Comprehensive Rules of FE Cipher

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This page was last fully updated on: 20/04/2019 (mini update Jan. 2020)
If you are looking for information on what kind of Fire Emblem 0 (Cipher) products are available, where to buy them or need certain specific knowledge about certain events, visit this page.
If you're looking for a video guide on Rules on how to play Cipher, check out DifferentFight's video here or Cipherfaire's videos here and updated version.

Fire Emblem 0 (Cipher)

In Fire Emblem 0 (Cipher), two players go in a turn-based battle between their Main Characters (MC for short, also known as a Lord). Each deck must at least contain 50 cards, including a player's Main Character (there is no upper deck limit, so you can have any number of cards in your deck as long as you have at least 50 cards). A deck consists of numerous different characters and the Symbol(s) that they play (there’s no limit to the amount of symbols that can be played either). Characters can have many different Affinities, from the kind of Weapon they use, what gender they are, or the specific type of unit they are (this is explained later). Simply, you win by defeating your opponent’s MC while they have no cards in their Orb Zone (will be explained in more detail later on).

What exactly is on a Fire Emblem 0 card?


[What's on each card]

Anything marked with a * is further explained below, each number below corresponds to the number in the above image (hover your mouse over the affinities and you can see which is which).

  • 1 - Deployment Cost*
  • 2 - Class Change Cost*
  • 3 - Symbol / Color* (Currently, there are Blade of Light, Brand, Hoshido, Nohr, Medallion, Legendary Weapons, Holy War Flag, Crests of the Goddess and Colorless)
  • 4 - Affinities* (Each card has numerous affinities: Gender - Male / Female, The type of Weapon held - Sword / Lance / Axe / Bow / Tome / Staff / Brawl / Dragonstone / Knife / Fang and the type of unit they are - Armored / Flier / Beast / Dragon, Mirage and Monster)
  • 5 - Skill*
  • 6 - Support Skill*
  • 7 - Attack*
  • 8 - Unit’s Title* - A fancy title that each character is given. This distinguishes each character (yes, even the same character with a different title), as you can play any number of different cards for that character as long as it has a different title).
  • 9 - Unit's Name - The specific character that is shown in the picture on the card. A unit’s name can matter in some cases, especially when it comes to Formation Skills.
  • 10 - Range - The range indicates where a unit can attack from. This will be explained in further detail when it comes to the phases of the game.)
  • 11 - Class Type and Class - This is also more in aesthetics or for the sake of putting it there to make it descriptive, but a unit’s class determines the affinities they get. As for unit type, these will be known as Base, Advanced, Master, Overclass, Fixed, Beginner, Intermediate, and Unique. None of these really matter towards the rules, at the end of the day it’s just aesthetics.
  • 12 - Support*

General Terminology

[Common Terms and the Explanations for them]

---Main Character / Lord---

  • This is the main unit that each player begins the game with. Both players must choose a Cost 1 Unit before the start of a game, which is designated as your Main Character. Your MC is the only unit that does not go to your Retreat when it is defeated by battle or by a Skill. Instead, you must take an Orb each time your MC is defeated (by an attack or a skill).
  • When you have no cards left in your Orb Area to take after being defeated, you lose the game.


  • These are cards that are set aside from the field, which acts as a limit to the specific Symbol/Color and the amount of units you can play down in a single turn.
  • They also act as a separate system for using skills (you have to flip these cards face-down to activate the skills of cards if the skills require bonds to be flipped as a cost).
    • Note that face down bonds are Colorless and they do not have any other attributes besides being a bond.


  • Before the game begins, these are 5 cards that act as your life (or hit points) for your Main Character. Each time your MC is defeated by an attack or skill, you must take one of these cards, and if you can’t take any more Orbs, you lose the game.
  • At any time during the game, you cannot look at any of your Orbs unless you activate a skill that allows you to do so.


  • The icons in a column on the upper left side of a card, notifying the different types of weapons and characteristics that specific card has. This can be important to some particular effects.

---Symbol / Color---

  • This is the first icon you will see on each card (in the top left corner), and each card belongs to the designated symbol unless it has a skill that states otherwise (Dual Symbol cards are explained in more detail below).
  • This is important when it comes to deploying your units each turn and for using a particular unit's skills.


