Jeremy enjoys gaming when not working as a manager at the same college he graduated from.
The Sacred Stones
Fire Emblem fans are familiar with how brutal the strategic fantasy series can be. Whenever one of your characters falls in battle, they're gone forever. No revives, no healing, nothing. Sacred Stones, for the Game Boy Advance, continues this trend, but was unique from other Fire Emblem titles: players could explore a world map, and freely level up their characters, contrary to past entries in the series. Your array of combatants include warriors who wield swords, lances, axes, or bows, and mages, who harness several types of magic.
Sacred Stones has several characters available to play as; which ones were the most useful? Today, we'll countdown the seven strongest units available in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Don't worry, no major story spoilers are ahead.
- Swords best Axes
- Lances best Swords
- Axes best Lances
- Light bests Dark
- Anima bests Light
- Dark bests Anima
Ephraim is the green-haired protagonist of the game, along with his sister, Eirika. Ephraim is a great warrior and tactician, both in the story and in gameplay. He can only use one type of weapon, even when he upgrades to his Great Lord class, but his strength, defense, skill, and speed stats are all high. Additionally, his defense against magic (resistance) is good for a non-mage. To top things off, he can form support bonds* with many excellent units, including Erika, Tana, and L'Arachel. Ephraim also obtains a formidable legendary lance in the story.
*Support is a characteristic of many Fire Emblem games. Compatible units eventually develop bonds as they fight side-by-side. When this occurs, the two units have a conversation and receive various attribute bonuses when fighting within three grid squares of each other.
(Ordering an attack against an entire enemy base using four men)
"Every soldier in this area is trying to find us. The enemy has us vastly outnumbered. Attacking the castle is a ridiculous idea. If the enemy thinks the same... then we may have our opening."
6. Cormag / Tana
Weapon (both): Lance
Sixth place is a tie between Cormag and Tana, both lance-wielding and animal-riding fighters. Both are fast and powerful; Cormag has slightly better strength and stamina, while Tana excels in skill (chance to hit) and speed. Both are powerful units who are granted extra movement due to their mounts; Cormag rides a wyvern (a dragon-like creature), Tana controls a pegasus. Like all flying units, keep these two away from bows and arrows, which inflict extra damage to them.
If you're having trouble deciding whether Cormag or Tana is superior, why not use both? There's infinite experience in Sacred Stones; you can train them each to reach the max level. Additionally, Cormag and Tana can form a support bond with each other; if you get the bond to A-rank, the two will spend their lives together. Hey, what good is being a master tactician if you don't get to work as a matchmaker, too?
Cormag: "War itself is madness, even more so if it's for greed or the fantasy of power."
Tana: "I hope our efforts end this war quickly. I don't want to see anyone else die."
5. Joshua / Marisa
Weapon (Both): Sword
Last tie in the count down, I promise. If you're looking for a fast and precise unit who will often inflict critical hits (which do triple damage), the Myrmidons Joshua and Marisa are your best options. Like most Myrmidons, Joshua and Marisa have weak defenses—but their awesome speed allows them to dodge many attacks, then counterattack with numerous strikes. Use either (or both) to harness some lethal swordplay.
In Sacred Stones, whenever a unit upgrades to the next class, they pick between one of two choices. I recommend changing Joshua from Myrmidon to Swordmaster, allowing increased strength and critical chance, and turning Marisa into an Assassin, which makes her faster and grants an ability to one-hit kill foes. Like Cormag and Tana, if you can't decide between the two, use both: you can have them support each other, and potentially fall in love.
Joshua: "When two swordsmen meet, they should duel to test each other's skills."
Marisa: "... You want me to kill you?"
Weapon: Sword (and potentially axes or bows, depending on the chosen upgrade)
Fourth place goes to Gerik, the leader of a mercenary band who will join your forces. Gerik's high hit points and defense allow him to withstand many blows, and his mighty strength provides for awesome counterattacks. Additionally, his skill and speed are quite good for his beginning class (Mercenary), and his abilities earned him the nickname "Desert Tiger".
