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FashionEmblem

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  1. So, I never disputed that bows are better alternatives, just that I personally don't like equipping bows on everyone. I made it through Maddening several times without widely distributing bows, which means the alternatives for range are good enough, but that doesn't affect whether bows are still better. "Ideology" implies I'm spreading some pretty strong ideas and strongly seeking conformity with them. My statements at the top: don't particularly qualify me as an ideologue. I also already agreed with your earlier points about the gimmicky nature of hybrids, which we mutually acknowledged: That's precisely it. I find this to be a needless extravagance and a massive waste of time and investment that I could have spent investing in stuff that was actually worth investing in. And for what? For my physical units to do nothing that my dedicated mages couldn't already do? I'd be better going all in on physical with someone like Byleth than having them try to fulfill some half-assed magic knight role terribly. So, you don't have to agree with me here and I am not trying to push an ideology onto you. You highly value the investment it takes to get these builds off the ground, making them not a worthwhile pursuit. And, for the most part, that investment makes it difficult to achieve them outside of NG+, which is something I have also acknowledged since starting this thread, Regarding how "sensical" my argument may be, I think the pros and cons have been laid out already about the general points, and at this point it's a matter of evaluating the net benefit. However, that does not mean there is a solitary acceptable "sensical" conclusion since any evaluation will be affected by your underlying value judgements. I mentioned it already, and I would not have made this thread otherwise, but even if they are considered "gimmicks" or "extravagant" I enjoy these builds, so I do value them despite the investment hurdle. You are, of course, welcome to disagree. While it is true that the stat destination does not equate to the journey, for that to be relevant to her hit stat there would have to be a point when Annette discretely shoots up in Dexterity/Luck while the other characters don't experience a similar increase in Dexterity. If that moment happens later in the game, then there is a gap where her hit stats are notably shakier before eventually catching up. However, assuming similar class progressions serves as an experimental control, as it fixes class growths and stat boosts, reducing the chance of such a divergence after everyone is on a Wyvern. One could occur if Annette got a Dexterity/Luck base stat boost with the Wyvern Lord promotion at level 30 which other characters miss out on, but the Wyvern Lord has rather low base Dexterity and Luck which Annette will, on average, exceed before level 20, let alone level 30. The other possibility is just RNG one may experience, but I was just talking about average stats here. And yes, Annette gives up accuracy in exchange for power when going from spells to axes. That's pretty much the nature of the game; more power comes at the expense of accuracy in general. I'll consider her strongest spell, Excalibur which has 11 MT, relative to Bolt Axe 14 MT and Crusher 18 MT. For this section I will assume Dark Flier Annette vs. Wyvern Annette, so both attacks are supported by a class -faire and both units enjoy flier mobility and similar battalion access. At 100 hit, Excalibur does have 40 more hit relative to these axes, and the power differential isn't very high for Bolt Axe, but sizeable for Crusher. However, there are ways to mix up this trade-off. I can use the Smash combat art with the Bolt Axe or Crusher, with the resulting hit differential reduced to 20, and the MT differential increased by 3, both in favor of the axes, though now I'm stuck attacking in melee. I can use the Dust combat art with Crusher, resulting in no change to hit, but now a staggering 20 additional MT on Crusher. There are also a couple of things I can do that boost hit on both attacks but are more valuable in patching up the weaker hit of axes than getting overkill accuracy on her spells: Hit +20 and Accuracy Ring (+10 hit), which together close/almost close the accuracy gap with her spells. Hit +20 is a bit of a diversion into D+ Bows with a bow bane, but if you highly value hit, then the reward seems worth it. And before countering that the same accuracy is achieved by spells without the investment in bows, consider that you can have both the power of axes alongside hit comparable to spells. It's also worth noting that while the Accuracy Ring can be applied to Annette's black magic as easily as axes, she also likes having Caduceus/Thyrsus equipped for range and can't do both simultaneously. Meanwhile, the Bolt Axe+ is always 1–3 range. Moreover, even though Excalibur has a small power differential with the Bolt Axe, you can only use it 4 times per map. After that you're stuck using spells that are generally much weaker. Abraxas might be an option that has 90 hit and is stronger at 14 MT matching the Bolt Axe, but there's an implicit 5 MT differential due to generally lacking a class -faire and if you don't equip Faith Prowess alongside Reason Prowess, the hit advantage drops from +30 to +10 relative to an equipped Axe Prowess. You can, of course, get access to more of Excalibur with Warlock and Gremory, but then you are sacrificing a lot of mobility for the privilege. Annette also has a lot of utility as a rally bot, and she really appreciates as much mobility as she can get for that. Finally, if you really value accuracy, then I don't think I'm going to convince you otherwise because Annette has a very accurate spell list and axes are inherently inaccurate. I already explicitly laid out my risk tolerance, which is that anything above 70% displayed hit is generally worth taking a swing. 70% is quite low for a game with perma-death, but it's really the Divine Pulse feature that encourages that level of gambling. Beyond that, I will usually value more power. With Annette, in particular, I find her black magic power underwhelming beyond 4 uses of Excalibur, so I would rather get more spammable power from axes. I prefer a KO at 70+% accuracy from Wyvern Annette than consistent chip damage from a mage Annette.
