Part 50: Chapter 31x and the War Room Part 32 (Hammerne)
Here comes the hardest chapter of the game. It doesnt matter how strong your team is; if you dont keep the objective in mind and figure out the 5 moves that are the only way to win, then youll never complete this chapter on HHM.
Brutally difficult though it may be, this chapter is a great illustration of one of my favorite mechanics in this game: limited shopping opportunities.
Almost All FEs quickly give you access to nearly infinite money- particularly if you sell some of the dramatically overpriced treasures youll receive. All of the recent ones also give you pretty much unlimited shopping opportunities for that money in one way or another. In Sacred Stones you could just walk back to any store on the map and could even buy basic weapons- albeit at significant markup- in the depths of the postgame dungeons. In 9 you get a group of shopkeepers that inexplicably decide to risk their lives traveling on campaign through every country in the world with your small band of mercenaries as their only customers. You can buy or sell nearly whatever you want at any time and at your leisure except that boringly they dont ever sell some of the interesting weapons. Heck, you can even make your own custom uber weapons which are actually stronger than those that came from the hands of the gods themselves. You can make like 20 of them. 10 kept that up and later in the story even let you inexplicably buy and sell things that other people hundreds of miles away had. And Awakening? The most generous of them all.
I dont really care about the silliness of many of these cases- and the 6-8 system of walking into stores drenched in gore with 5 men riding dragons bearing down on you and walking out with 4 silver swords, a killing edge, and a lancereaver is at least as ridiculous- but I do think that making shopping opportunities unlimited was not a good choice.
Together with class-specific, strictly limited promotional items and unchangeable supports that worked best in triangles or otherwise complex configurations, it was a major source of strategic difficulty and fun. In FE games since 7, strategic considerations have been marginalized or outright removed and I think removing this dimension from the game to leave only tactics was a big loss.
Plus it was sometimes tactically interesting to need to find time in a busy map to get a unit- with a silver card or the like- over to the stores.
Youve seen many times the kind of difficulties and challenges that the inability to just buy what I wanted caused me over the course of this run, and it would have been a lot less interesting without that if you ask me. So when I play this, the one chapter where FE7 is as generous as the later FEs, I regret that what once was a special and glee-inducing privilege hidden away in a sidequest right before the endgame the norm.
Having returned to their homeland where they are wealthy, powerful, and respected, the heroes make use of their position to get the money they need to buy whatever they need to save the world.
Meanwhile they have several character-developing conversations among themselves. And Bartre does something stupid.
Grieving Heart is still playing. Remember Fargus? Still the only guy willing to sail to the Dread Isle. Heck, telling people why we need to get there would NOT make most people more willing to go now.
Marcus steps in as the voice of everyday practical knowledge and reason, as he has before.
Ok, Hector hasnt become THAT much more responsible.
Best line ever? Best line ever.
Oswin defeats Hector once again.
As has been established before, Hector and Marcus know each other well. Any time Eliwood went to Ostia to see his best friend, Marcus probably went with him.
Hector explains that the town is impressive and imposing because everyone shunned extravagance. Thats probably also why they have an absolutely enormous, decorated castle as big as the town.
Just what other kinds of nobles are there in Lycia besides marquesses and knights? Does it vary city by city?
In Eliwoods story we see this line, but we havent seen the previous Hector-Oswin and Hector-Uther conversations, so we have to take it at face value. Now we know he knows his brother is dead, but he gives no sign and tells no one so that they wont worry about him or get distracted from their quest. A great deal of the greatness of having the alternative Hector and Eliwood stories is in how a lot of lines like this one are exactly the same but have a completely different meaning in the two stories.
A terrifying thought, isnt it? Ha ha ha haaaa!
There are quite a number of possible extra conversations unlockable in these final chapters depending on who has A supports with who among the lords. Unfortunately, those are very hard to get in max ranking runs so I cant show you any of the good ones.
Here we see that at long last- 20 or so chapters of her criticizing and insulting him- Lyn is still criticizing Hector but at least finally acknowledges that Eliwood was probably right that Hector has some good qualities. Even when shes being nice shes kind of a twerp isnt she? Only if she and Hector have an A support- and only on this chapter- does she offer anything like an apology for her behavior, and the one she offers implies that she still thinks of him as a violent brute.
Unlike Lyn, Eliwood is neither jerkish nor a poor judge of character.
