Fire Emblem: Three Houses Class Guide

Fire Emblem: Three Houses introduces a class system that differs quite a bit from previous games. Characters qualify to unlock a class by already building the weapon skills that the class requires. Practicing as the class in battle then gives experience which eventually leads to mastering the class, unlocking a new ability in the process. This system allows any character to become whatever class they want through practice and instruction at the monastery, and because mastery skills are rarely one of the essential skills of a class, you’ll sometimes find situations where you want to change laterally between classes depending on the circumstances of the battle.

This article will outline the basic features of each class as well as offering guidance on how to use each one effectively. The classes will be ordered first by rank (beginner, intermediate, advanced, master) and then in the order which they are displayed in the class list. I’ll be discussing the classes in various ways including a look at their skill requirements (and by extension how they fit into a logical class progression), making recommendations for how to utilize the class abilities, and discussing whether or not I think the mastery abilities are worthwhile.

Before we jump in, it will be helpful to recognize the terminology used throughout the article. A skill refers to the character’s rank with a specific weapon (sword, lance, axe, gauntlets, bow), a school of magic (reason, faith) or a unit type (riding, heavy armor, flying). An ability is a passive bonus; each character has one personal ability, zero to three class abilities depending on the class, and five free ability slots to equip abilities they’ve learned from increasing skill ranks or mastering classes. Finally, a combat art is a move that can be executed during battle, sometimes costing weapon durability and sometimes not. Any character can have three combat arts equipped at a time, but certain combat arts are tied to a class or a combination of a specific Hero’s Relic and its compatible Crest.

The order I’ve chosen for the classes is Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Master, and then Unique. Unique classes can involve spoilers for the royals and the professor, so that’s why I have placed that section at the end. The unique section is also the only one which still has some unfinished pieces; I will update it periodically as I finished additional routes.

BEGINNER CLASSES (Unlocked at character level 5)
There are four beginner classes in Three Houses and they all serve as a sort of jumping-off point to get characters started. Each beginner class has no class abilities but is mastered relatively quickly (60 EXP) and, upon mastery, confers two rewards. The first is a stat-boosting ability while the second is a combat art focused on unit positioning. I’ll mainly be talking about where these classes fit into a progression towards higher-rank classes and making a couple of suggestions around how to use the combat art.

Three Houses Myrmidon

Myrmidon
Requirement: Sword rank D or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities: None
Mastery Rewards:
Swap – a combat art that allows the user to switch places with the target
Speed +2 – an ability increases the speed stat of the user by 2 when equipped

The Myrmidon is the beginner class for sword-users which, upon mastery, grants Swap and Speed+2. Swap is the positioning combat art that I used the most – being able to outright swap the position of two units is quite helpful, often allowing you to put a tougher unit into the danger zone while switching a more vulnerable character out. I have also used swap to allow characters with higher mobility on sand terrain to switch slower units closer to the front line. Speed +2 is a great ability for the early game. I consider speed to be the most important stat in Fire Emblem due to having such a wide array of offensive and defensive applications, so getting a bonus to it early on is a great way to buff a character. The myrmidon class transitions quite naturally into two different intermediate classes (three for Dimitri, Edelgard, and Claude), so its early potential is fantastic.

Three Houses Soldier

Soldier
Requirement: Lance rank D or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities: None
Mastery Rewards:
Reposition – a combat art in which the user moves a unit in front of them behind them
Defense +2 – an ability that grants +2 to the defense stat when equipped

The soldier is the beginner class for lance-users. It gives the reposition combat art, which allows you to grab someone in front of you and put them behind you instead. This is nifty for pulling a vulnerable unit further away from combat than other arts, but it can also be used in “reverse” to throw a unit further back closer to the fray. All of the other beginner combat arts only move a character one tile, so reposition is actually the fastest way to give a little movement boost to a unit that’s farther back – or the quickest way backwards for someone about to die on the front line. Defense +2 is a solid ability that raises a key stat, and I particularly like that it boosts a lower stat for characters who are on the path towards being a pegasus knight. My biggest complaint about the soldier class is that it doesn’t transition neatly into any intermediate class – to reach cavalier or pegasus knight, you’ll have to do some training on the side to develop your riding or flying skills, respectively.

Three Houses Fighter

Fighter
Requirement: Axe, Bow, or Gauntlets D rank or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities: None
Mastery Rewards:
Shove – a combat art which shoves the target forward by one tile
Strength +2 – an ability that gives the user +2 to the strength stat when equipped

The fighter is the catch-all of the beginner classes. Because this is the beginner class for axes, gauntlets, and bows, you’ll likely end up with lots of characters who fall into this one. Shove is a classic from across the Fire Emblem series and it’s about as useful as it has always been. You can use it to get someone closer to or further from the action, but it is a little less robust than the other movement combat arts – it only moves one character instead of two, and it only moves them one space. I never used shove in my own playthrough. Strength +2, on the other hand, is certainly not something you’ll hear me complaining about. It’s a great fit for bow-users, who don’t necessarily have high strength by default, and it also functions well in conjunction with gauntlets since their strike-twice feature naturally benefits more from higher strength. Because fighter accepts the largest variety of weapon skills it transitions into the largest number of intermediate classes, all of which benefit quite nicely from the rewards it grants. Fighters can become archers, brigands, or brawlers pretty easily, and can even lead to armored knight with a little heavy armor training on the side.

Three Houses Monk

Monk
Requirement: Reason or Faith rank D or higher
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities: None
Mastery Rewards:
Draw Back – a combat art that pulls the user and a target in front of them one space back
Magic +2 – an ability that grants +2 to the magic stat of the user when equipped

Monk is the beginner class for your magically-inclined characters, and it is the only beginner class which allows the character to use the magic spells they have learned. This means that the monk class may actually be the most sensible beginner option even for characters who you are also training with a weapon: while monks can still use weapons, the weapon-focused classes cannot carry magic as a backup option. The monk draw back combat art is a nifty one, allowing both the user and the target to be pulled towards safety – or into danger, if you position it well and that’s what you want to do. Magic +2 is also a nice ability as it increases attacking power for black magic but also healing power for white magic, giving it some nice versatility (though note that two points of magic means a lot less to healers). As far as transitioning to intermediate classes, the monk moves quite nicely towards either black or white magic depending on your preference.

