Fire Emblem: Three Houses beginner’s guide


Tips for combat and relationships

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a daunting strategy role-playing game. With a complex focus on both tactical combat and personal relationships, there’s a lot to micromanage. Here are some of our best tips to help with both aspects of the game.


A map of the monastery Intelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo

Most of the non-combat portions of Fire Emblem: Three Houses take place in a monastery that serves as your base of operations.

You can acquire quests, chat with students, and engage in several activities. Some of these activities require Activity Points (denoted by your professor rank, which you can enhance through some of the activities listed below). Initially, only a portion of the monastery will be available to you, but as you gradually progress with the story more of its cloisters will be unlocked.

Here are all of the major activities you can do in the monastery and their associated Activity Point costs:

  • Fishing for food (0 cost, repeatable so long as you have bait)
  • Gardening for seeds and stat-boosting items once per visit (0 cost)
  • Buy items at the marketplace (0 cost)
  • Speak to the counselor in the church to give guidance for professor experience (0 cost)
  • Upgrade your party at the church statues by spending renown gained from quests (0 cost)
  • Scan amiibo at the amiibo gazebo for items and music tracks (0 cost)
  • Have a tea party with a student for a happiness boost and professor experience (1 cost)
  • Sing together in the choir for a happiness boost and professor experience (1 cost)
  • Eat with students at the dining hall (1 cost)
  • Send party members to the gladiator arena for gold and item rewards (1 cost, repeatable)
  • Train with other professors to enhance the protagonist’s stats (1 cost)


Fire Emblem Three Houses class screen for Ferdinand
Make a plan for your characters using information available the menus. Intelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo

You’re not just teaching classes: You also want to figure out what archetypes you need to work toward with individual character classes.

Do you want Caspar, who initially excels with axes, to follow the axe-centric path of a fighter, who becomes a brigand and then a war master? Or do you want him to be something completely different? Take a peek ahead at future classes and start building your party to support specific archetypes.


Fire Emblem Three Houses passive skills menuIntelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo

If you find yourself changing classes frequently, you will acquire a number of different passive and active skills as you level up. While this can be a boon for certain classes like hybrids, Fire Emblem: Three Houses can also automatically stick you with useless skills that don’t help your current class. For example, you don’t necessarily need a skill that enhances your sword damage if you change to a magic-based class.

It seems counterintuitive, but you can access your Ability slots from the Inventory option on the main menu. Do this frequently to ensure that the class you have active right now is benefitting from what you have slotted in. While browsing the Ability menu, press the X button to get more details for each Ability and customize the build that’s right for your character.


Repairing your weapons in Fire Emblem: Three HousesIntelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo

Weapons degrade in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and there are a few things you can do about it. Abilities come at a cost —each time you trigger one in combat, it will eat up a portion of your weapon’s Durability, which you need to track and upkeep across all of your battles.

Early on before the blacksmith is available from the main menu, just buy new weapons and replace worn out ones. Sell your old weapons for a small profit, and then purchase either the same item or an upgraded version. Alternatively, you can avoid spending too many Durability Points by using normal attacks instead of Abilities — a strategy that’s particularly useful if an enemy has a low amount of hit points remaining.

If there’s a unit that’s constantly having weapon durability issues due to a demanding Ability, equip them with two weapons so they can swap later in combat — even if the quality is worse. There’s no penalty for changing weapons even in the middle of a battle. You can also hand off items in combat between units if something goes terribly wrong and they need a weapon in a pinch.


Fire Emblem Three Houses’ options menuIntelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo

If you dislike how long each turn to takes, you can toggle any number of options, even during combat. Battle speed can be increased, animations can be skipped entirely, the game can end your turn automatically if all of your units are spent, and you can turn on a grid overlay to get a better idea of how each tile is formed and how far you’ll need to move.

One option we recommend leaving off is action skip. It will actually skip the actions of enemy units, leaving you utterly confused as to what happened on your turn if half of your party is dead. You can always manually skip enemy turns by pressing the + button.

Another handy option is the ability to view maximum enemy ranges, denoted by a purple overlay on the battlefield grid. With the overlay on, you can stay just out of enemy range, which is very helpful for squishier classes like mages. This one is not in the options menu — to toggle it on or off you just need to press ZR.


Fire Emblem Three Houses divine pulseIntelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo

At the start of the game, the protagonist unlocks an Ability called Divine Pulse, which works like a time-rewind power. After taking a turn, try pressing the L button — it’ll bring up a master menu of every friendly unit action, allowing you to wind back the clock. So long as you have enough charges, you can use Divine Pulse.

There are two reasons why you’ll want to take advantage of this.

Defensively, sometimes you might lock in a move where your more vulnerable units are out in the open and not realize it until later in the turn. Or, a friendly unit might unexpectedly die as a result of getting countered by an enemy. If either of those scenarios happen, you can take back that turn immediately.

Offensively, sometimes an attack will whiff a boss character or will bounce off a defensive-minded enemy, essentially nullifying your turn. If you use Divine Pulse, you can get a do-over and either choose a new approach/Ability or a new target.

Remembering that Divine Pulse is a persistent option is important as it can salvage a lengthy battle after just one bad move.

Credit: Polygon