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Before you read further we should understand the rules by which this Tier-List was made and the restrictions/considerations that went into it. They are as follows: 1) The game is played on New Game, not New Game+ 2) No paid DLC items/benefits/characters can be used. 3) Efficient, but not LTC level play is assumed. 4) The Tier List represents my evaluation of unit performance on Maddening Mode throughout Crimson Flower after 6 playthroughs of the route. My fastest run is 19:57 with a healthy amount of messing around/testing/unnecessary exploration/doing unnecessary paralogues. I'm still mapping out a lot of the details but It's more than possible to shave 4-6 hours off of this time. S+ Tier: Edelgard: Not too much to say about this one, it should be fairly uncontroversial. She hits like a train, has access to the Peg-Knight Class, has Monster Breaker for big-hits, near-perfect availability, decent growths, and easy access to the Wyvern class line for flying and a Class-fare. Amyr is also hilariously broken, to add. Too bad her personal classes are garbage. F!Byleth: In my opinion, easy access to the Lance of Ruin (LOR) from her ability to recruit Slyvain with no requirements other than being female (lol) is the main thing that makes F!Byleth better than M!Byleth. She also can become a Peg-Knight, which is amazing for the ability to fly and access to Darting Blow. Sylvain is also an amazing guard-adjutant; recruit him before the Miklan chapter, get him a single level during said chapter and promote him to armour-knight when you're able to. On another note, She and Edlegard are among a select few who can reliably survive being exposed on enemy-phase without the use of Impenetrable Wall/Blessing, especially in the early/mid-game where it matters most. The Sword of the Creator is meh in the early game due to its weight but its 1-2 range and special Combat Art are nice. Though if you're attacking at range you're better off using an Iron Bow+ for the accuracy/lighter weight/lower cost and Curved Shot access unless you are also are exposing her on enemy phase without any means to switch her weapon. I generally focus on lances/axes on F!Byleth because of promotion requirements. The Sublime Creator Sword is fairly decent when you get it, though I rarely find myself using it. F!Byleth is solid all around, it's hard to go wrong here unless you make her a mage. Bernadetta: Probably the most controversial placement on this list. She is carried almost entirely by her early access to the Vengeance Combat Art, Pass Skill, and high-average Dexterity. Bernie's Vengeance has a C+ Lance rank requirement and synergizes well with her personal skill; this is easy to get before Chapter 5 with her boon in Lances. Bernie has easy access to the Cavalier and Peg-Knight classes early on, as well. She's one of the few units on your squad in the early game that can dish out heavy single attack damage, all she needs is a steel lance/bow and her personal skill activated for her to deal 20+ damage with Tempest Lance in the first few chapters The damage formula for Vengeance is as follows: (Missing HP + 2). This seems unassuming at first but is incredibly powerful. This means her attack value, when using this combat art, scales off her HP and STR, so her mediocre growths in those areas are almost entirely offset by their combined value and ability to boost to a class' stat bases. That said, she'll be able to use Training Lances and One-Hit-Kill (OHK) nearly every enemy generic throughout the game with 100% accuracy from the moment she unlocks Vengeance. Toss her the accuracy ring and a +hit battalion and you'll seldom need to think about accuracy. Continuing, the Paladin class has a base STR of 17 and a class modifier of +2 for a minimum physical attack value of 19. This boost, in conjunction with other modifiers like the HP +5 skill (the early game skill most people switch out) that effectively acts as a Fare-skill, battalions, strong weapons, HP boosters (Seraph robes also give her what is effectively +5 attack) and you can get to some insane numbers. Why is this important? Because every CF post-time skip map is defeat boss(es) and can be cleared quickly with warp/stride setups. She just so happens to be one of the few units who can reliably OHK even the most dangerous enemies in the game. Bernie also has access to the Pass skill via her Budding Talent. You can use this to ride/fly right through enemy formations that would otherwise hinder other potential boss killers. She also gets an insane attack bonus from the Paladin promotion due to the minimum strength stat adjustment in addition to the Class' HP boost and Lance-fare. Let's assume that you did Alois' easily one-turnable paralogue and gave Bernie the Seraph Robe you get from it. We're now at C12 and Bernie is a level 23 Paladin with roughly 41+5 HP, 20 STR and has a D-Rank battalion (Lv. 5 Empire Pegasus Co. ) that gives her +4 attack and +15 hit. Let's give her the LOR (22mt weapon) and the Str + 2 skill as well. After factoring in a STR rally, her personal skill, and other variables, this Bernie has, when using Vengeance, an attack value of 109. What does this mean in practice? !Maddening C12 Seteth has a maximum physical endurance of 97. Bernie can easily OHK him. !Maddening C12 Rhea has a maximum physical endurance of 90. Bernie can easily OHK her. Pass is useful to reach her easily. !Maddening