INTERMEDIATE CLASSES (Unlocked at character level 10)
The intermediate classes are when you’ll finally feel as if the characters are falling into unique roles. There are a large number of them and they have stricter limitations as far as skill requirements and even restrictions based on the character’s sex. This is also when you will start to see class abilities for the first time, so some classes will have unique advantages as a result. Intermediate classes take a bit longer to master, requiring 100 EXP.

Three Houses Lord

Lord
Requirement: Sword rank D+ or higher, Authority rank C or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: Edelgard, Dimitri, or Claude only
Class Abilities:
Charm – Adjacent allies deal 3 extra damage during combat
Mastery Rewards:
Resistance +2 – an ability which grants the user +2 to resistance
Subdue – a sword combat art which will always leave the target with 1 HP

The lord is a special class usable only by the royals, and it requires you to take advantage of their natural affinity for swords (since none of them use swords as their default weapon). The Charm ability gives a nice passive bonus and in combination with Subdue, it actually makes the lord class perfect for coddling and training up weaker team members. You can use Subdue to pummel an enemy within an inch of their life, and then give the charm bonus to a weak ally so they can finish the enemy off and gain the maximum possible EXP. Of course, that’s only for mastering the class. You also get a nice buff in the form of resistance+2, a stat that most non-magical characters will have in low supply. I personally don’t recommend going out of your way to angle for the lord class, as it isn’t a prerequisite for anything else and your royals will all get their own special classes that actually play to their strengths more.

Three Houses Mercenary

Mercenary
Requirements: Sword rank C or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities: None
Mastery Rewards:
Vantage – when the unit’s health is less than 50%, the unit will still attack first even when the foe initiates combat

The mercenary is an intermediate sword class with no class skills to bring to the table, making it seemingly a poor choice for an intermediate character. However, there are two advantages to consider here. The first is that the mercenary has a fantastic mastery ability in the form of vantage. Vantage allows the unit to attack first even when the foe initiates combat when the unit is beneath half health. This is very valuable for the often-frailer sword-using classes. The other advantage is that even though axes aren’t a requirement to become a mercenary, the mercenary gains axe skill points in battle at an increased rate (along with swords). This makes it very easy to angle for the Hero advanced class (which requires rank B swords and rank C axes), but you can also make a mercenary into a swordmaster or assassin quite easily.

Three Houses Thief

Thief
Requirements: Sword rank C or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Locktouch – the unit may use an action to unlock doors or chests without a key
Steal – the unit may use an action to steal an unequipped item from a target with lower speed
Mastery Rewards:
Steal – same as above

The thief class is one on which I am rather torn. On the one hand, actually playing as the thief class is pretty advantageous. Having a unit with locktouch makes it much easier to handle locked doors and chests on the battlefield – less money spent on keys and more inventory slots for weapons, amiright? On the other hand, the thief’s other class ability and their mastery ability is Steal, which let’s you take an unequipped item from a unit with lower speed. Short of combining this with Draw Back or Reposition to yank Dark Seals from the Death Knight, I honestly have found little practical application for the steal ability. Locktouch would have been a far superior mastery reward. Thieves gain bow EXP quickly in battle in addition to swords, making this the perfect class for preparing to be an assassin; swordmaster and hero are also logical upgrades from the thief, if you’d prefer one of those. My recommendation for your sword user? Get certified in both mercenary and thief – bust out thief when you need locktouch, and work on mercenary the rest of the time to master the class and get Vantage.

Three Houses Armored Knight

Three Houses Cavalier

Cavalier
Requirements: Lance rank C or higher, Riding rank D or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Canto – after a battle, if the unit had any movement spaces remaining they may move again from their current position
Mastery Rewards:
Desperation – when the unit’s HP is less than 50%, their follow-up attack will occur before the opponent’s counterattack (when applicable)

Cavaliers are the bread and butter of any good army, balanced units with decent speed, hitting power, and defenses. As a mounted unit they have the class ability Canto, which allows the unit to move their remaining spaces after a battle exchange. This is great in all kinds of situations: moving in to strike and then backing out to create room for other units, eliminating an enemy blocking a bottleneck and then moving down the narrow space, or ending your turn on better terrain to prepare for the enemy phase. The mastery ability Desperation is pretty solid if your cavalier is fast enough to take advantage of it, allowing them to attack twice in one go if their health is under 50%. The most natural transition for the cavalier is into a paladin, but if you have other skills practiced on the side the cavalier is actually perfect for practicing two skills that a large number of mastery classes require: lances and riding.

Three Houses Brigand

Brigand
Requirements: Axe rank C or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities: None
Mastery Rewards:
Death Blow – when unit initiates combat, grants Strength+6 for the battle

The brigand is a simple class, really. They hit things as hard as they possibly can with an axe. That may be the only trick they have up their sleeve, but it’s a fantastic and very effective trick. Mastering the brigand class allows them to do it even better thanks to Death Blow. This ability grants a massive +6 strength boost when the unit initiates the battle, meaning that it rewards aggressive play by giving you more destructive power. Once you have this mastery ability, the best way to play brigands is to try and smash foes in one hit before they can even make an effort to mount a counterattack. Brigands transition most naturally into warriors thanks to that axe training, but thanks to their bonus EXP in gauntlets they can transition laterally into brawlers with ease and even upward into grapplers if they want to. Additionally, if you train heavy armor on the side, brigands can bring their hitting power to the fortress knight class for the ultimate offense/defense combo.

