Part 70: Land Of IceChapter 37: Land of Ice
A remarkable place, isn't it? It's positively overflowing with the power of the elements. I could make some real headway into my research here... Could I ask something of you? When this is over, will you leave this place unsealed, that I might investigate it more fully? I'll make it up to you in any way you want. I'm begging you!
Out of the question!
Despite the open description, there's no real ambush. At no point does anyone act surprised about the enemies. Kind of weird!
As you saw last time, Alicia died and is therefore Hurt, halving all base stats. Hey, it gives me a reason to focus on Divine Seal. Not complaining (much). Marie learns Wisdom Lock 4. Selmer will probably pick up the same next map.
Objective is the same as last time. It's both easier and harder to fulfill the stated objective this time around. And, like last time, this map is a little complicated to show piecemeal. Big map!
You start at the up staircase, just below the center of the level. To your left is an Armor with Invoke Might, Stand Fast and ZOC and a War Mage with White Dust.
All of the War Mages have one Ice spell this level, with no other spells equipped. You may have noticed that they were predominantly Fire last time, too, with some Darkness mixed in. Gimmicks!
This Guardian is hiding in the lower-left corner for some reason. I'm not sure why; he's pretty badass by mook standards.
Every High Priest in the level has Cure Drop and only Cure Drop. (Well, aside from the incidental spellcasting skills I never mention.) The Armor is the same as the one below, and the War Mage has Yumil Magna.
All of the Armors on the right side are kitted for anti-magic, packing Invoke Might, Magic Guard and Vital Power. From the bottom, the War Mages have Yumil Magna, Sedna Prison, White Dust, White Dust, and White Dust.
There are no enemies in the area above your starting position where the two sides join together.
Left wing of the top. Left two Armors have the Magic Guard skill set, middle one has the ZOC skill set. From the left, the War Mages have White Dust, White Dust, Sedna Prison.
Right wing of the top. All of the Armors are anti-magic.
The bad news: There's a lot of mages. Most of the armors are heavily magic-resistant. The icicles and the winding path make progress pretty slow, and the enemies are in a much better position to use that. All of the terrain has defensive penalties -- all of it.
The good news: There's no slowing terrain. About 90% of those mages suck -- White Dust is a bad spell, no ifs ands or buts about it, and Alicia is neutered enough by Hurt that she'll spend most of the map applying and reapplying Divine Seal. Fighting so many enemies with Magic Guard sucks, but Selmer has a good shot of killing through it. While the defensive penalties on the floor may be worrying, terrain doesn't apply to magic; in practice, it doesn't affect you much unless you're dumb about fighting the ZOC-users. Finally, most of the level is narrow corridors. If I really wanted to, Selmer and Marie could cheese the hell out of this stage.
Fortunately for the difficulty curve, they're slow and that's really boring. At least there are very few ZOC armors here.
There's four conversations this time, but the two Alicia conversations are mutually exclusive; if you see one, you can't see the other this run. Which is odd, because only one of them should exclude the other... Oh well.
Altrius and Selmer
I never imagined that such massive elemental power could be stably contained...
Not even by you?
Even Almeria's magicians have to be concentrated in sufficient numbers to change the weather. You can't comprehend the massive scale of the elements' power. No one man could handle it. To change the environment itself--
You'd need an act of God?
They're not comfortable with such phrasing in Almeria.
So for better or worse, they're self-made men, eh?
Exactly, Master Altrius... With the emphasis on "worse."
Marie and Rukia
What's the matter, Rukia?
I wonder if this place was made by magic... I bet it'd be worth a lot if you could figure it out.
Is attaining money always at the forefront of your thoughts, Rukia?
Marie, I'm not sure she has a "forefront." That implies there's something else in there.
It's who I am, that's all. If I ever stopped thinking about money, I just wouldn't be me.
I see... Well, you're not wrong. You could undoubtedly make a great deal of money if you were able to unlock this place's secrets. But I'd say the only one who stands a chance at that is Master Arios.
Is he that amazing!? Maybe he and I should become a little closer...
I love you, Marie. You're the best.
...okay, actually, you're about in a tie for number two. But that's only because you have very strong competition!
Alicia and Kay
Are you all right? If you want, I can ask Master Altrius to let us rest.
Are you saying I should stay behind and warm myself? Do I seem that weak to you?
Hmph. Always so condescending. I can't believe you still treat me like a helpless little girl, as if we were still children.
Good time to remind you, dear audience: Kay is 22. Alicia is 17. By most reasonable definitions, they were unlikely to know each other at a time they were both "children." I think the writers or the translators forgot how old they are.
I'm more worried about you now than I ever was back then.
In any case, if you're going to be on the front lines, you should wear something a bit warmer. You don't want your bones to freeze in the middle of a battle.
It's not like she's going to magically grow a coat in the middle of a battle, Kay. It has to come from somewhere, and I'm pretty sure she'd be wearing something warmer if she had it. You're being a dick.
Alicia and Margus
It doesn't help that the last cave left us drenched in sweat... Here, this might make you somewhat warmer. I apologize if it's a little rank, though.
Heheh... It smells like you.
Why so talkative suddenly...?
On one hand, I like this conversation, because it's a pretty good depiction of boundary testing, and little stuff like this helps to highlight the quasi-parental way Margus interacts with Alicia. She's messing with him, seeing what she can get away with, and he's having none of it. On the other hand, it's a little weird to depict this kind of boundary-testing behavior when she's 17 and has been governing a nation for years. Kind of infantilizing, isn't it?
