The Let's Play Archive

Rondo of Swords

by Einander

Part 38: Fortress City

Manatee Cannon: I'm not promoting Ansom because I'm still contemplating whether or not to use Naji through the end. Chapter 35 is a good place to promote him, and he gets his Seal in chapter 34. No matter which Archer I use, I'll be promoting them in chapter 35.

Edit: I'd open it up to a vote, but, well. Most of what you've seen is "Naji has a good OB he can barely use, Ansom is a death cannon." I think Naji deserves more of a chance to show off his gimmick.

Lotish: The damage formula isn't all that complicated, it's just "base damage, apply first multiplier, round towards zero, apply next multiplier, round towards zero..." I'd even call it straight-forward, except that class multiplier is all kinds of weird.

So long as you know "base damage is 2*attack-defense," you can eyeball the rest fairly competently. Spells are a problem precisely because you can't do that.

It may be hard to tell right now, when we're firmly in Filler Territory, but we're about halfway through Route B right now.

Next update in two days. Both levels are short, so it's going to be another "two consecutive updates, break day, update" cycle. From chapter 34 onward, it'll be an update every other day until the end of the route (barring unpleasant personal surprises, naturally).

Chapter 31: Fortress City
(Or, "The Bad, the Ugly, and the Good")

That's the Empire's second line of defense.
All right. We'll conquer Romadia and use it as a stepping stone to invade the rest of the Empire.
I'm looking forward to getting some rest afterwards.
Aegil, you can rest at any time if things are difficult for you. It's all right to leave this battle to the men.

Not exactly, but...

This strikes me as Aegil invoking the equivocation fallacy, wherein one of the members of the argument changes definitions without announcement. Serdic almost certainly means "leave this to the men," by which he means "the soldiers that we, as leaders, employ." That's why he says "the" and not "we." Aegil is deliberately misunderstanding him for conversational advantage, and it works, because Serdic is a lot less proficient at verbal sparring.

That said, this line is interesting for another reason: It wouldn't work if "traditional gender roles" were a thing. I guess the female Pope really is an indication of in-world gender equality!

Then don't say such things. Your concern is misplaced. I accompany you by choice.
I understand. Let's hurry and conquer Romadia. I'm worried they may employ reinforcements.
Right. I'm counting on you.

Oh, Selmer, you and your wacky incompetence at the most basic of tasks! I'd be angrier if Rukia hadn't ensured I have just about all the Amulets I need.

Serdic learns Invoke Might 2; now that he's gotten a good number of Cold Monarch levels under his belt, he's gone up to 150% of his original base attack, so +5%*level to his base strength actually means something.

Statistically speaking, it's likely that you'll notice recurring patterns of any particular number, even within relatively small sample sizes; a "meaningful" number draws more attention, leading to increased awareness of when this phenomenon occurs. The most common example is the Birthday Problem, also known as the Birthday Paradox. It's still weirding me out, though. Up to four instances now.

Igraine learns Wisdom Lock 4. Aegil learns Wisdom Lock 3 and Arrow Guard 1, and since she has an extra skill point due to the "skill level 1 costs 1 point and all other levels cost an even number" thing, she learns Abyss Ward 1. I'll probably get her at least level 3 in Arrow Guard and level 2 in Abyss Ward.

Aegil is officially the first character to have reached the end of their skill list AND to have reached the full 12 slots used! (Though she missed Stand Fast by promoting before level 21, so she technically doesn't have all her skills.) I would say these are her best twelve skills; she should probably have Holy Favor instead of Abyss Ward, but Aegil almost always has better things to be doing. And hey, between the amulets, her decent HP, Abyss Ward, and Magic Guard, I think she might just be able to tank high-level Dark magic soon.

Amulet switching gets Aegil +4 defense (+3, after the -1 from another level of Wisdom Lock), Margus +9, and Alhambra +14. Naji gets two of the Copper Rings, bringing him up to three and the South Medal -- +16 attack in total. +8 damage isn't much, but it's better than +4% critical on all uses of OB and 96% of regular attacks. And hey, it's +80 damage if he gets to OB level 3! +40 on level 1.

Plus, Yoichi Medals sell for 1000 each, so three of them is half a Topaz Amulet! Or one fourth, when Selmer sells them for half price, or none, when Selmer loses them instead of selling them.

