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Tabletop Game / Fire Emblem Cipher

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"Tea-Sea-G? I'm not sure what that is... Anyway, it looks super cool!"

Fire Emblem 0 (Cipher), usually simply referred to as Fire Emblem Cipher in official material, is the second Collectible Card Game based on Nintendo's Fire Emblem series, which debuted on June 25, 2015 in Japan and was developed and published in-house by Intelligent Systems. A total of 22 booster sets were produced for the game, each focusing on certain entries in the series. The game pulls characters from every Fire Emblem game to date, including spin-off titles such as Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Fire Emblem Warriors, and even from other media such as Fire Emblem: Champion's Sword.

A game of Fire Emblem Cipher starts with each player picking one card from their deck to act as their "Main Character", or "Lord". They then each draw six cards, then set aside five random cards as "Orbs", which effectively act as the extra lives of their Main Character. During their turn, players can place units in their Bond Area, or deploy them on their Battlefield, which is divided between a Front Line and a Back Line; units present in the Bond area effectively serve as mana to pay the cost of deploying units.

Players may then conduct an attack by tapping an attacking unit and declaring a target unit that is in range of the former; both players then draw a card from their deck to act as a "support" unit, then add up the Attack power of the deployed unit with the Support power of the support unit to determine the outcome of the battle. Players may also choose to perform a Critical Hit or evade the incoming attack by discarding a card of the same name as the deployed unit. If the defeated unit was the player's Main Character, said unit remains on the Battlefield, but the player in question must draw from their Orbs; if they have no more orbs to draw from, they lose.

Other actions that may be performed during a player's turn involve moving units from the Front Line to the Back Line and vice versa, perform a Class Change or a Level Up by placing a more powerful version of a deployed unit on top of said unit, or activate a unit's specific Skill (potentially for a set cost) whenever its conditions are met.

Fire Emblem Cipher was only made available in Japan, but the game has been completely Fan Translated through various online resources. More detailed rules for the game along with information on all the different cards can be found here. There have also been multiple non-official programs and add-ons developed to allow virtual play of the game, which are listed here.

While Fire Emblem Cipher mainly features characters pulled from the various entries of the Fire Emblem franchise, it also introduced eight original characters: Emma, Shade, Yuzu, Randal, Alice, Valjean, Niamh, and Poe. In June 2017, Emma, Randall, Shade and Yuzu were made available in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia as part of the "Cipher Legends" DLC, marking their official debut in the mainline series.

Five years after its initial release, Cipher was confirmed to come to an end with the Series 22 booster in October 2020, with the developers stating that Fire Emblem Heroes would be the medium for fans to enjoy between mainline Fire Emblem titles.

This game provides examples of:

  • Amazon Brigade: Nothing's stopping you from making an all-female deck. In fact, if you use Man of Flower's Fragrance, Inigo, or Sunny Swordmaster, Soleil, as your Main Character, it might even be encouraged.

  • Anti-Air: Most Bow users have the skill ''Wingbane'' which grants a huge damage bonus when attacking fliers.

  • Anti-Armor: The Rapier skill deals bonus damage to Armor units.

  • Anti-Cavalry: The Rapier skill deals bonus damage to Horse units.

  • April Fools' Day: Cards featuring Emma and Shade were published for April Fools Day. They have very powerful or silly effects, but can't be played under normal circumstances, meaning that their only value is for collectors.
    • The 2016 April Fools Emma is able to completely reset the game....or would be able to if you were allowed to play more than zero copies of the card in your deck.
    • The 2017 April Fools Emma automatically comes back to the hand when defeated in battle (a reference to the Phoenix Mode of Fates), but can only be played on April 1, 2017. That day has already passed.
    • The 2017 April Fools Shade is removed from play and becomes unusable once it has been defeated (a reference to the Classic Mode of Fire Emblem games), but can only be played before the year 1995. That year has also already passed.
    • The 2018 April Fools Shade has a massive Attack value equal to 100 multiplied by the number of units in play, but can only be used if the player is at home and sleeping.
    • The 2019 April Fools Shade is even more absurdly broken than its predecessor, having infinite range and a Skill that multiplies its Attack by 10,000,000,000. However, the only person allowed to use it is the producer of Fire Emblem Cipher.

  • Ascended Meme:
    • Wrys cards are full of these. Healing Curate, Wrys is holding a Vulnerary, an item that infamously replaced him entirely in Mystery of the Emblem; in fact, he also sports a Skill named "Vulnerary" which requires destroying him to take effect. Healing Swordmaster, Wrys is a direct reference to Myrmidon Wrys, a reclassing option for Wrys in Shadow Dragon that achieved memetic status due to just how silly it is. Three of the four existing Wrys card also have quotes that directly reference his iconic "I am Wrys, a humble curate" line from Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light.
    • Bolt Axe Dragonmaster, Grommel is a purposefully underpowered card featuring the notoriously inept boss of Chapter 25 of Path of Radiance. His skills include the Bolt Axe and getting hit with boulders.

  • Awesome, but Impractical: There are various cards in the game that have devastating effects, such as Emperor of Grannvale, Arvis, who has the ability to to destroy all units on the board (save for the Main Characters), or Genesis, Limstella, who has a whopping 50 Support, but their downsides and/or cost make them hard to utilize efficiently.
    • Another example would include the various "Flip 3 Bonds, discard a card with the same name as this card" skills seen in the various "Lords" in Fire Emblem. While they give all of your units 30 Attack, a sizable boost, along with another effect, the requirements are immense, as one could instead use the Bonds to use other skills that they could have used while waiting to obtain enough Bonds to use the Flip-3 skill.

  • Boring, but Practical: Stall, or "Mage," decks. These feature a relatively low-Attack character as their Main Character, and attempt to buy time by hiding in the Back Line and using Godspeed Evasions, before promoting to a card that provides immense advantage, while whittling down their opponent's, often with the use of Manaketes or other powerful high-cost cards. Duels against these decks can often take an immense amount of time, and being unable to attack the Main Character is a hassle, in and of itself.

  • Breakout Character: Ike was already this, but his "The Nightmarish Rampaging Hero, Ike" card eventually got added into Fire Emblem Heroes as a playable alt.

  • Canon Foreigner: Eight original characters were created specifically for the game:

  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Cards are grouped by series and can be classified by a colored symbol, depending on which game(s) they are from;
    • Characters from Archanea and Valentia (Shadow Dragon and The Blade of Light, Gaiden/Echoes: Shadows of Valentia and Mystery of the Emblem): A red Falchion.
    • Characters from Jugdral (Genealogy of the Holy War and Thracia 776): A yellow battle flag, presumably derived from Genealogy's title screen.
    • Characters from Elibe (The Binding Blade and The Blazing Blade) and Magvel (The Sacred Stones): A purple sword, possibly the Durandal.
    • Characters from Tellius (Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn): A green Lehran's Medallion.
    • Characters from Awakening: A blue Mark of Naga.
    • Characters from Fates: White emblem of Hoshido and black emblem of Nohr.
    • Characters from Fódlan (Three Houses): Brown Crest of Flames.
    • Unsorted characters (typically from spin-offs) are given a colorless designation.

  • Critical Hit: During battle, the attacking player may choose to perform a Critical Hit by discarding a card with the same name as the attacking unit, which doubles the overall power of the attack.

  • Dual Wielding: While various cards depict characters doing this, Smiling Tornado, Randal, in particular can activate the Support Skills of his supporting cards twice.

  • Friendly Rivalry: Sakura's Protector, Hana, has a skill called Rivalry that raises Hana's attack by 10 when a Cost 3 ally is on the field.
    • Young Prince of Hoshido, Takumi, has a similar skilled called Competitive, though it's based on his Personal Skill in Fire Emblem Fates, and instead increases his Attack by 10 while you control a unit of Cost 3 or higher.

  • Glass Cannon: Whenever a card has a skill that allows them to gain over 100 Attack, there is going to be some kind of drawback.
    • Goddess of Death, Camilla, gains 60 Attack when Class Changed, making her Attack 120... but only during your turn. While your opponent will need to declare a Godspeed Evasion to not get damaged by her, her short range and vulnerability to Wingslayer makes it all the easier to take her down shortly after.
    • Bearer of Royal Lineage, Owain, can break 3 orbs when defeating the Main Character. In other words, he effectively damages them three times over. That's not mentioning his ability to untap himself. Of course, not being able to avoid attacks might prove troublesome...

  • Joke Character: Plenty.
    • The April Fools' Day cards have either overpowered or silly effects, but also limitations that prevent them from being played at all.
    • Bolt Axe Dragonmaster, Grommel is a severely underpowered unit, referencing his pitifully easy battle in Path of Radiance.
    • Buttressed Benefactress, Sakura, has a mediocre 30 Attack and taps herself at the start of your Deployment Phase. In other words, you get only get one weak attack with her, and after that, she just stands wherever you put her.

  • Kryptonite-Proof Suit: Princess, Minerva's "Iote's Shield" skill prevents Wingbane from activating on any Flying unit on her side of the field.

  • Mana: Units placed in the Bond Area act as such. Deploying units on the Battlefield requires tapping as many Bond units as indicated by their Deployment Cost, as well as having at least one Bond unit that matches its symbol. Performing a Class Change or a Level Up also requires tapping Bond units; in the former case, the number of Bond units required is indicated by their Class Change Cost rather than their Deployment Cost.

  • Mighty Glacier: Plenty of cards can be considered slow in Cipher, but Ike especially gets this. Some of his stronger- and slower- cards include...
    • Ike, whose SR cards from Booster Set 3 and 5, General of the Divine Blade and Radiant Hero, respectively, become more powerful the more cards he has underneath it (termed as a "stack"). Good luck lasting long enough to both get Ike's stack big enough and pulling off his skills more than once.
      • While General of the Divine Blade, Ike, has at least 4 cards underneath him, he gains 10 Attack, and always breaks two Orbs when he defeats the Main Character.
      • Meanwhile, Radiant Hero, Ike, has the Aether skill, which lets him flip 5 Bonds to gain 10 Attack and destroy two of your opponent's other units when he attacks the Main Character. Sound expensive? His other skill is Memories of War, reducing the cost of using Aether by 1 Bond flip for every card stacked underneath him.

  • Mythology Gag:

  • One-Steve Limit: The rules enforce this trope by not allowing two characters with the same name to be present on the field at the same time. Notably, this also applies to Lucina cards with the Skill "The Name of the Hero-King" which makes it so their name is treated as "Marth"; this makes it impossible to deploy any actual Marth units while Lucina is in play, even though they are two completely different characters.
    • Averted however with the male and female versions of Kris, Robin, Corrin and Byleth, which are treated as separate characters and thus can coexist in play. Also averted with the Risen, which are explicitly designed to overtake the Battlefield by voiding this very rule.

  • Prestige Class: A Class Change can be performed by placing a unit with a Class Change Cost on top of a unit with the same name, as well as paying the aforementioned Class Change Cost. Doing so also allows the player to draw a card.

  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:

  • Shout-Out: This promotional image is a Jojo reference courtesy of Sigurd (as Jotaro, but with Jonathan's hair) and Xander (as DIO).

  • Wrap It Up: By the time of Series 21 the creators must have been aware the card game would end with 22, so it's notably crammed with whatever they hadn't covered up to that point. While the Black Eagles route of Three Houses got a full half S19 to itself, Series 21 covers said game's Azure Moon, Verdant Wind and Cindered Shadows routes, along with some additional Elibe cards (including two of the cards for the 9-card Divine Weapon set, Rutger and Sue) and Heroes Book 4.

  • Zerg Rush: The Risen cards embody this, as they have a pitiful 0 Attack and 0 Support, but they also have a Cost of 0, making them cost literally nothing to play, and on top of that, don't follow the normal limit of up to 4 copies per deck, nor the limit of 1 on each side of the field. There are various ways to take advantage of their numbers.
    • Baleful Dragon, Grima, is one such way, becoming an astonishing 80 Attack while you control more units than your opponent. She even gets you more Risen to deploy while you mow down your opponent.

"Our bonds will never, ever, EVER break!"

Alternative Title(s): Fire Emblem