Part 28: The Black Pillar
Just like Embrace The Dark, this chapter title comes from a line of the song Azura sung in Chapter 14. I think that's pretty cool.
Azura walks straight into a lake and Corrin follows her, entering an underwater vortex and ending up in some strange world full of floating islands and bizarre physics... And then Gunter shows up, apparently still alive despite his fall into the Bottomless Canyon.
I'll be honest, the first time I played this game I thought all this was rad as hell. And divorced from context, it still kind of is. Unfortunately this chapter also marks the introduction of Conquest's most infamous plot twist, so the experience gets somewhat soured the second time around.
Anyway, Gunter! He's receieved 7 levels since we last saw him, and... he's good now? Not only are those stats way, way above what his level 10 averages would have been from his stats since we last saw him, he's actually gained more than 7 points in 3 different stats. He's back in our party for good.
This chapter's objective is for all deployed units to escape to the tiles on the right side of the map in 20 turns or less. Considering the small distance to travel and the relative lack of enemies, it seems easy enough...
Except there's also an alternative objective to defeat this boss, who's on a completely separate island we seemingly have no way to access.
And last of all we're only allowed 3 units, all of which are force deployed. Everything about this chapter really adds to the whole feeling of "wtf" the story is going for right now. The game's actual plot aside, I love the atmosphere they're building here.
Gunter might be here as insurance to make sure a terrible or underleveled Corrin doesn't softlock you, but ideally Corrin wants to defeat as many enemies as possible, since this chapter is pretty much free EXP. These Villagers are the weakest of the enemies we'll be fighting, and yet Corrin falls just short of doubling them... I think she needs a boost from somewhere.
Time to ruin any immersion and go back to the castle to introduce the Mess Hall. Here you can cook dishes to temporarily increase a unit's stats, using the resources you find in your castle.
Unfortunately the game has randomly assigned me Arthur as a chef today. Normally a meal will give +1 to each stat that corresponds to the ingredients used to make it, but the chef currently manning the cafe will add their own modifiers. I don't know what modifiers Arthur gives, but somehow I don't think they'll be good.
Corrin needs speed to double and magic to hit OHKO thresholds. Milk & Berries is just a fruit smoothie, right? I'm sure Arthur can't mess this up.
Oh, it's actually a pudding... That adds way too many variables for my comfort. Did Arthur accidentally add salt instead of sugar? Did he use eggs that were out of date?
Good thing Corrin has children to taste test for her. She's got another kid she hasn't recruited yet, Kana can test for poison.
...congratulations Arthur you are completely useless. Turns out "Reckless" cancels out the benefits of whatever ingredients you added and replaces it with str + 2. Not useless, but not exactly helpful either...
She didn't even eat it! That's the worst thing about the mess hall, until you've upgraded it to level 3 you can't even decide who gets to eat what you've made, it just gets randomly assigned to half the units in your army. You can always repeat the process to hope you roll a better selection, but each attempt uses up ingreients...
Yeah sod the mess hall, tonic time. Corrin gets HP mag speed and def. Sucks to spend actual gold on this, but oh well. Hmm, maybe Arthur would cook better if I were paying him...
How do we reach the southern island? Let's split up and look for clues. Using this vein creates three replicas of our deployed units. They have the same stats, any stat changes, an inventory, any damage taken, and a bunch of other stuff, but they otherwise move like separate units from the original. Activating the dragon vein is completely optional, but there are a bunch of goodies on the southern island we want to get.
Azura's song will only refresh the original unit, not their clone, but the stat boosts from Inspiring Song will carry over to both. Clone Azura (Azuura) unfortunately can't sing, so she's mostly useless.
Gunter returns to serve as the ultimate pair-up partner for Corrin. He might not boost her magic stat, but his personal skill does boost her damage output and accuracy massively no matter her weapon type. He is perfectly capable of fighting alongside Corrin on his own, but doing things this way funnels all the EXP into her.
These Villagers are really just here to provide EXP. Aesthetically they also add to the weirdness of this chapter, since Villagers normally are a player or green unit only class.
These guys are the real problem. Even if they can't damage Corrin, they will debuff the stats of both her and her clone. Not a problem for the top path Corrin, but a slight issue for the bottom path one who's facing much tougher enemies and has a boss they want to defeat.
There's really not much clone Azura can do. You could pair her up with Corrin or Gunter, or you could use her personal skill to provide a very tiny amount of passive healing, but that's about it.
I never noticed it before, but the Villagers are attacking even though they can't hurt Corrin and they have no skills that would be helpful. I wonder why? I guess this map doesn't have the "AI won't attack if they can't do anything" behaviour?
Unfortunately nobody can take out these Ninjas in one hit. Corrin can counterattack them on enemy phase if she's got a Levin Sword, but they're still going to have a chance to debuff her.
The south island Ninjas are also a little scarier than the north ones. Some of them come with Poison Strike... There's 3 different stat boosters (and EXP!) available to collect though, so it's worth trying your best to take down as many as possible in the time you have. How easy that is depends on how good your Corrin is.
