Abbreviation: IMP

These mechanical menaces hail from the Empire in Etrian Odyssey IV, where they clutched the game balance by the throat and spat in its face. They utilize a cooldown system, trading constant attacks for single, great burst turns. Incredibly hard to kill and with attacks that can kill a god, Imperials' only downsides were their action speed, and how much SP you needed to invest in them to draw out their full potential, plus they were unlocked fairly late.

Nexus nerfed them. Hard. They can still tear holes in the fabric of reality, as well as EO4 in fact, but now they have to worry about two things: getting splatted while preparing a Drive, and their TP pool. Angels still cry when they hear the roar of their Drive attacks, but you will now have to build your party specifically to bring that power out reliably. Still, they can now use Ignition without using a bunch of Drives first and as a free action, and Nexus has lots of support for burst attacks. They may not be invincible god-slaying machines any longer, but gods will nevertheless fall lifeless.



Strong Points: HP STR, VIT
Average Points: INT, WIS
Worst in the Game: TP, AGI, LUC

Equippable Weapons: Sword, Drive Blade
Equippable Armor: Heavy Armor, Light Armor

Common Passives: Mine (Novice), Status DEF Up (Veteran), HP Up (Master), Element Boost (Master)

Skills: Force

Boost: Ignition
For 3 turns, stops the user from entering the Overheat state. Does not dispel the Overheat state if it is currently active.
Ignition is a monstrous damage boost, TP permitting. Heavy emphasis on "TP permitting," actually, because you're going to have a lot of trouble getting more than, at most, two Drives per Ignition window, without having to feed the Imperial an Amrita, or have them just end Ignition early to use Conversion.
TP consumption during Ignition is hilarious and makes me wish Etheric Boon was an Imperial native skill.
It's important to note that Ignition only prevents Overheat if it hasn't already happened; if your Imperial is already in Overheat when using Ignition, Overheat won't come off (another nerf from its EO4 incarnation). Anyways, it's essentially the strongest Force Boost in the game by a country mile (almost nothing comes anywhere close), and your strategy on how to make the best use out of it while keeping your Imperial fueled and safe will heavily impact their effectiveness in your party.

Break: Conversion

Restores the user's TP. Can overheal the user's TP, without a limit. The overheal is removed at the end of battle, or when the user dies.
Conversion is crucial for making Imperials not dead weight in non-random encounters in the earlygame and midgame. While it stings to lock yourself out of Ignition for the entire battle, giving your Imperial the ability to use more than one or two Drives without item support is, y'know, pretty nice.
Imperials have a way of shortening battles, so Conversion is really only worth it in the early game, and later if you don't have a setup that lets you end battles fast. If you have a Farmer, using all three turns of Ignition and then taking a rest turn while the Farmer refreshes their Force may be a good idea, to have them use one or two more Ignition turns and then Conversion.
Conversion's value depends a lot on how fast you can end battles. If you have a really bursty party that reliably end battles in four or five turns, then you probably won't need it at all after midgame or so, but most balanced party that take longer to end battles will probably end up needing to use it for a long while. If you do plan on using it, you will want to be extra careful to not let your Imperial die, as doing so will strip away the overhealed TP. It's also a nice tool to instantly restore all TP once during exploration.

Also, beware that there are reports of Negotiation and Absorber instantly stripping away most of the overhealed TP if they happen to restore enough TP to go over the "new" maximum TP after Conversion (Absorber will still account for the TP used for the skill itself, so using an Elemental Drive is still safe). If you plan on using them to alleviate TP issues, use up some immediately to not risk triggering this purported bug.
Skills: Novice

Sharp Edge

Starter skill. Deals melee STR-based cut damage to one enemy. If the user is in the Overheat state, reduces the Overheat state's duration.
Sharp Edge isn't great in the early game, where the only combo skill you have is Blood Edge, and where your Overheat duration is long enough that Heat Sink's larger duration decrease is considerably more attractive. Once you get points in Intercooler and Impulse Edge, though, Sharp Edge starts to look a lot better.
Until you can max Heat Sink, spamming Sharp Edge is better in both average damage and average TP than spamming Heat Sink. Once you max out Heat Sink though, Sharp Edge is only useful if you happen to incorporate one in your cooldown cycle. At the very least, you won't need to invest more in it than necessary for prerequisites, regardless of whether you use it or not.
Natural Edge

