Starting this wasn't something I'd expected I would do; I remember Xator Nova messaging me and wondering how an Low Turn Counts run in Echoes would go. Back then, I said this would be the least fulfilling run to indulge in, with long maps, bulky enemies and shaky hit rates. Yet here I am, playing an LTC and even recording it. Guess the seeds of interest were planted at the same time I gave a negative answer. This also appears to be my first time LTCing this year, looks like I've really been too busy to do these things as casually as I used to.
FE Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (from my understanding of linguistics and facts, the only "FE Echoes: anything" we'll ever get) just might be the least LTC-friendly game there is, since it's so different from your average FE experience that it might as well be part of another series. This however also makes an LTC of the game different from any other one you can do. The original, Gaiden, is the FE game I've spent the least time of my life playing. I couldn't bear the interface and gave up several minutes in (on the uber merc map iirc), so SoV, the best-looking FE game on the 3DS to date with a refined interface but the same mechanics, while hardly an answer to my prayers, was my chance to finally experience and beat FE Gaiden, which I did.
Not much is known to me wrt LTCing this game as of this time, with many of the choices and options questioned. Since it can be said that the lowest possible turns cannot be achieved without a combination of super-rigged level-ups and super-rigged player/enemy phases with an impossible number of crits and I lack the tools and/or the volition to engage in such clears, this run is doomed to be "imperfect" no matter how hard I try, and things not being perfect tends to bug me a bit. Still, I'll do my best as per usual and play it for as long as I enjoy it, ideally until the end.
The Prologue is a new map where the only unit anywhere close to being capable of killing foes is Mycen (he's nowhere as good when he joins for good), who 2HKOs and doubles every foe. I don't really know if the children carry any of the experience to their adult selves, but it is not wise to try putting them under any punishment here.
Mycen can be put into the range of every foe right off the bat, but two enemies will never aggro him on turn 1 - the boss Slayde and the cav to the right. Slayde also benefits from a ludicrous +60 avoid from terrain (a trademark of Gaiden and therefore also SoV), but in this 2-turn strat we have 6 hits to look forward to, the last two being very accurate actually. On turn 2, Slayde has been aggro'd so we can now move on to a grave tile ourselves to attack the aforementioned cav. If still alive, Slayde will suicide himself unto Mycen on the EP, and the rest of the enemies should be dead by now.
I tried different things in hopes of getting a 1-turn, including baiting the children, but nothing worked. If you care, fiddle around with the game and try to improve what we currently have as the fastest clear here.
Map 1-1 is the first map, with adult Alm and Luke being accompanied by 4 villagers, Faye being the new one, meaning we have even more scrubs to bring up to benefit with our efficient completion of the game.
"The enemies here run away from you when weakened so a 3-turn is the best you can do without critting everything in sight", I thought. Right? Well, turns out I was wrong, as I accidentally discovered the AI is pretty weird and the weakened foes don't necessarily always run away. If I have every unit rush forward, the enemies will indeed be fleeing on turn 1/2 enemy phase, but pushing ahead with just Alm, Luke and Tobin (Grey doesn't need the exp too badly) must change something in the AI, as the weakened foes will proceed to get themselves killed on EP.
In the end, Tobin can get a lot of exp (if Alm does no critting, he can get all but one kill on the map), levelling up. Since this is such a straight-forward map and everything tends to work, I reset until Tobin gets a +str/spd level-up, something that will no doubt help me deal with the much denser RNG bullshit in maps to come.
The AI's unusual behaviour causes Kliff and Faye to miss out on the exp they would've wanted even more than Tobin. Still, they get 20-ish something exp from the new bonus exp feature! Better than nothing. Throwing them forward just causes the foes to flee instead of suiciding on EP. Will their loss of exp in this map lead to turns lost later on? Who knows, it might and it's our job to find out what those benchmarks are.
Still though, what does affect the AI's desire to retreat? Is it the total "power" of the nearby units in range? I totally failed to apply this "principle" in the following map (which was one hell of a challenge). That's a story for the next upload though.