Of all the Organizations in Saga 3, I believe Empire has improved the most. They have received several potent support characters as well as a couple 12/16 characters.
Empire’s average mobility has improved a great deal, and having more potent support options have helped dampen or outright eliminate many of Empire’s traditional weaknesses. Combat Mastery allows Empire to pierce through enemy defenses despite their lower Attack scores and still deal heavy amounts of damage.
Strengths: Highest average Armor/LP totals in the game, high base-damage abilities, Critical Mastery
Weakness: Low average Attack/Defense attributes, lowest average resistance attribute in the game, vulnerable to anti-armor characters, more reliant on good dice rolls.
Without a doubt she is one of the best Leaders in the game, standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Romeo and XII. While she is the most expensive Empire character, she is easily worth all 75 of her levels.
Lilith’s has an impressive Attribute line-up, from her 6 attack to her 4/5 AP regeneration, she possess some of the best stats in the game. She even gets bonuses to her defense against Ranged Attacks, making her all but untouchable from a distance.
She is a potent threat in almost every situation, whether at melee or range. She possesses a low-cost ranged attack with fairly good stats that also has chance of pulling its target into melee. While it isn’t reliable for its pull effect, it allows Lilith to threaten any character within 16 inches, while simultaneously making the opponent sweat at the prospect of one of his characters suddenly being in the middle of your forces.
Lilith is easily capable of taking on multiple foes due Scorpion Blade, a cheap AoE attack that gives an additional die. While the damage isn’t particularly impressive, it will land fairly often since Lilith possesses Critical Mastery. At 3 AP, Lilith is quite capable of throwing this attack out every round.
Dream of Lust is more situational then the above two, but is quite impressive with 2x 6/8 attacks without any buffs. It a very strong attack, but will likely leave Lilith vulnerable due to its AP cost.
More impressive then her combat abilities, Lilith’s Archmage abilities are a huge boon for Empire. Bless in particular is extremely good, improving Empire’s lower base attack/defense attributes to average levels. It should almost always be up due to Lilith’s high AP regeneration and low ability costs. Don’t forget that Upkeeping Bless doesn’t count towards the once per turn Archmage ability limit. Lilith other Archmage abilities are equally impressive.
The ability to heal and increase resistance scores is invaluable to Empire. This both maximizes one of Empire’s greatest strengths (durability) and helps cover one of their greatest weaknesses (low resistance). Never forget that Protection is reactive, allowing you to save it for when you need it. Last but not least is Lilith’s ability to Seek with a monstrous bonus due to Spy of Light, increasing both the Seek chance and Range.
This set of abilities is why I mentioned that Azur Alliance teams don’t have a good match-up vs a Lilith led Empire team, she simply covers most of Empire traditional weaknesses while preying on one of Azur Alliance’s biggest weaknesses, reliance on Stealth.
Macbeth, more or less because the two of them together will more then cover any support needs your team will have. Macbeth’s consecrate also helps buff Lilith’s already impressive stats, making her even more dangerous in combat. He also benefits a great deal from Lilith’s Bless and Healing Light abilities, making him far tougher than most people would expect.
Supernatural Devourer is extremely potent on Lilith due to her relatively high attack attribute and the low cost of many of her abilities. she can afford to throw out 1-2 ranged attacks a round while still retaining the AP to defend and use her Archmage abilities with this Advantage Card.
Alternatively, Supernatural Weapon/Ultimate Weapon are both good ways to take advantage of Lilith’s high attack attribute. Which you choose will entirely be based on personal preference, but I prefer Supernatural Weapon between the two, as it is always on.
This guy has had a lot of translation issues when he was first spoiled; so many that we honestly weren’t sure how good he really was until a month or so after he was spoiled. In the end, Tiamat turned out to be a solid character that provides many unique advantages to Empire. His optional leader abilities are among the most impressive. A once per game CZ paralyze can be game-changing if used at the right time, and being completely immune to ranged attacks before moving makes him an excellent Shield character for other Empire characters, and it also makes it impossible to drain his AP before he is ready to move.
