Tackling any high Fire Emblem difficulty level, of which Maddening is the highest in Three Houses, is always a tricky proposition. Some would argue that this is where the series comes alive, where the tense, delicate dance of positioning is always one move away from the game over screen. Whilst we would completely agree with such things, we’re also all too aware of just how difficult these modes can seem at first, especially for players that are used to throwing their units at any targets without issue in a casual mode. To help you on your way then, we’ve
One At A Time
For some players, our first piece of advice comes rather naturally to them. Yes, our advice is to take on one target at a time, and we firmly expect some of you to roll your eyes at such things. To that certain subset of players, this is exactly how they play Fire Emblem or indeed any tactical, grid based RPG games, but we know as well as any that this method is not infallible. Watch any expert play their way through a new difficulty mode, and you’ll soon see them fail at this very point.
You see, it’s not that your team isn’t capable of taking down more than one enemy. Far from it, in fact. You’re likely to have a few statistical beasts in there that can stand up to a few hits on the hardest of modes, so what’s the worst that can happen, right? The problem arises when you take on two opponents in one player phase, but fail to remove one of them before your turn is up. Now you have a rogue unit attacking you, and it’s likely that they’ll be joined by yet more in the next round. Another round after that one and well, you get the point. So take one down at a time, and resist your ego when it tells you that you’re the greatest tactician to ever live.
Building on our above point, is to be meticulous when it comes to your range markers. It’s possible to activate the marker that shows you every enemy range, and this should certainly be activated on the majority of occasions, but you absolutely must use the individual version at the same time. It’s through creative use of these markers that you’ll be able to sniff out that single grid square, the single slot through which the developers clearly designed an encounter to be conquered. These golden tiles, in which only one enemy can attack or reach, are your ticket to success in Maddening Mode.
Now that we have determined that you’re taking on a single enemy, and indeed using your grid to ensure that only one will be engaged, it’s time to consider the bait. Generally speaking, you’ll want a unit that’s defensively sound to take the hit, however we do understand that this is not always possible. You may have to consider a quick unit, perhaps positioned on a brush tile to increase avoidance or some such, but either way you’re going to want a unit to survive this attack. This will then allow the remainder of your units, which you should position within the subsequent attack range yet safe enough to avoid a squishing, to move in and finish the target off.
You’ll know that you’ve truly advanced in Fire Emblem skill when you begin to plan the turn after the one you’re about to face. After all, you may have baited one unit into range, but your attackers moved into position to finish them off, and they’re likely to be in range of subsequent enemy forces…
Survival Of The Fittest
Happily, those attackers that just moved into place can stand up for themselves right? Well now, this point is often the downfall of many players attempting a high difficulty run: Your favourite unit might not be very good. This is something that quite a lot of people struggle with in Three Houses. Sure, she might say the right things and generally act quite flirtatious, but whilst someone like Anna can potentially contribute to finishing a unit off, she’s certainly not going to be able to take a subsequent attack.
Now, we’re not claiming that you have to be completely heartless in choosing a team, but you’ll certainly have to make some hard choices. Full teams tend not to survive entire runs on high difficulty Fire Emblem games, and even if units do not die, a few terrible level ups can completely ruin their effectiveness. Our eventual advice then, is to not get too attached to one single unit; you will have to make tough decisions, so keep your shipping runs to the more casual of playthroughs.
Fire Emblem games are nothing if not malleable, and there is an option for keeping units relevant, even if their stats have given up the ghost: Forging. In fact, we’d argue that upgrading equipment in this way is something that absolutely should be done, regardless of the unit in question, after all making a stronger unit a bit better will essentially accomplish the same thing. Hell, stronger units may end up in a position where they can double opponents, or allow them to finish them off without using another unit, so it’s always worthwhile. Take care not to spend all of your money of course, after all you’re likely to use a lot of healing items on your way, but don’t skimp when it comes to making meaningful adjustments to key equipment.
Admittedly, it’s quite easy to ignore Battalions in Three Houses. We could argue that some skills in previous games can approach their effects, but nothing in the series to this point really compares to them. They’re essentially an additional piece of equipment that can be used for an assortment of effects. Most of these, at least at first look in the early game, amount to an area of effect attack combined with a root. This is a great way to halt enemies in their tracks of course, but their benefit runs deeper.
As the game progresses, powerful and varied types of Battalions will reveal themselves, including movement boosting effects, huge group heals and more powerful attacks, all of which come with a variety of passive statistical bonuses. In a mode such as Maddening, you’re going to want all of the help you can get. They’re free stats, powerful skills and a method for rooting opponents, so you really should use them. Just beware that the Charm stat actually matters here.
Categories: Fire Emblem: Three Houses