How to Play Yggdra Union
Yggdra Union is a turn-based tactical fantasy RPG developed by the Japanese game developer, Sting, which was localized and published by Atlus USA in the Americas. This article is a guide intended to help ease newcomers into Episode II of the Dept. Heaven series: Yggdra Union - We'll Never Fight Alone; this, by extension, also includes the spin-off games: Blaze Union - Story to Reach the Future and Gloria Union - Twin Fates in Blue Ocean, as they use the same basic gameplay structure as the main episode. Although all three titles have an in-game tutorial which introduces the mechanics as the player makes progress, the goal of this guide is to help simplify things for new players who may be having some trouble grasping how some gameplay elements work exactly. Be mindful that this "How to" will for the most part assume that the reader has the Game Boy Advance original of Yggdra Union, as it is the oldest and is likely the version most players will possess.
- A: Confirmation/selection; use of duration-based Skills like Shield Barrier.
- B: Cancellation; use of charge-based Skills like Flame. B also displays the basic stats of the unit the cursor is placed on when held down.
- Directional Pad: Controls menu navigation, movement, and Passive/Aggressive phases of the units.
- Start: Initiates Unions and pauses the game during clashes.
- Select: Displays the full details of a selected unit on the Set Up screen; press and hold B, then Select to see the full details of a highlighted unit while on a Battle Field. Select will also have the weapon affinity of each unit displayed when pressed while playing a map.
- L: Opens the main menu while playing a Battle Field.
- R: Switches between each available unit on the map. R also allows the player to scroll the dialogue at a rapid pace when held down, allowing one to essentially skip event/story scenes.
The gameplay is broken down into three major components: set up, a grid-based overworld, and battle sequences.
After a story event has taken place, the player is immediately taken to the Conditions screen, which tells the player exactly what needs to be done to achieve victory, and how to avoid getting a Game Over.
Afterwards, the player is taken to the actual Set Up interface. First, the player may choose which units they want to bring, though Yggdra and Milanor are always forced in when available. From here, the player can switch to the Equip Screen (<), Morale Screen (>), back to the Conditions Screen (L), view character data with Select, or view Map details with R. Each Battle Field has a limited amount of units that can be selected, though the average is 4 in the early game and 5 in the mid-to-late parts of the game.
On the Equip Screen, the player may choose which available items they want to equip to the character they highlighted. However, items are specific on which units can equip them, and some are exclusive to genders and even one individual. Also, some items cannot be equipped at all, and such items have other purposes.
On the Morale Screen, the player can have the unit they highlighted consume one of the items in their inventory to restore Morale (more on that later). The item is gone forever when used, so do not take the decision lightly. Medallions exist solely to restore morale, so aim to get as many as possible, and consider them before using an equip item.
On the Map Screen, one can examine the details of the map such as Locations, Terrain, Unit placement, and the Formations of the units. Useful for planning ahead and deciding on who to bring.
After all unit slots have been filled, the player is taken to the Card Select screen, where they may choose which cards they want to use. One may return to character selection by pressing Start if adjustments are needed. As with unit selection, the amount of cards allowed is dependent on the map. Once all card slots have been filled, the player is taken to one final confirmation screen before the Battle Field actually begins. Set Up is over once readiness is confirmed with A.
Cards and the Battle Field
Once a Battle Field has begun, the player generally moves first. Cards are the lifeblood of Yggdra Union's gameplay. Enemy factions have a single, preset card that they can use indefinitely. The player, however, must choose one of their selected cards at the start of each turn, and each card may be used only once. Cards have certain key attributes that need to be considered before making a move; they are listed below in order of importance.
- Movement: Each card has a movement value; the maximum is twelve (12), which is seen on Steal. The player may move only as many spaces as the card allows. Be mindful that movement is shared among all allied units, no exceptions. With this limitation, the player is forced to make every step count, and put more thought into who should be moved, when to move them, and where to place them.
- To move, select a unit and send them in the desired direction. Backtracking also reduces the movement value, so pressing B is the only way to cancel. Once A is pressed, the movement is set in stone and cannot be undone.
- Power: Power factors into Morale (see page for greater detail) damage calculation. Each card comes with a default power value. Though enemies have predetermined power values on their cards, the player's cards can be powered up through use via the enemies' Power Up Points. Utilize this system to make your preferred cards stronger.
