The Return of Talking Time

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  #181  
Old 02-12-2015, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Gerad View Post
I assume that all this junk the gang is collecting will matter in some way eventually?
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  #182  
Old 02-12-2015, 10:35 AM
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Awww...
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  #183  
Old 02-12-2015, 11:03 AM
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I didn't say none; just not "all".
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  #184  
Old 02-12-2015, 01:55 PM
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At the end of the game, do you beat the final boss by putting a banana peel in front of it, then hitting it in the face with the moon pie so it slips and falls into a death trap?
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  #185  
Old 02-12-2015, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Bunk Moreland View Post
At the end of the game, do you beat the final boss by putting a banana peel in front of it, then hitting it in the face with the moon pie so it slips and falls onto a pointy dirty action figure that causes tetanus?
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  #186  
Old 02-12-2015, 07:35 PM
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JBear, I assume you're joking, right? Which is a shame because that does sound like an awesome way to beat the final boss of any RPG.
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  #187  
Old 02-13-2015, 04:36 AM
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Yeah, after thinking about it, I'd love it if you had to collect all the macguffins to pass the sacred trials of Toroah, and the end result is you use all these stupid random things to create a Rube Goldberg machine that kills the final boss.
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  #188  
Old 02-13-2015, 04:15 PM
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Banana Peel: "Form legs and lower body!"
Toy Soldier: "Form arms and upper body!"
Moon Pie: "And I'll form the head!"
GO VANDAL-TRON FORCE!
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  #189  
Old 03-10-2015, 09:07 AM
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Hello there everyone, and welcome back to Let's Play Vandal Hearts! In our previous update, you made me chase a bunch of archers across a narrow maze of platforms suspended over a pool of lava in some kind of nightmarish hellscape that had trapped a piece of a man's soul. This week, I'm going to subject myself to much worse as I break the game in half in the name of completeness. >_<



But that can wait until the end of the update. For now, we're finally approaching the ancient ruins where General Magnus Dunbar and his zombie army are purported to be holed up.



Apparently the game thinks it's been a long trip too, as the characters helpfully provide a similar summary.



The camera quickly snaps to a couple of hotspots, centering on two blocks that look similar to the switches we've previously seen that operated a drawbridge and a floodgate. These look a bit different though. I wonder what their deal is?



Having been stationed and subsequently imprisoned here not long ago, Amon knows what's up. His advice here is not to be taken lightly-- as you'll soon see, these lifts are ridiculously designed, and you'll be punished if you try to outsmart the game and decline to split into two groups of roughly even size.



Welcome to Castle Ruins I (spoiler!). You'd be forgiven for forgetting that these are ancient ruins, because I think the map designers may have as well, what with the pristine architecture and functioning elevators. After a bit of a break, we're back to the usual load-out of treasures, with two in plain sight and two hidden on conspicuous tiles. Even if you had a much higher resolution image to pour over, you wouldn't be able to find them both, as the mini-map frustratingly hides one of them underneath the 'W' in the compass rose (and the mini-map cannot be panned or rotated).



They both stand out like a sore thumb up close though. I'm not sure what's going on with the stone tile here. It reminds me a bit of the sky castle teleporters from Final Fantasy I.



You also may have noticed a lot of red dots on that mini-map. Fortunately, this map is very firmly divided into two phases, so we won't need to worry about the golems, ghosts, and statues until the second half of the fight begins. None of the enemies in this battle are new, but five different enemy types is the new high-water mark for enemy variety in a story mission.



In the meantime though, we have to contend with a squad of archers peppering us with arrows from above, so I carefully arrange my squad in their blind spots (by having them duck up against the walls) while advancing Dolan and Grog forward far enough to draw out the ground troops.



At the start of the first enemy turn, something odd happens. It's difficult to see with the imps standing on them, but we're seeing a new terrain type at work here. We'll be looking at them in much more detail later, but just note for now that they heal whatever is standing on them each turn and that they're component #1 in the game-breaking exploit that I alluded to earlier. For most players, they're unlikely to be relevant here other than as an opportunity to recharge before taking on the rear enemy ranks.



Things are off to a less-than-stellar start, as the first exchange of blows ends with an enemy block.



The next exchange goes much better though, as Dolan rocks this guy's face for 51 damage and again reminds everyone that he's a Guardsman.
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  #190  
Old 03-10-2015, 09:08 AM
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On the other side of the wall, only a single soldier is able to reach Grog, and he isn't able to accomplish much thanks to the added defense of the thicket that Grog is standing in.

