"Battle Before Dawn" is Chapter 26 (in Eliwood Mode) or 28 (in Hector Mode) of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. Although it's not too hard on other difficulties, its Hector Hard Mode incarnation is widely regarded as one of the hardest levels in the Fire Emblem franchise and easily the hardest in the game.
The player's army must keep Zephiel alive for 15 turns while dozens of Black Fang assassins attempt to kill him.
Why It Sucks
Note: This will focus on the Hector Hard Mode variation of the level.
- It has fog of war, which obscures enemies within the fog. This gameplay element is extremely unfair, since although you can't attack nor see enemies in the fog, they can see and attack your units.
- Zephiel has terrible stats and WILL get killed if you don't reach him in time. This means that the level can become impossible if you don't have strong mounted units.
- The two recruitable units are also a pain to keep alive and recruit:
- Nino is a mage of the Est archetype: weak, late-joining characters with great potential. To recruit her, you must speak to her with the main Lord (Eliwood or Hector) or Lyn. She will easily get killed if you don't reach her in time.
- Jaffar is an assassin with amazing stats. To recruit him, you must first speak to him with Nino and then keep him alive for the rest of the chapter. Although he is much stronger than Nino, he has to face many more enemies and his survival depends on your luck.
- To access the optional chapter, you must talk to Jaffar with Nino and keep both of them alive.
- Powerful and numerous enemies who take a lot of effort to kill.
- Speaking about enemies, the bosses, Maxime and Ursula are even worse: Maxime has actually great stats for a random boss and greatly slows down your progress and Ursual has great movement and a long-ranged tome and can even double Zephiel despite her tome being extremely heavy.
- And to top it all off, Zephiel goes on to become the main villain of Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, set 20 years after this game, which is borderline insulting to those who have been through this ordeal of a chapter.