0% Growths, Hacks, and You

0% Growths
In recent years (okay, that may be a bit too much of a generalization) the concept of a 0% growths run has risen in popularity, in which all playable character’s growths have been set to 0%. The ability to see if it’s possible to complete a game under the most stat screwed conditions gave a very big shift on which units are viable in a given game. It let lategame prepromotes have more of an impact on your team than what would ordinarily be expected.

One may ask how does the concept of 0% growths translate to hacks. To answer this, we should look at some lategame units in vanilla FE games.

From Binding Blade, we have Niime, the Mountain Hermit. She starts at level 18 with these stats. Whlie she does have a frailty issue, her main appeal is that 21 magic of hers as well as A rank in both dark and staves, meaning she is likely gonna be a good Apocalypse user as well as being able to use Warp at base. Niime is basically what every offensive magic user in FE6 tries and fails to do, that being good combat at base (excluding an underflow glitch from Hugh). She also helps on the utility front.

While no one in their right mind would want to go to Sace in FE6, especially HM, due to how annoying it can be to fight the nomads there, you do get this guy in chapter 20. Looking over his bases, he has 20 speed, which is enough to double most of the enemies left to fight, barring the faster ones like Heroes, Swordmasters, and other nomad troopers. With a silver bow, he will be the only unit at base to be able to ORKO the Wyvern Lords in 20x, 21, and 23, and with his A rank in bows, it shouldn’t take too long to have Mulagir access to help fight off the many manaketes that swarm the endgame. His strength could use some help, but thanks to the secret shop in chapter 21, after you bought your fair share of boots, it would help to spare this man a energy ring or 2. Dayan is a great emergency combat unit for the time he joins, because wyverns are gonna be the big problem, and the other nomads are likely gonna be the best at dealing with them, even so seeing their chief help out is nice.

In FE12, Darros received a new coat of paint from his pirate days, not too sure why he joined the fire tribe in the process, however. Anyways, with a newfound conviction to do the right thing, Darros is making sure he was gone from his pirate days. As a Berserker, 18 Strength lets him at least have decent damage output, 15 speed lets him avoid being doubled for the next few chapters, even on higher difficulties unless he’s fighting something really speedy like a swordmaster or a wyvern, before things like star shards, reclassing, and rainbow tonics. 41HP and 13 Def means he can at least take a hit in a game where offenses on both sides of the aisle are absurd. Having B axes is also amazing because he will be able to use most axes you have available at this point, with the sole exception of Hauteclere. While one may be worried about his 10 skill and axes being the least accurate physical weapon in FE12, one thing to know about FE12 is that hit rates tend to be high, so accuracy isn’t too much of a problem.

In FE5, one of the prepromotes you get in chapter 1 goes by the name of Dagdar. Aside the base stats listed here, he also has A rank axes, 7 movement, 1 movement star, and the accost skill, which is based on HP, in his case, a meaty 43. While his growths seem bad, and trust me, they are, the enemy quality in FE5 tends to be rather abysmal, so achieving decent combat is not too hard to reach; it’s partially why staff utility is so valuable in the first place. Back to Dagdar, his stats suggest he was made for this game. 43 HP means he won’t be easily fatigued and may be able to 5 map straight without needing to take a breather. 14 strength lets him do massive amounts of damage with a strong axe, and even if his 9 speed doesn’t sound too fast, he will be able to ORKO many things with most axes, thanks to his 15 constitution. 10 defense lets him also be able to tank many things, sometimes for 0 damage. Accost also works with his massive HP to extend combat.

Now why would I list units from vanilla FEs to illustrate my point? It’s because these units can give your team a second wind in the event your own team isn’t doing too hot. It’s also why the Gotoh archetype is given so much value.

Now that I’ve (hopefully) told you all why I believe balancing for 0% is important, I was wondering how other people think of 0% growths situations. Mostly because I figured I may be putting too much importance on the player being ultra screwed.


Basicly, hacks have good gamedesign if they are beatable regardless of if the rng is kind that day or not and bases>growths. Kind of an old message imo. The biggest problem I see in FE design honestly is the question of weapon hit. How would one logically design a game with as little rng as possible if past fe games always used the factor of attacks missing as part of it’s core design?


I recommend moving this to the “design” category as it better fits the topic.

I think regardless of 0% growths it’s good to have your game always be completable. In vanilla FE this means giving you OP units in the end game. In a traditional RPG it means having enemies you can farm outside the final boss area.

I’m not going to design my game so the it fits well into a niche hack subcategory. If someone decides to do a reverse growth run on my game where all the units start at lvl 1 that’s on them. I’m not going to stop them, and I’m not going to make my game with it in mind.

@LPFan, are we talking about removing weapon hit altogether or just making it less odious? If we’re removing it altogether I recommend designing your hack so it plays like advance wars and as an aside you should never play the boardgame Risk. If we’re just trying to make it more manageable and less crazy, you can do things like switching to single rn, giving a huge universal buff to weapon hit (like +30 across the board), and nullifying criticals.

Having as little RNG as possible depends on the player, if a player knows to get as close as possible to 100% for a PCs Hit and 0% for an enemies Hit, they’ll most likely make it through, if they don’t they probably won’t, and the hit rate or avoid can come from supports, the WPN TRI, the weapon’s hit etc, if a player knows how to use all that for an advantage then they will normally have a high chance of victory in chapters I think, that knowing and caring about damage, defense, terrain avoid etc.

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You can make avoid only works if the units attack.
If unit is attacked it should be hit.

