Time passes, as time does.

Surely you remember Flik, Odessa's boyfriend from back in the Liberation Army's sewer days. Well, now he's shown up and is throwing some cockiness around, demanding to know Odessa's whereabouts. It is, of course, vitally important that we keep up the charade that she's still alive, so Mathiu arrives shortly to feed him some line about how she's out doing PR work or organizing a Rock the Vote campaign or something--

..or, uh, not. Apparently the Liberation is big and bad enough to handle the truth now, so Mathiu comes along and drops the bad news. Predictably, this cause Flik to pitch a fit; he calls ○∆□☆ names for a while, then insists that Humphrey and Sanchez to run away with him.

It speaks! Looks like ○∆□☆ has already won Humphrey over with his boyish whimsies. Sanchez pipes up with some encouragement too, but he's ugly so I won't show him.

Flik picks up his toys and leaves to start his very own army. The No-○∆□☆ Army. No ○∆□☆s allowed!

Viktor and ○∆□☆ follow Flik to Kaku to talk some sense into him, but by the time they arrive it looks like Flik's already changed his mind. This brashness of his is the very reason Odessa tried to warn him against. Flik's epiphany leads him to believe that he is absolutely not fit for command, but that Odessa must have trusted ○∆□☆ for a reason, so he decides to come along after all.

040/108: Flik
Even Suikoden, a game with a cast of thousands, has a few characters who quite simply outclass everyone else. Flik is that character. He fights on the front line (with a sword named after his dead girlfriend, no less), dealing out damage easily on par with some of the top brute-strength characters, and his rune magic goes all the way up to L4. He comes pre-stocked with a Lightning Rune (our second) but it's not welded on, so we can give him whatever we want. There are only a few characters who have both top-shelf melee and magic ability, but there are enough to fill a party with them, and Flik outclasses them all. The game forces you to use Flik in a few key scenes, not the least of which is the endgame.

After we drag Flik back to Eureka's Castle, he spills the beans: Milich Oppenheimer has taken control of the western half of the Scarlet Moon Empire, and is busting the heads of the local rebel groups. The idea is to smash Milich's armies and unite those rebel groups under the banner of the Liberation. First, though, we have to clear out Garan Fortress so we can march our troops over.

Garan is the place we found Kai earlier. Nobody special here, just a contingent of soldiers to rough up, so the battle goes pretty smoothly.

In fact, they're already pretty well shaking in their greaves by the time ○∆□☆ and his posse show up.

Good job, Krin! Well done! Since the enemy is going to Charge us, we know we can safely counter with Magic, so...

...free casualties! Will Giovanni, too, carry his weight?

Nope! Look, pal, you can keep the chump change. ○∆□☆ wouldn't even bend over to pick that up off the ground.

So okay. When you've got the numbers like this, but you don't know what the enemy is doing, your best bet is to Charge. If they Arrow you will squish them, and if they Charge both sides suffer damage, so it's about a 2/3 shot of winning. They'll lay the spank down if they Magic, but Magic seems to be the rarest attack and is only used by certain bad guys. These bad guys don't even have a name, so I'm betting they don't have a Magic attack either.

It was a pretty good bet! Thus is Garan emptied of Imperial troops, giving us access to Milich's domain.

Mathiu's idea is to put together an away team to find out what the score is over there before rushing into things. You might recall my previous away team got locked in jail, ran errands for a grumpy dwarf, and failed to save the elf village from burnination.

Five minutes ago Flik was lamenting about what a shitty leader he is, and now he's overriding our genuis military strategist. Naturally everyone does in fact follow him; you don't even get a set of options to try and weasel your way out of it.

Thus the Liberation Army marches immediately on to Scarleticia Castle, home to the fabulous General Milich Oppenheimer.

Wait, is that... a giant rose? Growing out of the castle, there?

Pollen? Um... that sounds kind of magical.

Surely no measley flower can stand up to a mighty barrage of arrows!

Holy shitballs but that's a lot of dead Liberation guys.

Excellent idea, Sanchez! If only someone had suggested that before a swishy guy in a giant flower castle schooled us!

Of course.

Dude, considering your collossal screw-up just caused 6000 men to die, you're lucky we don't string you up like a tax thief.

