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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.
So, in the original Gaiden, Mages/Clerics learned spells at certain levels with different attributes. Additionally, different characters learned spells at different rates, and some were only available to certain characters. Do you think that they'll keep it mostly the same, just update it with modern sensibilities, or they'll change it to the Tomes/Staves we use today?