Grand Guilds’ deckbuilding system offers some of the richest and most fulfilling character customization in any SRPG. Here are some things to consider when crafting your own decks.
Tip number 1: Preview every card that a character has. It might sound tedious, but if you want to get the most out of your characters, then you owe it to yourself to preview the full extent of their abilities. This also includes perusing your passive skills. Every character has unique passives, and this can often guide you into making a deckbuilding decision.
For an example, let’s take Kadmus. One ability of his that I love is called “Savior.” This can trigger once per battle and functions as a panic button heal in case your target is at really low health. For me, this meant that I wanted to build him as a healer with support abilities. Thus, for my Kadmus, I went with a lot of cards like Bountiful Tide, Water Refresh, and Pool of Regeneration.
On the other hand, let’s say you really like “Waterfall” or “Siphon.” These are tools which can help make him into a legitimately scary spellcaster. If that’s what you want from Kadmus, then it’s in your best interest to load his deck with offensive cards like Water Nebula or Ice Barrage. Fundamentally, you should be asking yourself this question: “How do I want to play the game? How do I want to use this unit, given the tools that he or she has?”
Tip number 2: Be intentional about AP. In Grand Guilds, ever character has 5 AP per turn. AP lets you move, attack, or use cards. Keep in mind that moving costs 1 AP, while attacking costs 2. This means that if you move, then you will not be able to use a 5 AP card unless you’re getting an AP buff from somewhere else. For this reason, it might be best to be wary of 5 AP cards. They’re very niche and require a lot of setup to use. However, this is not to say that they’re useless. To my knowledge, Rei’s Final Flourish card provides the highest possible single target damage in the entire game. I’ve used it to one-shot many bosses, even dealing upwards from 1,600 damage.
4 AP cards in particular can be awkward as well, because if you use them, you’ll have 1 AP left to spend. 1 AP can be used to move, sure, but if you don’t need to move, then what? For this reason, I’d recommend loading up a few 1 AP cards if your deck has some 4 AP cards. This will give you more flexibility. For Paco, if I’m going to be pulling Rain of Arrows (a 4 AP card) often, then it might be a good idea to have some cards like Master Tracker or Chivalry is Not Dead (1 AP cards).
I noticed that cards with 1, 2, or 3 AP tend to be more flexible, so I wouldn’t worry too much about those, but it is a consideration nonetheless. In other words, it’s probably not best to load up your deck with only 2 AP cards or only 3 AP cards because that’ll land you in some awkward situations too.
Tip number 3: Consider team composition. This encompasses many things. First of all, it means delegating a “role” to everyone. Let’s say I want to make Eliza my tank. Cool, then I probably don’t need another tank like Raze. Or if I do want to use Raze, I can build him more offensively instead of loading him up with tanking skills. Consider a mix of units that’ll cover different situations. You don’t want a team with three tanks, or three damage dealers, or three supports.
Team composition also encompasses status afflictions. In the case of Eliza and Raze, you actually can use these two together. Raze has a few ways of taunting the enemies, so what you can do is use those, and then followup with Eliza’s Heaven’s Blade, which deals more damage to taunted targets. Another example of synergy is between Skyla and Raze. Those two are a fantastic combination because both units have ways to apply burn, and they have ways of dealing additional damage to burned targets. Skyla also can inflict weakness, Bleed, and vulnerable to her enemies, so between the two of them, you can cover every single status effect.
One final aspect of team composition is damage typing. Usually, I try to have a mix between physical and magic damage. This doesn’t always apply for every single battle, but as a general rule, it’s good to have both sources of damage. Some enemies can get a lot of armor, but don’t get any resistance, or vice versa. Having both damage types ensures that you’ll be prepared for any situation.
Tip number 4: Don’t be afraid to play with a skimpy deck. Grand Guilds allows you to use up to 15 cards. But you don’t need to use 15. My favorite example of this principle is Paco. In my opinion, his most powerful deck is comprised of one SINGLE card: Hopeless Romantic. Using this setup, he will be guaranteed to draw it every turn. The reason this is so good is becaue it’s arguably the best buff in the game, providing an ally of choice with +3 AP. This opens the door to so many other possibilities.
Of course, the Paco example is a bit extreme. I’m sure there are other cases where it’s advantageous to not play with a full deck, but I’ll leave it to you to find what they are.
Tip number 5: Ask yourself “how do I want to play the game?” This should sort of go without saying, but it bears mentioning here. I enjoy tier lists and unit ranking discussions, but one thing I don’t like about them is the effect they can have on new players. Because instinctively, a lot of new players will give a quick glance at a tier list and then just use the top tier characters, while ignoring the low tier ones. This is unfortunate because I believe one of the most fulfilling parts of games, SRPGs in particular, is being able to play the game the way you like.
Unless you’re speedrunning or doing a low turn count run, it shouldn’t matter who the best or worst units are. You can clear the game with any combination of them. What should matter is using the characters you have fun with. Grand Guilds is the sort of game which encourages you to play it the way you want to. So if I were to advise for specific builds or specific units, then that, in my mind, would go against the spirit of the game.
Use your favorite units, even if they may not be objectively the most powerful. That’s how I always play games. When I played through Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, my favorite unit to use was Ronan, despite him not being a great unit. When I played through Langrisser 5, my favorite unit was Alfred, whom I was told is actually one of the lesser units in that game. My favorite unit in Banner of the Maid was Phillip, even though he’s pretty bad. For Grand Guilds, and ANY SRPG really, I’d recommend feeling things out yourself and playing what makes YOU happy, tier lists be damned. If your favorite unit turns out to be high tier, then cool, but if not, that’s cool too! One of the beauties of the SRPG genre is flexibility and being able to express yourself in how you play the game.
So all this comes to say: do your own research, explore the cards yourself, and play the game on your own terms. I hope you enjoy the journey!