The Let's Play Archive

Rondo of Swords

by Einander

Part 42: The Dark Legion

Chapter 35: The Dark Legion
(Or, "This Map Again?")

Is Alberich STILL on the loose? Well, even if he is... With these troops, it's only a matter of time before he's caught.

They fight like demons, but their faces are completely blank... What in the world's going on?
Serdic! Someone's coming!

It's not stated in this route, but the other route tells us that Alberich very strongly disapproves of dishonoring the dead, and apparently zombies count.

The Auric Ring is a weaker version of the White Ring, adding +5 MC.

Executive decision: I'm promoting Naji instead of Ansom. I'll show off both promotions (I don't have the Seals to promote both at once, but I can just replay this level once), but Naji's staying on the team.

Yumiluna in particular has something to do this map.

Serdic learns Arrow Guard 3. Igraine learns Seven Menace 4. Aegil learns Magic Guard 4. Yumiluna learns Holy Favor 5. Margus equips a Hero Gem to replace the Gem I used a few maps back.

I really, really wish I had gotten Naji's Seal two maps earlier. I miss him already.

You know what the last few maps haven't had enough of? Clever use of terrain to make your life miserable!

Nearly all of the Swordsmen are set up the same way: Null ZOC and a status ailment skill. The skills range from two Sin Brands (Sap, which is MP poison), Thunder Seal (Tired, which is evasion = 0), First Strike (Timid, counter rate = 0) and Mind Chains (Clumsy, cannot use items).

That said, there's a hidden complication here. The chapter name is "The Dark Legion" for a reason -- this is the first map with this type of enemy troops. Remember the chapter where Igraine joined, how the Armors that chased after the group were nearly immune to all damage not dealt by Spanta? Thankfully, we're not dealing with vengeful spirits possessed by the Darkness, and so these enemies have a much lower level of damage resistance. These enemies might not have visible increases to their defenses, but the majority of your characters are eating damage reductions of about 25%. That's going to hold through to the end of the game, so expect any enemy you attack to be tougher than advertised. As before, I'm fairly sure the Holy Blade allows Serdic to invalidate this protection (though Fearlessness/Duelist complicates the math a little).

The War Mage to the left of the starting group has Meteor Gate (up to 7 range, strongest spell). The two War Mages on the left have Storm Rave + Taion Raioh (X/3x5 box) and Sedna Prison, respectively. The lower right Mage has Ice Spear + White Dust (linear/up to 10 range), the lower right War Mage has Yumil Magna + White Dust (stronger linear/up to 10 range), and the War Mage above him has Meteor Gate and Spark Edge (up to 7/up to 9). Finally, the last remaining Mage (to the left of that group, to the right of Ernest) has Fire Raid and Ignite Lore and is comedically ineffective.

All of them have Magic Guard.

The stage is cramped enough that enemy Oratoriorae is actually a problem. Watch out.

Clotho is pretty much the same as last time. That said, the stage makes her a bit scarier, because there's more long-range firepower and less space to maneuver. If she hits someone, the enemy can likely exploit the resulting Glass, and the results won't be pretty.

Unfortunately, Ernest has remembered Magna Volt exists. Up to 10 range on a small stage could be a problem, especially with no Naji to solve it. Storm Rave has up to 14 range, even if it's restricted to its X-shape; make sure you don't wander into it accidentally.

Finally... Remember how this game has been mercifully devoid of NPCs to protect for, oh, the last twenty stages?


Remember how quickly Alberich went down last map? He's surrounded by mages and Swordsmen, on a small stage, and controlled by the AI. His life expectancy is measured more in "turn" than "turns," and you need to get Yumiluna to him to recruit him.

I did say "Recruit." Alberich is the final recruit here, concluding our roster. He joins in his third class, and he can be quite useful... Provided you can manage to recruit him. That can be problematic. He has two turns, tops -- and if you can't kill the Meteor Gate War Mage on turn 1, then you don't even have two.

And if you talked to him with Serdic instead, or didn't talk to him, or didn't even unlock chapter 19, then apparently death is better than joining up. He has strange priorities, and that makes him very easy to miss.