Feel free to take this with a grain of salt, but in my opinion balancing around 0% growths is unnecessary. My reasoning is as follows:

  • Balancing around 0% growths sounds useful in theory, but works only in a vacuum. People who are capable of beating the game/hack with 0% growths most likely can beat the game or hack with original growth rates as well. This doesn’t work the other way around: if Billybob can’t beat the game with regular growth rates, then there’s no way Billybob can beat it with 0% growths. Making your game beatable with 0% growths does absolutely nothing for the common/majority of/average/whateveryouwanttocall player.

  • 0% growths run is one instance of arbitrary self-imposed challenges, and in my opinion there’s no need to balance your game/hack around those (arbitrary self-imposed challenges). People who want to do those pretty much always find a way. I’m not sure if Sacred Chairs (latest Mangs PME) was balanced around 0% growths or not - my guess is the latter - and yet there’s a guy who beat it with 0% growths anyway. Outside of Fire Emblem and in the world of Pokemon there are various nuzlocke and monotype runs, even monotype nuzlockes, of not only the main games but also of fan games that have drastically increased difficulty (in comparison to the main games).

  • Providing new units as well as playtesting your maps for various scenarios (as in are the maps beatable in more ways than one, and with different units) is enough in terms of providing a safety net as well as making sure your map(s) are beatable. You can’t maintain a modicum of difficulty / challenge if you feel the need to shield players from their mistakes. Even the strongest of units can die at the hand of a incompetent player, or simply out of carelessness. If they can’t, balancing around 0% growths shouldn’t be your primary concern at that point. I have yet to see a single instance of a person playing a FE game and getting so poor level ups that the game has become practically unbeatable. I believe if a game is unbeatable, it’s a sum of player’s poor decisions and wasted resources (even units are a resource). Or due to some questionable design choice you got soft-locked. Either way, no amount of balancing around 0% growths can fix this.

  • Even if some of your units are getting sub-par level ups, there’s a good chance they can still be used. Their lower-than-average stats just set you an extra layer of having to play around their poor stats. This is completely possible (as in no RNG is required) even in games/hacks that are balanced around certain thresholds, like player unit average stats.

In short: balancing around 0% growths isn’t beneficial in making sure your game is beatable. It only caters to a handful of players who, if not presented the choice of extra challenge, just create their own anyway.


Just release a 0% growths patch and have a ball, honestly. I do feel like it is important that 0% be possible in order to ensure that the save file isn’t dead due to bad luck, though. Still, if someone wants to make Fire Emblem Kaizo, they should be allowed to.

However, on the side of development for Fire Emblem… I have indeed seen Markyjoe’s video on the topic that goes over why FE gives the player so many tools in the event of failure, among other things.

So just because something did not happen yet, it can never happen? Interessting way of thinking. And you mention providing safetynet units, but that is part of designing around people getting rng screwed(or in the worst case not getting any stat at all). So we should not balance because we balance regardless?

Straw-man is strong in this one.

What I’m saying is: getting so stats-screwed that you can’t beat the game is so unlikely a scenario that it in my opinion does not warrant special attention. Do you wear a special costume everyday just to avoid being struck by a lightning? If you’re that worried about players getting stats-screwed, you’re better off balancing around fixed growths over 0% growths. 0% growth runs require very specific strategies and micromanaging your weapon uses, both of which I believe are either beyond the capabilities of quite a lot of players and in case it’s not, they would rather not go through all that. You effectively eliminate both of these issues with preferring fixed growths over 0% growths.

As for the balancing part, I think other forms of balancing, as well as providing tools for players should be prioritized over balancing around 0% growths. Safety nets are not there just to help you in case of poor RNG, it includes units, items and weapons you can use (in case you lost some of yours). New units to replace your weak, even dead units, strong weapons and stat boosters because you didn’t manage to kill a boss or stop a thief - things like that. I maintain that balancing around 0% growths is not beneficial for the average player. Giving them aforementioned tools is. They’re there to help you beat the game even if you didn’t play perfectly moreso than “fixing” poor RNG.

A map/game becoming unbeatable is in my opinion a result of something else than the player simply getting so stats-screwed, and has more to do with consequences of poor player decisions accumulating. You didn’t level up your Lords? You got Marcus, Pent, Harken and Canas killed? You sent Athos against Uhai and Athos died? This is all on you. Do you think Mangs would have been able to beat FE6 Iron Man if FE6 was balanced around 0% growths, and he knew this? Of course one can argue Mangs is not representative of an average player, but my point lies elsewhere, namely, decision-making and use of tools/resources the game provides.

To think your game is balanced when it’s beatable with 0% growths is a narrow-sighted point of view. 0% growths isn’t the standard or most common way to play as far as I know. Your balancing measures should focus on the regular, “intended” way of playing.

I rest my case.

Considering every vanilla fe can be beaten with 0% growths…

I still think the same should be true for hacks, personally.

I think the growth of a character with a special role will be a not problem even at grows 0%.
For example, even if Dancer growth is 0%, The unit is worth it.

I think that if all units have a growth rate of 0%, it will be a problem, but if some units with special skills have a growth rate of 0%, the range of play will increase.

I created a character with a growth rate of 3%.
Their status is all 0.
Still, the unit seems to be in demand.

One is a dancer who can use a staff.

The other has a Promotion branch.
monk with all staff available and MAX magic power.
or Dragon knight with maximum movement and the ability to rescue most units.

Neither is a battle unit.
And their status is worst and the growth rate is 3%.
Still, players seem to be using them.


Utility units will always have something they can do regardless of stats, there won’t be as much need to make another unit that acts as a potential continuity unit for one that can potentially be rng screwed out of relevance if said unit does not rely heavily on stats to perform their function.

However for more combat oriented units where stats are an issue, having someone who can carry the torch from them regardless of the circumstances is very helpful for potential worst case scenarios players can run into.

I have tried FE7 and FE8, 0% grouth, hard mode. Clearance is not difficult.