After finishing up with Ophilia's solo game, I had completed six of the eight main characters in Octopath Traveler. Before moving on to the final two characters, I wanted to take a break and explore the gameplay of one of the powerful secret jobs once again just as I'd earlier done with the Runelord. The job that interested me the most was the Warmaster, the preeminent physical damage class and a strong contender for overall best job in the game. I needed to pick one of the eight characters to serve as the Warmaster since it's not one of the default starting jobs and the obvious choice was Olberic. He gets the highest physical damage and max health as well as being the best fit from a thematic perspective. Alfyn and H'aanit also would have been perfectly serviceable but I valued Olberic's Challenge ability much higher than what either of them brought to the table. H'aanit's Provoke is a pain in the rear to use since she has to work through captured monsters and Alfyn's Inquire just isn't that good. As a quick refresher for our rules in an Octopath Traveler solo game, the seven other characters will all be recuited (to allow playing through their respective storylines) but won't take any part in combat. The lesson that I learned from my initial Tressa solo game is that the Path Actions of the other characters also need to be included or else it locks out too much of the gameplay. So that's the rule for this game: Olberic can use the other characters to Scrutinize/Inquire for information, Guide/Allure NPCs in town, and Steal/Purchase items, but none of those other skills can be used for combat purposes.
I ran into a problem immediately when I tried to start this variant: the Cheat Engine scripts that I used to unlock the secret jobs from the start of the game weren't working! I swear that I was following the exact same steps as when I created Runelord Tressa and nothing was happening. It turned out that I wasn't crazy and the Steam client had made some kind of update to Octopath Traveler in the months since my previous Runelord game which was now stopping the Cheat Engine scripts from working. After some frantic Google searching, I found a solution in a forum post by someone named penguinicus who had run into the same problem and updated the scripting language needed to get the whole thing working again. (Officially, "the base offsets seem to have shifted backwards by 7680 (0x1e00)" in a Steam update; I won't pretend that I know what that means.) I followed the instructions and sure enough I was able to get the Cheat Engine scripts working again to unlock the Warmaster class from the start of the game. Whew! Just to be safe, I created savegame files for the other secret jobs, the Sorcerer and the Starseer, in case something like this happens again.
In any case, I turned Olberic into a Warmaster immediately and snapped a screenshot of the resulting stats. Keep in mind that these numbers are modified by the fact that I was using Olberic as the base character for the Warmaster job; these numbers would look different if a someone else had been chosen for the solo run. Warmaster Olberic had an incredibly high physical attack stat of 107, a notable increase even above the base Olberic value of 96 in this category. Physical defense similarly topped the scales and the Warmaster job provided some modest bonuses to Olberic's accuracy, speed, and evasion. For the curious, the "average" stat in each category is 80 and it was easy to see that the Warmaster's strengths were based in dishing out and taking physical damage. The tradeoffs for these benefits came at the expense of terrible SP growth, poor evasion, and nonexistent elemental attack. Olberic wouldn't need the elemental attack stat since his damage would be entirely physical but lousy evasion and horribly low SP totals would be real problems for this character.
Olberic was no longer a Warrior and lost the innate access to swords and spears from his base job. He was more than compensated though because the Warmaster has the amazing ability to equip all six physical weapon types: swords, spears, daggers, axes, bows, and staffs. This is insanely useful and it forms one of the greatest strengths of the Warmaster job. Most solo characters are limited to a couple of damage types and find themselves unable to break the shields of many opponents. There are always a bunch of situations where I'm tossing soulstones at bosses because there's no other way to hit their weaknesses. This wouldn't be the case for the Warmaster however since Olberic would be able to bust out some kind of deadly weapon no matter what the enemy's weaknesses might look like. There are only a tiny handful of opponents that lack a weakness to any of the six physical weapons and the Warmaster would be able to break the endgame bosses with far more ease than pretty much any other character.
