Last week, Fire Emblem Cipher released its 5th series in Japan. Titled Overcoming Rivalry, this addition to the Cipher card game introduced characters from Binding Blade and Radiant Dawn as well as a profusion of changes. Now that the set is formally out, we can finally dive into its full contents and see what we have in store…
As usual, the Series 5 booster boxes come with a few tempting gifts in addition to the booster packs themselves. These include preview promos for Series 6, featuring either Sigurd from Genealogy of the Holy War or Xander from Fire Emblem Fates, plus small packs of card sleeves depicting the box art of the featured S5 games.
To celebrate Cipher’s 1st year anniversary, each booster box also contains one of two additional promotional cards as well. These cards are reprints of previous promotional cards featuring Marth and Chrom, with slightly different numbers and an anniversary stamp in the top-right corner.
Now onto the cards themselves! The GBA era of Fire Emblem makes its first appearance in Cipher with the inclusion of characters from Binding Blade. Roy is naturally the star, with his dear friend Lilina also getting a top billed spot at the beginning of the set. The two get full Lord treatment with N, HN, and SR cards.
Both Roy and Lilina were also gifted with SR+ cards, which introduces us to the most notable change to Cipher in this 5th series: alternate card arts. Every SR+ and R+ card in the set features a unique artwork that is different from the art used on the regular version of the card.
Those lucky enough to pull Roy’s SR+ card will discover a special gold foil signature. Although there was no voice acting in Binding Blade itself, the card is signed by Jun Fukuyama who voiced Roy in the Super Smash Bros. series of games.
Many of the other Binding Blade cards feature characters that are well-known to be popular in Japan. It’s notable that 5 of the 6 SR slots allotted to Binding Blade were given to characters in the top ten list of the Japanese Binding Blade popularity poll.
The 6th SR slot was given to villain Narcian, who scored 18th on the poll, very high for a villain, and who appears to have gained popularity as an entertaining and over-the-top villain, as seen in his two card artworks.
The signature on the SR+ version of the card is from Koutarou Yamada, the card’s artist as well as the artist of the Hasha no Tsurugi manga, a Fire Emblem side-story that eventually dovetails into the events of Binding Blade.
Like other Cipher sets, most of the other Binding Blade cards are devoted to characters that join fairly early on in the game, or character that are otherwise important to the plot, such as in the case of the Etrurian Generals and Fa.
Another welcome return to Cipher is the appearance of a triple artwork featuring a trio of Pegasus Knights, in this case Shanna, Tate, and Juno. All three characters also get R+ alternate art cards for a second extra-long piece of art.
The other game featured in the set is Radiant Dawn. Since Path of Radiance already got its own set back in S3, this series focuses more on the new characters, such as the characters that join the Dawn Brigade in part one.
Micaiah is the main Lord right at the beginning of the set, followed closely by Sothe. The two have paired artworks for both their SR and SR+ cards, the latter featuring gold signatures of the character’s voice actors.
The set also gives some love to characters who appeared in Path of Radiance but were absent from S3, such as Elincia’s retainers Geoffrey, Lucia, and Bastian, with Geoffrey even snagging his own SR slot.
The Radiant Dawn portion of Series 5 rounds off with some other plot important characters, such as Sanaki and Kurthnaga, and a reprisal of some of the most popular characters from the Greil Mercenaries, including Ike, Mia, and Soren.
In addition to the canon characters, we once again get some more cards of the Cipher original characters. However, this time around we have a fourth addition to the group: Lando, a gambling man who makes his first appearance as a Cavalier at the end of the Elibe block.
The practice of including a “secret” card in the set seems to be continuing from S4. Shortly before release, images and rumours surrounding a B07-002R+X card of Eliwood from Blazing Sword began circulating online…
The card appears to be another secret like the HNX Tiki, but somewhat more difficult to find as it is an R+ rather than an HN. The B07 likely references the fact that Blazing Sword will be fully featured in the upcoming Series 7 this December. In fact, the art of the card itself was shown in the Spring 2016 livestream as a part of S7 discussions.
One final thing of note regarding the S5 booster series is that booster pack/box pull rates have changed. S5 packs now contain 6 N cards and 3 HN cards, as opposed to the previous split of 7 Ns and 2 HNs. This means that HN cards will not be quite as rare.
Furthermore, R/SR/+ slots for booster boxes have changed around a bit. Instead of SR+/R+ cards filling a spot of their corresponding normal rarity, they instead have a slot of their own for a full booster box ratio of 4 SRs, 15 Rs, and 1 SR+/R+. So if you pull an SR+ card in a box, you will still get 4 normal SRs, for example.
Just like earlier sets, a Structured Deck was released alongside the main booster series. Entitled Binding Rebellion, the deck features Roy and early-joining soldiers of the Lycian Alliance Army. Roy, Lilina, Marcus, Shanna, and Rutger all receive deck exclusive foil cards, and Sue also gets a foil version of her promoted card.
Some new merchandise is accompanying S5 as well. Four new sleeve designs were released on the same day as the set release, featuring an assortment of art from the series. The Guidebook for S5 will also be released next month, containing information and a card compendium.
Moving on, there are a wide variety of promo cards that have been announced for the set–and some are already available. As discussed earlier, the first two promos were both given away in S5 booster boxes to preview the next set. They feature Sigurd and Xander who will be the main Lords in the upcoming Series 6.
The next batch of promos consists of Tournament Promo Cards. Each player who participates in an official Cipher tournament receives one pack that contains two of the following cards chosen randomly, and winners receive an extra pack.
P05-003PR Merlinus and P05-004PR Ilyana are new cards, whereas P05-005PR Tormod, P05-006PR Lilina, P05-007PR Micaiah, and P05-008PR Sophia are alternate art reprints of cards from Series 5. Since these cards are only available to tournament participants, they cannot be bought from regular online retailers, but are often resold on Japanese auction sites.
Unfortunately for collectors, P05-009PR and P05-010PR are going to be rather difficult and expensive to obtain. Featuring a dual-card art of both Male and Female Corrin, these two promo cards are only available as a bundle with the Fates edition New 3DS LL.
There are also some event promos up for grabs at the currently-ongoing Cipher Caravan events in Japan. Felicia (P05-011PR) and Flora (P05-012PR) cards are being given away to all visitors at the end of each event.
The last batch of S5 promos are all included in publications. Roy (P05-013PR) was released earlier this month in Dengeki Nintendo, as was Lilina (P05-014PR) in Nintendo Dream. The S5 Guidebook coming out next month will include Micaiah (P05-015PR), the last known promo for S5.
A complete list of all Series 5 cards and translations of their effects can be found on the Booster Set 4 page of the official Serenes Forest Wiki. General information about Fire Emblem Cipher, including links and information on obtaining cards, can be found in my Newcomer’s Guide.
If you’re interested in discussing Cipher with other fans, come visit the Fire Emblem TCG section of the forums! You’re welcome to ask questions, post your pulls, trade cards, or arrange for online matches.
Much thanks to SF forum user Mallow for allowing me to use her photograph of the secret Eliwood card for this article!