Opinions on Prepromotes?

I’ve played a few hacks that we’re extremely difficult for a relatively new player like me and I wanted to ask this question.

If you made a romhack, how will you treat Prepromotes?

Personally, I hate Romhacks that balances the game around using the Prepromote instead of the characters that actually need growth. These kinds of hacks come off to me as rigid and punishing especially if the other characters have terrible bases, but what do you guys think?

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Many hacks are made with the more experienced player in mind. Still, there are rom hacks that offer lower difficulty setting for newer or more casual players.

What do you mean by “balance around using the Prepromote”? You get the most out of your prepromoted units early on if you use them to weaken enemies for your other units, who then can kill the weakened enemy. Don’t subscribe to the idea that you shouldn’t use your prepromotes because they’re strong already, but don’t let them kill all the enemies either - you need to level up your other units as well.

Later on prepromoted units are not all that different from your other units. They might make a good addition or replacement to your roster. With that being said, you don’t want to make these prepromotes too strong - it can easily make you feel like you wasted your time and exp with the units you were leveling up early in the game.

When I said Balanced around the Prepromote, I mean hacks like Dragon Herald have this kind of rigid early game where the only way to survive without a loss is to make your Prepromote handle most of the enemies while your tier 1 units have bases that can’t allow them to defend themselves.

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Lunatic awakening c1 : everyone one isn’t Frederick is 1rko by a simple bandit.

While it’s a valid option of design, I personally very much dislike “puzzle/chess emblem” where you’re expected to use certain characters to clear chapters, including the early prepromotes. A player should be able to (try to) use whatever units they want to and still make it successfully through all of the content (barring units that fall off statistically over time and can’t keep pace with the enemies, of course), in my opinion.

Outside of that, early game characters with advantages in bases and experience are fine, though they arguably should be toned down in some way compared to some of vanilla’s standout members - give them some kind of negative or penalty (beyond taking away from the experience pool) to try and balance out their usefulness.


It depends on a multitude of factors, including stuff like how growths work in the hack, if it was made with ironman or resetting in mind… It boils down to everybody’s personal design preferences.

Personally I don’t like the spectrum’s brinks. Stuff like FE7 absurd prepromoted that essentially make prepromoted units gods among men that don’t allow for the use of unpromoted units (because of FE7’s nonsensical design perspective). Completely disgusting and useless prepromotes are what I hate the most though, and when it comes to that, FE12 takes the cake with its gargantuan amount of units that just get onerounded on join, essentially making a bunch of units useless unless you grind them.

Anyway, I like story/gameplay integration. If the prepromote is supposed to be strong, it should be strong.
But this is all my personal opinion and you are allowed to disagree with it.

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Having played Dragon Herald, I would have to disagree in part. It’s only common sense for the hack to expect you to be liberally using Taiga; he’s a tool that the game gives you, and that you are guaranteed to have access to, so the hack should be designed around him being used. It should not be lenient to people who refuse to use him because he “steals exp”, that defeats the point of a strategy game. The bigger issue I’d have with Dragon Herald’s earlygame is that Taiga is pretty much the only unit capable of taking on what it throws at you, everyone else is too fragile, weak, or otherwise flawed to be able to contribute meaningfully for a while, leading to a frustrating experience.

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I just think it’s good to treat them like you would a standard fire emblem game and try to avoid stuff like being Pent tier OP or FE12 tier nigh unusable. Puzzle Emblem is not fun, it’s just frustrating and linear.


My personal preferences are largely in line with how official games generally handle them. Early-game prepromotes are essentially like “panic button” or “training wheels” units; there to bail you out if you find yourself in a tough situation that they’re needed to help resolve, but the game is more fun and challenging when you opt not to use them if it’s at all avoidable in favor of using weaker units against whom enemies actually put up a fight. I feel you’re kinda supposed to stop using Jagen-types as much once you “grow out of” needing them in order to complete chapters effectively, even. That’s one purpose their generally-poor growths serve, I’d say.
…Granted, this doesn’t necessarily reflect how things play out in practice, and I know many Jagens can be solid, if decreasingly-overpowered, party members all the way through to the ends of their home games, but this is my interpretation of the design philosophy behind their inclusion in the series.