Starter skill. Deals melee STR-based damage to one enemy. The element is determined by the user's currently-equipped weapon
It's a starter skill that just deals damage. It can be imbued, though, meaning it can activate Absorber, which is nice--get some TP for your troubles.
Natural Edge has great TP-to-damage efficiency, especially if you imbue it. In randoms, it'll serve you alright if you don't need to delete something with a Drive, but Imperial has a better tool for Randoms. Otherwise, it's just the cheapest possible Starter skill.
Natural Edge is what you'll be using most of the time against random encounters, unless you take a subclass that gives you better sword skills, and it's also a great choice to use to connect to finisher edge skills. There are edge skills out there with better damage and/or effects, but Natural Edge's extremely TP cost makes it very attractive regardless.

Blood Edge

Combo skill; can only be used if a starter skill was used on the previous turn. Deals melee STR-based cut damage to one enemy. Restores the user's HP, for a percentage of the damage dealt.
Keeps your Imperial's HP topped up in dungeon treks. I don't really care for Blood Edge in FOE or boss fights, though.
The strongest Combo skill, which makes it nice in randoms. Well, strongest but also more SP intensive than Cool Edge, which has similar power. Still.
This is a pretty good skill to use on randoms after a Starter Edge skill, as its damage to TP ratio is competitive with even Natural Edge, while it does more damage per hit. There aren't many reasons to use it in boss fights, though, and you might want to use another Combo skill after hitting Veteran instead.

Heavy Guard

Increases one party member's defense, but makes them act last, for a set number of turns.
Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Ostensibly, this is to help shore up Imperial's extreme fragility during Drive preparation. In practice, though, the duration's way too short to really be that useful. You'd be better off having a party member who can help keep the Imperial safe during Drive prep.
several other classes also appreciates having this buff, particularly Protectors who are covering for other characters. Unlike in EO4, guard skills also have priority and thus you can safely use Heavy Guard on your mitigators. Of course, it also involves using your Imperial as a support of all things. It's not unworkably bad, but you do need to plan beforehand on how to insert this skill in your party's schedule.
Assault Drive

Only usable if the user is not in the Overheat state. Deals melee STR-based cut damage to one enemy. Causes the user to enter the Overheat state. Increases all damage taken by the user until activation.
The first Drive! Can't hit elemental weaknesses, but costs the least TP of any of the Drives, and has the shortest cooldown.
You could just use this for the whole game if you wanted. I don't, though. I need bigger numbers.
With max level Intercooler and max level Heat Sink, you can just repeat Assault Drive and Heat Sink for a strong working combo with minimal amount of SP needed. However, it has relatively low damage due to the lack of Charge Edge, and Elemental Drive tends to be unquestionably better if you go for a longer cycle that incorporates it. It's a good interim to have until you have enough SP and maximum TP to work with Elemental or Accel Drive, at least.

Assault Drive->Heat Sink (max): 450% damage for 27.5 TP per turn
Assault Drive->Natural Edge (max)->Cool Edge (Lv2)->Charge Edge (max): 620% damage for 24 TP per turn

Heat Sink

Only usable if the user is in the Overheat state. Reduces the Overheat state's duration.
Heat Sink is best in the early game, where Sharp Edge isn't as useful and you don't have the ability to learn Intercooler, but falls off as the game goes on.
Heat Sink is used to allow Assault Drive to be used every two turns, and set up working cycles for Accel Drive that doesn't involve more than three turns of downtime. Elemental Drives have no need for it.

Heat Shield

Reduces all damage the user takes when they are in the Overheat state.
Okay? Imperials don't really need defense when they're Overheated, they need defense on the turns where they're about to use Drives.
A Protector or Hero or someone who likes to attract attacks and doesn't care about their weapon would enjoy this. Gives your Protector a big attack they can throw out when they don't need to protect, too.
I find it surprisingly useful as Imperial's MDEF is really bad, and they tend to really want an accessory of some kind which further drives their defense down. The magnitude is certainly not bad for a passive that's on most of the time.


