Uh oh. Notice a problem here?
Because of the Brave Blade, I need to have Galuf win his solo encounters without running. Sullla's usual solution is to make him a Samurai and use the massively powerful GilToss ability, but I didn't keep money to use it! And of course I never got any offensive black magic. Besides GilToss, the other answer is to turn Galuf into a Summoner to use Titan (which you always get)... except 5 MP at level one is not enough to cast it!
Well, there was enough gold there to use GilToss once... which fortunately was a battle against 4 Tarantulas, which paid off enough to use it in one more encounter, which paid off just enough to afford GilToss against Gilgamesh himself and redeem the party.
For Gilgamesh on the bridge, Lucius made like Batman probably did (I was intentionally avoiding reading Batman's report again during this challenge) and pulled out a variety of debuff tools. First the Darkness Bow to blind him. Then the Ancient Sword to age him. That nerfed many of his attacks but unfortunately not the Jump, see above that it would still deal over 300 damage. Lucius tried to use the Mage Masher dagger to mute Gilgamesh at the Haste/Armor changeover point, but the Mute never went off and Gilgamesh cast them. The rest of the battle was a race of Flame Bow + Flame Ring healing versus the Jump attacks, with Lucius needing two Elixirs when he missed himself several straight with the Flame Bow.
Ah, Regole, when you can finally buy Hi-Potions...
or you could if you had the money! Gladiating really doesn't pay the bills. Lucius was a VERY expensive character to equip, since at every store he would snap up every weapon he could use, even here adding a Sleep Sword and Wind Spear to his collection. And he was strong enough that he never had to grind levels, so no extra income that way.
Lucius couldn't afford any Holy Water (Revivify) either, which led to this comical situation. All three dead heroes got zombied in a random fight and Lucius couldn't undo it... and apparently zombies still gain experience. Okay I don't really care about the purity of the solo variant, and the three characters will need a bit of leveling anyway to win their side of Fork Tower later, but now they annoyingly had too much health to self-kill themselves in one hit.
Yeah, elemental bows and Bladeblitz are a pretty wicked combination. Actually, that's more a product of the unusual role of bows in this game. The long-range aspect doesn't matter so much. What the bows really do is serve as the earliest weapon-based source of elemental damage, so the real role of the Hunter and Gladiator is to play mini black mage with the weapons. Both characters beat many of the world one bosses this way - Byblos, CrayClaw, Sol Cannon and friends.
Lucius tried to beat Tyrannosaurus with the Flame Bow, but got pancaked by his ???? attack for 3000 damage, so won it the easy way with a Phoenix Down.
No problems with Abductor this time, courtesy of Doom Axe. And no problems with the Hiryuu Plant, since Bladeblitz would wipe out all the flowers with perfect reliability and damage the boss flower too.
At least Drakenvale finally got Lucius set on money, earning 30k from fights and chests and another 30k from selling Dragon Fangs. (The 11k in that shot is after he already rebought Hi-Potions.)
Gilgamesh on the ship - even his Death Claw wasn't fatal, he could not damage Lucius through the Bone Mail! Lucius hit him with Blind and Aging statuses as before. He hit Enkidu twice, then healed himself until Enkidu suicided with a Vampire draining spell which backfired against the Bone Mail. Won on the first try - actually this might even have been a guaranteed shutout, I don't think there was any combination of random boss behavior that would have killed Lucius. He even rubbed it in by pulling out the Dancing Dagger just for amusement.
Got the Wall Ring without trouble, right on the expected value of about 16 battles.
For Atmos, we'd kill off the other characters one at a time as is usual for a solo run. And Lucius had a plan. He would attack with the Sleep Blade until it knocked Atmos asleep, then heal up if necessary and make one hit with his strongest weapon the Epee/Great Sword. Attacking with the slightly weaker Sleep Blade was worthwhile, since it was a 50/50 shot of getting an additional completely free hit. This came close to working, but Atmos still had about 3000 HP left when the third character was on the verge of disappearing. I figured I'd have to do it over again with the Wall Ring equipped to bounce his Slow spell which had hit Lucius.
But Lucius gambled on a big dice roll with the Dancing Dagger, and nailed it! It pulled out the Sword Dance at 12.5% odds and killed the big bad boss! Roman gladiators were known for their games of chance and dice, so hooray for Lucius!
Lucius picked up another new toy in Moore, the Elven Bow. Its 15% crit chance isn't so exciting, but against four or five enemies at once with Bladeblitz, it occurred quite frequently. The forest Crystals were easy as always for anyone wearing a Flame Ring to collect free healing from the fire crystal. Lucius went in with the Long Reach and back row setup rather than Bladeblitz since he'd be working on only one crystal at a time.
And Lucius got through Exdeath's Castle pretty easily too, though did die to a couple random encounters a couple times. The Flame Ring and Aegis Shield neutered most of the dangerous attacks here, and lots of enemies had elemental weaknesses to hit with the fire or ice swords.
Ha! From three Magic Dragons, Lucius duplicated Sullla's Mystic Knight's 1 in 4096 shot at a triple Elixir drop!
Available in Exdeath's Castle is the cool Twin Lance weapon that strikes twice with every attack. But unlike other lances, I was disappointed that the Twin Lance can't be equipped by the Gladiator. Thiefs and Ninjas only. (Why in the world does the Mime get to? But that piece of knowledge might make the Mime solo significantly easier.)
Gilgamesh actually killed Lucius a couple times, once with Hurricane + physical, and once by hitting with Sonic Wave moves several times early in the fight, dropping Lucius's damage so Flametongue + Flame Ring healing was ineffective.
Lucius had to set up in the back row behind the Aegis Shield, and retry the fight a few more times until Gilgamesh went long enough without using Sonic Wave, but that eventually worked. Still took three Elixirs to recover from Hurricane moves. This was the sort of fight where the Gladiator couldn't dominate. His bag of elemental and status tricks is extensive, but when they don't work, he's an underpowered would-be Knight.
And the same goes for Exdeath. This was the one time Lucius couldn't copy from his forebears. He couldn't wield and break Batman's Light Staffs to cast Holy. He didn't have Arthur's Double Grip for 2000 damage per attack to win within one AI cycle before another Condemn. He didn't have Arjuna's X-Fight for 3000 per turn. He could wield Kain's spears but not Jump to dodge Condemn.
Lucius had to go in with the Bone Mail, because against lesser armor Exdeath's physical attack would do over 1400 damage. He also needed the Reflect Ring for the second half of the battle (it's cake with Reflect, but another mountain without as the FF1style party discovered.) Bone Mail and no Flame Ring means no ability to heal, right? Nope, Lucius had another combo for that: Icebrand + Ice Shield! Shields can be swapped around during battle, same as weapons.
But healing doesn't beat Condemn. Lucius now employed a new weapon in the Hayate Bow (Gale Bow). This bow bears a special ability of a 25% chance to use the Rapid Fire (X-Fight) command when attacking. This goes totally unused in the SNES game since the only bow user just gets Rapid Fire naturally. But it's a neat trick for the Gladiator. This was the biggest damage that Lucius could deliver quickly.
So it was a matter of playing two simultaneous games of chance, Lucius trying to pull Rapid Fires out of his bow while dodging Condemns from Exdeath's AI routine. It took about twenty tries for this to work, but work it did. Lucius got four Rapid Fires for 700 x 4 damage each while dodging Condemn (I'm not sure if Exdeath got to his third chance at it), and there's his post-changeover elemental spell and victory shortly followed.
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