The Let's Play Archive

Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword

by Melth

Part 18: Chapter 14 and The War Room Part 14 (Battle Preparations: General Principles)

Man, the title is such a spoiler! Really, this chapter kills a potentially interesting plot twist by telling you repeatedly that a betrayal is coming.

Chapter Summary:
Marquess Laus and Ephidel- the Black Fang representative who killed Marquess Santaruz- receive word that Eliwood is entering their lands. Ephidel realizes that this must mean that he completely bungled killing Helman and that Eliwood now knows something of their plans and could tell Marquess Ostia at any time. He and Marquess Laus decide to send Marquess Laus’s son, Erik, to try to trick and ambush Eliwood. As it becomes clear Erik needs help, Ephidel stupidly decides to just leave and allow Eliwood to discover their whole scheme, persuading Marquess Laus not to send his still-enormous army to help Erik and to instead abandon his realm and son. Eliwood and Hector capture Erik and get him to reveal what he knows of his father’s scheme and Ephidel’s role in it.

And Ostia’s spies knew this from the start, as reported in Hector’s story only. That Ostia has not done anything about this up till now (like tell Eliwood) kind of makes Uther look bad. Granted, he needs to maintain the illusion of stability and unity in Lycia, but by not acting at all or telling anyone he gave Marquess Laus the opportunity to engage in further treachery and himself betrayed one of his closest allies.

As I’ve mentioned before, Ephidel puts on a show of being cunning and in control of the situation- as well as most of the people he deals with- but it’s actually fairly clear he’s foolish at the best of times and a complete failure at his job. This is another case as he apparently fails to understand that the greatest power in Lycia learning of their treachery would be disaster. Marquess Laus has to point this out to him.

Marquess Laus and his son devise a plot to kill Eliwood before he can get word to Ostia. Erik and Eliwood know each other and they decide that Eliwood might lower his guard if Erik talks to him, giving them a chance to ambush him and his forces.

As Hector and Eliwood consider that a war against Laus might be necessary, Eliwood gives perhaps my favorite speech of the game, explaining that he hates war and killing because he knows that it always leaves families and innocent relatives of the men he has to fight bereaved. Of the 3 lords, Eliwood is the only one to express any regret about having had to kill anyone – let alone understanding that even if he’s justified in killing the enemies who attack him, he’s still hurting people who don’t deserve it and causing collateral damage. It’s this more mature understanding of the injustices of war and compassion for his enemies tempered with an understanding that sometimes he still has no choice but to fight that makes him the hero of the game and gives him a closer relationship with Athos later on. And out of character it’s fairly rare to see this kind of recognition that violence causes more problems than it solves in a turn based strategy game. It’s another case of the unusual depth that I appreciate about this game.

Erik rides out to talk to Eliwood while Oswin and Hector- suspicious there might be an ambush about to happen- walk out to scout. Once again, the game spoils that Erik is an enemy by making him a red unit. This is definitely a time when I think the cutscenes showing the enemy talking among themselves are a bad idea. It would have been better if the player as well as Eliwood could be surprised by Erik’s treachery. Besides that not knowing everything that’s about to happen is more interesting, it also helps involve players in games emotionally when they share the characters’ perspective more closely.

Eliwood almost immediately outsmarts Erik, not telling him anything he wants to know and tripping him up until he just gives up and reveals that he has them surrounded and is about to attack.

Preparations & The Map:
At long last I can do battle preparations! And just in time since they really matter on this chapter! But first, let’s look at my rankings!

Heck yeah!

After trading equipment around until everyone finally has the gear they’re supposed to, the first thing to do while preparing for a map is always to scan through all the enemies and check their gear. You need to note the presence of dangerous weapons (killer weapons, anti-cavalry weapon like horseslayers, etc.) and also any valuable items to steal. No one has anything more valuable then a vulnerary on this level. Even vulneraries are worth stealing if you can, but I won’t be able to in this level because Matthew is going to be very busy.