(Check out that sweet action shot I managed to nab in panel 2.)



Both archers move forward to end the turn. Keeping everyone safely out of their line of fire will no longer be possible, but I can still control who they're able to target.



I start the turn by having Kira begin chipping away at the blocker and Dolan finish off the zombie that he injured a moment ago.



Sara closes out the action on this side by topping Dolan off from behind cover while Ash and Amon watch from safely outside bow range.



Eleni kicks off the action on the other side by distorting reality and glowing with dark power as she grows in strength.



Grog attempts to close the deal, but this soldier is having none of it.



Huxley satisfies my love of symmetry as he tucks into the corner and tops off Grog in preparation for next turn's assault.



*grumble*

Well, at least he didn't block this time, I guess.



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  #191  
Old 03-10-2015, 09:10 AM
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Huxley may be safe from arrows, but this zombie smells delicious priest flesh.



Turn Undead!



Do not adjust your monitors: yes, Grog had an identical exchange with the next soldier in line.





I left the two lead archers only one possible target each, so they obediently fire at my intended tanks. All is going to according to plan.



This, on the other hand, was a screw-up, although not a very costly one, since Clint is pretty sturdy and standing on a thicket besides. Getting that archer out of position will make figuring out the safe squares on subsequent turns a little more complicated though.



I covered vertical tolerances for magic in a previous update, but suffice it to say that Eleni is just barely able to reach this imp by standing adjacent to him.



In what is probably an oversight, the Support effect ignores height, so Kira is about to fire a triple-supported bolt into the back of this imp's head. "I got a good feeling!"



This shot actually lost a fair bit of power because of the elevation difference. I guess Kira didn't get the memo.
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  #192  
Old 03-10-2015, 09:15 AM
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Clint and Grog flank and eviscerate one of the soldiers, and Grog is so excited that he jumps up to the top of the wall. Could you maybe hop up on top while you're there, Grog?



A single cast of Healing Plus returns all of my forces on this side to full strength. Healing Plus is so good, you guys. What could Monks possibly get to make up for that loss?








I cannot overemphasize how satisfying that rain of rocks is. Screenshots don't really do it justice, but it is a torrential downpour (with appropriate sound effects). These guys got absolutely hammered. Spectacle isn't a good gauge of effectiveness, but 34 damage is about 1.5 times as effective as Eleni's comparable Piercing Ray. That damage comes at a price though...



That's not a typo. Stone Shower costs a whopping 10 MP, as compared to Piercing Ray's 4 MP, and Monks don't have very deep MP pools. At present, Sara can only cast it twice per battle, and each cast means three fewer Healing spells. Also, unlike Piercing Ray, Stone Shower has an RNG of 0, meaning that the plus-shaped area of effect (indicated by FLD:1) is centred on the caster. This is kind of a theme for all of the Monk abilities going forward, which is admittedly a good thematic fit to a hybrid caster that's intended to wade into the midst of the fray, but tends to limit their effectiveness. To be frank, I'd be lying if I said that Stone Shower was worth losing Healing Plus. It's not even close, but that's not so much a criticism of Stone Shower as it is glowing praise for Healing Plus.



That axe-swinging animation just never gets old. I am so glad that you guys chose to make Dolan a Guardsman.



I knew this was coming, since I left Eleni wide open at the previous turn's end, but I judged taking out one of the elevated imps to be worth the risk. This is almost certainly going to be followed up by a pot-shot from one of the rear imps, but she should be okay.



Eleni was the captain of her mud golem softball team before Ash ruined everything. If she ever tires of bending fell forces to her whim, she has a good back-up career option.



Self-defense instructor is also not off the table.

(To be clear, she just blocked an arrow fired from half-way across the map with a stick.)
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  #193  
Old 03-10-2015, 09:19 AM
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Dolan continues to be harried by the same imp that shot him last turn, and, since Sara spent that turn rending the earth asunder, he's in dire need of healing.



I tried to sneak Amon and Ash forward at the previous turn's end, but this imp is having none of it.



It's nothing that Sara can't easily fix at the start of my next turn though.



Feeling refreshed, Amon flies forward and Examines this left as he hovers over it. You're the one who's been her before, Amon-- show us how it's done.





