I had been meaning to do an ironman run for a long time now, and since RD is my favorite FE game I figured I would start with this one. While I had never done an ironman before, I had played RD plenty of times and I've watched other people play ironmans (not RD ironmans though), so I thought I was up to the challenge. And... I did eventually beat it, but I got my ass handed to me by the game multiple times before I could finally clear it. Honestly, I was expecting a few resets but I didn't think I'd die 30+ times before getting a single successful run.
Most of my deaths were in Part 1, and I did restart twice or so before I got an actual game over. I got Haar killed at 3-2 because I got complacent and I wasn't willing to lose him so early on, plus I had already come out of Part 1 with a ton of losses so I just erased the file and started over from 1-P. The other time was in 1-6-2 because I had suffered too many losses and I wasn't looking forward to the Part 3 DB chapters with that kind of start. But despite knowing it was going to be a challenge it was still even more challenging than what I was expecting.
As for the settings, I did the run on HM and without transfers, although I did play on a Clear File so that I could get Pelleas and Lehran (which technically makes 4-2 and 4-E-5, respectively, slightly easier).
Originally I was just going to do a short description of my overall feelings about this ironman, a write a little bit about the strategies I used, and maybe even rate the difficulty of the maps just for fun. But before I knew it, I had been writing for several hours and ended up making a massive, massive fucking wall of text xd So, rather than a small bit of commentary about my experience it ended up being a full description of the gameplay from beginning to end. It's extremely long, but hopefully someone out there will have as much fun reading this as I did writing it.
EDIT: I did some format editing to make this monstrosity a little friendlier to scroll through. If you just want to scroll to a specific chapter or straight to the conclusion at the end it should be easy to do so now.
For the difficulty ratings, I'll rate each map on a scale from 1 to 4. Maps that require little thinking, have little to no things that can go wrong, leave a lot of room for error or don't involve much risk I'll rate lower. On the contrary, maps that require more thorough planning, require better and more involved execution, don't allow for a whole lot of mistakes to be made or require some good RNG to survive I'll rate higher. For a couple of specific maps I might up the rating for the sheer frustration factor even if they're not hard strictly speaking. For each map I'll also list a description of my strategy, as well as any losses I suffered (if any). I was going to use a scale with more points, but I decided to make matters simple and just divided them into 4 categories:
1: Extremely easy, bordering on brainless. Nearly impossible to fuck up.
2: Simple, but I still need to think of what I'm doing.
3: Hard. Not quite as forgiving. At least a couple of things that can go really wrong. Might require a lot of planning or forethought.
4: Extremely unforgiving (or just really frustrating, as the case may be). Many things can go wrong. Small mistakes snowball into a disaster really fast.
1-P (Difficulty: 1)
For your team being as weak as it's ever going to be, this map is actually pretty free. Edward takes 3 hits to die from all the enemies (sans the boss) and even if you somehow mess up Micaiah can tank 1 hit. I just take on the first 2 bandits 1 by one, then kill the rest while holding the chokepoint at the bottom of the map. I didn't try to funnel the kills to anyone in particular. In my first several attempts I gave them to Leonardo reasoning that he'd have a slightly better hit rate on fliers at 3-12 and 3-13 if he had a few levels and a lvl10 promotion (getting enough Seals isn't a problem), that training Micaiah just so that she doesn't die to everything in 1 hit during 1-9 just wasn't worth it, and that Edward was just too hard to train in Hard mode with both Jill and Nolan having way better bases and a better return on investment. By my 20th attempt I didn't care anymore so whoever got the kills got them xd
1-1 (Difficulty: 2)
Really consistent map but it does require some planning and a little bit of adapting to RNG (mostly, Nolan missing hits since his hit rate is decent but not in the permanent 90+ zone where you can reliably count on him never missing). On the first turn I have Edward go full movement and then I make Nolan take the chokepoint and shove Edward (to put him outside of Javelin range). I usually have to unequip Edward on turn 2 so he doesn't kill the first fighter on EP and then die to the 2nd fighter, and after Nolan kills the Javelin soldier Micaiah or Leonardo can help finish off the fighters. I kill the myrmidon boss with Nolan but not the fighter. Here Nolan gets his 1st level up, which doesn't matter for this map but if he doesn't get at least 1 point in STR or SPD he gets doubled by some enemies in the next map, although it's definitely not unbeatable because of this.
1-2 (Difficulty: 2)
Similar to the previous one: consistent but some planning is required. Honestly, I did these early maps so many times I basically memorized and repeated the exact same movements every time, but they did require a bit of planning at first. I have Leo and Eddy block the ledge (from below) and Nolan the chokepoint, with Laura behind him to heal him when necessary. When Sothe gets there I have him kill the 3 soldiers near him plus the fighter on top of the ledge Leo and Eddy are blocking, but I make sure to do it with the Bronze Dagger so that I have more Kard uses for 1-3. Then I have everyone climb, Leo kills the soldier blocking the room with the chests, Nolan + Leo deal with the archer reinforcements from atop the ledge and finally I have Nolan kill the 2 soldier reinforcements. Sothe collects the chests and weakens the boss a little for Nolan to take the kill.
1-3 (Difficulty: 2)
In this map I make Eddy + Illyana take care of the enemy to the right side while Nolan + Sothe block some chokepoints on the left side, with Laura on standby behind Nolan. She ends up in a perfect position to recruit Aran on turn 3 and heal Nolan at the same time. I use Sothe and Nolan to block the passage at the bottom of the map and kill the enemies there, although Sothe gets most of the kills because Nolan doesn't have enough damage. I do make sure to give the boss kill to Nolan though, since I want to have him promoted for 1-5. I make Aran rescue Aimee and command Kurth to sit on a bush at the starting point, which distracts the reinforcements (and they can't kill him because they only do like 10 damage per turn to him). I used to struggle a lot with this map in the past, but after I figured out a consistent plan I never had trouble with it again.
1-4 (Difficulty: 2)
This is the first base that the game gives me so I have a few things to do before starting, mostly just redistributing skills. I take Nolan's Nihil and store it away until part 4 because enemies just don't have any combat skills for some reason, so only Nihil is only useful against endgame bosses, and I don't want my Nihil scroll to go down with Nolan in case he dies. He does get Leo's cancel though, which isn't too useful but he at least puts it to better use than Leo. I always give Illyana's Shade to Micaiah, but I swear to god it's never saved me when it has mattered. I feel like at this point I only do it out of habit xd I also take Meg's Fortune and sell it because it's not very good and I'm a bit pressed for cash in this map, since I buy a bunch of stuff from the bargains and I forge a max might, max hit Iron Axe for Nolan. My strategy for this map is to have Sothe kill the Laguz that move at the start of the map near the bottom, and break one of the walls on the top and make Nolan wait there with Laura behind him and Leo chipping from across the wall. I used to have Sothe kill everything on the bottom side, but the next few maps were such a pain in the ass that in my later attempts I opted to feed nearly every single kill to Nolan so that I could promote him at lvl18 or so before 1-5 with the Master Seal of this map.
1-5 (Difficulty: 4)
Fuck this map. Honestly, I hate it so much. I didn't use to think it was so bad, but now that I tried playing it in an ironman setting I realized just how stupid the RNG is here. Jill and Zihark have such a stupid healing AI. Unless they're around half HP they refuse to heal. Zihark is particularly bad because he doesn't have a 1-2 range weapon, so if he takes a single hit in turn 1 EP he will attack and get countered, leaving him 1 hit away from death and it's pretty much impossible to arrive to where he is with anyone other than Volug (which isn't enough to stop all the enemies from attacking). At least Jill will prefer attacking with her Hand Axe so she might be able to tank 1 hit on turn 2 EP, but she's not safe either. A good 1/3 of all of my resets must have happened here, all of them because either Jill or Zihark died on turn 2 before I got a chance to do anything about it. Even leaving the RNG bullshit aside, the map is still pretty tough so I'd probably rate it a 3 if Jill/Zihark didn't turn this map into a lottery.
For my base preparations, I unload Sothe's inventory and give him a fresh one. I give him one 5 might 75 hit forged Knife, which is enough to one round all the enemies he fights in this map except for the soldier that has the Master Seal. Then I give him 2 more forged Knives with 7 might 75 hit, which is enough to last him for the rest of Part 1 and still have some leftovers in case he absolutely must hit something from range in Part 3. Here I promote Nolan as well. If I'm lucky, Nolan has enough speed here to double some of the enemies on the platform on the center of the map, but I had no such luck on my successful attempt so it was a lot harder to clear the platform.
At the start of the map I have Volug kill the fighter at the bottom, Sothe kill the right myrmidon and the rest of my scrubs gang up on the other 2 enemies. Then I send Sothe to deal with the enemies at the bottom and steal the Master Seal from the soldier. I send Volug up top to kill an enemy and reduce the chances that the green units troll while the rest of the squad struggle to take over the platform. Because Nolan couldn't double anything I took too long and I end up having to sacrifice Aran to protect my weaker units, which was my first loss of the run. I wasn't too sad about his death though. On a previous attempt I had lost Laura here, so this was much more preferable. Aran had outlived his usefulness anyway (being a shove/rescue bot on 1-3 and helping kill one enemy on 1-5 is all I use him for on a normal run).
1-6-1 (Difficulty: 3)
I think this map isn't actually that hard but the peg knight reinforcements make it incredibly annoying. You do have some really busted units to work with, but I like feeding at least some kills to Jill to get her going because she's going to be incredibly important in Part 3 (and to a lesser extent, Part 4). I actually had a good couple of resets here because of Micaiah dying, so in my later attempts I started opting for making Tauroneo rescue Micaiah on turn 1 and never drop her. This also gives him the choice to chip with him and set up kills for Jill if I want to, since he doesn't double anything while carrying someone, doesn't OHKO most enemies with a Javelin but still OHKOs most enemies with the Silver Lance if I need him to take the kill. I still need to protect Laura but with Micaiah being perma rescued that's 1 less thing to worry about. At the start of the map I make Volug kill all of the enemies on the top right side, as well as the peg knight reinforcements that appear from the right side cliff. He doesn't gain any exp, but he does build up strike rank which is very useful in Part 3. Everyone else makes their way as a group to the left side, and I try to feed as many of the kills as I can to Jill but she doesn't get that many because she doesn't have enough base SPD to double anything other than the Steel Lance peg knights, so even after giving her all 3 stat boosters and a max might max hit Iron Axe she still struggles in this map. Still, getting a level up or two in this map helps her get rolling, and with a bit of turtling to feed her as many kills as humanly possible in 1-6-2 I can actually have her promoted at around lvl 17-18 at the start of 1-7.
1-6-2 (Difficulty: 3)
This is another map that cost me a couple of resets, mostly due to carelessness. Getting rid of the enemies in the starting area is easy enough, but dealing with the waves of cavs to the left proved to be a bit of a problem. On my earlier attempts I didn't have Nolan promoted so early, so my strategy of covering the bridge to the left with Nolan and Jill didn't work out that well. What happened was that the cavs ended up prioritizing Nolan and killing him because he has no DEF compared to Jill (specially since I gave her the Dracoshield and not Nolan), and then they'd rush through and put me in a bad position. I don't think they ever got to kill Micaiah or Fiona, but I did lose Jill once so I just restarted after that. I wasn't feeling too confident I could get through Part 3 without her. On another occasion I also game over'd because I made Volug deal with too many enemies on the top part of the map on his own. On my successful attempt I had a promoted Nolan and I had him equipped with a Hand Axe while Jill had a 1 range axe, so between the 1-2 range cavs preferring to attack Jill and Nolan having more HP and DEF I managed to survive on that front while still feeding most of the kills to Jill. On the top side I ended up sending Tauroneo with him so I never came close to losing units up there again. Also, starting on this map I make sure to build up the Volug/Zihark support so that they can more reliably block chokepoints in the Part 3 DB maps. I tried not to turtle too much throughout the run, but this was one of the maps that I definitely took as slowly as possible. After killing all of the cavs to the left side, I had Jill take as many kills as possible from the top part without aggroing the boss, and then I gave her the boss kill too.
1-7 (Difficulty: 2)
With both Jill and Nolan promoted this map was fairly easy, although it wasn't completely brainless. I gave Paragon to Jill, with which she gains a respectable amount of exp even from killing tier 1 units. I had Jill deal with the enemies on the top left corner, I sent Nolan, Zihark and Volug through the inside of the prison, and Sothe and Micaiah through the bottom so that Sothe can recruit Tormod asap. With some efficient movement I manage to free all of the prisoners before I got overwhelmed by reinforcements. Saving them doesn't give that much BEXP, but however much they give is still useful. Anyway, not much to say about this one. Jill steamrolls the enemies and the rest of my units help clear a path.
