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AnonymousSpeed

Weapon Rank vs Weapon Level vs Other Stuff

Best Way to Handle Weapon Ranks?  

19 members have voted

  1. 1. Well?

    • Weapon Rank (Like A Lot of Games)
      16
    • Static Weapon Ranks (Genealogy)
      1
    • Weapon Level (FE3)
      2
    • No Such System (Gaiden)
      0


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Weapons are a core mechanic in Fire Emblem. Most games in the series have some sort of stat requirement to wield certain weapons.

In the GBA games and just about every release since, this has been Weapon Rank. But is that the best system, though?

I would argue that Weapon Rank is actually one of the worst systems that Fire Emblem has employed to restrict weapon usage. Weapon ranks level up by using a weapon of the corresponding type, but this takes forever to do and it means weapons gained on promotion tend to be pretty useless, because they start at such a low rank and it takes forever to boost that rank up. It's really tedious and restricts you to what you've already done the most of, which is really lame.

In Genealogy, weapon rank doesn't increase as you use weapons, it instead depends on class and holy blood. I think this allows for more precise balancing, at least in concept, and it means you aren't hitting things with an Iron Bow 100 times just so you can use a Killer Bow.

Gaiden did away with systems like this altogether and I don't think it broke the game or anything.

The last approach (which was actually the original approach Fire Emblem took) is Weapon Level. Weapon Level increased like strength or speed, which is to say, randomly on level up. Unlike Weapon Rank, weapon level applies to all weapon types a character can equip, so a character with high weapon level can immediately use high level weapons in their new type. This solves the huge, gigantic, tedious problem of Weapon Rank while also letting you have a way for characters to improve their weapon selection as they get stronger. Weapon Level also lets characters be balanced around how good the weapons they can equip are. Someone with low strength, for instance, might be able to compensate if they have high weapon level and can use more powerful weapons.

***

I think Weapon Level sounds like a big improvement over Weapon Rank. That said, I had this crazy idea for a tweak to Weapon Level that might work out even better. Instead of having a stand alone stat, the "weapon level" function is instead applied to Skill (or dexterity or whatever the kids are calling it these days). So, to use a Silver Sword, you need to reach a certain skill threshold. I think this would add more importance to a fairly useless stat, and I think it also makes sense thematically.

Anyway, I'll get off my soap box. What's the best way to handle weapon ranks, in your opinion?

Also 3 Houses did something else I'm sure but I didn't play it so please explain it to me down below and compare it to these other systems.

Edited by AnonymousSpeed

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I actually enjoy a lot of things about weapon level, particularly the fact that it allows much more subtle and distinct grades of who's better at using weapons beyond a simple x2 weapon exp skill. But the main issue I have is that the games that have it generally don't have too many rewards for the units with really high scores in these areas. It tends to max out well before capping, with the exception of the Again staff in FE3, the only item in either of the weapon level games, I think, that requires max weapon level.

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Uh, Hi. As your local bad DM who doesn't post on the roleplaying forum, I have some tabletop game ideas for weapons in the future of FE, since in essence, FE is a tabletop game with complex mechanics. And no table. (I'm sure it's been done before, but I'm working on making FE an easily accesible tabletop game with actual tables!)

