A boss (Japanese: ボス boss) or commander is a type of enemy unit who functions as the leader of an enemy army. Typically, there will be one boss unit per chapter, but there can be multiple. Bosses are often minor characters in the story, but major antagonists also take roles as bosses.
Bosses tend to be more powerful than the rest of the enemy army accompanying them, and will wield superior weapons. They also situate themselves on advantageous terrain types like forts, gates and thrones, have a portrait and actual dialogue, and are distinguished by specific boss battle music. Bosses generally remain stationary, but there are some bosses that move, with one random example being Bone from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.
Defeating the boss is a common objective for chapters, and by default is also part of the rout objective. Some games - The Blazing Blade, The Sacred Stones, Path of Radiance, Radiant Dawn and Awakening will denote on the map which enemy unit is the chapter's boss, by placing an icon in the corner of their sprite; the icon's contents vary from game to game, but it is often a shield.
In Genealogy of the Holy War, the sheer scope of its chapters result in each chapter having multiple bosses, upwards of four, fought in turn as the player's army travels between castles. The majority of the chapters commonly feature multiple bosses comprised of a lead boss and a number of mini-bosses, less powerful and important bosses typically encountered at a chapter's midpoint.
In Genealogy of the Holy War, Thracia 776 and Radiant Dawn, bosses will also often have one to five authority points to aid their army. While for the most part bosses remain enemies for their entire presence in a game, there are rare examples of bosses who can be recruited by the player, like Tiki, Hannibal, Pirn and Oliver; in Trial Maps and similar modes, it is also common to allow the player to use plot-critical bosses in their army as a reward for game completion.
Across the series typically more important bosses get customized conversations with certain characters, typically the characters that have these conversations are acquainted with each other. Boss quotes can vary in length, with dialogue ranging from quick insults to lengthy conversations.
Non-personal quotes are in every game, although the NES installments reserve them for important bosses. Boss death quotes are even rarer in these games. Mystery of the Emblem standardized every boss having a battle and death quote. Personal battle quotes were introduced in Genealogy of the Holy War.
"Boss abuse" is the act of exploiting a boss for the purposes of experience gain. By taking advantage of the consistent stream of boss healing per turn from their occupied terrain, players can waste a boss's weapon until it breaks and is left helpless, then have a lower-level slowly chip away at the defenseless boss as a way to gain easy, if time-consuming, experience. Alternatively, the boss can be attacked at ranges from which it cannot counterattack, such as attacking a bow-using boss at one range.
Some games have measures to prevent this, for instance, in Awakening's Lunatic Mode, attacking a boss repeatedly in this manner produces diminishing returns of experience until it is no longer gained at all.
- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones was the first game to give all bosses an affinity, Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade and Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, the two previous games with affinities, did not give all bosses the attribute.
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem Gaiden
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem Awakening
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem Fates
- Category:Bosses in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia