Part 3: Long Ago in Razril (II)
Welcome to the second tutorial battle. This time we have something resembling a proper party and normal battle conditions, so it's much more interesting to look at. And it has different music to boot. Effort!
A second tutorial pops up in this battle, and this time I'm going to let it explain a couple of things.
Suikoden Tactics posted:
You can change terrain elements by using skills, magic, or items. Each unit also has an affinity for an element that it is best at using: , , , , or .
A unit on its +Affinity element recovers health and enjoys stronger abilities. But on its -Affinity element, it will take damage and its abilities wane.
Each of the five elements has a -Affinity. For , it's ; for , it's ; for , it's ; for , it's ; for , it's .
If you remember the ship battles in Suikoden IV (but no one will blame you if you don't), the relationship between the elements remains the same.
Speaking of elemental powers, the green blob thing in the shot above is an elemental - in this case a wind elemental. These are technically enemies in the sense that they count for "destroy all enemies" maps, but they are entirely harmless, though their existence may still be helpful or harmful. They will move about randomly, leaving a trail of their own terrain effect behind. In this case, we have two characters with wind affinities - Seneca and Lazlo - who will benefit from this terrain, while Walter, who is Earth aligned, will want to avoid it.
This is the big feature of Suikoden Tactics' battle system. Both player characters and enemies can influence the terrain in several ways. Elemental spells change it as they take effect, you can use special items, and even some unites may change the terrain. The bonus - or penalty - for standing on the right - or wrong - terrain is quite noticeable. Learning to work this to your advantage is the key to victory!
Since we conveniently have access to Seneca's preferred terrain, we'll take the opportunity to park her on it for a nice boost. Note the number of sweatdrops and haloes here - Seneca is an archer and has an attack range of 2-3, unlike the rest of the group who can only attack targets on adjacent squares.
Seneca, too, hits twice with her attack, but in her case it's due to a skill. I'll go over skills in more detail once we've finished up here and can enter the menus.
Walter is just two levels higher than the kids, but on other hand he's also three times their level. His damage output is suitably impressive. He actually lands three hits here for a total of 49 damage; this poor furball would have disintegrated even if they game didn't make them dissolve when they die.
Kyril isn't much older than Snowe or Lazlo, but his stats are hax to the max. He comes with MP up to level three and can use the full power of his personal rune from the word go. This rune is unique to Kyril and can't be removed, but you probably wouldn't want to even if you could.
The Swallow Rune is our first physical attack rune, and it allows Kyril some interesting options. The first level skill lets him throw his weapon - something quite similar to that thing Serge uses in Chrono Cross, basically a kayak paddle with an edge put on it by some person of questionable sanity. This hits a target up to three squares away for 0.8 times Kyril's normal attack damage, but it will only hit the first available target in its line of fire - here he can only hit the closest furball, even though the one behind it is also within range.
The damage isn't great, but acceptable for a level one kid. He'll finish it next round.
The second level spell allows Kyril to attack all squares surrounding him (eight total) for half damage, and the third is a single target attack for triple (!) damage. I show it off in the video if you're impatient to see it.
Andarc accompanies Walter to the other side of the map, away from the wind elemental. The first level spell from each elemental rune is a terrain effect - Lightning Force turns the terrain over a plus-shaped area (five squares) lightning elemental. Thunder Runner is an attack spell.
It's somewhat unusual in that it hits one target for major damage and does minor damage to surrounding tiles. This also changes the terrain in the area - it wouldn't be completely idiotic to have Andarc hit himself with the "side effects", since it would put him on his native terrain, and thus he'd probably heal the damage right back, as well as taking less damage from any attacks he might eat during the enemies' turns. However, there's a slight chance that this will backfire, too - note the Add Efct window at the bottom. Lightning effects generally have a chance to stun people, which makes them unable to act for a short while.
The furball goes down. Lightning elemental terrain is purple.
In addition to his rune, Kyril also comes with the Parry skill, which is somewhat rare. This will negate damage and may unbalance the opponent if it triggers. Unbalance makes you defenceless until your next turn - you can't evade or counter attacks. In this image he has also triggered the Counterattack skill, which does exactly what it sounds like. The furball won't live long enough to recover from that unbalance.
Let's take a closer look at the elemental. Since they cannot attack, these things make pretty nice punching bags for low level characters to grind on. I had Snowe and Lazlo poke it a bit, and now Snowe is about to finish it off.
When you kill en elemental...
...it "explodes", covering the ground around it in the appropriate elemental terrain. This deals no damage, but if we had killed it with Walter, he would have ended his turn on disadvantageous terrain, which would have caused damage.
