Medieval France! The Arthurian legends! 2004 Japan on fire! Ever since you and Mash wound up in 2004 Japan after the Singularity threw both of you across time and space, everything has been weird, and almost everyone and everything has been trying to kill you.
After the debacle in Fuyuki, you wind up in Medieval France, but a whole lot of things ain’t right. King Arthur’s a lady, France is infested with zombies, Jeanne d’Arc meets Marie Antoinette even though Marie doesn’t appear until much much later in history, Marie herself still has her head, and that’s just France! What next?
You and Mash end up in America and George Washington shakes hands with General MacArthur as the USS Enterprise’s F6F Hellcats and F-4 Phantoms bombard North Vietnamese troops in 1991 Baghdad? At least Oda Nobunaga’s still using guns, so that’s familiar to your history lessons!
Thankfully, while most of this historical fantasy sink is trying to kill you, some of them are trying to help you instead. You and Mash will need all the help you can get navigating this historian’s nightmare as you search for the Holy Grails. Welcome to Fate: Grand Order!
Welcome to our Fate: Grand Order beginner’s guide! Fate: Grand Order is a gacha turn-based RPG with a story more detailed than what our writer makes it out to be. The artworks are very competently done, and while the game is very very easy for newbies, it’s only because the game throws a crutch for you with Support characters, allowing you to borrow hilariously over-leveled characters from other players as early as the beginning of the game.
As soon as you meet something that puts up even a moderately decent fight against them though, you’ll very suddenly need to think hard and fight smart. That’s what we’re here to help you with, as the game has quite a few mechanics that aren’t apparent on first viewing, especially if you just breeze through the early story levels with a Support babysitting the rest of your team.
This is absolutely not helped by the beautiful but cluttered UI that prioritizes artsiness over clarity if you’re playing on a rather small smartphone rather than a big fat tablet. Here we go.
Early on with the boatload of AP, you start with, you’ll mostly be in the field grinding out the story missions until you hit a wall, and even then that might take a while thanks to the various bones the game throws at newbies. That being said, things will go more smoothly if you keep in mind some of the things you can do outside of fighting.
Regular Friend Point Summons
The easiest way to get summons is to simply play the game, for one reason: Friend Points! Friend Points don’t even require you to have actual friends, whether you call that sad or good depends on your taste.
Instead, you can get Friend Points by deploying Support cards from other players, no friend list required. Support Cards are simply another player’s character taking up the third slot of your party. As a newbie, this lets you plow through earlygame content easily since they’re often far more overpowered than your team of baby rookie nuggets, but you really want them for the free summons.
Do note that the drop rates are a bit less good compared to normal Summons since you’re getting Friend Points by the absolute bucketload just by playing normally.
Save Your Saint Quartz
You may want to get a couple of 11-rolls at the start of your long game to get a team, but after that, you’d do well to save your Saint Quartz currency. That’s because the Story Gacha changes depending on how far you are into the game, adding new characters once you make progress.
There’s also the appearance of Events, which often come with Banners that increase the drop rate of certain old characters or even add new characters, or special versions of old characters that work differently. If you finally unlock a character you’ve been gunning for on the Gacha or if there’s an event, that would be the time to spend your Saint Quartz.
Mana Prisms, Pure Prisms, and Rare Prisms can be acquired through selling Servant cards of differing star levels. The higher the star level, the better the Prisms it can give. These Prisms can be used to buy stuff from the three respective Prism stores in the Shop tab, and also the Dress Making shop.
The Mana Prism shop sells Code Openers, Hero Crystals, Summon Tickets, and various materials needed for Command Codes. Pure Prisms can be exchanged for Skill Up and Ascension materials, needed to get characters past certain leveling thresholds. Rare Prisms can be exchanged for certain Event materials, a whole boatload of Friend Points, high-tier Hero Crystals, and other various items.
Full Team Vs High Tier Cards? The Team Point Limit
Each team has a limited allotment of deployment points, with both Servant Cards and Craft Essence Cards taking up space. The higher a card’s rarity, the more space it eats up, and having a full rack of Gold rarity units is impossible. This gives you several options: Do you deploy a bunch of low-star Servants all armed to the teeth with your best Craft Essences? Two 4-star Servants and 3 lower-star Servants with a limited number or quality of Craft Essences?
A crack squad consisting of a 5-star servant and a pair of 4-stars plus the Support Card all armed with high-cost Craft Essences? It depends on what you have at hand at first, and the situation once you start rolling and have enough resources for multiple leveled teams.
POWERING UP CARDS
As a gacha game, Fate Grand Order has an emphasis on powering up your characters, even more so than your usual gacha title thanks to the various mechanics in its turn-based combat. While the gameplay itself looks simple, it can get pretty good at zapping your neurons later on during tougher fights, and keeping your cards fed is a necessity for victory once Support Heroes finally stop carrying you.
Servant Enhancement, Leveling Up, and Fou Cards
The simplest way to make a Heroic Spirit card stronger is by leveling it up, giving it both spare unused cards and cards specifically made as level fodder. You shove the fodder cards into the Heroic Spirit card, and bam! Their level goes up.
Your main source for fodder cards is the Friendship Gacha: You don’t even need actual friends to rack up points for the Friend gacha, you just need to play the game and fill the third slot on your team with other players’ Support Heroic Spirit cards.
This has the wonderful side effect of making your early missions much easier, as most Support Cards will be of a far higher level than your team. Though it might also make the earlygame a bit more dull than you’d want, as someone else’s character starts rolling all over your enemies. Fou Cards give out weak EXP but provide a stat buff instead if you put enough of them for a certain stat, making them very useful.
Ascension and Palingenesis
So all those Support cards you’ve been borrowing are around level 150, and you want to have units just like theirs! So you shove a card full of food and… It only goes up to 40? What gives? Turns out, you need to Ascend that card. Ascending a Card raises its maximum level by 10 and gives it some stat boosts on top of that.
The higher the star level of a card, the higher its initial max level, but even 5-star cards only go up to 50 before ascensions. Unlike many gacha games that ask you for duplicates to ascend a character, hero, or card, Fate Grand Order asks for specific Ascension materials depending on a character’s class.
More and better materials are required for higher Ascensions, so this is a long-term goal throughout your gameplay to get at least 2-5 cards maxed out. 2 frontline cards, and 3 backline cards, since that makes up a full party. Palingenesis can raise a card’s max level further past what Ascension can, but Ascension must come first. You need Holy Grails to let characters undergo Palingenesis.
Skills can be leveled individually for each character. Each character can come with up to 3 skills, and leveling them up is usually a big boon. To level a Skill up, you use the appropriate Gem for a class. Say if you want to level up a Rider class character’s skill, you use a set of Gems of Rider. Holding down a skill will not only tell you its effects, but also which of its specific effects are boosted by the higher level. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t always say HOW much the effect is boosted!
Essentially secondary cards you use as equipment for characters, Craft Essences provide both stat bonuses and special abilities during battle. All of them provide a general bonus to stats, but differ in the special buffs: These can range from starting with a half-full NP bar for the character using it to increasing the effectiveness of certain Command Cards, and even increasing the drop rate of Event Items for certain Events. Most Craft Essences have one skill, but some Event-based ones have an Event-specific skill on top of their main combat skill to encourage their use during their respective Event periods.
Make sure you know what kind of Noble Phantasm cards your party has, and equip the appropriate Craft Essence to make those cards more effective: While you cannot predict what color of basic Command Cards any character gets during a fight, their NP Cards are always the same color depending on the character using them. Picking the right Craft Essence and choosing the appropriate Command Cards during battle to mesh well with said card will get you victories.
Unlocking Command Codes, and Command Card Power
While all characters can give you Cards of each of the 3 colors, individual characters are more likely to give you certain cards and are never balanced in all 3 colors. You can see this if you inspect a Character card: You will notice 5 little card icons under the main picture, each in Green, Red, or Blue.
This tells you how many of each card from that character can appear in a hand, most noticeable when your team is down to one member or if you deploy that character to battle alone. Each card has a slot for upgrades that you have to unlock using Command Code Keys, and once unlocked, you can install buffs into them that activate when one of the cards is used.
BASICS OF COMBAT
The combat in the game is turn-based, requiring tactical use of a hand of cards given to you. Early on, it’s hard to get a grasp of the tactics needed to win as the game throws a big crutch for newbies in the form of Support Cards and with your one Special Ascension, allowing you to instantly raise a single Servant card to level 70 for free.
The “This game is so easy, I’ll just roll over them using this borrowed character!” period only lasts so long, and eventually, you will run into battles that need proper tactical thinking and at least a decent team build to beat, even with Support Cards.
Three Of The Same For A Chain
Matching 3 cards together, whether by color or by character, gives them some extra special effects. A Brave Chain consists of 3 cards from the same character, allowing that character to throw out a 4th attack at the enemy.
Matching 3 cards of the same color garners a different effect depending on the color you picked: Green QUICK attack cards give you 10 Critical Stars on top of whatever the QUICK attacks drop, which then increases the crit chance for your next hand of cards.
Blue ARTS attack cards raise the user’s NP, getting you closer to using one of their Noble Phantasm cards, essentially a super attack. Red BUSTER attack cards straight-up raise the ATK of your team for that turn and hit harder on their own already.
Ultimate Cards also count toward any chain, so you can match them by their specific color or character and you still get the appropriate Chain’s effects. The absolute jackpot is getting 3 Green QUICK cards from the same character, especially if it’s the killing shot before the final wave or during a boss battle to maximize crits.
Only Noble Phantasm Cards Can Be Saved In A Hand
After attacking, your entire hand is thrown away and replaced by a totally new hand. This means you should always go for the strongest potential attack you can throw out immediately, rather than holding on to say, 2 Buster Cards hoping for a third on the next turn. Those Buster Cards get tossed out too! The only cards you can save are Noble Phantasm cards since they rely on a character’s NP gauge to appear.
Noble Phantasm Cards Come In Only One Color
A character’s specific Noble Phantasm card can only appear in a single specific color depending on the character, such as [Wonderland] always having hers pop out in Blue. This means they also count toward Color and Brave chains and make them more predictable too: they’re the only types of cards not reliant on random generation to appear in your hand, instead popping out when their respective character’s NP Gauge is full. If your team consists of units that all have similarly colored Noble Phantasm cards, it might be a good idea to build them for NP gains so you can rapidly dump a triple Phantasm color combo on your opponent, and laugh heartily at the result.
Every day, you are allowed 1 Command Point to be used in battle, accumulating to a maximum of 3 if you don’t use them too fast. These are used for Command Spells, which can help you win battles by giving a teammate an emergency boost or reviving your team for free once a day, but never both, since the team revive costs 3 Command Points while the other skills cost 1.
You can either revive the entire team, heal one teammate to full for 1 point, or max out a member’s NP for 1 point. As emergency powers, they are meant to be used for precisely that: Emergencies!
Master Skills are buffs you can give your team, which come with a multiple-turn cooldown. Unlike Command Spells, these are refreshed every battle, and can even be used multiple times in a single fight if it lasts long enough. Master Skills include buffing a character’s damage, giving them an emergency evasion for the next attack, and a healing skill to prop them up after a rough round.
While you can ignore these in earlier battles since Support characters will pretty much carry you through early story missions, the second you get into a real fight you’ll wind up learning how to use these skills the hard way! Use these skills with care as while their buffs are powerful, they typically only last a single turn while having very long cooldowns.
There are several character classes in the game, and it works in a rock-paper-scissors mechanic to determine who kills who the hardest. You have Riders, Lancers, Archers, Casters, Shielders, Assassins, and Sabers as basic classes, and then you have Berserkers, Foreigners, Alter Egos, Pretenders, Rulers, Moon Cancers and Avengers as the more complicated classes.
The Shielders are the most basic: They neither have resistances nor attack effectiveness, so they don’t hit anyone else hard and nobody hits them hard back, and they tend to be very bulky stat-wise. Sabers beat Lancers, Lancers beat Archers, and Archers beat Sabers. Riders trample Casters, Casters torch Assassins and Assassins backstab Riders.
All those classes are weak against Rulers, Moon Cancers, and Avengers, who are effective against each other in that order. Berserkers are the opposite of Shielders in that they do extreme damage to everyone and take extreme damage right back… except against Foreigners, who resist Berserker attacks.
Pretenders beat Alter Egos beat Foreigners which beat Pretenders, and Alter Egos work poorly against Sabers, Archers, and Lancers but beat Assassins, Riders, and Casters, and Pretenders have it backwards from all that. Confused yet? Good! Even the devs writing the list down knew this was such a headache to memorize that they simply put a big RESIST or EFFECTIVE symbol on cards during battle to show you if they will work poorly or well against the target in front of them!
One thing you might not have noticed early in the game as your team’s Support character steamrolled everything in front of them is the fact your team has Skills. You can check them out on their Status displays, and they’ll appear as buttons in the pre-card selection phase of the battle.
While these don’t matter during early fights, they’ll matter a whole ton as soon as the enemy is strong enough to put real dents into Support characters, since that also means they’ll put even bigger dents into your own units.
