The first is that there's not actually anything to discuss. We know video games don't cause violence, the gaming industry knows it, and most of all, the politicians know it as well. Everyone knows it's just an attempt to pass the buck so they don't have to tackle, or even address, the actual causes of violence in this country. I don't want to participate in that attempt to obfuscate the issue.
The second reason is that I really like Fire Emblem: Three Houses. It makes me happy. And I'd like to write about things that make me happy way more than anything of that nature. So, with that said, I figured I would gift people who haven’t quite started the game some pain-saving tips for the first half of the game… specifically, things that will help you achieve the ultimate goal of recruiting every student at the monastery into your house.
By the way, I’ll do this with only the smallest, least obtrusive spoilers possible. I mean, if you want to go in 100% unaware, then you should give this a pass, but trust me: you won’t be ruining your experience with these tips.
Alright, so, let’s get started:
TIP 1) Don't go crazy with the support
So one thing that most Fire Emblem fans know is that the best part of the game is the support conversations: that is, once you force two characters to get to know each other better, either through sharing meals or fighting side-by-side on the battlefield, the game will show you a little skit between the two that will teach you more about the characters and how they feel about one another. Much of your time in most Fire Emblem games will be spent trying to not only beat each battle, but to do it optimally so the right people grow to like each other and you can see their relationship develop.
In most Fire Emblem games, there’s nothing stopping you from doing this right out of the gate: you can unlock all levels of Support Conversation from the start (from C to S) and get “married” to your chosen waifu/husbandu whenever you get around to it. In this way, you can devote all your time to getting to know one person completely before jumping to the next fellow.
You can’t do that here.
In Three Houses, most support conversations for your main character lock at B rank, and cannot go up until you reach the well-known time skip that happens later on in the game (pro tip: when your character changes appearance, you’re running out of time). That means the usual strategy of doubling-down on your favorite characters simply doesn’t work: any support you build up after B is effectively wasted.
This was annoying to me at first, but as I grew to understand the mechanics of the game, I realized that this was a mercy. Because…
TIP 2) Don’t worry too much about skill requirements
When you try to recruit a student and you fail, you’ll typically get a notification about what skills and abilities that student values, and the game will tell you that by improving those abilities you’ll be able to recruit the student. But that’s only 1/3rd of the truth.
Because you see, your support rank with the character has an inverse relationship to the skill level you need to recruit them: or in layman’s terms, the more they like you the less picky they’ll be. Once you hit support level B with a student outside your class, you should only need a D+ level in their favorite skill to recruit them. And considering it’s a lot easier to get to support rank B with a character (even one you don’t fight with) than it is to raise your character’s skill level (especially for heavy armor, flying, and horse riding, which you won’t be able to level up in battle), it’s essential you make them like you.
Which is why the soft-lock at B is so nice: it means you can spend your time spreading the love and increasing your skills, which makes it possible to recruit every single student from the other houses before you reach the middle of the game. But it’s not easy, nor is it intuitive: by the time I figured it out, it was too late, so I was only able to snipe three characters from the other houses to my side.
Here’s another thing that would have helped:
TIP 3) Never rest
You’re a teacher in Garreg Mach, and you spend most weeks teaching your students and improving their abilities in skills like axes, riding, and faith. How much you can improve their abilities is reliant on their motivation: there are four levels of motivation, and you ‘cash it’ in order to improve their skills. If you teach them and they’re only at half motivation, you can only improve their skills twice, rather than four times if they had full motivation.
So it’s important.
A quick and easy way to improve student motivation is to use the “Rest” option at the end of the week, which automatically boosts all your character’s motivations.
Never, ever do that. It’s an enormous waste of time. Every day “resting” is a vital day you need to build up your own skills, improve your teaching rank, and recruit students wasted.
What you have to do instead is find alternative ways for your students to stay motivated. This can be done a number of ways:
- Returning lost items to your students will give them a 50% boost in motivation. It will also make students who aren’t in your class like you more, so always return lost items. It’s an annoying chore, but it can be fun to be quizzed on what item belongs to who.
- Do support conversations between yourself and your students as soon as you can. It will max out their motivation.
- Eating at the dining hall will give your students 100% motivation, and improve their relationship with both you and the other person you’re eating with. A good way to grind up those support ranks.
- If all else fails, you can “brute force” your students into being more motivated through gifts. An early but essential side-quest in the game (seriously do it as soon as you can) will unlock a trade route which will unlock new shops in the marketplace where you can buy gifts. The gifts re-stock every month so clean them out every month (don’t worry, if you play well you’ll never be hurting for cash) and give the gifts to your students. The perfect gift will boost their support of you and give them a 50% motivation boost, while a less-perfect gift will give them a 25% motivation boost. If you don’t have any other way to keep your brats motivated, just shovel gifts into their arms until they’re ready to learn again. Bad in real life, but effective in fantasy warfare Hogwarts. You can also plant flowers in the conservatory which can be used as gifts, which are a cheap and reliable 25% boost in motivation.
When you explore the monastery at the end of each week, you have a limited number of things you can “do” before you have to call it quits. As you improve your professor rank, that number goes up. It needs to be as high as possible as soon as possible, because not only do you use these points to improve students support and motivation, you ALSO use it to improve your own skills by asking other professors to tutor you in other skills you wouldn’t be able to improve otherwise, such as faith, logic, or riding… skills you need, again, to recruit other students.
So a lot of your early game should be spent trying to improve your professor rank. That means: fish (you get a small amount of EXP when you fish), use the conservatory (which you’ll want to do anyway, it’s just a matter of remembering), and do things like have meals with your students, which also improves your professor rank. It’s all stuff you’ll want to do anyway, but it does ultimately mean you should prioritize “getting closer to your students” in the early game, since the same activities that improve your professor rank are generally the same activities that improve your rapport with your students as well.
Just don’t neglect to do these activities with students in other houses! You won’t boost their motivation, but it is one of the few reliable ways to improve how much they like you, since you won’t be able to stand next to all of them in combat (although you can 'borrow' one to do that, which helps).
TIP 5) Pay attention
There reaches a certain point in the game where you’ll lose the chance to deepen ties with certain characters even before the time skip. To say more would be entering spoiler territory, but when you start dealing with thieves of ancient relics, really keep an eye out: certain characters’ windows are closing.
…what the hell, SEMI-MINOR SPOILER ALERT.
It’s Rhea and Leonie. Seriously, if you want to get to know these characters better, really lay down the charm fast and hard. For Rhea it’ll be hard but if you tutor under her and give her some nice gifts every chance you get it won’t be impossible.
…alright. Good luck out there, Professor. You’ll need it.