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Unit advice for Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light

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I'm playing SDatBoL 30th Anniversary on my Switch. But I'm so used to Shadow Dragon on the DS. What are good units to use in SDatBoL? I've already picked out Marth, Caeda, Cain, Abel, Ogma, and Navarre, but who else should I be concentrating on? Also, healers. They don't get experience points from healing. Should I just stick with Lena and not worry about gaining levels?

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This may be of some help. It's an FE1 unit guide. Quite in-depth too. Covers every unit in the game to give you an idea of how the units compare to each other.

 

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The above video is pretty decent. Just a few points of contention I have

  • Bantu is great in this game. He's pretty much impenetrable against any non mage enemies for much of the game, and claps them back for good damage so that another unit who does have worthwhile growth rates can pick up the kill. Bantu is especially useful in the very next chapter where the game is spawning enemy reinforcements and you need two bulky units to stop them from leaving their little area, bantu can be one of those units. And if you're buying stat boosters in the late game, you can max out Bantu and he'll really be one of your best units since manaketes are the only units that get past the 20 def limit thanks to their dragonstones.
  • Archers are bad, but bowguns are awesome. They're available in all shops at the start, then disappear almost entirely from the mid and late game. So if using archers sounds appealing, you may want to buy stock up on them early and toss them into the convoy. Personally I like to use Jeorge for variety since although bowguns eventually disappear from shops, the game hands you a ton of silver bows for free, and those help his poor strength stat. 
  • Axe units are good, but axes are almost totally unavailable in shops past chapter 9, so you really need to store some axes away in the convoy if you want to use these units longterm. Barst is one of the best units in the game in my opinion, and I just like to buy a bunch of hammers since they're very durable, and armor knight are pretty tough to take out throughout the game anyway since Merric can't be everywhere at once and it's a while before you can buy tomes for him to use that aren't his excalibur. I don't bother at all with buying hand axes because of their poor durability and the clunkiness of trying to manage inventory space
  • I think Caeda is being undersold a bit. She can use Jagen's silver lance at level 1, which really ramps up her combat. And I think the main appeal with Ceada is being the only flier for the first half of the game, and fliers are the best shoppers. It's very convenient to have somebody who reaches a shop quickly and can give a weapon to somebody that needs one. Being able to fly can also help in dealing with thieves before they reach a village (like the thief in the top right of chapter 4 who's crossing over to the village where you recruit Merric He's annoying.)

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I'm gonna lay out a list of good, solid units I think are worth using (or that you may want to consider, at least).  These are my opinions, so feel free to contrast them with what other people say.

