The Let's Play Archive

Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight

by Ragnar Homsar, Dr. Fetus

Part 145: Dark Hunter

Dark Hunters, like most of the class roster, were introduced in EO1 (and I should really find a different way to introduce these things than that). They were kinda finnicky in terms of usefulness there due to how EO1's disables worked. Firstly, monsters only had two non-damage resistances: ailment resistance, and bind resistance (stuns did not count as ailments, effectively meaning every enemy had 100% stun resistance). Disable chances also were not influenced by any stat at all--the formula was literally just SkillBaseChance * TargetResistance. Since most bosses had 5% resistance to ailments and 25% to binds, this meant inflicting disables was irritating at best, even though all disable durations were hard-coded to be 5 turns. Moving back to Dark Hunters, they were basically a support class that could deal some minor damage. They did have Ecstasy for a big damage skill, but, uh, good luck setting that up.

Given that Dark Hunters were slightly underpowered in EO1, Atlus saw fit to overbuff them in EO2 and make them ridiculously goddamn good. This is mainly through the Dark Hunter Force skill, Dominate--which was a guaranteed complete bind on one enemy. Dominate completely ignored resistances and even immunities, meaning NOTHING in the game could stop it (well, there was one enemy that would punish you quite heavily for using Dominate, but that's another story for another time). In addition to that, they also had Climax, which was almost-guaranteed instant death to an enemy under a given HP threshold--55% at level 10. While this didn't work on (most) bosses due to their immunity to instant death, FOEs, crucially, did not have instant death immunity, effectively meaning that a level 10 Climax meant any FOE had 45% of its actual HP.

After a complete absence from EO3 with no parallels, Dark Hunters kinda sorta a little bit showed up again in EO4, as Nightseekers. I include all of those ambiguous adjectives because while Dark Hunters and Nightseekers are both about disabling enemies while dealing damage, Nightseekers focus solely on status ailments, and get BIG damage boosts from enemies that have ailments with their class skill (200% damage at the Novice level and 280% at the Master level).

Moving onto EOU, Dark Hunters returned, nerfed in some aspects but buffed in others. Dominate was just completely gone (because EOU pretty obviously doesn't have Force skills), and Climax was changed to be a very big nuke instead of instant death, with certain enemies being able to ignore Climax entirely. Ecstasy, however, got buffed--hoo boy did it get buffed. In EO1 and 2, Ecstasy did massive damage to fully bound targets, but pitiful damage otherwise. EOU changed this so that Ecstasy's damage scales based on the number of binds the target has, meaning it's a very good ability even if the target isn't fully bound.

As for EO2U, Dark Hunters mostly retained a lot of their changes from EOU, but the addition of passives like Curb ATK Up and Perseverance make them better at inflicting disables on their own. Ecstasy, for some reason, also got buffed pretty heavily, and became one of the best damage skills in the game. Most importantly, however, Dark Hunters gained Trance as their Force Boost--quite possibly the best non-Transform Force Boost in the entire game, as it doubles all damage dealt from a Dark Hunter to a target with binds and ailments.

Dark Hunters are basically one of the better classes in EO2U, even if their usefulness (and damage) scale directly with how resistant a given enemy is to binds and disables. For optimum results, it's best to pair a Dark Hunter with a Hexer, but it's perfectly fine to run a party that just has a Dark Hunter on their own.

Level 1
HP: 33
TP: 22
STR: 9
TEC: 4
VIT: 7
AGI: 9
LUC: 8

Level 50
HP: 224
TP: 208
STR: 35
TEC: 17
VIT: 27
AGI: 33
LUC: 33

Level 99
HP: 511
TP: 396
STR: 66
TEC: 32
VIT: 50
AGI: 62
LUC: 62

Innate weapon choices: Whip, Sword

Innate armor choices: Light armor, Clothes

Dark Hunters have above-average STR, AGI, and LUC, but sub-par VIT and abysmal TEC--the worst TEC stat out of any of the classes, in fact. While none of their innate skills use TEC at all, what this means it that Dark Hunters take a lot of damage from elemental sources, exacerbated by their sub-par VIT. Their STR being high (just 4 shy of the highest lv99 STR value, 70) is pretty obvioulsy important, since all of their skills use STR for damage. Their high AGI means that they're, in general, faster than most classes and enemies--which is pretty crucial if you're trying to get disables off before an enemy can act. For whip skills, this goes even further, since whips give a bonus to action speed and the whip skills have above-average speed modifiers. Lastly, their LUC means that Dark Hunters are okay at inflicting disables on their own. You'd ideally want a Hexer to support them since they can inflict skills more reliably, and have the benefit of Curse Mastery, but if you insist on running a Dark Hunter alone, it won't be that awful.

Whip/Sword Mastery
Type: Passive
Requirements: None

Required to learn whip/sword skills. Passively increases damage dealt with whip/swords.

Type: Attack skill, attempts to bind
Requirements: Whip Mastery level 1
Max level (innate): 10
Required equipment: Whip
Body parts used: Arms
Stats used: STR, LUC

Deals STR-based melee Cut damage to one enemy. Attempts to bind the target's head/arms/legs. Has a 90% speed modifier and +10 accuracy at all levels.

The most basic of the whip skills. Even at level 20, these things do not deal a lot of damage. You'll need each of these to 7 for Ecstasy, so there's not a lot of choice there. Whether or not you max one or more of them out, however, is up to you. I'd say maxing them out would be worth considering if you don't have a Hexer or if you're paranoid about RNG, but otherwise, I'd save your skill points. If you do put more than 7 points into these things, I'd say ignore Shackles--there's extremely few dangerous skills that use the legs. Elemental attacks and ailments tend to use the head, while physical attacks tend to use the arms.

Type: Attack skill
Requirements: Gag, Cuffs, and Shackles level 7
Max level (innate): 10
Required equipment: Whip
Body parts used: Arms
Stats used: STR

Deals STR-based melee Cut damage to one enemy. Damage is multiplied based on the number of binds the target has--game data and rough testing suggests it is 2.1x for one bind, 3.1x for two binds, 5.1x for three binds, but I can't be certain. Has a 90% speed modifier at all levels.

The best Dark Hunter skill, absolutely no question. The damage to enemies with 2 binds is already pretty big, but the damage to completely bound enemies (which is easier to set up than it sounds) is incredible, borderline obscene. 1938% damage is already absolutely bonkers, but consider that Trance will further boost that damage to 3876%, and this isn't counting the possibility of buffs or, god forbid, Crusade. If you're using a Dark Hunter, there's very little reason not to go for Ecstasy.

Type: Attack skill, attempts to Poison
Requirements: Whip Mastery level 5
Max level (innate): 10
Required equipment: Whip
Body parts used: Arms
Stats used: STR, LUC

Deals STR-based melee Cut damage to one enemy. Attempts to Poison the target. Has a 90% speed modifier at all levels.

Pretty mediocre. The Poison base damage is actually pretty high, but your Dark Hunter's probably going to have better things to do than trying to Poison an enemy. The actual damage on the skill itself is really terrible too--like, really, really goddamn terrible.

Crimson Rouge
Type: Attack skill, conditionally attempts to bind
Requirements: Whip Mastery level 10
Max level (innate): 10
Required equipment: Whip
Body parts used: Arms
Stats used: STR, LUC

Deals STR-based melee Cut damage to one enemy. If the target has binds, attempts to apply the target's binds to adjacent enemies. Has a 90% speed modifier at all levels.

One of the most situational skills in any EO game. If Crimson Rouge at least dealt splash damage along with the bind spreading, I'd say there's a potential use for it as a way to have your Dark Hunter be slightly more useful in random encounters, but as it is, it's really not worth leveling up at all.

Hypno/Nerve/Mirage Bite
Type: Attack skill, attempts to inflict Sleep/Paralysis/Panic
Requirements: Sword Mastery level 1
Max level (innate): 10
Required equipment: Sword
Body parts used: Arms
Stats used: STR, LUC

Deals STR-based melee Cut damage to one enemy. Attempts to inflict Sleep/Paralysis/Panic. Has an 80% speed modifier at all levels.

The sword counterparts to Gag, Whip, and Shackles. Sword Dark Hunters focus on status ailments, compared to the bind-focused whip Dark Hunters. They deal slightly more damage than the equivalent whip skills do to the nature of swords vs. whips, even though they have the same damage modifiers.

As for the Bites, given the nature of Sleep as a status ailment and how many enemies heavily resist Panic compared to other ailments, I'd personally prioritize Nerve Bite -> Mirage Bite -> Hypno Bite. Much like the basic whip skills, you're probably gonna level up all of them to 7 anyway, so it doesn't matter a ton. Unlike the basic whip skills, though, I'd probably max out each of the Bites eventually.

Soul Liberator
Type: Attack skill
Requirements: Hypno Bite, Nerve Bite and Mirage Bite level 7
Max level (innate): 10
Required equipment: Sword
Body parts used: Arms
Stats used: STR

Deals STR-based melee Cut damage to one enemy. Damage is multiplied by 3.5x if the target has an ailment. Dispels the target's ailment, if it had one. Has an 80% speed modifier at all levels.

The sword counterpart to Ecstasy. What Soul Liberator has over Ecstasy is that its damage sits slightly above that of a 2-bind Ecstasy at level 20, and actually outpaces it for most of the other levels, and a status ailment pretty obviously takes a lot less effort to set up than 2 or 3 binds. However, you've probably already noticed Soul Liberator's serious downside: it immediately cancels whatever ailment the target has. Given how heavily FOEs/bosses resist ailments and the number of FOEs/bosses that are straight-up immune to one or more status ailments, immediately cancelling whatever ailment an enemy has is a really serious downside. Just to be clear: yes, dispelling an ailment with Soul Liberator gives whatever enemy you hit accumulative resistance to that ailment. Most battles will end most likely after just a few applications of Soul Liberator, though. One must also consider Trance, as well.

Drain Bite
Type: Attack skill, heals based on damage
Requirements: Sword Mastery level 5
Max level (innate): 10
Required equipment: Sword
Body parts used: Arms
Stats used: STR

Deals STR-based melee Cut damage to one enemy. Heals the user's row for 25% of the damage dealt. Has an 80% speed modifier at all levels.

A really meh skill. The heal is nice for emergencies, I guess, but the damage is pretty mediocre, even if it's slightly above the normal Bites. If you have leftover skill points after getting the Bites and Soul Liberator maxed out, Drain Bite might be worth some consideration.

Type: Attack skill, conditionally attempts to petrify
Requirements: Sword Mastery level 10
Max level (innate): 10
Required equipment: Sword
Body parts used: Arms
Stats used: STR, LIUC

Deals STR-based melee Cut damage to one enemy. Deals double damage to adjacent targets. If enemies adjacent to the target have ailments, attempts to petrify the target. Chance to petrify is increased if both adjacent enemies have ailments. Has an 80% speed modifier at all levels.

Somehow even more situational than Crimson Rouge. However, unlike that skill, Scorpion's actually fairly decent for random encounters due to the double-damage splash damage. More importantly, however, it is the only non-Grimoire player skill that inflicts petrification. There's 3 conditionals in the game that require petrifying an enemy, so if you're going for 100% completion and don't want to use monster Grimoires, Scorpion's your only choice.

Type: Stun skill + amplify damage
Requirements: HP Up level 4
Max level (innate): 10
Body parts used: Head
Stats used: LUC

Attempts to stun one enemy. If it is successful, also amplifies all damage to the stunned enemy for one turn.

