Final Fantasy: The Berserkers

So it's errand time again: visit Bahamut, clear the islands' treasure, buy the BOTTLE, receive OXYALE, pick up White spells for my Knight, WARP and level-7 spells and a CatClaw for my Black Wizard, refill on potions and TENTs.

As usual, I ventured into the Waterfall as my first northern dungeon. The Defense sword is quite a worthy prize, as is the first Ribbon for a non-variant party.

Ah, the Sea Shrine. It's the most pleasant dungeon in the game. Nothing is really dangerous with any instant-kill or paralyzation types of effects. Nearly everything in it is weak against the Zeus Gauntlet, and the few undead that aren't are weak to the Mage Staff and Light Axe that are conveniently found right here.

Well, the Berserkers could still find danger here.

On about my third fight, three LOBSTERs ganged up on my fighter and killed him! I beat a hasty retreat to the town and the Clinic.

Anyway, I cleared up to the top floor of the Shrine without further incident, using the Zeus Gauntlet all the way.

I ran the next batch of errands, to Melmac and Lefein for the CHIME. Next, as usual, before returning to the Sea Shrine, I wanted to retrieve some treasures from the Mirage Tower. The Thor Hammer demolishes the Sea Shrine, and the Sun Sword is a damage upgrade over Defense. (Defense has 5 more hit%, but that doesn't make any noticeable difference if it doesn't reach a multiple of 32 for an extra hit. That's only true if the fighter is currently level 8, 18, 19, 29, or 30. Without excessive grinding, the fighter will always be in his mid-twenties at this point, and will get Xcalber anyway before 29.)

However, I ran into trouble... just REACHING the Mirage Tower. Two dead to R.ANKYLOs. Ouch! Back to a Clinic and Inn again.

This is becoming a common scenario for the Berserkers, losing one or two party members to a sequence of lucky and critical hits. But other than RUB type effects (ProRing grants immunity), this happens to fully-equipped parties too. The difference is not so much the variant rule as it is the composition of the party, with no White magic. With a White or Red mage, all that costs is a LIFE spell and a dozen healing potions, and we keep on trucking. Without them, it's retreat time.

In the Mirage Tower for real this time, I got to the second floor. I lost a BB on the way to a pack of VAMPIREs, but this time forged on anyway. I reached the chests, collected the loot, and WARPed out.

Back in Sea Shrine, I got a ways in, then lost a BB again to a gang of LOBSTERs. Undeterred, I kept pushing, intending to WARP out if I lost another warrior. I got as far as clearing out all the chests on the penultimate floor -- and the limiting factor turned out to be unexpected -- I ran out of HEAL potions. Each fight consumed five to ten potions! Along the way, the surviving BB hit level 21, enough for his key 6Hit attack, increasing his offense by 50%. He was now stronger on attack than my fighter.

Well, I WARPed out, resurrected Bash, and entered the Shrine for the fifth time. And I made it to KRAKEN without notable incident, leveling the second BB also to 21 along the way. The strategy for this fight is as old as the NES itself: FAST and Smash.

Round one didn't go so well.

Kraken took out my lead BB in a single hit. I'd anticipated the possibility, though, and aimed the first FAST at my second BB.

Round two didn't go so well either.

Kraken took out my fighter in a single hit. Bash did land a critical for a couple hundred damage, though.

Round three didn't go so well either.

Kraken took out a third warrior in a single hit. Since when is the Kraken AI smart enough to do that? Isn't it supposed to blow actions on useless INKs and moderately damaging LIT3s?

Well, with nobody left to FAST, Kill had aimed a LIT3 of his own squarely at the Fiend...

Victory! Well, we hope! Kill still needs to tread four more steps to the exit without getting killed... but he made it.

That battle was the living embodiment of the Berserker variant. No defense anywhere. Gigantic blows of offense trading in both directions! Bodies dropping like bowling pins on both sides of the battlefield.

One more Fiend to go, in the Floating Castle. My biggest problem in this lair was the warriors' lack of elemental resistances. A pack of MANCATs casting FIR2 could cost me up to 30 heal potions in a single fight! Hit the Knight did have AFIR, and used it immediately against any fire-casting enemy, but whether he'd act in time to matter was a crapshoot.

I made it up to the third floor of the castle, looting all the chests along the way. The Blue Dragon wasn't a problem, dead in one round. But then a bout with four R.HYDRAs and a surprise round cost me all of my last 30 HEALs. After one more fight where Kill blew his one NUKE charge, time to WARP out and regroup again.

I got to floor five with no close calls. I did encounter SORCERORs twice on the upper floors, but killed them with physical attacks each time.

TIAMAT died on round two, after getting off a scary THUNDER for 4 x 200 damage and one physical attack on Hit.

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