  2. This is true, but it does make it more limited outside Golden Deer if you aren't recruiting. Ignatz is pretty much a free recruit, requiring Authority you want to build up anyways, but Marianne, whose paralogue does the most for making Wootz Steel available, does require investing in her support or Byleth's magic and Riding. The other thing I want to mention is that forging a brave weapon costs 3 times as much material than merely repairing them. How many forged brave weapons you can get in a playthrough will depend on recruitment and breaking the enemy barriers, and how many you are using in parallel that end up needing durability increases. However, if you are using Swift Strikes, Hunter's Volley, and Point-Blank Volley then the importance of Brave Lances and Bows goes down. Using Thunderbrand also relieves the need for Brave Swords. So, Brave Axes probably do end up being the best target for dedicating the resources to forging rather than merely repairing them. Since my Dark Knight Sylvain still ends up doing most of his combat as an off-brand Paladin with Swift Strikes, I pick up only Death Blow and not Fiendish Blow. I'd rather pick up Hit +20 for him than Fiendish Blow as an additional intermediate class mastery so he can more consistently use higher MT lower hit weapons (he'll be more dependent on them due to the lost power relative to Paladin's Lancefaire). His magic still does alright against low resilience enemies without Fiendish Blow, their resistance is actually just that low. He's not going to one round nearly as well as a decently speedy strong mage because these enemies typically have too much HP for that, but he does good work if my better mages are busy doing other stuff on the map. In general when I use hybrid builds they are still emphasizing one form of offense over the other, and the corresponding -Blow skill. The motivation to use them in this suboptimal way is usually some added utility (e.g., a spell list including something neat like Physic, Rescue, Seraphim, etc.), but they can still use the worse attacking stat if their opponents defenses are sufficiently asymmetric to favor that. My argument is that even if Wyvern Annette has hit problems, that's more about axes as a weapon type in general, so while magic hit factors in a luck stat typically lower than dexterity, many axe focused characters don't have much dexterity backing up their physical hits either. I'm not going to do the exhaustive arithmetic at the moment, but I will compare Annette's stats against the other Blue Lions with axe proficiency. I will also toss in Seteth since he joins you in the route no matter what. Class progression is pretty straightforward, just assuming Fighter>Brigand>Wyvern Rider>Wyvern Lord at the earliest possible levels for most everyone, with Annette substituting Monk>Mage before Wyvern Rider and Seteth joining as a base Wyvern Rider. I'm comparing everyone as a level 40 Wyvern Lord at the end of the game. I pulled up the average stats of characters here: https://fe3h.com/average_stats Annette: 28 dexterity and 19 luck, averaging to 23.5 for magic hit. Dedue: 19 dexterity Sylvain: 20 dexterity Ashe: 30 dexterity Seteth: 28 dexterity My take away here is that Annette has the dexterity of the more accurate axe proficient units, but luck on par with the dexterity of the least accurate axe units. Since magic hit averages the two, she'll be somewhere in the middle between these. Quickly glancing at growth rates, seems like Annette will likely be less accurate than Petra, similar to Edelgard (her high 45% dexterity growth does need to overcome a low 5 base stat), and more accurate than Hilda. Cichol Wyverns is an A rank battalion, which I find challenging to reach without a proficiency due to my priorities. Unfortunately, none of the widely accessible classes give a bonus to combat gain in authority. Since authority isn't required for promotion, it's usually the weapon rank I tend to raise at the end once everything else is addressed. End result I found was a bunch of characters who got up to B/B+ authority, but did not quite make it across the finish line to A authority. I find who gets Cichol Wyverns will thus end up being a question of whom I made a flier with an authority boon. Suppose I use both Byleth and Seteth as fliers, that makes them very likely candidates to hit A authority and equip this battalion. If I use Hilda instead of one of them as my flier, then she will have a tough time getting access to Cichol Wyverns, even if she really benefits from both the physical attack and hit boost. Annette is hardly a great use of the +7 physical attack, but she does have an authority boon and has notable rally utility providing additional merit to training her Authority, so maybe she usurps the hit boost of the battalion because physical fliers are lacking the authority. Beyond that, I think it's a general matter of risk tolerance and moral hazard which affects pretty much all units in the power vs. accuracy trade-off: axes are less accurate and more powerful than other weapons, within weapon types silver weapons are stronger but less accurate than iron, etc. My risk tolerance is such that I'm fine with a displayed hit rate above 70% if I'm not dying in retaliation after a miss (for Annette, the 3 range of Bolt Axe+ helps remove the retaliation risk). I'm certainly not guaranteed to hit my mark, but with 2RN it's a gamble I'm willing to take. I'm also ok with 60–70% displayed hit if the risky play has a high enough upside (maybe it gets rid of one very annoying enemy opening up my offensive opportunities, or maybe my defenses are crumbling, and a Divine Pulse is getting used up after enemy phase if I miss the risky attack anyways). Below 60%, I'm definitely more inclined to just skip the maneuver. Moral hazard is the economic concept where if you are protected against the downside risk of behavior, then you're more likely to pursue the risky behavior; it usually comes up regarding insurance (e.g., does having car insurance make you inclined to more reckless driving?). Divine Pulse is a huge source of moral hazard in Three Houses once you unlock most of its charges. You so rarely need to use most/all of the uses that you can justify riskier plays that can just be trivially undone. Unfortunately, it's hard to imagine Three Houses without any Divine Pulse because the map design often employs surprises to add difficulty, assuming you can undo the surprise if it proves fatal to your strategy to avoid player frustration. Still, they give you too many uses outside a handful of maps (Chapter 13 is typically a lot of RNG and I use a lot of Divine Pulses there, for example) and the end result is moral hazard. In the early game magic weapons are hard to come by (you get a Levin Sword in a chest Chapter 6 and an enemy drop from Flayn/Seteth's paralogue, then I think no more until post-skip), and since Arcane Crystals don't open up until the middle of the time-skip they do not make particularly great early game ranged weapons. So, yeah, bows will definitely do better at this point. I know it's a very common Maddening strategy to put a bow on everyone to avoid damage since enemies are so strong, especially in the early game. I'm not sure why, but personally I never found it very appealing and, having not employed the strategy over a few Maddening playthroughs, it seems like it is not necessary either (mind you, by the time I did Maddening NG I had already beaten it with NG+, so the difficulty was tempered by fewer surprises, especially pre-skip). I'm pretty sure it's less efficient, but I'd rather distribute Javelins, Hand Axes, and magic weapons as appropriate to my units (notably, for swords that means all I have are Levin Swords and Sword of the Creator for range) and leave archery to the bow users. Only gameplay argument I can muster in favor of my preference is that your combat experience focuses on your eventual main weapon type, but that's a shallow argument when the early game is when you gain less experience— early classes give less weapon experience. Also, if bow combat experience eventually helps yield Hit +20, it was hardly a distraction/opportunity cost. To make a point in favor of the early Levin Sword at least, Byleth and Yuri do a great job dodge-tanking enemy armors after Axe Breaker, have high Charm to also dodge gambits, and thanks to Armored Blow do more enemy-phase damage with the Levin Sword than an Armorslayer. Magic weapons do typically have lower hit, but that difference can be offset partially if it matches a Prowess skill your unit is carrying for their main weapon (while they likely drop accessory bow prowess for other skills as class masteries unlock). In that situation, the Prowess also grants some avoid and critical avoid, should your unit end up exposed to enemy phase combat (however, in Maddening you should generally strive to avoid the situation outside Vantage + Wrath or Alert Stance dodge-tanking, regardless). I will counter-argue that I am focused on magic weapons more for post-skip usage. They become more available through forging, and that's after you have the chance to up base magic with promotions to Warlock/Bishop at level 20. Bows are certainly the lower-investment option, and investment might be what you value most highly, but the magic weapons do have upside with targeting resistance, being able to counter at melee by default (excepting Magic Bow), and being able to double at 3 range (excepting Long Bow having the same advantage off strength and Aura Knuckles stuck in melee). I already mentioned these aren't slam-dunk upsides on Maddening, but they do exist.
