Fire Emblem: Three Houses tasks you with choosing one of the three titular houses very early in the game. Your choice has a huge impact on how you experience the game and its story — one house even has a secret branching path that leads to a fourth storyline — along with which characters will be your friends and foes.
Needless to say, there’s a bit of pressure to make the right choice. The thing is, there isn’t necessarily a right choice; though not all the stories are presented equally, so it’s easy to say just pick whichever one you want.
But this is Fire Emblem, so personal interest isn’t the only thing involved. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide outlining the advantages and potential disadvantages of each House based on the major areas your House choice affects.
Some Preliminary Points
The story is roughly the same for the game’s first part, regardless of which House you choose. However, that changes in a big way after Chapter 10.
Some have likened the three major branching routes in Three Houses to Shin Megami Tensei‘s chaos, law, and neutral routes, and it’s a reasonable comparison to make based on each House leader’s motivations plus their relationship to other nations and the Church of Seiros.
Note some minor story spoilers will follow below for each house.
While you can recruit characters from other Houses if you meet certain requirements, it takes time and concentrated effort. Also, some characters can join your party regardless of which path you choose, like Alois, Shamir, Cyril and Catherine.
Still, you’ll be sticking with your original House for a good deal of the game, so it’s worth choosing the ones you think are most interesting or have the best potential for your playstyle.
The Golden Deer house has Claude as its leader and draws its students from the Leicester Alliance. The Alliance is a newcomer to Fodlan’s political stage, having broken off from the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus in the recent past and eschewed monarchs in favor of an aristocratic council.
Since its social structure isn’t quite as rigid as the other two regions of Fodlan, Golden Deer has a decent mix of commoners and nobility. It’s basically the ragtag bunch, with a wide range of personalities and backgrounds represented, and that’s not a bad thing.
For one, it lends to some lively support conversations, where seemingly mismatched characters learn to understand people completely different from themselves and grapple with the Alliance’s manifold political difficulties.
For another, it makes Golden Deer the perfect House to experiment with Three Houses‘ open class system. This is the path to choose for those familiar with Fire Emblem‘s usual mechanics who want to break out and experiment with something different.
Despite the promotional materials making Golden Deer out to be full of archers, the characters are all fairly versatile, with just a couple of exceptions.
Here are some standouts from the Golden Deer.
Hilda is one of the better adjutants in the game. She has high Strength and Speed growth rates, with decent Dexterity and Defense as well, meaning she’s pretty much suited to any class. She’s also one of the only characters you can make a speedy Armored Knight out of, which fits well with her Budding Talent in Heavy Armor.
Like all physical characters, Hilda’s resistance isn’t the greatest, though she can take a few hits from magic users. Whatever class you choose, don’t neglect her Brawl skills, because her natural speed and the Gauntlet weapons’ higher attack speed mean you’ll frequently land more than one attack.
Lysithea is the game’s strongest magic user. She has the highest Speed and Magic rates and can learn dark magic, black magic, and white magic. Being female, she can’t be a Dark Mage; but after the Intermediate level, that’s not really a problem anyway.
Unlike Dorothea, Lysithea has a natural affinity with Faith, which makes her versatile as an offensive and defensive magic user (like Marianne, but with higher magic). That’s good, since she learns Seraphim as a white magic spell, a highly useful attack effective against monsters.
Stick the Fiendish Blow skill on her, keep her out of direct combat, and watch the sparks fly.
Lorenz might not be quite as astounding as Lysithea and Hilda, but he’s a useful character nonetheless. What makes him stand out most is his growth stats, with HP, Strength, Magic, and Speed all growing at a good rate. Like Hilda, it means he’s a useful unit in almost any class.
If you need another offensive magic user, though, stick Lorenz on the Monk and Mage path; otherwise, you don’t get to use any magic at all, and his Magic growth might not be quite so good. As a Monk, he can still use regular weapons as well as magic, plus there’s no penalty for the Strength stat.
Additionally, while the game and Lorenz’s own instruction requests lean towards making him a Cavalier then Dark Knight, it’s not advisable to make him just a Cavalier at the Intermediate level, else he’ll lose out on his naturally higher Speed growth.
