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Yeah, no contest. The curious thing about Plasma Wave is that you see Dumas use it in the demo, just leave the game hanging in the title screen for a while and you'll see it. Makes no sense at all, but looks pretty neat. Shame this game has so many unique abilities restricted to few characters, definitely understandable given its length though.
Regarding the ambush by the Crimson Guard in the town? I believe it has to do with barricading one side of the area where you start in, so they all get funneled in slowly and you can crush them a couple units at a time. I think they also recommend having a Dragoon take the hits on the front line, although their magic defense is so extraordinarily low that you have to find a way to take out the magic users quickly.
Alternatively, you could abuse the level up trick on the map before you take on Magnus.