At first glance this looks like a sudden side story interrupting the main plot of Lyn trying to fight her way to Caelin to meet her grandfather, however its actually far more important than that. I cant reveal just why to avoid major spoilers, but I suggest that any veteran players who dismissed Lyns story as irrelevant to the rest of the game consider how absolutely critical the events of this chapter are. What would have happened if Lyn WASNT the sort of person who would go out of her way to help a child in need?
One of the wiser themes running through this game- touched upon in the last chapter and pointed out explicitly by Athos- is that actions have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences. Ultimately, a young woman saved all of human civilization by writing a letter to her father. In fact, she did so by choosing to write it on that particular day rather than, say, procrastinating it a couple of weeks.
That this chapter seems to have little to do with the rest of Lyns arc is in fact what ties it in so closely and so cleverly with the rest of the game.
That aside, this chapter is also probably the first- or at least the second after Chapter 4- to require any kind of tactical thinking from the player. Its the first chapter in which I make any moves I think are worth drawing attention to and explaining. From now on Ill be spending more time giving you guys the play by play than I have previously when there was comparatively little to talk about.
Lyn leaves Araphen behind and hurries through Khathelet toward Caelin all the faster now that shes heard that her grandfather may be dying. One day her ride south is interrupted when a little boy named Nils begs her to help him rescue his sister, Ninian, from some men whove abducted her. Lyn chooses to help him and has her first encounter with the sinister Black Fang. Ultimately, the Black Fang nearly outsmarts them and they only recover Ninian because of the intervention of Eliwood, a young nobleman of Pherae.
Theres a pretty great musical theme, An Unexpected Caller, that suddenly starts playing at these moments in the story when danger looms suddenly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cH2X0g1L-Q
Here it plays while Nils frantically runs around asking the villagers for help in vain.
Having just showcased his navigational ability explaining how long it will take them to reach Caelin at this point, Kent is now the only one to recognize that a child could easily be part of an assassination attempt. The guy doesnt get much respect due to his lowish stats, but I have to admit that Lyn would have ended up in a shallow grave somewhere along the way if it werent for his diligence, loyalty, and practical wisdom.
Nils warns Lyn that the men shes agreed to help fight are quite dangerous. Lyn is much more confident now than she used to be and with good reason.
Those guys must be tough indeed to get their own leitmotif: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCP2ovXJQhk
But where or what is Nergal? The plot thickens.
Preparations & The Map
Prepare to charge! This is the first level on which the player can access this battle preparations screen. Here you can choose which of your characters to bring along and which to leave behind, exchange items between them freely, and even choose their starting positions on the map (within limits). Doing this properly will be a VERY important part of strategy later, but for now its somewhat less important.
Objective: Kill Heintz
Secondary Objective: Kill Heintz within 7 turns so as to unlock the secret sidequest
Secondary Objective: Get to the village before its destroyed
Secondary Objective: Visit the bottom right house for a cameo from Hector.
Two new people have joined the party. Other than them, Im only bringing the people I want to train + Matthew (hes handy for all sorts of things and I dont mind him getting some XP). I could have had several more characters, but theyd only get in the way at the moment. I also took this opportunity to hand the characters Im not using all the various junk items I dont need.
There are a couple of new features on this map which Ill explain. One is the first shop I believe weve seen so far. Shops are like armories except they sell magical tomes, staves, and items like vulneraries and door keys. Just like armories, the selection varies level by level. Since Im not using magic or staves in Lyns story, I wont actually purchase anything here.
Another novelty is the dead tree, called a snag, near the bottom right. Much like how characters could smash through cracked walls to make a new entrance on some previous levels, you can attack snags to topple them into rivers and make new bridges. In this case thats entirely unhelpful, but its handy later.
That cluster of houses in the top right is just a village. It works the same as the ones youve seen before despite the different look.
You will notice that a lot of the terrain on this map is hard to get through. Those brown peaks are totally impassable except for air units, the greenish mountains are impassable for cavalry and horribly slow for infantry, and the lone enemy mercenary near the bridge will move forward to block you as you approach, further slowing your advance. Just making it to Heintz in a reasonable time frame- let alone killing every single enemy along the way- can be moerately troublesome depending on how good your units are and how lucky that mercenary gets with his dodges. Fortunately, theres a much better way to do things: air dropping Sain directly over the peaks to slaughter the lower half of the enemies from that side while Lyn sweeps through the upper section enemies.
