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Jotari

Why does Fire Emblem hate lance infantry?

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So you know it's a thing. Everyone knows it's a thing. Lance infantry in Fire Emblem are exceedingly rare. Well, let me amend that, playable lance infantry are rare. Practically every game has generic lance infantry enemies known as soldiers, but only three games in the series, Path of Radiance, Radiant Dawn and Fates, give a promotion line to lance infantry. Three Houses has a lord that is lance infantry, and Gaiden/Shadows of Valentia and Sacred Stones have units that promote out of lance infantry and...that's it. That's it for one of the three most basic weapons and the most basic movement type in the series. Units don't even promote into lance infantry classes like Hero, with the exception of Fates and the Great Lord exclusive in Awakening.

So...why? Why is Fire Emblem like this? If you talk about infantry for the majority of human history, you're talking about a bunch of dudes holding pole arms. So it's not like lance infantry are particularly rare in realistic combat. And the series seems to realize that by making soldiers the enemy mook class...yet why is it something they so rarely give to the player compared to axes and swords. It can't be that they're just not cool, as people seem to genuinely like and want lance infantry.

The answer to this seems to be because lances are the dedicated weapon of mounted and armoured classes...which yeah, fair enough, that's true for Fire Emblem, but it feels like we see a hell of a lot more sword and even axe versions of those armoured and mounted classes than we do lance infantry.

And this is something that goes back to even the early days of Fire Emblem. In the very first game there are no named lance infantry. Then, after it we got Gaiden where they existed, only they promoted into Generals. Okay, that kind of makes sense, but they didn't continue the trend. They just vanished from the series until Ameila and Ephraim and then Tellius. Is it just because they forgot to make any playable characters soldiers in Shadow Dragon and then it kind of stuck after Gaiden put it in a weird limbo of promoting into a tier 1 class? That's my best guess. Do you have idea why this very basic class combination is so rare, even in promoted form?

Edited by Jotari

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There's also Donnel in Awakening who starts out as lance infantry and promotes out of it. Not that that counts for much of anything.

If I had to guess at a reason -- at least, at a reason other than "IS sometimes make weird and incomprehensible choices" -- then I'd guess that it's because in medieval Europe, polearm infantry is mostly associated with mercenaries and militia, whereas nobles are thought of as fighting either with lances from horseback, or with swords when they're on foot. (And note that I'm saying "associated with" and "thought of" here. My medieval military history isn't good enough to say whether these associations are truly accurate, but for something like Fire Emblem, accuracy is basically irrelevant. It's not meant to actually depict history.)

Regardless, we all know how much the series loves its nobility and its tropes of nobility. And most games in the series represent that player's army as being small but elite. We are outnumbered, but we are better trained. And how better to represent that than to pack the enemy lines with the most basic type of soldier, the spear infantry?

Not saying that I agree with any of this, mind you. But it's my best guess for why things are the way they are.

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53 minutes ago, Jotari said:

So you know it's a thing. Everyone knows it's a thing. Lance infantry in Fire Emblem are exceedingly rare. Well, let me amend that, playable lance infantry are rare. Practically every game has generic lance infantry enemies known as soldiers, but only three games in the series, Path of Radiance, Radiant Dawn and Fates, give a promotion line to lance infantry. Three Houses has a lord that is lance infantry, and Gaiden/Shadows of Valentia and Sacred Stones have units that promote out of lance infantry and...that's it. That's it for one of the three most basic weapons and the most basic movement type in the series. Units don't even promote into lance infantry classes like Hero, with the exception of Fates and the Great Lord exclusive in Awakening.

So...why? Why is Fire Emblem like this? If you talk about infantry for the majority of human history, you're talking about a bunch of dudes holding pole arms. So it's not like lance infantry are particularly rare in realistic combat. And the series seems to realize that by making soldiers the enemy mook class...yet why is it something they so rarely give to the player compared to axes and swords. It can't be that they're just not cool, as people seem to genuinely like and want lance infantry.

The answer to this seems to be because lances are the dedicated weapon of mounted and armoured classes...which yeah, fair enough, that's true for Fire Emblem, but it feels like we see a hell of a lot more sword and even axe versions of those armoured and mounted classes than we do lance infantry.

And this is something that goes back to even the early days of Fire Emblem. In the very first game there are no named lance infantry. Then, after it we got Gaiden where they existed, only they promoted into Generals. Okay, that kind of makes sense, but they didn't continue the trend. They just vanished from the series until Ameila and Ephraim and then Tellius. Is it just because they forgot to make any playable characters soldiers in Shadow Dragon and then it kind of stuck after Gaiden put it in a weird limbo of promoting into a tier 1 class? That's my best guess. Do you have idea why this very basic class combination is so rare, even in promoted form?

It's probably at least partly how Swords and Axes seem to generally be seen as more "cool" and probably mostly that. (Even though IRL Swords were more like sidearms than main weapons.) 

Still at least FE has Lances, they tend to get neglected in fantay settings, usually probably because you can just slap an axe model on a sword animation while Lances tend to need more unique animations. (Such as Elder Scrolls ditching Lance entirely after Morrowind.)

 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, lenticular said:

There's also Donnel in Awakening who starts out as lance infantry and promotes out of it. Not that that counts for much of anything.

If I had to guess at a reason -- at least, at a reason other than "IS sometimes make weird and incomprehensible choices" -- then I'd guess that it's because in medieval Europe, polearm infantry is mostly associated with mercenaries and militia, whereas nobles are thought of as fighting either with lances from horseback, or with swords when they're on foot. (And note that I'm saying "associated with" and "thought of" here. My medieval military history isn't good enough to say whether these associations are truly accurate, but for something like Fire Emblem, accuracy is basically irrelevant. It's not meant to actually depict history.)

Regardless, we all know how much the series loves its nobility and its tropes of nobility. And most games in the series represent that player's army as being small but elite. We are outnumbered, but we are better trained. And how better to represent that than to pack the enemy lines with the most basic type of soldier, the spear infantry?

Not saying that I agree with any of this, mind you. But it's my best guess for why things are the way they are.

Well Donnel doesn't actually promote out of villager. He class changes out of it, since Villager has no promotion (and rather infuriatingly, none of his class change options use lances). Still, what I said was that there's only three games that have a natural promotion line for lance infantry. There are one off characters here and there with the likes Amelia and Dimitri that are lance infantry. These are the total number of lance infantry in the series I can think of.

*Luka (promotes to armour)

*Forsyth (promotes to armour)

*Gaiden villagers (all promote to armour after wards)

*Amelia (promotes to armour or cavalry)

*Ephraim (promotes to cavalry)

*Nephenee

*Devdan

*Arran

*Chrom (promotes to lance infantry but specializes in swords)

*Lucina (promotes to lance infantry but specializes in swords)

*Donnel (can't reach 20/20 without reclassing into a non lance class)

*Shiro

*Oboro

*Some fates capturable bosses and promotion options for people like Azama

*Dimitri

So about a baker's dozen lance infantry in the series in total discounting capturable bosses/Gaiden villagers and of them only six (Nephenee, Devdan, Arran, Shiro, Oboro and Dimitri) I'd class as pure lance infantry. For all the others they either promote out of it or don't even focus on lances primarily. 13-15 sounds like a decent amount, but that's an average of one per game in the series (and this even includes spin offs as TMS and Warriors don't give any original lance infantry, though Sharena in Heroes is). Now when you compare that to the number of sword infantry in the series, even if you ignore protagonists entirely the number is dwarfing the lance infantry.

Edited by Jotari

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I think for Three Houses the game designers thought simply making the unmount functionality would be exactly the same as having unmounted lance users. And honestly, since mounted lance fighters do gain a stat boost while unmounted, I think they almost have a point. Though since nobody seems to think a few points of stats is better than a few movement more, I guess unmounted lance units became irrelevant.

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The reason why is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that the lance infantry hate is a thing, and it needs to stop.

 

And no, I wasn't happy when Echoes turned my badass soldier into an armor knight either.

Edited by Fabulously Olivier

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3 minutes ago, Fabulously Olivier said:

The reason why is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that the lance infantry hate is a thing, and it needs to stop.

I do believe the fact that 3H gives unmounted lancers a stat boost means they wanted unmounted lance units to be a thing though. But I do hope it showed them this is not the way.

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15 minutes ago, whase said:

I think for Three Houses the game designers thought simply making the unmount functionality would be exactly the same as having unmounted lance users. And honestly, since mounted lance fighters do gain a stat boost while unmounted, I think they almost have a point. Though since nobody seems to think a few points of stats is better than a few movement more, I guess unmounted lance units became irrelevant.

It's funny that they do the inverse in Thracia. Where mounted lance users can't even use lances unmounted! Being stuck with swords, which they don't even have a weapon rank for while mounted (and yes, they're expected to train both of them up simultaneously).

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36 minutes ago, whase said:

I think for Three Houses the game designers thought simply making the unmount functionality would be exactly the same as having unmounted lance users. And honestly, since mounted lance fighters do gain a stat boost while unmounted, I think they almost have a point. Though since nobody seems to think a few points of stats is better than a few movement more, I guess unmounted lance units became irrelevant.

If that was the intention, then it was really poorly executed. Sacrificing 2 points of movement for 2 points of speed is a poor trade, sure. But more than that, you still need to train in riding to get into cavalier/paladin in the first place. One of the big benefits that a lance infantry class could have had would have been that you wouldn't have to train riding. Which would have been great for characters with a strength in lances but a weakness in riding (eg Dedue, Seteth) but also good if you just want to hyper-specialise on lances and push for S and S+ rank, like you can do for other weapon types (with Swordmaster, Sniper, Warrior, Grappler, Bishop, and Warlock).

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1 hour ago, lenticular said:

If I had to guess at a reason -- at least, at a reason other than "IS sometimes make weird and incomprehensible choices" -- then I'd guess that it's because in medieval Europe, polearm infantry is mostly associated with mercenaries and militia, whereas nobles are thought of as fighting either with lances from horseback, or with swords when they're on foot.

Some paragraphs from a purported elderly military historian on a 4X game forum.:

Spoiler

First, they aren't medieval.
The Vulture Stele in Sumer circa 2600 BCE (firmly in the Ancient Era) shows men with long copper-pointed spears held in both hands - so, technically, Pikes, with a second man holding a man-high shield covering both him and the pikeman.

Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander's Pezhetairoi ("Foot Companions") were, of course, Pikemen, as were the main infantry forces of their Successors right down to the Roman conquest of the Middle East just before the beginning of the Principiate/Empire.

In Medieval Europe, right at the beginning of the 14th century, from 1302 to 1315 CE, you get three great PIke Victories: Courtrai, Bannockburn and Morgarten, involving Flemish militia, Scots and Swiss - all distinctly non-noble pike-armed (or half-pike in the case of the Scots, their weapons were only about 12 feet long instead of 18 to 21 feet) infantry massacring armies of knights.

The Medieval successor to the Classical swordsmen were men with Great Weapons - mostly two-handed long hafted Axes like the Saxons as early as the 10th century, but also used for the rest of the Medieval Era from Scandinavia to the continent, a much smaller percentage of two-handed or Great Swordsmen. Both were starting to get replaced by the halbard in the mid-14th century, because that weapon combined the striking power of an axe blade with a spearpoint to ward off mounted troops, all on a 6 foot shaft. This combination of blade and point on a long shaft came in dozens of variations, but had the ultimate disadvantage that it was a better offensive weapon than defensive (once you got past the pike points, the pikeman was essentially holding a long stick and the halbardiers could butcher them). When the primary purpose of pikes became to ward off cavalry while arquebusiers or musketeers shot them to pieces, the halbard, and all other two-handed edged weapons, became obsolete in a hurry. The early Spanish Tercios (1530 CE) included halbardiers among the pikemen and musketmen, but they became pure 'pike and shot' in less than 40 years.

