The Let's Play Archive

Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword

by Melth

Part 32: Chapter 23x and The War Room Part 25 (XP Calculations)

Perhaps the most secret sidequest available on Eliwood’s story, this is the second “Kishuna” level. It’s VERY different on HHM. It doesn’t advance the plot much, but it sets up for 32x down the line.

Chapter Summary:
In a truly remarkable blunder, the whole party of like 40 people -some of whom can fly- stumble one by one into some concealed pit traps and wind up in a strange underground complex where they are ambushed by mysterious enemies.
After that side battle ends, they meet the legendary Archsage Athos and confer with him about how to defeat Nergal. He gives them a plan and then teleports them all back to Pherae with the instructions to head east and locate the hidden Shrine of Seals somewhere in Bern.

But first a flashback. Kishuna, the magic seal, remembers his own creation and naming by Nergal.

The only one at this time, that is. Kishuna is one of his early creations.

Yet another peculiar reference to multiple gods when the Elimine church seems to recognize only one. Conceivably these gods include Ninis, Fila, Thor, and Set.

Nergal is immortal, more powerful than anyone else on the continent, and can create life. Yet curiously, he never calls himself a god or even godlike directly. One begins to wonder if Nergal might be religious and unwilling to blaspheme. As a truly ancient practitioner of elder magic, perhaps he’s still a true believer of one of the old religions of Elibe.

Another interesting facet of this conversation is that it shows that Athos and Renault are, to some extent, wrong about Nergal’s character as well as ignorant about his background. At this point, Nergal actually seems to have some genuine interest in his morphs as something other than tools. We’ll see the huge change in him from Kishuna’s perspective later, but we never find out just what it was that caused that.

Actually, that place looks pretty cool to me. But I guess we’ll have to take Pent’s word for it. Hm, wait. He described that horrible, blinding sandstorm as beautiful weather. Yeah nevermind, Pent pretty clearly just has bizarre taste.

They can feel the unsettling and unnatural presence of the magic seal and Hector relates the story of the strange being they fought on Valor. Everyone is still confused about how and why this giant underground lair was kept secret.

And they decide to just kill Kishuna and his minions in hopes that will let them find a way out.

The War Room, Part 25

Since this is the first chapter with masses of promoted enemies and I’m getting into the part of the game where maintaining a proper XP ranking requires more than just not using Marcus, it’s a good time to talk about how experience gained is calculated.

That page has all the details, but the formulae are somewhat complex and it’s not immediately obvious what they mean for proper strategy. I’ll try to explain them and their strategic implications:

Let’s start with a really simple case like 2 fighters. Let’s call them Dorcas and Target. First off, if Dorcas inflicts no damage for ANY reason, he just gets 1 XP. No matter what.

Assuming Dorcas damages Target but doesn’t kill him, he gains 31/3 XP + 1/3 XP per level by which Target level exceeds his. Round down. So if they’re the same level, he gets the familiar10 XP. If Target is 2 levels higher, Dorcas will instead gain 11. If Dorcas is 2 levels higher, he’ll gain 9. If Target is 5 levels higher, Dorcas will gain 12 XP, etc. As you can see, it takes a fairly significant level difference to impact the XP for damaging the enemy much.

Being promoted counts as being TWENTY levels higher for this purpose. That’s significant. If Dorcas is a level 10/1 warrior and Target is a level 10 fighter, Dorcas only gains 6 XP compared to 10 if you didn’t promote him. Note that this means that promoting at level 20 is a smooth transition- you go from effective level 20 to effective level 21. Promoting at level 10 causes an immediate major drop in XP gain. So when you promote early you don’t only miss out on possible stat gains forever, you also miss out on some relatively easy to acquire level ups and skip straight to the hard ones.

We’ve only been talking about XP for damaging so far. What happens if Dorcas kills Target?

First of all, he gains the XP from doing damage. Second, he might gain some more XP depending on their relative levels and whether they’re promoted and such (with +20 being normal). Assuming they’re both equal level fighters, the somewhat misnamed “Experience from defeating (base)” will be 0, so he’ll gain a total of 30 experience.

If Target is a level higher than Dorcas, Dorcas gains THREE more XP in addition to the 1/3 more from before. So 33. If Target is 2 levels higher, he gains 37. And so on. So low level units tend to gain XP very quickly. Next chapter I might have Lucius level 5 fight some level 10 wyverns. If he hits one he’ll gain 12 XP. If he kills one he’ll gain 57. Sweet!