I need your help! Nils, Chapter 7
A young, traveling musician, Nils and his sister wander here and there trying to scrape together a living. The pair of them are rather frail and sickly and are being pursued by dangerous enemies. You can expect this little guy and his sister to spend large swaths of the story unconscious, dying, kidnapped, or missing in action. Although fond of Lyn, the two of them dont share much about themselves.
I rather like the little kid; he keeps a stiff upper lip and doesnt panic in bad situations. Quite mature really.
Nils and his sister cannot fight. That aside, theyre among the best units in the game. As a Bard (and a Dancer for Ninian, but its totally the same thing), they enjoy very high dodging ability and eventually pretty solid defensive stats. This is good, since they need to be near the front lines rather often to do their job.
And whats that job? Buffing your other soldiers. While there are admittedly a few staves capable of boosting allies in minor ways, Bards have a near monopoly on powering up your other characters. By the end of the game Ninian and Nils will be able to do things like grant an enormous +10 defense/resistance or +10 strength to one of your soldiers at a time. For now, the only thing they can do is grant a unit an extra turn.
Just sit back for a moment and just think about the tactical implications there. This could double your functional attack range. It could let you accomplish objectives faster than otherwise possible. It could let your healer run back and forth between two people at once. It could give a weak unit youre training the ability to kill an enemy for massive XP. It could give your strongest warrior the chance to assassinate a second high priority enemy. It could pull a unit out of harms way. It could let slow people keep up with their faster brethren.
It could let you rescue an ally, move with them, move with them again, and then drop then 16 squares away in one turn.
Nils is top tier, man. The only limit is your tactical imagination and the fact that he can only be used once per turn. Plus he grants himself 10 XP every turn he uses his abilities. Thats 10 XP per turn that you couldnt get otherwise. Quite nice for boosting up your XP ranking.
I truly wish to help the boy. Lucius, Chapter 7
Ah, Lucius. Too nice for his own good. He- and please get this right, the poor man is always having people mistake him for a woman- is a minor clergyman of the church of St. Elimine. And hes a good Samaritan who just cant let someone else suffer when he could help them, no matter what the cost to himself. Hes never without a kind word or an offer of his aid to anyone in need and he never loses his patience with anyone ever, no matter how obnoxious theyre being to him. Serenity, thy name is Lucius.
Unfortunately, life has really put him through the wringer. His parents were murdered (by a man he later has a chance to forgive in person), he was abused and mistreated in the orphanage he grew up in, the surrogate family he eventually ended up with also died horribly, and his best friend is a total jerk. Also unfortunately, there isnt much you can do for Lucius. The best possible ending for him is shackling him to his jerkish friend for life. The only other alternative is for him to found an orphanage in Araphen and then get murdered at the hands of invaders early in the sequel.
In case it wasnt clear, Lucius is one of my favorite characters. Its rather rare these days that we see a recognition in games or film or literature that compassion is strength, not weakness. The iron-willed and indefatigably gentle Lucius really embodies that.
Hes really pretty hardcore as far as fighting units go too. His base Magic is high and his growth is the best in the game by a hefty margin. His starting speed is huge and his growth there is also respectable. And NOBODY beats his Resistance. When fighting magic users, Lucius will take 0 damage and counterattack twice with 100% accuracy for nearly certain death. And when he promotes, he immediately jumps up to a respectable C with staves, very handy. The big problems he has are that his Luck is terrible- reflecting his life- which means his dodge chance is only decent rather than enormous, his defense is bad, and his Magic cap is really low. Also Light magic kind of sucks. This means that hell punch under his weight compared to people like Canas who have inferior magic power but better weapons. It also means that you cant trust him on the front lines against enemies with physical weapons. He cant take hits well and his dodging ability is only pretty good.
In a non-ranking run this guy will be on my team 90% of the time. Hes a bit of a glass cannon, but hes completely invulnerable against enemy mages and he has great availability. Also his support triangle with Raven and Priscilla is fantastic.
In a ranking run he rarely makes the cut. I'll definitely use him, but mostly to pump up my XP score. Hes unlikely to get promoted, same as people like Erk.
