!! In the [[DarkerAndEdgier Grim-Darkness]] of VideoGame/MassEffect3, there was never hope.

One of the most common complain from detractors of the game is that the ending completely breaks from the main theme of the series, namely the idea of Ďhopeí and that Ďyour choices matterí. However, perhaps that was the intention of the storywriters all along?

When you play the game for the first time, most of the players will likely feel like a total badass that is like [[Film/{{Terminator}} John Connor]], [[Franchise/{{Halo}} Master Chief]], and [[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration Jean-Luc Picard]] all rolled into one as you gather more and more allies mission after mission, side quest after side quest. With the expectation of being able to be the hero that saves the day at the end, naturally many of us were shocked at how the ending changes very little no matter what you did previously.

However, after you managed to calm down for a bit, replay the game again slowly, pay close attention to every conversation and read every secondary codex entry. After doing so, you will make the realization that any you just experienced a masterfully done example of TheFourthWallWillNotProtectYou.

Lets take a closer look at the actual effect that you actions have on the Reaper War, when you getting the krogans to support the turians, they werenít there to retake Palaven or even to defend it. They were merely trying to delay he Repaer in order to buy you more time in building the Crucible. Similarly, the quarians and the geth werenít there to help turn the tide, all they could do was help evaluate civilians and do hit-and-run attacks on the reapers in an attempt to slow them down. Even all the hours (not to mention Bioware points) that you spent on multiplayer were only to buy Crucible engineers more time, not with the expectation of wining the war or even survive.

If Shepard (more importantly, you the player) ever looked at the war assets screen with the green bar filled to the maximum and thought to him/herself ĎI can do this. This war can be won. There is hopeí, then he/she was either purely delusional or living in denial. From the very beginning, Admiral Hackett already told you that you cannot win conventionally. And if you have the From Ashes DLC, when Javik reads you for the first time, if you have previously been choosing all the optimistic dialog opinions, he will express his shock and disbelieve at how foolish you are at thinking that you can win this war. During the battle of Earth, you were told that less then 50% of the ground forces even made it to the surface. With the Extended Cut, the Catalyst will outright tell a defiant Shepard that this cycle has already used up most of itís resources after less then a year at war with the reapers. With this in mind, just how realistic was it that you ever expect your actions of talking down a criminal, rescuing a few hundred civilians, or choosing whether or not to save the residential district or the industrial sector of a colony matters at all?

A paragon Shepard thinks that he/she lives in a story from an old pulp fiction sci-fi (ComicStrip/FlashGordon) or pre-cyberpunk traditional Space Operas (StarWars), in which the power of friendship and understanding can indeed overcome all obstacles; While a renegade thinks that he/she is the anti-hero badass from an action movie and the leader from a military fiction, in which you must be able to be willing in sacrificing the few for the many or take morally questionable action while others donít want to get their hands dirty. The one constant thing for both is that you can indeed win against impossible odds if you really work for it.

In reality, they are both wrong, since in the bigger picture, Shepard is not much more important then a random mook. All the previous actions that you have taken have slightly more impact than the background conversation on the Citadel you can over hear, and the hard battles that you fought made slightly more impact than a random mook shooting at enemies at the background. The thing that you fight against is an insane ancient power with incalculable knowledge that can and probably will obliterate everything you know.

With this in mind, you will finally understand Franchise/MassEffect was never about saving the galaxy or wining against the reapers. It was a story about the life of Shepard, an absolute speck in the grand design of things that happened to be at the right place at the right time.
* This reasoning is spot on for a person playing as TheFettered [[TheParagon Paragon ]]. If someone tries to put principles before results, they won't be inclined to take any of the sadistic choices given to them. A [[PragmaticHero pragmatic]] [[TheUnfettered win at all cost ]] military commander on the other hand sees the Crucible and Catalyst as a way to defeat the reapers, and [[IDidWhatIHadToDo does what needs to be done.]] Therefore somebody who went into the game thinking I'll do whatever it takes, gets their wish.
!! Shepard and The Illusive Man: What Kai Leng means in their relationship.
To establish some boundaries, this is written with a playthrough ''starting'' with VideoGame/MassEffect2 in mind and came from an impression of Cerberus as similar to the IRA, rather than the mad scientists we were actually shown in VideoGame/MassEffect1.

This is going to be a bit fanwanky but I believe I've got enough evidence to think that this is actually the storyline they were going for. However, whenever I describe TIM or Kai Leng as lame, imagine them with the flaw I described but 'cool' which is what Bioware were going for. The question is, if The Illusive Man could have had operatives like Kai Leng, why would he devote such a large chunk of his resources bringing Shepard back?

TIM is a Shepard fanboy. It clouds him to everything and occludes rational thought. TIM has always had a Jesus complex and in his own mind he's the saviour of humanity that the Law couldn't understand and forced him into the shadows. He's always wanted people to adore him for it but has persuaded himself that he's genuinely giving up that light to do whats really good for people. Basically he sees himself as sacrificing his soul for the greater good and other people just can't understand that.

Then along comes Shepard, Shepard the first human spectre, Shepard the saviour of mankind who stuck to her guns and ploughed on despite no-one believing in her. Willing to do what needs to be done outside of the law and in the end the whole Galaxy worships her as a hero for it. TIM is infatuated with Shepard and projects himself onto her, he believes that they are similar people and equals and he absolutely craves her respect.

