View Full Version : Mercenary: The Advanced Stuff

January 20th, 2017, 01:59 AM
For basic Mercenary stuff, refer to this other guide (https://forum.subagames.com/showthread.php?t=83972). If you are curious or plan to be a late-game tank, maybe this guide can help.

This guide in particular will cover the usage of Mercenary in the higher levels, particularly tanking. A bit of a disclaimer though: the odds of you tanking in the 50+ range is low. Still, if you wanna be the rare tank or just want to make full utilization of forms as a support, there you go.

Forms and Their Mechanics

To start off, I'm sure you know that formations are stronger the more people in the party that are nearby, right? What if I told you there's a little trick to them? See, there is a range where people can get forms, and a range where people can still contribute to a form's power. The receiving range is rather short, but the contribution range is about as large as the exp sharing range. Thus, if someone is too far away to receive exp (indicated by a yellow exclamation mark if there is no level gap), they won't be able to contribute to forms. This knowledge is great to have in case you want to give people different forms.

Badly Drawn Visual example:

On to the forms themselves!

Goose Formation: Provides attack and movement speed, but reduces defense. This is a risky form to cast in the low levels, because losing 3-4 defense can actually make a difference. However, the defense reduction scales poorly. -12 defense at level 57? That's hardly a significant con at that point. It makes sense to use Goose when you and your team need to move fast. Movement speed becomes rather important late game. But pre-50, avoid using this form, at least to prevent your teammates from yelling at you.

Circle Formation: Provides a large amount of defense, but reduces movement speed. And what would Goose be without its opposite? This is a great form for the low levels, as most low leveled mobs are extremely slow to the point that losing -5 movement speed doesn't mean much. However, it eventually gets outshined by Snake Formation, because that form works well both offensively and defensively. Plus, in situations where you want to move as fast as possible, Circle actually brings you down. But pre-50, it is a form you should be using, at least to prevent your teammates from yelling at you.

Dustpan Formation: Provides magic defense. You most likely will be getting this to get Crane Formation at the low levels, since the hot leveling spots contain very little magic threats. Upon entering Flying Noisy Snake territory though, this is probably one of the best form you'll have. In content later on in the game, some bosses have extremely powerful magic attacks that Dustpan would be pretty useful for.

Arrow Formation: Provides a large amount of attack. If you're in no need to move fast, you might as well use Arrow, since it provides more attack than Goose. In low levels, you won't be using this very often, unless all of your AoEs are physical (pure fan) Dancers, or Fencers with crazy amounts of magic attack already. Post-50 this will be one of the most common formations since physical DPS scales better than magic DPS.

Snake Formation: Provides defense, block, and attack speed. Remember when I said Snake Formation works well as a defensive and offensive form? The attack speed gain is why. It has no movement speed con either. So if you don't want to lose movement speed in the later levels or have an attack speed DPS in your party, use this.

Crane Formation: Provides magic attack. You will be needing this in low levels, as most viable AoE jobs at that point are magic. Physical AoE outside of Dancer can still work, but it will be pretty resource heavy. Anyway, post-50 you'll be seeing this a lot less because physical DPS becomes king. Pre-50, you'll be using this 99% of the time.

It IS possible to max out all the formations before using Item Mall Springs/Occupation Spring Water and before rebirthing, but that would require the sacrifice of Wicked Windmill or one of the many Equips you'll have on Mercenary. Mock Monsters is too valuable to sacrifice.

With that being said, what should be your form priorities, based on level range?

10-30: Circle, Dustpan, Crane
30-50: Circle, Crane
50-60: Dustpan, Goose, Arrow, Snake
60-70: Goose, Snake, Arrow

Hopefully this has shown you that every form is useful, just in different scenarios/phases of the game.

Where's the Actual Tanking?

If you are dead set to tanking 50+, good luck. Even if you kept Mock Monsters and Windmill maxed out (or even want to take on a single monster with Taunt), you will have difficulty keeping aggro up, because:

A) AoE parties are 10x harder to do efficiently, so for exp to go efficiently, ALL your AoEs would have to be extremely well geared, which means they will need to do more damage, which means you won't be able to hold aggro as well
B) As a result people resort to single target DPS, which naturally means you'll have to deal with losing aggro from at least one monster.

