The Let's Play Archive

Rondo of Swords

by Einander

Part 35: Roadside Stone

Clearly you all found that last update as uninteresting as I did. Here, have a better update. Updates resume Saturday.

Chapter 28: Roadside Stone
(Or, "Aegy-Baby")

Oh my god... they've already broken through the gate!? Hold them off to the last man!

The Pope is personally taking the battlefield against you, and I'm pretty sure Valen is the only god ever named in the story. (Though at least one Quest does reference "God and the Devil," so who knows.) I don't think you're really in a good position to call on divine favor.

They never give a thought to regular guys like me. Well, I'll stay here a little longer... Should be plenty of abandoned houses to hide in.

And for the first time this playthrough, I manage to sell things without getting slammed with the "half sale price" failure. In fact, Selmer even activates his ability and sells them for twice their sale price.

If the near-future is any indication, I should not get used to this.

As with Aegil, you'll notice that Igraine's portrait is that of her Rune Master outfit, not her Warlock one. It's especially obvious in the portraits that show her staff:

As previously mentioned, Igraine's promotion is probably the single largest leap in potential of any character. Torus Spell alone is a massive boon; getting that on top of Abyss Shard, Wisdom Lock, Manafont, and every elemental ultimate (except Oratoriorae) is ridiculous. It's almost kind of problematic, because mages benefit from focused skill selection and Igraine has so many options!

That said, Igraine should be using mostly Darkness magic, and 16% is enough with her 3 Card in play; Raine will stay at Torus Spell 4. The next priority is getting her to Abyss Gate 4. Abyss Gate 5 allows her to reach 10 spaces, but Abyss Gate 4 is 9 range and the power difference between 4 and 5 is miniscule. It's generally best to reach Abyss Gate 4 and stop.

After that, she'll get up to Wisdom Lock 3, Invoke Mind 3, then start leveling Seven Menace. Unlike Abyss Gate, that one should get as many points as you can. Not having Ymir Magna makes me a little sad, but... I'll get over it. Besides, Aegil would get cranky if Igraine started copying her big offensive spell, and Raine is a lady.

At level 36, Serdic has learned the final signature skill of the Cold Monarch, Melee Guard. I've been stockpiling points in preparation for it, so I immediately buy level 4 (-16% damage from all on-foot melee units). This is a large part of what makes him such a damn good tank at endgame -- you need to watch out for spells, but between Melee and Arrow Guard and increased availability of amulets, physical attacks become less and less relevant.

Alhambra learns Retaliation 3 (+counter rate). Aegil learns Oratoriorae 5, bringing her spell range up to 8, and gets a Champion Gem in case I need her OB on short notice.

Igraine goes for her third Card Quest, which will be the final Card Quest of the playthrough. Ansom is off to promote, and...

Really? No second Hunter Seal ever? What a pain. Well, at least it's fairly likely I'll get Hunter Proofs from this battle -- Naji is another Archer. If not, well, I know I can get one soon.

Margus's Seal is next. I DO have Battle and Captain Proofs, so that's definitely happening.

More Topaz Amulets! More!

Yumiluna has one purpose in this stage, and it's to cast Holy Favor once. Cotton would be more useful, but it's Cotton or Ansom and Ansom can move AND fire.

As with recruiting Aegil herself, you get a special start of level dialogue for bringing her along, and a door in the building shown there opens. The goal is to bring Aegil to that door.

Or don't bring her to that door, because like Galahad, recruiting a second-tier character you're not going to use is a bad idea.

It's also kind of a pain to actually recruit him. Aegil is mobile, yes, but...

...she's also a mage, and the building in question is the one in the upper-left of the third screen.

That's the majority of the difficulty, really. The two Jousters to the left of the starting position and the two top Swordsmen have Null ZOC, but the Attackers have no skills at all and the Armors just have Stand Fast and Aggressor. The lower War Mage has Taion Raioh (3x4/3x5 box), making him completely irrelevant, and while the second one's Meteor Gate is actually kind of scary, it's seven range tops. That's what Alhambra and Ansom are for.

The Archers have Foresight (+dodge), the Sniper has Sprint and Stigma (chance of Leak). Ansom's going to kill him too.

There's just one initial conversation this map.

