In a game where most classes had roughly 300 HP at max level, the Medic's Immunize was the difference between most enemies hitting for 250 and for 25. Sadly, Heroes of Lagaardcut it out altogether (along with the Troubadour's Healing and Relaxing skills)
Immunize in the original game was broken due to a bug with how it handles elements. Normally, it should only affect Elemental Resistances, but for some reason, the physical damage types were treated as Elemental as well, and thus you have a powerful damage reduction buff, that when combined with the Protector's Defensive Formation and Elemental immunity shielding techs, allowed you to only take minimum damage during the final boss.
Once you get to the 5th Stratum, money is no longer a problem, as just close by the Warp pole is a mining point that can be mined without fear of being attacked and making thousands of En per run with a team of Survivalists with maxed out mining. Like with Immunize, future games nerfed the gathering skills to prevent this from happening again, on top of introducing the risk of an ambush during the gathering process to punish gathering-specialized parties.
Due to how the game triggers an ambush, it checks to see if character 1 triggers it, then character 2 and so forth, This means that a full team of survivalists with maxed out Ambush skill, will ambush 'everything' in the game, that includes the final boss and bonus bosses, and because Survivalists have multi-hit, that can hit 3 times at max level, you would often get down 3 hits per character x 5 characters x 2 full turns of combat for a total of 30 attacks, before the enemies or bosses could hit you even 'once.' this build is a glass cannon though and takes some grinding.
Heroes of Lagaard
When the developers were rebalancing things for HoL, they boosted some previously-useless skills - a bit too much, in some cases.
The Hexer skill Revenge was boosted to deal 255% of the damage the Hexer had taken for only 19 TP once mastered, which means a Hexer with items to boost max HP, 1 HP left, and enough AGI to move first can be devastating.
To elaborate: Revenge deals set damage depending on how much HP a Hexer has lost, ignoring enemy's defense, resistance, immunity, etc.; if a hexer can deal 1000 damage to a mook, they can deal that much damage to a Boss. In Heroes of Lagaard, not only was Revenge's strength buffed, the HP of FOEs and bosses are generally lower, with greater defense to compensate. In HoL, the highest HP among non-Final Boss or Bonus Boss is around 3000-4000, but said bosses have a massive amount of defense. With proper equipments and setup, Hexers can dish out between 1500 to 2000 damage per Revenge. A Boss Fight using other classes can last 10 turns or even longer, while Hexers can happily wipe out a boss in possibly two hits.
While not as conveninent, a Hexer with Evil Eye and Suicide can command the enemy to attack itself instead of the party, allowing the player to attack an enemy without worry of being hit. There's also Betrayal, which forces all terrified enemies to attack each other. Adding in Relapse, it's possible to cripple an enemy for the rest of the battle.
The Dark Hunter's Climax was similarly buffed up. Once mastered, it kills any enemy vulnerable to instant death with less than 55% of its HP (previously, it only had a 20% chance of working, even when mastered). Most bosses are immune to Climax, but F.O.E.s aren't; having Climax mastered essentially halves the duration of any F.O.E. encounter.
A War Magus' Cursecut can drain TP from an enemy that's been cursed (best done with a Hexer, which, as mentioned above, is a Game Breaker in and of itself). War Magi can also transfer their TP to other characters by the use of their Transfer skill. With this combo, you have potentially limitless TP. A shame that this is pretty much all that a War Magus is good for...
In addition, the Hexer's Torpor immensely aids the War Magus' Sleep Cut, allowing the party to deal pretty massive damage while the enemies are asleep.
Force skills in general could be fairly severe Game Breakers. The Gunner's guarantees that you'll stun an enemy for that turn and the Protector's negates all damage and status effects for one turn, for example. The Dark Hunter's is guaranteed to go last in the turn, but will bind any enemy, including bosses, preventing them from using their skills (though some exceptions exist). That enemy can waste a turn trying to use a skill that requires the bound limb. At the end of the game, it's possible to use them every turn by dedicating two characters to feeding the Force skill users Axcelas. However, not only do they cost a lot, but also require plenty of materials in order to buy them.
