Part 2: Chapter 2 and The War Room Part 36 (Funds Ranking)
So heres where the plot seems like its going to take an unexpected direction. Then it continues as expected, but it does at least take on an unexpected tone.
Its a slightly interesting battle tactically and also presents the first opportunity to begin purchasing equipment.
Roy and his retainers hurry to a border village where a group of mercenaries hired by Eliwood was to join them. There they discover a troop of rogue Bern soldiers had kidnapped the princess of Bern to hand over to them. The princess, Guinevere, joins them in hopes that together they can reach a diplomatic end to the conflict.
We do need more men so I can kick Wolt and Bors off the team.
Some might question the tactical wisdom of having the rendezvous under the shadow of a Bernish (Bernian? Bernese? Béarnaise?) castle. Eliwood is delirious with yellow fever though, so his blunder can be forgiven.
Roy and the mercenaries both just blunder in regardless.
And its the first enemy cutscene of the game! Just as in the prequel, this is an adequate way of giving information to the player that the heroes couldnt possibly know, but it also spoils most potentially interesting surprises. The real strength of revealing things this way (rather than having the player learn things as the characters do) is developing the villains. Theres a lot more of that kind of thing in FE7 than here in the prequel^(-1) though, so these enemy cutscenes do at least as much harm as good.
Oh and take a guess which of these two will join the party later!
Rude reveals that he somehow lost the Béarnaise princess. Miledy runs back to the capital to report, leaving him to find her.
And Rudes treachery is revealed: he kidnapped Guinevere and lied about her going missing.
I wonder why this whole group is so loyal to Rude in particular and not to their country. Even one person finding out and not going along with his plan would have doomed it. Possibly its because theyre so close to the Lycian border: maybe they dont consider themselves Béarnaise at all.
He hopes to ransom her to someone in Lycia or one of Berns other enemies.
Well thats a problem.
Meanwhile Roy and Merlinus arrive in the village, looking for their mercenaries. This plot is really running on coincidences and contrivances so far.
Ellen, the princesss servant, runs up and asks them for help.
Then this was a terrible place to go to meet our new allies!
Oh, here come the soldiers.
We could still totally flee. Or negotiate. I mean, they havent actually attacked, they just ran in our general direction (in fact, that group doesnt actually advance and attack if you dont end your turn in their range). And, you know, they WANT to sell the princess to people like us. We're on the same side as them.
The classic healer joining the party speech.
The War Room, Part 36:
Heres the first chapter with a store, so this is a good time to talk about the funds requirement for max ranking.
Essentially, you have to reach a certain threshold of total assets by the end of the game. Actually, to avoid confusion with the way funds was calculated in FE7, let me call it capital. You need to reach a certain threshold of total capital by the end of the game. Your capital is equal to your cash + the sell value of all your items (Half their true value).
Note that for items that have two or more charges before theyre used up and vanish (like weapons, staves, vulneraries, etc.), the value of the item is prorated. So a heal staff with 30 charges is worth 600 (300 sell value), but once 15 charges are used up, the remaining staff is worth only 300 (150 sell value).
How much capital do you need? Short answer 84,000, long answer it depends. Basically instead of each chapter having a tailored amount of funds you need to acquire based on whats available, youre supposed to gain 6,000 in capital every single chapter (except side quests!). Sometimes thats trivial, sometimes its impossible. But it ultimately doesnt matter due to a glitch/poorly thought out way the ranking is figured out. See the threshold you need to be at is based on the current map loaded, but the true ending epilogue loads up the Arcadia map (chapter 14) for one scene. So it calculates the overall requirement as 14 x 6000 = 84,000, the amount you had to have on chapter 14 to have an A rank in funds up till then. The epilogues other than the best ending one dont have that scene, so they dont load that map, so they dont use its requirements. Details at the bottom of this page: http://serenesforest.net/binding-blade/miscellaneous/rankings/details/
So if you had, say, 120,000 in capital going into the final chapter and looked at your current funds rank, you wouldnt have an A, but then youd suddenly jump up to one in the epilogue. Anyway, it was clearly intended that you get 150,000 in capital, not 84,000, and this is a bug. So I think Im going to try to get to 150,000.
So if you dont mind that bug doing the work for you, you need to get a profit of 2700 or so capital per chapter. Its about 5000 for the 150,000 proper threshold.
So how does one gain capital?
1) Well some story events (like beginning the game) give out cash or treasure directly.
