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Winter Ephraim

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Analysis by lordhelpme
Winter Ephraim - Sparkling Gallantly

5

Obtainable as a 5 only

Hero Stats

Max Avg Total Stats at Lvl 40
174
HP 45
ATK 41
SPD 23
DEF 36
RES 29

Stat Variations

Level 1 Stat Variation
5★
HP ATK SPD DEF RES
Low 20 10 5 9 6
Middle 21 11 6 10 7
High 22 12 7 11 8

Level 40 Stat Variations
5★
HP ATK SPD DEF RES
Low 42 38 20 33 25
Middle 45 41 23 36 29
High 48 45 26 39 32

IV Sets

Key stats worth increasing through nature if possible.
Complementary stats that matter, but not to the point of picking them over key stats for nature increase.
Relatively worthless stat that can safely be decreased through nature.
HPATKSPDDEFRES

Skill Sets

dreaming of lances is perfectly normal… right? (Defensive / Damage Focus)

Build by lordhelpme
Recommended
Festive Siegmund (+Eff) A Atk/Def Unity
Alternate: Sturdy Stance 3
Positional Assist B Wily Fighter 3
Alternate: Crafty Fighter 3
Ignis
Alternate: Bonfire
C A/D Near Save 3
IVs

+ATK / -SPD

SSteady Breath

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Festive Siegmund (+EFF)

Assist: Positional Assist / Flexible

Special: Ignis / Bonfire

Passive A: Atk/Def Unity / Sturdy Stance / Atk/Def Bond 4 / Atk/Def Ideal

Passive B: Wily Fighter / Special Fighter / Slick Fighter / Crafty Fighter

Passive C: A/D Near Save / D/R Near Save / Flexible

Sacred Seal: Steady Breath / Atk/Def Form / Atk/Def Bond / Sturdy Stance

  • Festive Siegmund’s assortment of defensively-tuned strengths — most notably, its Enemy Phase Brave effect — coupled with Ephraim’s Fighter and Savior skill access makes a defensive build by far his most optimal choice. This set emphasizes damage over everything else, as Winter Ephraim has the flexibility of doing so without outright sacrificing his durability thanks to his innate healing. 
  • Winter Ephraim’s Special choice here primarily depends on whether one prefers a higher damage ceiling or more safety. 
    • For damage, Ignis becomes the ideal option as it scales quite nicely with his massive Defense — and through the combination of his Brave effect and accelerated cooldown support, it can be activated in every round of combat to tear through the toughest opponents. This hastened Special rate can from your choice of Special Fighter, Steady Breath Sacred Seal, or ally support (e.g. Brave Lucina, Thorr, etc.).
    • For safety, Bonfire is a surprisingly effective choice and trades out Ignis’s higher damage ceiling in exchange for the ability to break through any Guard effects when provided with the same cooldown support. Whether it’s worth the cost, however, is mostly up to personal preference and how commonly you face Guard.
  • Attack and Defense are the primary stats to enhance with Winter Ephraim’s A skill as they both augment damage; the choice of what to actually equip is down to availability and preference. Atk/Def Unity is especially standout as it bears the highest ceiling of any potential A skill and makes debuffs a non-issue, though his low Speed makes Sturdy Stance 3 quite attractive as well to prevent foes from freely accumulating Special charges. Atk/Def Bond, Ideal, and Solo are workable alternatives as well. 
  • For his B skill, Wily Fighter, Crafty Fighter, and Slick Fighter are all pretty effective as they all provide a guaranteed follow-up attack (which translates to Ephraim attacking a total of four times) while carrying nifty bonus effects — between buff nullification (Wily), Guard (Crafty), and debuff immunity (Slick), use your discretion here to decide what best suits your needs as Ephraim can benefit from all these effects. For those who feel confident in his damage without the need for a follow-up, he can also equip Special Fighter to enable rapid Special activations on his own; this frees up his Sacred Seal slot while broadening his flexibility in support ally options. 
  • Speaking of, beyond Steady Breath, his Sacred Seal slot is best filled by essentially anything that builds his Attack and Defense to greater heights, including skills like Atk/Def Form, Atk/Def Bond, and Sturdy Stance.
  • Winter Ephraim works best with Near Save, as his innate melee range means he can combat such opponents without needing an A skill that enables counterattacks regardless of distance — which in turn offers a greater ceiling by being able to obtain a more variety of bonuses from skills like Atk/Def Unity and Sturdy Stance. He can be equipped with Far Save if desired, but this comes with a marked tradeoff in damage and/or survivability.

he seems like the type to scream-sing along to “Last Christmas” (Defensive / Sustain Focus)

Build by lordhelpme
Festive Siegmund (+Eff) A Close Def 4
Alternate: Sturdy Stance 3
Positional Assist B Crafty Fighter 3
Aether
Alternate: Sol
C D/R Near Save 3
IVs

+ATK or +DEF or +RES / -SPD

SSteady Breath
Alternate: Mystic Boost 3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Festive Siegmund (+Eff) 

Assist: Positional Assist / Flexible

Special: Aether / Sol 

Passive A: Close Def / Sturdy Stance / Bracing Stance / Atk/Def Unity / Atk/Def Bond 4

Passive B: Crafty Fighter / Slick Fighter / Special Fighter 

Passive C: D/R Near Save / A/D Near Save / Flexible

Sacred Seal: Steady Breath / Mystic Boost / Atk/Def Form / Sturdy Stance 

  • Although this build once again places an emphasis on Winter Ephraim’s Enemy Phase performance, it shifts focus from his damage potential and allocates more resources towards maximizing his durability instead. Accordingly, besides a +ATK IV, +DEF or +RES may be considered to further reduce damage received from physical threats and dragons respectively.
  • Aether offers Winter Ephraim the best of both worlds through sizable burst potential accompanied by an ample amount of healing — and, similar to Ignis, it can be activated in each round of combat through the wonder that is his Brave effect and accelerated cooldown. 
    • However, if the goal is to heighten his sustain as much as possible, Sol becomes preferred as it activates on Ephraim’s first hit when provided Breath support, rather than his second like it would with Aether. 
    • This is important because healing Specials do not restore health on damage dealt past a foe’s maximum HP, so having it activate on the first strike means the greatest amount of recovery. 
    • Going this route does place Ephraim at a greater disadvantage against sources of Fatal Smoke, however — especially if using Sol as his Special activations will essentially do nothing — so remain cautious if any foe has it equipped. If this is too undesirable, one can simply equip the Mystic Boost Sacred Seal to gain an effective +14 healing post-combat with Festive Siegmund, which may prove enough sustain to simply equip a standard damage-dealing Special instead.
  • Winter Ephraim retains the majority of the same A skill options as before, though one particular option should receive greater priority in consideration: Close Def. Enhancing his Defense and Resistance by a whopping +8 while further nullifying enemy bonuses when attacked at close range, Close Def 4 expands on Winter Ephraim’s durability  substantially and fits better here where the focus isn’t necessarily purely on damage. 
  • Crafty Fighter and Slick Fighter are once again among the prince’s premier B skill candidates for their guaranteed follow-up effects in the Enemy Phase; however, it should be noted that Ephraim wants a Guard effect included somewhere in his kit more pressingly here, so Crafty should be prioritized if not using a Stance A skill. Alternatively, Special Fighter shines once again for providing both Guard and a Breath effect for greater flexibility in Sacred Seal and ally selection. 
  • Once again, Winter Ephraim performs all the more smoothly and elegantly as a Near Save tank, as being able to utilize an actual A skill lets him reach maximal potential compared to the limitations of using a counter-enabling ability. This is not to say he can’t be used with Far Save — it’s certainly one route for those with the resources and investment available — but simply that there are better units for that than him, and Far Save is scarce enough as it is.

Strengths

Festive Siegmund

Originally a pretty underwhelming weapon geared for offensive play, Festive Siegmund’s unique refinement essentially pulls a full one-eighty through a more defensive lean — and boy is it an improvement. 

  • First and foremost, refined Festive Siegmund now carries a conditional Brave effect during the Enemy Phase, allowing him to counterattack any foe with two consecutive strikes immediately. This is extremely powerful not only due to Winter Ephraim’s obscenely high Attack, but moreover, his ability to combine this effect with the Steady Breath Seal, Special Fighter, or other forms of Special acceleration to guarantee an Ignis activation on his second hit for enough damage to outright kill most threats — or, thanks to the weapon’s Slaying effect, Bonfire could even be used to break through Guard
  • Festive Siegmund interestingly also grants Ephraim a post-combat healing effect similar to Mystic Boost. Combined with the effective +9/+4/+9/+9 stat advantage it provides through its cumulative effects, this weapon excels at enhancing both Ephraim’s longevity without sacrificing his damage ceiling in the least.
  • While this all would honestly be considerably less impressive if the weapon maintained its original Solo requirement (which would make optimization of Save balls a headache), this was thankfully reworked post-refinement — the base effect now remains active against foes above 75% HP and his conditional Brave is in play as long as he stays above 25% HP — and Winter Ephraim can now spread the gift of mercilessly killing opponents right next to his pals.

