Would you believe me if I told you that past Fire Emblem games didn’t have a weapon triangle system? Well, I’m about to tell you past Fire Emblem games didn’t have a weapons system. Now, whether it was because of the limitations of the hardware or if it was something that Intelligent Systems didn’t think of until Genealogy of The Holy War, or it was because of the many challenges of Genealogy of The Holy War would’ve presented sans one (lengthy battles, more enemies, large maps, an improved support system, etc), who knows. But FE4 was the Weapon System’s debut, and it’s been in every game since then.
Let’s go talk about this feature then.
Repeating just for clarity, Genealogy was the first game in the franchise to introduce what we come to know of as a rock, paper, scissors (Jan-Ken-Pon) concept in the game. It’s fairly simple in design and there have been plenty of games before this one to use it (the most famous one would be Rockman, or better known as Mega Man in the US), but the idea of using a weapon in this type style of game is refreshing…and also allows for making a better strategy. You already know the general rules:
Swords > Axes
Axes > Lances
Lances > Swords
Now, let’s just say playing this way has made for easier times, at least for me. I tried Radiant Dawn’s hard mode and proceeded to go vomit after quitting its first chapter. I then realized Shadow Dragon had a similar feature. I haven’t gotten back to that, and plans to get back to it will happen in 10 years. Count on it. That type of play style requires a lot of things: luck, patience, strategy, and actual good units. I had neither of those things.
The weapons triangle, for the most part, hasn’t evolved since its introduction. For the GBA line they did add a similar system of Jan-Ken-Pon to magic attacks (Anima > Light > Dark > Anima), but maybe I’ll talk about that some other time, along with how that got started (also got started in FE4). Also in the GBA was the introduction of the reverse weapons: Lancereaver, Axereaver, and Swordreaver that pretty much changed things up, since that weapon would be a strength as opposed to it being a weakness. However, instead of the usual triangle it’d be
Lancereaver > Swordreaver
Swordreaver > Axereaver
Axereaver > Lancereaver
Don’t worry, it’s pretty confusing, but reduce everything down to its properties. A lancereaver (a sword property) is strong against lances, but weak against axes. A Swordreaver (an axe based property) is strong against swords but weak against lances. Basically, since lance > sword, that solves your dilemma. Yeah, it’s tough isn’t it?
Well, whatever the case, the weapons triangle is mostly efficient in the early stages of a FE game, then it kind of is tempered later in the game because your units are pretty strong after that. Or if you’ve played Shadow Dragon, you’d know that sometimes the system isn’t as effective if your units aren’t that strong. In truth, the system also varies from game to game since there’s stuff it doesn’t take into account. For example, FE7 is traditional compared to all the FE’s before it, since you had bows and magic. In Radiant Dawn, you not only had those but Laguz, crossbows, and none of them have any weaknesses against each other, though they have weaknesses against certain weapons (and in the case of Dragons, they cannibalize each other)…and I haven’t mentioned that game uses Skills, so that changes everything. As Fire Emblem continues on, what exactly will change within the system? Will there be an added weapon with a weakness? I’d be interesting to see what happens after this. But I don’t expect anything too groundbreaking.
(For the record I do prefer Radiant Dawn’s battle system out of all the games in the series).