The Let's Play Archive

Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword

by Melth

Part 15: Chapter 12 and The War Room Part 11 (Managing Early HHM Funds)

The first chapter Hector and Eliwood’s story have in common. Not surprisingly, it’s the one where the two meet up. Ultimately, it’s quite similar in both stories. If anything, Hector’s mode is easier because you have 4 more characters present at the start and 2 more total

Chapter Summary:
Hector survives the assassination attempt and presses on, now joined by Oswin the knight and Serra the cleric, a pair of his brother's retainers. In the realm of Santaruz he finds Eliwood under attack by a large force of hired thugs while the soldiers of the realm look on and do nothing. Hector rushes to Eliwood's aid and the two are reunited. But is Marquess Helman of Santaruz their enemy or another victim of the assassins at work?

Hector is particularly concerned for Eliwood because he himself was ambushed immediately after trying to leave home. Just as he suspected, the same group wants Eliwood dead. Fortunately, they subcontracted the job of killing him to some much less competent thugs.

Once again, Matthew proves that no one is as good at sniffing around for information as he is.

But even he didn’t see this coming.

Oswin, bringing Serra along with him, has caught up to Hector. Uther ordered him to make sure Hector makes it through the coming trials alive.

Just as Hector suspected, Eliwood is in this part of the realm of Santaruz. Just as he suspected, he’s under attack. And the soldiers of Santaruz are standing by and letting it happen.

The War Room, Part 11

Since this is the first Hector's story chapter with a store, It's time to talk about managing one's limited early-game money in HHM.

As I've said before, buying things in this game doesn't hurt your funds ranking. Selling things does. That's because your funds ranking includes not only your cash, but also the value of everything you own. You buy items for a price equal to their value but sell for a price equal to half of it. So it's almost always a bad idea to sell items.

However, Hector’s story is much less generous with cash than Eliwood’s. In Eliwood’s story you start with 5,000, get 5,000 more on 13x, get 10,000 on chapter 21, and then get 30,000 on 29x. Getting from 13x to 21 without more cash can be a bit of a stretch (particularly because you can't actually do any shopping with the money till 23), but is manageable. After 23 you're usually fine.

In Hector's story, you don't get that initial 5,000. And then there are several new chapters crammed in between 13x and 23 which means you need to stretch those reduced funds out longer. Not being able to buy anything at all until after 13x is also painful since it means you need to play quite a few chapters with bad gear.

So you will probably run out of cheap weapons and be forced to use much pricier ones. Furthermore, you'll be forced to play less efficiently as your characters miss repeatedly with steel weapons or can’t return fire against archers because they have no javelins.

Thus, the total loss of 2500 assets from selling the Red Gem will more than pay for itself through a combination of saved turns, saved combat ranking, and saved funds from not needing to kill enemy brigands with a horseslayer. It's arguably GOOD for your funds ranking to sell that one gem- and definitely good for your other rankings.

After the 13x- 23 drought, HHM players should never need to worry about money again- same as ENM but for different reasons. See, Hard Mode players can get access to the Silver Card on chapter 18/19x which lets you buy objects at half price. Think about that for a moment. That means that you give up less in cash than you gain in assets when you buy something. You essentially create free money when you buy things with the silver card. And alternately, you can sell whatever you want and then buy things at half price with that cash for no net loss. So feel free to sell numerous worthless items and buy a few expensive ones to save storage space in Merlinus- but don't do it until you have the Silver Card.

Oh and another thing: many people will tell you not to use Eliwood’s Rapier or Hector’s Wolf Beil because (unlike the Mani Katti) they have a huge price of 6000 each (that’s 150 and 200 per use respectively). Don’t listen to them. If you play right, both of those weapons actually only cost 600, and they’re well worth that price with their great stats and super-effective damage.

See, there’s this great staff called the Hammerne which for 600 a pop can restore a weapon’s durability (and its value) from 1 to the maximum. And there’s really nothing better to use the Hammerne on because no other weapon in the game has such a huge price and such huge utility. So use both of those weapons all the time until your Lords are leveled and ready to go, and just save 1 use of each until you get the Hammerne. Then Hammerne them and THEN toss the weapons in storage and never use them again.

Preparations & the Map

Again, no preparations allowed, but at least the starting formation is pretty good on this chapter.

Objective: Kill all enemies
Secondary Objective: Get the Secret Book from the village
Secondary Objective: Sell the red gem and do some shopping
Reinforcements: None
Turn Limit: 8

Wow, my army just increased in size by 400% in 1 chapter! Now I've got options.

Other than all the new possibilities brought about by having enough people to start using real tactics, this map is quite straightforward. If anything, it’s even easier than the Eliwood version because you’re allowed to use Serra and Matthew, which makes clearing the top front easier.

Plus Pegasus Knights are a joke as enemies- particularly for Hector himself. On Normal Mode he can typically instant kill them with his Wolf Beil at level 1. On Hector’s mode they’re too tough for that till he gains some strength. This slows progress down and it also means it’s necessary to use the handaxe instead of the Wolf Beil so as to conserve the latter. That’s pretty much the only serious hindrance of this being hard mode though.

The Characters:

“I will guard him with my very life’s blood” –Oswin, Chapter 11

A trusted and battle-scarred Ostian knight, Oswin is evidently either prominent enough at court or assigned to guard Hector often enough that he and Eliwood know each other. Other than that, we don’t know much of what his usual duties entail.

It’s natural to compare him to Marcus: they’re both respected veteran soldiers entrusted with acting as their lord’s principle bodyguard on this dangerous journey. However, Eliwood and Marcus have a much better relationship. Hector accepts Oswin’s help only begrudgingly because Oswin is his brother’s sworn man, not his own, and he resents the fact that Oswin is only there to guard him- not out of any desire to help Eliwood. Oswin bears Hector’s occasional rudeness patiently and continues to put his sense of duty to Ostia above all else- including the often short-sighted wishes of his lord. The two of them have some pretty great conversations, though honestly I prefer those between Eliwood and Marcus.

Many people, both new players and experts, swear by Oswin, but I don’t have a terribly high opinion of him myself. True, he is the only person in the game whose toughness rivals Hector’s and his strength looks impressive at first glance. However, his strength is actually only very good, not great, and his terrible speed means he will never be able to double most enemies on HHM.

Much more problematically, he can only move 4 squares- less than anyone else in the game. This often means that he must either be left behind to accomplish nothing or carried as a burden by a faster soldier, because there is no time to wait for him on a max ranking run. His high starting stats make him very useful in the early maps, but I want him off the team to make room for someone who can keep up ASAP. Thus he's a crutch character to get through the tricky early chapters, but shouldn't be used beyond that. Again, like Marcus.

“Let me take point. There may be many of them, but numbers are meaningless! We are knights of Pherae. These mice of Laus will never defeat us!” –Marcus, Chapter 14

Speaking of crutch characters, it’s the big M himself. Marcus is one of the most skilled and trusted knights of Pherae and was left behind to guard the Marquess’s wife and child while the other knights rode off with their lord a month ago. He’s known Eliwood since he had just been knighted and the latter was a toddler following him everywhere. Besides acting as Eliwood’s bodyguard, servant, and adviser, he’s also one of the trainers for the younger knights- including Lowen. In this capacity he seems to be a harsh but good teacher and well-respected by his students.

Marcus is what a success looks like. He’s justly proud of himself and his accomplishments and his position, understands his skills and his limitations, and has achieved everything he wanted in life: true friends, a chance to serve three generations of heroic lords of Pherae, and to pass on his skills to future generations. It’s hard not to like a man who likes himself, let alone one who gets so much great screentime with Eliwood and the other knights of Pherae.

Love the character, hate the unit. When this game first came out, people railed about how bad Marcus is because of his terrible growths and tendency to siphon XP from your better, lower-level units.

Later on, people pointed out that he's actually a lot better than other Jeigans in earlier games and that he’s important for doing a couple of things early on in HHM ranking runs. From this came a false notion that he was actually a good character. This idea has grown out of control and has led to him being top or high tier on most people’s tier lists.

In fact, there’s this strange myth now that you can’t win without using him extensively and also that he isn’t terrible lategame. Both of those ideas are completely false. Marcus is useful as a rescue-dropper, a decoy for Guy to attack, and to visit some distant villages on 13x and 14. I sometimes also use him on Whereabouts Unknown to back up the better cavaliers, but that is the extent of his usefulness.

No one whose main function is avoiding combat on the way to visit 2 villages and taking a single hit from a low level guy you want to recruit should be considered a great character. The man’s growths are pretty much the worst in the game and he will kill your XP score if you let him.

