The Let's Play Archive

Etrian Odyssey

by Crosspeice

Part 51: Dark Hunter Overview

Dark Hunter

Can equip: Swords, Whips, Light Armour

Dark Hunters are the more interesting front line damage dealers. While not able to output the same damage as a Landy, or Survivalist, they can go either the Bind Whip route, or the Ailment Sword route and participate that way. They're not particularly amazing, but with the right amount of luck, they can keep enemies completely helpless while your other members take them down. Though they have a harder time against FOEs and Bosses, they can become pretty strong pretty quickly due to their simple skill path.

They have some interesting stats, they're surprisingly speedy, with the highest AGI in the game along with Survivalists, as well as the second highest TEC, not that it helps them. At all. Since they have to be on the front lines to do any damage, their STR and VIT are pretty good, as well as their HP, so they won't be dying any time soon. They have pretty low TP, but aside from a couple skills, they don't use up much TP overall, so it's not a huge deal.


With a pretty high HP rank, this could be useful, but it's only a 30% boost and it doesn't lead to anything, so it's again better to invest in TP if you don't have any SP to spare.

Fun fact, since Survivalists have access to a 50% multiplier on this skill, they can actually become more durable than Dark Hunters despite having a lower base HP stat than them. Anyways, increasing their defenses is nice, and definitely something to consider if you want them to take Bait. The counterattacks from that skill need the Dark Hunter to be alive for them to go off, so more survivability is good in that case.

Unlocks: Cloak (LV3)

Since Dark Hunters have meh TP, this can be worth it, but they won't really be running out either. Also Cloak is still bugged, so it's not worth getting anyway. Might as well fill this skill up late game.

More TP means that classes won't need to spend as much time refilling at a pit stop, so it's a good late-game investment.

Unlocks: Boost Up (LV3), Fury (LV5), Ecstasy (LV5), Bait (LV5)

With strength on par with a Survivalist, the Dark Hunter appreciates this attack boost to put them on par with the other heavy hitters. While they won't reach the heights of the Landy or Ronin, it does make their status attacks sting more, but only get it to level 5 at most if you want those skills and then finish it later.

Dark Hunters are among the weakest attacking classes in the game when it comes to damage, and is also why they're not really one of the more popular classes to use in this particular game. So anything to help deal with that problem will be nice.

Whips Unlocks: Viper (LV1), Gag (LV2), Shackles (LV3), Cuffs (LV4), Ecstasy (LV5), Climax (LV10)
Swords Unlocks: Hypnos (LV1), Nerve (LV2), Mirage (LV3), Drain (LV4), Bait (LV5), Petrify (LV10)

So how do you want to build your Dark Hunter? Whips for binds, poison and rare insane damage? Or swords for status, HP steal and baiting? You'll be using Whips in a standard game, but we'll go over both, so let's start with Whips. This stops you stepping on your Landy's toes and actually using all the whips you're unlocking, which you wouldn't otherwise. Binds are very, very useful if you land the right ones, though head binds and arm binds are the best ones. Climax can be pretty helpful against some tough FOEs and Bosses. Everything a Whip Dark Hunter does, a Hexer can do better, but if you're playing an average game of EO1 (like you do), you, uh, won't even use a Hexer, so this class becomes your most consistent and accessible source of them, which is incredibly helpful throughout the game. There's also Climax and Viper, though its poison damage is, uh, pathetic, at best.

Swords offer more variety, but you won't be outdamaging your Landy with the same sword. Hypnos is worse than the Hexer's Torpor (again, negligible since you won't use a Hexer), but Nerve, Mirage and Petrify are unique to the Dark Hunter, letting you play around with certain statuses. Not that it matters since only Instant Death matters for one Conditional Drop, but Confusion and Petrify are useful ailments, since every enemy has a general ailment resistance.

Drain keeps your Dark Hunter in good shape, while Bait is very useful against physical attacks, if nothing particularly special. Overall, they have different utility, but Whips are more useful overall, since they stop certain attacks and net you a good chunk of the conditionals, whereas ailments are only really used by the enemy to annoy you. Since I will be using a Hexer from the start, something you can't do in a standard game, I'll use a Sword DH, since ailments will be something different, instead of just being a discount Hexer.

Generally quite a few people prefer Sword Dark Hunter because they're just more reliable that way. Not because ailments are better (In fact, they're a whole deal worse since they're more resisted than binds), but because Swords come with more ATK and Sword skills deal more damage. Binds are a bit more reliable for disabling, but you lose out on damage that way.

