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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)

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:

ďYouíll be my master strategist, and Iíll be your peerless warrior!Ē ĖLyn

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 18:26 on May 10, 2015


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.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

From now on Iíll be doing some serious strategy talk in sections Iíll label ďThe War RoomĒ. If youíre 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, theyíll be good reading.

The War Room, Part 1
To beat HHM with max ranking youíll need 2 things: Good tactics and good strategy. Tactics are the hard part and thereís 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 Lynís story is important prep for Hectorís story. This is because in Lynís story you can train up a lot of units who will then be useful later. Before you even start Lynís story itís good to know who you plan to train. For me it will be Sain, Florina, and Lyn (Iíll 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 youíd better choose well.

One interesting and underused loophole however is that you can promote Sain or Kent in Lynís 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, itís because it is. At the end of Lynís story you lose access to Lynís acquired treasures and Lynís party members. Early in Hectorís 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 sheíll have nothing. If 20,000 < assets < 30,000, then sheíll have a ďRed GemĒ worth 5000 gold. If 30,000 < assets < 33,000, then a ďBlue GemĒ worth 10,000 gold. And if you had 33,000 < Assets then sheíll have a ďWhite GemĒ 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 Lynís 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 youíll 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 Hectorís 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 youíll have to be REALLY careful to use the Knight Crest. I think itís 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 Iíll 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. Youíll 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, theyíre 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 youíre just walking out of your door when suddenly a gang of thugs armed to the teeth walks up to you. Youíve never seen them before but they know you by name and theyíve been sent to kill you and you donít 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 thugís portrait: 5 oíclock shadow, hints of chest hair, ragged edges to his shirt. Youíll never see this guy after this level and heís more a plot device than a character, but they didnít 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 youíd just move everyone toward him, massacring his minions on the way, but Iím 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:

ďAh, Kent! My boon companion! Why so severe an expression?Ē ĖSain, Chapter 1

Dashing, handsome, recklessly brave, cheerful, and a shameless skirt-chaser, Sain often looks rather stupid but itís clear that he's actually reasonably clever. For example, heís the first to realize Lundgren is the person most likely to be behind the assassination attempts. That heís capable of being serious when it counts and isnít just a joke character makes him one of my favorites. Sadly, he doesnít 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, itís a bit hard to explain why Sain is so awesome. Heís 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 guyís main statistical asset is monstrous strength in the early and mid levels, but that hits his low maximum quickly so he doesnít do so great at the end.

More important is his great class. Heís 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. Iíll have him kill almost EVERYTHING for the next 10 chapters.

ďSain, you lout!Ē ĖKent, 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 heís extremely competent off the battlefield, usually serving as Lynís 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 peopleís 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 canít justify using him. Like Sain, Kent is a Cavalier and thatís 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 whoís better on offense than Kent while Lowen is a cavalier whoís 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 Iím implementing on this run of Lynís 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 thatís a cost I canít afford. So Kent will never be used in Lynís story, which means he goes into Hectorís story really weak. So Lowen will be better. So heíll never really be used in Hectorís story. Well except for boosting my XP rank toward the end. Poor guy.

ďAccursed knights, always tampering in othersí affairs.Ē ĖZugu, 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, itís 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 donít much care if his defensive stats end up bad as long as heís fast now.

Zugu, like most bosses in this game, is petrified with fear at the sight of your glorious army, so he wonít 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. Itís a bad level up but Iím still happy because of that speed bonus last time.

And thatís a wrap!

Hereís 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 canít 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 whoís 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 sheíd defied her father Hausen and since prejudice against the Ďuncivilizedí 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 Hausenís (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, Hausenís 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 Lynís 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. AndÖ 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 Iíve 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 sheís 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.

Thereís chapter 1 for you. The next battle is a bit more complicated.

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

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?Ē ĖGlass, 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.


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.

ďIt is time for you to go, Lyn. You face a great many ordeals. Grip this sword and meet your destiny head-on.Ē ĖPriest 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 02:44 on May 15, 2015

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.

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:

ďI would be honored to count myself one of Lyndisís Legion!Ē -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.

"Itís justÖ Iíve always dreamt of being a pegasus knight. I imagined I would justÖwork it out. SomehowĒ -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.

ďWeíre not listening to any of your stinking apologies!Ē -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.
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 09:59 on May 21, 2015

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.

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.

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:

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 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.

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.

ďIt would break Natalieís sweet heart to see me sink so low.Ē ĖDorcas, 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.

ďWeíll avenge Migal and get some pretty souvenirs to boot.Ē ĖCarjiga, 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 10:14 on May 21, 2015

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.

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.


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.

ďBe a good boy and go fight now, ErkĒ ĖSerra, 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.

ďAnd no holding back just Ďcause thereís women with Ďem! Wipe Ďem out!Ē ĖBug, 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 13:09 on May 24, 2015

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.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Here we go, a real level again! Lyn's story has 12 chapters (Prologue, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7x, 8, 9, and 10) and has two major parts to its story, splitting it right down the middle. 6 is the beginning of the second part. Everything up till now was about Lyn struggling to survive and recruiting some allies as she made her way to Lycia. Now Lyn arrives in the land of her mother's birth and takes the offensive as she learns that it is not only she who Lundgren is trying to assassinate. The difficulties Lyn's company face outside of battle shift away from struggling to find shelter and get along in the wilds and now revolve around political and diplomatic machinations to get the help she needs to win her personal war against her great-uncle Lundgren and the forces loyal to him.

Although still extremely easy, these chapters are much more interesting to play than the previous 6- even on Lyn's Normal mode where one has much less freedom.

The War Room, Part 6

Some people have been talking and asking about what the requirements to achieve max ranking actually are, and I'd planned to get into that around this chapter anyway, so here's a rundown:

Your performance in Hector's Hard Mode is ranked in 5 categories: Tactics, Funds, Experience, Combat, and Survival.

Survival is the most straightforward. You achieve maximum ranking for Survival if none of your characters die. Restarting a chapter if one does get killed is considered perfectly legitimate though- and almost certainly you'll have to do that at least once. So this requirement is no problem; just restart if someone dies and you'll get max ranking.

Combat is also fairly simple and also easy to get 5 stars in. A good Combat ranking means that you generally kill enemies in 1-2 fights. If enemies die approximately half the time that you and the enemy exchange blows, you will get a maximum score in Combat. Since most attacks end in dead enemies, this is quite easy to max rank. The only reason it could be hard is that the other ranking categories force you to use some weak characters who will take many fights to kill enemies.

Experience is exactly what it sounds like. You get a high Experience ranking if your units gain a lot of total experience. So use lots of low level characters whenever possible, avoid letting people who are level 20 (and thus can't gain any XP) fight, and make sure you get as much non-combat XP as you can too by healing very wound possible with your staff users and having Ninian/Nils dance every turn.

Funds is perhaps the most misunderstood ranking category. Essentially, you get a good Funds score by having a huge net worth of cash on hand + value of all items owned. Since you buy items from stores for 100% of their value, purchasing stuff does not harm your Funds score. Since you sell items to stores for 50% of their value, selling things DOES harm your funds score. Since using charges of vulneraries, spells, and weapons decreases their value, using any of these things hurts your funds score. But obviously you need to use your weapons to win the game, so just try to use inexpensive ones whenever possible. Make sure you open every treasure chest and visit every village to get as much treasure as possible. Never throw away anything. And steal as many valuable items as you can from the enemy. As a general rule, if you CAN steal it, you SHOULD steal it. Even if it's something fairly low in value like a vulnerary. DEFINITELY you need to steal any big-ticket items like stat-boosters or promotion items or elixirs or gems. Lastly, do not use any stat-booster items and use very few promotion items. Each stat booster is worth 8000 gold, and you lose that entire value if you use it. Each promotion item is worth 10,000. That's worthwhile for a few really good people but not for most people. Also, the Heaven Seals and Earth Seals and Ocean Seal and Fell Contract are worth 20,000 or 50,000 gold. So do not use any of those promotion items- at least not without serious consideration.

Tactics basically means speed. Every chapter has a max ranking turn limit to it. If your total number of turns spent on the whole story is less than the total number of turns in every turn limit, you will get 5 stars for tactics. This means it's ok to run overtime on some chapters as long as you make up for it elsewhere. Note that most Defend chapters (the ones where you need to last a certain number of turns) actually take more turns than their time limit and there isn't much of anything you can do about that. Also most chapters exclusive to Hector mode have a turn limit of 0, so you really need to work hard to make up for that lost time elsewhere.

Chapter Summary:

At last Lyn has arrived in the large city-state of Araphen in Lycia. Araphen and Caelin have an old and healthy alliance, so Kent was able to persuade the Marquess of Araphen to lend his aid to Lyn. However, Lundgren has sent another, more dangerous group of assassins to eliminate Lyn. Unfortunately, he seems to have explained their mission poorly so they end up attacking castle Araphen and abducting the Marquess for some reason. Lyn helps the local captain of the guard free the castle and rescue Marquess Araphen, but Marquess Araphen is angry that he was attacked as a result of her family's petty succession struggle and despises the people of Sacae, so he decides not to help her afterall. What a jerk!

In case you forgot the plot, the chapter intro reminds you of the premise of the story. To me, this is kind of an indication that too much time was spent on pointless levels like Chapter 2 and 5 up till now and the developers were kind of aware of that.

Uh, I guess I caught Kent while he was blinking by mistake. Oops. Once again showing off his level-headed competence and knightly skills, Kent rode ahead to Araphen and met with the Marquess. He convinced the latter to aid them. Now all they need to do is ride up to the castle and meet their new benefactor!
You should think of Kent as the secretary of state of Lyn's little cabinet.

However, Lyn is suddenly attacked on the street as she walks toward the castle. Rath, captain of the guard in Araphen, saves her by shooting the assassin. It's around that time that everyone notices the castle in on fire. Araphen has sort of like a medieval Spanish look to it if you ask me. Pretty cool.

Grateful for being saved and eager to help the Marquess of Araphen, Lyn and company decide to aid Rath in opening up a secret passage into the castle so they can rescue the Marquess.

The Map:

Objective: Find the 3 hidden switches and have units wait on each of them
Secondary Objective: Recruit Matthew in the northern village
Secondary Objective: Get the door key from the nearby village
Secondary Objective: Get the Armorslayer from one of the chests indoors
Secondary Objective: Get the Angelic Robe from one of the chests indoors

This is the first level on which parts of the map are initially hidden. While the doors into the top-right areas are still closed, we can't see into it. On Jerme's version of Pale Flower of Darkness, WAY later in the game, this kind of setup comes back with a vengeance. There's no telling what kind of ferocious enemies might be hidden from view behind every door on that map. It's like a game show! With horrible death instead of cars and whatnot.

Not coincidentally, this is also the first chapter with locked doors (2 are circled, others are hidden indoors at the moment). These doors can be opened with door keys, which are in short supply, or slightly more expensively with Lockpicks. Anyone can use a door key, it just takes up one of their 5 inventory slots until it is used (and vanishes), but only Thieves can use Lockpicks. Guess what class the new guy has?

Lastly, this chapter introduces treasure chests; there are 2 hidden indoors at the moment. Those can be opened with chest keys (much rarer and more valuable than door keys) or, again, with Lockpicks in the hands of a Thief.

These complications aside, it's really quite easy. The only dangerous surprise indoors is this one archer who might move out and kill an unwary Florina if you didn't know he was going to be there.

The Characters

"Treasure time! Treasure time!" -Matthew, Chapter 6, Normal Mode only

One of my favorite characters because of how well-done I consider his relationship with Leila to be later on, Matthew is a friendly but enigmatic thief who ostensibly joins Lyn and company for a chance at some plunder. He proves to be cunning and resourceful and connected, warning Lyn of various dangers and discovering Lundgren's plot against his brother. However, he keeps his distance and doesn't talk much to the rest of the party for now

The only thief you'll have for much of the game, Matthew uses his monopoly to get away with being a sucky unit in combat. His atrocious Strength and only being able to use Swords means he'll never do much damage, while his shoddy defenses (especially resistance) mean you'll want to keep him out of combat whenever possible. As if he wasn't bad enough statistically, you definitely cannot promote him since doing so costs 5x the normal amount.

However, Matthew is absolutely essential, one of the most valuable units in the whole game. This is because of his incredible Thief class. Thieves move fast for infantry, can see tremendously far in fog and darkness (more on that later), are the only ones who can use lockpicks (and therefore the only ones who can acquire most of the treasure in the game), and can steal items (but not weapons) from enemies. Matthew will make you rich and you basically cannot get max rank in funds without him.
Additionally, Matthew has some limited combat utility. He has good accuracy but low damage, meaning you can count on him weakening but not killing enemies for you. This is great for feeding kills (and thus XP) to weaker units. And his high speed makes him decent at dodging attacks now and then.

The taciturn captain of the guard in Araphen, Rath is a Sacaen of the mighty Kutolah tribe- in fact, he's the son of the chief. As a child, he was sent out alone into the world because some prophet of his tribe predicted that the world would be destroyed if he wasn't set out to stop that from happening (as he does indirectly in this game). He's fairly gruff and humorless and definitely keeps to himself, never getting to know most of the other characters well and disappearing abruptly once his job is done. However, his mix of well-founded pride and a serious, competent bearing are pretty respectable.

Rath joins at a very high level 7 fairly late in Lyn's story and will not be available again until about halfway through Hector's story. This makes him rather hard to use much. Further, he's locked to Bows until he promotes and Bows are a terrible weapon category.

On the other hand, Rath has incredible movement because Nomads move the same nominal distance as Cavaliers, but are better at pushing through rough terrain and bad weather. Being a male on a horse with low con, he also has a tremendous ability to rescue and carry allies- very useful as you shall see later. Importantly, he gains the ability to use swords when he promotes. Swords are not great, but they are a darned sight better than being stuck with bows forever, like Wil and Rebecca and Louise.

Furthermore, his stats are absolutely AMAZING. He has fantastic HP, great strength, very good skill, some of the best speed in the game courtesy of having a maximum cap of 30, decent luck, and low but not terrible defense and resistance. If you want it killed with a sword, a lategame Rath will kill it dead and dodge hundreds of enemy attacks without batting an eye.

All in all I will not deny that he has some great stats and a fairly solid class, but the difficulty of training him up with bows and the fact that he joins so late (snd at the same time as a similarly underleveled unit who's way more valuable) denies him a spot on my team. If you want a bow user on your endgame team though, Rath is the one to pick.

ďWhen I heard that Lady Madelynís daughter was in trouble, I thought to lend my assistanceÖ I find Iíve changed my mind.Ē ĖMarquess Araphen, Chapter 6

Marquess Araphen is an NPC who plays a fairly important role in the story and gets a decent amount of development. He's a total jerk to everyone but in a rather charismatic way, insulting everyone who talks to him rapidfire. He harbors a particular hatred for the people of the Sacaean plains, barring them from his city. Although the common racism of Lycians against Sacaeans has come up before (most notably with Marquess Hausen of Caelin disowning his daughter, Lyn's mother, for eloping with a nomad), Marquess Araphen is the one who shows it most strongly.

However, he's not just some 2-dimensional racist creep with no redeeming features or background development. For one thing, the captain of his guard, Rath, is a Sacaean, so it's clear that Marquess Araphen is practical enough to put aside his bigotry when it comes to competent and useful and loyal people. Rath seems to have been fairly happy working for him up until Marquess Araphen shoots off his mouth insulting Lyn at the end of this chapter, so it seems likely that he treated Rath with at least some measure of politeness and respect. Furthermore, we learn that at least part of Marquess Araphen's hateful attitude stems from the fact that in his youth he loved Madelyn of Caelin, Lyn's mother, but she spurned him and ran off with a Sacaean nomad instead. Jealousy makes people do awful things.

Upon meeting Lyn, Marquess Araphen angrily snaps that her family's inheritance dispute has resulted in people attacking him and setting fire to his castle. This is a somewhat reasonable complaint. Considering you also looted his castle on the way to see him, it's hard not to agree that he has some reason to take a dislike to Lyn's group. What really torpedoes any chance of an alliance with him though is that Lyn is not only half-Sacaean but PROUD of being half-Sacaean. When he insults the people of her homeland, Lyn storms out. He mutters that he would have helped her if she'd just asked, but now it's too late for all concerned. Rath resigns his post to help Lyn instead and Marquess Araphen runs off to become a powerful wizard and assassin.

Although he's only in a few scenes, I consider this character to be one of the better developed ones in the game. He reminds me in many respects of Snape: the man is a complete jerk, but in an often funny way and he's an eminently human person. Both, also, became hateful and wretched people in part because the women they loved rejected them for a better man who they hated and then died. Both have stewed in regret and jealousy ever since. And both decided to help their beloved's child many years later- though Araphen ultimately is no help to Lyn because she refuses to deal with a racist rear end like him.

ďBah, Lyndis and her cadre. When did you arrive? No matter, I shall deal with you.Ē ĖBool, Chapter 6

One of Lundgren's henchman and the first of many bosses in this game to be knights (defensively very powerful but horrendously slow units). Bool seems to have been sent to assassinate Lyn, but by the looks of things he severely screwed up and ended up attacking castle Araphen for some reason- possibly because he'd heard Araphen was going to help Lyn and wrongly assumed that she was already in the castle. When Lyn's group shows up to fight him, he doesn't seem to recognize them- even if it's Lyn who fights him.

We don't find out just how this whole mess came about, which strikes me as the best part about it. Misunderstandings, bad ideas, unintendend consequences, and confused people muddling about making things worse for themselves were the causes of many events in history, and often no one involved at the time understood what was going on. This is The Charge of the Light Brigade, this is Marinus van der Lubbe burning down the Reichstag, this is Columbus miscalculating the size of the Earth. Good stuff.

Bool seems to be highly competent to judge from the fact that his men seized control of the castle and captured the Marquess so easily, yet at the same time he ultimately has no idea what he's doing and he dies like an idiot as a result.

Playing Through:

The mercenaries here are weak again, so everyone else backs off while Florina fights them and nets a decent level up. However, she fails to dodge their attacks and ends up too injured to participate for much of the rest of the chapter.

With little else to do at the moment, Matthew visits one of the information villages shortly after he's recruited and we learn more of Marquess Araphen's past.

Matthew has unlocked a door, revealing a small room empty except for one of the switches. Kent goes to step on it.

Hitting that switch opens up the main chamber, full of treasure chests and yet more doors. Meanwhile, Serra uses the door key from another village to open a door for Sain to charge in and kill a pitifully weak soldier guarding another switch in a single blow.

When Serra steps on the second switch, it reveals Bool. Florina takes down the archer who guarded Bool while Matthew loots the first treasure chest for an Angelic Robe! Awesome.

Bool's high Defense and Lyn's low strength and his weapon triangle advantage means she should do about 3 damage to him. However, the Mani Katti is super-effective vs Knights so instead she'll do a more respectable 10 per hit.
However, I did not take this attack since if I did, Lyn would probably die. Bool had a 60% chance to hit her now and then would have been able to attack her again with his turn came, now with a 60% chance of killing her. It's often important to move next to powerful enemies but not attack them. This way they only have 1 opportunity to hit you before you can react.

