Part 36: Den of Betrayal
Time for our first (non-paralogue) venture into the Hoshidan half of Fates land. The titular betrayal is actually ours...
Well that was easy. Onto the next chapter! Azura how'd you manage to find someone you could survive a round of combat with.
Just kidding! It's time to turn on our firends in the first of Conquest's 5 chapter long gauntlet of picking fights against our allies and people we have no reason to fight at all instead of actually fighting Hoshido.
I did say I'm not going to complain about the plot too much because that horse has been beaten already, but this really annoys me. Taking a single hostage is apparently a step too far on our quest to brutalise Hoshido in a war we don't even believe in all so we can put Garon on a magic chair to prove that he's evil, so now we have to fight these guys too. And I'm pretty sure we do actually straight up kill them, instead of magically sparing them like we did almost everyone else. Surely taking hostages to force a surrender is the exact sort of tactics you'd need to win a war with as few casualties as possible? I know this all happens because the devs wanted you to do the ninja chapter on both routes, but surely there must have been a way to force a conflict here that wasn't completely contradictory to the goals of the protagonists.
Garon tells you before you set off that he's only sending a small strike force and he'll send a larger army later on in the war, so how about this: Maybe Kotaro was under the impression that Nohr's invasion was going to begin in full when he sided with Garon, so when you show up with a relatively small army he's surprised and somewhat offended. He quietly wonders if this is a sign Garon doesn't believe in him and has no concern over Mokushu's fate in the war, or perhaps if this is actually a plot to use Mokushu as bait by feigning an invasion of Hoshido from there, while his actual plan is to send the main army directly to the capital while Mokushu is under seige from the bulk of Hoshido's forces.
Kotaro doesn't say anything out loud and welcomes you into his palace, but when you're out of earshot he decides he's not going to risk committing to an alliance with Nohr is this is all the help he's getting, and sends ninjas to capture Corrin in their sleep to offer back to Hoshido in an attempt to regain their former alliance. Saizo, who had come to kill Kotato as revenge for the murder of his father, overhears this plot and alerts you of it, forming a temporary truce both because he needs allies against Kotaro and he disapproves of his dishonourable tactics. I don't know if that alternative makes all that much sense but it's better than "you're trying to end this war peacefully with hostages? Die!"
Regardless that's all plot stuff and who cares about plot it's ninja time!!!
Now these are the deployment slot numbers I like to see. 14 slots, no surprise recruits halfway through the chapter. Everyone gets to come except Odin who I guess is now fully committed to the bench. Sorry Odin.
We do get one ally... Sort of. Saizo joins for this map only as a green unit. He's got great stats and a skill I'm fairly sure is unique to him in this chapter only that makes him completely immune to all damage from enemy skills or stat debuffs. As an ally he'll attack any enemy in range and disarm traps, or head to the boss if there's otherwise nothing in range for him to do. He's quite good in combat and works well as a distraction to bait tough enemies...
...but unfortunately there's a reward for keeping him alive so it's in our best interests to not let him sacrifice himself.
Here it is, the infamous Ninja Hell. A giant defeat boss chapter full of shurriken users and a mess of long snaky corridors. There's also a couple of treasure chests to grab, neither of which are particularly vital, but they're still worth grabbing since there's no time limit. There's also a few dragon veins that will open and close certain pathways to rearrange the map slightly. You don't need to activate any of them to win, but they can sometimes help you out.
This chapter is one of the few in this game that I think would be much less hated if Fates had any sort of Divine Pulse style mechanic. I don't think it's a badly designed chapter or anything, but it just drags on for so long... It doesn't help that nearly all the enemeis are Ninjas with high avoid rates and a variety of debuffs and poisons that make enemy phases really hard to predict. Even a single Shadow Dragon-style map save right before the boss would make it a lot less painful. Alas...
