I just finished my Black Eagle Edelgard route run on Hard/Classic and just wanted to leave some of my thoughts on the characters I used. Due to the nature of the route, I probably had the least characters available to use and I'll probably go back to my branching save and play through church to get some opinions on characters I couldn't use fully, and then wait until Lunatic comes out to begin another campaign (thinking GD) TLDR/Intro: I take the belief that this is a very player phase focused game, relying on attacking out of range/repositioning with Canto on mounted ranged high damage units while having tankier units keep enemies away from your high damage units. My general impressions are that magic can be pretty overpowered, but you can really only have 2 since they must use the relics that increase magic range (Thyrsus, Caduceus) and they don't deal damage to late-game monsters that are immune to magic damage pre-armor break. I think spell lists really dictate which spellcasters are more useful over anything else. Other than that, mounted characters that can reposition after attacking are very useful for minimizing damage (Flyers > Bow Knights > other mounts) for offensive units. The fact that the unique classes for MC and Edelgard weren't mounted made them harder to use, but they still ended up decently strong. I typically always have a dancer and healer unit for support, and I initially chose based on how much utility they can provide, but throughout hard mode there were often situations that they would need to take at least one attack, so having high enough HP/Spd is crucial and I would imagine even more so in harder difficulties. My 10-unit comps always ended like this: MC, Edelgard, 2 Offensive Magic, 2 Flyers, Dancer, dedicated healer, 1 bow knight, and 1 filler mounted unit (bow knight/dark knight/great knight). I ended up not using combat arts/gambits much because I preferred the damage of doubling, but I can see how experimenting with them might change my opinions on some units, particularly elevating slower ones. I also never used Brawling, but from what I saw from the enemies that used it, I have little interest in it. Characters not recruited: Dmitri, Dedue, Sylvain, Ashe, Claude, Hilda, Raphael, Seteth, Cyril, Catherine, Gilbert S-Tier (Essential) - Dorothea (Mercenary --> Warlock --> Mortal Savant): Glass cannon mage archetype. Theoretically, she is just an okay unit (not so great growths, doesn't have a crest), but she did get MVP on more than half of my battles. She had high Mag/Spd in my run to double units/oneshot them, had better movement than other casters as a Mortal Savant (Gremory not too useful for her since she doesn't have a lot of white magic utility, though I really like Psychic), and having Thoron/Meteor/Agnea's Arrow offensively allowed her to be very flexible. Maybe spending time in Mercenary helped with her Spd growth (made her Merc for Vantage, but I didn't really didn't need it on her since she was never in range to be damaged). Her personal ability was very convenient for early game, an area where magic classes are usually lacking, and her sword capability quickly let her use Levin Sword+ for early 1-3 range (she also gets Thoron early for additional range as well). I could see her dipping into lower tiers with RNG (relatively poor growths) and less investment though, but mages with the additional magic range are immediately S-tier IMO and Dorothea is a great choice with her Black magic spell list (and Psychic). - Lysithea (Mage --> Warlock --> Gremory): Glass cannon mage archetype. She will probably consistently be one of the best units in the game. She got a bit Spd screwed in my run so it took a while before she came online, but she started one-shoting a lot of units before she could double them anyway. She probably has the best spell list in the game, her growths are perfect for a mage glass cannon, she comes with two crests (though one is not so useful since I never used combat arts with her), and her ability makes her master skills so quickly. Could see her as being a good choice for mortal savant with Thunderbrand, but she came a bit too late to raise her sword, and Gremory does give an additional cast of Warp (also didn't get Thunderbrand since didn't have Catherine). A-Tier (Great units, minor flaws) - Byleth (Merc --> Hero --> Warrior --> Enlightened One): Hero Archetype. So a bit of context, when I was planning builds for this game I was more focused on getting abilities from mastering classes. I felt abilities were OP in Awakening and Fates and was under the impression that Byleth would be the most flexible character to get them. Turns out, if you want to spend time recruiting/training your students (my preferred way to play, one of my favorite things to do is the recruit everybody even if don't use them), it'll be pretty hard for Byleth to gain skill experience required for the certifications. So my plan for him to have Vantage/Wrath/Lifetaker went out the window and next time I would just focus on his sword talents. Regardless, Byleth still held his own, with getting 1-2 range weapon very early on and still doubling units later into the game. Could have greater potential if more optimized, but with my team composition, he ends up being one of the tanks for my more powerful ranged units. - Petra (Merc --> Wyvern Rider --> Wyvern Lord): If a swordmaster could fly archetype. She ended up with 50 spd in my playthrough. Petra ended up being a doubling monster could oneshot units and relied on evasion to dodge counterattacks. In past games Wyvern lords were pretty tanky but that's not the case with Petra, but it wasn't too bad since she could reposition with Canto if she got hit. I ended up giving her some Dex boosting items since she had some difficulty hitting with axes, but she could reliably go ahead, take care of squishy units, then reposition out of the way so the enemy can't retaliate. She's