Ding! This chapter is even more of a free XP fest than the last one. Its full of high level pirates and pirates cant fight worth a darn. And I have access to something like 12 competent sword users.
Anyway, this begins the Western Isles arc. It wouldnt be bad as a self-contained story, but its a bizarre and long and largely pointless interruption just as the plot finally started to move again. Also, one long bit of exposition from Cecilia gets the only story importance it really has out of the way (along with the whole plot of the arc being revealed) before 9 even begins.
The plot is put on hold so Roy can be sent to fight bandits in the western isles.
Because that would make sense. I mean, Bern attacked Lycia in chapter 3 and totally won and then just did nothing for 5 chapters for no reason. But then Narshen finally made a minor attack and was driven back to rejoin his army, vowing revenge. And Etruria joined the war. Things were looking cool.
And instead we get this complete anti-climax.
I think its worth comparing this to my favorite moment in FE7: the outcome of The Dragons Gate. In both places, the story looked like it was building up to a dramatic and important moment- or even the beginning of the end. And then things suddenly veered off in a new direction.
But whereas the Dragons Gate outcome was exciting, this is a return to boring nothingness as we go fight bandits again. And the Dragons Gate made the goal of the party change: theyd been trying to save Elbert, but they failed completely at that and instead suddenly ended up needing to defeat a an undefeatable dark wizard. In this case the goal of defeating Bern stays absolutely the same we just dont move toward it for 4 chapters.
Furthermore, the whoooole mystery of why Bern isnt attacking is actually incredibly easy to see through: they have agents working to overthrow Etruria.
I mean, fully 50% of the first 8 chapters of this game were fighting people who betrayed Lycia to side with Bern. Most of the rest were bandit encounters. In other words, we have done NOTHING but fight traitors and their surprise attacks. And we know already that Bern also had agents and factions that rebelled to side with them in Sacae and in fact relied heavily upon them there too. So its incredibly obvious theyre just waiting for their agents in Etruria to end the war before it begins. Heck, we even find out exactly who the Etrurian traitors clearly are before this chapter begins. So theres no mystery. So theres no drama. So its all completely pointless.
What lousy writing.
Pretty sure that happened after chapter 3.
Good, good. As a masterful diplomat and statesman and a person who knows all about Berns treachery in Lycia and Sacae, hell surely do something to put a stop to their plot, right? Right? Darn. Well I suppose I can cut him some slack since hes suffering from mad cow disease.
Wait, when did this happen? Have you been winning battles behind my back, Roy? I thought we had something special!
All I saw was Roy defeat a handful of Lycian traitors, then get totally owned by 6 guys from Bern because hes an idiot, and then get bailed out by the Etrurians without there being any kind of fight at all.
Where did this alleged army which we never actually see any trace of come from anyway? The armies of Lycia were either smashed with Hector or turned traitor or were cut to ribbons fighting traitors and bandits everywhere. Somehow putting together another army is some 2nd Punic War style awesome.
thats Etruria, man.
Fire Emblem: Binding Blade: Gaiden begins!
Yeah. It makes no sense. They want us to take our army, travel 1000 miles to THEIR colony and then fight some bandits.
Its even stupider and more pointless than it sounds, actually. You see, the evil Etrurian traitors are ALLIED with the bandits. And theyre committing terrible crimes in the western isles with inhumane working conditions in their mines, keeping that secret from the Etrurian court.
So whats happening here is that the Etrurian traitors are manipulating us into killing their minions and exposing their crimes to the world. Plus totally giving themselves away like 10 times over.
This plot runs on high octane stupidity.
Really? Huh. You learn something every day.
This is repeated 10 times over the next 4 chapters.
Remember Paul and Jasmine? This game has at least 4 weirdo lookalikes of them. Maybe another Im forgetting.
Yeah. You told us that a second ago.
The bandits knew we were coming and are lying in wait. All part of the plan by the traitors. They decided the best way to get rid of Roy was to try to have some random pirates attack his army. This not only tips their hand when the bandits know too much but also had 0% odds of accomplishing anything.
Of course, we just landed. So there is no behind. And sneaking up on a whole army and killing it all off is no mean feat.
Cecilia came all the way out here instead of this conversation happening back in Etruria or Lycia where it would make more sense. Shes got way too much time on her hands.
Anyway, she immediately reveals that it was the kings obviously treacherous advisor- not the king- who ordered that the Lycian army be sent here to fight bandits. And that loads of people in Etruria think thats both gauche and suspicious.
So I mean, this conversation gives it all away.
Yeah, those guys are clearly up to something.
And so the advisor basically took power. Somehow. And no one stopped him even though hes clearly not doing with the king wants.
The Etrurian army fights in Lycia and the Lycian army fights in Etruria. Nothing is gained.
For no good reason he kicks Guinevere out. Now it will usually just be him and Merlinus talking all the time with no one else AT ALL. The very thought is daunting.
BEST LINE EVER
Slugfest Preparations & the Map:
Secondary Objective: Recruit Fir with Noah
Secondary Objective: Recruit Shin with Sue
Secondary Objective: Get the Silver Sword from the bottom left village
Secondary Objective: Pick either the Echidna or the Bartre route depending on which top right village you go for.
Secondary Objective: Build some supports
Reinforcements: Pirates from every fortress from turns 12-20. The middle ones have handaxes
Turn Limit: 20. Tremendously generous if you know how not to get bogged down. The trouble is the reinforcements dont stop till 20.
Fog of War begins its comeback tour!
This is the best view of the map I can get on turn 1. If you want one without fog, check out WoDs: http://www.fireemblemwod.com/fe6/guiafe6/ENG_cap9.htm
Now on this chapter you have no torches and cant use the torch staff because no healer has more than 5 mag.
Im serious about no torches by the way. Not only did the game give out no torches as treasure at any point up till now, but they also werent available in stores anywhere. You can actually buy one in this chapter from that north vendor, but thats much too late. I mean, by land youll have completed the whole chapter by the time you get there. By air, it will still take like 5 turns to buy it and get it to a thief, plus the store is carefully watched by several archers and axe users, so its certain death to visit without precise maneuvering in and out. And that requires you to already have vision of the place to execute well.
Anyway, its not actually a rough chapter really; the fog basically does nothing. Partly thats because all unit types see a significant see further in this game (about 2 spaces usually, but sometimes more depending on the chapter). Partly its because the enemy force is numerically small and scattered. Partly because the terrain makes them easy to chokepoint. Partly because theyre mostly non-threatening unit types. The only real threats are a few guys with super effective weapons. With no torches and those weapons often being instant kills to tough units, thats kinda cheap, but its par for the course for this game. And that of course is the real reason the fog isnt a problem: almost EVERY chapter in this game is functionally fog of war, so one is used to it.
In any case, the biggest obstacles are neither the fog nor the enemy. No, the problem is the awful terrain. First of all, theres the 3-way split starting in the center isle. And then the map is just pretty big and windy. And its full of bridges and other chokepoints where you not only get blocked by the enemy but by your own forces. And its policed by tons of axe and bow users, so you cant use Thany effectively at all.
The key, as usual, is rescuing.
Units Allowed: 12+ Roy. That limit is actually fairly tight considering you need to bring Noah and Sue among other things. Still not a huge problem.
1) Roy. Required. Moderately useful again since almost every enemy is an axe user. But hes high level and being almost decent with max support bonuses and constant weapon triangle advantage is still all he can aspire to.
2) Noah. Required for Fir. A bad unit but he can use swords, so hes (barely) trainable. And as a cavalry unit, he can carry people. Thats useful here.
3) Sue. Required for Shin. Bows continue to be bad, but my Sue is still rocking a great strength blessing so shes trainable. And as a cavalry unit, she can carry people. Thats useful here.
4) Alan. Way too high level to use regularly, but a great unit when I need things (like the boss) dead. And as a- you get the idea.
5) Lance. Alan but not as good, same as usual.
6) Rutger. Too high level, but wildly effective here. Mostly I just want to keep working on his supports.
7) Dieck. Same as Rutger.
8) Oujay. Only marginally lower level, but still low enough I dont mind giving him a fair number of kills. Hes not far inferior to Dieck and Rutger now.
9) Chad. Not much worse than Oujay offensively, though he cant take a hit. Very good for seeing through the fog too.
10) Lugh. My best unit probably. Too high level to be allowed to do a lot, but on the other hand I do want to sage him quickly.
