Part 3: Girl of the Spirit Forest Part 1: Evans-GenoaChapter 1: Evans-Genoa
Welcome back to my Fire Emblem 4 Let's Play. In this episode we'll be starting Chapter 1 and hopefully finding Aideen. Maybe if we're lucky we'll meet some new allies along the way. We left off last time with Sigurd seizing Evans castle and preparing to invade Verdane to rescue Aideen:
Verdane existed under the cover of a thick forest. In the past, Verdane's frequent encroachment of the border earned them the label of barbarians by the people of Grandbell.
fighting along the border. The amiable monarch succeeded in maintaining the peace with Grandbell, while pacifying his zealous sons. However, that very peace was ultimately violated by none other than King Batou. The king ordered his three sons to invade Grandbell.
Using the forest as cover, the savages awaited Sigurd's arrival. Where had Aideen been swept off to? And what incited King Batou to invade Grandbell without warning? Sprawling before Sigurd lay the daunting Great Verdane Forest. He was about to set foot into the forest of spirits...
Chapter 1: Girl of the Spirit Forest
Eltshan, thanks for coming! Verdane has taken Lady Aideen of Jungby hostage. And they showed no signs of releasing her, so I was forced to take up arms.
So that's what's going on... I wouldn't leave this castle unattended if I were you. There's no telling what the lords of Agustria may do... I'll watch your back, Sigurd.
I sure appreciate it, Eltshan. Let's you and I meet up when this is all over. We'll find a cozy little spot, have a little wine... just like old times.
That sounds nice. May you be victorious, Sigurd!
You pull any stunts and that lit'le brat's history!
Alright, Kinbois. You've got my word, so just keep your hands off of him. I just wonder if I can really trust you to return him to me...
Heh... Look, he's all yours once we've gotten Evans Castle back.
You better not double-cross me, Kinbois. Because I'll hunt you down... and put your head on a stick! Even if it takes me to the ends of hell! Got it!?
Whoa-woa!! Fer such a pretty face, you sure can spew some filth! Just relax. I've no plans of making an enemy with someone of your swordsmanship.
Shanan, stay strong. It'll only be for a little while.
Aira, forget it!
So we meet Eltshan whom Sigurd and Cuan referenced in the Prologue and get to see a bit of the... disagreement shall we say between the enemy in Genoa. I wonder if there's some way we can use that to our advantage. Now you'll notice that we don't seem to have any units on the map. That's because they're all inside of that castle there. Let's take a look inside:
Here we have all out units. This screen will end up being filled with our army by the end of the game, so you can use it as a sort of gauge to see how many characters we'll get. Actually you can select each empty spot and count out exactly how many more units we'll get, but that's boring so we won't do that. Now there's actually quite a few things we can do here in the castle.
Our options from left to right our Town (visit the town), Sortie (deploy your units to have them take the field), Guard (have a unit defend the castle), Promote (will be explained momentarily), Staff (if the selected units can use staves, they can use one on any unit inside the castle), and Give (have lovers give money to one another). For now we'll check out the town, but first a quick explanation about promoting.
There are two tiers of units: Promoted and unpromoted. Promoted units like Sigurd and Cuan have more Move and generally higher stats than unpromoted units. However when an unpromoted unit reaches level 20 they can promote at the main castle. Upon promoting units will gain access to new skills, weapon proficiencies, and some pretty large immediate stat gains as well as higher stat caps. Different classes get different gains on promotion, so we'll see more of that when units start promoting. Now you might be thinking that pre-promoted units would end up worse in the long run because they don't get these bonuses. However in actuality they already have all these bonuses factored in when they join. Sigurd and Cuan have the same stat caps, weapon ranks, and skills as any other unit of the same class would have, and they have higher stats than an unpromoted unit of the same level would have (generally). We'll go into more detail with this once units start promoting, much later on. Now then, the town.
Oh boy more options! First we have Weapon Repair:
Earlier I mentioned that it won't be as hard as it sounds to get 50 kills on a weapon. That's because of this handy feature here. For a small fee you can have your units repair their weapons to restore durability. Repair price is done per unit durability and better weapons naturally cost more to repair.
