April 22, 2014

Fire Emblem - Stormy Fire

How much more bloodshed must go on before Marth is able to confront Mediuth and end this mad war?  The enemy soldiers keep coming and Marth's army keeps droppin' 'em.  The opposing army's problem lies in that they don't exhibit any real tactics; about half of them swarm at the beginning of the encounter and then the rest get picked off one by one.  What they do have going for them is numbers.  Quite often reinforcements will arrive if Marth dawdles too long on a map but even this amounts to nothing more than an XP well for Marth and his buddies to plunder.  The only exception to this was the very first time it happened.  Marth had started near a town which had some nice stores and even an arena for a little XP gathering.  The town was also set in a strategically sound location so Marth decided to wait until the enemy came to him.  Marth figured that after the main bulk of the enemy was defeated, they could easily cross the valley and kill the general waiting at the fortress.  Contrary to Marth's plans, large amounts of reinforcements started arriving and more followed every round.  I assumed that they would keep coming until the unit limit was reached (which it never would if I kept killing them off).  This resulted in an epic battle through the valley as the stronger units of Marth's army tried to fend off attacks as the weaker units attempted to cross.  While victorious in the end, it was touch and go for a bit there and still resulted in the death of Barts, another fighter.  The loss of Barts was tolerable, though, since Marth had already decided to focus on the mounted and armour knights for the bulk of his fighting force.

Oh, and a dragon.  Did I mention the dragon?
Yeah, Marth has a dragon now.

Sheeda, while not being terribly effective in combat, continued to prove useful in other areas requiring that delicate, feminine touch.

Damn, Sheeda could charm the
jockstrap right off the freaking pope.

While all the maps have a hefty amount of tactical combat, there's almost always some secondary objectives as well.  These can range from plundering some chests to recruiting new members to rescue missions.  One such memorable rescue mission involved a story thread from a previous map where a dragon rider named Minerva was being forced to attack Marth by threatening to kill her sister, Maria.  During the encounter, Minerva makes a bold stance and refuses to fight Marth's army, choosing to flee instead.  A couple of maps later has Marth trying to rescue Maria from within a castle.  I made a daring move and had a cleric teleport Marth directly into Maria's jail cell in order to protect and assure her while the battle raged on in and around the castle.  Turns out Maria didn't really need the assuring part.

Damn, girl, you've just been rescued and
you're already thinking about getting the D.

Minerva, of course, is super thankful and both her and Maria join Marth's forces.  Chalk up one dragon rider and one more cleric for the good guys.  Minerva is like a badass version of Sheeda; great mobility but still able to dish out some punishment.  One aspect I really like about FE is the continual introduction of new unit types as the story progresses.  I'm past the tenth map and new units are still being introduced, usually by encountering them as enemies first (which means the joy of discovering the best way to deal with them).  FE is pretty good at dropping hints about how to go around getting new units to join, as long as all the villages are visited.  These hints don't necessarily apply to the map at hand, either; often a tidbit of information carries over the next map.  For example, one village held a woman who talked about her boyfriend, Jake, who is a shooter (ballista) unit and who will "probably only talk to girls".  And guess who was in the very next map?

Poor bastard never had a chance.

I had my first (useful) character death due completely to a tactical error on my part.  Marth had just received the services of a young mage called Linda, who came with powerful Aura magic.  The very next map, which, incidentally, took place inside the fortress Marth had just liberated, I went and got her killed after taking a chance that didn't really need to be taken at all.  I had Linda go after an archer that was currently hidden between some walls.  I don't know if I thought she'd take him out in one hit or if she'd just be able to survive a counterattack (which is still a bad idea since he'd just attack her next round).  I also didn't do standard reconnaissance and check out how powerful the archer's bow was.

A Silver Bow, as Linda soon found out. :(

The archer barely had time to enjoy his new XP before the wrath of Marth came down upon his head.  Marth teleported in beside the archer just as the nearby door was picked open by the thief, Julian, so that the mercenary, Oguma, could rush in for a flanking attack.

Revenge is a dish best served with several backhands.

Luckily, Belinda hadn't been around long enough for anyone to get attached to and soon she was forgotten, especially after what booty was found within the castle walls.  The first class-promoting item was procured here and some lucky knight was about to upgraded to his ultimate form.

By the power of Aritia...  I HAVE THE POWERRR!

After being promoted, the character starts back at level one, keeping his previous stats which also get a nice little boost from promotion, and then levels can be gained as normal, bringing the stats to even higher levels.  Now, what I should have done with Abel is wait until he reached the maximum level of 20 before promoting him but I was too excited and just couldn't.  However, it's not a completely terrible idea to promote a little early (minimum level of 10 is needed) if the character has a tendency to get good stat gains as each stat also maxes out at 20.  Some characters who don't generally get a lot of experience can also be promoted earlier as they might not even reach level 20 by endgame.  In addition to promotion items, there are also permanent stat-boosting items that can be given to any character.  I've been sinking them all into Marth since he doesn't promote and caps out at level 20.  This has made him into quite a badass fighter, often getting critical hits, rarely getting hit, and he can move faster than anyone with a mount.  Unfortunately, this led to overconfidence on my part when I had Marth try to take out an enemy mage named Garnef, who was guarding a few chests, while the bulk of the army attempted to cross a scalding hot desert.  Garnef has the power to seal physical attacks while still being able to attack with his Maph magic.  Marth must have had a few too many brewskis before the fight because he just figured that he needed to get a critical to be able to break through the sealing magicks, but that ended up being wrong — dead wrong in Marth's case.  On the second attempt, the army ignored Garnef and just crossed the desert.  A man housed in an adobe gave me a hint that I could have used before.

Tell that to zombie Marth.

Garnef eventually gets bored and buggers off, vowing to defeat Marth at a future date.  Further dialogues revealed that Marth would need to obtain the Star and Light spheres which, when combined, would break Garnef's sealing magic.  Where, oh where, can these elusive spheres be found?  Probably on the next map!