It should be noted that this stage is actually impossible to complete if you don't bring a mage or an archer, since the starting Meteor Gate War Mage won't move from his nook and it's a kill-em-all map. I don't know why you'd do that, though, and three of the mages are mandatory recruits.

There's just one conversation this map, but it's an important one.

Serdic and Aegil

I told you... We keep going until we've stamped out all desire to oppose us.

How I feel doesn't enter into it.
For Marie, then? Or are you doing this for someone else, unknown to me?

To bring peace to the continent.
That's not what I'm asking you.

Your sins?
Marie died because of my own weakness. There had to have been another way...

That wasn't your fault.
It was no one else's. I'll repent... I want forgiveness for killing Marie. Then, too, I've done nothing but lie since that murder. I seek forgiveness for that as well.
You seek forgiveness. I see.

There's one minor direction quibble here -- they should have had Serdic's portrait vanish after his last line, to better denote that Aegil is talking to herself -- but other than that? This is my favorite conversation in the game. Timing, characters, content... There's a lot I like about it.

For once, I'm not going to explain a hidden part of this conversation. I'm pretty sure Serdic's figured something out, and that means he isn't being completely honest here, but it touches on Route A material. All the information you need is within Route B itself (stage 20 onward), but I'm reluctant to confirm anything that's going to be shown outright later. That said, feel free to speculate; speculation doesn't fall under the spoiler policy (unless you've played Route A). If no one figures it out by the appropriate point, I'll return to this then.

For now, let's return to the stage.

Thankfully, between the back attack, Duelist, and his own raw attack power, Serdic can kill this Swordsman. That alone makes this much, much easier.

The number one priority is this War Mage. Meteor Gate hits really, really damn hard, and I want none of that.

...well, bugger me sideways. Remember what I said about their damage reduction? He also has Magic Guard.

On the plus side, I used Abyss Gate 4, so Seven Menace 4 will do the job. On the other hand, I've just lost this attempt -- +1 reset. I carry on to get information about Alberich's movements, then I start over.

Answer: He twiddles his thumbs until the enemy kills him with a giant space rock. Oh, that wacky AI.

Alberich won't move, ever, for any reason, until he's recruited or dies. It helps keep him alive, but not as much as running towards you would.

Moving on!

Margus's position here is the end of the closer Swordsman's attack range. I don't want him killing Yumiluna; that would be inconvenient.

Margus will get pegged with a Yumil Magna if he's here, but, well...

Not very worried. He's losing 7 HP a turn after regen.

Alberich? Please invest in actual armor. Thanks in advance.

This path keeps Alhambra out of the path of Yumil Magna and out of range of Meteor Gate, as well as avoiding attacks from the Swordsmen.

It also clears a space next to Yumiluna, and Holy Favor works on allied NPCs.

You're Miss Yumiluna, from Verona.
It seems to be my turn to save you now, Albreth.
That's Alberich... I couldn't rescue you last time, and now you've saved me twice. The first time was in Verona.
Oh, you needn't be so modest. Valen is witness to everyone's good works, regardless of nationality.
I-I wasn't trying to be modest...

Don't "teehee" me.
No "ahaha"s, either.
The important thing is, what will you do now?
What will I do...? I don't have an easy answer for that one.
I, for one, would be thrilled if you decided to come with us.
Well... I do need to get to Emperor Guass somehow. And I'm still in your debt for saving my life. Let us work together, then.

And then Alberich goes yellow. Now you have my permission to die, Alberich.

The two magic users near Serdic have short-ranged AOE spells; they're not a problem.

The correct move here, in most situations, would be to Oratoriorae the enemies to Aegil's left. But what's life without a little risk?

(Answer: In most cases, longer.)

This may kill in two hits, but I want that Meteor Gate user dead soonest.

Oh, hey! I guess he had a lower Magic Guard level.

When I said you had permission to die, Alberich, I was being facetious. You didn't have to interpret it as an order. I mean, I do appreciate the assist on the two weakened enemies, but...


Clotho's been retreating the last couple of turns. I think she's going to end up running past Ernest before I'm done with this stage.

I've missed being able to do dumb things with Holy Favor. Laser Pope makes up for it, but I'm still a little sad, you know?

Unfortunately, Yumiluna's out of gas now. She's only level 24.

Another clean kill. Duelist is great on the Cold Monarch.

Aegil's in position to nuke another Swordsman.

Honestly, Margus isn't doing much this stage. I don't want to let any of the melee units hit me, and they all have Null ZOC anyway. He can tank a spell or two, but so can Serdic, and Serdic's better at it.

This was Storm Rave against Aegil. High Magic + Amulets + Magic Guard at work, folks.

Seven Sins 3 is kind of wasted on a random Mage, but it's what I've got, and I need him dead.

Seven Menace kills.

I mess around for a few turns while Aegil nukes down the Sedna Prison War Mage.

Then I go for it. I have a clever plan!

Okay, yeah, this is totally doable.

With the charge from this kill, Serdic can Seven Sins Ernest to finish him off. The rest is smooth sailing from there.

Alberich... argh!

No teleporting away, no strategic retreats. Ernest is well and truly dead now, and good riddance.

Alhambra goes after the surviving Mage. Everyone else is going after Clotho.

Igraine took one High Priest down with Seven Menace, Aegil will get the other with Oratoriorae. No one's left to exploit Glass, so I'm not worried about Number 13.

Least I get to die... At home...

There's one conversation I missed by virtue of Alberich's suicidal streak. Getting it effectively requires not recruiting Alberich until you've cleared out every non-Clotho target.

Whoa... Look who's joined the Divine Empire.
I don't need to hear that from someone so instrumental to the Empire's decline.
Well, there's no denying that. But if you know that much about me... You must know that I don't hold back, even against allies, right?
Good. I got nothing personal against traitors, but you die here and now, Alberich!

Speaking of traitors... Despite their history, Owl has nothing to say to Clotho (or vice versa) in this stage.

Unfortunately, we don't get the special Green Ring or Red Ring items that Clotho and Ernest were carrying.

They're walking corpses. Mephreyu probably made them.
Yes... although his way of doing it is rather crude.

"Movements are crude, behavior is clumsy, subjects adhere too strongly to zombie cliche. 6/10; please try harder in future."
I think he had a laboratory around here somewhere...
Can you tell me where it is?
Of course.
Good. Let's hurry to the lab.

That's the end of the chapter. First, though, let's talk about our final recruit!

Alberich doesn't really seem all that impressive. Attack is pretty okay, defense is mediocre (not that that matters very much, what with Amulets), Magic is bad, HP is bad... If you're comparing him to Serdic or Margus, he comes up short. He does come with another Black Ring, which is nice, but we're at the point where "+1 move or a Topaz Amulet" is usually decided in favor of the Topaz Amulet.

The more accurate comparison is to Alhambra, though.

The skills you see listed here are all he has, plus three active skills (that you won't use, because they're active skills). With those skills, he can immediately master Sprint and Null ZOC. That still isn't that impressive, though. Sure, he's probably better than Owl or Rukia, but... Ehh.

I said Alhambra was a "more accurate" comparison, though. It isn't the most accurate one. The most accurate comparison is actually to Naji.

Remember how I said you can't see the range of linear attacks? Well, that means you're just going to have to trust me on this, but...

Ragnarok Dusk is 13 spaces long. The attack modifier is apparently 3.5, between Brave Ray and Seven Sins. The OB damage formula bypasses Class Modifier and skill defenses, so it's always going to do that much damage.

Leave it to me!

Like Naji, you collect OB with Alberich and then use it to blow the hell out of something. Unlike Naji, Alberich can hit multiple targets, so he can be better at gaining that meter, and he can kill multiple targets at once -- but unlike Naji, Alberich can't gather meter from complete safety. Alberich is kind of fragile, and without his OB he's really not that impressive. And unlike Naji, he can be screwed over by a lack of a good line to target, because Ragnarok Dusk is strictly linear.

Personally, I like Alhambra better as my fast attacker and Naji better as my OB boss-killer, but Alberich is immediately useful and needs nothing in the way of levels or items to be effective -- he's plug-and-play, and that's perhaps his best quality. He's the closest the game has to a late-game prepromote, and he's a very solid one. If anyone is underperforming, Alberich makes a damn good substitute. Just be careful with him.

Total resets so far: 16 (+1)

Next time:
Across the Darkness