Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Essential Tips And Advice
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a really dense game with a lot going on, even when compared to the rest of the series. You need to manage life-or-death tactical turn-based battles as well as the relationships you have with your students, and both those things are even more complex and interconnected than you think. Three Houses does a pretty good job of laying out all this information with its tutorial guides, but sometimes that knowledge gets away from you, especially when you've got so much to worry about.
In this spoiler-free guide, we've compiled some of the most important things to remember while playing Three Houses. There are some essential basics, some things we learned later on that we wish we knew when we started, and there are lists of all the thresholds and conditions required to recruit new students and successfully level them up to become advanced units.
- How To Soft Reset
- How To Recruit Students
- How To Recruit Professors And Monastery Staff
- What Skills Should I Focus On?
- Are There Gender-Specific Classes?
- Faculty Training Is Important
- Lost Items: The Only Thing You Need To Know
- PSA: Remember To Manage Your Abilities and Combat Arts Regularly
- How To Effectively Take Out Monsters
- Always Use ZR: Dangerous Tiles And Enemy Targeting
- Sharing Meals: How To Be Smart About It
- Fishing: There's More To It Than You Think
- Always Be Gardening
- Use Your Gifts Wisely (And Give Them Generously)
- What Do Amiibo Do?
- Paralogue Battles: Do Not Skip Them
- List Of Class Upgrade Requirements
- What Do Dark Seals Do?
- Don't Throw Away Rusted Weapons
- How To Use Warp
- How Does New Game Plus Work?
- How Do I Control The Little Avatar On The Load Screen?
- Can You Pet The Dogs And Cats?
If there's something you think we've neglected to mention, please leave a comment and we'll look into it!
For more on Fire Emblem: Three Houses, check out our review where Kallie concluded: "When all was said and done, all I could think about was starting another playthrough… whether you're managing inventories or battlefields, it's the kind of game that's hard to put down, even when it's over."
You can also check out our interview with the directors of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, where they talk about the series' increasing popularity in the Western world, the dramatic changes they made to the combat system, and the refreshing new character designs.
How To Soft Reset
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a game with a lot of choices, and a game where things can go wrong--your favorite characters can die permanently on the battlefield or you might accidentally waste a whole day of free time. You could accidentally offend someone in a conversation, or you might have a disastrously embarrassing tea party with someone you're trying to get closer too.
Thankfully, Fire Emblem has an autosave function and it prompts you to manually save very regularly. But the one thing it doesn't tell you is how to boot back into the main menu to load a previous save. That's what we're here for.
To soft reset the game and go back to the main menu, press and hold: [-] + [+] + [L] + [R]
How To Recruit Students
When you first start Fire Emblem: Three Houses, You'll probably spend a whole lot of time agonizing over which of the three groups of students you want to teach for the rest of the game. It's a tough choice--each class brings the potential for major differences in the story, and the composition of each is a real mix of pros and cons, both in terms of the personalities of the students, and the initial abilities they bring to the battlefield.
But remember--with enough time and effort, you can recruit almost any student you want to your class with the exception of the house leaders and their closest retainer. Each student will value a certain attribute and a certain skill. All you need to do is work to meet that threshold through battles and training, while also making an effort to raise your social rank with them (which will take away time from increasing the social rank and motivation of those already in your class).
We've had varying experiences here, and found that the conditions might be different with each student--anywhere from E to D+ ranks for skills and C to B for social ranks. In some instances, certain characters will be much easier to recruit depending on your gender (namely, Sylvian and the Female protagonist).
To actually recruit someone, you need to talk to them in the monastery on a free day. On the odd occasion, if your ranks are high enough a student will reach out to you during the week to ask if you'd be interested in having them in your class.
Here is a list of what each student is looking for:
- Dorethea: Charisma and Authority
- Bernadetta: Strength, Bow
- Petra: Dex, Riding
- Caspar: Str, Brawl
- Linhardt: Mag, Reason
- Ferdinand: Dex, Hvy Armor
- Hubert: N/A
- Edelgard: N/A
- Annette: Mag, Faith
- Ashe: Cha, Lance
- Ingrid: Dex, Flying
- Felix: Spd, Sword
- Sylvain: Cha, Reason
- Mercedes: Mag, Bow
- Dedue: N/A
- Dimitri: N/A
- Leonie: Str, Lance
- Lorenz: Cha, Reason
- Raphael: Str, Heavy Armor
- Lysithia: Mag, Faith
- Ignatz: Dex, Authority
- Marianne: Mag, Riding
- Hilda: N/A
- Claude: N/A
How To Recruit Professors And Monastery Staff
Just in case you weren't aware, you have the ability to recruit most of the monastery staff characters into your team. Yes, that means you can recruit fellow professors into your class, and then teach them as part of your day-to-day. It's weird, I don't know.
