XBDE beginner’s guide #2: Melia character guide FULL

Preface

 
 
This is an update to a character strategy guide for Melia that I wrote closing in on 5 years ago now. Since then I feel I’ve gotten a bit more experience and diversity with the game, as well as have a better understanding of how to write a basic guide, and coupled with the release of Definitive Edition, I felt an update was in order.
 
This guide aims to be as spoiler free in terms of plot and side quest details as possible. However in order to easily discuss and explain game mechanics, the guide will assume you are happy for all the first 6 main characters to be named and have their mechanics discussed. This includes skills, arts (including those unlocked through story – though the story points behind them will not be mentioned, of course) as well as some features hidden behind side quests. I will also be referencing plot progress by chapter numbers, which may imply game length at times.
 
As for myself, I’m a long time XBC player who has been active in various XBC communities for many years. I’ve probably played through the game at least 10 times now. I wouldn’t say I’m a master, and I’m sure many people can still teach me things about the game – but I think I understand enough to help out beginners. Still, there are probably things that I have missed, minor mistakes or things I’ve over or under focused on, so if you have suggestions to improve the guide please do post them in the comments
 
 

Introduction

 
This guide is intended to break down how to make use of Melia in a team, and will look at various aspects of their strengths, weaknesses, how they play, as well as who they work well with, and many other things aside. It aims to help newer players familiarise with each character and hopefully learn some new things, or even be inspired to try new strategies out with the character. The guide aims to take into account the flow of the game, and ever changing set of options you will have available, as these can significantly shift how a character plays as well as the best options they have available.
 
For the purpose of this guide, I will assume the player has not yet completed Future Connected. If you have completed it, you will know what is unlocked and can probably work out what it might affect – mostly it’ll be lategame more than anything. It’s not a huge thing, but I’ll just ignore it for now.
 
So with that introduction out of the way, let’s actually move on to the good stuff.
 

Overview

 
Melia is an Ether attack based glass cannon, who also provides flexible buffing. While her initial damage may not look overly impressive, she can inflict a wide variety of damage over time (DoT) debuffs, which quickly start adding up to huge amounts of damage. Similarly, each of her buffs at first may sound unimpressive, but bear in mind you can quickly get up to three of them and they apply to the entire party, and the effects get pretty good.
 
The typical way to control Melia is to start each battle off by summoning two elements with desired buffs (often the same one twice, via Summon Copy). These summons then act as your passive buff, while you proceed to cycle through other summons during the battle – summon something, discharge it with elemental discharge, repeat, using other arts as and when appropriate.
 
One key issue Melia has is that she has somewhat of a slow start in the team – it takes her a long time for her art pallet to really build up and become strong. Compared to everyone who joins before who has some very good arts immediately, a lot of what makes Melia good is locked away as level 40+ arts. On top of that she’s in and out of the party a few times shortly after she joins, which can be inconvenient to deal with. So while you can make reasonable use of Melia earlier in the game, I wouldn’t blame you for waiting a bit before putting her into the party.
 
Of course, that’s just a brief overview, but doing this you’ll at least be able to play Melia adequately. If you want to just go experiment, honestly – that’s enough to get you started. But later on I will explain a few more intermediate strategies that may help improve your play.
 
In this guide we will first review Melia’s arts, then talk about skills and skill links to consider, and then gems. After that, we will synthesise this information and give some suggestions on controlling Melia in battle, as well as giving some suggested teams where she works well.
 

Arts

 
For most arts listed here, I will briefly describe their effects, and give a link to each art’s page on the Fandom wiki. Be advised that spoilers can be an issue there and of course, I can’t guarantee the data there is correct. After that, I will mostly be talking about the strategic uses for the arts. I will also give each art a “tier” based on how frequently I recommend using it (Ubiquitous, common, uncommon, niche).
 
At the end of this section, I’ll summarise with a recommended arts section, so if you feel the detail is too much for you right now you can skip to the end and get the basic idea, and maybe come back and reread if you have specific questions about arts.
 

Talent Art: Elemental Discharge

 
One nice change in Definitive Edition is that it’s much clearer how Melia’s Talent Art works – in the original the icon filled up from the bottom, so it would start off looking empty and unusuable. Even in DE though, Elemental Discharge is very different from most other talent arts, which are only usable when full (or in Sharla’s case, only usable when not empty), while Melia can use hers at any time. Elemental Discharge is key to playing Melia and is going to be her main source of damage in general. Firstly I’ll go over the mechanics of how it works, so if you already know all the mechanics you can skip the next paragraph.
 
Using Elemental Discharge will fire off your most recently summoned element at an enemy. The effects of this are determined by the element, as well as the art level for its summon. Doing this fills the talent gauge by 10%, or by 15% if you use the talent art to discharge a different element in quick succession (within 5 seconds of the previous use)., Visually, elements are summoned above Melia in the order front, back left, back right – and so they are discharged in the order back right, back left, front. When the talent gauge is full, Melia enters an aura called “Element Burst”. While in Element Burst, Melia gets a +100% damage bonus to all summons – this bonus is additive with most other damage boosts, e.g. chain attack bonuses, criticals and most gem effects are also additive, so it isn’t truly double damage – but in many cases it’s fairly close to it. Every time Melia uses Elemental Discharge while in burst, she has a % chance for the burst to end, which also empties her talent gauge. This is 40% at normal tension, 25% at high tension and only 10% at very high tension. Element Burst is treated as an aura by the game, which means it cancels any previous aura she may have had active, and if you use an aura, Element Burst will end and revert her talent gauge to ~90% full. Similarly when battle ends, your talent gauge will revert to 90% full if you are in Burst.
 
