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Fire Emblem Cipher

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For the original TCG that ran from 2001 to 2004, see Fire Emblem Trading Card Game.

TCGCipher Logo 02.png

Fire Emblem Cipher[1] (Japanese: TCG ファイアーエムブレム 0(サイファ) TCG Fire Emblem 0 (Cipher)) is a collectible card game based on the characters and settings of the Fire Emblem series. It is the second card game based on Fire Emblem, after the original Fire Emblem Trading Card Game. Unlike its predecessor, Cipher is developed and published in-house by Intelligent Systems.[2] Cipher began publication in 2015, as part of the release of Fire Emblem Fates, and currently has nine published series of cards with at least two more upcoming.

The game currently adapts characters from ten games (counting each pair of original games and their remakes as one game each), and it has been confirmed that every game in the main series will be featured by the end of 2017.[3] The vast majority of cards depict actual characters from the games, but since the second series, Cipher has introduced six mascot characters for the card game itself - Emma, Shade, Yuzu, Randal, Alice, and Valjean - who regularly feature in both promotional material for the game and in cards of their own.

Unlike the original TCG, which relied primarily on a single artist to illustrate the majority of its cards, the cards of Cipher feature illustrations from a very wide variety of artists, many of whom have no prior attachment to Fire Emblem. Art contributions for Cipher are overseen by art director Daisuke Izuka, who also contributes some card illustrations himself.[4] Among these artists are several returning designers from earlier Fire Emblem games, including Sachiko Wada, Rika Suzuki and Senri Kita.

Rule set

For more information, see the Comprehensive Rules of FE Cipher on Serenes Forest.

Cipher is a two-player game which revolves around each player building an army to defend their designated "lord" character (which can be any card with a cost of 1) from their opponent's army. When setting up the game, each player sets aside five face-down cards to act as orbs, which act as the hit points for their lord. Every time a player's lord is defeated, the player must take one of their orbs. Once a player has taken all of their orbs, then had their lord be defeated a sixth time, the game is over and that player loses.

Players deploy cards onto the battlefield as active fighters in either the Vanguard Area (front line) or the Rearguard Area (back line), but the player must also play other cards as bonds to pay the costs for deployment, class changing, and execution of certain skills which are listed on each card. During the sequence of an attack, cards are played as supports in the Support Area, where they give a bonus to the attack power of the units involved in an attack. When a unit in the Vanguard or Rearguard (except a player's lord) is defeated, it is sent to the Retreat Area, the game's discard pile.

Cards and units

"Prince of Altea, Marth", an example of a typical Cipher card.

Unlike the previous Fire Emblem Trading Card Game, all cards in Cipher depict individual units. Each card is comprised of the following stats and elements:

  • Name: Players are only allowed to deploy one unit with a given name onto the field, and are not allowed to deploy units if their name matches the name of a unit who is already in play.
  • Title: All cards also have a title, which defines that card as a unique card compared to other cards of the same name.
  • Symbol: Almost all cards are assigned one game-of-origin continent affiliation, as marked by a symbol and color: Blade of Light (Archanea/Valentia), Holy War Flag (Jugdral), Legendary Weapons (Elibe/Magvel), Medallion (Tellius), Brand (Ylisse), Hoshido, or Nohr. Certain cards, such as those for the cast of Fire Emblem Heroes, have no symbol instead.
    The symbols of cards play a role in determining the ability of units to be deployed: at least one face-up bond with a given symbol must already be in play before a card of that symbol can be deployed as a unit. Symbols also play a role in certain skills. The symbol is marked in along the left edge of the card.
    As of Series 10, certain Fates-themed cards have two symbols, belonging to both the Hoshido and Nohr afffiliations. Deploying these cards requires that at least one face-up bond of each symbol is in play.
  • Affinities: All cards are marked with a number of affinities, which define their gender, the weapon type they use, and the type of unit they are. These play a role in the effects of many skills. Affinities are marked in along the left edge of the card, beneath the card's symbol.
  • Class: A unit's class from the original games generally influences their affinities and usable weapons in Cipher.
  • Deployment cost: The number of cards which must be played as bonds in order to deploy the unit onto your field. Found in the top-left corner of each card.
  • Class change cost: The number of cards which must be played as bonds in order to deploy this unit as a class change for an already-active unit of the same name. Class change costs are only found on cards in advanced classes, which have both a deployment cost and a class change cost; the class change cost is found in the top-left corner as well, directly below the deployment cost. The card may be played as a separate unit as well, but it costs fewer bonds to use it to change the class of a card that is already in action.
  • Attack power: The unit's basic strength when attacking or defending, before skills or support power come into play. Found in the bottom-left corner of the card.
  • Support power: When a unit is played in the Support Area, its support power value is added to the attack power of an attacking or defending unit to increase their total attack power in that attack. Starting in Series 7, some cards have a support value of "X", which means that the card's support power varies depending on a particular aspect of the current battlefield. Found in the bottom-right corner of the card.
  • Range: The range in which a unit can attack, similar to the original games. Found in the bottom-center of the card.
    • A unit with 1 range can only attack enemy units in the row directly in front of them (that is, units in their Vanguard can only attack enemy units in the enemy Vanguard, and cannot attack from the Rearguard).
    • A unit with 2 range can attack enemies situated two rows ahead of them (that is, if in their Vanguard they can attack enemy units in the enemy Rearguard, and if in their Rearguard they can only attack enemy units in the enemy's Vanguard).
    • A unit with 1-2 range can attack under both of the above conditions.
  • Skills: All units possess at least one skill which gives them a unique ability to use in gameplay. Skills tend to fall into one of six archetypes:
    • [Activate] skills can be activated at will by the player, but only during their Action Phase.
    • [Trigger] skills have effects which are automatically invoked when specific conditions defined by the card are met.
    • [Always] skills are always active in the circumstances specified by the card, as long as the unit with the skill remains in play.
    • [Bond] skills can only be used if the card is played as a bond in the Bond Area.
    • [Support] skills are a separate category, which can only be used if the card is played as a support unit in the Support Area. They are divided into two further types of skills:
      • Is TCGCipher Attack.png Attack skills automatically activate when the player makes an attack during their Action Phase.
      • Is TCGCipher Defend.png Defense skills automatically activate when defending from an opponent's attack during the opponent's Action Phase.
      • Is TCGCipher Atk-Def.png Skills marked with this hybrid attack/defense icon are always in effect if the card is played as a support, regardless of turn. They are often - though not exclusively - found on cards with a support power value of "X", with the skill determining where their support power comes from.
    • [Special] skills have effects which do not fit into the other five archetypes, often including effects which work outside how the game normally works.

Phases

A Cipher game mat with a game in progress.

In a game of Cipher, much like the main Fire Emblem games, each player takes turns to perform actions. Each player's turn is broken down into five phases:

  • In the Beginning Phase, a player makes preparations for the actions they will undertake in their turn. They draw one card from their deck and add it to their hand, they untap any cards they had tapped in their last turn to allow them to perform actions again in this turn, and they invoke any skills whose requirements involve activating them at the start of the player's turn.
  • In the Bond Phase, a player may play one card from their hand as a bond, placing it in the Bond Area. This may be skipped if a player chooses.
  • In the Deployment Phase, a player may play cards from their hand as units in the Vanguard or Rearguard, or as class changes or level-ups for units who are already in play, as long as they have enough bonds in place to fulfil the cost requirements. This may be skipped if a player chooses.
  • In the Action Phase, a player may have each of their units in play perform one of four actions: attacking, activating skills, moving from the Vanguard to the Rearguard or vice versa, or doing nothing. If a unit performs an action, the player must tap its card (rotate it 90 degrees) to mark this, preventing it from being used again in this action phase.
    • To perform an attack, the player must follow several steps:
      • 1. Tap the attacking unit and declare which enemy unit (within a compatible range) they wish to attack.
      • 2. Compatible skills belonging to both the attacking and defending unit are activated. The attacking unit's skills take priority over the defending unit's skills (e.g. in the case of trigger skills).
      • 3. Both players draw the topmost card from their deck and play it face-up as a support in the Support Area. The support power of each player's support unit is added to their active unit's attack power, and any support skills the support unit possesses are activated. Units cannot support themselves, so if the drawn support card is a unit with the same name as the player's current attacking unit (e.g. the player is attacking with Ogma and they draw another Ogma card as their support), the support fails and the drawn support card is sent to the Retreat Area.
      • 4. If either player has another card with the same name as their attacking/defending unit, they have the option of playing and discarding it to influence the outcome of the battle. If this is done for an attacking unit, they perform a critical hit which doubles their attack power (including all bonuses from supports and skills), and if this is done for a defending unit, they perform an evade which nullifies an incoming attack and automatically ends the attacking sequence with no damage.
      • 5. If an evade was not performed, the outcome of the attacking sequence is determined by comparing the attack power (including all bonuses from supports, skills, and critical hits) of the attacker and defender. If the attacking unit has a higher attack power, the defending unit is defeated and sent to the opponent's Retreat Area (unless they are the player's orb, in which case they remain in play and their player must take one orb). If the defending unit has a higher attack power, nothing happens and both units remain in play on the field.
      • 6. Any skills possessed by either unit whose requirements involve defeating a unit or being defeated activate. The attacking unit's skills take priority.
      • 7. Both players send the support card used for this attacking sequence to their Retreat Areas. The player may now move on to performing another action, or may choose to end their Action Phase.
  • In the End Phase, the player invokes any skills whose requirements involve activating them at the end of the player's turn, and terminates any skills whose requirements involve deactivating at the end of their turn. The player's turn then ends, and the other player takes their turn and goes through these five phases from the beginning.