When any party member dies, restores HP to the user.
Not worth it, even if it only takes four skill points to max out. I generally don't like investing in on-death skills.
I... listen, gang. Real talk. I like defending "underdog" skills. I cannot defend Avenger, except if you have a spare SP and want some flavor. The opposite of this, Morale Boost, I can defend. This? Nah. Unless you're silly like me, consider not picking this up.
The idea here seems be that Imperial is bulky enough to survive AoE nukes that can one-shot half of your party, and this can make it easier for you to recover from such a situation. In my experience though, most Nexus bosses don't hit anywhere hard enough to warrant something like this. Take it if you want an insurance of this kind, but they're probably going to be dead SP for the most part.

Skills: Veteran

Massive Edge

Starter skill. Deals melee STR-based cut damage to one enemy, with splash damage.
Hey, a starter skill for random encounters. That's neat. Pretty expensive, though.
The ultimate randoms skill. Hardest hitting Starter skill, and their only skill with multi-target coverage. It's expensive-ish, but the animation for it is like a miniature Drive which is cool as hell.
Expensive as it is, it's something that Imperial really wants in randoms unless they have a subclass that provides them with better sword skills.

Cool Edge

Combo skill; can only be used if a starter skill was used on the previous turn. Deals melee STR-based cut damage to one enemy. If the user is in the Overheat state, reduces the Overheat state's duration.
Pretty decent connecting skill, though a bit unattractive compared to Impulse Edge.
While all around better than Sharp Edge, you can't spam it. Sharp Edge->Cool Edge is not as good as max level Heat Sink, either, so it's only useful to connect to Charge Edge really.

Trip Edge

Starter skill. Deals melee STR-based cut damage to one enemy. Attempts to bind the target's legs.
I mean... Imperials have an okay chance to land that leg bind based on their STR, though their literal-worst-in-the-game LUC hampers that.
Imperial has an accuracy problem, which a lucky Trip Edge could fix. Target Goggles also can, though. Do you feel lucky?
You can use this instead of Natural Edge as your Starter in boss battles if you want to fish for a leg bind, but I prefer the cheaper Natural Edge over fishing for something that's probably not going to help much to begin with.

Impulse Edge

Combo skill; can only be used if a starter skill was used on the previous turn. Deals melee STR-based cut damage to one enemy. Restores the user's TP.
Now here's some good shit. Max this out as soon as you can; even though the damage is really bad, the TP restore is crucial for keeping Imperials going in longer fights.
Impulse Edge is amazing in exploration and can basically keep your Imperial going and spamming edge skills ad infinitum, and is something you probably want to max out sooner than later. I wouldn't advise using it in boss battles, though - if you have TP issues, just pop a Conversion. If you end up using up all the surplus TP from Conversion... then I'm not even sure how you got to such a position to begin with.


Increases the damage of Drive skills. Reduces the duration of Overheat states.
Max this shit out as soon as you can.
Until you switch from Assault Drive to whatever you switch to next, this can stay at five. This can get you two Sharp -> Impulse combos in with six turns of cooldown without wasting one turn, letting you perfectly field a level 10 Assault Drive's TP cost.
One of the most important things when working with an Imperial is to have a schedule that sets the pace for your Imperial and the rest of the team, and the sooner you max this out, the earlier you can start having a schedule that you can work with for the rest of the game. Max it immediately.

Flame Drive / Freeze Drive / Shock Drive

Only usable if the user is not in the Overheat state. Deals melee STR-based cut + fire (Flame Drive), cut + ice (Freeze Drive), or cut + volt (Shock Drive) damage to one enemy. Causes the user to enter the Overheat state. Increases all damage taken by the user until activation.
Hello, old friends. These are the mid-tier Drives, and will serve you well for a lot of the game. They'll eventually get outpaced by Accel Drive, though depending on the situation, you may want to stick with these for the lower TP cost and lower Overheat duration.
I did not touch these. The damage is not high enough from Assault for me to bother, not to mention sometimes they can't hit a weakness which makes them weak. Their TP cost is also higher, Absorber does not compensate nearly enough for that. And by the time I could afford these, I could afford Accel, so.
Even when hitting weaknesses, Elemental Drives do less damage than Accel upfront, but Accel's extra turn of cooldown makes your cooldown cycle a lot more awkward. Between Element Boost and Absorber, Elemental Drives can essentially have Accel Drive like damage while having Assault Drive like TP efficiency, and it's the undisputed winner if you have a Sovereign in your party supplying Arms buff. However, it also eats up the highest amount of SP, and tends to be rather piddlish if you can't hit a weakness. You may want to use an Assault Drive build early on, and Rest to an Elemental Drive build when you have enough SP (which is probably somewhere around level 50-70, depends on how important you find Element Boost and Absorber to be).

