Part 55: Ronin OverviewRonin
Hail, glorious Nippon, Ronin are the absolute king of physical damage, able to deal incredible damage with their hanzo steel, can buff themselves in plenty of ways by changing stances and even deal elemental damage. Sounds great, right? Well, no, this class has a lot of problems, mainly because you unlock them midway through the game where your Landy has already established themselves as a very dependable attacker. It becomes a very hard sell to drop everything you're doing to train up a level 1 Ronin so you can use one, but their Stances are just poorly implemented, you can't use many skills unless you spend a turn to set one up and it'll only last for a few turns.
So the only stance that's used is the one that can dish out a lot of damage quickly, otherwise it's a struggle to recommend this over your Landy. They're great against bosses and FOEs, but by the time you set up your buffs and apply your Bravants... oh, the battle's over. Ronin are single target attackers which makes them pretty ineffective in regular encounters, especially when compared to a mixed Landy, who is able to switch between Allslash and Crush. All of this just adds up to a pretty mediocre labyrinth goer, but a very potent boss killer. Well, it only slightly outdamages an Axe Landy, so is it really worth it??? Probably not.
Now while this LP cheated to unlock Ronin to be able to use them from the get-go, I'm going to be speaking from the standpoint that you unlocked them normally, which is midway through Stratum 3, since I'm assuming you won't have access to that method. So if what I'm saying doesn't quite match up with what you see in the LP, that will be why. I'm also going to assume that you grinded one up to a more usable level, because they start at level 1, and taking one right away to the middle of the 3rd Stratum will just get them plastered. Anyways, Ronin are pretty much an advanced version of the Landsknecht. They traded their crowd control capabilities for higher single target damage. It uhhh, didn't really work out.
There we go, the highest STR in the game, uh, tied with Protector, but Ronin can make the most use of it. But it does come at a slight cost of their other stats, as they have mediocre VIT and HP, low LUC (meh) and then awful TEC and TP, the last one being the biggest shame, since Ronin really like spamming their stances and skills all battle long, so they need to be topped up. A Protector is a Ronin's best friend.
Unlocks: Ibuki (LV3)
Since the Ronin has pretty low HP and TP and then won't be using all that many SP in skills, you might as well max these ones out. Also it'll keep your Ronin mostly alive in the endgame, but it does make them really boring at that point, but oh well. Since Ibuki is bad, don't feel like you need to rush this.
Front-liners will always appreciate more durability. Ronin even moreso, because dying means they lose their stance, and you'll have to spend a turn setting it back up if that happens! Not a high priority passive, but something to consider at the very least.
Unfortunately getting the short straw in TP means this skill is a must? Ahah, but did you work out the maths! Because at max level this only increases TP by 30, which is... two extra Midarebas! Ah, that's not too great, so maybe this skill is worth it, maybe not? Well, what else are we gonna spend our SP on, I'll probably max it out cause... 2 extra Midarebas, why not.
Actually not really that huge of a priority. Ronin won't be using their skills much in random encounters (unless they're the only damage dealer in your party for whatever reason. And if so, how did you get to the point where you unlock them or why did you trash your damage dealer for this class!?) so they won't be eating up too much TP. And in big battles, it's not gonna matter too much for them since you can use TP restoration items on them instead. Then again, there's not really much to spend their SP on, so it can't hurt to take it. Just, make it one of the last skills they take.
Unlocks: Sight (LV3), Crit Up (LV5)
Man if only the Ronin got the Medic ATK Up. Still, with the highest STR in the game, this is definitely something you want to make a Ronin pretty mental. Since its unlocks are also pretty bad, you can up this whenever you fancy, but it should be maxed sooner rather than later, as a way to augment all your shiny new Katana skills. Speaking of...
Ronin have the highest STR in the game, so they'll get the most out of this skill. Definitely max it. And it'll probably be a skill you want to max sooner than usual compared to other classes, since they won't be doing much in random battles with their skills.