  1.  WEAPON PROFICIENCY/PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT!: Let's just say that every unit has a base weapon level. (Bows, in this case.) Mr. Lv. 15 archer on your team has a base bow rank of "C."  Since the enemy has tons of pegasus knights with high avoid, Mr. Archer gets a lot of work in during the next chapter and his bow rank goes up to "B" and then later, "A" all within the same chapter. Mr. Archer has now promoted and has access to swords as well! (He's mr. Ranger now, I guess.) He now has a base sword rank of "C." The following chapter has tons of high defense axe-wielding knights with 1-2 range, so Mr. Ranger's 2 lock bows aren't very helpful anymore. As such, Mr. Ranger gets to work with his sword, bringing it up to another "A." However, he didn't use his bow at all, so his bow rank drops back to its base, "C" Simply put, logically, if you have a rank in a weapon, you're at least moderately proficient. Promotion and other factors might increase or decrease your base. (I.E a swordmaster might have a base sword rank of S or A)  If Mr. Ranger didn't use his bow again the next chapter, his bow rank could decrease BELOW base, but he can never lose bow proficiency.  This way you can use good weapons at base and your favoured weapons grow fast.
  2. POINT BUY SYSTEM: Similar to the above one,  but with a point system instead of usage system. I.E, Mr Ranger has base C in Swords and Bows and has two mastery points, which are used to increase weapon rank. Mr. Ranger has several options. He can: Increase both weapons to B rank, Increase one of the weapons to A, can keep both at C or can drop a rank for one of the weapons to gain another mastery point. This system could work well in a 3H-like environment in which units study and train to become better under the player's guidance. (Thusly, it could be practice time invested instead of mastery points, but the concept is the same.
  3. SIMPLE PROFICIENCY: Quite literally, if you have a rank in this weapon type, you can use any kind of this weapon, perhaps barring certain weapons, (Legendary weapons, etc.) 
  4. CLASS DECISION: Your class decides exactly what your ranks are, which is written in stone unless given an arms scroll or the like to increase that rank. This can be helpful for promoting less popular classes, such as the armor family, by giving them exclusively high ranks. (For example, all generals have A in axes, A in swords, S in lances. Optionally, the player can choose one to master, making that one the S ranked weapon.) This could also be helpful for debuffing classes with obvious benefits. (Wyvern knights,) and can give certain other classes big stat bonuses to offset this.
51 minutes ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

Instead of having a stand alone stat, the "weapon level" function is instead applied to Skill (or dexterity or whatever the kids are calling it these days). So, to use a Silver Sword, you need to reach a certain skill threshold. I think this would add more importance to a fairly useless stat, and I think it also makes sense thematically.

I really, really like this idea also. I haven't played 3H either, so perhaps some of this stuff has been implemented already.

Let me know what you guys think of these!

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53 minutes ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

Also 3 Houses did something else I'm sure but I didn't play it so please explain it to me down below and compare it to these other systems.

It's still Weapon Ranks, now with Armor, Riding, Flying, Gauntlets, and Authority to increase as well (Authority let you equip Battalions, Gauntlets are a new physical weapon type, Armor, Riding, and Flying only unlock related classes and some skills). Except now every week characters via school lessons you can plan individually gain WEXP without fighting. Hosting Seminars and doing something called Faculty Training let you shower additional WEXP on the characters of your choosing.

Weapon Ranks are very important in 3H b/c:

  • Weapon Ranks are what alongside level and seals unlocks new classes. Each class give increased battle WEXP gain to certain Ranks when a character is in it.
  • New spells, and most Combat Arts and some Abilities are locked behind Weapon Ranks too.
  • Anyone can train in anything regardless of class, although everyone has their preferences and dislikes.
  • Anyone use any physical weapon type in any class, except no magic or mounted classes can use Gauntlets, and magic can only be used by magic classes.
  • All magic classes can use Black/Dark/Reason (offense) and Faith/White (healing and support) from the very start, even if most classes favor one magic type over the other.

 

Although I haven't played it yet, Berwick Saga seems to have merged the Skill stat with Weapon Level and Weapon Rank. Accuracy and some proc skill activation rates are tied to the Weapon Skill stat.

  • Separate Weapon Skill stats exist for each type of weapon and Shield a unit can use, and has a % growth random chance of gaining a point on leveling up.
  • But Weapon Skill is not left growth purely to RNG growth by allowing frequent weapon use to increase Weapon Skill too.

The issue with this game appears to be that as Weapon Skills are low when the game begins, accuracy is unusually shoddy on both sides of the battlefield. Although the revised usual round of combat rules means super high accuracy all the time would be too good for the player, because it'd mean enemies could never counterattack on the player phase.

 

Weapon Level is okay. The problem is for most units it's a worthless growth stat b/c in the games that have it, few units ever have issues reaching the low bars set for using the best weapons. But, the bars I think almost had to be set low b/c RNG could largely lock you out of the best stuff. Weapon Rank isn't

Fixed Weapon Rank aka FE4 you could consider on paper a balancer. But the execution served more to hurt the poor than balance the rich, it checked Nanna and Ethlyn vs. Edain b/c no Physic or Fortify for the former, but Dew was stuck with C Swords until his most troublesome promotion, Alec could never use a Silver, nor Arthur or Tine Tornado barring Lewyn as their dad.

