The Let's Play Archive

Rondo of Swords

by Einander

Part 24: Winter Storm

Chapter 17: Winter Storm
(Or, "Sedna Prison Showcase Stage, Part 2")

Snow begun to fall on the heads of both platoons, separated only by the tightly sealed castle gate.

The Bretwalde Army is almost here. If she joins them... Find that girl immediately, and bring her to me! And whatever you do, do NOT let Bretwalde into the cathedral!

Church Knight: Yes, Sir.

Odd Fruits are also an MC lowering consumable. They sell for money! (If Rukia doesn't screw me on selling again.) The Taboo Fruits from this stage's Quests do the same.

Now that Ansom has returned, let's take a look at him. Before and after:

His weapon has also gained a 5% chance to critical. More importantly:

Ansom now has Invoke Might.

Between that, the South Medal, and his six Card Quest ability, Ansom's Instant Kill Threshold is now about 90 points higher than it was two stages ago. He will now one-shot anything with a sum total of HP+defense less than about 430.

In terms of other skills... Cotton learned her final spell, Faerie Fire, when she passed level 21. Remember how I said it's Sedna Prison but better? It's harder to get it to the 7x7 Death Box (21 skill points instead of 13), but it's also more powerful. She learns Level 2 Faerie Fire, level 3 Flame Shard, and level 1 Storm Shard (eh, I had the extra point).

Igraine learns one more level of Sedna Prison, bringing it up to 7x7 range, and two levels of Invoke Mind. Remember, the bonus applies to both the user's magic and the power of all spells. Sedna Prison is probably going to one-shot anything she uses it on -- the price is that she can only cast it one time before needing to refill.

That's what Marie is for, though. It'll be fine.

Alhambra Card Quests: 6

If you're playing this yourself, note that chapter 17 is the last chapter for Errands for a fair stretch of the game. You won't get Errands back until chapter 22. No promotions, no shopping, no Quests. Watch out for that.

Just swap Kay out for Ansom and we're ready to go!

There's two versions of the dialogue. It begins with the same line:

Then, if you're crazy (by which I mean "you didn't bring Marie, the only healer you have"), you get this single line:

The enemy's movements seem peculiar...

If you did bring Marie, the conversation is much longer.

Bretwalde and Verona are fairly close (Verona worshipping the God of Light and Bretwalde being the country of the hero who vanquished the Darkness), so odds are that Marie knows the Pope, at least as formal acquaintances.

I haven't heard news of his capture... I'm sure he's all right. Regardless, it's another reason to liberate Seine as soon as we can.

Yes, elder brother.

Then there's the sound of a door opening.

What's the matter?

Just then... it felt as if someone was watching me...

I'm sorry. It's no doubt my imagination.

When is this ever actually true?

Let's go, elder brother.

This is a simple map, but it's pretty irritating to show you. There's not too many enemies, but the enemies that are present are spread out quite a bit.

So here. This is the map, courtesy of the Spriter's Resource section for RoS.

Let's call each of the horizontal streets, starting from the bottom, the first, second, and third streets.

This is the starting area and the first street. The Mages have White Dust.

This is the second street and its intersection.

Then the third street, its intersection, and the cathedral gate.

You know how it says "get Serdic to this place" for the objective? Again, as always, killing everyone also works. Again, as always, killing everyone is usually also faster.

Especially since Serdic has something to do on this stage. This area, just to the right of the starting area, only has its door open if Marie is present, and sending Serdic to that door triggers an event. It's two turns deep in snow. Serdic is going to spend three turns walking there and two just getting out. If Serdic can get to the front gate faster than you can rout the enemy, even after a five-turn detour, you're doing something very, very wrong.

I don't really mind, though. I'm trying to keep Serdic out of the action anyway. The fewer levels he gets before promotion the better -- having more skill points for his better skills is nice, but Serdic's stat growth improves significantly after promotion.

Aside from the Mages, the Archers (Vital Strike), Swordsmen (Sprint 1) and the Armors at the cathedral gate are the only enemies in the stage with any skills. The two front sword Armors have ZOC and Stand Fast, the two back hammer Armors have Invoke Might. They're pretty much just there to slow you down if you decide to go for the stated victory condition instead of murder.

There's only one starting conversation here.

Alhambra and Selmer

What's wrong?

I'm cold! What's with this snow!?

The snow is a reflection of its parent element, Ice. It's particularly evident in Verona, where the power of Ice makes the winter season harsher.

