Archers: And How To Make Them Worth Using

Wanted to share this here too in case people searched for things like

“how I balance archers?”
“how do I make archers or bows good?”

Curious if there’s anything else y’all would consider adding that I missed here. Apologies for the wonky sound levels, video editing is not my strong suit and it came out way louded in the mp4 than it did during testing.

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I just make their stats not suck and give bows 2-3 range to fix the archer problem. I even give some bows 1 range so they have a close range retaliation option.

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God, Dan, your video quality is so amazing. Very well thought out video and executed wonderfully!

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That fixes their viability but not necessarily how good they are in relation to other classes/weapon types. The main issue with bows/archers in most FE games is that they specialise in avoiding counter attacks but if taking a counter attack for most units is of little consequence then you can see why bows/archers become an inferior option to other classes, as their niche ceases to exist.

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I’d say build the game around player phase so archers have more time to be useful. Make the enemies physically strong to incentivize the player to take them out and avoid counters. Then the extra range would be a lot more important.

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People have praised prepromote Snipers such as Jeorge, Klain, Louise, and Innes, so I would argue Archers just suck to raise from level 1 when all they can do is chip at the enemy. In fact if you start a new game on Eliwood Hard Mode you’ll notice everyone can at minimum 2HKO the bandits in this chapter…except Rebecca, and that’s a huge strike against her. I say they just need to make a good first impression.

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This is the first step towards solving a lot of balance issues in GBAFE.

just make archers like Echoes. They were sick in that game. No counter actions doesn’t mean a whole lot when you compare it with 5 attack rang and no enemy counter.

Like make them actually a ranged unit and let them gain exp even when the enemy initiates combat (like Thracia exp gain).

Also depending on the game, effectiveness against fliers and dragons can go a long way.

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The inequality between Archers and Snipers, particularly in FE6, mostly arises from Archers having low base stats I’d say. They have a slow start and probably won’t be able to surpass the Nomads or prepromoted bow users in the game at the same level outside of a few small stats, which doesn’t really make up for the cost of investment you put into them.

F Nomads > M Nomads > Archer/ess

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imo if archers stay locked to 2 range they should have stats similar to mercenaries . if you look at some of the better archers in the series they have a bent towards skill and speed, but enough str and def to set them apart from mages. While mages tend more towards being a glass cannon, I think archers should have a little bit more durability as more bulky support unit (when compared with mages and healers.). Honestly I think nomads should have slightly more fragile stats than foot archers, but this all has to do with the balance of the game.

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Reviewing this in 2020, in conjunction with some realism discussion post, I realized that typical FE archers are just poorly represented in the first place. I suggest adjusting archer’s range to 2-whatever equaled to base infantry movement, say, 4. This simple change will also add layers to your team deployment and thus more interesting game play. Archers will become more viable by having way better firing opportunities and safer locations. I also tend to increase mage range to be just slightly less than archers to balance and diversify them.

Another approach is buffing flyers. Give them an advantage against ground melee, which they should have had, will automatically create a solid demand for archers when combined with limited availability of your own fliers.

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I don’t really agree with either of these fixes, personally. Range is an extremely powerful tool, and granting archers so much liberty with it makes them not only a bit too powerful, but also very unfun both to play as and against. This would mean that there is no way to deal with archers during enemy phase unless you have an archer yourself, since nobody else can retaliate at all.

The proposition to buff fliers to make archers better creates another bigger problem. Fliers are already very good due to their ability to fly alone, so making them more powerful than infantry doesn’t necessarily make archers better (only increases demand for having them on your team), it only makes infantry units more obsolete.

