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Hello everyone! Let me know if this is in the right place, and if it isn't please direct me to where it ought to be.

SO. I'm in the midst of planning my final (we'll see, lol) run of the Crimson Flower route, and I want to do it on Maddening/Classic mode. I've done it on Maddening/Casual once, and it hurt because I was unprepared. Like, really unprepared. I don't want to make the same mistake twice, so I've been trying to plan my last run. To save on space, I'm going to put the character and build in a spoiler tag, and write my reasons for that build within the spoiler tag as well. The structure is going to be NAME -- CLASS (CLASS PROFICIENCY) -- CLASS ABILITIES, followed by bullet points that go ITEMS, ABILITIES, COMBAT ARTS, BATTALIONS, CLASS PROGRESSION, TOTAL SKILL REQUIREMENTS, and then an estimate from a calculator of their growths. 

Just a heads up, this is using Ashen Wolves clear data and NG+ data. I will be using AW characters, and their names will be used both in the spoiler tags and out. I'm leaving their names out of the spoiler tag because they were already announced, but if anyone would like me to put their names in the spoiler tags, I will make the edit. I already did Maddening without NG+ and it hurt my soul--you can't make me do it again, I refuse and will cry--and I'll also be using the prize from clearing the AW route, so if you haven't played AW yet, there's spoilers for that in here. When something is Italicized, I'm marking it as NG+ dependent and I will spend renown to get it.

UPDATES WILL BE BOLDED AND IN THIS COLOR PURPLE. If I have decided between two options, the option itself will be bolded and recolored.

Alrighty, here we go! We shall start with Byleth (we chug respect women juice in this house).

Spoiler
Spoiler

Byleth Option #1 -- Dark Flier (Reason, Flying) -- Canto, Black Tomefaire, Transmute

  • Sublime Creator Sword, Rapier+, Levin Sword+, Chalice of Beginnings, Bloom Dragon Sign 
  • Sword Prowess 5, Reason Prowess 5, Fiendish Blow, Axebreaker/Bowbreaker/Darting Blow (was Lifetaker), Alert Stance+ (was Bowbreaker)
  • Sublime Heaven, Bane of Monsters (Sword C+), Windsweep (Sword A), Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Cichol Wyvern Co. (A), Nuvelle Fliers Co. (B) 
  • Monk (5-9) -> Thief (10-19) -> Warlock (20-29) -> Enlightened One (30-34) -> Dark Flier (35+)
  • Sword A+, Brawl B, Reason A+, Faith A, Authority A/B, Flying A+ (was Flying C)

HP

56.4

STR

35.55

MAG

29

DEX

35.05

SPD

36.55

LCK

30.05

DEF

22.9

RES

29.5

CHM

32.05

MOV

9 (7+2)

Byleth Option #2 -- Valkyrie (Reason, Riding) -- Canto, Black Rng +1, Dark Rng +1

  • Sublime Creator Sword, Rapier+, Levin Sword+, Chalice of Beginnings, Bloom Dragon Sign 
  • Sword Prowess 5, Reason Prowess 5, Lifetaker, Transmute/Bowbreaker, Uncanny Blow
  • Sublime Heaven, Bane of Monsters (Sword C+), Windsweep (Sword A), Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Cichol Wyvern Co. (A)
  • Monk (5-9) -> Thief (10-19) -> Warlock (20-24/29) -> Dark Flier (25-29) -> Enlightened One (30-34) -> Valkyrie (35+)
  • Sword A+, Brawl B, Reason A+, Faith A, Authority A/B, Riding B, Flying C

56.35

36.05

33.5

32.05

29.05

30.55

23.9

28.25

34

8 (6+2)

I've never tried either of these classes on anyone other than Flayn, so I'm excited for my Byleth to try it out! My last Maddening run had my Byleth as a Gremory (who occasionally used the Sword of the Creator), and she just did. Not. Die. She also hit Byleth's magic cap during the final battle (55), so that's a win. My reasoning for her essentially being a hybrid class rather than pure magic is that on Maddening enemies have the super unfair Swordbreaker+, Lancebreaker+, and so on. In the past, if I sent a character out to fight, say, a Swordmaster with Axebreaker+, and that unit only had axes, I was in for a bad time. I don't want to box Byleth into a corner where if she somehow was alone (because, you know, WAVES OF REINFORCEMENTS, and had to face someone with Tomebreaker+ she wouldn't be able to land a hit, so I decided that hybrid as one of the new classes could be both useful and fun! 

Between options 1 & 2, the big downside of 1 is her magic growth, while on 2 it's speed, and I'm hoping to compensate for it with Thief & Warlock (which don't hinder her total strength growth as much as Mage would). Worst comes to worst, I can buff Byleth up with stat boosters. I can also reroll her levels if I don't like her level up growths. Or y'all can give me some suggestions.

Also, for the Brawl thing? If there's enough space for combat arts, I try to put Healing Focus there. Sometimes you can't waste a healer's physic/heal/fortify, so you gotta heal yourself. I prefer this to items because it costs no money to purchase and it pulls characters out of tight spots.

After some thought, I've decided to commit to Dark Flier Byleth, because it is the most fun looking to me and has the most to offer stat-wise. I'm not sure which ability to replace Lifetaker with, but luckily I can test them all out and see for myself which one works best. Going to use the Cichol Wyvern Co. over the Nuvelle Fliers so that Byleth has a higher Hit and Crit chance.

Next is Edelgard!

