Richard enjoys writing about anything that interests him, which is mostly video games.
Fire Emblem Heroes was released on February 2nd, 2017 for iOS Android. It is Nintendo's third official title released on the mobile market after Miitomo and Super Mario Run (Pokémon GO is handled by Niantic which isn't affiliated with Nintendo). Heroes mixes the in-depth strategy and character development common in the Fire Emblem series with the typical free-to-play style of most mobile games.
Chances are you're familiar with one, but not the other. Perhaps neither, or both at the same time. In any case, here are some tips to help you get through this game.
Please note that the tips here refer to the initial release of the game. As of this point, any tips provided may become obsolete or outdated with subsequent updates to the game though I will try to keep this article updated as well.
For Those New to Fire Emblem
Fire Emblem is a strategy RPG series that spans over a dozen releases across seven different Nintendo platforms. You must use tactics based around unit, weapon, and map types to keep your army alive and well as you progress through the story. Not all games in the series have been or will be localized, though there are a couple of remakes of previously unlocalized games.
One of the big gameplay elements of the series is the "weapon triangle." When it was first introduced, it was fairly simple: Sword beats Axe, Axe over Lance, and Lance defeats Sword. The triangle provides boosts to offense and accuracy if applied well, or drops if the other way around. Multiple games in the series have expanded the triangle in different ways to include magic or ranged weapons.
Fire Emblem Heroes is no different in this regard. It simplifies the triangle into a color-based scheme, where Red beats Green, Green defeats Blue while Blue edges Red out. Swords are red, Lances are blue and Axes are green which means the original weapon triangle is still intact, but now the color codes split up both magic and Dragonstone users into the three categories as well. In Heroes, bow-users, shuriken/knife-users, and healers are colorless and have no specific advantage or disadvantage against any other color. In Heroes, big boosts—or losses—to attack occur with the weapon triangle, and you are able to see which types of weapons are in a map before you begin, so plan and choose your units accordingly.
When characters battle, they gain experience and level up. HP, Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance go up by 1 based on a predetermined chance. Characters are each given unique, hidden values for each of their stats, which forces their Level 40 stats to be a specific amount for each. This means that, when you level up, whether you gain all, some, or none of your stats, it averages out to that character's Level 40 stats which were determined when you first acquired the character. If your character is not turning out so well, there isn't a thing you can do aside from upgrading the character's rarity or just using a different character. Take note that if a character falls in battle, their level will revert to what it was before the battle.
Additionally, after each skirmish and level up, a character gains SP, which you can use to level up skills. "Skills" come in a variety of ways, from weapons to passive skills to "active" skills which activate once a character attacks or is attacked so many times. Since there is no random chance in the battles themselves, you can time when a character's active skill goes off for it to be at its most effective.
Also note that movement for each unit varies. Horse-mounted units can travel three spaces while armored units can only move one space at a time. Terrain can hinder movement as well—many units can't cross mountains or bodies of water while forests slow down infantry movement as well. Flying units like Wyvern or Pegasus Knights are not slowed down by these terrains and will move their standard two spaces regardless, assuming no walls are in the way.
Lastly, attack ranges are vital! Swords, Lances, Axes, and Dragonstones can only attack enemies adjacent to your units. Bows, shurikens/knives, staves, and magic attack from two spaces away. Further, unless you have a skill which states otherwise, you can only counterattack a weapon if your own weapon has the same range. So, you can't counterattack a bow attack if your unit uses a Sword. If you set up a unit to bait attacks, make sure they can counterattack! Have magic units counter magic units, and your melee units counter other melee units, preferably with a weapon triangle advantage on your side.
- The weapon triangle plays a huge part in battles! Remember which beats which!
- If a character or characters have terrible level-ups, it's a sign you didn't get good values when you first acquired them. Upgrade their rarity or move on.
- Don't forget to use accumulated SP to learn new skills and weapons. Make sure they are equipped by seeing the icon or name of it in the character's profile on the top part of the screen.
