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Fire Emblem Round Houses (FE16 Maddening, Gauntlets only, No DLC, Gender Balance)

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This is a playthrough that's been stuck in my mind for years and I thought the best way to enhance the magic is to share it with all of you! Currently on Chapter 17. Here are the rules:

  • Maddening, Classic, New Game, No DLC, No Online features. The Route is Blue Lions. Every rule after this one is active beginning at Chapter 2, since that is when you can first acquire gauntlets and start punching people.
  • You may only inflict damage with Gauntlets. And I guess unarmed attacks are allowed too.
    • Playable units may not use White Magic - even when it does no damage. 
    • All damage dealing Gambits are banned, save for battalions that clearly have brawlers/gauntlet wielding troops doing the attacking. At time of writing I have confirmed the existence of two such battalions. The Kingdom Brawlers and Seiros Brawlers.
      • Support based Gambits (Stride, Retribution, etc) are allowed.
      • You can also equip battalions just for their stats and never use their Gambit.
  • Excessive grinding strategies, particularly through use of broken weapons and harassing priests with renewal, is banned.
  • The Deployed Roster (not counting Adjutants) of every map must have an equal number of boys and girls.
    • Chapter 13 is exempt from this rule because I cannot choose who is deployed, and I would have to murder Ashe to comply with it.
    • Regarding maps with an odd number of deployable units: If the maximum is 11, for instance, a coin will be flipped to decide the gender of the 11th slot. Heads for Boys. Tails for Girls.

Let me know if you have any concerns or questions about the run. The purpose of that final rule is to keep the playthrough interesting. Since the obvious answer is to recruit the 12 best grapplers/war masters and auto pilot through the game. By using women who have no access to the brawler classline, I'm encouraged to experiment with unorthodox units and classes. The route is Blue Lions, and I have a lot of neat ideas for units to recruit. Too many, in fact. That's why I've set up a poll where you can choose one male and one female to join our team.

Update: The Poll has closed. Thank you all for participating! The winners are Ferdinand and Dorothea, who will be permanent fixtures of our team once I recruit them. 

I'll be updating this thread with video footage of the maps as we progress, as well as write ups regarding my strategies. The writeups up to chapter 3 are directly beneath this post. 

Edited by Zapp Branniglenn
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(Post reserved for chapter write ups)

Prologue + Chapter 1


Prologue: I decided to train Byleth’s axe rank, since this and chapter 1 are the only opportunities to do so outside of faculty training. She wasn’t as effective since she lacked a Prowess ability, but by the end of Chapter 1 she got at least 20 wExp, which was worth the effort. In general I played risky with the hit rates since the map is so short I could just redo everything in a few minutes if Byleth managed to die.

Chapter 1: Gave all the items to our main team. Including an axe on everybody. Gave the bow to Byleth to better take advantage of her passive. Not concerned with using too many combat arts since I’ll just sell these weapons later. Nothing you can really do to avoid crits on this map, but the truth is the first group of three is one of the biggest obstacles in this map. Certainly the biggest obstacle if you’re playing Black Eagles or Golden Deer (more on that later). I noticed everybody in this map uses training weapons and is equipped with Dexterity +8 so ducking into the terrain is generally a waste of time. Had an interesting interaction with Hilda on the left. She wouldn’t attack me, but I couldn’t seem to lure her without moving Dedue back into range. If anybody can explain what happened there, I’m interested to hear it. Anyway we accomplish my goal of surrounding claude where he can't attack back, but I also foolishly let Hilda onto a forest tile.

Wasn’t expecting Hanneman on the left team. He’s not there in the other two routes and he has eleven charges of magic spells with high crit. If you’re on the other routes, Manuela is on the left and she only has six shots of nosferatu – a spell that can never crit. What you can do is purposely tank those spells, then continue past her without killing her. You can then use her healing tile all you want, then take on the units to the east one at a time for an easy, breezy end to Chapter 1. Since Hanneman is so dangerous I was forced to kill him, which aggros the remaining students to your position all at once. So I guess Blue Lions have the hardest version of this map? Thankfully I had the time I needed to knock out Hubert before the rest came – despite missing an 88 on an important shot (a 97% in True Hit). Edelgard was scary. I immediately noticed she could one round Dimitri and Byleth no matter what weapon we're holding, causing a game over. Her aggro line suggested she wouldn’t do that, but I wasn’t about to stake my life on it, since trade swapping somebody’s weapon or using rally strength can change the aggro lines in an instant. Once she was dealt with I could rest easy. I took the time to heal up with the healing tile but with only Manuela left it was totally unnecessary.

Chapter 2


Battle preparations: Now that it’s chapter 2, the run can officially start. All of our weapons have been sold off to purchase training gauntlets and all three sets of steel gauntlets available in the shop. With the remaining money I bought an iron shield for Dedue. Shields are our only accessories for a while so it makes sense to invest in them – just gotta remember to unequip them if they’re dragging down our AS. Iron Shield+Training Gauntlets can be mitigated by just 15 strength so it shouldn’t be an issue for long. I bought more iron shields later with the money earned from the practice battle. Iron gauntlets are 3wt and thus a bit harder to justify using just for the extra damage point. Their main purpose is to be turned into Killer weapons later though, so if I do buy them all I have to worry about is keeping their endurance above 0. Also I cooked the HP+3 meal to maximize our survivability. 

Training Goals: I’m pushing hard to get Dimitri, Dedue, and Felix to D rank in Brawling by the end of the month. Dimitri does not start at E+ like the other two, and is neutral in this skill, so I made sure to keep him motivated in order to make it happen (just barely). Byleth can’t meet this goal since faculty training isn’t available yet and she can’t tutor herself. Annette is sole focusing Authority to get to Rally Speed ASAP. Felix and Dimitri are simply set on Axe/Brawling. I find that passive goals are a steadier source of skill exp than tutoring when it comes to skill banes – especially when you don’t have saint statue or Professor bonuses in that skill. Dedue has enough ranks at level 1 to certify as a Brigand OR Armor knight, so the axe rank can certainly wait. With him I will sole focus brawling to hit C+ and B faster, which are both much higher priority than padding out his authority rank.

Forced Practice Battle: Our priorities are mastering our classes, leveling up these battalions, and getting Brawling exp. Not much actual exp can be earned since the enemies are the same level as us. The EXP penalties on Maddening are so great that killing an enemy that’s the same level as you yields single digit exp. The enemy strength is so low that almost every unit in the game can quad strike them with training gauntlets at level 1 (all you need is 5+ strength and 7+ speed). Is this map at all more difficult on Maddening mode?

In order to prolong the map a bit, I probably could have bought more iron gauntlets with the iron shield to drop our AS low enough that we’re not machine gunning punches at them each round. One brilliant idea I did put into action is attaching a batallion to Felix so that his passive doesn’t activate. Nothing I can do to stop his crest from activating though. No permadeath on this map either, so I even got Annette to throw some punches and get a little closer to HP+5. By the end, Byleth, Dedue and Dimitri mastered their classes.

Main Mission: Dedue’s passive, an iron shield, and Church of Seiros soldiers are all working to maximize his tanking potential. I got the batallion up to level three in the practice map (affording +2 Prt) and because it was attached to Dedue, the endurance was only drained a few points. The Boys are all at D rank in Brawling as planned, allowing them to use Steel Gauntlets but more importantly Fading Blow. Adding +6 MT may not sound like much, but unless you’re already hitting for 7 damage or higher on each punch, it’s an improvement. The +30 avoid is appreciated for letting us dodge counterattacks. And best of all is the feature where we step back a tile after striking. In this challenge run, all of us are 1 range locked units, so being able to open up the same space you attacked from for another unit will prove invaluable for piling on the damage.

The main reason Chapter 2 is so tough are the intermediate class units. The archers’ 3 range and poison strike can really limit Dedue’s tankiness. But the real concern are the thieves. They’re rocking 5 Mov and the Pass skill, so you can’t wall them off. They’ve got 30 Avoid, and a ludicrous 14 AS. The shield help keep the damage down.

With the first batch of three units, I decided to send one of our filler units out to tank the archer’s shot while Dedue engages the two Fighters at the same time. The second batch of units is the hardest turn of the entire map. Never feel bad about using your first divine pulse on these guys, and whatever you do don’t let them step on that forest tile. Since we can’t outrun the thieves, it’s also important to note unit health. Felix is the only one that can avoid a double from them – and that’s only because he was lucky enough to earn a point of speed from both his first two level ups, and I gave him the leather shield from our convoy instead of an iron. But with only 5 defense and not starting with HP+5, he's a squishy boy just the same.

Keeping space open to use fading blow occasionally results in not being able to use Byleth’s passive on a narrow bridge like this. Furthermore, Annette’s rally should be done on units already a few steps away from the action so that she’s not standing in the way later. With the right spacing, we were able to pile on hits with fading blow (and hopefully avoid a counterattack or two). The +10 hit is also appreciated. Better to take a single swing at 80 displayed hit than two swings at 70, since that’s two chances to miss.

I have quite a bit of difficulty leaving the starting area, often retreating back past the bridge. On one of these waves that allows me to lure the archer past his 4 mov cohorts, giving me easy access to him. These enemy waves aggro toward you on their own at a rate faster than I was expecting, so there’s no shame in turtling up and using those precious turns to sip health drink. Once we breached the middle portion of the map, Ashe could pop open the chest. 5000G is all we should need for batallion shopping next chapter.

Splitting up on the left and north paths is totally unnecessary, but I checked to see if I could lure out that top right archer by approaching that bridge. It didn’t work. That archer aggros himself later when I’m dealing with the left side. The left side is obnoxiously narrow and I stupidly lure one of the enemies onto a forest tile, but otherwise things go smoothly on the run up to the boss. I hilariously miss a 90 (True Hit 98.1), but it wasn’t a crucial miss. It takes every single one of us, but Kostas goes down without issue. After this ordeal, I have no worries left that this challenge is doable.

Chapter 3


Preparations: My priority this early in the game is getting our Professor Rank as high as possible. The more you Explore, the more beneficial later Explore sessions will be. I managed to reach rank C by the end of the month, which demonstrated to me how lucrative Gardening can be. I took the advice of @Bylift and located the guaranteed 5 star seed in the first Explore session (in Chapter 1). Even planting just one of these nets the full 500 professor exp. But when I planted on the first week of this month I got 8 seeds in return which is ludicrously helpful. I suppose the gardening event in that week had something to do with that, but I’m good just planting one of these seeds at a time.

Activity points were naturally spent on the Dining Hall for more prof. Exp, motivating our squad, and building supports with recruitable students. I also bought several batallions, including Kingdom Brawlers. It’s Disturbance is our first and only gambit for the foreseeable future. By the time I reached the chapter mission I hit two unexpected milestones. C professor rank gives me the maximum amount of gold and professor exp from lecture questions at the start of the each month, and also an adjutant slot. I requested Raphael for mission assistance (he’s the only student carrying gauntlets), and made him the adjutant to ensure that he can build support with Byleth. The other milestone is C+ Brawling on Dedue. One-Two-Punch is no joke one of the best combat arts in the game, so having it this early is insane.

Main Mission: Chapter 3 is nowhere near Chapter 2 in terms of difficulty. The bulk of enemies are Level 5 classes with stats that don’t compare to the last map’s Thieves. And if you really want to take it easy, you can hide your squad behind the green units and let them take the brunt of unseen attackers. I do have every intention of keeping the green units alive however. +4 Luck and +2 Dex may not sound like much to the average player, but they equal 3 whole points of Crit and I gotta find some way to spice up a boring map.

I equipped Felix with a battalion since Jeralt's mercs were already at near max and he'll benefit from working out his authority early. Our unit placement is perfect for a turn 1 stride. Had Byleth use a torch to illuminate the south forest, and send the boys in. Dedue’s One-Two Punch grants Hit +20 so that helps with these guys in the forest. Felix is also already getting mileage out of the C Rank combat art Rushing Blow to get further in and make room for Dimitri. Rushing Blow vaults you over the other side of your target - ss if they had used Reposition on you. I really hope this ends up working on monsters. Like fading below however, if you miss your target you won’t move anywhere, which can be frustrating.

I thought that by getting ahead of the green units I’d keep them safe, but they are gluttons for punishment with no love of the southern forest that I quickly secured. When the action let up, I used another torch to see what was up ahead, and thereby signed their death warrant. They wanted a piece of the dark mage I had just revealed. So I used Divine pulse to rewrite that. My plan was to let them sit in the south and roam around the northern part of the map looking for units to kill before taking out the dark mage, but the green units wandered in range of him anyway, forcing me to split my focus.

Once the fog lifted, I had to send somebody (Felix) to deal with the guys coming up behind us, and try to beat the green units to the remaining enemies to the left. Looking back at the footage, this would have been a good opportunity for the second stride. If I pushed my units forward hard enough, the greenies would have no target in range, and instead retreat back toward Catherine. I don’t think I fully grasped their AI while playing. Or maybe I just kept failing to take note that Green phase is AFTER enemies move forward on their phase. They eventually suicided themselves due to my blunder. God I hate these guys. Why don’t they have sword prowess? Or at least a single vulnerary?

Three charges of Resonant White Magic and my first Divine Pulse of the run proved insufficient in keeping the green units alive. I took out my frustration on the two straggler enemies near the start of the map. For some reason they don’t aggro toward you under any circumstance. Once that was finished I rushed Lonato. The big tip for dealing with him is to leave nobody within 1 range on his turn. His gambit is extremely dangerous. We’re 1 range locked units, but Fading Blow once again proves its value here by keeping us a step away. He’s even less threatening with a javelin equipped. Theoretically, I could have sat there and spammed the move on him each turn for free experience and skill ranks, but boss abuse certainly falls under the infinite grinding strategies that I banned for this playthrough.


Edited by Zapp Branniglenn
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On 6/6/2022 at 4:00 AM, Zapp Branniglenn said:

All damage dealing Gambits are banned, save for battalions that clearly have brawlers/gauntlet wielding troops doing the attacking. At time of writing I have confirmed the existence of one such battalion. I am not anticipating there will be more than two after doing some research.


Use of White Magic is explicitly banned even when it does no damage. 

Wow, this is quite the challenge. Gauntlets only sounds tough, but doable. Although without wide area gambits like Blaze after chapter 3? No healing spells at all early game? That's definitely a challenge. I imagine the run will sorta sort itself out once you unlock healing focus though, but even then that sounds tough.

One obvious question... what route are you playing? Noted that you didn't list that in the OP. Eventually found that you were playing Blue Lions by looking at the chapter write-ups spoilers. Posting it here as I imagine everyone else will have the same question.

Adjutant questions; Do adjutants have to also use gauntlets too? How would you go about mastering something like Darting Blow (if that's your plan) - would you just have them unequip any weapon? Does that mean you aren't using healing adjutants either since white magic is completely banned?

For your units:

Male - I voted Ignatz, who doesn't really have to fight at all by making him a pure rally-bot in part 1. In Part 2 you could go Assassin for Stealth, his ranks lean towards it. And it can work with the Kingdom Archers and later the Indech Sword Fighters with the Retribution gambit, since majority of gauntlets only have 1-range and the part 2 chapters of AM are terrible for their long-range siege magic spam.

Female - I went with Hilda since I don't foresee you getting much use out of the mages, specially if DLC isn't an option. Aside her good starting stats, she also learns good debuffs.

Have you considered Ingrid as your dancer by any chance? Mentioning her since she's available in Hunting By Daybreak in your route, and riding boon can get her Move+1 quicker. And her in-house stats aren't exactly that good either.

Edited by DaveCozy
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5 hours ago, DaveCozy said:

One obvious question... what route are you playing? Noted that you didn't list that in the OP. Eventually found that you were playing Blue Lions by looking at the chapter write-ups spoilers. Posting it here as I imagine everyone else will have the same question.

It's in the OP. It's just not bolded or anything. 


Adjutant questions; Do adjutants have to also use gauntlets too? How would you go about mastering something like Darting Blow (if that's your plan) - would you just have them unequip any weapon? Does that mean you aren't using healing adjutants either since white magic is completely banned?

I'm extremely insistent on the "you cannot hurt anybody with something that's not a punch" angle of this playthrough. So if somebody's class makes them an attack adjutant, they must be equipped with gauntlets. Or nothing at all if they're in a class that can't use gauntlets, such as a pegasus knight or mage. They can't invalidate my run if they never attack. Can you make a mounted adjutant dismount? I'm assuming that's impossible. But I know in a Mage's case you can equip a healing spell to prevent them from attacking.

Healing Adjutants I had not thought of. Now that you mention it, I think their healing amount correlates exactly as if that character used the Heal spell on you. But...is that white magic? I'm not choosing to use it, it just happens like any other source of passive healing. I don't expect to rely on using healing adjutants, buuuut I did have a funny joke in mind that involves the use of one. Hrm...

More importantly there's also Resonant White Magic, the gambit. I was expecting to use that too. Starting to think I should adjust the wording of the rule to "None of my units may use white magic spells", since that was the intent. If this crowd of people wants to pray for my safety and I happen to regain some HP, who am I to tell them no? I just want the dumb green units in Chapter 3 to survive and this is the only way I can heal them. 


Have you considered Ingrid as your dancer by any chance? Mentioning her since she's available in Hunting By Daybreak in your route, and riding boon can get her Move+1 quicker. And her in-house stats aren't exactly that good either.

I've had enough experience with chapter 13 that I'm confident we'd get by with just Byleth and Dimitri. Plus Gilbert's there, I just need Ashe to carry some gauntlets to trade over to him. If this were Silver Snow or Verdant Wind (where Claude can only fight back in his new class by dismounting first), then I think the playthrough would warrant some long term planning. But in this route? Nah. We're in the best shape we can be.

And I'm saving the Dancer class for a unit that can't easily gain levels by fighting. The mage girls can potentially dish out damage in a playthrough like this, but if they don't have a steady stream of experience, it won't matter what the intended build was.

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Alright time for an update. First order of business is of course the poll. I actually planned to have it end on midnight, not noon. And changing the time doesn't seem to help. Oh well.  Thank you all so much for weighing in on the third question, as I expect many maps with 9 or 11 deployment slots in the middle portion of the game. Our first place winners of the poll are Ferdinand and Dorothea. Great choices! And very surprising to see such split results between all 12 options. I'm really enthusiastic about Ferdinand's potential in this sort of run, and Dorothea should make for a great dancer. Not sure which chapter I will have recruited these two, but I am legally bound to deploy them in all chapters moving forward once they are recruited. That's my pugilistic promise. 

As for the rest of my recruited roster, I have it all pretty much figured out in my head and will keep those units a surprise until they show up. Some may be unexpected! There's still some question marks regarding the boys side simply because we're playing on the Blue Lions route and at least one of them will disappear for several chapters. The only "permanent" fixtures of the team are our two poll winners, and I guess Byleth and Dimitri since the game isn't giving me an option not to use them. So basically, our active roster will have some units going in and out to meet the situation. What's important is of course that we keep the gender balance for each map. 

Next order of business is the playthrough's first update. I had finished Chapter 3 some days ago. You can read about it in this post, and/or watch the footage here. The real suspense is not whether I can clear the map, but whether I can keep the green units from throwing their lives away. I want those stat boosters more than I want my next meal. I also decided to speed up enemy phase and green unit phase footage because I refuse to turn off these wonderful punching animations. Keeping the player phase at normal speed so that it's clear what decisions I am making.

As a bonus while I'm waiting for this Chapter 3 footage to render, I'll take a look at our unit's stats and compare to the average using this helpful tool. My file is currently at battle preps for Chapter 4. The number in parenthesis indicates the average to compare to.

  • Byleth level 7 (changed to fighter at 6)
    • Str 17 (16.75), Mag 8 (8.1), Dex 12 (11.7), Spd 10 (10.7), Lck 11 (10.7), Def 6 (8.1), Res 7 (7.75), Cha 14 (9.75)
    • Clearly Charm blessed. Tea Time becomes available for this chapter, so that's +2 charm a month but still we're at least two points ahead. Charm isn't that helpful for most units in this run since its only application will be avoiding gambits as opposed to delivering them. However Byleth's charm is always so naturally high that it makes sense to give her the one gambit. She's behind on Defense (never leveled it once), but I don't foresee it being a problem. In order to recruit ferdinand I'll be getting her to armor D through faculty training, so an armor knight certification may net her some free points later. 
  • Dimitri level 7 (changed to fighter at 6)
    • Str 17 (16.65), Mag 6 (5.2), Dex 10 (10), Spd 10 (10), Lck 6 (6.5), Def 9(9.4), Res 7(5.15)., Cha 13(12.6)
    • Perfectly par! No criticisms.
  • Dedue level 7 (changed to fighter at 5)
    • Str 14(16.1), Mag 3 (3.3), Dex 6 (6.8), Spd 10 (8.2), Lck 5 (6.5), Def 12 (11), Res 3 (2.1), Cha 7 (5.9)
    • Definitely the strangest of the bunch. Those two points of strength ended up in Speed. Not the most useful stat for Dedue. One Two Punch ensures he'll never be doubled on player phase, and the late game Quick Riposte ensures the same for enemy phase. Speed only grants +1 avoid per point in this game so it's not much good for that either.
  • Felix level 7 (changed to fighter at 5)
    • Str 15 (14.4), mag, 6, Dex 10 (8.7), spd 12 (12.3), Lck 10 (7.4), def 6 (6.8), Res 3 (4.1), Cha 6 (7.1)
    • Thought he was strength blessed but it was actually dex and luck. Those are good stats too. Two points of either equals 1 point of crit. And padding out our crit rate should be a big element of the run once we can forge killer gauntlets. I knew Felix's defense wouldn't be particularly high, so I've actually had him in the armor group task so that he can certify as an armor knight. That should get him up to speed with the others. His Def growth isn't bad, it's just that base of 5 he has to work with. 
Edited by Zapp Branniglenn
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Can't seem to update the usual post with this next write up. So I'll put it here while I ponder what's the best way to have links of all the write ups in one place. You can read about Chapter 4 in this spoiler tab and/or watch it here. Can we defeat the Death Knight? Will the 25 turn limit prove too strict? Will Dedue stop leveling speed? All shall be revealed in the next exciting installment.


Preparations: This month was a lot of stuffing my fat face. I’m addicted to the professor exp grind, and there are many characters I'd like to recruit early, so the Dining Hall obliges both objectives. Tea Time allows Byleth to pick up two free points of Charm a month on birthdays. I selected Lysithea for Mission Assistance because she will help us defeat the Death Knight. The arena is unlocked this month, but until they host a Gauntlets Tournament, that associated quest will remain in my questlog uncompleted. I’m not gonna void my run over a steel sword+.

Main Mission: Okay, the big question. Can we defeat the Death Knight with our bare hands? We don’t need to, but if we do then we’ll have a lot more freedom in navigating this map. The first step is luring him out, so I put Byleth in range with Annette’s rally. She unlocked Rally Speed just in time for this map, and it’s already proving crucial to our strategy. When DK missed his 26% chance to crit, the fight was on. Oh and Lysithea’s adjutant heal activates. I told you she’d help us beat the Death Knight.

Next rally goes to Dedue. One Two Punch chunks this guy’s health down to a third. I counted my blessings again in avoiding that 31% crit. The danger’s over at this point, because it was time for my secret weapon. Something that I bet some of the most die hard players don’t know. If a combat art grants avoid, it also grants you that much critical avoid. In the footage I demonstrate with Felix, since he has three combat arts that give varying degrees of Avoid. Fading Blow wipes DK’s crit rate down to 0, and also allows allows Felix to dodge the counterattacks (he’s 1 speed shy of avoiding the double naturally). From here Dimitri could clean up the last 10 damage, but I wanted this to be a team effort. Even though the DK has no battalion and is immune to Rattle, I decided right there he shall be the first enemy I use a Gambit on.

So there you have it. Gauntlets reign supreme once again. Of course, the plan wasn’t foolproof. I needed to dodge two rounds of that maniac’s +30 crit scythe, but then again I didn’t need to rely on any crit or crest proc. I also didn’t distribute any of the strength boosters I’ve been collecting from the Greenhouse. I wanted as clean of a fight as possible for maximum bragging potential.