Three Houses Archer

Archer
Requirements: Bow rank C or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Bowrange+1 – increases the maximum range of bow attacks by 1
Mastery Rewards:
Hit+20 – when equipped, the unit gains +20 to their hit rate

Archers have received a serious buff in the recent Fire Emblem titles. By the time you reach rank C in bows, you’ll gain the Close Counter ability. This allows your unit to counterattack foes even from an adjacent space, even if their bow doesn’t normally shoot only one space away. Additionally, their class ability allows the archer to fire at opponents three spaces away. Short of other archers, you will rarely face targets who can attack from such a distance, and the tactical advantage of firing from such a range is excellent. But things get even better: mastering the archer gives you Hit+20, an ability that may not seem important at first glance but actually is a key partner to Bowrange+1. We discussed this in the math lesson, but basically Hit+20 cancels the penalty for shooting from three tiles away and reduces the penalty for further distances, making that additional range more practical. Archers transition most naturally to snipers but thanks to their increased rate of sword experience, you can also move into assassin by focusing on bringing your swords up to rank B.

Three Houses Brawler

Brawler
Requirements: Gauntlets rank C or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: Male only
Class Abilities:
Unarmed Combat – allows the unit to fight without a weapon equipped
Mastery Rewards:
Unarmed Combat – same as above

The brawler is all about punching stuff as hard as possible, and it allows you to do so even if you are somehow found without a weapon. To be honest, I haven’t been able to find any practical advantages to the unarmed combat ability. Because being unarmed has no weight, sometimes the attack speed boost will be advantageous for you, but the loss in hitting power is a tradeoff there. And since that’s the ability you get for mastering this class too, the only reason you’d ever want to be a brawler is if you care deeply about being able to fight without any weapon equipped. My personal recommendation here: get your axes to C and choose brigand as your intermediate class instead. Brigands still get gauntlet experience faster so you can be a grappler later, and Death Blow is far superior an ability to Unarmed Combat – heck, Death Blow is even more useful on gauntlets because they effectively double its bonus. If you do decide to be a brawler, it transitions quite neatly into the grappler class but can also develop axes to push you towards warrior (or wyvern rider or fortress knight, if you want to ignore your gauntlets entirely and practice flying or heavy armor on the side).

Three Houses Mage

Mage
Requirements: Reason rank C or higher
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Fire – enables the unit to cast the spell Fire, or doubles their number of charges if known
Mastery Rewards:
Fiendish Blow – unit gains Magic+6 when initiating combat against an opponent

The mage is one of three magical options available to you in the intermediate rank. The mage is focused on offense and as a result starts with the ability to cast Fire. Note that if the character does not have Fire in their spell list naturally, they will not retain it after changing classes away from mage. Mastering the mage class grants Fiendish Blow, which increases how much magical damage you deal when initiating combat. This allows mages to potentially take out opponents in one blast when initiating combat, conserving spell uses and also protecting them from counterattacks. It is a great ability and the mage is well worth mastering as a result. The mage transitions most logically into the warlock class, but since faith also comes easily you could jump over to bishop instead. Alternatively, you might consider dark bishop, but there are some restrictions on that class you’ll want to look at first.

Three Houses Dark Mage

Dark Mage
Requirements: Reason rank C or higher, Dark Seal
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: Male only
Class Abilities:
Miasma – enables the unit to cast the spell Miasma, or doubles their charges if known
Mastery Rewards:
Poison Strike – if the target survives combat, they will be inflicted with the poison status

The dark mage is similar to the mage in that the focus is on offensive spells. Dark magic tends to hit harder but be less accurate than normal black magic, so you can think of it as the “axe” of the magic triangle. By playing as a dark mage you gain the dark spell Miasma, but it’s important to note that you won’t keep it if your character doesn’t have it as a part of their natural spell list once you change classes. Poison Strike is the sort of mastery ability that I really don’t care for – poison is annoying when enemies inflict it on you, but most of the time my characters finish the job. Even if the unit using this ability doesn’t finish off the target, another character in the party probably will. The primary purpose of dark mage in my mind is to meet the prerequisite for Dark Bishop – so go ahead and get certified in this class, then master the mage class instead for Fiendish Blow. Dark mage transitions quite easily into warlock or dark bishop but can even change into a bishop if you practice your faith skill enough.

Three Houses Priest

Priest
Requirements: Faith rank C or higher
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Heal – enables the unit to cast the spell Heal, or doubles their charges if known
Mastery Rewards:
Miracle – Luck% chance of surviving a lethal blow with 1 HP

It’s healing time, baby! Priests are the characters who most naturally serve the healer role in your party because they receive Heal for free, or if they have it already they can use it twice as often. Mastering the priest grants the Miracle ability, which offers RNG-based protection against deadly attacks against you. Because the activation rate is random I’m not necessarily a huge fan of this one – when it comes to intermediate magic classes, I’d honestly recommend mage even if you’re on the healing track since it practices faith too. The utility of the priest is less about the mastery ability, though, and more about the access to bonus healing. It’s probably worth getting certified as a priest for those long battles where you’re going to need to heal a large number of times. Priest transitions most naturally into bishop but of course practicing reason could potentially make warlock or dark bishop options as well (pay attention to the strict restrictions on dark bishop, though).

Three Houses Pegasus Knight

Pegasus Knight
Requirements: Lance rank C or higher, Flying rank D or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: Female only
Class Abilities:
Canto – after a battle, if the unit had any movement spaces remaining they may move again from their current position
Avoid+10 – grants the unit +10 to their avoid stat
Mastery Rewards:
Darting Blow – when the unit initiates combat, they gain +6 speed during the exchange

The pegasus knight is the earliest possible flying unit for you to get, giving them an excellent movement range uninhibited by terrain. And since you can dismount in this game to change unit types, you can even work around archers by landing for a short time to take them out before taking off again. Pegasus knights have great class abilities all around: canto offers nice tactical options by allowing you to move, take action, and then move again and avoid+10 is an excellent defensive ability for a class that tends to be on the frail side. Then there’s Darting Blow – increasing speed when the unit initiates combat is excellent and I would love to slap it on slower units like armored knights. Unfortunately there’s little in the way of crossover between pegasus knights and other unit types – in particular, there is no advanced class that uses lances and flying together. This means you’ll have to find something else for your pegasus to do between intermediate and master. My solution has been to have my pegasus knight get the unique dancer class and use that practice swords for falcon knight – since dancer is earned based on the Charm stat and not based on a skill rank, you won’t have to develop a useless skill to a high rank (paladin would require a B in riding that won’t be used as a falcon knight, and wyvern knight would require a B in axes that won’t be used as a falcon knight). I highly recommend the pegasus knight class as it has great abilities – just watch out for that awkward stage from levels 20-30 where you won’t really have a class that makes sense.

