While many role-playing games dabble in elemental resistances and vulnerabilities and include buffs and debuffs as gameplay aspects, they’re rarely as determinative and fundamental to combat as they are in most Persona games. Hitting enemies with the element they’re weak to could, in previous games, down said enemy, earning the player a One More, and given the restrained Hit Point pool available to players and the damage enemies dealt, preventing attacks in this was wasn’t just a nicety that extended your ability to explore dungeons at length, but rather a necessity that helped ensure you’d survive the encounter. The lofty status enjoyed by elements, buffs and debuffs has largely been diminished in Persona 5 Tactica, but buffs and debuffs are still there and in some cases can be instrumental. To help you best exploit these mechanics, this page will explain elements, buffs and debuffs in Persona 5 Tactica.
How Elements and Debuffs Work in Persona 5 Tactica
Each character in your party has access to a different offensive spell, and in any other Persona game these would be tied to some element or another, making each character vulnerable to the opposite element but also capable of exploiting enemies who are weak to said character’s native element. In Persona 5 Tactica, however, spells no longer inflict elemental damage - damage is damage, but to differentiate these offensive spells and keep them from merely being colorful damage clouds, each spell can also inflict a specific type of debuff, as follows:
In addition to the spells listed above, you can [find or fuse persona] that have access to Kouga (inflicts Dizzy) and Megido (no debuff) spells. These debuffs can also be found attached to weapons created via [Weapon Fusion], but guns with debuffs attached usually have a mere 10-20% chance of proccing, and can’t really be relied upon.
Debuff Effects in Persona 5 Tactica
There are ten different debuffs in Persona 5 Tactica, eight of which can be inflicted by spells possessed by the various party members. In addition, Kouga spells (Dizzy) can be found on various Persona, and every debuff, including the elusive Sleep, can spawn on weapons created via [Weapon Fusion]. Below you’ll find descriptions of every debuff in the game, the spell they’re attached to, and the characters who can natively cast them.
Steals the target’s Movement, thereby raising the user’s Movement on their next move. The more targets hit at once, the greater the Movement bonus.
A passable debuff that also gives the player a buff, curse skills like Maeiha have a moderate AoE (comparable to Maragi, Mazio, and Mabufu), making them fairly capable of striking multiple enemies at once. Joker possesses this skill natively and he’s already got a decent movement speed, and with a Despair proc he’s roughly comparable to Yusuke and Morgana in terms of mobility. That said, it’s not a huge buff even if it does proc (which it’s not guaranteed to do), and you’ll usually be hitting 1-2 enemies with it. Morgana and Yusuke’s movement is blatantly superior and in the case of Yusuke, he also brings Auto-Masuku to the table, which gives the whole party a guaranteed movement boost for three turns at the start of every map.
Blows the target away in the direction of the user’s attack. The target will fly over any obstacles in their path.
In grid-based tactical role-playing games, movement and position are very important. Sweep allows you to move enemies about - literally by blowing them away from the caster, making it very potent in certain circumstances. Blowing a group of enemies out of and away from cover, off a ledge, or ideally into the range of another character or attack. It’s a great power to have handy when the situation demands, especially since [Launcher Types] can be instantly killed by changing their elevation, and [Revenger Types] will counterattack when hit, but if the triggering attack knocks them back, their counterattack will likely just involve them leaping back to where they started. It’s extra helpful that Morgana has access to the Garu skills natively, as he’s tied for the fastest character in the game (along with Yusuke) and his speed allows him to make good use of the Sweep debuff attached to his Garu skills. Even better, this always procs (assuming you hit an enemy that can be knocked back), so you’re not burdened by the randomness that plagues some other debuffs.
Prevents target from moving for one turn.
Not the worst ability in the game, but most enemies have some form of a ranged attack, so this is only really effective against Revenger Types, and only if it procs. Ryuji has access to Zio skills natively, which all can inflict Shock.
Knocks target away from user and damages them for one turn.
Not as potent or reliable as Sweep, Burn has to actually proc to take effect and the knockback distance is lower, but you do get some secondary damage out of it if it does proc. It also doesn’t help that Ann - who natively has access to Agi skills - isn’t the fastest character in the game (tied for second slowest, in fact!). Agi spells do have inherently better AoE than Garu skills, though, so it’s not a complete wash.
Prevents the target from taking any actions for one turn. Enemies will be unfrozen if they take any damage.*
Sort of a mix of Shock and Forget since it prevents both enemy movement and action, but it’ll wear off if you attack a frozen enemy. Can be useful, since it just negates an enemy’s turn, but it has its downsides. Namely, a frozen enemy’s counterattack won’t trigger if they’re frozen, so if you’re trying to trigger a [Teleporter Type] into swapping places with you or you are trying to make a Revenger Type vulnerable, Freeze is actually counterproductive. Yusuke has access to Bufu skills natively, and on him it’s fine - you can always equip a Persona with another spell if you don’t want to risk the enemy becoming frozen, and his movement speed and Auto-Masuku are worth the trouble even if you couldn’t. On weapons, though, this debuff just adds too much uncertainty to the mix. Like Eiha, Agi and Zio, Bufu spells have moderate AoE.
Pulls all surrounding enemy units towards the target while dealing damage to all enemy units caught in the vortex.
