Nintendo has been cranking out Fire Emblem games fairly consistently over the past couple years, with last year seeing two games in the form of Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and Conquest, and this year seeing Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia releasing in April. Beyond that we’re looking at a crossover Hyrule Warriors style with Koei Tecmo on the upcoming Nintendo Switch titled Fire Emblem Warriors, as well as a yet-unnamed console version coming on the Switch as well. Until those (hopefully) excellent games all release, we are given Fire Emblem: Heroes to toy around with on our mobile devices. Stripping away most of the expected content that makes a Fire Emblem game a Fire Emblem game, Heroes still manages to capture the essence of the series and bring it (for free, mind you) to the masses of iPhone and Android users. For those of you just starting the game, or for you FE mainstays looking to get an edge, here are some pro tips to make your teams successful on the battlefield!
It’s Rock, Paper, Scissors with a Twist
The game will walk you through the basics of combat, utilizing what they call a weapon triangle signifying which weapons/units are stronger against others. For the most part, red sword wielding units are stronger against green axe using people, while those greens are strong against blue lance units, who are in turn strong against the red sword type. This is fine and dandy for the early game, but at later stages this isn’t always the case. Grey units, usually archers can excel against all unit types but cannot hit enemies directly adjacent to them, and spelltome users can eviscerate even the bulky knight units without breaking a sweat. More important to note, however, are a units special abilities. If a unit has the Brave skill for example, they will always attack the enemy unit twice if they initiate combat. Most spelltome users can get skills that will make them much more powerful against a color they otherwise wouldn’t stand a chance against, and other heroes gain special abilities if they have lower health, making them even more dangerous to be around! Make sure you inspect your (and your enemies) units by tapping on them and hitting the small Plus (+) icon on the top left corner near their picture: this will take you to a screen to see what they can do in combat!
You Should Only be Using Four-Star or Above Units
It might go without saying there are a ton of useless heroes to use in FE: Heroes. It might be exciting to get a new, cool looking Roy, but if he isn’t ranked with at least four stars it won’t be worth your time. This is because the higher star heroes have access to better weapons and gear, which in turn means they fare better in combat. If you’re up to it, you can level up any character to level 20 or above, and then us a staggering amount of feathers (an in-game currency mainly earned via arena duels) and gems to upgrade them to the next star level, but since this method takes a lot of time and a frankly ridiculous amount of items, it’s not recommended. What you can do if take your chances by using 20 orbs to get five new heroes, in hopes that at least one of them is four starred or above (you can get super lucky and roll a Five Star + hero, the highest in the game!). When forming a team, take into consideration not only their class/weapon type, but their star rating and potential growth as well.
Speaking of Orbs, Earn Them!
The most obvious way to earn orbs are through story quests, as well as playing ever day thanks to an app-release bonus. Before long that sweet bonus won’t be here, so what will you do to earn more orbs? Certainly not pay for them! Remember that the game has three difficulty modes for the main storyline, and the reward for conquering each level is, you guessed it, an orb! After tackling the normal mode, go through the hard mode, then the lunatic mode (I’m not even close to being there yet!) to earn a total of 135 orbs just by completing the game. Nintendo will likely continue to update the game with more quests and story missions that will hopefully earn players orbs as well. Don’t forget to link your My Nintendo account too; doing so nets you 10 orbs right off the bat!
*EDIT: After writing this, Nintendo actually updated the game and added special limited-time only quests which reward orbs upon completion!
Units Will Not Gain Experience if They Fall in Battle
Unlike standard Fire Emblem games, when a unit falls in battle in Heroes it is not gone forever. Instead, they can be used for the next battle. However, any experience or level gains they earned in the battle in which they were defeated will not be saved. This means if you’re looking to level up your team members you need to make sure they survive the entire fight. Surround your heroes you want to level up with heroes you don’t really mind if they fall, so you can ensure those heroes you want to keep experience for will actually live to do so. Also, since your team will respawn essentially the next play through, don’t be afraid to throw them into the battle knowing full well they’ll die: you can use this to your advantage to waste an enemy team unit’s turn taking them out instead!
Anticipate What the Computer Will Do
Since the only real way to play the game currently is against the computer (even the arena duels are done via computer controlled opponents), you can use the AI to your advantage in some situations. Tapping an enemy unit will reveal how far it can move and where it can attack from. You can also turn on a danger zone, revealing on the map any location in which you could possibly take damage. Knowing this, and knowing the computer will try to take down enemies it has the advantage against (think about the weapon triangle), you can easily predict what the computer will do in some cases on their turn. Use this method to bait enemies into coming just close enough in range so they can’t attack you, but still close enough so you can attack them first on your next turn. Also, lure enemies you have an advantage against to a location also containing a friendly unit the enemy unit is weak to (i.e. have a friendly archer unit close to a friendly red unit within range of an enemy blue flying unit, so the enemy will hone in on the weaker red unit, and you can take the enemy unit down easily with your archer). It won’t always lead to success for all your units, but by using the above method to also sacrifice some units to prevail overall will definitely help your chances.
Learn and Enhance Your Team’s Skills
When a unit levels up or defeats an enemy, they will earn Skill Points or SP. You can go into the Allies tab on the main menu and select the Learn Abilities tab to use these Skill Points to teach your units, well, skills! These skills range from upgrading their weapon to do more damage, to unlocking special abilities like unleashing a more powerful attack to an area of enemies after you sustain enough damage. There are also three skill slots marked A, B, and C, which you can assign specific unit skills to. These abilities differ per unit type, but usually have similar qualities. For example, some units can learn skills which increase the defense of all allied units within two squares of the unit at the start of the turn, and other skills can give debuffs to enemy units if they are attacked and not defeated. Use these skills to create a well balanced team, and one that works well in many situations.
There Isn’t a Perfect Team
That being said, no one team is able to take on every challenge thrown at them. In some situations your go-to team can win easily, and in the next battle can fall just as quick. Do yourself a favor and look at the level of the upcoming battle and the enemy unit composition. These details are listed below the quest name and give you much needed insight on the ensuing fight. Rearrange your team, removing and adding units accordingly, and engage. Remember to utilize the training maps to level up and earn SP for your teams so you can eventually take on those harder, more difficult bouts!
Fight in the Arena
There are a couple things to remember when taking on other players in the arena. First, you get a higher scored based on seven consecutive victories. What this means is winning seven times in a row will net you a higher arena ranking than winning five times, losing once, and winning one more. When first starting in the arena, I recommend taking on the intermediate challenges. These fights are similar in difficulty to the ones you’d see in the training maps which have a level close to slightly above your own team’s unit level. After you win seven of these fights, I then suggest taking on the upcoming arena fights on the most challenging difficulty. Since you have already locked in your arena score before, winning or losing these fights will not negatively affect you, but could give you an even higher score should you emerge victorious. Again, there’s nothing to lose here, so go for it!
Defend the Arena
Whichever team you have in the leftmost slot is the team opponents will fight if they get paired up against you in the Arena. This is important to note, because you will gain defense points for any successful defense you have (meaning someone paired up with you in the Arena map and your AI-controlled team beat them!). At the end of the Arena season (which only lasts a couple days) you’ll get bonus items like feathers for your defense point score as well. Make sure when you’re swapping around your teams you leave at least the leftmost team full and with a good team comp!
Don’t Be Afraid to Merge Units or Send Them Home
I am not sure what the cap is for units you can have before you cannot have any more, but don’t worry about getting rid of the ones you won’t use. At any given time you can have five teams assembled, and you can very easily swap team members around. Because of this, there are likely going to be units you have that you simply won’t ever use. Get rid of them! If you have two of the same unit, for example I had to Olivia’s, you can merge them together to create a slightly more powerful unit. This can only be done, however, if both units have the same star rating. This will convert them back to a level one unit but with the same start rating and the + benefit (i.e. slightly stronger than just the star number indicates). If they have different star levels when merging, they’ll just come out with the same star level but will gain any SP from the combined unit. Alternatively, you can use the Send Home option to send that unit away forever, netting you some items like feathers, which are necessary to promote a unit to the next star level!
Play Every Day
Free to play games want you to play all the time, yet they limit your playing to small sessions. FE: Heroes uses stamina to limit your play. Each fight or quest takes some amount of stamina, and you generate more stamina, up to a maximum of 50, every five minutes. So after a short time playing, you’ll have to wait and play later. You can, however, use or purchase with real money items which can replenish your stamina. If you have the items you should use them, because they don’t offer anything just sitting there, but why spend real money when you can just wait awhile? Be patient, play every day and unlock that log-in bonus, and come back to see the new daily maps and characters you can win. Fire Emblem: Heroes is a game and it’s meant to be fun, so have fun with it!
Have you tried out Fire Emblem: Heroes yet? Maybe it’s your first foray into the strategy series from Nintendo! If it is and you like it so far, I highly recommend checking out either of the Fates games on the 3DS, or even Fire Emblem: Awakening, the first 3DS Fire Emblem game and the one that arguably brought the series back into the mainstream. I for one have been greatly enjoying my time with Heroes, and though the storyline is over and it left a lot to be desired, I’m still logging in daily and playing, hoping to get that next awesome character unlocked!