A new segment readies for battle!
That’s right, even though I barely have time to write an articulate sentence, I’m still trying to introduce new segments to the blog. Before too long I’ll be writing a post about segments that are going away, so hopefully that’ll make things a little simpler for everybody.
Anyway, this segment is called A Casual Stroll, and the idea is loosely based around walk-throughs. But you see, despite my many posts about video games, I’m not super great at them and I certainly can’t tell you how to beat a game any better than a person who has already written a walk-through of it. Despite that, I can still offer some hints, tips, and general advice that may make the game easier for you. The idea of these stroll-throughs is that rather than giving you the answers, I’ll give you the guidance you need to find the answers for yourself.
So if you’re looking for step-by-step instructions on how to recruit certain characters, reach perfect stats, or complete the game 100%, this is not the place. But if you want some advice on how to make your journey a bit easier and maybe even more exciting, then a stroll-through is just what you need.
Today, I’ll be covering Fire Emblem: Awakening. So draw your Falchion and pack some vulneraries, because it’s time for our battle to begin!
Any beginner to Awakening will want to learn how to capitalize on the game’s Pair Up system. It allows you to place two characters together to give each other stat boosts, attack and defend as a pair, and travel the field more swiftly. But what characters are the best ones to pair up?
First, you need to look at the character’s class. This defines the majority of the pair up bonus. You want to combine classes that compliment each other’s weaknesses in a beneficial way. Why do I specify beneficial? Because being opposite doesn’t automatically mean that two classes will cover each other’s weaknesses. For example, a Fighter and a Mage are pretty opposite – one an axe-wielding musclehead, the other a magical book nerd. Yet putting these classes together is rarely all that helpful – the mage doesn’t need strength and the fighter doesn’t need magic, and while their secondary bonuses to one another are helpful, ultimately these two classes don’t pair all that well.
You want to pair classes that give each other bonuses in weak abilities, yes, but abilities that the character will use. Increasing magic on a fighter is pointless, making the mage an unhelpful partner. A thief, on the other hand, can give the fighter a helpful boost in speed and skill, two abilities that help the fighter but that he often has in short supply. On top of that, the thief will benefit from the fighter’s high strength, whereas the mage would have no need for it.
So here are some pairings that I prefer to use. First off, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with the combination of a knight and a pegasus knight. Knights increase strength and defense, making pegasus knights deal more damage and protecting them from physical harm. Meanwhile, the pegasus knight improves the knight’s speed and resistance, alleviating the weakness to magic and also making the ordinarily slow knight much quicker on his or her feet. These two pair perfectly and can be a powerful combination.
While that example may make it seem like opposites attract, sometimes similarity is just what a pair needs to become most effective. Take the mage and the dark mage. Both increase magic, but the former increases skill while the latter increases defense. Mages lack physical defense and need it to survive for any time on the front lines of a battle, and dark mages tend to miss attacks when using their unwieldy darkness spells, making skill an important stat. And both classes increase each other’s magic, giving the other more powerful attacks. Although they are similar, they still make an effective pair.
Pairings get stronger as support levels get higher, so whenever you choose a combination of characters, be sure to pay attention to whether or not they can be friends or even lovers.
As your characters level up and you progress through the game, you’ll find yourself encountering two important items with similar yet very unique effects: parallel seals and master seals. These items allow your characters to change classes, either to another class of a similar power level, or to a promoted class, a similar class with a whole new level of power. For first time players, it can be confusing trying to figure out exactly when to use these different seals and what their benefits are.
Here’s my suggestion. For the sake of completing the game normally – not trying to get perfect stats or deal with any DLC, just beating the main campaign – the best way to do things is as follows. Level up your units until they reach level 20 of their base class. Then use a master seal to promote them to the advanced class of your choosing. Then level up as that class. Chances are, that one class change will be all you need. While it is possible to change classes as early as level 10, that will cause your stats to be pretty low and make it harder to gain EXP early on. Parallel seals can be fun to experiment with and are necessary for getting the best combinations of skills, but for a standard run they have little use outside of reclassing Donnel away from the villager class.
Now there are some units in the game that join your party already promoted. The most notable examples are Frederick, Anna, and Libra. An inexperienced player may see these units and think “golly, they’re strong, I’m going to use them all the time!” See, here’s the thing about that – promoted units who are significantly more powerful than your other party members can be something of a trap if used incorrectly. Yeah, they do good damage and rarely get hurt, but they’re stealing valuable experience from your other units.
The way EXP works in Fire Emblem, you get more points for fighting enemies of an equal or higher level. Fighting lower-level enemies reduces your EXP reward and makes it harder to level up. As an example, on the first map, Chrom and Robin will get 30 EXP for defeating an enemy while Frederick might get as low as 6. When you only use Frederick because he’s strong and it makes things easy, your other units don’t level up, and neither does he. Then when the enemies get really tough, your party won’t be ready and the fights get very difficult.
But promoted units do have their advantages, so let’s talk about some ways to capitalize on their higher stats. First of all, both Libra and Anna are able to use staves to do things like heal their allies, move units across the battlefield, and give temporary stat bonuses. You should definitely take advantage of those effects. Additionally, Anna is perfectly good for unlocking doors and chests, a skill that only Gaius can offer you without having to utilize parallel seals. Promoted units give slightly higher stat boosts than unpromoted ones, so these characters are always viable as pair up partners, giving huge boosts to their allies while not taking any EXP away.
There’s another use for these units called “tanking.” Frederick in particular is good for this – I don’t recommend tanking with Libra or Anna. Basically, you take Frederick’s weapon away – whether you completely remove it from his inventory or just unequip it in case he gets into dire straits is up to you. Unarmed characters draw a lot of attention from enemies – after all, the bad guys can attack you with no fear of reprisal. Frederick’s sky-high defense will negate the damage from most attacks, but with no weapon to retaliate with, he won’t take EXP from anybody. This allows you to draw out your enemies with one unit and then sweep them away with the rest of your party. This strategy is useful primarily in the earlier levels of the game, but it is an excellent way to utilize Frederick’s bulk without taking EXP from your other units.
SPOILER WARNING – Don’t read this section until you’ve completed at least Chapter 13 of the game’s main storyline.
If you’re reading this, I assume you have waited until that point or that you don’t mind having plot points spoiled.
Something that was definitely confusing to me as a new Awakening player was the Child Paralogues. The future children of your different units each have a special mission you must complete to unlock them, but the problem is, the paralogues are numbered rather randomly. Owain’s Paralogue 5 is pretty simple, while Inigo’s Paralogue 6 is incredibly difficult for a party of the levels appropriate for Owain. So how do you know what order to do these paralogues in?
The solution is actually pretty simple. You complete the paralogues in the order that you recruited the mother (or father, in Robin’s case). This means that Morgan and Owain’s paralogues are the easiest, while Gerome’s would be the most difficult. Now this does vary somewhat depending on your units – some paralogues are much easier than they appear when you bring the appropriate units or equipment. Conversely, facing them unprepared can be difficult. Use your unit preparation time wisely – don’t send in flyers on an archer-heavy stage, and don’t send a bunch of heavy knights out into the desert sands.
That’s all the advice I have for now. But don’t think that’s the end – if you have a specific question you want to ask, just post it in the comments and I’ll tell you what I can. Conversely, if you’re way better than me at Awakening and want to offer some good advice that I missed, feel free to post that as well. I hope you enjoyed our stroll together, and I look forward to more in the future!