11) Lilina. Very low level but very trainable against these pitiful enemies. This is a great chance to level her.
12) Clarine. A healer, mounted, and also here to build supports. Shes got a lot to do.
13) Saul. I definitely need a second healer.
Notable Units Rejected:
1) Thany. Id definitely like to bring her. I mean, I need to train her to get the Ilia route. And I really want a flyer to get my troops around. But the map has pretty much nothing but units that crush her and shes mediocre to begin with.
2) Lot. No weapon triangle edge and hes overleveled and Im not trying to build supports for him.
3) Treck. Id like to bring him but theres no space on the team with Noah here.
As usual, this formation is optimized for rescue dropping. My first task is to get as many people as possible over the nearby bridge. The terrain I have to deploy onto is bad and Ill be tripping over my own army unless I compress it by having lots of people carry other units.
Gear is totally standard except for some spare iron weapons for the new recruits. Its not an interesting chapter or one that requires any unusual tactics besides just carrying people over bridges.
A really gullible and kind of dumb young woman traveling around to become a great swordfighter. Shes a heck of a lot less annoying than Karla or Karel since shes not a psycho, but she unfortunately has even less background and personality than they did.
However shes actually pretty good for a sword user. I never really noticed it before, but statistically shes Rutgers match or better at pretty much every level. She even has more Str than him nearly all the time with their HM bonuses. And her affinity is one of the best instead of the very worst. Of course, myrmidon remains a sucky class and her support pool is trash. Still, pretty usable. I think Ill give her a try.
Oh and she has the Wo Dao. Once again the game hypes it endlessly. Once again its mediocre.
... ... ...
As quiet as Rath, Shin is a very loyal member of the Kutolah tribe who venerates chief Dayan and tries to protect Sue. He comes off as kind of a jerk since he just walks away from or doesnt respond to friendly people. Even more than most Sacaean men do.
Mine has almost the worst possible HM bonuses, which is unfortunate since despite his hype- hes not actually that good. Despite solid stats. this is still an archer. On a horse, sure, and thats nice, but being locked to bows till level 20 is absolutely horrible. And when he promotes hes just another fast sword user with decent Str On a horse. There are just waaaaay too many other, better mounted units who have swords as well as better weapons. Or people like Dieck and Oujay who have comparable stats but have handaxes instead of bows. He's probably juuuuust good enough to earn a promotion, but as much because I want someone to wield Miurgre as anything else.
The least crazy guy to have this face in all of FE (and there are at least 10 of them, maybe more) is just another random bandit who thinks bandits can beat an army in a head to head fight. Ive heard this joke before. Oh and he raves on and on about the mediocre Wo Dao. His whole evil plan is to acquire it through the most roundabout means possible because its valuable. Know whats more valuable? Any of the village treasures on this chapter. Or his own gear even. Go raid a village like bandits are supposed to instead, man.
Yeah, this is the most dangerous boss to date. 65 crit. 26 damage. If you are hit, you are dead. And he even has a 35 crit chance at range due to his massive berserker bonus. No matter what you do, there is a very high chance of him instant killing you. Thats pretty lame honestly.
A straightforward opening for me; Lance and Alan drop Oujay.
Then Sue and Noah drop Roy. Now there are no targets not armed with swords.
Now things get a little interesting. Infantry cant move after rescuing, so I have to put people like Lilina next to the spot the rescuer will go to beforehand.
Thats just about maximum possible progress. I could have done a bit more by doing no drops and instead having every single cavalry character just carry someone, but that would leave them more vulnerable.
Noah weakens this one for Sue.
The rare Give command is useful here. Clarine, moving from near the back, can Give Saul to Alan. Then Alan can carry and drop him very far away.
So with Lugh planted here, my drops are complete. Good progress. And very safe. Meanwhile, I maintain my support formation of Rutger next to Clarine and DIeck. And thats turn 2.
So, semi-unexpectedly, here she is again only 2-3 chapters after she last ran off.
Scott, a bandit, has somehow convinced Fir that hes actually an honest man defending the townsfolk from Roys group (who he accuses of being bandits). This makes absolutely no sense at all. But its the official story the Etrurian traitors spread.
She is easily manipulated and falls for this hook, line, and sinker.