2) Additionally, villages and chests give out treasure if you get to/open them. Make sure you dont let enemy brigands destroy villages or thieves steal from chests.
3) Recruited characters have gear which counts as capital for you once they join your side, so recruit everyone.
4) Some enemies have items other than weapons (vulneraries, gems, keys promotion items, etc.). If you have a thief, you can steal these items. I dont think your thief even needs to be faster in this game!
5) The Hammerne staff is a unique staff worth 1800 gold. That means it counts as 900 in capital. And it has 3 charges, so using up a charge of it costs you 300 in capital. Its effect is to restore another item to maximum possible charges. Since an items current value is based on its number of charges, this could be a net profit. For example, a Warp staff with all 5 charges is worth 7500 (sell value 3750), so one with 1 charge is worth 1500 (sell value 750). Use Hammerne on it and you gain 3000 in capital and lose 300 for a net profit of 2700.
And how does one lose capital?
1) Buying anything. If you buy an item, you must spend its whole value in cash, but then its only worth half that in capital once you have it. Thus if you pay 460 for an iron sword, you immediately lose 230 in capital that can never be recovered. If you have the silver card in your units inventory while shopping, you instead buy at a price equal to the items capital value and thus suffer no loss.
2) Using anything. Item value is prorated for the number of charges remaining. That iron sword that cost 460 to buy has a capital value of 230 while it has all 46 charges left. Each time you hit an enemy with it, you lose 5 gold in capital. An item like an Angelic Robe has a value of 8000 (capital value 4000) and has but a single charge. Use that and you instantly lose 4000 in capital.
3) Dropping items. If you discard an item, you lose its whole remaining sell value.
4) Letting characters with items die. If one of your characters has items and dies, those items vanish and you lose their capital value.
So to do well on the funds ranking, make sure to get all story cash and treasure rewards, visit all villages, open all chests, recruit all characters, and steal everything you can.
Additionally, you could consider using the Hammerne on an extremely valuable but mostly used up item in your possession instead of on the handy but valueless legendary weapons.
Further, don't EVER drop an item or let characters die.
Avoid using valuable weapons, staves, and items that are worth a lot (like promotion items and stat booster items).
And dont buy anything you dont need to. Buying an iron sword to use instead of a steel one you already have is a net loss. But obviously its important to have people equipped with reasonable gear, so dont be overly stingy. A few hundred gold lost on iron swords is well worth it if it saves you some turns or lets you feed XP to someone low level youd have to bench otherwise. Once youve got the silver card, you can buy whatever you want as long as you carry that (but of course, you still dont want to use up expensive items that you bought with the silver card).
Oh and if youve max ranked FE7 before, notice that here in the arcprequel using up things like the angelic robe that you didnt buy only costs 4000 instead of the 8000 it does in 7. You can use promotion items and stat boosters and expensive weapons and the like more liberally in this game, just dont buy them. Of course, 4000 may be less than 8000, but it's still too much money to throw away on something unimportant.
Battle Preparations & the Map:
Secondary Objective: Visit the village for an Armorslayer
Secondary Objective: Build some supports
Secondary Objective: Do some shopping
Reinforcements: Thany, Dieck, Wade, and Lot join the player side at the beginning of turn 2. No enemy reinforcements!
Turn Limit: 13. Again, quite easy to meet. Perhaps less so than the last one since good herd-thinning tactics will be needed to quickly but safely cut through the enemy horde.
At first glance, this looks like a worrisome chapter due to the greatly increased number of enemies. However, a large number of allies are about to join up. Additionally, most of the enemies are rather docile and will not charge you unless you get into their range. Finally, many of the enemies are now of the absolutely horrible soldier class.
Bear in mind that an increased party size only directly makes you stronger on offense, not defense. You can more easily kill larger numbers of enemies on your turns, but each of your characters individually remains just as vulnerable to getting swarmed and killed. Dont let that happen. Use your increased number of characters to form better walls and defensive lines and to eliminate threatening enemies pre-emptively.
Unlike last chapter, these docile enemies are mostly under control already. All that remains is to force them to fight characters with weapon triangle advantage on beneficial terrain like those handily placed forts.
