MARDEK

Pick my MARDEK team!
Ultemedia
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Ultemedia 19 United Kingdom PhlegmaticSanguine ISTP 9w1 6C
Hello to that one other person who still visits this site. Maybe you can help me pick my party for my upcoming MARDEK III playthrough.

I've played through I and II countless times, but although I've had almost as many attempted playthroughs of III, I've only finished it once. In previous attempts, I always tried to juggle my party, but it just got too complicated and overwhelming which is why each playthrough got halted.

In the one that I did complete, I used a party of Mardek, Elwyen, Gloria and Solaar, then subbing Legion in for Solaar when I got him, but then subbing Solaar back in for the endgame. Using just one party for the majority of the game (with a slight amount of tweaking) made it much more manageable and enjoyable, and also gives the game somewhat more replayability as I can use a different party next time.

I just finished a 'perfect' file of Chapter II, so I can use this to start straight from Ch. III in the future. I'm having a bit of a break from MARDEK and am now playing Deliverance, but when I'm finished with that, I expect I'll start Ch. III.

So please, help me decide which party to use this time. For obvious reasons, I'll be avoiding Elwyen, Gloria, Solaar, and Legion (mostly, anyway. Especially Elwyen and Gloria, since I used them the whole way through from the moment I got them. I'd be open to using Solaar and/or Legion again, since I didn't use them the whole way through, but only if you have a compelling reason to do so) . That leaves three slots to fill with a choice out of these characters: Donovan, Sharla, Sslen'ck, Meraeador, Vehrn, Zach, with a possible (but unlikely) Solaar and/or Legion.

So please, if anyone is reading this, pick a party combination for me to use! And if you can, tell me why! I'd definitely prefer a party that complements each other in some way, rather than just the three strongest characters or whatever. Some balance, too, between physical attackers, magical attackers, magical support and so on. I know that doesn't really make too much sense, since my preferred party before (Mardek, Elwyen, Gloria, Solaar) was made up of 4 primarily magic orientated characters (Mardek was the closest thing to a physical attacker, but really his forté is his magical skills, physical attacks are a secondary thing). But anyway.

If you have anything at all to say, say it!
uugr
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uugr 16 United States MelancholicSanguine INFJ 281C
Hiya! I still visit this site, and I have Opinions on MARDEK.

First of all, I'd definitely encourage using Legion again. I've done Chapter III... five times, I think? Legion has been the character I've found most consistently interesting to use, and trying to fill out his skill tree is surprisingly fun. Plus, it seems like your options are mostly physical, and he's a fun magic attacker.

Other than that, I'd say Sharla would be choice #1. She's varied, useful, has a lot of neat support moves, and just overall Good. For the last slot, I'd say either Sslen'ck or Vehrn - they're both good physical attackers. Sslen'ck is generally better earlier on (he doesn't really learn anything useful later in the game and a lot of endgame enemies resist his attacks), while Vehrn is utterly INSANE after you get his best items. Donovan is an option in opposition to Sharla if you want to challenge yourself with a character who isn't as useful and doesn't really have any redeeming qualities aside from Strength Boost. Zach is a boring snorefest of z's and I'm not sure why you'd even consider him. Meraeador, as much as I love him, is really not a good option for a main team - he's just too niche. He can tear the ultimate bosses to shreds with some preparation, but using him for common enemies or smaller bosses is really boring and he always seems to drag my team down.

Mardek-Legion-Sharla-Sslen'ck/Vehrn would leave you 2/2 with physical/magical attackers (I'm not sure why you'd say Mardek is a magic attacker, given he doesn't actually have any, y'know, magic attacks). It's got some good variety in elements (moreso if you use Sslen'ck), and I would bet it could go through most of the game without too much trouble.

One last note - I feel like you're being a bit too down on party juggling! Assuming you kick Meraeador and Zach (and maybe Donovan, just to make it that much simpler) out of the rotation, I've found it actually a really effective way to do a playthrough. As long as no one drags too far behind, it spruces things up a lot. That being said, I can see how it'd be much harder if you didn't already know what was coming (i.e. your first playthrough), and it's definitely more doable if you already basically know how every character plays. Maybe try it again after you're more comfortable with Chapter III?

Hope this helps!
Ultemedia
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Ultemedia 19 United Kingdom PhlegmaticSanguine ISTP 9w1 6C
I already did fill out Legion's skills on my playthrough, and yeah it was fun, but I feel like it's kind of like "been there done that", which is why I want to mix things up with some different characters. And I still think I'd prefer to just stick with the same three characters all the way through; my problem with juggling is that I like to have my team on top of things skill-learning-wise, and if you keep switching, then unless you grind LOADS, they're just going to fall behind in their skills.

I know Mardek doesn't have any magical attacks; what I meant to say was that, for me, he's a healer/magical support character first, and a physical attacker second. I suppose it's because there exist characters who are *only* physical attackers, so when it comes to Mardek, I prefer to prioritise his other uses.

I'm thinking a lineup of Mardek, Sharla, Vehrn and Meraeador, though I'm still unsure about Meraeador. Like you say, he seems just a bit inconvenient for random battles, so I may switch him for Sslen'ck? I think that would be okay, although it would give me 3 physical attackers (well, 2 and a half by my reasoning ;)) but I'd have a fairly strong magical attacker and 2 primary healers and Vehrn as a third possible healer later on. Or instead of Sslen'ck, maybe Donovan to add a bit of extra challenge (since he's really not a very useful character; he'd be a bit more useful if the game actually had an explorable Air Temple). That way, I'd have two physicals and two magicals.

