Fire Emblem Fates: Deeper Mechanics for Beginners

Another day, another Casual Stroll through the world of Fire Emblem! Fire Emblem Fates has been out for a couple of months now, but there are still plenty of folks picking up the game for the first time. Fates, like its predecessor Awakening, has drawn new players into the world of Fire Emblem. If you’re one of those new players, or if you’re a more casual player who is looking to increase your Fire Emblem acumen, then some of the deeperĀ mechanics of the game may not be one hundred percent clear. Perhaps you went to check out one of the other guides on the site only to realize that terminology like “growth rates” or “base classes” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to you. Maybe you’re wondering why in the world stats like “Skill” or “Luck” really matter in the grand scheme of things. This guide is for you, to help you understand the basic knowledge that my other guides take for granted, and to help you improve your understanding of the game so you can enjoy it all the more.

THE EIGHT STATS
Alright, so let’s quickly talk about the stats that you’ll see on every character. Each character has HP (short for hit points or health points, of course), Strength, Magic, Skill, Speed, Luck, Defense, and Resistance. But what do those mean, and what exactly do they affect?
Some stats are really straightforward. For example, you probably recognize HP from every RPG ever. If it hits zero, you die. Easy. Strength, Magic, Defense, and Resistance are also straightforward. Strength makes your physical attacks stronger, Magic makes your magical attacks stronger. Defense reduces damage from enemy physical attacks, Resistance reduces damage from enemy magical attacks.
Speed gets a bit trickier – in most turn-based games, it decides who goes first, but in a strategy format like this turns and going first work differently. If it’s your turn and you attack the enemy, you’re going first. If it’s the enemy’s turn and they attack you, they’re going first. So instead of affecting order, Speed affects the number of attacks possible. When your effective Speed is 5 points higher than the opponent’s, you score what’s called a follow-up attack. You get to swing (or shoot, or cast, or throw) twice against their once. It’s a huge advantage to have in combat, so you want to get that effective Speed up high.
So what does it mean when I say “effective Speed?” Well, some weapons alter the Speed stat listed in your character’s information. Steel weapons, for example, make follow-up attacks more difficult, reducing your effective Speed by 3. Now this only applies to your Speed in the sense of YOU getting to follow-up, not the enemy. So it only reduces your effective Speed when attacking, not defending. That’s an important distinction to look for when choosing your weapon. When you need to know how a weapon you’re wielding influences your effective Speed, touch it on the touch screen to see the description. Speed also affects your ability to avoid attacks, so the faster you are, the less likely you are to get hit by enemy attacks.
Now then we have Luck and Skill. Those are the outright weird ones. Why do they matter? What do they influence? Half of your Luck is added to your chance to hit enemies, avoid their attacks, and dodge critical hits, so a good Luck stat makes you a little better at everything. There are also a number of skills that depend on Luck to activate. In the way that Speed is the main stat used when calculating your chance of avoiding attacks, Skill is the main stat used when calculating your chance of landing attacks. A bit less than half of your skill is also added to your chance to land a critical hit, making it more likely that you’ll deal three times the damage. Finally, Skill affects the activation rate of a number of skills, just like Luck. While these two abilities are certainly more subtle than Strength or Resistance, they are quite important and make a difference in how a character performs.
So, to simplify, your stats affect the following:
HP – How long you live
Strength – How much physical damage you do
Magic – How much magical damage you do
Skill – Your accuracy, critical hit rate, and skill activation
Speed – Your chance to follow-up and your avoid rate
Luck – Your chance to hit, avoid, and to dodge critical hits, and skill activation
Defense – How much physical damage you resist
Resistance – How much magical damage you resist

HIDDEN STATS
There are a number of stats in this game that you just plain can’t see. And while these stats may be invisible, they are important because they have a dramatic affect on your ability to fight. Hidden stats come from two main sources: your weapon level and your class. Having a high weapon level isn’t beneficial just because it means you can use better quality weapons – it also makes you better when you wield those weapons. For every weapon level above E, you gain a bonus to Attack or Hit Rate based on what kind of weapon you are wielding. For swords, it’s mostly an Attack bonus, for axes mostly a Hit bonus, and lances get a balance of both. On top of that, your benefits from the Weapon Triangle are amplified by having a higher weapon level, further increasing your stats when you have weapon advantage over the opponent. Two otherwise evenly-matched characters that have different weapon levels will therefore have different stats because of that.
Next, your class. Many of the game’s advanced classes give hidden bonuses to things like Hit, Avoid, Critical, or Dodge. Some of these are pretty straightforward. Snipers getting a bonus to Hit and Critical, for example, makes perfect sense and seems pretty obvious. The same with swordmasters getting bonuses to Avoid and Critical. However, there are also classes like Sorcerers and Spear Masters that get bonuses. Generally, classes that get these hidden bonuses are classes that can receive an S rank in a specific weapon. So since both S-rank and just being in the class give bonuses, you definitely want to utilize these classes whenever the opportunity presents itself.

