Effortposts Around Units We Like (From Custom Campaigns)

Sister Thread: Effortposts Around Chapters We Like

I’m calling this a ‘collection of essays’, because that’s the sort of phrasing I need to get used to if I’m ever to get a grant from the Territory arts department.

Anyone is welcome to contribute. Actually, it’s going to be a pretty short series if it is just let up to me. I just want to write about units from custom campaigns that I really enjoy using, and I think other people should too, hopefully helping us all design novel units. This is primarily with gameplay in mind, but of course, the ludonarrative (another one of those arts grant words, you see) is part of a concern. My favourite Do5 unit is in large part because basically every boss in the late midgame knows her and battle-quotes with her. And indeed if you’re primarily talking about story, feel free, just make sure you use spoiler tags scrupulously. And, yes, by all means: make as many effortposts as you feel you have effort for. I don’t really intend to police this. The harshest I’m possibly going to be would be ‘not adding something to the table of contents’, and even then I can’t really see that happening.

Make big effort-posts. Gush. For all our sakes.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Esfir (Vision Quest) by Parrhesia
  2. Alice (Last Royal) by WaywardTroper
  3. Carson (Deity Device) by WaywardTroper
  4. Tower (Cerulean Crescent) by Taylor
  5. Naia (Vision Quest) by Vulgard
  6. Sam (TMGC) by BobbyAsaka
  7. Garath (Dream of Five 2012) by Pandan
  8. Jackson (Queen’s Sword) by SirNicee
  9. Stefan (TMGC) & Marlow (Cerulean Crescent) by AlexMPG
  10. Benji (Journeys: Gaiden) by Lowres
  11. Damien (TMGC) by Goldblitz
  12. Teodor (An Unexpected Caller) by Retina
  13. Ernst (OCA) & Callahan (Blessed Heart) by KrashBoomBang
  14. Boleslav (OCA) by JiroPaiPai
  15. Parrhesia (Dies Emblem) by Rivian
  16. Haban (Shackled Power) by Bloble
  17. Kelik (Last Promise) by WaywardTroper
  18. Sigrid (Vision Quest) by Parrhesia
  19. Shaun & Bradley (Four Kings) by SubwayBossEmmett
  20. Cromar (Bells of Byelen) by ArcherBias
  21. Lajos (Vision Quest) by BladerDJ
  22. Evelia (Absolution by ZessDynamite) by RandomWizard
  23. Addington (TMGC) by DrGreen
  24. Linda (Requiem) by KrashBoomBang
  25. Ava (Four Kings) by Vulgard
  26. Shorn (Dark Amulet) by FrisoLaxod
  27. Clint (Shackled Power) by Catball
  28. Clio (Drums of War) by Luminescent Blade
  29. Gecko (Cerulean Crescent) by Vulgard
  30. Almanac (Server 72) by Darkiway
  31. Samto (COT Burger) by SubwayBossEmmett
  32. Lex (Sun God’s Wrath) by Yasako
  33. Eileen (Shackled Power) by OverZealous
  34. Asch (The Last Promise) by Roze

Esfir (Vision Quest)

The highest praise I can lavish on Esfir is that I directly made my campaign worse because of her.

I’ve never been a theft guy. I’ve never been an FE5 guy. I don’t tear my hair out if I can’t loot everything and I’ll only deploy multiple thieves begrudgingly, if the flow seems to demand it. And, like pegasus knights, my general thoughts on them are that I acknowledge their utility but I’ll only begrudgingly bring them, and probably won’t train the early one who traditionally can’t fight for shit.

For the three people reading who haven’t played Vision Quest, Esfir is a high-level thief who arrives in the earlygame as comfortably your highest-level early unit. I went to look up her stats but can’t remember where the big spreadsheet with all the stats is. Suffice to say she has roughly the stat profile you’d expect of a thief, in both bases and growths, but being overlevelled ensures she’s a strong, reliable murderer in the early stages.

So my initial thought when I saw the VQ opening party was: well, at least she’s higher-level. I’ve trained Matthew before. I’ve trained Colm. I’ve attempted to be bothered to train Lifis. It’s not my idea of a good time. This isn’t going to delve into some deep-dive of 'the Ruby Sword was masterfully calculated to get ORKOs on such and such a common enemy type, I couldn’t even be bothered to look up her stats. But as the game went on, she slowly became, in my mind, my MOTM over the course of the game.

Critically, while her stats will never be anything special - she’s probably overlevelled for the bases she has, and her growths are unremarkable - several peculiarities of VQ work in her favour. First, rogues can steal unequipped weapons. In practice, this ends up being a lot of Physic staves, but consider: that’s a lot of Physic staves. Second, the game lavishes you with statboosters. Third, the game has a fuckton of stealables, such that you’re encouraged to bring a thief on basically every map. Other thieves consist of a basically slightly worse backup Esfir in a few chapters, and a rogue a few chapters after that. Many of those stealables are, in fact, other statboosters.

Optimal Play would suggest using those statboosters on other units, and dropping Esfir for that rogue when he rocks up, but if you don’t do this - encouraged by the fact that Esfir’s a significant plot character, and a likable one at that, with a good design - it creates a pleasant feeling of a self-fuelled killing machine. Even with that, she’ll likely never be a truly strong endgame fighter. But she can keep up, and does pull her weight. Unambiguously strong at the start and with Things that she could do Best right up to the very end - and with VQ’s extremely generous late deploy caps, she stuck around even as loot ceased to matter in any meaningful way - she was the first name on the teamsheet, chapter after chapter.

How did it make my campaign worse? So flush with Esfir-love was I that immediately set about adding a bunch of Theft to DoW. This, um. This turns out to be the kind of thing you have to build the game around, not just bolt on late in the process because you liked how a certain game played. Part of it is that there still weren’t really enough to ever justify wanting to bring a thief. A statbooster is, ultimately, just the difference between a bad and a good level, and most of your units are getting a lot of both over the years. Is a single measly Talisman really worth bringing a thief to an outdoor map? And Pavel/Kalevi/Ramond all feel like taxes, in a way that Esfir, as she could still contribute well in a fight (with love), and reliably had plenty of stuff to steal, does not. Eventually, most of these changes were reverted. They work in VQ; but VQ is not DoW, and Esfir is not Pavel.

We can learn a lot, I think. First up: we’ve all experienced trying to get kills with early thieves (and pegasus knights), units we can easily find the objective utility in, and found it be like pulling teeth. Overlevelling the first examples of these classes can keep their stat profiles as expected and keep them in check long-term, while not making them complete chores to train (for another example, see Helje DoW, who I arrived at before playing VQ). Second off, context really matters. Esfir, in many hacks, would just be a glorified myrmidon.

My experience of Vision Quest at its best was like taking an empire down into a back alley and mugging it, and that’s supported by the themes of the text. Esfir is the perfect encapsulation of that feeling, and remains, to me, the gold standard of thieves across the series.

34 Likes

Its tough to not just rant forever about units I love, especially since the experience can be very subjective (growths, some personalities yucking others yums, etc)

I’ll start with a personal favorite from a solid hack with a great cast - The Last Royal, with my pick being Alice the Swordmaster

What stuck with me was how mechanically compelling she was to use. Like most custom games, you start with a sword-lord, and quickly get a sword wielding magical-social knight, so a sword locked infantry unit is a bit of a tough sell, even more so since your jaigen is more of a Seth who is also a foot-locked unit good with swords and lances, and every boss in the game is a pre-promote…

Basically, there is a lot stacked against fielding a growth oriented, 6 move locked girl who is a dead ringer for a certain FE4 thunder mage, but giving her a chance is immensely rewarding and leads to a narrative that evolves mechanically and is enhanced by using her consistently.

Basically, in addition to the usual zero to hero, green numbers arc that most investment units get, at several opportunities, there are battle talks and bosses she is encouraged to participate in, either through familiarity with the setting and conflicts between major characters/regions, or just reading the call outs from other units, including a pretty clearly hinted comment by Alice herself she wants to make amends with her estranged sister (who, funnily enough, also resembles an FE 4 thunder mage, but I digress). You’re rewards for putting in the footwork to improve her skills enough where her sister, an absurdly skilled and strong swordmaster who is herself a one-woman army feared across the land? Unlocking increasingly potent skills to make her an Astra-critting player phase monster who picks up her Sister’s sword after a tense, grief fueled duel, turning her into a 1-2 monster that challenges several intentionally overpowered units as one of the best in the game

I don’t use many stat-inflation games or skill heavy games as references as much when attempting my own iterations on a rom hack, but the feedback and rewarding experience Alice brought to the table is something that still sticks with me, and as one of several highlights from a handful of runs through the Last Royal

10 Likes

Also, holy crap, I don’t know how much rhetoric has been devoted to him yet, but there needs to be, like, a thesis on Carson from Deity Device

Basically everything about this character was clearly carefully crafted from top to bottom that by the end of the game, you want a character who started as an anti-hero, if not outright villainous, to live happily with his partner, the Fire Emblem, their adopted magical construct daughter, and to overthrow a generations long regime with the power of the Wind God Sety for a day.

I have to be careful not to spoil (If you can find a way to play Deity Device, please do it; I respect that the author took down the rom for creative and personal reasons, so I won’t go against their wishes and post links or anything, but play it yourself, look up a playthrough, just find a way to experience it if at all possible, its beautiful its insane, and somehow it required to discs to play, basically) but lets breakdown how and why Carson is just so insane and amazing and handcrafted to perfection:

-To start, the story revolves around several major bloodlines that are basically the fonts for magic in the current setting, seemingly vessels for spirits or the will of the gods (to the point every major casting unit you get in the first half just has infinite mana, thanks to echoes style magic progression). Carson, however, does not. He has zero mana, no magical talent whatso ever. He has, for all intents and purposes, a magic growth of 10%, and a wind tome he can use 60 times total he had to figure out how to research and craft himself in spite of a system and top to bottom hierarchy that says he can’t, and he is a second class citizen because of this; You feel this sting even more personally after your lord is one of the most mana-gifted mages of the current era, a woman with such potent bloodlines and blessings from spirits, she can slam multiple meteors per deployment by the end of her story

-Because of this insanely flawed system where blood and magic are the key to everything, Carson did many, many things, including working on artifical humans, artificial mana, selective breeding to create stronger mages, and many other things that would make him, frankly, good material to be the final boss of most fire emblem tales. He’s only the word “Quintessence” away from basically being a small, sassy, Nergal when you, the player, step into his shoes

-So, going from the absolute highs of being a vessel of flame incarnate to an actual street orphan who stole fire from the gods to warm the rest of the world, desperate to keep the closest thing he has to a sister from falling apart at the seams being a flawed mana construct, who is keenly aware she is a draining font of mana like a bucket with holes in it, it doesn’t take more then a chapter to turn from hating our wind-mage prodigy to empathizing and seeing just how bad it is from the outside looking in

-And then, Carson finds not just love, but friendship, purpose, and a young, naive yin to balance his bitter jaded yang, another young man who has every reason to hate Carson, instead grows in confidence and strength from our wise-assed commoner genius. And Carson himself begins to loosen up, some of that good natured charm and wide-eyed belief feeding back into him, to the point he goes through his own character arc and sees the nobles who he considered nothing more then privledged, sneering bigots and tyrants as similair victims to the system

-god, and its just so, so perfect. He gets given a ring, a vow, and steps up to be absolutely buck wild as a unit. Like, Carson will have, I’m going to generously estimate 12 to 14 magic as a 20/20 promoted sage… but he will have 40 speed, the power of forsetti, galeforce, and can snipe comfortably at 4 range… and he will have earned that status with words, and blood, and grief, and tears, and just so much heart renching hardship, and he will still refuse to believe he can be loved, that he is worthy of love, even as the man willing to give him everything, to share mana, pain, love, life, everything, continues to offer his hand and forgive Carson, lift him up, and you will be there too, willing to give Carson a second chance for all the harm he’s done, you will have gotten to that point with him, whether just because how much you need and enjoy using him as the most insanely OP wind sage who can give Llewyn and Ced a run for their money, or just from how amazing his arc and story are, seeing both sides of his story and seeing him at his worst, only to rise to his best

13 Likes

Tower (Cerulean Coast)

What really attracts me about Tower as a whole is his overall performance in the story and as a unit. At the beginning of the game he’s your Jagen, good bases, decent growths etc, but the thing is, he can’t miss. This is the most literally and narratively terms stating it since his ability is really strong, having enemies adjacent to him have a 0% chance to dodge is actually crazy.

This works well with the team and for Tower since his primary use of weaponry is axes! He hits like a truck, can’t miss, and supports units by just standning there! I love this guy on the field, he just tears a hole through enemies and allows other units to help sweep in and clear a majority of them out. If he can’t do that, then he could just support from the sidelines and kill some enemies there. Of course as all jagens tend to do, he gets outshined by units with better growths and eventually falls behind statwise. Yet, that doesn’t stop him! He’s a Axe user with good base strength and can’t miss. He’s a big wall of pure man meat that you could bring to utterly crush your enemies!

Storywise, I really like how he’s expanded upon and not left out. At first he’s framed as your typical “Old Man” Archetype. Doesn’t trust highly advanced relics, isn’t willing to try new things for the possible dangers it could bring, that sort of thing. Despite this defecet that could ruin most characters, it doesn’t with Tower.

He’s friendly with most of his associates, can be surprisingly optimistic when people need it, and he’d never turn his back on those close to him. Of course he has his own principals that collide with others, but he doesn’t demean them for thinking that way, unless it’s really darn violent, if they intend to kill him, or if they’re really cult like. He’s religious, but not like “Cultish” and all that.

His character is really grounded, never really changing that much and only finds new interactions with the people he knows and people he will meet. This is both fun to watch and depressing to see when certain character clash with his own principals. He’s a reasonable guy, but if he knows someone’s trying to use some super advanced doohicky, he WILL stop them. Doesn’t matter if they are friend or foe, there is no line he wouldn’t cross to prevent it from happening. He’s seen the horrors of what those things could do and he doesn’t want the same mistake to happen twice.

It’s always a treat to see him interact with people that way, his fixed point of view arguing with other’s. It’s so easy to just think “Yeah he’s old” and he doesn’t want to see this advanced stuff being used, yet all the points he makes do make sense. I’m being purposely vague about this “Advanced Stuff” since its a big deal in the story and anyone who reads this should play Cerulean Coast, do it now! Back to Tower, he’s just a fun character to see in the narrative, be it his role it in a expierenced old man with a caring heart deep inside that chest of his (maybe).

