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Eugenics is a horrible set of ideas adopted by horrible people (like Margaret Sanger and Adolf Hitler) to justify horrible acts against humanity. I condemn eugenics in no uncertain terms and will use this short introduction to condemn it categorically and unilaterally.

Except when applied within the context of video games. Then it’s all butterflies and rainbows!

One of Fire Emblem 4: Genealogy of the Holy War’s biggest selling points is its complex marriage system. In short, characters in the first half of the game (hereinafter referred to as “Generation 1,” which ends after Chapter 5) will have children. These children will become playable in the second half of the game (“Generation 2”, which starts in Chapter 6) and will take on characteristics depending upon how your characters in Generation 1 acted. How do these mechanics work? Great question! This guide will seek to answer this, as well as offer some of the most optimal choices for how to make the most of this system. Do note that this guide will NOT contain any spoilers, and is written primarily for casual players/newcomers – not efficiency/ranked/low turn count runs, although I will occasionally mention these playstyles in passing if the differences are especially notable.

Anyway, here are the basics of marriage in FE4:

  1. Two marriages are set in stone: Sigurd x Deirdre and Quan x Ethlyn. You cannot make these characters fall in love with anyone else, so I will not be covering these pairings in this article. I recommend giving Sigurd the Leg Ring and the Paragon Ring, while giving Ethlyn the Pursuit Ring. That’s all I’ll say about these pairings though.
  2. For every other character in Generation 1, the love system exists. There are 7 eligible bachelorettes in Generation 1, and each can fall in love with any of the 12 eligible bachelors. (Gay/lesbian couples are not supported, probably because, due to biological reasons, they wouldn’t result in any kids.)
  3. To get characters to fall in love with each other, simply deploying them on the battlefield will grant them love points each turn. A couple will gain additional love points by ending their turns next to each other. These methods will work until turn 50 of any given map, when love points stop accruing. Additionally, some couples will have certain map events and can talk to one another on the battlefield: for example, Levin and Fury can converse during Chapter 4 and will fall in love instantly. (I recommend not doing this if you want to pair them up with other units.)
  4. After the couple falls in love, you guarantee yourself two kids in Generation 2: one boy and one girl. Make sure the mother survives, or else she will not have any kids. In this case, or if the mother never fell in love to begin with, then her kids will be replaced by two “substitute characters” who are usually inferior to her actual kids.
  5. Both kids will inherit all personal skills from both parents. Note that they do not inherit any class skills. You can check whether a skill is personal/class by pressing X on the unit screen and hovering over the skill in question. Also note that Sol, Luna, and Astra are only inheritable on infantry sword-wielding kids, namely Ayra’s kids, Silvia’s daughter, and Briggid’s daughter. No one else can inherit these.
  6. Boys will inherit their fathers’ inventories. Girls will inherit their mothers’. This is reversed for Briggid’s kids and Ethlyn/Quan’s kids (i.e. Briggid’s and Ethlyn’s sons will inherit their inventories, while the daughters will inherit their fathers‘ inventories).
  7. Regarding growth rates, boys will inherit their fathers’ full growth rates, plus 50% of their mothers’, while girls will do the opposite. Additionally, these growth rates are augmented by their parents’ Holy Blood, if applicable.
  8. There’s an extremely convoluted formula which dictates base stats of kids. I can’t explain it, nor do I feel any desire to, so if you’re curious, then just read the formula here:

With that out of the way, let’s now begin talking about the pairings themselves. I will cover Tailtiu’s first because I firmly believe that hers is the most important pairing in the game.

Tailtiu, an infantry mage, will pass down Wrath to her kids (100% chance to crit when under 50% HP). Both of her kids are infantry spellcasters, although her son will acquire a horse upon promotion (at level 20). This is important because horses dominate FE4.