Fixed Caps Weapon Rank as seen in FE10 and 14 ended up being mostly a flavor move and insignificant. SS and S/A Rank weapons aren't very valuable for most of either game. Boohoo Marcia can't use Vague Katti, or Kinshi Knight Reina Waterwheel, it ain't gonna make a real difference.

Universal Caps Weapon Rank works can work well enough. But, it requires, like everything, good execution. Units need join with appropriate and balanced Weapon Ranks. WEXP gain must be neither FEs 7 & 8 fast nor 5 & 6 glacial. Promotions must offer usable new Weapon Ranks from the start, but not too good like FE11/12 (but easy cost-free Reclassing is to blame just as much here), yet not as pitiful as Awakening and "non-late recruit child" Fates.

No system of limiting weapon accessibility as in Gaiden/SoV is difficult to imagine elsewhere. Valentia is unique in everyone except Hero and Priestesses/Princess being mono-weapon type classes. The scarcity of weapons, almost an entirely fixed and small supply of specific weapons exists in SoV, means you can't give everyone a Brave Sword or Rhomphaia here, even if everyone could use one from the get go. Not to say I dislike this. And in Weapon Level games and some with Ranks, weapon usability is already mostly a nonissue, so why must they exist? -So one could argue.

 

I'd be fine with fine with Weapon Level or the usual in Weapon Ranks again. The 3H system is unique, but I wouldn't want it every game, it's centralizing to an extent, and FE games should be free to try other things if they want to.

Edited by Interdimensional Observer

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11 minutes ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

SS and S/A Rank weapons aren't very valuable for most of either game. Boohoo Marcia can't use Vague Katti, or Kinshi Knight Reina Waterwheel, it ain't gonna make a real difference.

This is inherent to the system in general, due to the fact that A) Making non A/S/SS weapons suck, well, Sucks. B) Making A/S/SS weapons really good breaks the game. (Cough Cough 22 Atk Siegmund in Sacred stones Cough Cough.) My ideas to make them better is to give them superior abilities. (Not stats, per se.) Ragnell is really good for both the Mt and the amazing 1-2 range. Giving weapons that expands horisons for characters. (Increasing movement by two, unit can fly over gaps and stuff,  targets lower of foe's def or res, increases hit/avo of allies within two spaces by 10, decreases hit/avo by ten of enemies within two spaces, heals adjacent allies 15 hp each turn, Etc.) Of course, most of those features I listed are fairly gamebreaking.  Still, I think having skill affects from weapons would be good. 

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Weapon level is just meh imo. It does make some sense that someone would know how to use a sword if they've used an axe, but this idea really breaks in modern FE. Reclassing is a feature I hope never goes away for any mainline entries, since it introduces a great tactical element. However if we add in the weapon level mechanic, it's just kinda nonsense. Ah yes, I, a mage who has only practiced magic in the 27 years of my existence and hasn't even touched a bow until today, can now wield the legendary Parthia without effort. FE may bend the rules of reality a little bit, but that's just a tad immersion breaking. That and like, there isn't really a substantial benefit with weapon level. It feels like a dump stat more than anything else, at least in the games it was implemented in. If brought back, there'd need to be some heavy tweaking in order for it to work.

Weapon rank has a sensible impact in the games it's in. This is mainly due to the weapon triangle, since past FE10 the higher your weapon rank is, the more the weapon triangle gets factored in. I just don't see how you'd be able to do that with weapon level without breaking the concept of the weapon triangle. To be fair, Three Houses did ditch the weapon triangle, so that might be the direction IS is heading, but if it's not, then I still don't see weapon levels making it.

Gaiden only works because it's Gaiden. Thrust it into a modern FE design and it won't work. It works in Echoes because Echoes is just Gaiden. 

The static weapon levels in FE4 are just, blah. There's no fun, no feeling of growth there. Nothing happens for 20 levels, and at that arbitrary point they might gain some useful weapon ranks, or might not. Master Knight's absurdity is just an example of that, and it goes along with the nonsense I mentioned before. Ah yes, I Lachesis, a healer who has only touched a blade on occasion but no other weapons can now crush everyone to smithereens with every weapon type in the game, including stuff I didn't even know existed. If refined, it could potentially work, but I would hope that it never returns.

Really, weapon rank is just the best one to go with. Even without the weapon triangle, 3H shows that having it can create interesting tactical situations. I was watching a 3H speedrun a few days ago, and one of the key factors is getting weapon rank high enough to use warp. This is something that the runner could plan for, and plan around. Now imagine that same situation, but it's weapon level. Now that runner has to rig a ton of levels in order to succeed. Yeah, not really that fun.

The potential that weapon rank has is just greater than weapon level. In theory, sure, weapon level is nicer than weapon rank, but in practice? Weapon level either becomes a worthless stat that no one needs to care about, or a vital element that completely screwed a character. Weapon rank is much easier to control, since hey, I can control which weapon I attack with. You complain about how new promotion weapons are worse than the ones you've been using, which to me is just like "well, duh". Why wouldn't they be? It just makes logical sense, and it introduces a different tactical prospect. It's another factorance into either reclassing choice, or how early you promote. Sure, you could get some more levels, but staff utility now would be nice, and you could start getting the rank up. Weapon level would just be "man, there is no benefit to promoting early, guess I'll wait". 

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Hm, I'd say, what if there was a combination of both systems?

Use weapons levels... but individual for each wield-able weapon type. However, they'd have a single growth check. So an increase will apply to all ranks. Weapon types gained on promotion begin at a set base number, not the level the unit would have at promotion. This means on average weapon types gained on promotion will remain several levels behind the main weapon type... but then, that's the idea of it being a secondary weapon type the unit didn't pick up until recently.

Might not be much desirable... but I personally think it could be neat if such a thing was used at least once.

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I think weapon rank is the best because there is no RNG. I think it can be balanced better than it has in the past including what rank you start with on promotion. Start with like C not E. It makes sense as well the more I use a bow the better I get at using a bow. 

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I'm fine with weapon rank. It's a way to balance out the benefit of getting another weapon type upon promotion. Like, sure you get access to a new bunch of weapons, but you have to work for it (E-rank hell). Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it isn't. Or you can use Arms Scrolls (a limited resource) to "cheat" your way up a bit.

One change I would make is, don't make it so weapons uniformly get stronger, heavier, and less accurate as you go up in weapon rank. Higher rank should be about more options - say, put the Iron Lance at E, then the Steel and Slim Lance both at D. That way, you earn your way into a more powerful option, or a lighter option that lets you double easier.

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Weapon rank is the best system, it imposes a requirement on being able to use strong weapons that's gained consistently. If it could be improved, then it would be having the 3H talent system come back and maybe having some diminish on returns for longer chapters so you can't turtle and bumrush to higher ranks.

9 hours ago, DarthR0xas said:

Weapon level is just meh imo. It does make some sense that someone would know how to use a sword if they've used an axe, but this idea really breaks in modern FE. Reclassing is a feature I hope never goes away for any mainline entries, since it introduces a great tactical element. However if we add in the weapon level mechanic, it's just kinda nonsense. Ah yes, I, a mage who has only practiced magic in the 27 years of my existence and hasn't even touched a bow until today, can now wield the legendary Parthia without effort.

DS reclassing is like this in general, at least for promoted units, to an extent. It's certainly convenient to not start in E-rank hell but it's nonsensical for someone who's never touched a sword or bow to instantly get C-rank for switching to that class. Is why I call them EZBake Snipers.

1 hour ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

One change I would make is, don't make it so weapons uniformly get stronger, heavier, and less accurate as you go up in weapon rank. Higher rank should be about more options - say, put the Iron Lance at E, then the Steel and Slim Lance both at D. That way, you earn your way into a more powerful option, or a lighter option that lets you double easier.

Yeah that's another little thing, they need to stop overloading steel on -hit and +weight. I'll even say that silvers should have more hit than irons.

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12 hours ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

In the GBA games and just about every release since, this has been Weapon Rank. But is that the best system, though?

I would argue that Weapon Rank is actually one of the worst systems that Fire Emblem has employed to restrict weapon usage. Weapon ranks level up by using a weapon of the corresponding type, but this takes forever to do and it means weapons gained on promotion tend to be pretty useless, because they start at such a low rank and it takes forever to boost that rank up. It's really tedious and restricts you to what you've already done the most of, which is really lame.

I disagree - gaining weapon ranks was rarely an issue. Binding Blade and Thracia were about the only games in which it was an issue. As a result, I think it was better than the other two. On the other hand, fixed weapon ranks is one of the many, many facets of Genealogy's atrocious balance and why it's essentially "The Rich Get Richer: The Game". 

Edited by Shadow Mir

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