Tower is not the best unit, but he sure is a fun one. I don’t think I’d have as much fun as do in Cerulean Coast without Tower. He might’ve screwed me over on some maps, but you win with your favorites and Tower is way up there for me.

10 Likes

If we’re starting with VQ, I might as well begin with my own VQ contender, that being Naia. Specifically, on Hard Mode.

Naia is the first Myrmidon you get in VQ, joining in Chapter 2-2. Right away, she can contribute in her joining chapter – her Wing Clipper lets her help deal with the enemy fliers, and her Shamshir lets her one-round enemies. A romhack unit being able to contribute in her joining chapter is not a novel concept, though; a lot of romhackers let new recruits shine when they join, so this is not the reason I like Naia.

The reason I like Naia is that the specifics of VQ Hard Mode let her really shine, in my opinion. Enemies are stronger across the board, and that strength is added through personal bases, meaning that they are all stronger in the same stats, regardless of the enemy type. Most notable, at least to me, is the fact VQHM enemies are fast. Really fast. They hit 20 Speed unpromoted by the end of Part 2, and doubling everything in Part 4 requires capped or almost capped Speed in a fast class.

Well, enter Naia. Naia is one of the few genuine Speed demons in VQ, and while on Normal Mode you may not feel the significance of that, you really do on HM. Units that can double for most of the game are rare in HM conditions, and Naia is one of those units. 17 base Speed is pretty damn high, but she also has a 55% growth and a free +3 from her promotion, so you would have to be really unlucky for Naia to not be fast. And the thing is, her being able to double is great, because she’s in a class with crit weapon access (like Shamshir and Wo Dao, both of which you obtain in Part 2), and she will usually one-round if she crits. 13 base Strength is not bad, and she gets a free +2 from her promotion.

It’s not just “doubles and one-rounds if she crits” that makes Naia epic, however. Naia becomes truly epic when you consider the fact VQ gives you really good swords. Magic swords like Flame Sword and Ice Sword are a particular standout with Naia, because even though they are heavy enough to weigh her down, she is often fast enough to double with them anyway, and their 1-2 Range, as well as targeting of Resistance, lets Naia deal significantly more damage with a lot more flexibility in terms of positioning. Also, there are several swords that only Myrmidons / Swordmasters / Storch can use, and they are pretty damn good; there’s the Ma Dao, for example, which is a cavalry-effective reaver, and which Naia can use to easily ORKO cavalry, even very bulky promoted cavalry like Paladins. Then you have the Long Dao, which is the “anti-wyvern reaver” variant, and she can also use stuff like the Ruby Sword well (doubles WTA effects) to battle axe users at no risk to herself.

Naia just has a lot of good weapons she can use well, she has the Speed to double with them, and her high hitrates + solid critrates let her one-round even the bulky VQHM enemies (they don’t necessarily have very high Defense, but they do have substantial HP, and they are hard to double). Naia’s bulk isn’t even bad; she may be a Myrmidon, but I believe her base level bulk is enough to survive Part 4 enemies, and it only gets better with time (her Defense growth is awful, but her HP growth is good enough, and 5 HP / 2 Def / 3 Res from promotion is not to be scoffed at). Not to mention the high Avoid she has, which is a given. And of course, Naia is also extremely accurate thanks to using swords and having high Skill, which is a good trait to have. Naia also happens to naturally benefit from the game having a lot of repositioning tools such as Shove on infantry units and Swap/Reposition on some mounted units, which you can use to help her move around (this doesn’t apply to just Naia, but it does mean it’s easier to put her in the right place at the right time).

Basically, on VQHM, Naia is the closest thing in the hack to FE6HM Rutger, in the sense that she’s one of your only units who can reasonably double most, if not all enemies, for most of the game. And that, coupled with VQ offering you a lot of good swords to work with (including myrmlock swords), is awesome. VQHM enemies are also very hard to one-round, and Naia with her +15 Crit (starting from level 5 promoted) and constant doubling, as well as high hitrates, has a higher chance to ORKO things than most of your other units (her primary competition in that regard comes from axe users, and those don’t have the same natural doubling prospects).

I should add that I didn’t think much of Naia when I played on NM, but I definitely found her surprisingly awesome on HM, because I think the difficulty increase gives her a niche few other units can match.

10 Likes

​​Fire Emblem is a game about making decisions, and one of the most prevalent of those is picking out who kills whom. It’s through these decisions that heroes of a given playthrough emerge—whether it’s through coming in clutch with a much-needed hit / crit, or killing a story-important boss, or contributing meaningfully to the playthrough in some other form. I’ve said this before, but it’s because of this that I really think FE is ultimately a story simulator at its core. With every decision that a player makes, they add another sentence to the war story that they’re writing.

This story-generation factor, in my opinion, is an irreplaceable part of what makes a Fire Emblem unit interesting to use—it is the beating heart of what makes this game’s mechanics fun for me. If I feel like using a unit will contribute meaningfully to the quality of the story that my playthrough is penning, it will make every decision that involves them gripping and engaging for me regardless of their actual stats, gimmicks, or gameplay traits.

As a result of this, units who have a lot of room to grow narratively often find themselves at center stage of my playthroughs. In vanilla, I find this factor often comes out vividly with characters who are framed as nobodies or underdogs. Seeing a character who’s been beaten down by those around them and has never truly gotten their chance to shine, and giving them that chance through gameplay, is such a surefire way to achieve this effect that it may as well be cheating.

But why stop there? Raw gameplay alone without any script support isn’t the only way to handle this… nor is it the most effective, in my opinion. For a slightly different approach, look no further than Sam from TMGC.

She’s an early-game archer—a fresh recruit who barely knows how to shoot at all despite coming from a family of esteemed archers. She’s the youngest daughter of a minor house, overlooked by most everyone both within and outside her family. She doesn’t think she’s set out for this war business at all, and she doesn’t expect herself to contribute in the slightest. And while she’s not horrible when she joins you, her performance is still pretty underwhelming compared to most of your other recruits at the time.

But as the journey continues, Sam slowly yet surely finds confidence in herself. She gets better at acknowledging her strengths, rather than doubting herself at every turn. She confronts and overcomes her many personal fears—darkness, brutish-looking people, you name it. She gradually finds ways to help her companions and pull her weight in the army. It’s a simple yet heartwarming story arc.

Now think about how much more weight all of those story developments carry if the player also invested in her gameplay, too.

Suddenly all of your prior gameplay decisions tie in directly with her narrative growth. Did you take out a key enemy with her, one which would’ve killed one of your units on enemy phase had she not been there? In doing so, you allowed her to prove her own competence and value through gameplay… and you gave her even more of a reason to acknowledge her skills and talents like she does in the dialogue. Did she solo a major boss for you, like the dragon in Chapter 12? Then it makes perfect sense why she’s not afraid of the dark or bandits or isolation anymore; stuff like that is nothing to her when she took on a general, or an entire dragon, or some other threat three times her size… and came out on top in the end.

