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  #61  
Old 06-30-2014, 08:37 PM
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Hello there everyone. Welcome back to Let's Play Vandal Hearts! In our previous update, we stubbornly made our way through some "haunted" ruins and reduced some clay golems to rubble. Golems which, it turns out, were summoned by one Eleni Dunbar, the daughter of Magnus Dunbar, who is the missing General that we've been sent to find. She and her elderly tutor Huxley decided to tag along in hopes of clearing her father's name. We join our heroes as they cross the Rhine bridge on their way to the port city of Minato.



Huxley is worried. That's sort of his thing. That doesn't make him wrong, though...



Does Clint know something we don't?



Ah. It would seem that Clint was the only person not staring at his feet.



Looks like Dr. Sam Beckett has leaped into Diego's body. If he's looking to put right what once went wrong, that probably doesn't bode well for what's coming.

(I apologize profusely to everyone on whom the Quantum Leap reference was lost, which is probably most of you.)



As per usual, Ash isn't worried. If I had his stats, I wouldn't be worried either.



This is a pretty bold statement, given the amount of blood in this game. Especially if he thinks he's going to win.



Unless they've found some way to kill us from the other end of the map...







At this point, I think diving into the river would be a marked improvement.



This is the kind of wisdom that only comes with age.



Brilliant plans like this are why Ash is in charge.
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  #62  
Old 06-30-2014, 08:38 PM
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We just have the standard win/loss conditions again, but this battle is anything but standard. As Ash just said, we need to cross this bridge before it collapses, and he wasn't kidding. At the beginning of each of our turns, the rearmost row of bridge tiles will explode, and anyone standing on those tiles will be killed instantly. This wouldn't be so bad, but, as you can see, there's a lot of red waiting at the other end of the bridge to greet us, so we won't be moving forward any more than strictly necessary.

To be honest, I find that the biggest risk in this battle is forgetting about this mechanic and leaving someone on the rear row. Eagle-eyed viewers may notice a continuity error or two below, as I usually play through these battles a couple of times to get the screenshots I want, and I made this mistake more than once while compiling this update. Note that there are no items on this map, hidden or otherwise (or at least, none that I'm aware of), so we just need to worry about not standing in the explosions and killing everything in our way.



So, uh, how exactly did these brigands tame the forces of Hell? I'd speculate that this is just a colourful name for more mundane bats, but a quick look at that mugshot tells a different story. Maybe they've been sacrificing the corpses of passing merchant trains?

In any case, as you can see, the enemies in this battle are actually one level lower than the previous encounter's golems, but there are more of them, and they're in a much tighter space. The Hell Bats in particular are a real pain, with high mobility, high damage, and one annoying additional mechanic that I'll be highlighting shortly.



I check every enemy unit's range and use my first turn to carefully position my crew just outside their reach so I can swarm in and kill as many as possible on my next turn. This concludes our first lesson of SRPG 101.



Roughly half of the enemy forces rush forward to greet me, with the bats using their superior range to get out well in front. They'll be the first to die.



Huxley's earlier misgivings about these kinds of bridges being unsafe seem pretty ludicrous given that this one is weathering multiple explosions like this and not just crashing into the water in one piece or even so much as catching on fire.



That is a very good question, Diego.



Then maybe you shouldn't waste them so readily by sending them to attack armed strangers?

(You may notice that Eleni's eyes are closed in several of the above screenshots. Eleni is unique among the characters that I've collected thus far in that her battle sprite blinks constantly as part of its idle animation. The blinking headshots already bother me, but this drives me absolutely crazy.)



I think it's cute that the game takes the time to address this. I'd have preferred an army of golems though...



Alright, let's check out what our new Mage can do. I have her sidle up beside one of the bats so that she can provide a support bonus, and then attack the other bat with her only spell, Dark Star. It attacks a single target within four spaces at a cost of 2MP, which means that she can cast it seven times with her current MP pool.



As soon as Elini begins to cast, Clint cowers beneath his shield and Huxley holds up his staff as if to ward something away and begins to grit his teeth. What's wrong, guys?



Uhh... are we sure we're the good guys? That blocky bit of CG in the 2nd screenshot distorts and rotates around the monster while warbly theremin sounds play. You can better see the rest of my party cowering in that last shot. The Hell Bats can take quit a beating though, so this one is left just under half health when the distortion dissipates.
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  #63  
Old 06-30-2014, 08:40 PM
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These Hell Bats may be sturdy, but they're still fliers, which means that Archers have their number. And that number is their max HP in damage.



I move Clint forward to attack the remaining bat in the face. I'm a bit worried that he won't be able to finish it off, but I'm not comfortable moving anyone forward to provide support, as that would leave them sitting ducks for next turn's counter-attack.



Sure enough, the bat is left with 2 measly HP. Clint braces for a counter-attack.



The text pulsates from small to large size, and, since I had poor timing, it's almost impossible to see in that second shot, but if you squint then you may notice some letters between the 1 and the 9. Those letters spell "Poisoned", which graduate the bats from annoyance to giant pain-in-the-ass. Poison is really rough in this game, causing high damage on each turn and remaining until either it's cured or the sufferer dies. Fortunately, the bats aren't guaranteed to inflict it on each hit.



I'm not about to let that happen, so Ash immediately moves next to Clint and uses an Elixir from his inventory.





Well, either Clint's poison is cured or he was targeted by an orbital strike and is about to ascend to heaven. Either way, it certainly looks impressive.



