What’s Coming in 2020

With the beginning of the year upon us, I wanted to give a quick update as to what will be coming down the line of this blog in 2020. I’ll be reviewing 2019’s blog goals next week, as well as discussing why I won’t be doing a new set of blog goals in 2020. That said, I wanted to lay out a bit of what this blog is going to look like in 2020, as well as why.

Let’s start with content, both in terms of typing and frequency. Up to this point, I’ve been doing a post every Monday. This is the schedule I’ve followed for around two years now. While I don’t want to change that schedule too much, posting every single Monday might be a bit aggressive of an ask for most of this coming year. I have a few projects coming down the line that are going to take up a significant amount of my time, meaning I want to be able to give myself greater flexibility in when I write for the blog. Starting in February, here’s what the structure for the posting schedule will look like.

  • First Monday of the month – Video game-related post (This will be the My Pokemon Gym posts through August)
  • Second Monday of the month – TBD
  • Third Monday of the month – Writing-related post (WIP updates, original short stories, etc)
  • Fourth Monday of the month – Break week
  • Fifth Monday of the month, if applicable – TBD

You’ll notice that I have two different weeks that are currently listed as to be determined. In the case of the fifth Monday of the month, this is because such a situation only occurs four times in 2020 (March, June, August, and November). Considering how infrequent that is, I think I’ll just play that by ear. As for the second week of the month, I want to keep that week open for posting things that don’t fit under one of the two other categories I’ve listed up there. This would include things like new editions of Every Internet Recipe Ever, long-form posts1The long-form posts could end up being about video games or writing, though aren’t necessarily. I know for sure one of the ones I’m currently working on is video game related, but we’ll see beyond that., my year-end book review posts, and the occasional random post that doesn’t fit anywhere else.

Beyond that, there are a few posts that will randomly go up when it makes sense for them to do so. This would include quarterly podcast announcement posts, other Patreon announcements, or charity-related items. I’d love to get back into doing author interviews, but we’ll see if I have time.

You may have noticed the shift in layout of the blog back to a simpler layout. Part of why I’m cutting down the blogging schedule is to be able to spend more time on the writing/editing projects that I do work for as noted on my Audio and Print Editing Services page. Historically, I’ve only been able to keep this updated roughly once every six months or so, though my hope is to change that going forward. I’d also like to build out a portfolio of stuff here, so there may be some backend rearranging that isn’t noticeable on the blog itself, but will allow for some new things to be rolled out later this year.

I will continue to follow my current Patreon reward schedule for those who support me there. Patrons receive various rewards, including a monthly podcast, a monthly bonus blog post, and a monthly signed picture that isn’t of me, depending on what tier they support me in. If you’re interested in becoming a patron and helping me be able to do the work I do, please consider supporting me on Patreon.

My Pokemon Gym: Normal

Welcome to the eleventh iteration of the My Pokemon Gym series. If you’re new to this series, I take a Pokemon type then build out my team of six Pokemon of that type as if I were the gym leader. Here are the rules:

  1. I can’t use legendary/mythical Pokemon
  2. I can’t reuse Pokemon I’ve used in previous gyms in this series.
  3. Forms of the same Pokémon can be reused, provided they have different typing. For example, if I used Rattata in a Normal gym team, I could use Alolan Rattata in a Dark gym team.

Want to read my other My Pokemon Gym posts? Go read the Fighting, Ice, Psychic, Grass, Dragon, Fairy, Electric, Bug, Fire, and Flying type posts when you’re done here. All images courtesy pokemondb.net unless otherwise stated.

Note: This is the first post that I considered Sword and Shield Pokemon for the team. That said, since Sword and Shield really didn’t introduce any Normal types worth considering for this list aside from Dubwool, I didn’t have to make any changes.

Girafarig

Even though I’m not posting it last in the series, Normal was the last of the type teams I came up with the team for. What that meant was having five normal types I loved on this team, but the sixth spot being wide open because I’d used so many part Normal types on other teams. In the end, I picked the screen-breaking, flinch-inducing Girafarig for the team thanks to the fact that it can learn one of my favorite moves, Beat Up. Add in Stomp and Zen Headbutt and this is a super annoying lead to deal with — especially when it can’t be flinched itself.