...oh right the map isn’t over, is it? After conquering my foe, I got the warning about reinforcements. I decided my next magic trick would be ambushing the not-ambush spawns. I sat at their spawn point and waited. Then waited some more. Until the mages arrived at their final tomb. A gauntlet of gauntlets. I pummeled them even harder out of sheer embarrassment at how many turns that took. But overall I think I made the right decision. Starting a fight with some enemies, then having to turn to face these powerful mages coming up behind us would have been pretty dangerous. All of the physical enemies in this map are complete pushovers, but the mages boast some impressive stats (11 str, 14 spd). Their Seal Strength skill also inflicts a whopping -12 to our damage output. And I couldn’t take advantage of the Avoid +40 terrain since magic doesn’t care about terrain. Let’s just say I’ve never been more pleased at Annette possessing Rally Resistance.

Actually come to think of it, I missed a lot of opportunities to Rally now that I’m watching back this footage. That’s the annoyance of watching yourself play Fire Emblem, you quickly notice the mistakes you make. In my defense I was catching up on Not-E3 streams, so I was distracted enough to lose my train of thought. I fought my way to both treasure chests so that Ashe could secure them. Once the mages were dealt with I decided to split up my four fighters to net more experience before the turn limit runs out. There are two defenseless priests. I had Ingrid and Annette work on their HP+5. Still not there yet. These particular priests do not have renewal so don’t worry, this isn’t grinding. I just prioritize other targets first.

Somewhere along the way Dedue hits 11 spd. He is now 3 points above the average. Kind of hard to express just how good One Two Punch is on him when he’s securing quads like this. Then again his strength isn't quite up to par for this level so the combat art remains his best source of damage even against the squishy mages. The boss hits much harder than other mages, but actually has way less AS. All of us could get the quad on him. By the end, all four of us except Byleth hit level 10 to certify as some better classes for next month.

Apologies for these late updates. I had forgotten how many hours it takes to play just one chapter of Three Houses, to say nothing of the hours it takes to cut the footage into something watchable. The next chapter is a massive one for many reasons. I am actually having a lot of fun with this run. And I've got a lot of grim things going on in life that this is a much needed distraction.

Edited by Zapp Branniglenn
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Chapter 5 Is an exciting update, because we finally expand our beat-em-up roster with 2 new characters. You can read about it in this spoiler tab and/or watch the footage here


Preparations: A lot needs to get done this month and not a lot of time to do it. Five freaking sundays in that calendar and only 3 are free days, thanks game. The second of those days has to be me taking on those battle quests to unlock the bonus merchants. The blacksmith finally opens shop. I had been waiting a long time for my killer gauntlets, but was shocked to see the option blank. Apparently, you must have B+ professor level to create them. Yet, every other killer weapon only requires C+. I’m beginning to think the game designers foresaw this run, but they can’t keep me down forever. Felix collected 5 defense points from the armor knight certification, but I was unable to do the same for Byleth’s 7 defense. Stupid Alois not showing up this month 😠

The real exciting part are my new recruits. Catherine and Bernadetta. The latter I’ve been working hard to get this early. In fact I fully admit to save scumming her B Support auto recruitment in the first week. By recruiting her now, as a Fighter, she joins with D rank in axes and brawling, which she would not have later as an archer. She’s weak in both skills, so it’s a big boost to get her with all the benefits of D brawling, as well as being over halfway to the Brigand certification. Saint Statue bonuses made this month’s battle quests way more lucrative too.

The extra merchants are a big deal because of their gifts and fishing bait that refresh each month. I also discovered that the 40+ angelica I earned from all that gardening sells for 200G each. So I could splurge a bit harder on gifts and forges. I also took advantage of the fishing events – mostly to restock my supply of dining hall food but it helped push me over to B professor rank and get some extra gold. I have a second adjutant slot now so I gave it to Ingrid. I’m hoping I can get her into Pegasus Knight and nab reposition for her paralogue and chapter 13 so she can keep herself out of trouble. Also want to do the same for Annette but right now her rallies are just too helpful.

Main mission: I thought a lot about what class I want everybody in. Four of us are very close to finishing off the Fighter class, and Str +2 is a key ability. But this is such a long map that I’d rather everybody be in Brigand so the excess class mastery can go toward Death Blow. Plus having 5 movement and better class stats/growths is ideal for such a long map.. Bernie has no choice but to be a fighter, and I put Catherine in Swordmaster for the insane growth boosts. As for Dimitri, I wasn’t expecting him to be in Brigand in time for this map, so I certified him as a Lord. The Lord class comes with Charm as a passive skill, which is basically Hilda’s personal skill. It probably makes more sense for him to work on Death Blow, but getting any use at all out of this obscure class was such a compelling idea that I decided to commit to it. Any Dark Mage users reading this know what I’m talking about. Dimitri can fading blow and set up a kill for one of our new units. It also comes with a bonus to Authority gain.

Gave Dedue’s shield and healing drinks to other characters. Now he has Healing Focus, so he’s our dedicated sponge for luring enemies. I understand there may be some skepticism surrounding Bernadetta, so I dedicated Turn 1 to showing off how high her damage ramps up. But for Turn 2 I retreated back to the start to prepare for those ambush spawns. They’ll reach us anyway if I just move ahead, and Gilbert makes for a good decoy. It’s extremely important that we ensure Gilbert dies to these mages like the Axe-wielding moron he is. If left alive, he’ll probably lure out the archers on top. And in doing so lure about 15-20 enemies to us in one big clump of archers, armor knights and mages. That’s too much heat for us to deal with. I'd be interested to know what the level designers were thinking in having the enemy AI behave this way. 

The next step is the Thief ambush spawns in the top right. The same menacing thieves of Chapter 2. I didn’t know the precise tile they spawn on, and Annette was unfortunately 1 space too close. Their Pass skill lead to a divine pulse. We’re at a point now where Level 1 Annette cannot survive even one attacker. Also I stupidly forget Dedue’s turn after the divine pulse. On the top left we’ve got armor knights. I did indeed stare down one or two 0x4 Battle forecasts, and their Armored Blow skill keeps us from hurting them on enemy phase. But Annette’s Rally and Dimitri’s Lord Class push us into some respectable damage. We pick up the accuracy ring but I’m skeptical it will ever see use in this run. I'd rather have an evasion or critical ring. 

Finishing our lap up to Miklan goes smoothly. Dedue’s Healing Focus handily matches the archers' Poison Strike skill. Miklan does not go smoothly, he crits Byleth and I was kind of at a loss as to what to do about that. In hindsight I should have strided guys in to drain his health with fading blow. His accuracy is bad and each combat makes him take bonus damage from the relic. The Monster boss was spooky too. Monsters are really the only enemy type that have me nervous for this run. They are never weak to gauntlets like they are other weapon types, and there’s no such thing as monster slaying gauntlets. Plus we only have one gambit at our disposal that hits two tiles. Actually I didn’t even bring it for this map. Whoops.

While I am deathly afraid of the upcoming Sothis paralogue, for now this fight isn’t too bad. We start out at a position where all of us can reach him at once and his accuracy is remarkably low to the point where fading blow is nearly free. All it takes is eight hits on his four tiles to get the full armor break and of course fading blow allows us1 range-locked units to manage that just in time. Once we’re not punching armor, our damage is more than sufficient for his 252 total HP. And it only gets better later when we secure Str+2, Death Blow, and killer gauntlets.

The umbral steel obtained from the armor break literally has no use in this run except to be sold. There are no Relic Gauntlet weapons. But at 600G a pop, I’d say it’s worth grinding out. Killer Gauntlets will really place a strain on our budget, and I'd say they're better than any relic weapon anyway. We got some awesome level ups this chapter. For the obligatory Dedue update, yes he has 12 speed now at level 12. I think he thinks this is funny. And I’m kicking myself now at realizing I never checked if Rushing Blow works on Monsters. That would be good to know.

I think later chapters only get meatier from here once Paralogues open up. I did indeed record footage of the two battle quests of this month, but felt there was little point to showing them off in the footage. The only things of consequence that happen during them is Byleth levels up once, and our two new characters collect HP+5. I don't think I'll be recording battles like that in the future, since the only point to doing so is proving that I'm not doing the grinding stuff I banned in the rules. 

Edited by Zapp Branniglenn
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Chapter 6 includes our first paralogue and a rematch with the quarter-munching Black Knight. You can read about it in this spoiler tab and/or watch the footage here


Preparations: Is it insensitive of me to be annoyed at Seteth not training my Axe rank? He’s not available for Faculty Training this month because Flayn is missing, and that really screwed my optimization for byleth’s class certifications and recruiting. I really want Byleth to certify as both a brigand and armor knight, but because of Seteth I couldn’t raise both ranks. Luckily I passed for Brigand in time for some battles. I also used that D+ Axe rank to recruit Hilda. Lorenz auto joined with the B support in the following week. I did not save scum for that, but I fully admit I was planning to if he didn’t show up. Later on in the month I finally got Byleth and Bernadetta into armor knight (+5 and +4 def respectively). Could have gotten a couple points for Dimitri and Hilda too, but I ran out of class seals.

Auxilliary battle: Hilda and Lorenz are our first recruits stuck with E brawling. That’s bad, because without brawling prowess 1, any enemy could potentially crit them. All of us have some milestones we need to reach, so I did this auxiliary battle before the paralogue instead of afterward. I made Lorenz Hilda’s adjutant to pick up HP +5 and probably more brawling exp than if he were out here fighting on his own. Most of the rest of us were in the Fighter class to finally grab Str +2. Byleth and Dimitri were left one battle shy of that class mastery. Unfortunately I forgot to get Bernadetta the Soldier or archer class so she had nothing to work on for the following map.

Dedue’s Paralogue: I’ve never done this paralogue on Maddening, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s got 8 deployment slots, so this is the first map where I didn’t deploy Annette. Instead having her gain levels as an adjutant. I noticed Felix is one battle away from getting healing focus so I left a combat art slot open. His fading blow days are finished anyway. Turn 1 Stride is essential on this map, so I gave it to Lorenz, who is in his cavalier class to that he can do that and catch up to us. Naturally, I have to dismount him if I want him to fight.

The objective of this map is to kill as many enemies as possible, and ensure a complete rout within 15 turns. So...a normal map with a time limit. They’re pretty bulky enemies though. I only have Hilda’s personal skill to boost the boys’ attack. I decided Catherine could handle the north while the rest head south. Even without healing focus, she handily dealt with all of them. These Duscurans brawlers have little damage, but do have the speed to quad my entire team. Fighting these men is inspirational, so I’m happy to hear that all the guys we defeat are actually spared to fight again. Dedue has the healing gambit. I got a laugh out of how few people are in his batallion the second time he used it. Did I really lose so much faith after that divine pulse?

God this map layout is obnoxious when you don’t have fliers or warp. I’m contemplating teaching somebody Smite in order to cross the chasm when we return here for the Oil and Water paralogue. It turned out that the 15 turn limit was more than enough to reach the boss. Had to divine pulse for the big pileup of enemies in the south forest. Too much for us to handle without a tactical retreat, but forest tiles are a great way to separate a mob of enemies from each other. In the end I managed to defeat 23 out of 33 enemies (not counting the boss). 20 gives us the maximum reward of 10000G. But the real prize is the Duscur Heavy Soldiers. Once maxed out, it grants +8 attack, +10 defense, and +7 charm with a -15 avoid penalty. The only way this can be better is if they were Duscur Brawlers.

Main Mission: Ten deployment slots this time but I found myself short on boys. Dimitri cannot be deployed, so I needed both Cyril and Ashe to balance out all the women I’m using. Catherine just got healing focus, so I’m sending her and Ashe to the right. That part of the map is usually very difficult to solo due to the poison strike archers, but Healing Focus is the best answer you can hope for, and I’ll need Ashe to pop open those chests. I was unhappy with how little Lorenz accomplished in the previous map, but now that he has D brawling and the fighter class to work on, I tried to get him into as much combat as possible to catch up.

With chapter 6, we’re officially done with enemies in level 5 classes. But I notice there were very few equipped with battalions. In chapters 4 and 5, the majority of enemies had something. Even so I got into a bad situation with Felix and Dedue getting gambitted, but I responded with my own – the second gambit of the run. You’ll also notice I equipped a +2 Charm accessory that turn to aid its hit rate. Hilda’s a good candidate to hold onto the Brawlers, because her charm is quite high despite having such low authority.

