Part 51: Talons Alight
and seize Castle Laus. After the battle, they rest in the castle and settle their affairs. They diligently prepare for any possible counterattack. They should've spotted anyone attempting to approach the castle. And yet, somehow, they find themselves facing an unforseen attack...
: Is it Marquess Laus? He's come back to take the castle? Perfect! We'll catch him easily.
: No, it's not him... The attackers aren't any regular army. Maybe they're mercenaries hired by Laus...
: Their movements are very rapid... Coordinated. They've already made their way into the castle.
: For mercenaries, they're very, very good. Eliwood, do you have any ideas?
: My father told me something once... There's a mercenary group extremely loyal to house Laus. Their leader is named Eubans, but he's called the Hurricane. He's famed for surprise attacks and lightning-swift strikes.
: Hmmm... This could be interesting. Protect the throne! We will not lose the castle!
: Is that you, Heath?
: I've secured a retreat path, as Commander Eubans ordered. Just in case something goes wrong...
: I don't need you to tell me when to retreat. If we lose the element of surprise, we'll fall back.
: I've heard there are Ostian knights among the enemy forces. Watch yourself, Sealen.
: Worrying so about a complete stranger... Heath, you weren't meant to be a mercenary.
And welcome to Talons Alight, the first chapter that Hector's story just kind of drops into the story. It's a fairly straightforward survival map; we need to keep the throne for 7 turns. The main problem is that much like 13x, you're going to get hit pretty much everywhere, and an ideal defense would have two or three more units than you're allowed to dispatch.
Basically, it's another day in Hector Hard Mode. You're going to have to dance a little in order to keep all the gaps plugged, but we wouldn't want things too easy, now, would we?
Our initial position is a little disjointed, what with the three units stuck on the side, but it's not too bad. It only takes a turn to get them back to safety. To the west, there's just a nomad, but after a turn or two the game dumps about 4 fighters in that corner. Guy is probably the defender of choice here, but I end up using Lowen. Matthew would normally also be an excellent choice, but he has work to do this chapter.
This is where I try to appear smart by suggesting that basically any sword user is a good bet for holding off a group of fighters. If it's not Guy or Matthew with all their speed making them unhittable, it's one of the cavaliers with their defense making them tanky. I'd have gone with Guy, but I'm not the one playing.
Also, it's tempting to open the door and let the three units in that way. Don't.
Oh god, don't.
The first front is actually from behind, because this asshole has a door key that he'll use on the first turn. Oswin makes a handy guard here, and with his Javelin he can even pick off the mage safely.
Treasure in the southwest, and Matthew is going to want to get out there as soon as possible. 7 turns not very long, and it'll probably take him two or three turns to get there safely, one to open the door, and then another two to get the treasure. This is why you don't want to open the door; leaving it closed will cause the enemy thief to go there first, giving you a very nice head start on him. Neither treasure is stealable, so you have to beat him there to guarantee getting both.
It's possible to kill the thief and get one treasure back... but then you'd remember what mode you're in and reset like a good little gamer.
Sealen got screwed in terms of his HHM bonuses; 3 HP, 2 Skl and Spd, 1 Str and Res. In fact, Sealen is one of the few times HHM cuts you a break; in HNM Sealen drops whichever bow he doesn't have equipped (usually the Steel Bow). Here, he hands over a precious, precious Dragonshield. Like all bosses in defense maps, we can ignore him, but goddamn, that Dragonshield is hard to pass up.
It's go time.
: We'll attack from the front and send another unit behind. We want to drive the enemy into a state of chaos. The ambush units are concealed as ordered. When the enemy splits its forces, we strike. That's all. Go.
Anyone would think we can't see the door and the crack in the wall.
You know how this goes by now. Set up a couple defensive lines, and then we brace for impact. Because nothing goes as planned in HHM.
For example, our first defenses have already fallen apart.
Bartre gets healed up by Priscilla and Dorcas pops a vulnerary. Marcus should draw the heavy fire from the south, and the rest should be handled pretty well by the Bartre-Guy-Dorcas wall.
Dorcas kills a pair of knights for an alright level.
Only a few levels in and Oswin's already ahead in strength, defense and speed. indeed.
Good thing Dorcas dodged those knights.
Welp, time for Lowen to get back to his post by the wall.
What is that thief doing? The treasure's the other way... maybe this one actually has self preservation instincts?
The center's been cleaned out pretty well, and Matthew is on his way to treasure while the other thief is contemplating opening a door that no one will ever use. So far, so good.
