You’ll only have a handful of characters available to you when starting Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but that number can quickly expand if you play your cards right. Namely, you’ll be recruiting them and having them join your house/attend your lectures.
What Is Recruiting?
A staple in the series, recruiting is the act of convincing neutral or enemy characters to join your party. You’d usually have to approach the character in question with the correct unit, but Three Houses changes things up by having this process occur at the academy instead.
As you might expect, this means that recruiting is no longer a matter of talking to someone with the right character — you’ll need the appropriate stats and proficiencies in order to convince your desired character to join your house.
Each character has a different set of requirements (usually stats) before they’ll join, which are as follows (Spoilers Ahead!):
- Edelgard – N/A
- Hubert – N/A
- Ferdinand – DEX & Heavy Armor
- Linhardt – MAG & Reason
- Caspar – STR & Brawling
- Bernadetta – STR & Bow
- Dorothea – CHA & Authority
- Petra – DEX & Riding
- Dimitri – N/A
- Dedue – N/A
- Felix – SPD & Sword
- Sylvain – CHA & Reason (Instantly if F!Byleth)
- Ingrid – DEX & Flying
- Mercedes – MAG & Bow
- Annette – MAG & Faith
- Ashe – CHA & Lance
- Claude – N/A
- Hilda – CHA & Axe (Not immediately available during BL Route, completely unavailable during BE Route)
- Leonie – STR & Lance
- Raphael – STR & Heavy Armor
- Lorenz – CHA & Reason
- Ignatz – DEX & Authority
- Marianne – MAG & Riding
- Lysithea – MAG & Faith
Church of Seiros
- Cyril – Available starting Chapter 6 (Unavailable during BE Route)
- Flayn – Automatic after completing Chapter 6 (Unavailable during BE Route)
- Manuela – Available starting Chapter 8, Byleth needs to be at least Level 15
- Hanneman – Available starting Chapter 8, Byleth needs to be at least Level 15
Knights of Seiros
- Catherine – Available starting Chapter 4, Byleth needs to be at least Level 15 (Unavailable during BE Route)
- Shamir – Available starting Chapter 7, Byleth needs to be at least Level 15
- Alois – Available starting Chapter 11
- Seteth – Automatic during Chapter 12 (Unavailable during BE Route)
- Gilbert – Automatic during Chapter 13 (Blue Lions exclusive)
How Do I Recruit? Part I
I should mention before continuing that it’s entirely possible to recruit every character available in any given route. Granted, it’s harder in some than in others.
With that out of the way, there is one way to make recruiting easier: Support Ranks.
Starting at C and ending at A or S, increasing Byleth’s support rank with other characters will relax the stat and proficiency requirements needed to recruit them. The exact numbers are unknown, but I’ve found the following values to generally hold true:
- Default – Stat 20 & Skill C
- C Rank Support – Stat 15 & Skill D+
- B Rank Support – Stat 10 & skill D
More often than not, it’s easiest to just get B Rank Support and simply use the various activities available to Byleth to fill in the gaps (mostly Faculty Training), but be aware that this may prove to be a challenge for the following characters since their B Rank supports are story-locked:
It’s also worth mentioning that these estimated values are just cut-off points, as there’s still some RNG involved (as is customary in Fire Emblem). There’s still a chance the student in question might accept your invitation even if Byleth doesn’t meet the requirements, and they may still decline even when Byleth does. For example, despite having a B Rank Support with Ingrid and Ashe, both declined to join my class since their required proficiencies were at E+ and E, respectively. However, they later asked to join my class during the following week.
In other words, don’t fret if a student declines to join at first — they may approach you later of their own volition.
How Do I Recruit? Part II
Faculty Training will be mandatory if you want the appropriate proficiency ranks, but that’s pretty obvious, right? Really, it’s the accumulation of support boosts that’s the hard part. You can meander around and get B Rank for one student in two months, or achieve the same result with several within the same time span.
Here are some simple guidelines to help make the process easier:
- Increase Your Professor Level: As your Professor Level rises, the amount of activities that you can do each day will increase in kind. These activities are integral in building support rank and increasing your parameters, so having a high Professor Level is paramount to recruiting quickly and efficiently.
- Talk With Every Student At Least Once A Month: Everyone’s dialogue changes at the start of each new chapter and you typically gain support boosts when giving appropriate responses.
- Check The Advice Box In The Church: Once available, you can visit the church and answer a random set of questions from various students. It doesn’t take up any time, and you gain support boosts if you give favorable answers.
- Choir Practice: While on the subject of churches, you should try to make time for Choir Practice when possible. On top of the Professor Level EXP and support boosts, Byleth also gets Faith and Authority EXP whenever he does this activity. This is especially important when trying to recruit Hilda since this is her preferred activity.
- Always Use The Greenhouse: Gardening is surprisingly one of the most useful features in Three Houses. Not only does it grant Professor Level EXP, but you can also get crops that can be used as gifts or for stat boosts, and all of this comes at zero time investment for the player.
- Invite Students To Lunch: This activity takes time, but it yields large support boosts depending on the meal the invitees eat. It also has the advantage of providing Professor Level EXP and can be done multiple times with different students.
- Return Lost Items: You know those random items you find strewn about all over the academy? Those are lost items that can be returned to their owner for large support boosts.
- Give Gifts: Just like with lost items, you can give these to your students in exchange for a support boost. Every character has a set of preferred items, resulting in a larger support boost when given. You can even start buying them yourself once a month once you complete a specific quest in Chapter 5 and special merchants start visiting the monastery.
- Owl Feathers: Everyone loves Owl Feathers.
- Mission Assistance: Unless you wait for Flayn to join your house, your group will always be one short when doing missions. In order to fill in this gap, you can temporarily recruit another character and have them participate in any battles that occur during the current month. They won’t gain any experience, but they do gain support boosts. There’s no reason not to use this feature.
- Host Birthday Tea Parties: I wasn’t entirely consistent in doing this, but hosting a tea party to celebrate someone’s birthday can be an effective way to increase support levels. Not only does striking up the correct conversations yield support boosts, but you can shower the guest with gifts afterward if you got a “Perfect Tea Time.” Not to mention there’s the nice +1 CHA bonus that comes with it all.
Oh, here’s one thing NOT to do:
- Seminars: The only time attending a Seminar is worthwhile is that one time early in the game when you can either do that or Rest. Otherwise, your time is better spent doing literally anything else; whether that be Faculty Training, grinding out Professor Level EXP or leaving the academy to battle.
Okay, Got It. Who Do You Recommend To Recruit?
There’s no reason not to try and recruit everyone in a single playthrough, but there are definitely some characters from each house who you can prioritize and get quickly:
*I won’t list any Archers (Bernadetta, Ashe and Ignatz), since they’re all good and somewhat interchangeable. Increased bow range with T2+ Bow-focused classes and Close Counter for melee counterattacks was a mistake. I also won’t mention Ferdinand or Leonie since you’ll more than likely unlock other characters with less effort.
- Petra: With high growths in SPD and DEX, along with decent growths in HP and STR Petra is a character who can excel in any physical-oriented class. For instance, you can easily train her in Lances so she gets a stat bonus in RES when completing the exam for Pegasus Knight before moving on to Wyvern Rider (and later Wyvern Lord) to dominate the skies. Of course, you can also go down the default route and let her become an incredible Assassin.
- Dorothea: Every house has a character who is geared towards becoming a Dancer, but Dorothea is the Dancer’s Dancer. Decent magic growth, high charm and access to Meteor? It’s like she was designed for the class…or maybe the class was designed for her?
- Felix: Boasting a healthy mix of HP, STR, SPD and DEX, Felix is your quintessential Swordmaster-in-training. His Personal Skill falls off in value once you gain access to Battalions that add to ATK, but his crest procs frequently, allowing him to do more damage than what the Combat Forecast displays. In addition, saving all the citizens in his Paralogue nets him a unique shield that occasionally halves any damage he receives.
- Sylvain: If you’re F!Byleth then you get this great Cavalier with no effort whatsoever! He doesn’t have the same offensive output as Felix, but is sturdier and has the added benefit of being a mounted unit. He also has a decent spell repertoire and a budding talent in Reason, so making him a Dark Knight — instead of a Paladin — wouldn’t be the worst thing you could do.
- Ingrid: Basically a Petra who traded in some of her offensive stats in favor of defensive ones — RES, in particular. You can train her in axes and make her a Brigand to get Death Blow and extra STR before having her go back down the Pegasus Knight line or doubling down on Axes to make her a Wyvern Master/Lord with unusually high RES.
- Mercedes: If you’re looking for an exceptional healer, then Mercedes will be the cure for what ails you. Between her high MAG growth and great spell repertoire, she’s well suited for staying in the backlines and supporting everyone from afar. She also has the Live to Serve Personal Skill, allowing her to simultaneously heal herself and an ally.
- Lorenz: Well-rounded, perhaps to a fault, Lorenz is the type of character whose success will depend entirely on which way the winds of fortune blow. If you’re fortunate, he’ll become a solid mounted unit or caster (maybe even both by becoming a Dark Knight!). If you’re unlucky, on the other hand, he’ll become a middling character with no redeeming qualities beyond his Paralogue where you get the busted Thyrsus relic which adds +2 range to magic attacks, in addition to granting the Aegis and Pavise skills.
- Lysithea: Whoever said big things come in small packages must have been talking about Lysithea because she’s an absolute monster. Most of her growths are poor, but she has it where it counts: MAG, SPD and DEX. Her high SPD not only allows her to dodge often, but it also does wonders for her AS (Attack Speed), allowing her to launch plenty of double attacks. She’s great enough as is, but if you want to see her at her best, then pick up the aforementioned Thysrus relic to turn her into a tiny nuke with an extra blanket of defense. Also, her B Rank Reason spell, Dark Spikes T, gets an honorable mention for being highly effective against the Death Knight. (Note: Her spells are classified as Dark Magic, rather than Black Magic, so the Warlock class does nothing for her)
- Raphael: You don’t necessarily need a tank, but Raphael will be a great one if you do. Between his high growths in HP, STR and DEF, it’s unlikely that any physical attack without an advantage will damage much, if at all. Do keep him away from mages, though. Between his low SPD and RES, they’ll likely kill him the moment they set eyes upon him.
That’s it for recruiting in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. It seems like a daunting process at first, but it shouldn’t be too long before you have the entire student body (the recruitable ones, at least) under one banner once you know the tricks involved.