There’s a lot of ground to cover between fights, so it was difficult resisting the urge to Stride just to get to the action quicker. I needed to save one stride for the boss. On the right side of the map, Catherine had no problem working her way past the archers thanks to healing focus. I forgot her turn once, and made an unnecessary retreat from the ambush spawns in the warp room. I think those gaffes added up to her not being able to join us for the final battle in time. But she did get the march ring and that’s the most important thing.

The Death Knight is four levels higher than he was back in Chapter 4. And we are nearly ten levels higher, so if you can beat him there you can beat him here. Even without Dimitri or Catherine we made short work of him. It did take me a while to decide how to approach the fight – who should give up their turn unlocking the door, where’s a good spot to stride, who takes out the mage in front of him. But once that’s all decided, I only needed to face one potential crit during One-Two-Punch. After the battle Dimitri returns from his absence...could he be the mysterious Flame Emperor? We’ve never seen those two in the same room.


Edited by Zapp Branniglenn
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The quest to learn Death Blow continues in Chapter 7. This is the month we recruit both of the poll winners in time for the Battle of the Eagle and Lion. You can read about it in this spoiler tab and/or watch it here. I did something special for the audio in this chapter's mission, so I recommend watching that half of the video at least. 


Preparations: This month starts off with the fishing tournament. All you need is one 5 star fish, which I got in just five out of 50 attempts. But I noticed you can occasionally get normal fish too that you actually keep for the dining hall. I had the most luck with large blue fish shadows. This is the month that I finally achieved professor rank B+. Turning iron gauntlets into killer gauntlets costs 3800G in resources (6000 to improve, 5250 to repair from there. Wow, this is about 3 or 4 times the cost of other killer weapons). You need B rank in brawling to use them (unlike other killer weapons that only demand C), so I only made a few. This is where I’m expecting the bulk of my money to go to throughout the run, and now that paralogues are opening up, there’s a lot of money to be made.

I’ve got a lot more activity points now than I need, so I’m faculty training to earn the assassin certification. Female Byleth’s optimal class for this run is the Enlightened One, but the Assassin would be ideal on heavily forested maps, such as chapter 13. Our recruits this month are Ferdinand and Dorothea. With my current skill ranks I was able to recruit both without having to rely on B support auto recruitment. I could have gotten more units this month but I’m not especially in a hurry now that my roster is a respectable size. I ran out of Angelica seeds, but they have definitely served me well up to this point. Now I’ll just plant whatever seems useful.

Auxilliary battle quest: These quests are a good opportunity to nab some quick class masteries, so from now on my writeups of them are simply what I gained from them. And that is HP+5 on Ferdinand and Dorothea, and Strength+2 on Byleth and Dimitri. Forgot that Catherine still needs Str+2, whoops.

Sylvain Paralogue: Choice here between this, Lorenz, or Ingrid missions. When I first beat maddening I made a claim that the hardest map after Chapter 2 is whichever paralogue you decide to tackle first. Dedue’s side quest was fairly reasonable, so I was blindsided by the difficulty of this one. I chose this map because it has specific squads of enemies in each corner, letting me pick the best units to deal with them as we split up the party. It took many restarts working out who should be in the bottom left and how am I going to keep Level 2 Sylvain alive past Turn 2. As I made adjustments, those enemies’ AIs prioritized other directions which I think ultimately made things easier keeping everybody alive. If the Turn 1 looks a little rehearsed it’s because it took several attempts before Bernadetta would finally dodge a single arrow. This is the first map of the run with an odd number of deployment slots. So to decide whether the 11th slot is a boy or a girl, I flipped a coin. Heads is a boy, tails is a girl. It was tails. Annette took Ferdinand’s place.

The objective here is to kill the thieves or cut off their escape points by taking out the nearby bosses. It turns out Sylvain’s advice is solid. They don’t start moving until Turn 4 so long as you don’t approach them. Treat them like a flock of birds and you’ll have enough time to knock out all four bosses. In a pinch you can stand on the escape route and safely keep them from leaving. Once the escape routes have been cleaned out, the thief AI locks up, and they don’t move or attack anybody. I took that opportunity to squeeze some more experience for units that still need to catch up. The rewards for Sylvain’s paralogue are outrageously good and the game sure made me work for them.

Main Mission: I know this is one of few maps where there are stealable items. And perhaps more importantly the free experience you gain from the Steal command. Unfortunately, Byleth’s 17 speed as a level 17 thief is only sufficient to nab a vulnerary from Linhardt. Catherine’s 21 speed in that class could do better but you cannot deploy her on this map. We have Death Blow to work on anyway. Dedue has moved on to the armor knight. Armored Blow is a legit good skill for this run, and I want him to pick up Smite. Apologies to anybody rooting for speed blessed Dedue but his speed growth is going to be 5% now.

This is one of the easiest maps of the game. Permadeath is turned off, so the only Game Over scenario is the death of Byleth or Dimitri. Please pay no attention to me getting them both killed. Unlike chapter 1, the two enemy armies actually fight each other and take our sweet sweet experience. You really need to push your units just to get a slice of the action. I’m pretty proud of my manuever getting Felix over the river with Rushing Blow. Leap frogging enemies just has so many applications. Hilda getting KO’d by her replacement is a cruel irony. Dorothea also dies early to an Ignatz crit. I sent her there to try and hit the kid with glasses but the game had a dumber joke in mind with that 69 damage.

Speaking of jokes I was also hoping to have Ferdinand take out Edelgard and Lorenz take out Claude. But Edelgard decided to tear her own path through his army and I had to knock her out before she got to Claude. “I leave the rest to you” she pleads to the only remaining member of her party, Linhardt. I guess we’ll settle for Lorenz Hellman Gloucester knocking out both world leaders, and establishing himself as the true ruler of the Alliance, nay, all of Fodlan.


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Chapter 8 has me taking on a flood of reinforcements in Ingrid/Dorothea's paralogue and then protecting more green units in Ignatz/Raphael and the main mission. You can read all about it in this spoiler tab and/or watch it here.


Preparations: Chapter 8 is when the shops finally update their inventory for the first time. We can buy as many level 10 seals as we want, and there’s a ton of new battalions to try out. There is the Seiros Brawlers, our second and final attack gambit. And many more support gambits like Impregnable Wall, Recovery Roar, and Retribution. I believe Blue Lions is the only route that gets Retribution this early and on a D rank battallion. I’ll need to hurry up with these paralogues in order to pay for all this junk. Got the Brawling +2 Saint Statue bonus. While this bonus may not seem significant, in a run where 100% of us use gauntlets, it will add really help out in the long run.Sso I went for that instead of a sixth divine pulse.

This month’s new recruits are Ignatz, Raphael, and Manuela. I had the skill ranks to recruit all of them straight out. These are the last of the units I think I can find room for on my team for the run.  The rest I’m just recruiting for their paralogues. Even in pre-time skip paralogues, you only get their unique battalion if they are recruited into your party. I distributed my gifts and got the remaining students to B support so that they’ll recruit themselves to my party over time. This month is also the first Brawling Tournament at the arena. The arena is a good source of cash - and the best source of professor exp per activity point, so I definitely took advantage. Now that building support with students is no longer a priority, the brawling tournament came at the right time to give me something to do.

There are eight paralogues remaining that expire at the end of chapter 11, plus a handful of battle quests. To do them all, I'll really need to pick up the pace. We are now firmly in the mid game of Three Houses. I actually spent a couple hours workshopping Felix’s Paralogue to see if it’s doable. It’s not. But if I ever manage to beat it in this run, then I’ll reward myself by venting about how terrible it was.

Ingrid/Dorothea Paralogue: 9 deployment slots, and the coin flip chose a boy. Throughout the run I’ve given Ingrid some levels as an adjutant so that she could be a pegasus knight with reposition. This map has a lot of wide open lava for her to hang out on. It’s liberating not having to keep a 4 Mov unit safe from all these enemies. This map is a mad house. You’ve got infinite spawning thieves with pass, lava pits that bar your progress, and other reinforcements that surprised me. You’ll notice a lot of us are armor knights, even those of us that haven’t finished grabbing Death Blow (only Dedue and Felix have). I’m beginning to re-learn that the toughest maps of Three houses are less about killing enemies and more about surviving the enemy phase. Against these thieves that possess more AS than Atk, 4 points of defense can’t be overstated. And neither can the Armored Blow skill in keeping your health up. A lot of my units became armor knights to nab some free defense in the early game, but I think it’ll be worthwhile to continue to fortress knight for 17 defense. And I’ve never seen these unique one handed punching animations. I like them!

We have a lot of new battalions to level up, and you’ll see me using Impregnable Wall to safely lure out enemies, as well as the obscure Recovery Roar to cure poison. This is one of few maps that even have enemies inflicting poison as a status rather than possessing the poison strike skill but don’t worry there’s plenty of archers too. The first of us to get poisoned was Dedue...the guy holding Recovery Roar. And gambits never target the user. Game design. Ended up using all my divine pulses. In my defense, some thieves with Pass are holding axes, so my brain didn’t register them as Thieves, but instead as generic axe fighters.

Toward the end I saw an opportunity to pin an archer to the wall with Hilda and Dorothea. I figured it’s not “infinite” grinding if it doesn’t hold up our progress elsewhere in the map. But with no pulses left we ran into a serious problem. Sure the archer couldn’t attack the girls at 1 range, but he did have a gambit. Two charges of it. I hit him with Hilda’s gambit, to remove his batallion, but that only suffices for one turn. At the same time I triggered some unexpected reinforcements to the southwest. I was halfway hoping he’d hit us and I could start the map over with less mistakes but God had other plans. Both gambits missed Dorothea, and the rest of the fighting went over smoothly. Never mind that, in retrospect, the best answer was to swap Dorothea’s place with Ingrid, who has less charm but could surely survive one gambit.

Raphael/Ignatz Paralogue: 11 deployment slots, and a boy was chosen for the 11th. I considered leaving this map until I get some more essential skills on Ignatz and Raphael, but Raphael is already strong out of the gate, and Ignatz is easy to keep out of danger. My only regret is that I did get Ignatz Fading Blow in time for this battle but I neglected to equip it. Keeping the green units alive ended up being very consistent, but my practice run really went to hell when I sent the left side east to start grabbing the enemy’s attention. Ultimately I decided I want those units to continue south to fight the monster and go up the middle bridge. Taking our time and pulling as few enemies as possible left us with firmly manageable turns. As far as I can tell the middle enemies didn’t aggro until I lured that North monster. Got to be mindful of the monster’s health. At 25% they get +30 avoid and +50 crit.

I made more use out of Impregnable Wall than I ever have in this game. It’s a difficult gambit to use well because you forfeit your offense to buy another turn of survival, and the user isn’t also affected. So any enemies in range generally dog pile onto the user and kill them instead. I really don’t know why the wolf’s AI failed to acknowledge the green unit he could still kill on Turn 3, but that alone allowed me to keep them all alive for the biggest monetary reward of 10000G. There was also a clutch usage of Recovery Roar as deadly mages closed in. Unlike the last map, this one actually saved our lives by letting us move again after the monster’s AoE attack and the deadly mages closing in.

Main Mission: Doubled up on Stride batallions in order to save all 6 villagers. I brought Ingrid to open the chests. The far away one is basically impossible to reach without a flier, and I knew that anybody going for the closer chest will spend the entire map in that corner with no enemies to fight. So I might as well have someone that’s getting the chests quicker and also providing support with reposition.

This map was shorter and easier than I remember. Crazed villagers are even less of a threat with so many of us running around as armor knights. Whenever they spawned in it was just more experience for me. The only real threat is the Death Knight and his crew. This is the first battle where you have really no choice but to get through him in order to finish the map. Catherine’s nimble combo negated his crit chance and killed him with a lucky crit all in one go. Solon's crew was even less threatening. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 9 sees us taking on the Sothis, Manuela, and Lorenz paralogues for some much needed items and class masteries. You can read all about it in this spoiler tab and/or watch it here.


