Part 5: A Chance Encounter at Sea (II)
Reinbach's "fleet" isn't much of a, well, fleet. It's just this one ship, but that's fine because we just have the one, too.
This battle is a bit more of a pain than the last. In addition to our own dudes (and dude-ette), we have Hervey, who is part of the party for now, and three NPCs: the Drunken Pirate, the Rowdy Pirate, and the Jolly Pirate. These three are not under our control - you can see them marked with green to the left above - which means they'll do what AI controlled NPCs always do under these circumstances: steal experience points, and die horribly.
...at least, that's the way it normally goes, but I have principles, damn it, so I'm going to be keeping them alive
Uh, and also, new music.
Sigurd is sitting at the far end of the enemy ship, and he's not to be taken lightly; he's a whole level higher than Walter, and he'll be spamming water terrain on himself which means he'll be even more dangerous. Also, if we kill him before we open that chest, we won't be able to loot it. I want that chest!
Hervey comes with the first Magic Sword rune we've seen. These allow attackers a bit of semi-magical utility. The first level spell is the same as it would be for a regular fire rune, same as Andarc's corresponding spell. I'm about to make very bad use of it.
See, some of these enemies are also fire elemental, and I have just created a nice big safe zone for them to stand and beat my face in.
I did this to show off what you should not be doing if you're playing along at home, naturally.
Siggy gets to buffing himself.
The friendly pirates are not entirely terrible, and they'll be tossing some elemental beads around, which can be helpful, but they'll still die if you just let them charge in. So, we should make sure all our characters get up to the enemy first so we can block them off and-
-hold on a minute, what's this?
Then let's get going.
That is the talk command in action. Talking serves several purposes - character development for one, but also learning unite attacks as you just saw, and raising "Good Will" between characters.
Good Will is a concept that has been around for a while in the Suikoden series. This is basically the same system as in the traditional games where certain characters would protect each other when low on health, or go berserk if a buddy is knocked out (I actually managed to catch the former on film almost eight minutes into my overly long demonstration of Suikoden IV's ocean travel), with a good helping of Fire Emblem's support conversations and a dash of Super Robot Wars style support attacks and defends.
Good Will in Suikoden Tactics still allows characters to cover each other, as long as they're standing reasonably close. This can trigger even if the defended character isn't low on HP, and works similarly to SRW in that the defending character jumps in front of the defended character and takes the attack at reduced damage. However, unlike SRW, it doesn't cost anything and you don't get to turn it on or off; it happens randomly if you keep friendly characters next to each other.
Unlike previous Suikodens, you can also get support attacks, which work much in the same way. Not getting to tell characters to back down can be annoying, but most of the time you will want the support actions to kick in anyway.
Oh, and an interesting fact about Walter? He hates crates. Like. Utterly detests them. In fact he'll be too distracted by these to contribute to the actual fight!
We're low on cash, so anything I can sell for medicine money is welcome.
Aaaaand... that's where I realize I mis-aimed that Flame Force earlier.
Also, now the Jolly Pirate is going to run in front of Hervey and get murdered right in the face by the red mercenary, who is probably the strongest unit on this map after Sigurd.
Speaking of which, he is not the only one who employs elemental beads to his advantage.
Andarc's turn rolls around. The green spots next to Seneca are where he can stand to allow them access to a unite attack. However, there's no one in range here.
Cohort Attack is a "broadside" aiming out from Seneca's position, and it's quite useful! We'll see just how useful it is in a little bit.
First, however, another chat!
Hey, you! Andarc!
Wha--?! What do you want?
Aren't you a little tense lately?
N-None of your business!
Hey, I'm just worried about you...
Yeah, I know... Sorry.
Not that you're ever not tense, I guess...
Isn't that a conversation best saved for off the battlefield, you two?
More importantly! Due to the magic of Extra Move (), Andarc can head on up instead of sitting at Seneca's side like an idiot. This will be very useful as soon as Seneca's turn comes around.
Kyril parry-counters an enemy pirate, because fuck enemy pirates.
Said pirate then proceeds to take damage from standing on the water terrain his buddies laid down.
...and the Drunken Pirate promptly kills him off and steals my experience points. That fucker.
This lands Seneca on fire terrain (which she dislikes) but it's just too tempting.
Unites in Tactics cannot be spammed, as they must recharge after being used. However, it's usually worth the wait. Both these guys are at full health and standing on native terrain, and we're about to murder both of them, and only them, despite Kyril standing in the way.
Cohort Attack has Andarc putting a spell on Seneca's crossbow before she fires. Impressive!
