Part 68: The bullshit editionBattle Before Dawn is a special, special map. So special, in fact, that I'm going to detail just how many layers of bullshit they've wrapped into one map as a bonus update. First, the things that haven't changed. Nino, Jaffar, and Zephiel all must survive the chapter (for our purposes at least; only Zephiel needs to survive to clear the chapter itself), Nino and Zephiel are both subject to dying when they get looked at funny, and Jaffar is still a killing machine that's all too happy to throw himself into suicidal situations. We still have to survive 15 turns, and it's still a huge fog of war map.
Woo! Alkydere here and its my first time ever co-commentating! Normally the co-commentator gets out easy and can easily come off as competent. Im sure Ill sound like an idiot at some point despite that. Id say Im contractually obligated to have an Alkyderp moment, but that would imply I have to try to come across as incompetent as I do from time to time. Youll probably see me derping it up with Artix and Fedule in the next few updates because even a moron like me knows what bullshit looks like.
Anyways, weve got a meat thresher to catch before he runs out of steam, a young, level 5 mage to recruit to stop said meat thresher, oh and weve got to rescue a little blonde girl in a tiara. Im assuming Zephiels and Ninos stats are the same as in this battle on ENM (as if IntSys would do something nice like as give the units you have to rescue a buff when youre facing stronger enemies). Seriously, how does a sword user end up with stats that are barely better than a mage with six less levels?
So remember how we were basically spoiled for choice the first time around? I mean, 14 spots is enough to spare a thief for both sides and still have plenty of spots for your main team. Well fuck you, you get 10 now. 8 if you bring both Matthew and Legault, and we're stuck with our Hector, which really means we've got 7 capable fighters. We're just using Legault, as least for now.
More enemies, stronger enemies, allies/objectives that werent buffed to compensate for the increased difficulties, oh and less forces to work with. Sounds like IntSys. They pull variations of this in the Advance Wars games too.
Fire off a torch, and we see that Maxime has relocated to the corridor above Jaffar. Since Jaffar has a tendency to head south and east, Maxime shouldn't be any trouble for him, just for us.
The guys wearing an all lavender suit of armor. I wonder if his names really Maxine.
Wait, Maxime definitely had more HP than that on the map...
The old Maxine.
There we are. And he still has that Silver Lance. He's easily the most dangerous enemy on the map, though Ursula is no slouch herself.
The new/bullshit Maxine. +6 Str, +9 Skill, +6 Spd, +3 Def, +6 Res, so a total of +30 points of bullshit here.
Don't forget his +19 HP. +49 points of bullshit here.
On the east side, we see fighters, and there's a hero further in the darkness. What makes them really annoying is about half the fighters have Swordreavers and the others have regular axes, so regardless of whether you use swords or lances, one of them is going to have the upper hand on you.
If Hector didnt turn out so lackluster Id say Fuck it, use axes! and be neutral to everyone. Id also suggest Fuck it, use magic! but I suspect the AI would just tear you apart if you did.
The only magic user on that side on this run happened to be Canas, and anyone trying to tear him apart would have their mind melted before they could even raise their sword in the first place. And the only other magic user we have worth using is Priscilla, who really requires Guy to be amazing, and Guy is much better served on the west side.
Next problem. The monk that Nino has to fend off has seen some substantial boosts and Nino is in a losing battle. Thankfully, she has the sense to use her elixir once she gets below 7 or 8 health, but that's still a fairly dangerous position for her. Especially considering that Ursula has relocated to the southeast corner, and the monk is literally standing one space outside her Bolting range.
So, if the Monk crits, or Nino wanders just a bit too far due to some slight RNG variation in AI pathing (does FE have that?), or she magically crits and THEN wanders too far youre going to lose her? Is that what Im hearing?
Not exactly. For all the problems associated with Nino, she doesn't move except to run and heal, and she usually runs back into the corner rather than toward your group (and Ursula's Bolting range). That said, it's certainly a possibility, albeit one I've never seen play out.
