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Old 08-30-2014, 02:37 PM
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JBear JBear is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Fredericton, NB, Canada
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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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