Part 41: RovencroneFinally, a real level! If still quite an easy one.
Chapter 34: Rovencrone
(Or, "Naji Showcase Stage")
I never thought that young man would make it this far. It seems my judgment isn't what it was.
We can't allow him to keep doing whatever he pleases. It was through battle that I took the throne. If I appear weak, the people will lose faith in me.
The Empire's fate will be decided here. Neither side is markedly stronger... That's unusual for us.
To arms, men, and begin our assault!
No Errands last time means no one returns from Errands.
Naji's Seal is here, which means Alhambra's is next. She might just barely promote before all this is over.
Margus hit level 38, giving him just enough experience for to max Vital Power. He now has 20% HP regeneration. This is actually sort of suboptimal -- less injuries means less experience for Aegil. But on the other hand, regenerating 133 HP every turn is awesome, so! Igraine learns Seven Menace 2 and then 3, bringing her up to 6 spaces, 72 MP (after her 3 card) and about 30% more power than Abyss Gate 4. Igraine actually has the points for Sedna Prison 5, but she doesn't really need it; the range is as big as it's ever going to get, and it's about as strong as it needs to be. Aegil learns Magic Guard 3.
Serdic trades the Angel Medal (+5% HP regen) for +9 defense. The +move rings get shuffled back to their original owners. Naji loses 2 attack and gains 10 MC.
Naji's Seal Quest is available, so Alhambra is the one after that. I might just have time to promote her before all this ends.
They must be desperate to bring out so many of their best men. All units, attack!
This is a big one, and it marks the end of the filler. Every map from here on out is bigger and more interesting than the last stretch.
Naji is actually better than Ansom this level, even if Ansom's promoted and reached 9 attack range. This is the first time he can really use Hero.
Like map 18, I'm going to break out a big map to give you a better picture of what's going on here. (Map courtesy of Spriter's Resource.)
You start in the upper-left. On this map, the light tiles are Ground and the darker tiles are 2-move Wasteland.
Clotho's group is to the immediate right of your starting position.
They're designed more to weaken you than to be threats themselves. The Sniper shown here is the center one. Sap is a version of Leak that damages MP instead, and the other two inflict Leak.
Clotho herself is not very scary. Just watch out for Number 13 and her high critical rate and you'll be fine. As it is, though, we outrange her substantially, so her ability to Glass isn't very scary.
Behind Clotho is Matthias's group.
They're not very numerous or very problematic.
Matthias himself isn't much better. Deal with Matthias before Gauss and you'll be fine.
Alberich is your immediate problem. He's just south of your starting position, and his Jousters are really damn fast.
Case in point. The closest one has 8 move instead of 10, due to a lack of Sprint, but his position means it all equals out. They don't have Null ZOC, so Margus and Serdic are going to prioritize them first.
As before, the scariest part of Alberich is his OB. Don't let him charge it and you should be fine.
That said, Alberich's group is crippled by their AI. They're set not to charge until you get close, and they start mired in Wasteland, where they 1) suffer defensive penalties and 2) can't use their movement. Not the best strategy.
To the right of Alberich is Ernest's group.
His melee units suck and the mages aren't much better. Clockwise from top: Fire Raid, Meteor Gate, Magna Volt, Taion Raioh. I'm probably going to use Naji's Hero to kill the Magna Volt user and then snipe the rest down. Trying to melee them is a bad idea, though -- they're surrounded by wasteland, slowing you down substantially. You'll be torn apart.
I don't know what the hell's up with Ernest; his skill configuration is awful. Storm Rave is the x-shaped spell, Taion Raioh is a 3x5 box. The problem is that this makes him ridiculously easy to snipe at range, especially since he's bogged down in wasteland.
Finally, midway between Matthias and Ernest, we have Gauss.
Aww, his High Priests are imitating Laser Pope! Except I'm not an AI, so they're unlikely to do much.
The Guardians are speed bumps.
Gauss himself is kind of scary. While he's vulnerable to magic, melee of any stripe is much less useful, he has a high counter rate and high counter damage, Scared makes enemies unable to fight back, and he hits very hard. He's got a 15+% critical rate too, so there's a good chance he'll hit you for nearly 400 damage. If you don't have Seven Sins or mages ready, then he can shred anyone you send to fight him.
This isn't a very difficult stage so long as you don't try to melee Gauss or melee the mages in the Magic Death Swamp. It's more of a "hey, you're out of Filler Country" notice than anything.
Three conversations this time.
Elmer and Alhambra
Don't be dense. I'm shivering in anticipation! Wanna bet on which of us busts the most heads?