Dampen, which is another Hexer skill, applies a debuff that neutralizes the target's resistances and immunities the moment a single point is invested in it. Depending on the target or the party build, applying this can pretty much double your party's damage output. Further investment will begin to force the target to take increased damage from everything they're not already weak to. The drawbacks are that it doesn't stack with Frailty, a stronger defense debuff for amplifying neutral hits, has a terrible speed modifier, and certain bosses react adversely to its effects, but other than that it becomes very handy in attaining conditional drops.
The Drowned City
The infamous Warrior's Might team, which uses a Gladiator/Shogun and two Shogun/Buccaneers. The Gladiator's class ability and self-buff skills give it some of the highest damage output in the game, and its Shogun subclass lets it use Warrior's Might, a chaser skill that makes it follow up every party member's attack with one of its own. This would normally be balanced by the party limit of five (six with a Ninja's Bunshin), especially since some members will be too busy healing, guarding other members, or maintaining buffs to attack. However, the Shoguns' class ability, Second Sword, lets them dual wield weapons, and their Buccaneer subclass gives them Swashbuckling, which lets them attack 2-4 times per weapon when using normal attacks—and Warrior's Might treats every single normal attack as a separate attack and has no upper limit on how many times it can chase attacks. Throw in a bunch of offensive buffs and defensive debuffs from your other party members, and you can perform 8-16 chase attacks to inflict as much as 40,000 HP of damage on the final boss in one turn.
The Ninja/Zodiac TP battery. The Ninja's class ability, Keburi no Sue, cuts its skill TP requirements by up to 9 points. Subclass to Zodiac and you can use the Dark Ether skill to allow a row of characters to use skills at no TP cost—this would normally cost 10 TP, but with Keburi no Sue, this goes down to the minimum of 1 TP. Now you can spam your party's strongest skills constantly at a cost of just 1 TP per turn. Want to have a pair of Zodiacs nuke the enemy with 60 TP Meteors every turn? Want your Gladiator to use the above Warrior's Might combo every random battle? Now you can!
Legends of the Titan
The Dancer's bottommost dancing skills - Fan Dance, Sword Dance, and Mist Dance. These passive skills give an increased dodge chance, the ability to hit multiple times in a single attack, and the chance to stun an enemy upon connecting with a normal attack. It only takes three skill points to unlock Sword Dance, compared to the sixteen (at least eight of which are dumped in a useless skill regardless of what weapon you use) it took to unlock its predecessor Swashbuckling in The Drowned City. Dancers are also able to use a different skill to make allies in the same line follow up on their attacks, meaning it's possible to have your entire front line attack multiple times per turn.
Want to crank the fun Up to Eleven? Give them the Nightseeker subclass and make them Dual Wield. The multiple attacking can trigger both weapons individually. If you have Sword Dance maxed, your Dancer can potentially attack eight times per turn. By the way, did we mention that the Dancer is both a buffer and healer?
Flip it around and it's still very potent. The maximum number of hits are not as high due to the lower skill point cap on Sword Dance, but each secondary hit can do more damage due to the higher Blade Flurry cap. If the primary weapon can also inflict ailments on normal attacks, all the better, as the Nightseeker passives will proceed to at least double the damage of all subsequent hits once an ailment lands!
The secret class Imperials in Legends of the Titan count as well. They're restricted to using only one type of weapon (they can't equip a subweapon alongside their class-specific weapon) but are capable of dealing thousands of damage without attack buffs. To balance the class, they're given a few cooldown turns until they're allowed to use it again. However, they can use two skills to cool down their weapon (which deals damage as well) and then use an attack that charges up their next turn's attack power (which more than doubles their power even without the skill maxed), which happens to be the same turn they're allowed to use the powerful skills again. If an enemy somehow manages to survive a few of those attacks, there's even a skill that removes the cooldown time for three turns and immediately cools down their weapon after a certain amount of overheats occur in a battle, allowing the character to deal massive damage without any drawback for three turns.
Want to jack up the damage even more? Give them a Runemaster subclass. Elemental Runes can actually create weaknesses in enemies that otherwise take neutral damage, and Runic Flare raises damage when you strike a weakness. The result: an incredibly powerful elemental Drive attack.