Eventually, you can promote him into either a Ranger or a Hero. Rangers have better movement and can fight from range with bows; Heroes can wield axes and receive stronger battle stats. Both choices are good, but I'd recommend Hero for the boosted attributes. Gerik is a reliable unit who can work well in any situation, and he has many support options to further increase his usefulness.
(Upon offending Marisa. Guys, we've all been here)
Gerik: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to laugh. Are you still mad?"
Marisa: "I'm still mad."
Would you believe me if I told you that three kids are the best fighters in the game?
Weapon: Lance (and potentially swords or axes)
That's right, third place is awarded to this youthful girl. It's pretty hilarious how powerful she can become. First, because she's only a kid, second because she's noted in the story to be incredibly awkward and clumsy.
Amelia is a member of the new "Trainee" class present in Sacred Stones. Trainees start off incredibly weak, but can actually change class twice, unlike every other unit in the game. Thus, they end up with higher stats and more class options. Amelia can ultimately morph into a Paladin, Great Knight, or General. She'll excel in any; pick whichever tickles your fancy. I'd recommend Great Knight, where Amelia will gain heavy armor and a mount, making her a force to be reckoned with.
Amelia is an awesome unit no matter which copy of Sacred Stones you play, but her stats were slightly higher in the original Japanese version. Also note that all three Trainees can form support bonds with each other, further increasing their powers.
(Upon bumping into Ross)
Ross: "Ugh! Hey! Ow! What the heck?"
Amelia: "I'm so sorry! I'm just very clumsy. Are you all right?"
Weapon: Axe (and potentially a sword or bow)
Ross lost his mother at an early age, and he covers this tragedy up with an energetic and wild personality. Ross and his father Garcia join your quest early in the game, and Ross in particular can become a deadly unit. Like Amelia, Ross will initially be very weak, but can become the strongest physical attacker in the game.
He's got a variety of upgrade options including Hero, Warrior, and Berserker. Hero provides a sword and Warrior bestows a bow, but I'd take Beserker: it grants amazing strength, critical hit chance, and the ability to cross water tiles (few units can do this). Ross's support options are all useful characters, giving him many worthy partners to team up with. When playing Sacred Stones, pretend you're Rachel from the sitcom Friends; Ross will be there for you.
(Attempting to get the attention of support option Lute)
Ross: "Hey, you!"
Lute: "I hope that maniac isn't talking to me. I'll pretend I can't hear him. La la la."
Weapon: Magic (anima, and potentially light, dark, and healing staves)
Today's number one is the young sorcerer Ewan. He'll join you late in the game as a weak character, so you'll need to spend some time on the world map leveling him up. Trust me, it's worth it. Ewan should become the strongest magic-user on your team, and have amazing magic, speed, skill, and luck statistics. He can ultimately upgrade into a Sage, Mage Knight, Druid, or Summoner.
Ewan will excel as any of these; I'd choose the Druid, allowing Ewan to access powerful dark spells. All magic-users in the game can fight at close range and from afar, so they can attack both sword and bow-brandishing enemies. Ewan is probably the best of the bunch, and is highly recommended.
"I think your outfit's cute. Especially that stain right there."
Sacred Stones sometimes falls under the radar because of its shorter story, but the game is a well-crafted addition to the Fire Emblem series. It retains many fan-favorite systems, like permanent unit death, but adds in more accessibility by allowing you to level up as much as you need, and if you can't get ahold of an aging GBA cartridge, you can always emulate it on a rom.
And above all, have fun! Though we highlighted the best units, the game offers many formidable options to choose from, and because of semi-randomly generated stats, you may end up with abnormal top warriors. But for now, as we eagerly await Nintendo's next Fire Emblem game, let me know which fighter you prefer and I'll see you at our next gaming countdown!
© 2015 Jeremy Gill
mangasdeouf on June 23, 2018:
By the way, Ephraim is like #2 Best unit in game: good base stats for his level, excellent growths, he's Cormag with a late promotion and less mobility. His only downside is late promotion (but promotion bonuses make up for that) and paladin like stat caps. But caps don't matter much for the main game anyway (except for Gilliam the final boss of hp, strength, skill and def). And Ephraim's route explains more of the story than Eirika on top of being more interesting in every way (like his dialogues with Lyon being far more useful to understand the story than Eirika's). So take Ephraim route and enjoy having a lord with stats comparable to Chrom in a game with caps much lower and ennemy stats much lower than Awakening's normal mode. Lance lock is better than sword lock, so Ephraim for everything he represents is one of the Best lords in the series (stats, weapon, mobility after promotion, promotion bonuses, good story with the better world building between the two routes, Link with the Manakete, amazing prf weapon and legendary weapon, better recruitment list and time for most of the cast except Gerik and Tana, better map design than Eirika's route...). Ephraim is Just Chrom done better in a game released 10 years earlier than Awakening and not outshone by a tactician AND his own child (the balance between Ike and Hector).
Ephraim is the Best recommendation for a FE: TSS beginner.
FE TSS has one of the Best scenarios and world building of most recent FEs and the Best or second Best of GBA+3DS, I didn't play enough of the DS localised games to judge them (which already tells a lot of my interest in shadow dragon). So if you look for an FE game looking more like Path Of Radiance or Radiant Dawn, try The Sacred Stones. It's a little more manichean but not much more than RD and not really less political (Eirika's route is more political while Ephraim's is more centered on the plot).
My top 7 Best units in TSS: 1. Seth, even if he's not my favorite, he stays the Best unit of the game. 2. Ephraim, Best choice of the 2 lords for a forced deployment for the whole game, even rng screwed he's better than 2/3 of the cast. 3. Cormag, requires little investment to become your Best physical fighter with the Best mobility, and a fili shield is all he needs to go solo physical ennemy groups. 4. Duessel, his bases are too good to waste on Ephraim's route, he doesn't use a knight crest to promote and is RNG-proof. 5. L'Arachel, sure she comes late etc. but she Will be your Best mounted magic unit, Best staff user and Best magical anti-mage unit (more move than Artur and Bishop Natasha) and she caps so many stats she Will ease the game much more than Moulstache or Natasha or Artur once she's promoted (and there are far enough mage rings for 3 or 4 magic users). 6. Tana, the middle between L'Arachel and Cormag. 7. Franz/Gilliam, depending on your preference for slow but safe progression with the Best and most prone to one shoot tank in the whole game (29 strength cap 30 def ccap he can actually reach naturally, respect please, base speed as a general from his level 4 base is 6, so even like that it Will take long until he get doubled by any ennemy Who can deal physical damage to him, and mages are weighed down by 2 to 7 or so by any weapon superior to fire so they won't ever double him in the whole game at his base speed) or fast progression with mounted units (Franz is a mounted poney glass cannon with average everything, bad res and high speed for his class).
That's it for the review of units and of the game itself.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on June 23, 2018:
Good points, but better phantoms doesn't automatically make Knoll better than Ewan. Like you said, many of his stats are worse, and he's got fewer useful supports. Ewan's also got the option of three other final classes, so the better summoner could still be debated.
But at the end of the day, these are opinions. Ewan's got some advantages, the other mages have some. It's also possible my playthroughs have been more generous to Ewan with the random number generator than typical.
mangasdeouf on June 23, 2018:
Ewan has more level ups but the only magic user he Will really beat on the long term is Knoll because Knoll has inexistant base luck and 1 or 2 base def, but as a summoner Knoll summons better ghosts so even with trash for stats Knoll performs better than Ewan and brings more utility. That's what Ewan is: one more random magic unit with a loss of 10-13 speed with A or S dark magics. Male mages have less magic than females so even as a druid he Will deal the same damage as Lute Who has better magic as anima rocks. End game bishops outclass every other damage class anyway so it's useless to waste time on Ewan or Lute, but Lute brings mid game staff utility and can participate in mid game warp rescue chains for hardcore gamers. Artur has base C staves as Bishop and more magic than Moulder Who has A staves as Bishop and can get to S in no time if Latona is needed. Ewan doesn't outclass any mage except Saleh purely in stats, Saleh having B light, C staves, A anima from the beginning.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on June 23, 2018:
I appreciate that we can debate this cordially. Here are some counters:
Ewan takes effort but has more class options and the rare dark magic capability, not to mention support with both other trainees. The FE wiki says this of him: "After his level is maxed out, he is easily one of the most powerful units in the game, regardless of which class you have chosen."
