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Fire Emblem: Three Houses (26th July 2019)

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On 03/05/2020 at 5:59 PM, drahkon said:

Feels like I'm doing this Fire Emblem-tactics-RPG-thing wrong. :D

Truth be told, a lot of SRPGs come down to preparation, raising units, and making builds. Classic Fire Emblem was different in that it gave you barely an opportunity (if any) to do any of that, but Three Houses changed the focus a lot towards the "build your units" side of things.

That said, these are early chapters, and they don't tend to have many side objectives (and the training maps certainly don't have any), such as securing chests/villages, defending NPCs, or meeting a turn limit.  It's these extra things that usually motivate a player to do better. I mean, in my first-ever Fire Emblem, I wasn't paying attention to stats, either, so this is normal.
(Battalions improve your stats at all times, btw. Exception given to Felix's personal skill)

Also, I'm surprised you dealt with Lonato so easily. One of his gambit uses really fucked me up and almost killed me. Had to improvise with a gambit of my own (one with a 50% chance of missing) to move him from his tile. And Miklan's increased crit and wandering AI was just devastating (see: my posts from a couple of pages back)

Out of curiosity, is Anette one of the arrogant pricks? :heh: if the Lions are holding you down maybe you could consider joining... a yellower House, perhaps? Or recruit Shamir/Catherine/Manuela, whatever floats your boat.

Edited by Jonnas
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7 hours ago, Jonnas said:

That said, these are early chapters, and they don't tend to have many side objectives (and the training maps certainly don't have any), such as securing chests/villages, defending NPCs, or meeting a turn limit.  It's these extra things that usually motivate a player to do better. I mean, in my first-ever Fire Emblem, I wasn't paying attention to stats, either, so this is normal.

Well, I did find chests and had to finish a mission within a turn limit but nothing really changed for me.

7 hours ago, Jonnas said:

Out of curiosity, is Anette one of the arrogant pricks? :heh:

No, she's actually one of the more likeable ones.

7 hours ago, Jonnas said:

if the Lions are holding you down maybe you could consider joining... a yellower House, perhaps?

They're not holding me down, they're just annoying :p And I talk to everyone during exploration so I know that all of the people in the monastery are pricks :D

 

I decided to copy my save file and turn down the difficulty to normal, given that Hard wasn't hard at all (and reading around the web it seems like it never will be).
I'm going to treat this game as a JRPG now for the Blue Lions playthrough (and probably more), i.e. I will grind and treat fights as "JRPG battles". I've played this way for about 90 minutes last night and immediately enjoyed it more.

It's probably not how you play Fire Emblem but if that's how I can enjoy it I'll gladly do it :)

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5 hours ago, drahkon said:

I will grind and treat fights as "JRPG battles". I've played this way for about 90 minutes last night and immediately enjoyed it more.

Yup. Total game changer. I am enjoying this 100% now.
I doubt I'd enjoy other Fire Emblem games if you aren't able to grind in them.

Anyways, just did an optional quest that focused on Dedue. I've come to like him more :D

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5 hours ago, drahkon said:

It's probably not how you play Fire Emblem but if that's how I can enjoy it I'll gladly do it :)

That's how I play the Fire Emblem games that do allow for that and I find it a much more enjoyable way to play than the standard method. It comes in handy when these game start throwing reinforcements at you out of it's backside. When you have been able to grind you can brush them aside very easily. Good times. Glad to see you are having fun with it now. Also, Dedue is great.

 

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12 hours ago, drahkon said:

It's probably not how you play Fire Emblem but if that's how I can enjoy it I'll gladly do it :)

Fair enough. This game takes a lot from Persona, anyway. If this rhythm relaxes you more, go for it.

(I was kidding about Anette. Of course she's great)

Also, something I forgot to mention:

12 hours ago, drahkon said:

[Miklan Chapter]

I actually love when games surprise me like this, as long as they don't destroy me in a turn (same-turn reinforcements can do that, and those can go eat dicks. But that chapter gave me a full free turn to adapt). Preparing for unexpected factors is part of the strategy. But I get it, different strokes.

Edited by Jonnas
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Three Houses doesn't really do a good job with character personalities outside of C+ and above supports or their paralogues. Every other time they hammer home their basic personal traits ("I like food", "outside is scary").

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23 hours ago, drahkon said:

It's probably not how you play Fire Emblem but if that's how I can enjoy it I'll gladly do it :)

Dude, that's the only way I can even stomach Fire Emblem.

Grind everyone until the point where I can get through a fight with no deaths.

Strategy? Nah! I just need to get stronger.

On an unrelated note, my favourite FE is Shadows of Valentia.

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Spent some more time with this today. 90% of that time was in battles to level up my group :D They are all around level 20, aside from Flayn who is at 16 for obvious reasons.

Funny how Ingrid was my weakest member 5 hours ago. Now she's a Pegasus Knight and wrecks pretty much everything by herself :laughing:
Dedue has evolved into an axe-swinging, shield-bearing tank. He also smiled...it was weird.
Anette is still the cutest. She's also capable of dealing lots of damage with her magic.
Felix is annoying as all hell but a strong swordsman.
Mercedes has an annoying voice but is kind of cool and she can heal...that's always a bonus. Oh, and she now holds an iron shield. I have absolutely no idea whether the "Weight -2" skill from Heavy Armour has any effect on her attacks...but I don't care. I'll keep rolling with it.
Sylvain and Dimitri now ride horses.
Ashe is just an archer ::shrug::D

They've grown on me. I love the support conversations and paralogues (as long as they aren't simply about the character's one quirk).
 

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That often happens in these games. Characters who start off weak end up being absolute beasts.

Yup. I also hated Mercedes voice. I was planning on having my character hook up with her but I just couldn't bring myself to do it due to her voice. :D 

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Picked up my Golden Deer Maddening Mode playthrough, apparently right before the Battle of the Eagle and Lion mock battle. I felt like the battle was on par with hard mode which was also difficult due to the other units being so much stronger. The Pegasus Knights that start nearby your position are really strong and can kill you in one round. I had to let Raphael and Hilda go down because I don't think I could have done it without losing a unit (it's a mock battle battle so you don't lose them anyway).

Tried the Tales of the Red Canyon paralogue because I wanted the gem even though I was under levelled and ended up getting a game over. I was really close to beating it but my units were just too worn down.

The auxiliary battles are really easy so it's a bit jarring playing a story mission and the difficulty is higher for them.

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1 hour ago, Ike said:

Tried the Tales of the Red Canyon paralogue because I wanted the gem even though I was under levelled and ended up getting a game over. I was really close to beating it but my units were just too worn down.

That was one of the first levels to give me trouble I think, though I think I was playing normal. Took me a while to learn how to protect the weaker units from the flying monsters.

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Now that I buckled up and made significant progress in the game for a change, I finally reached the timeskip after 100+ hours. Don't judge :heh: I figured I'd give my immediate thoughts:

Spoiler

After the Flame Emperor's reveal, the game really upped its presentation and dramatic stakes. The build-up towards Edelgard's invasion was eerie and dread-filled, and I loved it. It also hammered home just how much Claude and the Golden Deer are out of the loop, with Dimitri fuming with rage over a grudge I hadn't heard about before (Dedue only dropped a hint regarding the Duscur tragedy), and Edelgard having motivations I don't quite realise yet (Ferdinand described the ministers from the empire, and that's the first time I was hearing any of it). Claude spent so much time investigating Rhea and Jeralt, my House is now clueless about the main conflict.

I did like Hilda saying "Edelgard is scary, and Dimitri is ripping at the seams. I wouldn't bend the knee to either of them... Thinking about it, Claude can become a good leader, and I'm happy to follow him". Felt like a genuine leap of character development for her, as I knew she's way smarter than she looks, but this is the first time she actually pondered politics, and her role in the world.

