Let's Play Monster Quest: Part 21a

So it turns out the next mission -which is one of the hardest missions in the game normally, arguably the hardest due to Fog of War- is yet harder than the default version of itself, enough so that while I might be able to beat it on sheer stubbornness with my current team...

... I've given in and decided to go skirmish with wild monsters to train up some of my people.

Normally, this is something I avoid doing. Frankly, the game just isn't that hard, and what few challenges can be found past the twins' divergence point are too easy to trivialize by fighting a skirmish or two or swinging by the Tower of Valni. The exceptions are, conversely, generally difficult to do much of anything about via grinding, because the strength of your existing characters has more or less no bearing on what makes the sequence difficult.

There was a time where I tended to try to train Amelia, Ross, and Ewan up to their first promotion on monsters, but I got experienced enough with the game that it became fairly trivial to get them to level ten on the level you recruit them, or the one after it at most, helped in no small part by how ridiculously fast they gain experience, rendering easy fights unnecessary.

In general, while Sacred Stones allows you to grind, the missions seem to really have been designed under the assumption that while you can grind if you're bad at the game, a good player will be able to pull through without grinding and without casualties.

Monster Quest seems, conversely, to have been designed under the assumption that grinding increasingly makes it acceptable for missions to produce potentially unbeatable challenges, as the player can just back off. Lyon, for instance, was actually impossible for a good portion of my characters to hurt, and far too lethal for most of my characters to be safe to stay in his striking distance, if only due to the chance of an instant-kill crit.

Between the next mission being quite hard in general and, in particular, the fact that it allows the player to take 17 units instead of the usual 14-or-less meaning that I'd have to sub in some pre-promotes if I wanted to maintain the same overall quality... yeah. Skirmish time.

Admittedly, part of what's motivating this decision is that I've been curious as to what, if anything, Monster Quest has done to the skirmish encounters.

However, if you're not really interested in watching me grind in a skirmish or three, you can feel free to skip to the next mission.

I originally went and fought a battlegroup in the north, but it went poorly and I decided to give this one a try, semi-spoilers or no, because at least Cyclops are worth more experience than Gargoyles and this is a more readily controlled map.

Wait, what are we doing where I slew lady-
Shhhh we're not talking about that.
How did we get here so quickly?? Just a minute ago we were tromping amid improbable volcanic activity, on our way to Rausten! Now, by some definition, we are on the opposite side of the continent from Rausten's capitol!
... just because I do not know how to use a tome as a weapon of war, nor how to channel faith down a stave to mend broken bones, does not mean I can be placated by 'a wizard did it'.
Less a wizard and more a programmer...
A what?
You'd go mad from the revelation, child.
Wait. I thought you were creepily hot for me?
Ew. No. You're more like a grandchild than anything else. I'm literally older than your oldest known ancestor, that Renais hero guy. Don't make this creepy, kid.
... then what-
I'm shy, okay? You try living basically alone with just your boring uncle for hundreds of years, aside from the occasional visit from Saleh-slash-his-predecessors, and see how your social confidence deteriorates.
... ah. I apologize, then.
Much obliged.
So. Why are we wasting time-
We aren't! This is non-canon, except for the loot and experience.
I'm sure Eirika would be pleased to hear that, but that's not an explanation at all.
And action!

Tana is along to train her Spear skill so she can actually use Vidofnir. Colm is along for LOS. Ephraim is along because I'm still curious about his level cap. Franz is along because his Sword rank is the highest of anyone in my army, and I'd like an Adhulma wielder. Tethys is along as a general support. Myrrh is along because she's actually surprisingly vulnerable right now to high-end enemies, primarily due to her Luck and Speed being awful -a lot of promoted enemies can double her for a kill and/or get a crit for a kill, even though her Defense is actually quite high due to the Dragonstone.

Ewan is along because he's more-or-less my lowest-level character, and as a Mogall he's got decent potential use. Knoll and Artur are along as theoretical Gleipnir wielders.

Tethys reveals a Killer Axe Tarvos to watch for, an Entombed with an alarming amount of Speed, and that one of these Cyclops has a Swordslayer. Noted.

Ewan goes for some free, reasonably safe experience.

Knoll follows up, misses one of his hits. Well. That's inconvenient.

Colm lands the finishing blow (Nobody else could reach, and I don't need Ewan dying), and this time I remember to take screenshots of him in a fight. He looks pretty horrifying, even ignoring the red lines that look like an error rather than a deliberate part of the graphic. He makes me think he has Phazon growths in his open wounds, which I'm wincing at the thought of, absurd crossover or no.

I move Tana there, ending turn set up like this.

Franz gets into a sword duel with an enemy Bonewalker and... gets hit and misses one of his attacks? Ugh.

