Part 35: Strategic Notes: The Second StratumStrategic Notes: The Second Stratum
This is where you can now start voting on party compositions. Voting rules are at the end of the post if you just want to skip down there.
As for how often I'm going to hold these votes, generally the way I was gonna do it was hold a vote each time we enter a new stratum. Hold another one around the time we reach the Stratum's first geomagnetic pole, and then hold a third one for the boss fight. I may change this up if I see the need to, but for now this seems like a good system. Mind you when we reach the postgame, all bets are off on voting and I'll be using the party members I need at that point, because that's when the game actually starts hating you. For the most part, I'll be using the same party I used for the first stratum there: Ken, Nick, Frederik, Fedot, and Aliara. So that's probably another thing to keep in mind.
So now that we're finishing up the first stratum, the second stratum has several new challenges for us. New enemies, new FOEs, and new dungeon hazards. One of the things that get introduced are damage tiles. Walking over them causes the whole party to take damage. That can either be nullified with a few field skills, or healed up. The damage isn't much at this point. At this point, this is where the game introduces the petrification status effect, which can pretty much permanently disable a party member if you can't recover from it and can stop a dungeon trip immediately.
Plotwise, not much happens in this stratum. Etrian Odyssey games tend to be really light on plot as part of the old school appeal, so don't expect much at this point.
Let's take a look at our party members and see what they can contribute at this point in the game. If you want to take character personalities and stuff like that into account, just read the character bios posted on the first page.
Emilia, Bellamy, Ken, and Fedot are all our main damage dealers. Bellamy and Fedot can deal elemental damage from the back, while Emilia and Ken are our physical front liners. Emilia can help clear out or weaken mobs with Tornado, while Ken deals a ton of single target damage. Fedot is kind of a jack of all trades sort of character, with being able to deal decent physical and elemental damage, along with supporting.
Frederik is our healer and supporter. He can help our physical attackers hit harder, and he can heal up party members pretty fast. He also has the defenses to survive on the front lines, so he can help disperse the damage there. However, his healing is weaker than Maverick's and he can't get rid of status effects.
Aliara is our panic button in case we run into a nasty random encounter or if there's a battle I just don't want to deal with. However, It should be noted that one of the nastiest enemies you can run into is immune to poison, so Aliara can't just bail us out of every situation. But with both Poison and Torpor, she can give our team a huge advantage in random encounters.
Nick is our resident FOE exterminator, although he won't be able to pull off that job if the party composition can't actually chip off 45% of an FOE's health. He's a decent enough damage dealer at this point, so he's not useless if he can't accomplish that.
Pauline is our field support, being able to help reduce or prevent our party members from taking damage from damage tiles. As a bonus, since she has access to all three gathering skills, we can pretty much check the item points without having to switch over to a farming team. And she can ensure that someone will always act first in battle, which can work really well with Maverick, who doesn't have that much speed. Her main downsides is that she's lacking in the combat department, and the support department aside from her 1st Turn ability.
Maverick is our main healer, and his healing is stronger than Frederik's. Not only that, but he can help the party deal with damage tiles by healing the damage up, or nullifying it with Patrol. He's also the only party member that can cure petrification, but because of that, if he gets petrified and the party has no way to cure it at that point, they're kind of screwed and they'll be forced to leave the Labyrinth. Not only that, but he can't really buff party members like Frederik can, and his healing is a lot slower (which isn't an issue if Pauline's on the team). But he can revive party members without using Nectars, so that's another thing to consider.
Aegis is our defensive support and tank. While he can't do much against elemental attacks and status effects, he's good at dealing with physical damage, and enemies don't use AOEs too much here. So he can Provoke enemies and tank all the damage. Unlike Ling, he doesn't have the offenses to contribute to actually killing enemies.
Ling is also another defensive party member we can take here. Although he has some decent offenses and can also help heal up party members as well. Unfortunately, he may be a bit suicidal thanks to his Loyalty ability and the enemies here do hit hard.
Gilbert is another support and can buff our party members into hitting harder, increasing their defenses, and increasing their speed. Don't expect much from him in the damage department though, he's purely a support.
Vote for up to three party members you want to see used for part of the next stratum. Bold your votes, or they won't count. If the voting party turns out to be completely unreasonable, or I'm just having a difficult time getting through the game with the chosen party, I may change it up.