Viktor tries everything he can think of to get Gremio to stay home, which basically amounts to him talking a lot about hunches. Of course Gremio will have none of it; if ○∆□☆ is away who is left to pull on his ears?

"But thou must!"

Fine, fine, if you're going to be a crybaby about it, you can come. Just make sure you pee before we leave the restaurant, we're not going to stop once we get on the road.

Interestingly enough, the Fortress of Garan (which is really just more of a bridge) isn't the only way into Milich's lands; you can also sail across Lake Toran to the town of Teien. The game prevents you from landing in Teien early by putting a couple guards in town to chase you away. Which reminds me...

Hey peanut gallery!
It's the nature of RPGs to block off sections of the game world the player isn't supposed to get to yet. But really, magic guards? There have got to be some more inventive ways to keep the player on track, ones that don't involve two NPC sprites that supposedly represent enemies we've killed by the truckload. So let's brainstorm! How do you keep the players out of Town-You-Aren't-Supposed-To-Go-To-Yet without making the player roll his eyes? What are some of the more creative methods you've seen?

Just here on the Teien docks we have Eikei, which is pronounced "eye-key-eye-eye-key-eye". He's virtually impossible to recruit right now, he requires ○∆□☆ to be at least L40 before he'll throw in with him, and due to the way experience works in Suikoden it would take longer to grind out those twelve levels than it would to just play on forward and gain them naturally. Eikei is a character you want to recruit the split second you roll over onto L40, though, because he comes equipped with the Double-beat RUne. This fantastically awesome rune lets the user attack twice in one round, which makes it one of the only runes in the game that give you a benefit if you're addicted to Free Will like I am. (The other is the Killer Rune, which ups your critical hit rate. In Suiko2 and onward you can give both of these runes to one of your heavy-hitters to turn him into an engine of destruction.)

This guy's so stuffy, he won't even open the door to his house. Isn't there anyone in this town we can recruit?

Apparently not! See, all those freebies we got in our last recruitment drive were just to get our toes wet. Going forward almost everyone we meet will have a condition we must fulfill first. Well, almost everyone. There is one pretty important freebie left...

Old Granny Hellion to the rescue! The Blinking Mirror functions exactly like the old bat says; use it and we'll be whisked away back to Eureka's Castle faster than we can, well, blink. Actually, "blinking" is the term for teleportation in the Suikoverse. We have no way to tell until Suiko2, but Viki's rune is called the Blinking Rune as well.

041/108: Hellion
Hellion is not only a strong caster, but she comes attached with a Mother Earth Rune, our first powered-up elemental rune! It's glued-on, but nothing's stopping us from putting her in the party. In fact, there's a task we've got coming up in an update or two where I like to use her for exactly that purpose.

VITALLY IMPORTANT: your first move after obtaining the Blinking Mirror is to put it in ○∆□☆'s inventory. Characters come and go at the drop of a hat in Suikoden, even characters that have been in your army forever. Actually, this is especially true of characters who have been in the army forever; don't fall into a trap like "Oh, okay, Viktor's always in my party anyway, he can hold it!" because when he takes a vacation (and no lie he does this at one point) he will take the Blinking Mirror with him, leaving you to walk around like a chump*. What's more, sometimes certain characters will be silently removed from your roster for plot-related purposes, and if one of those guys has your mirror you're up a similar creek. The only person you can be absolutely sure it at your disposal 100% of the time is ○∆□☆, so save yourself the headache and just give it to him.

*Can you tell that this has actually happened to me before?

There are two more towns in this region, which means an overland hike to add them to Viki's warp-to list. Running into these guys is part of the master plan, since they (somewhat uncommonly) drop a plot item ○∆□☆ is going to need to recruit someone. Like all "wait for the monster drop" subquests this usually works out to you running circles getting slowly but steadily more furious with the game until either A) it successfuly drops (much to the benefit of your blood pressure) or B) you snap the controller in frustration and vow to never touch the game ever again.

HO-LEE SHIT. Guys, I have played me some Suikoden over and over again for more than a decade, and I have never seen the Nameless urn drop on the first try. First Antonio, now this... it's like the game is actively throwing me a bone. There are two more characters that have random elements involved in their recruitment, so I won't count all my chickens yet, but still: nice!