Then the 5-year coma happens, and Claude hasn't missed a beat, though I notice his demeanour is warmer and more trusting. His changes have been gradual and subtle, and I like it. We go bandit-killing in one of the best chapters in FE history (dear lord, Chasing Daybreak is so good in its proper context), and I see subtle changes in everybody (Lorenz is more pro-active, Ignatz is more confident, and Marianne feels a lot more hopeful these days. Even Lysithea chilled down). I think I finally see the underlying theme of the Golden Deer: these were all strangers from different places, regions, states and walks of life, and now here they are looking beyond their differences, finding common cause, and reuniting as a team. Lines up perfectly with what Claude said about wanting people to see beyond borders, lines, and prejudices, and learn to accept one another.

Politically, I see Claude putting his brain to use. Like, I expected a civil war like in Lycia, but instead he's managing domestic tensions and nipping inner conflict in the bud, in the calmest way possible ("Yes, Lorenz, I know your father is aligned with the Empire and threatening instability, that's the logical move to take, of course. But it's just an impasse, and we can work around that, we're fine"). After the nonsense with Awakening's stupid depiction of blackmail, it's nice to see a political plot with genuine cleverness.

By the way, I gave up on recruiting Felix several chapters ago (since he was so hard to court)... but in the very last week before the timeskip, he actually came up to me to ask me to join my House at the last minute! Now that it's after the timeskip, he's the only Blue Lion in the monastery, and it seems he ran away from home. Damn, he feels like a totally new character that way.

Then we defend the monastery in what I thought was a predictable chapter... only to A. See how much the landscape changed; and B. See Claude having the balls to set an army on fire. Holy shit, that was great. It's like every chapter brings something great to the table now.

I'm now in the Valley of Torment and... I see Ashe. I had a C-Support with him, but I think that wasn't enough. We'll see.

Honestly, I feel like I can finish this by the end of the year, now that the plot picked up so much. Things went from slow and okay to great all of a sudden.

Edited by Jonnas

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Right, so I should post some specific opinions I had about the rest of my playthrough:
 

Spoiler

So, the chapter with Ashe... I spared him, actually! I successfully used Seteth as bait to lure him away from the main conflict (calculated risk, Seteth could take one non-crit arrow... from a Killer Bow), and focused entirely on reaching Gwendal. It was a very close call, but Ashe didn't die, and that made the chapter very exciting. The map design included the one guest appearance from Judith, in the one place I didn't need her. One of those silly design choices.

Taking the bridge was sombre. I happened to have Dorothea attack Ferdinand, and that dialogue hit harder after half a game of Ferdinand von Aegir smiling in the monastery. My first impression of him was that he was designed to resemble Camus. So I guess I called it.

Gronder Field II was rough. Goddammit Dimitri, kill yourself pointlessly if you must, but don't send Sylvain and Ingrid to attack the wrong army! I couldn't spare them despite gunning so hard for Edelgard, and I think those deaths hit me the hardest. I think Dimitri dying pathetically off screen was a pretty bold move.

The ballistic missiles surprised me, that's not a weapon I expected to see in my Fire Emblem. Extra tragic, since I tried to spare Caspar and Linhardt by going for a quick bosskill... but I think they died in the nuke (I also think the game expected me to drag the match while Death Knight escaped on his own, but nope, I wasn't having it). The taking of Enbarr was likely the hardest chapter in the game, it featured the one place with somewhat traditional FE villages/towns (Manuela&Dorothea can visit the Opera House. Seteth&Flayn can visit the church), and I got some handy battalions out of it. I then killed Edelgard in one turn (warp strats!) because I wanted to spare Petra. Apparently I saved Dedue's life this way too, he was supposed to appear here, I hear.

Shambhala was friggin' rad. I had heard the dubstep track before, but hearing it while fighting robots was cool as hell. Between those, the laser turrets, and Thales' Quake magic, I ended up liking this chapter a lot more than I expected.

The fight with Nemesis was... actually pretty disappointing. Seriously, God-Shattering Star was the main thing salvaging it, because between the 10 Elites that don't talk, a swamp whose menace is undercut by an enemy killing himself on it (seriously, what was that? What a mood-killer!), the chests that somehow made it to the final bloody map. and the fact that Nemesis himself had little build-up as a villain... yeah, wasn't feeling the final fight vibes. The song was the only thing doing it for me.

The fight itself was fine, with Nemesis being an extra sturdy motherfucker who could one-round even Raphael, and healed 80% of his own health every turn. Good challenge, despite everything. Plus, the final cutscene was absolutely fantastic

 

Spoiler

So, the rest of the campaign against Edelgard went off pretty well, save for Dimitri ramming into spears. I really liked that ingenious plan to take Fort Merceus, though I'm unsure if this is where the Almyrans would be best applied. Wouldn't it be better to use them to take Enbarr? Especially since it's so hard to justify them escaping the missiles... Ah well.

We then shift focus entirely towards the Agarthans, and let me tell you: Cherami Leigh is a friggin' fantastic voice actor. Damn, Rhea felt like she was about to keel over at any moment, even when she was properly dressed. Kudos for that performance. From a plot standpoint, I was just ecstatic that Claude was all "Yeah, yeah, you'll get rest, but we need answer NOW!".

Speaking of that, while Claude's route ending with Nemesis sounds anticlimactic... I think there could be something there. If, throughout the academy phase, Claude had theorized a lot about Nemesis and why Seteth/Rhea were hiding information, it would be interesting if he had started to sympathise with him, show some understanding to the evil king of liberation. Then, when the truth comes out, he could've realised how foolish he was to praise an historical figure he knew nothing about just because he was feeling anti-church at one point. And whatever similarities he may have seen between him and Nemesis could be discussed in the final fight proper (the "Cowards!" line from Nemesis already shows shades of this. I love Claude's response "Yeah we are, so fuckin' what? That's why we're better than you!")

As it stands, it does feel empty. I think one more chapter focusing on Agarthans, properly building up the final battle, would've done wonders. (And also, don't have an enemy from the final battle, implied to be a toxic zombie army, die to a dingy swamp. Seriously, what a dumb thing to have in the final battle, of all places)

I also would've liked to see more of Almyra. To be honest, I really wanted a Fire Emblem with a middle eastern setting, and Three Houses was almost there! I want the next FE game to be something like "Almyra 1160", tell us how Claude's parents met. A new setting could work, but man, Almyra's right there, filled to the brim with potential.

 

Spoiler

In the end, the Golden Deer really evolved into their own. Lorenz learned to be a better person, Hilda grew into a responsible general (how clever, to have her running the monastery), Marianne's growth is subtle beyond belief and her paralogue was one of my favourites, Lysithea finally chilled out, Ignatz feels like a real-life rich nerd in many respects, Leonie and Raphael didn't change much, but they really didn't need to, considering they're good "anchors" towards other characters. And of course, Claude went from being a smart-ass who kept everybody else at arm's length, to a smart-ass who actually found it in himself to trust other people with secrets he's insecure about.

The church folk were okay, but I'd like to show appreciation for Seteth (who turned out to be one of my favourite characters), Flayn (who's adorable), Cyril and Shamir (people who'd fit the Golden Deer like a glove). I was actually fairly close with pairing Shamir with Claude, but I eventually decided against it. I looked up their ending, and sadly, they don't end up together.

From other houses, Felix was in an interesting spot: he actually disinherited himself to join me, that's fascinating. It feels like this is what he wanted to do anyway, so I wonder how his development goes in the Blue Lions route. I also wonder if other characters go through this as well (Ferdinand or Sylvain, maybe?). As for Dorothea, she was great, definitely the person most changed by the war. She was just sadness all around... I wonder if she'd be a good Fado singer.