Shes assigned to work with Shin here. There is absolutely no reason he would be working with these bandits. Hes supposed to be looking for Sue. Sue should not be here. And she certainly was not here a month ago or whenever he signed on with these cutthroats. He really sucks at his job.
Shes dumb, but at least shes a decent person- unlike the similar Karel and Karla.
And hes both a twerp to her for no reason throughout their long conversation and apparently willing to work with bandits for money even when he has an important mission to do instead.
So now he launches into the clue that reveals how to recruit him. And of course you have to restart on your first play because theres no indication till 2 turns in that these guys even exist here, let alone how you recruit them.
This plan is stupid.
Yeah, theres like 10 copies.
550 gold. A killing edge is worth more. Your own gear is worth more. Any item from any village on the map is worth more.
Anyway. So he has this lone, untrained, and trusting girl in his castle surrounded by his men and he wants to get her sword. And hes an uber warrior. But he doesnt kill her or have his men kill her or just swipe it while shes asleep in his castle. No, his plan is to wait for the Lycian army to arrive, manipulate her into fighting them, have one of his minions stalk her and hopefully not be seen, hope the Lycians kill her but do NOT take her sword, and hope no one stops his minion from loot ninjaing the sword. The sword that isnt even really valuable. This plan is too stupid to wrap my head around.
Heres how things look on turn 3. I need to cut through these two and keep moving at an efficient pace.
Oh and I think they forgot to translate this or something. Seihou?
Well Chad kills the mercenary easily enough and gets another sweet level.
Lilina nets a full SIXTY XP from killing the archer. Nice!
Whats left is basically another rescue puzzle.
Roy is dropped to create a screen for others to deploy safely.
This formation is getting really strung out. Its pretty much the best I can do while still building more supports though. And its way better than the no-rescue version where Id be lucky to even have one person over this bridge.
Stop me if youve heard this one before, but Im weakening targets for other people to finish.
People like Oujay, who could barely reach this guy and was therefore a good choice.
Alan rides over to this spot where he can lure that archer and fighter without blocking access to them.
Noah and Chad drop in LIlina and the rest follow. Thats it. Theres maybe 2 enemies to fight every turn; pretty boring.
Ok, he started off decently fast but he has really been piling the speed on recently. Hes become pretty mediocre in every other stat though.
I believe Fir is here, in the fog. In that case, Roys current space is unsafe, but 1 space south would be fine.
But I attack anyway!
Sue gets the kill.
Clarine keeps Saul durable.
And then the cavaliers + Oujay drop Roy and Sue both back to safety. Now there will be nothing in the way as I talk to Fir next turn. Plus Sue is in place in case Shin arrives first. Im not sure where he is; he should have arrived by now. Next to deal with the bottom units.
Lilina finishes off the fighter. She's doing great.
So heres the situation. I want Chad to kill the archer, but I also want to heal him. However, I still want Saul in reach of most of the top leftish units. And I want to build supports.
Well first things first, Saul does the heal.
Then Chad gets the kill.
Dieck rescues Saul.
And Rutger moves into the ideal position and drops him. That extra square actually means a lot since it puts him in range of everyone injured. Thats the turn.
Are there EVER multiple units available to talk to?
Fir immediately tries to kill him after he greets her, not bothering to ask questions.
Oh really? That doesnt calm her down of course.
Dun dun dun! Shes confused because thats the guy she works for. Then Noah points out that some pirate is following her.
And he gives it away. If it werent for Scotts pointlessly complicated plan to acquire a moderately valuable sword, Fir might never have believed Noah.
I have no idea why Shin isnt here since he starts ahead of Fir and moves faster. Maybe he just doesnt move for a turn or two? Whatever the reason, this formation should make it easy to get Sue up to safely talk to him.
Meanwhile, Chad is bait on the bottom front as the kid brigade moves in to sweep out the hardest remaining enemy position. Id better be careful; this could turn into a slugfest!
Turn 7 begins. This is at least 50% of the enemies who are still alive on the top front of the map. And one of them is Shin, all ready to be talked to and then traded with.
Why were you looking for her here? This is the worst place to look for her. She was sent to Lycia, she was captured in Lycia, and she joined the Lycian army. And he couldnt feasibly have found out we were suddenly being sent here, found out where we were going to land, beaten us there, got work there, and then just waited for us either. In fact, he seems surprised to see her. This is absurd nonsense.
