Finished! I found the late stages were not all that difficult; having an entire team of 4th-class characters with some 5th-class was sufficient.
I found this was the last tricky stage. The beginning is tough because of the meteor users at the center. I was able to take out one with ballistae when he decided to come through the wall at me, but the other one I had to take the long way around.
Bernhardt can either be killed or approached with Jessica; I just took him out again. Now we have Riana and Lana back — I was going to make one an Agent and one a Summoner, but I only got the Agent.
In this stage you have to find the Holy Rod in one of the rooms and then carry it out (or beat all enemies). If you leave the rod the enemies will try to get it sometimes rather than fighting you, which wastes their turns. Hein has finally gotten Zone, which removes the enemy stat bonuses — this was a very common and useful spell in L1 PCE but I think they realized how good it was and made it much rarer and harder to get.
I tried to have Lana and Riana use monks in this stage to raise their levels; it’s a bit difficult because it leaves them so exposed to the enemies and the monks are pretty weak, but I did manage to get Lana to class 5. Lester sat in the water to distract the other enemies while I went across the bridge.
This is a wide open space with a lot of horsemen. I intended to do a lot of levelling with Phalanxes, but it turned out that I wasn’t careful enough about protecting my commanders and many of them died. Rather than restarting I decided just to finish the stage with the remaining units, assuming I was strong enough now to win the game without everyone being at class 5.
On the first turn, I used Hein and Lester’s ballistae to eliminate all six of the meteor users hiding in the walls. Once they’re all gone the rest of the forces aren’t too bad — Egbert is somewhat powerful and he only took a while because I was trying to use Lana and Riana a lot.
Final stage. At first I tried to use only the commanders and make a rush for Bernhardt but that obviously didn’t work. Next time I played normally and it was pretty easy — I destroyed Bernhardt’s throne with a meteor, then used Magic Arrow and Lightning to get him down to 3 HP. Elwin finished him off.
The final sequence has different endings for each character — there’s a good and best ending based on their kills, and then a bad twist if they died during the game. I don’t know the complete formulas but I know this is in Der Langrisser as well.
Wrap-up to follow.