Ability: Inner Focus
Item: King’s Rock
Moves: Stomp, Zen Headbutt, Beat Up, Psychic Fangs

Porygon-Z

Have you ever used a Pokemon move, only to realize that you completely misunderstood what that move did? That’s Conversion and Conversion 2 for me. My mind always wants one of them to change your Pokemon’s type to the type of the last move it used. Neither one does that though. Porygon-Z’s Download ability is fun to play with on a mixed-attacking set like this one. But I can’t use either version of Conversion on this set. Why? Because it doesn’t do what I think it does. Ever.

Ability: Download
Item: Normalium-Z
Moves: Thunderbolt, Ice Beam, Last Resort, Foul Play

Persian

I’m not afraid to admit I cheesed Gen I as a kid with Persian’s high critical hit rate. Sadly, crits don’t work like they did in Gen I anymore. While that wasn’t going to stop me from putting it on this team, it did mean that I had to come up with a new strategy for it. Did you know that Kantonian Persian’s Special Attack stat is only 5 points lower than its regular Attack stat? Time to use a bulky set built around Snore. Why? Because it’s funny.

Ability: Technician
Item: Iapapa Berry
Moves: Rest, Snore, Nasty Plot, Hidden Power Psychic

Mega Lopunny

In my efforts to have a Caterpie sweep the Alolan Elite Four, one of the Pokemon I brought was a Lopunny that used Baton Pass to pass the stats from Agility and Z-Splash to Caterpie. Yes, it was dumb. But the level of effort I had to put towards making that Lopunny tanky enough for the entire premise to work made me really like it. So I’m bringing in the mega form. I had to make some changes to the set since Mega Lopunny can’t also hold a Z-crystal. That said, it gives me an excuse to throw Ice Punch on something, which is always amusing.

Ability: Scrappy (Limber before Mega Evolution)
Item: Lopunnite
Moves: Power-Up Punch, Ice Punch, Dizzy Punch, High Jump Kick

Dodrio

Did you know Dodrio hits like a truck with Thrash? It’s really fun. But it’s even more fun to have Bright Powder on any Pokemon that has an evasion boosting ability. Sure, there are better Pokemon to stick Bright Powder on, but none of them are part of this team. The goal here is to evade, hit hard, and hopefully get confused by whatever berries I manage to steal off of other Pokemon.

Ability: Tangled Feet
Item: Bright Powder
Moves: Swords Dance, Thrash, Pluck, Double Team

Delcatty

Of all of the Pokemon on this list, this is the only one I’ve actually won battles online with. Yes. A Delcatty. I tend to alternate between carrying Wide Lens for boosted Sing accuracy and Psychium-Z to get extra boosts off of Cosmic Power. It’s amusing to me how many random players online don’t understand how to deal with the Sing/Dream Eater combo…particularly because Sing has horrid accuracy. Yet it wins more often than I’d like to admit. Praise be to the neck pillow cat.

Ability: Cute Charm
Item: Wide Lens
Moves: Cosmic Power, Sing, Charge Beam, Dream Eater

Ranking My 2019 Reads – Part 2

At the end of last year, I decided to take a look back at all of the books I’d read in 2018 and provide some ranking to them. This was partly because I like lists, but also partly because I wanted to provide some objectivity to how I felt about the various books I’d read for the first time. I’ve decided to repeat this exercise in 2019, albeit with a much larger list, as you can see below. As was the case last year, if there was a book you read that’s on my list below, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I read a ton of good books this year, so there’s some books I loved and would have been top five in last year’s list — such as 10:04 by Ben Lerner — that are relatively low on this list. This is largely driven by the fact that there were several good books recommended to me. For the most part, these recommendations did not disappoint.

This post is part two of two in this series. For part one, click here.

I have a few books I’ve chosen not to rank for various reasons. Those books, along with why I’ve chosen not to rank them, are listed in alphabetical order below.

  • Computer Machinery and Intelligence by Alan Turing – I read this solely as research for my work in progress and nothing more. It’s a super interesting read, but it’s way too short to be considered a book.
  • Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Translated by John Minford) – Considering this translation is 85% analysis by people other than the actual writer, I didn’t feel it fair to judge Lao Tzu’s work based off of this specific copy. Plus it’s a religious text and people get antsy when you do that.

Also, spoilers ahead for many of these books. If you care about that sort of thing.

