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Understanding Fire Emblem Heroes: A beginner’s guide

Everything you need to know to win

Fire Emblem Heroes is an ambitious strategy title with numerous characters and options built around its central combat mechanic. Adjusting to the flow of the game and figuring out how to make the best use of the available resources can take a while. Luckily, this guide will set you on the right path by offering information. It outlines the various modes and lets you know where you should spend most of your energy during your early days with the game.

Table of contents

Home sweet home

The story begins

Battle basics

Summoning new heroes

Strengthening your party

Advanced growth

A tower of battles

Arena play

Heroes doing battle

Quests and missions

Home sweet home

When you access the home screen each day, you receive rewards for various activities, including:

  • Logging in for the day
  • Logging in during the weekend
  • Playing during the game's launch window (called the "campaign period")

Collecting rewards

Rewards may include additional orbs, potions to restore stamina and other such goodies. You can tap on the owl to receive all waiting gifts (or individual items, if you prefer), once they have been assigned. Make sure that you also tap on any new heroes you see standing around, because they may give you additional loot.

Along the left side of the screen, you will also see a notifications board. Tap it to receive any important updates from Nintendo.

Modifying your base

Early on, you should pay special attention to the green icon near the upper right corner of the screen. It looks like a castle. Tapping on it allows you to make modifications to your base, in exchange for orbs. You can purchase the torchlit castle upgrade for a single orb and permanently increase EXP gained in battle by 20 percent. Subsequent improvements cost additional orbs and produce similar enhancements, up to a 100 percent boost. The same menu is also available if you tap the Shop icon on the bottom menu and choose the Upgrade Castle option.

Being friendly

If you have friends who are playing Fire Emblem Heroes, you can interact with them on a very limited basis. In your base, simply tap the statue that looks like a tombstone with glowing lines of magic pulsing on its surface, near the lower left corner.

Tapping that stone brings up your list of current friends. The icons near the top of that screen give you additional options. The magnifying glass lets you search for friends by entering their friend codes. The envelope with the outgoing arrow lets you delete a friend request you have made, if you have since thought better of it. The envelope with the incoming arrow lets you review and accept friend requests from others.

The benefit of having friends is minimal, but they do visit your base from time to time and may bring small gifts. You're perfectly fine playing without making friends, but there's no reason not to share your code with your friends if you want to see friendly greetings from them on occasion.

It all takes energy

To take most actions in Fire Emblem Heroes, you need to spend stamina, which is special energy that refills over time.

When you begin playing, you have a full 50 stamina available. As you participate in most battles, you expend stamina (the precise amount depends on the battle). After Fire Emblem Heroes' launch period, equipping skills on your characters also drains stamina. Once stamina has been drain, it begins to automatically refill at the rate of one point every five minutes. You must wait just over four hours for 50 stamina to completely refill, if it has been emptied.

If you don't want to wait for your stamina to refill, you can instead use stamina potions to immediately refill it, or you can head to the shop and purchase a refill.

The story begins

You will become familiar with a variety of map types as you play Fire Emblem Heroes. You can access each of these from the battle menu, which you reach by tapping the battle icon located on the bottom menu bar.

Starting with story maps

Story maps are a great starting point. Clearing them allows you to quickly receive early rewards (including an orb from each map, the first time you clear it) that put you in a better position to build the teams that you can use in the other battle types.

Fire Emblem Heroes walks you through the preface stages automatically. From there, you should continue to discover more of the story by selecting the additional maps, starting with the prologue.

Exploring side stories with paralogues

When you select the story maps option, you initially are able to select only scenes that contribute to the main story. The paralogues option, which lets you explore side stories, doesn't become available until later in the game.

Difficulty settings

Once you select a chapter, any available maps within that story are then listed (along with the stamina cost to complete them). You can tap on a map title to see what reward you will receive for clearing it. When you clear a chapter on the normal difficulty setting, it becomes available in hard and lunatic varieties. The enemies on the higher difficulty settings are tougher, which is good for earning experience. You also can gain additional orbs by clearing them. They do require more stamina, however.

