“Mark? Is something wrong? Oh, you were worried about me. I apologize for all of the trouble. I'm fine now. I have my friends to lean on. Hector, Lyndis, and you, Mark... Thanks to all of you, I'm getting stronger. I am coming to believe that together, we can overcome anything!”
—Eliwood in Chapter 20
The Tactician (軍師 Gunshi, lit. Military Adviser) whose default name is Mark (マーク Māku) is portrayed as a mysterious traveler who is found unconscious on the plains by Lyndis at the beginning of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. The tactician was introduced to give the player an actual role in the game and was a means to introduce players into the gameplay mechanics of the Fire Emblem series, of which The Blazing Blade (simply titled Fire Emblem for outside territories) was the first of the series to be launched outside Japan.
The tactician is a male named Mark by default at first, though the player can change the name, gender and birth month at the start of the game. They act as the player's avatar and is a non-playable character during the whole game, but will never appear during actual gameplay. Most of the time, they are only addressed by other characters during story sequences. The tactician can be seen, but only during the few scenes involving movement on the battlefield, appearing as a sprite resembling a brown-haired individual wearing green robes over yellow garments. The sprite itself will never change between genders, regardless of the player's choice in the beginning of the game.
Despite never having a set appearance or any dialogue in the story, some snippets of the tactician's personality are seen in conversations with other characters. They are compassionate, willing to let Lyn journey with them and helping her take back her land, family and inheritance. They can be rather incredulous at times, shown when Serra wonders why the tactician is giving her a strange look at her "generosity" when offering to heal Erk. They are also willing to go to any lengths for their friends, shown when they even join the final battle against Nergal.
Depending on the gender, characters will react on the tactician differently. For example, Sain will try to flirt to both Lyn and the player if the tactician is a female and Florina will hesitate to speak to the player if the tactician is portrayed as a man, but will talk in a more comfortable manner when speaking to a female tactician. Nonetheless, everyone in the army respects the tactician greatly, offering suggestions and putting their faith in his or her orders.
The tactician is asked at the end of Eliwood and Hector's story to name their children and to become the godparent of Roy and Lilina, respectively. There are also alternate endings, though they may change based on the playthrough and the ranking of the tactician at the end of the game. At the lowest ranking, the tactician's strategy is viewed as so incomprehensible that historians of Elibe in the far future are puzzled as to how he achieved Eliwood and his army victory with such a strategy. However, at the better rankings, the tactician is highly revered by many because of their skills in tactics. So much in fact, that Bern, Lycia and Etruria are searching for them. At the highest ranking, Bern and Etruria go so far as to start a war in order to procure the skills of this brilliant mind. Regardless, it is implied that the tactician was never found.
In Fire Emblem Awakening, at the end of Smash Brethren 3, Lyn speaks to the Avatar. Due to the many similarities between the two tacticians, Lyn believes the Avatar to be her old friend. It may be that the Avatar is a reincarnation of the original tactician in another world. Lyn asks the Avatar if they are in fact her old friend, and the player is given a yes/no choice that Lyn will respond to accordingly.
The tactician will never appear on the field of battle, but they can contribute all the same. Starting in Chapter11, the game will keep a hidden tally (only revealed in the results screen) measuring the player's overall aptitude throughout the campaign. Each chapter has four hidden 'thresholds' for each of the five criteria featured in the ranking screen:
- Tactics: Turncount for the current chapter. Some chapters, namely Hector-exclusive chapters, have an unreachable '0' for its easiest threshold, making it impossible to score above 1/5 in this area.
- Combat: Number of enemies killed vs. number of battles fought. Roughly 40% of all battles should end in an enemy dying, for a 5/5. Many enemies are frail and tend to die in two battles or less, so this rating is trivially easy to score well in, as long as the player doesn't Boss Abuse.
- Experience: Number of Experience points gained in the current chapter, whether in battle or during preperation. Units that promote are treated as if they gained enough EXP to reach Level 21.
- Funds: Change in net worth during the current chapter, including the buy value of all items in the player's inventory. Because an item's sell value is always lower than its buy value, selling items(particularly Gems) will always hurt a player's funds rank.
- Survival: Number of units, if any, that died during the current chapter. A unit's death will instantly prevent a 5/5 score for the chapter.
The game will calculate a total score for the chapter, based on the best threshold the player reached for each area. Depending on the player's score, they will be assigned anywhere from 0 to 5 points. 0 Points corresponds to an overall 1/5 ranking in virtually every area, with none of the lowest pars reached. 5 points corresponds to a perfect 5/5 in every area, with all of the hardest pars reached. It should be noted that achieving a perfect 5/5 score is literally impossible in some chapters, primarily bonus missions from Hector's campaign and Survival missions in which killing the boss will not end the chapter, as a 5/5 tactics ranking is impossible in both cases.
For every 12 points the player earns this way, the tactician will be afforded a tactician star, up to a maximum of 10.