Sue will keep moving so that he can take her spare bow and then shoot.
But first, Alan weakens the target. One nice thing about support bonuses is that, with positioning, you can turn them on or off at will. That lets you manipulate your damage up and down as you need it to for purposes like this.
NOW Shin takes the bow.
Oujay moves in to open the bridge.
Lance weakens this one for Noah. Its not like I want to train Noah, but hes low level and I had to bring him, so I might as well get some good XP using him.
Nice! Unlike Alan, Lance is pretty solidly above average in several stats.
Noah is really hard to use. He cant double, he cant take hits, he cant do damage, and he cant hit even hit with an iron sword.
So here come all the remaining south enemies. This small but elite group SHOULD be able to beat them.
And I think I can do it without giving many kills to the overleveled Lugh too.
Man, my whole team seems to be doing well in their offensive stats. I dont have anyone who can really tank though.
And Chad blocks for the group once again.
Of course. I am just getting fantastic levels this chapt-
Well at least I can always count on you, Saul.
I really need a healer up top; it was probably a mistake to have Clarine delay a turn to heal one of the south group.
So one thing Ive noticed: enemy units actually seem to move in the reverse of FE7 order. The boss goes last and the further you are BELOW him on the list, the faster you go. I need to test this a bit more.
That caused problems for me. See, I thought the mage would go first, but now the mage is out of range and Ill have to deal with both it and the archer at once. Thats actually dangerous to Chad.
Well theres no good way to face them now, so Im going to have to trust to that 85% odds that Chad survives. It would have been nice to have the sure thing though.
Oujay keeps chopping. The top right enemy group only has a few more guys in it.
Hes turning out fantastic.
The same pattern is repeated as Lance weakens a guy for Noah.
Thats actually a good level. Im surprised.
These two are the sole survivors.
Noah is nearly dead from 2 iron bow shots over 2 turns.
Alright, things are looking good on the bottom left. If Lilina misses this, Chad will pull out and Lugh will step in and kill the archer. Then everyone should be safe.
Great. Seriously, all she needs is speed right now.
And the bottom is empty.
Lance gives Noah another easy kill.
Which he flubs. Darn.
Well Oujay kills the fighter so theres no danger at least.
Meanwhile, I want to sweep the top up. Theres this guy and then I think 3 more hidden in the fog. The trouble is safely getting past the boss and then getting back to deal with the reinforcements.
Sue is given this kill, not Shin, because shes worse than him so its harder to find kills for her.
Clarine gets her first good level up in forever.
And on the enemy turn, here come the last 3 guys.
Alright, take another shot at it, Noah.
He hit, so Lance exits with Oujay.
I didnt have a good position for dealing with these 3, mainly due to needing to avoid the uber boss. Now I need to get Rutger into position by rescuing and then having Shin drop him. That will form a good defensive line.
I hate that no matter what you do and who you use, you cannot get either Scotts hit or his crit down to 0 with even his handaxe, so theres always a chance of having to restart here at the end of the chapter.
Roy gets a bad level while tanking. Hes now slightly below average all in all, though that completely mediocre Str with which he can barely get kills even with max support bonuses is still well above his horrible averages.
Noah visits this house here. Now notice where its positioned. One always has access to the village nearby BEFORE the house.
Which is absolutely terrible placement. See, this house which you will not get to first is the only place where youre told that you cant visit both villages. Thus you will normally get this warning only AFTER visiting a village and therefore being blocked out of the other one. But the worst part is that there's really no indication that this leads to a route split- and they don't even give you a hint about the different treasures in the two villages. In short, the game makes it impossible to make an intelligent choice without consulting a guide.
Well Im pretty much finished. No one left alive but the boss.
But the reinforcements are coming now and my formation is a mess. I really wish I could have beaten everyone just a single turn earlier. Then I could have straightened this mess out. Oh well. Eliminating absolutely everything before the reins even arrive makes it really easy to just farm them.
Alright, Im going with the Echidna route. The vote from readers was roughly evenly split (not counting a bunch of people just telling me to do the route I want to). Ultimately, Im pretty sure that Bartres route is the smarter one to take, but Im also pretty sure that just about everyone does Echidnas route all the time anyway and that its significantly harder, so its the one I should show.