Elemental Discharge’s usage, as mentioned, is really the most important part of Melia’s kit, and managing burst state can be very helpful as well. Knowing the order of your summons and making good use of Element Burst are the most important of the mechanics listed above. Sometimes if you are in low danger fights, it can be tempting to just maintain your burst and not use Elemental Discharge – and I think that’s fine, but also bear in mind that not using discharge at all is still less valuable than using it while outside of burst. So don’t worry about losing burst and having to build it up frequently – it doesn’t take that long to refill in most cases, often just 1-2 generic enemies will get it back up in case you need it for a boss fight or something. We’ll talk about the specific effects of each element in their art section.
 
One significant strength of Elemental Discharge is the fact you can use it multiple times in a single chain attack – up to three times if you have three elements, and fairly reliably if she’s player controlled. No other character can achieve that, and as a result Melia can allow you to switch colours in chains as much as Melia can, which is a big unique strength that she has.
 
…Also I’m sure I wasn’t the only person incorrectly calling it “Elemental Burst” for the last 8 years. It was Element Burst in the original as well.
 

Summon Bolt

 
Level: Default. Colour: Blue (Support). Wiki Link. Usage: Common
 
Bolt provides +20% Ether up to everyone in range per Bolt summoned. When discharged, it deals good ether based electric damage to a single target.
 
When I first wrote this guide, many people considered Bolt Melia’s best art, something I strongly disagreed with. Now, I think most people agree it’s just good, not amazing, and that she has better summons. Bolt definitely has strengths: It deals pretty good DPS when used frequently, and the passive Ether buff only helps Melia and Riki’s DPS even further. And on top of that there’s a lightly hidden Advanced Arts Manual for Bolt you can find in chapter 8 or beyond, which combined with it being one of Melia’s cheapest arts to level up makes it often one of your highest level arts for quite a while. However, there are some drawbacks to keep in mind with Bolt is that its damage all comes at once, which can spike up Melia’s aggro. Additionally, while its DPS is good, part of that is due to its short cooldown, meaning you spend a lot of time summoning and discharging bolts to actually get the DPS. That’s normally fine as Melia mostly works around arts and not auto attacks, but it’s something to consider, especially if you have several other low cooldown arts. Bolt is great for quickly killing weaker foes, but in harder fights I’d recommend starting with other summons – that gives other characters like Reyn, Dunban, or really anyone that isn’t Melia a chance to take aggro, before you go in with the hard hitting moves. As a passive buff, do note that +20% Ether isn’t +20% damage! In most situations your weapon strength is probably about comparable to Melia’s ether stat, so you’re maybe getting about +10% damage per Bolt on Melia, and it’ll be about the same for most others. Healing arts don’t factor in weapon though, so it does improve most healing arts by 20% typically.
 

Summon Flare

 
Level: Default. Colour: Blue (Support). Wiki Link. Usage: Ubiquitous
 
Flare provides +20% Strength up to everyone in range per Flare summoned. When discharged, it deals moderate ether based fire damage to a circle around the target, and inflicts the blaze Debuff, which deals damage equal to 40% of the original arts damage every 2 seconds for 20 seconds (10 times).
 
Melia’s first DoT art, and while it’s probably the weakest of the lot it’s still strong enough to be used very frequently, hence the above ubiquitous rating. While the base damage of the art isn’t very high, the Blaze DoT adds up, eventually dealing 4 times the damage of the original attack – and this gets multiplied directly by any Blaze Up gems you have. On top of that, Melia’s 5th skill tree can extend Blaze to a massive 40 seconds. This isn’t as amazing as it sounds, since Flare’s cooldown is already in the 24-30 second range so it can be easily reapplied once it wears off, but there’s a few upsides – reapplying the DoT less means you can use other, higher damage arts instead when there’s a choice, and also if you get a high damage Flare discharge you can let it tick over for longer.
 

Hypnotise

 
Level: Default. Colour: Purple (Ether). Wiki Link. Usage: Uncommon
 
Puts a single target to sleep for a moderate length of time.
 
Hypnotise is a simple effect with some useful applications. Firstly, putting a foe to sleep when it isn’t the one you’re focusing on means you get attacked by one less enemy. Simple and useful, and the AI is pretty good at doing this even with Focus Attacks. However it’s a little less good for teams with Melia to do this, since Melia has a number of AoE attacks that inflict DoT, and DoT damage wakes enemies up. The other main use for Hypnotise is breaking visions. Sleep completely breaks a vision tag all the way to the move getting used, meaning you can force the enemy to use a more favourable art, as well as get a huge tension boost. However a reasonable number of bosses do have a 70% resistance to sleep, which can make this unreliable in key battles. As a result, Hypnotise isn’t really one of Melia’s most commonly used arts – it definitely has some uses, especially early on when Melia has limited options, but once Melia gets rolling it’s usually swapped out for other choices.
 

Spear Break

 
Level: Default. Colour: Red (Physical). Wiki Link. Usage: Common
 
Deals low physical damage and inflicts slow. Has high knockback.
 
Spear Break on its own is mostly unremarkable. Slow is a useful debuff to inflict, though Spear Break doesn’t inflict it for very long relative to its cooldown, especially compared to Air Slash. The huge knockback is pretty neat though, and particularly notable for a grinding strategy involving hypnotising enemies then pushing them off cliffs (most commonly done with Gogols near Raguel Bridge North). The main strength of Spear Break though is setting up for Starlight Kick.
 

Burst End

 
Level: Default. Colour: Purple (Ether). Wiki Link. Usage: Uncommon
 
Inflicts 25% Ether Def down and 10% Phys Def down on all nearby enemies for a fairly long period. Can only be used during Element Burst. Note: Does not remove Element Burst (some people assume it does, from the name)
 
Burst End is a pretty interesting art. The Def down debuffs works differently than you might expect, it actually increases the damage enemies take by the percentage shown – and if they had a resistance already, the weakness adds on to the damage they would take. For example a foe with a 50% ether resistance (i.e. you deal 50% damage with ether) would drop to a 25% ether resistance (i.e. you deal 75% damage with ether), which is actually 1.5x damage, rather than just 1.25x.
 
