If you’ve downloaded or bought a physical copy of Fire Emblem: Awakening for the 3DS then you may not know exactly what to expect when you first play the game. If you’re a veteran of the franchise you know that things are going to be difficulty and there are some strategies to keep you alive. If you’re new to the series then you probably have no idea what to expect and need a little help giving yourself the edge in battle.
This game is definitely one of the more hard core strategy games available to players. It utilizes a permadeath form of play, meaning that if a character dies in battle then they’re no longer available to you. If you’re worried about the time you invest in those fighters and you don’t want to lose them the developers, Intelligent Systems, have given you the option to play in a more casual mode that will bring all fighters back after the battle. I like to play with permadeath on as it makes you more aware of what you’re doing and forces you to come up with some really solid strategies that you can take into battle.
With that in mind I’ve come up with a few tips that I use on the battlefield.
#1. Don’t Let Frederick Die I think this is the absolute most important thing to remember. This heavily armored, highly mobile knight is a beast on the battlefield. He’s capable of taking out half of an army all by himself. I know in one fight alone I was facing 26 enemies and he took out 14 of them all alone on the flank of my force. Armed with lances he’s capable of doing 25-27 points of damage early on and he’ll get double attacks many times meaning he could do upwards of 50 points of damage every time he attacks or is attacked. If he’s doing critical damage it can range between 80 and 100. Do not under any circumstances let him die.
#2. Plan Those Relationships Early One of the key features of a Fire Emblem game is the relationships that characters can build with each other. If two or more characters are adjacent to each other then they will confer stat bonuses on fighters engaged in combat. The more time that two fighters spend fighting alongside each other the better their relationship gets and the stronger those bonuses get. It won’t be possible to keep them together all the time, but do so as often as you possibly can. Sometimes, in addition to the stat bonuses support characters will get a free attack in addition to their regular move meaning you can do even more to disable opposing forces.
If two characters of the opposite sex reach S ranks then they’ll get married and those bonuses will get even greater. These marriages will also result in children that can then be recruited to join your battles. It’s worth planning those relationships early and fostering them as often as possible. Make sure you always check the barracks and support menus between every battle. As those relationships grow on the battlefield more and more opportunities arise to foster romance and brotherhood in between fights.
#3. Ignore the Temptation To Forge The idea of adding additional stats to your weapons may sound good, but the stock weapons are plenty devastating on their own. They don’t need any bonuses. Forging is also very expensive. Since the weapons have a limited amount of use available to them before they break you’ll end up spending more of your money trying to get stronger weapons. That money could be better spent on replenishing broken weapons and spells, or recruiting new members to your party. Don’t waste the cash on temporary upgrades.
#4. Utilize Natural Bottlenecks I come from a tabletop war gaming background and in those games I usually play dwarven armies. As such I tend to play a more defensive style of fighting. If there is a hole in the terrain that you can plug with a heavily armed soldier then do it. Utilize those places in the terrain where enemy troops would have to gather together and move in single or double file columns. Going up against one or two opponents with your two strongest fighters will almost always give you the advantage. If you then support those troops with healers or spell casters then you’ve built an almost immovable wall of death that can’t be overcome. Resist the temptation to spread your troops out. This makes them vulnerable to attack on all sides. Make your footprint as small, but mobile, as you can. Those small valleys or open doorways provide the perfect place for you to stage your fight.
#5. It’s Shiny, Grab It There are spaces on every battlefield that sparkle. These aren’t just fireflies randomly roaming around. They’re experience hubs. Any character that lands on one of these will get a small boost to their XP, helping them level up faster. If two paired up characters occupy this spot then their relationship status will grow. If you can reach these spots without putting yourself at a tactical disadvantage, then do so. It will be well worth the time to get to them.
#6. Replay the DLC Missions These DLC missions can be replayed over and over again allowing you to grind some XP in the process. If you find you’re having a difficult time in battle then take advantage of this to get your fighters some more experience and better stats. Be careful not to get your fighters killed, though, or it will end up hurting you.
#7. Know Where Your Enemy Is Nothing can hurt a battle plan more than forgetting where the enemy is. Make sure you check the map often to keep tabs on enemy troop movements. Especially later in the game as you start to fight bigger and bigger forces it can be hard to keep track of everyone. If you see enemies starting to move towards your flanks then take care of them. Tighten up your forces or send out some faster troops to dispatch them quickly so they can get back to the battlefield. Be aware of any possible entry points should the enemy have reinforcements available.
You can turn on the ability to see where your enemies can reach at all times by pressing the X button. This will highlight every square than an enemy fighter can reach in pink. Use this to your advantage to plan counter attacks and to keep yourself from being surrounded.
#8. Be Aware of Bows Your Pegasus Knights are fast, but they’re also extremely vulnerable. Do not let them ever, Ever, EVER get into range of enemy troops armed with bows. That’s a sure fire way to get them killed.
#9. Keep Track of Your Weapon Status Weapons in Fire Emblem have a shelf life. They can only be used so many times before they break. Thankfully it’s very easy to keep track of. Make sure you always have extras of the weapons your fighters use most. Keep them stored in the Convoy if you need to. Your main character has access to this at all times during battle and should you find one of your fighters in need of a replacement weapon then get one for them. There’s nothing worse than having someone on the battlefield that can’t fight because they don’t have a weapon.
#10. Paper, Rock, Scissors Like many other games Fire Emblem utilizes a paper, rock, scissors element to the combat. This means that certain weapons are good against other types of weapons. In this case Swords > Axes > Lances > Swords. Plan your strategies accordingly so that you can use this to your advantage. You can see how any enemy unit on the battlefield is equipped by moving the cursor over them.
Some characters can carry different types of weapons. You can neutralize some of the weaknesses of this system by having those characters carry multiple weapon types into battle. Before attacking cycle through your weapons with the X button to find the perfect tool for the job.
So there you have it. Those are some of the tips that I use when playing Fire Emblem. Many of them are useful for any game in the series. If you’re new to the series don’t be afraid to play on one of the lower difficulty levels. You can always replay the game at a higher one once you get the hang of things. Also, don’t be afraid to fail. Sometimes failure is a great tool for learning. You can quit out of any battle easily and restart it once you’ve done some scouting. Experiment with different relationships and see which ones work for you and which ones don’t.
Fire Emblem veterans feel free to leave your favorite battlefield advice for the newcomers. Newcomers let us know if these tips were helpful and if there’s anything that you’ve learned and can teach the old dogs.