Makai Senki Disgaea (Disgaea: Hour of Darkness)
                     Power Levelling Guide

                       Created by: IanMustela
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              |  M. Ian Graham                     |
              |  ianDIE_SPAM_DIE@purpleferret.net  |
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               Originally Created on August 14, 2003.

               Current version 1.0, August 14, 2003.



Yet another quick-and-dirty Disgaea guide.  This time, a brief roadmap of the
best maps in the game for power levelling, plus general tips and tricks.
No plot spoilers.  I may add to this guide in the future to include more tips
and methods for levelling.  This guide is based on my personal experience--if
you have any corrections or feedback, or any additions you think should be made,
please let me know!  Make sure to remove the anti-spam exclamatory from my
address if contacting me via e-mail.


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                               Section 1
                          Power-Levelling Stages
                          (and how to use them)

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 Episode 5, Stage 3

    This is the First Great Levelling Map in the game.  I personally recommend
    avoiding serious levelling (beyond what's necessary to get you through the
    plot alive) before reaching this point, because the rate at which you
    gain levels will make any power levelling before this point feel like a
    waste of time.

    Once you reach this stage, it's difficult to miss its potential for
    experience-filled goodness assuming you make two observations:

    (1) Everything except for a character or enemy located in one specific panel
        is invincible.
    (2) Throwing one enemy into another produces a new enemy whose level is the
        sum of the previous two enemies.

    The method for power levelling here should be immediately obvious.  Throw
    enemies together until you've obtained one of the desired level, then throw
    this enemy into the one non-invincible panel.  Smash it.  Repeat as desired.

    The only thing to watch out for is that an enemy may become impossible for
    your characters to damage if made too powerful--if this happens, you get to
    reset/give up.  Also, if you get to the point where combining all the enemies
    produces something too weak for your needs, you can remedy the situation by
    raising enemy levels through the Congress.

    An additional tip here--there tends to be a single enemy on this stage which
    has particularly low defense compared to the others.  Using this one as the
    high-level target will make it easier to damage and thus speed up the
    process.

    If you have any trouble progressing through the plot before Episode 10, this
    is the map to fall back to and build yourself up.

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 Episode 10, Stage 1

    This map is similar to Episode 5, Stage 3 in that it has a huge amount of
    space covered with invincibility and thus can be used to tackle very strong
    enemies produced by combination as in the above.  However, it's less easy to
    deal with than the previous map due to its layout and the type of enemy:
    leaving multiple ones around often results in their killing each other off
    with area-of-effect attacks before you get the chance to grab the experience.
    It's hard to recommend spending a lot of time here, but if you find yourself
    very weak at this point in the game (before the next stage listed) it may
    help to hold you over for a little while.

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 Episode 12, Stage 3

    Yet another stage which can be used for levelling via invincibility and
    enemy combination.  This one is much, much more useful than 10-1.  The
    enemies yield a lot of experience, and it's easier to control them this time
    around.

    The obvious first step here is to make a mad dash for the ally-damage symbol
    at the other end of the map and get it out of the invincibility region.  A
    single character with high movement (try a ninja) can make it there in a few
    rounds (stay in the invincibility region to avoid getting smashed by the
    enemies!) and complete the throw without any healing.  After this is done, you
    can proceed in much the same manner as the previous stages, combining enemies
    and defeating them as you see fit.  There are a lot of enemies to deal with,
    so levelling here will be very quick.  This is a great stage to fall back to
    if you have trouble later in Episode 13.

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 Episode The Last, Stage 1

    Finally time to abandon the invincibility trick--this is definitely the best
    levelling map of any of the main plot stages.  The enemies yield a lot of
    experience, and the experience bonus here will speed things up even more.
    There's no funny strategy or anything here--simply smash them to bits, and
    use the Congress to make them stronger as needed.  A little bit of work here
    will get your characters up to around level 150 (and able to handle the next
    map listed here) in relatively short order.

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 Cave of Trials, Stage 3

    Get ready to see a lot of this map.  The enemies here yield more experience
    at a given level than any other enemy type in the game, the experience bonus
    pumps that up further, and to top it all off they're lined up in a very
    convenient fashion for you to knock them down in record time.  You can always
    take them out one at a time, but if you have a sufficiently powerful
    character with a 3x3 area-of-effect attack (swords or fists come to mind),
    you can smash them all in a single attack and level disgustingly quickly.

    This map is the best place to level until your characters are somewhere in
    the range of about level 2000-2500.