And...

PIkemen were Spears Plus: better against cavalry, crushing in the attack - ironically, wearing less armor was an advantage for pikemen, because, as the Swiss and Alexander's Pezhetairoi did, coming at a run or fast trot the impact of a block of pikes was practically unstoppable. They were the classic example of the human application of Impact = Mass times Velocity Squared - the faster they charged, the deadlier they were.

Until the weapons technology changed.
Gunpowder firearms simply made anybody primarily armed with a hand weapon, no matter how effective, a Big Fat Target who would be shot down before he ever got close enough to use his weapon. The troops knew that, which meant that morale among pikemen was not particularly good by the end of the 17th century - at the Battle of Neerwinden a French officer noted dozens of pikes on the ground and wondered why there were no bodies of the men who had dropped them, until he realized that they had been dropped by pikemen who had managed to pick up a musket from the casualties: any pikemen knew by then that it was a musket that was the effective weapon, not your pike.
One general, in fact, summed it up neatly:

"Any man who shoots a pikeman should be adjudged a murderer, for he killed a poor defenseless fellow who could never hurt anyone with his implement".

The pike from a Knight-Killer of the 14th - 16th centuries had become an implement carried by "poor defenseless fellows' just a hundred years later . . .

And...

Weapons are not 'better' in a vacuum. The pike made a return to the battlefield because the major combat force was mounted: Knights. And there is nothing better to stop a heavily-armored charging horseman than to use his own momentum to drive a half-meter-long iron point through his chest.

Pikes disappeared in the Middle East - Mediterranean around 200 BCE because they were extremely vulnerable to flank attacks by anything, and swordsmen who got past the pike points could massacre them, as the Legions did to the Macedonian pike phalanx in the last Macedonian War. They returned in Switzerland (and other places - see below), both because they had Knights as opponents but also because the Swiss Cantons were dirt poor and couldn't afford anything more elaborate.

The 'Magic Date" for pikes is actually the very beginning of the 14th century, a good century or more before the Renaissance starts by any measure:
1302 CE: Battle of Courtrai - Flemish militia, which was pretty well-trained and equipped since they were the City Militia of the prosperous Flanders towns, used pike blocks to break the charge of French knights, hung up 500 pairs of spurs as a Victory Offering in the cathedral afterwards, from knights that no longer had any use for spurs in this life.
1314 CE: Battle of Bannockburn. English knights learned the hard way that trying to charge through a marsh to get at Scottish Schiltrons - more pike blocks - leaves you stuck in the marsh on exhausted horses when the Scots come up and slaughter you like mounted sheep.
1339 CE: Battle of Laupen. Knights found they couldn't make a dent in a Swiss pike 'Hedgehog" (Igel - a circular defensive formation) and then ran for it when the Swiss charged and smashed their infantry (militia) to bits.

Note that the Swiss Pikes were the last in a string of pike units that appeared starting in the beginning of the 14th century, but Mercenary Swiss Pikemen became the Infantry To Have for the rest of the 14th and 15th centuries, until Maximilian started forming Landsknecht pikemen mercenaries at the end of the 1400s.

Both the Swiss and the Landsknechts sometimes mixed their pikes with halbards or Great Swordsmen (2-handed extra-long swords) for extra force in the melee, but the infantry was Primarily Pikes until 1493 CE, when the Spanish began forming 'Colunelas', each about 1000 men and combining pikemen, halbardiers, swordsmen and arquebusiers - the first 'pike and shot' units. By the 1530s 3 colunelas were being combined into a Tercio of 3000 men that was about half pikemen and half arquebusiers.

That means, for about 200 years the Pike Phalanx, with or without some swordsmen and halbardiers mixed in, was the primary infantry unit, a period that was largely (1300 - 1450) in the High Middle Ages or Medieval Era, not the Renaissance. By 50 - 80 years after the traditional start of the Renaissance (1453 CE) the pikes had become the first Pike and Shot, and that formation/unit dominated European warfare for the next 170 years, until the flintlock musket made pikes redundant around 1700 CE.

And on swordsmen...

The problem with them in game is that, compared to Spearmen especially, Swordsmen were much, much more expensive to maintain. Spearmen in most cases were 'conscripts' - call up a bunch of peasants, require them to bring spears or issue them some, keep the pointy ends towards the enemy, stand close together, you're done. Swordsmen have to actually practice with their weapons - a lot - or they are pretty worthless. That means somebody has to feed and pay them so they have time to play with swords instead of earning a living, and for Ancient through Early Modern governments, that got expensive fast. Rome was the only state that managed to have a large army of Swordsmen - the Legions - and in the end, paying for 500,000 professional soldiers practically bankrupted a state of 50,000,000 people or more.

And...

