OGRE BATTLE GUIDE TO STRATEGY version 1.01, 08/02/2009 by Stephen "Azuarc" Kittel For as long as Ogre Battle has been around, there aren't many guides with good strategic suggestions out there. There are decent WALKTHROUGHS that detail the basic facts about the game, including... * Character classes * Units on each level * Location of hidden towns and treasures * Special items like the zodiac stones * How to get the different endings * Basic game mechanics My goal here is not to duplicate those works. What I really want to do is detail some actual TACTICS that go into playing Ogre Battle. Quite literally, this is a strategy guide. It is opinionated and personalized, however it also delves into explaining aspects of the game in ways I haven't seen much of from other guides. TABLE OF CONTENTS I. Basic Unit Building Principles -12 key points about creating units II. Basic Unit Building Structure -2x3 units -1x3 units (or 1x2) -3x2 units -2x2 units -other III. Evaluation of Character Classes -Small frontline units -Small backline units -Large units IV. Basic Battle Plans -4 basic styles for handling a level V. Other Battlefield Maneuvers -Running Away -Playing the Terrain -Town Liberation -Unit Promotion and Formation -Pausing VI. Fighting Tactics -Regarding Paying Attention -Your Tactics -Enemy Tactics -Fighting Bosses VII. Tarot Cards -Evaluation of each card VIII. Item Usage -Types of items and impact IX. Generic Game Knowledge -Promotion vs. Recruitment ************************************** * I. Basic Unit Building Principles * ************************************** There are quite a few different ways to play Ogre Battle. Some writers have their favorite methods. You probably have your own as well. However, no matter how you want to try to slice it, the heart and soul of this game comes down to the actual units and how you arrange them. Therefore, the largest portion of this guide is going to be devoted to actual unit construction. Before talking about specific classes, let's think about the way units are built from the ground up. Please note that all the statements I am making here are "claims" because they are my personal take on the game. You might disagree with some of these principles, but my experience is that ignoring them can burn you or create a much greater challenge to the game. Unless you're looking for a hard mode, you probably want to stick to these. CLAIM #1: "Big" characters are usually not worth it. * You can have up to 5 characters in a unit. ** Big characters count at two spaces in your group. ** However, big characters do -NOT- have twice the damage dealing or damage taking capacity of small units. * Big characters can never lead a unit. ** You usually want your leader in the back row, with someone sturdy in front of him/her so units set to "Leader" don't force you to burn a lot of Revives. (See claim #3.) ** Big units often have cool abilities from the back, but it can be dangerous to let them actually use those abilities if it means that either your leader is exposed or you only have room for 2 small units in front, since big characters do tank better than single small characters. * Big characters often force your unit to move on strange terrain types like snow or water that prevent it from ever really reaching the front lines on most levels. * Therefore, most of the best units are going to have 5 small characters. Obviously, there are exceptions here. A zombie dragon is a total house in terms of damage it can dish and absorb. Gryphons and Wyrms give your unit High Sky capability, which is vital to some styles of play. And obviously, fewer people in a unit means less damage from group-wide attacks. But overall, you do not want to build around the mentality of using beasts in every unit. CLAIM #2: The back row is for damage. The front row is for protecting your damage dealers. In a lot of MMORPG's, groups are formed around the principle of having a tank to take the damage for the group, a healer to keep him alive, and the other people are damage specialists. Ogre Battle really isn't much different, except that you're not required to have a healer. (Of course, you can.) Take a look at your line-up of characters that are good in the front row. All of their attacks are physical attacks that can ONLY be at people directly in front of them. Now, compare that to your back row classes, which typically have attacks that are either targeted for better focus fire, or they simply hit the entire enemy unit. If it were possible to have 5 small units in the back row, I would seriously consider it. 5 mages and muses and other groupwide attackers would simply hose the opposition. Except...those classes also tend to be weaker to attacks, and you will take a few before you wipe out your opponent. Front-line characters can potentially deal some good damage as well, as far as single-target attacks go, but they don't fall down as easily. The key to making an effective unit is to balance what should be in the front versus what should be in the back. Take the starting unit for Lans, for example. Three knights/soldiers in the front, two wizards in the back. Simple and elegant, aside from the leader being in the front row. But switch the lead to one of the wizards and the unit still performs awesomely throughout the game even without modifying it. Ironically, even though the wizards are the most effective attackers in the unit, if you were to switch to two knights and three wizards, the unit tends to wear down much more quickly and have to go back to the shop much sooner. However, it will be more effective for the first fight or two, and you can supplement it with items after the battle or simply rotate it with a few other units. Or, y'know, add a cleric instead of a wizard. CLAIM #3: Your leader should be in the back row. Look, no matter how awesome your paladin in the front row is, there are times where he's just gonna get creamed, especially if he's in the center. A decent number of the units in the game are either set to Leader or to Weak. When the entire unit focus fires on one of your guys, it really stinks. I hate those units, but it's a perfectly good way to challenge you. A perfectly logical response is to keep the units that would get focused in the back, particularly your leader. (Especially the Opinion Leader unless you have the Iainuki Lord.) *MOST* of the enemy units in the game are supported heavily by physical attacks. It's easy to break up the attacks in those units by simple placement of the guys in your own units. As with all things, there are exceptions. Three knights + back row gryphon can be a decent unit, for instance, but it's still not superb. CLAIM #4: There's no incentive for having an unfilled unit. You can have 5 characters in a unit, counting 2 for beasts. Sometimes, especially in the first few levels, the game will attack you with units that have only 2-4 characters worth of units. This is somewhat ridiculous since there is strength in numbers. The only reason that you could possibly think of for not including another character in a unit is to reduce AE damage taken, which might reduce your chances of "losing" a battle. Still, that's a pretty weak reason, and you're costing your unit a lot of power. CLAIM #5: You will probably want to use 10 units on the field at all times. After the tutorial level, you're given 6 units by default. Not only are some of these units not well-designed, but there's also a reserve of decent troops off to the side, and you want to start cultivating your characters for later. Don't limit yourself initially by what you're given. That witch you start with can lead 2 amazons and 2 soldiers, and you can take the other potential leaders to start their own troupe. With just 6 units, you'll find yourself stretched thin in the subsequent levels, even after adding Gilbert and Canopus. Unless you have two super units that just destroy everything and are self-sufficient, odds are that you'll want to filter in a number of different units. There are exceptions, however it's often simplest to start a battle by deploying 10 units and sending them all at the enemy base. You can withdraw a unit or two for other duties like liberation or castle defense after they've gotten knocked around a bit. If you're the "evil" type that likes to overpower, you might have a couple uber units and want to ignore this point, but for a more balanced style of play, you'll probably have 11 or 12 (or more) units altogether so that in a real bind, you can BELL a wounded unit back and deploy reinforcements, perhaps because a unit slipped through toward your base. The only thing you may want to watch out for is that if you have very good units, there's a decent chance they carry a hefty price tag. 10 high-priced units might be more than you can keep up with the expenses for. Be careful if you don't have much of a treasury. CLAIM #6: Symmetry may be pretty, but it isn't always ideal. Not all units can be perfectly balanced, left to right. However, even if a unit can be balanced, with two knights in the front, a cleric back-center, and a wizard or a valkyrie flanking her on either side, that doesn't mean it's the best approach. First of all, the enemy will very often want to try to attack in a certain way based on your configuration. You can use that to your advantage. In fact, if you're feeling very diligent, you can even adjust the formation before each battle. I wouldn't recommend that much micromanaging, but it's certainly an option. Second, sometimes it's the best way to protect your leader. Let's return to the 3 knights + gryphon example. If the leader is the middle knight, and you're fighting the wrong unit, he's gonna die. Plain and simple. However, use the guy on the right as your leader, and suddenly things aren't