Units whose affinity is identical to the tactician's receive an additional point in both hit and avoid for each star the tactician earns. For all units, regardless of affinity, an additional point is added to critical evasion for each star that's earned. If the player decides to not use a tactician at all, no units will receive this bonus. Because all units receive a boost to critical evasion as a result of Tactician Stars, enemy criticals are extremely rare in The Blazing Blade, usually only achieved by Swordmasters or enemies with dedicated critical-hitting gear. This boost can be compared to Leadership Stars from Thracia 776 . Depending on the player's aptitude, the player can expect to receive an additional star anywhere from once every three chapters to about once every ten chapters.
The affinity of the tactician is determined by the tactician's chosen birth month. In the Japanese version of the game, an option exists to choose the tactician's bloodtype, which will also factor into determining affinity. Due to a lesser cultural importance of bloodtypes, this isn't included in the English versions and affinity is determined purely by birth month. If the player elects not to use a Tactician, no units will receive an affinity boost. Some affinities are generally considered better or worse than others. The Dark affinity, for example, only has four representatives, two of whom are rarely used prepromotes and one of whom is Merlinus and should never see combat to begin with. Wind, on the other hand, has nearly twice as many representatives, including a Lord, a Thief, and a powerful cavalier who would very much appreciate the accuracy boost.
If the player elects not to use a Tactician at all, they will never receive Afa's Drops.
“Here we go again, eh, Mark? Just like old times... Seems our fates are bound. Natalie? Oh, she's still in Pherae. I'm working for you this time, so she's not too worried. Guide my axe, Mark.”
—Dorcas's conversation in Chapter 12
“Aaaiiieeee!!! You! They call you Mark, am I right? I am Merlinus, a humble and lowly merchant. I know nothing of combat. Please! You must protect me!”
—Merlinus's conversation in Chapter 13x
“Pherae's new tactician... It was you all along, wasn't it, Mark? Me? I'm still traveling in pursuit of knowledge. I'll never outstrip my tutor, but I'm getting a bit closer... Well, Mark, tell me what you need me to do.”
—Erk's conversation in Chapter 15
“Mark. The captured Caelin soldiers are most likely exhausted. I'd like to protect them and keep them from having to fight. I realize that makes it difficult for you to plan a strategy, but... I will do my best to take up their share of the fighting. Now, please tell us what we should do, Mark.”
—Eliwood's conversation in Chapter 16
“Honored tactician... Your name is Mark, correct? The enemy commander is readying his troops beyond that mountain. I can fly over the mountain and direct you, but... Getting too close could prove to be dangerous. Bear that in mind when you give me my orders.”
—Fiora's conversation in Chapter 18x
“Mark! The final battle is approaching. That traitor, Laus... He harmed Lord Hausen, caused grief to Lady Lyndis... As a true knight of Caelin, I will make him pay!
(Tactician is male) Leave him to me!!
(Tactician is female) Mark my words!
—Sain's conversation in Chapter 19
“You're Mark, correct? Lord Eliwood has told me much about you. I'm a knight in service to House Pherae. My name is Isadora. I'm under your command. Please instruct me.”
—Isadora's conversation in Chapter 21
“Actually, this is quite fascinating. Mark, the Nabata wasteland is a bit of a paradise to magic adepts. Stories tell of the many magical artifacts lost in these sands. I'll keep my eyes open. Of course, I'll be fighting as well.”
—Canas's conversation in Chapter 22
“Bern... Hm? Oh, Mark. I have few fond memories of my homeland. I'm a deserter. Yet... I can't say I'm not a little glad to be here. I hope that, someday soon, I can clear my name and return home.”
—Heath's conversation in Chapter 23
“You're Mark, is that right? Please ... forget about my title and standing in my country. You are our tactician, and I will do as you command. Well then, I hope we'll work well together.”
—Pent's conversation in Chapter 24
“Are you our tactician, Mark? I am Harken. I beg your forbearance. Lord Eliwood has ordered me to follow your commands in combat. I care not where I meet death. Just guide me wisely.”
—Harken's conversation in Chapter 26
“Listen, Mark. You know how Eliwood is. Never wants to burden anyone else... Takes all responsibility on himself... Now, more than ever, we have to support him. Let's go, Mark!”
—Hector's conversation in Chapter 28
“Look at that! Bowmen as far as the eye can see! Mark! Do you have something against me? Heh, you know better than that. Let me tell you, Vaida is not your average wynern rider! Mark! Sit back and watch me perform!”
—Vaida's conversation in Chapter 29
“Mark, this is it. The last battle. Lord Athos spoke the truth about Nergal... Average men cannot hope to stand against him. Ordinary weapons hold no power against him. Those who go with us... They must be chosen carefully.
—Eliwood's conversation in Final Chapter
“Ah! Mark, you, too?”
—Eliwood's conversation in Final Chapter
“Say, Mark. not sure how to say this... You're a full-blown tactician now, aren't you? Not just an apprentice like before. Ha ha... No need to be so modest. My lord tactician! I humbly await your no-doubt brilliant orders!”