As a whole, Sam is a character whose personal story is reinforced rather thoroughly by the Fire Emblem SRPG system of gameplay, and that’s the meat of what makes units like her so much fun to play with. I’ve seen a handful of characters who excel at creating effects like this in hacks, but if I had to compare her to a vanilla character, it would probably be Arden from Genealogy: a character who, if given the chance by the player, actually acknowledges how far they’ve come within the environment of that playthrough’s story. And Sam’s personal arc, like Arden’s, is significantly enhanced by the time and effort that the player puts into giving her a chance and making her great.

The hidden text on the Passacaglia says it more concisely than I could: you are the path along which she has come so far. You are the one who wrote Sam’s story. You went out of your way to guide her to her true potential, and the story rewards you appropriately for it.

11 Likes

Just a small addendum to this – if you promote Sam (which means you must have been using her long-term, as she joins early on at a low base level), you might notice that her promoted portrait has her smiling. This is not the case for her unpromoted portrait (the one you showed in your post).

It’s subtle, but really cool. It reflects the idea that by giving Sam a chance and using her, you’ve granted her confidence and made her feel useful. And perhaps more importantly, you’ve made her feel like she belonged somewhere and wasn’t alone.

10 Likes

Garath (Dream of Five)

image
Garath’s review of this post, (2012 colorized)

Garath is a warrior available at the start of Dream of Five. He is one of my favorite hack units and embodies a lot of the traits that make for a good Jeigan.

I’m generally not one for “Fire Emblem archetypes”. I think a lot of them are, frankly, stupid – vague callbacks to something Kaga did in 1990 that boils down to “the first male mage in your party” or “a pair of axe fighters you’ll bench at first opportunity.” The Jeigan, or the overleveled crutch unit that helps you get through the early part of the game, is the only archetype that really means anything tangible, as it is a gameplay role that transcends unit class and other surface level factors. It’s about relative power and flexibility during the most constrained part of most campaigns: the start.

What makes Garath stand out among units that fit this archetype is that he executes the core role well.

1) Bulk. Garath has enough HP and defense to take a few hits. Early on when most of your dudes are squishy, Garath is there to sponge hits. What makes him even better at this is that he doesn’t need to trade off all of his items to “meatshield” for you – you can simply equip him with a bow and he’ll draw fire on EP. This is great for slowing down the pace and avoiding taking hits on units who require immediate healing after combat. He generally has enough bulk to effectively do this for a long time, basically the duration of the FE7 campaign, at least (I haven’t played FE8 version yet sorry)

2) The strength to do “big chip”. Beyond bulk, Garath has big strength at base. Strength is a fun stat because it’s easiest to modify with different weapons. Garath has a few options early on for dealing different kinds of chip damage. He gets little EXP from kills, so using him to giftwrap for Kolbane, Renair and other lower level units is ideal. Garath has the right amount of strength to do big damage without the speed to double. He can do this at range with bows or up close with axes. In a game as oppressively unfair as FE7 Do5, any opportunity to level the units you have is appreciated, and Garath makes this process a lot easier without accidentally stealing kills himself with crits or being too strong to leave units ready made for others to take EXP from.

3) Bows are the best jeigan weapon. Garath is the unit that convinced me bows are the best weapon for the Jeigan class. You probably picked up on this by reading the above, but Garath’s bows serve two purposes: 1) ranged chip that prevents him from eating a counter and leaving room for another unit to step in and get the kill, and 2) something for him to equip on the frontline to let him sponge hits for you. What’s more, is that as Garath’s role as your central combat unit starts to fade with the other units catching up, bows still provide Garath a niche versus fliers, making him deployable past the point where other units like this would’ve been benched. The Jeigan arc of “most important unit in your army” to “niche, utility unit” in the mid-late game can be tough to execute, and Garath does this pretty well. Powerful without being centralizing, reliable in different ways throughout the course of the game.

In short, Garath’s class (warrior) and stat spread make him well-suited for the, in my mind, idealized role of a Jeigan. We don’t need to cover story here (just play 8Ax), but if you’re struggling to figure out what a good Jeigan unit looks like, you should play Dream of Five.

(I rushed this so apologies if incoherent)

13 Likes

Garath is even cooler in FE8 Do5 because

  1. Greatbow is 2-3 range and there are a lot of 3 range threats. Access to 3 range in the earlygame which only Amelia and eventually Crowe have is useful, and he can oneshot certain enemies with Greatbow. Also, it provides greater chip flexibility if you continue to use him.

  2. His growths are humongous (but not humongous enough to be competitive with 20/X promoted units) and he benefits from early bosskill exp, which essentially gives him a road to midgame/lategame viability.

  3. He uses the hackbox exceed patch so he can be w i d e, the most important one by far.

7 Likes

Jackson (Queen’s Sword)

On one hand, effort is scary. On the other, I should know a thing or two about rambling about one thing and one thing only for hours on end. So you know what, sure, I have thoughts. Warning, most of this is about the process of discovering and recruiting him, but I think the story’s interesting enough on its own even if the unit himself doesn’t have much depth as a character. Specifically, it’s about Queen’s Sword’s very own Jackson.

EDIT: Remembered you can hide details. Enjoy your chapter select now.

What is Queen's Sword's Deal?

Fire Emblem: Queen’s Sword is a weird, gimmicky, silly hack full of equally silly units. Balance is a suggestion, and stats scale so high it often leads to you creating stupid overpowered units to deal with the enemy’s stupid overpowered units. Everything taking place in Elibe is another thing.

I could talk about any number of units here that I like. I could talk about Ashley, the archer who gives all of your units +1 Mov at the start of the map if he holds a certain item. I could talk about Alex, the kinda meh axe fighter whose saving grace is his leadership star and Rightful King in a game with proc skills. I could even talk about his frail, trainee son Max, the kid with 10 HP and 0 HP growth but insane defensive growths that make him a midgame tank. But I have something much, much sillier in mind.

It’s the end of Chapter 16. You’re in the midst of a campaign against the Djute because you picked the A route and that’s the only one that was ever finished. You kill the boss, you move onto the next chapter and… things seem fine. Nothing is amiss, the early game Mongolian nomads (yes, again, still weird) are here and brainwashed and sparing them nets you a short Gaiden chapter. Everything seems normal, and you proceed through the game and eventually beat it as if nothing happened.

Until you dig into Builder. Checking the unit list, you see something: A few units you never got. Sure, some of them are from the unfinished B-route such as a dancer or Najaran from the Culdcept manga. There’s a Hero with unfinished unit data, sure, but we’re not talking about him. This is about someone further up, buried in with the A-route roster.

Who is Jackson?

His name is Jackson. He’s a Ghost (a flying class) with great bases, high growths, the Pass skill and A-ranks in all offensive magic. His class promotes to Lich, which only amplifies the broken nature of this unit by giving him A staves and Renewal. Builder lists him as Level 1, but even if he were higher he would still likely be far and away the best magic user of the second half. He’s not a unit I’d use super regularly, I tend not to use units who are insanely broken, but Queen’s Sword just has an energy to it, a “fuck it, we ball” kind of vibe that makes you just go with the crazy, take the unit that lets you trade in your early game thief for Leif from Thracia and roll with the punches.