Unlocks: Kesagiri (LV1)
Overhead (LV3), Zamba (LV5), Midareba (LV7), Orochi (LV10)
Seigan (LV3), Mikiri (LV5), Koteushi (LV7), Raizuki (LV10)
Iai (LV3), Kubiuchi (LV5), Gatotsu (LV7), Hyosetsu (LV10)
Alright, well this is a pretty simple class, huh. Ronin don't get very exciting until you reach level 3 for Katanas to learn the Stance skills, which then let you use the remaining three skills in the Stance tree. It's not the best idea to dabble in all three, instead stick to one and then buff up your Ronin with passives. Because 2/3rds of the skillset can be ignored, you'll have plenty of spare SP to go elsewhere. And yeah, you'll probably max this out, since you might as well. It helps it's a nice boost as well.
Invest in these right away to unlock the stances since Ronin need them to even function! Not only that, they'll very much appreciate the boost to their weapon ATK with this. Especially since Katanas have the highest ATK among all the weapon types in the game, so this will really ramp up your Ronin's damage output. Defnitely a high priority passive since this will be active at all times, unlike the stances.
Prerequisites: ATK Up LV3
Increases damage at night, or when afflicted with Blind or Head Bind. Passive.
And here you thought this was gonna be the shitty Field move, instead it's something you can actually make use of if you decide to play the entire game at night. It's actually feasible since despite having a time system, it's as impactful as the calender system, so it has barely any bearing on gameplay. Night applies from 18:00pm to 4:59am, which is a rather long time for another damage boost. Definitely worth your time to just play the rest of the game at night, it's a free bonus!
Ronin are all about stacking ATK boosting skills, but of course, despite being boosted while blinded, it uh... doesn't change the fact your accuracy is awful, so it's not something to rely on at all. You might think a Head Bind would be better, but no, your accuracy is still reduced by that, but only by 30%! Still not worth thinking about. If you enjoy the dark and like using Dusk Balls, this is something to consider, I guess.
This functions as a boost to the Ronin's STR stat, so it effectively functions as a 2nd ATK Up. At max level, a Ronin's STR will reach 105 when a max level ATK Up is applied to it, and then 136 when Sight's boost comes in. So a +31 STR increase, which is very sizeable, though nothing too game changing. Don't feel the pressure to always go at night if you don't want to, though time of day has such little impact in this game. Also yeah, don't rely on blind or head bind procs for this, that's really a flavor thing for this skill and doesn't even negate those penalties.
Prerequisites: ATK Up LV5
Does this affect your skills? No? Then it's trash. It's only useful if you equipped your Ronin with a sword by mistake since EVERY skill needs a katana and can only use regular attacks. Even then, the added chance is pathetic and you will not put 10 points into this damn thing!
Terrible. If skills could crit, that would be one thing. But I guess the idea behing this skill is to give your Ronin some way to contribute from turn 1.
Prerequisites: HP Up LV3
Heals the user's HP by a certain amount. Uses the Head.
Oh now this is a great skill! I'm being sarcastic, your Ronin has a million other things to do. They do not need to heal themselves for PITIFUL amounts when you have items, or a Medic or even, ugh, a Protector. Just no.
There is absolutely no reason to waste SP on this when an item can easily do the job instead, and won't be stopped by head binds.
Prerequisites: Katanas LV1
A single target Katana strike that requires no stance to use. Katana skill with Cut damage. Uses the Legs.
Finally we get a skill and uh, yep, it's one to pass. Don't even bother putting SP into it, just use your normal attack until you get better skills later on, it won't take that long. It's very unremarkable and will never be used, since you'll just stance into a different, better attacking move anyway. It's also dreadfully slow, which is unfortunately a feature of katana skills. Sigh.
Hey, it's a damage skill that doesn't need a stance to use, that's something, right? Could be a way for your Ronin to contribute to random battles at least. Not like their SP will go into much else, anyways.
Prerequisites: Katanas LV3
Unlocks: Zamba (LV1), Midareba (LV3), Orochi (LV5)
Increases damage done and reduces damage taken for 5 turns. Buff skill. Doesn't use a body part.