Mathematics aside, Burst End is a way to significantly increase the damage you are dealing with ether attackers, and slightly with physical attackers. Its main use probably is right before starting chain attacks, or even at the start of chain attacks if needed, to stack multiplicatively with the chain attack damage bonuses, but even outside of that the debuff is quite nice – you can probably get off a reasonable number of summons inside the debuff time. And being AoE is very nice against groups, especially as Melia has several strong AoE DoT summons. However, there are a number of drawbacks to keep in mind with Burst End, which are the main problems that lead to other arts being chosen over it by many people. Firstly, many UMs and bosses have a 70% resistance to one or both defence down debuffs. Considering Burst End has a somewhat long cooldown and long animation can often mean you struggle to get any benefit against those tough enemies. Secondly, the whole Burst only thing. This can leave you unable to use the arts for long periods, and especially if your tension isn’t high you may find yourself leaving Burst quickly each time you reach it. As a result, I tend to find Burst End can be a little bit of a “win more” art – if you have control of a battle, it can help you draw it to a close. But if you don’t have control it does nothing towards giving you control back, it just helps you deal more damage. Which can be good, but Melia has a lot of other good arts.
 

Mind Blast

 
Level: Story. Colour: Purple (Ether). Wiki Link. Usage: Common
 
Deals good ether based electric damage in a long distance ahead, removes auras and inflicts arts seal on all foes hit. Can only be used during Element Burst
 
Mind Blast has a few significant uses. The most obvious is the use the story teaches you about – removing enemy auras, which can be anywhere from a nice bonus against weaker auras like Awakening, down to being borderline essential if they have a strong aura like Soul Read or Super Aura. Inflicting Arts Seal as well is strong, especially since the effect lasts quite a while – and of course it will destroy visions, since an enemy with Arts Seal cannot use an art. If you also combine with Paralysis or Slow, enemies will struggle to deal much damage to you. However while removing Auras is consistent, the Arts Seal effect is much more volatile against bosses and UMs, with most having a 70% resistance and several being outright immune. Asides from the major aura removal effect, Mind Blast also deals reasonable damage – it has slightly better mutlipliers than Summon Bolt, and it’s AoE, though note it won’t benefit from Element Burst’s damage bonus – and the art is electric based, so you can improve damage with Electric Plus gems. Mind Blast does have some drawbacks to bear in mind – its very long cooldown and reliance on being in burst means you’ll often only get to use it once per fight (except in chain attacks), it is also expensive to upgrade, so you may end up leaving it at a lower level compared to other arts. If you know that the foe(s) you intend to fight don’t have any auras, or no auras you’re concerned about it may be worth swapping out for another art, but in many cases it’s a strong effect that is well worth keeping access to, and is very strong against generic foes where most will not resist Arts Seal.
 

Shadow Stitch

 
Level: 29. Colour: Purple (Ether). Wiki Link. Usage: Niche
 
Inflicts Bind in an area around Melia, preventing enemies from moving.
 
Shadow Stitch is one of Melia’s less useful arts, though not useless. Enemies suffering Bind being unable to move can also prevent them using auto attacks and some arts, if the person with aggro isn’t in their range – which is probably its most common use. This can be used to fight some generic enemies while underlevelled, bind them in place and then let DoT from Melia and Riki lower their health. The other significant use that I’m aware of is simply, bind enemies so you can run away from them easily. On the plus side, fewer enemies tend to be immune/resist Bind, so it can land a little more often, but it is still situational.
 

Summon Aqua

 
Level: 32. Colour: Blue (Support). Wiki Link. Usage: Niche
 
Aqua provides a regenerate effect to everyone in range which applies once every 3 seconds. When discharged, it deals very low ether based damage to a single target, and heals equal to the damage dealt.
 
It isn’t hard to find the least useful of Melia’s summons. Aqua has a few fairly critical problems – the regenerate effect is generally unimpressive, especially compared to her other buff options, though even worse is the damage dealt when discharged, which is so low that Melia doesn’t even heal an impressive amount – even with Serenity of Water active. But it isn’t *totally* useless. Since it has a short cooldown, it can be a usable way to help build her talent gauge quickly, and for a short time Melia just doesn’t have many other options for summons. Combined with Healing Gift, Melia can run a bit of a healer setup, though that’s not something that works especially well in most situations. The passive healing buff from Water isn’t too bad around the level you first get it, ~60 HP every 3 seconds from a single Water buff isn’t much, but can be alright if you have damage getting spread around a bit. Overall, Aqua is simply too weak in most situations once you have more arts available.
 

Healing Gift

 
Level: 35. Colour: Blue (Support). Wiki Link. Usage: Niche
 
Melia sacrifices 20% of max HP to heal an ally by a percentage of Melia’s max HP.
 
As touched on above, healer Melia is generally pretty mediocre. The basic idea is that Melia has Summon Aqua to provide herself HP, then uses Healing Gift on whoever needs healing. Thanks to Healing Gift having an extremely short cooldown she can provide a moderate amount of healing output, but it comes at the cost of her own health dropping rapidly, and since it’s based on her own max HP, the healing amount is typically not even that good per use anyway. If you want to try running Melia as a healer, you’ll want this and probably Summon Aqua, feel free to give it a go. Just don’t expect incredible results.
 

Summon Copy

 
Level: 38. Colour: Blue (Support). Wiki Link. Usage: Ubiquitous
 
Summons a copy of the most recently summoned element. Applies even if you have discharged that element or are in a different fight to the last time you summoned.
 
Summon Copy is pretty simple in most ways, but ends up being useful enough that it makes most battle pallets. Basically, whatever summons you have that are useful, you get more of. Copy is great early in fights for setting up buffs – you can summon an element whose buff you want to stack, then immediately summon Copy and have two of them. Alternatively you can do things like Summon Earth for its buff effect, Copy and discharge, letting you apply poison while keeping the powerful Earth buff. Once the fight progresses, Copy can let you get more Bolt attacks out, or help you rebuild your desired summon buffs after a chain attack. Generally, it’s a very useful and versatile summon.
 

