Major credit to gbf for the layout format.
The best way to use this, and many a tier list, is to strive to understand the reasons behind the ratings of the top characters. As you do this, you should gain information that will allow you to become independent of it. This is important because tier lists are inherently limited on the contexts they can cover, so it is better to build an understanding of the game overall, than to rely on them.
If you're interested in knowing more about the concepts behind this tier list, you should check this page.
Why Mono Teams
An important thing to understand about this game is that while bosses (and enemies in general) do not consistently abide to affinities that push you towards mono teams, there are a number of reasons why you would want to primarily build around them anyway. Characters are much more frequently designed with biases towards specific teams than for general use. Their kits feature things such as:
- Element-specific damage buffs
- Element-specific resistance debuffs
- Weapon type damage buffs
- Attack type resistance debuffs
- Element or Weapon zone effects
You would basically be throwing away a lot of power to not capitalize on these synergies. Naturally then, characters are primarily thought of with respect to how they hold up against other characters for their matching teams. With that being said, still keep in mind that in some cases it can be beneficial to not focus on a single team synergy and instead use a few different/mismatched ones--this can allow you to leverage the combined strength of particularly powerful characters. There are also a few characters that slant more towards general utility than fitting into limited teams, who can serve to patch holes or provide unique support.
This leads into understanding why this tier list is divided. Teams are broadly defined by their element or attack type, for the buffs/debuffs/Zone available to them. Zones form the primary foundations of each column, activatable via any of the characters within each marked Zone enabler or via the use of Zone grasta. It is still possible to build around the column's synergies without them, but the teams might lack a lot of power depending on the strategy, and ratings do consider the presence of the Zone to a fair degree. Still, keep in mind that in certain cases it can be preferred to not activate a Zone at all--usually when an enemy has a weakness.
Note that this list is directed towards optional superboss fights and certain characters may have strengths in other areas such as farming.
Roles characters generally fall into are as follows:
- Damage Dealer: characters who mainly focus on damage output
- Offense Support: characters with skills and effects that boost damage output of the party
- Defense Support: characters with skills and effects that mitigate damage taken by the party
- Healer: characters capable of reliably restoring the HP of the party
General standards are used as a baseline but ratings are still relative to their columns and do not necessarily equate horizontally. For characters that do not completely fit into this scheme and play more general situational roles, please refer to the General Characters section at the bottom of this page.
The general meanings of rating tiers are as follows:
- SS: Characters that provide a lot of quality utilities to the team, while also being capable of notable damage
- S+: Characters with insane damage and/or high quality support
- S: Missing a little bit of power than to qualify for S+
- S-: Strong characters similar to those in higher tiers but missing notable power relatively
- A: Good characters but notably situational to get value from
- B: Weaker characters damage-wise that may be useful for their support
- C: Weaker characters damage-wise but with minimal to no support
- D: Characters with basic kits with minimal upsides, for the specific team
- D-: Characters with basic kits with no practical upsides, for the specific team
You'll basically find that the strongest and most underpowered characters come to define the ends of the list and everyone else ends up somewhere in between. Keep in mind that some lower rated characters perform notably better with the presence of specific other characters. Likewise, the value of certain effects, such as Zones, influence the rating of some characters that may lose notable value in the presence of other users of them, depending on party synergies. At the end of the day, the intent of this list is to serve as general early guidance on character value for learning the game, planning teams, and so on. It cannot possibly cover the myriad of scenarios different players will be in, nor does it immediately tell you anything about team building, and so it is best to not be overly reliant on the ratings. The game is also very flexible and you will not need to have top table characters to win fights. Some fight gimmicks can wildly swing value of specific characters as well.
Please note that the remarks provided for characters are not meant to be used as a substitute for their full wiki pages and several details might be lost in their summaries.
For more focused views, you can use the filtered tier lists.
Fire Tier List (Reasons) • Water Tier List • Earth Tier List • Wind Tier List
Slash Tier List • Pierce Tier List • Blunt Tier List • Magic Tier list
Lunar Tier List
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You may come to notice that several characters listed in relatively low tiers are actually somewhat commonly used in varied teams for their support effects. This is because the list primarily considers characters with respect to their potential Zone synergies, which a lot of general support characters are lacking in and only technically classify as belonging to a specific Zone.
It should be noted, though, that frequently these characters are not exclusive sources of their support and you may yet find more synergistic characters for the Zone you're using that provide the same desired effects, which is also reflected in their ratings. Still, in cases where you do not have these better fits, there's nothing wrong with using any character capable of providing the specific support you need. For instance, healing is fairly uncommon to get within some Zone synergies, but many Staff characters can be employed for it.
Again, it is better to use the tier list as a rough/vague starting ground to get familiar with characters. Technically everyone can become general, provided you have the right knowledge to mix and match beyond Zone synergies. Still, some particularly notable mentions follow below.
