Analysis by MackerelPye
Julian - Tender Thief


Obtainable as a 5 only

Hero Stats

Max Avg Total Stats at Lvl 40
HP 40
ATK 38
SPD 38
DEF 33
RES 18

Stat Variations

Level 1 Stat Variation
Low 17 7 9 6 4
Middle 18 8 10 7 5
High 19 9 11 8 6

Level 40 Stat Variations
Low 36 35 35 30 14
Middle 40 38 38 33 18
High 43 42 41 36 21

IV Sets

Key stats worth increasing through nature if possible.
Complementary stats that matter, but not to the point of picking them over key stats for nature increase.
Relatively worthless stat that can safely be decreased through nature.

Skill Sets

The TENDERIZER (Aether Raids Defense Focus)

Build by MackerelPye
Sky Maiougi+ (+Spd)
Alternate: Ouch Pouch+ (+Spd)
A Sturdy Impact
Alternate: Mirror Impact
Rally Assist
Alternate: Positional Assist
B Lull Atk/Spd 3
Alternate: Lull Spd/Def 3
Alternate: Ignis
C Panic Smoke 3
Alternate: Time's Pulse 3

+ATK or +SPD / -HP or -RES

SDeath Blow 3
Alternate: Hardy Bearing 3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Caltrop Dagger+ (+Spd) / Ouch Pouch+ (+Spd) / Cloud Maiougi+ (+Spd) / Sky Maiougi+ (+Spd) / Lethal Carrot+ (+Spd)

Assist: No Assist / Flexible

Special: Luna / Ignis

Passive A: Sturdy Impact / Mirror Impact

Passive B: Lull Atk/Spd / Lull Spd/Def / Wings of Mercy

Passive C: Panic Smoke / Time's Pulse / Infantry Pulse

Sacred Seal: Death Blow 3 / Hardy Bearing / Swift Sparrow / Quickened Pulse

  • Sothe and Kagero certainly get a spicy new rival for the category of "Best Defense Dagger". In particular, Julian's great raw offenses and similar access to built-in Hardy Bearing weapons (building immunity to Vantage strategies) and Impact skills (increases Julian's survivability and limits most units he initiates against to only one attack) make him more than ideal for defending your Aether keep.
  • There's actually little need to replace Julian's default Caltrop Dagger since it already has the effect of disabling attack priority changes from Vantage and Urvan. Technically speaking, though, Sky and Cloud Maiougi (and their generic equivalents like Dragonslasher) are more optimal since they hit more relevant tanks with effective damage.
  • Alternatively, if you already have your Hardy Bearing needs covered, Ouch Pouch and Lethal Carrot have great Special activation effects.
    • The former reduces the amount of Pulse support (through methods like Quickened Pulse, Time's Pulse, or outsourced Infantry Pulse) required to fully charge Julian's chosen Special—ideally either Luna or Ignis to break through bulky carries more easily.
    • The latter makes his chosen Special simply far too deadly to tank head-on (without significant support anyway).
    • At any rate, if you're not running a Hardy Bearing weapon, it is recommended to run it as a Sacred Seal if another ally isn't already handling it.
  • Lull skills are also very ideal for Aether keep defenders, and Julian already comes with Lull Atk/Spd himself, which helps him survive more often while swinging offensive matchups in his favor. Lull Spd/Def is a side-grade to consider if you prefer to break through your enemy's Defense instead. Wings of Mercy can also be considered in the B slot to punish those careless enough to leave Julian's allies alive at lower health.
  • The build's C slot also depends on the rest of your setup. For instance, Julian himself can use Infantry Pulse to accommodate for other allies needing precharged Specials. Otherwise, Panic Smoke is generally has the best debilitating effect of the Smoke skill tree (also accounting for the Def/Res drops from Julian's chosen dagger), whereas Time's Pulse lessens the amount of pulse support needed to precharge Julian's Special fully.  

