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Experience Stealing

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“Sir Jagen is a paladin; the champion of Altea! He may be old, but he's strong as an ox. Still, you can't have a champion like him do everything; that's not fair to all your would-be future champions! Let your other units fight and gain experience, or you may find yourself in a real fix down the line. ”
—A Villager in Prologue III in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Experience Stealing is the process by which a character causes a loss of useful experience. It comes in several varieties.

Varieties of Experience StealingEdit

Overlevel Experience StealingEdit

The first kind of Overlevel Experience Stealing occurs when a character of a level far higher than the enemy it is fighting kills the enemy. Due to the way experience in the majority of Fire Emblem games works, a character of a much higher level will receive a lot less experience from killing the enemy than a character of a comparable or lower level than the enemy.

For example, from the opening chapter of Eliwood's Route on Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken:

  • Killing the brigand closest to the start of the chapter with level 2 Cavalier Lowen gives Lowen 30 experience points.
  • Killing the brigand closest to the start of the chapter with level 20/1 Paladin Marcus gives Marcus 3 experience points.

Here, 27 experience points have in effect been lost, or 'stolen' by Marcus from Lowen, if Marcus is made to kill the brigand.

This is the kind of Experience Stealing most commonly associated with Jeigan characters. However, it is often more optimal to ensure a Jeigan gets a kill, often when attempting a low turn count or efficiency run. Kills by Jeigans also benefit the combat rank, since they often kill in one round where other units may take several. Giving tough kills, such as bosses or promoted enemies, to Jeigans can also prolong their usefulness as they still get a reasonable portion of experience. 

Unlike Jeigans, Oifeys can see use even after your other characters have promoted. Hence, experience given to them isn't completely wasted. However, it's rather wasteful to allow an Oifey to exp sponge. Their gains are smaller as opposed to unpromoted units.

Unique to Rekka no Ken, it is possible for the reverse situation to occur, where a character who is higher level gains more experience compared to a character who is at a slightly lower level. This situation only occurs in the Normal modes of Eliwood and Hector's tales.

For example, take a Level 9 Archer from Chapter 23 of Hector's tale:

  • Killing the Archer with a Level 9 Hector nets Hector 44 experience points.
  • Killing the Archer with a Level 8 Eliwood nets Eliwood 33 experience points.

Here, 11 experience points have effectively been lost. This phenomenon occurs whenever a character's Level is close to (or slightly higher than) the enemy's Level and has a greater effect for higher Level enemies. It can perhaps be thought of as rewarding players for keeping characters close to the average enemy Level.

Another kind of Overlevel Experience Stealing occurs when a character who cannot actually gain experience makes the kill. Because either they're at max level, or not allowed to promote for story purposes, no experience is gained at all from the action, attack, or kill.

Similarly, experience is often stolen by allied units, and units marked as 'Other', who generally cannot gain experience even if they are recruitable.

Wasteful Experience StealingEdit

Wasteful Experience Stealing occurs in two situations. Firstly, when experience is given to a character the player does not intend on using, it is considered stealing. Secondly, when experience is given to a character which is sub-par compared to other characters, it is also considered stealing.

Unlike Overlevel, Wasteful does not imply that any experience is lost, merely that it has been given to a character when other characters would have made better use of it.

Indirect Experience StealingEdit

Indirect Experience Stealing occurs whenever loss of experience was out of the players control. For example, on a Defeat Every Enemy chapter, on the enemy's turn before reinforcements have arrived, the last remaining enemy attacks a unit that wouldn't normally kill it, but is criticalled on a 2% chance, thus depriving the player of the experience they could have earned from the reinforcements.

Why Experience Stealing Is BadEdit

In general, experience stealing is bad because it reduces the amount of experience and thus the amount of levels your weak team members get.

Also, it can have the effect of reducing EXP ranking, for those who play for rankings. As mentioned, Wasteful experience stealing is often used to help with the EXP rank in ranking games; it is mainly Overlevel and Indirect varieties which are detrimental to these.

Some play styles aren't affected by experience stealing at all. These mainly consist of play styles where the player abuses any sources of infinite experience in the game, such as an Arena, and also play styles where the player is using some form of cheating device.

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