From turn 3 to about turn 5, mercenaries and myrmidons come in from the south. This is extremely annoying for my axe-heavy group, because Hector and Marcus are about the only ones who can really handle them without being destroyed in response.
If, for some reason, you think that the difficulty of HHM has been blown out of proportion, consider this. I have actively used Marcus enough for him to get a level, and he gets all of 4 exp per kill.
Some of the fighters start heading south instead of lining up near the breakable wall, so Guy heads over there to clean up a bit.
Note the Hammer.
Something I really didn't appreciate until coming back to FE7 after playing Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn is how completely wonderful it is that those games let you see, at a glance, what weapons enemies have equipped, before you actually walk up and look at the combat numbers window. You just point at 'em, and it shows you. Here, however, you have to press a button and look in a menu to find out, which doesn't sound like much, but it's a hell of a thing to have to do to every enemy unit on a map just in case one of them has an effective weapon or a ___reaver or some such. Forget, and you're in for a nasty surprise. Hope you didn't send Oswin down here!
Your point is definitely true, but I question the tactical prowess of anyone sending Oswin to deal with fighters.
This is a wonderful thing.
Even without his Hard Mode Bonus, Guy is ahead in strength. And speed and luck too. The bonus is just a... well, a bonus.
: Someone else go after the throne.
Well that solves one problem, Sealen's decided to come to us.
Treasure time! A Silver Axe is great, but this early in the game, no one can use it unless you've been using Hector or Marcus like crazy. If you have to pick one of the treasures to lose, this one is probably the better choice.
Even if you can't use it yet, it's a Silver Axe you don't have to buy later. HHM, etc.
Lots of dudes coming from the south, so we pull back a little bit.
It pains me to do so, but Marcus busts out the Silver Lance to deal with all the little sword-wielding assholes. Also important to note, Marcus is just inside Sealen's longbow range, so we'll be able to charge him next turn.
Time to turn the tables on Sealen.
Oh, hey, look, the thief remembered where the treasure is. That's nice.
But first, the other chest. It doesn't seem as valuable as the Silver Axe, but healing is always in short supply, and this is 1000 Gold we can spend on vulneraries or spare weapons instead.
Hector gets a big hit in on Sealen, but it isn't quite enough to seal the deal.
Priscilla levels up healing Marcus back to full. Not great in terms of being a healer, but excellent in terms of defense.
I hate to give a boss kill to Marcus, but if he didn't kill Sealen, he would be able to hit Priscilla with his Longbow.
First point of order: she'd survive (if on max HP, although if she's been hit you've skimmed over it). Second point of order: you're forgetting that while the AI is a complete asshole, it's not that smart. For Sealen to attack Priscilla, the other cavalier down there would have to move so Sealen could use his space. Bosses are usually high up in the turn order, so that space wouldn't be available on his "turn". Even if the other cavalier came first, his position is the only one (save for Sealen's) from which he can attack, so he won't move.
All good points...except the cavalier has a Javelin, and has already been damaged by Dorcas. Unless he finds Bartre to be a better target than Dorcas or Hector, he'd move back to attack. I'll concede the turn order though, bosses do usually move before most of the enemies.
One more turn, but we're in the clear at this point. Nothing but a little extra experience by cleaning up stragglers to be had at this point.
Goddammit, you have a 40% speed growth, fucking use it!
Looks like he's r- oh no, wait, I've already used that one. Nevermind.
This right here is what cost me my last run. On the last turn, I had Priscilla get on the pillar to heal Lowen, and one of the Hand Axe fuckers killed her. It's probably for the better, because I only got one of the treasures and didn't kill Sealen on that run.
Damn. Priscilla on a pillar has like 45 avoid, meaning the hand axe guys should have ~25% (actually ~12% by true hit) chance to hit her. That's just not fair.
Said Hand Axe asshole also hit Guy earlier in this run, which had a 12% hit chance before adjustment. It was only 10 damage and all, but seriously, what the fuck.
Anyway, chapter clear.
: The rest of the enemy units have begun to retreat. It must be part of their plan. Half of them are already gone.
: Blast! You have to admire their efficiency, though. Eubans's mercenaries... I won't forget this. We'll likely cross paths again someday. And there's the assassins I fought in Ostia...
: Hector? Is something wrong?
: No, nothing special. We simply have to tighten our belts and prepare. It appears we have more than one enemy. Oswin!
: We'll see to the castle defenses at once...
: No. I grow weary of defending things. Let's get out of here and pursue Marquess Laus. It's time to put him on the defense!
Resets this chapter: 1
Total resets: 3
It's tickin' on up.