Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Support Optimization Guide
By Holothuria (Jon Chown)

[Toct] Table of Contents

All contents are indexed with four-character codes enclosed in square brackets.
  Using Ctrl+F or your browser's “Find” feature will allow you to search the 
document, and searching for one of the bracketed codes will alternately take 
you directly to that section or back to the table of contents.

Contents:

[Toct] Table of Contents

[Chp1] Chapter 1 - Guide Information
[Gttg] Guide to the Guide
[Sftc] Supports: Factors to Consider
[Csrl] Class Role
[Csaw] Character Strengths and Weaknesses
[Rvob] Relative Value of Bonuses
[Sgbs] Self-Given Bonuses and Stacking
[Rcpt] Reciprocity
[Oagc] Overall Group Composition

[Chp2] Chapter 2 - Characters
[Amla] Amelia
[Artr] Artur
[Colm] Colm
[Crmg] Cormag
[Dzla] Dozla
[Dusl] Duessel
[Erka] Eirika
[Eprm] Ephraim
[Ewan] Ewan
[Ford] Forde
[Frnz] Franz
[Grca] Garcia
[Gerk] Gerik
[Gilm] Gilliam
[Ines] Innes
[Jsua] Joshua
[Knol] Knoll
[Kyle] Kyle
[Lrcl] L'Arachel
[Lute] Lute
[Mrsa] Marisa
[Mldr] Moulder
[Myrh] Myrrh
[Ntsa] Natasha
[Nemi] Neimi
[Renc] Rennac
[Ross] Ross
[Salh] Saleh
[Seth] Seth
[Syrn] Syrene
[Tana] Tana
[Tths] Tethys
[Vnsa] Vanessa


[Chp1] Chapter 1 - Guide Information

[Gttg] Guide to the Guide

Okay, it's a little silly: writing a guide about a very narrow aspect of a 
five-year-old game.  Well, I just took up the game, and the truth of the matter
 is that I'm a big, uncontrollable data processor, and this is the sort of 
information I obsess over.  No, Sacred Stones probably isn't hard enough that 
optimizing support relationships is necessary to beat the game, even on hard 
mode.  Since I'll be thinking about it anyway, I figure I might as well make 
public the conclusions I reach.   At present, I am only submitting this guide 
to GameFAQs, so it it turns up elsewhere, I'll get in a big, irate huff.  
Questions, comments, corrections and all that fun stuff can be sent to me at 
holothuria at hotmail dot com.

This guide will be put into two chapters.  The first will discuss much of the 
thinking and math behind my way of looking at supports.  The second will 
outline the best options for individual characters.  If I get around to it, I 
may add a third chapter that discusses some possibilities for well-optimized 
five-, eight- and twelve-man teams.

The support system can be dazzling (okay, baffling) at first.  There's been 
plenty written about it already, so I'm going to skip the basics of how 
supports are gained and what they do.  If you need more of a primer, I 
recommend neonclover's guide.  However, here, for handy reference, is a brief 
description of the bonuses available:

Attack - increases damage done
Defense - reduces damage taken
Hit - increases chance to hit
Avoid - reduces chance to be hit
Crit - increases chance to get a critical strike
Crit evade - reduces chance to be hit with a critical strike

Note that all bonuses apply to both physical and magical attacks, so, for 
example, a defense bonus actually increases both defense and resistance.  Also 
for handy reference, here are the bonuses offered by each elemental affinity:

Anima - attack, defense, avoid, crit evade
Dark - hit, avoid, crit, crit evade
Fire - attack, hit, avoid, crit
Ice - defense, hit, avoid, crit evade
Light - attack, defense, hit, crit
Thunder - defense, avoid, crit, crit evade
Wind - attack, hit, crit, crit evade

There are three offensive affinities, each offering all three offensive bonuses
 and one defensive bonus.  They are fire, light and wind.  There are three 
defensive affinities--anima, ice and thunder--giving all the defensive bonuses 
and one offensive bonus each.  The odd man out is dark, which has two each 
offensive and defensive bonuses.

[Sftc] Supports: Factors to Consider

As we attempt to optimize supports, we'll have to consider a number of factors.
  Here's my attempt to enumerate them, in rough order of importance:

1.Class role
2.Character strengths and weaknesses
3.Relative value of bonuses
4.Self-given bonuses and stacking
5.Reciprocity
6.Overall group composition

Okay, maybe it's not quite that many factors, but let's take a closer look at 
each.

[Csrl] Class Role

Every character has a job to do, and each job benefits from certain statistics 
more than others.  It's important to align each character's supports to give 
the best stats for the job or jobs to be done.  Need an example of what I'm 
talking about?  Take a look at Tethys; she's purely a utility character, with 
no attack ability of her own.  Therefore, there's not much reason to use her 
supports to try to beef up her offensive capabilities.  At the other end of the
 spectrum are characters who deal damage purely from range and shouldn't be 
subject to many enemy attacks, and so who don't need much in the way of 
defenses.  Note that very many of the characters in the game can fill more than
 one role, especially if branching promotions are taken into consideration.  An
 arrangement of the class roles I'll refer to, in order from most offensive to 
most defensive, follows, with a brief description of each role.

