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12 hours ago, Dark Holy Elf said:

You really can be contrary at times; of all the names in the viable mages tier, you pick out the one you've seen the most hype for? Have you considered the fact that this build gets hyped is not because we're a bunch of idiots, but because he legitimately is better than most other "physical" characters using magic and a lot of people have in fact experienced this?

Incidentally my last playthrough was cavalry only (a minor challenge run since it soft-banned all the good intermediate mastery skills). I ran Dark Knight Sylvain alongside Paladin Ferdinand and I can assure you the former was clearly more useful in Master tier, essentially claiming all the same physical kills (Ferdinand's Lancefaire was offset by Sylvain's slightly higher strength, personal skill, and +might supports) while having Physic and armourslaying capabilities. Ferdinand did have +1 move, which isn't nothing, but Sylvain having far more useful actions when neither could reach melee range more than offset this.

Contrary? I'm just not naive enough to blindly eat up what others say hook, line and sinker. I don't know about you, but after repeated failures by units that everyone swears up and down are good, I have issues trusting others when it comes to unit recommendations, and rightfully so. That kind of stuff doesn't magically go away, you know. It doesn't help matters that - and you should know this because I have repeatedly gone on record saying stuff along the lines of this - I have a very low opinion of hybrid units, largely because far more often than not, they tend to be bad, with Lorenz being the most recent example as to how they tend to create a unit that is a Master of None (this, of course, isn't helped by the fact that many units tend to be blatantly slanted towards either physical or magic, with very, very few having the stats to make a hybrid class viable). About the only hybrids that are actually good are Robin... and Corrin. Which is a very, VERY shitty track record, especially considering both are avatar characters.

TL;DR Flexibility is nice, but it takes more than that for a Red Mage-esque character to be worthwhile. Especially in a game like 3 Houses, which rewards specialization.

17 hours ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

Sylvain's magical niche is as a dodgy lure for enemy Bow users. Black Magic Avoid +20, Bowbreaker via Warlock mastery, and Reason Lv. 5 give him a baseline of 50 Avoid against enemy Bow users. And this is before considering his stats or battalion bonuses. Couple this with the fact that Snipers and Bow Knights tend to attack from as far away as possible (thus cutting into their Hit rates), and it's pretty unlikely for Sylvain to be hit. And with the Thyrsus equipped, he can even strike back!

I don't know about you, but I'd rather not need to squint to find a niche... especially when it's too niche.

Edited by Shadow Mir

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9 minutes ago, Shadow Mir said:

Contrary? I'm just not naive enough to blindly eat up what others say hook, line and sinker. I don't know about you, but after repeated failures by units that everyone swears up and down are good, I have issues trusting others when it comes to unit recommendations, and rightfully so. That kind of stuff doesn't magically go away, you know. It doesn't help matters that - and you should know this because I have repeatedly gone on record saying stuff along the lines of this - I have a very low opinion of hybrid units, largely because far more often than not, they tend to be bad, with Lorenz being the most recent example as to how they tend to create a unit that is a Master of None (this, of course, isn't helped by the fact that many units tend to be blatantly slanted towards either physical or magic, with very, very few having the stats to make a hybrid class viable). About the only hybrids that are actually good are Robin... and Corrin. Which is a very, VERY shitty track record, especially considering both are avatar characters.

You usually don't bother to actually check stuff yourself either, just stubbornly stick to your initial instinct after looking up growth rates.

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20 minutes ago, Shadow Mir said:

I don't know about you, but I'd rather not need to squint to find a niche... especially when it's too niche.

There are a lot of Bow-using enemies, though. With their wide attacking range, Bow Knights are particularly obnoxious. And since they have Poison Strike on Maddening, not even Impregnable Wall offers great security against them. Being able to dodge their hits, and counter-attack even without Retribution support, is really cool.

