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Hi, I've read many topics on who's the best between Colm and Joshua, which class is the best between assassin and swordmaster, much bullshit about the classes because of BIAS, and most of it has been written long ago so I didn't want to necropost. So, let's compare the real thing. 1st: swordmaster class vs assassin class: - SM, aside from being the first letters for sadomasochist, have taken a major nerf from their previous iterations (+30 crit has become +15 LOL). So the big lead is on the crit department. SM has better stats caps than assassin for sure (+4 str, +2 def and +3 res, it that it?) with -1 skl to compensate (-1 crit because max skl is not a pair number). So if they reach max stats, assassin has -4 str, - 14 crit, +1 skl, -2 def and -3 res. But let's be serious, swordmasters never reach their caps outside from maybe skl and probably spd. Swordmasters also get more promotion bonuses to compensate for later promotion than thief to assassin. - Assassin has a stylish name, a nice crit animation too (very different from SM's), lower promotion gains, 1 point less in Con, and lower caps. On paper, it seems worse. But they have:1. Silencer, 1/2 crit chance to OS the ennemy, halved against bosses and denied against the final boss. 2. Better exp gain, meaning promotion bonuses get fixed by more level ups, +0 skl and spd make assassin's skl and spd better with equal number of fights (so more hit and crit rate to compensate for not having +15 crit), more potential hp/def/res if it means anything (good if you let him/her face lancers), more LUCK to dodge more and lower ennemy crit chance (for the occasional high crit ennemy like chap 14 and 17 berserkers, and some swordmaster put through the 2nd part of the game after the end of the routes plit, and against a few lethal weapon-wielding ennemies). 3. Thief utility: FoW is annoying, having 2 thieves is nice to avoid fiedling 3+ staff users to have enough torch users and wasting turns on it; lockpick is nice, costs less than keys (and you can have 2 lockpicks by chapter 8, Colm's and this chapter's thief's, plus chapter 16 and 19 thieves' lockpicks so you don't have to buy them ^^). Now for the characters getting these classes: 1.Colm: low base strength, high growth (40%, 5% more than Joshua, 10% more than Marisa if I remember well), low base skl, high enough growth (45% according to NMM, 40% according to Serenes Forest, so 10-15% less than Joshua, sure it's a lot), good base luck and good growth (45%, 15 more than Joshua LOL with 1 more base luck), very low base def (3) with the same growth rates as Franz, Cormag and a few others of this kind (25%, so 5% more than Joshua with 2 less base def), and ridiculous base res (1) with low growth (20%, 5 less than Joshua with 1 less base). Colm is a thief joining in chapter 3 (so 2 and a half chapters earlier than Joshua), he can steal 4 ennemies in his joining chapter at base, so getting 40% exp isn't hard, and he can reck the hell out of 85% of his joining chapter ennemies while they are displaying low hit rates. He can safely get to level 10-11 by boss abusing in his joining chapter, not optimal for LTC but great for efficiency since he can easily reach the 15-16 spd needed to steal HM chap 8 theif's lockpick after he finishes chapter 3 LOL, also being by far your fastest and best dodgetank unit for a while, and becoming able to take down the nasty halberd wielder in chap 6 without getting hit and without even having to rely on terrain bonuses to do it fingers in the nose. He steals chapter 7 mage str/mag booster, giving him 10 more free exp no one else can get this way (not needing to fight), and finally chap 8 thief's lockpick for 10% more free exp. He has a total of 40% free exp in chap 3, 10% in chap 6 (troubadour's elixir), 10% in chap 7, 10% in chap 8 so 70% free exp, which means he's virtually level 2.70 when you get him (even more since chap 6, 7 and 8 he's higher level to steal so the exp he get from stealing is higher than the exp he gains as a level 2 because of the exp curve). He has 3 more levels to be blessed/RNG screwed than Joshua, but a blessed Colm may be much better than a blessed Joshua (more luck, strength maybe, def maybe, res also, and less gap in skill). He gains far more exp per fight than Joshua will ever, gaining around 55 exp per kill in his first levels, against 30-ish for Joshua, and fedding him bosskills, if not optimal, are a way to make levelling him a joke (80-ish exp per boss kill until level 15+, maybe even more exp/higher soft cap). Being an assassin from chapter 9 onwards allows him to gain more levels, have more opportunities to use silencer for OHKOs and more exp, so more level ups...meaning he can reach chests easier, and fight better, and be self-sufficient far earlier than Joshua or slightly faster than Rogue!Colm (only silencer kills apply here). He can easily take on ennemies near the chests by himself, allowing your real fighting units to go straight to the boss or split for routs (also routing or being as close as possibe to rout in kill boss or defend/survive X turns chapters obviously allows your units to get more exp, and having a thief take a few ennemies isn't a bad thing if he can then make use of it to allow faster pace in later chapters, and less splitting in chap 19 is really nice because if Colm can solo the bottom-right side of the map until you end the chapter with all chests open, you get everything in one). With this play style, you can make Colm reach level 8 before Joshua can even promote if you give the 1st hero crest to Gerik, who's much more useful than Joshua in every kind of map design, and also less prone to RNG-screwage than his fellow crest user due to better base stats, and also higher level when recruited so he needs less level ups to promote (can even be instantly promoted if you want). Levelling a thief is never a waste. 2. Joshua: on the other hand this guy joins 2.5 chapters later, is an ass to recruit since he makes you slow down to avoid killing him or getting killed by him, has shit supports compared to Colm (his whole swordmaster's +15 crit advantage is getting reckt by A support Colm/Neimi which can be achieved in the same chapter you recruit Joshua in a non LTC run, also screwing Joshua's base damage with +3 damage from support, a +1 or 2 def/res bonus and a dodge bonus to his already better dodge rate than Joshua in the same chapter if Colm is trained, Neimi already makes Colm all that Joshua wants to be before any of them promotes). Joshua has higher base stats but lower growths in anything but Hp (+5%), skl (+10/15%) and res (+5%), meaning Colm's bonus exp is putting him potentially far ahead Joshua in terms of stats reached in the same chapter (also stealing less exp from your team even with 3 more levels to gain to reach 20). If you want something close to a swordmaster, Eirika in her route is forced so use her and she'll surpass Joshua in mobility, stats, combat utility (free sacred weapon that no one else is fighting for with 21 real damage, 53 on monsters LOL at Joshua's crits when she can OHKO most monsters at base unpromoted), overall utility (since she's forced and has the convoy, and is the only one who can seize in her route, she's better off trained than untrained so she isn't a dead weight), while Joshua also stays swordlocked but steals exp, weapons, a promotion item and a fielding space from more useful units who can 1-2 range with cheap weapons and don't have to be levelled up to do what they are used for, even benchable if they turn bad or get replaced by better units at their role like Garcia replaced with Gerik. So Joshua is more of a bad unit than Colm (or Eirika) to use, sure he has better bases, weapon rank, and level but he costs you to train unlike Eirika and Colm who give back everything you put into them by making the game easier (no game over, easier chest access, early game thief utility without getting killed, better promotion time and/or not fighting for promotion item). Joshua is going to be promoted later than Colm in most cases, so his only way to catch up is to go assassin for faster exp gain (and less exp stealing from the party) so he can beat Colm as an assassin with better skill. Still he will never reach Colm's free pass as a utility unit from join time, 2 chapters of easy exp with few really good units to compete with for exp (stop talking of Franz please, Seth can make good use of the exp you'd waste in Franz while Kyle or Forde have no other competition for the cavalier role in Ephraim's party in their joining chapter and can be better than Franz, Kyle being Duessel with lower def/res but higher hp/str/skl/spd, Forde being a "jack of all trades but master of none" like someone said in another topic or maybe another forum I can't recall where I found this quote. If Forde is blessed he ends up better than Franz and Kyle together because Kyle still lacks speed and skill and res while Franz has so awful def and res he's like a swordsmaster on a horse, with better weaponry an movement but no crit +15, less skill and lower hp than Kyle and maybe Forde. Franz is a glass cannon with higher terrain penalties than foot glass canons (not able to hide in low mountains for example or to attack an ennemy on a mountain while a foot unit could, and he's no flyer either). Franz should be a pegasus, it's be better for him (also he'd be able to ferry units easier before AND after promo with 7-8 con, namely Duessel, General Gilliam, warrior Garcia, and falcon promotion bonuses would patch his def/res a bit, stille Tana is Franz on wings with more strength and less HP). All this to say that Colm has little competition before chapter 9 on the exp Seth let go to rush the boss or do whatever you want him to do. Most good units come after chapter 9 anyway (Tana during/at the beginning of ch9, Cormag in 10 or 13, Duessel in 10 or 15, Saleh in 11 or 15, Innes who can probablyORKO dragonzombies at base if not OHKO them with killing bow crit, or killing them before they attack with hero bow, at 10 or 15, Gerik in 10 or 13, and that's it). The only real competition Colm has comes from Artur/Lute (Artur for bishop slayer-staffbot, Lute for OHKO potential with fire in mid game). And you only want one on these 2 anyway. Beating chapter 5 with Artur or Lute and Colm on the left and Seth on the right is a walk in the park. Meanwhile Vanessa visits bottom-right, middle-left and top-left houses easily and get you the mage ring and why not the torch (I usually sell it though). If you want a nice unit that works not far from a swordsmaster but with better weaponry and stat spread, make Amelia a super trainee (I know she lacks Con, but she is fast enough to be relevant). But she's not good for efficient play though since she needs 18 level ups be be ABLE to promote to tier 3 classes. Still +15 crit lance user with actual speed is nice, even if she looses some by equipping javelins. Still more durable than Joshua with better luck/def/res if she reached 10/20 before promotion (and nearly uncrittable without any support needed). So: Assassin is a little better than swordmaster, because it doesn't steal a deployment slot from better fighting units since it brings utility alongside combat, and has around the same ORKO potential with higher OHKO potential, more post-game viability, can actually kill heroes/warriors in one lucky hit with iron or even slim weapons, while SM need at least steel if not silver to do the same, so costs more gold, and it eases FoW chapters by much. And Colm if played alongside Neimi (who can just get a few lv ups to get an early promotion just not to die from one hit and even bring some bow utility like Innes with little investment and get high crit rate for this same bow utility) can be far better than Joshua, on top of being a more worthy unit for the exp he takes from the other members of the party (even some MEMEbers) just because he brings useful things to the party from his join time to the end of the game (or of the world if you manage to kill your whole trained party including Seth and Duessel so the Demon King wins). Also Colm doesn't risk to be critted to death by a berserker or lethal weapon hero if there is one, (0% hit berserkers and low hit + low crit lethal weapons users) while Joshua's luck is a bit shaky against promoted/lethal weapon ennemies, and so is his dodge because of -10 to -15 luk compared with Colm, depending on the level gap and how blessed each of them has been. Marisa would be Colm assassin but better (without Colm/Neimi support) but she joins later in the game, also fights for a hero crest and has even less strength than LOL Joshua. What do you guys think of it? Outside of this being a big wall of text obviously.