Part 83: Trial Maps - Strange Turn
I always thought it was maybe a bad thing that IntSys ditched arenas for PoR, and this is just another point to back that argument up; these are the lengths the denizens of Tellius will go to to get people to fight to the death for their entertainment.
Anyway. Unlock this map by beating the game on Hard difficulty.
This map is a bit of a motherfucker.
But we'll get to that in due course. First, let's meet our team.
Gatrie hasn't turned out quite as... spectacularly... as Brom, but he's got it where it counts; capped defence, bundles of strength and speed that isn't completely in the shitter. There's just one problem though...
I fucking knew I forgot something or other during all my silly preparations, and now I know what - Gatrie hasn't gotten any Arms Scroll love, so he's still on B-Rank lances. I could have him use one during the mission, but frankly, there's no time. Besides, B-Rank is good for Brave and Killer lances, and we've got other lance users with us today.
Titania has turned out quite decently, although she was still ultimately held back by her low bases relative to her starting level. In particular, she's not quite as strong as I'd've liked, although we can solve that problem with armament.
Devdan! Thoroughly middling. Decently tough, though, and reasonably strong. I had to reset three times in the course of recording this mission; two of those were because of Devdan.
Mordecai (even transformed) isn't nearly as tough as I hoped he'd be, or as fast, but he's got some things going for him; his very respectable strength, and his buckets of HP.
Finally, introducing Mystery Guest #3:
In celebration of allegedly clearing the game seven times (and not at all our blatant hax), we welcome back General Petrine and her Flame Lance. Petrine's pretty handy for this map; she's got the defences to take hits well, the strength to fight back, and the mobility to get more or less anywhere from anywhere else.
Oddly, Petrine only has one weapon proficiency despite being a Paladin. I'm not really sure what's up with that. She's also still got her Daunt skill, which is particularly valuable here due to its partial crit negation aspect. You'll see what I mean.
Alright. Let's deal with the bullshit.
First up, as a primer, you should know that every single enemy on this map is Lv 20/20.
There are various Brave Weapon Assholes in the northern half of the map.
There are also a number of Killer Assholes on the western half. Note that all the swordmasters here have 27-30 speed, so we can't double them.
And there are a number of quite capable Warriors on the eastern half.
This map's one mercy is that it has relatively few ranged weapon users (besides Snipers).
Really, the best way to approach this map is to bring Ike and only Ike. But that wouldn't be very entertaining to w- OK, I guess it would maybe be a bit entertaining to watch, but I suppose that I who presume to LP this game for your entertainment should probably consider you entitled to see this map cleared with a full compliment of dudes of your choosing. Which brings us here.
Oh, wait, I forgot something. There's one of these assholes in every corner.
Four Fortify Assholes. Great. Fortunately, these guys seem to be a bit reluctant to actually use those staves, but the worry is ever present when you're leaving enemies not-quite-totally-dead.
Devdan takes up what is arguably his True Destined Weapon and obliterates one presently.
Petrine is less effective and consequently has to take a Nosferatu hit in the process.
...? You look different today, somehow...
Seriously, I'm not altogether sure how this happened. Is it a consequence of careless hax?
If you think Mordecai's going to be untransformed for one second longer than is absolutely necessary, you've not been paying attention to the numbers.
So fast are these God Damned Swordmasters that Ike has to temporarily use Not Ragnell in order to defeat them. Fortunately, Ike is still Ike, even without Ragnell.
I don't like having to roll the critdice as plan A, but there are just too many assholes here.
Over to you, Gatrie.
Ever noticed how some weapons seem to suit some units really well?
Anyway. End of turn one.
Remember when I put Provoke on Ike in the last chapter because of no real reason? I wish I could hi-five past-me for that.
Sadly, without Ragnell, we can't counterkill the asshole like I so badly want to.
And without that +5 defence buff he's actually taking damage again.
Seriously, it feels weird.
No, wait, everything's better again.
Oh, and here's a thing that most people don't notice because it's usually hideously unlikely to happen; the individual hits of Aether can miss. Fortunately, Ike just kills him with the second Brave Sword hit and everything's OK again.
Good work, Ike.
Oh, did I not mention there's a Venin Asshole? Well, there's a Venin Asshole and now Titania is poisoned.
Titania is displeased by this.
Again, notice how some weapons seem designed to coordinate with particular units?
A Brave Axe Warrior tries something similar and also gets crit'd.
Devdan gets in a scrap too. He dodges.
Oh, alright, one more Iking.
Oh, ow. Longsword. Forgot about that.
