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Released in March 1997, Vandal Hearts is one of the first strategy RPGs released in North America. The game features a simple two-path class system of advancement and good mission variety. As Ash Lambert, third battalion leader of the Ishtarian Security Forces, you help unravel a conspiracy that threatens to destroy Ishtaria.


Best time: 5:35 by Tony 'Zenicreverie' Foster on 2010-09-06.

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Author's comments:

1-1: Pretty straight-forward, move into position to draw Zoot Gach out, then kill him next turn.

Need to check in at headquarters and the tavern before the next stage. No time to update my gear.

1-2: I pick up a bow so I don't have to spend the gold on it during the next shopping trip. I move Diego into a position to be attacked by all airmen, and put Ash and Clint back to back so they won't be targeted.

I get new equipment to make sure I'm completely outfitted for the next few stages.

1-3: I knew this one was going to be one of the hardest to get right since it's a pretty hard fight just going into it. I managed to get through without anyone dying. I use a lot of terrain defense in order to take less damage. I pick up the fire gem for later.

1-4: Poison was a big concern. I took some bad luck when Kira got poisoned wasting some time, but everything else went well. I do my best to minimize enemy attacks by staying out of range of the archers. If Ash isn't fully healed the last two bats will attack him instead of Kira.

1-5: Not much to say, short level. I stay out of the way of the arms and take the ant down as quickly as possible. I equip Grog and buy a Fire Gem for later as I end the segment.

1-6: I found this strategy by randomly moving people around and seeing how the pirates reacted. I noticed that the right side of the ship just stood there if I moved everyone far away enough, so that's what I did.

2-1: This went exactly as planned. However, if I had a chance to do this again, there's a strategy that I didn't test out. It's choking one side and spellbinding a villager. I'm not sure how long spellbind can be stretched to, but it's worth checking out as it reduces enemy movement. I'm doing my best to get as many people up to level 10 as possible as it allows them to get a class change that increases their movement spaces.

2-2: The key transfers are everyone except Grog. I don't bother getting equipment because I'd need to do that with the next three characters as well. The block from the last fighter is unfortunate, but everything else went well. The moonpie from last stage causes the mood ring to go into the depot. No poison is good.

2-3: I sell all my old useless stuff and get equipment as well as advance the remaining party. I use the mood ring to give magic to Amon and take out one group of enemies. Everything else goes well and according to plan.

2-4: Arguably one of the hardest stages. I break down and use the in-battle save feature to split up the luck. I place my guys in order to direct the archers, and get only the minimum number of people to the end. Although Sara survives too, it doesn't slow my down too much since she's a fast moving ninja. I would change getting the mood ring in this level. I had originally planned to use it in the next stage, but I found a different strategy, and ended up not finding another use for it.

Note: A short word about the exploit. I didn't test it because I thought it would take too long to do, and others agreed. I later timed it and found that it would only take about 35 - 40 minutes to do. Overall, I estimate it would save 35 - 40 minutes if not up to 1 hour. This was after I was long past this segment though, so I decided to complete the run. I hope this run can stand as a separate category because it requires such varied strategies.

2-5: Nothing really fancy going on. I position everyone to best take advantage of combat bonuses and avoid weaknesses. My goal is to take out Magnus. The previous strategy had my guys hugging one side, and was a turn slower, but no one died. Such a thing shouldn't matter, so I went with this.

2-6: Here's where those fire gems come in handy. The dogs run away and are hard to catch if you don't have any hawk knights. I do my best to position the final seven into two groups. Amon can have a bad level up stat where he actually won't kill all four dogs.

3-1: This is such a simple level, I'm not even sure why they put it in. Turn 1 (Enemy) finish. I don't think it's possible to lose this level.

How many people have forgotten to advance Zohar? *raises hand*

3-2: It's very easy to lose this level. I need to get Zohar as much experience as possible. to be at the right levels for the stage after next and the following. He and Eleni become the MVPs for the rest of the game. Some time wasted before when I had to drop the mood ring.

3-3: This can be a difficult stage if one didn't advance Zohar. Bats now paralyze, the enemy mage hurts... a lot, and you can't end the level by killing Zoot. I needed to drop the mood ring last segment because I need to pick up and use the Unicorn this stage. I'm leveling Sara and Huxley constantly in order to keep them relevant, and to make sure they don't become targets.

3-4: Again, randomly moving around the stage, I found the enemy use this very bad formation. Bad for them that is. Depending on how Zohar's stats level upped, he'll either kill everyone here, or leave them all with 1 HP. This caused me to redo the previous segment many times. The second phase shift, while taking longer to end the stage, gets me enough exp to cast it three times next stage.

3-5: Phase Shift 3 times. Ash cleans up. Ash says, "Just a little bit longer..." I say, no thanks.

3-6: Eleni gains levels fast, and after getting Phase Shift she cleans out the stage.

3-7: Dumas can be difficult. This is the one stage Ash can die on and it won't end the level. Dumas will come down once a certain number of enemies are destroyed. I split this from the last level after I finished my turn because sometimes Eleni's stats would be bad.

I make a short segment to deal with equipment because I got tired of doing all of this and then failing the stage.

4-1: Escape the city by sacrificing everyone, except Ash. I have Clint pick up a HolyH2O, which will be used by Darius to power level him.

4-2: This stage is a filler stage where you're expected to level up enough to get the level 20 advancement. Of course, being underleveled, this isn't going to happen for everyone until next chapter. I split it up because there's a lot of luck involved with leveling and blocking. Darius power levels and allows everyone to just charge in.

4-3: Not much to say here. Sara sometimes underlevels her stats and is targeted by the archers, which messes with the plan. Dolan can sometimes gain too much Atk, gain an extra level and not be targeted by the last archer. I need Amon to be level 20 for the Skylord upgrade in order for him to get the movement range.

4-4: I split up this stage because I need Zohar to have a block during this stage in order for this strategy to work. Eleni and Zohar also need good level up stats, or they don't kill the armors in one hit. Also, Amon has a small chance to get a bad level HP and die to the second fighter hit.

4-5: Save Kira! Did you know that you can kill her since she's flagged as an enemy? If you do, then you lose. I use the Aura Gem I picked up in the forest stage in 4-2 in order to kill off the post around the corner. The mage AI can choose the wrong spell, and blocks and poison can also kill the attempt.

5-1: Figuring something out for this stage took a couple of days. I still haven't figured out why it works though. I mean, check out that golem that avoids Ash like he has the plague. Mage AI made this annoying, otherwise, it wasn't too bad.

5-2: Kira needs the latest equipment and an advancement in order to kill the boss off. I take care of the enemies behind me to limit the time spent on their movements and attacks. Sometimes Zohar does enough damage with a Roman Fire, but not this time; probably bad leveling stats, but it costs at most an extra second or two. Eleni's spell activates the boss' AI, and he comes down to die.

5-3: I'm not sure which would be faster overall, but there's a chance the AI mage will cast a spell that only hits Clint. This changes the layout of the enemy, and causes me to move more, but there's less animations. Not sure what would be best. Phase Shift is still rocking the enemy.

5-4: There was one time that I beat the level and Salamander didn't drop a wyrmfang. I can't reproduce it though. Short level; I kill off guys on the side to level up Zohar to 25 to get his final spell. Also, a last minute spell from Eleni gets her to 25 as well.

5-5: A normally annoying level with enemy reinforcements. Still annoying with mage AI, but I made it manageable with an in-battle save. I set up my guys to easily deal with Kane and his 'reinforcements'. It's actually slower to open up the dam and wash away the armors, so I just let them have their turn. More weird AI, where the Hawk Knight ignores Grog and attacks Dolan.

5-6: Simple level. Just need to make sure I pick up the second wyrmfang for the last level. I need to keep a clear path for Leena, or she won't move. Oh, the trigger is on the left side of the door... wait a turn, move a space. I could have had Kira open the chest instead of Amon to get the wyrm fang, and given the one from the depot to Ash. This would have saved some time, but the original plan for the last stage was to have Amon use the wyrmfang instead of Ash.

6-1: I made a planning mistake here in buying the ninjas' weapons. It's totally unnecessary. Unfortunately, I realized this during the next stage, and already got a lucky block from Ash in one segment, which I wasn't able to repeat. I also moved the Huxley before I realized it was not necessary to level him up for later stages. Combined, this was the biggest planning mistake of the run.

There's a video on youtube where the Kane comes down from the tower and never goes back to get healed, but I could never reproduce it. The author of the video wasn't very helpful, and reported that it always happens that way for him. So, that could possibly save some time.

6-2: Simple stage done extremely fast. I found that if you killed enough of the enemy, the last two bats activate and come close enough to kill.

6-3: The Xeno fight was tough to get good luck on. This wasn't perfect luck, which would have been, Bahamut blocks counter from Dolan = no level up animation, Evil Stream, Evil Stream, Evil Stream next turn, Huxley's counter is blocked, Explosion (not actually sure if Dark Fire is faster). But, it's good enough for me. I need to kill Sara, Amon, or Dolan in turn 1, otherwise they talk, a lot. I then need to kill Clint or Kira on turn 2, and decide they both can go.

6-4: Three level up stats heavily dependent on the strategy caused me to split up this stage. The last half of which took only 15 minutes to get, compared to the 9 or 10 hours it took to get the first half. The correct stats allow me to get Dolf in 6 hits instead of 7.

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