16. 10:04 by Ben Lerner

aka: What the fuck did I just read?

I covered 10:04 in greater detail in a review I wrote earlier this year, however, I’ll summarize it as a great book for writers to read and a hit-or-miss book for everyone else. The way that this book dives into the psyche of a writer working through writing a novel is exquisite, especially as the book’s narrator shifts between the various writing ideas he has throughout the book. With that said, most of the characters in the story aside from the narrator and the main female character are hard to develop any sort of attachment towards. Combine that with the fact that the narrator is pretentious at various points throughout the book1And a straight up terrible guy at a couple of points. and it’s hard to get invested in his personal story. Which wouldn’t be a problem if he wasn’t the one telling you the story. But he is, which keeps 10:04 from climbing higher on this list in spite of its interesting parts. On the plus side, this book taught me I really like metafiction.

15. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

aka: Let’s talk about sex…kind of.

Initially upon finishing this book, I debated writing a full on review for it like I did for 10:04. Then I came to my senses, realizing that doing so would be a minefield from which only bad things would come. The book itself was an interesting read, giving some insight into female sexuality that is often lacking from mainstream books. That said, the book focused too much on sexuality in the context of affairs (be that from the woman in question or if the woman was with someone having an affair) for my liking. Hell, even the primary conflict in the only healthy sexual relationship portrayed in the book — that of an open-ish relationship/marriage — hinges on conflict that comes out of the married couple causing a married man to have an affair with them. I get that keeping affairs out of this book wasn’t part of these stories, but it was disappointing to run into in every single story.

14. Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

aka: If you die in Canada, you die in real life

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post that talked (in part) about whether or not you could like a book despite knowing it was problematic. I wrote that post before reading Otherworld, yet felt it was a great example of what I was talking about in said post. Otherworld is a book that checked a lot of boxes to being a book that typically isn’t good. It has a damsel in distress who should be able to fend for herself, yet is being saved by a weak male character. It has corporate conspiracy themes out the wazoo. It screams being a weird bastardization between Ready Player One and Sword Art Online2The technology for the former, the danger and creep factor for the latter.. There were impossibly inflated stakes for the two main characters that made it clear nothing serious was going to happen to them, even when they were in danger. Yet, despite all that, it was a really entertaining read. Also, I didn’t realize that this book was co-authored by THAT Jason Segel until I recognized his voice as the audiobook reader.

13. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink

aka: I’ll do you one better. Why is the scientific secrets of perfect timing?

I am an unabashed fan of Daniel Pink’s work. His book, Drive, is arguably the single most impactful book I’ve ever read in regards to how I think about my career, both as a writer and as a professional. It’s one of only two books I will actively recommend a business professional read, regardless of their industry, role, or responsibilities. When is not Drive, but it is still a good book. As always, Pink is a writer who can capture you in anecdotal stories to make a point about scientific evidence. That said, it’s one of the few books on this list I felt like didn’t dive deep enough into what was being discussed. I finished the book in less than two days. Though Pink does offer some options for additional reading at the end of the book, I read his work because I enjoy the stories he tells — not because I want to read someone else’s work about the same topic.

12. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

aka: How to write a non-linear comedy book and look good doing it

This book is everything I wanted Scrappy Little Nobody to be when I read that last year. Granted, Scrappy Little Nobody was a good book, but Yes Please was a GREAT book3That statement is more or less true from every book this point on the list or higher.. It was funny and witty, while still being a great look into Poehler’s life. My only question — who the fuck has a high school that lets you get home at 1:45pm?

11. Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

aka: Still a better love story than Twilight

I went into reading this book expecting to learn a lot more about the NSA abuses of power revealed by Snowden in 2013. And while there was some of that, most of what was covered in the book was, unsurprisingly, much of what was already publicly known (and well-known at that) knowledge. I came away from this book instead thinking about how Snowden’s story only reinforced the need for increased protection for whistleblowers — not that there’s been any high-profile whistleblowing in the past few months or anything — as well as thinking about how Snowden’s personal love story was his now-wife is better than most romantic stories on this list.

10. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

aka: Busy, busy, busy.

