Part 117: Chie
Stonewall Jennings posted:
The best dungeon.
It's only natural that the best character has the best Shadow.
Anyway, we got a lot done this update, so let's kick it off with Tactics Chat, Mark II:
Persona: Tomoe (Strong against Ice, Weak to Fire)
Initial Skills: Skewer, Tarukaja
Skills Learned: Bufu (Lv. 7), Skull Cracker (Lv. 11), Mabufu (Lv. 14), Rampage (Lv. 20), Assault Dive (Lv. 22), Counter (Lv. 24), Gale Slash (Lv. 29), Bufula (Lv. 33), Ice Boost (Lv. 36), Black Spot (Lv. 38), Counterstrike (Lv. 43), Heat Wave (Lv. 46), Power Charge (Lv. 52), High Counter (Lv. 61), Rainy Death (Lv. 67), God's Hand (Lv. 70), Agneyastra (Lv. 74)
Stat Growth: Above average Strength, average Magic and Endurance, above average Agility, below average Luck. 2nd in HP, 5th in SP.
Suggested Endgame Skill Set: Bufula, Mabufu, Ice Boost, God's Hand, Agneyastra, High Counter, Tarukaja
Combat Role: If her love for kung fu movies and her Persona's Bruce-Lee-in-Game-of-Death outfit didn't make it obvious, Chie is one of our two party members built around physical skills. Like Yosuke, she starts out very well. Tarukaja raises an ally's physical and magical attack power, which is a big help early on because for the first few bosses one party member will likely be doing a substantial portion of the damage for the group. Skull Cracker is a skill with a surprisingly high chance of causing Confusion, which is especially useful on the powerful enemies towards the end of the first two dungeons. Rampage is extremely potent early on (as a boss will teach us fairly soon), because it targets all enemies and can hit up to 3 times. Chie is also the only party member to learn the Counter skills, which have a 10%, 15%, or 20% chance (depending on rank) to reflect any physical attack back at the enemy. Chie also learns skills extremely quickly early on, learning 3 skills in four levels at one point.
However, while Yosuke's development slows down a bit in the middle of the game, Chie's basically runs screaming into a brick wall at 80 miles an hour. You didn't read that skill list wrong: Chie stops learning Ice magic skills with Mabufu and Bufula, making even her single-target magic damage completely worthless after level 40 or so. She doesn't learn a full-party buff like Yosuke, and single-target buffs are basically not worth the effort by the end of the game. Even worse, Chie doesn't even learn a single-target physical skill for nearly 30 levels after Black Spot. Her skills go from 2-4 levels apart to 6-10, and Heat Wave isn't even worth taking over Rampage. Even when she learns Power Charge (which does the same thing as Mind Charge, but for physicals), since her best single-target skill is still Black Spot for the next 15 levels, she won't do the same kind of damage as your magic users who will be learning their -dyne level spells at around the same time, and she has to sacrifice HP to use it.
That being said, Chie is entirely viable at the endgame, because the last two skills she learns are among the most powerful in the entire game. God's Hand is an immensely powerful single-target skill, and Power Charged God's Hand will be Chie's bread and butter against bosses for the rest of the game once she finally learns it at level 70. Agneyastra is the best multi-target physical skill in the entire game, except for two special ones that only Souji can get from very high-level Personas. Once Chie finally comes into her own, she's an absolute powerhouse and will even deal damage comparable to Souji's until he reaches high enough levels to fuse the most powerful Personas in the game.
Chie's endgame skill set is much easier to narrow down than pretty much every other teammate in Persona 4. She only needs her best single-target and multi-target physical skills, so God's Hand and Agneyastra are obviously keepers. Power Charge is of course vital to setting up God's Hand. Unlike the boost skills, the counter skills do NOT stack, so you only need to keep High Counter. Even though Chie's magic damage is worthless by the end of the game, her Ice magic is still useful for getting extra turns and setting up All-Out Attacks, so Bufula and Mabufu are skills 5 and 6. Those are really the only essential skills for Chie at the end, the other two are just the leftovers that aren't already made redundant by her important skills.
