Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 099: Bravely Run Away!
For once, I start with a bit of a “show note” of my own. As Steve mentioned, I will probably be moving the Tuesday Talking (Dead Suns) to Mondays – it was going to be this week, but I had surprise guests in town for the holiday weekend and things got away from me. The big motivation for me is easing confusion – it seems like a bit of a disconnect to have the Plaguestone episode and Dead Suns Talking Combat release on the same day. If I move this to Mondays, it kinda closes the book on each in sequence – Plaguestone airs Tuesday, Talking on Thursday; Dead Suns airs Friday, Talking on Monday. I think it makes more sense that way; it just turns out I needed an extra week to get with the program.
Does it count that it FEELS like a Monday because of the holiday?
This week, we complete the big fight against Malice and its minions. A close call, but we live to fight another day.
The first thing I noticed is it’s about 15 minutes until I actually get to say anything this episode. Part of it is as simple as being at the tail end of the initiative order – my turn didn’t come up, what are you gonna do? I’ll also admit I was a little self-conscious about talking with my Hobo Mic when it came time to discuss the inner workings of grenades. But I have to admit I was a little amused to be cruising along almost 15 minutes into the action and then have the narrator pop in with my intro.
I don’t know if this fight was statistically the closest call we’ve had – with Xavra, the final Solarian boss fight on Istamak, we actually had people drop and didn’t even have CHDRR – but this just felt like it could go either way right down to the wire. I think the big difference was group damage. Xavra had group damage, but it was centered on him and could be mitigated by spreading out so he couldn’t focus on more than one of us at a time. In this fight, there was a LOT of group damage, between the Cultists’ grenades and Malice’s Tron disc, and it could be directed more easily. Also, the adds in the other fight were literal cannon fodder; in this fight, the adds were actually a force to be reckoned with.
The Tron Disk, if I remember correctly, made its first appearance during the final boss fight on Castrovel. It seems to be a staple of crazy cultists everywhere! It’s kind of a high-risk, high-reward spell – if you make your attack rolls, it can dole out a TON of damage for a second-level spell, but if you miss a roll, the whole thing just kinda dies on the vine.
Grenades really proved their usefulness in this fight – on both sides. I’ve always felt like the economics of grenades are kind of flawed – just, for example, each of those Shock Grenade III’s that Rusty used retails for about 5400 credits – but if you set aside the cost and get them for free, they’re actually fairly useful. Even with all the mitigating factors, Rusty was still putting 30 or 40 damage up across all enemies with each grenade. The perfect tool for thinning numbers when you’re outnumbered. Then again, also a handy tool for letting the Cultists take a few chunks out of us.
I don’t know how easy or hard it is to visualize, but the flow of this fight was basically a rolling retreat. Basically, CHDRR and Mo were meant to be the defensive front line, and that was going well at first. But once they started taking damage, they both started falling back toward the entrance to the north. Of course, that left the squishies on the front lines and so we had to get back behind our reluctant tank again. I doubt anyone would come out and admit it, but there may also have been some jockeying for position to not be the first one hit by the Tron Disk.
Well, everyone except Akiro. Despite the fact that all the Cultists seemed out for his head, he took the least damage of any of us. A fact that seemed to infuriate John to no end.
Not that I blame John for being frustrated. That exhaustion spell he got hit with sounds like a bear, and that’s even with John’s haste circuit evening things out somewhat. If he didn’t have the haste circuit, that probably would’ve been a freaking nightmare. Not to mention he almost certainly would’ve ended up stuck up front taking hits and probably would’ve dropped. Did the haste circuit save us from a TPK? Hard to say, but you can make the case.
As far as the decision to have CHDRR back out of the fight… I realize I’ve spent the better part of 99 Talkings telling you that CHDRR is disposable and he can be sacrificed for the greater good if need be, but in this fight, you’ll notice I was a LOT more concerned with keeping him standing than in previous fights. I think… I wouldn’t be so grandiose to call it “roleplay”, exactly, but I do feel like it’s more important to keep him alive because the story is unfolding in terms of hours, not days. There’s clearly no chance to retreat to Abaslom for a day or two and rebuild him at my convenience. Even below that threshold, it feels like we’re going to have to jump right into the next stage of the fight, which doesn’t seem to leave a 24-hour window available for a CHDRR Mk 5. So this one time, I actually got a little more protective of my yellow companion.
As a side effect, I’d also note this might be the first time I’ve ever used THE BUTTON twice in the same combat. If I’m being honest, I was totally fishing for the heal effect I know is hiding in there somewhere. Movement speed and damage weren’t useless, but I really could’ve used some hit points. Alas… ‘twas not to be.
Tuttle himself didn’t really fare too badly – I did take that one crit from the sword for 30 or 35 damage, but other than that, I didn’t really take a lot of hits. I ended the fight very close to the stamina-hitpoint border, though I honestly don’t remember if I was JUST over or JUST under. I mention it because if it had come right down to it and people started dropping, I probably could’ve slugged it out with Malice for another few rounds if I’d absolutely had to.
As a low-key comedic moment, it was kind of funny to hear Chris offer his nugget of poker wisdom (“only one player to a hand”) after he just got done with five solid minutes of… we’ll call it “constructive criticism”. One player to a hand, indeed.
Lastly, I always enjoy it when Bob and Chris get into one of their pissing matches about who’s doing more damage and I sneak in and get the actual kill shot on the boss. I played it cool on the show, but internally, I was cracking up. Sweet victory for Aeon Tuttle!
Next week… we deal with the aftermath of the fight, advance the plot, and since Steve’s been hinting at it, it’s probably not a huge spoiler to suggest we probably level in there somewhere. In the meantime, I’m cutting this short tonight because we have our annual fantasy football draft. I’m picking last, I’m not happy about it, it is what it is. Feel free to drop by Discord or our other social media outlets to let us know what you think about the show, thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.