At the Pawn Shop you can have units sell their weapons/items to the shop, then have other units buy those weapons back (for twice the selling price). This is the only way to trade items between units in this game and it can be quite expensive, so it's important to make sure the right unit gets an item when they can. Storage is essentially an extended inventory for a unit, but for the most part we won't need that.
The Fortune Teller gives us two options. Love lets us see who a character is in love with or close to falling in love with and Record will show us how many kills and deaths a unit has. Now as you may or may not know, when a unit dies in FE they die for good. There are no Phoenix Downs, there's no Resurrection Spell*, and fatal wounds aren't magically healed between battles. This might cause you to wonder how the game would record a death for a unit. Well the way this game actually works is that when you start a battle in which the game determines a unit will die, it will permanently add a death to that character's record. This stays there forever, even if you load the game (though obviously not if you save/load state to avoid the death).
*May not be entirely technically true sort of. You'll see later.
I suppose this transitions well into the ranking system, so I suppose I'll go over that now as a "quick" aside. In FE4 there are four categories in which you are ranked: Tactics, Combat, EXP, and Survival. At the end of the game you'll be given a rank A-E in each category as well as an overall rank. Tactics deals with how many turns you take to complete the game, the fewer the better. Combat deals with how many recorded deaths you have across all your units. EXP deals with the total number of level ups you get in the course of the game, and Survival deals with how many units are alive at the end of the game. Now then, back to the town:
As the name implies, the Item Shop is a shop in which you buy items. This is what's in the shop now. Fin will be buying the Javelin, Lex will buy the Steel Axe, Alec will buy the Iron Lance, and the Slim Sword will stay unpurchased for now (and possibly forever). In addition, Sigurd will end up selling his Steel Sword to the Pawn Shop and Alec will buy it. Lastly we have the Arena:
The arena is very different in this game than in later games. Instead of being an infinite supply of random battles where you can farm EXP and gold, it is limited to seven static battles per chapter per character. I'll explain a bit more in a moment.
We choose to fight and then choose a weapon, instead of being given an Iron weapon to use like in other games. Note that kills gotten in the Arena do not contribute towards the kill count on a weapon, but durability does decrease, so it's actually best to use weaker weapons if you can win with them, since it's cheaper to repair weaker weapons.
We see here that the first opponent is a level 1 Axe Fighter with an Iron Axe. This will hold true for every one of our units (sans Midir, but more on that in a moment). The arena also has its own unique battle theme. It's very repetitive and probably one of the weaker tracks in the game. The arena menu music (linked earlier) is kind of odd. For a while it's just a lot of crowd chatter, then it kicks in with a kind of nice, upbeat tune. I like it at least. Anyway
Now Sigurd will obviously stomp this weak opponent without a second thought, but opponents get more difficult as you reach higher levels in the arena. Arena combat works much like regular combat with a few small differences. First of all, the unit with more Spd will attack first (unless a skill such as Ambush prevents them from doing so). Now most enemies won't die in what would be a single round of combat so the game handles this much as it would as if Charge activated infinitely. Units will trade one round's worth of attacks, then continue fighting as if it were a new round of combat.
So Sigurd wins and gets some money and EXP for his trouble. The amount of money you get increases by 500 for every level, so while you get 1000 G for level one, you get 1500 G for level two, 2000 G for level three, etcetera up to 4000 G for level seven.
Now then, here comes the detailed explanation of the Arena. There are two sets of enemies: A melee set and a ranged set. Because Mages attack at 1-2 range they count as melee units for the purpose of the arena, so Archers and Bow Knights are the only units that fight the ranged set. As such, only Midir will fight them for now. Everyone always fights the same seven units in the same order in the same chapter, though you don't have to fight them all at once (in fact it's usually bad to). You units cannot die in the arena. If they lose a fight they will simply return to the town with 1 HP. They can always fight again, but for most units if they can't win with full HP they can't win with 1 HP. When your units do win they're fully healed, so you don't have to worry about being worn down by enemies as you fight. While the arena is largely optional, it's a good source of money and EXP, and there's really no point in not doing it.
