Within the Etrian series as a whole, the Imperial class has the be by far the most fun to use. It revolves around dealing monstrously huge chunks of damage through Drive skills, sitting in a tense, defence lowered state and then firing up and doing it all over again. This being the general rotation, with a few foibles in between, there are two possible directions that your Subclass choice can take; Buff up those huge chunks, or bolster your defences for the down time. Both are perfectly viable of course, and a lot of party building will go into making the choice for you, but with these options in mind we have chosen three that we think best compliment the Imperial’s super heated kit. Oh, and in a bit of a happy accident we seem to have sorted them in a defensive-to-offensive order!
Our first choice is rather obvious. When the Imperial’s kit leaves it clinging to life between Drive skills, what better way to protect it than through the immensely defensive kit of the Protector? It’s certainly not a class that will win any points for style, but it’s skill kit does the job of buffing defenses better than any other on offer. If you’re looking for something a little more balanced, or indeed offensive in nature, then you may want to skip a little way down the page, but if you want to keep your massive physical damage dealer in the best of health at all times, then read on.
Front Guard, which reduces physical damage taken by the front line for one turn, will be an obvious benefit for the Imperial, and we’d recommend Ally Shield not for it’s active skill, but for accessing the excellent Fortify skill, which buffs the Imperial’s physical and elemental defence for 3 turns. Healing Wall can operate similarly, allowing you to heal an entire line by simply defending, however when given the choice between this and Fortify we tend to go for the latter, since you’ll likely still be using skill combinations between huge Drive hits. All of these skills, as useful as they are, become eclipsed by one thing in the late game: Elemental Wall skills. These skills protect the entire party from a selected elemental skill, completely nullifying them and allowing your party to take a breather, assuming you can predict the incoming attack. Finally, the Protector class has access to some fantastic passives for the Imperial, including Phys DEF Up, Elem DEF Up, HP Up and even the life saving Aegis.
- Excellent defensive skills, such as Front Guard, can keep the Imperial healthy during cooldown periods.
- The Fortify skill is a fantastic 3 round buff to both physical and elemental defence.
- Protector has wonderful passives, such as HP Up, Phys DEF Up and Elem DEF Up.
- Aegis is a skill which may allow you to survive a mortal blow with 1HP remaining. Relying on RNG may sound like a poor choice, however it progresses from the Fortify skill, and a bonus point here or there might make all the difference in a difficult boss battle.
Yes, that most unbalanced of classes has returned to bless yet another with it’s unique blend of powerful skills and well, even more powerful skills. Yet, were it possible for it to feel even more broken, it’s Sword skills can be used by the Imperial since the Drive blade is classified as a Sword, which essentially means that the entirety of the Hero skill kit is available for use. If opining about it’s benefits weren’t enough, here or indeed in our previous articles, then you should know that it’s considered one of the most powerful classes ever designed in an Etrian game, to the point where it’s often able to eclipse more specialised classes in their given roles. In fact, our first choice of Protector is often eschewed in favour of the Hero, because it achieves almost as much defensively whilst having access to some powerful offensive skills. But wait, we already have offensive skills coming out of our Imperial eyeballs, so what use is it here?
Contrary to popular opinion, in which Hero Subclass options are dominated by Afterimage builds, by far our favourite benefit of the Hero is the Encouragement skill, which heals the entire party when an attack skill is used. You don’t need us to tell you that the Imperial will be doing this continuously and as such healing frequently, but it’s worth noting that the healing done is influenced by Max HP rather than the Wisdom stat, and the Imperial is quite well endowed with the former. Paired with this is Heroic Bonds, which is a flat buff to ATK whenever the party is high on health, though we’d warn you against picking up Heroic Steel, after all nobody wants their Imperial drawing more attention to themselves. Outside of this, Clear Mind is a great way to self-cleanse ailments and binds whilst restoring some TP, something the Imperial uses in spades, and Physical/Elemental Shield can keep your defenses high during a cooldown period.
- Encourage is an excellent skill, healing the entire party whenever an attack skill is used. The healing done is based on Max HP rather than Wisdom.
- Heroic Bonds will increase the Imperial’s physical damage when the party is high on HP, which Encourage will help in keeping active.
- Physical and Elemental Shield are excellent ways to stay defensive during cool down periods.
- Clear Mind is a useful self cleanse, which also restores TP.
- This combination diversifies the Imperial’s kit, allowing it to contribute to the party whilst continuing to deal large chunks of damage.
- You can dabble with Afterimage. The damage possibilities are huge with Drive attacks, however in our experience it’s not reliable enough to plan around.
For our money, there’s nothing quite like the satisfying nature of the Imperial’s offensive kit. That being said, we do understand that there are some other offensive options out there that players really enjoy; the Gunner for example, has some great synergy, and the Ninja can tie in well too. When it comes to our Imperial however, what we prefer is to just make it’s current kit as effective as possible, and for this we always end up falling back on the Highlander. The passive benefits available here synergise tremendously well with the fact that an Imperial should never really stop using attacking skills. There are of course ways to slot in defensive skills, but with the right party set up it’s entirely possible to maximise your Drive and Edge skills, for which we’ve found that this combination excels.
It’s worth noting that the Imperial cannot wield a Spear, not without losing access to their epic Drive skills at least, so what we’re looking for here are skills that benefit the main kit without requiring an equipment change. Turning Tide is a good start, since it restores health to the entire party when you slay an opponent, though you’re unlikely to use your Drive skills on smaller enemies so it may not be as powerful as others. Bloody Veil is an excellent skill that increases all of your defences whenever damage is taken, something that is bound to happen regardless of how well you prepare, and the HP Up skill will also help to soften the blow. Delving into the Veteran tree will find the excellent Bloody Offense skill, which increases ATK for the entire row for three turns, but it comes with a hefty price of using HP for each action. Finally the Phys DEF Up and Phys ATK Up passives are an excellent addition for the Imperial, and Black Sabbath can even be used in a pinch to restore some HP to the party.
- Bloody Veil will increase all DEF whenever the Imperial takes damage, meaning you’ll take less damage for the rest of the round.
- Bloody Offense can buff your damage considerably, but comes at the cost of using HP for every action in the next 3 rounds.
- As per the main class, Bloodlust is a nice way to get free attacks when taking damage, but Bloody Offense can make this risky.
- Fantastic passive skills in Phys DEF Up, Phys ATK Up and HP Up. Turning Tide can also restore HP to the entire team whenever the Imperial slays an enemy, though it’s limited in use on a class that primarily takes down bosses and FOE.
- Black Sabbath can be used to do damage and heal the entire party. This doesn’t require a Spear to be used, though it’s damage is somewhat limited due to it’s ‘untyped’ nature.
Categories: Etrian Odyssey Nexus