(I sold all three this map and got none of that gold. I'm roughly revenue-neutral on buying/selling, but that's only because Topaz Amulets are very valuable and Rukia is a klepto.)

Rondo of Swords mythology is never really discussed in-game (and it wasn't popular enough for out-of-game material works ). We know who Valen is, but he's only ever mentioned around Aegil. Apparently there's multiple gods, and yet this first quest uses "God" as a proper noun. It's weird.

That said... Stealing power from the site of a murdered god? Isn't that kind of a villain thing? This is Yumiluna's Seal, too. First Verona commits genocide, now this. Are... Are we the baddies?

"Think carefully. Then realize that, wait, you need three or six cards to get any effect from them. So, uh. I hope you're on card 2 or 5!"

(Appropriately enough, this was not the best thought-out message.)

Shopping-wise, you know the drill: Selmer sells junk, Rukia buys a Topaz Amulet. None of the Quests are continuous, so I do all of them. Remember, this is the stage where sending Owl out on Errands gives you special dialogue, an awful item, and skips the next stage. Naturally, this means I have to do the stage twice. OWL!

I'm going to stick with Naji until a stage where he can actually show off properly. Some stage with mages, preferably. I'm stubborn that way.

(Speaking from the future, I can tell you this is all the way in chapter 34. I hate Filler Country.)

That stage is not this stage. I'm not sure why this stage exists at all. It's filler.

Remember, stage difficulty is tied to mages. No mages, no difficulty. The front group cannot hurt Serdic or Margus at all, and only the Swordsman has skills. They increase accuracy and evasion. One of the front Armors has a skill, and it's Invoke Might. The rest are worthless. The back armors have assorted defensive skills that don't matter, and the horsemen have Null ZOC. The Guardian will get chumped by Seven Sins, just like every other enemy of his type. The High Priests only have Cure Drop, and only level 3 or so.

This would be easy even if they rushed at you all at once. They don't. Their AI is set to send them out about three at a time, letting you tear them apart with minimal fuss. It's sad.

These two Snipers are the only bit of difficulty in this entire stage, and they could do maybe 200 on a crit, which they will do 5% of the time. And by "threat," I mean "don't move Igraine into their way and hope they don't crit Aegil." And unlike the last stage, this terrain does nothing for them. With that rock face jutting out a bit at the top, it's even actively detrimental, letting a mage get at them more easily.

In a normal run, you'd dash through this level in about ten minutes and forget it ever existed. In an LP, it's a much longer affair and delays you from one that might have something more interesting. And I have to do it twice. Sure, it gives an opportunity to do another set of Quests, but this level is lazy. I am annoyed on both your behalf and mine.

Two conversations this time.

Shino and Izuna

It wouldn't work. Even if I get in, what could I do alone?
But you'd have the element of surprise!
Well, that's true, I would.

No points. A little more thinking, Izuna, and a little less speaking.

Both of the conversations this stage seem to be about mocking a particular convention. This one is "single infiltrator." What, did you think the enemy wouldn't think of that? Any force small enough to get inside a fortress is going to be too small to make a difference against the entire army inside it.

Naji and Galahad

We were wondering if you would be interested in our little venture.
Ask, if yer askin'.

...Galahad, why did you just turn into Grandpa Gendo? Because that's kind of terrifying.
Hey, that sounds neat!
You start with your bow, then I come in with my magic, and Sir Margus finishes by charging in! I estimate we'd do three times as much damage as a single attack!

That is probably the most direct shot I've ever seen taken at the idea of the Triangle Attack.

That said, if you just had to have all three in attack range of a target, then a Naji-Galahad-Margus Triangle Attack would actually be goddamn incredible, enough to kick the three of them way the hell up the tier list -- Galahad's Abyss Gate and Naji's normal attack both go to ten range, and Margus's durability means that moving him into range would be easy. Automatic criticals aren't as overwhelming here, since the damage boost is usually smaller, but 1.25x+ignore defense is still good. And if it was more of a SWR-style Combo Attack style, that would also be great!

Sadly, there's no such thing in this game.

Okay, correction: One member of the front group can damage Serdic, but not past his regen. The Infantry do zero.

They break their weapons on Serdic, Igraine murders them all.


Counters do just over half of a normal attack, and the penalty is applied before defense. This makes counter attacks really, really awful at actually doing damage late game, at least in enemy hands.

