Released in September 1999, Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 is the fifth installment of the series and takes place in between two chapters of the previous game, Seisen no Keifu. As a Japan-only release, the game's primary claim to fame to Western audiences is its introduction of the Rescue mechanic, wherein bigger units can carry smaller ones. As a corollary, it's also famous for this one mission where the game encourages you to rescue units liberally, and then destroys you if you did.
Best time: 2:06:24 by Wesley 'Molotov' Corron on 2011-02-22, done in 34 segments.
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Starting with the thanks section, as always:
- Nitrodon, for planning almost everything. If I don't mention who planned it, assume he did.
- ChinaFE (www.fireemblem.net), for the plan during the first three chapters.
- TheNextUser (GameFAQs), for the Chapter 2x plan.
- The guy who made the Chapter 4 chest placement generator: http://hpcgi1.nifty.com/mickeyinu/fe/rand/fe5_c4.html
- People who expressed interest/watched this run on YouTube. Do I have to say why?
As for actual comments, I'd like to start by saying that this isn't the hardest Fire Emblem game. Some people just kind of got that impression a while back and it hasn't completely died out yet. (The real winner is Shin Monshou (12) on Lunatic Reverse. Anybody who says otherwise clearly has screws loose.)
Before I started the run, I asked Mike twice before about whether Elite mode (doubles experience gained) would be allowed on SDA as a separate category. The first time he said no, but the second time he seemed on the fence about it. After doing two test runs on an emulator, it seemed pretty clear that Normal mode was perfectly doable. I chose to just do it on Normal to save Mike extra hassle and so people might think the run was more impressive.
Also, for those of you not familiar with the game, it has two versions: Nintendo Power and ROM. The Nintendo Power version was released in 1999 through a download-service (to generic cartridges). The ROM version was released in 2000 as a proper cartridge. The only difference worth noting is that the Nintendo Power version has a maximum rank of AAA, but the ROM version goes up to SSS (AAA -> S -> SS -> SSS).
I did this run on the Nintendo Power cartridge, because my SNES controller is much better than my Gamecube Hori pad. Another good reason is that I'm too poor to afford the Thracia 776 deluxe set ($200+), which comes with the ROM version and a whole bunch of goodies. Even the ROM version cartridge (with box/manual) sells for around $120+, so you can understand why I don't have that either. For reference, I bought the Nintendo Power cartridge loose for around $80 total.
Anyway, all this means is that you'll see an AA rank at the end of this run instead of SS, like it would've been if I had used the Virtual Console (ROM) version. Minor, but I would've enjoyed seeing that more.
Oh, and one last thing for people unfamiliar with this game: Some characters have "re-move" stars. This is a fixed stat that gives a character a 5% chance to move again after ending his/her turn. The maximum is 25% (5 stars). It's pretty obvious, but when it triggers, you'll see a music note appear above that unit's sprite. This mechanic only exists (so far) in Thracia 776, and leads to a lot of broken things.
Chapter comments...probably pasted from YouTube (have a cookie for each one you spot):
Chapter 1: This plan is straight from the ChinaFE SSS rank run. The Live Ring goes to Leaf this time though, because he likes the extra durability during Chapter 5.
If you were wondering, I didn't make use of Eyvel's re-moves because they were not in the plan. They technically waste 1 second each, but considering just how bad Leaf's growths are, I considered this attempt good enough.
Chapter 2: This plan is also from ChinaFE. You can skip Chapter 2x by letting a bandit destroy one of the houses, but it's not wise to do that in a run. You'd miss out on both Rifis and Saphy, the latter being extremely important.
I pick up the Speed Ring for Leaf to use in 2x. This is also for Chapter 5, but he certainly doesn't mind having extra evade throughout the game either.
Also, Eyvel's re-move was necessary on turn 2 or 3 to kill the boss quicker. I seemed to think that killing him stops the reinforcements, but it might have just been random good luck. Whatever the case, I saved time by avoiding those three extra dudes.
Chapter 2x: This is almost a complete copy of TheNextUser's (GameFAQs name) plan. It's a very nice one that doesn't involve much luck outside of Eyvel actually killing the freaking Warrior at the end. You'd be amazed just how bad she is at doing that.