At the beginning of the game, the player who goes first must skip the Beginning Phase and is not allowed to initiate an attack during their Action Phase.

Series

Cipher releases a new series of cards every three months, with each series typically focused on two Fire Emblem games. Like most trading card games, each series features two major releases: a starter deck which contains a pre-determined set of 50 cards which typically focus on one Fire Emblem game or faction, and booster packs which contain 10 random cards each. Booster packs can also be bought in bulk as booster boxes, which contain 16 packs each; in addition to the 160 random cards from the enclosed packs, booster boxes also contain one promotional card previewing the next series and a set of card sleeves decorated with Fire Emblem art.

In addition to the regular starter deck and booster pack cards, some cards are distributed as promotional cards which are only available with certain purchases or by attending certain events. Some promotional cards are entirely unique, while others are reprints of pre-existing cards that feature new art. Typically there are between ten and twenty promotional cards accompanying each series, two of which are always the preview cards enclosed in booster boxes.

Launch date Game(s) adapted Format(s) Total new cards
第1弾
Series 1
June 25th, 2015 Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light/Shadow Dragon
Awakening
• Starter Decks:
暗黒戦争篇覚醒篇
War of Shadows Chapter / Awakening Chapter
(¥1,300 + tax each; 50 cards each)
• Booster Pack:
英雄たちの戦刃
The Heroes' Blade of War
(¥350 + tax each; 10 cards each)
110
第2弾
Series 2
September 17th, 2015 Fates (Birthright and Conquest) • Starter Decks:
白夜篇暗夜篇
Hoshido Chapter / Nohr Chapter
(¥1,300 + tax each; 50 cards each)
• Booster Pack:
光と闇の神焔
The Divine Flame of Light and Darkness
(¥350 + tax each; 10 cards each)
110
第3弾
Series 3
December 10th, 2015 Path of Radiance
Fates (Revelation)
• Starter Deck:
蒼炎の軌跡篇
Path of Radiance Chapter
(¥1,300 + tax; 50 cards)
• Booster Pack:
希望への雙剣
The Twin Swords to Hope
(¥350 + tax each; 10 cards each)
105
第4弾
Series 4
March 17th, 2016 Mystery of the Emblem/New Mystery of the Emblem
Awakening
Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE
• Starter Deck:
幻影篇
Mirage Chapter
(¥1,300 + tax; 50 cards)
• Booster Pack:
煌めき幻奏
Shimmering Illusongs
(¥350 + tax each; 10 cards each)
105
第5弾
Series 5
June 23rd, 2016 The Binding Blade
Radiant Dawn
• Starter Deck:
封印動乱篇
Binding Disturbance Chapter
(¥1,300 + tax; 50 cards)
• Booster Pack:
相剋を越えて
Beyond the Rivalry
(¥350 + tax each; 10 cards each)
105
第6弾
Series 6
September 29th, 2016 Genealogy of the Holy War (1st generation)
Fates (Conquest and Revelation)
• Starter Deck:
聖戦の系譜篇
Genealogy of the Holy War Chapter
(¥1,300 + tax; 50 cards)
• Booster Pack:
閃駆ノ騎影
Storm of the Knights' Shadows
(¥350 + tax each; 10 cards each)
105
第7弾
Series 7
December 8th, 2016 Fire Emblem
Fates (Birthright and Revelation)
• Booster Pack:
士道を征く
Conquest of Honor
(¥350 + tax each; 10 cards each)
100
第8弾
Series 8
March 16th, 2017 Awakening
Genealogy of the Holy War (2nd generation)
• Booster Pack:
生と死-運命の先へ
Life and Death: Beyond Fate
(¥350 + tax each; 10 cards each)
100
第9弾
Series 9
June 22nd, 2017 Gaiden/Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
The Binding Blade/Hasha no Tsurugi
Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn
• Starter Deck:
神々の大地篇
Land of the Gods Chapter
(¥1,300 + tax; 50 cards)
• Booster Pack:
響地轟轟
Thunderous Earth
(¥350 + tax each; 10 cards each)
106
第10弾
Series 10
September 21st, 2017 Thracia 776
Fates (Birthright, Conquest, and Heirs of Fate)
Heroes[5]
• Booster Pack:
クロスローズ
Crossroads
(¥350 + tax each; 10 cards each)
 ??
第11弾
Series 11
TBA 2017 Gaiden/Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
The Sacred Stones
Warriors[3]
• Booster Pack:
赫赫たる双撃かくかくたるそうげき
Glorious Twinstrike[6]
(Price and contents TBA)
 ??
Series 12 TBA 2018 Genealogy of the Holy War
Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn
Awakening[7]
TBA  ??

