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[Let's Play] Fire Emblem : Genealogy of the Holy War


grievous lack of
Validated User
This is about gauging interest first.

The fourth game in the tactical rpg series of Fire Emblem was released in 1996 on SNES. It never had an official English release, but there are two fan translations, including one that was only completed a couple of years ago.

Well loved by the Fire Emblem fandom, it featured a story with an epic scope and tragic tone that is often compared to Game of Thrones, and had the unique characteristic of spreading over two generations of characters. Despite its age making it relatively underwritten, the narrative and characters are evocative enough to still pack a punch. For myself, I consider it my second favourite Fire Emblem game, after Radiant Dawn.

It's got a lot innovative mechanics, some of which would evolve to become iconic Fire Emblem features such as Support mechanics and Skills and even the Weapon Triangle which it was the first FE to showcase... others would be forever forgotten. And long before Awakening or Fates, it was the first Fire Emblem where you could pick and match characters in order to affect the characteristics of their future children.

I've played it a couple of times already (and have an unfinished third game); and I thought it would be fun to try a let's play on rpg.net for it. Because there are meaningful choices to make (especially: pairings for children), I'll let the readers of the thread vote on those choices after I explain the advantages and disadvantages from a narrative and gameplay PoV of each.

So who would be interested?
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Registered User
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Sounds fun. Regarding character deaths, is everyone gonna live through the power of elite skillz and save scumming (provided they can, I imagine there might be some plot deaths) or will it be up to cruel RNG gods and ruthless difficulty fate ?


grievous lack of
Validated User
Sounds fun. Regarding character deaths, is everyone gonna live through the power of elite skillz and save scumming (provided they can, I imagine there might be some plot deaths) or will it be up to cruel RNG gods and ruthless difficulty fate ?
I'm more of a save scumming kind of player, especially since I intend this run to show off the story for a new-(ish) audience who might not want to bother playing themselves. You can try to persuade me otherwise (note that FE4 is one of the rare FE with a canonical mean of resurecting dead characters, albeit in a limited way. The game also does allow you to save ever turns, so saved state abuse isn't even beyond what you could do with the original cartridge)


grievous lack of
Validated User
All right, let's try this!

One rule: no spoilers outside of spoiler blocks, even if the spoilers came from Heroes.

I'd like this to potentially be for readers who don't know anything about the game to experiment the story.

This is what you see when you open the game

Actually it's more detailed because on the you tube video there's subtitles and we haven't got that with the translation patch XD

Then when we go with Start Game, we get a long scrolling timeline:

001 Gran Kingdom Established

230 Becomes Gran Republic

310 Time of Prosperity

440 Loptyr enters Galle
Lopto Sect arises

447 The 12 Deadlords crush the Gran Republic

448 Lopto Empire formed by Archbishop Galle

449 The Great Purge
Over 100,000 casualties

452 The Sorrow of Miletos
Numerous children sacrificed to Loptyr

453 The Slaughter of Edda
Tens of thousands casualties

535 Maira's Apostasy

611 Liberation Army forms

632 Miracle of Darna
The gods descend and bless the 12 Crusaders

633 Beginning of the Holy War

648 Lopto Empire falls
The Crusaders found 7 allied duchies and 5 separate kingdoms

649 Grannvale Kingdom established

757 Grannvale Military leaves for Isaach

The disturbance begins anew...

So that's the history of the world we're set in. Things were ok for a while, then there was an Evil Empire which lasted a couple of centuries, then the gods blessed 12 Crusaders who ended the Evil Empire and founded new kingdoms and things have stood like this since for about 100 years (which is much less since the time of legends and gods than is usual in most Fire Emblem).

Saint Heim, one of the 12 Crusaders. Heim's descendant, the Royal Family, were joined by six additional duchies, each with their own Crusader lineage. Each duchy possessed large territories and military holdings, and exercised partial autonomy while serving under the the Royal Family.

(the duchies here are Freege, Velthomer, Dozel, Edda, Chalphy and Jungby. Barhara is the capital.)

the government was administrated by the highly regarded Prince Kurth.

of Jungby.

(Prince Kurth is top right. Lord Vylon is in the middle and Lord Ring is bottom left.)

Prime Minister Reptor of Freege felt his position was undermined.

coalition opposing the Prince's authority.

(Reptor is the guy with the evil monocle, and Langbart the bearded one.)

The young lord Arvis of Velthomer, commander of the Royal Guard, had little involvement in governmental affairs.

(Arvis is the redhead bishounen and Claud is the blond bishounen.)