Objective: Defeat all enemies
Secondary Objective: Recruit Erk by talking to him with Serra
Secondary Objective: Recruit Priscilla by visiting the southern village
Secondary Objective: Get the iron blade by visiting the northern village
Reinforcements: 2 brigands will spawn in the northwestern peaks and try to destroy the northern village, several pirates will spawn a few turns apart from the westernmost fortress in the south and try to destroy the southern village, and the other two fortresses will spawn Pegasus knights who fly north toward Merlinus. All of these reinforcements stop if Erik is defeated, and that’s essential for winning quickly since their late spawn turns and the long while they take to reach the mainland makes it hard to end the map quickly otherwise.
Turn Limit: 10. Getting in before this time limit is by far the hardest aspect of the map.
Notably, Erk’s starting position is not visible on the preparation screen so it’s probably worth restarting once you start the map and find him.

The War Room, Part 14
We interrupt this discussion of battle preparations to tell you how to do battle preparations! There’s a ton to be said on this topic, so this time I’m just going to introduce the way you should think about it and talk about some generalities and give an example of what I mean. I’ll go into more detail about the specifics in future War Rooms.

Perhaps the single most important factor to successfully completing a map on HHM- let alone max ranking it- is to do your battle preparations well. Battle preparations are the all-important bridge between your strategy and your tactics. In fact, it’s sometimes possible to outright trivialize a map before the first turn with good preparations and it’s always possible to ensure failure with sufficiently bad preparations.

Ultimately, good battle preparations are the process of matching jobs you need done with units armed with appropriate gear and starting positions. That has some important implications, among them that every unit you bring must have at least 1 job to do (even if it’s just getting XP so as to level up for future use or to pump your XP ranking). If they don’t, don’t bring them.

So the first step is to examine the map and the enemies and determine what goals you have (such as which villages you want to reach, which characters you need to talk to, which items you’re going to steal, which dangerous enemies you’re going to take down fast, how quickly you want to win, etc.).

Each goal will require that one or more jobs be done to accomplish it. For example, visiting a village will require getting a unit to that village and might also require killing enemies in the way and preventing brigands from reaching it first.

Now that you know your goals (hopefully in order of importance) and the jobs required, you need to figure out which units are best at each. Remember that just because a unit like Marcus can do a given job more easily than anyone else doesn’t mean he’s actually the best man for the job. You also need to consider what economists call the ‘opportunity cost’, which essentially means you need to consider the value of the other goals you can’t have Marcus work on because you’re using him for the first goal. The opportunity cost also includes the value lost by not having someone else do the job instead of Marcus (like the XP they would gain).

For example, look at this map. One goal I have is to bring Erk to Serra so I can recruit him. I could achieve that easily by having Marcus start close to the enemy soldier in the northeast of my starting position and just run out and grab Erk immediately and then drop him near Serra next turn. No one else can do that as easily.

So does that make him the best for the job of making sure I recruit Erk? No, because other units can manage the job of killing the soldier in the way and rescuing Erk, whereas only Marcus can safely reach the southern village before the pirates get to it and Marcus cannot do both. So by having Marcus rescue Erk, I would lose out on the value of recruiting Priscilla from the southern village and the value of feeding more XP to someone like Lowen. That’s a huge opportunity cost, so using Marcus for this is a bad idea.

To figure out the ideal characters for every job, go through your goals and the required jobs from most to least important. If a given important goal can only be accomplished by a particular character (or group of characters), then clearly those characters must be given that job, so you can exclude them from consideration for other goals (unless there’s a way to accomplish multiple goals at once or in succession). Finding ways to do multiple jobs efficiently with the same unit either at once or in succession is often extremely important and the only way to have enough troops to spare for more difficult jobs.

After you’ve figured out if it’s actually necessary that any particular unit do any particular job, you have more flexibility for evaluating who’s best used for the others. While figuring this out, you should be fluidly switching between viewing the map and the enemy stats and gear and those of your own units to make sure you know what you actually need to do to succeed.

Now that you know who needs to do what, examine the map and figure out what weapons or items each character needs to accomplish their jobs and give it to them. If two or more characters both need the same piece of gear, think about whether there’s a way to trade it from one to the other after the first is done using it. If not, give it to whoever’s job is more important and try to make do with something else for the less important guy.