What if Dorcas is higher level though? Well if it’s hard mode, it works exactly as you’d expect: every level he exceeds the target’s by is minus 10/3 XP roughly. In normal mode you get a much smaller penalty- and sometimes actually even a bonus. This is hard mode though, so I won't go into the details.

What happens if one is promoted? Essentially, it counts like the person is 20 levels higher once again. On this chapter, what happens if my level 17 Eliwood kills a level 5 enemy druid? Well he gains 13 XP for doing damage and then 24 for XP from defeating (base) +20 = 57 XP. Awesome.

You’ve probably noticed that bosses give more XP. The exact amount is +40 for killing them, but there’s no benefit from just damaging them. Notably, that 40 can be eaten away by being higher level than them.

So the basic XP system for hard mode is:
XP for doing damage = 31/3 + (enemy level – own level)/3
XP for getting a kill = [20 + 3*(enemy level – own level) , minimum 0] + XP for doing damage
XP for a boss kill = [60 + 3*(enemy level – own level) , minimum 0] + XP for doing damage

Always round down, XP gain never exceeds 100, and being promoted is being 20 levels higher.

So how much does it help to use a level 5 character instead of a level 10 one? Well basically you get +17 XP per kill. If that unit gets 5 kills, you basically earned a total of 100 more XP. That’s no small amount, though this benefit is decreased slightly by the fact that earning XP faster means you level up faster at which point your bonus decreases.

Using a level 10 unpromoted character instead of a level 1 promoted character is +37 XP per kill, so you should definitely try to cycle your promoted characters out and train some unpromoted people instead.

A few interesting implications:
1. Being high level basically does not hurt your XP gain for doing damage much, but is crippling for kill XP. Being low level basically does not help your XP gain for doing damage much, but gives you huge bonuses to kill XP.
2. Order of attacks matters. Let’s imagine you have level 12 Dorcas and level 8 Bartre fighting level 10 Target. Each can hit him once and he’ll die in 2 attacks. If Bartre damages and Dorcas kills, then Bartre gains 11 and Dorcas gains 23. Total = 34. If Dorcas damages and Bartre kills then Dorcas gains 9 and Bartre gains 37. Total = 46. So you gain 12 more total XP just by switching the order the same people attack. The profit from having the lower level guy get the kill is 3*(high level guy level – low level guy level).
3. 1 and 2 suggest that it’s going to be better to bring, say, Isadora the paladin level 1 and have her feed kills to Lucius the level 3 monk than it is to bring Bartre and Dorcas both level 10 and just have them fight however they want, even though the total level of Isadora and Lucius is higher (24 vs 20). The caveat is that if Isadora ends up getting kills, you get hurt badly. And on the enemy turn, people might suicidally attack her. You’ve got to avoid that.
4. The penalty for being high level basically stops increasing after a while. Level 19 Dorcas killing level 1 Target gets 4 XP. Level 10 Dorcas gets 7. That’s actually a rather small difference. So it’s not actually that bad to use very overleveled people compared to moderately overleveled people.
5. But max level people waste LOTS of XP. Level 20 Dorcas killing level 1 target instantly drops from 4 to 0 compared to level 19. And if the target was also level 19, the XP wasted is a horribly high 30 or so. NEVER use a level 20 person you don’t have to. If a character hits max level, either promote them or bench them forever. Corollary: don’t let people you want to use in the lategame hit level 20 early.
6. You’re wasting XP if you kill a unit that’s more than about 20 levels over you. For bosses it’s if they’re more than about 7 levels over than you. So feed bosses to your higher level people.

Now you’ll notice that I made a point of talking about fighters earlier. That’s because a select few ‘weak’ classes actually gain or grant XP differently. Let’s talk about gaining first. Among unpromoted classes, only thieves are affected.

Your thieves actually gain 15.5 or so XP for damaging a normal enemy of the same level, +1/2 instead of 1/3 for every level by which the enemy level exceeds yours. So 50% more XP for damaging enemies than fighters or other people of the same level would gain.

