One of the most important components of any tactical RPG is the skill loadout your party brings to the table. When any bad decision can turn a simple job into a death spiral, optimizing your skill usage and selection is critical to success. At the moment, six classes are available in the Early Access version, with more to come in the future. This also means that classes may be subject to change and rebalancing.
The Iron Oath Classes and Roles
In the Early Access build for The Iron Oath, the player can use six classes with six abilities each. The available classes are the Pyrolancer, the Guardian, the Pugilist, the Stormcaller, the Huntress, and the Valkyrie. Each has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Since you can only field four party members at once, you'll need to make sure everyone can fill a role in the group. Everyone falls into one or more of the following roles:
- Tanks have great defenses and bulk, which allow them to fight on the front lines and protect their weaker compatriots. Most tanks will have a taunt effect to force enemies to focus on them. The Valkyrie is the closest to a pure tank, though Pugilists, Pyrolancers, and Guardians can fill in in a pinch.
- Supports bolster the party in various ways. This often takes the form of healing, but Supports can help by providing buffs, shields, and control. Every character provides some form of Support, though Supports excel in this aspect. The support-oriented classes are the Guardian and Pugilist.
- Strikers inflict damage to enemies. Every party member will deal damage, but some classes get various tools to increase their deadliness. These include Pyrolancers, Huntresses, Stormcallers, and Pugilists.
This means that we have three roles and four slots to fill. A "balanced" party composition will include one tank, at least one support, and strikers to fill the rest of the slots. With eight unit slots at the start, you can field two full parties. Remember that, as your soldiers grow older, they begin to retire and change stats. You'll be able to acquire all six abilities for each of your characters, with new slots at levels 3, 5, 7, and 10. Characters also more slots with which to equip abilities with experience.
Iron Oath Pyrolancer Class & Abilities
- Passive: Fuelled By Fire: Standing next to a Burning enemy or cell increases Attack Power by 5% per stack.
- Role: Melee Striker
- Key Attributes: Physique, Mind
- Equip: Polearms
The Pyrolancer is a melee attacker using the power of fire. Euric Redwater begins as a 4th level Pyrolancer, giving you an early-game nuke. Setting enemies and terrain on fire will help boost their power significantly, as you can max out at a 30% Attack Power buff if you surround yourself with fire. In practice, though, you're more likely to apply it to a couple of enemies in a battle.
Burn is inflicted every round on the target, dealing fire damage equal to 20% of the attacker's Power. Burn can stack up to 3 times.
Description: Damage a single adjacent target. Applies Burn.
Thoughts: Short, sweet, and to the point. Helps you squeeze out a little extra damage in the moment and apply damage over time. You can also grab a taunt effect which allows you to take heat off of others.
Description: Target 3 cells in any direction, applying Fire Terrain which lasts for the next 5 turns. Fire Terrain applies Burn and cleanses Frozen.
Thoughts: Useful for when you hunker down and need to punish approaching enemies and activate Fuelled By Fire.
Return to Cinder
Description: Mark a vacant cell with a fire trap. Targets who step on the trap will take damage and be pushed away, ending their turn. Limit of 1. Active instances will be replaced.
Thoughts: It's a simple trap that stops enemies in their tracks. While the damage is low, it can help protect your squishier allies and stall dangerous melee fighters.
Description: Deal damage to 2 targets in a row. Secondary targets take 75% damage.
Thoughts: This ability will require some additional investment to make it good. Upgrades let it generate Fire Terrain on kills and that can be leveraged into area denial and self-buffing. Watch out for friendly fire.
Description: Damage up to 3 adjacent targets in an arc.
Thoughts: Watch friendly fire, but this is a decent source of AoE early on if you're holding a line or find yourself surrounded. Many enemies try to move to flank you, though.
Description: Empower an ally for 2 rounds, making their attacks apply Burn. Can not be active on more than one ally.
Thoughts: If you have a Huntress plinking away at enemies, this could get you reliable stacks of Burn.
Guardian Class & Abilities
- Passive: Radiance: After using 3 abilities, the Guardian's holy conviction showers an adjacent ally with light, cleansing their negative conditions.
- Role: Mixed Support
- Key Attributes: Conviction, Insight
- Equip: Swords and Shields
Guardians offer a variety of useful services. They can heal, cleanse, debuff, and even do a little combat in a pinch. They won't match Valkyries in tanking ability, but they can get a lot of effective bulk thanks to their high Conviction. Strategically apply Radiance to get rid of nasty debuffs. Their versatility ensures that you should always find a slot for a Guardian.
Description: Damage and Blind an adjacent enemy for 1 Round. Blind reduces Accuracy and Evasion by 75%, and disables attacks of opportunity.
Thoughts: Nice if you need to reposition, but the single round and adjacent target at base stinks. Blinding to increase the duration another round and Interrupt Channels can be mean if you feel like ruining someone's day.