Card rarities

This Roy card is an SR+ card, the highest possible rarity. It features different art and a different border from the regular SR print, and it is signed by Roy's Japanese voice actor, Jun Fukuyama. The card is printed in holographic foil, although it is not visible in this image.

Cards are grouped by rarities, which determine how likely it is to find a given card in a booster pack. Rarity is denoted in the card's number as a 1/2 letter suffix.

  • N (Normal) is the most common rarity. Normal cards typically have a deployment cost of 1 and depict units in base classes. Each series typically features 42 N cards.
  • HN (High Normal) cards are reasonably common, but not as common as N cards. HN cards are typically split between cards which depict less important/popular units in advanced classes, and additional base-class cards for more popular characters. Each series typically features 30 HN cards.
  • R (Rare) cards are, as the name suggests, rare. They generally feature mildly popular and important units in advanced classes, with better skills than HN cards. R cards are printed in holographic foil. Each series typically features 16 R cards.
  • SR (Super Rare) is the highest rarity. It is usually reserved for the most important and/or popular characters in a Fire Emblem game in advanced classes, with the highest deployment costs and the most powerful and unique skill effects. Like R cards, they are printed in holographic foil. Each series typically features 12 SR cards.

Each booster pack contains six N cards, three HN cards, and 1 card that is either an R, an SR, or one of their respective + variants.

Some R and SR cards are also given alternate, even more rare R+ and SR+ prints, which usually feature either different art or the signature of the character's Japanese voice actor or, less frequently, the card's artist. Each series features 6 SR+ cards and 8 R+ cards, and like the regular R and SR cards, they are also printed in holographic foil. On average, there is only one card of any + rarity in each booster box.

Starting from Series 5, each series also contains one card of +X rarity (usually R+X, although Series 9 had a N+X card instead), which are usually special preview prints of cards due for release six months/two series later, usually from the one of the same symbol affiliations as is featured in the current set; for example, the first R+X card, Eliwood, was released in Series 5 (a set that prominently featured Elibe) before its regular R counterpart was released in Series 7. +X cards are treated as a secret by Intelligent Systems, in that they are never revealed before the series is released, and they are not even added to the card list on the official website until several weeks after the series' release.

In addition to these rarities, all cards contained in starter decks are designated as ST rarity, since every card in a starter deck is predetermined. Almost all promotional cards are designated PR (certain reprints of earlier promotional cards are designated PRr instead).

Promotion

Live streams promoting Cipher are periodically held every one or two months on the Japanese video site Niconico, previewing cards and artwork for upcoming Cipher sets as well as both announcing new events and covering the outcomes of recent ones. The live streams are hosted by Ryota Kawade, the producer of Cipher, and by Young, another Intelligent Systems employee. They are accompanied by guest artists and voice actors; frequently recurring guests include Eri Suzuki, Emma's voice actress; Michihiko Hagi, Ike's voice actor; Kenichi Hatori, a prop maker; and Yusuke Kozaki. Occasionally the live streams are also used to announce upcoming products and features for other Fire Emblem products, such as Fire Emblem Heroes and Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.

The Cipher Frontier! is a roughly-monthly news column on the official website, hosted by the mascot characters Emma, Shade, Yuzu, Randal, Alice, and Valjean. The columns provide similar news to the live streams, even summarizing their news in issues released after a live stream has aired, and frequently include the first looks at the packages for upcoming card series and for pieces of artwork from them.