  • Marth - You may think it's funny that I list Marth here given you're forced to use him, but here's the thing.  In the DS game, Shadow Dragon, Marth is atrocious on the highest difficulty - no matter what, he'll even get doubled by the guy he's destined to kill, Medeus.  So among western fans he's sorta become an example of what a bad lord might be like.  But in the original game - in this particular version of the game - Marth is goddamn good.  He won't be as fast as a cavalier and can only level up to level 20, but that just doesn't matter much because he wrecks house in this game.  He has some of the most well-balanced stats any unit in this game has, and he becomes your best option for defeating Medeus - rather than how it is in Shadow Dragon Hard 5 where you would rather have Tiki or Nagi kill him instead.
  • Cain/Abel - You can use one or both, it doesn't matter much.  The thing is, you get a massive flood of mediocre cavaliers in this game - Matthis is just the icing on the cake (and really, people just meme about the guy because he has a lame personality, I think - he's not good, but he's not the absolute worst cavalier in the game).  But Cain and Abel are both really good, solid units.  It helps that they're extremely mobile (I think 9 movement was too generous, IS), but even if they weren't I'd say they were still solid.  Abel is probably better due to better balanced stats, but you won't go wrong with either of them.
  • Caeda - Her big, glaring issue is her strength - it's pitiful.  This is mitigated by her weapon level, which is absolutely insane - infamously you can give Jegan's silver lance to her right from the start and she's immediately able to wield it.  Her speed is also obviously good, so she's frequently gonna double most enemies even if she wields the silver lance.  You may as well bring her along anyway because she'll be used to recruit a lot of units.
  • Gordin - Honestly, he's not the most impressive archer ever, but he's probably the best you'll get in this game simply by virtue of him being able to promote, thus meaning he has the most room to gain stats.  His weapon level growth is solid, though, so he's your best shot at gaining access to the legendary Parthia.  Castor has better growths, but unfortunately he can't promote in this game, so really you're just gonna have to accept Gordin.
  • Jagen - Use him only if you really are struggling, and don't let him use the silver lance he starts with.  Jagen will be able to keep your units safe for a time, but you'll want to drop him eventually for better cavaliers.
  • Ogma - They don't call him the crit wonder for no reason.  This guy hits fast and hard, and he'll generally remain viable into end game.  In this game he's not as impressive as his later incarnations, but he's still a good, solid unit.
  • Navarre - Ogma's main rival, Navarre has a better strength growth, yet a substantially worse weapon level growth.  The hilarious thing, however, is that the bad weapon level growth just doesn't matter because Navarre's weapon level is already good enough to use the highest level sword, the silver sword.  The main trade off for his better strength growth is his base strength stat.  But really, both Ogma and Navarre are likely to get fairly high strength stats by the end of the game, so it doesn't matter much - whether you use one, the other, or both, you probably won't be disappointed.
  • Julian - Julian's a case where he's sorta limited by his weapon choice, yet the weapon choice doesn't hurt him too badly.  He has a supremely jacked strength growth, yet a wonderful weapon level growth of absolutely nothing.  The strange thing is that even with his weapon level stat of 3, he still has access to a nice suite of weapons.  He can use an iron sword, a steel sword, the Devil Sword (with his fantastic luck he is probably the best option for this weapon), and an armor slayer.  He won't be able to use the wyrmslayer, the levin sword, the killing edge, or a silver sword, but this isn't terrible - it just means he's probably not the best option for fighting dragons or wyvern riders.
  • Lena - I can't really recommend any curate in the game in good faith.  This is because the only way to level them - and thus the only way for them to gain stats - is to allow them to get attacked.  Normally you'll only want to use curates until you get Wendel, but Lena's the exception because she has exclusive access to the Hammerne staff.  But I wouldn't say this makes her worthwhile to level and use as anything more than a healer that you keep well out of danger.  And she has pretty terrible growths, so what you see is likely what you get throughout the entire game, so... yeah.  Personally I'd say just don't bother leveling her, use her until you get Wendel, then drop her unless you need to repair a weapon you prize dearly.
  • Merric - A solid mage all around, his big main flaw is his inability to promote until very late into the game, as you don't get a Bishop Ring until a late game chapter.  Even so, he'll be able to compete with the big league mages, which are fittingly a bunch of old men.
  • Hardin - This depends on if you really want another cavalier or not.  Just like Cain and Abel he has solid stats and growths, but his issue is that he joins after Cain and Abel so you probably won't want another cavalier.  Otherwise, he's just as solid a unit, and he has a swanky turban, so he gets extra cool points.