You want those Boots and Brave Lance? Of course you do, that was a dumb question. Well, thieves start spawning in after the first turn, and keep going until turn 4 or 5. If you have an accurate ranged unit, you can always pick them off after they get a treasure, but stopping them from getting that far in is all but impossible.
The aforementioned Swordreaver fighters love to go after Jaffar. He's all too happy to murder them in response, but that just leaves the door wide open for another one to take his place. Fortunately, Jaffar is also willing to pop open his elixir when he needs it, but the player's definition of "needs it" is usually a much higher threshold than the AI's.
Zephiel will have his first battle on turn 5. No matter how fast you charge down, you will not beat this fighter here. Fortunately, Zephiel has the advantage of being on a pillar and a weapon triangle advantage. When he only has 39 avoid in the first place, though (and that's on the pillar, mind you), that leads to situations like this. Zephiel is nowhere near fast enough to double him in response, and he won't attack on his own turn, so Zephiel must dodge at least one of the two attacks. Not failing the mission here is literally up to luck.
And the whole AI-elixir thing? That missing 10 HP isn't enough to trigger Zephiel using his elixir. So if he does get hit, it's just going to make thing even more difficult to keep the fucker alive.
Wait, so hes got 20 HP, the fighter just cut off 10 of that HP, and the AI refuses to heal himself in case the fighter knocks off the remaining HP the next turn? So, if the RNGs fickle favor doesnt let Zephiel get at least one 39% chance do dodge (or worse, makes Zephiel miss on his counter strike), that means the game just says fuck you! and absolutely nullifying anything you do on the first 6 turns. Who thought this was good game design?
Zephiel isn't likely to miss, considering he's using a Silver Sword against a fighter, which isn't a class known for its speed (and therefore avoid), but yeah.
If you ever see this screen, unless you have a unit close enough to kill the mercenary, you have lost the chapter. Period. The mercenary is fast enough to double Zephiel, and he does at least 10 damage. If you're lucky, he'll miss one of the two attacks, and then the shaman gets to take a shot at him. And of course, if Zephiel wasn't at full health before this, you might as well just restart and save yourself the time. If he is, there's a slight chance, but it's not one to count on.
Wow, its almost like the designers didnt want you to win. There are so many chances for the player to lose the game before they have any chance to impact something, but only AFTER having to spend several minutes actually playing the level to see if the level will even give you a chance to beat it. I love this, and even more importantly I love that someone besides me is fighting this! I propose that HHM was solely designed to test claims of Nintendiums strength as this is perfectly designed just to make someone throw their GameBoy across the room. And you say theres a good three or four more levels of this? Wonderful!
Either Advance Wars or FFTA2 has done something terrible to you if you're saying you love this. Do...do you want to talk about it? It's okay, the IntSys Support Group is here for you if you need it.
As an extra "Fuck you," there's a fighter right where any sane person is going to rush through. Running into him not only means you stop, but you can't attack with that unit this turn either. If you can get past this, the rest of the chapter should be relatively easy, but it's a tall order your first time, or even a few times after that while you work out a strategy to get there fast enough, but also keep everyone alive while doing it.
Having a unit positioned solely for your men to trip over seems rather clever to me to be honest. Oh sure, its there for the sole reason of dicking you over, but compared to the rest of the bullshit its something you can remember and take into account. Its something that will make you stumble the first time you attempt the level in recent memory, but youll probably never never trip over it again unless you let yourself get panicked.
In other words: I present to you the only piece of legitimate, non-bullshit piece of difficulty Ive seen in this mini-update.
I suppose that is true, but that doesn't mean it's not a huge pain in the ass. It makes a move that should only take two spaces take four movement instead, and that means you have to be even closer to actually reach the merc, which means you have to get down here even faster to allow for needing that extra movement. What it really comes down to is that you have almost no leeway for this chapter, and deviating from what needs to be done at any given time means something's going to give, whether it's losing treasure to thieves, or losing Jaffar or Nino, or not being able to get them together in time, or whatever. And when that happens, 9 times out of 10 you're going to have to restart the mission.