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Spoiler

Edelgard Option #1 -- Wyvern Lord (Lance, Axe, Flying) -- Canto, Axefaire, Avoid +10

  • Aymr, Axe of Ukonvasara, Killer Axe+, Bolt Axe+, Aurora Shield
  • Axe Prowess 5, Axe Crit +10, Vantage/Death Blow, Darting Blow, Transmute
  • Raging Storm, Smash (Axe D), Lightning Axe (Axe A), Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Cichol Wyvern Co. (A), Immortal Corps (C)
  • Fighter (5-9) -> Brigand (10-14) -> Pegasus Knight (15-19) -> Warlock (20-24) -> Dark Flier (25-29) -> Emperor (30-34) -> Wyvern Lord (35+)
  • Lance C, Axe S, Brawl B, Reason A, Authority A/C, Flying A

61.05

47.45

30.75

28.05

35.5

20

28

26.9

42.45

8

Edelgard Option #2 -- Dark Flier (Reason, Flying) -- Canto, Black Tomefaire, Transmute

  • Aymr, Axe of Ukonvasara, Killer Axe+, Bolt Axe+, Aurora Shield
  • Axe Prowess 5, Reason Prowess 5, Axefaire, Vantage, Darting Blow
  • Raging Storm, Smash (Axe D), Lightning Axe (Axe A), Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Cichol Wyvern Co. (A)
  • Fighter (5-9) -> Brigand (10-14) -> Pegasus Knight (15-19) -> Warlock (20-24) -> Warrior (25-29) -> Emperor (30-34) -> Dark Flier (35+)
  • Axe S+, Brawl B, Reason A+, Faith B, Authority A, Flying C

58.55

41.95

31.25

30.05

33.6

20

23.25

30.9

42.95

7

Edelgard's Emperor class SUCKS. Even with the Kadmos Shield, even with stat boosts galore, this girl straight up dies in her Emperor class. 

Edelgard makes a seriously good Wyvern Lord, though, and Axefaire is amazing on her. If you unlock her Reason budding talent and focus on magic a little, it helps her out a bit when you give her a Bolt Axe/Lightning Axe (granted, accuracy is still an issue). The difference between options 1 & 2 is that with Wyvern Lord El is locked only into Axes, which, again, can hurt if trapped. If I make her a Dark Flier, I can sacrifice some of her HP, STR, and DEF in exchange for more MAG, DEX, RES, and the ability to use her actual spells instead of just magic axes. Another downside of the Dark Flier class is the lack of Dark Tomefaire for El, but Black Tomefaire works nicely too. I could exchange Axefaire or Vantage for Dark Tomefaire, and rank her Reason to S+, but I'm going to defer to y'all's judgement on that. I'm going to raise her Faith for a few spells, but they're not really necessary to her build, they're likely going to be run-off lessons.

Either way, Emperor class sucks, I want her to not suck.

I've decided to commit Edelgard to Wyvern Lord. I'll play her to her strengths, and maybe if I decide to do another CF run I'll play around more. It's a toss-up between Vantage and Darting Blow: DB of course is very useful, but Vantage can also help her in a tough spot. Added Immortal Corps as a potential battalion for Edelgard for its extra Avoid, STR, and gambit. CWC has better Hit & Crit, no magic penalty, but a weaker gambit.

Next is the man who may not have actual eyebrows, Hubert!

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Spoiler

Hubert -- Dark Knight (Lance, Reason, Riding) -- Canto, Black Tomefaire, Dark Tomefaire

  • Arrow of Indra, Silver Lance+, Thyrsus Staff, Craft Dragon Sign
  • Lance Prowess 5, Reason Prowess 5, Fiendish Blow, Bowbreaker (was Lifetaker), Seal Res
  • Frozen Lance, Draw Back, Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Blue Lion Magic Corps (A), Vestra Sorcery Engineers (C)
  • Monk (5-9) -> Mage (10-14) -> Dark Mage (15-19) -> Dark Bishop (20-29) -> Dark Knight (30+)
  • Lance A+, Brawl B, Reason A+, Faith C, Authority A/C, Riding A

44.8

22.2

44.95

30.55

27.05

23.15

22

33.15

24.85

7

I was debating between giving Constance Thyrsus and giving Hubert the Caduceus Staff, but magic boys don't have access to the +1 range class or the 3-10 reason spell, so I stuck it on Hubert. Lances give him more room to experiment, and somebody has to make use of the Arrow of Indra, so it's gonna be Hubert. While he does miss out on double miasma and heartseeker by not sticking to Dark Bishop, Dark Knight gives him more room to move. I'm going to give him a little Faith training so I can unlock some decent healing spell: I figure if you're a mage, you gotta have something defensive to contribute to your party. I think it's either Physic or Recovery that Hubert gets, I can't recall right now, but they don't hurt to have.

As far as battalions go, it's a toss up between raw power (Vestra) and a little more physical protection at the cost of avoid (Blue Lion). I'll leave that up to you guys. I'm trust.

Next is Ferdinand Von Aegir! No longer in main party. I've removed his data (keeping it in a document in case the mods need me to keep it) and added his replacement, Ingrid.

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Spoiler

Ingrid -- Pegasus Knight (Sword, Lance, Flying) -- Canto, Lancefaire, Avoid +10

  • Luin, Spear of Assal, Killer Lance+, Gradivus/Short Spear+, Evasion Ring, Thorn Dragon Sign
  • Flying Effect Null, Lance Prowess 5, Swordbreaker, Darting Blow, Alert Stance+
  • Burning Quake, Tempest Lance (Lance D), Hit & Run (Lance C+), Frozen Lance (Lance A)
  • Galatea Pegasus Co. (B), Black Eagle Pegasus Co. (A)
  • Soldier (5-9) -> Thief (10-19) -> Assassin (20-29) -> Paladin (30+)
  • Sword B, Lance A+, Bow C, Authority B/A, Flying S+

56.95

30.86

23.15

32.7

49.65

28.05

21.5

32.25

33.25

8

 

Ok! Switched out my son for the best girl! Ingrid has always been super reliable for me, and she can take magic attacks like a champ. I've used this build on her before and it's just golden.