Imo the right approach to making a usable archer depends on making their player phase utility very clear; the issue with that is that the archer’s utility too often is just to “chip” by design, which is something every other unit can do better, since if you can kill you can also chip. The ability to chip is only useful when the enemies hit hard and are accurate, therefore you don’t want them hitting your melee units in retaliation on player phase. In that case, no counters and precise/reliable attacks is a good incentive to taking an archer with you, but hardly is an FE game player phase focused like that - therefore, perhaps archers could be fixed by giving them more interesting utility and roles; just differentiate archers from each other. Perhaps you could give the player an archer that has built in close counter and armor-knight like stats for a tanky 1-2 range unit, another has great speed and could make good use of effective weaponry (this is something I believe the bow line can use. All bows are effective against fliers, but that’s it, no other special effects most of the time. A good buff to archers can just be a more diverse and versatile weapon line to play with), another could instead opt to become more of a specialist and have generally low stats but gain a flying mount on promotion.

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4 range is not a lot, especially in gba maps where a cliff/wall takes up one unpassable tile. being at a same range as throwing weapons also makes absolutely no sense and would really hurt the uniqueness of a ranged unit. Recall archer in echoes and 3h. In echoes archers don’t really become ridiculous until some 7 range promotions came in. Same can be said with 3h too. In fact archers with curved shot is an import chipping option under higher difficulty. it is also when brainlessly given additional range enemy archers become extremely annoying to play against. These being said, limiting doubles from archers is a good way to balance out their range advantage. The change will set archers to be extremely strength and skill focused, which is not only unique but also realistic as they should avoid face to face combat entirely. It will also help if we increase the cost of using archers by making bows more expensive and less durable just like what combat art do in echoes and 3h. personally i would argue speedy archer is a confusing design, and speed in fe universe is seriously over emphasized. Making archers hit consistently would also make armor units worth using again.

upon promotion archers can further specialize in either chipping or sniping, with the former given additional attack turns and poison and the latter given ability to trade speed for strength and skill as well as to pass all tiles with 1 movement. neither promotions are types that players can spam with but are good to have as specialists. In both cases, they would need protection from teammates or landscape.

the idea behind flyers and this fix as a whole is adding more variance across units and immersion in fe. flyers are indeed overpowered for their mobility, but that is not the problem, but a feature. What is the problem is that they can be spammed with to win almost any map. Limiting their availability seem like the way to go for two reasons. First is that punishing stats is very frustrating to play with and doesnt really prevent people from using them; it just encourages grinding. Second is that the rest of FE design do not reflect the existence of such unit. The most problematic one being the tradition castles and forts that have no respect for flyers whatsoever. Any army of flyer can easily tear down the defense or ignore the hold entirely. this wouldnt be possible to rationalize without huge changes to the design but can be explained if flyers are indeed elites squads that are extremely expensive to build. The buff is to reflect the setting.

I personally think that archers should have 2-3 range per default,1-2 range with short bow and 2-4 range with long bow. Considering how important arrows are in a world without firearms, archers should have a lot of versitility. Just that echoes was a bit boring by just making them literally snipe down enemies from a mile away.(And that is talking about the archerclass, when they are not broken bowknights yet.)

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Yeah, I thought giving bows 2-3 range is a good idea, but then all stationary bosses that are not in the archer class could be cheesed by the player. A possible solution I’m considering is giving thrones and gates more defense to disincentivize this, or just give the bosses more defense across the board. Alternatively, the tougher bosses could have that skill that allows them to counterattack at any range. Or give them 1-3 range weapons. Thoughts?

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Actually, I think 2-3 range against stationary bosses is balanced. Even if they can’t counter you, if you attack using only that 2-3 longbow archer it’s going to take you ages to kill that boss, since the throne already grants them a lot of regen. That said, if every archer becomes 2-3 regardless of weapon, then it would probably be a good idea to increase throne regen as well.

global +10 hit.

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I don’t think that’s the end of the world but that’s why I think longbows as items are better than global 2-3.

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Managing Longbow uses is quite interesting in FE6 I feel. Global 2-3 doesn’t put any pressure on you to consider when and when not to go for the extra range unless there’s some kind of range scaling Hit debuff like in 3H. Having that pressure to analyse the situation and consider whether it’s worth it in the long run to expend a use for extra range that could have widespread useful applications adds extra strategic depth to the game and was something I had to seriously consider in FE6 with how few Longbow uses in total it provides for you.

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