It’s easy to get overwhelmed in Fire Emblem Heroes — the tutorials are short, and only briefly explain what all the various systems and Heroes can do for you. That’ll teach you to move and attack, but the tutorials don’t explain how to win. That’s what this Beginner’s Guide is all about. We’re here to help you conquer those early battles, and fully explain how combat works in this mobile SRPG. We’ll also provide tips on the meta-game: when to spend Orbs, and what you’ll want to avoid if you’re going to make in-app purchases.
Fire Emblem Heroes takes some liberties with the Fire Emblem formula, but it mostly sticks to the same basics in combat. You’ll move your Heroes across the board, attacking opponents and trying to be the first to kill you enemies. Think of it like an interactive board game, and your Chess pieces are the heroes. Winning is all about using the right heroes against the right opponents — weapons (categorized in three colors) all have strengths and weaknesses, and understanding that complicated relationship is the first step to victory in Fire Emblem Heroes.
Let’s Get Started – How Combat Works
In Fire Emblem Heroes, battles have been streamlined — but there’s still plenty of strategy. Your heroes come equipped with a variety of weapons; axes, lances, swords, bows, magic staffs, and more. You’ll tap and drag your units to attack. It looks simple on paper, but things quickly get complicated.
There’s a lot you need to know for combat, so we’re going to dump some quick pointers and tips below. Add your own in the comments section, we’ll include your suggestion with our thanks!
- Unlock other Fire Embles, death is only temporary. Don’t worry, you won’t permanently lose your Heroes! They’ll recover over time.
- Every Hero will develop a Special Attack that unlocks after 2-4 turns. Once activated, the special attack will always be used on that Heroes’ next attack. Know when these attacks appear, and use them against tough enemies.
- Higher level Heroes always deal more damage. As you progress and earn XP, send your most powerful heroes in first. Melee Heroes, armed with Swords, Axes, or Lances, should always be on the front lines.
- Opponents block movement, but you can freely move through your friendly Heroes. Use your heroes to block narrow paths and shield your other, weaker Heroes.
- Your ranged Heroes (Equipped with Tomes, Daggers, Bows, or Staves) can attack through your friendly Heroes. Shoot over your melee Heroes’ heads to deal extra damage from a safe distance.
- Every character has their own range (depending on what weapon they have equipped) and movement speed. The range of movement is very important. Flying Heroes are fastest, but they’re extremely weak to Bows.
- Need more XP? You can replay harder versions of every mission. Eventually your high level heroes will stop earning XP when they kill low-level opponents.
That’s just to get started! There’s way more you need to know — let’s start with counterattacks. Depending on the type of Hero you’re using, you’ll have multiple counterattacks (or none at all) to contend with.
Watch Out For Counterattacks
When a Hero engages an enemy, the turn order usually goes something like this…
- Your Hero attacks.
- The enemy unit counterattacks.
Two units armed with melee weapons will always counterattack, but certain characters can unlock multiple counterattacks, or can’t counterattack at all. Here’s a quick table to explain when counterattacks are activated. There are exceptions, but generally this is how combat works.
- Melee Weapon vs. Melee Weapon = Counterattack
- Melee Weapon vs. Ranged Weapon = No Counterattack
- Ranged Weapon vs. Melee Weapon = No Counterattack
- Ranged Weapon vs. Ranged Weapon = Counterattack
Characters equipped with any weapon with 2 square range (Staff, Dagger, Bow, Tome) will NEVER counterattack when in melee range. In the same way, if you attack a melee unit with a ranged Hero, that melee unit cannot counterattack.
But, ranged units will counterattack if a ranged Hero attacks. Make sense? That’s why it’s always a good idea to circumvent the frontlines and attack ranged units with your melee Heroes, and keep your own ranged Heroes protected so the enemy can’t do the same to you.
Remember the Color Wheel
Now let’s really dig deep into the tactical side of things. The Color Wheel is the most important aspect of Fire Emblem’s rock-paper-scissors design. Each weapon is assigned a color, visible in your Hero’s inventory at any time. It basically goes like this…
- The Color Wheel
- Green kills Blue
- Blue kills Red
- Red kills Green
Swords are strong against Axes, Lances are strong against Swords, and Axes are strong against Lances. There’s just one problem — you also have grey ranged / magic weapons to think about. These each have a special attribute that makes them powerful, outside the Color Wheel.
- Grey (Ranged) Strengths
- Bows do extra damage against flying units.
- Staffs are magical. Powerful against high DEF units.
- Daggers are weak but temporarily reduce DEF.
- Tomes can be any color (Green / Blue / Red). Tomes are magical and powerful against high DEF units.
You can always check the Color Wheel and see what’s weak / strong in-battle, just tap the Color Wheel icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
Check The Danger Area
Our last combat tip is all about the super-powerful “Danger Area” button at the bottom of the battle menu. Tap this button to see the movement range and attack radius of your enemies. This is an incredibly useful feature, and it demands to be used. Why use the Danger Area function? Here’s a few reasons.
- Know the range of potentially dangerous opponents. When moving, you can predicct where an enemy will move and stay out of their range. You don’t want to accidentally move into a dragon’s attack range, or walk right into a deadly bow’s attack next turn.
- Using the Danger Area, you can immediately see where you’re safe. You can even move heroes and check again to see if you’ve effectively blocked-off an enemy’s movement.
- The best part of the Danger Area is baiting enemies closer. The AI will move toward you, but if you’re outside the Danger Area, they can’t attack. And now that they’re closer to you, they’re in your sights now! Don’t let enemies get the first attack.
