Update 22: The Sound of No-one Caring

♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

Welcome back. Today, we'll be taking on the absolute least interesting paralogue in the game. It is so uninteresting that once this next cutscene is over, I will likely just be rambling about whatever I feel like. I normally try to maintain a high standard of quality, or at least provide something tangentially relevant to my tactics, but this paralogue is so boring that I've found it difficult to muster the energy to go through it.
♪ No music ♪

♪ Tactics ♪

But with so few knights, we'll surely—

What's going on?
Alois. You're not going to suggest we send students, are you?
I am, actually. Do you have a problem with that?
I do. We can't send them out on a knight's mission without Rhea's blessing.
I'm sure I can get the go-ahead. I'll just say the students have a...new field training opportunity, or something like that.
Besides, we'll be there. We're not going to let them get killed by pirates.

What's this about pirates?
There are pirates causing havoc in the port of Derdriu, at the center of House Riegan's territory.
The Merchants' Association sent a request via the Eastern Church, asking for protection.

The Eastern Church?
You haven't heard of the Eastern Church? I suppose that's because they don't have much of a presence.
The Eastern Church controls eastern Fódlan. They don't have a standing army like we do. So, for incidents like this, they customarily ask for help from the Central Church.
I imagine they want to contribute to make their presence known in the Alliance.
Be that as it may, we knights are quite busy. We don't have personnel to spare. Therefore, we're enlisting your help!

I may.

Let's go.
We don't have time to lose. Let's take care of this quickly.

♪ As Swift as Wind ♪

You like boring justifications for paralogues? This might as well be an early-game mission for how low the stakes are. And not to spoil much, but the rewards aren't worth our time, and this mission is intensely frustrating on Maddening. I hate it.

Here's our group. Forced deployments, Alois is a guest, yadda yadda yadda, I really can't be bothered. I just want to get back to the parts of the game that are actually interesting, and aren't just us doing a bog-standard mission for the Knights of Seiros.

Here's the boss. He attacks at 1-2 range, and will die if a magic user looks at him funny. While he's alive, a bunch of reinforcements will continually spawn, including a shitload of Wvyern Riders. I hate Wyvern Riders.
♪ No music ♪

Let's just get a move on already.
♪ Dark Clouds Gather ♪

The Almyran Navy... This is going to be tougher than I expected.
They're obviously bluffing, but it seems to be working on the merchants. Shall we?
I won't be showing this slog on future playthroughs, so let's take this moment to admire the extra line of dialogue Claude adds if you're playing Golden Deer.
Huh? Sure, those look like Almyran ships, but I guarantee you they're just common pirates.

♪ Tempest of Seasons ♪

Every turn an enemy is in the boundaries established by these squares, you lose rewards. This wouldn't be so bad if there weren't fucking fliers. Especially ones that spawn and move every turn on Maddening fuck fuck fuck.

Let's talk about Final Fantasy XIV. I play that a lot. It is the only MMO I've ever been able to get into, and I've invested a lot of time into it. The game says I've played 90 days, 7 hours, 57 minutes at time of writing this paragraph, and I very much believe it.

FF14 has these things called Ultimate fights. High-end content—fights that are designed for players who know what they're doing—comes in three difficulties in FF14. There's Extreme trials, which are amped up versions of normal boss fights. There's Savage raids, which these days are even more amped up versions of boss fights that are classified as raids. And then there's Ultimate fights, which are designed to be mechanically strict, test every bit of knowledge you have about the job you're playing, and give the ol' brain-teaser-solving muscles a workout with some absolutely nonsensical cryptic bullshit.

Ultimate fights were introduced in the previous expansion, Stormblood, which had two of them: the Unending Coil of Bahamut, which was a super-hard condensing of the final fights of the first raid series, the Binding Coil of Bahamut, and The Weapon's Refrain (commonly referred to as UWU), a masochistic take on the base game's final boss, the Ultima Weapon, with the three main bosses—Ifrit, Garuda, and Titan—thrown in for good measure.

The latest Ultimate fight, the Epic of Alexander, the first for the current Shadowbringers expansion, was released a few weeks ago, and took several days to be cleared for the first time, and then several more days for another group to clear it again. For FF14, which normally sees content cleared within at most a handful of days, sometimes within less than 24 hours, and in which progression through fights ("prog") is pretty damn fast, this is quite a while. It is a remix of the Alexander raid series, which spanned all of the Heavensward expansion.