Master Ninjas are the worst. They're fast, hard to hit, and with Poison Strike and Grisly Wound they don't need to be able to damage you with attacks to wear down your HP. Don't worry about Locktouch - the enemies in this chapter won't go for the chests. It's just there to give them an immunity to a certain trap we'll see later.
...At least this isn't Revelation. You fight MNs as early as Chapter 11 there.
There's also Mechanists and their Ben Drowned looking puppet thingies. Mechanists are the alternate promotion for Ninjas and trade speed and skill for slightly more bulk and movement, while the puppets are otherwise unremarkable enemies with special weapons that debuff. Both of them are considered Golem-type enemies, so they have a weakness to units with the Golembane skill, which Mechanists learn at level 5. I don't think any enemies in Conquest have that skill...
Both classes can use bows but none of them in this chapter come equipped with them. Very polite of them not to considering how much you'll rely on Camilla and maybe Beruka this chapter.
Every single Swordmaster here comes with Lunge, a skill that enemies really like to use to dismantle your chokepoints. I genrally highlight the range of every single one as soon as the chapter starts so they don't cause me a reset.
At least there's only one staff user in the entire chapter. This Shrine Maiden hangs out near the entrance and will harass your healers with Silence. She also has a ranged healing rod but she can only heal 8 HP at a time with it, it's not very effective.
Our starting location is somewhat far away from the action. I want everyone paired up so I can rush out as soon as possible to engage the enemy before Saizo can. I'd really like to keep him alive...
Nice of the game to explain this last mechanic for me. This is why all the enemies have Locktouch. They might not take damage from them, but they'll still have their movement slowed down when crossing them... They won't clear the traps for you though.
But before the chapter begins, a quick lesson in how scary damage dealing skills are. You might take only one point of damage from every single attack, but if enemies can lower your HP to one through consecuitve Poison Strikes and Grisly Wounds then one damage is all they need to kill you!
That reset made me angry enough to go back to the Mess Hall. Unfortnately I don't have any defense boosting ingredients...
And I can't choose who gets to eat it until I've unlocked level 3 so it's near useless anyway. Enjoy your +2 magic and +1 speed Xander, that'll definitely help...
Go time. By pairing up Azura with a mounted unit, I can dance Camilla to reach the enemies on turn 1. Fighting them in this tight corridor means they'll be forced to attack her at 1 range so long as there's another enemy blocking the only spot to attack her from, allowing her to take them out slightly quicker. Unfortunately she's not quite strong enough to OHKO with her forged Steel Axe...
The rest of my army will just try to move forward. I needed Xander unpaired here so he could grab Jakob from Azura and dump him outside of the Silence staff's range.
Nina lures a single enemy over and the rest of my army kind of stand around clogging up this stupidly cramped corridor. I could have used a dragon vein to open a passage east of my starting point to reach the enemy faster, but that would mean Saizo reaches them faster too.
This Master Ninja is forced to attack Camilla at 1 range and gets doubled thanks to all the speed that Kaze and a dance from Azura give her. If only Hand Axes let you double attack in this game, Camilla could defeat this whole chapter by herself...
Nina needs EXP so I used her to lure out the bad guys. I wouldn't risk a 3% crit later in the chapter, but this early on a reset doesn't really matter. She just needs two levels to promote!
The Wane Festal is a Hoshidan rod that has a large range but barely heals any HP. It's mostly there to annoy you.
Some enemies will start charging you straight away, some will sit around until you aggro them. You need to find a balance between taking out groups of enemies quickly and not aggroing groups you don't need to aggro...
Saizo will always waste his first turn cleaning up the caltrops next to him. As long as you don't open the door to the north of him then you'll have a few turns of him running to catch up with the rest of your army where he won't be in any danger.
Maybe I do believe Azura when she said she defeated a few enemies... She's really not a bad dual attack partner, even if mine is a little strength screwed.
Felicia's just here to give Leo support bonuses, but that doesn't mean she can't contribute a quick heal every now and then. Unfortunately the only Mend staff I had spare had 3 uses...