Similar thoughts for the other trainees.
The fact that you can only keep Myrrh indefinitely with a glitch disqualifies her in my mind, plus most casual gamers won't know of the glitch anyway. Glad you mentioned her though, she's fun while she lasts.
mangasdeouf on June 23, 2018:
Ewan is ranging between bad and average in anything else than luck and magic where he's beaten by L'Arachel (luck) and Lute (magic). He doesn't have access to Bishop to OS monsters with any strong magic (BTW light magic isn't strong against monsters, Bishop is, with any weapon it can use including dark magic if you use the lava glitch to get stones and raise dark magic to D for flux to get one shot magics on bishops).
Ross is a stronger version of Gerik, but Gerik is far better in anything else than HP and strength. The only competition Ross has in pure axe users are Garcia the trash and Dozla the trashier. Marisa is nearly better than Ross (give her à strong weapon or a Killing edge).
Amelia is a faster but squishier version of Seth but any of her promotions is capped at or under 25 speed and 27 skill. The only class not redundant on her is General but she would lack movement.
Cormag is definitely worth the investment, Tana is the Best female flyer, Vanessa is easily rng screwed so not a worthy fighting unit, Syrene can replace her with a few stat boosters to get starting until her good growths show up and her better sword rank can be useful vs Vanessa's E swords at the same level.
Franz is the second Best cavalier after Seth as a paladin, Kyle is Just a hp pool wich caps strength, everything else being average to bad. Forde is the worst cavalier head on. Duessel is correct.
You didn't mention Myrrh, the dragon girl with godly growths and monstrous weapon bonuses, sure she has 50 uses but lava glitch allows you to replenish them and if you manage correctly you can get her to démon King.
Then you can farm in the north eastern map to chainkill the elder bael (spider) until your units are godlike and finish the story so you can even use Garcia and Dozla.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on June 22, 2018:
I disagree with many of your thoughts, but I respect your right to your opinions. Because of their increased number of levels to gain and access to more classes than any other characters, the trainees are still easily the strongest in the game to me--for those willing to train them.
mangasdeouf on June 22, 2018:
Ewan: not good, Lute requires less effort to become better and her caps are better for the damage mage role, as a sage. L'Arachel is the same as trainees but she has 6 move, healing utility and way better growths and bases, all that with 2 mounted promotions. The only downside is that mounted units generally have lower max stats, but she caps magic, speed and res and nearly caps skill and luck, lacking only hp and defence (throw in a seraph robe and a dracoshield and you're good).
Cormag is better than Tana against physical units which dominate the game, but she has better avoid and dodge and res so she is better to take out magic users. Cormag needs less investment to get rolling and his cons allows him to wield heavier weapons without speed loss.
Amelia is just the most balanced of the cavaliers, because she has more res and the other stats are well-rounded but except her speed (if she doesn't get RNG-screwed) she doesn't have much more to bring than them and Franz beats her in speed. Amelia only really surpasses Duessel in almost everything except pure physical bulk, and she offers a faster and more magic bulky general than Gilliam, who does his job perfectly as a general or great knight.
Ross has trash as speed, skill and res, his def is average, his HP is lower than his father's and Gerik's (even Dozla can get higher HP at the same level) and his promotions don't help him much in his flaws. He's only good as a berserker where he can try to OS but he won't double often even largely overlevelled, and his skill and speed won't make him high tier axe user, unlike Gerik.
