Update 89: Bloodied and Only Moderately Broken

♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

Welcome back. Today, we've got Black Market Scheme: Maddening Edition. This paralogue took me a double-digit amount of hours to clear on this difficulty. It made me worry that this is where doing the latter two runs of the LP on Maddening was going to die.
♪ As Swift as Wind ♪

Skipping over the story bits we've already seen.

So, on the surface, this map doesn't look any different on Maddening, aside from the obvious increased enemy stats. There's no extra start-of-map enemies—and honestly, thank the gods for that, I don't want to think about what this shit would be like with even one more initial enemy to contend with.

Baron Ochs has either +6 or +7 Str compared to Hard, depending on when you decide to do Black Market Scheme, in addition to +7 AS. Unfortunately for him, he's still limited to 1 range, so counterattacks aren't what you have to worry about with him.

First time we've seen an enemy sniper this run, I think. On Maddening, in addition to Poison Strike, enemy snipers have Vantage, which...does nothing to help with their severe weakness to 1 range attacks, but can complicate matters when you're finishing them off from range. Always be aware of enemies with Vantage.

Similarly, I don't think we've seen enemy warlocks on Maddening yet. They've got Seal Defense.

Seal Defense: If unit damages foe during combat, foe suffers Def -6 for 1 turn after combat.

Honestly, I fear enemy dark mage/dark bishops' Seal Strength a lot more. Your magic users likely already have abominable Def, and weapon-users stand a decent shot of killing warlocks before they can even counterattack. It's not much better on the enemy phase, since any situation where a warlock's Seal Defense debuff causes you to lose a unit means you've already severely fucked up your tactics in a difficulty-independent way.

Enemy bishops on Maddening have...sigh. Miracle. Because fuck you, I guess.

After many, many failures, this is the group I eventually decided upon. If you're curious about the adjutants: Annette is assigned to Dedue, Flayn is assigned to Dimitri, and Sylvain is assigned to Felix.

I'm actually going to take some time to explain my unit choices and deployment positions for once. I arrived at these unit and position choices after a lot of trial and error. For the record, the three blue icons with weapons in them on the right are Adan (sword), Balthus (fists), and Hapi (dark magic).
♪ No music ♪

I'm ready.

♪ The Shackled Wolves ♪

The aforementioned one-shot that needs a little luck. This'd be so much easier without Tomebreaker in the mix.

Well, that was the best possible outcome.

These four jerks down here are perfectly set up to get rattled by a Resonant gambit.

It's almost unfair.

The mercenary right next to Balthus will attempt to hit him on the enemy phase, but even if he hits, he will die on the counterattack.

Ingrid using a bow serves a dual purpose here: it allows her to avoid a counterattack from the cavalier she just killed, and makes her a priority target for the enemy AI.

Felix, thankfully, is only in range of the archer below him, so he won't get hit that hard on the enemy phase.

Incidentally, part of the reason Felix has Sylvain as an adjutant is to allow him to one-round these archers. Without Sylvain, Felix would need to activate the Crest of Fraldarius to one-round them, and I don't feel like gambling on that.

Part of the reason Lysithea has the Authority prowess on is so that her use of Resonant Lightning can kill the brigand she targets with it, saving someone else a turn later on.

The cavalier could easily defeat Lysithea, but a combination of Lysithea having Dark Spikes Τ equipped (which would kill the cavalier after the first attack) and Ingrid having a bow equipped (meaning she can't counterattack at melee range) means the cavalier will go for Ingrid instead, who can take the hit and avoid being doubled.

Dimitri's got a short spear equipped so that Dedue can attack the bishop at melee range later.

Dimitri moving out of his spawn area causes this group of reinforcements to spawn. The paladin between the brawlers is Maddening-only.

The Mt boosts Dedue gets from Dimitri (support bonuses plus Charm) means that, if both of his attacks connect, the bishop will die, even with a Miracle activation on the first hit.

Marianne heads south to draw this mage's attention.

Hapi will easily get doubled by the other brigand, but she'll kill him on the first counterattack.

Pain time.

The armored knights near Dimitri and Dedue move north.

A very important exact kill there. I'm not entirely sure why the archer decided to attack at two range—maybe their Hit just wasn't good enough at three range. It's not a matter of movement, they could've easily moved one tile more to attack at three range.

I am incredibly lucky that the mage that went after Marianne acts before this brigand does, and that the AI isn't particularly smart. The mage probably could've finished Hapi off if he took his action before the brigand.

As expected, Balthus lightly slaps the adjacent mercenary, and kills him.

This may look like a clusterfuck. It's not.

Thank you, Annette. That's one advantage of making units who don't need Fiendish Blow priests instead of mages, incidentally—priests can give adjutant heals.

The combination of Dimitri and Annette's supports almost give Dimitri 100 Hit on this very important Blaze.

This brawler is a bit hard to hit on the grass tile, hence Dimitri going for the high-Hit option.

That level is almost perfect. Almost.

Defenseless, are we?

Sure, save a use of that bow.

Why yes, Ingrid's position is very exact and the tactics leading to it were the result of a lot of trial and error, why do you ask?

Letting the mage live and attack Lysithea over the brigand is a no-brainer.

Things may look like they're somewhat settling down.

They're not.

We've only just begun.

Hapi uses her turn on healing Felix instead of attacking.

You'd think the mage near Marianne would go after Hapi, given that she's at 5 HP. Nah, he's gonna go after Felix, because he can't counterattack. Sure.

That level makes me very happy. Exactly what she needs right now.

I could've had Marianne heal Hapi, but I had her attack instead.

I accidentally lost the footage of the rest of the player phase. Sorry! The rest of what happened was Adan and Balthus killed the other two units near them.

We begin the enemy phase with Lysithea getting what, for me, is a perfect level.

Everything's still going according to plan, nothing getting out of control.

Not the time, Dedue, you can get bad levels later, please work with me right now.

Thank you, Annette, you really needed that HP, Lck, and nothing else.

The brawler is certainly going to die trying to attack either Dimitri or Dedue, so Dimitri instead hits the paladin with a short spear.

Constance can't kill one of those armored knights without the other one being able to kill her on the enemy phase, so, sadly, I have to resort to using Bolting on an armored knight.

Her moving up here causes her area's reinforcements to spawn, which either Balthus is going to draw the attention of. Mercifully, none of the reinforcements can reach Constance.

The warrior in the reinforcements is Maddening-only.

The assassin is too far to hit with Ashes and Dust, but hitting the thief and especially the warrior is still good.

Incidentally, this is the limit of how far Balthus and Adan can go without triggering their area's reinforcements.


Marianne's position blocks the north mage from getting within attacking range of Hapi, meaning it's safe for Hapi to finish off that mage.

Lysithea, as always, makes for a decent backup healer, even without Physic.

Ingrid will draw the armored knight away from Constance, which will give Constance some breathing (and moving) room.

Mag, not Spd. You're never going to be fast.

Even with a steel weapon, assassins are still very capable of doubling basically everyone I have. They're really dangerous.

That's all of the enemies near Dimitri and Dedue taken care of, giving them the ability to move elsewhere.

Ultimately, what killed this assassin, more than anything, was him not having Axebreaker+. That would've served him way better than either Pass or Poison.

Oh, yeah, assassins on Maddening have Poison, in addition to Pass.

Poison: Chance to inflict poison on foe when dealing damage. Trigger % = Dex stat.

A rare instance of mercy from 3H's designers regarding enemy Maddening abilities. Literally any other ability would've been more threatening.

Adan gets in front of Balthus to finish off the warrior.

Constance uses her increased range to snipe the thief.

Almost done, right? WRONG.

With most of the initial threat out of the way, I'm going to start moving everyone closer to this northwest area of the map.

Healing up to prepare for what's coming.

One empty enemy phase later...

Hoo boy. Here's the major change of this paralogue on Maddening: the reinforcements force-spawn happens at the beginning of the player phase on turn 5, rather than during the enemy phase on turn 6—which, given that they couldn't act on spawn on lower difficulties, basically makes them spawn two turns earlier. There's also an extra brawler and grappler in Adan and Balthus's area, and an extra sniper in Lysithea's area.

The only mercy you get with this is that the reinforcements spawn during the player phase, meaning you at least have time to reposition before they can start acting. A band-aid over having two less effective turns before they spawn in...

Dedue's gonna bait out the western units.

