Final Fantasy: The Brawlers

Up through Ice Cave, this variant played out like any other Fighter - Black Belt party. Simple physical offense carried the day through everything, from romping on the Pravoka peninsula to the EYE. The dungeons weren't long or threatening enough to come anywhere near running out of healing potions, and even FAST wasn't missed against the first two Fiends.

But now, in the Waterfall and Sea Shrine, this game's variant really starts. Most parties blast through the watery dungeons largely on the back of the Zeus Gauntlet's unlimited lightning. And most parties replenish the tank constantly with the Heal Staff. Then once the Thor Hammer and Heal Helmets join the fun, pretty much every random encounter until the end of the game consists of nothing but item spam.

But this variant pushes all that aside. Every foe must be felled with a direct personal blow. Nine R.SAHAGs mean we sit and take blows from at least five of them and spend precious potions to recover.

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Well, shortly into the Sea Shrine, Kick made level 21, and you know what that means.

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Despite now falling behind in offense, the Fighters still stayed in the lead spots, since they still had better absorb and more HP.

As we know, there's no real danger in Sea Shrine. The most damaging encounters are GHOSTs, and I actually skipped several of those, not interested in the items they were guarding. Usually I clear the upper wing, then make a partial raid on the Mirage Tower for items, but there was nothing for this party to gain there. They went directly from the upper wing to the lower, going through about 25 heal potions in the first and 50 in the second by the time we reached KRAKEN.

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KRAKEN died on round three. I'd expected the Fiend battles to be tougher without FAST, but that really didn't materialize. FAST actually takes until either round three or round four to pay off over simply directly attacking, depending on the action order in round one. Eight standard Warrior attacks in the first two rounds is just as good as four FASTed attacks.

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The Floating Castle packed only this one scary encounter, which I decided to take head on, and won without a loss. I reached TIAMAT having again gone through only 50 heal potions, so no problem there.

However, on that narrow bridge on the fifth floor, now my Brawlers encountered an unexpected brick wall of a roadblock. Out of the shadows came a new nemesis with a surprise round, billowing toxic clouds of radioactive sludge. Seeing this enemy so soon certainly belied the notion of a 1/64 encounter chance. Far more fearsome than TIAMAT and perhaps even CHAOS himself, this new enemy was nearly invincible to everything the Light Warriors could muster.

Who is this incredible monster?

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Like KRAKEN, TIAMAT also went down on round three, clobbered by the Light Warriors. Kick there had taken some damage to the face, but was still in good shape.

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I like to share the layout of the party's armor items, especially in this case where I've simply ditched all the spellcasting items. Since the BBs can't equip anything in their shield slots, they're holding on to the Flame Armor and Ice Shield in case the non-Ribboned Fighter needs to swap in those resistances. (OK, this time I didn't sell the Dragon Armor, but it's still on the wrong, Ribbonless, fighter.)

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So into the Temple of Fiends. Note that my early leveling on the Power Peninsula has faded into marginality, with even that extra 25K experience per warrior adding up to less than a level each now.

What's going to be the constraint here? Is it healing, limited to 99 potions plus a handful of Knight white magic spells? Will it be live bodies after a run-in with Sorcerors or Kraken? Will it be the damage race against CHAOS himself?

The early going to LICH turned out fairly brutal. No kills among the Light Warriors, but a variety of encounters with Frost Ds, Gas Ds, WORMs, and EARTHs already cost me 40 heal potions. I know I can beat LICH fine - he can't kill any warrior in a single round - but will he manage to NUKE half my remaining healing supply? Start round one...

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HOLY CRAP, pasted in a single swing! Folks, does anyone still need any evidence that the physical classes in this game are way overpowered compared to the mages? (Doing the math, that's definitely two crits out of the four hits. Foil had 44 Strength and Xcalber for 22 + 45 = 67 base damage. Each hit deals 67..134 damage minus 40 absorb = 27..94. Average 65 per hit, 65 x 4 = 260. Add two crits at 134 damage each and the total exceeds Lich's 500.

In weaker variants, Kary's minions on the Fire Floor are prized for their weakness and opportunity to refill with healing items, especially in the wake of a Lich NUKE. Well, this party hasn't got that option, so Kary's minions are just prized for their weakness. The floor inflicted only a few potions worth of damage.

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KARY died on the first round - four regular attacks is as good as two FASTed attacks. She got off one FIR3 for a grand total of four more potions used. (Foil bore the Ice Shield for this fight.)

GrSHARKs and WATERs inflicted some more scrapes on the Water floor, especially on the Black Belts. It sure seemed that they were taking more damage than they should... and then I suddenly realized with horror that they'd just leveled and triggered the infamous Black Belt armor bug. 25 absorb instead of over 40 with the Opal Bracelet is not pretty.

Anyway, here's KRAKEN, with 38 heal potions remaining.

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KRAKEN cost me ten more with that shot, but my Xcalber wielder came through on round two with beaucoup damage.

Now on the Air level, I think my potions will last long enough, and I think I do need the Masmune for the CHAOS fight. Masmune as compared to the Sun Sword is worth 24..48 damage x 4 hits, plus a fifth hit at 78..156 damage, equals an extra 261 damage per round, plus a few extra percentage points of crit chance.

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The RNG was kind, throwing me several surprise action rounds. I cleanly beat 3 SORCERERs, and ran from six. It only took about 7 more potions to retrieve the sword and reach TIAMAT.

Round one, TIAMAT pitched a THUNDER for a measly 4 x 50 damage, while my warriors dished out 500 between the. Round two saw a Bane for 4 x Ineffective. (Foil had swapped in the Opal Armor and Aegis Shield for lightning and poison resistance.) Still on round two, Epee cashed in the win. (I sure see why Square bumped up the fiends' HP for the remakes.)

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