Rebalancing mounted units—how would you go about doing it?

I’ve been thinking recently about some of the major issues with balance in FE, and I’ve come to notice that one of its biggest flaws is how much it’s tilted in favor of mounted units. In almost every game, mounted units are some of the most broken, being able to move significantly farther than foot units and having roughly equal combat to them throughout most of the game.

So how do we rectify this?

I’ve come up with a few ideas over the months I’ve mulled this over, but I’d like to see what others think about this.

(Also first non-comment post, hello)

#1: Make mounted units unable to use 1-2 range weapons.
This is pretty simple—mounted units wouldn’t be able to use weapons like Javelins or Hand Axes. 1-2 range weapons are one of the biggest boons you can have in FE, and mounted units achieve absurd feats using them. But with this change, if you want to use those ranged weapons, you’re gonna have to use your foot-soldiers. This would make it so that mounts have a large portion of their usefulness limited to player phase, while foot units are more useful on enemy phase due to being able to counterattack anyone who doesn’t have a longbow or a seige tome.
However, i’m uncertain how this would work for mounted mages. (Maybe they could only attack at 2 range? I don’t know how you’d program that into a hack, though.

#2: Decrease growth rates and caps significantly.
This is already done to some extent in some FE games, but the reductions are small enough to be negligible on anything less than the hardest difficulty (and sometimes even then!) What I’m talking about is a massive stat reduction to the point where using only mounts would use up roughly the same amount of turns as using only foot units. Mounted units would be capable of making decent chip damage, but would struggle to ORKO any enemy that isn’t especially squishy.

#3: Mounted units are unable to double.
This is a more drastic change that achieves a similar effect to #2. Mounted units would be unable to double-attack without the help of a brave weapon. Without a second attack, it would be nigh impossible for mounted units to ORKO anything stronger than a healer without an effective weapon. This would force players to use mounted units primarily for utility (rescue-training, setting up kills, etc.)

#4: More varied terrain on maps.
Mounted units, for all their mobility, have one Achilles heel: their difficulty moving over terrain. This means that if most maps had a lot of forests, mountains, etc. in them, and they were placed properly, you could hamper the effectiveness of mounts significantly. Another terrain-related idea is to give mounts evasion and defense penalties instead of boosts in rough terrain, or do both at once.

That’s about all I’ve got. If you have any ideas on how you’d rebalance mounted units, feel free to say so.


I think the way to go would be to reduce the movement, make them only able to use certain weapons when mounted/dismounted and have a good variation of terrain on the map, but not in ways that make their enhanced movement completely useless.
That approach makes dismounting meaningful and nerfs the mounted state, even tho the player would want to get creative to use the mounted form as effectively as possible due to canto and rescue-botting.
That makes for healthy gamedesign, even if it might not be completely balanced in the end.

  • Make unpromoted cavs monoweapon, there’s no reason they need two weapon types.
  • Give infantry better stats than cavs (fe8 cavs have way too much defense, as the most obvious point).
  • Make enemies have actual stats so cavs can’t yolo into enemy lines and expect to survive no problem.
  • Bows keep fliers in check, right? Horseslayers keep cavs in check.

I had honestly forgotten horseslayers even existed, lol. I guess that goes to show how criminally underutilized cavalry deterrents are. It really feels like the only reason they’re ever even given to enemies at all in vanilla FE is so players can snatch them for themselves.

FE in general has a problem with uncreative enemydesign. The enemies are basicly just there to either kill the player dead or to die to the player in an instant. there is no middleground.
Enemyspawns are also rarely changed beyond giving them ambushspawns or just making them bigger beatsticks on alternate difficuĺties. well, except for hector hard mode just spamming additional pegasusknights at the beginning because lul. I think the smartest thing I saw the devs do was give erik a horseslayer on that difficulty to counter marcus.