Sain kills Bool and then a turn later the rest of the fortress is fully revealed. This is the area that was hidden when the map began. All I need to do now is have Matthew loot that treasure chest with the armorslayer next turn and have Lyn step on the switch where Bool used to be.

The battle is won!

Having left empty-handed, Lyn considers something Marquess Araphen said earlier: that Marquess Caelin is sick and possibly dying. Although I, the player, saw Lundgren's plan to poison the Marquess and disguise it as illness, Lyn and company of course heard not even the symptoms of this vile scheme until now.

This is kind of a weird side effect of all the scenes of Lundgren talking to his henchmen that we get. Things that are mysteries or plot twists to the characters are already known to the player so they aren't surprising. And in fact it often looks weird to have the characters only now finding out things we already know.

In any case, Rath joins the party and he brings oodles of gold with him.

Next up, an unexpected twist of fate.

Melth fucked around with this message at 15:35 on May 28, 2015

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!
I think I'll chime in here with my own opinion on the value of axes.

To a new player looking at the early chapters in the game and the first characters introduced who use axes, they look pretty terrible. They can't hit, their damage doesn't seem to be THAT much bigger than swords, and few early game enemies use lances, so they rarely have weapon triangle advantage. Also, as a general rule, the people you most need high accuracy against are sword users because it's the sword using classes like mercenaries and myrmidons and thieves that typically have the highest speed. Axes completely fail in that regard.

The new players are not wrong. Axes have some pretty serious disadvantages in the early parts of the game. High level characters have enough Skill that they will rarely miss enemies no matter what they're wielding, but low level characters- and especially low-level axe users- do not have much skill so their miss chance with axes can be very high. And a miss at an important time could mean character death- or being slowed down by a turn or more.

So axes become excellent later in the game when damage is king and everyone has all the accuracy they need, but it's hard to get axe users started rolling. Not helping the matter is the fact that Dorcas and Bartre are both hard to train at best and outright bad regardless at worst. Bartre gets double attacked by brigands in HHM for goodness sake.

All in all, I consider axes to be the second best weapon after lances for general use throughout the game.

But the whole axe vs lance debate is ultimately a sideshow. Weapons are generally inferior to magic. And anima and light magic is inferior to dark magic. Dark magic may be expensive, but it's the most lethal thing in the game

Oh and regardless, just say no to Steel Axes. Steel Axes are horrendous weapons because they're too heavy for almost anyone to ever use without a speed penalty and their extra damage relative to iron is typically useless since most people wielding iron axes will already 2-hit kill everything.

Onmi posted:

Doing math

The Killer Axe is 1000, and the Steel bow is 720 for a total of 1720 GP

The Silver Lance is 1200 and the Hand Axe is 300 for a total of 1500 GP. So yeah, Geitz is better for a Ranked run because he's worth more money. And since Wallace wont be promoted it's a 4 move Armor Knight versus a 6 move 'B in Axes and Bows' Warrior who can start swinging away with Hand-Axes immediatly.

And here is another thing. The Hand axe is 300 GP, the Javelin is 400. So Each Hand-Axe use is cheaper than each Javelin use, making axe-using units more cost effective for range-combat than lance users. As well the Iron Axe is 270 GP, and the cheapest Iron weapon on the market. In fact the STEEL AXE is 300 GP, Cheaper than the Iron Lances 360 gP. So on average using a Steel Axe, which is still an E Rank weapon, is far cheaper for much larger bang, than the Iron Lance. Now consider Paladins, E-Rank Axes off the bat, Sain can be swinging with his absurd strength an 11 Mt Steel Axe, in comparison to the more expensive 10 Mt Steel Lance, for more damage AND a better funds rank.

Not to mention, Marcus can also use Steel Axes from the get go, so he also conserves a ridiculous amount of Gold.

So Axes have the cheapest highest damage potential for the lowest weapon rank and the cheapest option of ranged damage.

In HHM, you'll be running Axe Paladins, Axe Heroes, and basically anyone else who can kill and save money due to being able to use the best weapon type.

That 220 gold difference in starting gear is pretty trivial considering you're going to have most of a million in assets at the end of the game. If Wallace was actually a good character, you would do the Lloyd route to get him even though he has 220 less. But Wallace is bad. Geitz is pretty bad too, but he's at least usable I guess. The real reason I'm going for Linus's level is mostly that isn't a fog level, which makes it much easier to feed XP to the right units, and that it has a really huge turn limit in HHM.

In general actually I'm going to argue that the price difference between an iron lance and an iron axe and a javelin and a handaxe doesn't much matter. You don't go through THAT many of either over the course of the game. 1 or 2 stolen vulneraries might outweigh the lost money from using lances instead of axes. So really, use the characters who are good rather than the characters who have cheap weapons.

For this particular run of Lyn's mode, I'm on a REALLY tight budget that could come down to + or - 50 gold from my goal, with 10,000 more funds in Hector's story hanging in the balance. So for that reason alone I am stupidly using lances over swords at all times in this run. And I'm also never healing, never using a javelin or handaxe, never using magic, etc. I'm going to play less frugally in HHM when I have more leeway in my budget.

One last note. In my War Room discussions I have pointed out a few times that what matters in terms of the price of gear is the market price / the number of uses. So while a Steel Axe looks cheap at 360 gold to buy one, it only has 30 uses which means its price per use is 12. That's higher than an iron sword's 10. Steel weapons are generally not a good buy. Besides being heavy and inaccurate- which really hurt in the early game (the hardest part of the game I'd argue), they're expensive.

Handaxes cost 15 per use, which is pricier yet, but Handaxes serve a very special and important role which makes them worth paying a little extra for. Likewise for Javelins. I plan to do a War Room all about them later.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

At first glance this looks like a sudden side story interrupting the main plot of Lyn trying to fight her way to Caelin to meet her grandfather, however itís actually far more important than that. I canít reveal just why to avoid major spoilers, but I suggest that any veteran players who dismissed Lynís story as irrelevant to the rest of the game consider how absolutely critical the events of this chapter are. What would have happened if Lyn WASNíT the sort of person who would go out of her way to help a child in need?
One of the wiser themes running through this game- touched upon in the last chapter and pointed out explicitly by Athos- is that actions have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences. Ultimately, a young woman saved all of human civilization by writing a letter to her father. In fact, she did so by choosing to write it on that particular day rather than, say, procrastinating it a couple of weeks.
That this chapter seems to have little to do with the rest of Lynís arc is in fact what ties it in so closely and so cleverly with the rest of the game.

That aside, this chapter is also probably the first- or at least the second after Chapter 4- to require any kind of tactical thinking from the player. Itís the first chapter in which I make any moves I think are worth drawing attention to and explaining. From now on Iíll be spending more time giving you guys the play by play than I have previously when there was comparatively little to talk about.

Chapter Summary:
Lyn leaves Araphen behind and hurries through Khathelet toward Caelin all the faster now that sheís heard that her grandfather may be dying. One day her ride south is interrupted when a little boy named Nils begs her to help him rescue his sister, Ninian, from some men whoíve abducted her. Lyn chooses to help him and has her first encounter with the sinister Black Fang. Ultimately, the Black Fang nearly outsmarts them and they only recover Ninian because of the intervention of Eliwood, a young nobleman of Pherae.

Thereís a pretty great musical theme, An Unexpected Caller, that suddenly starts playing at these moments in the story when danger looms suddenly
Here it plays while Nils frantically runs around asking the villagers for help in vain.

Having just showcased his navigational ability explaining how long it will take them to reach Caelin at this point, Kent is now the only one to recognize that a child could easily be part of an assassination attempt. The guy doesnít get much respect due to his lowish stats, but I have to admit that Lyn would have ended up in a shallow grave somewhere along the way if it werenít for his diligence, loyalty, and practical wisdom.

Nils warns Lyn that the men sheís agreed to help fight are quite dangerous. Lyn is much more confident now than she used to be and with good reason.

Those guys must be tough indeed to get their own leitmotif:
But where or what is Nergal? The plot thickens.

Preparations & The Map

Prepare to charge! This is the first level on which the player can access this battle preparations screen. Here you can choose which of your characters to bring along and which to leave behind, exchange items between them freely, and even choose their starting positions on the map (within limits). Doing this properly will be a VERY important part of strategy later, but for now itís somewhat less important.

Objective: Kill Heintz
Secondary Objective: Kill Heintz within 7 turns so as to unlock the secret sidequest
Secondary Objective: Get to the village before itís destroyed
Secondary Objective: Visit the bottom right house for a cameo from Hector.

Two new people have joined the party. Other than them, Iím only bringing the people I want to train + Matthew (heís handy for all sorts of things and I donít mind him getting some XP). I could have had several more characters, but theyíd only get in the way at the moment. I also took this opportunity to hand the characters Iím not using all the various junk items I donít need.

There are a couple of new features on this map which Iíll explain. One is the first shop I believe weíve seen so far. Shops are like armories except they sell magical tomes, staves, and items like vulneraries and door keys. Just like armories, the selection varies level by level. Since Iím not using magic or staves in Lynís story, I wonít actually purchase anything here.

Another novelty is the dead tree, called a snag, near the bottom right. Much like how characters could smash through cracked walls to make a new entrance on some previous levels, you can attack snags to topple them into rivers and make new bridges. In this case thatís entirely unhelpful, but itís handy later.

That cluster of houses in the top right is just a village. It works the same as the ones youíve seen before despite the different look.

You will notice that a lot of the terrain on this map is hard to get through. Those brown peaks are totally impassable except for air units, the greenish mountains are impassable for cavalry and horribly slow for infantry, and the lone enemy mercenary near the bridge will move forward to block you as you approach, further slowing your advance. Just making it to Heintz in a reasonable time frame- let alone killing every single enemy along the way- can be moerately troublesome depending on how good your units are and how lucky that mercenary gets with his dodges. Fortunately, thereís a much better way to do things: air dropping Sain directly over the peaks to slaughter the lower half of the enemies from that side while Lyn sweeps through the upper section enemies.

The Characters

ďI need your help!Ē ĖNils, Chapter 7

A young, traveling musician, Nils and his sister wander here and there trying to scrape together a living. The pair of them are rather frail and sickly and are being pursued by dangerous enemies. You can expect this little guy and his sister to spend large swaths of the story unconscious, dying, kidnapped, or missing in action. Although fond of Lyn, the two of them donít share much about themselves.
I rather like the little kid; he keeps a stiff upper lip and doesnít panic in bad situations. Quite mature really.

Nils and his sister cannot fight. That aside, theyíre among the best units in the game. As a Bard (and a Dancer for Ninian, but itís totally the same thing), they enjoy very high dodging ability and eventually pretty solid defensive stats. This is good, since they need to be near the front lines rather often to do their job.
And whatís that job? Buffing your other soldiers. While there are admittedly a few staves capable of boosting allies in minor ways, Bards have a near monopoly on powering up your other characters. By the end of the game Ninian and Nils will be able to do things like grant an enormous +10 defense/resistance or +10 strength to one of your soldiers at a time. For now, the only thing they can do is grant a unit an extra turn.

Just sit back for a moment and just think about the tactical implications there. This could double your functional attack range. It could let you accomplish objectives faster than otherwise possible. It could let your healer run back and forth between two people at once. It could give a weak unit youíre training the ability to kill an enemy for massive XP. It could give your strongest warrior the chance to assassinate a second high priority enemy. It could pull a unit out of harmís way. It could let slow people keep up with their faster brethren.
It could let you rescue an ally, move with them, move with them again, and then drop then 16 squares away in one turn.
Nils is top tier, man. The only limit is your tactical imagination and the fact that he can only be used once per turn. Plus he grants himself 10 XP every turn he uses his abilities. Thatís 10 XP per turn that you couldnít get otherwise. Quite nice for boosting up your XP ranking.

ďI truly wish to help the boy.Ē ĖLucius, Chapter 7

Ah, Lucius. Too nice for his own good. He- and please get this right, the poor man is always having people mistake him for a woman- is a minor clergyman of the church of St. Elimine. And heís a good Samaritan who just canít let someone else suffer when he could help them, no matter what the cost to himself. Heís never without a kind word or an offer of his aid to anyone in need and he never loses his patience with anyone ever, no matter how obnoxious theyíre being to him. Serenity, thy name is Lucius.

Unfortunately, life has really put him through the wringer. His parents were murdered (by a man he later has a chance to forgive in person), he was abused and mistreated in the orphanage he grew up in, the surrogate family he eventually ended up with also died horribly, and his best friend is a total jerk. Also unfortunately, there isnít much you can do for Lucius. The best possible ending for him is shackling him to his jerkish friend for life. The only other alternative is for him to found an orphanage in Araphen and then get murdered at the hands of invaders early in the sequel.
In case it wasnít clear, Lucius is one of my favorite characters. Itís rather rare these days that we see a recognition in games or film or literature that compassion is strength, not weakness. The iron-willed and indefatigably gentle Lucius really embodies that.

Heís really pretty hardcore as far as fighting units go too. His base Magic is high and his growth is the best in the game by a hefty margin. His starting speed is huge and his growth there is also respectable. And NOBODY beats his Resistance. When fighting magic users, Lucius will take 0 damage and counterattack twice with 100% accuracy for nearly certain death. And when he promotes, he immediately jumps up to a respectable C with staves, very handy. The big problems he has are that his Luck is terrible- reflecting his life- which means his dodge chance is only decent rather than enormous, his defense is bad, and his Magic cap is really low. Also Light magic kind of sucks. This means that heíll punch under his weight compared to people like Canas who have inferior magic power but better weapons. It also means that you canít trust him on the front lines against enemies with physical weapons. He canít take hits well and his dodging ability is only pretty good.

In a non-ranking run this guy will be on my team 90% of the time. Heís a bit of a glass cannon, but heís completely invulnerable against enemy mages and he has great availability. Also his support triangle with Raven and Priscilla is fantastic.
In a ranking run he rarely makes the cut. I'll definitely use him, but mostly to pump up my XP score. Heís unlikely to get promoted, same as people like Erk.

ďYou were onlyÖ striking at air. The girl is already-Ē ĖHeintz, Chapter 7

Ah, Heintz, the second-best brand of ketchup. Also the second-best shaman to use that fairly cool portrait. He continues the grand tradition of Lyn's story bosses being amazingly terrible. 3 magic? Really? Even Serra is better than that by level 3.

But you know, he seems to be one of the best tacticians in his organization. Think about it: he actually accomplishes his goal of capturing Ninian and delaying Lyn long enough to prevent her from rescuing Ninian. And he does it with the weakest soldiers in the Black Fang. The problem is, it turns out that Eliwood has somehow ninjaed in to his little fortress and rescued her offscreen. Cíest la vie.

ďShe looked in need of rescuingÖĒ ĖEliwood, Chapter 7

Eliwood will get a proper introduction later, but he makes his first appearance here where he rescues Ninian on his own, returns her to Nils, and then is the first Lycian lordling not to hate Sacaeans. He offers to help Lyn, but she stupidly refuses because this is her personal fight. Lyn really hasnít gotten over that sort of foolish pride she voiced way back in chapter 1 yet. Oh well, sheíll reconsider.

Playing Through:

The first thing to do is kill this Shaman, but Lyn canít actually do it on her own without a critical. Fortunately, she gets one so I donít need to have Matthew finish it off.

Now I mentioned that in order to finish this level quickly, itís important to drop a good fighting unit directly to the other side of the mountains. But how do you do that efficiently? First, I positioned Florina so that she could just pick Sain up in passing without needing to double back in directions that waste her movement.

Carrying him, she now moves south. But not as far as she can . Instead she moves to 1 space away from Nilsís max movement range and waits there.

Nils gives her another turn, so Florina now rushes down and dumps Sain. Heís been moved something like 10 spaces- over impassable terrain no less- by the time the move finishes. And one can do more. Nils + good rescuing tactics are the best form of transportation around.

This is a good opportunity to illustrate a point I made in an earlier war room. As you can see, the only person in the enemy archerís range is Lucius, whoíll be able to counterattack and kill the archer. If I moved Matthew into range though, the archer would attack Matthew instead, and Matthew canít counterattack. Which would mean I had to waste someone's turn killing the archer on my turn. Sometimes you need to not move forward at full speed in order to make efficient progress. Anyway, I don't want to use Lucius so I'll be undoing this move; it was just to illustrate the example.

See that brigand whoís far away with some bad terrain in the way? Too bad I canít beat him this turn with Lyn, right? Oh wait, I have Nils. Heís a dead man. Nils is great for training one specific person at a time by giving them functionally double movement and 2 kills per turn.

The stock of the vendor. Nothing Iíll be using. One nice thing is that if you donít buy anything, you can just press B to cancel out of the menus and cancel your move to the store entirely. Thus thereís no harm in browsing.

So itís the end of turn 2 and people are going about their jobs. Lyn has killed the shaman, the archer, and the brigand with the support of Nils. Lucius and Matthew are tagging along to visit the village while she fights. Meanwhile, Sain and Florina are rampaging through the enemies from the other side. The poor saps are caught in something of a pincer movement.

Florina nets a level off one of the shamans she kills. This would be pretty lousy on, say, Sain but Florina really needs some more hitpoints and Str, so this is pretty darned good.

Next turn, almost all the enemies are about to be exterminated and I still have 3 or 4 left in my time limit to get the secret level. Plenty of time to visit the top left village and the bottom left house before Sain kills Heintz and the level ends.

As Florina kills the mage and Sain kills the shaman, Lyn kills the mercenary. And gets a lousy level.

Florina meets her future husband! Kidding, I actually I ship Hector and Lyn. But Florina and Hector do have a possible ending together. Anyway, Hector is just here waiting for Eliwood and making a cameo in Lynís story. Eliwood is late because heís currently infiltrating a den of assassins singlehandedly to rescue a woman heís never met before just because she looks like she might need help. And yet, somehow, of the two of them itís Hector whoís the more badass. I look forward to adding him to the team.

Sain wastes Heintz and gets another great level. Heís stopped pumping his speed and is now getting spectacular defense instead.

So Lyn and Nils run into the fort looking for Ninian, but sheís already gone! Oh no, weíre too late! But then some guy walks out of a back room carrying her.

The moment Ninian wakes up, Sain jumps in to flirt with her

I beat the level and I unlocked the sidequest. In my opinion, the huge number of secret sidequests to unlock is one of the best aspects of this game. Back when I first started playing, it seemed like every time I played through the game I unlocked a new one. Those were good days.

Melth fucked around with this message at 00:45 on Jun 2, 2015

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Onmi posted:

This is in fact one of the important parts of Lyn Mode. The short of it is that someone I know is working on his "Abridge FE7 and 6 and combine them into one game" and despite me stressing "This is a horrible idea" he's still going ahead with it. One of the key things helping him determine chapters was noting which chapters really couldn't be lost, this being one of them. And yeah in spite of my dismissal of lyn mode this is one chapter that sets up the future plot... even if only minorly. Mind you it's not the only way to do it, but it does its job.

