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Can Fire Emblem games with the Turnwheel still be challenging?

Turnwheel Poll  

56 members have voted

  1. 1. Is it possible for a Fire Emblem game to still be challenging with access to this mechanic?

    • Yes, definitely. Having lots of continues doesn't make a game less challenging.
      17
    • Yes, if sufficiently limited in uses.
      31
    • I don't think so.
      8
  2. 2. What would be the ideal minimum of Uses at the start of a game?

    • 1
      22
    • 2
      13
    • 3
      15
    • 4
      1
    • 5
      1
    • 6 or more
      0
    • I think it should be unlimited
      4
  3. 3. What would be the ideal maximum uses by the end of the game?

    • 3 or less
      20
    • 4-6
      26
    • 7-10
      5
    • Unlimited uses.
      5


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1 minute ago, Etheus said:

This is often done as a form of communication. If I am not mistaken, those knights have no move because they are located next to trap tiles that lower move. If those trap tiles are disabled, they should be able to move.

I didn't disable the traps until much later in the stage. And even if I had, since that would have taken effect on my turn, I would have seen that they could once again move. But no, they were actually literally marked with 0 in their mov stat and then were given it back on enemy phase.

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2 minutes ago, Alastor15243 said:

I didn't disable the traps until much later in the stage. And even if I had, since that would have taken effect on my turn, I would have seen that they could once again move. But no, they were actually literally marked with 0 in their mov stat and then were given it back on enemy phase.

Could the trigger have been something sensible, like using the alternate pathways to get behind the location those knights were protecting or stepping on the trap tile?

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7 minutes ago, Etheus said:

Could the trigger have been something sensible, like using the alternate pathways to get behind the location those knights were protecting or stepping on the trap tile?

It doesn't matter what the trigger is. What matters is that the game chose to give them their movement back on the enemy's turn rather than mine, without ever previously establishing it could change things like that at all, on any turn. And thus I spent the entire rest of the playthrough wondering what else the game would decide to change about a unit on enemy phase. And it turns out the answer was, at least in one chapter, "literally everything".

Strategy games are all about finding solutions to problems you're given. If the game lies about what the problem is and then punishes you for giving an answer you couldn't possibly know is wrong, that isn't good or fun game design for several reasons, not the least of which is that it only works once and has no replay value.

Edited by Alastor15243

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1 minute ago, Alastor15243 said:

It doesn't matter what the trigger is. What matters is that the game chose to give them their movement back on the enemy's turn rather than mine, without ever previously establishing it could change things like that at all, on any turn. And thus I spent the entire rest of the playthrough wondering what else the game would decide to change about a unit on enemy phase. And it turns out the answer was, at least in one chapter, "literally everything".

Strategy games are all about finding solutions to problems you're given. If the game lies about the problem is and then punishes you for giving an answer you couldn't possibly know is wrong, that isn't good or fun game design.

It does matter, if that trigger is something which can be reasonably expected to logically have that outcome. 

 

If this soldier is tasked with the defense of a chokepoint and sees the entire enemy army behind him, he would logically adapt and address the threat. He wouldn't just stand there until the fortress is captured. 

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2 minutes ago, Etheus said:

It does matter, if that trigger is something which can be reasonably expected to logically have that outcome. 

 

If this soldier is tasked with the defense of a chokepoint and sees the entire enemy army behind him, he would logically adapt and address the threat. He wouldn't just stand there until the fortress is captured. 

Sure, that makes sense in real life logic, but not by the rules of the game. And you can't use real life logic as a justification to break the rules you've already established, especially since this kind of "gotcha" difficulty only works once. Ever. It's not fun the first time, and it's just annoying the second time.

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I kind of have a love-hate relationship with the undo buttons. On one hand, it's quite possibly one of the best quality of life changes ever introduced to this series because now I can undo that fatal misclick of hitting "Wait" when scrolls through menus too fast. The problem is, however, I don't make 10+ misclicks per map.

Which leads to the problem... I find myself essentially savescumming for good RNG rolls on low Hit rates or aiming for that one Critical hit to end the map quicker simply because the game allows me to. I have an excessive amount of undos that I simply have no other uses for. In a way, I find this fun to some extent since it allows for some cheesy LTC moments. But it absolutely trivializes any flavor of difficulty that was supposed to be presented.

The undo buttons presented in Fire Emblem thus far simply offer too much freedom. It lets you revert to any point in the map and reroll any battle RNG just by reordering your actions, all for the low cost of one single use. It even bypasses defeat conditions by auto-activating when they are met now. It needs a few changes in order to not be so broken in the player's favor.