Also something very important to note about binds in this game. In later games, more often than not, they bought you free turns for big fights. Because unlike players, where you're not allowed to use skills that require bound body parts at all, enemies can still waste their turns using a skill when that particular body part is bound. Not so much the case in this game, while most FOEs will still fall under that trap, the later bosses check to see if their body parts are bound before they decide what attack to use. Though binding them is still valuable since you can stop certain attacks from going off. It's just that the bosses will kick your ass in an entirely different way, more often than not.

Boost Up
Prerequisites: ATK Up LV3

This is a weird one. Boost isn't that great a mechanic and getting a max of 5 extra boost points per action can add up to the eventual 100 pretty quickly. If you want to get an alright boost to your various actions it can be nice, getting 12 Boost for using a skill ain't bad, but is it worth the SP? It's also not a typo, level 10 in this skill does nothing at all. Is it a bug? Was it intentional? Who knows man.

why the hell does level 10 do literally nothing for this skill

This skill is a bit more appealing for Whip Dark Hunters, because they get a whip later on that gives them a 15 point increase in the amount of Boost they gain. Anyways, using a skill grants you +7 boost. Meaning that if you spam nothing but skills, you'll get a full Boost guage in 15 turns. Boost Up can reduce that to 9 turns, and the Whip on top of all this would reduce that to 4 turns. But just how good is this skill? Let me just do a bit of math for you to see how worth it this really is.

So the strongest non-conditional Sword skill deals 190% damage at level 10, and 216% damage at level 15. So that's approximately a 13.7% damage boost. But factor in the 15 turns it takes to get a full Boost gauge, and that works out to a... 0.91% damage boost on average. But what if we factor in a maxed out Boost Up? Well that just becomes a... 1.52% damage boost on average. And if you're wondering about that whip I mentioned, (And the damage boost would be 16.7% for Whip skills), it would factor out to an average damage boost of... 4.175%. Yeah this passive is utterly awful. Just invest in your weapon mastery of choice and ATK Up instead.

You could argue that it's more useful for the disable chance, but it's not great there either, since the average infliction rate boost is just as miniscule, and you'd be most likely done with the battle by the time you got a full Boost gauge. The only thing this does is possibly save some time on building up Boost outside of a big battle, but chances are you're doing that in safer conditions, and this doesn't really save that much time.

Also while we're mentioning that whip, it's not that feasible to even use it, as it requires you to get two conditionals from FOEs that involve you killing them while fully bound (them, not you, you weirdo) and then buying the whip for 78,000en. This won't really happen until postgame and it's a huge pain to even bother with for not much reward. So yeah, this skill is lame and you shouldn't take it.

Prerequisites: TP Up LV3
Decreases the chance of being targeted by the enemy. Buff skill, uses the Legs.
BUG: Has a very small chance, perhaps 0%, of working.

Let's get this one out of the way. Like the Survivalist's version, it's bugged to be useless and the Dark Hunter can take a hit, so it's not much of a loss. I suppose it could've been paired with Drain to make your Dark Hunter super hard to kill, but who's to say how effective this skill would've really been? Oh well.

Isn't really that effective due to how the targeting mechanics work, so it's not worth your time at all. Even if the effects were greater, Dark Hunters really aren't that fragile, so they don't really need this skill. Not to mention even if it worked properly, it would actually make using Bait, which is one of their best skills, a lot less effective.

Prerequisites: ATK Up LV5
Increases damage when under a certain HP threshold. Passive.

This is a tricky skill and you can probably see why. While Dark Hunters can take a few hits, staying at 30% health to get a 30% STR boost is pretty damn risky. It's also not too effective considering how often Medics like to spam Salve, so is it worth levelling it past 5 to make it safer, but also having less of a boost? Hmmmmmmm, it's definitely a tough one, but due to how deadly this game can be, I think having a more consistent attack boost is preferable and it pairs well with Bait and maybe Drain to heal you in an emergency. So it's definitely tricky.

It's up to you where to stop with this skill. There isn't any real downside for taking it, and if you're making use of Immunize, it can make it much safer to take advantage of the super low threshold at level 5. Though given that this is a conditional damage boost, I would invest in ATK Up and your weapon mastery of choice first before even thinking about taking this skill.

Prerequisites: Whips LV1
A single target Whip strike that attempts to inflict Poison. Whip skill with Cut damage, uses the Arms.

Poison is pretty useful in this game at the start, with the exception of this skill. With no way to boost Poison damage like the Alchemist, Viper's output is pathetic and it becomes obsolete incredibly quickly. Don't bother with this skill and focus on the binds, since the window of opportunity for this skill is so small and then it's basically a basic attack with a chance to do slightly more damage.

This skill is terrible. The Poison component of this skill isn't great, and you'd be better off using stronger ailments. And it's more expensive in TP cost compared to the next set of skills we're about to see, while still dealing the same amount of damage. (Great skill design there.) If you want a consistent damage skill for a Dark Hunter, invest in at least one of the next few skills instead.

