Note from Editor: This guide is outdated and last updated in late 2017. As such, the meta has shifted since then, and information presented in this guide may be out of touch.
One of the core mechanics of FE:H is the rock-paper-scissors styled Weapon Triangle. In combat, the advantageous color receives +20% Attack, while the disadvantaged color penalizes your Attack by 20%. This 20% may seem small to some users, but it has a tremendous effect on the results of battle since this calculation applies before Defense or Resistance is applied, often turning 10 damage into 2 damage. This advantage can easily be abused to score easy kills and control the flow of battle.
The skill and set of weapons of Ruby Sword, Sapphire Lance, Emerald Axe, and Triangle Adept 3 (all referred to as "TA" from here on) provide a unique way to tip the scales in your favor. Instead of boosting your stats with Fury or Life and Death or dropping skill cooldowns with Heavy Blade, Triangle Adept/Gem Weapons multiply the effectiveness of the weapon triangle to shut-down enemy damage while boosting your own by extraordinary amounts. They turn close matchups into Rock-Paper-Scissors, shifting the emphasis from damage calculation to unit placement. Do you want a team that can enter battles and reliably exit with 90% of its health intact? Do you want a team that, when properly controlled, can easily stand toe to toe with offensive titans such as Effie and Hector while one-shotting them in return? Read on, and see how building a core of three characters that exploit the Weapon Triangle can net you easy Arena wins while losing you none of the tension of close battles.
Note: Gem Weapons and Triangle Adept do not stack onto each other. The maximum multiplier for the Weapon Triangle is 40%. Putting Triangle Adept onto a Gem Weapon does literally nothing at all.
Triangle Adept 3, Ruby Sword+, Sapphire Lance+, Emerald Axe+: Gives Atk+20% if weapon-triangle advantage, Atk-20% if disadvantage.
Units that learn Triangle Adept 3 at 4*:
Units that learn Triangle Adept 3 at 5*:
Units that learn Ruby Sword: Hinata, Palla, Stahl
Units that learn Sapphire Lance: Azura, Subaki, Sully
Units that learn Emerald Axe: Arthur, Narcian, Titania
- Incredibly strong against an OHKO/ORKO meta
- Reliable; units will not lose unless fighting at a disadvantage
- Dictates the flow of battle with good unit placement
- Decides matches quickly.
- Can fight monocolor teams very well.
- Unit placement is paramount
- "All or nothing" in fights; very difficult to fight disadvantageous matchups
- Dependent on teamwork. If a single member falls, the TA core can quickly crumble.
- Somewhat vulnerable to Cancel Affinity
A TA Core seeks to have one character for each color act as a complete counter to the color they naturally beat by equipping Triangle Adept or the appropriate Gem Weapon and win the match through superior unit placement. There are only 3 units included in this core so that the last unit can be an Arena bonus character. Although any character can run TA and beat the color they have an advantage against, some characters certainly do better than others. The characters considered "prime TA material" are ones that either:
1. Take negligible damage in advantageous matchup
2. OHKO the majority of their matchups
This allows each character to act as a perfect counter to a portion of the weapon triangle. Together, by providing perfect coverage of the weapon triangle, a TA core is immune to prominent offensive threats like Reinhardt or Nino, as they deal close to 0 damage to their counter and are easily wiped out by a counter attack. Additionally, TA cores are effectively invincible against monocolor and dual color teams since its members function as hard counters and not as soft checks. For example, a team that uses Emerald Axe Distant Counter Sheena can easily kill 4 Reinhardts without losing a single point of health. Furthermore, using TA to anchor the unit's role frees up the B slot to run Breaker skills, further enhancing control of the weapon triangle.
However, care must be taken. Unlike most teams that are flexible, a unit with TA can barely scratch its counter. A unit equipped with TA can only fight well when paired against their ideal target, and a TA unit functions with less effectiveness compared to their non-TA counter part.
Nevertheless, the effectiveness of a full TA core should never be underestimated. The opening moves of a game can immediately result in a guaranteed win, as proper use of Reposition and Dancers can guarantee elimination of enemy characters as early as Enemy Phase 1. TA cores thrive on manipulating the AI and chokepoints, baiting enemies to their deaths flawlessly. Although a TA core is far from the easiest thing to use, it will perform consistently well in Arena, usable at all Tiers of play and at all BST scores.
The simplest way to build a TA core is to simply choose one unit of each color and give each of them TA! Of course, this isn't a method that will give you consistent wins, as some units like Odin will simply not do enough damage to win you games and could get you swarmed. Some units are better than others. Let's take a look at three things to keep in mind when team-building that will greatly narrow down your choices and make your TA core much more consistent. As a rule of thumb, any unit that goes into a TA core should be able to fill one of the roles listed below. Any less than that, and there are probably better choices for a member of the TA core.