So when Shepard dies of course he brings her back (this is where my version will differ from Bioware, who would say that bringing Shepard back was the right decision). A waste of resources? Don't you understand? This is Shepard we're talking about. And TIM believes that because Shepard is like him, if Shepard could just be shown who TIM is and what TIM does, Shepard would come around to his way of thought. TIM believes that Shepard thinks of him as a respected adversary who just happens to be on the other side of the table and if Shepard could just be brought round, then Shepard would think like TIM does and give TIM the respect he needs. 'Mind control chip? NO! -no. You can't do that, we need Shepard as she is. And besides we don't need one, Shepard will li-. It's not necessary Miranda'

When you play ME 2, you'll notice that TIM is constantly explaining things to you, trying to justify his reasoning and he keeps on asking Shepard for Shepard's approval. He doesn't do this with anyone else, because everyone else is a subordinate in his view. And when Shepard makes decisions that go against TIM, TIM seems genuinely impressed. If you save the Quarian TIM tells you it's not what he would have done but seems honestly admiring of Shepard's 'tactics' and strategy. Because he thinks they're similar people making similar decisions and he's deluded enough that he can convince himself that he might have made the same call if the situation had been right.

TIM goes to huge lengths to get Shepard to trust him, he deliberately places people around Shepard who are reasonable and will paint TIM in a light that Shepard might understand (Jacob), he digs up former colleagues, he sends Shepard on missions to see that these things really were rogue cells and if Shepard finds anything bad he goes out of his way to clean things up as quickly as possible.

And then Shepard spits in his face and leaves.

From then on, every conversation between Shepard and TIM in VideoGame/MassEffect3 runs like this: 'I hate you' 'You just don't understand Shepard. I'm doing everything for the good of humanity' 'You're a monster.' 'Shepard! You've just got to give me some respect, I can't keep letting you go on like this' And even then, when people ask if Shepard should die 'No, she could still be useful'

And then we have Kai Leng. Kai Leng the Shepard replacement puppet. 'Your time is over [Kai Leng enters the shot]' The Illusive Man is embittered by the idea that Shepard won't work with him and is trying to take this second person, dress him up to look like Shepard and he pretend that he's created a better Shepard, one who actually listens to him and obeys him.

But the point is, TIM can't replace Shepard. And he's not the same as Shepard, he's so twisted he can't actually understand the sort of person Shepard is and what makes her great. And because of that, Kai Leng is flawed and won't be capable of anything close to what Shepard can achieve. TIM can't see that KL is an uncharismatic psychopath who can't inspire the respect and doesn't have the strength of character that Shepard uses in everything she does. KL is a flashy wannabe who, ultimately, is too useless to be able to beat Shepard in a simple fight. He's a reflection of The Illusive Mans flaws and can only ever be a shadow of what Shepard is. He gets some small victories, but every time Shepard lives and TIM says 'don't worry, your time will come, it's Shepard, of course you failed, but one day you will fight and kill her and I will have a Shepard who does exactly what I say and is loyal to me' and then that confrontation comes and Kai Leng straight up dies. Even in his death blow Shepard absolutely humiliates him and beats him down.

.... So that is why Kai Leng exists and why TIM spent all that money bringing back Shepard. The Illusive Man, who installed Reaper tech in his own eyes, deludes himself and is blind to his failings. Petty jealously and the inability to understand what sort of person he really is and what his own real motivations are. A craving for respect and the failure to recognise why it's denied to him, resulting in this sad angry little Shepard doll doomed to failure. And a messy end to both of them.

Just to make things clear, Kai Leng is a useless character that destroys everything he touches, because ultimately, whenever he's in a scene, his poor writing and cutscene superpowers make you wonder what the writers were doing making such a whiny annoying power, instead of the corrupted but interesting ball of hate he should have been. But what he means in terms of TIM's character is fascinating .

It's real shame that they chose Cerberus instead of inventing a new organisation for ME 2 because TIM has a complex relationship with Shepard and his conversation showdown is one of my favourite bits of the series.
! The much maligned War Assets, Effective Military Strength and their hidden meaning

At first glance, the War Assets numbers appear to boggle the mind. After all, how could a company of biotic cadets have a higher strength than the biggest dreadnought in the Victory fleet? How can noncombatant assets [[DefectorFromDecadence Miranda]] [[DesignerBabies Lawson,]][[ClassyCatBurglar Kasumi]] [[StealthHiBye Goto]], [[TheMedic Doctor]] [[TeamMom Chakwas]], [[TheScrappy Diana]] and Khalisa al Jilani combined have more strength than the [[AmazonBrigade Armali]] [[SuperSoldier Sniper Unit]] and [[MindOverMatter Serrice]] [[MagicKnight Guard?]]

Well, let's look at the numbers.

If you were to sum up only your Crucible assets, engineering teams, science teams,more search data, dissertations, prototypes, blueprints, Prothean artifacts and data drives, fabrication units, labor teams, worker teams, liquid assets, shipments delivered to the project, materials, equipment, mineral resources and the Reaper body part, you already have upto 2015 war assets. Add the Omega eezo hoard and you have 2315. Add Cerberus' Reaper research data and you have 2365. At a 100% readiness and only these assets collected, what happens if you fire the crucible? Only Destroy and Control are available with Destroy only devastating all important planets but still leaving them intact and capable of supporting life. Control outright saves all planets leaving even the infrastructure intact. As destroying requires more energy to be relayed compared to rewriting the Reapers to accept the new controller, that devastation of planets is to be expected.

At higher EMS, we start to see diminished returns. At 2650, even Destroy doesn't devastate any planet, at 2800 Space Magic Synthesis is available and at 3100 (EC) or 4000, the Crucible activator can survive. At higher EMS, you don't see any difference whatsoever.

So all it takes to win is to build the Crucible using all assets possible and then pad it with some military forces. Anything more than that is just wasted effort. Not constructing the crucible properly however requires you to get more military forces to "compensate". At lower readiness you also need more military forces to compensate.

