At 59:16 hours of game play, I finally did it – I beat Edelgard’s story on hard mode classic in “Fire Emblem Three Houses” a month after the release. It took several tries (11, to be exact) but I managed to make it to the end without losing a single unit; recruits included.
Note: let it be known that Nintendo quoted 80 hours of game play for each story!
Overall, I learned a lot (I definitely should have recruited more while I had the chance.) I didn’t realize how important recruits were until it was too late. If you read a little further below, you’ll see that I ended up with 4 recruits (and it made my life miserable – don’t make the same mistake I did!) The lack of recruits and adjutants ended up making the game significantly harder.
Another very important factor was the use of gambits and authority – these are vitally important for hard mode. I’ve read from a friend of mine that played through on normal mode that they hardly ever used gambits and I was astounded. In several of the last missions (especially when fighting the Lord of Delusion) gambits are 100% essential – I couldn’t do it without them. In fact, the reason I wiped so much on “The Fight for Fhirdiad” mission was because I was running out of gambits to use on The Immaculate One.
Edelgard’s story was revealed early on in the game. She was used as a human experiment (completely against her will) to gain an additional crest, the crest of flames (similar to Byleth’s crest). At first, I thought her idea was foolish, I couldn’t believe this little girl wanted to overthrow The Church of Seiros. But after some questionable dialogue with some of the church members, I fully supported her goal to become the new Emperor.
I chose the Black Eagles because of their set-up. Edelgard is a perfect opportunity to employ the golden child strategy with a sturdy axe-based build right out of the gate. Hubert is one of the strongest mages in the entire game, so his immediate penchant for the reason (offensive magic) stat will help you score some really big hits early on.
Hubert, Lindhart, and Dorothea are also cheap in terms of upkeep, as you don’t need to equip them constantly with weapons that need repairing when their (free, replenishing) spells will do the job. And to be honst, I had no idea what to do with Dorothea for several of the beginning chapters… because I felt like I had so many mages already! Bernadetta is another character to pay close attention to, as she can use bow skills to hit enemies from a distance farther than any party member right away. I’ve won many battles solely due to her dexterity and speed bonuses. I skipped over sniper and changed her to the Pegasus class as soon as I was able to do so.
There’s even a third reason why the Black Eagles are so enticing. Without spoiling anything, the house is arguably the most entwined with the story. It’s a great jumping off point that will provide you with greater context for the overarching narrative. At the end of the story, I felt as though some things weren’t explained very well (Rhea going on and on about another child?) but hopefully in my next play through with The Blue Lions that questioned will be answered – Nintendo has also informed players that DLC will be released at a later date for “Fire Emblem Three Houses”.
My final party
- Moonie – The Enlightened One (mastered w/ Sword Fighting; I needed her heals!) She married Hubert!
- Hubert – Warlock. I wish I had obtained the Dark Seal but I failed to do so. After researching the stats, it wouldn’t have been much different.
- Edelgard – You’re a fool if you switch her off of the Lord class route. Armored Lord was a sight to behold! She married Hanneman???
- Hanneman – Warlock.
- Ferdinand – Great Knight (mastered).
- Bernadetta – Pegasus Knight (mastered). She was learning cavalier and I wasn’t able to advance her to Falcon Knight (I realized what I had to do when it was too late). Married Ferdinand.
- Dorothea – Dancer (mastered). She was a Gremory, but I switched her class for this battle because I needed her dance ability.
- Linhardt – Bishop (mastered). He is the best healer in the game. In the last battle, I couldn’t have done it without him. Petra was down below half health and with his Crest ability he was able to crit-heal her. Thank you, Linhardt!
- Caspar – Brawler and War Master (mastered). Give him a silver gauntlet with War Master’s Strike for much fun! Married Petra.
- Petra – Assassin (mastered). She was terrifying on the battle field. Truly a one man army.
- Manuela – Bishop mastered. Single and alone.
- Lysithea – I was really surprised she joined my team. Amazing Warlock.
- Shamir – Sniper (mastered when recruited) but for this fight she was a Pegasus Knight.
You’ll notice that I had 3 tanks – Edelgard, Ferdinand, and Caspar. I barely count Caspar as a tank; he had really high health but his defense stat was 4 points less than Ferdinand’s (20 and 24). And although Ferdinand’s defense growth stats (don’t let the growth stat’s distract you from the fact that Dedue is 6’8″) are comparable to Edelgard, in my end game he still didn’t have high enough numbers to negate damage like Edelgard did. In fact, I had to be really careful using him, especially right after using the Impregnable Wall battalion ability. Opponents would hit me twice and it hurt.
After seeing these numbers, (holy cow Dimitri has a 60 strength growth!) I plan on doing Blue Lions next – also because I hope this path will reveal more of Rhea’s crazy dialogue that made no sense. I haven’t decided upon normal or hard mode quite yet (I’ll probably do normal mode with the alliance on my 3rd play through?) In hard mode, battles cost battle points and I’d like to level and interact with my team more.
Alas, with all of this in mind, I’d like to comment on the marriage system in “Three Houses” – It’s better than ever! For the Black Eagle house, right before the battle in chapter 17, I went to the graveyard. You recall Jeralt giving you the ring and now you can pick who you want to marry. Whoever you give the ring to will accept. If you cannot give them the ring, you cannot marry them. You will need to have the rank of S support in order for this to work, and the person has to be alive (of course). Apparently, it’s different depending upon which house you choose.
Not only is Hubert the best (dark) mage in the game, he’s also the most complicated personality-wise. Your first support conversation with him involves him stalking you and making death threats in the middle of the night as you walk back to your quarters – not to mention all of the courting scenes between him and Edelgard – I unlocked their maximum support rank and he confessed his love to her! I didn’t give up though and in the end, I’m glad the game allowed me to marry him because despite all of the death threats (to me and everyone else on the team lol poor Ferdinand) his support conversations were especially worth it.
Building on the marriage system in this game – I was surprised to see the lack of children. I’ve played “Fire Emblem” for several years now (since the GameBoy release with Eliwood) and I have to say, Nintendo really outdid themselves this round. Not only did I feel compelled to sit my lovebirds next to each other on the battlefield, I also reveled in the satisfaction of getting them through each fight alive – I felt like I owed it to them (again, contributing to my previous “Fire Emblem” post that talks about my emotional attachment to the characters). I wouldn’t dare leave any of them without a partner!
However, one aspect that truly came as a shock to me is the lack of children from these arrangements, and I think Fire Emblem Awakening did the best job with this. In Awakening, the resulting offspring would inherit skills from their parents. If you’ve played any “Fire Emblem” game at all you can imagine how carefully conducted research could easily result in a killing machine on the battlefield. I used this to my advantage and I made it so that the parents were rendered effectively useless; the children became disgusting killing machines, so much so that I eventually got bored with hard mode classic and ended up having to start the game over. I spent countless hours pouring over research. Gerome, Cherche’s son, is a born Wyvern rider with his mother’s ability to negate bows (remember, flying units are susceptible to bows) and his father (in my case, Virion, which gave Gerome a deadly speed boost). Gerome flew around the map taking out any archers that threatened me. In “Three Houses”, children aren’t an option, and while I adore the support conversations, I wish there was a more strategical impact in regards to deciding S ranks among characters.
Check out my overall “Fire Emblem Three Houses” review here.