2019 Writing Goals – Q3 Review

Finally. We’re starting to get back into the nice weather part of the year. Just don’t tell Ohio that. When I wrote this on the 30th of September, it was nearly 90 degrees. Because we can’t have nice weather.

In going to write this post, I noticed I was a bit of a failure in my Q2 goal post — in that when I copy/pasted the post from Q1 to get my formatting, I completely forgot to change the opening paragraph away from what I had written in Q1. So um…oops?

If you want to go back and read the original goal post, you can find it here. That said, I’ve also put something of a summary of the goals in with my progress on each of them below. This is mostly for those who are lazy and don’t want to click back to the post, but it’s also for me and ease of copying when I write posts later in the year. Because deep down, I was the lazy one all along.

Goal 1: Blog Growth?

I’m not going to bury the lede here. It’s been a great year for my blog’s traffic. The blog recently crossed the 12,000 hit threshold for the year. It’s on track to more than triple my traffic in 2018. I’m overwhelmed by the support I’ve gotten on this blog, particularly for the video game posts I’ve written, along with the short stories that have been my bread and butter since this blog started.

As for more specifics for Q3, see the chart below. I’m hoping to say we’ve broken the 15,000 hit threshold by the end of the year, though we’ll have to see how that goes as we get closer.

Q3 2019 Site Stats

Goal 2: Finish a Second Draft of the WIP by July (WIP Update Section)

Since I finished this goal prior to July, I’m going to use this post to give a short update as to where I am with my current work in progress. I’m technically on draft four at this point, though this is a pretty recent development. I sat the manuscript down and didn’t touch it for nearly two full months. In mid-September, I picked it back up again and am currently reading through it and making minor changes here and there to wording, flow, and other grammatical things — as well as the occasional continuity error I find. Once I get my feedback from my editor, I’ll be working on that, as well as trying to frame out my entire plot visually so that I make sure I’m not making any massive continuity errors as I write. I think I’ve done a pretty good job with that to this point, but I’m sure I’ll catch something as I’m working through it.

Update: I’ll be talking about this goal in a bit more detail later this month.

Goal 3: Take on Four New Freelance Projects This Year

Much like Q2, this is a good news, bad news entry. I actually have three major projects lined up to work on in the future — including one I’ve read a very early copy of and am excited to shout about from the rooftops once it’s published. The down side is that at least one of those projects has been pushed to 2020 for sure at this point. I’d much rather not make this goal personally and have the writers I’m working with turn out the best version of their projects. It’s still a tad saddening though, as I like hitting goals.

How are you doing on your 2019 goals? If you’re a blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, or other creator, I’d love to hear how you’re doing. Sound off in the comments.


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My Pokemon Gym: Electric

Welcome to the eighth iteration of the My Pokemon Gym series. If you’re new to this series, I take a Pokemon type then build out my team of six Pokemon of that type as if I were the gym leader. Here are the rules:

  1. I can’t use legendary/mythical Pokemon
  2. I can’t reuse Pokemon I’ve used in previous gyms in this series.
  3. Forms of the same Pokémon can be reused, provided they have different typing. For example, if I used Rattata in a Normal gym team, I could use Alolan Rattata in a Dark gym team.

Want to read my other My Pokemon Gym posts? Go read the Fighting, Ice, Psychic, Grass, Dragon, Bug, and Fairy type posts when you’re done here. All images courtesy pokemondb.net unless otherwise stated.

Zebstrika

Despite Electric being a type full of speedy Pokemon, I chose not to have a dedicated lead on this team1Apologies to Electrode, which was my last cut from this team. I originally had Electrode on this team, only to then realize that I liked it more because of its memeiness in Smash rather than actually liking it in the main series games.. Zebstrika would be the functional lead for this team, meant more for busting holes in weak physical leads than anything else. I’m taking a gamble with the Sap Sipper ability, though it’s because Zebstrika’s other abilities don’t really play into a physical build. I do love Bounce on Zebstrika, particularly when powered up with a Z-crystal. That said, most of the damage here will be dished out via Thrash and Wild Charge.

Ability: Sap Sipper
Item: Muscle Band
Moves: Thrash, Bounce, Flame Charge, Wild Charge

Heliolisk

Heliolisk is a terrible fit synergy wise with the rest of this team, but I swear it has a purpose. Considering the number of Ground Pokemon that benefit from Sandstorm, Heliolisk is meant to bait those Pokemon in and hit them hard with Surf, all while avoiding their hits with the combination of Sand Veil, Double Team, and Bright Powder. Gimmicky? Sure. But considering how much Ground types scare off Electric Pokemon, I feel like I need some way to deal with them.