Summon Wind

 
Level: 41. Colour: Blue (Support). Wiki Link. Usage: Uncommon
 
Wind provides +10% Agility up to everyone in range per Wind summoned. When discharged, it deals moderate ether based wind damage to a circle around the target.
 
Wind mostly exists for its summon buff effect. Agility is a very strong stat, especially if you are stacking it – you can make yourself near invulnerable against any brown or even yellow tagged enemy, and +20% or +30% agility can be a huge deal for any allies who also have agility gems and skill links. It can also be good for helping to fight red tag enemies, which can be useful for things like Reyn’s 5th skill tree quest – Melia can deal damage herself, while letting teammates hit high level foes more easily. As an attack, there’s not a whole lot else to say – Wind has no attached DoT, being AoE can be nice occasionally, but generally it sort of functions like a bad Bolt when discharged. For the most part, you use Wind because you want to stack agility.
 

Starlight Kick

 
Level: 44. Colour: Green (Topple). Wiki Link. Usage: Common
 
Deals moderate physical damage. If used after Spear Break, forces topple.
 
At level 44, Melia starts learning her really good arts, and Starlight Kick is the first of them. Force topple is very powerful – it can allow you to topple many enemies who have 70% break resistance or even total break resistance outside of chains, and once you’ve toppled an enemy any ally can follow up with topples and daze of their own. This can allow you to set up topples right before chain attacks, letting you quickly extend the topple duration, or just for additional damage – or alternatively, use Spear Break before starting a chain attack to begin with Starlight Kick and then topple arts with your partners, provided both have them. While Spear Break + Starlight Kick does have the downside of requiring two art slots for the combination, the effect is massive, and generally worth running provided Melia has the agility to hit. And that leads in to the main downside – since the vast majority of Melia’s damage is through ether, and she isn’t someone you generally want to take hits, agility is not really a priority to invest on her. In most cases you can get away without any extra agility, but a single good agility gem can help make the Spear Kick combo more reliable against yellow tag enemies and those with higher agility stats. Against red tag foes though, I prefer to swap out to other arts.
 

Summon Earth

 
Level: 47. Colour: Blue (Support). Wiki Link. Usage: Ubiquitous
 
Earth provides +15% Physical Protect to everyone in range per Earth summoned. When discharged, it deals low ether based earth damage to a single target, and inflicts the poison Debuff, which deals damage equal to 100% of the original arts damage every 2 seconds for 30 seconds (15 ticks).
 
 
Summon Earth is in general Melia’s best source of single target damage, thanks to the insane poison DoT effect. Effectively, over the 30 second duration Earth will deal 16 times the initial damage dealt, and considering you’ve likely gotten the Playing with Poison skill by level 47, it’s actually more like 23 times the initial damage. Add Poison Plus gems and you’re getting even more insane values. And as an added bonus, DoT effects don’t cause aggro outside of the initial hit, which was fairly weak for Earth, so Melia can deal all this damage with little aggro concern.
 
The passive effect of Earth is also very strong when stacked. Two earth summons reduces physical damage taken to 70%, which makes a huge difference. Alternatively it can be stacked with Monado Armour, the effectiveness of which does vary by Armour level, but can be huge – up to 90% protection (the max), though you’ll likely be relying on using warnings to achieve this, as Shulk rarely uses Armour on his own. If your team cannot reliably dodge enemy attacks, consider stacking two earth summons to considerably improve bulk.
 

Reflection

 
Level: 50. Colour: Blue (Support). Wiki Link. Usage: Common
 
Reflects non-talent attacks back at the attacker, making the attacker take any debuffs and damage instead for 5 seconds.
 
Reflection is an art I thought was pretty incredible when I first used Melia, but my opinion of it steadily dropped as I gained more experience. Probably because I stopped spamming Bolt and learned to use DoT arts, which meant Melia stopped getting aggro constantly. Still, it’s a pretty useful art which can do some very nice tricks. Melia doesn’t need to be the target of an attack for it to work, she just needs to be hit by it – so if there’s a big AoE attack, you can pop reflection on Melia to reflect the attack. If you pay attention to what arts enemies are using, you can do this even without visions, you just have to be quick. It can help a lot in any team where Melia is likely to get aggro, you simply activate Reflection when Melia gets aggro, and wait until it drops off her. Reflection can be very useful, just remember that Talent Arts pierce right through Reflection, so it’s not invincible.
 

Power Effect

 
Level: 53. Colour: Orange (Aura). Wiki Link. Usage: Niche
 
Aura which doubles the buff range of summoned elementals.
 
Of all of the auras in the game, Power Effect is probably one of the most niche. If you’re playing as Melia, there’s rarely any use to Power Effect – you can generally keep your allies in range except when fighting exceptionally large foes. And don’t forget, Element Burst is an aura as well, so you can’t have both that and Power Effect active at once. The end result is that Power Effect is very niche in usage. Probably the one suggestion I’ve had for when it can be good is for AI Melia, who notoriously doesn’t do a great job of keeping her allies in buff range. But also AI Melia isn’t very good at keeping her buffs active, so even that seems dubious. Melia does have several skills that activate when she has an aura, but again Element Burst can activate them anyway, so I’m still not overly impressed. In short, maybe use this on AI Melia, maybe use it when you’re fighting some really big enemies (which does include a few superbosses, so that’s an option), otherwise probably don’t bother.
 
 

Summon Ice

 
Level: 56. Colour: Blue (Support). Wiki Link. Usage: Ubiquitous
 
Ice provides +15% Elemental Protect to everyone in range per Ice summoned. When discharged, it deals moderate ether based ice damage to all foes near Melia, and inflicts the chill Debuff, which deals damage equal to 60% of the original arts damage every 2 seconds for 10 seconds (5 ticks).
 