quite as bad. Those opponents on the left side of the unit shouldn't be able to reach, which means the enemy's attacks become separated. Third, if you do have a large beast by itself in the front, lack of symmetry can often keep it from getting creamed. Put it all the way to one side, and your sturdiest back row guy at the other end. The dude in the back won't draw all the fire that you might like, but it will help considerably. When you make a unit, decide what's going in the unit first. Build it symmetrically if it can be. But then adjust the formation right after that so you can consider if the unit has weak points. CLAIM #7: Flying is a really big deal. You will want to have at least a couple flying units in your forces. In some cases, I have played the game with ONLY flying units. * The game goes much more quickly when you aren't waiting for your slower units to get to where everyone else is fighting. * You can outrace and outmaneuver your opponent easily. If you're going to knock out all the enemy units, it's very easy to sneak a flyer in behind the front lines to pick off the units that are running home to mommy. * A good liberation unit needs to be flying simply to cover all the territory they are going to cross. * Battles fought in the sky islands are treacherous for any non-flying unit. If they lose, and the pushback sends them off the edge of the island, they're gone for the level. Flyers keep on chugging. They also ignore walls on the Zenobia and Malano levels. Characters that will give your unit flying include Hawk Men, Gryphons, and Wyrms. In a pinch, Angels, Demons, and Ghosts also fly, but it's harder to get them to dominate the unit with their movement type since there is a hierarchy of whose movement type takes over for a unit. Gryphons and Wyrms will give you a "High Sky" unit, which moves at a very rapid pace throughout the map. "LowSky" units will move as fast as ground troops move on their favorite land type, which means that Low Sky is still a tremendous advantage.(*) If you're dying to have a ground-based beast, consider pairing it with a wyrm. The wyrms sometimes have a larger "size" than the other beast, meaning you might still go airborne even with a hellhound in your unit. However, the flip side of this coin is that working with "snow" or "shallows" or "marsh" or whatever other bizarre movement type you can conjure up is a real nuisance. Because the enemy has mostly plains and mountains units, you can counter with your own if the fliers miss them. Those aren't bad to have, but even then I'm skeptical of mountain units. However, the game doesn't often have screwball units that will go completely around you because of their strange routes to get to water. Nothing that actually watching the map can't handle. You better have a darn good unit to justify that slow mover in it. CLAIM #8: Groupwide attacks (AE) are vastly important later in the game. AE, or "area effect," is slang for damage abilities that affect multiple targets rather than just hitting a single target. The opposition doesn't listen to my suggestions very well, so they sometimes have some wonky units that only have 2 characters in them or other strangeness. Even then, it's pretty safe to assume that an AE attack will hit at least 3 opponents for as hard as a single-target attack would. So in that sense, a mage is much more powerful than a wizard -- they have essentially the same type of attack, but the wizard hits one guy twice, and the mage hits everyone once. In the first attack round, it's rather unlikely he WON'T hit two targets, so he can very rapidly blast away your opponents. In the early game, your units will bounce off the opponents' multiples times before one of them finally dies. While units are more defensible later in the game, they are also much more destructive. When you start getting more powerful units that hit the whole group twice, the idea of someone attacking twice to the opponent directly in front of them doesn't sound so good any more. But you need to plan ahead. The units you pick early on might never evolve into something much more powerful. Due to alignment issues, your wizard might never become a mage. There are places where you can go very wrong early in the game if you're not at least a little bit careful. CLAIM #9: Undead are a liability on both sides of the fence. Undead are the absolute best frontline units in the game...until you hit a unit with a cleric in it. Using units with skeletons or ghosts fronting them require you to be more tactical and to plan ahead a bit. You want to usually pair them with a non-undead unit in case that dreaded white magic unit is coming up. Sometimes it's more trouble than it's worth...but it can also definitely be worth it. However, on the other side, the absolute worst scenario to deal with is a rampaging unit of 4 ghosts and 1 mage that you absolutely cannot stop because you can't kill the undead, and even if you're able to kill the mage, it just sends them floating back to their home base for a little while. Even if you don't like using clerics, for the sake of levels like Pogrom Forest, keep some white magic potential in a few of your units. Clerics, princesses, angels, paladins, whatever. White magic weapons like Brunhild if you REALLY have to. Even the Petrify from Cockatrices counts, oddly enough. But don't depend on Judgement and Sun cards. In emergency cases, you can demote other units like valkyries to promote them to clerics, as long as you have the alignment to return to the old class as well. Besides, you want a couple high alignment units to liberate towns with. CLAIM #10: Unit compatibility is pretty unimportant. Beastmasters supposedly make the beasts in their units fight more effectively. Allegedly there's issues with pairing high alignment and low alignment units together. Still, my princess (100 ALI) seems to work just fine with my mages (0 ALI), and my paladins and monks don't seem to mind being in a group with a lich or with demons. Of all the things to worry yourself over, restricting yourself in terms of who can be grouped together is not one of them. (The actual mechanics involved are slightly more complicated than just alignment, but they aren't devastating differences.) CLAIM #11: If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Your units are not all hammers. Different units are for different purposes. You can not make one super unit and clone it eight times...especially when the absolute best characters in the game (Princess, Lich) require special rare items to create. Even if you just ramrod your units so whatever you've got fights whatever they've got, most units will have some kind of counter that another one of your parties wouldn't have the same difficulties with. Consider how a unit will fight. It may significantly affect how you use it, or what you do with the final character you put in it to finish it. If you're making a unit out of two gryphons, which have a back row AE attack, you might want a leader that does so as well so you can use a hit-and-fade tactic while strategically running away. That unit won't be good in a heated melee, but it can soften up single opponents without taking any damage itself. Of course, units that either include or fight undead are especially important to keep in mind, but so is simply comparing attacks like samurai's Iainuki versus dollmage's Acid. Enemy samurai units are usually on weak tactics and very likely to eliminate one of your characters, which is a huge pain -- but a pain you could use yourself. On the other hand, the even damage the dollmage deals would cut down on needing to track down opposition that's running for the nearest town. You might also want a cleric to go with your samurai to heal the self-inflicted damage, whereas the dollmage just needs a good frontline wall to block. Some of the things you'll want some of your units to be able to do... * Spread the damage around by targeted attacks or AE. * Eliminate undead with white magic. * Fly for added mobility. * Have high (or low) alignment for liberating towns, which probably also want to fly. * Deal their damage without taking a beating, perhaps by retreating or by healing. * Achieve good single-target damage for fighting bosses. CLAIM #12: Ideally, your units should be disassembled and rebuilt every few levels. There are 29 stages in the game. The unit that was rather good back in the Sharom District might not be so great when you're in the endgame. This happens for a few reasons. * Not every unit is going to level evenly. Depending on your playstle, some units might become completely ineffective if they fall behind. Even if you do your best to maintain alignment exactly the way you want it, and you go to all the levels rather than just beelining for the end, there will be units that do not keep up. * Certain character classes, like beast men and golems, are great in the very early going, and then become woefully inadequate later. (Especially golems.) A unit centered around these characters will go from good to bad to worse as the game progresses, until you cringe at the thought of bringing them out. * You get more people as you move through the levels. Granted, you might not get all of the storyline characters if you aren't on the path of good, and do all the things you need to on their respective stages, but by the time you're halfway through the game, you might have an additional 10 units without creating any yourself, plus you probably instinctively recruit during all the neutral encounters so you don't have to fight random battles. Having more than 10 units compounds the first point when you start juggling units or have your favorite 6 or 7 units you do everything with. Besides, a stage can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on your approach. (Actually, it could be a lot more or a lot less, if we put it that way.) After you've played 5 levels, is it really that bad to invest 10-15 minutes in rebalancing your units? Remember, a character doesn't have to stay its current class for the entire game. It may be in your interests to change the class of a character after a few levels, especially if the old class isn't doing real well. Don't be afraid to change a class, especially for a special character that has heightened attributes, if it will work out better overall. ************************************** * II. Basic Unit Building Structure * ************************************** You can fit a maximum of 3 characters in the front or the back of a unit, and 5 altogether. Large characters count double for your overall headcount, but there's nothing stopping you from making a complete front- or back-line unit with two beasts. Considering that, I'm going to *VERY* loosely term units according to how many guys are in the front, and how many are in the back. So Lans' unit would be a 3x2. (3 front, 2 back.) A unit of 3 back row people being protected by a beast in the front would be a 1x3. I'm going to hope it's safe to assume that you're using all 5 slots in your groups since it's very rare you would want to do otherwise....so a 1x3 is not going to be 4 small units. Note: The examples given are simply to illustrate. I am not saying they are ideal units. I feel it's more important to tell you how to build a unit than to actually specify what goes in it. UNIT TYPE #1 - 2 front, 3 back My personal experience is that 2x3 units are typically the most effective in the game if they don't fall behind in level. Your two front row guys will get knocked around a bit from time to time, especially if you're using a class that isn't the sturdiest, but your back row units should be providing very good damage or support, and the front guys just have to stay alive. Example A: front - 2 knights, back - 2 valkyrie, 1 cleric (similar to Aisha) Example B: front - 2 hawk men, back - 3 wizards The first example is a very balanced unit that has good frontline defense, a pair of attackers that can direct their attacks at anyone, and a healer that will keep the unit standing a lot longer than your other units. It also promotes very well later in the game. The second example is a low sky unit with some real firepower to it once those wizards become mages, but it will also wear down quickly. UNIT TYPE #2 - 1 front, 3 back A 1x3 unit assumes you have a beast in the front to guard your leader. Unless you have a cleric, don't center the beast. You'll want to draw some heat away from it. The beast will take less damage per attack than a small fry, but it will take *ALL* of the damage if it's in the middle. A possible variation of the 1x3 unit is a 1x2, where you have a second beast in the back row. (Rauny's unit comes like this.) The 1x2 is often the best approach when you want to actually use a back row ability for a large unit. Example A: front - 1 giant, back - 1 cleric, 2 wizards Example B: front - 1 wyrm, back - 1 beast man, 1 wyrm (Gilbert's unit) The first is a basic style. The beast replaces your two forwards, and the unit depends primarily on the back row, just like the 2x3. That back row can be raw brute damage (3 mages) or some support (clerics and witches). The style in the second example is more likely to be useful later in the game when the beasts start to become useful in the back...although a hellhound's fire is nice, some of the other attacks are nicer and actually worth paying *some* attention to. UNIT TYPE #3 - 3 front, 2 back The primary difference between a 2x3 and a 3x2 is that the 3x2 obviously depends more heavily on its front line both for offense and defense, but also that it tends to be more physical in nature. The back row units are either to blast at targets the soldiers can't reach, or support them with heals. 3x2's tend to last longer in battle, which makes them as good or better in the early part of the game, but when your back row attackers start getting group attacks, the complexion changes considerably. Example A: front - 3 wild men, back - 2 ravenmen or demons Example B: front - 3 knights, back - 2 wizards (Lans' unit) Example A would be a low alignment unit that travels as low sky, which makes up for having ravenmen in the back row. Example B is much more offensive in nature, and probably defensive as well, but lacks the same mobility. UNIT TYPE #4 - 2 front, 2 back This build is a hybrid between the front row beast of the 1x3 and the more defensible 3x2's stronger front line. If you have a unit you're dying to have a particular beast in, it's possible this is the best option. Note that it is possible to also put the beast in the back with your leader -- while that isn't normally recommended, there are times where it works out quite well. Example A: front - 1 beastman, 1 hellhound, back - 2 beastmen Example B: front - 2 knights, back - 1 valkyrie, 1 cockatrice The first example is strictly an early game unit. Beastmen fade later on. But if you've got a bunch from square one, that is a way to use them. The extra frontman means the hellhound won't be obliterated, but can still serve as a defender. (This is much moreso than in a 1x3.) The second example is a bit more interesting because it uses the rear beast, which is where Gryphons and Cockatrices thrive. (I love my back row gryphons.) UNIT TYPE #5 - anything else There are other ways to make units if you're feeling especially creative, however they are usually not recommended. A 3x1, 3x0, 0x3, or 1x3-with-rear-beast is often asking for trouble. But for humor's sake, here are a couple functional versions. Example A: front - 3 knights, back - 1 gryphon Example B: front - none, back - 1 valkyrie, 2 gryphons Example C: front - 1 wraith, back - 2 sorcerers, 1 tiamat (black dragon) Note that both of the first two examples leave the leader exposed, and the third relies on undead for protection. Neither are truly "normal" units, but they have their place. ***************************************** * III. Evaluation of Character Classes * ***************************************** Not all characters are created alike. There's a lot that can be said about each type of troop you can have, but I'm gonna stick to the short summary version with a rating and maybe a comment on how best to use. You can easily look up the vital stats on them with the use of a walkthrough-style FAQ. SMALL FRONTLINE UNITS Note: This list includes units that are reasonable to put in either row. * Knight/Paladin (A-) - Probably the best defensively, and still able to do decent damage. Paladins get 3 attacks. * Wild Man/Evil One (B) - This is the low alignment equivalent of the knight. He does a decent job, but not quite as good. Although the promotion increases his power a bit, he's stuck with 2 attacks. * Hawkman/Eagleman/Ravenman (B) - Hawkmen are not especially good offensively or defensively, but where they really win out is by making their units low sky (assuming no big beasts.) They do this better than any other low sky class. * Ninja (B-) - I'm not much of a fan of these guys, but they can be effective. It's like having a weird variant wizard that can only be promoted to mage, but can actually be put in the front row if you wanted to. I'm told they make good frontline units, but they seem too wizardly to me, even with 3 attacks. * Skeleton/Wraith (B-) - Best defensive unit around, barring a cleric is around. Big liability, big nuisance to fight, but potentially big reward for using them well. * Ghost/Phantom (B-) - Read what was said about skeletons. Same deal, except ghosts are really more of a back row unit when you look at their abilities. Too bad they can't block physical attacks to your group from back there. They can, however, sometimes fly an all-small unit. Phantoms get three targeted attacks from the rear, which is nice. * Imp/Demon/Devil (C+) - They're alright, I guess. They're much more fun to put in the back row, especially when dropping meteors. Still, their only real claim to fame is that they are low sky. * Samurai (C) - I find them to be Very rarely useful, and not for the back row ability, as much as it REALLY HURTS when the game uses one against you. * Pumpkin/Halloween (C) - It's very easy to waffle on how good these guys are. They can potentially be devastating, but they also miss a ton and they cannot finish a unit off. They perform the same attacks from front or back. * Beast Man/Dragoner (C-) - Reasonable offense early on, and versatile from the back as well, but just doesn't hold up through the levels, even with the proper promotions from a Stone of Dragos. * Vampyre (D) - His back row ability is slightly more worthwhile than the werewolf's, and the life leech from his front row attack sort of lets him attack, but he's worthless (albeit hard to kill) during the day. Not worth losing a knight over. * Tiger Man/Werewolf (F) - Too big a liability. They're very nice at night, but trash during the day. SMALL BACKLINE UNITS * Princess (A+) - Sadly, it takes a rare item to make a princess, but they are the most powerful characters in the game since, as group leader, they give everyone an extra attack! Oh yeah, they also have an AE white magic attack for your undead-killing convenience. * Wizard/Mage/Sorcerer/Lich (A) - The wizard is awesome for early on in the game, but keep his alignment low (10-30) so he can be promoted to mage. The other two promotions require special items, but are *WELL* worth it for the firepower. The lich is a very close second as the best unit in the game. * Valkyrie/Muse (A-) - The offensive females. They're pretty effective with lightning, but the most important part is the promotion to Muse making