Now because of the way the save system works you can sort of cheat to get bad units further in the arena. Because combat is done with a random number generator you can save and load to have units fight in different orders until the RNG favors you in a tough fight so that you can win. Now this may sound like savestate cheating, but it's completely possible to do without them. You can save as many times as you want at the start of a turn so long as you haven't had a single unit end their turn yet. So because the arena doesn't end a unit's turn, you can save, fight, then save if you win or load if you lose. I do this and prioritize units that are important to keep leveled but that have trouble with combat. My order for this chapter is Ethlin>Alec>Noish>Fin>Arden>Azel>Lex>Midir>Cuan>Sigurd. Now the arena is extremely time consuming and honestly not all that interesting, so I'll be cutting that out of this LP. Though since a lot of units will be leveling up multiple times through the arena, I'll show you their updated stats (and let's be honest, you probably haven't been keeping track of stats when I post what units gain when they level up).
In this last shot that number in the second column from the right shows the arena level a unit is on. Note this is the level they will do if they go into the arena right now, not the last level they completed. A * means the unit has cleared the arena for this chapter. I managed to get everyone pretty far (even Ethlin got to 7 through some Critical abuse), though few could actually finish. I have no idea how Noish managed to make it though, I've never had that happen before. Now, on to the actual chapter.
Here we have our map of Verdane. That's Nodion (Eltshan's castle) in the top left (actually a part of Agustry), Evans in the top right, then three enemy castles to the south. It looks like our attack route is pretty linear; We'll take Genoa, then Marpha, then Verdane. This is actually another thing I like about this game's maps. We ended the last chapter taking Evans, so we start this chapter from within Evans. This kinda goes back to what I was saying earlier about the chapter maps being representative of the actual world map. This chapter's theme, again titled the same as the chapter title, is pretty awesome. A bit more mellow than the Prologue's, but in a good way. It's still quite energetic, and it's definitely one of my favorite chapter themes in the game. Now then, let's get moving!
First we'll have Arden defend Evans since he doesn't stand a chance at keeping up with us. You'll notice he's at 1 HP, that's because I used him in the arena to forward the RNG past a few unlucky fights.
An uninteresting first turn, we simply move everyone forward. However, you may have noticed before that Cuan wanted to talk to Fin. So let's do that.
I appreciate it.
Of course, I am still only an apprentice. I doubt I'll be of much help to you.
Yeah? Then let's use this opportunity to teach you a bit about the art of war. Here, Fin. Take this lance.
Thank you very much, Your Highness!
From this conversation Fin gets +1 Str, Skl, and Def. This is one of the reasons why he's better than Alec despite similar bases and growths: This little boost here allows him to actually kill quite a few enemies this chapter that he wouldn't be able to otherwise. The music in this conversation is the Manster theme, and more or less Cuan's theme. It has a very regal air to it, but still maintains an upbeat quality to it that A New Advance just lacks. Again, it's a great theme. Anyway, we'll end our turn here...
Hey! That looks like- But it couldn't be, could it?
Gandolf is going to find you guys. Now move it!
Prince Jamka, you're not joining us?
No. I can't go against my father... even with all the mayhem my brothers are causing. I'm going to Verdane to see my father. I have to get him to see the wrong in all this.
Yes, indeed. This war has gone on long enough. Prince Jamka, you're our only hope. Do your best to persuade the king to end this war.
It's gettin' too hairy 'round here. Gandolf'll rip out my tongue next time they find me!
Dew, you were just asking to get locked up, you little thief. You're just lucky Aideen pleaded for your release. No more stealing, am I correct?
Look, I promised Aideen, too. I'm finished with the thievin' business, OK?
I'll take your word, Dew. Now you two get going!
You bring the woman an' that little thief back here. If they resist ya, do 'em in.
Crap, that's a big army and it's right on Dew and Aideen's tail! Speaking of which, we have Aideen now! And Dew too, but that's less exciting
Aideen is our second healer, and she has much better Magic than Ethlin, so she'll do a much better job. She has Relive instead of Live, meaning she'll heal [20+Mag] HP instead of [10+Mag] HP. Actually because she has better Mag than Ethlin, we'll be having the two of them switch staves when we get the chance. As a healer her stats and skills (or lack thereof) aren't really important, but she has enough Spd and Lck to have pretty good Avo. She also has minor Ulir blood being the head of Jungby and all. Let's take a look at Dew now.
