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Chapter 8 - I Hate Flip-Flops

And here we are once again at another harrowing episode of our Tactics Ogre campaign. LISTEN UP, because this is an important one: we have reached the end of another chapter in the game and are asked a question, we must make a choice and the choice will decide where we go from here.


The Choice:
If you want full context, please read the Quick Summary and Full Story sections below. The choice is simple: do we rejoin Leonard and Walstanian Army to fight back the Bacrum and Dark Knights or do we stick to our guns and continue rebelling? Please send your choices to me via chat or email. Below I'll quickly outline some reasons to make each choice.

Quick Summary:
In Rime, the Dark Knights attacked and were slowed down by the Zenobian Knights. In the confusion, Zapan kidnapped Kachua and bade us travel to Armorika Castle to rescue her. It's obviously a trap, but how could we just stand by and leave Denim's not-crazy-definitely-not-a-huge-bitch sister in the care of a nasty, horny Berserker? So we travel there, on the way defeating a summoner. At Armorika we have a tough fight, but ultimately force Zapan to retreat within the castle. He's slain by Vice, who decides to have a one-on-one brawl with Denim. Before they can end their duel, Leonard comes in with horrible news: Bacrum is attacking Walsta! He gives Denim an opportunity; he asks Denim to rejoin him and help fight back the Dark Knights, in return Denim will no longer be a fugitive. Vice is not happy about this, just seconds ago he was attempting to rip his former best friend's head off. But Denim isn't a simple man, he must decide whether or not his ideals are more important than Walsta's future.

The Army
We've been training: we're now all mostly level 15 to meet the enemy levels. I smell some advanced classes coming in a level or two for most of us. Josh, Peter, Logan, and Dylan will definitely hit their target and Jay is not far off either. Hopefully their attribute growth hits high marks. Something came to my attention while I was leveling: stat growth isn't static. Each unit has a potential growth in all attributes, but it can deviate from -1 to +1. So it explains why some attributes are lower or higher than I expected.

Unit Spotlight - Exorcist audi nos
I don't want to do a spotlight for a class we haven't been yet, so this is the last unrelated one before we advance. Exorcists are a strange breed: they're the only male class that can use light or "virtue" type spells. They can only use Heal, Light Bow, Starion, and Exorcism. Exorcism is the important spell in the set, it is the only thing that you have access to at this point that can permanently get rid of undead. You see: undead don't die, when their hp is 0 they go into a KO state, when their WT counts down to 0, they revive at full health. Undead are rare, but Exorcists are the only way to get rid of them until you get spells like Banish or HolyBolt. Their stat growth is good for offensive mages, but in later levels they're very brittle. My favorite part about Exorcists is that there are minor story characters who are big parts of an army. An army Exorcist... Anyway, our resident Exorcist is Logan, who has been fairly necessary as a healer, but he'll probably be a Warlock in 1 or 2 levels.

Jay - Octopus/Tiamat - Water - White Dragon
HP 206 MP 0 STR 177 VIT 110 INT 89 MEN 134 AGI 75 DEX 67 LUK 50
After the first battle, I took you to do some kill-farming. At the end of this chapter, you are very close to your 30 kills goal. Upon reaching 30, you'll become a black dragon, then you'll have 10 more kills to go until you can be a Tiamat! Of course I accidentally overleveled you, because enemies in random battles match the highest level person in the group and you get 10-20 experience per kill. Then you got MVP in Armorika, so you gained ANOTHER LEVEL. Holy shit, you are 2 levels above everyone else.

Rob - Golem - Wind
HP 107 MP 0 STR 148 VIT 112 INT 65 MEN 102 AGI 51 DEX 54 LUK 50
As far as tanking goes, you're still a beast. I've taken the liberty in giving you a couple of healing items so you have something to do beyond being a roadblock, so now you're a dedicated tank/item healer. Logan will have the giant buff when he becomes a warlock, so you'll have some better attributes when that time comes around.

Jon - Berserker - Water
HP 189 MP 46 STR 104 VIT 95 INT 89 MEN 110 AGI 104 DEX 112 LUK 50
I realized "power" gauntlets raise attack power, so now you have one and you do more damage. I was worried for a second, that witch in Gruborza plainscharmed  you and I thought your boner was going to get the best of us. Luckily, we had Sagar to straighten you out with some rocks to the head.

Josh - Dragoon - Earth - Currently Beast Tamer

HP 179 MP 28 STR 108 VIT 107 INT 87 MEN 102 AGI 111 DEX 113 LUK 53
You continue to do a decent tanking job. Your attack power is good, so you hit hard on counters. You probably have one more level to go until I can change you into a dragoon, so get ready to be our primary dragon-slayer.

Peter - Terror Knight -  Earth - Currently Beast Tamer
HP 179 MP 30 STR 100 VIT 102 INT 88 MEN 97 AGI 114 DEX 109 LUK 48
You've passed me in kill-count, meaning you're ready to be a terror knight whenever your attributes match the requirements to be one. I'll probably end up beating you to that, but I'll try to get you some stat-up cards in the battles to come. Your ability to hit enemies from 2 squares away continues to be valuable.

Brian - Lizard Man - Water
HP 193 MP 4 STR 121 VIT 106 INT 63 MEN 103 AGI 110 DEX 94 LUK 50
Now you possess a tower shield, because you're one of the tougher s-size units at my disposal at the moment and I needed you to tank. It was necessary for my strategy of lining the tanks up and relying on counters to do damage. The tower shield makes it more likely you'll evade physical attacks.

Kay - Witch - Earth
HP 164 MP 62 STR 92 VIT 89 INT 102 MEN 106 AGI 108 DEX 116 LUK 50
Jump is now a spell in your arsenal, it has replaced Clear. Jump allows you to move one unit one square in any direction, no matter the height. I haven't had much luck with charm lately, it either doesn't hit or doesn't last for long enough. Fortunately I've been raising you as an archer, so your hit rate is okay and your damage with that crossbow is sufficient on soft targets.

Logan - Warlock - Fire - Currently Exorcist
HP 161 MP 86 STR 86 VIT 92 INT 124 MEN 103 AGI 86 DEX 101 LUK 49
Your heals are still great in a pinch, because they're long distance. However, you'll be a warlock in a level or two, so your duties will shift toward support magic and standing next to Jorshe so he gets the buff.

Gage - Knight - Fire
HP 173 MP 37 STR 114 VIT 95 INT 92 MEN 99 AGI 101 DEX 107 LUK 50
In the first battle you did okay, albeit you spent most of it chasing a ninja. Your evade rate in the second battle nearly got you killed again...AGAIN! I had to exclude you from the last bit of the battle because you were stuck at 20 health with no way to get it back up. But against all odds, you still do your job. Strangely enough you do a lot more damage to golems than any of my other guys.

Sagar - Berserker - Fire
HP 188 MP 39 STR 115 VIT 108 INT 83 MEN 110 AGI 92 DEX 106 LUK 50
 It was funny; People kept getting charmed by the enemy witch in the first battle and you kept throwing stones at them to keep them sane. I give you the achievement Cock Block.

Dylan - Terror Knight - Wind - Beast Tamer
HP 186 MP 37 STR 110 VIT 103 INT 87 MEN 104 AGI 109 DEX 107 LUK 50
The slender makes all the difference, I am no longer a shitty claw fighter, but now a safe spearman. That will change once I get to terror knight in a level or two.

Battle Report
This is a boring fight aside from one detail: the enemy leader has a special class of Summoner. I'm not quite sure why this was put in, but this is a trend we'll see more often as we play. Summoner is one of a few unique classes that the player can't be, they can equip most magic, and have a special ability called "Summon-E," which allows them to spawn in a single skeleton undead. Good thing we had Logan, because we had to exorcise a few. At appropriate level, even with her additional level over us, we still defeated her easily.

It would have all been over quickly if not for the need to get Jay's kill-count up. So we farmed kills for him on this map, the only thing slowing us down was the summoner's skeleton spawns. People kept getting charmed by the witch, which Sagar corrected in the only way I can think of: to hit his buddy with rocks. Gage was taken to the other side of the battlefield by the ninja, who he got the best of. Ashley was responsible for a lot of damage to the skeleton spawns with Denim, keeping them down and out.

Everyone did a good job of doing damage and not dying. Logan got the MVP for exorcising a bunch of skeletons.

In between
I took some time to farm kills for Jay on the Gruborza plain map, since he's woefully under count. Gameplay tidbit: In Tactics Ogre you can trigger random encounters, just like in FFT. The difference is that you only face 4 enemies; in some instances, like this one, there will always be a griffon and a golem with 2 random s-size units, one with a bow and the other one with melee weapons. It took a while, but I managed to get Jay above 20 kills. He's a little too leveled though at 16 with everyone else at 15.

I love the name database, they're all weird. I'll have more screens.

Since this is the last real battle of Chapter 2, the battle is probably the toughest we've faced so far. We've got Zapan, who has a level or two over us and advanced attributes, and a bunch of melee units. It's a brawl fest. The enemy army fields a whopping 6 knights, 2 golems, and 2 ninja. The ninja have great bows, two of the knights have crossbows, and the rest just hit hard. I was also farming kills for Jay, so I made everything more difficult than it needed to be.

The first thing on the agenda was to block up the path with a line of tanky guys to protect our defensively weaker units, so Josh, Brian, Gage, Jorshe, and Jay moved up while we tried eliminating the two ninja as fast as possible. The whole battle was a mess of hard hits, abysmal evade and hit rate on our part, and lots of item use. Zapan proved to be the most trouble, because his hammer hit for around 80 damage on average on most everyone, except for Jorshe. Gage was in danger constantly because he refused to block with his shield.