That's not what I'm asking!

I'm only kidding. If you're cold, why not ask Master Arios? He's very good with the Fire element.

Something tells me if I asked him, I'd end up burned to a crip...

Igraine and Cotton are at the very edge of the Attacker attack range here. Conveniently, the starting positions for Igraine and Marie are just right to have them meet up like this. Cotton could move further, but she's tough for a mage, not actually tough.

Margus charges forward all six squares, Ansom shoots the only attacker he can reach (front-left), Serdic goes off to visit the house.

Oh, Sedna Prison. You can get by pretty well even without a chokepoint, it's just harder to tag massive swaths of enemies. Igraine can one-shot everything short of the Armors with Sedna Prison right now.

Naturally, Marie restores her MP so she can do it again.

Margus runs off north to attack the single Attacker who will survive and to distract him so my mages can move further up.

It'll simplify things if Ansom just goes and murders everyone on the lower-right. Serdic's going to be going out that way, after all.

Serdic starts slogging through the snow.

185 damage. I feel the need to remind you that this is just a little more than a third of Margus's health. The boy eats his Wheaties.

No other enemies move, which is simultaneously convenient and kind of annoying. Oh well.

Serdic goes to the doorway at the start of the next turn.

Who are you!?

I don't know about you, but I liked her the moment I saw that expression. It's hilarious.

(That's one suspicious nun...)

Yes... yes!

What's wrong, Marie?

Nothing whatsoever, elder brother.

What was settled?

My name is Aegil. It's very nice to meet you.

Aegil... It feels like I've heard that name somewhere else before...

If you speak to Aegil in this stage, she comes with the equipped items, accessory, and spell (it's level 2); if you wait for her to auto-join at the end of the stage, she comes with none of that. None of it's a major thing, but it's nice.

as leader.

In case you didn't figure it out.

Yes, yes, 14 year old Pope is dumb, ANIME etc etc, but Aegil is actually pretty awesome so I don't really mind. Just roll your eyes and move on.

By the way: that last dialogue suggests that Serdic has heard of the current Pope (but completely neglected to brush up on who said Pope was right before rushing in to save her) but the translators used male pronouns anyway. Consistency, guys!

Recruiting Aegil here unlocks two conversations.

Aegil and Alhmabra

Huh? Quit talking about my body... Hey! What are you doing!?

Buzz off! Ohhh, it's so cooold...

And, of course:

Aegil and Margus

And who might you be? Your face is most disagreeable.

I-I've been rejected before, but never like that..!

My apologies; it was poor form to say to a new acquaintance. Allow me to try once more...

That's no better!

How tedious... I have things to attend to. Now run back to your master. Shoo, shoo!

Oh, man... How'd she humiliate me that bad...?

Ansom kills the right-side Mage. Aegil follows conventional ally AI and will charge straight into battle, level and healer status be damned, so it's kind of a priority. As always, no penalty for getting her killed, but it won't hurt to keep her alive and let her get some experience.

Margus kills the Attacker, mages move up. Marie's 4 movement can be a problem with Igraine -- if Igraine's definitely going to cast the turn after, slow her down to keep her adjacent to Marie. If not, starting side-by-side lets Igraine move so she's in front of Marie instead on the second turn.

(Assuming you're moving full-pace. The party's about to slow down to ensure the cavalry can't kill them.

Enemies don't move at end of turn.

Moving Cotton here is a calculated risk. The party is just far enough inside enemy range that the four front-most Cavaliers can hit both Margus and Cotton, but not far enough forward that they can hit Cotton and then hit Margus's back or side. I'm luring them in like this in hopes that I can bounce them off ZOC to keep more of them in the Sedna Prison killzone, making the next turn much safer.

Ansom kills the last lower-right enemy. Serdic moves towards the streets so he can catch up.

Aegil's abnormally high move speed is a mixed blessing here -- it means that she'll catch up to the group and start healing sooner, but it also means that she'll be charging into danger sooner. She'll move left if you kill the enemies in the street above, but if you don't, she'll move right towards them. She's fearless for someone with no physical attack and no attack spell.

The aggressive AI of Rondo of Swords does make for faster maps, but it also means that sometimes they're really, really dumb.

The lower right enemies started advancing, so Ansom goes to kill them as well. This position keeps him ready to move if there's a danger to the northern team, but I don't expect he'll be needed.

