Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Best Mercenary Units Ranked in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Welcome to our character guide, focusing on Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon characters. We’ll be breaking down each of the characters and their classes, and providing our verdicts on which of them deserve to be in your team!


Our thorough dig into the cast available in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon continues today, this time focusing on the intrepid Mercenary and it’s promoted form, the Hero.

We’ve always enjoyed this class because it often manages to occupy a nice middle ground: It’s not as agile or defensive as the Cavaliers, but not as squishy as the Myrmidon line. They present a good ‘all round’ foot unit, never performing too poorly no matter to the situation. They’re also not susceptible to any class-targeted weapon, like a Ridersbane or Armorslayer, and once they make the jump up to Hero they gain at least parity within the weapon triangle.

Let’s put them to the test then and ask the question: Of those that Shadow Dragon present, which character is your best choice for a Mercenary & Hero?


4. Samson

Samson Fire Emblem

As you might imagine these lists tend to trend from ‘worst’ to ‘best’, and in this regard Samson is well and truly occupying the former. Should you choose to visit his village in Chapter 16 with Marth, he’ll join your team, though by choosing him you’ll miss out on the other village housing Arran… Who is also pretty terrible. Is it any wonder this map is occupied by enemy forces?

Should you be familiar with how statistics and levels work in Fire Emblem titles, you’ll immediately note that he’s level 10 and already a Hero. This means that he has a further 10 levels to grow before he cannot go further. However, this isn’t always an issue for late joining pre-promotes, take Jeorge for example from our ‘Archer & Sniper’ article; his stats are good for the time but he’ll barely grow, yet he brings other benefits in the form of a high weapon rank for his joining time and the ability to output more damage than his class members, none of which is true with Samson. He’ll be joining a team that’s already likely to house an Ogma or Caesar, one of which should be either promoted and ahead of him statistically, or un-promoted and at least equal. They’ll also have the ability to grow much further than him and thus, end up vastly superior statistically.

What Samson seems to be is a backup, backup Hero unit, designed to give you an extra character for teams that might have been decimated by some of the recent, difficult chapters. Outside of a desperate squad urgently needing bodies, he should be resigned to the bench immediately.

VERDICT: Stay well away. Last resort unit only.


3. Astram

Astram Fire Emblem

Again, if you’re following and a little knowledgeable about Fire Emblem you’ll know where this is going. What we have here is a unit that joins three chapters earlier than Samson, specifically if you march up and talk to him amidst Ballistician fire in Chapter 13. You’ll note from his statistics that he’s not a million miles away from Samson in terms of a starting point. He also has similar level of weapon experience, albeit tilted towards the sword this time around. Importantly he starts as a level 1 Hero, giving him a great deal more headroom than Samson, all of which adds up to him being a better unit overall.

A better unit than Samson, that is, which is to be blessed with only the faintest of praise. Again though, by the time he joins you’re likely to have a Mercenary or two that are capable of dealing very similar amounts of damage. You may even have one that’s already promoted, depending on your choice of Master Seal recipients.

There is an argument that having another highly mobile unit is useful at this point in the game, but we’re always a proponent of having good unit variation, after all if you just wanted agile melee units you could load up on Cavaliers and Flyers. At this point in time you’ll be full of useful foot units and Astram always seems to be surplus to requirements. You could do worse of course, but chances are you already have a fair few better, and as you start to reach the end game his statistics just aren’t good enough.

VERDICT: Not quite good enough. An OK backup.


2. Caesar

Caesar Fire Emblem

Ok, now we’re getting into the good units, weighted as they are towards the early portions of a Fire Emblem game. Caesar joins automatically at the start of Chapter 8, immediately looking completely average in the face of your current merry band. Less than that actually, especially when comparing him directly to your other option at the time, Ogma. He has a lower weapon rank, less Strength and significantly lower Skill.

Once you get him going however, you’ll essentially find yourself with another Ogma. For the majority of the game they’ll be trading statistical blows back and forth, and we’ve had end game versions of both being better than their counterpart. So how do we go about separating them?

Well there are a few key areas where Caesar loses out. He’s always likely to be a step behind in terms of Skill, and whilst this isn’t the end of the world – you’re not likely to miss much with a Mercenary either way – it is a negative against him. The biggest problem however, is his join time. He arrives at the same time as Radd, and suffers the same problem as his Mymridon friend: You have to start levelling him up in chapters where the opponents have higher statistics and, in a lot of cases, a weapon triangle advantage over him.

None of this stops him from being a very good unit in the end, and we’re really splitting hairs to point out small differences in statistics when compared directly to Ogma, but that late join just makes him that little bit more awkward to work with.

VERDICT: A great unit and a viable choice, just not quite the best.


1. Ogma

Ogma Fire Emblem

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Ogma tops our list. After joining you in Chapter 2 he’s likely to become a mainstay of your party for the vast majority of the game, and for good reason. Staying the course with him will result in a fantastic Hero unit towards it’s conclusion, one able to damage the strongest of units and remain relevant no matter the situation. He’s statistically superior to all of your other options, even the super growth duo of Wolf and Sedgar, should you give him enough time to grow.

It is worth bearing in mind that the class itself has limits however. Ogma isn’t going to trivialise maps like a forge-wielding Caeda or a General Sedgar, but he’s certainly a unit you’ll be able to rely on for significant damage and he has a good chance of keeping up with the best Shadow Dragon has to offer due to his early join time.

A word of caution from us though, is to be very wary during what we’d call the ‘mid game’. After the first few chapters, filled as they are with axe-fodder, you’ll probably start to struggle with your Mercenaries, Ogma or Caesar. They’ll struggle to kill units alone, certainly on higher difficulties, and you’ll be brimming with seemingly better options. Do your best to stick with it at this point though, because the eventual reward in the form of a good Hero is certainly worth it. We’d also argue they’re a pretty good option for one of your first Master Seals. Sure, you’ll miss a few Mercenary level ups, but that extra damage and movement might just be worth it at the time.

VERDICT: Just pips Caesar to the top spot. Your best Mercenary & Hero option in Shadow Dragon.


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