Now there was one problem at the start of the game: just because Olberic had access to these six weapon types didn't mean that he started the game with them! Olberic only begins the game with a sword and spear because those are the two weapons used by his default Warrior job and I couldn't make use of the other weapons until finding them on his journey. (Normally your characters always have a "makeshift" weapon in each slot if you unequip them of their gear but Olberic lacked even that basic gear because of the way that I had cheated to unlock this secret job.) The net result was an inability to use one of the two starting Warmaster abilities:
Tiger Rage is a useful ability that hits all enemies on screen with a fairly strong axe blow; the damage was higher than Alfyn's Last Stand ability and I'd gotten a lot of good use out of that skill in the Alfyn solo game. However, Tiger Rage was completely unusable at the moment because Olberic lacked any kind of axe! I tested this out and when I selected the command nothing happened at all. The ability would not execute from the menu. It looked like Olberic was going to have to hunt down some other weapon types before he could start making use of this ability. Furthermore, note the other huge problem for the Warmaster skills: each of these skills cost a whopping 35 spirit points apiece. At Level 1, Olberic had a grand total of 40 SP which meant he could use exactly one ability before running out. That was a real problem with taking a secret endgame job and shoving it into the early stages of the gameplay. The designers didn't intend for this job to be available this early and it caused some weirdness in terms of using abilities.
While we're on the subject, here's the full list of Warmaster skills:
As with all jobs in Octopath Traveler, the first two abilities are an innate part of the class and then the following five skills can be unlocked in any order once there are enough job points. The final Divine skill requires unlocking all of the other seven skills before it can be taken to finish off the class. The Warmaster ends up getting one skill for each of its six physical damage types and some of them are significantly more useful than others. The sword ability, Guardian Liondog, was good for shield-breaking but pretty bad in terms of damage. It was reminiscient of Olberic's Thousand Spears and H'aanit's Rain of Arrows although a little bit better than both of them in damage. Tiger Rage (axe) and Yatagarasu (dagger) and Fox Spirit (staff) were all identical skills that happened to be tied to different weapon types. I'd have to decide which ones to prioritize based on what weapons Olberic was using at the time. Qilin’s Horn (spear) and Phoenix Storm (bow) were also identical in function but single-target abilities instead of multi-targeted ones. I knew that one of those two skills would be Olberic's first target when he could accumulate the 2000 job points needed to make his first pick in the class. As for the Divine skill, that would take some time to unlock and I'll discuss it when it became available down the road. (For a longer explanation of what all these numbers mean, I'll direct readers to this page in the solo Tressa game.)
Anyway, Olberic was largely limited to auto attacking for the moment since Guardian Liondog was too expensive to use more than once and Tiger Rage didn't function at all. Fortunately Olberic could function just fine with his melee blows and the massive physical strength tied to the Warmaster job had him slapping around the poor random monsters outside Cobbleston with no issues. Whe it came to the Gaston boss at the end of the first dungeon, Olberic broke his opponent and then used a max boosted verson of his only available skill:
Guardian Liondog hits for a variable number of sword attacks when used; the text states 5-10 but more realistically the skill seems to result in 3-6 attacks that actually hit the target. This appears to be a purely chance-based ability and increasing the accuracy stat doesn't do anything to make the skill hit more often. Each strike from Guardian Liondog does slightly less damage than a normal sword attack (and the target actually gets a defensive boost) along with a poor return from investing additional boost points into the skill. In other words, this is something that should be used for popping shields and not intended for damage. Olberic had no other options at the moment though and he was able to get a few hundred points of damage out of it. Since this was the one battle where the game assumed that I'd be using a solo character, Gaston was defeated in short order without any serious threats.
With the initial introductory story completed, the gameplay opened up for Olberic for the first time. I went around Challenging everyone in town for no particular reason other than the fun of beating up the random NPCs just going about their normal routines. There were a couple of townspeople who were too difficult at the moment and I'd have to bring Olberic back to get them later. At this early stage of the game the shops were actually useful for a change, and I purchased the very nice Silver Vest to give Olberic some decent defensive stats to go along with the Black Cap that he'd found in the Brigands Den. The first character that I wanted to recruit was Tressa for her indispensible Purchase Path Action. Thus it was off to Rippletide where Olberic was able to find some additional weapon types for sale in the local store:
The merchants were selling an early bow and staff in their shop and I wanted both of them to unlock those weapon types for Olberic. With only enough funds to purchase one of them, I went for the Wolf's Bow since there are far more enemies weak against bows than staffs. (I would grab the Quartz Rod as well after finishing the Cave of Maiya dungeon.) That bow ended up seeing a lot of use while journeying through Tressa's Chapter 1 story; the default Merchant weapon types are spears and bows which meant that every monster was weak against one of them. The bow was particularly helpful against the bosses at the end of the cave as Makk was only weak against bows and staffs. I made sure to use spear attacks for Mikk and bow attacks for Makk while healing with grapes whenever damage accumulated on Olberic. This was easy stuff and the Warmaster had no difficulties despite lacking any useful abilities for this fight.
After gaining additional levels from the trip north to the Coastlands, I teleported back to Cobbleston where Olberic was able to Challenge the local guard captain and defeat him in battle. This gained Olberic entry into the NPC's house where there was a treasure chest holding the Captain's Sword, a significant upgrade with +60 physical attack and the occasional chance to debuff the target's physical defense. (Uh, did we just assault this poor guard and then steal his property? Better not to think about these things too closely.) This weapon upgrade meant that the swords slot was temporarily the strongest weapon type for Olberic, something that would change frequently as he progressed throughout the game. I would use the Captain's Sword as his primary weapon for most of the remaining Chapter 1 stories.
The next character to recruit was Cyrus to bring his Scrutinize Path Action into the fold. Cyrus has one of the easier introductory story sequences and Warmaster Olberic crushed his way through it. I'd been able to pick up a basic dagger in Atlasdam and Olberic now had every weapon type except axes (amusingly the one that he most needed right now). It's worth emphasizing again just how powerful it is to have so many different types of damage on hand. Olberic could break the boss Russell with swords or daggers or even staffs. I took a picture of Olberic smacking the corrupt scholar over the head with the Quartz Rod because of the slightly goofy animation that the Warmaster uses when wielding a staff. Russell had eight shields and they might as well have been toilet paper with the way that I could boost Olberic and smash right through them with melee auto attacks. Four boost points meant four shields smashed. I was getting a real kick out of the fact that the Warmaster job wasn't even using its abilities yet and still dominated these early opponents.
Cyrus was useful to have on board for fulfilling a number of side quests and discovering hidden items. I was knocking out the side quests in each town as usual, in part for their actual rewards and in part because they're an important source of income at the start of the game when a new character needs to buy tons of different things. Atlasdam is also located close to Noblecourt out in the second ring and I made my typical fast jaunt out there with Olberic. He had to win a single battle against the more dangerous second ring opponents and I smashed a soulstone to secure the victory. This opened up access to the superior gear available in Noblecourt and I was most interested at the moment in filling Olberic's unused accessory slots. Tressa Purchased an Empowering Bracelet for +500 max HP and beating up an NPC just outside of town granted the Gravekeeper's Mark for +50 max SP, highly useful for the SP-starved Olberic. I hadn't even known that it was possible to complete the Gravekeeper's Grief quest in this fashion since only the other solution was listed in my reference guide. In any case, Olberic could now use his Warmaster abilities a whole 3 times without running out of spirit points, heh.
I reversed directions around the inner ring at this point and began heading in clockwise fashion to recruit Primrose. Poor Ophilia simply isn't very useful for a solo game and always seems to get passed over as a result. While traveling towards Sunshade, Olberic came across his first Cait and broke a soulstone for the big 1000 XP and 100 job points payout. He was still only halfway towards unlocking his third Warmaster skill but gradually making progress on that front. The village of Sunshade finally had an axe for sale and I eagerly snatched that up for Olberic even though the Arcane Hatchet had useless points in elemental attack on it. Olberic could now wield all six physical damage types and break pretty much anything under the sun.