I would've preferred that she spare the first Warrior so that Leaf could get a massive load of experience, but that didn't happen this time around. This wasn't part of the actual plan anyway, so it was just something that would've been nice.
Chapter 3: This chapter was completely ridiculous for many reasons, and took over 500 attempts. The first and most obvious reason is the luck needed for Repair to miss. This is a 16% chance at best, and only gets harder if you let Saphy gain skill. (That's not relevant here though, thankfully.)
After that, there's the constant problem of execution. The plan here involves everyone I have at some point or another. Things get nasty when I have to move so many people in a single turn, and a lot of attempts actually ended on the first turn because of that.
Finally, I had to worry about enemy growths. If that Mage or the Soldier near him gained movement, I needed to restart. If the Archers that Ronan fought were too beefy, I needed to restart. If that Soldier that Halvan fought was freaking Superman (no, seriously), I needed to restart.
In fact, the restarts got so bad that I literally started to memorize RNG patterns. If Othin gained HP and luck in his level up, I knew for sure that Leaf and Eyvale would BOTH get re-move. I also knew that such an attempt couldn't succeed because of enemy growths.
On the other hand, I recognized the RNG pattern in this attempt as being mostly friendly. Dagdar can't hit a barn anyway, so I can't complain too much about his battle with that tin can. I also don't want to complain about Ronan's useless double re-move, because it was a sign that I was on track.
Anyway, about the plan, Nitrodon suggested a while back that I should clear out the goons outside before setting up the rescue train. He also said that I should avoid luring the Soldier near the boss and the Bow Armor outside. I took his advice on all of those things and I like the way the plan came out.
Chapter 4: This chapter is a good example of how poor the RNG is in this game. The chest placement has 64 different formations, chosen randomly at some point. Because I need the useful items in a convenient location, that means I had to reset until I saw the formation I wanted.
The initial plan for this chapter was to stick to formation 18 for the chest placement. This would have allowed me to skip the bottom right room entirely and I would've obtained the Hezul scroll instead of a Lockpick (like you see here).
Formation 10 is the one I ended up sticking with, because I noticed in a couple attempts that Lara could gain re-move after her first move. This would allow me to either skip the Rifis scene on turn 1, or get the Rapier. I decided that the Rapier was the smarter move, because Felgus wanted it in Chapter 5.
I had a plan set out in stone for this chapter, so I at least had an idea for the parts where I was winging it (cookies if you can spot each one). Picking up the second Lockpick was an accident, by the way.
Chapter 5: This is one of the major roadblock chapters in any type of playthrough. It's incredibly long and a lot of your characters just plain suck. Things get worse in a speed run because you need Leaf to be a manly man, which is a ridiculous concept this early.
So yeah, the real problem with this chapter is the insane amount of luck required. I won't bother pointing out every little detail, but if you can think of some ridiculous attempt-ending bad luck, I probably witnessed it. The icing on the cake (by far) was Nanna missing at 99% on the last freaking battle. The attempt up to that point was amazing, so it really burned.
As you can see, this segment is by no means perfect. After putting hundreds of attempts into the chapter and only getting three successful completions though, you must understand why I picked the quickest one and left it at that.
Chapter 6: The optimization in this chapter was really annoying because at the time, I thought scene skips were 100% mashing. My best mashing comes out to around 6 or 7 presses per second, which is just pitiful for this kind of thing. That's why I picked something that was fairly good by my standards and went with it.
Chapter 7: Saphy needed a Repair miss and a chance to use Live once. Fin wanted to gain strength here too, because he needed it for the boss of Chapter 10.
Important note: Leidrick just invited Leaf's group over for tea. That's totally in the game. Why do you doubt me?
Chapter 8: Nitrodon's original plan for this chapter involved using Repair twice (one miss, one hit) and then Libro until Saphy hit A staves. This was a perfectly reasonable plan, because the alternative would've been using Repair three times and hoping two of them miss. The odds of that happening are ridiculously low.
During practice, I actually got the double Repair miss on two different attempts. This was enough to make me think that it was possible for the real thing.