At 12/16, he is one of the two fastest characters in Empire. This combined with his melee range of 4 inches makes him excellent at harassing enemy support. This particularly rings true with Awe of the Forgotten, which is quite useful if you land it early in a round to Seal a particularly troublesome character. Also keep in mind that tying down Tiamat is all but impossible, due to his speed and Prowler status allowing him to escape on a 4+
World of Wires is somewhat unreliable, but can be quite potent when it sticks. Positioning enemies with characters such as Erika or the Black Lion can be quite devastating. This is also a good way to force the enemy away from your more vulnerable characters and onto your tanks. Even though it is once per game, Wires of Destiny are a level 3 haste, which should last you about half the game. If you cast it on turn 2 or 3 and Tiamat will be going at full power for most of the game
On the downside, while many of Tiamat’s capabilities are impressive in their own right, he doesn’t really do much damage himself, and many of his abilities force him to go early in the round, somewhat negating the usefulness of Perfect Defense in his leader form.
While His true power is impressive, I prefer Tiamat as a non-leader since he fits quite well into lists led by Yuri. I enjoy this particularly due to stacking Initiative bonuses.
Basically any AoE character benefits from Tiamat’s presence due to World of Wires. This allows Tiamat to position enemies in your “kill zone” forcing them into unfavorable (for them) positions.
A Clock of Chronos is probably the best fit with his abilities.
Even above Lilith, I think Macbeth is probably the biggest game-changer for Empire this saga. He brings so much to the table while still maintaining Empire’s strong tanking power. Along with Claire, I’d recommend you take Macbeth in most Empire lists.
From a straight tank aspect, Macbeth is fairly impressive with 28 LP, 5 Armor and a Defense of 10 vs ranged attacks, which is quite handy for a DR character. He is also capable of buffing himself and other with Consecrate and Immortal Breath. The latter is particularly useful for tanking purposes, as it allows him to keep his LP fairly high. Consecrate is a good general buff that covers all of Empire’s lower Attributes, buffing them a fair amount.
Offensively, Macbeth is fairly dangerous with a 6 base damage, a 2 inch AoE, and a 5/8 attack that makes him invincible for the round should he destroy his target. He also gets a passive +2 damage bonus against Dark characters, making him particularly deadly against the Azur Alliance and Samael.
Weapons of Azrael is one of the best Team Cards in the game imo. It makes Lilian’s Breath of Life a 4 inch radius, making it much more effective. Inspiration’s AP cost is reduced to 1 AP when she is in his CZ as well, making it possible for her to use Inspiration, Breath of Life and Charge in the same round if so desired. On Macbeth’s end, Sacred Assault makes it easier for him to reach melee combat, and Lilian’s Protector ensures no one is touching Lilian without going through Macbeth first.
The most obvious one is Lilian, due to the power of their team card.
Lilith is another great option, due to the reasons I mentioned in her section.
Raphael’s Gift, even more so then most tanks. With Macbeth’s Eternal Breath, Lilith’s Healing Light and Raphael’s Gift, he can heal a whopping 8 LP every turn. This makes damaging Macbeth futile unless they focus their entire team on him, in which case he is doing his job quite well.
Quite possibly the most unusual new character for Empire in Saga 3, Iosara certainly brings an interesting set of abilities to Empire’s usual line-up.
Iosara is extremely mobile, not just because of his 12/16 movement, but because Wandering Shadow effectively lets him deploy anywhere he wants. While its appearances can be unreliable at times, it can be positioned anywhere you see fit. What makes Iosara unreliable also makes it unpredictable for your opponent, making it difficult for them to guard their support.
Iosara also brings an impressive amount of debuffing power to Empire. Crystal Fire has a slow, while The Three Fates causes Seal, Blind and Doom. The Three Fates is particularly deadly, as three consecutive attacks plus a different status effect on each one is dangerous to just about any character. Iosara’s Death Bringer is a standard Empire low attack/high damage Ki ability, nothing too special, but still quite potent.
Aside from Wandering Shadow, Iosara’s Unborn abilities includes Specter and Power Absorption.
Specter allows Iosara to take risks you normally wouldn’t take, allowing you to sacrifice it to kill a target knowing it will “survive” the retaliation, sort of like a diet version of Samiel’s Undying State.