In this village we learn about the mines of Mount Ebrakhm to the north, where the miners are forced to work in brutal conditions until they die. The descriptions of whats happening in this colony are half Congo Free State and half Auschwitz, which is unusually serious for FE. All in all I think they do a pretty good job of portraying the atrocities of colonialism and awfulness of forced labor and thats one of the things about this arc which could have turned it into a fairly good standalone story.
Well its turn 12, so the reinforcements pop up. The one from the south fortress immediately runs for the remaining village to destroy it.
This spot is the place to be. The pirate has no choice but to walk 3 spaces right, attack the sword user, get heavily damaged, and then be finished off by the weak unit of choice. Controlling the pirates is very important. You cant take the fight to them, so you have to make sure they go where you want and dont build up into an actually dangerous horde.
Chad got to the village area first of course, and he gets his first bad level defending it. Alas, now it's impossible for him to get 20 str.
Oujay does pretty well moving into position to deal with the steel axe pirates.
So instead of the forecast slugfest, I end up being able to farm the enemy easily. One will always walk up to Lance there, nearly die, then get finished by whoever I want. One will always walk up to Oujay on the southern beach, nearly die, then get finished by whoever I want. And the last one is in the Oujay area but has a handaxe, so Lugh will often kill it immediately. Cant let the handaxe ones build up.
Anyway, everything from here on out is basically me moving people around for heals and support while getting loads of level ups for free.
A very nice start for Shin, though not unexpected. Hes going to cap all of those anyway.
Ive decided that since Lilina is easy to train in all sorts of places but Fir is pretty much only easy to train here, I should mostly use Fir instead this chapter. But shes not even fast enough to double a pirate. Shameful! Oh well. Rutger isnt actually fast enough either if I have him use a steel sword, so he can weaken it. These pirates are FAST.
Chad gets the silver sword. Could be handy.
Lance, Alan, and Roy eventually regroup and prepare to fight the boss. Rutger takes Lances place weakening pirates.
Noah goes shopping before returning and I pick up some more iron swords as well as a hammer. My current one is nearly broken.
Another Shin level for Shin.
Good start! Anyway, the rest of the update is pretty much just level ups.
There we go. Alan can beat this guy with maximum support, hugely blessed speed, solid luck, and the weapon triangle. Of course, Scott can still hit him with his killer axe.
Chad has nothing to do so he visits the bottom left house. Where, after 80-100% of the chapter is over, someone explains the basics of fog of war. What were they thinking with house positions on this level?
Well thats disappointing. His first level that wasnt good.
Fir is doing very nicely. Soon shell actually be able to double pirates!
Even Clarine isnt doing terribly.
Nice! This fight with Scott is a really long one. I would barely be scratching him without maximum offense support and the weapon triangle.
All she needs is speed, but this stuff helps a bit at least.
Its turn 21, so the last reinforcements are done and its time to kill Scott. Alan is higher level, so Im giving Lance the kill.
Shin finishes the last enemy.
Saul gets yet another bad level. This is a REALLY bad Saul.
Weve won of course, but I want to do a bit more heal and support grinding.
In particular, Rutger and Clarine now get their B one.
The man has the patience of a saint if shes only beginning to get on his nerves now after all shes said to him.
She responds to this completely mild and more than justified remark by starting to cry. Ugh, what a wimp.
Well on turn 24 all healing and supporting and shopping is done, so Ill end things.
Yep, and their ineffectual and poorly thought out ambush gives the conspiracy away.
I couldnt have put it better myself.
I believe I gained a total of 30 level ups that chapter. Thats more than any chapter of 7 but Cog of Destiny. This game gives you tons and tons of low level but easily usable units and massively high level but weak enemies to train them on. The crazy thing is, this 30 level ups per chapter pace is mostly unsustainable but is the bare minimum on several later chapters. The XP requirement in this game looks unreasonably high so far.
Total Restarts: 3
Turn Surplus: -13 (4 turns lost, but I think they were pretty well spent, and Ive demonstrated that its really easy to keep this trending in the right direction when I want it to)
Things I Regret Missing: A couple of uses of Marcuss silver lance on Rude, a Chapter 5 nomad Marcus had to kill