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Reading Kojo's excellent "small game guide", I was left with some questions regarding character stats, also because I remember it to be slightly different from when I played the boxed copy of the game years ago.

So, I went ahead and sorted it out. As I am focussing solely on character stats, this guide is to serve as a complementary one. There's a lot of information in the game manual, and in the game's old Prima Official eGuide, which shouldn't be too hard to look up using Google. Below you'll find an overview of each characters ideal statpoint distribution, as well as minimum gear requirements, followed by an in depth explanation.

Best armour: 170 Str
2nd best armour: 130 Str
Best polearm (mace type): 250 Str/90 Dex
Best polearm (hafted type): 220 Str/90 Dex
Best polearm (magic type): 75 Ki/50 Str/50 Dex
Best sword (one-handed): 120 Dex
Best sword (two-handed): 220 Dex (/200 Dex)
Best bow: 200 Dex
Best shuriken: 150 Dex
Best mask: 80 Ki
Best amulet/jewel/etc.: 80 Ki

Str: 220(/170)
Dex: 90(/200/220)
Ki: 80
Vit: Min.
Cha: Max.

Str: 170
Dex: 200
Ki: 80
Vit: Max.
Cha: Min.

Str: 250
Dex: 90
Ki: 80
Vit: Max.
Cha: Min.

Str: 170
Dex: 150
Ki: 80+
Vit: Max.
Cha: Min.

Str: 130(/150)
Dex: 150(/120)
Ki: Max.
Vit: Max.
Cha: Min.

Str: 170+
Dex: 220
Ki: 80
Vit: Max.
Cha: Min.

Str: 220
Dex: 120(/90/200/220)
Ki: 80
Vit: Max.
Cha: Min.
On gear requirements:
Gear requirements are pretty straightforward, though I have split the armour, polearm and sword categories. I will only discuss the polearm and sword split, as the reason for the armour split will become clear later.

The polearm category in this game encompasses every melee weapon that is not a sword, with the exception of hachi-wari and koshi-mono (to be honest I've never figured out what the ingame koshi-mono is supposed to be, since I know of no such weapon in the Japanese arsenal). The polearm category also includes some weapons that technically are swords, such as nagamaki and zanba-to.

The strongest polearm ingame is indeed the tetsu-bo (or kanabō) and requires 250 strength. However, logically and animation wise, it seem plain ridiculous to equip the Leader or even the Beserker with such a weapon. Therefore, I have put the tetsu-bo in the "mace type" subcategory which I reserved exclusively for the Brick. The Beserker, and perhaps the Leader should stick to axes, glaives, spears, and greatswords (nagamaki & zanba-to), which I put in the "hafted type" subcategory, and require only 220 strength at most. Finally the "magic type" subcategory only hold the Bo-Staff, which is dropped by Priests and can not be crafted, but nonetheless is not an unique weapon.

Swords are split up in the "one-handed" and "two-handed" subcategories, because obviously, if you're building a character for dual wielding (nito-ryū), there's simply no point in trying to meet the "two-handed" subcategory requirement. Finally, patch 1.2.18 introduced the chil-ji-do sword in the "two-handed" subcategory, raising the original requirement for that subcategory from 200 to 220 Dex. It looks absolutely hideous however, out of place with most Japanese sword wielding characters, and I do not suggest using it on anyone but the Swordsman.
Post edited November 12, 2017 by Laionidas
On the Archer and the Brick:
Looking at their proposed stats, it becomes evident why these two are the easiest characters to level; there simply aren't any real choices to be made. Maybe the Archer could do with some extra Ki, as he is quite a potent spellcaster, but why bother? He's an Archer, and can allready use every sword ingame, apart from the chil-ji-do. Moreover, at 80 Ki, he should have enough to cast the occasional spell if you want him to. Even as an Archer, there's no point going over the Dex requirement, as his bow skill is allready maxed out. Vitality is what he needs. The Brick just needs the tetsu-bo, and that's that. Dump the rest in Vitality again.