Finally, position everyone for maximum speed and effectiveness. Typically it will be quite obvious what general area everyone needs to start in once you know where they need to go to do their job. But of course, nearly everyone will want to be close to the front and not everyone can be there.
Unless the enemy is right on top of you and you don’t have any actions to spare, you may wish to consider putting cavalry in the front, having your infantry who need to go somewhere fast spend their turn running past the cavalry, then have the cavalry pick them up and carry them as far as possible, then have other cavalry run up and take and drop the infantry. This can be especially useful with characters like your main lord whose position cannot be changed.
Barring tricks like that, you may wish to count out how many squares of movement people have to places they need to go (like villages or chests or important enemies they must take down). Try to either move them backward in formation such that they need the same number of turns of movement to arrive or forward in formation such that they arrive a turn earlier depending on how much speed matters for them. Suppose for example that Matthew is currently 32 spaces from a chest and I don’t need to waste any turns opening doors or killing enemies on the way. It will take him 6 turns to reach that chest. It would also take 6 turns if I move him up to 4 spaces back, potentially allowing other people to start closer to the front with no loss. Start people as far back as will let them get to where they need to go in time.

Let me use my own battle preparations for this map as an example (you may want to flip back to the full map picture as you look at it):

So my goals (in rough order of importance) are: recruit Erk, reach the southern village, reach the northern village, win in 8 turns or less, do some shopping, give very few kills to Marcus, and keep Merlinus alive.

Recruiting Erk will require killing the soldier in the way, rescuing him and hauling him back to Serra, and talking to him with Serra. Rebecca and Bartre are terrible units who can’t do much else but can kill a lone soldier, so they’ll take care of that. Meanwhile, only Lowen and Marcus can grab Erk once that’s done. Lowen will suffice, so I can use Marcus for other stuff.

Reaching the southern village requires tearing down at the very least 2 cavaliers and one pirate and arriving by about turn 4 or so. All of those jobs can be done by Marcus, and pretty much only by Marcus because of the speed requirement and the fact that Lowen can’t handle the cavaliers.

Reaching the northern village will require killing the soldier in the way (which will already be done as part of recruiting Erk, encouraging me to use the same unit for both if possible) and getting to it by about turn 5 or 6, plenty of time.

Winning in 8 turns means killing Erik by turn 4 or 5 so as to stem the flow of reinforcements, tearing apart his main force, taking out his large force of soldiers to the east, and quickly picking off the scattered troops that will appear in the far northwest and from the bottom fortresses. Only Hector and Marcus are capable of killing Erik easily. Marcus is needed elsewhere and giving him few kills requires not charging him into the middle of the enemy formation, so that leaves only Hector. But Hector can’t get there fast enough! However, Hector and Marcus need to go the same direction for a little while and Marcus has at least a little time to spare, so I might be able to use a rescue from Marcus to help Hector get to Erik pretty fast. Only Oswin is capable of standing up to the numerous soldiers to the east because they’re all armed with lances but my axe wielders suck other than Hector and Marcus, who are both busy. So Oswin must remain behind. Conveniently, this also puts him in a good position to guard Merlinus and deal with southern reinforcements but he can’t do it alone, he needs an axe-wielder. Bartre sucks and can’t even beat up Pegasus knights, so it has to be Dorcas. But there are a few turns to spare, so Dorcas can first go help Marcus rescue-drop Hector. Also, Matthew will have to deal with the pirate reinforcements because only he has the movement and stats to do so effectively, plus he’s useless for most other jobs here. Meanwhile, I decide that taking out Erik’s main force will probably require the use of almost everyone else. Lowen will have to do a lot of the work taking out the northwestern units on his own due to his high move speed.

Doing some shopping probably can be accomplished my Marcus en route to Priscilla or Priscilla after being recruited, so no problem there.

So I have the units and their jobs decided and in this case no one really needs any special gear. I just make sure everyone has iron weapons, handaxes or javelins, plus the rapier for Eliwood and the Wolf Beil for Hector. I’ve decided that since my tankier units have other jobs, Guy is probably the best one to be leading the charge down the middle so he should be in the front and have a vulnerary. Bartre sucks so he gets a vulnerary. Lowen will need to fight alone, so he gets a vulnerary. That about concludes gearing up.

I think you can see how this formation lets me accomplish all my goals. Rebecca and Bartre are both as far back as possible while still being able to kill the soldier on round 1, Lowen is in the front because he must be in the front to grab Erk on turn 1, Serra is nearby so she can easily talk to Erk once he’s dropped, Marcus and Dorcas are positions for maximum rescue-dropping efficiency of Hector without preventing Guy from aggroing the myrmidons, Eliwood and Matthew are behind Guy since I want Guy leading the charge against the main force for a bit here, and Oswin is in the back since he needs to be there to fight the eastern soldiers.