What’s more, his "better" stats actually make him LESS useful than previous Jeigans. See, he can’t weaken enemies without killing them! In FE6 Marcus returns but with 5 less Strength. That makes him far, far more useful since he’s able to heavily damage enemies, but leaves them alive for your weaker units. That allows your other people to get the XP they need more easily.

“Yes sir! As per general’s orders, I do 1,000 lance thrusts a day!” –Lowen, support with Marcus

One of Marcus’s protégés, Lowen is a young squire of Pherae training to become a proper knight. Since almost all of the other knights of Pherae vanished with the Marquess, Lowen is brought out onto the battlefield prematurely.

Since he’s still in training and not yet a proper knight, Lowen is rather self-conscious about his relative lack of skill compared to Marcus. As a result, he works hard and very seriously at his job and improving himself. Unfortunately, there isn’t much else to say about him since he doesn’t do very much talking outside supports. Most of those revolve around other knights of Pherae telling he’s improving but needs to keep working at it.

Lowen is the only cavalier you’ll have access to in HHM until chapter 16. It’s sort of like a mini-Lyn’s story for him, and you’d better make use of it if you want him to be effective.

If I had to choose just 1 cavalier to use, Lowen would definitely not be it. His offense is just too bad for him to kill his way through the hordes of enemies I’ll need to face. Indeed, he’s weaker than Kent and slower than Sain at most levels! His main redeeming feature is that his defenses are excellent. No, he can’t tank like Oswin or Hector, but he can tank while moving 7 spaces per turn.

If I had to use exactly 2 cavaliers, I would probably dump Kent and use Sain and Lowen. Kent just can’t handle offense OR defense that well, whereas Sain and Lowen are good at their specialties. I’ll give Lowen a chance, but I expect to dump him partway through the game and he won't be promoted. A much, much better mobile tank joins the party on Kinship’s Bond anyway.

“Hard words make my head hurt!” –Bartre, Support with Canas.

A loudmouthed braggart obsessed with becoming the strongest warrior around and oblivious to how stupid he usually sounds, Bartre is introduced traveling with Dorcas and the pair of them join Eliwood because he’s fighting some bandits. His characterization is fairly inconsistent across his different supports and both games he appears in. His intellect ranges from slightly naïve to too stupid to follow a simple conversation. Too much of a joke character for my taste, but he does have his moments.

Remember magikarp? And how it was worthlessly bad at the start, but if you worked really hard at training it, it would somehow suddenly turn into a giant monster that was not quite worth the effort? That’s Bartre. His starting stats are just horrendous. Enemy brigands are so much faster that they double attack him. The shame of it! And he doesn’t have the HP or def to take hits like that. At the low levels, Dorcas’s greatly superior speed and skill pretty much just makes him better than Bartre. However, Bartre’s growths are far, far better than Dorcas’s in the stats that matter and this will let him overtake Dorcas by the end game if trained hard.

A carefully trained Bartre typically comes into his own somewhere around Chapter 29 and from then on becomes one of the best infantry. The trouble is that it’s incredibly hard to get him to a level of even basic functionality. So the payoff just isn’t worth it, particularly since he’s still only ONE of the best.

So I’m going to use Bartre here and there, but unless he happens to gain speed on every single level up, he is going to end up warming the bench. And challenging it to fights. “And you call yourself the toughest bench alive?!”

“We owe him our lives, and I want to repay him.” –Rebecca, Chapter 11 (Eliwood’s Story)

Eliwood saved Rebecca's village and she’s so impressed with his heroism that she decides to join him on his quest.

Remember how I mentioned Wil was Pheraean and left with his best friend to go make a name for himself, leaving behind his friend’s sister? That’s Rebecca. They lived nextdoor and although he was oblivious, it seems like she had something of a childhood crush on him. Either way, she was angry that he just took off with her brother without so much as a goodbye and then she never heard from either of them again until now.

While supports with her are key to uncovering the secrets of some other people’s pasts, she doesn’t get that much development herself. She pretty much just seems to be a somewhat foolish and rather volatile young woman who spends way too much time obsessing over the men in the group instead of being her own person and getting her own character development. Since she’s about 15 at the most, I find it more than a little creepy that she has romantic supports with them at all, let alone so many. Not quite as weird as Nino at least. What is it with Fire Emblem and child soldiers anyway?