An alternate, but similar idea would be to stick with the original foursome - that is, Mardek, Donovan, Sharla, Sslen'ck.

I'm still undecided; the only one I seem to be sure about is Sharla. I could see she was a useful character even on my other playthrough, and if it were not for Gloria being so good then Sharla would have no doubt made it onto my team. She also has a big elemental advantage, since Air is very effective in the Earth Temple and Lifewood, and somewhat effective in the Water Temple too. The only place where she's not too useful would be the Volcano + Fire Temple, where I guess she would have to take a backseat role as a healer.

Anyway, thanks for your reply!
uugr
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uugr 16 United States MelancholicSanguine INFJ 281C
Well, guess who's responding again in this thread anyway!

I completely disagree about Mardek. Honestly, there really isn't any comparison by which his mediocre healing skill outweighs his massive damaging ability... The elemental slashes can consistently 1HKO any non-Golem enemy who's weak to them pretty much no matter what (possibly not Black Eyes as well, depending on your damage output), and they can do a good 2000-3000 a hit on bosses. Honestly, you can win basically any fight in the game by having Mardek spam an elemental slash and have your other 3 party members support/buff him. I don't think I've ever beaten Karnos by any other method, to be honest. Compare his healing - he has the lowest raw healing output of any character in the game, and he has no magic attacks so boosting his SPR seems like a waste. As for his buffs, Regen can be bought in bulk at Aeropolis and is relatively cheap (and isn't that useful anyhow), the Shields can be given much more efficiently by Mirrilixirs, and let's be honest, the player is basically drowning in Remedies the whole way through the game. He has great weapons with powerful buffs, and other characters just work so much better for magic.

...Is what I *WOULD* be saying if you hadn't already used every other good healer :P. In this case, using Mardek as primary healer makes perfect sense.

I got the impression you didn't really want an extra challenge? I mean, Donovan is actually kind of fun as a challenge character (certainly more fun than Zach), and your point about a third playthrough on AF is a good one.

Alternatively, although this would require having one returning player on your third team, you could do a 5-person party. Switching a single team member out (possibly Sslen'ck/Donovan) every once in a while actually works really well, since you can leave out your weakest link - Sharla in the Fire Temple, for instance - and your skill grinding is significantly reduced. Sslen'ck and Vehrn both have few skills anyway, and you don't even need to master Lay on Hands or his big attack (forget its name) since you're never taking his best gear off anyway. Your levels won't be significantly reduced, and you'd have a balanced enough team that I don't think you'd need to worry about any of them getting underleveled from lack of use. I understand if you don't want any switching at all, but it's at least worth considering.
Ultemedia
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Ultemedia 19 United Kingdom PhlegmaticSanguine ISTP 9w1 6C
You're right, I don't particularly go out of my way looking for extra challenge, which is why I'd never do challenge runs like Solo Mardek or low level or No reactions or anything, just like I'd never do challenge type runs in other games.

But as I've said, I'm just looking to mix things up, and mixing things up by using Donovan would happen to add some extra challenge... although that wouldn't be the main reason that I use him. Make any sense?

Eh, swapping people in and out could work. Could swap Donovan in for Sharla for the Fire Temple, purely for NullFire. Or something else. I don't know. I think even with that system I'd still want a 'primary party' with swaps just an occasional thing for, say, just one area.

What's your issue with Zach? Is it just that he's a one-trick pony? (just physical attacks, nothing else).

He's obviously not my favourite character, that's why I didn't use him last time, but I don't see how he's any worse really than Sslen'ck, Donovan, Meraeador, and even Vehrn pre-Lost Monastary, when he gets all the good stuff.

uugr
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uugr 16 United States MelancholicSanguine INFJ 281C
Zach is boring!! His attacks are all some variation on "hit the thing, with a damage boost if [xyz]", and until you get his best weapon in the endgame, there is literally no reason to use anything but Crescendo Slash over and over again. He has no ability to touch anything with physical resistance/high defense, no elemental skills, and even his attack stat, the MAIN POINT OF USING HIM, is kind of mediocre. He can do Air damage with Soulstrike, but A) you have Sharla anyway, B) you can't Crescendo Slash now, and C) the place where that would be useful (Earth temple) is highly physically resistant anyway.

My last run was a switch-in-and-out-every-party-member thing, and I distinctly remember Zach lagging waaaaaay behind, moreso even than Meraeador, simply because he's just so *awful*. He has terrible HP, terrible variety, and as I said earlier, even his attack stat isn't good. Sslen'ck has higher attack, health, and *way* better skills (especially early on), Donovan can at least be used as a support character, Vehrn can knock the stuffing out of anything Dark or Undead even early on, and Meraeador... well, he's not good, but at least he gets the bafflingly broken Potion Spray to turn literally every boss fight into a joke.

I know some people swear (swore?) by Zach purely because of Sinstrike, but honestly, by the time Sinstrike has become useful, you've wasted enough time grinding with Zach that it'd be faster and easier to just use literally any other strategy - or even just grind a regular team!

/rant