  3. The female professor doesn't really have an advantage in getting to D Flight (which is all it takes to recruit Ingrid), though. Like, conceivably, she could certify in Pegasus Knight with C Lances and E+ Flight, and boost her rank with the class. But that's more effort (and activity points) than getting her to D+ Lances, and D Flight, for the same odds. Either version of the Professor can get to D Flight through Faculty Training with equal ease, so I don't see this as a male/female distinction. It's not that male Byleth has a disadvantage getting his flight up, it's that he's less likely to prioritize it. You're usually aiming for 1-2 out of 3 skills in intermediate tier: Death Blow (Fiendish for mages), Hit +20, and Darting Blow. You're probably only going to master 1-2 of these in a single playthrough without significantly delaying an advanced class promotion. Male Byleth lacks access to Pegasus Knight, so you may just be focusing on training axes and bows in the early game. Moreover, if you never plan to make Byleth a flier, you might just not train flying. This logic also applies to female Byleth, but if you're deliberately using her for gameplay and not aesthetic purposes then early Pegasus, and thus early flight rank, probably factored into your choice. Chapter 6 is a great time for recruitment in general since units get those intermediate promotions and retroactive growths. If you wait too long after, you'll feel the pain of missed instruction time and harder time getting great intermediate skills. For example, Ingrid would want you to work on her axes pretty quickly to get Brigand's Death Blow and access to Wyvern Rider promotion (she really wants a certification at level 20 just in case her strength falls below the advanced-tier base stat). Only major exceptions that come to mind are Shamir/Catherine whom you want to recruit ASAP due to advanced classes (I think that's Chapter 4 for Catherine, but still 6 for Shamir) and units who have higher weapon ranks by joining as Monks or Fighters between Chapters 3 and 5 (e.g., out of house Bernadetta can join with D axes as a Fighter, easing the path to Death Blow), and Cyril because he always joins with bad Commoner class growths.
  4. I'd say female Byleth is preferable in the early game and male Byleth in the mid-late game. Byleth has a great strength base and a decent base speed combined with good, but not overwhelming, growths in both. That makes them into a good frontline unit early on, probably your best physical combatant outside of lords and Tempest Lance users (Byleth can also get Tempest Lance, after a bit). Female Byleth's main advantage is early flight with Pegasus Knight, which boosts her base speed and growth and eventually gets her Darting Blow. This also makes it easier for her to get into flying classes for the remainder of the game. It's worth noting that the early-game of NG Maddening is usually the hardest part since you have yet to unlock your best builds, so female Byleth's early game contribution is highly appreciated. Around the time-skip though, Byleth themself begins to suffer from a lack of a strong combat art. Enemy speed inflates on Maddening, so doubling becomes less reliable, even with Darting Blow, and I find that Byleth's strength just doesn't yield one-hit KOs. This is true for nearly every character, but some other characters can rely on combat arts like Swift Strikes, Point-Blank Volley, Vengeance, etc. to shore up their damage output. This is around when I think male Byleth gains an advantage in combat with access to Grappler and Fierce Iron Fist. Both Byleths could instead go into Sniper for Hunter's Volley, but they have no proclivity for bows and Grappler does offer more mobility for less range (Byleth still retains sword access for range with SotC or Levin Sword). Honestly though, both Byleths are good. Even if her damage output eventually gets outshone by other units with better combat arts, a flier female Byleth should, at worst, make a great Alert Stance dodgetank, particular since her high Charm allows for dodging gambits as well. Byleth usually ends up with the highest charm in my army by a good margin because the birthday tea parties easily net them +2 charm per month. And, with that earlier Pegasus Knight, Alert Stance just comes that much faster. Also, Falcon Knight access is determined in part by swords, so female Byleth has that as a lower investment Master Class option for continued flight. Finally, as mentioned elsewhere, free Sylvain is nice. Not only is Sylvain a potential Swift Striker, he also allows you to get Lance of Ruin early for free, which is very strong, albeit inaccurate. An earlier investment in flight also makes it easier to recruit Ingrid out of house, who is a great recruit starting at Chapter 6 thanks to the enemy Pegasus Knight growths applied retroactively.
  5. I'll stay true to my user-name and say more cosmetic options. The game eventually added the option for characters to wear variable outfits in infantry classes, but that option doesn't extend to mounts. The only options for mounted classes is to change outfits if the character had that class as one of their "canon" options. It's especially frustrating for characters who have a custom outfit in one mounted class, but not other ones. For example, apparently Petra can dress uniquely as a Wyvern Rider, but not a Wyvern Lord. To add insult to injury, when I watched Faerghast randomized playthroughs, I saw that units could keep special outfits on mounts. For example, a Pegasus Knight Yuri replaced one of the lords in the prologue, yet still wore his default commoner/Ashen Wolves pre-skip outfit in that class. So, something in the game code allows for this, yet the toggle was never fully provided to the player. Only motivation I can think of are clipping issues, which ... shrug, I would prefer to decide for myself is clipping is a deal-breaker (also, a bunch of characters already have their hair clip through the Gremory outfit anyways). Also, I would like to generally switch outfits for classes around. For example, I enjoy the Brawler design but really dislike the Grappler "armor;" the chains just strike me as gaudy. I would love the option to promote my unit into Grappler, then assign them to keep the outfit from Brawler. I'm sure it could also lead to some funny shenanigans by the players, such as a Fortress Knight clanking around while dressed as a generic Warlock.