Promotion-Hindered Ninja (Aggressive Sweeper)

Build by MackerelPye
Starfish+ (+Spd)
Alternate: Barb Shuriken+ (+Spd)
A Fury (3 or 4)
Alternate: Heavy Blade 4 / Flashing Blade 4
Positional Assist B Lull Atk/Spd 3
Alternate: Desperation 3
Alternate: Luna
C Time's Pulse 3
Alternate: Savage Blow 3

+SPD or +ATK / -HP or -RES

SFlashing Blade 3
Alternate: Swift Sparrow 2

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Starfish+ (+Spd) / Barb Shuriken+ (+Spd) / Pumpkin-a-Box (+Spd) / Red-Hot Ducks+ (+Spd) / Lethal Carrot+ (+Spd)

Assist: Reposition

Special: Moonbow / Glimmer / Luna / Bonfire

Passive A: Fury (3 or 4) / Flashing Blade 4 / Swift Sparrow / Atk/Spd Solo / Atk/Spd Push 4

Passive B: Lull Atk/Spd / Desperation / Null Follow-Up / Lull Spd/Def

Passive C: Time's Pulse / Savage Blow / Flexible

Sacred Seal: Flashing Blade / Swift Sparrow

  • This build makes optimal use of Julian's dual 38 offenses as well as his access to a ton of fun but competitive dagger inheritables.
  • The game plan should be largely familiar to those already running other player phase-type units: perform proper set up (especially for Desperation) and initiate on as many enemies as you please. Also like other hyper offensive units, Julian's A slot skill is pretty much taken up by most Atk/Spd boosting skills you can offer.
  • A lot of Julian's best player phase-type daggers are seasonal but are completely worth it if you are able to offer them—note that some of them can be obtained from limited Compile Manuals. As usual, Barb Shuriken is a good and accessible failsafe.
    • Starfish has Desperation built into it and basically opens up Julian's B slot to a number of other great B slot options like Null Follow-Up (for unhindered doubles against otherwise difficult enemies like Wary Fighter armors) or Lull skills (Julian fortunately already comes with Atk/Spd).
    • Pumpkin-a-Box pads out Julian's stats nicely and offers additional recoil setup necessary to set up Desperation.
    • Red-Hot Ducks has nice damage potential against slower foes as it deals a maximum of +7 true damage on each hit. It pairs particularly well with Flashing Blade 4 for a maximum of 12 true damage and easier Special activation. \
    • Lethal Carrot is simple but, true to its name, quite lethal as the added +10 damage on Specials is a nice shortcut in beating tough enemies.
    • Barb Shuriken is an easy-to-get and conventional choice which allows for better Special activation combinations, such as Flashing Blade + Bonfire or Luna, or simply Moonbow or Glimmer by themselves.
  • If you desire cooldown reduction but choose not to use Barb Shuriken, Time's Pulse is a great yet costly C slot option. As far as other options in that slot, pretty much anything else goes depending on your team / build setup.

MY CHICKEN TENDIES!! (Vantage Sweeper)

Build by MackerelPye
Broadleaf Fan+ (+Atk)
Alternate: Broadleaf Fan+ (+Spd)
A Close Foil
Positional Assist B Vantage 3
Alternate: Miracle
C Atk Smoke 3
Alternate: Spd Smoke 3


SFierce Stance 3
Alternate: Heavy Blade 3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Broadleaf Fan+ (+Atk or +Spd)

Assist: Reposition

Special: Glimmer / Moonbow / Miracle

Passive A: Close Foil

Passive B: Vantage

Passive C: Atk Smoke / Spd Smoke

Sacred Seal: Heavy Blade / Fierce Stance / Spd Smoke

  • With the current highest Attack stat possible of the dagger unit pool at this time of writing, it comes as no surprise that Julian can run the classic (yet overhyped) Broadleaf Fan + Close Foil+ Vantage build with upmost proficiency.
    • The combination of Vantage and Close Foil pretty much speaks for itself already: Vantage allows Julian to immediately counterattack his enemy before they can hit him, while Close Foil serves to expand the list of things he can Vantage counterattack on except Dragonstone units (which can be handled by initiating on them or using other allies to counter them).
      • Keep in mind that a number of countermeasures exist to bypass Vantage, such as Hardy Bearing skills and Dazzling Staff. Users should scout for such pitfalls before attempting to sweep as they are quite commonplace in higher-tiered Aether Raid Defense setups.
    • The huge damage-dealer here is Broadleaf Fan, which increases in power depending on the number of visible red penalties present on his targets' stats. It does require setup; Julian himself can apply the debuffs by initiating once himself, or can count on debuffing skills from other allies such as Temari, Chills, Ruse, Sabotages, etc. If all stat debuffs are in effect, Julian can reach upwards of 35 whopping additional damage.
  • A Smoke skill in the C or Sacred Seal slot or both helps Julian apply debuffs widely to a patch of targets. Heavy Blade, however, is also viable as it helps Julian fully charge his chosen Special quicker—instantly on a hit in the case of Glimmer or Moonbow, or simply more practically for MiracleFierce Stance can also be used to build more damage and can substitute for a missing Smoke.