Eirika doesn't benefit from +15 crit rate upon promotion, but she does benefit from 7 move, move again, HUGE promotion gains to compensate for late promotion and RNG-screwage, and a personnal legendary weapon which makes up for her subpar strength (+5 strength and 16 base damage, so she can get to 40-ish damage around level 10 promoted). Better than Marisa and Joshua. But assassin can break the game in half if you go for max crit build with crit/2 chance of One Shooting any ennemy including the final boss. Even if they deal 0 damage they can silence the ennemy for good one shots. Swordmasters are trash in SS compared with any other title of the series, because 15 inferior to 20 inferior to 25 inferior to 30 inferior to 30+wrath's 50 and no vantage. + magic swords halve strength and don't crit if I remember well. And Colm is basically Joshua on steroids as an assassin (+ strength growth, + luck and growth, + def growth I think, and Neimi x Colm monstrous support bonuses AKA 3 atk, 15 acc, 15 avo, 15 crit and maybe some def. With just Neimi A sup and a killing edge he has 45% crit rate, meaning 22.5% chance of OS, that's with 0 skill and only 1 support bonus. 22.5% chance to OS the 150 or so final boss with 25-ish def and his stronger human version as Lyon in the final stage who can destroy most of your units with Naglfar, the best magic ever created (outside of weight which is too high OFC).
Seth is better than any other cavalier because: less ressources, availability, better start, most balanced stats of every paladin. He can use 1 or 2 of each stat booster and cap anything not called luck or res, which are already good from the beginning to the end of the game. Give him boss kills only and he'll get to 20 in no time, while you grow your other units. I'm doing a +30% growths for ennemies only at this moment, and I'm betting a lot on Seth because when ennemies will reach level 5-10 they will have better stats than my level 10 units in several points (around 50% speed generals with 70-ish % def and 50-ish% res and more than 100% hp is fat).
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on June 18, 2018:
Since there's actually unlimited experience in Sacred Stones (unlike most Fire Emblem games), Seth's experience-stealing isn't so bad. Still, I'm glad we agree—he's overshadowed by better units.
And you're right about light magic being helpful in the end game, a good tip to consider. Luckily, if you've neglected your bishops, you can just go back and train them in this user-friendly entry. As to which other games I've played, just about all the English ones (starting with Blazing Blade)! I'd tell you my favorite but it changes every other week, I problem I'm happy to have : )
Josh on June 18, 2018:
Ross, Evan and Amelia are potentially the best units in the game. All these people that are saying Seth is good are very mistaken. The only reason why Seth is good in the beginning is because he is already promoted, but he is underpowered in the endgame. Plus he steals EXP in the beginning. It is the same thing with Saleh. He seems good but is actually not (especially compared to Ewan). I agree with what you are saying to people that are too lazy to level up their units. The only thing I would disagree with is that Joshua is better than Marisa because of Joshua's higher strength. Also maybe add a bishop because they do twice the damage to all undead troops which is really helpful in endgame. But that is about it for complaints. What other FE games have you played?
Matt on April 23, 2018:
Tana is op
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on April 18, 2018:
@FE Master and Z
"Literally the best unit in the game" is a very subjective opinion, especially in a game where level ups are determined partially through a random number generator. Granted, Seth scales better than most prepromoted units of the series, but it can be easy to overrely on him (losing out on experience for weaker fighters that need it early on) and you have no choice as to what class he occupies.
I fully admit Ewan and the other Trainees need lots of work to level, and for some players, that limits their use. However, this game (unlike other Fire Emblems of the time) offered unlimited level ups through reoccuring encounters, meaning the limited-experience factor of other games wasn't present here, mitigating the issue. Since the Trainees can promote twice, they all have a variety of classes they can become, further cementing their superiority. As icing on the cake, they all offer useful support bonds with each other.
FEmaster on April 18, 2018:
How did you not put Seth on this list, literally the best unit in the game. Ewan's also not that good since he comes way too under leveled too late on in the game. Even when trained to max potential, Lute still outdoes his stat wise and Artur outdoes him resource wise since he can use light magic which is effective against all the late game enemies.
I'm not saying you can't make them work, it's just that if you put the amount of effort you put into the trainees towards other characters, they will give similar results with half the effort.
Z on December 21, 2017:
So... Seth? The actual best unit in the game? Not to mention how outshone Ewan is by Saleh, and how Ephraim is basically only below Seth in usability?
That Theif Guy on October 29, 2017:
I’ve always preferred Theives but in this game it seems like a Colm seems a little less tanky than other Theives I’ve used, regardless he’s still fun to use!