The Alexander raids were about a group of goblins called the Illuminati taking control of Alexander, a gigantic walking primal that could control time, and trying to make their own utopia from it, by killing everything else. They were absolutely wild and involved a lot of time bullshit that I found a bit hard to keep track of at times. The bit I most remember is in the final stage, where in the preceding cutscene, your character and their companions are saved from being demolished by a laser while frozen in time by yourself and your party, because you warp back in time mid-fight to destroy the temporal distortion around your character and the NPCs.

I'm not gonna talk about the actual mechanics behind the Epic of Alexander, because I only know two things about the fight. One is Fate Calibration α, which is the major cryptic bullshit of the fight, and requires some truly galaxy brain thinking to solve. Look it up if you have the time, there's a writeup by one of the world firsters about how they solved it.

No, the thing I want to talk about is the enrage attack. Enrage, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, refers to an attack that a boss, usually in an MMO, breaks out when you've taken too long to kill it, and is designed to function as a hard time limit. Soft enrages spam you with heavy, but manageable, damage until the boss dies, hard enrages just kill everyone once enough time has passed without you dealing enough damage. As you might imagine, high-end content basically has nothing but hard enrages at the ends of fights. I don't think any high-end fights in FF14 have soft enrages.

The Unending Coil of Bahamut had, to my knowledge, a pretty standard enrage attack: the boss channels up a big explosion, it goes off, everyone dies, restart the fight.

Here we go!

The Weapon's Refrain and the Epic of Alexander are different. In particular, let me talk about the Epic of Alexander's. If you don't want to see spoilers for the Epic of Alexander's enrage attack, then just skip until basically the end of the update. You're not missing much.

The attack is called "Temporal Prison."

Temporal Prison spawns a bunch of "puddles" around the floor of the arena. Eight, to be precise; the same amount as the number of people in your party.

I'm not entirely sure if people have to manually take the puddles, or if it's like the Weapon's Refrain and people are automatically pulled into them.

That's besides the point though. When the time on the puddle runs out, whoever's inside it slowly has a cage put over them.

When the cage touches the ground, it is surrounded by chains, and becomes frozen in time. The person inside of it becomes afflicted by Temporal Displacement, a debuff which is a fancy way of explaining why they can no longer move or take any actions. The time freeze also affects any buffs your character has, and any states they're in—time no longer ticks down for both. Buffs stay at the duration they were at, states such as bard songs do not have their duration tick down, you get the idea.

Once all of your party members and yourself have been imprisoned, Alexander places a bunch more chains around the arena, and permanently freezes time inside of it, trapping you all inside one instance of time. For eternity.

Temporal Prison's obviously meant to be a bit upsetting and off-putting, for good reason, but it horrifies me on multiple levels, probably more than intended.

Mainly, my horror primarily comes from being reminded of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, and also my own brain's first idea as to what being frozen in time means from a perception perspective.

The way I saw it is basically eternally perceiving your final instant of time before everything stopped. The sounds loop, the sight never changes. Can't move, can't think. Just...stuck.

The thought of that horrifies me.

I mean, I'm not exactly a hard woman to scare. But still.

Oh look we're done. If that seemed like I skipped past a bunch of stuff: no I didn't. It's just time dilation, I swear.

Fuck this map, not for being bad (at least on Hard), but for being boring.

Keeping the town from being invaded for more than two turns or so gets you a Large Bullion. You always get a Seraph Robe.

We would've gotten another battalion if Alois was recruited. Doesn't matter, both the battalions you get from this mission are completely average D rank battalions.
♪ A Gentle Breeze ♪

It seems they caused the merchants unnecessary confusion by disguising themselves as Almyrans.
We taught the pirates a lesson though. That should calm them down a bit.

It was good training.

Thanks for your help. This can't be how you were expecting your day to go.
Patient and understanding, just like Captain Jeralt. We owe you a token of our appreciation, I think.

I can't accept this.
Take it. We'll collect our reward from the Eastern Church.
Besides, Alois could never keep it for himself.
Of course not! We knights serve as the sword and shield of Saint Seiros herself. We pride ourselves on our integrity! We reject all rewards that are not perfectly legitimate!
In other words, he's a coward who would feel guilty and lose sleep over it.
That's also one of his many merits.
Shamir, you don't mince words. Though it does seem like you've learned how to show a little respect.
Must've learned that from you.
I don't remember teaching you that. Anyway, Professor, keep the compensation. I'd say you've earned it.
Those merchants really needed your help. For all the buying and selling they do, they're not so good at trading blows!
Get it, "trading blows"? They... And merchants, they... Oh, forget it.
We have to prepare for our next mission. Until next time, Professor.

Ugh. What a pointless paralogue. The only good part of it was that awful-but-amazing dad joke from Alois.
♪ Learning Lesson ♪

Mercedes can now purge debuffs in an AoE around her. Yay.

Oh, hey, a special event day.
♪ Crowd noises ♪

Thank you for gathering here on the eve of the highly anticipated ball to bear witness to... The academy-wide dance competition! Welcome to the White Heron Cup! The competition will be judged by...me! Your humble servant, Alois Rangeld! And also... The acclaimed former songstress of the Mittelfrank Opera Company, Manuela Casagranda!
Yes, yes, thank you. Oh, and it should go without saying, but I swear to show no bias to my own house. Got it? Good.
Last but not least, the glamorous assassin who does all of her dancing in the dead of night...Shamir Nevrand!
The three of us swear on our honor to judge the following proceedings with utmost impartiality and fairness! And with that, will the representatives of each house please make their way to the stage!

Very well... BEGIN!
I think your opponents in the White Heron Cup are random, aside from if you've poached everyone from the Golden Deer House, in which case the game will be forced to field Claude. The Black Eagle and Blue Lion Houses will always at least be a random decision between the lord (Edelgard/Dimitri) and their retainer (Hubert/Dedue). It doesn't matter who you go up against, anyway; the only criteria for winning is the 13 Cha check, your opponents have no bearing on that.
♪ The White Heron Waltz ♪

♪ Bell ♪

♪ Crowd noises ♪

Oh my, let's see. I suppose I have no choice but to vote for...

Your performance was...exhilarating. My heart is still beating a mile a minute.
I vote for...

The way you carried yourself was striking.
Manuela and Shamir's votes are random, and has no relation to or bearing on whether you won or not—though, obviously, one of them will vote for your house. They also have three random comments they can say, and none of them are interesting enough for me to reproduce when I'm very tired.

And I will announce who it is...right now! Without any delay! The winner of this year's White Heron Cup is...

Heh heh heh! I knew I had it in me!
Every student has their own unique line for winning. Unlike Manuela and Shamir's lines, I've decided to put them here.
Well, a victory is a victory.

I am not sure the judges are in their right minds...

Haha! As expected of someone as accomplished as myself.

Oh? Well, just so long as nothing else is expected of me.

I won? I won! How did I win?!

Bernie? Are you sure? Heh...heh...

I wonder if I can use this to bolster my singing career...

Everywhere, dancing is dancing. This is the proof.

I won? There must be some mistake...

Is this a joke?


Are you sure this is OK?

Oh, really? How lovely!

I did it! Go me!

Oh. Um. Sorry. I really didn't see this coming.

Ah, what a burden to be great at everything.

Haha! As expected!

Me? Uh...really?

Can't say I had much confidence going in, but this is great!

Yes, it was the logical choice. My dancing was superior.

Oh dear... This is a bit embarrassing.

Perfect! Where's the prize? There is a prize, right?

I can dance? Huh!

Have I prevailed? Oh, most glorious! My practice was not in vain!
Once more, please give a big round of applause for our talented participants!

Exactly as planned.

I don't do anything, because I was tired and didn't feel like doing a tea party for a student who can't be in my house. We'll have plenty of time with Dimitri later.
♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

At time of writing, I am severely exhausted, so I'll save these supports for the beginning of the next update. It won't be a long one anyway, since I'm dedicating it entirely to the ball.

Next time...uh, the ball. Like I just said.

This update brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my LPs on Patreon:

Next Update
Previous Update
Table of Contents
Support the LPs on Patreon