Fire Emblem Awakening character guide

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Welcome to my brief guide to the characters of Fire Emblem Awakening. This is an amazing game with a huge roster of characters. Many of them come to you in the course of the main story, but others require you to complete special objectives to meet and recruit them. One of the game’s interesting mechanics is the presence of time-travelling kids from the future who you can recruit by shipping their parents in the present day. Pretty much all of the offspring characters are exceptionally powerful and so giving them ratings is a little pointless; they can all pretty much end up as 10/10. Moreover, there are lots of guides out there already designed to help you max out your team and get the most powerful units possible (such as this one).

In contrast, this guide is a more general overview of the main cast of characters. Because of Awakening’s mechanics, you can generally level up your characters as much as you want, meaning everyone can be useful and there are no downright ‘bad’ characters. However, some require much more work than others, and some are more inherently ‘fun’. This guide attempts to reflect that.

Chrom: 8/10

The main character of the game, Chrom’s default class is ‘Lord’ although he has access to other classes as well. Chrom is useful throughout the game and has good offensive stats and skills/abilities. However, his defense can be a bit lacking, meaning he’s not always the best unit to leave in harm’s way. Nevertheless he’s a fun character to use, which is a good job as you’ll have to use him in pretty much every mission.

Chrom’s main marriage options are a female Avatar or Sumia, both of whom make for very good support partners. In the long run, though, you will probably find Chrom is outshone by many other characters, including his daughter, the other ‘Lord’, Lucina.

Chrom is also very handsome, well-acted and written, and an all-round JRPG hunk.

Avatar: 9/10

The player-created Avatar starts off fairly weak but has enormous growth potential and a very high ceiling. The Avatar, who can be male or female, has access to almost all classes and to very high growth rates, meaning that by the mid and end-game they can be quite a beast. Also their child is basically the strongest character in the game as far as I can tell, and there’s a lot of competition for that spot.

Because the Avatar can be male or female, it feels a bit more generic than other characters, but still has access to many entertaining support conversations and scenarios.

Frederick: 3/10

Frederick is this game’s Marcus, or Jeigan. That is to say, he is a pre-promoted character who is strong in the first few levels but doesn’t make efficient use of experience points. This was a big problem in older Fire Emblem games where you couldn’t grind optional fights to level. However, in Awakening you can fight as much as you want, meaning there is XP for everyone. So, you can use Frederick if you want, but you’ll probably find him to be an underwhelming character in the end.

Frederick is useful in the early levels for protecting teammates, and this is essential on higher difficulties where some of your characters are very fragile. But there are much better units out there to focus on.

Sumia: 8/10

Sumia is your first Pegasus Knight and a very useful character. She has high Speed, Skill, and Luck, and making her a Dark Flier seems like a good choice so she can get Galeforce, enabling her to move and attack twice in one turn. However her HP and strength are a bit low meaning she can be vulnerable, and all-round I found Cordelia to be a better Pegasus Knight. You’ll probably want to use them both.

Sumia is fun and her daughter, Cynthia, is also very entertaining and can become an absolute monster with the right abilities. Cynthia was the daughter of Sumia and Chrom in my playthrough and was the first character to hit the level cap.

Sumia is the default wife of Chrom and will probably end up marrying him in most playthroughs.

Lissa: 4/10

Lissa is Chrom’s sister, and an archetypal healer. Healing with staves is important in the early levels when your access to Vulneraries is quite limited. However later on you will find healing items easier to come by, and characters will find ways to regenerate their own HP, meaning healers are less important. You also don’t really want a roster slot taken up with a dedicated healer most of the time.

Lissa does have access to other classes but her offensive abilities are underwhelming unless you are prepared to put a lot of time into it. It’s probably not worth it in most situations, unless you’re doing an ironman playthrough and got all your other mages killed.

Vaike: 6/10

Vaike is your main axe user and a very entertaining character. He has some of the best voice lines, and often refers to himself in the third person as ‘The Vaike’, or as the nickname he gives himself (which nobody else uses), ‘Teach’.

Vaike is a good guy to have around in the early game, as his high HP makes him a bit tankier. He also has very high strength. However, later on you will find that his low defense means his +5 HP doesn’t help that much, and he can end up surprisingly squishy. What’s more, his low skill and speed means he will miss more often than you would like. It’s a shame, as although he is your main axe user you might not rely on him all that much.

Sully: 7/10

Sully is one of your two Cavaliers, or mounted knights. She is this game’s red knight, which in Fire Emblem terms means she is the more passionate of the two. Sully is useful early on for her high movement and relatively good skill and speed. Overall, I found her stat growth to be quite generic, and low defense and HP made her much less tanky than I want from a Cavalier.

However, after promoting her to a Great Knight, Sully became much more useful and I ended up using her more than Stahl, the green knight. Sully is also quite macho, leading to some entertaining conversations and skits. I married her to Vaike.

Stahl: 6/10

Stahl is Mr Average. He has higher HP and defense than Sully but will find it relatively hard to one-hit-kill enemies in the late game, and often finds it hard to ‘double’ enemies (attack twice in one turn). Much of his character development revolves around him being average at everything, which is not much of a complement. He’s likable enough, but not really worth investing in over better options. I married him to Miriel.

Miriel: 8/10

Miriel is arguably the best of the four mages you get in the main story, with fairly high magic. She is an ‘anima’ mage for the most part, meaning she uses the typical fire, thunder, and wind types. She is very squishy early on, but worth investing in as her magic can be devastating in the lategame. Even then, you won’t want her to leave undefended.

Miriel is an egghead and her conversations revolve around her obsession with study and her lack of social skills. Not a big fan of her personality so I married her to Stahl. Their son is a good mage but not that appealing to me as a character.

Maribelle: 4/10

Maribelle is a Troubador, ie, a mounted healer. This means she has better movement than Lissa but pays for it in slightly worse stats. Overall, she suffers for the same reasons as Lissa, in that dedicated healers aren’t really worth it in the long-run and her offensive capabilities are limited. If you really like her you’ll be able to find ways to use her, but most players will probably not bother.

Maribelle is a snob, and some of her skits and support conversations can be quite funny.

Ricken: 7/10

Ricken is a cheerful, earnest young mage who wants to learn about magic and show everyone what he can do–in other words a tropetastic anime character. He’s quite good, but probably has less magic damage than Miriel, and is also quite squishy. You won’t end up wanting to use both of them, but you won’t really go wrong with either of them. It’s down to personal preference really.

Kellam: 5/10

Kellam is your armoured knight. He is penalized by very low movement (worst in the game I think) but high defense and HP, and decent strength. However he has low speed and luck, meaning he will often miss attacks; and as a knight he is vulnerable to magic. Kellam makes a decent early game tank, and his Rally Defense ability can give your other characters a welcome defensive boost. On the whole, though, he is not a very inspirational unit, and a bit of a disappointment as he is the main knight for much of the game.

Kellam’s gimmick is a weird one: nobody seems to notice him, despite his massive armour, and some of his interactions with other characters almost make it seem like he’s being bullied. Poor guy.

Cordelia: 9/10

Cordelia is your second Pegasus Knight, and a very good all-round unit. She has high skill and speed and superior strength and HP to Sumia, meaning her weaknesses are not as obvious and her strengths are still strong. Like Sumia, she has amazing movement as well which ignores terrain.

Cordelia is also a likable character with entertaining interactions. She’s basically very noble, dedicated, self-effacing, and earnest, and other characters end up making fun of her because she’s so perfect. She’s also in love with Chrom (unrequited), so a bit sad. I married her to Gaius to make her feel better. Her daughter, Severa, is great too.

Gaius: 8/10

Gaius is brilliant. He’s your main thief, meaning you’ll want to use him a lot to open doors and chests. He has low luck and defense, so he can die easily, but his utility makes up for it. Moreover, he has high skill and speed, and decent strength, making him a bit of a killing machine. He makes a good Assassin.

Gaius is one of the best characters in the game. As a thief, he’s a bit of a rogue, but has a monomania about sweets and tasty food which comes up all the time. He has some of the best support conversations in the game and is a great character to have around.

