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 are finite numbers 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.

First TCG[edit]

The original trading card game. It's best remembered for being the only source of official art for many characters from the first five games. Only small efforts have been made to translate it due to its age.

That said, the classic art, which covers every playable character and many NPCs, is often praised and is commonly used on fan-sites such as wikis. Unlike Cipher, this card game included cards for locations, events, organizations, generic classes, equipment and items from the series.

It is rarely played in Japan and not played elsewhere due to lack of a complete translation, though it is popular among collectors for its historic value. Nearly every card has been scanned and can be viewed here or on the wiki.

Cipher[edit]

Cipher is the second attempt at a TCG. While it has not been translated officially, there is a decent-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, which is extremely 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, and a change for the better since in Pokemon you can end up in a death spiral if you're screwed enough to have all your deck's key 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. Second 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 score a 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.

Support for the game is set to end in October 2020.

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 with cheap units, fitting given how many of these characters lacked solid personalities or dialog after the chapters where they joined the team. One mechanic unique to Red (aside from Lianna and Rowan, the colorless heroes of Fire Emblem Warriors) is the Hero Skill, which changes the main character mid-play.

Jugdral/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 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 with only Leif, Lewyn, Linoan, Ethlyn and Deirdre having 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.

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 given special emphasis 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.

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. This fits with this series' mechanical focus on easy leveling through post-combat XP and skills gained upon promotion. It also has tribal effects for Laguz characters, who appeared only in this era, sans the dragon-shifting "manakete" that make their way into most games but are a tribe of Laguz here, and the "taguel," "wolfskin," and "kitsune," spiritual successors to the Laguz that appear in later titles.

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.

Hoshido/White and Nohr/Black[edit]

In Cipher this unnamed continent has two symbols, one for each of the two warring nations that dominate it. Japan-inspired Hoshido focuses on swarming while medieval-European Nohr gets abilities that destroy units and bonuses when it destroys 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.

Fódlan/Crest of Flames/Brown[edit]

Units from the 16th game Three Houses. Only present in the last few sets. They have no readily apparent unique playstyle and with the incoming end of the game's support, it looks like they never will.

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.

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 without reducing any stats, offers some flat stat bonuses and increased stat caps, 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. Later games introduce other decisions, including reclassing to fish for choice skills and stat tweaks or forking promotion paths where the player may select between two possible choices at every step of promotion.

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 begins the game as a traditional Lord, Lyn as a faster, crit-focused variant comparable to a Myrmidon, and Hector a bulky axe-wielder rather like a Fighter. Their promotions diverge further, with Eliwood's Knight Lord, Lyn's Blade Lord, and Hector's Great Lord promotion variants essentially representing a souped-up Paladin, Swordmaster, and General, respectively, with different weapon proficiencies compared to their inspirations.

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 enjoy good crit ratings and can almost always hit even in situations where mages and thrown weapons have accuracy issues, the latter being a traditional weakness of the weapon type) and getting 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, the movement being a particular issue in games with huge maps that lack chokepoints. Like archers, they do better in indoor/dungeon maps where narrow corridors play to their strengths, and the Pair Up/Defense formation was a godsend for them, since it meant they could partner with and tag in and out with a mobile unit to deploy them where they needed to go. 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.

Brigand/Pirate[edit]

Burly axe-toting men who're basically Fighters with even more HP and Strength, but with even 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.

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, the ability to spend any remaining movement after ending their turn with a non-attack action. Their many strengths are kept in check by taking greater movement penalties in rough terrain and complete inability to pass through super-rough terrain like mountains, 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; a few later titles played around with this, such as Awakening making one of them female and Fates instead using the archetype for a pair of ninja brothers. Second, an old Paladin that has great stats early game but terrible growth rates that cause him to fall off later 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 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, with reasons including duplicating your most useful unit, having their own experience pool while doing it, and allowing unique tactics. Don't tend to get promotions, but they sometimes have increased level caps to compensate. Some games also give them the power to apply powerful combat buffs instead of or while reactivating them, further increasing their potency as supports and force-multipliers.

In most appearances they can wield swords, though don't necessarily have the statline to really kick ass with them. This is not universal, as the GBA trilogy didn't give them access to any weapons, and their rough equivalent in the Tellius duology can't attack, though they make up for it by being arguably the most powerful variant in the series via their ability to simultaneously refresh multiple teammates.

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. Some modern games, like Path of Radiance, even lack dark magic mechanics or spellbooks altogether; others allow only certain classes that can also use "normal" magic to use them. Dark magic is generally heavier, slower, and more powerful than "normal" magic; the Elibe titles used this to link it together with Light and "Anima" magic into a second triangle roughly analogous to the axe, sword, spear triangle. 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.

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.

Laguz[edit]

Beastfolk from the Tellius games, divided into various tribes (wolf, lion, tiger, hawk, raven, dragon, etc.) and typically not promoting the same way as beorc (plain ol' humies). They have the power to shift from 10-20% furry at most into gigantic animal forms that gain big stat boosts. Unlike manaketes, they don't rely on a finite item, but on a meter that builds up slowly while they stand around, and faster if they get attacked, yet are helpless and cannot fight while untransformed in Path of Radiance and suck balls at it in Radiant Dawn. And while transformed, they lose meter every battle and every turn. Their defensive stats are generally such that they can take a few hits, but never to the point that it was a less-than-ideal situation. Also, the meter worked somewhat differently for each laguz type/unit, with some outright starting battles transformed in Path of Radiance or just building meter really fast in Radiant Dawn.

There were various items and consumables available to decrease the inherent wonkiness of this mechanic, such as equipment that halved the stat gain but let the laguz remain transformed indefinitely (and cheesy strategies involving timing their use for juuuuust before they were about to transform back), and Radiant Dawn tried to tweak the mechanics so that both transforming and untransforming happened quicker, but it was never quite able to get up to the point that people were truly happy with it, and the class was removed following the Tellius titles. Spiritual successors exist in the form of the taguel, wolfskin, and kitsune classes from the 3DS titles, all animal-themed shapeshifters, but they instead use "beaststones" to transform and fight and mechanically bear much greater similarity to the manakete class than their clear inspiration.

In Cipher they typically gain bonus attack and reach when sufficiently stacked, representing their transformation and tying with the Tellius faction mechanic of stacking and promoting to high power as a whole.

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, meaning that worst-case scenario, there's a pretty hard cap on the number of fights they can afford to get in. 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 nor 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, with anima magic as the balanced alternative to light magic being fast-but-weak and dark magic slow-but-powerful.

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, armed with a powerful crit-fishing weapon and must be persuaded to join by another unit; this presents the player with the challenge of trying to get someone (and often a weak and squishy staff-user at that) 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.

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