1-8 (Difficulty: 3)
This is another map that cost me a couple of resets. I think in one of them I did something stupid and got Micaiah killed, but the most frustrating one was an attempt where I got all of the hostages killed by the final 2 wyverns that show up as reinforcements. The problem is that basically nothing in your army (other than Nailah, Tormod and Muarim) can one round Wyverns. For me at least, Nailah is always stuck on the left side of the map because that's where she starts and she's the only one that can kill the bandits that spawn there before they go off to kill the hostages, and the Muarim/Tormod pair is is a similar situation but on the bottom side of the map. So, if I actually take long enough that the 2 wyverns from the right side spawn I'm in deep shit. I don't have anyone in position to kill them and they will always prioritize attacking the hostages over everyone else, and because of the swamp you can't chase them. On hindsight I was still a complete potato when I game over'd here because I could have simply had Nailah rescue 1 of the hostages and it would have been impossible for the wyverns to give me a game over. But anyway, in the next attempts I just opted to play a little more aggressive and rout the map before those last 2 wyverns could spawn.
The initial wyvern could be such a huge pain too, but thankfully Tormod has just enough move to make it into its attack range (with Celerity still equipped and a shove from Vika) and there's nothing else it can attack on turn 1, so it's possible to get rid of it before it becomes a problem. Nailah takes a while routing the enemies on the left side because all of them other than the bandits have 1-2 range, but she still always kills them all before the final 2 wyverns spawn. For the right side, I send Sothe through the swamp (with some more shoves from Vika) so that he can kill the bandit that goes for the center right hostage and then I have him step into the boss range to kill the enemies there with his forged knifes. With the Pure Water you get from 1-4 it's actually not that scary, he takes almost no damage from the other 2 mages and the boss doesn't do a whole lot either unless he crits (and even then I think I'm not risking a game over here).
1-9 (Difficulty: 3)
To be honest, I'm rating this map 3 on almost frustration factor alone. If it were for consistency I'd have to give it a 1, because despite Micaiah literally getting OHKO'd by everything there are some rather simple movements you can memorize that will keep her out of combat. All I do is the following: On turn 1, the BK moves to the left and kills one of the enemies there, and Micaiah stands behind him. On turn 2, Micaiah moves to the heal hedge near her and the BK moves to the bush of the chokepoint to the left. On turns 3-14, the BK moves back and forth between the chokepoints to the right and left of Micaiah while she never moves from the heal hedge. There is only 1 turn where there's an exception to the pattern, where an additional enemy shows up within the BK's vision as a reinforcement to the left. Only on that turn, the BK has to kill that enemy instead of moving to the right chokepoint and I move Micaiah to the bush to her left. After that I can move Micaiah back to the heal hedge and continue repeating the pattern until turn 14. Then I can safely make the BK go around the map clockwise killing the stragglers, with Micaiah always 3-4 tiles behind him. I think I could leave her in the heal hedge at that point, but I'm paranoid an enemy will sneak up from behind and kill her so I just have her go behind the BK (but always safe behind a chokepoint so that she doesn't die to 1-2 range). The real difficulty of this map is how unforgiving the execution is. Simple as it may be, deviating from the plan by accident even by a single tile of movement can end up with Micaiah dead, a couple of hours of gameplay wasted and having to play through all of the worst Part 1 maps again, including the 1-5 lottery.
1-E (Difficulty: 2)
This map isn't too bad. You have so many busted units available for this final map that you can play it very safe if you want to, although it does require some planning. In the base I empty Illyana's inventory and fill her up with a bunch of things I want to send over to the GMs. They don't really "need" any of the things I send over, but they're mostly things that the DB can't put to much use anyway and do help the GMs in some way. I send over the Blue Gem but not the Red Gem or the Arms Scrolls that I picked up from hidden treasure, since I need some cash to buy some of the bargains in 3-6. I also send over the Celerity scroll and the Ashera Icon (which I intend to give to Haar). I also send the Brave Sword over to the GMs because in Part 3 I mostly just use Zihark as a walking Shine Barrier. I deploy Illyana in this map so that I can also give her the Speedwings and the Spectre Card (I have a very specific use in mind for it, and after I'm done with it I can sell it for some cash). The Speedwings I give to either Ike or Haar usually, depending on what they've gained from growths. I also make sure to forge 2 max might max hit Steel Axes; one for Jill and one for Nolan (although Nolan's axe ends up in Jills inventory in Part 3, since Jill used most of her axe in this map and in Part 3 Nolan gets Tarvos).
As for the map itself, I give the Pass scroll to Nailah so that she can snipe the thieves before they can steal anything and kill some other annoying enemies ahead of time (including the Meteor mage because I can't be bothered to bait out all 5 uses of it). I give Sothe the Savior scroll and have him pick up Micaiah, both to keep her safe and so that he can move around with her A support without having to actually risk her, and I don't drop her until the very end so that she can seize. I make Jill take a lot of the kills, who at this point is pretty beefy between all of her level ups, promotion bonuses and all of the stat boosters I gave her (which is to say all of them sans the Ashera Icon and including Rafiel's Robe). Tormod stays behind on a ledge killing reinforcements. I kill most of the knights on the top floor with Jill and I also give her the boss kill, so that by the end of the map she's lvl8-10. The tigers on 3-6 are no joke, so I need her to be as strong as possible, even if that means turtling a little to feed her more kills in this map.
2-P (Difficulty: 1)
After the brutal part 1 maps, this one is quite the breather and feels oddly forgiving. Most of your units basically can't die, and your squishy game over condition cannot be attacked. Even if you mess up and they capture Leanne so long as you kill them before they run off the edge of the map you're good. Haar technically could die if you make him fight too many things at once and don't heal him, but at the very least I've never had it happen to me. I just send Haar right into the fray (with Leanne's Concoction so that he can heal himself) and finish off the boss when it's safe.
2-1 (Difficulty: 2)
This is another map that I used to think was pretty hard, but after playing it a few times I figured a consistent strategy that always lets me come out of it with Heather alive, both of the top houses visited and little to no risk of a game over, although whether I make it in time to visit the Javelin house is still mostly RNG. On turn 1 I kill the myrmidon (Brom attacks first so that Nephenee doesn't take damage). The soldier will attack from the corner with a Javelin, which lets me trap him in the corner. I do kill him on PP most of the time, but if I miss he's trapped so he can't attack from 2 range. Then I deal with the archer, and then I make Brom go start working on the knight blocking the way while Neph takes care of the fighter near the bottom. I make Neph fetch the Steel Axe and trade it to Brom, and then I have her go recruit Heather. Exactly how this goes down depends on the RNG with the hits since most hit rates are kinda iffy in this map, but it always somehow works out. As for the boss, since his AI (and his 2 guards') makes him start moving only after he's attacked, what I do is make Neph and Heather wait at the stairs on the right side of the map and park Brom in front of the boss without attacking. This triggers his AI but makes it so he doesn't start moving until the EP of the next turn. Then I have Brom retreat to the stairs. This way, he can only ever get attacked by the boss and the Javelin soldier on each turn, and the other soldier can't reach him. This means that even if they both hit, they do less than 20 damage so Brom can always heal on PP and safely kill the boss en EP. It's definitely a bit of a turtly strategy but it's nice and safe.
2-2 (Difficulty: 2)
Like most of the other fog maps in this game, this one has a couple of nasty surprises waiting in the shadows and if you don't know where they're hiding. But if you know what you're doing it's actually not that hard. It's definitely way more forgiving than 1-9, which despite being more consistent also leaves significantly less room for error. Here I always make Brom block the north chokepoint and let him kill the first knight that's in the way because he does too much damage (not enough to kill Brom but enough to be a problem when the reinforcements show up), then I unequip him when he's left against the Venin Lance soldier. I don't remember if there are more enemies queued up behind that one, but either way the damage of the Venin Lance + poison isn't enough to be a problem. On the bottom side of the map I make Lucia and Mordecai block the way and kill most of the enemies (I make Mordecai use a Laguz Stone on turn 1 and hold the Grass so that he can stay transformed; I let Lethe and Nealuchi charge their gauges naturally). I just have to be careful to never put my fliers close to the Longbow and Crossbow range. I used to go for the Discipline scroll with Heather, but I don't have enough time to get both that and steal the boss' Book, and I realized on later attempts that I really wasn't using the scroll at all so it wasn't worth it. Brom usually survives the reinforcements until the very end of the map, but unfortunately this time around he got crit by the mage on the very last turn before Lucia escaped so he ends up dying.
2-3 (Difficulty: 2)
I swear to god this map takes a damn eternity to finish. It's like the enemies on this map made it their purpose in life to waste as much time as possible. Still, tedious as it is, it's not hard to clear. The tier 1 enemies pose no threat at all to Geoffrey and Kieran, so you don't have to exercise much care while rushing to the bottom of the map, although there are some pretty serious threats once you do get there. On the base I make sure to buy a couple of things: The Hammer, which goes straight to the convoy (I could use it here and then give it to Marcia so that she can pass it to Haar, but I don't think it makes enough of a difference so I just leave it in the convoy). The Horseslayer, which doesn't actually get that much use but I do use it a couple of times, particularly to kill the Horseslayer pally. A Steel Blade for Makalov. And finally, some more healing items. For this one I undeploy Astrid because she's just completely useless xd On turn 1, I make Kieran go full move forward and put everyone else around him in a cluster, and I command the yellow units on top of Geoffrey. I do this for the first 3 turns or so, which is how much time it takes me to cross the gate at the bottom of the map. Once there, I try to bait the Horseslayer pally with a yellow unit. It only has like 15 hit on Geoffrey, but I'm not willing to risk it this far into the run. To make sure that the enemies that I left behind don't chase me into the bottom area, what I do is to leave Danved unequipped on the heal hedge near the gate, and 2 tiles to the right I park Makalov (equipped). What this does is that I block the chokepoint with Makalov, but the enemies will always attack Danved instead because he's unequipped. This is important because Danved has better avoid and this also lets me effectively block the chokepoint while sitting on a bush even though there's technically no bush right on the chokepoint. Although they can technically still kill Danved if I get super unlucky, I've never seen it happen.
Then I just take my time clearing the top area with Geoffrey, Kieran and Marcia. I make sure to get the Speedwings and send them to the convoy (or if I screw that up, make sure Marcia is holding them at the end of the map). Before opening the gate to the boss I kill all the enemies that move and make the onagers waste all of their ammo. I wouldn't turtle this much if possible, specially considering that each EP wastes an eternity and a half, but the problem is that Geoffrey is exactly 1 point of speed short of not being doubled by the boss, and a double crit from the boss leaves Geoffrey at 1 HP if he starts from full HP. Basically, I'm OK with Geoffrey tanking a double crit but if he gets hit by anything at all on the same turn it's game over. And I HAVE been double crit by the stupid boss before, so I just play it safe every time now. Anyway, Geoffrey can easily kill the boss by himself with the Brave Lance. He survives 1 round and gets healed by a Physic staff, but he dies on the next round before he gets to counter. By the end of the map I always have 40+ surviving enemy units, so I get a sizable chunk of BEXP.
2-E (Difficulty: 2)
This is the first map where Haar gets to put a ton of work. I could probably 2 or 3 turn it without much trouble, but I like getting some of the droppable/stealable items so I take a little longer than that. On the base I always give Haar 3 BEXP level ups and the Speedwings. I usually never get any speed from these level ups (and my successful attempt wasn't an exception), but if I did get 1 or 2 points of speed I'd consider saving the Speedwings. I buy Haar a bunch of Hand Axes and a Steel Poleaxe, and I make sure to give him the Hammer. On turn 1 I halt the yellow units and I make Elincia rescue/drop one of the nearby snipers onto the breakable ledge (with a refresh from Leanne) and drop Haar to the middle floor to start killing stuff. On the left side I make Neph start walking down so that she can block a chokepoint later (usually I'd make Brom do this because he has more DEF, but alas...), and on the right side I do the same with Mordecai (and I make him chug some grass in the meantime). For a turn I make Haar block the stairs on the middle left, parking him right above the general with the Nullify scroll (Haar needs 2 rounds to kill him). Once he's claimed the scroll I move him to the opposite side to kill some enemies and block the path while Mordecai makes his way there, and Neph takes Haar's spot on the left side (but I make sure that she only ever gets attacked once per turn. It's still kind of a monkaS moment because she faces crit from most enemies, but it's low enough that I feel comfortable leaving her there for 3-4 turns). On the right side I make sure to kill the guy with the Energy Drop. When I'm done securing both sides I send Haar down to kill some of the enemies and set up the boss kill. Before ending the map, I send Heather down and refresh her with Leanne so that she can steal the Dracoshield, and I make sure that all of the stat boosters are on either Neph or Heather so that they get sent over to the GMs. Haar easily finishes the job using the Hammer.
