Let's Play Monster Quest Part 27
Another one of those missions that's strange on the timeline; Eirika is, back on basically the opposite side of the continent, unable to secure passage on a ship because a 'ghost ship' is sinking any that leave port. Now, one could argue that there's just multiple such ships, but good narrative design involves conservation of detail and there's never any other references to ghost ships haunting the seas. So... the implication is that Eirika is being barred from getting a boat in Carcino nearly simultaneous to Ephraim running into the ship that's preventing her from doing so.
Now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder if this is meant to be a subtle attempt to illustrate a contrast between the twins' personalities. Like, Eirika runs into evidence going by sea is a bad idea, so she doesn't push the topic, while Ephraim walks right into the trap. If that is the intent it's not executed very well, though, as in the over a decade since I originally played the game this is the first time that possibility has ever crossed my mind. It's not like Ephraim hears about a ghost ship and goes 'meh, we're taking a boat anyway'.
Before I get started, I should note that I stripped most stealables from my units prior to starting this mission, since it's a fog map with Revenants and even Entombed. Way too easy to have them pop out and steal something important without me even knowing the Revenant was in the fog.
My units and my starting position.
I really wanted to squeeze in Franz, Joshua, and/or Cormag, but this mission is brutally difficult and the Support relationships plus my long-term priorities plus unit quality plus unit qualities made it difficult to justify swapping any of these people out. Artur and Lute Support each other and are powerful magic fliers on an ocean map. Colm is vital for having non-awful line of sight, and Supports and is Supported by Neimi, who is good in general but also provides options for dealing with the numerous Gargoyles more efficiently. Ross and Garcia suffer badly if separated, and are fairly powerful and should perform decently on this map given how Lance-biased it inherently is. Gilliam is by far my toughest unit. Kyle and Forde help prop up Ephraim and each other and I'm wanting to use them long-term.
Vanessa I could swap out, but Cormag is her inferior in almost every way right now, by a wide margin. And swapping in Franz would mean taking away one of my fliers. (So would Joshua, for that matter, but he's also just very weak right now and unlike Franz doesn't help me drag in an additional monster-slaying weapon)
At the start, there's no monsters anywhere in line of sight, no matter where I shove Colm.
Nonetheless, this is my third try at this map so I already know what I'm doing to an extent.
Garcia breaks out a Torch on the idea that Colm will be going for the south gangplank once it arrives, while Garcia and Ross will be taking the north gangplank. I was also hoping maybe the Mogall was a little closer than it is such that I could have one of my own Mogalls attack it, but alas it was not to be.
Then a bunch of movement happens, most of it just lining up for the gangplanks. Vanessa moved south off-screen, resulting in...
... this Gargoyle lunging out to die.
A second one, too, and Vanessa gets a fantastic level out of it. I'd have liked to get Defense more than Resist, but this is plenty good.
Up north, a Mogall rushes out of the fog to attack Garcia, but fortunately it misses against the odds and Garcia gets a mildly lucky hit in return, netting him an excellent level. His Luck needs propping up -he'll probably be the recipient of a Goddess Icon- but other than that he's coming along well.
And then it's my turn -a lot of the enemies out in the water don't move right away, even if something is in range, for whatever reason. So Artur softens up the unmoving Mogall...
... which lets Lute take the kill. (She couldn't quite land it with just a Fire Tome, unfortunately)
Not liking Garcia's odds of hitting the Mogall a second time and noticing that Ross is also quite close to a level, I shuffle Garcia out of the way and have Ross go for a finishing blow with his Hatchet -only it's a derp on my part and Ross can't actually quite secure the kill with just a Hatchet. Oops.
At least he got an excellent level out of it.
Vanessa heals off the damage she just took and prepares herself for a couple of Mogalls that will be spawning here next turn -having her try to help clear out the enemy ship is very dangerous for her, and not much help for the rest of my team. Better to preempt flankers.
I end turn looking like this, having used some Rescue Shenanigans to pull Ross out of reach of the Gargoyle so he can't possibly die on the enemy turn.
I wasn't expecting the Gargoyle to go after Artur, but I'll take this result quite happily.
Not sure why the Mogall went into melee range with him, but whatever, I can just pull an Elixir for this.
End turn with Mogall reinforcements: two where Vanessa can see them, two in the fog in the northwest.
I open with Vanessa wiping out one of the Mogalls. She takes a hit in return, but she can definitely survive the other attacking her, there's nothing anywhere nearby, and I'm pretty sure these Mogalls won't move until a later turn, so she'll get to kill the other Mogall on the enemy turn.
Back on the boats, Gilliam blocks off the south gangplank with his body, ready to be surrounded by enemies and kill them. Or at least wear them down.
Ross pulls an Elixir from Supply and through the magic of Supply and Canto immediately dumps it back into Supply after using it.
Artur wipes out the Gargoyle while advancing easterly.
After some poking at the possibilities, I have Garcia charge in even though he's not benefiting from Ross' Support right now. With the Fiendcleaver he can one-shot the Revenants, among other things, and I'm reasonably confident he won't be dogpiled to death anyway. He's fairly tough at this point.
The earlier Torch use means he reveals an opportunity for Lute to contribute from relative safety, and she takes it.
Then moving up happens. Notably, it occurs to me I can use Rescue Shenanigans to get Ross dumped into Garcia's Support range after all, and I do so.
A Bonewalker makes the mistake of going for Ephraim -notice that I've broken out a Silver Lance for this mission. A Steel Lance is too heavy for Ephraim, preventing him from doubling various enemies on this mission, but with the promotion providing a boost to his Lance rank and all, Ephraim is already A in Lances, and given that in the long haul A-rank weaponry will be largely rendered moot by Sacred Twins... no real reason to hold onto the Silver Lance 'just in case'.
Another Bonewalker makes the same mistake, and dies just as readily.
A Sword-wielding Bonewalker goes for Garcia, but the damage is meh and surprisingly Garcia actually lands his hit, lopping off most of its HP. I'm a bit disappointed he didn't kill it outright, though. It would've significantly simplified the rest of this mission if he'd been dogpiled and gotten a series of one hit kills, and he needs the experience.
Enemies start plinking at Gilliam at a distance, to little effect.
Back with Vanessa, my suspicion pays off, and she even manages to dodge the Mogall's attack. Excellent.
Then things go a bit wrong, as I'd forgotten to consider that a Torch is a Stealable item. I could've dumped this Torch back into Supply, and this Revenant would've happily killed itself on Garcia or Ephraim, opening the way for further suicidal action on the enemies' part. Oops.
Thief-Revenants/Rogue-Entombed is the one thing Monster Quest does that I really feel was a poor decision. It makes a lot of early missions much more annoying and can, in cases like this mission, even spike difficulty in weird ways that you don't have to deal with in the base game but that aren't interesting in their own right. And then it gets made worse by your initial healers being garbage, encouraging relying on healing items instead of Staff healing. Which leads to me doing this mission with healing items only sitting on my fliers (Because they'll be out over the water), Colm (Because he's faster than everything on this map), and Neimi. (Because she's also quite fast and is generally going to be sitting in the back anyway)
Though it doesn't help that this is one of the more ill-conceived maps in the base game.
Gilliam absorbs more fire, this time in melee.
The next such case gives him a great level, too! I'm especially glad to be seeing his Speed go up.
More futile flailing.
Lastly, reinforcements arrive: a pair of Bonewalkers climb out of the ship's hold, and Mysterious Reinforcements (ie Mogalls and/or Gargoyles) appear in the northeast and southeast corners, obscured by the fog.
Vanessa flies north to meet some reinforcements that will show up from my west, and uses a Vulnerary to shrug off the one hit she took.
Then Neimi helps speed things up with the hordes around Gilliam.
Garcia one-shots the thieving Revenant after I conclude it's not realistic -or worthwhile, given there's only one future Fog of War mission and I'll have much better tools by then for coping with fog- to try to Steal the Torch back. He gets a great level out of it. I was hoping for more Defense, but whatever.