I don't think I brought this up during the S4 LP, but you have no idea how Mad About Video Games I was at them for removing the "these are your status increases" screen when you level up. But now they've brought it back again! And the characters will have a little comment about it when it happens.
Note that Snowe's luck stat is still utterly abysmal.
Suikoden Tactics is a woefully underdocumented game. Unlike S4, where I could show you the stat growth charts, the best I can manage for Tactics is... a couple of dudes who played through the game and wrote down their endgame stats. If I came into a Fire Emblem thread saying that information would be of any use whatsoever, it would take approximately three seconds before someone bought me a redtext avatar to tell the world how stupid I am. However, the RNG seems less random here than it is in Fire Emblem, and I would guess that it follows the same pattern as Suikoden IV, which had an endgame "target" that the stats, though still random, would tend towards.
Still, it's not as though we have a choice of who to use at this point, so it's a bit early for the about how to best powergame the party.
The speech bubbles make it easy to see at a glance how advantageous a position is when you hover over it. The little sad dude in blue means I'm about to move Walter onto the terrain he's weak against.
Ending his turn on it costs Walter 7 HP, or about 20% of his maximum. This damage can't kill you, but he'll also be taking more damage from enemies' attacks while he's standing here, so it's definitely making it easier for other sources of damage to kill you.
While Walter is suffering, I'm going to have Lazlo clean up a bit. It might be tempting to keep the kids back here since they're kind of weak, but if you let them get some hits in on real enemies...
Walter will have a few words about it.
Snowe is like "Hmph!"
He's not going to let Lazlo upstage him!
Hey! Hey, Walter! Praise me! Praise me, damn you!
Oh... Not bad, I guess.
Of course, Snowe doesn't catch on.
Andarc has one more furball to kill. Here, he's attacking from the side while standing on advantageous terrain. If he attacks this enemy from the front, he deals 13 damage (with 96% accuracy); from behind it's 19 damage.
But there's no real challenge to this. I have Snowe finish off the last furball (he gets so happy when he gets to do something useful) and pick up the loot, and that's the whole map.
Then we can go after our objective. Snowe was right - it didn't get very far.
...a Rune Cannon?
Wait what? That's not a cannon at all.
Whoa! It can talk!
Will you keep quiet for a minute?
Snowe status: still Snowe.
On... the ship...
That last gurgle didn't sound too good.
A pirate? Which pirate?! Give me a name!
There is no answer.
I need a name!!
Poor fish dude. We hardly knew him.
...Is it dead?
Yes. Look at it... so thin you can see the ribs. Probably couldn't even get a scrap of food, in this state.
Snowe, please do not throw up on the body. That would be impolite.
The least we can do is give it a decent burial somewhere. Things like this are best done at night. You boys really should go on home now. It's very late.
No more excitement for us.
Lazlo stops to say goodbye.
Hm... Good night.
Walter seems to appreciate it.
Despite opening with Lazlo and Snowe, Walter's group are the people we'll be following throughout the game. (And no, they can't bring the random children they found in a dark alley along with them. That would be creepy. Also probably illegal. And it would mess up the continuity something awf... it would mess it up, okay.)
Including Snowe and Lazlo here is actually kind of unnecessary fanservice - they don't add much, and just the location should be enough to connect the scene to IV for anyone who played it. I don't mind it, though, because, well, mini-Lazlo.
Me neither. Sorry.
What about Yohn?
Yohn doesn't say anything, but there's a weird glow in the air.
I see... Thank you, Yohn.
A little food and some water... that's all this poor creature wanted. Seems he never even knew the pirate's name.
So yeah, not only is she a goat, she is a goat who speaks with the dead. Where the hell did you pick this one up, Walter?
Don't even think about it.
Still, it's nor like anyone else has figured out the connection with the Rune Cannons...
The viewers included! But unlike Suikoden IV, this game won't be dropping that thread, and the origins and mechanics of Rune Cannons are actually the core of this story.
That may be true, but we can't afford to take it easy.
Right now, the protagonists are only slightly more informed than we are, though, so it'll take a few more updates before we start getting answers.
You're right. So what's next, Walter?
Go buy some food and drinks. It won't be much, but let's pay what respects we can to this poor soul.
Well, we've got another long journey ahead of us tomorrow. I'll go find us somewhere to stay. Let's get at least a little rest tonight.
Andarc and Seneca shuffle off.
*sigh* Back to square one...
Now, now... don't worry. We'll get to the bottom of this sooner or later.
I would say something about hoping it's sooner, but I already know how this plays out.
Most of the voicing in this game is rather good, but that YES is pretty awkward.
And so, the first chapter comes to an end.
Artwork for Kyril, Walter and Yohn.
And a picture of the Wonderkids, located too close to the spine of the book to scan properly