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Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Chapter Quick Links
This post: Prologue
Chapter 1 and The War Room Part 1 (Lyn's Story and Grand Strategy)
Chapter 2 and The War Room Part 2 (Basic Stats Explained)
Chapter 3 and The War Room Part 3 (Weapon Stats Explained)
Chapter 4 and The War Room Part 4 (Combat Mechanics Explained)
Chapter 5 and The War Room Part 5 (Countering Enemy Ranged Units)
Chapter 6 and The War Room Part 6 (Ranking Categories Explained)
Chapter 7
Chapter 7x and The War Room Parts 8 & 9 (Why you shouldn't Max Rank Lyn's Story & Thief AI)
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10 and The War Room Part 9 (Evaluating Lyn's Mode Preparations)
Interlude 1 (Evaluating Strategies)
Interlude 2 (Introduction to Elibe)
Chapter 11 and The War Room Part 10 (Zero Requirement Chapters)
Chapter 12 and The War Room Part 11 (Managing Early HHM Funds)
Chapter 13 and The War Room Part 12 (Advanced Trading Tactics)
Chapter 13x and The War Room Part 13 (Dealing With Fog of War)
Chapter 14 and The War Room Part 14 (Battle Preparations: General Principles)
Chapter 15 and The War Room Part 15 (Supports Explained)
Chapter 16
Chapter 17 and The War Room Part 16 (Handaxes and Javelins)
Chapter 17x and The War Room Part 17 (Estimating Enemy Damage)
Chapter 18 and The War Room Part 18 (Damage Reduction Tactics)
Chapter 19 and The War Room Part 19 (Choosing Between Alternate Chapters)
Chapter 19x and The War Room Part 20 & 21 (Long-ranged Magic & Basic Rescue Mechanics)
Chapter 19xx
Chapter 20 (part 1) and The War Room Part 22 (Tactician Stars)
Chapter 20 (part 2)
Chapter 21 and The War Room Part 23 (Conditions)
Chapter 22 and The War Room Part 24 (Enemy and Ally Turn Order)
Chapter 23
Chapter 23x and The War Room Part 25 (XP Calculations)
Chapter 24 (part 1) and The War Room Part 26 (Shopping)
Chapter 24 (part 2)
Chapter 25 and The War Room Part 27 (HHM Bonuses)
Chapter 26
Chapter 27 (part 1) and The War Room Part 28 (Scouting Maps and Revising Strategies)
Chapter 27 (part 2)
Interlude 3 (Checking Progress Before the Endgame)
Chapter 28 (part 1)
Chapter 28 (part 2)
Chapter 28x (part 1) and the War Room Part 29 (The Boots)
Chapter 28x (part 2)
Chapter 29 (part 1) and the War Room Part 30 (Physic)
Chapter 29 (part 2)
Chapter 29 (part 3)
Chapter 30 and the War Room Part 31 (Weapon XP)
Chapter 31 (part 1)
Chapter 31 (part 2)
Chapter 31x and the War Room Part 32 (Hammerne)
Chapter 32 (part 1) and the War Room Part 32 (Map Awareness)
Chapter 32 (part 2)
Chapter 32x (part 1) and the War Room Part 33 (Warp and Rescue)
Chapter 32x (part 2) and the War Room Part 34 (Magic Swords)
Final Chapter (part 1)
Final Chapter (part 2)
Epilogue


About this Series:


For those unfamiliar with the series, Fire Emblem games are fantasy turn based strategy games with many RPG elements, including persistent units with often deep and rich characterization who level up as you use them. Separating Fire Emblem games from, say, Shining Force or Final Fantasy Tactics is that character death in Fire Emblem is permanent. If you let one of your soldiers die, you must either restart that chapter of the game or continue the rest of the story without them. If your main character (The "Lord") dies, you lose and must restart the chapter.

Notably, Fire Emblem games are almost completely standalone and set in different universes from each other (with a few exceptions). You do not need to know anything about the other games in the series to appreciate the story of this one or to understand its gameplay mechanics.


About this Game:

This GBA game goes by many names. Officially it was simply called Fire Emblem in the U.S., since none of the Fire Emblem games made in the previous 13 years had been released here. In Japan it was subtitled Rekka no Ken, usually translated as Blazing Sword. Most U.S. series fans, including myself, will call it Fire Emblem 7 since it's the 7th in the series overall.

Debates as to which of the (up till now) 13 Fire Emblem games is best can be quite heated, but 7 is usually considered one of the greatest. Having played nearly all of the FE games, I regard this one as not only the best but quite possibly the only truly great game in the series. It is not the most challenging for a veteran gamer (That would be the near-legendary Fire Emblem: Thracia 776) or the prettiest (Probably Path of Radiance for the Gamecube), but it has a good balance of wonderful story, great music, atmospheric art impressive for the GBA, solid gameplay, tremendous replay value, a wide range of available difficulty, and perhaps the deepest and most appealing characters in the series. Along with Les Miserables, it's the only work of art of any kind that I would describe as 'moving'. That is why I think it's worthy of another Let's Play.


About this LP

There are many good LPs of this game, but relatively few of Hector Hard Mode (the hardest difficulty mode available), and fewer yet of a Hector Hard Mode Max Ranking run.

To explain those terms for the unfamiliar: Hector Mode refers to the unlockable version of the main FE7 story that is told from the point of view of Hector, one of the protagonists. Hector Mode is generally more difficult than the main mode (Eliwood Mode) and also has some additional content (New conversations and character development, new chapters, more secrets available). Hector Hard Mode is exactly what it sounds like: the much more difficult version of Hector Mode. Enemies will be significantly stronger and more numerous, allies will gain levels more slowly, and treasures will often be harder to acquire.

Additionally, your performance in the game is scored with a ranking system based on how quickly you complete the levels, how much gold and riches you acquire, how much experience your characters get, how many survive, and how many attacks it takes you to kill your enemies on average. To achieve the maximum possible ranking on Hector Hard Mode is one of the greatest challenges in the game.

I intend for this LP to be part guide to HHM Ranking runs for those who haven't yet done one and part exploration of why and how this particular FE game is so successful in telling the story of its characters and providing a fun experience for the player.

I will not be posting the entire script of the game here since that's available on something like half a dozen Fire Emblem fan sites (along with all sorts of extra scenes I won't be able to get because I'm doing an HHM Ranking run).
What I will do is summarize the story, show you some of its particular highlights, talk about the ways it's told well and the ways it isn't, and outline my strategy for tackling this challenge as I go through it.


Some Rules

There will be some fairly significant spoilers in this LP and the game has been out long enough that I doubt many people will mind you spoiling parts of it for them. Still, be polite to anyone here who hasn't played the game and don't reveal too much to them before I get to that part of the game. That probably includes talking about FE6 and its events in any way.

I've done HHM Max Ranking runs before, so telling me that using X character or doing Y thing is a bad idea is unlikely to sway me. As characters are introduced, I'll talk about them as units as well as as people and that will also generally include my analysis of how useful they are. Don't be offended if I say I don't intend to use your favorite character. Still, I'm always refining my strategies and open to suggestions and discussion. As a wise man named Canas once said, "Teaching illuminates the minds of both master and student."


Before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you THIS story

Before Hector's story begins, one typically plays through "Lyn's Story". Lyn's story is essentially a long prologue and tutorial meant to introduce players to the setting, characters, and mechanics of the game. As a tutorial, it's extremely easy to complete. However, I won't skip over it since it contains important story details and is a very important part of preparing for an HHM ranking run. More on that later.

Without further ado, let the Let's Play begin!




One unusual feature of FE7 is the presence of a Tactician character, with the default name of Mark. The tactician doesn't take part in battle, is never seen talking, and generally serves as a stand in for the player. Some critics of FE7 say this character adds nothing to the game and puts needless distance between the player and the game universe. However, I would argue that the tactician does have enough of an implied personality from the other characters' reactions to be interesting and his/her presence makes certain conversations among other characters make more sense (Some examples will be mentioned as they appear). Could they have done without the tactician? Yes. Would eliminating the tactician make for an unambiguously better game? I don't think so; there would be both advantages and disadvantages.




For one thing, you'd lose the minor changes that the customizable tactician makes possible. You can change the name, gender, and birthdate of the character. Some characters react differently to a male than a female tactician and have slightly different dialogue as a result, which helps deepen your understanding of those characters. Furthermore, the tactician's birth month changes the tactician's elemental affinity (here affinity is Thunder as evidenced by the bolt, by default you can see it's Light). This grants small hit and dodge chance bonuses to characters with the same affinity. While this has only a small effect on gameplay, it's not nothing. In my opinion, they should have expanded the role and customizability of the tactician to be more interesting rather than eliminating it.

I'll make the tactician female because I'm less familiar with the dialogue for that case and will set the tactician's affinity to Thunder because that will boost several units I'll be using who need all the hit and dodge bonuses they can get.



And at last the game begins!

Chapter Summary:
Lyn (a young swordswoman living alone on the great Sacae plains) takes in a young woman (the tactician, here named Market) who she found unconscious outside. The two of them deal with a few bandit raiders led by Batta the Beast and then resolve to travel together to hone their skills. Neither of them has a home to leave behind since Market is already a wanderer and Lyn lost her family and her tribe to a brutal bandit attack some months ago.




The game immediately hits you with some of its very pretty and atmospheric music. The soundtrack is quite excellent and rather evocative and it adds greatly to one's appreciation of the characters and what they're feeling as one plays. While not as fancy as the cutscenes in later installments of the series, portraits and pictures like these are quite well done and have a lot of personality. I'd argue that much of that is lost in the animated cinematics of a game like Fire Emblem: Awakening or Radiant Dawn.


The Map:


Here's the map for this level. For the benefit of newcomers, I've selected Lyn so that you can see her movement range in blue. Red squares are those she can't move into but can attack into. The two red guys with axes are the enemy, each is of the lowly Brigand class.


The Characters:



“You’ll be my master strategist, and I’ll be your peerless warrior!” –Lyn

The main character of the first 10 or so chapters of the game, appropriately dubbed "Lyn's Story". Lyn is a young, inexperienced swordswoman living alone on the vast Sacae plains. She's grieving for the loss of her family and her tribe as the story begins and intends to serve their killers up a nice, cold dish of sweet revengeance in the near future. However, her life takes an unexpected turn when she meets the tactician. We soon see that though she's violent and merciless, she's also compassionate and devoted with her small circle of friends and family. She gets some of the most development of any character in the story, partly because she has the first third or so of the game in the spotlight and also because her story is woven closely with that of Eliwood and Hector later on.
Lyn is one of the more interesting and appealing characters in the game. She's not as unimpeachably heroic as the soft-hearted Eliwood, but she has a strong sense of justice and duty to friends and family. And she's perhaps the most competent of the 3 lords with her combination of patience, practical skills, combat prowess, and iron will. These (plus a magic sword) will serve her in good stead.

Statistically, Lyn is good but not great. She has tremendous Speed and good luck so she can dodge well, but she lacks the HP or defense to take the heat on the front lines for long anyway. Offensively she's also rather lacking because her Strength is poor and she can only use Swords, a rather weak category of weapon, for most of the game. Her greatest asset is actually her special weapon, the Mani Katti, soon to be revealed. This is an EXTREMELY useful sword while it lasts. Her greatest weakness is that promoting her (and thus making her viable in the endgame) costs double price. She's not worth that, so I will not be promoting her. Still, I need to use her a decent amount just because she's required to bring along on many chapters and because she must be high level for me to unlock one of the chapters I want later on.



"You think you can stand up to Batta the Beast?" -Batta

The top left of those red guys is the chapter boss, Batta the Beast. He's not much of a threat except that he's sitting on a Gate (powerful defensive terrain). You can see his stats here; they're pretty feeble. More interesting is the brief note about who the character is. Most FE titles do not have little notes like these, and I regard that as a big loss. Batta may be a very minor character, but he's not completely faceless this way. Most later FE7 bosses get a decent amount of character development through their pre-level dialogue as well as additional information in these notes. Batta is as faceless as enemies get in this game, but we still know more about him than about many bosses in, say, FE9.



Playing Through:




This chapter is trivially easy if played smart. I'm going to take my time so that I don't need to use any Vulneraries (healing potions). To that end, I moved Lyn way up to some protective Forest terrain at the top of the map and engaged the brigand there where he can't hurt Lyn.