After successfully recording a 4:35 run using the original plan, I started going for a double Repair miss, no poison attempt. The Repair thing already made it a longshot, and avoiding poison five times didn't exactly make it any easier. I would've actually been fine if Leaf got poisoned at the end, but that was super rare anyway.
You'll notice that my nerves get to me on the shopping turn, but I think that's understandable. Also, you have to love Fin's boss fighting strategy: "Drag out the fight for as long as possible." Thanks dude.
Chapter 9: Another "mash" chapter. Leaf had a short time using the Elite Sword I got during this chapter, but it was mostly for Mareeta in 14.
Chapter 10: Wondering why I promoted Fin? This is why. Largo is just unfair at this point in the game and the throne makes him even worse. Promoted Fin is the most reasonable option for beating him in a speed run, since you don't get Asvel (who would make things so much easier).
Chapter 11: This chapter is impossible to 1-turn, even in a TAS. The reason is that Kempf is literally immortal during this chapter. He only teleports away after you attempt to hit him, so that's why I attacked.
Chapter 12: I moved Karin on turn 1 because if she stayed put, I would have to watch three bandits move toward my group. The camera would then have to scroll from all the way back there for the Mareeta scene.
Without watching those guys move, the camera moves from the much closer spot where Fin and Leaf are. I'm not even sure it saves much time, but it sure looks better. That's all that matters, right?
Chapter 12x: This chapter was annoying. Saphy liked to miss and Tina wasn't allowed to do anything at all. I tried to optimize this further, but for some odd reason, this one was always the best version.
Chapter 13: This chapter is the reason that the flunkies escaped in Chapter 9. Without them, I would've been forced to leave other (possibly good) units behind or just go the super slow route.
Chapter 14: The reason why this chapter is so long is because I needed to train Mareeta here. This is the only good place to do that and I needed her to be a good fighter for the rest of the game.
Also, I'm aware that this segment has at least two dumb mistakes. The reason I stuck with it is because it was quicker than a previous attempt and this one actually met all the luck requirements. That means:
1. Mareeta needs 16+ strength and 8+ movement.
2. Mareeta must NOT have the same build as Leaf (8).
3. Mareeta needs to actually survive and kill stuff from time to time.
4. Othin needs to survive. Level up gains will always suck, so those don't matter.
Meeting all of these requirements in the same attempt is much harder than you'd expect. Most of the time, Mareeta would just take a lance to the face and fall over. Heck, I've even seen her go down from a Hammer hit at around 5%. Seriously.
(Poor Baldack. All he wanted was a chance at combat, but those flunkies would have none of it.)
Chapter 15: Dean is a nice guy, so attempts for this chapter went very smoothly. Amalda was actually a bigger pain than the re-move, simply because she would randomly suck at fighting.
It's also a good thing the A route is the way to go, since that meant I could just mash A at the end.
Chapter 16A: Saphy needed to gain skill (for less ARGH later) and Mareeta needed to gain strength (NOT build). Saphy's skill growth is supposedly 45%, but in my experience, it's much lower than that.
As much as I tried to improve this, it just wasn't happening. On the super rare occasions that Saphy gained skill, Mareeta would fail to kill the boss in one hit. So while execution may have been better in those attempts, the fight still ruined everything. Fun times.
Chapter 17A: This chapter was quite a pain to complete. Leaf has no clue what the word "dodge" means, but he's familiar with "ARGH." I am too, actually. Especially when I accidentally deleted the save file for the previous version of this chapter.
That version was 3:02 because Mareeta killed the boss in one hit. I tried so many times to repeat that, but the best I came up with was 3:07 (which is what you see here, obviously).
Lesson learned: Be more careful with save management.
Chapter 18: The Body Ring was for Leaf, because the Blaggi Sword weighs a ton and he needed it to fight Ains in 25. (Turns out that he gained build like a madman anyway, just to spite me.)
Also, I had a one-hit kill version of this recorded, but it was actually slower than this one. Go figure.
Chapter 19: Thanks to Nitrodon's deployment plan, this chapter is a breeze. All of the unimportant units are on the bottom half of the map, so I didn't lose anybody valuable.