Preparations: Another Fistfuls of Fish event. With the bait I’ve saved up since the last one, I shot from the end of Professor Rank B+ all the way to the maximum of A+ with bait to spare. That’s 3 adjutant slots and 3 battles. Even more impressive is all the money gained from it. About 30000G. If you’ve been following this playthrough then you can guess where that money is going. Everyone that can currently wield killer knuckles has their own set. It took me two hours to get all that fishing done, and during it I listened to Noah Caldwell Gervais’ latest video on Souls games.

Felix is the first of the boys to get the grappler certification. And Dorothea is a dancer, so she finally has a way to gain levels. In my experience, dancing exp scales based on the level of your target, so she should shoot up fairly quickly – and as a result provide a lot of experience to her adjutant. Adjutants do not gain skill or class exp so there’s some limitations here. I know in the last update I was enthusiastic about getting units into Fortress Knight, but I’m only seeing now it asks for B armor instead of C. So it’s a much higher investment than I previously thought – especially for the girls who generally only want D+ in Axes. Hilda for sure is becoming a fortress knight, and I hope to get Byleth and Felix there as well for some free defense. 

Sothis Paralogue: This map doesn’t reward you with gold or awesome battalions, but I figure the knowledge gem is more valuable than another B rank batallion we can’t yet equip. I wanted to do it last chapter, but the strategy I had in mind relied on Byleth attaining B authority. Not just for a tankier batallion, but to equip Defensive Tactics. Also in this chapter we finally have a dancer, so that really expands what we can get done in restrictive terrain. Leaving Byleth stranded comes at the cost of more bird reinforcements, but all I saw was more experience. You might be wondering what Lorenz is doing as Byleth's Adjutant. He’s working on Dark Mage to pick up Poison Strike. I taught him the Heal spell so that he can equip that and effectively do nothing while stuck as an attack adjutant. Mage classes can’t equip gauntlets unfortunately. With most of our army already in the south, we very well could have fought the boss and ended the map prematurely. But instead I left Dedue to distract him as I cleaned up the monsters. The bosses’ AoE attack inflicts poison, and once again Dedue was the one holding Recovery Roar. Womp womp.

100% of the enemies here are monsters. But since these ones have half broken armor naturally, it doesn’t pose any unique issue for us gauntlet users. Fading Blow is a safe way of opening them up to two attackers. The wolves hit harder and have Pass, so I found them more threatening. Retribution lets us retaliate against their ranged attacks. Hilda and Ferdinand’s Seal Speed helps a bunch on this map, and their crest potentially lets them apply it for free. I equipped both our attacking gambits to nab some extra monster ore. There is a use for Mythril and Wootz Steel in this run but it sounds pretty gimmicky. And only relevant in the late game. We'll have to wait and see how I make use of it.

Manuela Paralogue: 7 units, and a girl was chosen for the last slot. This is a notorious map for a lot of players. Manuela has HP+5 and D rank in brawling, but nothing else special. There’s a few more things I could have picked up for Manuela’s survive-ability but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing I can do to get her to survive the pegasus knights. You need to have your guys ready to dispatch them no later than Turn 5. Only one enemy is aggroed to her from the first turn, so I got her tough enough to deal with him, while the rest of my effort is getting our units to fight and stride their way over to her. When the thieves begin to escape, their escape point is on the right. So heading up the right path is optimal no matter how you look at it. 

Keeping Hanneman alive is a difficult wrinkle as well. I had no choice but to leave Byleth behind to work on our pursuers. But when that started to go south I sent Bernadetta as well who miraculously dodged two 83s (93.7% in True Hit). That sure saved me a divine pulse or two. I find it pretty funny that Maddening Swordmasters have Quick Riposte, when their speed stat is already sky high. For the record, Dedue’s One Two Punch does nullify that skill, but Dedue, Felix, and Catherine have few classes to work on at the moment. I decided to let the B Team units catch up a bit.

We easily arrived at the end in time to knock out the second thief. But I decided to get some use out of Hanneman by having him sit on the escape point as Manuela picks up some extra experience. If you disapprove of this style of grinding, don’t worry, the game agrees with you. Dimitri accidentally proced his crest on the boss, killing him and ending the map a turn earlier than I intended. I missed out on the rapier, which would be a reset-worthy mistake on any normal run. The rapier is one of the best weapons in the game, but for us its only value is being sold for pennies so I didn’t worry about it.

Lorenz Paralogue: Another mission I attempted back in chapter 7, but I was scared off by the heavy enemy density. The prevalence of mages prevented me from sending my tankiest guys out as a decoy. Furthermore, being surrounded is tough when you don’t have massive gambits to lock everybody down. We got nailed by one such gambit on the first enemy phase (having Raphael in front instead of Byleth may have been a bad call). We also had an altercation with a pegasus knight cantoing out of reach behind a wall, that chewed two of my divine pulses attempting to answer. But with some more levels and abilities in our belt, we handily matched the enemy strength. The map only feels like a Defense chapter in the first couple of turns before we spread out in search of delicious exp.

The right thief is hard to reach, but he’s only carrying an advanced seal so it’s not critical. The left thief is easier since he has only one path to the exit – straight through our base. The devil sword...might be useful on Bernadetta. If she’s ever luring an archer at maximum range she can hold it in order to guarantee taking 10 damage and activate her personal skill. Obviously swinging the sword is against the rules. The real prize is the Thyrsus relic. This will be Lorenz’ accessory of choice. At just 1 Wt he gets Pavise and Aegis. That makes an already bulky unit much tankier.

Main Mission: What is normally one of the easiest maps of the game has some extra bite in this playthrough. Getting the armor break on these guys is much tougher than the wolves and birds of the Sothis paralogue. I think they only have umbral steel to drop so I only needed to focus on killing them. Seal Speed really shows its worth here in allowing just about any of us to secure the Quad strike (only 13 AS is necessary after they are debuffed), however, their seal strength skill can cut our damage by as much as 24. Even with quadding, I was surprised at how little damage we could deal. These are bulky boys, and I really relied on our two gambits to open them up quicker. It also helps that they have 0 Charm and 0 Luck to stop us from chaining multiple crits.

Saving all the green units is absolutely crucial when the reward at stake is a Str +2 stat booster. There’s a very out of the way chest in the bottom right with a healing staff, but all we can do with that is sell it, so I ignored it. Jeralt really concerned me. If he dies, it causes a game over, and he can only survive three rounds of combat on Maddening. We can’t heal him, and nobody has reposition, warp, or rescue to get him off the enemies. I decided to give Dedue Impregnable Wall and just have him follow whichever direction Jeralt goes in case there’s an emergency. Speaking of, Dedue and Catherine are the first to show off the Grappler and Assassin. Expect to see much more of these two classes in the late game. Dimitri attempted to solo one of the monsters but I failed to notice he had renewal as his Barrier skill. Oh well, Dimitri got armored blow and that’s all I cared about for him, now he is also ready to move on to grappler.



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A shame I hadn't seen this playthrough until just now! It sounds like a lot of fun. My only gripe being that it's not entitled "Fisting Across Fódlan".

On 7/19/2022 at 11:39 PM, Zapp Branniglenn said:

Adjutants do not gain skill or class exp so there’s some limitations here.

Wait, really? I could've sworn I adjutanted units with a Knowledge Gem attached to get them to class mastery faster.

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 Chapter 10 sees us blitzing through the tricky protection maps of Felix and Catherine's paralogues before exacting some good old fashioned revenge on the clown peoples of Fodlan. You can read about it in this spoiler tab and/or watch it here.


Preparations: With our professor rank maxed out, no brawling tournament, and B rank support on all recruitable students, there is very little to be gained from Exploring the monastery from here on. I’m just faculty training in sword/bow (assassin), and Axe/Armor (Fortress Knight). But most of the faculty is gone during this month, so the best I can do on an Explore is one Bow, one Axe, and One brawling. So instead I cleaned out those auxilliary battle quests this month. Up to this point I have done exactly three auxilliary battles. The forced one in chapter 2, the battle quest to unlock the bonus merchants of chapter 5, and a regular one in chapter 6. I hope the grinding doesn’t make the game lose its challenge, but Three Houses’ calendar system has a “use it or lose it” policy regarding how you spend your time, so grinding it is. I also did some fishing on the first and third weeks. The Golden Fish and Fish of Mystery events are the only ones I care about from here on. My highest quality bait is being saved for the latter, while every other type of bait is hunting for goldfish to sell.

Auxilliary battle quest (level 10): Picked up Armored Blow on Byleth and Hilda, HP +5 on Raphael, no level ups.

Felix Paralogue: I can’t believe I’m even writing about this one, as I wasn’t sure this map was doable without warp/fliers on Maddening. If you can kill the boss, the map ends, but simply walking over to him and not getting caught fighting enemies at his doorstep is tricky. The real issue is the green units. If even one villager dies, you miss out on Felix’s personal relic (that’s harsh, dad). The green unit soldiers can tough it out just fine, but these villagers have a need to escape to the west rather than northeast where you start out. They will run right into the arms of infinite spawning enemies with Pass. But no green unit is worse off than Rodrigue. If Rodrigue dies, it’s game over. And unlike other green units, his stats are not increased at all on Maddening. So he begins the map surrounded by enemies who will all kill him if you don’t stride your guys over to deal with it on the first turn. But in doing so, you activate his roaming AI and he, too, will throw himself into the infinite spawning reinforcements to the south. The reinforcements can be halted by taking out the corresponding commanders, but taking them out along with every other enemy that threatens the green units would require an army of 20 capable units. I eventually decided the only way we’re ending this map is by carefully splitting our focus between the green units and the boss.

I doubled up on Stride just to get everybody moving. Our starting positions are so spread out that it takes two stride users just to get six units into the fray on turn 1. I reclassed Ferdinand to a cavalier so that he can use Impregnable Wall on the villagers I thought were the most in danger. Dimitri and Catherine could make it all the way to the door of the boss’ room, but I knew from previous attempts what happens when you get that close. Each enemy standing there serves as a potential roadblock in these tight alleyways, so it’s best not to lure out more than we can handle. Rushing Blow won’t work if there’s another enemy right behind them.

Turn 2 is the most important. I want to Stride again, but my stride users are sitting back at the start, unable to reach them. So, in my most brilliant move yet, I Strided the Stride user, allowing me to secure even more of the map, and most importantly Dorothea getting Dimitri in the boss’s face before any enemies can wall us off. The boss has 91 total avoid, so we missed both swings that could have ended the map right there. Once you enter the boss’ room, four or five turns worth of reinforcements spawn in the south. But that’s okay since I’m planning to keep everyone alive until at least turn 3. Not even Rodrigues suicidal stage dive into the enemy lines can thwart my unit placement. Between Dimitri, Catherine, and our dancer, The boss kill was RNG-proof, so the rest of us sought out enemies to fight for exp.

Red auxilliary battle (level 24 enemies): No classes mastered. I was not expecting the enemies to be such a high level. We also got 9000G, and a rusted lance that I could forge into Gradivus. I’m Siriusly not interested. Level ups are:

Hilda +HP, str, Cha. | Lorenz +HP, str, Res, Cha. | Dimitri + Dex, Spd, Def, Cha. | Raphael + HP, Str, Lck, Def, Cha. | Dorothea + Str Dex. Byleth + HP, str, mag, luck, def, cha. | Manuela + HP, str, mag, dex, spd, lck, def, res. | Bernadetta, + Res, Cha. | Dedue + HP, str, Dex, def.

Catherine Paralogue: I had a very interesting and dynamic run of this map that I wish I had won just to show off. I missed so many crucial 85s, used all my divine pulses, cooked up some interesting backup strategies, Felix and Lorenz both surviving on their personal relics alone, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Even the finished run of this map ran into a litany of mistakes, this is one tricky chapter. It’s not enough to keep Rhea alive, she must never enter combat if you want the best reward. In my failed attempt an armor knight got within two spaces of her, which she then attacked on her turn. I was prepared to give up the boots until I ran out of divine pulses shortly after.

Like any fog of war map, you can't hit what you can't see. So I decided the best thing is to stride our A tier units out there and crack some heads before we’re hit with too many reinforcements. But without a good idea of where they were hiding, I figured it would be too dangerous to have a dancer out there, so Dorothea is just finishing out her Fighter class by spamming a support gambit. The pegasus knights are the biggest concern, both because of their stats and how far they can get past you with canto. It was crucial to engage them far away from Rhea, and our new grappler/assassin classes helped us do that. There are 0 archers on this map and thank god for that. Enemies with 3 range make fog of war maps even more obnoxious since our vision range is just 2. I wish this was GBA fire emblem where thief units could see further.

