Part 2: Chapter 1
Yeah, and I'm ready to go.
What you are is late. The others were suited up and ready at the break of dawn.
Sorry. I'll get up earlier from now on. So, what's my first job?
I'm talking with Titania right now. Wait outside until we're done.
You were telling me about some bandits that needed taking care of, weren't you?
Correct. The request comes from a nearby village. According to our reports, the bandits are not all that strong. I think it best if I ride out and take a look. I plan on taking Oscar and Boyd with me.
Just the brothers? Hm. Go ahead and add Ike to your team. Shinon, Gatrie, and I can handle the other two jobs easily enough. Titania, I'm leaving Ike in your care. I'm trusting you to show him the ropes.
There are three things that Fire Emblem games seem incapable of existing without. One of these is a short series of tutorial battles involving random bandits who are too incompetent to be anything other than tutorial fodder. That it will be a few chapters before we see the other two things shows remarkable restraint on the part of the developers; usually they all get thrown into the first mission.
Meet Oscar. Green Cavalier. Smug Motherfucker.
Impeccable timing. It's nice to know we can always count on you to be at the ready, Oscar.
Don't forget about me! I'm ready for action!
Is that so, Boyd? That's a surprise.
Ha! Not today it isn't. As of today, I am going to be the absolute model of perfection. I need to set a good example for Ike!
I'll take your word for it.
Your first campaign at last. I know you've wanted this for a while. Are you nervous, Ike?
I think I was more nervous last night. I could hardly sleep. This morning, I'm feeling pretty good. It's the calm before the storm.
You should try to relax. You're not going to be out there alone.
Yeah, you're right.
Right. Everyone ready? Let's go.
The one in front of the building up north is their leader. Our mission is to take him out and recapture that building.
Ike! Listen up! All this stuff is old news to me, but I can give a rookie like you a few tips. First off, don't let yourself get worked up and jump out in front of everyone. You'll just end up getting hurt.
Don't try to do too much, Ike. When things get dangerous, you can-- and should-- rely on us. As long as you watch how the enemy moves carefully, you'll be fine. Think of this as a training mission.
I'll do that. Oscar, Boyd, thanks for your help.
Don't mention it.
Just sit back and watch how a professional handles things!
Enough chitchat, you three! We've got work to do!
And here we go; our first real battle.
As Titania has already helpfully pointed out, our objective is to kill the bandit leader and capture the northern building. This involves simply sending Ike to stand on the glowing orange square and select "Seize" from the menu. Nothing to it! We've got some distractions to take care of in the meantime, though, not least of which being the smattering of lesser bandits hovering around the place.
Because we're playing on Hard Mode, a lot of tutorial dialogue is being skipped. Most of it is very basic stuff, but rest assured, even if this LP is your first ever encounter with Fire Emblem, I'm not going to leave anything unexplained.
Now that we're Fighting For Real, Boyd has taken off his limiters and applying his not-inconsiderable skills wholly to the fight. Speaking of fighting, Boyd is a Fighter, a unit concerned solely with axing enemies in the face without axing questions. As a rule, they have high Strength and HP, but middling defences, and can be a bit slow (both because of a low speed stat and because axes are, as a rule, heavy). They fight using axes, of course.
Boyd is also carrying a Fighter Band. It is one of a set of items that only appears if you have previously cleared the game and, when equipped on a character, provide a small (5 percentage points) increase to the growth rates of one unit. In this case, the Fighter Band provides a boost to HP and Strength, as befits a Fighter. (Note that there are no restrictions on who you equip Bands on, so feel free to use them to compensate for weaknesses as well as bolstering strengths.)
Boyd has also discarded his training skill and taken up his real skill; Tempest, which doubles the effects of Biorhythms. Oh, fuck, now I'd better explain Biorhythms...
This is Boyd's bonuses screen, on which can be found a list of his support buddies (at such time as this feature becomes available) and a pretty little sine wave graphic. This is his Biorhythm, and that glowing dot moves a little further along the sine wave as time passes. When it's in the top two sections, Biorhythm is Good. When it's in the middle two, it's Neutral. When it's in the bottom two, it's Bad. There are 30 discrete points in one complete waveform; participating in ten battles moves forward a point, and clearing a chapter moves forward 7 points. (Every character has the exact same waveform)
Having a Good Biorhythm grants +5 to Hit and Avoid, having a Bad one gives you -5 instead. As such, Boyd gets ±10 on account of the Tempest skill. On the whole, you can ignore Biorhythms if you can't be arsed to follow them - but sometimes, that bit of extra luck might just make the difference between a miss and a kill. So there you go.
Right, now where was I?
Ah, yes. Fighting for real. Note the massive increase in Boyd's HP, and his newfound ability to take several hits for us.
Boyd loses 8 HP for his trouble, but it's a worthwhile trade.
Our second new character, Oscar, is a Lance Knight, but since every other Fire Emblem up until now would have called him a Cavalier, let's just call him a Cavalier (and anyway, "Knights" are something else entirely in Fire Emblem). Oscar is another pretty well balanced character; his growths are basically the same as Ike's only a tad lower (except HP, which is a lot lower), but to make up for this, he has a horse and all the benefits that brings (ie, the ability to use any remaining movement points after attacking, and high movement to begin with.) He'll be fighting with lances.
