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Shield Of Doom

Mechanics Update 3: All About Skills

All right, since the next map introduces them, it's time to talk about skills.

Up to now we've used cards entirely for their movement and power, paying no attention to the skills they give you. This is because for some reason Sting thought the idea was too complicated for new players, then forgot to cater to people who've played the game before.

Now, skills can be used under the following conditions:
  • The union leader must use the weapon listed as the card's "Ace Type". So, if a card has swords as its Ace Type, then you'd be able to use it if Yggdra leads the union but not if Milanor or Durant or Nietzsche leads it. Enemies ignore this rule because they're cheaters.
  • The unit that wants to use the skill must also fulfill certain other qualifications that are listed on the card. Most skills can be used by anyone at any time, but some have time and/or class requirements.

Once those are fulfilled, you must have a full skill gauge. Then, and only then, may you actually use the skill.

There are two main types of skills, based on how they're activated.
  • X-type skills (B-type in the GBA version) are activated by holding X (or B) to charge them up, then releasing it. These skills have instantaneous effects.
  • O-Type (or A-type) skills are activated by holding Circle (or A), and have continuous effects. These skills will end after a certain amount of time has passed, if an enemy uses their skill, or if you release the button.

Enemies will always use their skill once their Rage bar is completely full if they qualify to do so.

Now, there are plenty of skills, but most of them can be divided into three broad categories:
  • Damage cards: The most basic types of skills are those that simply do damage. These usually have 7 movement, and their damage is based on the user's Tec (with the target's Gen subtracted from it). In the GBA version, these cards all just do Tec-Gen damage (in unit members) to the enemy unit, which was changed for the PSP version because this made them all universally terrible. Therefore, in the PSP version they all add a constant to your Tec and some also inflict status effects.
  • Geo cards: For whatever reason, whoever designed the cards severely over-valued the effects of terrain type. Geo cards are the most obvious example of this. They have 5 movement, anyone can ace them, and they work like damage cards except you can only use them if the enemy is in a specific type of terrain. In the GBA version the benefit of these things was supposed to be that they have lower movement than normal damage cards and thus can be used faster in battle. Of course, the fact that their benefit was supposed to be that they have less movement than other cards gives away their uselessness. The PSP version gives most of them a major damage boost...but fully half of them are only usable on maps with little or no combat anyway.
  • Class specials: Some cards can only be used by a specific class. These cards require you to use a unit with the weapon type used by the class that uses them to ace them, and they usually have more elaborate animations than other skills.

As a side note, if you use an elemental card against a unit that's weak to it, you'll do "fatal damage", instantly slaying every member of the unit except for the head. If the enemy is also down to just the head, it'll simply end the battle. The fatal damage effect will happen against enemies that are neutral to the element if you equip an item that boosts it, and using the skill against an enemy weak to the element in this state will do an "overkill", ending the battle instantly.