Unquestionably, Tailtiu’s best pairing is Levin. Pairing these two will result in the most powerful unit in Generation 2: their son, who will now have the earliest possible access to a legendary tome: Forseti. Additionally, Levin will pass down some powerhouse skills in Adept (Atk Spd+20% chance of a free follow up after attacking) and Critical (Skill% chance to attack for double your normal attack value). Their son will now be able to power through Generation 2, one-shotting everything and likely activating Adept to finish off anyone who survives. And if he gets below 50%? Then Naga have mercy on anyone unfortunate enough to cross his path, because NOTHING in the game will survive a critical Forseti. With the exception of like… three enemies, one of whom includes the final boss.

The only conspicuous weakness with this pairing is that their kids will lack Pursuit. But so what? Their son has plenty of ways to mop the floor with anyone he attacks. And if he really wants Pursuit, you could have him buy the Pursuit Ring. It might be a bit overkill but hey, I don’t think anyone uses the Pursuit Ring to better effect than he does.

Oh yeah, I forgot that Tailtiu and Levin also have a daughter. She’s… mediocre, and will pretty much always turn out that way no matter who her daddy is. She never gets a horse, she can’t inherit any legendary weapons, she joins later than her brother, and she doesn’t have Pursuit. She’s quite potent in the arena though, and if you’re playing more slowly and cautiously, then she can definitely find a place in your army.

Additional goodies: Levin wants to pass down the Bargain Ring to help with his son’s gold problems (repairing Forseti ain’t cheap). If you’re feeling frisky, you can also give him the Magic Ring. In this pairing, I would recommend trying to promote the son as soon as possible. This will entail buying the Paragon Ring on him once Celice is done using it. Getting his horse is of utmost importance here.

Alternate pairings: Who cares? Any pairing aside from Tailtiu x Levin is costing you your greatest asset for Generation 2. While Tailtiu x Azelle can work (good magic growth, Pursuit), as can Tailtiu x Lex (Paragon for 2x exp, also Vantage + Wrath shenanigans), the opportunity cost is simply too high. Unless you’re doing a weird LTC where pairing up Tailtiu with Levin becomes infeasible, there is absolutely ZERO reason for you to pass up on this pairing. It’s just too good.

Edeen, an infantry healer, has no skills to pass down to her kids. She will give birth to a cavalry archer son and an infantry healer daughter, both of whom join at the beginning of Chapter 6. Because Edeen does not have Pursuit, her kids will not be able to double attack on their own. This can be a big problem for the son. He needs Pursuit in order to function properly.

With this in mind, our most logical choice would be Midayle. Midayle not only comes with Pursuit, but he also grants Accost, which is a nice bonus for ranged attackers (it has a chance of extending combat to allow for extra attacks). As another reason for Edeen x Midayle, you’ll also get a Brave Bow in this pairing. Meanwhile, Edeen’s daughter will function fine since it’s impossible to screw up a healer, and as an added bonus, once she promotes, she’ll have Pursuit to help out her lackluster combat in case it’s ever needed. Which it probably won’t because her mobility is terrible, but hey, at least you got options!

Additional goodies: If you go this route, then I recommend selling Jamke’s Killer Bow in Generation 1 and buying it back with Midayle before Chapter 5 ends. While the Killer Bow is usually inferior to the Brave Bow, it does have higher accuracy, and sometimes you’ll want that extra accuracy. I’d also recommend giving Edeen a boatload of staves before Chapter 5 ends, particularly the Warp and Physic staves. With intelligent use of your staff uses, it’s possible to promote Edeen’s daughter as soon as Chapter 7 begins.

Alternate pairings: I know I said I wouldn’t be talking about LTC/efficiency/whatever, but this deserves special mention. Claude or Azelle are viable options for Edeen. Both of them screw over the son, since he’ll now be a bow user whose magic growth is higher than his strength growth (lol Ronan) but with Azelle he at least gets Pursuit. Importantly, this nets you access to the Rescue Staff in Chapter 4 (if Azelle) or Chapter 5 (if Claude). It’s one of the best ways at conserving turns, although this is most definitely not something you’d really need in a casual or first time playthrough. Hell, even in most ranked runs, Midayle is still usually the best choice for Edeen.