  • The strength of a unit when initiating a battle or defending in battle. The amount of Attack a unit has is represented by the big number on the bottom left side of the card.
  • This goes hand in hand with the Support number from cards in the Support Zone.


  • The support of a card refers to when one of your units is attacking or defending. The amount of support a unit has is represented by the big number on the bottom right side of the card.
  • When a unit attacks or is attacked, the Attack of the battling units and the Support of the unit placed in the Support Zone from the top of the deck are combined to become the total attack for that battle.
    • The addition of Support only occurs if the unit successfully supports. A support CAN fail if the character currently in battle is supported by another copy of themselves, in which the support card is instantly sent to the Retreat Area.
    • A failed support does not give any Support value to the battle unit and any support skills are nullified.

---Deployment Cost---

  • The amount of Bonds that are required to place down a unit directly onto your field. This is signified by the larger number in the top left corner of the card.

---Class Change Cost---

  • The amount of Bonds that's required to class change a card. This is represented by the number right below the Deployment Cost.
    • If you want to play down a unit with a Class Change Cost without promoting, you must pay the normal deployment cost instead.

---Class Change---

  • A Class Change is when you place a card with the same name on top of a character you control paying the Class Change Cost instead of using the normal Deployment Cost.
  • Cards that are played this way are considered Class Changed and each time you do this, you draw a card as a bonus for Class Changing.
    • Units that are class changed are also considered "Leveled Up".
  • Class Changing is NOT the same as deploying a unit.

---Level Up---

  • A Level Up is when a card without a Class Change Cost is placed on top of a unit with the same name you control, using the normal cost.
  • Unlike a Class Change, when you perform a Level Up, you do not draw a card.
    • Leveling Up is NOT the same as deploying a unit.


  • This term is used when ‘stacking’ a card with the same name underneath a unit.
  • This is always done via the use of Skills, where Growth is referred as a specific term in certain skills.
  • A unit that has performed a 'Growth' is considered to be a leveled up unit which can use it’s Class Change Skills, but does NOT gain the bonus of drawing a card.
    • A 'Growth' is usually used to assist in helping a unit gain access to it's Level Skill X (LvlS) skills. Many of the Green Symbol cards use this mechanic.


Each unit has a set of skill(s) that determines what that unit is able to do. There are currently six different types of skills in the game, and may come with specific conditions / requirements to activate them. These are the current types of skills:

[The Different Types of Skills]

---ACT/Activate--- ACT

  • The Activate icon represents a skill that you can only activate during your Action Phase. You can activate these kinds of skills at any point during your Action Phase, except when your units are attacking.

---AUTO/Trigger--- AUTO

  • The Trigger icon represents a skill that activates in response to an action that occurs or when a specific condition is fulfilled and can activate multiple times as long as the specific condition is fulfilled each time.

---CONT/Continuous--- CONT

  • The Continuous icon represents a skill that is always active as long as the unit with the skill stays on the field (the card can specify otherwise if not) and as long as their condition is fulfilled.

---BOND/Bond--- BOND

  • The Bond icon represents a skill that can only be activated while the card itself is in the Bond Zone and face-up.

---SPEC/Special--- SPEC

  • The Special icon represents a skill that doesn’t belong in any of the above categories.
    • Basically anything else that isn't already covered by the above other type of skills, like having an effect that activates while in the hand or the unit itself being treated as another unit's name.

---SUPP/Support--- SUPP

  • This icon is on every single Support Skill in the game. A Support Skill is only activated when the card is in the Support Zone.

---HAND/Hand--- HAND

  • This icon is exclusive currently to characters from FE: Three Houses and it represents a skill that can only be activated while the card itself is in your hand.

A majority of the cards in the game have requirements or restrictions placed on their skills. Some skills even have more than one requirement to activate it. Below is a list explaining what each requirement / restriction is:

[Skill Requirements]

---Tap--- Tap This Unit

  • Switching the card to a Horizontal Position (or turning a card 90 degrees clockwise) to show that the card has performed an action.
    • Tapping to activate a skill is quite common, note that you have to Tap to perform an attack or move in Cipher.
    • You also cannot use a skill that has Tap as a requirement if the unit in question is already tapped.

---Once Per Turn--- Once Per Turn

  • A condition that indicates the skill can only be used in one instance each turn.