3-P (Difficulty: 2)
This map makes me feel so stupid. It should be so free. It's been free every single time I've done it (except maybe on my very first playthrough and got surprise killed by the Horseslayer general). And somehow, I managed to get Titania killed in my successful attempt xd I got complacent and near the end I sent her too far away on her own, she got hit by 2 mages in a row and died to a random enemy when she had like 1 HP. Honestly, this kind of threw a wrench into my plans. It wasn't game ending or anything but it still sucked. I was worried about 3-1 because usually I have her handle a bunch of enemies in the middle part of the map, and afterwards I pair her up with Oscar and I have them block 2 tile wide chokepoints in a bunch of different maps, but it wasn't happening anymore so I had to think of a replacement. Anyway, that was a problem for later. The only things I did in the base was take Soren's Adept and gave it to Mia, who makes excellent use of it, and I gave Shinon's Provoke to Ike. She's a bit frail in the beginning, but with a few level ups and Ike's earth support she quickly snowballs out of control. I proceeded through the map without much problem until I was almost at the boss, but because I wanted to make it there before Skrimir so he wouldn't steal the kill I sent Titania too far out and got her killed (rip), which was the first death in this run that I actually cared about. Other than that I finished the map without issue.
3-1 (Difficulty: 2)
I was tempted to give this one a 3 since I usually suffered a loss here, but playing the map without Titania for the first time ever and clearing it anyway without much trouble made me realize that I was just being careless. The enemies near the starting area can be a bit of a problem but it's not too hard to deal with them. I have Ike, Shinon, Mia and Boyd head up, and I make sure that they're position in such a way that the enemies can't go after Mist and Rhys who are closely behind. I also make sure that someone is 1 tile away from the wall so that the Longbow sniper ends up in a position that allows Shinon to take a shot at him with the Killer Bow (in this run I got the lucky crit and didn't need to deal with the sniper being annoying and constantly attacking Ike). Oscar and Gatrie block the bottom of the map together, and the rest of the scrub squad stays behind to deal with the reinforcements. I actually had a bit of a monkaS momment here when the Hammer warrior actually hit Gatrie. I swear that he always misses but this time he hit. I thought he was going to die and I was going to get run over, but thankfully he just barely lived on a sliver of health. On the top side I have Ike go into the bushes with Shinon behind him to kill everything up there. I leave the cat girls on halt, but if the scrub squad can't finish off one of the reinforcements I switch them to roam for that turn (although I didn't need to do that on this run). After most of the enemies are dead I have Ike and Shinon finish off the enemies from the top that don't move and I do the same on the bottom and the right side of the map with Gatrie and Oscar. I make sure to visit both houses before ending, of course.
3-2 (Difficulty: 2)
This is one of the longer bases in the game since there's a ton of preparation I need to do (although it mostly boils down to buying and selling stuff). For my shopping, I sell the gems and some random crap that I don't need like the Crossbow from 3-P. I buy a bunch of stuff from the armory (10 Hand Axes, several Poleaxes although not as many as usual since Titania died, several Steel Greatlances and Javelins, a few Wind Edges and Mends, and maybe one or two more things I'm forgetting). From the bargains I can't remember if I buy anything other than the Wyrmslayer, but I do buy that one. They're kind of expensive but with the Silver Card the price is reasonable, even if the Wyrmslayer doesn't see a whole lot of action throughout the game. I make a max might Steel Sword for Mia, as well as a max might Steel Lance for Neph. Speaking of which, I almost never use both of these units in the same playthrough because they generally like having the same kind of investment. They both appreciate the Dracoshield, Energy Drop and Robe that I have, both put Adept to good use (although I could have 2 Adepts here, I have some other plans for the Adept scroll I left behind in the DB), both need to have some kills fed to them (specially Neph since she starts more underleveled and didn't get a whole lot of kills in Part 2) and both like having a 7 move infantry unit as a support partner (mostly just Ike, but Shinon could do too even though I'd prefer to give them an earth support). However, because Oscar lost his partner I decided to use both for this playthrough. Having Oscar paired with an infantry unit is a bit awkward but I figured it'd work out. What I did was split up my stat boosters (Energy Drop and Robe to Nephenee, Dracoshield to Mia) and kept the Adept on Mia. I reasoned Mia could rely a bit more on avoid than Neph so she didn't need the Robe, and her crit and Adept procs would help her with damage so I gave the Drop to Neph as well.
Haar gets both of the Ashera Icons. A long time ago I used to sell these, but when I started trying to ironman this game I figured that I wasn't THAT pressed for cash at this point of the game and that the safety that +4 LCK gave to Haar was way more valuable. If Haar gets a single LCK proc in the 3-4 level ups that he gets before this map, with the 2 Ashera Icons he has 18 LCK which is exactly enough to face 0 crit from most thunder sages (or 1 crit at most, but if he procs LCK twice he 100% faces 0 crit here), so this is how I decided to spend my Icons. I consider giving Haar the Talisman as well, but ultimately I opt to give it to Ike. At this point of the game Haar faces way more mages than Ike, but there's at least one or two situations where I'm worried about Ike facing too much magic damage and there's also one place where I'm worried about Ike getting hit with a Sleep staff. Haar has a similar problem, but at the end of the day Ike is a game over condition and Haar isn't, so the Talisman goes to Ike. I could have used that same reasoning to give the Ashera Icons to Ike, but at this stage of the game Ike doesn't face crit from anyone that matters. By the time it might actually matter he's already gained enough LCK through lvl ups to not face crit. Finally, I give Haar a bunch of Hand Axes to replace the ones he burned in 3-E. For Haar's skills I usually go back between Nullify and Celerity, but for this map in particular I give him Celerity. It gives him more flexibility, it lets me kill the Bolting sage from outside of its attack range and it lets me kill the bishop with the Recovery staff without entering the range of a thunder sage.
The strategy here is to let Haar handle the top and then the right side of the map by himself, while Ike, Mia, Neph, Oscar, Shinon, Gatrie and the healers go to the bottom through the left side. I take my time safely killing the reinforcements and stealing a couple of things with Heather (there's a Statue Frag and a Card. Basically money; I just sell them later). 2 Turns before Heather moves in to steal the Statue Frag I have Haar bait the boss to the top side of the map, and she goes for the steal on the turn that Haar can kill the boss.
3-3 (Difficulty: 2)
Fairly simple map. The core strategy is to have Haar fly around burning boxes and killing problematic enemies before the rest of the squad gets there. Unfortunately, I once again make a careless mistake and Oscar ends up partnerless once more. At the start of the map I have Haar immediately burn the box near the start (he kills the thunder mage there on EP), and the rest of the squad clears the enemies in the starting area and breach the gate. Here I leave Neph in the front thinking that she needs some more kills, but I make the mistake of making her attack on PP thinking that she would dodge something (even with 50 hit or so she didn't dodge anything and got rekt). Still, there was no need to rush, I could have had here wait instead of attack and she would have 100% lived. I didn't necessarily need her, but I was really salty about having wasted 2 stat boosters that could have gone to Mia instead. I think that way, way later Mia ends up capping both STR and HP anyway, but knowing that Neph got to "enjoy" her stat boosters for a whopping 1 map I would have liked to have that extra safety and power on Mia instead. Nothing that could be done at that point though. At this I quickly decide that Oscar's 3rd partner will be Shinon. This was an interesting decision on hindsight. I've generally had good experiences with Shinon before, but he has some issues that are hard to ignore and for the purpose of being Oscar's partner it wasn't ideal. Having them block chokepoints together makes things a bit slow. Shinon is oddly tanky for a sniper, so I'm not worried about him dying. But you know, no 1 range and all that. There are some 1 tile chokepoints that they can manage pretty well, and there are some occasions where I can have someone else help out and make Shinon stand behind, but in some places I end up a bit shorthanded and I need Shinon to tank some hits at 1 range. But to my surprise, this choice ends up paying off really well.
But anyway, enough about Shinon. The rest of the map proceeds more than less how I had planned it out. In this map I gave Heather the Celerity scroll (and she still has her innate Pass) so that she can easily reach the runaway senators and steal their goodies. Haar's path is more than less this: burn a box turn 1, kill the thunder mage in EP, kill the mages close to where the 2nd senator, kill some enemies near the boss, get the Hammerne staff, burn the boxes at the top, and finally go burn the boxes on the top right. The rest of the squad proceeds together through the map burning the remaining 2 boxes and visiting the last 2 houses (I don't need the Blossom scroll at all but I visit every house out of habit anyways). I make sure to feed the kills to Ike and Mia. Usually I use Shinon mostly to chip, but now I made a point to let him have kills. I try to feed kills to Oscar but I have a hard time given his lower damage output. Oscar ends up falling behind for me quite a bit in this run. He does a fine job of chipping and being a roadblock, but his damage doesn't really pick up until much later when I do some major investment in him. Anyway, the map goes according to plan (sans Nephenee's death).
3-4 (Difficulty: 2)
Another fairly simple map. By this point Haar was around 17-18 with a couple of capped stats, so I promoted him with the Crown I got from 3-3. Sometimes I give a second Speedwings to Haar after promoting to make absolutely sure he can double everything, but I decided it was overkill and hoarded the Speedwings for a little longer. I use a similar strategy as in the previous one: have Haar rush ahead, kill the most annoying enemies, then the rest of the squad proceeds forward and takes whatever kills they can. Most notably, I have Haar take out the left ballista and the 2 thunder mages there asap, then I have him head to the top and kill most of the enemies there. I give Haar Celerity here, so I have to be careful not to take too much damage from thunder magic and the Wyrmslayer, but with a bit of care he won't die. While I do use Ranulf throughout the run, I don't bother going out of my way to feed him kills or build his strike rank. I just make him chip or take kills where it's convenient. Sadly the cat gauge is just too crappy to make him worth investing in. Still, he's fairly good at base level with A strike. I use him here and there for different things, and I really appreciate having him in 4-2 where I'm extremely shorthanded and any help I can get is useful. The other beast Laguz I get in this map go straight to the bench xd
3-5 (Difficulty: 2)
Even though this is a defend map, I actually find it easier to play aggressive and go for the boss kill after clearing the initial wave of enemies. With the help of Reyson I have Ike reach the chokepoint in the center of the building on turn 1, and I park Mia right besides him. To the right, I have Shinon standby at the ledge, with Oscar right next to him to the right and Gatrie blocking the remaining gap. To the left, I have Haar head down and kill all the enemies there so I don't bother blocking the ledges. There's one last ledge in the middle, so I have Boyd stand there to block it. I haven't used Boyd for combat since 3-1, but I end up using him here and there for utility sometimes (like blocking the ledge here or shoving/smiting in some other places). I also supported him with Mist because I wanted to get the 3-E Spirit Dust. I had no concrete plans for it, but I wanted it anyways just in case since it's basically free.
Oscar, Shinon and Gatrie stay where they are fighting generals for the rest of the map. After Haar, Ike and Mia are done clearing the area I make them head down to where the boss is. I make Reyson chug some grass while I'm waiting for some enemies to die so that I can use a 4 man refresh at the end of the map, which lets me easily uncover the boss, steal his Energy Drop and kill him. I actually have a very specific plan for this Drop. I was very briefly tempted to give it to Mia to compensate for the Drop she didn't get in 3-2, but I quickly discarded that idea. Mia was doing more than enough damage at this point between the STR she had gained plus the Adept and crit procs. So I end up saving my Drop to make my life easier much, much later in the run.
3-6 (Difficulty: 3)
This is where I lost my first run that made it past Part 1, and it was extremely frustrating. It was to a careless mistake, too. My plan involves having Jill block the chokepoint on the top right of the little island where you start, and as simple as that was I fucked it up. I made Jill move 1 tile too far north, so the Laguz poured through, ganged up on Sothe and killed him. This was specially aggravating because after having reset here it took me like 6-7 more resets before I finally made it out of Par 1 alive again, so on my subsequent runs that made it this far I was ultra paranoid and made absolutely sure that everyone was parked on the correct tile. But leaving aside that epic fail, this map isn't that hard in theory. There are other possible strategies, but one of them that works well if I intend on training units is to block all of the tiles that access the starting area (which basically amounts to 5 tiles: 2 to the top, 3 to the right. I could easily put units on each tile that can't die in 1 round, unequip them and just heal them every turn, and then just have the BK murder everything. But the "training units" part is what makes this hard because if you let them do combat and you get unlucky they could kill one of your units blocking the way, break through and murderize you squishy game over conditions. At the very least I wanted to get Jill going, and at this point she can tank around 2-3 hits from tigers and she can't one round them without a crit, so the chances of her dying are really low. Volug and Zihark (which I had blocking the top part) also had a low chance of dying. Zihark is unequipped and is basically a walking Shine Barrier at this point. Volug doesn't quite get one rounded untransformed, so even though he needs a turn or two to chug grass he doesn't die while untransformed. I also gave him the Resolve scroll to help with his survivability at low HP a little. Once he transforms he doesn't usually suffer from success, but it CAN get dicey here and there. He can't one round cats before hitting S strike, but he usually hits S rank during this map, and at that point the risk is that he takes on so many cats at the same time that he drains all his gauge and untransformed, then has to fight a tiger untransformed while already damaged and then gets killed. Still, that's a rather unlikely series of coincidences, and at least I never had him untransform in EP for me. I was chugging grass on every turn anyway and left the healing to Laura.
