Part 44: Chapter 4, Part 1: Dead Swamp
It's time to start the fourth chapter for real. Celica's ready to enter the Dead Swamp.
But first, Celica, Saber, and Catria each get a Power boost of a single point.
Upon leaving the temple, Celica heads straight for the enemy encounter. Can be a bit of a surprise if you're not ready for it.
Welcome to the swamp. The enemy army isn't particularly numerous but they're a step up from the usual filler fight. As an added complication, any non-flying unit starting their turn in the water gets hit for 5 damage. Because it's poisonous or something. At least we finally get an interesting map.
The boss is a gargoyle-summoning shaman, with just enough defenses and HP to be annoying to kill and a 24 Magic Attack with the Slime spell. There are two other, weaker shamans accompanying him - one summons skeletons, the other zombies.
There are also a couple of snipers and four wizards for more long-range capacity.
There's a slayer up at the front of the enemy group that is the real challenge here. He's fast enough to double-attack all of our units, will do a lot of damage with each attack, and is very difficult to kill. Oh and he's going to park himself on the shoreline so he can attack our units that have taken damage from crossing the poisoned waters.
Did I mention that the swamp also slows down our units worse than a forest? It'll take a few turns to get everyone over. Meanwhile the pegasus knights will be flying vanguard.
The snipers and most of the wizards bunch up to the north, with a single wizard joining the southern shaman and the slayer. Up off-screen, a single skeleton is summoned.
The pegasus knights can survive getting swarmed for one round, as long as they don't take a counterattack from the slayer as well. So the strategy here is to send out Catria with the Steel Lance to try and wipe out the shaman.
Thanks to the extra point of Power we gave her earlier, she can do just enough damage to kill off the shaman in one round.
I was trying to bait the slayer down south with Est, but since she has the Steel Shield her Defense is actually higher than Catria's.
It works out even better this way, since Catria can get in some counterattack damage on the slayer before retreating next turn.
The rest of the wizards advance, though the snipers are still hanging back for some reason.
So, on my first attempt, I forgot that slayers have 7 Movement and thus this one had no trouble getting deep into swamp and slaughtering Jenny.
Palla gets to be slayer-bait this turn instead, with a lucky critical taking out a wizard as a bonus.
Jenny hangs back this time, and Catria flies back to be healed up by Noma instead. Noma's class, the Sage, has a hidden passive ability - he and every unit adjacent to him will heal up 5 HP at the start of each turn. Thus Noma isn't having any trouble crossing the swamp, and Catria will get a bit more HP at the start of next turn.
The slayer should only be able to reach the mercs and the pegasus knights.
Jesse is the target here. He's got the Holy Sword so will heal up a bit next turn, but taking 20 damage still hurts. At least the slayer took another 7 damage on the counterattack.
I'm not really sure what the enemy strategy here is, maybe trying to draw us out the way we're doing to them?
The main strategy here is to wear down the slayer with ranged damage now that he's surrounded and isolated.
I got a bit lucky landing each hit but still had a fully-healed Kamui waiting in the wings, anyway.
Is it possible the Angel Ring actually lowers growth rates? Anyway, the real news here is Celica picking up the Excalibur spell.
We've started coming ashore in time to meet the second wave. The key at this point is using Jenny, Celica, and Noma to top off everyone's HP.
Est draws in one of the snipers and dodges the attack, though the damage wouldn't have been much anyway.
The skeleton comes closer, but the rest are hanging back. The boss summons a couple of gargoyles to harass us.
Sonia's got the Magic Ring, and uses it to clear out the sniper from 5 tiles away.
Skeletons aren't much of a threat anymore, particularly to a promoted Saber.
Poor Valbo can only move one tile at a time through the swamp. He'll hit the beach at just 4 HP remaining and never take any action in the battle.
Two wizards attacked Catria for some scratch damage, and the gargoyles moved ahead. The remaining sniper is still hanging back for some reason.
Palla and Catria go after the wizards, but only Catria lands both of her hits.
Leo can't quite finish off the wizard, but with 1 HP remaining the wizard can't cast anything anymore anyway.
We've got a rough line formed up for the gargoyles, out of reach of the boss.
And Garcie calls up another seven gargoyles. Better than him attacking Catria, at least.
The two gargoyles from last turn both reach Est, but the Steel Shield keeps her safe.
The second sniper finally joins the party, but misses Catria.
The sniper should've stayed hidden, because Catria quickly gets rid of it.
The gargoyles aren't much threat while isolated like this, so I give the second string some action (Boey and Atlas). They still can't kill it.
Meanwhile, Palla finishes off this wizard from a safe distance. The boss appears to be in "summon" mode as long as there's no weak units in range but I'd rather not get too close yet, anyway.
Leo gets the Angel Ring from Celica, and finishes off the gargoyle for a level.
His Speed is actually serviceable now.
With the Holy Sword and his HP topped off, Jesse makes short work of this gargoyle.
Kamui is just able to kill off the last wizard.
It's a bit of a rough line, but it'll do. Pay attention to the formation of the Pegasus Knights....
But first, seven more gargoyles join the fray.
A gargoyle flies into the center of the pincer formation to get to Est. She's got the lowest Defense amongst units not able to immediately kill him, I think. Anyway, whenever a pegasus knight attacks from this formation (even if it's a counterattack), the following occurs:
The Triangle Attack is triggered, guaranteeing that every hit is a critical hit. Of course, that doesn't guarantee that every attack is a hit, as you can see.
Another gargoyle attacks Est from outside the formation. The Triangle Attack is not triggered here, since it only works on the surrounded unit.
With Est out of reach, Noma is the next favorite target. He holds his own well enough, taking only 4 damage while dishing out 8 damage in return.
The remainder suicide on Jesse, who still has the Holy Sword and easily counter-kills each of the four gargoyles to go after him. He takes a total of 12 damage, but will heal up half of that thanks to the sword.
With the battle pretty well in hand, I wanted to show off both Noma's sprite in action and the new Arrow spell.
Arrow? More like barrage, right?
Boey and Leo take out the gargoyle behind the line.
Est lands another Triangle Attack to finish off another gargoyle. It can actually be initiated from any position of the triangle, as long as the target is in the center.
I made a bit of mistake here by moving Jesse forward so much. He kills the gargoyle just fine here, but guess what'll happen on the enemy phase?
The second shaman is a bit tougher than the first, and Catria can't quite kill it in one round.
Another crooked line for us but it'll do.
And another seven gargoyles. You'd think he could roll a two or three at some point.
Est isn't in a triangle anymore so no super-strong counterattacks for her, but she's still not taking much damage.
Jesse is targeted by the rest. He has more than enough HP to survive, but he's also gaining a lot of XP - and he has the Holy Sword, not the Angel Ring.
The one time Celica's group gains a level without the Angel Ring, and of course it's a great one.
Sonia grabs the Angel Ring and takes a couple shots at Garcie with Excalibur. Since the Angel Ring sets her Luck to 40, it's great for Sonia's magic evasion.
And another terrible level gets doubled by the Angel Ring.
Catria finishes off the shaman minion.
Leo weakens Garcie a bit more.
Palla picks off a gargoyle for some extra XP.
Jesse clears out the space in front of Garcie.
I could farm some more gargoyles for more XP, but this shaman is too much of a risk to really bother. Kamui moves in to take the kill, and the remaining gargoyles vanish.
And the swamp is clear!
Back out on the world map, a pack of dragon zombies joins the group ahead at Dolk's Fort.
Alm opens up his part of the fourth chapter by storming the border of Rigel.