Alhambra and Owl

I know what you mean. Outside, we can go buck wild.

It's always distracting seeing a character's characteristic turn of phrase appear elsewhere. I think of Star Force every time I hear "buck wild."
Right... if I could bust up anything I wanted, it'd be another story.
We start doing that, though, and they'll start calling US the tyrants.
True... man, this sucks.

Unfortunately, Alhambra's going to take a hit here from Meteor Gate; it's unavoidable. Her Magic is pretty decent, though, and she has a fair number of amulets. I'm just going to have to hope it's a lower-level one.

Serdic moves into Taion Raioh here. If he doesn't, the Mage is probably going to run away. He's just out of reach of Meteor Gate, though, and only the Jouster and Armor can hit him. He should be fine. Afterwards, Margus will get the kill.

The Jouster hits Alhambra and Aegil and then runs north. Taion Raioh hits Serdic for about 100, hits the allied Armor, and then kills the Jouster Alhambra hit.

No luck. 100 MP, so it's level 4, 6 spaces. +1 reset.

This time, I instead position Alhambra to kill the Meteor Gate Mage next turn. I didn't actually check the MP cost until after I finished playing; I could have moved everyone up one more space.

I mentioned earlier that the Jouster hit Aegil. He moves in the same way this time, but I'm not really worried -- with Vital Power 3, she heals 12% each turn. She'll get that back in 2-3 turns.

Alhambra's position here is 8 away from the top Sniper. I think she'll move to kill him next turn.

Both the Jouster and leftmost Attacker die. Aegil levels and hits 3 OB. Then Margus goes to kill the Taion Raioh War Mage.

Duelist and a back attack let Serdic kill this Armor; without both boosts he probably would have been just short.

One Archer down. The other should be out of range to hit anyone.

The Attacker bounces off of Serdic.

The last map taught me that Alhambra sometimes can't kill Snipers unless she hits them from the side. Not letting this one live.

This means she'll be hit by a Swordsman, but that's fine; that's why she has 430 HP.

Aegil runs up toward the battlefield. Ansom kills the other Archer.

You know how Serdic and Margus block and get that AT Field animation when they activate ZOC? Aegil is having none of that. She just stands there. It's probably just animation laziness (Margus and Serdic reuse their counter animations without the "countering" part, and Aegil doesn't have that animation because she can't attack), but I think it's hilarious anyway. She's just that unimpressed.

(The fact this particular enemy was already Crazed and only did 27 damage is just icing on the cake. She just regenerated most of that right back.)

Doesn't matter if you have Null ZOC if your target counters! That's part of why Alhambra is getting Retaliation levels. Between her natural counter rate and the bonus, she can reach a sort of pseudo-ZOC.

I'd like to call your attention to something here. This Swordsman moved down one tile and did nothing else. He's 9 tiles away. I guess he's terrified of Oratoriorae? Despite it being linear and thereby dodgeable by an advanced tactic we call "moving to the left or right."

AI is weird.

I could end the level, but I still need two turns to recruit Naji. (I accidentally wrote "regret" instead of "recruit." Freudian slip?)

Margus and Ansom kill the Attacker and Armor, while Alhambra kills the top Swordsman.

And this is when there's only one person actually injured, and not very much. Healing experience mechanics aren't meant for multi-target usage.

I spend a couple more turns moving Yumiluna towards the upper right, then use Holy Favor to teleport Aegil to above her. Aegil then moves into the doorway.

The door was ajar, and I was curious... There's a battle raging out. I came to warn you: be careful about showing yourself.
Don't gotta tell me twice. I'll keep that in mind. While you're here, miss, how 'bout a drink?
I haven't got time for that. We're short-handed as it stands. And don't call me "miss." You overstep your bounds. I have a name; it is Aegil. ...Why are you dressed in traveler's garb?
I always wear this stuff.
You're a traveler, then.
Sure, you could say that.
More specifically... a looter.
That's no way to talk about a man to his face. How about you call me something more polite, like... "A free spirit." Yeah, that's it.

Do NOT call me that!
Well, y'said not to call you "miss."
Looter or no, I'm at my limit! I must search the other houses.

With that done, I can FINALLY end the stage.

The time limit here is very generous, but... Still no Hunter Proof.