- Skill: Though skills don't become available until Chapter 2, the skill is the essence of the card, and can tip the scales in the favor of the user when used well. Some skills even have long-term effects.
- Ace: The Ace displays what weapon affinity is required to use the skill of the card. The unit that meets this criteria must then lead the union for the skill to be usable. "Any" cards can be aced by any unit, making them the more accessible ones.
Though Cards are easily the most important aspect in battle, the actual map needs to be considered as well. Terrain should not be ignored, as it can effect combat propitiously or adversely. Lots of terrain provides defense from morale damage, and some units benefit in a particular type of terrain. As suggested, some terrain types are harmful, and should be avoided as much as possible; notably, some terrain hurt certain units more than others (Ex: Undines hate Sand). Click here for the full list of terrain tiles found in Yggdra Union. Warning: some terrain can directly reduce Morale at the start of a turn.
Battle Fields vary in length and difficulty. Stepping on specific tiles can trigger certain events or expand the size of the map. Map size can also change between segments during the Battle Fields that have multiple objectives. A good tip is to bring in cards that have high movement values for BFs that allow a noticeably large amount of cards; you'll be glad you did.
Combat is everything in Yggdra Union. This is where all the action happens, and cards come into play here. This article covers the flow of combat in-depth, but there are a few things that should be pointed out immediately.
Combat starts with a charge attack from an aggressor, followed by a counterattack from the defender, then the two units will battle it out. During this time, the player can alter the aggressiveness of the unit under their control, or use Skills. The character (like Elena, for example) serves as the avatar of a unit, and is the "head" of the unit; the head does not actually take any damage until all of their men have fallen. Whichever side has all their soldiers defeated first will lose the battle.
Aggression is controlled by the Directional pad; left for Passive, right for Aggressive. These increase or decrease the damage output of the unit, but more importantly, it affects the Gauge at the top of the screen. In order for a skill to be used, the Gauge must be 100% filled. Most skills require charging, but those that last a certain amount of time will be used instantly. Units in Aggressive mode will channel their element (if the class has one) through their attacks, causing elemental damage; this only really matters though if the enemy is affected at all by the element.
Enemies have a Rage Meter, which fills up at a gradual pace during battle. Unlike the player, the enemy has no control over it, for better and for worse. Once it fills to the Rage tier, the enemy will enter their Aggressive mode. Afterwards, their is a MAX tier, from which the gauge cannot increase any further. In MAX, the enemy can activate their skill instantly (without needing to charge), and their attack power is at its heaviest. MAX also nullifies the unit's element.
The classes of the Union series are gender-specific, and each class has one of two possible Union formations: + (female) and X (male). Line up your units in accordance to the formations to create proper Unions. Some classes such as Skeleton and Golem cannot Unionize at all unless they are within line.
This section will go over what the stats of the Union series do and their importance to the gameplay. As with most RPGs, the stats are an integral part of the game, and having a full understanding on their functions will change the way you play for the better.
- Leadership (GEN): This is among the first stats new players will see when playing for the first time; Leadership acts as a defensive stat, reducing damage from Card Skills, charges, and even morale.
- Attack (ATK): ATK affects how much damage the unit does during the fighting in a clash. The difference in power becomes more apparent the larger the difference is between the two units. Also note that the soldiers, including the head, all have their own HP; this is hidden from the player entirely in YU, but was made bare in Blaze Union and Gloria Union for the head only.
- Technique (TEC): TEC affects how well the unit uses skills, and how badly they can trounce the enemy in a charge attack. It is countered by the GEN stat.
- Luck (LUK): LUK is the strangest of the stats. LUK affects whether or not a unit (typically the boss/sub bosses) will drop its held item when eliminated. The LUK of the "finisher" must be equal to or greater than that of the enemy for this to succeed. LUK also increases the likelihood of Critical Hits, and also reduces the chances of the unit being on the receiving end of one.
- Morale: Morale is the "health" of the unit. If it hits 0, the unit is expelled from the map.
- Reputation (REP): Player only. Does not affect combat, but will increase by one (1) each time a unit emerges victorious from a clash; six (6) is the maximum. It resets to zero (0) if the unit loses once, though. REP is needed only to acquire more elusive items...
- Power Up Points: Enemy only. Used to increase the Power of the player's cards. The amount is relative to how many Pow Up pts the enemy has. Bosses have much more than generic soldiers.
How the Large/Small Stars Work
Throughout the Union series, the value of the stats is represented by Stars. However, all newcomers will notice that there are two kinds: Large, and Small. Here, how these two varieties work will be explained.
- Large Stars: Large Stars are the actual value of the stat. Simple as that. (See the picture for an example).
- Small Stars: Simply put, Small Stars do almost nothing, as they do not actually affect the stat's value at all. However, whenever a character levels up, they may gain a few of them in certain stats (depending on their class). Each time the tiny stars reach the maximum capacity for that stat, it increases the stat by one (1) Large Star. Therefor, if Yggdra levels up and gains TEC, her TEC will rise from 1 to 2 instantly. Beyond that, there are equippable items that can also increase the amount of stars in a stat of the wearer. The Gungnir, for example, will add +6 GEN, +4 ATK, and +4 LUK. Nietzsche, as a result, will quite likely have those stats raised to the next level until Gungnir expires. When an equip item is used up, it disappears and its benefits go with it.
There are consumables (such as Goat Milk) that can grant a permanent buff to its assigned stat. In YU the stat will instantly rise to its next level (adds one large star); there will be no leftover small stars when this is done. In BU, such items simply grant two permanent small stars instead, decreasing the overall potency of their effects. Consumables will vanish when the holder makes a move.
The focus of this segment is the various items found throughout the Union games. Items are mostly found during Battle Fields; many recruitable characters also come with "default" equipment, which is sometimes represented in their official artwork/sprites. These items can be found on specific tiles, have unique methods, require trading, or even require a specific amount of REP points. The items aren't actually categorized in-game, but there are three main "categories" that they tend to fall into: Equipment, Food (Consumables), and Trade. Each will be explained in greater detail below.
This is the most common type of item found in the game. These items have numerous benefits (and even handicaps) which include stat modifiers and additional abilities. Among these items are the Silver Moon, Silk Corset, Paladin Lance, and Elfin Bow.
This item type was also covered in the Stats Segment. These items are to be equipped on the desired character, and will be used when the holder lands on any tile. When this happens, the one who devoured the item will receive its benefits, which is a permanent stat modification. In YU GBA and PSP, these items will immediately shoot the stat to the next level, though in the more recent releases, they merely add two extra Small Stars to the stat in question.
There are some rarer items like the Sprouting Protato that actually change the stats negatively. Sprouting Protato, for example, has the opposite effect as is counterpart, Protato. As such, it is never a good idea to equip these on a unit.
There are quite a few items that can be traded for more useful ones. Many of these items can actually be used/equipped by a unit as they are. However, some trade items cannot be equipped and/or have no real benefits, and are thus meant specifically for trading. An example of an item that can be equipped OR traded is Yumina's Diary, which prevents Zero Reset, but can also be exchanged for the Marchen Wings. There are trade-chains (items that trigger a string of exchanges to achieve a very good item) and some items require a collection of similar ones.
Throughout the game, there are special items that, at first, appear to have no use. Such items (like the Mirror of Truth) actually will unlock bonuses in the Extra Contents, which is acquired upon completely clearing the game with any ending.
- If a Union has not yet been initiated, do not use more movement than necessary. Remaining movement can be used to get your units out of formation in preparation for the enemy's turn. It is a good defensive tactic to control damage and will prove very helpful long-term, particularly in YU's GBA and Hard modes. The AI uses this tactic as well, though more so with the intent of stalling, rather than preservation.
- A good tip is to bring in cards that have high movement values for BFs that allow a noticeably large amount of cards; you'll be glad you did.
- The enemy AI is smart and is programmed to do everything in its power to make sure the player sees the Game Over screen. The AI WILL stall as much as they are allowed to. It is the player's responsibility to ensure that they achieve the goals before they deplete all of their cards.
- Use stat boosting items such as Powershroom only on characters that need it most.
- It is also a good idea to use them on those who will take a while to level up the respective stat due to the number of small stars being low.