The 3 basic colors, obviously, are typically covered by their respective opposing colors (your Blue unit should be able to beat almost every Red unit). However, there is a weakpoint in the TA core that tries to counter just the three colors: colorless units. There are certain characters in the Colorless branch that boast incredible offensive prowess such as Kagero and Brave Bow archers. These units, especially when in great numbers, can shred apart a TA core that relies on color advantage and positioning to win. How would one remedy this situation? Simple: Run a Raventome user.
Rauðrraven, Blárraven, and Gronnraven (now collectively referred to as Raventome) are three tomes that grant their wielder an advantage on the weapon triangle against Colorless foes. This stacks with Triangle Adept, meaning a user of Rauðrraven will gain an 1.4x damage boost and .6x damage reduction against not only Green units, but also colorless units! This can reduce the terrifying damage of Kagero's dagger from 1.5x damage against infantry to just .9x damage. Thus, if a Triangle Team is built, it is recommended to think about running a Raventome user to fight Colorless units evenly.
However, the Raventome user must be wary of Cancel Affinity. Colorless units like Bridal Cordelia and Kagero benefit greatly from using Cancel Affinity, and they will most likely shred a TA Raventome to pieces. To get around this, there are two options:
- Have a secondary counter to Archers/Daggers, such as high defense characters or powerful units that can ORKO them
- Run Triangle Adept 1 to still gain a significant boost in many scenarios without having it backfire against you if the enemy has Cancel Affinity
One of Triangle Adept's strongest points is how it greatly mitigates incoming damage. To maximize the effect of Triangle Adept and greatly secure wins, the ideal users of TA (particularly TA Raventome) have at least moderate defenses. An excellent example of this is Sophia; although she sports a pathetic 19 speed, she has excellent bulk with 40 HP / 28 Def /29 Res. In order for a Green unit to do a single point of damage to her, they require 49 Attack. This raw bulkiness allows the TA user to easily duel two or three enemies without breaking a sweat, and the raw damage provided by TA will almost always result in 2HKO's.
A rough numerical threshold for bulkiness is 28; units with this much defense/resistance will take minimal damage from enemies. They do not have to have both defensive stats be this high, but note should be taken to have at least a second line of defense against any weak points in your TA core. For example, Camus carries an excellent 33 Defense, making him nigh invulnerable to Red Melees, but has very low Resistance. Although he can still tank Red Tomes once or twice, it could be wise to have your own Red unit run R Tomebreaker to serve as a secondary countermeasure against such units.
Triangle Adept boosts your total overall Attack. This makes units with obscenely high Attack stats very desirable because they can immediately remove opponents from the game. That's 25% less people to worry about. Units that fit this criteria are typically those who, while running Triangle Adept or a Gem Weapon, can reach 50+ Attack for magical units or are already fast melee glass cannons like Hana or Raven. Individual calculations should be run to make sure that they are able to consistently ORKO their appropriate enemies; even with TA, they typically can not take too many heavy hits and will be too dangerous to put on the front lines if they lack raw killing potential.
Eirika, Ephraim, and Delthea are the premier "buff bots" who can give a buff to every stat (aside from HP) in one turn. Since TA works around stats, these buffs are effectively multiplied and become literal game changer. If Sophia would have taken 5 damage from Hector before, she now takes only 1. These buffs can easily reduce damage taken by 50%, and increase outgoing damage by 5. Delthea can tremendously increase outgoing damage by 8, often enough to secure OHKO's on less fragile units. The importance of Speed tiers, also, cannot be understated. Both Eirika and Ephraim possess enough bulk to warrant using TA on them, as Eirika is notoriously difficult to ORKO due to her high speed and Ephraim boasts excellent physical durability. Delthea lacks physical bulk, but can easily sponge magical hits from Red units and will most likely survive non-Brave Sword Red units due to her spectacular speed. Using these units frees up the team's C slots for a variety of other C skills such as Savage Blow or Panic Ploy.
Dancers, as always, are excellent choices to place on any team due to the utility they bring. It is typically ideal to give Olivia and Azura their respective gem weapons and use the A slot to boost their middling stats. When equipped with the Ruby/Sapphire weapons, they are more than a match for their respective melee unit targets, and can eat more than a few ranged attacks if need be. Ninian struggles quite a bit more than the other two; although she does have significantly more HP and decent defenses, she lacks the ability to ORKO units like the former two and suffers from a weakness to Falchion. Thus, it is recommended to run Azura over Ninian as your Blue unit on a TA core.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but one that mentions a variety of units who clearly stand above the crowd and are worthy considerations for TA cores. An offensive list is not given due to the nature of offense being much more fickle; the number of ORKO/OHKO's your units get should be calculated and then used to figure out what other units you need to fill the gaps.