It also meant that the Tiger Rage skill could finally be used in battle and Olberic served it up against Helgenish in the boss fight at the end of Primrose's story sequence. Now Tiger Rage is a multi-targeted attack and therefore generally not that great at killing bosses. However, with an attack modifier of 1.65 it's roughly as strong as the single target elemental spells available to the basic job classes: Tressa's Tradewinds and Ophilia's Holy Light and Primrose's Moonlight Waltz and so on. Each of these skills has the same attack modifier (1.64) so Tiger Rage was roughly equivalent while hitting everything on screen instead of a single target. The downside was the extremely high cost in SP at 35 apiece which would drain Olberic's mana reserves almost immediately. But I had enough for three uses thanks to that Gravekeeper's Mark and it turned out that Helgenish died in two uses of the ability without even getting around to the third. Imagine that, actually using the Warmaster class abilities for a change!
Olberic had accumulated enough money by this point to hop back to Noblecourt and Purchase the Imperial Vest. This was a sturdy upgrade to the Silver Vest with 120 points of physical and elemental defense, and by now Olberic was starting to reach the point where the critters inhabiting the inner ring couldn't really damage him any longer. He had 2000 HP and they were mostly attacking for single digit damage. In any case Alfyn's Chapter 1 story was up next and the main precaution that I had to take was stocking up on lots of Healing Herbs for poison curation. There's a bunch of venomous snakes in the Cave of Rhiyo and I lacked an Antidote Stone for Olberic at this early stage of the game. For the Blotted Viper boss at the end, I had to refrain from using Tiger Rage since it would hit the snake minions and wipe them off the battlefield, therefore allowing the big snake to use its stunning attack. One of the two Mottled Asps had to stay alive which meant leaving the big area of effect abilities off the table. Instead Olberic concentrated on breaking the Blotted Viper repeatedly and then hitting it with max boosted quadruple auto attacks. Four of these attacks would deal about 250 x 4 = 1000 damage and that was plenty to wear down the boss. I had to spend a lot of rounds curing poison but that was pretty much the only annoyance for Olberic.
Once Alfyn's initial storyline was complete, I was able to access to the side quests in Clearbrook and pick up the Mighty Belt accessory. This is highly useful for physical damage classes as it adds 50 points to physical attack. I went ahead and dropped the Gravekeeper's Mark (losing the 50 extra SP) as it was more valuable to have that extra attack power as compared to being able to use a Warmaster ability one extra time. Olberic had also accumulated the 2000 job points needed to select a third skill in his class. I thought it over a bit and ultimately selected Qilin's Horn:
The immediate question that comes to mind is probably "what in the world is a qilin?" This turns out to be a mythical creature in Chinese culture much like how Western mythology has fantastical creatures like griffins and unicorns. While they can be represented in a variety of forms, qilin generally look like Eastern dragons with large antlers on top of their heads. It's generally believed that qilin were based on early stories of giraffes in the same way that unicorns were based on stories about rhinoceros. As far as the in-game application of the Qilin's Horn skill went, this was one of the two single-target abilities available to the Warmaster class. The closest comparison is probably to the Warrior job's Cross Strike skill but Qilin's Horn has a higher base attack value (2.25 versus 1.90) and it debuffs the target's physical defense to a greater degree (0.60 versus 0.67 - lower is better here). Long story short, this is a very powerful ability and it compares favorably to some of the Divine skills in terms of pure damage. For example, the Merchant Divine skill Bifelgan's Bounty has an attack of 9.80 which is only slightly higher than a max boosted Qilin's Horn (9.00) and it doesn't debuff the target's defenses to the same degree. The only real drawback to Qilin's Horn was the extremely expensive SP cost at 35 per casting, far too high for anything other than boss fights at this stage of the game.
I used Qilin's Horn against Heathcote at the end of Therion's Chapter 1 story and it was completely devastating as expected. One use of Qilin's Horn followed by one use of Tiger Rage was sufficient to win this battle (which was good because Olberic only had enough SP for those two abilities!) Even with the 2600 damage output pictured above, this was still underselling Qilin's Horn because Olberic was using a crummy spear with something like +20 physical attack at the moment. I had chosen Qilin's Horn over some of the other Warmaster skills because I knew there was a major spear upgrade on the horizon soon. It was just a matter of finishing up with the remaining towns in the inner ring first.
Therion is arugably the most crucial addition to the team since he can unlock the purple treasure chests scattered around the world in additional to using his Steal Path Action. I traveled back to Noblecourt so that Therion could swipe the Oasis Hat from the Impressario outside of town (make sure not to fulfill Kit's quest until after the party has this item) and then set about completing the various side stories in Bolderfall. Olberic managed to hit Level 25 while he was Challenging everyone in Bolderfall and that allowed him to initiate a fight with the pictured Granddaughter back in Clearbrook. She's easy to defeat in a Challenge fight but has an oddly high level requirement to enter the house she's blocking (I've gotten past this on previous runs by using H'aanit's Provoke but didn't have her recruited yet). Olberic knocked the unfortunate Granddaughter out of the way and that allowed Therion to save-scrum a successful 3% Steal of the Golden Axe inside. This is true Renegade behavior here, bashing down the door and stealing a weapon from the Old Man hiding inside, but the Golden Axe was strong enough that it was worth the dubious ethical behavior. It put every other weapon to shame with its +265 physical attack - prior to this, Olberic's best weapon had been the Captain's Sword with +60 attack. Bit of an upgrade there! I would be emphasizing Olberic's axes for the immediate future since this was so far superior to everything else.
H'aanit's story segment was the next one in line as I continued circling through the inner ring and fortunately the Woodlands were full of creatures who were weak against axes. I stopped to visit the Path of Beasts en route to S'warkii and when Olberic ran into the dangerous triple Giant Boar encounter he simply swatted everything away with Tiger Rage. Even these tanky monsters died instantly in one hit to the newly empowered Warmaster skill since it used the Golden Axe as its base weapon type. It was the same story for the Ghisarma:
5000+ damage at this stage of the game was an awful lot. Keep in mind that Tiger Rage isn't even intended to be used as a boss-killing ability and the whole thing just became sillier. These last few Chapter 1 story segments had essentially become a joke by now, and while it's true that they always tend to be fairly simple to complete once the solo character has gained some levels and picked up improved equipment, the Warmaster job was absolutely destroying everything in its path. Take a look at this screenshot for another example:
These were some of the monsters that Olberic encountered in a random encounter near Flamesgrace. He was already dealing 500 damage from a basic auto attack and this was actually enough to one-shot the little ice lizards. No boost points invested, no abilities used, just swinging that Golden Axe and lopping off the heads of these unlucky critters. It was another sign of the power of this class and the usefulness of having access to all six types of physical damage. Attacks in Octopath Traveler deal 30% more damage if they hit a weakness of some kind and since Olberic was ALWAYS able to target at least one weakness this meant that he effectively had extra damage against everything he came across. It was noticeably more damage than I was used to experiencing with other solo classes and reinforced the dominance of the Warmaster.
Ophilia's story was the only one remaining amongst the Chapter 1 group and I had few worries that anything would stop Olberic's march of destruction. The Guardian of the First Flame had weaknesses to swords, daggers, and staffs so I had Olberic stick with his sword for shield breaking. Once the shields were down, a max boosted Tiger Rage hit for 4700 damage; FYI the boss has 8600 total HP for anyone out there wondering. Ah but look out, the Guardian was about to do its big chargeup attack and the resulting Flame of the Heavens nailed Olberic for...
Ummm, a whole 9 points of damage - quel dommage. The boss summoned its Dark Wisp minions only to see them also flattened by another max boosted Tiger Rage before they could get their explosions off. This was a total pantsing of the boss and Olberic barely took any damage at all. Much as I'd like to make this suspenseful, I always try to report what I'm seeing as accurately as possible and the truth is that the Warmaster class was extremely powerful. Olberic had already accelerated past these initial challenges and he still lacked strong weapons in five out of six slots while also barely being able to use any of the Warmaster class abilities. He was only going to get better and better with time and had barely tapped into his powers at all to date. I knew that this was in the running for the strongest class in the game and couldn't wait to keep pushing and see how far it could go. Up next would be the Chapter 2 stories which I didn't expect to put up much more resistance. Wish the monsters good luck - they're going to need it.