Conclusion drawn - The Effective Military Strength is NOT a numerical value of the strength of your forces in a conventional battle against the Reapers. It is instead a measure of your Crucible's effectiveness, with all your military forces existing primarily to protect it by drawing fire away from it. Their War Asset values are an assessment of how effectively can they protect the Crucible from damage in combat.

And now the numbers start to make sense! Why are Miranda, Kasumi, Chakwas, Allers and al-Jilani combined stronger than the two asari commando units? Because they helped build the Crucible either directly by working on it, or by funneling assets to it, while the asari commandos have a very limited ability to draw Reaper fire away from the Crucible. Why is the Biotic Company slightly stronger than the Ascension? Because it is one big lumbering target as opposed to people who could distract a Reaper longer by scattering. Why is getting a banner, a religious artifact and an ancient book such a buff to certain fleets? Because they gain a lot more motivation to HoldTheLine against the Reapers with those things. It also explains the diminishing returns. A Crucible that fires with 3000 effectiveness is still the same Crucible that fires at 5000 or 8000 effectiveness. Giving it more protection against damage isn't going to change its effectiveness. Only with insufficient protection do you see different results as the crucible takes more and more damage. Even the Catalyst lampshades this.

! A War Assets Guide
%% By Aetol

The War Assets system of ''Videogame/MassEffect3'' is complex and intricate, or even obscure and confusing. Getting the best endings requires making the right choices, as far back as [[VideoGame/MassEffect1 the first game]]. Depending on the situation, the best course of action can be [[KnightInShiningArmor Paragon]], [[KnightInSourArmor Renegade]], or a bit of both...

In short, this calls for GuideDangIt. Fortunately, [[CaptainObvious you are reading a guide]].

This guide is split into the following parts :
* '''The Normandy And Her Crew''' : The [[CoolStarship Normandy]] and her [[BadassCrew crew]] past and present are powerful War Assets. Make the most of them.
* '''Mass Effect 3 Missions''' : These missions simply grant War Assets upon completion.
* '''Trilogy-Spanning Choices''' : The core of this guide. Make the right choices in all three games to unlock the best possible War Assets combinations. Alternate choices are proposed if you do not want to ShootTheDog.
* '''Search And Rescue''' : Obtain War Assets by scanning systems. The clusters containing the most powerful War Assets are listed first.
* '''Miscellaneous''' : Obtain War Assets by finding data or items during missions and delivering them on the Citadel, by taking part in discussions, or by leveraging your Spectre status.
* '''Downloadable Content and Tie-Ins''' : Obtain additional War Assets by playing official [=DLCs=], the iOS game Mass Effect: Infiltrator, or the multiplayer of Mass Effect 3

WARNING : All spoilers will be UNMARKED. It is recommended to complete the trilogy at least once before going the MinMaxing route.

[[folder: The Normandy And Her Crew]]

!! The Normandy
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : gather as much eezo, palladium, platinum and iridium as possible [[note]] the exact number required is unknown. [[/note]]
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : buy the Thanix Cannon upgrade
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : buy the Silaris Armor upgrade
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : buy the Cyclonic Barrier Technology upgrade
->'''125 to 215 Military Strength''' : Alliance Frigate Nomandy SR-2, Mineral Ressources

!! Virmire Survivor
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : the Virmire Survivor must not be killed during Priority: The Citadel II
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : do not recruit the Virmire Survivor on the Normandy
->'''25 Military Strength''' : Kaidan Alenko or Ashley Williams

!! Liara
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : encourage Liara to talk to Matriarch Aethyta before Priority: Tuchanka
->'''25 Military Strength''' : Asari 2nd Fleet upgraded

!! Dr. Chakwas
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Dr. Chakwas must survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : do not recruit Dr. Chakwas on the Normandy
->'''10 Military Strength''' : Dr. Karin Chakwas

!! Jacob
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Jacob must survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Arrae: Ex-Cerberus Scientists
->'''25 Military Strength''' : Jacob Taylor

!! Miranda
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Miranda must be loyal and survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : if you romanced her during ME2, do not break up with her
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : read the dossier on Kai Lang before meeting her for the second time
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : meet her for the third time and give her access to Alliance ressources
->'''25 Military Strength''' : Miranda Lawson

!! Jack
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Jack must survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Grissom Academy: Emergency Evacuation
->'''25 Military Strength''' : Jack

!! Samara
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Samara must survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : use the Paragon interrupt to stop her from killing herself during Kallini: Ardat-Yakshi Monastery
->'''25 Military Strength''' : Samara

!! Grunt
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Grunt must be loyal and survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Attican Traverse: Krogan Team
->'''25 Military Strength''' : Grunt

!! Zaeed
* see [=DLCs=] folder

!! Kasumi
* see [=DLCs=] folder

!! Ken and Gabby
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Ken and Gabby must survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : use the Spectre Terminal to grant them a pardon
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Citadel: [=GX12=] Thermal Pipe
->'''15 Military Strength''' : Optimized Eezo Capacitors

!! Kelly Chambers
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : invite Kelly to dinner
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Kelly must survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : locate Kelly on the docks, tell her to change her identity, and do not use the Renegade option when she reveals she spied on Shepard
->'''10 Military Strength''' : Ex-Cerberus Engineers

!! Steve Cortez
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : help Cortez achieve closure by talking to him on the Normandy, then on the Citadel.
->'''20 Military Strength''' : Rogue Fighter Pilots

!! Diana Allers
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : recruit Diana Allers on the Normandy
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : grant her all three interviews
->'''20 Military Strength''' : Diana Allers, Turian 7th Fleet or Krogan Clans upgraded, 103rd Marine Division or Alliance 5th Fleet upgraded, Geth Corps or Geth Fleet or Quarian Heavy Fleet upgraded

!! Military Strength Total : 465


[[folder: Mass Effect 3 Missions]]