GROWTH RATES
Every time you level up in Fire Emblem, you have an opportunity for your stats to go up. The little screen pops up and you hold your breath, hoping to get a line of +1 bonuses down the page. Sometimes it seems like every stat goes up – sometimes you get one +1 in Luck and your character makes some little quip about how this is crazy and they should have gotten more stats. How does that happen? Is it totally random or is there some kind of order behind the chaos of leveling up?
Well, a little of both. Stat increases when you gain a level IS random. Every character has a number called a “growth rate” for every stat. These numbers are the result of the character’s natural potential combined with the influence of their class. When you level up, a random number generator goes down the line of stats and assigns random numbers from 0-100. If the number you get is lower than the growth rate in that stat, then BAM, the stat goes up. If the number is higher, no increase for you. So you are more likely to get bonuses in stats with high growth rates.
Unfortunately, growth rates are not something you can really see in the game. If you want to know the exact numbers, you’ve got to check a website like Serenes Forest or something. You can generally get a better idea of what a character’s growth rates are like by playing with them. As an example, Hana and Hinata are both samurai from Birthright. Hana has more traditional growth rates for a samurai, getting plenty of Speed and Skill. Hinata’s natural growth rates are more inclined towards Strength and Defense, so those stats will increase for him more often than they will for Hana. But her Speed and Skill will likely be much higher than his.
What’s really frustrating about this situation is that personal growth rates, the ones unique to the character, influence growth a lot more than class growth rates. So even if a class should have good strength, if the character in that class has low strength growths then that stat will still go up slowly.
You can play and succeed at Fire Emblem without knowing these numbers. As you play the game you’ll get a feel for what they are even if you can’t actually “see” them. The main reason I explain their purpose is to further your understanding, and so if/when I refer to growth rates in other guides, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. I’ll go more into detail about the growth rates of specific characters in the character guides coming out soon.

CLASSES
The Fire Emblem series has stuck to tradition when it comes to classes for quite a long time. Awakening certainly added some new elements, but Fates really changes things up by adding a more Japanese flavor to many existing classes while including some new ones along with it. In many of my guides, I refer to specific base classes, the advanced classes that they can become, and the skills that the character can acquire from them. If you’ve not played all the way through the game or experimented with the class system yet, you may not be aware of all these names and skills. So let’s go over the classes, what they become, and what skills are available to them.

Nohrian Prince/Princess -> Hoshidan Noble OR Nohrian Noble
Nobility – Increases EXP gain by 20%
Dragon Fang – Adds 50% of Attack as extra damage (Activation: Skill x3/4)
IF you choose Hoshidan Noble…
Draconic Ward – Reduces damage to an adjacent ally by 50% (Activation: Luck/2)
Hoshidan Unity – Increases skill activation rates by 10%
IF you choose Nohrian Noble…
Draconic Hex – If enemy survives combat, lowers all of their stats by 4
Nohrian Trust – Unit may activate skills of unit in the support position

Songstress
Luck +4 – Increases Luck by 4
Inspiring Song – Skill, Speed, and Luck +3 to a unit receiving a song this turn
Voice of Peace – Enemies in two spaces deal -2 damage
Foreign Princess – Invaders in two spaces deal -2 damage and suffer +2 damage

Villager -> Merchant OR Master-at-Arms
Aptitude – Growth Rates +10%
Underdog – Hit and Avoid +15 when the enemy’s level is higher
IF you choose Merchant…
Profiteer – May obtain a Gold Bar at start of turn for the first seven turns (Activation: Luck)
Spendthrift – Spend a Gold Bar during battle for damage given +10, damage taken -10
IF you choose Master-at-Arms…
Seal Strength – If enemy survives battle, suffers Strength -6
Life or Death – Damage given AND taken +10

Cavalier -> Paladin OR Great Knight
Elbow Room – Damage +3 on spaces with no terrain effects
Shelter – Choose Shelter to make an adjacent ally your support unit
IF you choose Paladin…
Defender – When supported, all stats +1
Aegis – Halves damage from tomes/bows/shurikens/dragonstones (Activation: Skill)
IF you choose Great Knight…
Luna – Ignore half of enemy’s Defense/Resistance (Activation: Skill)
Armored Blow – Defense +10 when initiating battle

