Hm... Balbaroy's attack should not be much behind of Max's. Maybe they got different weapons? And who got the Power Ring?
Earnest is a nice add though.
Not infinite the respawns.
I can't recall exactly, but should be something between 3 and 5.
You will probably reach level 20 in the second ship battle. And have a promoted force for chapter 6.
It's good timing, as 'promoted weapons' come by.