Because this chapter was ridiculously simple to complete, I had a bit of trouble optimizing it to my liking. For a while, it seemed like 51 seconds was my limit, due to all the mashing involved. It actually turns out that it's better to time your input instead.
Judging from my emulator tests, it looks like a quick-skip (at least for escape quotes) is a 3-frame window. If you don't hit that, you're forced to wait for a bit longer. The key appears to be pressing the buttons (Start/B) when the screen fully fades.
Since the window is so small, I was content with 3 skips. The one at the end was just a bonus.
Chapter 20: Completing this chapter is easy. Completing this chapter quickly is not. The reason for this is because the plan calls for an absolutely unreasonable amount of luck. It's also one of those things that you have to experience for yourself to fully understand what I mean.
To help give you an idea, the planning SMVs that Nitrodon would usually provide were done without any re-records. This even included Chapter 5 of all things. This chapter though? He used 19 re-records. Seriously, that speaks volumes about how stupid this chapter is.
First up is the fact that Pahn sucks at fighting those armors. He would often die, forcing a reset. Leaving those armors to roam around for 12 turns would probably be slower than fighting them, by the way. I only tested total pacifist (which was incredibly slow), not a version that spares just those guys.
Next is that Sara dies in one hit to anything. Someone could seriously hit her with a feather and she would die instantly. So for the first three attacks (possibly four), she was somewhat fond of ending attempts. After promotion though, she's practically immortal in this chapter.
The next idiot in the pattern is Othin. Yes, Othin. Without growth-boosting scrolls, I am totally convinced that he is an utter garbage unit who should be insulted everytime an opportunity presents itself. He was extremely unreliable in his area, which is why Saphy had to watch over him.
Also in his area, a random armor would often make it too far toward the castle entrance. This wrecked a ton of attempts, because by the time Othin would get free time to deal with that enemy, it would waste A LOT of time chasing him down. On top of that, chasing him down means one of the reinforcement goons won't be blocked, wasting even more time.
Finally, we have Mareeta. Rock-solid, dependable unit when fully trained, but when asked to kill Baraat in one round...not so much. This wasn't the worst part though. What got me was adding this on top of everything else.
So yeah, I hate Chapter 20. Can you tell?
Chapter 21: Have I mentioned how much Othin sucks yet? I have? Well, here's another fun thing that made me hate him more: He didn't gain build up to this point (25% growth). He needed exactly 1 extra build to capture Funf in 25, and this was the only combat he'd get before then.
The luck I needed here was: 63% hit/25% critical + 63% hit/100% critical + 25% build growth. Not fun, but also not incredibly unfair like Chapter 20 was.
Chapter 21x: This chapter took far longer than you might think, but only because Tina never gets re-move. It just doesn't happen for me.
I tried improving this for a long time, but every time I had a real attempt going, a flunky would re-move (like you see here). Ronan was the worst offender, but Homer and Dean are also guilty of ruining attempts.
By the way, moving everyone out of range is actually faster than eating Thunderstorm x2 and Blizzard. I used a stopwatch and letting them attack was 5 seconds slower (possibly 3 or 4 if everyone survives).
Chapter 22: I tried to go without the M Up to save time, but for some reason, my attempts kept turning out to be 2 or 3 seconds slower. Add in the fact that M Up makes things less frustrating, and you can see why I used it.
I think the real secret to optimizing this chapter was the unintentional re-move from Sara. Dancing is crazy slow by comparison.
Chapter 23: At the time I worked on this chapter, I didn't know that the Blaggi Sword is automatically obtained from completing the chapter with Cyas still alive. Nitrodon sent me a private message about that, but I didn't see it until I had already completed this segment.
I don't think it really made much of a difference, considering I got a half-skip and Cyas re-moved to safety.
Depending on a 5% re-move after a few minutes of hoping Leaf survives and doesn't get blocked was fun, by the way. So very fun.
Chapter 24: The tea story, by request:
After a very long and stressful year, Leaf and his gang of misfits finally show up at Leidrick's house. They had not forgotten his invitation to come over for tea.
Inside the throne room, Leaf and Mareeta are offered seats while the tea is prepared. Mareeta and Galzus spend their time reminiscing about the old days. Leaf, overly excited about finally having a good cup of tea, fidgets anxiously in his chair.