- Know your movement amounts for each type of character and plan accordingly! Use "Danger Zone" to see where exactly every enemy can attack for their next turn. If you can finish off an opponent, as long as you survive it might be best to let the opponent attack you first, deal damage in a counter-attack, and then finish them off the next turn.
- Remember, generally, melee units can't counter ranged units or vice versa. Keep this in mind before you decide how to move or attack. There are certain skills that bypass this, keep an eye on your opponent's skills or weapons to ensure you don't get caught in a counterattack.
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For Those New to Mobile Games
Many Fire Emblem Heroes players are huge fans of the Fire Emblem series and can't wait to play as their favorite heroes of the past. Since most of the other games in the series are standalone purchases with all of its content already in it (something that's, somehow, become more and more of a lost art), they may not be ready for a free-to-play game. Here's a quick lowdown of how the game works:
First of all, battles use up "Stamina", which is a resource that recovers over time. Most early battles take up little stamina but more difficult battles use up in excess of 20 stamina. Given you have a cap of 50 stamina, you will find yourself unable to keep playing for too long. Each point of stamina takes five minutes to recover, so if you use 10 stamina for a battle, it takes 50 minutes for it to fully replenish. If you use up all 50 stamina, then it will take four hours and ten minutes for it to fully replenish. Keep this in mind as you decide which battles to partake in.
There are also "duel" battles that act as a multiplayer feature. However, you're not actively facing another person. That person's team, determined by the party in the leftmost slot, is taken and you just have to defeat it like you would any other AI-controlled team. Of course, these teams are likely made up of the game's best units you will likely be unable to win without careful planning and strategy.
Characters come in various "rarities" which decides how strong they are, how strong they could become, and what kinds of skills or abilities they can wield. One and two-star units, including the three story-exclusive units, are generally terrible and you'll want to stop using them as soon as you can. Players can use orbs to acquire at least three-star units. Generally, though, you'll hope you can land four or especially five-star units. However, this process of acquiring more units is completely randomized. It takes 5 orbs to summon a single new character, or 20 to summon five consecutively. Orbs are relatively scarce—once you clear the story chapters on every difficulty you'll be getting very few orbs from that point on. You can also upgrade a unit to one-star higher but this requires a ton of resources—especially to upgrade from a four-star to five-star unit, and there is no good way to acquire those resources at the moment.
The game offers additional orbs for sale, offering as many as 140 for $75. Yes, spend $75 real dollars and you could potentially summon 35 characters. Now, keep in mind that you can summon duplicate units, and at the moment there is only a 6% chance of landing a five-star unit (though that percentage does increase the longer you go without landing such a unit). There is currently no way to directly purchase other consumable items such as stamina replenishment or items used for upgrading units, so for those willing to 'pay-to-win' as it were are stuck paying money hoping to land several five-star units instead.
Of course, paying that money for just a chance of success is the foil by which mobile games operate. Fire Emblem Heroes can be completed and fully enjoyed without paying a single cent. However, there's playing for fun, and then playing to win. For those looking to dominate the Lv 40 maps or stand atop the arena leaderboards, the quickest way to do so right now is to spend tons of money on orbs and hope to construct a team of four five-star units with which to dominate.
For those willing to create and/or link their Club Nintendo accounts to the game, you can earn a few extra rewards with your Club Nintendo coins, such as stamina replenishment but you can only earn so many coins from the game itself and some rewards—like 10 free orbs or the instant-revive everyone item, are limited in supply.
Lastly, keep in mind that some characters available right now will not always be available. They're limited-time characters that will only be available for short periods of time. Don't break the bank trying to get them or anything, but note that if you can't get them before time is up, you will just have to wait to get them again.
- Focus leveling four and five-star units. Level three-star units if you plan on upgrading them to four-star units, for whom the upgrade cost is reasonable.