I would, but I plan on doing so well that you'll run out of fingers and toes. No bet, kid.
...Hrmph. Then I'll pound so many you won't even need to count them to see how good I am!
Retort was acceptable in terms of content but much too long to preserve wit. 6/10, please try harder.
Igraine and Galahad
But we have to fight them! If you don't want to, then just sit this one out, Grandpa.
Then you're sending an old man home at so late an hour? Your kindness truly moves me, Princess.
Auuugh! If you don't get serious, then you'll just be in Serdic's way!
So it's important to you that you're of use to Emperor Serdic?
Ohoho! I'll push this old body of mine to its limits for you, Princess!
I like seeing goofy characters drop the facade. It's always a good moment.
Serdic and Aegil
Don't ease up yet. The battles are going to continue.
Maybe you should ease up a little.
He just used one of her own tricks from back in chapter 31. "Ease up a little," as in "you should stop pushing everyone so hard," which is reasonable. He deliberately misinterpreted it as "you should let the soldiers handle this," which is less so.
Aegil... if you want to rest, then you should rest. And in the meantime, I'll end this war.
You talk about me as if I were a piece of luggage to haul around. If you're on the front lines, then I shall be, too.
And then he uses her pride to distract her and distance the conversation from the original point. He's getting better at this.
Alhambra's position here is the very last square of the foremost Jouster, who's at the edge of the formation and has the least Wasteland to push through.
No one's biting, though. Gonna have to get closer.
Naji has just enough movement to tag the lowest Thief enemy here. I'll have him kill those guys for OB while the rest of the party's dealing with Alberich, then I'll have him kill the mages while everyone else kills Clotho and Matthias.
Igraine's placement here is very carefully chosen. Everyone that attacks Serdic or Margus will bounce directly into Sedna Prison range.
Sadly, Aegil and Igraine don't have enough move to tag Alberich with a turn 2 Oratoriorae/Abyss Gate, at least without him moving up first. They're both just one square short.
Alhambra stops in the square to the right of Igraine.
And... they still don't attack. What are they waiting for, a written invitation?
Behold, the rare three-person ZOC wall! A route B only phenomena, and one you will so very rarely get to use.
This is what it looks like when Naji can kill enemies properly. This is after two shots. He'll be just about at full after he takes down all three thieves -- I'll probably have him kill the Snipers after each OB he builds and keep just one for the Magna Volt War Mage.
Clotho is on the move! And the rest of her men are staying right where they are, thank you very much.
Alberich runs away. His men charge. Clearly they didn't get the memo.
The results aren't very impressive. Only one enemy actually attacked Aegil; the rest were content to break their swords against Serdic.
One enemy, 3 OB. I'm going to keep pointing this out until it stops boggling me.
Told you Igraine didn't need Sedna Prison 5.
Most of the surviving Jousters and some of Ernest's men charge in (ineffectively).
I'm building up meter for Serdic so he can kill Alberich, because the man is mortally terrified of Igraine's Abyss Gate. Meanwhile, Naji is still shooting enemies. If Clotho veers off in his direction, he'll use a Champion Gem and then shoot her dead with Hero 2, but I doubt that'll happen...
Nope! Instead she moves one tile towards him and then freezes, because she's also mortally afraid of Igraine. Then she stops just inside the edge of Hero's range, presumably because she is very, very dumb.
This still gave her about 70 experience.
Alberich is still hanging out on the other side of the Wasteland. It's getting kind of annoying.
I realize I should get Igraine out of the way. She's killing the melee units so Naji has an easier time killing the Mages later, but Igraine is in the way of Aegil killing another Infantry for 3 more OB. MORE LEVELS FOR LASER POPE
Alhambra moves to the edge of Clotho's range. Naji + Alhambra should kill her.
Apparently Clotho figured that out too. She ran away.
Alberich and the final surviving Jouster attack Margus and Aegil, respectively. The latter is lasered for his cheek, the former goes down like a wuss. Margus did 200 damage to him. It was sad.
He does have a before-attack conversation with Serdic, though.
Master Serdic. I did tell you that when we met in battle, I wouldn't hold back.
This is a reference to their conversation in Chapter 19, the prison. I didn't show off because you need to talk to Alberich with Serdic in Route A to get something later. My mistake, I guess. He says it even if they've never actually talked, though, which is weird; his conversations with Serdic and Yumiluna are mutally exclusive, and you should talk with him with Yumiluna in Route B.
When you take him down, he has more lines:
Be careful, Emperor Gauss...!