Well that was exciting. Whoever built this castle evidently decided that the only means of ingress should be a pair of lifts that raise or lower in opposition to each other, like those annoying linked platforms that are in every platforming game ever and never fun.



That I decided to make the whole thing even more ridiculous by having my two flying characters be the first to make use of it (you can see Diego patiently awaiting his turn on the other side) is just icing on the cake.

At least they make cool hydraulic sound effects as they raise and lower.



Like any other Examine action, you're allowed to continue your turn afterwards, so Amon is able to float over and confront the imp that so gleefully shot at him from on high.

This makes these platforms less of a bottleneck than they might appear at first blush, since you can send over half of your team up in a single turn if they're appropriately positioned.



Note that this exchange is the least favourable possible in VH's weapon "triangle", which serves to highlight that it's really not all that important most of the time. A player could likely blunder their way through the game without paying it any mind.



Second verse, same as the first. Now Ash is next in line. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm already kind of sick of these platforms, so I'll spare you any further screenshots of exciting elevator action.



Unlike Amon, Diego falls one square shy of being able to close the distance.



Oh, right, Dolan is dying. I should probably take care of that.



Huxley for MVP. I'm not even kidding. Since he'll be our only dedicated healer for the rest of the game, he is by far the most important member of the squad.
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  #194  
Old 03-10-2015, 09:20 AM
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Grog and Clint surround and dispatch the last of the ground troops.



Clint celebrates by doing squats for some reason.



Kira shoots another imp in the back of the head, and dings level 12.



She also blocks the counter-attack for good measure.



This archer begins the next enemy turn by taking a shot at Eleni, who I explicitly parked in the thicket and didn't heal in hopes of drawing fire. She demonstrates the importance of terrain by taking only a single digit of damage, despite her low DF.

The other remaining archers take shots at Grog and Dolan, who similarly shrug it off.



Kira kicks off the next turn by finishing what she started, leaving only the imps in the centre.



Eleni isn't quite able to get close enough to tag this archer with Dark Star, but Piercing Ray gives her the extra space of wiggle room that she needs.



It's a bit hard to parse out the two sprites here, but Diego is hiding his head in his hands and looking away as Eleni's magic does its grim work.



He's able to regain his composure and finish the job though, and gains a level (the latest of many this battle).



Continuing that symmetry that I love, Amon does the same thing on the other side, which removes the last of the opposition from this first half of the map.
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  #195  
Old 03-10-2015, 09:22 AM
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There's a lot of busy-work to be done before we engage the back half of the map, so it's time to cut to the highlight reel. Rest assured that you missed lots of platforms raising and lowering.





Ash and Clint plunder the chests, which contain a couple of vendor items that I'm unlikely to use.



Sara gains a level as she helps the team recover from the first wave.



Diego finds an IronBoot on the hidden floor tile, but Vandal Hearts doesn't have an equipment slot for feet? It gets sent to the wagon for future study.



Sara has exhausted her MP in helping the squad recover. That could make the next phase of the battle problematic.



Or...



Yes, in addition to recovering HP, these healing tiles also restore 20% of MAX MP (rounded down) each turn, thus sealing my doom. For now though, I just use them to restore Sara and Huxley to full MP.



I still continue to split my party into the same two groups for the second half, for no particular reason. The rear guard won't activate until I push one of these boulders and open a path, so I could just wait up top and let everything come to me if I were so inclined. The squad is impatient and raring to go here, but I feel like being a jerk first.



You see, these statues are in bow range.





I love Archers. I typically have two here firing in near-unison, but with only Kira, these two shots took place several turns apart, as she calmly sauntered from one end of the wall to the other.



This makes two level-ups for her this map, but they're well-deserved.



Those golems on the stairs also look like tempting targets, but everything other than the statues is positioned just outside crossbow range.
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  #196  
Old 03-10-2015, 09:24 AM
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Let's do this!





The back half of the battle begins in earnest with a splash. You might think to save these boulders and push them when the enemies are queued up to climb the stairs, but they won't move until you clear the way, so the boulders are entirely useless to any group with an Archer (the statues are lined up in front of the boulders on each side).



I end my turn by lining the stairs and waiting for the blood ghosts to rush forward.





The northern front goes as expected, but the southern ghost that attacks Grog puts up yet another block.



Amon flies around behind the ghost to clear the way for the rest of the northern group to advance.



