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I'm planning to start a Golden Deer run on Maddening now that I've finished Crimson Flower and and Azure Moon (on Hard). I'm trying to plan out classes and skill sets for my units but I keep running into issues. I'd love to get some advice about my units and definitely feel free to contribute any tips for Maddening in general as well. My planned roster is: F!Byleth Claude Hilda Marianne Lysithea Leonie Ignatz Felix Petra Sylvain Mercedes Linhardt I'm really excited about these units, but there are a few that are giving me issues as far as planning goes Least Problematic: Marianne - Dancer I used her as a Bishop and a Dark Knight on the previous routes so I thought I might try out Dancer Marianne since I've seen so many people recommend it. Linhardt - Bishop Healer. Holy Knight doesn't seem to offer much and when I used Marianne as a Dark Knight I was a bit underwhelmed by her ability to actually heal. Warp x 2 is also nice Mercedes - Gremory She's another healer. I think some people recommend Bishop over Gremory bc of the extra healing, but Mercedes doesn't really have all that many issues healing to full as a Gremory in my experience. The one extra movement is also nice I suppose. I'm definitely open to hearing a dissenting opinion on this though Lysithea - Gremory Standard Lysithea. I've seen some people use Dark Knight over Gremory for the -faire skill but that seems like a lot of effort for a unit that's going to one shot most everything anyways. Without the extra weapon ranks of Dark Knight I should be able to invest more into authority for a good magic-boosting gambit and more into reason to maybe get the range+1 and -faire skills Felix - War Master I used him as a Wyvern Lord last run and he was incredible. I've heard he's perhaps the best War Master in the game Claude - Barbarossa Excited to marry Claude. He's hot. For skills I was thinking Death Blow, Bow Prowess, Alert Stance, Close Counter, and then eventually the S+ Bowfaire. Only issue with Claude is that he's definitely going to want either the Rafail Gem or the Aurora Shield and he might have some competition... Could Use Some Advice: Ignatz - Sniper/Bow Knight Ignatz's ideal build would probably look something like: Death Blow, Bow Prowess, Bowfaire, Bow Crit+10, Mov +1. The issue is getting to those A+/S/S+ ranks. I'm wondering if I don't bother with his lance and riding skills for bow knight and just keep him focused on bows the whole way through (after the detour to get Death Blow) to rush him towards those better bow skills (and towards top tier battalions as well). Hunter's Volley seems extremely OP, so there's definitely an argument for keeping him a sniper the whole way through. Biggest downside is losing Mov+1, though I could maybe keep one of his rallies on him? I don't know how valuable one rally skill will be late game. I should also note that my plan is to run Ignatz with Raphael as a guard adjutant for the extra might. Bonus is that this should keep Raphael decently leveled through Ch. 13 as well. Leonie - Sniper/Bow Knight This is roughly the same dilemma that I have with Ignatz. I'm more tempted to eventually make her a Bow Knight and snag the Mov+1 even if I eventually turn her back into a Sniper for Hunter's volley. She has all the proficiencies of a Bow Knight. I could use some advice on her skill build overall. I'll definitely pick up Death Blow. I don't know if I should send her through archer to get Hit+20 or Pegasus to get Darting Blow. Getting all three seems like it would take way too long and might not be necessary. Sylvain - Wyvern Lord/Paladin Sylvain definitely wants to use Swift Strikes. I used him as a Wyvern Lord last Hard playthrough and he was great most of the way through but a bit underwhelming towards the very end of the game. He had trouble one-rounding some enemies and some hit rate issues too. A lot of people recommend against Paladin due to the speed penalty, though with all the enemies on Maddening gaining craptons of speed, I'm not sure it's worth the effort to try to keep up only to lose. Paladin has less strength but the right -faire skill. Since Sylvain wouldn't be flying/need that high of Axe rank, I could invest more into authority for a better battalion (this would also benefit other fliers since they are competing for fewer battalions). Also, I could give Sylvain a guard adjutant as a Paladin (preferably Ingrid for the extra might) which is always nice. But giving up flying is a big sacrifice... I also wouldn't know what skill build I'd be aiming for for Paladin Sylvain (Death Blow, Lance Prowess, Lancefaire, Aegis, Mov+1)? The Real Problem Children: Hilda - Wyvern Lord/Falcon Knight I used Hilda last route as a Wyvern and she was great! But she was also no Petra. Towards the end of the game she had a lot of hit rate issues. Originally, when I was planning the team I was going to run both Hilda and Petra as Wyvern Lords, though I soon realized that that I'd probably end up running the same build on each (Death Blow, Darting Blow, Axe Prowess, Alert Stance+, eventually Axefaire). I'm not sure that it's worth