Rebecca is an archer, archers are horrible, QED Rebecca is horrible. But how horrible is she exactly? Pretty darned horrible because her only real strength is her admittedly high speed. Wil is stronger by far and Rath is stronger than Wil and almost as fast as her with far better defenses and an uber horse. Under no circumstances should you try to train Rebecca. Just use her early on to soften up enemies for a real character to kill.

The third and final lord in the game, Eliwood is the main character and the hero of the story. Although he’s very young, his good upbringing in one of the more benevolent noble families in Elibe and training with great knights like Marcus have shaped him into a just, caring, and highly capable individual with a strong sense of noblesse oblige.

Unlike Lyn (who has flaws but doesn’t acknowledge them) and Hector (who does and wants to outgrow them), Eliwood is pretty unimpeachable and more or less always does the right thing no matter how hard it might be. And when people suffer because of something he had to do, he regrets it and tries to make amends. He’s empathetic, polite, kind, and honorable at all times, but not in a way that makes him seem superhuman. His relationships with his friends and family show him to be a profoundly normal sort of person. He’s not a hero because he’s an unstoppable warrior like Hector but because he’s a fundamentally decent everyman who’s good at leading people and doesn’t give up.

Statistically, Eliwood gets a lot of flak for not being as great as Hector. Although some people cruelly dub him ‘Failiwood’, he’s actually a rather good character with pretty solid growths across the board. It’s only his starting stats that are bad.

The other thing to consider is that Eliwood is essentially a cavalier- he just doesn’t start off with his horse. Cavaliers and paladins are not top notch combat units like Hector, but what they lack in raw power they make up for in mobility. Eliwood will end up with a nice 7 move compared to Hector's mere 5. He also REALLY benefits from getting lances upon promotion.

So how does he shape up against, say, Sain, the greatest other cavalier in the game? Lategame, Eliwood is pretty much just better. Because Sain will ram into his low strength cap early, Eliwood eventually catches up. Meanwhile Eliwood is better than him in every single other stat- much better in some. Sain's only advantages are 1 point more move and the ability to use axes. Those are serious, but less important than Eliwood's statistical superiority. So yeah, don’t knock Eliwood in the late game.

The trouble is that (like all lords) he promotes late. And he promotes for double price. Not even Hector is worth double price to promote. So unless he's amazingly good, I won’t be promoting Eliwood and he won’t see much use once he hits level 20 unpromoted.

That Eliwood’s Rapier is not good compared to Lyn’s Mani Katti- let alone the dreaded Wolf Beil- is another reason he gets a lot of disrespect. As I’ve said before, being super-effective is really only good if your weapon’s Might is high, and the rapier has the least Might of any of the special weapons. Further, most of the unit types it’s super-effective against will have weapon triangle advantage against it, a significant problem. On the other hand, having decent damage with nigh-perfect aim early on isn’t nothing.

“Heh heh heh… Noble sirs. Alms for a poor villager.” –Zagan, Chapter 12 (Eliwood’s Story)

Everyone’s favorite chubby murderer, Zagan was hired by the Black fang to hire some other guys to kill Eliwood. They probably should have sent Wire after Eliwood instead because Zagan immediately gives his ambush away and completely flubs the whole operation.
He’s the first boss in the whole game to move- deciding to do so several turns in when he sees you’ll kill all his men if he doesn’t help them. With a steel axe and 14 strength, he hits like a truck but has no accuracy or other notable abilities.
Hiring this worthless thug was Ephidel’s first fail. It will not be his last.

Playing Through:

Rebecca isn’t going to be much help, so she’s going to go get that secret book for me. But first she stops at a house and this villager talks about how he saw Marquess Pherae’s group go this way.

And he’s quite terrified that a group that powerful just vanished into thin air. I wonder what sorts of ‘terrible somethings”s exist or are imagined to exist in Elibe. It would have been interesting to hear this guy’s guesses about what happened.

Meanwhile, the useful guys are doing useful things. As I mentioned, Hector can’t 1-shot these guys with his Wolf Beil and they’re not worth 2 charges of it. So I’ve got to use my handaxe, even though I’d like to conserve that too. Oswin can’t fight alongside Hector the whole time because Matthew and Serra will need help, but I need him to let me take down this Pegasus knight immediately.

On the southern front, I want Eliwood in the front on that fortress, but he can’t reach it. Time for a rescue drop!


