Assessing Fire Emblem Birthright Personal Skills
Around six months ago, I did a post where I assessed the various skills1Well…when I originally wrote this, it was 6 months. Now it’s closer to 10 months. that units could obtain in the main story of Fire Emblem: Awakening. Even earlier last year, I theorycrafted some personal skills for FE: A characters as if they were in the Fire Emblem: Fates edition of games. That said, I realized a few weeks ago that I had never gotten around to writing a post I’d meant to create along with either (if not both) of those posts. What are the best personal skills in the Fire Emblem: Fates trilogy of games?
In the Fire Emblem: Fates games — Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation — each unit gets a skill that’s exclusive to them. This skill cannot be inherited by child characters, nor unequipped by the character that has it. The intent is to give each character their own quirks, so that even units of the same class has slight advantages or disadvantages over one another depending on the situation.
Instead of doing Fire Emblem: Revelation as a whole game2Revelation is essentially the combination of both Birthright and Conquest, the two main storylines in the Fates series., I decided to look at Birthright and Conquest as separate entities with separate character rosters. After all, the two games play very differently. What’s good in Birthright and its more casual play style might not be as good in Conquest and its more objective based maps.
As was the case with my analysis of Fire Emblem: Awakening’s mainline story skills, I’ve broken the 41 personal skills from Fire Emblem: Birthright down into tiers. In this case, however, I’ve gone with six unbalanced tiers, as I do think there drastic differences in the quality of some of the personal skills, especially at the lower end of the quality spectrum. The largest tier features 10 personal skills, while the smallest tier features only 4 skills. Like the last skill assessment post, I factored my own personal preference and the activation rates of these skills into my thoughts, as well as the usefulness of the skill in the main storyline of the game. Since each of these skills can only be accessed by one unit, accessibility and inheritance were not considered.
Tier 6: Worthless in the Main Story
The Skills: Capture (Orochi), Sweet Tooth (Asugi), Pyrotechnics (Saizo), Born Steward (Dwyer), Divine Retribution (Azama)
The Why: Let’s lead off with the most polarizing skill in the Fates series: Capture/Kidnap3In Conquest, Niles has an identical skill to Orochi’s Capture skill called Kidnap.. If you could capture the main story units from the other kingdom, this would be a great skill. If you could capture units that you could support your units with so that you’re not forced to play female Corrin to get all the kids, this would be a great skill. But all you can capture is fodder. So no. Of the Wait skills4Skills that require your unit to use the Wait command instead of attacking/healing/rallying., Asugi’s is the least useful, not because recovering HP is bad, but because you recover so little HP that it’s pointless. Pyrotechnics requires the already squishy Saizo to be at low health for it to activate, while Azama’s skill requires you to unequip all your weapons. In a war game5I get that you can stack Divine Retribution with Counter for MASSIVE damage if Azama survives, but I’d rather he just be able to defend himself.. And then there’s Dwyer, whose Born Steward skill is nearly exclusively used in online play. Congratulations, Dwyer! You made me not think everything about Azama is the worst.
Tier 5: Waiting For Death
The Skills: Perspicacious (Yurimara), Competitive (Takumi), Perfect Pitch (Shigure), In Extremis (Scarlet), Optimist (Kiragi), Calm (Hisame), Shuriken Mystery (Kagero)
The Why: Yurimara’s skill is super useful, but you’re likely never slotting him into your team at the expense of a better unit. Similarly, while Competitive is amazing, Takumi is all but guaranteed to outlevel whoever he’s partnered with unless it’s Ryoma, Hinoka, or Corrin6And let’s be real. None of them need Takumi.. Scarlet’s skill is Wrath on steroids, which would be great if she wasn’t extremely weak to bows. Kiragi and Hisame’s Wait-procced skills give them needed stat boosts, but it’s almost like they should be receiving the other’s boost. Kagero’s anti-dagger abilities are great when you need them, but by the time she arrives in the game, you’ve likely got other ways to deal with dagger users. Finally, Shigure’s skill heals anyone nearby when he uses Rally, but his Skill and Strength growths make him a much better fighter than a cleric.
Tier 4: Playthrough Dictated Skills
The Skills: Devoted Partner (Felicia), Evasive Partner (Jakob), Vendetta (Rhajat), Highwayman (Shura), Perfectionist (Subaki), Pride (Hayato), Vow of Friendship (Silas)
The Why: If you’re using Felicia, Jakob, or Silas as Corrin’s S or A+ support, their skills are amazing. If you’re not, they have zero use in that playthrough7M-Corrin/Felicia is my OTP for Birthright. Unlike Awakening, where I have very strong feelings about shipping, this is the only one in Fates I feel strongly about.. Like Yurimara in the previous tier, Shura has a good skill, but he’s hard to slot on a team since he has limited supports. He’s at least a better unit than Yurimara, so it’s easier. Subaki and Hayato’s skills require you to keep them at full health and underleveled, respectively. If you can do that, great, but it’s not as easy as it seems. Finally, while Rhajat’s skill looks great on paper, she’s not tanky enough to keep battling the same units over and over again on a map to get Vendetta’s boosted damage.
Tier 3: (Mostly) Situational Skills
The Skills: Mischievous (Sophie), Fiery Blood (Rinkah), Optimistic (Setsuna), Supportive (Corrin), Morbid Celebration (Reina), Forager (Mozu), Haiku (Mitama), Reciprocity (Kaden), Triple Threat (Hinata)
The Why: Mischievous is the only true defense dropping skill, making it pair well with Luna. That said, it doesn’t drop defense enough for it to be great if Luna doesn’t proc. The remaining skills here all require you to meet certain conditions for them to work right. Most of these skills, save for Supportive, require your unit not to be at full health in order for them to trigger. Reciprocity provides some support to your healers, but not enough to set it apart from this tier. Similarly, the healing amounts you get in this tier are either too small (Haiku, Forager) or so far overkill (Optimistic) that they’re frustrating to use. Triple Threat, Morbid Celebration, and Supportive are all good skills, but all have something holding them back. For Triple Threat, it’s the low HP threshold, for Supportive, it’s the fact that Corrin will usually be a lead unit, and for Morbid Celebration, it’s the fact that it’s on Reina. Fiery Blood is the best skill in this tier, but is held back slightly by the fact that you have to take a hit to get it to kick in. And considering Rinkah’s low resistance growths, that’s not always a good thing.
Tier 2: Great, But Not Overpowered, Skills
The Skills: Miraculous Save (Kaze), Noble Cause (Shiro), Lucky Charm (Midori), Fearsome Blow (Hana), Bushido (Ryoma), Draconic Heir (Kana), Peacebringer (Izana), Prodigy (Caeldori), Healing Descant (Azura)
The Why: Miraculous Save is a skill you never hope you need to have, but you’re happy when it’s there. It’s major downfall is that it’s trigger is based on the Luck stat of the unit that’s hit, not Kaze’s. Ryoma and Shiro’s skill are perfect for the father/son duo’s roles as protectors of their group, as they’ll generally be paired with lower-level and full HP units, respectively, anyway. Midori’s Lucky Charm skill is a more limited version of Rightful King from Awakening, and though it’s not as good, it still stands above many other skills. Hana’s personal skill works well if she’s leading the charge into battle as a Master of Arms, though Vantage users can give her teammates trouble if Hana accidentally triggers that threshold. Kana and Azura’s healing skills are much more reliable than lower tiered healing skills, so they get the bump to this tier. Izana’s damage reduction skill is the best skill you’ll encounter in a support limited unit, not to mention it stacks really well with Sakura’s tier 1 skill. That said, since it lowers your own units’ damage output too, it gets stuck in tier 2. Finally, Caeldori can get one of the biggest damage boosts in the game at nearly all times, so long as she’s careful about picking her opponents. The fact that she has to be careful at all is the only thing that keeps Prodigy from the top tier.
Tier 1: Burn Nohr to the Ground
The Skills: Nohr Enmity (Oboro), Playthings (Selkie), Quiet Strength (Sakura), Rallying Cry (Hinoka)
The Why: Sakura and Hinoka give damage reduction and damage boosts, respectively, to those close by them, meaning you want them in the middle of your army at all times. For Sakura, this is much easier, though Hinoka is a bit more flexible, given that her mobility allows you to use her damage with other mobile units to outflank your enemies. Selkie’s Playthings ability is a more reliable, albeit less powerful, version of Hana’s personal skill. The fact that you don’t have to put any guesswork into if a kill will happen to know if you’ll get Selkie’s splash damage is great. And then there’s Oboro. Nohr Enmity is not only one of my favorite skills in the game8My favorite skill is Haiku. I know it’s not great. But it’s just so well thought out with Mitama’s character., it’s also the one skill that’s going to come into play in nearly all situations in Fire Emblem: Birthright. Takumi may have a grudge against Nohr, but Oboro is the true vengeful being.