Also thank you for pointing that stuff out about weapons, I of course was only going from knowledge of someone who doesn't run ranked and was just assuming.

To be honest, I completely detest FE6, having played it thoroughly several times. The notion of combining it with FE7 is little short of blasphemous to me.

I prefer to think of FE6 as a shoddily written alternate universe fanfic about a world where Athos understood the weapon triangle, so he killed Nergal 500 years ago with Aureola instead of losing with Forblaze, so the plot of FE7 never happens.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Atomic Spud posted:

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?

No, I will definitely not use the mine glitch. I will also not gate grind or use arenas. I won't abuse the RNG either except on 19x where I will control it to ensure Kishuna doesn't dodge my attacks so I don't need to restart that level 20 times until he dies.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

So here we are, the first sidequest of the game! To explain things for those who donít know, there are numerous sidequest (Sometimes called Ďgaidení) chapters in FE7. Theyíre all secret and only become available if you have fulfilled certain conditions (generally in the immediately preceding chapter). For example, this one is only possible if you completed Chapter 7 in under 15 turns. This makes sense because this level is about chasing down some guys who were getting away during the last level. If you took too long on the last level, they have too much of a headstart.

Some other sidequest requirements later on in the game make much less sense. As a general rule though, they encourage you to play well: complete chapters fast, protect your allied green units, visit every village, donít let your allied green units steal all the XP, etc.
Oh and every sidequest level is numbered ďPrevious chapter number xĒ

Many sidequest chapters are among the hardest in the game. Although itís common practice among people doing max ranking HHM runs to skip chapter 19xx and 32x because those chapters are hard and have 0 turn time limits, I am going to play them all.

The War Room, Part 7

In the War Room Part 6, I explained to you just what is required to get a max ranking in this game. Some of you may have noticed that what I am currently doing in Lynís story does not match up. For example, I've been taking my time and also giving almost all kills to just a few people, which hurts my XP score.

The thing is, Lynís story is ranked entirely separately from Hectorís story. So going slowly now in no way affects my ability to get a max ranking in Hectorís story where I have to move fast at all times.

For some reason, most HHM Ranked Runners these days insist on getting max ranking on Lynís story before Hectorís story, often saying that only by doing this do you truly ĎMax Rank the whole game.Ē However, there are some problems with that position:

Firstly, the game ranks the stories completely separately for a reason. Heck, you don't even need to play Lyn's story at all.

Secondly, it is very nearly impossible to truly complete HHM after max ranking Lyn's story. See, unlocking the true ending of HHM requires playing HHM's most secret sidequests: 19xx, 23x, and 32x. But to unlock 19xx in particular, Nils had to reach level 7 in Lyn's story. Getting Nils to level 7 in Lyn's story requires spending most of 60 turns having him perform, but there isn't that much time available before you lose your Lyn's story tactics max rank.

Now Fionordequester actually developed a clever strategy using chip XP from being attacked to give Nils the boost he needs to juuuuuust reach level 7 before the time limit hits. However, Fionordequester's strategy relied on heavy RN abuse (and the help of a program to see the RNs directly). Furthermore, it ultimately was not successful since even without using the Knight Crest, the funds ranking fell significantly short.

So if you max rank Lynís story without cheating or relying on incredible luck, you cannot get Nils to level 7, so you cannot play every chapter of HHM, so you cannot unlock HHMís true ending, so you have not really beaten HHM at all.

And THAT is why Iím not going to focus on max ranking Lynís story, just on preparing as well as I can for HHM max ranking.

Chapter Summary:

Although Ninian has been rescued, her brother is distraught that a certain magic ring of Ninianís was stolen while she was held captive. The ring was a keepsake from their deceased mother so it has tremendous sentimental value to them. Still, they tell Lyn that the ring isnít worth the danger of facing the Black Fang again. Lyn is never one to turn down an opportunity to kill some people, so when the tactician Market stupidly decides that pursuing a league of assassins into their stronghold just to retrieve a childís keepsake is a good idea, she agrees. They prevail and move on with their journey, somewhat troubled by the fact that the enemy commander killed himself upon being defeated. Just what kind of crazy people are they dealing with?

At the beginning of this chapter we get another cutscene of the enemy talking among themselves deep in their fortress and Ursula makes an early bird appearance chewing out her henchman Beyard for not winning a battle at which he was not present. Ursula is kind of a jerk, like most members of her organization, and believes that even the slightest failures should be punished with death. She warns Beyard that sheíll kill him if he doesnít have Ninian retrieved by tomorrow and then leaves on some errands.

Meanwhile, just outside, Lyn and company prepare to storm the ruined castle in Khathelet that Beyard and company are hiding out in.

Preparations & the Map:

Iíve mentioned before that in a max ranking run, having Matthew the thief steal everything of value from enemies is essential for getting a good funds ranking. In order to do that efficiently, the first thing you should do on every map is check every enemyís inventory and figure out who has stuff you want to take. Then strategize accordingly.

As you may recall from The War Room, part 1, Iím implementing a very tricky strategy in Lynís story to prepare maximally for Hectorís story and to that end, I need all the funds I can get. So Iím going to steal EVERYTHING on this level no matter how low its value.
Iíve circled some people who have valuables that can only be acquired through stealing (which you discover by looking at their inventories:

The thief has a lockpick, thatís worth a whopping 1200 when it has full uses.

Itís time for an emergency meeting in the War Room while I tell you about enemy thieves:

The War Room, Part 8
The AI of each thief on each chapter and every on each difficulty mode is different, but most of them act as follows: First, they will not attack your units. Second, they will steal from your units if you get near them, but they wonít prioritize it. Third, they each have a checklist of doors to unlock and chests to open in some order which typically includes every door on the level and all chests in one area. Fourth, once their mission is complete or becomes impossible (They opened/took everything or you opened/took everything or their lockpicks were taken or you blocked the one hallway to a room they want to get to), they typically run for a staircase or the edge of the map and disappear forever once they get there.

The most recently acquired object in a thiefís inventory is typically dropped on death but none of the others are. This can cause a huge problem if the thief loots a weapon from one chest and then loots something else.

As you may recall me saying, you can steal items, but you can never steal weapons from other people. This means that if a thief gets, say, an iron sword from chest 1 and then a vulnerary from chest 2, you can never acquire that iron sword under any circumstances. Itís lost forever and Iíll probably restart the level and do things differently so that doesnít happen. If he loots the vulnerary first though and then the sword, youíre good to go. See, you can steal the vulnerary from him and then kill him, at which point heíll drop the sword, so you got everything.

So to list a few handy tricks for dealing with these pests:
1) Notice the location of staircases and map edges near chests. Chances are good a thief will emerge from one of these at some point during the level, steal the treasure, and then try to escape. So get to that area fast and be ready to kill or trap him.
2) Donít unlock doors you donít need to unlock when thieves are about. A lot of thieves will stupidly stop their escape after getting some loot to go unlock a door halfway across the map instead. But if you already unlocked it, theyíre just going to leave.
3) Steal their lockpicks quickly. Those things are worth a lot of money and without them the thief canít do anything bad, so theyíll just leave the level. If possible, kill them just after stealing their lockpicks.

Back to Preparations and the Map

The top right mercenary has a vulnerary, thatís worth 300.

The top right cavalier has a vulnerary, another 300.

So does the nearby archer

And the mage in the closed room has a door key worth 50. Iím going to take it all.

Objective: Kill all enemies
Secondary Objective: Get the Hammer from the chest
Secondary Objective: Steal the Lockpick from the thief
Secondary Objective: Steal the Vulnerary from the archer
Secondary Objective: Steal the Vulnerary from the top rightish mercenary
Secondary Objective: Steal the Vulnerary from the top right cavalier
Secondary Objective: Steal the Door Key from the mage
Reinforcements: A mage and a shaman from the stairs near the boss on turn 3 or so.
Units Allowed: Way more than I'll actually bring. On this chapter, more people would just be in the way.
Units Brought:
1) Lyn. Required and I'm still trying to level her a bit more.
2) Sain. Will be doing almost all of the killing to pump his level, as usual.
3) Florina. Has some fighting to do on the left part of the map when Sain is busy.
4) Matthew. Absolutely necessary to steal all the valuable stuff here.
5) Nils. His ability to give people extra turns is incredibly valuable in small-group battles like this, especially where I have lots of extra stuff to do like stealing from enemies before killing them.
6) Dorcas. Thieves in this game can't actually steal items if their inventories are full, so Matthew needs someone to hand his stuff off to. Additionally, Dorcas's brand of incompetence may be helpful in stalling the cavalier without killing it.

The first and trickiest order of business is to break into the treasure room so Matthew can steal the vulnerary from the archer and I can be ready to ambush the enemy thief when he runs in to loot the hammer from the chest. In order to do that, I need to kill the soldier blocking the cracked wall, have Sain smash the cracked wall, have someone take out the nearby brigand so he doesnít bother me, and have Matthew in position to run in to swipe the vulnerary by turn 2. This formation will let me do that easily.

The Characters:

Other than Ursula, whoíll get a proper introduction later, thereís pretty much just Beyard.

"Failure... means death" -Beyard, Chapter 7x

The first mercenary boss since Glass obviously doesnít live up to his predecessorís towering reputation, but heís actually capable of hitting pretty hard with his steel sword.

Fortunately, like most bosses, he just politely stands out of the way until youíre all ready to kill him. Other than being terrified of his boss Ursula, dedicated enough to his organization that he kills himself for failure according to their code, and a reasonably clever man who recognizes that having stolen this ring gives him a good chance to ambush you, we donít learn much about Beyard. Dead men tell no tales.

Playing Through:

The first thing to do is have Sain take down that brigand. Iím still having him use iron lances most of the time because, again, theyíre slightly cheaper.

In order to let Matthew start as close as possible, I had to have Florina start further back. Thus she needed Nils to give her another turn to reach this guy and kill him. Having Matthew start further back and having Nils give him the second turn would also have worked.

Note my seemingly foolhardy positioning. I mean, Sain and Florina and Matthew are all in range of that archer and canít counterattack him. But this is all part of the plan. I need to lure that archer to one of the nearby edges of the room. Youíll notice that no matter who he attacks, heíll then be close enough that Matthew can run up and steal from him.

Oh and meanwhile Dorcas and Lyn run to an out of the way location. That cavalier with the vulnerary is going to come charging their way and I donít want him to fight them (and die) until Matthew is done in the treasure room and ready to steal from him.

Enemy thief unlocks door 1. On turn 2 heíll unlock door 2. If the treasure chest isnít looted and he isnít dead, heíll then loot the chest on turn 3. That done, heíll flee back out the stairs.

The archer shot Florina as expected, Matthew stole his vulnerary, Sain moved in.

Beyard calls for reinforcements. Due to positioning and the chokepoints they can harass you at, the mage and shaman who spawn on the stairs next to him are a bit annoying but no serious trouble.

The thief unlocks door 2. Immediately Matthew steals his lockpick. Lockpick theft is always amusing to me.

See that cavalier on the right? Heís charging in and heís got a vulnerary, so I need Matthew to get back there quick. So after stealing the lockpick, Nils letís Matthew run south and then Sain kills the thief. (Thieves give nice XP, btw)

My plan works as intended. The cavalier canít quite reach anyone, so heíll just keep closing in. Matthew can then step 1 south and steal from him, Nils can run 5 south and give Matthew another turn with which to get out of the way, and then Lyn can slay him.

And with that, the tricky part of the level is over and itís now just mop up.

Here, Dorcas, have 2000 gold worth of junk

I havenít talked much about the various classes in the game; there's not a ton of interesting stuff to say. Illustrated here though is the famously high Pegasus rider resistance to magic. Due to this, huge movement, and the ability to use javelins, Pegasus riders are among the best anti-mages in the party.

UhÖ Sain has been fighting this brigand for 3 whole turns now and gets 2 attacks per fight with his iron lance. This brigand has dodged 11/12 attacks. Fortunately, Sain has been dodging decently too.

The brigand finally bites the dust and I easily stole the door key from the mage, so I set my trap for this last guy. When he attacks Dorcas, Matthew is ready to steal from him and then Sain rides in for the kill.

Iím rich! Time for a Nils training montage!

Pretty good. As I mentioned, Nilsí high speed and luck and solid defenses make him quite durable when you need him to be.

Shoulda thought of that before you stood in the corner for 30 turns while Nils leveled up and Sain sharpened his lance.

Sain continues to amaze.

I can think of only one other time in the whole story where Lyn ever shows mercy to anyone. Sheís kind of ruthless really, especially when compared with the gentle Eliwood. Or even Hector. Hector at least acknowledges that solving all his problems with violence is something of a character flaw and vows to change.

Lyn does kind of redeem herself with moments like this or with her grandfather where she shows that though she might be rather unashamedly violent, she does care about other people.

Alright, sidequest over, on with toppling Lundgren!

Melth fucked around with this message at 01:46 on Jun 2, 2015

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Onmi posted:

No this is the opposite, in FE6 magic tomes are actually light enough that your units Con doesn't matter, while in FE7 and 8 they're ridiculously heavy books. I'm not sure about the Con but I never saw a problem with it in FE6.

But in short, FE7 is not a prequel to FE6, I mean it IS but it isn't because FE7 doesn't have anything to do with FE6, It is the FE2 to FE6's Shadow Dragon... literally in that case FE6 is essentially the first 'Remake' of FE1 and in my opinion does it better than FE11 did it. FE7s only claim to prequel ness is "Stars some of the same guys and one-shot NPCs from FE6, and you occassionally run into references to past FE6 things."

At the same time, FE7 doesn't preclude FE6 happening, nothing Nergal or the Fang wind up doing would prevent FE6 from happening as it does. Unless you get really upset that Hector died to Bern's army because of your particular God Hector. It is a Gaiden, a Side Story. Though another thing to respond to is that I think it was always planned, rather than released as a response to Roy's popularity.

For example, Eliwood and Hector in FE6, despite being Trial map characters only, have Affinities, and the only characters with affinities are playable characters... and those intended to be playable. So Brunya, Narcien and Zephiel are all affinityless, while Hector, Eliwood, Gale and Guinevere (The latter two who were intended to be playable and then weren't.) have affinities.

So either Hector and Eliwood were intended to be playable at some time in FE6's development or they always knew they were doing a prequel.

But here's the thing, FE7 didn't have to lead into FE6. FE6 established its lead-in well enough in game, detailing the events that lead to what would happen. FE7 takes place before any of those formative events, because it's 20 years ago. While you get to meet parents like Pent and Rebecca and Nino, the fact is they didn't have to be there, and there's no baring on either plot, besides the fact that FE7 had to be low key because history didn't record it. FE7 is fine being its own thing. And FE6 was fine being its own thing. And nothing happens in either game that says "The other game can't happen!"

Mm, I'm going to have to disagree here. FE7's plot changed things, most particularly it changed people.

Yeah, people ranting about Hector getting killed by wyvern riders just because their particular Hector was great is totally silly. But they're touching upon a much better point: Hector is not a normal person after FE7 and would not have lived a normal person's life or have died a normal person's death. Eliwood too.

Think about it. These guys held the legendary weapons in their hands and wielded the greatest power their world has ever known in battle. They actually met 3 of the 8 legends face to face and talked with them or even argued with them and won. No seriously, think about that. They met the 8 legends, the most famous and amazing people in history, as equals or close to it. They fought a dragon. In hand to hand combat. And not one of those little 'war dragons' either, no they fought the equivalent of Yahn/Jahn. One of them might have married a dragon. They met great lords and nobles and prominent people from every country on the continent. They're veterans of dozens of ferocious battles.

And you know what? There's no reason to keep ANY of this secret and they don't. They told Uther, they told Eleanora, they told loads of people. The only reason they didn't tell more during the story was that they didn't have much proof during the story. I mean, they out and out said in Kinship's Bond that the ideal thing to do would be just tell the world and immediately forge a grand alliance to take down Nergal. The only reason they don't go with this plan is that it's unlikely to be believed at the moment. But they could have hauled back any proof they wanted from the Dragon's Gate. And they had the legendary weapons. And Athos's existence was apparently known about in many countries. As a known student of his, Pent could totally confirm their story. As could all the other respectable people with them.

It's also not like they would want to cover up the truth for any reason. It doesn't make them look bad, it makes them look like heroes. No one else has the capability to do what Nergal did, so it's not like they would keep silent in order to prevent another threat like him. And it's not like they could inadvertently reveal the existence of Arcadia or something else they want to keep hidden because none of them except maybe Pent and definitely Hawkeye actually went there. Remember, Eliwood and company are shocked in 29 when Athos tells them about the place, so clearly Athos's house is not in Arcadia.

In short, they would tell the world and the notion that no one would know about this come FE6 is absolutely absurd.

Even if, for some reason, they did keep the events of FE7 mostly secret, you can bet that Roy and Lilina would have grown up on stories of fighting dragons, meeting Athos, and the possibility of peace between man and dragon. But instead FE6 would have us believe they'd never heard of any of this.

Also, what the hell are the legendary weapons doing back in their shrines as if they'd never been touched? Ok, we can pretend that Eliwood would have returned Durandal and Hector would have returned Armads even though there is absolutely no reason to do so, but Athos and Athos alone knew where Forblaze and Aureola had come from and he's dead.

Athos is another point to bring up. No one in FE6 talks like the man only died 20 years ago. People in Arcadia would have known him. Sophia is shown to be ON VALOR in FE7 looking for him to give him some item.

Although I could go on for quite a while, I'll just conclude with the Bern royal family. In FE7, Murdock realizes that the king tried to assassinate Zephiel and is outraged. Do you really think he'd be so idiotic as to let Desmond do it again? In FE7 we see that Zephiel and Guinevere love each other more than anything. Do you really think Guinevere would betray him the instant he attacked Lycia when Zephiel insisted he had a good reason? At the end of the Bern Arc, Hellene gives a rather touching speech to Zephiel about how precious he is to her and how she's going to ensure their shattered family ends up back together. FE7 ends with it looking quite likely they'll eventually put aside their differences and get along. Also, Zephiel knows that the people sent to assassinate him actually decided to spare his life. And that a band of complete strangers laid their lives on the line to protect him when he was helpless. Heck, Eliwood and Hector et. al. can actually talk to him. Even if we assume that didn't happen, his mother knew the complete truth which is why she helps you. As did Murdock which is again why he helps you. So Zephiel would surely have found out.
In FE6, Zephiel's whole motive is that he thinks humanity is evil and worthless and that there are no good people because his upbringing was horrible, but his life experiences in FE7 showed him that in fact jerks like his father are an aberration and the world is full of decent and even heroic people. So for Zephiel to go into FE6 with the attitude he has if FE7 happens in the same timeline makes him absolutely ridiculous.

Oh and to return to Hector. Hector saved Zephiel's life. Like, in person. Do you really think that wouldn't have come up between them when they talk face to face?

I'm just scratching the surface here. But in short I will stand by my previous statement: FE6 and FE7 do not, in fact, make sense in the same timeline.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Ah, chapter 8. Despite the ominous title, itís actually fairly straightforward. But this is a key turning point in the plot. And though itís a little too simple in terms of gameplay, I think itís one of my favorites in terms of story and character development.