As always with the Legion, you have to specify When as well as What. The Legion started out as a simple decimal Phalanx of spearmen: there's historical and literary evidence that the original 'century' was 10 ranks deep and 10 files wide with about 80 of them armed with heavy spears, and the poorest 20% of the population unarmored and throwing javelins to disrupt the enemy before the spearmen 'got stuck in' and finished them off.
The first big change in this tactical method was to arm some of the spearmen with swords. This was, apparently, in imitation of their primary enemies, the Sabines, who had found that swords were more useful in rough country where the tight formation that made the spearmen so effective could not be maintained - and central Italy has a lot of rough country! However, the Hastatii that carried the swords were in front of the Principes - the 'primary' tactical force, who were still spearmen. By the time of the Punic Wars the Legion, then, consisted of Velites - light infantry, no armor, javelins, Hastatii, heavily armored men with the Scutarii big shield and a short sword adapted from the Spanish, the Principes, now also with swords, armor and a big heavy shield, and the Triarii - the 'third rank' in the rear, the most veteran of the troops and the 'last ditch' whenever things went completely wrong. They were still armed with Spears.
The Pilum, a heavy short-ranged javelin, may have been adopted from the Sabines, or from the Celtiberian (Spanish) heavy infantry, both of whom used a similar heavy javelin that could encumber shields or penetrate link mail armor if the target had already lost his shield. There is no evidence that it was ever carried by Roman spearmen. It was always associated with swordsmen, either the Hastatii, or Principes, or the Post-Marian Reform Legion in which all the heavy (armored) infantry in the Legion carried Sword and Pilum.
Early in the Imperial 1st century CE the 'classic' Legion of professional swordsmen started adding 'lanciarii' - spearmen - back into the ranks, because they were fighting a distressingly large number of cavalry, including Sarmatian Cataphractii who were armored men on armored horses with both long swords and lances.
By the 3rd - 4th centuries CE the mobile parts of the Legions - the professionals who were the Field Army, while the bulk of the Legion were now stationary garrison troops - were still carrying a big heavy shield and a long sword, but also a long heavy spear. And they were trained to use both spear and sword as needed. These troops combined all the advantages of the spear against cavalry and the sword in rough country against infantry and they were retained by the early post-Western Roman Empire Byzantine infantry of the 6th and 7th century.

The Legion was never primarily a 'missile' force. If it had been, the Imperial Roman Imperiium would not have hired so many auxiliary archers, slingers, javelin-throwers, horse archers, etc. who comprised the majority of the auxiliary forces for most of the Imperial era.

What made the Roman use of swordsmen possible was the wealth of the Roman state, which allowed them to maintain a long term, professional army - swordsmen have to practice a lot with their weapons to become and stay proficient with them, and that means they have to have someone else working to keep them paid and fed: the Roman Empire with (lowest estimate) 50,000,000 or more people used most of the Imperial taxes to pay for an army of about 500,000 men at most: 1% of the population, and after the plagues of the 3rd - 4th centuries that may have wiped out up to a third of the population, they couldn't even afford 1% any more.

So yes, the spearman is more the common soldier than the elite, and much cheaper en masse. And for Medieval Europe, the pikeman, designed to skewer those knightly cavalry that had come to dominate warfare earlier in the High Middle Ages (~1000-1250 AD), was the remarkable spearmen of the Late Middle Ages (~1250-1500 AD). The Swiss Pikemen and German Landsknechts being the finest of the pikes.

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In addition to the above, it's because you can't really build an lot of excitement off of an unarmored pikeman without handing him an suit of heavy armor. Sure, Fate's naginatas are an entirely different type of weapon for an different type of war; but as it was, it doesn't take an lot of training (and money) to point your lances at the enemy and either from an line or an square with the rest of your battalion.

Everything else in fantasy actually required an lot of training to do so IRL, and it becomes even more complicated when you include horsemanship. Archery required someone to spend most of their life learning how to use an bow. Swords were kind of rare in larger armies, but I think that this is mainly from the possibility that they couldn't be made as fast as spears and javelins could. And I doubt if people actually used an axe as often as medieval fantasy made it out to be. Sure, there's stuff like the halbred and or an poleaxe; but that brings up back to forming an line.

Edited by Armchair General

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While I don't think this necessarily justifies the lack of lance infantry in modern fire emblem, I do think the simple reason, historically, is that Fire Emblem's classes have evolved very little beyond what was there in the first game. The only FE1 class that didn't become a mainstay is the ballistician (not counting the technicalities surrounding class names or the two armor classes where the one that looks like a promoted unit ISN'T, and in fact only wields swords). When somebody asks why aren't there lance infantry, the answer is the same as Why are there always TWO sword infantry and TWO axe infantry classes. It all comes back to FE1. Can we name a single mainstay fire emblem class that wasn't there back in 1990? Maybe some promotions, like the falcon knight being invented so that wyverns can be a pre-promoted option.

Three Houses gives us a system where the weapons you can wield are not tied to your class. This is probably the mechanical shake up that allows for lance infantry, but even so they relented when they were designing classlines. That's a little frustrating, but any infantry class from the Brigand to the Thief to the Priest can all technically pretend they're lance infantry. Any time you brought your Dimitri or Swift Strike user (Sylvain, Ferdie) down brigand to pick up Death Blow, you were playing with lance infantry while still playing the game optimally. I guess we'll see in the next fire emblem! If they have the same system of being able to use any melee weapon in any class, then there's Hope for Halberdiers.

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2 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

When somebody asks why aren't there lance infantry, the answer is the same as Why are there always TWO sword infantry and TWO axe infantry classes. It all comes back to FE1.

By "two sword infantry classes", do you mean Myrmidon and Mercenary? Because the Myrmidon didn't exist in FE1 and 3. Navarre and Radd were Mercenaries. The classes coexist as part of a singular promotion line in Gaiden. It actually wasn't until FE6 that the Myrmidon and Mercenary lines coexisted. That was a GBA-era reform.

As for Axe infantry classes, that's actually varied. Sure, FE1 just has Fighter and Pirate, but Gaiden cuts this down to 1 non-playable class (Brigand). And the GBA games had all three classes, even if playable Brigands remained elusive.

How about Hunters? Castor debuts the class in FE1, where it coexists alongside Archers. But it's absent in Gaiden, and while the class name returned for the Jugdral games, it was enemy-exclusive. In fact, of all the non-Archanea games, I can only think of Fates having more than one playable first-tier bow infantry class.

Also, Xane's Freelancer (Chameleon?) class hasn't become a mainstay, and that's a travesty.

2 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

Can we name a single mainstay fire emblem class that wasn't there back in 1990?

Sage. In FE1, all magic users promoted to Bishop. Even Gharnef was a Bishop. The class was reintroduced for the remakes, of course.

Swordmaster. Again, tying into the previous Myrmidon discussion. Ever noticed how there were no generic enemy Myrms or Swordmasters in Shadow Dragon, outside of the paralogues?

Is Troubadour a mainstay? It's in Jugdral, GBA, and Fateswakening. A little under half the series.

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2 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

While I don't think this necessarily justifies the lack of lance infantry in modern fire emblem, I do think the simple reason, historically, is that Fire Emblem's classes have evolved very little beyond what was there in the first game. The only FE1 class that didn't become a mainstay is the ballistician (not counting the technicalities surrounding class names or the two armor classes where the one that looks like a promoted unit ISN'T, and in fact only wields swords). When somebody asks why aren't there lance infantry, the answer is the same as Why are there always TWO sword infantry and TWO axe infantry classes. It all comes back to FE1. Can we name a single mainstay fire emblem class that wasn't there back in 1990? Maybe some promotions, like the falcon knight being invented so that wyverns can be a pre-promoted option.

FE4 does quite a lot too. Myrmidon/Swordmaster, Troubadour, Sage, Warrior and Dark Knight all find their roots in FE4. The only post-FE4 class that somewhat frequently appears is modern incarnation of Bow Knight, which grew out of Nomadic Trooper.

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2 hours ago, Kruggov said:

FE4 does quite a lot too. Myrmidon/Swordmaster, Troubadour, Sage, Warrior and Dark Knight all find their roots in FE4. The only post-FE4 class that somewhat frequently appears is modern incarnation of Bow Knight, which grew out of Nomadic Trooper.

Actually, the Horseman class (a mounted Bow user) existed as far back as FE1, with the "Bow Knight" name dating back to Gaiden. The only notable aspect that Nomad Trooper introduced (which has stuck around) is Sword access. I'd consider it an evolution of the same class mould that's been around since day one, in the same sense that we don't say "Tellius introduced Wyvern Lords", even though those were the first games in which they used their now-iconic Axes.

As to the original prompt... yeah, I'd be game for more playable Lance infantry. Fates introducing a version of this class model, without any visible armor, was pretty cool. It's not something I crave or need, and I'd rather not see them shoehorned into a potential remake (outside of, say, Alva and Kain getting to use Lances while dismounted). But for future titles... sure, why not?

7 hours ago, lenticular said:

If that was the intention, then it was really poorly executed. Sacrificing 2 points of movement for 2 points of speed is a poor trade, sure. But more than that, you still need to train in riding to get into cavalier/paladin in the first place. One of the big benefits that a lance infantry class could have had would have been that you wouldn't have to train riding. Which would have been great for characters with a strength in lances but a weakness in riding (eg Dedue, Seteth) but also good if you just want to hyper-specialise on lances and push for S and S+ rank, like you can do for other weapon types (with Swordmaster, Sniper, Warrior, Grappler, Bishop, and Warlock).

I wonder - would it actually be easier to certify in a hypothetical Halberdier (A Lances) than Paladin (B Lances, B Riding)? Looking at ranks, E -> C takes 300 exp, C -> C+ another 160, C+ -> B is 220, and B -> B+ is 280. So E -> B+, essentially the floor for Halberdier certification, takes 960 rank exp. Going E -> C+ in one area takes 460 rank exp, meaning E -> C+ takes 920 exp (it's possible to certify in Paladin with C+ in each Lances and Riding). For similar odds, E -> B in Lances (680) and E -> C in Riding (300) takes 980 exp total. Going C+ -> B in one area, for better odds, takes another 220 exp, for 1140 total.

Of course, if you train in both Lances and Riding, you'll get more total exp than training Lances alone. Then again, you'll probably want to train Authority either way - so, assuming either unit is always training Authority, then growing in Lances takes as long as "Lances or Riding". It's a headache to incorporate boons/banes into the math, and to try considering class boosts, statue bonuses, etc. Suffice to say, someone like Dedue almost certainly has an easier time getting to B+ Lances than "B Lances, C Riding", unless he spends time in Cavalier. And Seteth would have near-instant access to Halberdier, while Paladin takes some work. But for the likes of those strong in both Riding and Lances (i.e. Ferdinand, Sylvain, Leonie), Paladin is probably easier to reach (even if Halberdier, presumably with "Lance Crit +10", could make for a fun off-build).

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6 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

While I don't think this necessarily justifies the lack of lance infantry in modern fire emblem, I do think the simple reason, historically, is that Fire Emblem's classes have evolved very little beyond what was there in the first game. The only FE1 class that didn't become a mainstay is the ballistician (not counting the technicalities surrounding class names or the two armor classes where the one that looks like a promoted unit ISN'T, and in fact only wields swords). When somebody asks why aren't there lance infantry, the answer is the same as Why are there always TWO sword infantry and TWO axe infantry classes. It all comes back to FE1. Can we name a single mainstay fire emblem class that wasn't there back in 1990? Maybe some promotions, like the falcon knight being invented so that wyverns can be a pre-promoted option.

Three Houses gives us a system where the weapons you can wield are not tied to your class. This is probably the mechanical shake up that allows for lance infantry, but even so they relented when they were designing classlines. That's a little frustrating, but any infantry class from the Brigand to the Thief to the Priest can all technically pretend they're lance infantry. Any time you brought your Dimitri or Swift Strike user (Sylvain, Ferdie) down brigand to pick up Death Blow, you were playing with lance infantry while still playing the game optimally. I guess we'll see in the next fire emblem! If they have the same system of being able to use any melee weapon in any class, then there's Hope for Halberdiers.

That's the conclusion I came to. They just "forgot" to make a lance infantry in Shadow Dragon (as a playable soldier without a promotion wouldn't be odd in Shadow Dragon NES as half the classes just couldn't promote) and then Gaiden put it in a weird place. After that they got a sequel to Archanea where all the same classes were used and then bam, that's it locked to traidtional Fire Emblem. As I said in my "classes not made" thread, Sacred Stones was the only pre-Fates game that really tried to add new classes.

But to answer the question of what mainstay Fire Emblem classes weren't introduced in the first game, that would be Dancers. That was still introduced in Archanea though.

Ballisticians aren't the only class from the original game that were abandoned. So to were Hunters. Their promoted from as a bow cavalry so later use, but having two different infantry bow classes is only in Archanea. Also there wasn't two sword infantry in Archanea, Nabarl and Ogma had the same class, Mercenary. Gaiden introduced the name Myrmidon, but it was a promoted form of Mercenary. The first game to really have two different sword infantry classes of Mercenary and Myrmidon was actually Binding Blade. Although, prior to that there were units who definitely established the different stat lines to make way for that particular split. So yeah, toss Myrmidons on the pile of classes that are mainstays but were added after the first game.

3 hours ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

By "two sword infantry classes", do you mean Myrmidon and Mercenary? Because the Myrmidon didn't exist in FE1 and 3. Navarre and Radd were Mercenaries. The classes coexist as part of a singular promotion line in Gaiden. It actually wasn't until FE6 that the Myrmidon and Mercenary lines coexisted. That was a GBA-era reform.

As for Axe infantry classes, that's actually varied. Sure, FE1 just has Fighter and Pirate, but Gaiden cuts this down to 1 non-playable class (Brigand). And the GBA games had all three classes, even if playable Brigands remained elusive.

How about Hunters? Castor debuts the class in FE1, where it coexists alongside Archers. But it's absent in Gaiden, and while the class name returned for the Jugdral games, it was enemy-exclusive. In fact, of all the non-Archanea games, I can only think of Fates having more than one playable first-tier bow infantry class.

And I see everything I mentioned is irrelevant as Shany Pete said it all already.

Quote

Also, Xane's Freelancer (Chameleon?) class hasn't become a mainstay, and that's a travesty.

Except this, I didn't say this, but I fully agree. Bring Back Chameleons!

30 minutes ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

As to the original prompt... yeah, I'd be game for more playable Lance infantry. Fates introducing a version of this class model, without any visible armor, was pretty cool. It's not something I crave or need, and I'd rather not see them shoehorned into a potential remake (outside of, say, Alva and Kain getting to use Lances while dismounted). But for future titles... sure, why not?

What exactly would constitute them being shoe horned into a remake? Because the Soldier class already exists in literally every game. Making it playable and adding on a sentinel promotion wouldn't really be shoe horning it in my book. It could even just be there as a reclass option nobody actually uses by default, like Brigand in Awakening. Course every remake so far has added new characters to the game and I don't expect that to change, so if you're adding a character like Faye, making them a soldier is as good as any other class.

30 minutes ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

I wonder - would it actually be easier to certify in a hypothetical Halberdier (A Lances) than Paladin (B Lances, B Riding)? Looking at ranks, E -> C takes 300 exp, C -> C+ another 160, C+ -> B is 220, and B -> B+ is 280. So E -> B+, essentially the floor for Halberdier certification, takes 960 rank exp. Going E -> C+ in one area takes 460 rank exp, meaning E -> C+ takes 920 exp (it's possible to certify in Paladin with C+ in each Lances and Riding). For similar odds, E -> B in Lances (680) and E -> C in Riding (300) takes 980 exp total. Going C+ -> B in one area, for better odds, takes another 220 exp, for 1140 total.

Of course, if you train in both Lances and Riding, you'll get more total exp than training Lances alone. Then again, you'll probably want to train Authority either way - so, assuming either unit is always training Authority, then growing in Lances takes as long as "Lances or Riding". It's a headache to incorporate boons/banes into the math, and to try considering class boosts, statue bonuses, etc. Suffice to say, someone like Dedue almost certainly has an easier time getting to B+ Lances than "B Lances, C Riding", unless he spends time in Cavalier. And Seteth would have near-instant access to Halberdier, while Paladin takes some work. But for the likes of those strong in both Riding and Lances (i.e. Ferdinand, Sylvain, Leonie), Paladin is probably easier to reach (even if Halberdier, presumably with "Lance Crit +10", could make for a fun off-build).

Even if moderate lances+cavalry is easier to get to than pure lances, pure lances would still have its niche as being the best class option to go for Lancefaire. Getting to S+ ranks in Three Houses is just not viable if you're going for multiple ranks, outside New Game+, of course.

Edited by Jotari

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Because lance infantry are not actually interesting. They are the most balanced weapon type on the most basic movement type. The only reason the fandom thinks they're interesting is because of rarity.

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I'd say it comes down to the way FE typically identifies them, as lances. Generally, lances are the bigger weightier counterpart to spears, slower to wield but still usable with one arm and packing a stronger punch. This makes them better suited to mounted fighters in single combat, who have the steed to build momentum and carry them out post-strike. Otherwise, you'd best be packing armor to cover you in the wind-up and/or ending lag. And I do mean single combat, because that's what Fire Emblem typically deals in. Dual system and battalions exist but they really just create the illusion of formation fights while augmenting the one-on-ones.

Granted Fire Emblem doesn't exactly take the nature of lances seriously nowadays, the last serious attempt was FE4. But the connotation's stuck and it's made them emblematic of mounted and armored classes to the point where it's pretty hard to find a compelling niche for lance infantry. I think the easiest way to fit one in would be to replace axes with lances on the Hero class. Heroes are frequently portrayed with shields and a lance does better with shields than an axe, and Soldier seems like a more natural promotion companion to Mercenary than Fighter. You'd be giving up the sword/axe infantry combo though.