a bit too squishy though, so I often had to retreat after getting hit once. - Ingrid (Pegasus --> Paladin --> Falcon): Pegasus Knight arcetype. She ended up being very balanced with high stats all around, but lacking a little in Str. Wasn't too much of an issue in hard as she could one shot squishier units, but I could see how she can turn out a lot worse with some RNG. I tag team her with Petra, letting Ingrid focus on magic enemies since she took no damage from them and tanking shots for Petra if she couldn't far enough away with Canto. She's a very good well rounded unit, but I feel like she's hampered by not being min-max. - Leonie (Cav --> Paladin --> Bow Knight): If an archer was buff and speedy at the same time archetype. I got Leonie pretty late because the B-tier support was locked until certain events transpired and I was not about to train Byleth in lances. But she ended up being a stud anyway. I feel like archers in this game can be pretty OP because Bow Knight naturally gives +2 range AND Canto, letting you reliably attack without retaliation. The major drawback of a lot of archers in this game is that they are hindered by low damage, which was not a problem with her due to her abnormally high Str. She's also not even squishy, she had like 30 Def by end of game. Would be S-tier on GD, but availability hinders her on other routes since you really can't rush recruiting her unless you want Byleth to train in lances. - Edelgard (Merc --> Warrior --> Fortress --> Emperor): Hector archetype, but not as good. I always though that Edelgard should be really strong, but a lot of things must not have went my way during my playthrough. She ended up with 15 speed at the end of the game, which is hilariously bad but shouldn't be too concerning since she is an armored lord and shouldn't be taking damage. But swordmasters in the later levels were still taking out 1/3 of her health every time and she didn't do enough damage to consistently oneshot them back. My build for her ended up doing wonders for most of the game, having vantage and wrath allowed her to take out opponents before they can attack, and Pavise helped her survive a lot of melee attacks. She's theoretically a great unit with good growths, two crests, unique weapon, etc. But unfortunately she didn't scale very well into late-game for me. B-Tier (Role Players) - Ignatz (Archer --> Sniper --> Bow Knight): Actual archer archetype. Ignatz doesn't look very good on paper, but he worked out pretty well when I played him. His personal skill helped out a lot with max range bow attacks, where you can reliably use it to attack out of range (largely 90-100 hit chance opposed to 70-80 from Leonie). Like a typical archer, his Str held him back from dealing damage to tankier targets, but he was definitely useful to chip away at targets to allow characters like Byleth and Edelgard to kill enemies without retaliation. I would say he's very reliable due to how his personal skill synergizes with Bow Knight, one of the strongest units imo, but he isn't spectacular in any way. - Hubert (Merc --> Paladin --> Dark Knight): Tankier mounted mage archetype. I have to admit, I really screwed up Hubert's build, so much so that he wasn't usable for the majority of the game (I didn't invest in Reason and couldn't change him to Dark Knight until the final two chapters). The correct thing to do would've been to stick to magic classes. The fact that I screwed up so much but he was still useful in the last two battles speaks to how good of a unit he should be. Perhaps with the proper investment, he would've taken Dorothea's place as the most useful unit in my playthrough: his stats are better and dark knight gives him more mobility. But having played with Dorothea carrying my team, it's a hard argument to make, and you only have 2 items that increase magic range (and you definitely want Lysithea using one of them). - Ferdinand (Merc --> Paladin --> Fortress --> Great Knight): Speedy Tanky Knight archetype. Ferdinand to me is a very well balanced unit. His skill aptitude made it very easy to get certifications for skills I wanted for a tanky unit (Vantage, Pavise, Aegis), but he will not be as tanky or do as much damage as Edelgard. He has more mobility as a great knight and actually got enough speed to double a lot of units at end game, but he doesn't seem to excel in any particular area, making him good to take a couple of hits, particularly if he is at full health and is hiding in evasion boosting terrain. He mainly fills the role of another tank on my team, maybe units like Sylvain or Hilda can be used in his place. - Manuela (Priest --> Bishop --> Holy Knight): Healer/Utility archetype. Manuela is a character with pretty good stats/growths and a good spell list (Warp/Silence/Bolting if you get her Reason to A). Unfortunately, she's all over the place. It feels like her stats/growths/skills are split between making her a pegasus knight and a healer, so she'll never be truly optimized. She might make a pretty good dancer if she could become one, but I'm not sure if that's possible. Anyway, her spell list provides a lot of utility so she makes a great choice to fill in as a healer and her stats do make her strong enough to not get one-shotted by enemies that do manage to attack. C-Tier (Unrealized Potential) - Bernadetta (Archer --> Bench): Archer archetype. I was using Bernie as my primary archer early on, and theoretically I think she may be better than Ignatz. Archers typically suffer from not doing enough damage, her personal skill gives +5 atk when not at full health. Additionally she has a creat that sometimes allows her to attack multiple times, and her skills make it much easier for her to get that riding and lance skill levels for Bow Knight. Unfortunately she felt too frail, as in when she couldn't really survive two hits to take advantage of her passive ability. Maybe with investment she can