Chapter Summary:
Lyn and company have at last reached the borders of Caelin. However, Caelin forces loyal to Lundgren are waiting for them on the border. At the end of this fratricidal battle, Matthew returns from sniffing around for information and reveals that Lord Lundgren has been poisoning the Marquess and has killed or jailed or silenced all his political opponents. Whatís more, heís spread a believable official story that Lyn is merely a pretender to the throne, a lookalike dug up by Sain and Kent as a pretext for seizing power. This is why many soldiers loyal to Caelin are fighting against Lyn. Lundgren is asking his neighbors for their support in putting down this attempted usurpation and thereís no way Lynís small band can take on the forces of so many cities at once alone. So they hurry back to Khathelet to find Eliwood and ask him for his diplomatic help afterall.

We really have come a long way. Lyn is not the person who set out with Market to hone her swordfighting skills months ago. Sheís become a much more formidable warrior for starters, but thereís more than that. Back then she was driven by having lost her family, now what matters is that sheís found a new one. And sheís not going to lose this one. Back then she could barely take care of herself. Now sheís leading a sizable band of soldiers on a rather dangerous campaign to topple the ruler of a small country and sheís taken all sorts of people in need of help under her wing.
In 10 chapters thereís been quite a lot of story and quite a lot of development. And things are building up to a pretty awesome ending.


I thought about giving a little War Room section to ballistae, but they donít deserve that. As you can see, ballistae are wholly ineffective even in cutscenes.

For those totally unfamiliar with them, FE7 ballistae are basically giant cars that archers get in and drive around. While driving one (which prevents you from moving into woods or anything) they can be used like a bow with 5 shots and huge (3-10) range. However, their Might is only 8 (so 2 better than a measly iron bow) and their Hit is a low 70 and the things have a mind-blowing Weight of 20 which means if youíre using one, everyone and everything double attacks you and you canít dodge for your life.

This is not to mention that, just as normal magic is pretty much always better than normal bows, the super-long range magic weíll see later is pretty much always better than ballistae.

In short, even if archers were good, ballistae would still be unimpressive. But archers are terrible. On top of that, theyíre really rare and appear on only a few maps. At worst theyíre kind of a nuisance to your flyers since that 8 Might gets doubled to a fairly significant 16. But still, no big deal.

Sain and Kent quickly explain how you deal with ballistae to Lyn, who has apparently never heard of them. Once again, Sain shows himself to be a good deal cleverer than one might expect.

Battle Preparations & the Map

Matthew will not be joining us this level (just as well, thereís nothing to steal). Instead heíll be running off to town to buy the strategy guide uncover Lundgrenís true plot. Because this is a game put together by nice people who think of these things, youíre given an opportunity to take any stuff heís carrying and give it to your other characters before he leaves if you want.

So hereís the map. The only 2 complications are the ballista and that loads of these enemies are using XReaver weapons. For those of you who didnít read The War Room Part 3, these are weapons which reverse the normal rock-paper-scissors rules of the game and double the bonuses conferred. Plus they have pretty solid stats. The boss, for example, has an Axereaver which means that unlike most Knights Ė who are vulnerable to axes but strong vs swords- Lyn has a huge advantage against him. You get your very own Lancereaver from that top right village, but itís far too expensive to use.

The Characters:
No new characters or anything, so thereís just the boss.

ďWhatís going on here!? Somebody get that girl!Ē ĖYogi, Chapter 8

Apparently incapable of recognizing defeat when he sees it, Yogi is the first enemy you fight who is actually a soldier of Caelin. Remember, all of Lundgrenís men up till now have been hired thugs and assassins and mercenaries. If it had been Caelin soldiers attacking you in Araphen, that would have caused a pretty serious diplomatic incident or perhaps a war.

Anyway, until after heís been slain and Matthew returns we donít know why the soldiers of Caelin are siding with Lundgren. Itís quite possible that this man honestly believes the story that Lyn is a pretender to the throne and thinks heís fighting to save his country. It IS a fairly plausible lie afterall. Unfortunately for him, heís a pretty cruddy fighter so he dies a confused- but arguably heroic- death.

Playing Through:

Thereís an armory here where I pick up a spare iron lance to trade to Florina later since hers is getting pretty worn out.

Sain moves down to the chokepoint. Heíll advance south and kill most of the enemies on this level while Florina and Lyn take out the top ones. The ballista is too far away for Florina to reach on her own, but with an extra move from Nils she can do it. The trouble is that will give the cavaliers and archers in the area a shot at her. They wonít kill her but she wonít kill them either despite double-attacking the cavaliers, which wastes a bit of money. Oh well, I want that ballista to stop shooting.

People on ballistae are sitting ducks. Florina nets a decent level. I really need some more strength or defense on her though.

She failed to dodge anything, so she was injured terribly and I have to pull her out. The trouble is the second archer could step up and shoot her with the ballista. But with a little help from Nils, I can evac her out of even its considerable range. Then when the cavaliers are gone she can come back with his help and kill this last archer.

Thatís like a strategy.

This guyís damage output isÖ insain.

Cavaliers done, Florina double moves back with Nilsí help to kill the second ballistician.

Lyn continues her grand tradition of never dodging anything. Sheís kinda lower level than I planned on because she keeps getting badly injured early in levels and I canít heal her, so I always have to pull her back and let Sain do the work. The true chance of getting hit this time was 8.2% ( or look at the War Room, part 4 to learn why)

This guy down here is one of the original cavaliers. After getting injured by Florina he ran down here and cowered for the rest of the level. I THINK heís trying to get onto a fort to heal, but heís not using one of the open ones for some reason.

Did you see how far away Lyn was in the last screen-cap? Courtesy of Nils and Florina, now sheís about to be dumped right near the boss (and she could have been even closer). Rescue dropping is very handy. In this case I wonít actually drop her since sheís too badly injured, but I wanted to point out that she can be dumped into the river. As mentioned in War Room, part 2, only Lords can go through rivers and they do so at terrible speed (it uses up their whole movement). But as you can see, you can drop a unit into any terrain type that unit can go into at all with equal ease. So rescue-dropping (even with non-air units) can help you get across rough terrain in a hurry. That will be useful later as youíll see.

This is the first 0% hit chance weíve seen all game. Sain is very fast, on a fortress, and facing a guy with a swordreaver. As mentioned, Swordreavers have doubled weapon triangle disadvantage vs axes so the guy is taking a whopping -30 penalty to hit on top of the fortress -20, Sainís high dodge, the swordreaverís low base hit, and his own cruddy skill.

SoÖ Sainís speed is now equal to his strength. This is CRAZY.

Level over. It was Ninian and Nilís prescience with regard to danger that supposedly helped Lyn dodge that initial ballista bolt. Of course, we all know it would have either missed her anyway or hit for tiny damage.

Talking about the battle, Kent reacts with his usual stoic calm, but is appropriately torn up about having had to kill men he knew in that last battle.

Sain deals with the same sort of guilt by trying to rationalize away the fallen as totally deserving it. I really like this scene, it does a pretty good job of capturing some of the different ways people deal with having to kill in war.

And then Matthew returns, congratulates you, and explains that the marquess is dying because of poison, not real illness.

Another great scene, Lyn is infuriated that Lundgren is being allowed to get away with killing his brother for the throne when so many people are sure heís to blame.

And thatís so often the truth of it. Terrible wrongs donít happen because there are a lot of Lundgrens around; they happen because of the ignorance or cowardice or laziness of otherwise decent people.

The plot thickens as Matthew reveals the official story Lundgren is spreading and Lyn realizes itís actually really hard to dispute.

Next time: Eliwood saves the day! Again!

Melth fucked around with this message at 22:34 on Jun 6, 2015

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Ah, 9, a chapter of many firsts. Itís the first Fog of War chapter (sort of, more on that later). Itís the first level with a promoted enemy. And itís the first with a boss who very definitely does not deserve for Lyn and company to leave him in a pool of his own blood.

Chapter Summary:
Eliwood, a shrewd diplomat, saves Lyn and her merry band by convincing all the local Lycian cities to remain neutral instead of helping Lundgren. As part of the agreement, he canít help her directly, but he doesnít need to now since Lundgren doesnít have many loyal forces available. So Lyn hurries back to Caelin, passing through the fief of one General Eagler. Lundgrenís machinations force Eagler to try to stop them, at the cost of his own life, even though he knows them to be innocent of the charges leveled against them. Lundgren has also sent another old Caelin officer to capture Lyn, apparently counting on the manís stubbornness and tendency to strike first and ask questions never, but this one turns his coat and joins her cause, sealing Lundgrenís defeat.

This may be the first time we hear Eliwoodís lovely leitmotif, One Heart.

Wallace ambushes the group and says heís there to capture Lyn. The cloud of testosterone as Kent, Sain, and Wallace all bluster at each other becomes so thick as to cover the map in Fog of War.

A pair of guys like Sain and Wallace would probably have gone on for most of an hour boasting about how the other has no chance if Lyn hadnít interrupted them.

And he likes her eyes so he joins up.

Battle Preparations & The Map

There isnít actually much to do in the way of preparations. I leave all my junk units behind except for Kent. You see, Eagler has some unique dialogue if he attacks Kent which Iíd like to see.

Count Ďem up, only 5 enemies + the boss on this map. As you would expect, itís not that simple. Youíll fight approximately 20 reinforcements coming out of the various forts. That forts are possible enemy spawnpoints is a consideration to bear in mind for the rest of the game.

The only other complication is that a couple of turns in, fog settles in and cloaks the map. On this level that doesnít really hurt much since thereís so few enemies and you know where theyíre coming from, but it will be more of a problem later on.


ďHa ha ha haaaa! Look! A giant walks among you!! My defense is impenetrable! Come! Break your weapons against me!Ē ĖWallace, Chapter 9 Normal Mode Only

The first character to join the group in a long while and the last in Lynís story, Wallace basically just joins up to be a living example of the power of promoted units for new players going through on Normal difficulty. An old general of Caelinís rather pathetic army, heíd retired and become a farmer until this crisis began and Lundgren called him back to service.
Heís loud, proud, and has vowed to put down the plow till the enemies of Caelin are broken and cowed.
Honestly Iím surprised he doesnít talk in all caps. There isnít much to him other than loudly boasting about his combat skill and laughing uproariously at his boasts about his combat skill. His reason for joining your group is stupid, his reason for doing pretty much everything else is stupid, he apparently is so dumb that he wanders into the wrong country every time he tries to travel anywhere, and he more or less pops up for no reason and hijacks the spotlight as often as he can. Iím not really fond of him.

Wallace basically doesnít exist. He joins at the very end of Lynís story, then vanishes until very late in Eliwood or Hectorís story. Or possibly heís never seen again. If you take the route Iím going for, heís never seen again. Statistically he actually shapes up decently compared to Oswin of the same level, but is slightly worse overall. Inferior stats + greatly inferior availability means heís terrible compared to Oswin. And Iím not, honestly, that fond of Oswin anyway.

ďGoÖ Go quicklyÖ PleaseÖ for the marquessÖ for all of Caelin.Ē ĖGeneral Eagler, Chapter 9

Kent and Sainís teacher and a man both of them respect, Eagler is the general of Caelinís forces. The people of his fiefdom are quite fond of him and itís made clear that the only reason heís fighting you is that Lundgren has some of his friends or family hostage. Sadly, we never find out just who those people were or whether Lundgren actually left them alive or not. Itís clear that Lundgren had a spy watching Eagler even during the fight since he makes sure to loudly repeat that he will not let you pass and that youíre definitely just pretenders to the throne. Lyn, apparently, does not even consider just taking some different route into Caelin and sparing this poor man. As Iíve said before, she really has no qualms about killing people under any circumstances as long as itís convenient for her.

General Eagler is the first promoted enemy you fight and he is BAD. This guyís stats are nearly as terrible as Jeiganís in FE1. Worse in some ways. His only real asset is fairly solid defense, but youíve been fighting lots of Knights and the strategies that work on them work on him. The game wants you to crush him with Wallace, but you can just as easily run him over with a decent level Lyn or Sain or Kent as long as you trick him into equipping the wrong weapon before you attack.

Playing Through:

First things first, got to visit that village and grab the torch. Torches are excellent items in real fog of war chapters, but Iíll talk about that when I have a real fog of war chapter to deal with. More importantly for me, theyíre worth 100 gold per use, so I am NOT using this one.

Remember the conversations about why the commoners arenít taking down Lundgren in the last chapter and how Kent explained itís because theyíre afraid? Now that you guys are actually here and itís clear you have an actual chance, they start handing you gifts and wishing you luck taking Lundgren down left and right. It reminds me of something Boromir said, ďValour needs first strength, and then a weapon.Ē The commoners arenít cowards, but they know they donít have the means to fight Lundgren on their own. But when the means to get rid of him are presented in the form of Lynís company, they show their courage by risking his reprisals to help out.
This is just so often the way things really are, you know?

With that, the battle is joined.

Lyn nets another excellent level. Sheís turned out quite well. Itís a shame I wonít be able to use her much in Hector mode.

While Lyn holds the south against the swarms of Brigands, Sain does a quick raid against the enemies I can see up north before the fog sets in. As you can see, fog of war does not hide terrain but it does conceal enemies. For example, there is a soldier 4 squares to Sainís left, but he doesnít appear on the map at the moment because Sainís vision range is only 3 squares.

People get into their defensive positions to hold the line till the reinforcements stop. Lynís Mani Katti is running low, but by my calculations she will probably take down every reinforcement with one use of it left.
Youíll note I donít do things like try to block off the chokepoints and whatnot because first there arenít really many good ones on this map and second thereís no need. Enemies will always attack people in range this turn, never charge past them in hopes of hitting someone weaker next turn. So I just keep Lyn and Sain well away from the people I donít want fighting and the AI does my defensive walling for me.

Solid and much less crazy. Sain killed a LOT of guys to get that level.

He just finished killing something like 4 guys last turn alone and there are still plenty more. This from a map where there were only 5 starting enemies.

Alright, well the sword of legend is broken and unusable, but it served its purpose. I killed a lot of enemies with it and since it was free, that means I saved something on the order of 500 gold with it. And Lyn got to decent level

The enemy reinforcements destroyed, I start advancing and Sain visits that house you might have noticed. The villagers sadly comment that Eagler is a good man and doesnít really support Lundgren.

Because of Lyn, mostly. We could have just gone around Eaglerís estate. And Kent and Sain I guess, they could have just suggested a different route to begin with.

Wallace joins with some solid gear including a Knight Crest. This is the only promotion item in Lynís story and the first weíve seen. For those who donít know how this works, every unit in FE7 can get to up to level 20 in its class. (Almost) every class has an item which allows those units to Ďpromoteí, instantly becoming significantly stronger and gaining the ability to get to level 20 in their new class. So ultimately a unit could gain as many as 38 levels (start at level 1, rise to level 20, promote to level 1 of better class, then rise to level 20). Units who have done this are generally referred to as level 20/20. Youíre allowed to promote a unit as early as level 10 in its base class, but doing so is often a bad idea because thatís 10 fewer total levels you can gain, so your final stats will inevitably be lower.

Most later titles let you promote units much more flexibly. In FE9, for example, your units promoted automatically when they got beyond level 20 in their base class. In Awakening you could promote and demote your units pretty freely and even have them change class to a completely different sort of unit and level up as one of those.

Iím generally fondest of 6, 7, and 8ís system though. If anything, I think 7 was too generous and they should have given you fewer promotion items over the course of the story. Limited promotion items of any given type made you make interesting choices. That required strategic thinking.

Holy cow, I thought the level was over but suddenly a brigand jumps out of the fog and attacks Nils while every else is far away.

A rescue drop of Sain solves the problem quickly enough. Itís a good thing Nils dodges so well.

As I mentioned, Eagler is the first boss to have unique dialogue with different characters. Some of these are really good stuff. Unfortunately, you canít discover most such dialogue on most runs because it only comes up when you fight the boss and chances are not all of the characters with special dialogue are strong enough to survive a round of fighting. Eagler is so weak that thatís not a problem though.

Here he kind of implies in his conversation with Kent that if the two of them had just thought to bring something that proves Lyn is who she says she is, this whole disaster would have been prevented. Oops.

Sain has much less patience than Kent and just points out that he and his friend were only doing what the true Marquess told them to.

And his generic line of dialogue for people he doesnít know.

It took Sain 5 rounds to kill Eagler. They just kept missing each other repeatedly

No words to describe it. They should have sent a poet. So beautiful.

Yeah, NOW she asks about that.

And Sain and Kent explain that he was their friend and teacher and Lundgren must have been twisting his arm. Lyn rightly becomes angry with Lundgren for doing something so vile, but doesnít even stop to consider that she could have just not had the man killed.

And thatís the level! Now for one last enemy cutscene.

Lundgren doesnít know that his neighbors are not going to send troops and that Wallace has changed sides, so heís sure Lyn is finally done for and decides to reveal the truth to his dying brother.

And while heís admitting to murder, attempted murder, and treason he decides to throw in some petty insults too!

There must be some sort of unpleasant history between these two, but sadly we never really learn it because Lundgren only has one level left to live.

Melth fucked around with this message at 23:01 on Jun 6, 2015

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Midnight Raider posted:

Your description of Wallace isn't entirely accurate if you take into account some of his support conversations, particularly all of Lyn's. I'm not sure if you just hadn't read them, or are playing things close to the vest.

Eh, sort of. He still has most of a year of being lost to account for. And their C support is mostly just more of his loud and ridiculous boasting about supposedly running multiple laps around the whole realm wearing his armor (Conservative estimate, about 180 miles per lap). I am indeed rather fond of their A support, but almost everyone else's supports are pretty great and that's nearly his only good one.

And then in his epilogue he somehow gets so lost on the way to Caelin that he ends up in Ilia, on the opposite side of the continent from his starting position, and has no choice but to settle down there. As I've remarked before, I don't much like the characters who are all joke or almost all joke, like Serra and Wallace. Or... pretty much everyone in Awakening.

Manatee Cannon posted:

The sprite work has always been better than the 3D stuff, it's such a bummer they stopped doing it. At least in Awakening they finally got the animations down, but the designs were pretty bad for the models.

Although I will acknowledge that 6-8 animations were occasionally ridiculous (knights appear to be giant spheres of armor with huge breastplates that they apparently remove and use as shields for example), I agree with you that they were generally better than the titles afterward.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Here we go, the final battle of Lynís story! Spears shall be shaken; shields shall be splintered!

Chapter Summary:
Lundgrenís forces are depleted, his allies have deserted him, and Lynís warrior band is stronger than ever with the addition of Wallace. Lundgren himself is formidable, but the real enemy now is time. Will Marquess Caelin still be alive when Lyn finds him or has her whole journey been for naught?

I find it interesting to note that even now when she knows about all his crimes against his brother and his people, Lyn is still not waging this battle to stop Lundgren. All that matters to her is that she be reunited with the only family she has left. Thatís what this whole journey has been about since Bulgar.

