Learn about staggers, stuns, elemental effects, and how to game the system to give yourself an edge in battle.
One of the most common Crit bonuses is a Stagger, shown by a little clock icon with a number and the letter ‘s’ by it. Staggering an enemy pushes their action back by that many TU’s, which can cause them to act after your other characters, thus allowing even attacks that wouldn’t otherwise Crit them to now Crit, which can Stagger them even further down the turn. Staggering enemies completely off the round will Break them, meaning they can’t act that round at all, BUT — and this is IMPORTANT — they will have that exact same action queued in the next round! Breaking enemies does NOT prevent them from using that nasty AoE multi-target skill you want to avoid, IT ONLY DELAYS IT! And it may also cause them to execute that action in the next round BEFORE you have time to hit them properly again—which means no Crits—AND, their Stagger Limit (the number by each enemy’s icon on the turn bar) is probably 0 by then, so you can’t push them any further up the turn bar until they take their action!
Once an enemy does take their action, their Stagger Limit will increase again, typically by 2, allowing them to be Staggered once more. While this means you can’t completely stop enemies from taking certain actions using Staggers, it does give you more time to rack up damage, heal up, or apply buffs/debuffs to make surviving that attack easier. There are a number of important lessons and tactical maneuvers I’ve picked up from this system that I felt like sharing with everyone.
- Non-Staggering Crits are Good
Staggers are nice, but they deplete an enemy’s Stagger Limit. When you want to hit a foe but don’t want to Stagger them — typically because their action is one you can easily deal with, like a single-target shot you’re going to Defend against — using Flurry attacks or others that don’t inflict Staggers lets you rack up damage without compromising your turn order. This lesson leads right into…
- Knowing when to Take the Hit
It’s easy to bumrush opponents with Crits and Breaks, but it’s important to realize when your best bet is to take the hits that you can. Any time an enemy takes an action, their Stagger Limit increases for the next round, so if you didn’t stagger an enemy on Round 1 when they had 2 limit, you can stagger them *4* times on Round 2. This can make for a life-saving difference — if you know that a particular opponent has both single-target and AoE attacks, for instance, and you let him use his single-target attack while playing more defensive that round, and he then tries his AoE… well, you could very well be able to stagger him 2 or even 3 rounds off-balance before he ever gets to fire off that death-dealing ability. This will give you plenty of time to rack up damage and heal up your party.
- Big staggers are NOT ALWAYS GOOD!
Bad Time 101: You set up your Archon to heal the party after an AoE attack that’s coming your way, then realize you’ve staggered the enemy so much that his hit is going to come AFTER the heal, rendering the heal useless. Be mindful of things like this!
- Order of actions is CRITICAL!
If you have multiple stagger-inflicting attacks on the same enemy in a round, they will all execute in order, meaning you could waste a low-stagger hit and leave the enemy with no stagger limit left for the big stagger you were counting on to Break them! If two or more characters’ actions occur in the same timeslot, i.e. both have a time cost of 15s, the order in which you select the attacks determines who strikes first. This is also important for debuffs and armor damage, because naturally you’d want the attack that’ll make an enemy take more damage from the next hit to go first.
- Fury Farming
Fury is an important resource you earn during battles that lets you do special moves & combos with characters. You get 1 Fury per Crit (Stagger or no), 4 per Break, up to a max of 50. You get the 4 Fury even if the attack that Breaks an enemy also kills them. If you don’t mind prolonging fights a bit, try to milk them for as much Fury as possible, by letting an enemy get their hitsies in and continually Breaking them. Having lots of Fury lets you pull off moves that can turn fights around in a heartbeat, like a massive damage combo attack as a free action that can finish off an enemy at 0 Stagger Limit who is about to Frag or Buckets-‘o’-Pain your whole party before anyone else can kill him.
1.) They can completely interrupt any action that explicitly cannot be delayed, like an enemy Wraith in Vengeance Mode ready to give your party a Bad Time if they attack.
2.) They FORCE ENEMIES TO CHOOSE A DIFFERENT ACTION! I cannot stress this enough — Breaking an enemy with staggers only DELAYS their attack, it DOES NOT stop them from doing it at all! When you absolutely need to stop that sack of health called a Panzer from gutting your party, Stunning it will force it to unqueue its current action and choose something else, and that can save your characters from taking permanent damage or outright wiping.
Damage-over-time (DoT) effects are a highly common factor in battles. DoTs of any type will trigger at the end of a round, meaning that even if the Bleeding damage from a Bleed effect were enough to kill an enemy, they may be able to take their action before the damage kicks in.
Also, some DoTs and debuffs may be blocked by shields and/or armor. If the attack that would inflict such an effect completely pierces that which would block it, such as shields for Burning status, then Burning can apply even to an enemy that still has shields—this is especially noteworthy with the Empath hero, whose “Mind Knife” attack can completely pass through all shields AND armor.
Pay very close attention to all the effects that abilities have listed. For example, the Marksman’s “Wing” attack inflicts “Weakened Shields”, which causes the enemy to take extra damage on its shields; this can be easy to overlook at first, though! Same hero, “Overwatch” ability—the enemy chosen to be countered will have all damage from any critical hits they inflict nullified to zero.
Effects like Steal Shields/Health/Armor will also trigger for as many hits, meaning that if your Valkyrie has an item that grants 5 Steal Shields, and she uses Hew (x3), she’ll steal 15 shields from her target in total!
A major advantage of combos is that they are all instant actions — they can be used before anyone else in the current round even gets a chance to attack. This makes them ideal for finishing off dangerous enemies that would otherwise move before your other party members have a chance to hit them or otherwise get the situation under control. An example combo is Meditative Shot, which combines the Empath and Marksman’s skills to create a single shot that can strike any position, while penetrating half of the target’s shields and armor. Since the bulk of the Marksman’s damage can only be dealt later in the round, having a massive damage-dealing attack that can be fired off instantly and remove a foe from the board can save you from an otherwise dangerous situation.
Just as an example, I used that very combo attack, Meditative Shot, to deal over 1,000 damage to an enemy Commander that was about to AoE my entire team for massive damage and certainly kill at least one party member. Having that attack ready is what got me through really tough fights like that and made others in general just plain easier to deal with.
I noticed (as of the Playing with Fire update) that Overshields with stealing effects seem to be a thing. What happened was that I had an Aegis and Spectre do their combo attack, which is a hefty shield steal in addition to damage. The Spectre was at full shields at the time, but thanks to the aforementioned update, steal effects work anyway. An enemy attacked her in that same round, and did the damage it should have done, but the damage my character actually took was taken out of the stolen shields first. I tested this later, and found that the “overshields” do not last past the current ongoing round; stolen shields over the max limit during a round of attacks only last through the enemies’ attacks that round and then immediately disappear at the beginning of the next.
Still, this saved my Spectre from taking a much nastier hit than she could have!
If multiple attacks in a given turn were targeted on a unit who dies from one of those attacks, the remainder will automatically re-target at random. This means that attacks that normally couldn’t target the enemy’s back row that round still can, and will apply all relevant staggers and critical hit effects.
- Star Renegades: Moon Gear Guide
- Star Renegades: Character and Item Guide
- Star Renegades: Item Unlock Guide