Prai is capable of the unique feat of redirecting virtually every enemy attack to himself for a turn, while being incapable of dying that turn. The difference with Rage being that "all enemy" attacks will only hit him as opposed to bypassing it. This can make it notably more convenient to deal with certain enemies or scenarios.
Pizzica, while offering more benefits for Physical and Pierce weapon damage, still can provide significantly notable boosts for offense or defense in general, due to her songs being unique multipliers, on top of their useful end-of-turn effects. Most notably for this context: provided she's singing, she will give 10% AF gain in any Zone or no Zone, at end-of-turn. This lets her technically match any Zone for per-turn AF gain purposes, with the caveat that her in-AF contribution may still be lackluster or non-existent. However, with using elemental skill grasta from Antiquity Garulea AD, it can also be possible to get matching mid-AF gain in any elemental zone. Similar can be achieved with a Wisdom Bow in Magic Zone. And there is a grasta from Trial of the Sealed Malefics Boss Rush stages that can give a Blunt skill.
Flash Zone primarily serves to enable a turn 1 AF in which virtually any character can receive increased AF gain on their attacks, as opposed to the limitations present on other Zones. This creates strategies that allow you to use characters that would typically not pair well together in AF. The catch, of course, is that you only have the first turn to use it.
This flows into a number of things. Sometimes, the ability to skip a boss' first action entirely, with an AF you would otherwise not be able to pull off, can be notably convenient compared to other options you have available. But also, the ability to use a wider variety of characters while enjoying increased AF gain can also lead to more convenience sometimes, but this is heavily dependent on who the characters are and what equipment you have available. The general idea behind this is that you would be able to end the fight within a few turns (usually, AF for setup and then nukes after AF), keeping complications to a minimum.
It should be noted that quick clears are far from exclusive to Flash Zone:
- Allowing bosses a first turn frequently does not impact much, so you can activate a regular Zone without much worry.
- When bosses have weaknesses, high AF gain can be achieved without the need for a Zone.
- Fire, Slash, Water and Pierce Zones can be activated mid-AF with skills gained from Grasta (acquired from Boss Rush EX stages).
- In some cases, AF is not necessary for quick kills.
Flash Zone mostly just enables some unconventional team compositions to clear a little faster or to clear at all, if you have the roster to match. With or without Flash Zone, it generally requires very specific character combinations to attempt quick clears for the hardest fights, but they are far from impossible without those, and such clears are mostly for showing off.
Melissa has a lot of team damage support that can make it easier to set up quick kills with her as your activator. Hardy (Another Style), instead, has notably higher personal damage multipliers, but does not have much to contribute to others' damage.
Pom, despite being a 4*, is capable of enabling otherwise situational, high damage bonuses, when used with Pain/Poison grasta dormant upgrades on herself and "Pain/Poison Enhance" ore upgrades on allies. This is because Profane Medicine is capable of inflicting status ailments on allies, when "When Attack" passives that allow such are equipped on her (so Dragon Bone Staff works too). This is mostly useful for extreme strategies that try to have tons of damage in a limited amount of turns, outside of Another Force, and do not have more convenient ways of achieving this, as the rng cost of attempting this is fairly high.
Levia (Another Style) works similar to Pom but with notable differences: she can only inflict Poison on allies--this comes as part of one of her skill effects rather than any weird interactions. The Poison has a very high chance of landing but it isn't guaranteed. It possesses infinite duration but can be cleansed. Overall, her kit can provide a lot of other utility beyond this, allowing reliable use of Poison Enhance ores without being forced into a quick strategy for concerns of Pom's survivability.
In some cases, enemies can buff themselves, making them notably harder to deal with. While not strictly necessary, it can be more convenient for some parties to just outright do away with the buffs. Erina and Mana have skills that allow this, but note they will also remove debuffs from the enemies as well.
Krervo, on the other hand, allows you to clear all buffs & debuffs from your party. This can help to remove some debuffs inflicted on you that you'd rather not deal with.
Note that Erina and Krervo being 4*s can make using them for these purposes difficult.
It should also be noted that there exists a "Curse of Reversion" Grasta, from Boss Rush EX6, that allows anyone to have a skill that removes all buffs/debuffs from both the party and enemies. Similarly, Purify can let any Chrono Cross character remove buffs and debuffs, but only from your party.
As previously explained, a tier list is fairly limited in the help it can provide. Below are sources of further info to build upon it for more practical knowledge.
- Metagame Guide explaining several factors of importance related to evaluating characters.
- Teambuilding Guide explaining concepts to understand for picking the right characters/teams for specific fights.
- Boss Guide explaining some quick tips for tackling optional bosses.
- In-Depth Character Review Guides pertaining to the specific teams they generally belong to: Fire, Water, Wind, Earth.
- Magic Zone revision
- Thunder Zone addition
- Moonlight Zone additions
- Radias AS, Shion AC, Azami AS, Yipha AS, Gariyu True Manifest, Laclair True Manifest, Alma