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The_antithesis

New idea: Flanking in Fire Emblem?

What do you think?  

18 members have voted

  1. 1. Would flanking (the idea proposed below) be a good addition to the series?

    • Yes, I'd like to see more mechanics to spice up the gameplay
      3
    • Yes, it's a better version of dual strike (from Fates)
      1
    • Yes, it will make things more historically accurate
      3
    • Yes, [insert other reason(s) here]
      1
    • No, this seems too complicated
      2
    • No, dual strike is better
      0
    • No, paired units are cancer anyway
      4
    • No, [insert other reason(s) here]
      1
    • I don't care either way.
      3
  2. 2. Should pair up continue as it was in Fates?

    • Yes, Fates did very well.
      8
    • Yes, but some changes would need to be made.
      4
    • No, pair up is stupid.
      6


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As we all know, pair-up has become somewhat of a staple in the FE  series. However, I was thinking: why not make it more representative of actual war? And so, I came up with the idea of flanking.

The idea of flanking is that you get a bonus for every ally that is 'covering' an enemy. After all, in a real war, if one warrior is facing ten enemies, (s)he would have to multitask so much that (s)he won't be able to concentrate. So, here's how it could work:

If any unit is able to attack another unit, they are 'flanking' the victim unit. If the flanking unit is alone, they reduce all of the victim's stats by 1. If they are paired up, they reduce all of a the victim's stats by 2 (as they are technically 2 units). The weapons triangle advantage would give two bonus flanks. For example, if these units were placed in a line:

Player general (solo) Player bow fighter (solo) Player pegasus knight (paired) Enemy sword fighter (solo) Player axe cavilier (solo) Player mage (paired)

and you were to attack with the pegasus knight, the enemy would be flanked 8 times (4 units attacking + 2 are paired + 2 bonus because lances beat swords. The general on the left doesn't count as 'in range', as it would have to move before attacking.), so all of their stats would be reduced by 8. (Note: stats would be able to go below 0) Your lance fighter would only be flanked once, and only take one penalty point in each stat. This leads to a net gain of 7 stat points to the player unit. This means you deal 14 extra damage, take 14 less damage, AND have a huge buff to hit, avoid and crit. Granted, this is an extreme case, and it would normally be significantly less powerful in actual combat, but this could help massively against bosses, which would also allow us to see more powerful bosses take to the enemy side.

As far as flanking is concerned, all units are equal. It doesn't matter if you're a helpless green villager or the pre-promote, it's always one flanking bonus per unit. So, you may want to keep your villager rescue party at the front lines where you wouldn't otherwise.

Also, if a battle were to contain three or more opposing factions (maybe in a 4-player PvP), the enemies may end up flanking each-other!

However, to make pair-up not completely broken, it would have to be nerfed to about +4-8 bonus (depending on supports) split among all stats, rather than the +12-16 we see in awakening and fates.

So, what do you think of the idea? Could this be the next great change to the series, or is this just me being stupid.

Edited by The_antithesis
'In range' badly defined.

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The idea has merit, but I'm uncertain on the implications for map design and enemy balance. After dipping my toes into Fates maps myself, I'm worried anything the enemies could do involving positioning would cause problems in map design.

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I think FE's strength over other SRPGS is it's stripped down interfase and mechhanics, so I'm not really a fan of adding something complex in, especially if the numbers are so low that you can optionally ignore it.

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I think the flanking bonuses may be a little too high - there ought to be a limit on the number of them, or they should be less severe (one full stat penalty just for standing near an enemy is kind of nuts). On crowded enemy phases like the ones in the 3DS games, you'd end up with -10 or more to all your stats before support bonuses, which wouldn't be any fun since as you lost stats from the horde you would be killing fewer and fewer enemies, and depending on the distance of the effects of flanking it could make it nearly impossible to actually clear out the crowd. 

In other words, it would have to appear in a game with either:

  • Moderate enemy density so your units don't get completely destroyed on Enemy Phase.
  • An extreme imbalance between player and enemy unit power. I would avoid this route, since that's already an issue for Fire Emblem.

It is a cool idea, though. I can imagine how good it would feel to turn the tide of battle as your units get stronger and stronger throughout each map, aside from leveling up. 

I could see it as a "hard mode only" thing akin to when Radiant Dawn ditched the weapon triangle, or maybe something you can turn on/off (a Flanking option similar to Casual versus Classic). 

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1 hour ago, Reality said:

I think FE's strength over other SRPGS is it's stripped down interfase and mechhanics, so I'm not really a fan of adding something complex in, especially if the numbers are so low that you can optionally ignore it.

