Saturday, August 2, 2014

Let's Play ROTK X Part 3: Men Shouting on Bridges

It occurs to me that if I'd bothered to show off the stats screen at the beginning, I could have avoided losing three weeks' tuition money to my private army.  C'est la vie.

Here's a list of Meng's skills.  Each row of skills cover different aspects of the game.

The first row are the Job skills; they all boost the results of things a character might have to do between fights, from improving the farmlands, researching new technology, patrolling for bad guys, or hiring soldiers.  Meng starts with Repair, Order, and Drill, meaning he's good at rebuilding walls, fighting crime, and teaching peasants to stick them with the pointy end.

The second row are Battle skills.  These are Leadership-based abilities to be used in combat.  Charge lets you push enemies around the map, Missile lets you use fire arrows, Unison lets you surround enemies and attack them at once, Settle removed negative status effects, Rally buffs morale, Surprise lets you attack non-adjacent enemies, and Distract... I'm not actually sure what Distract does.

Third row are the Strategy skills.  These are also used in battle, but are based off your Intelligence stat.  Blunder makes two adjacent enemy units fight eachother, Stun stuns, Entice (despite its vaguely sexy name) taunts enemies, Confuse confuses, Aero lets you change the wind's direction (useful if you play with fire), Geo lets you dig pits for enemies to fall into, and Maze... actually doesn't get any use in battle, but does let you build Mazes on the world map instead of Forts.

Fourth row: Duel skills!  If you're fighting someone one-on-one, these help you beat their heads in more efficiently.  I'm sure I'll cover dueling in more depth, since it's one of the few things Meng's decent at, so I'll go into more detail later.

Fifth row: Debate skills!  ROTK X introduced a duel-like system for the nerdier characters.  Typically used to resolve diplomatic actions, debates are abstractly represented by two men standing on a bridge and shouting at eachother until one of them falls off.  Yeah, I don't know.  More detail for this coming later, but suffice it to say, debating is bullshit.  At least until you get Plead and Insight.  And then it's bullshit in the other direction.

Finally, the sixth row covers reknown skills.  These are earned in various ways, and give nice bonuses that help specialize your character's role in the world.  Meng starts with Admiral, meaning that when he's fighting in a boat, he won't be constantly dragged around by the tide.  The skill I really want for him is Warlord, which is going to require 70 Intelligence and a metric butt-ton of Tactics XP.  I'd also like to pick up Doctor, since I think it will help him prolong his life--and even if it won't, it's a fun skill to have.

Whew.  Let's see what the rest of the screens have in store!

Meng hasn't earned any skill XP yet, aside from 15 Order points for his stint as Captain Average in Luo Yang.  Which he doesn't need, because he starts with the Order skill.  Really should have looked at these screens first.

This tab keeps track of various things Meng has done in his life.  Right now, there isn't much to see.

Similarly, this screen tracks Meng's personal relationships.  I don't really know how one gets married in this game, but I do know that swearing oaths of brotherhood means getting your best friends drunk enough to do something stupid.  Vodka is magic.

Here's the screen that would have saved us some annoyance.  I'm not sure if it changes when you join up with a faction, since you can't have private armies then.  This might be the first time I've ever actually looked at it.

Finally, here's Meng's official in-game biography.  Created characters get one that changes depending on what faction they're in, what rank they are, and how badass/incompetent they are.  Sadly, the screen doesn't really track their history; a created general who served Shu for years before stabbing them in the back and joining Wei would just be described as "an officer under Cao Cao" thereafter, despite his heinous betrayal.

But enough about menus!  Let's get back to... other, prettier menus!

Last time, we were about to leave our home town behind, pack everything we own onto our horse, and take a gamble on a future in the big city.

Fortunately, moving in ROTK X is a lot easier than moving in real life.

So, we're here!  Of course, we're also flat broke, so we're going to have to earn some money again before we can go back to college.

Seriously, I didn't mean for this Let's Play to be such an on-the-nose metaphor for the conditions faced by modern-day students, but... damn.

Hmm.  We can Sell Product, which would be an easy 300 gold even if Trade experience is worthless to us.  We could play Captain Average again, earning War Order XP.  We could beat up a bandit and show off the dueling system.

Or, we can go chase down some punk kid (who is likely the same age as us) and tell him to go back home, earning enough for another trip to the School of INT and giving us some Tactics XP we'll need for Warlord in one go!

"I mean, the only thing they have there is fish.  Fish!  We have fish in Luo Yang!  Sure, they're all burnt up thanks to Dong Zhuo torching the place, but that just means they're pre-cooked!"

So, let's show off that city list menu I mentioned last time.

By default, selecing City opens up a map of China.  It's cool and all, but if you don't know where the city you're looking for is, it's not very helpful.

Fortunately, hitting L1 switches to list mode.  Now we just find Hui Ji...

Sixteen days.  It takes a little over a month to travel from one end of the map to the other.  I have no idea if that's realistic or not, but it means Hui Ji's a pretty good hike from us.

It's an uneventful trip.  If you look at the minimap, you can see that Hui Ji's on the far eastern coast.  Our future buddies Sun Ce and Sun Quan will be occupying this town sooner or later.

We head to the tavern and immediately spot the runaway.

Also, Lu Meng is 17.

Just pointing that out.

To my horror, this triggers a debate.

It does not go well.

So, let me explain what just happened.

Debates are, essentially, a card game.  Every turn, you draw up to your maximum hand size.  The hand size is (as I literally only figured out during this debate) determined by a character's Intelligence.  Every ten points gives you another card/orb thing.  When you use one of your orbs, you draw a new one, but the rest stay in your hand.

The Debate skills add more orbs to your deck.  Awe, seen in the video, is basically a passive damage-over-time effect.  As long as an Awe orb is on the board, you'll hit your opponent for a little damage at the start of every turn.  Other skills are more straightforward; Fault is a direct damage attack, Incite stuns your opponent for a couple turns, and Plead blocks an opponent's special command automatically as long as it's in your hand.  Argue, Taunt, and Refute are upgraded versions of those orbs that have additional effects.

Typically, the higher the number on your orb, the better.  However, if either character manages to match three orbs in a row of the same color on that grid at the bottom right, the number values flip and lower orbs become more powerful.  It also deals a pretty hefty attack to your opponent.  But if you manage to match three orbs of each different color, you get hit for a bunch instead.

So, basically, through a combination of being extremely dumb and extremely unlucky, we just got shouted off a bridge by a punk kid.  The fact that we, too, are a punk kid doesn't really make it less embarrassing.

"If your parents knew about this, do you know how it would make them feel."

Meng is dead inside.

Welp, back to Luo Yang.  But first...

... let's see if any undiscovered characters are hanging out here.

Nope.  Just... this.

I don't even know, man.

Well, I hope Fuckface McChang over there enjoys his exciting new life selling fish and fish-related accessories, because we are getting the hell out of here.

"I hate to admit it, but... I failed."

"What?  I was sure you of all people could handle it."

Have you met us?

Well, looks like we're going to have to find another way to pay for our tuition.  Next time, we'll try falling back on our brawn rather than our brains.  Captain Average, away!

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