Well heres the chapter a lot of people were waiting for. Along with 14 and 7, this is definitely one of the top 3 most hated levels in the game. Unlike 14 and 7, Im inclined to say the criticism is 100% legitimate here. This is a horrible chapter.
What makes it particularly bad is that it had the potential to be fantastic. I love these maps with tons and tons of stuff to do really quickly. The problem is that, in true FE6 style, this one revolves entirely around absurd amounts of guess-and-check gameplay instead of being a strategic challenge. There are gigantic waves of spawn-moving reinforcements from unpredictable directions (or even right in the middle of the map), characters who cant be recruited by people who should be able to recruit them, and an infuriating sort of escort mission that you don't know about going in as enemies you need to keep alive kill themselves attacking your troops.
Its a disgrace.
Roy reach Mt. Ebrakhm, the infamous mine with the enslaved workers hes trying to rescue. The treasonous Arcard in Etruria has labelled the Lycians traitors, and theyre attacked by his minions but smash through anyway and join up with the resistance members.
Well, thats that. Game over for Arcard and the others.
Now thats pretty risky. He must be 100% sure this letter cant be intercepted. That or hes an idiot. On the other hand, I guess its important that she know why hes about to appear to actually turn traitor.
Thats actually a pretty good introduction.
Enemy cutscene time. Miledy is really, really bad at finding Guinevere. Shes been trying since chapter 2 and is now not even in the same country as the lady shes looking for.
Wait what? I knew that one soldier and that one messenger guy who Nord actually murdered couldnt be trusted! Anyway, Miledy leaves.
Wow, it sure was dumb of Roy to send her off wasnt it?
And theres the first actual surprise of the whole arc.
He really has been babbling absurdly about all kinds of stuff he has no reason to talk about out loud and all of which would be catastrophic if it got out. This is a particularly silly enemy cutscene. As youll see, most of the enemy conversations on this chapter are ridiculous in various ways.
Back to the actual point, theyre all ready to attack Echidna.
But they dont do this? For no reason at all, the attack doesnt actually begin until turn 7. Then enemy soldiers pop up in the middle of the map without warning to attack Echidna but actually will more likely kill one of your people instead if you dont know theyre coming.
Roy has just arrived. It would be REALLY GREAT if they actually told you which village it was. Then you might have some kind of clue about where Echidna and her enemies were going to appear, if not when. But they dont do that. Because this chapter relies almost entirely on guess and check gameplay to create the illusion of difficulty.
Wait, maybe Oro is actually just misunderstood or something. Merlinus has been dead wrong about everyone and everything up till now.
What? No. Thats a horrible idea. It could take weeks.
He constantly talks as if letters are text messages or something. I mean, his whole plan for saving Lycia actually dependws on a letter getting to Etrurias distant capital, Cecilia reading it, Cecilia showing it to other people, Cecilia convincing them to agree to help Lycia, getting the army ready to march, and then marching the army to Lycia all in a day or two. And he acted as though going to write the letter right away would significantly speed up that process.
Oh good! Now we dont have to let the miners die for weeks while we wait to hear from Cecilia. Except this is false. They dont actually attack the village or take any action against Echidna at all until turn 7, as I mentioned before.
One of Roys better speeches, he explains why were totally going to defy orders and attack these Etrurians in order to help the islanders.
Slugfest Preparations & the Map:
Secondary Objective: Recruit Klein with Clarine (or Roy. But seriously, Clarine)
Secondary Objective: Recruit Tate with Klein (And ONLY Klein)
Secondary Objective: Recruit Echidna with Lalum (And ONLY Lalum)
Secondary Objective: Get the Orions Bolt by saving every single one of Kleins units
Secondary Objective: Get the Elysian Whip by saving every single one of Tates units
Secondary Objective: Get the Hero Crest by visiting every single village
Secondary Objective: Get the Angelic Robe from the top right village
Secondary Objective: Get the Speedwings from the top middle village
Secondary Objective: Get 5000 gold from the middle village
Secondary Objective: Get the Sleep staff from the bottom right village
Secondary Objective: Get the Orions Bolt from the bottom left village
Secondary Objective: Get the Axereaver from the bottom middle village
Secondary Objective: Get the Restore staff from the bottom leftish village
Secondary Objective: Get the Dragon Shield from the bottom middleish village
Secondary Objective: Do some shopping
Secondary Objective: Build some supports
Secondary Objective: Harvest all possible reinforcements
Reinforcements: Klein (who does not move immediately) and 4 archers who must not be killed in the bottom right on turn 5, 2 brigands in the caves on turn 6, 3 fighters in the middle of the map on turn 7, Tate (who does not move immediately) and 4 pegasi who must not be killed in the top left on turn 7, a giant wave of uber cavaliers with lances in the top left on turn 10, a gianter wave of uberer cavaliers with lances in the bottom right on turn 14, and even more brigands from the caves from turns 12-15.
Turn Limit: 25. The map is won or lost by turn 15, but theres actually so much to do that completing everything by this time is non-trivial.
Alright, so theres a LOT going on here. Let me break it down for you. First of all, there are 8 villages. These are in no danger for the first 6 turns, but on turn 6 some bandits will pop up and on turn 7 theyll have destroyed the top right and bottom right villages. That is almost no time at all to get to one of those, let alone both, considering how big the map is and that there are enemies in the way. After that one rush though, the villages are pretty much all safe since no more bandits spawn for 6 turns.
There hasnt been real danger since Chapter 7, but its time to get serious again; the fighting is way tougher here than it has been on the last 3 XP picnics. The enemies have taken an incredible jump in power for some reason. Quite a few of them are now as high as level 19 and I believe 15 is now the minimum. Last chapter 15 was the highest and 14 or so was average. Plus the enemies have an increased number of HM bonus levels worth of stats. Also, they have really good gear. Many archers have both steel bows and longbows, most fighters have both handaxes and steel axes, and almost all of the cavaliers who spawn are packing 2 serious lances. Even some silver and killer ones.
The enemy is also unpredictable and fairly smart in their movements. Almost the whole garrison will get up and move to engage you wherever you go, but a few of the people who start close to you will stay put and wait for the others to arrive and help them. The reinforcements will also take whichever path poses the most immediate problem for you and will even split up if need be.
Speaking of reinforcements, there are tons of them and theyre a huge problem so Im going to go in detail talking about them:
First, Klein spawns really early in the bottom right with 4 archers. You must not kill his archers. When you talk to Klein, his archers become green units. They will then run like lemmings for the alleyway near Oro, heedless of danger. If all 4 of them survive to reach the alley and escape, you get an Orions Bolt. Now one thing is absolutely critical to understand: Klein does not usually (or ever in my personal experience) move on the turn he spawns. All of his men do, but he does not. That means they get in your way and make it hard to talk to him. This is a really, really nasty aspect of the chapter and makes it waaaaay harder to recruit him without harming any of his suicidally aggressive men.
Now on turn 7 Echidna appears in the center village as a green unit, but more problematically 3 fighters poof out of thin air there. And its THEIR turn first. They will ignore Echidna and murder any undefended person nearby. Horribly, Kleins men are timed so that they will be running through the area at that exact movement if youve recruited him. Oh, Roy cant recruit Echnidna, only Lalum can. And Lalum cant dodge and will be instant killed by any of the fighters who spawn around Echidna. Oh and because of their spread out spawning formation, theres basically no good way to trap them without committing your whole army to the job.
Also on turn 7, Tate appears with a bunch of pegasi. In the top left. How did she even get there? She was just seen in the bottom right. Anyway, Tate and Klein talk about how Tate has a sister (Thany) who is also a pegasus knight and she wonders where Thany is. And then, just like Klein, Tate does not move on her first turn. And the map is carefully engineered so that as she does fly at you, shes impossible to talk to with ground units like Klein because of the walls everywhere. So obviously, you should recruit her with Thany.
But Thany cant recruit her! If you try, she turns green and so do her troops, but they go wild and fly around hunting enemies instead of fleeing. Which guarantees your failure since any enemy on the level can kill them in one round and, so you lose your Orions Bolt.
The only person who can recruit her is Klein, whos on the complete opposite side of the map to start with. Meanwhile her 4 pegasi are a turn ahead of her and the walls make it incredibly hard to approach Tate. And you have to not kill any of the pegasi because, just like Kleins people, they turn green and you get a reward if they all live.
The worst part of the whole map is that those pegasi seem to have their own special AI designed to make them suicide to your units. Every other enemy in the game prioritizes attacking people who cant fight back and focus firing people they can kill. These guys instead will do everything in their power to make sure you CAN fight back (including sometimes apparently choosing to use javelins at range against archers and up close against axe users). So the obvious solution of having Clarine be bait doesnt work properly because theyll fly past her to attack Gonzalez or whoever and die instead.
I didnt know that, so I tried the Clarine-as-bait strategy and only won because Treck missed an attack against the pegasus who ignored Clarine (and a really vulnerable and less dangerous Roy) to attack him.
Anyway, on turn 10 a gigantic wave of extremely high level and heavily armed cavaliers also pops up in the top left. And guess what? Once again, this timing and location is perfect for catching some of Thanys pegasi as they now flee.
Without warning, more brigands start spawn-moving on turn 12 after a 6 turn delay to make you think the heavily advertised turn 6 ones were the only ones to deal with.
Oh and on turn 14 an even huger wave of uber cavaliers led by a PALADIN with stats that exceed the bosss and a silver lance spawn out of the bottom right.
I can count at least 10 probable forced restarts on your first play of this chapter because theres just too much stuff you dont know and need to know. Like who you need to bring to recruit Klein and Tate, whose existence you dont even know about till turn 5. Or their locations. Or that Thany, despite all indications and logic, cannot recruit Tate. Or the turn 6 bandits. Or that a bunch of enemies are going to poof out of thin air right in the middle of the map on turn 7. Or that only Lalum can recruit Echidna even though Roy came here to help her. Or the overwhelming power and location of the two cavalier waves. Or that Klein and Tates minions change sides and if they escape you get massive bonuses. Or that theyre apparently programmed to try and get themselves killed. Or that you get a special reward if you save every single village.
Fortunately, Ive played 2 times before and had a list of all reinforcements available. But without that kind of foreknowledge, you cant even properly complete this chapter on normal. Let alone max rank it on hard.
Anyway, the next thing to note about this map is that the terrain strongly favors the enemy. Its just covered in walls with almost no defensive terrain around. Meanwhile, you only have 1 available flyer, the enemy has 5, and every single enemy on the map except 2 shamans is pretty much instant death to Thany. So you cant get around well. And whats more, since every single enemy has a ranged weapon and many also have a longbow, youll have to be careful where you step at all times. Especially since you have to bring some really fragile people along.
The last thing to note is how incredibly spread out things are. This map takes FOREVER to get around since you cant really fly. And theres objectives and enemies scattered everywhere. You need great mobility and very good planning to approach this chapter. With that in mind, heres my formation:
Units Allowed: 11+ Lalum + Roy. Thats how they get you. That is NOT enough units when theres so much to do and the fighting is so fierce in so many places. Even the walls take 6 attacks to break down on this chapter.
1) Roy. Required. Pretty bad. He cant even recruit people really. Theoretically Klein, but thats not really an option with his mere 5 move.
2) Lalum. Required. Extremely valuable even besides being the only one who can recruit Echidna. However, shes VERY fragile. Every enemy on the map can instant kill her and she cant dodge. And there are many walls she could be shot over.
3) Alan. This is not chapters 8-10 where you could train anyone you wanted on the spread out and worthless enemies. No. You bring your best troops to this chapter. Alan is indisputably my best with his support bonuses and great stats. And his huge movement, access to both swords and javelins, and ability to carry people are great here too.
4) Lance. Alan but not quite as good, same as always.
5) Treck. Rapidly shaping up to be Lance but not quite as good. Hes still lowish level, but definitely a solid unit and one who doesnt require much babysitting.
6) Shin. I need more mounted troops and non-terrible low level people to train. Shin fits the bill. With all the walls around, this isnt a bad level for him anyway.
7) Clarine. Even more critical than usual. I desperately need a mounted healer, I want her to build supports, and I also need her to recruit Klein.
8) Dieck. He and Rutger are still the infantry A team when dealing with axe users. Plus they have supports to build. AND theyre finally lower level than the enemy again.
9) Rutger. See above, same as usual.
10) Lot. One of my better infantry. Importantly, hes got handaxes (unlike candidates like Fir and Oujay). His main job though is supposed to be sweeping one of the two waves of cavaliers. I checked and none of them have any swords.