---Flip (X) Bond--- Flip 1 Bond

  • Where “X” represents a number, sometimes a skill may ask you to flip face-down a certain amount of face-up bonds to activate said skill (the image shown is Flip 1 Bond).
    • Note: A face down bond cannot be returned face-up without performing a skill (no skill in the game does this as of now).

---Send # cards from your Hand to the Retreat Area---

  • This type of requirement is for a skill that asks you to send a specified card(s) from your hand to the Retreat Area (Discarding it basically) in order to activate it.
  • There are skills which require you to just flat out send any card(s) in your hand to the Retreat Area, but not as common as sending a specific character from your hand.
    • With the introduction of the Boundless Area, there are now cards with the ability to send to the Boundless Area instead of Retreat Area.

A keyword skill involves more advanced requirements to activate specific types of skills:

[Keyword Skills]

---Class Change Skill--- Class Change Skill

  • This skill is only active when a unit has class changed either by Class Change Cost or Growth from another skill effect.

---Formation Skill--- Formation Skill

  • This skill requires specific other characters to be tapped in order to activate it. These are mostly Triangle Attacks.

---Level Up Skill--- Level Skill X

  • Where “#” represents a number, LvlS is a requirement where your unit’s entire stack needs to be a certain number.
    • Stack refers to the amount of cards that unit has in total, counting the top card as well. If a skill requires LvlS2, then you need a total stack of 2, which means one card under the unit, so basically the number of cards you need under the unit is the stack required minus 1.
    • Even if the unit's stack is increased, they will still be able to use previous LvlS skills (e.g, if your Ike is LvlS5 (4 cards stacked underneath), it can use it's LvlS3, LvlS4 and LvlS5 skills - all of them are active).

---Union Skill--- Union Skill
Exclusive to Hoshido Hoshido and Nohr Nohr

  • This skill requires a specific Symbol bond to be in the Bond Zone to make the skill active.
    • Please note that face down bonds are colorless and do not have a Symbol or any other attributes besides being a bond.**

---Carnage Form--- Carnage Form
Exclusive to Tokyo Mirage Sessions Mirage

  • This skill requires the Mirage to be in the same area as its Mirage Master (both units need to be in the Front Line or Back Line), which allows the Mirage to be unbeatable by battle with an enemy unit (the skill is only active while the Mirage Master is still on the field).

---Bond Skill--- Bond Skill
Exclusive to Holy War Flag Holy War Flag

  • This skill requires the specific unit with this skill to be face-up in the Bond Area to activate.

---Dragon Vein--- Dragon Vein
Exclusive to Hoshido Hoshido and Nohr Nohr

  • Dragon Vein is a special kind of skill that requires an Orb to be flipped face-up as part of the activation requirement for part of these skills. They are usually paired up with other skills that require a face-up Orb to be active.

---Hero Skill--- Hero Skill
Exclusive to B09 Alm & Celica, the twins B11 Rowan & Lianna, B14 Marth, Katarina, Kris (Male), B20 Ike, and B22 Kris (Female)

  • This skill for changing from your current Main Character to someone else. By using these skills, for example if using Alm’s skill, then Alm will become your MC for the duration of the game until another Hero Skill is used.

---Twin Skill--- Twin Skill
Exclusive to Eirika and Ephraim

  • This skill grants specific units to be kept alive by taking an Orb instead of that unit being destroyed by an attack. Any skills that activate on-hit when Twin Skill is used may still be activated (as part of a ruling).

---Increase Skill--- Increase Skill
Exclusive to Blazing Blade Legendary Weapons

  • This skill's effect can activate multiple times as long as you Flip 1 Bond for each use.

---Awakening Skill--- Awakening Skill
Exclusive to Awakening Brand

  • This skill's effect is activated usually upon a unit's Class Change, similar to the above Class Change Skills.

---Dragon Blood--- Dragon Blood
Exclusive to Hoshido Hoshido and Nohr Nohr

  • This skill grants the unit possessing this skill various effects like attack increases, range, etc. The Hoshido and Nohr royals also have a Continuous 2nd skill where they gain all allies' Dragon Blood skills as well.
    • This can grant quite devastating power when you have a few of the royals on the Battlefield.

