Part 28: BF23 Southwest MardukWell, that took a while. I blame the Etrian Odysseys. Also, Diablo II. Anyways, the next 3 missions are all 5 minute text dumps. I'll just knock them out of the way right now.
The Royal Army succeeded in taking Castle Karona. However, the Gulcasa they defeated inside was an imposter, and Yggdra was nowhere to be seen...
According to a castle worker, Gulcasa has already moved Yggdra to the land of Lost Aries, far to the east.
The Royal Army mounted an expedition to the east in pursuit, and ventured into the deep and forbidding Marduk Woods.
Once we're past the dense forest... We'll reach a very different terrain: Lost Aries.
...So what's the plan? There's a lot of Imperials between us and there.
...? How do you know of this?
Let's just say that I've got eyes in the sky. Anyway, we're bot to pick our battles carefully.
True... Then, let us make a detour around these forces. We'll make our way forward by hiding among the trees.
Sounds like a plan.
I'm going to give this to Mistel to bring up her Luk up to 5, to match an enemy we fight on two of the next maps. This lasts for two maps, so it will be in effect both times, and expire at the end of the second. Nobody else is at 4 Luk natively yet, so it has to be Mistel.
It turns out this is entirely unnecessary, but I didn't realize that at the time.
Our first waypoint is over there. Once you're there, stay on standby.
Understood? Go quietly; we don't want to be spotted.
Ah, yes. Another stealth mission.
Nietzsche's going to wander off over here, though.
Hm...? Who's there!?
I'm such a klutz! How could this happen...!? C'mon, Pamela, get it together... Uhhh... Spirits of the forest... Shroud my body within your arms...
Nietzsche and Mistel will go check her out.
Video Hi Pamela.
Wow! Lucky! I never thought an Undine would be looking for me!
You, Undine! Become Pamela's!
I said, become mine!
Who are you?
Looking back, it's been such a long journey... The Undines transmigrate their souls to keep on living... I have been searching for the secret to their longevity. They call me the Mystic Witch, Pamela the Great! And it's very nice to meet you!
But... then, why are you in this forest? Undines don't spend much time in forests.
Oooh! Shut up! I... uh, I was wandering the land, and I wound up here! I didn't get lost or anything. Er, well, that's that... Anyways, please excuse me. I hafta hide right now! I don't want to get mixed up in this war. But I'll catch you next time! Until then...!
Whatever. Kick her ass. That's just how we roll.
Ooh, and she's asleep too.
Ok, that happened. Rosary moves on.
Hey! Is that a trap you've got there? That'd make my job a lot easier... Can I have it?
Thanks a ton! This year's hunting season is all ours!
Rosary is the first to reach the waypoint.
Alright! We've made it this far... We're out on a limb now, though... Makes me nervous.
Alright, everyone, that's our next waypoint. Same drill as before: get there fast, then sit tight.
Now that we have the rest of the map open, I've labeled all the tiles that will show the Imperial forces. Stopping on any of those tiles will expand the map, and show the enemy. Nothing changes unless you stop next to the Empire, though. If you do, the victory condition changes to defeat all enemies, and all enemies on the map are shown.
If you do that now, you miss out on a character later.
Forest Folk: Wait! What is that you're holding...? That's the Elfin Bow! It's a sacred treasure! Why do you have it!? Return it immediately! We'll give you this Beasterfang instead.
Forest Folk: Young'uns nowadays try to do everything the easy way... Our standards have dropped so low... *sigh* Sorry, I hope I didn't offend you.
Rosary takes another step up to open a new section of the map. Since we didn't engage the Imperial forces, we can instead take this waypoint to end the level.
Check this out. I bet we can go unnoticed if we go this way.
What a fortuitous discovery... Let us change our route.
Not a lot of combat here. No surprises. Let's just go right on into the next mission.
Through the thick foliage, the Royal Army could hear the sound of battle outside their winding, uncharted road.
The camp of the anti-Imperial Resistance, founded by former Karonan soldiers, was under attack by the bounty hunter Mizer's forces, working under the aegis of the Imperial Army.
The Royal Army hurried to the aid of the outnumbered and overpowered Resistance forces.
That's... the bounty hunter, Mizer!
Who's he fighting? I've never seen him before. Let's get a little closer...
Sorry, but the reward on your head is too nice to pass up!
Oh? That's the man who came to see Grampa.
Ahh, I thought I recognized his face. That man is Cruz... the leader of the Resistance! I've heard the people of Karona formed their own Resistance. Their leader's name is Cruz...
Sounds like our kinda guy! Let's lend a hand!