What about kill XP for your thieves? Essentially, they gain a bonus equal to their level relative to your normal classes (on top of the doing damage XP increase). So level 10 Dorcas killing level 10 fighter Target gains 30 XP, but level 10 Matthew killing the same guy would gain a total of 45. If they’re both level 1 killing a level 1 Target then Dorcas gets 30 and Matthew gets 36. So the higher level they get, the more thieves benefit from kills relative to your other classes really. The same principle even applies when they’re promoted. A level 1 assassin Matthew killing a level 1 warrior Target gets 56 XP, while level 1 warrior Dorcas would get 30.

Clerics and troubadours get the same effective bonuses, but of course they can’t actually attack till they’re promoted.

Conversely, enemy clerics and troubadours essentially give you a penalty to your XP gained equal to their level compared to what you’d get from a target of the same level from a normal class.

Enemy thieves are a little bit different. They do have that same XP penalty equal to their level, but this is entirely or partly made up for by a flat 20 bonus for killing them- kind of like a boss bonus. So killing a level 1 thief is worth a lot more than killing a level 1 fighter, but killing a level 20 thief is the same as killing a level 20 fighter.

Now if you haven’t thought this through fully, you might be wondering whether a level 10/1 Priscilla gains more or less XP than a level 11 or so Lucius or something. In other words, do troubadour/cleric bonuses outweigh promotion penalties? Not at all. Suppose they each killed a level 11 fighter Target. Lucius would gain 30 XP. Priscilla would gain 21. Of course, a 10/1 Lucius would gain a measly 7. So there’s no XP bonanza to be reaped by promoting Priscilla or Serra early and using them instead of a real unit.

So further implications and final thoughts:

7. Matthew and Legault are good for your XP score, so let them do some fighting and get some levels- that’s good for letting them steal anyway.
8. Since Priscilla and Serra can’t actually enjoy their fighting XP boosts till they promote- at which point the promotion penalties kind of outweigh them- you shouldn’t try to promote them to boost your XP ranking.
9. You SHOULD however use their staves whenever you have the chance. Staff use and dancing both essentially create XP out of thin air. Do as much of both as you can. Heal is the most cost-effective way to create XP.

Battle Preparations & the Map:

Don’t panic. Deep breaths.

Ok, these are without a doubt the nastiest enemy units faced to date. Every single person here is a promoted level 5 unit with HHM bonuses. This makes them roughly equivalent to hypothetical level 30 unpromoted normal mode enemies or level 25 unpromoted HHM enemies. Most people I’ve been fighting have been level 10. Essentially, every single enemy is roughly equivalent to a recent boss. Slightly weaker.

They’re also geared up VERY well. No sage has less than Elfire, the druids are packing a mix of nosferatu and luna(!) and the bishops have mixed shine and divine (a hitherto unseen C level light spell). But that’s not a problem. See, the boss comparison is a pretty good one in that each one is basically locked in a cell on his own. And they don’t use their door keys or break walls under any circumstances. You only need to fight 1-2 at once and have all the time you need to heal between them at first glance. No, there’s a much bigger problem:

And worst of all…

This guy is the real boss of the level. Fortunately he fights stupidly as you'll see.

If the enemies could all fight, you would lose on turn 1. There’d be no way around it. They would just walk up from behind their protective walls and 2-hit kill your level 20 Hector from across the map while also berserking, sleeping, or silencing half your team.

Thankfully, they have Kishuna on their side, incapacitating 75% of his own team at any given time. And the doors and cracked walls constrain most of everyone anyway. The remaining 25% are a threat only because Kishuna moves around cleverly to shift the anti-magic zone to his own benefit. The big problem is it’s not necessarily predictable where he’ll go, so it’s hard to plan ahead.

And there’s another problem: Kishuna leaves at the end of turn 4 and all the doors and walls that have been keeping the enemy in check will disappear at once. Instantly, 100% of the enemy force is fully mobile and no longer silenced. After that the enemy has free rein and you WILL lose if you haven’t used those turns to take out the most problematic enemies.

One catastrophe waiting to happen is that you have at most 1 Restore staff (if you didn’t get the restore staff on chapter 21 you lose, but you deserve it). This means that if your Restorer is ever silenced, sleeped, or berserked, you are pretty much out of luck. Don’t let that happen. Now you’ll notice that your starting forces look close together but are actually very far apart. You’ll need to open many doors and break many walls and just move a long way to reunite your split party. And there’s no time for that. That means one group is completely without a restore staff.