It's not exceedingly high-effort, either. With a budding talent in Reason, you can get the Avoid boost quite early, and set Sylvain on track for Monk -> Mage -> Warlock. He also has ideal proficiencies for Dark Knight, giving him greater mobility. It's not as simple a build as Swift Strikes Paladin, but it can enable some enemy-phase undertakings unfamiliar to that build.

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I agree with Shanty. Bow users are SO annoying on maddening that building Sylvain just to counter them is a perfectly valid build option. Honestly, Maddening is not that hard that you need to build the most optimal builds all the time. There is plenty of room for niche builds and off meta shenanigans. 

The keys to Maddening are: 

1) proper positioning and baiting of enemy groups.
2) knowing effective builds/combat arts/gambits
3) cheating by checking out all the ambush spawn triggers before playing a map. (screw ambush spawns)
4) having a plan for difficulty maps like ch 13 and the final maps.

Edited by wissenschaft

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Yeah, I'd also have to say Dark Knight Sylvain dodge tanking bows is not an effective niche.

For one, it's just not consistent enough. 50 avoid may sound good on paper when you can add it, but it wont work well in pratice. Even if you included mocking bird thieves battalion and added in DK Sylvains average level 40 Speed of 26, that's only 86 Avoid against bow users. Chapter 14 snipers all ready have 126 Hit. A 40% Hit Rate isn't exactly nothing. And it grows worse as more enemy snipers will be able to consistently double Sylvain.

While you could engage them at three range for a -30 Hit penalty, that'd require some really specific positioning that's not really convient. If you're dedicating 2 skill slots to dealing with only one specific type of enemy, you shouldn't have to rely on specific positioning to be consistent.

Which also beings up the other issue: skill slots. Taking up 2 skill slots on something that's not effective on enemies is quite the ask. Even if you went pure mage Sylvain, between Magic +2, Fiendish Blow, Prowess, Range +1, and Hit +20, you really wouldn't want to drop any of those.

Not to mention, these are snipers. They're not difficult enemies to one round on Player Phase so the chip damage on enemy phase isn't really that helpful.

Dark Knight Sylvain might be better than Mir is giving it credit for, but Dodgetanking bow using enemies is certainly not an effective niche Dark Knight Sylvain has.

Edited by LoneRecon400

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18 minutes ago, LoneRecon400 said:

While you could engage them at three range for a -30 Hit penalty, that'd require some really specific positioning that's not really convient. If you're dedicating 2 skill slots to dealing with only one specific type of enemy, you shouldn't have to rely on specific positioning to be consistent.

In my experience, though, they won't attack from 2-range. They'll attack from 3-range, even if it kneecaps their Hit rate. I don't know why, but enemy bow-users seem to be programmed to attack from as far away as possible. I'm sure they'll attack from 2 spaces if it's their only option, and maybe if they have 0 hit at 3 or 4 tiles away (not sure about that one). I dunno, maybe this has just been my weird experience?

22 minutes ago, LoneRecon400 said:

Which also beings up the other issue: skill slots. Taking up 2 skill slots on something that's not effective on enemies is quite the ask. Even if you went pure mage Sylvain, between Magic +2, Fiendish Blow, Prowess, Range +1, and Hit +20, you really wouldn't want to drop any of those.

It takes really long on NG Maddening to even hit Range +1. As for Hit +20, that's assuming you went Archer, which I'm not assuming is the case for him in a full mage build (granted, Hit +20 is a good skill for him). I would run Reason Prowess, Bowbreaker, Black Magic Avoid +20, Magic +2, and Fiendish Blow. Probably sub in Range +1 for Magic +2 when it becomes available.

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33 minutes ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

In my experience, though, they won't attack from 2-range. They'll attack from 3-range, even if it kneecaps their Hit rate. I don't know why, but enemy bow-users seem to be programmed to attack from as far away as possible. I'm sure they'll attack from 2 spaces if it's their only option, and maybe if they have 0 hit at 3 or 4 tiles away (not sure about that one). I dunno, maybe this has just been my weird experience?

