Part 34: UPDATE 29: The MercenariesOkay, so we've already gone through both Vert and Capitrium. We laughed, we cried, we killed zombies, a good time was had by all. BUT WHAT IF WE'D TAKEN THAT MYSTERIOUS THIRD CHOICE? Come with me on this fantastical journey through the might-have-been!!! Welcome, dear viewers, to the TREMOS MOUNTAINS.
This mission is widely reputed to be one of the hardest in the game, due to all your enemies being overleveled for the time period when you're fighting them and being thrown at you all at once. I'm currently UNDERleveled due to not having sent anyone in for training since like the middle of last chapter, and I've never played it before. This is gonna be AWESOME!
Update 29: The Mercenaries
Man, way to spoil yourself, Scene 22.
: "... the Eastern Orthodox Church, but..."
"We succeeded! No hostiles whatsoever in this area." Then you go back to the World Map and pick Celesis and it's time to
Dammit! Nothing is ever easy!
: "We tried outsmarting them, but they knew what we were thinking... We did get that information too easily to begin with..."
Yeah, this is the game basically punishing you for thinking you're too smart for it. If you manage to convince yourself that it's possible to actually clear a map without fighting anything, your reward is a bullshit punishment mission. I can't wait!
: "Talking about the past won't do us any good. ...So, what's our status?"
: "You are right. ...Take a look at this. Let's get started..."
: "We must liberate the fort."
Well of COURSE, what kind of punishment mission would it be without an HQ attack?
: "The mountains surrounding us will make it difficult to flank them. We must take out their units individually."
As opposed to...?
wait I forgot, the game always assumes you love using Legions and never ever send out one unit at a time anymore
: "Those so-called mercenaries are more like bandits, but they're familiar with the area. Be cautious."
Alright Tremos, gimme all you got.
Sure enough, the mission starts right off with a full-sized Legion marching on you from the north. I don't like the look of that number 2 above them, either...
Meh. Standard at this point. I'm not sure if we've seen a Centurion with the balls to use their Soldiers as meatshields in quite some time, but that's totally what I'd do. They're just so expendable!
As you can see, there's not much particularly interesting about the rest of the units in this Legion other than their levels. For reference, my active-duty characters range in level from 18 to 20. All these guys are level 24 at least. Carmine's actually level 25. This should be TONS of fun.
Before you get carried away with sending all your units off to fight Legion 2, keep in mind that there's also a Legion 1 and they're only a little bit further away. Time to feel the squeeze! With one huge formation coming at you from each direction and very little space or time for maneuvering, you'll be struggling to distribute combat across your forces so no individual unit gets overwhelmed. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for all those levels. My god, the LEVELS...
Okay, not looking forward to fighting that Bahamut, but all things considered, this isn't TOO bad.
Yeesh. Okay, this might be trouble. I guess Pumpkinheads don't really derive too much benefit from overleveling, but they're still no picnic. The thing about Witches is that they have surprisingly good Evasion, and with her crazy levels I just KNOW getting Catherine here to stand still long enough to sword her is gonna be a bitch.
Okay, round 1 is Meredia vs Marlow. Predicatably there was a lot of Guarding happening, but I eventually managed to whittle him down. It helps that you can't fully block magic; it would have been EVEN BETTER if I could get Meredia and Rose to work together for once, but in this timeline I think this might be their first time working together so so much for that.
Huh. Really? Well, it's for the best; this way they'll get away from the rest of that Legion and Marty ain't looking so hot.
Goddamn. Look what Muza did to Ankiseth of all people. Just wow. I have no excuse for this. Git outta there, Anky.
THAT went slightly better. Only slightly, though. Look at Asnabel's HP. He's hanging on by a thread.
Okay y'know what, let's try using Priest units. Maybe that'll be easier. Jeez, look how much damage this crit did. Robert has been known to deal that much damage on normal attacks in better circumstances. I don't even know HOW I killed this guy.
GAH HOW DID I LOSE THIS GODDAMMIT
I don't know if I should be killing you just yet but your friggin' SOLDIERS managed to crit me so fuck you!
This one was comparatively easy. A nice little breather.