  • Wendel - "Hey, why is a dumb ol' prepromote mage with almost non-existent growths here?  Obviously he should be bottom tier!  Look at that strength growth!  And his bad skill and luck!"  Nah, he's actually top tier.  Look at the stats of Merric and Linde.  Look at their growths.  Now look at Wendel's.  Now, lemme tell you a little something about how mages work in this game.  You see, nobody among the magical lot gains strength.  In fact, Wendel is the only mage who even has a chance of gaining strength.  But what is important?  Speed and weapon level.  In these respects, Wendel is a god to be worshipped.  Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but Wendel's got the goods when it comes to these vital stats.  What helps, too, is he actually has a pretty good defense stat for a mage - a solid 8 out of 20, which is enough to protect him quite well, particularly with his good HP growths.  He isn't hampered by a lack of promotion, either, as he's already promoted and has decent stats for mid-to-late game as-is.
  • Minerva - She's not the absolute best flier, but fliers are good in this game and she's pretty solid.  She's likely to get outclassed later on, but her availability makes her potentially more worthwhile than later fliers.  Use her until you get the first two Whitewing sisters, use them a bit, and decide for yourself one or two among these three total (Minerva, Palla, and Catria) you'll want to bring into end game.
  • Linde - Just like Merric, she can suffer from the lack of promotion for most of the game.  Unlike Merric, however, she has crummy availability, and you'll need to put in some effort to be able to use her effectively.  What she has over Merric is stupidly high growths in all the ways a mage in this game can have them - high skill, speed, luck, weapon level, and HP growths.  So if you do level her, she will likely turn out to be the best among mages in everything except defense.
  • Boah - He's basically like Wendel, if not slightly more powerful.  While I'm talking about the last mage I'll talk about here (apart from Gotoh), I'll say why mages are powerful and don't need much strength.  The simple fact is that there exists not a single enemy unit that has a resistance stat that isn't just 0.  Not any of the minor bosses, not Jiol, not Gharnef, not Medeus... non except one: Camus.  Because of this, the amount of damage you deal to virtually enemy is equal to either one plus your tome's might or two plus double your tome's might if you end up doubling them.  So if you're using, say, Aura and Linde doubles the enemy, she'll deal 42 damage to them.  Consider that the highest HP stat any enemy gets is 45 - the HP stat of Medeus.  Yeah, mages are basically walking, talking nukes in this game.  With that said, you'll need to consider whether you want four of these nukes running around, or if you just want to roll with one or two, and I personally think you should just stick with Wendel, Merric, or Linde.
  • Palla/Catria - You can pick one or both - you can probably have four fliers on the map and it wouldn't be a bad idea.  I'd personally probably just pick one of them, though.  Palla is pretty solid at base while Catria's the "growth" character.  Note, however, that Palla's stats at base are more than viable after promotion gains for late game, and so just because she doesn't impress as much with her growths it ultimately matters little as she'll just be good anyway.  Catria is the one that'll really need to catch up, but she'll catch up pretty quickly and will have lots of room to really grow into a monster.  She definitely has more potential than Palla, but you need to put in a bit of elbow grease to make it happen and leveling her isn't as painful as leveling Est.
  • Xane - Do you want to duplicate an already good unit?  Use him.  That's really all there is to say.  Xane can be used in his base form, but his base form is... well, it's just trash.  If you use him, you'll want to use his transform ability.
  • Est - I feel it's only appropriate to mention her, though I really wouldn't recommend using her unless you are fine with the idea of power-leveling her.  Strangely enough this is a better appearance for her than later iterations of the Archanea games, but she's still not... great.  I mean, she's great once you get her raise up in levels, but good luck doing that without having her grind somewhere.
  • Tiki - Yeah, I'm gonna say Tiki is stupidly powerful in this game.  Bantu as well since he's mostly immune to non-mage enemies.  Tiki not only basically has max defense, but she's likely to attain high stats all around.  Perhaps you'll already have really good units by the time you recruit her, but she'll become pretty powerful an she also won't be nearly as much of a liability as Est because her stone gives her ridiculous defense.
  • Lorenz - I'm gonna say he's viable for end game, despite his poor speed.  He can tank hard, and has plenty of room to grow into an even more potent unit.  His speed will continue to be bad, but honestly he's a solid unit.
  • Gotoh - You don't even have an option, you're forced to deploy him.  But, like, what reason would you even have to hate him?  I mean, just look at his stats.  You might almost think he's somehow related to Camus as he's the only other unit that has resistance.  That's all that needs to be said, just use him.