You raise a good point. There are only 4 variables taken into account when calculating damage, after all, and none of them have multipliers or RNG bonuses. The hit/evasion formula is a bit more complicated, with 7 fixed variables and one random number, but it's still very bare-bones. If flanking is too complicated for FE, it's too complicated for FE.

17 minutes ago, YouSquiddinMe said:

I think the flanking bonuses may be a little too high - there ought to be a limit on the number of them, or they should be less severe (one full stat penalty just for standing near an enemy is kind of nuts). On crowded enemy phases like the ones in the 3DS games, you'd end up with -10 or more to all your stats before support bonuses, which wouldn't be any fun since as you lost stats from the horde you would be killing fewer and fewer enemies, and depending on the distance of the effects of flanking it could make it nearly impossible to actually clear out the crowd. 

In other words, it would have to appear in a game with either:

  • Moderate enemy density so your units don't get completely destroyed on Enemy Phase.
  • An extreme imbalance between player and enemy unit power. I would avoid this route, since that's already an issue for Fire Emblem.

It is a cool idea, though. I can imagine how good it would feel to turn the tide of battle as your units get stronger and stronger throughout each map, aside from leveling up. 

I could see it as a "hard mode only" thing akin to when Radiant Dawn ditched the weapon triangle, or maybe something you can turn on/off (a Flanking option similar to Casual versus Classic). 

Oh, oops. I should have defined 'in range' a bit better :>_<:. I'll edit the original post. Anyway, if you have your army in a vaguely straight line, you probably won't see a flanking bonus higher than about 5 (paired attacking unit with a ranged unit behind them and a weapon triangle advantage) unless you're ganging up on a boss. And that scenario would be good news anyway, as getting a flanking bonus in the double digits to beat a boss 10 levels higher than the party has 'smug player' written all over it!

 

Anyway, thank you all for the constructive criticism! I just threw the idea out there for discussion, and I think I received it.

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I wouldn't mind this, except that, as others said, this would cause a huge issue on Enemy Phases within, say, Chapter 21 of Binding Blade. Either impose a limit on how much stat drop can occur, and/or and have a more equal number of player+allied vs enemy units, like Genealogy of the Holy War. Otherwise, I'd definitely like to see more inspiration on actual warfare, and I'd also like to see more ways of routing an enemy that does not rely on high stats.

As for the question of Pair Up in Fates shown in the polls, that is a very brilliant idea that should stay. As said before, in most other cases, it was mainly a matter of guessing who has the highest stats and the like, and sending those into battle, and I think this inherently makes for relatively limited strategies. In Fates, however, along with Skills and debuff weapons, the Attack Stance allowed for more ways to defeat an enemy (or the enemy to screw me over). They also made EXP feeding Mozu in Paralogue 1 much easier as well, as I could arrange her and a stronger unit in ways that would allow Mozu to fight safely - plus they were much more reliable than the Awakening Pair Up system. For example, I had Mozu attack stance with, say Arthur or Effie, which allowed KOs I could not get otherwise with Mozu. Over in all, raising Mozu in Fates was much easier than Donnel in Awakening.

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I'd prefer something simpler like a unit will suffer Avoid and Critical Evade penalties for each enemy adjacent to them (maybe -5?). This could help dealing with super high avoid enemies. There could also be a skill that makes a character immune to flanking.

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It's a pretty interesting idea and could work if done correctly. If I were calling the shots, I'd probably just make it a scaling avoid penalty (-10/20/30 if surrounded) and leave it at that. Flanking itself isn't really a bad idea really, but it needs to be simple to understand like most FE mechanics if ever introduced. 

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23 hours ago, Augestein said:

No. Flanking is one of those ideas that would be an enemy boost more often than not. Especially as a generalized mechanic. 

This really depends on the player's strategy. If you're going for a traditional LTC strategy where you bait out many units with a beefy knight/cavalier, you will get hurt quite badly by enemy flanking. However, if you either a) bait units one at a time or b) keep your army close (so YOU get a huge flanking bonus) you would likely benefit from flanking. Overall, it would make it a lot easier to 'bite off more than you can chew', and would encourage less risky strategies. However, I can see this completely throwing off veteran players and those going for an LTC.

Also, what's wrong with a hard game?

6 hours ago, NekoKnight said:

I'd prefer something simpler like a unit will suffer Avoid and Critical Evade penalties for each enemy adjacent to them (maybe -5?). This could help dealing with super high avoid enemies. There could also be a skill that makes a character immune to flanking.

A 'multitasker' skill would be quite a useful idea (and pretty essential for LTC runs where you'll be baiting many units at a time) If flanking were in a mainstream FE, I would see this skill coming with it.

