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    Support Optimization Guide by Holothuria

    Version: 1.0 | Updated: 01/23/10 | Printable Version | Search This Guide

    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)