Ice is generally the 2nd best DoT art Melia can inflict, but unlike Poison it’s AoE, which can let you quickly get some nice damage out on many nearby foes. Ice deals more per tick than Poison does, in fact – so once you have Ice at a high enough level that its cooldown is relatively short, it will probably become Melia’s best source of damage overall. Ice deals DoT damage equal to 3 times what you initially dealt, which rises to 4.8 times including the Glistening Ice skill. This may be lower than what Flare deals, but Ice deals its damage faster, which can be beneficial, especially when it comes to re-applying the debuff.
 
Ice is one of those strange arts which has a very long cooldown at a high level, but the cooldown drops quickly as you level the art up. As a result, Ice performs substantially better once you have its Intermediate or Advanced Arts Manual. Unfortunately, the intermediate manual for Ice is not available until quite late, so unless you get lucky with an Advanced Manual drop (or you have already finished Future Connected), you can probably expect Ice to be stuck at level 4 for a while. Consequently, the comparison between Flare and Ice during most of the game can be interesting. When comparing level 4 Ice vs. Level 7 Flare – which is what you’ll likely have for a lot of the game – and factoring in Glistening Ice and the cooldown times, their damage is extremely close – Flare has less than a 5% damage lead. I’d say that Ice is still perhaps better though if you’re ever choosing between them I still think I’d go for Ice, mostly because the passive buff is so much better.
 
Speaking of that, a lot of what I said under Earth also applies here. Ether attacks are a bit less common but also more dangerous, as you have fewer tools to deal with them – Speed doesn’t work, and they can’t be dodged. Ice is a good answer to them.
 

Summary

 
Here’s a shortlist of the art ratings from above.
 

Ubiquitous

 
* Summon Flare
 
* Summon Copy
 
* Summon Earth
 
* Summon Ice
 

Common

 
* Summon Bolt
 
* Spear Break
 
* Mind Blast
 
* Starlight Kick
 
* Reflection
 

Uncommon

 
* Hypnotise
 
* Burst End
 
* Summon Wind
 

Niche

 
* Shadow Stitch
 
* Summon Aqua
 
* Healing Gift
 
* Power Effect
 

Recommended builds

 

All purpose Melia Anti-Red tag Melia 4 Summon Melia AI support Melia
Summon Bolt Summon Bolt Summon Flare Summon Earth
Summon Flare Summon Flare Summon Earth Summon Ice
Summon Earth Summon Earth Summon Ice Summon Copy
Summon Ice Summon Ice Summon Copy Burst End
Summon Copy Summon Copy Reflection Power Effect
Spear Break Burst End Spear Break Spear Break
Starlight Kick Reflection Starlight Kick Starlight Kick
Mind Blast Mind Blast Mind Blast Mind Blast
Additional options/modifications
Reflection or Burst End instead of Mind Blast Hypnotise instead of Burst End or Mind Blast Summon Wind or Bolt instead of Summon Flare or Ice ??? (See below)
Reflection & Burst End or Hypnotise instead of Spear Break & Starlight Kick Summon Wind instead of Summon Bolt Burst End or Hypnotise instead of Reflection
Summon Wind instead of Summon Bolt

 
 
 
 
I would recommend using these builds as a starting point, then consider trying some of the additional options or modifications listed below to try and find something you enjoy.
 
All Purpose Melia is exactly what she sounds like – the general Melia build and probably what you mostly want to use 90% of the time. You have her five main summons, enough to let you keep summons flowing reasonably effectively without compromising other options too much. Mind Blast is great for its purposes. Spear Break and Starlight Kick to force topple is powerful and helps in most teams. The alternate options listed are generally just “swap out for other good arts”. Reflection gives you better durability. Burst End can be good for fighting weaker groups. Summon Wind can also be good against groups.
 
Anti-Red Tag Melia makes some small tweaks to make it easier to fight red tag enemies. It swaps out her two physical arts as, useful as they are, they don’t do anything if they can’t hit. If you have other physical characters in the team, Wind can be useful. Otherwise this build is very similar to the above.
 
4 Summon Melia sacrifices some ability to build up Element Burst in exchange for an extra utility art. This build focusing on using her three DoTs, meaning fewer but much higher effectiveness discharges. But if you prefer you can put Bolt (or Wind) in place of Ice or Flare as a means to build gauge more quickly.
 
AI Melia build – Melia has a notoriously poor AI which can often cause issues when she is controlled. What I’ve found is that keeping your partners on “Engage at Will” rather than using “Focus Attacks” makes Melia more likely to maintain buffs. With this setup, she will often support with double Earth + Ice. You can somewhat control her using summons by occasionally telling the AI to focus, then revert to engage at will. Same with Spear Break + Starlight Kick, so you may need to manage her AI somewhat with commands, which can be a bit tricky to do.
I’d also like to give a shoutout to FFnut on GFaqs who suggested trying something like this for AI Melia.
 

Skills & Skill Links

 
Moving on now, I’ll give a brief overview of Melia’s skills, and a loose suggested order to pick skills up in. As always, don’t take these as absolute truths – you may particularly want certain skills early, or just take the lazy approach and set a single skill tree until it’s finished or similar. The primary focus will be on the three default skill trees, though Melia’s 4th skill tree is easy enough to obtain and so will also be mentioned. Her 5th skill tree comes too late to be particularly significant, though I’ll mention some things it can bring for the postgame.
 
For brevity, I’ll describe skill tree progress in the format e.g. 0/1/2, meaning 0 skills in the left most skill tree, 1 in the second, and 2 in the right most. Including 4th skill trees it will go 0/1/2(/3), and 5th skill trees will go (4/)0/1/2(/3), though the latter probably won’t be needed.
 
Starting off, I would recommend switching to either Reliability to pick up Ether Awareness, which will improve Melia’s damage output a moderate amount, or to Honesty for High Speed, which isn’t super helpful for Melia at first, but Dunban can skill link it immediately, and Shulk only needs green affinity. Reyn can link it too, but needs blue affinity with Melia. Either way I would recommend grabbing both of these skills first.
 
