Warning – Fire Emblem: Three Houses spoilers will abound in this post. While I’ll try to avoid this in general for most characters, there are some characters (Dimitri, Edelgard, Rhea, Hubert, Mercedes, Dedue, and Byleth come to mind) where spoilers are nearly unavoidable in order to explain why I like or dislike them. This is especially true for Dimitri and Mercedes.
I’ve finally done it. I’ve beaten all four paths of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. While I’m waiting on more DLC to come out1, I figure it’s as good of a time as any to write some of the posts I’ve been meaning to about the game. I’ll have some deeper, more thought-provoking posts on the game in the future, as there’s a massive list of topics I want to write about exploring the various intricacies of Three Houses. That said, I’m not in a position to write most of those posts right now, so you’ll see them trickle out over the next few months, mixed in with less serious posts like this one.
I decided that my first non-review post of the game would be a tier-list of how much I personally like each of the characters. My tiering system is loosely based off of the S-D tier system that TierMaker uses, though I’ve added a few tiers to help make sure that no single tier is too large. Even with that in mind, there are a ton of characters in Three Houses, so I’ve decided to only have characters that Byleth can S-support with in this list. This isn’t a ranking of how much I like each of the S-supports, but I did feel it was a useful place to draw the line. In addition to that, I’ve added Byleth (both male and female) to this list as they’re the main character, as well as Jeralt…for reasons you’ll see as we go through this list. Also, this isn’t a usefulness tier list like my Fire Emblem: Awakening tier list. Three Houses allows way too much customization of units for me to do just a single post about unit usefulness, as you can make nearly any unit as awesome or as terrible as you want2.
UPDATE 11/15: I’ve added in Anna and Jeritza to the list below following their DLC releases.
F: Just Go Away Already
Units: 40. Manuela, 39. Cyril
Let’s get these two out of the way quickly as the rest of the list is much more interesting. Manuela is Mallory Archer’s less-interesting, slightly nicer younger sister. She’s here for fan service/fan disservice3, getting kidnapped, and annoying Hanneman. Cyril marks the first time in a long time that the token villager unit is actively bad and annoying to have around. He gets the nod over Manuela because of his slightly better utility.
D: STOP TRYING TO BANG MY DAD
Units: 38. Alois, 37. Rhea, 36. Leonie, 35. Sylvain
Yes. Everyone in this class wants to get with Jeralt. Even Sylvain. Sylvain will hit on anything that moves. He and Leonie get slightly higher rankings than Rhea and Alois because Rhea is essentially non-playable, while Alois is just Cyril with a better starting class and better growths. Thing is, I really wanted to like Leonie. I made her the first character I S-supported in my very first run of Three Houses. But she just won’t shut up about Jeralt. She’s like the boy who got close to Stacey just so he could try to score with her mom4. Even her fantastic post-timeskip hair and outfit can’t save her from this tier. I actually somewhat like Sylvain — especially as a Dark Knight — but he just fits in this tier.
D+: Character Development That Makes No Sense
Units: 34. Gilbert, 33. Hanneman, 32. Lorenz, 31. Dimitri
We’ll get to the entry in this tier that’s going to induce a lot of rage from the Three Houses fanbase in just a moment. Before that though, we have a guy who abandoned his daugther5, a guy who only cares about Byleth because of their crest, and the character who makes the worst hair choices in the game6. But these three have character development that ranges from non-existent (Hanneman) to poorly explained (Gilbert) to wait…what (Lorenz’s solo ending).
And then there’s Dimitri. For all of the good writing that goes into Dimitri pre-timeskip, his post-timeskip PTSD is jarring. It makes a lot of sense too, even if it is hard to watch at times. But then he just randomly gets over it after Felix’s dad dies. Because…reasons? It’s so frustrating because he has the potential to be one of the best characters in the game, only to not even be a top-three story in his own storyline. I’d make a strong argument that Dedue, Felix, and Mercedes all have deeper stories in the Blue Lions arc — and you could even make an argument Annette and Ashe’s stories having more coherence. I’m going to examine Dimitri in much more detail in one of the future posts I have planned, but until then, I’ll just say that he’s easily the most disappointing Lord character of this game. The only thing that saves him from being the most disappointing character in the game as a whole is Leonie’s existence.
C: Forgettable, Except For That One Thing
Units: 30. Ignatz, 29. Anna, 28. Lysithea, 27. Sothis, 26. Jeralt, 25. Flayn
These characters all bore me, so let’s lightning round the one reason why they’re memorable. Ready, go!
- Ignatz – Really good painter than may or may not make an erotic painting of Ingrid in their A-support.
- Anna – Anna’s here! And she has an awesome new outfit! But she has no supports. And no unique class7. And no major bonuses to her actually being playable other than gifting you a stat-boosting item every so often. If her new outfit wasn’t awesome, she’d just be Mr. Krabs.
- Lysithea – The Death Knight fears no man. He does, however, fear a 15-year-old who learns the only anti-cavalry magic spell in the game8.
- Sothis – The cutscene where Byleth becomes the Fell Star is fucking amazing. Sothis is boring otherwise.
- Jeralt – (To the tune of Everybody Wants to Be a Cat) EVERYBODY! EVERYBODY! EVERYBODY WANTS TO BANG YOUR DAD!
- Flayn – She, like Manuela, gets kidnapped, but at least there’s a reason for her abduction.
C+: Characters Held Back By a Character or Gameplay Trait
Units: 24. Caspar, 23. Marianne, 22. Seteth, 21. Jeritza 20. Ferdinand Von Aegir, 19. Ingrid
Lightning round 2: electric boogaloo!
- Caspar – Strong unit that does well in melee combat but is so forgettable that I didn’t get him an A-support until the last minute in my Church run.
- Marianne – Frail but very good mage unit that I’d like a lot more if everything she did didn’t remind me of Fluttershy.
- Seteth – Even in the run where he’s supposed to matter (the Church run), Seteth feels like a background character. Which is a shame, because he’s one of the most memeable characters in the game.
- Jeritza – Jeritza is broken as all hell. And he SHOULD be higher on this list. But he sounds like Richmond from The IT Crowd and I can’t un-hear it. I can’t take him seriously.
- Ferdinand Von Aegir – I want to love Ferdinand Von Aegir because the memeiness of Ferdinand Von Aegir is off the charts. Sadly, Ferdinand Von Aegir is arguably one of the weaker mounted units you’ll end up with, especially if you recruit everyone. At least Ferdinand Von Aegir and Marianne make a cute couple.
- Ingrid – The jack-of-all-trades who can fill most any role you need her in within Three Houses and be at worst above average at it. Too bad she’s a walking Avenue Q song.
B: Amusing One-Note Characters…and Hubert
Units: 18. Raphael, 17. Hilda, 16. Ashe, 15. Hubert, 14. Catherine
Okay, I get it. Raphael just eats. Hilda is lazy and cunning. Ashe just screams LORD LONATOOOOOOOO mournfully. Catherine kills people for the Church. They’re all boring on the surface. But they’re much more than that if you get into their supports. Raphael is a giant (literally) sweetheart who just wants to eat and train his muscle so he can protect those he loves. Ashe is a former orphan and thief who is kind and pure to everyone he meets. Catherine kills people for the church, but she does so with nails painted whatever color her secret life-partner Shamir asks her to9. Hilda is lazy and cunning and…well, it’s funny how much she can convince other people to do work for her10. Plus the fact that she chants for herself after winning a battle won me over. Hubert is evil. That’s his gimmick. Except when he’s not, which you don’t really learn about unless you play routes other than the Black Eagles route. I really like the way Three Houses chooses to limit what you know about characters based on what story you’re playing. Hubert is interesting in that you actually learn more about him if he isn’t part of your team than if he is. I can’t say I’ve ever encountered a non-villain character whose story we learn quite like that in a game before.
B+: Child Abuse is Wack
Units: 13. Bernadetta, 12. Edelgard
Full disclosure: If I liked Lysethia more, she’d 100% be in this category too.