Virion: 7/10

Virion is your main archer so you will end up using him a lot. While not as powerful as I would have liked, he still has high speed and skill and decent strength. He will normally one-shot flying units but not always take out ground units in one turn, even at high levels. His defensive abilities are reasonable for an archer, although you won’t want to leave him unprotected too much. His main weakness is simply that as an archer, he can’t counterattack from melee range, whereas mages can.

Virion is a noble with a French accent. As a result, he is an incorrigible lech and hits on pretty much every female in the game. This is a JRPG, so he always fails and everyone makes fun of him mercilessly.

Cherche: 6/10

Cherche is your wyvern rider. She starts off great, with brilliant movement, high strength, and good defense. However, later on her skill and speed start to fall away and she will become much less useful, not reliably taking out enemies. The curse of the axe wielder. She is also highly vulnerable to bows and magic.

Cherche has a touching bond with her wyvern, Minerva. She’s quite a nice companion so it’s a shame she’s not a more useful character.

Lon’qu: 6/10

Lon’qu is a myrmidon. This means he has high skill and speed, and decent luck, but low strength and HP. The low strength is a problem as it means he relies on crits or special abilities to kill enemies, which is often unreliable. On the whole, he takes a roster spot you will want to give to Chrom or Donnel, if Donnel is a Hero.

Lon’qu’s gimmick is that he is terminally shy of women. Not much more to say really, he’s quite laconic so much less memorable than many other characters.

Panne: 5/10

Panne is the last Taguel, a species of human-giant rabbit hybrids. Weird. Panne hates humans for wiping out her species, and her interactions with the other characters are generally shaped by her bitterness and resulting meanness. Her conversations are much less light-hearted than most.

Panne starts off quite strong. Like the manaketes, Panne transforms in combat, in her case into a giant rabbit. When you recruit her she is quite tanky and can often one-turn-kill enemies. She seems to have reasonable growth rates at first, but as she can’t be promoted (instead levelling to 30, rather than 20), she suffers in the long run. Moreover, she can only attack in melee, whereas manaketes can perform a ranged attack. Like manaketes, she also can’t use most weapons.

Overall, Panne represents an interesting idea that’s executed in a way that ultimately leaves her significantly underpowered. The fact she is so cold to everyone in skits means there’s little reason to persevere.

Gregor: 6/10

Gregor is the first Mercenary you recruit, a sort of Slavic-sounding sellsword. Gregor is underwhelming at first but has reasonable growth rates and Mercenaries/Heroes are a strong class. However, if you are using Donnel you will almost certainly have made him a Hero, and he is infinitely better than Gregor. Gregor is also quite similar to Chrom and Lucina, but worse, meaning he will see relatively little action. A bit of a shame as he’s a different kind of character to most of the others and one who can grow on you.

Nowi: 7/10

Nowi is a manakete, a human who can transform into what looks like a sort of cute baby dragon. She looks and acts about 12 but is in fact over a thousand years old, a source of much confusion and some squickiness when you consider some of the available ships.

Nowi is fairly powerful, tanky and has good growth rates, but by the late game she falls off significantly. It’s possible to recruit a couple of other manaketes who will be more powerful. She’s worth shipping to get her daughter, Nah, and has some good supports. Simply because she can attack from range, she’s better than Panne, and you probably have room for a tanky ranged attacker in your squad in the midgame.

Libra: 4/10

Libra reminded me very strongly of Lucius from the old GBA Fire Emblem. Libra is a very beautiful blonde man who looks at first like an exquisite lady, the source of much merriment in his skits. Libra is a pre-promote, a War Cleric who wields an axe and can heal with staves. Considering that axe users are a bit weak in this game, and manual healing is a bit of a waste of time, Libra is unlikely to be a major part of your team in many playthroughs. However he’s reasonably strong when you first get him which is probably useful on higher difficulties.

Anna: 5/10

Anna is a merchant, who you recruit as a fairly powerful pre-promote (Trickster) but who falls off eventually. Anna is kind of crazy and obsessed with her merchant business and will generally talk to people about commerce exclusively. She has a lot of identical sisters who function as merchants on the world map. Not that much else to say except she stands out because of her monomania and not really in a good way.

