by Eric Van Allen
Players of Nintendo’s newest mobile game love to hate and hate to love one specific unit, the mere presence of which has been defining the endgame experience.
Fire Emblem Heroes boils Nintendo’s handheld strategy series down to its barest bones, a four-on-four deathmatch that plays out like medieval fantasy chess. Though a large amount of content is played against the computer, the heart of the game resides in the arena, where players draft arena teams and then play against others’ best for rewards.
Finding the best possible team to draft is a game of checks and balances. Though swords (red) excel against axes (green), they fall to lances (blue), which are bested by axes. Some units have unique properties, like the ability to heal others instead of fight, cripple enemy movement or lower defences. Any number of units can wane in and out of viability depending on the match-up; the strategy is in determining how best to out-manoeuvre and counter the enemy team, which is controlled by an AI in arena.
Though Heroes’ rock-paper-scissors system offers a fair amount of intricacy right now the arena meta-game is being dominated by a single unit named Takumi. An archer from the Birthright campaign of Fire Emblem Fates, he has a number of strengths and very few weaknesses.
As an archer, Takumi can’t attack adjacent foes, and has to have a single tile’s worth of distance between him and his target. He gets an exception with his Close Counter ability, though, which allows him to counter-attack units from any distance, and if your swordsman manages to close the gap, he still has to out-damage Takumi in the 1v1, which is difficult thanks to Takumi’s generous stat gains. Add on that archers have no standard weapon weaknesses like swords or axes, and he has very few hard counters compared to most units currently in Heroes.
Those embroiled in the theory crafting of late-game PvP in Heroes are already discussing arena drafts with the threat of Takumi in mind. If you have one of your own, he’s the anti-Takumi; if you don’t have a Takumi, then you need to find an answer.
I figured out how to beat Takumi pic.twitter.com/7TqlYCpukO
— am cosmos (@acosmos) February 13, 2017
Hector can provide an interesting counter, in that he’s a beefy axeman who can swing back from any distance, but it requires positioning him in a place where he won’t get countered by the prevalent sword-users and red-magic heroes that populate the game. Robin’s special ability, which gives him more power against colourless units like archers, helps him if he has the advantage, but does nothing if Takumi is the first to strike.
Most players have been using a mix of Brave weapon wielders like Abel, who get to swing twice and first if they initiate combat, and units like Robin who can pick off Takumi if they get the advantage. Still, drafts centre around the imposing archer, regardless of him being a rare summon in the first place. Kagero has been making waves in the past week as a “neutral nuke,” answering the infantry-heavy drafts (and Takumi) with a 50 percent bonus against anyone on foot, even beating counters like Robin and potentially one-shotting a good deal of the roster.
Higher level players, especially those who have put in the time to bring a variety of units up to the level 40 cap and experiment with compositions, have been finding some specific counters that let them answer the archer. For casual or aspiring competitive players though, Takumi still dominates the conversation, and even regardless of theory-crafted counters gets frequent play.
In a reddit guide made by several high-tier arena players, four of the six used Takumi in their team. Hopefully, his sheer jack-of-all-trades strength is addressed by future unit additions and patches. For now? You might want to think about drafting some anti-archer units in your arena drafts if you want to finish those quests.