Xander Shelters Nina who overextended slightly to remove some caltrops... and forms a chokepoint that makes this chapter much, much easier. Xander with a small defensive boost and Chivalry active can sit here and never be attacked so long as he's got Seigfried equipped. The possibility of counterattack disuades enemies from going for 0 damage hits to try and stack debuffs.
Unfortunately Nina does not provide him with defense and I need her to be elsewhere to earn EXP so I've got to give Xander a different partner at some point.
I have no idea what determines who Silence staff users go for. Last attempt they seemed fixated on Jakob, but now they're going for Ophelia?
Thankfully the only unit to attack Xander was this one Samurai. If a Ninja had went for him and hit him with a -def then he'd be unable of safely keeping up this chokepoint until the debuff wore off...
The Lunge Swordmaster isn't as scary as he seems here. With enough bulk he won't even bother to attack Xander.
I sent Xander back, unpaired him, paired Peri with him, and then danced him back to his chokepoint. Now he's bulky enough! He could one shot every unpromoted Ninja here but a miss would cause him to get debuffed and therefore piled on by every other enemy.
Elise would be perfectly safe here if I wanted to leave her there. No enemy would attack her because they wouldn't want to eat the counterattack.
Xander's pretty much got that corridor covered. I think I'll just leave him there and send my army around the top path...
Saizo can be trapped if you make careful use of dragon veins. Unfortunately you can also trap your own units, so you do have to be careful. There's two different configurations of walls that the veins switch between, and each one can be used as many times as you want.
A very promising start to this chapter!
I'm still trying my best to build Kaze supports as efficiently as possible. I'm sure he'd like to go help his twin brother Saizo but Silas and Camilla both have him grabbed by an arm each.
This would have been a good time to try to trap Saizo, but I'd also trap the rest of my army too. I might have to plan this a bit more carefully.
The Calamity Gate turns Leo into a fairly effective tank against Shurriken users here. Unfortunately I only have one which means Ophelai and he have to share.
Setting up kills for Nina really takes too much effort. I did consider doing Percy's paralogue immediately after hers to feed her kills.
I don't think I've ever played this map like this before. That little green dot is Saizo. I was worried he'd rush straight to Xander's chokepoint and start throwing himself at the enemies, but I guess he's not doing that?
Oh right, Silence staff. I wanted to get tome EXP for Elise : (
Reinforcements appear at the end of enemy phase, and Saizo instantly throws himself as them before I have time to react. Do they count as ambush spawns if Saizo ambushes them before I can react?
At least he's good in combat. I really wish he was recruitable in CQ, even if it wouldn't make much sense.
There are two sets of two reinforcements in this chapter, each triggered by crossing a certain point in the map.
I can't find exact numbers but here's my crappy diagram of whereabouts will cause the reinforcements to appear and where they'll appear from. The lines might not match up perfectly...
That's the north chest opened! Money is important and nice to have. Kotato has been established as a Bad Guy so it's okay to rob him.
Leo will help out Saizo by sitting here and being a juicer target. I'm glad to see him get magic, now I want to see him get speed...
He learns this at level 5. It's an okay skill, just not at all helpful here.
Saizo's in position to be trapped! I just have to move some of my units...
...and now I've trapped Elise in there with him and also got Camilla and Corrin separated. My trap might need some configuration.
Okay, this version is escapable. Elise can pair up with Camilla who's currently stuck in a wall but can unstick herself because you can move out of walls, just not in them.
With Saizo successfully GBJ'd I now have no need to worry about him for the rest of the chapter. For the love of God, Montresor!
Next obstacle is this group of Lunge Swordmasters. Camilla can double and ORKO with them her Dual Club, so it's just a matter of luring them over.
This one swordie also has a dual weapon and they cancel each other out. CQ likes to stick them in groups of otherwise normal enemies just to annoy you.
Hmm, Azura is looking a bit on the weak side strength wise... Not that it matters.