1.) Loss conditions are loss conditions; the player needs to be punished and game over if they were playing badly enough to meet them.

2.) Undo usage should increment somehow. Something like one use needed for each action or phase or turn undone as opposed to one use letting you rewind to any point in the map. I'd be more inclined to it being tied to phases if the uses are extremely limited or actions if they continue being so numerous.

3.) Character deaths/retreats should be points of no return. Rewinding to get out of bad situations is one thing since the error was recognized, but players letting those situations unfold (whether it was trying to dodgetank or simply not paying attention) need to learn from their mistakes and play it more safe.

That's what comes to mind for me, anyway. The number of uses is heavily dependent on how the second change is implemented, but I'm more inclined to a lower number overall. I'm open to thoughts and suggestions since this is a rough draft of ideas.

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I'm having a little stress on Hard mode in Three Houses when compared to my normal mode run. Some enemies are actual threats but with above 10+ uses of Divine Pulse, I can guarantee I will never fail a mission. I would probably invest much more time in my strategies if I didn't have so many.

Maybe it's not so bad a thing though. Restarting over entirely can be very frustrating, especially when a low rng chance is involved. Plus, I must admit this is kind of how I played nearly every single non-Tellius games before anyway, using save states instead. 

 

Edited by Vince777

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I've found the turnwheel mechanic to mostly be a time-saver. Maybe its because I have a semblance of integrity but never once was I committed to using it for cheese. It just keeps me from having to reset a whole chapter or lose all my progress, and it lets me test out different things to gain a better understanding of the game mechanics. I think its very valuable for that purpose, especially for players trying out a new difficulty, or just getting into the franchise. 

I only used it once during SoV, during the dumbass broken Berkut and whats-her-face fight, and I've also only really used it during failed clear conditions (as I'm forced to) in 3H, and also during 

Spoiler

CBE, trying to kick Rhea's ass with just 3 units (Byleth, Ingrid, and Petra). It took me 35 turns, by the way. Not my proudest moment.

 

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1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

That would be like a platformer game adding in extra lives and then using it as an excuse to just randomly kill you, just to mix things up. If this is the kind of gameplay we can look forward to in order to justify the turnwheel, holy cow count me out. Like, forever.

Personally i see it more like a platform putting a 1up near a checkpoint and right before a very brutal difficulty spike. It put's a big challenge whitout forcing you to restart the whole level because that one section was too much.

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2 minutes ago, Flere210 said:

Personally i see it more like a platform putting a 1up near a checkpoint and right before a very brutal difficulty spike. It put's a big challenge whitout forcing you to restart the whole level because that one section was too much.

I was talking about the features being suggested to make turnwheel play difficult.

Edited by Alastor15243

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And i consider those things closer to a difficulty spike than to bullshit. But this mostly comes from the fact that imo the games should whithold some information because even with the best intelligence ever you can never know exactly how many enemies are there, exactly how strong they are  wich items are carring and so on. But this is mostly a matter of immersion vs gameplay, and usually i end up on the gameplay side.

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1 minute ago, Flere210 said:

And i consider those things closer to a difficulty spike than to bullshit. But this mostly comes from the fact that imo the games should whithold some information because even with the best intelligence ever you can never know exactly how many enemies are there, exactly how strong they are  wich items are carring and so on. But this is mostly a matter of immersion vs gameplay, and usually i end up on the gameplay side.

You were describing things it's impossible to counter with skill, like badly-handled crit rates on enemies and trap tiles. The trap tiles especially. What's the point of a challenge if you have to lose to it at least once to beat it? And what benefit does that design offer to repeat playthroughs?

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Just now, Alastor15243 said:

You were describing things it's impossible to counter with skill, like badly-handled crit rates on enemies and trap tiles. The trap tiles especially. What's the point of a challenge if you have to lose to it at least once to beat it? And what benefit does that design offer to repeat playthroughs?

You can counter crit rates by luring them and kill them with archers and mages, the trap tile could be countered by giving thieves and archers a trapfinding skills, wich create a tactical challenge in balancing scouting whit frail units and protecting them at the same times. The turnwheel would just make failure more bearable. 

Obviosly there is no guarantee that IS will do what i want.

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1 minute ago, Flere210 said:

You can counter crit rates by luring them and kill them with archers and mages, the trap tile could be countered by giving thieves and archers a trapfinding skills, wich create a tactical challenge in balancing scouting whit frail units and protecting them at the same times. The turnwheel would just make failure more bearable. 

Obviosly there is no guarantee that IS will do what i want.