Going with the chaos, law, and neutral motif, the Golden Deer path is the neutral option. Claude and the Leicester Alliance aren’t caught up in the Church’s politics like the Adrestian Empire and Holy Kingdom are. Claude himself is quite willing to uncover the Church’s darker side in a bid to achieve his own agenda, which itself is a bit on the murky side.
That’s because neutral isn’t “good” or bad; neutral doesn’t seek to upend the status quo, nor does it try to uphold it.
If you want a balanced overview of what’s going on in Fodlan, with a slant towards the outsider’s viewpoint, then Golden Deer is for you. It lays a good foundation for seeing the other, more extreme options in a New Game+ campaign as well.
The Blue Lions House is connected to the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, a relatively new nation in Fodlan. It was once part of the Adrestian Empire, but rebelled and achieved its independence thanks in part to assistance from the Church of Seiros.
As one would expect from a country with a shaky claim to independence, its nobility and legitimacy to rule play an important role, though it’s not quite so aristocrat heavy as the Black Eagles house.
In fact, Blue Lions is more your traditional Fire Emblem setup in several ways, not least because of how it deals with character builds.
It’s a great choice for series newcomers or those who don’t want to dive into the class system’s intricacies right away. Blue Lions’ students all fit a definite role, with Dedue being your ready-made Armored Knight, Sylvain’s stats and strengths fitting the Cavalier role perfectly, and so on.
While they can deviate from that role should you so desire, it’s fine to sit back and let them follow their established paths as well.
That doesn’t mean some characters don’t stand out, though.
Ingrid is definitely made for the Pegasus Knight class and beyond, with her high Speed and aptitude for Flying. However, she’s a bit of a rarity among Pegasus Knights in Fire Emblem who aren’t named Catria. She combines Florina’s and Farina’s higher Strength growth rates with Vanessa’s better defense, topped off with a very good HP growth rate and good Luck.
Now, none of these are astoundingly high. However, the base Strength value and 35% chance of increasing every level, combined with high Speed, mean Ingrid can deal a lot of damage to most foes. The Pegasus Knight’s dismount feature this time around also means she isn’t automatically vulnerable to archers either.
Yet her Defense rate is decent enough to where you could put Ingrid in any class, and her Strength and Speed could help her clear the field regardless of what role she’s in.
Felix is one of the strongest units in the Blue Lions house. He has naturally high Strength and Speed, with decent Defense, good Luck, and sound Dexterity. His skill strengths mean he’s suited for almost any physical weapon type, and even if Felix naturally favors Swords, his high Speed and Dexterity mean he’d be one of the game’s more capable Axe users as well.
Many players build him into a Swordmaster, though, and that’s not a bad route to take either. Swordmasters in Fire Emblem are notorious for being speedy more than strong, with lower defense rates holding that speed back as well.
Not so for Felix, which means he’d also do well as a Thief and Assassin, two other classes whose effectiveness is typically held back by lower stats elsewhere. His Defense is still on the lower side, but even though he might not be able to hold a line entirely by himself, he’s still an invaluable unit to have.
The Blue Lions is the law or status quo option, hence the blue color and emphasis on personal virtue.
It focuses on a specific noble (Dimitri) and his attempt to find the cause behind a tragedy that befell his house and land. That quest involves fending off threats to both crown and country with the help of fellow nobles and some commoners as well.
It’s an intense and personal story. The darkness in Dimitri hinted at first thing in the game comes out strong, though it’s not all there is to the northern prince.
Because Faerghus centers around Dimitri as its sole legitimate ruler, the story itself is also Dimitri-centric. It has various points where characters leave and come back later, and it doesn’t necessarily explain the most about what’s going on in Fodlan.
However, if you go into it knowing there’s more than what you see in just this path, it shouldn’t be an issue.
The Black Eagles
The Black Eagles House is the epitome of nobility, if only in name and heritage. Every character is from a high-ranking noble house in the Adrestian Empire, except Dorothea — but, being an internationally famous opera diva, even she isn’t your average commoner.
They aren’t all stodgy, though. Support conversations center around a variety of topics, from the politics of an ancient superpower to deep-rooted family discord and beyond.