Back to Battle Preparations & The Map

This map is quite easy to win, but quite hard to win quickly. The reason is that the southern enemy reinforcements will retreat back to their fortresses and slowly regen there if injured. That can easily cost you 10 turns of waiting, completely dooming your tactics score. So you must use whatever means necessary to ensure that no pirate or Pegasus knight is ever given a chance to limp away. Either instant kill them outright, or let injure themselves attacking you and then finish them off on your next turn.
Further, the top left enemy units are inaccessible till about turn 6 or so and hard to get to even then because of the rain that starts (this is the last chapter for a LONG time on which rain or snow is a problem).
Plus reinforcements will continue to slowly spawn for quite a while if allowed to, wasting yet more time. The solution is to kill Erik by turn 4 or 5 to stop the reinforcements, while having people in place to take out the ones you can’t prevent from spawning as fast as possible and making sure you NEVER leave a southern unit injured but alive as its turn begins.

Oh, as the map begins we get this little reassurance from Serra that she’s not worried about being surrounded because the two of you are an unstoppable team. This game is full of lots of hidden comments and conversations between characters, far too many to find them all on one playthrough. It’s that kind of extra polish and unnecessary, interesting content to this game that really makes it a gem.


I know nothing of combat. Please! You must protect me!” –Merlinus, Chapter 13x

A traveling Lycian merchant who took up with Eliwoo and Hector for safety in these difficult times as well as out of gratitude for saving his life. He’s kind of melodramatic and more than a little strange in his speech and mannerisms. Histrionic might not be unreasonable at times.
He either has terrible luck or is a terrible businessman since every store he ever tries to open in either FE6 or 7 ultimately closes unprofitably iirc. However, he eventually becomes a trusted retainer of house Pherae due to his strange and clingy brand of loyalty.
He’s another guy who’s too much of a joke for my taste in this game, but for some reason he’s dead serious in FE6.

Merlinus is not a normal unit. He cannot fight or move (till he promotes WAY later in the game) or even take actions like using vulneraries or rescuing allies (so his huge 24 aid does nothing). In fact, you could kind of say he’s not a unit at all (till he promotes). More like a cracked wall or a snag, but with a chance of dodging. The only interaction possible with him other than enemies attacking him (oh and doing support with him if you actually wanted to) is putting items into or taking items out of storage. This functions a lot like trading with him, with his inventory having 100 spaces instead of 5. This will be a rarely used command. Pretty much never most likely.
But Merlinus plays an important role. As long as he exists on the map, your characters can automatically send new items acquired when they have 5 to him. If he’s not on the map because he died or you didn’t bring him or he’s just not allowed on that chapter, you will instead have to drop something. That’s a horrible waste of money, NEVER drop things. So always keep Merlinus alive and bring him on every chapter. There’s no possible downside.
Notably, Merlinus levels up every time he survives a chapter and his stat gains are seriously good. Within a few chapters he’ll be nigh-invulnerable because his HP is high and his tent somehow dodges enemy attacks. Like all the time. His dodge chance becomes huge. Protecting Merlinus is basically no trouble past the early chapters. Once he hits level 20 he’ll promote and gain the ability to move around slowly. This doesn’t really affect much of anything since your units will almost never use the convoy command, so they almost never need to be next to him.