That Paladin Band, by the way, boosts growths for HP and Speed.
Aha! That wonderful glowing "x2", the best friend of any good Fire Emblem player.
Every unit has an "Attack Speed" stat that starts out equal to their Speed stat but takes a penalty for every point by which the weight of their equipped weapon exceeds their Strength stat (This is a major change from previous Fire Emblems, in which Constitution, not Strength, was used for this purpose, and Stregth, unlike Constitution, can increase with levels, so characters will gradually (but quickly) become more able to use heavy weapons.) If your AS exceeds your opponent's by 4 or more, you can attack them twice in a single round of combat, potentially doubling your damage output. That's seriously handy, and it's why any Fire Emblem player will tell you that Speed is pretty much the most important stat for any unit (since it also increases your Avoid score).
Just when this couldn't get any better, Oscar dodges the 86% counterattack. So, yeah, this guy gets fucked up pretty comprehensively.
Oscar moves out of the way using his handy Horse-ness, and Ike steps in to finish the job.
We have one more new character, Titania. In the excitement of recording, I seem to have neglected to capture her stat screen, so you're just going to have to take my word for the following statements.
Titania is a Paladin - a Cavalier that has passed Lv 20 and promoted, resetting their level and classing up. Essentially, she's Lv 21. As such, she is accordingly powerful, and can wipe the floor with the first several missions. She's a crutch character - an insurance policy against the potentially foolish habits of new players who aren't on to all of Fire Emblem's little tricks, ensuring the presence of a getout clause in the event of monumental fuckup.
The other thing about Titania is that, since she's high level and EXP gains from fighting scale depending on the levels of the units involved, she's going to be getting fuck-all EXP from fighting, where any other unit could be getting 10-20-ish (100 EXP is a level). So it's really not advisable to rely on her unless you have to, since you'll just end up holding your other units back.
The presence of a horribly overleveled Paladin is another one of these long standing Fire Emblem traditions; such characters are often called Jeigans, after the first. There's one very important difference between Titania and Jeigan, however, and that's the fact that while Jeigans normally have thoroughly appalling stat growths (thus ensuring that the few levels they do get are terrible), Titania's growths are pretty decent, really. As such, once the rest of the crew catches up with her, you may find Titania becoming one of your better fighters.
ANYWAY. There's a job that needs doing, one that Titania, with her sky-high movement and pressing need to be kept away from combat will be perfect for:
House calls! We're defending this place, so you'd better believe the locals will be happy to see us. You can get some pretty great stuff from visiting houses, so don't pass them up!
We've heard a lot about you. Here, take this weapon. We're farmers, not fighters. Maybe you'll get some use from it.
This nice man gives us a Steel Sword, which is a bit more powerful, but also a bit heaver, than the Iron Sword Ike is using right now.
Well, all that talking about stuff made the first turn feel like it went on for ever, didn't it? It's over now, in any case.
Pah. A bunch of mercenaries looking for their next meal. The villagers must've hired 'em. Listen up, lads! Hurt 'em, and hurt 'em bad! We let this bunch live, and we'll have hordes of hired swords hounding us for the rest of our days!
Funfact: You're going to have hired swords hounding you for the rest of your days anyway. It's just a matter of the number of days in question.
Y'know. Because we're going to murder you.
They think they can buy a bunch of sellswords to chase us away. It ain't gonna work out how they wanted. All they get for their trouble is a bunch of ruined houses. Tear 'em down, boys! That'll teach 'em!
This is your introduction to the fact that Bandits, an enemy-only class of unit, can destroy houses, thus denying you the goods their occupants would offer you if they weren't dead. On the whole, you don't want this to happen. Once you've visited a house, it's safe, and if there aren't any Bandits around, you're fine, but you'll generally want to keep an eye out if there're houses around and you fancy some stuff.
Also, this one just now was scripted; there's no way to get that house. Think of it as a warning to hurry the fuck up and investigate the western house; there're still Bandits around.
Bandits are generally innumerate, which explains why this one is attacking Boyd rather than running away. Boyd counters and kills him.
Another goes for Ike. Ike! That's rich. Ike removes most of his health.
This guy is a Myrmidon, which is what Fire Emblem has always inexplicably called agile swordfighters. They're fast and accurate, but low on strength, and this one's bringing a sword against a lance. Result: one damage on Oscar, 11 damage on himself. Idiot.
Our turn rolls around again; Oscar finishes the Myrmidon and dashes to the western house. Note the Bandit trying to sneak around it. Nice try, mate.
In the course of cleaning up the nearby enemies...
Ike gets a quite serviceable level.
I don't like these odds; they represent a 43% chance of Boyd dying. Instead, Boyd uses a Vulnerary and takes himself to 24 HP.
Do your worst, bandits.
Don't worry, though, I've run the numbers on this.
Sneaky Bandit runs around the house and tries to take Oscar. It ends poorly for him.
When our turn rolls around again, Oscar, Boyd and Ike all kill a bandit each, clearing the middle, and Titania goes socializing.
Please! Help us save our village. Here. My mother left me this. I hope it serves you well.
This wonderful lady gives us a Seraph Robe, which will permanently increase one character's HP by 7. It is the first in what will assuredly become a lovely little stockpile of stat boosters that we'll use for... one remarkably specific purpose. Later. Much later.
On the Enemy Phase, the remaining Bandit observes that there are no more valid looting targets.
So instead, he completely fails to attack Boyd.
Hmm... I'd like for Boyd to kill him next turn, but he lacks the necessary power.
So, when said turn comes, Titania trots on over to him and gives him her Steel Axe, which should do the job nicely. (The Steel Sword was previously given to Ike, if you're observant and wondering.)
Perfect. The 77% attack connects.
There's another Myrmidon hanging around in a corner, so Oscar rushes him.
(he's fine, by the way)
Meanwhile, Ike applies an extremely-needed Vulnarary.
The Fire Emblem universe never had its Einstein, so presumably the popular wisdom concerning insanity is unknown to them. Which explains this.
Oscar murders him for his stupidity and gets an OK level.
It's just us and the boss now. Bosses on Seize squares won't move, so we send Boyd to him.
Blah, blah, boss sass.
Empty boss sass.
Seize squares will also heal their occupants a tiny bit each turn, as well as providing a bit of extra defence and avoid. Zawana's continued attempts to kill Boyd bring him to 11 HP.
Cue the Ike.
Not today. If you want to run away, now's your chance.
Heh heh heh. Imagine that, you sassing me. Don't that beat all?
Two microseconds later...
He also dropped an Iron Axe. We've got three of them now.
Now that the map is clear, the music shifts.
Neat, huh? Know what's less neat? The fact that this is the only time in the entire game that the music shifts like this, and, indeed, the only time we will ever hear this track. I don't know.
Annoyingly, we have to pass a turn before we can win, because only Ike can Seize.
Yeah, (I'm on 4 HP, but give me five minutes on this doorstop and) I'll be fine.
You know, you surprised me. To think that you've come so far.
Look at my father, though. I've still got such a long way to go.
There's nothing you can do about that. After all, Commander Greil is--
Huh? What about my father?
"Nothing"? Now I'm really curious.
Don't worry. You'll learn all about it someday.
Oscar! Dang it! You didn't have to bring that up!
Anyway, Ike. Congrats on finishing you first mission. Welcome to the group.
OK, so I dawdled a bit, but it was worth it. Max is 200, 10 points lost for every turn after the fourth.
Lv 2 Fighter
HP: 30 (75%) Spd: 6 (45%)
Str: 7 (60%) Lck: 4 (35%)
Mag: 0 (5%) Def: 5 (25%)
Skl: 4 (50%) Res: 0 (25%)
Move: 6 Con: 10 Wt: 10
Equip: Axes (D)
If you need it axed and you're not fussed about the details, you could do worse than calling on Boyd. He tends to evolve into a lovable bundle of HP and Strength, with just enough Skill and Speed to get by - more if you're lucky. His Defence is adequate at first but may be a liability later, and he's a risky prospect against mages with that Resistance. Like any unit, Boyd will be great if you stick with him - probably.
Lv 3 Lance Knight
HP: 26 (55%) Spd: 7 (45%)
Str: 6 (45%) Lck: 5 (30%)
Mag: 1 (20%) Def: 8 (35%)
Skl: 6 (50%) Res: 0 (30%)
Move: 8 Con: 10 Wt: 33
Equip: Lances (C)
Another longstanding Fire Emblem tradition is the Red and Green Cavaliers, and Oscar is unmistakably holding up one half of that practice. Like the traditional Green Cavalier, his stats, while generally balanced, are skewed slightly from the Cavalier norm towards finesse rather than brute force, but that doesn't mean Oscar can't hold his own in a fight when one gets going. With even a bit of fortune in level-ups, Oscar will be able to do pretty much anything you ask of him, and the ability to zip around the battlefield on a horse doesn't hurt his prospects.
Lv 1 Paladin
HP: 33 (80%) Spd: 14 (50%)
Str: 12 (45%) Lck: 11 (45%)
Mag: 4 (25%) Def: 11 (40%)
Skl: 13 (60%) Res: 7 (45%)
Move: 9 Con: 8 Wt: 31
Equip: Lances (C), Axes (A)
Titania is the Anti-Jeigan. OK, so she's clearly a crutch character who will waste EXP that your other units could really be benefitting from, but, those growths! Even if her bases are a tad low for someone with supposedly twenty levels on the rest of the crew, not a single one of her (important) growths is under 40%, and with 19 levels ahead of her, that's an inviting prospect. If you can find the right time to put her back in your team, she'll be just fine. Her Counter skill gives her a [Skill Stat / 2]% chance to return half of any damage taken back at an enemy - not something to count on, but potentially quite handy.
Incidentally, don't think that Titania is the Red Cavalier in this game, despite the... evidence. She isn't. It's just a coincidence.
Next Time: Shit gets marginally real-er.