Since AO has not changed a lot in the last 10 years I think most of the advice in this guide is still valid. Obviously, *if* they added any new classes since then they will not be included here.
Mercenaries, Part 1
Mercenaries in Atlantica Online, commonly called ‘mercs’, share many characteristics of the ‘Main Character’ but are classified by four levels of power called the ‘mercenary grade’ : A > B > C > D
Those of grade A and B are the most expensive ones and reward the effort with a better attribute progression and more powerful abilities. They are the subject of this guide.
But first, let’s have a glance at the most valuable predecessors of grade C.
Vitamin C is good for your Health!
There are some grade C mercenaries who are useful for a really long time and almost can compete with their A and B alternatives.
When deciding which mercenaries of a low grade to exchange for a potentially expensive new A or B mercs you should keep in mind that the following C mercs are quite useful even later in the game and should (as a general rule of thumb) not be replaced as quickly as others of grade C.
Her extremely strong buff ‘Seth’s Will’ and the added ability to heal make the oracle a very powerful C merc.
Seth’s Will (SW) in particular is the reason why even max level players with a formation of B and A mercs will often still use an oracle.
Besides, alternatives are a bit limited: the Vampire is grade B and can heal but has no buff at her disposal. The Goddess is new and very expensive, her heal is less powerful (however, she can at the same time destun a bit) but she has an even more powerful ‘Will’ buff.
These guys have a powerful self-buff and the highest overall damage output of all C mercs, especially when under the influence of buffs like Seth’s Will or Beast’s Soul (Druid).
They are loyal companions to many players for a really long time because B and A grade gun-using mercenaries are very expensive (the Sheriff is an Item Mall merc, thus very expensive, and the Patriot is grade A, therefore automatically very expensive).
With their great damage output, ability to strike an entire column and the missing economical alternatives, janissaries are among the C mercs that see the most working hours in many players’ formations.
The small girl sitting on a broomstick might not induce respect in your eyes but billions of smashed and burned TBS mobs would probably tell you an entirely different story… if they could. But they’re a bit dead. So they can’t 😉
The witch is one of those 0/1 mercenaries that are either very useful or entirely useless. That’s because she has only one reason to be among your formation and that’s her skill ‘Meteor Strike’ (MS).
MS and the Staff Main Character only ability ‘Flame Blow’ are the two by far most damaging abilities in the game (FB being about 15-20% more powerful) and the only ones who can destroy roughly equal level common mobs in TBS instantly, thus preventing any enemy action.
In normal combat (no TBS), Meteor Strike’s long cooldown and high but not devastating damage make the witch pretty much an useless appendix that could be exchanged for more efficient mercenaries easily. The same applies to ‘Flame Blow’ but Staff Mains know some other useful abilities, witches don’t.
However, in TBS the MS ability becomes a real tool of Armageddon. The low magic resistance of TBS mobs and the extreme damage output of MS in this combat system allow it to pretty much onehit every common enemy.
‘Onehit’ ability is very useful in many TBS missions and in skirmishes, too. However, the higher your level the more unlikely it is that your witch can keep up this ‘onehit guarantee’, even if you upgrade her equipment immensely.
Still, for a long time indeed (at least to level 130) she stays an incredibly powerful addition in TBS combat. In the original combat system, don’t bother to bring her.
For pretty much the same reason as with the janissary, inventors are a long-time addition to your formation simply because they are gun mercs and guns are arguably the most damaging physical weapons in PvE. The inventor has a significantly lower damage output but can summon machines to make up for it. Catapults and ballistae fire automatically and inflict damage on the enemies. In TBS, the same ability transforms into an instant AOE (area of effect) skill with astounding damage output.
For ranged combat-formations the hwarang is a useful addition since his aura greatly increases offensive stats of all ranged mercs (himself included). So while a hwarang itself is pretty weak he boosts your gun/cannon mercs to new heights in terms of damage output and this makes him a valuable, potentially long-lasting member of your formation.
As you can see, some C mercs are well worth keeping a long time and in case of limited resources (i.e. gold) think twice before replacing them.
B like Brutal, A like Awesome
But now let’s turn to our friends of the mercenary pantheon’s upper classes.
I will present those A and B mercs I have myself played for a long time or whose characteristics I had sufficient time to study in detail.
These and all others mercenaries can be found on www.atlantica-db.com, for instance.
The Pocahontas-like staff-using girl wields the single most devastating melee debuff in the game: ‘Blazing Earth’ (BE).
Unfortunately, her usefulness therefore depends largely on how many melee enemies you fight in any battle. She’s totally useless against casters and ranged foes.
Fortunately melee mobs make up a big part of the NPC community and Blazing Earth has sent billions of these poor guys to HELL.
In contrast to any other debuff except Green Dragon’s Rage (General), BE reduces vitality. This amounts to a de facto very high damage burst on all mobs that have not been damaged yet. If a mob has 1000 health points and loses, say 50 Vitality it might go down to 500 health. That’s 50%!! But if you already damaged it down to 600 health, it would lose only another 100 since 600 – 100 = 500. So you ‘wasted’ 400 damage by reducing BE damage by those 400.
So try to use Blazing Earth as soon as possible and don’t waste damage on melee foes if possible.
A nice defensive side effect is that affected opponents will also lose attack power: your front row will thank you.
Remember that in PvP the enemy player’s front row with 3 melee mercs will normally be magic immune most of the time so BE is less useful in PvP. If you manage to use it before magic immunity and before damaging the front row much, it can still be a match changer though, especially if your opponent has other melees in 2nd and/or 3rd row.
The elementalist can also perform ‘Freezing Atmosphere’ (FA) to silence melee enemies. Its damage output is low, it has a higher cooldown than BE, so you won’t generally use it in PvE. In PvP its usefulness is much greater.
Summary: Nemesis of all melee opponents, gigantic damage output against full-health mobs but virtually useless against ranged and caster type foes.
This highborn archer is basically a mix of a normal (Dark) Archer and Monk. She can either silence enemies (Archer) or make allied mercs immune to magic (Monk).
Her damage output is the highest among bow-using mercs because her dexterity development is great: dexterity is the attribute responsible for ranged mercs’ attack power.
In PvE, her right to exist is pretty much limited to her ability ‘Empress’ Blessing’ that renders a row of allies (TBS: single target) immune to hostile (and friendly!) magic. This can have a great impact on the result of certain bossfights and comes in handy against all mobs that can use especially nasty skills. You’ll have to decide for yourself if a monk isn’t the better alternative for PvE since he can also destun. In a few rare but especially annoying bossfights it’s a good idea to combine empress and monk so they can render 2-3 rows immune to magic at the same time.
In summary it’s a good idea to keep an empress on a reasonably high level in PvE, even if she stays at your home or in your mercenary room for long times.
Mercenaries, Part 2
In PvP the empress sees more working hours because her sniping potential and silence ability (‘Empress’ Curse’) is of more use than in PvE.
Summary: A mercenary whose usefulness largely depends on the situation. Pretty much useless in many PvE battles but in the few ones left – and in particular against certain bosses – she can be a game changer. A strong addition in PvP: silence, magic immunity and sniping potential!
Fans of Jack Sparrow or other South Sea entrepreneurs will instantly love the pirate mercenary. Her outfit includes the obligatory parrot as well as two swords, one held in each hand.
Pirates are the only mercs with the ability to dual-wield weapons and while her offhand damage is reduced for balance reasons, the pirate nevertheless is the most powerful physical damage dealer against single targets.
That last restriction, ‘single target’, explains why you rarely see her in PvE formations. The situations in PvE where you really have to dispatch specific single opponents quickly… well, you can count them on a hand without fingers. It’s not bad to be able to quickly slay an enemy but the cost/use ratio is too bad to justify a slot in your formation.
There is one reason to bring her to some bossfights, though. Her AP-draining poison proc can make bosses almost or totally unable to act, thus turning bossfights into a farce. She also features an offensive passive buff to all sword-users in your formation. If you bring a valkyrie and champion and if maybe even your main character uses a sword you might think twice about a pirate. Summed up she’s nevertheless a mercenary seldom used in PvE.
Things are quite different in PvP. Frontline-breaking potential is a much sought for ability in PvP and the pirate supplies it, especially if her poison procs and she lands multi and critical hits. After killing only one front row merc it is possible to use control spells and melee attacks on the 2nd row, which is generally more vulnerable.
Boosting her ‘breaking’ potential is a high cooldown-skill that damages both a random ally and a specific enemy with piercing damage.
Summary: Only situational usefulness in PvE but a strong frontline breaker and physical burster in PvP.
‘This… is… SPARTA!!‘
What else is there to say? This guy is a modern classic! As if he was copied from ‘300’ (and he is) the Spartan attacks with a long spear that other mercenaries need to hold in both hands. In contrast our brave Spartan can wield a heavy shield in his offhand and thus becomes a mix of capable damage dealer and tank who is only surpassed by champion and valkyrie in terms of durability.
Besides the fact that spear-users are generally useful in PvE and PvP the Spartan also brings forth a strong defensive debuff, ‘War Cry’. It reduces multi-hit rate of up to 5 enemies to near zero and I can’t remember any opponent hitting twice after having been affected with WC.
While this reduces incoming damage nicely in PvE (especially from bosses with physical attacks), it is even more useful in PvP. Particularly ranged mercs will absolutely hate this debuff.
It is safe to say there’s no situation in which a Spartan doesn’t prove his usefulness. His debuff makes many battles easier, he can dish out astonishing damage himself and – I forgot to tell you – he even boosts the offensive power of all spear mercs in your formation. Makes your Spartan-Daoist-General combination even more deadly, eh?
If there is a mercenary I can universally propose almost independently from the rest of your formation, it’s the Greek!
A bloodsucker as a companion…? Doesn’t that fall into the ‘I have a really bad feeling about this’ category?
Don’t worry; the aristocratic Not-Quite-Deceased is only interested in the blood of your foes – promised! She even heals allies instead of performing bloodletting on them.
The fact that instruments can suck blood of late was new to me, but who am I to argue!?
You will find her in many advanced formations, with players who bought her either in the Item Mall or for high gold prices ingame. She’s not a merc beginners should try to acquire (without real cash).
Vampires have a very high dexterity development, making them dangerous damage dealers. On the one hand, their instrument-type weapons lack dexterity bonuses. On the other hand their passive, attack-triggered skill deals bonus damage and leeches health points.
They’re also primary healers with ‘Dusk Harmony’. It differs in two important aspects from the other major healing spell in the game, ‘Healing’ (Oracle) :
Firstly, it affects not a row but a column! This is often an advantage. In case enemies focus on row attacks (axes, powersaws) or attack multiple columns it might not be as efficient as ‘Healing’.
Summarized, Dawn Harmony’s pattern is better because there are quite a lot of spear and gun-using enemies around but few axe-users and almost no powersaw-users. Also keep in mind your 2nd and 3rd row usually take more damage (less armor) but also receive more healing (more intelligence) than the frontline. Both points boost Dusk Harmony’s usefulness.
Secondly, its power is comparable to ‘Healing’ but the hitpoints are restored over two turns instead of one. This, too, can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on whether your mercs are bursted (high damage spikes but not often) or regularly receive moderate damage.
In TBS, Dawn Harmony heals the full amount immediately and can resurrect.
If you’re thinking about a vampire as your only healer, remember that without an oracle or a goddess you have none of the powerful ‘Will’ buffs (Seth’s / Divine Will).
Vampires can also cast ‘Dusk Elegy’, a debuff that deals damage over time and reduces enemies’ magic resistance. They become more vulnerable to all skills that deal damage.
Vampires are arguably the most versatile mercenaries out there. They can be dangerous ranged damage dealers. They can be healers. They can debuff. However, they can only do one thing at a time. She’s also a nice addition if you already have an oracle or a goddess in your formation. In that case, either buff her with ‘Will’ and see how enemies crumble or let her help with the healing in dire situations. If you’re in a bossfight ‘Dusk Elegy’ will significantly increase your ability damage output against the boss.
Summary: very versatile ranged attacker who can heal, deal serious damage or use a debuff to lower enemy magic resistance. Usable as either the replacement or an addition to oracle / goddess.
Careful: Item-Mall-Mercs are expensive…
The Nordic messenger of the gods who claims the souls of fallen champions is a sword and shield-using support, control and tank mercenary in Atlantica Online.
Surpassed by only the Champion (A), the valkyrie is the second best tank in the game. In contrast to the ‘fat one’ she also features high fire resistance. This means the common fire-based hostile abilities, especially some very nasty boss skills, will deal only half damage to her! (of course you should in any case try to neutralize those skills…)
Like every sword-user she gains a lot of action points (AP) but her normal attack is pretty awful. Valkyries are definitely no damage dealers!
As a compensation her abilities are pretty powerful. ‘Quickening’ improves AP generation on a cross pattern (!) which is most useful on those mercs with a low AP generation rate. Casters jump to mind here. With its 1-turn cooldown you can use Quickening immediately after the fight starts. However, in TBS battles the skill is pointless since it only increased movement speed by 1. There are currently no situations where this would be useful.
‘Odin’s Chains’ is a unique ability in that it prevents physical attacks. You can keep an entire column of enemies from using their normal attack (but not their skills).
Mercenaries, Part 3
Another skill was added in a patch, ‘Valhalla’s Sword’. The devs probably thought a valkyrie is too weak in PvP so they added the ability to immediately stun on attacks. This allows you to stun the most dangerous enemy and that’s primarly useful in PvP. Like other ‘trigger’ skills it does not always proc, though.
Summary: A strong tank with almost no own damage output, support and control skills make the valkyrie a nice addition to many formations.
The Chinese Supreme Commander is definitely no pencil pusher. Instead he personally leads his troops into battle. As an elite spear-wielder he can dish out a lot of physical damage to two targets at once. Compared to Spartans, however, he lacks a shield and thus his defence isn’t the best. This makes him a Top Damage Dealer who can survive in your front row if you give him some good armour.
The signature skill of generals is ‘Green Dragon’s Rage’. This is basically the elementalist’s ‘Blazing Earth’, but affects ranged instead of melee opponents. They lose a lot of vitality and attack power and since ranged enemies have lower health than melees to begin with, this is a lethal combination. The ability also prevent PvP opponents from ‘Beast’s Soul’-ing their ranged damage dealers since BS applied onto GDR triggers a PvP skill combo, nullifying BS and making GDR even stronger.
His other skills are seldom used. ‘Green Dragon Glaive’ is primarily a TBS area burst that cannot onehit enemies itself but is a nice finishing move to get rid of many damaged enemies at once.
‘Green Dragon Strike’ is generally only useful in PvP. If your general loses a certain percentage of health he can deal massive single target damage with this skill but also loses a great amount of action points. This skill adds a stun counter, very unusual in abilities.
Summary: the General is the arch-nemesis of all ranged attackers. He can severely weaken these enemies and dish out lots of standard attack damage as well. His defence is mediocre so a place in your front row is not always advisable, though possible with the right equipment and support.