Merlinus, of fog of war sidequest infamy, makes his debut. His characterization is completely different than in the prequel. Really theres no resemblance other than not being very brave. Here hes a trusted and serious family retainer and adviser to house Pherae and completely lacks his weird FE7 mannerisms and histrionics. The result is actually a better character, one of the few people to interact in any interesting way with Roy. He provides a generally ignored voice of reason and caution (though he's ALWAYS wrong). And hes almost the only person to ever disagree with Roy on anything. If there were more characters like him, the game script would be a lot less boring after these early chapters.
Oh how the dodge-y have fallen! Merlinus cant take a hit from anything, doesnt dodge well, and is doubled by most things. Whats more, though his growths are about the same excellent fare for making him a dodge tank, he cant promote anymore. And most critically of all, he doesnt level up for free every chapter! No, the only way to give him any XP at all is to have him get attacked. Each attack will give him exactly 1 XP. So yeah, this guy who gets doubled by everything and instant killed by most things would need to survive 100 attacks to level up. Not happening. At least he can still move, but that's the only thing he has going for him.
Fortunately, its absolutely unnecessary to bring him along. In the prequel, you cant send items to storage unless hes on the map, so you'd have to drop any items you gain when you have 5. Thats catastrophic, so you must always bring him. In this game, it doesn't matter if he's on the map or not, you can send items to storage just fine. The only point to bringing him is so you can take items out of storage mid-battle (which, as I demonstrated in FE7, is admittedly useful for some advanced strategies). Facilitating that, he has his own inventory and can access storage himself in this game, so he can use his turn to supply other people instead of them needing to use theirs. However, previously Merlinus didnt take up one of your limited character slots. Now he does. And previously he could survive being on the front lines when you needed him to, now he cant. Hes never worth dropping someone else for. Dont use him.
Princess Guineveres mild-mannered and polite but brave and loyal retainer, shes loyal to her lady- and to the Elimine Church- rather than to Bern. Beyond this one critical moment, she has little role in the story. Her supports with both the victims of Berns aggression and her fellow servants of Guinevere are unusually good though and reveal her to be kind, responsible, and fairly wise. And shes the only character I can think of who understands that its not a good idea to have 10 year olds and the like on the battlefield.
Ellen is terrible as a unit though. 1 Mag? Even with a respectable 50% growth, shes going to have pitiful Mag until the very last levels. And thats assuming she can even be raised that far when healing XP is so slow and there are so many other healers. Shes also slow- though mercifully she starts quick enough that nothing will double her- and even squishier than Lucius in FE7. Combine a bad class, terrible stats, and fierce competition from the more mobile and durable (though even weaker) Clarine and the quick and tough (though not more mobile) Saul and you have a recipe for failure even before every magic user in the game promotes into a better healer.
However, she's a necessary evil until other healers are available, and I might as well do a lot of heal grinding with her to maximize my XP gained.
A big, dumb, brave warrior. Thats thats about it.
Horrible. Kick him off the team and RUN. Fighters are usually a bad class and this one makes Dorcas look good. Hes nearly the slowest character in the game, likely wont have 2 Res at 20/20, has cruddy def too, cant hit, and doesnt even have more Str than some of his axe wielding competition. Not only can he not do anything, but other sucky characters are better than him in the terrible axe fighter role. The man is borderline untrainable on hard mode even if you wanted to use him.
He does come with this handy hammer. Its superficially worse but ultimately better in this game than 7, and is still the go-to can opener when you dont have a mage around. Which is the next half-chapter and then never again.
An actual character, Lot defies FE stereotypes and lazy character writing by being not only smart but actually kind of an intellectual. He reads tactics, he plays strategy games that appear to be basically Fire Emblem on a board or something, hes cautious, and he recognizes that war is dangerous. Hes kind of aloof and standoffish but not a jerk or anything. It feels totally out of character when he calls Dieck Bro all the time.
And hes interesting statistically. Hes the opposite of most axe fighters: fast with high defense but poor Str. Lowen is a fairly good statistical comparison for those whove played FE7. Picture Lowen with less defense, no horse, and locked to axes (which are worse). Its not a rosy picture, but its not horrible for this game either. Hes usable, at least in these early chapters, so I should give him some XP while I can.
Thany is just STOKED to be out stabbing people to death on this beautiful day! Look at that grin!
Shes a loose cannon Pegasus knight on the edge who doesnt play by the rules. Like watching out for archers or holding onto the darned reins apparently. Or not prying into other peoples business.