Velika had trouble sticking charm spells and it was slow going due to me wanting Jay to get kills. After a lot of frantic switching around and healing, we took out a couple of the units and began shifting forward, one square at a time. Velika finally landed some charms, but they kept wearing off in a turn or two. One of her poison spells land and forces a knight to retreat somehow, I'll take it! Sagar saves Gage by blocking the side path next to him, allowing us to heal him with items.

Eventually we took out everyone and had Zapan to contend with. I was cautious, so we approached him slowly and allowed him to take damage from easily healed counter-attacks. We whittled his health down and he retreated like a punk. Jay got MVP and became overleveled at 17, but at least he's nearly done with kill-farming.

The Story So Far:
Here's a refresher on the whole thing. Two countries, Walsta and Gargastan, waged war with Gargastan beating Walsta. The Dark Knights of Lodis attack Denim, Vice, and Kachua's hometown, taking Denim's father for execution supposedly. The three vow revenge and meet some exiled Zenobian Knights who they mistook for the Dark Knights. With them, they rescue the captured Duke Ronway, who makes all of them Knights and makes Denim the poster boy for the Walsta Army. In short order they rescue Ronway's #1 man Leonard. The Duke sends them to Bacrum to sign a treaty of non-interference with them and the Dark Knights. Ronway then sends the three heroes and Leonard to a slave town in Gargastan to convince the 5000 of them to rebel, but this doesn't happen, the real mission is to dress up as Gargastan Soldiers and slaughter the whole populace. Denim refuses, Vice turns on him and Kachua and joins Leonard in butchering the place. Denim is made a fugitive and a scapegoat for the incident, he's on the run. Denim encounters an archer named Aloser who joins him and they narrowly escape an ambush by Vice. They head south and rescue three members of the Valeria Liberation Front, who take him to their leader and explain the leader's plan to assassinate Walsta and Bacrum's leadership, to return peace to the land of Valeria. Denim doesn't want to take part in this and heads to Rime to try and get Lans to clear his name. In Rime they fight a mercenary, Zapan, who wants the bounty on Denim's head. During the battle the Dark Knights attack, Lans is seen engaging a Dark Knight in a duel while Guildus comes to save Denim from another Dark Knight. In the confusion, Zapan kidnaps Kachua and lures Denim to Armorika Castle.

That's what happened so far. Here's what happened this chapter:

Denim heads to Armorika Castle. On the way, we encounter an old woman who has a class that none of us can be legitimately: Summoner. Turns out there was no point in this and we effortlessly slaughter her and her army. At Armorika we find Zapan at the gates, taunting us and being very cocky about his battle skillz. After a hard fight, Zapan is defeated and retreats to the castle. Inside we find him at the mercy of Vice, who is somehow able to overpower the meaty berserker.

Vice kills Zapan for being an idiot and turns his attention to Denim. After some short words, a duel ensues between the two former best friends. During the fight, Vice moans about how much Kachua loves her brother and no one else and about how Denim's father is respected, whereas Vice's is just an alcoholic. Denim tries to reason with Vice, but at this point Vice's evil portrait can't be changed. Before a winner is decided, Leonard bursts into the room and yells at them to stop, even calling Vice a baby. Turns out that Bacrum and the Dark Knights are attacking Walsta now, so Leonard asks Denim to forget the past and rejoin him in order to repel this force; in exchange, Denim will no longer be a fugitive.

Our good boy Denim is no simpleton and has to make a choice: drop his ideals and vendetta against Ronway and rejoin the Walsta Army or continue fighting for what's right?

Consequences of the Choice:
There are some things to note about what we're about to do. Leonard has offered to let us off the hook in exchange for our cooperation in fighting the Dark Knights. Vice does not like this idea, but mostly because of his hatred for Denim.

On one hand, we've been on the run from bounty hunters for a while and we are from Walsta, which is now in danger. We could be reinstated as Knights and clear our name, fighting alongside old allies once again. Leonard was just doing his duty when he tried to kill us and I don't think it was his idea to frame Denim for the murders. We want the safety of our people and Bacrum is a threat.

On the other hand, Leonard didn't need to kill us for disobeying an order. It was a huge and mostly unnecessary dick move to make Denim a scapegoat for something they were trying to frame the Gargastans for. Vice has tried to kill us on 3 occasions now and seems to have his own agenda on hand. Additionally, it was Duke Ronway and Leonard who butchered an entire town of innocents in order to advance their goals, granted it was for Walsta, but who knows what they have plotted.

Does Walsta actually need us? After all, we're just a small force lead by a competent commander. Walsta will be mostly busy fighting off Bacrum and the Dark Knights anyway and not have time to focus on us. And what about those who also were betrayed by the Duke and Leonard? Aloser has a stake in all of this. The Valeria Liberation Front also wants him dead. Will that all be for the greater good?