I’ve always wondered if instead of a specialty weapon against horses (one specific item within a general class, i.e. horseslayer in lances or zanbato in swords), a general weapon type effective against horses would be better. Much like arrows are effective against all fliers (and not hard-coded, but essentially all magic against armor knights), something like anima magic is effective against all horses. You could rationalize it in game as horses get scared of magic. Would obviously require more balancing because it’s essentially buffing magic users at the same time, but something I think might be worthwhile to think about more.

Alternatively, some kind of fatigue system would make sense, but beats me on how to best implement it? Can only use your mount so many chapters in a row? Perhaps horses can normally only go the standard 5/6 infantry move, but a few times per chapter you can move double in a single turn? Just something where they can’t always be reliable for big moves, so you have to strategize around it.

Also, shout out to @Pandan’s recent video about cavs:

I think all you would really need to do is give enemies actual stats, give them lower caps/growths, restrict them to one weapon type and nerf the rate exp is gained. If Cavaliers consistently have average or balanced stats relative to the enemy and if there’s a real need to have units with specialised stat spreads see combat then they should be balanced. Weapons like low Mt/high Wt 1-2 weapons are already slanted in favour of more specialised classes like Berserker/General/Warrior/Hero/Halberdier to take advantage of them effectively. That’s all I feel is necessary.


So sort of like the magic effectiveness against Laguz? I could see that potentially working, though there’s also the issue of mages generally being relatively rare in most maps in order to keep the player from getting gray hairs. You’d probably have to make enemy mages a bit more common for it to be a serious deterrent, and that would require even more balancing to account for the increased magic unit count.

I don’t have much experience with FE5, so I can’t really comment much on whether fatigue would work or not. Although on the topic of altering one’s movement, perhaps you could use dismounting a la FE3, with the number of indoor maps being increased so that foot units have reasonable time to shine?

I personally think that all mounted units should just have 1 move more than their regular unmounted counterpart except for greatknight which needs to actually be buffed by 1 to compete with everyone else(Making knights more viable to promote too). Cavs could Maybe only have access to swords mounted and lances dismounted. Upon promotion, they get the ability to use axes when mounted, e-rank lances when mounted and sword while dismounted.

Basicly, paladins have a static weapontype and each form has one weapontype only it can use, except if a paladin for some reason wants to use the ironlance while mounted for weapontriangle. Maybe greatknight would have access to bows that only give 2 range instead of the ironlance to make up for being slower than a paladin.(I specify the 2 range because I want my idea should be compatible with the archer rework-topic if possible and I said that they should have versitle attackranges).

The idea is to not give the units too much con to make it similar to how isadora works with her weaponchoices, just designed around mounting and dismounting instead.

I agree with everything except infantry having better stats, I think that’s artifical and unnecessary.

I disagree with everything because I think it would be annoying and unnecessary except #4, one thing that would fix a lot of problems is if all unpromoted mounted units can only use one weapon type and well as my thread says “mounted units should be unrescueable, should be able to rescue unmounted units, but shouldn’t be able to move again without the Savior skill.” Other then those changes simply balancing the game better with higher Atk for enemies would fix a lot I think.

(Sorry about the last post, formatting got super messed up for some reason.)

I don’t think this would really work in practice, and that you’re really underestimating how broken mounted units can get in this series, especially in the GBA and Tellius games. (Have you SEEN Seth?)
—I definitely agree with the weapon locks. Two weapons at base is just ridiculous when a lot of foot classes are still weapon-locked even after promotion.
—However, while I do think a lot of the FE game have underpowered enemies, a flat attack increase for enemies makes it harder for all units, not just riders, and it flushes a lot of squishy units like Mages or Myrmidons down the gutter. While those classes can be buffed a bit to make up for the high Attack stat, it doesn’t really make Cavaliers in particular that much weaker in comparison to other units. This is about balancing mounts, not making the game as a whole harder.
—Foot units NEED to have better stats than cavs if they want to be competitive, because without the utility niches that mounts afford, combat potential is literally all most of them have. Even without Canto, having two extra move in comparison to other units while having a roughly equal stat total still makes them vastly preferable to foot units. I don’t think removing Canto is a very good solution, either—it strips cavs of what sets them apart as units, giving you a boring units that can move slightly farther than other units. With the exception of support classes like Dancer and Cleric, foot units are not very useful outside of battle. They move slowly, don’t have especially high Aid (with the exception of armor knights, which are a whole ‘nother can of worms) and can’t re-move like mounted units. If you want to make foot units worth using (which is, mind you, literally the whole point of rebalancing mounts), you have to either buff foot units to be as broken as mounted units by increasing their stats, or nerf mounts down to the level of foot units by decreasing their stats.


Honestly, even tho paladin is a broken class, seth is moreso a case of IS just not designing stuff correctly. He joins with insane endgamelike-stats when enemies are designed around level1 eirika.

I don’t think making mounted units weak is the answer; in fact, I think cavalry should be powerful. They just need more drawbacks/risks. A few concepts I’ve considered are:

· Pikes as their own subcategory of lances, similar to how swords get Blades. Pikes are more accurate than other effectiveness weapons, but can’t be wielded by mounted units. Armour knights might specialise in these?
· A “zone of control” of doubled movement cost in the spaces immediately surrounding enemy units, so cavalry can’t snake through enemy lines willy-nilly
· Make mounted units have a higher “class’s relative power” byte so they don’t gain as much exp from defeating non-mounted units, and the enemy’s mounts become prizes that will give more exp
· Mount/dismount system, but you additionally can only choose for a certain amount of units to be able to mount in the prep screen. This might only be necessary in a game like FE6 that throws a bunch of cavaliers at you.
· Some sort of statistical difference between mounted and unmounted forms, to the point that it’s clearly their mount that gives them their power and they’re less useful in indoors maps where mounting isn’t allowed
· If mounted units gain the above advantage against unmounted units, flying units should have the same advantage against non-flying ones. This would ideally result in an interplay of classes where “powerful” cavaliers get taken out by “weak” pegasus knights (wing spear, anyone?), who in turn are taken out by archers, who are defenseless against regular non-mounted units, who don’t fare well against cavaliers…

Enough bullet points! Time for a pipe dream.

There’s a pretty important concept related to cavalry soldiers that Fire Emblem never touches on at all, and that’s how expensive they were to maintain. FE units aren’t typical salaried troops (sure, there are characters who are rank-and-file soldiers, but they fight alongside villagers, lords, friends of those lords who aren’t necessarily related to the army, etc), but imagine if the obligatory few thousand gold you get at the beginning of the game were given with the stipulation that you would be spending 30G (not sure on the number) every turn, per deployed mount, to take care of those horses (food, horseshoes, stirrups, Horse Funeral, replacement horse, etc). When the money runs out, mounted units would get a harsh penalty far outweighing their usefulness, effectively forcing them to dismount. This is the most simple and least intrusive system I can think of to simulate mounts being difficult to maintain without having a full-blown horse system à la Berwick Saga. In my opinion, it’s also an interesting new way to use money for other purposes than buying weapons, but it’s too extreme of a gameplay change to appeal to people as a universal “fix” for mounted units (and let’s be real, a good chunk of us would forget that we need some spare cash for horses while we’re shopping and spend it all on iron swords anyway).

  1. I think a flat increase in attack is the only way to make enemies more difficult and mounted units less broken, but all units base stats would need to be decreased for it to really be effective IMO.

  2. I don’t think a decrease in stats when compared to foot units is good because it’s just forced that way, and what makes them weaker when compared to foot units is two but can be three things: 1. They have the horse weakness. 2. They can’t move well in certain terrain. and a possible 3. They normally have lower resistance then foot units.

  3. I didn’t say Canto in the GBA games should be removed everywhere just when rescuing a unit if the rescuer doesn’t have the Skill Savior, that will prevent mounts from being useful for rescuing units.

