Operation Darkness achievements

Operation Darkness

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There are 28 Operation Darkness achievements worth 2,956 (1,000)

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Achievement Details

Campaign 23-25 in Operation Darkness

Campaign 23-2559 (20)

Complete Campaign Missions 23-25

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Achievement Guide for Campaign 23-25

252,096 (163,015)
Achievement won on 14 Oct 13
TA Score for this game: 2,956
Posted on 21 October 13 at 21:29, Edited on 03 December 13 at 22:34
This solution has 5 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
There was a question on the Operation Darkness Walkthrough Discussion thread on hints on how to clear Mission 23. As I was answering him, I got carried away. However, since there were no guides for the Campaign 23-25 achievement, I thought I would post this solution. The reason I got carried away is because, in addition to outlining a strategy for Mission 23, I laid out the strategy and tactics that I employ for the remainder of the game including the Eagle Nest missions. Since the Achievement is for Missions 23, 24, and 25; I expanded this solution to cover the entire achievement.

Mission 23:

Short answer: Begin by using Edward, Cynthia, Lewis, and a female recruit as snipers each equipped only with a sniper rifle and plenty of ammo. Move them out of Max’s line of sight and have them Cover Ambush.
• As soon as Max’s turn comes up have him Cover Attack equipped only with the PTRS and plenty of ammo. Keep Max in Cover Attack for the remainder of the Mission unless he’s knocked out of cover. If that happens, reinstate Cover Attack at the earliest opportunity.
• After Max and the snipers wipe out the majority of the snipers, wait until Carmilla comes within Max’s range and line of sight. Send Van H against her—attack first and then Cover Attack with sniper backup.
• When Carmilla bites the dust, transform the werewolves and go after the two Draches each armed with a Dragon Slayer. Use the attack/Cover Attack against the Draches—Dragon Slayers deal quadruple damage against Draches.
• Meanwhile, position the other offensive players to ambush the two second wave groups in the top left and right corners.
• Search the second wave Magiers for the Valhalla Report and a dead American soldier in the top right for the one of a kind M37 sawed-off shotgun.
Target completion time: 45 minutes.

Long answer: Mission 23 is the gateway into the crucible of Operation Darkness—Missions 24 through 26. These are three challenging missions (especially Mission 26). Mission 23 is a good warm-up and a good way to level up Max who can play a vital role from here on out.

Hopefully, you got Max Neumann by completing the conditions of Missions 19 & 21 and the PTRS 1941 picked up from an Oberschutz in Mission 16. If you do not have both Max and the PTRS, missions 23 thru 27 are very difficult and require leveling up your regular characters well past level 40 in order to survive Missions 24 thru 26. Bottom line—if you're missing Max and/or the PTRS and you have a save file that you can go back to, by all means do so.

Equip Max with only the PTRS. Equip Cynthia, Edward, and Lewis each with only a sniper rifle. If you have a female recruit, equip her with only a sniper rifle. If you do not have a developed female recruit, recruit one and equip her with a sniper rifle. Only female recruits can use the sniper rifle. A non-sniper recruit is just cannon fodder on this mission. The level of the sniper recruit is not very important. Equip Cordelia and Herbert each with a bayonet and a couple of grenades. Equip Van H with only her Killer Sword. Equip Jack with a bazooka and a bayonet. Equip Frank Gaunt with a bayonet, a bazooka, and a couple of grenades. Equip the werewolves with an M9 Bazooka each and Dragon Slayer swords (hopefully, you got both of them--the first from a 2nd wave Magier in Mission 20 and the second from a Magier in Mission 22.

Note on the female recruit: Missions 24 thru 27 limit you to 11 characters. This means that, except for the Eagle Nest missions and any remaining Armed Reconnaissance missions, she will not have a role. It is, therefore, not essential to use her. However, since virtually every shot she takes—however ineffective—will result in a significant attack from Max, employing her significantly reduces the time it takes to complete a mission. This time reduction applies to all missions where you use snipers in a Cover Ambush role although the impact is not as great where the PTRS is not used. Bottom line—if you have openings for one or more recruits, always fill them and always fill them with snipers.

Make sure Max and anyone with a sniper rifle has at least eight reloads—preferably ten. Anyone carrying a bazooka should have an M6A3 Rocket 03 reload. If you have picked up any Black Crystals give them to the werewolves. Apart from the Black Crystals, use only Blood Plasma and Sulfanilamide as their healing items. We want, when they auto-restore, to regenerate MS in addition to HP (Black Crystals regenerate 100% of both). Use your discretion to outfit the other characters with healing items. There will be a lot to pick up as well.

The best skill set for Max and the snipers is Auto-Restoration, Speed Boost, Sharpshooter, Find Weakness, and Gunslinger. If you’re going to be using one, like Lewis, in an offensive non-sharpshooter role as well, replace Gunslinger with Aegis. This applies even on missions where you might not need the defense. It’s better to stick with the same skills once they become available so you can four star them. Aegis, with one star, for example, activates only infrequently. Aegis, with four stars, frequently insulates the character from all damage. On the offensive players, go with a defensive set—Auto-Restoration, Speed Boost, Aegis, Defense, and Endurance.