C14 Claude has a maximum physical endurance of 92. Bernie can easily OHK him for a two-turn clear. !Maddening C15 Seteth has a maximum physical endurance of 114. Bernie is the only unit in the game who can reliably reach this value by this point in the game without grinding levels and/or stat boosters and/or getting RNG blessed. Use the +3 HP meals (which stack) to boost yourself to that number if you need to. Pass is useful to reach him easily and clear the chapter in 5-6 turns with a stride/warp setup. !Maddening C17 Rhea has a maximum physical endurance of 118. Use a +3 meal if you need to. Bernie, again, can easily OHK her by the time you reach this point assuming she gets average level-ups as a Paladin/Flier. !Maddening C17 Dimitri has a maximum physical endurance of 117. Bernie can easily OHK him by time you reach this chapter. This map can also be cleared reliably in 5-6 turns by setting up stride and warp; it can be cleared in 1-3 turns if you're willing to do some Amyr RNG abusing with an above-average strength Edelgard. This methods also ensures you don't need to survive a round against his 85 physical attack and 39 attack speed. There is a multitude of bosses that are far less durable than those listed above; Bernie easily slaps them and almost every generic you'll come across. Those that don't such as bosses with extreme physical durability like Gwendal and Gilbert are easily dispatched with effective weapons and magic. The main downside to using her in this way is that she has no enemy phase presence, restricts the use of fortify (if you're even using it) and cannot ever take a counter. However, this is almost a non-issue in an efficient playthrough as everyone except your dedicated combat units will get ORKO'd by Maddening mode enemies without the use of Impenetrable Wall/Blessing; you will need to find a way to keep people safe regardless. Thankfully FETH Maddening is among, if not the most player-phase oriented game in the franchise. She's best off of course as a Cav/Paladin/Flier, all of which have Canto and good movement; these traits in conjunction with the Pass Skill help in making sure she's safe after assassinating a target of your choice. TL:DR Contrary to the opinions of many, especially those of more prominent figures in the community, Bernie starts OHK'ing the vast majority enemies from the moment she gets Vengeance (which she can have as early as Chapter 4) and has myriad ways to reach OHK thresholds for many of every route's most dangerous bosses. She enables fast clears of CF Maddening (and Maddening in general) with minimal grinding/setup/thinking involved. She doesn't require any additional skills to function, unlike most other combat units which all pine for Death Blow and Darting Blow. The only skills she benefits strongly from is Hit+20 which is overkill in most cases if you're setting up linked-attacks for boss kills. Most units in my runs don't even promote to an advanced class before it's over. Bernie is 10/10 on CF and 9.5/10 on the other three routes. Two other units (Dedue and Cyril) also have Vengeance (both units need A-rank lances) but do not have the other traits that allow Bernie to make such excellent use of the Combat Art. PS: You can use guard-adjutants, shields, enemy bow users with poison strikes, rusted weapons (so that Bernie gets doubled), battalions and/or devil weapons to ensure Bernie gets dropped to 1HP with minimal difficulty. S Tier: M!Byleth: Mostly the same as F!Byleth, just without early flying access (which hurts) and early access to the LOR and a decent guard-adjutant in Sylvain. He does have access to Quick-Reposite but isn't that useful as he will usually be strong enough to not need it by the time you get it (which is late in the game as War-Master is a Master Class). Dorothea: Heal, physic and 1-3 range magic damage in the early game is useful. She doesn't require any special treatment if you're planning on using her as a dancer. Arguably, she's probably the best dancer option because of her high natural charm (don't have to worry about failing the dance contest/getting charm screwed) and access to the Meteor spell. She's able to equip Meteor to give an accuracy and evasion boost via supports to any of your units that enter combat in her range; it also helps with gambit damage/accuracy. She also has a boon in Black Magic which can help her hit A-Rank easier. She's fairly important in clearing maps quickly, setting up linked-attacks for boss kills, and just improving the reliability of any attack. Giving her the Thyrsus can also help with this (I don't use any combat mages so there isn't any competition for the item). A Tier: Linhart: Has warp, perfect availability, and a solid support spell list. He can also chip if you need him to. Can't really go wrong here. Manuela: She has Warp. That's enough for an A-Rank. Use her silence/ward spells to level up while other people do stuff. I suggest unlocking the magic +2 skill for slightly larger warp range, as well. Felix: I usually don't focus swords on Byleth but requirement Felix is usually worth it. You can get him fairly easily with a C or B support. He auto levels well and if recruited around C10-12 he'll be in a position to start scaling with a bit of favouritism/attention. Unlike other units, this favouritism translates into a fairly powerful unit. He also has supports with Sylvain (guard adjutant) and Ingrid (flying adjutant) that give him +1 attack per support