The only toss up for her is Battalion. Galatea for Lure, which is very useful in tight spots, or BEP, which has Retribution. 

Snoozeman Linhardt is next! Since he's going to be a "switch" character (you'll see further down), I'm also adding another character's info.

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Spoiler

Linhardt -- Bishop (Faith) -- White Magic Heal +10, White Magic Uses x2, Terrain Resistance

  • Healing Staff/Caduceus Staff, Aegis Dragon Sign
  • Reason Prowess 5, Faith Prowess 5, HP+5/Fiendish Blow (was White Tomefaire), Bowbreaker (was Lifetaker), Miracle (was Renewal)
  • Draw Back, Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Ordelia Sorcery Co. (B), Nuvelle Attendants Co. (B), Secret Transport Force (B), Opera Co. Volunteers (B)
  • Monk (5-9) -> Mage (10-14) -> Dark Mage (15-19) -> Dark Bishop (20-24) -> Warlock (25-29) -> Bishop (30+)
  • Reason A+, Faith A+Brawl B, Authority B

43.85

19.2

38.05

27.1

26

31.05

19.5

38.5

15.6

4

Mercedes  -- Bishop (Faith) -- White Magic Heal +10, White Magic Uses x2, Terrain Resistance

  • Healing Staff, Dark Dragon Sign
  • Reason Prowess 5, Faith Prowess 5, HP+5/Fiendish Blow, Bowbreaker, Miracle
  • Draw Back, Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Opera Co. Volunteers (B)
  • Monk (5-9) -> Mage (10-14) -> Priest (15-19) -> Warlock (25-29) -> Bishop (30+)
  • Reason A+, Faith A+, Brawl B, Authority B

45.25

17.75

40.25

29.5

27.6

22

18

39.5

31.3

4

Same boy, same tricks. The only thing to really debate is his battalion. Ordelia means if he's cornered he can stall multiple attackers, Nuvelle means buffs for the party, Secret is for Stride that doesn't reduce his magic, and Opera is for Dance of the Goddess, which can help in a pinch. The downside of that last battalion is that as a Bishop he only has 4 move, so he likely won't reach everyone if he needs to use it, and at max that gambit can move 4 units so only 4 move doesn't synergize well.

Another issue is the staff. I could give him the Caduceus staff for more range, but that only works with ATTACK magic, and I don't see Linhardt attacking on the offense, rather on the defense. It might be better to give the staff to another mage, but I'll leave you guys to discuss that.

Giving Linhardt either HP+5 or Fiendish Blow in case he has to defend himself, Bowbreaker for dodging, and Miracle. Going with Opera Co. Volunteers for that super cheesy double-dance. Reason for Mercie is listed below where Adjutants are.

HYDA- I mean, Caspar.

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Caspar -- War Mater (Axe, Brawl) -- Axefaire, Fistfaire, Crit +20

  • Vajra-Mushti, Killer Knuckles+, Critical Ring, Snow Dragon Sign
  • Brawl Prowess 5, Brawl Crit +10, Quick Riposte, Vantage/Death Blow, Wrath
  • Eviscerate, Bombard (Brawl C+), Mighty Blow (Brawl A), Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Goneril Valkyries (B), King of Lions Corps (C)
  • Fighter (5-9) -> Brawler (10-14) -> Brigand (15-19) -> Warrior (20-24) -> Grappler (25-29) -> War Master (30+)
  • Axe A, Brawl S, Authority B/C

70.75

41.35

15.35

28.05

33.05

28.6

23.5

15

18.55

6

I know that the 100% crit build uses axes, but I've found that even with close-to 100% and knuckles, you will execute a critical hit because you've been given the opportunity to attack twice. Caspar is our only puncher, so he gets the punch relic (and I love how small he is wielding those massive gauntlets, it gives me life).

Goneril Valkyries have an edge over King of Lions Corps because Goneril has 20 Hit + 15 Crit vs King's 5 Hip + 15 Crit - 5 Avoid, and since Hit is necessary for Crit to activate, I'm all about it. On the other hand, King of Lions has a superior Gambit.

BERNIE BEAR

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Spoiler

Bernadetta -- Sniper (Bow) -- Bowfaire, Bowrange +1

  • The Inexhaustible, Killer Bow+, Silver Bow+, Silver Bow+, Fetters of Dromi, Ice Dragon Sign
  • Bow Prowess 5, Bow Crit +10, Close Counter, Pass, Hit +20
  • Hunter's Volley, Curved Shot (Bow D), Deadeye (Bow C+), Encloser (Bow A)
  • Edmund Troops (B)
  • Soldier (5-9) -> Archer (10-14) -> Thief (15-19) -> Assassin (20-29) -> Sniper (30+)
  • Sword B, Bow S, Authority B

48

29.86

14.8

46.2

34.2

23.25

18.5

17

24.95

6 (5+1)

Why is she a Sniper and not a Bow Knight? Because of that sweet, sweet Hunter's Volley. If she doesn't have the speed to double an enemy, she can use the combat art. With the new Fetters of Dromi, she also gets Canto, Pavise, Aegis, AND Shoes of the Wind for free! I could technically make Bernie a Bow Knight for Canto, because honestly the stats are the same, but then she loses out on the Fetters (I could slap them on her anyway, but then that free move token--the primary benefit of the Fetters!--becomes redundant).

Next up is Dorothea!