But then those things don't balance the game around the turnwheel at all. Those are things with reliable strategies you can use to counter them. Which is good game design. But you were instead talking about the turnwheel opening up level design to things that would be psychotically unfair without it, and those don't qualify as examples if designed like that.

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Press Home, press X, press Close.  There, no more turnwheel nonsense.

For those of us that don't have a lot of time, the turnwheel's a way of going "well I played out the first seven turns, I'm not gonna do that again".  I've used it a couple times because some unit wound up in a place that I didn't expect them to.

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I think Turnwheel/Pulse changes the game objective by encouraging you not to lose units, whereas in the past, you were expected to suck up and deal with any unit losses you incurred. The past games, especially the very early ones, are clearly designed around the player losing members of their army as the game progresses. 3H eschews this philosophy in favour of encouraging the player to keep the cast intact, and Pulse is used to make it easy for the player to do that. Personally, I don't think this changes difficulty as long as the game is balanced around it.

My personal theory is that doing no-death runs became more popular as the series's RPG aspects blossomed, when people had real reasons to want to keep the entire cast alive other than "hey, it kind of ups the difficulty a bit." The introduction of Turnwheel/Pulse is a reflection of that shift in the way people played Fire Emblem. 

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I love the Turnwheel mechanic. I am the type of player who plays on Classic but resets when a unit dies, so having the Turnwheel around allows me to "save time" by just going back a few moves and rethinking my strategy. Arguably, using the Turnwheel and resetting is the same thing, because if you reset you will have to do the same moves (or similar) to get up to the point where you "lost," and then make changes to prevent that outcome from happening. I can either Turnwheel back a few moves to fix my mistake, or reset and do everything over again just so I can fix a mistake. For those who value time, the Turnwheel is a wonderful addition.

I also like having the Turnwheel around for other uses, such as trying to see unique boss conversations. I run up some units to hit the boss to trigger the convo, and if the boss dies or the unit is in a bad position, I can use the Turnwheel and take out the boss "normally" instead of trying to see all of the lore.

However, I do agree that the max number of uses is a bit high. I personally think players should start out with 2 Turnwheel uses and end with 6 (at least on harder difficulties). This makes each rewind more of a conscious decision with weight behind it, but still allows some extras to be used for other purposes if desired.

As an aside, the Turnwheel and Casual mode are two separate things. Casual mode allows for a different form of play where players can "sacrifice" units without penalty. On Classic, losing a unit will still likely count as a "loss" for most players, prompting a reset or a Turnwheel use.
* * * * * * * * * *
As for the questions...

Is the Turnwheel easy to ignore if you decided not to use it?
- I always use the Turnwheel if I need or want to, so this doesn't really apply to me.

Should the amount of Turnwheel uses increase at all through progression?
- I believe it should yes.

Should the amount of uses, or even the existence of the mechanic, be tied instead to the chosen difficulty? For example, taking away the Turnwheel for the hardest setting?
- I can see the number of uses going down based off of difficulty, but taking it away completely sorta ruins the point.
- Maybe Fire Emblem needs to make an Ironman mode like they do with XCOM, where the game itself will constantly save and there is no going back if something happens. This may please the more hardcore crowd.

How do you feel about players using the Turnwheel to reroll whether their attack crits or fixing an unintended movement decision? Should we allow the Turnwheel for things like that, or only allow it in cases of units dying?
- The Turnwheel can be used for anything, and like I said previously, I like using it to see different boss conversations and sometimes use it to "save level-ups" that would otherwise result in poor gains. So, I don't mind players using the Turnwheel for "minor things."

Do you find it difficult to compare the difficulty between fire emblem games that do and do not have the Turnwheel?
- Games without the Turnwheel may be seen more difficult because they are more punishing and time-consuming if a player makes a mistake.
- I personally haven't really compared the difficulty between the games, so I find it hard to answer this question.

How do you feel about the Turnwheel being treated as a plot device?
- I don't mind. I found its inclusion to SoV as a gameplay mechanic to be nice, and it makes sense with its inclusion with Three Houses.
- However, at this point I think players will be fine with it simply being a gameplay feature without needing any ties to the plot.

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Regarding what the Turnwheel actually changes, all the pre-Casual Mode-era grognards just scummed with savestates every time someone died anyway.

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I've never had a problem with it. It's not like it's an instant win button, since you still have to go back and figure out what you did wrong and avoid it next time. I guess there's an issue of save scumming for favorable RNG, but it's not like Turnwheel is the only save system that leads to that. And it's easily resolved by making RNG fixed after a Turnwheel use or something, which I think the game maybe already does? I think it does for level ups anyway.