Also, don’t pair her with Jamke. The pairing isn’t bad per se, but it’s strictly inferior to Edeen x Midayle. Jamke doesn’t pass down Pursuit, although he does grant a Brave Bow to the son, so there’s that at least. Trust me though: I’ve done playthroughs with Edeen x Jamke and playthroughs with Edeen x Midayle, and the difference for their son is like night and day. You want Midayle; plus, Jamke can be put to much better use elsewhere.

Ayra , an infantry sword user, will pass down Pursuit (lets her kids double attack), Nihil (nullifies enemy criticals, bonus damage, and sword skills), and Astra (skill% chance of attacking 5 times consecutively). Her two kids are both infantry sword users who join at the beginning of Chapter 6. Because of Ayra’s excellent combination of Pursuit + Astra, she can copulate with just about anyone and the end result will be passable. But we don’t want passable. We want overpowered.

Noish is, in my opinion, her optimal pairing. Noish passes down Critical (Skill% chance of attacking for double your normal attack value) and Accost (chance of extending the battle for extra attacks), resulting in two kids with Pursuit, Accost, Astra, and Critical. Additionally, the daughter will learn Adept upon promotion (Atk Spd+20% chance of a free follow up after attacking). However, because the son does not learn Adept in this pairing, there’s a credible argument that Jamke is a superior option. Jamke not only passes down a superior strength growth when compared to Noish, but he also passes down Adept and Accost. Thus, the choice between Noish v. Jamke effectively becomes: do I want Critical or do I want Adept? The choice is yours. Do note that Critical can be “taught” to the kids by having them wield weapons with 50+ kills on them. Personally I think Noish is better, but both Noish and Jamke are excellent options.

Another pairing to consider is Chulainn. He will pass down Luna (skill% chance of negating enemy’s defense) and importantly, Major Od blood. This is irrelevant if you’re playing glitchless, but there is a very easy exploit which allows you to make use of this. There’s a weapon in Generation 2, the Balmung, which is only equippable by units with Major Od blood. By default, there’s only one unit with Major Od blood, and he starts off with the Balmung. While there’s nothing wrong with this unit, Ayra’s kids are even better than he is, so you may want to give one of them the Balmung instead. The only way to give them Major Od blood is by pairing Ayra with Chulainn (who are cousins of some sort). I won’t explain how the glitch works, but if you’re curious, then I’ll refer you to this page on Serenes Forest (search “Buy the Balmunk”).

One last option to consider is Dew, but this is exclusively for efficiency runs. In ranked/efficient playthroughs, Ayra’s kids will never see combat because your mounted units will be clearing out everything before Ayra’s kids have a chance to do anything. But they’ll still need experience to help out your EXP rank. Hence, we turn our attention to the arena. If we want to maximize our gains from the arena, then it’s prudent that both kids have access to Paragon. Lex is a pairing which allows for this, but I don’t like this pairing because he can be put to better use elsewhere. Dew passes down Bargain, which allows Ayra’s kids to buy/sell/rebuy the Paragon Ring. It’s a good fit for ranked runs, but again, I wouldn’t recommend this for casual playthroughs. Skill-wise, Noish, Jamke, and Chulainn are much superior.

Lachesis, whom I affectionately have nicknamed “Bushmaster,” passes down Charm (grants +10% hit and avoid to all allies within 3 squares of user; stacks with leadership stars + other Charms). Her son is a sword-locked cavalier who joins at the beginning of Chapter 6, while her daughter is also a troubadour (cavalier who can heal and use swords) who joins at the beginning of Chapter 7. Bushmaster’s daughter will be an effective unit no matter who her father is; after all, you can’t really screw up a healer. Yet, Pursuit does help her out for whenever she needs to enter combat, so that’s one thing we need to keep in mind. Also, As with Edeen, Bushmaster’s son desperately needs Pursuit. So our first order of business with Bushmaster is finding her a husband who has Pursuit.

Beowulf is your best option. He and Bushmaster will pass down a monstrous strength growth (the son gets 80%!), and the kids will now have Pursuit and Accost (chance of extending combat). Because Beowulf is also locked to swords, this makes item inheritance really easy too: he’ll just pass down his entire inventory to his son. Very straightforward pairing; not much else to say here.

Additional goodies: One thing I like to do is give Beowulf the Shield Ring and the Shield Sword prior to Generation 1 ending. Combined, these items will grant +12 defense (+5 from ring, +7 from sword). Beowulf’s son will now inherit these and become a veritable 4-legged tank. These really help out his prospects because he might struggle in the arena otherwise. He benefits bigtime from extra experience because he can become a strong combatant, but also runs the risk of falling behind.

Alternate options: As you’ll notice from the portraits above, Alec is another strong option for Bushmaster. I don’t believe he’s as good an option as Beowulf, but it’s virtually identical. Alec will pass down ever-so-slightly inferior growths, and instead of Accost, he will pass down Nihil (negates enemy criticals, sword skills, and effective weaponry). Nihil can help out Bushmaster’s kids when dealing with Horseslayers… but then again, I can’t remember if there even were any Horseslayers in Generation 2. Overall, Alec is almost the same thing as Beowulf, but is clearly inferior. I propose him as an option in case you don’t recruit Beowulf or if your Beowulf dies. He’s “Beowulf v0.95.”

Silvia is Generation 1’s dancer. She will give birth to two infantry kids, one of whom is a dancer like herself, the other of whom is a healer like Edeen. Her daughter joins midway through Chapter 7; her son joins midway through Chapter 9. Silvia will pass down Miracle (if user’s HP ≤ 10, avoidability increased by (11 – HP) x 10 for that turn) and Adept (Atk Spd+20% chance of a free follow up after attacking). Miracle is nice, but it’s not essential. If you play intelligently, neither of Silvia’s kids will ever be attacked and they certainly will not need Miracle. Adept is a great skill, but her kids are some of the worst users of it. As a mother, Silvia really doesn’t offer anything of value aside from inheritance, but even so, there’s not much she can do with inheritance. Granted, she can pass the Knight Ring or the Leg Ring down to her dancing daughter. This is certainly nice, but Sigurd’s son makes much better use of the Leg Ring, while you’ll want to put the Knight Ring on Ethlyn’s son so he can make use of it, then sell it so he can buy the Paragon Ring immediately thereafter. All things considered, Silvia makes for a piss poor mother who offers us nothing of value.

Therefore, her best pairing is none at all. Just let her play with whatever objects she finds in the produce aisle, but we do NOT want her getting pregnant because that’d be very bad. Instead, we preserve her virginity and use the substitute units in Generation 2 because they’re superior.

Her daughter’s substitute has two main perks. Firstly, she has Charm, which grants +10% avoid and hit to every ally within 3 turns. This does stack with Bushmaster’s kids’ Charms, as well as Sigurd’s son’s leadership stars for up to +50% avoid and hit if positioned correctly. Secondly, she gives you access to the Barrier Blade, which gives its user +7 Resistance. It’s not essential, but it’s a nice bonus and it’s more than what Silvia’s daughter will ever offer us. As a nice bonus, I happen to believe that the substitute “daughter” is one of the prettiest units in FE4. Tailtiu’s daughter’s substitute is quite cute as well, but her existence negates the possibility of getting Tailtiu’s son… and that’s a price we absolutely cannot pay.

Her son’s substitute is mostly the same story as the “real” thing. They both come extremely underleveled and don’t join until very late in the game. And this is where the substitute really shines. He has the Paragon skill, granting him 2x experience. This means that being underleveled is a lot less of a hassle for him than it is for Silvia’s son. Neither Silvia’s son nor his substitute will be especially useful in faster modes of play because they’ll never reach the battlefield on time. This is another reason why I favor the substitute: he’ll at least level up more quickly so you can forget about him more quickly. As a bonus, the substitute will net you access to the Berserk staff, which is otherwise unattainable. This has a niche application in LTC runs, wherein you can exploit the Berserk staff to screw over the final boss… realistically though, the Berserk staff isn’t anything amazing.