Some of them will join as part of the story, depending on which house you're in. Some of them can't be recruited at all for various reasons, but we'll leave the specific details of this one a mystery.
Monastery staff recruits differ from the students in that they don't require a skill level check (at least as far as we know), just a social level check. So if you have your eye on someone (it's Alois, I know everyone is falling over Alois), be sure to invite them to dinner and give them lots of gifts.
What Skills Should I Focus On?
While you're free to pursue any combat skills with any character you wish, Three Houses definitely nudges you in a few different directions when it comes to certain characters and certain classes.
When it comes to picking a goal, it's important to keep a few things in mind:
Your gender: Three Houses unfortunately still has gender-specific classes, so it's important to look ahead and see what options you have available in the long-term before you start to pursue a class discipline. I was in the process of making my female protagonist the best hand-to-hand fighter possible until I learned that the later brawler classes, the Brawler, Grappler, and Warmaster, were exclusive to males. You can find a list of the gender-specific classes on the next page
Innate learning advantages: Every character has specific skills they're particularly good at learning, indicated by a blue arrow next to it on their character sheet. This means they'll get more skill points when training in this ability.
Innate learning disadvantages: Some characters have skills that they are poor at learning, meaning they'll earn fewer points when training in this ability. It's usually not a fantastic idea to keep pushing a character in a direction they hate unless they have a…
Hidden potential: Some characters have hidden potentials next to certain skills indicated by three stars next to it on the character sheet. This is usually in a skill that doesn't seem like a natural part of their initial class designation and means that with enough consistent learning in that skill, that character will be able to unlock a unique or advanced ability. Sometimes, this hidden potential will also come with an innate learning disadvantage, but if you work at it hard enough, then you can flip it into an advantage instead.
The Story: Without spoiling anything, the plot of Three Houses will eventually push your protagonist and house leaders quite hard towards a particular skillset, typically the ones they start with. That's a sword for the protagonist, axe for Edelgard, lance for Dimitri, and bow for Claude. So, if you really want to excel in one type of weapon for these characters, stick with what they have.
Are There Gender-Specific Classes?
Yes. Like previous Fire Emblem games, each gender has its own variety of classes that are unique to them. Only dudes can punch things and be a hero, apparently, and only girls can ride the flying horsies.
- Brawler (Brawl)
- Dark Mage (Reason)
- Hero (Sword, Axe)
- Grappler (Brawl)
- Dark Bishop (Reason)
- War Master (Axe, Brawl)
- Pegasus Knight (Lance, Flying)
- Falcon Knight (Sword, Lance, Flying)
- Gremory (Reason, Faith)
Faculty Training Is Important
In Three Houses, you're the one teaching students. But what about your own self-development? Weapons skills are easy to practice in battle, but you can't level up things like reason, faith, riding, or flying skills unless you're already certified for the associated classes--and you need Faculty Training in order to do that.
Early on, it's a better use of your activity points to invest in those skills so you can, say, become certified as a Pegasus Knight and continue practicing your flying from there. Here's where to learn the aforementioned skills.
- Flying: Manuela, Seteth
- Riding: Jeralt, Hanneman, Gilbert
- Faith: Rhea, Manuela
- Reason: Hanneman, Rhea
And here's everything they can teach you:
- Rhea: Sword, Brawl, Reason, Faith
- Seteth: Sword, Lance, Axe, Authority, Flying
- Manuela: Sword, Faith, Flying
- Hanneman: Bow, Reason, Riding
- Catherine: Sword, Brawl
- Jeralt: Lance, Authority, Riding
- Alois: Axe, Brawl, Heavy Armor
- Shamir: Lance, Bow
- Gilbert: Lance, Axe, Heavy Armor, Riding
Lost Items: The Only Thing You Need To Know
The students lose a lot of stuff in Three Houses. Thankfully, they have you to rely on. As you explore the monastery each month, you'll stumble across lost items that belong to particular students. Each item will have a description that hints at who that item belongs to, but this isn't particularly easy if you're just getting to know the characters. We could list what belongs to who, but there's an easier way to work that out on your own:
Pay attention to where people are standing each month. When the next month comes, the Lost Items you find throughout the monastery belong to whoever was standing in that spot the month prior.
Returning a Lost Item will boost your support level with that person, and if they're in your class, boost their motivation. That's something to keep in mind--if you know an item belongs to a class member, it might be worth waiting until they can take advantage of that motivational boost.
PSA: Remember To Manage Your Abilities and Combat Arts Regularly
I'm putting this here because I need to admit that this is something I completely neglected to do until dozens of hours into the game.
Each unit in Fire Emblem: Three Houses will eventually learn many different passive abilities--weapon proficiency, buffs, and stat boosts, that kind of thing. However, they can only equip five of these at one time.
This means that if you see one of your characters learning a new ability, don't just assume that it's automatically equipped. You'll have to go into the Abilities Menu via their character sheet, or via the Inventory menu just before a battle to sort things out.
What you decide to equip will likely be informed by what kind of weapon you have a unit prioritizing for a particular battle--if they're a multi-talented individual but you're having them focus on a particular role, say, Archery, it's best to swap out anything that doesn't help give a buff to that ability, like Sword proficiency.
The same principle goes for Combat Arts--each unit can only equip three at a time (some will have a bonus, class-specific one later on). So again, make sure these are all suitable for your character's current equipment loadout.
How To Effectively Take Out Monsters
Three Houses will painstakingly explain the mechanics of how to take out monsters when you first encounter them. But let's be honest--with all the stuff going on in this game, you'll probably forget about it by the time another one rolls around and just spam Gambit abilities at it, which is not the best way to do things.
Here's what to remember:
Each monster has a number of different segments available for attack. These are all initially shielded, as indicated by the golden squares underneath it.
You need to take down these shields by attacking them. You won't do as much damage, but it's a necessity--think about using your weaker units to help out with this.
The gold squares that indicate shields will eventually crack, and then shatter. Once they're gone, that particular square will be susceptible to full damage.
Gambits will do damage to multiple segments, as well as stun the monster, which means it won't be able to counterattack until it is hit again.
As you can imagine, the fastest way to take down a monster is to have units prepared to make targeted strikes one after the other. If you don't think you can take it down in one phase, try and make your last attack a Gambit attack so the monster will be stunned during their phase.
Always Use ZR: Dangerous Tiles And Enemy Targeting
Never forget ZR. ZR is the button you hit during battles that will bring up the purple grid that shows you the potential attack range of the enemy.
It's incredibly important to keep this in mind so you don't push too far forward accidentally and let the enemy get in a few free hits. In most instances, it's good practice to station your units on the edge of this threshold, wait for the enemy to advance into your attack range during their next phase, and then charge in on them.
Similarly, it's also very important to always pay attention to the lines that emanate from enemies when you move a unit. These lines indicate the attack intention of that enemy unit, so you need to make sure that if you're moving to a place where you're going to get attacked, you know you can take the hits without dying.
It's also worth noting here that you can hover over enemy units to see both their individual movement and attack ranges, as well as see how much damage they will potentially do to a unit that they're targeting.
Sharing Meals: How To Be Smart About It
Sharing meals is a pretty straightforward concept: Pick two students to eat with, bonus points if they favor the dish, have a great time. Here are some good things to always keep in mind, however:
Think twice before sharing a meal with a class member who has full motivation. Could you be making this meal have a bigger impact by sharing it with someone else who doesn't have any motivation? You don't want to let any activity points go to waste when classes start back up for the week.
Do the two characters you're sharing a meal with have the potential for social bonds with each other? If they don't, look for a different pairing. This is especially important when you're incorporating students from other houses--not every character can have a social relationship with every other character. (Pro tip: You can hit the X button when choosing your meal companions to view their social ranks between everyone else at the table, if any)
And later on: Do the two characters you're sharing a meal with already have a maxed-out social bond? You might have your favorite characters, but if they're not going to get any benefits out of the meal, it might be worth checking the support menu and see who might stand to gain a bit more.
Fishing: There's More To It Than You Think
Fishing is a great way to increase your Professor Level without spending any activity points, with the bonus of being able to stockpile ingredients to have for meals. Sometimes, there will be events on Sundays where rare fish become available to catch, which you can sell for cold, hard, cash. But it's important to fish smart, meaning you shouldn't necessarily reel in the first fish that bites!
When a fish catches on, there'll be an icon that shows what kind of rarity the fish will be. When you're using expensive bait to catch rare fish (like during a special event day, for example), you'll want to wait for the Purple, Gold, or Rainbow fish icon to show up to make sure you're making the most of it.
However, there is a risk of losing your bait after the third snag, sometimes fourth if you're lucky. So try and get out while you're ahead.