So that sets up each of the Duchy's current ruler as well as the royal house. I hope you took some notes on all this, there will be a quizz next tuesday.

Just as this drama was beginning to unfold, news of calamity arrived from the east.

(map shifts to the north-east)

by Isaachian barbarians. Report told of massive slaughter taking place.

Back in Grannvale, public outcry began to grow, and before long the decision was made to subdue Isaach.

Acting on his father's behalf, Prince Kurth departed for the front commanding the lord from each duchy. There at his side, a warrior in his own right revered for his heroism and bravery, was none other than Lord Vylon.

The narrative sure likes Lord Vylon.

Yeah so that sure was some infodump, much of which won't even become relevant until quite latter.

Only a handful of soldiers remained in Grannvale.

(map moves west of Grannvale)

(and then south-west)

fear of any kind of aggression was virtually nonexistent.

However that trust was betrayed all too soon.

(gee, what a surprise)

Verdane Kingdom's massive army, spearheaded by Prince Gandolf, crossed into Grannvale territory unnoticed and laid siege to Jungby Castle.

(I don't need to tell you which one is Gandolf and which one is Adean, right?)

Sigurd stayed behind at Chalphy Castle. With only a few soldiers at his disposal, he was rightfully terrified when news of the invasion reached Chalphy.
Sigurd cried, "those barbarians aren't laying a hand on Adean!" Having known Adean since childhood, he was left with no other alternatives. Sigurd promptly made the decision to take up arms.

Gran calendar - 757
It was this very turn of event that cracked open the door of fate.
No one at this time could have recognized this forewarning to the disastrous events to follow.

Well that's not ominous at all...

Prologue: Birth of the Holy Knight
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Registered User
Validated User
Cool to see this happening!

I don't think I ever paid a much attention to the relative length of the timeline as I should have, and it is pretty much shorter or more condensed than usual for Fire Emblem. I want to say it's also more detailed than usual - which gives off the impression that it's not simply a time of legends and gods, but it's also real, studiable history. (I expect noble children of Jugdral do get quizzed on the events told in this chronology.)

So many grey-haired old men. So many faces whose names and respective titles I sure hope we get reminded of, I'm not ready for that quizz T_T . Prince Kurth and Arvis and Claude do stand out a lot. Especially the latter two, being linked together by their relative youth. Or, in Arvis' case, by the narrative emphasizing that he's young. (Though Claude gets the wider eyes.)

The narrative sure likes having opinions. On the same note as the narrative liking Lord Vylon a lot, I like that the narrative goes out of its way to give Sigurd a voice, before there's dialogue. We don't get just the gist of it, we get to hear Sigurd's words. I always thought it was pretty cool, like the camera, which had panned over Grannvale from a distance with a voice-over, zoomed in and caught Sigurd in the middle of a scene.


grievous lack of
Validated User
Cool to see some enthusiasm :D

I like that the narrative goes out of its way to give Sigurd a voice, before there's dialogue.
Yeah, and it makes a good work of making Sigurd sound passionate and dashing.

Anyway, I thought there might be something wrong with the file I was using and turns out I was right: I wasn't using the Project Naga, aka latest translation patch but an old one instead.

For exemple of the difference, the Project Naga patch does have the translation of all the text in the opening sequence I linked to in video and the names of the map do match the name in the text (no Barhara when the text says Belhalla, or Granbell whe the text says Grannvale)

And it does translate the chapter title too:

And it's generally more complete, as the initial translation patch had some missing parts. It's also written with a more formal and literary writing style, which is generally better but at occasion I could nitpick about trying too hard (like, it goes on about the "threshold of destiny" instead of the "door of fate" that is at the end of the opening narration and I'm not sure that's an improvement) but all things considered it's a better one.

I love the way the little sprites of the enemy are crawling over the map to invade Jungby.

The sprites in the game are not as cute as the GBA ones, and often are plain ugly; but I still love sprite work ^_^

Aideen: You must ensure that as many of you survive this as possible.

Midir: No, milady. We might not stand a chance, but every last one of us will give our lives to protect you, right to the very end.

Aideen: Thank you, Midir... I'm so sorry.

(Tell me if switching text color for characters doesn't work out for you. The idea is have it pop out more, not making it hard to read.)

Sigurd: Noish, I'm going to help her. I'm leaving Chalphy in your hand.

Noish: Hold, milord. Surely you don't intend to go alone?

Sigurd: Nearly all our forces are already on the march to Isaach with Father. There's hardly anybody left to call upon.