Esq. Milanor! Wait!
As we can see here, all of the map is forest tiles. That means Durant's out. His forest weakness only matters on three missions. The last one, this one, and the next one. This one is the only combat mission in forest...
And since we're up against Bow users, Rosary will sit. Mistel is still using the Upola Statue, so she's out.
We'll bring in the Astral Fencer, Russell.
We're the ones who've got business with him, not you!
What the...!? The Liberation Army...! Wh-Why are you here!?
Mizer goes first.
And he must have been semi-successful after he gave up chasing us. He's hired an Assassin to work with him, as well as his Bandit.
Cruz loses both fights.
A beehive... It's empty, I hope.
Milanor show the Assassin why it's bad to work for Mizer, and wipes her off the map in one shot. Cruz at least wins against the Bandit, but Russell has to come in to finish him off.
Russell then moves up to rescue Cruz.
Are you alright?
I'm fine, thanks to you.
Are you the famed leader of the Resistance?
My name's Cruz. The forest is our Resistance's headquarters. So, you're the Liberation Army? You're spread kinda thin...
It's, uh... easier to move unnoticed with fewer people.
Works for me. Hey, can I join? The Empire's killed off my men. With you guys, I can teach those Imperials a lesson!
Er... How about it, Durant? It's your call.
We welcome anyone whose goal is aligned with our own!
Great! Count me in! Now that we're pals, can you help me reclaim our hideout? Those bounty hunters took it from me.
*sigh* Alright. Lead the way...
Thanks! It's right over here.
There it is... our former hideout.
Okay, let's go!
Here's Cruz, our new man. While he's apparently a competent resistance leader, he doesn't know how to make a weapon. That bow he's using is dropping his Atk, as well as stopping him from doing a Critical Hit. What a champ.
And here's Mizer. A high Tec, as always, and enough Atk to put up a fight. Since this map is Day-locked, he always fights at full strength. We'll need to use Steal to take his shoes this time.
I pick Shield Barrier, and park Milanor right up beside him. I don't attack.
The plan is for him to attack Milanor once, and Mizer will lose a big chunk of morale. If we attacked on our turn, we might kill him on his turn. We'll need to steal from him next turn, which will finish him off.
Shield Barrier blocks an otherwise devastating Thunderbolt, and brings us a victory. Mizer falls to about two-thirds morale.
Steal will finish him off.
Russell gets paralyzed, but his Void Thunder comes in to prevent any damage. He also finishes off Mizer.
And Cruz walks up to retake his empty hideout. He's leaving it to come with us now. Besides throttling Mizer, why did we have to go back there?
Crap! Imperial soldiers are coming for us!
We'd better split before they find us.
We've gotta get through here! You can lead the way, right?
Sure thing! I know this forest like the back of my hand.
Alright, head for the next waypoint!
When you get there, just wait and try to not make any noise.
The Empire gets first move. Their card is Ivy Whip. It causes Tec+3 damage, and it's only usable in forests. That +3 can cause a bit of damage.
The Empire doesn't do much, so Milanor will go say Hi. It's easy Card Pow. to take out a few of these clowns.
Hurry, everyone! Try to lose them in the woods!
This way! Follow me!
Hey, this is pretty rare. I hear it boosts your strength.
While getting into position, Cruz starts picking mushrooms.
Russell is up against a Knight here, but thanks to the Knight's Forest , Russell looks to be in good shape. We also get two Catapults.
Which are exceptionally dangerous to large units, like these Knights.
Between that, and their -20% Forest Geo, the Knights get slaughtered.
Except this one.
Meanwhile this Necromancer tries to Ivy Whip Cruz, but he'll have none of that.
The Empire attacks back, but nothing too threatening is happening.
Russell even gets to Heavy Counter the Knight.
He takes the only loss this round, though, and loses to the Necromancer.
Enough of that. Let's get out of here.
See? No problems!
Esq. Milanor, were we followed?
I don't see anyone. I think we lost 'em.
Hmm... If we're not certain, we should hurry ahead.
6 Atk on Milanor now. Murderous.
Aren't we there yet?
There's still some ways to go, but we're in the home stretch.
I guess we better get going, then, before they find us. Let's get a move on.
The Royal Army saved Cruz, leader of the Resistance, from the bounty hunter Mizer. However, the Imperial Army noticed the struggle and gave chase.
In their attempt to escape from the battlefield, the Royal Army took Cruz's secret road to shake off their Imperial pursuers.
However, beyond the secret path lay still more thick foliage, and the Marduk Woods stretched further and further on...
There seems to be a detachment of Imperial Soldiers ahead. A rather large one, at that.
I doubt we could fight that many... Let's go around 'em. You know, the Imperials are sure out in force in these parts.
Indeed. It's a sure sign that the Princess is beyond here.
Things are heating up, people. Stay on your toes. It's that time again... We're heading to the next waypoint. What I wouldn't give for fog like the Lenessey Mountains...
Wow, what a find.
Anyways, we take a few turns to get near the waypoint, avoiding the above tiles.
Alright! We've hit another waypoint.
Just a little further...
Man, all this sneaking around takes me back...
Our next waypoint lies in this direction.
Seems like the further we go, the heavier the guard is...
Again we progress through the trees, avoiding the red zones.
We're very near the exit now, I believe.
Yeah... I can almost see the sun.
Ah! Do you see it? The exit is there!
Oh, a potato... It seems different somehow, though.
Milanor grabs the Protato, and opens up a new corner of the map.
Hm...? Who's there!?
I'm such a klutz! How could this happen...!? C'mon, Pamela, get it together... Uhhh... Spirits of the forest... Shroud my body within your arms...
Just Pamela. Nietzsche says hi again.
Video Pamela, Again
Hahaha... I didn't think I'd meet you again! Undine! Become mine this time!
I'm just gonna run some experiments on you... Don't worry. It won't hurt, so just become mine already!
Er... I don't really want to......
Looking back, it's been such a long journey... The Undines transmigrate their souls to keep on living... I have been searching for the secret to their longevity.
...But I already heard all that.
Just quit being a spoilsport! ...Oh sorry. I still need to be in hiding! I really don't want to get mixed up in this war. I'll see you later. Adieu.
Okay, um, later...? ???
You know the drill.
Let's... Let's just get out of here.
Durant has a mission before he leaves, though.
He steps here, which reveals some Imperial soldiers.
Be careful. We're nearing a group of Imperial soldiers.
This is... a branch from the World Tree. It's withered, but it's presence here would mean...
The World Tree Branch is found in the area that's opened up with the Imperial Troops.
Blah blah blah, a few turns later.
Video I Don't Even Know What the Fuck
We're emerged from the forest...!
Finally! So this is...?
Lost Aries. A desolate place known as the Land of Ruin.
Why would they drag her all the way to a place like this...?
Sir! We're found a suspicious woman.
A suspicious woman, you say?
She was stalking our unit. Bring her here!
Hey it's that strange witch that was in the forest.
Do you have business with us?
Umm... Well... Hahaha.
That Undine is your ally, right? How much for her?
The Royal Army doesn't sell its allies! Begone at once!
Oh, come on... Then, just a bit, like the tip of the tail...? No!? Then take the great Pamela with you! I want to inspect that Undine up close! I'll just look. No touchie-touchie... That's OK, right? Right? No!? Come on, please!
Shhh! Shut up! The enemy'll find us!
I doubt she's a spy for the Empire... What shall we do?
You're right... The Empire'd send someone smarter than this for a spy...
I mean... *sob* There's no Undines anywhere! *sob* I went all the way to Embellia, but no one was there... *sniff* So, I Waaaaaaah!
She's an oddball, but I sense strong power within her. If we can get her on our side, she may prove useful. I think she's quite skilled.
This lady...? I cannot tell by looking at her, but...
She said she went all the way to Emellia, didn't she? It must've been so hard by herself, with no friends... I feel sorry for her. Nietzsche'll look after her, so let's take her with us.
Well, if you say so, I'm for it. How 'bout you, Durant?
Very well. I shall leave it to Lady Nietzsche's descretion. Still, why does the Royal Army......
...attract so many freaks? Well, as long as they're strong...
Lucky me! Thanks you! Together at last with an Undine.
It's not much, but as a gift, please take this.
Hee hee. Your name is Nietzsche, right? I need to log your looks and traits... memo memo... Tail length... breast size... shape of the face. Fascinating!
...Maybe I shouldn't have let her join......
Here's a rundown of everything we kept through these last three missions.
Beasterfang: Weak to archers, but it has nice stats up otherwise. Just pick a map with no archers, and you're golden. Lasts one map.
Demon Tail: Tec and Luk Up can be useful, and there's no shortage of maps that are locked in Night or Evening, rendering the Noon=sleep useless. 1 map.
Dream Cap: Like above, but great stats on it. 2 maps.
Hoof Shoes: It could probably come in handy if you're finding a character gets stuck behind enemies, or you are having trouble clearing them in time for an item. 2 maps.