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Spoiler

Dorothea -- Dancer (Sword, Authority) -- Dance

  • Blutgang, Levin Sword+, Wo Dao+, Rapier+, Evasion Ring, Storm Dragon Sign
  • Sword Prowess 5, Reason Prowess 5, Duelist's Blow, Sword Avo +20, Black Rng +1
  • Beast Fang, Sword Dance, Hexblade (Sword C+), Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Secret Transport Force (B), Opera Co. Volunteers (B)
  • Monk (5-9) -> Mercenary (10-14) -> Mage (15-19) -> Warlock (20-24) -> Trickster (25-29) -> Dancer (30+)
  • Sword A+, Brawl B, Reason S, Faith C, Authority B

50.75

19

31.6

32.05

30.85

23.65

17.25

25.25

32.55

6

Like Linhardt, Dorothea's battalions include a toss-up between Stride and Dance. I think that Dance of the Goddess would work better on the Dancer unit in the long run, since she has 2 more move than a Bishop, but, again, I leave that up to you guys.

Dorothea gets Blutgang because she can make the most use out of its Magic + Sword ability. The alternative is giving it to Byleth and trading her the Sword of the Creator, but then I'd have to figure out which Dragon Sign to put on Dorothea so she doesn't get hit, and there isn't a Dragon Sign specifically for Sothis, so she wouldn't be able to use Sublime Heaven anyway. Faith to C because Physic is good to have.

Going with the Secret Transport Force for Stride, since Linhardt is taking the Opera Co. Volunteers (sorry girl, no hanging with your buddies on the battlefield)

............................ I'm sorry, it's not Petra. I'm sorry. I love her a lot, it's just not Petra. She dies way too fast for my liking, so she's an Adjacent Unit. 

Instead, we have Constance taking this spot.

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Constance Option #1 -- Gremory (Reason, Faith) -- Black Magic Uses x2, Dark Magic Uses x2, White Magic Uses x2

  • Magic Staff/Caduceus StaffWind Dragon Sign, Light Dragon Sign
  • Reason Prowess 5, Faith Prowess 5, Fiendish Blow, Uncanny Blow, Hit +20
  • Draw Back, Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Supreme Armored Co. (C), Nuvelle Fliers Co. (B), Mockingbird's Thieves (B)
  • Monk (5-9) -> Mage (10-14) -> Thief (15-19) -> Warlock (20-24) -> Valkyrie (25-29) -> Gremory (30+)
  • Sword C, Brawl B, Reason A+, Faith A+, Authority C/B, Riding B

39.15

16

48.65

25.45

26

15

16.5

30.25

23.8

5

Constance Option #2 -- Dark Flier -- Canto, Black Tomefaire, Transmute

  • Magic Staff/Caduceus Staff, Wind Dragon Sign, Light Dragon Sign
  • Flying Effect Null, Reason Prowess 5, Faith Prowess 5, Fiendish Blow, Hit +20
  • Draw Back, Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Nuvelle Fliers Co. (B)
  • Monk (5-9) -> Mage (10-14) -> Pegasus Knight (15-19) -> Warlock (20-29) -> Dark Flier (30+)
  • Brawl B, Reason A+, Faith A+, Authority B, Flying S+

41.4

15

41.9

23.95

29.65

14.5

16

30

21.8

7

Honestly, the choice between these two is more magic and dexterity plus that sweet double use Bolting, or mobility with higher speed. The Caduceus staff is between her and Linhardt, but she gets more offensive use out of it than he does (especially since Hubert is taking Thyrsus). 

For option 1 battalions, Supreme has double use but she gets that -20 Avoid. Between Nuvelle and Mockingbird they are both single-use, Nuvelle has 2 MAG & 4 RES more than Mockingbird, while Mockingbird has 5 STR, 5 HIT, 10 CRIT, and 3 DEF over Nuvelle.

I've decided to stick with Gremory and give her the Caduceus Staff. Since she's going to be actively battling, let's give her a little range to work with. Still undecided on battalions, but I'm leaning towards Mockingbird at this point.

Final main party member is the Secret Boy.

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Spoiler

Jeritza -- Wyvern Lord (Lance, Axe, Flying) -- Canto, Axefaire, Avoid +10

  • Scythe of Sariel, Killer Lance+, Lance of Ruin, Gradivus/Short Spear+, Aurora Shield, Fissure Dragon Sign
  • Lance Prowess 5, Darting Blow, Quick Riposte/Hit +20, Counterattack, Alert Stance+
  • Ruined Sky, Shatter Slash (Lance C+), Glowing Ember (Lance A), Healing Focus (Brawl B)
  • Cichol Wyvern Co. (A), Alliance Wyvern Co. (C)
  • Death Knight (27-29) -> Wyvern Lord (30+)
  • Lance A+, Axe A, Brawl B, Authority C, Flying A+

63.6

40.3

22.65

24.15

43.45

18.7

31.05

17.5

16.25

8

This is the one I'm the most unsure about, just because I've never done this with him before. I've kept him as the Death Knight on a run for aesthetics, and he was pretty good, but it's not nearly as mobile as a Wyvern Lord is. I want to keep him with Lances, because that's what he's best at (plus the SoS is DOPE), and while I could spend renown on Quick Riposte, it might be a good idea to give him Hit +20 so that he's always very accurate? His speed is INSANE as a Wyvern Lord, and is bound to double and dodge a whole bunch, so I could sub out Alert Stance+ for Hit+20, but I'm not as confident about that as Quick Riposte, since, again, he's going to double like a maniac anyway.

Don't worry about having two Aurora Shields, you can get two in Crimson Flower. One is a drop, while the other one you have to STEAL from Nader in El's paralogue.

Going to put the Alliance Wyvern Co. on Jeritza so that he can cast Impregnable Wall. High mobility + Canto + IW works nicely on a flying unit (thank you @SnowFire !)

AND THAT'S IT. For reserve units/adjuncts, I have Petra as a Pegasus Knight, Yuri as a Trickster and Hapi as a Valkyrie Ferdinand as a Fortress/Great Knight, and Mercedes as a Bishop (I can easily switch between Mercie & Lin depending on what I need from them, and since healers level very easily, I don't have to worry about either of them falling behind).