And here we get a hint that Eliwood understands Hector better than Hector knows he does, being aware of his doubts and that hes hiding them. As will later be revealed, Eliwood has figured out that Uther is dead from how Hector has been acting despite the latters efforts to conceal it. He just plays along because he thinks thats better for Hector at the moment. The two of them are always looking out for each other as best they can and its rather sweet, even if the specifics are sometimes hard to understand.
They segue into another conversation with Lyn talking about how much she loves her newground grandfather.
Eliwood feels similarly for his only remaining family.
Indeed, the characters belief that family is more important than anything is the foundation and driving force of the whole plot of both Lyn and Eliwoods stories. And although the story is superficially about the friendship of these three people and how they all work together to help one another, its important to note that what they do is help one another protect or find family members. And Lyn in particular but the others as well- comment several times that its mostly because they understand that protecting family is important that they get involved helping each other.
I think one of the things that gets me about this game is how we can see in advance the many partings the ending will entail, but theres just no way to prevent all of them- or even most of them. Eliwood will return home to his mother but will see his friend Hector perhaps only once more before the latters death. Lyn may never be seen again by either of them depending on how long it is before Hausen dies and she returns to the plains. Some characters outright disappear off the face of the earth. And so on.
But thats life. People are always being parted and always losing precious things, even as they gain others. And I think Fire Emblem in general but this game in particular does a good job of acknowledging that sometimes thats sad, but at the same time its necessary in order for there to be growth and change.
I think he might be the only one who consistently uses her real name.
She changes the subject back to the problem at hand.
Meanwhile, these two are having an awkward talk.
Hector tries to brush Oswin off and get back to business with a comment that right now he just needs to pretend Uther is still alive- not for himself but for the others.
And as hes said before, thats how hes lived his whole life really- he was brought up to and cant help it even when he wants to. As Ive said before, every character in this game grieves in their own way, just as is true of real people. And its not just the unique musical tracks for each person at the sad moments that evoke that, that would be a comparatively cheap way to develop this theme. No, something like 10% of the whole script must be devoted to it at least.
Yeah, its pretty hard not to see where Hector is coming from. Especially because he gave Oswin so many chances to come clean and Oswin had sworn an oath to serve Hector personally after one of their major bonding moments early in the story. Hector really trusted him and he really was betrayed, even if it was for his own good.
Oswin explains why he kept the secret; it was on Marquess Uthers own orders. Which I suppose supersede or are at least equal to Hectors since he swore to serve both.
And Uthers reasoning is explained. He didnt want Hector to have to choose between returning to his family or staying with his friend when both needed his help. Theres no right choice there.
So he did what he could to spare Hector the choice altogether.
Yeah kind of too little too late on the wanting to help Eliwood with Elbert front. Uther really did pull some jerk moves not helping with that while there was still time and then lying and saying he couldnt have done anything to Eliwoods face later.
The War Room, part 32
Were at that part of the game. The time to break out the unique uber items and use them up if need be. The time to bring the Hammerne staff out of storage. Many chapters ago- on Unfulfilled Heart to be exact. Ursula gave Dart or Heath or someone this special item. It has 3 charges, requires an A in staves to use, and costs a whopping 600 gold per charge.
Ive talked about it before and even explained most of what Im about to do with it, but I think its worth explaining fully here.
So every weapon and every item has a durability statistic- the number of uses remaining before its broken and lost forever. And theres no way to restore durability or to prevent its loss except not using the item in question. Except this staff. Every item also has a value, and as you decrease the remaining durability of that item you lose the items value in a prorated manner. So a 3 use vulnerary is worth 300 gold, and if you drink 2 charges of it then you only have 100 gold worth left. Since your funds score depends on the total value of all stuff you own + cash on hand, this means that using weapons and items invariably decreases your funds score.
The Hammerne has 3 charges and is worth 1800, so each charge used up is 600 gold down the drain. But it restores whatever item its used on to maximum durability- which also restores the items value. An elixir is worth 3000- 1000 per charge. So using the Hammerne on an elixir which has lost exactly one charge gives you 1000 600 = a net 400 increase in assets. Clearly you should not save up the Hammerne when it can generate money for you.
But you shouldnt use it on an elixir either. No, remember the economic concept I brought up before: opportunity cost. The true cost of using the Hammerne on the elixir isnt the 600 for the Hammerne, but the maximum possible gain you could have got from using it on something else. For example, if you had a second elixir that was at 1 use left instead of 2, then the true profit of using the Hammerne on the first Elixir instead of the second is -1000, a major loss.