I could heal Margus, but Aegil is a healer and I'd like to get her some experience. He'll be fine. Marie restores Igraine's MP again instead. She'd almost completely regenerated her MP from last time -- she was up to 272 MP.

If one of the Scouts charges out, she'll use Fire Dragon. If both do, she'll use Faerie Fire. If neither do, she'll move a position in the Snow and THEN use Faerie Fire. It's only level 2, but that's about Sedna Prison 3.5 in terms of attack power, plus she has Flame Shard. She'll definitely kill.

Margus moves up a little more. I don't want to advance to much before my artillery moves up.

Aegil is really, really fast by mage standards.

No enemies move.

Cotton's going to take one hit, but that's fine -- she needs to use her OB anyway, and I don't think it'll do more than half health.

Moving up, Ansom kills the Mage, barely any enemies move, and then...

...wait, what?

Seriously, I'm really confused. That snow has two movement cost. Enemies can't ignore terrain effects any more than you can, and they only have six move.

(Faerie Fire is probably the seocond-lamest spell in the game, visually speaking. It's not much better than Fire Raid's "fireball hits them, explodes" animation.)

Faerie Fire kills them anyway. I'll just have Aegil heal her next turn; (35 + 50)% healing brings her very nearly up to full.

The stage won't end until Serdic reaches the gate or we kill everyone. May as well get on the latter part.

Only the Scout that can reach Margus attacks him.

Margus misses, so I use Sedna Prison, just to be sure. Then Ansom kills the remaining Scout.

Serdic moves up to lure one of the Attackers, Cotton moves into position to blow up the other.

Accept the blessings of God!

She is so angry about healing, guys. SO ANGRY.

(This casting animation works much better when she's nuking people. It also makes the spell quote a lot more amusing.)

Serdic takes a minor scratch from the Attacker. On his turn, he weakens him

and Margus cleans up.

(I feel kind of bad for all the time I've sent Margus out to stand there while guys punched him in the face. He may as well get to return the favor once in a while.)

Cotton uses her OB, since she's at three meter and you can't have more than that. Mages move up.

Ansom kills one of the remaining Attackers. Aegil heals Margus. Margus takes another scratch.

Okay, I checked ranges this time, and she is DEFINITELY safe.

Ansom moves up, getting ready to kill the enemies on the left side of the third street...

...and triggering these reinforcements. There's a threshold on the map, and crossing it triggers this event.

Reinforcements!? We must hurry and gain access to the cathedral...

No, not really. Four Jousters and two Troopers aren't very impressive to begin with, and the lack of skills doesn't help.

Serdic goes to weaken the Attacker (while carefully staying in range of Aegil's Cure Drop), and then Igraine takes the kill with Abyss Gate.

Margus moves down to prepare for the cavaliers.

The plan is to have Cotton move up and start murdering the Armors while Ansom handles the mages. Igraine, Margus, and Marie will stay down to deal with the cavaliers. Aegil will probably not get into appropriate formation, so I expect she'll die.

Hey, at least she hit level 11. The plan is to have her at level 15 by the end of the next two stages, and I think that's going to be fairly easy to accomplish. There's a level up ahead where I want two healers, and Aegil is my preferred alternative.

I can only hope that Cotton's slight scratch convinces Aegil to run upward. It'd be nice to have her survive the map.

Ansom does his thing. From here on out, assume he's just off murdering someone and you'll be correct.

Answer: No, not really. She runs up to Margus and initiates that particular conversation.

I love Sedna Prison.

If Aegil moves, then the right Trooper can kill Marie. If Aegil does not move, then she's safe. There's a risk that three attacks would kill Serdic.

I know that the two Troopers definitely can't kill Serdic, and Cotton's scratch should convince Aegil to heal her. Win-win!


But it works out! Somehow.

Cotton vaporizes the left Trooper.

Sadly, Serdic + Abyss Gate isn't quite enough to take down the enemy. I consider using Cure Drop, but the enemy did 110 -- short of a critical, Serdic won't be killed next round, and more injuries mean more experience for Aegil. Margus's placement here should keep him from attacking Marie or Igraine.

Marie uses Martyr instead, since Igraine's out of MP again.

And... The enemy declines to attack an additional target in favor of attacking Serdic and then retreating to a place that isn't actually safe.

Yeah, I've pretty much given up on understanding the AI.