Armored Benefits

Winter Ephraim’s armored status is another contributor to his sheer excellence, particularly via access to the Savior skills: powerful assets that let him exclusively focus on his preferred enemy-type and assist his allies' matchups. In most cases, this means operating as a Near Save ally to leverage his innate melee range and dominate against one-ranged foes without ever having to worry about ranged magic threats exploiting his lower Resistance and Speed. This coupled with the incredibly powerful Fighter skill line ensures Winter Ephraim always maintains a plethora of assets to exploit for maximized performance.

Well-Optimized Statline

Despite his introduction relatively early into the game’s lifespan, Winter Ephraim’s statline holds up surprisingly well. His base 41 Attack and accompanying four-point Asset in the stat remains one of the best values in the game, making him a consistent source of damage even before his Brave effect becomes active and converting him to an absolute monster when it does. Further, his physical and magical bulk is pretty respectable and lets him remain relatively healthy in the midst of trading blows.

Weaknesses

Armored Drawbacks

While his armored status is absolutely one of the main reasons Ephraim is as good as he is, it also imposes some hindrances through constant weakness to armor-effective damage — the likes of which only continue to become more prominent — and poor mobility options. However, though they are certainly mechanics to consider whenever maneuvering the winter lord around the map, these weaknesses are not exclusive to Ephraim as they apply to the armor class in general, and the movement issue is pretty easily solved nowadays through ally effects like Tana’s Fruit of Iðunn and Ash’s Horn of Opening

Low Speed

The solid values Winter Ephraim features across-the-board come with a harsh impact on his Speed, leaving him with an unimpressive value of 27 to work with once Festive Siegmund becomes active. Although his damage is typically high enough such that being susceptible to follow-up attacks and Null Follow-Up isn’t the biggest deal (as he can pretty easily just defeat his opponent before their second attack), having such low Speed can become an annoying detriment in the face of Windsweep and Dodge-wielders who can subsequently mitigate his actual impact.

Weapon Skills

Weapons SP Rng. Mt.
Steel Lance
Lance Users Only
100 1 8
Silver Lance
Lance Users Only
200 1 11
Festive SiegmundAccelerates Special trigger (cooldown count-1). If unit is not adjacent to an ally, grants Atk/Spd/Def/Res+4 during combat.
Learns by default at 5 ★
Non-Inheritable skill.
400 1 16
Weapon Evolution
Weapon Upgrades
Weapon Upgrades

Special Skills

Special Skills SP Turns
Dragon GazeBoosts Atk by 30%.
Learns by default at 5 ★
Non-inheritable by Staff-wielding units.
100 4
Dragon FangBoosts Atk by 50%.
Unlocks at 5 ★
Non-inheritable by Staff-wielding units.
200 4

Passive Skills

Passive Skills SP Slot
Atk/Def Solo 1If unit is not adjacent to an ally, grants Atk/Def+2 during combat.
Inheritable by all units.
60
A
Atk/Def Solo 2If unit is not adjacent to an ally, grants Atk/Def+4 during combat.
Inheritable by all units.
120
A
Atk/Def Solo 3If unit is not adjacent to an ally, grants Atk/Def+6 during combat.
Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 5 ★
240
A
Bold Fighter 1If unit's HP = 100% and unit initiates combat, grants Special cooldown charge +1 per unit's attack, and unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack. (Does not stack.)
Only inheritable by armor units.
60
B
Bold Fighter 2If unit's HP ≥ 50% and unit initiates combat, grants Special cooldown charge +1 per unit's attack, and unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack. (Does not stack.)
Only inheritable by armor units.
120
B
Bold Fighter 3If unit initiates combat, grants Special cooldown charge +1 per unit's attack, and unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack. (Does not stack.)
Only inheritable by armor units.
Unlocks at 5 ★
240
B
Close Guard 1Allies within 2 spaces gain: "If foe uses sword, lance, axe, or dragonstone, grants Def/Res+2 during combat."
Inheritable by all units.
60
C
Close Guard 2Allies within 2 spaces gain: "If foe uses sword, lance, axe, or dragonstone, grants Def/Res+3 during combat."
Inheritable by all units.
120
C
Close Guard 3Allies within 2 spaces gain: "If foe uses sword, lance, axe, or dragonstone, grants Def/Res+4 during combat."
Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 5 ★
240
C

Other Info

Origin
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

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