Power Absorption certainly has potential, acquiring a single ability from anything it kills has a lot of potential uses, just remember that Iosara needs to survive to make the most of this ability.
In the end, despite being a Warrior, Iosara plays very much like an assassin. You will often sacrifice it to eliminate a target at the potential cost of Iosara’s own life, just make sure that target is worth the cost.
Iosara is more of a lone wolf due to its unique means of deployment, but it synergizes surprisingly well with Valentine. Valentine’s ability to “lock down” targets with In my Sights is useful for covering Iosara’s back when it goes for a kill.
Clock of Chronos is almost mandatory on Iosara, as it is required to use the walk action then unleash the Three Fates in its target. Alternatively, Tempus Fugit could work when being used to boost Iosara’s free move, but is less flexible overall.
The phrase “Good things come in small packages” most certainly applies to Erika. She brings a surprising amount of offensive power for a mere 40 levels. While her stat-line has all the usual trappings of being Empire (low attack/resistance) while lacking the usual strengths (Armor/LP), her offensive capabilities more than makes up for this.
Mjolnir is a great innate ability, better in some ways then Claire’s Gae Bolg. When Erika swings your opponent faces the dual threat of dodging the attack due to damage, but potentially being hit anyway due to a Critical Hit (Combat Mastery always recommended) and losing more AP and being thrown.
Due to this ability, Erika doesn’t need to use her abilities unless the situation calls for it, as her basic Attack and Charge actions will trigger Mjolnir just as well.
Outside of her Innate Ability, she also possesses a rather impressive ability set for such a low-cost character. Ka-Boom has a huge radius with a respectable Effect check, potentially forcing your opponent to burn some Gnosis to hang on to their AP.
Spin! Spin! Spin! Is a personal favorite, despite the Slow debuff on Erika, this ability is well worth using when the opportunity arises. The additional dice combined with Gnosis and Combat Mastery makes it quite possible for Erika to send 2-3 characters flying, draining their AP as well as displacing them in a single attack.
Taunt is rather limited in its use, being once per game, but its effect is quite potent. Being able to force the Berserk status at the right time can spell doom for any character it sticks on due to Empire’s high damage attacks.
I’d recommend her whenever you have 40 levels to spare, she may not be as durable as most of the Empire line-up, but when you have an Organization filled with anvils, it’s nice to have a hammer.
Erika works well with any other offensive character in Empire’s line-up, particularly the Black Lion and Claire. Due to her ability to disrupt the enemy team and drain AP, she often leaves enemy characters out of position, out of AP and out of luck, ripe for a killing blow from the rest of your team.
Clock of Chronos is once again highly recommended. Due to the slow debuff on her AoE, she will often require that additional AP in emergency situations. The Clock also allows her to perform devastating combinations such as a Charge followed up by an Attack action if the Charge doesn’t Crit, or vice versa if you’re already engaged and the Attack gets a Critical Hit. This makes it possible for Erika to force a character to run out of AP while softening them up for the rest of the team.
Talisman of Eriol is another good option, to help ensure you land that Critical Hit when you most need it.
As far as Prowler characters go, Valentine is among the toughest, though still relatively fragile. She operates at a much closer range then Wissenschaft’s snipers, which puts her at greater risk. Despite this, she is an extremely good addition to any Empire team due to her range and lock-down abilities.
Infiltration is something that is completely unique to Valentine within Empire, giving her the ability to set up in the most favorable position for her abilities. Surprise Shot makes it so her attacks can’t be intercepted the round she comes out of Infiltration, making it the ideal time for her to utilize any of her potent ranged abilities.
Information can be extremely useful when you aren’t sure what a certain character may be packing, knowing whether a person has a Clock for that additional AP to dodge or attack can be invaluable.
Being only the second character with Stealth in Empire, Valentine is arguably superior to Vayl outside of his Team due to her superior range and deployment options. She even has a ranged slow with Execution that is arguably superior to Vayl’s Crumbling of Time.
As far as her other abilities go, Perfect Shot is extremely potent despite its relatively short range. A 10/4 -2 Armor is quite good, and even better if you get extremely close to the target for the bonus damage, making it a 10/8. While difficult to pull off at its optimal range, this ability is quite good even without the additional damage.