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On 12/11/2020 at 3:56 PM, Ertrick36 said:

In the DS game, Shadow Dragon, Marth is atrocious on the highest difficulty - no matter what, he'll even get doubled by the guy he's destined to kill, Medeus.  So among western fans he's sorta become an example of what a bad lord might be like.

Isn't that bit about Medeus also true on some lower difficulties?

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On 12/11/2020 at 11:01 AM, Fire Emblem Fan said:

I'm playing SDatBoL 30th Anniversary on my Switch. But I'm so used to Shadow Dragon on the DS. What are good units to use in SDatBoL? I've already picked out Marth, Caeda, Cain, Abel, Ogma, and Navarre, but who else should I be concentrating on? Also, healers. They don't get experience points from healing. Should I just stick with Lena and not worry about gaining levels?

Healers aren't worth levelling in FE1

1. Setting up levels for them is annoying

2. Stat boosters are insane in FE1 (like, +6 iirc) so if you're worried about healers' stats then just give them stat boosters honestly

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18 hours ago, Shadow Mir said:

Isn't that bit about Medeus also true on some lower difficulties?

Kinda, yeah.  Marth can keep from getting doubled on lower difficulties, but I think it's a pretty tight window.  On the lowest difficulty Marth is only barely able to double Medeus with his speed maxed out, as Medeus has a speed stat of 21 and Marth's max speed stat is 25.  In general Marth just has a rough time defeating Medeus, and it's generally preferable to use alternative warriors on higher difficulties.

The Medeus dilemma is less of a critical flaw of Marth and more of a symbol for just how bad Marth is in Shadow Dragon because of how grossly unfavorable the game's mechanics are towards him.

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11 minutes ago, Ertrick36 said:

Kinda, yeah.  Marth can keep from getting doubled on lower difficulties, but I think it's a pretty tight window.  On the lowest difficulty Marth is only barely able to double Medeus with his speed maxed out, as Medeus has a speed stat of 21 and Marth's max speed stat is 25.  In general Marth just has a rough time defeating Medeus, and it's generally preferable to use alternative warriors on higher difficulties.

The Medeus dilemma is less of a critical flaw of Marth and more of a symbol for just how bad Marth is in Shadow Dragon because of how grossly unfavorable the game's mechanics are towards him.

Ouch. How the mighty have fallen... IIRC, maybe it's about H2 where Marth stops being a viable option against Medeus?

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17 hours ago, Weeping Dalek (MK) said:

Healers aren't worth levelling in FE1

1. Setting up levels for them is annoying

2. Stat boosters are insane in FE1 (like, +6 iirc) so if you're worried about healers' stats then just give them stat boosters honestly

Elice is the only one worth leveling, but it takes turns exploiting thieves attacking her on a fort. All other base healers have terrible growths.

Honestly probably just better to use Wendell.

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32 minutes ago, Emperor Hardin said:

Elice is the only one worth leveling, but it takes turns exploiting thieves attacking her on a fort. All other base healers have terrible growths.

Honestly probably just better to use Wendell.

Even then, what is she worth levelling for?

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5 hours ago, Shadow Mir said:

Ouch. How the mighty have fallen... IIRC, maybe it's about H2 where Marth stops being a viable option against Medeus?

I don't really know.  I kinda hate how the DS games handle difficulty, so I've barely played the hard modes in Shadow Dragon.  I think Hard 1 is more or less just Normal except without the Prologue or any of the potential other units, and even on the lowest difficulty Marth's somewhat a liability (viable, but not great).  Marth's averages in Strength, Speed, and Defense are all sub-20.  It's real rough - he needs stat boosters to be useful in Shadow Dragon.

Thankfully they tweaked him in New Mystery so that he isn't a humongous liability.  He still has wretched stat caps, but at least he'll actually reach some of them without much aid.  Hard 5 Medeus is still a pain to deal with in that game, though, 'cuz he still has 30 Speed on that difficulty.

2 hours ago, Weeping Dalek (MK) said:

Even then, what is she worth levelling for?

Just like with any other healer, only if you like her/want to form a team of mostly mages.

She's definitely got good growths, but Bishop boosts everyone's Weapon Level and Speed stats up to 10 and 14, respectively, if they haven't reached those stats already.  10 Weapon Level is enough to use every tome and staff in the game, and 14 is really damn good speed.  I'm not saying this makes her bad, but rather it makes her growths mostly redundant and pointless since the only way you're using her beyond as a staff bot is as a bishop so she'll automatically get that boost up to Speed 14, and no Weapon Level increase matters beyond the one the Bishop promotion typically provides.  She'll get to 20 Speed with little effort, which may give her a slight edge over Wendell and Boah, but it doesn't even matter at all since 14 Speed is all that's needed to double a lot of enemies.  And there's the matter of the other mages, Merric and Linde, likely hitting this cap as well, making Elice fairly redundant unless, again, you're going for a mages-only playthrough or just really want to use Elice for some other reason.

If you're going for efficiency, she's best forgotten about unless you really gotta Aum staff someone back from the dead.  And on the Switch version of the game it's silly to need to do that unless you are just inclined to not use rewind/are doing an iron man playthrough.

