Part 6: Chapter 6 and The War Room Part 6 (Ranking Categories Explained)
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.
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.
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.
"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.
When I heard that Lady Madelyns daughter was in trouble, I thought to lend my assistance I find Ive changed my mind. Marquess 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 dye his hair, learn magic, and become an 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 ass like him.
Bah, Lyndis and her cadre. When did you arrive? No matter, I shall deal with you. Bool, 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.
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.