Armored Princess Companion Analysis

Companions in Armored Princess are a lot more variable in what the consequences for dismissing them are, instead of having the standardized 1/7th of your Gold thing from The Legend. They'll all always take whatever they have currently equipped on them (But why did you leave anything on them while dismissing them?), but other than that... well, I've got the individual consequences listed.

Unlike The Legend, there's (thankfully) no mechanic involving children. Amelie may be surrounding herself with hot boys (Plus the one goblin?? Moldok is at least rugged-ugly and there's a fine line between that and ruggedly handsome, but Rakush is just comedy-ugly), but she's either got good birth control or treats them as eye candy and gear-carriers with nothing more physical to the relationship. This is probably for the best, since children were, in The Legend, a godawful mechanic on pretty much every level I can think of, even if I do have to wonder if perhaps the motivation behind this change was more about the flipping of genders and how this impacts perception and whatnot; people tend to default to the mother getting any children in a divorce, which justified The Legend having children taken from you when you divorced. It would probably have gone over poorly with players if Amelie was marrying people, having kids by them, and then when she kicked them to the curb they took the kids instead of her. So... like I said, I do have to wonder at the motivation.

Regardless, it's a good thing!

The framework is also different, as the game doesn't really do anything in particular to suggest that Amelie is shacking up with these men, and in fact the in-game term is that they're 'armor bearers', which uh, would probably have been more accurately translated as squires from what I've gathered. Carrying around a knight's armor is one of the duties of a squire, admittedly, but 'armor bearer' doesn't really communicate the sociological phenomenon, and it's too bad because the idea that Amelie is taking on squires is actually suggestive of interesting stuff, implying Amelie is passing on her knowledge as a warrior to these people, rather than them just following her around with no sociological context to it.

... not that any of them really act much like squires...

But aside the child mechanic and the fact that dismissal's consequences are de-standardized, in most respects Armored Princess' Companions work off the same core mechanics as The Legend's: they have unique passive bonuses, four Item slots to equip for your benefit, and you can potentially talk to them for additional utility. That last point is more consistently applied than in The Legend, though, with only really one Companion who kind-of-sort-of lacks such a 'talk to me and I can do stuff for you' thing.

As with The Legend, this list is presented in more or less the order you can first encounter these Companions, with the exception that Orcs on the March added another Companion and I've placed him at the end.


Jimmy Craud

Passive: +1 to Speed and Morale for Pirates, Sea Dogs, Robbers, Marauders, and Devilfish. (Special note: Jimmy can be upgraded to also provide +700 Leadership) In Orcs on the March, he also affects Pirate Ghosts.

Equipment: Weapon, Armor, Boots, Artifact/Regalia. (If upgraded with the Leadership: Weapon, Armor/Dress, Boots, Artifact)

Active Skill: Can upgrade Robbers into Marauders (5 Gold a head) and upgrade Pirates into Sea Dogs. (7 Gold a head)

When leaving: If you have any of the units he benefits in your army when you dismiss him, he takes all of those units.

Jimmy is worth recruiting by default, as his penalty for leaving is easily rendered moot, he costs nothing to recruit, and he has no weird disadvantages or anything. The only reason to not immediately recruit him is if you have some weird specific plan that requires you use him after one of the later Companions. I'm not even sure what such a plan would be, honestly.

Upgrading him is funny, but the loss of a Regalia slot can hurt, such as if you're a Mage in Orcs on the March whose own Regalia slot is being eaten by the Officer's Proof that is one of the major benefits of playing Orcs on the March. Gaining a Dress slot, though it's amusing as part of the game's larger pattern of the pretty-boy Companions apparently being able to pull off girly clothes, just isn't worth going for, and if you do want to get a Dress-wearing companion for maximum magery (Dresses include several amazing casting-oriented pieces) then you really ought to just boot Jimmy for Elenhel when you can. Especially since the actual primary benefit of upgrading him is adding Leadership, and the way you upgrade him is sacrificing giving yourself most of the same value in Leadership.

Well, unless you count looking at his non-scarred version as the primary benefit, but you're probably largely ignoring the gameplay analysis on this point in that case. Frankly, I think he looks better with the scar, but I'm not exactly the likely target audience here.

Narratively, Jimmy is interesting to me primarily for how he fits into a larger pattern of the game seeming to make social commentary regarding gender and romance/sex/whatever-you-call-it. Back in The Legend, the topic only came up -somewhat awkwardly shoehorned in, at that- when the player was interacting with the prospective brides. In Armored Princess, it's a semi-regular event for random NPCs to hit on Amelie, and it's interesting to me how the game handles that. One early event allows the player to choose whether they're flattered by the compliment or not, but either way the reaction is 'if you keep pushing this topic, you creepster, there's going to be blood'. While Amelie isn't usually so brazenly hostile to being hit on, it's pretty clear the game is not intending for the player to consider this normal behavior to be acceptable or even desirable, even as it allows the player the option to enjoy the compliments aimed at their avatar.

Jimmy's story is basically this weird male version mirror image. He was an attractive young man, he saved his girlfriend from a friggin' shark, but he ends up with a scar over one eye, ruining his pretty boy qualities (Or so we're told), and so she promptly leaves instead of appreciating the whole 'saving her from certain doom' thing. (More precisely, she loyally stays by his side... until the bandages come off. Making it 100% clear she left because he's unattractive now) He throws in some commentary about how ever since then women only seem to be interested in him if his purse is bulging with gold, and laments it.

On the one hand, it's not typical in fiction to emphasize male attractiveness as an important quality (But then, part of why that is has to do with how so much fiction defaults to assuming a heterosexual male audience. When you go to fiction aimed at woman, men get objectified quite frequently in an almost identical manner), with attractiveness tending to instead be emphasized as an important quality in women. (And interestingly enough, Jimmy doesn't really talk about his ex-girlfriend's beauty or lack thereof -that isn't what mattered to him about her) So there's a parallel there to Amelie tending to get objectified by men in the game. But there's also a more stereotypically male aspect of income being a notable component in 'romantic' attention, differing a bit from Amelie's general interactions, where none of the men hitting on her seem to be gold-diggers.

The whole dynamic is interesting, and part of what's most interesting to me is how the game is being very low-key about sneaking in more female-centric ideas. It's easy to overlook, because in a number of ways the game does a more stereotypical hetero-male-audience-assuming thing in other realms (ie Amelie's Mage design is bizarrely stripperiffic, and of course ended up being the boxart choice), but in a lot of ways Armored Princess is catering to female fantasies and a female viewpoint in general, which shouldn't be surprising (Female protagonist, after all) yet manages to be anyway.

Subtle example: look at all the Companion art in this post. They're all looking right at you. This is a fairly typical thing in art intended to evoke romantic or sexual feelings, and in most fiction you'll only see it in art of female characters. Male characters will be stoically staring off into the distance somewhere off-frame, or looking at something they're working on in or near their hands, or facing another individual in the picture, or whatever. Female characters will conspire to look at the audience, normally, staring ~soulfully~ into your eyes, they have eyes only for you, etc etc.

The next fellow's portrait is a particularly good example. Notice how his body is facing off to the audience's right, and his head is facing that way too, but his eyes are nonetheless both pointed right at the audience. With Jimmy, the effect could be excused as a result of just being the chosen camera angle, which itself makes it easy to both display the scar and I suspect also made it easier for the artist to make the scarred and non-scarred versions: it's a head-on view, so of course he's looking right at us. With Elenhel, his positioning would more naturally have him looking at some point off-camera, but he's looking ~soulfully~ (Well, more like smugly) at the audience.

Stuff like this is part of why, even though I found The Legend's handling of its Companions a wee bit creepy, I tend to give the series the benefit of the doubt on the topic of gender and especially how it relates to romance/sex. The series really plays both sides of the Sex Sells end of things, it's just it's less in-your-face about appealing to women.

It helps that the main time characters look like porn stars per se, they tend to be tempters, male or female. Heck, we've got a shirtless pretty-boy demon to talk about in this very post! It's not nearly so common for the King's Bounty games to do the 'it's a girl and Sex Sells, so let's just make her hot and scantily clad for no coherent reason'.

And as I pointed out in the Magic Skill tree post, it's interesting to note that the art for the three Hero options in The Legend are also doing the 'staring soulfully at the audience' thing. With the Mage in a Fabio shirt, to boot. Hmmm.

Finally, it's worth noting that Jimmy can be viewed as closely paralleling Mirabella from The Legend: a pirate person whose primary defining trait is how SEXY they are (Or were, in Jimmy's case), who bolsters the criminal element in general as their gameplay feature. Only I like his boosts better, and the game doesn't make your character instantly fall for him the way The Legend's protagonist automatically drools over Mirabella. So I like Jimmy way better than Mirabella. Especially since he's not explicitly a pirate, just a seafaring fellow on the (first) Pirate Island.

It's too bad the list of units he benefits isn't all that great.

Oh well.


Elenhel

Passive: +4 Intellect.

Equipment: Shield/Gloves, Dress, Belt/Regalia, Artifact.

Active Skill: Every 5 battles, you can request a full Mana recharge. Also, every 30 battles you can ask for a free Wanderer Scroll.

When leaving: Takes 5000 Gold.

Special note: If you either reach Level 40 or, having recruited Elenhel post-Level 40, have ten battles, Elenhel will jump you demanding to leave. Demanding he stay results in a battle. If you win that battle, you'll get 15 Mana Potions and never have to worry about him leaving without you dismissing him.

Elenhel is a fairly straightforward Companion, being the choice if you wanna mage harder, full stop. No other Companion offers anything resembling competition for this role. He's... not particularly great at that particular role, if I'm entirely honest, as 4 Intellect is nice but not amazing, but he's serviceable enough and, again, doesn't really have competition. His penalty for leaving is also not really a big deal by the mid-late game, especially when you consider that Wanderer Scrolls sell for a lot of money and he gives you them for free. Depending on your luck, he can also be a fairly good 'general' Companion just because eg Ancient Knowledge can be used to accelerate your leveling if used carefully.

Just make sure you don't let him jump you right after a battle that actually punched a big hole in your army!

Just as Jimmy parallels Mirabella, so too does Elenhel parallel Neoka, only better done. Where Neoka was some weird mish-mash of fantasies that don't fit together very well, and was royalty without properly considering the impact that has on her story, Elenhel is more coherently an elf who wants to see the world and is snooty and better-than-you-y. His actual mechanical benefits more closely parallel Feanora in human form, but Armored Princess mostly shies away from The Legend's approach to racial unity and yadda, with only one Companion providing Morale to a (real) game faction. And even then, Moro Dark doesn't just provide Morale to Undead. So it's not really a surprise he isn't an Elf providing Elf-based bonuses.

I also appreciate that his hair doesn't look as ridiculous as Neoka's.

He's also one of the Companions that actually fits into the 'squire' framework, explicitly interested in following you about to help him learn to be a better mage -the reason he'll eventually try to abandon you is that he feels he's learnt all he's going to learn from you.

Overall, there's not a lot to say about Elenhel. He works, not amazingly so, but well enough.


Trigger

Passive: +10% to critical chance on archers. (This specifically means: Bowmen, Skeleton Archers, Cannoners, Catapult, Elves [the unit type], Hunters, Goblins, Thorn Hunters, Royal Thorns, Beholders, Evil Beholders, Alchemists, Repair Droids, Cyclops, and in Crossworlds also Engineers, Goblin Shaman, and Fauns)

Equipment: Weapon, Helmet, Belt/Gloves, Boots.

Active Skill: Can permanently upgrade his passive boost periodically. This occurs after 34 battles (15%), then 50 battles after that (20%), and then you have to give Trigger 100 Magic Crystals for the final boost. (25%)

When leaving: Takes 20% of your Gold.

Oh god why.

I really don't know what the developers were thinking with Trigger. His bonus is army-specific, small, unreliable even when you've got the right army, and uninteresting to boot. Having to give Trigger 100 Magic Crystals to max out his lame bonus is insane, never worth doing. His penalty for leaving is fairly harsh, unless you happen to be nearly out of Gold anyway, which you won't be given how late his placement is. Even his actual equipment options are fairly boring/unimpressive!

The only nice thing I can say about him is that ranged-heavy armies are good by default, and even then Armored Princess adds in some surprisingly viable technically-non-ranged units like Assassins. This makes him one of the more widely-relevant-in-practice Companions, technically, but not enough to really help. His list also overlaps exactly with Quick Draw's benefits, so if you're inclined to try a run focused on leveraging Quick Draw I suppose Trigger is the most natural fit to that?

Narratively, I don't have any real opinions about Trigger. He's a dwarf tinkerer, because dwarf, who specializes in basically making sniper scopes or something, and who wants to travel the world for... vague reasons... honestly, Trigger feels to me like they just slapped in a dwarven Companion with no trait beyond 'dwarf gonna dwarf', and then stopped there.

This is sort of sad, since he clearly is a parallel to Gerda, in terms of 'here's a Dwarf Companion', only where Gerda has hints they intended more with her and just didn't end up pulling it off, Trigger really seems to be exactly what they plotted out, in all its underwhelming glory. So where Jimmy and Elenhel were Mirabella and Neoka but male and done better, Trigger is somehow managing to be worse than Gerda was. Gerda's backstory of an abusive family and so on was at least something distinctive to her, and not just 'dwarf gonna dwarf', even if I cringe at how it ended up working out in The Legend's context. Trigger is just... a dwarf. That's it.

He doesn't even have an impressively dwarfy beard.


Moldok

Passive: +1 Speed and Initiative for Orcs-the-species. In Orcs on the March, he also grants Orcs-the-unit, Orc Veterans, and Orc Trackers 15-20 Adrenaline at the start of the battle, and their melee attacks will inflict Bleeding.

Equipment: Weapon/Shield, Shield, Belt/Regalia, Artifact.

Active Skill: Every 15 battles, Moldok will take half the gold you earned from the fight you just finished. The battle afterward, you'll begin with full Rage. Additionally, in Orcs on the March he can Train Orcs into Veterans and Trackers.

When leaving: Takes 1000 Gold times the number of days Moldok has been with you.

Oh hey, it's that 'time' mechanic being made to actually do... something of meaning. In practice it means that if you're intending to use and then dismiss Moldok for some reason, you should minimize inter-island travel and in general be quick about doing things. Or you can spend all your Gold before dismissing him, since he can't actually put you into the negatives. That works too. Though honestly the amount really isn't that big a deal in the late game, and he's placed in the mid-late game, so you can basically just ignore it. Just... don't do what I suggested before of manipulating time with Fast Travel to have a constant Nighttime Operations bonus if you're using Moldok and not 100% sure you're going to take him to the end of the game, I guess.

In the base version of the game, Moldok was held back by the fact that Orcs were still pretty meh. In Orcs on the March, he's pretty darn great, because Orcs are now pretty darn great, even aside his new 'make basic-model-Orcs better' features. Inflicting Bleeding is a pretty great feature, too, particularly for the Warrior and Mage due to their respective specializations in Rage and nuking things with Spells; having solid melee units that incidentally essentially increase non-percentile Rage and Spell damage by 25% is pretty great. Veteran Orcs in particular can end up with pretty insane Speed if supported properly, making it easy to rapidly leverage the Bleeding inducement, and Savage Attack lets them dump Bleeding on multiple units at once.

In (English?) Orcs on the March, Moldok is also coded slightly poorly: when you talk with him, he'll have three dialogue options, the top of which is for training, the middle of which is for dismissing him, and the bottom of which is for ending the conversation, but the first two lines are duplicates and the third line appears to be for dismissing him. Once you know about it, it's more annoying than a real problem, but for a new player it can lead to frustrating oopsies.

Parallels-wise, Moldok doesn't have any parallels. The Legend didn't give you a nice Orc girl to get socked in the face by as part of their marriage ritual, after all. Instead, Moldok builds on the 'Companions for races' thing, filling said gap. His actual bonuses can be compared to Rina's, at least when focusing on the base game, but that's about it for parallels. Though it's interesting to me how Moldok is a bit of a jerk without being crammed into the series' Orc stereotypes, particularly when contrasted against Trigger just being generically a dwarf.

I also like his visual design overall; as I alluded to early, he's rugged-ugly, and it's not that hard to view a given case as ruggedly handsome, which lets Moldok stay on-model to an Orc while still potentially being attractive to a player. This can be contrasted with Bagyr down the line in Dark Side, who really, really does not look like an Orc in pursuit of making him unambiguously handsome.

Though I am curious why Moldok's eyes seem to have black for the whites and red for the pupils. Other Orcs don't seem to have oddly/stereotypically-evilly-colored eyes, and Moldok isn't possessed by demons or something. It's a puzzling design choice.


Moro Dark

Passive: +3 Attack in general, and +1 Morale for Undead.

Equipment: Weapon, Armor, Helmet, Belt/Regalia.

Active Skill: 'Power of Darkness' mechanic. When you fight armies which have Undead and/or Demons, this number reduces after the battle. If your army contains such units, it increases after each battle. -5 for fighting Undead, -4 for fighting Demons, +2 for using Demons, +1 for using Undead. These all stack together, so if you fight a battlegroup of Undead and Demons while using Undead and Demons, the end result is the -9 from fighting such is reduced to -6 by leading such.

When Power of Darkness is high, he can upgrade Skeletons into Skeleton Archers (2 Gold a head), and Knights into Black Knights (50 Gold a head), whereas if it's low he can upgrade Swordsmen into Bowmen (5 Gold a head) and Black Knights into Knights. (50 Gold a head) Also, the first time 'Power of Darkness' reaches 0%, Moro gives you a Shard of Darkness, which is an Artifact that boosts Black Knight Attack by 10 and effectively grants them Furious.

When leaving: No extra penalty.

Even Moro Dark is somehow staring soulfully into your eyes from within his Sauron helmet!

Mechanically, the primary motive for picking up Moro Dark is to grind his Power of Darkness to zero and laugh maniacally at how much more powerful your Black Knights are now. Even his (complete lack of a) leave penalty fits with the assumption you'll love him and then leave him. His innate effects are okay, but not amazing, and his equipment list is decent but also not amazing, so if you're thinking of going for him in his own right, he's... not bad, but not memorable or great.

His general +3 to Attack is honestly probably nicer than Trigger's crit chance boost, though, so if you're not sure who you want to run Moro Dark is never a bad choice, especially since you can just let him go without consequence. He's inconveniently late into the game, unfortunately, making him an option you'll have to wait for...

If you're hoping to get the Shard of Darkness, ideally you'll grab him just before you're intending to clear out the Nameless Island and/or Sheterra anyway.

Parallels-wise, Moro Dark clearly parallels to Rina. It took me an embarrassingly long time to make that connection, to be honest, but they're both Undead-boosting folks who have an Undead mode and a not-Undead mode: it's just that where Rina switches between the two whenever you feel like it and changes her actual passive bonuses appropriately, Moro Dark has a weird gimmick controlling it and the switch is only in regards to his Training options. I like Rina more, personally, but I'm not quite willing to say Moro Dark is just a worse implementation of her basic idea. Mostly I find it interesting that the series twice comes back to this going to and returning from the undead-themed corruption idea, and indeed it also crops up in sidequests, including in Warriors of the North. It's unusual to treat a state of undeath as a potentially temporary affair in this way, and it's doubly-interesting given the King's Bounty games still treat being undead as a horrible/undesirable state. (With the debatable exception of Furious Paladin back in The Legend)

Of course, in both Rina's case and Moro Dark's case there's an element of the typical romance appeal of taking a Bad Boy/Girl and redeeming/reforming them: Rina is married to a criminal at the start of The Legend whereas you are a Heroic Hero and so it's sort of assumed you're bringing Rina out from the criminal underworld as part of this process, while Moro Dark has his very soul tainted by evil up until you manage to purge it from his soul through fighting alongside him. It's not strongly spelled out, but in both cases that basic arc is present, and I suspect it's no coincidence that they're both also your Undead-focused Companions.

I'm not a huge fan of Moro Dark's mechanics, but I like the rest of him well enough.


Gaudi

Passive: Critical hit chance doubled against Demons and Undead. (This applies after all other bonuses)

Equipment: Weapon, Armor, Gloves/Shield, Regalia.

Active Skill: Can upgrade Knights into Paladins (100 Gold per head) and Priests into Inquisitors. (25 Gold per head)

When leaving: Takes 25% of your Gold.

I have to wonder if Gaudi's name is meant to be invoking 'gaudy'. There's enough English-based jokes/puns outright in the filenames it's not an implausible scenario.

In any event, Gaudi is pretty awful. His passive only helps in narrow situations, and even in those situations it's not terribly reliable unless you invest effort elsewhere to raise base crit chance, especially since the units he's indirectly encouraging you to use (Inquisitors, Paladins) have low crit chances at base. His equipment options aren't particularly notable (Access to Weapons is standard, if you want a Shield+Regalia-capable Companion Moldok has your back while having much more useful benefits, there's plenty of Armor options... his access to Gloves is the only moderately notable quirk, and most Gloves are fairly eh), and his Training options are narrow and hampered by how the game likes to give you a lot of Paladins and Inquisitors anyway.

His Training options are particularly lackluster in the context of Orcs on the March, where the player has access to Training via the Military Academies. In the base game, he'd be notable as a way of getting infinite Inquisitors from the Hordes of Priests you find here and there. (I believe that you're also guaranteed a Horde of Knights, but I'm less certain of that. Armored Princess is a lot less generous with Hordes than The Legend was)

Then he quite obnoxiously takes even more Gold than Trigger does if you do ever dismiss him, as one more strike against bothering to grab him.

He does give you a (not-very-good) weapon for joining him, but whatever.

Overall, Gaudi is mechanically probably worse than even Trigger, is what I'm saying, which is a fairly impressive feat.

Parallels-wise, Gaudi doesn't really parallel directly to any of The Legend's companions. You didn't get a PURGE THE UNCLEAN girlfriend ranting about the evils of the world and how she'll purge them with fire and sword herself if she has to, nor does his mechanical bonuses parallel anything from The Legend. The only parallel-ish thing is the larger pattern that The Legend and Armored Princess both have multiple Companions who partially cover Humans as a faction (Mirabella and Rina boosting criminals included Robbers and Marauders, Human units, back in The Legend, while in Armored Princess Jimmy does the same, Moro Dark can upgrade to or from Human units in addition to his Undead focus, and Gaudi can upgrade a couple of Human units into Human units) without ever quite having a Companion actually boost Humans as a whole.

In some ways I better get how things went wrong with Gaudi than I do with Trigger, and in other ways it makes even less sense to me. The Legend already had its own problems with how it wanted to handle PURGE THE UNCLEAN mechanics, so it's not terribly surprising a Companion building on this idea ended up wonky, just like The Legend's Paladin class was wonky, but at the same time I'm not even sure why they wanted to make such a Companion in the first place, and it's even more confusing how boring Gaudi is than how boring Trigger is. You'd think a fire and brimstone paladin would manage to be memorable, but somehow Gaudi just comes across as an ineffectual whiner, and not even memorable as a whiner.

I dunno, maybe he's built around some 'appeals to a major subset of women' concept that I don't recognize and that's the issue? Or maybe it's a translation issue? Or heck, maybe even a cultural issue.

Regardless, notice how he's blatantly cocking an eyebrow at you, the audience. He's not just gazing soulfully into your eyes, he's outright trying to provoke you into coming to him! I actually find it hilarious coming from Gaudi, honestly, in part because nothing about his dialogue suggests even a hint of any such feelings. I'm not sure if that's just the artist and the writer being on different pages or if it's actually wholly consistent in the form of Gaudi being unable to hint at any such thing because pious paladin yadda yadda but still totally trying to HINTHINT anyway, just more subtly.


Agvares

Passive: +100% base Attack for female units. (Dryads, Lake Fairies, Forest Fairies, and Demonesses)

Equipment: Weapon, Armor/Dress, Belt/Gloves, Artifact.

Active Skill: If his 'Mental Fatigue' is at 0%, you can have Agvares control one of your troops in the next battle, granting it bonuses but denying you input on its actions. (Mental Fatigue will return to 0% between 7-10 battles afterward) The stack will always gain +10 to Attack and Defense, but also gains a random bonus from the following list;

+2 Speed

Furious

Sets enemies on fire when attacking them, the Burning lasting for 3 turns

Heals when attacking (Does not resurrect)

+50% Fire resistance

When leaving: Takes 30,000 Gold.

Yes, he takes 30,000 Gold if he leaves. Admittedly by the endgame that's not nearly as bad as it sounds, and he's placed in the endgame, but ouch.

Mechanically, Agvares is... interesting? I like the idea behind him, but the execution could use work. The first three random bonuses actually all work fairly well for a charge-into-melee unit, but the fourth one is only useful if said unit is a big tank (eg an Orc Chieftain) and the fifth one is only useful if your enemies are using Fire damage in particular, making it not only random exactly what benefit you get but effectively random whether you get a bonus at all, in real terms. His base effect is not as amazingly powerful as I'd prefer for an effect that's specialized in four units where one of the four doesn't play nice with the others (And this isn't The Legend with Tolerance; you'll need to put in effort if you don't want the Demonesses seriously hurting the Elven women's Morale) and the four aren't even all that great a team together. His equipment options are oddly geared toward magework, but Elenhel is clearly superior for actually supporting magework.

The overall result is that while Agvares isn't awful in the way Trigger and Gaudi are, he's a bit of an unclear mess, working at cross-purposes with himself, which in some ways makes it actually harder to decide to take him. Trigger I could at least point out hypothetical 'Trigger is your man' scenarios, but I honestly can't think of a scenario Agvares is going to be your pick for. I think Anga's Ruby is still in the game, so I guess he'd be your Companion of choice if you found it and decided you wanted to leverage its insane bonuses? Outside that though... eeeeh...

Parallels-wise, Agvares is Xeona, but male. He's a super-hot Demon who is all about the sex and the tempter angle, submission and dominance, yadda yadda. The main thing that's interesting to me about it is that the game is subtly flipping around one of The Legend's conceptual foundations: in The Legend, the sexuality of women has power, while the sexuality of men is basically just a weakness. Armored Princess hasn't done away with the specific gameplay mechanics reflecting this idea (ie Beautiful units still exist and all), but Agvares is a highly sexual/sexualized man who the story heavily implies has a lot of power over women as a result (His dialogue implies he's interested in Amelie in part because she doesn't fall all over herself on seeing him), with even his bonus to female units being suggested to be basically about them fangirling over him so much this somehow makes them murder people more effectively.

I don't actually like Agvares in implementation, unfortunately, for the mechanical reasons I've already laid out, but I do like that Armored Princess was trying to play around with the series' own assumptions in this sort of way.

His design is a bit weird to me, though, in terms of how he doesn't really fit into the Demon aesthetic of the series. Most Demons we see are humanoid in body plan but have strong animalistic qualities (eg Imps, Demons-the-unit, Archdemons), or are extremely human in appearance aside a few hints to the contrary (eg Demonesses, who look entirely human if you ignore their horns, the color of their hair, and most blatantly their wings), or are broadly human-ish in appearance but with weird colors and what look like actual deformities. (Many of the Demon NPC portraits) Agvares is... a pretty young man, except his skin color is flagrantly inhuman, he's got horns, he's got odd spiky bits sticking out of his jawline, and he has weird Funny Forehead Alien-esque markings on his skin, including his actual forehead. Unlike a Demoness, there's no condition in which you'd mistake Agvares for an actual human being (A Demoness who somehow hid her wings and the top/back of her head would look perfectly human), and yet he lacks the more inhuman features we see on other Demons. It's a bit of a headscratcher, and Agvares comes across to me like the one Companion in Armored Princess where the focus was so strongly on making him appealing to look at that other things got tossed to the wayside.

---------------------

And now for the Orcs on the March addition:


Rakush

Passive: Catapults do 25% more damage, while 'little goblins' do 50% more damage against Level 5 units.

Equipment: Weapon, Helmet, Boots, Belt/Regalia.

Active Skill: Can upgrade Goblins into Catapults and Furious Goblins into Goblin Shaman. Also, he can sell you 'Happy Water' for 2000 Gold at any time, providing some Mana and Rage.

