With hundreds of characters introduced to the series by this point, fans are sure to have varied opinions on which are the best. When it comes to which are the most important, the debate becomes more indisputable.
Marth is the leading character that started it all and has led the charge ever since. But the one that comes after Marth might be surprising to some of you. It’s none other than Roy from Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade.
Were it not for Roy (And Marth), we Western fans may not have experienced Fire Emblem at all. Or, at least, we would’ve needed to wait even longer than we did. For that reason alone, I think everyone should know who Roy is and what he can do. And what better way to pay our respects to this leading man than to dive into The Binding Blade and see what he can do?
The History of Roy
Roy is the son of Eliwood, Marquess of Pherae, and an unnamed mother (Due to Eliwood having several women he can fall in love with and marry in The Blazing Blade, the identity of Roy’s mother is never made clear).
Growing up, Roy was wet-nursed by Rebecca, a character from The Blazing Blade. He would become good friends with Rebecca’s son, Wolt, and Lilina, daughter of Ostian ruler Hector who is Eliwood’s best friend. In their youth, both received training by Cecilia, Mage General of the nation of Etruria. He is polite, honorable, and friendly, just like his father. He also has good intuition (Especially when picking up on suspicious behavior from so-called allies).
Roy is 15-years old at the start of The Binding Blade. King Zephiel of Bern declared war on all of Elibe and began by conquering the neighboring nations of Sacae and Ilia. The territories of Lycia, including Pherae, have united under the banner of the Lycian League to oppose Bern. Hector is the original leader of the Lycian League.
Over the years, Eliwood has gotten sickly and has become too ill to command Pherae’s armies. Roy returns from his overseas studies to lead in his stead. And right in the nick of time, as Pherae was in the middle of a bandit attack when he returned home. Roy and his companions successfully defeat the brigands, saving his father and a visiting Lilina. Having proven himself a capable leader, Roy takes his place at the head of Pherae’s army in the fight against Bern. And so Roy’s journey begins.
Roy soon runs into a woman named Guinevere. She’s the sister of King Zephiel and Princess of Bern. She does not support her brother’s war and seeks to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Roy agrees and decides to bring Guinevere to see Hector, the leader of the Lycian League. However, Zephiel has powerful forces on his side, including his three Wyvern Generals. Hector falls in battle, and while Roy manages to rescue him, he dies of his wounds. As a result, young Roy finds himself the commander of not just Pherae’s forces but the entire Lycian League.
He first rescues Lilina in Ostia from rebels who have sparked a civil war and wish to surrender to Bern. Ostia isn’t the only territory in Lycia that secretly support Bern. It quickly becomes apparent that Roy cannot trust everyone within the Lycian League. Following this, he requests aid from Etruria, the country of his friend and mentor Cecilia. Etruria complies, but they have their own problems that require Roy’s attention.
Roy eventually becomes the joint commander of the Lycian League and Etrurian armies and the face of the rebellion against Bern. What happens next is a long and arduous campaign that sees Roy traveling across all of Elibe. You see, Zephiel doesn’t just wish to conquer Elibe. He wants to wipe out humanity and return control of the world back over to the dragons defeated by the Eight Legendary Heroes of Elibe generations ago.
To stop Zephiel’s insane plans, Roy gathers the legendary weapons of the old Heroes, including the eponymous Binding Blade. After liberating Sacae and Ilia from Zephiel’s control, Roy must head into Bern to take on Zephiel himself and end this madness.
And to think I had it hard at 15-years old.
How Does Roy’s Story End?
The epilogues in The Binding Blade are disappointingly lazy (A trend that The Blazing Blade largely continues) and largely uninspired. Some endings are as simple as “He vanishes after the war, the end.”. Talk about unsatisfactory, am I right? Roy falls victim to this somewhat bad writing, with many in the community pointing out he’s a relatively boring character. Now granted, he’s a 15-year-old focused on a war that will determine the fate of the world. But it’s not like he’s the only protagonist in a high-stakes conflict.
Thankfully, our main protagonist Roy at least gets special treatment regarding endings and has seven possible epilogues. After the final battle of the game, Roy dedicates himself to the rebuilding of Lycia. If you have achieved A support with Larum, Sue, Sophia, Shanna, or Cecilia, he will eventually marry them and succeed his father as the Marquess of Pherae.
If you achieve A support with Lilina, you will unlock a special ending where the two wed, and Lilina unites the territories of Lycia and becomes its’ first queen.
If Roy does not have A support with any of the six above characters, he returns to Pharae, becoming its’ Marquess, but the game doesn’t disclose anything past that.
Is Roy A Good Character?
Roy has quite the gauntlet to overcome if he’s to save Elibe from Zephiel. Let’s see if he has what it takes.
Starting Class: Lord
Weapon Rank: D Rank in Swords
Starting Items: Rapier, Vulnerary
Class: Great Lord
Stat Gains On Promotion:
+3 Sword proficiency
Performance Breakdown Of Roy
Roy is your standard sword-locked Lord unit, which isn’t exactly a good thing. His Speed and Luck bases are great, but everything else is average. His HP and Luck growths are the only ones that stand out, with the others being average or below.
He starts with the Rapier as his personal weapon, and it’s three times effective against Cavaliers and Knights. While this will come in handy since many of the bosses in the early game are one of those two classes, it only has 25 uses (Unlike Eliwood’s Rapier in The Blazing Blade, which has 40). There are 2 Rapiers in the game, and it would be wise not to blow through them too quickly on enemies like Brigands. I highly recommend you take the Iron Sword Marcus starts with and give it to Roy. Only use the Rapier against enemies it is super effective against or if you have no choice.
The early middle game will have a lot of Axe-users, giving Roy an advantage, but after that, the game will start throwing a ton of Lance-users at you. Roy always does well on Luck which is crucial for evasion, and his Defense generally comes out pretty good, but you need to be careful where you place him. He’s not really a Dodge tank and can’t take many hits.
Roy’s biggest issue is his Strength. His base is bad, and his growth is shaky. Without a Wyrmslayer, his damage against Wyvern Knights will be pretty low. If you get screwed over with his Strength growth, even his Rapier damage against Cavaliers and Knights will start to fall off. Wade, Lot, or another Axe-user will be better at dealing with those enemy types (Especially with a Hammer). You may need to give him affinity support that buffs his Crit Chance and rely on a Killing Edge for most of the game. Roy cannot promote until either Chapter 21 or 21X, so he will significantly fall behind everyone in his army.
Visually speaking, I think Roy’s promotion is one of the coolest in the series. Regarding practicality, it isn’t great.
Roy does get a very nice stat boost when he promotes, but that’s pretty much it. He remains a sword-locked infantry unit with low Movement. By comparison, his father’s Great Lord promotion gives him a horse and access to Lances.
By the time Roy promotes, Rutger will likely already be an unstoppable Crit machine, and Dieck will be a Hero with access to Axes. Roy does gain the ability to use Ranged attacks with his signature Binding Blade, but it only has 20 uses. As a result, a promoted Roy really doesn’t bring much to the table. He always needs to be fielded, of course, and his ability to level up again will make his performance a lot better.
So no, Roy isn’t too good of a unit. He’s average at best and at worst mediocre depending on how much Strength he gets when he levels up.
How To Play Roy
You should treat Roy as a sword-wielding Archer. He lacks the raw power of Cavaliers and the crit chance of Myrmidons. He will need to land several hits to kill anyone at first. He will also not double anything except Soldiers and Knights for a while. You will need to surround him with several support units to set up kills. Wolt is an ideal partner since his long-term viability is poor. Either of the Cavaliers, Alan or Lance, also work great with Roy.
The ideal targets to take down with Roy are Archers (Who can’t defend themselves), Soldiers, Brigands, and Fighters. Roy has decent evade, so Axe-users should never have much Hit Chance against him. Always try to let Roy get the boss kill in every Chapter as those give him the most experience.
