted, sheís the natural Hammerne choice over Pent. But sheís too high level. Sheís about 140 from 20 and will easily get that much in the next few levels- or from just using the staff 3 times basically. Since I donítí want to kick her off the team necessarily, I donít want he 20ing early.
2) Matthew. Has an interesting conversation with Hector, but this run is about strategy more than seeing every conversation.
3) Serra. Same as Matthew, and she only has a B in staves so she canít use the Hammerne.


Playing Through:




Didnít you hear me say I wasnít going to use any of those?




Guess not. Also is he seriously asking the tactician to fight? It DOES fit his character I suppose.




Karla appears, looking for someone.




ďBrother, brother, fight, fight,Ē ĖKarla, every time she opens her mouth.

And here are her stats.




And here are Guyís. Heís about 7 levels lower and without his pretty sweet promotion gains and heís still almost as good as her much. And her growths are awful.




And hereís a real swordsman of the same level. He would double her and one round kill her with an iron sword. With 90% hit odds, which with true hit means a 96% chance of one round kill. With her signature weapon she can barely scratch him. And she even has a higher chance of missing. And most importantly he gets axes. Even the awful Karel is better than this loser.

Harken would also clobber her in the mercenary department, but saying mercenaries are better than myrmidons is sky is blue territory honestly. Raven just happened to be at the exact same level, so he made an interesting comparison.




Yíknow what else is interesting? Even Bartre doesnít shape up that badly against her. If they both use iron weapons, he is going to crush her. Even with her Wo Dao, heís got >50% odds to win their fight. And heís BARTRE. But canonically weíre apparently supposed to believe she completely outclasses him and just lets him live at this point.

I absolutely hate Karel as a character, he is the most annoying guy in the game. And Karla has no personality other than being Karel lite and wanting to find him. So sheís the second most annoying person in the game with a side of irksome FE tendency to make womenís stories revolve entirely around men. I am done talking about her.




I find her sword more interesting to talk about. It is a mediocre sword. The game will tell you it is a very good sword. This is a lie. I am done talking about her sword.




Such the gentleman. Bartre runs up and talks to her. She apparently spends all her time just going arena to arena murdering people in the hopes that her brother might happen to be there. No one ever calls her out on this. Give her an axe to the face, Bartre.




She gets a crit, he lives, and the fight ends. He has >65% odds of killing her if they continued another round. But they pretend she won even though her even doing decently against a nearly minimum level and mediocre Bartre depended on getting a crit, which had roughly 40% odds of not happening in either hit- a higher chance than him missing in the first place.
If it seems like Iím harping on this point, itís because Iíve been harping on Bartreís awfulness for 25 chapters and want to make it clear just how bad this new character is by comparing her to him thoroughly.




I hadnít noticed.




Darned straight we do!




She announces sheís joining and explains why. Sheís going to switch from killing random people in arenas to killing whoever we kill in hopes her brother will just happen to be there. She has no idea at all who we are or who weíre fighting at this point, but she doesnít care who sheíll be killing as long as thereís a > 0 chance of finding her even eviler brother. This is a villainess of the same level of murderousness as Sonia or Vaida. No one ever acknowledges this.




It might if there was any reason to ever want him on the team instead of Harken.




Bartre is mad sheís walking out on him when he has her on the ropes. ďAnd you call yourself the toughest wench alive?!Ē


Oh and I was just fooling around checking to see if there were any conversations I hadnít seen before and happened to find this one. It occurs if you have Bartre talk to Karla when he has no weapon.




Is he talking to himself? I guess? The whole conversation is a bit hard to follow.




And she mocks him and leaves. Well not too interesting, but I never saw it before. Thereís all kinds of secret or quasi-secret stuff in this game, Iím always finding new things.




Alright, so the chapter proper begins. I might as well give Erk some healing XP from Karla.




And move into this box support growing position.




Pent uses the Hammerne, Erk is carrying the Wolf Beil and Rapier for this purpose.




(Note that it really does work on the Rapier, not the Heal that it displays here).




Fiora shops for a few tomes.




And florina can support her!




The conversation is mostly Fiora being protective of her formerly timid younger sister.




Lyn can also support Florina right away now.




Itís a very similar conversation. Most of hers are. Iíve mentioned Florinaís single-trait personality annoys me before.




So hereís my support building formation. I basically keep this up for the rest of the chapter, shifting the location store to store but not whoís next to who.




Sword shopping. Because I bought loads of iron weapons before and because I need to compensate for being down a Luna and most of Filaís Might, Iím making sure to buy an unusual number of high end weapons like silver ones, killer ones, and reavers. Still not many, but Iíd usually buy 0.




Pent repairs the wolf beil.




Karla visits the random advice village where we learn- about 40 chapters into the game on the second or later playthrough- that you can sell items.




And where we learn with 2 chapters left (or 3 if you know about the most secret of sidequests) that sometimes those items you might sell would have come in handy later on.




Just more turns of roughly the same formation shifting store to store. I bought a very large number of axereavers just in case because there is a chapter with nothing but like 40 berserkers on it coming up and I donít know which team members will be well suited to it.




And I tried to repair the Filaís Might. Thatís how I found out it canít be done. Restart!
On the second playthrough I did everything the same, except I had Canas cast Barrier every turn for free XP before using the Hammerne on the 2 use remaining Barrier staff on the last turn. A decent amount of money earned, plus some XP. Not as good as restoring that Luna would have been.
But counting my usual 10 gold or less for 1 XP is a pretty good trade ratio rule of thumb, plus that it was already lowish on uses and decently valuable AND decently useful, the humble Barrier staff was my best option.




Well it did its job. +12,000 or so gold right there. Just a shame it couldnít be +15,000. And, you know, that Iím down a Luna and Filaís Might for this difficult bit of the game.




All done. I couldnít actually spend all my money before Merlinus filled up- a waste of nearly 20k gold- but I have one last chance to fix that next levelÖ if I play my cards right (ba dum tsh).




Eliwood makes an excuse and heads out for a moment.




And goes to the empty throne room to talk to his brother about the future and the things he never got a chance to say.




And, apparently, about wanting to abolish the whole system of nobility or something. Iím pretty sure no one mentioned that was a goal before.







If you donít recognize this place without the label by now, Ö actually I canít really think of a way that would happen without deciding to skip all early game cutscenes and watch all late ones for some reason.




Returning, Nergal reveals that he took Ninianís dragon stone. Probably from Nils actually. Most likely she gave it to him when they did that hands-clasped power sharing thing. In fact, they might even just be exchanging their dragon stone when they do that.




Holy cow, the gate opened! Heís now revealing that backup plan I mentioned he had in the previous chapter but which first time players donít know about till now.




So thatís another reason he popped in just after Ninian died. And the reason he grabbed Nils with his magic but didnít leave with him. He just needed the dragon stone that he took secretly and Ninianís quintessence. With her quintessence used on her dragon stone and his power greater than ever, he can finally open the dragonís gate without having her alive.




Itís just another Thursday at work for Limstella.




Explicit confirmation that what he said to Athos about the legendary weapons- and forblaze in particular- no longer being able to harm him was a lie.




Another sign that heís more cautious and capable of understanding the limits of his power than he usually lets on to the heroes. And proof that he really is running short on spare quintessence at the moment, so he canít make any more morphs but tries to make it look otherwise.




Like an adjutant giving a supply report about something totally mundane to her general. They ate one of the most dangerous organizations in the world alive between the two of them and neither thinks of that as anything remarkable.




Just as planned!


Total Restarts: 36. Yeah. I had to restart on a level with no enemies.
Turn Surplus: 14. Thatís the last turn lost to a survival chapter. Thereís one more 0 chapter left and it can be a doozy, so I canít slip up and go overtime on Victory or Death or Light or itís all been for nothing.
Things I Regret Missing: The lockpick on chapter 11, that darned archer on chapter 11, this one brigand who attacked Marcus on chapter 12, 2 more brigands who ignored everyone else to attack Marcus on chapter 13x, and 2 archers who ignored Hector and Dorcas (DORCAS!) to attack Marcus on chapter 14, like 10 more enemies I could have killed if Hector could have survived one more turn on chapter18, Uhai who decided to take a 100% chance of death to Sain over a free hit on Hector, the chance to finish shopping properly with my silver card on chapter 21, the armorslayer that I would have acquired if not for a stupid minor mistake on chapter 22, these 3 wyvern riders who decided they preferred a 0% chance to hit Isadaora and then 100% chance of death against her to fighting a low level Heath, those 2 pegasus knights at the end of Crazed Beast that I just didnít have enough time to feed to Bartre, the confused pirate and final archer on Night of Farewells, like 5 charges of Filaís Might and a Luna tome I should have Hammerned on Cog of Destiny, and the Pure Water on The Berserker.

Melth fucked around with this message at 20:55 on Apr 20, 2015

Cake Attack
Mar 26, 2010

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=don3jvntd5s

Worthleast
Nov 25, 2012

Possibly the only speedboat jumps I've planned

If you bring Serra, she has a great character building conversation with Hector. I'll try and transcribe it if I get a chance. It isn't on Serene's.

ChaosArgate
Oct 10, 2012

Why does everyone think I'm going to get in trouble?

Melth posted:



Itís just another Thursday at work for Limstella.

I think you mixed up a screenshot here.

Worthleast
Nov 25, 2012

Possibly the only speedboat jumps I've planned

Here's the conversation between Serra and Hector for Battle Preparations (Hector's story only)

Serra: Looorrrd He-ctor!

Hector: Hm? Oh, Serra. What is it?

Serra: Eww! Is there something wrong with you?

Hector: What do you mean?

Serra: Come on! Iím right here, and youíre not mad or anything! Itís like all the laws of nature have been inverted!

Hector: ÖDo I really treat you so poorly?

Serra: Yes, you do. You make that face and shoo me away.

Hector: Really? Sorry about that.

Serra: Donít do that! Oh, youíre bound to cause some catastrophe if you keep behaving so oddly! Run for your lives! Hectorís being nice!

Hector: UhÖ

Serra: Oh, Iím only joking. Thereís reason to run after all! Only, Lord Hector, thereís just one thing I must know.

Hector: What is it?

Serra: When is Lord Uther coming back?

Hector: What?!

Serra: I was so looking forward to getting some sort of reward. With him gone, Iím wondering how much longer I must wait! I wouldíve love to have gone to Etruria! Iím so disappointed!

Hector: ÖSo no oneís told you anything either.

Serra: Hm? About what?

Hector: Itís a-- nothing.