After getting those… honestly, Melia’s skills won’t improve much for a while. A lot of the upcoming options are pretty bad. If you’d like to make use of Summon Aqua for a bit, Serenity of Water from Serenity will help a little. Otherwise I would suggest pushing through Honesty all the way to Electric Shock.
 
Following this, your skill trees will probably be either 4/1/1 or 4/2/1. Once you’ve reached this point, you are likely approaching the levels where you unlock Summon Earth, meaning it’s likely time to get Playing with Poison from Reliability.
 
You may also have unlocked her 4th skill tree, Reticence around this time. If so, there’s a lot of choices in what to focus on – things really open up in terms of where it can be useful to focus. 4th skill trees have much lower SP requirements, but Melia’s 4th skill tree has lots of mediocre early skills. If you are still lacking good gems, then Unadorned Beauty is a reasonable option. The last two skills are pretty good, Mental Barrier makes Melia a lot more durable against big AoE attacks, while Arcane Aura can help stop her spiking aggro under Element Burst.
 
Alternatively, you can stick with Reliability a little longer for Power of the Moon. This is a pretty nice skill as a skill link for others, not so much for Melia. It mostly works well with Riki’s 4th skill tree. The other main option I would say now is to go all the way through Serenity for Glistening Ice and Ultimate Ether. So with this, you will probably be looking at something like 4/5/3(/X) for skills.
 
The final especially notable skill is Enlightenment from Honesty, which is a bit confusing at first glance. First it says increased accuracy, then it says reduced resistance, which is it? Well in short, what this does is make it less likely your ether attacks are “resisted” by higher level enemies, causing them to have no effect. More precisely, Enlightenment doubles the effect art level has on ether attack “accuracy” from 5% to 10% per level. Against yellow tag enemies, you will probably not have issues with enemies resisting attacks, but against red tag enemies Enlightenment is critical. However as a first time player you probably won’t be aiming to fight red tag enemies until much later in the game, hence me not recommending it as a priority – though if you’re a returning player looking for trouble, getting Enlightenment early could be a good idea. Also note that casual mode completely removes these penalties anyway, making Enlightenment probably totally redundant.
 
From Melia’s 5th skill tree, Passion, there’s a few pretty good skills. Passion of Flame doubles Blaze’s duration, which can make Summon Flare more effective. Rejection of Evil is great for dealing with spike damage. Combined with the fact that Melia mostly has fewer, high power attacks, she will rarely need a Spike Defence gem once she has this skill.
 

Skill Links

 
Skill Links are a difficult thing to recommend, because they rely on two things that can be very different from person to person – your party affinity levels, which determines which shapes and how many you can link from each other person, as well as how many UMs you kill. So just like with a lot of this guide, I won’t prescribe a build – I’ll suggest some good skill links in approximate priority order.
 
In general, any skills that increase ether, most of which come from Sharla. Ether Assault for +20% ether damage or Ether Explosion for +75 ether are some of the best. As there’s only one star shaped slot, from blue affinity, you have to choose between them – I would say Ether Assault is generally better but do note the +20% damage is additive, so it’s a lot less good than it sounds in e.g. chain attacks or Element Burst. There’s also Ether Expansion for +25 ether, which you can link at green affinity, and Ether Unleashed for +15% ether at 50% HP, which requires purple affinity.
 
As Melia is generally great in chain attacks, Chain of Friendship from Shulk becomes even more important than it usually is. It may cost 45 coins but that’s a very worthwhile cost in most cases. With Reyn’s 5th skill tree, Ties of Friendship does essentially the same thing, but is smaller in effect and cost.
 
With Melia being almost entirely dependent on arts for damage, Riki’s cooldown reduction skills Amazing Stars or Love Sun become really useful. The former is generally better but does require unlocking Riki’s 4th skill tree, Love Sun is fine if you don’t have that tree.
 
I’d say the above are the most important skill links for Melia. After this, other skills fall into different categories depending on what you’d like:
 
Explosion of Energy from Seven is very good for Melia, it basically gives you free capped tension in every fight due to how often Melia uses her talent art. The main downside is the huge coin cost, as well as you likely won’t have access to the skill until very late.
 
Cheer of a Friend is a nice skill that helps in most teams, increasing party gauge gain from burst affinity. As Melia doesn’t easily build party gauge herself but is very effective in chain attacks, skills like this can help you get those powerful chains out more often. Though also Melia doesn’t give that many opportunities to activate burst affinities either due to having a low attack rate and not being very evasive… really, this is one that’s nice to include if it supports the rest of the team
 
If you want to add a bit of extra healing into your team, several skills like Friendship Heals or Kind Encouragement from Shulk are very nice to have. Similarly Healing Inspiration from Reyn.
 
 
Many skills improve rewards, such as increasing EXP or AP gains, or improving enemy drops. For example Spoils of War from Reyn, Rewarding Work from Shulk and so on. Mostly they’re just good in general, not necessarily for Melia in particular – however Melia only requires green affinity with Riki to get a hexagonal link when everyone else needs purple or pink, so she may well be your first choice for linking those chest boosting skills. Of the two I generally prefer Lucky Me – silver chests have 2 chances at slotted gear while gold chests only have 1, and on top of that the effect is much bigger and costs less coins.
 
Reyn in general has a bunch of okay low cost filler skills Melia can use – Mental Fortitude, Against the Odds and Bodybuilder, for example.
 
Heavy Equip is an interesting choice on Melia – many people really like it to take advantage of Heavyweight Expert from her 4th skill tree. I personally don’t think it’s worth the coin cost, especially if you are linking from Reyn or Sharla where it costs a massive 30 coins. And that really doesn’t help its case – 30 coins from them, or 15 coins from Dunban and max affinity, or 5th skill tree from Riki. None of those are good options for her.
 