Battle Preparations & the Map:

Thereís not much to say or do here. Thereís no limit to the number of characters you can bring to this chapter and there are no enemies in the wrong place who could attack someone with an expensive weapon, so thereís no reason not to just bring everyone.

I did, however thoroughly check the numbers on my total assets to make sure I have as much as I need. Hearkening back to The War Room, Part 1, you may recall me explaining why I was choosing to focus so heavily on Sain and on saving money. My goal is to functionally save 10,000 in Hectorís story by promoting Sain now, to make Florina much more viable by giving her several levels and the angelic robe, and to still boost my Hectorís story funds by a further 20,000 by ending Lynís story with 32,000 or more in assets so that she rejoins with a White Gem.
In order for this to work, the magic number of assets I need to have before using the Knight Crest (worth 10,000) and the Angelic Robe (worth 8,000) is 50,000. If I have < 50,000 then Iíll need to either not promote Sain or not give Florina +7 HP or to say the hell with it and give Florina the Energy Ring too and give up on the White Gem entirely.

Drumroll pleaseÖ

51,739! Victory! As long as I spend less than 1739 gold on weapons and vulneraries and whatnot used up this level, Iíve accomplished all my goals!

Here it is, the biggest map of Lynís story. Although itís large and full of rough terrain there are really no surprises here except the weather. Every couple of turns it will start to rain, which roughly halves everyoneís movement speed. Then 2 turns later it will switch back to sun again.
Oh and some decently strong cavaliers spawn from that fortress in the bottom left one at a time.

If I was trying to beat this chapter fast or very inexpensively (For example, if I had 50,300 or something funds), I would have positioned everyone completely differently and used Florina and Nils to dump Sain southwest of the top left fortress on turn 1 with a lance equipped. Heíd immediately kill the knight and could then attack Lundgren on turn 2, kill him by 4 or 5, and then stand on the cavalier spawn point (the cavaliers spawn even if Lundgren dies). Then Florina can run back and grab Lyn while Nils blocks the bridge. Florina can ninja into the village from the south for the energy ring after eating the angelic robe on the way and Sain can use the Knight Crest just before Lyn beats the level. That is the best cost-saving way to approach it if youíre really short on funds. If even that isnít going to be enough, Promote Sain early and give him an iron axe on turn 1 and then rescue drop him and have him fight with that. Heíll win in fewer hits with a cheaper weapon.
My first try of this strategy some months ago came down to +8 gold, so you can see Iíve gotten better at saving funds on my second run through.

But Iíve got plenty of funds, so Iím going to take it slow and just feed every enemy to Sain as I slowly walk down.


A minor character indeed, I donít even remember him making an appearance next time you have some adventures in Caelin. He also happens to look the same as a man of similar status in Santuruz next year.

He was one of those faithful retainers who Lundgren had imprisoned, but now that Lundgren is gone heís been freed and he immediately starts helping Lyn.

ďThe royal house of Caelin has no need of a Sacaean mongrel!Ē ĖLungren, Chapter 10

Here he is at last, the architect of all Lynís troubles and the second biggest twerp in the game after Marquess Araphen.

Lundgren is one of my favorite characters in the whole series. Heís a credible, interesting, cool, but despicable villain. You can understand his motives and his schemes and you can see where they went wrong for him. And he looks awesome. His battle sprite has my favorite color scheme of any knight or general I can think of, as youíll see later.

You could really tell a lot of good, 10 chapter Fire Emblem stories about characters going up against petty, locally powerful villains like Lundgren who donít have world-destroying schemes or power. And they would probably be more interesting and engaging than a lot of the bloated, globe-trotting tales of a bland hero liberating every country in the world from the invincible army of an evil king and then fighting a dragon which this series is littered with.

Now how is my favorite villain in battle?

His weapons are seriously good and his stats are high enough that only a few characters have a chance against him. Generally they are Wallace, Sain, Kent, and Dorcas. And the latter 3 only if theyíre very well leveled or wielding anti-knight weapons. The Hammer from 7x in particular will reduce Lundgren to pulp in seconds. Even an un-leveled Dorcas could beat Lundgren with that monstrosity if he had the weapon ranking to wield it.
All in all, I think heís an appropriately strong final boss for a tutorial. Heíll wreck you if you donít know what youíre doing, but heíll crumple like aluminum foil if you hit him with any kind of solid tactics.

But itíll be many turns till I reach him, and Sain has a bunch of people to eat on the way.

Playing Through:

Sain runs over the nearby enemies and gains another fantastic level. Classic my Sain.

Itís mostly Nils and Sain handling everything with a few others just walking along behind, so Nils gets his 7th and final level-up. 19xx here I come!

Halfway through the chapter, the second rainstorm begins. You can see it divides Sainís functional movement by about 3. Moving over houses, armories, bridges, etc. is full speed through. Infantry movement is just halved or so instead. Same for nomads I think, but I didnít bother checking. Rain and snow are nuisances, but theyíre really rare.

Florina checks out the vendor. This is the only time in the story you can buy or acquire a second Lightning tome for Lucius, which makes him rather hard to train beyond the first few levels.

And hereís the armory, specializing in anti-knight weapons. Of the three, the Hammer is pretty unambiguously the best. For one thing, the way super-effective weapons work means that high Might is what you really want on them. For another, knights and generals really struggle against axes but have countermeasures for swords and lances. Sain doesnít need any of this of course.

And a few easy kills later, Iím fighting Lundgren. Remember how he had both a silver lance and a javelin? Well even in the hands of a fairy weak enemy like Lundgren, Silver Lances dish out ferocious damage, so you want to keep Lundgren using his Javelin whenever possible. Also look at his awesome violet and gold armor.

Sain rejects Lundgrenís admittedly pretty generous offer. He could almost certainly have become a general and Lundgrenís second in command, but he values his friendship with Kent and Lyn more.

The stubborn fool doesnít even hear Lundgren out.

Lyn puts on her rarely seen angry face. Other than that, this is pretty much her standard attitude toward people in her way. Youíll notice sheís unarmed. This is partly so that Lundgren will definitely attack her rather than Sain and therefore keep his useless javelin equipped and partly so that he wonít enjoy a weapon triangle advantage.

I pledged to do no gate grinding, so I attacked Lundgren full tilt with Sain until his iron lance broke. Lundgren got fairly lucky and dodged quite a few attacks, so the fight went on longer than it should have.

Oh and a pretty sweet level, though nothing unusual.

Thatís a wrap for Lundgren.

Holy cow. Best. Sain. Ever. He really rewarded the trust I put in him by focusing so heavily on him. Take it from me though, even an average Sain is pretty great and worth a serious investment.

Florina eats the angelic robe.

And Sain promotes! Heís about 5 seconds from slamming into his caps for Strength and Speed.

The level is over once Lyn steps onto the gate, now the storyís ending begins.

The sprites and portraits in this game really have a lot of personality. And this scene gets me every time. Partly itís the unique little tune that plays here and only here:

Undoubtably my favorite painting in the game, I think it really captures how emotional their meeting is perfectly.

And then this:
You canít really appreciate this game just reading the script somewhere or looking at a few screenshots, the ensemble of the art and the music and the dialogue and the experience of having shared some of the difficulty of the protagonistís journey is what really gives it its power. If you havenít played this game, do yourself a favor and do so sometime. Itís not perfect, but itís definitely a worthwhile experience.

Leaving her grandfather to his physician, Lyn returns to her waiting troops.

Some will stay and some will go. Some might never be seen again. Wallace for one.

But not Market.

In Conclusion
As if the main theme wasnít great enough, we get this arrangement throughout the epilogue- same as weíll hear weeks from now when Hectorís story is finished as well.

Certainly not me, little though I used him.

Ninety-six kills. I hope he at least washed off the gore before going back to flirt with the local ladies.
My Sain vs Average: -.4 HP, +.2 Str, +1.7 Skil, +4.8 Spd, -2.3 Luck, +1.4 Def, +.4 Res. Net +5.8 compared to average and extremely well-distributed. One can only dream of Sains like this normally.

Ugh. Itís like her only personality traits are codependence and misandryÖ
But she turned out well:
My Florina vs Average: -.6 HP, +.6 Str, +1 Skill, +1.7 Speed, -1 Luck, -.9 Def, +.9 Res. Net +1.7 over averages, not huge but itís well distributed for her benefit.

Throughout the epilogue, all the great paintings from the story are shown along with a few new ones.

For example, hereís Lyn about to wreck Lundgren with a little help from Lucius, Matthew, and Wallace. Of the 4 of them, only Wallace belongs anywhere near that silver lance.

I keep telling you, man, that Raven is no good for you!

My Lyn vs Average: +.8 HP, +.6 Str, -.6 Skill, -.6 Spd, +1.7 Lck, +1.8 Def, +2.2 Res. Net +5.9 over averages. If Sain wasnít even crazier, weíd have been raving about this Lyn non-stop. She actually was luckier than him overall, it just doesnít matter because she sucks regardless and the luck wasnít in the best possible areas like his was. All in all though, these guys all shaped up great.

Well thatís that for Lynís story. Itís really, really easy and that can make the actual levels boring as people have pointed out, but I, for one, have never stopped enjoying it overall. I have pointed out numerous flaws and questionable design choices along the way, but I think Iíve also made a good case that this is still one of the better done parts of any FE game. The dialogue is generally top-notch, the art has a level of character and attention to detail that one rarely sees even in modern games with far better graphics, the music is beautiful, and the story told is interesting, well-written, and self-contained while still tying in to the rest of the game. And the ending is very satisfying

The War Room, Part 9:
Surprise! Weíre not done here just yet.

A great run of HHM starts with a well-thought out run of Lynís hard mode, so I'm going to talk about how to evaluate your Lyn's mode playthrough in preparation for HHM.

Let me lay out for you the goals I had in mind in Lynís story and how I accomplished them. As you prepare for your own runs, figure out what your own goals are and only use my strategies exactly if our goals are exactly the same:

1) Play ALL of Hectorís Hard Mode. If you wish to do every single level of HHM, then you MUST get Nils to level 7 in Lynís story. This means you must spend at least 60 turns grinding him up. As I outlined in The War Room Part 7, this basically means you cannot max rank Lyn's story.
2) Play Ďfairlyí. This means no gate-grinding to get infinite XP from Lundgren or Eagler, no using the Ďmine glitchí (itís possible without mines), and no abusing the RNG to get perfect level-ups.
3) Play Linusís version of Four-Fanged Offense. I strongly prefer that version myself, but if you like Lloydís then be my guest and prep for that one instead. In that case you may wish to consider keeping Lyn level 2 and giving someone else you like her XP instead.
4) Make max ranking Tactics easier in HHM by powering up characters who make winning levels fast easy. That mostly means at least one of the cavaliers and definitely Florina.
5) Make max ranking Funds easier in HHM by promoting someone good in Lynís story so that they donít need to be promoted in Hectorís story. This could be Kent or- if for some reason you actually like Wallace- Wallace, but Sain is better for my playstyle and probably for yours as well.
6) Make max ranking Funds easier in HHM by ensuring Lyn starts with a White Gem, the most valuable possible item.

I put it to you that if you have those goals, the approach I took here is the best strategy conceivable for Lynís story.

I managed to get Sain to a tremendously high level 19 before promoting him while still giving Florina and Lyn a respectable head start of 6 levels gained each. By the level he got to, Sain was gaining something like 4 XP per kill from enemies and most of his later levels came from feeding him every single boss except Batta and Carjiga (it IS feasible to give him Carjiga if you want I suppose). This means that getting him to level 20 while not gate grinding would require taking about 25 more kills, which would leave Lyn and Florina at level 4 or something. Probably not worth it.

I got Nils to level 7 but did not over-level him. This means that he has lots of room to grow (and pump my XP score) in HHM.

Having reached level 7, Lyn is a good deal closer to the level she has to get to to unlock Linusís Four-Fanged Offense.

Some more levels on Florina would have been nice, but probably not worth the permanent cost to Sain. She too was gaining very little XP per kill at this point so raising her higher would have been hard. 6-9 is a good level range for her since it makes her strong enough to be immediately useful (especially with the angelic robe) while still leaving her lots of room to grow and boost your XP score.

Giving Florina the Angelic Robe and Sain the Knight Crest and not using the Energy Ring is probably the best possible item distribution for max ranking HHM. Lyn or Lucius or even Sain can also put the +7 HP from the angelic robe to good use, but of the 4 of them Sain and Florina are the ones who need to be charging at huge speed ahead of your allies to let you get max ranking. And unlike Florina, Sain has decent defenses and hitpoints to begin with. Meanwhile the +2 Str for Lyn or Florina is very nice, but using it in addition to the Knight Crest and Angelic Robe will drop your funds to 33,000 or so down to 25,000 or so which means Lyn will join with a Red Gem instead of a White Gem. This costs you 15,000 gold. +2 Str isnít worth 15,000 gold on anyone. It also isnít worth 10,000 gold + waiting an extra 2 levels to promote Sain, the cost of not using the Knight Crest in Lynís story. And few people would argue that +2 Str is > +7 HP on Florina. Particularly considering Florina will nearly hit her Str cap anyway. Meanwhile, Lyn cannot be promoted in a max ranking run because she costs double. Lyn is nice, but sheís not twice as good as the other good units. This means investing heavily in her with angelic robes or energy rings is a poor choice to begin with.

You might consider also giving a few levels to someone else (at a cost of Sain probably finishing at level 18). This could be worth it depending on who you go with. Lucius and Erk are both very nice characters, but theyíre also both perfectly viable to start training in HHM at level 1. Kent is decent, but probably not as useful as Sain or Lowen so probably not worth an investment. Wil is atrocious. Dorcas grows very, very badly but starts off pretty solid. This means investing more XP in him is a pretty poor idea most of the time. Serra is a necessary evil and will never be a good combat unit in a max ranking run no matter what you do with her. Leveling Matthew a few times does admittedly make some of the early chapters of HHM considerably easier so itís not a bad idea. Generally speaking though, I find heís juuuuuust good enough as it is. Rath is a great unit if you can promote him, but terrible up until then because heís bow-locked. And he starts so high level that you canít improve him much regardless. Other than that, thereís just Wallace. Would ANYONE argue that trying to level up Wallace more is a good idea?

So in conclusion I believe that the item and XP distribution shown here is just about the best one for max ranking HHM while doing every single chapter.

But so that you can make your own modifications while still getting the White Gem, let me post my final assets. The chart uploaded before was the total value of all my stuff before I began Chapter 10 but with the Energy Ring (the only loot on Chapter 10 added in). My assets were decreased from there by needing to use iron lances to kill enemies.

So I finished with a total of 33,497. This is a margin of error of approximately 1500. Thatís plenty of breathing room to have Sain use iron swords instead of lances, to let Florina fight things she can only kill in 3 hits with her iron lance, etc. But remember, that 1500 surplus after using the Angelic Robe and Knight Crest is the maximum possible really. I NEVER used a vulnerary or a heal or a torch or a single charge of magic and I had Sain stupidly fight with iron lances against brigands almost all the time. And I used Door Keys instead of lockpicks whenever possible and stole everything. If you do not steal anything on 7x, you WILL fail to get the white gem because youíll be at -500 from your goal. Even if, for example, you used Dorcas instead of Sain at all times to take advantage of that tiny savings, you would still fail. So steal on 7x. Steal everything.

That 1500 margin of error also means you could actually use up a whole heal staff easily or chug a vulnerary or two. But still, donít go overboard. It doesnít take many little expenses here and there to add up to 1500 and then all your work was for nothing.

Alright, I think thatís all you need to know to get the most out of your Lynís mode preparation. Crit a brigand for me!

Up Next:

Melth fucked around with this message at 00:05 on Jun 7, 2015

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Onmi posted:

He'll certainly help but for the EXP rank he'll have to still use weaker units.

Precisely! Think of Sain the Paladin as essentially a better Marcus. Just like Marcus, he can't really hack it end game compared to many of the better soldiers (for Sain this is more because of bad caps than bad growths, but both are badly hurt by the dawn of the promoted flyer). Just like Marcus, he's wildly overpowered compared to your other troops in the early and mid game and has huge mobility and numerous weapon proficiencies that let him wreck everything for a while.

I'll use him along with Marcus and Lowen to shave huge numbers of turns off my times on several levels- Noble Lady of Caelin and The Port of Badon are probably the most notable. But just like I try not to let Marcus get any kills I don't have to, I try to limit Sain's kills sharply.

In any case, I've done this with pretty lousy Sains before and it still works fairly well. Sain is just a great character for this sort of ranking attempt and getting lucky stats is just gravy + a little more endgame viability. If anything, I'm more excited about having a Florina who doesn't suck for once.

Silver Falcon posted:

I recently started playing this game myself (I've never finished it...), and I had to dump Sain very early on because the dude just would not gain speed. His strength was sky high, but I don't really care about that when he's getting doubled by everyone and their geriatric grandmother.... Sheesh.

Kent, on the other hand, just kept gaining defense (and speed), and a point of strength here and there, so I went with him and Lowen for my cavalier needs. Shame, really. I like Sain better as a character. Kent is kind of boring. For the "competent knight who serves as an adviser" role, I always preferred Seth. Or Frederick.

Anyway, I've never even thought to try to play for rankings, so I'll definitely be following this! Good job fixing the screenshots, by the way. They look much better now!

I've got to be honest, I don't actually see a major difference in screenshot quality myself. I was quite startled that people didn't like the ones in the early chapters. I'd looked over the technical support fort and the image file type guide so I thought I was doing things right or close to it. I'll admit I've got no experience at this kind of thing and I'd be glad to have any additional suggestions for good ways to improve images or the like. Heck, I'm open to suggestions about additional things to include in or change about the LP in general, though I make no promises.

Oh and I think I may go back and replace the screenshots in the early chapters now that I have a bit more time. I can't replace the level-up screenshots for obvious reasons, but by starting a new file and going through it quickly I should be able to replicate the other ones in better quality without too much trouble.

AstraSage posted:

There's something funny in this sentence from way back: when you use the entire Elibe timeline it looks more the other way around, in that during the 20 years gap between the games Light magic has fallen off its use outside veterans of Elimine Clergy while there's a resurgence of Dark Magic practitioners in the open. (Without taking Awakening's reclassing in account, FE6 has the largest number of recruitable Dark Mages in the series)

I take your point, but I would point out that of the 3 playable dark magic users in 6, one of them is a legendary hermit who's going to kick the bucket any year now and her ancient lineage of dark mages will die with her because she let her children get killed or worse by their studies and treated her only grandson so badly that he left the family and studied anima magic instead. Another one of them is a half-dragon woman from Arcadia, and Arcadia's whole deal is that the place is like the world was 1000 years ago- you know, back when dark magic was the big thing.

Of the enemy dark mages, the biggest concentration of them is fought in the plains of Sacae- tying in to that point I made earlier about how dark magic seems to be part of or at least connected to their ancient traditions and folk religion.

Meanwhile in FE6 the Elimine Church is pretty powerful everywhere outside Sacae with representatives running around helping you out everywhere and loads of political influence. You don't deal with many enemies using light magic because the light magic users are on your side.

But I'll concede that I may be reading too much into this. Maybe we're not supposed to see a pattern of the decline of dark magic afterall.


So a couple of things:

1) Now that Lyn's story is done, I'll be slowing down as requested. I've completed Chapter 11 so I'll be posting that tomorrow, possibly with a few other odds and ends.

2) I have several FE playing friends who aren't members of this forum but would be interested in this LP. Is there a good way to share it with them?

3) If possible, I think I'd like to add a table of contents to the introductory post so that people could easily jump around to the different chapters (I'd also like to make it possible to jump directly to the War Room sections on various topics to help people who want to know about that stuff in particular). Is there a way to do something like that?

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Onmi posted:

And the last of them is the firsts Great Grand Nephew (Possible), whom she has taken a shine to and is passing upon her secrets of dark magic.

So her lines of Shamans will continue onwards, and... said GGN is also working in conjunction with the Half-Dragon Archadian Woman and...

Ray – Child of Darkness

Ray traveled around the world, honing his dark magic skills. Although dark magic had been all but forgotten, Ray’s efforts brought it back to people’s awareness again. He was known for being hard on both himself and others, but for some reason he was generous towards deprived children.

So in short you're not incorrect in that it's dying out even further in FE6, but by the end, not so much.

Ah, I forgot all about that character's ending, good point. I think we should generally not assume any particular support conversation happening is actually canonical though.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Ryushikaze posted:

And Melth, you keep calling Florina mysandrist. She's phobic, not mysic. There's a difference.

I'm aware of the difference. Notice that Florina is afraid to talk to men but she evidently has no problem skewering them at all. In fact, she decided to go into a line of work which consists largely of killing men for money and the only thing that made that difficult for her was that she would also have to work alongside men to do it in most mercenary companies.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Nihilarian posted:

2) You should probably put it up on Also, if you have it put up on LPArchive once it's finished, it'll be viewable by anyone.

3) Hit the # at the bottom left of the post you want to jump to, copy the url.

2) I've been using LPix to host my pictures I believe, but I'm not sure how to actually put the LP itself there

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Ryushikaze posted:

She went into the same business as her elder sisters out of a desire to be more like them and do her country proud. Yes, she's a merc who kills a lot of men, but that doesn't make her any more of a mysandrist than Raven, or hell, Hector, who will almost certainly be getting more kills than her over your HHM run.
If you were doing a comedy character LP, that'd be a good hook for her character, but you're definitely reading way to deep into poo poo that isn't there.

I think I will stand by my point that being willing to kill a category of people but not to talk to them can be reasonably described as hateful.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Onmi posted:

An abrdiged retelling okay I forgot Book 1 existed...

Okay FE6 is the second remake of FE1, right down to the drat introduction credits basically being FE1s story and not necessarily lining up with Elibes lore.

I wouldn't call FE6 a remake so much as one of many, many allegedly different FEs that actually recycle more or less the same story. You could put together a Fire Emblem mad lib filling in the blanks of the name of the evil country with wyverns that suddenly attacks after a 1000 year peace and the innocent good country they conquer and the name of the lord who fights his way through every other country to defeat the evil country and then the name of the dragon behind the evil king who he fights at the end. There are a few minor differences here and there. Like in 8 there's a demon instead of a dragon who you fight at the end. Or in 9 the guy doesn't start off as a lord, he just becomes one. Or in 13 there's a pointless filler arc in the middle. But really, waaaaay too many games in the series use more or less the same plot.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Onmi posted:

No no, there's using the same story, and then there's FE6 in comparison to FE1. Where the intro credits are the same, and the characters are pretty much 1 for 1 comparisons

And you know the intent in the design of the game was pretty much "We want to remind people of FE1"

I mean, yeah FE6 is very similar to FE1. But so are FE 3, FE 11, and FE12 which are all actual remakes of it.

I'm just saying I think you're being too charitable with them by calling it a remake when I would characterize it more as a lazy repackaging.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Dr. Buttass posted:

I am so glad Gamergate doesn't appear to have heard of this game 'cuz you just know they're gonna latch onto Florina as a representation of why wimminz is bad for gamez.

Can someone explain what Gamergate actually is to me? Like just the facts, impartially, and without starting a fight. People keep talking about it elsewhere but I wasn't paying attention when it began so I have no idea what even happened or what the sides actually are.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

vilkacis posted:

Jesus gently caress, people, can we please drop the subject, it is more likely to get the thread gassed than to go anywhere productive.

I didn't know it was that contentious. Nvm explaining it to me then, let's get back on topic. I'll be posting two Chapter 11-related sections in a bit here.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!
Interlude 1

So I've completed Chapter 11 several times today using different strategies and attempted several others that I stopped partway through when I realized they weren't going to work. I believe I have discovered the best one feasible and I'll post that later on today. For now I want to draw attention to someone else's strategy:

Ultimately, I think my own approach is superior in that it depends less on good luck or a tough Matthew, but it was this guy's video that got me to completely rethink what I'd done in previous runs and come up with my new strategy.

And that's a big part of what I'm trying to do here: give anyone else interested in doing a max ranking run the tools and advice they need to formulate their own great tactics on each level. That's why even though I said I wanted this LP to be part guide, I don't intend to post what I did move by move: instead I want to show an outline of what I did and tell you what strategic considerations made me think that was a good idea.

Besides crediting this guy for a strategy that inspired me, I'd also like to try to explain to you what I think HE was thinking. If you want to be good at this game, it's not enough to read or watch what other people did. You have to think about why they did that and whether you can see a better way to handle things.

So enough rambling, here goes my analysis of why he did what he did:

0:10 - The big choice is top route or bottom route. Top route is faster, bottom route is safer and more XP. He goes top because his goal is maximum speed. And to do that efficiently, you need to break the wall on turn 1, so Hector must use the hand-axe from range.

0:23 - That soldier needs to die and only Hector can do it. He wants to conserve his precious Wolf Beil. He could pull Matthew back and have Hector attack with the handaxe with impunity, but his main concern is speed so he charges in.

0:30 - There's the big twist! That's a hard move to explain because you'd think he'd either have Matthew attack the archer or open the door. What he's doing is manipulating the AI. Move Matthew into literally any other space in that room, and the archer will move to block either Hector or Matthew. But if you put Matthew in the top middle, the archer gets nicely out of the way. Again, he's thinking only of speed rather than survival chance or anything.

0:40 - Hector needs to be gunning for Wire at this point, so he moves full speed. Conveniently, this will also block the archer so the archer will be forced to eat a handaxe to the face if Matthew moves past Hector.

0:43 -Matthew is safely out of the way and can unlock the door for Hector next turn. Critically, he has enough HP to take one more hit from the archer if need be.

0:55 - He leaves Matthew in harms's way and charges Hector again. It is crucial that Hector did not stay behind and attack the archer. The instant the door is opened, the bottom enemies come running. If Hector does not run through the door immediately they will either block him in and waste his time, or gang up on him as he fights the boss and kill him. So Matthew must be abandoned.

1:10 - The archer must die or Matthew will be killed. More importantly, Matthew MUST attack from the top of the archer, not the left. This way he will be close enough to the currently locked door that he can run into its space next turn. This guy understands the thief AI and knows that the thief will stupidly open that door instead of making its getaway with the jewel. This gives him the chance he needs to steal it.

1:20 - I've thought about this a lot and it looks like a huge blunder. Putting Hector 1 south, 1 east of that position would be far superior. Why? One fewer archer can shoot him. Furthermore, the soldier cannot block him. If Hector missed that soldier, he would have been prevented from reaching Wire. You can see that even though he lucked out, he's horribly injured. A single hit from Wire will kill him and Wire gets 2 shots with 60% odds. There is one possible advantage to this space though: if he hit both archers (about 36% chance) he would immediately level up and be that much stronger vs Wire

1:46 - Red Gem is worth more than lockpick so of course he steals that. A sufficiently strong Matthew could attack instead and get the Red Gem + more XP, but his Matthew is not leveled much.

1: 54 - Note his Matthew, it has +1 Def and +1 HP over baseline. This is critical. This means the archer kills him in 3 shots, not 2. He relies on that heavily.

1:59 - Wolf Beil will kill Wire in 2 hits (1 on this turn and then 1 on Wire's turn), allowing him to win the chapter now. Handaxe would be safer but take forever. However, he's relying entirely on luck here since Wire gets 2 chance to kill him. He's also relying on the fact that the boss goes earlier than the archer does, so the archer will not get a shot at Hector before Wire dies next turn and the level ends. Again, AI manipulation. Bosses typically go before everyone else and you can sometimes use that.

2:05 - He REALLY lucked out. That was like 5% chance of success in the fight with Wire alone I think.

So looking at the video, he had the following advantages that one can't always have:

1) Best possible outcome of fight vs first soldier. He needed to hit twice and be missed and that's what happened. With true hit the odds were about 38% of that outcome.

2) Matthew is tough enough to take 3 arrows. Generally speaking, any Matthew who has gained a single point of HP, let alone defense, can do this. A baseline Matthew cannot, so it's a good thing he used Matthew in Lyn's story. If Matthew isn't tough enough, Matthew needs to dodge one of the two attacks. Each has a better than 80% chance to hit.

3) Hector's handaxe attack on the archer MUST work or Matthew is doomed regardless. The odds of that are about 68%

4) Matthew must hit both times vs the archer. The odds are close to 99%. (Annoying one of my strats failed because Matthew missed. That bungler!)

5) Again, Hector had to double hit vs the second soldier. This time it didn't matter if the soldier hit or not. True odds about 90%

6) Hector must hit Wire twice and Wire must never hit Hector. Odds? 4%.

There were really pretty much no cases where bad luck hampered him. The chance of one more soldier hitting him is much higher than one more archer missing him. So multiplying out those numbers: the probability of success I calculate is <1% with this strategy. Assuming Matthew has leveled up and gained HP or Def already. Otherwise it will be <.5%

Some might argue that a strategy with a roughly 1% success rate is terrible, but in fact this was very clever- just not well executed. I kinda suspect some RNG manipulation to make it work too. In any case, the strategy involves several notably good choices: 1) take the top route. Time is the most importance thing here. 2) Do not open the door to the treasure room. This is very counterintuitive but very smart. He knew the thief would stupidly open that for him during the end of turn 5, so that freed Matthew to forge ahead. 3) Have Hector ready to charge once Matthew opens the locked door. If Hector does not go out full throttle immediately after that door is opened, he will probably be blocked in or killed. 4) ignore the remaining archer when choosing to attack Wire . This archer is a non-factor because either Wire or Hector will die before the AI considers using the archer.

Anyway, I'll show you what I did once I finish baking some cookies. What I really hope is to encourage you guys to think about what I do in the same kind of fashion I think about what this guy did. Notice when I screw up or when I rely on luck and think about what could be done differently. But also think about what things we did were smart and consider how you can use that thinking yourself. For example, I would never have ignored that archer on the last turn before watching this video. I would have assumed the AI would play smart and have Wire fight last. Realizing that the AI moves bosses first could come in handy elsewhere.

Melth fucked around with this message at 22:51 on Jun 7, 2015

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Artix posted:

Almost, but not quite. The way it actually works is that the AI moves units in the order that they're loaded in. It just so happens that IntSys always loads in the boss first, so they end up first in the movement queue. You can actually check this at any time, open up the boss's stat screen and hit down, and it'll move to the unit that was loaded in next (and subsequently will move next).

Am I'm correct that bosses always go first though?

Thanks for that tip by the way; I hadn't noticed that the order of the status screens was the order of movement. That's a really easy way to keep track of it. At least on non-fog of war levels.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!
Interlude 2:

Eliwoodís story opens with a brief outline of the history of Elibe and its countries, but Hectorís story skips over this entirely since youíll already have seen it. For the benefit of any of you who havenít played FE7 or FE6 before Iíll start up a file of Eliwoodís story quickly here and show you the aforementioned introduction to the setting:

The continent of Elibe. Are there other continents? Maybe. But I donít think theyíre ever mentioned, so the whole setting is just called Elibe. You can see the names of the various countries if you really look closely, plus a few other words labelling seas and stuff I think.

And a history lesson!

That pretty much concludes history! A more or less calm 1000 years follows as several of these 8 Generals/8 Legends found their own countries. The whole story of ď1000 years ago, a group of X heroes defeated the great enemy with their super weapons and then retired to found all the countries that now existĒ is very common in FE. Sacred Stones shakes it up by having it be 800 years ago.

Thereís the 8 Legends pictured together in the title sequence. Athos is at the bottom, Barigan in the bottom-right wielding Maltet, St. Elimine is doing a silly pose between those two, Durban is in the top-right with Armads, Bramimond is in the top-left, Roland is in the middle-left with Durandal, Hanon is in the bottom-left with Miurgre, and Hartmut is in the middle, apparently without his weapon, Eckesachs, and using the Sword of Seals instead. The names of their awesome capes sadly went unrecorded by history.

Although itís easy to start to think of Lycia as the center of the universe while playing FE6 or FE7, thatís basically just because the protagonists happen to be from there. Bern and Etruria are probably more important and were founded by a more important pair of the 8 legends. Hartmut seems to have been the leader of the legends.

And St. Elimine is maybe a goddess or something. Really her status is unclear, but the principle religion of nearly the whole world seems to revolve around her in some capacity.

Of the places that are actually countries, Ilia is almost unarguably the least important. Prepare to never hear this name again.

Not a country. Just a region inhabited entirely by weird, bald twin bandits. Who they rob when our heroes arenít in the area is anyoneís guess.

Also not really a country. Just a loose confederation of tribes that arenít even really capable of putting aside their differences to fight invaders.

Pretty much just part of Etruria. But one doesnít expect a man so crazy that he thinks of himself and his axe as one being to be a good leader of a country, so no surprise there.

Lycia is pretty much a country in name only, as was implied throughout Lynís story. Thereís dozens of largely independent tiny realms in Lycia with Ostia as seemingly the first among equals. And they have no compunctions against going to war with each other or anything.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Onmi posted:

Elimine is Jesus basically. The church itself worships an otherwise unnamed 'God' and Elimine is a saint.

Sorta, but we also have Hector mention a "Father Sky" when dealing with Bramimond and there are Goddess Icons around and other confusing issues. Honestly, I don't think we know enough about the religions of Elibe for sure to comment upon them other than that Elimine is really important in the main one and that there is at least one other one practiced in some parts of Sacae which puts some level of emphasis on the importance of 'spirits'.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Onmi posted:

Father Sky is in reference to the Sacaen Religion. Which worships nature. Elimine's religion only positions her as a saint, and members of the church refer to 'God'. (Read: Jodel, Saul, Ellen, Oro.) as simply 'God'

Jodel and Dayan further have a support that has them wax philosophical about religion, also the nature of 'Supports'

If you want my explanation. The original script had Hector refer to 'God' but since it's Nintendo and they generally don't like 'God' being referenced in their video games, Treehouse made the decision to have him refer to Father Sky.

Either that or he's a filthy heretic.

the FS/ME names are also brought up by... a later recruitable character in this game, in his support with Rutger. Dayan further brings it up when supporting with Sue and Shin. The one benefit of a fan translation over a localized translation is getting a chance to look at the original script (not that the original translated script for Fe6 was any good) but the direct changes in how the church refers to their deity (as God) and how the Sacaens do.

I'm sort of leaving most of that unspoiled because I doesn't spoil FE7. But if you want I can drop it under tags.

That still leaves the goddess icons a mystery though. Not to mention how the Mani Katti and its associated spirits relate to Father Sky, Mother Earth, etc. Or the precise relationship of the various magic types to these beliefs. Anima magic seems to be nature magic, and yet it's dark magic which seems to be most closely associated with the Sacaeans who venerate the natural world.

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Here we go, the beginning of Hectorís story! As the title suggests, they assume that youíre already familiar with Eliwoodís story. This means they donít tell you a fair amount of stuff that they do at the beginning of Eliwoodís mode, but Iíll splice some of the two intros together so those of you whoíve never played FE7 know whatís going on.

Chapter Summary:
11 months after Lyn's story concludes, Marquess Pherae (Eliwood's father) suddenly disappeared with most of his knights while traveling through Lycia. Eliwood is sure his father is still alive and sets out to find him a month later. Hector, Eliwood's best friend, fails to persuade Uther (his older brother) to use Ostia's military and spies to help Eliwood. Frustrated, he decides to leave on his own and try to meet up with Eliwood. On the way out of castle Ostia, he and Matthew (actually an Ostian spy) are attacked by Black Fang assassins.

Things look largely unchanged on the surface, but in fact a lot has happened in the year since Lyn defeated Lundgren. First of all, remember Eliwood? He was the son of the Marquess Elbert of Pherae in Lycia and helped Lyn out diplomatically.

His father the Marquess and most of his fatherís knights- perhaps the most renowned fighting force in Lycia- have disappeared without a trace. Many people presume Elbert is dead, but Eliwood hasnít given up hope

Eliwood now leaves home to try to find his father on his own.

Back in Ostia, Eliwoodís best friend Hector has been trying to convince his brother (the Marquess) to use their armies and spies to find Marquess Pherae. Uther insists on not getting involved, so Hector resolves to go help his friend on his own.
Hector may be pretty reckless, but he was at least clever enough to make his preparations to secretly leave BEFORE waiting for his brother to refuse to help Eliwood.


Itís Matthew! Surprise! Looks like he wasnít just a petty criminal in Araphen afterall. He and Hector have a fun relationship- really Hector and his retainers are a bit more interesting than Eliwood and his in my opinion. Complicating matters is that all of Hectorís men are actually his brotherís men and Hector and his brother donít get along, so he doesnít really trust them to do what he wants. Having told Matthew to stay behind, Hector is immediately ambushed by like 12 assassins. One of the few consistencies between FE6 and 7 is that Ostiaís defenses are as porous as a sponge.

An FE7 action sequence ensues. Iíve got to say, this is one thing the game does not do very well. Hector just kind of runs into the red blob with the spear and the red blob disappears with a flash of light. Then Matthew appears and Hector runs at him but misses. All too fast to make out much of it clearly. Only when Hector and Matthew start talking to each other does it become clear that what happened is that Hector suddenly spotted Matthew, assumed he was another assassin, took a swing at him, and barely missed. This game and FE8 are actually surprisingly good at conveying action with portraits moving back and forth across the dialogue screen and flashes of light but not so much with sprites on the map.

The War Room, Part 10

Here we go, the first War Room meeting of Hectorís story! When reading about max ranking runs of this game, you will often hear a lot of talk about ďZero chaptersĒ or ďZero requirement chaptersĒ or the like.

You may recall my explanation of the various ranking categories in The War Room part 6. In particular, remember that every chapter has a number of turns youíre supposed to beat it in. If your total number of turns spent over the whole story is less than the total allowed number of turns for every chapter you played, you get a max ranking for Tactics. Each chapter also has a number of assets youíre supposed to gain from it and if your total assets gained over the whole story is 80% or more of the total of those asset numbers for every chapter you played, you get max ranking for Funds. And similarly every chapter has an amount of XP youíre required to get.