But theres a bit more to it than that: you should never be using elixirs in the first place. Theres just no need for them and it wastes a massive chunk of money. If you even HAVE a 2 or 1 charge elixir then you have screwed up. And if use the Hammerne to undo that mistake, you still pay a price: the value of restoring a much useful (or valuable) item to full durability.
So the ideal things to use the Hammerne on are those which are:
1) Extremely valuable when at maximum durability
2) Currently at very low durability
3) Not about to be used again (if youre going to use it again soon and it has more than like 1 charge left, just use it first and THEN Hammerne it)
4) Actually useful items.
What are the most monetarily valuable items in the game which have more than 1 possible charge (anything that hits 0 is gone forever, even the Hammerne cant restore them)?
The S-rank weapons at 15000 35000, the spear and Fenrir at 9000, aura and fortify at 8000, the brave lance and brave bow and warp at 7500, the rapier and Wolf Beil and Fimbulvetyr at 6000, luna at 5250, eclipse at 4000, physic at 3750, nosferatu at 3200, and the wyrmslayer and tomahawk and elixir and purge at 3000
Also a few items like the Wind Sword and such which are not actually acquirable.
Which of those are actually useful items? Well things like Fenrir and aura and so forth are right out. Those are either too heavy or only available at almost the exact same time as the superior S rank weapons or the like.
And the S-rank weapons themselves are not good candidates since by the time you get them the game is over and youre evidently already smashing up the hardest enemies without them.
Really the huge-priced uber weapons in general are not good because theyre only marginally better than normal weapons. Only weapons with specially early availability or unusual functions are worth including.
The shortened list is: Fortify at 8000, Warp at 7500, Rapier and Wolf Beil at 6000, Luna at 5250, Physic at 3750, wyrmslayer and purge at 3000.
Fortify is certainly very handy, but Ive never needed more than 1-2 charges of it. And its only available really late anyway. Warp is in a similar category. Physic is not a bad candidate, but because I tend to buy multiple physic staves but use them sparingly, I again dont tend to get one staff with really low uses. Although I could doubtless pull some interesting tricks with it, I think Purge is in the elixir category of use avoidable enough that you shouldnt use it.
Rapier, Wolf Beil, Luna, and Wyrmslayer. And Wyrmslayer is much less pricey. So the 3 are all decided basically. Those 3 weapons are incredibly pricey and incredibly useful and will likely see enough use to get them down to just a few charges left. Theyre perfect candidates, at least for my style of play.
Stupidly, I actually used up my last charge of one Luna tome so I cant Hammerne it now. But Ive been planning on the Rapier and Wolf Beil all game and theyve been sitting in storage with 2-4 uses each.
Oh and Filas Might/Niniss Grace WOULD be on that list despite having 0 monetary valuable due to sheer usefulness, but it turns out Hammerne just arbitrarily doesnt work on them, as I found out this level. Oops.
Battle Preparations & the Map:
Not much to see here. Karla only appears if you bring Bartre and hes a level 5 or higher warrior.
I need to clear serious Merlinus space and as long as I buy only with the silver card there is no loss for selling items, so I sell everything thats halfway broken or otherwise not worth very much and can either be replaced or isnt needed. I need a lot of empty space so I can buy lots of handy items that arent half broken.
Remember, with the silver card all cash awards can be doubled. The chapter expects me to gain 30,000 gold, but I can gain 60,000 just by using the silver card. Thats a nice profit.
Objective: Survive 5 Turns.
Secondary Objective: Do some shopping
Secondary Objective: Recruit Karla with Bartre
Secondary Objective: Develop some supports since theres some time to kill
Reinforcements: None. I half-expected some kind of Damian-type thing my first time on this chapter. Perhaps in part because the same music is playing as on The Port of Badon.
Turn Limit: 5. And its a survival chapter, so again that means I lose 1 turn.
Units Allowed: 9+ Hector
1) Eliwood. I want to try to get him to B support with Hector since hes a really good unit.
2) Lyn. I want to try to get her some supports with Florina because I might as well. And maybe with Eliwood because I have to drag her to Light anyway.
3) Bartre. Needed to recruit Karla.
4) Florina. I want to try to get her support with Lyn because I might as well and with Fiora because both are going to see more use, and their similar movement pattern makes them a natural team.