Shes friendly, aggressively outgoing, loud, reckless, optimistic, and kind of annoying to everyone but Roy (who immediately falls for her careless cheerfulness). Picture a hyperactive five year old with no indoor voice, sense of personal space, or grasp that sharp objects are dangerous in a nearly full-grown womans body, riding a magical flying warhorse, and armed to the teeth. Terrifying. And annoying.
Ward is the sensible and cautious old veteran in their supports.
Oh and everyone in the game would like you to know that shes vulnerable to archers. I think theyre trying to give you a hint about how to get rid of her.
Thany does no damage. Shes got awful Str and con so small that even an iron lance is a -4 or so penalty to speed. However, she flies (and thats worth a lot) and can rescue just about anyone. And she has speed on Ravens level combined with semi-decent defenses and some of the best luck in the game. So she at least has decent survivability, which is nice.
If she gets a significant Str bless, shes a darned useful unit until better flyers arrive, but she is absolutely outclassed when that begins happening.
This is the only weapon Thany can wield without a significant speed penalty. Note that it is strictly worse than an iron sword. At least she has a javelin. That lets her hit from range where she cant usually be countered, which is important for training her early. Just make sure she never gets attacked while wielding it or she might be doubled.
Dieck looks cool, has a personality, and has an interesting background. I think hes the only person in the whole game who fits that description. He pretends to be a cynical and jaded and, well, mercenary mercenary. But in truth hes heroic and loyal. He was a friend of Pent, having beaten a lion in hand to hand combat to save Pents son Klein. However, not wanting to besmirch Pents reputation in Etrurias high society, he eventually ran away and became a mercenary. Hes been through a lot, and survived as much by his wits as his already legendary strength and skill. And hes very good with people, a good judge of character, and a good leader.
Statistically, his bases are fantastic just look at that Con for one thing- and partially make up for his poor growths. Hell go from the best unit on the team to only decent over the course of the game, and hell have some fierce competition in the infantry department from the likes of Rutger and Gonzalez- and even his fellow mercenary Oujay- but is still respectable even when hes not the best.
For now hes the best. This chapter is about watching him kill stuff. With this nice selection of weaponry.
The treasonous commander of this Béarnaise military outpost, Rude has captured the princess and intends to sell her to the Lycian army or another of Berns enemies. This actually puts him on our side - and, weirdly, on the princesss since she wanted to get to talk to the heads of the Lycian army. No one ever points that out.
Evidently his men are really, really unanimously loyal to him and he has no love of his country, only money. Hes a pretty interesting guy and its too bad we never learn more about him.
Hes a wake up call as a boss. With that 12 def and his gate, most units cant even scratch him. That includes otherwise rather strong people like Alan and Lance. And even Marcus if he doesnt break out his silver lance!
His weapon isnt scaring anyone though.The 1-2 range doesn't even help him since nobody can ever scratch him at 2 range.
Theres a village to visit, shopping to do, and precisely one worthless unit on this team. Off you go Merlinus! Try not to die when the shopkeeper hands you your change.
Its time for some classic rescue-dropping to seize the advantage here. Its impossible to reach that fortress for any unit acting alone, but I can do it with a team up.
First these soldiers have to die.
Roy finishes him off. The order here saved money since it resulted in only one rapier use instead of two.
And Wolt weakens this one for Lance.
Then Ellen restores the damage done to Alan.
Now that hes been healed, Bors and Marcus rescue and then drop him onto the fortress. There hell be at a significant advantage as he fights those many enemies.
Even with a javelin, Lance is fast enough to double this soldier and kill him. And he stands near Roy to keep building their support.
Alan scores the first one-round kill anyone in this game got (Marcus critting that archer I wanted alive doesnt count!)
With his support partner Lance nearby and a fortress, Alan no longer cares about enemy fighters.
The mercenaries appear! In most FEs, the recruitment theme is one of the best music pieces in the game. This one not so much: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NLYxOsNLOk
Once the dumb people are done talking, Lot and Dieck remark that things are going to be dangerous.
Merlinus visits the village. The villagers are glad because now no one will take their amazing sword.
And then Merlinus takes it or something? It rarely makes sense how we get the stuff from villages in this game. Later titles usually explain it better.
Note that Merlinus moves like a cavalryman; he can spend the rest of his 5 move after visiting the village.
Even with just an iron sword his damage is great. With his iron blade he could 1-round all of these people.
But instead he weakens that one for Thany. Then Ward and Lot rescue her back to safety.
On the left front, I use Marcus to help sweep this group efficiently.
Roy trades for an iron sword to finish the fighter.
More trading, Alan takes his iron sword back immediately to kill this fighter.
And even more trading! Bors runs in and grabs an iron lance to attack the remaining fighter with.
And even more trading! But Lance misses so the fighter lives another turn.
So everyone Id left in range (after that trade) was going to be able to counter the fighter to finish him, but he dodged Lance. Now I cant kill him on the enemy turn anymore, so Ill just run Ellen into attack range to get in an extra heal. The fort will protect her.
Dieck survived easily and the fort heals him up for most of what little damage he took.
Again, Thany gets a kill and is then rescued out to safety.
And Ward, wholl be left in range of a guy with a handaxe, trades so he can counter.
Lot drops her.
Merlinus gets to the armory. I need 3 javelins and an iron lance and sword. With this stuff I wont need to do so much trading in the future.
Thany is injured so I want Ellen in range to heal her next turn. Ill need to do some rescuing to manage that.
And yet more trading, Roy takes the sword back to kill this guy.
Bors and Marcus drop Ellen along.
Before rescue-dropping Roy, Alan takes back his sword once again. Its been passed 2 times per turn, plus lances and javelins have been swapping around. Im picturing something out of that scene from Pirates of the Caribbean 2 with the characters throwing swords back and forth mid-fight.
So Roy and everyone else have been transported close to the new front.
Ellen is so weak that she cant even fully heal 1 fairly average wound. That actually makes getting her more XP easier though.
I can clear this whole group if I want since Dieck has weakened them, so shes in no danger.
Alan javelins down this one.
Hes really on fire.
Now Lance takes the javelin and uses that.
Some unlucky misses mean I wont actually be killing everything, but I can at least clear out all the problem enemies and quarantine the rest.
One thing I will say for Ward and Lot is theyre strong enough that its hard to prevent them from 1-round killing these soldiers.
This fellows luck is finally going to wear out.
Roy drops him, taking the iron sword back once again.
And Marcus moves to lure and weaken the next wave.
Soldiers are really a sucky class.
So as turn 5 begins, this is all that remains.
Im hoping to get her a level or two early. If Im really lucky, shell get some Str and become useful. If not, at least Ill know shes not going anywhere and can drop her quickly.
Marcus again moves up to lure the next wave (and clear a space to fight these guys)
Lance gets a pretty mediocre level. Speed is good at least.
And for lack of anything else to do, Roy talks to Dieck.
They get introductions done with quickly and then get back to the business at hand.
Ive been advancing fast but keeping my vulnerable people out of harms way.
Surprisingly, this guy goes for Dieck who hits him back for a mediocre level.
And these enemies apparently dont move, so they couldnt be lured. No matter.
Merlinus visits the houses, where people are more or less completely out of character.
I cant actually kill that archer with anyone but Marcus this turn, so Ill content myself with this guy.
And Wolt finally catches up in time to weaken someone for Dieck.
The map is nearly clear.
Lance and Alan advance and bring Roy with them.
Another villager breaks character to talk about forts granting increased def and avoid.
Marcus, as you can see, cant actually use the hammer because his weapon rank is too low. And the armorslayer is with Merlinus (and I needed Marcus here, so there was no good way to get it). Im going to have to improvise and use the silver lance a bit to beat this boss.
No matter what, Lance and Alan stay together to keep building support and I usually put Roy next to Lance.
Does anyone not say this?
Turn 8, I could win right now if I wanted.
Alan kills Rude.
I almost feel like there's a moral here somewhere, but they didn't make it obvious enough for me to figure out what it is.
Its almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a good level up.
Well I could have won then, but Im instead going to systematically heal grind while building support.
Ellen gets a bad level.
On turn 11, Roy can support with Lance at last.
Lance basically tells him to not go out and get killed.
The group changes formation. Now Alan will build support with Roy.
And on turn 15 all healing is done, so I take the gate.
We rescued Guenevere.
Shes impressed with Ellens bravery.
Introductions are made.
And no two people in the world can have the same name!
Merlinus actually manages to say something even dumber.
Guenevere explains what shes doing here.
Roy is surprised, but eager to help end the war. So he agrees to take her with them.
Total Restarts: 0 (Still easy)
Turn Surplus: -9 (Again, I decided to wait 7 turns or so to grind supports and heals)
Things I Regret Missing: A couple of uses of Marcuss silver lance on Rude