Fire Emblem Three Houses Byleth

At last I finished playthrough 1, so here's some screencaps, stuff I learned, and ideas I'm taking into new game+. Gameplay and plot spoilers are at the end, so some things might look a bit out of sequence.
Game mechanics

Fire Emblem Three Houses monastery exploration

I went into my first playthrough purposefully in the dark; it was a combination of hubris from being a series veteran and the desire to have an unspoiled experience. As mentioned in gamefaq.
A few other thoughts

Fire Emblem Three Houses tournaments Sylvain Cavalier

Having someone (other than Byleth) maxed out for each weapon type is a good way to keep the money, professor rank, and silver+ equipment rolling in. It's surprisingly easy to not have a top tier swordfighter.

Fire Emblem Three Houses monster

It's mentioned somewhere, but cracking all four shields on a monster nets you a rare crafting material that pairs nicely with the rusted weapon they drop.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Blacksmith gauntlets Dragon Claws

I used my upcycled equipment only once but it wrecked that wyvern.

Fire Emblem Three Houses romance Cyril

For a semi-dating sim whose prequel had marriage and progeny mechanics, Three Houses really just skips over the romance. Considering the plot, that's probably a good thing, but the second generation mechanic was a really neat part of Fates. Of course, they do bolt on a relationship choice at the very end, "Who do you choose? You'll get a brief, shallow scene at the end of the game." Couldn't we at least get another tier of support that oscillates between S and "you know what's wrong"?

Cyril had Aptitude so I went with him on the chance that there'd be an uber Byleth kid in the next playthough. Oh yeah, idea: let players 'ship characters in pt1 and then have pt2 be the second generation. You get all the fun of deciding inherited skills and then don't have to ditch the older generation mid-story.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Hilda men are so weird fighting drinking

Really the game's dialogue and character development is all peaks and valleys.

Fire Emblem Three Houses cutscene cinema mages

Oh yes, I'm really happy about the new spell mechanic. Limited-use spells that replenish every battle keeps them from being OP but also means you're not saving your best spells (nor their accompanying xp) for a day that never comes.
New game+

Fire Emblem Three Houses New Game Plus renown spending

New game+ is a nice way to ease in to a Madness run. A few high points:
Fire Emblem Three Houses characters appearance Petra

Some of the alternate appearances are neat. Edelgard is strutting around in her emperor duds like people have no idea what's coming.
Next playthrough

Fire Emblem Three Houses new game Byleth birthdate

My gamefaq research revealed - without plot spoilers - that there is an evil(?) path. This was an encouraging find since I was under the impression the next playthough would simply be the same but with different characters I don't care all that much about. I expect most of the battle content to be identical, but I'm not sure how this path will play out plotwise.

Fire Emblem Three Houses cinema Claude bow

I was hesitant about if I'd be able to side with the baddie, but then during the final cutscene Claude said something like, "we're powerful because we have friends and support each other" and I realized the dark path really is the path for me.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Claude lesson moral dialogue

Don't be insular, Fodlan!

Fire Emblem Three Houses Edelgard house choice

So anyway, I'm joining up with Edelgard and interested to see how this plotline plays out. Of course, tinkering on endgame team comp is half the fun of this game, so I had to start with a list of characters that could be recruited by the Black Eagles and not bail when you decide go to the dark side.

Crimson Flower non/recruitables

Eagles Lions Deer Seiros
Edelgard Dmitri [x] Claude [x] Alois
Hubert Dedue [x] Hilda [x] Catherine [x]
Dorothea Annette Lorenz Shamir
Ferdinand Felix Raphael Cyril [x]
Bernadetta Mercedes Lysithea Flayn [x]
Caspar Ashe Ignatz Seteth [x]
Petra Sylvain Marianne Manuela
Lindhardt Ingrid Leoni Hanneman

Then it was a matter of looking through their crests, personal abilities, and stat growths to decide how to build the squad. This is a bit easier than Fates since there aren't hard class locks, but it also means I could have a character stifled while waiting on a weapon proficiency. My goals for this build:

NG+/Crimson Flower lineup (10 of 12)

Final battle - gameplay but not plot spoilers

Basically if you're interested in recon on the final battle, here it is. Historically these have been difficult, multi-part epics and it was important to know what finale you were building for. This one isn't so tough, but it does favor certain builds.

Fire Emblem Three Houses For the Freedom of Fodlan map

With only a single part and no reinforcements, nukes, or other difficult mechanics, the last battle can be won just by being careful.

Fire Emblem Three Houses For the Freedom of Fodlan terrain

The map does its best to take gambits out of the picture; enemy units stay pretty well spread out. They aren't slouches and can one- or two-hit anyone in the level 43 range. This one heavily favors flyers due to the bushes and wasteland.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Nemesis boss stats items

The final boss physical strikes and can counter at any distance. He does move under certain conditions.

Fire Emblem Three Houses final battle Nemesis moved

Trapping him is nice because it means canto units can attack and escape to safety.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Vengeance Nemesis

He did a good bit of damage to Cyril. Unfortunately for Nemesis, Cyril had Vengeance.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Nemesis vanquished cinema

See ya later, dude, you were a mediocre final boss and a boring character. At least the emperor I beat two scenarios before had some flair.
Semi-spoilery discussion

Fire Emblem Three Houses Alois Epilogue

Alois is the real hero.

It's weird to see Fire Emblem going down the path of Shin Megami Tensei and Etrian Odyssey by deciding their medieval adventure is actually a distant postapocalypse. I do like postapocalypses, but this feels tropey, probably because those two games are the last two I played on 3DS - three if you count Fates which is now in this universe.


Whistler snowboarding traverse paddle view

Derrick, Jon, and I went to Whistler this year.

Charles Lindbergh poster Oakland

Oakland on the way up, San Jose on the way back, Seattle to Whistler by car. It was lengthy travel, but generally painless.

Shasta and Rainier provided some neat views on the flight up, Fire Emblem provided the entertainment.

Whistler slowboarders doing the click click click thing

Going with snowboarders inevitably means most of the trip is spent waiting for them to finish click-click-clicking.

Whistler peak saddle snowboarder snowboarding skiing

On the flip side, they were above average in the sending it department. Since I didn't bring the SLR and only have a couple cell phone photos, a not-at-all-sending-it photo will have to suffice until Jon is done editing the trip video. Update: here it is.

Whistler snowboarding snowboarders powder depth

The snow just about covered the spectrum: some two-day-old powder at the top, lots of groomers, hard chunky ungroomed snow, and ice near the (probably rained on) base of the mountain. Oh also rocks at Blackcomb - lots of rocks.

Whistler saddle run view

Sunday had light crowds in the morning and then 10-15 minute waits on every lift starting around 11. Word on the gondola was that Saturday was a mess because of crowds and wind-related lift closures. Monday we were able to ski onto every lift except the sunny side of Blackcomb. I guess Whistler is the Big Bear or Mammoth of Vancouver so it's best to avoid it on weekends. Unlike Big Bear and Mammoth, all the lifts at Whistler have a blue (or easier) track down, so there's no area that is immune to crowding.

Whistler peak to peak gondola view skiing snowboarding

The inter-mountain gondola was a trip. A couple miles of cable with a middle section that has no support towers for probably half that distance, all suspended far above the valley. I don't think I'd go near that thing in a gentle breeze - also Blackcomb was pretty mediocre because most of it was in constant shade.

Whistler stuck off piste peak to creek map

Despite a few runs at the terrain park, the closest thing to an incident came when Derrick directed us down a gulley run (okay this is one of our favorite things). In contrast to some of the great creek runs at Kirkwood, this one had very little room to maneuver (or shed speed) and lots of obstacles. After giving the run a chance, Derrick and Jon hiked out like quitter snowboarders.

I pressed on until the few tracks dispersed and eventually turned to vague bootprints. Uh oh. The trees became thick and the slope was steep downhill on all sides. Google maps wasn't a lot of help other than to tell me I was not far from the piste, but below it and across stream from it. Some kiwi snowboarders arrived shortly thereafter and we decided to climb down into the creek and then back up. It wasn't pleasant, but it worked.

Whistler creek

While it's mostly uninteresting blue groomers, the peak to creek run is a neat 3.5 mile/5000' challenge, particularly if you try to do it all in one go.

Skiing Whistler apres ski Baileys GoPro goggles beer

Somehow even with all the volleyball, skiing was pretty harsh on the quads. Because our AirBnB complex didn't have a functional hot tub, there was just irish coffee.

Bok a Bok Washington

We spent the night before our flight south in Washington, Bok a Bok was mighty tasty after a long ski day and drive.

Molly throw


This year's Cape Run was a little different; Toronado (RIP) and Livewire were switched for North Park Beer Company and, depending on if you were the hares or tortoises group, Modern Times or Station Tavern.

As you might expect, there were a lot of turtles and plenty of ninja turtles.

Kafka was back in action, joined by Hank and Lanna. Once again, out of convenience I shot with evaluative focus for ease of use. There were some focus fails though e.g. when Jeff and Brian finally landed their jumping high five.

I also caught a lot of glare off my uv filter. I might just become one of those no-filter people.

Blind Lady Ale House Cape Run 2020 green team beer exercise capes