Ranged damage - deals damage to enemies not adjacent to the character
Melee damage - deals damage to enemies adjacent to the character
Tank (physical or magical) - serves as bait to enemies, absorbing incoming 
damage
Utility - may include staff use, dancing, stealing or anything else that isn't 
direct combat

“Wait,” I hear you asking, “Shouldn't the tanks be the most defensive?  It's 
their job to be hit and not take much damage!”  While that's more or less true,
 tanks--we hope--get a chance to counter-attack, and they frequently have a 
secondary role mopping up wounded enemies.  “Utility”-role characters, on the 
other hand, frequently cannot counter-attack and use abilities which don't 
benefit from offensive bonuses much, if at all.

[Csaw] Character Strengths and Weaknesses

Tying in closely to class role is an individual's ability to perform that role.
  A damage dealer may have good chances to hit and crit, but if he's only 
laying down piddling amounts of smack, he's of little value.  Rather than 
building up his crit rating further, it's best to support him in ways that 
increase his attack damage, and that actually increases the value of his 
already good hit and crit odds.  Similarly, it doesn't matter how much damage a
 character can do if he dies to the first sneaky skeleton to pitch a javelin 
his way.

For offensive roles, the basic rule is to build on strengths by covering 
weaknesses; if the weaknesses are covered, build on strengths by building on 
strengths.  In terms of defenses, however, most characters are intrinsically 
specialized--they stand out in avoid or defense or resistance--and it's often 
better to build on what they've already got than to try to balance things out. 
 If you're looking for a general rule, give avoid to damage-dealers and defense
 to tanks.  This aspect of support optimization is perhaps best discussed on a 
character-by-character basis.

[Rvob] Relative Value of Bonuses

This is where the promised math starts to come into things.  I'll start with a 
blanket statement: all else being equal, offensive supports are better than 
defensive ones.  Why?  Because defensive bonuses work against each other; the 
higher a character's defense, the less valuable avoid is to him, and vice 
versa.  Meanwhile, offensive bonuses have a kind of synergy, each making the 
others more valuable.  Oh, and crit evade is junk. . . . but more on that 
later.

To counter my own point, defense can actually feed damage output, by allowing a
 character to survive and counter-attack against more enemy attacks.  
Generally, though, the characters best at doing that have high natural defenses
 already.

So, on to that math.  On the offensive side of the ball, we've got three 
numbers to evaluate, and the support system gives them this equivalency: 0.5 
attack, 2.5% hit or 2.5% crit.  Ignoring for a moment enemy defenses, a 
character's average damage can be roughed out thus (remember to convert 
percentages to decimals):

hit(crit * damage * 2 + damage)

For example, a character with 85% chance to hit, 15% chance to crit and 20 
damage would have this math:

0.85(0.15 * 20 * 2 + 20) = 0.85(26) = 22.1 average damage

Note that each number is multiplied by each of the others, meaning that it's 
more beneficial to have a variety than to stack one bonus exclusively.  Your 
crit chance and damage are effectively lowered by having a lower hit chance, 
but that can be made up by the extra damage from crit chance. . . . to a point.
  Similarly, the best hit and crit odds in the world are worthless if you can't
 do any damage in the first place.

(Incidentally, if you follow the math in that example, you'll find that the 
crit bonus is worth the most, followed by the hit bonus and then the attack 
bonus.  However, the difference is not extreme, and the gains are relative to 
this example.)

The lesson?  Find a balance.  High-skill, high-luck characters (such as 
swordsmen) will have plenty of hit and crit already and should probably take 
the extra points of damage where they can get them.  Meanwhile, axe-wielders 
usually suffer from bad hit percentages and could use that boost instead.

As far as defensive stats go, the proportions are similar: 0.5 defense or 2.5% 
avoid or 2.5% crit evade.  Between defense and avoid, the comparison is pretty 
easy.  If an enemy would otherwise average 10 damage, it would instead do 9.5 
with the defense bonus or 9.75 with the avoid.  At 20 average damage, you'd 
wind up taking 19.5 after the defense gain or 19.5 after the avoid.  In other 
words, defense reduces damage more if you're already taking little damage, but 
avoid does more if you're likely to take big hits.  (If you're wondering, 20 
remains the break-even number at higher support levels, because both bonuses 
increase linearly.)

Bottom line, characters with high defense should look for more defense, while 
characters with low defense should seek avoid.  And, again, there's not much 
reason to go looking for both, unless the character needs a whole lot of help 
(Rennac and Dozla might fit the bill) or just doesn't have any better options.

But what about crits?  Nobody wants to be insta-gibbed.  Very true, but there 
are two counterpoints to be made.  First, defense and avoid both reduce the 
chance for you to be one-shotted anyway.  Second, enemies with high crit chance
 are few and far enough between that they can be handled on a tactical level.  
Instead of planning supports around them, use terrain, initiative and the 
weapon triangle to handle them.  Okay, for those of you doing link arena, crit 
evade is probably a much more valuable bonus. . . . but you'd probably decided 
that for yourself already.

