On Second Seals and Going Cold Turkey

Posted by rjayb89 (7726 posts) -

For the past week, I’ve been feverishly playing Fire Emblem: Awakening unlike any other long-term engagement I've spent with the game since its release. This time, however, I’ve been spending time with my neglected Hard/Classic playthrough as my magic-focused/strength-addled “Charlie” (yes, Charlie) and while the beginning was wrought with much restarts and careful planning to ensure Frederick only acted as a mere meat puppet, everything turned for the worse when I began to build spreadsheets specifically for the game.

You're disgusting, Virion.

It was all so simple at the beginning when all I cared about was who will marry whom and for no particular reason other than the fact that they didn't get married in my first playthrough, with some measured preferences for Chrom and Charlie, of course. From then on, it became a bit of an obsession now that my knowledge of skill inheritance entered the equation and how their children will make use of their Master Seals (that was a mistake). Referring to a Skills list allowed me to meticulously plan my, hopefully, overpowered children characters by taking note of skills such as Aptitude and Galeforce (perhaps the most revered mainstay, and rightfully so) and appropriately reordering their parents’ skills to make sure they would be passed down.

"MAX" -- yeah right

Everything went pretty smoothly for the first few days, progressing through the story and paralogue chapters, slowly, with tons (tons) of replaying of the EXPonential Growth map DLC littered in between. What surprised me was how simple it was to "max out" my characters yet still feel immensely underpowered, especially compared with the children characters, which I suppose is expected after all from being carefully produced through what is literally selective breeding, and made it seem like they were meant to be thrown away once I recruited their kids.

Eventually, I caught on.

There had to be something to this stockpile of Second Seals in my inventory as I never really needed to rethink anyone’s class sets or question their given class upon recruitment, so my curiosity finally caught up to me and I decided to use it on a character I thought couldn’t develop any further.

The “>”’s indicate the usage of a Seal, the color green signifies what’s maxed or acceptable, orange means it needs some work and yeah, I needed to stop.

Unsurprisingly, there was more to the game than I originally thought.

And so I proceeded to use a Second Seal on everyone and thus began my own personal descent into madness much like Brad with Dota 2 wherein I just could not stop playing this game, enough so so that my hands started cramping (clearly not as seemingly health-threatening as something tingling in your back, but notable nonetheless). It was fun imagining the sheer relentlessness my team would be delivering as they blazed through the main game and difficult DLC chapters like Infinite Regalia and The Future Past DLC’s, but the amount of time necessary to make that dream happen -- there’s only so much one man can take of Champions of Yore 3. So, so much.

The game became a chore, basically, and with that the game lost its original, and unexpected, appeal to me: its characters.

While my genuine enjoyment with anything remotely anime-related or, hell, Japanese-related stretches as far as select Final Fantasy games, all things Persona 3 and 4, Bayonetta, and choice animes (Case Closed and Lupin the 3rd), my total experience with individual unit strategy games is slim. With XCOM: Enemy Unknown, I was not only introduced to an entirely new genre last year but one that came with an element of fear and uncertainty attached to its ostensibly (hah) third-person gameplay, but not quite. Rather than controlling one member of a squad, I controlled of them one and their designations and actions, one by one.

There’s a simple beauty to leaving things up to a player’s imagination when it comes to attaining a nickname, but that’s all there is to it.

While the gist of it can be boiled down to prioritizing placing units behind full cover and frequently risking ammo with low hit chances on standby, what disappointed me was how replaceable each of my units were. Unlike Fire Emblem, XCOM’s focus relied on the heart of its gameplay, playing on the intensity and almost desperate feeling one can have against unknown overwhelming odds, leaving character development and story by the wayside.

What separates the two and makes the other more memorable was the existence of meaningful character interactions. Rather than providing a ubiquitous blank slate, Fire Emblem strived to make units’ interactions on the battlefield matter through supportive means, be it specific stat increases or reacting to their partner’s well-being when affronted by an enemy. And not only that, they retained these partnerships beyond the battlefield producing (usually) clever and funny dialogues toeing along my unfamiliarity with anime tropes, all thanks to 8-4’s wonderful translation duties.

To take this all away and diminish the experience to grinding for hours on end, stepping back to allow myself to realize exactly what I was doing reminded me of my original goal: to see every pairing’s conversation. It’s still an arduous task, but a much more manageable and exponentially entertaining one. By just sacrificing my first playthrough’s save with “Chie” (yes, Chie), all my memories of mindlessly grinding returned and terrified me; powering down my 3DS was never sweeter.

A day later, my time with Fire Emblem: Awakening has gone down from six hours a day to zero. I suppose my time spent with this document also counts, but my biggest takeaway from all this is that I should have internetted harder before I got into this whole self-deprecating mess. You're one damn amazing game, Fire Emblem: Awakening, please stop... because in a few days my PC will finally be completed and I guess I'll share its specs then? Join me next time on Spreadsheets 'n Shit with rjayb89.

Hey girl. Damn girl.

Notes:

  • document created on may 27, 2013 (Chrom's birthday)
  • saved over first playthrough (separate save) with new playthrough on same day in attempt to stop addiction; to instill the thought of having to do it all over again, I just cannot bear the thought, at least not anytime soon = successful (possibly temporary) disengagement
  • dat severa
  • backflips ‘n bioforge is fucking awesome
Online
#1 Posted by StarvingGamer (8374 posts) -

I could go on and on about Internal Levels and how using your first Second Seal to go from a Promoted Class to a Promoted Class is leaving skills/stats on the table and the horrors of ILvl 31 and beyond that us Lunatic players have to deal with, but I won't. I just wish I had more free time each day so I could grind both Awakening and Soul Sacrifice to my heart's content.

Also my MC married Nah because I wanted Dragons with Galeforce. What?

#2 Posted by believer258 (11990 posts) -

Quick question: will abusing Frederick's seemingly overpowered attack come back to bite me? Because if not, then I have absolutely no problem cheesing battles with him.

#3 Edited by ArbitraryWater (11910 posts) -

Quick question: will abusing Frederick's seemingly overpowered attack come back to bite me? Because if not, then I have absolutely no problem cheesing battles with him.

If you are playing on normal, not really. On hard he starts falling behind pretty hard once the rest of your army starts promoting.

Also, welcome to my world. I've sunk 50+ hours in this save file and still am deathly afraid of some of the insane post-game DLC chapters like the World of Ruin stuff and Apotheosis. I've railed against the grindtacular nature of many japanese SRPGs before and yet I've fallen down the very hole that I give Final Fantasy Tactics/Tactics Ogre/Disgaea endless amounts of crap for. I don't know what this proves, other than that being able to skip battle animations makes me far more tolerant of grinding, apparently.

#4 Posted by StarvingGamer (8374 posts) -

@believer258 said:

Quick question: will abusing Frederick's seemingly overpowered attack come back to bite me? Because if not, then I have absolutely no problem cheesing battles with him.

If you are playing on normal, not really. On hard he starts falling behind pretty hard once the rest of your army starts promoting.

Also, welcome to my world. I've sunk 50+ hours in this save file and still am deathly afraid of some of the insane post-game DLC chapters like the World of Ruin stuff and Apotheosis. I've railed against the grindtacular nature of many japanese SRPGs before and yet I've fallen down the very hole that I give Final Fantasy Tactics/Tactics Ogre/Disgaea endless amounts of crap for. I don't know what this proves, other than that being able to skip battle animations makes me far more tolerant of grinding, apparently.

Well, Awakening makes things a lot more appealing with the clear-cut nature of MAX characters when compared to most other games. Learn all the skills, earn all the stats, and you're done. You could fall down some pretty dark holes with FFT, deleveling your characters as Calculators then releveling them as Mimes.

#5 Posted by TruthTellah (9309 posts) -

Crazier people have done all of this so that I can dick around and make my own imperfect characters and relationships based more on how cool they look or how cute they seem together without feeling like I've missed out. Thanks so much, guys. :)

#6 Posted by Hunter5024 (5808 posts) -

I adore your spreadsheets.

#7 Posted by rjayb89 (7726 posts) -

@starvinggamer: Level 31? Discovering I've been using Seals so inefficiently is enough to scare me away for the time being, I can't even imagine why this Level 31 business seems so horrifying. Also, regarding Nowi, that's just weird. Chose to sit out Gregor this round because her situation just weirds me out.

@arbitrarywater: The amount of customization this game has is amazing and being able to skip a majority of those transitions and full combat animations really helped me out on the latter half of my lengthy grinding. I'd like to say I'm more tolerant than the average gamer to be able to grind without getting bored, but it obviously changed this time around. I'll still have this file to remind me of my fuckups for future playthroughs, and hopefully get Armsthrift and Galeforce on as many characters as possible. Forged Brave-level weapons for everyone!

@truthtellah: You're right. I know too much that I can't enjoy this game until I dominate. :(

@hunter5024: Google Docs is basically my Notes section on the back of the instruction manual.

Online
#8 Posted by StarvingGamer (8374 posts) -

@rjayb89: Every time you Second Seal your character you increase their internal level, a level modifier that scales your EXP gain. On normal, this maxes out at +20 and on hard at +30. Even when you're running around with +30 characters on hard, XP gain still isn't atrociously bad. On Lunatic, however, your iLvl maxes out at +50, which makes amassing skills and maxing stats like Mag for Chrom a nightmare.

#9 Posted by rjayb89 (7726 posts) -

@starvinggamer: So gaining 8 XP per kill isn't the worst it can get? Lunatic difficulty would probably kill me.

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