The Let's Play Archive

Rondo of Swords

by Einander

Part 48: Dream's End

Change of plans! Misfit run 6-11 recap should be up Monday, 12-19 Wednesday, with The Fated Hour (A) out on Friday. 6-11 is already finished and written up.

Sometime before then, I'll post a quick "final team status" post for route B.

Mini-Errata update:

Bellmaker posted:

According to the manual, the Green status effect is "cannot be targeted by enemies or affected by support skills. Can only deal half damage to enemy units".

I've never seen this effect, I think it was dummied out.

Double-dummied, even; there are a fair number of dummied skills (Light-elemental resurrection spell, anyone?), but Green is so dummied-out that there's not even a dummied-out skill that inflicts it.

Thank you for that; I lost the manual a long time ago.


Raitzeno posted:

It prevents Green, you say? Well considering we just got the Yellow Ring, it looks like Hal Jordan is completely fucked if we ever run into him.

With no further ado...

Chapter 40: Dream's End

All to the good. Let us finish this.

Even if Alberich wasn't injured, I probably wouldn't take him along. He's not the best-suited for the map ahead.

There's no preparations left to make. Let's get to it.

This just might be the simplest "real" map in the game.

No tricks, no traps. It's just you, Gauss, and your armies.

If you're wondering what the black stuff is, well, it's listed as "???." Which means it's probably the Darkness. That's... not a good sign.

The three Snipers all share Foresight and Vital Strike and each have one third skill. The bottom one has Arrow Guard, the middle one has Stigma (inflicts Leak), top one has True Arrows.

There's an eclectic mix of defensive skills on the Armors, but most of them lack ZOC -- there's just two near the top who have it. Notably, two of them near the top have Number 13, and most of them have Magic Guard.

There's three basic groups of Jousters: The bottom two, the middle two, the top three.

The bottom two have Vital Power, the middle two have Sprint and Arrow Guard, the top three have Magic Guard, and the top two also have Null ZOC. There's a scattered defensive skill or two in addition to those, but none of them are very problematic.

Finally, there's a group of four third-tiers near the top. Watch out for Evil Eye and the rest comes down to stats.

Emperor of Grand Meir, he is a warrior who obtained his position by the sword. Though he is the ruler of his country, he still takes part in battle.

Finally, we have Gauss. If you wondered why the Grands never dropped their Rings, well, now you know why.

The Anrah Sword, the Sword of Darkness, is the only weapon in the game stronger than the restored Holy Blade, at +70 Attack, +95% Accuracy, and 5% critical compared to the Holy Blade's +65 Attack, +35% Accuracy and 0% critical. Gauss has a nasty inherent hidden skill too -- all of his counter attacks automatically critical, bringing them up to 1.5 defense-ignoring damage. Thankfully, he doesn't have Karma Strike, so his counters are merely "very dangerous" instead of "likely to one-shot you." A counter followed by a normal attack will definitely do it, though.

I'll cover Gauss in more detail later.

Just three conversations left.

Selmer and Arios

Incredible... The Darkness actually has a physical form.
Master! This is no time to be dumbstruck!
Whyever not? Listen... A magician who ceases to be inquisitive should hang up his robes.
That's true, but...
It's only natural for me to be so wrapped up in research that I lose sight of the war... Oof!
Don't make me punch you, Master!
B-But you already did...?

Igraine and Galahad

I wonder if Serdic will be all right...
You believe in him, don't you, Princess? Then I'm sure he'll be just fine.

Naji and Alberich

I can't believe one sword could forge an entire nation...
Emperor Gauss was merely taken in by Mephreyu.
Well, I applaud your loyalty... But in its own way, doesn't take make Gauss an idiot?
...You're right. Master Naji.
Do you know Emperor Gauss personally?

Where did you meet him?
Hey, don't get nosy, now. I'm a free spirit. I don't talk about the past.
I see. Well, whoever you are... Please help me stop Emperor Gauss.
Sure thing. Hell, I'd do it even if you hadn't asked!

My bet is still on "Gauss's son," personally.

Igraine kicks off the level with a fatal Abyss Gate.

Alhambra uses a Hero Gem on Naji (which brings him to 1.5 OB off of a 1 OB item -- Lion Strike 5 must be a 50% boost to OB gain) and Naji kills the top-right Sniper.

Serdic, Margus and Aegil line up. The burnt lines, like the one in front of Aegil, are actually impassable terrain. (??? again.)

They hold the line well.

Serdic kills both of the Jousters Alhambra weakened. Igraine uses Seven Menace on the healthy Armor.

Aegil moves back up to hold the line, Naji attacks from the position she vacated, Margus uses another Hero Gem on Naji. The one Naji attacked has Vital Power, so his attack will keep it at killable levels for Serdic's next turn.

Serdic, Aegil and Alhambra work to clear the field. Margus has to attack the leftmost Armor to actually kill it, because it survived with 30 HP.

Naji's position here will let him use Hero to clear out the last Sniper next turn, assuming it doesn't move.

Snipers eliminated.

(If you push far enough forward before killing this one, he'll be pushed to the central corridor by a map event. I'm not sure why; the map ends when you kill Gauss.)

Aegil's position here lets her hit three different Armors if they don't move.

Alhambra does about 150 without Lateral Blow, 200 with. Serdic does about 170 without Fearless and 250 with. These Armors have 500-600 HP. They're very tough!

I play cautiously with Margus; not being able to hit that big Oratoriorae would be unfortunate.

Then they all moved anyway. Aww.

Champion Gems give 1.25 OB. With Lion Strike 5, it gives 1.875 OB -- enough to carry a Naji who's barely over 0 OB to OB level 2.

Old Reliable strikes again. Sure, she may only be doing about 300, but that's still 100 better than Serdic or Alhambra.

The last Armor in her path has ZOC, so I want him weakened enough for Serdic to kill.

Serdic is in a serious risky position, but he needs to be there to keep Alhambra from dying. I'd rather she not.

Margus doesn't attack the second one because it has ZOC -- I don't want him Crazed, not when he's there to deflect fire from Serdic.

Aegil has 3 OB. I expect I'll need the healing after this.

Contrary to expectations, Margus takes most of the fire -- they keep curving through him in an attempt to hit Serdic's side. Serdic's level 4 ZOC works on these Jousters too. Level 4 might just be all the ZOC you ever need, unless you really want to block Clotho or something.

Also shown: Margus is bad at counter attacks.

This is after Margus's 20% HP regen. He took about 600 HP worth of damage.

This is why I kept Margus around, guys. No one else in the game, Cold Emperor included, can take as much punishment.

Naji and Alhambra team up to assassinate one of the two Troopers. Thankfully, all of the Armors are Crazed now, so they'll be much less threatening this turn.

The 800-HP Guardian doesn't have Magic Guard, so it's a good target for Igraine.

Seriously, counter attacks are awful at damage. These are the same enemies who did about 160 to Margus. They're Crazed now, but still.

That damage to the Jouster is enough to let Margus kill it. He's Crazed, but the enemy's loss of offensive muscle should balance it out, and I expect most of them to target Serdic anyway.

Igraine kills the other Guardian next turn.

The Armor Margus attacks is the only living one with Number 13. Both Serdic and Alhambra are safely in Boost, and Aegil should be too.

Gauss moves towards the party this turn.

First, though, we clean up. We can't eliminate all of his men, but we can defang them.

There are two battle conversations this time, both between Gauss and a party member. I'm fairly sure the Alberich conversation requires defeating Matthias with Alberich in the previous stage, so you're pretty unlikely to see it.

Gauss and Alberich

The last of the Grands has turned on me... I never would have thought it possible.
Your Highness, why have you done this!? You're not the kind of man to heedlessly throw away his life!
You overestimate me, Alberich. I'm a man who gained his position through conquest. I can't afford to lose a battle... Any battle.
So that's why you'll fight to your dying breath.
It's simply who I am. I will defend myself until the very end.
...It was that quality that made me proud to serve under you.
Attack me like you mean it, Alberich. No holding back. If you don't, then there will be no victory in defeating you.
Right. Prepare to receive the full force of my strength!

Gauss and ???

I envy you, Gauss.

Then why have you come this far?
For a promise, I guess.
A promise?

Remember the main Darkness gimmick so far? As you'd expect, Gauss has pretty ridiculous damage reduction:

There's one thing I need to show off now. This version of Gauss is the only route-exclusive boss on Rotue B, and that means that this is your only opportunity to see Apocalypse.

Although, that said, it's basically just Pandemonium again. Lazy.

Gauss will get 3 OB from killing just about anyone, and Apocalypse 3 will kill anyone it hits, no exceptions. When the description of the OverBreak says "drained," it means "drained" -- Apocalypse will also usually heal Gauss right back up to full. Combine this with his damage reduction and Gauss can be very hard to kill. If he takes longer to kill, then he gets more time to proc counters, and his counters hurt. That is basically Gauss's boss design -- he's designed to create a long, drawn out slog that lets him kill someone with counter + attack, use Apocalypse to kill someone and go right up to full, and then do it all again.

Thankfully, it's easy enough to make him use his OB; if he has a charge, he'll use it the moment a target enters his range, and OB kills don't give meter. If you can't kill him before it goes off, then sacrifice someone you won't miss.