Ability: Sand Veil
Item: Bright Powder
Moves: Sandstorm, Parabolic Charge, Double Team, Surf

Stunfisk

Stunfisk is ugly. In a type that’s full of way-too-cute Pokemon, I kind of like Stunfisk. It’s got the same stigma that Raichu has2Where the Pokemon is hated more than it should be for no good reason., only with a much better move pool. Givin Stunfisk a set of moves aimed on delivering status effects seems to fit its reputation of being something players want to shy away from, as does its recovery being Pain Split. There’s not a great item to use with this moveset, so I’m giving it Expert Belt. I considered Assault Vest, but then I couldn’t use recovery moves, hence not equipping that item.

Ability: Static
Item: Expert Belt
Moves: Scald, Sludge Bomb, Pain Split, Discharge

Alolan Golem

I don’t know that Alolan Golem is actually that good if I’m objective. Yeah, it can trap Steel types in. And yes, it has Earthquake coverage that much of my team lacks. But I’m always comparing Alolan Golem to its Kantonian counterpart in my mind. When doing that, it just doesn’t stack up. Am I doing this wrong?

Anyway. Z-move coming off Thunder Punch. Brick Break. Protect. Awesome facial hair.

Ability: Magnet Pull
Item: Electrium-Z
Moves: Brick Break, Earthquake, Thunder Punch, Protect

Mega Ampharos

The single most glorious mane in Pokemon is here. I always knew Mega Ampharos hit hard, but it wasn’t until making this post that I realized that it has a thumping 165 base Special Attack. Holy hell. Get a pair of Charge Beams up and everything is dead. Could you imagine Baton Passing Calm Mind or evasion boosts to this thing? Damn. Hidden Power Poison is there for Fairy types, while Dragon Pulse should hit pretty much everything else hard.

Ability: Mold Breaker (Static prior to mega evolution)
Item: Ampharosite
Moves: Charge Beam, Dragon Pulse, Cotton Guard, Hidden Power Poison

Jolteon

There are a lot of Pokemon that can claim they got so much better once we got past the first two generations of the game — what with the introduction of abilities, held items, mega evolutions, and expanded move pools. Jolteon is not one of those Pokemon. Its abilites range from underwhelming (Volt Absorb) to terrible (Quick Feet). Its move pool can’t even take advantage of the latter ability because of its weak physical attack. And most of the non-TM moves added to its move pool since Gen I are lackluster. So why have it on my team? It was the only Gen I Electric type I could reliably use when I played those games. Magneton didn’t get good until it became a Steel type and got an evolution. Raichu got overshadowed by its pre-evolution. Electrode is a meme. And Zapdos breaks my no legendaries rule. So Jolteon makes the team despite its shortcomings. We’ll try to use it to fight the power3Row, row anyway.

Ability: Quick Feet
Item: Flame Orb
Moves: Synchronoise, Shadow Ball, Thunderbolt, Hidden Power Ice

Book Review – Crazy is My Superpower by A.J. Mendez Brooks

Remember how last quarter I asked if I was going to do quarterly book reviews on this blog? Welp. Here we are. At the very least these will happen throughout the rest of 2019. Though I’ll likely only do one a quarter, plus the end of the year massive book ranking post like I wrote last year.

Full disclosure for those of you who don’t know me really aside from this blog: I’m a fan of professional wrestling. While I don’t watch nearly as much anymore as I once did, I do follow along with the storylines through the internet. I’ll watch 2-3 pay-per-views a year, either via streaming or (rarely) by going out to Buffalo Wild Wings and watching them4I try to do the latter for the Royal Rumble every year, though I haven’t gotten to do that in a couple of years.. That said, there was a point where I liked wrestling a lot more than I do now.

Part of the reason for my decline in interest is because of the fact that a lot of wrestlers I loved watching aren’t wrestling anymore. While my favorite wrestler of all time, Kofi Kingston, is the current WWE champion5As of me writing this review on September 11, 2019., several of my favorite wrestlers are either no longer wrestling (Paige, CM Punk, AJ Lee, Edge, Mark Henry, Christian) or wrestle significantly less than they once did (Kane, Lita, The Undertaker). As such, while the quality of professional wrestling has gone up significantly over the past few years, I’m not as engaged it as I once was6A couple of my favorite wrestlers have also moved on to companies where there’s generally a time difference between when I have time to watch wrestling and when they’re actually wrestling. That doesn’t help matters either..

