Part 53: UPDATE 48: The Battle Rages On
Vad probably hates me right now. He showed up with these awesome gloves. Those are his claws. And now I'm trying to tell him to put them down for these fruity-looking numbers with flame decals pasted on. Sorry, bud. 2 extra STR is 2 extra STR.
Meanwhile I'm at the part of the game where awesome heavy armor is getting a bit more commonplace. Even Karkat gets some!
Dio isn't really gaining a LOT from being given the Rune Plate in place of the Breidablick, but giving him too much Water-element stuff when he's not Water-element makes him weak to Ice spells (which I guess is kinda weird). I gave him my other Rune Plate and gave America his Breidablick.
We didn't really get too much loot from taking Winnea -- it's only one stronghold at the end of the day, after all -- so with that I'm about ready to get going on this whole loose-ends thing. Looks like we're about to start pushing back into that buffer zone we left between us and Lodis. Fine by me, I never liked leaving that there anyway.
Update 48: The Battle Rages On
We open, predictably, on our last remaining plot thread. Zeda is dragging Mari through a swamp.
Mari still isn't in particularly great shape. She's been through a lot. I mean, she just stabbed her boyfriend to death because he wanted to hang out with the guys; I'd have a little trouble being that much of a stereotype too.
: "She's useless like this. ...I have no choice. Whether she likes it or not, I must..."
A Voice: "What are you doing... Zeda? A seal made by a god cannot be broken by the denizens of the netherworld, isn't that so?"
Oh, I was wondering where these guys had gotten off to. There's your answer: A swamp. They went to a swamp.
: "R, Richard... How about a deal? You wish to contact... to receive blessings from a god, right? I will help you as much as I can, so help me break the seal at the ruins."
: "We both seem to know each other's interests, but... What makes me think that you won't betray me again?"
To recap these two characters' offscreen exploits:
: "Man, subjugating all these sovereign nations is HARD WORK, sometimes their kings don't even immediately cower before my visage! If only I just had MORE POWER somehow. But where will I ever find it???"
: "Hi, I'm a mysterious old woman with no ulterior motives whatsoever! Find the Temple of Berthe and it'll open a portal to the netherworld. You'll be able to just march on in and take the Ultimate Power then, because you see, demons are all gigantic pussies. Makes sense, right? You'll need Prince Yumil there, though. No particular reason."
: "Oh yeah, nothing suspicious about that at all! Pruffie, go do that thing."
: "I don't really know how, but okay, if you say so!"
That about catches us up to where we were about a chapter ago.
Anyway, back to our current conversation:
: "I had no choice. Since the chaos gate was destroyed, there was no other way to resurrect Lady Danika but to use them......"
Thamuz doesn't like that explanation, and neither does Richard.
: "I don't want to hear excuses! What we want is the blessing from the gods... the ultimate power. I will help you, only if you help us."
: "I... I understand."
: "Didn't we tell you from the very beginning? You must obey us..."
yeah good luck with THAT buddy
: "They must be heading to... the ruins at the foot of Mount Keryoleth to the west."
: "The ruins in the mountains to the west... Is Danika there? Wait! Is it just like the Temple of Berthe...?"
: "It may be... Anyway, we must defeat those who stand in our way. ...Take a look at this. Let's get started..."
: "We must capture the station."
GodDAMN that's a huge map!
: "As you can see, this region is divided by two rivers."
: "How should we allocate our men? That's difficult to say."
Hugo the Tactician, ladies and gentlemen.
Y'know, just once I'd like to hear Hugo say "this battle will be a piece of cake, you got this brah"
It'll probably never happen at this point, though. Game's almost done.
As you can see, even with Sheen dispatched and facing directly outward at the rest of the map I can't immediately see anyone coming. I took this as my cue to get on the offensive.
It wasn't until my forces were split that I started seeing some enemy scouts showing up. Army Group North was made up of more units, but none of them were heavy hitters (Troi, Asnabel, and Ankiseth were all dispatched but were headed west instead).
Specifically we're looking at Lloyd and Tina here. I really would be able to take these AI units MUCH more seriously if they went by their last names.
Lloyd went down easy enough, but Jihad is still getting me annoyingly little against corner Ogres.
I'm not entirely sure how Sheen ended up taking care of Tina too. I'm just gonna go ahead and blame him. Glory hog.
Army Group West, meanwhile, must face Fiddach and his intimidating lack of meatshields. Here's a job for Dio.