- Don't bother trying to make Alfonse, Sharena, or Anna serviceable, you'll just be wasting time and resources.
- At this time, five-star Takumi—a colorless draw and five-star Hector—a green draw, are among the best units in the game. Focus your summon draws on those colors in hopes of getting either unit.
- You can "send home" weaker or useless units if you don't plan or using or collecting them. By doing so, you can earn feathers but it's not that many for a one-to-three-star unit.
- You can also merge duplicate units together for an SP boost, as well as a free level up if the merging units have the same rarity.
- Never feel like you HAVE TO play or win the game. If your stamina depletes, just wait for it to replenish. Don't go out of your way to play as long as possible.
- Try, TRY not to spend money on orbs. Its never going to be worth getting one or multiple five-star units to help you dominate a few maps here and there, especially not for the amount of money they're asking for.
If you haven't started playing yet or haven't gotten far, chances are, you didn't get many, or any, five-star heroes on your first orb draw. Don't like it? As long as you didn't link your game to your Club Nintendo account, you can easily "reset" the game by going to the game's app data in your settings and deleting the data. You don't have to uninstall the game altogether.
When you restart the game, you'll have to redownload some updates and you'll have to clear the prologue chapters again (and get the two bonus orbs from the home screen owl via the prelaunch bonus) in order to get enough to draw the full five characters at once. If you don't get what you like, redo the above steps until you get the character or characters you'd like.
If you did link your Club Nintendo account to the game, the process is more complicated but still doable. It involves going to "Account Management" in the in-game settings and then Deleting all data from there. Once you do that, then you can do the above steps to get the heroes you desire.
Here are some other tips to help you with your experience:
- If your characters are over-leveled for a map, they won't gain ANY experience. If you are playing through a story map, stick to using characters around the level advised by the game to keep the experience flowing in and to keep the game challenging as well.
- If you plan on upgrade a two, three, or even four-star character, then don't use them once they get to the minimum upgrade level of 20. Anything they gain after that will be rendered moot once you upgrade them.
- The game offers a training tower to gets Level 1 or other units up to speed for only a small stamina cost. Keep this in mind as you acquire new characters.
- When you summon characters, try not to do so until you get 20 orbs, that way you can summon five characters and essentially save five orbs when doing so. If, however, you're trying to get a specific type of unit (e.g. a green unit) and no orbs of that color pop up, then you may wish to stop at one summon and save up until later.
- When doing arena battles, you maximize your points if you can win seven straight "advanced" battles in a row. Good luck doing that, though! Note that you're given three "battle swords" per day for arena battles, and such battles do not use any stamina.
- There are daily special maps that give you a one-star character, or a two-star character if you clear it on hard. On these maps, you lose if even one character falls. Although you can upgrade these characters, since you can also earn them in the orb draws the rewards are not often worth the effort.
- Having a healer on your team can make a huge difference if used well. Try to prioritize colorless orb draws if you do not have a healer on your team.
- Flying units are weak to arrows! Certain weapons are also very effective on armored units, infantry, and dragon units. The game lets you know which units are effective on your enemies or against you with a green checkmark or a red X when you select a relevant unit so watch out for that.
- The initial release has heroes from the following games: Shadow Dragon & Mystery of the Emblem, Binding Blade, Blazing Sword (aka "Fire Emblem" the first localized game), Awakening and both halves of Fates. This leaves out characters from Gaiden, Genealogy of the Holy War, and its midquel, Path of Radiance and its sequel, as well as Sacred Stones. If your interest in heroes is playing with characters from the latter group, you may want to conserve your orbs until characters from your preferred game are released and then go nut until you hopefully get the characters you'd like.
- Most of all, even though this is an odd mishmash of hardcore strategy RPG and casual mobile game, you want to just have fun! Don't let the game frustrate you, take a break if you need to and even though I do advise against it, spend money for orbs if you think that will make the game more enjoyable for yourself.