Fire Emblem: Three Houses is finally here! It’s also shaping up to be one of the biggest Switch games of 2019. And when I say “biggest,” I don’t just mean in terms of sales. Although I’m sure it will do just fine. No, I’m talking about how huge and complex this strategy game meets dating sim has become! It’s chock full of new, fascinating, and often under-explained new features that even longtime fans might have trouble understanding. That’s why I’ve put together this list of Fire Emblem: Three Houses tips courtesy of myself and the Fanbyte staff! Let’s dive right in and prepare to recruit some characters…
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Max Out Your Classes – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
This is a very old Fire Emblem feature that remains alive and well in Three Houses. Basically, you always want to max out a given class before switching to a new one. Every time you do, you unlock a unique bonus ability that you can equip to that character. You can equip up to five abilities on each unit at a time, and having as many as possible is key to experimenting with different builds.
The Menus Are a Hot Mess – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
Not sure where to equip these skills? That’s probably because they’re found under “Inventory.” Why are skills classified as Inventory? I have no goddamn idea. This is also the sub-menu where you can switch classes, by the way, so don’t worry if you upgraded your buddy from a normie Noble into a Soldier without maxing them out first. Just “Reclass” them back to their old self, fill out the mastery bar, and switch them back to the more advanced class later — free of charge.
Here are some other hot Fire Emblem: Three Houses tips (at least as far as the menus are concerned). A lot of actual items aren’t found in your inventory. Anything that’s not related to combat goes into the Storehouse. That includes things like gifts and lost items. Meanwhile, if you want to check the support level of someone who’s not in your house (which is key when you’re trying to recruit them) you can. It’s just kind of hidden! Go to the “Support” menu and hit ZR. This will pull up the “Other Houses” tab and show you who is most ready to recruit.
You Want to Farm Certain Battles – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
Fire Emblem: Three Houses does mention that you can play certain fights without expending battle points. Whenever you go to war, just look for the missions without a sword icon next to them. You can run said mission again, and again, and again without consequence — besides losing weapon durability.
What Fire Emblem doesn’t tell you is why you want to do that: It’s the best way to power level yourself. You can have Byleth (the main character) blast through opponents, raising their weapon skills and stats. Doing so will allow you to recruit most characters from other houses. And thanks to an in-game time limit, it’s very important that you work towards scooping up new kids quickly. Anyone you miss before a certain point in the story will join somebody else down the road!
Here’s How Recruitment Actually Works – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
On that note, recruitment in Fire Emblem: Three Houses isn’t as clear as it could be. The game is pretty vague about the mechanics. The short and simple version, however, is that you need Byleth to have one weapon proficiency and one stat high enough to impress each out-of-house student.
Raising your support level with said student — by spending time with them, temporarily bringing them into battle, and giving them items — will relax the requirements. So instead of needing Lance proficiency B to impress Leonie, you might only need rank C. Some units have higher requirements than others, though! Not to mention leaders and their best friends cannot be recruited in this fashion at all.
Explore Everywhere, Pick Up Everything – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
The Monastery in Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a real pigsty. Folks lose their stuff constantly and leave garbage just spread out on the floor. Their loss is your gain, however, as most of these items are incredibly useful. Just look for the sparkling blue icons! Sometimes they’re lost items you can turn in for bonus bonding with allies. Sometimes they’re gifts, fishing bait, or seeds. Other times they just bring you closer to raising your professor level.
That last one is especially important. Raising your professor level increases the budget you receive from the Monastery each month. More than that, though, it increases the maximum number of activities you can do on free days. That means more bonding, more recruitment, and more raising your own stats — which makes battle easier and lets you recruit more.
Go Fishing and Gardening – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
Speaking of raising your professor level, there are a few activities in the Monastery that you can do without expending free time. At the start of the game, these are fishing and gardening. Make sure you do both as soon as possible, as often as possible! These “free” activities provide useful items. In addition, fishing successfully and harvesting your crops will award you with even more professor experience. You can get more bait and seeds from doing side quests and finding them on the ground.
Complete Every Side Quest – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
Let’s talk about side quests, actually. They’re more important than you might think in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Because despite the name, they actually unlock tons of important features. Lost items, teatime, gardening, and more are all tied to side quests. Basically, any time the game has multiple things for you to do during exploration, make sure to complete them immediately. Some things, like teatime, will then trigger automatically on certain days — without depleting any time during exploration. That’s just one more reason it’s good to unlock everything ASAP.
You Can Save Scum Like Lives Depend on It – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
Fire Emblem: Three Houses intentionally tries to trip you up in spots. It will offer multiple choice questions from students who will like you more if you answer correctly. Some of these are even timed, presumably to keep you from consulting guides. That’s why you should save early, save often, and reload until you get the outcome you want! Save scumming is a cherished Fire Emblem tradition and should not be looked down upon. Not to mention the load times in Fire Emblem: Three Houses are pretty snappy. So you really don’t lose much time in the process. What you save, however, is a lot of time otherwise spent farming battles over and over again.
Keep Your Inventory Clean – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
One of my simplest Fire Emblem: Three Houses tips: Tidy up your inventory. This seems to be another unnecessary holdover from older games, but your unit’s bags do accumulate a lot of clutter. Things like Bullion (which you trade in for cash) and Seals (used to unlock classes on characters) have zero value in combat. If you’re ever wondering what to send back to the Convoy, any time your unit inventory gets full, send these items first.
How You Attack Is How You Defend – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, like the many games before it, every unit can hold onto more than one weapon at a time. Extras just go into your inventory. Doing so offers a lot of versatility — like letting a swordsperson whip out a bow to deal that tiny bit of extra damage you need to score a kill. You can swap them on the fly, too, by just selecting your preferred weapon every single time you attack.
Just know that what you attack with is also what you counterattack with! If you pulled out a bow on your last turn, then your unit won’t be able to counter a melee foe (unless they have the Close Counter skill). That gets especially wonky with magic users. You essentially want them to equip nothing at all in order to make them counter with spells, since magic is no longer an item in Three Houses. Given how limited magic is now, though, you might not want them to counter with it. That’s all part of the strategy!
The Rewind Is More Complicated Than It Needs to Be – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
Pretty early on in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, you unlock the ability to rewind time. It’s a really smart feature that acknowledges everybody who plays these games just constantly reloads anyway. Now you don’t have to sit through a loading screen, set up your units again, and go turn-by-turn just because you made one mistake! You just just press a button and return to any previous action.
The problem is that Fire Emblem really lets you go back to any action. You can rewind to midway through an enemy turn and basically waste your Divine Pulse (rewind) charge. And you only get three per battle at first! You don’t need that level of granularity. To play it safe, just rewind to the beginning of your own last turn — or two to three turns back. That’s a good rule of thumb if you’re not just rewinding to the beginning of battle altogether. You don’t want to rewind to the beginning of battle, anyway, because…
Retreating Saves Your Experience Points – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
The retreat function is a huge get out of jail free card. It allows you to end a battle and restart from the beginning. And you get to keep all the experience you gained up to that point. This is great when you’ve used all your Divine Pulse (rewind) charges, but can’t figure out how to save an ally from dying. Players who select “Classic” mode, where death is permanent, should especially keep this in mind. You can retreat from the main battle menu by pressing A on any open tile of land on the battle map.
Buy Up Battalions – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
Battalions (yet another feature unlocked via side quests) are basically bonus equipment. You equip them to your units like a weapon or shield. Except they don’t take up an inventory slot. They also level up over time, provide additional stats, and unique abilities called Gambits. They’re… basically awesome. Although Fire Emblem: Three Houses doesn’t really push you into buying a bunch.
You absolutely should, though. They’re not incredibly cheap, but you can easily get enough to kit out your entire house after the third battle in the game or so. Do so by visiting the Battalion Guild in the Marketplace. I particularly recommend the Seiros Holy Monks battalion. Their Gambit provides an area-of-effect movement buff — basically turning multiple foot soldiers at a time into free mounted units. This is a great support skill to equip on under-leveled units. That way they can gain experience outside of direct combat.
Focus on Motivated Students – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
Early on in Three Houses, you will be asked to Instruct students in various combat arts. The game just doesn’t do a great job of pointing out how this works. Here’s a breakdown! You basically spend 25 “Motivation” from each student to raise any of their skills one time. Every student can have up to 100 motivation at any given lesson, for a max of four tutoring sessions (though there’s a random chance you’ll get a fifth every time you manually Instruct).
Each time you select a student for Instruction, you also spend one teaching point — similar to your action points every time you explore. But students don’t always have 100 percent motivation! You need to raise this through resting, giving gifts and lost items, and all kinds of other methods. Where you focus that attention is up to you. But the short version of this: Start by Instructing your students who have full Motivation. Otherwise you’re just wasting your teaching stamina, because even teaching a student with just 25 motivation still costs one full unit of energy. It’s… complicated on paper, but you’ll figure it out once you get your hands on it.
Keep Your Frenemies Close – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
Students within your house aren’t the only ones you can lead into battle, by the way! Each month, you can select one out-of-faction unit to join you on fights. That’s an extremely smart thing to do. It doesn’t just net you an extra solider in combat. Each time this combatant does anything — no matter where they’re standing on the battlefield — their support level with Byleth increases. Remember how important that is? Increasing your support rank with a unit from outside your house makes them easier to recruit. So make the ones you really like kill for you! You’ll become better friends for it, obviously.
Singing Is Better Than Eating, Tea Is Better Than Flowers – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
Not sure where to spend your time on days off? I recommend focusing on the activities that kill three birds with one stone. Going to Choir Practice, for instance, will raise your affection with two students at once. At the same time, it will increase your Authority stat — which is also useful in combat and for recruiting a few different characters.
The same goes for when birthdays roll around. At first you can only send students flowers on their name day. After a specific side quest, however, you can also hang out and have tea! Doing so gives you the opportunity to rank up their support even more. It also increases your Charm skill. Other than some tea leaves, it’s totally free to do, too! So you might as well take the bonus.
Always Pack a Vulnerary – Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tips
It’s just common knowledge that you should always pack a snack for kids. And in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the Vulnerary is the yummiest juicebox of all. It packs all the nutrients your precious children need to instantly repair gaping ax wounds and remove arrows from their torsos. Vulneraries are also more important than ever since magic (and therefore healers) is harder to abuse in Three Houses. You want every unit to carry a full one of these delicious treats into every battle.