Eirika: Sporting a great 35 Speed alongside 26/28 defenses, Eirika is very bulky against Green units when given TA. Her legendary weapon turns her into one of the best buffers in the game, but she has very low attack for a legendary sword wielder, requiring 3 attacks to kill Hector even with TA.
Olivia: A dancer! Olivia has the distinction of being able to provide Dance support while simultaneously countering Green threats such as Hector and Greentomes. She likes to use a Ruby Sword, as that frees up her A slot for any stat boost or even Distant Counter to ORKO squishy Green mages. Outside of fighting Greens, however, she is frail, and must be protected.
Palla: Palla holds the distinction of being the only "good" Red flier, but her usefulness doesn't end there. she comes with Ruby Sword by default, making her a great budget choice, and sports respectable 31 Spd/28 Def/26 Res. She doesn't stand out in any particular stat, but this makes her into a reliable TA user.
Roy: He comes with both Triangle Adept and a legendary weapon that pairs perfectly with TA, giving him 31 Spd/27 Def/30 Res on the enemy phase. Although like Palla, he doesn't stand out in anything, he is reliable and counters Greens very well.
Selena: Often criticized for her low attack, Selena possesses astoundingly good defensive spread for a TA user, having very high Speed alongside solid defense and resistance. Her low attack means that she won't be winning fights quickly, but Selena is extremely resilient to any attacks from Greens. It may be worth it to tailor her build to fit the team role, however, since an Ignis activation from Hector may be very painful and she has trouble dueling opposing Reds.
Tiki (Young): Y!Tiki also possesses a balanced stat layout with 30 Spd, 32 Def, and 29 Res. However, her claim to fame is that she can inherit Lightning Breath and sport Distant Counter alongside Triangle Adept while doing magic damage. This causes her to be perhaps the best counter to Hector, and her weakness to Julia's Naga is mitigated by TA advantage (although it will still hurt). She's a fantastic counter to Green axes and the low Res metagame, but less so to Res heavy enemies (especially Julia) and also carries a weakness to the ubiquitous Falchion.
Xander: Despite possessing low resistance, Xander is consistently able to OHKO green tomes on his counter attack if he is given Triangle Adept. His spectacular defense allows him to take attacks from Axes without fear, and allows him to run a variety of B skills such as Swordbreaker, R Tomebreaker, or even Bowbreaker to support the team.
Leo: Although he appears to have an inferior statline to Sophia, Leo is a more secure colorless check than her due to his status as Cavalry. He has a low 22 Spd and 25/30 defenses, making him reasonably bulky, but he shouldn't be expected to OHKO many enemies, much less ORKO them.
Lilina/Sanaki: These two share almost identical stat lines where it matters; Lilina has slightly more HP and Defense, while Sanaki takes virtually no damage from Green tomes. However, both boast sky-high attack of 37, making OHKO's on low Res Green units with them very, very common. Due to this attack stat, it is arguably better to run Bladetomes on them to increase the frequency of these OHKO's, but they are both incredibly frail on the physical side so care should be noted.
Sophia: She possesses arguably the best stat spread for a Raventome user; with 40 HP, 28 Defense, and 29 Resistance, unbuffed enemies will have a hard time even scratching her while her 33 Atk will leave a significant dent in her targets. However, Sophia is incredibly slow and should never fight units she does not have an advantage over. A Raven TA build causes her to be a hard counter to Green/Colorless, and her B slot allows her to provide additional support to the team as needed. She may find it helpful to equip Triangle Adept 1 over TA 3, as she will be able to survive a round of combat versus Cancel Affinity B!Cordelia, but if there is another answer to Archers/Daggers on your team, she does better with TA3.
Azura: Possessing a Sapphire Lance and good offensive spread, Azura is the best offensive dancer in the game and doubles as the most consistent Blue dancer for a TA core. Her role can be altered by the choice of an A passive; Fury makes her bulkier and more reliable, while LnD provides incredible OHKO potential against Red units. However, just like her appearance, her durability is roughly equivalent to a paper towel, and she won't be tanking non-reds anytime soon.
Catria: Catria sports a great 34 Speed alongside 29/25 defenses, making her resistant to being doubled while hitting decently hard in return with 31 attack. Her great defensive spread allows her to run Lancebreaker, but Swordbreaker can be taken as she can ORKO every Red in the game including Zephiel and Ike. However, Catria cannot counter both Lances and Swords at the same time, as her unnoteworthy Attack relies on her B slot to secure kills against bulky units.