It takes really long on NG Maddening to even hit Range +1. As for Hit +20, that's assuming you went Archer, which I'm not assuming is the case for him in a full mage build (granted, Hit +20 is a good skill for him). I would run Reason Prowess, Bowbreaker, Black Magic Avoid +20, Magic +2, and Fiendish Blow. Probably sub in Range +1 for Magic +2 when it becomes available.

Enemies generally like avoiding damage, but being able to counterattack at three range makes them prioritize hit in my experience.

I mean, we're including DLC in this discussion. Sauna makes speeds up the acquisition of S Rank quite significantly. I was able to S Rank on a Dark Flier Dorothea by Chapter 14 on SS.

+2 Magic is pretty vital for Sylvain since he's pretty borderline on a lot of one shots. It can make the difference between having to switch from a +1 range staff to a Magic Staff for a ome shot in the midgame. Even the late game it can make difference with how bulky some enemies get chip damage can on occansion not be emough. It's never worth unequpping I find.

And there's really no reason not to go Archer. Mocking bird only provide +10 Hit, which really isn't enough when magic Sylvain has no practical way or increasing hit by himself due to not really being able to equip the accuracy ring.

Here's a question: On what chapter do you think this Bow Breaker setup is most useful on?

Edited by LoneRecon400

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1 hour ago, LoneRecon400 said:

I mean, we're including DLC in this discussion. Sauna makes speeds up the acquisition of S Rank quite significantly. I was able to S Rank on a Dark Flier Dorothea by Chapter 14 on SS.

Hold on, now. I've wasted a bunch of time in the Sauna, but it's not something you can plan around. It's basically random whether you're actually able to line up Teach's and Sylvain's refreshment, so unless you're resetting for a "perfect sauna", I would exclude it from considerations.

Also, Dorothea has a few advantages over Sylvain in this regard. She starts at D Reason with a boon, whereas Sylvain starts with E Reason and a neutral budding talent. Dorothea can realistically start slinging spells as soon as Chapter 1 (although I wouldn't recommend fielding her there), while Sylvain will be waiting until Chapter 2 at the absolute earliest. So Dorothea has a head start - not huge, but it's there.

1 hour ago, LoneRecon400 said:

Enemies generally like avoiding damage, but being able to counterattack at three range makes them prioritize hit in my experience.

Maybe that's the scenario I'm thinking of. I'm hardly a 3H AI expert.

1 hour ago, LoneRecon400 said:

+2 Magic is pretty vital for Sylvain since he's pretty borderline on a lot of one shots. It can make the difference between having to switch from a +1 range staff to a Magic Staff for a ome shot in the midgame. Even the late game it can make difference with how bulky some enemies get chip damage can on occansion not be emough. It's never worth unequpping I find.

As far as the functionality I've specified goes, it's actually Fiendish Blow that should be the first to go. It does nothing for him when counter-attacking on enemy phase. Of course, it hugely helps him on player phase. So it's up to the player, whether they wish to emphasize his EP, or his PP (don't laugh).

1 hour ago, LoneRecon400 said:

And there's really no reason not to go Archer. Mocking bird only provide +10 Hit, which really isn't enough when magic Sylvain has no practical way or increasing hit by himself due to not really being able to equip the accuracy ring.

And how is he training his Reason rank while on the field as an Archer? Does D+ Bow rank do him any favors in Warlock or Dark Knight? I'm not doubting the utility of Hit +20 on Sylvain, but it's an undertaking that takes away from his training for Mage classes to a considerable extent.

You have a point, to be sure, about battalions. Very few grant all three: Magic Attack, Hit, and Avoid. Mockingbird Thieves is probably the best for him in this regard, although Nuvelle Stewards or Nuvelle Fliers may also be an option. I don't have a clear answer, except to say that I don't really recall Hit rates being a major issue on my Dark Knight Sylvain. He naturally gets fairly accurate spells in Fire and Sagittae, and of course terrain is of no concern.