“Marquess Laus is barring my way, and…I’m trapped.” –Priscilla, Chapter 14

Priscilla is a young woman of noble Lycian heritage but was raised for most of her life in Etruria after her parents killed themselves in a complicated political incident. She’s allegedly very beautiful and graceful with perfect manners for a noblewoman, which causes the lecherous Marquess Laus to take a fancy to her. When she refuses his advances, he refuses to allow her to leave his domain. Ugh, what a creep.
She had been traveling back through Lycia to try to find her long-lost brother with Erk as her bodyguard when they were accosted. Since then he’s been running around looking for help from the villagers to find a way to get her out of Laus while she waits uselessly in one of those villagers. Really I get the impression she’s not that capable and has to rely on him for just about everything, but that’s par for the course for a noble I suppose.
Other than her sometimes creepy relationship with her brother with its incestuous undertones (even he seems to find her style of love for him rather weird at times) I like Priscilla as a character. Her supports are among the more interesting ones in the game and she’s one of the few people who isn’t a jerk to Lucius, which I appreciate. She also strikes me as a good illustration of what a fairly average person from the nobility would be like. A life of privilege and power would make many people completely rotten and self-absorbed, but most would probably just end up naïve and ignorant of how to survive in the world outside their palace walls as well as the suffering of less fortunate people. That describes her fairly well. In the end, it’s clear that she’s been something of a prisoner in a gilded cage and continues to be one since she can’t marry most of her possible love interests due to differences in status and doesn’t really seem to have or acquire many basic life skills. It’s not that she’s stuck up or lazy by nature, she was just raised to think dealing with commoners or doing work was not something she was supposed to do and she doesn’t really have the force of personality or intellect to see that she can make her own choices and need not be defined by her station.

Remember Serra? Everything I said about her being a necessary evil because being a dedicated staff user is terrible applies to Priscilla too. However, Priscilla is the lesser of two evils due to her far-superior mobility. Their stats are basically the same across the board for most purposes other than that. Both have horrid defenses but decent dodging which is not enough to save them. Both have cruddy magic power (Priscilla’s is FAR better to start with, but that doesn’t matter at all. In fact, a lower score might actually be desirable on occasion). And that’s about all there is to say about them. Healing is important in that it’s a source of XP that does not otherwise exist as well as a good way to keep your army functioning and it will often be important to have 2 groups of troops fighting separately each need a healer, so I’ll often bring both her and Serra when I can. But I’m really looking forward to being able to dump both of them in favor of a real unit once I can promote a magic user or two.

“How I’ve longed to smash you and your pathetic morality into pieces!” – Eric, Chapter 14

Fans of FE6 will note that this character and this map and Priscilla’s situation are all eerily familiar. Welcome to Collapse of the Alliance 2: Electric Boogaloo! They’re even both the 4th chapter of their stories! All in all, I consider this version of the map to be the better and more interesting and I’m kind of amused by their choice to more or less replicate the FE6 situation.

Erik is the son of Darin (Marquess Laus) and he’s a dunce who thinks he’s a genius (grasping this is key to understanding his behavior later in the chapter and actually in the sequel). He and Hector and Eliwood were schooled together to some extent, but he’s always hated Hector and Eliwood for being principled and proud of it while Hector has always hated him for being foppish and foolishly obsessed with properly noble appearance and behavior. Eliwood has a more neutral opinion of him. Like his father, he’s a traitor to Lycia through and through but perhaps because of their previous history, Eliwood and Hector spare him. Unlike his father he doesn’t necessarily approve of the Black Fang, but he wrongly trusts his father’s judgment.

He has surprisingly good magic resistance but is not really notable other than that. What’s more, he’s probably weaker overall in HHM than in Eliwood’s story. Why? Horseslayer, that’s why!

He used to have a much more dangerous silver lance. This thing is only dangerous to 2 people who shouldn’t even be fighting him and it’s so heavy that it slows him down horrendously. Killing him is no problem, the only difficulty is killing him fast since he starts so far away and doesn’t start moving toward you till turn 4 or 5 or so.

Playing Through:

My carefully-thought out starting formation makes my army a well-oiled machine. With no difficulty, Rebecca and Bartre clear a path for Lowen to grab Erk while Oswin moves into optimal position to slaughter all of the east enemies. Marcus and Dorcas drop Hector 9 squares from his starting position while leaving Dorcas where he needs to be to run block and block the Pegasus knight from hitting Merlinus next turn and Marcus prepared to rush for Priscilla. All of them have handaxes so that the nearby archers have no choice but to take heavy counterattack damage. Meanwhile the sword-wielding trio led by Guy stops just short of archer range but close enough that the mercenaries will run up and hurt themselves attacking Guy.

So on turn 2 the wave of enemies near your starting position advances. The troops with Erik mostly stay put until turn 4 when he orders a charge. Both archers stupidly choose to attack Marcus rather than someone they have a chance against out of a malicious desire to deny me XP at the cost of their own lives.
This turn is pretty much the trickiest part of the battle since there are way too many enemies to kill and I need to press on as much as I can- particularly with Hector.

Actually a solid level for my most worthless unit. And I didn’t even need to let her steal the kill from someone more useful this time.

Bartre and Lowen form the beginnings of a wall and Serra recruits Erk. Lowen will have plenty of time for the north village after this wave is dealt with.

When you can’t kill every enemy, all you need to do is make sure the enemy can’t kill any of you. Key to that is forming walls. Provide minimum surface area for enemies to attack your squishy units and the enemy will have to attack durable people instead.
Here, for example, Bartre can survive the attack by both soldiers and the archer due to weapon triangle and high defense. Lowen will be fine due to very high defense. Hector is an invulnerable god of battle. Matthew and Eliwood could both be killed by 3 attacks, so I just made a formation such that it’s impossible for 3 people to attack any of them. It’s a simple but important tactic and is the one you must fall back on whenever the more-optimal all-out offense to gun down every threatening enemy in the area at once tactic fails due to bad luck or the like.

The wall makes the rest of that wave effortless so I forge ahead. Guy takes a nasty hit and gains a bad level as a knight attacks him, but it’s ok because it let me advance him his full 5 spaces and Serra is on hand.

Marcus finally was too slow to double attack something so this pirate survived. If I let it survive this turn I lose and must restart. It will immediately run out onto the ocean and escape my reach and will then waste 10 turns slowly waddling to a fort, sitting on it till it hits full HP, and then walking back. And I can’t win till it’s dead. Matthew will solve the problem though and will deal with the other pirates who come up well enough.

Lowen gets the top village and moves to engage the brigands. This old man is one of several who describe Marquess Laus’s depredations. Apparently Priscilla is not the only one he’s tried to have hauled off to the castle to sleep with. Power corrupts and being raised in incredible privilege and told you’re better than everyone else by virtue of noble blood for your whole life creates monsters with no regard for other people’s value as human beings. Marquess Laus expresses that principle by being a horrible rapist who uses his soldiers and the protection of his castle to get away with his crimes. It’s satisfying to put an axe through his head in a few chapters, but at the same time it’s interesting to wonder whether someone as decent as Eliwood would be like this wretch if he’d been raised by Darin’s parents instead of his own.

Unfortunately, my forces are kind of in disarray as I reach Erik this time because killing the last group of enemies was harder than expected due to unlucky misses. This means I needed to give Hector the Wolf Beil so he could kill more of them straight off and do crowd control. This means everyone else will be able to safely approach and pick off the survivors next turn. Meanwhile Marcus is nearly to Priscilla.

On the way he stops by at the vendor (remember cavalry can keep right on moving after shopping. I didn’t talk much about it this time since I had so much else to say, but putting together a shopping list of stuff you need is an important part of battle preparations too. You don’t want to forget something, so check through what you have and what you’re likely to run out of. I’m gonna buy 2 heal staves and 1 tome of fire. All of those are long term rather than short term investments really since I ultimately intend for Nino to use whatever is left of the Fire Tome and Serra and Priscilla have enough staves for now, just not for 10 chapters from now.

So Erik realizes he’s losing when Hector is 3 squares from smashing his face in and calls for reinforcements. Darin has like 100 more men including some pretty elite troops. If he actually used his whole army, this chapter would be completely unwinnable. But again, Ephidel’s idiocy destroys the Black Fang’s plans.
For no reason he decides that Erik being set back means that he should just leave Laus and allow Eliwood and company to find out their plans and prevent them from reaching fruition. Darin points out that that’s a terrible idea, but Ephidel’s only compromise is to tell Darin to grab his huge remaining army and just leave Laus, abandoning his son to be interrogated and his castle and realm to be turned over to someone else. Ephidel really has absolutely no grasp whatsoever of what about Darin makes him useful to the Black Fang or of tactics, so he completely bungles their best chance to stop Eliwood. Darin has no choice but to go with Ephidel because even if he wins this battle he’s sunk without the Black Fang.

Erik is the first enemy we don’t kill! Hector hauls him off his horse to be interrogated later and the battle continues. Erik didn’t stand a chance. Hector nearly OHKOed him with the Wolf Beil, had like a 10% chance to take 3 damage, and could double attack him. This guy was waaaay harder to deal with when he had a silver lance.


So rain starts up this turn kind of out of nowhere (unless you happen to remember it from Eliwood’s story when the fortuneteller who doesn’t exist in HHM warned you about it). This makes it REALLY hard to finish the chapter fast since almost every unit only moves 2 squares. Except for nomads, they’re slightly better off.

Marcus recruits Priscilla who eagerly seizes the chance to escape Darin’s clutches.

Double darn.

So here’s the moment of truth. I have set things up so that next turn, each Pegasus knight will attack and then take massive damage. Then Dorcas and Oswin have >90% true hit chances to finish them off on their turn. But if either one misses, I must restart the level because the Pegasus knights will fly off to go heal. There’s really nothing one can do to improve this situation since all other units are needed elsewhere and the chance to hit is already so huge. I had to restart 3 times due to this nonsense and terrible luck.

Oswin gets a good level out of it this time.

This chapter is pretty good training for Erk. I told you he’s easy to raise even from level 1. But this level up sucks.

At a house, another villager talks about how terrible life under Darin is and bemoans the fact that their stupid Marquess seems to be preparing for a war against Ostia which they will surely lose. Why would he be doing such a foolish thing? Well on Ephidel’s orders of course. Why would Ephidel order that? Well this time it’s actually not because Ephidel is an idiot. This is foreshadowing of something you’ll discover in a few chapters here.

Bad level for Serra, but who cares? Actually I have had generally terrible level ups this chapter so far, but I’m just grateful to not have been forced to restart by an un-fixable <10% miss again.

Marcus runs toward the battle, not that he’ll reach it in time if all goes well, while Priscilla shops. I want more handaxes and javelins, but they aren’t available so I’ll just pick up an iron sword and iron lance for the cavaliers who will soon be joining.

Yay! My first good level up in a while. This is a pretty solid Eliwood. Even on HHM he’s already holding his own.

Another comment about the lecherous Marquess and his doings.

Turn 8 and I’m about to win.

The chapter complete, Eliwood and Hector question Erik. After discovering that his father betrayed and abandoned him on Ephidel’s dumb orders, Erik reveals the truth- or rather, his poor understanding of the truth. As he explains it, Darin (Marquess Laus), always thought that Laus should be the main power in Lycia instead of Ostia but never talked of actually rebelling to change that. Until one day Ephidel came and showed him something (Erik doesn’t know what) that convinced Darin they could succeed. After that, Darin sent out secret letters to other Marquesses to try to get them onboard with his scheme.

And here’s where Erik gets something wrong. On several occasions I have seen people claim that this is a plot hole: that it is never explained why Elbert approved of this rebellion. They’re wrong. It is clear that Marquess Pherae did not support rebellion. The only one who says or implies he did at any point is Erik (and Oswin briefly buys the story but then apologizes and recants when Hector yells at him). Eliwood is sure his father is innocent. Hector is sure. Eleanora is sure. Elbert himself takes every opportunity to tell Darin to desist. Uther was sure. Ostia’s spy network seems pretty sure eventually.

So Erik says, in direct contradiction of everything we know or ever learn of Elbert and everything anyone believes about him, that Elbert is a traitor. But 1) Erik is a fool, so much so that the villagers even describe him as a dullard and 2) Erik is malicious and just wants to hurt Eliwood. He laughs uproariously after telling Eliwood that his father is probably dead. So if it comes down to Erik’s word vs literally every other piece of evidence in the game, it’s kinda obvious that Erik is either lying to hurt Eliwood or just wrong. Just wrong might be most likely given what he describes next:

As he explains it, Marquess Pherae responded positively to Darin’s initial letter and arranged a meeting to talk about it in person. Erik assumes this was to seal his approval because that was probably what Elbert implied.

And this completely explodes Erik’s dumb idea. Elbert showed up not to approve the rebellion but to tell Darin it was terrible and to expel Ephidel and the Black Fang. When Darin would not be persuaded, Elbert simply left with his knights. At that point, he disappeared because the Black Fang got them.

Distraught at the idea his father is dead, Eliwood flees the room and Hector is left talking to Oswin. Oswin says that if Marquess Pherae is a traitor, Hector needs to stop helping Eliwood.

Hector proceeds to chew Oswin out awesomely for doubting the honor of one of Ostia’s most trusted allies on such stupid evidence.