Elemental Drive->Sharp Edge (lv2)->Cool Edge (lv2)->Charge Edge (max): 645% damage for 26 TP per turn (without accounting for Absorber or Element Boost)

Skills: Master

Charge Edge

Final skill; only usable if a starter skill or combo skill was used last turn. Deals melee STR-based cut damage to one enemy. Until the end of the next turn, increases damage dealt by the user.
Charge Edge lets you get way more damage per turn relative to a given Overheat duration, but wow that TP cost.
I mean, it's a pretty fair TP cost, considering it's essentially a second, delayed Drive. Hell, compared to Elementals and Accel, it's discounted.
Unless you can end battles consistently with just one Ignition (or two back-to-back Ignitions with Farmer Support) plus one drive, this skill is very, very important to squeezing out more damage from your Imperial.

Force Edge

Final skill; only usable if a starter skill or combo skill was used last turn. Deals melee STR-based cut damage to one enemy. Restores the user's Force.
More Ignitions? Gimme gimme gimme.
If you finished an Ignition run naturally, chances are you don't have enough TP to handle a second. Could use this if you want to get off a quick Conversion, I guess.
Unless you're speeding things up by tossing Axcelas, this is not worth it compared to a normal cooldown cycle.

Accel Drive->Sharp Edge (Lv2)->Force Edge (max)->Sharp Edge (Lv2)->Force Edge (max)->Natural Edge (max)->Force Edge (max)->Accel Drive->Accel Drive: 572% damage for 29 TP per turn
Accel Drive->Natural Edge (max)->Force Edge (max)->Natural Edge (max)->Force Edge (max)->Natural Edge (max)->Force Edge (max)->Accel Drive->Accel Drive: 640% damage for 28 TP per turn

Accel Drive

Only usable if the user is not in the Overheat state. Deals melee STR-based cut + almighty damage to one enemy. Causes the user to enter the Overheat state. Increases all damage taken by the user until activation.
The best Drive of them all, but it comes with a steeper TP cost and longer cooldown. In some cases, you may want to stick with an elemental Drive to save on TP and cooldown. In the very, very, very lategame, though, Accel Drive will be your go-to in a lot of cases in prolonged fights.

In randoms, though, you'll probably want to stick with the elemental Drives, because...
Yeah I didn't even bother with the elementals, because 1200% power. The cooldown isn't as significant as you'd think, or maybe I only think that because I only ever use my Imperial with a Farmer. I should stop that. See what the life is like otherwise. Hm.
It has the highest damage multipler upfront (higher than even Elemental Drives when hitting weakness), and requires less SP to work with elemental drives, but the TP cost is a thing and the one extra turn of cooldown compared to Elemental Drive is very annoying. If you have a burst party that focuses on ending things in one Ignition period, you'll want this. If you want your Imperial to be able to deal top tier damage as fast as possible without heed to TP cost, you'll want this. Although of course, if you have a Sovereign supplying elemental arms, then there's pretty much no situation where you want this over the Elemental Drives except against a couple of very special FOEs (by which point you will probably have enough SP to get every drive suite and still have leftovers to spare).

Accel Drive->Heat Sink (max)->Natural Edge (max)->Charge Edge (max): 716% damage for 30.5 TP per turn

Restores the user's TP when they hit an enemy's weakness.
Look, a way to slightly offset elemental Drive costs when using them on weaknesses!
Doesn't do it for me. For it to make an Elemental Drive cost as much as Assault, your Imperial would need to have 500 TP, at which point you don't need Absorber or any TP management at all anyway and have not for the past about 250 TP. Has merit with imbued Natural Edge, I suppose.
Because Conversion actually increase max TP temporarily, that 1% from level 4 is very important and can easily result in Elemental Drives being actually cheaper than Assault Drive later on. It's also kinda nice for random battles, I guess.

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