Next turn, Eliwood and the rest of the southern company work on the remaining enemies. Notice that Eliwood v Brigand is way too close to an even fight. Eliwood kills definitely in 3 hits, Brigand kills in 2 if he doesn’t miss and his hit chance is solid despite the weapon triangle.

It took Lowen’s help to let Eliwood finish that guy, but Lowen can’t stand up to 2 brigands + an archer after taking a hit, so… time for a rescue drop!

This guy. This darned brigand and his handaxe. He’s got loads of good terrain available, weapon triangle vs Oswin, and Hector can’t hit at the best of times till he has more levels. One time I was trying to max rank but this guy just ran onto the central peaks and refused to come down- even to attack Serra. Other times he’s just dodged everyone for so many turns that I had to restart. This playthrough though he was only moderately challenging. Still, I consider him to be the true boss of the level. Zagan is much easier to kill.

As I mentioned, Matthew and Serra will need help. One thing Oswin is good for is blocking. Another is putting that great javelin he starts with to work immediately.

Matthew finishes that archer next turn and gets a great level. Strength is so useful for him right now.

You cannot grasp the true form of Oswin’s attack!
Seriously, can someone explain what knights are even doing in their criticals? Which way is he facing? Why is he standing like that? What the heck happened to his head? I’ve looked through it frame by frame and it never makes sense to me.

Remember, the bottom front has no healers to it, so what you’ve got to do is let everyone take some of the damage. As long as you don’t give the enemy a chance to counterattack your injured people, it doesn’t matter that they’re at 1 HP.

Bartre and Lowen are hurt, but they can take a hit from a Pegasus knight. Marcus is preparing to engage Zagan.

Rebecca has got the secret book, so I’m having her go to the vendor just to point out again that the selection always varies level by level. Notice that I have no gold. I need to get Matthew with his red gem to the armory to sell it. Where was this lady last level when I actually needed vulneraries though?


Now Zagan is moving toward Marcus, but I don’t want to kill him with Marcus. Eliwood can do it, but he needs a rescue chain to get him there. So Lowen still stop here, then Marcus will move 1 left and take Eliwood and drop him right, and then Marcus can keep right on moving and stop on the mountain to fight Zagan.

Wheee! With that level up, Hector can now instant kill Pegasus knights with his Wolf Beil. Assuming he doesn’t impale himself on that lance he’s jumping into first.

Actually I’ll admit to making a newb mistake here and rewinding it. I sent Matthew in to do my shopping, but then I could only buy 3 things instead of 5 because I don’t have Merlinus yet and I forgot to have Serra walk up and take his lockpick and iron sword away to free up his inventory space. Final shopping list: 2 iron axes (for hector and for sain later on/ a spare for now), 2 iron swords (Eliwood and Guy), and 1 Iron Lance (Marcus and then Florina and then a spare once I can retire Oswin).

So my plan worked, Marcus heavily injured Zagan and left him killable by Eliwood from the safety of the mountain. My chance of death looks rather high, but remember True Hit. His real chance of killing Eliwood considering true hit and that he gets 2 tries is a low 6%

A good start on Eliwood. What I’d really like is Strength, Speed, and Defense as usual, but every stat is valuable at the moment.

It’s turn 5, Zagan is the last survivor. He’ll suicide to Eliwood before my next turn, so I win in 5. Sweet. I think 4 is juuuuuust possible, but only by feeding everything to Marcus + getting lucky on the top front. And 3 turns ahead of schedule is pretty great.

Reunions and introductions all around begin.

The exact relationship of Hector with Marcus and Oswin with Eliwood is something I’d like to learn more about.

This is actually Market’s idea, and it’s remarkably stupid for such a brilliant tactician. Soldiers of this realm were standing by and watching Eliwood get attacked if not outright participating. That their lord has also been targeted seems much less likely than that he’s an enemy.

Remember, Market wasn’t actually present for Hector’s previous battle- she was actually with Eliwood for Eliwood’s chapter 11. This is kind of weird and I’m not sure why they didn’t have Hector’s story involve Hector being with Market from the beginning since most things are from Market’s perspective.

Total Restarts: 0
Turn Surplus: -3 (Makin’ progress!)
Things I Regret Missing: The lockpick and that darned archer on Chapter 11, this one brigand who suicided to Marcus on chapter 12.