Here we've arrived in Antei. After Milich took control he renamed all the cities under his jurisdiction to be, well... fruity. Seriously though, Qlon here doesn't have any right to complain about hard-to-pronounce names. Qlon sounds less like a little boy and more like, oh I don't know, a remote monastery where monks sit around meditating and watching the stars.

Well okay! But only since you asked so nicely.

042/108: Chapman
Chapman opens up an armor store in Eureka's Castle. Like Chandler's hardware store, he'll stock anything you've seen in any other armor store in the world. This means it's less important from here on out to Detach folks' gear into the vault for newbies to use, a practice which is only vital so you didn't have to run all over creation making sure everyone has the best hat or whatever. True, it's more expensive to outfit everyone from scratch, but it's not like I have any shortage of money, is it?

Unfortunately, no runemaster for me yet. As mentioned earlier some character require the castle to be completed to a certain level before they'll join. Right now Eureka's Castle is in its second phase; Jeane won't join until its in the third. In fact, some of the freebies we've been getting (like Hellion and Chapman) might require phase two as well, but I don't know that I've ever gotten this far in the game without building my castle up to that point. Anyway, we'll come back here later.

Apparently Mathiu is into drunken skanks. Well, we all have our weaknesses.

This is Esmeralda, THE MOST USELESS CHARACTER IN THE GAME. Sure, there are lots of characters who don't actually do anything, but they can be said to have a Usefulness Rating of zero. Esmeralda easily dips down into the negative numbers, since she won't allow herself to be "kidnapped" until you present her with a gift. Which, naturally, is a rare item that drops off exactly one creature in the world. We can't meet that creature yet, it lives in a dungeon we haven't been to, but I have spent no kidding upwards of two hours waiting on a drop before. Argh.

Mina won't dance with you unless ○∆□☆ is wearing Toe Shoes, which you'll recall I picked up in a treasure box back when Eureka's Castle was still a fog-filled dragon's nest. As it happens you can buy Toe Shoes right here in Antei, which means Chapman also stocks them. ○∆□☆ is still wearing his original pair because, believe it or not, they still provide the best stat boost out of all the accessories I've found so far.

What I love about the dance is that Mina is exceptionally well-animated; she spins around, teases the audience with her fan, and basically just gets funky. ○∆□☆, on the other hand, just hops in place a few times.

Oh, believe me, I can tell. wink wink, nudge nudge.

043/108: Mina
Mina is a combat character, believe it or not, though I've never used her. Hopefully she's more along the lines of, say, Meg, outclassed by other people, but still decent enough to use; and not Sansuke or Sergei, whose stats are so low an empty space would be statistically superior.

All done in Antei, so let's travel south to the village of Rikon. Here's Jabba, the self-proclaimed best appraiser in the world. His schtick is, if you bring him something he can't appraise, he will join your army. Luckily I have this here Nameless Urn! (I don't know what he does for people who don't have their own army.)

044/108: Jabba
Jabba opens up an appraisal shop right in Eureka's Castle for my convenience. Also he makes female members of the Liberation prance around in gold bikinis for his amusement. Ha ha, Star Wars joke. Brickroad, you're so awesome!

I do in fact know where Lotte's lost cat is (and if you don't, a quick warp to all the towns in the game you can get to will reveal it pretty quick), but you can't actually complete the subquest for her until she specifically asks you to, which is dependant on the phase of the castle. Lotte won't need my help until Eureka's Castle is in its third phase, so not much else to do here in Rikon.

Standing on the opposite side of the Bridge of Garan from where we met Kai much earlier is Quincy, who at least has the decency to tell us exactly how many more recruits we'll need before she'll sign up. Let's see... Jabba makes 44 total, 36 + 44 = 80... so we'll come back and visit Quincy once our eightieth star is in place.

Finally, one last town we haven't explored yet: the kobold village. You can't warp directly here, as it's considered part of the same location as the forest path and the human village on the other side, so the best we can do is warp to the elves' burned tree and walk from there.