Once a Nightseeker hits high enough level to be able to use Venom Throw, maxing it out allows them to inflict a poison status that does a fixed 700 damage every turn for several turns, enough to make a large dent in even most bosses' HP. Combine this with Spread Throw and Auto-Spread which allows them to hit every enemy with the next 2 throw skills and a chance to use said skill for free at the beginning of the battle, and they can take out most random encounters in a single turn with very little TP used. If you then give them Arcanist as a subclass, you can not only use one of their passive abilities to increase the chance of landing the poison status on even strongest enemies, but also gain back any TP you spend to use the move if the poison sticks on at least a single enemy thanks to their TP Return.
The offensive passives given by the Bushi make them a staple subclass for anyone focused on dealing damage, seeing that these skills give a massive bonus with minimal skill point investment. With a single point, their Blood Surge gives a long-lasting buff that doesn't consume a buff slot, drains miniscule amounts of HP and TP per turn, and gives a 45% damage bonus. And that's before we factor in Charge, Defiance or their own Power Boost. Never mind the Bushi's own attack skills - imagine all these damage multipliers stacked on an Imperial!
The Sniper's Squall Volley. This attack at max level can hit anywhere from 6-16 times, with low accuracy. However, if an enemy is inflicted with the Paralyze, Blind, or Panic Status, or has their legs bound, their evasion rate basically turns off. Snipers have easy access to leg bind with their natural skill set, along with the ability to inflict critical hits and raised critical chance against enemies with binds. What this amounts to is a ridiculous number of hits on the enemy, at least half of them being criticals. Oh, and all this can proc more follow-ups with a Landsknecht's Link skills.
The Millennium Girl
Hexers break the game again with Stoning Curse, an extremely reliable petrification spell (which instantly kills the target) against normal enemies with a low TP cost. Unless there's a massive group of enemies that require Evil Eye, Stoning Curse is all a Hexer needs to use outside of F.O.E. fights and boss battles.
Speaking of Evil Eye, it got buffed from its previous incarnations. Instead of just targeting one enemy at a time, it targets a row of them. Curses increasing ailment chance make it more reliable as well, so Hexers become even more powerful than they were before.
Dark Hunter is, for the most part bar none the strongest offensive class in the game.
Viper covers their early game. At level 10, and boosted, almost everything is vulnerable to the poison effect, and its easy to apply to anything, even bosses, and it does absurd damage due to its insane multiplier, almost dealing 4 digits of damage when the other potential party member struggles to be half as powerful. And due to Good Bad Bug, Viper could bypass Golem's self reviving effect, significantly reducing the duration of the fight.
Ecstasy, the Signature Move of the Whip skillset is obscenely effective. At level 10, an Ecstasy with no bound parts is just as powerful as 1 bound parts, and it just become much stronger with 2 or 3 bound parts. Used alone, Ecstasy is already one of the most powerful physical offensive skill in the game. At its maximum potential, its far and away the strongest offensive skill in the game with the possible exception of Land Slash.
Wrath Might increases your offensive power by 40% whenever the Dark Hunter is low on HP and this can be stacked further with the Grimoire mechanic. All of this combined result in Dark Hunter being by far the strongest damage dealer in early, mid, and late game.
The Gunner skill Action Boost. It allows you to take any action twice (three times if you level it up enough) for your next turn, but Action Boosted skills still require TP for each use. The game breaker is, provided the skill that triggers it is increased by Boost, all attacks in that chain are boosted. This allows you to fire off multiple powerful, Boosted skills (such as Ricochet) without any drawback, as long as you have enough TP. With some manipulation, you can easily get Ricky buffed, then have her unload multiple successive skills at once.
Mastery of the Grimoire system (most likely via the item duplication glitch to spam Hunting Horns) will significantly augment any party's power. For instance, spreading the Alchemist's Formula Mastery around can boost elemental damage for other members of the party. Most notable use? Giving the above-mentioned Action Boost to all your offensive party members.
If a character equips a Grimoire that bestows a passive that they already have invested in, the game compounds the bonus offered by the highest level among both skills. This means that a character with a level 10 Mastery skill equipping a level 1 Mastery Grimoire stone will have a little over double the boost from a level 10 Mastery skill alone. This passive stacking ability is most noticeable with Weapon Mastery skills (except Sword), and results in a potent increase in combat performance once exploited.
A number of the King Grimoire skills (Grimoires dropped from certain bosses, with unique skills). The most obvious is Phoenix Wings from Iwaoropenelep, which allows the entire party to move before all enemies; combined with stuns or other status effects, it can lock down enemies before they can even attack. Wolf Pack from Fenrir is also great, giving a massive damage boost on the turn it's used, and Yggdra Vaccine protects the party from ailments — great for throwing That One Attack when it's being telegraphed. The only counterbalancing factor is the sheer luck or effort needed to attain these skills due to the process being a Guide Dang It!, but when you get one, its power can trivialize most of the game.
With proper knowledge of the mechanic, and a little bit of luck, it is possible to get a number of powerful skills from bosses that will make subsequent difficult segments of the labyrinth a lot easier. Some notable examples are Hurricane Punch, and Flood for early parts of the game, and Burning Ray, and Tendril Thrash for late game. In the postgame you can access the extremely powerful Elemental Torrents as well. The catch about these moves are, by knowing how the boss pattern works, you can consistently get them on your grimoire at an acceptable level.
Efficiency, available on Survivalists, passively doubles the strength of all HP and TP restoration items at max level. Combined with the Survivalists' high innate speed and they can easily be better healers than Medics as long as inventory space permits it. Somaprimes heal the party for 320 HP, Hamaoprimes restore 400 HP and 80 TP, and Amrita IIs restore a whopping 200 TP. Get it on a Grimoire and you can enjoy boosted item healing regardless of who's doing it. It's so strong that subsequent games nerfed this (and similar) skill's... efficiency, with the Fafnir Knight changing it to a buff and watering down its strength, and Beyond the Myth only having it affect HP restoration aspects of items.
The Fafnir Knight
The cafe option added to the game in terms of money grinding. Tired of waiting for your spoils as you keep doing stuff at the labyrinth? Go find a room with no encounters, place an auto-walk path, and leave it there for 12 hours or so. Your money earnings will amass quickly.
Want to generate vast amounts of experience? The Strong Clover Tea, brewed from one of the Yggdra Bud rare drops, not only triples your experience gain, but allows for experience gain for your other Guild members not in the active formation. And yes, this multiplier is also applied to experience gained from completing story missions and sidequests.
The titular hero of Story himself, due to his transformations. It's saying something when a common complaint about him is that he's so powerful that the other party members are completely overshadowed in the offense department that they aren't even needed as attackers at all. And if that doesn't explain how powerful he is, he can kill the Bonus Boss in one turn.
Accelerate is a charge skill that gives the transformed Fafnir the ability to fire off three attacks in rapid succession the next turn. There are many, many ways to exploit this to ruin your enemies with ease, and is the sole reason why the Fafnir is so strong. While you can only use this skill once per Transformation session, if you use Force Reset to cancel your transformation and get enough Force Gauge to reactivate your Force boost, you get to use it again. And yes, this stacks beautifully with the Gunner Skill Grimoire for Double Action.
Careful usage of Limit Break, Force Reset, and Extend can allow a Fafnir to cheerfully get Accelerate off, hit thrice, then Extend his Force boost for more attacks, before Force Resetting to cancel his transformation and saving his Force Boost gauge. With proper Force management and the (ab)use of Fafnir Grimoires, it is possible, with extremely-minmaxed Limit Break and Force Reset, to get off three consecutive Transforms off a 200% force gauge during a long fight, although in most cases the enemy will be annihilated before you even need to Force Reset even once. Want to take this even further? Your Fafnir can use elemental attacks that will happily set off Element Chaser Landschnekts and Link Order Sovereigns, so Accelerating at the right moment can mean extra Chasing hits from your Landschnekt.
The Fafnir's Force Break, Akashic Nova, scales with the user's experience level and can be made even more powerful by the Compression skill from an Alchemist due to its elemental nature. Want to see you Fafnir happily hit five-digit damage? It is easy.
