Final Fantasy V - The Brave Bards

Iolo and Team Bard easily beat Wing Raptor, and advanced to Karlabos just right at level 4 without having done any grinding.

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Turned out that this was indeed an easy fight for four characters, even underleveled and mostly wielding fists. A single Potion would undo any attack from Karlabos, with plenty of actions left over for attacking.

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Sirenbards106.png - 14kb killed a couple of bards with big physical attacks. But the bards dealt damage by feeding Potions to her undead form, and cleaned up once she shifted back again.

Hey, it's neat to actually have a reason to play those silly pianos. smile.gif - 1kb


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Whoa, ouch! Three monsters in North Mountain got a surprise round, and actually killed my party! crazyeyes.gif - 1kb Ha, I had screwed up by selling off my Phoenix Downs for cash out of solo habit. But that also shows how that low Bard vitality total is a serious liability, especially with lower levels than a solo character. Anyway, that is what I wanted to see, some challenge even for a full party.

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Forza then splattered the party too, by hitting with Tackle specialty moves for more than each bard's entire HP total. So the bards had to move into the back row, and slowly use Potions to undo each hit from the pair. In the back row, the bards' attack multiplier was already reduced all the way to 1, so they wouldn't do any less damage against Magisa in the monster back row than against Forza, so it was correct to kill her first.

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That worked... until the bards ran out of their entire stock of thirty potions. Humbled, I walked down North Mountain all the way back out to Carwen to buy a full load of 99. Took 45 potions to beat them.

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And Garula was another problem. Bards in the back row still had an attack multiplier of just 1 after being "halved" from 3. Each poke of Garula dealt just 7 damage! And triggered two counterattacks for up to 150 damage from him. That wasn't going to work.

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I tried to do the fight like this, putting only one bard in the front row (Galuf with the most HP) to at least deal 20+ damage per hit and counterattack. The rest of the bards would feed potions constantly. This was basically the same tactic Spoony had used, except that Spoony had a key advantage in the Elf Cape looted from Castle Walse. The Brave Bards couldn't get that item without the ability to Hide and auto-run away from the Garkimasras. And without an Elf Cape, 99 Potions weren't enough to outlast Garula, and in fact the team only got him down halfway.

I hated to resort to it so early, but I couldn't figure out any answer other than to add levels. Raising the team from level 10 to 13 brought Iolo's attack multiplier up from 3 to 5, one added from strength and one from the knife agility bug. (Before you rag on this team for resorting to powerleveling where Spoony didn't, remember that Spoony had leveled up significantly before Karlabos, which this team didn't do.)

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Now the math was on my side. Iolo needed about twenty attacks to get through Garula's last 800 HP. Each hit of Iolo's meant spending about three potions to repair Garula's regular and counter attacks, and the party got through with 29 potions still in stock.

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(By the way, that's Iolo with a capital letter I and lowercase L. Not "LOLO". It's pronounced approximately "yo-lo", with the first syllable being one of those odd Welsh vowel diphthongs.)

Just as Spoony did, Team Bard here claimed a massive weapon upgrade with Mythril Daggers in Karnak.

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LiquidFlame wiped the party once, thanks to avoiding a change into the harmless tornado form for six straight hits (1/64 odds!) and never allowing the party time to heal.

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The bard team won on the next try, but it was a close call. Start with the standard practice of hitting her into the tornado form and letting it burn out its 50 MP on self-healing fire spells. That Blaze spell from the human form hits all characters, meaning four times the potions needed to recover after each cast as compared to a solo game. And the Fire 2 spell from the hand form could almost kill a fragile bard in one hit (and did a few times but Phoenix Downs to the rescue.) Fortunately, the hand form also runs out of magic fairly soon, leaving that Blaze as the only remaining attack. It was a close race as to whether the potion stock would hold out against repeated Blazes, but the bards won with a mere 6 potions left in stock!

bards121.png - 5kbI alertly walked back out of the Steamship to Karnak for a fresh supply of potions before starting the castle escape sequence. (Yes, you can do that, even though it doesn't make a whole lot of sense per the storyline.) The bards performed adequately in the castle escape, getting all the important chests, though had to skip a few elixirs. Iolo proudly wielded the Guardian Dagger as an upgrade over the Mythril one.