I remember discussing him in a server that shall not be named and I have since left; I and a few others were really curious, just how are you supposed to recruit this man? How do we break this game even more than it already has been. I cracked it open in Builder, checking chapter after chapter. Eventually, I figured out he joins at the beginning of Chapter 17 (at level 15 instead of level 1, but still perfectly good for that level) under very specific circumstances. Huh, I remembered playing that and nothing happened. Guess I had to figure out what those circumstances were.

Finding Jackson

After learning that everything is 16 bit (0x0 to 0x0F, 0x10 to 0x1F and so on), I was eventually able to figure out that the game was actually checking for the level of the lord, Arus. Specifically, it was looking for a level of 18 or higher. Well that was curious, I always made sure Arus was a high level at this point, what happened to get us to this point?

And then I stopped to think of what Arus’s situation at this point in the game was. He was usually promoted in the single digits. Ah, there we go. It seemed that promoting Arus reset the level counter when it came to checking for his level, meaning anyone who promoted and didn’t invest insane levels of favoritism into him to get him to level 18 promoted by that point couldn’t get him. Meaning the best way forward was to simply not promote him, despite the fact that you got his promotion item back in Chapter 11.

So now we know what to do. Leave Arus unpromoted but high level, and just leave him that way for six maps. Dragging an unpromoted Lord around, this really is an Elibe game now. But yeah, do this and at the start of Chapter 17, you get a brand new cutscene. Jackson’s ghost arrives and declares “Even though I’m a ghost, I’ll do everything in my power to help you.” And behold, Jackson is yours.

More on Jackson as a Unit and Character

I could go into a bit more detail on his character, sure. His description mentions that he’s the ghost of a deceased Sacaean lord, and it’s heavily implied that the chapter takes place in his old abandoned mansion. He’s choosing to help you because the bad guys are desecrating his home by being evil and such, and sticks around because he’s just that swell. There are no supports, so that’s all we have to go off of.

But honestly, his writing isn’t the point. Really, what made him fun was the journey to figure out how to get him, and then the process of using him. And sure enough, using him was great too, he was the strongest mage in my party even with stuff like Tactician!Michael with his leadership stars or Marsh with his +10 promo bonuses if you bench him and leave him unpromoted for a while. A-ranks in every magic type, including Staves, just made him insanely versatile, and flight with no bow weakness was just the icing on the cake.

Would I use him in any other hack? Probably on occasion, having an extra staffer never hurts, but I’m not a certified Rutger enjoyer so it’d be occasonal at best. But this is Queen’s Sword, a hack with no holds barred, where everything is permitted including infinite level grinding if you really want. It took digging in and trying to understand the insanity instead of rejecting it to even find him, and recruiting him felt like a reward for being willing to go along with the antics. And then after you get him you’re finally free again to make Arus the Master Knight, Baron or even flying sword unit with wings that you desire. And what greater reward is there than broken nonsense, really?

7 Likes

When I saw this post two units immediately popped to mind. Stefan from Tmgc and Marlow from Cerulean coast( not the one from elden ring). Stefan is a very divisive unit though with most leaning on viewing him as a Franz(derogatory) and dropping him asap. Now I can definitely concede he has a middling early game performance and with his 3 durability per use combat art Adept he can run up quite a bill just killing things.

HOWEVER, tmgc is a long haul and an environment that an early joiner like him is worth training through for his eventual payoff. Now, what’s that pay off you are probably wondering, well Stefan is a sword cav who promotes to a sword/lance paladin. Lances are his real bread and butter, steel lance and javelin in the mid game are two great tools for high might adept kills and ranged kills respectively.

At level 15 unpromoted Stefan learns knight aspirant which in tmgc has the added effect of making combat arts not cost extra durability while within the HP threshold. This massively boosts how much he can get out of lower durability effectives going from 6 durability per adept round to 2. Now, we funnel his lance rank for the rest of mid game a frankly easy feat since they are his best might stick at this point and he really doesn’t care about normal doubling. Now we’re in the beginning of the lategame, and Stefan has built himself to S lances and he has respectable all around stats with investment.

The true Saunion comes into play, a 2-3 high might lance that refreshes every map, with the caveat that it Cannot double. A bit awkward of a legendary weapon with ohkos not being an easy feat in tmgc most lance units can only use it to reliably chip. But Stefan? Who has Adept, letting him double with the True Saunion immediately starts one rounding with an adept hit alot of enemies, with the flexibility of an 8 move unit. By this time Stefan also gets access to thief utility which is a small footnote but another checkbox for his usefulness.

Tmgc is a game about taking out seemingly impossible stat blocks with smart positioning and leveraging what the game gives you, so Stefan will be running around generally holding the Axe handle a +3 str stat booster. Seemingly a humble bonus in a stat environment like tmgc but that’s +6 damage on adepts and ALOT of the time makes the difference in thresholds. Now it’s lategame, Stefan has a whole arsenal of Lances to kill with, the true Saunion, master lance, another S lance the Nuisson( I spelled this wrong) that’s a more general 1-2 lance. Now only a few maps are left but we obtain the Soaring Shaft. Gifted to mankind by God himself retina, this holdable adds +2/+3 min and max range to ALL lances.

So what this means is the True Saunion goes from a 2-3 weapon to a 4-6 weapon. 8 move unit, 6 range reach with a weapon that he can uniquely leverage to get kills only the games ranger carbon could achieve ( who is imo the best combat unit in the game). The Other S lance becomes 3-5 and does even more damage then true saunion.

So, from humble beginnings and missing steel sword adept one rounds, Stefan grows into a god of death with unmatched ranged potential barring a few units. Is this an optimal strategy? Probably not, is it fun as hell seeing him chuck lances from 6 tiles away? Hell yeah.

Now Marlow, or MarGOD as I often yell at rivian unprompted. Prefacing this with saying with its lower XP gain and, more subdued growth spreads I very much prefer cerulean coast on fixed mode, but it is a hack I adore. Marlow joins in the early mid game, a mage rider, an anima cav he appears at a glance to be a middling stats ( with large HP) canto+ mage. A useful unit but nothing special.

However I would call him one of the best units with unmatched flexibility and applications. In the first interlude we will be saving the coffee a +1 speed booster for the arrival of MarGOD, with it he gets 12 as ( I may be fudging what the exact base speed is with coffee) but it lets him double a large amount of enemies for quite a while.

Combined with use of the wind tome that gives speed while equipped and his respectable magic he will be one rounding from the get go. Now, his personal skill amaterasu heals 33% to adjacent allies, completely tame for a CC skill but simple can be effective. What this means is a side in a split can be absent of a healer or that healer can be doing something else either combat or using one of the many utility staves CC provides.

The most essential part of Marlow’s toolkit is the wide variety of anima tomes at his disposal to keep it simple CC has fire, wind, and thunder tomes ( with the best names ever seriously look at them they are fucking hilarious). These all generally share the same properties in their lines so Fire tomes are melee generally with a 33% savage blow effect, wind tomes are speed granting with later tomes significantly boosting bulk and thunder tomes are high might decent weight but lower bulk

. All three of these effects Marlow can use in my opinion better then any other anima mage. Always at the vanguard, with CC enemy packs frequently moving in groups the 33% savage blow can decimate a group of tough enemies softening them up for allies to finish, the wind line offers massive bulk potential with Marlow’s large HP and serviceable defenses also typically being brave he can clinch one rounds with it to, locked at 2 range generally he won’t be able to retaliate right away but he can do risky enemy pulls most can’t even dream of. The thunder line is simple and to the point, you want something dead? Marlow doubles it and kills it with one, often you wanna swap him to something else after but this is fairly easy.

