Stat Caps: to Kaga or not to Kaga?

Having played through a couple romhacks that emulate the ye olden days of Kaga-era, pre-GBA Fire Emblem, and looking back at Geneology and Thracia for ideas, I’ve been mulling around in my head how having 20 as promoted stat-caps across the board compares to the aggressively high caps of the Three Houses and FE9/10. It seems to me that it breaks down into some strong pros and cons in favor of 20 being the highest stat for non-HP, but I was curious what the vibe from the FE community was and how they felt

My Thoughts:
+The value of Bases and promotion gains is much more significant, a +2 to Strength on promotion is now a 20% boost in combat ability and represents anywhere from 2 to 5 levels of jump in viability
+Encourages early promoting- there’s a loss of 5 to 10 levels of potential stats, which could potentially hurt some endgame stats like hit points, but the benefits of capping, large stat bumps, and weapon ranks frequently outrank the costs
+Increases the value of passive stat buffs- more and more, I like seeing little bonuses on personal and legendary weapons to carve a stat based niche for characters, and with everyone having an even initial playing field of a max of 20, the flat bonuses stand out more on the relevant characters, without feeling like too much stat inflation

-Growth Units/Classes factor less into character design; Over a 20+ chapter rom-hack, the value of high growths and/or trainee classes seems less valuable and viable compared to a pre-invested character; its likely both the high base and the high growth character can reach 20 in their relevent stats, its just the formerr has less chance to be a liability and doesn’t need time to snowball to reach those same stat values
-Strategic Quagmire: This is more a personal problem then a design problem, but when everyone has 20 speed, its much harder to both strategize as a player and design a map as a designer where it doesn’t turn into some kind of bottle-neck or scrum where whoever has more units or healing to throw into the mix comes out on top. I’ll take the L on that one and just admit I need to think moer creatively and leverage more then raw stats when it comes to late game maps


The problem with everything capped at 20 is that classes that are normally dependent on a lot of one stat become sorta irrelevant as they will cap that stat too fast.
Examples are Armor Knights (hit 20 DEF too quickly and become too dependent on HP), Warrior (hits 20 STR too quickly and is basically unable to OHKO in the lategame when everything starts inflating HP), Thief/Swordmaster (hits 20 SPD too quickly, limiting their Avo and also hurting their doubling abilities in the lategame when everything gets faster due to being hurt by weight the most).
Some classes are dependent on excelling in some stat or another and putting a flat cap across the board leads to them being unable to use said stat well if at all.


So, in that case, “Quality” classes like paladins and sages that do a better job acting on both player phase and enemy phase and have less weaknesses, become even better compared to niche classes like weapon master classes, dps classes, or dodgy-utility classes?
I hadn’t considered that, that is an interesting point

Yeah in this case spreading out your stats is generally better because you will not “waste” stats as fast. Dumping too much in one stat creates good/decent performance but a hard-fall off strictly due to the stat caps being hostile to their design.

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So what about creating a niche for those kind of characters? The first idea that comes to mind is for damage oriented characters, like weapon master classes, you almost always se a flat crit bonus on promotion. If that’s, say, a +30, does that help them carve a niche where they can compensate for lower skill and strength caps, or does that create a bigger RNG fest since luck is also lower?

Likewise, what about class specific skills and weapons to de-lineate? Like, a thief knife that buffs avoid or luck, or a a dancer totem that gives a flat rally effect just by carrying it, or a warrior axe that gets +5 damage on offense? Does that open up the niche classes viability, or is that just over-complicating a simpler solution?

The main advantage I see brought up for 20 stat caps is that it prevents units from spiralling out of control and being able to solo large portions of the game. In my opinion, there are much better ways to do this without running into the problems mentioned by those above. Here is how I would go about it:

1 - Keep growths low. If growth rates are kept in the range of 250-300 for growth units and 200-250 for pre-promotes, this greatly reduces the chance of characters having insanely high stats and shortens the range of possible stat values the developer can expect from each unit towards the endgame.

2 - Reduce availability of stat boosters. Having too many stat boosters allows the player to funnel them all into one juggernaut unit.

