The Let's Play Archive

Rondo of Swords

by Einander

Part 31: Three-Way Battle

Chapter 24: Three-Way Battle
(Or, "Serdic")

Show these jackals that I am the true king of Bretwalde!

(Scene transition.)
Hmph... fools. No king of Bretwalde can be confirmed without the Church's blessing. Serdic! That ridiculous man calling himself the Rightful Emperor... Go and put him in his place!
All troops! Charge the Tyrant Empire's Army!

Both the Prince's splinter force and Grand Meir have each labeled themselves an 'Empire.' I'd like to interpret this as Serdic not even acknowledging Serdic; when he says "Tyrant Empire," he means Grand Meir. Serdic is merely a distaction.

Sadly, this interpretation doesn't survive the end of level dialogue. It's just name-calling. Not even clever name-calling.

(Scene transition.)

I want to see their skills firsthand... how far have they come since that day?

Both of the Quests last time were continuous, and we don't need any more Card Quests; that means no one came back last time.

(In retrospect, I should have sent Igraine on a Card Quest, since she wasn't present anyway. I will eventually regret this.)

Serdic has eight skill points. He could buy Fearlessness 5, but going from level 4 to level 5 is nearly 2/3 of the points of going all the way to level 4 in a new skill, and Serdic has a lot of worthwhile skills. True, going from level 3 to level 4 is also barely less than buying level 3 in a new skill, but it's much more in the realm of reasonableness. Generally speaking, outside of spells, some rare skills or particularly sparse skill selections, level 5 in a skill is a waste; stop at level 3 or level 4.

I buy Serdic another level in Invoke Life, putting it at level 4 (+32% HP). On a whim, I also buy Vital Strike 1. It's unlikely to ever be useful, but hey, he had a 0% critical chance before. You get two points per level every level no matter what, so spending that point was "free" -- I'll be using the other single point later when Melee Guard becomes available anyway.

I realize that Margus has Mount Guard and no ranks in it, so I buy him level 3 (-12% damage from mounted-type enemies). It's a very timely purchase! Cotton buys Faerie Fire 4 with 6 skill points left over, making her Faerie Fire exactly as strong as her Fire Dragon (equal spell power). She can max it after leveling up just one more time, giving me the 7x7 box of death. Alhambra buys Lateral Blow 5 -- it's one of those "rare skills" I mentioned that's worth maxing, because it's a pretty big bonus and it's very easy to activate. Aegil buys Invoke Mana 3 and immediately goes from 196 to 270 MP, because Invoke Mana is crazy. She's at 21.83 and learns Oratoriorae at level 24, so I'll probably reset and do this level over again if she doesn't reach 24 after the map's bonus experience. Learning that skill is a very big event in her character progression!

All three non-Card Quests are Continuous Quests. I send Cotton on a Card Quest, since Igraine's coming along this time. All of the +magic rings go to Igraine too.

The use of titles is all-but-necessary on this objectives screen, but it's still kind of neat.

Appropriately enough, you can divide the battlefield up into three parts: Serdic's forces, Serdic's forces, and Gauss's forces. As stated in the opening conversation, Gauss is here as a spectator. Which is a good thing.

He's, uh, kind of a big deal. He could survive Seven Sins level 3. Not by much, but he'd survive. Thankfully, his little clifftop makes him completely harmless. If we can get to him, Ansom could shoot him to death in two to three turns, and there's not much Gauss could do about it.

Mind, that's what he has all of those men for.

All of the DESTRUCTORS (tempted to switch to that from "Attacker," but I'll resist) and the two Cavaliers up front have Invoke Life and Stand Fast. They're mostly just going to bounce off of Serdic and Margus.

This single Attacker is unique! He traded Invoke Life for Invoke Mind. +1 magic instead of +47 HP? Keep making good life decisions, man.

The Mages have Fire Raid, so they're jokes as always.

The War Mage has Seven Menace and the High Priest has Cure Drop and Oratoriorae. Neither of them is particularly worrisome; if the last stage is any indication, healing has a much higher AI priority than Oratoriorae, and Ansom or Igraine can take care of the War Mage.

The two Code Heaven Jousters further forward have Null ZOC and Stand Fast, while the Pike Jousters further back trade it for Stigma. Leak is HP drain. The Code Heaven ones are ultimately less dangerous -- I don't want Leak on either of my tanks.

The two Armors are beefy but not beefy enough. Serdic + Alhambra should be enough for one, while Igraine and Ansom can take down the other.

The two Troopers have the same stats, but the second one trades Evil Eye for Imperium, which inflicts Scared. Stuck keeps you from moving and Scared keeps you from passing through enemies -- so both of these enemies can leave you completely unable to melee. Yeah. I have no idea what the infliction rates are, but these guys are a priority.

Finally, we have Serdic.

piercing blast in four directions.

The true Prince of Bretwalde, who was killed by Mephreyu before being crowned King. His corpse was then reanimated.

I don't think the whole "consumes the souls of its victims" description on Fake Spanta actually makes any gameplay difference. I haven't ever had him actually kill someone, though.

Number 13 inflicts the Glass status on hit. It's generally not relevant, though; he prefers to use Arc Charge over charging at you. Do NOT stand in a straight line from his position and you'll be fine; I believe the range on Damnation is five squares, but it's best to just avoid his four cardinal directions altogether. The real threat is that Serdic might activate Number 13 on Serdic, allowing one of his more mobile allies to take advantage and give you a game over.

