While Jenni has been busy with the Blue Lions and Black Eagles routes, I have been steadily making my way through Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ Golden Deer route, other wise known as the Verdant Wind route.
The Golden Deer house is made up of various eclectic characters hailing from the Leicester Alliance, a faction of nobles that have united under one banner after breaking off from the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus. The house is made up of a larger mix of commoners than the other two houses, and each of the main students hail from a different noble family, further making things complicated. With such a mix of backgrounds, Three Houses takes the concept of unity in diversity and throws it all into one house, although the themes only fully take fruit after the five year timeskip. Each of the characters must learn to band together to take on the combined threats of the Empire and Those Who Slither in the Dark, or face demise together.
In this sense, you could say that the route embodies several aspects of the standard Fire Emblem formula, and I’d even say it’s the best choice for a first route, especially if you don’t like how charged the other two leaders and houses seem to be. Claude is definitely the calmest of the three, despite his reputation of a schemer, and the Verdant Wind route explores sides of Fodlan lore that aren’t explored in Black Eagles, or provide a different look at some of the characters.
(Slight) spoilers follow – Beware
With Claude, throughout the story you gain hints that he’s not just anybody – he pulls his tactics and scheming from a childhood of bullying thanks to being different, and learning to adapt. As a result, he has a clearer view of what he wants to achieve in the longer run. For Claude and the Golden Deer, this isn’t just a battle to unite Fodlan, but also a fight to achieve his dream of hopefully breaking down (sometimes literal) barriers of bias and predisposed judgment that led to his bullying in the first place.
In a sense, you could say that Claude is surprisingly noble despite his reputation and methods, although I still needed to face off against the other two leaders in order to help achieve this. I liked Claude from the first impression he gives in the story, and my appreciation for his character only grew as I went along the story, even though some of the events like the reveal of the Flame Emperor’s identity aren’t as hard-hitting in this house as I imagine it would be for the other houses.
It’s not just Claude though – the entire house is lovable, even though some of the characters have more of a ‘gimmicky’ personality trait than others. From Hilda, who’s lazy but also really strong (even becoming the second strongest as a Warrior just behind Claude); to Lorenz, who was memed upon before release but is a very compelling character despite his belief in a class system; to Marianne, who really needs a hug and the happiest ending you can get her, the Golden Deers’ route rings true throughout the story thanks to its diverse characters and motivations.
Overall, the Golden Deer route’s message of putting aside prejudices of varying sorts and finding common ground in order to achieve something greater is nearly as old as time itself, but still very relevant in the modern age. And with characters this lovable, do you really need another reason to choose the Golden Deer as well?
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is available for the Nintendo Switch.