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I would have originally titled this "advice for dealing with Gharnef the first time he appears without loosing anyone", but then decided that he wasn't the sole reason for why I lost a few units on this map. Now I do think that Chapter 15 of Shadow Dragon is one of the best desert levels in the series, with enough land that even my mounted units can do something and enough sand that the "desert" part isn't just for show. And while I find its implementation questionable, I do appreciate that Imhullu making Gharnef invincible is shown and not just told, which helps adds more weight and importance towards getting Starlight and building up a mage strong enough to take on Gharnef. With that said, dealing with Gharnef himself is something I've struggled to do without loosing anyone. Units with high resistance are rare in this game, and Gharnef is faster than he looks, so it's easy for him to double characters who could otherwise take a hit from his spell. Even when I've successfully cornered him with help from the river section of the map, it's likely that I either lost someone in the process or he kills one of the people I'm using to stall him. Not helping is that there are wyvern riders on the map as well that will fly towards the army, and chances are that they can kill the units with high resistance in one round of combat because mages and healers aren't famed for their defense. Killing the wyvern riders before they reach that moment can also be complicated if they're within the range of Gharnefs spell, creating a classic "between a rock and a hard place" scenario if I want to use someone else to deal with them. I usually have my flyer units on the left side of the map so that the magic using enemies there don't cause any trouble, and they aren't always fast enough to make it to back to the main group in time to deal with the enemy wyvern's, and that's not even bringing up whether they're strong enough to deal with the threat in the first place Again, I do like this chapter otherwise and can beat it no problem, but I would like some tips on how to do so without causalities along the way.
Yes, after a ton of time playing this game, I've managed to get beat it twice in around that time, the first time getting to the final chapter at 3:28 only to get stuck, and then the second time, beat it with a time of around 3:48 (but with lots of screwing around, hence the slightly lower time). This route was made with the conditions set above, and also assumes that any time taken resetting counts on your overall time (though, I didn't record that, so I don't know what that actual time would be). Anyways, some stats, and what I did... Chapter 1: 21:59 Chapter 2: 17:14 Chapter 3: 13:51 (Looking at Dondon's Epilogue video, I can shave off a TON of time here probably. If I had to say how I fell behind so much, it was probably a combination of screwing around a lot and some bad boss luck. I know that, just picking it up, I was able to cut Chapter 1 down to 13:37, but, I digress... Anyways, I'm not sure if this ultimately saves time, but I spent the first three chapters shoveling as much experience into Marth as I could, to the point where he could actually stand up to the Chapter 2 boss, and was able to take care of the Chapter 3 boss singlehandedly with a Killing Edge. My logic here was to shovel that stuff into him so he could survive later stuff like Chapter 13 and 20's ballistae and my plan for Chapter 23, while also being an offensive powerhouse with his Rapier. Still, if anyone has any suggestions for this portion, that would be awesome... Also, be sure to buy some Javelin's for Chapter 7). Chapter 4: 11:52 (Got Caeda her 4+ Wing Spear forge so that she could kill two cavaliers by the time Mathis got in range. After that, Marth and Caeda soloed two of the other cavaliers while Mathis got recruited. This was before proceeding to take care of the four fighters, obviously. After that, I used Marth to lure the two horsemen over, because if I remember right, Marth's Speed had grown to the point where he couldn't be doubled by them anymore, such was his power by that point. No Warp was used.) Chapter 5: 23:01 (Reclassed Jaegan to Dracoknight and sent him off to help out Hardin's group. Meanwhile, depending on how the attack stat of the starting three Cav's were, I would have Marth lure 1-2 of them to kill them off. Also positioned my troops in such a way that the rest of the enemies would go towards Marth's group rather than Hardin's, making dealing with that Pegasus Knight infinitely easier). Chapter 6: 19:06 (1 Warp used) (Forged Sedgar a 10+ Mt Iron Axe with some extra hit on it, reclassed him to a Hero, bought some staves, and waited for the enemies to come to me in Ricardo's jail cell. The two ranged attackers were taken care of by Excalibur!Wendell, and I Warped Caeda up to loot the Physic and Angelic Wing from