Kickstart Guide to Fire Emblem: Awakening

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In Fire Emblem: Awakening, the consequences of mismanagement have a way of catching up to you. At first, mistakes such as wasted weapons or sloppy movements can be overcome in the short-term. However, enough poor decisions will eventually drive your warriors to the point where they’re literally too weak to overcome the next mission. Even though I’m a grizzled veteran of the franchise, I almost suffered this very fate on my first playthrough.

Being a tactician in Nintendo’s strategy RPG franchise has never been easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible, either. This Kickstart Guide will focus on some key areas to help you steer clear of unavoidable doom.

Classic vs. Casual

Before the game starts, you’re asked to choose between Classic or Casual mode. You cannot switch between modes once the campaign starts, so choose wisely. In Classic mode, characters that fall in battle are gone forever. In Casual, allies that lose all of their health will leave the battlefield, but live to fight another day. It’s worth noting that neither option ultimately impacts the difficulty of the game, as the computer on the hardest setting will still dismantle you with no remorse.

Purists will vehemently state that Classic is the only way to go, though I strongly disagree. I believe that the choice is dependant on what matters most to you. For me, I have the most fun acquiring characters and developing them to their full potential. By playing on Casual, I don’t have to worry about perma-death taking that away. However, if you take great pride in leading your troops to victory with as few deaths as possible, then go with Classic.

fea-1Frederick and the ugly ducklings

Not all characters grow at the same rate. Frederick is the poster boy for this phenomenon. Every Fire Emblem game features a character like him that is an unstoppable killing machine early on, but becomes a liability when the enemies get stronger and he doesn’t. You’ll probably need him at the beginning to get out of a jam, though you should drop him from your rotation as soon as possible.

Instead, focus your efforts on developing the rest of your team. While everyone seems useless in comparison, most of them have the potential to surpass Frederick by leaps and bounds if they get the right experience. The short-term pain of trying to fight without your best warrior early on will pay dividends down the road when you have an entire team that is more capable than he’ll ever be.

You set him up, I’ll knock them down

Most of your characters at first will have a hard taking down an enemy on their own. This will oftentimes put them in a situation where they’re open to attack on the following turn, which could lead to their untimely demise. However, the ally who lands the last hit gets the lion’s share of XP. Instead of having these weaker characters make the first strike, use your stronger allies to chip away an enemy’s health, then have your weak character make the final blow.

fea-2Make love and war

Awakening is far from a dating simulator, though nurturing relationships is critical to your long-term success. Whenever a unit completes an action while standing directly beside an ally, their relationship improves. In the short-term, fighting in this manner will result in two-on-one battles and temporary stat boosts for both allies. With enough time to bond, many allies can achieve an S-rank relationship, which leads to them getting married and having a child. This baby will become your most valuable asset, as their adult selves will travel back from the future to fight alongside their parents. These offspring are a massive asset to your team, as they quickly grow to outpace their parents on the battlefield.

Just like love in real life, the odds of it just happening without making an effort are slim-to-none. Instead, you should actively plan your relationships as soon as possible and then coordinate your units’ movements so that partners are together often. The easiest way to do this is by pairing two units into the same square, though the support unit in this case will get the short end of the XP gain when engaged in battle. Instead, try and plan out your movements so that your duos are standing beside each other when completing actions.

fea-3Seal the deal

Master Seals and Second Seals are critical to character development. However, using them at the wrong time can stunt their growth and potentially ruin them for the rest of the game. To avoid this, only use these seals when a character has reached the level cap. By doing so, you’ll take advantage of all the possible levels your character can gain.

Be extra careful with Second Seals, because changing classes can break a character if you do it wrong. There are short-term stat nerfs that your character will receive upon use, though they can be easy to recover from. However, if you switch your character to a class that they have no weapon proficiency in, they’ll have to learn all new weapons from scratch. What this means is, if you convert the strongest mage into a knight, they’ll hit like a child because they have no experience using a knight’s weapons. Pay attention to a character’s weapon proficiency rating before making the switch to ensure that you avoid this situation altogether.

Everyday I’m hustling

There are no shortage of side quests and randomly-generated challenges to experience. I strongly suggest completing all of them as they arise. By sticking to the narrow path, your enemies will outpace you by the time you reach the later parts of the game. Instead, use the side quests and challenges as a means of keeping your team sharp.

If there are no challenges available and you’re in need of XP, purchase a Reeking Box and summon one to the world map. It’s worth noting that the difficulty of a Reeking Box challenge directly correlates with the level you’re standing on when you use it. Using one on later levels will result in stronger baddies, so plan accordingly.

The art of war

While there’s still much to learn to become a master tactician, these tips should help you optimize your approach. Now go forth and save the world of Ylisse before it’s too late!

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About Jett Landicho

Jett Landicho is an editor for Splitkick and host of The Recurring Bosscast. Check out more of his video game musings at inthirdperson.com
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