1 hour ago, LoneRecon400 said:

Here's a question: On what chapter do you think this Bow Breaker setup is most useful on?

Fair question. There are a few that come to mind. The Annalogue offers particularly nasty Bow Knight reinforcements, so having Bowbreaker Sylvain there could be nice (but it's only really practical on the post-skip CF version). Edelgard's paralogue, too, features a bunch of bow-using enemies that he'll appreciate dodging (especially parked on a forest tile). On non-CF routes, there are a few Snipers at Ailell, and likewise in "Legend of the Lake", both of which have impossible-to-traverse terrain for your melee units. There are probably others, although reviewing chapter rosters, there may be fewer bow-using enemies in the post-skip than I remembered.

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For what it's worth, I'd personally argue that Dark Knight Sylvain is just an all-around good build. Dodgetanking archers isn't, to my mind, its main purpose, though it's a cool added effect you can get out of the build on particular maps where it might be appropriate.

11 hours ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

You have a point, to be sure, about battalions. Very few grant all three: Magic Attack, Hit, and Avoid. Mockingbird Thieves is probably the best for him in this regard, although Nuvelle Stewards or Nuvelle Fliers may also be an option. I don't have a clear answer, except to say that I don't really recall Hit rates being a major issue on my Dark Knight Sylvain. He naturally gets fairly accurate spells in Fire and Sagittae, and of course terrain is of no concern.

Sylvain also wants Atk, so I'd definitely lean towards Mockingbird's Thieves out of those. However, I agree with you that Hit is not an issue; you aren't killing those archers on enemy phase, just weakening them. Who cares if you occasionally miss? And as you note, with 90-hit spells and terrain ignoring, you won't be missing very often anyway. The hit is more relevant for landing Swift Strikes, but there are so many ways to support hit in on player phase - linked attacks are a hell of a drug. If you do run Hit+20 I can't imagine having any trouble hitting things at all, but I've done variations on this build multiple times and I've never gotten Hit+20 for it, not felt I've needed to.

My issue with Mockingbird (and Nuvelle Stewards, for that matter) is it has a bad gambit. So if I don't really want to lean into evade, Gloucester Knights or Supreme Armoured Corps provide more Atk, more Mag, and either more Hit (Gloucester) or a C rank requirement (Supreme Armour), along with useful gambits.

Edited by Dark Holy Elf

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7 minutes ago, Dark Holy Elf said:

Sylvain also wants Atk, so I'd definitely lean towards Mockingbird's Thieves out of those. However, I agree with you that Hit is not an issue; you aren't killing those archers on enemy phase, just weakening them. Who cares if you occasionally miss? And as you note, with 90-hit spells and terrain ignoring, you won't be missing very often anyway. The hit is more relevant for landing Swift Strikes, but there are so many ways to support hit in on player phase - linked attacks are a hell of a drug. If you do run Hit+20 I can't imagine having any trouble hitting things at all, but I've done variations on this build multiple times and I've never gotten Hit+20 for it, not felt I've needed to.

I didn't go for Swift Strikes when I did this build, for pretty simple reasons: Swift Strikes requires A Lances, while you can feasibly get Dark Knight with just D+ Lances, making "pure magical" Sylvain a much lower-effort build. And of course, forgoing Lance investment means hitting Rrason Lv. 5 and Magic Range +1 sooner. Swift Strikes is the best thing Sylvain can do on player phase, to be sure, but it doesn't synergize especially well with a magical build IMO (outside of maybe Swift Strikes Arrow of Indra on CF).

As for skills, obviously drop Bowbreaker for maps with few or no Bow-using enemies. Black Magic Avoid +20 can still broadly be nice, especially on maps with helpful terrain. I do worry that trying to combine Swift Strikes and Black Magic might throw a spanner in the works, as you'll want both Lance Prowess and Reason Prowess. Situationally Swordbreaker and Bowbreaker, too. And of course, going for Black Magic Avoid, plus both Fiendish and Death Blows, means we're already at... 7 skills?

