Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Ideal Sacrifice Choices Explained | Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

During the Prologue section of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, the player is given the choice to send a unit as a ‘Decoy’. This is somewhat affectionately known as sacrificing, because the unit sent to act as a decoy really isn’t coming back. No amount of doing things right will reverse this, so the decision isn’t one that should be taken lightly, depending on your perspective. Speaking of which, our perspective in Fire Emblem games has always been that of the mercenary, by which we mean that the statistically superior units get prioritised, often due to these games’ inherent difficulty. The Prologue however, only takes place in Normal mode, so does this change our position at all, and influence who we’d recommend that you give up…?


Canon Choice: Frey

Frey, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Sacrificing Frey is canon in Shadow Dragon, as you might imagine given his lines of dialogue, plus the fact that he plainly doesn’t exist on difficulty levels higher than Normal. It’s for this reason and this reason only that we choose to consider him as part of this list, because if you attempt to prioritise unit removal by power alone, Frey would outlast almost anyone in your entire party.

This whole ordeal leaves Frey in an awkward position when considered in its totality. He’s a very powerful Cavalier unit, one that has the capability to become a statistical powerhouse thanks to his starting stats and growth… But he’s only available in Normal mode, where pretty much any unit can thrive and statistics matter less, thanks to the weakness of the units opposing you. Removing him, it seems, is what the developers intended then, but if you’re aiming for overall army power, then there’s a better choice for removal detailed below.

Sacrifice Details

  • His sacrifice is considered ‘canon’, due to him not appearing on higher difficulty levels, where the Prologue is skipped.
  • Frey is actually a very powerful Cavalier, with the potential to grow into a very useful unit in the mid and late game. However, Shadow Dragon is filled with great Cavaliers, so you’re not missing out on a great deal by removing him.
  • Of the two main options here, Frey will perform much better in battle.
  • Given that the Prologue doesn’t exist on higher difficulty levels, the actual ramifications of your sacrifice choice are thematic at best – either Frey or our secondary choice can be used throughout with little to no issues.

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Best Choice: Gordin

Gordin, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

At this point in any modern Fire Emblem game, we’d throw our heads back and laugh at yet another weak, early game Archer being present (hi, Leonardo). However, since Shadow Dragon is the progenitor of the series, we’d be referencing Gordin himself. Thus we find ourselves describing the bane of the series, the forefather of the Virions of the world, the bringer of misery himself, Gordin.

Alright, maybe we’re going a bit far. Gordin isn’t necessarily a terrible unit, but rather one that will quickly fall behind others, mainly thanks to his weak starting statistics, growths and his base class. All of these factors tend to compound too; an Archer will struggle to keep up with your team due to its lower movement, which means that they’ll get involved less and receive less experience, so their statistics will improve slower than others, and in the case of Gordin they’re pretty bad already! All of this combines to make him the ideal choice for a unit that you can do without.

Sacrifice Details

  • Whilst not ‘canon’, Gordin is likely the most frequently sacrificed unit in Shadow Dragon play-throughs.
  • Not only is his choice of base class weak (Archer), but his starting statistics and growths are not great, meaning he’s likely to struggle to keep up with better units in your team.
  • Unfortunately the base Archer is one of, if not the weakest class in Shadow Dragon, and the class tree as a whole is only propped up by a Sniper that joins the team in a later chapter. 
  • To compound this issue, the eventual promotion of a Hunter into a Horseman will provide all of the Archer benefits with the addition of greater movement.
  • Even when you swap his class, Gordin is outclassed by most other units available in Shadow Dragon.
  • All of the characters gained through Gaiden chapters will be superior to Gordin.

But what about Jagen? We hear you cry.


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Bad Choice: Jagen

Jagen, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

To be completely honest, during our first playthrough of Shadow Dragon we chose to use Jagen as a decoy. Perhaps this is due to the value placed on those of a later age, or perhaps experience with other games, but it often feels natural to remove those of an older stature in favour of those younger. To this day we see this repeated by new players as they trawl through the Fire Emblem back catalogue.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with removing Jagen, after all Normal mode has been made easy enough to cope with whichever units you decide to use, however doing so will mean you miss out on some exclusive benefits that Jagen brings in the early game.

Firstly, his statistics start out on the higher end. Granted, his growths are very bad when compared to other units, however it will take them some time to catch up with him. Where they’ll struggle even further however, is keeping up with his weapon skill levels, which are high enough to use very powerful weapons right out of the gate. Finally, since he’s already promoted to a Paladin, his movement is superior to almost everybody else in your team, and this can be supplemented even further by reclassing him into a Dracoknight, which is a flying unit that can ignore terrain. All of these benefits keep him relevant throughout most of Shadow Dragon, and can even retain usefulness in the late game with forged weaponry. 

Sacrifice Details

  • Jagen’s starting statistics will remain relevant for a good portion of the early game.
  • Once his statistics start to fall off, his weapon skill levels will keep him relevant by allowing him to wield more and more powerful equipment.
  • Jagen can class swap into a Dracoknight at a very early point, giving him huge amounts of movement. This is very useful in Shadow Dragon, especially when map sizes begin to expand in the mid game.
  • Whilst the other two options – Fray and Gordin – can technically gain better statistics than Jagen, the Shadow Dragon roster is replete with powerful units that can do the same. None of them, however, can become an early game Dracoknight and provide the immense utility that Jagen does.
  • The weapon forging system, combined with excellent ranged options like the Javelin, can be used to retain his power through the mid game when his statistics start to fall behind.

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