So to recap: if you don’t pair Silvia, you’ll get a dancer with Charm and access to the Barrier Blade; you’ll also get an easier-to-level healer and access to the Berserk Staff. To be sure, none of these perks are gamebreakers, but they do make for an easier Generation 2 than Silvia’s kids would. 

Note: There is an argument for pairing Silvia with Arden of all people… because he passes on Vantage, and Vantage allows Silvia’s daughter to cheese the arena with the Sleep Sword. I could see this coming into play for ranked runs, since you need to gain a lot of experience to get an AAAA rank. Practically speaking though, Arden x Silvia is kind of a chore to accomplish in Generation 1, and will not result in great benefits for Generation 2. I believe that Silvia x Nobody is her most straightforward and intuitive pairing for normal runs, as it’s easy to achieve, easy to work with, and gives you the most amount of options that are generally useful. 

Fury, aka Erinyes, is your only flier in Generation 1. Her daughter is also a flier (pegasus knight, to be exact) who joins midway through Chapter 6, while her son is a Sage (infantry mage/healer) who joins midway through Chapter 8. Fury fortunately passes down Pursuit to both kids, so you have a lot of options for her husband… but there’s one in particular whom I would recommend above all else. No, not Levin – he’s already taken.

I’m talking about big daddy Claude. This is far and away Fury’s best pairing for most playthroughs. Let’s go over the reasons why, starting with the son.

The son will start off at level 14 with a whopping 20+ base magic and an amazing 45% magic growth. He’ll be very likely to max out his magic. He’ll have 20+ speed and 45% speed growth, in addition to 20+ base resistance and an enormous 55% resistance growth. Sure, he won’t be able to wield Forseti, but Tailtiu’s kid makes better use of it anyway. This is still the second best version of him that you’re getting and he still kicks ass. Importantly, if his dad is Claude, he’ll now have access to the Valkyrie staff (it can revive a unit – perfect for ironman or casual runs!). In fact, he’ll be able to wield every staff in the game! With this setup, he’ll be quite versatile, with formidable stats, Pursuit, Adept, access to Light magic, and every single staff in the game. Great stuff.

The daughter, meanwhile, will be an absolute joy to use. Although her base magic will either be 1 or 2, don’t let this discourage you from putting Magic Swords on her. I’d argue that she is the best user of magic swords in the entire second generation. With Claude as her daddy, she’ll have a decent 30% magic growth. Importantly, she gains a static +7 magic upon promotion. On average, this means her magic stat will be around 13 or 14 by the time she’s level 20. Add in +5 from the Magic Ring and +14 from the base might of magic swords and she’s now attacking for 32~33 magic damage per hit… plus she gains Adept upon promotion. Even with 1 base magic, she can still one round the bandits in her joining chapter if you inherit the Magic Ring on her. And it’s not like her physical might is terrible either, even with Claude as her father. She’ll have at least 8 base strength plus a 25% growth, which translates to +1 strength every 4 levels on average. With options for Brave Swords/Brave Lances, her physical might can be bolstered further. Defensively too, she’ll be decent, especially with her 9+ base res, +5 upon promotion, and a 35% growth courtesy of Claude’s genes.

With Claude as her father, she will also have +1 to her staff rank, which can make a huge difference because there are quite a few staves that are locked to B rank: Physic, Recover, Restore, Berserk, Sleep, and Warp. This vastly expands her options and lets her do even more. To recap: Fury’s daughter will have flight, access to Brave Swords/Lances, be the best user of magic swords in the second generation, have stellar resistance, and be able to use a wide range of staves. She easily takes the cake for the most versatile unit in FE4. Claude is a huge part of what makes this possible.

Additional goodies: If you go this route, which I strongly recommend, then it’s in your best interest to inherit the Magic Ring on her. Another great candidate for the Magic Ring is Levin’s son, but he’ll already have Forseti so it’s not exactly needed (although it does help him one-shot some enemies early on, which is nice). Another fun thing you can do is start using the Bolt Sword you find in Chapter 3 and begin racking up tons of kills on it, so that it can hopefully have the Critical skill by the time Fury passes it onto her daughter in Generation 2.