Overall, Chie is a huge asset in the endgame but takes her sweet fucking time getting there and just doesn't have the versatility of several other characters. She hits like a truck after learning God's Hand, but prior to that she's basically dead weight for 20 levels after Black Spot's damage starts to lag behind where she doesn't do even her one role well enough to be much of an asset. The worst part is that a simple rearrangement would do wonders for her development: ax Rainy Death since she learns the infinitely superior God's Hand just 3 levels later and replace it with a Tier 5 or 6 physical like Poison Arrow or Gigantic Fist in the levels between Power Charge and High Counter and she'd be worlds better in the midgame. She'll still do all right during dungeon crawls, since her regular attack is plenty powerful and her Ice magic can still knock down regular enemies even if the damage is insignificant. Still, against midgame bosses she just won't pull her weight, you're better off benching her after the July dungeon and bring her back once you have enough party members to form two teams for dungeon crawling. My final grade for Chie is a B-: no matter how good she is at the end of the game her skill set has such a massive period of obsolescence that I consider her one of the weaker party members in the game.
I'll have a detailed comparison between Chie and the second physical-based character once that person joins the team, in addition to their own Tactics Chat write-up. We also opened up a new link, so let's take a look at that too.
Arcana: Fool (0)
Opens automatically on April 17th, ranks up automatically with story events.
Personas: Izanagi (Lv. 1), Yomotsu-Shikome (Lv. 7), Obariyon (Lv. 13), Legion (Lv. 21), Ose (Lv. 31), Black Frost (Lv. 38), Decarabia (Lv. 46), Shiki-Ouji (Lv. 56)
Max Persona: Loki (Lv. 64)
Overall Focus: Appropriately for Fool's symbolism of infinite yet unfulfilled potential, this Arcana is one of the few without a consistent role for its Personas. It has some physical-heavy Personas, some casters, a couple focused on status effects, and one that is just completely fucking awesome.
Best Persona: Black Frost is not just the standout of the Fool Arcana, he's one of the absolute best Persona in the game, hands down. He doesn't learn a single bad skill, will be one of your first Persona with Mind Charge (unless you grind up a Jack Frost for a long time), and will be one of your earliest sources of a -dyne level spell. If that weren't enough: he has no weaknesses, absorbs both Fire and Ice, and reflects Dark, which is especially useful because it is one of the instant death types. He's an utter monster once you first get him and remains viable for nearly the entire midgame. I'm convinced that he had to be made this absurdly powerful intentionally, both to teach the player the value of special fusions and because you'll reach the level requirement to fuse him right around the time you'll be fighting what I consider to be one of the harder bosses in the game.
The Rest: Beyond Black Frost, Izanagi is a substantially better starting Persona than Orpheus from Persona 3, and Ose is a pretty good physical attacker who both resists physical (which is always nice) and is the earliest source of Power Charge (which is even nicer). Legion has Tentarafoo and learns Confuse Boost to give it a better chance of success, but is weak to Light attacks. Light is the other instant death element, and as in all SMT games death of the main character is an instant game over in Persona 4, so using Personas with a Light or Dark weakness is rarely worth the risk. But the biggest disappointment has to be Loki. Loki is good on paper: he learns a great set of skills, covers his weakness, and is the only Persona to learn Nifelheim, the most powerful Ice spell in the game. The problem is that advancement of Fool is tied to the plot, as previously mentioned, so by the time Fool maxes you'll be around 10 levels higher than Loki and already have Persona that are far better than him. If Loki were level 75 or so and had his stats raised accordingly (and maybe Rakukaja bumped up to Marakukaja), he'd be infinitely more useful.
Summary: Fool is an above-average Arcana pretty much solely because of Black Frost, but it doesn't matter a whole lot because you don't have to invest any time in it anyway. Izanagi's skill set is varied enough that you'll keep him around for a while, and Ose is a pretty good choice for the boss of the third dungeon, but everyone else is pretty unremarkable.