And on to the Library. The two bosses here would be the first obstacles where the Brave Bards couldn't copy from Spoony. No Hiding them out of magic this time.

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Eep. Ifrit would deal 250 damage in a single turn with his Fire 2, or 320 spread across the four characters with Blaze. Potions couldn't possibly outrace that. More levels wouldn't even help against Blaze, since it's 1/4 of max HP -- actually powerleveling would be a BAD idea, increasing the amount of damage dealt by each cast! The only answer was to dip into the stock of bigger healing items, using up the two Hi-Potions and a total of four Elixirs. Also a bunch of Phoenix Downs, since when a character was like half full on health (between 100 and 200), it wasn't worth spending a healing item, but that character would sometimes get killed from there by Fire 2. We got it done but it wasn't pretty.

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And then Byblos, who was one massive road block. He was literally unkillable without running him out of magic. Below 800 HP, he responds to any hit with a 2/3 chance to cast a Drain spell to steal about 200 health. Drain has a small chance of missing on its own, making the odds about 1/2 overall. But that still meant Byblos would heal an average of 100 damage every time he was hit. And since the Guardian Dagger dealt only 50 per hit once Byblos unavoidably got his Armor spell on, Drain was completely impossible to outrace.

But heck, I couldn't even run him out of magic against the Drains. The other "insanity" classes all had particular abilities to do so: White could endlessly heal, Jesse had 99 stolen Hi-Potions to too, and Spoony could Hide. None of those options were available for the Brave Bards. Man, if we could have just ONE bard song, this would be so much easier. For a fight that lasts forever and ever, Song Magic would be just the ticket. We could raise one bard's strength or level to overcome the Drains, or everybody's Agility to create time to use plain Potions for healing. Even the Regen Song would make this fight a cinch. But no.

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99 Elixirs wouldn't even be enough! Byblos's Wind Slash move would deal 200 damage to each warrior -- so every two Wind Slashes meant four Elixirs burnt.

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The savior would be an item that you never see in the solo games: Phoenix Down. I had to intentionally leave warriors at low life totals, let Byblos kill them sometimes, and revive them. This also let me work around the slowing Thread/Web move, since getting KOed took off the Slow status.

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I made several attempts, going back out to round up more Elixirs and Phoenix Downs each time, with the warriors ending up at level 25. (There's another one of those 1/4096 triple drops there.) Each try, the warriors would slowly work Byblos down to Drain range and through his pool of magic points. I played a number of tactical tricks, like stripping down to fists to knock a warrior out of confusion, swapping the Guardian Dagger around to whoever had gotten hit by Sonic Wave the least, and moving warriors to the back row when enough Sonic Waves had reduced their multiplier to the minimum 1. Iolo ended up holding the Guardian Dagger for most of the battle, actually getting hit by Sonic Wave only once, and he didn't even lose any multipliers thanks to getting one back from the knife agility bug.

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The final cost was 57 Elixirs, 72 Phoenix Downs, a handful of regular potions (used when a warrior was right at 200 life, to survive one Wind Slash), and an hour-twelve on the game clock.

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Iolo triumphantly sailed the steamship right to Istory to finally claim a song and truly start the variant. More songs came from Crescent and flying the black chocobo to Lix. Romeo's Ballad (Stop) and Alluring Air (Confuse) attack all monsters and usually succeed, making random encounters cake now. And Mighty March applies Regen status to all allies...

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...perfect for a drawn-out fight like the Sandworm. This one took about ten minutes of patient dagger hacking, but just one Elixir per warrior.

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CrayClaw, as I remembered from White's game, is vulnerable to Confuse status, and had no chance against the bard chorus.

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Adamantimi was tougher. Yeah, there's that 25 defense, and the bards had no way to break that. There's Faris hacking away with her little Guardian Dagger. But since this boss attacks only physically, he could never kill more than two warriors at a time, and Phoenix Downs could always revive them. (Sadly that's the one item not sold at the half-price shop in Lix.) Faris camped out behind the famous Guardian Dagger + Elf Cape protection, with the other three pumping potions and Phoenix Down. I lost once, then bought more Phoenix Downs, needing 21 total to win out.