But look closely. ALL the status-inflicting enemies are actually on the bottom right area and they can’t attack the left group of people unless you either deliberately move the left people into range or Kishuna leaves and the door to his rooms open. So put the restore staff in the right group and take out all but maybe 1-2 of the problem enemies in 5 turns or you lose. Sounds like my kind of level.

Objective: Kill all enemies
Secondary Objective: Get the Silver Blade from the bottom left chest
Secondary Objective: Get the Secret Book from the middle chest
Secondary Objective: Get the Berserk Staff from the bottom right chest
Secondary Objective: Attack Kishuna on turn 4 or before, causing him to flee early but spawning a group of reinforcements with droppable treasure. Also for honor and glory.
Reinforcements: Starting on turn 6 and going till turn 10 1 mage will spawn from the top left stairs and 1 shaman from the top right ones. These guys aren’t really a threat at all, but they do delay your victory. More significantly, if you attack Kishuna then he will flee immediately. All doors and cracked walls will open, the 4 promoted weapon users in his room will flee, and 4 weak magic users will pop up with extremely valuable droppable goods.
Turn Limit: 25. Heck yeah! There’s basically no way to take this long. You either lose by turn 6 or you can win by 10 or 11. So that’s a ton of free turns to boost my surplus.
Units Allowed: 6 + Hector + Hawkeye. Heck no! This is terrible. The right group is loaded up with the max leveled and therefore unusable Hector and the terrible Hawkeye and it MUST have a C level staff user. That leaves only a single fighting unit and no thieves. If you didn’t buy or steal chest keys like I did, you either set up an epic rescue chain around turn 12 or so (and still pay a heavy price) or you skip some of the treasure. The left group is much more flexible, but it’s the group that has the easiest fight on its hands! Given the harsh time limit before Kishuna leaves, you can't afford to join them up either.
Units Brought:
1) Hector. Required but useless. He’s max level so anything I kill with him is XP forever lost. He’s not very good against mages anyway, but he could still hold his own on this map due to my Hector’s decent speed if it weren’t for that. An average Hector would be completely useless here.
2) Hawkeye. Required and terrible. He gains almost no XP and sucks at everything, but I can only have 1 other fighting unit for the right team, so he’s going to have to do some work.
3) Priscilla. Marginally tougher than Serra and she has a better staff rank and more magic power. This makes her better at using the Physic staff- I bought 2 of them from the secret store remember- which is expensive but worth it if it saves your bacon. Really Priscilla is terrible here- almost everything can instant kill her at massive range- so she’ll require careful babysitting, but there’s nothing you can really do but bring her.
4) Eliwood. I MUST level up at least 1 lord at least 1 time this chapter. And Eliwood actually has enough speed and str that with a good sword he can kill anything on this level in 1 round. His support with Hector doesn’t hurt either since the close quarters means they’ll actually wind up sticking together.
5) Canas. The left front needs a healer who can kill anything. Exactly one person matches that description.
6) Raven. This is a great level for training him since so many of these promoted enemies end up just being free food. I really want to make him a Hero soon, plus I want more XP for him to unlock Jerme’s chapter, so he’s going to do most of the left group fighting.
7) Florina. I considered Fiora, but Florina is very close to level 20 and I hope to promote her on this chapter. She’s the only one of my flyers with an A in lances, so only she can equip the Silver Lance (which will be needed to 1-round kill some people on this level). Also, I need someone who can hit Kishuna if he goes left. Canas and Raven can’t do that, but Florina can with a javelin. Good enough.
8) Ninian. Always the best way to train people. Also great for helping people efficiently tear down walls and open doors. And she functions in Kishuna’s anti-magic zone.
Notable Units Rejected:
1) Legault and Matthew. They’d be instant killed by a bolting or purge. But there’s a bigger problem than that even: there is NO space for one of them on the right team, and that’s where most of the treasure is. Meanwhile there’s another chest on the left. I could bring one of them on the left team and just not ever let them near the fighting, but that would be useless and would not open the chests fast enough because they’re so far flung. I can’t possibly have a big enough rescue chain to do that in less than like 10 turns with 1 thief. And I can’t bring 2. No, it’s chest keys or nothing really.
2) Serra. Like Priscilla, she can be instant killed by bolting. Unlike Priscilla, she’s slow and has like 2 magic power and only C rank in staves so she can’t even use restore.
3) Lucius & Erk. Anti-magic fields everywhere! And they can’t heal! And they can’t scratch these druids and sages and bishops! Canas is hampered by the field too, but he can heal and when the field is off him he can kill anything with his Luna. To be perfectly honest, I think the best imaginable approach to this level actually requires a promoted Lucius. THAT would solve the right front’s problems. But Canas is better than him on every other chapter. It’s only here that you desperately need promoted Lucius’s starting C in staves because Priscilla and Serra are instant-killable.
4) Sain. Sain would be nice, but he wouldn’t actually solve any problems. The thing is that 60% of the time, your enemies can’t even fight back on this chapter. They’re just free XP. And Sain would get cruddy XP from them while everyone else will get like 70 per kill. This chapter is a GREAT time to train low level people, so for goodness sake don’t bring people like Marcus or Sain. The other thing is that Sain is bad vs magic users and totally vulnerable to berserk and sleep and so on.
5) Fiora. Too slow, can’t double things that Florina can, and only has a B in lances so she can’t use the Silver Lance. I don’t have any time to waste; every enemy must be killed in 1 attack.
6) Lyn. Can’t kill things well enough, can’t take a hit, doesn’t have support bonuses. She’s just worse than Eliwood.
7) Heath. I could indeed have used him over Florina or instead of Eliwood or Raven and I did consider it. But I need Eliwood trained right now. Florina’s high magic resistance makes her more appealing here. Heath vs Raven was a serious choice, but ultimately Heath is easy to train elsewhere while Raven is not.