One of Vonnegut’s other books, Slaughterhouse-Five, was a book I called out when I wrote my Ten Favorite Books of All Time post a few years back4Note to self: I really need to write an updated version of that post. I can think of at least three books I’ve read in the four years since I wrote that list that would displace some of the lower books on the list., so I was excited to read Cat’s Cradle. While I don’t think it’s Vonnegut’s best book, it was an interesting philosophical exercise to read. The amount of world building (and later world destroying) Vonnegut does in Cat’s Cradle is nothing short of impressive — and yet he does so all while contrasting the world of San Lorenzo with the world in real life. This is probably one of the deeper books on the list, kept as low as it is by its extremely choppy pacing5I get that it’s intentional, but it’s still jarring..

9. Every Tool’s a Hammer by Adam Savage

aka: A book about being creative wrapped in a machinist’s body

I went into Every Tool’s a Hammer expecting to be disappointed by another autobiography from a famous person I liked. Considering the only one that hadn’t disappointed me to this point belonged to Michelle Freaking Obama, I had somewhat low expectations despite my love for Adam Savage. That said, this book was oddly inspirational for me as a writer, as Savage really went into the philosophy and psychology of what it means to be a maker. Regardless of your medium and your tools, creating is an amazing thing. Savage really managed to drive that home in ways I hadn’t thought about before. I was impressed with this book — enough to give it a second read after finishing the first time.

8. Becoming by Michelle Obama

aka: Needed perspective in a perspective lacking world

This is by far the longest I was in a hold queue for a book at my library, outside of Where the Crawdads Sing. Becoming is exactly what I expected it to be — a well-written autobiographical account of the former First Lady’s life both before and in the White House, told from a perspective of someone that overcame a lot to get everywhere they had been in life. I knew Michelle Obama was a good writer, though the book did manage to exceed my expectations in that regard. It ends the year as the second highest non-fiction book on the list, both because of its importance, as well as how good the book itself was. My lone criticism is that the book had a hell of a downer of an ending. Who writes a book where the bad guy wins in the end6The irony to this is that I love writing fiction where this is the case. That’s the thing though. Fiction.?

7. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

aka: Don’t read (or listen) to this book if you’re in a bad state of mind

I adore John Green. His work on Vlogbrothers, Dear Hank and John, Crash Course, and other places has been a huge inspiration to me in so many ways. Despite all of this, I’d never read one of his books. Turtles All the Way Down was a good book that I struggled to fully appreciate because of how long it took me to get invested with the main character’s story. For the first half of the book, I felt myself caring more about the quirky side character, Daisy, than I did about the book’s struggling protagonist, Aza. The story itself was good and the focus on mental health in the book was great. But I didn’t connect with the book the way I did with others further down the list. Turtles All the Way Down is objectively a better book than some books I’ve ranked ahead of it — it just wasn’t one that I adored.

6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

aka: Blade Runner didn’t do this book justice

I made an effort to read this book early in the year to help give me some perspective on how other writers have handled writing androids in fiction. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? does a great job of debating what it means to be human, as well as to what extent humanity is or is not truly human, all while focusing on the possible humanity of artificial intelligence. This book taught me a lot about how I want the villains in my book to view AI, but also brought up great questions for the protagonists to consider as well. After reading this book, I’m disappointed in my previous viewings of Blade Runner, particularly with where they chose to stay true to the book versus where they didn’t.

5. Dear Martin by Nic Stone

aka: This is America.

Right out of the gate, I’d like to say that I couldn’t relate to at least 90 percent of Dear Martin. That’s exactly why I read it. Yes, Dear Martin tells a good story. It’s a well-written book with characters you develop emotional connection toward, be that positive or negative. But it’s also important to read books outside of our experience. I don’t know it’s like being an African-American teen in a country where that group is systemically profiled by a group that should protect them. Yet it’s important to understand that experience. The fact that Dear Martin was written in such an engaging way is just a bonus.

4. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

aka: What a psychological thriller should read like

Holy. Fuck. For a book that starts out as slow as this one7This is the first time I’ve ever found myself calling a book that starts out with a murder in the first three pages slow, but it really was a slow starting book., once it gets going it’s damn near impossible to put down. Unweaving the tangled web that Turton creates in this book is challenging enough, but trying to figure out who kills Evelyn Hardcastle throughout the story is a shockingly difficult exercise for a reader to partake in. The ending of the book was a let down to me, though I get why it ended the way it did for character growth purposes. On the plus side, this book did give one of the best narrator characters I’ve seen in a book this year, in the form of Constable Jim Rashton. The only down side is that he’s only a narrator for a short time in the book — but it’s an engrossing few chapters.