Huxley is the only character left to act, and he uses his turn to top off Clint's health total. Like Eleni, Huxley has 14 MP, but his Healing spell costs 3 MP, so with only four casts he can't lean on it quite as heavily.



It's not the most visually exciting spell. At least Ash's heal has a fairy. Still, it gets the job done.



The remaining bat continues its assault on Clint, flying around to hit him from behind. Fortunately, it didn't manage to poison him this time.



Clint finishes it off with his counter-attack and gains a level in the process.
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  #64  
Old 06-30-2014, 08:42 PM
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I quite intentionally positioned my characters in a line so that the bandits couldn't all gang up on the same target. This first bandit to attack demonstrates some very poor decision-making by deciding to attack Ash. This is actually rather annoying, as I was hoping to leverage my newly-swollen ranks in such a way as to minimize Ash's experience gains. Hopefully the counter-attack won't kill him.



Almost, but not quite, thankfully. If Ash had killed him, then he would have not only taken all of the experience for this kill, but the next bandit likely would have lined up immediately for a similar exchange.



The next bandit is much smarter than his friend, as he decides to attack the old man. With only 40 max HP, Huxley can't take many hits like that.



Huxley does surprisingly decent melee damage, all things considered. His attack animation is pretty great too, as he draws back his staff with both hands and shakes it around a bit before smacking the enemy with it. I like to think that he mutters something about "whippersnappers" or "damn kids" as he does so.





The enemy Archers must have noticed Huxley's low health total as well, as they decide to gang up and move in for the kill. Huxley barely scrapes by with 2 HP remaining.



The pieces of bridge actually land in the water and are quickly carried off-screen by the current, which I think is a nice touch.



Ash, an Archer holding the high ground just offered her help, and you're staring a quartet of bandits in the face while a bridge explodes behind you. Maybe save the questions for later?



The game immediately gives us control over Kira. There are a couple of tempting targets to her east, since those bats are just begging for an arrow to the face (not to mention a tempting boulder to kick), but we have more pressing concerns at the moment.



I move her to the west and have her take aim at the rear-most enemy Archer. Since she's at a higher elevation and shooting at maximum range, he won't be able to retaliate.



I love Kira's facial expression here.



Ash is apparently fond of it too. You could argue that he's impressed by her ability, but she hasn't actually done anything yet. For all he knows, she's about to shoot herself in the foot. Maybe he's just impressed that she's willing to fight in that outfit: between her wide stance and that bolt of cloth, there's very little left to the imagination below the belt.



Not bad. Six remaining HP leaves ripe pickings for one of my new casters to rack up some much-needed experience points.
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  #65  
Old 06-30-2014, 08:43 PM
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I begin this turn's bridge offensive by having Clint and Huxley clean up the front pair of bandits. Leaving Huxley at 2 HP is a bit of a risky choice, but I don't intend to leave anyone nearby alive to hurt him next turn, and he needs the XP.



Eleni softens up the front-most Archer so that it can be finished off without a counter-attack. He looks appropriately terrified.



Ash wouldn't be my first choice to snag the kill, but as I said earlier, I can't leave anything alive that can hurt Huxley. Doing things in the opposite order and having Ash soften up the Archer for Eleni to finish off wasn't an option, as I'm reasonably certain that an attack from Ash would have killed him in one shot.



Diego mops up the remaining Archer and snags a level up.



The remaining enemy forces mobilize on their next turn. The bats file forwards towards Kira, and the Bandits move onto the bridge in formation.



This shot makes it look as if the bridge tiles are being launched into orbit.



I begin by having Kira move into position to attack one of the bats. Attacking from melee range is risky, as she'll suffer a possibly poisonous counter-attack if she misses, but I want the bonuses from elevation and facing to make certain that she kills it in one shot.



The only counter-attack that she needs to worry about is getting blood in her eyes.



I decide to make this a positioning and recovery turn for the bridge crew, so Huxley heals himself and I revert to my line formation from earlier with one important difference: since there are no remaining enemy Archers, I can safely soak an attack with each caster, so I position them in the centre of the formation to net them some counter-attack XP. Being on the edges, Ash and Clint are just outside of enemy melee range.



Archers >> Fliers.
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  #66  
Old 06-30-2014, 08:45 PM
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The bandits bravely attempt to kill an old man and a little girl, but both Huxley and Eleni do more damage in reprisal than they receive.



At this point, I'm staring to enjoy the fact that each of my turns begins with a badass explosion at my back. Ash and co. should belt out a CSI-style "yeaaaaah!" to accompany it.



The two trailing bandits have wisely lined up outside of Kira's range, so she decides to play with this nearby boulder. I have no idea why this boulder is here. Even if Kira decided to rush the bats earlier instead of assisting the bridge group, it would still make more sense to attack them with her bow rather than the rock.



Wheeeee.



Eleni kicks things off by hitting the weakest bandit with Dark Star. Unfortunately, it's not quite enough to snag her a kill.





Clint and Diego handily finish off the closest pair of bandits.



I have Huxley move out front and heal himself to full, which earns him a level up. My hope is that the bandits will both attack him next turn and give him yet more delicious XP.



By the same token, I hide Ash in the back where he won't take any XP for himself.

Last edited by JBear; 06-30-2014 at 11:24 PM.
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  #67  
Old 06-30-2014, 08:46 PM
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As intended, the first bandit goes after Huxley, and much like before, the old man gives better than he got.



The second bandit gets a support attack from the rear, but Huxley blocks that giant cutlass like a boss. That's one sturdy staff.



Clearly the bandit is as shocked as I was.



Huxley has left both remaining bandits weakened, so all that's left to do here is clean-up.



Eleni seems very adept at leaving enemy targets clinging to life. This would be great if she weren't the one who I'm presently trying to funnel experience to. To that end, I stall for time and let both bandits live for another turn.



Her next attempt to finish him off doesn't go much better though, as he gets the clutch 1 HP block. I was able to catch a nice shot of Eleni's attack animation though. She pulls her staff back and twirls it rapidly before striking forward. It looks pretty nifty in motion.



I'm running low on heals and patience, so I let Diego finish one of the bandits off.



Eleni finally manages to kill the last bandit with a 2nd Dark Star. Note that enemies killed with this attack don't actually die with our customary blood geyser, but rather are just distorted out of existence.



Eleni celebrates our victory by finally getting her level up, putting my entire team at level 8.



All of these rewards are starting to add up. I should probably consider spending some of it.
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  #68  
Old 06-30-2014, 08:49 PM
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A mercenary, eh? Hey, maybe I'll be able to put that gold to use after all.



I'm increasingly convinced that Clint thinks harshing on Diego is part of his job description. His business card reads Clint Picard, professional wet blanket.



Where do I sign?



Diego is completely unbiased.



Hey look, it's another "decision". First let's look at option #1:



Pretty short and sweet. How about #2?





Number two results in a Diego fist-pump and cheer, so it is the clear best choice.



Hey, we know her. Her name is Kira, and she has a bow. What more do you need to know?



You'll notice that Clint doesn't contradict Diego's statement here.



Not pictured: Diego flirting with Kira around the campfire while Clint sits on the other side frowning in disapproval.

(If I could draw, I'd be fanart-ing the shit out of that.)

Last edited by JBear; 06-30-2014 at 11:24 PM. Reason: My auto-correct thinks that Clint's name is Client
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  #69  
Old 06-30-2014, 08:53 PM
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Ash is playing some beautiful music here, but I'm uncertain what instrument he's using. My best guess is an ocarina, given the sound produced and the way he's holding it. In any case, this is one of those pieces of music that fans have done to death but that it's very difficult to find the original of (there are a few versions of the song, called Bygone Days, on the OST, but none of them are this single-instrument version). I did manage to find it though, at 1:40 in this video. I'd encourage everyone to let it play in the background while reading the following scene; it sets the mood quite nicely.



She's not wrong.



No, some jackass was playing his ocarina in the middle of the night.



Ash: "But you should know that it's possible that your dad really is a traitor. It's also possible that he has reasons that neither of us know about. I want you to be ready to judge for yourself when the time comes."



"...but I trust my father completely! The truth is... I'm adopted. 15 years ago, Magnus found me. My parents had been killed in the war and I couldn't remember who I was or what my name was. But Magnus loved me as if I was his own flesh and blood. That's why I'll always trust my father even if no one else does."



Ash: "No. Don't be sorry. He doesn't deserve it. My father was a soldier in the Liberation army. But he switched sides and died a traitor's death. My mother and I faced constant humiliation..."



To remind everyone, Ash's last name is actually Lambert. Maybe the translator had a bit of a Freudian slip after that ocarina playing?







Before we go, here's a quick look at Kira, our newest recruit:



She's pretty comparable to Diego in all respects. Despite what the narrative seemed to imply, we don't actually need to pay her. Maybe we expect the commander to cover her fee?



Next time: We visit the port city of Minato in search of a boat to Gillbaris island. Maybe a port city will finally have a tavern where the patrons like to get their drink on? Or will I have tired of that schtick by then? Find out next update!
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  #70  
Old 06-30-2014, 09:54 PM
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Archers >> Fliers.
That's a filthy lie and you know it.
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  #71  
Old 07-01-2014, 08:24 PM
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Fliers are truly like unto Grecian gods.

I vote that we turn Huxley into a monk. Sara can be our healer... or another monk!
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  #72  
Old 07-04-2014, 05:29 AM
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I am loving this LP so far, bringing back a ton of memories. I remember this was one of the first times I noticed the ocarina as being the Official Instrument of the JRPG Protagonist, accept no substitutes. Especially not a harp. Grr.
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  #73  
Old 07-04-2014, 09:06 AM
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That's a filthy lie and you know it.
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Fliers are truly like unto Grecian gods.
To be fair, I meant that more in the specific sense of Paper >> Rock, rather than weighing their objective merits. That being said, I do have to admit that I'm less fond of the flying units than most people. I just really like Archers. I typically only make one flier; two at most. They're very useful for snagging out-of-the-way loot and circumventing environmental obstacles, but there are some maps where their weakness to arrows leaves them cowering in fear on the back line.

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I vote that we turn Huxley into a monk.
On the other hand, I'm right there with the rest of the Internet on everything >> Monk. I live in fear of how many you guys may decide to saddle me with.

Admittedly though, Huxley is the coolest-looking Monk (especially in comparison to how he looks otherwise), and I'd probably like to show off at least one of every class (and I may or may not decide to enforce that when it comes time to vote if the vote results completely exclude any classes).