I picked up Crazy is My Superpower because I remember how ridiculously good AJ Lee’s — real name A.J. Mendez Brooks — run on the WWE main roster was in the earlier part of the 2010s. She was the first female wrestler since Lita that I felt the WWE allowed to showcase what she could do as a performer in the ring. She was a major reason I was so interested in watching wrestling when it was on TV at the time because of the intensity and emotion she played her character with on a weekly basis.

In Crazy is My Superpower, Mendez Brooks goes into her battles with mental illness, which ultimately helped shape (and allowed her to more accurately play) the character she portrayed on television. In opening up about her challenges facing bipolar disorder, it felt like Mendez Brooks went a long way to humanize those who are afflicted with the disease. I’ve had people close to me who also had bipolar disorder, but because of my lack of understanding of them, as well as of the disease itself, I felt like I often struggled to relate to them — or at the very least be there for them in a way that was helpful to them. Crazy is My Superpower helped me to understand one person’s battle with bipolar disorder in a way that shed new light on the disease for me.

Beyond that, the book is extremely funny and witty. I’ve read a decent number of books written by celebrities I like over the past two years. While some celebrities (Adam Savage and Anna Kendrick, for example) wrote decent to very good books, most celebrity books range from underwhelming (most of them) to shut the book and immediately return it to the library levels of bad (Jim Gaffigan). Crazy is My Superpower is an amazing book, comfortably ranking in my top five celebrity(ish)-written books of all-time. That list would look something like this for those curious:

  • I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
  • Crazy is My Superpower by A.J. Mendez Brooks
  • Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot by Mike Greenberg
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Crazy is My Superpower talks about some heavy topics, particularly in regards to mental illness and poverty. So be prepared for that going in. With that said, it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read so far this year and expect it to be near the top of my 2019 books list once I publish that in December.

Meeting Charlie Madagan

Note: The following short story is actually the combination of a pair of ideas I’ve had floating around in my head for a while now. At the recommendation of a few writer friends, I thought I’d pilot the idea as a short story and see what people thought.


“Hot chocolate with two shots for Tyler!” the coffee shop employee shouted from behind the counter.

“It’s Kyler,” I muttered to myself. Not that it mattered. They always got it wrong.

Drink in hand, I started my search for the man I was to meet up with for my project. ENG 3030 had a reputation for being one of the toughest courses creative writing majors would take on campus, being the first major workshop course and all. I’d nearly sunk myself on the first project of the class before it’d even begun.

On day one of class, our professor, Dr. Eugenio Torrence, laid out the basic structure of the class, including all of the projects. Our first project was a long-form essay – 20,000 to 25,000 words — wherein we had to adapt the life story of an actual person into a work of creative writing. This would be one of the two major projects we’d have in the semester, but it was the only one that students knew about before they came in. The pool of individuals that students could choose from was composed of a motley crew of Dr. Torrence’s friends, colleagues, and various other long-time participants in this project.

Part of what made the project so difficult was the lack of parameters around the project other than the word count.

“I don’t care how you go about composing this piece,” said Dr. Torrence, “so long as you turn it in on time, it meets the word count guidelines, and I can see the person you interviewed in your story. Take all the creative liberties you want beyond that.”

I, being the person I am, overslept on day two of class. Naturally, this was the day where we got to pick our research subjects. Since I arrived to class last, it meant I got to pick my person last, leaving me stuck with the last person left on the list: Charlie Madagan.

The bio card I’d received from Dr. Torrence read like something out of one of those rich people financial magazines you read in the dentist office waiting room when you’ve finished Sports Illustrated. Charlie Madagan was an ex-Wall Street broker, an inventor, and a hedge fund manager. He was, apparently, one of the 100 richest people in the state and gave a lot of money to the college, as it was his alma mater. That said, he was also eccentric and prone to days or weeks at a time where no one would be able to hear from him.

Great. Just what I needed.

I looked around the coffee shop, trying to find Charlie from the description he’d given me in his email. The problem was that when someone promises to wear a black hoodie and blue jeans in a college town, they’re not exactly going to stick out. There was an old guy in the corner wearing a winter coat in the middle of September. That seemed weird enough to be Charlie. Maybe the hoodie was underneath?