THIS IS THE WORST THING. Time for a desperation pedra. I guess if I had to pick three targets for it to hit, those would be the three, but I still would RATHER it focused on the unit leader.
Whatever, I'll kill him the old-fashioned way if I have to.
THIS WAS SO SATISFYING. For every time I killed a unit leader this whole time, there was at least one other instance where I lost a battle with no casualties on either side. These guys are TOUGH. Getting to wipe out this entire unit very nearly all at once felt pretty nice.
I got an Ice Shield. It's the water-element buckler. Hooray. Jesus, look at that mess.
For whatever reason, Catherine was trying to get away when I fought her. You will not find me complaining -- that's four fewer Diana attacks I have to deal with.
Yeah, as predicted, there was a whole lot of THIS happening. I think I may have scared my neighbors screaming at my monitor.
Luckily Dio's strength is in the pure number of attacks he gets -- everyone in this unit except for Dio himself gets to attack three times. At a lower level a Witch alone in the center column would have gone down before she could even paralyze anyone. As it was it took until the third turn. Also, look how much they managed to do to Ferdinando on the right there, even with their formation reversed. This was HARD is what I'm trying to say.
And finally it's time to deal the death blow to Legion 2. Pumpkinheads take no notice of levels.
Are they gone? I think they're gone. Fuck. It took almost all of my units taking heavy damage, one Pedra, and a whole lot of cursing, but I survived the attack. Look at this MESS.
There is one enemy unit left with a leader--the one with the Bahamut, it turns out -- but he appears to have had his fill of war and he's getting the fuck out of here. I guess whatever he's getting paid for this, it's not enough. Yeah, by the time I noticed he still had a leader, he was far enough away that I couldn't catch him, and none of the units in the legion-1 theater were in any shape to take on that dragon anyway.
ANYWAY. Now that we're no longer besieged on all sides by the multitudes of Lodis' gargantuan mercenary army, it's time for some shopping!
shut up, Ankiseth
I actually did not have any idea that the store in this mission sold Rings of Eloquence, and they're cheap too! I went a little nuts buying them.
Time to start cleaning up these dregs.
Heaven's Doll is Virtue-element. That sure doesn't make it any less creepy than the other dolls.
Meh. This shield is roughly equivalent to a Baldr Shield, just with an added elemental flavoring. I guess if you had a Water-element Paladin with a Kite or Baldr Shield, giving him this instead would make him less vulnerable to Fire. I'm still not impressed. More Bloodstained Robes are always welcome, though.
Awww yeah, now we're talking. The Dainslaif looks kinda dorky, but it's a pretty good Bane-element sword. Not as good as the Evil Blade by any stretch of the imagination, but better than anything we've got in THIS continuity.
Before I start thinking about dealing with the leaderless units loitering around this Stronghold I have to take care of the guy guarding it. We've seen Valleth's formation before, but this incarnation of it is undoubtedly going to be tougher (due to LEVELS).
Yeah, that initial swarm attack was definitely the hardest part of the mission. Taken one at a time, these guys aren't so bad. I can usually still win, they just deal actual damage to me first.
So yeah, when you get to the stronghold of Corpino, you're gonna want to take a little peek inside and have a chat with some douchebag.
: "He wielded powerful magic power, and turned his friend to stone. Could he be a denizen of the netherworld? Maybe it was him who killed my cows."
cool story bro
Powerful power, eh? Sounds like just the kind of guy I could use!
Whoa, a Love & Peace! Damn I need to come here more often.
Meanwhile, the nearest Stronghold in the northeast is guarded by Brakke. Rather than being an unstoppable engine of death, this unit is more of an EXP farm. High-level Ninjas and Fencers won't be TOO hard to kill, but hell if they don't give you tons of expees.
This arrow was SUPPOSED to kill Brakke, but instead I'm stuck with this stupid screenshot of him being awesome and swatting it out of the air with his claymore. <>
Friggin' sword masters.
