Update 82: Baelsar's Brick Wall

♪ Life at Garreg Mach Monastery ♪

It is a noble mission, but one that will likely require battle. In practice, there is little difference between a battle and a war. Even with the support of the Knights of Seiros, we must still brace ourselves for the challenge.

♪ A Lonely Figure ♪

I found a talisman in the Holy Tomb. Ashe gets it, in case he has to attack magic users at 2 range for whatever reason.
♪ Life at Garreg Mach Monastery ♪

Lookie, our first support! I'm sure this'll go well.

Dedue/Ingrid C.
♪ Calm Winds Over Gentle Waters ♪

...I'd have cut my way through. Alone. Without your assistance.
My apologies.
Your apologies are empty.
I... I spoke out of turn. I'm sorry, Dedue.
His Highness has put his faith in you. You're a valuable comrade, no matter my feelings.
I... The people of Duscur...
Save your breath. There were countless people like you in the capital. People who spat, threw things—insults and stones alike—whenever they pleased. Their anger was natural. I do not begrudge them.
I... I see.
You owe me no apology. And I will keep my distance on all other occasions. But on the field of battle, allow me to aid you. If you were to fall, His Highness would grieve.
I see. Then I will accept your help. On the battlefield.

♪ Life at Garreg Mach Monastery ♪

Oh, good, that bodes well for Ingrid's character. Bodes very well. No bad signs here, nope nope.

I lost my own brother to bandits...
...Is something someone has said at some point, I'm sure. OK. Not my finest attempt at humor.
Ah, Sylvain...

Anyway, here's a feature I used maybe once or twice in previous playthroughs: cooking together! You can spend one activity point per exploration day to give all of your units a stat buff for the rest of the month.

If you're playing on Maddening, I highly, highly advise you cook every week. These stat buffs are invaluable, even at endgame. These increased stats aren't just for mitigating increased enemy stats, they can also help compensate for the fact that, on the whole, your units are missing around 10 levels at endgame, compared to lower difficulties.

Here's the full menu for cooking together:

All of my advice there is to say "don't do what I did here," which is opt for the +3 max HP food. +1 Def is considerably more valuable than +3 max HP.
♪ Words to Believe In ♪

Huh! So Constance and Mercedes are already close, eh?
♪ Life at Garreg Mach Monastery ♪

I'm buying Reason S for Constance and Hapi already. Excessive? Maybe. Unjustified? Hell no, this is Maddening.

Leonie gets an immediate Riding A+...

Dorothea gets an immediate Faith C so I don't have to bother with fixing her weakness in it...

And Bernie also gets an immediate Riding A+.

Also, we've got some supports, because C ranks do not take much to trigger.

Dimitri/Dedue C.
♪ Calm Winds Over Gentle Waters ♪

I'm off to the library for a bit of research before I train. After that, a bath and bed.
Very well. I shall accompany you.
Ah, no, there's no need for that. I am a grown man, after all.
You sustained an injury during yesterday's training. My presence may be of use to you.
It was a mere bruise that will heal in no time. No need to fret over me, Dedue.
Are you dissatisfied with me, Your Highness? Please do not hesitate to correct me.
And there it is again.
Yes? What is it?
Well... You often choose to address me as "Your Highness." When we first met, you used to call me by my name.
That was because I was unfamiliar with Fódlan speech. Thinking back, such rude manners were inexcusable.
To be honest, I much preferred it. I feel more comfortable being addressed by my name, rather than with the honorifics that go along with being a prince.
I did not teach you to read and write so that you'd know how to address me properly. And I brought you to the academy as my friend, not a vassal.
But Your Highness, a vassal is precisely what I am.
So much has happened since we met, yet we cannot seem to bridge this gap...
So be it. I give you leave to return to your quarters. Take an early night and reflect on what I've said. Please.
I couldn't possibly. I said I would accompany you, did I not?
True, but I would much prefer that we take steps to ease this mindset of yours...

♪ Life at Garreg Mach Monastery ♪

Yep, there it is. And it goes all the way to A, too! Fun fact, despite Mercedes being one of the five gay options for feminine Byleths (Edelgard, Dorothea, Mercedes, Rhea, Sothis), in the base game, she only has three supports with other women, not counting feminine Byleth (Annette, Ingrid, and Hilda). Of those, only Annette goes up to A. Now that we've got the DLC, one of the bi women has two A ranks with other women!

Man I wish this game was better about gayness. I know I said not to debate that in the thread, and I stand by it, but sometimes my saltiness seeps out a bit.

Oh, right, Mercedes/Constance C.
♪ A Gentle Breeze ♪

Yes, and here we are! You were so small when I saw you last. How you've grown.
I cannot express how worried I was to hear that you had left House Bartels. I was turned away any time I asked about you, and of course Emile would never tell me anything.
I'm sorry. There was so much going on in House Bartels back then...
But enough about all that. How are you, Constance? I hear you've had hardships of your own.
Indeed. House Nuvelle is no more, and I went alone to the school of sorcery.
Oh! You went to the Royal School of Sorcery?
Just before I began at the Officers Academy, I was studying there as well.
You were?! It must have been after my graduation in 1177...
That was the year I enrolled. We probably just missed each other.
No! You mean to say that if I had stayed a trifle longer, we could have been reunited sooner?
It seems so. Haha! Ah, dear Constance. When we were little, I thought of you as my little sister. But now that you've grown up, I think our roles might be reversed! I'll be looking up to you now, and maybe even asking for your help sometimes.
You'd ask for my help? I never thought I'd see the day!
And yet you are seeing it. You know, I had another friend at the school. Her name is Annie. Why don't we all have some tea together? I'm sure you two would really hit it off.
You must mean Annette. Yes, I would welcome the chance to have a long chat with her.
Haha! Oh, I have an idea! How about we have a cup of tea together and chat about old times?
I accept, naturally!

Oh, no need to rush! The tea isn't going anywhere.
Don't be ridiculous! Time is always of the essence. Why put off for later what I... I could...
Constance? I wonder what's the matter.

♪ Funny Footsteps ♪

What do you mean?
Why sit with me when you could share your teatime with someone else? I shall instead stand and serve the tea. Though if my presence still proves to be a burden...
Goodness, of course it isn't! Are you feeling all right?
My feelings are immaterial. Pardon me while I fetch the tea leaves at once.
Until a moment ago, everything seemed all right. Why did she change so suddenly? I'll have to ask her what's going on.

♪ Life at Garreg Mach Monastery ♪

I could've done without the use of Funny Footsteps, personally.
♪ No music ♪

Instructing Dedue triggered this.

Adan/Dedue C.
♪ Respite and Sunlight ♪

Did you want something?
Just to look at the flowers.
I see. If you have the time, then please assist me. I am to water the flowers in the greenhouse.
Adan nods.
Thank you. Only do not water the ones in that corner.
What kind of flowers are those?
They are from Duscur. They require a dry environment. The roots will rot otherwise.
They're beautiful.
Yes, they are.
I owe you a debt of gratitude. In both the extracurricular activities here at the academy, and on the battlefield... Your presence has been instrumental in the defense of His Highness. You have my sincerest thanks.
Think nothing of it.
I see. To me, it is not nothing...
Was there something else you wanted?
No, that's all.
Then please, excuse me.

(He's difficult to hold a conversation with...)

♪ No music ♪

That's a rarity, Adan talking to himself outside of system text or the prologue.
♪ Corridor of the Tempest ♪

And then I had the mandatory auxiliary battles.


Nah, I won't complain about that.

Full right-side levels aren't as fun as full left-side levels.



I did the battle multiple times, because that's a thing you can do on New Game+.


Not the best of starts, but it's not disastrous either.

She's gonna be a dancer anyway.
♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

Ooh, neat.

Dimitri/Felix C.
♪ Calm Winds Over Gentle Waters ♪

Go away. Just looking at your face makes me wanna retch.
Heh. With that mouth of yours, you grow more like your brother every day.
Shut up. And stop walking around on your hind legs. You're not fooling me.
I cannot fathom why you seem to hate me so.
Because I know what you really are—a beast, craving blood.
A beast craving blood, am I? I assume you're speaking of the events two years ago. Last time we met outside the academy?
I am.
The way you suppressed that rebellion... It was ruthless slaughter and you loved every second. I remember the way you killed your victims. How you watched them suffer. And your face...that expression. All the world's evil packed into it.
That was our first battle. I remember it vividly.
Oh, something wrong? Go ahead and deny it, you wild boar.
I deny nothing, Felix.
Well then. I suppose the Dimitri I once knew died during that slaughter in Duscur, along with my brother.
Perhaps you're right.
Hmph. Hurry up and get out of my sight. I don't make a habit of talking to beasts.

♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

So that's what the "boar prince" shit is about.

Dedue/Annette C.
♪ Respite and Sunlight ♪

Dedue! Well, as you can see...the pan kind of...exploded. Just a little.
How did you manage that?
I looked away for a moment and the pan just went BOOM! Ugh, I'm grateful nothing caught fire, but now the kitchen is a mess.
Are you hurt?
Oh, no. I just got a little spooked.
Heh, I really lucked out, didn't I? That could have turned out much worse.
Indeed. But do not turn your back next time. Your life could depend on it.
Right. Sorry. I'll be more careful from now on.
Let me help you.
I will help you clean up.
No! I can't let you do that! This is all my fault. You shouldn't have to help me.
I have time. Let us fix this quickly. We will need to prepare more food before the others arrive at the dining hall.
Oh, you're right. So, after we clean up, you're also gonna...help me cook?
You object?
Of course not! I'm just so sorry to bother you with this.

♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

I like Dedue.

Sylvain/Ashe C.
♪ Respite and Sunlight ♪

It's just my daily training. Maybe you could stand to be a little more eager yourself?
If I want to be a great knight, I've got no choice but to put the effort in.
No choice? I think you're making life too difficult. Knights don't have to be perfect. All I'm saying is I've seen some pretty sloppy knights out there.
That's not going to be me. I'm going to be a proud knight—virtuous and gallant!
Virtuous and gallant? Are you kidding me? If you just ride around being virtuous, people will get fed up. They'll boot you out of town.
It's never wrong to have virtue. Not even if it means being made an outcast.
Interesting idea. You think very highly of this whole virtue thing. Say, have there been any knights who became great just by thinking highly of themselves? Think on this—knights are supposed to protect people and earn their admiration. Isn't that right?
Well, yes. So, what are you saying I should do?
Seize people's hearts!
What do you mean?
You want people to love you? Offer them something they haven't got. Guess what that is? It's you, Ashe. They don't have you!
Get out there, buddy. Be valiant. Help people. Here. I'll show you how it works.

Ah, Sylvain! Don't go bothering people!
Hey there, cutie! You seem to have lots of bags there. They must be heavy.
My name's Sylvain. Let me help you out. Are these going in the warehouse?
Helping out those in need. I guess that's a good start.
No thanks necessary! It's been enough just to be able to talk to you.
Well, if you insist, how about we go get some tea? It must be fate that we met like this... I'd like to get to know you.
Great knight, huh? More like a great philanderer.
Seems like all he wants to do is flirt with women.
No, I can't allow this. I have to stop him!

♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

Ingrid/Yuri C.
♪ Respite and Sunlight ♪

Yuri! I could ask you the same...
I'm just out to send a little money to my family. Gotta help however I can, you know?
Aww... That's very nice of you. Forgive my tone earlier. You truly set a noble example.
Right, right. Anyhow, looked like I interrupted you. You nearly choked on that wad of meat you were gnawing on.
Uh, right. That...that is true, I suppose. Hmm... You know... I... Um...
What is it you're mumbling about?
Oh, uh...nothing. Anyway, you once worked for House Rowe, didn't you?
Four years ago, when I visited Count Rowe at his castle, I swore I saw you by his side...
Quite the sharp memory you have.
You aren't mistaken. I was staying there then, yes. I had been adopted by the count.
Oh? Come to think of it, I thought I'd heard something like that. That the count had adopted a distant relative of his, a young man whose future was both bright and promising. So...that was you?
Yep. Although now I'm nothing more than a distant stranger to him. Our ties were severed a while ago.
He helped me out by getting me into the academy. It wasn't long after that that we started having all sorts of...disagreements.
What the hell were you doing visiting House Rowe, anyhow?
Ah, yes...that. How to put it. It was to help...clean up after a friend.
Ah, you speak of Sylvain. Mm-hmm, that must've been quite the mess you were cleaning up. Back to the point—what are you doing out here? Do you frequent this area often?
Mind your business, won't you? I just like to go for walks—get fresh air. That sort of thing.
Easy now. I'm not interrogating you. Really, I just wanted to warn you that it isn't so safe here in the evenings. You'll want to be on your guard.
I thank you for your concern, but I assure you I can handle myself.
Noted. Oh yeah, the innkeeper also wanted me to thank you.
He wanted to thank you for being such an enthusiast for the food he sells. Seemed pretty happy about it.
Is that so? How very... Hm.
Well, I'd better be off!

Seems she doesn't want anyone seeing her with a face full of food. Too late.

♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

♪ No music ♪

What an eventful month.
♪ Tactics ♪

Just as planned. They're in Zanado, the Red Canyon.
We certainly can't allow those underhanded thieves to get away. Let's work together and do our best to take them down!
It matters not who we're up against. They will not harm His Highness.
Hmph. We're just fighting common thieves, right? I don't expect much of a challenge.
Aren't you a spoilsport. I'm actually quite excited myself. Who knows... There may even be some cute lady thieves.
Hmm. Well, at any rate, a real battle is a great opportunity for us to see how far we've come.
True. The mock battle was a success. We'll be fine so long as we stay the course.
I hope everything turns out all right.
All should be well. Ah! And speaking of the knights, I heard that Jeralt is once again one of the Knights of Seiros. Perhaps we'll have the good fortune of seeing you two fight side by side.
We've fought together many times.
In all honesty, I'm a bit jealous. My parents are no longer around.
No longer around?
They...they died. Both of them. I'm all that remains of them now...
Anyhow. I'm sorry to bore you with such things. I'd say it's nearly time for us to depart. Eh, Professor?

♪ As Swift as Wind ♪

Hoo boy. Chapter 2 on Maddening is not fun.

Priests and bishops on Maddening have Renewal for their global ability.

Renewal: Unit recovers up to 20% of max HP at the start of each turn.

Thematic, yes. Useful, not really.

Thieves and assassins have Pass for their global ability.

Pass: Allows unit to pass through spaces occupied by foes.

Do not underestimate enemies with Pass. Especially on maps that naturally encourage you to use your units for chokepoints, Pass can just utterly fuck your battle plan up.

Also, 14 AS on Chapter fucking 2, gimme a break.

Archers, snipers, and bow knights have Poison Strike for their global ability.

Poison Strike: If unit initiates combat and lands a hit, targeted foe loses up to 20% of max HP after combat.

One of the more intensely annoying Maddening ability additions. It's bad enough that your units can get hit from outside of counterattack range, it's doubly bad enough that even your most durable units will get 20% of their max HP sapped.

The weapon type-focused classes, for lack of a better term, i.e. brigands/warriors, mercenaries/swordmasters, cavaliers/paladins, have the enemy-only weapon triangle abilities for their weapon.

Swordbreaker+: Grants Hit/Avo +30 when using a lance against sword users.
Lancebreaker+: Grants Hit/Avo +30 when using an axe against lance users.
Axebreaker+: Grants Hit/Avo +30 when using a sword against axe users.

In this case, this brigand has Lancebreaker+. In effect, these enemy classes re-introduce the weapon triangle to the game; gotta be careful when deciding what units you send out to bait certain enemies.

Level fucking 11? Give me a break, I'm working with level 3 units at best right now!

Kostas has no added abilities, and he even has a lower prowess level than some of his flunkies, which is funny, but his stats have been buffed pretty considerably; most notably, he has +7 max HP, +5 Def, and +5 Cha compared to Hard. His AI is also changed, too—he will move if either he or the archer and/or fighter south of him are provoked. He also checks his entire movement + attack range for player units, instead of just his attack range. This is a common AI change throughout Maddening.

I'm mostly taking along units that need levels. The units I've already recruited have hit level 3, so they can hang back for a bit. The Ashen Wolves will get a bit of EXP and class mastery as adjutants, at least.

I spend some money on iron bows for a few of my melee units. Even if you don't plan on having a unit use bows long-term, trust me, you want bows as a backup early on in Maddening.

Well, this isn't gonna be fun, but let's do it anyways.
♪ No music ♪

Let's get this battle out of the way, Professor. The thieves must have already been driven back.

♪ Dark Clouds Gather ♪

Shut your dumb mouth! Where would we go at this point? You can't be a thief if you fear death!

♪ Dwellings of the Ancient Gods ♪

If we advance cleverly, we attack from both sides and gain the advantage. I'll leave the rest to you, Professor. But before all else, we'll need to cross the bridge.

Checking the map, there's two extra axe users on the western side of the central area, plus another new axe user to the south of Kostas.

Early Dedue.jpg.

Even enemy axe users can double us, cripes.

You might think, "oh, sweet, no damage," but...

Fuckin' Poison Strike. Cannot overstate how much I loathe earlygame enemy archers on Maddening.

I did it! See? I'm a great fighter!
Ingrid and ashe soften that fighter up, and Annette finishes him off.

Adan's functioning wonderfully as a "soften-enemies-up" button.

I had to do it. Don't hate me, please.
Sylvain gets to take the kill that Adan set up.


Right, yeah, how about you take the kill, Mercie?

I hope the goddess blesses them to rest in peace...

Letting Dedue deal with drawing out enemies is how a majority of the earlygame will go.

Adan will help.

I hate Poison Strike.

I can't relax here. We need to prepare for our next battle!
Ingrid's able to take out the archer, and receives an adequate level in return.

Dedue's pretty decent at softening people up early on, as well.

I know they are just thieves, but this never gets easier for me...

I have Annette use Assault Troop to soften this thief up.

Mercedes gets a bad level from healing.


I just moved everyone up and positioned Felix and Dedue to act as bait.

Got quite a few threats to deal with, and not much space to safely do it.

Ingrid's able to hold these two in place, at least.

Mercedes can deal a surprising amount of damage to the enemies here, by which I mean "she can deal double-digit damage."

With that softening-up from Annette, Ashe is able to get a kill.

I also opt to let Sylvain get that kill, instead of Felix.

Still whole and sound, I hope...
Since I'll be relying on Dedue for a bit, I let him take the kill.

It didn't pay off.

Hey, look, Annette got the first crit of the game.

This guy is unhelpfully stuck on an Avo-boosting terrain type. Thankfully, magic ignores that!

The +3 Hit that Ingrid gets from Mercedes being in range of the guy helps her get the kill.

Sylvain and Ashe work to take down the priest, and Sylvain...doesn't disappoint me! Wow.

The next enemy phase was just the three dorks near the top of the screen moving up.

Thank you three for making it easy to Assault Troop you.

Reasonable. My dark secret is that I actually don't really care about Mercedes's levels, because no matter what, she'll probably end up being taken to most maps anyways, because Restore + Physic + Fortify is too good to pass up.

Dedue will bait out the brigand.

You see how hard these guys are hitting Dedue, who has pretty substantial Prt for this early in the game.

Ingrid gets a mediocre level from killing one of the dinguses who got locked down by Adan. The DLC Str booster will help cushion her low Str growth, but she does need to actually hit it before long.

A mediocre start for Yuri.

If you're just gonna stand there menacingly, then I'm gonna hit you.

Constance gets some EXP from Mercedes healing, and gets off to a good start!

Ready or not!

Thank you, Annette.

Okay, Adan is in the danger zone now.

And this other archer is on the move.

Skipping ahead a bit...

I have Ingrid finish off the eastern archer.

Felix softens up the western archer.

The one nice part about enemy archers is that, even on Maddening, their accuracy still suffers badly from attacking at greater than 2 range.

Okay, don't know why you hit Mag there, but Spd and Def isn't awful, I guess.

Ow ow ow ow ow!

By the way, the red area is Kostas's move + attack range. Again, notice how he uses all of it, rather than just aggroing on units in his melee range, like on lower difficulties.

Finished already? I was hoping for more of a challenge.

Dedue your thing, Dedue.

I'm not sorry.

Meanwhile, Ashe was off over here, grabbing the large bullion.

Hm. Can't get in melee range of that archer without provoking Kostas.

Fuck it, I'll rip the bandaid off.

This isn't gonna be pretty.

Mercifully, I realized that, with a Rally Strength from Annette, Felix is able to just barely kill the archer.

Annette might not be the best unit, but having Rally Strength for free, and Rally Speed for basically free, is a powerful tool in the Maddening earlygame.

Felix's near-death experience is rewarded with an excellent level.

♪ Wrath Strike ♪

I thought better of having Sylvain provoke Kostas, and sent Dedue in instead.

Unfortunately for you, I will not oblige. You will regret all that you have done.

For all of the buffs Kostas gets on Maddening, he still can't deal with being attacked at range.

Mercedes doesn't get a great level off that, but the important part is that she hit level 5, letting her finally be free of having her magic uses halved. If you're wondering why I was feeding her a lot of EXP, that's why.
♪ No music ♪

You led us well, Professor.

Phew. That map isn't as bad as Chapter 3, but it's still a major early roadblock for Maddening. I'm glad to be done with it.
♪ Calm Winds Over Gentle Waters ♪

Huh... Edelgard.

You can never dismiss the possibility of the worst case scenario. Take care, Edelgard.
There's no need to state the obvious, Dimitri. But tell me... Why the concern? Perhaps you doubt my abilities? If so, your lack of insight is disappointing.
That's...not what I meant. If I've offended you, I hope you'll accept my apology.
Don't worry about it. Professor, we must hurry. Everyone's waiting on you.
I suppose I should be off too. Try not to let her get to you, Dimitri. I promise you, there's no need for concern.

Why are you so worried?
I'll tell you all about it...some other time.

Next time: Chapter goddamn 3. Ugh.

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