Gear is everything here. I’m not bringing thieves, so I need chest keys. Fortunately I bought or stole all I would ever need. Unfortunately, I have NO door keys. This is because on Chapter 21 I wanted to buy some but had no time. Don’t let this happen to you. Buy like 8 door keys on Noble Lady of Caelin if you have to.

Because Ninian has many spare inventory slots (even with Fila’s Might in addition to Ninis’s Grace now), she got the chest key for the left group.

Because he’s more mobile than Hector but I don’t want him fighting much, Hawkeye got the chest keys for the right group. Be prepared to trade these as the situation on the ground requires.

My Canas has Heal, Luna, and… that’s about it. My Flux has 1 charge left. Don’t let this happen to you. Buy an extra 1 on 21. I got greedy and tried to save my money for when I could silver card it, hoping to save 450 gold. Now I’ve spent like 1000 using the much more expensive Luna instead.

Priscilla must have the Unlock staff because I don’t have any door keys. She also has Physic, which is incredibly valuable on this chapter. It lets you heal people who are in the anti-magic zone as long as you’re outside it. And it lets you heal without going into range of Bolting and the like. She has Mend for heavy duty healing and no Heal because I have no inventory space. Restore is an absolute must too of course. And finally she has Pure Water. Only that will let her survive a single hit from Bolting.

Everyone is packing serious heat. Eliwood has an iron sword, a steel sword, and the silver sword. He needs firepower to 1-round some of these uber promoted units. Raven has iron, steel, and the killing edge. His higher Str means he doessn’t need the silver sword as much and he benefits from crits more. Florina has an iron lance, a javelin, and a silver lance. Hector gets a steel lance so that he can be slowed down enough to not double things. Hawkeye keeps his killer axe and also gets a handaxe of his own.

And of course they all have vulneraries. THOSE work in the anti-magic field.

You might have noticed that there was a wall there on the map picture but not on the formation one. Yeah. It’s a nasty surprise when it randomly pops up at the start of turn 1. If you didn’t know that was coming, you should just restart and come up with a new strategy.

The Characters:

“Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational bolting tome!” –Kishuna, Chapter 23x

Actually, there’s no one new. Kishuna is a repeat boss only you don’t even actually fight him this time. Just try to hit him once so he can spawn his treasure carrying reinforcements before he leaves.

Pent is here but refuses to do anything to help for reasons unknown. What a twerp.

Playing Through:

Priscilla drinks the pure water while Hector tears down the wall.

Again Florina and Raven break the wall.

Wow, that’s even worse than before. How did that happen? The RNGs should have been the same.

Well this is the same.

And so is that.

You can see that Kishuna is darned smart. He moved just enough to let that sage cast without shifting so far left that more people on the left front can’t cast. Well anyway, NOW it’s door opening time.

That’s a pretty great level for opening a door. My Priscilla is actually slightly above average. Still worthless.

Another team up wall-break to let Raven charge through and kill someone. Meanwhile Canas can’t escape the field this turn.

