Part 39: Battle for RomadiaLike last time, there's two short chapters coming up. The second one is really, really short. Update today, update tomorrow, update the day after that, and then we're back to an every-other-day schedule until the end.
Chapter 32: Battle for Romadia
(Or, "The AI Turned Its Brain Off Today")
Defend Romadia to the death!
I hate you, Selmer.
You'll notice Rukia's quote here is different; that's because this is the first time she didn't succeed in doubling her purchases. (She says the "freebies" line after that, so they really are two separate abiities.) It's a shame, but no real harm done.
Serdic gets two points in Frontal Fury, which decreases enemy counter rate when attacking from the front. He had an odd number of points, so there was no real reason not to. Aegil learns Arrow Guard 2. Naji continues to twiddle his metaphorical thumbs, despite having 40 skill points. Alhambra gets +5 defense and Margus gets +4, putting both of them at +69 defense bonus. Despite both of them having variable levels of defensive skills and wildly different stats.
I swear I'm not doing this on purpose, but +69 keeps happening. It's kind of maddening, actually.
In other, less five-year-old news, Alhambra also has exactly 100 defense now! 120 on Serdic and 129 on Margus, while Aegil has 91. (Serdic and Margus are only using three slots for amulets, while Alhambra and Aegil get Amulets in all four slots. Defensive skills + defensive stats.) At the other end of the spectrum, Igraine has -7 defense. As testing showed, that really does increase damage taken.
Also, Aegil passed Serdic's level last stage. He's 41, she's 43. The next-highest is 39, the lowest is Margus at 34. He'll get to 36 eventually! Eventually.
Maybe this map?
I could have fit this entire map's tactical information on one screenshot if I was willing to say, "That guy that's half on-screen there is the topmost Swordsman." It's small and there aren't many enemies.
Every single Jouster on the map has Arrow Guard and only Arrow Guard. Either this is a late, half-hearted attempt to balance Ansom or the devs really, really hate Naji.
The War Mage in the bottom-most group has Meteor Gate. He's irrrelevant, because he starts the map exactly eight tiles away from Aegil. Poor War Mage. He might be really scary otherwise!
Why are all of you so awful? This is a serious question.
The only real difficulty here is trying not to murder the enemies so quickly that the Guardian runs away. I don't think there's any real reason to kill him, it's just the principle of the thing.
Three conversations this time.
Serdic and Owl
You're awfully enthustiastic.
Well, sure. If they take this city back, we'll be in trouble.
True, but... well, I won't pry.
Sasha and Ansom
Young Master! This is no time to be saying that!
I didn't mean to suggest that I don't want to protect the city. It's ours now, after all. Still, it feels strange.
We vowed to reclaim the things we had lost. Yet now we're guarding an Imperial town on Imperial soil.
I admit, that does seem strange.
Doesn't it? I doubt anything can surprise me anymore.
Would you like me to test that theory?
Do you have a surprise in store? I hope it's not too terrible...
...I guess I'll hold off for now.
I'm not sure if that's a blessing or a curse...
In case you've forgotten (because it's been ages since it's come up), Sasha has a very-badly-hidden crush on Ansom.
Aegil and Yumiluna
What is it?
There isn't a single Veronan church in this area. Which means we should begin services here in Romadia!
An interesting idea... Verona has never had much influence in the east. It's why so many Anrah initiates flock to this region. Quite regrettable, really.
Is that so?
When the war is over, we'll turn our gaze to the east. Can I leave this initiative up to you?
Bring it on, I say!
As I see it, there's two basic ways to take this conversation, one more obvious and one less so:
1) Light. Aegil doesn't really seem too invested in any of the religious aspects of her job. Even when she crowns Serdic, she's acting more as sovereign of Verona than Pope. Her Bio says she's a good religious leader too, but we never see that. She's very secular in her priorities, methods and outlook, much more Queen than Pope.
2) Dark. Remember: Verona has previously conducted "purges" of the Order of Anrah, and the name and Mephreyu's Bio are a good indication that "purges" means "ethnic/religious cleansing," which is itself a clinical, anthropological way of saying "genocide." Uther's Bio tells us that Aegil's Verona doesn't do that any more, and Aegil's been spending time with and around Igraine. She's unlikely to ever resume the purges, but there's no guarantee that Verona will follow that policy after her death. So long as Verona has no influence in the East, then there's always somewhere for members of the Order to live in peace. Aegil brought the Order up deliberately, to show Yumiluna the consequences of what she's proposing, and Yumiluna failed the test. She's not going to do actually do this.
I'm reasonably sure this isn't overthinking it, and that's a nice feeling. Rare, really.
Igraine and Naji start by sniping down the left side. Once again, their starting positions are just right to do this.
Margus moves out of the way, and...
...Laser Pope does her thing. She's at 3 OB now, naturally.
Normally, I'd have Alhambra charge down at the bottom group; two Jousters won't kill her, the rock face would shut off the Snipers, and she could absolutely wreck them. However, I don't want to trigger the event that will make the Guardian run away.
Remember how I mentioned the Guardian critical last stage? The Guardian did more to Serdic than all of the other cavaliers in range. The Snipers shot Margus for some bizarre reason, despite Serdic being in range and having twenty more MC. And the fact they did this much damage to Margus:
In fact, Margus had the lowest MC... Which makes me think that the developers set them to target lowest MC, not highest. In other words, they're set to kill characters like Owl, mages, or Naji, who all have very low MC and rely on that and their range to stay safe. That is a marvelously bastardly bit of game design, and suddenly the Pirate Island archers make more sense -- I guess that's a fairly common AI setting for enemies? Some of the cavaliers did the same too, going after Margus instead of Serdic.
You'd think they'd have mentioned this in the MC tutorial. Lowest-MC AI is a thing you really should know about, and the fact I'm only cluing in now, on my fifth or sixth playthrough, says a lot about how apparent it is.
Aegil COULD kill three more enemies with Oratoriorae here, but in the long run it's better for her to use Great Blessing for the free level and to ensure Serdic doesn't die.
So Alhambra weakens enemies, Margus finishes them, and the two of them should be able to cut him off if he moves to flee.
If he doesn't, Serdic can tank him again and finish it next turn with mage support. Aegil is level 44 now.
Now even the Guardian is attacking Margus instead of Serdic. NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANY MORE
Compare Margus's stats to Alhambra's -- see what I meant about her slow stat growth? This is with four levels over Margus. (Admittedly, he spent four of his levels in tier 3.) Her bases can carry her regardless, though, and Sprint and Lateral Blow help.
The Guardian attacks Margus again instead of running away, like the objective says he should be doing...? Presumably he hits Margus instead of Serdic because he planned to hit both.
Reinforcements came in from the left entrance, and they're as baffling as the rest of them. Look.
Why would you do this, AI?
I don't actually do that, though. Instead:
More reasonable distribution of experience. Aegil is leveled high enough that kills are peanuts -- that's why she's started to pull ahead of Serdic. Igraine isn't much lower-leveled, but she doesn't have Great Blessing either.
Sedna Prison very nearly kills the Guardian outright, which is baffling. He has Magic Guard, so that shouldn't happen. He's kind of a weenie, I guess?
Apparently killing even one enemy is enough for Aegil to hit level 3 OB now. The game mechanics are really not designed to accomodate Laser Pope, guys.
The real reason Alhambra ran back like that was to get in range of Margus's OB. He's almost level 37 now! He finally caught up a little.
More reinforcements appeared at the bottom-left, two Jousters and two War Mages. These two War Mages are the most terrifying type of enemy we've seen yet.
BEHOLD, THE SKILLLESS ENEMY WAR MAGE!
Why, yes. Enemy mages are completely unable to attack except through spells, just like your mages. Why do you ask?
For the curious, enemy skills are stored in stage data, so this is almost certainly a mistake. The other two reinforcements also lack skills. (I believe the stage data just gives enemy classes, levels, equipment and skills and lets the stat growth formulas determine stats.)
I think this is the most appropriate ending for this thoroughly bizarre stage.
We don't have a choice. Retreat!
...he said, right before the energies of the holy blade reduced him to his constituent atoms.
This stage is a really strange afterthought. Both Romadia stages are, really. At least this one had surreal enemy AI going for it.
Total resets so far: 15 (+0)
Next time: The Calm Before