No sooner was it that I had taken this line of thought than I felt a hand touch my shoulder.

“You’re late,” said a timid male voice behind me.

I turned around to see a middle-aged man wearing a black hoodie and blue jeans, his salt-and-pepper hair sticking out from underneath a Wellesley College baseball hat.

“Charlie?” my voice meekly squeaked out.

“You’ll never get a good interview with anyone like that,” he said softly. “Come on now. Stand up straight.”

I did my best to straighten my posture, concerned that I hadn’t realized I was slouching.

“Now, try again,” he said.

“Charlie Madagan?” I asked, my voice a bit louder this time.

He let out a deep sigh.

“You’re going to be more work than Eugie said,” he replied. “Come on. Bring your coffee and let’s grab a table and get this started.”

“It’s hot chocolate,” I corrected him.

“Fucking millennials,” he mumbled to himself.

Charlie pointed at a table in the far corner of the room.

“See that empty three seater round table in the back?”

I nodded.

“Go sit there,” he continued. “Leave me the seat by the coat rack and take whichever other one you want. I will be right there.”

I followed his instructions, seating myself to the right of his desired seat. For a moment, I considered pulling out my computer and readying myself to take notes. But then I remembered his snide comment about my age and decided pen and paper was the right choice — at least in his eyes. The project overview sheet gave us a list of questions as recommendations to begin our interview with, though something told me Charlie Madagan wasn’t going to let me use too many of them.

“Here,” he said, nudging me with a cup and saucer.

I thanked him and carefully placed the drink down in front of me. The coffee cup was half the size of a regular cup. Even then, it seemed underfilled to me, especially after seeing the massive amounts of caffeine both of my parents regularly ingested.

“Hot cocoa is for Christmas and cuddling,” continued Charlie. “The former is three months away and I have no intention of partaking in the latter with you. Espresso is a much better choice for an interview.”

He sipped at his own cup, barely making a dent in the level of the liquid. I stared at his hat again, knowing the name sounded familiar, but couldn’t place why.

“Where’s Wellesley?” I asked, fully expecting a condescending response based off of how our time together had gone so far.

“Massachusetts,” he replied. “One of the most prestigious women’s colleges in the world.”

“Does your daughter go there?”

“No, no. I’m afraid she didn’t have the grades to get in there — though I do appreciate your educated guess that I had a daughter.”

“Well, it made sense.”

“Because I’m old?” he asked.

“I didn’t mean it that way,” I said, backpedaling.

“How old do you think I am?”

Charlie leaned forward slightly in his seat, like a cat getting ready to pounce on an injured bird.

“Forty-five?” I said, my statement turning into a question as I spoke.

He let out a hearty laugh, one with a much fuller sound than his speaking voice led me to believe he was capable of.

“You flatter me,” he said. “Maybe there’s some hope for you after all. No, I’m fifty-two. And my wife is actually the Wellesley alumna.”

Charlie Madagan pulled a folded slip of paper out of the pocket of his hoodie, sliding it across the table to me. I stared at it, confused as to what exactly was going on.

“Go on,” he said. “It’s better than whatever you’ve come up with.”

“What?” I replied.

“Have you even prepared questions to ask me?”

“Yes.”

“Mine are better. I promise.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

I wasn’t sure why, but he was quickly getting on my nerves. Nevertheless, Charlie Madagan took another sip of his espresso, patiently considering my question.

“I’ve known Eugenio Torrence for twenty-nine years,” he began. “For the past thirteen years, I’ve been helping him out as a subject in his creative writing courses. I am always the person he gives to the slackers, the stoners, the eventual dropouts, or the kids who are perpetually late to class.”

“I was late one day!” I shouted back.

“What’s your GPA?” Charlie asked, his voice still calm and annoyingly melodic.

“What does that matter?”

“What’s your GPA, Kyler?”

“3.3.”

“And how often do you miss class?”

“It…it depends on when in the day it is.”

“Kyler. Just look at the list.”

I pulled the sheet of paper towards me, slowly sliding it across the table, taking care to avoid the small pool of condensation from whoever had this table before us. I took my time unfolding it, trying to sneak a glance at the expression on his face. It was unflinching and stoic, almost as if he was trying to convey to me that he knew how I was going to react before I did.