BUG: Boost has no effect on Stance skills.
Here's the first Stance skill. And the last. Even with the Boost bug, this is a great buff to apply to your Ronin since it's a really nice attack increase to add onto your other attack increases, it has the best skills in its set and it reduces damage by a nice amount. Even better, since damage reduction skills reduce the enemy's ATK before its subtracted by your DEF, it makes this skill much better at keeping your Ronin alive than you'd think. So while it's not as big a damage reduction as the next stance skill, it's still pretty good and it gives your Ronin ANOTHER ATK boost. Uh, yeah, this is clearly the best one.
Say hi to pretty much the only stance that matters. For several games. It places a buff on the Ronin that gives them a sizeable damage boost, and lets them use one of the best damage skills in the game.
And... now for the downsides. The Ronin cannot use their skills unless they have a stance buff active, and they can only use skills that are a part of that specific stance skill branch while the buff is active. There's no other way to use those skills, so the Ronin is forced to spend their first turn in battle setting up a buff. Which effectively means they're doing nothing to the enemy on that turn. Doesn't matter too much in FOE and boss battles, since everyone is likely setting up on the first turn. But in random battles... well a Landsknecht could use Allslash or an Alchemist can use a tier 3 spell to end the battle instantly, or put a heavy dent in the battle. And meanwhile, the Ronin is only getting ready to do things on turn 2. Or the battle never reaches turn 2, and as a result, your Ronin is eating up a party slot for everything that's not a big fight.
It's a problem to consider with wind up periods in general, as stuff like wind down periods are better than winding up since you would be able to do things right away instead of having to wait to charge up. It's generally easier to deal with a cooldown, and in some cases, you won't have to deal with that at all if you deal with the obstacle before the wind down period can become a significant factor. While winding up is just unavoidable. It's a problem Atlus has tried to solve with the Ronin, as the class has gone through so many mechanical changes throughout the series, all of them pretty much being targeted at dealing with the problem of the concept of wind up holding them back, with varying amounts of success. But those are tales for another time.
Unfortunately, there's yet another problem with the stance skills. Since they're buffs, they're dispellable. And if the stance gets forcibly dispelled (either through purges or death), the Ronin can't use their stances' skills anymore. So they have to waste a turn setting their stance back up again if that happens. If you had an attack queued up, it'll still go through even if the stance wears off before the Ronin launches their attack. So there's that, at least.
Thankfully there's very few cases where a stance buff will be dispelled, as they're not counted as an ATK or DEF buff so it's rare, but it's still annoying.
Prerequisites: Katanas LV5, Overhead LV1
A single target Katana strike that requires the Overhead stance active. Katana skill with Cut damage. Uses the Arms.
This is like Kesagiri except stronger, so never use that skill. However, the next skill in the Overhead tree is better than this one, so you should skip this skill too! Yeah I know your Ronin still doesn't have any attacks, just give it a minute, he's doing fine, probably. You're grinding him up to the 3rd stratum anyway, so who cares? This skill is super basic and slow so it's also really boring and let's talk about the really fun skill instead!!!
There is so little reason to take this skill when there's a far better skill they can be using. Ignore it entirely. The only benefit it has is that it's a cheaper skill than their best damaging skill.
Prerequisites: Katanas LV7, Overhead LV3
A single target Katana strike that hits 2 times, or 3 times at level 10 and requires the Overhead stance active. Katana skill with Cut damage. Uses the Arms.
Oh baby now this is why Ronin are useful, best skill they have no problem. Imagine if your Survivalist's Multihit came off this STR and had a bunch of buffs behind it to raise it to ridiculous levels. This skill absolutely shreds FOEs and Bosses, but might be a bit overkill for random enemies. Still, it is such a joy spamming this skill all day and there isn't a similar skill in the other stance trees, making Overhead the best one by a mile. Unfortunately, it is slow and it'll chew through TP very quickly, giving you only 3-6 uses from full depending on where you are in the game. But man, it is totally worth it and why the Ronin, despite the game trying its best, doesn't completely suck.