Dolan charges forward and exchanges blows with the next ghost. Everyone else clumps behind him as Sara tops him off.



While Bishops get the amazing Healing Plus as their 4th spell, Sorcerers get something decidedly less impressive. Envenom is exactly what it sounds like: it poisons a single target. It has a pretty good success rate, but success in this case means applying Poison, which, while high in damage, deprives the squad of delicious XP. You'd be forgiven for thinking at this stage that you should have made your Sorcerer a Monk instead, but rest assured there's much better spells yet to come.



Enjoy this, because it's the only time you'll ever see me use it.



This is what Kira thinks of Poison status.
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  #197  
Old 03-10-2015, 09:26 AM
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On the enemy turn, the golems finally plod forward, although only one of them is able to reach my team. This is pretty much just clean-up at this point, so let's cut back to the highlight reel:



Dolan finishes off the final Blood Ghost and gains a level.



I decide to let Ash join the fun and gain a level as well, to keep pace with the rest of the squad.



Make it rain.



These golems can actually stand up to a lot of physical abuse, so I surround this one and make it my XP punching bag before finally allowing Eleni to wink it out of existence.



Only blue pips remain at this point, but the battle still isn't over. I didn't draw attention to it, but you may have noticed at the start of the update that the victory condition was "Arrival at Entrance". So, much like Battle #2 way back in the capital city of Shumeria, the battle won't actually end until I move everyone, and I do mean everyone, up to the top of the entrance stairs.



One last bit of house-keeping first, though. I almost forgot a piece of hidden loot! It was just a spare suit of chainmail, which will be sold to a vendor when next I think of it.



Huxley gets one final level up as he tosses out some post-battle healing. Consider this a grim portent of things to come.



Pack them all in there like sardines, or this battle with never end.



But end it does, and with a nice chunk of change.



We were born ready! Let's do this!!!



Enh... or not. I have no need to actually go back and resupply, but this is plenty of content for an update (with more still to come), so I take the opportunity to head back to the world map and save.



The item descriptions remain as useful as ever. I'll try to remember to examine this mystical artifact in more detail in a later update, as it's actually quite useful. Feel free to speculate, but unless you already know what it does then I guarantee you're wrong.
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  #198  
Old 03-10-2015, 09:33 AM
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Alright, I've teased it for long enough. Now, with the fun part out of the way, it's time for me to suffer for my art (and for all of you). Before we begin in earnest, an explanation is in order. There are two key qualities that make this battle the ideal place to completely break the game. First is the presence of the healing circles, which give me essentially infinite MP. The second is that the battle only ends when I say it does, which also gives me infinite time. You can do what I'm about to do in other places if you really put your mind to it, but this map is the simplest place. The only finite resource that I need to worry about here is patience, and mine will be sorely tested.



Now let's rewind time a bit. Everything is dead, but rather than move everyone up to the top of the stairs, I returned everyone to the centre of the map (neatly arranged as symmetrically as possible, because I'm going to be looking at them for a while), with both of my healers back on the healing circles (which are called Boundary, as you can see here, and offer a beefy 30% defensive bonus on top of everything else).

Generally, the way that the game guards against XP exploits is that the majority of XP sources require an enemy. Hitting an enemy grants XP, and healing an ally (through spells or items) grants XP, but only if the ally is actually in need of that healing. Since friendly-fire doesn't exist, there's no way to damage your allies other than being attacked by an enemy. There is one exception to these rules, and that's buff magic.



Mystic Shield costs 3 MP, and boosts a single target's DF. The recent acquisition of Bless Weapon does the same for AT. Either will do here, but mystic shield is by far the better choice, and that's for one simple reason: it's higher on the list and requires fewer button presses to navigate the menu. That's about to become important.



Here's the casting animation. You all only have to see this once. I have to see it many, many more times.



There we go. 17 XP. This number scales down or up depending on the difference between the caster's level and the target's level, which means that doing anything other than self-casting becomes useless as Huxley starts to leave the rest of the party behind. Also, the self-cast value actually fluctuates from as low as 13 to as high as 18, but you get the idea. Each experience level takes precisely 100 XP. We're going all the way. BUCKLE IN!



A new turn, and Huxley's MP gets refilled to full. This short animation feels agonizingly slow after the hundredth time.



One down, way to many to go.



This happened at some point. Turn 99.



And now Turn 0. Time has lost all meaning.