Finally, an interesting lategame option you could consider is Glorious Future from Shulk. Unfortunately, it’s probably not going to be available until you’re into postgame or close to it, but it could be useful for fighting some difficult postgame enemies.
 

Gems

 
One final thing to think about with setting up Melia is which gems to use. As with skill links, it can be hard to know what gems a player may have access to, but I’ll list some commonly recommended options for her.
 

Weapon Gems

 
Weapon gems are generally the most valuable type, and in most cases you probably want to only use weapon exclusive gems on your weapon. Melia is no exception to that rule of thumb.
 
Poison Plus, Chill Plus and Blaze Plus all work very well on Melia, boosting her main damage sources considerably. An important thing to know is these are NOT additive bonuses – they multiply to the damage over time effect directly, meaning they stack extremely well with other sources of extra damage. Generally Poison > Chill > Blaze is the order I would recommend for gems, if you are trying to choose between them. At least one, often two of these is generally the highest priority for Melia’s weapon gem slots.
 
Electric Plus boosts the damage of both Bolt and Mind Blast, which is pretty good – though bear in mind it’s an additive bonus, and may draw additional aggro.
 
Back Attack Up is a bit of a rare gem but is another direct damage bonus. It can be a bit awkward to utilise as you often want to stand near your allies, but if you don’t mind sometimes foregoing your buffs it can let you get some very strong DoT ticks going.
 
Topple Up lets Melia deal more damage to toppled foes, though note that it’s an additive bonus and you already get guaranteed crits against toppled enemies with ether – but it’s still a good bonus.
 
Arts Heal can be somewhat nice for Melia, who of course deals most of her damage with arts, many of which are AoE. But normally Melia won’t need that much specific healing.
 
Attack Plus or to a lesser extent Attack Stability gems help improve Melia’s damage by a reasonable amount. Of the two Attack Plus are generally better, since you’re increasing a bigger number and you won’t get capped by your max attack.
 
Talent Boost can be a fun option on Melia, letting her build up her talent gauge quickly, with the damage drawback being fairly trivial. Could be useful on the AI Melia build for entering burst.
 
Arts Stealth can be useful if you find Melia has trouble with aggro generation. Aggro Down similarly works, but has lower values, and the vast majority of Melia’s aggro comes from arts.
 
 
 

Armour gems

 
Armour slots are generally a bit less valuable, so I will include gems that can go in either here as well. Of course equipment gems can go into your weapon, so if you lack enough good weapon gems you may want to do just that.
 
Ether Up is probably the most obvious. Melia uses Ether to attack, high Ether means higher damage. Often you can benefit from several Ether Up gems, until the lategame.
 
Initial Tension or Tension Swing both help Melia to reach high/very high tension, which is valuable for entering and maintaining burst. Great if you don’t have another plan for raising your tension.
 
Aura Heal is activated by Burst. If you can keep your tension high and thus keep burst active, it’s an indefinite regenerative effect.
 
Physical Protect and Ether Protect are pretty strong effects, and they add up with Earth and/or Ice. You can therefore potentially have 80% protection in one type seconds after starting a fight, just from your own summons and gems. In general though these gems are nice for short fights and for setting up.
 
If you want to make a healer Melia, Recovery Up and HP Up are valuable. HP Up means you heal more, while Recovery Up will let you restore your own HP more quickly.
 
Many gems are just generically good on anyone. Debuff Resist, EXP Up, AP Up, Quick Step and Unbeatable being examples.
 

Playing Melia

 
Now that we’ve explained more or less everything there is to how Melia works, it’s time to start talking about how to actually play her. Melia can often be one of the harder characters to control, because there’s so many different factors to consider.
 

Managing Elements

 
Knowing your elements and their order is probably the biggest thing to playing and optimising Melia. Earlier, I mentioned that a basic strategy is simply, summon twice, then alternate summoning and discharging. Well, a fairly simply minor improvement to that is reversing the order of the last big – keep three elements active, then get into the habit of discharging and summoning right after. The third element will vary a lot, but it means you get an extra buff active some of the time, which is still good.
 
Of course, just keeping two buffs active indefinitely isn’t necessary the best. One drawback to double Earth for example is that you’ll be waiting a long time before you can discharge Earth, Melia’s best source of damage. So you may want to improve that option by starting with a double Earth summon, but then after cycling most of your other summons, discharge the 2nd Earth and replace it with something else and building back up to your stack of three summons. This also has the additional bonus of building the talent gauge more quickly (and thus can be a good way to end fights if you are not in burst) – but make sure you have a plan for getting your summon stacks back up afterwards. Discharging three elements and then suddenly realising everything on cooldown is a pretty bad position to put yourself in. Discharging three elements then immediately using two summons is generally pretty good.
 

Chain Attacks

 
Chain Attacks are a great way for Melia to get some very high power attacks out of her DoT arts, which is another reason you might want a mixture of elements. Of course, you can’t always rely on chains going long enough to use all three elements, in fact especially in the early-midgame you should probably expect to only use one or two summons. Later on when you have all the chain link skills, and higher affinity, you may be able to plan around discharging all three elements more often in chains. Keep in mind that if you re-use a DoT effect, it overwrites the same DoT from that character’s damage – this means if you get a high damage discharge during a chain attack, you will want to refrain from launching that element again until the DoT effect is up or nearly up – unless of course you can target a different enemy, with Earth.
 
Depending on if the goal of your chain attack is just to kill outright or to set up high damage over time, you could aim to organise your elements slightly differently. Going for a kill, you might want to discharge most elements and get a double bolt summoned – they are your highest damage option in general, after all. For high DoT you would ideally have Earth discharged at chain max for, well, max damage. This can easily start ticking for 5 figure damage every 2 seconds, quickly ripping most enemies down. Ice would be 2nd priority usually, though there are many situations where Blaze may be better – its DoT is weaker, but with Passion of Flame it does have a 40 second duration and so deals overall slightly more damage than a single Ice discharge. Of course if you have Chill Plus, that really doesn’t apply.
 

Element Burst

 
Managing Burst is a very difficult part of playing Melia, and if I’m honest probably the bit I still feel most uncertain in my play. As mentioned in the arts section, tension has a big impact on the chance of Burst ending, at very high tension the chance is just 10% per discharge. Thus, you generally want to have at least high tension when you are in Burst. I won’t go into the details of how to manage tension, but criticals, burst affinity, breaking visions as well as skills and gems can raise your tension. If you’re in a low danger fight and don’t really need to discharge to win, you may want to just not discharge anything if you’re at normal tension. But in longer fights, you still want to do it. You won’t deal much damage if you’re too afraid to risk your Burst.
 
Something to keep in mind with Element Burst is that its damage bonus is additive. Therefore, it’s much more important for dealing good damage outside of chain attacks than inside – raising Earth from 1K to 2K damage per tick tends to be more impactful in killing quickly than raising it from 8K to 9K damage, for example.
 
Burst of course activates several things other than a damage increase. Most obviously, you can use Burst End and Mind Blast. Of the two, Burst End there’s often little reason to wait – though if you think you will be able to chain attack soon-ish, you might want to delay using Burst End until your party gauge is (nearly) full. Mind Blast is a bit weirder, sometimes you just use it immediately, if you just want to nuke everything ahead with high damage, but if you know or suspect your foe has a nasty aura (often Telethia) you will probably want to wait, and even may want to avoid discharging elements to maintain your Burst until they use that aura so you can immediately remove it. It depends on how dangerous the aura is, really.
 
The less obvious thing burst does is activate an aura, and thus activates effects contingent on auras, most notably Arcane Aura to reduce aggro, which further helps Melia keep her own aggro down. Aura Heal is another possibility, if you have those gems equipped.
 

Survival & Battlefield awareness

 
One final aspect of Melia that’s worth discussing is her survival. Melia is typically frail, with very low max HP and low avoid, meaning AoE attacks will often hit her, and can even OHKO her in cases. Fortunately she has some defence against this – her 4th skill tree reduces AoE ether attack damage, and there’s the option of running Reflection. With force topple you can also delay any visions, should an enemy be aggro’d onto Melia, and there’s also Reflection which can deal with non-talent AoE attacks. Another useful trick is also surprisingly obvious: Positioning. Many attacks affect either a cone or line ahead of an enemy, so if Melia is to an enemies side – or back – she won’t get hit by them. Thus, while Melia doesn’t have any explicit positional arts you still want to be aware of how you position yourself with her.
 

AI Melia

 
As of writing this guide, I don’t have huge amounts of experience using Melia as an AI partner, however there are some things she can do which are useful. As mentioned above, Melia tends to hold on to summons while under “Engage at Will”, and discharges them more freely when told to “Focus Attacks”. Therefore, she can take more micromanagement than other AI characters. One useful thing to remember is that when you get a vision, warning a character will fill their talent gauge (except Sharla, whose empties instead) – this means you can warn Melia, and immediately use Mind Blast, which can potentially destroy vision tags. However, bear in mind many foes have a 70% or 100% resistance to Arts Seal, so don’t expect this to be a free win against all visions.
 

Party members & synergy

 
Finally, we will consider what kind of teams Melia works well in. And fortunately due to the nature of her talent art gluing together chains of varied colours, and support working for anyone, teams with Melia tend to be very versatile in who you include. However, since Melia is ether focused, she tends to work a little bit better with other ether focused characters, such as Riki and Sharla – and indeed Melia, Riki, Sharla is a commonly recommended team – it can struggle a bit with aggro as nobody there is really a tank (Riki comes close but needs some way to draw extra aggro) but otherwise it’s a very solid team. Even with physical characters though, Melia can fit well, especially when player controlled, and can give Flame buffs for extra strength – or just throw out high ether damage while the others deal physical, and help take aggro.
 
Shulk is probably the only notable character that Melia can struggle to be in teams with, due to both having somewhat poor AIs, and also both being characters who usually really want to avoid aggro – meaning your third person almost always wants to be a tank who draws aggro well.
 
I feel like I’m repeating myself here a bit, but as always I recommend trying out different teams and seeing what works for you. But here’s a few Melia teams you can try out:
 
Melia, Riki, Sharla is a pretty well known team, and I already mentioned it above – as long as Riki can hold aggro, you have great damage mitigation and healing, as well as support from Melia and Riki. Plus being almost entirely ether focused, the team fights high level enemies well with little more than Enlightenment linked to everyone.
 
Melia, Dunban, Reyn is a team with some strong tanks, and very strong chain attacks. You will likely want Electric Gutbuster on Dunban for added reliability, but even without that Melia can get a topple, and those two follow up for very long down durations – which you can extend in a chain attack easily, thanks to Melia. You can also swap either person for Seven and get a similar effect, late in the game.
 
Melia, Riki, Seven is a team I’ve been enjoying in my most recent playthrough, and I apparently recommended it 5 years ago as well. This is sort of an almost-ether team, Seven will be doing lots of physical stuff as well, but Melia + Riki tends to work well together and Seven fits in nicely with some useful debuffs and high damage output.
 

Closing Thoughts

 
This guide ended up being exceptionally long, far longer than I thought it would. At one point the full version was 25 pages in Word, which was more than I ever thought I could write about one character. I also found I reused very little of my previous guide, which I thought would make this a short, 1-2 hour project. It ended up taking probably closer to 10 hours.
 
After some thinking I have decided I will not be writing any more guides. Part of this is the time investment, not just in writing the guide but also playing and testing more to ensure accuracy. This is especially true with some characters, where I mostly just stick with the same 8-10 arts and basically never experiment with the rest (Reyn, Dunban in particular), it’s very hard to give well rounded advice and strategies involving those less common arts.
 

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