[Sgbs] Self-Given Bonuses and Stacking

Two quick facts to point out.  First, fractional support bonuses are rounded 
down.  2.5% crit chance is rounded down to 2%.  Second, a character gains his 
own support bonuses.  If a fire affinity has an “A”-level support with a wind 
affinity and they're in range of each other, they both gain the “A”-level 
bonuses for fire and wind.

The relationship between those two facts?  You can use a character's own 
affinity bonuses to keep him from losing those half-point gains.  For example, 
if a dark affinity has a choice between a fire affinity and a light affinity, 
his attack, hit and crit bonuses would be the same with either one.  However, 
at “A” level, the light affinity would give him 1.5 defense, which would round 
down.  The fire affinity, on the other hand, would offer 7.5% avoid.  Because 
the dark affinity is also giving himself 7.5% avoid, that .5% wouldn't be 
rounded into oblivion.  Thus, the choice comes down to either 1 defense or, 
essentially, 8% avoid.

This is rarely a reason by itself to support one character over another, but it
 can act as a sort of tie-breaker in some cases.

[Rcpt] Reciprocity

Supports are a two-way street, so it's a good idea to try to arrange them to 
provide the best bonuses to both involved warriors.  And that's about all there
 is to say about that.

[Oagc] Overall Group Composition

“What?!  How can group composition be so far down the list?  You are some kind 
of syphilitic halfwit!”  Okay, I hear you.  But the simple truth is that there 
are no characters in Sacred Stones that are so weak that they have no practical
 use.  There are no Jogurts here.  If you prefer to pick your team first and 
then plan supports around it, I'm not going to stop you.  I simply prefer to do
 the best I can for every character in my little guerrilla army, which means 
taking all the best supports out there.


[Chp2] Chapter 2 - Characters

In this section, I'll take a look at things a little more specifically.  
Characters are listed alphabetically.

Statements about stats are based on “average final stats,” as provided by 
Woolylambkin in his character guide.  They are based on multiplying the 
character's stat growth percentages by the number of levels the character can 
gain, and then adding back starting stats and promotion bonuses.  Pre-promotion
 stat caps are not taken into account, but I have yet to find a situation where 
this leads to an average being more than a point over--and in those cases, the 
stat is likely to be capped by endgame, anyway.  Note that if you promote 
before level twenty or don't reach the level cap after promotion, your stats 
will likely be lower.

All supports for every character are ranked by what's best for that character, 
not necessarily the best match for the two characters mutually.  After the 
ranking number, there's another number before the supporting character's name.  
That second number is the number of “best bonuses” the support will give the 
character whose entry it is.  For example, looking at the first character on 
the list, Amelia, you'll see that her first four supports--Ross, Neimi, Franz 
and Ewan--all have “3”s before their names.  This is because they all give 
Amelia attack, crit and hit, her “best bonuses.”  Duessel only has a “1,” 
because his anima affinity means that he gives Amelia the attack she needs, but
 the rest of his bonuses are defensive and not the sort you should be looking 
to give her.

[Amla] Amelia

Possible classes: recruit, knight, cavalier, general, great knight, paladin
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: physical tank, ranged damage
Affinity: thunder

Comment: Don't be fooled by the 800 pounds of armor the knight branch wears; 
Amelia is a damage dealer, no matter how she's promoted.  Her defense is just a
 little better than standard for a melee fighter, and her health is good but 
not great.  Decent strength, high skill and good speed all point toward damage 
dealing as a primary role.  Her defenses are probably good enough to stand up 
on their own.

Best bonuses: attack, crit, hit

Support rankings:
1.3 Ross (fire)
2.3 Neimi (fire) - Loses out to Ross because he can make better use of Amelia's
 thunder affinity.
3.3 Franz (light)
4.3 Ewan (light) - Franz might enjoy thunder more.
5.1 Duessel (anima)

[Artr] Artur

Possible classes: monk, sage, bishop
Primary role: ranged damage
Other roles: magical tank, melee damage, utility
Affinity: ice

Comment: Good skill, magic power and speed all mean Artur can do some damage.  
As a bishop, he also has some of the best resistance in the game.  Low luck 
means that his avoid might suffer, so defense might be a better option.  

Best bonuses: crit, defense, attack

Support rankings:
1.2 Tethys (fire)
2.2 Cormag (fire) - Needs ice bonuses less.
3.2 Neimi (fire) - Needs that ice even less.
4.2 Joshua (wind)
5.2 Lute (anima) - Still a good option, and the best if you want Artur to be 
virtually impervious to magic attack.

[Colm] Colm

Possible classes: thief, assassin, rogue
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: utility
Affinity: light

Comment: Colm has great speed, skill and luck, but his strength is low.  You 
shouldn't need to worry about his hit chance at all, but he needs damage.  Crit
 can be a good pick-up, too, especially since the assassin's “silencer” ability
 is tied to crit chance.  If you're worried about his fragility, look for 
avoid.