Resonance is a self-charging attack that reaches full power if not used for 3 consecutive turns, and when used at that state it can easily reach quadruple digit damage. What can be done during those other three turns? Using a charge skill just before Resonance hits full power, for instance. It's one of the Fafnir's best damage skills before he begins to access the better parts of his transformation. And since it's a blade skill that works for katanas and swords, it can be recorded in a Grimoire Stone and given to a Landsknecht, Ronin, or Dark Hunter, so they too can enjoy its incredible damage output in Classic Mode.
Absorb is a skill that allows the Fafnir to cancel any binds and ailments on him, raising his Force gauge in the process. Not only is it a powerful skill for his self-sufficiency, it can be passed by Grimoire to everyone else too, to ensure they can quickly shrug off most debilitating Boss- or FOE- inflicted status attacks. Also, it doesn't require any body parts to use, so your party can easily break out of the dreaded triple-bind.
The War Magus' Ailing Slash. Not only does it deal an obscene amount of damage at high levels, it ignores resistances, so it's a viable skill in nearly every situation.
Their Barrier skill becomes a defensive staple. It functions similarly to Yggdra Vaccinenote 1-turn immunity to ailments, a Purposefully Overpowered King Grimoire skill in The Millennium Girl, only stronger, though counterbalanced with an activation limit and middling trigger chance at lower levels. But once you push it to max level and support it with max War Lore Mastery, your entire party effectively becomes immune to the first ailments, binds and debuffs for a turn, and its failure rate becomes almost negligible. It is not uncommon to see a single party member constantly throwing up Barrier when they don't need to use any support skills. Even better: if you double up on Barrier with a Grimoire and push it to Level 20, it becomes very reliable with a base 85% success rate, which is easily raised to 100 with a maxed War Lore Mastery. The skill was so vital that its parallels in Beyond the Myth have conditions that prevent them from being so easily spammable.
Crusade. The Troubadour's Force Break multiplies any damage done that turn by 1.5. This wouldn't seem so bad... if the use of other skills from the Troubadour can cause your damage to reach insane levels.
Troubadours in general in this game are pretty overwhelming. The game imposes a much more punishing form of Diminishing Returns for Balance to prevent the player from exploiting buff-stacking for ludicrous amounts of damage. However, it classes the Troubadours' Fantasia skills as an elemental resistance modifier, different from attack or defense buffs. This means they don't get gimped when combined with other buffs, allowing elemental damage to reach new heights. This also compounds with Crusade above, which, due to its status as a Force Break, is also exempt from diminishing returns.
On the topic of Fantasias, the Sovereign's elemental Circles work akin to Fantasias (raising the party's resistance to an element while weakening the enemy's to the same element), do not occupy a buff slot, but only last a turn. In the Japanese version of the game, if multiple party members use it, the effects stack, and this tactic, in addition to the above, is what allows the Fafnir Knight to take down the Bonus Boss in one turn. The stacking does not apply in non-Japanese releases, though.
Hexers still break the game with their crippling status ailments. Only this time, they have their Force Boost — Creeping Curse — which triples their ailment/bind accuracy. This effectively gives them a near-guaranteed ability to inflict any ailment or bind they can get their hands on, on top of their absurd Luck growth and innate ailment accuracy boosting from Curse Mastery and Curb ATK Up. This crazy ailment accuracy gets insane with the following skills...
Venom Curse alongside the food that doubles poison damage dealt. Firstly, the curse is a line spell, which allows it to hit multiple targets. Second, the damage is fairly large at higher levels, while the TP cost is actually fairly low. Third, it's surprisingly extremely accurate without investing any points into Curb Attack Up or Curse masterynote Both of them improve your success rate of making binds and statuses stick due to a lot of enemies - bosses even - being weak to Poison, while their Force Boost (or the Highlander skill, Blood Fortune) is enough to make it work reliably even on things that resist it. The only thing that prevents it from ripping the game in half similar to Revenge in the original is that everything is a Damage Sponge. For perspective, at the regular Level 10 skillcap Venom Curse has about 60 base accuracy, which shoots up to 85 at level 20, with the help of a Level 10 grimoire in Venom Curse. With a Hexer's naturally high Luck and the copious use of Grimoires to push Curse Mastery and Curb Attack Up past level 10, you can easily make Venom Curse (and other status/bind curses) terrifyingly reliable with a base damage of 310 that is doubled by the food buff that increases poison damage to 620, certainly enough to kill or severely weaken enemies in the first 4 stratums easily while taking large chunks out of FOEs and Bosses and enemies that aren't immune from the later stratums.
Stigmata is a Highlander skill that attempts to bind parts of the user's body before replicating the same binds on an enemy. On a Highlander, it's useless due to their terrible Luck stat. When given to a Hexer via a Grimoire Stone, you can fully bind bosses with ease, especially if this is backed up with the Creeping Curse. If it fails, just try again — Stigmata requires no unbound body parts to execute! And because you've fully bound a boss, a Dark Hunter using Ecstasy while under their Force Boost can deal tens of thousands of damage!
Rare Grimoires can have powerful secondary passives that contribute to your staying power in battle or make you more effective. Status/Bind Chance Up attributes stack beautifully on Hexers, Survivalists, and Dark Hunters, TP recovery skills add more staying power to your ability to keep spamming attacks, and Elemental Damage Up (Fire/Ice/Volt/Slash/Pierce/Bash) attributes help you minmax your strength to new levels. Even though the bonus is miniscule (6% at best for damage/ailment bonuses) they are additive if combined, resulting in an impressive 36% passive bonus that isn't impeded by diminishing returns for buffs.
Grimoire Stones from visiting legendary adventurers have additional effects that are unavailable anywhere else. TP Cost Recovery gives a 25% chance of fully regaining TP expended for a skill, giving some very good battle stamina if you roll well with it. Auto-Heal gives the user a chance to heal half their max HP when taking a hit, allowing great sustainability for a Beast who's Taking the Bullet. Pair that up with Heal Amp that boosts the amount of healing one receives, and a Beast can turn Nigh Invulnerable by effortlessly healing off whatever damage they're taking.
In a similar vein to Action Boost from The Millennium Girl, Gunners now have a passive skill, Double Action, which gives the character a chance to use their attacking skills twice in a row. This stacks with the Gunner's own Action Boost (which is now their Force Boost), letting them fire off an attack skill 3 times. But the fun doesn't stop there - Double Action can be passed around through Grimoire Stones, and if it triggers on a skill boosted by a charge skill (which nearly every class learns in one form or another), that second skill also gets that attack boost. Give it to the Fafnir Knight, whose damage output is already ludicrous on his own, and watch him heavily dent bosses with a bit of luck.
Alchemists learn Compression, which temporarily makes their multi-targeting elemental attacks become single-target only in exchange for making them hit harder. Compression works with the Elemental Attack Jars, consumable battle items. Elemental Attack Jars have a specific Forest Cuisine meal from Regina's cafe that increases their damage even more. With Level 20 Compression, a compressed Flame/Frost/Volt Jar (The tier 2 elemental jars that attack all enemies when used) hits harder than any elemental attack in the game (except a compressed Akashic Nova, but then that is a Force Break), even the mighty Flame/Frost/Volt breath Monster skill Grimoires.
Beyond the Myth
Hell Slash is essentially a stronger Warrior's Might. It has its drawbacks in that the initiator has to abandon all armour for maximum damage output, the number of chases is capped, and it can chase enemy attacks, but 2400% damage from the physically strongest race with the strongest weapon class is nothing to scoff at. And this is before factoring in effects like the Pugilist's buff and the damage you've done from your other attacks.
Necromancers under the Spirit Broker title can learn Zombie Powder, that instantly kills an enemy and summons a Wraith with health equal to that enemy's HP, capped at 9999. Normally this wouldn't break anything, since wraith-using skills are the same strength regardless of their health, except the Spirit Broker also has Fair Trade, that deals damage equals to a wraith's remaining HP. And it just so happens that the 4th stratum has an FOE with over 10,000 HP that is also weak to instant death, making it very easy to summon Wraiths at the health cap. This makes it possible for a Necromancer to do just shy of 30,000 damage to any one enemy over three turns, which dramatically shortens boss fights and can even allow parties to defeat bosses way earlier than they are expected to. In normal dungeon crawl sessions, the high-health Wraith makes for a nigh-impenetrable wall when used with Fierce Shield. The drawback, though, is actually walking all the way to the boss in question, since there is no Floor Jump to shorten the journey and returning to town causes Wraiths to disappear.
Is the 4th stratum too far away for the deeper reaches of the labyrinth? Did you run out of fodder there? The 6th stratum has a FOE that creates clones of itself, and it has no instant death resistance. As long as the original FOE is not defeated, it will keep spawning clones which you can constantly fight for a large amount of experience, as opposed to needing to wait several in-game days for the usual FOE respawn. Also, its drops (which you'll have plenty of, no doubt) sell for a pretty penny, and can even be used to forge a katana that recycles into Gold Shards. Happy farming!
Shamans are really slow in gaining power having very limited options in the beginning of the game, and huge costs for their prayers. Once you gain enough points, they, especially their Divine Herald title, can easily prove to be the best support class in the game. Building powerful buffs, consistent party wide healing, and the ability to nearly nullify binds and ailments in later stages, the Shaman has the easiest time supporting the party.
If the passive healing proves to be too weak for one's tastes, the Shamans are Brouni by default, and they have the Herbology passive skill, which increases the HP restoration of healing items by 50%. Soma is fairly easy to obtain, so they can keep healing the party for 120 HP as long as inventory space permits it. If the party they support has sufficient damage output, Split Spirits allows them to effectively refill their own HP for as little as 3 TP and only for a couple of skill points once the skill itself is unlocked.
Dance Oracle is a Basic skill for Shamans, meaning they can access it regardless of their specialization, and it dispels an elemental buff from the Shaman to deal damage of the matching element, while reducing enemies' resistance against said element for the turn. The damage is unimpressive, but the element resistance reduction is the most important aspect of this skill, bypassing the usual Diminishing Returns for Balance limitations on buffs and debuffs and can result in incredible elemental burst damage.
Pugilists are one of the strongest classes in the game. Their access to binding skills can save the party's life from time to time, but their other skills can do incredible damage:
Overexertion is easily one of the strongest buffs in the game. Sure, it only affects a single party member and they lose health on taking any action (up to 50% of their current HP at max level), but when maxed out, it doubles that party member's attack. Stack on something like Power Charge — a skill available on a katana which is, again, a weapon restricted to the Masurao — and you can easily reach ludicrous numbers, be it through Hell Slash or Sword God's critical hits.
Death's Edge is essentially a revised Revenge Curse. It gets a damage multiplier depending on how low each surviving party member's HP is, which can stack with Fortitude, a passive skill which boosts damage done while HP is under a certain threshold, and the aforementioned Overexertion. Careful utilization of damage tiles (which can never kill, only leaving members at 1HP) can result in damage that can one-shot the Bonus Boss! The issue is keeping a party of One Hit Point Wonders together until they can get there, but the result is high-risk, immense-reward.
For the risk-averse, Titan Killer still offers very good damage output provided the user is at a lower HP percentage than the target. With Overexertion constantly draining the user of half their current HP for each action, it's almost guaranteed that Titan Killer will hit for maximum damage whenever it's used, taking out large chunks of HP and shortening boss battles dramatically.
Chain Duelist Fencers have Chain Killer, a Chain skill that chases the affliction of Status ailments and binds. Since it is not always easy to apply mass binds/ailments (on top of Chain Killer triggering just once if you bind multiple parts in a single move e.g. Clinch), Chain Killer hits about 4 times as hard compared to Elemental Chains. With application of a Harbinger's Wilting Miasma and the Black Mist Union, as well as setting up the Chain Duelist with Chain Plus/Chain All and maybe some extra buffs, you can then unload status/bind jars on enemy formations to exploit Chain Killer to its fullest. Coupled with passives that let Chain activations hit twice, as well as follow-up on enemies and get stronger with every successive hit/activation, it is entirely possible to kill even superbosses with a Chain Duelist quickly.
