Zihark joins in Chapter 10 with these stats:
Zihark level 10 w/Killing Edge
25HP 19ATK 107HIT 15AS 36CRIT 36AVO 6CEV 7DEF 0RES
16ATK 122HIT 15AS 6CRIT
19ATK 107HIT 13AS 6CRIT
I'll give you a moment to wipe away the tears of envy. Zihark reliably 4HKOes the enemies with the Steel Sword, and only fails to double a single Bow Knight. If he switches to the Killing Edge, he has a good chance to crit them - around 59%. This is decent offense - even a character like Oscar needs to be level 19 to 1-round them, so 2-rounding them is good offense - especially when you take into account that he can switch to the KE and has Adept.
Next chapter, we fight Ravens. Ordinarily, it's very difficult to go quickly on this chapter - since it's Rout and you can't hit the reinforcements on the turn they spawn, the only way to cut this level short is to kill the Ravens on enemy phase. But the Ravens are tough enough that few characters can do this - even Titania would need level 11 or higher to double them. However, Zihark only needs level 17 to do this - assuming he gained 1.2 levels in Chapter 11, we'd need to give him 676 BEXP. Since even in Hard Mode, we can have as much as 3400 BEXP by this point, this kind of expenditure is well within our ability. That would give him 31ATK/20AS with the Laguzslayer, assuming we let him use a +str band while we BEXPed him. It is amusing to note that even with just a 10mt Iron forge, Zihark is still capable of 1-rounding the weakest Ravens.
In comparison, if we wanted to do the same with Nephenee, assuming she gained 1.8 levels in Chapter 11, we would need to give her 1467 BEXP, more than twice as much. It is clear then, that Zihark is much better for a fast completion of Chapter 12. While Zihark does not have a significant level lead to begin with, he might develop one over Nephenee by virtue of being a better canditate for a BEXP dump, and also by being more likely to get kills against the Ravens since he can 1-round them on enemy phase. In addition, as Zihark approaches promotion, it will be obviously advantageous to accelerate him towards promotion so he can take advantage of the promotion bonuses.
Chapter 13 is a Defend chapter - it is not possible to complete it any faster than twelve turns, and the Ravens are very easy to beat to the treasure, so it is largely an opportunity for characters to gain levels.
Chapter 14 is another ugly Rout chapter, this time with Fog of War.
Zihark level 20/01 (Knight or Wyvern Band)
34HP 21ATK 140HIT 25CRT 22AS 54AVO 12DEF 4RES
24ATK 125HIT 25CRT
25ATK 125HIT 55CRT
Nephenee level 18 (Knight or Wyvern Band)
28HP 20ATK 121HIT 8CRT 17AS 43AVO 13DEF 5RES
23ATK 111HIT 8CRT
19ATK 101HIT 8CRT
Hah, this is a curbstomp. Zihark has more of everything, except DEF/RES, and he wins HP/avoid anyway so it doesn't matter. He has better movement, crit, Adept, and when it comes to the boss, he can 1-round the Tigers with the Laguzslayer. We get Vantage in this level - Zihark has both Adept and good crit rate, so he's obviously one of our best choices. The only serious alternative is Stefan, who is unlikely to be fielded long-term and has an inferior skill (Astra).
Chapter 15 is Desert. Neither are really very good here or contribute much to completion (since Marcia will probably fly in to assassinate Muarim). But in Chapter 16, we have another sterling opportunity for Zihark to continue with kicking Nephenee's ass.
Zihark 20/3 (Knight or Wyvern Band), C Brom C Ilyana
35HP 22ATK 145HIT 25CRIT 23AS 67AVO 14DEF 5RES
25ATK 130HIT 25CRIT
26ATK 130HIT 55CRIT
Nephenee 20/1 (Knight or Wyvern Band), C Brom
33HP 23ATK 127HIT 8CRIT 20AS 51AVO 16DEF 8RES
26ATK 117HIT 8CRIT
22ATK 107HIT 8CRIT
Enemy stats are actually available for this chapter. The enemies are very underwhelming here - with a Steel Sword, Zihark 1-rounds everything but the Knights. But Nephenee is in the same position - except that while no Heavy Spear yet exists, there is an Armourslayer. Zihark with the Armourslayer 2HKOes the weaker Armourknights, and has a good 63% chance to proc Adept or crit. In fact, since he even 3HKOes the boss, he's a good canditate to try and kill him quickly.
Let's look forward to Chapter 18.
Zihark 20/5 (Knight or Wyvern Band), C Brom C Ilyana
36HP 26ATK 132HIT 26CRIT 24AS 69AVO 15DEF 5RES
Nephenee 20/3 (Knight or Wyvern Band) B Brom
34HP 28ATK 125HIT 10CRIT 21AS 57AVO 18DEF 9RES
Again, this comparison seems fairly close. Zihark needs to switch to Silver for Halberdiers, Nephenee needs it for Warriors. Neither 2HKO Knights/Generals. Zihark dodges more, but Nephenee can take more hits. But while Zihark can rely on his crit and Adept/Vantage to take down difficult enemies and bolster his durability, Nephenee cannot. Interestingly, we also see the return of Ravens in this chapter - and Zihark doubles them without even trying, while Nephenee needs some more levels or the KW.
Let's go forward again to Chapter 23:
Zihark level 20/10 (Knight or Wyvern Band), B Brom, C Ilyana, B Muarim
39HP 21+1STR 25SKL 28SPD 14LUK 16+2DEF 5+2RES
35ATK 144HIT 27CRIT 100AVO
Nephenee level 20/9 (Knight or Wyvern Band) A Brom
38HP 20+1STR 23SKL 25SPD 11LUK 19+1DEF 10+1RES
36ATK 139HIT 11CRIT 68AVO
Now, Nephenee is winning attack and defense, but not by a significant margin. 34ATK is enough to 2HKO all but a handful of units - Zihark will miss the Wyvern Riders (which he can pull out the Sonic Sword to kill), and the Cats. However, Nephenee needs to switch to the Silver forge for some of these enemies herself, and unlike Zihark, she can't rely on Adept/crit to kill them with plain Silver (this is the first chapter we can forge Silver weapons, so they will obviously be at a premium). Zihark also has a durability lead - even the strongest Wyvern Lord only 3HKOes him (at a hilarious 15 display hit, and Zihark has a ~33% chance to critical him before he can even be touched). In fact, most enemies can't touch Zihark - many enemies have less than 100 hit, so Zihark doesn't even need to stay near the relatively frail Ilyana. Nephenee is by no means frail, but she can die if too many enemies attack her. When most enemies have less than a 5% chance to hit him, Zihark could potentially take on the entire level without dying.
Lets go forward to the end of the game:
Zihark level 20/15 (Wyvern or Knight Band), B Brom, C Ilyana, B Muarim
42HP 23+1STR 6MAG 27SKL 30SPD 16LUK 17+2DEF 6+2RES
37ATK 152HIT 28CRIT 106AVO
Nephenee level 20/14 (Wyvern or Knight Band), A Brom
40HP 22+1STR 8MAG 26SKL 26AS 12LUK 21+1DEF 11+1RES
38ATK 146HIT 13CRIT 71AVO
Between his Silver (plain and forged), Zihark is fine against most of the enemies in the last two chapters, as is Nephenee. However, how do they do against the problem enemies?
2x Dragon lv 12 (breath)
54 hp, 43 atk, 17 AS, 131 hit, 37 avo, 29 def, 24 res, 9 crit, 3 cev
2x Dragon lv 13 (breath)
54 hp, 45 atk, 19 AS, 133 hit, 41 avo, 30 def, 25 res, 10 crit, 3 cev
1x Dragon lv 16 (breath)
61 hp, 48 atk, 21 AS, 138 hit, 46 avo, 32 def, 27 res, 11 crit, 4 cev
1x Dragon lv 15 (breath)
59 hp, 46 atk, 19 AS, 136 hit, 42 avo, 31 def, 26 res, 10 crit, 4 cev
2x Dragon lv 17 (breath)
59 hp, 48 atk, 21 AS, 143 hit, 47 avo, 33 def, 28 res, 12 crit, 5 cev
Ouch! These bastards 2HKO both Zihark and Nephenee... but they have 25-33HIT on Zihark and 60-67HIT on Nephenee. That's ~13-22% real on Zihark and ~68-79% on Nephenee! That's a scary difference - Nephenee is four times as likely to get hit as Zihark is. What's more, Zihark also has better offense against these monsters. Nephenee is 4HKOing the weakest ones, and 5HKOing the more average ones, 6HKOing the very strongest. If Zihark uses his Silver forge, he has one less attack, but a 25% chance to crit and a 30% chance to proc adept. He's very likely to kill any of these Dragons in two rounds, even the very strong ones that he 7HKOes - he needs to crit once and proc Adept once. He has a 76% chance to proc Adept once, and in those five attacks, another 76% chance to crit once, for a ~58% chance to 2-round these tough enemies. That's not considering the possibility he crits twice or Adepts three times.
It's also worth noting that Heddwyn has 15CRIT/34ATK/122HIT. So while he can barely hit Zihark (lol, 5.28% true hit) and cannot crit him, he has 3CRIT on Nephenee and 2HKOes, so she's at risk of instantly getting blicked.
1x Cat lv 13 (claw)
46 hp, 29 atk, 21 AS, 129 hit, 45 avo, 18 def, 9 res, 9 crit, 3 cev
3x Cat lv 15 (claw)
46 hp, 30 atk, 21 AS, 132 hit, 46 avo, 21 def, 10 res, 9 crit, 4 cev
2x Tiger lv 15 (claw)
48 hp, 35 atk, 19 AS, 134 hit, 42 avo, 23 def, 10 res, 10 crit, 4 cev
1x Tiger lv 16 (claw)
50 hp, 34 atk, 20 AS, 136 hit, 44 avo, 22 def, 10 res, 10 crit, 4 cev
More tough enemies. Nephenee's 1ATK is not enough to translate into 1-rounding these, but Zihark can switch over to the Vague Katti for massive crit and a great chance to kill them, or simply rely on 24% crit and 30% adept to proc (a 72% chance). And again, Zihark wins durability - he gets 3HKOed to Nephenee's 4HKOed, but like the dragons, they're many times more likely to hit Nephenee, especially when you factor in the 24% possibility of Zihark critting on his Vantage.
So, Zihark > Nephenee. Zihark begins with a solid statistical advantage, being able to double Ravens with far less BEXP. This continues, where due to being a better BEXP canditate and having a higher base level, Zihark will promote earlier and be able to extend his statistical superiority. While Nephenee can catch up later, she falters against many of the tough lategame laguz, since she lacks a decent innate skill or the critical to take advantage of Vantage. In addition, Zihark beats her in durability later on, since while she has a minor defense lead, he has far better avoid and can use Vantage defensively.
Edited by Slowking, 21 June 2010 - 04:20 PM.