Then a Mauthe Doog rushes out of nowhere and plinks Ephraim for one damage. He then one-shots it.

It's sort of funny what a monster Ephraim is, given how he's still stuck with unpromoted caps.

If you're paying attention, you might've already noticed something that, truthfully, I completely failed to notice until extremely late in the mission: Siegmund doesn't have a damage bonus against monsters! In fact, I'm fairly certain none of the Sacred Twins have that property, bar probably the Light Tome. That's a pretty significant change, if so, and takes Monster Quest's version of the Sacred Twins from a gamebreaker trivializing the endgame to merely being very good, reliable tools against any foe. In particular, it makes the final boss a lot harder to trivialize, even if Monster Quest has made no changes to the boss, itself.

Tethys revealing more stuff with a Torch Staff and yikes that's a fast Entombed! That can Steal from almost everybody in my battlegroup. This could be a problem.

Ewan... misses this Mauthe Doog, delaying his next level. Darn.

Colm goes up to soften the Mauthe Doog up and at this point I'm regetting having Ewan attack, even if Colm is in no danger whatsoever. I should've set Colm up where Ewan is, to lure the Mauthe Doog off the Forest.

Oh well.

Franz continues his dual and gets hit again, though at least he lands both of his hits. Also note Artur on the other side of the river -he's baiting out that Tarvos, which is the only thing that can currently reach him.

Disappointed with Franz, I have Vanessa finish off the opposing Bonewalker.

Also note that I'm an idiot and didn't give Tana the Brightlance nor Franz the Shadowkiller. This would be going a lot better already if I'd thought to do that.

I end turn looking like this -note the Mogall in the southwest corner. That's Knoll, protecting Ewan from...

... this Bael. I gave him Nosferatu so he'd be fine even if it hit him, and I'm glad I did!

Artur successfully baits out the Tarvos and almost kills it while successfully dodging its swing, but also note the Bael closing in.

Colm gets attacked to no effect by the Mauthe Doog and laughs at the fate he's about to inflict on it.

... there's something important that happens here, but I missed the screenshot in my shock. I'll cover it later, though, as I did get the relevant screenshot later.

Aaaand there's another Entombed over there, coming this way. That complicates my plan to feed Ephraim an Entombed kill.

Healing Franz.

Ewan chips the Bael and gts a pretty great level out of it! The Speed and Magic are the things I'm most happy to see, but the rest is good too.

Knoll then finishes the thing with Flux, netting him... a decent enough level, though I'd like for him to have more Speed. At least he got Luck! If his growths are anything like his normal growths, that's lucky.

Artur doesn't quite kill one of the Baels.

I end up feeding that kill to Tana -I'd originally planned on doing it with Franz, but I couldn't get him to Tana's current tile like I wanted and his chance to hit was poorer than I'd have liked and he wouldn't double it to make up the difference and it would hurt on the retaliation. So I gave up and let Tana do it.

Similarly, having Ephraim incinerate the other Bael is just to pave the way for dealing with the oncoming Entombed. (And their pet Tarvos, I guess)

A Bael makes the mistake of getting a chuckle out of Colm. It's its last mistake. Which... is actually inconvenient, as I'd been hoping to feed the kill to Knoll.

The nearest Bonewalker flails futilely at Colm, though at least it learned from the Bael's error and didn't try to be funny.

Apparently the real mistake is being a Bael at all. I guess Colm just thinks giant spiders are funny.

Lastly, a Tarvos gets murdered by Colm, as it turns out the Stone Shard is extra-effective against cavalry! I suspect it's effective against armors, as well, but I won't be able to determine that while fighting monsters. Something to keep in mind when I actually get to the next chapter.

Ewan is just barely unable to kill this Bonewalker, but going for the chip experience anyway. In retrospect, it might have been safe to let the Bonewalker attack him on the enemy turn? He wouldn't have been doubled, and 22 HP+7 Defense isn't that low. Missed opportunity.

Instead Knoll takes the kill.

Tethys teleporting Franz to where he's less likely to have his promotion item stolen and more likely to actually contribute.

Then I end turn looking like this.

Franz successfully baits out and kills the Tarvos that Artur weakened earlier. Doesn't quite level...

... that's it for actual fighting.

My turn, and let's have Tethys get us vision in the vicinity of the oncoming Entombed again.

I end turn looking like the second screenshot, ready to intercept the Tarvos, among other things. (Colm is to the south to scout, but he didn't see anything new)

Franz exchanges misses with a Bael on the enemy turn, but does actually land a hit and so finally gets his level. It's not great, but Strength and Speed are the main things he'll need once he has Audhulma, so good enough.

Tarvos goes after Ephraim, whom I'd thought was out of its reach, landing a Poison Axe hit. Annoying.

Unexpectedly, one of the Cyclops rushes out to take a ranged shot at Colm! Whoops, I wasn't paying enough attention to those guys. I already knew they were all equipped with ranged weapons, but I didn't think of this scenario when moving Colm.

Fortunately, he not only dodges, but would've survived in the extremely unlikely scenario of them landing a crit.

My turn again, and I open with Artur taking a shot at one of the Entombed. I'm pleasantly surprised by him actually hitting.

Knoll follows up, misses. This is a worrying scenario.

Tana comes over to hit the other Entombed, misses twice, Really? At least she dodged the retaliation?...

Myyrh weakens the Entombed that's already been weakened.

Finally Ephraim lands the kill, taking the Entombed's free Entombed +50 experience bonus, as well as its +20 experience bonus for being a Thief that I've confirmed Revenants have, thus overcoming his high level!...

... though honestly he's been gaining experience really fast anyway. I'm fairly certain he's been classed as constituting a trainee class, as otherwise I'm not sure how to explain how quickly he's gained experience when not abusing boss/Gorgon Egg/etc experience bonuses.

Oh, and he got a perfect level out of this, given what he has capped. Awesome. He's going to be a monster when I finally promote him.

Tethys refreshes Artur and he gifts her his Hoplon Guard so I can arrange to block the Entombed from stealing it from anyone.

I end up taking the really nasty risk of having Artur attack point-blank. He couldn't die to just a crit at this point, but he couldn't take two hits if one of them is a crit, even aside from the poisoning.

Down south, Ewan chips this Bael for some experience, and my turn ends.

Said Bael promptly misses Franz and gets doubled.

I missed the screenshot, but the Entombed just stole Knoll's Guiding Ring! Aaaargh.

Thieves that are actually capable combatants are really frustrating.

Ewan chips the Bael for some more experience.

Time to have Tethys Rescue Colm over here!... wait, crap, I didn't actually give her the Rescue Staff this mission. I replaced it with the Torch Staff.

So instead Tana Rescues Colm and then Artur takes him off her hands and drops him off. Different Rescue to the rescue!

Then Tethys Dances for Colm, because units dropped from a Rescue are always out of their turn, even if they started the Rescue chain good to go.

Colm Steals the Guiding Ring back!

Now we just need the Entombed dead.

Uh. More dead.

Ephraim obliges, getting another level. I'm pleased to see him getting Resist -he might actually have a respectable Resist score by the endgame.

Myrrh finishes off the Bael, getting very little experience out of it. Yeah, she's being treated as promoted.

I end turn looking like this.

Oh no! A crit! However will Franz survive?!?

Pay no mind to the fact that he could've survived two crits.

Healing Artur after his harrowing experience.

Ewan doing more chipping damage for experience.

Tana finishes off the Mauthe Doog, trying to build Lance experience still.

Tethys revealing terrain, finding a Bonewalker with a Zanbato. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I bothered to screenshot that. I don't have any cavalry with me. Maybe I thought I'd promote Ephraim mid-mission? Oh well.

Bonewalker successfully baited out by Franz.

More importantly, as you can see now that it's my turn, nobody provoked the Cyclops. Ewan does some more chipping for experience. Closing in on that next level!

Knoll lands the finishing blow.

Healing Franz.

Enemy turn, and here's Artur baiting the Cyclops into attacking from across the river. (Because anywhere that Bonewalker could reach, so could the Cyclops)

My turn, and now it is Artur who initiates the combat. Not quite a level, and quite weak now.

Tethys fixes that.

The Cyclops gets one last hit in on Artur, who retaliates for experience. He gets a pretty good level, and I am glad to see his Luck climb up a little, but I was really hoping for another point of Speed.

Also, if you hadn't noticed yet, there's no more enemies actively pursuing my forces without provocation. It's just relatively passive enemies now, making this much easier.

Then Ephraim swoops in for the kill -I missed the screenshot, it went by so fast, but this was a crit- because I have this misguided belief that the Cyclops will be worth a meaningful amount of experience for him by virtue of being promoted.

With no urgent healing to be done, Tethys renews Artur's Flux Tome -it was about halfway used up.

Franz baits out the Bonewalker, and against all odds the three swings between the two of them all miss. (Yes, those bottom two images are different screenshots)

Knoll contributes, partly because I want experience on him, and partly because I'm hoping Ewan might actually get to kill something in here someday.

Myrrh softens it up further as part of Operation: Feed Ewan A Kill.

... aaaand Ewan is one point short of actually killing it. Great. I have him attack anyway, but ugh. And he'd be doubled if he baited them out, so he'd probably die.

Tethys healing Artur again.

Over to the East, Colm has been circling around and has found a Bonewalker with a lootable Longbow. That's sort of neat, except for the part where I have Nidhogg and so don't really care.