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1 hour ago, X-Naut said:

I'd say it comes down to the way FE typically identifies them, as lances. Generally, lances are the bigger weightier counterpart to spears, slower to wield but still usable with one arm and packing a stronger punch. This makes them better suited to mounted fighters in single combat, who have the steed to build momentum and carry them out post-strike. Otherwise, you'd best be packing armor to cover you in the wind-up and/or ending lag. And I do mean single combat, because that's what Fire Emblem typically deals in. Dual system and battalions exist but they really just create the illusion of formation fights while augmenting the one-on-ones.

That doesn't massively follow though as Fire Emblem doesn't actually ignore lance infantry. Lance infantry are everywhere, just not in the hands of the player. Any combat or style argument just  falls flat because they are a visible and existent part of the world. It's just that for some reason a dude holding a spear working for the good guys just doesn't gel. Maybe that's even the reason. That the image of the armoured helmeted soldier unit is a short hand for Fire Emblem they want to maintain (I wonder if the Gatekeeper might silently change that, as his popularity as a helmeted mook might mean they're more willing to present such a visual design in the hands of the player in later games).

1 hour ago, X-Naut said:

Granted Fire Emblem doesn't exactly take the nature of lances seriously nowadays, the last serious attempt was FE4. But the connotation's stuck and it's made them emblematic of mounted and armored classes to the point where it's pretty hard to find a compelling niche for lance infantry. I think the easiest way to fit one in would be to replace axes with lances on the Hero class. Heroes are frequently portrayed with shields and a lance does better with shields than an axe, and Soldier seems like a more natural promotion companion to Mercenary than Fighter. You'd be giving up the sword/axe infantry combo though.

The most obvious gameplay niche to me would be to eliminate Mercenaries as heavy sword users and replace them with soldiers. Leaving Myrmidons as the fast sword users, fighters as the heavy axe users and soldiers as the in between. That's really what Tellius did when it comes down to it, but I don't think that really stuck as people like Mercenaries and it's a nice thing to have around for easy character creation (think the likes of Dieck).

But since Fire Emblem is so heavily into skills these days, Soldiers could carve out a niche for themselves using skills. In particular the Bond skills seem like they'd be useful on soldiers. I think Bond skills have only been in Heroes, but I'm talking about the skills that boost your units stats if they're adjacent to another ally. This could convey the idea of forming a spear wall, and it would also be fun to have on enemies as if the game throws five soldiers at you standing in a line, you can consciously weaken them by taking out the middle enemies first.

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At risk of going off-topic...  in response to @Interdimensional Observer's quoted post from an alleged "elderly military historian", I am not an elderly military historian myself, but there's some crazy claims in there on things that are not particularly controversial, so I wonder if either the poster was also senile or if they're just a history buff trying to gain some cred.  In particular, the claims on Greek-era use of pikes are absolutely buck-wild wrong and that's a topic I've actually read some on recently.  Alexander did have nobles / friends commanding his infantry, sure, and he had some personal infantry, yes, but he made his reputation by personally leading Companion Cavalry charges where his infantry often wasn't able to immediately follow with various "hero" types in his cavalry whose names we still know.  This was so significant that for hundreds of years, Greek generals would stick themselves on a horse in the right side of their formation, mimicking Alexander, and generally be cavalry types.  So this is perfectly consistent with "important people = horse = FE PCs, everyone else = spears = FE mooks".  The claim that "Pikes disappeared in the Middle East - Mediterranean around 200 BCE because they were extremely vulnerable to flank attacks by anything" is absolutely buck-wild wrong - we have many many records of the Hellenistic states using the sarissa, the Macedonian Pike, well past 200 BCE (the last Hellenistic state falls in ~30-25 BCE or so).  And yes, if flanked, pikemen are vulnerable, but this is true of any formation with any weapon - when Roman legions lose, it's often because they're flanked, too.  Pikes were less prominent in the Roman theory of warfare than the Greek one, which is what I think the writer was alluding to, but A) the Romans absolutely used spears too - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasta_(spear) and the like - and B ) The fact that Rome "won" doesn't mean that it was because all of their tactics were proven 100% right.  Also, the writer tries to draw some "swordsman = expensive, spearman = cheap" comparison, and what he really means is "elite soldier = expensive, conscript = cheap."  Macedonian spearmen were absolutely not random peasant levies, especially in the post-Alexander Greek states outside of Greece - you don't train the people you conquered in your secret sauce unless you want to let them get unconquered!  No, they were trained from childhood in separate Greek military settlements where Greek sons were all expected to serve in the military some.  And it does seem like they were better (of course, because the writers of the time are crazy racist by modern standards, they'd say it was because of Greek honor and blood vs. decadent Asiatics or some such dosh, but no, it was from elite lifelong soldiers who trained together to all be Level 20/10 promoted vs. random rebels who were only recently peasants).  Trained (Macedonian hoplites with spears /  Roman legionnaires with both swords & spears) beat untrained (guys with spears / guys with swords) either way.  Hey, Fire Emblem was right about something, the weapon triangle won't save you if you're 10 levels down on your opponent.

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4 hours ago, SnowFire said:

At risk of going off-topic...  in response to @Interdimensional Observer's quoted post from an alleged "elderly military historian", I am not an elderly military historian myself, but there's some crazy claims in there on things that are not particularly controversial, so I wonder if either the poster was also senile or if they're just a history buff trying to gain some cred.  In particular, the claims on Greek-era use of pikes are absolutely buck-wild wrong and that's a topic I've actually read some on recently.  Alexander did have nobles / friends commanding his infantry, sure, and he had some personal infantry, yes, but he made his reputation by personally leading Companion Cavalry charges where his infantry often wasn't able to immediately follow with various "hero" types in his cavalry whose names we still know.  This was so significant that for hundreds of years, Greek generals would stick themselves on a horse in the right side of their formation, mimicking Alexander, and generally be cavalry types.  So this is perfectly consistent with "important people = horse = FE PCs, everyone else = spears = FE mooks".  The claim that "Pikes disappeared in the Middle East - Mediterranean around 200 BCE because they were extremely vulnerable to flank attacks by anything" is absolutely buck-wild wrong - we have many many records of the Hellenistic states using the sarissa, the Macedonian Pike, well past 200 BCE (the last Hellenistic state falls in ~30-25 BCE or so).  And yes, if flanked, pikemen are vulnerable, but this is true of any formation with any weapon - when Roman legions lose, it's often because they're flanked, too.  Pikes were less prominent in the Roman theory of warfare than the Greek one, which is what I think the writer was alluding to, but A) the Romans absolutely used spears too - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasta_(spear) and the like - and B ) The fact that Rome "won" doesn't mean that it was because all of their tactics were proven 100% right.  Also, the writer tries to draw some "swordsman = expensive, spearman = cheap" comparison, and what he really means is "elite soldier = expensive, conscript = cheap."  Macedonian spearmen were absolutely not random peasant levies, especially in the post-Alexander Greek states outside of Greece - you don't train the people you conquered in your secret sauce unless you want to let them get unconquered!  No, they were trained from childhood in separate Greek military settlements where Greek sons were all expected to serve in the military some.  And it does seem like they were better (of course, because the writers of the time are crazy racist by modern standards, they'd say it was because of Greek honor and blood vs. decadent Asiatics or some such dosh, but no, it was from elite lifelong soldiers who trained together to all be Level 20/10 promoted vs. random rebels who were only recently peasants).  Trained (Macedonian hoplites with spears /  Roman legionnaires with both swords & spears) beat untrained (guys with spears / guys with swords) either way.  Hey, Fire Emblem was right about something, the weapon triangle won't save you if you're 10 levels down on your opponent.

Sorry! It sounded authoritative, but obviously that isn't enough, especially on the Internet.😅

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Perhaps IS sees it as an imbalance. Generally, the dedicated sword classes are mercenary and myrmidon, the dedicated axe classes are fighter and brigand, and the dedicated lance classes are knight and cavalier (and that's not including flying units; remember that wyvern riders being axe wielders isn't that old). If you had cavalier, knight and halberdier, that's three dedicated lance classes.

One reason to think this is the case is if you consider the games that have a dedicated infantry lance unit:

In Path of Radiance, the weapon of each cavalry unit varied from unit to unit, soo cavalry was no longer a dedicated lance unit. Of course, in Path of Radiance, there was only one dedicated sword class, and both flying classes were lance wielders pre-promotion, but perhaps they saw the change in cavalry as reason enough to make lance infantry playable. Radiant Dawn had a modified version of the same idea with cavalry in the form of gold and silver knights.

In Fates, well, the Hoshidan and Nohrian classes were designed to balance each other: if Hoshido gets an axe class, so does Nohr, etc., with Nohr usually getting the cavalry classes for further differentiation. Nohr got cavalier and knight, so it made sense to give Hoshido lance infantry.

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22 hours ago, X-Naut said:

I'd say it comes down to the way FE typically identifies them, as lances. Generally, lances are the bigger weightier counterpart to spears, slower to wield but still usable with one arm and packing a stronger punch. This makes them better suited to mounted fighters in single combat, who have the steed to build momentum and carry them out post-strike. Otherwise, you'd best be packing armor to cover you in the wind-up and/or ending lag. And I do mean single combat, because that's what Fire Emblem typically deals in. Dual system and battalions exist but they really just create the illusion of formation fights while augmenting the one-on-ones.

Isn't that only in the translation, though? I don't speak Japanese myself, but my understanding is that the Japanese word that's used is closer in meaning to just "spear". Are any of our Japanese speakers able to confirm or deny?

34 minutes ago, vanguard333 said:

Perhaps IS sees it as an imbalance. Generally, the dedicated sword classes are mercenary and myrmidon, the dedicated axe classes are fighter and brigand, and the dedicated lance classes are knight and cavalier (and that's not including flying units; remember that wyvern riders being axe wielders isn't that old). If you had cavalier, knight and halberdier, that's three dedicated lance classes.

I like this theory, but I don't think it holds up. Cavaliers typically aren't a dedicated lance class. They're normally hybrid sword and lance wielders, so there's really only knight as the dedicated lance class, in most cases. And swords normally also have thieves that use them, and often lords as well.

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6 hours ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

Sorry! It sounded authoritative, but obviously that isn't enough, especially on the Internet.😅

No problem!  And to be clear, some of that post was fine, and some was outside my area of expertise but sounded fine.  So who knows.

Incidentally, the flanking concern probably makes a lot more sense for Fire Emblem-size engagements.  If you were trying to do realistic squad engagements, one guy with a spear is not great, and you probably want a sword instead.  Spear fighting definitely works better in a large group, but FE also has an aspect that abstracts things out and likes to pretend there are more troops out there (whether as battalions in 3H, or just vaguely in the background like Ephraim not literally conquering a castle as part of an army of 4 people, 1 of whom has suspect loyalty), so sure hand-wave it.  (In the same way that a single person carrying around 5 daggers might be reasonable, but carrying around 5 spears is not really reasonable.)

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1 hour ago, lenticular said:

I like this theory, but I don't think it holds up. Cavaliers typically aren't a dedicated lance class. They're normally hybrid sword and lance wielders, so there's really only knight as the dedicated lance class, in most cases. And swords normally also have thieves that use them, and often lords as well.

Good point. Cavalry being hybrids a lot of the time is certainly good evidence against my theory. That said, in most early FE games that had flying units, flying units were dedicated lance users who only received a second weapon upon promotion. Then again, they're still lance-users in Path of Radiance, which did add playable soldiers, so it's still evidence against my theory.

As for thieves, in a lot of the early games, they had no promotion. The earliest game that gave thieves a promotion was FE4, and then Roy's game went right back to them having no promotion.

Edited by vanguard333

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