Radiant Dawn Day 8: Chapter 1-7
Yeah, like Jotari said... wow, it's kinda crazy that we literally have two battles left before a tiny barely-a-map and then the final battle of Part 1. This war... progresses extremely fast. Of course, we aren't even the ones responsible for dealing the finishing blow. Daein's freedom is assured before the final battle even happens, due to events done by characters not in our control.
...Pretty anticlimactic when I put it like that. But we'll see.
The intro narration says that there's a vast number of mercenaries that Begnion's hired (with Daein's money), and I'm wondering where they came from. Begnion? Not from Daein, certainly, unless this is an evil amazon brigade since all the Daein men of fighting age are in labor camps. If betraying Daein were an easy way out, I think we'd have heard about it.
Anyway, so I checked the bonus exp requirements, and it seems that the turn reward is peanuts compared to the prisoner escape reward, so I'll be taking this map slow to train my units and make sure every prisoner escapes.
But back to the story, Izuka has apparently told Pelleas to stop coming to the strategy meetings, and now he's revealing his plan to poison a lake in order to kill the guards of a prison camp... a plan that everyone obviously thinks is completely ridiculous. ...Ugh. I get that this guy's evil, but he's just so hilariously easily shut down that he's less of an antagonistic force and more of just a strawman punching bag to make Micaiah look better. In other stories with characters like this, they eventually get into an infuriatingly undeserved position of power over the heroes to up the drama. Like, say, Dolores Umbridge. Here... well, like I already said: strawman punching bag. He storms out, and now we have to come up with a better plan, which we proceed to do... offscreen.
Time to prep.
Damn it, Nolan and Zihark don't have a support together. I could have sworn they got it in time for this chapter! Is this not chapter-based like in Path of Radiance? Did I need to keep them together more?
Anyway, Aran gains 3 speed between bonus experience level ups and promotion. Not enough to double, but that's going to change shortly. He's going to cap strength, skill and speed hilariously quickly into his promoted tier, meaning that I'll be able to buff up his other stats to psychotic levels through bonus experience, which we'll have plenty of by the time we next see the Dawn Brigade again. That is going to make it annoying to use him in actual combat though, once he reaches the point where non-bexp levels are essentially wasted.
Ike is going to suffer from a similar problem.
I used most of my remaining bonus experience to promote Nolan, because that way I can equip paragon on him. That skill is going to be used mainly on him and Zihark, swapped back and forth to whoever most needs it, while the other one will get resolve, which, yes, I just managed to get off of Tauroneo.
...It's kind of ridiculous that it's chapter 7, 9 maps in, and I already have a mostly-promoted army. Man, the experience gain of the Dawn Brigade is ruuuushed.
You can't sell master seals in this game. Pity. Was that the case in the Japanese version too? I seem to remember hearing that you needed these items to promote in the Japanese version of this game.
Alright, let's do info conversations.
Oooh! This is the one with Meg and Zihark!
HAHAHAHA! I didn't realize until just now that Zihark says that Meg looks exactly like her father. Holy shit. That is a roast to throw at a poor girl if I ever heard one, but neither one seems to notice the implications.
...However... this conversation is rather frustratingly ambiguous as to whether or not Brom sent Meg or if Meg went without his permission. If it's the former... holy shit Brom, what is wrong with you? Unless of course it's somehow some insanely well-kept secret just how fucked up Daein is.
Alright, now we get a talk with Pelleas.
So, basically, Pelleas is incredibly grateful to Izuka for “reuniting” him with his “mother” and also for putting him in the position he is in now. Also, apparently there were some Daein senators that Pelleas mentions Izuka getting into contact with, and, well... my reaction to that is...
...Daein has a senate?
I'm sorry, are you trying to tell me that Daein is a constitutional monarchy?
Was the Mad King's War what Ashnard was capable of when he was acting with checks and balances?
And if Ashnard got rid of said checks and balances, these “senators” have to either be useless puppet stooges, or people who haven't been senators for twenty-three goddamned years. Either way, how useful could they possibly be to granting Pelleas legitimacy?