Igraine kills one of Ernest's Swordsmen, Naji uses Hero level 1 on the lowest Sniper and kills him.
Either Clotho will run back towards the right, behind the barricade, she'll run into Igraine's spell range to the south, or she'll freeze and Alhambra and Naji will kill her. Any of those work.
She chooses "towards the barricade," which is what I expected.
Naji kills the last thief, and as he's moving down towards the mages, he hits Clotho. He can kill her in three hits with complete impunity, and no one on this stage can heal!
The line here is the edge of the 10-range diamond from the Snipers. Who, on examination, don't actually have True Arrows.
So Igraine and Aegil move to kill them with their respective ranged attacks.
Remember how I mentioned Class Modifier in the damage formula? (It was between updates 30 and 31.) I'm pretty sure Naji has a positive one against Mages. Mathematically, he shouldn't be able to do this, but he doesn't need to critical to one-shot them. 74*2 = 148, but they have 14 defense, and cM is applied after Defense. So 148/134 puts it at just over a 110% modifier -- but Rondo of Swords rounds towards zero, so if it was 10% he'd actually be doing 147. I'm pretty sure he's got at least a 115-120% bonus damage against Mages, which puts him solidly into one-shot territory with the South Medal and a few Copper Rings.
(Testing against High Priests, who are a little more durable, suggests that it's 125%, at least if it's consistent across all spellcaster classes. That is a lot.)
Since Mages are more-or-less the most dangerous enemies in the game, Naji's anti-Mage abilities are extremely useful. If only he was available about three chapters earlier...
Everyone's hovering at the edge of Clotho's range. It's easiest just to avoid Glass entirely.
Do you get why I stuck with Naji now? He's incredibly safe, and if there are Mages for him to kill, then he builds meter incredibly quickly. Then he can just go and annihilate a boss from halfway across the map. It's very, very nice.
Igraine and Aegil take down the two Snipers, allowing everyone else to advance.
Gauss is extremely unlikely to just stand there and let Aegil beam him to death, but eh, it's worth a shot.
For reference, this is inside the range of Abyss Gate, Oratoriorae, AND Hero. All of them. And Naji's Hero is at level 3.
When I said that level 3 Hero is powerful, I was not kidding. Gauss was at full health.
Have I lost my way!? If so, then I have no choice but to leave this battle in their hands...!
All units, pursue the enemy! We're going to end this war!
I didn't actually do that, though.
Instead, Serdic reaches out and touches Matthias.
Aegil hits Gauss with an Oratoriorae to take down 400 HP, Igraine weakens an Armor, Alhambra finishes it off and weakens the second...
...so Margus can get the final blow.
Naji puts Ernest down the next turn.
Both the big boss man and Ernest moved last turn, but I've got Wasteland between me and them -- the positional advantage is mine, to say nothing of my mage and archer support.
Alhambra weakens, Serdic kills. He's back up to 2 OB, very nearly 3, from empty meter. 99 MC really seems to accelerate OB gain. From Naji's attacks, 50->99 roughly doubles it.
With Vital Power, Margus's level 1 OB is basically free, especially when he won't take more attacks. Level 39. He's catching up! Slowly!
Moving the mages up.
Seeing the ranged attacks, Gauss runs away.
Badly, because he's still in range of Abyss Gate. The reinforcements shown here don't have time to affect the battle one way or another.
That's how the real run ends, but there's a bit of dialogue if Serdic or Gauss attack the other.
Very well... show me your power!
Melee Guard 4 helps a lot.
Of course, I should mention that Gauss moves first. And that I'd accidentally moved into line with an Oratoriorae High Priest. And that Gauss used Null ZOC to end his turn below Serdic, between him and the High Priest.
Oratoriorae has friendly fire and enemy mages are very, very trigger happy.
Sadly, this has no effect on Gauss's end-of-level dialogue. He has two versions of it -- "some Grands survive" and "all Grands defeated." You'll see the latter in a moment.
Back in the real run, I realized that Aegil had 3 OB. Hey, I thought, I wonder if I can use OB on a group of people who aren't injured at all. Would that give me 0 experience?
No. No, it doesn't. I don't understand this game any more
Igraine is now higher-level than Serdic -- 45 to his 44. AOE and range do a lot to accelerate leveling.
I have no choice but to leave this battle in their hands...!
All units, pursue the enemy! We're going to end this war!
Sadly, no Rings for defeating the Grands this time. They're still not done.
Total resets so far: 15 (+0)
Next time: The Dark Legion