I fell asleep at least 3 times during this process. In the game's defense, it was a warm sunny afternoon.



Another one. Hooray. I long for the embrace of death.



But... then something odd happened. I stopped getting XP. I've never actually done this before (because I don't hate myself that much), so I thought that the level cap was 99, but it's only 49! I'm free! My long nightmare is over, and in less than half of the time I was budgeting on! The periodic naps make it difficult to measure precisely, but this whole process took at least two hours of mindless repetition. I invested a lot of time in trying to find some kind of way to speed up the emulation, but I came up empty. If it's actually possible and I'm just dumb, I genuinely do not want to know.



Alright, so that gives us a single godly level 49 Bishop. Where does that leave us? Am I going to go through the same two-hour long process with Sara, my only other character capable of casting buff magic? Are we going to have Huxley solo the rest of the game by beating everyone with his staff? Actually, that does sound pretty fun...

But no, I have other things in mind. The process up until now, while mind-numbingly boring, is actually pretty obvious. I figured it out as a kid (to be clear though, I ran out of patience in the low-20s), and felt pretty damn clever, and I imagine that I was far from the only one. The next step is less obvious though, and is what really allows you to break the game wide open.

Eleni here will be my test subject. Note that she is currently level 12.



This is a Mage Oil. I'm confident that I described what this does in an early update, as it's a bog standard vendor item, but I have yet to actually use one in the LP. It replenishes the MP of a single adjacent target.

To remind everyone of two previously stated points:
  • Healing an ally with items grants XP, provided that they need the healing.
  • XP rewards scale with the level disparity between the caster and the target.
I made sure to move Huxley off of the healing circle for several turns of Mystic Shield beforehand so that his MP is below full.

Enjoy the show!






*drops mic*



That's an understatement if ever I saw one.



Eleni just gained 34 levels in a single turn. Stock your entire party with mage oil before entering this map and you can leave it with a party of level 46 characters. I'm not going to bother with that, because my tedium quota has already been far exceeded, but you get the picture.

One word of warning, though: if you're inclined to engage in this lunacy yourself, think twice before having Ash join in the fun. As demonstrated in a previous update, the enemies in the Trials of Toroah scale with Ash's level, which means all of this nonsense isn't gaining you a damn thing in those battles if you bring Ash along for the ride.

Well, that was excruciating, and, best of all, entirely unnecessary, as this will rob the remainder of the game of any enjoyment or challenge, The only people who actually care enough to do this are teenagers with too little skill and/or too much time on their hands, or people who just can't come to terms with an SRPG that doesn't allow grinding. So, that being the case, in the interests of not ruining the rest of the LP, I'll be reverting to my earlier save. The preceding adventures in tedium and exploiting are not canon. The only element of them that will persist is my mental scarring.



Next time: We finally, finally, get to confront General Magnus and get this narrative moving again. I promise.
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  #199  
Old 03-20-2015, 03:41 PM
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I have played this game several times through since it was first released and I never knew that leveling trick. That was seriously beautiful. Now things are going to get weird...
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  #200  
Old 03-21-2015, 01:15 AM
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I just now realized that your guys didn't have a level reset when they promoted. That's cool because it makes promotions a lot more immediately valuable than they are in games like Shining Force or Fire Emblem, where you might want to grind a few more levels out so you can get better stats when you reset to level 1 as your new promoted class.
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  #201  
Old 03-31-2015, 12:36 PM
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Hello there everyone, and welcome back to Let's Play Vandal Hearts! In our previous update, I stormed the gates of an ancient castle, where "storming the gates" consisted of taking turns riding a pair of elevators and then sitting atop the wall for literally hundreds of turns while the squad patiently watched Huxley break the game. With that lunacy behind us, and with the castle entrance secured, Ash and co. withdrew to rest and regroup, but this week we return to finish the job and finally confront General Magnus!



Once more unto the breach. I'd love to tell you guys that this is the last time I'll be choosing this destination, or even just looking at this island, I really would, but, well, spoiler: this isn't the last that we've seen of these ruins.



Sensing my impatience, the game wastes no time in bringing us directly to a confrontation with the General. However, he doesn't seem particularly inclined to chat.



This is completely lost on Eleni, though, who doesn't hesitate in rushing forward to greet him.

It's just her dad, Ash. I'm sure it's fine...



