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An exercise in masochism: Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn Hard Mode
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[table of contents]
The Lost Heir
Apologies for the delay - I've had exams and a paper to submit.

We're back at base now, after that last fight, and there are actually two important conversations that we need to see (and some flavour text).

1. Sothe - We find out that Micaiah is the paragon of virtuosity, while Sothe is... not. Also, 10000G!

2. Nailah - nets us Volug, our latest tank and first Laguz unit (he is one of the wolves we meet at the end of the last map). Also serves as characterisation for Nailah.

Volug (Level 15 Wolf)

Base Stats

49 HP 95%

11 Str 25%

2 Mag 15%

12 Skl 35%

13 Spd 40%

13 Luck 90%

9 Def 15%

5 Res 10%

20 Con

40 Wt

Haha, Volug is a great unit. He's unbelievably useful in the early chapters, thanks to really high HP, good offense and reasonable defense. His speed means that he can double everything that isn't a myrmidon on hard mode. There's just a few little details that stop me from declaring him God, dem abs not being one of them. First off, he gains experience extremely slowly, and won't level up very often unless you use a very specific trick. Secondly, his growths are kind of terrible. He will cap a few stats thanks to the low laguz caps, and he turns out surprisingly good if trained, but isn't worth the longtime investment. Thirdly, his skill Wildheart, which is locked for the duration of part I, allows him to remain transformed for the whole map (good), but cuts his stat multiplier to 1.5X instead (bad). He's temporary at best, but by God, he's great in the early game.

3. Laura and Aran - Bandits! Funny little conversation that doubles as characterisation.

4. Dawn Brigade - Leo mopes a little, Edward tries to cheer him up, and Nolan is cool as usual.

Now that we have enough money, we also forge an axe for Nolan, that will eventually go to a new character that we won't get until the chapter after this one. We max out its Might, and Crit. Both Nolan and New Character tend to have enough skill to use axes without missing too often, so Hit is not really necessary. We also colour the Axe red, and name it Bloody Claw in honour of the awesome Yggdra Union card.

Infodump: Forging! What the hell is it?

I've been talking about it for a while now, and since we've actually used it this chapter, the time is ripe for some gameplay talk.

First off, forging allows you to create a weapon that is customised to your needs, while being more expensive. Almost every kind of weapon (except daggers and ranged swords actually) can be forged. Forging also increases the cost, which is based on how much the increase/decrease in a weapon stat is, starting from 10% and going up to 250%. The increasable stats are Mt, Hit, Crit and Weight. The first three are eminently useful, though Hit is more situational that the other two. Weight is never worth increasing - the urban legend that increasing Weight increases Weapon experience gained, which is used to increase Weapon ranks (A - SS), is wrong. However, decreasing Weight can help characters that haven't hit their stride and are weighed down by even iron weapons (not that you should be using them on Hard Mode).

Coins are another new feature of RD. If you've played POR and wondered why in hell you occasionally received coins that could be sold for a whopping 1G, this game is the answer. If you transfer bonuses, all your coins also transfer and are usable in forging. Coins are used to add certain bonuses to stats - Hit, Crit, Might etc. or nothing at all. These bonuses are obtained by 'playing' a card game that nets you a Bonus Card. I put "playing" in quotes because the game is rigged, and there's nothing you can do to change the outcome of the game. It's been theorised that RD loads the random numbers for forging right at the beginning of the game, rather than during the Card minigame.

EXTRA STUFF YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT: You know all FE fans complain that the US gets easy Fire Emblems? Well, here's another example of the same. In Japan, forging required Forging Points, 50 per weapon, with points exclusive to weapon type. You got these by selling weapons, so an E-rank weapon would net you 1 point, while an SS-ranker would get you 200. Us international players have no such restrictions which is awesome. No really, I find the Japanese system unnecessarily tedious.

We finally move on to the actual battle map, after all these preparations.

Map 1-5

Victory Condition - Defend for 6 turns

Defeat Condition - Micaiah/Sothe/Volug/NPC dies; Defended Area is captured

Roster: Micaiah, Sothe, Volug, Nolan, Edward, Aran, Ilyana, Leonardo, Laura

We're using superfluous characters to help block off a certain ledge very close to the beginning of the map.

This map looks easy enough - low turn count and a defend chapter. However, it is beholden to the most suicidal AI (barring maybe one map much further into the game) that FE has been witness to. You have to ensure, while keeping the oh-so-fragile Dawn Brigade alive, that Jill, Tauroneo and Zihark (all returning characters) don't kill themselves.

Tauroneo can't die - he's far too powerful, while Zihark has the avoid needed to survive. Jill however, is a pansy and will die in 2-3 hits. They also tend to think that killing the enemy and risking getting swarmed is better than healing.

I don't even remember how many times I restarted thanks to Jill imploding on random soldiers and getting that infernal Game Over screen, but I ended up stopping and taking 3 days off just to recover and approach the chapter with a fresh mindset and all that.

The basic strategy for this chapter is as follows:

1) Kill some enemies near start of map and block ledge

2) Send Sothe down with Bronze Knife to deal with mages/soldiers/myrm reinforcements (and steal a Master Seal)

3) Volug goes up ledge and kills things

4) Nolan intercepts some soldiers with Bloody Claw

5) Micaiah and Edward block ledge from top, and being assaulting the enemy units below

6) Volug goes North to reinforce NP Cs

7) PRAY REALLY REALLY HARD THAT JILL DOESN'T DIE

I'm not even going to try to make this sound less tedious than it is because it is the worst chapter in Part I thanks to the NPC units. There are also some more obtainable items - a concoction and a coin, as well as stealing a Shine Barrier from the boss, but I didn't bother as they're not really that important.

1) Concoction - Restores HP by 40 points. 6 Uses.

2) Shine Barrier - Temporarily makes one square impassable by both allied and enemy units. Useful for chokepoints in Defend chapters, but rare.

Next Time - Together We Ride: A two-part special

P.S. You might have noticed that the Base Prep stuff is almost as long as the actual battle thanks to the Information Explosion. That's purely because even the littlest detail matters in Hard Mode, and I've purposely cut out the parts where I realise that I've forgotten to rearrange skills and then I die really fast anyway.

6th Nov '11 6:19:04 AM flag for mods
comments
Actually, I believe one of the "disadvantages" of forging in the American version is that you cannot exploit an oversight in the Japanese version when you get the Silver Card. It allows you to buy items for the same price as selling them, so you could just buy and resell items over and over to get as many points as you wanted. But the system being actually balanced in the US version still makes up for it.
Emperordaein 6th Nov 11
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