The Western World image of druids is usually one of old men, hung with animal skins and using a sickle to find herbs in the woods. Something like that…
The Druid in Atlantica Online however is a young, dwarf-sized fellow who swings an enormously large axe (hence the proverb that small men like big, errm, instruments ^^). His loyal follow is a BIG teddybear on two legs. So there are some doubts about him being a peaceful herb gatherer… in fact, he likes it much more to chop unsuspecting mobs to pieces with the help of his big friend. You better don’t ask what he does with the bodies… just.. don’t..
As an axe-wielder he attacks a full row, i.e. up to 3 targets at once. His strength development is one of the best in the game so the damage output is quite high if he multi-hits. Like the General he lacks defence compared to Spartans, Valkyries or Champions.
Druids are among the most popular mercenaries because they are useful in ALL game modes. No matter if you love the old or new combat system, PvE or PvP, the Druid is always a good choice. This is not primarily because of his own attacks but because of his abilities.
‘Beast’s Soul’ is arguably the most powerful buff in Atlantica, comparable only to Seth’s/Divine Will and in contrast to those it affects up to 5 targets in TBS rather than just one. Beast’s Soul adds a generous amount of critical hit chance as well as some multi-hit and a massive boost to attack power that is in fact the highest in game. It turns your damage dealers and siege engines (TBS missions) into mass murderers. In PvP, critical hits are even more important because Burst Damage is especially useful here.
Thus you should not be surprised to find Druids in every kind of formation, often combined with an oracle or a goddess for the absolutely overpowering BS+SW/DW combo.
His second skill is ‘Forest Prison’. You won’t use it often in PvE but mostly in PvP. It works like other row controls in that it prevents a row of enemies from acting (single target only in TBS).
Summary: Druids are part of many advanced players’ formations. They are among the cheapest grade A mercenaries and arguably one of the most useful in all game modes. With his extremely potent ‘Beast’s Soul’ buff and an acceptable damage output as well as some defensive potential with ‘Forest Prison’, the Druid is a no-brainer.
The name Odysseus should ring a bell. Wasn’t he the one doing that, err… oh right, that Odyssee?
Indeed, Odysseus was that guy who adulterated his way through lots of sex-crazed sirens and who slew many endangered fantasy species, aided by a bunch of no-good drunkards with more muscles than brain cells.
It is no great surprise therefore that he’s got more muscle than the young Arnold Schwarzenegger and that he loves nothing more than taking a beating.
But enough of this blasphemy 😉
Because Champions are the nonplus ultra of defensive power. Neither normal attacks nor magic can really harm your champion, he just stays upright in the first row and takes everything the enemy throws at him.
His abilities not only make him the best tank in Atlantica but also debuff enemies to do less damage.
His vitality development is the highest in game and his hit points are further boosted by the passive ‘Athena’s Protection’.
‘Weapon Rend’ is a very powerful debuff that reduces hit and critical hit chance of up to 5 enemies. It is in fact the (arguably) most devastating debuff against standard attacks for those will either miss or deal noncritical damage. In contrast to the Spartan’s ‘War Cry’ it is not possible to counter WR with another skill. The major advantage over War Cry is that not being hit at all is better than taking 1 hit. War Cry prevents multihits but you still get a stun counter and critical hits are likely. Weapon Rend grants a chance that the enemy misses completely and if he hits it is probably noncritical.
‘Athena’s Protection’ affects all sword-users in your formation. It boosts both defense and vitality and even heals a bit every turn. This skill is especially potent if you have more than one sword-wielding mercenary. While dedicated tanks like valkyries or lady knights become even more ‘tanky’, defensively weak mercenaries like piartes, warlords or exorcists can survive in the front row if they’re buffed with AP.
‘Shield Bash’ is an emergency skill that disables a single target. The use is very limited in PvE but in PvP you will have to consider if Weapon Rend or Shield Bash are more useful.
Summary: The most powerful tank in game, there is nothing that can stop a Champion from fulfilling his role. By bringing a very potent debuff and a passive defense-buff to all sword-users he’s also a great teamplayer, both weakening foes and aiding allies.