After chasing the leaderless Muza all the friggin' way up here next to this curiously unprotected Stronghold, Sheen found a Penitence. I am quite impressed. I didn't know you could find any of these this early. It's Virtue-element and even better than the Dainslaif (still not quite as good as the Evil Blade, though, due to being roughly equivalent on attack but without the sleepy-time powers).
And yeah, as long as he was in the area, he figured he might as well let himself in.
Somehow Katsu here got stuck with the job of guarding this bridge. I guess the alternative is guarding that stronghold off to the west, which I could very easily just not go to, and this is strictly better than that.
I mean, I still killed him and took the stronghold, but this way Katreda had to hike for like a day in between those things.
This map has multiple unguarded strongholds, mostly because all the units the AI allowed itself got used up in that huge initial attack. Note that that attack had two legions of five units each, and the player is never allowed more than ten units in a mission. Yeah, the AI is cheating, but it's pretty mild cheating.
If you are here in Tremos Mountains, you want to make ABSOLUTELY SURE you climb this sheer mountain face to this inexplicably-placed town on this weird-looking plateau thing. There are two important reasons for this. First, let me take care of this sword master.
Goddamn this felt SO EASY. Everything's gonna feel so easy after this mission's beginning.
Now: A scene. Remember the "devil child" that douchebag was talking about earlier? I THINK THAT WE HAVE FOUND HIM.
(No, this scene will not trigger if you don't just happen to Enter Stronghold back at Corpino. It's a dick move.)
Okay I'm not entirely sure how you managed to petrify this guy as an Enchanter, but with a name like THAT it might have been for the best.
Along comes Dio to ruin the moment.
: "...Revolutionary Army? What are you doing here? ...Go away!"
: "...Are you the devil's child?"
This kind of makes sense in context, but seriously, try making that your default way of greeting a stranger and see how it turns out for you.
: "What did the townspeople tell you? Are you here to mock the guy who turned his friend to stone?"
Yup. I fought through waves of absurdly high-level mercenaries at great risk to life and limb and then climbed up this steep-ass mountain so I could come to your town and make fun of you. You guessed it.
: "Are you telling me the truth? Or... could it be that the denizens of the netherworld came here?"
Y'know, I sent Dio in for this scene sort of thoughtlessly, because his alignment was right for the stronghold, but these generic lines seems really out of character for him. If they wrote per-character lines for this scene, Dio's would involve telling this guy to shut up, stop whining, and go buy a goddamn Revive Stone, they're cheap.
: "Came? ...No!! I called them here. The conceited fool that doted too much on his talent... his gift of magical ability... It was I who summoned the denizens of the netherworld!"
you'd think he'd have a more useful class than Enchanter then
: "You summoned it? ...You've given in to the darkness!?"
: "Perhaps. ...That's fine with me. I don't care anymore... It's still my fault, regardless."
: "Are you sure... it wasn't the denizens......?"
: "Leave me alone... It was my fault! I, I killed Theokia... ...Go away. ...I said, go away! Don't bother me, ever again!!"
Man, the NERVE of some people asking you QUESTIONS while you're TRYING to stare at a statue in a swamp for the rest of your life! it's what Theokia would have wanted me to do
In a reversal of the usual standard procedure for character recruitment, here you want to use option number 2. Obviously you have to keep bugging him. That's the way to win him over.
: "Is that what you really want? To keep blaming yourself for your mistakes...? Are you satisfied with that? Are you willing to accept defeat? If you think your self-pity will bring your friend back... you're wrong! Do not let his death be for nothing! ...You must continue to fight!"
Still so out of character. You'd expect him to say "fine, whatever, loser", push him in the swamp, and leave.
: "...That's it! Go ahead and do what you want!"
Well, with the introduction of Paul, we now have TWO characters that would never exist outside of a JRPG, right on time since Yumil is becoming actually interesting of late.
Anyway, while you're up here you want to make ABSOLUTELY SURE you get this Ring. It's by far the best spellcaster ring. The Ring of Eloquence is awesome, but this ring is both awesome AND important. More on that later.
Oh, also Dio killed this guy and found this axe. It's okay. Better than the Flame Flail, but not by much.
Our boss for tonight is Kag...ei...ye. No idea how to pronounce that. He'll probably be a pain, even if he's not the FIRST level-25 sword master we've seen on this map. Let's go find out.
: "What binds you? ...Who do you rely upon? How sad it is to lose your individuality."
"man you guys are fighting for IDEALS, what sellouts"
: "And what do you do? You sell yourself for money!"
: "For money? ...You're wrong... We know the value of the service we provide. Unlike some, we can take care of ourselves. ...I'll show you how different we are!"
"okay yeah i guess it is for money but still you're a jerk"
Kageiye is pretty fast, and so is his whole unit. This is the state they had my front lines in before I could even get an attack in on him.
He then proceeded to successfully guard my ENTIRE FRONT ROW. Fucking Sword Masters!
He's alone in the center column, but it still took every single attack Leia's unit had to get through to him. Vad's the only one with a third attack, and it took all three of them to kill Kageiye.
Our reward for killing Kageiye is this awesome greatsword which he is blatantly going to be still holding in the following cutscene.
There is a simple poetry to his words.
: "Phew... I guess you're not as big of a wuss as I thought... Hey, you wanna hire us? I know you can put our skills to good use!"
eh, sure, why not
: "What, cheap!? Um... How much?"
: "You know what? Don't worry about it!! I'll send you one of our best. ...His class...? ...Well, he's a Soldier......"
Oh yeah, I think I already recruited him and his seven identical brothers at the same time as I took your sword.
NOTE: Ingame, there were actually 27 periods in Freddie's meaningful pause here. I didn't feel like putting that much strain on my keyboard.
: "Huh? What's wrong?"
An unidentified voice from offscreen! Is it Baldwin??? I BET IT'S BALDWIN
oh, it's the angsty bishie. hooray, i guess
He smacks Kageiye the hell out of the way as he approaches. Yeah, I guess he's okay.
: "My name's Paul Lukische. Now that I've joined you, I expect nothing less than victory."
We don't get the option to turn down Paul's help here, because whether we knew it or not we accepted him back when Dio was kind of failing to talk sense into him earlier.
Well, now that we're done with the Tremos Mountains, we have access to... the Tremos Mountains?!? Yep, there's another mission here before we get to Celesis, but it's not unique to this particular branching path because had we gone to Vert or Capitrium we'd do this mission later, AFTER Celesis. In other words it's time to make this decision now.
The Vert path brought us, in sum total:
-Europea, a pretty awesome unique Centurion, and her Unit which can be forged into an anti-Undead specialist unit but is otherwise kind of unremarkable
-The Sword of Dragon Gem, our new best rapier
-All the Main Gauches and Whips of Exorcism we could ever want
-Osric's Spear, which sucks
-Euros, our new best one-handed axe
-A Blood Whip, our new best whip (unfortunately we have no one to wield it)
-The Evil Blade, which is a really awesome sword that puts stuff to sleep when you use it
-The Fire- and Earth-element bucklers
The Tremos path brought us:
-Paul, a fairly awesome Enchanter who will free up Guy for use as a Beast Master so I can finally use those Beasts I have
-A Ring of the Dead, which in summary without getting too spoilery will turn one of our existing spellcasters into an engine of destruction
-A Love & Peace, making 2 total
-A Heaven's Doll, which is a decent Virtue-element doll which I probably won't use since I already have the Gallant Doll
-Dainslaif, a Bane-element sword better than anything else we currently have
-Penitence, a Virtue-element sword which is even better than the Dainslaif
-a Frozen Axe, which is a little bit better than the Flame Flail
-Kageiye's sword Yu-giri, which is a Water-element greatsword better than the Glaive of Champion by leaps and bounds
-All the Rings of Eloquence we could ever want
-The water-element buckler
-the Crystal Guard, which is kind of like a Baldr Shield but watery
Yeah I'm kind of leaning toward using the Tremos path here based on the pure number of goodies, but Europea is awesome and I will always have a difficult time turning down the Evil Blade. This is a choice with no clear "best" outcome. Let's say for now that I'm tentatively going with Tremos (in no small part because myself I haven't done it that way before) but I am open to arguments to the contrary. Next time: Either more Tremos, or Celesis!