Killer Beehive: Heavy Counter UP isn't very reliable, and for one map and no stats it's hard to use this item.
Powershroom: Attack up. Nice!
Protato: Attack up again. Nice! Again! This one goes bad quickly though, so use it before it's wasted.
World Tree Branch: This is mainly used on Roswell's side to trade for an item. Otherwise, it's just a pretty lame staff.
World Tree Leaf: Luk UP is alright. If you're fond of GEO cards, though, this will give a little extra life out of them. 1 map.
Blind seer, mute soothsayer... All of Fate lies in thy cards... - Vasuraha the Beholder
Fortune: The movement's a little low, but the Pow's decent, and it's an all Ace. This card is O type, like Shield Barrier. As long as it's activated, you and the opponent fight with Luk replacing Atk. Since the Royal Army, with the exception of a few characters, has high Luk this can be pretty useful. Pair it up with a high Luck, low Attack unit like Rosary, you can really change how useful a character is.
The demon of visions cloaked in Damnation... er ashes fall like somnolent Snow. - Mimeye of the Ashes
Wayward demon, dancing under the moon... Let the ashes of sleep fall upon mine enemy Pamela
Seven movement, low starting Power, All Ace, usable only at Night. Still, if you use Pamela, this card is awesome. A sleeping enemy is totally helpless, and stays asleep for 6-Luk turns.
Cruz Cruz isn't a bad character, not really. Still, he's easily the worst character in the game. The problem with Cruz is that there's nothing good about him. He maxes at 5,4,5,2. Aside from his Luk, that's respectable. His Forest will never come into play again. Day is good on a few maps, and his Bow his good against Casters. He also dominates Griffon Riders.
Why's he so bad? Well, for one, we get a better Bow User very shortly, and don't fight a lot of Staff users in the meantime. Day maps are getting rarer and rarer, so besides a few specific maps, his Day sees little benefit. He's the only character that doesn't get a unique card skill, or at least card effect. And against Griffons? Damn near everyone is good against Griffons. Yggdra? Sword > Axe. Milanor? Just plain stronger than Griffons. Rosary / Roswell? Staff > Axe. Mistel? Scythe > Axe. Kylier: Generally stronger. Russell? Sword > Axe. Even Nietzsche can put up a fight with Water, or Aggressive mode.
Pamela This is a weird unit, which I guess fits. She's very different than Rosary and other Witches. She can Ace Doll Craft or Necro Gate with her Staff, though. Her stats without her item are 1(5/10), 2(3/8), 4(4/6), 4(4/6) and she maxes at 2,3,6,6. Exceptional Luk and Tec, but poor Atk and Gen. Still, her poor attack can be compensated for by using damage cards, which will almost always start near full thanks to her high Tec. She has the added advantage of being able to use the un-used Geo cards anywhere. Otherwise, her abilities seem pretty fucking random, like <Undine and Item Protect. We see a couple Undines in the future, but we can't have items broken or stolen. Void Ailments can come in handy in a handful of maps, though.
Pamela? Wow... In the GBA version, you could still fight her and take her items / Fortune, but she didn't join. I also have no idea how to make this happen. First, it either needs to be set on Hard, or you have her items in the Item Manual already. Second, Nietzsche has to talk to her at least once? Maybe both times. I don't know if you need to fight her when you recruit her. Third, I don't think you can fight the Empire in these maps, but maybe you can. Finally, you can't actually inspect her prior to fighting her. I don't know.
Cruz's mission is pretty straightforward. Just don't use Durant. He takes Fatal Damage from Ivy Whip, and sucks in general on Forest.
If you remember the Dowsing Rods we picked up earlier, this is where we'd need them. In Northwestern Marduk, if Roswell has is equipped, he'll find an Element item. That is combined with the World Tree Branch, I believe, to make a good item later on. The problem with the Dowsing Rods are that they last 7 maps even after you grab the item. You really need to equip it early, or else you're stuck with them for a long time...
That Elfin Bow we got, and then traded, is actually a good item for Cruz. It's Tec UP, +4 Luk, Morale up when low. Lasts 3 maps.
There are a couple other items available in Southwest Marduk, but they're, well, bad. There also seems to be some requirement to getting them, because I couldn't. One item is a food consumable that lowers your Tec. One of them is an item that lower luck while equipped, and lasts infinity maps. Party on.
If you engage the Imperial Forces in Northwestern Marduk, you'll run into Aegina. She has the Bloody Rapier equipped, which gives Atk Up, Tec Up, Move Morale Down. Between the less-than-stellar item, and the arcane rituals needed to get Pamela, I chose to ignore it.