The Danger Area tool is incredibly useful if you use it often, and it can help you avoid getting instantly killed by those deadly enemies you want to avoid. Just tap an enemy to see each unit’s specific Danger Area.
Use the Daily Special Map To Unlock Free Heroes
This is a “Gacha” game — you’ll spend Orbs to roll and hopefully get the Heroes you want from the Summon menu. Thankfully, that isn’t the ONLY way to earn Heroes. You can also get a special Hero through the daily Special Map feature. They cost 5 / 10 Stamina, and usually feature special conditions for victory. New maps rotate in daily, but completing the Special Map will earn you a totally free 1-Star / 2-Star Hero.
These aren’t the most powerful Heroes. You won’t earn 3 / 4 / 5 Star Heroes instantly like if you were to Summon, but these battles only cost Stamina. Don’t worry, you can upgrade Heroes — there are a couple ways to turn your 3-Star heroes into 4-Star Heroes.
You Can Upgrade Your Heroes
Every time a Hero reaches Level 20, you’ll get the opportunity to increase their Star-Rank. That means 1-Star Heroes can become 2-Star Heroes, 2-Star Heroes can become 3-Star Heroes, and so on all the way up to 5-Star.
You gain levels by defeating enemy units and earning XP. Once they reach 20, you’ll get the option to completely reset their stats (and level!) but increasing a 3-Star Hero to a 4-Star Hero can make all the difference.
- Here’s How Upgrading Works:
- At Level 20, a Hero can upgrade to +1 Star-Rank.
- This will cost Badges (Same Color As Hero) + Feathers / Shards / Crystals.
- It does not cost Orbs.
- Upgrading Star-Rank will reset the Hero’s stats / XP level.
The higher the Star-Rank you want to upgrade, the more components you’ll need to spend. One of these components, the color-coded Badges / Great Badges, are earned by sending Heroes to the Training Tower.
- How to Earn Badges / Great Badges
- Get badges by entering the Training Tower.
- Colors are rotated daily. Only Heroes of the same color (Red/Blue/Green/Grey) can earn Badges during each rotation.
- Level 1-5 unlocks Badges, Level 6+ unlocks Great Badges.
Shards / Crystals can also help. These items increase Hero levels up to a certain point — you can increase a Hero’s level up to 19 with Shards, and gain levels past 20+ with Crystals.
Improve Your Castle / Barracks For Huge Benefits
One aspect of Fire Emblem Heroes that’s easy to overlook is the castle. Here, you can spend Orbs to upgrade and earn more XP per battle, or increase the amount of Heroes you can hold in your roster. If you have spare Orbs, or want to spend money to unlock a few more, don’t forget to use them at the Castle.
- Upgrades are purchased from the Shop menu. By spending Orbs on the Castle, you can increase how much XP your earn by +20% per Orb. You can increase your XP earning by up to 100%!
- 1 Orb = +20%, 2 Orbs = +40%, 3 Orbs = +60%, 4 Orbs = +80%, and 5 Orbs = +100%
That’s a lot of bonus XP. If you’re looking to be frugal, you’re free to totally ignore the Barracks. Your starting roster is 200 Heroes, which should be more than enough to last a casual (or even not-so-casual) fan for a very long time.
Save Up 20 Orbs For The Cheapest Hero Summons
Speaking of Orbs, it’s time we talk about them. Orbs are the premium currency of Fire Emblem, and you can purchase more from the Shop at any time.
Orbs are primarily used to get new Heroes from the Summon screen — but you can also spend Orbs to upgrade the Castle / Barracks.
You can Summon up to 5 Heroes at a time, and the more heroes you summon (all at the same time) the cheaper they’ll be. There’s a discount for using all 5 Summon slots.
It’s better to save your Orbs and unlock five Heroes all at the same time, than it is to waste Orbs purchasing 1/2/3 Heroes every time you visit the Summon screen.
Using Orbs sounds expensive, but you can get Orbs for free if you’re diligent.
Login Everyday For +2 Orbs (And Get +1 Orb Rewards)
Every day you login, you’ll get a +2 Orb reward. You’ll also get +1 Orb per Story mission you complete. Rewards don’t reset, but you can also replay maps on harder difficulty levels to earn new +1 Orb rewards. There are couple of other ways to earn Orbs, and we’re hoping Nintendo will reveal special events down the line.
- How to Earn Free Orbs
- +2 Orbs Daily Login Bonus
- +1 Orb Story Completion Rewards
- +15 Orbs Tutorial Completion Reward (One Time Only)
- +10 Orbs For Linking Your Nintendo Account (One Time Only)
We’re crossing our fingers for even more Orb plans, but for now you’ll have to purchase Orbs if you want even more. There’s just one problem — not all of the Orb purchases are cost-effective. Some of them are a total rip-off!
Want To Spend Money? Don’t Buy The 140 Orb Pack!
Fire Emblem Heroes is a F2P game, but it’s got to make money. We totally understand that — what we don’t understand is why the most expensive Orb Pack isn’t the best deal on Orbs. You’ll actually be better off spending money on smaller packs that are more cost-effective.
Thanks to Redditor omgwtfhax, and a little bit of basic math, we’ve figured out the actual cost-per-orb amount per pack, and the 140 Pack ($74,99) is actually worse than the next-lowest pack. That’s right, the 75$ is actually a slightly better deal. The same thing happens when we calculate the 35 Orb Pack vs. the 23 Orb Pack. Here’s the full list of prices, as revealed by omgwtfhax_: