For me, the best way to play this game is to:
In the community, expert players will do stuff like:
And you will often read comments such as:
As if you should feel guilty about doing something fun with your play time. However, you should learn to not care, and play the game the way you want to enjoy it. My two cents.
I don't enjoy grinding in any game, except this one. The reason being that you can not grind infinitely, there are caps (even though it takes time to reach them). Also items break, so even if you get the best weapons, eventually they need to be replaced. This puts much more emphasis on gold efficiency than other games. This journey of leveling up characters you like in the most efficient manner possible is fun and rewarding.
Other games purely based on grinding like Diablo or Disgaea actually fail at making their core grinding mechanic fun. Random items and map generation is not the answer. For the grind to be painless, it must be engaging. To feel engaged, some level of decision making is required, and that's why tactics games are better in my opiniion: you have a bit more time to weight your decisions.
There is some luck involved but Fire Emblem punishes tactical oversights very easily. Not losing a single unit on the way to unlock Lyon in Hard Mode can be a real challenge and despite my best efforts I have yet to do it playing normally (note that I forbid usage of Hammerne and sacred twins). I always miscalculate something at some point, sigh...
This game would be much better if it was not so story/fantasy driven. For example, the core gameplay is so good that you can envision an open map, where your goal is simply to conquer territory.
Also there are clearly broken classes like the lich, and some emblems like Don Quichotte are just no fun. The biorythm is a completely obscure mechanic that can be important, and Deneb is basically a hack...
The whole design feels like a bunch of gimmicks put together without much care for consistancy (very similar to Heroes of Might and Magic). A holistic approach would feel better.
Basically, this game can only be played once, because you can not enjoy its mechanics without dealing with story elements. And even then the game itself is imbalanced and the AI is not challenging.
I enjoy the law system, the jail and the permadeath that occurs in a lawless zone. This makes sense thematically and feels good gameplay wise. Skippable cutscenes, level or stat caps, permadeath and the game would be great.
I have been playing this game on and off for almost ten years now. More maps or a map editor would be great. But I don't like the mods, especially since I ever saw GhebFE...
I don't like the secret shops and the cards. Although I feel like, they are okay (unlike Deneb). It is something you can easily miss, and once you know about them, you have to optimize around that, which takes away from the game instead of enhancing it.
The goal of a composition is build a team with good supports for every character. It should also cover the weapon/magic triangles for damage sources, but also healing, tanking, rescuing and lockpicking. Mobility is important, always include a few horses and a flyer.
* Eirika (Great Lord) * L'arachel (Valkyrie) * Eiphraim (Great Lord) * Tana (Wyvern Knight) Gilliam (General) Moulder (Bishop) Colm (Rogue) * Neimi (Ranger) Artur (Bishop) Lute (Sage) Ross (Berserker) Garcia (Warrior)
Note that since Neimi can support Gilliam, you can leave the last quator on the bench (less units to train). This gives:
Eirika is not a fighter in my book, unlike her brother. She can be okay at lower difficulties, and you need to rely on her unique weapon to make her work. Therefore, I use Eirika as an extra Rogue, with the supply convoy, she has permantly access to torches and lockpicks.
Not much to say about this silly girl, L'Arachel. Having an expert staff user (since she can not become a bishop) is nice. Her party is fun though (they are literally trolling during the story) but Dozla and Rennac, while having good classes, do not have the stats to make them usable.
The mighty Eiphraim, he gets so strong lategame, and paired with Tana (same weapons), they wreak havoc in the frontlines. He gets the Hoplon Guard (can receive critical hits).
Tana is the main heavy hitter (besides Ross). So much speed, she dodges everything, and unlike Cormag, she can take some magic damage without actually dying. She gets the Fili Shield (prevents vulnerability to arrows). Between Wyvern and Pegasus, it's up to preference but pierce is maybe better than the sword (except when you go against a Cyclops I guess, sigh).
General Gilliam is slow, and will be lagging behind everyone until he gets the swift soles. He is vulnerable to magic, but has so many hitpoints, he can still hold his own for a while. It's also possible to make him a Great Knight but then you have to watch for things like Horseslayer (on top of the heavy armor weakness).
The main healer Moulder is sturdy. He is reliable, and does not die as easily as the other healers. All around good. His constitution also allows him the use of the heaviest magic tomes without attack speed loss, which can be handy at times.
Stealing, scouting, dodging, Colm has everything except fighting strength. He does crit a lot, but a sword's might is so low, and he does not have the strength to compensate... so anything remotely armored and you can't fight with him, unless you make him an assassin ?!
Neimi is the main bow user. As a ranger, the horse makes her so much more useful, since bows are a bit bad in a game focused on enemy phase. Her pairing with Colm is a no brainer in every playthrough. She hits hard on player phase, double hit with a good chance to crit.
Natural Ice affinity combined with Anima from Lute and you are looking at a very strong magic tank. Add slayer from Bishop on top of Light magic's higher critical rate, and Artur is an endgame powerhouse.
Lute is the anima user. She does a lot of damage, and Fire is less expensive than Light until Bishops come into play. As a Sage, she can use Light tomes in the endgame versus Gorgons, otherwise she risks being one-shot (dodge or die).
My favorite character is Ross. Just seeing the boy grow into a Berserker is pure joy, with the added benefit of mountain and water walking. Not very durable, but when it's time to deal some serious damage, Ross is boss. Axes are also versatile and inexpensive.
I don't have much love for Garcia, because the Fighter's animation is awkward. He does not feel great until promoted and supported. So, between Hero and Warrior, Warrior is the obvious choice. Bows are strong against Dracozombies, and with his strength and crit (Ross support), he can hurt them pretty bad.
It's also possible to go Warrior Ross and Hero Garcia. This setup is a bit tankier (Ross gets more defense) and more flexible (Garcia can handle sword users), while retaining the bow as a backup weapon.
This composition can use more units, but that's a lot of grinding to train them all. Every team has a thief (Eirika, Colm, Marisa). Here we delay training the kids (Amelia, Ross, Ewan) until much later. So there will be no competition over the Ocean Seal, it goes to Colm. We also include every available Bishop.
* Eirika (Lord, Sword) * Seth (Paladin, Lance) Natasha (Bishop, Light) Knoll (Summoner, Dark) * Duessel (Knight, Axe) * Ephraim (Lord, Lance)
Having Seth in the roster accelerates the early game, because you don't care how much experience he steals from other units. Also you can use either Lord for supply convoy. Knoll brings summons and staves.
* Vanessa (Wyvern, Lance) Moulder (Bishop, Light) Colm (Rogue, Sword) * Neimi (Ranger, Bow) Artur (Bishop, Light) Lute (Sage, Anima)
Vanessa, Artur and Neimi are the heavy hitters, but Moulder and Lute are still strong. Most units will be able to dodge everything consistantly. Tomes are heavy for Lute, so she has to stick with the basic ones (Anima being lighter than Light, lol).
Ross (Berserker, Axe) Amelia (General, Axe) Ewan (Sage, Light) Tethys (Dancer, [Staff]) Marisa (Assassin, Sword) * Gerik (Ranger, Sword)
This group lacks a bishop, but brings Axe and Sword special skills. Hero Gerik would not contribute to anything here. He will be worse at using either the sword or the axe than Marisa and Ross. Therefore he has to go Ranger for more mobility and the option of using a bow. This is a replica of the Neimi/Colm duo.
General Amelia is best, since we didn't pick Gilliam earlier. Also she can share axes with Ross (most cost efficent weapon based on price, damage and durability). I like the Paladin Amelia/Warrior Ross duo because on paper they bring every weapon with only two characters, but we already explained why Gerik has to be a Ranger, and we don't want multiple bow users.
Lastly, Ewan can go either Druid or Sage. As a Druid can heal himself during fights. But Light is strong against Dark so... Sage is okay. Either way he always has Anima as backup (when there are no dark magic users around obviously).