their two blasts go AE. * Cleric/Shaman/Monk (B) - Clerics are important on some levels. They kill undead. They keep your guys alive a little longer. But unless you build a unit around having a cleric, they're often just dead weight when you'd rather have another attacker. I prefer to think of them as a nice bonus to have, rather than a unit centerpiece...except where undead are concerned. * Doll Mage (B-) - A doll mage is a wonderful boon to start the game with, when AE attacks are very rare. However, his acid doesn't hold up well, so even with the doll master doing 2 per battle, he's still not that hot. * Angel/Cherubim/Seraphim (C+) - They hit with white magic, and they're low sky. However, their damage is paltry, they can't take a hit at all, and the only worthwhile attack is a once-per-battle at the highest promotion. * Mermaid/Nixie (C) - Not a very good unit, and painfully expensive, but she does get a one-time AE attack after the promotion. * Witch (D) - In theory, the witch is a really awesome unit. Incredibly frustrating to fight against. However, her effectiveness decreases very rapidly with each level, so the only truly redeeming quality is the potential to maybe lock down a boss. * Faerie/Pixie/Sylyph (F) - Absolutely the worst character in the game. Trash at the first level, just as pathetic at the second, and the third adds a white magic attack that can be replicated by the angel if you're lacking a princess...without being nearly as painful to level up. If there is one character you should NEVER EVER bother with, it's the Faerie. LARGE UNITS * Gryphon/Cockatrice (A) - It flies! It does AE from the back! Not a great front row attacker, and beware -- the promotion changes its AE attack to a status effect instead. Cockatrice's petrify is a nice ability, but I wish that it didn't cost me the awesome AE potential of Gale...I usually don't promote my gryphons on account of how I use them. However, in fairness, Petrify can hit undead, and Gryphons do become less effective at later levels since their attacks are physical. * Wyrm/Wyvern (A) - It flies! And it tanks and deals damage from the front as well as any other beast. Pricy, but if you're going to have a beast up front, this is probably the one to have. * Giants (B-) - Giants are not awesome units, but they work acceptably well in a pinch. There are 3 separate promotions, of which the best one (Titan) is not available until level 15 and requires high alignment. It gets 2 gales per battle in the back row, which is the same as the gryphon's back row attack. * Hellhound/Cerberus (C+) - As good a front row unit as any other large unit early on. Their usefulness dips later in the game, but the cerberus's back row ability to put opponents to sleep is at least an interesting footnote. * Dragons (C) - I know I'm going to get some disagreement here, but the truth is dragons are not awesome unless you want to level up a character that's difficult to work with. Some of the promoted versions are quite nice, and potentially very powerful -- especially the zombie D -- but you have to work pretty hard to get the alignment you want on your dragon, and they really don't seem to be *ANY* better than other large units...lots of misses, can get beaten up pretty easily most of the time, and only two front row attacks. If you have a dragon, it's to have it in the back row. However, Ogre Battle dragons don't fly, and non-flying big units had better be tanking something as far as I'm concerned. Use at your own risk. * Golem/Rock Golem/Iron Golem (D) - Very high defense, very low health. That means they're **EXTREMELY** vulnerable to magic attacks. The only redeeming quality they have -- as a wall -- doesn't work so well when they die to any wizard. * Octopus/Kraken (D) - Gets 4 attacks per battle and a really nice back row AE attack upon promotion...but that means it gets 4 chances to miss per battle, and the really nice back row AE attack only works when they're in the water. Oh, and that means the unit moves ridiculously slow through anything besides water, and not very fast through shallow water at that. It should also be noted that a few of the special characters in the game are unique classes you can't recruit at all: namely, Debonair, Tristan, and the 3 dragoons. I'll leave it to you to decide if you want to include a decent, but insanely expensive unit. One thing that should strike you, however, is the spread between front and back row units in terms of quantity and effectiveness. (Units that could go both ways are in the front list.) Granted, I'm telling you that large units should mostly go in the front, which helps balance things out. The truth is, however, you get MUCH more power and flexibility from your back row. Even the greatest of frontline units can't do anything exceptionally impressive beyond attack a third time. ************************************** * IV. Basic Battle Plans * ************************************** We've finally established our fighting force and are prepared to go into the next level. How do we actually handle the stages themselves? Well, there are a few approaches. I don't want to completely invalidate any of them, since they simply represent different playstyles. Method 1: Aerial Vanguard This technique requires having mostly air units. Your leader should preferably be a Low Sky unit so he doesn't outpace your other units, so put him with a Hawkman or a Demon or something similar. As soon as the level begins, immediately pause the game and deploy your other flying units and send them at the enemy base, along with your leader. Do battle with the units that get in your way, however on some levels this might only be the opposing flying units since the ground troops might take winding, snaking paths to reach your base. If a friendly unit is struggling, just have them retreat rather than getting smacked around. You should be able to clear a path for your leader to pause at the boss and use a mass summons if its needed, although with all of your units charging forward, it's probably not. The biggest drawback to this method is that you will not fight all of the enemy's units, and some will probably walk away limping. This is NOT a technique you want to use if you need experience for your units. However, for a few critical or annoying levels, it works extremely well. I've found that often this becomes a favorite tactic of mine for clearing the last 5 maps or so. Another drawback is that you will not be liberating towns or doing any of the story stuff that occurs during the actual levels, which again lends itself toward not using this method until at least after Malano or so. Once again, this method does require you to have predominantly air units. Having all High and Low Sky units does simply feel like cheating sometimes. It also pigeonholes your units tremendously since every unit has to have a Gryphon, Wyrm, or some kind of low sky flier. Even if you're able to use the vanguard, you might still fall into one of the other styles. Method 2: Smashmouth I probably use this one most frequently during the early part of the game. Pause right away and deploy your units. Send all of your units at the enemy base. Your flying units will meet the initial surge and hopefully stall the enemy's advance long enough for your ground troops to reach. You should capture the town or temple closest to the enemy base and set up camp there to shorten the battlefield. Let all the units fight you, and then when they stop coming, go take out the boss. Depending on the number of flying units you have, you might want to approach this strategy differently. If you've only got two or three fliers, (you should have at least that many,) use them initially just to thwart opposing fliers so your base doesn't get sacked. Also, once you've set up your "operations center," you might try to get some fliers off to the side to loop behind where you're fighting at your town so they can swoop in and grab the units that are trying to go back and revive their fallen. This method will lead to a fast and furious style of eliminating the enemy. Because you are so close to the enemy base, units won't be travelling very far between deployment and reaching your forces. Since, ideally, you'll be removing those units fairly quickly as well, that means reinforcements will arrive rapidly as well. Be prepared to carefully rotate which unit is the absolute closest to the front while staying within the town borders. If your units at the front are not able to overpower their's, you'll be forced into using a lot of tarot cards and items. However, since you're wiping out all the enemies for experience, this shouldn't be much of an issue unless you're skipping levels. At some point during the battle, you'll want to send out a liberator, or maybe even two if you wait until the very end. See commentary later regarding liberating towns. You might also choose to keep a unit back at your base as a safety net in case someone does sneak by, although if you keep a careful eye on the battlefield -- zoom out when you don't have a command to issue, and pause the game when you do -- that probably shouldn't happen unless a unit both gets past you and overpowers your chase unit. If it does, use a BELL so you can redeploy a unit at your base. Method 3: Playing for Territory This style has more of a role-play feel to it. One of the greatest failings of the game is that it's supposed to be about territorial control and liberating towns as you move through the map. A large number of sources will tell you to specifically not liberate a town or a temple under any circumstances while the level is on-going. And this is wrong on a bunch of levels, mostly in terms of game design. Ogre Battle 64 corrects this issue in quite a few ways like unit fatigue, enemy units not starting at the base, and varied AI styles. However, in the original OB, if you decide to play the game the way it was intended, you have to go out of your way a little. Still, playing for territory can be a bit more fun. You'll want to send about half your troops up the middle, possibly detouring for nearby towns. In the meanwhile, your other units will go off and liberate towns that are off the beaten path. If you're going to play this way, I strongly recommend you initially keep your leader at your home base so that enemy units are all drawn in the same direction. The reason for this is related to how enemy units move. Enemy units will typically do one of the following: (**) 1) Charge the rebel base. 2) Charge the liberated town closest to the enemy base. 3) Charge the rebel leader. 4) Mindlessly pursue the unit nearest to the base. What's important to understand here is that this is determined for each unit WHEN THEY ARE DEPLOYED. So initially, the enemy rushes you because all four of those conditions are in the direction of your base. Later on, if you've got the castle surrounded waiting for the last few opponents to come out, they will probably all attack in the same, potentially strange direction to get to the nearest unit. Additionally, like you, the computer does not micromanage its units with every tick of the clock, and usually only assigns new orders when their movement ends (because they lost a battle or got to where their objective had been when they started travelling towards it.) As a result, you will want to watch out for the following if you are taking a slower approach toward the base: * If you send your leader off to liberate, you will have units moving to bizarre places that may do bizarre things afterwards. I wouldn't recommend. * Your liberators might get pursued rather than your main force. (Occasionally the enemy does send a unit specifically to recapture a distant town, but this isn't very common. Usually they are trying to catch your liberator or the nearest rebel holding.) The biggest threat that this poses is that your liberator typically frees a town, grabs a tarot, and leaves...meaning the town is completely undefended. That same unit will then try to track down your liberator at the next town it was at and recapture that one as well. One level I routinely have trouble with this is Kastolatian Sea. You'll also see this when you talk to Yulia about Canopus on the third level, and the enemy tries to reclaim her home town. * Once one of your units has become the bullseye for an opponent, they will faithfully chase that one single unit until either you or they are destroyed. Method 4: Lie in Wait This is the most boring approach, in my opinion. Sit in your castle with your leader and a couple other units out, and just wait for the enemy to come bounce off you, until they stop bouncing. This can be a time-consuming approach because the enemy units will take a while to walk from their base to your's, and the computer only gets to deploy so many units while the rest wait in the base for another unit to get destroyed. On some levels, this might seem to take forever! It also taxes your coffers since you might not be getting any tribute while you do this. You *can* send a liberation team out, but it's risky on most levels. While I don't mean to tear down other approaches to the game, this isn't one I would necessarily recommend. ************************************** * V. Other Battlefield Maneuvers * ************************************** While the previous section dealt with overall gameplans, you may need to pull additional moves out of your playbook from time to time. A) Running Away You don't always retreat because you outright lost the battle and the game forces you backwards. Sometimes you want to tell your unit to withdraw. This can happen for a variety of units besides the basic "OMG, they're gonna get their butt kicked." A number of these ideas are more closely related to fight strategies, but because a large number of them involve the bigger picture rather than fighting the actual battle, I mention it here. 1. Terminating a pointless battle to prevent damage. Example: I have a melee unit. You have an undead unit. I can do nothing to you. 2. Ending a battle after your unit is done attacking. Example: A unit with two gryphons and a dollmage gets 3 AE attacks in round 1, and then nothing afterwards. After that unit gets its attacks in, during round 1, why should they stand there afterwards and take damage? Run away, and then chase right back after that unit to do it again. You might never take damage as you Gale them to death. 3. To prevent severely wounding an enemy that will then run away. Example: I have two units in a town and I'm being attacked. The unit I'm fighting becomes SEVERELY mangled, and the one Wyrm in it will just escape to revive the unit. I make my unit run away so *I* get bounced away rather than the enemy, even though they really lost. My second unit then mops them up. 4. To slingshot into another battle. Example: I have an ace unit in a battle another unit can easily finish afterwards. However, there's another unit directly behind them that I'd like that unit to fight. Because I looked at the battlefield beforehand, I know that they'll be right on top of that unit if they lose, so I forfeit the battle and run away. 5. To cover ground more quickly. Example: I have a unit that got beat up and wants to withdraw. It gets attacked, so I retreat and it leaps away from the enemy. I get attacked again (since they're moving faster than me) and I retreat again to get even farther toward where I'm going. 6. To let another unit get the experience. Example: I have a level 15 unit and a level 11 unit. The 11 really needs to catch up, but has a hard time doing damage to the enemy. I let the 15 kick the snot out of them, and then the 11 just has to tickle them really hard. They immediately level up from wiping out a whole unit above their level. 7. To prevent the killing of a boss's minion so that the next unit can just push them over with one hit and then actually spend most of their effort on the boss. Since boss minions revive immediately, it's not always wise to finish them off near the end of a combat. B) Playing the Terrain On certain levels, a unit that moves across Mountain, Water, or even Plains will take some strange circuitous routes. (Diaspola is especially bad for this.) This works both ways. While it may take longer for an odd unit to make it to the front, the fact that their route is unique can often help considerably in sneaking in behind units or in intercepting enemy advances. For your units, that means that the (mostly) plains movers of the enemy can often easily be dropped in on by a mountain mover sitting on a large rock they're going around. For the enemy units, that means you have to keep an eye out for units that have snuck past you because they were going waaayyy out of the way. Both of these points are very well highlighted on Kastolatian Sea. The last island has a large rock on it. Chances are, you'll hole up in the last visible town and defend from there. All the ground units here take the path, so your mountain unit can just climb up on the rock and guard. At the same time, this is an absolutely wonderful level for ocean units, and the computer's got a bunch of them that will loop around the north, and go completely around your main force unless you defend against that. Of course, this is one of the primary reasons why flying units are so vital to the game. They have absolutely no benefit where an actual battle is concerned, however they can outmaneuver the opponent in all ways imaginable. Another thing to remember about terrain is that you will fight on some kind of land. While it's usually not a MAJOR bonus, it is something you'll want to think about...especially if there are Octopods/Krakens involved, which get a major bonus while fighting in water, and are a completely pathetic miss-fest on land. The final thing to consider is that, like strategically retreating into new battles, you can often lead your opponent into being bounced around, or even off the map completely in the case of Sky Islands. It's fun to narrowly beat an enemy unit, and watch them disappear over the edge. C) Town Liberation I personally believe towns should be liberated during your campaign on that level. I'm aware that certain strategies save them for later so you can rapidly alter your reputation later on. However, for playing a level with a somewhat "normal" approach, you're going to want to receive some measure of tribute, rather than playing completely off the bonuses for finishing stages or milking a single level for long periods. At the same time, many levels have events that will only trigger during that level. I don't keep a big strategy guide next to me to remember when this happens...I simply play the level and take them as they come. The only thing I actually have to remember is to do Antalia before the Tundra (to get one of the special characters.) If you are playing with any strategy other than simply bumrushing the boss ASAP, there should be little reason to NOT want to liberate towns. The real question is whether you do it during the level's fighting, or once all the enemies are disposed of. Usually I prefer to do at least some of it during. This way, a battle that does last an entire day helps you out a bit, and you can restock tarot cards if necessary. There are some reasons not to, however. Liberation affects your reputation...in fact, it's about the only thing that really does. The gain (or loss) is based on the alignment of the liberating unit. If you wanted to rapidly gain reputation, you'd need to liberate towns with a high ALI leader. Of course, there are some