Well, recruiting Naji unlocks a Quest that gives one, so I'll have that in a stage or two. Stupid obtuse RoS mechanics...

You... intend to continue this? Wasn't driving them out of the Central Plains enough?
Not by half.

I've mentioned it before, and it's been mentioned in the thread before: Serdic and Yggdra of Yggdra Union are pretty similar character concepts, right down to their "average character becomes game-strongest after promotion" and some elements of the plot. (There's no choice between "do this awful thing and promote" or "don't," though.) To some extent, they're both driven by revenge, especially in RoS's Route B. And it continues to this moment: "We've driven the enemy out of our home, but we can't let this happen again. It's time to head for the Empire."
Enough, Kay.
Gather the men... We're heading for Grand Meir.

That's the end of chapter. We still need to talk about Naji, though! And there's a lot to talk about, because he's very different.

An unknown man wrapped in mystery. According to himself, he's a free spirit that can't be chained.

Card abilities: Attack Range +1 (3x), Attack Range +1 (6x) (Though it's incredibly difficult to actually get him six cards, due to his join time)

That weapon description might look familiar -- it's the same as the Amaterasu and Susano-o that Alberich and Clotho of the Grands have. He definitely isn't a former Grand, though; he's 20 years old, and the game very explicitly says Ernest was the youngest Grand (28) before Alberich (26) joined their ranks. For what it's worth, the blonde-haired Emperor Gauss is 39.

Like Ansom, Naji is an archer and possesses the same move-then-attack ability, but he's a very different sort. First off, Naji has seven attack range. Second, Naji has 99 accuracy. Naji will not miss, period, no matter what. Third, he has significantly lower attack, but his critical rate is higher (10 now, 15 after promotion) and...

...he comes with True Arrows accessible right off the bat, along with enough skill points to max both it and Vital Strike. With True Arrows 5, he now has double Ansom's attack range.

Hero is probably the third-best OB in the game, and it's also the coolest-looking. They exaggerate when they say infinite range:

it's actually "only" 15 squares.

Time ta put on my game face!

(For those who haven't heard the audio file, imagine an exaggerated American Southerner accent. It's weird, because no one else in-game talks like that.)

Examination suggests that it does (5*attack-defense)*OB , where OB = 1/1.5/2, depending on OB level. The next-highest OB multipler is the 4X of Seven Sins, but Serdic's greater strength makes Seven Sins much, much stronger.

Hero is essentially Naji's defining trait. He should be used kill fragile targets, who will give him more OB, and you use that stockpiled OB to kill priority targets, usually bosses. A level 3 Hero isn't as strong as Seven Sins or nearly as easy to build, but its range makes it considerably safer to use. Naji would have totally invalidated Mephreyu, for example, especially since the stage was filled with so many squishy targets. And if you use Naji as your team's boss killer, then that frees Serdic up to use his Seven Sins charges more often, allowing him to wipe out big targets. He's also one of only two characters to get the skill Divine Seal, and the other is the other route-exclusive character -- it drops all spell damage by up to 50% for up to three turns, and affects all units in an AOE around the user. Sadly, it's only available in his promoted class.

I like Naji, so I'm probably going to use him instead of Ansom for a while. He's fun, but he's pretty bad. Hero may be strong and his range is useful, but that low base strength really hurts him, the lack of Invoke Might doesn't help, and if he does get hit than it's all over. While "build OB, use OB" would a good strategy, it only really works if there are squishy enemies on the field -- OB gain seems to be based on percentage of HP lost and attacker MC, and he has low damage and low MC. It's a good idea not executed very well. His magic would make him good at taking spells, but his HP is atrocious and it isn't going to improve. The South Medal (+10 attack -20 defense) is basically obligatory to make him usable, because he really needs that twenty extra damage. If he promoted faster (his Seal is right before Alhambra's, so third from the bottom; with Arios, Yumiluna, and Simon, that means four more Quests to go) or had better strength growth (it's 0.4 per level, 0.6 after promotion) he'd be more useful, but as it is he's merely an interesting gimmick.

Still, the thread seemed interested in RoS Archers, so I figure it can't hurt to show off a different style for a little while. It'll keep things interesting.

Total resets so far: 15 (+1)

Next time:
Grand Bridge