Fire Emblem Awakening
has always been one of the tougher SRPG's available for people and it's never been terribly forgiving. After all, you're not churning out Infantry to be thrown in front of a tank in an effort to save key units. These are actual characters who will permanently die, at least on Classic mode. Keeping units alive while the enemy almost always has superior numbers can be tough and I've done my fair share of restarts to save units. But after crossing a threshold, I've come to realize important tips that will make your career on Fire Emblem Awakening
It's dangerous to go alone!
The support system in place allows nearby units to dispense useful combat buffs when friends enter combat, so long as they're adjacent. At first, these buffs are small, like a +10 to their hit percentage. However, the deeper you forge their bonds, the better their buffs become, which will become the corner stone to your success. Soon, companions fighting together will share +15 buffs to critical chance, evasion, and even support blocks! The beginning of the game will be lenient but in time, you'll have to milk your supports for all their worth as the enemies both become stronger and more numerous.
When an entire league of generals comes bearing down on your swordsmaster and warrior pair, you'll be glad the odds of avoiding four straight attacks will be in your favor. Not to mention the additional counterattacks the both of them will be supplying.
You two are going to slay our enemies and do it as friends dammit!
Use the buddy system
The Pair Up mechanic allows one unit to join another, becoming one single unit in the process. While this is useful to keep support units together at all times, the key difference is that you sacrifice quantity for quality; in addition to support buffs, the supporting unit imparts tangible, relevant upgrades to the main unit's stats. For example, if you want to make a physical death machine, you could pair up a cavalier with a knight, combining the cavalier's high movement with the knight's defense and attack. Or if you're worried your fighter will be fighting a lot of mages, you can pair him up with your own mage to buff his resistance to mage attacks.
While you should be careful about reducing the total number of combatants as well as how much experience you'll be dividing up (the support units only receive experience if they actually participate in combat), you'll invariably end up using the Pair Up system to take on powerful enemies you wouldn't otherwise want to fight individually.
The Pair Up system also has tertiary strategies you can get out of the switch and separate commands. By switching, you swap the lead unit with the support unit along with how the buffs are handed out. That fighter/mage couple with extra resistance is now a mage/fighter pair with extra defense and skill! But that's not all! Even though the pair is technically one unit, they still retain their individual HP bars. If your lead gets in over his head and your healer is too far away, he can switch with his support unit and he can safely hide on the side while your new main unit steps out with a fresh health bar.
Remember that cavalier/knight combo I mentioned back then? What if you just need to keep them separate but need your knight to get somewhere fast? Just have the knight hop onto the cavalier, have him transport him as far as he can, then have the knight separate from the cavalier at their destination. Viola! You're knight just moved as far as a cavalier and is ready to block some choke points while the cavalier can ride the flank at once. This strategy also works without the separation. Load your lord onto a pegasus knight and switch out before attacking the enemy. You got all the movement of a pegasus, the power of a lord, with the support for both!
Read the battlefield
Hitting the X button to see the enemy's active threat range is an important tool. With this, you can stay just outside of an attack and have the fight come on your terms. Or, you can put a strong defensive forward as a vanguard with some support right behind him to draw enemies out. But when it comes to reading the battlefield, you always have to look ahead, both physically and chronologically. Make sure you're not forgetting to notice some archer that's ready to one-shot your pegasus knight. Or make sure your knight isn't in over his head facing three mercenaries and two mages in one turn. I can't tell you how many times I've restarted when I've overlooked just how many enemies swarmed over one unit and wiped him in one turn. It's good to draw out the enemy with a unit that you know will survive most but you might overlook he's within range of a few horse riders who will suddenly add one more attack you didn't take into account.
Don't be afraid to wander into your enemy's threat range. But be mindful and scope the battlefield for all threats and assess accordingly. You could move your pegasus knight ahead, who can dodge most barbarian attacks. But you can also select individual enemy units with the A button to highlight them and their own threat range. This way, you can judge whether or not you can move to a certain position based on how hot it can get. Losing a unit can be a difference as small as one skirmish, especially one you didn't see coming.
It's difficult to manuever into an advantageous position if you simply avoid the front lines and wait for the enemy to come to you. Look at what units the enemy has at the front lines and send in a strong survivor to draw them out onto your terms. If there a lot of mages for example, pegusas knights typically have a lot of resistance if they get hit at all. If there lots of myrmidons, an armored knight can easily take a few blows and draw them onto your playing field. If there are lots of barbarians, an assassin with a sword can dodge 99% of their attacks!
Don't forget about unique terrain either. Most of the time, you'll be fighting on open space. But always keep an eye out for forests outdoors, mountain sides, forts, and even pillars indoors. Those extra precious points in evasion and defense will count a lot when you think a rush of enemies are incoming.
Pictured: Villager class. Not pictured: Power absolute
How to have class
It can be tempting to use a Master Seal and promote your units straight away to their prestiged classes but doing that can waste a lot of potential with skill builds.
Take Gaius for example. He starts off as a thief, which isn't a particularly good class to be picking fights with. You could prestige him right away to make him a better fighter but wait! If you use the Second Seal instead, he can become a myrmidon who can earn a skill for an instant +10 to avoid and Vantage, a skill useful for pre-empting enemy attacks. Not only that, but you by the time you use the Second Seal to become a myrmidon, Gaius will have earned a +1 movement skill to benefit him during his time as a myrmidon. By the time he hits level 10 to prestige into an assassin, he'll have +1 movement, +10 avoid, and Vantage to go along with his new class and boosted base stats. Something much more intimidating than just an assassin who came straight off of the thief class.
You Avatar character actually has the advantage of being able to change into any other class, thereby giving you free reign to learn any number of skills to take with you into your final, endgame class. Try becoming a mercenary to learn Thriftarm, then changing back into a tactician with access to powerful spell tomes. You'll be able to use those powerful spellbooks so long, most ordinary mages would have broke through them three times over.
If you haven't figured it out, Frederick is a bit of a crutch. The reason he's so powerful is because he's already a prestiged class; a great knight with pre-leveled weapon skills. If you feed him too many kills, he simply won't earn a decent amount of XP due to being an advanced class and you'll also be denying your other units valuable XP. Learn to balance your unit leveling rather than focusing on a handful of stronger units. Even when your enemies begin to appear with intimidating level ranges, the support system in place will keep your units competitive, even if they're several levels below the average. It's all in teamwork!
These tips should be sufficient to get you through most normal situations. Keep in mind I'm playing on Normal and Classic whereas Lunatic is supposedly many times more difficult (apprarently, enemies come standard with skills that automatically halve your defenses or always hit). Still, these strategies should be miles better than just diving in using normal Advance Wars mentalities.