Fire Emblem - Hardcore

This may serve as a big ole advertisement for Fire Emblem (Gameboy Advance). I played through the “normal” difficulty to unlock “hard”, and have restarted with Diablo-like “hardcore” rules: namely, no restarting chapters, and if I ever get a “Game Over” screen (from losing one of the main characters) I erase all data and start over.

I’m currently on attempt #10. I somehow opened a side quest* I’ve never seen before (16x, where the pirates challenge me to get a free ride from them). Halfway through the mission, some Black Fang horsemen show up; most of my gang is taking the “quiet route” to the north suggested by a villager, but I leave Marcus and Matthew behind to guard Merlinus’ tent.

Marcus is a very tough hombre, so I decide to lure a few enemies toward him. However, the entire enemy army charges at once, led by the Black Fang leader, who does a critical attack for 33 points on Marcus, who has 34 HP. Marcus is now down to 1 HP, and my northern group is two turns away from making it to the pirate leader and ending the mission. I retreat Marcus as far as possible and use a vulnerary to bring him to 11 HP. I put Matthew in front of him as a sacrifice, since the Black Fang leader could otherwise reach Marcus.

The BF leader attacks Matthew and misses despite a 70% to-hit and a 35% critical strike. The rest of the army pours in behind him. I use Marcus to kill the BF leader on my turn, and put Matthew to his side to block off the flank. It looks good… but on the enemy’s next turn, a unit with a Killer Axe attacks Marcus (who is using a lance) and kills him. Matthew survives the attacks on him, and my other group reaches the pirate leader.

RIP - Marcus, killed on level 16x by a pirate

Now I face the pirate ship level without Marcus, who till this point has been the only unit who could possibly generate any offense against the horde of mages that attack the ship. I anticipate an entirely defensive posture, although on 16x I met a brand new unit (the “scholar”) who might do really well. Without Marcus, however, I fear that I’m heading for attempt #11.

I wonder if anyone else plays Fire Emblem hardcore, so that every KIA or WIA unit really really matters.

  • Anyone know how I opened this side quest? The level just before is 16, and takes place in a castle where Lucius is being held prisoner. As an aside, my first time through the game I was able to recruit Lucius, but I have not been able to do it since.

Whoa, well, if I remember the amount might depend what difficulty level you’re playing on, but you have to save the soldiers who are locked in the prison at the start of 16, and not just Raven and Lucius.

Getting Lucius is easy, you simply get Raven and then have Raven talk to Lucius in the same map. You do remember how to get Raven, right?

Are you going to play Hector’s campaign, or have you already done so?

There are people who have completed this game only attacking the boss characters and not losing anyone in a one-day marathon streak, so yeah, people play it hardcore. ;) I hate to sound snobby, but the GBA Fire Emblems are really easy compared to their console counterparts. Here I was worried that people would be turned off how easy the game was, and its the opposite. Like I’ve said before, I think its because we’re really used to this game’s knacks and idiosyncracies over the last six games that makes the difference, much like the Mario games are pretty challenging the first time you play them, but are extremely easy every time afterward.

I have a similar worry about Shin Megami Tensei III, there are a lot of random battles in that game and I hear Atlus put a new difficulty level that makes them much easier to the point of boring, but will give players choices between that and the harder difficulty level. I hope people don’t get turned off by the extreme difference and there’s some middle ground to ease players in. It would be a shame if a wonderful debut of a masterpiece like MegaTen III was ruined by messing too much with the difficulty until the balance pissed people off. Hopefully, like Fire Emblem, I have nothing to worry about.


Ah! This time, I saved 2 of the 3 imprisoned soldiers; that must have triggered the side quest. When I played on “normal”, I probably saved all 3 because it was so easy to beat.

I must have done it in “normal”, but I don’t remember how. This time, I tried talking to Raven using Eliwood and Hector, and I know I’ve used Lyn before too, but none of them work. I should stop skipping the storyline, I guess!

I wanted to, but it only lets me do it on “normal” difficulty, and that was sorta boring. Should I play it?

I can’t imagine they can do this in “hard” mode. Do they?

In order to get Raven: remember the map where the general’s snotty little brat of a son gets left behind as cannon fodder so his daddy can escape with the Black Fang? If you don’t remember, then its the one where you start on the far right and there’s the fort lying under the mountains to the east and pirates eventually attack from the south. There was a woman being harassed and you got her on your side by having Erk talk to her? She should be in a town to the southwest of the fort if I remember correctly and the pirates will aim for her. I can’t remember her name, but she’s needed to get Raven.

And yes, they do it on hard mode. I know a lot of people don’t play it any other way once it opens up, simply because the easier mode isn’t conceived as as much fun. Hector’s campaign is a little harder than Eliwood’s anyway and there are some subtle tweaks and surprises if you think you can depend on the same strategies. Some of the maps differ and I believe there are two or so hidden maps that are only available in his campaign. One way or another, there are essentially some new maps to play amongst his campaign, so you’ll be a missing a few small chunks of the entire game unless you do.

To give you an idea why, the game before the GBA titles appear, 1999’s Thracia 776, was so difficult, its rumored that no one has ever been able to max out the rankings (the ones that say how well you did on a mission). When you make a game that no one has ever mastered, then you know you have a difficult game. :P


Gotcha… it’s Priscilla, a healer. I really should stop skipping over the story, since I can’t remember it well enough from my first run-through.

Do you know a URL of a walkthrough for this method of play? Cuz I still don’t believe it! :shock:

No, there isn’t one in English that I know of, and even then, most of what little info is posted is on kouryaku boards and in play diaries, 90% of which disappear along the sites that host them a few months after the game’s release and people have moved on. I do know Famitsu has a series of articles in how to win the game is at little turns as possible, but you’ve have to order back issues and know how to read Japanese.

If you want to try it though, here are some hints for when I attempted it:

-Before you start choose a circle of characters you want to concentrate on and organize them by what kind of support levels they can get with each other. A character than support 2 different characters in the group you’ve chosen is ideal, but not necessary, arrange it by how much it adds to their critical hit percentage, not on how much defense they have.

-Also arrange these characters in a ladder so that when you get the newer characters as the scenario goes on (you can easily win against the earlier bosses, say until chapter 12, with only 2 or 3 characters), by weapon effectiveness and range, archers are more important than you might think, despite their lack of ability to hurt most bosses. Make sure, that in any circle of at least three characters you take against the boss, at least one won’t be able to be hit either high defense, range or weapon compatibility.

-Do not attack anyone else, use all your other characters to lure away enemies, but don’t attack them. Depending on the map, either ride the chosen characters to the boss as quickly as possible (really, you should need no more than four for the entire game), or move them in support links, so their ranks look like this every time a turn ends:



And so on. Like Tetris blocks. Depending on what the terrain looks like and how fast you want characters to gain support levels.

-When you reach the boss, take out unmoving henchman, again not by attacking them, but by attacking the boss in a rotating circle of people who don’t take heavy losses from such attacks and within the range of the unmoving henchman. You’ll gain levels so quickly against the high level bosses that the henchman’s attacks will eventually make them commit a kind of suicide against you.

-Never, ever class change one of your chosen characters until they’ve reached level 20.

-Arrange all the other characters you’ve brought with one defending a choke point and all the others, ready to either rescue a chosen character and bring them around to the boss, or having healing herbs to use or pass on. For an extra challenge, don’t give them weapons at all and just healing herbs. For an extra extra challenge, don’t bring them to support your chosen characters, just play chicken with the other units to lead them around the map and keep them alive.

-Attack the boss with a weak weapon if you want to gain levels, but have each of your chosen characters attack with a rare weapon in quick succession when you actually want to kill the boss/things are getting dangerous. Since you’re only attacking the boss, you’ll have more than enough uses to last you the entire game.

That’s basically it. In order to train to try this:

-Try bringing in less units than is necessary each time, by a factor of 3 to 6 and win the map with those fewer units, without losing anyone. Doing it on normal or hard, doesn’t matter.

-Go into the multiplayer room and select units to fight against each other, making combinations of your weapons and characters until you know intimately what kinds of percentages to expect against different level differences, by neglecting characters.

-Fight at the arena as much as you can, since it involves much the same strategies.

-Go through a couple of maps without ever using any curative items, kill all your healers and charge through.

-Save at various points in the scenarios and then practice using Nils, Florina and Matthew with land mines to practice trapping enemy units into killing themselves.

By the time you get to say Chapter 19 and 20, the support levels for your chosen characters should start showing up and you’ll get some of the really powerful rare weapons, and your characters will no longer will be lacking in levels compared to the boss, often over his. It gets really easy from them on as you attack in combos and kill the boss in one turn with critical support hits.

Of course, this strategy ignores some of the principal requirements of the challenge, it was just a practice campaign that I used, but I got through the game just fine on hard this way. I’m sure you can think of quite a few strategies that might be valid, but I gave up trying on this around the time I got Ratchet & Clank and Disgaea last summer, so…

Hey! I never I had done it, just that people have. I don’t think I’ve come across any challenge movies or DVDs for this game, (you know like the ones that come with the cheap version of Shinobi?) but if I do, I’ll let you know the details.


I definitely don’t want to try it, because I enjoy trying to beat everyone on the level and enjoy painful decisions (e.g. should I let Matthew die so that I can explore the arena and unvisited houses on the 16x level mentioned in my original post?). However, I definitely was interested in reading your last post! Thank you for providing the details of your attempts to beat just the bosses. I am now a little bit more of a believer!

I didn’t go hardcore and quit when I hit a Game Over screen, but I DID play the entire Eliwood campaign (on normal) and took whatever I got. Someone died…I kept going. Never restarted to get a character back.


BTW, your first mistake was using Marcus - that guy is a giant EXP sinkhole - he gets jack squat for killing enemies because he’s already promoted, and he prevents your other characters that need the EXP from getting stronger as a result.

Oh, and that “scholar guy” is Canas, arguably the strongest, or at the very least, the most useful, spellcaster in the game. He’s the only dark magic user you get, and especially in Hard mode, you’re going to need a powerful dark caster to take care of bosses (hint: Luna).

I played “normal” mode that way, and it was a lot of fun. Over a dozen of my characters were KIA or WIA. I suppose it wasn’t fun for them.

I’ve tried not using Marcus, but I need him in certain hairy situations where without him, other characters would probably die. I don’t use him to attack if at all possible because of the EXP suck you mention.

Oh ok, that makes sense. I know in general I used Marcus without weapons, just so he could meat-shield for my other characters with less chance of getting an accidental counterattack kill.

See, that’s the sort of thing that explains why I find “hard” mode to actually BE hard. I never thought to de-equip a character of all weapons. Instead, I kept looking around for something wimpy, like perhaps a Popsicle Stick, to give to Marcus so he wouldn’t kill so many enemies.

Haha, stupid Marcus. Definitely build up Canas, though - he can become an absolute monster, and can practically 1-shot crit-hit kill even late-game bosses with Luna.

Plus he’s a BABE!

Um, riiight. Ursula and Vaida are probably my two favorite female characters from the game, though.

I’m partial to Isadora. But seriously, Canas is hot.

I just wish I didn’t have to play Hector’s campaign through on Normal before getting the chance to play it on Hard.

To continue the story above: Last night, even without Marcus to lean on, I’m doing great on the Pirate Ship level (17), clearing the swordsman ship with Oswin plugging the bridge, and using a Light Rune to delay the swarm of mages from the left. I have Lowen, Eliwood, and Canas on the enemy boss ship with one turn to go. I could pull back and let the level end, or go after the boss. None of my little group of three can take down the boss with one attack, so the enemy boss will get at least one shot in on my first attacker. His critical hit percentage is at about 15% for all three characters… pretty low, but still a bit of a risk.

So what should I do? This is a fun decision. I worked so hard the entire level to have this chance, so how can I not take it? An 85% chance of success is worth it. I attack with Eliwood, since he has the slimmest chance of being hit with a critical counterattack (and since I really don’t want either Canas or Lowen to die). He connects with his rapier, and the enemy boss begins to counter with a Luna attack. A white circle spreads around the boss as he attacks, and I think, “I’ve never seen that before. Oh, crap…!” and Eliwood vanishes. Game over. Erase data, start again.

This time, at least, I will know how to get Ravan and Lucius!

Argh! Kitsune, you’re killing me with the talk of ultra-rare weapons as rewards for building up support levels!
I was stuck at my parents without a console last weekend and took up Fire Emblem again. I’ve been playing it non-stop since then and I’m now at chapter 23, but I’ve been ignoring the support aspects (except for one chance use between Hector and Eliwood)
Actually, I’m just online now to check out the benefits to leveling up Merlinus :)

No no, the support levels and ultra-rare weapons are not linked. It’s just that they both independently become available later on into the campaign.

  • Alan

Argh! Okay, I’ll try Hector’s campaign. I took Eliwood on Hard to level 19, where some late-arriving pegasus knights went after Merlinus. Instead of just letting Merlinus die, I tried to save him using nearby lightly armored units like Lyn and Matthew. A wounded pegasus attacked Lyn and hit, and Lyn’s counterattack killed it. The next pegasus hit Lyn, too, and Lyn killed it with a critical strike. Big mistake, Lyn! The last pegasus could now hit Lyn, and it killed her. Three 67% hits in a row by the pegasi, and a critical strike–bad luck for me.

I appreciate how something with an upside like critical strike percentage can also have such a downside. There’s a lot to think about in this game.