Fire Emblem is a franchise with a pretty steep and difficult learning curve which is one of many reasons why people may feel a bit uneasy with starting this amazing strategy franchise. There are multiple reason why Fire Emblem may entice you; the RPG elements, the idea of marrying characters, the strategy involved, but no matter what, I can promise you there will be a lot of death. A lot of the games in the franchise have a perma-death mechanic where if any of your characters fall in battle, they are gone for good. But some newer games in the franchise have a feature where characters come back at the end of battle. To me, this kind of ruins the magic of Fire Emblem, so for this articles purpose, I’m just going to act like it doesn’t exist because I feel like perma-death makes Fire Emblem quite special. Just as a preface, Fire Emblem is really the only game franchise that I’d consider myself a veteran, and very knowledgeable about, as I’ve played every game multiple times and beaten almost all of them on the hardest difficulty. Basically, I live and breathe Fire Emblem ladies and gentlemen (I did write an article about which Fire Emblem games are the best afterall).
It’s important to find out the mechanics of whatever Fire Emblem game you’re playing. They all share a lot of mechanics but usually do some things differently. The first thing is that some game are very linear, whereas others are more open. Some Fire Emblem’s go straight from chapter to chapter and just progress through the story, and others have a world map you can travel around on and do skirmishes to gain extra EXP. So it should be noted that linear Fire Emblem games have limited EXP and promotional items (we will talk more on this later).
Another thing you are probably asking yourself is where to start in the series. To me, there is a few obvious answers. The first game, just titled Fire Emblem for the Game Boy Advance, is a great place to start. It’s tutorial is great, it’s linear and teaches you about the type of enemies and units you get, and the chapter variety is amazing.
The second game is Fire Emblem Path of Radiance for the Gamecube. This one is known for its great story, interesting mechanics, and overall fun gameplay. The game does have a sequel so if you really like it’s world, there is more of it!
The last game is Fire Emblem Awakening which is probably the cheapest and easiest game to buy in the series. This is perhaps the most popular game due to being able to marry party members and the removing of the perma-death mechanic if desired. Awakening is very inclusive and can be considered one of the easiest games in the franchise, and might be a great start for any new-comers.
Knowing your stuff
Every game in the series (besides sequels) has different characters, classes, and skills and I recommend getting to know them. There are wiki pages on every single party member you will get in all games and you should check them out whenever you consider using a character. During each chapter for most games, you get a party size of 10-12 on average, so for the linear Fire Emblem games, you can only use so many party members due to limited EXP. This means it’s important to pick certain characters who you think are good or just characters that you like. Each character has different growth rates and the only way to find out what they are is checking the characters wiki page, this is why I recommend doing this.
Many fans of the franchise have probably played many of the games multiple times This is due to how fun they are, and because a lot of the game is based on RNG (random number generators). So your characters will always level up differently because each attribute has a percentage of going up each time you gain a level. Even if characters are the same class, they will always have different growth rates.
There are multiple ways of obtaining new party members, so it’s always important to check how to do so. Some characters are automatically put into your party, others you may have to talk to on the battlefield with certain characters, and some characters even have special requirements, so again, it may be advantageous to check each chapters wiki page.
From Basic Training To General
Each character can level up to the max level of 20 but from level 10 until max, they can promote into their second class. New player usually get easily excited at the thought of promoting early, because it’s an easy few points in each attribute and your unit looks more powerful. However, doing this can mean you lose a lot of level up points. You have 40 chances to level up each attribute, and promotion at level 10 for example, means you won’t get those extra points from reaching the max level of an unpromoted unit. So it’s a good idea to wait until you’re at max level!
Some Fire Emblem games also have branches promotions, meaning you have a choice in what class your unit promotes to. It’s important to point out that your units growth rates change a little depending on what they promote to, so watch out for that as well!
The Tellius Fire Emblem games, along with Awakening and Fates, also have character skills. These can be triggered through multiple means but they always help the player out in some way. Some are combat related, while others may have more of a utility use. It’s important to know what these skills do and how they can help you. You can also only have a certain amount of skills (usually 6) and some are locked to certain classes.