On the Ninja:
The Ninja is weird. Specialising in throwing weapons makes sense, but I always felt him to be way too squishy to do anything in melee, despite him always being described as being adept at using a sword. 150 Dex is needed for the nage-yari, after that it's Vitality again, but that should leave you with plenty of points as the requirements for the Ninja's specialisation are the lowest out of any character's. It is often suggested to dump spare points in Strength, but just going with Vitality or perhaps even Ki might make more sense; the Ninja is also the only character, aside from the Wizard, with access to a Kanji spell.

On the Swordsman:
His stats are pretty simple, but whether you want to dump every remaining point in Vitality, or put some extra in Strength, depends on each players perception of his viability. The manual suggest he makes a good backup archer too,.. don't, just don't. He has the Dex, so there's nothing wrong with putting a bow in his secondary loadout slot, but really, the Archer makes for a better swordsman, than the Swordsman makes for an archer. I'd say one two-handed sword: the chil-ji-do, and a pair of (weaker) dual-wield swords with +% Gold for trash mobs, to exploit his huge hitrate.

On the Beserker:
Now we're getting to the more difficult characters to distribute stat points on. The manual says he's good unarmed and with polearms (yes, unarmed works viably in this game). Taking that into consideration, there really is no reason to pump his Dex past 90. Besides, the Toyotomi clan Beserker is named Miyamoto Musashi. That should be a dead giveaway; if this guy is using swords, he should be dual wielding them (or a wooden oar/peddle, but that's not ingame =P ). Thus, I am going against most other guides when my idea would be to bring his Dex to 120. He can then use all one-handed (dual-wieldable) swords, all hafted polearms and still has his unarmed skill too, while left with more points to pump into Vitality. You actually want this guy's Vitality to go beyond what he needs. The Beserker has a higher Vitality modifier than any of the other classes, so het benefits more from points invested into this stat. Making him tougher than he needs to be for his own survival, enables him to be the troupe's unkillable tank.

On the Leader:
The Leader is described as a "Jack of all trades", but "master of none", or even "good for nothing" apply all the same, at least on the battlefield. He is your go-to guy for buying and negotiating with the castle Priest and Blacksmith, and you'll want to give him as much Charisma as you possibly can. He is in fact the one and only character you want to invest any points on Charisma on at all. Charisma though, ingame has no place on the battlefield, and this makes him basically suck at fighting, unless you don't want discounts and ignore his intended role alltogether. Personally I like to keep him as a haggler, paper pusher, bureaucrat, armchair general, going full out on Charisma. He is also the only character I basically ignore Vitality on completely. When he does have to fight, he is said to be second only to the Swordsman, when using a two handed sword. That is entirely true. Because of that most guides recommend pumping his Dex. That is NOT entirely true. The problem with trying to reach both the Stength and Dex requirements needed to equip a decent two-handed sword, is that it gobbles up a lot of points, whereas if one would focus on polearms you'd only need to put extra points in Strength. With a polearm you can put a very capable weapon in his hands for 60 points less! Giving the Leader a Polearm, next to the Brick, and the Beserker, makes polearms the most prevalent weapon class in your troupe. Contrary to popular belief, this corresponds perfectly to reality. Swords were side-arms. Especially in large open areas such as the wilderness and to a lesser extend the large castle halls in this game, fighting in loose formations, Bushi (trained upper-class samurai) would have always picked a polearm as their melee weapon of choice.

On the Wizard:
Out of all samurai, the Wizard has his role most clearly defined, yet he is the hardest to handle and raise. Basically, you should rename him "Charmander". The best craftable armour ingame (kunimichi) requires 170 Strength, and is an absolute must. However, the Wizard's Strength is capped at 150, and most guides tell you to not go beyond 130, because that's what's needed for the 2nd best armour. If you find items (e.g. magatama) that can raise his total Strength 20 points past his cap though, then by all means, got to 150. EDIT: I am currently re-writing the Wizard's weapons part.

I hope this guide makes this by modern standards rather hard game (frankly it was allready hard when it first came out), somewhat easier to get into. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!
Post edited November 12, 2017 by Laionidas
Nice guide. I just wanted to add my 5 cents:

You don't need 80 mana from skill points only. The best necklaces require 65 mana. If you're lucky, you'll get necklace that boosts your mana to 80.

The best bow is Ryushi and it require 180 Dex only. The problem is that he usually drops at the very end of the game or don't drop at all, so it's still better to get those 200 dex for the second best that can be created by blacksmith.

There's armor called Kobara. It have base of 200 AC, +50 HP and require 60 strength only. It's definitely easier to get than Ryushi bow, but...yeah, you need some luck.

When I played ToD for the first time, I beat the game solo as a melee ninja :D He can be pretty good if you use "Ki Barrier" spell. But he's still much more effective with throwing weapons, especially as a "bot".
Post edited November 16, 2017 by Bountyover
Bountyover: Nice guide. I just wanted to add my 5 cents:

You don't need 80 mana from skill points only. The best necklaces require 65 mana. If you're lucky, you'll get necklace that boosts your mana to 80.

The best bow is Ryushi and it require 180 Dex only. The problem is that he usually drops at the very end of the game or don't drop at all, so it's still better to get those 200 dex for the second best that can be created by blacksmith.

There's armor called Kobara. It have base of 200 AC, +50 HP and require 60 strength only. It's definitely easier to get than Ryushi bow, but...yeah, you need some luck.

When I played ToD for the first time, I beat the game solo as a melee ninja :D He can be pretty good if you use "Ki Barrier" spell. But he's still much more effective with throwing weapons, especially as a "bot".
Never heard of Ryushi before, but checked the Prima eGuide, and you're right. That said, I'd still recommend 200 Dex for the archer, since it also enables him to use the iai-to, when monsters manage to close in on you.

Regarding the necklaces, yeah, true, but even if you have enough of them, there's a good chance that necklaces other stats will be crap. Finding +15 Ki necklaces with good stats for most of your samurai will require serious luck.

Finally, perhaps you would know this: the Prima eGuide lists the iai-to as being two-handed, despite its size (so it cannot be used for nito-ryū). However, I never tried this, and am not far enough on my current GOG playthrough, so I am not sure if it holds up for either 1.2.18 or 1.3.2 beta. Is it true?
Yup, it's still two-handed in those patches. I'm not sure about GOG version of the game, but in 1.2.18 and 1.3.2 theres better sword called Chill-Ji-Do. There's also unique version of this sword:

It have 29 magic slots which is really good, but I'm aiming for 31 (max I believe)
Bountyover: Yup, it's still two-handed in those patches.
Good to know, thanks.
Bountyover: I'm not sure about GOG version of the game, but in 1.2.18 and 1.3.2 theres better sword called Chill-Ji-Do.
I know that's why I set the Dex requirement for two-handed swords at 220 (/200). 220 is for the chil-ji-do, (/200) is for the iai-to, which was originally the end-game sword. You can tell by the fact that 200 Dex as a maximum makes more sense, if you take into consideration that non-unique end-game bows also require 200 Dex.

Both the iai-to and the chil-ji-do are weird items in this game though. The latter looks hideous sword, and has no place on the battlefield (ceremonial display only), while "iai-to" literally means something like "drawing sword", and in real life refers to blunt alloy swords made in Japan, or blunt steel or stainless steel swords made abroad. Real iai-to are used to practise kata only, while mimicking the handling, weight, and feel of a real sword. They are never used, nor can they be used in actual combat. Then there's also the point that it looks more like a ko-katana than a full sized sword.
They're weird not only because of their origin, but also when you look on their stats. Here are 3 the best swords:

chil-ji-do (100-175 dmg)

iai-to (75-150 dmg)

kabu-tsuchi (25-55 dmg)

As you can see, 1st and 2nd the best swords deal significantly more damage than the 3rd one. Looks like developers added those swords without balancing them. Maybe they wanted to add super powerful end-game weapon (iai-to) but then they decided for some reason to add another one (chil-ji-do).

Theres few more strange weapons (like some "polearms" that are really swords etc) but i guess you know it.
Post edited November 21, 2017 by Bountyover
some other info on what stats to have.

