Fire Emblem

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Fire Emblem is a video game series for the Nintendo consoles and handhelds. It's the younger (relatively speaking, they're both geriatric), more popular brother of Advance Wars. Among the tRPG genre, of which it was a fairly early progenitor, it's unusual for its lack of player controlled generic characters: every character the player commands is unique, has a personality, and if they die, they're dead forever. In most games there is a finite number of both enemy units to kill for experience points and obtainable money while all weapons are finite in use. These collectively render efficiency in combat quite important (though only a handful of titles are particularly stingy about it). It is generally easier to beat a game by picking a handful of your favorite units and feeding them all the XP while kitting them out with all the best swag than to try to share the wealth, though various methods to curb this have been tried, such as encouraging roleplaying via grouping up units using the Support mechanic (allowing characters deployed next to each other to have a series of conversations to flesh them out and then getting stat bonuses for hanging around each other in fights, with repeat conversations potentially leading to them falling in love or swearing eternal friendship and getting unique endings) or simply introducing systems of advantage whereby different sorts of weapons and magic beat each other in ever more elaborate diagrams of rock, paper, scissors.

Officially, we're not here to talk about any of that! Instead we're going to talk about a pair of trading card games based on it.... and maybe sneak in some editorial stuff on the games in question.

First TCG[edit]

An unusual, poorly supported game. It's best remembered for being the only source of official art for many characters from the first five games. No effort was made to translate it and nobody plays it.

Cipher[edit]

Cipher is the second attempt at a TCG. While it has not been translated officially, there is a notably sized English community for simulator play and all cards have been translated for such. It is unusual among TCGs for two reasons.

Firstly, all cards represent characters, with no land, sorcery, spell, energy, item, instant or trap cards to be found. Instead deployment is fueled by setting characters down from your hand once a turn as Bonds. To deploy a character you need to spend bonds equal to their deployment cost and have at least one bond with the same symbol (or both symbols in the case of cards with both Hoshido and Nohr symbols). Expended bonds return to normal during your next turn. In addition to spending bonds to deploy, certain cards also Flip bonds as a cost. Flipped bonds can not provide symbols, but can still provide points. Very few effects can unflip bonds and so far only yellow cards can unflip a net positive number, so this payment is largely final.

Secondly decking out does not lose the game, it only causes the discard pile to be shuffled into a new deck (and this happens instantly so you don't even miss drawing a card) unless you have no discard pile as well (this is quite unlikely). Pulling cards from the discard pile, known as the Retreat Area, is actually relatively easy and doable by multiple series with low cost clerics. Exile, known as the Boundless Area, was introduced later in the game's life.

Each deck consists of a minimum of 50 cards (including the main character) with no maximum. Each card (determined by serial number) can only appear 4 times and each deployed character must be unique. Some cards representing generic monsters, faceless enemy units and, in one case, a guy who can multiply have exceptions to this rule. At the start of play each player chooses a character from any card with a cost of 1 and deploys it over a special marker identifying it as the main character (Also known as "lord" by English fans, since the terms were synonymous when discussing Fire Emblem before Cipher).

The objective of play is to destroy the five cards an opponent has deployed as orbs, either by defeating their main character 5 times or using skills that destroy orbs, then attacking them again. So far, the only other way to win is to destroy all five orbs and activating a skill found on a particular Marth (B13-051SR). When an orb is destroyed, that player adds it to their hand (The reverse of Pokemon TCG, since that has been found to make for a death spiral if you're screwed enough to have all your important cards as prizes).

In combat an attacking unit's attack is compared to the defending unit's attack, with the defending unit destroyed if the attacker has a higher power. This sounds simple, but it is complicated by a few other factors. Firstly there are two zones, front and rear, for deployed units with most units having limited attack range. Secondly are supports, criticals and evasion. During combat the top card of each player's deck is revealed and the support value of the revealed card added to a character's attack and activating their support skill unless the revealed character has the same name as the supported character (in which case the support fails, doing nothing). After this the attacking player may critical hit by discarding a card from their hand with the same name as the attacking character, doubling their attack. A defending player may discard a card from their hand with the same name as the defending character to evade and nullify all damage (even critical hits). If the attacking unit's attack is higher and they haven't been evaded the defending unit is sent to the retreat zone or (if they're a main character) an orb breaks.

Video Games[edit]

The 7th title was the first to be officially localized and translated, on the back of a few guest fighters' unexpected popularity in Nintendo's big crossover fighter Super Smash Bros.. English titles for these are the ones used by Nintendo in crossover games. While the earlier games have not been translated officially, fans have translated all of them and as a result many are known to older fans by slightly different translations of their Japanese titles.

Every few games brings a new sub-series with their own separate, unrelated, universes. Fans usually refer to these subseries by the name of the world they take place in while Cipher, the second TCG, assigns each a color and a symbol. These helpfully give us a method of dividing different kinds of characters by both their mechanical gameplay styles and philosophies along with their games of origin.

Archanea/Falchion/Red[edit]

In Cipher characters originating from these games focus on swarming cheap units, fitting how many of these characters lacked solid personalities or dialog past their original chapter. One mechanic unique (aside from Lianna and Rowan, the colorless heroes of Fire Emblem Warriors) to Red is Hero Skills, which changes the main character mid-play.

  • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (ファイアーエムブレム 暗黒竜と光の剣) on the Famicom (NES), often known by early fans as Dark Dragon and the Sword of Light or just FE1. The pantless prince Marth is forced to flee from his country of Altea after Dolhr, who has obtained supernatural aid from some old artifacts and some evil dragons, invaded it. After his cover is blown in exile, he and his retainers decide to join forces with the other countries of Archanea, including the Holy Kingdom of Archanea, who are trying to fight Dolhr. Along the way he acquires the legendary sword Falchion (which isn't actually a falchion) and the Fire Emblem shield, along with a pegasus-riding lover who's put more points in Diplomacy than he has. Being the first entry, it's exceptionally primitive and lacks many basic features of later games, the most obvious three being that healers can't level up by healing and instead can only get XP by being attacked by an enemy and not dying (quite a task given their frailty), not being able to see the enemy's movement range when selecting them, and the inability to rearrange units in the deployment phase (this can be worked around by removing all units from deployment and re-adding them in a particular order). It has important historical value, as one of the first console video games to try to tell an intricate story and for being a pioneer of many of the mechanics later games would tinker with and improve on, but, whilst its probably best to play one of the remakes instead, the originals are still interesting for their bizarre and often broken mechanics like priests who heal by taking damage.
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (ファイアーエムブレム 新・暗黒竜と光の剣, lit New Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light) on the DS was the 11th game and is a remake of the first game. While it fixes the basic issues and gives Marth some much needed pants, it still lacks much of the advanced mechanics found in later (Thracia 776 onward) games, generally serving more as a remaster than a remake. It also, for some bizarre reason, makes the new content impossible to access by a rational mind by requiring you kill off the majority of your characters at a rate even the worst players couldn't manage without doing it on purpose. This was corrected by a fanmade Full Content Patch, and is arguably canon given the next game has everyone survive and also refers to events from the new levels.
  • Fire Emblem Gaiden (ファイアーエムブレム外伝) on the Famicom was the second game and set on Valentia, a continent far to the west of Archanea. It stars Alm, a youth that eventually acquires another, separate, Falchion (that's still not a falchion!) and Celica, a sword wielding priestess. The mechanics actually got weirder here instead of more polished and introduced concepts that would never or almost never be seen in the series again like magic that requires spending HP to use, shields as equipable items, towns that could be walked around and explored, no money mechanics, and infinite-use weapons and items. The maps in this game are really terrible, open with limited terrain, turning battles into tactics-free slugfests. Origin of the weaksauce-rookie with huge growth potential, in the form of the Villager class, who also indirectly introduced the concept of multiple choices after class changing. As its title implies, a weird sidestep more than anything else, but one that cemented the series' knack for innovation and exploration of new ideas rather than resting on laurels forever.
    • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (ファイアーエムブレム Echoes もうひとりの英雄王, lit Echoes Another Hero King) on the 3DS is the fifteenth game and a remake of Gaiden. It's been officially released in English, and, unfortunately, follows in previous games' footsteps of being more of a remaster than a remake, keeping many of the weird experimental mechanics that most fans and reviewers agree were better left in the past. The maps were barely improved, though it's the first game in the series to have full voice acting, and includes a few methods of reducing difficulty, like giving the player a limited number of chances to turn back the clock. The story and characters were also somewhat expanded upon, with the introduction of the Support mechanic to give the latter some extra fleshing out.
  • Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (ファイアーエムブレム 紋章の謎) on the Super Famicom (SNES) was the 3rd game in the series and where it started to hit its stride. Two years after the original game, Marth has found pants and became king of Altea where he awaits his marriage to the princess he spent his exile with. A two year peace ends when the Kingdom of Archanea forces Marth to assemble his men and crush a rebellion in Grust. It included a remake of the original game which uses the new mechanics and contains many differences, including removal of several gimmicky filler levels. Arguably the first modern Fire Emblem, and the template all later games would either use or break away from. Remains a fan favorite in Japan and its sales record has yet to be topped.
    • BS Fire Emblem: Archanea War Chronicles (BS ファイアーエムブレム アカネイア戦記編) on the Super Famicom with the (Broadcast) Satellaview is a sidestory that was only briefly playable. Using the Mystery of the Emblem engine this set of four chapters with an objective to survive as long as possible while collecting as much loot as possible. Each chapter was a prequel or sidestory to Mystery of the Emblem.
    • New Mystery of the Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow (ファイアーエムブレム新・紋章の謎〜光と影の英雄〜) on the DS was the 12th game and a remake of the third. It generally tightens up the original, expands the personality of the previously bland characters, and remains quite good. It was for some reason not translated to English, but a fan translation exists. It introduced two mechanics which were well executed here but directly contributed to later controversies in the series: My Unit/The Avatar, a player created original character, and Casual Mode, where dead units only stay dead for the one chapter. Since Shadow Dragon existed the remake of the original was not included, but a remake of the BS episodes are. It is generally considered quite good, and a significant improvement over Shadow Dragon.

Jugrdal/Flag/Yellow[edit]

Yellow cards have low support values, but higher than average attack and non-support ways to boost attack. This is fitting, given it was this era that introduced the Support mechanic to the games, originally called Love and War, and much more focused on romance than platonic friendships between multiple parties. They also have a unique mechanic known as Bond Skill, which can only be used when they are set as Bonds. Supporting Bond Skills is that, so far, all cards that restore a net positive number of Bonds to face up status are yellow, though it is by no means a common ability even among yellow characters. So far Leif, Lewyn, Linoan, Ethlyn and Deirdre have cards capable of doing this. Jugdral is actually in the same world as Archanea, located to the south of that continent with its edge visible on Awakening's world map.

