This is a chapter that I’ve had so much trouble with in the past that all of the dangers are burned into my mind. I remember the wyvern knight reinforcements who show up at the bottom. I remember the horse-mounted reinforcements from the top and the long-range lightning magic at the top-right that Haar needs to stay away from because it does bonus damage against him. I remember the boss and a few nearby flying units rushing towards (and often overwhelming) the first character to move within their range. None of that is a problem here, though, because using Nephenee in Path of Radiance gave her bonuses that made her more usable in Act 2, and using her in Act 2 leveled her up enough that she can see heavy use alongside Ike and Mia now that she’s joined his army. Time to lance some dudes in the face.
The fortresses conquered in the last two chapters were hugely important defensive points, so the Laguz Alliance is able to crash into Begnion without much resistance. Lekain and another senator are freaked out by how much ground they’ve already lost, so they combine their armies with those of some other nobles and prepare to make a stand near the Ribahn River, which acts as a natural defensive point.
Begnion’s main force (the Begnion Central Army) has no doubt taken note of the Laguz Alliance’s victories, and Ranulf and the bird tribes have come up with a plan for how to deal with that large force. The idea is for Tibarn and Naesala’s groups to attack the Central Army’s supplies to slow them down while Ike and the beast tribes deal with the local nobles. Then the bird tribes will meet back up with everyone and they’ll attack the Central Army together. Divide and conquer, basically.
Tibarn and Naesala’s groups move toward the supply convoy, and the two laguz kings have a conversation about how the bird tribes used to be more tightly-knit and live together in Phoenicis. Tibarn’s trying to play nice, but Naesala warns him that he may regret trusting him too much. Tibarn believes Naesala’s desire to keep the herons safe will ensure his continued loyalty, however, so he disregards the warning.
Not all of the Begnion soldiers are bad. There’s a new character named Levail who’s trying to warn the nobles of the coming danger, but they’re all acting out of self-interest and not taking things seriously. Levail isn’t a hugely important character or anything, but we’ll be seeing more of him as the story progresses.
Ike and Mia’s support doesn’t provide the same ridiculous avoid bonus that Zihark and Volug’s does, but it’s respectable and also grants hit and attack bonuses. This will become more of a factor at the very end of the game when we need as much power as possible. Mia’s really his perfect support partner, because the avoid bonus and attack bonus benefit both of them equally and eventually allow him to do more damage against the tough enemies at the end. Later on in the act, we’ll get a Daunt skill that Mia will use that’ll further reduce the hit chance of nearby enemies (even when attacking other units), somewhat counteracting the lesser avoid bonus.
Remember during Act 2 when I mentioned that not stealing a boss’ Secret Book item wasn’t a huge loss because most of the good characters have no problems with skill? Well, I meant it: Ike, Mia, Soren, and Nephenee all have their skill stat maxed out already. Granted, they still have a class change in their futures that raises all of their stat caps, but what they have now is good enough that they should be set even if their third-tier level-ups don’t give them points in skill.
The first base conversation is between Ilyana and Heather. Ilyana was actually a member of Micaiah’s forces, but her real loyalty is to the merchant convoy, so she joins when Ike calls on them. That’s one more reason why using Ilyana in this game is a bad idea; focusing on her too much early on deprives other Dawn Brigade characters of experience, and she’ll eventually be an opposing enemy. Also, she’s objectively not a good unit. Anyway, Heather has a knack for conning men who find her attractive, so it’s a bit of karmic retribution when Ilyana uses her usual “oh, I’m starving” routine to con her into getting her food. It’s fluff, but entertaining fluff.
The second base conversation, however, is much more substantive. It starts out with Aimee flirting with Ike and trying to trick him with free items into saying something that she can use to corner him into a relationship (she’s been obsessed with him since Path of Radiance), but Soren steps in and explains to him what she’s trying to do. Then Soren launches a salvo of compliments at her to get a Silver Card, which gives the group a temporary 50% discount on items. That’s going to be huge.
Everything is half-priced, which means it’s a great time to stock up on vulneraries. First, though, I buy Mia a Wyrmslayer sword because there are going to be a lot of wyvern-riding enemies in this chapter, including the boss. Then it’s time to sell this Blue Gem item that we got from visiting one of the open buildings in the last chapter for 5,000 gold. Only then do I start buying healing items (including a concoction that I sent to the inventory for later). The idea is to give any character bound to see heavy use two vulneraries to fall back on. That means Ike and Mia, obviously, though I’m also going to try to get Soren and Nephenee to support each other.
I don’t usually record myself repositioning units because it doesn’t matter all that much, but it never hurts to have the characters who are going to move forward start out close to where they’re moving. Ike, Mia, Soren, and Nephenee are all moving clockwise, so they get moved to the bottom-right of the formation so that they can move farther past the trees and block off the path of some mounted units on that side. Boyd, Titania, and the others are all moving down to take care of some enemies there, including the aforementioned wyvern-riding reinforcements that come from the bottom, but their role is very much secondary here. The stage ends when the boss dies, so they mostly stay at the edge of the wyvern-riding enemies’ range toward the bottom, only moving in to start fighting when Ike’s group draws them away. Also, I shoved Heather around so that she could steal a Statue Frag from an enemy. I’ve never done that before and didn’t even know it was there.
You can start to see Mia’s godliness during this stage. I mean, consider the situation when she attacks the boss: she has a 100% chance to hit, does 32 damage (and double attacks thanks to her great speed), and the boss has a 5% chance to hit that becomes 0% if she moves into the grassy area. Oh, and she crits, which means she technically does three times as much damage. That’s 96 points of damage in a single hit (of two), and the chances of the boss hitting her are virtually nonexistent. Even if he did, she would survive no matter what since he has a 0% crit chance. She won’t normally be doing bonus damage against enemies, but she will run into danger with Ike while dodging and critical hitting enemies to death like crazy. That’s Mia.
After the battle, the Begnion Central Army shows up. The bird tribes don’t appear to have delayed their arrival at all, and while Ike worries that Tibarn is dead, Soren tells him that it’s unlikely that there was even a battle. Without Tibarn and Naesala’s forces, however, they don’t have enough people to fight the entire army.
Ranulf understands that they need to retreat rather than rushing headlong into death, while Skrimir’s hotheadedness causes him to want to take them head-on. The two fight it out briefly, and Ranulf is injured in the confrontation.
Despite his victory, however, Skrimir fakes an injury and carries Ranulf with him while they flee and live to fight another day. He makes an excuse, but it’s clear that he accepts Ranulf’s assessment of the situation and perhaps even respects him for fighting to save Laguz Alliance soldiers from dying in a hopeless confrontation.
Leading the Begnion Central Army is General Zelgius, who was leading the reinforcements Sephiran sent back in Path of Radiance when Begnion was helping Elincia retake Crimea. That’s bad news, since he’s one of the most respected generals in Begnion and for good reason. Anyway, he meets up with Levail, who explains that they haven’t had a commander watching over everything, with each individual force engaging the Laguz Alliance on their own. Needless to say, Zelgius is going to act as commander now so that Begnion has a united strategy.
Levil asks about rumors that there’s a split in power in Begnion, with Apostle Sanaki and the senators (led by Lekain) having vastly different opinions on how to handle the situation. Between what happened in Daein during Act 1 and the current fight against the Laguz Alliance, it’s safe to say that Sanaki’s power is waning as the senators seem increasingly emboldened to act without any apparent fear of reprisal.