The list was a mess of handwritten bullet points. Charlie’s penmanship would be best described as third grader trying to create calligraphy in a bumper car, but it was clear that his pen strokes were meticulous and careful, even if the end result was not particularly beautiful. The list read as such:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages to libertinism? What could society learn from this philosophy?
  • Why is the feeling of falling in love so addictive?
  • Why agree to helping the youth of America when not all of them are capable of becoming the future leaders of tomorrow?
  • Is there a difference between philanthropy and marketing?
  • Are humans really the heroes of their own stories?

I looked up from the list and stared at Charlie. Clearly something about my expression was off to him.

“Let me guess,” he said. “Not what you were expecting?”

“None of these questions are about you,” I replied. “They’re just essay topics for a philosophy class.”

“I can assure you they’re not. Trust me. I’ve pitched the topics to a number of members of the philosophy department. None of them take my suggestions seriously.”

“I think I’ll stick to my list,” I said as I opened my steno pad to find my questions.

“Just ask one,” said Charlie. “I’ll even let you pick. Take any question from the list and let me respond. I promise that every question that you could have possibly come up with to learn about me will be answered by those five questions. I’ll only need to answer one for you to know I’m right.”

I looked the list over again. The questions really did look absurd to me. While I’m sure I could tangently get a good bit of information about Charlie Madagan from whatever answers he gave, my goal was to pass this class. And since ENG 3030 was at eight in the morning, my hope was to do so while getting as much sleep as possible. Still, it was clear to me that I wasn’t going to make any progress with my list of questions without at least humoring him.

Two of the questions jumped out to me as a place to start. The second question focused on love, which would hopefully give me an in to learn about his family and the story there. I already knew he had a wife who went to Wellesley and a daughter who existed, but beyond that, I still had nothing. Still, most people don’t have an interesting family. You’re much more likely to come across someone whose family is a trainwreck than anything of actual interest.

The final question on the list definitely had the most potential for an interesting story. In one of my English classes in high school, I remember hearing some modern author talk about how everyone, even villains, always see themselves as their hero of their own story. So it’s clearly a question with potential. But then I looked at Charlie. While he was clearly extremely successful and likely was at least of above average attractiveness in his youth, it was clear his prime years were ending, if not already gone. Maybe there was something dark in there — something juicy like white collar crime or drunken parties on a yacht off the coast of Colombia. More than likely though, it’d just be some story about how he hazed some clown freshman in his college days. If I wanted to hear that kind of a story, I could go back to campus.

“I pick the second one,” I said, pointing at the question and turning the paper back to him.

“An interesting choice, if not a predictable one,” Charlie said as he took a longer sip from his cup. In my time focusing on the list of questions, I had missed him drinking nearly the entire glass.

“Predictable how?”

“Everyone wants to hear a good love story. That’s what falling in love is about.”

He took another drink of the espresso, this time finishing what was left.

“Still,” he continued, “you’ve also picked the longest question to answer. I’m afraid we don’t have time to answer it today.”

“That’s fine,” I replied. “We could always continue through email o — ”

“No,” Charlie interrupted. “I mean this is an explanation longer than the time you told me you had in your schedule, as well as a question that must be answered in one sitting.”

Was this guy serious? Was his story really that important that it necessitated I clear my schedule just for him?

“What’s your Friday look like?” asked Charlie as he picked up his phone and scrolled through what I could only presume was his calendar.

“Class 9:05 until 9:55, one from 10:35 to 11:25, and one from 1:30 to 2:20.”

“Any plans after?”

I didn’t have any plans. My best friend, Malik, was out of town for the weekend. But what college kid doesn’t have plans on a Friday night?

“I’ve got a party I’m going to at night,” I said, lying through my teeth.

“That’s fine,” said Charlie. “Meet me here at 3pm. This place closes at 8pm, so you’ll be home in plenty of time to pregame — or whatever it’s being called these days.”

“It’s still pregaming.”

Charlie got out of his chair, grabbing his cup and saucer to take back to the counter.

“And Kyler,” he said.

“Yeah?”

“Bring a laptop next time. No one takes notes on paper anymore.”

The Worst Fire Emblem Awakening Play Through Ever: Chapters 10 and 11

The following post is part of my series “The Worst Fire Emblem Awakening Playthrough Ever”. Spoilers ahead for a six year old game.