Deal increased damage against this, fucker.
And yeah, Mordecai's got OK defence but warriors have seriously good strength, so... ow.
We give that damage right back though, don't you worry.
And, naturally, there are reinforcements every turn for up to twelve turns. Two of these guys have anti-laguz weapons, so we probably want to deal with them.
Right. Time for tactics.
Priority; murder these motherfuckers.
What part of "priority" was I not clear on, Devdan? He at least has the courtesy to dodge both counterattacks, however.
Mordecai gets us back on track.
Ike has to play the odds in order to-
Er... those really weren't the odds I was thinking of, but whatever, I'll take this.
Titania and Gatrie murder a dude each...
And ensure that only one guy (the Spear guy) can reach Titania, who's on not-full health, poisoned, and equipped with a ranged weapon. We also leave Mordecai out of range of Laguz Lance guy.
Again, Ike's provoking skills render most of this unnecessary, but it's never a good idea to rely on that.
Devdan draws aggro.
Silver Bow, Laguz Bow.
The warriors here are the bulk of the enemy strength, so Gatrie goes to soak 'em up.
Titania and Mordecai help too.
Once again, we do the best we can to minimise attacks on our more vulnerable friends.
Naturally, Devdan draws all of it.
Great. More swordmasters.
As much as I'd like to concentrate on dealing with the guys who will actively try to murder us, a consequence of chasing A-Ranks is that you will need to deal with these guys sooner rather than later. So, Mordecai's up.
Why are all the enemies called "General", anyway? Seriously, what is up with that?
Titania and Petrine gang up to deal with one swordmaster...
While Devdan busts out a Flame Lance of his own to deal with the one Ike weakened.
Finally, Gatrie impales a sniper.
This mission is basically a study in unit positioning in open areas (or at least, it is when you're doing it "properly" and not just soloing it with Ike, which is like ten times easier than this, or handpicking your most defensive units, which is like five times easier than this).
Gatrie does his thing.
Gatrie is good at eating damage.
And on we go.
Being in the middle of the map, these guys are now our focus.
That said, we also don't really want these guys alive, being as how they have quite a lot of damage potential.
Mordecai finishes him off.
Only one sniper left in the middle now.
Starting to worry about Devdan now.
I mean, seriously. This is unacceptably close.
Ike is fortunately able to distract the last guy; I don't like to think about what odds Devdan was dealing with there.
We've gone from four units in a wave to six, and worse...
They all have Killer weapons. All of them. And Mordecai picks now, of all times, to detransform.
We're back to threat balancing again. The swordmasters to the west have uncomfortably high crit odds, but generally low damage that Petrine and Gatrie and Ike can eat. The warriors to the south are less likely to actually crit, but have much higher base damage, so our less defensive units may still be in danger. So who do we commit our walls against?
Ike opts to destroy a warrior.
Titania's in no state to be in a sustained fight, but thanks to her being on a horse she's the ideal choice to dispose of the leftover units in the middle before running out of danger range.
The same goes for Petrine.
The really annoying thing here is that, as of now, we're getting more reinforcements per turn than we have units. Remember our objective is Rout. Those archers are quite annoying when you're trying to counterkill.
Devdan chugs an Elixir and Mordecai uses his Laguz Stone again. Both of them stay the hell out of the way.
Capital. Have fun dealing with Ike and Gatrie, assholes.
Gatrie eats two crits.
Ah, crap. Stupid speedy swordmasters.
And six more Killer Enemies join the fray. Fucking fuck, IntSys.
We need to step up our counterkilling, which leads us right into a dilemma. We've got the snipers, who can outrange Ike and Gatrie, and we've got the swordmasters, who Ike can't double with Ragnell. Every enemy phase that ends with a survivor means more reinforcements, and if you think they're not going to start coming in groups of eight you clearly aren't familiar with IntSys.
There is, however, an easy answer; there are only two snipers, so let's just kill them.
There's no way to stop these guys from hassling our other units, but Titania can at least destroy one on the way out of the combat zone.
Similarly, Petrine finishes Gatrie's work.
Finally, Mordecai deals with the last bishop. I told you these guys were problematic.
Is it too much to hope that every single one of these enemies, including the Killer-Halberdier in killing range of Mordecai, will abruptly decide to suicide on Ike?
I guess not.
Oh, boy. This mission and it's ranks. Here're the requirements:
See the dick move yet? Try comparing this with the reinforcement data (again, sourced from Serenes Forest):
Rank A B C D Criteria Tactician 8 12 16 18 ...or less Turns taken Survival 0 1 2 3 ...or less player-controlled characters died Battle 40 35 30 25 ...or more enemies KO'd
Initial Enemy Count: 17
Turn 1: 2 Halberdiers to the east and 2 Swordmasters to the west
Turn 2: 2 Snipers to the north and 2 Warriors to the south
Turn 3: 2 Snipers to the north and 2 Swordmasters to the west
Turn 4: 2 Halberdiers to the east and 2 Warriors to the south
Turn 5: 2 Snipers to the north, 2 Swordmasters to the west and 2 Warriors to the south
Turn 6: 2 Swordmasters to the west, 2 Warriors to the south and 2 Halberdiers to the east
Turn 7: 2 Snipers to the north, 2 Halberdiers to the east and 2 Warriors to the south
Turn 8: 2 Snipers to the north, 2 Swordmasters to the west and 2 Halberdiers to the east
Turn 9: 2 Snipers to the north, 2 Swordmasters to the west, 2 Halberdiers to the east and 2 Warriors to the south
Turn 10: 2 Paladins to the north, 2 Sages to the west, 2 Paladins to the east and 2 Generals to the south
Turn 11: Same as Turn 9
Turn 12: Same as Turn 10
Do you see it? Do you see the mathematically precise asshole manoeuvring going down here?
Let me spell it out. To get A-Rank in Battle, you need to kill 40 dudes. You have six dudes maximum on your team. That means you can kill at most six dudes on a player phase. But in order for these six kills to secure victory, there can be at most six enemies on the map (unless you bought Reyson, in which case good luck to you, is all I'm saying). That means, it is impossible to end the map on a player phase after turn 5's player phase, since if the map is still going by that point there'll be one enemy survivor plus six fresh reinforcements in play.
Naturally, this will only leave you with 33 kills.
After this point, however, you're up to six dudes per wave. If you rout on turn 5 enemy phase, you'll have 39 kills. Off by one. Starting to see the Hand Of IntSys yet?
Every wave except turn 6's has snipers. Snipers, it turns out, are kinda hard to counterkill, unless all your guys have ranged weapons equipped (and are good enough at using them to kill). And once you go past turn 8, good bye Tactician A-Rank. So, basically, unless you happen to end the map during the enemy phase of Turn 7, you're kinda fucked.
One more caveat. Remember those Fortify Assholes? They don't attack, which means you have to kill them on a player phase. You can keep them alive as insurance to make sure you don't somehow rout early, but of course you'd then have to give up one of your kills on turn 7's player phase.
And do you properly appreciate how difficult it is to organize counterkills on this map? The whole map is open. It is very, very, difficult to not have your one weak unit in range of someone, and it only takes one survivor to start the next wave. This just makes snipers even more of a problem. So, again. Turn 7 enemy phase. It is the only gap in which you can be nearly certain of there being no snipers and still in time for your Tacticican A-Rank.
And this is all before you even consider that you're dealing with consecutive waves of 20/20 enemies that eventually all start bringing Killer weapons to the fight, and who pose too much of a threat to most of your units who can reliably kill them and who your tougher units are too slow or not strong enough to counterkill in one round.
...I really fucking hate this map. This map is the ghost of Hector Hard Mode and those bits of FE6 that everyone knows and all of Thracia 776 going "Hey, assholes? Remember IntSys Past? Well, fuck you, because we're still here!". They buried the bullshit deep down in the very meta-mechanics of the thing, but it's there, and it's insidious, and it's as spiteful as it ever was.
Here's Trial Map #4, Desperation. Looks familar, doesn't it? Don't worry, though, it's not nearly as hateful as this last one was.
Anyway, Ike, Mystery Guest #4 and six more units have 15 turns to arrive at the destination in the southwest corner of the map.
Units still available: Soren, Mia, Ilyana, Mist, Lethe, Volke, Kieran, Nephenee, Sothe, Astrid, Makalov, Stefan, Muarim, Reyson, Ulki, Calill, Tauroneo, Ranulf, Haar, Bastian, Geoffrey, Largo, Elincia, Nasir, Giffca, Tibarn.
Reminder of the rules:
- Once a unit is voted in one one map, they may not be used again
- Only one unit of any given class per map
- At most two laguz per map
- Only one staff user per map (Soren, Ilyana, Mist, Elincia)
- You don't strictly speaking have to apply these rules to your votes (ie, you may vote for two units of one class if you want), but they will be enforced after counting.
You have absolutely no longer than however the hell long I feel like to vote. Proceed!