—Chrom to Donnel
Sickle to Sword (I Am a Weakling in the Japanese version) is Paralogue 1 of Fire Emblem Awakening. Completion of Chapter 3 is required to access this Paralogue. This chapter takes place in The Farfort.
Donnel joins the party after this chapter only if he levels up at least once.
The script for this chapter can be found here.
Subjective: The following part of this article is subjective to the editor's writing. Therefore, it may not work for everyone.
As the first optional fight in the game, the enemies may be slightly tougher when the paralogue first becomes available. The map is littered with barbarians, archers, and thieves trying to take you down. Sword users are invaluable on this map, since they will have a weapon triangle advantage against axe users and no disadvantage against thieves. This is a "defeat commander" map, so it is possible to head straight for the boss, but then you would miss out on the great treasure that is available.
Your army starts out in the southeast corner of the map. There is a forest filled with enemies to the north and a fort with enemies to the west. You should immediately send some units (preferably sword users) west to deal with the barbarians, and a few ranged units north to take out the archers.
On the easier modes, Donnel can be put to use immediately and will become a strong unit thanks to his unique skill, Aptitude. However, on the harder modes, Donnel may be harder to train in real battle, so it is up to you if you want to bother recruiting him. Donnel will receive 40 EXP per enemy, unless the enemy is a thief, in which he will receive 60 EXP: this means it'll normally take him between two or four kills to level-up.
One good strategy to help level up Donnel is to weaken an enemy to 1-3 HP, and then let Donnel finish them off. Pairing him up with Kellam is a viable tactic, as he will boost Donnel's Defense, allowing him to take some more hits. Another good strategy is to corner the archer in the northwest corner of the map near the 2 chests and have Donnel pick away at him. One enemy kill plus all the work he puts into killing the archer will get Donnel leveled up as well.
Frederick or any other mounted unit can be used to quickly travel west to intercept the thief that will try to steal the killer lance. It is possible to complete the next few chapters without it, but it is free and it does not hurt to have it. Plus your units can get extra EXP from killing the thief. Once Donnel levels up and the killer lance and rescue staff are collected, kill the boss and the village is saved.
If a player decides to do this paralogue at a later time, when they come back if you want to have Donnel in your army it is advised to have rally units (all minus resistance as there are no magic-using enemies on this paralogue) to boost Donnel's stats up, in addition to pairing him with a fast or strong class (e.g Swordmaster for speed and Grandmaster for all-round) will help him clear enemies faster.
As mission 5 is nearly impossible without the Rescue staff on lunatic, completion of this mission (where a rescue staff can be found in a chest) is practically required unless a rescue staff was previously obtained from the barracks events or an event tile.
Contrary to the Normal/Hard mode playthrough, Donnel is nearly always guaranteed to be killed in one round on lunatic mode—the speed and strength bonuses enemies receive mean that he will get doubled by every enemy, and each individual hit is enough to nearly kill him, if not kill him outright. Pairing him with Kellam doesn't help, because Donnel still gets doubled by everyone, which spells certain death here. Instead, Donnel is better paired with someone who can grant him a strength or skill bonus, to ensure that he hits his hardest and most accurately.
Pair Frederick with a strong unit and send him to the small chokepoint to the lower left of the initial position to clear out the barbarians there. Meanwhile, have all other units pull back except a decent sword-wielding character in a forest to deal some damage to the barbarian that can reach the initial position after ending the turn. The idea is to move the army through the chokepoint and then hold off the enemies from the north of the original position.
With the exception of the initial wave of enemies from the north and to the immediate west, the rest of the enemies on the map are very passive, to the point that if a unit moves out of their attack range, they simply stop moving. The thief may be easily intercepted in the woods to the south as long as the first wave are killed within three turns or so. The rest of the map is relatively easy: send Frederick (or another tough unit) barely into the enemy zone of attack to coax them out, one or a few at a time. The only particularly worrisome enemies to watch out for is the bandit using a Hammer, as he will deal extra damage to Frederick and most likely wound him enough to allow the other enemies to kill him if he manages to hit him.
As experience is normally so precious to safely come by on Lunatic mode, this level is an unusually good opportunity to train lesser units. As there are many archers and enemies can be made to approach one at a time, it is easy to trap individual archers on all four sides so that they cannot attack, and then can in turn be attacked at leisure. This is one of the few ways to guarantee that Donnel gets a level before the end of the mission, but it is also great experience for practically anyone. However, lunatic mode's experience decay lessens returns somewhat. To maximize experience gains, it may be best to attack trapped units once with each unit to prevent experience decay from setting in.
Roddick has a Silver Axe as well as a Short Axe, and can very well kill almost any unit in the party in just one round. When equipped with a sword, Frederick can usually survive without many problems. Having Frederick weaken the boss and manipulating him to use the Silver Axe instead of the Short Axe allows ranged units to sneak in some hits for extra experience.