3 - Try to avoid creating “all-rounder” units. Each unit having a weakness means the player will have to use their entire team to patch up other units’ weaknesses. A hero is prevented from soloing a map due to their mediocre resistance, a general due to its low speed, a mage due to its low bulk, etc.


Imo, if you gonna Kaga, go the Berwick way and have super low growth/caps and stat bracketing.

Otherwise go the Fates way with stat caps around 30 depending on class and unit.


Galzus is the logical conclusion of this (when comparing him to other units trained to 20/20). While he joins in the lategame as a Gotoh, the reason he is a strong unit is because he isn’t solely dependent on his 20 SPD or 20 SKL to be the logical conclusion of the Swordmaster or Hero archetype. Taking away his proc skills, his STR is also capped, which your other Heroes will not do unless they are trained a lot, and he also has 14 DEF (3 less than Xavier at base), 54 HP (more than anyone else in the game) and 18 CON (only the Devil Axe weighs him down). He is fast and accurate, but he is NOT squishy, nor is he dependent on his proc skills to kill things, as 20 STR and a double is more than enough to ORKO basically anything in the lategame.

Meanwhile (with Galzus’ proc skills removed)…

  • Machua caps SPD at Lv17 or 14/1, but at Lv17, that 8.5 STR is nowhere near getting up fast enough. At 20/20 she is just a worse Galzus, period.
  • 20/1 Dalsin has 19.5 STR, 18 DEF and 14 SKL, all of which are great, if only his 7.75 SPD will actually double. He hits 20 SKL at 20/16, but 12.5 SPD at 20/20 is doing him no favors.
  • Karin caps SPD at a mere Lv10, and LCK at Lv13, but all her other stats simply can’t catch up. Even at 20/1, her 11.7 STR and 5.95 CON is not helping her case at all. Even at 20/20, while her STR has caught up at 17.4, 10.7 DEF and 38.9 HP do her no favors for tanking, nor will that 6.9 CON keeping her SPD at a consistent 16-18.

The point is that there are lots of people who are stat specialists who can ram 20 or approach it very quickly, but they can’t really do anything exceptional with it without good or high stats elsewhere.


I was thinking Growths and bases would be a significant part of if this is a good or bad idea, since yeah, a character that can cap strength/speed/skill faster breaks the intended balance, So I suppose, yeah, you look at like how a high growth unit from FE1 to FE5 would have, say a couple 50% growths and a single stat with a 70% chance, and overall only 250-280 total growths vs, like, Ogma clone number 4, who shows up with 10 strength, 12 speed, 10 defense, and 11 skill and immediately beats face in chapter 5 or 6

My gripe is that really, really funnels character design; like, in a meta, tier-list sense, with 20 caps, the guy with a scar who only needs to level speed 3 or 4 times and promote vs the tiny wizard girl who will cap speed if you level her 10 or so times… I mean, who do you choose?

In my opinion, having all stats cap at 20 could encourage upgrading your weapon tiers throughout the game if its a bit of a lengthy experience (I.e, retire using Iron weapons mid-late game for Steel swords, then retiring Steel weapons late in the game for Blades. Like how the Tellius games are). Kind of adding another layer of strategy later in the game. So if you plan on having a high amount of weapons, go for it! Though as you pointed out before, it can have its shortcomings.


20 stat caps are pretty gross imo, they just standardize unit stats too much so it ends up just being a movement contest. Why make a fast class when any class can be equally fast anyway? It’s just a stupid system imo.


+The value of Bases and promotion gains is much more significant, a +2 to Strength on promotion is now a 20% boost in combat ability and represents anywhere from 2 to 5 levels of jump in viability

This really applies more to low growths/general stat deflation than it does to low caps. +2 in Strength on promotion means a lot when it normally takes 5 levels to get one point of strength, while if you gain Strength every level, that +2 doesn’t mean much regardless – if anything, low caps would make it less meaningful with high growths because you’ll ram the cap anyways regardless of the promo gain.

Base stats will always matter, but the extent to which they matter over growths is related to how quickly units can grow – how fast a unit with lower bases but better growths can catch up – not so much to what their theoretical maximum potential is.

+Encourages early promoting- there’s a loss of 5 to 10 levels of potential stats, which could potentially hurt some endgame stats like hit points, but the benefits of capping, large stat bumps, and weapon ranks frequently outrank the costs

Early promoting is always a tradeoff of short-term power vs long-term power, and if you want to encourage early promoting, low growths again come to mind before low stat caps, since if your growths are low you won’t get much out of those extra few levels anyway. Meanwhile, while knowing “this unit will hit their caps regardless” can play into the decision to early promote, it’s far, far less important than considering the value of the immediate boost in performance vs the cut in EXP gain. A unit who promotes early, assuming EXP is cut after promotion, will take longer to improve past that point, even if they still eventually hit their caps, because their EXP gain gets reduced. So it’s a tradeoff of “unit gets better immediately but slows down how much they get better from there”. Planning around stat caps is rarely a factor in deciding whether to early promote, unless you’re in a situation where you’ve already capped a stat and want to promote to un-cap it, a situation which only occurs if stat caps increase on promotion.


There is a very real risk of, when all units have the same stat caps, all units becoming functionally the same towards the end of the game, since “the fast unit” and “the strong unit” and “the bulky unit” all end up with 20/20/20 regardless. Unless growths aren’t high enough to hit caps in the first place, in which case, why do the caps matter to begin with? In most FE games, caps don’t matter, because units don’t usually hit them, and/or don’t need to hit them to accomplish the stat benchmarks they need.

Basically, I think what you’re really arguing for is generalized stat deflation, where stats, especially growths, across the board are lower, making each other non-growths method of gaining stats more valuable and making the difference of a few points more relevant (+2 strength when everyone has 5 is a lot more of a difference than +2 strength when everyone has 10). A game with deflated stats can have lowered caps, but caps really don’t play into it much, it’s much more about the lowered growths.

In general, stat caps are just such an irrelevant thing in the vast majority of situations. There’s no benefit to “being capped”. There being a hard limit to how much a unit can grow doesn’t really change much until you’re far enough into the game to reach it, past which point it just leads to stagnation of a unit’s performance.

If you want base stats and promotion gains and statboosters and stat-boosting skills to matter more and want to limit how much a unit can snowball in power by overleveling, lower growths, not caps.

Meanwhile, if you’re going to design your game in a way where units actually hit their caps, those caps should be different for different units/classes, so that “the fast unit” is still actually faster in the end, “the strong unit” is still actually stronger, etc.


I guess I considered stat deflation and lower stat caps as synonymous and interchangeable, but that’s more what I was thinking yeah, especially compared to console emblem, with stats like 40 max speed before any static buffs and 90 hit points/multiple health bars on late game bosses.

My thought process was that, if hit 20 speed was a big deal for your archer or myrmidon or mage, and their relevant promotions, and only late in the game do you start seeing 20 strength and defense on both sides, then the relevance of your stats and the readability of character curves and tracking the value of weapon might and stats is a smoother experience

It is a good point that even on a high base character, like an Ogma archetype, then they really lean on those bases, and when you promote them and they suddenly are leveling at half pace compared to your growth units, then the immediate power jump isn’t relevant when their competition for deployment levels 3 or 4 times to their 1 and picks up those states that are gained from promotion.

some real food for thought to chew on


My knee jerk reaction would be max it sky high because I love that RPG sense of achievement. I also think here that a stat or a level cap needs to take into account the length of campaign that you intend to design. If you plan for a longer campaign and 50% of your characters are able to reach max stats or close to it, too early in the campaign you will lose a sense of accomplishment and achievement.


Lower stat caps, especially a flat 20 for each class, has the potential to lead to homogenous units. But having some variance between caps will always help units feel different (I think Tear Ring Saga has varied caps by class, but the highest a non-luck/HP stat ever gets is 25).

Juggernauting is also less of a problem with lower caps since evasion and defense can only go so high. But this is also affected by map design when enemy’s are too sparse or poorly equipped.
I would lean towards lower caps because I think it’s easier to design around, understanding what kind of units a player may be working with.


FE’s damage formula is vulnerable to inflation, so too large CAPS will have a greater negative impact.
That said, it is sad to see units not grow.

It seems to me that when we talk about CAPS, we should also talk about damage formulas.
I think it would be a bit more compatible if the damage formula included division, like in other games.