Best bonuses: attack, crit, avoid

Support rankings:
1.3 Neimi (fire) - She has everything he's looking for.  It's meant to be.
2.2 Moulder (anima) - attack and avoid
3.2 Rennac (dark) - crit and avoid
4.1 Kyle (ice)
5.1 Marisa (ice)

[Crmg] Cormag

Possible classes: wyvern rider, wyvern knight, wyvern lord
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: physical tank, ranged damage (Danger!  See comment.)
Affinity: fire

Comment: First, the “Danger!” note: there's a glitch that can cause the game to
 freeze if a wyvern knight's pierce ability activates on a ranged attack.  If 
you go the wyvern knight route, either leave the javelins at home, or read up 
on the situations in which the glitch occurs.  Now, Cormag . . . is kind of a 
mixed bag.  His stat caps are kind of low with either promotion, and he winds 
up with only moderate skill and speed--and low luck.  If you want him to deal 
damage, it's going to take a little bit of everything as far as support 
bonuses, although it's worth noting that pierce is a very strong offensive 
skill.  On the tanking side, Cormag has very good h.p. and decently high 
defense, which he can build on with even more defense from supports.  Be 
warned, though, that his resistance is very low, and he'll get mauled by 
magicians.

Best bonuses: crit, defense, hit

Support rankings:
1.2 Tana (wind)
2.2 Artur (ice)
3.2 Natasha (ice)
4.1 Duessel (anima)
5.1 Seth (anima)

[Dzla] Dozla

Possible classes: berserker
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: ranged damage
Affinity: thunder

Comment: Dozla, poor Dozla.  He's a wrecking ball when you first get him, but 
his stat growth is pathetic, and he winds up a bit of a glass cannon.  On the 
one hand, his h.p. and crit are very high, but, on the other, nearly everything
 else is low.  As an axe-user, he'll need help with hit, to take full advantage
 of his high crit chance.  For defenses . . . well, you can stack some defense 
to make it passable, or you can stack some avoid to make it passable.  Since 
we're starting low, avoid is probably the better option.  The good news is that
 he has something to gain from any support available.

Best bonuses: hit, avoid, attack

Support rankings:
1.2 Rennac (dark) - Dark stacks well with thunder.
2.2 Garcia (fire)
3.2 L'Arachel (light)
4.2 Ewan (light) - Probably needs thunder's defensive gains less.
5.2 Myrrh (wind)

[Dusl] Duessel

Possible classes: great knight
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: physical tank, ranged damage
Affinity: anima

Comment: Duessel's stats are pretty middling all around, except his high 
constitution.  He's a fairly customizable guy who can turn into a decent damage
 dealer with offensive supports, or into a decent tank with defense or avoid.  
Note the operative word: decent.  Defense is actually more to his advantage, 
but he has a hard time finding it.

Best bonuses: hit, defense, crit

Support rankings:
1.2 Cormag (fire)
2.2 Ephraim (fire) - Probably needs anima less than Cormag.
3.2 Knoll (dark)
4.2 Amelia (thunder)

[Erka] Eirika

Possible classes: lord, great lord
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles:
Affinity: light

Comment: Winds up very much like the other swordsmen, but with less crit and 
more defenses.  And a horse.  High skill, speed and luck mean that she 
shouldn't have trouble poking her opponents, but she needs more attack and crit
 to deal out the damage.  She can get into the “pretty good” range for either 
avoid or defense (including resistance), if you feel worried about using her on
 the front lines.  She really only has one bad option for supports, and that's 
Innes.

Best bonuses: attack, crit, avoid or defense (yes, I cheated)

Support rankings:
1.3 L'Arachel (light) - Attack, crit and defense.  Since Eirika is also light, 
this stacks a little better  than Ephraim's fire.
2.3 Ephraim (fire) - Attack, crit and avoid.  On the other hand, he might make 
better use of Eirika's light affinity.
3.2 Saleh (wind) - Can probably make better use of light boosts than either 
Tana or Forde.
4.2 Forde (wind) - Only wins out over Tana by having the same movement type as 
promoted Eirika.
5.2 Tana (wind) - Still not a bad support by any measure
6.2 Seth (anima) - Attack, defense and avoid.  At this point down the list, 
we're starting to get too defensive.
7.1 Innes (ice)

[Eprm] Ephraim

Possible classes: lord, great lord
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: physical tank, ranged damage
Affinity: fire

Comment: With respectable stats across the board, Ephraim can make a strong 
damage-dealer or a strong tank.  Or probably both at the same time, really.  
His speed is slightly low, so bank on defense over avoid.  Where offense is 
concerned, attack and crit are likely more valuable than hit.

Best bonuses: crit, defense, attack

Support rankings:
1.3 Eirika (light)
2.3 L'Arachel (light) - Ephraim's fire is worth more to Eirika, since she's 
purely offensive.
3.2 Forde (wind) - Again, he beats Tana on movement type.
4.2 Tana (wind)
5.2 Myrrh (wind) - She doesn't need the offense Ephraim's giving off.
6.2 Duessel (anima)
7.1 Kyle (ice)

[Ewan] Ewan

Possible classes: pupil, mage, sage, mage knight, shaman, druid, summoner
Primary role: ranged damage
Other roles: melee damage, magical tank
Affinity: light

Comment: Ewan is pretty strong offensively no matter how you train him.  Down 
the shaman path, he can use some hit, as dark tomes are the magical equivalent 
of axes.  If you make him a mage, crit and damage are more valuable.  
Defensively, he's got good avoid and resistance, so there's no harm in picking 
up either one--but he probably doesn't really need a lot of help in that 
direction.

Best bonuses: crit, attack, hit

Support rankings:
1.3 Ross (fire)
2.3 Tethys (fire) - Needs Ewan's light less than Ross.
3.3 Saleh (wind)
4.1 Dozla (thunder)
5.1 Amelia (thunder)

[Ford] Forde

Possible classes: cavalier, great knight, paladin
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: ranged damage, physical tank
Affinity: wind

Comment: Mostly good but not great stats.  Hit shouldn't be an issue, unless he
 becomes a great knight and takes up axes.  His strength is slightly low, so 
I'd look for attack first, and then crit.  Forde's defense is low, so look for 
avoid instead if you're worried about his durability.

Best bonuses: attack, avoid, crit

Support rankings:
1.3 Ephraim (fire)
2.2 Vanessa (anima)
3.2 Franz (light)
4.2 Eirika (light) - Franz has fewer good options than Eirika.
5.1 Kyle (ice)

[Frnz] Franz

Possible classes: cavalier, great knight, paladin
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: ranged damage, physical tank
Affinity: light

Comment: Almost a clone of Forde, Franz has higher strength and lower skill.  
That means that he might prefer crit and hit to attack.  Really, with his 
support options, he should take whatever offense he can get.

Best bonuses: crit, hit, attack

Support rankings:
1.3 Forde (wind) - Franz's only offensive support.
2.1 Gilliam (thunder)
3.1 Amelia (thunder) - Has better options than Gilliam.
4.1 Natasha (ice)
5.1 Seth (anima)

[Grca] Garcia

Possible classes: fight, warrior, hero
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: ranged damage
Affinity: fire

Comment: Garcia's a fairly stock damage dealer.  He's got high strength and 
good skill but low speed.  He'll wind up with five more strength as a warrior 
than as a hero, so the offensive support choices might change depending on 
which direction you go.  Either way, he's using axes at least part of the time,
 so hit will do him good, and crit will serve him well.  His only defensive 
standout is h.p., but given his low speed, it's probably best to pursue defense
 over avoid.

Best bonuses: crit, hit, defense

Support rankings:
1.2 Neimi (fire)
2.2 Ross (fire) - Ross is (slightly) less offensive than Neimi, so he needs 
Garcia's fire less.  She's also a better fit logistically, as a primarily 
ranged fighter.
3.2 Gilliam (thunder)
4.2 Dozla (thunder) - He and Garcia both are mainly axe-users, so it doesn't 
make a ton of sense to have them side by side on the field.
5.1 Seth (anima)

[Gerk] Gerik

Possible classes: mercenary, ranger, hero
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: physical tank, ranged damage
Affinity: thunder

Comment: One of the best all-around characters, Gerik has good offense and 
defense.  Class strength caps keep his strength down, so attack might be a 
priority, and a bit of hit would be good if you make him an axe-wielding hero. 
 He's stout defensively, but avoid isn't his strong suit; stack defense 
instead.

Best bonuses: attack, defense, hit

Support rankings:
1.2 Tethys (fire)
2.2 Ross (fire) - Has less use for thunder than Tethys.  Sort of.
3.2 Joshua (wind)
4.2 Saleh (wind) - Needs thunder defense bonuses less than Joshua.
5.2 Marisa (ice)
6.2 Innes (ice)

[Gilm] Gilliam

Possible classes: knight, general, great knight
Primary role: physical tank
Other roles: melee damage, ranged damage, more tanking
Affinity: thunder

Comment: And the Tank of the Year Award goes to . . .  Gilliam has the highest 
defense in the game, and his h.p. should cap.  Attacks bounce off him most of 
the game, but if you think he needs to be harder, go ahead and pile some more 
defense on.  His strength is high, but his skill is on the low side, so look 
for hit and crit.

Best bonuses: crit, hit, defense

Support rankings:
1.3 Franz (light)
2.2 Garcia (fire)
3.2 Neimi (fire) - Needs thunder less.
4.2 Syrene (thunder)
5.1 Moulder (anima)

[Ines] Innes

Possible classes: sniper
Primary role: ranged damage
Other roles:
Affinity: ice

Comment: Poor, poor Innes just isn't that good.  He can be a power early on, as
 a promoted character in a largely un-promoted world, but his bad stat growths 
eventually catch up with him.  Since he's exclusively ranged, I wouldn't worry 
about his defenses; honestly, you couldn't make them good if you wanted to.  
His hit chance should be pretty good, so look for attack and crit instead.  He 
has a lot of good options for supports, but, unfortunately, he's toting the 
unpopular ice affinity.

Best bonuses: crit, attack, hit

Support rankings:
1.3 L'Arachel (light)
2.3 Eirika (light) - Might need ice less.
3.3 Tana (wind)
4.3 Joshua (wind) - Might need ice bonuses less than Tana, since she has a 
lower speed cap and lower defense.
5.1 Gerik (thunder)
6.1 Vanessa (anima)

[Jsua] Joshua

Possible classes: myrmidon, assassin, swordmaster
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles:
Affinity: wind

Comment: Sort of the opposite of Innes: a strong character with few good 
support options.  He fits the swordsman mold pretty squarely, with high hit and
 crit but low strength, and a reliance on avoiding for defense.

Best bonuses: attack, avoid, crit

Support rankings:
1.2 L'Arachel (light) - Boy, she's turning up in a lot of top positions, isn't 
she?
2.2 Gerik (thunder)
3.1 Innes (ice)
4.1 Marisa (ice)
5.1 Artur (ice)
6.1 Natasha (ice)

[Knol] Knoll

Possible classes: shaman, druid, summoner
Primary role: ranged damage
Other roles: utility, melee damage, magical tank
Affinity: dark

Comment: The often maligned Knoll really has some pretty good offensive stats. 
 The trouble is that his low health and pitiful defense mean that he'll snap 
like a twig under physical assault.  If only summon would appear out of thin 
air to take hits for him.  All he should need offensively is hit--which is 
good, since he has exclusively defensive supports.  Defense is what you'd look 
to stack to make him a magical tank. . . . and he's getting it no matter what 
you do.

Best bonuses: hit, defense, crit

Support rankings:
1.2 Natasha (ice)
2.1 Lute (anima)
3.1 Duessel (anima) - These two could go either way, really, as they're both 
anima and both need hit, crit and avoid.  Lute gets the edge because I think 
all three stats are more valuable to her.

[Kyle] Kyle

Possible classes: cavalier, great knight, paladin
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: physical tank, melee damage
Affinity: ice

Comment: With high h.p., decent defense and a defensive affinity, Kyle is the 
“tankiest” of your three cavaliers.  He's actually not bad with a weapon, too. 
 His luck is low, and his skill is only average, so look for hit, especially if
 you plan to have him take up axes, and crit after that.  If you want him to 
tank, defense is probably preferable to avoid, but he can get away with either.

Best bonuses: hit, defense, crit

Support rankings:
1.3 Colm (light)
2.2 Ephraim (fire)
3.2 Syrene (thunder)
4.2 Forde (wind)
5.1 Lute (anima)

[Lrcl] L'Arachel

Possible classes: troubadour, valkyrie, mage knight
Primary role: utility
Other roles: ranged damage, melee damage
Affinity: light

Comment: Here she is, to most popular girl in school.  Everyone wants to pal 
around with L'Arachel, but what does she really need?  Not much, truth be told;
 she's a statistical behemoth, with a likelihood to cap magic power, speed, 
luck and resistance and come pretty close with skill.  (That's all if you don't
 promote until level 20, naturally.)  The trade-off is her vulnerability to 
physical attacks; she has very low defense and some of the worst h.p. in the 
game.  That latter also prevents her from being a foolproof magical tank, I 
think.  Since she's wholly a utility character for the first half of her 
career, I prefer to seek defensive bonuses first, focusing on avoid especially,
 to keep her around for the higher levels.  If you feel the need to bolster her
 offense, look for a balance, with hit as the lowest priority.

Best bonuses: avoid, crit, attack

Support rankings:
1.3 Ephraim (fire)
2.2 Dozla (thunder)
3.2 Rennac (dark)
4.2 Eirika (light)
5.2 Joshua (wind)
6.1 Innes (ice)

[Lute] Lute

Possible classes: mage, sage, mage knight
Primary role: ranged damage
Other roles: utility, melee damage
Affinity: anima

Comment: Lute is a troubling case.  She has all the same weaknesses as 
L'Arachel--low defense and abysmal h.p.--with only about half of the 
advantages.  She has high magic power and speed but low skill, so look to shore 
up her hit percentage first, and then consider crit.  Her resistance is all 
right, but I'd look for avoid, to build on her natural speed.

Best bonuses: hit, crit, avoid

Support rankings:
1.3 Ross (fire)
2.3 Knoll (dark) - Lacking the damage bonus of fire.
3.2 Artur (ice) - Wins out over Kyle because the anima bonuses are better for 
him.
4.2 Kyle (ice)
5.1 Vanessa (anima)

[Mrsa] Marisa

Possible classes: myrmidon, assassin, swordmaster
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles:
Affinity: ice

Comment: Marisa doesn't have any surprises as a swordsman.  Low strength, high 
skill, high speed, etc.  If there's one thing making her different from Joshua,
 it's that she's got high luck, so . . . um, well, in terms of supports, it 
doesn't mean much.  You're still looking for attack, avoid and crit.

