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How to start strong in Fire Emblem Heroes

Build a strong foundation to destroy your enemies.

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Fire Emblem Heroes is the latest game in the Fire Emblem series -- and the first for iOS and Android phones. As a summoner, you must rally heroes to fight beside you to save your people from a rival kingdom. (But what is Fire Emblem, you say? Read our awesome FAQ.)

As in most games, how you start can determine how well the rest of the game goes for you. I mean, who hasn't restarted a game multiple times just so you could start off on the right foot? Here are some tips for getting your game on point the first time.

I tried each of these tips and now I'm blasting through level after level. It's almost too easy. Almost.

Your first orbs and how to spend them

Orbs are everything in this game. They're used to heal your heroes on the battlefield, replenish your stamina bar and summon new heroes. Using your orbs wisely from the get-go can help you build a really good foundation.

The game starts you off with 15 orbs. Plus, you get two for logging in, and three more from beating the Prologue missions (which are super easy) before the main story. That makes 20.

What's the best thing you can do with 20 orbs? Spend them all summoning a whole bunch of new heroes for your army! Tap the Summon option at the bottom of the screen and then the Summon button to get started.

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You save orbs if you choose from the same selection of stones.

Alina Bradford/CNET


Buying in bulk reduces the per-character cost. If you bought them separately, five heroes would cost 25 orbs, so 20 orbs is a bit of a discount. Plus, the more heroes you purchase at once, the more likely you'll get one that's a more powerful version of itself (say, a 5-star Roy instead of a 4-star one).

Log in with your Nintendo account (or re-roll)

Are you happy with your new heroes? If so, it's time to get even more free orbs by linking a Nintendo account.

WARNING: If you link your Nintendo Account, you won't be able to re-roll and try for better heroes. It feels a bit like cheating, but you can delete the app, download it again and repeat the tutorial and prologue for another chance at getting some great heroes out of the gate. It's known as "re-rolling."

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Location of the bird fountain icon

Alina Bradford/CNET

To link your account, tap on the bird fountain icon on the Home screen.

Then tap on the shield icon in the upper right corner of the Quests & Missions screen and follow the onscreen directions.

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Tap on that shield thingy.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Now just click on the shield icon again and redeem your points for orbs!

At this point you'll have 10 orbs again! (Cha-ching!) But not for long -- before you play any further, you'll want spend some of that sweet orb moola on a castle upgrade. That boosts XP earned by 20 percent, permanently, so your heroes will level up that much quicker!

Just tap on Shop, then the Upgrade Castle option to make that happen.

After you get the initial boost, you can upgrade again and get a boost of 40 percent, then again to get a 60 percent boost, and so on. I'd do two boosts if you want to get a lot of XP right out the gate.

The first upgrade cost one orb and the next costs two, so now you should have 7 left. You'll probably want to save those towards another set of heroes, or maybe to revive your characters if they die. Usually, it's cheaper to just quit out of the mission and start over. Orbs are far more valuable than the experience points your characters will forfeit when they die.

How to get even more orbs

For each Story Map you complete you get an orb and, as I mentioned, daily log-ins also get you orbs.

As in most other mobile games, you can get orbs and other items through special quests and limited events, too. To find these, go to the Home screen and click on the bird fountain icon, and lists of quests will pop up. Look for ones that'll give you orbs as rewards. The reward will show up on the right side of the quest info page.

Take advantage of the Training Tower

Mind you, newly summoned heroes aren't always powerful right away -- you'll need to train them up. Just head on over to the Training Tower in the Battle menu once you've completed Chapter 1 in the Story Maps. Just choose one with a level that's close to the level of your characters, fight and repeat. This will make your newbies strong enough to fight in story missions along with your original team.

The tower is divided into 11 sections, which are called Stratums. The higher you go in the Stratums, the harder they are. For example, the Third Stratum is harder than the First Stratum.

Battling at the Training Tower gives you experience and badges every time you play. You'll also get shards and crystals. Badges help you unlock allies, shards are used for leveling up your heroes up to level 19 and crystals are used to level up your heroes after level 20. The badges, crystals and shards come in a variety of colors. The colors must match up to the type of hero you plan on leveling or unlocking.

The types of badges, shards and crystals you get change, depending on when you play. Below, find a handy schedule that Nintendo posted in the Notification section. It'll help you keep track of what you'll get depending on the time of day and the Stratum (abbreviated Str.) you play in. This schedule may change, so keep an eye on your notifications.

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Schedule for badges, shards and crystals

Alina Bradford/CNET

Pro tip: You can drastically speed up your training by turning off animations and turning on Auto-Battle in the game.

To turn off animations, go to Miscellaneous at the bottom of the screen, tap on Settings and tap on Combat Animations until it says off.

To turn on Auto-Battle, start a battle, then go down to the paper and gear icon and tap on Auto-Battle. The game will ask you if you're sure, so tap Auto-Battle again.

Now the AI will fight for you and you can totally set your phone down after that. The only time you'll need to do anything is when one of your heroes levels up, or when the level is complete.

It typically takes under 3 minutes for Auto-Battle to complete a training level by itself -- though do note that if any of your heroes dies, you'll forfeit any experience or levels that hero earned during that particular battle.

Fight to greatness in the Arena

In Arena duels, you fight against other players around the world -- or rather, their characters. (It doesn't happen in real time.) When you win you'll get items that will increase your heroes' abilities. Win seven times in a row to get bonuses. You'll want to head to the Arena every single day to maximize your rewards.

To fight in the arena, you'll need a Dueling Sword, and the game gives you three of them each day at 1 a.m. your local time. After that, you'll need to restore your Dueling Swords with an orb or a special item, or just wait till the next morning.

There are three difficulty levels in the arena: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. If you are just sailing through the beginner battles, don't jump to the advanced level because you think you're a badass. Trust me, I know. Multiple CNETers went on a long streak, then took a chance and lost it all.

When you join a fight, there'll be a list of characters that are that week's Bonus Heroes. When you're picking your four allies to go into the arena, be sure to choose one of these heroes for your team to get a higher score. Using one on your team doubles the amount of points you score. New heroes appear in the list each week.

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The list of bonus heroes is small and you pretty much have to guess who is who.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Join Hero Battles

Hero battles, which you'll find in the Battle menu under Special Maps, will let you get new heroes to make your army strong. For each map cleared, you get the featured hero. This seems to be the only way to get new heroes without spending orbs.

Unlike in any other area of the game, all four of the characters on your team must survive to win a battle. So keep that in mind while you play.

Want more? Change the difficulty to a higher level and you will get another, better, hero from a map you've already played.

The featured hero changes each day, so to complete your collection, be sure to keep an eye on who the featured hero is and play every day.

Here is the rotation order:

  • Sophia
  • Virion
  • Hana
  • Subaki
  • Donnel
  • Lissa
  • Gunter
  • Cecilia
  • Felicia
  • Wrys
  • Olivia
  • Stahl

Once the rotation gets to Stahl, it starts all over again. So, if you missed out on a hero, you should get another chance.

Learn new skills

After a character has about 40 Skill Points ( SP), the character can probably learn a new skill giving the power to do new and awesome things. To check out your heroes' SP, tap on Allies at the bottom of the screen and tap on Learn Skills. Tap on the hero of your choice, and its SP will show up near the top of the screen. Then tap Next, choose the skill and confirm. Lastly, hit Equip so your hero can use the new skill.

Make sure you spend your skill points wisely, though. You may want to save them for a stronger weapon or a special move, instead of a quick buff or a completely passive skill.

Things you need to do every day to be great

To sum up, every day you need to:

  • Check your notifications to see if there are any special presents. For example, right now there is a new Grand Opening Celebration Bonus that gives you 10 free stamina potions. Also, check to see if there are any schedule changes.
  • Check the owl icon on the Home screen to collect presents from doing special events and such.
  • Tap on any heroes on the Home screen with hearts floating over their heads to collect hero feathers.
  • Go to the Arena and kick butt.
  • Complete Special Maps to get the hero of the day.
  • Train your noobs in the Training Tower.
  • Go to the bird fountain icon and check for special quests and limited events.

And be sure to check out our guide on Fire Emblem Heroes strategy!