Incidentally, it was Faris wielding the Guardian Dagger right now because she had the best multiplier at the moment. That title passed around frequently, since the characters all have slightly different strength and agility stats. Sullla writes that the knife agility bug is really complicated, but it's actually not. Calculate the multiplier as usual, Agility * Level / 128, but then truncate it to either 0 or 1 based on whether that result is even or odd. A single multiplier made a noticeable damage difference for the still-weak bards, so this was worth tracking in a spreadsheet. I also shuffled agility gear around frequently to keep characters in a 1 agility multiplier range as much as possible.

Flameguns and Rocket Launchers both fell easily. They're vulnerable to Stop status so the bards could win without ever taking a single point of damage.

And Sol Cannon was another place where the Brave Bards had to diverge from Spoony and find a new tactic. No Hiding past Surge Beam this time!

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I figured out that the best way to handle the main cannon was actually solo. Every Surge Beam had to be answered by an Elixir no matter what I did, since Mighty March regen could not outpace the leak status. So the question to optimize was not how much damage could be inflicted per turn or per unit of time; it was damage per Elixir. That meant a single character, since there was only one Guardian Dagger, and it should be Faris as the fastest warrior.

As for the Launchers, I'd simply let them hit the other warriors and retry if one hit Faris. So Faris was able to deal a little over 500 damage per Elixir, getting two and occasionally three attacks per Surge Beam. Took a total of 18 Elixirs after the other warriors contributed a couple thousand damage before dying. Expensive and grindy, but I couldn't see any other solution.

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Random encounters in Ronka are usually tough? Not for Team Bard, haha. Between the Stop and Confuse songs, monsters just about never hit anybody.

Let me write some notes (ha!) on the mechanics. It turns out that Stop and Confuse are a lethal combination. If a monster is Stopped, it does not unConfuse upon getting hit! So the bards could disable every random monster twice over, then hack it down with daggers at leisure. Oddly, it seemed that the Stop song wouldn't work on monsters that were already confused -- maybe it's programmed to hit only true enemies, not confused temporary allies. But as long as the bards opened with Romeo's Ballad and Alluring Air in that order, they'd win most fights without a single point of damage.

And so we came to ArchaeoAevis. Oh dear, that's some extremely high defense. Fortunately it falls off fast after the first form.

I briefly tried having Faris fight solo again, for the same reasons to minimize damage from all-target spells, maximize damage per Elixir with the one stronger weapon, and get the Elf/Guardian items to block more attacks. I had tried to mimic Spoony's approach where he won with just seven Elixirs, but that didn't work so hot. Need to be a much higher level to pull that off; Spoony had had double the health of my bards for twice the mileage per Elixir.

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My bard team got through with 12 elixirs total plus four Hi-Potions. Above is what the fight looked like entering the final form of ArchaeoAevis. Check out those precarious life totals, and we were already out of Elixirs, but won anyway! As long as the boss used only single-target attacks, Phoenix Down could repair everything. And the only multi-target attack he ever used was Maelstrom, which of course can't kill. And with four bards all swiping daggers, it took only about four rounds of combat to hack up the boss.

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As we knew from Spoony's report, the Purobolos are vulnerable to the Stopping power of Romeo's Ballad, and that was another perfect fight by the bards. Chim.Brain/Manticore went down the same way. Unusually, Titan was actually the hardest meteor boss. He's vulnerable to Stop too, but it lasts for a much much shorter duration against anything with the Heavy flag, something like 30 ticks of the action bar (one round is 80-100 ticks depending on agility), so like a third of a round instead of three-plus rounds. I still hadn't acquired any more elixirs, so did Titan by having all three bards constantly sing Romeo's Ballad whenever their health was below max to let the Regen Song do the work.

I restocked on Phoenix Down, picked up one Flame Ring at Istory in case we wanted it, farmed five more elixirs for Gilgamesh on the bridge, and entered the warp zone to world two.

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