Noish: Perish the thought, milord! I was born a knight, and I will gladly risk dying a knight's dead in your name. To allow our lord to die alone in battle would be an unspeakable disgrace. We shall be by your side, every step of the way.
Alec, I trust you're of the same mind?

Alec: Those thugs'll try to beat us to them, and they'll loot, massacre, and burn them all down if they do. We've gotta get there first, and lend the locals a hand in locking the village down and fortifying their defenses.

Sigurd: Absolutely. We mustn't neglect our knightly duties to the people, especially not at a time like this. Good point, Alec.

Alec: Actually that was all Oifey's idea. The kid's every bit the tactician they say he is. Give him a few years and he'll be a match for his old grandpa, Lord Cesare!

Oifey: I can't just sit back here while you risk your lives.

Sigurd: I don't know... You're still so young. Are you sure you're ready for this?

Oifey: I'm already fourteen, sire. I may not be battle-ready just yet, but there's still so much I can do to support you. Please, allow me to accompany you. I swear I won't let you down!

Sigurd: Fair enough, Oifey. After all, you've already spent two years training as my squire. Real battlefield experience would be fantastic for your training, but you're still definitely not up to actual combat duty for now. How about you ride with me as my advisor instead?

OIfey: Y-yes! Thank you, sire! Thank you!

(One drawback of the Project Naga translation is that it does that thing that drives me crazy with using "sire" with an e as if it was "sir". "sire" is for kings, not lords >_>;. I remember haing the same issue with the latter FE6 translation fanpatch as well. Maybe the same people were involved.)

Noish: Milord, what of the defense of Chalphy itself in our absence? Leaving the castle unattended is risky. Should the enemy slip past us, an unguarded castle will fall easily and spell us a swift end.

Alec: Sturdy as a brick wall! Strong as an ox! Slow as a turtle! Face it, Arden, you were born for guard duty! Haha!

Arden: Pah... I'm strong and tough, I know, but you really don't need to call me slow!

Sigurd: He has a point, Arden. Would you? You're the most apt at guard duty.

Arden: Sigh... Fine, I'll do it. But you have to bring me with you at least once! I don't want to be left out of the action.

Sigurd: Right, men, it's time to set out. Let's start by assisting the village, and then it's onward to Jungby!

And with that we can finally start the game!!

Anyway this bit of exposition establish our first characters and gives some basic tactical advises:

Sigurd, our Lord, is of course brave and chivalrous. He's also impetuous and ready to take on a real army on his own, and therefore perhaps reckless. He's also pretty good with children and concerned about not bringing them into war right away. I would make fun of him for picking a 14 yo as his tactician, because that could easily be unwise, but it's pretty obvious it's a way for him to include and continue teaching Oifey in the battle without putting him in direct danger.

Gameplay wise:

Most of the stats here should be self evident. FE4 has a separate stat for magical and physical mights, as well as for physical and magical defense (resistance). Luck plays into Avoid and that's all it does.

Sigurd is a pre-promote, which puts him in the rather unique spot of being Fire Emblem's only Jeigan Lord (a "Jeigan" for people who might not be used to the FE fandom, is the name given to the character archetype of a unit available early in the game as a pre-promote which can be used as a crutch to help the other less experienced units but can also turn into a XP devouring trap if you rely too much on them), but is only level 5 so he's got a large margin for growth.

In FE4 promotion doesn't reset the level. Each unit has access to a total of 30 levels before they cap.

He already has some decent stats and is in a class that gives him access to both swords and lances.

As a lord he has Two Leadership Stars, which will boost the accuracy and avoid rate of his followers when within 3 spaces of him.

Also he has one Skill:

In FE4, being able to double units when faster and being able to critic aren't a baseline ability each unit are, but are instead made into Skills that a character may or may not have.

Obviously that means that having access to the Pursuit Skill is very important to the value of a unit.

Sigurd thankfully has it, so he's not going to be entirely useless.

Also we have this third screen:

We're in a setting where characters may have Holy Blood from the 12 possible lineages.

Each lineage of Holy Blood is associated with a weapon. There are 3 lineage associated with Swords, 2 with Lances, 1 with Axes, 1 with Bows, and 1 for each of the magic types: Fire, Wind, Thunder, and Light, and Healing Staff. Swords are over-represented because the game creators have major bias for them ;)

Holy Blood does two things:
- It boosts growth (each Lineage have their own stat picks that they improve)
- It raises the Weapon level associated with the linage that a unit has access to (provided the character is in a class that does give him access to this weapon).

Holy Blood comes in either Minor or Major. With Major Holy Blood, the growth improvement are twice as much as those of Minor Holy Blood, and it raises the Weapon level to the maximum level, giving the character the ability to wield the Holy Weapon of their lineage.

There's a very shiny dot on the chart here, indicating that Sigurd has Major Blood of the Baldur line, one of the Sword one. If you look back up to his character sheet with the Weapon levels, that's why he has a little * in the Sword category, indicating that he's able to wield the Baldur Holy Weapon.

So what does his stat growth look like?

But that's just the natural growth, you need to add the Baldur boost to that:


The Baldur boost are pretty spread out, and a bit average. With Major Holy Blood you can add those twice to his natural growth:

Which gives Sigurd a total of:

Haha, HP growth rate above 100%, a feature of FE4 :)
This may not look outstanding compared to modern game, but FE4 has overall much lower rates and those are pretty good growth. Only the Spd growth is a bit so-so.

Sigurd is a VERY GOOD unit. In fact, if you're cautious and know what you're doing, you could actually solo the first part of the game with him. We're not going to do that because that would be stupid. That he's so good as a unit is, I feel, one of the main reason the fandom tends to hype him so much.

Bias alert: I do not much like Sigurd, and feel he's over-hyped as a character.

OK, that's Sigurd. What about his retainers?

Noish and Alec are a traditional pair of Red and Green Cavalry. Noish is the straight-laced and serious one, and Alec is the more laid-back and flighty one. The exposition laid their characterization down quickly, with Noish's more formal tone and willingness to die in combat, and with Alec's more casual speaking pattern and teasing of Arden (while still worrying about the villagers).

None of Sigurd's retainers have any Holy Blood, btw.

Growth rate:

Noish is more about strength and defense, whereas Alec has more speed and skill.

Also Noish starts with the Critical skill (without which units can't critic) and the Duel skill (which is a fairly weird skill that triggers based on a combination of HP and Speed to allow several more round of combat for both the unit and its opponent. It can actually backfire and i tend to ignore it).

Alec starts with the all important Pursuit skill, and Nihil (which forbids opponents triggering offensive Skills and and Critics against him).

Overall as a unit they're a bit mediocre/average. They have horses, which is pretty important in this game, and are in a fairly flexible class that gives both Sword and Lance access, and they're going to be useful in the first couple of chapters but otherwise they're going to fall easily down unless they're highly invested in. Alec is, as a unit, the one with the most potential of the two because he was smart enough to grab the Pursuit skill. However he's hardly all that good either.

Investing into them as units depends largely to the extent to which you might want to use one or both of them as father to future generations. I'm not going to go into all that goes into that yet, but let's say that while neither of them are a lady's first choice in a pairing partner (from a gameplay point of view, that is), they're both solid mid range options for a couple of ladies so from that point of view they both have a chance.

And then there's Arden:


Arden has the Vantage Skill, which allows to always hit first when attacked when you're at half HP or less.

Arden is all about Strength and Defense and little else. He's an Armor unit, which means he has a very low movement, which is even more detrimental in FE4 than in other FE.

And he's.... well he's just not very good.

From any point of view, really.

Even writing wise, I do not find Arden very appealing. FE has had characters in a similar archetype of being butt ugly but having heart of gold (Gonzales of FE6 springs to mind), but Arden rather fails at even that. I feel he often sound whiny and entitled (to girls) in his dialogue.

The exposition text suggests using him to guard the castle, and while it's a cool aspect of FE4 that your starting castle can be attacked, resulting in a game-over... in practice it's not all that good advice for giving him a role because that just won't happen that often (and even when it does, we'll just rather move troops back to the home castle). Also, staying put means he won't ever get any XP and will become underlevelled quickly.

So yeah, even for me who is the kind of player who tends to go all "let's train EVERYBODY!" at the risk of spreading my ressources too much, I don't much like doing anything with Arden.

And that's what we've got on our hands when we start the game. Oifey is a character with dialogue but not a unit on the map for now, given that Sigurd battle-blocked him.
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Registered User
Validated User
Nice to have some gameplay elements here. I picked the game up because it looked fun and I only played like one FE, so there's interesting info I completely missed (like the two star authority actually giving a buff to nearby units). Still, the fact I seem to spend more time trying to manipulate RNG to have as many units as possible complete the Arena, than playing the actual story missions makes me think maybe I should just keep the game for later.

Also probably not spoiler but I find hilarious that the Verdane kingdom's army seems to be 80% composed of Hokuto no Ken axe weilding bikers (on foot), complete with the slouch and bow legs.
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