Quote:
Originally Posted by SladeForrester View Post
I am loving this LP so far, bringing back a ton of memories.
Thanks!

I probably should have brought this up earlier, but I want to make it clear that, since this is my first LP, I'd love to hear any criticisms or suggestions. For instance, I'm constanting second-guessing my choice of screenshot size, and wondering if I should be trying to reduce the overall number of them as well (or, conversely, including even more, rather than resorting to the occasional text dump for long conversations).
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  #74  
Old 07-19-2014, 12:51 AM
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Greetings. Welcome back to Let's Play Vandal Hearts! In our previous update, we were ambushed by bandits who, even with the aid of an exploding bridge at our backs, were unable to take us, thanks in part to the timely assistance of traveling mercenary archer Kira Wulfstan. We join our heroes as they arrive at the port city of Minato, hoping to book passage to Gillbaris island in search of Eleni's adoptive father, the decorated revolutionary hero and suspected insurgent General Magnus Dunbar.



I agree, Clint: Ash is actually on board with my plan to head straight to the tavern.



Maybe it has something to do with the bandits that have been camped out by the only bridge into town?



So, of course, since Ash actually wants to go to the tavern for once, I decide to go shopping instead.



Not really, fella. You seem to just be selling all of the same stuff that was being sold in the capital.



However, I haven't gone shopping since Huxley joined, and this Wool Robe is a nice upgrade for only 70 gold.



New gear can be equipped automatically at time of purchase, and the merchants will offer to buy the gear that you're replacing, so shopping is surprisingly painless given how antiquated the inventory interface feels in general.



Time to go pick a fight with some drunken sailors.



"The pirate, Hassan, has been prowling this area recently. Everyone's so afraid that all trade has been brought to a halt."

With all of these roving brigands and pirates, I'm not sure how any business gets conducted in Ishtaria. We first joined our heroes while they were on bandit-hunting duty, and it seems to me that we should be doing our jobs rather than being sent on wild goose chases.



"...all contact's been cut off cause of that damned pirate! I hope he's okay."

I'm sure he's fine: piracy pays well. (Use pronouns responsibly, kids!)



"Pirates in the sea and monsters in the sand. What's next?"

Tusken raiders and sea monsters?



Well, looks like this was a bust. At least talk of pirates and monsters is a step up from politics. Maybe we should ask around for a ship at the harbour instead of polling the local drunks?



His name is Grog Drinkwater? I like him already.



Let's!
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  #75  
Old 07-19-2014, 12:57 AM
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*knock knock knock*



You're excused. Don't let it happen again.



Looks like Ash heard that burp through the door. I think the jig might be up, Grog.

(In case it's not clear, that last frame is totally a belching animation.)



Well, at least he's a high-class drunk.



Be careful, Ash: he looks mean, he smells drunk, and those bottles that he's dual-wielding look like they have some heft.



"We want to hire you and your ship to take us to Gillbaris island. Of course we will pay you handsomely."

I'm surprised that Clint's not suggesting that we arrest ourselves for unlawful entry.



Dare I hope that Ash is suggesting that we all have a drink and join Grog on the floor?



Not so much. The screen fades to black and then fades back in to imply the passage of time here. I guess everyone just stood there watching him drink for a few hours? I don't know where the rest of the party is during this
scene, but I like to think that they've been left to wait at the tavern, where Kira is buying drinks for Eleni while Huxley frets.



I dunno, Ash. Grog doesn't look like he needs much in the way of protection, so if he's worried, maybe you should be worried too.



Ash agrees to this ridiculous challenge without hesitation. I think all of these effortless victories are starting to go to his head.



Ash and Clint file out the front door without even acknowledging Diego's concern. That's stone cold, guys.



Grog's concerned for our safety, but not so concerned that he makes any effort to stop us or bothers to get his ass up off the floor. Grog is a man who has his priorities in order.



Surely Ash doesn't expect us to go fight a sand monster while sober?



Will we, Ash? Will we really? I'm going to hold you to that.
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:10 AM
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"Sand Dunes of Sea"? This game's translation is generally pretty competent, but it certainly has a few warts. If I'm being charitable, maybe the local area is called "Sea"?



I love Eleni's expression here. Poor Huxley.



Looks like we're about to find out, Kira.





That kind.



I would too if the bugs where I was from looked anything like that monstrosity.



No fancy win conditions here, and as you can see, the terrain is entirely unremarkable. This is a good ol' fashioned boss battle, and our one and only goal is to kill it dead.



Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Death Ant. With a beefy 88 HP and AT & DF over 50, it's built to both take and deliver a beating. We do have one advantage that I fully intend to leverage, though. Notice that little shield icon above its name? This is our first Armor-type enemy. Do you recall what the weapon chart has to say about that?



Yes, this overgrown "ant" is weak against magic, and I intend to shove as much of it down its throat as possible.



Unfortunately, we have more than just the head to contend with. As you saw when it first burrowed out of the ground, it has six arms that can each be targeted individually. Upon closer inspection though, they look like a joke? With only 13 HP and 8 DF, they can be killed by a stiff breeze. What are we missing?



That lead arm makes for a very tempting target, and I think that's by design, since attacking a single arm on the first turn nicely introduces the player to this battle's central gimmick. However, attacking it out of the gate is probably a mistake. As you can see, the head's movement range is such that anyone moving into position to attack that lead arm will be a sitting duck for the head on it's first turn, and will be unlikely to make it through this battle alive. First-time players can be forgiven for making this mistake though, since it's really unclear which parts of this boss, if any, are actually capable of moving.



With all of this in mind, I carefully arrange my party such that everyone is just out of attack range of everything save for that front-most arm. I briefly considered just going for a more entertaining yolo rush forward, since that's clearly playing the game as intended, but that single arm's attack and my subsequent counter-attack should be sufficient to demonstrate at least one of the two key mechanics at play here.







The key word above was should. The game is apparently determined to ruin my LP, as the arm and Clint just exchange a pair of blocks, allowing me to demonstrate nothing. Trololol.
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  #77  
Old 07-19-2014, 01:13 AM
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Apparently the head just decided to leave? Did... did we win?





This ant really knows how to make an entrance. Yes, it makes a hill wherever it moves to, which makes the terrain uneven and unpredictable. Upward movement is costly in this game, so you'll want to keep your party fairly clustered, or else you'll have difficulty reaching the head with many of your attacks. You could say that this is going to be an uphill battle.



Ash's dialogue here probably assumes that the player has done something during the previous turn to gain some information that we don't have. Still, it's pretty intuitive that the head has to die.



Before we get to that, though, let's see if we can thin out this clump of arms a little and get some breathing room. No one needs healing at the moment, and I'm not in a hurry to have Huxley trade blows with that monstrosity (and he probably wouldn't be too keen on it, either), so I have him move down and attack the nearest arm. Just as the stat sheet implied, he's able to trivially dispatch it.



Clint takes out another arm with little difficulty. If these arms have any tricks up their sleeves (), they'd better try something soon or there won't be any of them left.



Diego, what are you doing? We've already shown everyone how not to Archer in a previous update. You have so much to live for!



Ah, I see. Carry on then.



After only four attacks, this ant is already down to only two arms. I can already taste those drinks that Ash promised us.
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  #78  
Old 07-19-2014, 01:16 AM
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Alright, enough of the small stuff; it's time for the main event. Some of you may recall that Ash picked up an attack spell after an earlier battle. I said at the time that, although he'd typically be better off using his sword, I was certain that he'd find an opportunity to make good use of the spell. I was talking about this battle.

Attacking with magic in this situation has two big advantages to recommend it. First of all, as I already said, the head is weak against magic. Secondly, by using magic instead of his sword, Ash avoids provoking a counter-attack, even when casting at point-blank range. Given the amount of damage that this bug is capable of dealing, we want to give it as few attacks as possible.





One-quarter of the head's health in a single shot. Not content to just be our best physical fighter, Ash is apparently also determined to upstage our casters.



Alright Eleni, the bar has been set at 22 damage. You're up.





So close.



With four of six arms out of commission and the head at just above half health, the monster had better make this turn a good one, or it will be its last.





Uh oh. Well that's a good start. Yes, what most players will discover after their first turn is that the reason the arms have the staying power of wet paper is that they regenerate. They spawn on the corners of the map and are immediately able to move and act. So this fight is essentially a race to take out the head before the arms are able to overwhelm you.





Oh, and did I mention that their attacks paralyze? Their attacks paralyze. I only left two arms alive, but those two arms were able to quickly incapacitate a third of my party.



Clint is hurt and paralyzed, and the head smells blood. This is going to hurt.



Those drinks that I said I could taste earlier? They taste like hubris.
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:19 AM
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Alright, that turn was rough, but I only need to kill one target to end this battle, and I think my four remaining active party members are up to the task. Let's get to it.





Dammit, Ash leveled up. That makes him my sole level 9 character, and for reasons that I'll discuss in a later update, having Ash as your highest-level party member is bad.



This is the best idea. Note that even though he's paralyzed, Clint's body still provides a support bonus to Huxley's attack.



That... actually went pretty well. Given that the head hit Clint for more damage than Huxley's max HP, it would seem that paralysis increases damage taken in some fashion.



With triple support and rear-facing bonuses, Diego is hoping to end this now. Meanwhile, I'm hoping that he'll leave the monster clinging to life so that Eleni can deal the killing blow.



Well done, Diego. I can always depend on you to not quite close the deal.



Eleni, if you would do the honors...



The Death Ant quietly winks out of existence. Enjoy your consignment to the Abyss!



The arms are worth no gold (or experience). If you position properly and go for broke, it's possible to end this battle on turn two without missing out on anything. That wouldn't have made for a particularly informative or entertaining update though.
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:26 AM
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It damn well better. I don't kill giant sand monsters for free.



Umm... no? We had a deal. Make with the boat or imma get it from you Final Fantasy I style.



Ash strikes a pretty commanding pose here when he thrusts his hand out to silence Diego.



Ash is laying down some hard truth.





I feel for you Grog, but if the first words out of your mouth today aren't "take my boat", I'm going to go bury you in that desert.



That's more like it!



Drunken sailor get!



(This was the only shot I was able to capture it in, since it's part of his talking animation, but Grog has an adorable gap in his teeth.)

Sounds great, Grog. However, I think Ash has a promise to keep first...
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:31 AM
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Hey, can you find a glass?



The place with the purple fog and hidden temple? You don't say.



What are the odds that that's not where we're headed?



Waaay ahead of you buddy.



You'll be... impressed enough to buy us a round?



FINALLY, someone in one of these taverns is interested in talking about something inconsequential. Care to join me for a drink?



That works too! Um... what is it, exactly?

(Note that there's a pretty narrow window to get this item, and it's a pretty important one. If you miss this conversation then you're shit outta luck.)



We're working on it. But about that key? Nothing? Alright then.



The inventory screen isn't much more enlightening. Hrm, where have I heard someone talk about keys before?



Ooo. I think we'll leave this for a later update, but it's definitely on the to-do list.



Alright, let's set sail!



But first, let's take a look at our newest party member.

Hrm, his gear is terrible. Most importantly, he's not wearing pleather. THIS CANNOT STAND.





Much better.



Well, everyone in town was talking about a pirate terrorizing the local waters, and our next map node is explicitly at sea, but this is an RPG, so a sea monster battle isn't out of the question.

Next Time: Let's get kraken? Oh who am I kidding; it's pirates.
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBear View Post


Well, at least he's a high-class drunk.
That's not always the case. Haven't you ever heard of Thunderbird?
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Old 08-22-2014, 02:36 PM
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Hello all. Welcome to Let's Delay Vandal Hearts!

I've been on vacation for most of the last month and moved into a new place besides, so I've fallen behind on my LP updates. I'm still getting settled into the new place, but I don't want to leave the thread silent for over a month, so please enjoy a quick fillerartwork update.

There happens to be very little in the way of official Vandal Hearts artwork, and what little exists is, to be honest, not particularly good. As far as I am aware, the sole source of it is the official Japanese strategy guide published by Konami. The guide has character artwork for all of the main cast, the first half of which I'll dump today in the order that they are introduced. These images also technically appear in the instruction booklet, but they're shrunken and monochrome.



First up is Ash, the hero of our tale, looking unusually menacing. The small black & white version of this picture that appears in the instruction booklet always had me convinced that there was a printing error, but no, turns out that the original also looks like someone scribbled all over it. I think that they're supposed to represent sword slashes, but you tell me that this doesn't look like the artist decided that he hated his drawing and tried to erase it with a dirty pencil eraser.



Next up is Diego, the most lovable member of our merry band, although this image absolutely fails to capture that in the same way that his in-game portrait does. It also sort of looks like the artist got tired when it came time to draw the legs and just sort of phoned them in. Either that or Diego is crippled from the knees down and hides it very effectively.



Next up is Clint, professional wet blanket. He looks quite imposing here, and clearly follows the Cloud Strife school of weaponry. Either that or he's using a sharpened pole to carve out some kind of metal canoe.



I don't really have anything disparaging to say about Eleni's artwork. The worst that I could say of it is that it is perhaps a bit perfunctory, but I kind of like it, to be honest.



Huxley, meanwhile, is perhaps a bit rougher around the edges, but his expression has more character to it, making this my favourite of today's drawings. I like to think that he's chiding Diego just off-camera saying "No, this is my staff. You can't borrow it."



Kira's ass is just as uncovered and lovingly-rendered in the game as it appears here, so props to the sprite artists for that, I guess?


To be honest, the best thing to come from the official Konami guide isn't the artwork, but the list of Japanese character names, as it gave me this little gem that I'll leave you with: although most of the North American names are similar, and some are hands-down better ("Grog Drinkwater" >> "Lador Marx"), there is at least one amazing character name that was regrettably lost in translation; the dreaded Hassan the Pirate, who we heard several people speak of during my previous update, and who we'll be seeing more of next update, was apparently formerly known as Red Rum the Pirate. Red Rum. I'll pour out a glass of rum in honour of that awesome lost name.

Next update: muR deR?
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Old 08-30-2014, 02:37 PM
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Hello there everyone! Welcome back to Let's Play Vandal Hearts!

I know that it's a been a while since our last update, so let's begin by recapping the story thus far:

Our tale takes place in Ishtaria, a fledgling republic founded 15 years ago, following a revolutionary war to overthrow a corrupt noble class, the Holy Ashah Dynasty. The rebel army was led by Arris the Sage, who disappeared shortly after his victory.

Our initial trio of protagonists (consisting of Captain Ash Lambert, Diego Renault, and Clint Picard) are soldiers in the Ishtarian DSF (Domestic Security Forces). We first joined our heroes just in time to help them clean up a group of bandits under the leadership of Zoot Gach, who was mysteriously roaming free despite the fact that Ash's squad had captured and imprisoned him only months earlier. Perplexed, we headed back to our headquarters in the capital city of Shumeria to report our concerns to our direct superior, Commander Clive Beckett.

It was during that return visit to the capital that we had the misfortune of crossing paths with Kane Spites, leader of the fearsome Crimson Guard and son of the Ishtarian Minister of Defense, Hel Spites. The Crimson Guard had been sent in to pacify a small group of former nobles that had rallied to the defense of Count Roland Claymore when the army arrived to take him in for questioning regarding the recent murder of Councilman Smetana. We secured the rebel group's surrender and supervised their disarming, after which Kane oversaw the massacre of the defenseless nobles and arrested Count Claymore. Commander Beckett arrived just in time to defuse the situation as Ash and Kane prepared to cross swords.

The following day, Ash was briefed on the political landscape by Dolf Crowley, who'd been sent to mediate the dispute between the DSF and the Crimson Guard. Under the pretense of sending the squad away on leave to relieve tensions, he gave us a top secret assignment: we were to travel to Gillbaris island to investigate the disappearance of General Magnus Dunbar, hero of the revolutionary war and currently 2nd in command of the Ishtarian Defense Ministry. He had gone missing 3 months prior after travelling to the island with a squad of hand-picked soldiers, which, rumour has it, was at the behest of Hel Spites in support of plans for a coup d'etat.

On our journey to the east coast, we added several travelling companions to our entourage: Eleni Dunbar, adopted daughter of Magnus, who wants to clear her father's name; her tutor Huxley Hobbes, a perpetually fretting old man who just wants to keep his young charge out of trouble; Kira Wulfstan, a mercenary archer who came to our rescue during a bandit attack; and, most recently, Grog Drinkwater, a former sailor who'd recently been holed up in his home drinking to cope with the recent loss of his brother at the hands of pirates, until we convinced him to take us to Gillbaris Island.

We've also had several revelations on our trip: Ash's father was a soldier in the revolutionary army who betrayed the cause and died a traitor, and Commander Beckett has served as his surrogate father figure since; Dolf Crowley is in league with Hel Spites and the two of them are clearly up to no good, with our mission to Gillbaris island somehow serving their plans; and, finally, someone in our travelling party is a spy who is working for Dolf (and to be clear, these last two points are only known to the player, not our heroes).




Alright, that's it for the recap! We join our heroes as they prepare to set sail for Gillbaris island aboard Grog's ship, hoping to elude the pirates that are known to patrol these waters. If they're successful, then this is going to be a pretty boring update!









I love this sequence. The metal lining the other ship's hull and the sound that it makes on approach implies that it's powered by an engine of some sort. That doesn't explain why our ship is without sails though. Anyway, surprising absolutely no one: PIRATES!



Even Grog was expecting it.



That is a face that only a mother could love. Also, for some reason his face always looks as if he's leaning back away and looking down his nose at something that either terrifies or infuriates him, depending upon his expression. Those crazy eyes of his don't really allow for much else.



"...through anymore. Look! This is no trader, but there's 2 women!"



Ash?!?...
Ash of the Black Wind?!

I really wish someone else would call him that...

(True story: I often make this reference in casual conversation. I know full well that no one else is going to get the joke, but some small part of me always hopes...
Also: I went back to the first update to copy the text for this joke, and I'm really disappointed in myself for not drawing attention to that punctuation the first time around. Look at that mess. That poor interrobang is being attacked by an extra question mark and an ellipsis.)



Oh. Did I miss a memo? I thought we chartered this ship to go to an island...



"You ran away while your friends died one by one! No drunken good for nothing has-been can fight me and live!"

Um, okay, but what about the military squad that's with him and their friend with the ability to distort reality at her whim?



Honestly, I feel like there was an opportunity missed here by not adding Grog's death to the loss condition (or maybe supplanting Ash's death with it entirely). Anyway, although the victory condition is Hassan's death, good luck killing him before his crew, as they'll immediately start funneling their way into those two obvious choke-points while he hangs out in the back. There are again no suspicious squares here, and thus, no hidden items (don't worry though--they'll be back with a vengeance in our next battle).



Here's what we're up against. We've been fighting level 6 enemies since Eleni's golems several updates ago, so these louts aren't very intimidating. Even Hassan looks like kind of a pushover coming off last update's battle versus the Death Ant. At least they're dressed stylishly though, with colour-coordinated red bandannas and matching pirate suits. They'll make for a charming line of corpses.



Ah, what's this though? Hassan can cast Healing. You might think that this could present a problem, but I just hear a couple of my lower level units licking their lips. He has enough MP to cast it 3 times, which means we could potentially be looking at almost 4 health bars worth of delicious boss XP.



We need to get to him first though. This map lends itself to one obvious tactic, and I arrange myself accordingly, with groups of three units blocking each boarding ramp and Huxley waiting between for spot healing on either side as needed. I make what might initially seem to be an odd decision by placing my archers in the centre of each ramp instead of my melee, but my rationale is as follows: once the enemies arrive, I'll be sending my melee in to take the brunt of the offensive, so why not split up the damage a little and have my archers take the opening salvo, exchanging some arrows with the enemy archers in the process and softening them up for later.

The other odd decision I'm making for this battle is to not use Ash at all. I'm already concerned that he's leveling at a faster pace than my other units (which is bad for reasons that I'll get into in a later update), and he shouldn't be needed on this map anyway, since the enemies are only level 6 and only one unit is needed to hold each ramp (and with the addition of Grog I have two melee units even without Ash). So Ash will be taking a supervisory role on the back row in this battle, and this will be the first and last time that I mention him.
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  #85  
Old 08-30-2014, 02:42 PM
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The enemy archers seem on board with my plan, as one lines up on each ramp to take potshots at Kira and Diego.





Kira and Diego of course counterattack in kind, taking almost half of the enemies' HP in exchange for the roughly 1/4 that they lost.





The melee attacks sting a bit more though. Archers apparently aren't well-suited for the front line. Who knew?







Kira and Diego return some point-blank fire, and Kira levels up.



Now let's get them off the front line while I still can.



Kira backs up a step and fires a second arrow into this pirate's face. He's not having a good day, and it's about to get worse.



I can never resist a good opportunity to snag a killing blow for Huxley. None of my melee are hurt yet anyway, and he'll likely need to save all of his MP for healing them.



I don't want to leave Huxley on the front line though, so I have Grog slip by him. I choose not to make an attack though, as that will trigger a counter-attack, and Grog's role at present is to hold his position, not advance. He joined at level 9 anyway, so I'd prefer to give other characters the XP.
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Old 08-30-2014, 02:45 PM
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Diego takes the same back-step and close range shot that Kira did earlier, and snags his own level up for doing so.



Clint steps up and finishes him off in style.





Eleni brings my turn to a close by rearranging the internal organs of the next pirate in line, immediately reducing him to half health. With you-know-who not participating, you might notice that this ramp's group packs a bit more punch than the other. This is intentional, as, given their distance from the boss, I want this side to advance faster so that they can board the other ship first and arrive in time to flank Hassan as he attacks the other group.





Enemy archers can never resist taking shots at a healer, but Huxley took the arrow on the shaft of his staff. Knowing what's coming, I'm just going to tell you that Huxley decided to take this opportunity to step up and replace our fearless leader as king badass. I'm not complaining.





Grog and Clint, meanwhile, just get their dumb asses shot. I guess they only teach arrow blocking in the seminary.



Grog takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'.



I loves Grog's attack so much. The animation is okay, as it effectively communicates a meaty blow, but the real star of the show is the noise he makes as he does so, sounding for all the world as if he's drunkenly retching on his opponents.





On the other side, Clint isn't able to finish off the pirate that Eleni weakened with his counterattack, but he does snag a level up for the effort.
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Old 08-30-2014, 02:47 PM
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I begin my next turn by having Kira fire on the front-most pirate on her ramp. I doubt that this arrow will kill him (although, with the support bonus, it's an outside possibility), but Grog's attack certainly will, so if I'm going to kill him with Grog anyway then I'd prefer that Kira snag some experience while I'm at it.



Sure enough, she's unable to finish the job. Grog, if you would do the honours?



Lovely. Again, my primary goal is to minimize the damage that my front line takes, so I'm fine having Grog and Clint attack provided that they stick to dealing killing blows.





Still, 36 is a bit low for comfort, so it's time for Huxley to step back into his assigned role and top Grog off, netting me another level up. I have him head as far towards the other ramp as he can while doing so, as I want him to be able to reach the other group if there's an emergency.



Clint kicks off his ramp's offensive by finishing the job that he couldn't finish during the enemy turn.





Eleni follows up by terrifying another pirate to within an inch of his life, which nets me yet another level up. I guess there's a lot of spare XP to go around when you bench your star player. Level-ups for all!



Diego finishes off the remaining opposition on his ramp. Little do these pirates knows that Clint & Diego are sparing them an afterlife full of torment by preventing Eleni from dealing the killing blow and winking them out of reality.
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Old 08-30-2014, 02:48 PM
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Damn pirates can't ever get enough Grog. Everyone lines up to for a drink, draining him from full to near-empty.



He halves the health of the one pirate he can reach to retaliate though.



Since I completely cleaned the pirates off the far ramp on my previous turn, the back line on this side spent their turn moving into position for more punishment.



After her level up, Eleni can now two-shot the enemy pirates.



If this pirate only knew the favour being done him here. Eleni eyes him menacingly from behind Clint.





Grog needs Huxley's assistance on the other ramp more than anyone in this group does, so I decide that it's time to use my first Herb of the game to prepare Clint for the next enemy turn.
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Old 08-30-2014, 02:50 PM
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No, you're not experiencing Deja Vu: this turn went precisely the same as the previous turn, with Kira shooting an arrow to bring the lead pirate to 4 health and Grog dealing the finishing blow.



What is different this time though is that Grog is now sufficiently injured that Huxley's heal is not quite powerful enough to bring him back to full health.





On the enemy turn, the same two archers again take shots at Grog from behind their friendly meat shield. You'd better enjoy it while you can guys, as playtime's almost over.



We're down to only two remaining pirates on the other ramp, but Clint doesn't look to be enjoying a single arrow to the face any more than Grog.





Second verse, same as the first. I think I may actually let Grog finish this guy off by himself on my turn, as I'm quickly growing tired of those archers hiding in the back and it's time that I do something about it.



Clint's counter-attacks are only doing one less damage than Grog's, but that single point of HP is the difference between two attacks and three attacks per pirate.



Fortunately for Clint, he has backup, so I open my turn by having Diego shoot the lead pirate. Much like Kira though, Diego's support-assisted arrow isn't quite enough to finish the job.



Clint doesn't seem to mind though.
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Old 08-30-2014, 02:52 PM
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Eleni has now decided that she wants to look her enemies right in the eyes as she rends their soul from their flesh. Clint is cowering in fear.



I finally give Grog the satisfaction of dealing with an opponent on his own, to clear a path for my star soldier to make his way to the front-line.





That archer looks pissed. This is going to sting.



Another block. Now Huxley's just showing off. Grog looks on from behind in jealousy as he nurses his wounds.





Kira finishes the lead archer off. All that remains of the enemy ranks are a pair of archers and Hassan himself, who has yet to join the fray.



It was a calculated risk not having Huxley heal Grog on my turn, as he is still very hurt. I'm reasonably confident that Grog can survive this attack, but I'm still a bit nervous.



Grog: Little help?

Huxley: What do I look like, a healer?



Perhaps in an effort to maintain his sanity, this archer has evidently decided that the little girl with the ability to distort reality doesn't exist, and proceeds to fire over her head for a final shot at Clint.



Hassan ends the enemy turn by finally deciding to move up and take matters into his own hands.
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