NOTE: This will likely be the last edition of this I do for a couple of months, as I need to clear out a backlog of other posts on my schedule. The series will resume at some point in the near future (November? December?)


Welcome back to the worst Fire Emblem Awakening play through ever. When we last left the Shepherds, I took the time to do a couple of paralogues as a breather from the main story. We gained an underleveled farmhand as part of our team, as well as having met the walking symbol of Ylissean capitalism. We’re headed back to the main story where we get to play one of the best written chapters in all of Fire Emblem7Fight me, pre-DS Fire Emblem purists., as well as one of the most annoying chapters in the game for reasons I’ll get into as we go.

Chapter 10: Renewal

We bring the chapter by seeing Basilio leading our intrepid heroes through a giant ribcage, which isn’t ominous or anything. Chrom is incapable for forming sentences, which is annoying, especially since we’re ambushed by the Plegian army. And that’s it. That’s the entire cut scene before selecting units.

After selecting our units, we’re introduced to the boss for this level, a Plegian general named Mustafa — not Mufasa as I originally read it on my first playthrough. He offers us mercy if we surrender, which Basilio immediately scoffs at. Mustafa says Emmeryn wouldn’t have wanted this bloodshed, further proving that the bad guys in this game sometimes make more sense than the protagonists. Chrom gets angsty because his sister is dead, but then Mustafa admits that Emmeryn’s sacrifice profoundly impacted him and many other Plegians. Mustafa then offers to protect Chrom and our army if we surrender, only for the normally calm Frederick to shoot down the offer. Mustafa resigns to having to fight, beginning our actual fight.

This level is one of the stranger level layouts in the game, basically looking like a series of groceries store aisles full of enemies. I decide to take Chrom, Sumia, Maribelle, Frederick, and Vaike up the right side of the map to clear out the aisles, while everyone else (Cordelia, Libra, Donnel, Tharja, Gaius, Sully, Nowi, and Kellam) go down the bottom of the map to help draw out some of the aisle dwellers. Maribelle, Sumia, and Tharja take out units on the first turn, but we’re largely too far away to do much.

Between turns, Mustafa gets upset that there are thieves stealing stuff from the battlefield. He wants to give justice to the theives, but instead says his army needs to focus on the Ylissean army. The enemies advance, but can’t do much. On turn two, we take out quite a few of the advancing units, though Donnel takes more damage than I’d like.

On the enemy phase, one of the Plegian soldiers makes a case to Mustafa to stop this battle because he doesn’t see the justice in fighting the Ylisseans — going so far as to accept any punishment Mustafa has for him. A second soldier starts screaming at the first one, saying he’ll be killed for insubordination, but Mustafa calms the first soldier by telling him that a soldier is there to deliver judgement not to judge. He empathizes with the soldier, who was there when Emmeryn gave her last words. Mustafa then tells his soldiers that any soldiers who aren’t willing to fight are free to leave, but that he will fight on because he must obey the king’s orders, as Gangrel would murder his wife and kid if he ran. Mustafa’s soliders stay to fight with him because they wish to be loyal to him, serving as a reminder that in times of war, people can do the wrong thing for the right reasons8Holy fuck this chapter hits me hard every time..

Turn three begins and I start sweeping through the enemy units in earnest with Sumia, Maribelle, Cordelia, Sully, and Gaius picking up kills. Mustafa shouts for the reinforcements to be called in, but this battle isn’t going to last long enough for that to happen. Chrom, Maribelle, and Cordelia get our only kills of the player portion of turn four, but the enemy turn goes much better, with Tharja racking up three kills by herself. Frederick begins turn five by engaging with Mustafa by himself, though he doesn’t quite get the kill. Fortunately, Libra is there to pick up the pieces, ending the level as Mustafa pleas for us to spare his men.

Suddenly, an allied unit teleports in. Her name is Olivia and not only does she seem to know Basilio, but she apparently can fucking teleport. Olivia is apparently a smuggler, making her the Han Solo of this game, only significantly more annoying. Olivia insists we get on our way, formally ending the chapter.

Just kidding. It was just a save screen. We’re in Castle Ferox where Lissa is sobbing while Christopher Robin and Frederick are lamenting our failure. Flavia and Basilio are bickering about what to do next. Christopher apologies to Chrom that his plans couldn’t save his sister, and Chrom…thanks him for trying?

Wait. Hold up. Chrom is portrayed as a hothead for most of the last two chapters and yet he doesn’t feel like Christopher has ANY responsibility for Emmeryn’s death? This isn’t consistent with his character at all.

Chrom then starts saying how it’s all his fault, which is more consistent with his character. There’s a lot of talk about sacrifice from Chrom before Christopher gives a buddy cop version of the halftime speech trope. This is followed by pretty much every recruited character telling Chrom how they wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for Chrom — except for Virion, who spends most of his dialogue talking about himself before I reach through the screen and hit him with a shovel. Chrom then asks everyone to help him take down Gangrel, which is met with Lissa wanting to punch people in the face. We get yet another line of people saying they’ll fight, including Flavia promising to give the backing of the Feroxi army. Olivia — who is also here still, apparently — pledges her support because Emmeryn did her a favor once. Because of course she did. It’s plot convenient. Basilio encourages Chrom to start cracking skulls and raise hell. This FINALLY marks the end of the chapter.

Between chapters, I’ve reclassed Panne from a Taguel to a Thief. She’ll be the recipient of some grinding at some point after chapter 11.

Chapter 11: Mad King Gangrel

Before this chapter, I did a couple of rounds of reeking box battles so Donnel could hold his own here. Hence bringing him. That said, he’s still woefully underleveled and it almost went very badly.

We being with Aversa and Gangrel overlooking the battlefield discussing the fact that the Shepherds are on their way. Gangrel makes a fart joke9Seriously., which Aversa promptly makes fun of. Gangrel talks about how a man is either strong or dead in this world, which will in no way foreshadow anything. A Plegian scout runs up to advise Gangrel and Aversa that their army is deserting them.

We cut away to Frederick, who is bringing news of the desertions to Chrom and Christopher. Chrom is confused before a few lines before realizing that it’s all because of his sister’s sacrifice. Apparently she’s become a Plegian folk hero according to Frederick. This caused me to look up whether or not a folk hero could be a famous person and apparently it can. Who knew? Chrom laments for a bit about Emmeryn’s passing, but my ice cream sandwich is melting, so I ignore him in favor of eating that.

After choosing units, we cut to a talking head of Chrom and Gangrel shouting at each other from across the entire battlefield map. Gangrel tells Chrom he doesn’t know the first thing about peace — and he kind of has a point. Granted, Gangrel doesn’t either, but Chrom REALLY hasn’t grown that much across the last few chapters. But then suddenly, just to prove me wrong, Chrom admits he has flaws, but he’s trying. He goes on for a bit about the Power of Friendship before Gangrel tells him to shut up and fight. We’re then joined by Olivia, who is a dancer. Dancers allow you to use the Dance command to make another unit have a second turn. The downside to this is that Olivia is as frail as Miriel was back in Chapter 2, so we really won’t be able to use her if we want her to live.

On turn one, we’re out of range to attack (or mostly to be attacked, so it’s spent pairing up and advancing most of our pairings forward — save for Nowi and Kellam who will be hanging back for the inevitable reinforcements that will show up in the forts to the upper left of the map. Some of Gangrel’s troops move forward, but nothing interesting happens on their turn. Frederick and Ricken open up turn two with some kills, with Ricken picking up an additional one on the enemy phase. Stahl takes a good bit of damage on turn 3, but most of the turn is spent with Sumia, Christopher, Frederick, and Ricken taking more of Gangrel’s units out. On the enemy phase, Stahl probably shoiuld have died, but two different mages with 85%+ hit rates both miss. You might be surprised to learn this trend continues on turn 4, only with Sumia, and only slightly more explainable, as she’s in a fort. That said, it’s four straight misses in her case. I can’t even make this up, because it would seem too unrealistic if I made that up.

The reinforcements finally come on turn 5, but Nowi deals with them easily. Panne’s new Locktouch ability comes in handy to pick up a Goddess Icon from a chest. By turn 6, Gangrel comes charging out of his protector fort — because remember, he’s insane. We let a bunch of other units take out everyone around Gangrel (well, most of them at this stage), but then have Lissa — who has been Christopher’s pair up buddy to this point — fight Gangrel, because she’s a much better story for avenging her sister’s death than Chrom. She doesn’t get the kill, but is low on health. Then, for reasons I don’t fucking understand at all, Gangrel decides to attack Sully WHO CRITICAL HITS THE FUCK OUT OF HIM. He really was a mad lad.