You were only striking at air. The girl is already- Heintz, Chapter 7
Ah, Heintz, the second-best brand of ketchup. Also the second-best shaman to use that fairly cool portrait. He continues the grand tradition of Lyn's story bosses being amazingly terrible. 3 magic? Really? Even Serra is better than that by level 3.
But you know, he seems to be one of the best tacticians in his organization. Think about it: he actually accomplishes his goal of capturing Ninian and delaying Lyn long enough to prevent her from rescuing Ninian. And he does it with the weakest soldiers in the Black Fang. The problem is, it turns out that Eliwood has somehow ninjaed in to his little fortress and rescued her offscreen. Cest la vie.
She looked in need of rescuing Eliwood, Chapter 7
Eliwood will get a proper introduction later, but he makes his first appearance here where he rescues Ninian on his own, returns her to Nils, and then is the first Lycian lordling not to hate Sacaeans. He offers to help Lyn, but she stupidly refuses because this is her personal fight. Lyn really hasnt gotten over that sort of foolish pride she voiced way back in chapter 1 yet. Oh well, shell reconsider.
The first thing to do is kill this Shaman, but Lyn cant actually do it on her own without a critical. Fortunately, she gets one so I dont need to have Matthew finish it off.
Now I mentioned that in order to finish this level quickly, its important to drop a good fighting unit directly to the other side of the mountains. But how do you do that efficiently? First, I positioned Florina so that she could just pick Sain up in passing without needing to double back in directions that waste her movement.
Carrying him, she now moves south. But not as far as she can . Instead she moves to 1 space away from Nilss max movement range and waits there.
Nils gives her another turn, so Florina now rushes down and dumps Sain. Hes been moved something like 10 spaces- over impassable terrain no less- by the time the move finishes. And one can do more. Nils + good rescuing tactics are the best form of transportation around.
This is a good opportunity to illustrate a point I made in an earlier war room. As you can see, the only person in the enemy archers range is Lucius, wholl be able to counterattack and kill the archer. If I moved Matthew into range though, the archer would attack Matthew instead, and Matthew cant counterattack. Which would mean I had to waste someone's turn killing the archer on my turn. Sometimes you need to not move forward at full speed in order to make efficient progress. Anyway, I don't want to use Lucius so I'll be undoing this move; it was just to illustrate the example.
See that brigand whos far away with some bad terrain in the way? Too bad I cant beat him this turn with Lyn, right? Oh wait, I have Nils. Hes a dead man. Nils is great for training one specific person at a time by giving them functionally double movement and 2 kills per turn.
The stock of the vendor. Nothing Ill be using. One nice thing is that if you dont buy anything, you can just press B to cancel out of the menus and cancel your move to the store entirely. Thus theres no harm in browsing.
So its the end of turn 2 and people are going about their jobs. Lyn has killed the shaman, the archer, and the brigand with the support of Nils. Lucius and Matthew are tagging along to visit the village while she fights. Meanwhile, Sain and Florina are rampaging through the enemies from the other side. The poor saps are caught in something of a pincer movement.
Florina nets a level off one of the shamans she kills. This would be pretty lousy on, say, Sain but Florina really needs some more hitpoints and Str, so this is pretty darned good.
Next turn, almost all the enemies are about to be exterminated and I still have 3 or 4 left in my time limit to get the secret level. Plenty of time to visit the top left village and the bottom left house before Sain kills Heintz and the level ends.
As Florina kills the mage and Sain kills the shaman, Lyn kills the mercenary. And gets a lousy level.
Florina meets her future husband! Kidding, I actually I ship Hector and Lyn. But Florina and Hector do have a possible ending together. Anyway, Hector is just here waiting for Eliwood and making a cameo in Lyns story. Eliwood is late because hes currently infiltrating a den of assassins singlehandedly to rescue a woman hes never met before just because she looks like she might need help. And yet, somehow, of the two of them its Hector whos the more badass. I look forward to adding him to the team.
Sain wastes Heintz and gets another great level. Hes stopped pumping his speed and is now getting spectacular defense instead.
So Lyn and Nils run into the fort looking for Ninian, but shes already gone! Oh no, were too late! But then some guy walks out of a back room carrying her.
The moment Ninian wakes up, Sain jumps in to flirt with her
I beat the level and I unlocked the sidequest. In my opinion, the huge number of secret sidequests to unlock is one of the best aspects of this game. Back when I first started playing, it seemed like every time I played through the game I unlocked a new one. Those were good days.