---Legendary Item Skill--- Legendary Item Skill
Exclusive to Binding Blade Legendary Weapons

  • This skill, depending on the character, has a variety of effects: destroying Dragons, moving characters, etc. It is part of the 9-card Legendary Weapons artwork from Series 16 and a future Series.

---Crest Power--- Crest Power
Exclusive to Three Houses Crests of the Goddess

  • This skill, depending on the character, has a variety of effects: giving allies +# attack, inflicting critical hits, and even untapping an ally. This skill is unique compared to the others as it only activates if the card is in your hand.

The following icons represent the ( SUPP Support Skills) , which only activate while that card is in the Support Zone.

[The types of Support Skills]

---Attack Support--- Attack Support

  • Icon used for skills that activate during your action phase while you’re attacking.

---Defense Support--- Defense Support

  • Icon used for skills that only activate during your opponent’s action phase while you’re defending.

---Attack/Defense Support--- Attack/Defense Support

  • Icon used for skills that activate whether you're attacking or defending. These skills are exclusive to Purple, Colorless and Lissa thus far.

Overall View of the Gameplay Area

You don’t have to copy this Gameplay Area completely, but it’s highly recommended you do as a general consensus because everyone will probably be using it.
Play Area2.png

[What the Gameplay Area consists of]


  • Your deck goes here.
  • The moment you have no cards left in your Deck, your Retreat Area is then shuffled and then placed back here. This action happens instantly, and takes priority before everything else, e.g When the last card in your Deck is placed in the Support Area).
    • However, skills that reveal cards do not reset the deck as they technically still there.

---Retreat Area---

  • The Retreat Area is where all cards go after being checked in the Support Area, when a player activates a skill that requires a card to be sent here, performs a Critical Hit / God-Speed Evasion and when a unit is defeated by an attack. (More detail below)

---Support Area---

  • This is where cards that are supporting your units go.
  • After each battle, a card that was used as Support is sent to the Retreat Area.
    • When a Support is considered a failed support, that card instantly goes into the Retreat Area. (More detail below)

---Orb Area---

  • The Orb Area is where the Orbs from the beginning of the game go.
  • At the start of a game after each player has a starting hand, you place five cards here face-down.
    • Each time your MC gets defeated by an attack, you take a card from this area. The order in which you take your cards from this area does not matter, which means you're allowed to take any card from your orb area in any order you want (this means you can leave a face-up card in there if you want to).
    • If there are no cards remaining here while your MC gets defeated once more, you lose.

---Bond Area---

  • The Bond Area is where you can place cards as Bonds during the Bond Phase (optional).
  • They are used for costs of effects which state it and are in relation to deploying your units.
    • The common way to place bonds down is overlapping each other, either horizontally or vertically.

---Front Line Area---

  • The Front Line Area is one of two areas you may place your units down.
  • This is where both player’s MCs are placed down at the beginning of the game.
    • There is no limit to the number of units that can be placed down here.

---Back Line Area---

  • The Back Line is the other area where you may place a unit down.
    • Note: You cannot have a unit in this area without having any units in the Front Line Area during your opponent’s turn, if you do, then a Forced March will occur. (More detail later)
    • Just like the Front Line Area, there is no limit to the number of units that can be placed down here.

---Boundless (Mugen) Area---

  • This Area is called the Boundless Area in English, however the above image uses the name 'Mugen' as it was made when we only knew the Japanese name at the time.
  • The Boundless Area is much the same as the Void/Graveyard in other TCGs - whatever card is sent here cannot be taken back out again unless by a skill currently.
    • Note: When you run out of cards in your Deck, only your Retreat Area is shuffled to form your Deck again, NOT the Boundless Area. (See Above about reshuffling)

Playing the Game

A player’s deck must contain at least 50 cards (The Main Character you set aside from your Deck is also included in this number), and there is no upper limit of cards you may have. Decks may contain no more than 4 copies of the same card, and there is no limitation on the amount of different units you can play, as long as there aren’t more than four cards with the exact same unit name and title (You can play up to four copies of the same unit as long as their titles do not match, e.g 4 copies of Marth, Crown Prince of Altea and 4 copies of Marth, Lodestar in your Deck).