Tharja: 7/10

Tharja is the first dark mage you can recruit. She’s reasonably strong but has low luck and is fairly squishy; she also has kind of low magic at first which means it can be difficult for her to get kills with low level spellbooks. She will eventually become more powerful but is arguably the weakest of the four mages. That said, her gothic, bitchy, borderline insane personality is very entertaining as is her obsession with the male Avatar. She’s worth having around for her support conversations alone.

Henry: 8/10

Henry joins the team at a very sombre point in the storyline and lights things up with awful (ie amazing) and totally inappropriate puns that drive Chrom crazy. Henry’s personality is very odd, as he’s always happy and cheerful but obsessed with blood magic and macabre subjects in general. Makes sense for a dark mage I suppose. His dialogue and voice lines are some of the best in the game. He’s a pretty handy mage too, giving Miriel a run for her money as the game’s best.

I shipped Henry with Olivia, and his happy personality helps me explain to myself the carefree personality of their son, Inigo.

Olivia: 8/10

Olivia is the game’s Dancer, which means she has a unique ability. By dancing for a unit who has finished their turn, that unit can move and act again. In certain situations this is a very important skill and can help you complete an objective or kill a boss just in time. However, she suffers from negligible offence, just being able to wield a sword by default and with horrible stats and stat growth, she’s highly vulnerable. You can always train her up in other classes to make her stronger, though.

Say’ri: 6/10

Say’ri is another pre-promote, a Swordmaster you recruit about halfway through the main story. Unlike other pre-promotes, Say’ri is actually decent, not being that much weaker than Lon’qu once you get him to the equivalent level. Say’ri also plays a fairly important role in the story for a while which means there’s sort of a narrative purpose in bringing her along. She talks more than Lon’qu, as well, so if you don’t take to him you can always wait and use Say’ri instead. That said, you can also do without using either of them.

Tiki: 8/10

Tiki is another manakete, recruited in a side-mission. Tiki is supposed to be a very powerful being and this is reflected in her stats: she’s certainly stronger than Nowi, although she is still outshone by some of your other units. As a pretty self-sufficient and tanky ranged unit, Tiki can be damn useful, though. Well worth recruiting and using if you’re not going to use Nah.

Donnel: 9/10

Ah, Donnel. Donnie starts off as a laughably weak unit called a Villager. Of course, this is a Fire Emblem game which means he will eventually turn into an unstoppable monster. This is in large part down to his skill Aptitude, which means he has insane stat growth. In particular, he can easily max out his Luck; combined with the Hero’s Armsthrift ability, this can mean powerful weapons never lose durability, effectively making him unstoppable.

In Normal you’ll eventually stop using him because it makes the game’s difficulty trivial. On higher difficulties, though, it’s going to be very hard to recruit him and get him those first few levels. Considering you can get some of the super-powerful kids through shipping alone, it’s questionable whether it’s worth the effort.

Donnie is very powerful and a likable character, but the extreme nature of his mechanics stops me from giving him a 10.

Lucina: 9/10

Lucina is one of the kids (Chrom’s kid, in fact), but because you get her during the story I’ll mention her here. Lucina is basically a stronger version of Chrom, meaning she’s very good at killing things but can be a bit vulnerable if left alone. Overall her survivability is probably a bit better than Chrom, meaning she gets the nod over her dad.

Like Chrom, she’s a very well-written character and her voice lines are brilliant, making her one of the highlights of Fire Emblem’s incredible roster.

~

Whoever you decide to use, have fun playing one of the best tactical RPGs ever made!

 

 

 

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4 comments on “Fire Emblem Awakening character guide

  1. T. says:

    I’d have given Chrom a 9 as well. You’re right that Lucina is more powerful, but technically she IS a 2nd gen character, so she does come with all the advantages of superior stats and having potentially inherited 2 higher-tier skills.

    Otherwise yeah, spot on! Gotta love Gaius and Henry…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. People always rave about Pegaus Knights, but I can never get them to work due to their arrow weakness. Tharja is great. Easy on the eyes and funny. I would pick her for my team regardless of stats.

    Liked by 1 person

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