About a week ago, we got a new calendar showcasing the many events that were coming down the pipeline in Fire Emblem Heroes for the first few months of the year.
By many events, I do mean many events.
Wow. Talk about a busy lineup, right?
Through the sizable web of things happening I, alongside many other fans of the Fire Emblem series, noticed something interesting. The chief antagonist of my favorite Fire Emblem game, the Sacred Stones, was coming up as a Grand Hero Battle. Then, when he cleared off, Valder would be returning.
Two Sacred Stones units in a row? Well that’s odd. Could it possibly be a coincidence given that a new summoning focus was set to begin just before they arrived?
As it turns out, it was not a coincidence. This new banner is indeed Sacred Stones-themed like everyone was hoping.
Let me tell you, I was excited about the sheer possibility of a banner from this game as soon as the calendar was hot on the presses. Every time something with Sacred Stones comes up, my heart starts firing at all cylinders.
Was my excitement met with an ample return from Intelligent Systems?
Am I ready as ever to immerse myself in the world of the Sacred Stones?
Would I be asking this many rhetorical questions if I didn’t have a subverting comment waiting in the wings?
Read on to find out.
To make a long cliffhanger short, I am indeed pretty excited about these units! Like I said already, it’s hard for me not to be excited when this game comes out of the woodwork.
However, there is one blemish on this otherwise beautiful sight that leaves me somewhat embittered about the whole thing.
But I’ll get to that. For now, let’s start examining what our new summon-able friends bring to the table.
- Myrrh – Great Dragon
- Peaking a little early here, Intelligent Systems? On top of being an obvious fan favorite character, Myrrh also has arguably the most interesting and powerful build in this new bunch. She’s a rarity, being not only our second green dragon unit in the game, but also a green dragon unit with a flying movement-type distinction. You can probably build some crazy interesting half-dragon/half-flying team combinations with her on your side. It helps that she looks as powerful as she does unique, boasting a skill to Hone other manakete units, the attack-heavy Fury and Bonfire special attack and a special breath weapon that makes her hit a weaker defensive stat against ranged units. A pretty sweet spread all-and-all.
- L’Arachel – Princess of Light
- Yet another fan favorite character who seems to be bringing her wonderful holier-than-thou divine justice, but a strange name pronunciation. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever thought to say “Lara shell,” but to be fair the game developers also had a different pronunciation for Innes so I guess that trait runs strong in Sacred Stones. L’Arachel also has a bit of a strange skill spread compared to the undoubtedly powerful Myrrh. Rather than being a staff-wielding troubadour, as most likely remember her, she’s much more akin to her valkyrie advancement in that she uses the sacred light weapon Ivaldi (now a blue tome). Though it doesn’t have great base power, she gains bonuses in attack and speed when fighting a full health unit. An interesting add-on admittedly. However, from there she carries the sub-par special attack Glowing Light and bulk-centric Renewal (which may or may not be important depending on her stat spread), as well as the brand new Resistance Tactic that grants a big boost to infantry and armored units. There’s possibly some synergy here, we’ll have to see.
- Eirika – Anamnesis Lady
- Anamnesis: Noun. The recollection or remembrance of the past. I’ll admit, this is a very clever title for Eirika given her overwhelming insistence on remembering all the good times between her, Ephraim and Lyon. If I had to guess before jumping into the story missions, this theme will play into them appearing together and I appreciate that. Unfortunately, it also brings me to remember the fact that we already got Eirika as a unit. A long, long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool when we get new versions of old units through Brave Heroes and holiday-themed events, and I’ve been an advocate for Eirika on horseback like her final form in the original game for some time… But when a second version of a unit shows up like this in a main summoning focus, it just feels like a slot was taken that could have been filled by another. Especially since her skill spread seems like the most underwhelming of the three heroes here despite her boasting five skills. Plus, what’s with her having the dark tome Gleipnir? She can never learn how to use magic in the Sacred Stones, it just seems… Nonsensical. Unless there’s a story reason that I haven’t gotten to yet, but I guess we’ll see.
I don’t really know what it is about Eirika that bugs me so much. Her appearance here is what makes me feel rather bitter about this whole banner despite the fact that it’s based on my favorite game in the series and has two wonderful units in it. Seriously, Myrrh and L’Arachel are great and I’m going to be trying to get both, but why did we get a weird reprint of Eirika now?
