We’ve already waxed poetic on this site about our love of Fire Emblem Heroes, the surprisingly fun and super addictive smartphone addition to one of our favourite series. As Fire Emblem Heroes celebrates its six-month anniversary (well, technically its six-month mensiversary if you want to get pedantic), we thought it would be a good time to look back on some of our favourite characters so far. [Warning: Full-on Fire Emblem Heroes geek speak ahead. And if you haven’t tried out the game yet, what are you waiting for? ;)]
Before we begin, we’ll also have to give a shout-out to Nintendo Wire for beating us to the punch, and giving us an interesting additional view for comparison. It’s worth noting that between the three of us we picked all different characters as our top favourites. This is a good indication that Intelligent Systems’ absolutely succeeded at coming up with a flexible and robust game design where virtually all the characters included are worth using, and you can build teams to suit your own playstyle and with your favourite characters from the mainline games.
Now, on to the heroes!
I’m all about ‘Horse Emblem’ right now; in other words, fielding a team made up entirely of cavalry units. Whereas infantry units can only move two spaces, horse riders can cover up to three spaces in one turn, making it easy to quickly overwhelm and surround opponents, or move characters away from harm. Their main downside is that they can’t move through forests, which can be a bit of a pain on some maps as mages take potshots at you from the other side of a wood, out of reach of your attacks. But cavalry units have a huge advantage when it comes to passive skills: Ward Cavalry, Hone Cavalry, Fortify Cavalry, and Goad Cavalry give stat boosts to allies (either ones that are adjacent or in some cases up to two spaces away), and equipping a whole team with these skills gives you a crew with ridiculously high defence and devastating attack.
Xander was only available for a limited time through a Grand Hero battle, and he’s been one of my go-to heroes ever since I obtained him. His main boon is his sword, Siegfried, which can counterattack regardless of distance. His main weakness is his fairly weedy resistance (i.e. defence against magic), but if he does get jumped by an enemy mage, his distant counter means that at least he can put up a bit of a fight.
Xander’s high defence stat is one of his best traits; my version has a defence stat of 39, which is higher than most maxed out armoured units. And with buffs from adjacent cavalry units, that stat can go higher still. Basically, nothing much can touch him.
I’ve currently kitted out Xander with the skills Fury, Vantage, and Fortify Cavalry. Fury pushes his attack, speed, defence, and resistance up by a maximum of 3 points each, at the disadvantage that he loses health each time he attacks; but considering his very high HP and defence, it’s an easy sacrifice to make. It also ties in well with Vantage: as Xander’s health gets lower, he actually gets more dangerous as Vantage kicks in, meaning he can strike first when attacked. And Fortify Cavalry gives a massive 6 points of resistance and defence to adjacent cavalry units, meaning Xander can effectively build a human wall if he’s placed next to similarly beefy horse-tanks. Speaking of which…
Another character who was only available through a Grand Hero battle, Camus has high defence but even higher speed. Combined with his formidable attack stat, this means he can double hit many enemy characters for an instant knockout. Gradivus, his lance, also has distant counter built in, so he can counterattack regardless of distance. With Camus and Xander leading the charge, there’s little that can stand in my way.
Having said that, he does share Xander’s one weakness – a fairly puny resistance stat. But sticking him next to Xander means he gains +6 to resistance thanks to Fortify Cavalry, so he’s still able to survive most mage encounters (and hit them back too, thanks to Gradivus).
Camus is still a bit of a work in progress for me in terms of inheriting skills. He’s currently kitted out with the default Grani’s Shield and Goad Cavalry, both of which are pretty useful. Grani’s Shield neutralizes ‘effective against’ bonuses, so he’s immune to characters like Raigh who have special horse-killing powers. Goad Cavalry boosts the attack and speed of cavalry units by 4 if they’re within two spaces, which is perfect for my Horse Emblem strategy.
The B slot is a bit of a work in progress though. I’ve currently got Seal Def 2 in there, which reduces enemy defences by 5 after you attack them. But Camus is so powerful that most enemies end up dead after the first attack, so it’s not that useful. I’m thinking of trading it in for Blue Tomebreaker, which will give him a fighting chance against blue mages – although that does mean sacrificing my Female Robin, who is the only character with this skill. Decisions, decisions…
I know what you’re thinking: “Cecilia? Are you mental?” But hear me out.
I ignored Cecilia for a long while, as she’s widely available and her stats weren’t too impressive at first glance. But she has a few qualities that really make her stand out. First, her attack is pretty damn high; my build has a base attack of 43. Then there’s her weapon, Gronnraven, which has the nifty ability of granting a weapon advantage against colourless foes. This means she can make short work of enemy healers, archers, and thieves, and she makes a pretty handy counter to Takumi.
