Part 22: UPDATE 17: ThoughtsUPDATE TIME
Organizational stuff first, as always. The Organize Screen has a useful function I may not have fully explained before. Or maybe I did I dunno.
At any rate, the List Class function shows all classes you have currently unlocked (meaning every class that at least one character has been capable of switching into right now or at some point in the past), and helps find every character that can switch into each individual class right now. It's also helpful for letting you know when you've finally unlocked a new class. Like Paladin.
Doreauxgard, as an original Unit Leader, has a bit of a jump on other generics in terms of stats. This is enough to allow me to turn him into a Paladin right now. Obviously I do.
Also if you'll recall last update I was able to purchase a bunch of Blessed Swords and Baldr Shields. I take the opportunity to start passing them out like cheap cigars. It's an embarrassing display.
Doreauxgard already gets a Blessed Sword as default Paladin equipment, but he can still benefit from a new shield.
Pictured: why I love Robes of the Wise so much.
They can even go on Wizards, and they're just as awesome there! Sorceresses can't wear them, though.
Rose, naturally, is the only spellcaster we have who is evil enough to wield the Book of Bane.
Oh, and also Liedel replaced Penthesilea in Dio's unit, and got to retain her awesome Earth-elemental Bow Of Sandstorm which is more or less the best we'll see for a while.
RIght, so, without further ado, time to finally get around to freeing some slaves!
Update 17: Thoughts
In which I become buried up to my goddamn neck in fucking puppet dong
man what a terrible mission name
Granted, the last mission did not actually involve any cities of the past, so that one was pretty bad too, but really? "Thoughts"? That could describe any goddamn mission in the whole goddamn game.
First thing we see is a scene of various slaves running out of a mine past the agent we sent... the messenger guy. Yeah I guess he's our elite covert ops specialist or something. Sure, why not? When his top secret mission is done, he comes back to Hugo and Freddie to report.
: "The detachment that was sent to Audvera succeeded in liberating the mining facility!"
In other words, yes, we have just successfully freed all the Grapplers' captive families without a fight. No, we don't get to contribute to or even see this happening, we just cut to after it's done.
: "Even with the Bolmaukans' help I didn't expect things to turn out this well."
: "That should allow us to avoid battle with Nirdamese troops... Hugo! What's the status of the Western Division?"
: "They took over Castle Ziggiveld a few hours ago. And they immediately engaged our reinforcements from the Southern Region. ...The number of casualties is unknown. They should be here soon. ...Let's go through this quickly, before they arrive. Let's get started..."
: "We have to take that castle."
The vertical orientation of this map makes it difficult to capture all of in one screenshot. Bleh. Anyway, if we had taken the EVIL PATH and attempted this mission straightup without the secret entrance, we'd be starting at Ziggiveld and fighting our way through waves and waves of Grapplers to the mines, rather than starting at the mines and fighting off a counterattack.
: "According to our scouts, their reinforcements are marching on our headquarters."
: I suggest that we attack swiftly, and liberate the strongholds in our path."
Seems like every briefing Hugo manages to tell me less and less.
: "Can you lead the Nirdamese to safety? The rest of us will stay and fight."
: "Leave them to me. ...Now, let's get moving."
Unfortunately the game does not give you the option to take on the civilian-guarding duty yourself and let Hugo fight off the Western Division. I'd have picked that every time.
Some new mission music for this scene. At some point in the past the missions had switched over to this track, but I've heard that one and the original one so many times over the years that I sort of mentally glossed right over it and forgot to link it. Sorry.
At this point those of you playing without any Gameshark assistance whatsoever may see fit to try to lower your Chaos Frame as quickly as possible, because it just stopped mattering in the short term (now that we have Liedel, who requires a good CF) and our next optional recruit will require a low CF. In this context, putting these two neutral strongholds right by our HQ is actually a courtesy on the part of the game.
Conversely, this kind of morale used to have me shaking my fist in anger, but since pretty much everyone I have is now Lawful, I can liberate Bezelle and get access to its shop pretty easily.
Getting ahead of myself just a bit, though. Like Hugo said, we are getting attacked, albeit slowly. The first sign we see of this is Dreyfus's unit. ...which looks like it's going to be a huge pain in the ass to fight.
Mental note: Witches HATE Jager. He got paralyzed, put to sleep, and poisoned twice over in this fight. Which is, strictly speaking, much better than the status effects getting spread out over everyone. Thanks for taking one for the team, Jager!
In his new superpowered form, Doreauxgard is not fucking around. After this MONSTER of a crit, he didn't even need to use his new third attack.
Next up on the aggro train is Kimble and his unit of... Grapplers??? I guess these are the minority of Bolmaukans who are taking Lodis's side or something. Well, at this point, if a Bolmaukan is still attacking me, he's an enemy. No more pulling punches.
Kimble's still my primary target, natrually.
For killing off the rest of Kimble's unit, Dio got a Scale Armor, which is better than the other light armors we have and required for a couple of advanced classes.
Next on the warpath is the mighty wizard Dave, in the well-known "mob of squishy meatshields" unit. He has not bothered to pack any stamina-restoring items on his Long March, so he's gonna try to make it to Bezelle to rest up. Better get to him before he can do that.
My reward for being proactive is getting a sweet back attack on him and killing him fast.
Right, so much for the attack. Now we can move on to taking Bezelle. It's guarded by this unit made up predominantly of... Grapplers. Really. Y'know, for a mission which theoretically is here to keep me from having to kill Bolmaukans, I sure am spending a lot of it fighting Bolmaukans.
Goddamn, Paladins rule.
No one in Dreyfus's unit was carrying a fancy rapier just like Godeslas's, and yet when Ivory finishes them off that is exactly what she finds. Not that I'm complaining.
On his way along the on-rails linear path of this mission, Freddie found a Magician's Robe on the ground. This robe isn't quite as good as a Robe of the Wise, but it's required for Archmages and one or two other advanced classes.
The next stronghold in our path is Naracrete, which is too low in Morale for me to liberate and is guarded by Alice the Priest and her squad of... Grapplers. Come ON, game.
Depending on who you ask, the Priest is possibly the most important unit in the game. They're upgraded Clerics; they heal more damage and they heal multiple characters in a small area. My opinion on them is mostly the same as my opinion on Clerics: build a couple of units around them to specialize in attrition, but bear in mind that every Priest in a unit is one less character to deal damage.
Alice's unit in particular is set up competently: a front row of high-damage-output, low-defense frontliners, with one more in the back whose attack is particularly devastating, and a powerful healer to fix them up just in case they don't give as good as they get. This is exactly the kind of unit that might take a few battles (and possibly more than one unit of our own) to take down.
All of this is stuff that I would probably say if she bothered to turn around when I attacked. Oh, Ogre Battle AI.
As it is, she's still a bit on the dangerous side since that row of frontliners is now a row of Fatal Dancers equipped with advanced Bane-element claws. Nothing Reynolds can't handle, though. It certainly didn't help that her big healing burst came before any of my characters had gotten the opportunity to attack (a big problem with healers in a speedy unit).
She still went down in one fight due to the destructive power of Freddie, Robert, and Zemeckis, combined with her own squishiness.
Some treasures I got around this time include a Bracer of Protection, the VIT-boosting disposable item, and the Fool, which proves once and for all that Doll Master weapons can and do get creepier than the default marionette.
The stronghold of Barrow, northeast of Troi in the Fool screenshot, is guarded by this unit which is pretty much the inverse of Dave's unit from earlier. It seems natural to belittle his piling of all those melee units in the back row, but keep in mind that given the behavior of this mission's enemies so far we're probably going to be fighting him from every direction EXCEPT the front. As proof, when Dio finally got up there, he was facing sideways. This put him alone in the center column, though, and he died suitably quickly.
Barrow was way too Chaotic for me to liberate, but I took it anyway to get access to its shop. Sure, I could have just left it and come back later, but I don't recall there being any particular reason to Investigate this area so I might as well just save time and buy up a bunch more Books of Bane right now.
Puld, in the northwest, is guarded by Charle and a kind of half-assed Pumpkinhead unit. I guess the game figured that if it's going to be Pumpkin Showering you it might as well go easy on you with its frontliners.
Moot point. Charle followed the trend and presented her unit's backside, which was an opportunity I dared not pass up. Liberating Puld gets me a scene.
Whoever this person is, they sure do look boring!
: "Excuse me, do you belong to the Generic Army? Hi. My name is Aisha. I came here to help rescue the Bolmaukans... But we were attacked and I was separated from the others."
Aisha, as you may or may not know, is one of the Zenobians and an import from MotBQ. She showed up briefly a while ago to untie Qad and then disappeared almost altogether until this particular scene. She is lost. Apparently this is enough reason for her to permanently join my battalion, no backsies.
Fine by me.
: "Thank you very much. I will do the best I can to help you."
Miss Personality here is not only pretty badass, but also a free Priest at a point when we don't have any others. That's awesome enough for me to forgive her for being boring as hell.
Might as well share this at some point: Turning evil is not enough to keep Rose from participating in some sweet combo magic. Bane+Fire gives us the Dark Blaze spell.
It's pretty awesome. It's like... an evil Bomberman bomb.
Oh, hey. Another Fool. Thanks, Asnabel. I can... put it next to the other one, and they can... hang out together and... DID IT JUST WINK AT ME I SWEAR TO GOD IT JUST WINKED AT ME
Let's just... forget about that and start thinking about wrapping this mission up. The HQ has a couple of advance guards besides the boss.
Valentine's unit is set up in such a way that if I'd seen it a few missions ago I'd assume the Paladin in the back was there to keep the Grapplers in line and make sure they're always fighting their very hardest, but in this case (a) he's in a position where his primary job is to heal people, and (b) he's not the unit leader, Valentine is. Valentine has advanced far enough in the Western Division that he has non-Bolmaukans working for him, which is further evidence for the "the Grapplers on this map are Lodis loyalists and that's why they're still fighting me" theory. Meanwhile Barkley is overly devoted to symmetry and it's to his own detriment.
Neither of them last very long anyway.
Their lame leaderless husks hover around the area boss just to annoy me. Through some attentive micromanagement I manage to get Troi to track them down without blundering straight (or sideways) into the enemy HQ, but it wasn't easy. I didn't get anything special for beating them, though, so let's just move on to the boss.
Hey, that's a pretty nice unit design! I use it myself! However, Tuzt has the same crippling weakness as everyone who works for him: He's facing the wrong goddamn way and doesn't bother to turn around. Which totally ruins the point of hiding behind Golems. Worth noting: the Golem on the left is a little discolored. That's because it's a Stone Golem.
This is what happens when a Golem gets petrified. Since units that cause the Petrification status are very rarely used by the AI, and it's not possible to do it yourself through friendly fire, it's much easier to just catch some in the wild as soon as you can. They're basically Golems but more so, with some more physical might thrown in there.
OH GOD HE'S GOT A FOOL TOO, THE THINGS ARE EVERYWHERE
In a somewhat refreshing turn of events, Tuzt doesn't try to inject yet more moral ambiguity into the story in his inevitable (and mercifully short) boss monologue. No, he's just plain straight-up racist.
: "Why does the Revolutionary Army fight for the Bolmaukans? They're... They're just slaves!"
That's all the preamble this fight gets. Tuzt is pretty forgettable anyway. He lasts less than a battle. His big impressive Stone Golem isn't worth a whole lot when he can't be bothered to turn its fat ass around.
Oh, and he gets a death scene for some reason.
: "... for such a petty... mat...t...er......"
Yeesh, will you just hurry up and die already? You're making my thread look bad!
Oh, then his corpse vanishes like dead bodies in this game always do, but the Fool sticks around. It's always there. Watching.
AAAAAH Dio! You picked it UP? And you brought it to ME? No, man, put it down! Leave it here! We are LEAVING. NOW.
At this point we apparently schlep all the way back to the mines to have another meeting with a Grappler. At least there's fresh air at this one.
: "I appreciate what you've done for us, but... I am worried. You took such a big risk for us... for foreigners who have no stake in your kingdom."
: "We rescued you to gain your support, to strengthen the Revolutionary Army and prepare for Lodis. That is... the official reason. But... that's not why I came here. The way the Bolmaukans were treated, just like us... We needed to... No, we wanted to do something. We wanted to avoid fighting the Nirdamese troops. We wanted to save those who were treated unfairly... Because our goal is to eliminate the class system, and declare independence from the Lodis Empire..."
Freddie's heart is in the right place, but I think as the consummate Rich Kid he might be speaking a little bit out of turn with that whole "just like us" line. When you think about it, Freddie IS a bit of a trustafarian. I mean, he certainly hates his dad enough.
: ".........Are you asking for our help?"
The Bolmaukan is not impressed. Yes, every single one of those dots was in the game dialogue.
: "...No, we'll go now. Please forgive us for leaving you here."
But Freddie has the social skills to be able to tell and he lets them go with no strings attached. We did a good thing, even if we DID end up killing a few more of these guys than we would have liked.
: "Forgive you...? You've already done more than enough. We can't keep relying on you. But... You haven't the slightest idea of what the Lodis Empire can do. We pray that Palatinus does not share our fate... Nirdam, our homeland."
YOU haven't the slightest idea of what I can do.
NEXT TIME ON OGRE BATTLE: With the Bolmaukan arc pretty much wrapped up, it's time to move things along and finally take on the Western Division.