Now this is an interesting one. Vortex functions somewhat similarly to Hypno, save it doesn’t lure enemies to the caster, but rather to the target. It always procs - anything in range will be sucked towards the target of the spell, and this is where Vortex shines. The distance enemies are moved is generally poor, since it’s restricted to the AoE of the spell itself, which is never going to be more than a few tiles out from the epicenter. That said, to make the spell function at all, concessions had to be made - in this case, the AoE of Frei spells is noticeably greater than anything other than Almighty spells. The wide AoE of the Frei/Mafrei line of spells effectively renders the Vortex debuff a nonissue, for better or worse, as it’ll be a potent cast just by virtue of hitting so many enemies with each cast, and even if the Vortex effect doesn’t do much (it rarely does), hitting any enemy with any spell will render them vulnerable. Plus, not for nothing, a properly cast Frei/Mafrei can draw enemies together, setting them up for devastating follow-ups by spells with inferior AoE. Makoto has access to Frei spells natively, and she’s arguably not the best vessel for such a potent ability, due to her mediocre (tied for second worst) movement speed, but it’s a great ability to get on a Persona.
Lures the target towards the user. Hypnotized units will maneuver around any obstacles to get closer to the user.
One of the best debuffs in the game, it always procs and every Psi spell inflicts the Hypno debuff, making the debuff effectively a byproduct of the spell itself. Like the description says, it lures enemies towards the caster, making it the most effective and reliable way of moving enemies across the map - all you have to do is control the caster’s position and you can effectively herd enemies into AoEs like Triple Threat All-Out Attacks. There are some quirks worth discussing with this spell, however, namely that it’s not a good idea to cast this on Revenger Types (their subsequent counterattack is almost guaranteed to hit following Hypno - you’re luring them closer, what do you expect?) and Psi spells are natively possessed by Haru, the slowest character in the game (why are most of the female characters so slow?). Like with Frei, one of the spell’s core parameters has been altered to give this debuff the opportunity to shine, namely its range, which is the longest of any spell in the game. This compensates well enough for Haru’s poor movement range and makes the Hypno effect more pronounced, and it does come at the expense of AoE (Psi spells have the same stunted AoE as Garu spells do), but the range of Psi spells and the usefulness of the Hypno debuff make it well worth using… preferably getting Mapsi and higher-tier variants on a Persona so you can combine Psi’s strengths without having to indulge Haru’s slothful pace. Morgana with his high movement speed, his native access to Garu, and with a Persona giving him Mapsi is a potent manipulator of the battlefield, indeed.
Makes the target move at random for one turn-however they will still be able to attack like normal.
A sillier version of Shock, enemies with ranged attacks likely won’t be hindered, and you’ve got a mixed chance of a Revenger Type still being able to attack. This is a pretty dubious debuff, even if it lands. It’s attached to Kouga (bless) spells, which no character in the game possesses, so you can only get it from Persona or weapons.
Prevents the target from attacking for one turn.
A more useful alternative to Shock, Forget prevents the enemy from attacking - just what it says on the tin. Sure, they can still escape, but since they can’t actually do anything, who cares? This also prevents Revenger Types from counterattacking, which can be a mixed bag. Erina has the ability to inflict this debuff thanks to her Partisan skill, and it’s generally a good debuff to throw around, although it’s not a guaranteed proc.
Prevents the target from taking any actions for two turns-however, targets are awoken if they take any damage while sleeping. Furthermore, sleeping units restore HP and SP at the start of their next turn.
As is the norm for Persona games, Sleep is equal parts buff and debuff. Normally directly inflicted via the Dormina skill, debuffs have generally been paired with a direct damage spell… all save Sleep. Since Sleep never got attached to a damaging spell and there are no spells that inflict debuffs without damage, the Sleep debuff was left in limbo, only being attached to some weapons created via [Weapon Fusion]. That being the case, Sleep is rare enough that it’s virtually a non-factor in Persona 5 Tactica, but if you ever get it to proc it functionally like the Frozen debuff, save that it lasts longer at the expense of healing enemies.
Buff Effects in Persona 5 Tactica
The other side of the coin from debuffs, buffs give your character bonuses to various stats and parameters. The number of stats at play in Persona 5 Tactica is reduced compared to your standard Persona game. The surviving buffs are Tarukaja, Rakukaja, and Sukukaja, which improve attack, defense, and movement speed, respectively. Joker has access to Rakukaja (and the party-wide version, Marakukaja), Ann can cast Tarukaja and Matarukaja, Ryuji has Attack Master and Auto-Mataru, which automatically applies Tarukaja to himself and the entire party, respectively, at the beginning of combat, and Yusuke has Speed Master and Auto-Masuku, which applies Sukukaja and Masukukaja to himself and the entire party at the start of combat. None of your characters have access to Sukukaja or Masukukaja natively, but you can gain access to them via persona. The incredibly high-level Satanael persona also has the Auto-Riser ability, which automatically applies all three buffs at the start of battle. Buffs have a duration of 3 turns, unless cast by a character whose persona has the Sustaining Relief passive, which boosts buff durations by +2 turns.
Generally, the buffs in Persona 5 Tactica are strong and well worth a turn to cast - especially Masukukaja, which will boost all character’s movement speed for the duration. Being able to move far gives a tremendous advantage in combat, and this alone makes Yusuke a worthy companion, especially on quests with a turn limit. Enemies will very, very rarely apply buffs (Support Types may use Sukukaja on a single ally), buffs cannot be removed or dispelled, and the usual stat-reducing debuffs that counter these buffs aren’t present in Persona 5 Tactica.