Serra: Hm? Somethingís weird. More importantly, Lord Hector! Itís time to go shopping. Iíve found some hair ornaments that are perfect for meÖ

Hector: Do you want me to buy them?

Serra: Huh? Would you really?

Hector: You want them, right?

Serra: No, no, noÖ

Hector: Are you sure?

Serra: Look ooouuuuuutttt!!! Itís an earthquake!! Itís the cataclysm! Save me! Blessed Elimine!!

Hector: ÖHey. Thatís a bit much, isnít it?

Shiki Dan
Oct 27, 2010

If ya can move ya toes ya back's fine

Well, that's just perfect.

Dr. Buttass
Aug 12, 2013

AWFUL SOMETHING
Speaking of supports I've been looking a few of them up and I'm not sure the writers really recognize what a healthy relationship is, if Vaida's are anything to go by. Especially Vaida and Heath.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Dr. Buttass posted:

Speaking of supports I've been looking a few of them up and I'm not sure the writers really recognize what a healthy relationship is, if Vaida's are anything to go by. Especially Vaida and Heath.

Vaida IS evil and insane and never in character. Heath/Legault all the way.

Nihilarian
Oct 2, 2013


If you aren't supporting Vaida/Wallace then I just don't know what to say.

Fedule
Mar 27, 2010


No one left uncured.
I got you.

Melth posted:



Brutally difficult though it may be, this chapter is a great illustration of one of my favorite mechanics in this game: limited shopping opportunities.

Almost All FEs quickly give you access to nearly infinite money- particularly if you sell some of the dramatically overpriced treasures youíll receive. All of the recent ones also give you pretty much unlimited shopping opportunities for that money in one way or another. In Sacred Stones you could just walk back to any store on the map and could even buy basic weapons- albeit at significant markup- in the depths of the postgame dungeons. In 9 you get a group of shopkeepers that inexplicably decide to risk their lives traveling on campaign through every country in the world with your small band of mercenaries as their only customers. You can buy or sell nearly whatever you want at any time and at your leisure except that boringly they donít ever sell some of the interesting weapons. Heck, you can even make your own custom uber weapons which are actually stronger than those that came from the hands of the gods themselves. You can make like 20 of them. 10 kept that up and later in the story even let you inexplicably buy and sell things that other people hundreds of miles away had. And Awakening? The most generous of them all.

I donít really care about the silliness of many of these cases- and the 6-8 system of walking into stores drenched in gore with 5 men riding dragons bearing down on you and walking out with 4 silver swords, a killing edge, and a lancereaver is at least as ridiculous- but I do think that making shopping opportunities unlimited was not a good choice.

Together with class-specific, strictly limited promotional items and unchangeable supports that worked best in triangles or otherwise complex configurations, it was a major source of strategic difficulty and fun. In FE games since 7, strategic considerations have been marginalized or outright removed and I think removing this dimension from the game to leave only tactics was a big loss.

Plus it was sometimes tactically interesting to need to find time in a busy map to get a unit- with a silver card or the like- over to the stores.

Youíve seen many times the kind of difficulties and challenges that the inability to just buy what I wanted caused me over the course of this run, and it would have been a lot less interesting without that if you ask me. So when I play this, the one chapter where FE7 is as generous as the later FEs, I regret that what once was a special and glee-inducing privilege hidden away in a sidequest right before the endgame the norm.

This here speaks to what I am reasonably certain is the largest issue behind the trends we're seeing - and the reactions we're seeing to those trends - in videogame difficulty lately.

The reason we're not seeing stuff like this that's tactical while also fiercely strategic isn't, I think, because of the difficulty, but because of how daunting it is.

The biggest problem you face when trying to sell something like this to players is the potential for large amounts of time to be wasted on unsuccessful attempts. Even if you granted people stuff like total knowledge of map secrets, reinforcement formations and instant knowledge of your standings (we'll come back to that last one), there will still be times where you have to decide whether or not your last run of that one level is good enough to commit, and always there is the risk that late into the game you will conclude that your max rank is unrecoverable. Even when you're totally informed, there's still uncertainty there. And that's why I've never seriously attempted a max-rank run of 7 - because I know I'd never be happy starting until I'm so-well informed that playing through it all will basically be a formality and will never be any fun.

Fire Emblem is such that even playing through carries such a risk, although IntSys took a lot of steps to mitigate it, like the constant influx of new units, the endgame god-units, etc etc. Lately we've been seeing more and more systems set up that make it so that even moderately informed players can almost never make long-term strategic screwups, culminating in Awakening, in which you can grind... well, everything, and there's no ranks to worry about.

Now let me talk about Prince of Persia (the original), and PoP Classic (the 2007 remake of the original, not to be confused with the reboot or the reboot of the reboot).

Prince of Persia is a game in which you have to clear all of the levels, cumulatively, in under an hour, or you lose.

Growing up, I never wanted to try and beat Prince of Persia for more or less the same reason I don't want to max-rank HHM today; because even then I hated hated hated the idea of losing all that progress (look man, 7-year-old me didn't have a solid grasp of timespan, okay?) and having to keep starting over. Frankly I still would hesitate a little. But! PoP Classic came out, and was a super faithful remake in everything but graphical presentation, playing and controlling identically, and I sure as hell beat that. There was one tiny but monumental thing it did change; you could go back and redo previous levels at will, and your times would carry forward when you replayed the later levels. So suddenly, it didn't matter if you took way too long on a level because the only time you'd lose is the time it took you to redo that one level.

Basically, what I'm saying is, I'd love to see a game like FE7 that was also like PoP Classic. It'd have to be a lot more sophisticated of course - we'd be talking about tracking all items consumed and all EXP and levels gained per level and I don't know how you'd even handle certain things (like optional chapters drifting in and out of eligibility) - but it's one of those ideas that I've always wanted to see happen from pretty much the first moment it occurred to me. You don't make any of the moment to moment stuff any harder, and you don't even make the long-term planning stuff harder, really - you just massively, massively reduce the cost of messing up, and in doing so, probably the biggest barrier to entry.

If you won't do that, if I could suggest one thing that would do the most to fix HHM's Daunt Problem, it would be this; show us the data. Let us see, plainly, how we stack up to the rank requirements, give us a breakdown after each chapter of that chapter's pars, and let us see those pars at the beginning. Then at least we'll not have to go to so much effort just to check whether or not we're still in the running before we get screwed by a zero-turn chapter with an EXP ranking of like a jillion.

This is a good LP.

Zulily Zoetrope
Jun 1, 2011

a smug little rat! 😏🐀


Muldoon
Vaida's supports are not good, because Vaida's character is not good. The best supports are on characters with already established good personalities, like Matthew or Canas, and the occasional wild card like Isadora and the one character we haven't had the chance to recruit.

Also, I think the whole Ninian scene back then does have unique music, but it's one of the two Shocking Truth themes, which you'd never notice were different if they didn't both appear on the soundtrack. One is slightly lower key and has a synth bass undertone, while the other is slightly more urgent. There's also a unique theme that does line up with the slow scrolling text if Eliwood and Ninian have an A support. Hector and Lyn also get a unique conversation if they have an A support on Hector's mode in this chapter, which unique theme as well (this is the one you need if you have the sound room 99% complete).

ApplesandOranges
Jun 22, 2012

He will know I am near when he hears the screams of my enemies.
Vaida/Dorcas is the best support.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Fedule posted:


Basically, what I'm saying is, I'd love to see a game like FE7 that was also like PoP Classic. It'd have to be a lot more sophisticated of course - we'd be talking about tracking all items consumed and all EXP and levels gained per level and I don't know how you'd even handle certain things (like optional chapters drifting in and out of eligibility) - but it's one of those ideas that I've always wanted to see happen from pretty much the first moment it occurred to me. You don't make any of the moment to moment stuff any harder, and you don't even make the long-term planning stuff harder, really - you just massively, massively reduce the cost of messing up, and in doing so, probably the biggest barrier to entry.

If you won't do that, if I could suggest one thing that would do the most to fix HHM's Daunt Problem, it would be this; show us the data. Let us see, plainly, how we stack up to the rank requirements, give us a breakdown after each chapter of that chapter's pars, and let us see those pars at the beginning. Then at least we'll not have to go to so much effort just to check whether or not we're still in the running before we get screwed by a zero-turn chapter with an EXP ranking of like a jillion.


An interesting idea, though I also have no idea how things like items being used up or not used up or characters being recruited or not recruited would work.

I think the latter idea is more workable because it happens in AW2 (imo the most challenging and fun AW series game, though of course it doesn't have the > most FE games story and characters of Days of Ruin).

If you wanted to unlock Sturm (by far the best character and one of the most fun) you had to S rank the campaign overall. You could do badly on a level here or there, but your average had to be an S, which did not leave much wiggle room at all. So it was entirely possible- and happened to me once when I was a 10 year old noob- that I beat the campaign only to end up with an A rank overall despite working hard to S rank almost all chapters. It wasn't nearly as challenging as a max rank HHM run, but it was at least comparable in principle. And that was like 30 hours trying to unlock Sturm down the drain as an abject failure. You couldn't even have spare save files a few chapters back to work from like in FE; you had to start all over.

But what made that not incredibly daunting was that you were graded as you went. Every chapter they showed you exactly how many points out of 100 you got in each ranking category and what letter grade you got from that chapter. So it was very easy to tell roughly how you were doing and pretty easy to tell exactly how you were doing. So usually you knew if you were on track, and you definitely knew where you'd screwed up if you did screw up. What's more, this ranking screen came before you saved your progress, so you could totally just restart the level and do better.

That system worked and FE should probably adopt something like it. It's a shame AW kind of dropped it in later games by making the rankings matter less and be easier to achieve.


In this LP I've gone to huge lengths to find out how I'm doing- like totaling up the exact value of every use of every item in my Lyn's mode section to make sure I was on track to get the White Gem or totalling up the exact amount of XP gained by every single character in Hector's mode and then comparing that to the requirements.
Or my elaborate and complicated trick for finding out my current funds surplus.
Or even just writing down how many turns I beat every single chapter in and comparing that to the serenesforest tables telling you what the time limits actually are.
On one level, it is kind of fun to come up with ways to find out the info they won't give you. But really, that knowledge should just be provided in game. And they should tell you what each ranking category actually measures for that matter.



Kajeesus posted:

The best [Vaida] supports are on characters with already established good personalities, like Matthew or Canas.


Ugh, I hate her support with Canas. It's just her bullying him and destroying priceless ancient books on magic because she's a jerk and a moron. And doesn't realize he could vaporize her if he wasn't the 2nd nicest guy on the planet after Lucius and possibly even before Eliwood.

