The Let's Play Archive

Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword

by Melth

Part 47: Chapter 30 and the War Room Part 31 (Weapon XP)

The second and final replacement chapter in Hector’s Mode (the first being 11) is very similar to the first- perhaps more so than it is to Valorous Roland, the chapter it replaces. It’s just Hector and Matthew Legault against the world in a small dungeon full of thieves and treasure and with a 0 time limit once again.

Replacing doors to open and walls to break are numerous poison traps. These are not really as interesting as the fire traps in Valorous Roland and are mostly just a nuisance.

And again, the big choice to make is which route to take through the little maze. Kind of the opposite of Valorous Roland where it was all about finding the most efficient way to take every path at once.

Like Valorous Roland, this one really changes what we know about the Elibe universe by adding in undead beings of some sort guarding the legendary weapons. How these fit in with any of the existing religions is unclear to me. I wonder if THEY have quintessence.

And just like Valorous Roland, it concludes with one of the last really great twists in the story.

Chapter Summary:
Now that Nergal has Ninian, Athos is finally in a hurry and teleports the group around wherever they need to go. First they head to the distant Western Isles to collect the legendary axe Armads. Unperturbed by warnings that claiming it will mean he’ll die in battle someday, Hector passes the trial by combat required to take the weapon and the group teleports back to Lycia to get Durandal, the sword of Roland. As they exit the cave, Nergal returns to taunt them and an unexpected disaster occurs.

It’s the same location as the chapter where one gets Armads in 6. Of course there’s no explanation in either game I’m aware of of how it ends up back there- entirely unguarded- if it was actually removed in this game.

Actually it’s… just like chapter 11. But with poison.

Want some cheese to go with that whine?

Athos talks a bit about the axe

You had me at giant axe!

Athos now begins warning him about the ghosts of the soldiers from the scouring who now guard the legendary weapon in death. We find out sadly little about this arrangement.

And Athos explains why we get so few people this level. An archsage he may be, but he should really leave the tactics to Market. More excited guardians is more XP.

If he just argued a little more here maybe we could have bargained Athos up to 2 or 3 allies.

Athos lets him go with some cryptic warnings. Why Athos doesn’t help I’m not entirely sure.

You know, this little bit- and Durbans’s exact words later on- about what will happen to Hector don’t really actually fit very well with what actually happens to him in 6. He doesn’t die on the battlefield and he’s not done in by his recklessness. He’s killed in a fortress where he was gathering his armies before attacking like a sensible person, and he dies in a dungeon cell hours after the battle in question.

The War Room, Part 21

You know, I never did talk about weapon ranks and XP much. That’s mostly because it makes no difference usually, but I did talk about most of the other game mechanics. And if weapon XP was ever worth talking about, it’s on this chapter.

I did mention before that every character has a rank from E to S with every weapon type (sword, axe, anima, staff, etc.) they can use and that all this affects are which weapons of those types they can actually use, with each weapon (iron sword, steel sword, etc.) having a rank from E to S. Oh and S ranks give +5 to hit and crit with that weapon type.

Every character starts with predetermined ranks in every weapon they can use. Other than getting new weapon types upon promotion, the only way to improve your rank is by using those weapons.

The way that works is that each rank has a threshold of “Weapon XP” you have to reach to get to that rank and every weapon has a secret weapon XP/use stat. For most weapons it’s just 1.

To get to D rank from E you need to gain 30 XP, to get from D to C you need 40, etc. up to 70 to get from A to S.

This isn’t quite as time-consuming as it sounds because you gain full weapon XP even on a miss and you gain double weapon XP on a kill. So if you kill everyone in 2 hits, it would take 10 kills to go to D from E, then 14 to get to C, and so on. This is sped up further by a few weapons and spells (no consistent pattern, but generally heavier weapons) which grant 2 XP per use. The Iron, Steel, and Silver Blade weapons do among swords for example.

On this chapter, Hector unlocks the ability to use swords starting at D rank. Later in the chapter an enemy will drop a powerful Steel Blade, good against the boss but it requires a C rank. Consequently many people try to get Hector from D to C rank using an Iron Blade on this chapter. That would take about 2-hit kills, but unfortunately Hector actually kills things in 3 hits with that weapon mostly and most of the enemies use lances, so it’s not a good choice. Ultimately, it seems infeasible to get him to a C in time when one is in such a hurry.