Now, here are the card skills I have access to at the moment:
  • Steal: Steals enemy's equipped item.
    • Ace type: Axe
    • Skill type: X
    • Success requirement: User's Tec must be greater than or equal to the target's Gen
    • Requirements: Milanor only
    • Notes: This gets you items without having to worry about enemies stealing them or you accidentally killing the target with the wrong guy. It also removes the effects of the items. Of course, with 12 movement, there's always the problem of killing the target before you get the skill off.
  • Bloody Claw: Defeats enemy head.
    • Ace type: Bow
    • Skill type: X
    • Success requirement: User's Tec must be greater than or equal to the target's Gen
    • Requirement: Assassin only; Night only
    • Notes: This card is amazing. Offing the enemy head prevents your opponent from using any of their own skills, doing flash attacks, or gaining rage bonuses to their power. If you kill the enemy with this in the PSP version, you also get a 30% "Bloody-Finish" bonus to your damage.
  • Shield Barrier: Receive no damage when activated.
    • Ace type: All
    • Skill type: O
    • Duration: Short
    • Requirement: None
    • Notes: Goodbye, game balance. It was nice knowing you. This card still lasts long enough to get you through most of the enemy's Rage, and if it's active when they use a skill then the skill won't work.
  • Flame: Fire damage to enemy, burns them.
    • Ace type: Rod
    • Skill type: X
    • Power: Tec+1
    • Status requirement: User's Tec must be greater than or equal to the target's Gen
    • Requirements: None
    • Notes: This is effective enough. Burning the enemy causes them to take some morale damage each turn until they extinguish themselves. Also, using this against two specific unit types can get you items.
  • Blizzard: Ice damage to enemy.
    • Ace type: Spear
    • Skill type: X
    • Power: Tec+2
    • Requirements: None
    • Special: If an Undine uses this card, she'll instead use Diamond Dust, which does the same amount of damage but also freezes all water on the map.
    • Notes: Just plain old damage. The water freezing effect is worthless, though.
  • Banish: Holy damage to enemy.
    • Ace type: Sword
    • Skill type: X
    • Power: Tec+2
    • Requirements: None
    • Notes: Not always useful, but there's at least one situation where I'll want this card.
  • Mind Change: Makes enemy join your side in battle.
    • Ace type: All
    • Skill type: X
    • Requirements: Enemy must be the same size and gender as you.
    • Notes: You'll gain a number of troops equal to your Tec minus the target's Gen. Also, the presence of Undines just makes this card silly.
  • Revolution: Defeats all enemies but the head.
    • Ace type: Sword
    • Skill type: X
    • Requirements: Valkyrie/Yggdra only, when only the head is alive
    • Special: All damage that had been done to the member you were damaging when you used this will be transferred to the head.
    • Notes: Situational, but I suppose you could use this to win quite a few battles you'd otherwise have no hope of winning. Also, it has 10 movement and that's always a good reason to use a card.
  • Sanctuary: Revives your fallen members.
    • Ace type: All
    • Skill type: X
    • Requirements: Noon only
    • Special: All revived members will start out with some damage, which is cumulative.
    • Notes: You'll revive as many members as you have stars of Tec. They'll be apparently made out of cardboard, though.
  • Refreshment: Recovers Morale and the Union's status.
    • Ace type: All
    • Skill type: X
    • Requirements: Noon only
    • Notes: Apparently you get 10% of each union member's morale back. This effect was added to the PSP version because the card was otherwise useless (there were only 3 status effects in that version) and there was no way to recover morale in-battle in the GBA version.
  • Mirage: Swaps enemy geography with yours.
    • Ace type: All
    • Skill type: O
    • Duration: Normal
    • Requirements: Noon only
    • Notes: See what I mean about terrain effects being overvalued? This card's next to useless outside of very specific situations, which will practically never happen when you use it.
  • Banshee's Cry: Lowers enemy ATK to 1 while activated.
    • Ace type: Sword
    • Skill type: O
    • Duration: Normal
    • Requirements: None
    • Notes: This is practically worthless right now, but will become more valuable as the game goes on and enemies have more than 2 or 3 Atk.
  • Rockfall: Rock damage to enemy, slows them.
    • Ace type: All
    • Skill type: X
    • Power: Tec+1
    • Status requirement: User's Tec must be greater than or equal to the enemy's Gen
    • Requirements: Enemy must be in wasteland.
    • Notes: This is the one Geo card that still works like a normal damage card. Slowing enemies makes them only able to move 1 space, but since they usually want to fight you and are already in a position to when you use this... At least wasteland terrain is relatively common?
  • Ace Guard: Protects Union from charges/counters.
    • Ace type: All
    • Skill type: X
    • Requirements: Union Leader only
    • Notes: This is obviously best in large battles, especially if you're outnumbered. Its movement of 4 means you can probably get it off in your first clash, too.

There's all the cards I have at this point. I'll document new ones as I get them.

Rest assured, there are plenty more cards to get (though not all of them are worth using).

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