Here's how the rarity scales:
Blue -> Red -> Gold/Rainbow/Purple (Special Fish Event Only)
And remember: the better your timing is on the minigame, the better the fish will be! Or so the game says, anyway.
Always Be Gardening
Fishing is a nice distraction that comes with a few perks. Gardening, on the other hand, is a much more valuable activity, and you should be making the greenhouse your first destination every time you decide to explore the monastery on your free day. You'll increase your Professor Level by doing so, as well as getting a bunch of nice items: food to eat and cook with, flowers to gift to your students, and later on, you'll even get some stat-boosting items.
Some basic things to remember:
As your Professor Level grows, so will your ability to plant more seeds and use more lucrative methods of cultivation. Growing that level by any means possible (teaching, fishing, etc) should be a priority.
Your yield will be better if you plant seeds of the same type in one batch, eg. flower seeds, herb seeds, vegetable seeds, etc.
Always cultivate. There are ratings of effectiveness for each of the methods, but just go for the best available to you. Your yield will be better, and you'll only get those valuable stat-boosting items at the top end.
ABG: Always. Be. Gardening.
Use Your Gifts Wisely (And Give Them Generously)
Gifts! Everyone loves them, especially your students. Gifts are an excellent way to boost your social ranking with students without spending any activity points.
Gifts are also an excellent way to boost the motivation of students in your class by 25 without spending any motivation points. You can do this multiple times to fill their meter.
If you gift someone an item that they particularly like (check the bios on their character sheets for more information) then the increase in social rank and motivation points will be doubled.
Always try and have some gifts on hand--spending time to plant a ton of flowers in the greenhouse is an easy way to do this.
What Do Amiibo Do?
Yeah, I still have a bunch of Amiibo, what of it? If you're a cool and not at all sad person like me, then Nintendo still kinda has you covered.
In the middle of Garreg Mach Monastery, there is something called an "Amiibo Gazeebo", which is frankly, a fantastic name. If you scan even just one Amiibo, then this area will populate with a selection random items--mostly tea, food, and fish--every time you come back to visit on a free day.
If you have an Amiibo of a Fire Emblem character, scanning it will give you new music tracks from the character's respective game. You can listen to these during the game's optional auxiliary battles by choosing them in the "General" tab of the options menu.
Here's a list of the tracks each Fire Emblem amiibo will give you:
- Marth - The Time to Act
- Ike - Eternal Bond
- Robin - Id (Purpose)
- Lucina - Conquest (Ablaze)
- Roy - Beneath a New Light (Roy’s Courage)
- Alm - March to Deliverance
- Celica - With Mila's Divine Protection
- Corrin (Male) - Alight (Storm)
- Corrin (Female) - A Dark Fall (Fire)
- Chrom - Destiny (Ablaze)
- Tiki - The World Tree
Paralogue Battles: Do Not Skip Them
We know you, you're cool. You're not the kind of person to skip out on side quests and optional story content. BUT IF YOU ARE: Don't even think about skipping Paralogue Battles.
These act as Three Houses' version of Mass Effect 2's loyalty quests, essentially. When you've reached a high social rank with a character, you'll get the option to take on a side quest that's important to them. Doing so will give you a bit more of a background on the character, and will often reward you with a unique weapon or item that you can't get anywhere else. So do them.
List Of Class Upgrade Requirements
Before you start each Sunday, you'll be given the chance to certify your students in a new unit class, provided they've met the requirements. You'll need Seals to do so, which can be found in battle or purchased from the item shop. You'll have a greater chance of passing a certification exam if your student has reached all the recommended skill thresholds listed. You can definitely still pass on lower percentages too, but it's worth noting that each unit can only take on exam per week.
It's also worth noting that there's value in sticking with a more basic class for a little while: Maxing out the experience of a certain class will earn you a class-specific ability which you can retain, even if you change to a different one.
In a similar vein, you'll later find that some students will develop a personal, unique Combat Art when they master an Advanced class--one that will be available on top of the three Combat Art slots for each character--which is a pretty good reason not to push them any further into a Master Class just for the sake of it.