  6. I now think that Paladin is a better advanced tier promotion for Hubert than Dark Bishop. Dark Bishop gets him ... 10 more uses of Miasma, innate Fiendish Blow (which can't be stacked with a mastered Fiendish Blow, nor are mages typically lacking in skill slots at level 20), Heartseeker (which has to work in conjunction with 4 movement), and Lifetaker (which isn't particularly helpful for a squishy mage who is usually dead if they see enemy phase combat). Paladin gives Hubert 8 move and Canto, he does good damage with Frozen Lance, and it helps him build riding rank on the way to Dark Knight. Pegasus Knight Annette also sounds fun after you've mastered Fiendish Blow from Mage (or instead of, if buying Fiendish Blow with NG+) I don't think his speed issues are any worse than Paladin Sylvain, though he does give up 1 Strength and class Lancefaire. He relies on Swift Strikes for player-phase damage so his speed isn't relevant there (the loss of 12 damage relative to Paladin does hurt though) but he will have issues with enemy-phase tanking when getting doubled a lot. Still, I find most everyone gets doubled in Maddening outside a specific speedster build (e.g., Assassin Yuri) and your best bet is dodge-tanking. In that case, Sylvain's best choice would be Wyvern Lord because he picks up Alert Stance+ with his Flying rank, though I'd say he's notably outclassed in that role by characters like Petra, Ingrid, and Ferdinand. Agreed, your hybrid will likely not match up in power against being specialized. It's more that occasionally the opportunity may present itself, as in your Pegasus Knight example; you might approach a map by splitting up your army, making your specialized units spread thin; or you're still attacking as primarily one type, but like having back pocket spell utility occasionally (e.g., Sylvain's Physic, Bernadetta's Rescue). No worries about being harsh, I've never used Hanneman nor intend to, so I was thinking rather off the cuff about a fists build for Hanneman. Agreed that Sniper with Magic Bow is much better than fists thanks to the lower investment, but fists do provide, in theory, another way around his atrocious speed to increase his damage output relative to a mage class. If you make him a Brawler to boost his gauntlet proficiency as an adjutant, at least that also turns him into a Guard Adjutant. Hanneman as a mage really doesn't work for me because he lacks utility in his spell list. Anyone in my army can kill things, but only my units in magic classes can also provide utility in Physic, Warp, Rescue, and Restore (and, more niche, Silence and Fortify), which Hanneman gets none of. His Reason spell list is nearly identical to Dorothea's, but notably he misses Physic on the Faith side. Hanneman certainly hits stronger than Dorothea, but I do wonder if he ends up with issues killing armors if he can't double them with heavier spells, which I think is the one job a dedicated offensive mage should be able to do consistently (I've also had this issue with Hapi, for example, but she's also primarily my Physic/Warp bot). I find him outclassed by Dorothea in providing Meteor linked supports due to her support pool, and as a magical nuke by Lysithea and Constance who get Warp and Rescue, respectively. Also as a male mage he lacks access to useful magic classes: Gremory, Dark Flier, and Valkyrie. Warlock is great for using Meteor ... twice per map, otherwise you are stuck in 4 movement. I'm not sure why 4 movement bothers me so much more than the 5 movement of Gremory, but it does—also why I end up using Hapi over Linhardt, even if Bishop has innately stronger heals. Dark Knight as an ending point for Hanneman is fine thanks to the mobility boost, but I still find him overall unimpressive for the reasons I listed. I actually might rather use Dark Flier Dorothea even though she's much weaker, because flier (honestly, I almost always relegate her to Dancer Meteor support because of her power issues, but unlike Hanneman that niche gets her a spot on my team). A bit of a ramble on my part, but to summarize Hanneman's lack of magical support and speed makes me inclined to consider magic weapon builds that allow him to double. Sniper is the most obvious choice and easiest to build towards, fisticuffs could be fun but you have to work against his late join time. Honestly though, I never use him. Well, if he's not a dedicated bow-user, he probably doesn't waste a skill slot on Close Combat. In that case he's left completely vulnerable at melee range unless you use the Mini Bow. Maddening Three Houses is very player-phase focused outside Vantage/Wrath and Alert Stance tanking, so lacking the melee counterattack is usually not a big deal, but it is a difference (maybe you get a counter attack against a same-turn reinforcement you weren't planning against, or maybe the AI prioritizes that attack since you can't counter with a bow leading to death). Magic weapons also get 3 ranged combat when forged, and can still double when doing so, unlike Curved Shot. Maddening's inflated enemy speed also makes doubling hard, but Felix is actually quite fast. The extent to which you "gimp" a character depends on what else you are trying to do with them that you have to sacrifice as opportunity cost. A Grappler or Sniper Felix just has to focus on Gauntlets/Bows and Authority, after picking up Axes/Bows to D+ for Death Blow/Hit +20. He has a bane in authority to work against, but as such he's a good candidate to just get him up to C authority and equip him from a good battalion from that pool. For example, Felix makes a great candidate for the lord battalions once your lord has higher authority and can equip other good stuff. A War Master or Bow Knight Felix needs more weapon ranks, and will feel the opportunity cost of raising Reason more, so it becomes less appealing. Yeah, when you have your whole squad then diluting a character into a hybrid loses appeal fast because someone else can achieve the goal. I'd say the value changes depending on the maps and how much you split your army. Take the Fhirdiad map in Azure Moon where the game starts your army split in 3 sections and, especially on lower difficulties, encourages you to maintain the split (or 2/3 paths). I did that map on Maddening with a 3 army split in part because Sylvain could help against Armors on one path while I had Lysithea focused on breaking barriers of the Titanus in the middle. Sylvain gets Seraphim as well, so I could have flipped their roles and had an easier time against