On every weekday, the Cipher Twitter account showcases one or two cards, including introducing new cards for upcoming series in the month before it is released. Once a set is released, it continues to showcase cards from that set until it moves onto the next upcoming series. The Twitter account also announces upcoming events, live streams, and The Cipher Frontier! columns.

For the purposes of promoting Cipher, Intelligent Systems has commissioned prop-maker Kenichi Hatori to produce replicas of prominent Fire Emblem weapons, which are frequently seen at events and on the live streams. The weapons he has produced replicas of include the Mystery and Awakening versions of Falchion and the Fire Emblem, the Binding Blade, Durandal, Armads, Tyrfing, Ragnell, and Yato.

Emma, Shade, Yuzu, and Randal star in a crossover with Echoes: Shadows of Valentia in the "Cipher Companions" downloadable content pack, which adds them to the game as playable units; Alice and Valjean are not featured, as they were introduced after the release of this DLC. Despite the card game remaining exclusive to Japan, this DLC was released in all regions.[1]

Trivia

Gallery

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Expand your adventure with new downloadable content for Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia from 19th May, Nintendo UK, Published: 2017-05-03, Retrieved: 2017-05-05
  2. Sato, Fire Emblem Also Gets A New Card Game And Manga In Japan, Siliconera, Published: 2015-01-15, Retrieved: 2015-04-05
  3. 3.0 3.1 Kirie, Cipher Winter Livestream: S8 Cards, New Artwork, & Upcoming Series News!, Serenes Forest, Published: 2017-02-12, Retrieved: 2017-03-21
  4. pasu, [English Translation] Emma and Shade from the frontlines of Cipher!, Serenes Forest Forums, Published: 2015-08-10, Retrieved: 2015-08-10
  5. Kirie, Cipher Series 8 Pre-Release Livestream!, Serenes Forest, Published: 2017-03-13, Retrieved: 2017-03-21
  6. Fire Emblem Cipher; trans. bookofholsety, The Cipher Frontier! Issue 31: "I am Alice! And I, Val. Debut of the New Members!", Tumblr, Published: 2017-08-25, Retrieved: 2017-08-26
  7. Kirie, Cipher Summer Livestream 2017: New S10 Cards, The Sacred Stones Artwork, & S12 Announcement!, Serenes Forest, Published: 2017-08-20, Retrieved: 2017-08-26

External links

Fire Emblem Cipher
Original characters AliceEmmaRandalShadeValjeanYuzu
Booster series 1: The Heroes' Blade of War • 2: The Divine Flame of Light and Darkness • 3: The Twin Swords to Hope • 4: Shining Illusong • 5: Beyond the Rivalry • 6: Storm of the Knights' Shadows • 7: ? • 8: ?
Starter decks War of Shadows ChapterAwakening ChapterHoshido ChapterNohr ChapterPath of Radiance ChapterIllusory ChapterBinding Disturbance ChapterGenealogy of the Holy War Chapter
Related topics Fire Emblem Trading Card Game
Merchandise
Figurines and statuettes Genealogy of the Holy War Exceed SigurdEldiganLewynFerrySylviaTailtiuAyra
amiibo MarthIkeRobinLucinaRoyAlmCelicaCorrinChromTiki
Figma LucinaCorrin (Female)
Nendoroid MarthCaedaEliseCorrin (Female)Sakura
Chara-forme Chrom
Statuettes TharjaCordeliaCamilla
Card games Fire Emblem Trading Card GameFire Emblem CipherFire Emblem: One Hundred Songs of Heroes
Art books Fire Emblem: The CompleteFire Emblem: TreasureFire Emblem: Thracia 776 Illustrated WorksFire Emblem 20th Anniversary EncyclopediaFire Emblem Memorial Book Archanea ChronicleThe Art of Fire Emblem AwakeningFire Emblem 25th Anniversary Staff BookThe Making of Fire Emblem – 25th Anniversary Development Secrets, Awakening and FatesTellius Recollection (Volume 1Volume 2)
Anime and comic adaptations Fire Emblem (Sano and Watanabe manga)Fire Emblem Gaiden (manga)Fire Emblem (Shimada manga)Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (Hakoda manga)Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (manga)Fire Emblem: Hikari o TsugumonoFire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (anime)Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (Fujimori manga)Fire Emblem: Kaze no MadōshiFire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (Ōsawa manga)Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 (Hino manga)Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 (Takanagi manga)Fire Emblem: Hasha no TsurugiFire Emblem: The Sacred Stones Comic