ADVANCED CLASSES (Unlocked at character level 20)
Advanced classes are the good stuff. This is when your characters really and truly begin to have unique roles in the party with class abilities that push them firmly in a specific direction. Advanced classes take time to master, requiring a whopping 150 class EXP, but many of them have pretty nice mastery abilities that you’ll want to take advantage of in conjunction with their class abilities. While master classes are technically above advanced classes in rank, there are some advanced classes which you might consider to be the final class in your character’s progression.

Three Houses Hero

Hero
Requirements: Sword rank B or higher, Axes rank C or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: Male only
Class Abilities:
Swordfaire – increases attack when using a sword by 5
Vantage – when the unit’s health is less than 50%, the unit will still attack first even when the foe initiates combat
Mastery Rewards:
Defiant Strength – increases strength by 8 when HP is less than 25%

The Hero is a class which follows quite naturally out of the mercenary, even having the mercenary’s mastery ability as a class ability. Heroes are best with swords but wield axes as a secondary weapon to help give an advantage against foes with lances and the swordbreaker ability. Axes also have a physical ranged attack option while swords only have ranged attacks with magical Levin Swords. Defiant Strength, the mastery skill for the hero, increases strength dramatically when the unit is on death’s door. Personally I don’t care to keep my characters at super low health to take advantage of this bonus, but this level of a strength boost can probably make it so that your hero will defeat relatively fragile foes in a single strike. The hero does not transition smoothly into any master class – there’s nothing that uses swords and axes together. If you’ve got a unit who also has a high rank in reason, you can become a mortal savant at level 30.

Three Houses Swordmaster

Swordmaster
Requirements: Sword rank A or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Swordfaire – increases attack when using a sword by 5
Sword Crit+10 – increases critical hit rate by 10 when using a sword
Mastery Rewards:
Astra – a combat art which hits five times at half the unit’s attack power

The swordmaster is a classic class from across the Fire Emblem series and it performs as well here as one would expect. Lightning fast with powerful strikes and a high crit rate, swordmasters will tear apart enemies on the battlefield with their blade. Their mastery combat art, Astra, is certainly a decently powerful attack, but it has limitations. The reduced damage means you’ll not be doing much at all to enemies with high defense, and Astra is almost completely outclassed by simply using a brave sword as your weapon. Astra is also locked to the swordmaster – if you change classes, you cannot use it anymore. It’s also worth noting that if you focus hard enough on swords to reach S+ rank, you’ll actually have both swordfaire and sword crit+10 as equippable abilities, which means you can gain most of the benefits of swordmaster without having to play as the class. Still, swordmaster is great until you truly master swords, and then you might change to something else to benefit from abilities you don’t have yet.

Three Houses Assassin

Assassin
Requirements: Sword rank B or higher, Bow rank C or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Swordfaire – increases attack when using a sword by 5
Locktouch – the unit may use an action to unlock doors or chests without a key
Stealth – makes it more difficult for enemy units to target this unit
Mastery Rewards:
Lethality – the equipped unit has a chance to immediately kill the target equal to (Dexterity/4)%
Assassinate – combat art which can instantly kill enemies

The assassin is the thief on steroids, filling the same role in the party while also bringing a lot more power to the table. Swordfaire is perfect for this wicked fast class to maximize damage and locktouch is always a nice skill to have for free. Stealth is one that I could take or leave, personally – since there’s no concrete formula to how it works, it’s hard to take advantage of on purpose. On top of having three class abilities, the assassin also gets two mastery rewards. Unfortunately, both are related to instant kill chances and so they are somewhat redundant, particularly since there’s a good chance your assassin will be killing most enemies the traditional way anyway. I like to have a swordmaster or hero also certified in assassin and switch to assassin on battlefields where I need to open chests or doors. Since no master class transitions neatly from assassin, this may be the class where your sword user stays unless you’ve been practicing the necessary skills to become a mortal savant or perhaps a bow knight.

Three Houses Fortress Knight

Fortress Knight
Requirements: Axe rank B or higher, Heavy Armor rank B or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Axefaire – increases attack when using an axe by 5
Weight-5 – reduces the total weight of your equipped gear by 5
Mastery Rewards:
Pavise – Dexterity% chance to reduce the damage from swords, axes, lances, and gauntlets by half

Fortress Knights are defensive powerhouses that will rarely suffer physical damage, particularly if you maximize their abilities. Axefaire speaks for itself and of course is great for amplifying damage against enemies – but why weight-5? As we learned in math at murder school, weight-reducing abilities have a much more significant impact on your carry weight than strength and effectively increase your speed by as many points as they subtract from weight (unless your gear is very light). This allows your fortress knight to carry heavy shields to augment their defenses without suffering too much of a penalty to speed – especially if you combine this with weight-3 from your heavy armor studies. The mastery ability Pavise is a good example of doubling down on what already works – on the off chance that your character actually takes damage from a physical attack, this has a small chance of reducing that damage even further. Fortress knights transition quite nicely into the great knight class if you work on riding as a tertiary skill.