You don’t want to use Roy’s Rapier excessively, but his poor Strength may force you to. Once you get your hands on them, give Roy supereffective weapons like the Lancereaver and Armorslayer. He won’t be the strongest wielding them, but he benefits from them more than anyone in your army. Lilina shows up in Chapter 8, and I recommend you build their support immediately to improve Roy’s performance.
Roy’s Defense and Resistance might turn out decent if you get lucky with his growth rates. But until you reach at least the mid-game, Roy is very fragile. You can get your first Angelic Robe in Chapter 5, and it will give Roy some much-needed survivability. Placing Roy in a Fort or Forest whenever possible is highly recommended. Binding Blade is one of the harder games in the series, so don’t take any chances. The first Arena shows up in Chapter 7, and it’s a good idea to raise Roy up a few levels. He cannot promote until very late in the game, so you ideally want to get him to level 20 as soon as possible.
After Roy promotes, he will be considerably far behind everyone else, but it won’t be hard for him to catch up. His promotion gains are nice, and by then, you will have access to the best Swords in the game.
All Game Appearances
Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Fire Emblem Echos: Shadow of Valentia (While not technically Roy, it looks like him)
Fire Emblem Heroes
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Super Smash Bros. 4
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Why Is Roy Such An Important Character?
If Roy is a pretty forgettable character, what makes him so important? Four words: Super Smash Bros. Melee.
The creator of the Smash series, Masahiro Sakurai, wanted more sword-users in Super Smash Bros. Melee. As a fan of the Fire Emblem series, a couple of FE protagonists fit the bill. The original leading man, Marth, was an obvious choice, but Masahiro also wanted to include Roy. At the time, The Binding Blade was still in development, and there were concerns about Masahiro wanting to put Fire Emblem characters until Smash Bros. At the time, Fire Emblem was exclusively a Japanese series and had had no release in the West. Roy, in particular, almost didn’t make it into the game. But Masahiro persevered and got what he wanted.
Marth and Roy instantly became fan favorites with the player base and increased interest in the Fire Emblem series. Their popularity played a role in the developers finally releasing Fire Emblem in the West. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Unfortunately for our boy Roy, his performance in Smash isn’t much better than in The Binding Blade. Roy has appeared in Melee, Super Smash Bros. 4, and Ultimate. In Melee, he’s little more than a Marth clone and one of the lowest-ranked characters on the tier list. He improves in 4 and Ultimate, being a low-mid tier ranked character, but has always lagged significantly behind Marth.
Despite his underwhelming performance, his popularity persists, and Western Fire Emblem fans will always owe him a debt.
Question: Does Roy have a canon ending?
Answer: No, he doesn’t, but the game does lean heavily towards Lilina more than anyone else. Roy builds support much faster with Lilina than anyone else. The game points out the feelings Lilina has had for Roy since they were kids, even some of her support conversations with other characters. Last but not least, Roy and Lilina marrying one another gets you a special ending and arguably the best outcome for Lycia.
Question: How does Roy rank amongst other Lords in the series?
Answer: Unfortunately, Roy is considered one of the three worst Lords in Fire Emblem. Lords had it rough 20 years ago.
Question: How can I play The Binding Blade if I don’t understand Japanese?
Answer: The Binding Blade didn’t get a global release, but there are plenty of fan-translated patches that convert the game’s text to English. Serenes Forest has everything you’ll need.
Many fans in the community have been voicing their desire for a remake of The Binding Blade. And I am inclined to agree with that sentiment. Despite the role that he played in helping bring the series to the West, Roy has never truly shined. He’s lower mid-tier in his most recent Smash appearance and ranks as one of the five worst Lords in Fire Emblem. On top of that, he falls victim to the relatively bare-minimum characterization of early Fire Emblem games and is somewhat boring as a character. Let this man shine and give him a canon ending. The remakes have all enjoyed a healthy amount of success, and Roy and The Binding Blade could use a spit shine.
Until then, I highly recommend you play The Binding Blade and experience Roy’s story for yourself. The Binding Blade regularly ranks highly on any best Fire Emblem games list. And there’s a good reason for it.
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