3. Educated by Tara Westover

aka: This is America, too.

Of all of the books on this list, Educated was the hardest for me to read. This isn’t because it was a bad book — far from it actually. While I can’t claim to have experienced anything like the horrors Tara Westover experienced in her childhood and young adult years, reading this book only served to remind me how many similarities certain people in my family share with those that could be better described as religious fundamentalists, conspiracy theorists, or just backwards in terms of what we consider to be modern society. There were a few lines in particular Westover mentioned in her book that I recall hearing nearly word for word as a child — how women who weren’t modest were whores, how doctors existed to poison you instead of help you, and how public school was a government conspiracy to brainwash you. It makes me feel a little bit better that I wasn’t the only one who experienced those things, as well as a ton better that I only experienced such a minimal amount in comparison to what Westover had to go through. Make no mistake, what Westover describes in her book is still going on now. It’s not just happening in rural areas or the Mormon community. It’s a terrifying realization.

2. Crazy is My Superpower by A.J. Mendez Brooks

aka: Bipolar disorder is the villain in this story

Every once in a while, there’s a book that just catches you emotionally when you aren’t expecting it. That’s this book for me. A.J. Mendez Brooks — under her wrestling name of AJ Lee — was at the height of her career when I was at the peak of my watching wrestling. I watched her story of clawing her way up the WWE roster play out in real-time. Knowing the back story behind her life, as well as all the horrors she went through at various points, really resonated with me. It’s a beautifully written, quirky, and funny book that pulls no punches. After reading several bad or underwhelming books by celebrities this year, Crazy is My Superpower was perhaps the most pleasant surprise read of the year for me. If you want to hear my thoughts on this book more in detail, it was one of my three in-depth reviews this year.

1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

aka: Thought provoking and beautifully-written literature can infuriate you

Alright. Let’s hit the only two negatives of this book immediately.

  1. The ending focusing on Mrs. Richardson and Izzy seemed out of place, particularly when Mia and Pearl were clearly the focus characters for much of the book.
  2. This first half of this book was an orgy of evidence that it took place in Cleveland in the 1990s. To the point where it was actively distracting.

That out of the way — I’ve never read a book that shifts between perspectives as fluidly and beautifully at this one does. Little Fires Everywhere does a great job of telling little stories everywhere — blending these asides and peripheral tales into the larger narrative of the book. The book did a great job of creating believable teenage characters without making them cringey. Even the adult characters where well-written, despite being less focused on (aside from Mia and Mrs. Richardson). The story very much downplays the theme of child abduction — which I hit on hating in one of the other reviews in this list — but manages to do so in a way that makes sense. That said, Little Fires Everywhere did frustrate me as the book was wrapping up, but only because I wanted to know what happened with the story faster than the book was telling it. I’ve only felt that way with two other books since becoming an adult. One was the book that topped last year’s list, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. The other was The Shadows. This book makes three books on that list. It’s the highest compliment I can give to a book that really did tell an entrancing story.

Q4 2019 Podcast Is Up

Hi everyone.

You’re getting another off-schedule Monday blog post to announce that the Q4 podcast episode is up on my Patreon page. As a reminder for those of you who are regular readers — as well as an FYI to those who may be new to the blog — the podcasts I do each quarter on my Patreon are available to all readers of my blog as well as my Patreon supporters. Patrons do get additional perks, such as bonus blog posts, monthly podcasts, and other perks. If you’re interested in becoming one of my patrons, head over to my Patreon page and support me for as little as $1 per month.

You can find this quarter’s free podcast here. In this quarter’s podcast, I brought back author Evey Jacob for her second appearance. In the podcast, we talked about growth arcs we love in TV shows, writing in video games and TV that surprised us, and discussed our own works in progress. Typically these quarterly podcasts are in a Q&A format. That said, due to scheduling limitations on my end, I failed to get out a Q&A thread in a timely manner for this podcast, hence the format followed here.

If there are questions you’d like to hear answered on next quarter’s podcast — as well as any topics you’d like to hear me discuss with my guest hosts — leave them in the comments of this post. While patrons will get their questions answered first, I do try to make an effort to get to all questions submitted in each podcast, regardless of source.