Forde finishes off the Bonewalker that went after Garcia.
Ephraim charges forth to wipe out this archer Bonewalker, as I'm hoping to get Ephraim over to recruit L'arachel and Dozla when they show up as fast as possible.
Kyle hops in to Support Ephraim, as well as finish off a Revenant, and gets a fantastic level out of it. Everything I most want him to have right now. Strength would be nice, but it's not necessary at the moment, and he's still ahead of his level there.
Ross comes in to limit access to Ephraim and takes a pot-shot at this Bonewalker. I was hoping for a crit, but oh well.
Gilliam goes to finish off the last Revenant around him, but he misses, which caught me so off guard I missed the screenshot entirely. Hence why the Revenant is still alive.
I end turn looking like-
Oh right, Artur and Lute haven't taken their turn yet.
(Yes, I genuinely forgot about them while playing)
Right, now my turn is over, with one less enemy Mogall floating about.
A Bonewalker goes right for Forde, but it misses him and takes a strike in return so it's all good.
Kyle has a similar experience, only he's got better stats and a stronger weapon so he strikes back for nearly three times the damage Forde dished out.
Another one goes for Ephraim, but he dodges and wipes them out.
The Bonewalker that goes for Ross has better luck, but doesn't do much damage.
Then another Bonewalker suicides on Ephraim.
Then a Gargoyle comes lunging out of the shadows for Artur, failing to hit him.
I actually knew this was coming this time. My second attempt at the mission involved sending Artur and Lute aggressively eastward, and they ended up baiting out this Gargoyle, among other things, in the process. It's convenient for protecting L'arachel and Dozla down the line, so I'm deliberately repeating it here.
Then a couple of Bonewalkers try to inflict safe damage on Ephraim and fail.
One that goes for Kyle instead actually does some damage. Some.
This was not in my plans. The ship's forward sprites aren't very clear, so I thought Artur was safe from boat-based attacks, and nope.
On the other hand, he's fine and dished out significant damage to this Bonewalker, so I'm okay with this result.
Then the local Wight takes a pot-shot at Kyle, inflicting modest damage.
Yeah, there's a random Wight mixed in with these monsters.
A Revenant dies on Gilliam...
... which opens the way for the southern Entombed to go after Gilliam and do alarming damage to him by virtue of doubling him. Not to mention that it's alarming how it has a crit chance and by extension a Silencer chance. Yikes.
Additionally, reinforcements show up, including the Boss of this map, the Deathgoyle to the west here. (Including more Bonewalkers coming up the hold)
Funny story; on my second attempt at this mission, I had Vanessa hovering in the west to try to deal with some of these Gargoyles, and apparently I placed her exactly where the Deathgoyle spawns in because it failed to spawn in. I'm a bit baffled as to why any of these reinforcements would be of the 'can be blocked' sort, but hey, that's something you can do to make this mission easier if you like. Given normally the Deathgoyle is often the thing that takes the mission from 'tricky but doable' to 'I can't prevent it from killing someone, aaarrrrgh', that's actually quite useful to know if you're willing to take advantage.
Additionally, L'arachel's boat has arrived with her and Dozla. Dozla can take care of herself, but L'arachel is dangerously vulnerable to being killed, and unlike the base game she'll run down enemies to get herself killed by them since she's armed and dangerous.
How are the two of them looking compared to when we saw them as Eirika?
L'arachel is two levels higher than when she joined Eirika, which is odd since she's joining on the exactly equivalent chapter. She's swapped out her useless Torch for a much more valuable White Gem, and she's gained 1 HP, 1 Magic, 3 Skill, 2 Luck, 4 Resist, but somehow lost 2 Defense. I'm very confused given I was under the impression higher-level alternate-route recruits were just auto-leveled by the game behind the scenes. What happened here?
It overall works out for her, but it's very strange.
Dozla, by contrast, is exactly the same as when we met him as Eirika. 'kay.
The Boss Deathgoyle has, compared to the base game, +5 HP, +5 Strength, +1 Skill, +4 Speed, +9 Luck, +5 Defense, and +5 Resist. That's... nasty. This is already one of the trickier Bosses in the game, being an actively aggressive Boss that can retaliate against anything short of a Longbow (You're not going to have a siege Tome at this point. I'm not sure you can have a Longbow at this point, either, but I'm not sure what all you could get from the Tower of Valni right now), so Monster Quest applying its usual Boss buffing here is... unwelcome.
Lute finishes off the Gargoyle that survived going after Artur.
After some consideration, I have Artur heal himself. I'd like to have him attack an enemy, but he can't one-shot the Mogalls without a crit and he'd have decent odds of ending up dead during the enemy turn. So defensive play it is.
Garcia Fiendcleavers a Bonewalker.
Neimi softens up the southern Entombed and gets a fantastic level out of doing so.
Ross slides up next to Garcia, swaps the Fiendcleaver over, and wipe out a Revenant.
After poking around at possibilities, I eventually conclude it's not realistic to do what I want to do of feeding the Entombed to Ephraim (Since his promoted nature means he most benefits from fixed experience values), and take a risk on having Gilliam go for the kill. Fortunately, he delivers, and gets an excellent level out of doing so.
Ephraim settles for taking out the Sword Bonewalker in the north, taking his first hit of the map and getting a literally perfect level.
I was worried about how Ephraim would turn out previously thanks to the issues with promoting him early, but it's looking like he'll be just fine, especially considering the plot-promotion should reset his level to 1.
Kyle exchanges blows with a pesky Javelin Bonewalker and makes it easier for enemies to get clogged up while attacking Ephraim, reducing the odds of him getting killed during the enemy turn.
Then Forde wraps up the turn by softening up this Bonewalker, taking a moderate hit and getting an okay level out of it. Defense and Speed are much appreciated. A few more levels like this and Forde won't be painfully vulnerable!
The enemy turn opens with the northern reinforcement Bonewalker suiciding on Ephraim. I just missed the shot, but Ephraim actually got a crit here on his first strike, saving a Silver Lance use. Nice.
The southern reinforcement Bonewalker goes for Gilliam for lack of anything better to do, and adds more damage to Gilliam's score. I'm getting a bit worried about him at this point, particularly with that Wight in the area.
The Bonewalker Forde attacked surprises me by also targeting Gilliam, accomplishing nothing.
Over on the eastern ship, a Gargoyle lunges out the fog and lands a hit on L'arachel, surviving her retaliation.
Then back on the middle ship something I've been off-screen preparing for this entire time finally happens: the Gargoyle in the south goes after Neimi, and she's promptly able to crit-kill it because I've had Colm keep Trade-swapping the Short Bow to the top of her list after she's attacked.
I swear it looks like the Gargoyle is evolving Pokemon-style in this shot.
Up north, another Gargoyle lunges out of the fog to attack Artur, catching me off guard. Fortunately, even though it lands the hit, it's so weak it can only do 2 damage to him. Plus he one-shots it. Awesome.
It's only in doing this Monster Quest run that I'm realizing that this Gargoyle -and another one we'll see shortly- is really there for the express purpose of being killed by Dozla and so was deliberately made a joke.
Here's the second joke Gargoyle, netting Artur 2 more damage but an excellent and rather timely level. The 4 damage he just took from these Gargoyles is actually going to be offset by the fact that he'll take 3 less damage from the Mogalls. Nice.
I forgot to screenshot it, but Vanessa fled the western Gargoyles, since she was way too likely to die if the three Gargoyles and the Deathgoyle dogpiled her, but I deliberately left her in reach of one Gargoyle so exactly this would happen. One more fight and she should level, too.
The Mogall dogpile on Artur starts, and never mind 1 of those points of damage I was mentioning. Dodging is good, though. If Artur didn't dodge at least one of these Mogalls, he'd have died right here.
To my tremendous surprise, a Bow Bonewalker elects to suicide on Neimi's instant crit-kill instead of taking a potshot at Gilliam or Kyle or something. Huh?
L'arachel gets targeted again, but this time dodges. Which is good because otherwise she'd have died here.