Say hi to the best damage dealing skill in the game! A level 1 Midareba outdamages even a level 10 Zamba! That's how good this skill is, and why you want to skip Zamba altogether. A Ronin will be hitting like a truck with a maxed out Midareba. It's a skill you should be maxing out right away, since the damage output from level 9 to 10 effectively goes from 238% to 375%! Once your Ronin gets their stance set up, they'll pretty much tear through FOEs and bosses like butter. However, it's overkill on random encounters, and you won't need this for those. Nor really get the chance to in a good party.
Prerequisites: Katanas LV10, Overhead LV5/Seigan LV5/Iai LV5
A single target Katana strike that requires the Overhead/Seigan/Iai stance active. Katana skill with Cut + Fire/Volt/Ice damage. Uses the Arms.
Ah now these composite skills are very interesting, since it's not an attack that's just split 50/50 between physical and elemental, it's like attacking twice with one attack, which the Ronin seems to like doing. So not only is the regular Cut damage dealt to the enemy, but the elemental damage is also added on and works especially well if the enemy is weak to it. While the element does rely on the Ronin's awful TEC for some additional damage, it's not a lot as STR is also used more often in the various formulas at work, so it's just a little bonus. When you're not spamming Midareba, Orochi is a relatively cheap skill to use if you want to save on TP. It's not really worth levelling it up much, since even a resisted Midareba will do more damage than an effective Fire slash.
It makes the Ronin incredibly slow so they'll more than likely go last, but it's still a good idea to grab, as Fire is a good element to use against regular enemies when Midareba is too much. Raizuki is the strongest Seigan skill, which says a lot about that stance tree, but Volt is the most applicable element, so it's worth learning. Hyosetsu is in the worst stance tree, making it a very weak attack since it won't have an additional attack buff from a stance and Ice isn't the most common weakness, so it's harder to recommend, but it actually has a 100% speed modifier, making it a fast skill and getting off a strong attack that hits weakness first is always nice. If you want your tri element damage, stick to an Alchemist, since you'll want to focus on one stance tree.
Maybe grab Orochi to round out your Ronin's skillset. But since the other elements are tied to worse stances, it's really not worth picking those up. If you could cast these skills from the get-go, picking up the other elemental skills wouldn't be an entirely bad idea, but it's just not worth the investment since it's still a whopping 5 SP you have to spend per stance to grab them. If you're that desperate for elemental damage, just use an elemental oil instead.
Prerequisites: Katanas LV3
Unlocks: Mikiri (LV1), Koteushi (LV3), Raizuki (LV5)
Increases damage done and reduces damage taken for 5 turns. Buff skill. Doesn't use a body part.
BUG: Boost has no effect on Stance skills, level 10 reduces ATK increase.
The second stance is very similar to Overhead except 10% less damage and 10% more damage reduction, which as mentioned is actually really good, so this stance makes your Ronin a lot tankier. But it's just a poor man's Overhead and the skills aren't nearly as good, especially since level 10 is bugged and decreases the ATK boost, it's not a typo. Well it might be a code typo, but this is what everyone else has it listed as. And since it's bugged in another way, you'll never get it temporarily higher. There's never any reason to max a stance skill, but you can keep it at level 9, 2% extra damage reduction probably won't matter r-right? Still, at least it's not the worse stance.
So an accidental typo at level 9 made this stance slightly better than it was intended to be. Leave it at that level if you decide to go for this stance. Unfortunately, this stance has little to offer a Ronin overall.
Prerequisites: Katanas LV5, Seigan LV1
Nullifies all attacks towards the user for one turn and requires the Seigan stance active. Buff skill. Uses the Arms.
Now this is a weird skill. For one turn, your Ronin is immortal, which sounds pretty great, but they can't parry, which is pretty bad. But it lets you survive a deadly attack and stay healthy, that's pretty good, but if the rest of the party die your Ronin is probably completely screwed, that's pretty bad. But it always works and you can just put one point into it, that's pretty good, but it requires the Seigan stance up which reduces damage anyway so it's not helpful if you have other stances up, that's pretty bad. Also your Ronin should really be attacking, but this skill does have its uses, so hey, maybe go for it.
A... rather questionable skill to put on an offensive class. Ronin don't have any other skills to synergize with this one, so they can't even function as a tank for the party. But it has its uses as a super defend command, I guess.
Prerequisites: Katanas LV7, Seigan LV3
A single target Katana strike that attempts to inflict Arm Bind and requires the Seigan stance active. Katana skill with Cut damage. Uses the Arms.
THIS is the skill that replaces Midareba? Oh wow. It's a standard Katana skill, except it can inflict Arm Bind. It has similar rates to a DH using Cuffs but with the various ATK boosts, it means it'll do a lot of damage and has a chance of making the enemy 30% physically weaker too, so your Ronin becomes very survivable when combined with the stance. But your DH can bind stuff just fine without your Ronin, unless you want to fully bind something. Still, your time will be better spent using Raizuki instead, as it does the same damage, but also has an additional elemental attack that's really good against most enemies.
And say hi to another reason why people just stick with Overhead/Upper Stance whenever the Ronin appears in a game. The damaging skills in the other stances suck. I guess it's something to go for if you want your Ronin to be a support unit. Except why are you having a class specifically designed for dealing damage on support duty!?
Prerequisities: Katanas LV3
Unlocks: Kubuichi (LV1), Gatotsu (LV3), Hyosetsu (LV5)
Increases AGI for 5 turns. Buff skill. Doesn't use a body part.
BUG: Boost has no effect on Stance skills.
...that's it? Just an AGI boost? REALLY? That's a shame compared to the other two stances, but hey, at least you might potentially outspeed something. Or not, but at least you might have slightly higher evasion and accuracy? Still, the various Iai skills are also pretty fast, so you'll be able to actually go first in some cases, a miracle. They'll also be missing their added sting with no additional attack buff, but hey, if you feel like breaking the mold and want to make the game harder, then this is the skill for you! It's still really bad though, like it needs something else as that is not an impressive AGI boost anyway, so you'll still get outsped in a fair few cases, especially towards the endgame. It's a really rough stance to choose, since the other two choices are so much better.
why are the non-Overhead stances so terrible? Since speed is utterly screwed up in this game, this skill barely does anything for the Ronin themselves.
Prerequisites: Katanas LV5, Iai LV1
A single target Katana strike that attempts to inflict Instant Death and requires the Iai stance active. Katana skill with Cut damage. Uses the Arms.
The first skill for Iai is pretty neat, being the only real skill to have Instant Death, as Climax is a bit... specific, so it makes this skill more consistent? I guess? Otherwise it's nothing special, there's only one enemy that has an ID conditional, which is what you'll need this for, but otherwise it's just pathetic if it doesn't proc, making it a strong, fast hit single hit. Wow.
Probably the closest the Ronin gets to some kind of useful utility, Instant Death can be useful against enemies if you know they're weak to it, but it's pretty worthless otherwise. It's not enough to justify the Iai tree, at least.
Prerequisites: Katanas LV7, Iai LV3
A single target Katana strike that requires the Iai stance active. Katana skill with Cut damage. Uses the Arms.
Also a pretty neat skill, but mainly because it does a lot of damage and is fast. That's about it, you can very easily leave it at level 1 and enjoy a somewhat strong hit, but maxing it out is probably the way to go if you want this tree to be at all useful. I guess it makes up for the lack of attack boosts in the stance. Maybe? There's just nothing to it that Midareba doesn't do better, aside from speed, but to be fair you could say that about basically every katana skill. So while you do have the option and it would make for a fine addition to the party, you should only use the Overhead stance, honestly. If I didn't already mention that enough.
why are the non-Overhead stances so terrible?
Phew, that was a long one, MINE if I end it here?