1) The wizard needs 130 strength for the best body armor, triple scale, since he caps at 150 he can't get the 170 strength armor. BUT the best helmet requires 135 strength so you want your wizard with 135 strength. Probably 150 dex is fine with a wizard also, good for best shuriken and decent 2 handed sword with slots. No need to go more since your magic will be used, not your weapon skill later in the game. Since you'll probably have +20 or so in strength and dex with accessories, you can try to balance out your stats about the 115/130 mark to reach 135 strength/150 dex base, then rest into magic. Ignore vitality, a little extra vitality won't save you from end game foes, only magic/health regen on your armor/weapon will do that.

2) Ninja is basically like a wizard, same build and final goal, he just starts off with less magic and more strength/dex, but overall will wind up the same. A magic based Ninja DOES NOT need 170 strength, there isn't much difference between the 130 triple scale and the 170 best armor except for some AC, which is useless half way through the game. Both have the same 25 magic slots so you can make up your torso armor. Any magic based ninja, archer, mage, etc shoudlnt' have more than 135 strength and using triple scale. Put that extra 35 points into your Ki, not strength, vitality, etc. You don't need strong weapons either with magic based characters, you need the weapon slots, not the weapon strength, your spells will do vastly more damage than trying to hit something with swords/bows. You'll have 100% mana leech on your armor, 20 slots in a 2 handed weapon can get you easily your 50% health leech/200+ % gold boost on your weapons. If you want a ranged knockback shuriken etc you can make that up also 50% health leech/100% knockback, what ever. Your magic will waste anyone at that point with level 35 damaging spells for the mage, level 20 for the ninja, etc.

3) In a normal team game its good to have those physical melee characters since you can only control 1 character at a time, I find it easier to control the caster on the team (mage, ninja) and let the others be physical hitters who don't need magic and can just bash stuff automatically, but in a solo game you always want a character to be magic based instead of physical if you can.

Magic can hit multiple enemies, thus your health/magic leech works infinitely better. Many types of magic doesn't miss. Higher level enemies knockback/poison your character, making melee much harder. If you are soloing with a character, you always want to make them magic based if you can. Probably magic is easiest at high levels, ranged is 2nd. Neither you have to worry about getting close and being knockbacked all the time, but even with ranged you still have to aim, and you miss often. Targetting in the game is pretty poor. Melee last. Good for npc fighters, but a pain if your actually controlling the character.

And again, if your making a magic based character you can save on stats to pump into KI. The difference between a 220 dex 2 handed sword and a 130 dex 2 handed sword is 18 slots compared to 20. No difference. Of course the base damage is higher, but any magic based character actually attacking with their weapons later in the game is silly. You want the weapon BOOSTS, not the actual weapon damage. 2 slots compared to pumping 90 points into KI instead of Dex is not even worth thinking about. A 18 slot weapon will get you your 50% health leech/200% or so gold boost, plenty for any character especially with 100% mana leeching armor.

With 50% health leech, and 100% mana leech equipment, which is very easy to get and cheaper than some equipment builds, if there is more than 1 foe you basically never run out of mana or health while continue spell blasting. Only with solo boss foes will you eventually run out of KI since you will lose a little each spell compared to what you get back, but still very slowly, and nothing a potion won't take care of. 100% a must easy to do build for ninja and mages, and works very well with other class's who have homing spells that can blast well. Sure, maybe your Brick isn't going to be a super caster, but many others can. Much easier than melee or archery.

Save Masks with high damage reflect on them. They also have resistances, but you might be able to get high elemental resists without mask boosts, where as that masks damage reflection is a benefit you can have and won't have on your armor. Every little bit helps. Keep masks for all your characters with high reflect for later in the game, they might be useful.

Talismans with charisma/gold boosts of course keep highest charisma for the leader, and the rest want gold boosts. Depending on how strong they get, you might be able to lessen the gold boost on your main weapon to equal 250% (max benefit) and throw a little something else on it. Of course get one character with max gold boost asap so you can start opening chests to farm gold a little, and can try and have them kill monsters that have good gold drops (kapas, etc). Excellent for magic characters who can lay waste to entire rooms fast, killing everything with 250% gold boost in effect.
Post edited August 30, 2018 by eolsunder