Van H Special: I use Van H almost exclusively as a swordsman, so her skills are Auto-Restoration, Speed Boost, Assassin, Blade Master, and Precision. If you feel you need more defense, replace either Precision or Blade Master with Aegis. Nevertheless, a great way to defeat a number of super powerful bosses in the final missions is to position her next to the boss and set her to cover attack. Shoot at the boss with the snipers—it doesn’t matter if you hit it—Van H will respond with a Cover Attack. If you have four-starred Assassin, Blade Master, and Precision; you can destroy a boss with over 100k HP in a single turn. We’ll use this tactic against Carmilla in this mission. As in the previous discussion, a one star skill is not dependable. In contrast, a four-star Precision Skill will frequently double attack damage. Your goal should be to four-star each character’s entire skill set before Mission 26.

At the start of the mission, check where Max is with respect to the snipers. Any sniper who is neither behind Max nor in front of him need not be moved. We are going to use Max and all the snipers in cover roles so we don't want one accidentally shooting a comrade. Move any character who is not a sniper back and towards the left corner. Don't bunch them up to prevent mass casualties from one shot. Pay particular attention to Cordelia because her fire inferno is great against the Totenkopfs.

You have some time initially because the enemy tends to ignore you in favor of the Americans. Move the snipers off to side left and right of Max and on the same row. To prevent multiple casualties from a single attack, make sure there are at least two spaces between characters. Any snipers already in position should be set to Cover Ambush. After the snipers are moved, set them to Cover Ambush. When Max’s turn finally rolls around (he is very slow), set him to Cover Attack and sit back to watch the show.

The regular snipers serve as spotters for Max. This is why the level of the female recruit is not important. She doesn’t have to hit a target or do any damage. Once an enemy moves to trigger Cover Ambush and she shoots at it, Max will follow up with a Cover Attack shot and demolish it. He doesn’t hit every time but his hit percentage will improve as he levels up. Your characters are out of everybody’s range except for the Draches who can hit anywhere on the field. Max and your snipers have extended range—a side benefit from being in cover roles. They shoot at all enemies well before your characters come into their range. As slow as Max is between turns, he loses that slowness in the Cover Attack role. He responds to every attack including and especially cover ambush attacks with an attack of his own. As a result, he ends up with more attacks in the mission than anyone else. Thus, to all intents and purposes Max is the fastest character. He is also the strongest. The PTRS will kill a Totenkopf, Vampire, Magier, or Panzer Demon in a single shot and, in Max’s capable hands, is the single most powerful weapon in the game.

You will not demolish all the Totenkopfs moving forward until some of them come into range of your bazookas. Use them with discretion—we have bigger fish to fry. However, if you can kill multiple Totenkopfs with a single bazooka rocket, go for it. However, do not use more than one bazooka round for any character. Unless a very tempting opportunity comes along, do not have Gallant fire his bazooka yet. He may need all four rounds later in the mission. In addition to weapons, Cordelia should have an opportunity to use Fire Inferno to incinerate multiple Totenkopfs in an attack. When the Totenkopfs are no longer bunched up in tight groups, use Flare, with its greater range, against single targets.

One or two Totenkopfs might come in range of Van H’s Vanquish MS attack. (I, personally, don’t use it because I have disabled her MS attacks by replacing her Killer Sword. The tactics I employ here are optimized by using the best available sword. Since the Dragon Slayers need to be reserved for the werewolves against the Draches, here I use Muramasa. Since Van H’s attacks require her to be equipped with the Killer Sword, the price one pays for the more powerful sword is foregoing the capability for MS attacks. One could equip her with two swords—a powerful sword for attacks and the Killer Sword to activate her MS attacks. I do not advise it—the extra weight degrades her super speed resulting in fewer turns during a mission. Van H is the best boss killer. The bosses are vulnerable to her blades and not her MS attack. The bottom line is we have sacrificed the ability to launch MS attacks against the minions in favor of being able to decimate a boss in minutes as we will demonstrate against Carmilla in this mission.

After the Totenkopfs are reduced to a few stragglers, Carmilla will come towards you. Go after her with Van H. Your goal is to get alongside her, away from Max’s line of fire, and attack her with her sword. Max, being in Cover Attack, will pile on. The combined attacks should do over 15K hit point damage. The efficacies of the attacks have a lot to do with Van H’s sword and the skills Max and Van H are using. This is why I give Van H a stronger sword at the expense of being able to use MS attacks and why she uses the Blade Master (for increased attack) and Precision (for double damage critical hits). The next time Van H’s turn comes around, set her to Cover Attack. When each of the sniper’s has a turn, bring him or her off Cover Ambush, move forward in the direction of the Draches without breaking line of sight with Carmilla and shoot at her. Whether you hit Carmilla or not, you will initiate attacks from both Van H and Max. Carmilla has around 80K HP so three or four attacks should do her in. In other words, Carmilla can be taken care of before she has a chance to move or attack once Van H makes contact. After you kill Carmilla, place any snipers taken out Cover Ambush back to that stance.

Nevertheless, we must account for the fog of war. Depending on the sequence of who’s doing what, Carmilla may move. You can stack the deck in your favor by looking at the sequence and engaging Carmilla when you have clear sailing. (Pressing the Y button toggles between map view and attack sequence view). Nevertheless, there are other things that can go wrong. A Drache or other enemy could attack Van H and break her cover. More likely, Max who is not the most accurate shooter, might hit Van H by mistake even if you have done a good job of keeping her out of Max’s line of fire. Neither is a problem. Because Van H is super-fast to begin with—and even more so because she is equipped only with a lightweight sword—she’ll have a second chance almost immediately. She should have plenty of health restoring items so the Auto-Restoration skill will make sure she doesn’t bite the dust. If you encountered bad luck the first time, again position Van H next to Carmilla away from Max’s line of fire. Attack on the first turn and cover attack on the second.

