Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard

From Before I Play
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  • F.O.E.'s aren't like in EO1, if you played that. They're meant to make you maneuver the maze. No XP, occasional drops. Never, ever let one catch you with your back to the wall.
  • If you need to, grind. It'll make it easier for you to kill the later enemies, as well as start to improve your equipment.
  • This game is hard. Don't beat yourself up if you are having trouble. Just keep at it.
  • Avoid FOEs any time you can. Yes, some of them respawn. The ones that move have a discernible pattern. Be patient and you'll figure it out.
  • Keep a handful of warp wires on you at all times.
  • Mark stuff on your map! That's what it's there for.
  • Don't be afraid to consult a floor map online if you're stuck.
  • Leave to save and heal often. This sounds obvious, but if you don't go to the surface from time to time, your inventory will get too full. Or you might accidentally run into an insurmountable FOE.
  • I rely on a Protector, a Landsknecht, and a Medic for most battles, but I'm sure different configurations will work. Mix it up and see what works best for you (although you'll probably still need that Medic).
  • Do the "item-fetch" sidequests.
  • Plan where to spend those skill points! Doing it all willy-nilly will surely gimp your character, and that'll ruin your entire party in a game this unforgiving.
  • As has been pointed out, survivalists are a great way to make some dosh. Getting an alt party of five going with 4 ranks in chop, mine and take together will let you pull 60 items per run an in-game day cycle. A bit of esc and agi up, when you get around to it a few ranks of Ambush and 1st hit. Once you get them going, a quick run through the strata and hitting up the resource points is a great way to grind for cash and better weapons.
  • Speccing a Landsknecht to swords gives you access to some of the best multi-hit abilities which are invaluable coming up against some of the larger random encounters.
  • Just don't have anything to do with FOES where possible. Use bells and abilities to distract them, go out of your way to avoid them, and always run away if you go into combat with them. If you have to fight, say you're backed up against the wall or are doing it for a quest those "trump card" focus abilities are a life-saver, otherwise spam special attacks and try to keep everyone alive to get in more hits.

Parties

My advice is to make two parties; your main party and a second party consisting of all survivalists. Do not give the main party any points in skills to find items, run away, reduce encounter chances, or healing skills that take effect only after battle like first aid. They're a waste of points. The 2nd party is for item finding skills only so you can grind out money without fighting monsters that drop few items.

A medic is the most important class; get her a refresh of 7 (covers all ailments) and try to max out immunize by floor 15 because bosses from then on focus on elemental area attacks and those things really REALLY hurt. You only need 1 skill point in revive and ignore unbind, cbr, and healing touch.

An alchemist only needs 1 point in warp and you can get the area effect spell without getting the higher powered spell (for example you don't need flame to get inferno). For your landsknecht, don't bother with axe skills. Only swords can use blazer/freezer/shocker abilities which are really awesome. Don't bother teaching your protector cure either; it sounds nice to have a backup healer but her mp is best spent using defender and parry.