5) Fiora. I want to get her supports with Florina. And as a flyer (who only needs to support with 1 other person) shes my most natural silver card user.
6) Erk. A tiny bit of heal grinding on Bartre and Karla since hes so close to a new staff rank + support building with Nino and Pent.
7) Nino. Support building with Canas and Erk.
8) Pent. Either he or Canas will be using the Hammerne staff this chapter since I have so much time to kill. It gives serious XP and Canas is too high level, so Im having Pent use it. Plus building support with Erk and Canas.
9) Canas. Building support with Pent and Nino. Plus I need a 3rd item to Hammerne since I dont have Luna as planned. After reviewing my options I decided on a moderately expensive Barrier staff because I could use up some of the remaining charges of that first for free XP.
Notable Units Rejected:
1) Priscilla. Since unpromoted people get twice as much staff XP as promoted, shes the natural Hammerne choice over Pent. But shes too high level. Shes about 140 from 20 and will easily get that much in the next few levels- or from just using the staff 3 times basically. Since I dont want to kick her off the team necessarily, I dont want he 20ing early.
2) Matthew. Has an interesting conversation with Hector, but this run is about strategy more than seeing every conversation.
3) Serra. Same as Matthew, and she only has a B in staves so she cant use the Hammerne.
Didnt you hear me say I wasnt going to use any of those?
Guess not. Also is he seriously asking the tactician to fight? It DOES fit his character I suppose.
Karla appears, looking for someone.
Brother, brother, fight, fight, Karla, every time she opens her mouth.
And here are her stats.
And here are Guys. Hes about 7 levels lower and without his pretty sweet promotion gains and hes still almost as good as her. And her growths are awful.
And heres a real swordsman of the same level. He would double her and one round kill her with an iron sword. With 90% hit odds, which with true hit means a 96% chance of one round kill. With her signature weapon she can barely scratch him. And she even has a higher chance of missing. And most importantly he gets axes. Even the awful Karel is better than this loser.
Harken would also clobber her in the mercenary department, but saying mercenaries are better than myrmidons is sky is blue territory honestly. Raven just happened to be at the exact same level, so he made an interesting comparison.
Yknow what else is interesting? Even Bartre doesnt shape up that badly against her. If they both use iron weapons, he is going to crush her. Even with her Wo Dao, hes got >50% odds to win their fight. And hes BARTRE. But canonically were apparently supposed to believe she completely outclasses him and just lets him live at this point.
I absolutely hate Karel as a character, he is the most annoying guy in the game. And Karla has no personality other than being Karel lite and wanting to find him. So shes the second most annoying person in the game with a side of irksome FE tendency to make womens stories revolve entirely around men. I am done talking about her.
I find her sword more interesting to talk about. It is a mediocre sword. The game will tell you it is a very good sword. This is a lie. I am done talking about her sword.
Such the gentleman. Bartre runs up and talks to her. She apparently spends all her time just going arena to arena murdering people in the hopes that her brother might happen to be there. No one ever calls her out on this. Give her an axe to the face, Bartre.
She gets a crit, he lives, and the fight ends. He has >65% odds of killing her if they continued another round. But they pretend she won even though her even doing decently against a nearly minimum level and mediocre Bartre depended on getting a crit, which had roughly 40% odds of not happening in either hit- a higher chance than him missing in the first place.
If it seems like Im harping on this point, its because Ive been harping on Bartres awfulness for 25 chapters and want to make it clear just how bad this new character is by comparing her to him thoroughly.
I hadnt noticed.
Darned straight we do!
She announces shes joining and explains why. Shes going to switch from killing random people in arenas to killing whoever we kill in hopes her brother will just happen to be there. She has no idea at all who we are or who were fighting at this point, but she doesnt care who shell be killing as long as theres a > 0 chance of finding her even eviler brother. This is a villainess of the same level of murderousness as Sonia or Vaida. No one ever acknowledges this.
It might if there was any reason to ever want him on the team instead of Harken.
Bartre is mad shes walking out on him when he has her on the ropes. And you call yourself the toughest wench alive?!
Oh and I was just fooling around checking to see if there were any conversations I hadnt seen before and happened to find this one. It occurs if you have Bartre talk to Karla when he has no weapon.
Is he talking to himself? I guess? The whole conversation is a bit hard to follow.