Three Houses Paladin

Paladin
Requirements: Lance rank B or higher, Riding rank B or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Canto – after a battle, if the unit had any movement spaces remaining they may move again from their current position
Lancefaire – increases attack when using a lance by 5
Terrain Resistance – nullifies the damage from dangerous terrain
Mastery Rewards:
Aegis – Dexterity% chance to reduce the damage from bows and magic by half

The truest of knights, the paladin is the quintessential champion of the battlefield. Canto we’ve spoken about already with the cavalier and you likely know how helpful it is to smash-and-retreat or to defeat opponents blocking a passage and then move down the passage. Terrain Resistance is really nice. There aren’t a lot of levels in the game which feature dangerous terrain, but some demonic beasts create it with their area attacks and the immunity is a nice bonus when you do encounter such terrain. Aegis is the better version of pavise in my mind – lots of units have a vulnerability to magic and paladins probably have magic as their primary weak point, so having a chance to reduce that damage is an excellent boon. The other great thing about paladins? They flex quite nicely into three different master classes depending on what skill you develop on the side. Bow knights, holy knights, and dark knights all require lance and riding skills that the paladin brings to the table. You can also kind of work your way towards great knight, but that requires two additional skills instead of one like the others.

Three Houses Wyvern Rider

Wyvern Rider
Requirements: Axe rank B or higher, Flying rank C or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Canto – after a battle, if the unit had any movement spaces remaining they may move again from their current position
Axefaire – increases attack when using an axe by 5
Mastery Rewards:
Seal Defense – if the unit damages the target during combat, target suffers Defense-6 for one turn

The wyvern rider is a unit that combines mobility and power, bringing the full force of an axe into the sky to drop down on unsuspecting foes. Canto allows wyvern riders to hit-and-run or swing by to take out a foe away from the main wall of the battle and then quickly return to the front. Axefaire increases their hitting power with an axe, and often wyvern riders can smash more vulnerable units with one big hit. Just watch out for bows and magic! The seal defense mastery ability feels a bit wasted on the wyvern rider, a unit that likely will be destroying enemies rather than whittling them down. Still, it has some valuable application against demonic beasts or against bosses, so consider using it for that purpose. Wyvern riders transition quite naturally to the wyvern lord master class, particularly because they gain lance experience as a slightly increased rate.

Three Houses Warrior

Warrior
Requirements: Axe rank A or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Axefaire – increases attack when using an axe by 5
Axe Crit+10 – increases critical hit rate by 10 when using an axe
Mastery Rewards:
Wrath – increases crit by 50 when unit is under 50% HP and foe initiates combat

If you like critical hits and you like axes, the warrior class is a perfect fit. Warriors deal big damage with their attacks thanks to their high strength growths, mighty axes, and the benefits of axefaire. Add Axe Crit+10 to that formula and you have a unit who deals either tons of damage or megatons of damage. The mastery ability Wrath adds to that even further, although its activation conditions make it more of a desperate hail-mary. Warriors have a few different directions they can go as far as master classes – the war master if you’ve developed brawling, the wyvern lord if you’ve worked on flying and lances, or the great knight if you’ve practiced heavy armor and riding. The war master is the class which most keeps the playstyle of the warrior, so I recommend that one as the most natural transition (a warning about war master, though – it’s not an option for your female warriors). Also note that like the swordmaster, the warrior is a class that is effectively rendered obsolete by getting an S+ ranking in its preferred weapon.

Three Houses Sniper

Sniper
Requirements: Bow rank A or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Bowfaire – increases attack when using a bow by 5
Bowrange+1 – increases the maximum range of bow attacks by 1
Mastery Rewards:
Hunter’s Volley – the unit attacks twice consecutively as with a brave weapon

The sniper is the logical conclusion of the archer, adding not only range to the bow but also hitting power thanks to Bowfaire. Mastering the sniper class grants Hunter’s Volley, a combat art which strikes twice with a slight increase in damage and accuracy. Strike twice combat arts are pretty solid – especially against fast, frail opponents that you normally could not hit twice – but the disadvantage of Hunter’s Volley is that it is locked to the sniper class. Changing causes you to lose it, so if you want to take advantage of it you have to remain a sniper. If the question you’re asking now is “should I remain a sniper?” then my answer is pretty firmly no. The master class bow knight is a natural evolution from the sniper class and offers a few key advantages to it that I will discuss in the master class section, but know that while sniper is certainly fine from levels 20-30, you will most definitely want to have your lance and riding skills ready to become a bow knight when the time comes.

Three Houses Grappler

Grappler
Requirements: Gauntlets rank A or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: Male only
Class Abilities:
Fistfaire – Increase attack when using gauntlets by 5
Unarmed Combat – allows the unit to fight without a weapon equipped
Mastery Rewards:
Tomebreaker – grants hit/avoid+20 when using gauntlets against opponents with tomes

Have you ever played as a brawler and thought “man, I really wish I could punch things harder?” That’s the grappler in a nutshell. You still have the unarmed combat ability but now it – along with all your other gauntlet attacks – is bolstered with the Fistfaire ability to do extra damage. Once you’ve mastered grappler you get the Tomebreaker ability, allowing your unit to have a strong advantage against spellcasters in combat. Gauntlets already made a lot of sense as a counter to spellcasters – dealing heavy damage in two consecutive hits before the mage can retaliate with their crippling spells. But magicians are also a problem for gauntlet-users because there are no gauntlets that grant a ranged attack. In this sense tomebreaker is an excellent mastery ability that I highly recommend. Note that the only master class that grappler naturally connects to is the war master – no other master class utilizes gauntlets, so if war master isn’t your jam then you’ll need to master some different skills on the side.

Three Houses Warlock

Warlock
Requirements: Reason rank A or higher
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Black Tomefaire – increase attack when using black magic by 5
Black Magic Usesx2 – double the charges of all learned black magic spells
Mastery Rewards:
Bowbreaker – grant hit/avoid+20 when wielding black magic against an opponent with a bow

Warlocks are masters of destructive black magic, wielding it with both increased power thanks to Black Tomefaire and increased frequency thanks to Black Magic Usesx2. Note that unlike with the intermediate mage class, the warlock class doesn’t actually teach any spells – you character will have access only to the magic which occurs in their natural spell list. Mastering the warlock grants Bowbreaker, a great match for magical characters. Magicians seems to have an advantage against bows only when they initiate combat – since spells can attack from close or far while bows can’t counter close without a special skill, mages can sometimes outmaneuver archers in combat. However, archers can also shoot farther than mages, so having the additional points of avoid to make those long range shots easier to dodge is certainly helpful. Warlocks of any sex can become a dark knight with some training in lances and riding, but female warlocks may consider becoming a gremory by studying faith.

Three Houses Dark Bishop

Dark Bishop
Requirements: Reason rank A or higher, Dark Seal
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: Male only
Class Abilities:
Miasma – enables the unit to cast the spell Miasma, or doubles their charges if known
Fiendish Blow – unit gains Magic+6 when initiating combat against an opponent
Heartseeker – reduces the avoid of adjacent opponents by 20
Mastery Rewards:
Lifetaker – unit recovers HP equal to 50% of damage dealt after defeating a foe

Dark bishops are practitioners of dark magic who gain access to the miasma spell if they don’t have it already. Rather than tomefaire, they instead get Fiendish Blow as a class ability. Fiendish Blow gives a bigger increase to attack than tomefaire, but it only activates when the unit initiates combat. This means your dark bishop will have less power on defense than, say, making the same unit into a warlock. The dark bishop also doesn’t double the available uses of black or dark magic, so you may not have as many spell charges as playing a warlock. So why be a dark bishop at all? The main reason is to master the class and learn Lifetaker, a fantastic ability that seriously improves the survivability of spellcasters. When your unit initiates combat and defeats the opponent, they’ll heal by 50% of the damage they dealt. While I don’t consider dark mage a particularly important class to master, having your male reason specialists spend some time as a dark bishop to pick up lifetaker will definitely be worthwhile.

Three Houses Bishop

Bishop
Requirements: Faith rank A or higher
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
White Tomefaire – increases attack when using white magic by 5
White Magic Usesx2 – doubles the number of charges for learned white magic spells
White Magic Heal+10 – increases the HP restored by white magic by 10
Mastery Rewards:
Renewal – restores 20% of the unit’s max HP at the beginning of the turn

The bishop is the go-to healer for any party. With double the number of healing spells at their disposal and a flat boost to healing power, there really is no one better at keeping the party healthy. If you haven’t read up on how healing works, you may not know that a flat 10 bonus to healing spells is actually quite significant. Since bishop is the only class with this bonus, they are easily the highest-quality healers available to you in the game. In fact, I recommend them over the master class holy knight for long battles where you’ll need lots of charges of powerful healing spells like physic and fortify. Mastering the bishop is also highly worthwhile – it grants the Renewal ability, which heals your character by 20% of their maximum HP at the beginning of the ally phase. The bishop is an excellent class and I highly recommend having one in your party. If you decide to progress the bishop to a master class, any sex can progress to holy knight with a bit of lance and riding practice, but females may consider the gremory instead.

MASTER CLASSES (Unlocked at character level 30 and professor level C)
Master classes are the final classes which you can unlock for your characters, and while they are intended to be the pinnacle of the class progression, for many characters you may find that there is an advanced class which is ultimately a better fit for their weapon preferences and class abilities. Master classes also may be a bit of a disappointment in the category of mastery rewards (particularly since they take so long to master – 200 EXP!), so you’ll want to look at the pros and cons of each one to see if there realistically is an advanced class that may be a better fit. In general, the advantage for master classes is mobility – two out of every three master classes is mounted, allowing them to cover a lot more of the battlefield while still specializing in skills that normally do not feature high mobility.

Three Houses Falcon Knight

Falcon Knight
Requirements: Sword rank C or higher, Lance rank A or higher, Flying rank B+ or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: Female only
Class Abilities:
Canto – after a battle, if the unit had any movement spaces remaining they may move again from their current position
Avoid+10 – grants the unit +10 to their avoid stat
Lancefaire – increases attack when using a lance by 5
Mastery Rewards:
Defiant Avoid – Increases avoid by 30 when HP is less than 25%

While we had an awkward break for pegasus riders during the advanced class section, Falcon Knight is the ultimate conclusion for these high-flying ladies. Specializing in swords and lances, falcon knights are fast and fierce. Lances are their specialty thanks to Lancefaire, and they maintain the avoid bonus that pegasus knights carry as well. That avoid bonus is amplified by Defiant Avoid, a mastery ability which grants +30 avoid when the unit is on her last legs. Falcon knight is a great class thanks to its high mobility and speed, and lancefaire is a much-needed boost to their normally middling strength. As defiant avoid is one of the better defiance abilities (in my view), adding a falcon knight to your team is most certainly a worthwhile consideration.

Three Houses Wyvern Lord

Wyvern Lord
Requirements: Lance rank C or higher, Axe rank A or higher, Flying rank A or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Canto – after a battle, if the unit had any movement spaces remaining they may move again from their current position
Axefaire – increases attack when using an axe by 5
Avoid+10 – grants the unit +10 to their avoid stat
Mastery Rewards:
Defiant Crit – increases critical hit rate by 50 when HP is less than 25%

Wyvern Lord doesn’t change too much from wyvern rider – it requires a bit more lance proficiency in exchange for a boost to avoid in the form of Avoid+10. Of course, the preferred weapon of the wyvern lord is the mighty axe, making this one of three options for your axe-wielding characters in the master level (note that there are only two options for female characters). The wyvern lord has more mobility than the other unit types as a flying unit, but that means more weaknesses too, so keep that in mind when making your decision. Defiant Crit is yet another defiance ability, but this one increases the chances of a critical hit by a flat 50. This is a significant crit boost and wyvern lords are pretty defensive, so this can be a safer defiance ability than some of the other mastery rewards.

Three Houses Mortal Savant

Mortal Savant
Requirements: Sword rank A or higher, Reason rank B+ or higher
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Swordfaire – increase attack when using a sword by 5
Black Tomefaire – increase attack when using black magic by 5
Master Rewards:
Warding Blow – increases resistance by 6 when the unit initiates combat

The mortal savant is a unit who wields swords and black magic in tandem. It’s a sensible combination – the only ranged sword is the magical Levin Sword, after all – but it’s frustrating that there are no classes in the earlier levels which help build up to mortal savant. No sword-users can use magic, so it may be easiest to throw swords onto a character that you train along the warlock line in order to try and angle for this class. Unlike most of the master classes, the mortal savant has the +5 damage bonus on both specialized weapons, making the class equally valid for both the physical and magical approach. Warding Blow comes much later than other types of special blows you can learn from other classes, but it does give a nice resistance boost when your mortal savant goes after enemy magicians.