A few turns later, Batta lies dead at Lyn's feet and she gets the first level up of the game:




Outstanding! Though an increase in Strength would have been nice, it's very rare for her to gain any Def, let alone this many stats at once, so I'll count my blessings. Most characters in this game can gain a total of 38 or so level-ups (going to level 20, promoting to level 1 of a better class, then going to 20 again) and at each level they have a fixed and character-specific chance of gaining +1 to each stat.
You'll notice that in a single level up her Def went from 2 to 3, a 50% increase, and many of her other stats improved by a significant % as well. The amount of growth you can get from level ups often dwarfs your starting stats, so high level characters are often dozens or hundreds of times stronger than low level characters.

With Batta dead, Lyn takes the gate he was standing on and the chapter concludes.

The next day, she and Market talk about their plans for the future and decide to set out together. The Tactician unwittingly rubs some salt in the wound of Lyn recently losing her family.

At first glance, Lyn's background may look fairly generic for a fantasy heroine. She was the daughter of the chief of her tribe of plains people (think Mongols or maybe great plains native Americans or the like) before they were slaughtered by a treacherous bandit attack and now she is nearly the last of her people, driven to avenge them. This is a fair criticism. What makes Lyn interesting is where she goes from here. This is not a story of her getting revenge, this is a story of her moving on with her life and treasuring the family she has left. FE7 does a remarkably good job showing strong characters grieving but finding the strength to continue and move past their loss. It's clear that the great disaster still pains Lyn even years later, but she generally avoids talking about it, starting with this conversation and its conclusion:




Listening to the music during this scene is required to fully appreciate it, so there's no substitute for actually playing this game, but I'll have other opportunities to bring up this point again later.

And that concludes the prologue! I shall move forward at a faster pace from now on.

Melth fucked around with this message at May 10, 2015 around 18:26

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Carlosologist
Oct 13, 2013

Revelry in the Dark



I look forward to seeing your take on this game, as HHM is difficult enough without shooting for perfection! If I may offer a suggestion, I think you should definitely crop your screens a bit to make them not as wide as they currently are.

Other than that, this is going to be a good LP!

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Carlosologist posted:

I look forward to seeing your take on this game, as HHM is difficult enough without shooting for perfection! If I may offer a suggestion, I think you should definitely crop your screens a bit to make them not as wide as they currently are.

Other than that, this is going to be a good LP!
.
Alright, thanks, I'll try a different size in this chapter I'm about to post.

Regarding difficulty, it's actually not as hard as people think (and one reason I'm doing this LP is to show other people how they too can max rank HHM). What's key is to know thine enemy. You'll probably want to have played HHM before for best results, but just having played normal Hector mode will help a lot too. And you'll want to understand the requirements for a proper ranking run. I'll be getting into stuff like that as I go along.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!




From now on I’ll be doing some serious strategy talk in sections I’ll label “The War Room”. If you’re not interested in playing the game yourself and in long discussions of its mechanics and my ingenious stratagems, you can skip right over those sections without missing anything. But if you do intend to do a run of max ranking HHM someday or you want to be blown away by my brilliance, they’ll be good reading.


The War Room, Part 1
To beat HHM with max ranking you’ll need 2 things: Good tactics and good strategy. Tactics are the hard part and there’s no substitute for experience and experimentation when it comes to learning the best way to outsmart the AI and pass the level requirements chapter by chapter. Arguably, strategy is more important as well as easier, so let me talk about mine a little bit here.

I mentioned before that Lyn’s story is important prep for Hector’s story. This is because in Lyn’s story you can train up a lot of units who will then be useful later. Before you even start Lyn’s story it’s good to know who you plan to train. For me it will be Sain, Florina, and Lyn (I’ll get into why as the characters are introduced).

Funds are extremely limited on a max ranking run, which means you can promote only a handful of characters. Only promoted people will be able to take the heat of the final chapters, so you’d better choose well.

One interesting and underused loophole however is that you can promote Sain or Kent in Lyn’s story. This is essentially a free promotion, and thus a free extra awesome team member. In order to make that work, I am going to dump TONS of experience into Sain.

Now if that sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. At the end of Lyn’s story you lose access to Lyn’s acquired treasures and Lyn’s party members. Early in Hector’s story, Lyn and her retainers will rejoin the party, but they don't bring their old stuff with them. However, Lyn will be carrying a valuable treasure depending on how rich she got in her story. If your total assets (cash on hand + value of all stuff) acquired in her story was < 20,000 gold, then she’ll have nothing. If 20,000 < assets < 30,000, then she’ll have a “Red Gem” worth 5000 gold. If 30,000 < assets < 33,000, then a “Blue Gem” worth 10,000 gold. And if you had 33,000 < Assets then she’ll have a “White Gem” worth 20,000 gold!

That is serious money, so you really want her to start with that White Gem. So you really, really want to make sure you have more than 33,000 in assets at the end of Lyn’s story. But saving up that much money involves some tough choices. Specifically, you will need to be really careful not to use expensive items like vulneraries or bows or magic and to minimize even your use of staves. Additionally you’ll need to come up with clever stratagems to steal everything that can be stolen from your enemies. And finally, you will need to make a choice of which 2 of the 3 big ticket items to use: the Angelic Robe, Energy Ring, or the Knight Crest.

A Knight Crest is an item worth 10,000 which you can use up (losing its entire value from your assets) to promote a Cavalier (Sain or Kent) or Knight (Wallace).
An Angelic Robe is an item worth 8,000 which you can use up (losing its entire value) to grant +7 HP to any unit.
An Energy Ring is an item worth 8,000 which you can use up (losing its entire value) to grant +2 Strength to any unit.

For many years it was believed that you could only use one of those and still get the White Gem in Hector’s story; the others had to be unused and therefore wasted.
Then someone discovered that if you were really careful with expenses, you could actually use both the Energy Ring and the Angelic Robe and still get the White Gem.
As far as I know, I am the first one who has managed to shave another 2000 off the net expenses, allowing me to use the Angelic Robe (or Energy Ring) and the Knight Crest. So any combination of 2 big items used is possible, but you’ll have to be REALLY careful to use the Knight Crest. I think it’s worth it since saving 10,000 in Hector's story + having access to a promoted Sain early is way more valuable than +2 Str on any character. Meanwhile I’ll use the Angelic Robe on Florina since I want to use her a lot and she needs all the hitpoints she can get to stay on the front lines. You should tailor your big items used for your own chosen characters and their needs, but I believe that what I am doing here is the best possible strategy. You’ll see how I begin implementing it starting this chapter.


Chapter Story Summary:

Lyn and Market travel to the city of Bulgar to purchase some supplies before running into Sain and Kent, a pair of knights from the southern city-state of Caelin . They get off on the wrong foot, but patch things up quickly after Sain and Kent help Lyn against some assassins who attack her. It is revealed that Lyn is the heir to the throne of Caelin and that her main rival for the throne, her granduncle Lundgren, is trying to have her killed in order to secure the succession. Eager to meet her newly discovered family in Caelin (and needing all the bodyguards she can get), she decides to travel there with the knights and Market.




Although the backgrounds in these ordinary dialogue scenes are not quite as interesting as the special paintings found here and there, they’re still quite well done.

And the dialogue is generally top notch. This scene with Sain, Lyn, and (later) Kent and their little misunderstanding remains one of my favorites. Sain is generally a fairly comical character, but not to the extent that it detracts from the general seriousness of the game. Even he stops his antics and sobers up when danger looms.


[

So imagine you’re just walking out of your door when suddenly a gang of thugs armed to the teeth walks up to you. You’ve never seen them before but they know you by name and they’ve been sent to kill you and you don’t even know why. Yeah, Lyn is appropriately startled in this scene.

I can remember this felt like a pretty serious plot twist the first time I was playing the game. It had really looked like the game was going to revolve around Lyn training to get stronger and then avenge her parents up till this point.

Also look at that lovely background. And the detail on even this random thug’s portrait: 5 o’clock shadow, hints of chest hair, ragged edges to his shirt. You’ll never see this guy after this level and he’s more a plot device than a character, but they didn’t skimp on doing good art for him.

The Map:





A fairly straightforward chapter, but the first one for which you have multiple units available. Again, nothing but weak brigands for enemies, plus the boss in the top right corner. Ordinarily you’d just move everyone toward him, massacring his minions on the way, but I’m going to take my time and try to keep Lyn and Kent out of the fight for reasons hinted at in the War Room and now explained below:


The Characters:



“Ah, Kent! My boon companion! Why so severe an expression?” –Sain, Chapter 1

Dashing, handsome, recklessly brave, cheerful, and a shameless skirt-chaser, Sain often looks rather stupid but it’s clear that he's actually reasonably clever. For example, he’s the first to realize Lundgren is the person most likely to be behind the assassination attempts. That he’s capable of being serious when it counts and isn’t just a joke character makes him one of my favorites. Sadly, he doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as Kent as things go on. The interplay of him + Kent + Lyn in the early chapters is quite enjoyable and develops them all very well.


Mechanically, it’s a bit hard to explain why Sain is so awesome. He’s decently tough and decently good at dodging, but definitely not a unit you want tanking. His speed starts bad but grows very well, which makes him better as the game goes on. The guy’s main statistical asset is monstrous strength in the early and mid levels, but that hits his low maximum quickly so he doesn’t do so great at the end.

More important is his great class. He’s a Cavalier, which means he moves very fast, can wield a wide variety of weapons, and can rescue and carry around all but the largest allies. Those are all very handy on this kind of run. His stats don't look great compared to those of the really hardcore combat masters like Heath or Hector or Raven, but they're better than those of his fellow cavaliers. That plus his early availability and ease of training makes him a top choice for a ranking run, and he will be my main unit in this one. I’ll have him kill almost EVERYTHING for the next 10 chapters.




“Sain, you lout!” –Kent, Chapter 1

It has been a tradition since the first Fire Emblem game to introduce 2 cavaliers with contrasting personalities and stat sets early in the story as partners. Sain and Kent carry on this tradition, but they do it better by actually being interesting people.

In contrast to Sain, Kent is serious and dutiful and gentlemanly. He lives the knightly ideal of strictly honorable behavior and loyalty to lord and land. And he’s extremely competent off the battlefield, usually serving as Lyn’s second in command and diplomat and a co-advisor of sorts with Market. One suspects that he also handles details like managing food supplies, helping Sain get his cuirass on straight in the morning, navigation, negotiating with border guards, accounting, keeping people’s weapons in good order, arbitrating petty disputes among the less patient members of the group, and talking down angry, shotgun-wielding fathers coming after Sain. I definitely like the guy.


But I can’t justify using him. Like Sain, Kent is a Cavalier and that’s a good class, but Kent has several problems. One of them is named Lowen and will be introduced later. The other is Sain. Essentially Sain is a cavalier who’s better on offense than Kent while Lowen is a cavalier who’s better on defense than Kent. Kent excels at nothing. His biggest asset is Skill, but Skill is nearly worthless. Kent IS slightly faster than Sain, but Sain is fast enough. And fast enough is all you need. Meanwhile Sain enjoys a huge lead in the damage he can dish out at all stages of the game.

Also, every penny counts for the strategy I’m implementing on this run of Lyn’s story. Each hit against an enemy consumes irreplaceable funds on used up weapon durability. Sain can kill anything in 2 hits. Kent can kill anything in 3. This means Kent is going to be 50% more expensive for a while, and that’s a cost I can’t afford. So Kent will never be used in Lyn’s story, which means he goes into Hector’s story really weak. So Lowen will be better. So he’ll never really be used in Hector’s story. Well except for boosting my XP rank toward the end. Poor guy.




“Accursed knights, always tampering in others’ affairs.” –Zugu, Chapter 1

Cleverly disguised as a bandit, Zugu is an assassin working for Lord Lundgren to assassinate Lyn before her status as heir to the throne of Caelin can be revealed. The man did not know what he was getting into. Lyn alone could wipe out his merry band of miscreants. Sain barely notices they exist as he tramples over the top of them.

Playing Through:




Although using a lance vs an axe user like a brigand is dangerous, it’s also inexpensive, so Sain is going to have to grin and bear it for a while.
His first level up is hazard pay anyone would be happy with. Speed is critically important for Sain at this juncture so I don’t much care if his defensive stats end up bad as long as he’s fast now.




Zugu, like most bosses in this game, is petrified with fear at the sight of your glorious army, so he won’t move no matter what happens. Having had Sain take down all of his minions, I now move in all my troops to finish him off. I only intend to fight with Sain, but if Sain gets hit badly then I want to have Lyn on hand to finish Zugu off.




Sain handles Zugu masterfully even armed with his lance. It’s a bad level up but I’m still happy because of that speed bonus last time.

And that’s a wrap!




Here’s a quick cap of a painting of Kent, Sain, Lyn, and Market talking after the battle (Market is lurking on the right side of the frame). Let me just say that I appreciate how characters wear things that resemble armor and clothes in this game.

As the series goes on, costumes have gotten weirder and weirder. By Fire Emblem: Awakening (FE13) Kellam the knight is wearing a space suit with a rocket thruster on his back, Frederick the paladin is in a suit of powered armor, Sully the cavalier has some kind of horrible sink basin/Saw trap around her neck, and Tharja the dark mage seems to be wearing a bikini over some kind of weird full-body pantyhose thing that I can’t even describe.

As another note, this battle was one of the times when having the tactician Market in the story made a difference. Lyn is too proud to let a stranger take point in her battle and Sain is too determined to impress Lyn with his bravery to let her go in first, so the two of them are bickering about who’s going to take the lead when Kent resolves the dispute by saying the tactician can just direct them. The tactician helps explain why some of these people with starkly contrasting personalities can work well together in battle.




So after the fight Sain and Kent reveal that they were sent by the Marquess (ruler) of Caelin to find his long-lost granddaughter Lyndis.

You see, Marquess Hausen had a daughter named Madelyn who eloped with Hassar, the visiting chief of the Sacaen Lorca tribe. Since she’d defied her father Hausen and since prejudice against the ‘uncivilized’ people of Sacae is fairly common among noblemen of Lycia (the federation of city-states Caelin is part of), Marquess Hausen had disowned her.

18 years later, Madelyn sent a letter back home to her father saying that she and her husband Hassar were still living happily on the plains and that they had an 18 year old daughter who they had named Lyndis, after Marquess Hausen’s (long-dead) wife. Hausen was overjoyed and immediately dispatched Sain and Kent, two of his knights, to find his daughter and her family and invite them to visit. However, Hausen’s younger brother Lundgren was not happy about this because Hausen had had no other descendants. That meant Lundgren had been next in line for the throne, but now it looked like he would be passed over. So Lundgren sent assassins to kill Lyn.

Around that time, the bandits attacked Lyn’s tribe in force. Conceivably they were paid to do so by Lundgren, but no one really talks about this possibility. Madelyn and Hassar were killed but Lyn survived. Sain and Kent found this out when they arrived in Bulgar, so they decided they needed to look around for a young woman living on her own on the plains who looks like Madelyn did and is named Lyndis. And… guess who completely matches that description?

It's a pretty cool and detailed backstory and the game does a good job of revealing it piece by piece as things become relevant.




Unlike most other games I’ve played that use this portrait on background with speech bubbles style of dialogue (e.g. most Advance wars games, final fantasy tactics, Sonic Battle, or even most later Fire Emblems), the portraits here really have a wide variety of poses and expressions which let you know what the characters are doing and feeling. Also they do things like blink and move their mouths semi-realistically. Why is every game of this type after this more primitive?




And Lyn decides she’s got to run the risks of going to Caelin for a chance to meet her elderly grandfather, so she asks the tactician Market for help.

There’s chapter 1 for you. The next battle is a bit more complicated.

Melth fucked around with this message at May 14, 2015 around 18:55

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!




So here's the first chapter with an interesting level design. It's also a pretty cool chapter the first time you play, but turns out to have little plot significance in retrospect.


The War Room, Part 2
Before I can really get into more detailed mechanics or tactics, I've got to properly explain the basics. So today I'm just going to talk about the attributes characters have and what exactly they do. The precise formulae are good to understand for serious players.

SPOILERS: the boss of this chapter is Glass! Here in the war-room we're going to get a sneak preview of him and his stats for purposes of explaining them.




So here he is, the legendary swordsman himself. Just look at those stats! They're so high that the game flipped them back down to the single digits.

Hit Points are your life. When they runs out, the character dies. And that means you must restart the chapter if it's one of your characters. However, each point of HP helps very little, especially compared to things like Defense, so it's not a very important stat.

Strength is a stat not every unit has. Mages and staff-users technically have Mag instead, but it's exactly the same. Honestly, I usually just call Mag "Str". Anyway, Str is pretty simple: it's your base damage (I'll get into the details of damage when I talk about weapons in the next war room).

Skill is one of the least important stats. Your skill x2 is part of your hit chance, but the hit chance is typically so high anyway that more skill beyond 10 or so rarely matters. 1/2 your Skill is also your base crit chance, but again that's not really that important.

Speed- The one stat to rule them all, speed is critical to both offense and defense. First of all, 2x your speed is subtracted from the enemy hit % chance. Furthermore, if your speed is greater than the enemy's by 4 or more, you get an extra attack against that enemy every time you fight (and vice versa). So high speed doubles your damage output and it makes you dodge attacks. And low speed doubles the damage you take. That said, it becomes less useful when you already have a ton of it, and you still need Strength to do any damage.

Luck- This one does a bunch of stuff. First of all, 1x your Luck is subtracted from the enemy hit % chance. Second, 1/2 your Luck is part of your hit chance. Third, your luck is subtracted from the enemy base crit chance to determine their real crit chance. All of these effects are small and some are unimportant, so Luck isn't a particularly good stat.

Defense is a seriously important stat, especially in HHM. Def is subtracted from the damage you would take from every single non-magical enemy attack. Something like 90% of enemies don't use magic, so Def is incredibly useful. One point of it is probably worth about 5 HP.

Resistance is Def but for magical attacks. Those are pretty rare and most enemy mages are easy prey, so this stat isn't usually worth much.

Move does not increase when you level up, only when you promote. It's a bit more complicated than it sounds. This is how many squares your character can move over plains or the insides of buildings, but remember that different terrain affects different units in different ways. Most infantry (Mercenaries, fighters, archers, myrmidons), etc. are all in one category. Forests count as 2 squares; rivers and oceans are impassable; mountains count as 4; deserts count as 2. Most mages are the same except that they can move full speed over deserts. Pirates are the same except they can move over rivers and oceans at half speed. Flyers move full speed everywhere except over walls, but flyers also cannot benefit from the defenses of terrain. Cavalry don't really have a pattern. Nomads move differently than cavaliers, cavaliers move differently than paladins, it's pretty crazy. Oh and lords move like infantry except they can go over rivers at very low speed. I repeat, Lords can cross rivers. That is hugely important later on. Know that. And experiment with different unit types on different terrain.

Con does not increase when you level up, only when you promote. Now this one's a bit complicated. Every weapon has a Weight stat. If your currently equipped weapon Weight is > your Con, the difference is taken as a penalty to your speed. This means you might not get 2 attacks vs enemies anymore and your chance of dodging attacks goes down. Avoid that when you can. Additionally, Con affects which allies you can rescue and carry around. For infantry, you can rescue anyone with Con lower than your own. Male cavalry/flyers can rescue anyone with Con lower than 25 - their own Con. Meaning the bigger you are, the less extra weight your horse can carry I suppose. Meanwhile female cavalry/flyers can rescue anyone with Con lower than 20 - their own Con. I'm... not sure why there's a difference between genders there. Do all women ride smaller animals all the time? Is it just for balance reasons so that Florina can't carry people with up to 20 Con even while promoted?


Anyway, every character has a set of growth %s for every stat except Move and Con. Every time the character gains a level, they have that % chance of gaining each stat.


Chapter Story Summary:

Lyn and her entourage make a side trip to a small temple to pray for a safe journey. After rescuing the priest and the Mani Katti- the sacred sword the temple is dedicated to- from some thugs, Lyn is shocked when the legendary sword chooses her to be its new bearer. This... actually has surprisingly little plot importance.



Although this chapter doesn't affect the plot much, it does build up the setting in interesting ways.

See this legendary sword is a subject of purely local religious interest. In most places in Elibe (the world of this game), the religion venerating St. Elimine (One of the 8 legends who saved humankind from the dragons) is pre-eminent. Backwater, primitive Sacae seems to be the only place where this isn't the case. It also seems to be the place with the highest concentration of Shamans (users of dark or 'elder' magic), as evidenced particularly in FE6.

However, even Lyn seems to have only vague, superstitious understandings of dark magic despite being a Sacaean. Then too, Canas is the only dark mage available in the game and he insistently calls what he does "Elder" magic, stressing both that it's older than other forms of magic and that the common name "dark" may not be politically correct.

All of this suggests that dark magic is dying out along with the old religions of Elibe, which it may have some connection to.

And in this game the two greatest and oldest dark mages of all time die, in part due to the actions of Lyn and her companions. There's something of an irony in the sword empowered by the ancient magics helping to sweep aside the greatest practitioners of the ancient magics, thereby speeding along the gradual extinction of the religion in which it was sacred.

I think this fits in with a broader theme in this game that the old must give way to the new and the torch must eventually be passed on to the next generation for there to be growth. Then again perhaps I'm reading too much into it.

Either way, it's something of a problem that this is pretty much the only time we even get hints about the religions of Elibe. This game could do with more information on the various cultures of its world. That FE6 tells us pretty much nothing at all doesn't help.





Heavy stuff aside, look at this idiot! One of my favorite bosses, he out-boasts just about everyone in the whole game while being completely worthless. Uh, don't tell him I said that. I wouldn't want him getting mad at me. No sir, I'm definitely Glass's biggest fan. Hardest boss in the whole game.


The Map:



Looks more complicated than it is. Basically I'm just going to take my time having Sain kill everything again. In this case that will require smashing through that cracked wall of the temple. "It became necessary to destroy the temple to save it." -Major Market

Notice those little houses in the bottom left corner? This map introduces houses, which are basically squares where you can have your characters go to learn extra setting details or get some sometimes useful advice about how to proceed.




A lot of houses, especially in the tutorial, are full of out-of-character talk by metagaming villagers telling you to press the R button and so forth.

Honestly, I don't really like that. It breaks the suspension of disbelief and doesn't really fit with the seriousness of this game. One major problem this game has in general is that it isn't good at conveying the information you need to know to play it. The tutorial is all of Lyn's story, so that's 12 chapters long (alright, 9 because the last 3 don't really have much tutorial to them). And then it sort of continues into Eliwood/Hector's story. On chapter 16 they're still telling you stuff which by that point you've totally known for 10 levels. FE6 just had one optional training level in the game extras, which was too well hidden but was more concise at least.

8 and 9 and most of the later titles just had tutorial sections you could consult in the middle of the map, but those only provided written advice which wasn't as helpful as an actual tutorial level. All in all, I think a compromise should be found. A compromise that doesn't involve villagers telling me to press the R button or stand on mountains to avoid being hit, darn it!



Speaking of mountains, let's talk terrain briefly. Basically terrain in this game has 2 effects. It can boost defense and it can slow movement. I mentioned in The War Room Part 2, that the way terrain affects movement varies class by class in rather complicated ways. General rule: more powerful defensive terrain = slower to move through. Flying units go full speed through everything but walls, but terrain doesn't help them at all. Forests slow most people down moderately, they provide decent bonuses. Mountains slow people down a lot or are impassable, they provide big bonuses. Peaks are impassable for everyone but brigands (and flying units), they provide huge bonuses. Water just sucks though.

You can see the cursor here is on a Fort, which is one of the best common terrain types. It slows movement moderately, but as the lower right hand corner indicates it boosts your functional defense by 2 and your functional avoid by 20 if you stand on it. Not mentioned, it also heals you by 20% of your HP per turn. Good stuff because that healing is free, unlike vulneraries or heal staves, so it's pretty much the only kind of healing I'll be using during all of Lyn's story. Sain will use it to eat every enemy on this level while remaining unharmed.