Van H’s assault on Carmilla is the trigger to send off your offensive players. Transform the werewolves and send them straight up the map board to attack the Drache on the left. Send Frank Gaunt in trace. We don’t need him against the Draches but against the second wave of Vampires and Magiers who will pop up in the top left corner after the Draches are disposed of. Send Cordelia and Herbert in the direction of the Drache on the left. They will not be attacking unless there is a stray Totenkopf—hence the bayonet and grenades. Cordelia and Herbert are there as healers. Herbert is especially important. The Drache on the right moves around and may step on someone. If that happens, Auto-Restoration will not work but Herbert’s Revival Experiment MS skill will bring the victim back to life. Note that if Edward, Cordelia, or Gallant is killed; this does not apply and it is immediate game over. We will make sure we do not bring any of these three into the movement radius.

The next movement after transforming should bring the werewolves within bazooka range. Attack the Drache on the left. Unfortunately, this Drache is outside Max’s range so there is no Cover Attack. During the werewolves’ next turn, you should be able to bring each one to a square immediately touching the Drache on the left. Try to keep the werewolves next to one another. For reasons that will become apparent later, we want attacks on one to hit the other as well. If you are not able to reach the Drache on the turn after transforming, move as close as you can and fire off another bazooka round.

When you do get right next to the Drache, attack with the Dragon Slayer. It does quadruple damage against dragons. Expect damage in the 20K range give or take depending on the level and attack quotient of the sword wielder. During the next turn set both Keith and Gallant to cover attack. As you did against Carmilla, take the snipers out of Cover Ambush one by one as they get their turns. Move forward in the direction of the Drache on the right—the Draches are so big you don’t have to worry about line of sight as you did with Carmilla. Shoot at the Drache on the left. This will unleash Cover Attacks by Keith and Gallant and will make short work of the Drache.

If you really want to optimize the use of your snipers, send two snipers—the recruit (because she’s slow) and Edward (because we need Lewis’s Archangel Call for the second wave attackers at the top right)—in the direction of the Drache on the left. Send your other two snipers—Cynthia and Lewis—up diagonally right. You want the two pairs of snipers to end up at the one third and two third marks on the imaginary line that divides the map board into upper and lower halves. Because the snipers have great range, the placement need only be approximate. Remember to keep a little distance between the members of each pair so they will not be hit simultaneously by a single attack. Moreover, try to get Lewis in range for an Archangel Call against the top right.

While you are disposing of the Drache on the left, send Van H towards the Drache on the right. Send Jack towards the upper right corner to ambush the second wave Vampires and Magiers that will arrive after the Draches are killed. Do not use Jack to attack either Drache. You want him to be in the very top right corner to be in excellent ambush position. If you have the time, look for a dead American soldier to search for a one of a kind sawed-off shotgun for Lewis. I, personally, do not equip sawed off shotguns on Lewis but the compulsive completionist in me compels me to find it. If you don’t have time, wait till after you kill off the second wave attackers in that corner and look for it while you’re searching Magier corpses for the Valhalla papers.

Continue to move Cordelia and Herbert in healing position below and to the left of the Drache on the right. Do not heal damage. In fact, we want the werewolves to be hurt so that Auto-Restoration will activate a Blood Crystal, Blood Plasma, or Sulfanilamide. This will replenish the werewolves’ MS points. If the werewolves have escaped harm to the extent they have not used an auto-restorative, have Frank (as soon as he is in range) shoot them with his bazooka. If they’re side by side you can get both in one shot. You can target them by pressing RB and LB and you can shoot friendly forces. If you don’t do this, the werewolves will revert to human with a huge reduction in offense and defense.

Although you don’t want Cordelia to heal damage, you do want to dispel status effects that prevent your offensive players from attacking. If you have the choice, use Herbert’s Mysterious Vial rather than Cordelia’s Song of T. Mysterious Vial only cures the status ailment whereas Cordelia’s Song of T restores HP in addition to curing the ailment. The exception would be if both werewolves are stunned or otherwise incapacitated. If they are side by side, Cordelia’s Song of T will cure them both at once.

After the first Drache is killed, position Frank below and to the left of where the Drache was. This will position him to ambush one group in the second wave. Turning to Van H, get immediately next to the second Drache and attack. Do likewise with Keith but not Gallant. If possible, position Keith on the right hand side of the dragon so he’ll be in better position for the second wave of enemies. Have Gallant first use the Evil Eye MS skill against the Drache and attack with the bazooka on the next go-around. If the Drache on the right has moved forward into Max’s range, dispense with Evil Eye and attack with the bazooka immediately.

If the right Drache has moved forward—normal tactics: After Van H and Keith have each attacked once, set them both to Cover Attack. When the snipers have their turns, move and shoot. Movement should be in the direction of their optimal positions in anticipation of wave two—at the one third and two third marks on the imaginary line that divides the map board into upper and lower halves. The Drache will quickly meet its end as each sniper attack is augmented with devastating attacks from Max, Van H, Keith, and Gallant (if the Drache is still around for a bazooka attack).