Wow that is just atrocious. Three Str and 1 Def is beyond bad. He does have good Evade though thanks to great Spd and Lck. Dew also comes with three new skills: Bargain, Thief, and Solar. Bargain allows him to purchase things for half the cost, something that would be good if he were ever going to buy anything. Solar has a [Skill]% chance to heal the same amount of damage that an attack does. It slightly increases his durability, but he has terrible Str so he'll never do much damage, and he has terrible Def so it won't actually save him from death most of the time.
Lastly, Thief is a skill that is exclusive to the Thief class. It makes it so that Dew will steal the money of any enemy he attacks, and allows him to give money to anyone. This is where his true usefulness lies. He can steal money from enemies and then give it to literally anyone, and get experience from giving money. Of course the rules of giving apply to thieves the same way they do to lovers.
One last thing to note about Dew is that he has fantastic growth rates, despite a lack of holy blood. You see in Fire Emblem there's a character archetype called the Est archetype, named after a unit in FE1, Est. Est was a late joining Pegasus Knight with very low bases but great growth rates. Dew sort of fits into this archetype in that he has bad bases, a low level, and good growths, but he doesn't join late and his good growths don't make up for his bad base stats. There are quite a few Est-ish units in this game, and Dew is probably the worst of them. Sadly unless we have Dew grind EXP from early enemies he won't really be combat viable ever. Now let's have Dew visit that village. Normally I would have Aideen go to the village since Staves are expensive to repair and she can't gain money from the arena since she has not combat weapons, but I can just have Dew give her the money later and she'll have a tougher time escaping if she grabs the village.
That sorcerer, Sandima, is behind all of this. Everything began going downhill the moment he showed up. Aside from the youngest prince, Jamka, Sandima has them all wrapped around his finger. Please, I beg of you... save our kingdom!
Hmm, it seems like somebody is operating behind the scenes in Verdane. This does seem consistent with the fact that Verdane and Grandbell have shared a peace for many years before now. Aideen runs toward the forest to escape. Now I know what you're thinking, why would I leave Dew to be attacked when I just talked about how terrible his combat is? Well, while he won't be killing anyone here, he still has great Avo and WTA on these Axe Fighters, plus the forest gives +20 Avo, meaning he can dodge them all very easily (and steal their money while he's at it!).
Not much interesting happens with my other units, I just move them forward in a defensive formation to meet the Genoa army. Sigurd kills the bandit moving toward the village. On enemy phase a few units reach my army and are weakened. I then send the rest of my army to attack the army from Genoa resulting in about half of the enemy army dying (Azel leveled up, +1 Spd, Lex leveled up +1 HP, Str, Def, and Skl). I position my army into a defensive square like so:
Now this placement is key for a few reasons. One, it protects our frailer units, and two, it'll set up Lex for a kill on the boss which is very important. Sigurd is so far away from the others because on this turn he moved forward to hit Kinbois and move off
also key for getting Lex this kill. Now I have no idea why the AI does this, but those three archers all attack Lex bringing him down to below half HP. Kinbois then moves forward to attack with his Steel Axe instead of using his Hand Axe from a range. I know, it's stupid, right? Well here's what happens:
Ordinarily Kinbois should attack Lex with perfect accuracy, ensuring a kill since he does 25 damage and Lex has 10 HP. However because Lex has below HP he activate Ambush and
manages to kill Kinbois before he knows what hit him. Now it's important that Lex gets this kill because
Kinbois drops a Hand Axe which only Lex can use, so this'll save him some money since he doesn't have to buy it from the Pawn Shop, and trust me, Lex will want to get 40000 G by Chapter 3.
Now back on Player Phase Dew finally reaches the forest
As you can see the enemy literally can't hit him. All of the enemies there have the same hit except for the leader who has 6 Hit on Dew, meaning the chances of death are slim to none.
So Dew attacks and steals gold while Aideen runs away. Now I haven't actually shown some combat in a while, so I'll focus a bit more on cleaning up the Genoa army.
Sigurd kills this archer easily.
Azel takes out this Hand Axe Fighter.