Best bonuses: attack, avoid, crit

Support rankings:
1.3 Tethys (fire)
2.2 Colm (light)
3.2 Tana (wind)
4.2 Joshua (wind)
5.2 Gerik (thunder)

[Mldr] Moulder

Possible classes: priest, sage, bishop
Primary role: ranged damage
Other roles: utility, melee damage
Affinity: anima

Comment: Ugh.  If there's one word to describe Moulder's stats, that's it.  
Ugh.  It's hard to say what he wants to be, let alone what support bonuses he 
needs.  His skill and speed are good, as is his con (for a caster), which 
suggests that he ought to be focused on dealing damage rather than healing 
after promotion--especially considering his low magic power, which is about the
 only stat that benefits healing.  His defense and resistance aren't going to 
win any battles, and his avoid is hindered by his low luck.  Where does that 
leave us?  I suppose that attack ought to come first, and then probably avoid, 
for some much-needed survivability.  His hit should be good enough naturally, 
especially if he's using light magic, so crit is probably his third priority.

Best bonuses: attack, avoid, crit

Support rankings:
1.2 Vanessa (anima)
2.2 Colm (light)
3.2 Gilliam (thunder) - Beats out Syrene for logistical reasons.
4.2 Syrene (thunder)

[Myrh] Myrrh

Possible classes: manakete
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: physical tank, magical tank
Affinity: wind

Comment: As long as her dragonstone is functional, Myrrh is a raging beast on 
the battlefield.  She does massive damage and is extremely difficult to kill, 
and she gets big stat boosts.  Of course, that's all well and good, but it 
creates two problems as far as supports go.  First, while she still has the 
stone, offensive bonuses don't do her much--if any-- good, because she's just 
too powerful to need them.  Second, once the stone breaks, she turns into a 
pumpkin.  Offensive bonuses are worth even less, since she can't do any 
attacking, and her tanking ability drops quite a bit.  Still, defensive bonuses
 are the only real option, but it may be best to plan around who needs her wind
 affinity instead of what Myrrh needs.

Best bonuses: avoid, defense, crit evade

Support rankings:
1.3 Dozla (thunder)
2.1 Ephraim (fire)
3.1 Saleh (wind)

[Ntsa] Natasha

Possible classes: cleric, bishop, valkyrie
Primary role: utility
Other roles: magical tank, ranged damage, melee damage
Affinity: ice

Comment: Given her meek appearance, you might be surprised to learn than 
Natasha is the best magical tank in the game.  Well, she is.  She's got very 
high resistance and very high avoid to go with it.  She's also got the magic 
power to be a good healer, and it's only her low skill that hampers her as a 
damage-dealer.  Since she'll be using light magic, her hit rate is still 
decent, so look for crit.  There's not much else she really needs, but I 
suppose a little more attack and avoid never hurt anyone.

Best bonuses: crit, attack, avoid

Support rankings:
1.3 Cormag (fire)
2.2 Franz (light)
3.2 Joshua (wind)
4.2 Knoll (dark)
5.2 Seth (anima)

[Nemi] Neimi

Possible classes: archer, ranger, sniper
Primary role: ranged damage
Other roles: melee damage
Affinity: fire

Comment: Neimi goes straight down the checklist as a damage-dealer, with good 
strength, skill, speed and luck.  As a ranged damage-dealer, she shouldn't have
 to worry about coming under attack too often,  so look to maximize her damage 
output with attack and crit.  If she can pick up some avoid, it'll supplement 
her natural dodging ability.

Best bonuses: attack, crit, avoid

Support rankings:
1.3 Garcia (fire)
2.2 Colm (light)
3.2 Amelia (thunder)
4.2 Gilliam (thunder)
5.1 Artur (ice)

[Renc] Rennac

Possible classes: rogue
Primary role: utility
Other roles: melee damage
Affinity: dark

Comment: The biggest chump on the list, Rennac has just plain lousy stats.  
Speed is his only good stat.  He's as hard as a sponge and as strong as a 
butterfly.  Hence, he can only really be relied on for his lock-picking and 
stealing skills.  The slightly good news is that his own dark affinity can do 
him a lot of good.  It's got the avoid he needs to keep breathing and some hit 
and crit to keep his damage afloat.  Of course, attack would help him more than
 the hit probably.  To prioritize, I would look for avoid, attack, crit and 
finally hit.

Best bonuses: avoid, attack, crit

Support rankings:
1.3 Tethys (fire) - Everything Rennac needs.
2.2 Colm (light)
3.2 L'Arachel (light) - Needs dark less than Colm.  Maybe.  Slightly.
4.2 Dozla (thunder)

[Ross] Ross

Possible classes: novice, fighter, pirate, warrior, hero, berserker
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: ranged damage
Affinity: fire

Comment: Ross is solid all around, but the only job he can do really well is 
dealing damage.  He's like a better take on Dozla, with slightly better 
survivability and much better damage output.  His strength is plenty high 
(unless you make him a hero), but his skill is slightly low, so look for crit 
and hit.  Avoid is probably a little better than defense, if you're worried 
about him surviving on the front lines.

