Part 27: Chapter 20, Gameplay
For those of you who didn't even bother reading the last update, here's a brief recap:
The Empire is invading Blaine. Our heroes decide to go to Blaine.
The bad guys get their marching orders. Completely extraneous scene.
Howard joins the party.
The protagonists go to Blaine, but the locals assume that they're Magnians in disguise, so we have to fight.
Congratulations, you just saved fifteen minutes of your life. But don't worry, Blazer's got something for you guys as well.
One thing you may have noticed is that Blazer absolutely insists on characters spewing their life's story when they get recruited.
: I am Yue, a roaming scholar who temporarily settled at Aegis. If I had an ambition, it would be knowledge. In actuality, I have little interest in the wars that mankind creates. ...It was Galagar's high-level magic that intrigued me. Before that, outside affairs had meant little to me. While I am a user of the dark artes, there is no reason to fear me. Dark magic is simply an intricate arte that few have touched since the Falling. Like Kelik, I have an amulet containing powerful ether. However, this one isn't of a human life, and holds no attachment to this world. In fact, anyone could benefit from its powers if they were to hold it. Such is the nature of soulless ether.
I think I must have skipped through his dialogue the first time, because I don't remember Yue being anywhere near this wordy.
: I apologize. Duke Paul insisted that I fully introduce myself if I were to ever participate in a battle. Honestly, I would prefer not to fight, but since we're fighting Wyverns, I can use my dark magic to help you. Wyverns are quite susceptible to any magical based attack. Similarly, I'm quite vulnerable to physical attacks. Commanders, dictate my actions as best as possible.
Stop the presses! Magicians can't take a hit!
Forgot to mention in my recap, but Kelik and Siegfried got a Heaven Seal and a "Celestial" Ring, respectively. Why did they only show up now instead of when they were handed out? Don't ask me. It would have been simple to do.
And of course Howard gets a turn too.
: So for now, it will take all my strength... To move forward... for a new purpose...
Okay, anyone else want to weigh in? Can we get this thing started?
I like the new player phase theme. It's quite catchy and moves around enough to not be obnoxious.
Welcome to Hell. Not necessarily a difficult chapter, but Chapter 20 is absolutely, positively, unquestionably glacial. Whether it's the thin mountain pass forcing everyone to walk in single file, the dense forest tiles, or the wyverns that force you to go slowly, lest you be swarmed and killed, this chapter definitely takes its time. This is only accentuated by the fact that everyone feels the need to talk and talk about things that we either already know or could be summarized in significantly shorter time. It's like Blazer took a bet on how much he could draw out a single chapter before people looked up his home address and started throwing bricks through his window.
Sheesh, a Level 13 with stats like that. Yue needs help, badly. What he didn't say about his Amulet in that giant wall of text is that it's basically a recolored Emblem Seal, offering +10 Hit and Avoid to whoever has it in their inventory. Pretty neat, but I don't think it merits taking up an inventory slot.
Howard's a prepromote. Simple as that. His bases are great, but his growths won't serve him too much, so he's basically just there as a replacement
Funny thing about Zane's special lance: it protects against arrows. So not only does it have a lot of excellent points, including that +5 to Res, but it also makes him proof against his primary weakness. Zane is a pain in the neck to fight, and very few people will be able to do it without being blown away.
But before we really get started, it's time for even more words.
: What business do you have here? You say you're rebels? And you're fighting Blaine due to some mix-up? If that's true, then let me join. Bandits came and destroyed my home village in Valencia. Out of anger, I went and tried to raid the enemy base... But I got captured instead. The other survivors came and tried to get me out, but... they were killed. Yet for some reason, I was allowed to escape and live. I later found out that it wasn't bandits who attacked, but Magnus. They simply posed as bandits to put the blame on them...So I know what it's like to regret fighting the wrong people. That's why I can't stand by as Blaine mistakes you guys for Magnians. I'll pummel some sense into those wyverns if I have to!
See what I mean about people giving their life's story? Although this one sounds a little familiar. As a matter of fact, he has a conversation with a certain character...
: ...Mark? Mark, is that you?!
: Woah, Sai! You're alive!
: Mark! It is you! I'm so glad!
: Hey, little 'cuz. What are you doing here?
: I moved here after the incident... It was tough traveling past Focal Mountain, but when I got here, the villagers were welcoming.
: Oh, that sounds good. Good to know you're safe.
: Wait... What are YOU doing here?
: Me? I'm with the rebels. I've been trying to help them as much as I can.
: The rebels? You mean, the rebellion actually exists?
: Of course it exists. Why wouldn't it?
: Well, I had believed it until a little while ago... They say that half of the remaining Blaine army was destroyed by a group of Magnians posing as rebels. I thought maybe they never existed to start with...
: ...Damn. So that's it. That explains why Blaine picked a fight with us.
Note: Mark won't actually tell the party about this. It would have saved a lot of lives if he did.
: What? Don't tell me they're fighting you right now!
: That's the deal. They must think we're fakes. I don't blame them. I would be suspicious too if half my army got wiped out by posers...
: Okay! That's it! Let me fight with you guys, Mark!
: Let you? I can't let you. I'm just your cousin, Sai. I ain't the kinda guy who can order someone like you. You can do whatever you want. It's your life.
: Heh. I'm kinda glad you say that. Joining the rebellion will let me get revenge on Magnus, right?
: Yeah. But I'm not in it for revenge. Revenge corrupts people, you know? You can get revenge for the both of us, if you want. I'm going to fight because it's the right thing to do. After all, no one else should suffer like we did. You coming, Sai?
: Of course!
Level 8 is a bit more of a reasonable level for those bases. Sai requires some tender loving care to get started, but he's got great growths and decent base stats.
Almost ready to get started, but there's a secret shop too.
Not much going for it, but we do get Physic staves.
So then, let's bait some wyverns. They're the primary reason, besides the thin mountain pass and all the forest tiles, why everything goes so slowly. You can't advance too far, or you'll get divebombed by all the wyverns flying around.
Axe users and magicians are key in this fight, while characters like Shuuda are at a sizable disadvantage.
I'm not even sure why I brought him.
You see what I'm saying about the wyverns? It's turn 2, and we're already swimming in them.
Itsuke might not be as good as Cia, but any spellcaster is helpful in this chapter.
You're such a second banana.
I love Kevin. I really do.
Not to say that it's all wyverns. There are some troops on land to keep us occupied.
Get dead, kid.
How can Kevin double people? He's got basically everything.
Keep on dodging, Anakin.
Kelik's on his way to greatness too. He'll be promoting this chapter, in fact.
Karina is kind of mediocre when it comes to damage.
Mixed in with the wyvern riders are some wyvern lords.
They're nasty, but not too much so. Just gotta be sure to stay topped off before getting too close.
As I said, having mages is absolutely important in this chapter. Otherwise these wyvern lords are a pain in the neck.
Rather like Itsuke.
Do I promote Karina, who can't hurt anybody, or do I promote Ben, who's even worse?
Okay, she's convinced me.
Weapon triangle? Pfft!
Okay, he's ready.
Sadness fills me.
Time for Kelik to realize his true destiny!
He has unlocked all the animes!
I kid you not. Kelik has now become even more of a murdertrain, with a +15 crit boost.
Even though she's been spending this chapter primarily as a healer, Cia still shows Itsuke who's boss.
Now then, with a new class comes a new map sprite, along with...
New, jerky animations. It's okay, I guess, but it needs some interstitial frames.
In this open area, you'll want to watch out for this Sniper. The Bloody Rifle can really lay on the hurt if it connects, what with that crit rate.
Then again, it's still a Rifle Bow, and that means it's inaccurate. I think it'll work better in our own hands.
Itsuke, Cia could do magic and speed at the same time. You aren't Cia.
Like the defense, but she's hitting Level 20 with pretty average strength, regardless.
Look at this mess! If you don't advance at a snail's pace, you're going to get worked over.
Or you could get lucky.
Now I can be safe with running two fliers. Ben's been pressing his luck.
Blazer's quite generous with the drops.
That's a rather unusual growth to trigger.
Similarly, it's quite remarkable how Tekun managed to get everything that isn't strength.
You might have noticed, but Sai runs with a Dragon Axe to start. He was made for this map.
I guess a balance had to be struck.
Yue's an eggshell, but with a bit of sniping, he can eke out a level too.
Did you know that he has a 70% magic growth?
And Itsuke suddenly gets a good level.
I'd like to draw your attention to those numbers. If Kelik wants to, he can crit at any moment.
Like so! The animation's pretty interesting, but once you see it for a while, you can't help but notice that it's mostly just the same few poses with flashes in between.
Someone's getting promoted next chapter.
Another Spear! I could always use those.
Pretty close to hitting his max too.
And now it's time for the boss, after about 20-25 turns.
You may recognize this theme from FE7 proper, as it was the battle theme for Lloyd and Linus. It's not really appropriate here, and let me tell you why.
: Levion told me stories of how he trained you in your youth.
: I do not know where you obtain your information... However, no Magnian would be related to Sir Levion! Your attempts to get my guard down will not work, dastard!
: ......It seems my words have fallen on deaf ears... General Zane. I wanted to test your strength, just once. But I never wanted it to be this way!
See, the game's trying to make this seem like a tragic misunderstanding, like Zane here is a good guy just operating on bad information, but we have no reason to empathize with him.
Remember, with Lloyd and Linus, we got a lot of opportunities to see them acting like decent folks. They had a lighthearted conversation with Nino, and the first one we fought would come around to our line of thinking after we talked to him. Because of that, the second brother's inability to listen to reason actually had some weight behind it, because I know that I was expecting to recruit one or both of them, and I'm sure that many people felt the same.
In this case, it just seems like a situation where Zane is being willfully ignorant. This is no better illustrated than in his conversation with Ben:
: General Zane! It's me, Ben! Stop this pointless fighting! Please!
: You, too, betrayed your King, Ben? Where have your oaths ended up?
: No, you've got it all wrong, General! Just let me explain!
: My oaths dictate that I punish traitors! And so I will!
You see? The guy wants the Rebellion to be Magnians, so he's not even willing to hear any thoughts to the contrary. That's not tragic. That's moronic!
: General, wait! This is a misunderstanding!
: You think you can fool us twice with your words? I was not there when Blaine was deceived and ambushed. But this time, I am here!
It doesn't help that his stats are so high that only a few individuals can actually fight him, making him frustrating to deal with. By the time you've trudged through that mountain pass, you want him to be dead.
Seriously, look at this. Cia's been blessed by the RNG, and even she is going to get smacked down by this guy's overpowered lance.
Eventually, Kelik just blows him away with his ridiculous crit.
: I can't afford to die here... not yet... What about Blaine... its King... its people... Your Majesty...forgive me...
Unfortunately, we're not quite done with the talking. I hope you're not surprised.
: This is such a huge misunderstanding... This whole battle...! What caused you to attack us?!
: Sieg, calm down! Lower your voice!
: Magnus... caused this... I'm so sorry... They posed as rebels... and attacked us... And we assumed... you were... those same... rebels... But now... I see... This was... just... more of... their plan...
: Unbelievable... That's... beyond low.
: I... made a... big mistake... Please... forgive me... rebels...
Of course, why leave it at that, when you can show every single detail?
No, this isn't a completely unrelated scene happening right now. It's actually a flashback, though it's hard to tell.
: I am General Siegfried, leader of this "army".
: I am Leopold. I have come to represent His Majesty, in place of General Zane, who is currently occupied.
: Oh... please, send my condolences to the General and His Majesty. I am quite glad you could come to this mountain pass, as arranged.
: Indeed. Now, you wish to discuss the ongoing war with Magnus, correct?
: ...That won't be necessary anymore. I've already made arrangements.
: What? Arrangements?
I think I'm starting to like Lanmark.
: Boulders from the mountains are falling down into the valley! It's a trap set up by Magnus! They posed as rebels and are using magic to create tremors! At this rate we'll be crushed before we escape!
Yes, thank you, Corporal Exposition.
: Dammit! Can no one be trusted?! Most of our soldiers here aren't mounted... we won't make it! If only our Wyvern riders were here... But it looks like I'm alone... Lanmark, you bastard! Damn you, Lanmark!
Oh, Leopold, you've made this the funniest tragedy!
Wait a minute...Zane wasn't there. How could he even flashback? And how did Leopold suddenly realize that it was Lanmark instead of Siegfried?
: This is all Magnus's fault to begin with.
: South-east of here... beyond the forest... Is a pathway... and a fortress... No matter... what... you must... protect... the King...
Goodbye, General Zane. You were a hindrance and a bother.
: How many people have I met that have succumb(sic) to this fate?
: It... had to be done.
: What?! What are you talking about?! This could have been completely avoided!
: It may have been tragic, and a misunderstanding... But ultimately, to defeat Magnus, there was no other way...
: Siegfried, what's wrong with you? Have you lost all reason? General Zane didn't want this. He had fought Magnus for so long... Only to be killed by the people that he had hoped would arrive to help him.
More to the point, it's not like anyone even suggested surrendering.
: Shon is crying, the soldiers are tired and collapsed, everyone's in a bad mood, and General Zane must be buried. Tomorrow, we have to find the King. If we don't... Zane's spirit may never be able to rest...
Yeah, I'd like to pretend this chapter never happened too.
Next Time: We relieve the stress of this chapter by killing a whole bunch of dudes.
Weapon Ranks: A in swords and axes, B in lances
HP: 38 (70%) Lck: 10 (20%)
Str: 18 (35%) Def: 15 (25%)
Skl: 12 (30%) Res: 10 (40%)
Spd: 20 (40%) Con: 11
All that time spent building up his redemption, and this is the result. Howard has great bases, but those growths are a tad on the middling side. Fortunately, our cavaliers are all shit, so he has a place in our army...at least until next chapter.
Weapon Ranks: C in dark magic
HP: 26 (75%) Lck: 12 (30%)
Mag: 14 (70%) Def: 8 (25%)
Skl: 13 (45%) Res: 10 (35%)
Spd: 10 (55%) Con: 7
That constitution and speed isn't doing our first dark magician any favors. Until he gets some more speed, Yue is destined to be the scratching post of basically everyone he comes across. That and he only has seven levels before promotion, so he has very little opportunity to improve his position. I might have to wait and see with this one.
Weapon Ranks: C in axes
HP: 28 (85%) Lck: 12 (50%)
Str: 14 (60%) Def: 7 (30%)
Skl: 10 (50%) Res: 4 (20%)
Spd: 10 (45%) Con: 10
Let's start with the positives. Sai's growths are perfect for a Fighter, with a fantastic offensive spread and a high chance of being able to avoid crits. He starts at Level 8, so he'll have plenty of chances to succeed. But then you look at the constitution, and you realize that he's going to be weighed down by anything heftier than an Iron Axe. Then we have some problems. COnsidering that, if he does manage to reach promotion, he might be a really awesome archer, because he'd be able to use everything without penalty.