"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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. He also never attacks unless he's attacked first, which means that even the weakest enemies will be able to kill him by reducing his health little by little.
  3. 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 (though you'll barely need to train her since FE7's endgame is fairly easy, and you get stronger wizards much earlier, such as Erk and Pent). 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. Also, despite her having one of the strongest Anima tomes in the game, she struggles to kill even Light wizards, which are at a disadvantage against Anima in the trinity of magic.
      • To add insult to injury, Nino isn't promoted when you get her, meaning that she will fall behind other magic users who get the chance to promote earlier, like Erk, Pent, Lucius, Serra and Priscilla, as Guiding Rings are scarce late in the game. She can't even use staves, which are extremely useful to have.
    • 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. Doing so will unlock chapter 26x, where you will be able to recruit him normally. Although he is much stronger than Nino, he has to face many more enemies and his survival depends on your luck.
  4. Powerful and numerous enemies who take a lot of effort to kill. The worst offenders are the Heroes, who first appear in this chapter and are notoriously strong in Fire Emblem 7, unless the player has an armored unit like Oswin and Wallace or a magic user like Canas or Erk.
  5. 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 Ursula has great movement and a long-ranged tome and can even double Zephiel despite her tome being extremely heavy. Oh, and did we mention that in the last turns she begins to move?
  6. 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.

Redeeming Quality

  1. There is a Rescue staff in one of the chests next to Zephiel's room. If you can, get it and use it to warp Zephiel to safety. Use then the Rescue function near him to keep him safe until the mission is finished. To make things easier, hide the unit carrying him with a bunch of powerful units in the room where the staff is concealed, then leave one sword user, one axe user and one mage near the entrance to kill eventual enemies.
  2. It's possible to kill Ursula before she starts moving: if the player gets into a range of 3 tiles or less from her, she won't be able to cast her long-range Bolting spell, allowing a strong Physical attacker like Lyn, Harken or Raven to kill her before she can react. Be sure to not let her attack you more than five times with Bolting, as it will break afterwards, and she will switch to a normal magic tome, which allows her to counter and is much lighter, meaning that she will have an even easier time doubling even characters like Lyn, Jaffar, Karel and Harken.


Worst Levels Ever 12

Worst Levels Ever 12

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