Best bonuses: crit, hit, avoid

Support rankings:
1.3 Garcia (fire) - Just what Ross is after.
2.2 Ewan (light)
3.2 Amelia (thunder)
4.2 Gerik (thunder)
5.1 Lute (anima)

[Salh] Saleh

Possible classes: sage
Primary role: ranged damage
Other roles: utility, melee damage, magical tank
Affinity: wind

Comment: Perhaps more than any other character who comes already promoted, 
Saleh suffers from having few levels to gain stats.  His growth rates are 
perfectly all right, and I'm sure he'd be comparable to the other characters if
 you promoted them all at level ten, but assuming you don't, he winds up just 
on the low side of average in nearly every regard.  It's hard to say what to 
give him, since he has neither strong strengths nor weak weaknesses.  Any 
offensive gains should help, although hit is probably the least valuable.  He's 
sound enough defensively that keeping him alive shouldn't be a problem--and he 
can make a passable magical tank in a pinch--so it's hard to value one 
defensive stat over the other.

Best bonuses: attack, crit, hit

Support rankings:
1.3 Ewan (light)
2.3 Eirika (light) - Probably needs Saleh's wind just slightly less.
3.3 Myrrh (wind)
4.1 Gerik (thunder)

[Seth] Seth

Possible classes: paladin
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: ranged damage
Affinity: anima

Comment: Seth has decent offensive stats, but his h.p. and defenses are low 
enough that you'll have to worry about him getting mauled by counter-attacks 
later in the game.  Look for avoid first, to help keep him on his feet--er, on 
his horse, anyway.  After that, crit and attack are probably best.

Best bonuses: avoid, crit, attack

Support rankings:
1.3 Cormag (fire)
2.3 Garcia (fire) - Has less use for Seth's anima affinity.
3.2 Franz (light)
4.2 Eirika (light)
5.1 Natasha (ice)

[Syrn] Syrene

Possible classes: falcoknight
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: magical tank, ranged damage
Affinity: thunder

Comment: Syrene has the weakest final stats of any of the fliers, but that 
doesn't make her an outright bad soldier.  She's got good skill and speed, so 
all she really needs in order to become a decent combatant is some attack.  She
 has the best resistance of any non-caster, so you can turn her into a magical 
tank with some defense bonuses; for general survivability, though, avoid is 
probably the better choice.

Best bonuses: attack, avoid, defense

Support rankings:
1.3 Vanessa (anima)
2.3 Moulder (anima) - Loses to Vanessa due to movement type.
3.2 Gilliam (thunder)
4.2 Kyle (ice)
5.1 Tana (wind) - It could be argued that the cumulative offensive gain of wind
 is better than the defenses of the previous two.

[Tana] Tana

Possible classes: pegasus knight, wyvern knight, falcoknight
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: ranged damage
Affinity: wind

Comment: Tana is likely to cap strength and speed, and she'll get close with 
skill and luck.  All that together means that she's a reliable damage-dealer 
with a good avoid chance.  Her strength cap is a little low, though, so hook 
her up with some attack, and then throw in some more crit and avoid to make her
 a powerhouse.

Best bonuses: attack, crit, avoid

Support rankings:
1.3 Cormag (fire)
2.3 Ephraim (fire) - Has better options than Cormag.
3.2 Eirika (light)
4.2 Syrene (thunder)
5.1 Innes (ice)
6.1 Marisa (ice)

[Tths] Tethys

Possible classes: dancer
Primary role: utility
Other roles:
Affinity: fire

Comment: Tethys dances.  She doesn't attack.  She doesn't tank.  Sooo . . . she
 doesn't need offensive support bonuses at all, for anything.  And she doesn't 
really need a lot in the way of defenses, since she shouldn't be getting 
attacked.  The lesson is, pair her with people who need her fire affinity.  
However, since we're ranking supports here . . .  Avoid is really her only 
decent option, and defense is the only other one.

Best bonuses: avoid, defense, crit evade

Support rankings:
1.3 Marisa (ice)
2.3 Gerik (thunder) - Same.  Has better alternatives than Marisa does.
3.3 Artur (ice) - Has better than Gerik does.
4.2 Rennac (dark)
5.1 Ewan (light)

[Vnsa] Vanessa

Possible classes: pegasus knight, wyvern knight, falcoknight
Primary role: melee damage
Other roles: ranged damage
Affinity: anima

Comment: Not quite the offensive star Tana is, Vanessa is still an able 
fighter.  She offers no surprises for a pegasus type: attack is a good starting
 point, followed by avoid and crit.

Best bonuses: attack, avoid, crit

Support rankings:
1.2 Moulder (anima)
2.2 Lute (anima)
3.2 Forde (wind)
4.2 Syrene (thunder)
5.1 Innes (ice)