So all in all what do we have? A 7-8 move canto+ unit who hits on resistance in a low res game, with a wide range of tools for the job with the cherry on top of a healthy amount of adjacent target healing for simply existing. I didn’t touch on Stefan much character wise but he’s a silly little goober not a ton to say, same with Marlow though he is a rough and lazy Town guard. However Marlow joins the party in story to help his sister and niece in their time of need and I think that’s sweet. A guy who cant be bothered to put in any effort will put his life on the line for his family. I can think of ALOT more units to gush about from all the awesome hacks I’ve played that hold a place in my heart but these two are some of my fav.

8 Likes

Benji (Journeys Gaiden)

A bit of a weird pick, for those who don’t know, Journeys Gaiden is a hack from Relic. It’s probably the jankiest Relic hack and definitely the shortest, at only 5 chapters from start to finish. The main gimmick of Journeys Gaiden is that it has a relatively large cast of 23 playable characters, and you get 22 of them right at the beginning. Makes for a very intimidating turn 1 I’ll tell you that much.

The game doesn’t have skills or a ton of custom classes, so your cast does consist of some standard myrmidons and cavaliers, but what makes them more interesting is the fact that they almost seem to have pieces missing from them, mostly due to their bizarre starting inventories.

Journeys Gaiden-0
Benji is the only playable anima mage in the game, and he has stats that look like this. His starting inventory consists of a single bolting tome with 12 uses.

This is an obviously terrible unit. Out of the 23 units in the game, Benji is maybe your 20th most useful; but I still found a lot of the systems in JG to really facilitate his gameplan and make him fun to use. First of all, the Bolting tome. Its relatively high use count, Benji’s terrible stats, and the short length of JG all work to turn the typical way you use bolting on its head. Typically, players really want to conserve their bolting tomes for “when it matters most” (read: drop it in the convoy and forget about it), but the fact that Benji is never dealing heavy damage to anything and is statistically just going to totally whiff like 3 or 4 uses of that tome means that you really don’t have an incentive to save it, so you can just fire it whenever and roll the dice on Benji’s 67 displayed.

This makes Benji a bit of a Gonzales-type unit, a pretty controversial unit type from what I’ve seen, but I like it in small doses. People who hate Gonzales type units are already geared to dislike Benji because of his sub-70 hitrates, and Benji doesn’t even have the power to compensate! Now what he does have to compensate is his high range, meaning that almost every turn he will have at least one target you can consider zapping. This brings me to what I like about him, which is that he gives structure to your turns.

In a game where you’re controlling more than 20 units every turn, it gets very overwhelming trying to decide which units you should move first, but Benji acts as a guidepost. With his mediocre chip on almost every enemy in your threat range, he forces you to consider which enemies you can realistically kill on a given turn, and how much firepower you need for each one. If you’re just a little bit short of killing one, you can roll the dice on Benji, and whether he hits or misses it gives you a better idea of the contours of your offense for that turn. If he hits, he might enable a more aggressive push from the rest of your army, and if(/when) he misses, you have a good 20something units to cover his ass if you put him in a vulnerable spot. Or you could just let him die! Like I said, he’s not that useful.

The last thing I want to mention about Benji is that I really enjoy the personality that the Bolting tome gives him. It’s kind of rare that a starting inventory tells you something about a unit’s character, but JG is so text light and the inventories are so strange it does prompt the player to ask these kinds of questions. Why is such a terrible mage insisting on using such a rare and powerful weapon, and nothing else? Is he a cocky character, that believes he’s much more competent than he actually is? Or does that scar on his face indicate that he was some young prodigy, but was struck down before he could reach his full potential? What few things we do know about him indicate he’s kind of a loser, so I’m more partial to the first interpretation, but it’s still a unique storytelling device that, although probably unintentional, adds a lot of flavor to what is otherwise just another shitty mage.

12 Likes

Damien(Two Milkmen Go Comedy)

I shall first establish that almost the entirety of my bias for this unit comes from the fact that I have made his portrait. I got emotionally attached to him through the fact that I’ve spent time on his ingame appearance. After a few portrait revisions, I cannot even deny the fact that I love this unit because of my involvement.

It should also be mentioned that I typically have a bias toward enjoyment of archer units I find in romhacks; my favorite Call of the Armor unit is Poincare, my favorite Last Promise unit is Zach, and so on. Something that these two have in common with Damien is that they are written off as bad or poorly crafted units(The veracity of those beliefs is not important to my writing), and as such, I am typically in the minority for liking those units.

What is different with my relationship to Damien than to Poincare or Zach is that I initially started out opposed to Damien as a unit. He joins in the Zeke part of TMGC where the entire small army is force deployed for three maps before being merged with the main party in chapter fifteen. There is another archer named Sam who joins in chapter three(fourth map), and has about 9 or so chapters of availability over Damien. Upon the army merge, I had seen the unpromoted Damien, and compared him to my promoted Sam(Sam’s statline is focused on her speed and skill stats, whereas Damien’s is somewhat of the inverse, and focused on his strength stat) and saw that she had more use in combat on paper at that point thanks to her higher speed stat enabling doubling. I had even said something along the lines of “I don’t see why Damien exists, he’s pointless” to the hack’s creator, Retina, over these observations. For the longest time after that, I had just completely ignored Damien’s existence.

Fast forward to about August 29th of 2022, I had mentioned wanting to make a new portrait for Damien so he wouldn’t look like a blonde version of Roswell, the protagonist for a telephone hack that is still being worked on in Retina’s Discord. I had finished the portrait in about a day, but even then, any interest I had in Damien remained dormant.
image

It wasn’t until Summer of 2023 that I had really become attached in Damien. I was playing through TMGC for Retina as a playtest in VC, and of course, cause I’m a vain goofball, I was essentially only using units I made portraits for if possible. Cue Damien: I had put investment in Sam that run, on account of TMGC having free deploy for every unit up through chapter ten, but what was different that run, is that I had promoted Damien for use on chapter fifteen. That was when it hit me: Damien has quite possibly the best skill in the ROM: Adept. Adept is a skill that allows the unit to double on command at the cost of some extra item uses expended. This almost entirely levels the playing field between Damien and Sam at minimum, or slants it in Damien’s favor due to the fact that it can make Sam’s speed advantage not matter.

From that revelation onward, I was a full on Damien acolyte. I was extolling his virtues on many different discord servers. I had used him extensively on my run where he had been essential in many boss kills thanks to adept-great bow attacks. It is safe to say that by this point, I had completely given up on even THINKING about using Sam as a unit. I mean, why would I? Damien could do anything Sam could have done(Due to unit edits there are some differences between the two that would entice people into actually using Sam now) and probably better too! I was honestly kind of annoying with my devotion to Damien, but that’s besides the point.

I think the irony about me loving Damien for his adept skill is that I absolutely HATE the other TMGC unit who joins with Adept: Stefan. If you just join Retina’s discord, you can literally see my talking about disliking him. I do not particularly know why I enjoy adept on Damien compared to adept on Stefan. Could it be because I made Damien’s portrait? Could it be that I enjoy archers more than cavaliers? I may never figure it out, but Adept in TMGC is such a divisive skill for me.