Efficient DPS outscales aggro generation late game. As a result, you will become an off-tank, as the highest damage dealer will have to deal with being the main tank, which is fine because with well-geared armor of ANY kind, the DPS in question will be able to take the hits very well. This is, unfortunately, what you must deal with as a tank main. But if you like off-tanking, good for you! This is why most people will level their Mercenary as a DPS or a support.

The Benefits of Using a Golden/Platinum Spear

Most Spears are two-handed. However, the Holy Platinum Spear and Holy Golden Spear are both one-handed weapons, allowing you to equip a shield. This is important, because it enables the use of Better Blocker, a skill from the Axe tree. This will increase your Defense, at the cost of movement speed. HOWEVER, at levels 9 and 10, they will increase your movement speed instead, which is helpful. Getting this skill then, would require you to sacrifice an equip or some forms.

Speaking of which...

Is Axe Better in the End?

Late game, or at least in raids, an Axe would be more beneficial than a spear. Why? Odds are, there will be a support in your team that can utilize the Spear formations, so you trying to have formations would be slightly redundant, unless you plan to be in a separate party with just a doctor. But even then, stat wise, an Axe is better. Just don't use the Holy Golden Hammer; you can't equip a shield with that, which is the main selling point of an axe.

Furthermore, a double golded Axe provides auto attack reduction and increased heal received, while a double golded spear provides auto attack reduction and physical skill reduction. An Axe also gives you the ability to use Iron Curtain, a defense and magic defense steroid that can help you in a pinch. I like the idea of using an Axe for raid tanking better, for that heal increase. If all other portions of your gear are finished, the other reduction that spear provides won't mean much. Plus, true axes are still one-handed, allowing you to equip a shield, while true spears are still two-handed.

So when you boil it down, axe wins unless you are needed for forms. Might as well get both an axe and spear, although your main weapon should be an axe.

Stress Relief Subs

Tanking is hard. Here's helpful things!

Staff Attacks from Martial Artist - This is specfically for Channel Energy, which will increase your HP more massively than Prolong Life.
Power Attacks from Martial Artist - If you don't like Channel Energy, take this for Fortifying Force and/or Tranquil Turtle.

In other news, Martial Artist is arguably a better tank than Mercenary for late-game, mainly thanks to Regeneration 11. Now you know what job you should be leveling too! Of course, what job you'll be on depends on what skills you'll need the most.

Nature Magic from Shaman - Choking Climber. Need I say more? Don't think Malicious Mirror will be helpful, because according to skill reflect mechanics, you must stand still for the entire animation! Spring Cleaning can be nice if you somehow have MP issues. If DoT was actually good in this game, you could use Heatstroke and Swarm too for the main boss once you're done using Choking Climber.

Spells of the Five Elements from Sorcerer - Achieves the same purposes with Vines of Early Autumn but provides better support for the early levels with Tinges of Spring.

Close Combat from Thief - If you ever find yourself needing Premonition and Fighting Foresight for some reason...Rhythm of Life & Control Breathing take too long to be worth it when you're tanking and stressing at it.

Sneak Attack from Thief - If you don't like Better Blocker, then you'll need Run Amok and/or Shadow Advance when you need to drop mobs. With Play Dead, you'll just get aggroed again if you get up and if you stay down for too long, the mobs may wander off and attack the rest of your group.

Spellcasting from Wizard - Spirits. The Element multiplier is very good. You can also use Stalling Chant to make it easier for you to kite.

Thieving Skills from Thief - Floating Walk passive if needed. (physical skill damage reduction)

Magical Skills from Wizard - Equip Robe if needed + don't like Dancewear.

Dancing Skills from Dancer - Equip Dancewear if needed + don't like Robes.

Voodoo Magic from Witch Doctor - Poison immunity if needed. (magical skill damage reduction)

Medical Treatment from Doctor - "I'll heal myself."

Croakus Pocus from Doctor - "I'll Mega Medicine myself."

Are Mercenary Passives Going to be Helpful?

Yes, especially if you plan to tank on other jobs/late game Martial Artist. Because you have so many equips, you'll have to pick which skills to sacrifice to be able to afford them. Don't bother getting the masteries. Bronze Sinew, Iron Bone is alright to have too, but not super necessary. Basically, it's all about the equips.


That about covers some more in-depth stuff about late-game Mercenary tanking. If this guide has satisfied your curiosity or helped you become the next tank main, that's great. If there are tank mains out there who want to provide input, go ahead.