!! Main Plot Missions : 1320
* Priority: Mars
** see also : "Arrival"
->'''450 Military Strength''' : Alliance Engineering Corps, 103rd Marine Division, Alliance 1st Fleet, Alliance 3rd Fleet, Alliance 5th Fleet

* Tuchanka: Bomb
->'''75 Military Strength''' : Turian Blackwatch

* Priority: Tuchanka
** see also : "Sabotage the Cure"
->'''290 Military Strength''' : Turian 43rd Marine Division, Turian 7th Fleet, Turian Engineering Corps

* Priority: The Citadel II
** see also : "Virmire Survivor", "Save the Council"
->'''415 Military Strength''' : Citadel Defense Force, Asari Science Team, Asari 2nd Fleet, Asari 6th Fleet, Turian 6th Fleet

* Priority: Horizon
->'''90 Military Strength''' : Alliance 6th Fleet

!! Side Missions : 965
* Meet with Aria TíLoak in Purgatory
** Aria: Blood Pack
** Aria: Blue Suns
** Aria: Eclipse
->'''200 Military Strength''' : Terminus Fleet

* Citadel: Batarian Codes
** convince Balak to help
** see also : "Bring Down The Sky"
->'''115 Military Strength''' : Batarian Fleet

* Grissom Academy: Emergency Evacuation
** save all the tech students
** assign the biotic students to the front lines
** see also : "Jack", "Overlord"
->'''100 Military Strength''' : Kahlee Sanders, Biotic Company

* N7: Cerberus Fighter Base
->'''75 Military Strength''' : Advanced Fighter Squadron

* N7: Fuel Reactor
->'''75 Military Strength''' : Advanced Starship Fuel

* Citadel: Volus Diplomacy
** chose the Volus Bombing Fleet
** see also : "Zaeed"
->'''65 Military Strength''' : Volus Bombing Fleet, Turian 6th Fleet damaged

* N7: Cerberus Abductions
->'''60 Military Strength''' : Arcturus First Division

* Arrae: Ex-Cerberus Scientists
** see also : "Jacob", "Overlord"
->'''50 Military Strength''' : Ex-Cerberus Scientists, Dr. Brynn Cole

* N7: Cerberus Attack
->'''50 Military Strength''' : Krogan 1st Division

* N7: Communication Hub
->'''50 Military Strength''' : Communication Array

* N7: Cerberus Lab
->'''50 Military Strength''' : Cerberus Research Data

* Citadel: Hanar Diplomat
** chose to stop the upload
** see also : "Kasumi"
->'''50 Military Strength''' : Hanar and Drell forces

* Kallini: Ardat-Yakshi Monastery
** see also : "Samara"
->'''20 Military Strength''' : Asari Commando

* Citadel: Medi-Gel Sabotage
** see also : "Conrad Verner"
->'''5 Military Strength''' : Turian 7th Fleet upgraded

!! Military Strength Total : 2285


[[folder: Trilogy-Spanning Choices]]
!! Peace on Rannoch
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : complete Taliís and Legionís loyalty mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Tali and Legion must survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : complete at least 2 of these :
** during Taliís loyalty mission, take the Charm or Intimidate option, or rally the crowd
** during Legionís loyalty mission, destroy the geth heretics
** resolve the confrontation between Tali and Legion by a compromise [[note]] siding with one and regaining the otherís loyalty later does not count. [[/note]]
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Rannoch: Geth Fighter Squadron
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Rannoch: Admiral Koris and save the Admiral instead of his crew
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : broker a peace between the geth and the quarians at the end of Priority: Rannoch [[note]] you need 4 full bars of reputation to pass the Charm or Intimidate check. [[/note]]
->'''1310 Military Strength''' : Admiral DaroíXen, Admiral ZaalíKoris, Quarian Civilian Fleet, Quarian Heavy Fleet, Quarian Patrol Fleet, Geth Corps, Geth Fleet, Geth Prime Platoon

!!! Second-best choice : support the geth
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : complete Legionís loyalty mission and rewrite the geth heretics
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Rannoch: Geth Fighter Squadron
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : side with the geth at the end of Priority: Rannoch
->810 Military Strength : Geth Corps, Geth Fleet, Geth Prime Platoon

!!! Third-best choice : support the quarians
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : complete Legionís loyalty mission and destroy the geth heretics
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Rannoch: Geth Fighter Squadron
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Rannoch: Admiral Koris and save the Admiral instead of his crew
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : side with the quarians at the end of Priority: Rannoch
->800 Military Strength : Admiral DaroíXen, Admiral ZaalíKoris, Quarian Civilian Fleet, Quarian Heavy Fleet, Quarian Patrol Fleet

!! Sabotage the Cure

* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : kill Wrex on Virmire
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : complete Mordinís loyalty mission and preserve Maelonís data
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Tuchanka: Bomb
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : kill Mordin so the genophage isnít cured
->'''775 Military Strength''' : Urdnot Wreav, Clan Urdnot, Krogan Clans, Salarian 1st Fleet

!!! Second-best choice : Mordin lives
* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : kill Wrex on Virmire
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : complete Mordinís loyalty mission and destroy Maelonís data
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Tuchanka: Bomb
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : convince Mordin not to cure the genophage [[note]] This only possible if Eve is dead, which weakens the Krogan Clans. [[/note]]
->750 Military Strength : Urdnot Wreav, Clan Urdnot, Krogan Clans, Salarian 1st Fleet, Mordin Solus

!!! Third-best choice : cure the Genophage
* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : let Wrex live on Virmire
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : complete Mordinís loyalty mission and preserve Maelonís data
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Tuchanka: Bomb
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : let Mordin cure the genophage
->705 Military Strength : Urdnot Wrex, Clan Urdnot, Krogan Clans, Krogan Mercenaries

!! Save the Rachni Queen

* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : let the Rachni Queen go
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Grunt must be loyal and survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : let the Rachni Queen escape
->'''150 Military Strength''' : Rachni Workers, Aralakh Company

!!! Second-best choice : save Aralakh Company
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Grunt must be loyal and survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : leave the Rachni Queen (or the Breeder) to die
->75 Military Strength : Aralakh Company

!! Save the Council

* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : save the Destiny Ascension
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Thane must survive the suicide mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : speak with Thane at the hospital before Priority: The Citadel II
->'''120 Military Strength''' : Destiny Ascension, Alliance 1st, 3rd and 5th Fleets damaged, Salarian 3rd Fleet

!! Salvage the Collector Base

* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : leave the Collector Base for Cerberus to study.
->'''110 Military Strength''' : Reaper Brain

!! Captain Kirraheís Fate

* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : let Cpt. Kirrahe die on Virmire
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : talk to Lt. Tolan during Priority: SuríKesh
->'''35 Military Strength''' : Salarian STG

!! Zhuís Hope

* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : Do not kill any colonist on Zhuís Hope
* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : Spare Shiala
->'''30 Military Strength''' : Zhuís Hope Colonists

!! Khalisah al-Jilani
* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]], [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]], [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : do not punch her
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : use the Paragon interrupt during the interview
->'''10 Military Strength''' : Khalisah Bint Sinan al-Jilani

!! Conrad Verner
* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : give Conrad an autograph and a photo
* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : [[NoodleImplements complete Feros: Data Recovery]]
* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : [[NoodleImplements complete UNC: Asari Writings]]
* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : [[NoodleImplements buy the Elkoss Combine Armory License]]
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : complete Conradís Mission on Illium
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : talk to Conrad during Citadel: Medi-Gel Sabotage
->'''5 Military Strength''' : [[JokeItem Dark Energy Dissertation]]

!! Military Strength Total : 2545


[[folder: Search And Rescue]]
* Exodus Cluster
-->'''225 Military Strength''' : Alliance Naval Exploration Flotilla, Prothean Data Files, Alliance Cruiser Shanghai, Spec Ops Team Delta
* Silean Nebula
-->'''205 Military Strength''' : Elcor Flotilla, Code of the Ancients, Rings of Alune, Armali Sniper Unit, Serrice Guard, Dr. Jelize
* Aethon Cluster
-->'''185 Military Strength''' : Volus Dreadnought Kwunu, Volus Engineering Team, Volus Fabrication Units, Book of Plenix
* Argos Rho
-->'''180 Military Strength''' : Advanced Power Relays, Haptic Optic Arrays, Turian Spec Ops Team, Kakliosaur Fossil
* Athena Nebula
-->'''165 Military Strength''' : Hesperia-Period Statue, Asari Research Ships, Asari Cruiser Nefrane, Asari Cruiser Cybaen, Asari Engineers
* Hourglass Nebula
-->'''120 Military Strength''' : Shadow Broker Starship Tech, Shadow Broker Support Team, Terminus Freighters
* Valhallan Threhold
-->'''120 Military Strength''' : Element Zero Converter, Prothean Data Drives, Emergency Fuel Pods
* Hades Nexus
-->'''110 Military Strength''' : Obelisk of Karza, Prothean Sphere, SSV Leipzig, SSV Hong Kong
* Attican Beta
-->'''85 Military Strength''' : Interferometric Array, [=ExoGeni=] Scientists
* Apien Crest
-->'''80 Military Strength''' : Turian 79th Flotilla, Banner of the First Regiment
* Sigurdís Cradle
-->'''50 Military Strength''' : Javelin Missile Launchers
* Kiteís Nest
-->'''40 Military Strength''' : Pillars of Strength
* Nimbus Cluster
-->'''40 Military Strength''' : Library of Asha
* Nubian Expanse
-->'''40 Military Strength''' : Alliance Marine Reconnaissance Unit, SSV Trafalgar
* Hades Gamma
-->'''35 Military Strength''' : Spec Ops Team Zeta, SSV Agincourt
* Gemini Sigma
-->'''25 Military Strength''' : SSV Nairobi
* Krogan DMZ
-->'''25 Military Strength''' : Shadow Broker Wet Squad

!! Military Strength Total : 1730


[[folder: Miscellaneous]]
!! Citadel Deliveries
Note : items missed during missions can be purchased at the Spectre Terminal.
* Alien Medi-Gel Formula
** found during N7: Cerberus Lab
** delivered at Huerta Memorial Hospital
* Biotic Amp Interfaces
** found during Grissom Academy: Emergency Evacuation
** delivered at Huerta Memorial Hospital
* Cerberus Automated Turrets Schematics
** found during Tuchanka: Bomb
** delivered at Presidium Commons
* Cerberus Ciphers
** found during N7: Communication Hub
** delivered at the Citadel Embassies
* Cerberus Turian Poison
** found during Arrae: Ex-Cerberus Scientists
** delivered at Huerta Memorial Hospital
* Chemical Treatment
** found during N7: Fuel Reactor
** delivered at Huerta Memorial Hospital
* Heating Unit Stabilizers
** found during N7: Cerberus Fighter Base
** delivered at Presidium Commons
* Improved Power Grid
** found during N7: Cerberus Attack
** delivered at Purgatory
* Reaper Code Fragments
** found during Rannoch: Geth Fighter Squadrons
** delivered at Citadel Embassies
* Target Jamming Technology
** found during Rannoch: Admiral Koris
** delivered at Presidium Commons
->'''80 Military Strength''' : Citadel Defense Force, Hanar and Drell Forces, Alliance 1st Fleet, Alliance 5th Fleet, Asari 2nd Fleet, Salarian 3rd Fleet, Turian 6th Fleet, all upgraded