To make sure you're working towards the right goals for each of your units, here are the thresholds and requirements for your convenience:
Beginner - Level 5 Requirement
- Myrmidon (Sword: D)
- Soldier (Lance: D)
- Fighter (Axe: D, Bow: D, Brawl: D)
- Monk (Reason: D, Faith: D)
Intermediate - Level 10 Requirement
- Mercenary (Sword: C)
- Thief (Sword: C)
- Armored Knight (Axe: C, Hvy Armor: D)
- Cavalier (Lance: C, Riding: D)
- Brigand (Axe: C)
- Archer (Bow: C)
- Brawler (Brawl: C) [Male Only]
- Mage (Reason: C)
- Dark Mage (Reason: C) [Male Only]
- Priest (Faith: C)
- Pegasus Knight (Lance: C, Flying: D) [Female Only]
Advanced - Level 20 Requirement
- Hero (Sword: B, Axe: C) [Male Only]
- Swordmaster (Sword: A)
- Assassin (Sword: B, Bow: C)
- Fortress Knight (Axe: B, Hvy Armor: B)
- Paladin (Lance: B, Riding: B)
- Wyvern Rider (Axe: B, Flying: C)
- Warrior (Axe: A)
- Sniper (Bow: A)
- Grappler (Brawl: A) [Male Only]
- Warlock (Reason: A)
- Dark Bishop (Reason: A) [Male Only]
- Bishop (Faith: A)
Master - Level 30 Requirement
- Falcon Knight (Sword: C, Lance: A, Flying: B+) [Female Only]
- Wyvern Lord (Lance: C, Axe: A, Flying: A)
- Mortal Savant (Sword: A, Reason: B+)
- Great Knight (Axe: B+, Hvy Armor: A, Riding: B+)
- Bow Knight (Lance: C, Bow: A, Riding: A)
- Dark Knight (Lance: C, Reason: B+, Riding: A)
- Holy Knight (Lance: C, Faith: B+, Riding: A)
- War Master (Axe: A, Brawl: A) [Male Only]
- Gremory (Reason: A, Faith: A) [Female Only]
What Do Dark Seals Do?
You might have picked up one of these after defeating a particular named enemy later in the game, or if you're really good, quite early on in the game. But what are they for?
Answer: Becoming certified in a particular class: The Dark Mage and the Dark Bishop, which are more powerful versions of the standard mages and warlocks which specialize in Reason magic. These are male-only classes, unfortunately, but each of the three houses has at least one unit who can take advantage of Dark Seals.
Don't Throw Away Rusted Weapons
You'll likely pick up a lot of Rusted Weapons if you're playing Three Houses with online connectivity--most commonly on squares with purple auras emanating from them. Your initial reaction might be to exclaim, "well that kinda sucks", and then sell them. For the most part, that's the right reaction.
BUT don't forget to examine them in more detail by hitting "X" on the inventory screen. The game will tell you what this rusted weapon has the potential to become if you use the Blacksmith to forge them. There is the very real possibility that they can be turned into more powerful versions of weapons, and sometimes even unique named weapons. So look closely!
How To Use Warp
This one comes from personal experience: Warp is one of the best tools your Faith-based magic users can have. It's a handy tool for pulling people out of the front line, but it can also be an incredibly valuable tool for launching your hardiest troops onto the front line and letting them absolutely wreck shop.
This is particularly valuable in the game's later story maps, which have a number of walls and obstacles that take numerous phases to walk around. With warp, you can just pop someone over there and clean up real quick.
How Does New Game Plus Work?
Haven't even finished your first campaign and dying to know what the New Game Plus options are like in Three Houses? Okay. Here's how it works:
Once you finish your first campaign, you'll get the option to save your clear data to a slot. You can then use your clear data to start a fresh campaign.
In this new campaign, you'll retain the shop levels and statue perks from your previous game, but you'll otherwise start from scratch like usual. However, you'll now be able to spend your Renown, earned from completing battles and quests, to level up a number of things back up to the level they were when you rolled credits.
That means you can spend it on boosting your Professor Level (highly recommended), the individual skills of your protagonist and any class members, as well as the social links between any person.
You'll also be able to change costumes for certain class members.
Because you need to use the currency to give yourself these NG+ perks, and because of the number of spending avenues available, there's still some strategy required on how best to use it depending on what you're trying to achieve on your subsequent playthrough. You'll definitely come in with significant advantages, but you won't be ridiculously overpowered, at least for the first few hours.
How Do I Control The Little Avatar On The Load Screen?
This is one that you might catch onto right away, or be baffled for way too long by.
But in case you were wondering: You can control the sprite avatar on the loading screens by using the Switch's motion controls to make them run left or right, hitting B to jump, and A to flip their cape.
Can You Pet The Dogs And Cats?
There are a lot of cats, dogs, owls, and horses around Garreg Mach Monastery.
Unfortunately, we haven't found any way to pet them.
Nintendo, please patch.