|“||You want to know something? You need to give weapons to those who can wield them. Otherwise, it's just a waste of a perfectly good weapon.||”|
— Matthew, upon receiving an Armorslayer.
The weapon level system (Japanese: 武器レベル weapon level) is a system of weapon access management.
In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, Mystery of the Emblem, and BS Fire Emblem: Archanea War Chronicles, the range of weapons a unit has is dependent on their weapon level stat; like the level system all weapons are assigned a minimum weapon level required to use them. Weapon level is increased through level-ups, and it has its own growth rate. The stat applies equally to all weapon types available to the unit's class, allowing for a unit with access to multiple types equal proficiency in all of them. It was revamped in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War and later fleshed out into its current form in Thracia 776.
The modern weapon levels exist in two forms, as a singular stat associated with almost all weapons and as a collective of stats for each individual unit; weapon levels denote a unit's proficiency in each weapon type, and the level associated with an individual weapon denotes the minimum weapon level in the matching weapon type required to use the weapon in question. Unlike the original weapon level system, a unit has a different weapon level for every weapon type to which they have access, all operating independently and thus preventing a unit from (in most cases) being equally proficient in all weapon types without extra effort.
In the original Archanea games, it is a stat which can be increased upon level up. If the unit's stat is greater than or equal to the weapon's level requirement, the unit can use that weapon, provided their class allows it. Weapon level numbers in these games were not standardized as they are today; for example, in most modern games, all silver weapons are leveled at B, but in the original Archanea games, the Silver Sword was level 9, the Silver Lance and Bow were level 7, and the Silver Axe was level 10.
Modern weapon levels exist as a progressive scale of individual levels denoted by letters, ranging from E to A (or sometimes S); in almost all games the lowest possible weapon level is E, with weapons of this level usable by any unit with access to the matching weapon type. Generally speaking, the higher a weapon's level, the more powerful it is in exchange for greater weight, worth and lower durability. This progression is usually made evident in the naming scheme of weapons; for example, most physical weapon types come in a set of basic Bronze/Iron/Steel/Silver variants, while anima magic types possess a series of increasing prefixes (e.g. Fire/Elfire/Arcfire). Typically, the game's highest level (normally A or S) is reserved for a set of powerful or holy weapons which are often central to the game's plot. Depending on the game, personal weapons are either separated from the core level system or still have a level while being locked to individual units.
In almost all uses of the system, weapon levels can be increased by gaining weapon experience (abbreviated as WEx), with the unit's level increasing by one after their weapon experience reaches a certain threshold. In this system, all weapons have an associated WEx value (hidden from the player's view), and when a unit uses that weapon they gain the weapon's amount of WEx every time they successfully use the weapon to strike an enemy or, in the case of most staves, to heal an ally. The exception to this system is Genealogy of the Holy War, where weapon levels are almost entirely static and are dictated primarily by a unit's class, only ever increasing when the unit undergoes a class change; units who possess Holy Blood have their weapon levels altered depending on what kind of blood they possess.
Weapon levels by game
While for the most part the set of levels is static across all games, each features its own variation on available levels, with some treating A as the highest while others add the higher S or SS levels.
|Weapon levels by game|
|Game||Level (Lowest → Highest)||Notes|
|Genealogy of the Holy War||Units who possess major Holy Blood have the respective weapon type marked with a ★; for more details, see here.|
|The Binding Blade||--|
|Fire Emblem||A unit may only possess a single S level at a time; once a S level is obtained, all other weapon types will stop at an A level.|
|The Sacred Stones||A unit may only possess a single S level at a time; once an S level is obtained, all other weapon types will stop at an A level.|
|Path of Radiance||A unit may only possess a single S level at a time; once an S level is obtained, all other weapon types will stop at an A level.|
|Radiant Dawn||For classes with access to multiple weapon types, typically their maximum levels are uneven with a single S or SS, while others are forced to be A or S at maximum.|
|New Mystery of the Emblem||--|
|Fates||All non-human weapon types share a weapon level (ex. A Keaton-fathered male Kana raised to a B level in dragonstones as a Nohr Prince and then reclassed into a Wolfskin will have a B level in beaststones as a Wolfskin).|
Weapon experience requirements by game
Upon gaining certain thresholds of weapon experience, a unit's weapon level in the matching weapon type will increase. While this mechanic has remained constant ever since Thracia 776, the required WEx thresholds regularly change between games.
|Weapon experience requirements for level increase by game|
|Game||Level progression (total WEx)|
|Base E||E to D||D to C||C to B||B to A||A to S||S to SS|
|The Binding Blade||1||51||101||151||201||251||--|
|The Sacred Stones||1||31||71||121||181||251||--|
|Path of Radiance||1||31||71||121||181||251||--|
|New Mystery of the Emblem||1||31||76||136||196||--||--|
Weapon level bonus
All games since Shadow Dragon have featured a weapon level bonus, which further increases the unit's strength and/or accuracy with their chosen weapon type. The weapon level bonus only takes effect when the unit's weapon level for their current weapon type is C or higher. The bonuses received vary depending on the type of weapon equipped. If the unit has a weapon triangle disadvantage, the weapon level bonus does not take effect.
|Weapon level bonuses in Shadow Dragon|
|Weapon level bonuses in New Mystery of the Emblem|
|Weapon level bonuses in Awakening|
Fire Emblem and The Sacred Stones feature a rudimentary version of the weapon level bonus, where a unit possessing an S level in the currently-equipped weapon type receives +5 to hit and critical hit rates. This bonus is the same for all weapon types, and is not nullified by a weapon triangle disadvantage.
Items and skills affecting weapon levels and WEx
|Items and skills affecting the stat|
Etymology and other languages
|Names, etymology and in other regions|
|Language||Name||Definition, etymology and notes|
|Weapon rank||Colloquially used to distinguish the modern system of Genealogy of the Holy War onward from the original system.|
- The game TearRingSaga: Yutona Heroes War Chronicles, a game directed by Shouzou Kaga, features the weapon level stat as it functioned in the early Fire Emblem series games.