!! Overheard Conversations
* On the Normandy
** support Admiral Xen over Tali
** support Admiral Gerrel over Admiral Raan
->'''70 Military Strength''' : Advanced AI Relays, Quarian Heavy Fleet upgraded

* On the Citadel
** support Dock Officer over Refugee
** support Reluctant Civilian over Gung-Ho Civilian
** support Worried Merchant over Angry Merchant (then authorize Militia at the Spectre Terminal)
** support Cafe Owner over Frustrated C-Sec Officer
** talk to the Bank Teller
** warn two businessmen
->'''27 Military Strength''' : Citadel Defense Force upgraded, Alliance 5th Fleet upgraded

!! Spectre Terminal
* Partner Benefits Increase
* Civilian Deportation Order
* Medical Supplies
* Surveillance Authorization
* Militia (after supporting Worried Merchant)
* Citadel Entry (after Grissom Academy)
* Civilian Consultant Authorization
->'''48 Military Strength''' : Citadel Defense Force upgraded, Alliance 5th Fleet upgraded

!! Military Strength Total : 225


[[folder: Downloadable Content and Tie-Ins]]
!! Bring Down the Sky
* [[Videogame/MassEffect1 ME1]] : let Balak go or leave him for dead. Not playing the DLC has the same effect.
->Military Strength unaffected. Batarian Fleet damaged is Balak dies.

!! Zaeed : The Price of Revenge
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Zaeed must be loyal and survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Citadel: Volus Ambassador and take the ThirdOption
->'''35 Military Strength''' : Zaeed Massani, Turian 6th Fleet damage cancelled

!! Kasumi : Stolen Memories
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : Kasumi must be loyal and survive the Suicide Mission
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Citadel: Hanar Diplomat and take the ThirdOption
->'''65 Military Strength''' : Kasumi Goto, Spectre Unit

!! Overlord
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : take David Archer to Grissom Academy
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Grissom Academy and Ex-Cerberus Scientists
->'''30 Military Strength''' : Kahlee Sanders upgraded, Dr. Gavin Archer

!! Arrival
* [[Videogame/MassEffect2 ME2]] : complete the DLC, otherwise the 103rd Marine Division is damaged
->'''50 Military Strength''' : 103rd Marine Division damage cancelled

!! From Ashes
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete Priority: Eden Prime
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : retrieve all three pieces of intel during Eden Prime: Resistance Movement
->'''100 Military Strength''' : Eden Prime Support

!! Leviathan
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete the DLC's main missions
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : do not take both Renegade interrupts when allowing Ann Bryson to be enthralled
->'''420 Military Strength''' : Dr. Ann Bryson, Leviathan Enthrallment Team

!!! Search & Rescue :
* The Shrike Abyssal
-->'''45 Military Strength''' : Void Devils Fighter Wing, Vorcha Labor Team
* Sigurdís Cradle
-->'''40 Military Strength''' : Husk Neural Map, Dextro Rations
* Crescent Nebula
-->'''40 Military Strength''' : Liquid Assets
* Pylos Nebula
-->'''30 Military Strength''' : Jovian Dissertation, Radiation Shielding Sheath
* Caleston Rift
-->'''25 Military Strength''' : Synthdiamond Heat Sinks
* Kiteís Nest
-->'''20 Military Strength''' : Governor Grothan Pazness
->'''Total : 200 Military Strength'''

!! Omega
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete the DLC's main missions
->'''405 Military Strength''' : Omega Eezo Hoard, Omega Raiding Fleet, Alliance 1st Fleet upgraded or General Oleg Petrovsky

!! Citadel
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : complete the DLC's main missions
* [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] : throw a party at your appartment
->'''70 Military Strength''' : Normandy SR-2 upgraded

!! Mass Effect: Infiltrator
* complete the game
* reach "Veteran" rank on every checkpoint in the main campaign
* reach "Veteran" rank on every checkpoint in the bonus mission "Incarceration"
->'''120 Military Strength''' : Cerberus Escapees

!! [[Videogame/MassEffect3 ME3]] Multiplayer
* promote a multiplayer class
->75 War Asset for each promoted class : N7 Spec Ops Team

!! Military Strength Total : 1495


! Final Military Strength Total : 8745 (7250 without [=DLC=])

For more informations, refer to [[http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Mass_Effect_Wiki the wiki]].
* [[http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/War_Assets War Assets]]
* [[http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Mass_Effect_3_Guide Mass Effect 3 missions]]
* [[http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Priority:_Earth#Aftermath Military Strength requirements for each ending]]

! A deeper meaning behind the optimal War assets playthrough

The above [[GuideDangIt guide]] tells us what to do to maximize war assets but it doesn't provide the deeper philosophical context to why they are the best choices. Let's try to get at that

[[folder: Tuchanka Arc]]

Optimal decision: [[spoiler: Sabotage the genophage cure but keep Eve alive by saving Maelon's data]]

This path is presented as the best choice to make vis a vis the Krogan and salarians because of the way that Krogan society currently is. The Krogan are beset by infighting with warfare being seen as the only way their species can advance. If it hadn't been for salarian upliftment, the Krogan would most likely have committed autogenocide taking other Tuchanka species with them. They then proved that they are immutable to major societal changes by maintaining that same aggressive warlike outlook even after upliftment and having been given a few other planets to colonize. They proved that again after the genophage by continuing their old habits of internecine warfare even with a depopulation threat hanging over their heads. And now curing the genophage would have been another major societal change for them. Wrex for all his good intentions didn't grasp that a cure would most likely do very little to change Krogan culture, which is why his leadership of the Krogan doesn't reassure many salarians. Eve on the other hand is actually in a position to influence the Krogan much more than any male Krogan can, but that influence is dulled if the genophage is cured. Why? Because with the cure, she'll be seen as just another female clan shaman who did a great thing for the Krogan. If someone doesn't like her ideas about "finding a balance again" there are plenty more Krogan females who can spurt out thousands of young for them. But with a sabotaged cure, her immunity and fertility make her that much more powerful, as now the males have to abide by her wishes if they want to breed with her. She can even if it came to that, let the old deadwood die out, then gradually repopulate the Krogan race in her image. And this would be a gradual change instead of a sudden change. That is why sabotaging the cure but ensuring her survival is the best choice.