very easy ways to lose reputation if that's your goal -- towns or your base being recaptured especially. Also, if you happen to draw a World card when liberating towns, all those Hanged Man cards you draw later can really start to suck. Typically, you'll want to dedicate one unit as the liberator unit. They are always a high sky or low sky, high ALI unit. I like to try to keep their levels up so they can fight in a pinch, but technically you wouldn't need to...just get a cleric to kill some ghosts on Pogrom Forest and then never fight with her again. That unit can fly to the distant places none of my units will pass by. I'll also send any of my banged up units to the nearest town, liberated or not, the way that the computer does. This often takes a lot of the main route towns. D) Unit Promotion and Formation Unless you're extremely picky, this is only a tactic for when you're in some real trouble. You can change the formation of a unit on the fly to try to shield a low health character. Or, under other circumstances, you can even change classes during the battle. Got a Valkyrie in the unit, but you really need a Cleric to handle some undead? Just check your ALI first to make sure you can change back. The most important aspect of this is that units can be promoted during a level. While I usually only look for the "OK UP" between stages, there are some crucial upgrades that are worth watching out for, many of which occur at level 15. When you have reversible upgrades late in the game, sometimes you do want to step back, like going from Monk to Shaman for 3 single target heals instead of 2 AE. Still, it's not usually worth the bother; just something to consider. E) Use Pause When the level starts, pause to do your deployments so your units will follow as one mass. It's a significant advantage over the computer, whose units will come out all piecemeal. Later on, if you decide you need to issue a command, pause the game first. You might not be able to move the cursor to your unit before something else happens that pulls you away from that point. If the action is time-sensitive, and you can issue commands while paused, why WOULDN'T you pause? And, most importantly, you can always pause before a battle begins. If nothing else, pausing before a battle lets you do something you were about to, before you forget in the heat of watching a battle, however there are some particularly abusive things you can do at this point. Using healing items, especially. When preparing to fight a boss, sending your leader first and then popping a SUMMONS right before you fight will bring all the units right on top of you so the minions don't revive between bouts. ************************************** * VI. Fighting Tactics * ************************************** ^~^~^~^~^~^~^ (Fight it out!) </V~V~V~V~V~V~V There may not be as much to do in Ogre Battle during fight sequences as in most games, where you actually have direct control over the battle. However, your unseen hand can be quite powerful, even when the only options you really have are to change tactics, use a tarot card, or run away. Retreat was covered in the previous section. First of all, the most important rule of battle....PAY ATTENTION! You will not make the tactical decisions you need to if you aren't keeping track of what's going on. Chances are pretty good you know what is going to happen before it happens. You should keep track of how many times each unit has attacked so you know what else is still coming. (Hint: everybody goes once before anyone goes a second time; everybody takes their second turn before anyone with a third turn goes.) There are tons of times where I've made poor decisions simply because I thought I had one more attack, or because I didn't. I specifically try to horde Emperor cards for occasions like this, and sometimes it can influence your choice of battle tactics, or whether or not to run away before you get walloped a third time. The game may have a very laidback, leisurely feel to it, since you can pause at any time, and it isn't action-oriented, however If you are not paying attention during battles, you will miss out on some very important windows of opportunity. One other important thing to gauge is which tactics the computer is using. More on that in a minute. Now, it's nice to also mentally try to keep track of who's winning the battle. However, it doesn't pay off very much most of the time, and you probably don't have time to keep up. (You do turn animations off so non-boss battles don't last 5 minutes, right?) You have four options for battle tactics, BEST, LEADER, STRONG, and WEAK. Most of the time, you want to leave your unit on BEST. In theory, they should attack the targets they are able to damage the most. The AI isn't always brilliant here, but you can at least count on wizards to use the right damage type, and for physical attackers to go after softer targets first. This is *usually* what you want -- to deal as much damage as possible. However, sometimes you need to exert a little more control. The second most likely choice for fighting is STRONG. STRONG is especially good as the general rule for a unit if they have some strong AE, and frontline attackers that are likely to waste attacks on targets that are already low in health. In fact, I would dare say that you would only ever want to default a unit to BEST or STRONG. The other two are for special occasions and, ironically, the most frequent time I change tactics is to go between BEST and STRONG. LEADER is the one option you will almost never want to use. Kill off the leader so the unit will run away from you? About the only time you will use leader is when you are facing an undead unit that there is simply no way of dealing with. Kill the leader and run away. Your units are not always very bright where fighting undead are concerned, and they will continue to try to attack the ghosts they can't hurt with targeted attacks when they could hit the leader. If your goal is to hit the lead of an undead unit (either to kill him off specifically, or so your ranged units do some good before the cleric finally casts healing,) you simply must put LEADER on. No, actually, what I would rather have is a "NOT LEADER" option. Most of your units aren't going to manhandle the enemy so badly they won't escape. Maybe a Princess or a Lich or something else nasty can, but otherwise, you *want* your opponent to come back. And all too often, your guys are so caught up in attacking the leader without seeing the bigger picture. This is the time when you need to jockey between STRONG and WEAK. You'll use STRONG much more frequently here. since typically the goal is to stop the slaughter of a low-health leader. This tactic also extends to units where killing one more guy in it is going to make the leader run for the nearest town. When you *don't* want to kill a unit because you aren't going to finish it off, use STRONG. WEAK is a rather weak tactic for many of these same reasons. Unless you're in way over your head with a particular battle, it's unlikely you want to pick off the sickly gazelles in the bunch. The primary time I will use WEAK tactics is when I'm fighting a cleric so something actually gets dead. On the flipside, your opponents use the exact same tactics. There's a strange irony to the way you fight versus the way your opponent fights. Offensive success for you is not killing the leader, not killing too many people in the unit unless you're going to finish it off, and not crippling the unit so badly it will run away. Success for the A.I. is the exact opposite -- it wants to kill your individual guys through any means possible. Fortunately, it doesn't have any actual tools at its disposal, and has to rely on good match-ups and a little luck. You can potentially deprive it of these things most of the time, but there are some units that are simply bad news, and it usually comes down to which tactics they're using. BEST and STRONG are not normally a problem, however units that are on LEADER or especially WEAK are not your friends. Public enemy number one, where hostile tactics are concerned, are samurai. Iainuki usually hits for a lot of damage, and it's targeted. It's extremely common for these units to be on WEAK tactics, and to take out some low health, low armor target like a wizard. Seeing two of these guys in a group is almost a sure sign somebody on your side is going to die. If only samurai were so productive when they fought for you... However, many other units will use these tactics. It's important to pick these up as soon as possible so you can be sure to retreat or use a tarot at the right moment. If a unit has targeted attackers, it's usually very easy to pick out what they're using. If somebody who can hit *anyone* in the group hits the lowest health guy, there's a decent chance it's on WEAK. (Or it could be coincedence. See if it happens a second time, if you can afford to.) Likewise, the highest health is possibly STRONG, and going after the leader regardless of being high or low is probably LEADER. If there's no pattern at all, it's on BEST. If you're aware of which targets are available for physical attackers, it's sometimes possible to deduce this from their behavior as well. In a 3x2 unit, you always want your highest health guy in the middle because against weak tactics, your low man on the totem is just going to get a beatdown...best if he can't be hit from anywhere at all. The main idea behind tactics -- both using your own, and recognizing your opponents -- is to know when there is a bigger problem and you're going to have to intervene. It's usually better than using a Revive afterwards. When fighting a boss, you're automatically going to lose if you don't take out the leader. That doesn't mean you should use LEADER tactics, however you will need to think carefully. Since the boss is in a town, the minions are going to revive after every fight, but they will not heal completely if you leave them at low health. So either you need to very judiciously run away -- and against some bosses like Norn, that may mean simply running away before the battle starts if a bad unit is attacking -- or you need to use an evil little trick involving a certain item. Mass Summons, or SUMMONS in the inventory screen, brings all friendly units on top of the leader. This is only useful if you understand how the game's programming works. With each "tick" of the clock, it first moves each of your units by however fast they're supposed to go, then each of the A.I.'s, and then does whatever things happen after each of these turns, like adding a point of health to units recovering in a town....or reviving opposing characters that are dead but in a town. Whenever it moves a unit, it decides if it should enter battle. Conveniently, this means that if *ALL* of your units are in range to do battle at the *EXACT* same time, there is no interrim for the game to stop and revive the dead minions. Basically, it's an exploitation of game mechanics. (***) Bosses are still difficult enough that you'll need to run multiple units out there normally, all of which will get thoroughly beat up against the tougher bosses. However, you won't end up banging your head on a wall for no reason whatsoever...and considering that you *can* beat any boss you can reach, and you've already cleared all the opposition and could just gradually take however long you need to to beat the boss, there's not really any harm. Still, if you feel better with not cheating the game, you're going to want to watch the health of minions very closely. With some of the fights, it's not the boss's health and longevity that is the issue so much as his buddies. ************************************** * VII. Tarot Cards * ************************************** The only thing you can do directly in battle is toss out a tarot card. You can have up to 14 in your arsenal, which you get from either liberating towns or using JOKERs. Depending on how often you use them, you might find yourself routinely throwing away cards to pick up better ones, or running out and not having them when you need them, so it's important to get a balance for how often to throw a tarot. Generally speaking, they should be for special occasions, but don't hold back for fear of not having them later. (I might make an exception for Judgment.) Out of the 21 cards available, 8 of them (Chariot, Death, Hermit, Judgment, Justice, Magician, Sun, Tower) are strictly for dealing damage to the enemy. While a couple of these have special conditions, particularly Sun and Death, this is the logical place to start off talking about tarot cards. The first thing to be aware of is that you should probably not try to kill enemies with tarot cards. Any enemy finished off by a card gives the experience to your leader. Granted, that does make your tarot cards stronger, but this is going to cause your leader's alignment to plummet. Unless you are playing the evil dictator, this is a strategy you are probably going to want to avoid. It's also potentially going to take away precious experience from the unit that is in the battle. If you're going to use a damage move, it's usually best to use it at the beginning of a battle to soften up your opponents. However, since your role is to be the general, not the artillery, the other cards are very important to address as well, if not more important. I find that typically when I have to discard tarot, I begin with the direct damage cards. EVALUATION OF TAROT CARDS CHARIOT, HERMIT, JUSTICE, MAGICIAN, and TOWER may as well all be the exact same card. They're all fairly common cards, and they all serve the same function -- to damage the entire opposing side of the board. The only difference between them is that they do so using different damage types. Hermit is electric, Magician is fire, Chariot and Tower are physical, and Justice is "just ice." Rating: C DEATH is probably the worst card in the bunch. Since all it does is finish off low health enemies, which is precisely what you don't want to do (under certain playstyles.) It's a card that will very rarely get used. Rating: F PRIESTESS and EMPRESS are very handy utility cards. In fact, if you had a never-ending supply of these two, you'd probably be quite happy. However, since you can use CUREs and HEALs between battles, you want to try to save these for times when someone isn't going to survive a battle. To that effect, Priestess is usually just as good as Empress since your primary goal is to get your units to survive that one battle, and 50 health is normally enough to turn the tide. You can always mend up afterwards if you choose to. Rating: A EMPEROR is one of the nicest cards to have in your hip pocket if you're paying attention. It's *very* frustrating to fight a battle where one more attack from anyone in the unit would have been enough to finish off the last guy. Especially when you had that one attack and it was a miss. If you're counting your attacks, you can wail on your action button during the last attack and still get a chance to act before the battle ends. Emperor will let you extend the battle long enough to kill off the last dude without having to do it yourself. Rating: A- FORTUNE can be handy in a pinch, to save a unit that for whatever reason you can't afford to have run away. Maybe you need them to fight a different unit right afterwards. Maybe they're defending a town or your home base and about to lose. Maybe they'll fall off a sky island. But for all other occasions, remember, you can always retreat. Rating: C FOOL is a less useful version of Fortune. It makes everyone but the leader run away. This is handy if you need the leader dead, but except as a third-rate anti-undead card, I rarely ever use this except against bosses. Even then, it's not really necessary. Rating: D HIEROPHANT is used to put your opponents to sleep, which anyone who has ever fought a witch will tell you is very useful. You can completely shut down an entire unit (if you're lucky.) Under the right circumstances, it can keep clerics from healing, basilisks from petrifying, or just generally the opposition from hitting you. It does sometimes miss, and the enemy can be woken up from being hit, so be sure to plan your tactics accordingly to not spread around the damage too much. Rating: B LOVERS is a very closely related card. However, where hierophant disables your opponents, lovers makes them work for you instead. It carries about the same resistance rate, however the charm does not break on damage. Rating: A- TEMPERANCE is the card for getting out of problems caused by Stuns and Charms, which is basically what the last two cards are. I usually hang onto at least one temperance card at all times for when I see the dreaded witch STUN-STUN-STUN-STUN-STUN at the beginning of a fight. It's dead weight in your deck most of the time, since there aren't a ton of enemies that do things it can ward off, however it can be golden when you do need one. Rating: B MOON is a really screwball card that can be really powerful, but more often than not goes unused. Front row units are rarely good in the back, and vice versa. There are some exceptions, but what better way to mess with a good unit than to bring all the wizards to the front row? See, the problem with this is that it's likely automatically putting your unit on LEADER tactics. Even though the enemy may be less effective, you're probably also less effective at actually finishing it off. Does not work against most bosses, although I've heard it can work on Kapella. Rating: C HANGED MAN, despite being obnoxiously common, is actually not half bad. When first getting used to the game, it seems like a terrible card. It doesn't deal damage, and it doesn't keep your guys alive, however it's sort of in the same category as Emperor -- it makes your units more effective at inflicting pain. It's not totally awesome, but it can be effective. Rating: C STRENGTH is the exact opposite card. Strength does just what it sounds like it should, and strength is the only attribute that affects how much damage you take from physical attacks. More strength = less damage taken. Well, yes, and it does increase your physical damage OUTPUT as well. Rating: C+ STAR is the protective card for stopping the damage altogether. Expect to see misses galore after dropping a star. Missing is far more effective than reducing the damage, making Star the handiest defensive card, except that it doesn't help against magic attacks... Rating: B+ WORLD is the answer for that problem. It's an uncommon card, and has a powerful draw effect in addition to a rather good battle power. It staves off all non-physical damage against your units. Considering there are some battles where all you take is magic damage (like, oh, fighting Rashidi?) this is a great ace in the hole. It's also a very good answer against most units on WEAK or LEADER, since the effective ones typically use targeted attacks that don't do physical damage. Rating: A- ************************************** * VIII. Item Usage * ************************************** Items are an important part of the powergamer's arsenal. At the same time, items are rather overpowered, and you might choose to simply not use them to create more of a challenge. It's almost conceivable to beat the game with a single unit if you have a ton of items at your disposal. (This might be another interesting challenge.) There are a few general types of items. -Consumables. These are the ones that are overpowered. Items that help you heal damage between