Dimitri and Ingrid get in position to give him support bonuses.

Constance burns her last Bolting to support Felix, Hapi, and Marianne—except she doesn't! Crest of Noa! Hell yeah.

A well-timed point of Str.

Again, Sylvain's support boosts let Felix kill that bishop without having to rely on the Crest of Fraldarius activating.

Hapi can't kill the sniper, sadly... But, Banshee Θ roots the sniper in place, preventing him from attacking her, and putting him just out of range of both Felix and Marianne.

Additionally, the fact that the sniper is still within melee range of Hapi prevents the thief from reaching her, and Marianne is able to run out of said thief's attack range. The thief could've easily killed both of them, so this is a big relief.

Ashes and Dust lets Balthus kill that warlock, and lock the thief and grappler in place, all of whom are more dangerous to him than the brawler that's targeting him.

I did the best I could. Let's hope it pays off.

That's a really dangerous deathball these guys are forming.

With nothing else to do, the thief I neutered runs west.

This sniper...heads north, perplexingly.

Well, that was smooth.

I swear I did not do RNG manipulation through Divine Pulse for that, I just got a second activation of the Crest of Noa on Bolting through sheer luck.

This seriously is a perfect position for Constance, it's incredibly difficult for enemies to approach her here.

I can't outright these two without getting in range of the deathball, so I have Dimitri rattle them instead, to soften them up.

Equipping Dark Spikes Τ will let Lysithea one-shot the incoming cavalier with her counterattack.

Dedue moving up to kill that brigand has the side effect of blocking off the deathball from being able to reach Dimitri.

Constance's position also lets Hapi finally get her above 6 HP.

Thank you for hogging Hapi's melee range and saving her from that thief, you can die now.

Marianne's level from chip-healing Felix is very bad.

A bit of luck lets Balthus one-round the brawler.


And now the sniper is moving in the direction of where my units are. I don't get it.

Balthus is one slippery himbo.

We're down to only a few enemies left, but unfortunately, the remaining ones are spread out, making it hard to take them out with one swift blow.

Lysithea can take out the paladin without being in range of the faraway enemies, at least.


Dimitri smacks the mercenary with a short spear. He can't kill him, but...

Dedue gets +5 Mt here—+2 from Dimitri's support bonuses, and +3 from Charm. Either one of them would give Dedue enough Mt to one-round this warlock.

First good Balthus level in a while.

Constance is finally moving from her little crevice.

These three are also finally free to leave their area.

If you're confused how the thief suddenly got in front of Adan: remember, enemy thieves've got Pass on Maddening.

Dimitri's got so much Str that I'm gonna go ahead and call this an excellent level.

That slippery thief is dead.

...And, unfortunately, I again lost the rest of the player phase, as well as me baiting out and killing Baron Ochs's assistants. My deepest apologies, again, but thankfully that wasn't a lot of action.

...My punishment is this shit happening.

At this point while recording, I realized that I'd lost footage (because I stopped recording in OBS to go do something else and forgot to start it again when I came back to the game), so I rewound to before I killed the assistants. All (well, most, still missing moving everyone into place) is well!

Instead of baiting Ochs out with Dedue, let's use Bolting.


Now that Ochs is missing HP, let's try Dedue again.


Fine, Three Houses, have it your way. I'll just let those three come up to me.

That's the attendants killed.
♪ Wrath Strike ♪

And now the forlorn beast spawns in. This thing has either +7 or +8 Str compared to Hard, and either +7 or +8 Spd (again, depending on when you do the paralogue).

Unfortunately for it, I still have gambits.

Remember, effective weapons immediately break armor tiles.

I almost broke the forlorn beast's armor, but I was one attack short.

Thankfully, it goes after a full-HP Dimitri on the enemy phase, for some reason.

There, that's an armor break.

Time to bring the pain.

♪ No music ♪

Jesus christ, what a mess. That may have looked smooth, but again, please remember, this took me a double-digit amount of hours to finally beat.

♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

...Ugh. Rumored Nupitals is nowhere near as bad as Black Market Scheme, but it's still not fun on Maddening.

Next time... Well, Rumored Nupitals.

This update brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my LPs on Patreon:

Next Update
Previous Update
Table of Contents
Support the LPs on Patreon