Mid- to later-game prepromotes are more or less just the game scaling new recruits to the strength of your party members at that point, and I think that’s fine.

Also… gonna have to agree that “Puzzle Emblem” isn’t something that especially appeals to me personally. I get that for a lot of people with highly-advanced skills, they appreciate how demanding it is, but I enjoy Fire Emblem most when there’s plenty of freedom to choose which units you want to use. It’s the same reason I tend to stay away from Lunatic-tier difficulty levels in official games; it makes the game more punishing in a way that kinda strips it of a few major things I find enjoyable about the series.

So, that perspective informs how I personally would go about incorporating prepromotes into a Fire Emblem hack. I realize that may not really resonate with everybody, but, eh, not like I’d be making a ROM hack to turn a profit or anything, so it’s not really of too much consequence if people end up put off by mismatches between their game design sensibilities and my own.


In terms of how I feel about them, I like the concept from a story perspective, but their gameplay has never been particularly great to me. I’ve always felt that making a unit far inferior in the long run was a waste of potential, which is what most pre-promotes end up being throughout the series.

Ideally, they’d be a balanced, but weaker version of units you could train up, but with less extreme of a gap compared to what most are currently. Unfortunately, luck (not the stat, mind you) plays a big part in a unit’s growth, so you can get screwed by RNG on units who SHOULD be good with training. However, I’ve had many instances where crap just went wrong for me. I had a Haar once go 5 levels without a single strength increase, which is VERY unlikely with a 60% growth rate. This isn’t an example of growth vs. prepromote, it’s just an example of bad RNG I’ve experienced.

So if that were to happen to a unit who you’re supposed to train up from level 1, it really dwarfs their usefulness in the long run. Then you get the pre-promote, who faces similar growths by DESIGN, and falls off pretty intentionally in the case of early-game placement. So if this is a unit with a weapon type you’re in short supply of, you can effectively run out of both options based on poor luck and intentional design. Imo, that really blows.

Giving a pre-promote unit who would be an average unit in the end game regardless of how they begin would always be preferable to me over getting someone really strong early but weak late. Whether that means super high bases but garbage growths, or average-low bases with good growths, or just middle-of-the-road, I prefer that over any form of Jagen archetype. Imo, it’s basically just a wasted roster spot.

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Prepromotes add the interesting strategy of use the prepromote to wipe floor vs let others get the XP.

Wendell is cool because he’s a swiss army mage.

Then you get to the prepromotes that outclass their unpromoted counterparts soundly (FE7 Pent, TLP Howard/Levion, etc) that just kill the point of training the others, which feels eh to me.

I could argue the opposite. Because he’s just an optional tool, the hack should be designed around not using him. Otherwise the designer would be promoting a single way to complete the map, and that’s not good (as in, “you have to use this unit to win”).

I think it’s fine to design your early game around assuming the use of a unit who hard carries the rest of the team and the player. Just as long as you have multiple units who can fill that role in some way or form for a significant chunk of the early game. A traditional Jagen, Ogma and (reliable) Knight can generally fill those roles I’d say. It gives you enough options open at least without giving you too many broken units to stomp the game with even if all are being used.

He’s not “optional”. He’s a game over character, and force-deployed on some maps. Even if he weren’t, it’s nonsensical to design as if he doesn’t exist. You might as well just remove him. The entire point of FE is that it gives you some tools to clear maps. You ideally have some leeway with how to use those tools (which is what I criticized the hack for), but that’s not the same as sticking your head in the sand and pretending units don’t exist.

To me, there’s more or less 4 categories of prepromtes.

  • Jagen
  • Crap unit
  • Padding
  • Ultimate dude

-You guys know what a Jagen is. Like topaz said, I think the best kind of jagen is one that works as training wheels, they help you with the first 5 chapters but then start to come off.