Otherwise, well. Serdic and Serdic are evenly matched in raw stats, but only one of them has the Holy Blade.

There's just one conversation available at the start of this map.

Aegil and Arios

As to the impostor's identity? He's no shape-shifter, if that's what you're thinking.

If a member of the Order of Anrah resurrected him, it was probably with Darkness magic. If Serdic is still radiating Light even despite that, then that's more proof that the "holy blood" of Altrius really does matter.
Hard to tell? So even you are capable of modesty.
I think you've formed the wrong opinion of me.

Oh, Arios.

We move forward.

Gauss and his men all pass turn. Serdic uses Arc Charge and fills about 1/3 of his second meter, but all of his other men pass turn.

Ansom kills the top Fire Raid Mage. He's standing on the very last range of the Cavalier and Attacker movement ranges; only the closer Attacker can hit him.

Which is why I'm putting Serdic in his path. I expect ZOC will do its thing.

Igraine moves up. Margus mirrors Serdic's movement below him.

Alhambra's going to be working with Margus again. So will Ansom. Igraine's going to stay on the top side, and Aegil's going to heal anyone that needs healing.

I'm playing it pretty risky with Aegil here -- remember, there are enemies with Null ZOC on the field. But that's what smart play is for.

Alhambra takes a spell from the lower Mage. Serdic uses Arc Charge again. The front ranks of Cavaliers and Attackers move up.

Aegil starts out by healing Alhambra.

Sedna Prison may be weaker than Faerie Fire, but that's perfect right now; I don't want her getting the kills. The experience and OB is better used elsewhere right now.

This is why I took Igraine along this time. There's a time and place for just murdering everything, but there's not enough of a time pressure here.

I intended Margus to get some of the kills, but... I spent too much time thinking about where I wanted him to end up and moved him there prematurely. Oops.

He's at the very edge of the attack range of the two lower Jousters, so he can't be attacked this turn.

Ansom is similarly at the edge of the range of the top Jousters. (If I hadn't moved Margus incorrectly, Serdic would be to Ansom's upper-left here.)

And that's the vanguard eliminated. Next.

Serdic's Arc Charges have taken him to level 2 OB now. The enemy does nothing else -- no one moves up, no one's in range to attack.

Well, nothing for it. CHARGE!

This is his proving ground. We needn't throw away good men to help him out.
Gauss! Are you saying you won't lift a finger to help me!? Grrrr... Then we have no choice. All units, prepare for an all-out assault!
I thought that he might prove useful, but... I can already tell this won't end well. We're leaving.
Yes, Your Highness!

True to his word, Gauss leaves the moment you trigger this event, taking all his men with him.

The Jousters are just slow enough, movement-wise, to let you safely shoot this High Priest to death.

I debated not moving Serdic up as far, but... Well, only the Stigma Jousters are really dangerous, and that's only if they inflict the status. It'll be fine... Probably.

No status infliction. It's all good.

I'd really just rather wipe this Trooper out while I can. Serdic only has about 1.8 OB, but this should just about wreck him.

Over 90% life! Not bad. (This also tells me level 3 Seven Sins is doing somewhere around 700, since it does double that.)

Aegil heals Margus.

The Jouster further back is one of the two Code Heaven Null ZOC users; this is the other one.

Top two Jousters down. ZOC bounces Margus above the Armor, which keeps him out of Damnation. Just as planned!

This is a little risky for Ansom -- he's in range of the Null ZOC Jouster. That said, I really do NOT want the Trooper getting any attacks off if I can help it.

Margus takes every attack. No one else is ever in danger.

Igraine is almost out of MP, so she uses a Moon Dew.

Ansom very barely does not kill here. Same with Alhambra (that beautiful, beautiful attack range ) and all of her targets.

That works out very well! Margus is a little underleveled and he was also just barely out of healing range. Aegil heals him now that he's repositioned, reaching 23.09. Almost there!

Serdic's at level 2 OB. Killing the remaining Jouster should take him to level 3, but level 2 is probably enough. That said, I am NOT putting him in the attack range of someone who can inflict the Glass status unless he's the only enemy left alive. That's suicidal.

The cavalier attacks Serdic and only Serdic, who promptly just regenerates all of it back. Aegil heals Margus to full, while Igraine uses Abyss Gate to weaken the surviving Jouster.

Serdic finishes it off and ends his turn in Serdic's attack range.

There's a conversation initiated when either Serdic attacks the other.

"Only he with the Holy Blade can be king," spoken by Serdic to Serdic. The writers of this game were damn good with their double meanings sometimes, and that line is another beautiful example. I don't think that "Urk" is Serdic being surprised by the surface verbal jab.

That surface jab may not be what Serdic was really saying, but mechanics drive home the difference regardless.

This isn't even a contest.
(vocal, on death)
Save... Bretwalde!

The Empire Amulet is +19 Defense.

Urkh... Bretwalde... Marie...
...The Tyrant Empire is no more. It's time we freed Bretwalde.

Poor Serdic.

The bonus experience is enough to take Aegil to level 24.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Next level, I shall endeavor to show you why I call her Laser Pope. After all, no one has actually used Oratoriorae yet!

Total resets so far: 12 (+0)

Next time: