Part 45: New Game+Here, have this update a little early.
Reminder: There's a vote at the end of this update.
Bonus: Chapter One, New Game+ Version
You might remember that I mentioned that the ending choice in chapter 37 really is a full ending by the game's standards. Accordingly, clearing it gives you the right to create a New Game+ file.
New Game+ does not change the dialogue or stages. It does, however, come with a few changes.
The most noticeable lies with your starting three characters. Serdic, Margus and Kay are special, and they have their own mechanic in New Game+.
Namely, all three characters have complete inheritance of skills and equipment from the last game. They keep all learned and available skills from all classes, and they keep all unspent skill points. Margus may be unpromoted, but he has Royal Aegis skills to learn if he so chooses. Kay, meanwhile, does not have his own tier 3 skills. And since they're back to starting levels, they have all of those skill points to gain and use again! This is as hilariously broken as it sounds, and it's the only way for Serdic to gain access to his full skill set.
They do not, however, keep class features or Card skills; Serdic has lost his 10% HP regen, and he won't get it back unless he promotes to Cold Monarch.
This also means that Serdic is currently wearing over 70 points of amulets. Margus and Kay have about 54 each, with Margus keeping his Black Ring and Kay getting an Angel Medal, since he can't activate his own Will of War. Between his amulets and his skills, Serdic is kind of a tiny god right now.
Kay got countered. Oh, Kay and your wacky incompetence!
My complete lack of fear is merited:
Calling most of this stage a "fight" is rather generous.
There's no alley shenanigans this time. I beat Alberich's group because I can take them in a straight fight.
If you're doing NG+, you should try to give Margus and Kay most of the levels. Serdic doesn't really need them, so you may as well maximize his growth.
In theory, I could attack Gauss now. In practice, that's a really bad idea. Among other reasons, Ernest drops his Green Ring here.
The formation here makes this the first actually dangerous part of the stage. No one in this party has Null ZOC, so ZOC Armors in a narrow alleyway are actually a problem. If we charge anyone other than Margus up there, they're toast. Margus will survive one turn, but two is right out.
Good thing the War Mages move and the Armors stay still, huh? It's a good idea to deal with the chasing Armors and Guardian now, while the War Mages are trickling down from behind the defensive lines.
Turtling a turn to get the Armors lined up for Brave Ray. I burn a Champion Gem to get to 2 OB. Why not?
Huh. Guess they finally figured out the whole "laser sword" thing.
Even with all of these amulets, the War Mages vastly overlevel this party. If I charged Margus in right now he'd survive a turn, but it wouldn't be pretty.
Losing the constant passive heal is a drag -- it means death of a thousand cuts is still a threat. Thankfully, item inheritance includes equipped healing items.
He'll regenerate 80 HP, so even if he doesn't kill the three he'll be hitting next turn, he'll be moving out of the way of the fourth spellcaster during the attack.
Okay, that works. Margus is at 7.53 experience now.
Margus kills the last remaining Mage. Serdic and Kay take down the Armors.
Serdic has 3 OB, so he moves down toward Clotho, Matthias and Gauss. The Guardian decides that Serdic be damned, Margus's 99 MC makes him a more interesting target.
These three are very passive. It's safe to move down and around them in most cases.
Well, don't think you've seen the last of me...
Something I forgot to point out last time:
The Knight Medal is one of the rarest items in the game, and it's generally acquirable only in a Quest completionist run. Matthias has two. I'm not sure why, considering he's usually stationary...
Matthias is freakishly sturdy.
By the way: I didn't actually do this. This is why:
This is with Melee Guard 5 and about +80 defense. New Game+ or not, you do not fuck with Gauss. OBs are safe, but direct attacks will make him Game Over you.
Ernest is next. He'll cast Magna Volt once and then cast Spark Edge three times or so again. Most of the threat is in his number of mages; individually he's little problem.
Damn you, Alberich, for driving men like this my way!
Just how much does he hate Alberich, anyway? Damn, man.
Anyway, Serdic has 2 OB, so it's time to trek all the way back to Gauss and Matthias.
AND IT STILL DOESN'T KILL HIM
If you're doing this in a first run, it can take as many as four Brave Rays to kill Matthias. It's agonizing.
Thankfully, I loaded up Margus with a few Hero and Champion Gems before this, so I don't have to run back and forth and back and forth...
I leave the rest to you.
The Gold Ring is the big reason to do this at all. +50% HP is absurd, especially for characters without Invoke Life. Remember how Aegil has almost 400 HP at her current level? Between her high growth and Vital Power, she's one of the better users. Or you can just stick it on Margus and regenerate nearly 200 HP every turn.
I still do run over and kill the Scouts and Swordsman for a few more OB, though.
A level 2 Brave Ray, a level 1 Brave Ray, and an attack from both Margus and Kay.
The after-stage dialogue is the same.
As shown, you keep all of your items and accessories. Also shown here is the Griffin Ring obtained by defeating Gauss.
There's something else I need to show off, so I blaze through this stage real quick.
I don't know what the hell is up with the turn requirement if NG+ invincible "CHARGE AND MURDER EVERYTHING" gets me a Victory. Weird. It's possible that a low ranking in the first stage penalizes you afterward; they probably don't want you getting high ranks for overleveling and getting out-of-depth items in your first stage.
Anyway, here's a look at Serdic's skill screen to show off the inheritance.
Here, meanwhile, is Selmer's skill screen.
Your eyes have doubtlessly jumped to the big, noticeable thing: Selmer has 99 skill points. The other big thing is the presence of Task Master, a skill Selmer usually learns at level 12. He's level 5.
NG+ gives all recruited units (possibly only the ones recruited last game, but I'm not sure) 99 skill points and removes the level locks on their skills. If a class has a skill, then they have it.
You might remember that Marie, Cotton, Shino and Izuna all start in their final classes.
Sure, she may only have the MP to cast it once, and that's with every +MP ring I have. Mages need to keep their spells at a level that's still reasonable to cast, though that's only really relevant to NG+. But it's the principle of the thing!
It's worth noting that while Marie doesn't have the exact confluence of factors that makes Oratoriorae so massively useful on Aegil -- high movement, surprisingly good durability, sky-high MC to boost her OB gain rate and experience gain, a +experience skill, Great Blessing -- she does have an OB that's basically a full-screen Great Blessing. She'll probably need two Oratoriorae uses to hit OB3, while Aegil generally only needs one, but Marie hits the entire scree with hers. Aegil's is more useful for leveling, but reliable access to Marie's level 3 OB makes her an absolutely incredible healer... If she has Oratoriorae.
Which she generally doesn't, because it's a level 45 skill. Marie spends a lot of time using Holy Favor, and that really slows down her leveling. Laser Princess Marie is a last-minute thing, even if you refuse to use Holy Favor. New Game+ completely eliminates this restriction, and Marie's low starting MP is the only thing that keeps it from being utterly ridiculous.
Especially since it's an ultimate level spell when your next-most impressive offense is White Dust.
Of the characters who actually promote, Arios probably receives the biggest improvement from NG+, thanks to getting Ars Magna the moment he promotes. 130% spell strength, 70% spell cost. And if you didn't use the Heretic Seal in your last game, he can do it the moment he hits level 30!
With that done, it's time for the second big vote of the thread!
How should I handle Route A?
Are you here for the game's writing? The gameplay? Both?
Here's a variety of options. I'd include more, but most of my ideas get more and more gimmicky.
1) Continue from the original run's stage 19. This may be a little samey, but hey, I have a save there. It'll mean the shortest interval between the end of Route A and the start of Route B, and you'll have the best idea of how it compares to Route B. If nothing else, I can swap Cotton in more often, and I'll definitely use the route-exclusive character; they're both pretty great.
2) New Game+. If you really don't care about the gameplay, then this'll make updates easier on me, but I imagine filler stages will be even more boring than usual. I wouldn't recommend this.
3) Team voting. Note that I'm going to restrict this a little if it wins -- Serdic and Marie will be locks, and I'll require that at least one other mage be brought along. I'll let you vote on the other three slots. There are four reasons I didn't do this the first time around: 1) You can't rotate characters by stage, because 2) you need to invest time and resources into characters, and someone underleveled is useless, 3) this means planning, so voting would basically require that I spoil the entire roster at the beginning of the game, and 4) I was worried that I'd hit a roadblock in the before-20 stages. The end of amulet scarcity makes post-20 stages much less of a problem.
I'm probably going to skip to stage 19 and only do a highlight reel if this wins, but it'll still take me a week or two to actually get there, especially if the characters chosen give me trouble. But I don't need to do "kill everything" runs or document it turn-by-turn, so I'm sure I'll muddle through it somehow. I'll make sure to post quick summaries of who can do what if this wins, because how many of you actually remember Simon?
4) Misfit Run. Any character who was used in the party last time is banned from long-term use. By used, I mean "chosen," not "used to fill the deployments slots" -- Margus, Ansom, Cotton, Alhambra, Igraine, Aegil, Naji or Alberich (if available) will be used sparingly if at all (when I have a choice). Marie does not count. Playing Route A without using Marie is like playing through Route B and refusing to use Seven Sins. Like the above, I'll skip to stage 19. Mind, I expect 3 and 4 work out to roughly the same thing, but maybe you guys really Ansom back or something.
5) Minimalist/Quest run. Only mandatory recruits + Cotton, Elmer and Rukia, and only Igraine and Arios get to promote. Fair warning: This is pretty much just going to be Mage Power Hour, since only Serdic, Marie, Cotton, Igraine and Arios will ever reach their full potential. Four mage party! (Margus is a lock for the sixth slot.) As above, this run will skip to stage 19. Be aware that this means I have to guess on facial expressions in conversations -- if I can't recruit someone, then I don't know if Serdic's expression is
when he's talking to them. There are a fair number of characters with multiple expressions, and no expressions means a fair bit of lost nuance. I have a script, but the script doesn't include emoting, so... Fair warning!
6) Your suggestion. Anything I'm leaving out?
Voting will last for four days, until the uploading of Chapter 39. Bold your votes. Route B ends on Chapter 40. We're very close! Thank you for reading, all of you.