Battle basics

You will fight many battles as you play Fire Emblem Heroes, so it's important to come to grips with the basics as quickly as possible.

Battle phases

Battles take place in phases. All of your party members can make their moves as part of a phase, and then the phase ends automatically (or if you want to end it prematurely, you can tap the end turn icon that is located on the bottom bar). At that point, the enemy troops move.

Taking your turn

When you are taking a turn, you can tap a unit to see a grid that lets you know how far you can move (blue spaces), where you can attack (red spaces) and where you can assist an ally with assist skills (green spaces). Tap on the desired space to move there, or to prepare to take action on the space, and then tap again to confirm. If you need to chart a specific course, you can instead tap a unit and then drag your finger along the desired route, but that's typically not necessary.

Weapon colors

One important fact to keep in mind, before you even worry about moving units, is that weapons have associated colors. In other games, those colors would represent elemental affinities. In Fire Emblem Heroes, the colors signify weapon types. Red weapons are strong against green ones, which are strong against blue ones, which are strong against red ones. You need to always keep that dynamic in mind, so that you have the right warriors attacking the correct foes, and so that you have the appropriate defenders taking the brunt of any incoming attacks.

Foes will naturally try to find ways to exploit your weaknesses, and you should return the favor. A handy icon appears at the lower right corner of the screen to make it easier to keep such matters sorted. If you can't seem to scratch a particular enemy, such as the armored lance knights (which tend to use green weapons), try attacking them with a unit that carries red weapons.

Danger areas, attack ranges and the battle screen

While in battle, you can tap on the danger area icon (also located on the bottom bar) to see what areas currently fall within the enemy's attack range. This allows you to avoid unnecessarily making a target of yourself. Sometimes, it is better to let the enemies come to you. Not all foes will oblige, however.

When an ally and an enemy unit interact, the perspective shifts to show the two units facing one another. The two units exchange blows, if both are within range (sometimes this won't be the case, like when you attack an enemy with an archer from a safe distance). Otherwise, one or the other attacks and then the skirmish ends.

Fighting and dying

The goal in each skirmish is to eliminate the opponent's HP, without giving him or her a chance to drain yours first. When your hero's HP reaches zero, that hero is out of action for the remainder of the fight and will miss out on experience gained. Losing even one hero could be enough to cost you the battle in some instances. If that happens, you can continue by spending an orb or using the light's blessing item, but you're usually better off just accepting your loss and coming back after improving your party members so that you can spend orbs on more important things (like summoning better warriors). Besides, you will have to grind anyway. If one map has your current party stuck, the next map won't likely be any easier.

Additional actions

As you fight, you will discover that there additional actions that you can take on certain maps. You can destroy obstructions like walls by attacking them, which can be important. Walls sometimes keep your party members apart, so that a healer can't help a weakened warrior, and they may prevent you from approaching enemies. Units such as archers can fire through the walls, and that's bad news if it means enemies can pick you off from a distance without fear of retaliation from your army. Pay close attention to destructible walls and prevent such scenarios.

Winning and progressing

Once all enemy units have been vanquished, a map is cleared and you finally receive the promised reward. If your activity helped you to progress toward completing a quest, you also receive an update on that progress. Now you are free to return to your base, or perhaps to head off to the next battle.

Summoning new heroes

As you gain orbs by clearing maps for the first time, as a reward for signing in for the day or by meeting other uncommon objectives, you can spend them to acquire new team members that will perhaps fare better in battle. However, they don't come cheaply. The cost for each hero depends on how many you summon during a single ritual (the process by which you summon new heroes). The breakdown is as follows:

  • First hero = 5 orbs
  • Second hero = 4 orbs
  • Third hero = 4 orbs
  • Fourth hero = 4 orbs
  • Fifth hero = 3 orbs

If you back out of a ritual, you will have to start over the next time you want to summon some heroes. Ideally, you will begin rituals only when you have 20 orbs and can summon all five at once and save yourself five orbs compared to what it would cost to summon them one at a time, but sometimes it's difficult to be patient.

Summoning and stones

When you summon, note that the color of stone you select on that summoning screen (which is not an item from your inventory) impacts the type of hero gained. Red stones produce warriors who favor swords, green stones summon ax admirers, blue stones generate heroes who rely on spears, and colorless stones summon archers. (Those are just examples, since several weapon types may be associated with each stone.)

Group types

The screen that appears ahead of the actual summoning ritual lets you select from the group type that interests you. Near launch, for example, you can choose to focus on either legendary heroes or deep devotion characters. The legendary heroes group increases your likelihood of summoning series protagonists such as Marth and Lucina, while the deep devotion character includes a variety of powerful warriors such as Camilla and Takumi. Different groups will be offered periodically, once the current ones are no longer available.

Appearance rates and stars

Tap the appearance rates button for a breakdown. Five-star focus characters are extremely uncommon (because they start out with many powerful skills learned and have the ability to learn additional ones without requiring you to dump a bunch of time and precious resources into leveling them up to that point), while three-star characters are common. If you summon five consecutive heroes without obtaining a five-star hero, the likelihood of receiving one on your next summon will increase with each new summon until that event finally occurs. Then the default rates will be in effect once more.

Details: sorting through your characters

If you tap the details button, you can access a list of the characters that fall into each category. There are dozens of characters, and you may receive what appears to be the same character on multiple occasions, but duplicates may have slightly different stats that make one better than the other. This extends even to star rating.

For example, it's possible to get a three-star Marth and a four-star Marth, and the latter is far superior because he can learn more powerful skills. Pay close attention to any heroes that you summon, to make sure that you are putting the most useful allies on your active teams.

Starting the ritual

Once you decide which group to summon from, then you can start the proper ritual, one hero at a time. A group of five stones of various colors appears, and you should tap one that interests you. When you are done summoning, it's time to see about making adjustments to your active party. After all, you might have a new superstar in your midst.

Strengthening your party

When you select Fire Emblem Heroes' allies option from the lower menu bar, you can take a number of different actions. Expect to spend a lot of time on most of these menus, since they are your means of turning your little band of heroes into a near-unstoppable force.

Edit teams

Your current default team displays in four boxes near the top of the screen. Available heroes are listed below that. To add a hero to your group (or to replace an existing hero), tap the space that hero will occupy and then tap the hero from the overall list. It's also possible to head to battle with smaller teams, either to ensure that a particular character gains all of the experience from clearing a battle or to complete mission requirements.

Learn skills

Spend SP (skill points that are earned when that character levels up or defeats an enemy in battle) to give the character more powerful weapons and to teach new skills. Some skills also have prerequisites. For example, you can't learn the warding blow 2 spell without first learning the warding blow 1 skill, even if you have the required SP available.

Heroes gain SP individually, based only on their own activity, so you need to make sure that you're using characters as you advance through maps and not letting the weaker team members constantly die without gaining meaningful battle experience.

Equip skills

Skills are the main quality that separates one warrior from another. The higher a character's star rating, the more skills that character can access. Skills impact how many times a character strikes in battle, offer passive boosts to stats such as SPD and DEF and may even determine whether a character can learn offensive or defensive moves (or both).

Tap the hero in your army who needs to learn a skill, then select the skills to equip on that hero. You can only have so many skills equipped at once, and stronger versions will replace their weaker counterparts. At launch, Fire Emblem Heroes allows players to equip any skills they have learned at no cost, but later it will be necessary to spend stamina to equip skills.

Level up

Use shards or crystals to level up your character without the need to do so in combat. This is useful when you need to quickly bring new characters up to speed, since they all start out at level 1.

Send home

An ally is permanently erased when you go this route, and in exchange you receive hero feathers. (More on hero feathers in the next section.) To avoid accidentally losing a hero that you meant to keep around, view his or her profile (tap the + icon that appears in the corner of the character portrait to bring up the full profile page) and then tap on the heart to favorite that hero. Repeat the process if you no longer want to protect the hero from future deletion.

Advanced growth

You aren't likely to take advantage of this option very often, due to how costly it is, but it's worth knowing about.

Unlocking potential

You can choose the unlock potential option to increase the star rating for a character, once he or she reaches level 20. This resets that character's level to one, but makes additional skills available to learn.

