I started grinding on Normal because I found the combat a hell of a lot of fun, so it just kinda happened by accident. I found grinding necessary on Hard, however. The first couple of story battles are brutal, and my avatar was taking far too much experience when compared to the rest of the group. Grinding allowed me to level everything out, but now my party is way too strong. I could probably blow through three or four story missions right now.
Keep in mind I'm not complaining about the game giving me the option to grind a bit. I remember getting extremely pissed off when my first run of XCOM hit a critical "sink or swim" moment about seven hours in. I nearly restarted all of my progress because I was completely screwed, but I got lucky on a couple of maps and made a comeback. I would have probably put the game back on the shelf if I didn't have that success, however. These permadeath games have to walk a fine line in order to maintain a challenge while still allowing people to complete them. I'm sure many fans love the idea of ending up completely screwed, but, as a newlywed and full time school teacher, it holds little appeal for me. I just wonder why someone would choose Hard over Normal for FE:A. Maybe these types of players refuse to grind, which I guess is fun in its own way. I love how this game gives you tons of options on how to play it. You can grind if you want to or smash your head against a wall over and over again.
Fair enough, I had to ask because I've run into a lot of people who will deliberately overlevel and complain that the game is too easy. If it is accidental, sure, or if you don't care too much about the challenge personally, go ahead. If they play for challenge though, that complaint baffles me to no end. As it stands I've never ended up being so screwed I've had to restart the whole game, maybe I can thank all the resetting I do! For the record, I played on hard as it was challenging without being frustrating. Fire Emblem is kind of a simple game so I've never not played on hard given the option, but I'm not good enough to play Lunatic as I make too many errors, too often.
Here's another tricky question; everyone talks about the awesome permadeath feature, and yet I read over and over again about people replaying maps to get it right and keep everyone alive. Isn't the point of permadeath to deal with your mistakes and keep going? I lost Sully early in my normal mode on a dumb play (which made the later parts of the game VERY interesting) and thought about replaying the map. I chose to keep playing because I felt it was in the spirit of the permadeath and it was my own damn fault she ended up dead (unlike the terribly dumb death one of my snipers suffered in XCOM). I lost Lon'que (sp?) on my hard playthrough because of another stupid move and kept trucking. I just wonder why people make a big deal of permadeath if they aren't willing to keep going. Why keep permadeath on if you just plan on replaying the map if you lose even one unit?
I think I can answer this. I have a very complex relationship with the permadeath since I will accept some deaths, but not others. Restarting the battles is just a way to make yourself better at the game. Play it again and again until you make the least mistakes. When something is on the line weighing the risk-reward is much more interesting. Fire Emblem (usually) gives you all of the information you need on screen or ahead of time, so when you lose someone it's your fault and if I haven't made too much progress I reset and try again with modified tactics. I have played one Fire Emblem on Casual and that was 12 and it resulted in losing 4 or 5 characters a mission, but I would complete the mission super fast and there was no risk. IMO not letting character die really drains the sense of investment.
Whenever I felt that "no man left behind" is no longer a worthy investment or if I made a catastrophic error I let the characters die for good. Just so you know my body count I lost: Kellam, Lon'qu, Lissa, Sully, Anna, Gaius, Sumia and a few others over the course of my game when I judged that losing my progress on those characters was more acceptable than restarting the mission. The hardest was Kelllam because I just liked the guy so much.
Oh, and my only real complaint is one that Stephen mentioned earlier in the thread. I can't stand dying because seven dudes keep rolling up into the same space, causing two or three damage, and then my character kills them, allowing another to take their place. I refuse to accept that kind of death, because the game isn't giving me an option to not attack. They really need an option to skip a counter if the AI is designed in such a way to attack the same character over and over again without any regards for self preservation. I'm not fighting the borg (okay, the risen kind of count), I'm fighting human beings that run at me like freakin' lemmings!
This is what I meant by FE is kind of an easy game though. The AI is really simple and most of the strategy is creating the conditions to fight on your own terms. I'm sure you know that alerady, but it's the best wisdom I can give you. Dying like that sucks; that's how Kellam died.