One Sneaky Good Unit For Each Fire Emblem Three Houses Master Class

Good lord. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good word vomit title on this blog. You’re all welcome.

I’ve been continuing my various playthroughs of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, desperately hoping that the next round of DLC gives us new classes1Dark Flier, please., a golden path2A path where all of the primary characters of the story live…or at the least have the potential to., or the ability to remove gender locks from certain classes3Is War Master Ingrid or Falcon Knight Hubert so much to ask for?. In doing so, I’ve decided to do a run where I play on Casual mode with the intent of grinding every character I have to level 99. Why? Why not.

In one of my previous runs, I made an effort to try to hamstring my run by making my units fill classes that they would otherwise struggle in. This led to predictably poor results. For example, Gremory Petra is not the most useful magic-user, considering she’s got a handicap in both reason and faith magic. That said, it did lead to me accidentally discovering a couple of units that were shockingly in the classes I stuck them in.

Thus comes the premise of this post. I’m going to take a look at each of the game’s master classes — Mortal Savant, Falcon Knight, War Master, Wyvern Lord, Great Knight, Dark Knight, Holy Knight, and Gremory — as well as the Dancer class and talk about units that are surprisingly good in that end game class. Perhaps you’re playing Classic Mode and need to fill some spaces with some non-class-optimized units. Maybe you’re trying to do a run where your units aren’t in the same class as your last three runs. Maybe you just want to have fun. This list is for you. The units this list are not units in their ideal or even second-best class. But they will be fun to use and surprisingly useful.

Before I get into this list, here are a few honorable mention unit/class combinations I want to talk about.

  • Great Knight Bernadetta – It takes a LOT of work to get her there, but Bernadetta can hold her own in this class. Keep a bow on her and suddenly you have a wall of death. But Bernadetta appears on this list for a different class.
  • Ingrid – Ingrid is so good at so many classes that it was hard to slot her in this list. The classes where I’d consider her are all ones where there’s a clear sneaky good unit that already exists, while all the weaker classes are the classes where Ingrid is a more natural fit.
  • Felix – Has the same problem as Ingrid, with the key difference being he actually has one sneaky good class — Dancer. Too bad there’s three or four units ahead of him for that distinction.
  • Catherine, Anna, and Linhardt – All three of these units suffer from the same problem, in that they all fit better into an Advanced class than a Master class. This may well change with coming DLC, but none of them can really be sneaky good at a class when they’re all forced fits in the existing classes.

Mortal Savant – Marianne

It’s always bothered me how some of the students in the game don’t have a logical class pairing that goes well with their crest’s associated relic. For all practical purposes, Marianne has zero business being in hand-to-hand combat. She has the lowest strength cap in the game, the second-lowest strength growth, and one of the lowest defense growths in the game. Yet pair her relic sword, Blutgang, with Marianne’s shockingly strong reason magic list and you’ve got an adept Mortal Savant. Why not Lysithea here? Because everyone is already using Lysithea as a reason magic class thanks to her access to Dark Spikes. Marianne might be best suited as a healer, but her magic-based attacking is nothing to scoff at.

Honorable Mention: Ingrid

Falcon Knight – Shamir

Shamir is broken. She is the only reason I wish the Kinishi Knight class from Fates had made its way over to Three Houses. Throwing her on any flying mount makes her one of the most dangerous units in the game thanks to access to the Alert Stance skills. The most powerful stat trifecta in Three Houses is, in my opinion, the Dexterity/Speed/Luck trio. This set of stats is particularly important for flying classes thanks to the abundance of bows in the game, as it’s kill or be killed. Shamir has the 5th highest combined growth rate in these three stats and third highest among female units (who Falcon Knight is locked to). The only ones with a higher combined growth rate are Petra — one of the two units you could argue are canon fliers — and Leonie, who is the best flying unit in the game aside from Claude. Shamir has better growths here than Ingrid! Just try her out as a Falcon Knight. You’ll thank me.

Honorable Mention: Manuela

War Master – Ferdinand von Aegir

Did you realize that Ferdinand von Aegir and Caspar have nearly identical stats in both growths and max stats? You know how Caspar is an awesome War Master? Ferdinand von Aegir is pretty good at it too, even if it is beneath his noble station. Unlike Felix, he isn’t an obvious choice for this class, nor is he gender locked out of it like Petra, Catherine, and Hilda are. Granted, nothing will be as funny as when I made Cyril a War Master, but he was predictably terrible. Ferdinand von Aegir as one though? That worked really well.