He just busted out six exclamation marks and a giant ellipsis, Eleni. You'd better do what he says.



Not one to be out-done, Eleni busts out four exclamation marks of her own. It's pretty clear to the player what's happening at this point, but in Eleni's defense, this is her dad, and she's not as genre-savvy as we are.



And she can't hear you, Dolan. Maybe go drag her to safety instead of yelling from across the room?



Oh good, he exploded. That makes my job a lot easier.



All things considered, that could have ended much worse for Eleni. Getting shoved aside was pretty much the best possible scenario, really.
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  #202  
Old 03-31-2015, 12:40 PM
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Magnus teleports to the other end of the chamber before threatening us. Why not try saying that to my face, zombie Magnus?

I've long since run out of ellipsis jokes in previous updates, but the game's just getting started. You... ain't seen nothing... yet. (Sorry, I guess I had one more.)



Like father, like daughter. Maybe Magnus should have tried asking Eleni if she'd like a position as the zombie king's head sorceress?



The camera just panned way out. I'm not going to like this, am I?



Oh hey, an army of goons. Eleni and her dad even introduce themselves the same way, although he has more in his repertoire than just golems.



*looks at Ash*

*looks at open door behind him*



Welcome to Castle Ruins 2. Only one of Magnus or Ash are leaving this room alive, and my money's on the one that's the main character. That being said, we've got a literal uphill climb ahead of us, with a lot of opposition to wade through.

Also, is it just me, or are the enemies in a bat-shaped formation here?



Magnus is at the rear of this long chamber, and with those stats I'll be taking my time getting to him. Like our only previous boss encounter, he too is an Armor class and thus vulnerable to magic. I could show you his spell list, by why spoil the fun?



I spend my first turn carefully arranging my party to meet the initial enemy onslaught. Diego and Clint are positioned just within crossbow range on my flanks to draw the enemy archers out as far as possible (I'd have preferred Grog to Diego, but he wasn't able to reach the necessary tile), while Dolan rushes forward right down the middle to take the brunt of the assault.



Giving me brief, terrifying flashbacks to my last update, Huxley ends the turn by ducking in behind Dolan and buffing his defense in anticipation of the beating he's about to take.





Just as planned, both imps take their shots at my decoys. Diego takes a beefier hit than Clint thanks to being on the losing end of the weapon triangle, but his deeper HP pool leaves them both in similar shape.
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:42 PM
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Everybody's favourite armoured cuisinart begins his grim work.



Blood ghosts are a bit stiffer, though, and all of this damage is quickly piling up.



This triple-supported bolt made me decidedly nervous, but we're in the clear for the moment.

We're only one turn in and Dolan's already a serious contender for the MVP title. I'll never understand why so many people are down on Guardsmen (well, I understand it, but I disagree).



Dolan's just about been pushed to his limit, but fortunately Magnus and his golem corps are content to sit back and watch the mayhem for now.





To begin my next turn, the power team of Clint and Kira are able to clean up one of the archers, although Clint took a point-blank bolt to the face in the process.





Unfortunately, Diego and Eleni aren't quite up to the task on the other end as the weapon triangle again rears its ugly head.



There's a few units competing for healing attention at the moment, but considering his forward position and the two active archers, Diego takes priority and receives a blast of Healing Plus from Huxley.
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:44 PM
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Grog and Ash give Dolan some breathing room as they clean up the mad soldiers that he left reeling.



This would normally be risky, since a block and counterattack would likely kill Dolan, but he's attacking squarely from behind, which is the only facing that can't be blocked.



Sara tosses Dolan a weak heal and gains a level, joining Huxley at level 14 (most of the party is still at level 12). He's obviously still rather hurt, but that will just make him a better tank (in the MMO sense) as the enemies continue to focus their attention on finishing off my "injured" unit.



I almost forgot about Clint though, who the enemies might well have prioritized over Dolan. Amon closes out the second turn by using an herb to fix the problem.



Looking at this many active units in range always makes me nervous, and the elevation difference adds that little bit of visual intimidation.



As expected, we start things off with a crossbow bolt to Dolan's head. Fortunately, he's out of range of the flanking melee enemies, or he likely wouldn't survive the turn.



This, on the other hand, was not expected, as this ghost floats right on by Diego and goes after Eleni. Whoops.