Margus kills him. Cotton and Igraine start killing the gate Armors; two Abyss Gates or one Fire Dragon will do the job. Aegil heals Serdic twice, then Margus uses a level 1 OB and she heals him instead. She hits level 12 and comes very close to level 13.

Ansom can even murder Armors from full HP now. I wasn't kidding about the death cannon thing.

I delay murdering the last Armor a turn so Aegil can heal again. She uses her OB this time.

This is my Sunday best!

I'm kind of annoyed that they gave her a "firing the death cannon" OB animation and no death cannon to use with it. If Luminous Arc 2 taught me anything, it's that "healer heals to build meter, then uses that meter to overkill enemies" is an incredibly solid mechanic. Anyway, the OB heals off of the same percentages as Marie. I forget the exact AOE -- I'll check next map -- but I believe it's directional and localized; this use of it reached Serdic and Ansom and no one else.

It's strictly worse, yes, but Aegil has a much easier time building OB; the two are roughly equal as a result, depending on how much healing Aegil actually does.

Then Cotton blows up the Armor to reach level 25 and end the level.

The bonus experience reward really drops off between Overwhelming Victory and Victory. I think you can figure out what the Ice Medal does.

Thank you. Of course, I am not the only member of my army.

Indeed. I was able to commit to the attack thanks to their unwavering loyalty. It's because they stand with me through thick and thin that I can keep moving forward. And you are no different, Aegil. I'm counting on you.

You know someone's really important when they get THREE portraits. We've only seen Serdic and Marie clear that particular hurdle so far, and even Serdic's only at four total.

All right. The gate is open. Our next task is to deal with Uther, who's cloistered himself away in the cathedral.

Oh? I've heard that those in the cathedral still loyal to the Pope have been captured. I do hope they are all right...

You might remember that I said that a rout is generally faster than an objective clear. This is why:

Just like the gate at Fatima Fortress, you need to attack this one three times to open it. Unlike Fatima Fortress, this particular gate is two tiles wide. You can't open it in one turn without clever use of Holy Favor, and it's somewhat problematic to get three characters to the gate while the Armors are still alive.

If you clear the stage without recruiting Aegil:

Then she says her "simple nun" line and the recruitment conversation from earlier repeats (without Marie's contribution) until Serdic's final line, at which point Aegil says her "I'm surprised you committed to an attack" line and it rejoins the other stage ending.

Now that the stage is over, let's talk about Aegil.

God of Light.

Appropriately enough, Aegil and Igraine are a lot alike -- compared to their counterparts, they have rough starts but high potential to develop. Aegil has that problem twice over. Right now, Marie's utility is massively greater than Aegil's. Aegil is half her level, doesn't have MP regeneration, she can't learn Martyr or Manafont, her HP is lower, and unlike Marie, Aegil needs to promote. To promote TWICE, in fact -- Aegil starts out in her tier one class, can't learn Holy Favor until after she promotes to High Priest, and we don't even have the Vow Proof we need for that first promotion!

Note, however, that I never said Aegil was bad. Sure, her base stats are bad, but Aegil's Move is average (by normal standards, and "average" is extremely good for a mage), her growths are very good and she has a hidden +20% boost to her MP. When she learns Invoke Mana in her second class, her MP skyrockets. Her second class has high HP and Magic growths, an average defense growth, and the third-highest MP growth in the game. Her third class has more defense growth than promoted Serdic and the highest HP, MP, and Magic growths in the game. She's also first in the Seal priority order, meaning she'll reach that third promotion before anyone else, and she's one of only two characters to get the +experience skill Prowess. Most importantly, Aegil is actually one of only two characters to learn an ultimate spell before their third class -- she learns Oratoriorae (wow is that a pain to spell), a slightly weaker version of Yumil Magna. Marie learns it at level 45, but Aegil learns it at level 26. This is a defining aspect of her character, and it makes her a lot more fun to use.

While Marie should be using Holy Favor or Martyr any turn she doesn't need to heal, Aegil is best used like a mage who also happens to have Holy Favor and Cure Drop -- keep her up front and lined up with priority targets, then fire away the moment no one needs saving. They're very different characters, and I like Aegil more. Sure, Marie's better at support, but that's a contest you really can't win. Instead, Aegil is Laser Pope, and who doesn't love Laser Pope?

There's also a feature of her third class, skill-wise, that really needs to be seen to be believed. Spoil it and I will be extremely cross with you.

Resets so far: 8 (+0)

Next time:
Free Verona