Beat Until Tender (Close Foil + Lull Tank)

Build by MackerelPye
Barb Shuriken+ (+Def)
Alternate: Bottled Juice+ (+Def)
A Close Foil
Positional Assist B Lull Atk/Spd 3
Alternate: Moonbow
C Atk Smoke 3

+SPD or +DEF or +ATK / -RES

SSteady Posture 2
Alternate: Atk/Def Bond 3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Barb Shuriken+ (+Def / +Spd) / Bottled Juice+ (+Def / +Spd) / Minty Cane+ (+Spd)

Assist: Reposition / Draw Back

Special: Bonfire / Moonbow / Noontime

Passive A: Close Foil

Passive B: Lull Atk/Spd

Passive C: Atk Smoke

Sacred Seal: Steady Posture / Atk/Def Bond / Flexible

  • Julian also rolls pretty well and cheaply from the start with an amazing base kit. In particular, Close Foil and Lull Atk/Spd both already do well in optimizing the tender thief's physical tanking performance—giving him the ability to counterattack in melee combat while always hindering his enemies' combat potential—and have very little alternatives worth talking about. With a Defense- or Speed-increasing Sacred Seal such as Steady Posture added in, Julian can comfortably withstand multiple rounds of physical combat. As always, however, enemy attacks that hit his Resistance will be his bane.
  • Besides Atk Smoke and some Sacred Seal that serves to improve his tanking even more, only Julian's weapon and Special are left to your debate.
    • Barb Shuriken is always at the cusp of anyone's realm of possibilities as it is easily available while being practical thanks to shortening cooldown on Julian's Specials. It pairs extremely well with Bonfire and Moonbow as their very shortened cooldown value helps them more likely activate and deal burst damage in a single round.
    • If you're willing to spare the seasonal fodder, Bottled Juice is also a very strong choice as it mostly prevents enemies from simply breaking through with their Special.
    • For a continuous sustain option, Minty Cane pairs well with damaging Specials for lack of Noontime or other forms of healing.

A Little Pepper on that Ribeye (Special Spiral AOE)

Build by MackerelPye
Barb Shuriken+ (+Spd)
Alternate: Pumpkin-a-Box+ (+Spd)
A Fury (3 or 4)
Alternate: Life and Death (3 or 4)
Positional Assist B Special Spiral 3
Blazing Wind C Savage Blow 3
Alternate: Time's Pulse 3

+ATK / -HP or -RES

SAttack +3
Alternate: Heavy Blade 3 / Flashing Blade 3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Barb Shuriken+ (+Atk /+Spd) / Pumpkin-a-Box (+Atk / +Spd)

Assist: Reposition

Special: Blazing Wind

Passive A: Fury (3 or 4) / Life and Death (3 or 4) / Flashing Blade 4 / Heavy Blade 4

Passive B: Special Spiral

Passive C: Savage Blow / Time's Pulse

Sacred Seal: Atk +3 / Flashing Blade / Quickened Pulse / Heavy Blade

  • Julian also has the option of running a Special Spiral build with an area of effect Special, which is easy enough to set up with by precharging Blazing Wind (or any other you prefer) with skills such as Quickened Pulse, Time's Pulse, or outsourced Pulse support such as Infantry Pulse. After the usual Special setup is performed, Julian is free to go nuts with constant AOE damage—which is quite potent thanks to Julian's Attack being so high for his archetype—before his killing blow.
  • To optimize AOE damage as much as possible as these types of Specials measure the difference between Julian's Attack and the enemy's Defense, increasing Julian's visible Attack is the way to go. Thus, skills such as Atk +3, Fury, and Life and Death are preferred and listed.
  • Barb Shuriken is the optimal and more easily-usable weapon to use, as the permanent decreased cooldown means Flashing or Heavy Blade aren't required to get Julian's Special up and ready again with Special Spiral. Pumpkin-a-Box, however, makes for a fairly good counterargument as it increases all of Julian's visible stats, which is great for more stable combat performance and higher AOE output. In exchange, however, it requires the aforementioned Blade skills or outsourced support in Infantry Rush/Flash.