[Before Starting the Game]
  • Before starting a game, decide which player will go first in a method that both players deem fair (Coin toss, rolling a dice, rock-scissors paper, etc).
    • The player that wins via the agreed method goes first.
  • The player who takes the first turn does not draw during their Beginning Phase and cannot declare an attack for that turn - While this does mean you don't have as large a hand, it also means being ahead in terms of Bonds and Deployment.

  • Set aside one cost 1 unit from your deck face-down as a "Main Character" (MC for short, or sometimes as Lord).
    • Note: The MC absolutely must be a cost 1 unit (there are no exceptions).
  • Not Required, but it’s helps to distinguish other units from the MC: Place a card underneath your MC (it can be any card, it doesn’t even have to be from Cipher, it could be from another TCG entirely) to signify that it is your MC (FE Cipher Starter decks come with a marker card you can use, or you can purchase a Marker Character Card online).
  • This allows players to distinguish other units from the MC.
  • General Tip: Most Cipher decks are built around a specific MC to begin with, so the MC a player chooses is the same every time they play that deck.

  • Both players shuffle their decks and draw six cards as their opening hand.
    • Both players are also allowed the option to Mulligan (where a player places the whole opening hand they drew back into the deck, shuffle it, and draw six new cards), but this is only allowed ONE time.

  • After each player has drawn their hand and are ready, each player puts the top 5 cards of their deck face-down into their Orb Area.
  • Each player flips their MC face-up. Now begin the game!

The Phases of The Game

When playing the game, each turn consists of five different phases for each player. As mentioned before, the player who takes the first turn does not draw during their Beginning Phase, and cannot declare an attack during their Action Phase.
Beginning Phase - The start of a player’s turn
Bond Phase - The optional placement of a card into the Bond Area
Deployment Phase - The optional deployment of units to the Battlefield
Action Phase - The actual phase of combat, which includes Battle, the use of Skills, and moving units
End Phase - The end of a player’s turn, which signifies the next player’s turn

Beginning Phase

[The Beginning Phase]
  • Activate any skills that have a requirement at this stage of the game. This is seen on all units with the skill text “At the start of your turn”.

  • “Untap” all of your units back to the pre-action state. You do this by turning your horizontal cards vertical again. In short, it makes any unit that performed an action last turn be able to perform an action this turn.

  • The current turn player draws a card from the top of the Deck. If you are going first, you do not draw a card.

Bond Phase

[The Bond Phase]
  • The Bond Phase is optional. You may choose to place a card from your hand into the Bond Area thus turning that card into a Bond). (It can be good to not bond a card in the later parts of the game for various reasons)

  • This is important for the first few beginning turns, as you want to deploy more units later on.

  • Bonds are also required to activate the skills of units with bond flip costs on them.

Deployment Phase

[The Deployment Phase]
  • During the Deployment Phase, the turn player may place units from their hand into the front line or back line (it’s up to the player’s choice) or class change their units. A player may also "level up" their units, but this is rarely done. More about Class Change / Level Up listed below.

  • The cost of amount of units you are able to play for each turn is dependent on the amount of bonds you control (You cannot play more than one 1 cost unit if you only have 1 bond, more than two 1 cost units / one 2 cost unit if you have two bonds, etc)

  • You do not have to deploy the maximum amount of units you're able to, or any for that turn.
[The Rules of Deployment]
  • To deploy a unit, simply place that unit from your hand to either the Front Line or the Back Line Areas, but only if you have the bonds remaining to deploy that unit.

  • You cannot control two of the exact same unit, regardless of the card’s title. For example, you cannot deploy another copy of Marth if you already control Marth on your field.

  • There are also Symbol restrictions when it comes to deploying, class changing or levelling up your units:

  • You can only deploy, class change or level up a unit if you have at least one face-up card of that unit’s Symbol in your Bond Zone (you can’t deploy Caeda if you do not control at least one Blade of Light Bond or Lucina if you do not control at least one Brand Bond).

  • It is only okay to deploy, class change or level up a unit if you control at least one bond that is the same Symbol as the unit you want to deploy (you can only deploy cost 4 Lucina if one of the four bonds you control is at least Blue).

  • A face-down bond (flipped by the cost of skills) does not count as any Symbol while it is face down, but still counts towards the amount of units you are able to Deploy, Class Change or Level Up. However, if all the bonds in your bond zone are face-down you cannot deploy any Symbol units.

    • Note: Symbol-less units do not have a Symbol to begin with, so even if all your bonds are face-down, as long as you have the number of bonds, you may deploy these units.

---Class Change / Level Up and Other Deployment Rules---
Promotion Example2.png

[In the example shown above, Alm (Cost 1) class changes to Alm (Cost 4/3) - Doing this only requires 3 Bonds instead of 4 for the turn, as it is a Class Change and not a normal deployment]

[Class Change / Level Up and Other Deployment Rules]

---Class Change---

  • A Class change is the action of placing a unit with a Class Change Cost on top of a unit with the same name as a unit you control (this uses number below the Deployment Cost - scroll up to 'What's On Each Card' section).
    • Note - Remember to keep in mind that a Class Change cost also counts towards the amount of units you may deploy in a single turn (in reference to the rules listed above).

    • Whenever you class change a unit, you draw a card as a bonus for class changing. If there are any skills that activate on the instance of class changing, the bonus draw for class changing is prioritized before the skill activates.

    • In the same turn, you can deploy a unit and then class change them, however, you have to pay for both costs as you performed two actions (deploying Marth 1, and then class changing him into Marth 4(3), these actions count as 4 bonds total).

    • A Class Changed unit (a card with a Class Changed) can also be played normally, using the Deployment Cost instead which is usually higher. However, they will not be considered Class Changed (class change skills do not become active) and you do not draw a card when they are played.

  • You are allowed to Class Change an already deployed, promoted unit with another copy of the same card. Genny 4(5) can be played on Genny 4(5) for the class change cost of 5 for example.

  • You can perform as many Class Changes as you want to your units on the field as long as you have the Bonds and meets the above requirements (even in the same turn). You can play down Cost 3/2 Ike on top of Cost 1 Ike and then place a Cost 6/4 Ike on top of the 3/2 Ike, but the amount of Bonds needed for this is 6.

  • The current card that remains on the top of a unit that is Class Changed or Leveled Up can only use the skills from the current card (the skills of the cards below the current unit do not take effect)..

---Level Up---

  • Level Up is similar to a Class Change, except you place a card with the same name without a Class Change Cost on top of a unit you control (Cost 1 Nowi -> Cost 3 Nowi).

    • Unlike Class Change, you do not gain the bonus of drawing a card for leveling up.

  • You may level up your MC just like any other unit (even if your MC whose higher level card does not have a Class Change Cost, you can only level up to get to that stage, the best example for this is Ranulf).

---Other Deployment Rules---

  • You may also ‘level down’ a unit by placing a unit with a lower cost on top of a unit you have on the field. This does not trigger class change bonus, unless the card itself has a Class Change Cost.

  • The current stack of a unit you control is equal to the number of cards underneath that unit plus the card on top. If you have 4 Ike cards under your current Ike, his stack is 5, which allows Ike to use LvlS skills that have a requirement of 5 stacks.

Action Phase

The Action Phase consists of using the skills of your units (depending on the requirement and type of skill that a unit has, a Skill could be used in any phase, not just the Action Phase), moving your units from the front line to the back line and vice versa and attacking your opposing player’s units with yours. The player who starts the game cannot declare an attack.

---Notes on this Phase---

[Notes on the Action Phase]
  • While you’re considering what cards in your Bond Area to flip face-down for the cost of Skills, keep in mind the following:
    • Symbol Restrictions on the kind of units you can play.
    • When a bond is flipped face-down, you cannot return it face-up, without the use of a skill
    • Both players can look at either player’s face-down bonds at any time during the game.

  • There are four different actions a unit can take during the Action Phase:
    • Attack an enemy unit (requires tapping the unit)
    • Move to a different area (Front Line to Back Line or vice versa, requires tapping the unit)
    • Activate their Skills, if any can be activated (may require tapping the unit)
    • Do nothing - you aren't required to actually do anything if you so choose.

  • When you perform an action like moving or attacking, you must 'tap' that unit (rotate the card to a horizontal position from a vertical one) to signify that unit has performed an action. Also, you cannot move or attack with a unit that is already tapped, unless it is by a skill.

---Rules of Attacking---

[The Rules of Attacking]
  • To conduct an attack, you must tap a unit as explained above.
  • A unit can only attack an enemy unit based on that unit’s range and Area position.
    • Range of 1 - the unit can only attack a row directly in front of them (Your 1-range unit in the Front Line can only attack enemy units in your opponent’s’ Front Line).
    • Range of 2 - the unit can only attack a row two spaces in front of them (Your 2-range unit can only attack your opponent’s Front Line from your Back Line, or your opponent’s Back Line from your Front Line.
    • Range of 1-2 - These units have the most options to attack, as they can attack an enemy right in front of them or attack an enemy from a distance, from either the Front or Back Line.
    • Range of 3 - The unit can only attack the row three spaces ahead (Your 3-range unit can only attack the enemy Back Line from your own Back Line).
    • Note: There are some Skills that allow units to attack from your back line to the enemy back line.

---Battle Steps---
Attack Phase Example.png
[Shown in the example above, Chrom can only attack Shiida in the row in front of him, and Virion can only attack Gaius, who is two rows ahead of him]

[The Steps in Battle - Part 1]
  • The Steps of a Battle - Declare Attack -> Activate Skills -> Both players Support -> Activate Support Skills -> Optional Critical Hit -> Optional Evade -> Result (Hit or Miss)
  • To declare an attack, simply tap a unit you wish to attack with, and declare an enemy that your unit can attack depending on the range of your unit.

  • If any of your unit's skills can activate when you declare an attack, activate your skills, then if any of your opponent's skills can activate at this moment, they activate after yours. (This is important as if two AUTO skills activate at the time you declare an attack, you have the priority as you are the one declaring an attack).

Battle Example.png

[In the above example, on the left side, Miriel’s attack (with supporting Caeda) is 60 while on the right side, Cain’s attack (with supporting Barst) is 50, thus Miriel wins.]

[The Steps In Battle - Part 2]


  • Both players flip the top card of their deck and place it in the support area. If any support skills are revealed, the order of skill priority goes to the player attacking first, then the defending player (your Support Skills activate first, then your opponent’s Support Skills activate, if any.
  • Each player’s support is added onto the Attack of the respecting attacking / defending units.

    • A unit cannot support themselves, known has Self-support. So Chrom may not be supported by another Chrom (even if the titles are different) and if this happens, the support card is automatically sent ot the Retreat Area.
    • A failed support does not add any Attack to your unit and support skills cannot be activated if there are any.

---Critical Hit---

  • After supports are added onto attack, the attacking player may choose to perform a Critical Hit. You do this by discarding a card with the attacking unit's name (just the unit name must be the same, titles can differ).
  • If they do so, then the Attack of the attacking unit is doubled - Since this is after the Support is added on, everything is doubled, including Support and any skills that boost the units attack until the end of the battle.
    • Note: Critical Hits are especially useful for giving your low attack units just enough attack to defeat your opponent's high attack units or for activating certain unit’s skills.


  • When the defending unit is about to be defeated, that player may now choose to perform an God-Speed Evade. This is done by discarding a card with the defending unit’s name (the exact same rules as when going for a Critical Hit).
    • If done so, then the current attack is “nullified”. As a result of doing this, the battle automatically ends and the next unit that hasn’t performed an action can attack, if any.

---Battle Calculation---

  • After all of the above steps, and assuming that the defending unit did not perform an evasion, the attacking unit’s attack is compared to the defending unit’s attack. One of two outcomes will occur:
    • If the defending unit has higher Attack, then nothing happens and both units are still on the field. Attacking units do not get defeated if they are not able to defeat an enemy unit nor is the player punished either should this happen.
    • If the attacking unit’s Attack is greater than or equal to the defending unit’s Attack, then the defending unit is defeated as a result of battle and send to the Retreat Area if the unit is not an MC.

  • If the defeated unit is the MC, instead sending them to the Retreat Area, the defending player must take an card from their Orb Area and add it into their hand. If the defending player cannot take an card from their Orb Area because there aren’t any cards left, then they lose the game.

  • Finally, any skills that activate when the attacking unit defeats a unit in battle (they also activate when the MC is defeated) or when a character is defeated by an attack activate now.(The turn priority rule takes effect, so the attacking unit activates their skills first).
  • After these skills resolve (if any skills are available to activate), regardless of the outcome determined above, both players send their Support cards used for this battle to the Retreat Area.