If the right Drache has moved forward—advanced strategy: The tactics we use for Max here are very effective during Missions 24 thru 27 and any Eagle Nest or Armed Recon missions you might want to undertake. He attacks several times more frequently than any other character. The damage he deals with each attack increases as his level increases. In fact, the progression is quite steep. The higher Max’s level, the better off you are especially for missions 24 thru 26 when you cannot restock. Accordingly, it’s best to have Max milk some extra experience by having him kill the second Drache single-handedly if it has moved forward into his range. If that’s the case, do not attack the Drache with any character that can deal significant damage. Just take pot shots at it with the snipers who will barely scratch it. Max will counter each time with a Cover Attack that will result in considerable experience points and fast-track his leveling.

If the right Drache has not moved forward: Use Van H and Keith to attack as soon as they each get right next to the Drache. As in the normal tactics where the Drache has moved forward, pepper it with sniper attacks resulting in corresponding Cover Attacks from Keith and Van H. After Gallant inflicts it with evil eye, have him attack with the bazooka that will also trigger Cover Attacks from Keith and Van H. Although not quite as fast as would have been the case had the Drache moved forward, it will soon perish.

The demise of both Draches brings out a second wave of attackers in two groups. Frank and Gallant should already be in position to ambush the group at the top left. Keith and Jack should be in position to ambush the group at the top right. In fact, you might be too ideally positioned. There is the distinct possibility you could wipe out the second wave in one turn before you find the Valhalla Report and the unique M37 sawed-off shotgun which is the best shotgun in the game.

If you’re doing a speed run for the Victoria Cross achievement or are otherwise not interested in the spoils, have at it. Set the snipers who should be optimally positioned to Cover Ambush and go after wave two with the best area attacks. If you’ve managed to get Lewis close enough, take him off sniper duty and unleash Archangel Call against the top right group. Similarly, have Frank take care of the majority of the upper left group with Mjolnir’s wrath.

If you want the Valhalla Report and/or the M37, use some restraint. Do not put the snipers into Cover Ambush because you might inadvertently wipe out the last stragglers. If they get into Max’s range, he will Cover Attack in response to each Cover Ambush killing each adventurous Magier or Vampire with a single shot. The Valhalla Report is on a Magier. I’ve always found it in the top left group. I don’t know if that is the rule or whether the probability if just higher because there are three Magiers top left to two in the top right.

Fog of War: Lots can go wrong. However, your characters should be well enough equipped to handle adversity should luck go against you. The most important thing to remember is that Herbert can resurrect anybody other than Edward, Cordelia, and Gallant. Keep him in position with plenty of healing items. It is a good idea to give him a Penicillin so that he can recover himself from status ailments. In your favor is that the battlefield will be littered with the remains of the Totenkopfs many of whom are carrying high grade stuff.

Even if you’re doing a speed run, in fact especially if you’re doing a speed run, you want to scavenge as many useful items as you can. You cannot restock during missions 24 thru 26. You want to be able to spend your Kill Points on Dragon Scales and Hands of Death that show up at the Supply Depot after this mission. If you do a good enough job scouring the battlefield in Mission 23, you will not need to buy any Medical Kit 3s etc. Don’t overlook the dead American soldiers. You can pick up extra bazookas if you need them and some other good stuff including the M37. As a result, you can spend your Kill Points on only top of the line stuff. Buy only what you need. Black Crystals (at 140 KP a pop) become available at the depot after Mission 26 and are perfect for the werewolves against some nasty opponents.

I average about 45 minutes, give or take, on this Mission including body searches. If the right Drache moves forward, it takes less than 45 minutes and, if it stays out of Max’s range, it takes me over 45 minutes. In fact, I once got lucky and did it under 40 minutes because the Drache moved forward early and stayed in position to succumb to the snipers and Max without the other characters needing to react.

Mission 24:

Short answer: Prepare yourself for three consecutive missions without resupplying between them. Move to the mission and begin by spreading out Edward, Cynthia, and Lewis, as snipers. Move them out of Max’s line of sight to where they have fields of fire to the center of the map and have them Cover Ambush. Your forces are in the top left corner. Enemy forces in the bottom right corner advance in your direction.
• When Max’s turn comes up have him first move forward and then Cover Attack equipped only with the PTRS and plenty of ammo. Keep Max in Cover Attack for the remainder of the Mission unless he’s knocked out of cover. If that happens, reinstate Cover Attack at the earliest opportunity.
• Focus on killing personnel especially the five Magiers. Delay destroying two vehicles until you position the offensive characters to ambush waves two and three. Wave two consists of a tank in the upper right corner and two groups of Schutzes on the left side just above the center of the map. Wave three consists of a cluster of eighteen enemy troops in the very upper left corner.
• When the first wave personnel have been disposed, loot the battlefield and then trigger the second wave by destroying two of four vehicles.
• Bazooka wielders should be in position to ambush wave two assisted by Frank’s, Cynthia’s, and Lewis’s MS attacks. This will result in the demise of more than twenty enemy troops and will trigger the third wave.
• The third wave is right in the center of intersecting rocket attacks and is quickly demolished. Leave a survivor alive as you clean up to reconstitute for the next mission.
Target completion time: 45 minutes.

Mission 24 is the first in a series of three missions where you cannot resupply between missions. At the end of mission 24, you can create a save file. You cannot load that save file from within the game until you have cleared mission 26. If you need to load that save file before clearing mission 26, you can go to the Xbox dashboard, restart the game, and choose to load that particular save file.

