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In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and New Mystery of the Emblem, replacement units are generic units which the player gains if their army has suffered heavy casualties, in order to help them overcome this difficulty by keeping their army stocked with a decent number of units. These units have no distinct character or personalized dialogue, only have generic names, and only use the generic portrait of their current class.
At the beginning of every chapter after a certain point - Chapter 4 in Shadow Dragon, and Chapter 2 in New Mystery - if the player's current surviving army numbers less than the maximum allowed number of units who can be deployed in that upcoming chapter, a number of replacement units will be added to the player's army so that their current number of units equals the maximum deployment number again. This is always announced with a brief cutscene before battle preparations where Malledus (Shadow Dragon)/Jagen (New Mystery) tells Marth of their arrival.
As a rule, replacement units are inferior to regular playable units. Their stats and growth rates come from the generic bases of their class and have none of the personalized increases that regular units have, meaning that both their initial stats and their rates stat increase are lower than the average for regular units, and they lack support relationships. On the other hand they are technically an infinite resource, as if a replacement unit dies and the player is left below the maximum deployment threshold for the next chapter, another replacement unit will take their place and will probably have comparable stats to the lost replacement.
When generated at the start of a chapter, a replacement unit's initial stats are determined as follows:
- Class: Replacement units will appear as any class which is available in the standard reclass options. They will never appear as Falcoknights or as special classes. If a given class family's reclass capacity is currently full, then replacement units will not appear in that class until room has been made for them. In the case of classes which can belong to units of any gender, the gender chosen will be random.
- Level and promotion status: A replacement unit's level is based on the party's current average level. Base and special units contribute their current level to this average, while advanced units contribute ([current level] + 15) to the average. Once the average is 16 or higher, replacement units will start appearing in advanced classes, and their promoted level is determined as ([average level] - 15).
- Stats: A replacement unit's starting stats (HP, strength, magic, skill, speed, luck, defense, and resistance) are calculated according to this formula:
- Base units: ([Class's base stat] + [Level - 1]) x [Class's growth rate]
- Advanced units: ([Class's base stat] + [Level - 1]) x [Class's growth rate] + (14 x [Class's growth rate])
- Growth rates: Replacement units use their current class's growth rates for player units without any additions or variations.
- Inventory: When recruited, replacement units will come with one weapon for every weapon type they can use. These weapons are only ever the E-rank iron weapons, Fire, and Heal.
There are 31 possible names for replacement units, which are rotated through in this order with every new replacement unit the player encounters. If the player goes through 31 replacement units, the 32nd unit they gain will just start this order again from the first name. The names have no connection to classes, stats, or any other aspect of the replacement units.
Most languages have several themes to which many of their replacement unit names belong:
- In the Japanese version, all names are taken from German: the first twelve count to 12, the next seven are the days of the week, and the last twelve are the months of the year.
- The first twelve in the NTSC English version count to 12 with names akin to the Latin names for numbers. The next seven names in this version are corruptions of insults talking about how weak the replacement units are.
- The last twelve in the French version are corruptions of the names of the twelve signs of the western Zodiac.
- In the German version, all names are taken from Japanese: the first twelve count to 12, the next seven are the days of the week, and the last twelve are the months of the year.
- Seven names in the Spanish version go through the names of the major musical pitches, with each monosyllabic name repeated to create two-syllable names. The last twelve in the Spanish version count to 12 in Japanese.
- Every name in the Italian version derives from the names of Proto-Germanic runes.
- Some replacement unit names are (probably accidentally) shared with prior characters in the Fire Emblem series. The fifth PAL English name, "Athos", is shared with Athos from The Binding Blade and Fire Emblem, and the 28th NTSC English name, "Julius", is shared with Julius from Genealogy of the Holy War and Thracia 776. The naming scheme of the first twelve replacements in the Japanese version is also the Japanese naming scheme for the Deadlords from Genealogy and Thracia, although Sieben and Zwölf are spelled slightly differently here. The Nohrian Einherjar in Fire Emblem Fates reuse the NTSC names of the replacement units.