The exact range of Apocalypse is four squares in a radial diamond, so any target within four spaces will die.

This includes his allies, in case you can find some cute way to make Gauss kill his entire army. That would be amusing, but it's pretty unlikely.

With all of that in mind, the best strategy is actually quite an unconventional one.

A high-level Serdic is perfectly capable of dueling Gauss down, Holy Blade to Blade of Darkness -- just as always, the Holy Blade pierces the Darkness's protection. Gauss may have the Rings of the three of the Four Grands, but Serdic has Amulets. In many ways, this is much safer than trying to overwhelm him with numbers, because you need to avoid Apocalypse.

It's very simple. Just have Serdic hit Gauss over and over until he stops moving. Between Frontal Blow and Frontal Fury, you're best off attacking him from the front -- Frontal Fury, in particular, defangs him by decreasing his counter rate. Heal if you want, but Serdic doesn't need it, not if you've leveled him properly; his 10% HP regeneration will keep him healthy long enough to win.

That's the power of the Holy Blade for you.

That said, this didn't actually happen. (As even the least astute readers may have seen, what with the unexplained changes in enemy formations.) Serdic's got 3 OB and nothing to prove.

You might remember, way back, that I said "I've never seen anything survive a level 3 Seven Sins except the final boss."

I wasn't kidding.


...Serdic has a big sister to look out for him.

No Red, Green, or Gold Rings for you in Route B, sadly. I'm not sure why; it's not like you can use the Griffin Ring either outside of NG+. Why not just give you all four Rings here?

Total resets for Chapters 1-40B: 16 (+0)

The next scene has voice acting but no special animation, so I've provided an audio file. That said, you should probably read through the rest of the post, finish the ending, and then come back and listen to it. The voice acting is... Obviously not something Atlus prioritized. "I will not say I had no choice" was pretty well-done. This is not, and the voice acting may be distracting.

(I'm curious as to what the Japanese audio here sounded like, but, alas, I am not quite curious enough to spend twenty hours playing through in Japanese.)

Listen to this (afterward).

I cannot! I will not die here! Sword of Darkness... Grant me more power!
What's happening!?

The above disclaimer was prompted largely by Arios's voice acting, because damn.
Run, Serdic!
I can't. I can't just leave everything like this. That's what the Holy Blade is telling me...
Please, Serdic! Come back!

What are you doing, Igraine!?
You can't die, Serdic! What will happen to Bretwalde?

No... You can't...!
But I promised.

I considered leaving the update here for tomorrow. Then I decided that I'm not a jerk. (Or, at the very least, not that kind of jerk.)

How was Igraine able to use the Holy Blade? Is the "holy blood only" restriction only for safe use of the blade, or does Igraine also contain both Light and Darkness?

Igraine died as she lived: Raising half a dozen questions and answering very few of them.

Narrator: The war that began in 382 drew in the entire continent... And culiminated in the collapse of the Grand Meir Empire. But the war left tremendous scars on the land. Afterward, Serdic gathered each nation's leader, and signed a treaty witnessed by Pope Aegil. After the Council of Bravord, the various kings and feudal lords emerged... ...Bearing a proclamation of peace that they read before the people. Divine Emperor Serdic was one of these.

But it took much effort to make it this far, and many lives were lost. How did the Holy King's peace decay? Who can we blame for this? The answer is no one person, but all of us. And so we must remember the people who died for our sins. The things they built, the legacies they left unfulfilled. We must hold than do this.

And the Emperor who broke that peace once ruled a small nation beneath anyone's notice. I am like them... No one is born knowing what they want to become. A king may abdicate his throne...

As for my hope... My wish... I promise you this. In the name of the Divine Empire of Bretwalde, I will continue to protect Bravord's peace.

I love when people tell the truth and let others misinterpret it. Used to be that he'd spend every waking moment afraid that his identity would be revealed. Now he's saying (to those in the know), "Yes, I'm not Serdic. And...?"

Our boy's come a long way, hasn't he?

Oh, Aegil smugface, how I have missed you.

By the way, Aegil.
You see... That is...
What is it? You're a man -- spit it out already!

It's something you mentioned before...
Sh-Shut up!

Have you found your answer? Can you forgive yourself?

I see...
My burden will only grow heavier, not lighter. But I'm too greedy to let any of it go.
I honestly don't know if I can maintain peace in the world.

It was nothing. So... do you have an answer for me, Aegil?
Ahahah... You know my answer.
I want to hear you say it.

Nothing would make me happier.
Now, let's go.
Go? Where?

Hurry along now, Serdic!


And that was Route B! Thank you for joining me, all of you. I hope to see you soon with Route A!