Battle quest (level 16): Armor knight mastered on Ferdinand, Ignatz. Fighter on Hilda.

Battle quest: (level 12😞 Armor knight mastered on Bernadetta. This is great. Less of us waddling around as armors with 4 Mov.

Main Mission: By now I’m quite tired of these heavily forrested maps. I wanted more of my crew in Assassin/Grappler, but I’m just not hitting these skill exp benchmarks. Some of us are in thief/brawler as a compromise. Not a lot of enemies in this chapter, but the dark mages and monsters all apply Seal Strength, which is annoying. The monsters are the same we dealt with in Chapter 9’s mission, so it’s all about applying seal speed and stacking on the crit. I found out at the end of the map I didn’t equip Seal Speed on Ferdinand which is frustrating but Hilda still had hers. I also neglected to put Model Leader back on Byleth. She had HP+5 on instead - they look the same! Lorenz is getting some use out of his new poison strike. Although I’m finding out now the damage of poison strike is, like any other source of damage, cut in half if you’re targeting monster armor (even if said attack breaks that armor, after-battle damage from poison strike does not have any regard for that). They thought of every way to make this ability bad for the player yet terrifying when the enemies have it.

I really played fast and loose in this map. If the monster AI was smarter about its AoE targeting, Dedue could easily have died. The brain dead strategy of “just throw our two tankiest dudes to the left and see what happens” really worked out in the end. Furthermore, Ferdinand almost bought the farm from some armor knights due to some failed dodges. I left one monster alive during the first portion of this mission, thinking that all enemies despawn if you defeat Kronya and move on to the second phase of the map. That is very much wrong, but we began that turn already surrounding the monster and with our final two gambit charges to spend so it didn’t pose any issue. My biggest concern was not Byleth’s new hair color, but instead getting level 20 on the few units that still needed it. Getting revenge against your father’s killer is thirsty work, so I chugged a pure water for Solon, not knowing or caring if that changes our odds of surviving a crit from him (it did not). I encountered a bizarre graphical glitch though. Cyril was holding a sword as I killed him. Cyril’s inventory is empty, and you can see he didn’t earn sword experience either. Where did this sword come from? I think my game may be haunted.


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

Wait, really? I could've sworn I adjutanted units with a Knowledge Gem attached to get them to class mastery faster.

When attached to a dancer using the Dance command. In that scenario they gain 50% of the combat exp that the dancer is earning, but no skill or class exp. If you are attached to a unit that gets attacked, you will earn class exp. And if said unit attacks back (they do not need to hit, they just need to swing), the adjutant will earn skill exp as well for their equipped weapon. The type of adjutant you are (attack, guard, heal) does not impact these variables. In that post I was just lamenting the fact that attaching an adjutant to a dancer isn't the most efficient way to grind them up. But it's still a great way to get some levels on units that are struggling to keep up on levels, or your level 1 benched units. For instance, I currently have Ingrid and Annette as level 10 pegasus knights, allowing them to keep themselves out of danger for their own paralogues and chapter 13 where they are forced into my party. That's a good long term optimization for many playthroughs.

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

A shame I hadn't seen this playthrough until just now! It sounds like a lot of fun. My only gripe being that it's not entitled "Fisting Across Fódlan".

Great to have you here. While I do enjoy some alliteration, I'm trying to avoid "fisting" as a pun. It may give people...the wrong idea about this playthrough. For what it's worth, a friend of mine laughed out loud when I told him the name. Such a simple yet surgical change from Three Houses

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3 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

Great to have you here. While I do enjoy some alliteration, I'm trying to avoid "fisting" as a pun. It may give people...the wrong idea about this playthrough. For what it's worth, a friend of mine laughed out loud when I told him the name. Such a simple yet surgical change from Three Houses

Well it didn't make sense to me, until I looked it up and found out that a "round house" is a punch. I had only ever heard of the "roundhouse kick". You know, the kind Chuck Norris used to send the shuttles into space?

3 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

When attached to a dancer using the Dance command. In that scenario they gain 50% of the combat exp that the dancer is earning, but no skill or class exp.

Interesting, and good to know. I don't think I've ever had a unit "adjutant" for my Dancer.

3 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

And unlike other green units, his stats are not increased at all on Maddening.

Weird. They clearly power-crept Jeralt to keep up, so why doesn't Rodrigue get the same treatment? And to start him off with a heavy Aura, of all things...

3 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

So, in my most brilliant move yet, I Strided the Stride user,

"It's a good thing I always carry two Stridebots."

3 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

We also got 9000G, and a rusted lance that I could forge into Gradivus. I’m Siriusly not interested.

"I am Sirius, and don't call me Camus."

It's a shame the Mythril economy is so effed in this game. Gradivus is like the one good 1-2 range lance. Not that it's of any use to your army,though.

3 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

It’s not enough to keep Rhea alive, she must never enter combat if you want the best reward.

Huh, never knew this one. I always hated how dense the fog was in this map. Although, it did nicely disguise how it was a reuse of the chapter 2 map where you fight all those Soldiers.

3 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

Cyril’s inventory is empty, and you can see he didn’t earn sword experience either. Where did this sword come from? I think my game may be haunted.

Clearly, Cyril took a dive into Echoes rules. As a common Villager, he keeps a sword on him at all times.

You did this one without fliers, right? That tends to be a paim for this map and the next one. Both of which place the (victory condition) boss on an elevated platform, easily reached by your fliers. Otherwise you have to take the long way around... ugh.

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

Weird. They clearly power-crept Jeralt to keep up, so why doesn't Rodrigue get the same treatment? And to start him off with a heavy Aura, of all things...

I had to look up whether Jeralt is actually stronger on maddening. He is, just not so tough that you could afford to leave him alone on chapter 9. Yeah I think Rodrigue may be the only green unit with this issue. They must not have playtested that map for Maddening to see the problem.


It's a shame the Mythril economy is so effed in this game. Gradivus is like the one good 1-2 range lance. Not that it's of any use to your army,though.

Yeah the only monster ore I can potentially use in this playthrough is Wootz Steel. If I can get TWENTY of it, I can forge one set (yes, thirty whole uses) of Dragon Claws. Which are not effective against all monsters, just the ones classified as Dragons. The lizard-looking ones are dragons. Is final boss Edelgard a dragon? I think I'd only make these things just to be able to say I am the only player who ever did, since nobody can disprove it. 


You did this one without fliers, right? That tends to be a paim for this map and the next one. Both of which place the (victory condition) boss on an elevated platform, easily reached by your fliers. Otherwise you have to take the long way around... ugh.

Hey with the kicks we throw, I can confirm our legs work. We don't mind the extra hike. I haven't been using fliers, no, but I'm starting to think I've been neglecting them too much. The issue with fliers is that you have to dismount in order to fight, so you can't take advantage of the extra movement on most turns. But even if it's just for a turn or two, being a flier can really ace these objectives, and I really miss the freedom of having a unit with canto using reposition. I'm thinking Catherine especially would appreciate Darting Blow as our fastest unit. Even if it doesn't change who doubles who, that's 6 extra Avoid. I think it certainly competes with HP +5, Str +2, or Brawl Crit +10 in her late game loadout. I've also been planning to nab Seal defense for Hilda for some more debuffing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Chapter 11 includes a battle with pirates, a relaxing day at the beach, and suddenly It's War. You can read about it here, and/or watch it here. Also I let that cutscene play out because it shows Dimitri heroically tossing aside that crass pointed stick and relying on his fists to do battle. The way he snapped that dude's neck? I taught him that. I'm so proud!


Preparations: Okay, despite having several students sitting at B support with Byleth, it’s been several months since any of them auto-joined our class. I only want them for their paralogues, but by now I’m resorting to save scumming just to ensure they join up before it’s too late. Byleth gets the Enlightened One class in this chapter, and it’s her optimal class. It’s the only one she has access to that has a +2 skill exp bonus to punching when attacking, as well as a +3 to authority to let her reach A faster. Assassin would be ideal for heavily forested maps, but there are only a few more of those left in the game, counting paralogues. In any case she got the assassin class already for when that day comes.

Alois/Shamir Paralogue: This Paralogue has been available for a long time. But I wanted to wait for Alois to be recruitable so that I can put some gauntlets in his inventory. Alois is really good. His stats are on par with my units and he’s packing both One Two Punch and Healing Focus from the get go. As well as the deadly combination of rally luck and strength. Definitely makes up for his lack of class masteries. I also waited to recruit Shamir so that she’d be at her highest level for this map. Though I must say I’m not impressed with her stats by comparison. Waiting this long made this usually tricky map into kind of a cakewalk. It’s another one that’s meant to overwhelm you with infinite spawning thieves, assassins, and wyverns, but the enemies are level 21-22, which we generally match. If we were doing this map at chapter 7, with Alois being forced deployed yet unable to fight, we wouldn't be able to breeze through it, especially with objective of keeping enemies out of town.

Keeping units from walking through the two entrances to town is easy. The big problem is of course the wyvern riders who will fly straight over the walls facing the ocean. I bet on the possibility that if I can get my units into their range, I can lure them consistently away from the town. That actually worked with the first two, but the other fliers went straight for the town instead. Even if I had left units behind to fight them in the town, it wouldn’t amount to anything since them ending their turn counts as 1 turn lost for the objective before you have a chance to respond. Those fliers are getting over those walls no matter what you do. I don’t think the level designers thought this objective through. For the best reward, you need them in the town for 3 or less turns, and if they're there for 5 it's a game over. A pretty generous time limit for how fast I can knock out the enemies, so I just kept pushing toward the boss. We were held up by enemies clogging up the 1 space wide planks between ships, so it was Dedue who ended up securing the kill from the south.

Flayn Paralogue: Unlike Alois, it is not possible for Seteth to fight in this chapter since he isn’t recruited until Chapter 12. And for some reason he does not possess Rally Defense, so he can’t contribute that way either. On that note, I’m kicking myself for not raising Flayn’s authority up to D to learn Rally Luck. It’d give her something to do. Never underestimate rally luck, that’s +4 crit on each swing. This is one of very few maps of Three Houses where the majority of enemies attack with magic, so our units that possess a Res stat like Manuela and Lorenz can really shine here. Even if they didn't, simply equipping units with Pure Water could cut down on damage taken. I'm noticing now that although Maddening mages are very powerful early on, like in chapter 4, their weapons never upgrade from the standard Fire and Miasma spells. Yes other classes are already using Silver weapons against us. So the result is that mages simply fall off in damage as you approach the midgame.

I held off on this map because none of the rewards are really relevant to this playthrough. Cichol Wyverns are of course a great battalion, but it’s an A rank, and Byleth is only just now hitting B+. This paralogue is real easy. The individual enemies may be the highest level we've seen, but you can go at your own pace every step of the way. There’s no green units to protect, no optional objective to worry about, no infinite spawning reinforcements. Feels like I’m playing Fire Emblem Awakening. A playground to spread your units out and just kill things. Several bishops on heal tiles too for some infinite grinding, but we’re not into that. Raphael and Hilda really took their time on the left and needed some help dealing with the final island. I gave all the boss kills and experience gem to Dedue because I’m hoping to get him to level 26 in time for the time skip. That way he’ll be level 30 when he rejoins us. Lorenz would appreciate similar attention. The bosses all have Miracle, but the last one failed to proc it because he lacked faith.

Red Auxilliary battle (plus two normal ones): Got Death Blow for Manuela, Plus 5 wootz steel and a rusted bow that can be forged into Parthia. I don’t owe Jorge any favors, so I’ll pass on that. Level ups are: Hilda HP, str, dex, luck, def, cha. Dedue HP, str, lck, def. Dorothea lck, def. Lorenz HP str, spd, def, res, char. Ignatz HP, str, spd, lck, res, cha. Manuela HP spd, cha.