Quick aside: something similar was mentioned in the last game, with underground noble houses secretly lending the Crimean resistance support from in hiding. Is that a thing that happened in real life? Did noble houses really just “go underground”, so to speak, hiding from the new regime and supporting the resistance from the shadows?
Pelleas then calls Micaiah “amazing” and praises her all-seeing powers for... doing some extremely basic inferences from what Pelleas pretty clearly spelled out for her, which is kind of ridiculous.
Ah yes, this is when the game reveals that Pelleas is a spirit charmer. And then when Micaiah asks what the mark is, Pelleas explains what it is before ridiculing himself for lecturing her on something she has to already know, since he things she is one herself. Yep, he saw, but misunderstood, her brand.
But this does confirm that you usually enter pacts with spirits personally. As Pelleas then explains, if you're a spirit charmer and don't know it, it's because the spirit bonded itself to you on its own, seeing vast potential in you as an infant.
So while Pelleas all but outright states that this was indeed not the case for him, this does confirm it is at least plausible that baby Soren's brand could have been passed off as the “Spirit's Protection” to anyone in Daein who saw it. Still though... I don't think we get any confirmation of anyone besides Almedha who this mark was intended to fool. If there were other people who who knew that Ashnard's son had a mark on his forehead like Pelleas apparently does (implied by that being where Soren's is and also the fact that it's exposed when he wipes his brow in this conversation), and if these other people were important to securing Pelleas's legitimacy... we never hear of them. Of course, if Almedha was really well-known (and also not known to be a dragon), it's conceivable that she could have eventually blown Izuka's story if she had been kept out of the loop and hadn't been convinced this was indeed her son, but...
...let's move on.
This is infuriating.
Apparently, while beorc and laguz aren't capitalized, “Branded” is. No, fuck that, I'm not doing that. I'm never going to be able to remember that, so I'm just gonna keep doing it lower-case.
Curious. Pelleas initially uses the word “laguz”, and then later says “sub-human” in the next sentence. But isn't laguz described as a word that's almost unthinkable for anyone racist against the laguz to say? At bare minimum that seems to be the case in Daein. Merely saying the word as opposed to “sub-human” is treated multiple times in Path of Radiance like a huge deal for people who come from Daein. Shiharam is told he might be accused of being a traitor for even using the word “laguz” instead of “sub-human”. And yet here, Pelleas, who's willing to use the word “sub-human”, uses the word “laguz” too.
At any rate though, he says that he's been “terribly mistreated” by people who thought he was branded, which would imply that being branded is more well-known than being a spirit charmer. But then we have that old man that Soren mentioned raising him, who didn't even seem to entertain the idea that Soren was a branded. He saw that mark and just assumed he was a spirit charmer.
Anyway, we get a brave sword for our trouble. Insanely early, funny enough.
And it's B rank, which in a game where the top rank is SS, is hilariously low.
Now, fun little tip I came up with last time I played: If you use Mist, get her to B rank swords if you can. That way, in the final gauntlet, when everyone gets to equip their one weapon to be blessed with infinite durability and mantle-piercing, Mist, who has no business swordfighting in the endgame, can equip the brave sword, and then she can give it to someone else.
So yeah, I'll be saving this thing. Gotta make sure it doesn't break by the end of the game.
...Yep, looks like Radiant Dawn ditches the “be in the same chapter” system in favor of combining that with some proto-Awakening support system. Meaning I'm behind on getting Zihark and Nolan to that crucial double-earth support they're going to need for the best chances of surviving Part 3.
Well, nothing to do but make sure they can start next chapter.
So the plan seems to have been to use all of the player characters for Dawn-Brigade-style guerilla warfare to assault the keep itself while Tauroneo distracts the main force. I don't know enough about the makeup of this camp to say if this is a good or bad idea, so fuck it, let's just play the map.
And thankfully, the game lets me deploy everyone I'd actually want to use, leaving leaving behind nobody but Leonardo, Edward, Meg and Fiona. And Tauroneo, who as the story explains, is busy doing other things. So at least they explain it. I didn't remember that being the case, but it seems I was wrong.
Aran seems to have finally found enemies other than weighed-down pegasus knights that he can double: armor knights! After he promoted to halberdier!
I gripe, but Aran's defense is absolutely ridiculous now. He's taking basically no damage from these armor knights. Literally no damage from the one with the javelin.
And now we see Tormod, and I love how Tormod hasn't grown out of his old boyish face nearly to the same degree that Sothe has.
Not sure if I already said this, but I don't like the new version of “Come, Join Us!” in this game. The old one in PoR was much better. This one feels... like a clumsy attempt to make it more intense, but it's just overwhelmed and busy.
So yeah, we just got Tormod, Muarim and Vika. Three great characters... ruined by absolutely abysmal availability. They're tier 2, like Sothe, Zihark, and now Aran and Nolan, and you get them for the rest of Part 1.
And then they disappear for the rest of the game.
It's not until Part 4 that get them back, at the same level you left them, two chapters before endgame. After Ike and Sothe's story promotions to tier 3.
I'll use them when I need to, but I'm really hoping I don't have to make too much use of them, because I sure as hell ain't getting any return back on the investment.
Note to self: get celerity off of Tormod.
Anyway, so, we get a talk with Tormod, during which... the recruitment theme... plays again. Because it was playing prematurely last time. But anyway, Sothe and Tormod talk about the issue Sothe asked Tormod to look into. An issue he asked Tormod to look into so long ago, apparently, that Sothe's had time to have a growth spurt in the meantime and piss Tormod off with how tall he's gotten. Jeez, how long did this mission to figure out what's going on in Begnion take?
There are some enemies grouped by the back gate, and I'm using Muarim to approach them because Jill's bulk still isn't quite good enough for her to survive all four of them at once if they suddenly decide to rush in.
Good call on my part. They did in fact decide to all rush in immediately upon getting within all of their ranges.
...Nope, wait, they all still seem to be holding still except the actual armor knight guarding the door, who just bailed to attack Muarim. Wow. So he just left his post and let the doors swing open on their own.
Laguz don't suffer movement penalties indoors, and hey, also, bird laguz have canto now! Nice! Pity they're so heavily nerfed in other ways I don't quite feel like getting into yet.
These remaining guards are just refusing to move.
This is why I hate it when games add stationary groups of enemies with enough attack power to take out most of your units. Either you don't know they don't move, in which case it's absolutely terrifying to approach these groups, a terror that later is revealed to be you cowering at the shadow of a mouse...
...or you do know, in which case there's literally no strategy to taking them out at all.
That is why stationary enemies should be labeled, so that the fact that they don't move isn't some secret to exploit, but a known part of their AI you need to account for when making your strategies. Because when the game actually broadcasts that enemies won't move, they need to come up with better ideas than this to challenge you.
Yep, and of course they start moving the turn after one of them gets attacked. Thankfully by that point I had taken out enough of them that Jill's death was impossible.
Man, biorhythms can be a pain. It's utterly surreal to see Zihark having a 50 ish hit rate against an archer because some biorhythms synced up just wrong.
OH THANK GOODNESS.
Okay, so, I accidentally fucked up and put Zihark in death range if he ate another longbow attack and a mage went in. Not having a healer nearby except Micaiah (who would die if she used sacrifice and then got hit), I had no choice but to bait the longbowman with Micaiah and pray he'd take the bait.
It worked. And it also turned out to be totally pointless, because those mages don't seem to be moving for any reason. I suspected that might be the case when I learned they wouldn't go down the ledges to attack Aran earlier, but... I didn't want to bet anyone's life on that. At least not any more than I already had to.
Also, apparently the Daein prisoners kept here... are in soldier gear. You have generic villager portraits in this game, do you not? Why are these ex-soldiers in their armor!?
Good on this game for not having the B button do anything on its own, by the way. Given that it's nearly on the bottom of the controller, that prevented a great many accidental presses when laying the wiimote down somewhere.
Yet again we have a bunch of enemies with really high attack ranges and worrying attack power, kept in check only by their refusal to move for reasons I cannot see. Christ, these things shave years off my life when I play ironman.
I like how all of these old PoR characters have conversations with each other in this chapter. I can't tell whether or not Muarim's decision to call Sothe “Sir Sothe” is mocking him or genuinely misguidedly trying to be respectful. The “I suppose I have to respect your manly pride now” comment suggests the former, while the “I could never speak so familiarly to my little one's friend” comment suggests the latter.
...Ugh. This is a Japanese honorifics thing that translated horribly, I just know it.
...Man, Djur has a pretty badass battle quote:
“Errrrrrgh...! Blundering through like a bull in a china shop... Come closer, so I can shatter your ambition like glass! I will beat into your very bones just who rules this land!”
...Not gonna lie, right now, if I made a top ten list of lines I was looking forward to hearing voiced in a remake? Pretty sure that'd be on it.
I thought he'd be a pansy when he said at the start he'd elect to keep most of the elite guards with him, but now it's starting to feel he's a genuinely competent man who saw the possibility that this was a trick and kept the best men with him to fight them off just in case.
Anyway, prisoners are escaping, boss is just about dead, we're pretty set here. Just gotta finish up and then seize.
Oh yes, this scene, where Izuka learns about Sothe's laguz friends, and decides that they absolutely have to let them fight, and plans to silence any racist backlash with “the proper punishment”. And then comes one of my favorite exchanges in Fire Emblem history:
Izuka: But laguz... they're powerful! (An expendable...) Just what we need. By all means, invite them to join!
Sothe: They're good friends. I'll sure they'll agree to help if I ask (you mumbling creep).
Okay, next scene and... I'm already confused.
Sothe asks Tormod how he got there... “so soon”. Implying the investigation was really fast. I guess I'm just gonna have to assume that Sothe and Tormod didn't meet in person when Sothe asked him to investigate how much Sanaki knows, because there's no way this mission actually took long enough for Sothe to grow “too tall” for Tormod's liking.
Also, Micaiah expresses annoyance when Tormod mentions that he's an old war friend of Sothe and brings up Ike, when, like... I wish they'd just come out and say how Micaiah actually feels about the Mad King's war. She said something to Fiona that indicated she didn't blame Lanvega for not helping Ashnard, since he was just protecting his countrymen, so I think we can assume she doesn't believe Ashnard was in the right... but like... what is she annoyed at Sothe about? For the mere fact that he's a walking reminder that Daein was in the wrong?
...Or is she just jealous of all the new friends Sothe made while she was away, given how she's in love with him? Is it that she isn't even sure herself why hearing him gush about Ike makes her so mad?
Also, I'm sorry, did the game just have Tormod say that Sanaki was already “investigating on her own”? How fucking hard can it be for the apostle to have some of her loyal soldiers just visit another country? The place is such a veritable shithole right now that it would be nigh impossible to hide how badly Numida is running things!
Of course, now Micaiah kind of... just bares her soul to Muarim, this total stranger to her, about how she's never seen Sothe this relaxed despite having “taken care of him for so long”, and Muarim just flat-out tells her that if she talks like that, she'll just be giving away that she's a branded. And then he just warns her that there are those among the laguz who call people like her the “parentless” and, like Stefan said last game, “deny [branded] any laguz heritage, honor, or dignity”.
...But he doesn't mention anything about being able to sense branded. Did I just... did my memory just make that up? I could've sworn somebody said that in-game before Vika's conversation where she gets the heebie-jeebies around Micaiah. And I'm almost positive that somebody said that eventually. Did... wow, if that's not true, then several of my complaints with branded lore... are gonna have to be revised.
...But the chapter's over. We got a cool 3008 bonus experience, got everyone out alive (despite several frustrations), and now everyone in our proper army is promoted except Micaiah, Jill, and I guess Ilyana. I think that's a good day.
So that's where I'll leave off until tomorrow!
Stay safe, everyone!