This isn't the worst recruit sequence in the game, but it's certainly up there, and in the base game it's actually worse since you won't have as many flier options. I could have flown Artur and Lute south to intercept the Gargoyle, and arguably should have, while having Vanessa go north. I also could've been training Tana in the prior missions and brought her along for more flier support. Etc. Not so much in the base game.
(Though admittedly Pegasus Riders are faster than Mogalls and Gargoyles)
Then another Bonewalker goes for ranged suicide on Neimi, continuing to baffle me. I cant even be that annoyed about 'wasted' Short Bow uses since Nidhogg will render it irrelevant in the long haul.
The northern Bow Bonewalker takes a successful potshot at Garcia because I stupidly forgot to swap a Hand Axe to the top of his list when pulling the Fiendcleaver onto Ross.
Which mostly bothers me because it's entirely possible the Bonewalker would've suicided on him if I had, which... would've simplified the rest of this mission some.
The Mogall-on-Artur pile-on continues...
... and ends on a high note, with Artur dodging another attack and crit-killing his final tormentor. Excellent.
Catching me off guard is this Mogall going for Gilliam -I'd forgotten about it. Fortunately, it missed against the odds, else this could've been very bad.
Meanwhile, another Gargoyle goes after Vanessa, this one also missing.
I've been kinda ridiculously lucky on this mission, but you tend to need a lot of luck to get through this mission if you're not grinding or abusing pre-promotes.
The Wight continues the inexplicable Neimi pile-on, actually landing its hit. So Neimi could totally have died this turn with worse luck. And also the fact that she's wielding the Short Bow is actually inconvenient here since the Wight is so tough and all.
The Deathgoyle bursts from the fog to... fail to hit Vanessa.
Lastly for the enemy turn, the surviving Entombed goes after Ross, and they exchange misses. Okay.
I'd rather they'd exchanged hits, to be honest. Really, really would've preferred that.
Come Green turn, I breathe a sigh of relief as L'arachel zips off to Elixir herself...
... and then Dozla murders the Gargoyle that went after her.
Which leaves only that Bonewalker able to reach her, actually, since the Mogall can't fly through the masts.
Back on my turn, and this... is the trickiest turn of the bunch and involved a lot of forward planning. First is Gilliam wiping out this Bonewalker.
Then I randomly bounce up to have Lute kill this Mogall. It dodging and getting a hit in is irritating...
And I make a really, really dumb mistake, but we'll get to that.
For now, Lute gets... a mediocre level. Oh well, she's still very solid.
Artur wipes out this Bonewalker, safe from melee enemies on the ship thanks to the barely-visible pile of rope being completely impassible for... some reason.
Anyway, back to The Plan. Ross Fiendcleavers a Mogall out of the way now that Gilliam has cleared the way, and gets... a level containing none of the stats I want on him right now. Dangit.
Garcia swings on down, takes the Fiendcleaver off Ross -and this time I make sure to swap Ross to the Hatchet- and wipes out the other Mogall, because it's a much bigger threat than basically anything else in the area right now just because it hits on Resist.
In turn, Neimi ducks into this corner, out of reach of anything but the Wight, the currently-covered Bonewalker boarding L'arachel's ship, and the Bow Bonewalker up north. (The latter being why it suiciding itself would've simplified things)
Ephraim hops over to deal with the Bonewalker boarding L'arachel's ship with hopes of recruiting her next turn.
You can also see that Vanessa has moved up next to the Wight and not attacked it. I'm working on pinning it in place.
Kyle finishes off the Bow Bonewalker...
... and Forde moves to pin the Wight, except it turns out I screwed up and he can't reach and so I have him reduce access to Vanessa instead and hope really hard things will work out anyway.
A Gargoyle goes after Vanessa, dishing out damage and giving her a crappy level in exchange.
Notice the *Slim Lance. The idea was to try to discourage ranged enemies -mostly, the Deathgoyle- from going after her. It doesn't seem to be working...
Over with Artur, a Mogall suicides on him, involving a gratuitous crit. Not... the kind of luck that helps in this situation. At least he dodged. That was useful.
Turns out I totally forgot about this Mogall! It also turns out it's fine because the Mogall can't hurt her. I'm not sure why it's targeting her at all. I'm pretty sure it could do actual damage to Ephraim, if nothing else.
Yep, my gambit to discourage targeting Vanessa is failing. Why? I don't get why the AI is prioritizing her. Why aren't they taking potshots at my Baels?
I get the Wight going for her, since it would've killed her if it hit, but why was she in that situation in the first place?
And my lucky streak continues with Vanessa even dodging the Deathgoyle's strike.
Now I'm regretting equipping the *Slim Lance, since it just wasted uses of it. She'd have taken out the melee Gargoyle if she'd kept the Brightlance equipped.
And here's where my screw-up comes into play: the Entombed nicks Lute's Guiding Ring because I wasn't paying attention and didn't realize she was in reach to be stolen from.
I seriously considered restarting right here, but the amount of luck it took to get here was tremendous and I can cover it with Secret Shops and/or Master Seals down the line if it's really an issue. So... I kept this result, as you can see. Really frustrated by it, but kept it. Besides, maybe I can Steal it back?
Then Green turn comes about, and it starts out with Dozla wiping out a Mogall...
... and then L'arachel catches me completely off-guard by going after the Entombed. I didn't even realize it was in her reach!
So no, I'm not Stealing it back. Colm is out of reach, and L'arachel will probably just kill the Entombed herself if I don't do it first.
Oh, and Ephraim can't recruit her either.
Fortunately, things from here are relatively simple, with how few enemies are left.
Vanessa wipes out this Gargoyle, attacking from the left in specific so that if she missed either hit somebody else could finish it anyway.
Garcia uses the Fiendcleaver to one-shot the Gargoyle Vanessa could have killed if I hadn't bothered with my unsuccessful plan, which opens the way for...
... Ross to come in and take the Fiendcleaver for himself to target the Deathgoyle. Aggravatingly, it lands a hit against the odds, but he's still fine so long as I get rid of the Deathgoyle right away.
Artur handles the job of wiping out the Entombed, netting himself a really terrible level just to add insult to injury.
Ephraim gets to work on wearing down the Wight. Frustrating that he's one point short of doubling it.
Gilliam further wears down the Deathgoyle, relying on his sheer durability to make it okay that it's doubling him. The fact that it misses it a nice bonus, though not relevant, really.
Then it turns out risking Gilliam was unnecessary because I gave Neimi Duessel's Silver Bow just in case and it turns out she hit A at some point so she can obliterate it with the Silver Bow, and could've easily done so without his additional 5 points of damage.
Though I did need him or Garcia to land a hit, or else Neimi would fall 3 points short of killing it.
Also she gets a not-bad-not-great level out of it. I'm just glad I've got the mission in the bag.
Lute and Artur hit A in Support anew. So that's a bit of a payoff for my dumb mistake. I guess.
And I end turn looking like this.
Turns out there's another Gargoyle in the shadows!
So it's only blind, stupid luck I didn't fail the mission anyway.
I'd forgotten how much I actually hate this mission. Some of the non-fog missions are more overtly horrid, but this mission is such a mess and the fog just randomly punishes you for things that aren't even mistakes.
Over with the Wight, it baffles me by suiciding on Ephraim. Yeah, now he's on 1 HP, but there's nothing in reach to finish him off, and meanwhile there's a Bael it could've hurled its Javelin at for more free damage on me. I'm not complaining, but I don't get what the AI has been doing throughout this mission.
Green turn arrives and L'arachel wipes out a Mogall that arrived from the fog.
Then my turn rolls around and the One Enemy Left music kicks in and I breathe a sigh of relief.
Lute softens up the remaining Mogall...
... and Artur finishes it.
And the mission rather unceremoniously ends.
Thankfully, we're past the worse hurdle in Ephraim's route, and while there's some aggravating stuff later in his route Monster Quest's ridiculous player-favoring gamebreakers should be coming into play by then. There's... one mission I'm a bit concerned about, but we'll see how that goes.
See you next mission.