Tactics Ogre: the building blocks of an unstoppable army

This is the third post in my series on Tactics Ogre. Check out my impressions of the game’s (1) character profiles; (2) four things it does better than FFT (and one it doesn’t); (4) an unfortunate mishap later in the game; and (5) my verdict on the game.

 

In party-based RPGs, half the gameplay typically consists of combat and the other half consists of preparing for combat by designing an effective party. With its plethora of classes, skills and even non-human units, Tactics Ogre is no exception: party-building starts to feel a little like making a house out of Lego. 26+ hours in, I’ve built my team into the proverbial well-oiled machine (or should that be a Lego machine?), complete with a standard operating procedure that handles most foes without too much trouble.

 

The basic building blocks of my party would be familiar to any RPG player. Building block #1 is a row of heavily-armoured knights, projecting zones of control that slow enemy movement. But my real killing power lies with element #2 of my team, a row of archers. Ninjas rushing at me? Use archers to shoot them to bits before they can get off too many deadly melee attacks. Enemy knights? A little trickier due to their durability, but I’ve worn down many a level-boss knight with a rain of arrows.

 

One battle last night momentarily took me aback. This time around the boss was a terror knight, a sinister-looking melee class that specialises in inflicting debuffs. But they trade off durability to do so, making them much more vulnerable to archers compared to plain old knights. No, the issue was the other enemies. The shock troops leading the enemy charge weren’t knights. They weren’t ninjas. They were not human at all – they were dragons. And you won’t be surprised to hear that dragons are distressingly arrow-resistant.

 

Fortunately, I was prepared. Situations like this call for the next building block of my team: the mages whom I’ve built as debuffers par excellence. In short order, the nearest dragon was (temporarily) petrified. The second, and its javelin-lobbing handler, took a snooze. My knights and archers moved around their forms, and took up position ready for the boss. And when he came charging across the causeway, I had a mini-Agincourt waiting for him.

 

Oh, the resulting engagement didn’t go 100% according to plan. There was a moment of panic when one of the incapacitated dragons (‘temporarily’ petrified indeed!) blasted my back-row wizard and archer with a gust of flame. But it was simple enough to put the dragon back to sleep, and after that, my archers (and one crossbowman) could return to the boss. Soon enough, it was mission accomplished, using more or less standard RPG classes and tactics.

 

But Tactics Ogre offers more choices than just standard RPG classes and tactics. Here’s one example – that crossbowman I mentioned? He’s a member of a winged species, and his ability to fly around the battlefield makes him an indispensable party building block all by himself. On urban stages, he can just drop down on a rooftop vantage point, or get around a corner to take aim at an enemy from behind. Even in the open field, it’s invaluable to have someone who can quickly reach the mages and clerics in the enemy back line.

 

Then there are various support classes I’d neglected at the time of that battle. One class in the game, “dragoons”, has a special anti-dragon skill, which presumably would have let me tackle the dragons head-on instead of putting them to sleep and bypassing them for the boss.

 

But wait, why would I want to play the dragon-slayer when I could recruit the dragons? That’s exactly what another class, beast tamers, can do. Sadly, I only had one beast tamer at the time, whose level was too low to recruit dragons (and probably so low that she’d have lasted about 10 seconds on the field). But given how much hassle dragons cause me every time they show up on the enemy side, I think it’s about time I add one to my own party.

 

There are so many more classes and units available, and I’m not even up to the endgame. Berserkers, hand-to-hand classes with a splash damage special ability, appear from the start of the game. I’m still levelling a katana-armed sword master, but so far his damage output is promising. If I added a golem to my team, it’d be well-nigh invincible against physical attacks, so that could allow it to replace my knights in the front row. Rogues… well, I’m not exactly sure what rogues do, but they’re there. Tactics Ogre gives you all these potential building blocks to play with, and more.

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to level up my beast tamers. I wonder how to say “if you can’t beat them, join them” in dragonish…

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5 Responses to Tactics Ogre: the building blocks of an unstoppable army

  1. Josh says:

    In Tactics Orge: The Knight of Lodis, I remember the individual units could get different badges earnt during battle. This had various passive buffs/debuffs, or served as gateways before opening up a new class for that person. Is there a similar feature in this iteration?

    Also, I remember in that game there was some other deep mechanism at work which was very complicated… Here it is

    http://www.gamefaqs.com/gba/468482-tactics-ogre-the-knight-of-lodis/faqs/17175

    I am glad to hear you are enjoying Tactics Orge. I’ve got the latest Final Fantasy Tactics A2 on my DS and to be honest, the game bores me to death. There are no tactics at all. I feel as though I’m going through a constant grind and a whole heap of busywork before I’ll reach the end of the game.

    • Peter says:

      Yikes, looks like your comment was caught by an overzealous spam filter — I’ve just rescued it!

      No, no badges this time around. You can customise your units in two main ways:

      1. By choosing, and levelling, their classes;

      2. By choosing their skills – each unit has its own pool of skill points and receives new skill points every time it goes into battle. These can make a really big difference! One time, I had a character in a generalist class cast a debuff spell with a 13% chance to hit. It didn’t work. Next, I had a mage, who had one or two debuff-enhancing skills, cast a spell (I can’t remember whether it was the same one), and he had something like an 80% or 90% chance to hit.

      That biorhythm mechanic sounds pretty arcane! I’m not aware of anything like that in Tactics Ogre… but that sounds like the kind of mechanic that the players, and the FAQ writers, wouldn’t discover for months or years.

      If you’re a fan of the genre, Tactics Ogre is definitely worth a look if you ever get the chance. The class balance isn’t perfect — archers are devastating — but even archers still need support from other classes. And you can get most of the necessary levels just from the story missions – I’ve only just started grinding in earnest and that’s because I’ve neglected a bunch of classes.

  2. Randy says:

    Dragoons are a lifesaver against dragons. Their dragon killing skill gives something like 5x damage against dragons, although it takes 50 tp so they need to get whacked a few times to charge it up.

    Rogues are actually very fun, too. They can use 1-handed bows and get a backstab skill, which give x4 or 5 when directly behind the enemy, a self-speed buff, and stealing, not to mention using tarots as traps. The only real problem is all their cool tricks are skills rather than passive abilities, so you have to choose which you want to use. But they are definitely a class that benefits from having a line of knights to duck behind and hide.

    And here’s a fun tactic to pull with your swordsmen–give them the highest knockback skill you can. When you use preempt, they’ll attack before the enemy (and a full attack, not 1/4 damage counter attack) and push them back, evading the attack entirely. But without a shield they are vulnerable to archers.

    • Peter says:

      Yeah, I now have a surplus of 1H sword and spear characters, so I’m debating whether to convert one into a dragoon. I can leave dragons alive if I rush the boss, or I can take them down by concentrating attacks, but it is tempting to just save myself that hassle.

      Rogues do sound interesting, and I’ve converted a surplus cleric into one. I’ve given her a crossbow, too — currently Canopus is my only crossbow user, and Arycelle and Sara provide me with ample firepower from conventional bows. I’ve just recruited my first dragon, too! Not looking forward to levelling them up from 1, though, but oh well.

      That is an awesome tactic to try with swordmasters! So far I only have access to knockback I, but I’ll be sure to try it with higher levels of knockback.

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