Combining several of the above is the Triple-Necro Party. It consists of a Blade Dancer Masurao with Hell Slash, a Dragoon to keep your wraiths from taking too much damage, a Spirit Broker Necromancer who can create strong wraiths and use Fierce Shield, and two Spirit Evoker Necromancers who can use Grave and Wraith Dance. The general idea is that you use Fierce Shield on one of your quadruple-digit HP wraiths to draw all attacks to it (and Dragoon's shield skills to make up for wraiths' low defense), then use a combination of Grave and Wraith Dance, which will make all three summoned wraiths triple-counterattack whatever enemy attacks the first wraith. You then have the Blade Dancer use Hell Slash, which will chase each of those numerous attacks for even more massive damage.
Cannon Bearer Dragoon have the skill Buster Cannon, a charged move that deals massive amounts of Fire and Bash damage after a one turn delay. On top of being nearly unresisted by everything in the game, the power of the skill comes from the various amounts of ways to stack a huge amount of damage multipliers to the skill, allowing it to dish out fantastic amount of burst damage, enough to finish off the vast majority of bosses in the game in few rounds of combat. Being both Elemental and Physical, it can be buffed by every damage buff in the game, including Overexertion and Dance Oracle. Gun Revenge allows the Cannon Dragoon to collects stacks of damage boost whenever it performs their guarding duty through shield skills (which includes the Aegis Shield Union Skill) or Bunkers. Cannon Dragoon comes with Prep Artillery which increases the damage of the next cannon skills by 2.5x at max level, and being a charge skill, the damage boost stacks multiplicatively with both Dance Oracle and every buff and debuff used to boost the damage. Throw this together and you have one of the simplest and strongest options available to destroy the vast majority of FOE's and Boss Fights in the game provided you have enough defensive measure to cover the team for the 3 turns it need to charge up Buster Cannon.
Cannon Bearer Dragoon also have a fantastic utility in random battles. On top of the solid defensive skillset alvailable on the base Dragoon skill tree, Rapid Cannon have absolute priority attached to 400% Ranged damage modifier allowing it to outspeed even Rare Breed mobs while doing enough damage to snipe dangerous enemies with crippling ailments from the get go, and able to be boosted by Prep Artillery to snipe tankier mobs, and Hypno Cannon is a slow cannon skill with 100% base chance to inflict Sleep making it one of the most useful tool to lock down FOE giving your free turns to buff up to set up a massive damage burst, or just plain instant-gib it with the Harbinger's Fatal Reap (which has a high instant-kill chance against sleeping enemies).
Once you get the Master Key (which becomes available halfway through the 4th stratum), you can access a secret area in the 1st stratum which contains an item called the Training Orb. Said item, once equipped, grants you free experience points each time you take a step in the labyrinth. Oh, and by the way, this game has a feature that lets you draw a path and have your party automatically follow it. And the areas that contain bosses don't have any random encounters, so you can just go there, draw a looping path, turn on auto-walk, set your 3DS down, and come back 20 minutes later to a party that's just 1 experience point away from levelling up. The fact that you cannot gain that last experience point just from walking puts a small limit to the item's overpoweredness, but it still essentially eliminates all level grinding for the sufficiently patient.
Etrian Mystery Dungeon
The Sovereign Class' skills will add +3 Strength to a character that their Arms skills are used on before subtracting that amount when the skill wears off. However, due to an oversight in coding, this does not apply to stacked casts. If a Sovereign were to cast Fire Arms 10 times on a character, for instance, the game would add +30 to that character's strength before taking away 3. This would cause that character's Strength to be permanently raised by 27. And this can be exploited as much as you want.
Provoke. Enemies will unconditionally go after the Protector when this skill is activated, even if they can't reach said character. This can lead to situations where a frail Runemaster and Hexer are standing between a DOE and the Protector, murdering it, while the monster itself is just standing there and trying to get past the two squishy characters without attacking.
The Protector class itself counts as this, because their defense amplified by certain skills can easily become high enough to effectively nullify most monsters' attacks while taking them all for the team. Theoretically, this would be counterbalanced by their low TP, but for only 3 skill points of investment, they can heal 5 TP with every hit they receive, making even that disadvantage moot.