Honorable Mention: Felix

Wyvern Lord – Raphael

First off, the Wyvern Lord class is overpowered. Literally anyone who is even passable with an axe wrecks nearly everything in this class. Raphael — despite all of his limitations in terms of mobility — does not have a bane to his flying stats. This shocked me when I noticed it. Considering he has the single highest HP cap and growth in the game, along with his otherworldly strength, you can beast he’s a beast in this class. It’s hard to have a sneaky good Wyvern Lord, so why not go with the loudest character in the game.

Honorable Mention: Annette with a Bolt Axe

Great Knight – Petra

Part of the appeal to Petra as a unit is that her speed growths are so high that she can double pretty much enemy unit in the game by the fifth or sixth month of the game. It’s impressive. Her biggest problem is that if anyone gets in close on her and she doesn’t double them, her defense is low enough that she’s one relatively easy to take out. The Great Knight class takes Petra from a very good glass cannon to an every-so-slightly slower, but much tankier death machine. It reminds me a little bit of Frederick in the early game of Awakening, only she doesn’t drop off. In terms of utility, she’s arguably the most natural fit into the sneaky good class of any unit on this list. It’s just that she’s so much better at so many other things that Great Knight goes overlooked.

Honorable Mention: Ashe

Bow Knight – Lysithea

Okay, let’s be serious. You’re not using Lysithea as a Bow Knight. You’re just not. The goal here is to get Lysithea some HP and Defense growths in the classes that’ll take her through to get her to a Bow Knight. The Cavalier class and Paladin classes give +20 HP/+5 DEF and +30 HP/+5 DEF growths, respectively. Slap a Magic Bow on Lysithea and she’s a decent Bow Knight. You’re not doing this. I know so. But it’s not going to be as bad as you might think.

Honorable Mention: Hubert

Dark Knight – Claude

Did you know Claude’s spell list includes both Cutting Gale and Excalibur? In fact, he has the exact same Reason spell list as the best non-Dark Magic-user in the game, Annette. Sure, his growths in magic aren’t the best. But with that spell list, he’s going to be hitting a lot harder than you might think. I do also want to call out the fact that the honorable mention unit in this list, Hilda, is one of only two units that can learn the long-range nuke spell Bolting. Who knew the Golden Deer were such a good magic house?

Honorable Mention: Hilda

Holy Knight – Leonie

Speaking of sneaky good magic users in the Golden Deer, Leonie has a surprisingly good set of utility Faith spells. Her natural affinity for Lance and Riding means you can focus her on Faith from super early in the game, allowing you to build magic stats in the Mage or Priest classes. I’ve used Leonie as a Holy Knight in two playthroughs so far and find her to be one of the best secondary clerics in the game.

Honorable Mention: Ignatz

Gremory – Manuela

I know what you’re thinking. Manuela’s canon class by outfit is the Priest class. How is she a sneaky good Gremory? While Faith is one of her boon stats, the think is that the rest of her growths make her a much more natural Falcon Knight. Combine that with the fact that her Reason skill receives a penalty and you’re going to have to put a lot of work into making Manuela a Gremory. But considering she has access to Bolting, Warp, Silence, and Ward, she has a unique spell set that no other unit in the game has access to. I’d argue it’s worth your time, even if she isn’t a top-tier Gremory.

Honorable Mention: Anna

Dancer – Bernadetta

You want to know why so many people like Olivia as a Dancer in Awakening4Other than the fact that she has some of the most revealing official art of any unit in the game. This fact blows a lot of people’s minds when they first notice it.? She’s a Dancer unit that also has access to the Pass ability, allowing her to ignore enemies blocking her path to get to other units. You know who the only unit is that can learn Pass in Three Houses? That’d be Bernadetta. Combine that with the fact that Bernadetta gets access to Physic and Rescue — all while still being able to use her insane bow skills — and you have a unit that can stay way out of everyone’s way AND charge into the frey when she needs to. I personally prefer her as a Dancer to the canon Dancer unit, Dorothea.

Honorable Mention: Ferdinand von Aegir, Edelgard

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