Holy fuck, Three Houses does not shy away from child abuse as backstories for characters. Bernadetta’s was dark enough that the most recent DLC patch actually had to tone it down some. Meanwhile, Edelgard is essentially a massive science experiment gone right…and yet it basically destroys who she is. The tragic backstories make Bernadetta and Edelgard who they are, both for better and for worst. While they aren’t my favorite characters in the game, they are two of the best-written characters. They’re a major reason why I’m glad I played the Black Eagles route as my first run, as it made me much more understanding of how the rest of the game’s routes played out.
A: I Don’t Have a Good Title for This Tier
Units: 11. Linhardt, 10. Felix, 9. Male Byleth, 8. Female Byleth
Linhardt is basically the one-trait character turned up to 11. The dude’s sleepy. He has so much he wants to learn, but he just needs a nap. He’s my entire mood some days. Felix is a tsundere Domino’s delivery driver trapped in a medieval swordsman’s body. The two Byleths also make this tier because they’re so important to the story and some of the best units in the game. The thing is, they’re basically wordless characters. Yes, their story is interesting, but their character itself isn’t, keeping them from a higher ranking. Bylass gets a slightly higher ranking than Boyleth because her pre-timeskip outfit is attractive. I’m not above being pandered to11.
A+: More Than Meets The Eye
Units: 7. Mercedes, 6. Petra
Major spoilers for Mercedes here. Her brother is the Death Knight. You don’t learn this fact unless certain conditions are met. But if you do learn it and you’re playing the Blue Lions route, holy hell does it add a ton of depth to her story. One of the weird things about Three Houses is that you can have quite a few characters fight/potentially kill people they’re close to over the course of the run. And while many of them are torn about it, most of them do it without questioning it, only having second thoughts after the battle. Mercedes has her mental blue screen of death IN BATTLE with the Death Knight…potentially several times over, depending on how you play each level where he appears. This really sold me on a character I started out not liking. Petra is basically a hostage who could kick the asses of everyone she needs to in order to get free. The thing is, she stays at the Officers Academy as a way to help keep the peace between Adrestia and her home nation of Brigid (which is a vassal state of Adrestia). Many of her endings make her queen of an independent Brigid, which is one of the best feel-good endings you can get in the game.
S: The Ideal Buddy Cop Film
Units: 5. Dedue, 4. Claude
Dedue is the straight-laced behemoth of a man who just wants to protect Dimitri from all harm in the world. Claude is the joking trickster who loves nothing more than a good prank. I would watch the hell out of Fodlan 911 with these two on the police force. Plus both characters are more complex characters than you’d think. Dedue is an amazing chef. Claude just wants to go full Aladdin and show you the world. Dedue struggles with direct racism being a foreigner in a land he’s less than welcome in. Claude is hellbent on breaking the walls down between Fodlan and the outside world. Dedue’s sacrifices in every non-Black Eagles path make me wonder whether Dimitri is the deserving leader of his nation. Claude’s voice actor has the best Twitter account…and he writes books with the best taglines ever. You cannot go wrong with either of these two.
S+: The (Un?)Holy Trinity
Units: 3. Dorothea, 2. Shamir, 1. Annette
The gap between the units in the S+ tier and the S tier (at least in my mind) is bigger than you’d think. Don’t get me wrong, Three Houses is filled with some amazing, compelling characters. But these three take the cake. Dorothea, in addition to being the smoothest flirt you will ever come across in a game, manages to deliver the single saddest monologue in the game if Ferdinand Von Aegir dies battling against your army. She is arguably the game’s canon Dancer unit, but she’s versatile enough that you’re not stuck using her that way. Plus her supports are so good that you’ll want to recruit her on every run — not to mention the fact that she’s the only female character that pretty much every female can have a romantic paired ending with. Shamir is more than just an attractive assassin. She’s the best non-student unit you can get in all paths of the game, with only Catherine giving her a run for her money (and you’re locked out of recruiting her in certain paths). Plus her S-support with Byleth involves her coming up with wedding vows on the spot, which goes to reinforce how smart and caring her supports make her. That said, the best character in the game is Annette. She’s everything Shamir is in terms of a fighting unit, only without the over-the-top sex appeal. She’s caring to a fault and makes up the best songs in the game even though she isn’t a particularly good singer. We must protect War Goddess Annette at all costs.