In the North, a new challenger approaches. Ninjas? Really? In late Chapter 4??? I mean the Goblins are hamstringing you enough already, but I can forgive it for thematic concerns. There's just no excuse for Ninjas!
Pictured: A Ninja's effect on a Golem; a Golem's effect on a Sword Master. Alright, finish him up, Europea.
Golems, even Baldr Golems, don't really scale to endgame levels properly. The game balance gods were not kind.
My beatstick units in the West have been going neglected up until this point, when they meet Legion 1. Y'know, the existence of Legions really does make a lot more sense for the AI than it does for the player. It's a way for the system to throw a bunch of units at you all at once without having their sprites overlap or seeming to trickle like single units do. They're just useless for the player.
I think Clyde might officially be the worst demon name ever. Well, when Otto the Knight Templar is the most intimidating character in your Legion you know something's seriously wrong.
For finishing Clyde off, Asnabel received my second copy of the Celestial Mace. I think Katreda's getting this.
122 damage. It's not even a crit. Asnabel is a friggin' beast.
This wasn't even a contest. I had numerical superiority, and my units themselves are some of the best I've got. Let's see what the other group is up to.
Landeck is completely unguarded and is one of two towns on this map to boast a shop. I think now's about the right time to do something I should have done a long time ago.
Time to stock up on items. I've got plenty of money and nothing else to spend it on (unless I wanna blow everything on a second Annihilation, mehhhhh), I've got no excuse for not doing this anymore. Guy's unit, as the lucky ones to be doing the shopping, are the first ones to get a full complement (which is why I'm only buying 4 heal packs here instead of like 50). Everyone else will have to wait until this mission's over.
And not a moment too soon. Looks like they're coming. Two more mini-legions full of them. My army's split, too -- obviously what I should have done is sit on my HQ for like five days straight waiting for them to find me there. Oh well, alea jacta est.
See, Luke here knows how to run a Legion Core. Get a respectable front row, shove your Soldiers behind them. Just needs a little less symmetry.
Backing him up are Norris's Sleepytime Crew and Robbins's Lack-Of-Subtlety Club.
Coming at me from across the river is Sodina, who I think went a little overboard with the Soldiers considering the size of her legion.
I'm getting the idea that when these guys were asked for their final unit designs either Rivaldi or Deborah was cheating off the other one's paper and shuffled a couple of characters around one space to make it more believable.
Oh, and I sent Gilbert up to liberate this stronghold only to find that there's actually a FOURTH legion up there lying in wait for him, and he's got no backup.
The only thing really worrisome here is that Ogre -- Gilbert still doesn't have any items, and the Ogre won't have any choice but to wail on Fuzzums repeatedly. It might be a good idea to pull back and face all three Legions at once.
Or I could just make my stand here. Good luck, Gilly!
BATTLE 1: Soldiers don't Petrify very well, but Centurions get whipped to death pretty easily.
BATTLE 2: Mary Jane does her job. Increasingly glad I didn't switch her out for a Sphinx like I was tempted to.
BATTLE 3: Whoops.
Well, this isn't the worst thing in the world. Gilbert can't fight at reduced strength like this, but he managed to kill off the entire Legion first, and Beast characters have one advantage over humans in that there's no danger of them turning into Zombies. I'll just let her chill in the afterlife for a little while and call this area won. Two legions down. Time to deal with the rest of them.
Sheen actually managed to kill off Norris's ghosts with Virtue damage. I'll take that any day, even if Norris himself is still alive.
Yeah okay Sheen I think you've contributed enough for now, let's just leave some for everyone else.
Perhaps I'm misusing Europea by only pitting her against units with no Undead in them, but she's holding her own pretty well anyway.
Oh hey. You guys remember forever ago when I won that Dainslaif and I was really happy and then you made me unbeat that level and I lost the Dainslaif and also a Penitence and also a Ring of the Dead? WELL WHO'S LAUGHING NOW MOTHERFUCKERS
Sodina survived this battle thanks to a foolproof "army of tiny human shields" strategy.
The thing about that is that it doesn't work twice in a row.
Hector's also proving his worth in this huge clusterfuck of a mission. Y'know I just now noticed Ogres are all left-handed. Possibly Gorgons too. That's pretty cool!
Two more dead leaders and all four enemy Legions are dealt with! Let's Play Ogre Battle 64: Blundering Through Poor Tactical Decisions By Hitting People Really Hard Until They Fall Down!