24 minutes ago, Deltre said:

It's a pretty interesting idea and could work if done correctly. If I were calling the shots, I'd probably just make it a scaling avoid penalty (-10/20/30 if surrounded) and leave it at that. Flanking itself isn't really a bad idea really, but it needs to be simple to understand like most FE mechanics if ever introduced. 

I've noticed a lot of people are suggesting that flanking be a penalty to avoid. The only issue I can see here is that, because most units will be flanked about 3 times in normal gameplay, it would boost everything's hit rate beyond 100. This would render all the mechanics that affect hit/avoid useless. However, a quick fix for this would be to nerf the hit rate of all weapons to about 50.

The reason why I suggested a penalty to all stats was to a) make sure it actually makes a difference and b) we don't get an extreme case if both sides have a high flanking bonus.

Either way, this is becoming quite the interesting discussion.

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16 minutes ago, The_antithesis said:

I've noticed a lot of people are suggesting that flanking be a penalty to avoid. The only issue I can see here is that, because most units will be flanked about 3 times in normal gameplay, it would boost everything's hit rate beyond 100. This would render all the mechanics that affect hit/avoid useless. However, a quick fix for this would be to nerf the hit rate of all weapons to about 50.

The reason why I suggested a penalty to all stats was to a) make sure it actually makes a difference and b) we don't get an extreme case if both sides have a high flanking bonus.

Either way, this is becoming quite the interesting discussion.

I disagree, in practice on Player Phase it would be a reasonable boost and nothing more unless you're going out of your way to take advantage of the boost and baby a low-hit unit or something. On the Enemy Phase, it's only an issue if you're leading with a unit that can't ORKO the units that would be attacking them on that turn. If you do ORKO, then the enemies die before the boosts have a chance to add up so it becomes less relevant, unless I'm not understanding how you want to introduce this. 

If I were to introduce this feature, I'd probably un-nerf dodgetanking formulas so you'd be encouraged to use dodgy guys to draw smaller/weaker groups of enemies when there's favorable terrain and tanky guys who don't mind taking a hit when there's large numbers on enemies/no terrain. 

With the avoid penalties it could probably even work in both a GBA style FE and a Fates style FE despite being so different. GBA style would encourage you to make sure that you can ORKO enemies before rushing into a huge group or risk getting KO'd as enemy hit rises, and Fates style has lower enemy density so the enemy placements could be even more deliberate to account for flanking (I.E several weaker guys that could surround you followed by a much stronger guy with a powerful but inaccurate weapon).

For bosses, I think it's great ESPECIALLY if they're more GBA syled (I.E almost always planted on a throne). With a generous but fair avoid penalty, you could mitigate some of the luck without completely nerfing the boss into oblivion as would be possible with actual stat penalties.

EDIT: I just realized that you also had 2 Range units give this "flanking bonus" as well. In my mind that wasn't there, so just cap it at a maximum of 4 units in my example (for a total of -30 Avo)

Edited by Deltre

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1 minute ago, The_antithesis said:

This really depends on the player's strategy. If you're going for a traditional LTC strategy where you bait out many units with a beefy knight/cavalier, you will get hurt quite badly by enemy flanking. However, if you either a) bait units one at a time or b) keep your army close (so YOU get a huge flanking bonus) you would likely benefit from flanking. Overall, it would make it a lot easier to 'bite off more than you can chew', and would encourage less risky strategies. However, I can see this completely throwing off veteran players and those going for an LTC.

Also, what's wrong with a hard game?

Not really. It doesn't depend on the player's strategy here. Flanking in Fire Emblem would literally be a mechanic that would more often than not simply help the enemy. "Oh check this out! There's this new mechanic that doesn't really do anything to help you!" Fun. What you just described sounds very sluggish and boring. Baiting one unit at a time? That sounds absolutely horrendous. LTCing has nothing to do with why I think it says like a bad idea. Overall, it would encourage the player to move even slower. It's not even a "don't bite off more than you can chew," it's a "create artificial choke points with your units" a strategy that's already constantly deployed anyways. Status staves -- a feature in Fire Emblem do a much better job of stopping people from playing hyper aggressively. 

Because that's not hard. It's tedious. That's why most people are saying "no," because it's a mechanic that doesn't really work well with the way Fire Emblem is currently setup. And I'll be honest: the "what's wrong with it being hard?" Is quite possibly the weakest defense a person can muster towards criticism. Difficulty is relative, so suggesting that something would make a game "hard" is already a bad sign. 

