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Thanks! do you have any tips for how often/when i might need to do persona fusion/holding up a shadow to get it on my team?
You should try to "recruit" every Persona you meet. Not only will it keep you pretty close to level appropriate, but it will also mean that you automatically get a full reveal of all their various strengths and weaknesses in every battle.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend using the ones you recruit, as Fused Personas are always better than "natural" ones, but once you get a full list of fresh Personas, just fuse them all into the highest-level stuff you can, and try to make sure you're covering any elements your party members aren't.
Formerly a panda, formerly a carnivore. Now just a guy without a catch phrase. https://imgtc.com/i/uVS7l1o.jpg
Basically, try to recruit everything, and then ditch them afterwards if you don't think you'll want them (because then you can summon them from your compendium later if you need them, as long as you've gotten them once). This will also allow you to see their complete list of strengths and weaknesses, making it easier to fight them in the future. Check regularly what they can fuse to create. I'd strongly recommend that the initial example fusion the game has you do (Arsene + Jack O' Lantern = Mandrake) is something you'd want to level over the first dungeon (make sure to pass Arsene's basic curse spell to it), as its high luck stat and learning the high-probability, single-target confusion spell means that it will be super useful-- if an enemy doesn't have any elemental weaknesses, it's usually secretly weak to status ailments, and that confusion can work on nearly everything besides (it's even part of the super money-making trick-- try it against a few minibosses and see which ones are vulnerable to it, because then they'll toss huge wads of cash at you 1/3 of the time!). Plus, it's the earliest-available Death persona, and that means that it's very helpful for boosting your relationship with the Death confidant (Dr. Takemi), when she's both one of the few available and one of the most valuable to boost up early. Always try to have a matching persona with you when you hang out with a confidant to accelerate their growth.
Oh, and when the fourth dungeon opens up, you'll unlock the ability to sacrifice personas to give a huge XP surge to one of your other ones. The various unwanted recruits are prime fodder for this!
If you want a resource that allows you to calculate what personas would be fuse-able from different combinations (as well as reverse look-up), try this: https://aqiu384.github.io/megaten-fusion-tool/p5/personas