When leaving: I actually don't know, honestly. I've tested dismissing him, but didn't notice any consequences, and poking around online I'm not seeing evidence of other people having found any such penalty.

Rakush is actually in the base game as a character, it's just Orcs on the March makes him recruitable. It's... honestly a weird choice, as Rakush is an obstacle on your way to completing the main plot. The other Companions are all ignorable side characters who have no connection to the main plot. Rakush isn't exactly memorable or likable, either. I guess the devs just wanted a goblin-specialized Companion and decided to use a pre-existing goblin character? There's not that many options...

I have no idea what 'little goblins' means. I haven't been able to find internal code designating the list, and it's not like there's any goblin unit that towers above all others. I kind of suspect it just means all four of Goblins, Furious Goblins, Catapults, and Goblin Shaman, but I don't actually know, and it's not something particularly convenient to test in real play.

Regardless, Rakush is... honestly usually less useful than Moldok even if you want to lean heavy on goblins. Speed and Initiative are hugely useful to all four goblins, bonus damage against Level 5 units isn't that great given how battlegroups almost never have more than one Level 5 stack at all and many battlegroups don't have any, and the bonus damage on Catapults isn't really enough to make up the difference. Being able to buy 'happy water' from Rakush is neat, I guess, but you're not often in situations where you urgently want Mana and Rage, so really the only thing it has over Potions of Mana and Rage is that the supply lasts as long as you've got the money. And... Potions of Mana and Mage aren't some vitally important resource you rapidly run through, so... who cares?

The main thing he has going for him is the Boots slot, as Jimmy and Trigger are your only alternatives, there's some nice Boots in the game, and Jimmy is even more limited in utility while Trigger is wholly unreliable... but Trigger affects three of the four units Rakush affects, also applies to a bunch of other units, can be gotten earlier in the game, and doesn't erase a shop from the world (Rakush acts as a shop prior to joining you), so even though Trigger is terrible it's not so clear-cut whether Rakush is actually better. Worse yet, Rakush only exists in Orcs on the March, where you can use Military Academies to Train units instead of Rakush, with Rakush's only advantage being that he doesn't burn your Trophies in the process.

One point in Rakush's favor, I suppose, is that he can equip the Ogre's Set for you. Of course, the Ogre's Set is one of the more dubious sets in the game, so... yay?

Parallels-wise, Rakush is another Companion with no real parallel in The Legend. An argument could be made that he's 'making up' for The Legend failing to have any Orc-focused Companions at all, I guess?

Though honestly I've sometimes wondered if the King's Bounty series had intended to at some point break Orcs up properly into an Orc faction and a Goblin faction, with Rakush being an early indicator of this intention, and then said intention never actually being followed through on. Armored Princess also has an Orc island and a separate Goblin island, for example, and I know from the code -and from Ice and Fire- that the game can support cross-race Morale bonuses, so it would totally have been possible for the game to break Orcs up into an Orc Faction and a Goblin faction and then kept the racial synergy of Orcs and Goblins anyway. So maybe Armored Princess had vague plans for such, and then Orcs on the March came back to implementing this idea, and Rakush being a goblin-focused Companion ended up being the only part of the idea that actually made it into Orcs on the March.

Overall though I don't really get what's going on with Rakush as a choice. He just seems a very strange Companion on pretty much every level.

--------------------------------

It's a bit unfortunate that Armored Princess' Companion quality is fairly uneven, arguably more uneven than The Legend's, but the overall mechanics are better-done and the entire framework is less uncomfortable so I still consider it an overall improvement.

And... that's it for Armored Princess! Aside one bonus post, anyway.

So next time, we get started on Warriors of the North, beginning with an introduction.

Comments

  1. Gaudi's name is a reference to Gourry from the Slayers anime, just as Lina in the first game referenced the main character from there. It's more obvious in Russian, where Gourry is spelled like Gauri, so only one letter changes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Huh! I'm not familiar with Slayers personally, but that does give some context. I always found Lina's name the one Rage Spirit that seemed a bit out of place (Sleem->slime, Zerock->the rock, Reaper is self-evident), but she's just 'girl who is good at magic named after girl who is good at magic'. That's cool to know!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts