I am a long-time fan of the Fire Emblem series, ever since I started playing on GBA. After a few hundred hours in Three Houses playing every route and the DLC, it has earned a place in my heart. Though at first, the sandbox character build experience was a little strange to me since I was used to older Fire Emblem titles that did not allow for so much customization.
While playing for the first time on the Silver Snow route, my first Ferdinand ended up as a Paladin and eventually a Great Knight. He was an efficient mounted unit and fulfilled his role as a frontline fighter for the team. Because of Three Houses’ sandbox style of gameplay, there are not many “wrong” ways to build your units, especially on Hard and lower difficulty which allow the player plenty of room for errors and mistakes.
Since practically anything can be viable on lower difficulties, this guide is more of a suggestion with ideas for both players who want to optimize Ferdinand and players looking for an amusing dodge tank build. With so many options in Three Houses, it could be hard to choose just one route for Ferdinand’s development.
Key Info Up Front
Though Ferdinand is good, optimizing him could either result in a sort of generic but powerful unit, or an amusingly gimmicky character. Depending on the type of player and what they enjoy in a Fire Emblem game, the best build for Ferdinand might look different. If you were trying to optimize for a playthrough of Maddening mode, Ferdinand may not be the unit you want to put all of your resources into. That is not to say he is not worth using, though.
While Ferdinand would have you believe he is better than Edelgard, objectively he is not. I was able to run through Crimson Flower deploying only Byleth and Edelgard, but I seriously doubt that would be possible with Ferdinand instead. Ferdinand might be good, just not so good that I would call him broken like the Lords in Three Houses or Seth from Sacred Stones (if you are familiar with that title in the series). It is important to remember Ferdinand is part of the team and cannot always be expected to carry every encounter without support from his allies, especially not at the highest difficulty.
- Max HP – 28
- Str – 8
- Mag – 5
- Dex – 6
- Spd – 8
- Lck – 6
- Def – 6
- Res – 2
- Cha – 7
Defining Ability: Confidence (Grants +15 to both Hit and Avoid, but only when he is at full health)
Strengths: Swords, Lances, Axes, and Riding
In addition to Ferdinand’s base stats you can view at the start of the game, there is some information that the game does not explain to the player right away.
- Base Growth Rates (Not including bonuses from current class): HP – 50, Str – 45, Mag – 20, Dex – 40, Spd – 50, Lck – 40, Def – 35, Res – 20, and Cha – 40
- Hidden Talent: Heavy Armor (after tutoring him in the subject enough, Ferdinand gets the Seal Speed ability)
- Crest: Minor Crest of Cichol (Makes combat arts sometimes prevent counterattacks)
Ferdinand’s personal ability, Confidence, is what gave rise to the “Dodge tank von Aegir” meme a few years ago. As players quickly discovered, Ferdinand can be exceptional at avoiding damage entirely, if built correctly. The problem with Ferdinand’s personal ability is that it is only active while his HP is full. Even if he does not take any hits, every time that he levels up, there is a good chance that his maximum HP will increase. For basically any other character, that is just a good thing. Unfortunately for Ferdinand, it means his personal ability is likely deactivated every time he levels up until the player heals him back to full health again.
Dodge tank Ferdinand can be placed into a horde of enemies on lower difficulties and take no hits. On Maddening, however, it is important to understand that he is just one part of the group and you cannot expect Ferdinand to solo an entire map. Playing carefully and methodically, Ferdinand can still be a potent force on the battlefield.
Before deciding on a build, it may be best to consider the builds for the other characters. Since Ferdinand does not have weaknesses, he could easily fill in for whatever role the team needs.
Ferdinand Von Aegir (17 years old at the start of Three Houses) is a member of the nobility in the Adrestian Empire. Like many other prominent characters throughout the history of the Fire Emblem series, he is not a “main Lord” but is a member of the upper class within the context of his world. On the continent of Fodlan, Ferdinand’s family holds a degree of political sway and power. His father Ludwig (the Duke of Aegir) is the Prime Minister of the Adrestian Empire. Because of his family’s status, Ferdinand was sent to the Officers Academy and is a member of the Black Eagles house.
Perhaps due to his family’s position and the burden of such high expectations placed on his shoulders, Ferdinand is extremely prideful, particularly regarding his noble status. He also developed a bit of a complex over comparing himself to Edelgard, often making any opportunity he can into a makeshift competition between the two. Despite his confident attitude in social situations and a mildly inflated ego, Ferdinand does not look down on others. While his decisions are often based upon carrying himself the way he believes that a man of nobility should, he does not see his status as indicating some sort of superiority over commoners. Instead, he takes pride in being a noble and the duties he must fulfill.
When Ferdinand has his prideful demeanor challenged by classmates, like Dorothea, he earnestly tries to gain a better understanding of other people’s perspectives and better himself. In fact, Ferdinand fundamentally disagrees with the way his father performs his duties as Prime Minister. The young heir to the Aegir dukedom believes that commoners and nobles harbor distorted views and understandings of one another. He seems to completely lack a desire for power. Instead, Ferdinand regularly demonstrates earnest efforts to improve himself and understand others.
Depending on the story route chosen by the player, Ferdinand can play varying roles in the primary conflict of Three Houses. In some routes, he can be encountered as an enemy unit, but he can be recruited and used for any route. If the player does not want to meet him as an enemy on the battlefield, it is entirely avoidable through recruitment during the first part of the game.
In general, Wyvern Lord is one of the best end-goal class options for Ferdinand. The high movement of flying units is excellent for maneuvering across the maps and the Alert Stance ability granted from ranking up a character’s flying skill synergizes well with Ferdinand’s personal ability, Confidence.
For my dodge tank Ferdinand build, I had him end as an Assassin. If Ferdinand is not a flying class but needs more movement to keep up with the group, giving him the March Ring from Chapter 6 could help. The only way to do a dodge tank build completely wrong would be to equip Ferdinand with very heavy weapons or shields and other items that weigh him down and reduce his avoid.
For either a Wyvern Lord or dodge tank Ferdinand build, the weapon prowess, breaker, and alert stance abilities play to his strengths and help him avoid taking hits.
Here is a breakdown of the abilities needed for an optimized dodge tank Ferdinand:
- Confidence: Grants +15 avo at full health, this personal ability is equipped automatically
- Sword Avoid: Grants +20 avo with a sword equipped, earned by winning the White Heron Cup
- Sword Prowess 5: Grants +20 avo with a sword equipped (and a bit less at lower levels of the same ability), earned by ranking up swords to A+
- Alert Stance +: Grants +20 avo when the unit takes the wait action (+15 for normal Alert Stance), earned by ranking up flying to A+
If Ferdinand is equipped with all those abilities and a battalion that grants an additional +15 avoid, it brings his avoid bonus to a grand total of +90. That is just the bonuses and does not even account for the avoid calculated based on Ferdinand’s stats and a lightweight sword.
To dodge tank efficiently, Ferdinand relies heavily on getting work done during the enemy phase. It is also important to have healers who can safely use physic from a distance to keep Ferdinand at full health while he stays positioned in the middle of the enemy forces. If he is not a flying class, he also benefits from terrain bonuses. Placing dodge tank von Aegir on a forest or a heal tile can practically turn him into a player-controlled boss unit.
Using Alert Stance effectively is also crucial if Ferdinand is a Wyvern Rider or Wyvern Lord. I usually check and double-check enemy ranges by selecting them individually or using ZR to check global ranges. Careful consideration of which units Ferdinand will draw closer and where the rest of the player units are placed is important to capitalize on the opportunities he can create.
One very useful job for Ferdinand to perform is shield-breaking monsters using a gambit. If he has enough bonuses improving his avoid, he can safely take the attention of one or more powerful monsters off other units. This can give players the chance to heal or reposition other playable units while Ferdinand keeps dangerous enemies targeting him instead.
If the player is shooting for a Wyvern Lord end result, using instruction sessions on Ferdinand’s Axe and Flying skills from the start will expedite the process. Do not forget to change Ferdinand’s skill goals right away and begin building support with other characters with meals and choir practice during Monastery exploration. Support ranks also contribute to his avoid bonuses, making it even harder for enemies to hit Ferdinand with his allies close.
- No Support: Grants +3 avo
- C Support: Grants +5 avo
- B Support: Grants +7 avo
- A Support: grants +10 avo
When making a dodge tank Ferdinand build, I changed his goals to Sword and Flying right away. I also made my Byleth use swords to have professor expertise tutoring bonuses for the early game. Although, this is not necessary. Byleth can focus on whatever weapon skills you want and it does not really hinder Ferdinand’s growth.
Another way to improve Ferdinand’s flying rank quickly is to assign him the Sky Watch group task. This is also another opportunity to build support with his classmates. If you have another character that you want to increase the flying rank for, pairing them with Ferdinand for the group task at every opportunity would be efficient. I had Petra join Ferdinand for the group task because she has a strength in flying. This usually resulted in perfect results, yielding extra gold and smithing stones.
Getting the flying skill up to B as soon as possible for the Alert Stance ability can make a big difference in Ferdinand’s performance as a dodge tank. A +15 avoid bonus on its own may not sound like much but combined with other bonuses it really adds up. After getting Alert Stance, there are a couple of directions you could take Ferdinand.
I switched up his goals briefly to reach C in bows (in order to allow him to pass the Assassin certification later on). Although, if you want Ferdinand to excel in more than one weapon type, it could be a good time to start training him with his second weapon type once he has attained B rank in flying.
An easy way to increase Ferdinand’s avoid bonuses and generally make him better right from the start of the game is to equip him with the Jeralt’s Mercenaries battalion as soon as possible. The battalion has a solid gambit and lots of endurance, but most importantly it grants +15 avo when leveled up to the maximum.
On maddening difficulty, this makes Ferdinand much more viable right away. In chapter 1, Ferdinand can be easily defeated in one round of combat with Dimitri, for example. Equipping Jeralt’s Mercenaries makes it easier for Ferdinand to safely engage powerful foes. There are other battalions that can grant +15 avoid, but there is not really a good reason to wait. I generally like to equip whatever I have available right from the start.
The class promotions I selected for Ferdinand as a dodge tank was Myrmidon at level 5, Thief at level 10, and then Assassin at 20. Mercenary is usually a better option for a sword-wielding unit than Thief, but getting the Vantage ability by mastering the Mercenary class would be pointless for Ferdinand. Since his personal ability is only active at full health, allowing him to drop below half HP for Vantage to activate seems a little counter-intuitive.
When I reached Chapter 5, Ferdinand was already doing his job as a dodge tank pretty efficiently, with enemy hit rates already below 40. Having an overpowered build at the end of the game is impressive, but Ferdinand will not do much good along the way unless he has access to bonuses from a variety of abilities, supports, and a leveled-up battalion. Choosing the Thief class also gives Ferdinand constant utility to open doors and chests. I prefer having a playable unit that is useful throughout the entire playthrough rather than waiting for the late game to see them shine.
By making Ferdinand a Thief prior to the Chapter 6 mission, it allows him to go to the right side of the map and open the chests containing items that could be important for a sword-wielding dodge tank build. In Chapter 6, I sent Thief Ferdinand to the top right warp pad in order to reach the chest containing the Levin Sword. The March Ring obtained from the other chest on that map is useful loot as well. However, the Levin Sword is of notable importance.
The big downside of swords is that they are mostly locked to 1-range. Unlike lances, axes, and bows, there are not many options in Three Houses for swords with more range. The Levin Sword may be useful for Ferdinand in specific circumstances when he needs to reach just one space further or be able to retaliate from 2-range during the enemy phase. The problem with the Levin Sword is that Ferdinand is more of a physical fighter with a lower Mag stat. Since the Levin Sword’s damage is magic and not physical, it could be useful to give Ferdinand Spirit Dust or similar Magic stat-boosting consumable items to compensate for his lower Mag growth rate.
If you want to optimize the dodge tank build for wielding swords like me, there is a crucial step at the start of chapter 9. In the very first week of chapter 9, the player must speak with Rhea about the White Heron Cup. After beginning the quest of choosing a class representative, find Ferdinand and speak with him. He will ask to be the representative for the class and the player needs to choose “Yes” here.
As long as Ferdinand has a Charm stat of at least 13, he will win the contest later that month. If you find that his Charm is too low at this time, it can be raised in a few different ways. Stat boosters and inviting him to tea could be good opportunities to raise Cha to 13. After making him your class representative for the dance contest, doing a special training session is also a good idea.
The player can do a one-time dance training session with Ferdinand to increase his Charm by 5. Unless you got really unlucky with your level-ups thus far and somehow avoided leveling Charm even once, it should be high enough. His base Charm is 7, plus the 5 from the dance training brings his total to 12. If he leveled up Charm even once by Chapter 9, it would be no trouble at all for him to win.
When Ferdinand wins the White Heron Cup, it gives him access to a few different things. The dancer class, a special combat art that synergizes well with his crest, and most importantly: The Sword Avoid skill needed to tie the optimized dodge tank build together. Moving forward from Chapter 9, there is not much more to be done in terms of optimization.
With Confidence, Sword Avoid, Alert Stance, Sword Prowess, and the Jeralt’s Mercenaries battalion, Ferdinand is in excellent shape to tackle the rest of the game as a dodge tank. I often found myself laughing at how his absurdly high avoid allowed me to place him in range of tons of enemies without there being even a slim chance of him falling in battle.
By the time Ferdinand reaches level 20, the dodge tank build is practically complete. When he raises his ranks in sword and flying to A+ in both, he will get the best versions of sword prowess and alert stance. But as long as he did not get abysmal stat growth, his avoid in combat should be close to 100.
How Your Choice Affects Gameplay
If you choose to make Ferdinand a mobile flying class, taking note of the positions of archers or mages (using wind magic) on the map will be important because they do extra damage to flying units. If you choose to make him a non-flying dodge tank, he will be able to take advantage of terrain bonuses, but his movement will be a little more limited.
One big effect to consider is the battalions that can be equipped. While a wyvern-mounted class is probably one of the optimal choices for Ferdinand, it does limit the types of battalions the player can equip. Especially in maddening difficulty, battalions and strategic use of gambits are crucial to survival. If you make Ferdinand a flying class, he will no longer be able to equip Jeralt’s mercenaries for the +15 avoid bonus. I would raise his authority rank and hire a suitable airborne battalion to equip before reclassing into a Wyvern Rider/Lord.
If you choose to make Ferdinand a dodge tank, most regular enemies will have extremely low hit rates when battling him. However, due to Ferdinand’s low Res growth rate, he can still be particularly vulnerable to powerful magic attacks. On the off-chance that a powerful attack does land, he could be in trouble. It is important to check the damage that could be done to him before putting Ferdinand in an unwinnable situation that may necessitate using the Turn Wheel.
If Ferdinand wins the White Heron Cup to get the Sword Avoid skill, it prevents the player from giving the dancer class to any other character during that playthrough. Since you only get one dancer, optimizing a sword-wielding dodge tank Ferdinand essentially locks you out of more advanced strategies using a dancer.
Also, note that Ferdinand does not need to reclass into a dancer in order to obtain the ability or the combat art. In fact, it is best to not make him a dancer at all. The dancer class negatively affects some stat growth rates, so I found that it was better for Ferdinand to stick to other classes for the best possible stats.
Question: How to Recruit Ferdinand Three Houses?
Answer: If you did not choose the Black Eagles class to start, it may be more difficult to make the optimal Ferdinand build you want. However, you can still recruit him if Byleth has an armor rank of C and a high Dex stat. Having meals with him or doing Choir Practice and inviting Ferdinand to have tea can also be efficient ways to raise support points with him. Higher support ranks with Ferdinand make it much easier to recruit him and do not necessitate getting Byleth’s ranks and stats so high. Recruiting Ferdinand without support ranks is especially hard, because training Byleth’s heavy armor rank in the early game is tricky, compared to other skills that have more characters who can train Byleth.
Question: Is Ferdinand good in Three Houses?
Answer: Overall, Ferdinand is good and worth having as a unit. He is not really bad at anything and depending on how much time you want to put into training and optimizing him, he could range from being a solid member of the team to a one noble army capable of taking on hordes of enemy units without breaking a sweat. He is not able to keep himself operating at his maximum potential, but with a little healing from an ally, Ferdinand can perform incredibly well.
Question: What is the best class for Ferdinand in Three Houses?
Answer: If you are making a dodge tank build optimized for wielding swords to take advantage of the Sword Avoid skill, any sword-wielding class is a solid choice. I recommend Assassin or Hero, but not the Swordmaster (Because Astra is a letdown of a combat art). If you do not care about that, Wyvern Rider and Wyvern Lord are excellent classes for Ferdinand because of their high movement enabling him to position on the map effectively to bait your enemies exactly where you want them to go.
Ferdinand’s personality rubbed me the wrong way at the start of my first playthrough, but over the course of the game and seeing how he matured, he won me over. Since Ferdinand is easily in my top five favorite characters in Three Houses, it pains me a little to admit he does have some drawbacks to consider. Because of the way his personal ability functions, it forces the player to keep his HP constantly topped off or have him operating below his maximum dodge tank potential.
That said, Ferdinand’s crest, generally solid stats, and lack of weaknesses make him a valuable unit who can fit into pretty much any group and fill in wherever the team is lacking. The pros of using Ferdinand far outweigh the cons. In a way, Ferdinand is one of a handful of characters in Three Houses who serve the general purpose of being a jack of all trades. It is hard to build him wrong if you are playing through Three Houses for the first time, but there are ways to significantly play to his strengths.
If you go all out with a dodge tank build, some battles become almost trivial and comically absurd, with Ferdinand single-handedly battling tons of enemies who cannot even touch him. In my efforts to plan it out and optimize that sort of build for him, I realized that it should be no surprise that “Dodge Tank von Aegir” has become an iconic meme within the Fire Emblem Three Houses community.
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