Honestly the most use I got out of it in 3H so far is in some chapters where I need to do actions in a specific order, but messed up the order. Even in cases where it wasn't far into the chapter, it felt like less of a pain to use the divine pulse than resetting.

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11 hours ago, lazu said:

I think Turnwheel/Pulse changes the game objective by encouraging you not to lose units, whereas in the past, you were expected to suck up and deal with any unit losses you incurred. The past games, especially the very early ones, are clearly designed around the player losing members of their army as the game progresses. 3H eschews this philosophy in favour of encouraging the player to keep the cast intact, and Pulse is used to make it easy for the player to do that. Personally, I don't think this changes difficulty as long as the game is balanced around it.

My personal theory is that doing no-death runs became more popular as the series's RPG aspects blossomed, when people had real reasons to want to keep the entire cast alive other than "hey, it kind of ups the difficulty a bit." The introduction of Turnwheel/Pulse is a reflection of that shift in the way people played Fire Emblem. 

Implying that we players didn't reset when a unit died.

(hint: we did)

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@eclipse

I'm not saying that no one did. What I was trying to say was that the developers introduced Turnwheel because they noticed everyone resetting and wanted to speed it up. That's just my opinion.

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If I could design a Fire Emblem game, I'd go all Undertale on the system... though this would probably only work for 1 title...

Fire Emblem has ultimately moved in a direction where players don't want to lose characters. I'm the same. I don't necessarily have the time to just start a new play through if I want to use a certain character. I want all my files to be perfect that way I'm not missing anything that I might need to experience in an all-new play through. So creating in-game systems that make it easy for players to reset is realistically an important quality of life improvement for the players that would otherwise just be hard reseting the console anyway. It saves us time. But there's a way to use that to your advantage...

Every time a unit dies, a hidden value is saved regardless of whether or not you chose to reset and will persist through game overs, or game resets as well. The game will know when you're cheating a character's death, but it won't tell you so until a point in the end of the game where the player will be forced to confront that in some way. Perhaps the Big Bad's selection of units is comprised of all your units that have died at some point in the play through where you prevented their deaths with turnwheel/retreat/game overs/resets. They are manipulated like puppets to fight you but retain their consciousness so they are fully aware of them attacking you, and will be fully aware when you're forced to defeat them... But it gets worse, because any character who died multiple times will be immediately revived by the big bad and you'll be forced to kill them again and again, them fully aware of what's happening, until you've exhausted all the times you've had to reset to save them in the past.

So if you really want that happiest ending where everyone lives, you need to start a new game every single time any unit dies in combat.

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Honestly, after giving this more thought, I think that trying to balance the turnwheel might be misguided and actually a fundamentally bad idea for an entirely different reason than I had been previously arguing (though I find those still completely valid). The people who like the turnwheel seem to like it because it means they can play without ever having to see the game over screen. So wouldn't making these people more likely to see the game over screen completely defeat the point? Completely overhauling the entire game system, and likely making a lot of changes the hardcore audience is going to utterly despise, for the sole purpose of making sure that even when making full use of the turnwheel, there's still a high risk of seeing the game over screen... who exactly is that decision going to please?
 

I think the best thing for everyone would be to just make it an optional feature that can be customized to have as many or as few uses as you like, and stop trying to force them into core gameplay. Nothing good will come from trying to force everyone to need it.

Edited by Alastor15243

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Thank you all for the wide variety of viewpoints. What prompted me to ask the question about whether the games can be really challenging is that some of us would claim we haven't seen proof of that yet. I know two games doesn't make a pattern and the premier cause is IS' unwillingness to make a third difficulty, but I really appreciate the effort I've seen in those games to make them trickier and more engaging. Why don't they feel like they have some bite at the end of the day? I beat both of them on their hardest settings for my first playthrough which felt odd. I never got close to running out of charges in Three Houses. I actually did run out in Echoes' finale and had unintended deaths on top of it, so I guess I forgot about that fiasco.

I thought about some other games, like Super Meat Boy, where the player respawns near instantly upon death and that each challenge averages out to maybe 15 seconds of incredible play that the player must master. It's one of the hardest games I've ever beaten but I know it's fun every step of the way because its generous checkpointing encourages the player to move forward and keep trying no matter how long it takes. Lots of indie games have a system like this regardless of difficulty. Doesn't the turnwheel do the same thing? The only difference is I decide when/if to use it. And unlike save states the game was built with it in mind. Maybe the number of charges is ultimately irrelevant. If I heard about somebody beating the hardest Fire Emblem by spamming turnwheel, it doesn't bother me, and it probably felt good for them if they went through with it.

Edited by Glennstavos

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