The Characters:




"Who do you think you are? What chance to you have against me?” –Glass, Chapter 2

The one, the only Glass. His swordplay is peerless! The gods fear his name! He resists magic so well that Luna's effect does nothing to him! He's so strong that he can kill himself in one turn of attacking anyone on your team! He's so scary that the legendary Mani Katti hid in its scabbard at his approach and wouldn't come out! And with his psychic powers he controls not only the characters but the player! I don't think it's coincidence that 3 turns after he threatens to destroy the shrine of the Mani Katti, Sain suddenly tears down one of its walls. Truly, an adversary whose skill has never been equaled.

He kind of comes out of nowhere and there isn't much explanation of who he is other than this arrogant guy who wants to use the Mani Katti and has some minions. Oh well, he's awesome.


Playing Through:




As I mentioned, Sain will wait on the fort for all the nearby enemies. The added defense and healing every turn lets him use his lance with impunity instead of his more expensive but accurate sword.



This one guy doesn't come to you, so you have to tear down the wall and go to him.

Again, I use terrain bonuses from the forest to let Sain get away with cheaply using his lance instead of his sword.




Sain? You and I are going to accomplish wonderful things.




The fight with Glass is borderline un-losable under any circumstances. See how his Vulnerary is green? That means he'll drop it when he dies. Those things are worth 300 gold each, and getting every single one of them available is critical to managing to get 33,000+ gold in assets while using the Knight Crest and Angelic Robe, which is my plan.




Yep, there's that vulnerary.

Victory!




So Lyn rescues the priest and he lets her touch the Mani Katti, which promptly lights up and lets her draw it. It has chosen her as its bearer.

“It is time for you to go, Lyn. You face a great many ordeals. Grip this sword and meet your destiny head-on.” –Priest of the Mani Katti Shrine, Chapter 2

Sain subsequently proves once again that he's actually pretty smart by providing the best explanation to Lyn of what it means for the sword to have chosen her. She's still appropriately awestruck by having been chosen.




And she mentions that she needs to take care of this new amazing sword. I appreciate this kind of realistic detail; the recognition that weapons need to be cared for and maintained, animals need to be fed and can get sick, etc. In my opinion, little details like those popping up here and there really help make this Fire Emblem seem less cartoonish and more gritty and interesting than some of the others.


And Now For Something Completely Different!



One trope common to nearly all FE games is the enemy scheme cutscene. Here the action suddenly zooms 400 miles away to Caelin where Lundgren is informed Lyn survived his first assassination attempt and is now with Sain and Kent. Lundgren decides that that doesn't really matter since she'll surely get killed by bandits living in the lawless border area she has to cross to get to Caelin. And it's revealed that he has now decided to just cut out the middleman and kill his brother with poison in secret rather than wait for the guy to die. Secret is the keyword here, they want it to look like a slow, wasting illness and want to make sure that the Marquess himself doesn't suspect the truth. So the guy will still be around for quite a few more chapters, just increasingly bedridden.

I'm not entirely sure what I think of the whole enemy scheme cutscene as a storytelling device.
On one hand, it makes absolutely no sense. How do we know about this top secret conversation? There's surely a more organic way to reveal this kind of information.
On the other hand, there's probably no better way to elaborate on the personalities of the various villains than to show how they deal with one another and their henchmen. It's that kind of nuance and detail that makes them into people rather than blocks of stats. A lack of this kind of detail hurts FE9 in particular where toward the end of the game you fight something like 6 generals of Daein who have no personality or history or background or anything really.

Also, I want to look like Lundgren when I'm old.

So that's chapter 2. All in all, I think it's one of the low points of the game. Still too simple and too easy with nothing new added gameplay wise and little consequence to the story. The first time I played it it was quite exiting though. Wow! The Mani Katti! Wow, Lyn is going to be its bearer! She must be important! Big things are going to happen to her! But... no. No, Lyn is a fun and interesting side story and a good supporting character, but that's all. She doesn't seem to be destined for anything special in the end, she just moves back home to Sacae or marries Eliwood or something. That's a shame, I think she's one of the better done female protagonists I've seen in a videogame and I wish she could do something of consequence in the end other than marry one of the leading men.

And why did the Mani Katti choose her? It's not like it's specially useful in the seriously big stuff she gets involved in the periphery of. If anything, it seems like it says more about Lyn that one of the Heaven Seals chooses her than that the Mani Katti does. Perhaps the main function of this chapter is to set up for more important weapons choosing their bearers later on?


Things are looking up next chapter though!

Melth fucked around with this message at May 15, 2015 around 02:44

vilkacis
Feb 16, 2011



DID SOMEONE SAY FIRE EMBLEM LET'S PLAY I GOT HERE AS FAST AS I COULD

This is very different from the usual sort of FE thread, but it looks like it could be fun.

Seems a bit risky to just have Sain do everything, though. It's like... That's a nice cavalier you have there, I sure hope he doesn't get ten levels straight of nothing but HP and Luck...

Melth posted:

His swordplay is peerless! The gods fear his name! His resistance is so huge that Luna's effect does nothing to him! He's so strong that he can kill himself in one turn of attacking anyone on your team! He's so scary that the legendary Mani Katti hid in its scabbard at his approach and wouldn't come out!

Glass

I sorta wish they had made GlassFE instead of GhebFE. It might have been more tasteful. At the very least, a more tasteful kind of tasteless.


Anyway, your images got better after the first update, but they are still rather blurry, the size differs between them and some of them seem to have part of the window border on them. Are you hitting printscreen and copy/pasting each image separately? Your emulator should have a function to save screenshots as files. Then you can easily batch resize those using something like irfanview. It's much faster and looks nicer than copying, pasting and cropping everything by hand.

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.


Lyn mode, to me, despite being the very obvious tutorial, also suffers the sin of not really contibuting anything to the overall plot of FE7. And I mean... fair enough they wanted it to still be optional, so a player could start from one of the other protagonists modes. The downside is that it's boring and simple as poo poo. I mean I don't run ranked, I need to find someone who runs ranked so I can balance the ranks for my hack. But this is a mode I'd run ranked for because it's such simple poo poo otherwise.

I go pretty brain dead on Lyn Mode normally, because it's 13 chapters of... essentially, pointless filler specced like it's chapter 1 stretched out. It's just dull, there's not enough interesting going on with the plot to make you go back to play it.

On the other hand? Lyn Mode's probably not the major problem with FE7. I mean it could be fixed, it could stand to be like... 4 chapters long, It could stand to not be such a blatant hand holding tutorial, But the actual game... has a pretty major problem, I'll bring up when the LP gets there.

And yeah, this is a nice take on an FE LP. Because again, I don't play ranked, but I'm interested in seeing it, like seeing a 0% growth run.

Silver Falcon
Dec 5, 2005

Citizen of Zada

Good lord. Your screenshots are horribly blurry and the aspect ratio is way off, even after you "fixed" them. Don't resize to anything other than an integer- 2x should be fine for a GBA game. Just use the emulator's built-in screenshot function (turn resampling off whenever you see it), and re-size in Irfanview. Or, record video and take screenshots from it with Irfanview. Either way will look better than what you have now.

Orange Fluffy Sheep
Jul 26, 2008

Bad EXP received


512x386 is x2 the native resolution of the game boy advance. 543x399 is something that you shouldn't be doing as it's not an integer multiple and thus looks like blurry rear end. Speaking of blurry rear end, GBA games don't have the resolution or color depth for .jpgs. .png is much crisper and a must for a sprite-based game like this.

Examples!





VBA can record itself losslessly if you need a recording. Not like lossless GBA video should be that large anyway.

Artelier
Jan 23, 2015


Liking the format so far, and looking forward to the run itself. I played Hector Hard Mode but I always, always, always get stuck on a certain chapter later on, but I didn't put in the kind of forward thinking thought into my run.

Rigged Death Trap
Feb 13, 2012

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP



Orange Fluffy Sheep posted:

512x386 is x2 the native resolution of the game boy advance. 543x399 is something that you shouldn't be doing as it's not an integer multiple and thus looks like blurry rear end. Speaking of blurry rear end, GBA games don't have the resolution or color depth for .jpgs. .png is much crisper and a must for a sprite-based game like this.

Examples!





VBA can record itself losslessly if you need a recording. Not like lossless GBA video should be that large anyway.

Follow this advice.
As the images are they are quite an eyesore. Also use nearest neighbor resizing, never anything else.


But jesus that's a lot of text.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

Old Vulgrim's got something neeeew for you~


Orange Fluffy Sheep posted:

512x386 is x2 the native resolution of the game boy advance. 543x399 is something that you shouldn't be doing as it's not an integer multiple and thus looks like blurry rear end. Speaking of blurry rear end, GBA games don't have the resolution or color depth for .jpgs. .png is much crisper and a must for a sprite-based game like this.

Examples!





VBA can record itself losslessly if you need a recording. Not like lossless GBA video should be that large anyway.

480x320 is 2x GBA. 512x384 is 2x DS. And yes, please for the love of god use 2x pngs, those images look awful.

Technical issues aside though, you clearly know your poo poo and I don't think we've had anyone do a ranked/0%/other "gimmick" playthrough on SA yet so this should be pretty interesting. My only worry is that there isn't really a whole lot to say, especially once you get further in the game - always be using your cavs and fliers, don't use expensive items/weapons, and funnel all of your experience into an extremely small core group. Still, FE7's map design is solid enough that there should be things to say about each map so hey, more power to you.

Orange Fluffy Sheep
Jul 26, 2008

Bad EXP received


Artix posted:

480x320 is 2x GBA. 512x384 is 2x DS. And yes, please for the love of god use 2x pngs, those images look awful.

Oh, poo poo, I got my screens wrong.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Thanks for the tips everyone, I'll try to use them when I post the next chapter later today.


Onmi posted:

Lyn mode, to me, despite being the very obvious tutorial, also suffers the sin of not really contibuting anything to the overall plot of FE7. And I mean... fair enough they wanted it to still be optional, so a player could start from one of the other protagonists modes. The downside is that it's boring and simple as poo poo. I mean I don't run ranked, I need to find someone who runs ranked so I can balance the ranks for my hack. But this is a mode I'd run ranked for because it's such simple poo poo otherwise.

I go pretty brain dead on Lyn Mode normally, because it's 13 chapters of... essentially, pointless filler specced like it's chapter 1 stretched out. It's just dull, there's not enough interesting going on with the plot to make you go back to play it.

On the other hand? Lyn Mode's probably not the major problem with FE7. I mean it could be fixed, it could stand to be like... 4 chapters long, It could stand to not be such a blatant hand holding tutorial, But the actual game... has a pretty major problem, I'll bring up when the LP gets there.

And yeah, this is a nice take on an FE LP. Because again, I don't play ranked, but I'm interested in seeing it, like seeing a 0% growth run.


I can understand your perspective here and I agree with you on some points, but I actually consider Lyn's story to be very good overall. One of the things I like about it is in fact how self-contained it is. There is foreshadowing of events to come (Ninian and Nils being chased by the Black Fang, internal dissension in Lycia, etc.), but Lyn's story has its own beginning, middle, and end- with its own mini-epilogue for the characters involved.

I think I might actually be interested in an FE game telling several of these sorts of mini-stories about different characters in different parts of the world having their own struggles and adventures. For one thing, they take the time to richly develop a few characters and their relationships in Lyn's story, rather than giving a tiny bit of development each to numerous characters in the longer FEs. For another, the plot and writing is tighter with fewer filler levels. Even the Mani Katti level which has ultimately no bearing on the plot of Eliwood/Hector's story is significant within Lyn's story.

True, Lyn's story is boringly easy even if one is trying to max rank it, but I find the story and characters and music and art good enough that 12 years after I got this game I don't mind playing through Lyn's story again now and then.

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me


I'm very interested in seeing this play out. I always play for fun and never for ranks, so seeing all the thought that has to go into little details is really interesting.

Nihilarian
Oct 2, 2013




Melth posted:

No one you fight in FE7 is a faceless mook, Batta is as close to that as the game gets.
Are you just talking about bosses? Because I remember mowing down a ton of faceless mooks.

The Shame Boy
Jan 27, 2014

Planes,Trains,and BOTES!


I can't wait to see more from this! I can't really wrap my head around how the game wants you to play to get 5 stars in everything normally

"okay we need you to save the world and do it fast, but not to fast because we also need you to fight enough to give lots of people experience. Oh we're also on a budget so could you just use Iron and Slim weapons? thanks"

Tracula
Mar 26, 2010

PLEASE LEAVE


Looks like your Lyn is already tankier than the one from a previous LP done here I forgot exactly what it was but didn't she get 2-3 DEF ups in all of her levels? I know there was some insanely low percent chance of that happening and it was hilarious to see it broken down each time.