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 The Item World

    After a certain point, there's simply no non-random map in the game that'll
    get you experience at the rate needed to build towards the 4000-6000 range
    which you'll need to be at to finish the hardest maps in the game.  The maps
    leading up to them don't beat the ease of experience gain offered by the
    Cave of Trials level above, and you've already maxed out enemy difficulty
    and the guys there just aren't cutting it anymore.  Though there are
    higher-level guys at other non-plot dungeon levels, they don't give a whole
    lot of experience, and things seem to slow down.

    What to do?  Use the Item World!  There's no specific strategy at all--just
    pick an item with high-level enemies and slash your way through, using an
    exit door when you can't last any longer.  Progressing through items which
    you actually intend to use will give the time spent here more purpose as
    well, since you'll be gaining item levels and innocents in addition to
    experience.

    Note:  Be careful with finishing Legendary items, as it will affect your
           ending.  See my Ending Guide for details.


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                               Section 2
                        General Levelling Methods/Tips

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 Tip 1:  Use Experience Bonuses Wisely

    It's easy to ignore experience bonuses in items, but using them well can
    greatly accelerate your levelling.  A single item resident can yield up to
    a 300% gain in experience, meaning the character using it will level four
    times as quickly.  This bonus "stacks" with experience bonuses from
    geosymbols, so combining the two will really get you built up fast!

    Hunting down experience bonus innocents is well worth the time it takes,
    both for the increase in bonus when they're defeated and for the ability to
    move them to other items.  Earlier in the game, it's a good idea to
    consolidate experience bonuses, producing a single item with a very large
    bonus, and to use this item to concentrate on levelling a single character.
    This item can also be equipped and unequipped during battle to give the
    bonus to different characters at different times.


 Tip 2:  Follow the Leader(s)

    It's often a good idea to have one or two of your favorite characters use
    bonuses and take on high-level enemies to build themselves up very quickly.
    The reason for this is that once a high level is reached by even one
    character, it becomes very easy to bring much weaker characters up to speed.

    The method for quickly levelling weaker characters is simple--just have them
    participate in a team attack against a strong enemy, with the attack made
    by the stronger "leader" character.  The leader will take any damage from
    counter attacks, and even if the weaker characters miss or deal zero damage
    they still receive even shares of experience.  When attacking a very strong
    enemy in this manner, it's common for level 1 characters to gain several
    dozen levels in a single blow.

    A few preparations will make this process easier.  First, it's a good idea
    if your leader character either can kill the target in one strike or has
    no counter attacks--a counter attack which kills the enemy will result in
    no experience for the weaker characters.  Also, it's good to raise the
    chances of the weaker characters participating in the attack as much as
    possible--therefore, you'll want them to be equipped with the same weapon
    as the leader (how much damage they deal doesn't really matter, so no worries
    if they're terrible with the given weapon type).

    Finally, a good way to make this method very quick and completely safe for
    the weaker characters.  Keep the leader within one turn's distance of the
    starting panel (as walked by the weaker characters).  Before the leader
    attacks, deploy the weaker characters, moving them next to the leader.
    Attack, destroying the enemy and receiving the experience.  Finally,
    cancel the movements of the weaker characters, recalling them to the safety
    of the start panel.  This way, they receive experience without the
    possibility of taking damage and without even using their turns!  With
    multiple leader characters close to the start panel, the weaker characters
    can even participate in multiple attacks every turn.


Tip 3:  Last but Not Least

    An alternative method for quickly levelling weaker characters is to combine
    a number of factors to have them deal a large amount of damage to a strong
    enemy they normally couldn't take on by themselves.  Aside from common-sense
    factors (using a good weapon with ATK bonuses, using Braveheart, lowering
    enemy defense with axe attacks), there are a couple possibilities.  One
    obvious one is first eliminating most of the enemy's HP with a stronger
    character.  Another is to have the weaker character be the last attacker in
    a long queue of attacks fired off in sequence--this will give some extra bite
    to their attack and often enable them to deal damage when they normally
    couldn't.

    Whether this method or Tip 2 yields better results is debatable.  Tip 2 is
    the obvious choice for extremely weak characters who won't be able to deal
    damage to strong enemies no matter what (or will be too much of a pain to
    bother with).  This method may be more effective for moderately advanced
    characters who still have some catching up to do, as killing a stronger
    enemy on their own will keep them from sharing experience with others and
    probably advance them more quickly.


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That's about it for now!  Until the next update, thanks to:

Ayndin for suggestions for Tip 3 and various other tidbits

Nippon Ichi Software for an incredibly awesome game

and Atlus USA for bringing it to the States as a bilingual release!