really shine, and I will consider recruiting her if I need another bow knight in addition to Leonie. - Linhardt (Priest --> Bench): Healer/Mage archetype. Linhardt ties Lysithea with having 10 learned spells, the highest in the game. He has access to Warp and Psychic on the white magic side, which provides pretty good healing and utility. However, his 5 black magic spells lack variation, and he ends up being a bit too frail/slow in case an enemy slips by and doubles him. I could see how he could fit in as your healer (his crest sometimes gives him extra healing power), but I ultimately went with Manuela as mine, as she has higher speed and health for survivability. D-Tier (Just Bad) - Annette (Mage --> Dancer): Mage/Rally archetype. I theorized that Annette could have pretty good utility as a rally bot/dancer. Her personal skill already gives her rally str, so I figured leveling Authority for more Rally skills and making her a dancer could be a good idea. Don't get me wrong, it worked out but I ended up not needing to rally too much in this game, as I valued dancing much more (re-positioning, extra damage). And anyone can be a dancer. Her problems are her terrible HP and Spd, making her a goner if enemies manage to attack, and her spell list is not that great either. She probably makes for the best Rally bot in the game, but unless that is useful on harder difficulties, I would never use her again. - Caspar (Brigand --> Bench): Brawler archetype. Caspar is pretty well optimized to become your Brawler. Unfortunately, he was just okay before trying out brawling, and once I tried out brawling it just wasn't very good. Brawling IMO is good on slower units with high STR to get in a double with fists and a follow-up with Warmaster mastered ability. Caspar is not that slow, and his other stats don't make him particularly strong or tanky. I also don't feel a need for Warmaster as a class since it's not great vs tankier units, and would rather have high mobility units attack the squishier ranged units (may change with more experimentation). You could make Caspar a Wyvern Lord, but I bet he'll just be worse than Petra. Characters recruited but ended up not using much (Doesn't mean they're bad, but likely are unless otherwise noted) - Flayn (Priest --> Bishop --> Effectively Benched): Healer/Utility archetype. I probably would've had Flayn in my main party as a healer if I could use her. She is effectively the only unit in the game that could use Rescue, and I could see how Foritfy would be useful for healing a lot of units at once. The main problem would be her HP/Spd growth, I would need to keep her far far away from enemies if I wanted to use her. Even so, I could see myself trying to make her a Germory for extra utility uses or a Dancer. I would tentatively put her high B-tier. - Marianne (Priest --> Bench): Healer archetype. She was an option for my healer unit. She is pretty well optimized to become a Holy Knight, and has some pretty good spells like Psychic, Silence, and Thoron. I went with Manuela though because she ended up tankier, faster, and had Warp. I woudl tentatively put her low B-tier/high C-tier. - Felix (Myrm --> Bench): Swordmaster/Assassin (RIP) archetype. I could see how he could be a great early game unit, but I didn't recruit him in the early game. His passive effectively lets him do +5 damage in the early game where battalions were weaker, his crest occasionally lets him do more damage, and his relic occasionally mitigates incoming damage. If there was a master swordmaster-type class in this game, he could carry into end game, but unfortunately mortal savant doesn't do that for him. It's seemingly a good fit with his hidden talent in reason, but he only learns 2 black magic spells. From what I experienced so far, dodge tanking is also not that great in this game, which is unfortunate as I like those types of characters from older games. I can see how he can definitely carry the BL early game in Lunatic+ though, so he'll definitely be useful. I'm considering trying out dancer Felix though, with sword avoid stats and damage mitigation he might definitely survive pretty well and transition into late-game as a utility role. I would tentatively put him high B-tier just because his early game is so good. - Shamir (Sniper --> Bench): Archer archetype. I wish I spent more time with Shamir. She came pre-promoted as a Sniper (pre lvl 20) with very good bases, but to me her growths seemed like it'll be tough for her to survive any hits. I had to use her once for a Paralogue and she held her own though. I would tentatively put her high C-tier. - Lorenz (Cav --> Bench): Paladin/Magic hybrid archetype. I feel like he could make a pretty good Dark Knight. As a cavalier he certainly held his own when I had to play though his paralogue, I would be a bit concerned about his magic growth if he does go down that route. Definitely recruit him for his paralogue though, that +2 mag range staff is too good. Tentatively mid to low B-tier. - Alois (Warrior --> Bench): Brawler archetype. Bad growths, got him too late, no time to use. Tentatively D-tier. - Mercedes (Bishop --> Bench): Healer archetype. I feel like she could be a great healer, her passive skill makes it so she's self sufficient in healing herself and her stats seem like they will just let her survive. She doesn't have a lot of variability in her spells (a lot of 1-2 damage black magic, a lot of healing and not other utility for white magic), but I don't know if she needs more than that. Would've probably used her over Manuela. Tentatively mid to high B-tier. - Hanneman (Mage --> Bench): Mage archetype. Has a relatively easy path to dark knight, but his very low speed growth is a detriment to what would normally be a damage carry role. He does have pretty good variety of spells though (Thoron, Meteor) so I could definitely see a world in which he's useful. Tentatively low B-tier high C-tier.