And tells him to go away, because no way is Hector going to abandon Eliwood because of something Erik said.

Oswin realizes Hector is right and apologizes for everything he said about Marquess Pherae. Convinced that Hector is wiser than he first suspected, Oswin pledges to serve him as well as his brother.

So ends the chapter. So to make sure I’ve properly dispelled the rumors of this ‘plot hole’, let me go over what we know again (spoilers ahead):

1) Erik is a known liar who hates Eliwood and Hector ferociously, tried to murder them by treachery, and takes evident delight in making Eliwood think his father is dead. His word cannot be trusted even if he understands the truth.
2) Erik is repeatedly said to be a buffoon and a dullard, the only people who think otherwise are his father- who admits that he’s biased - and Erik himself. And his actions show that he’s nowhere near as smart as he thinks. For example, Eliwood completely turns the tables on him when Erik tries to subtly find out what Eliwood knows of their schemes.
3) Everyone in the world except for Erik and briefly Oswin has total or close to total confidence in Elbert’s integrity. Eliwood and Marcus talk about the subject several times and both agree they’re sure Elbert did not approve Darin’s plan. Hector is sure. Uther is sure. Eleanora, Elbert’s wife, is sure. And when we actually see Elbert later on he is not only disapproving of but outright opposing Darin’s plans with all his strength as well as still trying to talk Darin out of them.
4) Erik says that after getting Darin’s initial letter (which we may safely presume was rather vague and did not actually say “HEY! YOU WANNA REBEL AGAINST OSTIA?”), Elbert sent a letter apparently approving of the idea and then arranged to come in person to ‘seal his approval’ as Erik assumed
5) Elbert sets off for Laus under the heaviest guard possible. He brought every single one of his elite knights except the aging Marcus and Isadora. Clearly he wanted to be ready for trouble.
6) Upon arrival, Elbert does not seal his approval at all. Instead, he immediately argues vehemently with Darin and tells Darin to kick out Ephidel and the Black Fang (you know, the people who are trying to arrange the rebellion)
7) When Darin can’t be persuaded, Elbert leaves with his knights. At that point the Black Fang attacks him and he disappears.

So what looks likely is that Darin sent a suitably subtle letter to Pherae, hinting that he had a plan he was mulling over but not talking about it openly because then Darin would be completely screwed if either it was intercepted or Pherae made it public. Elbert does not tell his family that Darin is plotting rebellion because he doesn’t know that to be true and doesn’t want to slander him if it’s not. Instead he schedules a meeting with Darin to talk about whatever Darin is trying to say. Knowing that if Darin really is a traitor, this will get ugly, he brings all his best knights with him.
Because he needed Darin to agree to meet him and not prepare a trap, he sent a letter that sounded tentatively approving of whatever vague hints Darin sent.
Erik and Darin assume Pherae legitimately approves. To their surprise, once Elbert has found out that Darin really is plotting rebellion on the orders of the Black Fang, Elbert chews Darin out and tells him not to go through with this treachery and to expel the Black Fang. Darin refuses. Elbert leaves. The Black Fang disappears him. And because Eric is dumb, he doesn’t understand the political subtleties involved in sending veiled letters back and forth. Or he just lies. Either is plausible.

In short, no there isn’t a plot hole here as I see it and I’m kinda tired of people who don’t seem to have actually thought things through saying there is.
What there is is a case where the game assumes the player is smart and doesn’t need to have their hand held and be walked through absolutely everything that happens in the plot step by tiny step with a bunch of cutscenes showing everything your enemies ever did or said in all their scheming. They expect the player to use their brain and put the pieces together, and I think the picture that emerges when one does is a pretty cool one. One of the better bits of the game even perhaps.

Total Restarts: 6. I had HORRIBLE luck on this level preventing the reinforcements from escaping and had to restart after wasting Erik and the whole rest of his army several times.
Turn Surplus: 2 (It’s about to take a dive on the upcoming 0 level, but this is a solid lead)
Things I Regret Missing: The lockpick on chapter 11, that darned archer on chapter 11, this one brigand who attacked Marcus on chapter 12, 2 more brigands who ignored everyone else to attack Marcus on chapter 13x, and 2 archers who ignored Hector and Dorcas (DORCAS!) to attack Marcus on chapter 14