Prerequisites: Whips LV2/Whips LV3/Whips LV4
Single target Whip strike that attempts to inflict a Head/Leg/Arm Bind. Whip skill with Cut damage, uses the Arms.

This is the main reason to use a Whip Dark Hunter and it's very effective... if you're not using a Hexer (but you won't). Anyway, out of the three to go for, head binds are the best, since a lot of enemies use very dangerous elemental skills that use the head and that bind has the added effect of lowering the enemy's accuracy. Very nice. For physical enemies, arm binds are the best to stop them using their attacks, though it won't be as detrimental as the elementals. Lowering their STR with an arm bind is very useful, though it doesn't really matter if their strongest attacks are unusable anyway. Leg binds aren't that useful, as Leg skills are pretty uncommon, but they can be very useful when they come up. Lowering an enemy's AGI probably won't matter too much, but if you're only slightly slower than them, then it could make the difference. So get them all, but Head and Arm are definitely more useful.

These are pretty much the main skills to invest in when using a Whip Dark Hunter. Binds are their main bread and butter. Though as I've outlined in the Whips/Swords writeup, binds aren't exactly super strong in this game compared to the later ones. Still, locking enemies out of using some deadly skills is pretty good.

Prerequisites: Whips LV5, ATK Up LV5
A single target Whip strike that does much higher damage to fully bound enemies. Whip skill with Cut damage, uses the Arms.

Hot damn this skill looks super good, but it is really tough to get its conditions fulfilled just using the Dark Hunter. Using a Hexer and a Survivalist with Disable or a Protector with Smite makes it a lot easier to pull this skill off, otherwise it'll do a pathetic amount of damage. There are a couple of times when you'll need to fully bind a couple of enemies, so it'll be good to practise this skill cause when you can pull it off, it's amazing, but you have to go out of your way to do it. There's also no real reason to fully bind an enemy aside from Conditional Drops, since only some enemies have skills that use all limbs and good luck fully binding those guys (cause of course they're Bosses).

Do not be fooled by the big shiny numbers. This is a bad skill. Namely because this skill demands that you fully bind the target to even get the damage. Just 2 binds isn't good enough, making this skill ridiculously conditional when you can't inflict multiple binds at once in this game. Binds only last for 4 to 6 turns in this game, so without proper support, even if you get the enemy hogtied, you won't be able to use this skill that much. Some skills are just bad not because the numbers are too low, but because the situations where they only apply to are too infeasible to really capitalize on. And what use is a great amount of power when you can't even use it in the first place?

Prerequisites: Whips LV10
A single target Whip strike that instantly kills enemies under a certain HP threshold. Whip skill with Cut damage, uses the Arms.

This is a great skill able to just delete enemies and FOEs that are under 25% HP, or 30% if you Boost. While it can be a bit tricky to tell due to the small unhelpful HP bars, it mostly matches up with when they go red, so if you're not making much progress against an enemy, you can just delete it. Sure, it's not as bonkers as 55% like in 2, but 25% still ain't bad, though depending on the enemy, you could just get rid of that 25% on the next turn, so the trick is timing it so that the enemy goes under 25% as your Dark Hunter attacks. Obviously it doesn't work on most Bosses, or other enemies that don't care about Instant Death.

It's a decent skill, but not something I would really go for first thing. Instantly deleting 25% of an FOE's HP bar can shave off a few turns, but you won't be able to fight most FOEs for a good while, and this skill won't be any use if you can't even get their HP bars that low in the first place. And obviously it really shouldn't be used in random encounters (because if you get an enemy's HP that low, they're basically already dead.)

Prerequisites: Swords LV1
A single target Sword strike that attempts to inflict Sleep. Sword skill with Cut damage, uses the Arms.

As far as the various ailments go, Sleep is alright, but it's just a poor man's Torpor, which is the only time they step on each other's toes in regards to ailments. It has competition with the other ailments, but single target Sleep can be nice if your Dark Hunter is speedy enough so everyone else in the party takes advantage of the bonus damage. Dark Hunters are much, much faster than Hexers, so that works in Hypnos's favour, but for general encounters, Torpor is gonna be better, since Sleep wears off pretty quickly, so quickly reapplying it is the key.

When hitting something that's asleep, they'll take 1.5 times the damage from that one attack before waking up. So be aware when making use of something like the Survivalist's Multihit, which will only provide a damage boost to the first hit.

Prerequisites: Swords LV2
A single target Sword strike that attempts to inflict Paralysis. Sword skill with Cut damage, uses the Arms.

