Weapons are a core mechanic in Fire Emblem. Most games in the series have some sort of stat requirement to wield certain weapons.
In the GBA games and just about every release since, this has been Weapon Rank. But is that the best system, though?
I would argue that Weapon Rank is actually one of the worst systems that Fire Emblem has employed to restrict weapon usage. Weapon ranks level up by using a weapon of the corresponding type, but this takes forever to do and it means weapons gained on promotion tend to be pretty useless, because they start at such a low rank and it takes forever to boost that rank up. It's really tedious and restricts you to what you've already done the most of, which is really lame.
In Genealogy, weapon rank doesn't increase as you use weapons, it instead depends on class and holy blood. I think this allows for more precise balancing, at least in concept, and it means you aren't hitting things with an Iron Bow 100 times just so you can use a Killer Bow.
Gaiden did away with systems like this altogether and I don't think it broke the game or anything.
The last approach (which was actually the original approach Fire Emblem took) is Weapon Level. Weapon Level increased like strength or speed, which is to say, randomly on level up. Unlike Weapon Rank, weapon level applies to all weapon types a character can equip, so a character with high weapon level can immediately use high level weapons in their new type. This solves the huge, gigantic, tedious problem of Weapon Rank while also letting you have a way for characters to improve their weapon selection as they get stronger. Weapon Level also lets characters be balanced around how good the weapons they can equip are. Someone with low strength, for instance, might be able to compensate if they have high weapon level and can use more powerful weapons.
I think Weapon Level sounds like a big improvement over Weapon Rank. That said, I had this crazy idea for a tweak to Weapon Level that might work out even better. Instead of having a stand alone stat, the "weapon level" function is instead applied to Skill (or dexterity or whatever the kids are calling it these days). So, to use a Silver Sword, you need to reach a certain skill threshold. I think this would add more importance to a fairly useless stat, and I think it also makes sense thematically.
Anyway, I'll get off my soap box. What's the best way to handle weapon ranks, in your opinion?
Also 3 Houses did something else I'm sure but I didn't play it so please explain it to me down below and compare it to these other systems.