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.


Melth posted:

Thanks for the tips everyone, I'll try to use them when I post the next chapter later today.



I can understand your perspective here and I agree with you on some points, but I actually consider Lyn's story to be very good overall. One of the things I like about it is in fact how self-contained it is. There is foreshadowing of events to come (Ninian and Nils being chased by the Black Fang, internal dissension in Lycia, etc.), but Lyn's story has its own beginning, middle, and end- with its own mini-epilogue for the characters involved.

I think I might actually be interested in an FE game telling several of these sorts of mini-stories about different characters in different parts of the world having their own struggles and adventures. For one thing, they take the time to richly develop a few characters and their relationships in Lyn's story, rather than giving a tiny bit of development each to numerous characters in the longer FEs. For another, the plot and writing is tighter with fewer filler levels. Even the Mani Katti level which has ultimately no bearing on the plot of Eliwood/Hector's story is significant within Lyn's story.

True, Lyn's story is boringly easy even if one is trying to max rank it, but I find the story and characters and music and art good enough that 12 years after I got this game I don't mind playing through Lyn's story again now and then.

I would disagree (but of course I would) because I don't actually feel the story holds up very stongly, while there are some moments where the mode comes alive with personality, and it is self-contained (and like I said, it's self-contained for a purpose) While yes, the Christmas Knights, Lyn and Florina get a lot of personality, the others really are just units for the most part, with very little to them.

I still think it's too much and very dull, but I can appreciate someone who appreciates it. I just personally would use the time to tie better into the plot of the game, But like I said. FE7's big plot failure comes later on in the main story modes, Lyn mode is just a contested tutorial really, On the one hand? it's thorough, and if it was your first FE game, I'm sure it taught you everything you needed to know and has some personality to it. On the other hand if it wasn't, it had a good chance of just alienating you.

Also Back to your opening post, I dislike the Tactician. And my problem isn't that he isn't a playable character because I hate Awakening and FE12's My Unit's. I just dislike the self-insert character in Fire Emblem, I always have.


Tracula posted:

Looks like your Lyn is already tankier than the one from a previous LP done here I forgot exactly what it was but didn't she get 2-3 DEF ups in all of her levels? I know there was some insanely low percent chance of that happening and it was hilarious to see it broken down each time.

On Hector Hard Mode Artix got Lyn to Level 16 or 17 Promoted without proccing a single point in defense. The dream died on the final Kishuna Gaiden.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!




Alright, now things start to really get underway. I'll have a real party beginning this level. Furthermore, the addition of Florina means I'll finally have all the people I plan on training.


The War Room, Part 3

And speaking of new characters, there's now enough weapon variation in the party that it's worth talking about how weapons work.

Last time I told you a bit about the basic stats every character has, including how they affect your chance to hit and dodge and how much damage you take. However, I wasn't telling you about how weapon stats affect any of those things, so the picture was incomplete.

First of all, there are 8 categories of weapons in this game: Swords, Lances, Axes, Bows, Light Magic, Anima Magic, Dark Magic, and Staves.

Every character has a weapon mastery rank from E to S with some of these categories and is completely incapable of using the others. Which categories you can use is determined entirely by your class. For example, Mercenaries are only capable of using swords. But Mercenaries can be promoted into Heroes, who gain the ability to use Axes and get a starting weapon mastery level of E with axes.

Your weapon mastery level improves as you use weapons of that category and determines which weapons of that category you are allowed to use. With an E you can generally use only the most basic weapons of that category. With an S you can use every weapon of that category. That is all weapon mastery rank does, except that S rank grants a small (5%) bonus to hit and crit chances with those weapons.

Other that they also have mastery ranks, staves don't function like the other weapons at all: you can't fight with them, they don't have any of the normal weapon stats, etc. So I'm not going to talk much about staves here. In fact, from now on when I say "weapons", I'm actually going to mean "Everything except staves"

Weapons all have certain stats: a mastery rank requirement, range, weight, might, hit, crit, and durability.

For example, here are the stats on Lyn's excellent Mani Katti:




Sword Prf- this means the Mani Katti is a sword, so you need a weapon mastery level of Prf in swords to wield it. Prf means the weapon is unique to a certain character, in this case Lyn. No one else may use the Mani Katti under any circumstances, but Lyn can use it regardless of her weapon mastery level.
Rng 1- The Mani Katti has range 1, meaning it can hit targets one square away (right next to you, but not diagonal). This also means that if an enemy attacks you from right next to you and Lyn has the Mani Katti equipped, she can counterattack with it. However if an enemy attacks her from any other range, she cannot counterattack. Most weapons have a range of 1, bows have a range of 2 (And ONLY 2, so a bow cannot be used against people next to you), and most magic has a range of 1-2. This means magic can be used to fight enemies both near and far and to counterattack virtually everyone. That makes it very powerful. There are also a select few weapons with 1-2 range (like handaxes and javelins) which I'll talk about in the future.
Wt 3- The Mani Katti has a very low Weight of 3. Remember I talked about a character's Con stat last time? If the Wt of your equipped weapon is greater than your Con, then you take a penalty to your effective speed equal to the difference. Bear in mind that ONLY your equipped weapon weighs you down. Currently Lyn has her Iron Sword equipped, so it doesn't matter what the Mani Katti weighs at the moment. Lyn's Con is 5 so the Mani Katti is no problem for her anyway.
Mt 8- The Mani Katti has a rather good Might of 8. Your weapon's Might + your Strength - the enemy Defense is your damage (with a few other modifiers sometimes).
Hit 80- The Mani Katti's accuracy is actually pretty bad for a sword. This number + 2x your Skill and 1/2 your Luck is your basic chance to hit. You'll notice that the 80 from the Mani Katti dwarfs the total of 20 or so Lyn gets from her Skill and Luck. It is for this reason that Skill is not a terribly important stat in general: most weapon accuracies are so high that you're not going to miss.
Crit 20- The Mani Katti grants a VERY high bonus of 20 to Lyn's % chance of getting a critical hit. Most weapons just have 0 here
Effective against Infantry- Actually this description is totally wrong; the Mani Katti is normal against most infantry but effective against cavalry and knights. What this means is that when used against cavalry and knights, the Mani Katti's already considerable Might is doubled. This is a significant bonus, but it's not as high as the usual tripling in most Fire Emblems.
45/45- Shown on the inventory page above, this is the Mani Katti's durability. Out of its maximum durability of 45, it is still at full strength. If the Mani Katti hits an enemy 45 times, it will break and cease to exist. In the case of magic attacks, missing also uses up durability.
Now relatedly, every weapon in the game has a price to it. For an Iron Sword it's 460. And a fresh iron sword you own is worth that 460. But the current worth of your equipment depends on how worn out it is. For example, an Iron Sword that only has half of its durability left is only worth 230. So using any weapon effectively has a cost per use that depends on how much durability that weapon has and its base price. The Mani Katti actually has a worth of 0 though so using it is free. This means I'll be using it a lot in this run to save money.

Oh and there are some general patterns to the stats of various weapon categories which I'll outline below for your benefit:

Weight: Anima Magic < Bows < Swords < Light Magic < Dark Magic = Lances < Axes
Might: Light Magic < Anima Magic = Swords < Bows < Dark Magic = Lances < Axes
Hit: Axes < Lances = Dark Magic < Bows < Swords = Anima Magic < Light Magic
Cost per Use: Axes < Lances < Swords < Bows < Anima Magic < Light Magic < Dark Magic

Chapter Story Summary

To get from the shrine of the Mani Katti to the realm of Lycia requires traveling through the lawless border between the kingdom of Bern and Sacae. Lyn's old friend Florina heard that Lyn had left home and came looking for her. The two are reunited when Lyn finds Florina being accosted by some bandits/slave traders. Along with Wil, a traveler passing through the area, they slay the bandits and continue toward Lycia together. However, the comrades of the bandits they killed chase after them, bent on revenge.




Seeing the wreckage of a village destroyed by local bandits, Lyn tells Sain and Kent what happened to her home. This is another moment where the melancholy soundtrack really does a good job of setting the atmosphere of the game.




Lyn finds Florina and comes to her aid. Because Florina could sell for quite a lot of money and her pegasus for even more, Migal and his henchmen are determined to fight to recapture her. That henchman of Migal doesn't even get a name, but they gave him a unique portrait. Most other games in this series don't put that much effort into their art.


The Map:




Now here's a map with several features worth talking about. This level introduces Villages (the red-roofed houses on the left). Brown-roofed villages just function like houses; the people give you some setting lore or advice but nothing more important. Red-roofed villages give you treasure or even new characters. If an enemy brigand reaches a village, it's destroyed forever; so you need to get to them in short order.

In this case, Wil joins the party if you visit the nearby village and the one in the upper left gives you 2000 gold with which to buy more weapons to drive out the bandits. Sweet!

You can see Migal the boss standing back in the top right corner, much too important to move or in any way help his forces.

And you'll notice a convenient chokepoint at which Sain can hold off most of Migal's minions with the protective bonuses of the forest.

Lastly, that building in the bottom right is an armory. If you have a character visit one of those, you can buy new weapons. Which weapons are available varies chapter by chapter and there is no way to resupply without going to armories, so you'd better do your shopping while you can. I consider this system to be one of the best ones in any FE really. Later titles pretty much let you buy whatever you wanted whenever you wanted, which took away the challenge of needing to manage your supplies and make sure no one ran out of usable weaponry.

The Characters:




“I would be honored to count myself one of Lyndis’s Legion!” -Wil, Chapter 3

Wil is a young man from the distant city-state of Pherae in Lycia. He and his friend Dan left home (to the annoyance of Wil's childhood sweetheart Rebecca) in search of adventure. Things went wrong and the two parted ways. Now Wil is far from home, penniless, and surrounded by bandits. So he joins Lyn's group.

Wil is a fairly bland character, a commoner with an adventurous streak but little else to say about him. His supports with Dart are useful for discovering the truth of the latter's past, but other than that he's not terribly important and there isn't much to learn about him. Not one of my favorites.

Mechanically, he's borderline unusable in a run like this. Archers are an absolutely horrible class, almost certainly the worst in the game. This is because Bows are incapable of attacking enemies in melee range and nearly all enemies use melee weapons. The result is that your archers can't defend themselves, which means they can't counterattack, which means they're garbage for getting rid of the hordes of enemies you must wade through. Meanwhile, Mages and Monks and Shamans or people wielding Javelins and Handaxes are much more effective at dishing out ranged damage. And Archers aren't even the best bow users because Nomads are the same but more mobile and eventually capable of using swords too.

Wil's stats are nothing special either, just decent across the board. This means his defenses come out pretty solid overall, but since he can't counterattack you never want him on the front lines.




"It’s just… I’ve always dreamt of being a pegasus knight. I imagined I would just…work it out. Somehow” -Florina, Chapter 3

Florina is a young pegasus rider training to become a mercenary like her sisters. She and Lyn are old friends and Lyn has helped her a great deal. Florina wants to be as strong and confident as Lyn and to repay all the help her friend has given her over the years. But she's timid, lacks self-confidence, and has a petrifying fear of talking to men (But not slaughtering them by the dozen) for reasons never really explained. Possibly it's because in her homeland of Ilia men are generally marginalized and she was raised by pegasus riders (who are all women), so she just has no experience dealing with males.
Since she's an unmarried woman, Sain immediately starts wooing her. She of course is terrified of him.

Her wimpiness, bouts of self-pity, and misandry annoy me and there isn't much else to her personality, so I don't much like her.

However, Florina is a tremendously useful unit. As a pegasus rider she can fly, passing over difficult (or impassable) terrain at tremendous speed. This lets her quickly get to objectives like distant villages that no one else can reach and move around the battlefield nimbly. She can wield lances, which are one of the better weapon types overall, and benefits from massive speed and luck and resistance coupled with solid strength and skill. However, her HP and defense are lacking and bow users deal huge, super-effective damage against her, so she must be used carefully. Furthermore, her terrible Con means that she takes a hefty penalty to her speed at all times. Still, she has enough that this rarely matters.

There are better flyers in the game, but Florina is available the earliest by far, so there's just no way to not use her on a run where speed matters.




“We’re not listening to any of your stinking apologies!” -Migal, Chapter 3

A slave trader and member of the Ganelon bandits. It's not entirely clear who or what Ganelon is, but it is a safe bet that Ganelon is the mountainous area where this infamous group makes their home because we know that the Taliver bandits take their name from Mount Taliver. After Florina stupidly lands her pegasus on one of Migal's friends, he captures her.

Either he was pretty high up in their organization or the Ganelon bandits are really, really close-knit, since they really throw everything they have at you to avenge his death.

Playing Through:




The first thing to do is trade Kent's lance away to Florina. Slim lances are both weak and expensive. Not only does a Slim lance cost more per attack than an Iron Lance, but she'll need more attacks to kill the enemy. Florina starts off pretty weak, but she can still waste most enemies with swords in two hits when given an iron lance.




Florina flies over the wall to visit the village and collect their money, then moves to fight the nearby enemy Mercenaries (sword users) on future turns)




Lyn walks to the other village and recruits Wil, to the tune of Together We Ride. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6UOa22akeY
I never get tired of that.




And Sain moves to slaughter the nearby archer before continuing on into the chokepoint next turn. You'll notice that I have him attack from the bottom rather than the right of the archer. If I attacked from the right, the other enemy archer would be able to shoot him over the wall. Lyn's story is easy so that doesn't really matter now, but in HHM you don't ever want to give enemies free hits, so thinking about positioning is important.




Sain seizes the chokepoint in the forest here. Because Sain is in the woods, he gets some hefty defensive bonuses.

With those, he'll win eventually even though he's using a lance against mainly axe users. Of course, he'll miss a lot so it will take a while. Because I'm not trying to go fast on this chapter, I'm quite content to let him sit there and kill them one by one.




Ding! My Sain has had EXCELLENT luck with his speed, though some of his other stats are a bit behind. Speed is most important now though so I don't care.




Florina killed the mercenaries in the top left and Kent bought a new lance at the armory. Now it's time to move in and take Migal down.




Holy cow! His Skill may be terrible, but this is one of the best Sains I've ever seen. Just look at that blazing speed! And that defense!




That concludes the level. Florin and Wil are formally inducted into the greatest fighting force on the continent. I love Kent facepalming while Sain flirts and Florina hides.

And that's the level. Next Issue: Sain Kills the Ganelon Universe.

Melth fucked around with this message at May 21, 2015 around 09:59

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Nihilarian posted:

Are you just talking about bosses? Because I remember mowing down a ton of faceless mooks.

Yes, that's true in a literal sense - you don't get a portrait for most of the people you fight. Though as I mentioned in the last chapter, there are a surprising number of unique portraits for totally unimportant guys. What I meant is more that the enemies always have a motive and typically you also know something about who they are as people and their modus operandi. Batta is the closest there is to an exception there probably: we don't know what he wants at all. He could just have been out for a stroll when Lyn picks a fight with him.

In, say, Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones we really have no idea what the monsters want. They're just... evil. So you fight them. What does the Demon King even want? Does he want to rule over humanity? Exterminate humanity? Just troll people like Lyon by promising them their heart's desire and then not giving them it? We don't know, really.

Or in Awakening. What the hell is Grima's motive? Even more inexplicably, what do his followers get from following him? All he seems to do is murder them and eat their souls and give them nothing in return. They're just the bad guys and you have to fight them.

In Advance Wars 1 and 2 (especially 1) we have no idea who this Sturm person is and why he's attacking. We don't even really know whether the Black Hole army are humans or aliens or what. Their COs totally look like humans but then their footsoldiers appear to be aliens in fishtanks.

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.


Holy crap the Sain is amazing. I mean... typically the 'Red' Cavalier is (Though FE7 and 8 reversed the dynamics) just because they'll usually just have the skill deficiancy. And Secret books exist (Though for a Ranked Run I guess you wont be using them, same as not using Dart or promoting an assassin because those items cost a pretty penny)

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Onmi posted:

Holy crap the Sain is amazing. I mean... typically the 'Red' Cavalier is (Though FE7 and 8 reversed the dynamics) just because they'll usually just have the skill deficiancy. And Secret books exist (Though for a Ranked Run I guess you wont be using them, same as not using Dart or promoting an assassin because those items cost a pretty penny)

You haven't seen anything yet. EVERYONE got good levels on the next chapter. And this is turning into the best Sain I've ever seen in 12 years playing this game.

I actually plan to take Dart to level 20 unpromoted in this run probably. Axe users like him really have a lot of easy kills to harvest in Hector mode so Dart is good for your XP score. Plus he's Fire Emblem Jesus and can walk on water. This plus his decent Con lets him function as a poor man's air unit in some circumstances.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!




I'm really not sure where this chapter got its title. I mean, the setting of it is the lawless border of Bern. It's not like this is territory being occupied by another country. I guess the local bandits could sort of be said to be occupying it?

Although the level ups in the next chapter may seem unbelievably lucky, I did not in fact sell my soul to Mephistopheles for good fortune. As proof I point out that Sain and Lyn were hit by pretty much every enemy. Lyn was hit by Dorcas with a handaxe for goodness sake! And Sain got clobbered by brigands while standing on a forest wielding an iron sword. Again and again. By the end of the chapter, they were both at 2-3 HP and I was sure I was going to have to restart and lose all the beautiful levels I'd gained. Fortunately, that didn't happen.


The War Room, Part 4

Previously, I talked about the way weapon stats and character stats function individually. Let's put the pieces together and look at how combat actually works:

Your character's accuracy is: Weapon Hit + (2 x Skill) + (1/2 x Luck) + Weapon Triangle Bonus/Penalty + S Rank Bonus + Support Bonus + Tactician Bonus


I haven't previously talked about the Weapon Triangle so let me sum that up now. Basically, there's a rock-paper-scissors arrangement among the weapons in this game. Lances > Swords > Axes > Lances. There is another rock-paper-scissors for magic: Dark > Anima > Light > Dark. If your weapon is at an advantage vs the defender, you get +15 to your accuracy and +1 to your damage. If your weapon is at a disadvantage you take a penalty of 15 to hit and 1 to damage. These are significant bonuses, but not overwhelming.

Bows and Staves are not affected by the weapon triangle in any way. Likewise there are no bonuses or penalties for using magic vs weapons or vice versa.

Straightforward, right? The one complication is that there are a handful of weapons that reverse the weapon triangle and double its effects. The Lancereaver is a sword which is > lances but < axes, for example. These XReaver weapons have quite powerful stats in general, but they're rare and expensive so I won't use them much if at all.

As I alluded to in the War Room Part 3, the S rank bonus is a +5 bonus to your accuracy if you have an S level mastery with your current weapon.

Support bonuses are not relevant yet, I'll tell you more about them later.

As I mentioned briefly in the prologue part of this LP, the tactician also grants a minor bonus to accuracy and avoid for any character who has the same affinity as him/her. In my case, that's units with the Thunder affinity.


So that's the accuracy formula, now what about the enemy chance to avoid an attack?

Dodge rate = (2x Speed) + Luck + Terrain Bonus + Support Bonus + Tactician bonus.

Note that your functional speed may be decreased if your weapon Weight is > your Con.


So when you attack an enemy, you have a % chance to hit = your accuracy - the enemy's dodge rate, right? Not quite! Let's imagine your accuracy was 100 and the enemy's dodge was 20. The game would tell you that you have an 80% chance to hit, but this would be a lie. You see, the game rolls 2 100 sided dice and averages them to decide whether you hit or not. For example, it might end up with results of 87 and 39. Averaged, that makes 63. 63 is less than or equal to 80, so in this case the attacker would hit. If you know anything about probability though, you'll notice that the chance of getting a result which is approximately close to 50 is higher when rolling 2 dice and averaging them than when just rolling 1 die. This means that if your displayed hit chance is something above 50, you have a higher than displayed real chance to hit. If your displayed chance is something under 50, you have a lower than displayed real chance to hit. This rarely matters, but it's good to know. The following page calculates the true odds to hit for every displayed chance: http://old.serenesforest.net/general/truehit.html


Right. Now let's assume you hit. How much damage do you do?

Damage inflicted = Critical coefficient x {Strength + [Supereffective coefficient x (Weapon Might + Weapon Triangle Bonus)] + Support Bonus - Defense - Terrain bonus - enemy support bonus}.

Looks complicated but it's pretty simple in reality. Basically you deal damage equal to your Strength + your weapon Might - their defense.

If they have good terrain you'll do less. If they have support bonuses you'll do less, if you have support bonuses then you'll do more. If you have a super-effective weapon, then your weapon's might (plus the weapon triangle bonus or penalty of 1) is doubled.

If you're using magic, just subtract the enemy's Resistance instead of defense.

And if you get a critical hit, the damage they would have taken is multiplied by 3. This means crits only really hurt if you're already capable of doing serious damage.


What's your chance of getting a critical hit?

It's = Weapon Critical Bonus + (1/2 x Skill) + Support Bonus + S Rank bonus - Enemy Luck - Enemy Support Bonus - Enemy Tactician bonus

So basically it's 1/2 skill + weapon crit rate - enemy luck.

The Swordmaster and Berserker classes get a bonus of 15 to their crit rates.


The last important thing to know about is who, if anyone, gets a second attack. If one person's functional speed (Speed - any penalty for excessive weapon weight) is greater than the other by 4 or more, then the faster person gets a second attack.

And just as a quick reminder, remember that the order of attacks is as follows:

1) Person on offense
2) Person on defense
3) Faster person, if any

If one person has a Brave Weapon, then they get 2 attacks any time they would get 1.


Chapter Story Summary:

Continuing the long trip toward Lycia, Lyn and company stop for the night at a ruined fortress. They find a woman named Natalie there looking for her husband, Dorcas. As twilight falls, the Ganelon bandits catch up to Lyn's group and attack them, seeking vengeance for the death of Migal.




Here's one of the first good pictures of the map of the continent. You can see that Lyn has come around a long east-west mountain range and is now walking back west along it toward Lycia.

Also let me say that I appreciate that bandits are people with motivations like vengeance for fallen comrades as well as just greed in this game.




Look at that cool picture of the moldering old fortress. There's a nice little tune named Silent Grounds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8AAyScdrF8 that plays during this sequence.




And inside the fort they find a woman named Natalie preparing to spend the night there as she looks for her husband. Also I like that picture of the inside of the fort as twilight falls outside.
AND THEN BANDITS ATTACKED!


The Map:




Objective: Keep Natalie (the green unit in the top middle) alive for 7 turns.
Secondary Objective: Recruit Dorcas (an enemy on the right side. If Lyn talks to him and explains that his wife is here in the fortress, he'll switch sides.
Secondary Objective: KILL 'EM ALL

This is the first chapter where you don't really need to kill every enemy to win, just hold them off for a while. But you get valuable XP (and honor and glory) if you rush out and slaughter them all. And there are a LOT of them.

Killing every enemy is complicated somewhat by the fact that two of them start off far away on the west side of the fort, slowly trying to break down the cracked wall to make a 3rd entrance.

Additionally, this is the first chapter where enemy reinforcements join the battle in the middle, so if you want to kill every single enemy, then you'll need to station people near each spawn point.


The Characters




Natalie is Dorcas's wife. She was crippled by a childhood illness (I love that this is the kind of universe where it's acknowledged that a lot of people had serious health problems that you couldn't do much about back in the bad old days). She'll never join the party and in fact is home in Bern for the rest of the story as Dorcas goes out and adventures with you, but you learn a lot about her from their supports and she's decently well fleshed out in this chapter alone.




“It would break Natalie’s sweet heart to see me sink so low.” –Dorcas, Chapter 4

Natalie's devoted husband, he's secretly joined the Ganelon bandits in order to make some money to pay for treatment for her injury. He's a gentle person though and is ashamed to have joined up with such bad company. Dorcas, in contrast to Bartre who will be introduced later, is calm and stoic and quiet. Serene even. He cares nothing for fame and fortune, wanting only to make enough money to pay for medical care for his wife and then return home to live quietly with her.
You pretty much can't not like Dorcas; he's just a decent everyday sort of person. Still, he's not terribly interesting.

