It doesn't take a lot of thought to realize that Archers and Snipers are the worst class in Fire Emblem. Anything they do is done better by any other class. Their primary gimmick is that they attack from a space away instead of up close, allowing them to avoid counter attacks from enemies. However, this trait becomes useless when hand axes, javelins, and magic are introduced to not only allow other classes to attack from a range, but also attack up close at the same time, preventing them from leaving themselves open. The other use archers have is that their weapon, bows, is strong against flying units. Okay, that's nice. Except one thing, Pegasus Riders already have poor durability, and when weighed down by their weapons, even the Fighter class is capable of doubling them. Wyvern Riders on the other hand are already weak to magic, so what's the point?

FE13 seems to have completely forgotten that Archers even exist; the combat system so heavily favors wiping the enemy out on enemy phase with 1-2 range weapons that it takes serious favoritism just so your archer can even keep up with the rest of the team.

However, there is still hope for the Archer class. After playing DLuna's Sword of Seals Redux, Fire Emblem 3: Mystery of the Emblem, and Midnight Sun I came to realize numerous ways to help out our melee-challenged friends.

Let's start with FE3, since it's the easier to explain. Aside from bows, your only physical ranged options are Hand Axes, Javelins, and Levin Swords. The former two are absolutely awful, and the latter is extremely rare. To give you some perspective, Hand Axes and Javelins have a weight of TWENTY, and in FE3, that means you have 0 Attack Speed, no matter how fast you are. They're okay weapons in the beginning of the game where most of your enemies are slow, but later on? Pssh! Not a chance. Levin Swords deal poor, magic-based damage, and are basically nullified by any mage or bishop in the game, so they're situational too.

So what about Mages? Well their durability is pretty much non-existant, and their magic stat and weapon might are both pretty low, making them nearly useless against enemy mages and Bishops. Meanwhile, I found that Kashim could kill these enemies with ease, sometimes in a single hit from his mighty Silver Bow.

Lastly, the game has perhaps the most devastating dragon riders in the entire series. In Book 2, Chapter 2, you fight three of these guys, and even your Jeigan can barely damage them. Meanwhile your archers cut through them like butter because of the nice Might x Three effectiveness going on in the game (Unlike the English FE7...). On a lesser point, the game also has Flying Dragons, who get obliterated by bows.

The problem with Mystery of the Emblem is that archers with good base stats and growths are hard to come by. If you want to use one, your best bet is Kashim, who has astonishing strength, but paper thin defenses and merely okay speed. I imagine if archers got better stats, they'd be a huge boon in the game.

As for Sword of Seals Redux, things are handled differently. We still have that nice 3x Effectiveness, and dear god will you need it against the Falcon Knights in the Ilia route, but the game gives you some really good archers. Wolt starts with 12 speed, and can deal serious damage to pretty much everything. Additionally, archers have 6 movement instead of 5, allowing them to find more opportunities to attack. Most bows are improved, longbows are more prominent, and Ballistae have far more durability. It's hard to find opportunities where you won't like having an archer on your team, especially when the wyvern-infested late-game rears it's ugly head.

Sword of Seals Redux also did the exact opposite of what FE13 did. Instead of making you want to kill multiple enemies through counter attacks on enemy phase, you want to avoid giving the enemy a chance to attack you at all costs. Not only are they numerous, but they have high skill, and axes and lances got a boost in accuracy, so even your fast, dodgey swordmasters are going to take hits frequently. With this system, Archers become a very valuable asset to your team.

Lastly, we have Midnight Sun, which gave us the Royal Archer class, occupied by Rya. This class has the ability to wield magic arrows that attack the enemy's resistance stat, making this the only class that can attack both defense and resistance without relying on a rare weapon such as the Light Brand. A nice feature that pretty much ensures the archer will almost always be doing meaningful damage.
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markyjoe1990

July 2014

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