“The Difference Between You And Me Is That I’m A Professional”
Let’s get down to actual combat tips. Combat is where you will spend most of your time in Fire Emblem games, so you best get good at it. There are multiple things that newcomers might not understand about the strategy that might greatly help in Fire Emblem, so I’ll break it down for you.
The first step is understanding your enemy. Make sure to check what their range of movement and attack is, so you’re not sending your army into an area where multiple people can attack you in a single turn. It’s also easy to just send your strongest character to go and kill a ton of people, but then they might be soaking up valuable EXP that other characters could benefit from. Next, make sure to watch out for the weapon triangle. Fire Emblem’s combat is based off a simple rock, paper, scissors formula that can easily be taken advantage of when choosing who to engage in combat and who you should be using.
It’s always good to take a conservative approach to combat in Fire Emblem, you don’t want to be too cocky or confident because it can often get you swarmed and killed. An easy way to proceed like this is by first attacking with an indirect weapon like bows, magic or hand axes/javelins, and then going in for the kill with a direct attack. This is also an easy way to feed kills to weaker units so that they can level up. Another way to play conservatively is to travel in a group, keep all your units together so that they can always come to the aid of each other. It also means that the enemy cannot completely surround one unit and kill them easily.
It can however be beneficial to break off your units into smaller groups so that you can cover more ground and hold certain points of the map, which brings me to my next point.
One of the best things you can do in combat is to create chokepoints, making the enemy funnel through a certain spot so they can only come at you one at a time (this is incredibly important for chapters where the goal is to defend yourself for a number of turns). You can do this through manipulation the chapter’s terrain, or by using things like gates, archways, or doors. Just put a unit with high defense or speed in the way and they should be able to take many hits or just dodge them anyway. This strategy can save you a lot of pain and help you win many battles.
You can use the terrain to your advantage even further as things like trees, mountains, and forts offer defense and avoid bonuses. If you use these in conjunction with the weapon triangle, enemies will almost never hit you. So just remember, always use the map to your advantage.
When choosing what units to bring with you before each chapter, you should always take at least one healer with you. You’re going to take damage no matter what and using a healer means you won’t have to waste money on a ton of healing items. Even though healers cannot attack enemies, they can gain the ability to attack once they promote. Healers also don’t steal any EXP that other units can get because they gain EXP from healing your party. They might need to be protected in the early game, but they turn into magical tanks in the later game.
It should be noted that Dancers are also another great utility class that can often be under appreciated. Dancers use.. well… dance, in order to give your unit another round in combat. Essentially, they can move and attack twice, which is incredibly handy. Many people make the argument that you shouldn’t take a dancer into combat because you can just take another unit who can attack since dancers cannot. However, sometimes you need specific units who are better at some things than other who are not, so using a specific unit twice is better than just having another unit that can attack. Also, dancers do not steal any EXP that others may be able to get.
Sometimes your units may be in danger of dying and won’t be in range of getting healed. Thus, rescuing your units is the best options. It basically means that the unit who rescues another is carrying the unit they rescue, so their speed and skill attribute will be cut in half. Units who use horses, Pegasus, and dracos can use the remaining spaces they have once rescuing someone to travel away from enemies. In certain Fire Emblem games, mounted units can also move after attacking, using the amount of spaces they have left, so it’s important to take that into consideration. Mounted units are also great because they can move at such a great distance so they can always help your party members out by moving across the map to attack, rescue and transport. Just watch out for those arrows if you’re using a Pegasus knight!
There is so much I could talk about when it comes to Fire Emblem but I don’t want to overwhelm any new players who might be reading this. This franchise has lot of dedicated content creators, fans and superfans like me, so never be afraid to ask for help. There are wikis on absolutely everything in this series and many helpful YouTube videos. Hopefully this helped a bit, and I hope you enjoy your time with whatever Fire Emblem title you may be playing at the moment!