Three Houses Great Knight

Great Knight
Requirements: Axe rank B+ or higher, Riding rank A or higher, Heavy Armor rank B+ or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Canto – after a battle, if the unit had any movement spaces remaining they may move again from their current position
Axefaire – increases attack when using an axe by 5
Lancefaire – increases attack when using a lance by 5
Mastery Rewards:
Defiant Defense – increases defense by 8 when HP is 25% or less

The Great Knight is an unusual class in that it fits the role of the final destination for two different class trees – the cavalier/paladin line as well as the armored knight/fortress knight line. To develop both of these at once requires four different high-level skills: lance, axe, riding, and heavy armor. It’s much easier to simply angle directly for the great knight by focusing on the latter three, developing the character as a fortress knight and practicing riding on the side through instruction and group tasks. Great Knight improves over fortress knight by adding a lot of mobility, but you lose the reduced equipment weight. Overall, though, I consider the great knight to be the better option between the two. Defiant Defense is an added bonus, and if you don’t have any abilities you would rather have in your free slot then it’s a great defense mechanism for desperate situations.

Three Houses Bow Knight

Bow Knight
Requirements: Lance rank C or higher, Bow rank A or higher, Riding rank A or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Canto – after a battle, if the unit had any movement spaces remaining they may move again from their current position
Bowfaire – increases attack when using a bow by 5
Bow Range+2 – increases the maximum range of bows by 2
Mastery Rewards:
Defiant Speed – increases speed by 8 when HP is under 25%

The bow knight is the final conclusion of the archer/sniper progression, and in my opinion it is one of the only master classes which is clearly the superior option compared to its corresponding advanced class. Added mobility, the same striking power, and an increase in firing range means that the bow knight can attack opponents at a much greater distance than the sniper without sacrifices. You do lose the hunter’s volley combat art if you actually mastered the sniper class, but an actual brave weapon is far superior in my view. As far as the mastery ability, Defiant Speed does give a wonderful boost to my favorite stat in Fire Emblem, but it isn’t necessarily a great defense mechanism at low health.

Three Houses Dark Knight

Dark Knight
Requirements: Lance rank C or higher, Reason rank B+ or higher, Riding rank A or higher
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Canto – after a battle, if the unit had any movement spaces remaining they may move again from their current position
Black Tomefaire – increases attack when using black magic by 5
Dark Tomefaire – increases attack when using dark magic by 5
Mastery Rewards:
Seal Resistance – if the unit damages the target during combat, target suffers Resistance-6 for one turn

While the dark knight may have “dark” in the name, this class doesn’t require a dark seal and it is not restricted by sex like the other dark magic classes. Warlocks can become dark knights with some lance and riding training. Compared to the warlock class, dark knights also have powerful spells but they do not have double the spell charges. This means the choice between dark knight and warlock is a choice between unit mobility and spell availability. For longer battles, warlock may be more helpful in making sure you have sufficient charges for your strongest spells. Conversely, dark knight will probably be more helpful on maps with more space to cover. Seal Resistance will likely have little application against most typical enemies but you’ll be able to utilize it to good effect against bosses and demonic beasts.

Three Houses Holy Knight

Holy Knight
Requirements: Lance rank C or higher, Faith rank B+ or higher, Riding rank A or higher
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities:
Canto – after a battle, if the unit had any movement spaces remaining they may move again from their current position
White Tomefaire – increases attack when using white magic by 5
Terrain Resistance – nullifies the damage from dangerous terrain
Mastery Rewards:
Defiant Resistance – increases resistance by 8 when HP is less than 25%

The holy knight is the faithful alternative to the dark knight (I wonder where the silent knight ended up in all this?), and to me its a rather odd class. You lose the emphasis on healing and casting multiple white magic spells that the bishop has in exchange for mobility. This makes the holy knight more of an offensively-focused class, a battle-centric faith user that primarily deals damage with white spells while having healing abilities on the side. This is not my personal preference for using white magic in the game, so I personally like the bishop more than the holy knight for my healers. Taking the time to master the holy knight teaches Defiant Resistance, a last-ditch defensive ability which seems a bit unnecessary on a class that often has obscenely high resistance anyway.

Three Houses Gremory

Gremory
Requirements: Reason rank A or higher, Faith rank A or higher
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: Female only
Class Abilities:
Black Magic Usesx2 – double the charges of all learned black magic spells
Dark Magic Usesx2 – double the charges of all learned dark magic spells
White Magic Usesx2 – double the charges of all learned white magic spells
Mastery Rewards:
Defiant Magic – increases magic by 8 when HP is less than 25%

The gremory class is the ultimate in magical ability, combining all the schools of magic and amplifying the number of spells available. Unfortunately because the gremory emphasizes spell charges over spell power, you lose the damage or healing increases that you would normally enjoy as a class such as warlock or bishop. You can mitigate this by reaching S+ rank in the appropriate tome type, but the chances of you doing that for both white and black magic are pretty low during normal play. Still, the gremory is a great magical option for your female spellcasters. Note that Defiant Magic is a desperation ability for increasing magical power when the unit is at death’s door – I don’t particularly care for leaving my units at such a low health in order to take advantage of such a boost, but if that strategy appeals to you then mastering gremory would be worthwhile.

