Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ambition Mode? Ambition Mode.

I'd put it off long enough, going into the unproven territory that was Ambition Mode because I had a rather...sinking feeling about it, looking at the trophy descriptions that associated itself with the mode.   To be fair, most of them were founded, even if not completely or as -bad- as I mad them out to be in my head.  That isn't to say it was a walk in the park or it wasn't grindy as hell, however, because believe me, it wasn't and it was in that order.  So of course I'm going to put aside a little time to delve into to intricacies of the system for any of you reading this who decide that you want to challenge it yourself.  Or because you just enjoy me being over-analytical or what have you in regards to video game things.

First off, you're playing Ambition Mode for the trophies.  Let's not kid ourselves.  There's nothing in the confines of Ambition Mode that you cannot get easily in Story or Free Mode, aside from very, very easy experience, but even that's a bit of a moot point in the long run.  So, you're opening up Ambition Mode and playing it for the trophies.  Let's take a look at which ones, then.
  • Facility Construction
  • Facility Expansion
  • The Birth of a Leader
  • Friends to the End
  • The Path of Ambition
  • A Collector of Rarities
  • A Majestic Manner
  • The Height of Prosperity
  • The Ties That Bind Us
  • The Land of Plenty
  • Heaven and Earth
  • Unwavering Ambition
There are also a few trophies that aren't Ambition Mode's per se, but you need to play it (extensively) to get them.
  • Animal Collector
  • Vocal Enthusiast (Oh boy, this one)
  • Movie Collector
So, yes, of the games forty trophies (not counting the Plat), fifteen of them are tied up in Ambition Mode in one form or another, so really, if you're playing Ambition Mode, it's for them.   Ambition Mode is shallow and forgettable enough in the scheme of things that you don't -need- to go into it and though you can, you'll likely be disappointed by what you discover within.  It's not that Ambition Mode is bad in so many words or ideas, but it's just that it's the same sort of set up as it was in Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends and even Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce.  It's a framing device that pretends to move and grow with your actions, but to say that it does so in a meaningful, vibrant or dynamic way is being a bit too generous.  Rather, it simply feels...mechanical.

The end-all goal of Ambition Mode is to build a Tongquetai to house the Emperor who will be attracted to your lands because the Tongquetai is going to be magnificent.  And yes, if you're googling Tongquetai, you're wondering just what in the fuck I'm talking about because the majority of the entries seem to be about a movie called "The Assassins" which is exactly not what you want the Emperor around!  Of course, it's not some sort of meta-commentary or anything, the building is just, of course, some really nice looking mansion deal.  Anyway, to get the materials to build the Tongquetai, you have to first build up facilities in a little poor start-up town, of course, and they will eventually...just sort of -have- the materials somehow.  Just go with it.

So to get a Tongquetai, you have to build Facilities.  How do you build Facilities?  Well...actually you crush your enemies and force them to fight for you recruit them to your cause.  But how do you build -up- Facilities (which is the important part)?  You gather materials.  There are two types of Materials in Ambition Mode:  Weapon and Facility and I'll give you two guesses as to which one you should be paying attention to.  This is what you are going to spend 80% of your time in Ambition Mode fretting over, is getting goddamn Materials for your facilities to level them up for their benefits and also just to get the Tongquetai so you're able to focus on the even more grindy bits of the mode.  Because yes, getting Materials and in fact just getting your Tongquetai/the City built up is the least grindy portion of the entire subset of the game.  Wrap your head around that one.

Now, this is a good time to stop for a moment and breakdown the -other- things you need to 'collect' for Ambition Mode, and the perils thereof.  On top of Materials to build up Facilities, you need Allies to necessitate their construction in the first place and Fame to allow you to recruit more Allies because apparently they're your posse and you can only have a big posse if you're famous and it's not like you get famous for -having- a big posse or that fame and followers come hand-in-hand or anything silly.  Anyway, I'm sure you can see the sort of feed-the-meter logistics at work, and it's not going to surprise you in the least when I say that the missions in Ambition Mode are geared towards getting you the specified resources in direct transfusions of 15-30 minute battles.  (That usually take anywhere from 1-20 minutes to complete)  As such, you have missions that grant you Fame moreso than the others, missions that grant you more enemies to defeat and thus more Allies to recruit, and missions where Materials drop more often.

There's a problem with all of this, however.  Honestly, there's a problem with nearly every facet of this whole set-up, unfortunately, and it's almost hilarious in its own ineptitude.  KOEI commits a cardinal sin against common sense in regards to collecting and building that's so basic it makes my head hurt.  Ambition Mode's mission rewards aren't that great on their own because the goal is for you to run through multiple in a sitting, since you can chain battles.  This is important to know.  Over the course of 3-5 battles, of course, you're going to have a -lot- of gains to your totals instead of just the piddly one battle.  However, there are several times when this is inadvisable to do.  Like, say, whenever you fill up one of the meters.  Because you have to physically go back to camp, wreck your streak, just so the game can show you a building going up and saying "Yay, now you can gain more fame arbitrarily!" before you can actually gain more fame.  So...chaining battles becomes less a necessity for actually building up your town and more solely a necessity for fucking trophies.

Let's get back to those, shall we?  Specifically the ones titled The Birth of a Leader, The Path of Ambition and Unwavering Ambition, which are gained from doing 5, 20 and 50 chain battles respectively.  Note that at any point before actually finishing the City and whatnot when you don't even have to worry about Fame and all that, doing 20 battles will push you to your meter in at least one category, meaning you're wasting a -lot- of time in all reality.  This is to say nothing of the fact that the Animal Collector trophy is -also- tangled in the Chain Battle mess since you have to do 30, 60, 90 and 100 chain battles for four unique animals that count towards the trophy you get for collecting animals.  They are Shadow Runner, Hex Mark, Red Hare and the War Elephant respectively and of those, Red Hare is the one that is worth it, meaning a lot of people who don't -know- what's up will get Red Hare and then immediately fucking quit doing chain battles because they're terrible and discover that "whoops, you were ten battles away from never having to chain battle again!"

The really funny bit about this all is that because of the silliness with Battles in general and their drops, and Chaining Battles, you could end up spending a lot of time on the Battle portion of the mode when really the most lucrative thing you could do is just focus on your town as much as possible.  The only thing you really -need- from battles is Allies and Fame which you're going to earn over the course of everything else -anyway-, so you don't really have to make special outings for them specifically.  Materials, however, are another matter entirely.  You -could- spend about a minute total with loading and actually doing a mission to end up with ~2-6 Facility Materials, or you could be smart.  Being smart requires you to have the Barracks (one of the core buildings), the Stables (optional, really, but necessary for max yield), the Farmer (again, -technically- optional, but you want it) and the Merchant which is another core building.  Once you have these, you are ready to begin farming.

One of the nice things about the Merchant, or the only nice thing about it I should say, is that it lets you exchange Materials for the other variety of it.  So Weapon Materials for Facility Materials and vice versa.  One weapon material exchanges to two facility materials, which is very good and it works the other way around for weapon materials again which is less good, but you don't -need- weapon materials.  What this ratio means is that what you -want- are Weapon Materials because they are vital for your Facility Material gathering.  Your Barracks allows you to send troops off to other areas from whence they will return with things, specifically Materials of a certain type.  That means you want to send them off to Weapon Material places.  Similarly, feeding the animals in the Stables gives you materials that are sometimes weapon and sometimes facility so either way you win, technically.  The supervisor that you assign at the Farmer also has a chance of giving you up to ten materials as well.

So the routine, essentially, is going to your Barracks, getting materials and sending them out again, going to the Stables, getting Materials, going to the Farmer to check if the Supervisor gives you materials and then going to the Merchant.  All told, you have a chance to have something like 24-30 Weapon Materials from the three places you visit around your town which translates into 48-60 Facility Materials.  Low-level buildings require 1-2 Materials to level up and higher leveled ones (40-50 generally, 50 is max Level) require 9-10.  Either way, you can make a nice dent with 48-60 Materials and the time it takes to gather them is negligible.  Especially compared to the minute or so that you'll spend just getting half a dozen from actually having to -work- for them.  Regardless, the one tip that has to be echoed for this process is for the love of God, don't fall for KOEI's Trap Card.

The Merchant, as one of the four core buildings, will need to be leveled up to max for the Tongquetai to be built.  So you, naturally, will probably just go "Well, I'll do that first" because why not?  Well, you don't want to do that because at level 50, the Merchent goes into late-game mode by assuming you don't need Facility Materials anymore and thus drops the exchange rate between Materials to 1:1.  Good for getting Weapon Materials, bad for getting Facility Materials.  It will cause you to need to go at this twice as long and that's something you want to avoid at all costs.  I'm sure I don't have to tell you that.  So yes, the moral of the story is Don't Level up the Merchant to 50 until the very end.  You'll thank me for that.

So you do Chain Battles for Animals for Animal Collector, you gather up allies and fame and materials to eventually upgrade the town to full (which gains you Facility Construction and Facility Expansion for your first of each respectively), gaining the trophies mentioned a few paragraphs ago as well as A Collector of Rarities (for completing all the Duels which show up every four missions until you've beaten them all), A Majestic Manner (Max Fame), The Height of Prosperity (All the Facilities built), The Ties that Bind Us (all 720 allies recruited) and Heaven and Earth (Finally complete the Tongquetai and welcome the Emperor to your city).  Doing that will get you the Ending Credits for Ambition Mode which counts as a movie for the Movie Collector trophy, given you've already beaten the Story Modes completely to see each Kingdom's Historical and Hypothetical Credits.

That leaves you with The Land of Plenty which you get after gaining 1,000 Materials will do eventually.  It also leaves you with Vocal Enthusiast, and Friends to the End.  Friends to the End is easy enough - gain max bond with one of the 78 other characters in the game, which you will do by toting them around from battle to battle as your bodyguard.  Vocal Enthusiast is one of those tricky, roundabout trophies, however.  You see, when you get max bond with an officer, you unlock some of their voice clips in the Gallery.  Which is well and good, but you don't unlock them -all- for that character, because you see, what you have to do is max bond with that character.


Once as a Male officer, once as a Female Officer.  Vocal Enthusiast requires you to have unlocked every voice clip in the game.  Which means gaining Max Bond with Every Officer in the game.  Twice.  Remember how I said Material Grinding was the least grindy bit of Ambition mode?  There you go.

So yes, Ambition Mode is....well, it's honestly a neat concept, but goddamn if KOEI does not how to properly introduce Sim elements to the game.  Which is hilarious when you consider that KOEI fucking specializes in Sim games.  But that's just one of the things that makes KOEI the company that it is.  The terrible, awful, no good, very bad company that it is.  That I will continuously buy products from because goddamnit, nobody else is making them.

Vocal Enthusiast is a bronze trophy, by the way, just as one last 'fuck you' from KOEI

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