Ranking the Golden Deer house is by far the most difficult group in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. As a group we consider them rather top heavy, featuring some truly fantastic high performing units, followed by middling stragglers that struggle to keep up. It’s home to two of the very best non lord units in the game, a rather strange jack of all trades and a super strong girl who enjoys shouting her own name, twice. In story terms the house is very much the third act, striking out alone, separated from the pointed rivalry happening elsewhere. This holds true in unit terms too, with each member feeling like a bit of an outsider, replete with their own foibles and baggage. Still, we’re not here for the story are we? So let’s get on with rating them on the basis of their combat prowess shall we.
Golden Deer Tier List
In what has to be one of the closest Amazing Tier rankings that we’ve written yet, Claude just about comes out on top of the Golden Deer pile, though not without strong competition from within. As a unit, and indeed a lord type, he’s just like you’d imagine; strong in almost all physical classes, designed to lead the team on the battlefield. What separates him from the others is his personal class, Barbarossa, which plugs the lower than average strength gap that he naturally has whilst retaining his fantastic Skill and Speed. The real cherry on the top is the Wind God skill, learned by mastering the Barbarossa class, allowing him to deal huge chunks of damage from a frankly ridiculous range. This does come late however, and we will admit that throughout the early to mid game he will regularly be outclassed by our other top choices here.
It’s hard to put into words just how good Leonie is from a statistical standpoint. She is, essentially, a female version of Claude, with the only real growth differences being that she’s better defensively but slightly worse at handling battalions, which is a trade off that we’re totally fine with. There is a little hyperbole going on there of course, after all starting stats are a thing and Claude has some additional benefits, but the fact that Leonie is being discussed in the same realm as lord-type characters is telling. As a unit she is capable of turning her hand to any female physical class, often out performing any other character considered ‘canon’ to the class, and she’s one of the only units we consider recruiting to every single house, no matter what.
Along with Constance, Lysithea is the glassiest of cannons available in Three Houses. Much like Lute, Lucius and Artur from Fire Emblem of old, she has tremendous attacking power available at the expense of durability. It’s a testament to her power however, that she manages to climb to the top tier of the Golden Deer list. Her sheer statistical power is a sight to behold thanks to her Magic, Skill and Speed all having very high growth rates, but it’s her spell selections that truly take her over the edge. Not only will she learn fantastic Reason skills, such as Luna and Hades, but she’ll also grab Warp and Nosferatu from the Faith tree, making her an all round high performing spell caster. When all of this combines with her double crests and personal skill, you’ll have a truly incredible unit capable of doling out huge amounts of damage in every turn.
It’s rare that we complain about a unit being unbalanced, especially one with such good statistics, but unfortunately Hilda suffers with some niggling flaws. As noted her statistics are very good, to the point where you’ll often find her sporting the highest Strength and Charm in your team, but it’s not this that let’s her down. Sadly she has a Bane in Authority, meaning it’ll grow very slowly, which sadly restricts her to weaker Battalions for the majority of the game. Similarly, her combat art selection leaves a little to be desired – they’re not terrible, just not the best. Most players won’t notice these flaws, especially if they avoid Maddening mode, but those that like a challenge may find she really starts to fall behind as the game approaches it’s final third, and it’s this that keeps her out of our top tier.
As much as we love the character of Marianne, and indeed the voice of Haru, unfortunately she does not quite reach our top tier. She’s the canon healer for the Golden Deer, and we must admit that she achieves this requirement rather easily, aided by a good spell selection including the long range heal, Physic. She’s not bad at using attacking magic too, having access to the excellent Thoron skill. The problem is that well… Those are the only real highlights. Statistically she’s not going to win any awards, and when you start to compare her to units that have epic healing spells like Fortify, she doesn’t quite match up. She’s a great healer and a useful mage, nothing more, nothing less.
The canon archer archetype for the Golden Deer house is Ignatz, and we should preface this by saying that we really don’t like him as a unit, save for one thing. For starters his statistics are poor, and his growths do not help in this regard. He’s never going to get enough defensive statistics to become a melee class of sorts, and unfortunately his statistics and skills mean he’s never going to be a world beating version of his base archer class, so why is he in the middle tier? Well, with enough experience pushed into the Authority skill he’ll unlock a fantastic variety of Rally skills – Speed, Dexterity and Strength to be exact, meaning he has the ability to significantly increase the power of others around him.
Why do Intelligent Systems insist on putting units such as this in their games?
Lorenz is a unit that the developer has chosen to make very balanced in every statistic, by which we mean every statistic, both magic and strength included. What this means is that as he grows he’ll gradually level every stat at a lower than average rate. In theory this means that you can make Lorenz either a physical attacker or a magic user, or even a combination of both. The problem with units such as this is that they can never excel in either department, leaving you with a middling unit capable of doing everything… Poorly. Lorenz isn’t a bad unit, far from it, and he’s ideal for the much maligned Dark Knight class thanks to his overall growths, but he’s never going to approach the power available to those that specialise.
Oh the plight of the Armour Knight. Ever since Draug have we had to suffer these lot clogging up our teams with their high defence, strength and nothing else. Unfortunately Raphael finds himself stuck in the mould of Horace and Kellam that came before him, resigned to moving very small distances and choking the occasional point. This wouldn’t be so bad were he able to adapt and take on another role, but his bases and growths are so poor that he’ll struggle to be anything other than an armoured lump in the middle of the battlefield. In truth, having a super tank unit can have some uses, especially in the early portions of Maddening mode, but such things are an exception rather than the norm. If you really must use him then it’s best to stick to fist weapons to get the most out of his damage, just don’t look to closely at one of the DLC characters, Balthus, who is superior in every single way…