Update (22 May 2017): I previously posted incorrect information about where to obtain Rescue staves in Conquest. I have updated my original post with the correct details this time.
Original: Not a lot of gamers are going to complete Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest on Lunatic difficulty. Many players will probably give up on Chapter 25 and the Endgame chapter, where the game suddenly reaches a huge difficulty spike. Because of the way the Conquest route is designed, if you enter those Lunatic chapters without foreknowledge of what is on the map, and without the necessary characters and skills to overcome them, it becomes impossible.
This is almost the reverse of Fire Emblem Awakening’s Lunatic difficulty, where the missions are insanely difficult from the start due to the inflated stats of enemy units + weapons they have equipped. The requirements for completing the early chapters of Awakening on Lunatic are very narrow and specific.
In Lunatic Conquest, the game is perfectly playable and winnable from Chapters 7 to 24. As long as you have a reasonably balanced line-up, and use basic common-sense tactics and strategy, you can complete each mission without casualties, even without knowledge of reinforcements. Difficult for some chapters (Chapters 10, 20, and 24 come to mind), but still winnable. And then you reach Chapter 25.
It gets even worse. For the Endgame chapter (i.e. Chapter 28), the requirements of winning that map on Lunatic are suddenly very narrow and specific. It’s a race against time to reach the final boss — reinforcements will constantly appear from the sides, and they are neverending. And yet, the boss is surrounded by a full variety of different enemy units:
1. Oni Chieftains near your central starting position
2. Mages and Malig Knights on the right flank
3. Powerful physical attackers on the left flank — Heroes, Generals with hammers, Ninjas with Inevitable End
4. High movement Paladins paired up with other Paladins and Malig Knights near the final boss
5. Maids and Great Masters with Staff Savant AND Inevitable End, spread out to cover every angle of approach towards the final boss
The most common method of winning the Endgame on Lunatic is to completely bypass all of these threats, and head straight for the boss by using the notorious “Rescue chain” method. I managed to replicate it with some slight modifications in the recorded video below (you can view it on the YouTube page itself and read the video description for a detailed explanation of what is required):
Now, many players are going to consider this as a “cheese tactic”, a huge bending of the rules. Leapfrogging and bypassing an entire group of enemies just to kill the boss? That’s cheating, right? After giving it a lot of afterthought, I have this weird niggling feeling that Intelligent Systems might have designed the Endgame chapter to be cheesed after all. Think about it:
1. You get exactly two Rescue staves in your entire Conquest playthrough. The first one is obtained on Chapter 9, the second one on Chapter 20. You can get a third Rescue staff from SpotPass rewards in MyCastle, but the requirements to obtain it are fairly high. Two staves are enough.
Two Rescue staff-users are needed to perform the Rescue chain for the Endgame, two staves can be obtained normally from earlier Chapters. This cannot be a coincidence.
2. Look at the positioning of the first Dragon Vein closest to your group in the Endgame. I was initially very curious, and kept pondering to myself: Why is this Vein positioned like this, slightly off-centre, and towards the left side? That’s when I noticed that the Vein was just out of reach of the top-central Maid’s Staff Savant range (she’ll cast Freeze). Again, this cannot be a coincidence. It’s almost as if IntSys were giving players a big clue.
3. You get two Entrap staves in your entire Conquest playthrough.
– One charge is most certainly needed on Chapter 23, in order to pull one of the Great Masters off the staircase square on the right-side battlements. This will allow you to ascend the battlements and pull the Snipers and Spear Masters (and eventually, Oboro’s group) safely. If things get hectic, you can retreat back down the staircase, heal up, and slowly repeat the process.
– Another charge can also be used on Chapter 25, to Entrap the furthest Lunge-Automaton in the left-central room. After killing it, you can safely use someone like Benny to pull the Ninjas and remaining Automaton to attack you, but you’ll still remain outside the Lunge range of the next Lunge-Automatons in the room above.
I used a slightly different method without Entrap: I froze both Lunge-Automatons in the room, and used Benny to kill the Samurai pairs on the narrow right corridor. It’s a slower and more dangerous method, because you still need the rest of your lineup + possibly more Freeze charges to keep Benny alive against the other Samurai and Ninjas that will start entering the room to finish him off.
– The third Entrap charge (one of your staves will break by then, leaving you with one more staff) will most likely be used on Chapter 26 to pull Hans out of his room into the central-right hallway (the vertical hallway with the staircase at the end). This allows you to take him out safely first, away from his two General bodyguards, who both have Countermagic AND Wary Fighter. The two Generals can then be pulled to attack you on that hallway with their Spears.
Again, this cannot be a mere coincidence. A trick spot that allows you to engage Hans and his bodyguards first?
– Thus, this leaves you with your final Entrap charge for the Endgame chapter, in case you don’t have any characters with Pass to help ferry the second Rescue pair past the blockade of Generals on the left.
4. The Witch DLC seems to be exclusively-designed to make it easy for players to complete the Endgame chapter. You can abuse it to give everyone on your lineup Warp. Even if your Corrin and Witch Ophelia can’t kill the boss in two attacks, just Warp in the remainder of your team to finish him off. Again, it feels cheap having to rely on a DLC to win. But some Japanese players have managed to beat the Endgame chapter long before the Witch DLC came out. This is just an additional tool, an extra option to help you beat Lunatic Conquest.
I still have mixed feelings after finishing Lunatic Conquest. I’m very satisfied at beating the hardest challenge of Fire Emblem: Fates, and yet there’s a part of me that still feels like IntSys have done a bad job with this sort of “bait-and-switch” game design. A final boss that can only be defeated if you have the right skills, the right items, and the right character stats? That’s pushing the boundaries of acceptable game design for a turn-based tactical game.
If you’re playing on Lunatic and get stuck on Chapter 25 or the Endgame, don’t feel ashamed to lower the difficulty down to Hard or Normal. You made it this far with your own individual effort, only to get screwed by IntSys’s sadistic game design. That’s already a commendable achievement.
If you’re playing Conquest just for the story, or don’t have time to invest nearly 200+ hours into the campaign (not counting restarts — trust me, you will reset a lot), I recommend just playing on Hard or even Normal mode from the start. Hard mode is still challenging, especially for a first blind playthrough. But enemies won’t have Inevitable End on Hard, making the Endgame chapter much more manageable to complete without a Rescue chain.
I’ll take a short break from Fates, before moving on to both Birthright and Revelation on Lunatic. And then I’ll finally be done with this game. #NightBreaksThrough