Turn 7 is just some cleanup, leading us to beat the map. The rest of the Plegian army surrenders once we take out the last unit. Chrom accepts their surrender because he’s learning and it’s adorable.

We cut to a discussion between Flavia, Basilio, Chrom, and Christopher talking about the end of the war with Plegia and the coming rebuild of Ylisse and Regna Ferox. A new cinematic plays talking about how Chrom and Christopher are working tirelessly to restore Ylisse’s glory. Chrom has decided not to take up the title of Exalt, but he does marry. There’s a royal wedding between he and Sumia, only for us to get an omnious line.

But then, two years later…

We save the game!

Also, there’s a messenger from Regna Ferox come to see Chrom. It’s Raimi — the Feroxi knight who we had to fight back in chapter 4. Flavia has requested a summit between Ylisse and Regna Ferox because the Fire Nation attacked. Er…the western nation of Valm attacked. Frederick and Chrom agree to meet with Flavia, but are stopped by Sumia. Sumia says she’s coming with Chrom, despite the fact that her and Chrom’s daughter, Lucina, is newly born. Chrom wants Sumia to take advantage of Ylisse’s generous mandatory maternity leave laws, but Sumia insists she needs to come to the summit. Chrom and Christopher talk about Chrom’s growth as a person, but I’m going to ignore that and post my favorite meme related to this scene.

We cut to Arena Ferox for Flavia’s summit. She advises us that Valm is, indeed, attacking with warships. Basilio greets us like Broken Matt Hardy only to say he knows someone who can tell us why Valm is attacking. It’s Virion, who’s not quite dead yet despite my best efforts. Apparently he’s been lying to us the whole time — he’s not just an asshole archer, he’s the Duke of Rosanne AND an asshole archer. We should really keep the Ambien away from him. Virion’s servant, Cherche, is also here. She’s not only more likeable than Virion by an infinite amount, but she also info dumps why Valm is attacking, as well as the fact that they attacked Virion’s country first. Apparently Virion is the rightful ruler of Rosanne, however I would never subject Sara Gilbert to that. Our new big bad that we’re going to need to worry about is Walhart the Conqueror and if his Smash Ultimate fight is any indication, he’ll likely be a bitch to kill.

Cherche gets some verbal slaps to Virion in here as well, but he keeps interrupting her. That said, Cherche has zero time for that, as she’s not only trying to seek aslyum, but she’s also very willing to kick Valm’s ass. Virion tells us that we’ll want to fight the Valmese army with units that have experience fighting against cavalry, but little does he know that we have a limited roster of characters to choose from, not to mention some more shipping to do. Chrom offers to volunteer Virion to fight the Valmese army himself, which not only formally ends the chapter, but also causes me to respect Chrom slightly more.

End of Level Recap

There was a bit more leveling up in these two chapters than I expected. Add in the couple of reeking box levels for Donnel — as well as the collateral experience other units gained — and the squad as a whole is in a good place for chapter 10 when we get back to the main story.

Units

  • Sumia – Level 17 Pegasus Knight
  • Sully – Level 15 Cavalier
  • Ricken – Level 15 Mage
  • Vaike – Level 14 Fighter
  • Cordelia – Level 14 Pegasus Knight
  • Tharja – Level 14 Dark Mage
  • Chrom – Level 12 Lord
  • Miriel – Level 12 Mage
  • Gaius – Level 12 Thief
  • Nowi – Level 11 Manakete
  • Kellam – Level 11 Knight
  • Gregor – Level 10 Mercenary
  • Christopher – Level 9 Tactician
  • Donnel – Level 8 Villager
  • Stahl – Level 7 Cavalier
  • Maribelle – Level 7 Pegasus Knight
  • Lon’qu – Level 7 Myrmidon
  • Lissa – Level 6 Pegasus Knight
  • Frederick – Level 5 Great Knight
  • Panne – Level 4 Thief
  • Libra – Level 1 War Monk
  • Olivia – Level 1 Dancer
  • Virion – Level 2 Pin Cushion

Supports

  • Tharja & Gaius: A to S
  • Cordelia & Libra: A to S
  • Kellam & Nowi: B to A
  • Sully & Donnel: C to B

Class Changes

  • Panne: Taguel to Thief

I’ll be doing some reeking box grinding before chapter 12 for reasons I’ll get into on that post. Hope you’re enjoying this series and would love to hear what you think in the comments.