With great reluctance, I give Tana the kill on the Bonewalker intended for Ewan, because seriously get S in Lances already.

Also note Artur's position.

Baiting out a Tarvos! (He's back to holding his Hoplon Guard, if you hadn't guessed) Even dodges their swing, nice.

Aaaand the Longbow Bonewalker breaks it out against Colm, never mind that it can't hurt him with it. Okay.

Primarily because I'm trying to recreate the thing I mentioned earlier, I decide to have Colm kill it. Still doesn't do the thing, oh and it drops the Iron Bow instead since it switched to the Longbow. Eh. I'd be annoyed if I didn't have Nidhogg.

More of Tethys Torch Staving, but she doesn't reveal anything new.

At this point I'm just getting sloppy with screenshots. Artur baiting out the boss Cyclops.

Tethys healing Artur, with Artur having moved to block the Cyclops' access to anyone else except the almighty Tethys.

Colm moving forward, discovering this Bael.

Enemy turn, and the Bael makes the mistake of provoking Colm.

Meanwhile, to my surprise the boss Cyclops breaks out its melee weapon to hit Artur. I was honestly expecting it to futilely lob its Hand Axe at Tethys. That's the sort of thing the AI usually does.

... and the non-boss Cyclops can reach Artur, too! Whoops. Didn't think that through thoroughly enough. Not that he could've died if they had both hit, instead of neither, but I'm being very careless at this point in the mission.

Meanwhile, just out of sight, Knoll lures out another archer Bonewalker.

My turn, and Ewan chips said Bonewalker, while hovering just south of it. Now it can't move, and so it can't shoot him.

I always find it amusing/mortifying when I can arrange to pin an archer somewhere, helpless, unable to shoot anyone because nobody is too far away. It's very silly, and I always end up imagining the people surrounding them just pushing rudely into their personal space, practically shoving against them. Or in this case I'm imagining Ewan sort of 'leaning' right into the Bonewalker's face and throwing a barrage of small-child-questions at it while it glances helplessly at the river behind it.

Of course, then my mental image falls apart because it's honestly pretty weird that skeletons can't stroll casually through water. It's not like they're going to drown.

Artur softens up the boss Cyclops again, and to my pleasant surprise dodges again.

Also, that's a really cool motion blur. It makes me think of Wind Waker, somehow.

Tethys heals Ephraim since Artur doesn't need any healing, and...

... Ephraim finishes off the boss for that free 50 experience. And gets another Resist! Excellent.

Colm attacks the Bael, and rolls a crit-

-ah! There we go.

... though I'd thought the screenshot I got was more than just darkness consuming everything except the combat interface.

In any event, this darkness is Silencer activating. While it's possible that this is simply a property of Entombed in general, I'm pretty sure it's the Stone Shard granting it, as it would nicely explain its rather cryptic description. If so, that's pretty amazing!

I think it isn't providing the normal Silencer experience bonus, though I'm not sure. I have mixed feelings about the idea, as I've always found it rather bizarre that Silencer provides bonus experience in the first place, but on the other hand part of why I've found it bizarre is that it's normally only available to a promoted class, which should be largely without need of further experience. Here, I could potentially grant the Stone Shard to a lower-experience monster with high Skill (eg Joshua, in my case) and help them catch up to the rest of my team.

In any event, assuming I'm not completely wrong, this is cool!

Anyway, over to the enemy turn.

Artur dodging again when the surviving Cyclops attacks him.

Ewan... missing a shot. Darn it, Ewan, you're normally one of my favorites. Stop trying to be an un-favorite!

Artur further softening up the Cyclops, still dodging 50~% hit rates consistently.

Healing Knoll.

Cyclops finally dying to Artur (At last landing a blow, at least), who gets... a pretty awful level out of it. Magic is good, but he still needs Speed!

Ewan getting a really excellent level out of chipping the Bonewalker.

Though on the other hand I'm seeing that he's already level 8 and only 2 non-HP stats are solidly above his level and wincing.

Tethys healing Artur.

More Ewan chipping.

Tana successfully baiting out the Entombed, but missing twice. She didn't have a high hit chance, admittedly.

Ewan finishing off the Bonewalker, a little over halfway to his next level.

Ephraim smacking the Entombed.

Okay, now an enemy is going for Tethys? Even though it involves leaving favorable terrain? Fine, whatever. It's good news for me.

Ephraim lands the finishing blow, reaching level 30 and oh my god he's still gaining experience past that what the heck is his level cap??

This is where I decide I no longer care to find out what his level cap is.

Then Tana finishes the last enemy of the map and just in time gets to S in Lances.

Afterward, I implement plan: Don't Care About Ephraim's Level Cap Anymore. He's now promoted, huzzah!

Next time, I... continue my grinding, because I still have goals to achieve in that regard. See you then.


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