There’s also the fact that she’s the only green cavalier mage in the game (so far), and seeing as the blue cavalier mages Reinhardt and Olwen crop up fairly regularly in the Arena, she makes a good counter. In fact, blue characters in general tend to crop up fairly regularly in the Arena, presumably as a counter to the fairly high number of red sword users, so Cecilia has been key to rounding out my team.
I’ve kitted out Cecilia with Death Blow, which when maxed out adds another 6 points to her already high attack stat, meaning she can one-hit KO most blue and many green enemies (even Nino). I’ve kept her default skill, Escape Route, which means she can warp out of danger when her health gets low. This also works quite well with Reciprocal Aid (which allows her to swap her health for an ally’s), as she can warp around the map healing other units or healing herself. Ward Cavalry rounds out her skills, adding +4 to the defence and resistance of allies up to two spaces away. Positioning her behind Xander and Camus is the perfect way to fix their low resistance stats.
So there you go – Cecilia turns out to be an excellent character for improving an already strong Horse Emblem team.
Professor GreilMercs’ favourites
At the top of my list by far has got to be Azura, absolutely no question about it. Azura is one of only three characters currently in the game who have the “dance” ability (although in this case, it’s actually “sing”), which allows her to give up her turn to someone else. In the mainline games I use dancers a lot because they let you use your strongest characters twice in one turn, although they tend to be quite frail themselves with very low attack. Not so in this game, however. In this game, Azura is a powerhouse with a solid attack stat, and she has great speed as well.
Azura uses a sapphire lance, which gives her an extra 10% attack and defence bonus on top of the standard 10% bonus attack and defence granted by the regular weapon triangle bonus (red beats green, green beats blue, and blue beats red, e.g. swords beat axes, axes beat lances, and lances beat swords). Ruby, emerald, and sapphire weapons are a double-edged sword (or rather, lance in this case, haha) because although they provide a great advantage when battling with the triangle advantage, you really get screwed when you’re on the losing side of the triangle. With careful planning and a well-balanced team this shouldn’t happen, and in Azura’s case it’s worth the risk since there are a disproportionately large number of red characters in the game (mostly because there are a lot of swordfighters in the mainline games).
Azura definitely outshines the other two dancers in the game, and the maxed out “HM” you can see in the screenshot above is an indication of just how much I use her (basically all the time), as you earn Hero Merit for every battle a character is used in and survives. Don’t leave home without her. 😉
Ike is one of my favourite characters in the mainline games (my nickname is the name of his mercenary group in the games), and he’s also a great character to use in this game as well, even when considering him outside of my personal bias. Like Lucius’s favourites Xander and Camus, Ike’s unique weapon also lets him counter enemies attacking from two spaces away. Ike has a stat spread quite similar to Xander’s, i.e. high attack and defence, but quite low speed and resistance. Ike comes with Swordbreaker, which lets him attack twice against sword users. This is a quite useful skill since there are so many sword users in the game, but as with other characters with low speed and high defence I find it more useful to give him Quick Riposte, which allows him to attack twice when attacked.
Ike has an added advantage over Xander, which is his special, Aether. This is another fairly unique ability in this game, and as in the mainline games it not only gives Ike added attack power when it triggers, but it also restores 50% of the damage back as health. Ike also comes with the completely unique skill Heavy Blade, which makes his special trigger more quickly if his attack is higher than his opponent’s. Aether usually takes 5 turns to trigger, but with Heavy Blade it ends up triggering pretty often which makes it so that Ike can pretty much be his own one-man army. Ike is a popular character in general so it’s not surprising that IntSys made him top tier in this game, but I’m definitely glad they did.
I debated about who to pick as my third, but Titania has more than earned her spot on my list. I like Nino, a powerful green mage, as well, but I had to give credit where credit was due, and I’ve ended up using Titania a lot as she’s a powerful green unit. In the mainline games she’s actually another member of Ike’s Greil Mercenaries, but although I liked her before, I was surprised that I liked her as much as I did in this game.
As with Lucius’s picks, Titania is a cavalry unit, and so she can get around the map easily. Similarly to Azura, Titania has an emerald axe which can be risky, but for me the benefits outweigh the risks. On a team with characters like Ike and Azura who can cover the green and red enemies, Titania can focus on doing what she does best, which is completely dominating the blue enemies. With her high resistance she can also reliably take on green mages and colourless staff users, and she can also help take down colourless bow and dagger users. Titania can’t usually go head-to-head with other axe users, but she shines when part of a team that includes strong sword and lance users.
Titania comes with Reciprocal Aid, which along with her good mobility helps her heal her teammates. I trade it for the skill Rally Defense, which lets her boost an ally’s defense, when needed for certain challenges. I could also give her a special move like Moonbow which would give her added attack when it triggers and help her against axe and colourless users, but even without those upgrades she’s still been one of my most-used units.
Well, there you have it. Both of us have many other favourites, and the game keeps evolving, so our early favourites have been superseded, and these favourites may be supplanted as well. We’ll have to check in again sometime in the future to see how our top three changes, or not… maybe in another six months!