Onmi
Jul 12, 2013

If someone says it one more time I'm having Florina show up as a corpse. I'm not even kidding, I was pissed off with people doing that shit back in 2010, and I'm not dealing with it now in 2016.

Fedule posted:

This here speaks to what I am reasonably certain is the largest issue behind the trends we're seeing - and the reactions we're seeing to those trends - in videogame difficulty lately.

The reason we're not seeing stuff like this that's tactical while also fiercely strategic isn't, I think, because of the difficulty, but because of how daunting it is.

The biggest problem you face when trying to sell something like this to players is the potential for large amounts of time to be wasted on unsuccessful attempts. Even if you granted people stuff like total knowledge of map secrets, reinforcement formations and instant knowledge of your standings (we'll come back to that last one), there will still be times where you have to decide whether or not your last run of that one level is good enough to commit, and always there is the risk that late into the game you will conclude that your max rank is unrecoverable. Even when you're totally informed, there's still uncertainty there. And that's why I've never seriously attempted a max-rank run of 7 - because I know I'd never be happy starting until I'm so-well informed that playing through it all will basically be a formality and will never be any fun.

Fire Emblem is such that even playing through carries such a risk, although IntSys took a lot of steps to mitigate it, like the constant influx of new units, the endgame god-units, etc etc. Lately we've been seeing more and more systems set up that make it so that even moderately informed players can almost never make long-term strategic screwups, culminating in Awakening, in which you can grind... well, everything, and there's no ranks to worry about.

Now let me talk about Prince of Persia (the original), and PoP Classic (the 2007 remake of the original, not to be confused with the reboot or the reboot of the reboot).

Prince of Persia is a game in which you have to clear all of the levels, cumulatively, in under an hour, or you lose.

Growing up, I never wanted to try and beat Prince of Persia for more or less the same reason I don't want to max-rank HHM today; because even then I hated hated hated the idea of losing all that progress (look man, 7-year-old me didn't have a solid grasp of timespan, okay?) and having to keep starting over. Frankly I still would hesitate a little. But! PoP Classic came out, and was a super faithful remake in everything but graphical presentation, playing and controlling identically, and I sure as hell beat that. There was one tiny but monumental thing it did change; you could go back and redo previous levels at will, and your times would carry forward when you replayed the later levels. So suddenly, it didn't matter if you took way too long on a level because the only time you'd lose is the time it took you to redo that one level.

Basically, what I'm saying is, I'd love to see a game like FE7 that was also like PoP Classic. It'd have to be a lot more sophisticated of course - we'd be talking about tracking all items consumed and all EXP and levels gained per level and I don't know how you'd even handle certain things (like optional chapters drifting in and out of eligibility) - but it's one of those ideas that I've always wanted to see happen from pretty much the first moment it occurred to me. You don't make any of the moment to moment stuff any harder, and you don't even make the long-term planning stuff harder, really - you just massively, massively reduce the cost of messing up, and in doing so, probably the biggest barrier to entry.

If you won't do that, if I could suggest one thing that would do the most to fix HHM's Daunt Problem, it would be this; show us the data. Let us see, plainly, how we stack up to the rank requirements, give us a breakdown after each chapter of that chapter's pars, and let us see those pars at the beginning. Then at least we'll not have to go to so much effort just to check whether or not we're still in the running before we get screwed by a zero-turn chapter with an EXP ranking of like a jillion.

This is a good LP.

Pretty sure this is how FE7x is set up to work actually.

Zulily Zoetrope
Jun 1, 2011

a smug little rat! 😏🐀


Muldoon

Melth posted:

Ugh, I hate her support with Canas. It's just her bullying him and destroying priceless ancient books on magic because she's a jerk and a moron. And doesn't realize he could vaporize her if he wasn't the 2nd nicest guy on the planet after Lucius and possibly even before Eliwood.

Uh, I just meant the best supports in general. I forgot that Vaida and Canas had a support at all.

Blaze Dragon
Aug 28, 2013
LOWTAX'S SPINE FUND

Guys, guys. Clearly the best supports are Thani's in FE6.

Did you know she's weak to arrows?!

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Blaze Dragon posted:

Guys, guys. Clearly the best supports are Thani's in FE6.

Did you know she's weak to arrows?!

So THAT'S why she was always dying to nomads! I bet that's why the bow symbol was flashing when they attacked her too! This is going to revolutionize the metagame.

i81icu812
Dec 5, 2006
If you actually are playing on cartridge and have the double dash bonus disk and the stupid Nintendo gamboy connector cable, the wind sword and the other bonus items are AWESOME and make the funds rank almost trivial. You get:

Dragon Axe
Emblem Blade
Emblem Axe
Emblem Bow
Emblem Lance
Emblem Seal
Wind Sword
Silver Card
Energy Ring
Dragon Shield
Body Ring
Angelic Robe
Secret Book
Goddess Icon


Silver Card is obvious, but all the bonus stats are a huge pile of money. A magic sword with 1-2 range, a dragon killing axe, and a pile of 60 use iron weapons are a nice bonus.

Rabbi Raccoon
Mar 31, 2009

I stabbed you dude!

Blaze Dragon posted:

Guys, guys. Clearly the best supports are Thani's in FE6.

Did you know she's weak to arrows?!

I really hope Thany knows to avoid archers. They're her weakness, you know.

Tae
Oct 24, 2010

Hello? Can you hear me? ...Perhaps if I shout? AAAAAAAAAH!
So is it still called Thany instead of Shanna because Binding Sword didn't come over here?

Onmi
Jul 12, 2013

If someone says it one more time I'm having Florina show up as a corpse. I'm not even kidding, I was pissed off with people doing that shit back in 2010, and I'm not dealing with it now in 2016.

Tae posted:

So is it still called Thany instead of Shanna because Binding Sword didn't come over here?

Also because Shanna is a dumb name for dumb people

Cake Attack
Mar 26, 2010

shanna is a name for people, which is more than can be said about thany

Onmi
Jul 12, 2013

If someone says it one more time I'm having Florina show up as a corpse. I'm not even kidding, I was pissed off with people doing that shit back in 2010, and I'm not dealing with it now in 2016.

Cake Attack posted:

shanna is a name for people, which is more than can be said about thany

YOU'RE a name for people!

Dr. Buttass
Aug 12, 2013

AWFUL SOMETHING

Melth posted:

Vaida IS evil and insane and never in character. Heath/Legault all the way.

Yeah Heath/Legault is one of the ones I liked. Fugitive bros.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


A fittingly awesome and dramatic title for the fiercest, hugest battle of the whole campaign. As is fairly common in FE, the final level is a moderately sized puzzle-y kind of level and the second to last level is where they pull out all the stops and you fight giant hordes of enemies across a huge landscape.

In the scheme of things, itís actually a pretty easy level. Thereís only one staff wielder on the whole enemy force- and heís just a bishop. And just two long-ranged attackers. Ballistae make a comeback in a big way, but theyíre still not that big a threat. The Valkyries return Cog of Destiny style, but youíve got a bunch more levels now and there are fewer of them and they donít have staves and most of them have Elfire, which really weakens them badly since thatís -4 speed.

Thereís one minor ambush gimmick, but itís pretty much just not a problem at all. No, this is probably the most straightforward battle since Four-Fanged Offense. Or maybe even further back since that had the whole alternate versions available, one is fog of war, and the other is completely tangled up with stores and lakes and stuff thing going on. Iím going to go with Noble Lady of Caelin actually. This is the most normal and straightforward and Ďtypicalí battle since Noble Lady of Caelin. Wow.

Thatís Ĺ of why itís a really easy battle. The other half is that Iím done with XP grinding. If youíre not done with leveling up your weak characters for your XP ranking then may Thor (or maybe Delphi or Set or Ninis or Fila or God or Mother Earth or Father Sky or Elimine or something?) have mercy on your soul.


Chapter Summary:




As mentioned before, heís luring us into a trap. The characters comment that theyíre surprised to have met no resistance before this chapter. Itís because he concentrated every single one of his morphs around the Dragonís Gate in one ambush on which he staked pretty much everything. Not a bad strategy, but even though Eliwood and all blunder right into it, theyíre just too strong to stop now.




Yíknow, it really looks for a while like Fargus might be an endgame ally or something. We see he has stats- like pretty darned good ones- and everything, several characters strike up friendships with him, he offers to help directly several times, etc. But Eliwood turns him down and so we never get him. Maybe itís so his ship is less likely to be destroyed, stranding us completely if Athos dies. But no such reason is given. And itís not like Nergal couldnít beat Fargus if he wanted to.




And Nils is being left with the captain. Heís been insensible with grief ever since Ninian was killed in front of him.




Eliwood hasnít had a good chance to talk to him, but takes this one since it might be his last.




Seems a little cold for Eliwood. On the other hand, so was not doing as Uhai demanded when he had Lyn hostage. But in both cases we see that he was not asking anything he wouldnít do himself. He didnít ask his allies to cooperate with Linus to save his life when Linus was going to kill him and he put aside his mourning to help his friends after the death of both his father and Ninian.




And he softens the initial bluntness considerably.




And points out that Ninian wouldnít want him to just give up and despair.




Nils doesnít respond, having not responded to anything anyone said in a while, and the group leaves. Dart stays to have a brief word with his captain.

Youíll notice of course that this is the exact same patch of island that Fargus dropped us off at before. Dart is standing in nearly the same spot on the level that he did on Chapter 19: The Dread Isle even. This of course makes some practical sense; the island is covered by a dense and mist-shrouded forest and they were only able to find the Dragonís Gate by following the instructions of a traitorous black fang from this spot. If they didnít return here, they might well wander around lost.

But it makes some symbolic sense too. The group has come back to where the story really began, coming full circle. They were young and foolish then. Uhai was not far off when he described them as ďInsects railing against the heavens.Ē They had absolutely no idea what they were getting into Ėnot only that Nergal could have killed the entire party singlehandedly but also that this was about dragons and soulless artificial humans and ultimate magical power and 500 year old grudges between demigod wizards, not just petty intrigue in a backwater country.

This looked like an ending 18 chapters ago, but the story had scarcely begun. Elbert, Uther, an Ninian were still alive, Leila hadnít even been found dead, the Black Fang was still whole and strong, Athos and Bramimondís very continued existence was still unknown, the royal family of Bern was still utterly dysfunctional, the legendary weapons still slept, and the party had never known defeat.