Unlocking potential requires different items, depending on the existing star level. Characters with a rating from one to three can be upgraded using hero feathers (most easily won from doing exceptionally well in arena battles) and badges (your reward for clearing training tower stages). To raise a character from four to five, you will need still more hero feathers, and also great badges (also obtained by clearing training tower stages, though only at higher difficulty levels). Due to the cost associated, you should think carefully before you unlock a character's potential.

Merging allies

The merge allies option does precisely what the name suggests, and the resulting character gains additional SP and stats in the process.

To merge, you must have two allies with the same star rating or better, and they must also possess the same name and title. Think of it as a way to get something out of any duplicate characters you might summon.

However, you shouldn't merge when you anticipate unlocking a character's potential, because stat boosts disappear at that time. You're better off waiting to merge until your character has a five-star rating, so that any benefits stick around for good.

A tower of battles

From the battle menu, one of your options is the training tower. There, your reward for completing battles is more experience than usual, because there are always tough foes to face.

Stratums and difficulty

Fire Emblem Heroes' tower is divided by levels, called Stratums, and there are 11 difficulty levels. The higher you climb, the fiercer your opponents are, so make sure that you have strengthened your characters sufficiently before you attempt the more challenging stratums.

The level and general type of enemies that you will encounter in a particular stratum are noted up front, along with information about how much stamina is consumed by entering that battle.

To reach the more advanced floors in the tower, you must first advance in the story campaign, on the normal difficulty level or greater. The requirements are as follows:

  • Stratums 0 through 2: Clear chapter 1
  • Stratums 3 and 4: Clear chapter 3
  • Stratums 5 and 6: Clear chapter 6
  • Stratums 7 through 10: Clear chapter 9

Tower strategies

You don't have to spend more time than you like in the tower, but it's a good idea to clear at least one battle per day. The first battle that you clear on a given day awards you with a special shard or crystal that you can use to level up your characters. Different characters require crystals and shards of different colors to level up, so you will eventually need to tend to most or all colors as you build a well-rounded team.

The type of crystal or shard received roughly depends on the day of the week, and the cutoff time is 11 p.m. You'll receive a primary crystal if you win a battle in the fifth stratum or lower, or a secondary crystal will sometimes (though not always) appear when you win a battle in the sixth stratum or higher The disbursement is as follows:

  • Tuesday: scarlet shard (primary) or scarlet crystal (secondary)
  • Wednesday: azure shard (primary) or azure crystal (secondary)
  • Thursday: verdant shard (primary) or verdant crystal (secondary)
  • Friday: transparent shard (primary) or transparent crystal (secondary)
  • Saturday to Monday: universal shard (primary) or universal crystal (secondary)

Other training tower rewards

There are other reasons to spend time in the training tower, as well.

Clearing maps awards you with badges, which are necessary to unlock ally potential (you can choose the advanced growth option while viewing an ally and then use the badge to make the change). As with crystals and shards, the type of badge that you receive from training tower stages varies according to the time you play, with primary and secondary rewards again available:

  • Tuesday: scarlet badge (primary) or great scarlet badge (secondary)
  • Wednesday: azure badge (primary) or great azure badge (secondary)
  • Thursday: verdant badge (primary) or great verdant badge (secondary)
  • Friday: transparent badge (primary) or great transparent badge (secondary)
  • Saturday to Monday: random badge (primary) or random great badge (secondary)

The disbursement ensures that players have a valid reason to return each day. Even if you don't need any badges yet, it's a good idea to frequently spend time tackling the training tower, so that you can amass the badges, shards, and crystals that you will need when the time comes. Make visits to the training tower a part of your daily routine.

Arena play

The arena, which you can access by selecting the arena duels option from the battle menu, is your chance to compete against rivals around the world.

Each time you compete, you spend one of three dueling swords in your reserve. Your supply of dueling swords automatically replenishes at 11:00 p.m. every day, so try to exhaust your stock each day. You can also refill your stock ahead of the daily refresh by using the dueling crest item.

Arena awards

You're awarded a score based on your performance in each arena battle, and you gain more points for defeating more powerful rivals. If you win consecutive battles, you gain a chain bonus. Make sure that your team includes one or more of the listed bonus characters to improve the number of points you earn. This doubles your score for that battle. When you win seven battles in a row, or when you lose one, your score is recorded and you start over.

Arena seasons and scores

Note that arena battles take place during seasons, which are the seven-day period starting at 11:00 p.m. on Monday and continuing through 3:00 p.m. on the following Monday. The eight missing hours are spent tallying your performance.

Any battles you complete during that eight-hour period (even if they were begun ahead of the deadline) will not count toward your final score. Your highest score during a season determines how many hero feathers you win. For example, if your highest score total across seven battles falls between 1,801 and 2,000 points, you receive 1,000 hero feathers.

Earning defense points

You can also earn defense points, which also net you hero feathers. You earn defense points when someone attacks your team and it survives the assault.

The team that you position in the leftmost of your team slots automatically defends itself from any incoming attack without intervention on your part, so make sure it is capable and well-rounded. You don't want to miss the opportunity to rack up defense points, since they qualify you for various rewards at the end of that season.

Earning promotions

Your total general score also might earn you a promotion. Try to win as many battles as possible, so that you meet the posted criteria. You can advance a single tier each season.

Heroes doing battle

From the battle menu, access the special maps section to find limited-time battles that allow you to recruit powerful new allies.

When you attempt a hero battle, you will spend stamina, like usual. However, there's an additional restriction in place: you can't let any of your own team members fall in battle. Fortunately, you can choose the difficulty setting of the battle, which gives you a better chance of survival. However, the hero that you defeat and thus recruit will be slightly less powerful than the one you defeat. For instance, if you defeat a five-star Felicia, you will recruit Felicia's four-star version.

Recruiting heroes

Each day, you can battle and recruit a different hero. The current rotation is as follows:

  1. Sophia
  2. Virion
  3. Hana
  4. Subaki
  5. Donnel
  6. Lissa
  7. Gunter
  8. Cecilia
  9. Felicia
  10. Wrys
  11. Olivia
  12. Stahl

When the list reaches the end of its rotation, it starts over from the top. This lets you anticipate who you might face in a few days, so that you can level up characters and prepare a party that is able to topple a desired opponent.

Quests and missions

As you play Fire Emblem Heroes, keep in mind that certain activities reward you more than others. What you might find most useful depends on what you're trying to accomplish at that point, but there are other considerations. For example, you can win special, limited-time rewards that are available only by completing quests, and you can gather special loot by clearing missions.

Choosing quests and missions

To find available quests and missions, tap on the fountain, which is available from your home base screen (look near the lower right corner). By default, you will see a list of the month's available quests.

Try to meet any objectives before they expire, and make sure to return to collect your rewards before the deadline, as well. Quest rewards that you don't collect in that time frame are gone for good. If you have completed a quest but haven't yet reaped the reward, the statue in your base should glow to alert you.

Unlocking new quests

Keep in mind that, if you clear all of the default quests, new ones become available. They are more difficult to clear, because they require you to face more challenging opponents, but the rewards are also more significant.

Missions and My Nintendo

Missions are specific to My Nintendo and don't have a deadline attached. They reward you for a variety of actions, such as clearing the game's prologue or linking your Fire Emblem Heroes game to your Nintendo Account.

Make sure that you establish that link promptly, so that you can earn points to spend on in-game items such as crystals and shards, stamina potions and light's blessing items.

To access missions, tap on the crystal-like icon, which is located on the right side of the header that lists quests. You will bring up a list of available mission rewards, and you can tap the missions button to learn how to earn the currency that you must spend on them.

You don't have to link your game to a My Nintendo account to complete the standard quests, however. Those quests are always offered on the default list, and are available at several difficulty levels: normal, hard and lunatic. The higher the difficulty level, the greater your rewards.

Quests and missions give you something to work toward throughout the month. Make sure to check for new ones as a new cycle begins, since you'll want to adjust your strategy to satisfy the relevant conditions over the following weeks.

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