Eleni ineffectually hits the armour with a stick. At this point, I'm really glad that one of the archers has already fired at Dolan, or else I'd fully expect to lose Eleni this turn to a couple of bolts. As it stands, it's a toss-up who the remaining archer will decide to fire upon.



On the opposite flank, the remaining ghost goes after Amon, who's more prepared to meet his assault. He snags the first of what will likely be many level 13 promotions to follow, as killing these guys with level 12 units is netting me upwards of 60 XP a shot (as a reminder, level-ups always come every 100 XP).



The last archer again fires on Dolan, making this two turns in a row that he's ended at roughly 1/4 health.



The remaining mad soldiers (you can see one glaring at the just-out-of-reach Clint on the bottom-left) and golems rush forward to end the turn.
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:46 PM
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#archersvflyers



I tried to feed Grog some XP here, since Dolan's starting to leave the rest of the melee group behind in XP, but this imp is having none of it, as he deflects Grog's blade with his crossbow.



Much better.



I again try having Eleni and Diego work in concert to take down a single target, and even though this fellow has more HP than the imps, Diego's on the winning side of the weapon triangle this time. Their success pushes both characters to level 13.



It's been a while since I've let fearless leader wade into the fray, so I overestimated his efficacy here, trying and failing to finish off an injured ghost.



Clint picks up his slack and hits level 13.



I don't know if Support ignoring elevation is intentional or an oversight, but I'm perfectly happy to exploit it either way.





I don't normally post shots of XP gains, but here's a good example of being on the wrong end of XP scaling, as level 14 Sara gets a measly 2 experience points for healing level 12 Grog.
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:49 PM
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For the first time since this fight began, Dolan is back to full health and ready to kick some more ass.



Eleni, however, is decidedly not at full health, as I only have so many heals to go around, so the last remaining archer begins the enemy turn by tucking into an alcove and firing at her.





This is followed by a brutal assault from the golems, walloping both Grog and Clint in the back of the head. It's fortunate that no one was in range of both of them, as Dolan's the only member of the squad capable of surviving two such punches. How did the Swordsmen fare in retaliation?



Hurr hurr, squishy men tickle.

Taking out these golems is going to require a coordinated team effort.



And I'd best hurry, because Magnus has finally decided that he's done watching, charging forward down the stairs to end the enemy turn.



This imp is going to be a problem. Diego's the only unit that can move adjacent to him, but he can't quite reach down far enough to strike him from his elevated perch.



Since I'm not going to be able to kill him, Eleni settles for the next best thing, tagging him with a successful Spellbind that allows me to ignore him for the moment.
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:52 PM
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Ash exploits the golems' weakness to magic to quickly cut the one that struck Clint down to size, joining most of the party at level 13.



Amon follows this up by demonstrating that he doesn't need magic to cast "stone shower".



With my magic damage options exhausted (Sara could technically contribute with a real Stone Shower, but in this situation I'd prefer to keep her off the front line and have her heal), I'm going to have to take care of the remaining golem the hard way. I want my team fully healed to meet Magnus' charge next turn, so I make the risky decision to have Clint attack before being healed. I know I just said a moment ago that he couldn't survive two punches, and he hasn't been tended to since the last once, but by taking the second punch on his own terms, the favourable positioning should hopefully be enough to reduce the damage to non-lethal levels (and possibly even result in a block).



Well, that reprisal certainly stung, but Clint weathered it even better than I was anticipating, and Huxley's waiting in the wings to return him to fighting fit.



First I need to finish off the golem though, which Kira and Grog do handily. Grog is the last member of the squad to to reach level 13.



Sara and Huxley close out the turn by healing everyone's injuries (I carefully lined up Eleni, Grog, and Clint for a single shot of Healing Plus), leaving me in great shape to confront Magnus next turn. Bring it, zombie chump!



I briefly consider moving Dolan forward to meet Magnus, as he has yet to act this turn, but his vulnerability to magic stays my hand. Besides, I'd rather draw Magnus as far forward as possible so that I'm in prime position to rush him with everyone next turn.



Magnus obediently rushes forward and drops a big area of effect spell on top of the group that I just healed. I guess he's attacking us with rainbows?





Oh hey, it looks like Magnus just wants to help everyone calibrate their televisions. I hope that reference isn't too dated for my audience.



Apparently the reference was too dated for my squad though, as Grog, Eleni, and Clint all recoil in pain.