It really feels like it would have made more sense to release a horseback Eirika as a Brave hero down the line, for me at least.
Plus that would have saved room for someone like Neimi.
I mean seriously Intelligent Systems, how much more do I have to beg? I appreciate Myrrh and L’Arachel, and I know both Lyon and Marisa are coming soon too from other events… But I just want my favorite character in the game already.
I’ll keep voting in the new Choose Your Legends event until I get her.
If nothing else, I suppose it’s a positive that she’s not in the game because I don’t feel as bad voting for her? But not really, because I would have voted for her anyway.
I will seriously throw my Brave Lyn away in a heartbeat if we got a horseback archer Neimi at some point.
That’s about enough empty, ridiculous bitching about a gotcha game for one day, though. Thanks to the Radiant Dawn banner screwing me over and scaring me away at the same time as a Tempest Trial, I’m starting off this Sacred Stones banner with 94 orbs, so I’m feeling lucky about nabbing that Myrrh.
Wait, what was that? I wrote this whole section before the update even happened you say?
Well… You’re not wrong.
Luckily, now present day Jason can report some good news on the tail end of this somewhat negative build-up:
I GOT DAT MYRRH BABY, YEAH!!! WOO!!
Also she’s apparently sassy as FUCK here. It’s absolutely incredible, and I’m very happy and lucky considering this happened so easily.
It only took 30 orbs to nab her too! So I still have about 60 orbs – without having done all of the new missions and all – to spend either on future special banners or to come back and try my hands at L’Arachel.
It’s a bit of a tough choice since I love Sacred Stones, but also I love having special holiday variant heroes.
Just don’t read too much into that in comparison to my vague disdain toward a new version of Eirika appearing.
On that note, the question remains regarding whether or not my predictions about a reminiscent Eirika/Lyon interactions were valid, which strikes me as a perfect segue into story.
While I am a bit surprised to see two main story chapters show up in such a short period of time, I can’t say I’m opposed to it. Especially considering this chapter goes into a really deep amount of interesting character development.
The story picks up a little while after the last series of missions ends off, with our heroes having just finished fixing up the town ravaged by Surtr’s army.
Before they head off, however, we get to see a much deeper look into Alfonse’s daddy issues.
It actually gets a bit heavy, even if things aren’t very thoroughly explained in my opinion.
Alfonse talks about how his father is leading an army to protect the land of Askr, yet he doesn’t agree with Alfonse being a part of the Order of Heroes… Which for all intents and purposes is essentially an army protecting the land of Askr.
Sure, the Order led by a greedy general, and I guess they’re fairly ‘hands on’ as he says, but otherwise I don’t necessarily see the distinction off-hand.
Plus, the game leaves off other potentially relevant details, like why Alfonse seems to be ostracized but Sharena, his sister, isn’t. Maybe that’s just her hiding it away because she’s got a happy-go-lucky kind of defense mechanism, but if that’s true we don’t get too much of an indication to that effect either.
Am I thinking too much into this? Maybe. But I’ve got no qualms talking about my love of the lore in this game. Seeing character development is always great, and Alfonse gets some powerful stuff here.
Of course right after that ends they’re interrupted by Sharena bringing him colored hay he asked for… Which I didn’t exactly know was a thing?
Once you get through the first hefty story dump with a strange conclusion, the next couple of missions go relatively quietly.
Most of the summoning focus characters do get brief introductions, but that’s about all.
For some reason, Myrrh doesn’t get any sort of introduction. Why do you guys have to short my gal, Intelligent Systems? It’s not like she’s the Great Dragon of legend or anything.
Also I guess that does bring up another point I’d like to address. It feels like the Sacred Stones heroes got a bit shafted here.
In the context of the universe, the only reason game-specific heroes are still appearing is because Princess Veronica has teamed up with Surtr and is providing contracted mercenaries, essentially. From that angle, I understand why they don’t necessarily have a huge amount of time given in the main storyline compared to more independent, specifically focused Paralogues… But still.
The music playing under everything is from the Sacred Stones, but the maps aren’t. Which is unfortunate because seeing the miniature representations of original game maps is still one of my favorite things about playing Fire Emblem Heroes.
It’s a shame, though I can let it slide considering main story progression is put on the forefront here.
That progression has the Order of Heroes eventually making it to the gateway into Fjorm’s homeland, which is sealed by a massive magical MacGuffin.
Arriving at that gateway has the story kick up to 11 once again. After all, it takes time for Fjorm to open up the gate, and you know what holding a position for a long time entails:
Surtr arrives to ambush the Order, which does lead to one of my favorite aesthetic effects in the history of Fire Emblem Heroes thus far.
What a cool duality between invading and defending. I love that sort of thing, revisiting an old area with a new coat of paint. It’s just rad game design!
But you know what else is rad?
How cool of a villain Surtr is.
I won’t even qualify it that much, just look at how savage and unequivocally insane the guy is.
It’s just amazing seeing such a gruesome person in a mobile game spin-off of a somewhat kid friendly Nintendo franchise. I’ve come to really love a lot of the characters from the Fire nation, and this kind of unchecked intensity is one of the reasons why.
Though I do think it’s hilarious that you get a long, intense monologue from Surtr, only for him to send his two lackies in first and arrive after turn 3.
Especially since he’s invincible. So he’s just giving you the opportunity to end the fight before he can help.
Good guy Surtr?
Okay definitely not. But when you beat this mission, the story goes wildly off the rails once again.
After Fjorm opens the gateway to allow your heroes to escape, they have to come to terms with making the decision to run and fight another day even if that means Surtr destroys a nearby village.
Alfonse leads the charge to run away, which feels uncharacteristic after a whole mission set surrounding his citizen-first mentality.
Once they escape, however, the story cuts back to focus more on Surtr’s forces.
Then, in the surprise of the century, Xander reveals that he’s still relevant to the main plot.
Yeah, remember when Xander was important as the General of Veronica’s army? Well apparently he hasn’t disappeared.
Honestly it’s getting to a point where I wouldn’t argue with people shipping Veronica and Xander together. Clearly he’s sticking with her for the long run, after all.
Plus there are people who are into older men like that. I don’t judge.
Anyway… That aside, Veronica and Surtr start arguing over whether he should destroy the town, since Veronica is keen on having them be part of the Emblian empire once Askr is destroyed.
Before they can fight, Loki stops the group by letting them know the town is empty.
Colored hay ex machina? Or nice use of chekhov’s gun? I’ll let you decide.
After Surtr metaphorically cools his jets and agrees to keep Veronica around longer, he splits his forces up, setting things in motion for the next big mission.
What a long, frankly fascinating journey just this one mission series is. The character development is interesting, the writing is clever and everything moves at a good pace.
Even if the Sacred Stones heroes feel a little left behind, I can’t argue with what we got.
Oh, and no Lyon yet in case you hadn’t noticed. I know he’s coming tomorrow, but it does seem like a waste not to have him appear with Eirika here in this set somewhere.
Especially since they alluded to it all over the place!
As I’m sure you can tell, this banner has been a bit divisive for me.
On the one hand, it’s Sacred Stones-themed, so I’m predisposed to like it. Especially since Myrrh and L’Arachel are in it. Plus, the story they have going that includes these heroes is easily the best we’ve seen out of this game yet in my opinion.
I even got Myrrh with very minimal sacrifices. That’s awesome!
But at the same time, Eirika reappearing still bugs me wildly. Especially considering they really don’t do anything with her! I’m more than willing to admit that there’s probably just some personal bias here.
I love Eirika and the fact that they included a horseback version of her, but it was so wildly disappointing seeing her taking up a slot in this summoning focus, and that just really hit me hard. I’m willing to bet it’s in part because I’ve had a rough first week of school this semester and am taking even slight blemishes in overall great developments as over-embellished issues.
That said, as much as I want to complain about it, everything outside of Eirika here really lines up perfectly and would probably be my favorite update in some time otherwise.
So I’m going to stop looking at the negatives and take everything for what it really is: Some damn well done story and gameplay.
With a little bit of luck in summoning to boot.
I guess with all that said, all I really have to add is… Here’s looking forward to Lyon being good, hopefully.
How do you feel about this new summoning focus, or the story it accompanies?
If you could have any other hero from Sacred Stones beside Eirika a second time, who would you want to see?
Let me know in the comments below, and until next time. I’m off to get some rest so I can cover an Academic Senate meeting in the morning.