Jeremy enjoys gaming when not working as a manager at the same college he graduated from.
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is the Wii sequel to the GameCube's Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. Maintaining the series' traditions, you'll control a plethora of units as you strategically guide them throughout battles. You determine which units to level up while assembling a customized army throughout the campaign.
Each game results in unique characters; level ups and stat bonuses change between playthroughs. But which characters are consistently the best? Today, let's take a look at the warriors who seem to always stand above the others—these are the top ten Radiant Dawn Characters!
Note that only playable units are included (sorry, final boss).
Class: Wyvern Lord
Haar's arguably the best Wyvern Lord from the series. The guy functions as a mobile tank, with the strength and defense you'd expect from a general combined with the mobility of cavalry. Using axes and lances, he'll simply cut through almost any physical foe while haardly (I'll stop) taking a scratch himself. Haar's greatest weakness is his low resistance (magical defense), which amplifies his class's weakness to thunder spells, but even this can be nullified with the skill, well, Nullify.
And let's face it: who doesn't enjoy a laid-back, eyepatched man riding a black pseudodragon?
Class: Sniper, Critical +10 (Class Skill)
Unlike in Path of Radiance, Shinon outclasses pupil Rolfe (not to mention Leonardo) despite being a pre-promoted unit in Radiant Dawn. He joins at a higher level with solid stats and a surprisingly solid growth rate.
Shinon's ease of use, especially compared to his alternatives, and ability to wield the powerful Double Bow in the endgame, which lets him attack from both close and long-range (unusual for snipers), make him an easy choice for most players.
Skills: Blessing, Galdrar, Canto
Radiant Dawn's world features beings called "laguz", half-human, half-animal characters who can transform into a powerful animal form. You'll have access to three heron laguz, each of whom can't attack but can allow allies to move again in a single turn. Leanne's inability to do this for four units even when transformed restricts her, as does Rafiel's lackluster movement.
Reyson can only rejuvenate one ally in his humanoid form, but he gets the full four when transformed and can move much faster than Rafiel. Factor in the level-long transformation ability of the Laguz Gem, and Reyson easily becomes the clear victor of your three herons.
Skills: Nullify, Roar
Giffca, right-hand man to the king of lion laguz, can morph into a fearsome black lion whose high strength stat will devastate foes.
Unlike the royal laguz of the game, Giffca doesn't come with the Formshift ability that would let him stay transformed for entire battles; however, he joins with the Laguz Gem, accomplishing the same goal. He also possesses the useful Nullify skill that negates lion laguz's natural weakness to fire attacks, and can move an impressive nine spaces in a single turn.
Giffca joins your team late, but he'll absolutely wreck enemies and completely outshines the other non-royal laguz in Radiant Dawn.
Skills: Formshift, Fortune, Roar
Next, the Lion King Mufas—er, Caineghis. If you liked Giffca, you'll love him. Caineghis has astounding strength, ruining most enemies, and a whopping 76 hit points. His Formshift keeps him transformed for the entire battle, and Fortune prevents enemies from scoring triple-damage-dealing critical hits.
A superb unit, but note that fire attacks deal increased damage to lion laguz, and Caineghis's resistance is lower than his other attributes, making opposing magic a potential issue.
Skills: Formshift, Glare, Guard, Savage
Nailah, the mighty Wolf Queen, proves her worth in battle. She has well-balanced (and very high) stats, somewhere between a lion and a raven laguz, with good strength, skill, and speed.
Formshift lets her stay transformed for entire maps, Glare can petrify an enemy permanently, and Guard can let her take an attack meant for an adjacent ally. All useful, but the real prize is Savage, a skill that will sometimes allow Nailah to triple her strength for an attack, as well as halving the enemy's skill stat. Very few units can survive this fearsome attack.
Overall, an immensely powerful unit. Just keep her away from that pesky fire magic.
Class: Hawk King
Skills: Canto, Formshift, Pavise, Savior, Tear
The fearsome Hawk King Tibarn seizes today's fourth spot. His skill stat starts at 48, and his speed at 40, so he rarely misses and often dodges. Even when he is struck, Pavise may activate, which will prevent all damage from the attack. Canto allows Tibarn to use the rest of his remaining movement after already performing an action.
Speaking of movement, he has an amazing ten squares he can traverse in a single turn. Savior allows Tibarn to rescue units without taking the usual penalties to the skill and speed stats. Finally, Tear occasionally allows him to perform an attack that triples his strength and halves enemy speed.
Tibarn is an incredible fighter who also happens to be great at rescuing endangered units. However, as a hawk laguz, he possesses weaknesses to both bows and wind magic. Tibarn's resistance isn't his best stat, so be especially careful when facing mages.