Re: linked attack bonuses, I'm a big fan of making Ingrid serve as Sylvain's adjutant. With 3 extra attack and 10 extra Hit, it can really help on player phase. Or just field her, and you can get the linked attack bonus when the arrangement strikes.

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@Shanty Pete's 1st Mate

Yeah, forgoing Swift Strikes is fine as well of course, and in that case I'd argue Hit+20 is even more of a waste of time - not only is it utterly unnecessary, but since you're orienting towards pure magic (e.g. Mag+2, Fiendish Blow), whichever Intermediate class he's in second will see him be a particularly crappy unit. Either he'll be an Archer competing with other units who have relevant Blow and Stat+2 skills, or he'll be a Mage without Fiendish Blow when all his competition has it.

And yeah, Sylvain's a great place for linked attacks/adjutants in general. In addition to Ingrid, he has Felix, potentially getting +6 mt, and if you're fielding at least two of them, it's a reciprocal arrangement. And as a mounted mage, Sylvain is more easily able to hand out those bonuses as needed.

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On 3/26/2022 at 2:14 PM, Jotari said:

You usually don't bother to actually check stuff yourself either, just stubbornly stick to your initial instinct after looking up growth rates.

I also consider investment, because of course I'm gonna be pissed off if I put in a lot of work to get in a class and the result is underwhelming. Also, I already consider Dark Knight unimpressive even on characters that actually have an inclination towards magic, considering how much investment it needs (especially with regard to female mages). Don't tell me you seriously think trying it on someone who is NOT magically inclined will suddenly encourage me to do a 180.

23 hours ago, wissenschaft said:

I agree with Shanty. Bow users are SO annoying on maddening that building Sylvain just to counter them is a perfectly valid build option. Honestly, Maddening is not that hard that you need to build the most optimal builds all the time. There is plenty of room for niche builds and off meta shenanigans. 

The keys to Maddening are: 

1) proper positioning and baiting of enemy groups.
2) knowing effective builds/combat arts/gambits
3) cheating by checking out all the ambush spawn triggers before playing a map. (screw ambush spawns)
4) having a plan for difficulty maps like ch 13 and the final maps.

The way I see it, unfortunately, that rings hollow in the face of the numbers that @LoneRecon400posted. I mean, if it's meant to counter one enemy type, it needs to actually be good at it without specific conditions needing to be in play (of course, the fact that it isn't effective against most units is a problem in and of itself; a build that only works against archers is gonna fall short relative to one that works against more enemy types). This being said, while there might be room to make niche builds work, this one, far as I'm concerned, is veering into "crippling overspecialization" territory; when I could use a more generic dodgetank build that works against more than just archers, there's no reason to have to scrape the bottom of the barrel, even if archers are a pain in the ass (imho, archers are at their nastiest in the earlygame, relatively speaking). Also, I have read and seen quite a bit about how to succeed in Maddening; putting it into actual practice, on the other hand, will have to wait.

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7 hours ago, Shadow Mir said:

I also consider investment, because of course I'm gonna be pissed off if I put in a lot of work to get in a class and the result is underwhelming. Also, I already consider Dark Knight unimpressive even on characters that actually have an inclination towards magic, considering how much investment it needs (especially with regard to female mages). Don't tell me you seriously think trying it on someone who is NOT magically inclined will suddenly encourage me to do a 180.

You could try chilling a bit. If a class doesn't work out then cool, hey at least you tried it and learned something. What's there to be pissed about? That you played a game you like in a slightly more esoteric way? Or, you know, just pre-judge absolutely everything you see without any first hand knowledge or experience at all. That's one way to go through life.

7 hours ago, Shadow Mir said:

 Also, I have read and seen quite a bit about how to succeed in Maddening; putting it into actual practice, on the other hand, will have to wait.

Does that mean you haven't actually played Maddening?

Edited by Jotari

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