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The guide is intended for players to further understand the Mercenary skills, as well as assist them on choosing the suitable weapon and skill set according to their stats build. If you happen to notice some inaccurate or unsatisfactory information in this article, feel free to point it out.
Mercenary's role can be a speedy attacker, a sturdy defender, or somewhere in-between. Being a close-combat class as they may be, they lack the skills for defeating multiple enemies. They wield either a Sword or an Axe, and a Shield for the open hand.
The skills are pretty much divided, personally categorizing them as "Strikers" (those that hits/strikes) and "Alters" (those that are applied).
Slash ---> the basic attacking skill. Does 3 hits. Starting Skill in the Action Slot.
Keenwheel ---> a slightly enhanced Slash, but in spins and does few more hits. Cannot be used alone in Action Slot.
Blindside ---> finishing move that blows away the target if the hit decisively kills it. Cannot be used alone in Action Slot.
Special Hit ---> a flashy single strike; if only the "piercing waves" would also hit the enemy behind the target. Pretty slow startup.
Bloody Strike ---> a HP-absorbing strike (heal rate depends on skill level). Helpful for low STA build. Cannot be used alone in Action Slot.
Hit Reflect ---> SUPPOSEDLY reflects back the damage taken as the skill hits; good skill if it were true to its description. Pretty slow startup.
Guillotine ---> a mid-ranged attack; good skill against monsters that run away when in low HP, or if target is locked in place. To properly spam the skill, disable Auto-Attack or always back away on every throw. The "mid-range" is a bit disappointing though.
Protection ---> must equip a Shield to activate this. Def+1 for every skill level. A sad skill if used alone, but helpful if used with Smite Axe.
Pan Barrier ---> must equip a Shield to activate this. Reduced damage against ranged attacks. Decent skill if you're into PvP with Acrobat, or a challenger to ranged-attacking monsters for some reason.
Sneaker --> makes the target be stuck and unable to move (100% chance for 48s at MAX). Best used when escaping from dire situations, keeping away unwanted enemies, and when hunting Giants. Lv.15-17 is advised, as the FP usage is costly.
Empower Weapon --> further increases damage of weapon with element upgrade. Lv.8 or 14 is suggested for a satisfying power-up.
Blazing Sword --> must equip a Sword to activate this. Increases Sword Damage AND Hit Rate. A must-have skill for DEX-build Sword Users.
Sword Mastery --> must equip a Sword to activate this. Further adds more Sword Damage.
Smite Axe ---> must equip an Axe to activate this. Increases Axe Damage AND adds Defense (+25 at MAX). Use it together with Protection (both at MAX) to fully utilize the defense bonuses. A must-have skill for STA-build Axe Users.
Axe Mastery ---> must equip an Axe to activate this. Further adds more Axe Damage.
Note: All self-buff skills do disappear when the corresponding equipment is removed/unequipped.
Mercenary's lifeline stats are STR(damage), STA(defense, HP), and DEX(attack speed, crit rate, evade, block). We won't be detailing with very specific builds. Instead, it will be on which stat/skill is more important than the other.
Strong Points: Speedy killing, Attack skills less used, Low Cost on FP
Negative side: Low survival rate against consecutive critical hits
Ideal Weapon: Sword (faster natural attack speed)
Ideal Skill set: [Blazing Sword] > [Empower Weapon] > [Sword Mastery] > [Bloody Strike]
The buffs at Lv.14 or MAX will be important here. A Lv.11 [Bloody Strike] will effectively heal most of your HP. [Guillotine] is optional.
This can still be applied with Axes, but you'll probably favor with [Axe Mastery] at MAX as you are aiming for more damage.
Strong Points: Large HP & FP pool, Hits target 100% with Skills, More damage
Negative side: High cost on FP items
Ideal Weapon: Axe (naturally deals more damage)
Ideal Skill set: [Smite Axe] > [Protection] > [Axe Mastery] > [Blindside]/[Special Hit]
Combined Defense bonuses of maxed [Protection] and [Smite Axe] is like wearing a Plug Earring. You can choose [Special Hit] over [Blindside], but you can also balance out the levels of all 3 skills if you want.
This can still be applied with Swords. However, you may want to go "STR > STA" this time, since the Sword Buffs can only offer power increase. Replacing [Protection] with [Empower Weapon] is also suggested in this approach.
Do take note that upon changing into 2nd Jobs, Shield-related skills and most attacking skills of Mercs are said to become unnecessary or useless. With this in mind, please keep the free Reskill, and you'll be able to maximize the weapon buffs, not mentioning a high-level Sneaker.
Just keep Flyff-ing, everyone! ^_^