Early Game Skill Rank Investment Guide
Posted by Rengor1997 | July 23 2020
Just like in most Fire Emblem games, the early game of Maddening is the hardest part of the game due to lack of available options and not having been able to train your students, so you're stuck with what the game gives you against highly levelled enemies. What I want to provide with this guide is a nice baseline of what to invest in with the students in the early game (roughly between Chapters 1 to 4) in order to have an easier time overall.
This guide will assume no paid DLC and no NG+, though at the end I'll talk about the Ashen Wolves themselves. Since it's so early into the campaign, I'll assume no recruitments besides Sylvain since he's free for Female Byleth - though of course you're able to get for example Chapter 3 week 1 Lysithea in LTC, this is not something I expect players to actually do in a normal run. This will talk about each student from an angle of using them or not using them, with the exception of Dimitri and Claude because there's 0 reason to not use them.
I'll be using the terms "Skill Ranks" and "WEXP" interchangeably.
The Chapter 2 tutoring sessions are assumed to take place at the student's baseline 50 motivation unless stated otherwise, since this is what the students start as. After Chapter 2, there's no reason to have motivation below 100 for tutoring. For the week where you're forced to do a Seminar or Rest, I always assume the Seteth seminar is chosen, as it gives a lot of good benefits I'll discuss later. You can adjust who goes to a seminar by changing their goals to align with what he's teaching (lances/authority) and then once the seminar is done switch them back to what they were. Whenever I say "If you're not using X unit", what I usually mean is that you won't be using them long-term but are still deploying them for short-term benefits.
If you need a brief refresher, here's the page that goes over skill ranks and here's the page for seminars. The most important points are: Goal WEXP is 16/20/24 per week for Bane/Neutral/Boon, with solo focus multiplying gain by 1.5x. Seminar WEXP from Seteth in Authority is 28 at E+ Neutral and 42 at E+ Boon – other values aren't as numerically important.
This post covers all units in the game, so it's pretty long. Use the links below to jump to particular houses.
With the three house lords, one of the more important aspects of their kit is getting access to Blaze at Chapter 3, which covers a wide area and is on good battalions. Edelgard can also go for Lance or Axe rank, but I feel like Weight -3 will do more for her overall and it'll let her pass the Fortress Knight certification later for 17 base defense.
As such, set her goals to Authority/Armor initially, and then once they hit C focus on getting axe rank up and lances up to Pegasus requirement. She's overall not a high priority to tutor at this stage of the game, even though you want a lot of ranks on her eventually. Once the immediate things are taken care of and your professor level increases, tutor her.
If you're doing a playthrough where your only goal is to go on the Silver Snow route and you don't feel like using Edelgard a lot, put her on a Solo Faith focus. She's force deployed in Chapter 7-9 and the Sothis paralogue – this way she can contribute there with Heal/Recover/Stride without requiring any training.
Assuming you'll be using him, then for Chapter 2, start by doing 1 week in Reason/Authority, then swap to Reason/Faith and attend the Seteth seminar. This will get Hubert to D authority giving him Rally Magic and access to +mag battalions. Tutor him in Reason in ch 2 to get him to learn Mire faster.
In Chapter 3, you should tutor him every week in lances to unlock the budding talent before the mission. Finally in chapter 4, if you tutor him in Faith for 4 WEXP total, he'll reach Heal on the last week before the mission. This gives him a good head start for the mage roles of combat and secondary healing.
If not using him (like if going Silver Snow), then just focus on getting Mire B and Rally Magic, but you're likely going to bench him after Chapter 5 at the latest.
Generally Ferdinand is mostly concerned with rushing Swift Strikes ASAP, which while it won't realistically happen until Chapter 7 at the absolute earliest, is still very important to do. His main thing to get early is Rally Dex from D authority, so set him to Lance/Authority and attend Seteth Seminar, then once he's at D swap to Lance/Axe for Brigand certification.
