Part 56: Hexer OverviewHexer
Here's the final class in the game. It's bad. Now there are some positives to using a Hexer, but the main issue is they unlock at the start of the FOURTH stratum, which is well past the point you would actually be considering putting in a new member and grinding them up to level 40-45 is a supremely unfun idea, all for a class that doesn't really contribute much damage in battle at a time when enemies are big and scary. Still, what skills they do have are nice and they're the best at inflicting binds or statuses due to Curses, which is the only way to boost the infliction chance.
However, they're very resistance reliant, which can work for most regular enemies, but they become practically useless against FOEs and Bosses. And their stats suck too, which never helps. If you want to use one, they can be useful, their big, positive point is their enemy debuffs, which work well with your buff heavy party and can be very important. Well, Sapping is important, the rest of them are useful for removing an enemy buff. Otherwise, it's just a mountain to climb before you can utilize them, but battles just don't last long enough for them to really shine.
Like with the Ronin, I'll be writing from the standpoint that you unlocked this class normally. Which is to say, really really late. They're kind of mediocre on their own, but the fact that they're such a late unlock, combined with the fact that grinding them up is a chore, makes this class a really unpopular choice for parties. The payoff just simply isn't worth it. At any rate, Hexers are an advanced version of the Dark Hunter. They trade off dealing damage for higher infliction chances and uhhh, that's about it. Yeah, they don't really have a lot going for them. This is probably the only game in the series where you could call the Hexer a bad class. But they'll get their revenge soon enough.
Now these seem a bit... low. Indeed, Hexers have the lowest average stats by a good margin, since the Alchemist doesn't really care about some of their stats. It's 8th out of 9th for HP, STR, VIT and LUC and last in AGI. Sure, some classes have lower stats in some areas, but Hexer is the most consistently worse, it's actually impressive. They at least have good TP to use their various skills with (since they'll do nothing else) and have high TEC which... oh wait that does nothing for most classes since it's only used for elemental damage, so having high TEC is pointless! This means the only good stat the Hexer has compared to the other classes is TP. Thankfully, the only stat that matters is STR, so it's not that big a deal, and their low stats aren't too low compared to other classes, but it's still annoying that they're consistently pretty terrible.
Alright, this is off to a... start, since you can actually get an alright amount of HP onto a Hexer, which is useful for Revenge, even though that skill is baaaaaaad, and just surviving in general. Though it having low HP and VIT still doesn't really help with this. And since the Hexer isn't hugely SP heavy if you only focus on their good skills, you'll be able to max this out.
If you intend on taking Revenge, you really should take this since it's functionally a damage boost for that skill. But it's not really a good skill to be making use of. Still, more HP is always good for a class. Just not really a priority for this one.
While not the big TP boost that some classes get, it's always appreciated, though since the Hexer's skills aren't hugely TP hungry and you don't spam the high TP big damage skills since, uh, you don't have any, you don't need to max this out. Though it's always weird not to. Anyway, there's not much to say, since neither of these skills lead to anything, so put as many points into them as you fancy.
Another standard stat boosting skill. Take it if you want or not. Definitely not the first priority, though.
Unlocks: Sapping (LV1), Frailty (LV1), Leaden (LV1), Blinding (LV2), Relapse (LV3), Cranial (LV5), Abdomen (LV5), Immobile (LV5), Torpor (LV6), Corrupt (LV7), Evil Eye (LV10)
Increases the infliction rate of binds and ailments. Passive.
BUG: Game incorrectly states this skill does nothing, it actually boosts the chance of ailments and binds landing.
Like Ronin, this class is pretty simple, but even moreso. Curses is the main reason to use a Hexer, since it gets them pretty much all of their skills and is the only way to boost inflictions, since for every other class the formula is just BaseChance * CurrentResistance. Curses is an additional multiplier that really makes them shine in this specific area of doing nothing in Boss battles. Its in-game text is wrong and dangerously misleading, max this skill out so you can actually use this class. This skill works exactly as intended and it's pretty great.
This skill on the other hand, is a priority. It's not only a mastery skill, it's a pretty powerful one too. Now a damage boosting skill just increases damage by a certain amount of points or such. And as such, it might not be a priority in some cases. Not so much for a skill that boosts the chances of disables landing. Unlike damage, disables are binary in the results they give. They either land on the target, or don't. No inbetween. So even a 1% increase can make all the difference in the world. Of course, when upgrading disable skills, it's best to go with the ones that give you the biggest increases first, which is typically the disable skill itself. General boosts like this one tend to be secondary. Max this out after you got all your important disables capped.
Prerequisites: Torpor LV5, Corrupt LV5
Attempts to inflict Stun at the start of every battle. Passive.
This seems good on paper, but it has a few problems. Firstly, first turn Stun ain't that great, it's like you got a Preemptive, sure, but after that the skill does nothing for you and the biggest and baddest enemies aren't bothered by missing their first turn. Also the biggest enemies resist Stun, so you won't see this skill work, but it is perfectly fine in regular battles, where they have the same resistances. But it's still a big investment AFTER you've put 10 points into it AFTER you've put points into its prerequisites. Torpor is a good skill, since area wide Sleep is also good, but Corrupt is an awful skill, since Curse is shit on enemies and there are thankfully no Curse Conditional Drops in this game (small mercy). So this is definitely one to ignore, even if passing up on Stun is a shame in this game.
I suppose this might be something to consider if you lack a Survivalist. But it's just a worse Ambush in the end. At least nothing in the game is immune to Stun.
Prerequisites: Curses LV1
Reduces all enemies' ATK/DEF/AGI for 5 turns. Curse skill. Uses the Head.
Pretty standard first curses, but each play out pretty differently. Sapping is the main one, enemy STR stats get very big and very scary, so reducing it by a good amount in a way that lets your other members set up no problem is very important, especially since damage reduction is more important than defense boosting. Debuffs are good to cast to free up the buff slots for your party. Frailty isn't as helpful, since the comparative VIT numbers never get anywhere close to the numbers that STR does, so it barely affects damage dealt. Only use this to remove a DEF buff, or when your Hexer has ran out of things to do. And they will run out of things to do.
AGI is trash, so Leaden is trash. AGI stats are pretty small to begin with and reducing it might not even be effective, since the enemy could still be faster than you due to how it's all calculated. Also AGI buffs are rare and usually pretty ineffective, but slapping them down can be satisfying. The main problem with these skills is their awful scaling, but I suppose that's a blessing so you don't invest much into them, Sapping is the main one, while the other two are whatever.
Sapping is probably the best one of the bunch to grab, since it's the only one that has a real effect. The way the damage formula works, means that the ATK stat is the one that has the biggest impact on damage. So lowering the attack stat is the best way to reduce damage. Sapping is a really good skill, and if the Hexer was available from the start, they would be a very effective support unit. Unfortunately they aren't, so this skill kind of comes in really late. When you likely already have a Protector or Medic for defense.
Unfortunately, the other 2 skills really aren't that much better. Frailty sounds good since it's a damage boost, right? Unfortunately, not so. Frailty directly lowers the target's DEF stat, which has so little weight in the damage formula, that it doesn't really have much of an effect. For reference, the strongest enemy in the game has 170 DEF. The damage formula halves that, so it effectively comes down to reducing your final damage by 85 points. Frailty would lower that to 102 DEF at level 10, which works out to reducing your final damage by 51 points. This means that Frailty, against this enemy, only adds on 34 points of damage. To your final damage output! (A boosted Frailty only adds on 38 points of damage. Really.) Yes, Frailty is terrible, don't waste SP on it. Do take a point in it to dispel defense buffs, but the skill itself has very little utility outside of that.
Because AGI is kind of a fucked stat, Leaden's usefulness is very questionable. Though you can use it to dispel certain buffs from enemies at least. Take a point in it, but don't take any more than that. Besides, turn speed isn't a super important thing to be concerned about in this game.
Prerequisites: Curses LV2
Attempts to inflict Blind on all enemies. Curse skill. Uses the Head.
The Hexer learns plenty of ailment skills, so let's see if they're any good. Blind is interesting, since it cuts accuracy, though by exactly how much we don't know, giving you a bunch of free turns, in this case 3-5, with the infliction turn being 1. Since you need to know the important numbers when you fight certain enemies, such as those with a 5% resistance to them, if you have level 10 Curses and Blind, you'll have an 11% chance of landing something. Hey, that ain't great, but it's better than not having the Curses boost at all. However, since Blind is the lowest priority ailment, it can be very easily replaced, especially by something you don't want and cannot replace any ailment, limiting its usefulness sometimes. But it can be quite useful in getting a breather, just know what the chances are for if it's worth it.
An alright skill, I suppose. Though it's not really a great shutdown skill compared to your other options since it isn't guaranteed to buy you turns, and it only works against damaging skills. Pure support skills don't have an accuracy check, and this includes stuff that inflicts ailments, so it's not good against those. And for random battles, there's a better shutdown skill to use instead.
Prerequisites: Curses LV3
Reduces an enemy's recovery time from ailments for 5 turns. Curse skill. Uses the Head.
This is quite a weird skill, in that it's a reverse Recovery and, likewise, can be placed down whenever like that skill. It's good if you're able to disable something right after that, but if your main ailment inflicter is a Hexer, well, they've already wasted a turn of this. At least the ailment, when it does land, will last a long while, but since ailments are pretty naff and regular battles end too quickly, how much mileage can you really get from this? This is also one of the few times the game doesn't round for its multipliers, so boosting this skill means, if you can keep this debuff on, ailments will be on for a loooooong time. Otherwise it'll end, the counter ticks to 0 and you'll be back where you started. Hope you took advantage of that!
Probably the most effective way to use this skill is to cast this on your target beforehand, so that when you land your disable, the countdown is already hit by the Relapse debuff. Because disables in general are pretty hard to land, this skill can be a way to vastly increase their effectiveness. In the small chance they hit their target, this skill ensures that the disable won't be coming off for a long time. Can be worth it to max, but I'd wait until you'd get all your important disables to grab this.
Oh and another thing to keep in mind. Relapse counts as a recovery debuff, so it can cancel out recovery buffs, such as buffs that regenerate HP. Something handy to keep in mind if you ever decide to use a Hexer in your playthrough.
Prerequisites: Curses LV5
Attempts to inflict Head/Arm/Leg Bind on a single enemy. Curse Skill. Uses the Head.
Now this is the main reason to use a Hexer, as they have a very good chance of landing a bind on certain enemies, even those that resist it. Some enemies try to funnel you into binding specific parts to stop a dangerous skill, but this allows you to try for other binds as well to prevent enemies from doing other crazy things you would be unable to stop otherwise. At least for Binds, if you fail to land one, you decrease an enemy's base resistance of them by 25% of the original value, so you'll definitely land sooner rather than later, since they have a higher chance than a DH, 70% instead of 55% before factoring in Curses. However, these skills don't do any damage and of course since they're easier to land, you'll rack up Accumulative Resistance pretty quickly. But since they don't reduce your speed in any way, you can definitely bind something before it gets to move. You should get all three, but Head and Arm are more useful than Leg, so level them accordingly.
The binds are probably the most reliable way for a Hexer to lock down an enemy. They're basically considered to be a weaker disable type than ailments, but they can turn the battle in your favour with smart usage of them. They're generally easier to land, and unlike ailments, if you miss, the chances of you landing the bind increase with each miss. (This does stack.) But in return, enemies become more resistant to the binds as you land them. And at the end of the day, no matter how high you boost your chances, the final bind chance will be capped at 90%. You'll also want to invest in all the binds, because due to how boss AI works in this game, binding a boss' body parts will just have them kick your ass in a different way, so you really want to have your bases covered and invest in all 3 binds.
Prerequisites: Curses LV6
Unlocks: Stagger (LV5)
Attempts to inflict Sleep on all enemies. Curse skill. Uses the Head.
Out of the ailments for a Hexer to use, this is the most spammable, as Sleep is a pretty nifty ailment that disables enemies for a fair few turns, but if they're hit by an attack, it'll do 50% more damage, regardless of type, and will clear the ailment. However, even if you wake them the same turn you put them to sleep, they'll still miss a turn and their evasion is disabled, letting you potentially pull off a big damage attack very easily. It only becomes tricky to work with when an enemy is defeated and a party member then randomly attacks a target, hitting the sleeping one you were saving for later. It lasts for 5-7 turns and pretty naff ailments are higher priority, so you can easily inflict it with Sleep if it's about to recover from Confuse or Blind, for instance. A bit tricky to make full use of, but as a way to open a battle, it's pretty nifty, since the two turns it gives you (if you're faster than them, which is a big if for a Hexer) will usually be all the turns you need to wreck something.
Probably the best skill to go with for dealing with random encounters, as disabling every enemy on the field can buy you some time to kill them all in a safe manner. For big fights, it can function as a bit of a pseudo stun. And the 50% damage boost can be a bit of a nice little boon for your party.
Now if you're thinking of taking advantage of that 50% damage boost, congratulations, you've discovered the tactic known as sleep bombing! It's a tactic where you buff up someone to dish out one big hit on a sleeping enemy for massive damage. Unfortunately, that's not a really popular tactic in the DS games for various reasons. Namely because disables in general are really hard to land on big targets, so getting the sleep on them in the first place is a huge obstacle. Not only that, but the strongest damaging skills in the DS era of Etrian Odyssey games tended to be multi-hit skills, and only the first hit benefits from the damage boost. So the damage boost didn't really benefit them all that much, and wasn't really worth going through the effort for. Starting from EO4, that would be a different story, due to single hit damage skills getting more viable, and nerfs to multi-hit skills, but that's a tale for another time.
Prerequisites: Curses LV7
Unlocks: Stagger (LV5), Revenge (LV10)
Attempts to inflict Curse on all enemies. Curse skill. Uses the Head.
Man, Curse sucks when you get hit by it, since you're usually about to pull off a really nice combo and then take loads of recoil. But using Curse against enemies isn't very useful, since damage mitigation is a real pillar of strategy in this game. Thankfully you can skip this skill since no Conditional Drops require it, but I suppose I should go over it. It deals 50% backlash damage and will do individual hits of a multihit attack. It has pretty high priority, so it's easy enough to replace, but there are much better ailments to use. Still, it can be a funny (or frustrating) way to kill off a Boss as they kill you with a massive attack. Even then, it might not even kill them, since they only take 50% damage, which can't be that much, since you have much less HP than them. That's all it's good for, honestly, such an awful ailment otherwise, but you might have to max it anyway if you want...
Oh hey, it's an ailment entirely unique to this class! It sucks, don't get it. The reason for this is because the sheer health asymmetry between players and enemies is really huge. When looking at sheer raw numbers, players have a small amount of HP, but dish out large amounts of damage, so Curse deals a ton of backlash damage to them, and attacking units are susceptible to one-shotting themselves. But enemies have huge amounts of HP, but deal tiny amounts of damage. So Curse deals an even smaller amount of backlash damage to them. In practice, Curse is just a worse and unreliable Poison when used by the player. As a result, this skill is terrible, don't get this. Unless you really want access to...
Prerequisites: Corrupt LV10
A single target skill that deals more damage the lower the Hexer's HP. Curse skill with Bash damage. Uses the Head.
If you've heard stories of crazy Revenge strats that's, uh, next game. It's pretty meh in this game, mainly because it needs you to max out the CURSE skill, which is an awful ailment and just looking at the numbers should tell you it's not gonna be hugely impressive. The formula is (Max HP - Current HP) * Power. Since Almighty damage doesn't exist yet, it at least doesn't get reduced by Bash resistance, it only applies for conditionals and such. But what's the best you could really go for? Well, at max level with 1HP, HP Up 10 and Revenge 10 you can do... around 800 damage. To postgame enemies. That's cool, I guess, but your Hexer needs to be a 1HP, which is easy enough with damage tiles, but they'll probably be murdered right after, since they're such an easy target due to awful Provoke skills. For the SP to finally reach that point and the micromanaging you need to do for every battle (no Salve, no quick way to lower down to 1), it's just not worth it for the damage it finally dishes out. Meaning the Hexer has practically zero offensive presence.
It's also affected by level correction! So this isn't an entirely fixed damage skill because of an overbearing mechanic.
This is probably the best way for a Hexer to contribute to a battle, really. It's a reliable action, since they're dealing damage where disables are basically just them playing games of chance. Unfortunately, the amount of damage a Hexer can contribute with this skill is rather meagre. You are only looking at 1497 base damage if your Hexer somehow manages to hit 999 HP. Which isn't happening until post-game. Not to mention AOE heals basically force this skill to become weaker, so it's of very questionable usage overall. Yeah, the Hexer is honestly not too great in this game.
Prerequisites: Curses LV10
Unlocks: Lure (LV1), Paralyze (LV3), Betrayal (LV5), Suicide (LV10)
Attempts to inflict Fear on a single enemy. Curse skill. Uses the Head.
The final ailment is definitely a strange one, since it gets its own tree if you ever wanted to know the ins and outs of Fear. It has the highest priority of all ailments that isn't Instant Death or Petrify, so it's very easy to replace and stops the enemy from attacking 50% of the time. Cool coin flip, but it doesn't really do anything else unless you invest in the FEAR TREE. If anything, it just makes enemies harder to inflict with other ailments, but because of the FEAR TREE, it's probably best used with Relapse to maximize turns.
On its own, Fear is just a reskin of paralysis, since it does the exact same thing. Nothing too special. However, this skill is meant to be used with the skills in the fear tree. But if you don't intend on taking them, skip this skill. It won't do much for you by itself.
Prerequisites: Evil Eye LV3
Forces an enemy inflicted with Fear to skip their turn. Curse skill. Uses the Head.
This is a very skippable skill, since the other two skills in the FEAR TREE are this skill, but do something else on top of that. Putting levels into it only reduces the TP cost, so nah, definitely pass.
There is absolutely no reason to take this skill when the following 2 skills exist. The effect might sound nice, but Betrayal and Suicide do the exact same thing, on top of causing the target to do something else instead of doing nothing.
Prerequisites: Evil Eye LV5
Forces an enemy inflicted with Fear to attack another enemy with their regular attack. Curse skill. Uses the Head.
Now this is getting slightly more interesting. If you manage to inflict Fear on a strong enemy, then they can do some work for you. Since it's only their regular attack, it might not do much damage, but since you'll be trying this on the more dangerous enemies, it's good to keep them occupied for a turn while you do other things. There's no point putting more than 1 point in it, since they'll only ever do the one hit and all it does is decrease TP cost. The number of times a perfect situation for this skill comes up isn't very high, the best use is for Boss summons. If you can land Fear to begin with. But since it's just the one hit, it's hard to recommend over...
Unlike in later games, where the attack is simply untyped damage that pierces defenses, it... doesn't do that here. The stats just get plugged into the damage formula, so it gets reduced by defenses and resistances. So that's something to be wary of. Still, it can be a good way to force an enemy to waste their turn. That said, this isn't the skill I would invest in if you had to make use of fear. Instead, that would be...
Prerequisites: Evil Eye LV10
Forces an enemy inflicted with Fear to attack itself with their regular attack. Curse skill. Uses the Head.
For a slightly better flavour if your Fear target is all by itself. It sounds alright in theory, but enemies with high ATK usually have high DEF and HP as well, mitigating this skill's usefulness. Still, it's more damage than the Hexer would do in that turn if they don't have anything to really do, so it's still a way to keep an enemy from doing anything. Though be warned since they use their regular attack of a certain physical attribute, they can resist their own hits! Still, this tree gives the Fear ailment a lot more mileage and gives a Hexer more to do during down times, so it's probably worth a look, even if only this skill is actually worth anything. It's just nothing spectacular though. Describes this whole damn class.
Take all the problems I said about Betrayal and apply it to this skill. Still, it's a guaranteed free turn for as long as the Fear lasts, and it's a bit of free damage (as meagre as it may be), so it has some utility. Assuming you land Fear in the first place. It's a powerful skill, but disables being so hard to land just makes this skill not shine that brightly.
Prerequisites: Evil Eye LV1
Increases the encounter rate for a certain number of steps. Curse skill.
Haha, very cute. Maybe 1 point in this might be worth it, since a 30% boost to the encounter rate is very nice. Yes, I'm actually recommending a field skill since it means you get into more battles, which is a GOOD THING. Stop trying to fight monsters, you've got a lot of murder to commit, get going!
Might be a little too disruptive for a playthrough, since you're getting into encounters more often. And if you want experience points, you're probably better off on hunting down FOEs instead.
Mine character writeups are done, I can finally end this LP!