I am at the point in Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest where I am beginning to dread every chapter that awaits me. The developers, Intelligent Systems, were not kidding when they said that Conquest was far more difficult compared to Birthright. I play on Hard-Classic, it’s not even the hardest difficulty, and yet each mission feels very punishing. And I love it.
Three years ago I wrote a blog post about how stupid Lunatic mode is for Fire Emblem: Awakening. It was hard as hell NOT by clever map design, but due to the ridiculously over-inflated stats of your enemies on each map. Some of them are even carrying high-damage Silver weapons from as early as Chapter 2! It’s not fun, there is only one way to play, and it does not feel rewarding even after you complete each mission.
Finally, in Conquest, we get the exact opposite. Challenging missions that are well designed due to a nasty objective (survive a horde of enemies for 14 turns on Chapter 10), or some unique mechanic that forces you to think outside the box (those damned Kitsune illusions on Chapter 19). But you are given the freedom to carve out your own winning strategy. You can use any lineup, you don’t have to rely solely on the Avatar or an overpowered child to help carry you. I’m now on Chapter 20 and only just obtained my first S-support rank that will grant access to Kana.
I’ve been reading some Fire Emblem forum topics on Reddit and Serenes Forest just to compare strategies with other players, and everyone has their own successful, varying styles for conquering Conquest.
1) Use Forrest (Leo’s child), he’s a mage with really high MA growths. Most enemies in the game tend to have higher DEF than RES.
2) Use Charlotte, she’s a crit monster as Berserker. And there are many Spear Fighters/Masters that you want to crit to oblivion in Conquest.
3) Change Odin’s class to Lodestar or Dread Fighter so he can make use of his STR growth, and equip him with backup magic weapons like Levin Sword or Flame Shuriken.
4) Etc. , etc.
To be fair, number 3 doesn’t work for everyone because not everyone has access to the DLC path bonuses or Amiibos. But you get the idea. There is always some nuance, some new hidden tactic waiting to be discovered.
My own strategy? Use characters with high Def (Effie, Beruka, Camilla, Xander) to tank hits. Position Elise/Felicia/Jakob/Azura within two squares to further reduce damage. Place Elise adjacent to reduce even more damage. That’s it. Unlike Awakening, where dodge-tanking seemed far more reliable, Conquest tends to have a lot of enemies with very high skill (ninjas, ninjas, bloody ninjas) to mitigate dodging. Also, the new debuff mechanic from knives/daggers and Enfeeble staves is really evil. I’d prefer to have a debuffed meatshield-tank on the frontlines, rather than a debuffed dodge-tank who will die if the RNG isn’t playing nice.
I play a lot of turn-based games and the hallmark of a truly great game, a FUN game, is the ability for the player to win with any reasonably plausible strategy. Where Awakening’s Lunatic mode failed, Conquest has stepped up and succeeded. I’m fairly new to the Fire Emblem series, but it’s already one of my favourite turn-based series right alongside XCOM and Jagged Alliance.