I am exchanging Yuri & Hapi for Ferdinand & Mercedes so that they are reliably activated Guard & Heal Adjutants. Adjutants activation rate increases with support rank, and few Black Eagles have supports that become successful Guard & Heal classes, so I can settle my Ferdie indecision by switching him off the main party and use Mercedes to get better use out of their Adjutant roles. If I ever need to switch between Mercie & Lin, would be for utility -- Fortify vs. Warp. If I find that Mercie is more useful, then I'll probably upgrade her to Gremory and put her in the main role.

Please let me know your thoughts, what I should patch up, etc. I know that DEF & RES are a little low, but I'm hoping that I can use the Holy Tomb to farm for stat boosters for an edge (My soft-reset technique is 3 Boosters, if there's a Seraph Robe or Black Pearl, make it 4. If I don't get 3/4+SR/BP, I reset until I do. It takes a while, but nothing else down in the tomb is really worth it when you can literally buy everything else from the Ashen Wolves or Anna). I also don't use stat boosts until everyone is in their final class, that way I don't miss out on free bonuses. 

THANK YOU EVERYONE, YOU'RE AMAZING ❤️

EDIT: Edited for clarity. My goodness, I have not yet mastered the spoiler tag.

EDIT #2: Updated information.

Edited by ShiraBliss
Updating information.

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I think you might be overpreparing a tad - Maddening is difficult, but not that difficult.  If you're throwing the full weight of NG+ Renown, Ashen Wolves DLC reward, Pagan Altar, NG+ skills / statue level / battalions at it, you should be fine.  At the very least, I'd say you probably needn't bother with perfectly farming stat boosters from the Holy Tomb, or using it at all - less grinding, more battling it out.

As a few thoughts -

  • I'm not in general a big fan of Healing Focus, although I suppose it's okay on brawlers who get it anyway like Caspar.  Combat Art slots are too precious, IMO.  That said, it is especially unneeded on Byleth, who already has a form of Healing Focus in grabbing Concoctions from the Convoy on demand.  It also usually requires either faculty training or a weird build route to get it, although I suppose NG+ renown spending makes this particular issue moot, but there's just no need for it regardless even if the skill was free.
  • In the same way, you really shouldn't need Healing Focus on Hubert, or Lifetaker.  Hubert will die horribly if he gets engaged upon by Maddening enemies during Enemy Phase anyway; he will be sniping from afar with Mire and the like on player phase.  He will occasionally have to absorb a single hit from a slow monster's counterattack, but in general, player phase damage he takes from counters can be patched up by Lin / Dorothea /Constance / Concoctions at your leisure.  So the humble HP+5 is probably better than Lifetaker as far as "can safely survive a single nasty counterattack" which is about all Hubert can ask for.
  • By the same logic, same is true for Linhardt - he should never be taking damage at all, except from occasional mages, so Lifetaker / Renewal / etc. isn't that useful.  When Combat Linhardt is a thing, it's because he's blasting a Wyvern Rider with Excalibur or otherwise chipping range 1 units from afar. If he does take damage, he needs HP+5 to hope to survive it (he still probably won't), not Lifetaker.  White Tomefaire is only buffing Nosferatu here, and even buffed Nos is still probably worse than Excalibur, so that's more of a style points pickup.
  • Opera Co. Volunteers isn't usually available on Crimson Flower, but if you want to maximize it, it's normally stuck on a non-dancer because Dance of the Goddess can restore the turn to an already-acted Dancer + others, which allows some exceptionally cheesy plays.
  • If you decide to build Paladin Ferdinand, you don't particularly need to hamstring yourself by going Thief/Assassin first.  Pally Ferdie's speed really doesn't matter because Swift Strikes guarantees a double anyway on Player Phase, and he'll ideally be dodgy even if doubled on Enemy Phase (especially if you NG+ him an Alert Stance+).  I'd say to just stick at Cavalier straight into Paladin forever, will make your midgame stronger at the cost of some lategame irrelevant speed.
  • While on the Ferdinand note - this could go for several characters, but don't underestimate tossing bows on random physical characters and giving them the Curved Shot Combat Art (don't even need Bow Proficiency).  It's especially handy for breaking monster armor from range 3 safely, or just plain safe chipping to set up a kill that doesn't risk a counterattack.  Ferdinand is especially good at it, though, since his horse & Canto will let him bait & position safely, and he can run Seal Speed so that even the tiny damage chip greatly weakens an enemy.
  • In general, I'm skeptical of the X-effect-Null skill slots being worth it.  They're good if you're doing a low-deploy count strategy, but in general, just paying attention to enemy weapon loadouts and using other characters also works and frees up a skill slot for something else.  Constance's bad defense means she doesn't particularly want to take on enemy archers anyway, short of using Bolting of course.  Boring stuff like Mag +2 is more consistent and reliable, if admittedly less flashy.
  • If you're worried about Def & Res being low, then toss the Impregnable Wall Gambit on someone, ideally someone with Canto.  Empire Armored Co. is easily accessible and on CF,  Alliance Wyvern Co. has it as well for fliers if you finished a Deer run in your NG+ file.  It is unironically the strongest Gambit in the game, it makes Linhardt a better tank than Dedue.  Watch as Nader quads Edelgard with a Brave Axe for 4 damage, it's great.

Good luck with the run!

 

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Very thorough list! Here are a handful of thoughts, from someone who hasn't yet beaten Maddening on CF (currently playing through BL on Maddening NG+).

58 minutes ago, ShiraBliss said:

AND THAT'S IT. For reserve units/adjuncts, I have Petra as a Pegasus Knight, Yuri as a Trickster and Hapi as a Valkyrie. No need to make a big list of those, unless you guys would like me to make that for you.

As for Adjutants, having a flying one can be nice, as that's your only option for flying units. Otherwise, though, I prefer to use Healing and Guard adjutants. So it may be worthwhile having someone who can go Armor (ex. Balthus, Alois) as Adjutant options. Especially if they support the unit they're... well, supporting.

1 hour ago, ShiraBliss said:

Please let me know your thoughts, what I should patch up, etc. I know that DEF & RES are a little low, but I'm hoping that I can use the Holy Tomb to farm for stat boosters for an edge (My soft-reset technique is 3 Boosters, if there's a Seraph Robe or Black Pearl, make it 4. If I don't get 3/4+SR/BP, I reset until I do. It takes a while, but nothing else down in the tomb is really worth it when you can literally buy everything else from the Ashen Wolves or Anna). I also don't use stat boosts until everyone is in their final class, that way I don't miss out on free bonuses. 

One trick to shore up defense early on is, let a unit certify for Armor Knight right upon reaching level 10. This will boost their base defense (before any modifiers) up to 12. It's particularly easy to pull off for Axe wielders, like Edelgard and Ferdinand - D Armor is very much achievable.

As for stat boosters, I would say that's a good policy for stats a unit is weak in. But if you want to bolster a stat they're already doing well in (and thereby, wouldn't benefit from promotion gains), then there's no reason to wait.

2 hours ago, ShiraBliss said:

HYDA- I mean, Caspar.

Clearly, he must be paired up with Retsudetta. Er, wait, Bernieko?

One more thing I would suggest - more Brave weapons. Stuff like Brave Sword on Byleth, Brave Axe on Edelgard/Ferdinand, and Brave Lance on Jeritza. Especially if you can Wootz Steel them up to their (+) versions. Being able to get in two unanswered hits on player phase is just so good.

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My two cents:

-Lifetaker isn't worth it. It only heals for half the HP the opponent had at the time you finished them off, meaning outside of lucky critical hits on full health opponents, you probably won't be getting much health back.

-You're putting too much emphasis on Healing Focus - it isn't worth it on a mage. Incidentally, does NG+ allow buying ranks for stuff you didn't bother with or not? Because if not, then you'd have to have wasted time having mages study Brawling on a prior run, which would've had no practical use since mages can't use gauntlets,

-White Tomefaire is a dud skill, as it only powers up Nosferatu. ...and frankly, Mercedes is better than Linhardt anyway owing to not being locked into Bishop for her best class. Recruiting her also makes chapter 17 easier because you won't have to deal with someone who constantly takes half damage from your attacks.

2 hours ago, ShiraBliss said:

Edelgard's Emperor class SUCKS. Even with the Kadmos Shield, even with stat boosts galore, this girl straight up dies in her Emperor class. 

To be fair, the Kadmos Shield doesn't even protect against much by that point anyhow; it only protects against Dimitri's and Catherine's combat arts.

Edited by Shadow Mir

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16 hours ago, Shadow Mir said:

-Lifetaker isn't worth it. It only heals for half the HP the opponent had at the time you finished them off, meaning outside of lucky critical hits on full health opponents, you probably won't be getting much health back.

Just to clarify slightly, the description of Lifetaker is misleading. It gives you half the hp the enemy had at the start of combat. I found it works quite well on Swift Strikes users. 

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The biggest problem I can see is that you are underestimating how much trouble you're going to have getting and receiving follow-up attacks.  The attack speed for enemies on maddening is crazy high, and the Black Eagle house is the slowest of the starting three.  Even a Wyvern Lord Ferdinand is going to struggle getting follow-ups by the end of Maddening, and everyone else will be even worse off.  Some of that you just need to deal with (e.g. mages), but for other slots might want to bear it in mind.

The second problem is that many enemies will have weapon breaker skills on maddening, and that can mean having only one dodgetank is dangerous.  If you try to dodgetank Wyvern Lord Ferdinand against an assassin or swordmaster with axebreaker, the enemy will likely have 2 attacks with 50% chance to hit.  There's a very real chance he dies just from that.  Ideally, I like to have at least three dodgetanks in my party, one with axes (likely a Wyvern Lord), one with lances (likely a Pegasus Knight), and one with swords (likely an Assassin) so you can use the weapon triangle to your advantage.

Third, I don't know how you've been using Petra in your previous playthroughs, but I was under the impression that she was potentially the best non-lord unit in the game.  I know Lysithea gets the memes because of Dark Spikes and nuke potential, but Petra has a trivial path to Wyvern Lord and among the best combination speed and attack growths in the game.  She's one of the few units that can reliably get follow-up attacks on maddening.  She can dodgetank enemies, then ORKO them on the counterattack.  I would strongly urge you to reconsider benching her.

 

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THANK YOU FOR THE TIPS EVERYONE!!! Sorry about the late reply, work has been rough these past few days, what with the country completely losing it over the virus (I'm a teacher, so you can imagine lol). 

Since you guys have said a lot, I'm going to try (key word is try) and be brief to save space. If I don't mention something specific that you've said, I'm not ignoring it, or you. I appreciate everyone's input a lot ❤️

Linhardt -- White Tomefaire, I agree, has gotta go. I could replace it with Bowbreaker so the boy has some protection against Snipers (even if I don't position him near any, reinforcement waves with Snipers happen and they suck) or HP +5, or even use some of my leftover renown (I have 350k from the Ashen Wolves trick I mentioned, no joketo buy him Alert Stance+ for a little extra dodge? (I was gearing up to make him a Dark Flier in a previous run before it came out as lady-exclusive).

Healing Focus -- Not going to lie, I really want to keep it on here. For the folks who use Combat Arts with weapons (Byleth, Edelgard, Ferdie, etc.) I've already narrowed down their usefulness, and I'm ok with them having that extra slot for healing. I guess I could take it off the mages, thoug. If there were a compelling list of alternatives for me to use on non-mage units I would be more in favor of dropping it, but for now I'm leaning towards keeps it as a precaution.

Lifetaker -- Hm... not quite ready to get rid of it. It has helped in a pinch many times for me before. On my Mad/Clas with BL it literally saved my Byleth during the infamous time-skip bandits. She was a Gremory, and had Nosferatu equipped (no WTomefaire) with a Crit Ring, and every time she killed an enemy she got back to full health When Nos ran out, if she killed an enemy with Fire, she'd get back to almost full health. I've had it on Hubert on my last CF run (not Classic, just Casual) and it did help him out quite a bit. Linhardt won't be fighting often, so I'm ok with maybe trading that out on him (not sure what to replace it with, again).

Intermediate/Advanced Classes --

On 3/10/2020 at 4:19 PM, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

One trick to shore up defense early on is, let a unit certify for Armor Knight right upon reaching level 10. This will boost their base defense (before any modifiers) up to 12. It's particularly easy to pull off for Axe wielders, like Edelgard and Ferdinand - D Armor is very much achievable.

You know what's up. I do this ALL THE TIME. I'm all about those free stats--love them, appreciate them, adore them. They don't add correctly to the calculator I'm using for stat predictions, which is why they aren't reflected in the numbers provided, but I am ABSOLUTELY going to get those sweet free boosts!

Brave Weapons -- Oh, absolutely. I should've listed them earlier, but I do use them. I reserve them for late-game fighting so I don't waste Wootz Steel repairing them early game.

Impregnable Fortress -- !!!!! I love this idea?? Who could I give it to? Giving it to Ferdie doesn't seem great, since I want him to dodge. El? Bernie? Byleth?

Dodgetank -- Yeah, I'm afraid about their speed, which is why I had so much Thief/Sin focus... drat. I'll have to consider an FK, but I'm not sure who to use. 

Petra -- I have used Petra as a WL and as a FK before, and while she's excellent at doubling, if she gets hit--EVEN ONCE--she's straight up dead. Even as an FK where she passed as a Priest to get a RES boost and an AK for a DEF boost, she would get done in by magic and physical attacks if they connected. She's just too fragile. Check out this sheet I used to keep track of everyone's stats from my last Maddening run (casual), and keep in mind that Petra had an Evasion Ring, Lance Prowess 5, Sword Prowess 5, Lancebreaker & Axebreaker, and Alert Stance+ (I no longer have the stat chart for when she was an WL, but she also didn't have fun if she got hit).

Spoiler

Name Class Level HP Str Mag Dex Spd Lck Def Res Cha Total Total + HP MOVE
1 - Byleth War Master 41 78 44 22 27 37 36 30 28 35 259 337 8 (6+2)
2 - Edelgard Wyvern Lord 41 72 43 24 28 26 20 36 21 42 240 312 8
3 - Hubert Dancer 41 45 20 43 28 30 25 24 28 43 241 286 6
4 - Ferdinand Wyvern Lord 40 58 31 12 31 54 34 28 24 24 238 296 8
5 - Linhardt Bishop 41 43 25 47 19 18 32 22 37 18 218 261 5 (4+1)
6 - Caspar War Master 41 68 43 13 28 37 28 27 16 20 212 280 5
7 - Bernadetta Bow Knight 40 52 25 12 45 35 30 21 24 28 220 272 8
8 - Dorothea Gremory 40 48 10 52 27 23 27 20 24 36 219 267 5
9 - Petra Falcon Knight 41 60 32 13 37 56 35 20 20 23 236 296 8
9.1 - (SECRET) (SPOILER CLASS) 40 63 41 31 24 25 16 32 28 22 219 282 8
9.2 - Hanneman Dark Knight 39 48 18 35 25 15 18 20 30 28 189 237 8
9.3 - Shamir Bow Knight 36 46 30 13 40 24 39 15 12 19 192 238 5
9.4 - Anna Assassin 34 43 20 20 29 33 27 14 16 27 186 229 6

Despite Petra (and Ferdie) having the most non-Lord/Byleth growths, she had the WORST defenses. Out of everyone. Linhardt had higher DEF than her, and the only person with worse RES than her was Caspar, who overall still had better survivability. Her DEF & RES rolled very, very poorly, despite the other stats being pretty darn good, and her using one of the best Master classes available. Even though she doubled like a maniac, if she was hit at all, she had to retreat. Unless I give her all of my Giant Shells/Talismans/Ambrosias/White Veronas, I don't think she will survive.

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For more general tips for maddening, getting Death Blow on any physical unit and fiendish blow on any magic unit is a must.  You will not be able to hit hard enough by the end of Part 1 without those abilities.  Even if the character has a bane in axes, you need to fight through it so you can get into Brigand for Death Blow.  Darting Blow is also amazing in the midgame on units that can get it (one of the reasons you almost definitely want F!Byleth on maddening).  Non-warmaster characters should only specialize in one weapon type, though they should carry at least one other weapon type in case they run into an enemy with an X-breaker skill.  For physical units I want my ability loadout to be at the end game: X-faire, X Prowess, Death Blow, X-breaker, [open spot] (most likely Darting Blow if available).  For mages I want my ability loadout at the end game to be: Black/Dark Tomefaire, Reason Prowess, Fiendish Blow, Dark/Black magic range +1, [open slot] (I'm just trying out Uncanny Blow on a maddening run now and find it very good particularly on low accuracy mages).

On maddening, I've found the most valuable combat arts are (in order): Curved Shot, any of the movement skills received for mastering the beginner classes, Healing Focus, Switft Strikes,  Deadeye/Encloser, and anything that increases accuracy.  Particularly in the early game, there will be times where you will be willing to use a combat art just to increase your accuracy by 15-20%.  Additionally, you will learn to appreciate gambits/battalions much more.  Impregnable Wall is very valuable, and quite often you will want to use large area attack gambits to 'freeze' a number enemies in place for a turn so they can't overrun you.  Just make sure you put those battalions on units with high charm, as a large number of allied units will have big problems consistently landing hits with gambits.

Regarding Petra specifically and the rest of your party generally, I think you're overestimating how valuable of the defense and resistance stats are on maddening and underestimating how strong the enemies are.  The best thing you can do to avoid taking damage on maddening is to avoid double up attacks (or worse quadruple attacks from gauntlets) and have high evasion. 

For physical damage, almost no unit in your party will be able to take more than one, maybe two, direct physical hits by the end game.  And the attack speeds and abilities of enemies on maddening is absolutely absurd.  By the second half of the game you'll have have Paladins with 30+ attack speed.  Warriors in the high 30s.  Assassins and swordmasters will have attack speed well over 40, and have Quick Riposte to boot.  And these will all be with extremely high attack strengths (40+, maybe 50+).  It is much better to risk taking 1 hit for 25 damage at a sub-30% hit rate than 2 hits of 18 damage at a 70% hit rate.

Regarding magic damage, you will not want to let physical combat units be hit with a magic attack.  Not only are enemy mages very strong and have high crit spells, but they also get very high attack speeds.  Priests and warlocks with attack speeds over 30 and attack strengths over 50 are common.  If you have an average physical unit attacked by a enemy magic unit, there is a good shot they will be taking 30 x2 damage.  The extremely fast units (Petra, Ingrid, Felix, Leonie) might only take one attack, which is survivable.  But you'll only want your own mages or pegasus knights/falcoknights to tank hits from them.  The difference in resistance values between 20 and 25 resistance is effectively nothing, because in either case your unit is likely dead.

And we haven't even gotten to the part of how speed is also a multiplier for attack power.  Most allied units will not be able to get any follow up attacks on any enemy short of an armored knight on maddening.  This, in conjunction with higher enemy health, means that it will be extremely slow going trying to kill enemy units (and that's even in the best case scenario where you never miss).  If allied units are only able to get one attack per combat phase, it will take three or more attacks to kill an enemy unit.  You won't be able to remove enemies fast enough.  You will need fast units in fast classes (Petra, Ingrid, Felix, Leonie) so they can get follow-ups or units that can spam Swift Strikes (Ferdie, Sylvain, Seteth, though this is risky because it is only in lances) if you want to get your damage output high enough.

Look, I get it that speed being the most valuable stat in a Fire Emblem game is a bit of a meme at this point, but playing maddening will make you feel the weight of it.  High speed will effectively double your attack, defense, and resistance, while also increasing your evasion.  You really want to use any unit with high speed.  Frankly, I would go out of my way to recruit the speedsters in each house just for that purpose.  To bench a unit with high speed is just kind of bewildering.

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@SumG

DEF & RES are important, they may be against the odds in Maddening, but they matter. The fact that my Petra FK, who is supposed to have excellent RES and be able to at least take a magic blow, couldn't survive a single magic or physical attack that connected is a huge problem. 

As I stated earlier, I've done multiple Maddening runs so I am aware of how absurd the enemies are, and that I have only completed one Mad/Classic run with the Blue Lions. I'm benching Petra because I've used her on Maddening and Hard mode, and despite her incredible speed she was never lucky enough to stay alive. She didn't survive on Hard/Classic or Mad/Casual with enormous speed and high eveasion, so instead of wasting my Divine Pulses on her I'm just going to have her as an Adjunct. I'm unsure of how to respond to your bewilderment of this, honestly, but that's what I've chosen based on my experiences with her. 

-------

Edit: HEY EVERYONE, I updated the list! Thank you all for your input so far, I really appreciate it. Let me know what you all think of the edits.

Edited by ShiraBliss

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Cool stuff.  For what it's worth, I found Petra an excellent unit, but any unit can succeed in 3H and character choice tends to be a very personal thing, so don't field Petra just because people tell you to!  Follow your heart, etc.

On Combat Arts, was mentioned before, but for the competition to Healing Focus is usually Curved Shot, especially for characters who lack 3-range abilities.  You won't always perfectly be in position, so always having a 3-range chip option, as well as a safe way to weaken a monster barrier without eating a counterattack, is always appreciated.

Lifetaker - Yeah, it's good for the highly specific situation of "fighting a lot on Enemy Phase, but also taking hits and not going straight dodgetank," and Gremory Byleth is one of the rare characters that can get away with that.

Impregnable Wall - You want to stick this on someone with Canto, in general.  This is because the user is not protected themselves.  There's basically two use cases of this Gambit: safe baiting, and saving overextended units.  For baiting, it doesn't really matter, stick someone at the edge of a scary enemy's range (e.g. Kronya, Nader) and have them be Wall'd, then attack all-out next player phase.  For the latter case, though, sometimes you need to send a unit forward to kill a key enemy, but they can't make it back to safety.  A Canto'd Wall user can run up, Wall the overextended unit(s), then jump back to safety themselves.  There's also the issue that all of the Wall Battallions are physical ones, so it's not optimal on mages like Dark Flier Byleth or Constance.  Since you've given Fetters of Dromi to Bernadetta, she could hypothetically use it; if you have Alliance Wyvern Co. on your file, WL Death Knight / WL Edelgard can use it too, although it's a bit of a waste of Edelgard's good Charm since the support Gambits don't care about that.  Maybe Petra too.

 

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