Triangle Strategy drops one of its most difficult maps very early on in its story campaign. To be fair, it’s not meant to be one of the most grueling encounters in the game. I made the fight much more difficult than it had to be because the alternative was becoming an arsonist.
Yes, you read that correctly. In chapter seven of Triangle Strategy, you’re given two choices: either you battle against the more powerful Aesfrost army, which just took over the entire country, or you can surrender the fugitive Prince Roland to live another day. Most of my friends agonized over this decision for days, but I didn’t have that luxury as a journalist playing the game for coverage. So I stuck with my “idealism” run where I would protect the prince with my ragtag army. I thought to myself: victory in the face of certain defeat is just par the course for a JRPG. Oh, how naive I was.
I gathered enough votes to send my friends into a battle for their lives. Before the fight started, my retainer Benedict pulled the protagonist aside and told him about the secret fire traps throughout the village. By pressing a button inside of a hawk statue, a number of walls would rise to entrap all units within a certain range of the house. The traps would then fill with oil and light everything ablaze–including the house attached to these traps. As I watched the tutorial simulation, I was horrified. See, in order to conclude the pre-battle vote, I had to explore the village and talk to the people living there. Many were frightened by the upcoming invasion, but they were confident that their new lord would protect them.
As the Lord of Wolffort, the protagonist Serenoa was obligated to protect these people’s lives. People can’t enjoy being homed if they’re dead. And, hey, my own retainer told me to use those fire traps. Not using them would be sheer folly. On the flip side, I didn’t know if these people would be evacuated before the battle. I assumed they would be, but the game didn’t explicitly tell me. What if this was one of those sicko design moves where people stayed inside their houses during an invasion for some reason just to make me feel bad afterwards? I set up my units on the map and told myself that I would use the fire traps only if I had no other choice.
I did not use a single fire trap. Instead, I reloaded this map a dozen times. I gritted my teeth in frustration because the level was clearly designed under the assumption that you’d be using these traps. Archers shot at my army from the rooftops, I was swamped by no fewer than three waves of reinforcements, and the boss actively chased me around after a set number of turns. If I thought the war vote was stressful, I’m pretty sure the battle of Wolffort Town shaved years off my life. I recall several moments when I saw numerous enemies bunched near a house and thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be unfortunate if someone set off a hot oil bath there?” It would have been, but I didn’t. My Serenoa Wolffort was far too soft to destroy people’s beloved homes.
Or maybe he was too hard? Instead of cheesing the fight by punching holes into General Avlora’s army, I had to use crafty strategies and change plans on the fly. At one point, the general was pushing my army back into the path of her reinforcements. I would be completely obliterated if my squishier mages and healers were exposed that way. So I hunkered down near the narrow stairs with Erador and Serenoa. If either of them went down, then my entire defensive formation would collapse. I had my mages blast Avlora with spells while Hughette blinded any archers who tried to snipe past my human shields. Roland rewarded my decision to keep him by acting as the rear guard.
Some members of my party only agreed to fight Aesfrost after they learned about the powerful fire traps. It turns out, tactical acumen works just as well. When Avlora finally sounded the retreat, I experienced the best rush in the entire game. I didn’t just beat one of the most terrifying fighters in the game–I did it without using my hidden ace.
The villagers thanked Serenoa for protecting their houses, but they weren’t throwing flowers at him or anything. They had no idea the lengths I went through to ensure that they had a place to return to at the end of the day. And you know what? I’m going to pick this route again when I play New Game+.