Noish and Midir weaken this archer (unfortunately they miss some shots so they don't kill him) while Ethlin heals Lex
Who teams up with Alec to kill this Axe Fights (Lex levels up, +HP and Def).
Cuan then finished off this archer while Fin weakens the other. He's still alive, but he shouldn't be able to kill any of our units on Enemy Phase. In fact he attacks Midir who kills him on counterattack.
It seems we've gotten close enough to Genoa to trigger Aira's movement. Now she seems like a good lady, and really she's only fighting to protect her nephew. Let's see if we don't have to kill her. We'll try and take Genoa while leaving her alive (I don't show it but she's bound to Verdane, not Genoa). The only problem is she has a deadly skill that will let her do five successive attacks in a row if it activates. I don't actually do this, but a good strategy is to lure her away with Alec since he has Nihil, meaning she can't activate this skill against him.
Now before going on, I have some fun facts about this part of the game. First of all, dealing with Aira is often considered one of the hardest parts of generation one, and many new players end up fucking it up in one way or another. Secondly, did you know that there's a manga based on this game? Actually, there's at least two, but I've only read one (well part of one, it's still being translated), so we'll just talk about that one. Despite gameplay-wise Alec being the best distraction for Aira, in the manga there's a big duel scene between Aira and Lex of all people. They end up being pretty evenly matched, and it becomes a battle of attrition until eventually Sigurd intervenes and ends the battle (resulting in Aira joining Sigurd's army). While it doesn't make much sense gameplay-wise, the manga pairs Aira and Lex together, and Lex is arguably Aira's best lover. We however will not be pairing them together. But I digress
This is gonna be tricky. We need to kill the boss and have Sigurd seize on this turn. Most of our units can't reach the castle to charge and move off, so we'll have to rely on some ranged attacks from above.
First Noish and Alec kill this fighter, allowing other units to reach the area above the castle.
Ethlin then heals Cuan (Level up, +Str, Skl, Res)
who attacks with a Javelin to weaken the boss. I positioned him next to Ethlin in hopes of getting a lover crit, but sadly luck was not with me there. However luck was with me when Cuan activated Continue, bringing the boss down to 16 HP, low enough for Sigurd to kill him. Before Sigurd seizes my other units get as much EXP as they can from those last two fighters (Fin gets an empty level up, i.e. +0 stats).
Sigurd finished the boss of and seizes.
...Aren't you Kinbois' men?
We took care of Kinbois. You're safe with us.
Really? Then Aira doesn't have to fight anymore! They're makin' my auntie fight against her will! Please, you gotta help her!!
That swordfighter out there? I thought something was different about her. I'll go let her know you're alright. So what's your name?
Shanan. I'm... er.. prince of the Kingdom of Isaac.
YOU are the prince of Isaac? You're serious, aren't you? I bet you've been through a lot. You're best to stay with our troops for now. Just be patient for the time being. You'll make it back to your country someday.
Sir, we're currently at war with Issac. Shouldn't we inform the king of this?
Oifey, that war has nothing to do with this child. I don't care where he's from. We'll find a way to get him home. For now I just want to keep him safe.
Well, I guess it's a good thing we didn't kill Aira, isn't it? Man imagine that heartbreaking conversation where Sigurd would have to tell Shanan that he killed her aunt There actually is such an alternate conversation, but Shanan ends up coming with Sigurd regardless of if Aira is alive or dead. Anyway, Dew levels up on enemy phase from those bandits in the forest (+1 HP and Def). Then Aira seems alarmed that Genoa has fallen:
Wait what? That is not going to Genoa. Apparently going to Shanan now means attacking Fin. I didn't anticipate this happening, so I was really lucky that she didn't activate her skill and that Fin didn't kill her on counter attack. Honestly I expected her to go talk to Sigurd as soon as Genoa fell. Maybe that's something that the Hard AI does. Whatever, I'm sure we can talk to her next turn. Hey wait, what's happening up by Nodion?
Ok, here's our chance. First we take Evans, then we'll shoot straight for the border!
Crap, it looks like Elliot is about to attack us at Evans. Well, hopefully Arden will be enough to hold them off. He does have good Def and the throne heals him every turn, so maybe he stands a chance. But that'll have to wait for next time.