Knight -> General OR Great Knight
Defense +2 – Increases Defense by 2
Natural Cover – Reduces damage taken by 3 on spaces with terrain effects
IF you choose General…
Wary Fighter – This unit cannot follow-up and neither can the enemy
Pavise – Halves damage from swords/axes/lances/beaststones (Activation: Skill)
IF you choose Great Knight…
Luna – Ignore half of enemy’s Defense/Resistance (Activation: Skill)
Armored Blow – Defense +10 when initiating battle

Samurai -> Swordmaster OR Master-at-Arms
Duelist’s Blow – Avoid +30 when initiating battle
Vantage – If unit has <50% HP, unit always attacks first in battle
IF you choose Swordmaster…
Astra – Attack five times at half damage (Activation: Skill/2)
Swordfaire – Damage +5 when wielding a sword
IF you choose Master-at-Arms…
Seal Strength – If enemy survives battle, suffers Strength -6
Life or Death – Damage given AND taken +10

Spear Fighter -> Spear Master OR Master-at-Arms
Seal Defense – If enemy survives battle, suffers Defense -6
Swap – Choose Swap to switch places with an adjacent ally
IF you choose Spear Master…
Seal Speed – If enemy survives battle, suffers Speed -6
Lancefaire – Damage +5 when wielding a lance
IF you choose Master-at-Arms…
Seal Strength – If enemy survives battle, suffers Strength -6
Life or Death – Damage given AND taken +10

Oni Savage -> Oni Chieftain OR Blacksmith
Seal Resistance – If enemy survives battle, suffers Resistance -6
Shove – Choose Shove to push ally forward one space
IF you choose Oni Chieftain…
Death Blow – Crit +20 when initiating battle
Counter – When adjacent enemy intiates battle, enemy suffers the damage it inflicts
IF you choose Blacksmith…
Salvage Blow – If unit triggers battle and wins, may get a weapon (Activation: Luck)
Lancebreaker – Hit and Avoid +50 against an opponent wielding a lance

Fighter -> Berserker OR Hero
HP +5 – Increases HP by 5
Gamble – Hit Rate -10, Critical Rate +10
IF you choose Berserker…
Rally Strength – Choose Rally to give Strength +4 to allies in two spaces for one turn
Axefaire – Damage +5 when wielding an axe
IF you choose Hero…
Sol – Recover HP equal to half of the damage dealt (Activation: Skill)
Axebreaker – Hit and Avoid +50 against an opponent wielding an axe

Mercenary -> Bow Knight OR Hero
Good Fortune – Recover 20% HP at start of turn (Activation: Luck)
Strong Riposte – Damage +3 when the enemy initiates battle
IF you choose Bow Knight…
Rally Skill – Choose Rally to give Skill +4 to allies in two spaces for one turn
Shurikenbreaker – Hit and Avoid +50 against an opponent with a shuriken
IF you choose Hero…
Sol – Recover HP equal to half of the damage dealt (Activation: Skill)
Axebreaker – Hit and Avoid +50 against an opponent wielding an axe

Outlaw -> Adventurer OR Bow Knight
Locktouch – Allows the unit to open locked doors and chests
Move +1 – Increases movement by 1
IF you choose Adventurer…
Lucky Seven – Hit and Avoid +20 for the first seven turns
Pass – Unit can pass through spaces occupied by enemy units
IF you choose Bow Knight…
Rally Skill – Choose Rally to give Skill +4 to allies in two spaces for one turn
Shurikenbreaker – Hit and Avoid +50 against an opponent wielding a shuriken

Ninja -> Master Ninja OR Mechanist
Locktouch – Allows the unit to open locked doors and chests
Poison Strike – Unit deals 10% HP damage after battle when initiating battle
IF you choose Master Ninja…
Lethality – Instantly defeats enemy when dealing at least 1 damage (Activation: Skill/4)
Shurikenfaire – Damage +5 when wielding a shuriken
IF you choose Mechanist…
Golembane – Attacks deal effective damage against Mechanists, Automatons, Stoneborn
Replicate – Choose Replicate to create a connected copy of the unit

Apothecary -> Merchant OR Mechanist
Potent Potion – Increase the effect of healing or stat-boost potions by 50%
Quick Salve – Unit can perform another action after using a potion
IF you choose Merchant…
Profiteer – May obtain a Gold Bar at start of turn for the first seven turns (Activation: Luck)
Spendthrift – Spend a Gold Bar during battle for damage given +10, damage taken -10
IF you choose Mechanist…
Golembane – Attacks deal effective damage against Mechanists, Automatons, Stoneborn
Replicate – Choose Replicate to create a connected copy of the unit