battles, revive the fallen, move your units around rapidly, charm an enemy unit to your side, or quite a few others. -Promotion items. Technically these are consumable as well, but you can't buy them, and they're vital to making very good units. If you could purchase Crowns or Staffs, you better believe I would be trying to convince you to! As it is, with only maybe 2 or 3 of each of these per full game, you'll want to make good use of your specialized units. -Equipment. When you get one of these, give it to *somebody*. There's no reason to have these rot in your inventory. -Miscellaneous Stuff. Some of the unusable items are quest-based, like the zodiac stones or the Hero Star. Others are just given to you to sell. CONSUMABLE ITEMS It's a good idea not to get too addicted to these. You can purchase them in any "shop" town, of which you'll find one on every map. The basic item is CURE, which can restore 50 HP to any character between battles. You'll get some better heals and REVIVEs as well. However, the units that can really be abusive are the ones that let you move units. BOOTS, BELL, and SUMMONS all let you do some pretty nasty things. BELLs are great for basic tactical retreats. Let's say you have 11 units and you send one out and just let it get beat on. After it's mostly dead and retreating slowly, use a bell to finish the process and send your last unit out. OK, maybe that isn't all that powerful. However, Bell can often save your butt when you've got 10 units that are all well away from your base and you realize a unit has snuck past you that you won't be able to catch. It's also about the only way to remove a friendly unit from the battlefield that is irritating you for whatever reason. (Or you could try getting it killed off completely...) BOOTS are much more dangerous, however. The ability to bring your most awesome ground unit right to the front lines and start wreaking havoc is extremely powerful. It also lets you easily defend towns you've liberated and a million other things I'm not going to go into because I don't advocate exploiting them. It also gets expensive to make a habit of using BOOTS. SUMMONS are my favorite, because of how easily they let you beat a boss. I touched on this earlier, but the basic gist is "YOURNAME has encountered the enemy!" -> pause -> SUMMONS -> watch every one of your units sequentially fight the boss without minions reviving. JOKER is another nice one to mention. At some point in the game, you're going to burn your Tarot cards and be caught without anything useful. I find this tends to especially happen on the very last level. Instant Tarot cards are always nice. If you're addicted to tarot cards, you'll buy a lot of jokers. Most of the other consumable items are of questionable value. Making it instantly day or night isn't often a big deal unless you fight with Vampyres, and the CHARM to take over an enemy unit is quite expensive. Do keep an eye in your inventory for the other things you come across, however. After a stage is over, go into a completed level with a partially empty unit to use EGGs, and use up those CHIMEs as well. PROMOTION ITEMS The most important three promotion items to be on the lookout for are CROWN, STAFF, and UNDEAD. Crown lets you make any female unit (as an amazon) into a Princess, and Staff + Undead promote a mage to sorcerer and then to lich. Undead can also be used to make zombie dragons, but I wouldn't do that unless you have a bunch of undead rings going to waste with no staffs to pair them with. Since staves are easier to come by, this isn't too likely. Other promotion items include BLOODKISS (knight to vampyre) and DRAGOS. (beast master to dragoner) Each promotion item has a way to get an isolated one as you play the game, but if you are extremely lucky and see one of these at the end of killing off a unit very early in the game, you'll have a VERY easy time throughout the rest of the game. A Princess as early as Deneb's Garden is simply amazing. Having three by Island Avalon is nuts. EQUIPMENT You can sell your equipment if you really don't want it. But why not? It makes your units more effective. Whatever you do, use it or lose it. Don't let them rot in your inventory. Pressing Select will let you see what the item actually does so you can give it to someone who can use those stats. Don't worry about matching the type of weapon it is -- knights can use whips and beast masters can use swords, no problem. If you do start selling, make sure you don't sell Brunhild. If nothing else, it's a white magic weapon, so it kills ghosts. The ability to add an elemental type to a physical attack is one of the nicer things special weapons can do. MISCELLANEOUS I tend to keep all this stuff just in case I forget what it's for. If you don't care about getting the Tablet of Yaru or some of the other more obscure items in the game, then it's not really a big deal. Collecting all 12 zodiac stones late in the game is a bit of a nuisance and more or less requires a guide to find. However, there are a few others that are quite significant, like HEROSTAR (from the second level hidden temple) and Brunhild. (hidden temple in NW Kastolatian Sea) On the other hand, quite a few are just to sell for money. Feel free to check a full walkthrough guide to find out what your Moonrose is worth. ************************************** * IX. Generic Game Knowledge * ************************************** This last section is for other things you probably should know about the game. Some are obvious items that are just not mentioned elsewhere, but are well- known. Others are more subtle information that doesn't figure in anywhere else. * Reputation does not affect battles in any way, nor do battles affect reputation. Only town liberations and the subsequent tarot cards change your reputation. * Alignment usually only plays minor roles in battles. Alignment and Charisma are the two attributes that can change without a character leveling up, based on if you are defeating enemies much above or below your level. Charisma is only for recruiting neutral encounters. Alignment is much more significant when factoring in class changes and how your reputation changes when you liberate a town. * You don't need to watch fight animations, which can make the game incredibly faster. The only time the animations will be forced to play is during boss battles. * When starting a new game, if you type in the name FIRESEAL for your leader, you will be sent to a special level with a large group of powerful units. This is the perfect chance to see what some characters you may not be used to using are like so you can decide if you want them. * MERCHANT items let you buy special stat-raising items. They are exceptionally expensive, meaning you probably won't want to buy them, however if you wanted to kill off all the units on a town-rich level and then let the game run with just your lord unit deployed, you could wrack up the tribute to cover the costs for buying a bunch of these. Bulking up your units can often make the game trivial. * If you *REALLY* want to maximize your units, you'd want to look at how many points each unit gets per level, and in many cases you would want to temporarily level a unit up as a different class altogether for a while. (This falls under my category of "too much work," but some players do this.) * Related to that, the units that accompany a special character or that you recruit are often weaker than they would be for raising it from level 1, which brings us to one last key point... RAISING AN ARMY VERSUS BUYING IT There's a lot to be said in both camps. Units that you have yourself from an early level are cheaper and usually more effective. However, they can also be a lot more work to maintain or even to simply get to promote. In particular, sylyphs, specific dragons, and units that require special items are sometimes hard to achieve without considerable patience, and it is more worth spending the money on recruiting, finding them neutrally, or using a CHARM to steal one from the enemy. There's also some consideration over how much effort you want to put into the perfect army of *exactly* the units you want. I'm a big believer in understanding the basics of the game and working with what you've got, but there are times where I'll reach for that recruit button for very specific needs. If you want to do a very in-depth analysis of which classes are better than others by looking at the numbers, I recommend checking out Deathlike2's "Unit Analysis Guide," located on GameFAQS. That guide also outlines some very specific examples of why you would want to recruit (through any means) versus using what you've got to start with. The guide is located at http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/snes/file/588541/48963 DISCLAIMERS AND FOOTNOTES (*) Actually, the comparison of high sky and low sky speeds to ground movers isn't really accurate, but it's a good rule of thumb. Low Sky units will outrun units except on their favorite land types....even then, they still outpace Plains units on open Plains, (but not roads.) (**) The commentary here about how enemy units are moved by the A.I. is not 100% absolutely and totally accurate. It's simply what happens MOST of the time, but don't trust it as Gospel truth or try to nitpick for errors. There are some minor exceptions. (***) At least, this is how it seems the programming works to me. I could be wrong, but it's a decent enough explanation to account for this behavior. If you find anything about this guide that you feel you need to contact me over -- errors, additions, confusing bits, etc. -- my e-mail address is AZUARC at ZAM.COM Be sure to include the words Ogre Battle in the subject; I get lots of spam and I'd hate to delete your e-mail.