This chapter isn’t anywhere near as tricky as some of the recent ones, but it can be a little annoying because of the traps that your characters can fall into, immobilizing them for a turn (and they can fall in on their way there, eliminating your ability to cancel the movement). There are also several ballistae to contend with, meaning Tanith is a non-factor. Even Marcia with the Full Guard can’t take a lot of damage, so most units are forced to hang back while the usual suspects—Ike, Nephenee, Zihark, and Mia—wreck the place. This is also the chapter where Haar is recruited, and the only challenge there is not remembering where he comes in. Especially since Jill has been ignored for 11 chapters and is likely to die if attacked.
Not a lot happens plot-wise in this chapter (though it starts with Ike telling Zelgius to protect his back rather than leading the charge, keeping Soren’s advice about the dangers of letting Begnion own all of their victories in mind), but you at least get a sense of where Ike’s army is; they’ve marched all the way to a bridge connecting Daein and Crimea. Obviously, the Daein forces who made Crimea their new home after Ashnard abandoned their capital are guarding it and ready to put up a fight.
Laguz bro Ranulf shows up unexpectedly and tells Ike and Elincia that Gallia has decided to aid their cause, though he points out that they’ll be acting in a support capacity. Basically, “you don’t need to worry about us using our victories on your behalf as leverage against you like Begnion might.” Simba’s not so bad after all.
There are two base conversations here: one revolving around Aimee pursuing Ike romantically (which has been going on ever since those Kilvas ravens attacked our ship when we were en route to Begnion), and one with a drunk Shinon. Shinon is irrelevant in every way and his conversation is pointless, but Aimee gives Soren a Hammerne staff after he offers her advice on what Ike likes. The Hammerne staff restores all of a weapon’s durability and is incredibly rare, and it’s for that reason that I never end up actually using it. It might be a good idea to use it to restore the durability of Ike’s Brave Sword at some point, though, and Haar is recruited with a Brave Axe that could prove similarly useful toward the end of the game.
Petrine is actually the boss of this chapter, so we’ll be killing her at the end of the upcoming stage. First, however, we have to cross a bridge covered in traps that immediately end characters’ turns while opening them up to ballistae attacks. It’s kind of annoying, but the immobilization effect wears off immediately after your turn is finished, so your characters are still capable of counterattacking enemies.
Being able to counterattack means that Ike and Nephenee (and even Zihark and Mia to a certain extent despite not faring well against ballista shots) are mildly inconvenienced at best. “Inconvenient” is really the best way of describing these traps, too, because you can’t see where they’re placed ahead of time. You’re navigating the bridge blindly until you’ve either played through the chapter once, looked it up, or had a bunch of your units fall in already. Personally, I forgot where all of the traps were, so I went with the third option and had a ton of my units falling into holes as they tried to cross. C’est la vie. It’s also worth pointing out that there’s a new kind of ballista close to where Petrine is. It launches rocks instead of bolts, and these rocks do area damage. Not a game-changer, but it’s not the last time we’ll have giant rocks annoyingly lobbed our way, damaging multiple characters at once.
Ranulf joins up and becomes a selectable character during this chapter, but he’s a lot like the other laguz in our party—fun to use, but not a big enough factor in the sequel to justify taking experience away from Radiant Dawn’s heavy hitters.
All right, Jill. Time to fulfill your destiny. Then it’s back in the box forever and ever.
The very first thing Haar does is fly off, which sucks because I didn’t remember where he reappears. There’s no way Jill would be able to survive a bolt from a ballista, though, so I had her hang back and gave her Boyd and Tauroneo as backup. That worked out, as some reinforcements showed up that Boyd took care of. I had a moment of panic where Boyd was so far to the right of the screen that he couldn’t move out of Haar’s range when he showed up, imagining Haar attacking Boyd and getting destroyed by a critical hit, but Jill was able to rescue him and move him out of range. Then Tauroneo took him and dropped him (that way he could be used on the next turn—it’s one of those little tricks that I haven’t talked about, but that I use a fair amount since dropping uses up the rescued unit’s movement).
Also, I got away with putting Mist in danger again. This always happens when I play through stages while tired. Basically, I was so focused on the ballistae that I totally forgot to check how far a mounted unit could travel. Thankfully, it missed with both attacks. Other than Haar showing up and Mist barely escaping death, the only other thing of note during this chapter is the arrival of Elincia’s friends Lucia and Bastian. They don’t contribute to the fight themselves, but they throw a bunch of NPC allies into the fight. Since they’re green ones and not yellow ones, they can’t be directed to not steal experience. That sucks, but the only way of avoiding it would be to have a more durable/damaging Marcia or Tanith who could rush over there without succumbing to a dozen enemy attacks. That’s just not in the cards given their stats.
Remember way back when we rescued Nephenee and the others? Remember that red-haired Kieran guy who I’ve never once used making a reference to Geoffrey at the end of that chapter? Well, Lucia here is Geoffrey’s sister and Elincia’s BFF. She explains that despite Elincia’s existence being a secret, rumors about her have spread wildly and been confirmed by Daein’s relentless search for a Crimean princess, so the people now recognize her as the rightful heir to the throne.
Before the battle, Ike and Ranulf talked a bit about Nasir, and Ranulf expressed surprise that he was a Daein spy since he was also a Gallian spy (just as Soren thought). After the battle when they go to talk to him, however, he’s gone. There’s no evidence to support this, but I choose to believe that Jill, Kieran, Oscar, and Shinon were guarding him and that he only escaped because of their ineptitude.