After a short while (that seemed like an eternity to Leaf), the tea is served. "I hope you enjoy it," says Leidrick. "I've been saving my best green tea for just this occasion."
Leaf, horrified by the flavor, immediately spits it out all over Leidrick's face. "What is this awful taste? After the long journey we took to get here, you serve us THIS?"
Completely enraged, Leaf turns to Galzus and says, "Kill him." Leidrick struggles to wipe the hot tea from his eyes and defend himself, but it's too late. Mere seconds later, Leidrick crumples to the floor.
Knowing what he had just done, Galzus seems very pleased with himself as he hums a little tune. "Alright guys," said Leaf, "let's go find out where the old man was keeping the good stuff."
Chapter 25: Small note about this preparation segment: I had an optimized version to my liking, but then realized I had forgotten to give Sara Warp. I noticed this error after I had already "burned the bridge" by making three copies of the post-preparation version.
I panicked over this for a while and then decided to just cover up that mistake "off-camera." I did this by moving everything back to the original spots and then re-saving the file. So what you see here is actually what came after that. I told Mike about this and he obviously didn't care, but said I should make note of it anyway. If this game had a timer, I would've been screwed. :P
But anyway, thanks to Nitrodon's deployment (and chapter!) plan, I end up with a team that works well for each area. The only two units that don't need to be in any specific spot are Tina and Delmud. Funny that those are the same two that rarely survived attempts.
This chapter is harder than it looks, since the luck requirement is fairly high. I moved Othin first because if he got hit, it would be pointless to continue the attempt. He's not likely to dodge those armors (see the video for proof) and I didn't need to make things any more difficult.
Leaf's area mostly suffered from the fact that Fenrir guy liked to move before the second armor. This would totally screw up the plan and allow a second Fenrir to be used. That obviously wasn't allowed to happen.
Sara's area had the problem of Drei randomly not cooperating. He needed to be the only survivor after one enemy phase (sometimes two). He randomly liked to leave one armor alive, or even just die from a lucky critical. Sara also had to worry about not having enough magic to Silence one of the goons. That happened far too often.
Mareeta's area barely had any luck involved. Delmud could fail to kill the Dark Mage, but that was rare. Pretty much the only thing that can go wrong here happened in this video. I kept going because I knew a bump in the road like that means nothing if the rest of my luck was solid. (Trust me, I made enough attempts to know this was a wise decision.)
Sety's area didn't involve much luck either. Not having enough magic to Silence a goon and failing to kill Zwei were both incredibly rare. The former was particularly annoying, considering just how awesome that means a Dark Mage was.
Galzus' area was not very pleasant to work with. I didn't reset if he got poisoned (again, I knew better), but he still had issues with those armors not attacking him at all. Only one attacking him was fine, but if both of them stayed away, it slowed things down a little.
The real problem with his area was Zwolf. His hit rate with a Master Axe and Charisma support was a whopping 47%. The Fire Sword would've had 67%, but I didn't use it because I preferred having four attacks to trigger skills on.
Othin's area was mostly a pain at the beginning, for obvious reasons. He needed to dodge at around 60%, which is something he's amazingly bad at (just like everything else!).
After that, I needed to counter kill those armors. I had enough Pugi to do the job, but I switched to the Hero Axe because 65 x4 seemed better to me than 75 x2. This proved to be the correct choice, as you can see.
The second turn is much easier than the first, and things just loosen up from turn three on. My execution started to get kind of shaky closer to the halfway and end points, but I was pretty nervous by then.
I had an attempt before then that magically got sub-9 minutes, but had this awful trainwreck of execution mistakes right at the end. This set cost me almost six full seconds and I was determined this time to not repeat that, no matter how nervous I was. I mostly succeeded. :)
Said previous attempt was actually the one I was considering keeping, simply because it stomped all the others at that point. I came back to it later though and was going to give it one more session of attempts. This version beat the other one by 12 seconds, which is something I'm very pleased with.
So yeah, the chapter comments are finished now. Hopefully you had more fun watching the run than I did making it. Then again, that wouldn't be hard at all...
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