11) Gonzalez. Needs some training and to build some support, but is already one of my best units.
12) Lilina. Still lowish level and just starting to become good as her speed and mag grow. Shell also be supporting with Gonzalez.
13) Saul. Definitely need a second healer on a spread out map like this.
Notable Units Rejected:
1) Thany. Id definitely like to bring her. The reason I dont is actually that I dont have a good person to pair with her to drop over the wall to the right immediately. She cant fight anything here safely though and I dont need to bring her since shes got a good level lead over Shin + Sue at this point.
2) Geese. As Ive said before, hes not actually good despite having a towering reputation.
3) Oujay. Hes gotten leveled past Rutger and Dieck. Id bring him anyway to build support with Lilina, but the problem is that hed need to go in a different direction from her.
4) Fir. Shes is better than Rutger now but shes not better than him + Dieck and Clarine supports and she has no supports to build herself.
5) Zealot. A lot of people bring out Zealot and/or Marcus for this chapter. The main reason is to break down the top middle wall faster. This is actually a very poor idea, as Ill demonstrate
The plan is a fairly complicated one. First of all, Gonzalez and Lilina backed up by Saul are the only people who will take the main path. With cautious tactics, they should be able to take down all the enemies on their own while building support. Then they can break the south wall and visit the south villages in safety.
Everyone else will rush along the top, efficiently break the north wall, and then engage the main enemy force all at once in one big slugfest. Smashing the entire enemy army at once like that will save me a lot of time and put me in a good position to stop the bandits and also control the situation vis a vis Klein and Echidna.
Lot will eventually split off from that group to intercept the top cavalry group, slaughtering them all easily from a forest with his halberd just like he did without a halberd on chapter 7. Most of the rest of the army can go for Robart, with just a couple being sufficient to take down Oro and the last few bandits.
Gonzalez is loaded with a wide array of axes to make sure he has a mix of damage and accuracy options.
Clarine has an iron bow for Klein.
Lot has the halberd since I think hell be the one fighting the powerful bottom right cavalier group.
As usual, Rutger and Dieck have a really wide array of swords.
Shin has an iron bow, steel bow, and longbow.
The cavaliers have fairly standard weapons + Alan has the horseslayer. Its not inconceivably hell need to fight one of the cavalier groups with it. At the very least, I want it available if anyone does need it.
Other than that, gear is standard.
Yet another character so happy that she apparently runs around with an open-mouthed smile all the time. Lalum is loud, excitable, and kind of melodramatic. She acts like shes just a commoner and a member of the resistance on the western isles, but secretly shes the daughter of General Douglas and on really close terms with the prince. Although a little annoying, she at least has more than one trait and a bit of interesting background, so shes one of the better characters in the game. Unfortunately, the less fun Elphin gets most of the screentime she could have had.
As a dancer, Lalum is one of the best units in the game. However, shes one of the worst dancers in the series. Do NOT try to use her like Ninian/Nils. Shes not as tough and she cant dodge as well due to a lousy speed cap of 20 instead of 30. And she doesnt have the fun special abilities they had like Niniss Grace and Filas Might.
Nonetheless, even the generic dance ability is fantastically useful. Besides its innumerable tactical applications, it creates XP ex nihilo, and thats always nice.
Clarines much nicer and less stupid older brother and idol, Klein is a skilled and sensible Etrurian nobleman and general. A general at age 19 or something, yeah. Hes smart enough to begin to see through the traitors plot even before he talks to Roy or Clarine and honorable enough to refuse orders to let a mercenary pegasus group assigned to him take the brunt of the enemy attack and get pointlessly killed on their own. Admittedly, those are pretty low bars, but at least he passes them. He has pretty much no plot significance and his existence will never be mentioned again, despite him being a general of a country well be fighting in. On the other hand, all of his supports are WAY better written than average, so thats something at least. Anyway, hes a consummate nobleman but a pretty cool guy despite that. With him and Pent and Louise raising her, I have no idea how Clarine turned out so badly.
Hes a horrible unit because hes an archer, though admittedly hes not bad for his class. I mean, Wolt raised to 20 and then promoted is barely better than him. And his growths are pretty much just as good too. But yeah, archers are bad so Klein is bad.
Thanys sister, Tate is serious, moderately competent, and rather critical of other people. She also apparently has a tendency to fall head over heels in love with just about any male character she talks to, though shes lousy at expressing that.