[[folder: Rannoch Arc]]

Optimal decision: Quarian Geth peace
This one seems obvious right? After all you get two militaries instead of one and avoid having to commit genocide. And the fact that you pulled it off flies in the face of the Catalyst barking that it could never ever be done, just adds to the CrowningMomentOfAwesome doesn't it? The only issue is that to get it you have to make some seemingly strange choices. Let's examine those in closer detail.

1) Tali and Legion must be present. Why won't it work unless both of them are present? Because they were the only quarian and Geth who have ever cooperated on any mutual problem in a long time. Their friendship or at the very least collaboration is needed to convince both sides that it is possible to collaborate. With Tali dead, no other quarian is inclined towards cooperation and with Legion dead, the Geth don't have its perspective on peaceful contact with organics.

2) Tali must not have been exiled. If she was, this erodes trust on both sides. On the Quarians side she is seen as someone who if not betraying the fleet, exercised poor judgement that jeopardized the fleet. And now she's advocating peace with their longtime nemesis! Why should they even listen to her? On the Geth side, only as an admiral do they see her talk of peace actually getting anywhere. Furthermore, it is possible they now know the reason for her exile.

3) Shepard had to go into the Geth server and disinfect the Reaper code. Aside from the obvious tactical benefit of disrupting Reaper command and control, this mission builds trust with the Geth. Look closer, and this mission is much more about reconnecting the Geth with archived memories of either peaceful times with Quarians, or of Quarians fighting and dying on their behalf. Why were the Reapers attempting to cut the Geth off from these memories? Because they firmly believe that organic synthetic cooperation is never ever possible. Unless this belief is dispelled for the Geth, peace cannot happen.

4) The heretics were destroyed. While not essential for peace, this greatly aids the cause. It is also a counterintuitive decision, as you would think that sparing Geth would build trust. The reason why killing them builds that trust instead, is because for the Geth it is all about perspectives. The heretics chose to follow the Reapers based on their perspective, and when they were rewritten, those perspectives were not erased. Said perspectives were still able to persuade Geth that peace is not possible. Either that perspective had to be completely erased, or failing that, a lot more counter arguments with data were needed to refute that perspective. One big counter argument was

5) Brokering actual cooperation between Tali and Legion during their loyalty fight. An actual truce is one where both of them are convinced to help each other. The Renegade resolution has you pull a DI gambit where they cooperate or face your wrath. The Paragon resolution however is more poignant as it convinces each of them to want to cooperate. If this is not done, you have to convince the slighted one to play along to keep the other one invested. This kind of manipulation doesn't help any when trying to broker peace.

Now, a deeper reason why this peace is an optimal choice. Although more war assets are always better, the timing of this arc is significant in influencing the available endings. Before you begin this arc, unless you have played a lot if multiplayer, your maximum EMS is somewhere in the 2000 to 2400 range. Saving only one side brings your EMS to around 2800, while saving both brings it past 3100. What is the significance here? Synthesis requires 2800 while Destroy with Shepard surviving requires 3100. At 2800, everybody achieves synthesis on the Reapers' terms, while the Destroy with Shepard surviving allows for a more gradual form of synthesis to occur on our terms. Shepard's survival ensures that the Geth and their sacrifice will not be whitewashed away and be able to advise galactic society that some solution must be found to head off organic synthetic conflict.

[[folder: Council]]

Optimal solution: Save the council and do not allow Kai Leng to off the salarian councillor. Upon looking at the assets you get, the same fleets are given to you by the turian and asari councillors no matter who they are. You get the Destiny Ascension for saving the council, but that doesn't numerically make up for the Alliance cruisers and Mikhailovitch's scout flotilla that were sacrificed to save it. However, the fleet given to you by a surviving Valern more than makes up for that deficit. Alternatively, the task force that the female councillor gives you is only just above half the strength of Valern's fleet. So in the end it wasn't about saving the entire council, it was about saving the salarian councillor.

Why does saving the salarian councillor matter so much? Because if you read the codex on the council races, they reveal that the salarians are constantly thinking, analyzing, inventing and are therefore more adaptable than the conservative turians and asari. Reading up on human diplomatic relations reveals that the humans and salarians are starting to form a bloc to act as a bulwark against the conservatism of the turians and asari. When talking to Mordin, he reveals that he knows about the Reapers. Even in the first game, Kirrahe's STG team is the only backup the council sends. Maelon also seems to know all about Reaper indoctrination. In the first game Valern seems to be the only councillor who shows an initial interest in what these Reapers are. Conclusion drawn - the salarians knew all along about the threat the Reapers posed and in those two years were preparing for it. The dreadnought fleet that Linron gives you for sabotaging the genophage cure is the strongest individual fleet after the Quarians and Geth fleets. So why does saving Valern matter? Because Valern created an actual military asset to counter the Reapers while Ishil had to set up that task force to play catch up. You don't get stronger assets from the surviving turian and asari councillors because they ostriched up and didn't take the Reaper threat seriously.