Ephraim: Like his sister, Ephraim holds a spot as one of the best buffers in the game. However, where she possesses balanced defenses, Ephraim goes all in on offense with an amazing 35 Attack, 45 HP, and 32 Defense while having a middling 25 speed and low 20 Res. This makes him less than ideal at checking Red tomes like Tharja, requiring support on that front, but will reliably murder any Red that comes within range of his spear.
Gwendolyn: Although she is not typically used to run a TA set, her great 38 Defense and perfectly adequate 28 Res make her a near perfect counter against Reds, as they will require a special to do any meaningful damage to her. Distant Counter is recommended to be run, as it will allow her to fight back against Red tomes more reliably.
Nowi: With a balanced stat layout of 45 HP, 34 Atk, 27 Spd, 30 Def, and 27 Res, Nowi with TA and Lightning Breath serves as a fantastic counter to any red unit, even Falchion wielders, when given QR. She will reliably fight back at any range and melt most units down, as her high attack deals magic damage. Falchions will still chip her down over time, though, and she is not completely immune to damage, so care should still be taken to manage her HP.
Subaki: Subaki boasts 40 HP, 35 Spd, and 35 Defense that allow him to easily solo a team of Red swords without a scratch, especially if QR is kept. However, he has rather low 22 Res that makes him susceptible to being chipped down from afar, bows will ruin his day unless Iote's shield is run, and his attack is pitifully low and almost necessitates running QR or Swordbreaker to actually secure ORKO's.
Ursula: As a mounted mage, Ursula is not vulnerable to the Poison Dagger and boasts high Res, especially compared to Robin (M). Her mobility also allows her to quickly get to where she is needed. Unfortunately, she has pitiful defense and low HP, making her a shaky counter to heavy hitting swords like Lucina or Ike.
Robin (M): The iconic Raventome user, and it's not hard to see why! He scores a spectacularly average 29 in every stat aside from 40 in HP and 22 in Resistance, making him resilient to attacks from both Red Swords and Colorless units while his speed prevents doubles from the middle speed-tier characters. However, 29 Attack is less than stellar, almost necessitating a +Atk nature, and he can be whittled away by Red Tomes.
Camilla: A unit both plagued and blessed by middle-of-the-road stats of 32 Spd/28 Def/31 Res, Camilla use her respectable bulk to great advantage if given an Emerald Axe since it frees up her A-slot for any variety of stat boosting skill like Distant Defense or Iote's Shield. She won't be pulling off anything remarkable, but does well against her foes of choice and is unhampered by terrain.
Fae: Fae possesses a fantastic HP stat and is average in everything else aside from a high 30 Res. With Lightning Breath providing innate Distant Counter, Fae proves to be the safest check to any and every blue unit and is still able to stand her ground against most green units in a pinch. However, her speed is on the low side and her physical defense is less than ideal. Melee hits from Blue units will whittle her down, and Julia is occasionally able to kill Fae in a single strike from Naga so she definitely needs a good team to protect her weaknesses.
Narcian: Narcian trades resistance for defense, compared to Camilla, and a bit of Attack for HP. He should be chosen if you are particularly concerned about Blue lances, as he provides a harder counter to them than the Nohrian princess. With Iote's shield, he can also survive shots from Archers, whereas Camilla struggles to do the same against Death Blow Archers. However, particularly hard hitting blue tomes will chip away at his health, and he lacks the raw power or speed needed to eliminate enemies swiftly.
Titania: Titania possesses one of the highest speed stats for an Axe user, making her very resistant to doubling while being able to double many threats (particularly the slower blue lances) herself. If equipped with Distant Counter, Titania can efficiently deal with Blue tomes as well, while taking effectively 0 damage from Blue Dragons like Nowi or F!Corrin. On the other hand, her attack is middling, albeit compensated for by her relatively high speed.
Boey: Boey wields an impressive 32 defense and 43 HP, making him very resilient against Blue lances. However, he has low speed and resistance alongside medium attack, making him a shaky check against Blue tomes with high enough Res like Bridal Caeda.
Cecilia: Being a mounted mage, Cecilia with a Raventome is a safe counter to Dagger units such as Kagero. She also possesses good Resistance, having greater overall bulk than Nino/Julia. This makes her the premier high Res Greentome for TA, as Gronnraven pairs well with her trait as a non-infantry unit.
Merric: Possessing a very stat spread to Robin(ne), Merric has a higher base speed and defense with lower attack. He will not OHKO many units, but can duel melee blues with much more impunity. He will not be able to serve as a hard counter to Blue tomes though, only checking them.
Robin (F): The female counterpart of M!Robin; they share identical statlines and theoretical performance. However, being a Grand Hero Battle unit, Robinne cannot have boons or banes, hurting her overall viability.