It’s also worth talking about staves. They work just the same with every weapon having a secret XP per use stat, but the numbers are generally much higher. The trouble is there are no kills to double the gain and while almost all higher level staves give much more, Heal only gives 2 and Mend only 3. Getting to B rank to use Physic is very valuable. Lucius starts with a C so he only needs to gain 50 XP- that’s 25 Heals or 17 Mends, or just a handful of hammernes or torches or the like.

But most people start with E in staves, meaning they need to gain 120 XP. If you heal every single turn, that will take something like 4 maps worth of heal grinding- and in practice it will take much more. That’s why it’s so important to get Canas started healing very early so he can wield Physic in a reasonable time frame.

Battle Preparations & the Map:

Green zones are the poison trap squares. End your turn there and you’ll be blasted for 1d4 damage and poisoned (1d4 more damage every turn for 4 turns). The damage is pretty significant when you think about it- it’s about 12.5, so even more than the fire traps in Valorous Roland. But somehow it matters much less.
It does hurt the enemy a lot since they stupidly blunder in and then often spend most of 4 turns trying to find you anyway.
Notice their locations though. There are tons and tons in the bottom area of the map, but very few in the top. And many of those can just be walked around.

There are 3 chests on this level and 3 thieves each with a 1 use chest key. Each will go for 1 specific chest (the color circles match them up) and then run out on the left side of the map. Before they get the chest, they will attack you instead of making progress if given the chance (or steal). After getting to their chests though they will only try to flee with maximum speed. Every thief has 20 speed, but they all drop their chest key if killed (unless they got something else first).

Half the knights have steel lances and the rest have axereavers, a problematic combination, and all the mages have Elfire. The upshot is that even if your Hector gained 0 speed all game he could double everything on this level that isn’t a thief.

The big trouble is there are a lot of items to acquire but you only get 2 people and can’t bring Merlinus. That means if you ever acquire an item with 5 already in your inventory, you have to drop something. It’s also really, really hard to get every single item because the enemies are difficult to deal with for your team. And it’s a big, slow map with a 0 turn requirement. That’s painful.

Anyway, notice that there are basically 3 paths out of the starting area: west, northwest, and northeast. Which way you choose to go determines the outcome of the whole map. At first glance, northeast is terrible and can only slow you down, but with a lot of experimentation I actually found it to be the best if used properly.

West is right out. There are too many poison traps and you can’t get any of the good treasure. Northwest is the initially appealing option. The trouble is, that makes the north thief attack or steal from you instead of getting the treasure for you. And that causes all sorts of problems. What follows is not my best run of this level, but it’s the best run that did not require a critical hit to work:

Objective: Step onto the square Kaim (the boss) occupies with Hector
Secondary Objective: Get the Wolf Beil from the top right chest
Secondary Objective: Get the Pure Water from the bottom middle chest
Secondary Objective: Get the Elixir from the bottom left chest
Secondary Objective: Steal the Speedwings from the top left mage
Secondary Objective: Steal the Goddess Icon from the top middle fighter
Secondary Objective: Don’t drop the Steel Blade from the top leftish mercenary
Secondary Objective: Don’t drop the Tomahawk from Kaim
Reinforcements: None
Turn Limit: 0 It’s gonna be tough.
Units Allowed: 1 + Hector. That’s the hard part of the chapter. Even 2 + Hector would be trivial. 1+ Hector makes it really, really tough to complete it in a reasonable time frame- let alone get any of the good stuff.
Units Brought:
1) Hector. He promoted! He finally promoted! The man is back in town. He’ll be doing most of the real fighting on this level and he’s darned good at it. With a couple of vulneraries, he could solo the level no problem.
2) Legault. This is not a choice. It HAS to be Legault. Anyone could open the chests with some lockpicks or chest keys, but only a thief can steal the 2 incredibly valuable items. Jaffar can’t even do it, only unpromoted thieves. So it’s either Matthew or Legault. My Matthew is terrible, below average in everything. Critically he hasn’t even capped speed, meaning he’s incapable of stealing from these 20 speed thieves. That leaves Legault as the only option.
Notable Units Rejected:
1) Matthew. Strictly worse than my Legault and incapable of stealing from the thieves.
2) Everyone else. That’s 16,000 gold down the drain. No.

The formation was tricky to figure out here. But what gear to bring was even trickier. That’s the hardest part of the level really and it took several runs to figure out the optimal setup:

Every piece is carefully chosen. First off, he must have a handaxe- it will be his weapon of choice for most of the level and is the only effective way to fight mages while being decently effective vs knights.

Second, he needs either an iron blade or a steel sword or an armorslayer. These will be used to kill one critical thief and to fight Kaim and can optionally be used another time or two. For the thief, the accuracy of the armorslayer is nice. However, Kaim will die precisely one attack earlier with the iron blade. This doesn’t actually save a turn, but does mean Hector is at slightly lower risk of dying since he needs to dodge one less counter. It also costs much less and gives more weapon XP for whatever that’s worth.

Hector will need healing twice, hence the vulneraries. Giving him a 3-use vulnerary would take up an extra inventory slot though. You need to consume those vulnerary and free up slots, so it’s either 2 1 uses or 1 2 use.

And the other slot is open. That makes 3 empty slots by the end.

Legault absolutely must have an armorslayer and a lancereaver. Nothing else will do. He needs the armorslayer to take down a few knights- particularly ones with axereavers. And he needs the lancereaver to not get hit by knights with lances.

He must have a Pure Water with exactly 1 use. He cannot survive Elfire without it, and he needs to free up its slot immediately.

And he needs a 3 use vulnerary since he must heal 3 times. With the vulnerary and pure water gone and an empty spot to begin with, that makes 6 empty slots total by the end.

Steel Blade + Tomahawk + Elixir + Wolf Beil + Speed Wings + Goddess Icon = 6 items, exactly enough room.

I tried many ways to find a way to also get the pure water, but I just couldn’t do it. There are no way to start with less stuff and not die on the way with my stats. Plus there was only one chance to grab it and it resulted in not being able to get the Goddess Icon. Oh well, the Pure Water is worth much less than anything else anyway

The Characters:

“Tremendous strength… truly like his” –Kaim, Chapter 30

A companion of Durbans, about whom we know nothing else. Now he’s a ghost endlessly guarding Armads.
People seem to ask why we don’t fight a Berserker on the chapter called the Berserker and instead it’s a hero. Well notice that you fight a Berserker, not a hero, on Valorous Roland. As best we can guess, Roland was a Hero and Durbans was a Berserker or some unique versions of those classes. And we know that Roland had a friend or companion named Georg and Durbans had one named Kaim and these were the people chosen to watch over them for eternity. Meanwhile, Eliwood is compared to Roland- Bramimond says they’re much alike and Athos and Roland seem to make the comparison too. Kaim says Hector’s strength reminds him of Durbans and the two of them seem fairly similar.
To me it seems plausible that the friendship of Roland and Georg and of Durbans and Kaim was meant to look like a parallel to that of Eliwood and Hector and that’s why you fight a Berserker on Valorous Roland and a Hero here. Or maybe it just made for better stats. Either way.

And this guy’s stats are a problem. He’s too fast for Hector to even possibly double him and he hits tremendously hard and quite accurately. Worst of all, he’s extremely durable. It takes many turns of fighting to kill this guy, on a chapter where you have no turns to spare.

And he doesn’t even use a sword, he uses this monstrous weapon! If he had a sword you could Swordreaver him and the fight would actually be really easy. That would be the perfect weapon for the level in fact.

Oh and he’s completely impervious to attacks by your other people. They just inexplicably do 0 damage. Maybe this wouldn’t be so weird if Georg was like that too.

Playing Through:

First thing is to take this thief out. It doesn’t actually matter if Hector hits or not, but he does need to be in this precise spot. And if he does hit, that’s nice.

Sweet, he hit. Now Legault finishes with his armorslayer. That means he’ll probably get hit by that knight, but will deal massive damage in return.

The thief drops the chest key. 0 space free now.

On the enemy turn, the knight hits as expected. Also cool background, they’re still introducing new ones.

Legault moves as far as possible, drinks a vulnerary, and equips a Lancereaver. This all but guarantees he won’t be hit and will do juuuust enough damage to kill the knight.

That knight moved out of the way and the enemy thief has moved up, so Hector can now take this path, saving him a square or two.

Call me crazy, but Legault is going to win this one.

A bad Legault gets even worse. Whatever, nothing can stop me now.

The enemy gets the Wolf Beil as planned. Yep, there are apparently 2 copies of “Hector’s Beloved Axe” which can only be wielded by him. I don’t think I understand it either. At least Eliwood’s rapier sounds like it’s just, you know, a rapier and no one else trains with such an aristocratic weapon or something.

Hector just moves in with his handaxe, Legault also moves as far as he can and drinks his pure water and equips a lancereaver for defense.

During the enemy turn, the thief gets that pure water.

Next turn, Hector moves up as far as possible and kills this pesky mage before it becomes more of a problem.

And Legault takes the first attack against the Wolf Beil thief. Armorslayer is the appropriate weapon here because that nearby knight has an axereaver.

Roughly half the knights on the level do, the rest having steel lances. No particular pattern to who has what.

Way to finish strong Legault! Even with his HHM bonuses my Legault is behind normal in some stats and he’s not good in anything important. But my Matthew was even worse. At least this time he gained all 4 unimportant stats instead of just two of them.

The mage takes the next shot at him, this being the one with the Speedwings. As you can see, he’d be dead by now from the 2 mage hits if not for the pure water.

Because Legault was in the way, the enemy thief couldn’t escape and Hector now finishes him. This is that spot where the Armorslayer’s accuracy bonus is nice.

Got the wolf beil.

Legault steals the speed wings. Now that mage is going to move backwards to attack, which means Legault can actually escape his range next turn.

Next turn he flees and heals. And I’m on guard for the poison traps, so I don’t go to the other seemingly just as good spot.

And Hector moves in, iron blade at the ready. He can’t kill both that knight- the guy has an axereaver- and the mage so it’s a bit of a catch-22. The mage is the smart one to go for. However, in a previous run I killed the mage and the lost later due to some bad luck with Kaim. And I said at the beginning that I would not RNG abuse, so when I lost I would adopt a new strategy. So I did things a bit differently this time, including killing the knight even though killing the mage is wiser.

A tempting target! One hit from the iron blade and I get the Pure Water this guy is fleeing with. And this is the only chance. He’s faster than Hector, so he’ll escape in 2 turns or so.

But if I kill this guy, Hector will not have a free inventory space next turn when he kills the mercenary, which means he has to drop something for the steel blade. He still needs his handaxe and his iron blade and his vulnerary and remember he has the wolf beil. That means he has only 1 inventory spot open, so I can pick either the steel blade or the pure water but not both. The Steel Blade is worth more.

I really tried everything and just can’t do it with these stats. Not without some RNG abuse so as to get away with not using a vulnerary or some such nonsense.

Legault equips his Lancereaver and drinks a vulnerary.

And Hector stands exactly here and heals himself while he can to open an inventory spot. With these positions and gear, Legault will almost but not quite kill the Goddess Icon fighter (who has a swordreaver) and the mercenary and will definitely survive himself. Then Hector can attack the mercenary from the left, putting him in exactly the right spot to reach his mage agro point next turn.

Alright, that’s the last uber-valuable item that’s easily missable collected.

And the steel blade is acquired.

Next turn, Hector moves into position to kill every mage with a handaxe.

I just noticed this weirdness. That wall looking spot there is not a wall, it’s a floor. So is the one above it. The rest are actual walls. That pillar thing is also a wall, so it’s not like you can actually access the platform through here. Strange.

Legault has to step backward to kill this mage before he becomes more of a problem. Ideally, of course, the mage would be long dead and the axereaver knight would have suicide to Hector turns ago, but this slightly inferior strategy still finishes on the same turn.


Hector moves here with his handaxe ready. Legault is badly injured and shouldn’t do any more fighting now that he’s level 20 anyway. Hector could have reached handaxe range to Kaim this turn, but Kaim owns him if he uses a handaxe and he needs healing anyway.

Next turn, Legault is in position to get the chest whenever. Now it’s up to Hector to win.

The slugfest begins on turn 11. As you can see crunching the numbers, it will take about 3 volleys to beat Kaim. It would take 4 if I did 1 less damage due to using an armorslayer.

Legault gets the elixir- and gets out of the way of that last incoming knight.

Several boring turns later, Hector is at bad HP but finally kills Kaim and scores an amazing level up.

And a sweet axe.

It’s turn 14 and I just won.

Even 1000 year old caves full of ghosts are all designed with a single throne at the center to be captured by attacking enemies.

And the legend even weirder than Bramimond shows up. This guy is their Vaida.

Hector is understandably scared of this ghostly, shirtless, crazy guy who’s possibly even bigger than Hawkeye.

The guy was nutty enough to apparently begin to confuse himself with his axe over time and eventually just adopted its name.

And as you’ll see, he talks like he’s an axe. Heck maybe it IS the axe talking and it’s sentient or something. Given some things Athos says later about Durandal, that’s not actually implausible.

Beowulf eat your heart out.

Just like Athos's recklessness comment, this is not actually true to what happens in FE6. He gets badly injured on a battlefield but he dies hours later in a prison cell. And he could totally have survived if he'd gotten medical attention instead of just being thrown in there to slowly bleed to death after surviving just long enough to talk to his rescuers for 30 seconds.

And there’s the Hector we know and love again!

Outside, Athos has been sitting around doing unhelpful things.

Wow, looks like we’re going to do Valorous Roland too-

Or we just teleport directly to the sword.

And wait for him to do everything on his own apparently.

So here the group is, in a haunted volcanic cave on the outskirts of Ostia. You would think the volcanic activity, at least, would be mentioned somewhere when someone talks about Ostia.

Everyone marvels at Durandal. My interpretation of Lyn’s quote here- and this is the first thing of consequence she’s said in several chapters- is that the sword is described in detail in stories and legends she’s heard enough for the design to be familiar.

Something’s happening! And my guess about why Durandal- which unlike the Sword of Seals doesn’t actually have any kind of fire powers- is called the Blazing Sword is that it can do this; give off light in battle.

Holy cow! Did Nergal win already? That thing is huge! That painting is awesome! Once again, everything is up in the air.

Durandal swings. If they can do this kind of cool slashing animation here, why didn’t they do it in any of the previous occasions they needed to show someone being hit with a weapon but didn’t want to use an actual fight? Would have made some scenes a whole lot clearer.

Did I say the previous painting was awesome? It wasn’t. This one is.

The dragon is roaring and dying.

Eliwood explains that his body, guided by the sword, attacked on its own. And Athos here makes the remark I alluded to before about not even him knowing about the power and abilities of these weapons.

He’s apparently looking at that dragon.

Uh oh…

Well this can’t be good.

This whole scene is just excellent.

Ephidel had to walk up next to people and grab them to teleport them. Nergal doesn’t.

So… yeah. There are a couple of oddities with this scene. First and foremost, Eliwood’s portrait is replaced with a silhouette for some reason. I’m fairly confident that that doesn’t happen on all difficulty modes or perhaps just not all the time, because I’m nearly certain I didn’t see this happen until 3 years or so ago.
Also, the text autoscrolls and ignores your speed settings and presses of buttons. Nergal’s power is formidable indeed.

His lack of color is very distracting.


And now he reveals the truth, mocking Eliwood’s stupidity in not questioning before why only Ninian and Nils could open the Dragon’s Gate. It’s great in that this had seemed like a bit of a weird plot hole to players paying attention on their first time- or at least a contrivance. But now we see that actually it was just a question in-world which Eliwood should have been asking but didn’t want to.

It’s this scene (Plus A Glimpse In Time) that make Nergal a really great villain. Otherwise he’d just be a fairly generic power hungry evil sorcerer. But A Glimpse In Time gave him a pretty great and interesting and sad past, and this scene gives him a really contemptible present that will be satisfying to kill. Much like Sonia’s cruelty and pettiness and jealousy, Nergal’s trollishness and mockery of Eliwood and Ninian’s love changes from just an antagonist into a real villain.

The auto-scrolling text makes it hard to get good screen shots.

What this scene really needs is some unique music like many of the other great reveal or twist or emotional moment scenes in the game had. That it doesn’t have anything of the same caliber hurts it a little.

Man he’s good at rubbing that in.

And there, that smile, that right there sells Nergal. Look at that perfect cruel smirk.

An all new Eliwood portrait!

And a fantastic one not seen since his father died in his arms.

These portraits just have so much character and emotion to them. We don’t get that in the later titles- not even in 8 really where no one really has many different ones.

And yet another painting just for this scene.

Nergal just loves Eliwood’s misery here. He teleported back just as Ninian got there just to see it and even leaves without Nils now. And the way he teleports into the middle of a painting like that is also great.

Oh wow! Athos is finally getting directly involved. At this point I was fully expecting a battle to break out right now with Nergal on my first play. Or for Athos to get killed.

And a battle ensues as the two mightiest wizards on the continent square off.

Nergal doesn’t even bother fighting back, just laughing at how Athos can’t even hurt him anymore. He’s just here to mock and belittle all the heroes and make sure they understand that they lost despite all their efforts.

And he lets them live so they can stew in their failure, also getting in a jab at Athos.

And revealing his secrets to the group. This is another surprise and kind of a big one.

He leaves without Nils who then wakes up from his spell.

I’m not sure if Nils recognized Ninian in dragon form immediately since he didn’t react to her being attacked. It’s been a long, long time since he could have seen her in that shape anyway.

There’s just no way to answer that is there?

But Eliwood does the best he can.

And another fantastic painting, all of them grieving in their own way. You can almost hear Nils’s anguished scream.

And that’s the level. Valorous Roland was much better, but wow that whole scene is one of the best since the Dragon’s Gate ending. And almost as full of surprises. They really pulled out all the stops with unique animations and paintings and so forth for it; it’s a shame there wasn’t another really remarkable piece of music to match. That would have completed things.

That was an interesting chapter. I suppose on one level it’s frustrating, but I had fun experimenting and figuring out the best possible approach out of dozens of options and then finding ways to refine and improve as much as possible.

With some luck, I believe the best possible completion time while getting as many items as I did would be 12 turns. That would require a critical from Hector on his first attack against Kaim. On one of my runs I did crit him, but not that early in the fight, so I won on turn 13. I felt like that win was fairly illegitimate for purposes of showing a good strategic approach to the level and it was also actually my very first attempt, so I knew I needed to redo it several times to make sure that was actually the best route to take through the chapter. 14 is easily attainable, but darn it hurts my tactics surplus.
That level is basically worthless for your XP score, there’s just nothing to kill and you can’t bring any low level people anyway. A net profit of about 320 XP. Fortunately there’s still 1 more 0 chapter coming up and I’m something like 8,000 XP ahead at this point anyway.
Oh and for all you Farina people out there, this chapter is how I afford her after not planning on getting her all game long. If I wasn’t trying to stockpile funds, I’d actually have gone for a much quicker win and skipped one of the two stat boosters on this level. I could have won by maybe turn 10 then with a much smoother approach, leaving me with a much more comfortable surplus. But I spent about 2000 on weapons, vulneraries, and pure water on this chapter and I gained about 30,000 by squeezing the chapter for all it was worth. That puts me right back up into easily affording Farina land.

Total Restarts: 33 (I’m not counting my redos of this chapter. In every one of those cases I won the chapter afterall; I was just checking whether there were better routes to victory. Plus the strategy I employed on my very first try was ultimately the one I concluded was best)
Turn Surplus: 16 (There’s still a big 0 chapter left and 2 that eat 1 turn automatically. This isn’t going to be a triviality).
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, 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 would have acquired if not for a stupid minor mistake on chapter 22, 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, those 2 pegasus knights at the end of Crazed Beast that I just didn’t have enough time to feed to Bartre, the confused pirate and final archer on Night of Farewells, and the Pure Water on The Berserker.