It really looked like theyíd already been places and knew what they were doing- to them as well as first time players- but they really, really didnít. And when Elbert died everything changed. The mission had been an abject failure and suddenly the group was dealing with a threat to the entire world which they still didnít even understand. The former in particular was a rare surprise. Since then itís been a wild ride and full of more surprises. And now the group returns, but changed. Wiser. Stronger. Strong as the greatest 8 heroes in history, in fact. The player too has likely changed- and developed a much better understanding of just how unconventional this game was in such a formulaic series. But this time it really is, finally, over.




You said it.




Captain Fargus, amateur psychotherapist (or perhaps tactician), decides itís best for Nils to face reality now and go join the battle. So he comes up with an admittedly rather clever trick, claiming to have forgotten to give the party something important which now theyíll have to go without unless someone goes and brings it to them.




It worked!




Heís glad Nils is back on his feet. This is actually the last we see of Fargus. Thatís too bad, I would have liked to see their reunion with him- same as after the first visit to the Dread Isle.




The Dragonís Gate, looking a bit more fortified. See how those ballistae are of different colors? Theyíre different types.




The Gate is open, ready for Nergal to call dragons through it as soon as heís drained the quintessence of Eliwood and the rest. You know, if heíd been just a little bit less tactically prudent and had decided to take a risk and just summon a dragon NOW, he might have actually won.

Iím not 100% sure what Nergal is referring to here. Surely he doesnít just mean her Fimbulvetyr tome. Everyone has those. It doesnít sound like he just means her great stats, although thatís possible, because Sonia was just as strong and he hadnít just given that power to her. One would think Limstella has been just as strong up till now. On the other hand, she DID only attack people who were already half-dead or worse and usually by surprise. Though with the exception of Ursula if you donít kill Ursula actually. Though Ursula isnít fighting back since she think she deserves to die for failing a mission. Yeah, who knows?




He really does seem genuinely proud of her, though certainly in more of an artistic than parental sort of way. And he seems to regret, though probably just that heíll be losing a very useful tool, that this magic heís given her is too strong and will kill her within the day.




What if it wasnít? Probably he wouldnít have changed his plans to keep her alive, but itís really not quite certain and I think thatís interesting.




Athos is still behind. For a man who doesnít need to eat or sleep and can teleport and is ďaware of most things that happen on the continentĒ and can watch these people and track their progress he sure is taking his time. I canít help but suspect that, just like how he didnít help on Sands of Time or The Berserker (or Battle Preparations) heís just choosing not to solve our problems for us now. Eliwood and Hectorís confidence seems to have been pretty badly shaken by Eliwood killing Ninian and Nergal laughing in their faces after Athos attacked him. Maybe he wants them to fight this one alone to get their confidence back. But on the other hand, sending them out without him wasnít his idea. Maybe heís just slow.




Just like old times! Itís been most of 30 chapters since he and Ninian saved Lyn from her first ballista.




Agh itís Bolting! AndÖ. Market totally got hit. Itís a good thing she doesnít have stats or that might have hurt.




Eliwood is really glad to see him back on his feet.




It sounds so much like Matthew after losing Leila.




Hector isÖ perhaps a little less understanding of Nilsís loss than Eliwood.




Her ambush having been thwarted, Limstella emerges. Eliwood et al. have never seen or even heard of her all this time and Athos seemed unaware of her in particular, just another show of how clever Nergal really has been at keeping his secrets. Nils, however, is very familiar with her and introduces her as the one whoís always at Nergalís side.




Straight to business!




The absolutely epic Unshakable Faith plays https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUfc4Wel_Dk
Itís a shame it isnít the map theme!

And she reveals her hidden troops all around, apparently surprising people enough that some might have looked like they might retreat.

Sounds kind of dumb to reveal your ambush like that. Limstella is no Sonia. On the other hand, as youíll see, she does keep some more troops very well hidden. Perhaps the idea was just to make the group think all the troops had showed themselves so they could be lured into the real ambush? But then those better hidden morphs completely blow it by revealing themselves early. Maybe itís their fault.

Maybe they were counting on fog.


Battle Preparations & the Map:




Itís a big one! Iím pretty sure this is the biggest map in the game in fact. Whatís more, itís VERY mountainous and has quite a lot of forests, rivers, fortresses, and the like as well. That makes it even bigger functionally.

So (say it with me) itís an air map! Paladins and whatnot are nice, but you really need to be a flyer to get around. You should bring all 4-5 promoted flyers and plan on doing a lot of random rescue-dropping around on this chapter.

The enemy actually doesnít really have the kind of overwhelming air superiority they usually have on air maps. Those wyverns are the only flyers for like 9 turns and even when some start spawning, itís still not THAT many.

They also donít have the kind of mass-staff domination theyíve been relying on heavily since Night of Farewells. Thereís just the one guy with a Berserk and heís a bishop and heís constrained by a river, so his effective range is absolutely tiny compared to the 20 that the druids had on Cog of Destiny. Itís about 10 from most directions, and from some itís as low as 7 actually. Easily enough that you could actually fly up from outside his range and assassinate him without him ever getting a shot at you.

Thereís also very few long-ranged attackers. Just one sage, one bishop, and Limstella herself. The snipers with the ballistae are non-trivial, but even theyíre just in one area. Oh and there is one fairly nasty surprise: the bottom right ambush reinforcements (more on them in a bit) include another sage with bolting.

What Iím getting at is the enemy is really, really spread thin. And they canít really reinforce themselves well. The upshot is that you fight three pretty distinct battles here. One group goes through the winding pass to the right and then up, one group goes diagonally through the middle, and one goes on a fairly straight route up then right. These troops will often be too far apart to help each other, so each group must be self-sufficient with healing and the ability to deal with both magic and physical attackers.

The main challenge will just come from some of the individual enemies being very strong and the enemy being of many, many different types such that they have no obvious weaknesses. Further, they pack a wide variety of very strong weapons: silver weapons, killer weapons, reavers, super-effective weapons, light brands, and high-end versatile weapons like tomahawks. Their level isnít a giant step up from previous chapters, but their gear is finally serious.

Let me just say as an aside that I like the fact that even on the second-final chapter not every single enemy is promoted and armed with the best possible weapon. I hated how in Awakening on the harder difficulties every single person in the enemy army was promoted and carrying 1,000,000 gold in custom-forged silver weapons starting on like chapter 10.

Anyway, two last notes are in order:

1) This is where ballistae get serious. Those arenít your run of the mill siege weapons that were already non-threatening on chapter 8. I realized the ballistae were stronger going in, but not how much so. See those yellow ones nearish the top right? Those are killer ballistae, I knew that. See the greyish ones? I thought those were normal ballistae. Theyíre not. Those are IRON ballistae. Theyíre even stronger than killer ones and they have 15(!) range instead of the killer 8 or normal 10. Thatís a HUGE difference. And these snipers are strong enough that you canít just assassinate them. Plus theyíre positioned really well. But theyíre still just ballistae. Even now, at their very strongest, and on a level where there are almost no long-ranged magicians, the one nearby sage with bolting we do have is more of a threat than all of them combined.
2) This chapter has one trick to it: some unusually spawned reinforcements. If you enter one of those colored boxes, reinforcements of the type indicated will IMMEDIATELY spring up from the area in the circle of the matching color and be ready to attack you on that turn. The 5 nomadic troopers on the top left are by far the biggest threat. I mean, they roughly double the number of units to fight on their front and are stronger than all but the heroes. Still, these ambush reinforcements arenít much of a problem: largely because theyíre not much of an ambush. The trigger zones are huge and so youíll almost certainly have at least one whole turn to react.




Karla has exactly one use: freeing up more Merlinus space. Currently he has 100 items, which is a problem. Every single one of my characters is already carrying 5 things too. I have a lot of stuff. Merlinus must never be allowed to have 100 items mid-battle, because youíll almost surely need to drop something before the end.




I crunched out all the numbers of XP again because this is really important. Again, XP gained in Lynís story doesnít count.

As I thought, I am now 2000 XP ahead. Not ahead of where I need to be now but of where I need to be at the very end of the game, even including this chapterís insanely high XP requirements. I could do nothing but use level 20 people now and still get max XP ranking.

That is HUGELY helpful to know. Because now I can finally start playing seriously and just do whatever I have to to crush the enemy utterly with no risk instead of bringing along a bunch of guys who can be 2-hit killed and barely scratch the enemy and basing my whole strategy around finding good ways to feed them kills.

And I can concentrate on shoring up my tactics rating, which is going to take a hit next chapter, to make sure Iím ready for any unexpected difficulty on the final level.

So yeah, this is really nice, but think about it for a moment. I did every single 0 chapter (except the next one) and I brought even the most worthless units that arenít Rebecca and Wil to at least level 16 unpromoted, and most to 20. I got maximum heal XP whenever possible, did not train Nils past level 7 with 0 XP in Lynís story, made sure to stick around on maps until the last big wave of reinforcements that wasnít past the turn limit, and generally did everything possible to max out my XP gain except use arenas. And only after Sands of Time, where I ground up about 4 lowish level people for a total of about 20 levels, did I end up 20 levels ahead of where I needed to be at the end of the game. If I hadnít gone all out the whole time up till now, I would now be in serious trouble. Itís really hard to train weak people on this level and itís pretty much impossible on The Value of Life or Light. So yeah, donít get complacent. The XP ranking is serious business. If you get here and you donít have about 38,000 XP already (well over the 31,000 or so needed to have 5 stars up till now) then you quite possibly lose.

That happened to me on my first HHM max ranking run two years back or so. Got all the way here with 5 stars everywhere, beat Light, and found I was suddenly at 3 for XP even though Iíd still been training unleveled people on this chapter and there was nothing I could do about it. Donít let it happen to you.




This guy is not your friend! He wonít tell you youíre just 50 XP above the minimum needed to keep 5 stars and that itís impossible to get to Victory or Deathís 6000 requirement. He didnít tell Uther either and now Uther is dead. Donít let it happen to you!

Oh, that 5 star funds ranking was after eating 8 stat boosters to test by the way. So I have at least +64,000 and still climbing. So waaaaay more than enough to sell 40,000 and get Farina.




I needed to free up some more Merlinus space. And I also needed to get to juuuuust this level of funds. See thereís one last secret shop on this map and with my silver card Iím going to buy 2 earth seals as the most space-efficient store of wealth and a Barrier staff since that will use up my spare change and be handy on the last level. You want 2 of those if you can get them.



