Experts in giants bows and cannons as big as they are, the firepower they provide is a worthy asset.
—In-Game Description, Etrian Odyssey III
The Arbalist (known as Ballista in Japan) is a highly offensive class in Etrian Odyssey III. They are the epitome of the Glass Cannon and should be treated as such.
Arbalists use the almighty Crossbow, which is effective from both the front and back rows. They have top-notch STR, more even than the ferocious Gladiator, and their second highest stat is LUC. They have huge physical attack power, but in exchange, their other stats and TP are very low. The Light Armor they can wear doesn't do much to protect them from death, as their HP is also below average. Arbalists should usually remain in the back row, but they can become more deadly in the front row, if they live long enough.
The Arbalist's Class Skill, Giant Kill, is the major basis for their "Glass Cannon" characteristic. One must understand this skill to get the most out of the Arbalist. Giant Kill boosts all the Arbalist's physical and elemental damage (even Zodiac spells) by 55% at max rank, as long as the target's current HP is double or more than that of the Arbalist's current HP. This skill makes Arbalists excellent at killing bosses, but it also works against any enemy as long as the Arbalist's current HP is low enough. By the time the target's HP is too low for Giant Kill, an Arbalist's high base damage is more than enough to clean up the fight.
Aside from Giant Kill, Arbalists have an assortment of skills bent towards hitting enemies hard and accurately in any circumstance. Since their TP is so low, active skills should be chosen carefully and used in ideal situations, but they still do tons of damage with basic Crossbow attacks. They will sometimes miss, so they have Proper Form and Pop Flares to ensure successful hits. They can handle large groups of enemies effectively with Strafe (which hits each enemy only once), Fire/Ice/Volt Barrage (deals pierce damage, not strike), and Cloudbuster. With their low cost and high damage, Snipe and Sharpshooter help Arbalists synergize well with allies that inflict status ailments and bindings. Among their single-target skills, Heavy Shot increases damage, but the others are much more notable. Armor Piercer ensures damage by ignoring enemy enhancements like boosted defense or evasion. For the risk of being on the front line, Front Mortar deals stupendous damage even for its high TP cost. It definitely plays into the Glass Cannon style. Finishing it off, Double Action enhances all single-target attack skills by granting a chance to hit a second time with that skill. It works even with skills like the Zodiac's Fire Star.
Ambush, Extend, and Smoke Grenade have the special benefit of helping keep an Arbalist alive as s(he) hunts at low health using Giant Kill. They become even more terrifying in the dark with their interesting passive Night Vision.
Does not include any stat bonuses from skills, equipment, Books, or Retirement.
|Giant Kill||Arbalist skill empowering you when enemies have notably higher HP.||Class||-----|
|Bolt Mastery||Prerequisite for crossbow skills that raises crossbow damage.||Mastery||-----|
|Heavy Shot||Crossbow: Heavy arrows deal pierce damage to a single enemy.||Crossbow||Bolt Mastery Lv1|
|Front Mortar||Crossbow: Pierce damage at one enemy. More effective from the front row.||Crossbow||Heavy Shot Lv5|
|Snipe||Crossbow: Wait, then pierce all enemies with status ailments.||Crossbow||Bolt Mastery Lv2|
|Sharpshooter||Crossbow: Wait, then pierce all enemies who are bound.|
|Strafe||Crossbow: Rapid-fire arrows are shot across all enemies at random.||Crossbow||Bolt Mastery Lv3|
|Fire Barrage||Crossbow: Special gunpowder deals strike/fire damage to all enemies.||Crossbow||Bolt Mastery Lv5|
|Ice Barrage||Crossbow: Special gunpowder deals strike/ice damage to all enemies.|
|Volt Barrage||Crossbow: Special gunpowder deals strike/volt damage to all enemies.|
|Armor Piercer||Crossbow: Bolts deal pierce damage that ignores enemy enhancements.||Crossbow||Bolt Mastery Lv7|
|Double Action||When using skills targeting one enemy, number of hits may rise.||Passive||Front Mortar Lv4|
Armor Piercer Lv4
|Cloudbuster||Crossbow: Shoot a bolt into the sky, raining pierce damage next turn.||Crossbow||Bolt Mastery Lv10|
|Proper Form||Employ especially careful aim, increasing all skills' accuracy.||Passive||-----|
|Extend||Recover HP each time you defeat an enemy.||Passive||Proper Form Lv3|
|Pop Flares||Detonate a flashbang to increase the aim of all allies for 3 turns.||Support||-----|
|Smoke Grenades||Detonate a smoke bomb to blind all enemies.||Support||-----|
|Night Vision||Critical hit rate significantly increases during nighttime.||Passive||Pop Flares Lv3|
Smoke Grenade Lv3
|Ambush||Increase chances of a first strike for a limited number of steps.||Search||-----|
All elemental barrages have a typo in-game; it says that they deal strike damage, but they actually deal pierce.