I guess that what I’m trying to say, is that attachment to your own works and things you enjoy can make you blind to other unit opportunities and what they can bring to the strategic table. Many TMGC units are kind of homogenous in combat, especially exemplified in the lategame, where you have so many tools available, that essentially every unit can pull off an easy one round on enemy targets. This makes that attachment to units in TMGC even more important, why use Stefan to kill this berserker with weapon triangle advantage, when you can throw Dean against any enemy and absolutely destroy them with his Smash combat art? Why use any unit in TMGC at all? In my opinion, it’s cause you think they look cool, or you like the class they come in.

To boil it all down, unit attachment and sentimentality can go a long way in hackroms with large, homogenized casts, and nothing exemplifies that better than my blind, almost ignorant adoration for damien.

Oh yeah, earlier this year I revised his mug lol:
image

6 Likes

Teodor (An Unexpected Caller)

Jagens are the only real FE archetype, and this is an objective truth. Many games, both romhack and official, try to keep their Jagen in check, as an extremely powerful/“broken” Jagen is often seen as some sort of failure state or aberration of balance. However, some games have taken an opposite approach, wholeheartedly welcoming the idea that one of your units is simply game-defining and deserves to be as powerful as they are. An Unexpected Caller’s Teodor truly shows what letting a unit be unabashedly busted can do for a hack’s experience.

From the very first map, Teodor makes a strong impression. His stats are weighted heavily towards Magic, Skill, and Resistance, with solid HP, middling Defense, and low Speed. His starting inventory is somewhat unconventional: Flux, Nosferatu, and a healing staff. Notably, Nosferatu is his equivalent to a typical Silver weapon you’d find on a Jagen. Flux lets him weaken enemies to the point where any of your other units can finish them off, and Nosferatu’s higher might lets him outright oneshot many earlygame enemies, while also making him your bulkiest unit by far.

What truly lets Teodor become the most dominant unit in the game are the myriad tools that fall into his lap. If you don’t pick Sophia in the first interlude, your next dark magic user doesn’t join until Chapter 11, and she’s generally regarded as quite a poor unit. The other remaining dark magic users are all either Summoners or have some other sort of special gimmick to them, so most of the dark magic toolkit may as well be entirely Teodor’s to play with. These include a 3-7 range 0 might tome with 20 uses (enemy Resistance is quite low on the whole and Teodor’s Magic is fantastic, so it’s very substantial chip), a 1-3 range tome that grants a significant boost to Defense and Resistance, and a 1-5 range Mend (relevant because one of Teodor’s few true weaknesses is a low base staff rank in a game where ranks on the whole build rather slowly). His growths are also extremely good despite his position as a Jagen, primarily because he has plenty of the one growth that really matters for him - a 65% Magic growth.

Would you believe it if these aren’t even the strongest parts of his kit? In Chapter 9, Fargus joins the army, bringing along the Sake, which grants +2 Pow/Def and -5 Skl passively while held, bonuses that Teodor uses fantastically. The Power helps ensure oneshots during a stretch of the game where otherwise his growth is outpaced by enemy HP, the Defense gives him a stronger safety net when he has to eat hits, and the Skill penalty, while annoying, is offset by the fact that his great base weaponrank in dark magic means he will likely be approaching S rank by this point, and thus approaching the S rank hit bonus. Alcohol isn’t Teodor’s only secret weapon. In the third interlude, you get Ereshkigal, an extremely strong unbreakable S rank dark tome. Suddenly, Teodor’s able to oneshot almost everything again, if he wasn’t already. Incidentally, if he used a Body Ring, he has 12 Con, and can thus use Ereshkigal without losing any speed.

This wasn’t enough for him, and so after Chapter 17 he gets his personal weapon, the Shadow Shrike. Remember that 3-7 range tome with 20 uses? Shadow Shrike is that again, except it’s brave. Combining this with a Fila’s Might boost (another powerful tool that, while not directly a Teodor tool, is extremely potent when used on him) lets Teodor oneround almost anything he wishes from a great distance. Fun fact: originally, the Shadow Shrike also came with a promotion to Dark Druid, though that promotion was unfortunately removed before the hack’s official release, probably because the universe wouldn’t be able to handle Teodor’s raw power.

Now, I’ll admit my experience might be slightly skewed by the fact that my Teodor was an absolute legend who didn’t miss a Magic level once for 80% of the game. Even so, it’s very clear that the game was designed around Teodor and around letting the player feel like a badass for doing big things with him. Many games stumble with Jagen design, either trying way too hard to limit their Jagen or dropping them into a game that can’t handle a unit that powerful. AUC manages to consistently make Teodor feel both overpoweringly good and like an important part of your strategy that genuinely requires thought to utilize well. He is so firmly the best unit in the game that it’s not funny, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

also he kisses puzon goodnight and he’s real for that

13 Likes

Ernst (Order of the Crimson Arm) & Callahan (Blessed Heart)

Got a double whammy here, since these two units are very similar and I love them both. Whenever I start a game and see that there is no promoted jagen, I’m always somewhat predisposed to being skeptical of the game’s quality right off the bat. A game can still be plenty good without a strong early unit, with Echoes being my primary example of an earlygame paced around largely weak units, but it tends to set off alarm bells for me. Less common, however, is the Oswin-type unit: a high level unpromoted unit who takes the place of a more traditional jagen, while aiming to be more comparable to growth units in the long run. Ernst and Callahan both set out to be like Oswin, and they do the job fantastically.

Part 1: Ernst

Ernst is a level 10 myrmidon joining in chapter 1, and while he only comes with an iron sword, his high bases let him both ORKO enemies early on and also take hits better than the armor who joins in chapter 2. This hack also notably has weapon rank bonuses, meaning his base C swords gives him 1 extra attack, and it’ll only go up as his sword rank grows from all the combat he’ll be doing. When he can’t ORKO something, he leaves it low enough for anyone else to pick up the kill. Enemies don’t constantly spam javelins and hand axes either, so being locked to swords is perfectly fine for him. While Ernst is an infantry unit, you also get 3 mounted units within the first couple of chapters to get him where he needs to go, but because he is inarguably your best combat unit, he tends to set the pace of these maps anyway. There’s something so satisfying about having your best unit throughout the first 9 chapters of an FE7 hack be the myrmidon of all things.

While Ernst gains exp very slowly due to his base level 10, he’s usually doing so much combat in earlygame that he can stand to get a couple of levels before he promotes. There are two potential ways to promote Ernst in earlygame: chapter 4x, a gaiden map with a separate party, has a master seal that you can convoy warp, allowing the main party to get it earlier than intended. Alternatively, the chapter 6 boss drops a master seal. Convoy warping the first seal is more something you do for 0% where you don’t care at all about extra levels on Ernst, but he does just fine unpromoted in chapters 5 and 6 if you want to pad out his stats a bit. Either way, chapters 6-12 are all either seize or kill boss maps, with Ernst being your best boss killer at this point, really evoking the same feeling of juggling Rutger up to objectives and letting him go to town. After chapter 12, Ernst does tend to slow down, and you will get two other infantry sword prepromotes who hard outclass him later on, but he can still easily keep up all game if you consistently use him (and if his levels cooperate).