Because you must prepare for three missions, equipping the characters properly is important. You are allowed 11 characters on these missions. The ten regular characters and Max are the obvious choice.

Equip Max with only the PTRS. Equip Cynthia, Edward, and Lewis each with a sniper rifle and a bayonet. Mission 26 is very fluid and we want the option to use melee combat with the bayonet. The bayonet only weighs one unit so it’s not a big addition to the loads. Equip Cordelia and Herbert each with a bayonet and a couple of grenades. Equip Frank Gaunt with a bazooka, a bayonet, and a couple of grenades. Equip the werewolves with a Dragon Slayer Sword and an M9 Bazooka each. Equip Van H with only her Killer Sword. Equip Jack with a bazooka, a bayonet, and the Muramasa Sword. The two blades may seem redundant; however, Jack needs the bayonet for his MS attacks but the Muramasa gives him considerably more attack power. I mentioned earlier that I had replaced Van H’s Killer Sword with the Muramasa. The reason I take it away from her now is because the most powerful sword, Excalibur, can be picked up in Mission 25. Van H will pick it up and discard the Killer Sword.

Other than swapping out swords and giving the snipers bayonets, the weaponry has not changed from Mission 23. Hands of Death are available for sale but are best left for Mission 27. We will make more significant changes in the consumables. Do not spend more money than you have to. The most expensive items are going to be available for pickup on the battlefields. Ammo is inexpensive and you should buy what you need. Bazooka rockets are not going to be available so make sure you have you have eight M6A3 Rocket 03 reloads in your inventory. Your snipers are going to shoot a lot of ammo so make sure you have at least nine sets of reserve ammo 10 in your inventory.

Dragon Scales are for sale. Don’t buy any. They are expensive and readily available for pickup on the battlefields of the three upcoming missions. It’s best you conserve your KP for mission 27. At that point, Black Crystals are going to be for sale. If you are on a speed run and have not leveled up your characters, Mission 27 requires a very purposeful strategy and a lot of Black Crystals. On the other hand, if you are going to do all the Armed Recon and Eagle’s Nest missions before Mission 27, Mission 27 is quite easy and, to all intents and purposes, is just a chance to show off your power. Even so, it’s best to be frugal so you can splurge when the time is right. Bottom line is buy Blood Plasma & Sulfanilamide for the heavy MS users and Medical Kit 3 and Tincture for the light MS users. Morphine and Medical Kit 2 are adequate for our purposes. If you have some in inventory, use them before you buy Medical Kit 3 and Tincture. Max and the snipers are not going to be exposed so they’re ideal candidates to use up any inventory of Medical Kit 2 and Tincture. Finally, make sure you have a Fool’s Gold in inventory.

Provide Max with three and the snipers each with two sets of reserve ammo 10. There is some reserve ammo to be picked up but the snipers are going to be too busy shooting to hunt for it. Anyone carrying a bazooka should have two three rocket reloads. As with Mission 23, if you have picked up any Black Crystals give them to the werewolves. Apart from the Black Crystals, use only Blood Plasma & Sulfanilamide as their healing items. We want, when they auto-restore, to regenerate MS in addition to HP. Provide Cordelia and Max with at least one item that restores MS. Preferably, provide each with only Blood Plasma and Sulfanilamide. Use your discretion to outfit the other characters with healing items. This is a good opportunity to use some of the lower grade healing items although Pain Killers and Medical Kit 1 have outlived their usefulness. Top of the line healing items like Dragon Scales and, to a lesser extent, Black Crystals are going to show up more frequently on the battlefield so we don’t have to spend KP on expensive stuff at the Supply Depot. Finally, provide Van H with one Fool’s Gold. She will use it to slow down the Mission 25 Boss who is even faster than she is.

Your skill sets should be unchanged from Mission 23. As we mentioned, it’s best to be consistent so you can upgrade all skills in the set to four stars. This won’t happen if they’re swapped out frequently. We haven’t done very to change how people are outfitted. The equipment hasn’t changed much and the consumables are limited to basic ammo and healing items. I went in little more detail for players on speed runs so they can make a short stop at the Supply Depot with a shopping list and then quickly outfit their characters.

Move to Mission 24. There are three waves. The second wave appears after you dispose of two of the four vehicles in the first wave. There are two tanks and two armored cars. If possible, destroy the two tanks leaving the less intimidating armored vehicles for when things get a little more hectic. You have plenty of time. You want to position your characters to ambush the second and third waves. Your forces start at the top left. The four vehicles in the first wave are on the bottom right. There are lots of buildings in the way that obstruct both friendly and enemy forces. Leave the tanks alone and let them fire to remove some of the obstacles and give your snipers better fields of fire.

There are two objectives during the opening moves. Position your snipers so the enemy Magiers and Schutzes will walk into their covering fire and position your offensive players to ambush waves two and three. Move your three snipers down and to the right keeping some distance between them. They will not have very good fields of fire. The enemy personnel will move towards the center of the screen. Try to give the snipers the fewest obstructions to the center screen. Also, try to position Cynthia and Lewis so they have the option to use their best MS attacks against vehicles. We might also want to use their MS attacks against third wave personnel that will appear in two tight clusters right in the top left corner. At level 35, Cynthia learns Lightning Shot and Lewis learns Archangel Call. If you’re on a speed run with both of them below level 35, we’ll let the bazookas do all the work instead.

Things will get better for the snipers as enemy tanks start to demolish buildings. If a shell hits a sniper, it’s not a big deal. They’re all on auto restore and we plan on upgrading their healing items by scavenging so we might as well use up the old stuff. Move Max down and to the right with the object of giving him the best visibility possible to the center. We’ll put him in cover attack on his next turn. It’s a long time between turns but we have a lot to do in the meantime. It’s not completely out of the question to set Max in Cover Attack without moving him. He does do some damage. Nevertheless, he does not have clear fields of fire and is not as effective as we would like him to be. The enemy has the same problem so we might as well move Max to a better vantage point. The objective is to dispose of the five Magiers before we trigger the second wave with the second vehicle kill. We also want to dispose of as many of the eleven first wave Schutzes as possible—ideally, all of them.

Send Frank a third of the way down the screen close to the left side. He is going to ambush one of two tight groups of Second Wave Schutzes that will appear just in front of him. Take a couple of turns and send Jack about two thirds down the left side of the screen. He will lie in wait for a first wave vehicle and also be in position to ambush the second of group of Schutzes that will appear in the next wave. Send the two werewolves, untransformed, to the right along the top of the screen. Have Gallant stop about a third of the way across. Take two turns with Keith and position him so he’s hugging the top right of the wall of a big building. He will ambush the second wave tank that will appear in the top right corner. If any wave one personnel come within range, he can take care of them as well.

Set the snipers to Cover Ambush. Before you set Cynthia and Lewis, check how the range of Lightning Shot and Archangel Call appears on the map (assuming at least one of them and hopefully both are at level 35). We’d like to knock out the first vehicle with bazookas and the second with a single high powered MS attack. When slow Max finally gets his second turn, set him to Cover Attack.

Keep an eye on the two tanks and two armored cars. If we have the opportunity, we will take out one tank but leave the three other vehicles alone until all the Magiers have been killed. There’s a lot of waiting with little real action. The purpose is to draw out dealing with wave one so that waves two and three can be swatted like flies.

The enemy personnel will converge towards the center moving up and to their left. The vehicles (starting at the bottom right) are more random. Expect a couple to get bottled up in the center and at least one to move along the bottom to the left. One may or may not move along the right side of the screen in the direction of the top right corner. Eventually, enemy personnel will come into the snipers’ field of fire. It might require the enemy tanks to first destroy some obstacles before they are vulnerable. At this point, things will start to move more quickly. Max is going to be very busy. Usually, he will get the opportunity to put a couple of rounds into vehicles in addition to killing off personnel. If a Magier can be targeted by a bazooka, let him have it. But don’t go out hunting. We want to hold positions unless a character is in danger of being run over.

Once the Magiers and the first wave Schutzes have been disposed of, scavenge around the battlefield. Van H, Cordelia, and Herbert who all have supporting roles for this mission can be spared for body searches. Leave Edward on sniper duty and move Edward and Cynthia so their MS attacks will target enemy vehicles. Also, have at least one of them keep the top right corner in range. This assumes they are at level 35. If not, leave them on sniper duty. Occasionally, they will hit a vehicle resulting in a Cover Attack from Max.

One of the five Magiers has a Valhalla report. This is the twelfth and final report. If you have picked up the previous eleven, this will unlock the Soldier’s Medal Achievement:

Operation DarknessSoldier's MedalThe Soldier's Medal achievement in Operation Darkness worth 206 pointsThe conditions for obtaining this achievement are unknown

There are top grade healing items and weapons. Healing items include Black Crystals and Dragon Scales. Weapons include the Panzerfaust 100s that you should use against vehicles in this Mission to conserve bazooka rockets. The best approach is to have Cordelia, Herbert, and Van H find the items and then dispatch the best recipient to pick it up. While you’re doing this, have Cordelia and Herbert each pick up a Panzerfaust. They will use them against third wave personnel so the Panzerfaust 30, 60, or 100 are all fine.

When you’re well equipped for the next Mission, put the snipers back to Cover Ambush and position Cordelia and Herbert so they cover the top left corner with their Panzerfausts. Then, destroy the second tank. This is done preferably with Cynthia’s Lightning Shot or Herbert’s Archangel Call. If so, you’ll have one less sniper on Cover Ambush duty. It’s not a critical issue but, as I said before, it will help a little if the first two vehicles destroyed are the two tanks.

Wave two consists of two clusters of Schultzes on the left side just above the bottom half of the top of the screen. Have Frank shoot one group (he may use a bazooka or Mjolnir’s Wrath) and have Jack shoot the other. Have Keith use a bazooka or, preferably, a Panzerfaust 100 against the tank in the top right. Follow it up with an MS attack from Cynthia or Lewis. Depending on whose turn comes first, you may be in a position to strike first with the MS attack and may even destroy it with the MS attack.

Wave three is triggered once twenty personnel are killed. Since you have already disposed of sixteen in wave one, your first mass ambush against the Schutzes will trigger the third wave. The third wave, consisting of eighteen Schultzes split into two type groups clustered in the top left corner, doesn’t stand a chance. Gallant, Cordelia, Herbert, and Frank will all unleash their best attacks. The trick will be to keep one minion (either person or vehicle) alive while you make sure you are better outfitted than you were before you started the mission. Once you are satisfied, put the lone survivor out of his or its misery.