Rubi has similar requirements to Eikei; he won't join us until Kirkis is at least L40. Again, grinding out these levels is next to impossible. We'll just wait until the average party level is about that, throw Kirkis in for a while to build him up, then return.

Next on the agenda is to pay this guy's tab: a paltry 10,000 bits.

045/108: Fu Su Lu
I'm not really clear on what Fu Su Lu is, but he's pretty goddamn powerful. He's slow and tends to miss a lot, but give him a Double-beat or Killer Rune and he becomes nearly impossible to outdamage with regular attacks.

It's, uh, a war, dude. Not a day spa. You might like get stabbed in the gut with a spear or something and die. I mean, yeah, we have Arts and Crafts Wednesdays and weekly square dance-offs, but... well, okay, fine. Your little friend can come, Kuromimi. Just make sure to put paper down, okay?

046/108: Gon
I mentioned back in the Gaspar post that the LUK stat may or may not have some relation to how often or how quickly you win while gambling. Just to be on the safe side, though, put Gon in your party; his LUK stat is well over 100, whereas most other "high" LUK stats are in the 80s or 90s. I don't know that I've ever used him outside of the castle, although there is a fairly good chance he and Kuromimi have a Unite Attack.

Well, that's everything. No one else I can recruit until castle phase three. So...

...wait, what's this!? Looks like Fu Su Lu and Gon put me right over the phase three threshhold! This is pretty lucky considering the game practically handed Antonio and Jabba to me, neither of which are guarantees. A bunch more characters become available now, so let's put Viki's Blinking Rune to work!

First stop: Kouan, where we are apparently manly enough now for Lorelai.

047/108: Lorelai
Lorelai is a character I never thought much about until Suiko5, where she plays a fairly large role in the story. Her gig is scouring the world for Sindar (or Cyndar, depending on the game) Ruins and piecing together their lost civilization. There may or may not be any such ruins in the Scarlet Moon Empire, so in Suiko1 she's just presented as a stock mysterious adventurer. Interesting side-note about Lorelai is that, unlike every other character who shows up more than once in the series, she changes her weapon from game to game. She uses a bow now, but 15-ish years ago she used to use a whip (back in the time of Suiko5), and in three years she'll use some weird sickle-thing.

Back in Mathiu's house in Seika, the president of his fan club is looking for him. Apple treats us like dirt for having "stolen" Mathiu away from her (or whatever), but sets off to Eureka's Castle anyway to hang out with him.

048/108: Apple
Apple is a much more important character in the next two games where she helps form the backbone of your strategist team. In Suiko1 she basically just yells at you whenever you talk to her, although her place on Mathiu's team in mass combat situations probably gives an increase to your Charge attack boost, so we won't begrudge her that.

Kitty subquest get!

Kitty get!

Lotte get!

049/108: Lotte
All I know about Lotte is that she's a magician. How good of a magician, and whether or not she's worth replacing anyone on the team, I'm not sure. What do you guys think? (By the way, she loses her cat again the split second she arrives in Eureka's Castle.)

The castle's also big enough now for Jeane, the runemaster who snubed us earlier.

050/108: Jeane
Jeane is the other character who has been in all five Suikoden games. The extent to which she is willing to join you varies nearly as much as how much clothing she wears; in some games she's dressed in a sexy black gown and will come along right when you ask, in others she's in a dental floss bikini and makes you jump through a bunch of hoops first. Like Viki she can be assigned to the party in later games, but not in this one. She also hasn't developed her trademark "hee hee" yet.

With Jeane, Jabba, Chapman and Chandler on the roster, Eureka's Castle's shopping strip is complete! Gaspar is off in the corner next to Jeane, Marie's inn is on the other side of that wall, and Maas'n'Meese's Superfantastic Blacksmithery is upstairs, across the way from Rock's vault. I still have to visit shops in other areas in order to add to the Eureka's Castle inventory, but outside of that I can take care of all my outfitting needs right here in the comfort of my own home.

Hey peanut gallery!
Time to pick a group for the next scenario. Right now it looks like Eileen, Sheena and Humphrey are topping the charts, and of course votes for the new blood I just picked up are going to count too!

As always, the current master list is right here.

Countdown to Quincy: 30 Stars of Destiny

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