Class: Raven King
Skills: Canto, Formshift, Maelstrom, Tear, Vantage
The King of Ravens brandishes comparable stats to Tibarn. Naesala has lower strength, skill, and movement but higher speed and resistance. Additionally, he has more level ups available than the other royal laguz, meaning he can increase his abilities to a greater extent.
Also, I slightly prefer Naesala's skills. Like Tibarn, he utilizes Canto, Formshift, and Tear. He also uses Vantage, which allows him to actually counter an enemy before their attack hits (often killing them in the process), and Maelstrom, which can inflict damage equal to Naesala's strength to enemies who attack him indirectly. This gives him a defense against ranged foes, something most laguz lack. Finally, consider that Tear's chance to activate is based on the user's speed stat. Naesala has superior speed to Tibarn, allowing him greater odds for the effect.
At first glance, Naesala seems like one of the weaker royal laguz, but his surprising amount of tricks make him an invaluable ally.
Class: Ranger (promotes to Vanguard)
Ike starts off at a far lower level than today's other entries, but his abilities more than compensate. He doesn't possess a weakness to an element like laguz do and can wield both swords and axes.
When Ike fully levels up, his stats will rival the royal laguz, and he'll eventually obtain the holy golden sword, Ragnell. This weapon, besides having high attack, never breaks, grants a +5 defense bonus, and allows Ike to attack from either a 1 or 2-square range. This enables him to attack and counter-attack enemy archers and mages, something the laguz just can't do.
Finally, Ike is the only unit who obtains the incredible Aether skill, which will sometimes allow him to perform an attack that both heals himself and triples the damage dealt. Ike doesn't automatically join with additional skills, but he can be assigned them based on the player's preferences.
Ike can't move as far in a single turn as the laguz, and he'll take time to achieve his true power, but the effort pays off. Besides, many levels demand his usage, so don't overlook training the leader of the Greil Mercenaries.
1. Black Knight
Class: Black Knight
Skills: Nihil, Imbue, Eclipse
Without spoiling anything, let's just say that the Black Knight may fight for and against you at different points. And you want him on your side. Like Ike, he wields a divine weapon—Alondite, a silver blade that offers the same benefits as Ragnell (including the ability to attack from 2 squares). Unlike Ike, the Black Knight starts off at max level, and his stats remain incredible throughout the game.
He can wield both swords and lances, and also possesses three potent skills. Nihil negates enemy combat skills, while Imbue heals him each turn an amount equal to his magic stat—a whopping 18 hit points! Finally, Eclipse has the potential to be the absolute strongest attack in the game: when it activates, strength is multiplied by 5 and enemy defenses are negated.
Self-healing, ranged and melee capabilities, the ultimate attack—what more could you ask for?
How to Beat Radiant Dawn
These units will consistently be among your best, but with training and the right skills, almost any can rival even today's juggernauts in power, especially because of the randomized leveling system. Don't be afraid to experiment; initially, weak characters can become fierce when promoted twice at max level.
Try to focus on only one character from each class, and remember you'll eventually be able to make a single weapon of each character unbreakable in the endgame, so save your ultimates to receive infinite uses for each. But for now, let me know which warrior you prefer and I'll see you at our next Fire Emblem countdown!
© 2016 Jeremy Gill
Josh on June 25, 2018:
For the endgame, which units did you bring and what items did you have them hold so they don't break?
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on June 18, 2018:
Maybe you had some insane level ups with Rolf, but Shinon (which you managed to misspell twice) was surprisingly good in this one. Rolf was definitely better in Path of Radiance, but even if leveled to match Shinon here, he still often doesn't beat him, and using Shinon lets you save that experience for other units.
Compared to laguz kings, everybody kinda sucks. But with a laguz gem, Giffca can almost stand among them.
Reyson isn't very useful? Potentially giving four units an extra activation each turn isn't useful? We'll have to agree to disagree there.
The Black Knight doesn't count because you don't have him long, you say. I understand where you're coming from, but that was never specified in the rules of this countdown. Many units in the game are available longer than other (admittedly, most not to that extent).
Ike killing the Black Knight is plot-related. This list refers to gameplay. And yes, you do have Ike defeat the Black Knight in single combat, but your brain and ability to use items give Ike the advantage over his AI opponent.
By all means, please go do your "better things". Each player ultimately has different opinions about who is best, and that's okay, but acting like yours are the definitive answer (even with evidence to the contrary) shows your inability to accept deviation from your own thoughts.
Josh on June 18, 2018:
First of all, Rolf is way better Shinion. All you have to do is level Rolf up a bit and he already has higher stats than Shinion. His strength is one of the highest in the game and he one shots most units while holding a double bow. Also compared to laguz kings, Giffca kind of sucks. Reyson also isnt very useful and the black knight doesnt count because you only get to use him for a couple levels. And if Ike kills the black knight shouldnt he be higher on the list? So your list has alot of mistakes but I wont mention the others because I have better things to do.