Wyvern Rider -> Wyvern Lord OR Malig Knight
Strength +2 – Increases Strength by 2
Lunge – Choose Lunge to switch places with the enemy at end of battle
IF you choose Wyvern Lord…
Rally Defense – Choose Rally to give Defense +4 to allies in two spaces for one turn
Swordbreaker – Hit and Avoid +50 against an opponent wielding a sword
IF you choose Malig Knight…
Savage Blow – Allies within two spaces take 20% HP damage after combat you initiate
Trample – Damage +5 versus units without a mount

Sky Knight -> Kinshi Knight OR Falcon Knight
Darting Blow – Effective Speed +5 when initiating battle
Camaraderie – Recover 10% HP at start of turn if allies within two spaces
IF you choose Kinshi Knight…
Air Superiority – Hit and Avoid +30 against flying enemies
Amaterasu – Allies within two spaces heal 20% HP at start of turn
IF you choose Falcon Knight…
Rally Speed – Choose Rally to give Speed +4 to allies in two spaces for one turn
Warding Blow – Resistance +20 when initiating battle

Archer -> Sniper OR Kinshi Knight
Skill +2 – Increases Skill by 2
Quick Draw – Damage +4 when initiating battle
IF you choose Sniper…
Certain Blow – Hit +40 when initiating battle
Bowfaire – Damage +5 when wielding a bow
IF you choose Kinshi Knight…
Air Superiority – Hit and Avoid +30 against flying enemies
Amaterasu – Allies within two spaces heal 20% HP at start of turn

Dark Mage -> Sorcerer OR Dark Knight
Heartseeker – When you attack an adjacent enemy, enemy suffers Avoid -20
Malefic Aura – Enemies within 2 spaces take +2 damage from magical attacks
IF you choose Sorcerer…
Vengeance – Deal extra damage equal to lost HP (Activation: Skill x1.5)
Bowbreaker – Hit and Avoid +50 against an opponent wielding a bow
IF you choose Dark Knight…
Seal Magic – Enemy that survives battle suffers Magic -6
Lifetaker – If you initiate combat and defeat the enemy, recover 50% HP

Diviner -> Onmyoji OR Basara
Magic +2 – Increases Magic by 2
Future Sight – If unit initiates combat and defeats the enemy, EXP x2 (Activation: Luck)
IF you choose Onmyoji…
Rally Magic – Choose Rally to give Magic +4 to allies in two spaces for one turn
Tomefaire – Damage +5 when wielding a tome
IF you choose Basara…
Rend Heaven – Add half enemy’s Strength/Magic to damage (Activation: Skill x1.5)
Quixotic – This unit and enemy have Hit +30 and skill activation +15%

Troubadour -> Butler/Maid OR Strategist
Resistance +2 – Increases Resistance by 2
Demoiselle/Gentilhomme – Male/Female allies in two spaces take -2 damage
IF you choose Butler/Maid…
Live to Serve – When healing an ally with a staff, recover HP equal to the amount healed
Tomebreaker – Hit and Avoid +50 against an opponent wielding a tome
IF you choose Strategist…
Rally Resistance – Choose Rally to give Resistance +4 to allies in two spaces for one turn
Inspiration – Damage given +2 and damage taken -2 for allies in two spaces

Monk/Shrine Maiden -> Great Master/Priestess OR Onmyoji
Miracle – Unit may be left with one HP after a killing blow (Activation: Luck)
Rally Luck – Choose Rally to give Luck +8 to allies in two spaces for one turn
IF you choose Great Master/Priestess…
Renewal – Unit recovers 30% HP at start of turn
Countermagic – If enemy initiates battle and deals magic damage, enemy suffers same
IF you choose Onmyoji…
Rally Magic – Choose Rally to give Magic +4 to allies in two spaces for one turn
Tomefaire – Damage +5 when wielding a tome

Wolfskin -> Wolfssegner
Odd-shaped – Damage +4 on odd-numbered turns
Beastbane – Wolfskin or Kitsune attacks are effective against Beast units
As a Wolfssenger…
Better Odds – Recover 40% HP at the start of odd-numbered turns
Grisly Wound – Enemy loses 20% HP after a battle

Kitsune -> Ninetails
Evenhanded – Damage +4 on even-numbered turns
Beastbane – Wolfskin or Kitsune attacks are effective against Beast units
As a Ninetails…
Even Better – Recover 40% HP at the start of even-numbered turns
Grisly Wound – Enemy loses 20% HP after a battle

CONCLUSION
I hope this information is helpful to you either on its own or when you are using other guides here on Adventure Rules. You can easily find all of the Fire Emblem Fates material on the site by clicking on the Fire Emblem Fates Guides category in the sidebar on the right of the page. Tune in tomorrow as I begin to delve into the adult characters of Fire Emblem Fates!

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