Even with all the looting, this is not a difficult stage and should take about 45 minutes. A save file is created. After you save, you move directly into Mission 25.

Mission 25:

Short answer: You move directly from Mission 24 to Mission 25 with equipment and personnel carrying over from Mission 24. Begin by spreading out Edward, Cynthia, and Lewis, as snipers along the left side of the screen. On their next turn, set them to Cover Ambush. Your forces begin in the top left corner. Enemy forces at the far right move towards you. The enemy includes a powerful boss.
• When Max’s turn comes up have him immediately Cover Attack equipped only with the PTRS and the ammo remaining from the previous mission. Keep Max in Cover Attack for the remainder of the Mission unless he’s knocked out of cover. If that happens, reinstate Cover Attack at the earliest opportunity. Max and the snipers will deal with the majority of the enemy troops.
• The boss has powerful attacks that he executes in quick succession. He tends to fixate on one target. Move Keith a little forward to attract his attention. Keith’s strong defenses backed up with healing from Cordelia and Herbert make him the best candidate for a decoy. Keith can also attack troops moving along the corridor at the top of the screen and pick up healing items from their remains.
• When the majority of the enemy personnel have been disposed of, advance Van H along the top corridor searching Vampire bodies for the Excalibur Sword. Have her equip it and discard the Killer Sword. Move her next to the boss and give him the Fool’s Gold item to slow him down. Take Max and the snipers out of cover.
• Plunder the battlefield making sure you are well equipped for Mission 26. Set Van H to Cover Attack. Shoot at the boss with the snipers. Van H will respond with a cover attack following each shot. The boss has about 80K HP and will not last long. The boss’s defeat ends the mission.
Target completion time: 45-60 minutes.

Take a moment to get the lay of the land. The boss (whom I will not name to avoid spoilers) spouts some rhetoric before the shooting starts. Three vehicles and a bunch of Gestapos, Panzer Demons, and Schutzes break out of an orderly formation filling up about a quarter of the map on the far right. There are Vampires and Totenkopfs in wave two but, thankfully, no Magiers during the entire mission. You begin in the top left corner of the map which is an oblong rectangle.

Right in front of most of your forces is a solid structure with a sound wall. Although it appears there are protective enclaves further along the top of the screen as you move right, this is not the case. The walls are rubble and do not provide protection from either gunfire or line of sight MS attacks. We will be using that first solid wall extensively for protection. There is a destroyed vehicle down and to the right from your forces. It provides modest protection and, more importantly, will divide the flow of enemy forces moving towards you. The enemy is not bashful and will move towards you quickly.

We will be moving the three snipers along and position them at intervals on the very left hand edge of the screen. As soon as Max’s turn comes up, we are going to put him in Cover Attack. We are going to hide Cordelia, Jack, Herbert, and Gallant against the solid wall. It’s best if they’re right next to one another so that healing spells will heal more than one person. We are going to send Keith untransformed close to the destroyed vehicle to his bottom right and then transform him. Take a moment to check out each enemy vehicle and person by using RT to cycle through them. Toggle between map view and turn sequence view by pressing Y button.

Now that we’ve done a brief survey, we’ll begin in earnest. If you’re on a speed run, press the Xbox button to return to the dashboard, restart the game and load the save file you made at the end of Mission 24. Move all your players into position as described above. In addition to what we have already discussed, send Van H as far as she can go on the very left edge of the screen. Send Frank as far as he can go also on the very left edge of the screen. Frank and Van H will find a couple of Gestapos easy prey. Their bodies can be looted and they are carrying healing items. Although both Frank and Van H should be fully stocked up, they could easily have used auto restore against an onslaught of bullets.

As soon as possible, set the snipers you moved into position into Cover Ambush. We’re still waiting for Max’s turn. As soon as it comes, we will set him to Cover Attack without moving him. The people hiding behind the wall will hold their position with Cordelia and Frank healing anyone within range if necessary. We have deliberately set Frank, Keith, and Van H to attract enemy attention and absorb the brunt of anyone who is in range to attack.

When Frank next has a turn, providing he is not suffering from a status ailment, unleash Mjolnir’s Wrath against the biggest cluster of targets. This is a level 37 MS attack so, if you’re on a speed run, you very likely have not acquired it. It’s not essential. It just speeds things up by thinning out enemy forces. What it will also do is trigger the second wave that materializes after the fifth casualty.

In spite of the large numbers of forces, there are only two things to be concerned about. One is the boss and the other is getting run over by a vehicle. At this point, our only concern is the boss. He has a nasty attack called Kampf Schwert that I will refer to as KS. It’s his only attack. It does about 8K of damage and often blinds the target. He is very fast. However, once he fixates on a target he usually sticks to it until he kills it. We have put Keith in position for him to target. There is a small probability he will target someone else—Van H and Frank are the next most obvious choices. Van H and Frank have done their job and we will move them into hiding behind the wall with others. They will probably encounter a couple of Gestapos along the way and are more than welcome to take them out.

Since the first few victims are going to have more goodies than can be carried right now, make a note of where the best things are. Do not pick up Dragon Scales or Black Crystals at this time. Although we are trying to keep Edward, Cordelia, and Gallant safe; there is always the small possibility that the boss will unleash a rapid sequence of deadly attacks against one of them. If that should happen, we want to be able to quickly replenish health items and we particularly want those health items to be closer that a move away. At any rate, after you take care of the interlopers, get Van H and Frank into hiding as soon as possible.

Have Keith stay close to his position behind the vehicle carcass but have him run amuck against anything that comes within range. He should control the corridor at the top of the screen as Schutzes, Totenkopfs, Gestapos, Vampires, and Panzer Demons try to infiltrate. He should have plenty of bazooka rockets and it doesn’t matter if he uses them all up at this junction. Mission 26 is a very different kind of mission and bazookas are less important. If we need a rocket, we will pick up one of the many Panzerfausts lying around.

If the boss has not targeted Keith yet, the commotion will attract his attention and he will start bombarding Keith with KSs. The boss has a turn cycle even faster than Van H and the KS attacks are quite damaging. Keith in werewolf form can take a lot of punishment. He’s got Keith and Cordelia backing him up with healing MS. Even so, the boss is fast enough that Keith will auto-restore. This is not necessarily bad because he was outfitted with Blood Plasma that restores MS and keeps him transformed longer. Keith is taking one for the team. While he is being abused Max is having a field day as Schutzes, Gestapos, Vampires, Totenkopfs, and Panzer Demons fall like flies. We’re just going to wait things out until only a few stragglers remain.

We must be prepared for Keith’s demise. Have him pick up some healing items to prolong it as much as possible but keep him within range of Herbert’s revival experiment. If Keith falls, send Frank out to be the whipping boy. Gallant has the strongest defenses but, if things go awry and he gets killed, it’s game over. Keith may even be able to hold out until we are ready to make our move against the boss.

One of the vampires who tried to infiltrate along the top corridor was carrying Excalibur. Send out Van H to search dead vampires and pick it up. When she does, discard the Killer Sword. Excalibur is the third legendary sword. We’ve assumed you already are in possession of Muramasa and both Dragon Slayer Swords. Picking up Excalibur will unlock the Africa Star achievement. Note that you only need one Dragon Slayer for the achievement but two come in very handy to dispose of Draches:

Operation DarknessAfrica StarThe Africa Star achievement in Operation Darkness worth 145 pointsThe conditions for obtaining this achievement are unknown

She might get targeted. She should be in range of both Cordelia’s and Herbert’s healing spells. She should also have lots of healing items amongst the many corpses available for pickup. Now that she has Excalibur, we want to move Van H right next to the boss whether she is healthy or has a status ailment. Make sure she is not in Max’s line of fire. It will take her either one or two turns to get to the boss depending where he is in relation to where Van H found Excalibur. When she gets adjacent to the boss, have her use Fool’s Gold against him. This will slow him down considerably. Note that even if Van H has been blinded, this does not prevent her from using items. Choose items, select Fool’s Gold, target the boss, and sock it to him.

Now is the time to start worrying about any surviving vehicles. We started out with three. One of them almost always moves down within Max’s range and bites the dust assuming we don’t take it out with a bazooka first. The other two have an annoying habit of staying out of Max’s range in the two far right corners. The danger is that they have the reach to move from their place of hiding and crush Van H standing next to the boss. There’s very little that can be done to prevent it except to have Herbert resurrect her after her demise. Remember, regardless of how many healing items she has, vehicle crushing negates auto-restore.

After any status ailments have been dispelled, set Van H to Cover Attack. Remove Max from Cover Attack so he doesn’t accidentally shoot Van H. Also, we want to plunder the battlefield before we finish off the boss. Check the turn sequence. If Max’s turn is not coming off soon, shoot him with the first available sniper. Max will hardly notice it but it will stop the Cover Attack. You need good stuff for mission 26. There should be enough Black Crystals available to give at least two apiece to the werewolves.

Ideally, the right character has been picking up the right stuff. However, that might not always be the case. There is a way to swap items. Assume that Jack has picked up a Black Crystal. He rarely uses MS and, when he does, he only expends small quantities. He does not need the Black Crystal. He should go to a body with some items and pick up more than he can carry. The game will tell him he’s full and he must trade for something he’s carrying. He selects the Black Crystal. The Black Crystal will now belong to the corpse. Gallant can now come along and pick up the Black Crystal from the corpse.

Speaking of Gallant, have him zap the boss a couple of times with Evil Eye to keep him slow. The boss should be behind the power curve. There are too many of your forces for him to handle so you can roam around at will picking up items and destroying any remaining vehicles.

When you feel you have the best stuff for the next mission, shoot the boss with the snipers. Van H, in Cover Attack, will have a ball with her new toy. With Van H’s blade skills and the power of Excalibur the boss doesn’t last long. Note that Excalibur’s attack power of 72 is even greater than that of Max’s PTRS and the sword has only one tenth the weight of the PTRS. The boss has a little over 80K points and doesn’t last long especially if Van H’s Precision Skill lands a couple of double damage critical hits.

Target time: 45-60 minutes. There is a lot outside your control. If you have good luck, you can clear in about 45 minutes. If you have bad luck, it might take you an extra 15 minutes. You have the opportunity to create a save file in the same manner as you did at the end of mission 24. It’s a good idea to take a peek at Mission 26 that loads after you save. Once you get the lay of the land and check out all the bad guys, go to the Xbox dashboard, restart the game, and load this latest save file. Mission 26 is the most fun mission in the game, IMHO. It’s pretty challenging and very difficult to clear in under an hour—but not impossible.
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