  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (ファイアーエムブレム 聖戦の系譜) for the Super Famicom (SNES) was the 4th game in the series. Naturally, it opens with Lord Sigurd riding forth to bravely defend the duchies of Grannvale from a sudden invasion by the neighboring Kingdom of Verdane, only to stumble into a huge conspiracy full of evil gods and mystical bloodlines that sees him fighting epic battles and falling in love. It breaks the mold right after Mystery of the Emblem set it: chapters are few but maps are gigantic, easily the size of two to five levels of other Fire Emblem titles, and with multiple objectives per map. The entire army can always be deployed and can pay to have broken weapons reforged, but units can't easily trade items and each have their own money supplies rather than pooling it all together. Class changes require visiting specific buildings and don't reset levels, and many abilities that would normally come standard, like counter attacking or scoring critical hits, are folded into the skill system and made unique to specific units and bloodlines. It also introduced the weapon triangle and Support conversations (here called "Love and War") to the series, both of which would be a part of all non-remake games to come. Eventually, players control a second generation that are the children of the original cast, via a very spoiler-y plot twist, that inherit special stats and skills from their parents, along with "bloodlines" that qualify them to use various OP special family heirloom weapons and items. (Or, if the player ignored the Love and War system, or possibly just shipped poorly, they are left with intentionally-sucky weaklings who inherit nothing useful. Whoops.) A genuinely great game and a quantum leap in terms of the kinds of mature storytelling and colorful, likable characters the franchise would become famous for. Unfortunately, if you're playing it for the first time and aren't consulting a variety of guides and mathematical charts, huge chunks of the game's best elements are locked behind opaque bullshit, and the uber-long maps make the series' trademark perma-death even more punishing than usual, on top of unbalancing the game in favor of super-mobile mounted classes over slow, plodding defenders. Tsundere in video game form, and the kind you've got to spend the whole show getting to know before she stops beating you up for just making conversation.
  • Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 (ファイアーエムブレム トラキア776) was the 5th game in the series and the final game ever released for the Super Famicom, coming out three years after the Nintendo 64 was released and mere months before the GameCube was announced after several failed attempts to make an N64 game were scrapped and recycled into it and future titles. Predictably, the game is set in the nation of Thracia in the year 776 (during the middle of the previous game), where Quan's (Sigurd's brother-in-law) son, Lief, is running a rebellion against the evil empire. Infamously one of the most difficult games in the franchise, this sucker is stingy with both money and XP, and has map design that ranges from the downright sadistic, cruel, and mean to the seemingly outright inept, though more "normal" for the franchise than the maps from its predecessor. It introduced the Rescue mechanic and differing stage objective, both of which would remain in the series going forward. It was also the first Fire Emblem game to include branching paths and sidequests, Fog of War, hiding terrain as well as enemies, and the Capture mechanic, which would return in limited form in Fates.
    • However Thracia 776 also introduced many less loved mechanics that are seen as failures. During escape maps, any character who doesn't use the escape tile before the lord is considered captured(only obtainable again through a gaiden map) and thus is extremely hair pullingly frustrating for those going in blind or simply forgetting about a unit or the mechanic until after you had the Lord use the escape tile. The fatigue mechanic, which has characters gain Fatigue if deployed in battles, until they max fatigue making them unable to be deployed in a map, seems intended to force the player to distribute already-stingy XP inefficiently.
    • Also, the story has received criticism for being so shitdark that it's hard to invest... and without the game it's an interquel to, it doesn't exactly have the most satisfying possible resolution with the most pathetic final boss in the franchise.
    • Thracia 776 is generally one of the most divisive games in the series, with some loving it for its difficulties and others hating it for that.

Elibe and Magvel/Legendary Weapons/Purple[edit]

In Cipher, characters from these games focus on support skills, which still fits as the modern incarnation of the Support system started here. Characters from Magvel (which isn't actually in the same world as Elibe as far as we know, but doesn't have any other games set there and is linked with them through all being on the GBA) often have anti-monster effects or (in one case) monster tribal, fitting as non-dragon monster enemies were introduced in their game. As of this writing only three Purple monsters were printed and only 5 monsters were printed overall, so it isn't utilized all that much. More recently introduced are legendary weapon skills, which activate when a character's other skill is activated multiple times in one turn.

  • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade (ファイアーエムブレム 封印の剣), known by early fans as Sword of Seals (since it is related to a building translated as the "Shrine of Seals" in the next game), was the 6th game and released on the GBA. With his father, Eliwood, ill and the League's official leader, Hector, dead, young Roy is pressed into leadership of the Lycian League after it is invaded by its belligerent neighbor Bern. Very much a back-to-basics title after the wild-but-sloppy experimentation that characterized the Jugdral era, with a simple plot and no map objectives other than seizing the throne/keep or killing the final boss. Map design is unexceptional, but mostly playable outside of a few awful tire-fires involving mounted units and terrain that slows them to a crawl. Units often join weak and have shitty growth rates that leave them open to having the RNG gods bend them over and go in dry without lube; this is further complicated by awful weapon hit-chances. Enemies miss all the time too, but they're probably stronger than you, they probably have better crit rates than you, and there're a lot more of them so they'll have more chances to try and get lucky than you will. Returning from the previous game are branching story paths, based on which routes you wanted to take on your quest around the continent, leading to different sets of recruitable characters and treasures, though, unfortunately, it was done sloppily and many of the routes are just better-designed and more-rewarding than others. One new feature that remained with the series going forward was changing hit calculations to be based on the average of two random numbers instead of just one. The mathematical result is that displayed hit rates of 50% or higher are more likely than stated, but those lower are less likely than stated. The practical result is units with high accuracy are less likely to miss on a 90+% chance and units with high evasion can dodge more consistently. Both are great in further games but marginal improvements (if not outright negative) here where most of your units are already struggling to hit and dodge. It's not bad, but it has the misfortune of being surpassed by both its successors on the same system and in the same engine.
    • Champion's Sword (覇者の剣) is a manga that set in the same world as this game. It starts as a side-story but eventually becomes an alternate telling of the game's story. Character unique to the manga appear in Cipher as purple cards.
  • Fire Emblem (ファイアーエムブレム 烈火の剣) was the 7th game, also on the GBA, and the first to be released in English, sans subtitle. It is known as The Blazing Blade in English releases of spinoff titles and older English fans sometimes refer to it as Blazing Sword or just FE7. The story for this game is unusual in that it not only lacks a full-scale war, but has three main Lords (Lyn, Eliwood, and Hector) rather than one, each of whom gets their own "story," though Hector's is basically a retelling of Eliwood's from his point of view, with a few chapters being radically different and a few exclusive as a result. Lyn's story involves her carving through an army of assassins on the way to her mother's homeland to reclaim her birthright from her scheming uncle, Eliwood and Hector's both pick up a few years later with them setting off to find Eliwood's absent father and elbowing into the machinations of a mysterious mercenary company/crime syndicate called the Black Fang. It also introduced the concept of the player being inserted into the game as a character in their own right whom the other characters converse with, though unlike later incarnations, the player takes the form of a faceless "tactician" who never speaks, doesn't directly fight on the battlefield, and is only minimally customizable. Generally seen as a huge step forward from its predecessor, with a wonderfully-original story (for this franchise anyway), popular cast of characters, fun maps, the introduction of static-painted cutscenes to add drama when sprites talking to each other won't do, and great replay value. The biggest black mark against it is that the player has to first clear Lyn's story to access later content, and Lyn's story is an elaborate, ten-chapter tutorial teaching a player who's never touched a strategy RPG how to play Fire Emblem, meaning that while it makes a great gateway drug to the rest of the series, it can feel dull to repeat players who have the basic nailed down. It also has a number of callbacks to the less-interesting and never-localized game that preceded it, but that's what wikis are for.
  • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (ファイアーエムブレム 聖魔の光石) on the GBA was the 8th game in the series. Set on the continent of Magvel, where a long-lived peace is shattered when the Kingdom of Renais is invaded by its former ally, the Grado Empire. Grado's apparent motive is to destroy the Sacred Stones of each country, a disturbing revelation as these stones are all that hold back the banished Demon King from reemerging. The twin heirs to Renais, Erika and Ephraim, embark on separate quests to end Grado's assault. The first few chapters largely focus on Erika, with occasional cutaways to Ephraim, with the two splitting off into their own routes and quests about a third of the way into the game and reuniting for the last few chapters. Notably, a few characters and story beats are slightly different for each protagonist. It reintroduces many lost mechanics from previous games, such as a world map, very-limited form via class-based skills (in the last title, only the Assassin class had a skill in the form of the ability to kill any enemy with a critical hit), recruit characters that start weak but offer huge growth potential, and dungeons where XP and items can be ground from respawning enemies. It also expanded the concept of offering multiple options upon class changing to every class in the game, offering huge variety since every promotion can fork one of two ways. Despite being very easy, even without using the ability to grind infinitely, the base gameplay is solid, the story actually has an interesting and complex villain for a change, and the characters are just as charming as ever. A popular source for FE GBA romhacks, given the large ROM size and depth of mechanics.

Tellius/Lehran's Medallion/Green[edit]

In Cipher characters from these games focus on leveling up and promoting to achieve high power, with abilities that only work if a character has sufficient cards on its stack. It also has tribal effects for Laguz characters, who appeared only in this series.

  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (ファイアーエムブレム 蒼炎の軌跡, literally Trail of the Blue Flames) released on the GameCube was the 9th game (though it began development before Sacred Stones did). When the country of Crimea is invaded by Daein, the mercenary Ike stumbles upon a woman claiming to be the lost princess of Crimea. Their attempts to flee Daein and obtain aid for Crimea take them across the world. It properly reintroduced skills to the series and was the first game in 3D. Ike was the only main character in the series who is not a noble until the introduction of Byleth in Three Houses.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (ファイアーエムブレム 暁の女神, literally Goddess of Dawn) released relatively early in the Wii's life and was the 10th game in the series. After its defeat three years ago, Daein is occupied by the country of Begnion. Begnion's occupying forces have proved to be abusive which has prompted the creation of the rebellious Dawn Brigade, led by the "Silver-Haired Maiden" Michiah who has mysterious powers. Unusually Daein regains its independence a mere third into the game and the prospective shifts between multiple different fronts of an increasingly tangled war. Clearly rushed to be an early release for the new Wii, it has quite a bit of unused content and fairly shallow characters, but the gameplay remains solid overall aside from the extreme differences in unit power. The shifting focus really makes this obvious, with half the Dawn Brigade being useless and the other half starved for experience but Ike's forces are capable of destroying everything in their path with minimal effort. Included height difference in maps with bonuses and penalties for attacking from/against higher ground, but this strangely hasn't been seen since.

Ylisse/Naga's Brand/Blue[edit]

In Cipher characters from this game focus on class change (but not to the extent of Tellius), orb manipulation and have easily swarmed monsters with their own tribal support. Ylisse is actually the same continent as Archanea but in the distant future where technology is exactly the same or worse.

  • Fire Emblem: Awakening (ファイアーエムブレム覚醒) was the 13th game and released on the 3DS. It stars Chrom, the prince of the Holy Kingdom of Ylisse (a country of the same name, not the continent as a whole) and wielder of the Falchion (which looks different but is still not a falchion) who finds an amnesiac tactician while hunting bandits. The two quickly come into conflict with the country of Plegia and meet a mysterious man claiming to be the legendary Hero King Marth. During development it was expected to be the last game in the series ever due to a stint of poor sales from the very expensive to develop Tellius series. As a result, it was designed to incorporate a "Greatest Hits" collection of previous titles' mechanics: the grinding opportunities from Gaiden, the second generation from Geneology of the Holy War, the world map and elaborate class system from Sacred Stones, the tactician from Blazing Sword and the My Unit from Heroes of Light and Shadow glued together to form the tactician in that opening paragraph and serving as the character's personal avatar in the in the game, the taguel, reworked Laguz that instead use the same mechanics as the Manakete, the skill customization from Tellius, and, of course, the solid basic tactical structure from Mystery of the Emblem and the GBA days. Reclassing from the DS remakes was brought back and refined, with individual units now having their own set of classes based on their personality or other features, the second generation characters get their class sets based around their parents. Reclassing also allowed units to reset their level and in turn allow for stat-farming and skill-tweaking.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening' succeeded both critically and commercially, single-handedly reviving Fire Emblem as a overseas franchise and ushering in legions of old, new, and recently-disenfranchised fans, while proving a massive draw for the 3DS as a system.
    • However there are problems to be have. the combination of a self-insert and romance led to a large influx of people who didn't care about the actual game to make the game wildly successful. Many of the continuity nods backfired with blatant errors such as forgetting what the titular macguffin, Fire Emblem, actually does or things like the taguel being very shoehorned and making little sense. These errors are mostly likely to the game's rushed development and lack of the original writers(see here for a list of only some. Whilst the story seems ok the first time, its problems became apparent if the player stops to think. Notably it lacking world building, there are many abandoned plots, obvious contradictions(one character mentions her mother raised her, then later states she never knew her mother) and.
    • The translation isn't very good either, often changing characters into entirely different ones for no reason. The artstyle also throws away the reasonable designs of the series in favor of pure Fantasy Armor, with one character being a sexualized child. Gameplay is very unbalanced, with the main character able to clear the game almost solo in just over half an hour. This is not helped by the pair-up mechanic, which is inherently broken by virtue of taking a mechanic (rescuing) that was already very useful when it only gave penalties and giving massive bonuses instead. Though to be fair here, all Fire Emblem games have broken gameplay.
    • It also introduced paid DLC to Nintendo properties, inviting much scorn and much skub.
    • Overall Awakening is both very loved whilst also being divisive.

