I continued with yesterday’s mission, replaying for an A rank. Previous SPOILER warnings are still relevant, of course. Read on for details.
Back to Bruhl, then. I began my A rank attempt by reloading one of my saves, which was right at the end of turn one. Everybody was in good positions, but as that gave me just one turn to push forward and claim victory it was possible that it simply wouldn’t be enough to win.
My observation yesterday – that there were few scouts and shocktroopers around to actually deal damage on my turn – was an important one, because once they were taken care of I essentially had free run of the level, and could rush forward without being in any danger at all. As such, the camp was ready to be captured in only a few moves, and the rest of the command points could be spent just trying to kill as many enemy units as possible to boost the final score.
In the end this wasn’t quite as thorough as the B rank attempt had been, and two snipers, one lancer and one anti-tank cannon was left alive. I think I could bump that up a bit on a complete retry (there were a few wasted command points on my first turn) but it wouldn’t have made a huge difference, so I accepted this attempt.
The mission ends with Welkin saying, “It’s ours, Is… Home is finally ours again. And your Edelweiss is alive and well and in good hands. You can rest easy.”
And… it was still rank B for two turns. 53,800 EXP, 97,400 DCT (slightly less than yesterday due to killing fewer units), as well as two royal scout weapons, one royal shocktrooper gun one royal lancer lance. So it seems my comments yesterday were even more accurate than I expected when I said:
That’s going to mean taking risks, skipping enemies, and generally doing a much less thorough job, which is essentially everything I don’t like about the A rank in the game.
What I didn’t realise yesterday was that achieving a rank A means completing it in one turn, giving me only thirteen command points to spend, essentially meaning killing no more than thirteen enemies. It probably means focusing entirely on one of the two routes for the level (you can either run straight through the busy street or take a longer side route that keeps you out of harm’s way) and means probably leaving the tank, the anti-tank cannons and every sniper still alive, all just so the base camp can be claimed, which is ridiculous.
On the the next turn every surviving enemy would just turn around and focus on whoever was unfortunate enough to have rushed ahead to claim the camp, and just highlights how daft it is to award higher rankings based wholly on speed. Still, it isn’t compulsory or anything, but it will be interesting to see just how different the A rank score is to either of my thorough B ranks, because it would have to be a fairly big multiplier to offset the lack of kills.
So I began the mission anew, and my first plan was to use a sniper to take out the more troublesome enemies along the path. I lined up the shot, with very little chance to miss and… he missed. Unwilling to accept that, I declared the attempt a write-off, but still decided to try and see how well Alicia would do at taking the camp solo. She got there fine, but took too many hits from a shocktrooper while clearing out the camp (which has to be done before you can take it). She died, and I restarted the mission, hopefully a little better prepared.
On the second attempt, Oscar (my sniper) actually did his job, killing a shocktrooper and scout without difficulty. Alicia pushed forward, killing a shocktrooper on the way and the sniper in the enemy camp. Alicia would need another two turns to claim the camp, leaving me with five spare command points to try and get some extra kills and make it feel more like earning victory rather than cheating to it. Rosie pushed forward to kill a shocktrooper and a sniper, then Freesia (a scout) followed up, taking out another sniper and shocktrooper and making it round to the enemy’s secondary base camp, claiming it and killing one final sniper. With two command points left it was back to Alicia, who destroyed the anti-tank cannon in the main camp and then occupied it, winning the mission in one turn. So again, Welkin dedicates the victory to Isara, and…
Rank A, 61,820 EXP, 114,140 DCT, one royal sniper rifle and two royal lancer lances. So it actually did end up rewarding a few more points for doing much less.
The chapter ends with three cutscenes. The first has Alicia report that Bruhl is clear and that they’ve reclaimed it. She adds that Isara may have been sad to see it like this, abandoned and partly destroyed. Welkin sees a flower, the Lion’s Paw Alicia planted on the day they met. This comforts both of them, and they vow to rebuild Bruhl when the war is done, for everyone who died and everyone yet to live there.
The next cutscene is in a camp (presumably outside Bruhl), with Varrot speaking to the squad in a command tent. Welkin reports that the squad have found a new goal to strive towards, and morale is improved. Faldio is back too, but doesn’t mention his theory about Alicia. Varrot reports that the Imperial forces are all gathering up at one point, the Naggiar plain, and says that this is the battle that will decide Gallia’s fate, one way or another.
The final cutscene has Welkin and Alicia sitting atop the Edelweiss and discussing the upcoming battle, which looks set to be the biggest battle of the war. Alicia is sad that more people will die, that they’ll lose even more that they’ll never get back. Welkin agrees but also reminds her that they can build again and move on, they can restore Bruhl, and even if they can’t replace what they’ve lost they can make new lives for everybody. They both say how much better they feel when they’re around each other, and how glad they are they’ve met. Alicia says there’s something she wants to tell him, but only when the war is over*. They hug, and the cutscene (and the chapter ends) ends.
*That seems set to end badly. “I want to tell you something important, but only after the war is over” seems like it’s almost guaranteed that something will happen to keep them from that. Obviously Alicia wants to tell Welkin she loves him, so it’s possible either that one of them dies (which to an extent would be a repeat of what we just had with Isara) or that Alicia’s impending Valkyria-hood will significantly change things.
Interestingly, after the battle the newspaper – which generally always includes one piece about the previous battle and another on flavour pieces talking about the war’s impact – mentions that a Valkyrur shield and lance have gone missing from a Gallian museum. Presumably we aren’t talking about Selvaria’s weapons, so my guess is that Faldio has taken them for Alicia.
Back at the headquarters, the EXP I gained was enough to bump the snipers up two levels to elite status, but they don’t gain any specific additions either. It’s a little disappointing that only the shocktroopers and scouts get extra abilities, but they are the primary attack units.
That’s where I stopped for the day.
All images: IGN