He's our first axe user. Generally speaking axes are a very bad early game weapon because of their low accuracy and very good late game weapons because of their huge damage. Dorcas, however, is pretty good at the beginning of the story but is terrible later on. His speed growth is just atrocious and his defense is bad too. So he can't be safely put on the front lines. And massive strength isn't that great when you can't actually double-attack enemies.

All in all, he's pretty much terrible any way you look at him. Still, he'll have his uses early on in Hector's story where he's the only infantryman capable of carrying Hector and his surprisingly decent starting stats will serve him well.




“We’ll avenge Migal and get some pretty souvenirs to boot.” –Carjiga, Chapter 4

Clark Kent just wishes he had a chin that strong. The first optional boss of the game, you can just ignore Carjiga and you'll still win. But where's the fun in that?
Besides wanting plunder (or, you know, slaves in this case) and revenge for Migal, he also is interested in gaining street cred among the Ganelon bandits by being the one who beats Lyn. This causes him to order a glorious and reckless charge on your fortified position instead of a safer but lame sneak attack when night falls properly.





Since Sain had gained a ton of defense, I felt reasonably comfortable charging him into the huge crowd of brigands south of the fort alone. Sain can't quite reach the nearby forest on this chapter, but he needs to loop around to the west side of the fort to aggro the enemies there anyway. Things didn't go quite as planned since Sain got walloped by more brigands than expected. Each had about 60% displayed odds to hit him and almost every one of them did, so he was immediately brought down to dangerously low HP

But look at that amazing level! Good heavens, I hope he doesn't die and force me to restart after a level like that.



Meanwhile, at the eastern door of the fortress, everyone other than Sain is hiding out where the enemies won't attack them while Lyn recruits Dorcas to our cause. Recruiting the enemy characters without killing them or them killing you can sometimes be a bit tricky, but Dorcas is an easy one.




Carjiga calls for more men, triggering the reinforcements that spawn for the rest of the map. The game doesn't always give you a nice warning like that, but (unlike FE6 and Awakening) the enemies generally do not get to move on the same turn they appear, so you always have time to react and change your strategy.




Sain is badly injured. Almost as dangerously, his iron lance is about to break because I've been using him so much. If it breaks, he'll have to switch to his iron sword. Which is better for this purpose but more expensive. I value money more than his life.
As you may recall, I bought an iron lance for Kent last level to replace the one he passed to Florina. Sain needs it now though, so I'll have Kent trade it to him.

Trading seems really simple at first, but cleverly exploiting it is actually key to a LOT of expert strategies. I'll just illustrate one basic use of it here.

In this picture I've brought Kent close to Sain, but I want to keep him out of enemy range so he doesn't aggro any of them himself.




Kent moves in and I trade.




Now this is important: because Kent is a mounted unit, he can continue moving after trading or rescuing someone. In this case, this lets him immediately scramble back out of the enemy attack range. So Sain gets his new weapon and no enemies are diverted to attack the wrong target. However, I'll probably need to use Sain's iron sword at least a little bit to keep him alive for the rest of this level since he's so injured. Oh well.




You may have noticed that Florina was offscreen in that picture. She's up in the top left corner, killing the mercenaries who spawn there. With her iron lance, she can kill them in 2 hits and they barely scratch her. This is some of the best training available for Florina right here.
And that level up looks kind of meh at first glance, but Florina really does need more speed at this point to overcome her weapon weight penalty, so it's alright.




Lyn cuts down an archer and moves in to kill Carjiga. Unfortunately, she got hurt by Dorcas and the archer, so she's one hit from death. Fortunately, Carjiga has a forest next to him so she SHOULD be fine.
Not a good level up, but I don't care since Lyn isn't an important character for me. I just need to get her to high level to unlocked Linus's version of Four-Fanged Offense; it doesn't matter if she's actually GOOD or not when she gets there.




Florina shows Lyn how it's done. Fantastic. The most important stats for her to gain at this time are probably Strength, Defense, and Speed in that order.




Now that she had an example of a good level up to look at, Lyn understands what she has to do as she strikes down Carjiga.




And that's a wrap! Every single enemy is dead as the map ends, even the reinforcements who pop up on the last turn. So... who is this guy and who does he think he's talking to? Such minor issues aside, I do want to point out that if Carjiga is still alive, then there's different end of level dialogue. Most of these survival levels end differently depending on how many enemies are left or whether you killed the boss or not.

The next chapter is a bit less interesting than this one, but it's good training.

Melth fucked around with this message at May 21, 2015 around 10:14

Smiling Knight
May 31, 2011



Definitely interested in this. I've tried to get good ranks on HHM before, but always seem to end up tanking either the experience or the speed one around late game.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Smiling Knight posted:

Definitely interested in this. I've tried to get good ranks on HHM before, but always seem to end up tanking either the experience or the speed one around late game.

Aye, it's quite annoying when your run falls apart at the very end and it happened to me on my first try. Fortunately, the number of turns you need to complete each chapter is known so you can make sure you stay ahead of the requirements as you go along. XP is harder to keep track of. The key is just to work on it all game: keep cycling in every usable, low-level unit you can and take loads of people to level 20 unpromoted. Don't overload your team with too many of your high level promoted characters at once either and try to make sure no one ends up at level 20/level 20 before the very end of the game.

Still, having made it nearly to the end with max ranks is something to be proud of. Congratulations, sir or ma'am or whatever the appropriate appellation is for a porpoise.

RBA Starblade
Apr 27, 2008

Going Home.


I remember beating Hector mode (but forget if I ever got around to Hector Hard mode) and looking at the ranks at the end and wondering what they actually were influenced by in some cases. This is one of my favorite GBA games so it's nice to see some of the more in-depth stuff I never figured out explained!

e: Also I've pretty much always had one star in speed/turns taken. Gotta get those supports!

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me


RBA Starblade posted:

e: Also I've pretty much always had one star in speed/turns taken. Gotta get those supports!

This is what always got me. Max stars in everything but turn counts.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!




This chapter is probably my least favorite one of Lyn's story. It's too easy and there's too little going on. In my opinion, this level and the prologue should have been cut from the story entirely since they don't really advance it and aren't really interesting. While this chapter does have some fun shenanigans courtesy of Erk and Serra, those would have been just as fun if the pair of them had been introduced last level or if they were added next level or whenever.


The War Room, Part 5

I've outlined most of the basic mechanics of the game, and talked a bit about grand strategy, so I'll talk basic tactics for a moment here.




You know what's better than high defenses? Being impossible to attack at all. The enemy understands that very well and it will make a strong effort to, say, have archers attack people with melee weapons and have mages attack your archers up close and your people with melee weapons at range.

Sometimes you can use this to your advantage. Let's imagine you're using both Sain and Kent for example, both are at full health, and you have an enemy mage to deal with who you can't kill this turn (because Sain and Kent each killed someone else for example). You want Sain to be at full HP next turn so he can charge into a crowd of distant enemies safely while Kent remains behind. So what weapons do you have them equip?
Have Kent equip an iron lance and Sain equip a javelin. The enemy mage knows that Sain can now counterattack him no matter what, but Kent cannot counterattack if the mage attacks him at long range. So the mage will take its 'free' hit on Kent and leave Sain alone. Now it's your turn, so Kent can kill the mage (or just equip a javelin and move to good terrain so the mage will be hurt if it goes for him again) while Sain rides off to deal with your other objective.

Other times, you just want the enemy dead and you don't much care who they attack. In that case, you need to make sure that everyone in range of the mage (both Sain and Kent in this case) have a javelin equipped so that the mage will take damage or die no matter what it does.

If you can kill not only the enemies with melee weapons, but ALL the enemies in the area with your counterattacks, you can beat the levels much faster and much more safely. So use lots of people who can attack at range 1-2. And avoid people who can only attack at range 2, like archers.


Chapter Story Summary:

Lyn and company flee the Ganelon bandits and rush for the border with Lycia. However, their pursuers manage to make one last, desperate attempt to kill them. A pair of magically skilled travelers (Erk and Serra) join the company.




Look at that pretty background!




Meanwhile, Erk and Serra are not getting along. Those two are possibly more entertaining than Kent and Sain. We've all felt like Erk before too.

AND THEN BANDITS ATTACKED!

Whoa, deja vu. I almost feel like I've been fighting bandits for 6 chapters now and it finally got old.


The Map:




A small, straightforward map. Once again, the boss is a worthless brigand pouting in the corner. There's another armory here. You'll note it only takes up 1 square instead of 6 or so for the one on Chapter 3. This is the typical style, that one was the unusual one.

Remember how Natalie was a green unit? Now so are Serra and Erk to start with. Green units are your allies. Many of them are totally useless, but a few are like Erk: worse than totally useless. If you don't talk to Erk and turn him blue, he'll run around attacking enemies. And he'll either get himself killed stupidly or actually kill some of them. The problem in the latter case is that he gets no XP for it. So XP is just wasted forever if you don't talk to him pronto. This will be a major game mechanic on some later chapters.


The Characters:




Erk is a polite, uptight young man with no patience for nonsense and stupidity. He shows a great deal of loyalty to his employers, whether he likes them or not, and demonstrates a fair amount of creativity and initiative as well as basic competence as he goes about his often dangerous jobs. In short, the man is all business, but he's good at it.
I would like to see more of Erk, but regrettably Serra has a tendency to hog all his screen time.

Erk is your first Mage and, though I don't use him often myself, I will admit that he is actually a darned good unit. Being a magic user of any kind is excellent since it means you get to do large amounts of damage and can almost always counterattack. Plus promoted mages, shamans, and monks all get the ability to use healing staves, which lets you retire your lousy staff specialists.

Erk is lightning-fast and will double attack nearly anything in the game given a few levels. His defenses are poor but not catastrophically so and the fact that most enemies have terrible Resistance means that he will do large amounts of damage even though his Str is not good and anima tomes don't pack much punch. The trouble Erk has is that almost every other magic user in the game is as good as him or better, and there are quite a few. He and Canas and Pent have very similar stats at most levels, but Pent is a pre-promoted unit and therefore essentially free to use while Canas is a shaman and therefore gets to use Dark Magic. Dark Magic is, for most purposes, superior to Erk's anima magic. Erk vs Lucius is a somewhat fairer comparison, but again Erk doesn't come out looking significantly better. And Nino is pretty much just better than Erk except that he's available for nearly the whole game, whereas she only appears at the end.

Now one very important thing to understand when approaching a max ranking run is that you're going to need to use nearly every character a fair amount in Hector's story to get the XP ranking, no matter how good or bad they are. Most magic-users are really easy to train at all stages of the game, so it's prudent to leave many of them level 1 for a long time and then bring them out in the difficult later chapters to start training then. That lets you give levels to much weaker low level people earlier on when it's safer.

So I will use Erk in Hector's mode, but I don't plan on him being one of my main units at least until near the end.




“Be a good boy and go fight now, Erk” –Serra, Chapter 5

Serra is bubbly, vivacious, confident, loud, and certifiably insane. She's a young priestess from Ostia (another city-state in Lycia) but she somehow ended up in Bern. Erk was sent to help bring her back home safely as part of his training. Since she's bratty and self-centered and crazy, she drags him into all kinds of scrapes- like having to help Lyn fight bandits.

Serra is definitely a funny character and her relationship with Erk is as entertaining as that of Sain and Kent, but unlike Sain she can't turn the humor off and is never anything other than a joke. Similarly, Kent and Sain's relationship was not just a joke; the two of them respected each others skills and worked together well as friends and partners even if they sometimes annoyed each other. But Erk and Serra are just a comedy duo with nothing else going on to make things more interesting. For this reason I don't much like her as a character.

As a unit, she is a necessary evil. Being a dedicated staff user is terrible because it means one can gain very little XP under any circumstances (often something like 50 per chapter), so Serra will inevitably end up horrendously underleveled. Even if you wanted to promote her- which you don't, because her stats are terrible compared to any magic user's- you wouldn't be able to because she might never hit level 10, let alone 20. However, you NEED healing in Hector's Hard Mode and she's the only one who can do that for a while. Ditch her once you can promote Canas or Erk or Lucius or whoever else you're using though.

Since healing costs money and Lyn's story is easy, I will not be using her at all until Hector's story begins.