Hoshido/White and Nohr/Black[edit]

In Cipher this unnamed continent has two symbols, one for each of the two warring countries. Hoshido focuses on swarming while Nohr gets bonuses when it destroys units and abilities that destroy units. Shared between the two is the Dragon Blood mechanic possessed by the royal families, which gives every unit with a Dragon Blood skill the Dragon Blood skills of the other units you have deployed.

  • The three variants of Fire Emblem Fates (ファイアーエムブレム if) are the 14th game in the series. After the success of Awakening the next game was made for all the new fans of "the series" (who were really just fans of Awakening) and places a greater emphasis on waifu shit and the player avatar. A thoroughly "love it or hate it" installment in the franchise, either it's a flawed but highly enjoyable trilogy of games or a Daemon-created abomination that never should've saw the light of day. Trust me when I say there is NO middle ground, and more than its fair share of flame wars have been fought arguing over the quality of the game (or lack thereof, depending on where you stand). Hell, impressively enough, the game got its own Broken Base page on TV Tropes before the game was even officially released state-side, so that's when you know you're dealing with Wardian-levels of Skub. Less impressively, though, the translation became consistently awful to the point the works of 4Kids bore more resemblance to the original: Changes to the names (Even when it makes no sense like Harold, a man with a giant H on his outfit, being changed to Arthur even though there was already a character by that name in the series) and personalities of characters are done at random. Obvious references to myth and the series history are missed while wide sections of content were cut out at random as well. This got so bad a completely independent fan translation exists.
    • Birthright (白夜王国, lit White Night Kingdom) took the waifuism to the extreme, to the point the avatar's siblings can be romanced (they literally carry around a letter revealing they aren't blood siblings that they only mention during love confessions). Game is either a massive improvement over Awakening considerably (on the gameplay front, at least), or a easy-as-hell chore to play. On the bright side, the story here is the least offensive of the three narratives, being surprisingly okay (not decent or especially not good, just okay) given Fates' iffy track record with any semblance of quality writing.
    • Conquest (黒夜王国, lit Black Night Kingdom) has some remarkably high-quality gameplay (some even saying it's the best in the series), and the cast is generally the better of the two kingdoms. Unfortunately, the story is so hilariously bad that it loops back to being comedy central by how confusing and stupid everything is. Good news is though, the story being made of pure fail doesn't make most of the other characters not interesting (especially if you care to delve into the better supports), which is good, given you're stuck with a lot of these Nohrians for the entire route. Overall, by far the best of the three routes by a heavy margin, and one could make a decent argument it's one of the better Fire Emblem games... if you dare, which to be fair wouldn't even be a hot take opinion if the story writing wasn't ridiculous.
    • Revelation (インビジブルキングダム, the English Invisible Kingdom rendered phonetically) is closer to Birthright in gameplay but slightly more challenging at the cost of most maps being terrible gimmick chapters. Good news is, it contains almost every character from both routes. The bad news? Story is even worse than Conquest, and doesn't have it being "so bad it's good" saving its anymore - it's just painful all around. While by no means a bad game officially, it's generally seen as the weakest of the trilogy by a long-shot; whenever somebody who hated Fates had something bad to say about it, they generally direct their ire to this game. That said, don't let the game being seen as the weak link detract you from enjoying it if you do; just keep in mind it's objective flaws, and whether you love it or hate it is purely up to you, as we here at /tg/ let you do as you will.

Fódlan/Crest of Flames/Brown[edit]

Only four promo cards for the main characters, none of which have unique mechanics, have been revealed.

  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses (ファイアーエムブレム 風花雪月, Wind, Flower, Snow and Moon) is the sixteenth game in the series, released on the Nintendo Switch. Strangely the majority of the development for this game came from Koei Tecmo, with only a few senior Intelligent Systems staff involved. The main character is once again a player stand-in. They're a mercenary who bonds with a loli dragon that allows him or her a limited ability to rewind time. After saving a bunch of students, the player is invited to become a teacher at the prestigious Garreg Mach Monastery military academy. The player picks one of three classes, each representing students of one of the continent's four coexisting powers, the Adrestian Empire, the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, and the Leicester Alliance, all under the auspices of the Church of Seiros. Unfortunately, these happy days of peace cannot last, and eventually war flares up, the powers all come to blows, with the player having to pick a side and kill at least some of their former students. Another wildly experimental title, liberally mixing in time-management mechanics from the Persona games alongside an even-more-customizable spin on the class system, where most characters start in Noble/Commoner classes and take exams to be guided into different class trees, equippable battalions of troops, and the removal of restrictions on weapon usage between classes (though some are better with certain weapons than with others). It also (fittingly for a game that clearly takes much inspiration from Geneology of the Holy War) revives some lost Jugdral mechanics, like Holy Blood (now called Crests) and the Dismount feature, as well as the turn-back mechanic from Shadows of Valentia and special attacks that consume additional weapon durability. Generally seen as a better second iteration of many of Fates's best new ideas (though unfortunately weapon durability makes a return), and has received praise for both serious, mature storytelling in a war where all sides have shades to them such that none start as "the bad guys," but that also mostly avoids sliding into grimdark. It does the best job yet of marrying together bits from both the classic and modern incarnations of the series, and is a great new step forward out of the 3DS era.
    • Black Eagles/Adrestian Empire:
    • Blue Lions/Holy Kingdom of Faerghus:
    • Golden Deer/Leicester Alliance:
    • Church of Seiros:

Colorless[edit]

Colorless cards are those of character original to Cipher (though cards of these characters sometimes have the symbols of random existing universes instead), those of characters originating in one of the spinoff titles, certain promotional cards, or the character Anna (who appears in every game in the series but Gaiden). They have no set mechanics and are splashable since they don't need a color bond to deploy, but don't provide a color when played as bonds.