The main problem with Ernst is how he relates to the rest of the cast. Ernst is awesome, but everyone around him during earlygame is the exact opposite, with nobody else having very competent bases. So while it’s a ton of fun to make the most of him, it’s not as good as it could be since it’s hard to care about investing in many other people early on. Algimas the lord and Sven the wyvern rider are generally your best picks, but otherwise you don’t start getting more units with actually good bases until chapter 9, where the separate party from 4x merges with the main army, and you get units like Lani the pegasus knight who are really good. I do still love Ernst and I think he’s a big part of why I enjoy OCA so much, but he’s not perfect.

Part 2: Callahan

Callahan might be perfect. He’s a level 10 fighter who joins in the prologue. Unlike Ernst, Callahan isn’t really capable of ORKOing stuff most of the time. He has good HP, strength, skill, and luck, but his speed and defense are on the middling side, so he’s more relegated to taking hits and chunking enemies so other units can finish them off. If he is able to double something, he usually will kill it, though. The closest comparison to a vanilla game would be Vander, who functions very similarly (though Callahan does tend to have more consistent hit rates).

Callahan does have one other fun trait at base, which is his instant B support with his wife, Linne the mage, joining in chapter 1. This actually gives no extra hit, but instead gives 1 point of attack and defense (and some avoid/crit/crit avoid), which is super great for putting him just barely over thresholds. For instance, in chapter 1 this support allows Callahan to one shot enemy mages, otherwise leaving them 1 HP off without the support. It’s a really unique decision tool for a unit to have that I almost never see in other hacks, and rewards good positioning of your other units to make the most out of it. Linne and Callahan can get an A support after a while, but it gives no additional attack or defense, so it’s not all that valuable. Just a fun reward if you continue using them together.

Like Ernst, Callahan can also promote very early, with a hero crest being given from a house in chapter 4. Callahan can either promote to hero (which gives +2 speed) or warrior (which gives 0 speed but better everything else, along with the skill Lancebreaker). Hero’s extra speed doesn’t really do much since Callahan wasn’t doubling a lot anyway, while Warrior makes him better at his job and even more versatile with Lancebreaker and bow access. Blessed Heart makes all bows have 1-2 range (except for the 3 range bows), and Warrior now starts with D bows, meaning you can really get his bow rank pretty high if you focus on it. With good weapons like longbows, or the midgame S rank axe that gives +5 speed and hits like a truck, there are plenty of tools to keep Callahan going strong later on, even through late game.

Compared to the cast of OCA, Blessed Heart’s cast is generally a lot more competent at base, which indirectly makes Callahan feel even better to use. Now when Callahan leaves something low, I actually have other units I care about training whom I can feed that kill to. And yet Callahan doesn’t get outclassed later on either in the same way that Ernst does. Blessed Heart’s cast is pretty small, and there’s no real axe prepromote anywhere in the game. If you don’t wanna use Callahan for your main axe user, you have to use one of the other growth units instead. But just off his bases, promo gains, and all the good tools he gets access to, Callahan has fantastic longevity and consistency. When Ernst begins falling off, he usually starts missing doubling thresholds which severely cuts into his damage output, since he’s so reliant on his speed to really do his job. But since Callahan is all about strength and accuracy, he never really gets worse at that due to the continual influx of new toys for him. And that’s not to mention that he’s getting levels the whole time and can gain even more strength, skill, and luck. Nor Blessed Heart’s holdable and tradeable stat boosters, which he can use as needed.

Part 3: These Guys Are Really Cool And You Should Play Their Games

That’s all I got, really. Just read the section header.

17 Likes

KrashBoomBang mentionned Ernst, but when it comes to this hack, my favorite unit is easily

Boleslav (Order of the Crimson Arm)

Boleslav is an archer that join you in the early game, (chapter 2 or 3 I think)
and he is (according to me) a great archer if not one of the greatest.

What makes him so interesting so play is not really his stats nor the weapon he join with (even though they are okay and he come with a longbow) but rather the place archers have in OCA as units.

In comparison of a traditional FEGBA game, Order of the Crimson Arm has a lot flying units, especially in the late game. There is also a higher number of anima and light magic users because of the lore which makes archers a good answer to theses threats.
To that we add the fact that there is a lot of enemies, making 20/20 promotions possible with several characters and growths/bases that will make you reach the class limits a few chapters before the final one.

With all that in mind, Boleslav is useful in every chapter is in. Early game might be a bit rough but since there isn’t a lot of cavalry on our side, he can set up kills or finish what the Marc lord, Ernst or Acelyn started.
Mid, late and end game are pretty much the same, he do what he needs to do and that’s perfect.

But he is not too op, being a foot unit, he lacks mobility and his con isn’t that great either. He also have competition with the Marc Lord who is a shaman with prf weapons.
He is not that unit that will 1vs10 like Ernst or Algimas(end) would, but he is that unit that will always deliver.

Personality wise, he’s great. OCA doesn’t have supports (or at least didn’t have them last time I played it) so a lot of characters don’t get the opportunity to shine as they would in other hacks. But that problem doesn’t really matter to Boleslav.
Strong personality, custom animation, good introduction,
Boleslav is the goat

10 Likes

You forgot the best asset for OCA archers, which is that they actually have boosted experience. I think they have a class power of 2 like soldiers? Their exp is functionally similar to stuff like the TLP soldiers who also have this boosted exp gain, at any rate.

(Also OCA snipers get crit boost which is fun and stuff)

5 Likes

Oh that’s right lmao

Parrhesia (Dies Emblem)

Fun fact, Parrhesia is actually based on some obscure internet person. I think they made some ancient hack called Dreaming of Four? Dies Emblem portrays him as an absolutely banger unit.

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  • He has higher bases than 95% of your units at join. Armour and Will and both damage reducing stats, so he can reduce damage by up to 24 at base.

  • His speed is subparr, but he comes with an armour piercing steel blade which plays to his strengths. Almost all his combat match ups are favourable.

  • In Dies Emblem, promotion gold costs becomes cheaper with high level. Parr’s high base level means he can immediately do so for little cost and dominate the next few chapters.

  • He is the only unit which comes with supports. This suggests he is the only unit capable of friendship, which is ironic because:
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  • More importantly, Dies Emblem is really, really hard. Any unit with standout combat is a miracle.

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This seems like a lot of text, but Parr’s skill is very simple but effective.

  • -20 hit is rough, but Parr can’t double anyways. Not the worst penalty for a combat art.

  • In Dies Emblem, any human slain will cause trauma and force the unit to leave the field with permanent debuffs (squishy modern humans). There are occasional remedies for this such as the MANDATE OF HEAVEN but being able to ignore this penalty is incredibly powerful.

  • There’s only one boss you can recruit so far, but he is also better than 95% of your units because shocker, bosses are usually better than your units.
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Best of all, all his growths are 0. I love feeling like shit upon each level up after Parrhesia kills 10 things.

16 Likes

This is actually just an accurate representation of my day-to-day life

Certainly in the workplace I’m the most experienced and skilled fighter in any room I’m in. Mostly because I’m a high school English teacher, but hey, you can only beat the opponent in front of you

16 Likes