In answer to your thread, this and the thing on mounts I mentioned in my thread are how I would rebalance mounts, for now anyway.

It would be interesting for Horseslayers and Zanbato to be more… common and have better stats. Like Zanbato has high weight and low accuracy and normally it’s sword vs lance like ???. Having Horseslayers being Steel tier, with maybe less weight and damage with more accuracy so they actually hit would be nice. As well as bumping their popularity.

Having Armor Knight only weapons to slay them is also interesting. In my older hack I used Thunder Magic to spook horses (it’s thunder boooooo spooky booooo). So all thunder magic and thunder elemental weapons were supereffective vs horses.


I changed to raise the CON in Swiftsole. (MOV+1, CON+2)
The more you use Swiftsole, the more difficult it is to use Mounted Unit.
This is especially true for games that have Capture.

The unmounted unit makes it easier to capture the unit if the CON rises.
Conversely, for a mounted unit, if the CON rises, it will be difficult to capture the unit.
//There are also items to reduce the CON in case the Player thinks the CON has been raised too much.

I also place heavy weapons on the powerful weapons late in the game.
To use a powerful weapon, you need to raise the CON, but if you raise the CON on mounted unit, you will encounter the above problem.

Therefore, until the middle of the game, the mounted unit is very powerful, but at the end of the game, the positions change.
Under this rule, Ultimately, Unmounted units have an advantage over Mounted units.

Mounting and dismounting.

You disconnect being mounted with specific classes and stats and it becomes solely a movement mechanic which is easier to balance.

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2: A flat attack increase makes ALL player units weaker in comparison. Not just cavaliers. I have already said this.
3: A decrease in stats is NEEDED to keep them from barging through enemy phase with no repercussions. Mounted units should be geared more towards player phase utility, not enemy-phase combat. without stat penalties, they can essentially do anything a foot unit can, but better. Being “forced” is a dumb argument, given how many things are essentially “forced” in FE anyways. If anything, this actually gives the player more options, because they can actually use foot units without the knowledge that “fOoT uNiTs ArE sUbOpTiMaL” hanging over their heads constantly. The horse weakness exists, but it means nothing when IS never uses it for anything and your mounted units can ORKO most things at 1-2 range anyways. Same goes for terrain. Most physical units have low resistance anyways, and mages are rarer in most instances so as not to piss off the player.
4: Okay, but the point still stands: Why would you do this? Rescue-trains are the most unique feature that mounted units have. It’s incredibly useful for ferrying units without wasting turns. We’re rebalancing them, not stripping them of their individuality as units. You’d have to be higher than me to do this (and I literally just got out of a surgery, so I’m pretty freakin’ high right now.)

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Thank you for raising this topic! I had thought of two solutions that I think are pretty interesting, but I didn’t know where to post them until now.

I think that the best way to balance a mounted unit is to just make them more realistic. This can be done in three ways: by limiting their versatility, Buffing horse slaying arts, skills, and weapons, and by debuffing the dismount ability.

  1. limiting versatility

I recommend making mounted units into glass cannons by encouraging them to use momentum-based combat.

Recommended Formula: For every space a mounted unit moves, add +1 to Attack, Hit%, Avoid%, Critical%, and Dodge%. If the mounted unit is unable to use a follow-up attack, the bonus is doubled.

This way, mounted units would lose one of their main uses would be a lot better to turtle with an armor knight or a dodge tank foot soldier.

  1. Buffing horse slaying arts, skills, and weapons.

They aren’t scary enough. They should get an additional crit% and crit damage bonus against horse units.

  1. Debuffing the dismount ability.

I find it way too convenient that mounted units can simply mount and dismount without any consequences. When dismounting, the horse should remain on the map and the dismounted unit should have to guard it. If the horse dies, the dismounted unit is stuck, until they buy or steal a new one.

Incentivize the use of maximum movement range, buff horse slaying, and make them have to protect their horses when dismounted.

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