End Phase

[The End Phase]
  • After the player is done performing an action with all their units, they may begin their End Phase.
  • Any Skills that activate can do so, and any Skills that stop being active at the end of the turn now stop (such as Attack boosts).
  • You may now proceed to your opponent’s turn, which shifts to your opponent's Beginning Phase.

Forced March

A “Forced March” occurs when a player does not have any units on the Front Line during their opponent's turn, where all of the player’s Back Line units are forced to move to the Front Line. This is NOT optional and must occur. It does not count as a 'move' so any skills which would normally activate do not.

Special Notes

[Special Notes]
Below are some common questions asked, however for more in-depth, please visit the fan translated official FECipher FAQ google doc: [Fire Emblem Cipher FAQ]
  • At any moment where a player runs of cards in their Deck, the player takes their Retreat Area, shuffles it, and uses that as their new deck. This takes priority over everything in the game, and interrupts what currently is going on. Afterwards, the game proceeds as normal.
    • For example, when you draw the last card of your Deck, or when you place the last card of your Deck in the Support Area, you immediately refresh your Deck).
  • If at one point two Skills activate at the same time, the owner of those units gets to decide the order in which these skills resolve For example, if both Cost 4 Soren and Cost 4 Elise can activate their Skills at the start of a turn, you can decide which Skill to activate first.

---Skills that Destroy Units---

  • When an skill simply “destroys” a unit, you may select the MC as long as they can actually be targeted by that skill.
    • For example, Camus can only select cost 2 or lower units, so if their MC has a deployment cost of 3 or more, they cannot be selected as a target.
  • In the case that the MC can be and is selected by a destruction skill, then the player who owns that MC must add an orb to their hand, as if it had taken damage as a result from an attack.
    • You cannot perform an evade for a skill that destroys units.

---Skills that Deploy Units---

  • When a skill gives you the option to deploy a unit, you may pick any unit, as long as it's within the restrictions of the Skill. Deploying via these skills are not restricted by Bonds like normal deployment would be.
  • For example, Elice: Princess of Altea allows you to deploy a cost 2 or lower Blade of Light unit from the Retreat Area.

---About Double Orb Breaking---

  • When an attacking unit wins a battle against a MC and the unit has an active skill (whether the unit's or support's) that allows that unit to break two orbs instead of one, then that player will NOT win if the defending player had one orb left before the attack. The one orb will break as per normal.
    • This is because the skill states that it only breaks two orbs, rather than dealing damage.

---Unavoidable Attacks---

  • While your opponent has a Skill active that causes their unit's attack(s) to be unavoidable, and that unit attacks you and defeats you successfully you cannot perform an Evasion.

---Dual Symbol Cards---

  • The rules for deployment for these cards are simple - you just need both Hoshido Hoshido and Nohr Nohr Bonds to be able to deploy dual Symbol units like Kana or Selkie.
    • The upside of these cards is that they count as both Hoshido and Nohr in the Bond Area, so try to take advantage of this as much as possible.

---Some FAQ---

  • Both genders of Corrin and Robin count as separate characters, so you can have both Male and Female Robin / Corrin the field at the same time.
  • Lucina: Fortuna Swordsman, and Lucina: Swordsman Known as Marth share the same name as Marth, because of their Special Skills. This includes being able to Class Change into Marth with them (and Leveling Up), failing the support when supported by either or, and being able to perform Critical Hits/God-speed Evasions. As such, you cannot deploy either Lucina if you already control Marth, and vice versa.
  • Skills that activate when a unit's attack destroys an enemy also activate if the enemy Main Character is hit. This still counts as being destroyed despite the MC being there.

If you are still nervous or iffy about the rules, perhaps it would be best to go and watch a few games on Lackey - you can find information on how to set it up here: [1]
You can also have someone explain the rules to you, and perhaps actually get into a game. Playing the game gives better and faster understand than just reading the rules.
If you have any further questions, such as something to do with card rulings or how to play the game you may ask them on forums or join us on Discord this link!

This page is constantly updating, so be aware of any changes that may happen. These rules were originally written by FutureKnightX and periodically updated by TheVinceKnight and Auroraskye.