—Matthew's conversation in Chapter 13
“Uh-oh! I think we've been surrounded! Uh... but I'm not worried a bit. I'm with you after all, Mark. We make quite a team. Right. Come on, Mark! Let's get started!”
—Serra's conversation in Chapter 14
“Uh... Mark... Um... It's me... Florina. Um... I'm... I'm over here.
—Florina's conversation in Chapter 16
“Mark. We can't count on the captured Caelin soldiers to be able to fight. We'll have to protect them as much as possible. What!? That chill feeling... Someone's watching... and wants me dead! No sense in worrying, though. I'll deal with it when it happens. Let's go, Mark!”
—Hector's conversation in Chapter 17
“Mark, let me take the point. I will break through, even though it may cost me my life. If something does happen to me, Mark... Lady Lyndis... Please watch over her. Now, Mark, give me my orders!”
—Kent's conversation in Chapter 20
“Shall I join the battle this time, Mark? I can’t wait! Ah, this brings back memories, doesn’t it? Kind of like we’re back with Lyndis’s Legion again. OK, Mark! Guide my arrows true!”
—Wil’s conversation in Chapter 22
“…… Who? Oh, it’s you, is it, Mark? You caught me unawares and looking stupid. It’s just that I AM a former Black Fang member.
And I was a bit wrapped up in some silly emotions. Nothing for you to worry about. Direct me as you will.”
—Legault's conversation in Chapter 24
“Florina: Oh, Mark.”
“Fiora: We’re moving out, too, right, Mark? Let’s go, Florina.”
“Florina: OK… But there are so many of them. If only Farina were here with us…”
“Fiora: Florina, it’s not helping us to talk about her now. Now, Mark. Give us our orders.”
—Florina and Fiora's conversation in Chapter 25
“Huh huh huh huh. You’ve done well to choose me for this, Mark! Weaklings! Their pathetic attacks mean nothing to me! I’ll cut through this snow like a new-forged blade!”
—Wallace's conversation in Chapter 27
“Do you need something, Mark? That's right. They're Black Fang. The man he named, like me, is one of the Four Fangs. He is an assassin, my equal... Or better... .....”
—Jaffar's conversation in Chapter 29
“Mark... I'm sure you already know, Hector's as strong as they come. But... I'm worried. I've known him since we were kids, and... you've probably seen it, too. The weakness hidden within the heart is his strength. Mark, we have to protect Hector. I'm sure he'll stomp and yell about it, but ...we're friends. Let's go, Mark!”
—Eliwood's conversation in Chapter 30
“Wow! Why do there have to be so many archers? Oh well... As long as I've been paid, I can't complain. This is my chance to show you what Farina of the Great Wing can do! But listen, Mark... This goes beyond hazard pay!”
—Farina's conversation in Chapter 31
“You are Mark... This army's general, right? What? A tactician? Well, either way, don't be shy. If you need work done, use me. I do not enjoy battle, but I have my skills.”
—Karla's conversation in Chapter 32
“You... Your name is, Mark, isn't it? I'll wager you don't trust me. You think I look shady, don't you? Don't let it bother you. It's the truth... Mark... Nergal is powerful. But he is still human, and these morphs were made by that same human... Victory is not impossible. ...I know this to be true.”
—Renault's conversation in Chapter 32x
“Mark, now this definitely is the last battle. Like Athos Graybeard said about Nergal... Average people and ordinary weapons won't be enough to oppose him. You've got to choose who goes with us carefully.”
—Hector's conversation in Final Chapter
“Oh! Mark, you, too?!”
—Hector's conversation in Final Chapter
Note: Mark is the default tactician's name. You are given the choice to replace "Mark" with a name of your choosing.
Mark - The Tactician
Mark leaves Lyn to continue his training. He plans on traveling throughout Lycia. Lyn refuses to say good-bye, believing in her heart that she will see him again.
Mark - Superb Mind (Tactician Rank A or S)
A tactician whose brilliance changed the course of history. Bern and Etruria so desired this skilled mind that they went to war.
Mark - Famed Genius (Tactician Rank B or C)
The tactician vanished after the battle. Bern, Lycia, and Etruria all sought those famed skills, but none ever found the tactician.
Mark - Suspect Mind (Tactician Rank D or Lower)
To this day, historians look back and question how these incomprehensible strategies ever led to victory.
Affinities of Birth MonthsEdit
- January: Light
- February: Ice
- March: Wind
- April: Thunder
- May: Wind
- June: Anima
- July: Fire
- August: Dark
- September: Fire
- October: Anima
- November: Ice
- December: Thunder
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, Lyn suspects that the Tactician and the Avatar might be the same person. This is an allusion to the possibility of Lyn remembering the player from The Blazing Blade. This isn't the only allusion made to the Tactician in Awakening; the Japanese name of Morgan is Marc.