Whichever version of Fire Emblem Fates you play, the biggest in-game decision has already been made for you. Your next decision should be reading these tips. Fates maintains the strict difficulty of its predecessors. Prepare yourself for an all-out war, and keep your new friends, family, and allies alive with these tips.

fire emblem fatesExpanded Weapon Triangle

Fire Emblem’s combat operates on a simple Rock-Paper-Scissors system with Axes-Lances-Swords. Fates adds ranged weapons into the mix, condensing magic into just a single category: Bows-Shurikens/Daggers-Magic respectively. Know which units and weapons are most effective at all times. You can always pull up the Guide at any time for a refresher, and double-check those up and down arrows in the fight summaries.

Examine the Map and Plan Ahead

Before each battle you can View Map to get a full perspective of the foes you’ll be facing and the general layout of the battle. Later battles can easily last over an hour. Take your time and analyze each enemy loadout and prepare accordingly. Lots of archers in a small map? Leave the fliers at home. Tons of cavalry? Equip those beast-killer lances. A wise 80s cartoon once said – knowing is half the battle.

Don’t Feel Bad About Playing “Casual”

The terribly named “Casual” mode returns from Fire Emblem Awakening. Ally deaths don’t have to be frustratingly permanent – which creates a much better balance to the overall game. If you find yourself restarting after losing anyone, play Casual. It also lets you create your own mid-battle checkpoint saves, which are extremely handy during very long battles. To compensate, feel free to crank up the difficulty!

Recycle Old Weapons at the Forge

Fire Emblem Fates completely eliminated weapon durability. Lower tier weapons remain useful thanks to the Forge. By combining the same weapon, like two Bronze Lances or Naginatas, you boost their power while still retaining their superior hit chance. It’s especially useful for allies that still need to level up their weapon rank, or when re-classing and promoting to different weapons.

fire emblem fates

Promote at Level 20

This has become a standard Fire Emblem tip but bears repeating. Although you can use a Master Seal as soon as level 10, hold off until you’ve maxed out the base class (Level 20). Using a Master Seal early will cause you to lose out on any stat boosts and skills from leveling up. Promoting to a master class is a huge boost in power, but also a one-time use. Plan ahead with each unit!

Know Your Seals

In addition to Master Seals, Fates has Heart, Partner, Friendship, and Eternal Seals. The Heart Seal changes an ally into an entirely different class. Don’t care for Azura’s singing? Re-class into a Sky Knight! Partner and Friendship Seals work the same way, with potential class changes based on their relationships with their fellow allies. Eternal Seals let you level up beyond the maximum. Note that seals are very limited until after Chapter 20 and a Level 3 Staff Store.

Attack Stance and Guard Stance

Probably the single biggest tactical change in Fates are Attack and Guard Stances. Attack Stance is when you have two characters next to each other. When one attacks, the other will execute a follow-up attack as a support unit. Guard Stance is when you physically pair two units up (sharing the same square). The lead unit gets boosted stats and protection from the enemy’s follow-up attacks. Pair units together when you know you’re going to get hit hard. Create powerful adjacency combos to launch an offensive assault. Positioning is critical in every battle.

fire emblem fates

Hit “X” and Play Defensively

Like Awakening, hitting “X” will show the enemy’s attack radius. You can also select individual enemy units to analyze their range. Use that knowledge to inch your units ahead, sticking your best defenders in front to get hit by (hopefully) only one or two enemies, while the rest swoop in on the following turn. Pair that lead unit up to create an even more stalwart front-line defender.

DLC Offers unlimited Gold, XP, Support

It feels super weird to recommend buying the DLC as a tip. But Fire Emblem Fates’ first few DLC maps are incredibly useful to grind for additional gold and experience. Conquest especially has a complete lack of Scouting that Birthright has, making the DLC annoyingly useful. Boo Camp lets you grind out experience, while Ghostly Gold grants you a ridiculous cache of gold every run. All of them let you advance your favorite Support pairings as well.

This article was written by

Eric is a freelance writer who enjoys talking about video games, movies, books and Dallas-based sports teams. He's a featured community blogger on GameInformer.com and every week he watches a random film from his collection of several hundred DVDs and live tweets about it @RogueWatson. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and daughter, two dogs, two cats, two fish tanks, some hermit crabs and a bookshelf full of Transformers.