The counter, while annoying, doesn't actually change much. Sadly, Margus isn't quite strong enough to finish the job, but Igraine is able to take down one of the survivors.

You guys suck.

Aegil hits the lower Hunter and a High Priest for 3 OB. This level may be a waste of time, but hey, free levels.

Alhambra takes care of the other. Stage basically over.

One of the armors is healed up to half. This makes no difference.

At current strength, Igraine can one-shot these Armors with Abyss Gate. It's not usually the best use of her time, though, especially with Sedna Prison there. But it's nice sometimes.

There was no real reason to burn a Champion Gem to use Hero level 1 on this enemy. (It's the Armor three spaces in front of Naji.) I just realized I could. I have like six Champion Gems anyway and it's not like Naji or Margus were doing much else this turn.


This Jouster hit Serdic and Aegil first. Then Alhambra countered it to death.

His compatriot rapidly reconsiders his plan to do the same, running off into the distance. Naji shoots him to death shortly thereafter.

Then I run forward, knowing that mathematically, the enemies cannot kill Serdic, even with a much larger back attack modifier than exists in-game.

Except the Guardian criticals and does 300 damage, so they can. Just barely. The others do about 80 damage and Serdic has 520 HP.

I was kind of pissed, to put it lightly. +1 reset.

Next time, I make sure to use Alhambra's Lateral Blow and Serdic's Duelist to take down one of the Armors in that last group of four. Then Serdic tanks the attacks. No criticals means he takes about half-life, tops.


Seven Sins and Abyss Gate kill the other two.

They give you a lot of Hero/Champion Gems at late game. That's fine, though; they're one of the more useful types of consumable.

Your Highness, it looks like the Imperial Army is headed this way.
And we just conquered the city... We have no choice. We'll intercept the Imperial Army and turn the tables!

That said, I still had to do the level again. I didn't send Owl out to do Errands this time, you see. If you do...

Hey, Serdic!
Owl? What is it?
I talked with some guys on the inside. They said the townsfolk'll help us out.
I see... Excellent work, Owl.

A little detail you might not notice, especially in the smaller portrait images: She has freckles. I don't think anyone else does, so it's a nice touch.
You're with the Divine Empire's army, right?
Y-Yeah... What about it?

Are you my older brother?
I look like him, that's all.

In that case, then take this.
What is it?
A charm I made for my brother. If you ever meet somewhere, would you give it to him? Please?

Right when Rondo of Swords has pissed me off with a completely pointless stage, it redeems itself with its writing again.

They didn't have to code this conversation into the game, and they didn't have to do it this way. This girl's sprite appears nowhere else, and Owl's joining up after talking to Marie and his anger when Serdic killed her could simply be what they appear to be. He's an optional character with no story presence, so he doesn't need a detailed background. But no, it's more complicated than that.

Characters in Rondo spend a lot of time lying, but there are always, always clues. Go back and look at his joining conversation again, then consider what we know. Serdic's conversation with Owl in chapter 23 looks very different now, doesn't it? And that's the unimportant part of the conversation.

Righteous indignation isn't very interesting, but Owl's reaction wasn't really ever that. No, Owl reacted like that because Marie's death brought back all of the self-loathing he's carrying about how he abandoned his own sister. His reaction tells us that he expects her to hate him for it, which says a lot about the situation when he left. (We don't get to know more, because "as you know, we were" is shit writing. I think the use here is about as far as you can go without it being stupid.) Even so, she forgives him. Owl doesn't touch on Marie's death again, but I think it's fair to assume that Owl starts forgiving Serdic when he starts to forgive himself.

Naturally, as Rondo is apt to do, this excellent conversation is tied to the game with clunky mechanics. You're even less likely to see this conversation than normal, because the game tells you about this in the previous stage, and it requires you to skip a stage that has Quests available. That's really, really painful. To add insult to substantial injury, the Honor Medal is neither good nor unique. It adds 3% to critical chance, only 1% more than the Yoichi Medal, an accessory common enough that I had three of them by this stage. If this sounds familiar, this is because the Honor Medal is also available by finishing a Route B "all Quests" run (minimal recruiting, promote no Tier 1s, do no Continual Quests). It's a reward for the very last Quest on the list.

This is a conversation you really should see once, though. I really do love this game, and things like this conversation remind me why.

Total resets so far: 15 (+1)

Next time:
Battle for Romadia