This marks the first time that an enemy has a potent AoE attack for us to worry about, but it will be far from the last. The days where it's always safest to clump everyone up will soon be behind us.
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:55 PM
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That attack hurt, and the damage would quickly pile up to unhealable levels if Magnus were given free reign, but he's wandered into the midst of my party, and I don't intend to give him a second turn. Blitzing him like this is pretty much the only viable tactic, as he also had a potent heal that he won't hesitate to lean on if we try to nickel and dime him.



Ash moves up adjacent to provide Support for subsequent attacks, but he starts us off with an ice storm, since that won't provoke a counter-attack. However, it's less potent that I'd hoped.



Huxley heals up last turn's test pattern damage and becomes my first unit to reach level 15.



Clint bravely steps forward to become the first to engage Magnus in melee.



He counters with some kind of purple lightsaber (which, like a real sabre, has a curved blade). This hit might look comparable to one of the golems at first blush, but keep in mind that they weren't able to even do that much damage when striking him in the back, and were only able to do 38 from the front. This strike would likely be in the mid-to-high 60s with more favourable positioning.



I'm still well in control of the situation, though. At this point it's all over but the crying.



As Kira reduces Magnus to single digits, it occurs to me that I'd like to finish off the paralyzed imp if possible, for a bit of extra experience and gold.



Alas, much like the first archer that they tried to tag-team, Eleni and Diego are not quite up to the challenge. Looks like this imp gets to live to tell this story to his grandchildren, as I have no intention of drawing this out for another turn.



Not so smug now, are you, you zombie jerk?



3900G isn't a bad payday, but all I see is a list that should be one imp longer. Alas.
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:58 PM
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I'm not sure where the squad wandered off to, but Magnus, now looking decidedly less purple, drops a small object (we're talking a literal single pixel here, so you may need to squint) at his feet and collapses to the ground as it slowly rolls away from him.



His dramatic collapse over, everyone immediately rushes in from off-camera, with his daughter Eleni and subordinates Dolan and Huxley leading the charge.



Dolan seems overjoyed, so perhaps his injuries aren't as grave as they seem?



It's okay, we've all seen the intro, Magnus. Please, save your strength.



I'd make a joke about who "he" could be, but there's actually a couple of plausible answers. They're both working together, mind, so in the end it doesn't really matter whether he's talking about the guy with the cartoonishly evil name or the guy with the cartoonishly evil face.



We may never know for certain, as an arrow zooms in from off camera to plant itself in his side. And I do means zooms-- I had to reload this several times to capture a shot of it in mid-flight.



The animated portraits really sells these reactions. Even Dolan manages to display his concern without a visible mouth.



Do I finally get to kill this guy? That red armour is intimidating, but we have them outnumbered.



I don't know if Kane is lying or being sarcastic, but either way the party completely ignores his bullshit and carries on as if he's not here. Miraculously, given that this looked like a death scene even before Kane showed up, Dolan still thinks that Magnus is going to pull through.



Less righteous indignation, more stabbing, please.



The moment of truth: will it be evil name or evil face? Get in your final bets.
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:02 PM
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And evil face takes it by a (pointy) nose. The player has known for ages that Dolf is bad news, but this is the first indication that our party has had of it, so I'm honestly not sure why Ash thinks that he should have known.



Dolf bends down to retrieve the stone and begins giggling. Should... should we have just let him do that?



Evil speech time.

"Thanks to you, Magnus' coup d'etat plans have been stopped. You truly deserve the title of 'Hero'. And now... Eleni Dunbar and Huxley Hobbes... You are under arrest as followers of the traitor Magnus. Come with us."





Get your own sandwich! (90's Canadian commercial reference. Move along Americans; nothing to see here.)



"As you know, interfering with us is tantamount to treason... Think well on whether you want to be known as a hero or whether you want to be known as a traitor like your father!"



That's right, Ash. F*ck this guy. History is written by the victors, so let's kill every one of these traitors and then set the story straight.



How about "dignity"?



Ash! Ash, no!



Seriously! Look at Clint's angry face! You're making Diego sad!



You mean the same state that these scheming assholes are subverting? C'mon Ash!



"We're going to tour the ruins for a few more days. In the meantime, put the prisoners in the dungeon downstairs."



Ash, you're not a silent protagonist! Explain yourself, man!



Dolf takes a moment to engage in a bit of crazy full-body Kefka-tier laughter to close out the scene.
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