Another fun thing with unites is that all participants get EXP from them.
MUST KILL MORE CRATES
(This one yields a pair of gloves.)
Happily, the stupid NPC pirate moves his useless ass out of Hervey's way and this lets Hervey walk up and hit the merc. Sadly he can't do much lasting damage, since they both regenerate health at the end of their turn.
While we push ahead towards the enemy vessel, Walter goes and opens the first of the two treasure chests. This one has three Mega Medicines.
Seneca manages to shuffle around and get behind the merc. Here's the first level skill from the Hawk Rune: Shadow Weave. It prevents enemies from moving, but not from acting. For an archer, this is very nice since it lets them pelt a close-range fighter with arrows without having to worry about getting attacked in turn. However, the merc isn't moving off his nice cosy fire terrain anyway, so there's no point in trying to hit him with it. (Also, we only have a 50% chance to land it on him, as you can see in the Add Effect box at the bottom of the screen.
Seneca decides to just shoot some arrows instead. It doesn't do much, but every little bit helps.
Andarc goes for the chest. Sigurd tells him to fuck off. I'm starting to wish I had used the money I spent on Seneca's rune to upgrade some armour instead...
Some shuffling takes place and Kyril steps in so Sigurd can't chase Andarc up the ramp. The red cross over Andarc's head is a "heal me!" kind of thing.
But Andarc won't need more healing because Sigurd can't reach him up here. He nabs the second chest. These will come in handy; Seneca already used hers.
Sigurd uses a throwing weapon, with a range of 1-2. Since Kyril is standing right next to all the water terrain Sigurd can reach, he opts to attack from close range for extra damage, rather than stay back and deal less damage without risk of counters. Kyril does counter, but Sigurd has Guard, so there's not much damage.
It does push Kyril up a level, though! That HP boost will be quite handy, I imagine.
Also, this seemed like a good time to look at the overview map and show that it marks elemental terrain as well as characters.
I was all set to kill the red merc before Sigurd, but then Kyril went and got a very unnecessary critical hit, and that's the end of that.
From now on, most battles will be graded based on how well the game thinks you did. It depends on a lot of stuff like ending turns on native terrain, dealing high damage, receiving low damage, getting higher experience points (meaning, using lower level characters against higher level enemies), turn count, and, of course, not having your characters die. There are four ranks - C, B, and A, as well as S. The first three award you a medal, either bronze, silver or gold; these give you a small boost to your HP and defence, and curiously, the bronze medal gives the best stats while the gold gives the worst. (But if you get a lot of bronze medals, you probably need the boost, so it's certainly not unwelcome.)
S rank rewards, on the other hand, are unique items which range from totally useless (such as the one for this map) to really good gear.
Here, I've been wasting a lot of time talking, going after boxes and trying to keep the pirates alive instead of murdering people, so the reward isn't that great.
The Killer Ring is the reward for keeping all three pirates alive through the fight. It offers a small boost to defence and skill.
After the battle, Hervey wastes no time telling Sigurd how much he sucks.
Grrr... Talk is cheap when you've got that much backup.
Hey, you had backup too, don't try to get smart with me.
Come on, Hervey! You and I, one on one! I'll send your corpse to the bottom of the sea!
Damn, I can just feel the .
So, Hervey runs off to have a little duel with Sigurd.
I think he'd forgotten just who's paying him...
It's not me, because I had like 15 potch left when we left Middleport.
However, the conclusion to the duel is going to have to wait.
What is it?!
Walter knows that something that worries Yohn is going to be serious business.
That's a little too serious!
This feels oddly familiar.
Who?! Oh, right... Steele... Aargh!!
This man isn't quite right in the... well, anything, really.
Is that... Steele?
I don't think he's in the mood for an interview!
Walter is in full Rune Cannon Investigation Mode and isn't paying attention to the fact that they're being used against us at the moment.
We've got to take cover!
What the hell--?!
It's the cavalry!
And more music!
Pirate cavalry? Well, who cares? It's awesome! Go watch the scene!
The next explosion...
...knocks Steels on his butt.
Edgar. Edgar. I feel like I know this name from somewhere.
I definitely know this name from somewhere!
So, what do you say?
I swear the next day we meet will be your last day alive! Better order your tombstone! A-har-ha-ha-harr! Mwahaha-har-har-har!!
Yeah... Time to end this once and for all.
Kika seems to think Edgar is having way too much fun with this.
Personally, I just think I should have remembered to turn off the FMV skip setting before I got this far. Uh. Just pretend there's a book under here, okay?