There are many chapters that are unique to Hectorís Story. Their numbers in Hectorís Story are: 11, 15, 19xx, 25, 30, and 32x. Each of these chapters has ďZero requirementsĒ. This means that the amount of XP youíre required to gain is 0, the amount of funds youíre required to gain is 0, and the number of turns youíre allowed to complete it in is 0.

Obviously, finishing a chapter in 0 turns is completely impossible so you need to make up for lost time by finishing other levels faster than required. For this reason, a lot of people doing ranked runs try to avoid some of these chapters: particularly 19xx and 32x.

As Iíve said, Iím going to do every single chapter though, so Iíll need to work hard to save lots of turns.

On a zero chapter you want to win in as few turns as possible, get as much loot as possible, and get as much XP as possible.
So essentially theyíre exactly the same as any other chapter. I donít really understand why people make a big deal out of them; theyíre not fundamentally different from chapters like normal mode Night of Farewells (26x) which has an insanely low turn requirement of 10. Speaking of such things, Hard Mode actually has more generous turn requirements in general, which is nice.
Really, the key is just to look at these charts and know thine enemy:

Once you know what your turn budget is, itís easy to see where you can start making savings.
This chapter Iím doing now is a 0 chapter, and I want to beat it as fast as possible. I can do it riskily in 6 turns or safely in 7 and Iím going to go for 6.

Preparations & The Map:
Actually, you canít do any preparations on this chapter or any chapter up till 14. This is a significant part of what makes these chapters hard: you canít trade items around or switch peopleís places to make your strategy work.

Objective: Kill Wire
Secondary Objective: Acquire the Red Gem
Secondary Objective: Steal the thiefís Lockpick
Reinforcements: None
Turn Limit: 0

My opinion of this map gets lower every time I play it. Itís just too luck-based because Hector canít hit worth a darn. But before I talk about its design quality, let me point out a few notable features.

First, everyone except the boss and the thief will charge at you as soon as a door is opened or a wall is broken that allows them through. However, they wonít break down walls by themselves.

The thief will actually open every door on the level (grabbing the red gem on the way) and then fight you rather than flee (I did say every thief AI is different).

Second, you start with no vulneraries and therefore no healing capacity of any kind. Several enemies have stealable vulneraries and a couple have droppable ones, but staying alive long enough to kill these people and then start healing is non-trivial. Even pitiful archers and soldiers do serious damage on HHM before Hector starts getting some levels.

Third, the randomness of HHM enemy stat bonuses means Wire could die in either 2 or 3 Wolf Beil hits. If 3, there is absolutely no way to end the map in 6 turns without praying for a critical. 3 also means heíll probably kill you unless you drink a vulnerary during the battle.
What does this mean you should do?

In a non-ranking run of HHM, it means you should open the southern door, put Hector on the pillar, and have Matthew steal the first vulnerary that gets close but otherwise keep him back. Turtle up and chug your vulnerary and flail away from your pillar until the hordes have been thinned. The enemy thief will stupidly walk back to you and try to fight, at which point you can steal his lockpick and red gem with impunity. Then just march through the empty level and kill the boss. Boring. And trying anything else is too risky to be wise because Hectorís accuracy is terrible and the enemies are far too damaging. A couple of improbable enemy hits or even a single miss from Hector can be a catastrophe.

In every subsequent chapter, you will always have at least one character who is better than Matthew at not dying and can hit accurately (Marcus for one). That means if you need to hit an enemy to win, you CAN hit the enemy. This makes a huge difference toward making things feel a lot less like betting your life on a coin flip. After this level if you lose, it generally means you applied your tools poorly. On this level if you lose, itís probably because the game didnít give you the right tools for the job and you had to make do with duct tape and prayers.

So this is possibly the most luck-based chapter in the whole game and Iím not too fond of that. However, I think itís fairly interesting as a thought exercise on a max ranking run. Certainly I had fun figuring out all the different strategies I could attempt to end the game in 6 turns or 7 turns and what their odds of success were. On a non-ranking run the solution is to play in a boring fashion. On a ranking run, the level becomes a puzzle with only a few solutions, some much better than others. You still need luck to pull any of them off, but at least you need to think.

So the first ranked level. As always, I have 3 major concerns: winning fast, getting lots of XP, and acquiring lots of loot. Winning fast is especially important because I have to complete more chapters in the same number of turns as most max ranking runs.

On a zero chapter like this, itís often unclear what fast actually means. One way to figure that out is to imagine how fast I could get to the boss and kill him if there were no obstacles or enemies in the way. The answer is 5 turns. Obviously, thatís just as impossible as 0 turns since there ARE enemies and closed doors and such in the way. But can I do it in 6? If not, how about 7? The answer, actually, is yes I can do it in 6. Whatís more, I can do it in 6 while still getting the red gem. In 7 turns I could also swipe the lockpick (worth about 1000 since 3 charges will be gone) and kill 1-2 more enemies with Hector. However, that is not necessarily that good a trade. A turn spent here is a turn I must save elsewhere and on many other levels one more extra turn will let me kill like 5 other enemies or acquire much more valuable treasure. Maybe I made the right choice ending it at 6, maybe not. But if your goal is to end things at 6 turns, I believe what Iím about to show you is the approach with the best possible chance of success and Iím pretty proud of having developed it. But firstÖ

The Characters:

ďÖI donít care. I will help my friend. Thatís why Iíve come this far.Ē ĖHector, Chapter 30

The phrase ďHectorís StoryĒ is something of a misnomer. Although this version of the tale is told from Hectorís perspective, he remains very definitely a supporting character in a story that revolves around Eliwood. It is Eliwoodís quest to find his father that drives the plot and Eliwood who typically speaks for the group. But Eliwood is Hectorís friend, and Hector believes above all else in sticking by your friends- even if that means fighting dragons. His leitmotif is entitled ďloyaltyĒ and itís his dogged determination to stand by Eliwood no matter what happens that really defines him and his role in the plot.

That doesnít mean that Eliwood is the only interesting one though. Hector is a well-developed and rounded individual and he deals with his own problems and has his own interesting relationships with his retainers as the story goes along.

Hector lost his parents at a young age and his older brother Uther has ruled Ostia ever since. Heís never been one for his studies or diplomacy or maintaining the family honor, instead amusing himself by sneaking off to local arenas and pit fights to hone his combat skills and generally behaving rudely and loutishly at all times. Several characters comment that itís hard to believe heís really a nobleman.

Hector is brash, confident, blunt, at least as violent as Lyn, and displays a steely stoicism no matter what happens to him. Lyn and Eliwood both have numerous different portraits showing them joyful, anguished, furious, and really displaying quite a well-depicted range of emotions. Although I might be forgetting something, I donít think Hector has any portraits other than slightly smiling, slightly frowning, and slightly enraged.

At first glance, heís more similar to Lyn than to the gentle and polite Eliwood, but unlike Lyn he was raised as a noble and believes his own violent and rude behavior to be a character flaw he should outgrow. Eliwood starts mature and clever but lacking the emotional strength to cope with loss and tragedy and the physical strength to deal with the enemies he will surely face as Marquess someday. Conversely, Hector needs to grow up and learn to be a responsible ruler, not just a strong one.

Hectorís tremendous power in battle has been praised ad nauseam since this game was released. Yes, everything they say about him is true. Hector is a fantastic character and thereís not much else to say that hasnít been said a thousand times. His defenses are quite possibly the hardest in the game. His offensive power is nearly matchless and backed up by excellent skill and even solid speed and luck. His only real weaknesses are that as a promoted unit he still only moves 5 squares and that he promotes very late.
Thereís one character nearly as good as Hector though:

ďI am power. Power without peer. I am the dragonhunter. I am the fleshbiter, the bonecrusher, the skullbreaker, the doombringer.Ē ĖArmadsThe Wolf Beil

You may remember Matthew mentioning that he brought ďHectorís beloved axe.Ē Well here it is. Itís only 5 less accurate than Lynís Mani Katti and this is an axe being compared to a sword. Itís super effective against knights and mounted units and (unlike the Mani Katti) it has enough power that that usually results in an instant kill on normal mode. Itís light enough to be no problem and it even has a minor crit bonus. Oh and about 70% of the bosses for the next 10 chapters are vulnerable to it. Hector barely needs to look at them with this monster in his hands to make many of them fall over dead.

And hereís its first victim. You will notice that this is a mere level 7 knight, but heís nearly as good as Lundgren. HHM pulls no punches with its bosses. If youíre lucky with Wireís HHM stat bonuses, you can kill him in 2 hits with Wolf Beil. If not, itís 3. In that case, thereís absolutely no way to end this before turn 7 without hoping for a 4% critical on turn 6. So the map is luck based before you even get to make your first move! Either way, Wire will kill Hector in 2 hits- or 3 if Hector is at max HP, so youíre in for a rough and luck based fight if you donít want to just sit there chugging vulneraries for several turns.

Now who is this mysterious black fang member? AndÖ what is he doing here? At first glance, this kind of looks like a bit of a plot hole. Why would the Black Fang want to kill Hector before heís even begun to interfere with them? Did someone just contract them to kill him? This seems unlikely given that Wire clearly knows Lord Nergal, suggesting a certain level of status in the organization.

But actually, if you think about what he says, itís clear that Uther isnít the only one who knew Hector was planning on sneaking out of Ostia.

ďA fool like you, sneaking out of the country alone... You'll go missing, never to return.Ē ĖWire, Chapter 11

Wire reveals that he knew just what Hector planned to do and points out that this will make it quite easy to get away with murdering him- itís the perfect opportunity for them. Looking back with the benefit of having played through the game, itís clear that the Black Fang is a lot more dangerous than people give them credit for. True, they lose in knock-down, drag-out fights like this. But theyíre assassins, of course theyíre not much good in a fair fight. And itís clear they have a truly extraordinary spy network and they know their targets well. I mean, they knew Hector was going to leave almost before he did and were lying in wait for him.

No doubt theyíve been watching Eliwood since he single-handedly rescued Ninian from their clutches. Remember, Hector was right there waiting to meet him. The Black Fang learned of their friendship and studied them carefully. They knew when Eliwood planned to set out and they correctly predicted when Hector would leave on his own to join his friend and set a trap for him.

Playing through the game for the first time, the Black Fang looks like they lose every single battle- typically itís not even close- and the whole group collapses into a pile of delicious, delicious XP. But looking back and putting the pieces together, itís clear that not only were they several steps ahead of the heroes nearly the whole time, they only failed due to the blunders of one man who wasnít even one of them. Plus they do win on several occasions. One of those was Heintzís bid to prevent Lyn from rescuing Ninian. He succeeded, the only problem was that unbeknownst to anyone, Eliwood involved himself while Heintz was fighting Lyn. Another was every darned time Zoldam gets a critical with his Luna.

ďMy guise as a common thief was but a ruse. Iíve served House Ostia for some time as a spy of sorts!Ē ĖMatthew, Chapter 12

Same great character, same lousy stats. Matthew will prove his worth many times on this level though and Hector would surely have died without him- only his scheming flushed out the assassins so that Hector didnít walk right into the middle of their ambush. Heís one of very few people to actually outsmart rather than just outfight the Black Fang and is perhaps the only character who consistently gets the better of Hector, manipulating him into doing the smart thing again and again.

His dialog with Wire is one of my favorites in the game as Matthew explains how he systematically figured out and countered the Black Fang plan. Unperturbed, Wire points out that he can totally just kill Matthew now and all the latterís cleverness will have been for nothing. Unfortunately, I canít actually get Matthew to Wire- let alone fight him- with the strategy Iíll be using.

Playing Through

Hector is quite well equipped and ready to deal with any situation. Except, you know, taking damage. Not so well prepared for that.

As Iíve said, my goal is speed- and also to get the Red Gem. For either purpose, I need to take the top route. To maximize speed, Hector and Matthew both work on tearing it down in 1 turn.

Immediately the soldier and archer advanced, as expected, so Hector stepped up and killed the soldier. Now unlike that video I showed you before, Iím going to try to take down this archer ASAP. This is partly because my Matthew canít actually take 2 hits from him and partly because I figured out my movements for the next few turns and realized I could do exactly as well as that other video by just taking the archer down directly.

On the enemy turn, the archer will step back and shoot Matthew. So then I kill him with Hector and have Matthew open the door, right? No. Doing that ensures failure because it means Hector is too far away from the door when it opens, so heíll be blocked in by the troops who come running.

Instead I kill the archer with Matthew and net an excellent level for everyoneís favorite lousy fighter.

The archer drops a vulnerary, so Hector runs up past Matthew to take it. This puts him in perfect position to move through the door once itís opened and it gives him the ability to heal himself. Being able to heal removes most luck from this strategy: it doesnít matter who hit Hector up till now, I can have him at full power as he engages Wire, so I can win. Itís only a question of whether I want to possibly win in 6 turns, probably win in 7 turns, or definitely win in 8 turns.

I think you experienced players out there can see the level is now in the bag except for Wire. On turn 4 Matthew opens the door and Hector just moves here. This puts him exactly 2 moves from being able to hit Wire and means the southern soldier and archer canít block him- just inflict some minor damage at worst.
Meanwhile, you can see that on this turn the enemy will steal the red gem. While Hector advances, Matthew retreats to be near the remaining door to the treasury room.

Hector has healed himself and can now trounce Wire in a one on one fight. The trouble is that if either of those other guys hit him (and they will), Iíll still need to make a tricky choice: either attack Wire anyway and risk death but maintain the possibility of a turn 6 win or instead move next to Wire and chug a vulnerary and then finish Wire on turn 7.
Meanwhile, the foolish enemy thief is about to open the door and let Matthew swipe his red gem.

Hector got hit pretty badly, but Iíve decided to run the risk of attacking Wire anyway. Every approach to this chapter thatís viable for max ranking has a serious chance of failure and thereís not much I can do about that. Worst comes to worst, I restart and go with that 7 turn version I mentioned and grab the lockpick and some extra XP.

Say hello to the nice assassin, Wolf

Bam! Great level there. I would gladly trade all of that but the speed for some Def at this point, but itís still great.

It sure was. There are thankfully few chapters in this game that you have to play with fingers crossed like that.

Hector has finally realized that Matthew just tricked him into telling Matthew to stay behind so that the assassins would come out and has been playing everyone masterfully from the start. Even Hectorís not stubborn enough to pass up an ally like that.

And of course, Uther knew all about it too and let Hector go. He just sends Oswin after Hector to make sure Hector has a much needed ally capable of fighting with him in the future. And a cleric. Iíve never been so happy to see Serra.

Total Restarts: 0 once I decided what my strategy was going to be. I lucked out there.
Current Turn Surplus: -6
Things I Regret Missing: The lockpick, that darned archer

Melth fucked around with this message at 23:18 on Jun 7, 2015

Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

Onmi posted:

I will disagree that Hector and Uther do not get along. They go about things in different ways but Uther to me very clearly knew Hector was going to set out on his own, He just put the show on in the best way to make it clear that publicly he didn't endorse a thing he was doing... And Hector himself shows a lot of love and loyalty to his brother, as you said, his entire theme is centered around how loyal he is. By undertaking the actions himself and without the official endorsement of Ostia, he spares Ostia from any political backlash since Uther can just disown him. Uther also sends Oswin out not to stop Hector but to aid him. So he makes it avaliable to disconnect himself from his brothers actions while giving his brother the aid he will need to follow his mission.

After all he's making his preparations to leave with Matthew, who would likely have already told Uther as he's loyal to Uther. Not to mention getting a drop on the Fangs plot. On the surface it looks like the brothers dislike one another and only come to their appreciation when events happen later, but I've always seen it that they've always cared for one another. But aren't necessarily the best at expressing it in such a time. Hector also comes across to me as really scared about his brother, seeing as he's all he has left (Which puts him in a position for a later moment of comparison with another character) And his decision to want to march into Laus isn't just to aid Eliwood, but to protect Uther.

I didn't say they don't love each other, I said they don't get along. They argue almost every time they're on screen together- the story opens with Hector bursting into the room demanding to see him and shouting that they need to go attack Laus and Uther yelling at him to pipe down and that that's crazy. Then Hector storms out and leaves. Yes, it's explicit that Uther knew Hector was leaving and let him go, and I pointed that out twice.

And when Oswin catches up, Hector realizes that Uther knew that Hector was going to leave and grumbles that his brother always has to have the last word. Oswin feels the need to tell him that his brother is doing this out of love, and Hector begrudgingly admits that he knows.

Hector said that Ostia should just out and out attack Laus to find out the truth. Joining Eliwood alone was his plan B. The claim that he has the diplomatic tact and political understanding to grasp that leaving on his own lets Ostia avoid official culpability is dubious in light of that.

So yes, it's clear to the player that they love each other and I didn't deny that, but they definitely do not get along. And they do not get along to such a degree that people like Oswin don't actually think Hector understands that his brother loves him and feel the need to inform him of that.

Oh and I walloped chapter 12 earlier, so I'll post that tomorrow.


Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!

The first chapter Hector and Eliwoodís story have in common. Not surprisingly, itís the one where the two meet up. Ultimately, itís quite similar in both stories. If anything, Hectorís mode is easier because you have 4 more characters present at the start and 2 more total

Chapter Summary:
Hector survives the assassination attempt and presses on, now joined by Oswin the knight and Serra the cleric, a pair of his brother's retainers. In the realm of Santaruz he finds Eliwood under attack by a large force of hired thugs while the soldiers of the realm look on and do nothing. Hector rushes to Eliwood's aid and the two are reunited. But is Marquess Helman of Santaruz their enemy or another victim of the assassins at work?

Hector is particularly concerned for Eliwood because he himself was ambushed immediately after trying to leave home. Just as he suspected, the same group wants Eliwood dead. Fortunately, they subcontracted the job of killing him to some much less competent thugs.

Once again, Matthew proves that no one is as good at sniffing around for information as he is.

But even he didnít see this coming.

Oswin, bringing Serra along with him, has caught up to Hector. Uther ordered him to make sure Hector makes it through the coming trials alive.

Just as Hector suspected, Eliwood is in this part of the realm of Santaruz. Just as he suspected, heís under attack. And the soldiers of Santaruz are standing by and letting it happen.

The War Room, Part 11

Since this is the first Hector's story chapter with a store, It's time to talk about managing one's limited early-game money in HHM.

As I've said before, buying things in this game doesn't hurt your funds ranking. Selling things does. That's because your funds ranking includes not only your cash, but also the value of everything you own. You buy items for a price equal to their value but sell for a price equal to half of it. So it's almost always a bad idea to sell items.

However, Hectorís story is much less generous with cash than Eliwoodís. In Eliwoodís story you start with 5,000, get 5,000 more on 13x, get 10,000 on chapter 21, and then get 30,000 on 29x. Getting from 13x to 21 without more cash can be a bit of a stretch (particularly because you can't actually do any shopping with the money till 23), but is manageable. After 23 you're usually fine.