running Hilda as a Wyvern just to be a worse Petra. This would be exacerbated by recruiting Petra somewhat late so that her bases would be significantly boosted. Hilda could fill in the role of Falcon Knight on my team, which would see her using lances instead of axes. This could boost her hit rates a bit, and give her a bit more of a niche, with the one major downside being I'd be running Lance Prowess in a Lancefaire class e.g. Freikugel would take a significant nerf. She also seems like a more likely candidate than Petra to be a Falcon Knight since Hilda has a better resistance stat and would actually be able to do the mage killing that a Falcon Knight is expected to do. Byleth - I don't even know anymore My two previous runs I ran Byleth as a Wyvern and he was excellent. I've switched it up this time and went with female Byleth, and was curious about Falcon Knight. Ideally I'd like to have at least one Falcon Knight on the team since they are great at killing mages and a lot of later maps have siege tomes and such. My major issue with Byleth is also an issue with my team composition. I don't have a sword user on the team at all (besides Marianne, who really should be dancing every turn and whose Levin Sword/Blutgang isn't going to help out on the anti-magic armor monsters). Byleth seems like one of the most natural choices given her sword affinity, She also gets Windsweep which I anticipate would be quite excellent on Maddening since the enemies hit so hard. My original plan was to try to get Byleth as a Falcon Knight who used swords - this sounds really great, move in, windsweep, canto out - but in order to do that she'd need at least: D+ axe for Brigand to get Death Blow, B+ Lances to get Falcon Knight, A+ Flying for Alert Stance+, ideally S+ swords to get swordfaire to make up for not having Swordfaire as a Falcon (basically same issue if I tried sword user wyvern too)... And that's not even factoring in authority. Also that route would make it a lot harder to recruit Caspar for his paralogue, which means losing the Rafail Gem which wouldn't be ideal with so many fliiers. I also feel like going from Wyvern Byleth to the lower strength Falcon Knight Byleth with no -faire using lower might weapons on a mode where enemies are tankier... That's just setting yourself up to be disappointed. I could just make her a Falcon Knight and use lances, but that doesn't solve the sword issue. I could make her a Wyvern once more, which would be great but wouldn't solve the sword issue. My first time through the game on CF I had no sword units and regretted the choice due to sword-weak monsters and there just being a plethora of really excellent swords. Losing out on flying Byleth would be a bummer and would feel like I'm not using her to her fullest extent. Depending on what happens with Sylvain it would also bring the total number of fliers down to 3 or 4. I've heard that on Maddening flying is a little less important since maps are slower and incentivize turtling more, but 3 fliers would be much more restricting than 5. Losing flier Byleth would also make it harder for units to make use of the 1.2x boost in exp from Byleth's ability since Byleth can't canto next to them. I could run Byleth in a sword class, but I've never actually ran any of the sword classes (last run I just had Dimitri as a Great Lord use swords). Enlightened One seems very underwhelming. Mortal Savant seems like a meme. Swordmaster has pretty good abilities and growths but it's locked to 5 mov which is gross. Assassin certainly seems like the best choice out of these. No strength growth is a bummer, though Byleth has great base strength and the growth won't matter too much in the long run... I definitely need another opinion about the sword classes Petra - Wyvern Lord/Falcon Knight/Assassin/Swordmaster Wyvern Lord Petra is really quite incredible. So much so to the point where I feel as though using any other class with Petra would be misusing her. There is a possibility for Byleth to go Wyvern and Petra to become my sword unit. I've heard good things about assassin Petra for example, but I'm worried about her getting strength screwed. I could have her as a sword-using Falcon Knight but the lack of a faire might really hurt her damage output. And for assassin, losing the strength growth would hurt rough 3 or 4 points by endgame, which isn't huge but isn't nothing. Ideally she'd be a wyvern still, but that would mean Byleth would need to be the sword unit. This was a ton of text and I really appreciate if you've read through it. I'd definitely appreciate any advice on these units or on Golden Deer or Maddening in general. I'm also trying to figure out when exactly to recruit most of these. I'm probably going to stick with OG Golden Deer for the first few chapters until recruiting Sylvain (beginning of chapter 5?) for his relic. Felix and Petra want to be later due to the way their bases will be inflated. Petra should maybe be earlier since I want her to get both Death Blow and Darting Blow... Linhardt and Mercedes probably don't matter as much. Please give me critiques and let me know what you think. Thanks!