Seal Speed I don't really view as valuable most of the time until the Black Beast, but getting it should also give Ferdinand the option to promote to Armored Knight for the 12 defense base, so that is something to consider. Weight -3 is not worth pursuing on him. If not using him, then just get him Rally Dex.
Her main bread and butter is her Vengeance combat art and as such a large portion of her early training will focus around trying to get it. As a result, you should set her to a Lance/Axe focus and attend the forced seminar. You're aiming to have Vengeance by the Chapter 4 mission, so prioritize her Lance tutoring over most of your other units. A useful side-effect is that she'll have Tempest Lance for Chapter 2 which gives her a damage output that rivals Dimitri.
With the axe focus, she'll reach D+ around Chapter 6, allowing you to certify Brigand at that time. Once Vengeance is done you can focus on her other ranks if you wish, like her Riding budding talent or her Bow/Authority rank, but the immediate priority is Vengeance.
Dorothea's best utility option in the early game is her Rally Charm, which on Maddening turns gambits from unreliable to maximal hit rate. As a result, we need to get her from E to D authority, which requires 100 WEXP. If you're not using her long-term, just set her to Solo Authority focus, tutor in Authority at 50 motivation and attend the Seteth Seminar to get it.
If you are using her, then make sure to eat with her at the dining hall for 100 motivation and then set her to Reason/Authority and tutor her into Authority as much as possible. You need to get 20 extra Authority compared to solo focus, so either some combination of greats/perfects, or if that's not enough, give her a battalion during the Chapter 2 practice battle and cast some spells and/or use gambits.
In the absolute worst case scenario of 4 good instructs, you'll need 8 extra WEXP, which is 4 attacks or 2 gambits or 2 attacks + 1 gambit. After that's done, if you're not using her she doesn't need anything else, but if you are then get her to Thoron and unlock her Budding Talent and get to Heal.
Petra's main thing for self-improvement is getting to D bows for both Curved Shot and Mini Bow access and then later gaining the Pegasus certification as well as early Tempest Lance. As such, setting her to Lance/Bow focus and then tutoring her from base motivation in Chapter 2 will be sufficient to have D bows by the Red Canyon.
After that, other than the lance rank you can either pursue D+ bows for the Archer certification or swap to axes for the Brigand and later Wyvern certifications and get to D+ bows naturally just by using them which is very feasible. Overall besides the D bows not a high priority to train which is good as you have a limited amount of instructions per week.
Since he starts at D+ Faith, it's possible to get him to C and learn Physic by Chapter 2, which is very important as it gives you ranged healing and increases your heal amount from 5 to 8. As such, for Chapter 2 set him to a solo Faith focus and instruct him in Faith.
Once he has Physic, you can set him to a Reason/Faith goal until he reaches C Reason for Cutting Gale and guaranteed Mage certification, then set him back to solo Faith until he hits Warp. His Authority rank isn't important, he can carry Stride around if nothing else.
So straight up, there's no real reason to deploy Caspar if you're not planning to use him and considering this is in-house Caspar, he's really bad. But if you are using him then I guess early on the Axe/Brawling goal will be his best bet. He gets Bombard at C+ brawling which will help his damage output.
If you're serious about using him then definitely make sure he passes the Armored Knight certification, as his defense will most likely be lacking otherwise. Other than that not much to say, with Female Byleth you straight up never need to deploy him ever.
Just like Edelgard, Dimitri's biggest thing is reaching Blaze by Chapter 3. Other than that he doesn't need to train much, though D+ bows for Curved Shot and Archer is very nice on him, so the goals early on should be Bows/Authority.
A priority for him is to reach A Authority in a timely fashion for his Battalion Wrath + Battalion Vantage combo, so a lot of his part 1 WEXP will go towards that. Not much else to say beyond just training his Lance rank.
Dedue doesn't really need much for his tanking capabilities in the early game so the main thing to invest on him is to get Vengeance at Chapter 4 in a similar fashion as Bernadetta to just delete things effectively. As such, set him to Lances/Axes.
Past that he just wants to train his usual ranks for whatever path you want to take him on, though obviously Death Blow and Hit +20 should be gotten. Even if you don't plan to use him later, this will be helpful to you and he can transition into Dimitri's adjutant.
With his E+ in bows he can reach the Mini Bow and Curved Shot for Chapter 2, though if he was deployed to Chapter 1 chances are he already shot enough with a bow to not need tutoring. Set him to Axes/Bows for Chapter 2, then afterwards it depends on whether you want him as a Sniper or a Brawler.
If Sniper then keep Axes/Bows until he's able to certify Brigand and if Grappler then Axes/Brawling. Personally I prefer Grappler on him but it's up to you to decide. If not using him long-term (for whatever reason) then Bow investment is preferable as he gets Heavy Draw at C+ allowing him to do more free damage.
Sylvain's ideal recruitment time is Chapter 2.
Just like Ferdinand, his key to success is Swift Strikes so he should be prioritizing Lance rank. On Blue Lions, he'll need to train his Axe rank to pass Brigand, but as a recruit he starts with D+, so you could train his Authority to D for some better battalions.
He's a very straightforward unit, just go for the standard Death Blow and Hit +20 masteries and potentially an Armored Knight certification for Defense base. If not using him then there isn't much to say, just invest in Lance/Authority and squeeze as much out of him as you can before he falls off and you yoink the Lance of Ruin.
I swear these BL units get more mundane by the second. In-house Ingrid is pretty bad to begin with, so the only notable thing she can get to aid you is Rally Magic at D Authority. Once again, just another case of self-improvement for ranks afterwards so the goals should be Authority/Axes to start and tutor Authority to reach D by Chapter 3.
Once that's done swap to Axes/Bows, then after Bows are at D+ swap to Lances/Axes and reach D+ or C lances for Peg. If not using her then Rally Magic and Pegasus certification are the only relevant things – you can reach level 10 by just adjutanting her.
If you were expecting a trAshe redemption arc you're solely mistaken. There's REALLY nothing to say in this section beyond Axes/Bows and pray he can end up as something relevant. He gets nothing useful besides Deadeye at C+ bows which isn't even that good. Just recruit Shamir and if using him then just go for a Sniper build and let Hunter's Volley fix him.
The rally goddess herself. You want to set her to a Solo Authority focus and tutor her in it, as well as attend the Seteth Seminar just so she's able to reach C+ Authority by Chapter 3 in order to have Rally Speed which combos with her personal Rally Strength. Afterwards, while you should build up her mage ranks, she should still train Authority, as she'd really like having A authority by chapter 14 to equip Blue Lion Dancers for you. So just keep it as one of her goals, but not the only one.
Thank you Mercedes extremely epic for starting with D Faith. Keep her at Reason/Faith because honestly for Chapter 2 you're best off getting her to use Fire. After getting Fire, swap to solo Faith because she really should hit Physic by Chapter 3.
After that it's a very standard process of raising Reason to C for Bolganone and Mage certification and then Faith up to A for Fortify and Bishop. Still the worst of the 3 house healers. Change my mind.
Yet another case of C Authority for Blaze, so just set him to Bows/Authority. With a standard Brigand/Archer progression the only real thing to do is unlock his budding talent in Axes and then train them up to C rank for Brigand and then later Wyvern Rider certification before he gets his unique classes.
Since Tempest Lance is a lot better early on than Smash, it's worth it to have her reach it by Chapter 2. Curved Shot is great utility and she wants to go Archer eventually. As such, set her to Lances/Bows early on and tutor in lances in Chapter 2.
Afterwards continue to train until she gets to either D+ (minimum Pegasus requirement) or C (full Pegasus req, gets Knightkneeler) Lances and D+ bows, then start training her up in axes and flying while also getting her Authority up to at least D.
If you're not planning on using him there's no real reason to bother with Lorenz. If you do, then getting at least the basic Fire spell, Frozen Lance, and Heal should be your priority, as well as equipping him with a battalion.
As such, set him to Lances/Reason and tutor him in Reason in Chapter 2 to reach Fire, then after getting Fire swap to Lances/Faith and focus on Lances instructions to reach Frozen Lance. If you're actually using him then it's worth it to attend the Seteth Seminar with him in order to speed up Frozen Lance.
Due to having E+ bows and good defensive stats and personal, getting the Mini Bow and Curved Shot for Chapter 2 is excellent. Axes are useful for getting Death Blow, so set her to Axes/Bows and tutor her in Bows in Chapter 2.
Afterwards she should pursue Point-Blank Volley from A bows, so make sure you keep that as a goal while getting up other things like Lances, Authority, and Riding after getting D+ axes.
In a similar fashion to Dorothea, Raphael gets Rally Strength at D Authority, so he'll want to train it up from E to D. If you're not using him, simply setting him to solo Authority, tutoring him in it at 50 motivation and attending the Seteth Seminar will be enough.
If you do however want to use him, then he'd greatly appreciate also getting Smash from D axes. As such, he should be dined with for max motivation, then set to Axes/Authority and tutored in Authority until he has enough to reach D via goals and seminar, then if you have anything left go into Axes. If you want some advice on how to split it, instruct him on week 1 and note his progress to E+ authority. Goals and Seminar give him 68 WEXP, so he needs to be instructed roughly until he's 8 WEXP away from E+ Authority, while for Axes he needs to get 12 points total.
Do note however that if he gets 4 Good results, this is still perfectly salvageable. Just give him an axe and equip a battalion for the practice battle and allow him to enter 4 rounds of combat where he swings the axe – this gives 12 Axe WEXP and 8 Authority WEXP which is exactly enough to reach both D ranks.
Afterwards if you plan on using him just focus on Grappler/War Master ranks really, with a side of D+ bows for Hit +20.
With Rally Speed at D Authority combined with Raphael's Rally Strength, he can make someone like Leonie tank Chapter 2 thieves like it's no big deal. Set him to Bows/Authority and tutor twice in Authority and he'll reach it already.
Afterwards his next utility things are Break Shot at C+ bows and Rally Dex at C+ Authority – it's up to you whether you want to pursue Rally Dex or focus on D+ Axes first for Death Blow. If using him you want both eventually, but if not using then you don't need to worry about D+ Axes. Rally Speed alone is great enough utility.
Just like Linhardt she can reach Physic by Chapter 2, so it's best to just set her to a solo Faith focus and instruct from full motivation in it. After Chapter 2, swap her to Reason/Faith while instructing her in Lances for the Frozen Lance budding talent, then get it via instructions to D for Steel access.
After that, the thresholds she wants to reach are Mage certification, as well as Thoron and Silence from B Faith. If you don't plan on using her long term then it doesn't really matter after Physic – for example if making her your Dancer you could just swap her to solo Riding to get Mov +1.
Similarly to Hubert, Lysithea wants to reach high Reason ranks while also getting D Authority by Chapter 3 for magical battalions as well as Heal for Chapter 2. Unlike Hubert however she'd really love getting Warp from Faith ASAP as well as Dark Spikes T from B Reason. Rushing one of these isn't really required unless you're LTCing, as for Chapter 5 you'd walk around anyway for the Accuracy Ring and Chapter 4's Death Knight can just be skipped.
As such, set her to Reason/Faith in Chapter 2, then tutor her in Faith for 12 WEXP. If she has full motivation, spend the remaining points on her Authority. Give her a battalion in the Chapter 2 practice battle then use up all her Miasma uses – this gives 30 Reason/Authority WEXP, which you could also combine with using 2 gambits for a total of 48 out of 60 Authority WEXP required. This means that she only needs 1 week of goal WEXP in Chapter 3 to reach D Authority.
Focus Chapter 3 instructions on her Sword rank for Soulblade (getting D for Steel Sword access is nice) and then the rest of her development should be spent on rushing both B Reason and B Faith. After that you can work on what you want, but personally I'd get her Bow rank up to D+ (if no DLC) for Hit +20 mastered via being an Archer adjutant. Other than these, just the basic core of Reason/Faith/Authority really.
Yuri's ideal recruitment time is Chapter 2.
Assuming you want to use him, his best early advantages to pursue are Windsweep at C+ Swords and C Authority by Chapter 3, which he's very close to at base. As such, Swords/Authority focus until one of these is reached. His next things to unlock are his budding talent in Bows as well as a D+ rank for Archer and D+ Axes for Brigand.
Afterwards it depends on what you want to make him – I believe his best classes are Sniper or Grappler, though he's not that special in either of them really. It's up to you.
Balthus' ideal recruitment time is Chapter 3.
The reason he wants to be recruited at Chapter 3 is because he gains an automatic D rank in Bows despite his bane. This means he'll reach D+ Bows with only 5 weeks of goal WEXP, or 4 weeks + 8 rounds of combat in Fighter. His only really useful utility is Rally Strength at D Authority, but he's just amazing all around statwise and thanks to his personal he makes an amazing tank, so this is not a criticism.
After D+ Bows just focus on ranks that'd benefit the Fortress Knight/Grappler/War Master class core which he fits in perfectly.
Constance's ideal recruitment time is Chapter 3.
Similar to how Balthus worked, Constance gets D Faith rather than E if you wait until Chapter 3. She actually has most of her kit at base, so the only really useful thing for her to pursue is Sagittae at C Reason. Other than that she doesn't really have much so just set her to Reason/Faith and be done with it.
It's worth noting that eventually you'd want to get her to C Riding to go into Valkyrie and get Uncanny Blow (or go Archer for Hit +20) as her spells are rather inaccurate.
Hapi's ideal recruitment time is Chapter 3.
Same as Coco, D Faith at Chapter 3 rather than E. Hapi has amazing spells but her boons and banes aren't great, so you want to actually focus instructions on her Faith as she learns Physic. As such set her to Reason/Faith, then once she gets to C Reason swap to Faith/Authority.
After getting D Authority go back to Reason/Faith – you'll want to find some low Authority magic battalion for her like Seiros Holy Monks (E Authority, Stride) or Nuvelle Attendants Co. (C Authority, great stats, and Absolute Defense).
Anna's ideal recruitment time is Chapter 3 or Chapter 5 to 6.
This might just be the worst unit in the game, not sure. Honestly more useful than her is the Large Bullion she comes with. The only remotely useful things she learns are Break Shot at C+ Bows and Rally Luck at D Authority, so might as well Bows/Authority till she gets those.
If you don't care about her paralogue or are playing on Silver Snow, you can forget about her here, but if you do care for it and are on Blue Lions or Golden Deer, you should consider getting her closer to level 10 so that she doesn't need to level up as much to reach it. You want her to reach level 10 to be able to go Pegasus Knight, so set her goals to Lances/Flying and then Lances Only after reaching D Flying.
The paralogue is famous for being extremely cancer, but if all of Byleth and Anna (and Jeritza on CF) are fliers, then the 3 tiles in the bottom left of the map are completely unreachable from the ground even by Bow Knights and the enemies do not deploy any fliers, so you can safely wait out the 10 turns there and get the battalion that way, which is the only really worthwhile reward there anyway.
So just get her to 10 and be able to make her a Pegasus Knight by the paralogue. I don't recommend actually using her as a unit, she has nothing going for her.
To conclude, obviously there are a lot of character builds one can go for, but I believe that with these investments early on you can make your life a lot easier, not to mention they're just generally good ideas to begin with that are easy to transition into other builds. As always, if you have any thoughts or criticism, comment down below.