Paralysis is like Sleep, except they don't take extra damage. It's not a great ailment to use, but it doesn't wear off nearly immediately, like Sleep, and it makes them hopefully miss a turn. Still, Confusion is better overall and Sleep is better as an immediate shutdown ailment, leaving Paralysis in a weird inbetween. Since you don't need it for any Conditionals, you might as well use more effective ailments instead.

When ailment resistance is just classified as one stat, why wouldn't you just stick with the better ailments? There's really no point to using this over something like Mirage and Hypnos.

Prerequisites: Swords LV3
A single target Sword strike that attempts to inflict Confusion. Sword skill with Cut damage, uses the Arms.

This is definitely one to invest in as Confusion is pretty great against enemies solely because it stops them using their skills. Against certain enemies this gives you a number of free turns as they use their mediocre melee attack instead of their more deadly attacks. Of course, the ones you'd want to not use their skills, the FOEs and Bosses, have a BIT of a resistance to ailments, but when it lands, it's very nice. Annoyingly it has a 5% less chance of landing compared to the other ailment attacks. It's like they knew how good Confusion was. After all, shutting down a dangerous enemy in a pack is always nice letting you focus it down, or go after its companions. Overall, good ailment, good skill, but it can be a bit frustrating landing it and single target skills like this make me miss Wildings.

Confusion is a very powerful ailment, but it's not really something you want to be inflicting willy nilly. Keep in mind that it locks enemies out of using skills... which in some cases, makes an enemy much more dangerous since they could be hitting you instead of doing support stuff. And some FOEs and bosses will be very glad to punch your face in constantly since some of them don't have that many attacking skills. Confusion is a bit of a gamble since it gives the victim a 50% chance to hit either their own side or their own enemies. So it's something to be aware of.

Prerequisites: Swords LV4
A single target Sword strike that absorbs a percentage of damage as health. Sword skill with Cut damage, uses the Arms.

An excellent skill that lets your Dark Hunter become incredibly resilient if you get it to level 10. While it doesn't pair well with Fury, it does at least factor in the damage boost before you heal all your health back, so it at least gets you out of the emergency zone if you think your Dark Hunter is in danger. However, it's definitely not dependable if the enemy is resilient to Cut damage, so don't expect it to always save you. So yeah, get absorbing and get livin'.

A fairly decent skill, though if you have a Medic, it's very much redundant. Namely because Medics already come with heals, or they're making use of Immunize, which drastically reduces the importance of healing. Otherwise it can be a good way for a Dark Hunter to keep themselves alive.

Prerequisites: Swords LV10
A single target Sword strike that attempts to inflict Petrification. Sword skill with Cut damage, uses the Arms.

Hey how would you like a Climax that doesn't require a HP% threshold? Petrification is nasty for the party, but the enemy doesn't like it either, so if you can land this, they're basically out of the battle, as they can't heal it. Sure the skill is slow and it doesn't have a huge chance to land, but if it does land, especially on an FOE, OH BABY. However one important thing about Petrify is it doesn't remove the enemy from the field and they can still be targetted by attacks. You're right, that's super dumb, so try it on the last enemy, or try not to use random target attacks. Thankfully they fixed that in later games. Still, if your Dark Hunter hasn't got anything better to do in a big fight, might as well toss one of these out, see what happens!

Do note that despite the enemies sticking around, you still get EXP for petrifying them, since the game counts it as a kill.

Compared to Climax, it's not reliable for FOEs (but it'll feel pretty amazing if you manage to land this quickly enough on them), but is a lot better at crowd control for random encounters.

Prerequisites: Swords LV5, ATK Up LV5
A Sword counterattack that can counter physical attacks dealt to the user, as well as allies to the left and right at 50% less damage on average. Sword skill with Cut damage, uses the Arms.

It's a good thing the Dark Hunter needs to be on the front to deal damage, as you can do a lot of counteraction with this. It pairs well with high HP physical classes that are targetted in most attacks to get 3 counterattacks off. This pairs really well with Fury and Boost to deal an insane amount of damage if you know what's coming next. This only works for physical attacks and it works best with your Dark Hunter in the centre, obviously. You also need to stay alive to actually counter, but for enemies that deal party wide physical attacks, Bait can be supremely effective against them, but isn't too amazing against a single attack.

By far the best skill in the Sword Dark Hunter's moveset. The counters activate per hit, so if the enemy busts out a multihit move, or an AOE attack, and it hits the front row, the enemy will be eating a ton of counterattacks in return. For best results, have 3 people in the front row, and place the Dark Hunter in the middle there since it only checks for people right next to the Dark Hunter. Do note that attacks that get evaded won't trigger counterattacks, so it doesn't pair up too well with some of the Survivalist's support skills. However against enemies that primarily use elemental attacks, it won't be too much use since counterattacks can't activate against those.

Dark Hunters can also Take, but leave that to the gathering party.