  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE (幻影異聞録♯FE, Illusory Revelations ♯FE) was a crossover between Fire Emblem and... Shin Megami Tensei (read: Persona) except not really a crossover so much as something that (badly) took elements from both. The gameplay is well designed, but nobody wants to touch it because it's a crossover nobody asked for and did that in a way nobody wanted. The English version couldn't shake this because the translation is beyond awful, going as far as to redo the Japanese audio so the voice acting matches the blatant censorship. The original human characters are all colorless, but the Persona Mirage they use are Red or Blue (matching the character they were based on). When a Mirage and its user are both deployed, they gain bonuses.
    • Encore: A Switch enhanced port. Censored even in the Japanese version and bombed as a result because this poor game accidentally swallowed a cursed amulet or some shit and cannot get a fucking break to literally save its life or legacy.
  • Fire Emblem Warriors (ファイアーエムブレム 無双, Fire Emblem Musou) is a musou (Dynasty Warriors) crossover game with two original main characters. It managed to fuck up a really basic concept by focusing exclusively on the cast of Awakening and Fates (Plus 3 Shadow Dragon characters so they could falsely claim it wasn't just the 3DS entries) who already interacted with eachother and making everyone gameplay clones. Infamously focused a lot on the weapon triangle despite over three quarters of the rosters exclusively using swords anyhow. Has bizzare fanservice costume destruction that results in sportswear that often covers more than what the characters were originally wearing.
  • Fire Emblem: Heroes is a mobile gacha game with stripped down Fire Emblem-style grid-tactics gameplay on fairly-small maps. Variations on characters from across the series can be summoned (introducing many classic characters to an English audience for the first time in an official release) with voice acting and everything. It has a story focused on a pair of twin Lords, Alfonse and Sharena, from a nation that summons heroes from across space and time, and currently at war with another that enslaves them. There's a bit more to it than that, but while there's some intrigue to be had it's not one of the deeper mobile gacha game stories. Notable for retaining triangle mechanics, but reducing them to red/blue/green colors specific to units. Decent enough gameplay, for a cut-down free-to-play mobile game.
  • Fire Emblem Cipher is the card game you're reading about! There are (so far) 7 original characters created just for it. Their class changes every appearance, and, unlike other spinoff characters, they typically aren't colorless but a random color. The characters that existed at the time could be recruited in DLC for Shadows of Valentia.

Related titles[edit]

TearRing Saga Utna Heroes Saga[edit]

Legally distinct Fire Emblem made by the series creator, Shouzou Kaga, for the playstation 1, after Nintendo cancelled his projects. Its success paved the way for other indie spiritual successors like Bloodstained.

Very influenced by Gaiden and Mystery of the Emblem, TearRing Saga follows the lore of the setting very accurate, ironically moreso then the later Awakening, and is basically a Fire Emblem game in all but copyright. Several Fire Emblem characters show up or have substitutes within the title, most notably the series mascot, Anna is in the game.

Nintendo is so mad about TearRing Saga that to this day they refuse to mention Shouzou Kaga and infamously left out all mention of him or the development of the first six games in the series in a book on the history of Fire Emblem.

Classes[edit]

In Fire Emblem each character, friendly or enemy, has a class that determines what weapons they can use and at what point their stats cap. High-level units of most classes can class change (also known as promoting) and gain new abilities and weapons on top of a nice array of stats boosts (including an increase to movement in most cases), though the exact mechanism varies by the game it almost always involves using some kind of item or other limited resource. Typically, doing so resets their level to 1, and levels typically cap out at around 20; this means that a player must weigh the advantages of powering up a character by promoting them sooner versus the long-term costs of promoting a character before they've gotten as many level increases as possible.

In Cipher, classes tend to have a few consistent abilities and, for heavily-armored, flying, or mounted units, offer certain affinities beyond their listed weapon, game of origin, and sex. Every card has a class listed, but this has no direct mechanical effect. Class changing is represented by being able to deploy more-powerful versions of units on top of base models, which have reduced cost and grant a card draw. Cards without a class change cost can still be added to existing units as a "level up" but this doesn't draw a card. Tellius cards in particular depend on having a large number of cards stacked in this way to achieve their full potential.

Lord[edit]

The class of most main characters, with only a few exceptions. Since the class is unique to each game, it varies wildly between titles. Stats wise they tend to be above-average in most areas, with a few trading speed for defense or vice versa, especially in titles with multiple Lords. They tend to promote later in the game as part of the story. Lords typically start the game with a special weapon that deals super effective damage against heavy armor and cavalry units and/or end it with a special weapon that does super-effective damage against all of the above plus monsters and the final boss. This mechanic frequently shows up in Cipher on one of their lower cost cards as a damage bonus against these unit types.

In games with one Lord, the Lord is usually a sword-wielding infantryman with very well-balanced stats, comparable to a Mercenary. In games with multiple Lords, the individual Lords tend to carve out niches as their own custom variants on existing classes; refer to The Blazing Sword, where Eliwood's Knight Lord, Lyn's Blade Lord, and Hector's Great Lord promotion variants are essentially souped-up Paladin, Swordmaster, and Warrior variants, respectively, with slight differences of weapon proficiency, differentiating the three mechanically.

Archer>Sniper[edit]

Basic ranged attack unit, classically promotes to Sniper. Can hit targets two squares out (sometimes three with special and limited weapons), but are helpless against adjacent attakers. Tend to get regarded as low-tier, since they compete poorly against both mages (who share their fragility but can effectively fight at range and counterattack in melee) and melee units using thrown weapons that also work in melee. Their main selling points are their high Skill (meaning they can almost always hit even in situations where mages have accuracy issues and enjoy good crit ratings) and get a huge damage bonus against flying units. They work better in "dungeon levels," where they can attack enemies over walls without fear of being torn apart on turns they can't secure kills. They can also man siege engines in games that use them for wacky range and high damage. Snipers sometimes gain skills that give them a chance to always hit a target. Later games in the series have attempted to patch these problems with mixed results.

In Cipher they tend to get the ability to attack anywhere, regardless of battlefield position, attack boosts when attacking, and anti-evasion skills. The adjusted combat mechanics in Cipher mean their issues with being counter-attacked aren't as big of a problem.

(Armor) Knight>General[edit]

Heavily-armored but slow-moving foot knight, classically promotes to General. They are excellent defensive units and can hold down choke points with their heavy defense and good attack, but tend to suffer from bigger maps where their reduced movement speed becomes a bigger weakness, and their generally-low resistance makes them easy prey for enemy mages, on top of taking bonus damage from anti-armor weapons. Typically get skills that reduce or negate weapon damage, and associated with lance weapons.

Often Knights tend to struggle between their low speed, low movement and poor resistance. Non-Japanese players were however introduced to the class with Wallace, a guy who is intentionally overpowered for the short time he's around for tutorial purposes, and Oswin, who joins early, starts strong and could easily be the best armor knight in the entire series. If you're wondering why random armored guys become generals despite not holding that rank, the armor knight class couldn't promote in the original game but a late joining character, who was a general in story, got the class as "armor knight but better". Future games linked the two classes and didn't bother renaming general.

In Cipher they get bonuses when under attack by non-magic units.


Cavalier>Paladin[edit]

Mounted knight, classically promotes to paladin. Typically are excellent bread-and-butter units with well-rounded stats, high mobility, good equipment selection, and, in later games, extra movement depending on the action they ended their turn with. Their many strengths are kept in check by taking greater movement penalties in rough terrain, and inability to move through mountains, and plus the odd anti-horse weapon that can fuck them up from here to Advance Wars. Some games also give them penalties for indoor maps.

This set of classes has two recurring archetypes associated with it: first, a pair of cavaliers, one red and one green, one serious and professional and the other laid-back and eccentric, tend to join early in most games. This duo is known known as Cain and Abel after the pair from the original game. Second, an old Paladin that has great stats early game but terrible ones late game tends to join early game with a goal of helping you survive early levels but potentially stealing experience from units that need it if used carelessly. This character is known as a Jeigan, a spelling that persists in fandom even though the character has been officially romanized as Jagan since the release of Shadow Dragon. Some later games instead make this character usable all game long if properly handled, this variation is known as the Oifey.

In Cipher, all cavaliers get movement bonuses. Cain and Abel archetypes get combo bonuses from both being on the field at the same time as their counterparts. Jeigan archetypes have good stats but suffer from penalties like being unable to move or not being usable as a Bond.

Dancer/Bard[edit]

Infantry units who either use swords or can't attack, but can reactivate an ally that's already moved and acted that turn to do so again. Even a cursory knowledge of the game should easily reveal why this makes them some of the best units in any given game. Don't tend to get promotions, but they sometimes have increased level caps to compensate.

In Cipher dancers and bards, unsurprisingly, have the ability to untap tapped units in exchange for flipping Bonds.

Dark Mage/Shaman>Dark Sage/Druid[edit]

Users of dark magic, usually not necessarily evil. Don't have a "classic" promotion; the class was only made playable in later installments and its upgrades have not been consistently named, or even shared consistent themes and mechanics. Dark magic is generally heavier, slower and more powerful than "normal" magic. Some dark tomes have extra effects attached to them, like allowing the caster to regain some of their damage dealt as health or penetrating enemy defenses to inflict flat damage. Even some modern games, like the Tellius titles, lack dark magic mechanics or spellbooks altogether.

In Cipher this class focuses on destruction of the enemy hand or deck and getting bonuses from it.

Fighter>Warrior[edit]

Axe users with high strength and HP, but generally average or worse at everything else, classically promotes to Warrior. Warriors get the ability to use bows upon promoting, but since flying units tend to use lances anyway and handaxes exist, this is more of a curiosity than a big power boost. They usually show up in pairs, with differing stat and growth spreads; depending on metagame for individual titles this can make one better overall than the other. Was a total sausage fest of a class until Fates introduced the first female fighter in the series.

Gameplaywise, Fighters are extremely scattered in quality, with most being terrible and a handful (Orsin, Halvan, Boyd, Nolan) being awesome.

In Cipher this class focuses on forcing the enemy to discard cards or mill their deck, and on getting bonuses from doing both.

Manakete[edit]

Winged humanoids who can use the powers of "dragonstones" to transform into powerful dragons to fight, doesn't promote but sometimes gets a higher level cap to compensate. Very strong, but they typically join late in the game, and their dragonstones are usually limited-use and either one-of-a-kind or ultra-rare. Nearly always lolis of the "much older than they look" subvariety, some of which are still given romantic support options. Notably, the Tellius titles broke with tradition and instead made "dragon" a tribe of Laguz, none of whom were loli, and the first game released in America was one of the few to lack a manakete outright. (Though you can visit the house where the one from The Binding Blade is hiding out as an easter egg on one map.)

In Cipher they are weak out of the gate but get large temporary bonuses from flipping Bonds and/or large always-on bonuses from having a large number of Bonds out.

Mage>Sage[edit]

Offensive blaster magic users, with weak defenses and hitpoints, but good speed, good attack, and the ability to target the Resistance stat rather than Defense, classically promotes to Sage. Since most classes that are neither magic users or pegasus knights tend to skimp on Resistance, they can be quite deadly, and they can use magic to attack both adjacent enemies and those two squares away. When they promote, they gain the the ability to use healing/utility magic staves as well as blast, greatly enhancing their flexibility and making splitting the group easier. Magic triangles aren't as set in stone as the sword/spear/axe triangle, but common incarnations include both making fire/wind/lightning into their own little triangle and dark/light magic into their own special thing, or lumping together all elemental spells into "anima" magic, and making a light/dark/anima triangle.

In Cipher they specialize in conditional effects, either drawing extra cards or gaining bonuses dependent upon allies.

Mercenary>Hero[edit]

Sword-carrying infantry with balanced, above-average stats, classically promotes to Hero. Extremely well-rounded and reliable, like a discount Lord, whose only weakness is the dearth of swords with ranged capability. (And magic swords that offer ranged attack options are some combination of rare, restricted to specific characters, or coming with built-in penalties like an inability to score critical hits.) When they promote they gain the ability to use axes (so they can grab handaxes for ranged attacks), and their high skill and speed let them counteract the low accuracy that is that weapon's traditional drawback.

In Cipher they get or give bonuses when enough other allies deployed.

Myrmidon>Swordmaster[edit]

Light, agile sword users who trade high Speed and Skill stats for weaker Defense to serve as Dexterity-based crit-fishers, classically promotes to Swordmaster. Sometimes even come with unique skills or equipment to promote critical hits. Often, an early game myrmidon begins a level as an enemy and must be persuaded to join; this presents the player with the challenge of trying to get someone close enough to talk to them without one of the two dying. A popular solution is to take the Jeigan's weapons and use him as a meatshield lure. Added in later titles; the class as a whole was based on the Mercenary character Navarre from the first game whose unique stat build was so popular that an entire offshoot class was created in later titles to imitate it. (And the remakes outright make him a myrmidon.)

In Cipher they have anti-evasion abilities and abilities that support critical hits and evasion. Bonuses for other sword using allies pops up as well.

Priest/Cleric>Bishop[edit]

Staff-users, granting access to healing and utility magic, but carry no weapons and cannot defend themselves at all if attacked, classically promotes to Bishop. Bishops gain the ability to use magic and hit back, though in games with Light magic they're restricted to it, and it tends to be either the "fast but less powerful" magic, or derive benefits primarily from being outside the strictures of the triangle altogether. Some games, notably Awakening, which lacks Light magic, have instead given them weapons to use. In the original Archanea games, the Bishop was instead the shared promotion of both the mage and cleric classes, and gained the strengths of both.

In Cipher most basic healers have the ability to flip bonds and tap themselves to return a card from the retreat zone to your hand.

Pegasus Knight>Falcoknight (>Dracoknight in Archanea games)[edit]

Lance-using flying units with awesome movement, the ability to ignore terrain movement penalties (though this generally means they also ignore defensive bonuses), high Speed, and the only non-magic using class to gain good Resistance, classically promotes to the Falcoknight, though the Archanea games instead had them share the Dracoknight promotion with Wyvern Riders. On the downside they tend to have bad Defense, have mediocre Strength, and a crippling vulnerability to bows that sometimes extends to wind magic. Their promotion usually gains the ability to use swords. Playable examples were exclusively-female until Fates, though some seemingly-male generic enemies showed up. Tend to come in groups of three, either sisters or friends, which can, in an easter egg, initiate a special ability called a triangle attack, which has a 100% chance of a critical attack, if all three are lined up when one of them goes in for the kill. This has its uses, but is generally more of a cool party trick than an effective tactical maneuver.

Coincidentally, Pegasus Knight is the only class name Intelligent Systems owns the trademark for.

In Cipher their triangle attacks are more useful, given how attacking works and the ability to untap partners so more than one of them can benefit, and they have abilities that can move allies.

Thief[edit]

Squishy but fast and evasive guys armed with swords that aid the group with a dizzying array of utility powers. These include the ability to open doors and chests without using keys (though sometimes by spending charges off a special class-exclusive Lockpick item), see further into fog/darkness than anyone else, and attempt to steal unequipped weapons and items from enemies, even if they otherwise wouldn't drop them upon death. Some Thieves are actually decent fighters as well as utility players; these tend to act like even-squishier Myrmidons. If they can promote and what they can promote into varies wildly between games; the two most common examples are Assassins, who lean into the killy side of the class and gain special powers to kill enemies outright upon scoring critical hits, and Rogues, who instead lean even harder into the class's utility powers, like no longer needing to use Lockpicks to open doors. Sacred Stones used both as the two branches the class could take upon promotion.

In Cipher they have abilities that can reveal and/or discard the opposing player's cards, and/or let the player draw more cards of their own.

Troubadour>Valkyrie/Paladin[edit]

Rather than, as their name suggests, an iteration of the bard/dancer class, mounted staff users, classically promote to Valkyries. In exchange for higher movement and (in some games) the ability to move after healing, they typically join after unmounted healers, and at lower levels to boot (a big deal since staff users are a pain to give XP to), and being mounted can be more of a problem than walking through some terrain heavy maps. Introduced in Jugdral, which also gave them the ability to use swords, though only the Tellius incarnation of Valkyrie has kept this. Another mono-gendered class, being all-female until Fates (where the Japanese version calls the class "Rod Knight" instead), which should really make them Trobairitz. Their Valkyrie promotion grants the ability to use offensive magic, usually elemental rather than Light.

In Cipher, they are largely the same as their unmounted counterparts, except for having a horse affinity marker.

Wyvern Knight>Dracoknight[edit]

Mounted flying units who ride unintelligent dragons, classically promote to Dracoknights. The Fighter to the Pegasus Knight's Myrmidon, Wyvern Knights are better brawlers than their cousins, with good Strength and Defense and average to above-average stats in most other places, but pay for it with a wretched Resistance stat even by the standards of non-magic-using classes; this is particularly deadly in games where they are vulnerable to wind magic as well as bows. Their weapon of choice was originally the lance, with promotions gaining or losing the ability to wield swords, until Radiant Dawn gave them axes instead to further differentiate them and their role on the battlefield. Typically an "antagonist" class like the Dark Mage, with most heroic examples joining the team later in the game and defecting from the other side.

In Cipher they don't really have any consistent abilities and the few represented characters draw from their own characterization rather than their class's. Also, on top of already being Flying and Mounted, they also count as Dragon units, meaning there're a lot of units that can pump out special damage against them.

Brigand/Pirate[edit]

Burly axe-toting men who're basically Fighters with even more HP and Strength, but with weaker defense and/or speed to compensate, both classically promote to Berserker. They typically show up as early-game bandit enemies with the ability to destroy villages if they reach them before you do, and thus preventing you from getting the gifts the locals grant you for warning them to shut the gates and keep them out. Since most Lords are swordsmen and women, this also lets the developers put out a scary-looking boss on earlier levels that your main character nonetheless enjoys triangle advantage against. They show up less frequently once the enemies start being professional soldiers, with a handful appearing to loot during the chaos of fights. Brigands can cross otherwise-impassable mountains and easily pass through hills, and pirates can cross otherwise-impassable seas while easily moving over rivers. Berserkers combine the two and can cross both with relative ease on top of getting a bonus to their critical rate. Playable Brigand characters are extremely rare, with only two in the entire franchise, while playable pirates or prepromoted berserkers are just generally uncommon, with only a few at a time in each game. Almost exclusively male until Fates, where Berserker was a possible promotion path for the Fighter class, and Three Houses surprisingly made Brigand a possible starting class anyone could access.


In Cipher they often have the ability to flip bonds for temporary attack increase, representing their pillaging.


External Links[edit]

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