Regular auxilliary battles: Seeing that we’re just a couple weeks away from the time skip, a lot of my units feel behind on some pretty key benchmarks. Most notably Lorenz, who will be disappearing alongside Dedue. So I got his brawling rank to B and his authority to C. Some other milestones include healing focus on Bernadetta, armored blow on Manuela, and death blow on Ignatz. Hilda is also working on her flying ranks by sitting as a pegasus adjutant. Plus another ~15000 or so gold. Level ups are Alois +Hp, Str, Spd, Cha. Manuela HP, Mag, Spd, Lck, def. Dimitri Str, Spd, Lck, Def, Cha.

Main Mission: This mission really stresses me out at the onset, because I expect the thieves to take one crest stone at the far end of the map, and then leave for the exit long before I can reach them. The game isn't that mean. The thieves actually fill up on three stones before they enter Retreat mode AI. To take advantage of this I leave a couple of thieves to do their thing near the start, and I just pick them off later once I’ve secured most of the map. There’s some nasty enemy placements at the end, but there is so much open space to retreat that it's never a problem luring them out and mobbing them. 

I apologize for the long delay on this update. I guess you could say I took a Xeno-break. Now instead of a 60 hour RPG I can enjoy 60 more hours of monastery busywork. The next update will be chapter 12 and 13, since they are sequential maps.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi everyone, update's not quite ready yet, but I decided to jot down the stats of my roster. This is all my units reclassed as Commoners and disregarding Strength +2/HP+5. so they have no stat boosts from their class. Y'know, I never really spelled out what my roster even IS. You'd have to have been following along with the footage to get the idea. So let's go over it:


The Boys 

Dimitri: Level 25

HP 45, Str 31, Mag 8, Dex 19, Spd 21, Lck 13, Def 21, Res 13, Cha 29

Brawling A, Authority B, Axe C+

I feel like Dimitri is just blessed in every stat. He got some luck and defense from class changes but everything else is all natural.

Dedue: Level 26

HP 53, Str 24, Mag 8, Dex, Spd 16, Lck 14, Def 22, Res 7, Cha 15

Brawling A+, Authority B, Axe B

Here he is. Speed blessed Dedue. He didn’t gain a single point for free via his brawler/grappler certifications. But that seems to have come at the cost of many stats that matter more.

Felix: Level 24

HP 45, Str 29, Mag 9, Dex 17, Spd 24, Lck 14, Def 16, Res 7, Cha 16

Brawling B+, Authority C+, Axe C+

Lorenz: Level 25

HP 47, Str 24, Mag 15, Dex 17, Spd 15, Lck 12, Def 17, Res 19, Cha 15

Brawling B, Authority C+, Axe C

Ferdinand: Level 23

HP 43, Str 20, Mag 10, Dex 18, Spd 19, Lck 16, Def 17, Res 7, Cha 15

Brawling B+, Authority C+, Axe C+

Raphael: Level 24

Hp 52, Str 27, Mag 9, Dex 14, Spd 15, Lck 15, Def 20, Res 7, Cha 10

Brawling A, Authority C, Axe C+

Alois: Level 23

HP 48, Str 26, Mag 8, Dex 12, Spd 16, Lck 11, Def 17, Res 8, Cha 18

Brawling B+, Authority C+, Axe A

Ignatz: Level 22

HP 37, Str 18, Mag 9, Dex 18, Spd 19, Lck 19, Def 14, Res 16, Cha 9


The Gorls

Byleth: Level 25

HP 43, Str 26, Mag 19, Dex 18, Spd 18, Lck 18, Def 17, Res 11, Cha 42

Brawling A, Authority B+

This Byleth only leveled Defense five times, getting the other six from armor/fortress knight. She also has the highest magic on my team for trying out Aura Knuckles. Maybe I’ll Advanced Training to D+ Reason for Fiendish Blow late game?

Catherine: Level 23

HP 46, Str 24, Mag 11, De 18, 25, Lck 17, Def 16, Res 9, Cha 9

Brawling B+, Authority C+

Bernadetta: Level 24

HP 38, Str 17, Mag 10, Dex 19, Spd 19, lck 10, Def 14, Res 8, Cha 21

Brawling B, Authority C

Hilda: Level 23

HP 48, Str 23, Mag 9, Dex 14, Spd 16, Lck 16, Def 19, Res 8, Cha 23

Dorothea: Level 23

HP 34, Str 14, Mag 20, Dex 14, spd 14, Lck 13, Def 12, Res 18, Cha 24

Brawling C+, Authority D, Reason B+

Manuela: Level 22

HP 41, Str 17, Mag 18, Dex 14, Spd 21, Lck 16, Def 14, Res 14, Cha 20

Brawling C+, Authority C

Why am I raising 7 boys when there's no map where we can field all of them? It's because of the time skip. Dedue and Lorenz will be gone until the late game, so I decided to spec out Ignatz and Alois as their replacements.

It's also worth mention that I haven't used a single stat booster. Oh I've been farming them from the greenhouse, I just feel like I haven't hit a roadblock with some units can't perform without it. Perhaps...until now as I'm troubleshooting chapter 13. I'm not particularly interested in banning stat boosters - I've already beaten Maddening without them. 'Whatever I decide to do, here's a screenshot of what I've carrying as of chapter 12: 5 HP, 15 Str, 3 Mag, 3 Dex, 5 Spd, 5 def, 3 Res, 3 Charm, and 1 Mov

Edited by Zapp Branniglenn
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Chapters 12 and 13. Here it is, the update you've all been waiting for. The one where we punch a teenage girl so hard it opens a singularity into the future. Can we survive the worst map in Fire Emblem? You can read about it here and/or watch the footage here.


Chapter 12 Preparations: I finally got Byleth’s ranks high enough to certify as a Fortress Knight. With only three chances total to pass the exam, I was getting worried if she’d make it. By the end of this month, all of us except Lorenz were in some Advanced class.

Red Auxilliary battle + 2 regular ones: Finished off Death Blow on Alois, but this grind was mostly dedicated to Lorenz and trying to master Wyvern Rider on Hilda. By having Lorenz alone with a knowledge gem and a forest tile, he got a lot, but still not enough for Lorenz to have B+ punching rank. Level ups are Ferdinand HP, Str, Dex, spd. Lorenz HP, Res, Cha. Bernadetta Mag, Dex, spd, def, cha. Hilda HP, Spd, Lck, Cha. Alois Str, spd.

Main Mission: This is a big map with a lot of ground to cover, but we’ve got an army of green units to speed things along and serve as bait for the deadly fliers. Ballistae also exist to aid in our defense, but they are of course banned for this playthrough. Despite me sending half my army to the right, we still had trouble taming the giant bird enemies. Unlike the birds of previous maps, these ones have full armor that nullifies crit chance. Blink and you’ll miss it, but the Death Knight was here too. 

I class changed Catherine into a Thief just to nab the prayer ring off Hubert (by the way, why does HE have THAT?). These HP restore rings have been pretty good up to this point so I’ll take whatever the game will give me. And don’t worry, I paid for the ring by putting a shield in his inventory (I actually had no idea you could GIVE accessories to enemies. Now I want somebody to defeat an enemy by weighing them down with a shield) Bernadetta confronted Hubert who had some questionable words for her about her family. With him out of the way, it was time to end the map before we got bogged down by more monster battles. I had intended to give the boss kill to Dimitri, but fate had other plans. The green unit Swordmaster had knocked Edelgard down to one hit point (green units are not allowed to kill Boss type characters, it must be the player). And Dorothea was right there. It’s always a risk, changing the script on opening night. But if anyone can do it, it ought to be the star of the show. She killed it out there. A stunning finale. The shock sent me into a five year coma.

Chapter 13 preparations: Just wanted to make note of some choices I made back in chapter 12 that are really meant for this map. After all, we can’t adjust anything in our loadout in between these two maps. For Byleth I gave her Gloucester Knights and aura knuckles for our first showcase of a magic attacking set. Ch13’s loaded with extremely evasive enemies who can freely attack from forest tiles. But using a magic weapon ignores terrain completely. Byleth is also in the Fortress Knight class and borrowing Felix’s Aegis shield in order to max out on physical bulk. Only the assassins and snipers could harm her. I could have tried putting her in Assassin and going for a dodge tank set instead, but with just 23 speed, she would still handily be doubled by every sword user and brawler on the map, and it would just make the run more RNG dependent. Plus by going with Gautier Knights for the +20 avoid, we would give up the +6 mag attack of her current batallion that brings her magic attacks in line with her physical ones. I’m very pleased that, even though Byleth is still packing Str +2 and Death Blow, Aura Knuckles can keep up with standard gauntlets even on player phase. Maybe I should get her Fiendish Blow in the future. The biggest problem with assassin though is Stealth. Even with the Aegis Shield, Dimitri would spend even more turns healing up and it'd just slow us down further.

For Dimitri, I don’t particularly like his new class or batallion for this map, but I decided to put on Model Leader to ensure he maxes out the batallion’s level ASAP. He also has the knowledge gem to squeeze even more authority out of the class (+9 points per combat, but still far away from reaching A rank). Byleth can also pass him the Aegis shield if he’s taking too much damage. The enemy will likely prioritize him on account of having the least defense at around the mid 20s. Annette and Ingrid are in the pegasus knight class. Ingrid has reposition, and I intended to get it for Annette too, but I totally spaced back in chapter 12. Oh well, she can support with Rallies. Ashe has a set of training gauntlets, healing items, and a steel shield for Gilbert so he can contribute. If just one archer goes after him, he’ll take 26 damage a turn, so I didn’t skimp on the healing items.

Main Mission: Full disclosure, I did replay chapter 12 just to make some adjustments for this map (the footage and writeup for chapter 12 correlates to that second playthrough, btw). The major changes are me giving Byleth the +1 mov stat booster, and putting the march ring in Dimitri’s inventory. This allows both of them to slip into the forest on Turn 1, gaining protection from the terrain and pulling the attention of as many enemies as possible. Dimitri got a little eager and nearly broke 200 damage on this first guy. In the previous attempt, I had no issues keeping Byleth and Dimitri alive at the starting location as enemies piled in single file, but our students would just end up getting picked off before I could do anything about it. They appear on Turn 3 whether I want them to or not. Seems there are some enemies that are programmed to roam if they detect no open space to reach us. Whereas in other fire emblem games, enemies will line up single file for the meat grinder. These murderers prioritized Gilbert and Ashe before turning on Annette and Mercedes, who are all trapped in a corner with no avenue of escape. I was not about to let my children die in the worst map of Fire Emblem history.

Okay, so I let Ashe die. I had long made my peace with his death during the previous attempt – I already did his paralogue, he had nothing left to offer me except passing vital equipment to Uncle Gilbert. The enemies have Pass, and Ashe begins the map trapped in the corner, I didn’t see any way to save him once Gilbert was targeted – and he would inevitably be targeted by the six or seven bad guys that always give up on reaching Byleth and Dimitri. But like Apollo Creed in Rocky 3, his death serves as the motivation for our victory. Once we’ve routed the flood of enemies, our other three units appear on the far side. Felix can of course handle himself out there, but I was able to use Ingrid’s reposition to get him moving a bit faster. I then had our fliers get to work unlocking chests for some more sellable items.

Upon death, the boss will respawn in one of two locations. We got the bad spawn. Not so much “bad” in terms of their placement, but bad in the sense that they’re not carrying the items they would have if they spawned in the other direction due to a programming oversight. Namely the rare and valuable Evasion Ring. In its place we get nothing. If we wanted that evasion ring, I could have replayed the map again from the start for another 50/50 chance at getting the good spawn. But we got some good RNG in this attempt and I didn’t want to push it. Namely, those gambits the enemy threw at Dimitri. It’s only a 30% chance to connect (less assuming there is 2RN on gambits), but any one of them hitting would severely lower our stats. Since there's no room to retreat on this map, I was worried that most divine pulse attempts would simply be futile. The only thing I'd change in this run is have the aura knuckles equipped on more of those earlier turns. I think I chose to equip training gauntlets with Byleth out of sheer habit and that cut into her enemy phase presence big time.

RIP our first death. 

Edited by Zapp Branniglenn
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  • 4 weeks later...