ObjectIve: Seize Gate
Secondary ObjectIve: Recruit Renault from the top left village
Secondary ObjectIve: Get the Setís Litany from the middle village
Secondary ObjectIve: Get the Talisman from the bottom right village.
Secondary ObjectIve: Get Fenrir instead of Nosferatu from the middle rightish druid
Secondary ObjectIve: Get Fimbulvetyr instead of Bolting from Limstella
Reinforcements: Yes. Like a hundred if you wait long enough. Besides the ambushes mentioned, thereís almost nothing till turn 7 and then about 20-30 per turn of various types until turn 13 at which point it slows. After 15 thereís just about nothing until you get 6 promoted per turn from 20 to 35. Theyíre of many types, but some notable groups include about 4 turns of 4 valkyries and 2 falcoknights in the top leftish area starting on turn 9, 4 wyvern riders and a lord in the right middle also for 4 turns starting on 9, 2 valkyries for 4 turns starting on 7 in the bottom right, and about 8 per turn of various types near Limstella from 7 to 16.
Turn Limit: 15. Not luxurious, but easily workable. Itís not hard to be winning by turn 10, but itís better to sit around and harvest some reinforcements till about 13 when they slow dramatically.
Units Allowed: 13 + Hector + Nils + Renault (recruitable). Tons. Easily enough for all 3 fronts if theyíre distributed well. Thatís the key.
Units Brought:
1) Hector. Required and great, but slow. Be prepared to rescue-drop and dance a lot to let him keep up with the group. You need him to get to that gate much faster than his 5 movement can carry him.
2) Nils. Back on the team! Even with the boots heís slow on this map. Too many paladins, too many flyers. Rescue-drop him around too. Heís very handy, though MUCH less so here than he is on chapters where the party is all in one group so he can dance for absolutely whoever needs him.
3) Florina. Itís an air map and Iím in a hurry, every air unit is coming.
4) Fiora. Itís an air map and Iím in a hurry, every air unit is coming. And sheís a great unit.
5) Heath. Itís an air map and Iím in a hurry, every air unit is coming. And heís a fantastic unit.
6) Vaida. Itís an air map and Iím in a hurry, every air unit is coming. And sheís a great unit.
7) Sain. Back by popular demand for the first time since Battle Before Dawn and before that since Four Fanged Offense. Heís one of my very best and actually still the very fastest on the whole team (though that finally changes this level). And still actually the strongest (though that too changes this level). His great movement and weapon versatility and matchless offense will be very helpful.
8) Canas. Heal, Restore, Physic, Luna. Heís still the best team member in a real fight as well as for overall support, and heís still overleveled after Cog of Destiny so Iím still not going to use him much.
9) Erk. Now rivalling both Canas and Sain (and Raven) for best offense on the team, Erk is great. His limited movement and poor staff access still hurt him, but heíll be seeing heavy use. No one else- NO ONE- has the exact stat set I need to smash Valkyries in large numbers.
10) Pent. Thereís room on the team and Iím not training anyone. He has great staff access and is a very good all around unit, though certainly not as good as the other casters on the team.
11) Nino. Going to see heavy use for the first time since Night of Farewells, sheís now come into her own as a powerful magic user and is dependable- if not really spectacular- on both offense and defense. Critically, she still has more room to grow than people like Pent and Erk and Canas who are currently better than or as good as her.
12) Raven. The worldís best infantryman, Raven is nearly as good as Erk at dispatching Valkyries and other household pests. Heís about to cap his everything. Of course he is.
13) Eliwood. Suddenly taking a sizable hit in power as the enemies get fast enough that he canít double everything, heís still an amazingly valuable unit. Quite possibly the best overall tank on the whole team and mobile too. I donít want to overlevel him right now though.
14) Bartre. The following is a list of the times Bartre one round killed an enemy on this level: . Not even the unpromoted ones. He contributes nothing of value and the playthrough would not look different if I left his slot blank. Probably should have brought Harken or another pre-promote in retrospect. Marcus or Isadora might have been handy for added rescuing power. And easier to carry around themselves. But thereís just tons of space and itís an easy level so there seemed no harm in bringing him.
15) Priscilla. I need more healing and I need more rescuing and I need mobility. Sheís almost at level 20 now and I expected she would hit it by the end.
Notable Units Rejected:
1) UhÖ
2) L- no wait, that guyís level 20. Or close to it.
3) Yeah, no, I think this is pretty much everyone.

No one is actually carrying heavy weapons- except an Elfire each for Erk and Nino so they can kill high res stuff, but everyone has plenty of light ones and everyone has a full vulnerary once again. Iím saving the big guns for the next fights since theyíre not needed here. I meant to give someone a lightning and a heal to give to Renault, but forgot the lightning

Florina has the Delphi shield because every other air unit has Def.

So the main question here is who goes to what front. Donít bring enough to one and youíll end up in serious trouble or have reinforcements piling up that you canít kill in time since the map is ending soon. Bring too many or people who are too strong to one and you probably didnít bring enough somewhere else.

The top area has very few enemies at all ever, but theyíre almost all promoted and there are really powerful Valkyrie reinforcements there. Erk can easily solo all those Valkyries and no one else can, so he belongs there. He can also cover all the healing needs of a small group.

I needed to put a flyer (Fiora so she can take a hit) in that top left spot. Thatís the only way to spawn the nomads on turn 1 and have them immediately attack someone without wasting Nils on the job. Sain can rescue Erk and carry him then Fiora can fly onto the forest and drop Erk north onto the other forest. That allows 3 of the fire to immediately suicide to Erk, making my trip much smoother. Of course, any other 8 move person could do Sainís job there but youíll note I have no others who arenít flyers- and the rest of those are needed elsewhere. Plus heís quite effective against generals and nomads and everything else himself.

Those 3 + Renault should be able to sweep the entire top front in just a few turns and then make for Limstella. With their high speed and few obstacles, they should reach her the same time the main group does. Erk will stay behind on the forest to fight the valkyries. Possibly Sain will stay to fight the falcoknights.

The bottom front is a little trickier to gauge. It has more starting forces and more quick reinforcements. However, I estimate that 2 strong units should be able to cover it without problem.
Thatís good, because Iíll need 2 units to soak up the big reinforcements: someone on a southern forest for the valkyires and someone on the mid right mountain for the wyverns. Those people will also need air transport though since they have more mountains in their way than just about anyone else.

So Heath will immediately fly Nino onto the mountains, then drop her onto the forest to solo most of the enemies and retreat to pick up Raven. Those 2 are very good but not very mobile and not needed elsewhere, so theyíre perfect for a job that mostly involves standing still and hitting really hard. Raven should be able to double and 2-hit kill the Valkyries with a handaxe. He canít take hits from them, but he can dodge. Nino with a mountain or forest can dodge wyverns easily and can 2-3 hit kill them depending on her tome and magic growth. Heath will probably head up to rejoin the main group quickl.y

That leaves everyone else to take the middle. My units are positioned for maximum rescue-drop first turn mobility to get the strong guys into position. Rather than get my formation clogged up at the fortress choke point, I plan to use Florina and Vaida to rescue-drop 2 people directly into the back of the round valley, then rescue drop people over the next mountains and so on. Hopefully at least Heath will be able to rejoin that air group in short order.

Canas and Priscilla and Pent are all armed with restore staves to deal with that Berserk bishop.

Vaida, being an air unit but relatively unimportant and one who doesnít need to carry an iron sword and Delphi shield like Florina does, has the silver card and member card.


The Characters:




ďIt is for this moment that I have lived...Ē ĖRenault, Final Chapter

Yup, still getting more allies this late in the game. Renault is a very enigmatic figure. Heís actually first seen lurking around on Chapter 19x where he reveals himself to be a hermit and a bishop of the Elimine church, seemingly unaware of who the Black Fang are or what's going on. Now he joins you in hopes that helping one side win will finally let him get some peace and quiet- or so he says.

And that COULD be all you learn about him. But if you use him in the final chapter and get him supports, he actually turns out to be rather plot important and definitely a very interesting figure. He features prominently in the lives of such diverse characters as Lucius and Wallace, having been many things in his long life. And it turns out that he knows Nergal and was once Nergalís ally, having been the one who helped Nergal create his first morphs. He did so, in fact, thinking that Nergal could resurrect Renaultís dead friend as a morph. Upon realizing that all Nergal could create were soulless abominations and that he had done terrible crimes helping a madman gain nearly unlimited power, he retreated to Valor to brood on his crimes and await a change to wreak his vengeance on Nergal.

And thereís lots more to find out too. Very cool. Itís too bad the system for gaining supports in this game is so silly.


Renault gets a lot of hate as a unit, but heís really not bad at all for his job. His job is to be a front line healer on Light. And he can do that! Heís got great speed and solid defenses, enough to take a hit or maybe even two- in the VERY rare cases he gets doubled- from most enemies on Light. Serra and Priscilla canít do that on this kind of run and people like Canas have stuff to do. Plus he comes with a handy A in staves, Pent, really is his main rival. And Pent is better, but you can use both.

His main weakness is his absolutely horrible Mag. Thatís why people like Pent- or Canas or Athos when they have spare time- are better for his role. They heal more and then can use Physic and such to heal at much greater range. Itís also true that heís not really very good for his level, but that doesnít matter much at this point in the game. Heís good enough in absolute terms to stand up to the threats on the final level and heal if your better healers are busy or dead. What more do you want?




Oh and heís got some VERY valuable starting gear there. Thatís the gameís only Fortify unless you do the next chapter and Fortify is an absolutely amazing staff. Not that heís good with Fortify or that you should use it- it costs 1000 a shot. But still, notice that he has it and do consider giving that Fortify to Pent or Canas or Athos in case you desperately need mass healing on Light.




ďI am not human. This mind and body are constructs. Yes, as is this sorrow.Ē ĖLimstella, death quote

Last of Nergalís ďmainĒ morphs after Ephidel and Sonia, Limstella is in his eyes his greatest creation. His masterpiece as he put it, combining perfect strength and perfect beauty. He seems to have more or less discarded Sonia for her as a better model of the same kind long ago- in a way he did not discard Ephidel. As far back as when Ninian and Nils were called through the gate it was Limstella who was always at Nergalís side, though we know that in the past it was Sonia Nergal usually worked directly with. This may, perhaps, be the reason for Soniaís hatred of morphs Ė Limstella the morph replaced her at her beloved masterís side. Or maybe Soniaís just crazy. Probably that.

But actually, Nergal really sells Sonia short. Sonia seems to be the smartest of his morphs and was able to accomplish all sorts of things Limstella probably couldnít- like convincing Brendan Reed she loved him. Limstellaís greatest strength is that sheís rational and not bloodthirsty and murderous like Sonia. She doesnít kill people she doesnít need to and she doesnít gloat.