the armors, but it was also nice to do more damage to big monster HP pools off Lysithea's better magic. I bring up Fortress Knights because of the large disparity in their Defense vs. Resistance. You're correct that the typical hybrid unit won't have the magic stat to kill off other enemies with higher resistance, such as Paladins. Continuing to use Sylvain as my example, that's when he turns to Swift Strikes, which is also 95% of the combat he does anyways. It's a bit weaker than Paladin Sylvain (6 points per hit, not insubstantial), but if that strength differential went into overkilling, now I have a unit that can both kill consistently and provide occasional different utility such as Physic or Seraphim. Of course, I also have the flexibility to reclass him on a whim depending on what the map entails in Three Houses. So relative to mage Annette, Wyvern Annette trades off accuracy for power and some mobility (the mobility gulf is quite high for Warlocks and Gremories, but narrows for Dark Fliers and Dark Knights). I valued that trade-off because her accuracy was good enough under a 2RN system and she could actually get substantially more kills off the stronger axes than her unimpressive spell list. I find mage Annette ends up on the bench and Wyvern Annette does have a place in my army. I'm not sure Annette has substantially more hit issues than any other axe user? The hit formula is different, but magic also ignores terrain avoid bonuses; probably a good part of the reason Wyvern Annette did quite well for me in Chapter 13 with its many forested tiles. Maybe the issue is that you can't simultaneously boost magical attack and hit with battalions for fliers, unlike physical attack? That is true, no Macuil Evil Repelling Corps. for fliers, but like I said I stuck a physical battalion on her and she did fine despite that. I'm sure she could have appreciated more magic power from her battalion, but often time I think that gets shuffled into the overkill territory. She has an authority boon, and thus an easier time getting to Cichol Wyverns which substantially help Hit. Looking it up, these are some notable axe hit rates: Iron Axe+: 75 Silver Axe+: 70 Killer Axe+: 70 Brave Axe(+): 60 (70) Bolt Axe+: 60 Amyr: 60 Freikugel: 65 Crusher: 60 Honestly, a lot of axe users are slower and later game are going to end up relying on Brave Axes to secure kills on Maddening, which have the same hit as Bolt Axe+ and Crusher. Only counterexample that comes to mind is a Wyvern Lord Petra, who can double with an Iron Axe+, especially if supported by Darting Blow. But even she struggles when needing to use a stronger and heavier axe and dips into a Brave Axe as well. Although Brave Axe can be forged for 10 better hit, Wootz Steel is in limited supply, so you may not end up able to do so. Lots of axe boon character in Three Houses have a bane in bows, about half of them glancing at the list. I figured this was an intentional game-balance choice to disincentivize Hit +20 to ameliorate the main disadvantage of axes as a weapon type (the ones neutral/boon/budding talent in bows are mostly weaker speedier characters like Petra, or characters that won't end up using axes anyways like Claude and Ferdinand). In hindsight, I still think it's worth it to pick up Hit +20 despite that bane since D+ is not a very big investment. I would consider that a hybrid since she attacks off both strength and magic, but the disagreement here is just semantic. Dark Flier and Dark Knight Edelgard are also options that make use of her good spell list. I'm not convinced the power trade-off is worth it since it's rather substantial (Dark Flier loses 9 damage on physical axe attacks relative to Wyvern Lord) and her spell list doesn't have any support that appeals to me (Seraphim is cool for monster breaking, but I think Crimson Flower has you fighting a lot less monsters besides Chapter 17 and Hubert's paralogue). Still, I imagine there's a space for being able to run Edelgard's Luna spell, which is a niche only shared with Lysithea. Yeah, I've always had issues getting Manuela to work without NG+ and grinding, which is a shame because I really like her character. Inheriting S+ Swords from a previous file with broken weapon rank grinding (or, just clearing that playthrough on Normal difficulty for infinite grinding), alongside A reason and A faith and needed skills (Fiendish Blow, Darting Blow, Uncanny Blow, etc.) is probably for her best. She can use Levin Sword and Hexblade for her main combat, shoot off a couple of Boltings supported by Uncanny Blow, and has Warp and Silence utility. Even though I've set her up for mainly magic attack here, her strength stat probably doesn't end up much worse than in-house Ingrid if you want to put in some occasional physical work (Brave Sword is cool). It's a neat little package that is very hard to pull off with her late join and Reason bane. She loses some power, but I find Dark Flier a great class for her and the mobility, and Alert Stance synergizes well with her speed.
  7. I generally just focus on strength and magic, mostly strength. Usually fewer units demand magic, with increased Warp ranges being the number one goal. Strength just has to be high enough to ensure killing power. If you're the type focused on endgame and hoard stat boosters until then (it's generally better to use them throughout the campaign, but I'm personally guilty of the hoarding mentality myself): Edelgard can one turn the final boss of Crimson Flower with Raging Storm and some well placed crits. If you haven't used stat boosters yet, you can pump them all into her besides magic, particularly Strength, Dexterity, and Luck. Use Magic on warpers so they can get Edelgard close enough to the final boss. Dimitri's Battalion Vantage and Battalion Wrath build supported by the Retribution gambit is the best way to clear up the throne room of Azure Moon final map, filled with lots of strong enemies including siege tome mages. He benefits the most from Dexterity and Luck boosts to his crit and enough Strength to ensure clearing out the bulky ones after a crit. Use Magic on a warper so they can get Dimitri into the throne room. Lysithea's Luna spell is the best way to quickly end the final map of Verdant Wind, as it bypasses the boss' super high defenses. She'll need to stack on every single magic attack boost she can though, because he has quite high HP. Unfortunately, somebody else has to warp her in and they will also have demand for magic stat boosters, so it can get tricky.
  8. I usually don't go for Mortal Savant in general, as I find Dark Knight achieves a similar task, sword-wielder with magic access, and I prefer the tradeoff of more movement and canto to Swordfaire. Felix's spell list is certainly shallow, but Thoron, Recover, Restore is more than just nothing, I suppose. Nowadays I rarely run sword Felix honestly, running him as Sniper, Bow Knight, Grappler, or Warmaster instead. In a Maddening NG+ CF playthrough I just finished, I went Grappler but did use his Reason budding talent for the Warlock base magic and stuck a Levin Sword on him for range. It was actually fairly effective for the task of clearing out armors and generally being able to attack beyond melee, if needed. I had previously used Felix as a Bow Knight, so aside from Authority he didn't gain too much from NG+ bonuses. At the very end I was able to get him Movement +1, but it was a minor buff on Chapter 17 and its terrain (I one-turned Chapter 18 with Edelgard, making Felix's participation moot). This is certainly an option, though not one I used. I find it doesn't quite work because unlike swords, gauntlets, and white magic, Reason Prowess only gives you up to +10 avoid, instead of 20. Sylvain also isn't the fastest, particularly going through horse classes, so getting doubled a lot eats into how much avoidance luck he can muster. My main goals with Dark Knight Sylvain were actually form his Faith list, Physic and Seraphim. I like Seraphim because even though it doesn't hit hard off Sylvain's magic stat, it can still help break monster barriers without a gambit when they are not weak to lances and physic is generally nice. Otherwise, he was spamming Swift Strikes and doing his best Paladin impersonation. I gave Thyrsus and Caduceus to my dedicated mages instead, though occasionally I would trade Sylvain the Healing Staff to make those Physics more respectable. Yes they certainly can, though I treated that as outside the scope of hybrid since they probably don't use physical weapons much and won't get much of a strength stat beyond the 17 base strength on promotion to Sniper. Still, the canon Snipers also struggle to get much strength, so maybe they would be able to pull out a physical bow about as well. Another perk of the Magic Bow+ is 2-3 Range, so it doesn't suffer the hit penalty at 3 range. I haven't used Hanneman, but maybe Sniper and Grappler are just his best options. His support spell list is unimpressive with Recover and Ward, and while his Reason list has a lot going for it, I think the killing power is outclassed by Hunter's Volley and Fierce Iron Fist. If he ends up not dependent on Fierce Iron Fist, then War Monk is an alternative allowing him to use Aura Knuckles and have access to his spell list (e.g., Meteor linked attacks). Yeah, the post got long and I did not make an exhaustive list; I probably should have mentioned so explicitly. I focused on ones I had actually used and could speak better to. I did forget to mention in general that one of the nice things about magical combat artes is you can use weapon effects while attacking with magic. As in your example, anyone with Frozen Lance can mimic a melee Dark Spikes with a Horseslayer. I agree here. It might get lost in the formatting, but the parenthetical about Annette and Hapi was Armor Knight not Fortress Knight, a much lower investment. I brought them up specifically because they have boons or budding talents in axes, making it a bit easier for them to get there, despite the bane in Armor (they only need E+ for a chance at certification, which is 3 weeks, instead of 2 weeks, of passive instruction due to the bane). Of course, it is an opportunity cost for Hapi who primarily wants to rush her Faith proficiency for Physic and Warp as soon as possible and also would like some instructions to alleviate her Authority bane. Not really about hybrids, but Fortress Knight can be useful for characters with boons or budding talents in armor, especially if you are already planning to train axes. You pick up Weight -3 and Smite on the way to B Armor alongside the 17 defense. I also often end up doing it with Byleth just because I end up with lots of Monastery Activity Points and nothing better to do with them than train random weapon ranks for future playthroughs (with NG+, I only have to raise armor once to B in the series of files). There are actually some characters in Fates that can work in terms of stats for the hybrid role for those classes. Hayato has surprisingly good strength to make Basara work. Odin also has surprisingly good strength and actually fairly poor magic, so a switch to Samurai/Swordmaster (patching up his speed) or picking up swords as Dark Knight is neat. Unfortunately, both have to deal with the E rank hell I described. Leo has D rank swords at base and surprisingly good strength, but with his higher magic stat and Brynhildr there's little reason to use his physical weapons. I agree that many hybrids often have low stats that do not let them succeed in either role. Odin from Fates and Lorenz are good examples. Ingrid too, though at least she has a speed stat that can help set her up at least as a good dodge tank. That's actually why the hybrids I like tend to be units that are good physically but have magical utility in their back pocket, such as Sylvain and Bernadetta. Yep, that's exactly what I did. As I mentioned, these builds are fun but not particularly efficient and are often outclassed. Spread too thin is also why I bring up that it's much easier to pull off with NG+ because you don't have to do it all at once. I pulled up my NG Maddening AM playthrough where I did this, and I specifically went for a challenge run where I did not use DLC (i.e., no sauna), and at Chapter 22 my Sylvain ended up with A+ Lances, D+ Axes, A Reason, B Faith, B Authority, and A+ Riding. My main mistake here was not setting aside time to get him D+ bows for Hit +20 from Archer mastery, because I assumed he was spread too thin for that. These ranks did not involve particular use of the Knowledge Gem because I put them primarily on Dimitri and Dedue. I don't have the enemy stats in front of me for the armor effective weaponry vs. magic weapons, but anecdotally I have gotten these kills with magic weapons. I personally tend to specialize my units in a single weapon type, so lances, bows, and gauntlets have no real recourse against armor besides magic weapons (and for lances, effectively only in CF) or magic combat artes. For example, I have seen Sylvain unable to kill without a crit off Swift Strikes against Fortress Knights, but be able to one round them with Ragnarok (mind you, he can only do that once per map) or do a good chunk of damage with Bolganone, and magic also allows him to avoid Lancebreaker. Gauntlets also lack range so I have, for example, given a Levin Sword to a Grappler Felix—sometimes I just want him to get a kill from 9 tiles away instead of 7, and he can. Agreed that Felix's spell list is shallow and therefore there is not much to support with his budding talent. Personally, if I train Felix in reason it is purely for the base magic from the Warlock promotion to use magic weapons. Well, NG+ helps with the accumulation of Nuvelle Flier Corps opening