Three Houses War Master

War Master
Requirements: Axe rank A or higher, Gauntlets rank A or higher
Magic: No
Restrictions: Male only
Class Abilities:
Axefaire – increases attack when using an axe by 5
Fistfaire – increases attack when using gauntlets by 5
Crit+20 – increases critical hit rate by 20
Mastery Rewards:
Quick Riposte – when opponent initiates combat while the unit has beneath 50% HP, the unit is guaranteed to have a follow-up attack
War Master’s Strike – a combat art that has increased hit rate and is effective against all unit types

The war master is the meeting of the minds between the brigand/warrior line and the brawler/grappler line, combining fists and axes into one wicked pair of weapons with lots of hitting power. If you’ve been training a female unit with axes, this class will unfortunately not be available to her, so consider either remaining a warrior or transitioning towards great knight or wyvern lord instead. The war master is my personal favorite master class. That massive bonus to critical hit generally leads to having a crit rate over 30% and Quick Riposte is an awesome ability on a unit with hitting power as high as a war master – two hits is pretty much guaranteed to kill most opponents. The combat art War Master’s Strike is an axe art that enables you to double the weapon might against any type of special unit. The combination of power, critical hit chance, and a guaranteed followup at reduced health means that the war master will rarely leave an opponent standing.

UNIQUE CLASSES (Classes which have availability based on unique requirements)
The unique classes include not only the Noble/Commoner class that every character can master, but also special classes that are unlocked over the course of the game. Most of these are classes unique to specific characters like the three house leaders as well as the professor. Most unique classes take 150 EXP to master, but the Enlightened One costs 200 while the Noble/Commoner only takes 20.

Three Houses Commoner

Noble/Commoner
Requirements: None – every unit has one or the other available by default
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: None
Class Abilities: None
Mastery Rewards:
HP+5 – increases the HP of the unit by 5

This is the default class of your characters, representing their most basic abilities. Funnily enough, it’s one of the few classes in the game where your units will be able to wield magic without being a class fully focused on magic. Be careful when choosing a beginner class in those cases – if you have someone who was practicing with magic and a weapon but you choose anything other than the monk class, you’ll lose your magic spells. Mastering this class is an easy task – it takes only 20 EXP, which is ten battles after upgrading the Saint Cethleann statue – and it grants a nice +5 bonus to HP that’s quite valuable in the early game (and even late game for your most vulnerable units).

Three Houses DancerDancer
Requirements: Win the White Heron Dance Contest (Charm >13)
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: Only one per playthrough, must be a student
Class Abilities:
Dance – enables the unit to use the Dance action, which gives a second turn to a unit that has already taken action
Mastery Rewards:
Special Dance – gives Dex/Spd/Lck+4 to the target of the Dance action

Each time you play through the game, you’ll have the opportunity to have one student compete in the dance competition at Garreg Mach to represent their house. Winning the competition earns you the dancer class. You can only have one dancer per game and the dancer must be a student. Just getting the dancer certification gives some nice bonuses – the Sword Avoid+20 ability makes dodging while wielding a sword much easier, and the Sword Dance combat art is unique to the certified dancer but can be transferred to any class. The main ability of the dancer is to give an additional turn to a unit during combat, and mastering the dancer enables him or her to also give a stat bonus when dancing. Since the dancer class can use magic, I like to give it to my healer so that they can have a special action to take when no one needs healing. I’ve also used it as an “advanced class” substitute for characters pursuing the falcon knight master class since there is no pegasus-rider in the advanced rank.

Three Houses Enlightened One

Enlightened One
Requirements: Finish chapter ten
Magic: Yes
Restrictions: Byleth only
Class Abilities:
Swordfaire – increase attack when using a sword by 5
Terrain Resistance – nullifies the damage from dangerous terrain
Mastery Rewards:
Sacred Power – grants adjacent allies attack+3 and reduces their damage taken by 3

The enlightened one class is unlocked through story events, and it is the ultimate conclusion of the professor’s default abilities. The emphasis is of course on swords, but the class also gains enhanced experience in gauntlets, faith, and authority. Faith is a budding talent for the professor so growing it through faculty training will help you to unlock it as a strength. The enlightened one is immune to terrain damage thanks to Terrain Resistance, and of course damage with the Sword of the Creator will be boosted even more thanks to Swordfaire. The nice thing about this class is that because it is unlocked by story events, you can access it even if you ignore sword training on the professor, and since it uses magic you can maintain your black magic spells if you switch to this from mage or warlock. Sacred Power is a useful ability for buffing allies and it combos well with the personal ability of Byleth, which gives bonus EXP to adjacent units. As much effort as it takes to master, it may not seem worthwhile to struggle for – but it will definitely be worthwhile to use new game+ to tack onto future versions of Byleth in subsequent playthroughs.

Three Houses High Lord

High Lord
Requirements: Unlocked automatically at chapter 13
Magic: No
Restrictions: Dimitri only
Class Abilities:
Charm – Adjacent allies gain attack+3
Lancefaire – increases attack when using a lance by 5
Mastery Rewards:
Pomp and Circumstance – Increases Cha/Lck by 4

Scary Dimitri is here and he is glorious. The high lord class is unlocked by default at the beginning of part two and Dimitri will automatically enter that class instead of whatever you had him as in part one. The emphasis of the class is on lances but Dimitri will also gain sword experience in battle at a faster rate. Charm gives a buff to adjacent allies during combat while Lancefaire makes Dimitri’s lance attacks even more dangerous. Mastering this class may not be that worthwhile if you’re not too concerned with gambits, as Pomp and Circumstance increases two stats that don’t necessarily have a lot of value to Dimitri otherwise. Since you unlock great lord very fast after high lord, emphasizing that class to make sure you master it may be more valuable.

Three Houses Great Lord
Great Lord
Requirements: Earned after completing chapter 15
Magic: No
Restrictions: Dimitri only
Class Abilities:
Charm – Adjacent allies gain attack+3
Lancefaire – increases attack when using a lance by 5
Mastery Rewards:
Paraselene – combat art with +10 Mt where your unit moves backward one space after attacking

Great Lord is the second of Dimitri’s special classes, unlocked by finishing the battle at Ailell and recruiting Rodrigue to your side. Great Lord has few practical differences from high lord save for the mastery reward, which is a combat art called Paraselene which is locked to the great lord class that moves you backwards when executed. It’s a decent combat art for dealing heavy damage to an opponent and then quickly retreating – since it may be difficult to master both high lord and great lord during casual play, which one you emphasize will depend somewhat on whether or not you’d rather have the combat art or the boost to charm and luck.

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