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Brigands (山の盗賊 lit. Mountain Thief) also known as Bandits, are common enemies in the Fire Emblem series. They are usually one of the only classes not playable in most Fire Emblem games despite being present in every game in the series.
The main characteristics that Brigands have are high HP and strength, this is contrasted by their low skill and defense. This status setup means that in combat situations Brigands often have a difficult time hitting their enemies (due to the low skill), however if they do hit they do a considerable amount of damage. When attacked they often take considerable damage themselves due to the low defense stat. However the higher HP stat helps to counter that factor. They are also able to cross peaks and mountains, like Berserkers, but not water.
Brigands often appear in games as enemies separate from the main groups of enemies in a game. For instance during a battle between your forces and the forces of and enemy army (the content of said army pending on the particular game's storyline), a group of Brigands may show up although they will have a different 'group title' usually being Cutthroat or in later games simply Bandit.
One odd factor in many battles involving Brigands is that they act strictly as enemy units, meaning other enemy units never attack them; if you're fighting an enemy army the Brigands can walk around freely past that army to attack you without said army giving you a second look. This is also true for thieves and pirates. In most games this is explained away by the idea that 'the evil bad guy army just lets the bandit ransack the town freely' although that is still a thin explanation.
Brigands are also well known for their ability to destroy buildings. If a Brigand walks onto a space where a house that you can Visit is they can destroy it (and always will unless forced to perform another action). In some of the latest Fire Emblem games Brigands (and also Pirates) will appear as reinforcements near buildings simply with the objective of destroying them. In some games when doing this they will attempt to simply bypass any player-controlled character en route to the house they wish to destroy, however in other Fire Emblem games, they may prefer to attack player units, then destroy a building.
Most games with a sword-using Main Lord fight these kinds of enemies for at least the first chapter so the player can get a few easy kills to start him/her off. This is normally due to the Lord's weapon advantage and the Brigand's low hit rate. When the Brigand does a critical hit he shouts really loudly while raising his axe in the air and then performs the critical hit.
Some enemy brigands in Thracia 776 possessed the Steal skill, being the only non thief class or promotion to ever use this ability.
In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Brigands despite having some of the worst starting stats in the game, have massive if not the highest growths in the game, which is noticeable by comparing the stats of brigands you face chapter by chapter.
In the GBA games, brigands promote into Berserkers, though the only brigand who can be seen promoting into a Berserker is Gonzalez. In a few games though Warriors have appeared alongside groups of Brigands, this suggests they could also be a promoted version of them. In Thracia 776 they promoted to warriors.
In The Sacred Stones it is revealed by looking into the code of the game that brigands can be promoted into warriors or berserkers (and they can be promoted with use of a Master Seal).
In Binding Blade, there is a rare glitch that a brigand will have an iron bow in the arena.