Description: Damage a single target. Range of 2.
Thoughts: Not very impressive at base. Upgrades increase range and uses, which is nice. The Holy Fire upgrade works well with Pyrolancers.
Description: Deal damage to 2 targets in a row. Subsequent targets take 15% less damage.
Thoughts: Focused Power and Bonus Target will let you affect more enemies. It's otherwise unremarkable at base.
Description: Immediately Root an adjacent target for 1 round, then channel for 5 turns to deal massive damage against them.
Thoughts: The Guardian's nuking skill. Can lock down a mobile enemy pretty easily. Increase the channel speed and add Guilty Verdict and this is a great one-two punch if you get your allies in on it.
Description: Channel for 4 turns, applying a damage shield on herself and her target that lasts for 2 rounds. Range of 2.
Thoughts: Reinforced and Channel Speed Up make this quicker to come online and increase its potency. Damage shields are basically free HP that you don't care about if you lose.
Description: Heal a single target. Range of 2.
Thoughts: Not much to say. It will keep you alive. In-combat healing doesn't take time, but be mindful not to overheal. Radiant Dawn will allow you to gain 2 stacks of Radiance at once, making it faster and easier to cleanse.
Pugilist Class & Abilities
- Passive: Mind Over Matter: The Pugilist shrugs off the first conditions applied to them in combat.
- Role: Support/Melee Striker
- Key Attributes: Physique, Finesse
- Equip: Fist Weapons
The Pugilist is the fisticuffs-using member of the class. Highly mobile and evasive, they make great flank buddies. Pugilists also offer (somewhat clunky) AoE healing and easy cleansing. Battle Instinct lets them deal obscene damage for a limited time. Pugilists can do just about anything, as long as it's in range of their fists. They're sitting ducks at range.
Description: Strike an adjacent enemy and warp directly behind them for a second strike that pushes them away.
Thoughts: Disable and Disarm have some uses, even if the former weakens your damage output. The push effect is interesting.
Fists of Fury
Description: Dash to an empty cell and strike an adjacent enemy twice.
Thoughts: Squeeze out a little more movement. The only standout upgrade is the one that increases dash range.
Reader Thoughts (Dustin Barlow, comments): "The Maxed out Fist of fury is the most lethal attack in game. It will drop any enemy with one use, and the undead are a two-hit.
Mind, Body, and Soul
Description: Target self or a single ally. Cleanse negative conditions and stabilize all injuries. Range of 2.
Thoughts: Useful for clearing conditions without relying on the Guardian's Radiance stacks, which require you to spend abilities and be adjacent.
Description: Increase the Pugilist's Evasion, Defense, and Power by 50% for 3 Rounds.
Thoughts: Turn your Pugilist into a tank with fists. It's a nice self-buff to open with in a tough fight.
Description: Channel for 5 turns and heal himself. Adjacent allies are healed for 50%.
Thoughts: Slightly clumsy, but offers AoE healing to help touch up smaller wounds. Economical if you can get everyone together.
Description: Kick up to 3 adjacent targets in an arc, damaging and pushing them back.
Thoughts: Sunder Armor is a handy AoE defense debuff. The ability to push multiple enemies into traps or bad terrain gives it utility even at base rank.
Stormcaller Class & Abilities
- Passive: Static Charge: Each attack by the Stormcaller on a target increases the chance that they will be Stunned by all attacks suffered.
- Role: Ranged Striker
- Key Attributes: Insight, Mind
- Equip: Wands and Staves
Stormcallers use wind, rain, and lightning to subdue their foes with deadly force. They're ill-suited to the front lines, so be sure to keep them safe from enemy attack. Their passive ability to Stun isn't reliable, but it's nice control. Otherwise, they offer control over your Morale and strong AoE and single target damage.
Description: Move to the targeted cell. Targets along the path are pushed aside.
Thoughts: Could be used as an escape from a bad position. Rooted and Lightning Augment add a snare and lightning damage, respectively.
Description: Target a single cell and restore 15 Morale over the next 3 turns. Apply Wet Terrain. Wet Terrain cleanses Burning and grants Fire Resistance. Lightning attacks against occupants will critically strike.
Thoughts: Careful use of the Wet Terrain can net you easy critical hits if you're able to keep an enemy stuck there. Morale Restoration seems like the standout in the Early Access build.
Description: Lightning randomly strikes 4 times in a circular area. Each strike inflicts the Static Charge passive.
Thoughts: Needs Strikes and Raging Storm to increase the number of attacks. Otherwise, you have a not-insignificant chance to hit nothing at all. Better with more targets.
Description: Target a single enemy and channel for 5 turns, dealing massive lightning damage.
Thoughts: Channel Speed Up is a no-brainer. Fear the Storm applies a debuff, but you shouldn't try to surround your Stormcaller with enemies in the first place.
Description: A ball of lightning that hits the primary target and arcs to all adjacent targets for 75% damage.
Thoughts: Nice, simple AoE that's easy to aim. Be careful you don't hit your allies, though, since Smart Arc isn't available in the current build.
Description: Target self or a single ally, increasing their Speed by 10 and Movement by 1 for 2 Rounds. Cleanse Slow, Root, and Stagger.
Thoughts: Play with the initiative order? Sure thing. Buff Duration and Immunity will make it last longer and prevent Slow, Root, and Stagger while it's active.
Huntress Class & Abilities
- Passive: Precision Aim: If the Huntress does not move on her turn, then she gets a 20% bonus to her Accuracy for one round.
- Role: Ranged Striker
- Key Attributes: Physique, Finesse
- Equip: Bows
In many ways, the Huntress is a physical counterpart to the magical might of the Stormcaller. She does more damage the closer she is to an enemy, so it's a delicate balance between safety and damage output. She tends to have more health than a Stormcaller, but she's at her best just behind the front lines. Some of her most devastating attacks require the stars to align to maximize their effectiveness.
Description: For 2 rounds, all attacks will inflict Bleed on her targets. If the target performs any action aside from Waiting, Bleed will deal damage equal to 33% of the attacker's Power..
Thoughts: Tranquilizer Arrows changes it to a Sleep effect, which can be useful. Otherwise, this is fine for extra damage. You can upgrade it to boost your Critical Chance and Critical Damage, too.
Description: Loose 2 arrows at a single enemy. If the target dies from the first shot, the second hits the nearest enemy in range.
Thoughts: Comes with built-in protection from overkills. You can get a large number of Charges with the upgrades, making this a spammable skill.
Description: Channel until her next turn, performing a Basic Attack on any enemy that moves within 2 cells of her position. The channel ends if 2 enemies are hit.
Thoughts: Better with upgrades. Range Increase and Suppress will increase reach and add a Slow effect, respectively.
Description: Aim in any direction and channel for 5 Turns. Damage all enemies along the designated trajectory.
Thoughts: Good piercing in a line, but that requires good position of both your Huntress and your enemies. Armor Piercing and Channel Speed Up can make it more viable.
Description: Mark a single target for 2 Rounds. Increase her Critical Damage by 25% and all attack Range by 1 for 2 Rounds. Marked targets take 20% more damage from all sources.
Thoughts: Lots of nice upgrades in the tree, and useful in more situations than Overwatch and Volley.
Description: Target an adjacent enemy and tumble backwards away from their position, Rooting the target for 1 Round. Rooted targets are unable to move.
Thoughts: Good for escaping. The Escape Plans give buffs and let you avoid attacks of opportunity, and Barbed Wire lets you do damage. Just watch where you're tumbling.
Valkyrie Class & Abilities
Passive: Vismyr's Protection: The Valkyrie is blessed by the Nurren God Vismyr with a small damage shield at the start of every encounter.
Key Attributes: Finesse, Conviction
Equip: Polearms (Same as Pyrolancers) and Shields
Valkyries are your big tank class and have a lot of movement abilities to get them and their allies where they need to be. Their major limiting factor is that all of their skills are useful in many different situations. Conservation and picking the right loadout is key. Valkyries are truly suffering from success. Their Conviction gives them a lot of Defense, just like the Guardian, but Valkyries come with taunts and damage reduction. Only their lack of long range offense slows them down, as they can't throw chip damage at approaching enemies.
Description: Grant target 50% Power and +1 Movement for 1 Round. Restore 5 Morale to herself and her target.
Thoughts: Disgustingly good. Take Spur for more Power and increase your Charges. While short-lived, this is great if you can guarantee a big hit.
Description: Taunt all adjacent enemies for 1 Round and increase her Defense by 40%. Taunted targets are forced to attack the caster.
Thoughts: Valkyries are the quintessential tanks. Duration and Increased Defense make her even more of a wall.
Description: Swings her spear in an arc, damaging adjacent targets in 2 connected cells.
Thoughts: The Mark and Slow upgrades are the big ones here. Otherwise, this is just nice to have.
Description: Fly in any direction to an unoccupied cell, dealing damage to all targets she passes through.
Thoughts: Another winner for the Valkyries. The uses for this are incredible. More charges and a bigger flight range will make this shine.
Description: Target 2 cells in a row, dealing piercing damage. If a single target is 2 cells away, they will be pulled forward.
Thoughts: Valkyries get the best toys. Pulling an enemy into a pit is, perhaps, even more amusing than pushing them.
Description: Teleport a targeted ally to an adjacent position around the Valkyrie.
Thoughts: The worst thing about a Valkyrie is easily that all of their abilities come with immediately useful applications, and they only have so many slots. Designated Landed lets you pick the cell, which has huge tactical potential. Angelic Touch applies a damage shield, too.
There's your guide to the Iron Oath Classes - hopefully through reading our guide you've got some solid tips to take with you!