Most of these come in the form of either team or self-buffs and can range from healing spells, emergency evasion, and debuff cleaning to attack boosts, card-specific boosts, and debuff tossing. Almost none of these are actual direct attacks, since that’s what the Card phase is for. After a Skill is used, it has a cooldown, though they’re noticeably shorter compared to Master Skills.
If the above are the basics, here are some things you can do with those basics, along with some hard-to-notice mechanics. As a turn-based game, fighting smart can get you a long way in this game, and you’ll need it once the fights start getting real later on.
Overkill Brave Chains For Crits
If you notice, sometimes an enemy doesn’t die even after you hammer them way, way past 0 HP, and sometimes they keel over from just one blow, making Brave Chains ineffective for killing multiple weak targets, but useful for racking up Crit Stars or NP. This is because of the Overkill mechanic: An enemy cannot die unless an attack ends with characters tagging out, or until the whole attack phase ends if it’s all done by one character, and an enemy with 0 HP drops more Crit Stars and NP than normal.
This lets you rack up tons of Critical Stars or NP from a single target as long as you start your Brave Chain with at least 1 QUICK card or ARTS Card. This means you can pick between getting multiple kills vs multiple weak opponents in one turn by choosing Color chains of differing characters or racking up Critical Stars or NP by telling a single character to go ham, then throwing those crits or a Noble Phantasm attack at the next opponent who might be stronger than the one you just bullied to death.
Early on it may be better to simply go for Color chains rather than Brave Chains because of this, though that may reverse later on once enemies strong enough to need crits and Noble Phantasm attacks to the face start appearing.
You can also break up attacks with just two characters by putting the odd one out in the middle of the attack chain. The absolute jackpot for Crit Stars is to get a Brave Chain consisting of 3 QUICK Cards from the same character. You can rack up to 50+ stars in one strike that way.
If you use a QUICK Noble Phantasm for this, make sure that A, it doesn’t kill the target, and B, it’s used at the very start of the chain, since Noble Phantasms can kill targets even if it comes from the same character as the rest of the chain.
Multiple Character Buster Attacks For Crowds
On the other hand, if you have a crowd of relatively squishy but hard-hitting foes to deal with, having multiple characters strike with BUSTER Cards might be a better idea assuming those cards are available. Starting with at least 1 BUSTER Card and following up with multiple characters means they will move to the next target once the initial target dies, rather than hammering an already drained opponent.
Now if you make a full BUSTER Chain with all three of your current deployed team members, even better! Of course, this only applies to crowds: If you only have one tough target and you have the choice between a multi-character Buster Chain or a Brave Buster Chain, stick with the latter to crack the target open.
Use Command Spells Only When You Get Stuck
Command Spells are powerful but take forever to recharge: One point charges in one day, and you need 3 for the total team revive spell. You can use the full heal for 1 point, but it’s usually better to save for the full team revive.
This means you only pull it out once everything has gone completely down the toilet, but a win can still be snatched from the jaws of defeat. Say, you get utterly party wiped but the boss is almost dead, and the reward for the battle is something very rare or powerful like event materials or stuff for high-tier Servant Ascensions.
Last Card Bonus
In any card selection, the last card you deploy will have the strongest QUICK, BUSTER, or ARTS effect. This is a good reason to know your characters, as this lets you make decisions based not just on the situation but also on their strengths if you ever get a chainless, mixed hand. If you have a hard-hitting character with high ATK and you have their BUSTER card, use that card last so they get the most out of that ATK boost.
If you need someone to get their NP up pronto to prepare a Noble Phantasm hopefully on the next turn, have that character deploy their ARTS Card last if it’s available. As for QUICK cards, they only really become truly effective if chained anyway, or if used first. Speaking of using cards first…
First Card Bonus
While the last card deployed gives out a stronger bonus for that one specific card, the first card you pick will instead give out its weaker effect to all the cards you deploy. For example, an ARTS BUSTER BUSTER deployment will allow the two BUSTER cards you deployed to gather NP too!
This is especially effective with QUICK cards during Overkill strikes since even just a first deployment QUICK card can let Brave Chains rack up Crit Stars like crazy when doing Overkill damage. This is also quite good with ARTS Cards since a single ARTS Card going in first can let you gather NP while the stronger BUSTER Cards do damage.
As for BUSTER cards, it’s mostly good to deploy these first if you accidentally run into an enemy team some of your units are weak against, as this shores up their inevitably lacking damage and can hopefully bump that hurt up to acceptable levels.
And this ends our Fate: Grand Order beginner’s guide. We hope this helps, and if you have your own tips, don’t hesitate to share them in the comment section below!