level. Heavy Draw (+8) damage is also a decent combat art. I generally class change from Mercenary to archer then assassin then Wyvern rider or Sniper once he's gained enough skill ranks. He's among the few combat units worth using in a ground-locked class. B Tier: Ferdinand Von Aegir - team debuffer/buffer. I only use Byleth/Edelgard/Felix/Jeritiza as combat units so Ferdie doesn't get enough EXP to be combat viable. Swift-strikes is cool but requires A-Rank Lances, which sucks. I generally make him a Cavalier, give him a guard adjutant, and let him use Shatter Slash with Seal Speed to cripple select targets in the early/mid-game. This combination can make Golem/Monster-slaying really easy as well. His Crest also has a %30 chance to let him prevent a counter-attack, which is nice but never necessary. His Dex rally can help Bernie/Edel/F!Byleth reach 100% accuracy for boss kills, as well. Ingrid: She auto-levels like a beast and has generally goods stats all around. She usually has decent charm that synergizes well with her personal skill, making for a reliable offensive gambit user. She's arguably not worth training as a combat unit but she can definitely chip/finish off enemies. She has attack boosting supports with Felix and Sylvain, which can be useful. Her paralogue is also amazing as it gets you a flying B-rank battalion, the Luin (17 MT lance), and a devil weapon, along with some other less important items. This is one of the few paralogues worth doing. Jeritiza: By the time you get him you should have a team situated to clear the rest of the game. He's strong and has decent skill-ranks across the board. Lysithea: Don't recruit her pre-time skip. You can recruit her in C14 and deploy her in the month of C15 onward. She's level 29 when you recruit her post-time-skip and has excellent magic (29 at base). It is worth it to use a knowledge gem and do a single auxiliary battle to quickly get her access to Warp. It doesn't matter much if she's a Gremory or Bishop, she's only useful for the X2 Warp uses. You only get to use her for the last few chapters but she's far better than she otherwise would be compared to a pre-time skip recruitment due to not needing to feed her exp, not taking up a deployment slot, or risk her getting RNG-screwed. If you don't need the extra Warper then just bench her. Shamir: Decent option to fill a slot on your team if you need it. She has the earliest access to Hunter's Volley which can be nice. C Tier: Slyvain: Not worth using on his own in my opinion but he makes an excellent guard adjutant as he auto-levels in axes. Attach him to someone who needs a guard adjutant or someone like Felix to get the most mileage out of him. His paralogue also gives a stride battalion and the LOR if you didn't recruit him before the Miklan chapter and refuse to give the LOR to Rhea. Ashe: Auto levels in axes which means that he's a good option for a guard adjutant. He is recruited via Charm/Lances which is easy enough if you're playing F!Byleth. His paralogue can be cleared quickly with preparation, it also gives a consumable item that grants +1 move. It is debatable whether it's worth doing, though. Alois: Strength/luck rally. Use him as a guard adjutant when not rallying. Annette: Is kind of a pain to recruit, but her speed/str rally is useful. Though the speed boost is seldom relevant. She can be a backup gambit user as she auto-levels in authority. Petra: She usually ends up too frail and weak to fight efficiently on Maddening, she has no strong niches to compensate for this short-coming. Hubert: Huburt is super useful even at a low level. Mire can inflict -6 DEF on an enemy from 3-range. He can deal decent chip damage in the early game, debuff, and immobilize enemies; he has an easier time doing this with range boosting items like the Thrysus. You could have 1-6 range with the Valkryie Class but that's DLC so RIP. D Tier: Leonie: She can make a decent combat unit and auto-levels well. There are simply better combat units with more useful niches/traits. Hanneman: Meh. He's a decent mage with access to Meteor which I suppose lets him function as a dancer. I haven't found a good use for him, perhaps someone has a non-meme setup for him. Lorenz: Only useful for the Thyrsus. His paralogue can easily be cleared in 1-2 turns with stride and fliers. He can do some funny things with battalion vantage if you train him as a magic unit due to most magic users having high single attack damage. E Tier: Ignatz: He has what is probably the best personal skill in the game in Hit +20. I'm trying to find some uses for him but haven't had much success. Mercedes: You don't need another long-term healer. To be fair, she is hands down the best no-nonsense healer in the game (Fortify/Physic/Heal/Restore). I always ask her to assist with missions in the early game as her ability to deal decent chip damage and heal with physic is nice. She doesn't siphon exp away from your main squad like what would be the case with offense units you might ask for mission assistance. Marianne: Mostly the same as above, just slightly worse. Raph: You don't need a bulky male fighter-type character. He's good if you're playing casually but is mostly useless in a fast play-through. Casper: Male fighter with no redeeming traits. Among the worst units in the game along with Dedue and Raph. Flayn was excluded for what I hope are obvious reasons. Feel free to disagree/offer suggestions, just keep it civil.