Doing this might spawn reinforcements, it might not. I think I could take them if they did appear so I'll just risk it...
Shame I couldn't take her out before Silence ran out. Begone!
Oh and this swordie is standing in range of Xander so I may as well hit him too. There's no risk to missing him unlike the Ninjas.
This is what your levels look like with Mozu as your mum. Now to open the chest with a Master Seal in it...
The reinforcements might appear when I enter this column so I'll slowly bait as many enemies as I can before I enter it...
Jakob finally gets speed, Silas gets a Peri level.
Here come the reinforcements! There's some distance between my army and them but they'll start moving instantly...
Camilla will destroy the swordies. There's one guy with a dual weapon here but he can barely hurt Camilla so who cares.
The rest of my army can handle the mechs and their puppets. I think the devs might have originally planned for Mechanists to be able to build puppets in the same way Summoners in Sacred Stones could summon Phantoms?
See? All that time as a Wyvern was worth it! Elise is absolutely shredding these guys.
Elise gets a typical Elise level, Niles gets what I've come to accept as the now standard crappy Niles level.
Now all that's left is to dispatch the last few groups and meet up with Xander. Hopefully this won't be too tricky...
Camilla's leveling up so fast thanks to her weird internal level. She still earns about as much EXP as anyone else...
The bottom chest contains a Master Seal. Now I just need to promote Nina...
Now begins the long and slow process of luring units away from Xander.
Good job Ophelia! And good job Azura too I guess.
Now begins Nina's slow ascent to glory. I'll be reclassing her into a Merchant as soon as I can, but she should still be able to snag a few kills like this...
I may have forgotten to buy as many staves as I should have this chapter. Whoops? At least I have Azura's passive healing...
At this point I was so tired of this chapter I was starting to go for low hit chances and just assume I could patch things up with Freeze or whatever. This map really drags on if you let it.
Now this is the real victory. Just one more rank until Elise can use Lightning! Maybe I should give her an Arms Scroll so she can use it immediately... It would also max out her axe rank and she did just hit B.
Just this room left. Kotaro is an absolute nightmare of a boss, his avoid is through the roof and he hits very hard and fast thanks to high stats and Trample. Dying to him at the end is absolutely a possibility and presumably a high cause of defenestration of 3DSs.
His flunkies are also a huge pain, especially the Lunge Swordmaster. I'm pretty sure they don't move until you enter his room but I'm putting Xander here just in case.
Nothing to do but rush them all and hope Freeze can clean things up if they go south.
I'll be honest, this plan wasn't very well thought out. I think a miss could have screwed me here. But throwing my units at his flunkies worked out in the end so it's all fine!
Leo's miss at least I had a plan for. Now all that's left is the boss...
Not ideal that he got an attack in, but whatever. Every time he throws his Silver Shurriken he debuffs his own strength and skill by two each, so it's worth baiting him into using that instead of his flame one if you can!
Time to go all in and take him out on this turn. Leo will stand here to activate Heartseeker so the rest of my units can actually hit him.
Now to throw units at him over and over until he dies. With every use of his weapon his stats are getting worse...
Thankfully my plan of throwing my entire army at him until enough people hit worked in the end.
I can't even celebrate my victory with this crappy level : (
I won! Given how slowly I played this chapter it was hard to give meaningul commentary. It was a slow process of moving clockwise through the map and baiting enemies one by one with my best units while Xander occupied most of the Ninjas at the bottom of the map. Had I not been able to trap Saizo I'm not sure what he would have done... I was worried he'd try to attack the enemies in Xander's chokepoint, but he seemed to be following my army instead?
Oh and Saizo's still trapped in that room btw.
I don't know! I don't know why we're doing any of the things we do! I don't even know why we let you out of that cave!!!
Now to NEVER GIVE THIS TO ANYONE HAHAHAHAHA
...I'll probably give it to Corrin or Leo.
Next time: A nice breather chapter with a slightly less nice time limit