Loot time! The Vajra is the best claw in the game, and Virtue-element too. As always, another fudge-on-a-stick is always appreciated.
And here we have the second-best and best staff in the game, respectively. I'm getting some pretty good loot in this level, especially considering that
Now that those four legions are dealt with, both army groups can move on, on either side of the river.
Army Group West was actually able to get all the way up to the enemy HQ before getting ambushed.
Things wrong with Samson's unit:
1) Enchanter is actually Doll Master
2) Baldr Golem is actually Golem
3) Leader manages to not use either huge meatshield
4) Hair appears to be recently cut
I can understand why neither of these guys made it into any of the four assault squads. Asnabel wiped them both out in one battle each.
Two final strongholds and I can finally wrap this party up.
Our boss for tonight is Thamuz, the mysterious mustachioed man apparently functioning as Baldwin and Richard's babysitter. It bears mentioning that Baldwin is the younger one and I'm pretty sure his listed age is 38. Yeah I guess by the mercy of that swamp cutscene the Caliginous Order guys are somehow relevant again???
Troi's as surprised as I am, apparently!
: "Why do you side with the netherworlders? What are you planning to do?"
: "...The Caliginous Order is decimated, thanks to you. The Brigade of Radiant Cross, ordained by the Pope, is useless now. We can't possibly return to Lodis like this."
Oh god, THIS again
: "We will reach the highest position among the imperial knights... No, we will dominate the world. Those who laughed at us... those who murdered my father during the uprising... Everyone will bow down before us!"
(no, this backstory never gets developed)
: "What awaits you then? Nothing can be accomplished by cultivating hatred. You are wrong! The ultimate power isn't meant for humans. I will stop your scheme... Your ambitions end here!"
Goddamn, Troi is really growing into his newfound crazy Dragoon strength and nobility! I mean, that whole "cultivating hatred" line was awkward as hell, but still.
: "Get back, Baldwin! Leave them to me. Head for the ruins!"
"but uncle thaaamuuuuuz i dont wanna go to the stupid ruins i wanna stab some revolutionaries! "
: "I told you, go! Why did we come all the way here!? You, and Richard, must resurrect Danika, to gain the ultimate power... the secret behind the divine power of the gods!"
plus the map said thamuz was the boss, not you, sorry dude
Baldwin is gone in the blink of an eye, a mere instant before I could hit the "capture screenshot" button. Still not quite sure why those three guys can teleport and nobody else, but the plot demands it!
: "I'm sorry to keep you waiting. Come! In the name of the Caliginous Order... I won't let you pass!"
AND IT'S ON
Thamuz is one slippery sonofabitch, but he can't dodge magic any more than anyone else can. FIGHT OVER.
Yeah, considering this guy was never developed in any way deeper than "the guy who follows Richard and Baldwin around and occasionally says paternal-sounding stuff" I'm not surprised that this was all he could come up with for last words.
The Peridot Sword is nothing even remotely special -- somewhere between Estoc and Main Gauche in power -- but considering how few elemental rapiers there are in this game at all (this thing and the Needle of Light, and we all know how huge a pain those are to get) you may be able to find some use for it. I certainly can't.
Before we get back to the world map, Hugo's got some more of that sage advice for us.
"...as their base."
: "To gain the ultimate power, they joined with the denizens of the netherworld. Their actions cannot be considered noble any longer. They're merely acting out of selfish desire."
As opposed to before, of course. Right.
: "But, why do they follow Lodis' orders?"
: "I have no idea. We do know that they aren't as unreasoning as we once believed, though."
Cue the NIER-style second playthrough where we see everything from the demons' perspective and learn what terrible monsters we've been being this whole time and hahaha no that never happens.
: "I guess they share common interests, then. I can't believe the Caliginous Order would go that far to gain the ultimate power..."
: "It would be nice if we could go directly to the ruins, but if we do, our back will be exposed to Castle Talpaea."
"and that would be bad for some reason not established within the context of the game rules, I dunno"
: "...The assault on the castle should be our top priority. From what I've heard, a report on the ruins is stored in that castle. I wonder if that was why they chose Castle Talpaea..."
I GUESS WE'LL FIND OUT NEXT TIME. Man, Wentinus is seriously like right down the street from Latium. We should have gone into the Central Division this way. Next time: Another map revisit!