7 minutes ago, The_antithesis said:

I've noticed a lot of people are suggesting that flanking be a penalty to avoid. The only issue I can see here is that, because most units will be flanked about 3 times in normal gameplay, it would boost everything's hit rate beyond 100. This would render all the mechanics that affect hit/avoid useless. However, a quick fix for this would be to nerf the hit rate of all weapons to about 50.

The reason why I suggested a penalty to all stats was to a) make sure it actually makes a difference and b) we don't get an extreme case if both sides have a high flanking bonus.

Either way, this is becoming quite the interesting discussion.

No it wouldn't. It'd make enemy hits go from say... 50 to 80 within the same turn, which would mean that a person that gets flanked would need more evasion to dodge... Making it more useful than before. You'd need multiple units to boost hit, which is something you'd honestly want to avoid, meaning that powerhouses that have low hit would now have a way to circumvent that (it's still lousy as needing multiple units to boost their hit still kinda blows in this sense).

And all stats makes it literally just a boost towards enemies almost every single time. In many instances in Fire Emblem, you aren't going to be dogpiling one enemy unit because most of the time the enemy units are just flat out weaker than the player units. So quite literally, it's a mechanic that serves no real purpose outside of hurting the player-- mechanics like that are bad in a game. It's some of the reason you already have criticism of attack stance in this: because it more often than not favors the enemy more than the player. However, at least with attack stance, the player can happily make use of it to kill more enemies as well. 

Flanking is just one of those things that wouldn't work as a general mechanic. A skill? Sure. But as a "everyone has this skill?" Just annoying. 

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The strength of FE's mechanics are that they're really simple and boil down to basic addition. My eyes glazed over looking at the OP. Now, flanking's important for like... I don't know the technical term, but Tactics Ogres and FFTs and such, but in FE it seems like it would just lead to your guys getting swamped and picked off through an opaque mechanic, and that would be frustrating.

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Flank attacks like in Project X Zone 2 would be a cool feature.

After you moved and before you will act with your unit you have to choose the direction the unit's looking at... or if you can attack then from which side you want to attack the opponent.

If you attack an opponent from:

  • side: regular hit + critrate
  • behind: +10 hit + 10 crit
  • opposite: -10 hit + -10 crit

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It sounds like it has potential, but it would need to be nerfed.  Would the flanking stack?  or would the flanking penalties (on victim) be one-time?  Would they recover per turn, or act as a status?  How could this open new possibilities to challenging map design? How would this create abuse or flaws in map design?  

I would rather mechanics be balanced and simple, rather than something so complex that it makes the game alienating.  If the games want to show off realism with war, then doing so with map design, and enemy placement/reinforcements should be the way to go.  Thracia did it well in many areas. (Chapter 11)  I'm yet to find a map that does Gurrilla tactics for the player (the player is the one with the home advantage, trying to ambush the enemy) correctly.  For the enemy.... FE 6 is one big Gorilla tactics FE.  

Bulgar...

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4 hours ago, Augestein said:

Not really. It doesn't depend on the player's strategy here. Flanking in Fire Emblem would literally be a mechanic that would more often than not simply help the enemy. "Oh check this out! There's this new mechanic that doesn't really do anything to help you!" Fun. What you just described sounds very sluggish and boring. Baiting one unit at a time? That sounds absolutely horrendous. LTCing has nothing to do with why I think it says like a bad idea. Overall, it would encourage the player to move even slower. It's not even a "don't bite off more than you can chew," it's a "create artificial choke points with your units" a strategy that's already constantly deployed anyways. Status staves -- a feature in Fire Emblem do a much better job of stopping people from playing hyper aggressively. 

Because that's not hard. It's tedious. That's why most people are saying "no," because it's a mechanic that doesn't really work well with the way Fire Emblem is currently setup. And I'll be honest: the "what's wrong with it being hard?" Is quite possibly the weakest defense a person can muster towards criticism. Difficulty is relative, so suggesting that something would make a game "hard" is already a bad sign.

So, the mechanic will hurt players because there are more enemy units, and therefore more chances for the enemies to flank you than you to flank the enemy? You raise a good point. That's the reason why I suggested that units must be right next to the enemy (or 2 spaces away, for archers & mages) to get the bonus, so even if the enemy decides to gang up on a single unit, the penalties won't get worse than about 5 flanks.

I think the conclusion we can draw here is that my penalty for getting flanked is too extreme. Maybe in actual gameplay, they'll nerf it to something like 1 stat penalty per 2 flanks (rounded down) Oh, but that would make it more complicated. ARGH!!

3 hours ago, Parrhesia said:

The strength of FE's mechanics are that they're really simple and boil down to basic addition. My eyes glazed over looking at the OP. Now, flanking's important for like... I don't know the technical term, but Tactics Ogres and FFTs and such, but in FE it seems like it would just lead to your guys getting swamped and picked off through an opaque mechanic, and that would be frustrating.

True, but you could say the same thing for the weapons triangle and effective weapons (archers vs fliers etc.), both of which add to gameplay.

2 hours ago, Magillanica Lou Mayvin said:

Flank attacks like in Project X Zone 2 would be a cool feature.

After you moved and before you will act with your unit you have to choose the direction the unit's looking at... or if you can attack then from which side you want to attack the opponent.

If you attack an opponent from:

  • side: regular hit + critrate
  • behind: +10 hit + 10 crit
  • opposite: -10 hit + -10 crit

Your idea is neat in theory, but having units facing different directions could be hard to telegraph in a stripped down user interface, especially when players are used to units facing a neutral direction. At least with flanking, you could clearly see how many units are flanking each other unit with an addition to the UI, as we're all used to seeing numbers. Maybe it will even be in the combat forecast?

1 hour ago, Lord Tullus said:

It sounds like it has potential, but it would need to be nerfed.  Would the flanking stack?  or would the flanking penalties (on victim) be one-time?  Would they recover per turn, or act as a status?  How could this open new possibilities to challenging map design? How would this create abuse or flaws in map design?  

I would rather mechanics be balanced and simple, rather than something so complex that it makes the game alienating.  If the games want to show off realism with war, then doing so with map design, and enemy placement/reinforcements should be the way to go.  Thracia did it well in many areas. (Chapter 11)  I'm yet to find a map that does Gurrilla tactics for the player (the player is the one with the home advantage, trying to ambush the enemy) correctly.  For the enemy.... FE 6 is one big Gorilla tactics FE.  

Bulgar...

Flanking penalties should be one-time. As soon as the enemy moves, they're no longer flanking you. As for the idea that this is too complicated, I think that's because I explained it badly. (I'm terrible with explanations, and always make things seem more complicated than they are by diving into all the details.) Having to do it from scratch doesn't help either.

As for the poll, it seems to disagree with the comments to say the least! There are 7 in favor, 6 against, and 2 abstaining so far.

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4 hours ago, The_antithesis said:

True, but you could say the same thing for the weapons triangle and effective weapons (archers vs fliers etc.), both of which add to gameplay.

That's +1 damage/+20 hit (or whatever) and vice versa, and x2/x3 damage, and they're both easily described by 'swords beat axes beat spears beat swords' and 'these weapons totally fuck up these dudes'. Both the maths and the bit the player has to factor into their decisions are really simple.

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5 hours ago, The_antithesis said:

So, the mechanic will hurt players because there are more enemy units, and therefore more chances for the enemies to flank you than you to flank the enemy? You raise a good point. That's the reason why I suggested that units must be right next to the enemy (or 2 spaces away, for archers & mages) to get the bonus, so even if the enemy decides to gang up on a single unit, the penalties won't get worse than about 5 flanks.

I think the conclusion we can draw here is that my penalty for getting flanked is too extreme. Maybe in actual gameplay, they'll nerf it to something like 1 stat penalty per 2 flanks (rounded down) Oh, but that would make it more complicated. ARGH!!

In a way. Yes, which makes it a not so great generalized mechanic in that regard. Even with the range bonus and penalties, it still doesn't work out very well. Archers would rarely get the benefit, as the situation where an archer follows up on an enemy is less frequent than when a melee follows up on after an archer. So this is almost an indirect nerf to archers in this regard. And it's not 5 flanks. It's actually 

  e
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10 -- 12 (depending on how it works). Whatever unit is in that is dead as hell. It'd also be an indirect nerf to knights unless they got some sort of flanking bonus against them. The whole point of knights is to be caught in situations like this and live, and here we are making it even more of a bad thing. So they can't even be good in the situation that they should be good in. 

I agree that the penalty is too extreme was my beef primarily. I believe someone toyed with the idea of a class that could flank, and I wasn't opposed to that idea based on the ideas he had. These are just too much here. 

1 hour ago, Parrhesia said:

That's +1 damage/+20 hit (or whatever) and vice versa, and x2/x3 damage, and they're both easily described by 'swords beat axes beat spears beat swords' and 'these weapons totally fuck up these dudes'. Both the maths and the bit the player has to factor into their decisions are really simple.

I think his thing is that simply put, being flanked falls into "don't let enemies gang up on one guy." Which is as easily remembered as WTA and WTD. 

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