Sweet! That makes up for the awful level last time.

This is the reason I couldn’t leave that guy alone. I need a door key for that nearby door.

This guy has a door key too. Eliwood is already busy, so Hawkeye has to do it.

That’s the range on Sleep currently. But there’s a problem. See, Kishuna will move FIRST. Which would let the sleep sage move up further. There’s really no way to predict ranges well on this chapter because of that. Anyway, I only need to keep Priscilla out of range. This square will work.

Convenient! I could have just restored him as Kishuna moved away, but not having to do that is very helpful.

Stupid level 30 enemies and their actually decent speed. See, if this guy wasn’t in the anti-magic field, he’d have his heavy Elfire tome equipped and THAT would let her double him. With the silver lance she’d easily kill him.

Kishuna is heading this way to give the sleep and silence sages free rein on the right front, so I can count on these nearby guys to stay silenced. Probably. If he DOES move, then I want people who can fight back next to that wall.

Sweet. Another thing I don’t need to heal.

Well that level is pretty meh, but Eliwood has had some lucky dodges so far so that about balances out.

Silence staff range. This guy is public enemy number 3 and he’s right next to number 2, the sleep staff guy. That darned bishop with purge and berserk will be much harder to kill.

Yeah. There’s like 3 guys with Eclipse. I didn’t even mention them because Eclipse is no threat.

Purge on the other hand...
Kishuna moved to let that bishop get free and to lock Canas into the anti-magic field.

So it’s now turn 4. I’ve killed both Bolting sages. That leaves 2 purge bishops (one with Berserk), and 1 sleep sage and 1 silence sage. I think I can take care of all but one of those this turn. And this is my last chance to hit Kishuna and get some myself some more treasure, so I’m going for it. Even if I miss it works, so that’s no problem.

His promoted units nearby teleport out. That’s an XP loss, but it’s more than made up for by the massive treasure gain. Especially since I don’t think Eliwood could have handled those guys anyway.

And all the doors and walls open from top to bottom.

And his reinforcements pop up. They each drop a good item. Total value of 7550 I believe, quite nice.

Alright, Kishuna and all the barriers preventing the enemy from blasting me on all sides are gone. I’ve got 1 turn to secure victory. Let’s go!

That was unexpected. Raven has been using his killing edge a lot, so this is his 3rd crit of the map.

Darn it, man!

… Uh. Well 1 purger down. That leaves 3 targets.

Now THERE’s a level. So 2 bad ones and 2 good ones so far. I’ll take it.

Florina is in position to harvest all those droppable treasures. Canas moves to keep this unimportant bishop occupied and then prepare to help the right flank if possible. In his current position, the Berserk staff guy can hit him. I want him to try since Canas’s huge res makes it unlikely to work. Plus Canas can survive the enemy and my guys can outrun him.

Hawkeye kills the silence sage.


So the problem is that if Eliwood attacked that Sage right now, the counterattack would badly injure him. Then that jerk bishop could purge him to death. But the sage will choose to use Sleep on someone on its turn. That gives me a chance to have Hawkeye or Hector weaken it for Eliwood or Hawkeye to finish safely next turn.

Canas gets not a single Luna crit this whole level.

I expected a purge. Uh oh. I’m in range to fix this, but that means putting Priscilla in future Purge range.

Yeah, I’m never gonna get tired of Canas healing people.

The left flank is almost entirely clear. I just need someone to get the bottom chest, and that should probably be Raven while Florina and Canas go help elsewhere.

She dances for Canas and gets even more avoid.

Florina kills the guy who survived Canas and is ready to kill those guys with the valuable drops. Last turn she double missed the mage which is why they’re still alive.

Yeah the bottom right is in trouble. That Bishop is the only major threat left on the level, but he can kill Priscilla any time he wants with Purge. And I can’t do a darned thing about it because he ran out of range and because if I run Priscilla away I can’t cure Eliwood’s berserk. Which will mean he dies to that druid or sage if he doesn’t just kill Hawkeye or something. There’s no way I can win at this point unless the Bishop just decides he’d rather use Berserk than purge again.

Hawkeye moves to block the door.

Having Priscilla need to stay out of range and Restore people meant a lot of people couldn’t be healed.

Florina gets Nosferatu.

And a lousy level.

And Shine.

Well. That’s bad, but I’ll take it. That’s preferable to Priscilla just being dead. Florina is in good health so she can survive a few hits and she’s not near anything dangerous. Mostly this is just going to slow me down, not make me lose.

Eliwood breaks out the silver sword to ensure this guy doesn’t get a chance to respond.

A sweet level up.

You can see we’re down to just a few enemies and only that bishop is a threat. But what a threat he is. Priscilla is now safely out of his reach, but he could still case me major problems with Purge or another lucky Berserk. There’s really no good way to beat this guy. He has too many options and there’s no way to get him in range unless he just decides to move there.

Reinforcements have started. They’re no threat except maybe to Florina in groups because she’ll attack them with stupid weapons and not heal herself.

Yes! Not only did he finally miss for once, but he ran into range to do that! Now is my only chance!

But first, Raven gets the treasure.

Well he skipped all the good stats, but it’s still a solid level. It took me like 20 enemies to level him up a single time on previous chapters. This chapter he was getting a level per kill almost. Promoted enemies are worth so much XP.

Victory! Except for the berserk Florina problem. That’s still an issue.

Canas couldn’t follow through on the plan to help the right front, there was just too much to do here. Like preparing for those mages.

Ok, so 3 more turns now. Fingers crossed.

Plus side, everyone decided to attack Merlinus so Florina is unhurt and that’s 2 more turns left. Down side, Merlinus got HORRIBLY unlucky. He should have survived all of them for several more turns. In that case Florina would have been totally fine. Now she has a fight on her hands and I can’t do anything about it.

I can’t restore her, because I’d have to get close first. And Florina will murder Priscilla. What I CAN do is move just outside her range and hope she happens to move toward ME. That would let Priscilla cure her.

Recover get! Meanwhile, Hector takes 1 chest key and goes for the bottom right chest. Hawkeye has the other.

It’s worth XP.

And so’s that.

Nice. I used my last Flux on that one so as to only soften this guy up. That way Raven can kill him next turn. Remember, 1 use weapons are a precious resource. Use them wisely. Use them well.

Moving in on the last real enemy. He’s been wasting all his time with Eclipse.

One chest remaining.

Alright, she’s in trouble so I’m trying to use Canas as bait. If I’m lucky, she’ll attack him. He’ll survive and she’ll be out of shaman range. It’s a long shot.

Raven moves in.

YES! It timed out. Now the win is in the bag.

Of course he crits again. This is now his 4th iron or steel sword crit this chapter.

Well almost in the bag. I had to survive 1 hit from this guy with either Hawkeye or Eliwood. 7% chance of instant lose.

This is the ideal spot to fly to. It lets the shamans reach Florina but not anything behind her- such as Priscilla running in to heal her.

It’s been a rough chapter.

Yay! Canas can heal! Have I mentioned that that’s awesome and completely revolutionizes everything?

Raven: the Criticaling.

That’s the last chest. Eliwood is like 30 XP from level 20 now.

Alright, it’s turn 11 and I’m down to just 1 enemy and I got all the treasure. I win! 10 would have been better, but this chapter went so badly that I’ll take what I can get.

Might as well dance and heal, so Raven pointlessly waits.

He didn’t critical! But he did get a sweet level up. With his hard mode bonuses he’s not actually that lucky. Raven is just LIKE this. Best infantryman in the game.

Oh hi again Pent. Kind of funny how you’ve been here the whole time but chose to do absolutely nothing. Y’know, you would have been the PERFECT replacement for Priscilla what with your A in staves and more than 20 HP.

Mm. That’s kind of a theme of this game, and it’s really well done. There are dozens and dozens of mysteries, many explained and many not. Of course there are. It’s just like that Tolkien quote I brought up last time. Or the real world for that matter. I think FE7 provides a very good balance between having many interesting, hidden resolutions to various unanswered questions about characters and plot elements that you can uncover in secret levels or with supports and still having many aspects of the world be fittingly shrouded in uncertainty.

This is the coolest palace ever.

And this is the second coolest old man ever after Lundgren. And this moment is an awesome one in the game. There’s really no way to be sure just who you were going to meet at this point. If you’d played 6 you could maybe take a guess, but actually that game in no way suggested this guy would be alive 20 years ago.

The great music is really a huge part of what makes this game so good. Athos is also a wonderful character, one of my favorites in any work. I think he’s really a good guess as to what a thousand year old master of just about any field would be like.

You know, I do wonder why Uther apparently knows all about this guy but Hector has no clue. We know Athos is in contact with, at minimum, the courts of Ostia and Etruria and he’s apparently known in Nabata. His existence is evidently a state secret- perhaps because he asked that it be one- but you would still think word would get around.

So it is.

Also very true. This moment really establishes Athos’s character and his way of doing things. He doesn’t answer the question you asked, he answers the question you should have asked. Like what he’s been doing for a thousand years.

Immortality and matchless mastery of a field such that no one else can be helpful to you would probably do that.

…Yeah. We’re kind of past that part already, Hector.

Athos turns things back in a productive direction.

And explains how he knows so much about them- and what Nergal is up to.

Very true. On the other hand, teleportation and matchless magical power probably IS enough. There’s sort of a Problem of Evil posed by Athos’s existence. He’s nearly omniscient about present happenings, has the power to solve nearly any problem, and is a fairly helpful fellow. So why are there, say, bandits destroying Sacaen tribes? It would be easy to say that Athos thinks just using his powers left and right would cause more problems than it solves- last time he was just going all out with the other 7 Legends they caused global disaster and altered the laws of physics forever. But I suspect that the real reason is the same one he keeps his existence semi-secret now: he has his own goals and while he’s willing to help people who need him, he also just doesn’t feel compelled to use the powers he earned for other people’s benefit instead of his own.

He turns things back to Nergal again and explains how Nergal came to be so dangerous.

That was kind of what we were doing already, but at least now the wisest man in Elibe has confirmed this is a good plan.

He cautions that this is going to be more dangerous and have more consequences than they could possibly foresee and asks them whether they’re sure they want to proceed. Presumably if they said they weren’t sure, he’d take care of Nergal himself right now while he’s weak. As he reveals later on, he COULD have just skipped the next 7 or so chapters for us, but the point was the journey rather than the destination. He’s trying to teach Eliwood et al. to fish rather than just give them a fish now.

And then for some reason they skip the scene where he actually tells them what to do and we get Eliwood recapping what he just told them instead. Not sure what the point of that is.

Athos sends Hawkeye with us and Pent and his wife Louise reveal their true identities and join up as well. They were going to Bern anyway and Pent is curious about Nergal’s strength and wants to gauge it for himself.

Lyn has never heard of this man, so Hector explains his importance.

Maybe the reason he didn’t help out last battle was that we just hadn’t given him permission to. Perhaps he got the wrong idea from how we grabbed him and didn’t let him fight anymore on Chapter 23. Oops.

And he doesn’t give them time to ask why he’s not sending them to the Shrine of Seals.

He has a brief conversation with Market…

And gives her this to give to someone else.

Meanwhile, Eleanora is mourning Elbert.

When Eliwood suddenly teleports in.

This is their first chance to talk about Elbert’s death. Though there’s not much time. The group decides to just spend one night there resting at Eleanora’s request, rationalizing that one night won’t cost them that much. Boy are they wrong there…

Waaaaaay back on chapter 12 you may remember that Hector expressed that he wasn’t sure a tactician as young as Market could be very good. He didn’t even say he doubted her, he just asked Eliwood if Eliwood was certain of her skill and then took Eliwood’s word for it. And that was months ago. But even that minor bit of possible rudeness struck him as something he had to apologize for. Hector is really quite polite and rather nice most of the time.

But even Market apparently thinks he’s a jerk. Despite all the evidence. I just don’t get why Hector is so often going out of his way to be helpful and everyone acts like that’s out of character for him, while Lyn is a jerk a lot of the time and no one ever calls her out on it.

Wow, that was a plot heavy section. The Bern arc is beginning!

Total Restarts: 14 (I did one test run just to figure out how the AI would behave and to check when Kishuna leaves, then I lost again on turn 1 when Priscilla got boltinged as you saw)
Turn Surplus: 18 (Heck yeah! More coming up!)
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, like 10 more enemies I could have killed if Hector could have survived one more turn on chapter18, and Uhai who decided to take a 100% chance of death to Sain over a free hit on Hector, the chance to finish shopping properly with my silver card on chapter 21, the armorslayer that I have acquired if not for a stupid minor mistake on chapter 22, and these 3 wyvern riders who decided they preferred a 0% chance to hit Isadaora and then 100% chance of death against her to fighting a low level Heath.