I think my biggest mistake in this map was giving Nolan Beastfoe and leaving him equipped (I have him next to Jill. On the first turn I cover the last gap with yellow units that I commanded with target. Once they start dying and the BK shows up he takes that spot, although I generally leave him unequipped so that Jill has time to farm a few more kills). He didn't die in this map, but throughout my several playthroughs I've realized that while Nolan is plenty useful in Part 1, in the Part 3 DB maps he becomes somewhat of a liability if you don't give him any of the Part 1 stat boosters and generally focus all of your resources on Jill. He's still a perfectly useful roadblock, but if you leave him equipped (specially if he has Beastfoe equipped since he OHKOs even tigers with it, with Tavros equipped at least) there's a very good chance he'll get hit by a tiger twice in one turn, die, let everyone through and cost you a game over. I think that just giving him Beastfoe so that he can help kill the enemies that start within the starting area is fine since you generally don't have many things that can one round Laguz in this map, but I think that the right play is to unequip him immediately after that to safely use him as a roadblock and just give up on the idea of training him. On my more casual runs I've always trained him and taken him to the endgame, but not having the luxury of being able to restart the map if something goes wrong means that he's just too much of a liability if I try to train him in the Part 3 DB maps, a realization that sadly hadn't dawned on me at this point (which is dumb on my part because I had already lost a run to this exact same reason at 3-12). Either way, I didn't get unlucky with Nolan at 3-6 in this run. Not many tigers went for him, and after I left the BK next to him unequipped they always preferred attacking him instead. I never really understand how the AI prioritizes attacking. Sometimes they seem to prefer not getting countered even though they could go murder a much weaker unit, but sometimes they'll go murder said weak unit even though they could choose to not take a counter. Regardless, it was useful in this map.
Paranoid as I was from my previous defeat, nothing much went wrong in this map save for a little accident at the beginning. I actually positioned my units incorrectly and I couldn't kill all of the Laguz inside of the starting area. I panicked a little but I quickly realized that I could surround the remaining cat with 4 scrubs. One of them would die, obviously, but Sothe and Micaiah would live to see another day. The cat chose Meg as his last meal before being promptly executed on turn 2. Jill managed to reach lvl17 or so with the help of Paragon, leaving her ready for promotion to tier 3.
3-7 (Difficulty: 2)
I have to admit, the main reason I chose to do this ironman on a Clear File is not necessarily to get Pelleas and Lehran, but rather, to have an actual objective in this map. 3-7 is just so boring when all you have to do is wait at the starting area, killing the few enemies that move. Some wyverns will fly over to annoy you, sure, but Haar can take care of the bottom ones and the hawks can take care of the left ones before they even get close to your squad, which makes the map pretty brainless. If that's how I chose to play the map I'd actually rate its difficulty 1. I think it's arguably the easiest map of all of Part 3. However, with the incentive of recruiting Lehran at 4-E-5 I feel like I have an actual reason to play the map; make my way to the bottom, make Ike fight the BK and then retreat before the BK slaughters me. This is, of course, not all that hard either, but it does give me something to do and it's certainly more challenging that sitting at the starting area waiting for 12 turns doing nothing. I could have done this anyway on a fresh file even though doing so would yield no reward, but that's no fun. I don't think getting Lehran with a free Ashera Staff at 4-E-5 trivializes the final map, so I don't feel like I'm cheapening the challenge by getting him. Anyway, with that in mind I think it's fair to rate the difficulty of this map 2, since you can't just no brain it if you want to fight the BK and come out alive.
That said, my strategy is still fairly simple. Have Haar fly down to kill the initial wyverns, then move to the left while killing some annoying enemies on the way (including some Physics bishops), then proceed to the bottom to clear out as many enemies as possible from the island where the BK is without entering his attack range so that when he moves on turn 10-11 (forgot which one), Ike has a tile he can step into to attack the BK with the card I transferred over from 1-E, and then have either Haar or the hawks rescue him out. The rest of the squad proceeds down at their own pace, taking what kills they can. Oscar has to stay back for obvious reasons.
One interesting thing I did in this map was that on 3-6 I gave Zihark a the Cancel scroll (as in, I put it in his inventory as an actual item). The reason for this is because I wanted to give it to Mia. I should have transferred it at the end of Part 1, but I hadn't done that so I thought this was a good alternative. I have Heather steal it from him before taking him out with someone else.
3-8 (Difficulty: 2)
Nothing much noteworthy happens here. Ike is lvl19, and Mia and Shinon are also getting really close to promotion. Unfortunately Oscar was really starting to fall behind here. He was kind of underleveled, didn't do much damage and couldn't double for shit. At this point I was really worried that he wasn't going to hold up in Part 4, so here's were I decided to make a bit of an investment on him. I gave him something like 2 BEXP lvl ups to cap his SPD (he had a really high chance of proccing SPD on both since it's his 2nd highest growth after SKL) and decided that I'd use the 3-11 Crown on him so that he could escape his shitty 24 SPD cap. I also decided that at the end of 3-9 I would take Geoffrey's Brave Lance and send it over and repair it with the Hammerne staff. I didn't have too many good skills to give him, but I did give him Daunt and Corrosion which would help his utility a little. Even with capped speed he only improved marginally in 3-8 and 3-10, but after promoting and with the Brave Lance he finally started putting out some work in 3-11.
Going back to 3-8 though, it was also pretty easy. I had Oscar and Shinon handle the right path, Haar the center path, and everyone else the left path. When I got to the boss, I made Haar go through the front and deal with the bulk of the enemies, while Ike, Mia and the hawks went in from behind through the left path to take out some reinforcements as well as some enemies that went that way.
3-9 (Difficulty: 2)
I considered rating this map a 3, but the game gives you the tools to make this easy on yourself if you want to. The thing with this map is that most of your units are kind of weak compared to the enemy units. It's easy enough to kill the tier 1 soldiers that go around burning houses, but even then Geoffrey is the only one that can reliably one round them. Kieran might be able to, but I can't remember. The others definitely can't. Saving the houses is optional of course, but the fact that they struggle to kill tier 1 units this far into the game shows how weak your units (again, sans Geoffrey) are, and it gives you a good idea of exactly how well they will fare against the tier 2 enemies (that is to say, not well at all). The biggest problem here is that there's something like 3 or so enemies in the area around the boss that have overlapping ranges and it could be dangerous to make Geoffrey approach them all at once. You could use yellow units, or even some of your crappier blue units that you don't mind sacrificing to bait them over and make Geoffrey and Kieran fight them on PP, but this takes a while and this is a map that I feel really discourages you from turtling. Even if saving the houses is optional, having more BEXP is still better. And what's more worrying is that you could get overwhelmed by reinforcements if you really take your sweet time, and again, Geoffrey (and to a much lesser degree Kieran) is the only one that can fight them somewhat competently.
With all of that said, the game is kind enough to give you a free Crown in the base. When I wasn't doing ironmans I usually greeded it out and saved the Crown to promote someone at 3-11, but having made it this far I didn't feel like taking any risks so I just went ahead and promoted Geoffrey with it. It doesn't feel like a great investment considering that he doesn't come back until 4-5, but being able to get through 3-9 with virtually zero risk is 100% worth it. With his promotion bonuses, Geoffrey goes from cutting it close with some enemies, specially the ones camping around the boss area, to being able to comfortably kill them all without risk of death, and because he can push through all at once you avoid most of the reinforcements. Having Sol is also a nice mental reassurance, both because this speeds up the killing and because it gives him a small bit of extra survivability with the healing. With this considered, the difficulty of the map ends up being pretty fair.
Before starting the map I fetch a couple of things from the bargains. I get the Adept scroll, which is kind of expensive at 6000 gold but at this stage I have more gold that I realistically need. Marcia gets to hold it for this map because there's no downside to doing that, but it immediately gets reassigned to Shinon at 3-11. I also pick up the Shine Barrier from the shop, which I would typically never get but I had a somewhat specific idea in mind of it, so I buy it and store it away in the convoy for later use. I make sure to remove Astrid's and Geoffrey's Paragon scrolls and deposit them the convoy as well. I considered equipping them to someone, but I wasn't going to train anyone from the CRKs and I didn't want to risk one of them dying with Paragon by accident.
The strategy for this map was more than less as follows: Danved climbs the ledge and stays there keeping swordmasters busy for pretty much the rest of the map. The also prevents the reinforcements that spawn at the starting area from going anywhere. Marcia goes all the way to the top and attacks the soldier that's there but she can't kill him (I think she would get the kill with an Adept proc but it wasn't necessary and I wasn't counting on it anyways), and then she Cantos back a little outside of all other attack ranges. I need her to fight the Halberdier with the Speedwings but not yet. After she kills the solder and douses the house I put her in range of the Halberdier. Eventually I have to make Calil help her out with Meteor so that they can get the kill and claim the Speedwings. Geoffrey and Kieran rush through the main path (with Geoffrey on the front), cutting through the middle of the map to make it to the boss asap. Makalov and Astrid help killing soldiers a little but they don't do a lot of damage. This is one of the few maps where I leave the yellow units on roam from beginning to end; they're actually quite useful. They distract the enemies a little, help kill the soldiers, douse houses and the bishops will sometimes heal my units, saving me a PP of having to use a healing item. When I go attack the boss I just have to pray that Geoffrey doesn't proc Sol so that I get the chance to retrieve his Brave Lance, although it wouldn't have been a major loss if he had (Oscar would have been less useful, but I could live with that). Still, it doesn't happen so this gives me the chance to make Kieran take his lance and finish off the boss, neatly wrapping up this chapter.
3-10 (Difficulty: 2)
Another map that gets mostly trivialized by Haar. The challenge here is supposed to be protecting Elincia, but only 2 enemies start in her attacking range and Haar can immediately brutalize one of them turn 1. With the help of Reyson and Celerity, he can make it far enough that after killing this one enemy he can fly into the range of most of the remaining moving enemies, which promptly suicide on Haar on EP. I think there are some enemies that Haar can't quite one round with regular Hand Axes, but at this point forged Hand Axes are already available so I make him a couple (although I think he still can't one round generals without the Hammer equipped or a Stun proc). Killing the enemies near the boss is a bit tedious because most of them don't move, but he can still kill them in a timely manner. I prioritize killing the bows so that then Elincia and co. inevitably rush the boss when they could have just stayed away safely they don't risk getting her killed. The rest of the squad can handle the enemies on the bottom no problem. At this point Ike is capped, Mia and Shinon are extremely close to promotion and Oscar, while not that strong yet, is also ready for promotion using a Crown. The hawks aren't anywhere close to S strike rank, but they have pretty damn good combat even at A rank (Janaff more than Ulki, but they're both good), so they take care of the reinforcements that spawn near the bottom. The Purge bishop is surprisingly not much of a concern. I do kill him as soon as I can break through, but I don't bother burning his Purge uses or even using Pure Waters. In Part 4 there are several maps where I spam Pure Waters, but there aren't any maps in Part 3 where I find it worthwhile (except maybe 3-E, but when I play it more slowly it's not really necessary because the beast Laguz to the left of the map end up tanking all the Sleep uses). Anyway, kind of easy map. Not a whole lot that can go wrong, and I finished it without issue.
3-11 (Difficulty: 2)
In this chapter I finally get to promote all of my units (well, except Ike, but he's lvl20 with STR, SKL and DEF capped, SPD is 2 points away and he has Ragnell, so he might as well be a lvl1 tier 3 unit). Mia, Shinon and Oscar get their big power spike, specially Oscar who besides promoting also gets his hands on a strong weapon. However, even though my units are at the peak of their Part 3 power, this damned bridge is still quite treacherous. There are pitfalls everywhere (I memorized where all of them are a long time ago, but the possibility of falling into one at a bad time by accident is scary) the onagers are really annoying and although they don't do a lot of damage it can still add up, specially for your squishier units, and there are some concentrations of really annoying enemies in the tight path. If you're careful though you should have any losses.
I followed my usual plan of sending Haar ahead to deal with bothersome enemies while the rest of the squad charges from behind. Unfortunately, this time I bit off a little more than I could chew, and Haar very regrettably bites the dust. In a demonstration of complete dumbassery, I placed Haar in the range of the 2 wind sages near the 2nd Shine Barrier and a 3rd mage that was behind them. I'm gonna be honest, I didn't think that one through at all. Maybe I believed that Haar would dodge at least 1 out of 3 hits considering they had like 40 hit on him, but it was still an unnecessary risk. A Pure Water would have saved him too I guess but normally I would never consider it because simply not making him fight more than 2 mages at once is more than enough for him to not die. I think the run was going too well up to here so I got complacent, and Haar paid the price. Even though I didn't need him that much anymore at this point, he would have been extremely nice to have for Part 4 and the endgame. I was really starting to worry about what I was going to about 4-2, since I had basically no trained units I could afford to send to Tibarn's army other than Haar, so my plan up to this point had been to send him there (I know he's better in the desert map, but Jill alone would suffice there and I had no one else I could send with Tibarn). I did have some experience doing 4-2 with basically just Tibarn, Elincia and the Hawks, but I also remember struggling a bit with it. Still, I wasn't afraid that 4-2 was going to be a dead end since I was confident I could at least keep those 4 alive even if all the other scrubs died, and that's all I needed to clear 4-5. What also sucked though was that Haar went down with one of the only 2 Hammers, as well as with the Celerity scroll. As long as I had 1 Hammer for 4-E-2 I was fine, but I was worried that without Celerity some of my 4-E strategies weren't going to work so well. I was also super paranoid that I would lose my last Hammer somewhere, so I just kept it safe in the convoy until 4-E. But anyway, those were problems I was gonna have to think about later. I was kinda salty and a bit demoralized that Haar died, but I just accepted that it's part of the ironman experience to lose someone important here and there.
Despite that the fact that I lost my best unit to this map, it was completely on me. I don't think it's hard enough to deserve a 3. With just a bit more of care Haar can easily blitz through the map and not risk death, so I think 2 is still fair.
Haar did clear a lot of the path before dying though, so he managed to help me out one last time. The rest of the squad proceeded as usual. When it was more than less safe, I used my fliers to cover the pitfalls and let my ground units advance. On one last note, I leave the yellow units on halt for most of the map. I leave them on roam when they appear so that Tibarn can transform, but after that I halt him. He's virtually invincible, but I still don't want him going anywhere even remotely close to the boss, who surprisingly enough CAN kill him (although I can't imagine him having a very high hit rate on Tibarn). Although, thinking back, I think it would have been a reasonable middle ground to at least halt him on top of a pitfall after he transforms, since the generic enemies have 0 chance of touching him and it would have helped my ground units progress just a tad bit quicker.
Oh, also of note, right before seizing I made sure to trade away Ike's Wyrmslayer and his Concoction, and I made him equip a Bronze Sword. I was like 99% sure that I was not going for the Ike kill on 3-13, but just in case I got the chance to do it I made some preparations for it. It didn't hurt to have an alternative victory condition available, even if it was unlikely that I could actually go for it.
3-12 (Difficulty: 3)
It's interesting how the DB chapters just kept giving me trouble all the way through the end. While on my final, successful attempt I got through 3-12 without issue, this was another point where I got frustratingly sent back to 1-P on my first time here. On that occasion I was using the same strategy that I almost always used here: use 2 units to block the ramp down from the starting point, keeping Tauroneo near his starting point, Leonardo somewhere near the top in standby to kill the falcoknights that flew up (he can surprisingly OHKO them reliably despite being a crappy 10/1 Sniper), Jill somewhere down in the middle of all of the enemies to kill the bulk of them and finally Sothe and Micaiah as far away as possible from the action in the top right corner. This was sort of working until the 2 range enemies reached my defensive line and nearly killed either Volug or Nolan (can't remember which of the two at this point). For whatever reason I couldn't afford to heal on that PP with items, so there was a good chance that they would break through on EP if I didn't send Micaiah down to heal them with her Physics staff, which only had 5 range because I hadn't trained her at all. Unfortunately Laura had died in Part 1 in that run, so Micaiah was the only choice. I think Jill was too far away to reach even with the boots so was going to be in a tight spot if I didn't at least try healing with Micaiah. Clearing this map wouldn't have been impossible, but if they killed several of my units here 3-13 would have been a nightmare. But in the end, things didn't work out. On that same turn on EP, all the enemies ganged up on Nolan, he didn't dodge a single hit, died, and the very last halberdier that could still move, which incidentally was exactly 7 tiles away from Micaiah, moved in to kill her, totally ignoring the Shade scroll she had equipped and Sothe's Guard didn't proc. The saddest part was that I just needed 2 more kills for the map to end. This was my final failed attempt before clearing the ironman, and it took me like 10 more resets to finally make it back here.
Once again, I was in ultra paranoia mode because of what had happened before so I altered my strategy a little to make absolutely sure that I couldn't die here. This time I set my defensive line much farther back and it consisted of 3 units (Nolan, Zihark and Volug). Instead of sending Jill somewhere in the middle bottom, I had her wait at the bottom right of the map, effectively killing 90% of the enemies there herself. Only a couple of stragglers made it to my defensive line, which was my intention. None of the 2 range enemies made it there either. I hadn't given up on training Nolan, but I decided that these guys didn't give that much exp anyways and risking a game over here wasn't worth it so I let Jill do all of the work. This time I also had Laura alive, so if I absolutely had to heal someone with a staff I didn't need to put Micaiah anywhere near the front lines.
The only interesting thing about my preparations was that I promoted Jill, gave her the Boots, gave her a bunch of Hand Axes, took away her Paragon and gave her Adept instead. She could one round most enemies without an Adept proc, but a couple of them were too tanky for that and a lucky Adept proc at the right time accelerated the clearing of the map.
3-13 (Difficulty: 4)
This map was absolutely brutal. I don't know how else I could describe it. Unlike the only other map that I'm rating a 4, I think that this map is legitimately hard (whereas 1-5 is mostly the complete bullshit RNG that takes the game away from your hands that makes it such a reset heavy point). It's possible to play it safe, block all of the ledges, and block the only chokepoint that isn't a ledge with your strongest units, but even then there are still things that can go wrong. For starters, you just don't have enough units to block every ledge. If you still have most of your scrubs alive it's definitely possible, but if a hawk ever makes it up there they'll get one rounded and leave a crack in your defenses, and after the beast Laguz start pouring through it's pandemonium. For this reason I prefer to halt the yellow units and rescue drop some of them onto the ledges. On the top left side I leave this job to Fiona, and on the first turn Jill can help rescue drop a general on the ledge near the top right. This way even if a hawk sneaks through and attacks from behind, they can't one round any of the units blocking ledges. That said, getting rid of the hawks after they sneak around my defensive line can be a problem. On the left side I had Leonardo waiting to snipe any that made it through, and near the right side I had Jill who had 11 move and Canto which should have allowed her to move to kill a hawk and then go back to either a ledge or the chokepoint in the center of the map. I was under no illusion that this plan was flawless, but I was rather certain that I could make it through. And I certainly did, but things did NOT go according to plan, not at all. I nearly lost the run here and I just barely managed to survive by the skin of my teeth.
This is where insisting on training Nolan finally came back to bite me in the ass. I made a few more mistakes too, but essentially if I had left Nolan unequipped the shitstorm that came after his death wouldn't have happened. I started the chapter by fucking up already, and I forgot to halt the yellow units on turn 1. It didn't mess with my blockades on the top part of the map, so all of the units on the bottom went off to fight the Laguz. It's inevitable that the Laguz take some damage here anyway from being countered when they attack, but they took a lot more damage than usual since they were attacked and also took hits from the ballistas and the onagers. The reason why this was a problem was because this throws off the numbers when they go to fight my blue units. At full HP (or near full HP) Nolan and Volug are mostly incapable of one rounding them, meaning that they won't have to go through multiple rounds of combat in one EP. Volug can one round a lot of cats at this point, but he still gets stuck on the tigers that are almost full HP. To try to remedy this a little I tried killing on PP the most damaged Laguz so that they wouldn't cause a problem (mostly just with Jill since she's the only one that could move around freely). In the meantime I had Fiona moving yellow units over to the ledge to the left of the left side ballista, with Leonardo on standby near the ballista and Sothe covering the ledge immediately below it. On the right side I had Tauroneo with a yellow general covering that ledge.
I managed to survive for a turn or two like this, but shortly after that disaster struck. Nolan was still too weak to tank more than 1 tiger, and unfortunately for him on turn 3 or so he crit the first tiger that hit him, and the second tiger that went after him finished him off. Immediately after that more Laguz poured through and killed Zihark as well, leaving only Volug alive (and without a support partner, so he lost like 45 avoid just like that). At this point I couldn't afford to have Jill just hovering nearby, so I made her go kill the tiger that made it through and covered the gap that Nolan left behind. With no other choice, I had to make Sothe move from the ledge he was covering to go cover the gap in the center instead and Leonardo had to take Sothe's spot. I was a bit worried that Volug might turn to be the next weak link in my final line of defense, what with him having lost a large chunk of avoid and not having the possibility to unequip him and also being liable to untransform on EP even if I made him chug grass on every single turn, but while I did have a few scares he ends up pulling through.
This wasn't the end of it though. The next problem came when the hawks arrived. Now both of my contingencies against them were busy taking the positions of their fallen comrades (Jill filling in for Nolan, and Leonardo filling in for Sothe who had to go take Zihark's position). Without having much of a choice, I set the yellow units to roam so that the ballisticians could take aim at them (who thankfully always seem to prioritize the hawks if there are any in range). However, this created a bit of a problem in my defenses near the left ballista where I was relying entirely on yellow units to block the ledges. While some of the yellow units in this map seem to never move at all no matter what happens (like the general I had dropped next to Tauroneo), others WILL move if there are any enemies within attacking range, which effectively caused my defenses on the left side of the map to crumble when I set them to roam. The units I had set to the left of that ballista jumped down, 3-13 archer style, leaving the area completely exposed. They the Laguz didn't immediately kill Leonardo, but I knew that that's what was coming next. I had been completely breached; it was only a matter of time before they attacked my units in the center from the left and they made it past the stairs on the left side and crossed the green line. I still had some options to save it, although I did think for a moment that I was pretty doomed. I set the yellow units back to halt, and I made Fiona pick up some nearby halberdiers and dropped them in front of the stairs, but I needed some time to do that and in the meantime the rest of the yellow units that had been near the ballista plus Leonardo became a sacrifice. The situation in the center of the map was looking pretty grim too; they had breached through the left ledge, so now the Laguz had an angle from which to attack Sothe twice in a turn and cause a game over. With the help of Jill I managed to rearrange the position of my 3 units in such a way that Sothe ended up protected and could only take 1 attack per turn, but in exchange both Jill and Volug ended up exposed from 2 angles, increasing the chances that they could die (and thus result in Sothe's death anyway). I was sweating bullets the whole time. Both of them nearly died a couple of times, but just barely survived in the end. Laura and Micaiah also made a huge difference by healing from inside the green line using Physics staves. Volug never got a chance to heal on PP because he was busy chugging grass to stay transformed, so on some turns I had to use both of my Physics on him. Towards the end I also had to heal the halberdier blocking the path to the left so that the tigers could tear their way through.
I think this map didn't need to be this intense, but the way things went showed me that one small mistake or accident quickly leads to a much bigger problem that could easily result in a game over. It's tough for similar reasons to 3-6, but it's much less forgiving. I prevailed in the end, but I came extremely close to losing yet another run to a Part 3 DB chapter.
I also lost one of my Paragon scrolls here (it went down with Nolan), which would normally really suck but at this point I was just relieved that I didn't lose the run.
Deaths: Nolan, Zihark and Leonardo.
3-E (Difficulty: 2)
This was quite the breather after the absolute bloodbath that was 3-13, which had resulted in the deaths of half of the remaining DB members. I didn't have a whole lot of things to do here. For my preps, I just made sure that the remaining Paragon scrolls were in the convoy and I made a max might max hit Hand Axe that I also dropped in the convoy for Jill. On hindsight, I should have made at least 2, but honestly even just the 1 forged Hand Axe accelerated 4-E a lot. Normally I'd buy a Pure Water for Ike here so that he can advance aggressively and kill enemies faster, but this time around I didn't feel like it and I let Skrimir's squad tank all of the Sleep staff uses (and I wasn't concerned enough about the Bolting tome to warrant buying Pure Waters). I did slowly make my way forward so that I could attempt to retrieve the Rescue staff, but unfortunately I got bad RNG with Heather and failed both attempts (I reached 80 kills immediately after that on EP and the map ended). I didn't have any specific plans for it, but there were 1 or 2 spots where it would have been nice.
Anyway, the green units do almost all of the work here. All I had to do was carefully approach the middle with my squad after all of the Sleep staff was spent. The only other thing I was a bit wary of was Jill, who starts moving at some point (although it might be triggered by you getting too close, I don't know). Being a tier 3 flier with 11 movement was kind of intimidating, but I had an easy solution for it. I just made sure Ike was the only one standing in her range after the first turn she moved, and then I took her out on the next turn (I had no Nihil no Ike, but when she attacked him she did so from 2 range with a Hand Axe so she had no chance of proccing Stun. On the next turn I attacked from 2 range as well).
Also of note, at this point I still had 2 Speedwings left; I that I was saving for Part 4 and the other I had no particular plans for, so I gave the spare Speedwings to Ike. He didn't exactly need them, but I think it was nice for him to have it just in case.
As an interesting side note, this in this chapter you get Elincia added to your roster even though you can't deploy her, so I take the chance to remove her Mercy skill. Might as well do it now while I still remembered to do it. She doesn't take a whole lot of kills in 4-2, but it'd be embarrassing if I forgot to remove Mercy and that ended up getting her killed on a counter/EP or something stupid like that.
4-P (Difficulty: 2)
This map is definitely the easiest Part 4 map previous to the tower. I do need to do a bit of a setup on turn 1, but after that I can easily go on autopilot and finish the chapter with ease. The plan is to make Jill both of the enemies immediately north of the starting room (with a refresh of Leanne) and then Canto all the way to the middle of the map where she can take on a bunch of enemies on EP, with her forged Hand Axe equipped and several more regular Hand Axes queued up. I leave the bottom right side of the map to Naesala and Skrimir (I make Skrimir use a Laguz Stone turn 1), although I try to leave most of the work to Naesala because I need to build up his strike rank to SS, and any level ups I can get on him are very nice too. I can't completely block the chokepoint to the right side, but I just back up everyone else as far back as possible and the halberdiers don't have enough move to reach them, so the surviving enemies suicide on Naesala and Skrimir.
After turn 1 the rest is easy. With Paragon, Jill is gaining multiple levels per turn and quickly starts capping or near capping stats. By the time the boss reaches her they barely do any damage to her, if they can hit her at all. At some point she starts one rounding everything that isn't a general even with regular Hand Axes. Anyway, Jill single handedly wipes out the entire top half of the map without breaking a sweat. On the bottom side, all of the 1 range enemies suicide on Naesala on EP. When the bow pallys start spawning I send in Skrimir as well to help rout them before I get flooded by reinforcements. Because Naesala faces a ton of bows both in this chapter and in 4-3 I take away his Maelstrom skill and replace it with Nullify.
4-1 (Difficulty: 2)
The final fog of war map in the game; and while I do have most of my trained units in this army, it can still prove to be a bit tricky. My main worry in this map is the horde of enemies in the middle, particularly the dark sages. My strategy for this map is to make Oscar and Shinon handle the left side, Nailah and Volug the right side, and finally Ike and Mia the middle. What worries from the middle is that if Ike gets hit by all of the sages he COULD die, I think. At the very least, I know that in some of my first playthroughs (not on my ironman attempts, I'm talking about a long time ago) I've had Ike die this way. However, I think I've taken enough precautions in order to avoid this scenario rather comfortably. I don't have Ike rush too deep on turn 1; for this turn, I just have Ike and Mia stand together at the entrance. On turn 2, I tuck away Mia in between the unbreakable sandbags and the cliff to the right and place Ike 1-2 tiles to her left, making it so that the only way for Mia to be attacked is for the 2 range enemies to go all the way around and attack her from inside (a couple of them still do, but the vast majority of the enemies end up fighting Ike). The reason why I do this is not because I have a problem with Mia being attacked but because Ike is holding my only other Paragon scroll and I want him to make the most use out of it, so in this map I need him to take most of the kills. When I do this on turn 2 I make sure to make Ike pop a Pure Water. He also has the Talisman that he used all the way back in 3-2, so I've reduced the chances of him dying to the point where I think it's safe to assume that it just won't happen. This lets Ike snowball and be almost ready for the endgame by the end of the map, although he still has some levels to gain in 4-4. Mia doesn't see a whole lot of action here as a result, but she's still plenty strong and she gets to claim a lot of kill with Paragon in 4-4 so she doesn't really fall behind.
On the left side Oscar and Shinon are stopping the enemies from breaching. There's a sneaky falcoknight there that has definitely killed my squishies before in my first few playthroughs, but by now I was more than aware of it so in this run I kept Rafiel and Mist as far away as possible from the left. Here's where the Shine Barrier that I bought all the way back in 3-9 gets put to use. The enemies will break both of the sandbags anyway, so what I do to prevent them from wasting time is break one of them myself and place the Shine Barrier on the other side in front of Shinon. They'll still waste time breaking the other bag, but once they do, they won't be able to attack Shinon at 1 range. Again, Shinon is absurdly tanky for a Marksman, so it's not that I'm worried about him getting killed. I just don't want them to attack Shinon at 1 range and waste time because he can't counter. By the time the Shine Barrier dissipates they've dealt with all of the initial enemies in this area as well as some of the reinforcements, at which point they move out and kill the stragglers. Nailah and Volug have the easiest job by guarding the right side. Only a couple of generals are in this area plus a couple of reinforcements that walk up here.
I also bring Heather with a Torch to help improve the vision. She doesn't make much of a difference at the start of the map, but when I've killed most of the enemies all that remain are the Physics bishops that I have to go hunt in the darkness, so her increased vision is pretty helpful in spotting them. As an added bonus, I can use her to get an easy Arms Scroll (that I end up not using, but I did have something planned for it. I had the option to sell it too if I wanted more cash).
4-2 (Difficulty: 2)
This was the first Part 4 chapter that I was really worried about. Tibarn can put a lot of work here on his own, but he can't exactly solo the map. My plan was originally to send Tibarn alone through the top left and a trained unit (namely, Haar for this run) through the bottom, and leave the reinforcements that spawn at the top right and bottom right corners to the scrub squad plus Elincia, the hawks and Ranulf. But, you know, no Haar. I end up doing basically the same thing though, and to my surprise Elincia, the hawks and Ranulf don't have much trouble handling the bottom part of the map almost by themselves. I do make one last minute addition though: Lucia. I used to think she was pretty bad in Part 4, but I was shorthanded and I had leftover Crown (the one I was going to use on Nolan), so I decided to give her something like 2 BEXP lvl ups and promoted her. For her weapons, I bought her a Killing Edge and a Silver Blade. And, also to my surprise, she turned out being pretty good. She actually had enough damage to one round most things with either a crit or an Astra proc, and was dodgy enough to not take damage from most things. She was a pretty big help in clearing the path downwards, specially at killing the generals blocking the way. When I first looked at her I thought she wasn't even going to put a dent on the generals, but between her 2 BEXP lvl ups and the promo bonuses she was actually doing double digit damage to them, which became 1 or 2 round kills depending on what she procced.
On the top side of the map Tibarn kills everything basically by himself. There's some wind magic, but it's not really a problem. They don't do enough damage to be a concern and most of the time they miss anyways. I make sure to use PP to kill the 2 range enemies while the 1 range enemies die on EP. Once he's done clearing the top I send him ahead of the others to the area where Valtome is, but I can't make him kill everything. Tibarn can't safely fight the sniper with the Crossbow; his hitrate isn't that good, but it's still high enough that it's a realistic possibility that he'll hit Tibarn on the counter and leave him on single digit HP, at which point just about anything can finish him off if I'm unlucky. What I do instead is kill almost everything else while Elincia and co. arrive. Lucia stays near the bottom right corner to fight reinforcements, but Elincia, the hawks, Ranulf and Reyson eventually make it over to the boss area. Ranulf being the only one that doesn't take effective damage from the Crossbow, I use him to weaken the sniper, at which point Tibarn can safely kill him.
Pretty much everyone else stays behind to deal with the reinforcements from the top right corner. This group includes Calil, Pelleas, Tauroneo, Kieran, Gatrie and Rhys. They pretty much have to gang up all together on a single enemy to score a kill (usually it just takes 3-4 of them, but depending on misses it sometimes takes more), but thankfully they just spawn one at a time until turn 12, where something like 3 halberdiers and a sage spawn, so I try to wrap up the map before turn 12 (which I successfully do in this run).
This was another one of those maps that I was originally going to rate higher, but playing through it with minimal resources and not really struggling to clear it showed me that it wasn't as hard as I remembered it. Tibarn was never in any real danger either (only the Crossbow sniper has a shot at killing him) and it's simple enough to keep Elincia safe, so I wasn't risking a game over at any point.
4-3 (Difficulty: 2)
The obligatory desert map. The biggest threat right at the start is the nearby Purge bishop and the Elsleep staff that might as well have infinite range. I decide to take no risks and get rid of the Purge immediately. I don't think that this bishop moves, but he's such a pain and I don't want to risk Micaiah or Sothe getting sniped when I'm not paying attention so I just kill it turn 1. Jill and Naesala are the core of my strike force, with Jill having basically everything other than SKL capped and Naesala being pretty strong despite not hitting SS strike rank until the very end of the chapter. On turn 1 I make both of them pop a Pure Water and then refresh them with Leanne. Jill goes on to kill the Purge bishop while Naesala goes to the center of the map to kill a bunch of 1 range enemies. Jill now has Adept equipped again and I put the Paragon on the convoy (I plan to use both Paragons in 4-4), while Naesala still has the Nullify scroll. They spend most of the map just flying around killing basically all the enemies.
Skrimir and Sanaki take on together the few enemies that go chase them up top, which is to say, 2 warriors, a halberdier, 2 archers, a wyvern and a wind sage. Skrimir doesn't double anything here, sadly, so he always needs Sanaki to deal the finishing blow. But it works out, so my units on the top side stay safe while Jill and Naesala clear the map. Once most of the threats are dealt with, I use Tanith and Sigrun to rescue drop Sothe around the map and collect the hidden treasure, and Marcia ferries over Micaiah to recruit Stefan once it's safe. I had considered taking either Stefan or Volke to the tower briefly since I had a leftover spot for a filler unit, but ultimately I gave that spot to someone else. I still wanted to recruit Stefan though, even if it's just to have full recruitment and snatch his Vague Katti for Mia. Also, the only treasure I bother sending to the convoy is the Baselard, since I planned to use Volke a little in 4-5. Everything else basically just amounted to cash or items I wasn't going to need until the tower.
As annoying as the status staves they ultimately prove to not be much of a problem. Just to be safe I deploy some tier 1 scrubs as bait, but somehow they always end up going for either Micaiah or Laura despite the fact that they have more RES than units like Edward. Which is funny, because then all I need to do is equip them with a Restore staff and they auto-heal at the beginning of the next turn. Just to be safe though I still make Jill and Naesala pop some Pure Waters to make absolutely sure that they're not targeted. It also helps when they approach Numida since they take less damage from his Purge.
I think that the only really nasty surprise in this map (that isn't immediately obvious like the Purge near the start) is the 3 wyverns that spawn at the top of the map on turn 14 which would definitely kill any squishy, immobile units up there, but I always clear the chapter before that turn, and even if I didn't the only units I absolutely have to protect are Micaiah, Sothe and Sanaki, and I have plenty of fliers to ferry them around. Hell, the only one of those 3 that would still be near the wyvern spawning point by turn 14 would be Sanaki, so I could just have Nealuchi pick her up and run.
My impression of this map during this playthrough is that it was a lot easier than I remembered it being. Although to be fair, a capped everything Jill goes a long way to trivializing the difficulty.
Oh, and the BK is a big kekw xd The poor bastard moves through the desert 1 tile at a time. He still manages to help me with like 2 kills, but by the time he arrives most of the enemies near his spawning point have been killed by Naesala.
4-4 (Difficulty: 3)
This is just my opinion after clearing my ironman of this game, but after going through all of it I think this is the only truly hard map in Part 4 where you have a real chance of losing some units (or getting a game over if you're really unlucky) even if you carefully plan ahead. The Sleep staff near the top is a major pain in the ass that you can't really avoid; you basically have to send one of your good combat units, make them pop a Pure Water and pray that the Sleep staff misses. You won't necessarily die just because you got hit by the Sleep, but it's still troublesome and you could in fact end up with a dead unit depending on who it is. I didn't lose anyone here to the Sleep but I know I have in previous, old runs. The game also spams you with a crapton for reinforcements. The ones that spawn near the bottom are specially annoying, and if you don't have someone covering the ledges you'll get run over pretty quickly. And what I personally think is the nastiest surprise this map throws at you: a Meteor sage far away from where most of your units would be at turn 14. Thankfully Ike is the only game over condition, who can only realistically die if he gets hit by Sleep and then hit by a bunch of enemies while he's asleep. But could easily lose someone like Rafiel by accident, specially if you're not expecting some of the reinforcements (and doubly so for the Meteor sage).