Support-wise... I think there should be a harder line between pre-timeskip supports, and post-timeskip supports. Characters like Marianne, Lorenz, and Dorothea change a lot, and it's jarring to see them acting like their old selves when I unlock a new C-support. Like in the Hilda/Seteth support, where Hilda acts like her lazy self during C and B, but she much more clearly sounds like her older self in the A support. Another thing I found jarring was how a lot of A supports feel like love declarations, despite each character having several in one playthrough. Cyril/Shamir and Hanneman/Dorothea were particularly obvious examples of this. I get why it happens, it's just... so weird.

As for the pairings I got:

  • Claude/Hilda - A lot of chemistry between them. Plus, they already feel like the mum and dad of Golden Deer, anyway;
  • Lorenz/Marianne - This one was really good, and believable character progression for both of them. Plus, since I built this one a lot by having them both on stable duty, it was hilarious that they revolutionised animal husbandry together :laughing: ;
  • Ignatz/Raphael - Ignatz has a lot of good pairings, but I wanted the best buds stay best buds. I predicted he'd marry Maya, and thankfully, that was exactly it;
  • Lysithea/Cyril - If you haven't checked their supports, you should. it's the most adorable thing;
  • Leonie/Seteth - The most bizarre pairing I went for, but I really liked how they gelled together. And the ending has them marry after retirement, that's really nice;
  • Catherine/Shamir - That A support was lesbian as heck, wasn't it? I thought so, so I'm glad I could pair the red&green duo from this game;
  • Manuela/Hanneman - I thought Manuela deserved better, but she ended up getting the scraps, I suppose. Not too bad, though;
  • Felix/Flayn - This one I got by accident. It's a sweet ending regardless, and I choose to believe it's non-romantic;
  • Byleth/Dorothea - Well yeah, she's the best girl. Byleth's supports aren't very good as a rule, but the ones with Dorothea (and admittedly, Marianne) actually shine.

All in all, I'm happy for all of these endings. Glad I didn't get any of the unsatisfying ones, like Claude/Shamir.

 

So yeah. I feel like I didn't mention everything (lots of details to this game), but it's good to let these thoughts off my chest.

Edited by Jonnas

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With Three Hopes being announced, I finally got into gear to finish my Golden Deer/Verdant Wind maddening playthrough.

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The reward is kinda lame.

Took 101 hours according to the in-game timer but it was probably more. My first playthrough was 71 hours for Crimson Flower hard mode.

Maddening starts off super difficult, but it evens off a bit later on. Chapter 14 in particular was, well... maddening with it's infinite enemy reinforcements. poor Hilda had to tank a lot of hits so the other could pick them off during the player phase, but it meant I had to turtle up at the start of the map. The terrain helped with enemy units that start nearby, but I was pretty much stuck to the start position. You have to protect a single green unit who appears at the North East of the map who will trigger a Secret Scheme™ if you guide them to a specific spot which will cause the enemy to start retreating giving you a chance to push forward. A lot of enemies drop some good items so you want to try and kill them. I almost did where the green unit died, but Byleth got in a spot I couldn't escape from.

Chapter 13 was also tough as you start with only Byleth and Claude, and you don't any battle preps so you only have what you ended the last chapter with (apart from Claude who gets a couple of new toys). I thought I had finally cleared the map, and then I scrolled right and saw there was anther half of the map to go. :( The second half wasn't as bad though.

Maddening made me appreciate gambits a lot more. There ability to stop enemies was moving is very useful. Speaking of gambits, Falcon Knight Leonie + Alert Stance+ + Retribution is broken. Retribution gambit grants the Counterattack ability which allows you to as the name implies, counter attack but you can do so from any range. Annoying when the enemy has it, amazing when you have it. There's a chapter where you need to move a unit to specific spots to stop reinforcement. Leonie was able to fly around the map and either dodge physical attacks and/or take very little magic damage and able to kill on the counter attack. Also useful for long range spells (she killed Hubert this way). Sadly doesn't work ballistae though.

Battle data screens are in the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

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I'm probably going to NG+ Azure Moons and I want to play the DLC story, but I think I'm going to take a break and play Kirby first. Although I doubt I'll finish that before Three Hopes.

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