On the other hand, she also hasn't seen him for years and people don't always act their age...
Before starting for real, I decided to try something out of curiosity. I was only writing up through the stage conversations anyway, so why not experiment? The Armor to Marie's left is just in range of Oratoriorae, but Altrius is there as well. Will he survive if she casts it?
That said, this highlights the damage resistance enemies get around this point:
Altrius has 439 HP, twice as much magic, and +72 defense in Amulets. He took MORE than 439 damage, because all RoS damage caps at current HP. Between Marie's much higher magic stat (easily three times the Armor's) and the +spell damage bonuses from Invoke Mind and Wisdom Lock, she should be doing over 600 to the Armor.
On one hand, it means that the enemies remain a threat, and since the Holy Blade is special, that damage resistance helps Altrius stay competitive. On the other hand, eyeballing damage in Rondo is already pretty opaque, and throwing in more invisible factors means you may as well not bother.
Selmer takes out a War Mage, Altrius moves out of the way, Marie weakens an Armor.
Everyone presses forward. I didn't want to let the Armor attack anyone, but... Thinking about it, I could have pushed everyone left of Marie forward one more square. Oops.
Divine Seal on turn two and we're off.
Duelist pays off again, as does her higher natural mobility. Sasha's acquitted herself pretty well over this Misfit Run!
Not much else this turn. I think Izuna's going to be playing ferry again. Should have had Marie out in for better teleport chains...
Oh, and I forgot to check just where the Yumil Magna War Mage was this turn. He's directly above the empty space between Izuna and Sasha. Not getting hit with that spell was basically just dumb luck.
This level is kind of boring to start. They really should have done more with the right side enemies; as it is, they look ready to snipe you, then you run away and they go "oh shucks."
Unless you split your forces or go south, I guess. But why in the hell would you do that?
Ten'i Slip for MVP! And Izuna's pretty cool too, I guess.
Note that Selmer can one-shot enemies right through their damage reduction. It's kind of ridiculous.
Especially since it might just be 50% reduction straight -- Sasha's Tiger Fangs level 1 is three times her strength and ignores defense, and that means it should do about 280 damage right now.
Sometimes I really wish the game didn't cap displayed damage at max HP. I wonder how long it would have taken for Selmer to hit 999?
I'm betting on the Holy Blade's ability to pierce enemy damage reduction.
Okay, he kills the War Mage, that's great, but...
Why did that High Priest just stand there? She has Cure Drop, and enemies can definitely heal themselves. That's weird.
In other inexplicable news, that Guardian in the bottom left corner's just hanging out. I think I'm going to live and let live there.
Moving moving moving moving...
...man, this map is really boring so far, isn't it? None of the enemies have moved at all. They don't move after this turn, either.
Seriously, I've got nothing.
(oh thank goodness, something to talk about)
I moved Marie two squares less distance last turn than I could have, so as to block off Izuna's left side. Since the space above her is a wall, ZOC order teleports Selmer to her right. Sasha and Altrius moved back both so Selmer could reach the tunnel and so they'd be in a better formation for Divine Seal.
No one gets in Selmer's way. I think we've already established that Yumil Magna can murder right through 50% damage reduction.
And that's the last of the ZOC Armors down!
Maybe they'll attack NOW.
And they... actually do? Wow. Finally!
The Guardian begins to move, and the High Priest seems to realize -- rather belatedly -- that she's bleeding out and should probably heal herself.
High Priests have more HP, so they're better left to Altrius (and man, it's weird to say that).
Can you even refresh Divine Seal? I don't know! Let's find out.
Oh no! A pincer attack! Quick, everyone run through this narrow corridor! Selmer, you're slow, so make sure you bring up the rear! We are very definitely running in terror right now!
BEHOLD, WHITE DUST
(Okay, to be fair, the visible damage is just the last hit, she has 50% damage reduction and she's Izuna. But still, goddamn, we are about three stages from the end. DO NOT GIVE MAGES WHITE DUST, GAME DEVS)
The enemies on the right side, near the exit, still aren't moving for some reason.
Oh god, run faster Selmer!
(Seriously, White Dust is just sad)
No, Selmer! Don't be distracted by those random enemies! There's no time!
Marie weakens the lower Armor, Fearlessness lets Izuna take it out, Duelist lets Altrius kill the Armor that remains.
If you somehow couldn't decipher my awful attempt at maintaing kayfabe here...
...the War Mage, at least, is quite aware that the narrow corridor + line spell = Death Valley, and he's having none of it.
So Selmer kills the enemies and stays to stand sentinel over the tunnel, while the others advance.
While the magic users understand the threat, the Armors are completely oblivious. Situationally appropriate artificial stupidity? That's actually kind of clever! They can barely survive a Selmer Yumil Magna, too... Which might actually be why they charge like that.
I hope not. I like my theory better.
I still don't consider it very good, but when every enemy has massive damage reduction, you can definitely find uses for (3.5*attack-defense)*2 damage.
If I had used Ten'i Slip one time less, I could have ended the map one turn earlier by bringing Altrius forward and then using it, but Izuna's out of MP -- she's only got enough for three, even at her level.
(Shino's higher MP and Sprint are pretty much the argument for using her. Her actual attacks are gravy.)
Either way, that extra turn isn't very interesting. I don't even bother to finish off the last Armor in the way.
Despite the name, the Storm Medal doesn't reduce damage from lightning -- that might make it useful. No, it's anti-Ice. We may never see another Ice spell this playthrough.
Total resets since chapter 20: 4 (+0)
Next time: Sky of Lightning