All in all, the Council based War Assets scenario allows us the player to examine the pitfalls of retaining or replacing leaders who initially failed a challenge that was previously unknown, unique and difficult. Retaining them gives you the possibility that these leaders might learn from their mistake and adapt. But it also brings about the possibility that because the challenge has passed, they might revert to HeadInTheSandManagement. It all depends on how comfortable a leader is with risk and change. On the flip side, replacing leaders who fail might seem like the right thing to do, but it brings about the caveat that their replacement may be equally as clueless about the problem as their predecessors were. And those predecessors have something that these new people don't have - past experiences of approaches that didn't work before. The new people could unintentionally make the same mistakes their predecessors did.


[[folder: Search and Rescue]]

The where and what of the whole system scanning and retrieval of assets can be read about above. However one crucial aspect not discussed is why. Why are certain assets neccesary? Why some races require you to obtain special artifacts while others don't? Why are certain assets in the location you found them in. That will be examined as follows.

The turians only require three assets to be scanned and located - the scout flotilla, an ancient regimental banner and [[CallBack that spiteful]] [[VideoGame/MassEffect little]] [[DownloadableContent runt]]. These aren't just random fetch quests - they are indicative of how the turians are faring against the Reapers. They have no units or ships stranded in some remote planet because their forces are still holding against the Reaper onslaught. A scouting unit is cut off behind enemy lines, just like scouting units have been since the dawn of warfare. And Pinnacle Station is a very remote outpost jointly run by turians and humans. However, the fact that an ancient regimental banner buffs their dreadnought fleet by almost 50% indicates that while their line is holding, it cannot hold for long. This onslaught is slowly eroding the fight out of them because for the first time in probably ever, they are facing defeat.

Volus assets consist of one dreadnought with everything else being put towards funding or building the Crucible. This is indicative of their hat as the ProudMerchantRace. Also indicative of that hat - the fact that an ancient book has to explicitly instruct them to take off that hat in order to aid the war effort. This will probably be a seminal transformative moment for them.

The asari need assets rescued from three systems, and those assets are a mixture of civilian and military items. Unlike the turians and humans, they don't have an Engineering Corps, they only send a science team. Their engineers are a. random gaggle that needs rescuing.. More telling is the fact that one of their ships you rescue is found in their home system! And their dreadnought fleet essentially needed to reacquire their equivalent of Sun Tzu's The Art of War for its value to get anywhere close to the strength of a dreadnought fleet. Even their ground forces are scattered with two units you'd expect to find on Thessia, being stranded in a completely different star cluster. This is indicative of just how decentralized the asari are, and how that decentralization is affecting them.

The species that benefits the most from search and rescue - humans. You find a total of six ships and three infantry/spec ops units and the human engineering corps more than doubles in strength by finding Prothean artifacts. But tellingly, you don't have to find some ancient artifact to rally humans to fight, like you need to for the turians, Volus, Elcor and asari. Humans are willing to fight. However, their entire military doctrine is for them to act like cavalry, rapidly rushing in to the rescue. That cavalry has been routed by an enemy with superior firepower and numbers, but not actually annihilated because that cavalry never tried to regroup quickly and try to HoldTheLine. And this routed cavalry needs someone to rally and shepherd them back together into formation for the counteroffensive. Your role is to be that [[MeaningfulName Shepard]]

! Why Dark Energy would not have worked as an Ending

The original idea for the Reapers' motivation to harvest all life in this galaxy was supposedly to curtail the excessive use of mass effect fields for {{FTL}} before it causes space time in that region to rip apart or something. While dark energy ripping apart space and time is of great concern to actual physicists in Main/RealLife, using it this way would have been CriticalResearchFailure taken UpToEleven. Let's see why.

Dark energy is actually a catch all term for something that is causing everything in the universe to recede from us at an increasing rate. The theory is that everything recedes due to the Big Bang, but due to gravity that recession should be slowing down. Instead it is increasing. Without knowing what force is causing this, Dark Energy is a placeholder used until the phenomenon can be explained better. So when [[InternalAffairs Parasini]] claims to be "looking into it", she is only doing what many astrophysicists are doing now.

The hypothesis is that this dark energy expansion if allowed to continue will rip space and time apart, but in reality, that rip if it happens will happen 50 billion years from now if the universe is a closed universe, and it will happen everywhere in the universe. The manner in which it will happen is also of scales much bigger than a single Galaxy. First galactic clusters will be thrown asunder then galaxies themselves will cease to hold on to their stars. Before any of these were to happen, all other galaxies will recede so far away that we may never even know they exist. Then star clusters like the Veil, Hourglass, Horsehead etc will be thrown asunder. Stars suffering rapid aging like on Haestrom would have been the penultimate stage. They would all shed mass in supergiant like behavior as opposed to supernovae which occur due to gravitational collapse.

After all stars have come unbound by gravity things go FromBadToWorse. All molecular structures such as planets, satellites, asteroids, rings, even smaller structures get ripped apart, then scatter into individual molecules. No life form can survive this. Then individual molecules get ripped apart into atoms, then atoms explode into sub atomic particles, which then further explode into fundamental quantum particles. Then these individual particles recede and finally space and time shatters into quintillions of pockets.

But, don't worry! Scientific consensus is that this is NOT going to happen as the closed universe theory isn't widely accepted, and that it is actually entropy which slowly grinds the universe to a heat death from total lack of usable energy. A Big Rip of the space time continuum might take more than a few googol years to occur. So in actuality, we have nothing to worry about from Dark Energy. A [[TheSingularity technological singularity]] on the other hand is a real and scary possibility.

For argument's sake let's consider that the Big Rip will happen fifty billion years from now and that the Reapers are attempting to ward it off. Is what they are doing an effective way to do so? No!! Because this Big Rip will span billions of galaxies when it hits. Will slowing down eezo use in one Galaxy make any difference? Not if billions of other galaxies are going to be affected anyway. By doing this it is the Reapers who are [[IronicEcho dust struggling against the cosmic wind.]]