Chapter 14 is a Defense Map Double Feature with the Hilda Paralogue. It's the only paralogue that's potentially available in this chapter so I thought it made sense to do here rather than earlier. You can read about it here and/or watch it here


Preparations: Here’s something interesting. Dedue and Lorenz are gone from our party, and all their inventory should be too. But the Thyrsus was slipped into my convoy during the time skip, despite my double checking that Lorenz was holding it. I noticed this in my last playthrough too, how odd. They must have specially programmed some items to not be lost if they’re in the inventory of a unit who leaves. Dimitri is the first to hit level 30, and he got into War Master first try. At A brawling and C+ axes, he had a 47% chance. I love how easy it is to get into master classes. For Dimitri it’s a serious blessing considering I have no way of raising his axe rank at this point of the game, since he can’t be tutored and does not have training Goals. Chapter 14 feels like another day at the office. The only exciting development is that the Batallion Guild greatly expanded its selection. I bought the new support gambits, naturally. I don’t think I’ve ever used Dance of the Goddess, but Blessing is real nice, and I’ll be on the lookout for ways to use Sacred Shield.

Hilda Paralogue: This feels like a good map to test out the effectiveness of fliers and level up our new support gambits, Sacred Shield and Blessing. On the left side, it seemed to me that the bulk of enemies were coming from the north towards the west exit, so I sent most of my army there while Byleth held off the middle path. Raphael ran south, while Catherine flew to the isolated green unit in the north. The reward for saving all the green units is just a lame hexlock shield, but since this map only ends with a rout, spreading out lets us clear faster.

The footage might make it look like things went smoothly, but I had to rewind from Turn 6 all the way to Turn 3 (24 of the 59 unedited minutes of footage for this map) because the north side just got out of hand. There’s at least four enemies up there with fusilade, and the bird monster’s Staggering Blow also prevents your movement for a whole turn. Any turn where we should have been able to move the enemies just happen to land a 25-45 accuracy gambit. I was kicking myself for bunching up my units in the first place, since we can’t attack back at range And even with Healing Focus we couldn’t keep up with the constant onslaught of damage. The enemies may be only level 26, but gambits are just that deadly. We were already locked down as early as Turn 3, but I knew if I made a small change in the order of attacks we can reroll the RNG of those low accuracy gambits. The gamble worked and I was able to push forward.

Red auxilliary battle + a normal one: Okay, how am I just now finding out Sacred Shield reduces ALL ranged damage to 0? I noticed in the Hilda Paralogue it worked on gambits, but I didn’t think much of it. The description specifies only physical damage, but this rando mage showed me that it’s magical as well. That’s a game changer. Anyway I mastered Mage on Dorothea and Grappler on Felix. Felix is also level 30 now and nailed his certification for War Master at the first opportunity. Level ups are Felix Str, Dex, Spd, Lck, Def, Cha. Manuela HP, Mag, Spd. Dorothea HP, Mag, Dex, Lck, Cha. Catherine Str, Dex. Manuela again HP, Mag, Spd, cha. Manuela a third time HP, Str, Mag, Def, Res, Cha. Byleth HP, Lck, Def, Cha.

Chapter 14 main mission: Oh I remember this map alright. The infinite spawning falcon knights are a menace. 48 attack, 25 Prt, 59 avoid, and enough AS to double everyone except Catherine. There's also a ton of flier-only safe spots they could canto away to where I can’t reach them with my 1 Range locked units. I’ve never missed having Hunters Volley more than right now. The only way to stop them from spawning is to escort the green unit swordmaster. But that swordmaster isn’t quite as indestructible as the one from chapter 12, so the left side needs to blitz the enemies to the north while I treat the main portion of the map like the Defense chapter it factually is. The enemy’s objective is to push forward, not ours. So let’s pump the brakes every other turn in order to keep the enemy phases manageable.

I’ve had Duscur Heavy Troops at 40 Endurance pretty explicitly for this rainy day of a map. Ever since chapter 10 (it wasn’t equipped to anybody during the time skip, so its health was not restored). Dimitri does not have A rank authority to complete his signature build, but between the +10 def of that batallion and the +6 of the Aegis shield, I could boost his defense high enough that the enemies could barely hurt him. I also threw on Defensive Tactics for good measure. I checked its endurance as we were about to finish the map and it was at 18, so it's debatable whether it made a difference. As an enemy phase build, he had no need of death blow, and I swapped Armored Blow for HP+5. I also notice extremely few enemies on this map have gambits, making this strategy even more optimal. They have no choice but to face Dimitri's 100% crit rate.

Accuracy’s a bit of an issue for those falcon knights. Even with Ferdinand’s Rally Dexterity, Dimitri couldn’t be expected to nail all of them. Thankfully Alois’ One Two Punch can ORKO them (God I wish Dedue were here), and Hilda’s combo of seal speed and seal defense can also set them up for an easy kill. Unfortunately the RNG was not on my side today either. On Turn 4 I missed half a dozen 70-90 hit rates on this dumb paladin on a forest tile. The game was sucking me dry of divine pulses and I can tell in editing that I wasn’t keeping track of which order of units I’ve attempted, so one wrong answer got repeated. If you’re watching the footage, bear in mind that for every unlikely miss you see, there are two others you didn’t see thanks to divine pulse. Although you do get to see the double 90 miss (that’s 98.1% in true hit both times). Statistical anomalies like that are fun when they don't end up making a difference. The fire trap was really cathartic. All those enemies stunned and ready for me to take out my frustration on.


Edited by Zapp Branniglenn
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Chapter 15 has us battling our way through monster hell before visiting actual Hell. Just going with one paralogue a month right now since we're still missing two of our star players until the end of chapter 16. There's plenty of time, but not quite so much time we can get away with doing one a month until the end of the game. I did the math. You can read about it here and/or watch it here.


Preparations: Anna’s secret shop appears. There’s a lot of good stuff in here, but I decided on just the Evasion Ring. This is the first one we’ve had a chance to acquire in the whole run. I also got the Fodlandy fish for the quest on my very first cast. Is that guaranteed to happen? The gambit stun locking of last chapter made me realize my units could use some more charm. I offered my activity points for tea time with my students, but they almost universally turned me down, dealing an intense blow to my self esteem.

Red Aux battle + a normal one: Raphael and Ferdinand mastered grappler, Caspar got death blow, Catherine got darting blow, and Bernadetta mastered assassin. I’m also getting some of us to B authority finally. Level ups are Raphael HP, Str, Dex, Lck, Def. Bernadetta Hp Str, Dex, Res, Cha. Caspar Str, Mag, Dex, Lck, Def. Dorothea HP, Mag, Dex, spd, Res. Alois HP, Spd, Cha. Ferdinand HP, Str, Dex, Lck, Cha. Catherine HP, Str, Mag, Dex, Spd, Res. Alois Again Str, Lck, Cha. 

Marianne Paralogue: I intended to do Caspars at the first opportunity, but I found that he was 1 strength short of managing the Death Knight kill (unless I wanted to sit here and rig a double crit on the first turn). Turthfully, none of the four paralogues that became available this month were particularly appetizing. Marianne's is tough because the vast majority of enemies are monsters, and we have some difficulty with those. But I figured this map will only get more annoying as our male units graduate to War Master, so let’s do it while they’re still grapplers that can cut through forest tiles like butter. That line of thinking lead me to not fielding Hilda but I definitely think that was a mistake for such a monster-loaded map. Even the boss is susceptible to Seal Speed/Defense the debuffing would have allowed me to rely less on nailing crits.

The objective is to slay the boss, but I’m not certain if/when enemies across the map start to roam. If any of the infantry enemies decided to go for Marianne instead of us, it would be all over several turns before I knew it. So I decided to fight my way over to her before going after the boss. This probably extended the length of the map significantly, but also allowed me to take out the physic healers who would hinder my efforts to take on the boss at the start. If it looks like I got weirdly aggressive quad striking with Bernadetta and Catherine, it’s because I’m rolling the dice on Lethality. Lethality’s proc rate is only 5-6%, but with four chances I figure it’s worth it to try. Lethality knocks out a Monster’s current health bar in one go, and it will also activate through armor. Plus the boss doesn’t have General, so it can even activate on him. Unfortunately I don’t think I got a single lethality proc on this map. What I did get was Alois dodging a lethal 95, so the RNG was at least playing fair after last chapter.

Main Mission: This map caught me off guard. No less than half the enemies here are armored knights, and it’s another infinite spawning reinforcements map, so I’m grateful for the boss coming out to meet us rather than having to slog our way past these high defense enemies. There’s some good items to Steal, but I didn’t feel like class changing anyone to a Thief just for more items to sell. The Lampos Shield is not bad though. It’s main effect is useless to us, but 3 defense at 0 weight is pretty good. I’ll have another shot at one in chapter 17. I think what I’ll do is grind out Steal on Catherine just so she can stay an Assassin on any map I plan to make use of it.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 16 features the (still not final! Not even Penultimate) showdown with the Death Knight in Caspar's Paralogue before the Battle on the Big Bridge. You can watch it here and/or read up about it here:



Preparations: The Dark Merchant appears this month after doing the battle quest. I might have to buy some arcane crystals to repair my aura knuckles so I made sure to unlock him.

Caspar Paralogue: With Lorenz and Dedue’s absence, I’ve had some free adjutant slots to spare for getting Caspar Death Blow and Str +2 so he could kill the Death Knight. This is totally unnecessary, since all I’m going to do with the Scythe of Sariel is sell it. I nearly chose Caspar to be on our team for this run, before deciding on Raphael to test out his unique Monster Crusher combat art. So having him do this one cool thing will at least get us a glimpse at what could have been. He’s a good unit, maybe a little underrated. My Caspar ended up with 19 luck after the time skip, which allowed him to try certifying as a grappler at B rank Brawling. The coin flip determined that we need to deploy 6 boys, meaning Ignatz finally gets to shine. He’s an assassin, so I’m not particularly concerned about his stats when enemies will just walk right past him. I decided to let him have his Rally skills, and two crucial plays were made possible via his Shove from a forest tile no one else could reach.

This is a rout map, but my approach is always to secure a way out for Caspar and Mercedes first thing. The right path is far less dangerous for our units. And with the way enemies aggro in groups, if I don’t have units in range for all of them to attack, luring one will cause the others to head in Caspar’s direction and force me to catch up to them. The reinforcements are coming no matter what I do on Turn 10, and they’ll game over me if I don’t act fast. Once they’re rescued, the map is just a regular rout objective. And none of the enemies aggro toward your position of their own free will, so I have to walk all the way over there, ugh. I don’t like rout maps.

Dark Merchant Battle Quest + Red Auxiliary battle: Hilda mastered Fortress Knight, Byleth mastered Mage. Level ups are Gilbert HP Str Dex. Hilda HP Mag Cha. Dorothea HP Spd. Bernadetta Str Spd Res Cha.

More Auxilliary battles: Mastered Thief on Catherine. Level ups are Hilda HP Str Def Cha. Bernadetta Str Dex Spd Cha. Raphael HP Def. Ferdinand HP Str Spd Res.

Main Mission: My low endurance battalions have been piling up to a degree where I’m running out of healthy ones to just equip for the stats. So I set up three battalion wrath users for this map. Not that the other two were necessary, Dimitri slaughtered half the enemies on his own. This strategy is especially potent on this map because I noticed that the majority of enemies with battalions don’t have an attack gambit (they had impregnable wall, which the enemy AI will never use). Dedue returns to us on turn 2, but I stupidly left him with no battalion during the timeskip. Even a generic Knights of Seiros would have brought his Fierce Iron Fist to more respectable damage. This map had the first Fierce Iron Fist of the run. And it being Dedue is sort of unlikely, since if it ever does more damage than One Two Punch, then we’re probably already in ORKO range.

Yes, that's a magic staff on Byleth. Byleth couldn't blitz through these fortress knights with physical gauntlets. I got Steal on Catherine to collect Acheron’s Evasion Ring. I wanted Ladislava’s Aurora shield too, but I completely forgot to nab it when that turn came. Catherine’s speed was exactly high enough to get that steal after that speed level up at the start. If she didn’t get it, I would just fish a stat booster out of the convoy. I noticed something new that I’ve never seen before. One of Byleth’s potential crest effects is a “windsweep” effect. And I assumed it only activated on combat arts, but it worked on her basic attacks at 23:00. I have never seen it proc before in that circumstance, so its activation rate must be crazy low. Less than once a playthrough. On the final turn I squeezed whatever kills I could manage before having Felix pacify Lorenz. 



Edited by Zapp Branniglenn
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