Final Fantasy V - The Brave Bards

Antlion was little threat, since the two warriors could Hi-Potion and Phoenix each other, but it still took several minutes since we had to eat the damage-throttling Sonic Waves.

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Add another song to the list. This one increases Magic Power. Not all that useful; it does boost Requiem but pretty much nothing else a bard does. But still worth having and I did have a use in mind for it later.

I spent a little time trying to work out the exact mechanics of the stat-boosting songs. I tried to use the emulator's memory search functions to view exactly what the stats were doing, but never managed to find them. As near as I can figure, the game keeps internal track of the action bar of a singing bard, and whenever that bard would get a turn, the appropriate stat bumps by 1. What this means is that the Speed Song feeds on itself -- the faster the bards started going, the faster they would add more speed to themselves. Two concurrent Speed Songs in particular were very noticeably more than double just one song. And the Speed Song would in turn make for faster boosting with each of the other songs.

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And finally we acquired the mighty Chicken Knife. How much damage does it do?

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Uh, that's not a lot. Guess we have to run around for a while to power it up. (The bards are Brave, but not crazy, they're allowed to run. smile.gif - 1kb )

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I have no idea why I never thought of this before... but the Pyramid is only a long dungeon if you crawl around collecting all the treasures. Going straight to the top takes less than ten minutes. Then you can get Lenna back, then return to the Pyramid to clear everything with a full party and avoid Lenna falling behind in experience. And you can even pick up some legendary weapons and Mirage's goodies first.

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Merugene was no problem with the bards strategizing well. Faris sang the Swift Song behind a Guardian Dagger as usual, Krile dished out Hi-Potions, and Iolo went to town with the mighty Chicken Knife. Hallelujah, the Chicken Knife is not subject to the knife agility damage bug -- so the Swift Song boosts its multiplier!

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And finally we got to pick up the last songs. First the Sinewy Etude, which raises Strength just like the other stat boosters. And the last song:

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Geez, good day to you too Mr. Minstrel. tongue.gif - 1kb

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Took me a while to track down the missing eighth piano over in Moore, then we collected the final song from that uppity minstrel. (A little cooler translation there than "You're now master of piano", eh?)

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One resource that shone here that didn't for Spoony was Apollo's Harp. It has a 75 attack rating and uses magic power for the multiplier, which came out to a nicely adequate 800ish damage, including from the back row. Spoony never bothered with it over the Chicken Knife, but for this full party, it was indeed the second-best weapon, or even best when we didn't want the Chicken-fleeing in trying to actually win a fight. The Assassin Dagger was also solid. But for a useful fourth weapon we were really hurting; the Thief Knife and its lousy 66 attack was the best I could find.

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Stalker went down easy. So did Minotaur, though oddly Songs are classified as magic spells and forbidden in the fight. Got it done with the Chicken Knife as usual.

Omniscient was a bit more of a problem. He hit Krile with a Mute while she was singing, and she somehow got stuck. Her action bar stayed full, but no matter how many times Lenna hit her, Krile never woke up to receive another command. Didn't look like she was singing either. Lenna had to kill her with the Assassin Dagger to sort that out.

Anyway, how can two bards beat Omniscient without Hiding away his magic points? No song deals any direct magic damage. Apollo's Harp also counted as a physical attack (all weapons do) causing Omniscient to Reset the battle. Lenna and Krile could probably survive thanks to Regen replenishment until he ran out of magic points, but I had a better idea.

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Omniscient is vulnerable to Stop status, so he could be killed by a combo of the Stop song and weapon hits. But that would also take a long time and I had an even better idea.

First sing the buff songs until Level was maximized, then also Magic Power. (You can't tell how much magic power you have, but you can approximate your rising Level and see when it maxes out by looking at the healing numbers from Regen status.) Then Stop him and whip out the Magic Lamp!

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The several summons did enough damage to add up past his 17,000 HP total -- and very conveniently, the Reflect bestowed by summoning Carbunkle bounced his dying Flare move.

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I don't need to tell you how four Requieming bards shredded the Great Sea Trench, but I will comment on one amusing bit. The bards could simply ignore the damage from the lava floors. The lava never kills, just leaves characters at 1 HP -- which was no threat in battle since they always just won on the first round!

Over in Istory, I'd neglected to buy Coral Rings (mostly because we didn't have the money after four Haste Shoes.) I tried Leviathan anyway, hoping that the Chicken Knife could get it done...

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Whoa, where did that come from? That would be Apollo's Harp dealing its 8x damage against DRAGON enemies, as which apparently Leviathan counts! We survived only one Tidal Wave through the whole fight (it's a counterattack only against spells) and won easily.

So into the Void. Calofisteri took a few minutes to work down but posed no threat as always. And in the Caves section, I was ready to triumphantly claim an easy victory over Omega. The Stop song makes for an easy shutout lockdown of the scary robot, shutting off his counterattacks too.

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But we couldn't deal any damage! Nothing the bards could do could overcome Omega's 190 physical or magic defense. The Chicken Knife topped out at 127 attack. The Dancing Dagger doubled by Sword Dance only makes 102, and all the rest of the daggers come in lower than that. All the bards' buffs were no good here; you can raise your agility and strength and level all you want, but that only ever increases your multiplier. 0 times any multiplier is still 0. FF5 doesn't even give you FF1's minimum of 1 damage inflicted.

There exists no lightning-element knife to hit his elemental weakness and bypass magic defense. The bards could not use any other lightning elemental weapon, nor any axe-type defense piercing weapon. Apollo's Harp wasn't strong enough either, and no other harp worked against the Heavy monster. No X-Fight, Spellblade, or Turtle Soup. A tiny bit of damage could be dealt with the Magic Lamp (Bahamut and Ramuh) but not remotely near killing him. (Couldn't we have three bards keep Omega stopped while the fourth keeps running the Magic Lamp for recharges? No? Bah.)

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Ha, got it! A plain old critical hit from fists will set the enemy defense to zero!

Well... the attack power of non-monk fists is 0..(Level/4) + 3. With Level song-boosted to 99, that's 3..27. But unfortunately, neither Strength nor Agility figures in to the multiplier so the damage stays very low. M for fists is a flat 2 and doubled to 4 by a crit. At an average of 60 damage per crit, that's 925 crits to kill Omega. And at 6 rounds of combat per crit, that's over 5500 rounds. At five seconds of real time per round, I am not spending over eight hours on this silly exercise. crazyeyes.gif - 1kb

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Especially when any slip in the Stopping can mean instant bard pancakes. So we passed on the challenge, though it would be winnable for someone more insane than I am.

Apanda went down easily. Given his Drain responses, the best approach was to attack with only our strongest weapon, the Chicken Knife of course. A few bars of the Agility song boosted its damage nicely and everybody's speed to counter all the damage with Hi-Potions.

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Apocalypse also went down easily, and the fun part was that we even did it through Level 2 Old. Aging gradually reduces a warrior's stats -- but Swift and Strength singers could actually undo that debuff! Then eventually Faris went down to 9999 damage from a ???? attack, which was a boon as it wiped out the aging. Her stats continued to increase and a few more 2000+ strikes from the Chicken Knife wiped out the boss.

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Catastrophe took two tries, after two Earth Shakers hit quickly without enough time to repair the damage between. The answer was to go heavy on the Swift Song, singing that with two bards until maxed, giving enough actions to use Hi-Potions and Gold Needles.

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Halicarnassus, same plan, double Swift Song to get a crazy amount of actions (like, sixteen per boss turn) all while boosting the Chicken Knife's damage, and we won before any Holys.

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Twin Tania went down to a cheese option, the Assassin Dagger's death spell during the "powering up" form. Worked on the first swing, though Lenna had the speed to get three shots before Giga Flare. Beating him legitimately would have worked only if I'd walked out to buy Coral Rings; we couldn't outheal Tidal Wave while also dealing enough damage in time. (Giga Flare would have pancaked the party instantly, no question. A bard needs like level 60, not 38, to survive 3000 damage.)

And on to Necrofobia. The hard part of this battle would be the very beginning. Once down to one barrier, the team could take all the time they wanted to sing each other up to max buffs. But these bards with such precarious life totals would have great difficulty surviving the initial barrage of Holy and Flare spells.

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Except - got it - they're vulnerable to Stop! So all it took was two bards locking them down, one Swift Songing, and Iolo going to work with the Chicken Knife. The Romeo-wall wasn't perfect until the Swift Song ramped to full volume, so three of the barriers did get one turn, but we had enough actions to undo the damage with potions and phoenix down. And with the last barrier held in Romeo stasis, the bards chorused up to maximum speed, strength, and level. Spoony couldn't do this because he could never stop himself singing, but four bards could easily hit each other out of it.

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Bam! There's vengeance for Spoony!

And Exdeath played right into the bards' hands. Any fight that allows long stretches of time for the bards to fully buff up means game over in the bards' favor. Tree Exdeath does nothing dangerous for the first half of his AI routine, just a moderate strength physical attack, and White Hole which is repairable with items. And as Spoony described, all buffs during this phase carry over to the Neo Exdeath phase. So the bards sang Swift Song to the max, then the Level song, Strength song, and even Mana's Paean. We didn't Hide until White Hole ran out of magic, but repairing it when it hit was as easy as Phoenix Down, Gold Needle, Elixir.

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So there's the Chicken Knife ripping out its 9999s, and Tree Exdeath went down in a hurry.

As for Neo Exdeath? Watch the video!

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And that completes the saga. This team truly did show the power of Song magic, which can take the physically weakest class in the game and turn them into what you saw on Neo Exdeath. As for the question, is it possible to incur any level of challenge in this game with a full party of four characters? Yes, at least early; Garula and Byblos and ArchaeoAevis and Atmos took some strategizing in new ways. I expected that the big dangers would be attacks that deal big damage to the entire party, one-hitting the low-health bards. But those really didn't come up very often; Twin Tania is cheeseable before Giga Flare hits. Most bosses with such attacks are actually optional, Gil Turtle with his Earth Shaker, and Omega and Shinryuu.

Thanks for reading along! I'm not sure if I'm done with FF5 now, but watch the Realms Beyond thread for comments on this tale or any in the future.

Index | (No, I didn't do the FF5 Advance bonus dungeon again.)