LImstella is kind of a melancholy character. We see several times that sheís not truly emotionless as she likes to pretend, but the real her is kept pretty carefully hidden. Does even Nergal know her? In a way, sheís as silent as Kishuna.


Much like Sonia, she for someone reason went from largish adult woman size to small child Con in HHM and many of her stats were lowered. Itís pretty hard to kill her with her great defenses and throne, but sheís still just not much of a threat. She was more dangerous on normal.




That bolting does hit hard, but unlike Sonia she doesnít really control a critical area with it and she doesnít have as much ranged support also firing on that area. And Fimbulvetyr continues to suck. She has pretty much 0 speed with either of these weapons.


Playing Through:




Nils delivers the important thing Fargus gave him, an Earth Seal. Even on my first ever play of this game where I actually used Earth Seals Iíd still long since promoted everyone I wanted to use. Still, 20,000 gold is a lot of money.




That nomad just poofed out of nowhere because I ran Sain (carrying Erk) into the spawn trigger zone.




One frame later, there are the other 4.




Fiora flies up, takes Erk, and drops him in the woods ready to fight. Weíll going to kill half the top front enemies on turn 1.




You may have wondered why Heath wasnít in Ravenís spot. Itís because he doesnít need to be. This spot here is the best one to move to because if he went any further he would get smarmed by silver axe wielding warriors while at half speed. And this spot gives good access to that forest Nino will go to.




A sage with bolting appears! Yeah itís a nasty surprise, but itís not that bad and itís the only one really. And in a position where it canít really team up to 2-hit kill people on its surprise attack very well. Quite unlike the surprise sage behind door #1 in Pale Flower of Darkness.




Raven moves to be picked up next.




Priscilla and Nils team up to transport the slow Hector to the front line.




I drop Hector, preparing to surround her on the other side.




The bishop spawnsÖ and nothing else does. Oh. That bishop was enemy #50, the max. Ok, canít have that. I just went back and did the same thing up until that Priscilla drop.





And Eliwood and Pent move in while Florina and Vaida flank, carrying Canas and Bartre for dropping. Thatís the turn.




The wyverns fly in an unexpected direction. Well it would be if I hadnít played before.




Heath is hit by Bolting.




Erk is unexpectedly hit by a nomad but completely wastes the three of them.




Next turn, I drop Nino off to fight with Elfire equipped so she can 2-hit kill more things at a cost of dodginess.




Sain gallops up to take out another Nomad. Nomadic troopers are among the toughest enemies in the game, perhaps more so than wyvern lords even. Wyvern lords are weak to magic, whereas nomads are tough all around, and nomads are extremely fast- fast enough to actually dodge attacks. Plus they canít be weapon triangle countered while using bows.

This is not to say that theyíre some huge threat, just that theyíre not as easy to kill as one would expect. The only time they were any kind of threat was Pale Flower of Darkness.




Sain gets the kill and a level that looks bad until you remember heís capped Str and Speed already.




In the middle, this hero is a tough nut to crack. Almost no one can double him, heís tough as nails, and he hits really hard. And he has a silver axe and a lightbrand, a combination with very few real weaknesses.




I just needed to check him out before seeing if I could take Priscilla left to heal Erk and I can without worrying, so Erk kills the general to block for her and is back at full health. And Fiora flies up to agro the north heroes.




Another great level!




Hector attacks the hero and itís still standing. And you can see that this time all 4 monks spawned with the bishop because I killed more enemies before moving into the zone.




Pent attacks the hero too, bringing him to about half health, and gets a respectable level for a mage.




Eliwood helps and Nils dances for Hector while I check the range on Berserk. Perfect. I can put Vaida on the edge of that, cure her next turn, then have her fly up and kill him.




The air drop walls the swordmaster away from my more vulnerable units and gets 4 tough guys deep into the middle valley. Much faster than if Iíd just tried to walk everyone through the forts.




Hector finishes the hero for a sweet level.




The swordmaster is under control. Time to end the turn.




Oh.


Yeah, he just instant killed Florina from full. I admit, I didnít even consider the possibility of one of my promoted units being killed from full HP by someone with weapon triangle disadvantage. A foolish oversight on my part. Have I mentioned, recently, that my Florina has sucky defense?




You should be.




Restart, new formation. Florina takes the bottom area where sheíll be worthless in a fight but canít be attacked by anyone but the Bolting sage. Heath goes north instead of Fiora because Fiora wasnít doing great against the generals and nomads. Fiora and Vaida, tough enough to stand up to a swordmaster crit, take the middle.




Same procedure but with Heath.




Thereís a change here though. I realized last time that it was going to take a while- and most fighting would be over- before Raven could be dropped in. Counting a squares, he can actually get into range just as fast walking while making Florina less vulnerable and uselessl.




Another change, I realized I could get Nils much closer to the front lines in future turns with a bit of rescue dropping here.




Bartre is no longer being air-dropped in. Florina could carry him because sheís tiny but Vaida is massive and Fiora is just 1 Con too big to carry him, so he has to walk and theyíll drop the mages instead.

Iíve also positioned Hector with a handaxe and Eliwood with a javelin so that I can definitely get another hit on the hero early, making it easier to bring him down without Pent ready to help.




WellÖ thatís better than expected.




Florina still gets hit by the Bolting.




But this time Erk isnít hit.




Turn 2, drop in Nino.




And run back even though sheís not dropping Raven. Raven, meanwhile, gets in warrior range.




This time Sain gets a considerably lamer level as he kills the nomad. At least he still hit both times, though that actually doesnít matter since I could just have Heath finish the person in question.




Look at my Erk, my Erk is amazing! That Def is even better than the speed he got before.




So the left flank is doing just fabulous.


The War Room, part 33

But they werenít on the second try- this is the 3rd. On the second try I put Heath on the forest, same as Fiora. Result? He was juuuuuust in Berserk range. And thereís no Restore on that side because why would there be?

This was a real blunder and a kind Iíve made before because noticing this is not one of my strengths as a tactician. So this war room is dedicated to a discussion of ďflanksĒ.

Youíve probably heard me talk about, say, a ďleft flankĒ or ďtop flankĒ or the like as a synonym for side or the group of allied or enemy units on that side. Some maps, like this one, or some approaches to some maps- like the early In Search of Truth where one sends one group over the broken snag bridge, one group south, and (in my case) Hector immediately over the river can be divided into front, flanks, sides, squads, or whatever other terminology you want to use. This is a handy and useful mental concept for planning your attacks, making sure everyone has the resources they need to do their job, and so on. Iíve relied on that kind of thinking to get this far and itís implicit in many of my strategies and much of my advice about how to form your own.

On a map like Victory or Death you definitely should consider there to be 3 flanks during battle preparations and planning. You need to make sure the top, bottom, and middle groups all have healing, anti-magic and anti-physical capabilities, etc. And you canít plan on those groups being able to help each other.

But remember that flanks are not real, theyíre just a mental category and one the computer doesnít use. Donít even think of one enemy as only one flankís problem. And donít even think of a staff user or long-ranged magic user as dead until youíre watching your XP bar fill up. Keep track of them. Donít restart 12 turns into Night of Farewells like I do because I think of that druid as ďon the bottomĒ and donít look down there off screen to check whether he can actually hit the top.

And donít forget to consider ways troops on one front could help another. Physic in particular can reach a long way. So can Rescue or Warp, which are hugely expensive but truly unique in utility. So could your own long-ranged magic or staves. And so can a flyer boosted by Nils. When you can conceptualize and consider all of those possibilities while playing, youíll be much better at this game than I am.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!
Back to Playing Through:




I also changed my movement pattern for the 2 flyers last time, putting Fiora 1 space less far out actually. This made it possible to have a better drop pattern on this turn. Now I can actually surround the swordmaster completely.




Hector kills the hero with a steel blade for maximum sword rank gain.




Pretty meh, but he has been behind on defense- or he was last I checked.




The swordmaster is now completely surrounded, Pent is in position to lure a wyvern lord next turn, Fiora has an iron sword so that the nearby bandit canít kill her with a crit from the swordmaster, and Eliwood gets started on killing the guy.




Every bit of XP counts. For glory if not for ranking. Alright, thatís the turn.




A taste of your own medicine! Fiora crits him on the counterattack.




Nino gets a lucky crit Ė and I decided to have her use Fire instead of Elfire this time. Elfire didnít kill enough people faster and did decrease her dodge chance by 12% or so. Sheíll 3-hit kill most things without it anyway.




Remember those 2 groups of wyverns? They donít behave as expected, charging straight in one direction to engage your forces immediately. No, instead they do something cool. Something tactical. The two groups fly towards each other and meet up. THEN they all fly directly toward you. So you donít fight 5 wyverns in two places you planned for them, you fight 10 wyverns in one place where you didnít.

And the best part is itís not even a cheap shot or anything. You have 1-2 whole turns to see the groups merging to come up with a countermeasure. This is way cool. Itís like the enemy has a strategy for once.

Fire Emblem should have more of this kind of surprise and more of this kind of play by the enemy.




As I mentioned though, pent was in position so that that last wyvern lord could hit him, so it breaks formation to do so. Which helps a ton since now I only have to wall off one wyvern lord in the middle of that crowd in a turn or two.




Nino gets a fantastic level.




Ooh and then S rank with anima. More crits.




Heath crits down a hero.




Awesome!




As expected.




Florina now has an iron sword for maximum dodge and isnít carrying anyone.




My turn. A little puzzle turn on the left side, but pretty easy. This time I track that bishop. The thing is, I might or might not be able to spare a unit to kill him in the middle area. So Iím thinking I should reverse my usual policy and handle the more complicated (middle) front first and see how that affects the left this time.




But the left front is almost all clear already and I actually have a lot of movement room to avoid the berserk range regardless.




So I just went with the obvious safe move. Sain kills the hero, Erk does some XP healing, and Heath moves in to agro the next enemy.




Time to start clearing the bottom. If I could get Florina in here it would be awesome, but sheís terrible. Those 2 mages? Could kill her. Bolting + 1 hit from anything else? Death. 2 hits from anything at all actually? Death. And she canít even kill most things.




Iím going to take a minor but important risk here. She can be hit by Bolting and one paladin. If both hit she dies. But the bolting has <30% chance to hit and the paladin has < 40% before even looking at true hit. And this will let me kill that paladin a turn early, which is critical for letting me move Nino off that forest.




Alright, the middle has some problems. This is one of the trickiest turns of the level actually.




And long range alert, that sage and those ballisticians can actually hit me here if I advance too recklessly- by targeting the Berserk bishop say.




Except from this one spot.




Not bad, not bad. Sheís very strong, though not to the extent that sheís slow. But her defenses are good so I canít complain.




Canas restores Vaida. The exact order and position is very important here. I also need to heal Pent you see and then to get Priscilla, the healer, back out. This is pretty much the goal way to accomplish all my goals.




Vaida is the only person with nothing critical to do, so she just runs over to attack one of the many wyverns. A lot of them have killer weapons, very dangerous.




Now that Vaidaís spot is open, Priscilla uses it to heal Pent.




Bartre rescues her out.




Eliwood drops her immediately.




And then continues his move to occupy one of those forts with a javelin.




Pent occupies the other fort, attacking for a decent level.




And now that Eliwood is out of the way, Hector can kill the wyvern lord.




Which allows Nils to wall off the wyvern riders from reaching Priscilla, while staying totally safe in a forest himself.




While Bartre advances and extends the wall, making it harder for wyverns to swarm Pent (because the monks block his front squares.

That operation went like clockwork. The berserk bishop is dead, the monks and wyverns are all blocked from any important targets, and I even got some healing done.




As expected, many wyvern riders go for Bartre. This is good because heís not a soft target. There just arenít any better ones.




Only a very few go for Nils. This is because not many can reach with the semi-wall and because his defenses are better than Bartreís by far anyway.




The guys with the axereavers donít go for Bartre though, they go for Canas. This man dies a moronís death.




And, for some reason, the wyvern lord squares off one on one against Vaida. Who has never been trained. And has an iron lance. And is still much better than him. Sheís a great unit. One of the best pre-promotes, she can even rival Heath.




Fiora is scratched by the purge bishop up top. This is as Iíd hoped, now she can fly up and kill him.




Florina got hit by the paladin but dodges the bolting.




Turn 4, the enemy ranks have been thinned a lot.




More XP heals because I can.




So, the top area problem. Heath canít quite kill this sniper and would actually take heavy damage from that silver bow. Then thereís the purge guy standing by. If Fiora killed him, the sniper would kill her.





And this guy makes that aggressive plan an outright no go. Itís nice that the range checker includes the ability for archers to grab ballistae.




So instead Heath visits this village.




Renault gives us a few lies and joins up.




This is an accurate assessment. This is also, sadly, the last time the awesome Together We Ride recruitment theme will play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yERQqvP0598

Probably the most famous song in FE and with good reason. I hum this a lot.




This spot right here is the place to be. Just outside of ballista range.




At this point I realized that while I do have a spare heal staff, I forgot to have anyone bring a Lightning for Renault. Itís not THAT important since I donít really want him fighting anyway, but it is a silly mistake.




Oh well, he takes the heal staff and heals Erk while I consider a way to solve the problem.




On the bottom front I decide to take another risk and have Florina kill this sage. The odds of both remaining mages hitting her are low. Looking at it now I suddenly see that this was a bad move, though it turned out alright. What I should have done was have Raven move south of the ruin and handaxe this sage while Florina killed the injured mage. That would trap the cavalier, leaving only one unit free to hurt Florina, so no risk at all. Oh well.




And she got a bad level too!




So this is what I did instead. Decent, but not as clever as just leaving this guy to suicide on his turn where heís trapped. Youíll note that I WAS smart enough to use his iron axe instead of a handaxe so as to encourage the mages to go for him.




And Nino of course kills the paladin.




I will not turn down Def on a mage.




Turn 4 middle situation. Thereís a lot of enemies, but a lot of my guys. Things are pretty under control as long as I donít break formation.




First, Eliwood dispatches the bishop. (Not Pent because I think Iíll have him heal Fiora after she javelins the wyvern rider from next to him)




Pretty nice! Heís stopped being above average in everything, but remains amazing in Def and Res which rounds him out from a mere great cavalier to an amazing tank.




The monks can rot, itís the wyverns who need to die so my back line stays safe and I can advance next turn.




She took some hard hits but Pent gets her ready to go again. And I move Merlinus up. I have a plan.




That leaves me 5 targets, 4 attackers, and Nils. Sounds promising.




Hector kills one easily. Canas is the only one who can fell this wyvern lord, so he does that.




And with Nils, Hector takes one of the remaining tough ones down.




For a sweet level!




5 attackers, 5 targets. But 2 of those attackers were Vaida and Bartre. And it turns out neither of them can beat a half HP wyvern rider in one round. Darn it, guys!




They do kill the back one together, imperfectly walling the front one. And Bartre gets an awful level.




So because I couldnít down every wyvern no matter what, I was actually in trouble. Those 2 who had remained both had killer lances. Which meant there was a risk of Bartre dying. A higher risk, actually than if I let the guy attack Priscilla since she has better luck and avoid. So she runs in and heals.




Works out nicely.




Poor brigand never had a chance, I could easily have visited every village last turn if I wanted to.




Pent dominates at the fort, sweeping away most of the remaining monks.




The bishop moves forward to hit Sain. This is unexpected but great. Because this means heís 10 spaces away. Which means Sain can move forward and kill him while Heath does something else.




I hadnít noticed that sniper advancing, but heís no threat.




The sniper attacks and is critted. ThatÖ means the top is clear. Over. Done with. In the bag.




Because as I said, Sain can kill this one.




And then everyone else can just advance and heal. The top group has no more real resistance between me and that sniper. Heath stays just out of range so heíll walk forward and shoot Sain, which will let Sain kill him next turn.




Bottom front also done.




So no sense in wasting more time here. Nino heals Florina.




And I check what I believe to be the long range attacker line.




And Florina evacs Nino to drop off near the future wyvern spawn.




While Raven visits the village.




Sophia is an idiot. What is she even doing here? How did she get here? Why did she think the Archsage would be here? What?

Interestingly, many different characters have different dialogue with her. Most are pretty much the same but a few (like Serra whoís worried about finding a ghost in the ruins before seeing her and then spends the rest of the conversation screaming and ignoring everything Sophia says) are unique.




Perhaps I just donít remember, but Iím pretty sure she doesnít talk with all these shy ellipses and whatnot in 6.




You know, thatís actually a decent gift to give before we fight Nergal and his elite morphs like Limstella. But how did Sophia get here? And why?




And the middle front is also basically done with for a while.




Another unimportant level for Priscilla from some healing.




And my plan goes into motion. Merlinus moves up so Fiora can access him in place.




Fiora takes out a Lightning.




And she flies to the remaining village to wait.




The others advance, using rescues to help people keep up.




Eliwood is juuuuust in range to lure 2 powerful enemies.




Canas doesnít say no to free XP either.




So everyone is safe at this point. Fiora can only be hit by 1 ballista, and no one else remotely vulnerable is in range of anything at all. Turn over.




Hereís the druid about to attack Eliwood. Heíll drop whichever tome he isnít currently using. Nosferatu is much better but worth much less, so I want to find a way to get him to switch to Nosferatu. Iím hoping heíll just do it on his own for the much better hit chance and speed.




The last two mages give Raven a good level.




Sweet!




I entered the final spawn zone and the spawned shamans split up for some reason.




Iím surprised itís not hit chance 0.




Gah! How did that happen? I checked the ballista range of the nearest ballista and the sage and she was safe! Good thing she had the Delphi shield.




Sain gets hit too, but that was part of the plan.




And the plan in question is ready to go.




First, Fiora visits the village. This is the final ring for Nils. It is quite literally worthless. 0 gold value and absolutely terrible, far worse under all circumstances than just doing a normal dance.




And Fiora flies up into just the right position for Renault to trade with her and use her lightning tome to kill that brigand.




Heath clears the last obstacle




And Hector kills the ballistician, just as planned. And the yellow ones are killer ballistae, as I thought.




The stats arenít easily found, so I reverse engineered them from this guyís stats now that heís using one. 12 Might, 65 Hit, 10 Crit, 8 range. Hits pretty hard and the crit chance is annoying but not that important. Short range.




LImstellaís true range limit since she doesnít move is marked by the cursor.




The level Sain gets from the ballistician isnít bad.




On the other front, Raven gets in the ideal position for fighting the Valkyries. Here he can have terrain bonuses and they never can.




So it was this guy who hit Florina. Because that ballista, which was gray so I thought it was normal, is not normal. No, itís an iron ballista.




13 Might, 60 Hit, 0 Crit, 15 range. 15! And it hits harder than a silver bow I believe. Thatís a serious weapon.




This sage is pretty powerful too while Iím checking long ranged weaponry.




So Iím going to focus on these guys before figuring out what to do with Florina now that that ballistician changed my plans.




Even Vaida doesnít like those ballistae, so Iím going to heal her.




Yes, this should work. It slows my plans a little, but it works.




Canas Physics Florina so she doesnít die and gets a nice level.




And then Nils lets Canas move to heal Nino.




There, everyone is good to go again.




Except Priscilla, whoís badly injured. On this fort lots of ranged enemies will go for her but all have about a 10% chance before true hit. Iíll take it since it will make things easier next turn to not have anyone else actually hurt.




So as turn 6 ends and the reinforcements are about to begin, Iím more or less completely swept 2 fronts and moved everyone in on the final corner. The enemy accomplishes nothing on their turn.




Valkyries!




Shamans!




This group is actually pretty dangerous now, every single shaman has nosferatu so they hit very hard.




I charge in anyway, I need to be aggressive now so things will be safer later. Heath gets a bad level.




A druid and two shamans bite the dust and the group is just short of ballista range. Still in double bolting range.




Just checking the stats here before canceling back to the forest.




Darn it! Eliwood and Hector (I checked with rescue dropping him just to see and then rewound) canít go into rivers anymore! Thatís unfortunate, Iíd kind of counted on that.

You know what? That means Hectorís post-promotion movement is actually worse than before promoting.




Well the small brigand crew are easily swept up.




I need those ballisticians and the sage dead. But storming that corner is really hard actually. Between 2 boltings, 3 ballistae, and a bunch of nosferatu shamans, itís just too dangerous. Even double-teaming this guy with Eliwood is a risk. Fortunately I think most of the enemy fire will be distracted by Sain whose Res is just a bit lower.




I really want to keep the pressure on the enemy so their 8 reinforcements per turn donít build up. But I just canít take the risk leaving Vaida exposed.




Limstella opens fire.




I got lazy trusting on his huge speed. He was in more danger here than I should have allowed.




Since Hector rescued Vaida, the shamans all run down to try to attack him.




Yeah, Sain had a very high chance of death there and that was totally avoidable.




Raven gets off to an unlucky start.




And 8 more guys. Attacking this corner is just really difficult. Itís well fortified and it has an endless stream of dangerous reinforcements. And I donít have time to waste running out the ballistae.




More Valkyries.




Reins up here start next turn, Erk moves closer to position.




Renault heals Sain. That my top front was so effective and fast was key to my strategy. As I said, I had to be aggressive and risky last turn, but now I can make things much safer.




Florina tries to weaken this important ballista but crits it instead. Handy.




Thatís Limstellaís true bolting range.




Heath flies down to slay the last ballistician.




And Fiora cuts off the shaman swarm. As you can see, if I attack this Druid there is a 50% chance that he survives and I take damage for nothing. But if I donít attack him and he attacks Fiora instead, he dies with 100% probability. Thatís just the peculiarity of dealing with Nosferatu.




So she kills this one instead.




Iíve absolutely got to get over that bridge right now no matter the cost. Otherwise the shamans could move south and block it. These woods take too long to get through and most of my air units are too vulnerable to just rescue people over it into shaman land.




But everyone makes for the bridge as best they can.




The druid obligingly kills himself.




Thereís no focus fire anymore, as I hoped with that bait.




More of them.




For one frame wyverns appear before the camera jumps across the map. They beat Nino to her mountain, oops.




And massive top reins.




Oh and some knights.




Well backup plan time.




Almost as good.




Erk will completely own these guys, as expected.




And new problem. The game knows that if youíre fast, youíll be trying to cross this bridge into a corner covered in boltings, nosferatus, and ballistae and stuck in the woods. So NOW they suddenly break out their massive of air units. Iím in an unusually tight spot because Iím moving very fast here, so I already have some people over the bridge, so I can have my army divided in two.




But first things first, Florina clears a path with Eliwood.




There we go!




And now Sain is free to ride into battle.




And Fiora takes up the last position to completely shield Florina.




Iíve got to get more firepower in there, Nils gets Hector over the bridge.




No way Priscilla can get over, so she retreats instead.




Ouch.




No one went for Nino. Darn it.




Erk is invincible.




Raven gets another classic Raven level.




Turn 10. Iíve at least controlled the swarming. Thatís key. Let them get a little out of hand one turn and theyíll be a lot out of hand the next.




Erk gets a good level.




The wyvern situation is problematic. Iíve moved Nino out in the open to get the rest of them to attack her. She can almost certainly take it.




Hector kills a general for a great level.




No one is safe! Not even generals on fortresses!




Sain opens the bridge once again.




Vaida rescues Priscilla and waits out of bolting range.




A disappointing level.




And Renault keeps people healed.




End of turn 10, the enemy took a huge beating.




And Limstellaís area is mine!




Looks great, but sheís missing two of the 3 important things.




This Pent is turning out speedy but not gaining much else.




Turn 11, you can see theyíre down 7 net from last time. Thatís the right direction.




And Raven is just finished. Nothing to do.




The generals and knights have been replaced by cavaliers which are much easier to kill.




Priscilla is safely dropped off.




I cleared a path so Canas could take a shot while Limstella still has 0 AS or so, but it turns out to have a much too high chance of just killing her.




So he uses flux and does good damage and then is rescued out so sheíll finish with bolting.




Nice!




Not so nice! But at least the wyverns have been going for her, and now sheís back on her forest.




The circle is now complete. When he met them he was but the learner; now Erk is the master.




Eliwood starts chipping down Limstella for an awesome level. Pile those defenses high!




More magic is good!




Itís a complete slaughter.




Turn 13, secret shop time.




Money well spent, I purchase a barrier and 2 earth seals with the silver card. That leaves 113 gold. Which means that I could have gained at most 113 more gold with slightly less selling of items basically. A complete triviality. Worst case scenario, I lost one drink of a vulnerary for all those gems and such I sold starting on New Resolve to buy whatever I wanted. Definitely worthwhile.




Nothing to do but mass heal.




Canas completely dominates and could have crushed her with Flux in a straight fight. Fimbulvetyr is BAD.




Unnecessary critical!




Limstella is sad. This is more interesting than it sounds. Afterall, didnít she want to die for Nergal? Perhaps not. Perhaps sheíd rather have lived. Or perhaps sheís only sad she couldnít have served him better. Either way, sheís spent her whole life pretending her feelings donít matter and continues to now.




Turn 13. A few random cavaliers spawn right near the starting zone in these last few turns which are not worth going for. And there will be almost no more reinforcements till turn 20, so nowís the time to end it.




And yet really easy.




Nils is blaming the right person for Ninianís death now. They were only ever in danger because of Nergal and would never had any chance at a free life again without Eliwood.




Athos isnít here so they donít want to just charge in. Instead they hang back and ask Nils to finally explain whatís been going on.




He agrees, saying he wants them to know the secret heís been carrying.




Itís a picture from the prelude!




Now we finally learn the nature and purpose of the Dragonís Gate explicitly. Of course, that was mentioned in a Glimpse In Time, but you canít do that level on your first play.




From his description, it sounds like the dragons might have basically just crushed the humans in this other world. This would fit with Yahnís explanation of draconic ruthlessness.




Look, itís (probably) Ninian and Nils! Nils is just as adorable as a dragon.




And now we begin to learn why it was Ninian and Nils in particular who came here. And why was Ninian the medium? Probably because sheís half human dark wizard and that likely results in some unusual abilities.




They managed the gate, and one day they heard a voice calling to them.




Nils distorts the much sadder truth that it was the voice of their (they think) dead father.




A pretty great painting of them at Nergalís mercy after coming through the gate. They really look rather beaten and helpless. And thereís Limstella, the one whoís always at Nergalís side.




And now we learn why he didnít drain them. They lost most of their quintessence coming through the gate so they had little left to take. Possibly because theyíre just kids. Or half-humans.




But he did take their dragonstone. Perhaps not as recently as Iíd speculated or perhaps so- they might have gotten it back during one of their escapes.




They quickly realized just how badly theyíd screwed up and that they might have doomed both worlds.




Fantastic picture, I love this one.




And Lyn realizes that Nergal was hunting for them for this reason even when she first met them. And that they must have been recaptured just after leaving Caelin- which is probably why they disappeared so suddenly.




Since escape wasnít an option, they wondered if they should kill themselves to stop Nergalís plan.




And when things were at their darkest, they met Elbert.




He didnít blame them for what they did falling for Nergalís trick. Possibly they even told him the true story that they thought they heard their fatherís voice.




He really must have too. And this, we now realize, is what they meant when they said Elbertís stories saved them. They were going to kill themselves until he gave them hope.




Not a bad guess really. I mean, he WAS likely to go looking for Elbert.




So now we see why Eliwood meant so much to Ninian and Nils and why they were so ashamed of their part in Elbertís death.




And why even now, when Eliwoodís carelessness cost Ninianís life, Nils will stand by him.




Unshakeable Faith plays once again!



And then sidequest happens! And itís totally inappropriate both in terms of story and dramatic buildup. The sidequest should have been before Victory or Death, not after it.


Itís nice to just have a big, simple, clean fight from time to time. But it would be boring if there was more than one in pretty much the whole game. One major problem I have with many of the later titles is that they have waaaay too many chapters like Victory or Death. Like the entire final third of 9 is just one really big, fairly pointless, increasingly boring fight after another. Almost no interesting maps, no interesting tactics to consider, and almost no important story developments. Just auto-attacking battle after battle. We donít even get any level gimmicks beyond the really, really stupid boulders thing and the one chapter where the fight is absolutely pointless and nonsensical where you have to shove like 3 priests to get the best possible ending.


Total Restarts: 38 (That one critical and the berserk thing)
Turn Surplus: 16 (Earned 2 more. That should put me in a more comfortable position)
Things I Regret Missing: The lockpick on chapter 11, that darned archer on chapter 11, this one brigand who attacked Marcus on chapter 12, 2 more brigands who ignored everyone else to attack Marcus on chapter 13x, and 2 archers who ignored Hector and Dorcas (DORCAS!) to attack Marcus on chapter 14, like 10 more enemies I could have killed if Hector could have survived one more turn on chapter18, Uhai who decided to take a 100% chance of death to Sain over a free hit on Hector, the chance to finish shopping properly with my silver card on chapter 21, the armorslayer that I would have acquired if not for a stupid minor mistake on chapter 22, these 3 wyvern riders who decided they preferred a 0% chance to hit Isadaora and then 100% chance of death against her to fighting a low level Heath, those 2 pegasus knights at the end of Crazed Beast that I just didnít have enough time to feed to Bartre, the confused pirate and final archer on Night of Farewells, like 5 charges of Filaís Might and a Luna tome I should have Hammerned on Cog of Destiny, the Pure Water on The Berserker, and the 2 or 3 Victory or Death Valkyries who only lived because Erkís Elfire broke just before the last turn.

Yukari
Feb 17, 2011

"That's going in the cringe reel for sure."


Why again do you have to spend your gold on items with the silver card? Is it because the funds ranking counts the value of the item if you were to buy them at the end of the game, so buying items with the silver card from money that you were just given is a net increase?

FoolyCharged
Oct 11, 2012

Somebody call for an ant?

Yukari posted:

Why again do you have to spend your gold on items with the silver card? Is it because the funds ranking counts the value of the item if you were to buy them at the end of the game, so buying items with the silver card from money that you were just given is a net increase?

yup, it counts the value of all your items + your gold. Since the silver card halves the cost of items, the card turns shopping from an activity that doesn't change your funds score to one that actively increases your rank.

Dr Pepper
Feb 4, 2012

Don't like it? well...

If a Swordmaster has a Wo Dao I never let it attack pretty much. Always snipe that thing.

Rigged Death Trap
Feb 13, 2012

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

Dr Pepper posted:

If a Swordmaster has a Wo Dao I never let it attack pretty much. Always snipe that thing.

Or park a unit with Defense and laugh at the 3 damage crit.

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Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Rigged Death Trap posted:

Or park a unit with Defense and laugh at the 3 damage crit.

That's (basically) what I thought I was doing. No one else but one brigand was in attacking range and I had 3 healers nearby so even a 40 damage crit would have been the same as a 3 damage one. Eliwood, Vaida, and Canas would all have taken 6 damage or less. And in fact everyone on the team but Florina and Priscilla would have survived easily. At this point in the game, enemy swordmasters and their criticals are a laugh. I just forgot how terrible my Florina's defense and HP (before counting Angelic Robe) are. If she was even average she'd have lived easily.

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