My first game in the series was the Sacred Stones, but Awakening was the second Fire Emblem entry that I ever played. I recall how at the time of release, it was sort of a last hurrah for a waning game franchise on its last legs. Partially due to the iconic and distinct character designs like Tharja, Awakening breathed new life into the series and brought in many new fans. Of course, if Awakening was your first game, you are probably a Fire Emblem veteran at this point. I can hardly believe that it came out a decade ago.
For those past 10 years or so (depending on whether someone played the 2012 Japanese release or waited until 2013 to play), Tharja captured the hearts of countless Fire Emblem enthusiasts. Perhaps thanks to the controversy surrounding the character and certain localization decisions, Tharja cemented herself as an icon of the series despite having only a small part to play in the plot of Awakening. While some of her risque appearances in Fire Emblem artwork and other Nintendo media like Super Smash Bros. have been somewhat divisive for fans, it is hard to deny that she is a widely recognized and beloved character. With her love of magic and curses, a distinct fashion aesthetic, and a creepy stalker streak, Tharja will likely remain a famous hero in Fire Emblem media for many years to come.
Key Info Up Front
|Base (Lvl 10)||25*||4||11*||5||12*||3||10||7|
*This stat is 1 point higher on Lunatic mode
- Skills: Hex, Anathema
Tharja excels with magic as one of the characters in Awakening tied for having the best magic growths in addition to her base stats that make her immediately usable on difficulties other than Lunatic modes. The 1 point increase in stats just does not really matter. However, because her skills are active even while acting as a supporter in a pair-up, she can potentially make enemies easier to hit. Pairing her with your avatar is sort of like giving yourself an extra 25 hit against an adjacent foe who is affected by both Hex and Anathema. That is something worth considering for any unit you have deployed, even if you are not interested in using Tharja as a primary source of damage.
Tharja joins already at level 10, which makes it a bit easier to put resources into training her and promoting her at level 20 for the best possible results. With the characters who join earlier, you may need to decide and plan ahead of time who you are going to use and who will be immediately benched.
In Tharja’s case, you have plenty of time with your other units before her chapter rolls around and you get to decide if she would be a good addition to your team moving forward. Since she is the mother of a child unit, if you want access to Noire (especially at her best) you will have to train Tharja and determine the best S support partner for her. This may depend on personal preference or simply optimizing skill inheritance.
Tharja initially appears in Chapter 9 as an enemy unit capable of being recruited by talking to her with Chrom. Her role in the plot of Awakening is limited primarily to the chapter in which she appears since even recruiting her is completely optional. Tharja has no interest in fighting like the other loyal soldiers of Plegia. From the very start, she flippantly questions the nature of her station and obviously despises her own king, the villainous Gangrel. It is because of her independent spirit and apprehension towards dying because of someone else’s orders that she is willing to join the player.
If Chrom moves next to Tharja and speaks with her, he decides to do as he believes his sister would do, giving grace to an enemy. After meeting the leader of the Ylissean army under the circumstances, the talented Plegian dark mage joins the heroes in their fight. During the events of Awakening from then on, she might develop a relationship with one of the other members of the player’s army, but she does not have to do that. If she does reach S support with a character, Tharja will have a daughter named Noire who is also able to be recruited in a paralogue chapter later on.
Regardless of who Tharja interacts with, her most defining trait is probably her quickly-developed obsession with the player’s avatar unit. Whether they are a male or female version of Robin, Tharja will be oddly fixated on them. This obsession is so intense that Tharja will generally continue to be focused on Robin in most of her conversations. She can be romanced by the player and build an S support with Robin if he is male, while if Robin is female they can only reach A support. However, it should be noted that this may be partially due to the S support functioning as a fundamental game mechanic and trigger for the creation of a child unit in Awakening.
Tharja’s behavior towards Robin only changes slightly depending on Robin’s gender. Words like “love” are replaced by a more vague conception like “fate” when Tharja describes her feelings towards the avatar. When discussing the subject of her obsession with others, her interactions with the other characters do not really change based on the gender selected by the player at the start.
When she is not attempting to cast curses on people, divining fortunes, or stalking Robin, Tharja spends a great deal of time studying magic. Her studies and experiments lead her down a dark path that results in using the people closest to her as guinea pigs in her search for knowledge. The father of Noire varies based on who the player chooses, but no matter who it is, Noire reveals in support conversations that Tharja experiments on her own daughter with magic. Tharja’s abusive behavior in the future also extends to her spouse, even if that spouse is Robin.
The Tharja who meets her daughter from the future discovers love for Noire and chooses not to use her for hexes and magical rites. However, the woman Noire grew up around is still a part of Tharja’s character. While it may be possible that Tharja will change her ways and become a better person, her dark ambitions, intelligence, and talent may still corrupt her and enable behavior that is detrimental to her relationships.
Tharja’s base class is a Dark Mage. She also has access to the Knight and Archer class sets via a second seal, but given her talents, I keep her in her starting class and level her up to 20 before promoting her. The Dark Mage is able to promote into the Dark Knight and Sorcerer classes with a master seal, but for my Tharja build, I promote into the Dark Knight and then reclass into Sorcerer. Dark Mage and Sorcerer are where Tharja really shines, with her high magic damage output. The skills offered in Dark Knight can be useful to have, but the extra mobility of the mounted class is not worth losing access to dark magic for the rest of the game. Tharja can always reclass into Sorcerer after getting the Dark Knight skills.
I cannot make a guide for Tharja without also considering her child unit, Noire, as well. The child units are too mechanically fundamental in Awakening to avoid considering what sort of Noire build you want to have. Because Tharja has no way to access the Galeforce skill, determining Noire’s father for the sake of optimization is crucial. Most of Noire’s potential fathers are unable to give her access to Galeforce, but Gaius and Donnel can allow Noire to reclass into a Pegasus Knight and eventually a Dark Flier for Galeforce. While you do not need to select an S support partner for Tharja based on stats and skills alone, Galeforce is just too strong to not consider it during a playthrough where you are focused on getting the most powerful units possible.
It is pretty well known that Male robin is the best candidate to be the father of any of the child units, given the access to so many different skills and how powerful his stats can be overall. However, if Robin is female or you do not want your avatar to marry Tharja, I like Gaius the best for the task of fathering Noire. Besides offering his daughter a candy wrapper instead of a handkerchief to blow her nose, he has lots of useful skills to offer. More importantly, Gaius gives Noire access to reclass and obtain Galeforce eventually.
Without going in-depth on the calculation of Noire’s stats, it is important to keep in mind that they are the result of her bases in addition to her mother and father’s stats. If you want Tharja’s daughter to be powerful, you will want to train both Tharja and her S support partner to be at their best. Remember to adjust the order of the parents’ skills before starting Noire’s paralogue, if needed. Child units inherit the skills at the bottom of the parents’ equipped skill lists. My favorite skill to have Noire inherit from Tharja is Lifetaker. Because it requires an investment of 15 levels into the Dark Knight class, it is just more convenient to have Tharja pass the skill on to Noire directly. That way, Noire can focus on other classes and skills while reaping the benefits of Lifetaker.
If you choose to make Gaius into Noire’s father as well, I recommend making him an assassin and giving Noire the lethality skill. Lethality combined with Lifetaker makes it even easier to take out an enemy and keep Noire at full health every turn. However, there are lots of possible options for skills to pass from the father characters, depending on the sort of Noire build you want. I will not go into more details on Noire builds here, but it is important to have them in mind. Remember that you cannot access Noire until Tharja has obtained the skill you want to pass down. So, decide what skill you want to give Noire and make that the first objective while training Tharja.
The skills Tharja has when recruited are helpful whether she is being used in combat or as a supporting unit in a pair-up. The skills she can access in the promoted classes of Dark Knight and Sorcerer are powerful and effective for taking on powerful foes and survivability. Depending on your plans for Noire, the skill you want Tharja to pass down could depend.
Breaking down the skills needed for Tharja to excel:
- Hex: Adjacent enemies have -15 avoid, Tharja has this upon recruitment
- Anathema: Enemies within three tiles have -10 avoid and crit avoid, Tharja also already has this when recruited
- Lifetaker: When an enemy unit is defeated by the user, they recover 50% of their maximum HP, Obtained by reaching level 15 in the Dark Knight class (Especially useful for passing on to Noire, but note it does not activate on Enemy Phase)
- Vengeance: with an activation rate of the user’s skill times 2, it makes an attack deal extra damage equal to half of the damage the user has taken, Reaching level 5 of Sorcerer grants this skill
- Tomebreaker: grants +50 hit and evasion when the enemy unit has a tome equipped, Tharja obtains this after hitting level 15 in the Sorcerer class
Tharja is great for obliterating armored units and shredding large health bars with high magic damage output, but she needs support and protection to not get overwhelmed by attacks. Tharja is very squishy and easy to kill at lower levels, especially on Lunatic difficulty. If you want her to survive, pairing up is important. Even without having the Tomebreaker skill during most of the playthrough, she can completely outclass enemy magic users with support and pair-up bonuses.
While Tharja is not as powerful as Robin, the classic strategy of equipping a Nosferatu tome and pairing up to take on enemies during the enemy phase can still be a potent combination. Especially when she has the Vengeance skill, which often results in her attack dealing more damage to the enemies after taking a hit. Tharja can usually self-heal whatever damage was done to her, at least enough to survive the next round of combat.
Outside of fulfilling the usual role of a combat mage, the pair-up system allows Tharja to play a very supportive role as well. The Hex and Anathema skills remain active, lowering enemy avoid while Tharja is supporting another character. This can make it easier for your other units to hit the enemies near Tharja. Position her carefully and possibly move Tharja before your other units to set up higher hit rates for the subsequent rounds of combat that turn. Changing a hit rate on an adjacent enemy from 75 to 100 from both her skill bonuses is a very impactful difference.
When Tharja is first recruited, she is towards the end of the map. However, there are wyvern rider reinforcements and the boss that are potential sources of experience if you want to go ahead and begin training Tharja immediately. If you already know who you want Tharja to marry, I recommend pairing her up with them right away and starting to build support bonuses. I had Gaius pair up with Tharja and against the Chapter 9 boss, she did not fare poorly. On Lunatic difficulty, she may not hold up so well in direct combat, so getting her some experience from supporting a stronger unit in battle may be necessary.
These two example images show what my Tharja’s stats looked like as a Dark Knight or a Sorcerer when promoted. The ability to use swords is sort of irrelevant for Tharja and the stats are not particularly different, so it is understandable if you are not sure which promotion to pick. I select the Dark Knight class specifically to obtain the class skills for that promotion. I prefer Sorcerer as Tharja’s final class goal because it retains the ability to use dark magic, unlike the Dark Knight. Don’t let the edgy name fool you, she won’t be able to use Nosferatu and those sorts of useful spells while in the Dark Knight class.
At level 15 of Dark Knight, Tharja gains the Lifetaker skill. Once she has reached this point, there is not much reason to stay in the Dark Knight class. She can reclass at any time using a second seal because Lifetaker is the last skill obtained while using the Dark Knight. After that, I generally swap her over to Sorcerer at the earliest convenience.
Note that Tharja does not need to be in the class she obtained a given skill (in this case, Lifetaker) in order to pass it on to Noire. Depending on how you play, Tharja may be ready for reclassing before you get around to Noire’s paralogue. This is not an issue, but if you have changed classes and gained more skills, make sure that the skill you want Noire to inherit is at the bottom of Tharja’s skill list.
With how little of a difference in each stat changes from Dark Knight to Sorcerer, it gives Tharja more opportunity to grow and improve while not setting her back in a major way. Once she is finally in the Sorcerer class, it is just a matter of leveling up to obtain the powerful skills the class has to offer. Tharja pretty much hits her peak effectiveness once she reaches level 5 in Sorcerer to obtain the Vengeance skill. Since she is not a child unit, you cannot expect her to be one of the best units in your army. At this point in her build, she is still good enough that it would still be worth deploying her, though.
How Your Choice Affects Gameplay
If you choose not to recruit Tharja, you vastly alter your experience of Awakening. You would be missing out on not only her but also the ability to access her child unit and a paralogue. Even if you do not plan to use Tharja as part of your main force, there is not much reason to avoid recruiting her. She is on the way to the boss of Chapter 9, so it does not require the player to go out of their way to simply talk to her with Chrom. Choosing to deploy Tharja yields a useful magic wielder who will at least be able to contribute in a supporting capacity in one of your pair-ups.
The promotion options for Tharja do not change the gameplay too significantly, but Sorcerer is really the better option. I found that the little bit of extra mobility from Dark Knight is useful for traversing the Mila Tree map quickly. However, the main benefit of Dark Knight is purely for obtaining the Lifetaker skill.
Aside from that, Sorcerer is where Tharja really shows what she can do. If you use her as a promoted Sorcerer, you will probably find that she is a powerful magic combat unit. Like many other potential parent units in the game, she falls off a bit over time. It is important to understand that Tharja is probably not going to be your most powerful unit at any point, but that is not really the purpose of her role within the group.
The choice of which skill to give Noire is an important decision that can significantly impact the rest of the game. I prefer to have Tharja reach level 15 in one of the promoted classes that I do not intend to make Noire so that she can have access to a powerful skill without having to level up so many times. Because Tharja is unable to grant Galeforce, it is particularly important that Noire has access to the best skills possible.
If you chose to make Noire’s father a unit who gives her access to the Pegasus Knight class, she can use the powerful skills inherited from her mother and father as she grinds up to a level 15 Dark Flier. Choosing not to do this makes Noire much less usable than the other child units. Some of the other children are able to inherit Galeforce from their mother, but Noire will have to earn it for herself if you decide to use her at all. Galeforce is needed for optimization, but you do not need that if it is not how you enjoy playing the game.
Question: How to recruit Tharja in Fire Emblem Awakening?
Answer: In Chapter 9: Emmeryn, Tharja appears as an enemy Dark Mage. She can be recruited by moving Chrom next to her and selecting the Talk option. After a brief conversation, she joins your units. To safely recruit her, try clearing the enemies around her as much as possible. Another option is to pair Chrom with a powerful flying unit and fly him over. You can move the flying unit he is paired with, swap to Chrom, talk to Tharja, and then even swap back to the flying unit if you would prefer.
Question: Is Tharja good in Fire Emblem Awakening?
Answer: Tharja is a good magic user and probably the best user of dark magic that you will have access to in the early game (aside from the avatar, of course). She does not have any way to obtain Galeforce, so she significantly drops off in the late game when compared to powerful child units. If she is your favorite character, do not be discouraged from using her. She can still be powerful enough to hold her own in combat, but she will not be able to be the star of your army and quickly clear maps. Tharja also makes a great pair-up partner with just the skills that she has upon recruitment.
Question: Is Sorcerer or Dark Knight the best class for Tharja?
Answer: Sorcerer is the best class for Tharja to end on. The Dark Knight does not allow her to equip dark magic tomes and the extra mobility does not make up for the lower damage output. That is not to say you should avoid the Dark Knight class, though. Lifetaker is a useful skill to obtain, but if you do not want to get that specifically there is not much reason to use the Dark Knight class. Whether you are planning to reclass to Sorcerer or promote into it first, it allows Tharja to demonstrate her true magical potential.
Tharja is a strong dark magic user who won over the hearts of fans and cemented herself as an iconic character in the Fire Emblem series as a whole, even though she was a side character in Awakening. Although, her popularity is probably not due to her power. Tharja does not have any way to access Galeforce, which is practically the best skill in the entire game, allowing characters to move again right after taking out an enemy. In terms of optimized units, Tharja is not one of the best available. However, her solid stats and supportive skills make her helpful as a magic user, especially for shredding enemy armored units and assisting allies when paired up.
If you carefully plan out your units’ pairings, her daughter Noire can be a very powerful destructive force. If you do not plan to use Noire however, Tharja may not be worth investing a lot of experience. Because there is access to optional random encounters in Awakening, this may not be so much of a concern. If you do not enjoy grinding, then it is important to not invest too many of your resources into a unit like Tharja who will probably need to be benched eventually (or at least take a back seat to the action). When not playing on the highest difficulty, Tharja can remain powerful and usable throughout the game.
For a more balanced experience that allows you to enjoy playing with Tharja with a bit of challenge, I would recommend Hard mode. Like many other characters, she does not have much of a chance to shine at a higher difficulty. Regardless, her skills, access to dark magic tomes, and her potential child unit make her a useful ally worth recruiting in any playthrough of Fire Emblem Awakening.