Anyway, this is more than less what the map went like. I make Oscar and Shinon through the bottom path since Oscar doesn't really have a choice. They don't quite one round most enemies without procs of some kind, but they do proc skills and crits often so it doesn't take them long to make it to the stairs near the ledges in time to kill the reinforcements. I immediately make Tormod and co. retreat to safety. They're way too weak to do anything at this point. Muarim can still do decent damage and has a respectable amount of DEF, but he gets doubled by everything so I don't want to use him to fight unless I absolutely have to. With the help of Rafiel to get everyone closer, Ike, Mia, Volug and Nailah make it up the ledge. Ike and Mia have my Paragon scrolls equipped, so I try to feed all the kills to them (mostly to Mia if possible since Ike is closed to capped anyway, but I don't slow down or go out of my way to try and give Mia more kills). Heather and Mist (who I never promoted btw; she didn't have the level to, but I would have considered using the Holy Crown after she climbed the ledge if she had been lvl 10+) follow behind them when it's safe. I leave Heather in charge of collecting the treasure chests after my Nailah cleared out the enemies in them. I make Ike, Mia and Nailah go step barely in range of the Sleep staff while blocking a chokepoint, and I keep Mist nearby (although at a safe distance) so that she can Restore someone if necessary. Even though I used Pure Waters on everyone Ike still got put to sleep, which made me a bit nervous but in the position he was it was impossible to attack him more than once per turn, so I knew I was safe. Weirdly enough though, none of the enemies in range attacked him, instead preferring to attack Nailah, who teared them to shreds. I have no idea why the AI decided that this was a good plan, but I ain't complaining. When the Sleep staff is completely spent, I proceed to raid the boss room with Ike and Mia, while Nailah went over to open the other 2 treasure rooms and kill the enemies within them. After making sure I had killed all of the enemies that moved in the boss room, I put Rafiel within Oliver's range so that he recruits himself, and I have both Rafiel and Oliver start heading down while Ike and Mia finish cleaning up.
While all of this is happening, Oscar and Shinon are fighting the swordmaster, warrior and sniper that spawn every so often near the middle right side of the map. I was surprised with how easily they handled them; I remember getting completely destroyed by these on my regular runs a long time ago, but this time around I had no trouble. They couldn't one round them unless they procced something, but even when I couldn't kill them in 1 turn they were never at risk of dying. At around turn 11, when they're done with this, I send them to block the reinforcements that spawn near the bottom and near the first treasure room. They can't get there right away, so Muarim and Volug have to cover the ledge while help arrives. Eventually Ike and Mia get there too, at which point these two are relieved of their duties.
Unfortunately the Meteor sage spawns when I'm about 3 turns away from being able to catch him with my closest unit (Nailah, who was busy with the 3rd and final treasure room), meaning I would have to tank 3 Meteor shots on a random unit. To try to buy me some time, I have Oliver use his Silence staff on the sage but unfortunately he misses his first attempt. I make sure to keep Raphiel out of the sage's range, but in a moment of being a total potato I forget to shift Vika (who was sitting at max guage) and the sage doubles her with Meteor and kills her. In a way, it's good that she acted as bait and that no one that mattered got hit. But still, I'm kinda sad that I couldn't make it out of Part 4 deathless. It was an easily preventable death, too. The next turn Oliver actually lands the Silence, which buys enough time for Nailah to finish off the last enemy on the top floor, climb down the ledges and kill the sage before the silence wore off.
The rest of the map was just clean up and taking a bunch of easy kills from above a ledge, successfully closing the second to last map before the tower. Fs for Vika though. She had way outlived her usefulness, but it was sad she died nonetheless.
4-5 (Difficulty: 2)
Even though this map is infested by powerful Laguz I actually consider it to be a bit of a breather map now. Tibarn is still virtually invincible and he's almost all you need to kill Izuka. Still, I didn't want to get complacent this far in. I undeployed most units in this map, leaving just the bare minimum. Other than the force deployed units, I only sent Geoffrey, Bastian, Ranulf, Janaff and Ulki. The idea was to send Tibarn off on his own to kill Izuka while the others stayed behind and defended Elincia from any Laguz that survived and went over to her. I also gave Bastian the Baselard so that he could trade it to Volke after recruiting him. Just to make sure that something stupid didn't happen, I gave Tibarn a Nihil scroll so that he couldn't get owned by Flare.
While I was in the middle of this, I actually realized I had made a bit of a critical error in my plan (although it didn't cost any deaths and was easy to correct, thankfully). I hadn't played this map in a long time, and this time I went into it assuming that if I made Tibarn kill 1 of the 4 Laguz covering Izuka and then Canto'd into that spot that Izuka would then attack me on EP. After a few tried I realized that Izuka was never going to attack me on EP if he would take a counter, and instead, teleported away. I was kind of slow on the uptake and took me until the 3rd Rewarp to realize that I was doing this wrong, at which point I sent over Janaff together with Tibarn so that Janaff could kill the weakest Laguz surrounding Izuka and open a path for Tibarn.
I unnecessarily extended the chapter for several turns more than was necessary due to this mistake, but I clear it anyway without any losses. Volke did a surprisingly good job at defending Elincia in the meantime. I only got to see a single Lethality proc, but almost every other time he critted so he didn't get countered a whole lot.
Preparations for the Tower:
The very first thing I do before even leaving the base is deciding which 10 units I'm taking into the tower and set up their skills, while removing any useful skills from the units I'm not going to take. The reason for this is because, for whatever reason, while you can take every other action after exiting the base (buying/selling, equipping weapons, giving out BEXP, etc) you CANNOT reassign skills. So, this must be done before leaving the base, and to do that I need to know who I'm taking.
That said, I had taken that decision a while ago already. I was 100% taking all of the royals +Giffca. Some may say that's boring, but it took me way too many attempts to get this far and I wasn't just about to risk throwing just because I wanted to make the endgame more challenging. Plus, even after taking all of my trained units I still had 1 empty spot, so the alternative to taking royals was to take filler units like Stefan or Volke (which aren't bad, but they just can't compete with the royals). As for my other units, I was taking Mia, Shinon, Oscar and Jill. I decide to take Elincia as my 10th unit for 2 reasons: 1) I wanted to take an extra staff user, and she was the best one. Besides healing, that also meant having an extra person that could use the Ward staff. I had no Rescue staff sadly, but if I did, that would have been another good reason to take her. 2) I wanted to bless a Wyrmslayer, but I didn't want to give up being able to bless either the Vague Katti or the Alondite so that Mia could have a real weapon with which to attack Auras. This second reason wasn't a major deciding factor, but it was at least part of the reason I chose her.
With that decided, I went on to distribute some skills.
I gave Ike a Nihil scroll. He didn't need it for 4-E-1, but he would for 4-E-2, 4-E-3 and 4-E-5. I saw no need to switch around his skills so I just equipped it here and had him keep it for the rest of the game. I also gave him Mist's Miracle since it only takes 5 points. I wasn't expecting to fuck up so hard that Ike ended up taking lethal damage, but you never know. It didn't really cost a thing to give him Miracle so I went ahead and did it.
I gave Stillness to Micaiah. Again, I had no plans to expose her, but if worse came to worse it could save her life.
Jill got to keep her Adept scroll. More importantly, I gave her Parity.
Shinon also kept his Adept scroll.
Mia got her Adept back. She still had Cancel equipped.
No changes for Oscar either (still had Corrosion and Daunt).
I gave Imbue to Elincia, but I don't think it Particularly mattered.
Caineghis got Pass and Parity
Giffca got Pass.
Tibarn, Naesala and Nailah got nothing special for now.
I also kept my other 2 Nihils, a Savior and Dragonfoe in my convoy, which would be useful later. I also had a bunch of other random skills that just weren't of a whole lot of use inside of the tower like Resolve and Wrath. After finishing up the skills and viewing the base conversations I proceed to exit the base, lock in my 10 chosen units and do a final round of shopping and stat booster + BEXP distribution.
Here I finally use the Speedwings and the Energy Drop that I've been hoarding all game. As you may have guessed by now, they went to Caineghis. With these stat boosters + a BEXP level up Caineghis has capped STR and and SPD, which allows him to exactly one round wardwood Auras and nearly one round cover Auras when using Parity. This also makes killing Deghinsea much easier. Ike and Jill are fully capped, so I use most of my remaining BEXP on Giffca to give him levels until he's also capped both STR and SPD (I was sitting on 30K BEXP so I had enough). I still had a random Spirit Dust lying around (the one from the Boyd/Mist A support) which I never used, so I gave it to Elincia. I figured that having +1 staff range and a little more healing had to be worth more than selling it when I was already sitting on 70K gold or so (although keep in mind that this was after selling all gems and selling all the expensive garbage that I couldn't use such as the SS rank tomes).
From the forge I made a couple of things. I made 3 max might max hit Hand Axes for Jill. but on hindsight this was completely overkill. They're only useful in 4-E-1, and in every other map after that she only attacks with Urvan. I also made a max might max hit Silver Lance for Oscar. Just for fun, because I had way more money than I was ever going to be able to use, I made a max might, max hit, max crit and -1 weight Thunder tome for Sanaki. I knew it was going to be totally useless because I do 4-E-3 in 1 turn anyway, but it would have been hilarious to watch her OHKO a dragon with a crit.
From the armory I didn't need to buy a whole lot of weapons. I just had to buy a Silver Bow for Shinon because he completely burned through both Silencers. I could have made him a forge but I didn't feel like it since I was going to get the Double Bow on turn 1 or 2 of 4-E-1 anyways. Ike had Ragnell, Mia the Vague Katti + 2 Tempest Swords, Elincia the Amitti (just in case she needed to fight, but I mostly wanted her as a staff bot), and the other forges I already mentioned.
I got a couple of interesting things from the shop. It's where most of my money went to, actually. For staves, I pick 2 fresh Physics (the ones I have left are all used up) and 2 Ward staves. I still have some Restore staves left but I don't need them anyway thanks to the strategy I use on 4-E-1. From the bargains I pick up 2 Arms Scrolls and 2 Shine Barriers. I give 1 Arms Scroll to Elincia so that she has the staff rank for Fortify and I give the other one (plus the one I got from 4-1) to Micaiah so that she can use the Matrona staff, although this ends up being unecessary as I hand over the Matrona Staff to Lehran on the final map. I bought the Shine Barriers to help me keep the starting area of 4-E-1 safe. Finally, I give a fresh Elixir and a Pure Water to each royal and a few other important ones like Ike.
With that settled, I enter the tower. As I mentioned a lot earlier I pick Rafiel as my Heron. I would have liked to have Celerity on him, or at least have the Rescue staff to make him go farther out on a couple of maps, but I had neither so I just had to make do. Just having Rafiel is already good enough to 1 turn 4-E-3 and nearly 1 turn 4-E-4. If I had lost Rafiel by accident during Part 4, I would have taken Leanne instead as refreshing 2 people on turn would probably still allow me to execute my 4-E-1 strategy and just barely 1 turn 4-E-3 by doing a shove train on Ike to make up for not being able to refresh him.
4-E-1 (Difficulty: 3)
While I didn't particularly have any trouble with this map, it requires some extensive planning to dispose on the first turn of all of the major threats that could really turn this map into a nightmare. It feels extremely simple when executing the plan, but to get there I did have to think through every move and I think the real reason why I didn't have any trouble with it is because I've played this chapter multiple times already; never in an ironman setting, mind you, but with the units I had left alive it was perfectly possible to repeat the same strategy I always use with just some slight modifications.
The objective of the plan was to kill both Sleep staves and the siege tome to the right on the first turn, but without risking the death of any of the units involved. My usual plan involved taking out both of the siege tomes, but killing both Hetzel and the left siege tome on the same turns requires having both Jill and Haar. But, you know, no Haar. But honestly, just killing both status staves and 1 siege tome on turn 1 is good enough to basically make the rest of the map 100% safe. The way I do this is by doing a 3 man refresh near the right side. I set up Jill, Tibarn and Caineghis on the refresh, and while I'm at it I make the 3 of them pop a Pure Water. Then, Jill can fly through the side of the map and just barely reach Hetzel, who she kills without trouble with a forged Hand Axe and Parity. Then Caineghis charges through with Pass and kills the Sleep staff bishop, ending his turn on top of a wardwood (so with his +17 RES there's absolutely no way the magic users kill him even if they hit) Tibarn goes and kills the siege tome on the right. He can't kill anything else that turn because everything there has 2 range, but I have a way of baiting them into attacking at 1 range in turn 2.
After that I secure the space at the starting area. Nailah covers the path to the left, Sanaki and Oscar drop the Shine Barriers to block the path to the right. After using the Shine Barrier Oscar uses Canto to move over to block the main path. Ike, Mia, Naesala and Giffca block the other 4 tiles, and Shinon stands close to Oscar.
From there the rest is easy pickings. On turn 2 clear a path so that Jill can go kill Lekain (extremeley free with Parity) while most of my units in the center kill the generals. Naesala takes a detour to the left side to kill the Double Bow sniper and Canto's back so that Shinon can trade it. Ike kills the remaining siege tome sage. I place Tibarn 2 tiles away from a general that doesn't move from its starting position, forcing all the sages in the area to fight him at 1 range. Caineghis and Giffca move into the spots where Hetzel and Lekain were, killing all of the generals on EP. Nailah and Naesala clear the path on the left so that Sothe can go claim the Matrona staff.
All the pieces fall into place and before long the map is cleared.
4-E-2 (Difficulty: 1)
Ike gives the BK the Hammer, stage clear. Easiest map in the entire game...