Let me just get this out there: Tate is HORRIBLE on normal mode. I mean, THANY is better at level 8. Not just by a little bit either! Florina too! And when Florina and Thany have better stats than you, you know youre a loser.
That said, this is not normal mode. Her hard mode bonuses are massive. So shes pretty good. Certainly not great or anything. But good. A gajillion times better than Thany at high levels at least. The trouble she has is that, unlike for Thany, there is very little time before an even better flyer joins. And wyvern riders do not even play the same game pegasus knights do. Also, shes joining at a stage in the game where the enemies are much stronger and are mostly wielding axes and bows. These factors make it hard to get her off the ground.
But having a second flyer- or a third flyer- around is very helpful regardless of stats; I wouldnt turn down a pegasus knight with 0 in every stat but movement. The addition of Tate opens up a brave new world of rescue-dropping possibilities.
The leader- or at least the greatest warrior- in the Resistance, Echidna is hm Echidna is like, uh shes huh. Yeah, shes the best warrior in the resistance and thats pretty much it. Shes leading the resistance now and shell lead the resistance in trying to rebuild later and we know absolutely nothing else about her.
Where did she come from? How did she get good at fighting? How did she end up in the resistance? We know nothing. It's not even like it's presented as a mystery; the writers were just too lazy to tell us.
All of her supports are exactly the same thing: she walks up to an axe user and tells them she wants strong people to help her build a village for the victims of the war in the western isles. The only different thing is the other persons response. Oh and her support for Lalum is the same thing except she says she wants Lalum to dance in the village so that the strong people will build more quickly. And then Lalum changes the conversation to cooking and Echidna tells her shes a bad cook.
She has no background, no development, and indeed no personality. Not even one annoying trait to harp on again and again like most people in this game. I guess shes slightly sarcastic and pushy maybe? With some people? Mostly thats just a pretty generic response to Ward or Lalums nonsense though. Athos put it up well:
Echidna has no self. She he It Yes, it is a mirror that reflects the person addressing it. It projects no personality of its own. There are as many Echidnas as there are people facing her.
And shes a lousy unit too, despite much hype. Those bases are decent but her growths are absolutely horrible. Heck, on hard mode the 3 generic fighters that go after her actually have something like 70% odds of killing her immediately if you arent there to distract them!
Partly thats because shes wielding this, the second-worst weapon in all of Fire Emblem. Steel axes are horrible for anyone, but particularly for people with lousy con like her. She cant even wield an iron axe without penalty! But for some reason the game thinks shes an axe user and consequently gives her only axes and a higher rank with them too.
Worst hero in FE? Quite possibly.
Who is this mysterious paladin? Nothing whatsoever is known about him, hes just a paladin miniboss that appears only on hard mode, leading a massive army of incredibly strong cavaliers. He doesnt even get any boss dialogue.
One thing is certain: he kicks ass. This guy is probably more dangerous than any actual boss before or for quite a while after this. Heck, other than the inexplicably stat-cap breaking Maxime that appeared only in HHM, I think hes the most dangerous paladin boss on the GBA. Hes better than Orson! Hes better than Eubans and Pascal and Cameron and all the others as well. He's certainly better than Alan and Lance as level 1 paladins. This guy owns, so dont take him lightly. He will kill ANYONE I have easily, even if theyre wielding something like the Halberd.
This is part of the reason. At least he cant attack at range. The only way to deal with him is to take out most of his minions and then hit him with every good character youve got while using careful formations and heavy healing to stay alive till then.
You just wish you were Robart, man! Even with your gate and magic attack, youre no match.
Oro is pretty cool though. Hes an evil bishop who abuses his position and misrepresents the teachings of the church to silence all opposition. There are not many character-specific lines of boss dialogue in this game, but Saul and Ellen get some if you use them to fight him (not that thats really feasible at all), which is cool.
Besides personally running a giant crime against humanity at Mt. Ebrakhm, hes also greedy enough to hire some bandits to pillage his own towns in exchange for a cut of the treasure.
The guy is a complete jerk with no redeeming features and not much depth, but hes got a fair amount of charisma and some great lines, and hes also not a moron like most villains in this game. So yeah, hes possibly my favorite boss in FE6.