up the options for more Dark Fliers, and not necessarily all Dark Fliers need a magic batallion. A Bernadetta Dark Flier, for example, for Physic/Rescue utility would still be best off attacking physically with Vengeance, and since battalions raise Magic Attack and not the base stat, it does nothing to increase her Rescue range so she has little need for it. Since I did not use DLC for that playthrough, I did just stick a physical flying battalion on Wyvern Annette and she did just fine. Her hit rates could be shaky at points, but I also didn't take any steps to mitigate that such as acquiring Hit +20 or Uncanny Blow (though Valkyrie would have been a big investment). Lightning Axe off an Iron Axe was usually a sufficient solution for her shaky hit rates and got a good number of kills. Actually, at least on Chapter 13, she was one of the better damage dealers because Byleth was waiting to activate Alert Stance and Dimitri was refilling his HP to allow dodge-tanking the hoards of speedy enemies. I mention it as an aside in one sentence because it exists but isn't particularly impressive. It actually is 2 points of magic better (and 1 point on Sublime Heaven) to go through Reason/Warlock instead, but it's also more investment without the boon/budding talent. Similar to Felix's budding talent in Reason, I use it to train faster for a stat boost on promotion, if at all. Ashe has a weakness in reason but is neutral in Faith so can work at a magic stat that way instead. I've generally been pleasantly surprised with Ashe's magic stat even without a promotion base stat. I think it's the confluence of his low strength, so his magic, while lower, still does good damage when targeting resistance, and the general power of Hunter's Volley. Cyril definitely has banes in both reason and faith. I think a Magic Bow Cyril either needs to get lucky off his 35% growth or needs NG+ so you can train his Reason despite the bane. I am happy to agree to disagree. If I may be so bold as to summarize your points, I believe you consider hybrid units to be outclassed high-investment gimmicks. I do not disagree with that assessment, but do think you can overcome the investment hurdle thanks to the game's features (particularly NG+) and I just find the outclassed gimmicks to be fun. Also, even though an individual hybrid build may sacrifice power for utility, you also build an entire team and might be planning to build in that power elsewhere in your deployment slots to justify the sacrifice. My Dark Knight Sylvain was a worse killer than Wyvern Lord Seteth and a significantly worse healer than Gremory Mercedes, but it was nice filling a single deployment slot with someone who could alternate between both roles as dictated by the tempo of battle.
  9. I generally agree with this list. Lysithea is still fairly frail as an enemy, so she can be easily dispatched with a brave weapon or combat art to avoid a painful counterattack off her enormous magic stat. I don't recall Ferdinand and Leonie being too difficult to deal with, but if you aren't expecting them they can cause trouble. Ferdie is usually called when overextending a flier to capture the ballista and open the chest in the north of the map, and Leonie emerges from the same spot on Crimson Flower allowing her to flank you with her mobility. If you aren't sending multiple fliers towards Ferdie in anticipation or left squishy units in Leonie's range, they can cause some pain. I'd add on the reinforcements from the north in Gronder Field, Chapter 17 of AM and VW: Sylvain and Hilda. With a ballista in the middle of the map that can spread silence you're probably having trouble moving your mages forward. Suddenly, if you weren't expecting it, a high-movement Paladin Sylvain or a super strong Warrior Hilda armed with Freikugel shows up in your rear ready to tear through those squishies (or, especially in Hilda's case, most anyone). Actually, Bernadetta manning the ballista on this chapter is also a frustrating non-recruit to deal with. You want to kill her off but also not remain on the central platform to suffer Edelgard's fire trap. You try a flier who can attack and canto out and realize she's one of the few enemy archers in the game with Close Counter. Out-ranging her with bows is hardly an option due to hit rate penalties. Your mage probably got silenced by her ballista before you got to her (maybe a good map for Bow Breaker, actually). And your horse units can do it but can't canto out due to the stairs.
  10. Hello, long-time lurker, first-time poster; hopefully I don't break any rules. I have a warm take that Three Houses does a lot to make hybrid builds more feasible than prior Fire Emblem games, but they are still underappreciated. I won't call this a hot take, because the consensus opinion that it's more efficient to invest in specialized units is not something I disagree with. It often takes a lot of investment to pull off a good hybrid build and Fire Emblem generally favors specialized units that require less input or have a higher/more certain payoff for the same input. Still, hybrid builds are at their best in Three Houses thanks to its mechanics: character-specific spell lists, class promotion base stats, weapon rank tutoring outside of battle, and New Game +. 0. What is a hyrbid? Hybrid refers to a unit that uses both their strength and magic stats in battle. Generally, units are best left using only one of the two stats, as their base stats and growths will naturally favor one. Since enemy resistance is usually lower than defense and magic offers better range than melee physical weapons, the typical hybrid unit will be a physical attacker with a sufficiently high magic stat to use a magic weapon, magical combat arts, or is promoted into a class with magic access (sometimes later in the game) but retaining access to their physical weapons of choice. In Three Houses, mages generally benefit from raising their strength stat as strength/5 is subtracted from weapon weight to determine attack speed. However, it is much rarer for a magic-focused character to actually use their strength stat offensively, because of the aforementioned advantages in targeting resistance and range, so I will not consider merely gaining a strength stat on a mage to qualify as a hybrid build. 