If your Corrin isn't promoted when you go into this chapter, they will be when you finish it.
Oops! Now that's an embarrassing mistake to make on one of Conquest's easiest chapters. Azura wasn't in range of anyone before I moved Corrin, and I forgot to count tiles to make sure she'd stay that way after I moved her...
Thankfully this chapter is so short and formulaic that I was able to do pretty much the exact same moves to get back here, so I didn't need to redo all my screenshots. In fact, stats gained upon level up are determined the moment a unit joins your party in lunatic mode, which means all my previous levels were the same. Units who join during a chapter can reroll the levels they earn there if you restart, but once the chapter ends they'll all be fixed from then on! This is meant to stop you from savescumming good levels.
Moving on... Some of the enemies closer to the boss are packing both ranged weapons and Seal skills. A ranged Corrin who can counterattack them and defeat them in a single round doesn't have anything to fear, but one who can't do that is going to have to waste multiple turns defeating enemies who can stack debuffs on them without fear of retaliation. This is one of the advantages of a magic Corrin who can use the Levin Sword.
Both copies of a unit sharing an HP bar is both good and bad. It means one unit can potentially get the other (and therefore both of them) killed, but it also means one unit can heal the other by using a Vulnerary. The top Corrin has much less work to do, so she mostly spends time healing her clone.
Level 20 at last! 20 in both offenses is very cool. Unpromoted units don't cap all their stats at 20 like they did in past games, so this isn't quite as impressive as it looks...
Incidentally, this Corrin is above average in every single stat except Luck, ironically. That last boost to her speed was enough to put her on her average for that. Most noteworthy is her magic which is 3 points higher than normal.
Time to dip into the convoy and promote her... Corrin's convoy access makes this chapter go a lot smoother, it would be really annoying if you had to bring promotion items and vulneraries with you in advance.
She only has one option available because this is not Revelation. The Conquest-unique promotion option gains the ability to use tomes, and has a focus on magic, speed, and resistance. The Birthright exclusive one gets staves and focuses on every other stat instead. Discovering your Corrin's one promotion is magic focused can be a little annoying if you picked magic as a bane.
Visually it's hardly an upgrade, your cool cape gets replaced with this crappy moth-eaten one. The rest of her outfit you can't see because I accidentally Mike Wazowski'd her with this giant text box.
Now she's promoted I can dance her again to boost her stats even further, and then give her another Vulnerary. This must be really annoying for the enemies on the bottom island.
I was saving most of these until I was sure who would be on my final team. I guess I'm still not 100% sure if Camilla's marrying Kaze or Keaton, but I doubt I'd be giving it to either of them anyway... They do both have low luck, but I don't think they'd be seeing combat much.
Equipped weapons are another thing replicas share with one another. I didn't actually know this and denied myself a counterattack for no reason because of it.
This is the last enemy left on the top island. Once he's gone I can just have OG Corrin sit there and do nothing while Azura dances her for EXP and stat boosts. If this chapter somehow takes 20 turns I'll have her ready near the exit to escape, but I don't think it will.
Over 10 turns left and most of the bottom island's been wiped out. I've definitely got time.
This group of Fighters all have Seal Strength and two of them have Hand Axes. They can be extremely annoying if you don't have a ranged weapon, especially if they lower your strength so much you can't take them out in a single round. In one occassion where I had a really bad Corrin I think I failed to beat the boss because of them.
Gunter's gaining a lot of EXP just from dual guarding. His internal level is definitely lower than it looks, although I'm not sure what exactly it is. He's leveling up faster than Corrin is anyway.
That level would have saved me from that embarrassing game over if it had happened earlier...
The boss of this chapter has some fairly solid stats, and some enemy-only 1-2 range weapons. Speedwings increase speed and are immensely valuable. This is the first one we've had the chance to get...
Defeating him can sometimes be an issue. Sometimes.
The secret is to crit him with Dragon Fang.
This strange land has a curse on it that makes you disappear if you speak of it to anyone else. You won't know what's going on here from just playing Conquest, but in Revelation you'll learn there's actually a secret power here manipulating Garon in an attempt to destroy both kingdoms. It... wasn't a reveal people liked, and wasn't even included in the first draft of the game's story.
We do however learn that Garon is actually a slimeboy and therefore irredeemably evil and must be killed. He was once a reasonable if somewhat strict person before he got slimified, and that's why your royal siblings are still loyal to him. The rest of the game will be about trying to prove to them that Garon is in fact irredeemable. And a slimeboy. If you want an actual explanation of this game's plot then you should probably check out the other LP I linked in my OP.
Lastly, Felicia! She's been tracking us through various dimensions to find us... somehow. Probably not necessary when we keep going back to Nohr in between missions.
Felicia is the servant you would get at the start instead of Jakob if you picked a male Corrin. At this point in the game she's just there to be a backup staffbot or a support partner for someone like Leo... She's more useful as a late joiner than Jakob would have been, at least.
Next time: Obligatory boat chapter