As Primary ClassEdit
Arbalist gameplay tends to be either a play-it-safe, consistent DPS approach, or a high risk/reward scramble. An Arbalist's subclass can assist with either strategy. Recovering some TP helps bolster combat longevity and flexibility, greater survivability helps them endure through otherwise dangerous situations, and they can get more rewards for more risks.
Gladiator: This subclass magnifies all of an Arbalist's strengths and weaknesses as a glass cannon. The combination of Giant Kill, Berserker Vow, Charge, and Front Mortar is truly titanic. This is the top subclass to pick when safety is of no concern.
Prince(ss): Arbalists are superb candidates for Regal Radiance. Since dispelling Fire/Freeze/Shock Arms triggers Nobility Proof, Arbalists can quickly regain their limited TP with this subclass. Pop Flares is one of the few skills that buffs the entire party for a low cost, and so works great for a Prince(ss)-focused party.
Shogun: As the second best subclass for high risk/reward gameplay, with Shogun, an Arbalist can gain power through the course of battle, escape death, and revive more safely. Warrior Might is a brutal skill when supported by allies. The support and command skills aren't so spectacular due to low TP.
Ninja: The evasion, especially from Kumogakure, lets an Arbalist use Giant Kill more safely and consistently, as well as survive on the front line. Hoplite's Selflessness has a simliar effect, but with other such skills as Karuwaza, Bunshin, and Suikyou, Ninja is far superior. Arbalists are slow, so they won't have time to cover themselves with Kumogakure right away. Because of this, soloing isn't recommended.
Zodiac: Roughly the inverse of a Zodiac/arbalist, Arbalists gain the most from Singularity, Etheric Charge, and Etheric Return. Giant Kill would make their spells ultra powerful, since it gives a greater bonus than Ether Mastery, if Arbalists had any TEC.
Since Giant Kill is so overwhelming, Arbalist should usually be chosen as a primary class, particularly where offensive power is concerned. Subclassing as Arbalist can be helpful when you want to give ranged attack to a dedicated back row character who didn't have it already, or if Arbalist skills are particularly helpful for another class.
Yggdroid: Yggdroids generally subclass well with anything, but Arbalist is one of their best options. They can handle the front line better than a regular Arbalist, so Front Mortar is less of a risk. The combination of Infravision, Data Mining, and Night Vision makes Yggdroids extra powerful at night. Fire/Ice/Volt Barrage are good for triggering bot chases, but Double Action is really the biggest asset. It is one of the few skills that improves HP Cannon, and also applies for All Out and Shoot.
Zodiac: They gain a ranged autoattack, the Fire/Ice/Volt Barrages, and potentially Double Action, so Arbalist is one of the better subclasses for a Zodiac.
Wildling: Since they are already good at inflicting ailments and binds, and the Snipe and Sharpshooter skills are giving Wildlings some extra power.
Ninja: The blinding from Smoke Grenade lets Ninja relax on their evasion skills.
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