the thieves while also getting her some levels. Got Sedgar up to Level 4 in this map, though I'm guessing I could do with Level 3.) Chapter 7: 10:04 (1 Warp used) (Here, I reclassed Sedgar to a General, loaded him up with four Javelin's and a Vulnerary, and warped him onto the northmost fort in the reinforcement zone. From there, with his high defense combined with the healing of the fort and the occasional Vulnerary, he was able to solo absolutely EVERYTHING that came at him, until he eventually got to Level 9... As for why the Warp was used, it was so I wouldn't have to deal with the Dracoknight and the Pegasus Knights, which was convenient. Also had Marth kill the two mercenaries and the archers with some minor help from others). Chapter 8: 8:34 (1 Warp used) (And here is where Sedgar fulfills his destiny. Reclassed him back to Hero, loaded him up with Hand Axes, forged some extra Mt for Marth, and warped him near the boss. The reason I did this was because if you warp Marth near the boss, then move him in some way, the reinforcements from both groups are triggered. After that, I put Sedgar on the mountains and had him take care of business while making sure to spare Roger. To do this, I made absolutely sure that, when the turn ended, that the computer had no way of suiciding Roger at the start of the turn, as it would normally do.) Chapter 9: 3:38 (1 Warp used) (Sedgar carved a trail of destruction to the boss, which he soloed with...a Silver Axe I believe? He was able to double him at any rate. Also had a thief pilfer the treasure, and warped Marth to the throne after Sedgar was done. Chapter 10: 8:26 (1 Warp used here...or 11, but I think here) Chapter 11: 4:55 Chapter 12: 9:20 (1 Warp used) (Sedgar was Level 19 as of Chapter 10, so at this point, you just get to sit back and watch as he completely humiliates everyone in his path. Also used the Speedwings and Energy Drops on him while making him a Berserker at Level 20. Also, Caeda was promoted in Chapter 11 to clear out the mercenaries near Linde's town, and to make recruiting Jake easier.) Anyways, Warped Sedgar on over to the five helpless dudes, then marched Marth and a team of thieves over to loot some chests, including a very important Arms Scroll. I promoted Lena to give her some added survivability, and also got the Warp Staff and Boots, though I'm not sure that last item is totally necessary.) Chapter 13: 2:10 (2 Warps used) (A tough chapter to be sure, but in the end, I was able to do it pretty consistently by having an unequipped Sedgar lure Astram over to him, and preparing Boah and Marth in a way that they could warp both Sedgar and Marth over to the boss on the same turn that Midia would recruit Astram. Unfortunately, I also broke one of the Warp staves doing this :( ) Chapter 14: 4:29 Chapter 15: 3:14 (2 Warps used) Chapter 16: 8:13 (2 Warps used) Chapter 17: 3:40 Chapter 18: 4:48 Chapter 19: 5:24 (More ownage by the game's most stupidly overpowered unit. Anyways, I took the time to get all the treasure chests with either money or stat boosters in them, and also got the Geosphere, an EXTREMELY important item for Chapter 23, as I've mentioned before. I got the Chapter 17 Warp Staff by having Sedgar intercept the thieves and kill them while having Xane imitate him and solo the throne room enemies with help from some healers. Also got the VIP Card.) Chapter 20: 2:34 Chapter 21: 2:32 Chapter 22: 1:25 (These chapters are pretty self-explanatory I believe, hence why I'm no longer tracking Warps used. Fed Marth two Angelic Robes and a Dracoshield to ensure that he could survive two Ballistae strikes if they hit him, and then I bought all the stat boosters from Chapter 21, even the ones I probably didn't need, such as Goddess Icons and Skillbooks. Fed everything, even the Magic Dusts, to Sedgar.) Chapter 23: 4:22 Chapter 24: 1:04 Chapter 25: 1:51 (Chapter 23, I completely trivialized by reclassing Sedgar to a Sorceror, feeding him an Arms Scroll so he could equip the Starlight, then I got Xane to imitate Lena, so I could have two Fortify users. With that, and reclassing Caeda to Paladin, I proceeded to use the Geosphere all three times in order to kill almost everything on the map, as well as identify which Gharnef was the real one. After that, I cleaned house as normal all while finishing the map before the reinforcements could arrive. Then, finally, for Chapter 25, I forged a Silver Axe with 1+ to Mt and 30+ to Critical, so that Sedgar could oneshot Medeus with a critical hit as a Berserker. Of course, Sedgar also had to survive the first turn, so after he did that, I had someone warped to one of the save points in order to savescum the critical on Medeus.) And so, that was how I beat H5 Shadow Dragon in under 4 ingame hours. So now, I want to know what you all think. How about it? Any potential things I could have improved on? Would you all like to see a run in the future or whatever?