In My Sights is the ability I personally see the most potential with. Since it lacks a usage limit, Valentine could potentially toss it on 3-4 characters on the opposing team, threatening them with an attack should they attempt to move. While the Attack/Damage may not be impressive on its own, buffs from other sources can quickly make it a very scary proposition for your opponent to attempt to engage you, or even run away.
The way I see it, there are two ways to play Valentine. The first is as a traditional assassin, maneuvering her close to a target while hidden and unleashing Perfect Shot for massive damage. The second is as a lock-down character, using In My Sights to threaten the enemy team as the rest of your team closes in andthen using Execution to debuff enemies once combat begins. This latter is particularly useful in objective games, were characters are constantly moving towards a goal.
Valentine works particularly well with anyone that can buff her Attack score to maximize the effectiveness of In My Sights. She also works well with high mobility characters like Iosara and Tiamat, either by supporting them with In My Sights, or teaming up on the enemy support using Perfect Shot.
Tiamat in particular can be useful for maneuvering the opponent into close range for Valentine to maximize her damage with Perfect Shot.
What Advantage Card is best on Valentine depends on whether your using her as an assassin or as a Lock Down character.
As an Assassin, Valentine is best served by Clock of Chronos or Tempus Fugit, as both allow her to close in to the best range for Perfect Shot.
As a Lock Down character, Valentine can still use Clock of Chronos, but may be better served with Attack buffing Advantage Cards such as Nullem Lusec or Piercing Weapons. Nullem Lusec is only once per game, but when used at the right time Valentine can gain a truly monstrous Attack level, forcing your opponent to risk significant damage if they move. Alternatively, Gnosis is great if you are worried about counter-sniping while Valentine is unstealthed.
Empire doesn't possess any Summoners, and I'm pressed for space so I will be cutting the Summons section out from here.
For almost the exact same reason she is useful in Church. She brings the ability to Summon Dark aligned Summons to Empire as well as some respectable debuffing abilities. Since Empire lacks their own summoner, she is the only way to play Summons in Empire at this time.
Organization Advantage: Combat Mastery*
Lilith + Supernatural Devourer
Macbeth + Raphael’s Gift
Black Lion + Orb of Power
Claire + Clock of Chronos
Erika** + Clock of Chronos
Sophia + Gnosis
My personal favorite list for Empire at this time, it is probably one of the strongest lists in the game at this time. Lilith + Macbeth offer a fantastic set of support abilities while remaining very potent in combat. Black Lion, Claire and Erika are a trinity of powerful offensive characters that can easily blow through even the toughest line-ups fairly easily. Sophia’s attack/defense buffs combined with Bless and Consecrate can shoot a single character’s attack score to devastating heights. Black Lion’s For the Fallen at 11/11 (Bless + Consecrate + Offensive Analysis + Power Token) is almost guaranteed to kill a character if you roll well. This is to say nothing about Claire’s Eadgil Solaris or Lilith’s Dream of Lust.
*I can’t stress this enough, take Combat Mastery. It is superior to every other Organization Advantage Empire can take 95% of the time.
** A fun alternative I have yet to try, replacing Erika with Valentine gives this list some serious lock-down power due to how high her attack power can be buffed
Organization Advantage: Combat Mastery
Yuri + Raphael’s Gift
Macbeth + Raphael’s Gift
Black Lion+ Orb of Power
Claire + Clock of Chronos
Odin + Talisman of Eriol
Team Card: Weapon’s of Azrael
This list has been another favorite of mine, and showcases how much of an impact Macbeth has on Empire’s Metagame. With the inclusion of Weapon’s of Azrael, this list is one of the toughest in the game with Lilian’s Breath of Life supported by Macbeth’s Eternal Breath. Inspiration is extremely potent due to how powerful the Charges can be on this list, particularly with the Black Lion and Odin, since they should have enough AP to follow up with a normal attack afterwards.
Overall, I feel Empire is probably the 2nd strongest Organization so far this Saga, which is a significant jump from being 2nd from the bottom in Saga 1-2.