Other pairings: Many actually exist, but all of them result in less versatility for Fury’s daughter, and less power for Fury’s son. Take Noish for example. While surely, a 40% strength growth, 50% defense growth, and access to Critical and Accost are nice, you’re heavily gimping Fury’s son by going for this pairing. He’ll still be serviceable, but he’ll have a base magic stat in the mid teens… and a paltry 10% magic growth. Not to mention, no Valkyrie staff and you’re also taking away Noish from arguably his best pairing, Ayra. Fury can viably pair with a lot of guys in generation 1, but I believe Claude gives both of her children the best and most amount of options for them to succeed in Generation 2. You get a very powerful son with amazing stats and access to the Valkyrie staff, in addition to a daughter with flight, options for physical and magical combat, impressive defenses, and access to a bevy of great staves like Warp, Restore, and Physic. Claude is a great dad.

Briggid is our final mother on the list. She is an infantry archer who passes down no skills. Her son is an infantry archer who joins midway through Chapter 8 and will innately have Pursuit, while her daughter is a thief who joins at the beginning of Chapter 7, innately has Steal, and will learn Pursuit upon promoting. Notably, inheritance in this pairing is reversed: her son will inherit her items (meaning he gets her bows, yay!) while her daughter will inherit the father’s inventory.

Lex is a great fit for Briggid. He passes down Vantage (guaranteed first strike if under 50% hp) and Paragon (2x experience). Their daughter especially benefits from this because, as a thief, she’ll otherwise struggle to get experience. Paragon + Vantage + the Sleep Sword she joins with is the perfect combination for cheesing the arena and getting her those levels that she so sorely needs. I don’t think this pairing is exactly optimal for the son, but he’s still a competent unit in this pairing. Since he’s an infantry unit, he’s unlikely to see much combat anyway, so he’ll mostly be training in the arena for experience. Paragon is thus a good fit for him as well. As a nice bonus: with Lex as a father, both kids will have tremendous growths in strength and defense.

Additional goodies: N/A

Alternate pairings: Dew can conceivably work for ranked/efficiency runs, but I’d prefer him with Ayra. Lex is a much better fit because he gives Vantage, which is of utmost importance for the daughter’s arena prospects. Jamke or Noish are good for Briggid if you want to give her kids better combat, but this is suboptimal because 1) either of these guys are better off with Ayra in a casual run, 2) the daughter will struggle in the arena without Vantage, and 3) neither kids are likely to see that much combat anyway because they’re infantry. Lex is really the only option that can fully bring out the potential of Briggid’s daughter.

In summary, here are the pairings that I advocate:

  • Tailtiu x Levin
  • Edeen x Midayle
  • Ayra x Noish or Jamke (or Chulainn if you like incest and glitches)
  • Bushmaster x Beowulf (or Alec if Beowulf isn’t available for some reason)
  • Silvia x nobody
  • Fury x Claude
  • Briggid x Lex.

I believe that these are the best pairings that’d help a newcomer get the most out of Generation 2. To be clear, some of these couples are not optimal for ranked/LTC/efficiency runs. In those such runs, the main changes I’d see are Ayra x Dew and Edeen x Claude. Also, just for fun, here’s a list of virgins:

  • Alec because his best pairing is Bushmaster, but Beowulf is better
  • Arden because he’s a useless sack of HP whose only function is to nab us the Pursuit Ring in chapter 2
  • Azelle because surprisingly, Pursuit isn’t really in high demand
  • Finn because he’s too busy playing Thracia 776 and because NOT pairing him lets you preserve his inventory for the game’s second half. I’d rather have an inventory on Finn instead of a subpar kid
  • Dew if you’re not playing a ranked/efficiency run, because of his super awkward skillset. Sol is unreliable, and nobody needs Bargain except in ranked runs.
  • Jamke. In fairness, he can work very well with Briggid or Ayra, but I prefer Lex and Noish respectively.
  • Chulainn if you’re anti-incest and anti-glitch

Well, hope you have fun! FE4 is one of my favorite games ever made, and I hope this guide can help newcomers enjoy it as much as I do.

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