Final Fantasy V - Solo Gladiator

Lucius had a nice answer to Antlion: hit him with the Ancient and Sleep swords, wait as he aged to nothingness while asleep, then pound him with a big speed advantage.

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There's the mighty Brave Blade. Lucius proceeded to pound everything in the Pyramid too. He could wear all the heaviest armor in the game, getting his defense up to an astronomical 80 where nothing at all could deal physical damage. Brave Bladeblitz made for tons of offense too.

Merugene dropped quickly with Lucius wearing a Flame Ring. For Stalker, Bladeblitz would hit all the images without provoking counterattacks!

This Gladiator then picked up his Running Shoes in Mirage to become an unstoppable offensive force. With Haste and his already naturally high speed, he could always Bladeblitz twice and sometimes three times in random fights before the monsters acted at all.

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Lucius wrecked Minotaur in about ten seconds. (The girls ran away from encounters on the magic side since that run wouldn't be saved.) But now I had four overlapping problems: how to get Lucius up the magic side without running away, how to get the girls up the physical side without running away, how the girls could beat Minotaur, and how Lucius could beat Omniscient.

Problem one: take advantage of a certain behavior in the GBA version; after you reset and load, the first random encounter comes only after quite a large number of steps, actually enough to get all the way up the magic tower if you skip the chests.

Problems two and three: equip the girls as best as could be done with the Brave Blade, Excalibur, Defender swords, and shields and Elf Capes and Ribbons. Buy a big stack of Phoenix Downs and also pick up the legendary Sage Staff which casts Raise in battle. Minotaur could never kill more than one warrior at a time, so with enough raising, the girls got it done at levels 9 to 11 each.

Problem four: Wear a Wall Ring of course. Lucius tried attacking himself with the Ancient Sword to bounce the Old spell off his own Wall Ring -- this worked but also triggered Omniscient to cast Reset! I could have sworn I remembered one of Sullla's solos doing that, was that changed/fixed on the GBA?

Lucius finally landed the Aging debuff when Omniscient bounced a Stop into himself. I left the emulator running on fast-forward to run Omniscient out of magic (Lucius totally immune to his spells between the Wall Ring and Bone Mail), then remembered the right way to do it. Bounce the Mage Masher dagger's Mute off your own wall to hit him, then you get one round clear to hit him with a weapon.

Now unlike most solos, Lucius actually had a reason to finish off the Istory and Great Trench dungeons. I promised at the beginning of this variant that the Gladiator would unleash his full power with the Finisher move once the job was unlocked in normal sequence. Normal sequence is after you redeem the fourth tablet for the last group of sealed weapons.

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I was worried about Tonberrys in Istory (no running, remember), but it turned out that Lucius with the Running Shoes could deliver offense fast enough. He only encountered one, and got at least 14 attacks hitting on 12 for 3500 damage each and the kill. As for Leviathan, I'd neglected to ever buy a Coral Ring, but Lucius got the job done easily anyway with Haste and by using Icebrand + Ice Shield for self healing frequently.

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Great Sea Trench would be a problem though. What could Lucius do against the Unknown blob enemies? They respond to physical hits with an attack called Possess, which removes the target from the battlefield entirely so the party loses. A dead blob doesn't respond, so I had hoped Lucius could rack up enough damage with a Holy element weapon for a one-hit kill, but that did not work because they have Armor status and Lucius had no way to dispel it.

Arthur the Knight simply skipped this area but I was determined to get Lucius through. Possess doesn't always work, it has a chance to miss on its own and the Aegis Shield can block it, so simply retrying would have to work eventually. Another idea was to make Lucius play mini mage, equipping magic increasing gear to use the Magic Lamp to bring the Unknowns within physical kill range, though he'd only get a few shots all the way through the dungeon. Well, check the algorithms guide, what _can_ we do to these guys? Lucius could hit them by bouncing spells off his Wall Ring, but they were immune to Aging and Sleep and Death (Doom Axe) and Poison (Venom Axe). What could Lucius do?

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The piggy bosses were easily killed with Bladeblitz to earn the fourth tablet. At long last Lucius could properly unlock his job's birthright Finisher ability.

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Lucius entered the Rift at level 53 and would reach 56 by the end, very much on the low side for a solo character. Finisher made short work of the bosses with its automatic 9999 damage. I suppose I could have challenged the bosses without Finisher, but I wanted to enjoy the special role of the Gladiator rather than just rehashing Knight. We know how to beat these bosses easily by now.

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It also came in handy in some random encounters to work around high physical evade or defense. (The critical result of Finisher is subject to those, but the 9999 elemental attack always hits.)

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Apocalypse did beat Lucius twice, once with Condemn and once with ???? for his own 9999 damage. On the third try I gave up the Wall Ring for good old Running Shoes and Lucius rolled a string of successful Finishers to win.

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Ha, the 9999 even works if you're a Toad! Twin Tania simply went down to Excalibur holy elemental hits, no need to play around with Finisher there. Lucius could have stolen Genji gear from Gilgamesh with the Thief Knife but I forgot.

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I had the Necrofobia fight planned out perfectly. Lucius took off the Bone Mail to be able to use Elixirs. He used Finisher to blow up one barrier right away and had enough HP to survive the remaining three Holy/Flare spells. After an Elixir, Finish off another barrier and so on. For the second phase, the only danger is Necro's Hurricane+physical combination... and Lucius could defend against BOTH parts of that. He's got the Aegis Shield and Mirage Vest, and because Finisher deals 9999 regardless of the weapon, he could wield the Defender sword for its weapon-block property. This worked perfectly on the first try.

And in a single trip into the Rift for well under an hour, Lucius arrived at the final boss. He could easily beat Tree Exdeath being Aegis Shield invulnerable to White Hole, although lost once to the Meteors. Magic Lamp Odin destroyed the back part of Neo Exdeath as usual.

Lucius didn't get to lay claim to the same feat as his ancestor Arthur in beating Neo Exdeath on the first try. Finisher whiffed several times, Grand Cross went off twice, but what killed Lucius was Almagest hitting for 3200 thanks to the weakness against Holy element imposed by the Bone Mail.

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So he had to go without the Bone Mail and take his chances against Grand Cross. The next try rolled better on Finishers with Lucius withstanding just one Grand Cross with no effect, then he killed the part. Of course you should never lose against the physical and Almagest parts... except when their turns line up to the millisecond and they hit with physical and Almagest to kill you with your finger on the Elixir key waiting for the heal. mad.gif - 1kb

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One more try got busted by Condemn from Tree Exdeath. The fifth try was the charm, with one Grand Cross doing nothing and a second inflicting Mini (hey that's a big shield there!) Then Finisher blew away the Grand Cross part. Like with White, I didn't bother setting up the Magic Lamp Syldra finish, instead simply relying on Lucius's speed to make the last two killing blows quickly. (Ironically, no Finisher did not finish the game, haha.)

This solo was certainly on the easy side, especially with Sullla's wealth of information to draw from. Lucius finished in 20 hours on the in-game clock as opposed to over 80 for White. But I enjoyed it quite a bit. The Gladiator was the perfect dilettante polymath, pulling in elements of Knight and Bare and Hunter and a bit of Dragoon, getting a taste of them all without entirely rehashing known territory. He had a few unique solutions (Hayate/Gale Bow against world 2 Exdeath) and his own rampage ability in Finisher late. It was a fine choice for me instead of Sullla to cover, with little new ground for him but the first melee solo for me.

Next up: not sure yet, check the Realms Beyond thread for discussion.