In Hector's story, you don't get that initial 5,000. And then there are several new chapters crammed in between 13x and 23 which means you need to stretch those reduced funds out longer. Not being able to buy anything at all until after 13x is also painful since it means you need to play quite a few chapters with bad gear.

So you will probably run out of cheap weapons and be forced to use much pricier ones. Furthermore, you'll be forced to play less efficiently as your characters miss repeatedly with steel weapons or canít return fire against archers because they have no javelins.

Thus, the total loss of 2500 assets from selling the Red Gem will more than pay for itself through a combination of saved turns, saved combat ranking, and saved funds from not needing to kill enemy brigands with a horseslayer. It's arguably GOOD for your funds ranking to sell that one gem- and definitely good for your other rankings.

After the 13x- 23 drought, HHM players should never need to worry about money again- same as ENM but for different reasons. See, Hard Mode players can get access to the Silver Card on chapter 18/19x which lets you buy objects at half price. Think about that for a moment. That means that you give up less in cash than you gain in assets when you buy something. You essentially create free money when you buy things with the silver card. And alternately, you can sell whatever you want and then buy things at half price with that cash for no net loss. So feel free to sell numerous worthless items and buy a few expensive ones to save storage space in Merlinus- but don't do it until you have the Silver Card.

Oh and another thing: many people will tell you not to use Eliwoodís Rapier or Hectorís Wolf Beil because (unlike the Mani Katti) they have a huge price of 6000 each (thatís 150 and 200 per use respectively). Donít listen to them. If you play right, both of those weapons actually only cost 600, and theyíre well worth that price with their great stats and super-effective damage.

See, thereís this great staff called the Hammerne which for 600 a pop can restore a weaponís durability (and its value) from 1 to the maximum. And thereís really nothing better to use the Hammerne on because no other weapon in the game has such a huge price and such huge utility. So use both of those weapons all the time until your Lords are leveled and ready to go, and just save 1 use of each until you get the Hammerne. Then Hammerne them and THEN toss the weapons in storage and never use them again.

Preparations & the Map

Again, no preparations allowed, but at least the starting formation is pretty good on this chapter.

Objective: Kill all enemies
Secondary Objective: Get the Secret Book from the village
Secondary Objective: Sell the red gem and do some shopping
Reinforcements: None
Turn Limit: 8

Wow, my army just increased in size by 400% in 1 chapter! Now I've got options.

Other than all the new possibilities brought about by having enough people to start using real tactics, this map is quite straightforward. If anything, itís even easier than the Eliwood version because youíre allowed to use Serra and Matthew, which makes clearing the top front easier.

Plus Pegasus Knights are a joke as enemies- particularly for Hector himself. On Normal Mode he can typically instant kill them with his Wolf Beil at level 1. On Hectorís mode theyíre too tough for that till he gains some strength. This slows progress down and it also means itís necessary to use the handaxe instead of the Wolf Beil so as to conserve the latter. Thatís pretty much the only serious hindrance of this being hard mode though.

The Characters:

ďI will guard him with my very lifeís bloodĒ ĖOswin, Chapter 11

A trusted and battle-scarred Ostian knight, Oswin is evidently either prominent enough at court or assigned to guard Hector often enough that he and Eliwood know each other. Other than that, we donít know much of what his usual duties entail.

Itís natural to compare him to Marcus: theyíre both respected veteran soldiers entrusted with acting as their lordís principle bodyguard on this dangerous journey. However, Eliwood and Marcus have a much better relationship. Hector accepts Oswinís help only begrudgingly because Oswin is his brotherís sworn man, not his own, and he resents the fact that Oswin is only there to guard him- not out of any desire to help Eliwood. Oswin bears Hectorís occasional rudeness patiently and continues to put his sense of duty to Ostia above all else- including the often short-sighted wishes of his lord. The two of them have some pretty great conversations, though honestly I prefer those between Eliwood and Marcus.

Many people, both new players and experts, swear by Oswin, but I donít have a terribly high opinion of him myself. True, he is the only person in the game whose toughness rivals Hectorís and his strength looks impressive at first glance. However, his strength is actually only very good, not great, and his terrible speed means he will never be able to double most enemies on HHM.

Much more problematically, he can only move 4 squares- less than anyone else in the game. This often means that he must either be left behind to accomplish nothing or carried as a burden by a faster soldier, because there is no time to wait for him on a max ranking run. His high starting stats make him very useful in the early maps, but I want him off the team to make room for someone who can keep up ASAP. Thus he's a crutch character to get through the tricky early chapters, but shouldn't be used beyond that. Again, like Marcus.

ďLet me take point. There may be many of them, but numbers are meaningless! We are knights of Pherae. These mice of Laus will never defeat us!Ē ĖMarcus, Chapter 14

Speaking of crutch characters, itís the big M himself. Marcus is one of the most skilled and trusted knights of Pherae and was left behind to guard the Marquessís wife and child while the other knights rode off with their lord a month ago. Heís known Eliwood since he had just been knighted and the latter was a toddler following him everywhere. Besides acting as Eliwoodís bodyguard, servant, and adviser, heís also one of the trainers for the younger knights- including Lowen. In this capacity he seems to be a harsh but good teacher and well-respected by his students.

Marcus is what a success looks like. Heís justly proud of himself and his accomplishments and his position, understands his skills and his limitations, and has achieved everything he wanted in life: true friends, a chance to serve three generations of heroic lords of Pherae, and to pass on his skills to future generations. Itís hard not to like a man who likes himself, let alone one who gets so much great screentime with Eliwood and the other knights of Pherae.

Love the character, hate the unit. When this game first came out, people railed about how bad Marcus is because of his terrible growths and tendency to siphon XP from your better, lower-level units.

Later on, people pointed out that he's actually a lot better than other Jeigans in earlier games and that heís important for doing a couple of things early on in HHM ranking runs. From this came a false notion that he was actually a good character. This idea has grown out of control and has led to him being top or high tier on most peopleís tier lists.

In fact, thereís this strange myth now that you canít win without using him extensively and also that he isnít terrible lategame. Both of those ideas are completely false. Marcus is useful as a rescue-dropper, a decoy for Guy to attack, and to visit some distant villages on 13x and 14. I sometimes also use him on Whereabouts Unknown to back up the better cavaliers, but that is the extent of his usefulness.

No one whose main function is avoiding combat on the way to visit 2 villages and taking a single hit from a low level guy you want to recruit should be considered a great character. The manís growths are pretty much the worst in the game and he will kill your XP score if you let him.

Whatís more, his "better" stats actually make him LESS useful than previous Jeigans. See, he canít weaken enemies without killing them! In FE6 Marcus returns but with 5 less Strength. That makes him far, far more useful since heís able to heavily damage enemies, but leaves them alive for your weaker units. That allows your other people to get the XP they need more easily.

ďYes sir! As per generalís orders, I do 1,000 lance thrusts a day!Ē ĖLowen, support with Marcus

One of Marcusís protťgťs, Lowen is a young squire of Pherae training to become a proper knight. Since almost all of the other knights of Pherae vanished with the Marquess, Lowen is brought out onto the battlefield prematurely.

Since heís still in training and not yet a proper knight, Lowen is rather self-conscious about his relative lack of skill compared to Marcus. As a result, he works hard and very seriously at his job and improving himself. Unfortunately, there isnít much else to say about him since he doesnít do very much talking outside supports. Most of those revolve around other knights of Pherae telling heís improving but needs to keep working at it.

Lowen is the only cavalier youíll have access to in HHM until chapter 16. Itís sort of like a mini-Lynís story for him, and youíd better make use of it if you want him to be effective.

If I had to choose just 1 cavalier to use, Lowen would definitely not be it. His offense is just too bad for him to kill his way through the hordes of enemies Iíll need to face. Indeed, heís weaker than Kent and slower than Sain at most levels! His main redeeming feature is that his defenses are excellent. No, he canít tank like Oswin or Hector, but he can tank while moving 7 spaces per turn.

If I had to use exactly 2 cavaliers, I would probably dump Kent and use Sain and Lowen. Kent just canít handle offense OR defense that well, whereas Sain and Lowen are good at their specialties. Iíll give Lowen a chance, but I expect to dump him partway through the game and he won't be promoted. A much, much better mobile tank joins the party on Kinshipís Bond anyway.

ďHard words make my head hurt!Ē ĖBartre, Support with Canas.

A loudmouthed braggart obsessed with becoming the strongest warrior around and oblivious to how stupid he usually sounds, Bartre is introduced traveling with Dorcas and the pair of them join Eliwood because heís fighting some bandits. His characterization is fairly inconsistent across his different supports and both games he appears in. His intellect ranges from slightly naÔve to too stupid to follow a simple conversation. Too much of a joke character for my taste, but he does have his moments.

Remember magikarp? And how it was worthlessly bad at the start, but if you worked really hard at training it, it would somehow suddenly turn into a giant monster that was not quite worth the effort? Thatís Bartre. His starting stats are just horrendous. Enemy brigands are so much faster that they double attack him. The shame of it! And he doesnít have the HP or def to take hits like that. At the low levels, Dorcasís greatly superior speed and skill pretty much just makes him better than Bartre. However, Bartreís growths are far, far better than Dorcasís in the stats that matter and this will let him overtake Dorcas by the end game if trained hard.

A carefully trained Bartre typically comes into his own somewhere around Chapter 29 and from then on becomes one of the best infantry. The trouble is that itís incredibly hard to get him to a level of even basic functionality. So the payoff just isnít worth it, particularly since heís still only ONE of the best.

So Iím going to use Bartre here and there, but unless he happens to gain speed on every single level up, he is going to end up warming the bench. And challenging it to fights. ďAnd you call yourself the toughest bench alive?!Ē

ďWe owe him our lives, and I want to repay him.Ē ĖRebecca, Chapter 11 (Eliwoodís Story)

Eliwood saved Rebecca's village and sheís so impressed with his heroism that she decides to join him on his quest.

Remember how I mentioned Wil was Pheraean and left with his best friend to go make a name for himself, leaving behind his friendís sister? Thatís Rebecca. They lived nextdoor and although he was oblivious, it seems like she had something of a childhood crush on him. Either way, she was angry that he just took off with her brother without so much as a goodbye and then she never heard from either of them again until now.

While supports with her are key to uncovering the secrets of some other peopleís pasts, she doesnít get that much development herself. She pretty much just seems to be a somewhat foolish and rather volatile young woman who spends way too much time obsessing over the men in the group instead of being her own person and getting her own character development. Since sheís about 15 at the most, I find it more than a little creepy that she has romantic supports with them at all, let alone so many. Not quite as weird as Nino at least. What is it with Fire Emblem and child soldiers anyway?

Rebecca is an archer, archers are horrible, QED Rebecca is horrible. But how horrible is she exactly? Pretty darned horrible because her only real strength is her admittedly high speed. Wil is stronger by far and Rath is stronger than Wil and almost as fast as her with far better defenses and an uber horse. Under no circumstances should you try to train Rebecca. Just use her early on to soften up enemies for a real character to kill.

The third and final lord in the game, Eliwood is the main character and the hero of the story. Although heís very young, his good upbringing in one of the more benevolent noble families in Elibe and training with great knights like Marcus have shaped him into a just, caring, and highly capable individual with a strong sense of noblesse oblige.

Unlike Lyn (who has flaws but doesnít acknowledge them) and Hector (who does and wants to outgrow them), Eliwood is pretty unimpeachable and more or less always does the right thing no matter how hard it might be. And when people suffer because of something he had to do, he regrets it and tries to make amends. Heís empathetic, polite, kind, and honorable at all times, but not in a way that makes him seem superhuman. His relationships with his friends and family show him to be a profoundly normal sort of person. Heís not a hero because heís an unstoppable warrior like Hector but because heís a fundamentally decent everyman whoís good at leading people and doesnít give up.

Statistically, Eliwood gets a lot of flak for not being as great as Hector. Although some people cruelly dub him ĎFailiwoodí, heís actually a rather good character with pretty solid growths across the board. Itís only his starting stats that are bad.

The other thing to consider is that Eliwood is essentially a cavalier- he just doesnít start off with his horse. Cavaliers and paladins are not top notch combat units like Hector, but what they lack in raw power they make up for in mobility. Eliwood will end up with a nice 7 move compared to Hector's mere 5. He also REALLY benefits from getting lances upon promotion.

So how does he shape up against, say, Sain, the greatest other cavalier in the game? Lategame, Eliwood is pretty much just better. Because Sain will ram into his low strength cap early, Eliwood eventually catches up. Meanwhile Eliwood is better than him in every single other stat- much better in some. Sain's only advantages are 1 point more move and the ability to use axes. Those are serious, but less important than Eliwood's statistical superiority. So yeah, donít knock Eliwood in the late game.

The trouble is that (like all lords) he promotes late. And he promotes for double price. Not even Hector is worth double price to promote. So unless he's amazingly good, I wonít be promoting Eliwood and he wonít see much use once he hits level 20 unpromoted.

That Eliwoodís Rapier is not good compared to Lynís Mani Katti- let alone the dreaded Wolf Beil- is another reason he gets a lot of disrespect. As Iíve said before, being super-effective is really only good if your weaponís Might is high, and the rapier has the least Might of any of the special weapons. Further, most of the unit types itís super-effective against will have weapon triangle advantage against it, a significant problem. On the other hand, having decent damage with nigh-perfect aim early on isnít nothing.

ďHeh heh hehÖ Noble sirs. Alms for a poor villager.Ē ĖZagan, Chapter 12 (Eliwoodís Story)

Everyoneís favorite chubby murderer, Zagan was hired by the Black fang to hire some other guys to kill Eliwood. They probably should have sent Wire after Eliwood instead because Zagan immediately gives his ambush away and completely flubs the whole operation.
Heís the first boss in the whole game to move- deciding to do so several turns in when he sees youíll kill all his men if he doesnít help them. With a steel axe and 14 strength, he hits like a truck but has no accuracy or other notable abilities.
Hiring this worthless thug was Ephidelís first fail. It will not be his last.

Playing Through:

Rebecca isnít going to be much help, so sheís going to go get that secret book for me. But first she stops at a house and this villager talks about how he saw Marquess Pheraeís group go this way.

And heís quite terrified that a group that powerful just vanished into thin air. I wonder what sorts of Ďsomething terribleĒs exist or are imagined to exist in Elibe. It would have been interesting to hear this guyís guesses about what happened.

Meanwhile, the useful guys are doing useful things. As I mentioned, Hector canít 1-shot these guys with his Wolf Beil and theyíre not worth 2 charges of it. So Iíve got to use my handaxe, even though Iíd like to conserve that too. Oswin canít fight alongside Hector the whole time because Matthew and Serra will need help, but I need him to let me take down this Pegasus knight immediately.

On the southern front, I want Eliwood in the front on that fortress, but he canít reach it. Time for a rescue drop!


Next turn, Eliwood and the rest of the southern company work on the remaining enemies. Notice that Eliwood v Brigand is way too close to an even fight. Eliwood kills definitely in 3 hits, Brigand kills in 2 if he doesnít miss and his hit chance is solid despite the weapon triangle.

It took Lowenís help to let Eliwood finish that guy, but Lowen canít stand up to 2 brigands + an archer after taking a hit, soÖ time for a rescue drop!

This guy. This darned brigand and his handaxe. Heís got loads of good terrain available, weapon triangle vs Oswin, and Hector canít hit at the best of times till he has more levels. One time I was trying to max rank but this guy just ran onto the central peaks and refused to come down- even to attack Serra. Other times heís just dodged everyone for so many turns that I had to restart. This playthrough though he was only moderately challenging. Still, I consider him to be the true boss of the level. Zagan is much easier to kill.

As I mentioned, Matthew and Serra will need help. One thing Oswin is good for is blocking. Another is putting that great javelin he starts with to work immediately.

Matthew finishes that archer next turn and gets a great level. Strength is so useful for him right now.

You cannot grasp the true form of Oswinís attack!
Seriously, can someone explain what knights are even doing in their criticals? Which way is he facing? Why is he standing like that? What the heck happened to his head? Iíve looked through it frame by frame and it never makes sense to me.

Remember, the bottom front has no healers to it, so what youíve got to do is let everyone take some of the damage. As long as you donít give the enemy a chance to counterattack your injured people, it doesnít matter that theyíre at 1 HP.

Bartre and Lowen are hurt, but they can take a hit from a Pegasus knight. Marcus is preparing to engage Zagan.

Rebecca has got the secret book, so Iím having her go to the vendor just to point out again that the selection always varies level by level. Notice that I have no gold. I need to get Matthew with his red gem to the armory to sell it. Where was this lady last level when I actually needed vulneraries though?


Now Zagan is moving toward Marcus, but I donít want to kill him with Marcus. Eliwood can do it, but he needs a rescue chain to get him there. So Lowen still stop here, then Marcus will move 1 left and take Eliwood and drop him right, and then Marcus can keep right on moving and stop on the mountain to fight Zagan.

Wheee! With that level up, Hector can now instant kill Pegasus knights with his Wolf Beil. Assuming he doesnít impale himself on that lance heís jumping into first.

Actually Iíll admit to making a newb mistake here and rewinding it. I sent Matthew in to do my shopping, but then I could only buy 3 things instead of 5 because I donít have Merlinus yet and I forgot to have Serra walk up and take his lockpick and iron sword away to free up his inventory space. Final shopping list: 2 iron axes (for hector and for sain later on/ a spare for now), 2 iron swords (Eliwood and Guy), and 1 Iron Lance (Marcus and then Florina and then a spare once I can retire Oswin).

So my plan worked, Marcus heavily injured Zagan and left him killable by Eliwood from the safety of the mountain. My chance of death looks rather high, but remember True Hit. His real chance of killing Eliwood considering true hit and that he gets 2 tries is a low 6%

A good start on Eliwood. What Iíd really like is Strength, Speed, and Defense as usual, but every stat is valuable at the moment.

Itís turn 5, Zagan is the last survivor. Heíll suicide to Eliwood before my next turn, so I win in 5. Sweet. I think 4 is juuuuuust possible, but only by feeding everything to Marcus + getting lucky on the top front. And 3 turns ahead of schedule is pretty great.

Reunions and introductions all around begin.

The exact relationship of Hector with Marcus and Oswin with Eliwood is something Iíd like to learn more about.

This is actually Marketís idea, and itís remarkably stupid for such a brilliant tactician. Soldiers of this realm were standing by and watching Eliwood get attacked if not outright participating. That their lord has also been targeted seems much less likely than that heís an enemy.

Remember, Market wasnít actually present for Hectorís previous battle- she was actually with Eliwood for Eliwoodís chapter 11. This is kind of weird and Iím not sure why they didnít have Hectorís story involve Hector being with Market from the beginning since most things are from Marketís perspective.

In any case, Marketís age is obviously no concern since sheís a child progeny (just like Calvin)!

Total Restarts: 0
Turn Surplus: -3 (Makiní progress!)
Things I Regret Missing: The lockpick and that darned archer on Chapter 11, this one brigand who suicided to Marcus on chapter 12.

Melth fucked around with this message at 19:20 on Jun 8, 2015

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