And she mocks him and leaves. Well not too interesting, but I never saw it before. Theres all kinds of secret or quasi-secret stuff in this game, Im always finding new things.
Alright, so the chapter proper begins. I might as well give Erk some healing XP from Karla.
And move into this box support growing position.
Pent uses the Hammerne, Erk is carrying the Wolf Beil and Rapier for this purpose.
(Note that it really does work on the Rapier, not the Heal that it displays here).
Fiora shops for a few tomes.
And florina can support her!
The conversation is mostly Fiora being protective of her formerly timid younger sister.
Lyn can also support Florina right away now.
Its a very similar conversation. Most of hers are. Ive mentioned Florinas single-trait personality annoys me before.
So heres my support building formation. I basically keep this up for the rest of the chapter, shifting the location store to store but not whos next to who.
Sword shopping. Because I bought loads of iron weapons before and because I need to compensate for being down a Luna and most of Filas Might, Im making sure to buy an unusual number of high end weapons like silver ones, killer ones, and reavers. Still not many, but Id usually buy 0.
Pent repairs the wolf beil.
Karla visits the random advice village where we learn- about 40 chapters into the game on the second or later playthrough- that you can sell items.
And where we learn with 2 chapters left (or 3 if you know about the most secret of sidequests) that sometimes those items you might sell would have come in handy later on.
Just more turns of roughly the same formation shifting store to store. I bought a very large number of axereavers just in case because there is a chapter with nothing but like 40 berserkers on it coming up and I dont know which team members will be well suited to it.
And I tried to repair the Filas Might. Thats how I found out it cant be done. Restart!
On the second playthrough I did everything the same, except I had Canas cast Barrier every turn for free XP before using the Hammerne on the 2 use remaining Barrier staff on the last turn. A decent amount of money earned, plus some XP. Not as good as restoring that Luna would have been.
But counting my usual 10 gold or less for 1 XP is a pretty good trade ratio rule of thumb, plus that it was already lowish on uses and decently valuable AND decently useful, the humble Barrier staff was my best option.
Well it did its job. +12,000 or so gold right there. Just a shame it couldnt be +15,000. And, you know, that Im down a Luna and Filas Might for this difficult bit of the game.
All done. I couldnt actually spend all my money before Merlinus filled up- a waste of nearly 20k gold- but I have one last chance to fix that next level if I play my cards right (ba dum tsh).
Eliwood makes an excuse and heads out for a moment.
And goes to the empty throne room to talk to his brother about the future and the things he never got a chance to say.
And, apparently, about wanting to abolish the whole system of nobility or something. Im pretty sure no one mentioned that was a goal before.
If you dont recognize this place without the label by now, actually I cant really think of a way that would happen without deciding to skip all early game cutscenes and watching all late ones for some reason.
Returning, Nergal reveals that he took Ninians dragon stone. Probably from Nils actually. Most likely she gave it to him when they did that hands-clasped power sharing thing. In fact, they might even just be exchanging their dragon stone when they do that.
Holy cow, the gate opened! Hes now revealing that backup plan I mentioned he had in the previous chapter but which first time players dont know about till now.
So thats another reason he popped in just after Ninian died. And the reason he grabbed Nils with his magic but didnt leave with him. He just needed the dragon stone that he took secretly and Ninians quintessence. With her quintessence used on her dragon stone and his power greater than ever, he can finally open the dragons gate without having her alive.
Its just another Thursday at work for Limstella.
Explicit confirmation that what he said to Athos about the legendary weapons- and forblaze in particular- no longer being able to harm him was a lie.
Another sign that hes more cautious and capable of understanding the limits of his power than he usually lets on to the heroes. And proof that he really is running short on spare quintessence at the moment, so he cant make any more morphs but tries to make it look otherwise.
Like an adjutant giving a supply report about something totally mundane to her general. They ate one of the most dangerous organizations in the world alive between the two of them and neither thinks of that as anything remarkable.
Just as planned!
Total Restarts: 36. Yeah. I had to restart on a level with no enemies.
Turn Surplus: 14. Thats the last turn lost to a survival chapter. Theres one more 0 chapter left and it can be a doozy, so I cant slip up and go overtime on Victory or Death or Light or its all been for nothing.
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 didnt have enough time to feed to Bartre, the confused pirate and final archer on Night of Farewells, like 5 charges of Filas Might and a Luna tome I should have Hammerned on Cog of Destiny, and the Pure Water on The Berserker.