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1 hour ago, Ertrick36 said:

I don't really know.  I kinda hate how the DS games handle difficulty, so I've barely played the hard modes in Shadow Dragon.  I think Hard 1 is more or less just Normal except without the Prologue or any of the potential other units, and even on the lowest difficulty Marth's somewhat a liability (viable, but not great).  Marth's averages in Strength, Speed, and Defense are all sub-20.  It's real rough - he needs stat boosters to be useful in Shadow Dragon.

Thankfully they tweaked him in New Mystery so that he isn't a humongous liability.  He still has wretched stat caps, but at least he'll actually reach some of them without much aid.  Hard 5 Medeus is still a pain to deal with in that game, though, 'cuz he still has 30 Speed on that difficulty.

Just like with any other healer, only if you like her/want to form a team of mostly mages.

She's definitely got good growths, but Bishop boosts everyone's Weapon Level and Speed stats up to 10 and 14, respectively, if they haven't reached those stats already.  10 Weapon Level is enough to use every tome and staff in the game, and 14 is really damn good speed.  I'm not saying this makes her bad, but rather it makes her growths mostly redundant and pointless since the only way you're using her beyond as a staff bot is as a bishop so she'll automatically get that boost up to Speed 14, and no Weapon Level increase matters beyond the one the Bishop promotion typically provides.  She'll get to 20 Speed with little effort, which may give her a slight edge over Wendell and Boah, but it doesn't even matter at all since 14 Speed is all that's needed to double a lot of enemies.  And there's the matter of the other mages, Merric and Linde, likely hitting this cap as well, making Elice fairly redundant unless, again, you're going for a mages-only playthrough or just really want to use Elice for some other reason.

If you're going for efficiency, she's best forgotten about unless you really gotta Aum staff someone back from the dead.  And on the Switch version of the game it's silly to need to do that unless you are just inclined to not use rewind/are doing an iron man playthrough.

Yeah FE11 Marth is not very good, easily his weakest appearance, he's excellent in FE1, FE3 and he's okay in FE12. I'm currently playing through FE12 on Lunatic and like, no one in my army except like, Kris and on some occasions Sirius can take more than one hit from any enemy that isn't wielding like a Javelin or something, which some people really like and I would too if I weren't constantly having to deal with like 5 enemies at a time, don't have much experience with FE11's higher difficulties but even on H2 FE11 isn't exactly that hard (though I'm sure it gets harder on H3, 4 and 5, it is overall an easier game than FE12 aside from on like Normal)

 

Aum Staff in FE1 is overall kinda pointless unless you wanna do a strategy that involves killing a unit but also don't wanna leave them dead. Ig it can be sorta useful if playing on original hardware or if you're really bad at save states but FE1 is a pretty easy game overall, you see more Aum staff strats in FE11 and 12 (see Dondon's Medeus kills in his runs for examples of this)

Mage only sounds interesting however FE1 is kinda limited with it's promotion items, and since the ones it does give aren't all Master Seals like in FE11 it makes it even more difficult to promote Elice (and even then iirc she joins at like, the second last map of the game)

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I have another question. When is a good time to promote a unit? Should I get them all the way up to lvl. 20 before promoting, or just promote right away? I usually wait until I hit 20, but that's with the GBA-onward games. Is it any different here?

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2 hours ago, Fire Emblem Fan said:

I have another question. When is a good time to promote a unit? Should I get them all the way up to lvl. 20 before promoting, or just promote right away? I usually wait until I hit 20, but that's with the GBA-onward games. Is it any different here?

Immediately, as stats are raised to the class bases if they're lower.

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9 hours ago, Fire Emblem Fan said:

I have another question. When is a good time to promote a unit? Should I get them all the way up to lvl. 20 before promoting, or just promote right away? I usually wait until I hit 20, but that's with the GBA-onward games. Is it any different here?

 

7 hours ago, Shadow Mir said:

Immediately, as stats are raised to the class bases if they're lower.

That, and the fact that unless you're grinding off arenas, you're unlikely to get anyone to level 20/20. So getting the extra movement is always recommended over the tiny chance of extra stats at a level you'd never hit under normal circumstances.

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To put a little closure to this topic, I beat Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light today. I had zero casualties, I recruited every character, and my final team was Marth, Caeda, Abel, Cain, Ogma, Navarre, Merric, Hardin, Wendell, Jeorge, Minerva, Tomas, Palla, Tiki, Lorenz, and Gotoh.

Edited by Fire Emblem Fan

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