Determining the best, or indeed worst, classes in a Fire Emblem game can be a very tricky proposition, not least because of the rabid fanbase. In the main however, it’s tricky because almost any class can be made to work. Most of these games feature statistical growth rates on a per-character basis, to which the class rates are then added, meaning a great character can use a poor class and make it excel on the basis of their own power. This makes unpicking the mass of numbers a difficult proposition. Still, when it comes to Shadow Dragon at least, there are a few that stick out from the bottom of the pack…
To best describe the issues with a Myrmidon, you need look no further than the fact that they regularly turn up with a good weapon, no matter the Fire Emblem game. Killing Edges, Armourslayers and the like, always tend to arrive with a Myrmidon in tow. Now, this does make a certain amount of thematic sense, since nimble warriors are often associated with taking care to use the best equipment, however here it simply serves to highlight the weakness of the class.
It’s not an impossible class to use, and it’ll certainly take advantage of it’s equipment to deal reasonable amounts of damage, but rather it lacks in three key areas; movement, survivability and weapon choice. As Shadow Dragon progresses, your options for classes will expand and begin to feature flying units, more powerful mounted classes and even non-mounted units with higher movement, and key to this discovery is that they can all use weapons that feature a ranged option. This means that these other classes can attack from relative safety, thanks to the Javelin and Hand Axe options, and classes such as the Hero, Paladin and Dracoknight can all safely take to the front lines. None of this is true with the Myrmidon. So whilst you might be able to occasionally position them such that they finish off a few stragglers, they’re never going to feature in your front lines due to their frailty, a fact that eventually relegates them to the bench where they belong.
- Best described as a faster-but-weaker version of the Mercenary class, both offensively and defensively.
- The class is locked to Swords, and the promoted version is too. Unfortunately Swords are some of the least useful weapons in Shadow Dragon, mainly because both Lances and Axes have ranged options, with the former having by far the best available (Javelin).
- The class has poor movement, and whilst this is technically true of most foot locked classes, they have no ranged option to assist, meaning they require that additional step.
- As Shadow Dragon progresses, it becomes less and less viable to have units with a weak defence on the front lines. This becomes more and more noticeable as the difficulty level rises, to the point where it becomes a pain just to get them some experience points, never mind full level ups.
- Technically the class has great Speed and Skill growths, but does little else other than give your Cortisol a high growth rate when it stands on the front lines.
We should preface our talk about the Sorcerer with the fact that, generally speaking at least, we quite enjoy magic users in Fire Emblem games. They’re a great way of dealing with opponents that specialise in physical defence, and their tome selections tend to allow them to deal with quite a few different enemy types. Nosferatu and Awakening aside, we also consider them to be fairly well balanced; don’t put them directly on the front lines and they’ll do well, sitting behind your tanky units and melting those in front.
Now, were the Sorcerer the only offensive magic option in Shadow Dragon, then we’d certainly be more forgiving and it’d likely not feature here. Unfortunately much, much better options exist here in the form of the Sage and Bishop. Not only are these classes capable of equipping very similar items in the form of Tomes and Staves, but they start out a Stave using classes, meaning they can be used to heal and support in the early game. Unfortunately the un-promoted version of the Sorcerer is the Dark Mage, and whilst this class can do some damage, it’s limited to those within Class Set B, very few of which actually specialise in magic, and it cannot even be chosen by female characters! All of this combines to make it an edge case already, but when the Sage and Bishop do the job just as well, and you need to go out of your way to push a Sorcerer forward, it becomes barely worth your while.
- Sorcerers can technically deal some high amounts of magic damage.
- However, they are limited to those characters in Class Set B, of which few specialise in magic at all. This means that those in Set A that do specialise, will no doubt perform better.
- Female units cannot become a Sorcerer or the base class, Dark Mage.
- It’s far too awkward to make a Sorcerer work, especially on any reasonable difficulty level. Effort is much better spent in the Class Set A magic users, which will produce better results due to the magic focused character availability.
- The class feels superfluous, like it was put there simply to please players looking for some kind of ‘cool’ mage.
Oh the humble Archer, how much you are owed by Shadow Dragon specifically. This game in particular is responsible for creating the archetype that has unfortunately failed to grow for quite a significant period of time. Arguably this has changed somewhat with Three Houses, in which things are helped tremendously by additional skills, however we blame Shadow Dragon specifically for the atrocities such as Leonardo, Virion and well, Gordin.
Ignoring the general poor statistics of these units, and indeed the growths that accompany them, the problem with the Archer class comes down to actually competing in combat. In some games their chip damage is useful and indeed significant, however here in Shadow Dragon they’re rendered totally useless by the inclusion of powerful ranged weapons used by other classes. The Javelin is so very powerful here, and the Hand Axe too, that using a unit that is generally weaker, can move less and takes more overall damage is almost entirely pointless. Cavaliers in the early game can use the Javelin to occupy a ranged slot, and they’re much, much less likely to be slain by a rogue bit of planning. This holds true for any Lance using class, and the Hand Axe does the same for others. When you consider that the Archer is likely to have lesser movement than others, then you’re left with a completely obsolete unit.
The only argument we could actually agree with here is using the Horseman class, which is the promoted version of the Hunter which, as the name suggests, moves around on horseback. They have the increased movement required to keep up with your team, which makes them a great deal more useful. Even then however, better options exist in the form of a Paladin, Dracoknight, Pegasus Knight, Hero, Fighter, Berserker, General… You get the point. The Archer, in Shadow Dragon at least, is just about useless.
- At best, this class is useful for chip damage in the early chapters. Partly because better classes become available very soon, but also because that’s literally the peak performance of an Archer in Shadow Dragon.
- Inferior in every way to a Hunter, aside from Speed. However, the Speed stat in question is very unlikely to be high enough to double attack, at least on a respectable difficulty level, so it’s a completely moot point.
- Ranged performance is available in many forms in Shadow Dragon, particularly Hand Axes and Javelins, which can be used by classes with better base statistics and growths.
- With poor growths and poor ‘canon’ choices, it’s worth skipping this class entirely where possible. The promoted Sniper version is much better, and you can pivot into this from a superior initial class, like Cavalier.
- Why bother with this class at all, when you can have a unit on horseback throwing Javelins from range, or even a stronger Fighter do it with an Axe?
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Categories: Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
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