Ok no xd I mean, it IS true, but even though I was at a point of the game where I should have been most cautious, seeing how getting a game over here would mean starting again aaaaaaaaaaaaall the way back from 1-P, I end up getting complacent. And thank GOD I only end up paying a minor price for it. Had I been just a teensy bit more off in my positioning it would have cost me the run and a mountain of frustration and feelings of stupidity.
Absolutely nothing can go wrong on Ike's end. With capped HP, STR, SPD, SKL and DEF, so long as I equip him my remaining Hammer and with a Nihil scroll (both of which he had) I could literally just end turn and the BK kills himself on EP. I honestly cannot understand the logic of making the BK attack you at 1 range when you have a 1 range weapon and the Alondite is 1-2, even though no one would think of fighting the BK without Nihil so Eclipse only proccing at 1 range is irrelevant. But whatever, I'm not gonna question it any further. The point is that this fight is free.
So, just about the only thing that CAN go wrong is trying to go for the Wishblade and utterly fucking it up, which is the pitfall I fell into. To begin with, this was a stupid idea because the Wishblade is basically useless. I don't need to use it on 4-E-3 because literally anyone can kill the dragon that blocks the way with Dragonfoe. I don't need it on 4-E-4 either because the royals can do all the damage to the spirits protecting Lehran as well as Lehran himself. The only map where it's kind of nice is on 4-E-5 to attack Auras, but it's useless on Oscar because he doesn't have the necessary SPD, STR or hit to do meaningful damage to the Auras even with the Wishblade. So basically, I exposed Micaiah and risked entire run when I was at the tail end of it to get what basically amounts to just a trophy. Yeah... I feel stupid even though it didn't cost me the run xd
There's a couple of different ways to try getting the Wishblade, but what I tried doing was attacking Levail with Micaiah and Sanaki using siege tomes. Both need to attack him twice (after being refreshed by Rafiel), and they each need to land both hits, although it might be possible for Micaiah to miss one of the two shots if I gave Sanaki the Spirit Dust that I instead gave to Elincia. I use Ena's Blood Tide to boosts their hit rates by a little. To make sure that whoever attacks Levail last doesn't miss due to Resolve boosting his SPD I gave both of them a Nihil scroll (which is important, because this means I removed Micaiah's Stillness for this map). I also deployed Tibarn and Naesala to pick them up after they attack for a 2nd time. But then the very first thing that happened was that Micaiah missed her shot (she had 76 hit so I thought it was reasonable. Then, for whatever reason, instead of mathing it out I still attack with Sanaki and refresh them with Rafiel. And THEN I realized that I didn't have enough damage. And then, I also realized that I had also failed to account for having to pick up Rafiel at the end even if I had managed to kill Levail (I would have needed to deploy Oscar to be able to pick up everyone and move out of the way), so I had failed this on multiple accounts. I make Tibarn pick up Rafiel and Sanaki and Micaiah retreat on foot. I put them against the wall, but I was expanding a little too much to the side and approaching the range of the enemies that were on the right and left sides of the map, so I end up putting Sanaki in the middle but on the second row... and then gets promtly murdered on EP by an enemy that had just enough range. At first I didn't think much of it. It sucked that I lost a Nihil and that I didn't get to meme on the dragons with my forged Thunder tome, but that was it. But then it dawned on me: Micaiah was right behind her, and I had removed her Stillness. Yikes. I was literally 1 or 2 tiles away from a game over. After this I resolved to not do more dumb shit and get serious in the last 3 maps xd
Anyway, ez clap on the BK. Anyone can clear this map in 1 turn easily and without having any near death experiences, so long as you don't temporarily turn off your brain like I did. The right play would have been to undeploy everyone other than Tibarn, have him rescue Micaiah and wait at the back. Even if an enemy or two reach him there's no way they kill him.
4-E-3 (Difficulty: 3)
Fairly simple map if you use a 1 turn strategy and have the damage to pull it off, but it requires some specific preparations. There's a couple of different ways in which you can add up 100 damage, but the way I used was to refresh Tibarn, Caineghis, Giffca and Ike with Rafiel and make them each attack Deghinsea once. The lions need to have Pass (which they already do, from my pre tower preparations) and they all need either Parity or Nihil (which Ike and Caineghis already had. I give Giffca Jill's Parity and Tibarn Micaiah's Nihil). Jill kills the dragon that's infront of Deghinsea (which she easily achieves with Dragonfoe + Urvan) so that Ike and Tibarn can pass through. Naesala and Nailah gang up on one of the nearby dragons since it's in the way of doing a 4 man refresh. Someone needs to shove Rafiel once for him to have enough move for the refresh.
This setup allows Caineghis and Giffca to attack Deghinsea from the sides, Tibarn from the front (but he has enough move to Canto back) and Ike also from the front (in the spot that Tibarn opens up). With Caineghis, Giffca and Ike having capped STR and Ike having a blessed Wyrmslayer it turned out being that Tibarn was technically unnecessary, but I end up attacking with him anyways because it's safer (which ironically ends up making the blessed Wyrmslayer useless in the end). The lions to a total of 80 damage together, and Ike does 20 damage with the Wyrmslayer but he only had around 80 hit or so. He might have had bad biorythm, but to be honest I forgot to check. If I did have bad biorythm I could have easily fixed that with the Matrona staff, but that didn't occur to me at the time. But although I didn't play that as best as I could, I still had an extra option to play it safe. I attack with Tibarn first, which leaves Deghinsea with a little under 10 HP, and then Ike finishes him off with Ragnell, which has 10 more hit than the Wyrmslayer but still only needs to hit once after considering the damage that Tibarn did.
The few times I've tried to play this map "normally" and didn't go for a turn 1 kill it's been pretty hard. Unless you go full tryhard, bust out all of the Royals, do a multi man refresh and hit Deghinsea with everything you've got on turn 1 it's very easy to get overwhelmed by the generic dragons. They're absurdly tanky, pretty much nothing can OHKO them (well, at least the red dragons) and they do a stupid amount of damage even to your units that have the most amount of resistances. Even though you CAN trivialize this map like I did, you have to go pretty far out of your way to do so. I think this chapter offers a pretty solid challenge otherwise (although I would like to argue that figuring out HOW to trivialize this map on your own is a challenge on its own right).
4-E-4 (Difficulty: 2)
For all the reputation this map gets for being terrible for units with bad RES, you barely even get attacked at all. If I had Celerity and the Rescue staff I could easily have set up a 1 turn kill on Lehran. Even with the possibility of a 1 turn kill off the table (it might have been possible with a long shove train, but at this point I was tired, I just wanted to finish, and I already had a safe 2 turn strategy in mind) this map is still relatively simple. As it turns out, from all of the spirits present in the map at the beginning only the 9 that are closest to the starting area move to attack. All I have to do on the first turn is kill the majority of them, which isn't hard with Rafiel available and a bunch of broken units that one round the spirits. All I have to make sure of is that 5 of my units are either within range to attack Lehran and his spirits on the next turn, or at least close enough that they can reach them after being refreshed by Lehran. The spirits won't attack Rafiel or Micaiah so they aren't a concern. On turn 2 I just have to kill or shove the 4 spirits surrounding Lehran and then kill him. Simple stuff.
4-E-5 (Difficulty: 3)
Finally, the last map. I was really happy that I had finally made it to the end, but now I was beyond paranoid that Micaiah was going to die to the physical AoE attack on turn 1 (or at the turn 3 AoE attack in case something unimaginably stupid happened and failed the otherwise extremely reliable turn 3 kill), so I just played it safe, gave a Savior scroll to Nailah and had her carry Micaiah for the rest of the map.
As for the actual strategy: The goal is to kill Ashera by turn 3. Because I went out of my way to cap SPD and STR for both of the lions this is a very reliable turn 3 kill that leaves a good amount of room for error. Both of them can one round the Auras sitting on wardwood with the help of Blood Tide, and while Tibarn and Naesala don't have the same insane damage output as them they can still each half kill an aura, and their flexibility with Canto makes reusing Blood Tide easier as well as making a big refresh easier to set up. I don't bother reassigning the Parity and Nihil scrolls because I don't care about the Aura's reflection damage. It's not enough to kill my units and Lehran heals everyone to full at the end of every turn anyways. If I had made better use of Parity on the corner Auras I might have done damage a little faster, but not enough to finish the map by turn 2 I think.
Turn 1 I park Gareth 2 tiles in front of the bottom middle Aura and Ena in front of the right middle Aura, which allows the lions to one round them. I position Nasir in a way that lets Ike attack the bottom right corner Aura with both White Pool and Blood Tide. He has kind of a crappy hit rate and misses once but still does damage. With the help of Tibarn and Naesala I take down a total of 4 Auras on the first turn. I leave killing the spirits to Jill (who is the only one who can reach the bottom), Mia and Shinon. Elincia uses Ward on Ike and uses Canto to head towards Lehran. Elincia is holding the Matrona staff, since Micaiah is being carried and thus can't use it. The intention is to hand it off to Lehran so that he can use it on Ike during turn 3. For the most part I don't care where my units end up this turn, except for Rafiel who I make sure ends up pretty far back and sitting on a cover tile to make sure that the physical AoE attack doesn't kill him. Although that severely limits the refresh I can do on both turn 1 and turn 2 (specially since I had no Celerity or Rescue staff), he can still help a little with the refresh and I'm free to refresh 4 units on turn 3 if needed since there will be no turn 3 EP.
On turn 2 I basically do the same thing but on the other side. Ike and the dragons don't have quite enough mobility to make it across diagonally, but the lions can still leave 2 Auras at 10 HP and my other units can finish the job. I manage to kill all of the Auras on turn 2 but attacking Ashera on the same turn was impossible (doing a 2 turn wasn't the plan anyways so this was fine). This turn I make basically all the units that weren't attacking pop a Pure Water and and stand on wardwood if possible. The only unit that absolutely must end the turn on top of wardwood and having taken a Pure Water is Gareth though. It seems like no matter what I do and what units I deploy Ashera will always go for Gareth on turn 2. Which is fine by me, it makes things more predictable and Gareth can't die if he's got +17 Res.
The final turn is the easiest one. I just weaken Ashera with my other units to the point where Ike only needs to land 1 hit on her to get the kill. Then I have Lehran use the Matrona staff on him to bring his biorythm to best, align the 3 dragons so that Ike has +10 STR, +10 SKL and +5 SPD on the final round with Ashera. with capped skill, best biorythm and the dragon bonuses he doubles Ashera and has something like 90 hit on her.
Then, I command Ike to land the final blow and claim sweet, sweet victory at long last.
Damn that was hard xd I don't know what else to say. Most of the bullshit was concentrated in Part 1, but Part 3 had some pretty nerve-wracking moments. Specially the DB chapters, which nearly cost me one run a piece, and even then I just barely managed to cheat out a victory of what was almost certain defeat at 3-13 on my first try. While I didn't have any close calls in Part 4 (at least not to the level of 3-13), I spent a lot of time on each map thinking of how I was going to move. In the tower specially I think I spent more time on the preps screen thinking of my setups and about how I'd do every move than actually playing and executing them. Even at the points of the game where I felt pretty safe, the game proved to me that it was not to be taken lightly (as Haar's death sadly showed). Speaking of which, after some 30 odd resets I was expecting to have a few sacrifices by the end, but I never though that it would be Haar that paid the price. He always feels like he's invincible, but even in Haar Emblem he's still mortal.
I had a lot of fun though. Part 1 was frustrating as all hell and was really getting rather tedious by the 20th or so attempt, but I persevered and every time I made it past Part 1 it was a pretty fun experience. While 3-13 was a little to close for comfort, it kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time and filled me with an intense sensation of relief when it was finally over. In a way, my fuck ups along the way like Nolan's and Haar's death really spiced up the experience. But perhaps, that's what the entire essence of an ironman really is.
Of course, I couldn't finish this thread without posting a little something about the records of this run. But before that, a little dedicatory to the fallen soldiers who let this run live until the end:
Aran (Died at 1-5)
Brom (Died at 2-2)
Titania (Severely wounded at 3-P)
Nephenee (Died at 3-3)
Meg (Joined her father at 3-6)
Haar (Ascended to a higher plane of existence at 3-11)
Nolan (Massacred at 3-13)
Zihark (Massacred at 3-13)
Leonardo (Massacred at 3-13)
Vika (Turned into KFC at 4-4)
Sanaki (Tripped over and wounded herself while trying to show off to her sister at 4-E-2)
Part 1: 166 Turns
Part 2: 67 Turns
Part 3: 163 Turns
Part 4: 68 Turns
Endgame: 11 Turns
FINAL TURNCOUNT: 475 Turns
20 hours, 7 minutes and 54 seconds.
Jill (204 kills)
Ike (132 kills)
Mia (124 kills)
Shinon (95 kills)
Tibarn (86 kills)
Honorable Mention: Haar (159 kills, but fell in battle at 3-11)