When it comes to Fire Emblem Engage characters with the thief class, you get Yunaka and Zelkov by default. It might be tempting to go with Yunaka for the whole game! I get it. Her Trained to Kill unique skill is amazing, due to the boost to critical hits. She joins first, and this being a special class means there’s no Advanced version to promote to. She could be well on her way to level 40 by the time he joins your army. However, Zelkov is equally skilled and someone would do themselves a disservice by not giving him a chance on the front lines too.
I mean that literally, by the way. Zelkov is a great unit to essentially use as a “scout” when playing Fire Emblem Engage. A big part of this is due to “Not Quite.” This is his unique skill. Since paraphrasing is a pain, I’ll just go with exactly how the game describes it. “If foe initiates combat, inflicts Hit -10 on that foe during combat.” It’s a great boost to survivability. It also helps that his health tends to end up being higher than Yunaka’s, as well as his defense and dexterity being quite substantial. Engrave his weapon with a good Emblem, like Dawn or Echoes, and hopefully he won’t be hit.
Given he is a thief, you’re also probably going to want to try and raise Zelkov’s critical stat in Fire Emblem Engage. What I’d recommend, and am working toward myself, is getting him No Distractions and Vantage++. The former involves getting him some bow proficiency by pairing him up with the Leif or Lyn Emblem Ring. Take him down the Archer and Sniper paths. Once he hits level 5 as a Sniper, he gets No Distractions. As the game puts it, it “grants Crit +10 during combat with a foe that can’t counter.” It will be very handy when he heads back to his thief class and uses a dagger, which can be a ranged weapon. As for Vantage++, which you inherit from Leif, that takes advantage of and pairs well with Not Quite. Again, quoting the game, “if unit’s HP is 75% or less and foe initiates combat, unit can counter before foe’s first attack.” You’re taking advantage of that hit debuff on the opponent and perhaps wiping them out before they even attack. Alacrity++, a Lyn skill that offers “if unit initiates combat with a Spd advantage of 5 or more, unit’s follow-up (if possible) occurs before foe can counterattack” helps a lot too.
But a lot of what I’ve had to say so far has to do with Zelkov’s usefulness in battle. Which is, to be fair, most important in a game like Fire Emblem Engage. However, he’s also a fantastic character outside of battle. His personality doesn’t match his appearance at all. The game pokes fun at that with Support conversations between other characters. Some of them can be quite hilarious, especially if you get a chance to see him chat with Anna and Jean. There are also some insightful, more mature ones, especially with Yunaka. I also quite enjoyed his romantic route and S-rank conversation with Alear.
In short, don’t let the fact that Yunaka’s around longer and has a great skill dissuade you from also using Zelkov often as your thief in Fire Emblem Engage. He has a lot of potential as a character. You could put together some great builds, especially ones that work well with his unique skill. Not to mention you miss out on some fun Fire Emblem Engage Support conversations if you don’t give him a chance to fight alongside other members in your party.
Fire Emblem Engage is available for the Nintendo Switch.