Ok, so Sain isn't new. But just LOOK at his stats! Compared to his expected stats he has approximately +1 HP, +1 Strength, -1 Skill, +4 (!) Speed, +0 Defense, and +1 Resistance. Now most of those advantages aren't that big, but his big bonus came to Speed and there is no more important stat for Sain to gain early. This guy is shaping up to be an amazing unit.
The capacity of your random level ups to make some characters unexpectedly good or bad is one thing that contributes significantly to the game's tremendous replayability. I've never had a Sain like this before and I probably never will again, and that will change the best approach to many chapters later on.
Oh and apparently he died once? I'm... not at all sure when that happened. Possibly when I was fooling around trying to improve my screen caps before doing my real run of chapter 4.




“And no holding back just ‘cause there’s women with ‘em! Wipe ‘em out!” –Bug, Chapter 5

Oh look, another enemy brigand. Unlike Migal and Carjiga, there really isn't much to this guy. He's just trying to avenge Migal and restore the honor of the Ganelon bandits, but we learn nothing else about him. Almost as bland as Batta. Just another reason I don't think this is one of the better levels of Lyn's story.

One thing that IS interesting about this chapter though is how the Ganelon bandits' cockiness and talk of taking the female party members as 'souvenirs' or to sell is gone. They've finally realized your group is not to be messed with and they're really, really enraged about how many of their comrades you've killed. This final defeat and loss of yet another 10 or so guys probably ensures the destruction of their whole organization within a few months. Certainly we never hear about them again.


Playing Through:




Since Lyn has to immediately spend her turn recruiting Serra and Erk, Sain had his hands full taking out the northern enemies before they had a chance to attack someone I didn't want them to. That's finished now, so I'm just looking around the map to see who Florina can kill safely and cheaply. The answer, unfortunately, is nobody. Florina can't take a brigand in a fight due to poor starting stats and weapon triangle disadvantage. While she could kill most previous mercenaries in 2 hits, the ones on this level are tougher and would take 3. I'm a penny pincher, so I'm going to give those guys to Lyn with her free Mani Katti or Sain, who can kill them in 1-2 hits.




Florina CAN kill that archer in 2 hits, however there are 2 problems with that. First of all, the archer will survive her first attack and then shoot her for massive super-effective damage on its turn. It won't kill her in one shot, but it WILL kill her in two. That means if she misses her second attack, I'd need to send in Lyn or Sain to bail her out so the whole thing would be pointless. Secondly, and worse, she won't be able to kill the archer in 2 shots if it steps into a forest or onto a mountain. The added +1 defense will push her up to the 3 attack threshhold- and make it so the archer has yet another turn to blast away at her.

Instead of letting that happen, I'll just trap the archer in where it's helpless and let her attack it on the next turn for free. As you can see, both Sain and Florina are capable of moving next to the archer. That will pin it in, unable to move or attack, while Florina beats it to death.




That done, Lyn checks out the armory. Darn, I could use another iron lance but they aren't for sale. Javelins and Handaxes are wonderful for Hector's Hard Mode, but I can't use them now when I'm trying to save as much money as possible, so I'll buy nothing. Not much left to do but fight Bug. Lyn will soften him up and Sain will take the kill.




WOW! Lyn is shaping up very nicely indeed. It's too bad I don't intend to use her much. That's the first perfect level up I've seen in a long, long time. Now I send Sain in to kill Bug. Since my goal is to get Sain to level 15 or higher, it's important to have him kill every boss he can.




Darn. Oh well. That puts him closer to his expected averages, but his speed remains great.




The bandits defeated, Lyn and company have safely reached the border of Lycia and are about to part ways with Serra and Erk. However, Sain decides that he has a better chance of getting into Serra's ecclesiastical robes if she goes along with the party, so he tries to convince her to come along by pointing out that Lyn is the heir to the throne of Caelin and therefore someone of importance.

Serra decides that having Lyn in her debt will be very valuable, so she agrees to come along- and drags Erk with her. Both Serra and Sain think they're playing the other. Erk knows they're both idiots.


Meanwhile, Hundreds of Miles Away




It's episode 2 of the Lundgren show! In this episode, Lundgren has heard that, contrary to his previous predictions, Lyn actually DID survive to reach Lycia. Well now he's in trouble! So he orders a second assassination attempt and that the poison being given to his brother the Marquess be strengthened. And here he writes something of a blank check for his hired men to get a little too aggressive as they go about their job. Somehow when he says "Hold nothing back", they hear "Storm the castle in the unrelated city of Araphen and capture its Marquess just because Lyn is in the general area!".

Wow, spoilers.

Melth fucked around with this message at May 24, 2015 around 13:09

RBA Starblade
Apr 27, 2008

Going Home.


quote:

Oh and apparently he died once? I'm... not at all sure when that happened. Possibly when I was fooling around trying to improve my screen caps before doing my real run of chapter 4.

That's another thing I never figured out. What does "L" mean? That he died and at some point you reloaded the game? And what was a win considered?

RBA Starblade fucked around with this message at Feb 17, 2015 around 03:21

Rabbi Raccoon
Mar 31, 2009

I stabbed you dude!

Serra has always turned into a dodge machine for me. Light magic sucks in this game 90% of the time, but she sure can keep the bad guys busy and block a door. She's the only character I consistently get the fabled 0-0-0 with. Give her a Physic staff and she's good to go.

Also, maybe it's just me but you seem to be updating incredibly fast, and they're very text heavy. You might wanna dial it back a touch. Once a day, once every other day or something like that. Loving the LP, but it's a lot to take in all at once.

Again, just my thoughts.

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 don't mind that happening once we get into HHM, but this is Lyn Mode, blitz that poo poo so we can get to the meat.

Dr. Fetus
Oct 20, 2012

Nobody loves Dr. Fetus. And that's why Dr. Fetus hates you!

Rabbi Raccoon posted:

Serra has always turned into a dodge machine for me. Light magic sucks in this game 90% of the time, but she sure can keep the bad guys busy and block a door. She's the only character I consistently get the fabled 0-0-0 with. Give her a Physic staff and she's good to go.

Also, maybe it's just me but you seem to be updating incredibly fast, and they're very text heavy. You might wanna dial it back a touch. Once a day, once every other day or something like that. Loving the LP, but it's a lot to take in all at once.

Again, just my thoughts.

Yeah, unless the parts are short, or there's not much to discuss within the updates, a fast update schedule makes it hard for the thread to talk about what's going on.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


RBA Starblade posted:

That's another thing I never figured out. What does "L" mean? That he died and at some point you reloaded the game? And what was a win considered?

I believe that is correct, an L means that the character died and you restarted. A W means the character killed an enemy.


Rabbi Raccoon posted:

Serra has always turned into a dodge machine for me. Light magic sucks in this game 90% of the time, but she sure can keep the bad guys busy and block a door. She's the only character I consistently get the fabled 0-0-0 with. Give her a Physic staff and she's good to go.

Also, maybe it's just me but you seem to be updating incredibly fast, and they're very text heavy. You might wanna dial it back a touch. Once a day, once every other day or something like that. Loving the LP, but it's a lot to take in all at once.

Again, just my thoughts.

You are quite correct, Serra has excellent dodge due to sky-high luck and speed.
The trouble is, so do a lot of people and to get Serra to that level is impossible in a ranking run. In a ranking run, Serra can only get 10 XP per turn at most and you only have a handful of turns per level. This means she typically levels up once per 2 chapters.
Let's assume for the moment that you used her incredibly heavily in Lyn's story and got her to level 5. She joins on chapter 12 in Hector mode. The general 1 level up per 2 chapters rate means she will hit level 10 -and therefore be promotable- at around the Dragon's Gate. Roughly. But you can have Canas have become a level 20 shaman/low level druid at that point. Which means he's not only a much better combat unit, but a better healer too due to his superior movement and magic power.
If you do promote her then, she can start gaining XP at better speed, but she'll always have 10 levels less of every stat.
If you don't promote her then, she won't have reached level 20 unpromoted before the final chapter.

In a non-ranking run, you can do things like spend a ton of turns on chapters getting people injured and healing them all. Or arena or gate grind for free injuries for her to heal. Or you can use expensive staves that grant more XP. So she's usable- with a ton of effort and patience- on non-ranking runs. I would still argue that she's terrible even under those conditions because of her inferior magic power, awful defense against anything that does hit, and access to only the worst kind of offensive magic. Although Priscilla has similarly bad stats, I have a slightly higher opinion of her (but only slightly) because she can use Anima magic instead of Light and can move much further. Also Priscilla has an excellent support triangle available to her with Raven and Lucius.

Although I take your point that this is a lot to take in so quickly, I plan to continue updating very fast until I finish Lyn's story (hopefully by tomorrow). I'll slow down once I'm actually doing Hector's story.

Rabbi Raccoon
Mar 31, 2009

I stabbed you dude!

I always forget that not everyone parks Serra next to an ally who has no weapon and heal them every turn after an enemy hits them.

RBA Starblade
Apr 27, 2008

Going Home.


Melth posted:

I believe that is correct, an L means that the character died and you restarted. A W means the character killed an enemy.

I have to admit, I'm surprise it took into account how many times I reset the game then. Cool!

Also it's kind of fun seeing how things shape up for you and comparing with my games. Sain was one of my heavy hitters too, but I also routinely used Serra and Erk, and Lyn was always Queen poo poo of the Universe for me. Of course I never tried for max rank. Will got phased out by the Sniper later on though. You know who (and she probably won't matter).

quote:

Let's assume for the moment that you used her incredibly heavily in Lyn's story and got her to level 5. She joins on chapter 12 in Hector mode.

You will not believe how much I grind the poo poo out of my medics. I never really cared about Priscilla though.

RBA Starblade fucked around with this message at Feb 17, 2015 around 04:02

Nihilarian
Oct 2, 2013




RBA Starblade posted:

I have to admit, I'm surprise it took into account how many times I reset the game then. Cool!

Also it's kind of fun seeing how things shape up for you and comparing with my games. Sain was one of my heavy hitters too, but I also routinely used Serra and Erk, and Lyn was always Queen poo poo of the Universe for me. Of course I never tried for max rank. Will got phased out by the Sniper later on though. You know who (and she probably won't matter).


You will not believe how much I grind the poo poo out of my medics. I never really cared about Priscilla though.
She has a horse though.

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.


Rabbi Raccoon posted:

I always forget that not everyone parks Serra next to an ally who has no weapon and heal them every turn after an enemy hits them.


RBA Starblade posted:

I have to admit, I'm surprise it took into account how many times I reset the game then. Cool!

Also it's kind of fun seeing how things shape up for you and comparing with my games. Sain was one of my heavy hitters too, but I also routinely used Serra and Erk, and Lyn was always Queen poo poo of the Universe for me. Of course I never tried for max rank. Will got phased out by the Sniper later on though. You know who (and she probably won't matter).


You will not believe how much I grind the poo poo out of my medics. I never really cared about Priscilla though.

It's less that "Not everyone does it" and more "In a ranked run you can't really afford to do it." Like promoting Dart, You can, but it's 50,000 Gold so you never will. I assume Melth's aim is to have Paladin Sain by the end of Lyn Mode, which given how Sain exclusively murders everyone is a smart idea. And pretty typical. He's also aiming for the Geittz chapter of FFO because Geitz is a much more useful Pre-Promote and comes with a Killer Axe and a Steel Bow, which is worth way more money than... Wallaces Hand Axe and Silver Lance. Overall Geitz is the better unit as well. having 6 movement.

The idea for Ranked runs is to maximize the amount of funds you can save, your experience gained, and how fast you can do everything. So in short, Serra is useless when compared to Canas, who doesn't take that long to catch up to her.

RBA Starblade
Apr 27, 2008

Going Home.


Right, that's what I meant. It's just funny seeing how certain characters stack up to a max rank run. I never even considered the idea!

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Atomic Spud
Jun 24, 2013


Huh, I was gonna say I wasn't sure how I missed this, but I guess you're just trying to blitz through Lyn mode. Never bothered caring about ranks in HHM, so I'll enjoy watching once you get into the meat of it. I never really used the steal mechanic much in FE7, from what I understand it's pretty required for max funds rank there though. Also looking forward to Marcus getting at least some time in the spotlight since he got dumped pretty early by goonvoting for Artix.

Will you be abusing taking advantage of the mine glitch?

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