Temptation might seem really good at first, especially if you look at the stun chance. However, you also have to consider that almost every boss and FOE has 10% resistance to stun, if they don't just outright nullify it. That fact makes Temptation seriously unreliable, since at level 20, you'll have a 20% chance at best to have it activate (and that's not even counting for adjustments based on LUC). It has some use if you get a Grimoire of the level 10 version and put it on a Hexer, since they have the highest LUC of any class and Creeping Curse will boost the base chance to 450% (45% before LUC adjustments against most bosses/FOEs).

Bind Heart
Type: Evasion debuff
Requirements: TP Up level 4
Max level (innate): 10
Body parts used: Head

Reduces one enemy's evasion for a set number of turns. Has no speed modifier.

Bind Heart is a pretty trash skill unless you are seriously paranoid about a damage dealer whiffing a big skill.

Attack/Elemental Bait
Type: Counter skill
Requirements: Phys ATK Up level 10
Required equipment: Sword or Whip
Max level (innate): 10
Body parts used: Arms
Stats used: STR

If the user or any allies adjacent to them are attacked with physical/elemental damage on the turn of use, the user will counter with STR-based melee Cut damage to the source of damage. The counter's damage depends on if the user or an ally was attacked. Before level 20, every time the user counters, the chance for them to counter again goes down. Cannot counter if the user's arms become bound.

Oh man, how the mighty have fallen. Bait and Magibait in EO2 were arguably the best skills in the Dark Hunter skillset, since they were pretty easy to set up and could deal really big damage. Here...good lord, where do I start. Firstly, the biggest nerf: if the Bait activates on an adjacent ally rather than the user themself, it deals far less damage than if it activated on the user themself. Secondly, the fact that Bait can only activate a certain number of times per turn, and is unreliable before level 20.

Okay, let's assume best case scenario: the user gets hit 4 times in one turn, and somehow doesn't die--1160% damage. While that's pretty good damage, again, evaluate the circumstanecs needed for that to happen: you'd have to be using a Dark Hunter, and they'd have to get hit 4 times in one turn and somehow survive. While that's feasible with Perfect Defense, that's only going to work once per battle.

Just... Yeah, don't invest in the Baits at all. You're much better off just using the normal whip/sword skills.

Snake Eyes
Type: Phys defense debuff
Requirements: Curb ATK Up level 3
Body parts used: Head

Reduces one enemy's physical defense for a set amount of turns. The defense reduction is increased if the target has ailments/binds.

If you're using a primarily physical party, Snake Eyes with the ailment bonus is the best defense debuff in the game. Given how easy it is to apply just one ailment or bind to an enemy is, getting that bonus is trivial. Just drop it before you start using Ecstasy or Soul Liberator and then go to town.

Type: Passive
Requirements: Snake Eyes level 5

If the user attempted but failed to inflict an ailment or bind last turn, passively multiplies their chance to inflict an ailment/bind on the next turn.

A decent passive. It takes a bit of an investment to get to, but it's worth it if you're using your Dark Hunter to inflict stuff instead of relying solely on a Hexer or something.

Type: Force Boost

Doubles the user's damage if attacking an enemy that has ailments or binds.

Trance is essentially the best non-Transform Force Boost. The damage bonus activates even if an enemy only has 1 bind or has even a minor ailment like Blind. Consider that Ecstasy and Soul Liberator already do tons of damage on their own, and Trance just makes them ludicrous.

Rose Prison
Type: Force Break, attack skill, attempts to completely bind and Poison
Body parts used: Arms
Stats used: STR, LUC

Deals STR-based Melee cut damage to one enemy. Attempts to completely bind the target and Poison them, with a 120% base chance each.

The damage scales linearly from 250% to 700% based on the user's level. The Poison base damage scales non-linearly from 60 to 750 based on the user's level.

And, conversely, Rose Prison is basically the worst Force Break. Sure, the infliction chances aren't bad, but here's the issue: not only did you spend a turn not getting the Trance damage bonus, you've now locked your Dark Hunter out of Trance for the rest of the fight.