A rant on Fire Emblem's strategy and morality

Your local bland idea kid’s back, even blander than ever! So, why are we here? This is another rant based on another bias of mine, which is this subjective “morality” and the overall strategy revolving normal Fire Emblem plots and how they tend to be GPS indications: “Go straight on.”

Who's the Hero Now?

Fire Emblem, except we go all our way to charge head on almost every enemy country (if they used the same strategy, it must surely work) attacking and going our way through countries like nothing.

Where we mercilessly slay multiple people without thoughts of mercy, advocate on having child fight (It’s not justified anyways if the child was already fighting for the enemy side, one being unethical doesn’t let the other also be).

Its also throroughly mentioned on most games (Bern and Grado are ravaged by war, at the hands of our own units, and mentioned on various characther endings.) And everyone is fine with this. There have never been complaints within game, no units have ever betrayed you seeing you came too far. Orson betrayed you for… his uh… personal reasons, but not because you were a damn war criminal.

Let’s not talk about how the blue army can decide the red army’s fates by just killing them.

Blandest Plot Intro ever

Remember when the eviloid country makes a frontal assault against everyone and wins? Yeah. Do I need to further elaborate on how supposedly the enemy country launches thousands and thousands of soldier to make a complete assault on everyone to defeat all kingdoms - which then gets thwarted by a lesser amount of troops that after slaying some brigands decide they’re strong enough to take on a whole empire. And attack head on, mostly, managing to ravage countries with 16 men.

Fire Emblem.

Strategy and how a Turn-Based Strategy Game has none of that on its plot

For a war, and a strategy game, it’s rarely seen that a care for supplies ever happens, beyond other issues mentioned on other threads, as combats inside castles that are easily surroundable.

There’s also rarely a combat for an important landmark, or a strategical point, as most combats are on plains. Of course, attacking on cities is somewhat important, but it often feels as if your army is just passing through instead of actually trying to take a hold of it. Just mindless off-screen ravage, which is a poor tactic.

So yeah, Fire Emblem when its based on funny evil kingdom attacking you while trying to justify you doing the very same thing is almost always poorly made.


I think the main reason here is just getting a lower age rating. Its one thing to not really mention the war exhaustion felt by the people, or only do so in passing, its another thing to go into great detail about stuff that happens in war and isn’t too pleasant to talk about. I would certainly love an FE game/hack with a darker theme though, where stuff like this is actually addressed.

A lower amount of troops thwarting the attack of a larger force is not completely unrealistic, say if you have elite troops, guerilla tactics, or the main enemy forces occupied elsewhere. Although Fire Emblem usually doesn’t have that stuff. That being said i would also love an FE story with proper Guerilla warfare, so instead of just rout, seize throne, defend, etc, your missions mainly consist of dealing as much damage as possible within a time limit, then getting out before the main forces arrive. Sabotaging supply routes, etc

Another thing that you have to consider is that the main enemy forces are possibly smaller but more elite than the nations they attack, and that they often seem to attack out of nowhere in FE. Similiarly to the Blitzkrieg into France by the Germans in WW2, the allied forces were actually bigger at the start, but they were split into multiple regions, and unprepared. In FE6 for example you have Bern’s Elite Wyvern Battalions, and later dragons, which are really strong, but can’t be everywhere at once, and occupy everything at once. In essence a defeat in detail tactic is used here. I could very well imagine that the Lycian Liberation Army actually has more soldiers than just the ones you control in FE6, but they just aren’t shown often due to gameplay reasons.

That being said i am just listing possibilities to explain this, it could very well be that the gamedevs just didn’t know all that much about warfare, or could not implement it in a manner which would make more sense, be that due to time, money, or other constrains.


Who’s the Hero Now?

About this point, there’s one time when official Fire Emblem games did something interesting with it, even if it doesn’t completely fulfilled it’s promise, and it’s with Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. In FE9, when you invade Daein, at multiple point you are despised by the local population (and you have one of the few example where one of you unit can betray you, if Jill talk to her father). In the end, you just leave the country under the hands of the biggest empire of the region without much though about what will happen… And you see the consequences of it in FE10, because this time you are playing the guerilla that want to free Daein from the cruel Military Dictatorship that have been installed by your actions in the previous game. Sadly, the game ends up never questioning Ike and his mercenaries, and give him most spotlight later in the game, but it’s a good beginning. For a romhack those kinds of questions can be very interesting to dig, to give more life to the world and give weight to the actions of the player.

Blandest Plot Intro ever + Strategy and how a Turn-Based Strategy Game has none of that on its plot

On question of Strategy and tactics, it’s important to note, like Donlot said, that asymmetrical warfare is something very common and effective, which can explain to an extend the victory of the player forces against the more stronger Big bad guy. Even if the bad guys have a lot of troops, it’s still (mostly) medieval warfare with medieval communications, and if even today modern army struggles to apply counter-insurrection strategy, it’s logical that a medieval kingdom could hardly do better to fully contain a liberation movement. It can sounds “cliché” that at the beginning the bad guys just ignore your groups, or just dismiss it as “no big deal that we can deal with later”, but if they have a lot of things to deal with it’s logical from their perspective that the actions of a little guerrilla behind their line is not a priority (until it is too late and the movement have grow to much to be crushed quickly).

We have a lot of historical examples like the slave revolts in Sicily and southern Italy during the time of Rome, the Yellow Turban rebellion at the time of the Han Dynasty, peasants war in Germany during the Reform, Peninsular War and southern Italian uprising during the time of Napoleon, partisans all around Europe during ww2, or Mao’s strategy in China during the civil war and against the Japanese invasion, etc.

Like Donlot said, to reinforce this idea of guerrilla warfare ingame (which would help reinforce the player suspension of disbelief), especially important in early and midgame, special objectives could be made to reflect how you army conducts the war. Even if it would be better to have objectives to reflect the stage of warfare you are in, it doesn’t even need to be concrete objectives on the map, but could be reflected in dialogues like “this forts holds a lot of equipments and supply, we need to storm it quickly to replenish our forces and disrupt their operations”.

On Guerrila Tactics and being Prepared

While it is indeed realistic, and has been done multiple times in history, as you also say, Fire Emblem just doesn’t run that ground - as most fights/plots are just screaming to the top of your lungs that you’re coming towards someone’s way.

Though, games focusing on less direct ways is a good thing to have (shoutouts to Iron Emblem), where, though you have some “classic” combats where you defend an important fort from a large enemy army, you also have maps where you sneak through caves, destroy supplies (as a forest burns down) and multiple things that actually give a drive to there being an actual war.

Asymmetrical warfare is common and effective - as the more points you can theoretically be attacked on, the more odds that you can get attacked and your troops are too far away to stop the attack from happening (and possibly days or weeks can pass without the enemy reaching you), it also hits back the other way: big enemy country still unleashes a thousand army to destroy all countries and achieves that 'til it gets to your land, where the fight-back begins.

Tellius and Jill

Jill’s a characther that goes through a nice characther arc and has the turncoat (albeit conditional) of her resolve turning to protect who she wants, this case turning out to be her father. That’s, in my opinion, a great meet-up of internal conflicts, as not many people would be able to handle fighting their own family to death (Shon still doesn’t count).

On Tellius’ attempt of having the previous ravage hit back at you - although the angry villagers are a touch (Iron Emblem did that too, though it slowly faded away on the villages you “saved” from brigands) that I like, as it feels like there’s actually a consequence for your actions (which most FE games kind of lack, or have random ones applied just for it) - it still falls flat as you said due to Ike existing.


it still falls flat as you said due to Ike existing

Yeah, when it come to FE10, Ike ruins everything that was build up before. With the big different of treatment between Micaiah/Elincia and Ike, I wonder if it was due to constraint of time or if it was a later marketing choice to focus everything in the second part of the game on him without reflecting of his past actions.

big enemy country still unleashes a thousand army to destroy all countries and achieves that 'til it gets to your land, where the fight-back begins.

Tbf, in most Fire Emblem games the country of the main character tends to be the first one to fall, which explain why it would be the first one to experience behind the line fight-back. But you raise an important issue: it’s important to feel that your groups isn’t the only one fighting (at all levels) against the big bad guy