The Black Eagles is presented as the mage House, which is pretty much true for the most part. Hubert, Dorothea, and Linhardt are all built as mages, which can hamper your team building thanks to that role’s glaring weaknesses of low defense and not much strength.
It’s another reason why Black Eagles wouldn’t be a great first choice, at least for a newcomer. There are other characters who pick up the slack, but it offers a bit more of a challenge than the other two routes since those like Caspar, Bernadetta, and Ferdinand aren’t shining examples of their respective strengths.
There are a couple of characters that help mitigate that challenge, though.
Aside from Edelgard, Petra is the star of Black Eagles. Her Strength, Dexterity, and Speed are all high, and Defense is average, all of which means Petra is yet another unit who could fit in almost any class.
High speed counters the Cavalier and Armored Knight’s speed penalties and can help maximize Petra’s naturally high Strength growth. That better Strength and Dexterity mean when she attacks, it’s more than likely going to hit and do a lot of damage, so she’s also a good fit for the Assassin and Swordmaster classes.
Black Eagles is short on ranged physical attackers with good strength, so putting a bow on Petra is a good idea too.
If you don’t choose Black Eagles, it’s still worthwhile to try and recruit Petra anyway.
Of all the mages in the game, Linhardt is one of the most well-rounded. He doesn’t have the highest Magic or Speed rates; Hubert and Lysithea outrank him there. But he does have the highest Defense of the mage-type characters, good Dexterity, and good Luck.
The game naturally pushes him towards the Priest class, but you want him as a Mage (even a Dark Mage at the Intermediate level, if you can get your hands on a Dark Seal) to help increase his damage output. Because he has higher defense, he won’t be as susceptible to dying after one attack like Dorothea, Hubert, and Lysithea are, which is a very useful trade-off for a slightly lower Magic growth rate.
Put Faith as a weekly goal, and you’re on the track to a versatile and sturdy Gremory later in the game or even a Holy Knight if you want to shake things up.
The Black Eagles get the most attention in Three Houses. They feature in all the promotional materials; the in-game tutorials show Black Eagles members; and Edelgard is the most popular character from the game.
There’s a pretty good reason for pushing Black Eagles so much, and it’s to do with how the story evolves on that route. Be aware there are some spoilers about Black Eagles here.
Edelgard is the chaos choice. Her goal is to re-shape society, taking the focus off the importance of Crests in determining who has power and ultimately defying the Church of Seiros and basically anyone else who might stand in her way.
You get to choose whether you want to side with Edelgard or the Church — sort of.
In Chapter 11, Throne of Knowledge, you have the option to speak with Edelgard. If you do, she asks you to accompany her to the Adrestian Empire’s capitol of Enbarr. Say yes, and you start along the Black Eagles’ branching story path, Crimson Flower.
Say no or don’t talk to her at all during this chapter, and you automatically take the Silver Snow route for Part Two of the game.
If you do accompany Edelgard, you’ll have another choice during the chapter’s main mission, where you must decide whether to side with or against her. Siding with unlocks the Crimson Flower route, while siding against puts you on the Silver Snow route.
The Silver Snow route automatically gets Church-affiliated characters on your team, including Flayn, Seteth, and Catherine. Since the Crimson Flower route is opposed to the Church, these characters won’t join you if you go down that path.
Three Houses doesn’t have a true ending, but given Edelgard’s role in the story regardless of which House you choose, it’s no secret you get a completely different perspective if you go down the Crimson Flower route.
For that reason, it might be best to choose Black Eagles as your second or third playthrough, so you have at least one other perspective on how things unfold.
To avoid playing through Part One again, it’s be a good idea to make two save files when you start Chapter 11, so after finishing one route, you can start back at the branch again later.
Which House you choose will definitely affect how you approach the game’s various challenges, so it’s worth considering what you want before deciding on your allegiance. It’s also highly recommended to play through the game at least twice to see a wider view of the drama engulfing Fodlan.
Once you’ve chosen your ideal House and are ready for war, check out our other Fire Emblem Three Houses guides to help you survive for the long haul.