FE7 bow/archer balance

I’ve been working on a Fe7 rebalance patch, and one of the hardest things I’ve found to balance is archers/snipers/bows.
The root of the problem appears to be that Fe7 is mainly focused around enemy phase (EP) , and archers have a hard time countering on EP. The lack of EP also affects exp gain, which helps to explain the relative usefulness of Louise compared to the two archers. Sword locked units face a similar problem of being unable to counter ranged attacks on EP, while lance, axe, and magic users can. Thus both bow and sword locked units are better in games that are more player phase (PP) focused like Fe6. Thus, one solution to balance Fe7 better could be to make it more PP focused. However, Fe7 Hector hard mode is already relatively difficult, so simply increasing hard mode bonuses would make it even more punishing. Simultaneously reducing enemy spam would help, but this would have downstream effects on exp gain and weapon usage, not to mention doubling and orko breakpoints, which would affect other classes unevenly. At first glance it seems easier to buff archers /bows.

An interesting idea which has been suggested before is to increase the range of all bows to 2-3. I tried this in my rom hack and it felt great and unique on PP, but it gave several issues on EP, of which Ch16 EHM made me give up. Archers could attack Merlinus and the green units turn one, and proceeded to kill Lucian before I could reach him. Meanwhile, the room to the left of the prison flooded with archers because they could not be countered on EP, and I could not get through to block the the stair tile while my characters were focused by 5 archers at once. It may be possible to balance the game around 2-3 range archers, but it would require significant changes to the layout of some maps which were designed around 2 range. A hotfix would be to change the weapon of problematic archers to a 2 range Emblem Bow, or to only have the C and above rank bows have 2-3 range.

Another issue with bows archers is that they cannot utilize the weapon triangle to gain bonuses to hit and dmg, since these are usually in the players favor. One solution could be to buff bow might (mt), but that would also buff enemy bow users, which may or may not be warranted. Despite being locked to 1 weapon, snipers don’t get a crit bonus like swordmasters or berserkers, but only retain the ballista skill. This is easy to add, but it would make ordinary ballistae into killer ballistae such as in four fanged offense, which is pretty obnoxious for the player. Giving it directly to the 3 archer/snipers is possible, but then they have it available before promotion. I have considered only giving it to female snipers since these are not used as enemies, but this would require making Wil a female archer… Alternatively making him another nomad, but that would make Lyn mode a bit awkward with 2 nomads and no archers. Finally, the archers have poor bases which warrant a buff, and this might patch over some of their issues, but it is the least interesting way to go about it.

What do you think about archer /bow balance, and have you been able to make it work?


Maps really need to be designed with 2-3 range in mind from the get go as it involves making walls impenetrable again if 2-3 range enemies and players will be commonplace. Changing the range of all Bows will likely result in more headache than other approaches for you. I would definitely consider giving Wil and Rebecca better bases, however. Even when Bows are a good weapon type, bad bases are enough to leave Archers like Wolt and Dorothy in the dust.

The real answer is going to involve a fair bit of stat inflation, both buffing enemy bases and buffing player unit bases. For as frustrating as HHM enemies can be, you can still reliably double the majority of the game off a measly 14 Spd. If avoiding counter attacks is not meaningful, then Bows simply aren’t useful unless you turn them into something completely unlike Bows.


Have you implemented 3x effective damage? That can help as well.


Asides from buffs you can also change the way that archer xp works relative to other units (which is one of the things I did in my hack). You can lower their relative power number so that they get more xp than a melee unit who can also act on enemy phase. This allows archers to level up more in sync with the rest of your army when they can’t enemy phase.


I’m not an expert on the topic. If you keep archers at 2 range (which seems to be the most reasonable approach), then I think you need to recognize their lack of Enemy Phase (as you already have), which means you raise their utility in player phase. In FE 10 Shinon has defenses comparable to an armor knight, while he’s a bit overpowered, he’s also the only 2 range archer I’ve enjoyed using in mainline FE.

I think stats are the solution. (Not having an EP is okay if you can delete an enemy unit in PP. Or he/she doesn’t get kills by himself, but isn’t a liability during EP.)

Or you could just give them 1-2 range bows but that is its own can of worms. (Don’t do it.)


I personally think the answer would be to make Longbows readily accessible, like Javelin/Hand Axe-tier accessible, since 3-range is the one thing that bows can really offer in an EP game but always gets unnecessarily relegated into the level of “rare resource that you have to spend wisely.” This way you would also avoid the conundrum of universal 2-3 range bows breaking existing map design and making everything annoying


If you want to give a crit bonus to only player snipers, you could replace two unused classes with copies of the male archer and sniper, then give the sniper a crit bonus, and assign Wil to the archer. Then make it so the alternate male archer promotes into the alternate male sniper. This is assuming that there are at least a few unused classes in FE7’s class list, like there are in FE8.


Yes, forgot to mention 3x effectiveness, it certainly helps against fliers.
Increasing enemy growths might help increase enemy power more so in the late rather than the early game, although early game will still be affected by hard mode levels. Can then lower class bases to compensate, and increase player bases…

Lowering class level is a good idea, although I guess it would also affect xp gain from enemy archers, unless a separate player class is implemented as already mentioned for the purpose of giving Wil a crit bonus upon promotion.

Increasing defense for archers seems pointless because you avoid EP physical regardless, although it makes sense for nomads, and perhaps res for archers to have a niche fighting mages.

I think the longbow itself is just too weak in terms of stats, but I think I will try buffing it and making some of the other bows 2-3 range.

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