1. Spell Lists Three Houses inherits the idea of spell lists from Fire Emblem Gaiden. Unit-specific spell lists are interesting because your best mages are often not able to fulfill every desired magical task on their own. For example, despite their great magic stats, none of Lysithea, Constance, nor Hubert make for great healers due to lack of Physic. Spells are also interesting in that they have limited uses but recharge every map, which prevents the common RPG hoarding problem. Spell lists favor hybrid units because occasionally a character will have a great spell list despite lacking a magic stat, encouraging you to invest in their magic. A great example is Bernadetta, who gets Physic, Rescue, and Thoron despite neutrality in reason and faith, 5 base magic, and a puny 20% growth. While centralizing the healing and rescuing role together, potentially freeing up a deployment slot for someone else, has its appeal, how are you supposed to use her effectively when her base magic allows for a 1 range rescue and her growth is taking her nowhere fast? 2. Class Promotion Base Stats Another mechanic inherited from Gaiden and its remakes, when a character promotes into a new class, their stats are elevated to the base stats of the new class, if needed. This can be used for a few tricks in Three Houses: 12 base defense for an Armor Knight promotion (easily attainable even for squishy characters like Annette and Hapi); 17 base defense for a Fortress Knight; 17–19 base strength from promoting to an advanced physical class (ensures base usability for low-strength physical characters and allows mages to offset weight); and, most importantly for this post, 17 base magic from Warlock and 15 base magic from Bishop. Although 15–17 base magic seems like a pittance relative to, for example, Lysithea's 11 + 60% magic, it's actually quite workable thanks to lower enemy resistance. There are several characters with decent magic growths, such as Byleth, Felix, and Sylvain, who can end up with usable magic if they correct for a low base stat with a promotion. Bernadetta learns Rescue at A-rank Faith, thus she is guaranteed 15 magic and at least a 3-range Rescue (and needs only 1 point for 4 range) at that point. 3. Weapon Rank Training Unlike other games in the series, notably Fire Emblem Fates, hybrid weapon ranks are much less of an issue in Three Houses thanks to the instruction system. In Fire Emblem Fates, several classes gain hybrid weapons on promotion: Dark Mages gain swords as Dark Knights, Wyvern Riders can now equip tomes as Malig Knights, Basaras gain lances or tomes coming out of Diviner or Spear Fighter, and Oni Savages gain tomes when promoting to Oni Chieftans. However, all of the new weapon ranks start at E, restricting usage to low MT weapons, most of which cannot crit nor activate skills. Fates is also stingy with weapon experience from combat and Arms Scrolls, also limiting the viability of any gained hybrid weapons. For Three Houses, however, it's straightforward to raise weapon ranks even without their usage. A Dark Knight Sylvain may have not set foot on the battlefield in a magic class until level 30, yet come equipped with his full spell-list. Of course, despite being easier than Awakening and Fates to have ranks, weapon ranks are still a problem in Three Houses. Instruction time comes with opportunity costs, and prioritizing magic instead of a unit's primary physical weapons might be a losing trade. Sure, Sylvain can toss a chip heal with Physic or help quickly break a monster barrier with Seraphim at B in Faith, but did it come at the cost of getting Swift Strikes (A lances) sooner? Bernadetta may be able to combine a chip Physic with a short-range Rescue at A in Faith, but did she have time to get Death Blow (D+ axes) , Vengeance (C+ Lances), Encloser (A Bows), and prep for her mid and endgame promotions (likely needing high ranks in Riding or Flying)? What about their authority and access to good battalions? 4. New Game + While discussions focused on efficiency will focus on Maddening NG since the highest difficulty helps separate out the best strategies, it is worth mentioning that despite unfocused weapon ranks being one of the primary deficiencies of a hybrid character, especially ones needing at least B+ in reason or faith by level 20 to gain a respectable base stat, NG+ resolves the issue. If you trained Bernadetta in a prior playthrough in Axes, Lances, Bows, Riding, and authority, it's no longer a stretch to train her in Faith and maybe put her into Holy Knight for that Rescue (or, even better, toss in some Reason and Flying for Dark Flier). While this does emphasize one of the limitations of hybrid units in a post promoting them, at least there is a straightforward in-game mechanic to address it. 5. What about mages attacking physically? I focused a lot on physical units gaining magical traits and not the reverse. A lot of that is the previously mentioned advantages in targeting enemy resistance, typically the lower defensive stat, and magic's range advantage. Felix has an amazing strength stat that will typically be much higher than his magic, even with a promotion to Warlock at level 20; however, he still might be able to do more damage to a high-defense Fortress Knight with a magic weapon, and more safely at range with all of them besides the Aura Knuckles. Lysithea's 17 strength after acquiring a promotion to Swordmaster does not particularly encourage her to use physical weapons compared to her 2–6 range magic, allowing her to attack safely despite her frailty. There are a few exceptions though. Annette, for example, has an unimpressive spell list with little utility (just Recover) and not much attack power, so she is better off getting on a Wyvern to focus on Lightning Axe, Bolt Axe, Crusher, and higher-mobility rallies. However, because Wyvern Rider gives her base 18 strength, Wyvern Lord gives +4 strength modifier, and class growths bring her up to 40–45% strength growths, she can end up with surprisingly good strength. For example, it wouldn't be surprising for a Wyvern Lord Annette to have higher strength than the canon Snipers: Bernadetta, Ashe, and Ignatz. Though she will typically get more damage off with magical axe attacks, she could occasionally equip a Brave Axe for a kill she might not otherwise get, such as a fast mage. 6. What about combat arts? Combat arts really open up the potential of hybrids further, particularly in Maddening where inflated enemy speed makes it difficult to double naturally. A Magic Bow combined with Hunter's Volley or Point-Blank Volley will do good damage off just a decent magic stat, and a bunch of archers have decent magic growths (Felix, Ashe, Ignatz, Cyril). Fierce Iron Fist and Aura Knuckles can work as well, though the low MT doesn't scale well with enemy resistance. Ingrid has fairly balanced and mediocre strength and magic bases (in-house) and growths, so she can use Frozen Lance to some effect. While Edelgard's spell list is interesting, with Luna, Hades, and Seraphim, the opportunity cost of Wyvern Lord is simply too high to justify the jump into spell-casting (Dark Flier misses out on Axefaire and 4 points of strength), but she does get Lightning Axe and a 45% growth (14–15 magic at level 20, on average, means she doesn't particularly need the magic rank for a base stat). Sublime Heaven adds 30% of Byleth's magic stat to its physical MT, the closest the game gets to Ignis from Awakening, which might be worth buttressing with a dip into Bishop thanks to their budding talent. In conclusion, are hybrid builds outclassed? Generally, yes. But there are plenty out there and Three Houses does a surprisingly good job making them feasible. Even on Maddening difficulty there's some room for experimentation (just make sure you aren't experimenting on too many fronts at once). If I was able to get a Dark Knight Sylvain to work on Maddening NG Azure Moon while not getting 17 base magic until the Dark Knight promotion at level 30 and him being strength screwed for a good chunk of the early time-skip, I'm sure you can get your hybrid build off the ground too.
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