Exceptional Offensive Statline for a Dagger Unit

Contested pretty much only by Leila (in her favor, she does have an extremely exceptional PRF weapon), Julian snags some top spots as one of the best offensive dagger units in the game thanks to his offenses of 38 Atk / 38 Spd. While his Speed is bested only by a few units (even then, he can use a Speed Asset to push ahead of faster free units like Gangrel and Kronya), his Attack is considered one of the current best of daggers and lends itself very well to Broadleaf Fan usage and other builds.

Great Skill Access and Significant Flexibility

Being an infantry and dagger-wielding unit holds a lot of promise for Julian in terms of skills he can play with. BY DEFAULT, he comes with some of his achetypes' best skills already—Close Foil and Lull Atk/Spd are ideal skills that are applicable to many builds or simply great together. Skills of note include Special Spiral, Time's Pulse, Null Follow-Up, and many more. Even without a unique weapon of his own, Julian's statline and a colorful selection of inheritable daggers (such as Broadleaf Fan, Barb Shuriken, Starfish, etc.) makes him positively versatile and powerful regardless.


Any Semblance of Magic

At a disappointing value of 18, Julian's Resistance is a pretty clear blotch in his otherwise solid statline, and he cannot take magic well at all. Consequently, many competent high-Attack mages or dragons can snuff out our Tender Thief's life instantly. Much like Saizo and Matthew before him, if he must take an attack, it has to be physical and not magical if possible.

Weapon Skills

Weapons SP Rng. Mt.
Iron Dagger

After combat, inflicts Def/Res-3 on foe through its next action.

Learns by default at 1 ★
Unlocks at 1 ★
Dagger users only.
50 2 3
Steel Dagger

After combat, inflicts Def/Res-3 on foe through its next action.

Learns by default at 3 ★
Unlocks at 2 ★
Dagger users only.
100 2 5
Caltrop Dagger

Effective against cavalry foes. Disables unit's and foe's skills that change attack priority. Effect:【Dagger 5】  【Dagger 5】 After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Def/Res-5 on target and foes within 2 spaces of target through their next actions.

Learns by default at 4 ★
Unlocks at 3 ★
Dagger users only.
200 2 8
Caltrop Dagger+

Effective against cavalry foes. Disables unit's and foe's skills that change attack priority. Effect:【Dagger 7】  【Dagger 7】 After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Def/Res-7 on target and foes within 2 spaces of target through their next actions.

Learns by default at 5 ★
Unlocks at 5 ★
Dagger users only.
300 2 12
Available Rearmed Weapons
Arcane Void
Weapon Evolution
Weapon Upgrades
Weapon Upgrades

Special Skills

Special Skills SP Turns
New Moon

Treats foe's Def/Res as if reduced by 30% during combat.

Learns by default at 4 ★
Unlocks at 3 ★
Non-inheritable by Staff-wielding units.
100 3

Treats foe's Def/Res as if reduced by 30% during combat.

Unlocks at 4 ★
Non-inheritable by Staff-wielding units.
200 2

Passive Skills

Passive Skills SP Slot
Close Foil

If sword,lance, axe, bow, dagger, or beast foe initiates combat, grants Atk/Def +5 to unit and unit can counterattack regardless of foe's range.

Ranged Weapon Users Only
Unlocks at 5 ★
Lull Atk/Spd 1

Inflicts Atk/Spd-1 on foe and neutralizes foe's bonuses to Atk/Spd (from skills like Fortify, Rally, etc.) during combat.

Excludes Armor and Flying units.
Unlocks at 1 ★
Lull Atk/Spd 2

Inflicts Atk/Spd-2 on foe and neutralizes foe's bonuses to Atk/Spd (from skills like Fortify, Rally, etc.) during combat.

Excludes Armor and Flying units.
Unlocks at 2 ★
Lull Atk/Spd 3

Inflicts Atk/Spd-3 on foe and neutralizes foe's bonuses to Atk/Spd (from skills like Fortify, Rally, etc.) during combat.

Excludes Armor and Flying units.
Unlocks at 4 ★

Other Info

Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem

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