-A crap unit (when talking about prepromotes) is basically a prepromote that they give too soon with poor growths. This is the guy where there throw a level 5 swordmaster at you with 20% average growths when you’re on chapter 8.

-Padding. Possibly my favorite type of prepromote, these are the guys that the game gives you after the halfway point (chapters 13-15 for most games) which can bolster your team if you’re missing units or got rng screwed. They should have lower bases/stat averages than if you’d leveled up one of your weenie units to that level, but they can fill in some holes if you had guys die earlier in the game.

-Ultimate dude. Tibarn, Athos, do I need to say anything else? From a story standpoint these guys can be really fun, (and everyone loves them on their first playthough), but as you replay the game you realize that using this OP unit the game gave you for free is the best strategy so the game is actually kind of restricting or nullifying your final team choices. (FE10 is very guilty of this)

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Probably Unpopular opinion: I absolutely hate prepromotes with a passion. Your starting paladin I almost never use ever. Any prepromotes gained in the game I almost never use at all.

So I also don’t agree with needing your Jagen for the first few chapters. IMO they should be used to HELP your other characters, provide a nice meatshield or weaken a foe. They shouldn’t be required for the first couple levels.

Someone earlier mentoined Taiga in the Dragon Herald. I don’t like it because he’s almost forced alot of chapters and is a forced deploy with your super weak MC, surrounded by hard monsters a couple chapters in the game like 10 or something. If I stopped using him like I wanted too I woulda been softlocked at that point. But because the enemies are ridiculous you need to use him to clear half the mobs. That’s horrible game design imo.

Seth and Oifey from Fe8/4 are good designs. They are strong early, NOT NEEDED to clear the entire game, but if you stick with them they are decent units.

Gunter and Jagen are bad/ok designs. They are super strong the first 2 chapters then fall off a cliff and you never use them again.

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lol ok weird take but we move on

jokes aside, no, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a prepromoted unit, they exist as either a substitute for your other units (duessel, percival, bastion, etc), as a defensive pivot (fe6 marcus/frederick/titania), or as a get out of jail free card (fe7 marcus, seth, laguz royals, ryoma)

depending on what you want to accomplish with one will determine how you will want to use them. personally, i’m in favor of the defensive pivots, who exists in the early game to help hold positions and push ahead early if need be, and the mid/late game substitutes. These let me pretty much play in any style I would prefer to (assuming the game itself is balanced well). As a general rule, the player shouldn’t be forced use any unit (outside of the mc), but I would also say that every unit does not need to have end game potential. Some should spike early and fall off later (those low growth high base units like dieck), some should struggle early but reward the tenacity (ross or amelia), and some should peak from the start and slowly fall in line or behind the others. That way you can in theory use any unit you wish in any manner you wish.
I personally dislike the late game est, but that’s because i never see a point in putting all this time into a unit like nino when I have pent right there who will be just as good as she will become… but right now.


My fav. kind of prepromotes are those who don’t steal the spotlight.

Like Eyvel in FE5, Sothe in FE10 or Felicia in Conquest.

Jagen, Marcus and the like i really am not a big fan of.

Based on the wording in the original post, I’m going to assume that this is only about the Chapter 1 Jagen/Oifey prepromotes.

To me, the gold standard for early game prepromotes is FE6 Marcus. Iron Sword to reliably weaken enemies for your weaker units to finish off, Silver Lance to kill an enemy in an emergency. He has acceptable base stats that aren’t incredible, poor enough growths to eventually persuade you not to keep deploying him, but he still has 8 movement, canto and supports several good units.

If you’re not doing something like that, another good way is to have a prepromote as a temporary unit, ie Dagdar/Eyvel, Conquest Gunther and TLP Siegfried. They’re your strongest units for a while and useful when you have them, then they’re gone for a while and come back more in line with the rest of your army.

The prepromotes I prefer not to have are the ones that remain viable throughout the entire game, like FE7 Marcus, Seth, Titania, Frederick, and others. FE games already have a tendency to get easier as they go on since the game has to be designed around the player not resetting in order to not create softlock situations, so you don’t need a crutch to be constantly stronger than your entire army.