Final Fantasy V: Three Berserkers and a Nanny

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Berserker usually doesn't come until the second crystal, but I wanted to get started right away with the silly variant. So I searched online and found a code to unlock all the jobs (enter it in VisualBoyAdvance as a CodeBreaker code B65D7114 42EE4690). So my lead character has a job before he even has a name. smile.gif - 1kb (Faris will play it straight on jobs, not using any before they're unlocked normally.)

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Anyway, does this even work for the "tutorial" Goblin fights? Yeah. Bartz the Berserker has no weapon as he can't equip his Broad Sword, but can still punch for 8 x 2 damage.

So the pirate cave involved zero strategy. I had the option of either holding down the emulator speedup button or not. smile.gif - 1kb The characters only come with one starting weapon that a Berserker can equip (Lenna's knife), but even fists can make it through this cave as the Nudists demonstrated.

To Tule, which doesn't sell any weapons for berserkers either. Faris can equip a Broad Sword as usual though, and as per our variant rule, helped out with it in random battles in the Wind Shrine. She also absentmindedly used it against Wing Raptor but that made no difference in the outcome.

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Faris's first job was a White Mage until learning White level 1, then she became a Blue Mage. It's very hard to collect Blue Magic when the berserkers keep killing all the enemies! But a few fights later I realized that many of the Blue spells are off limits by variant rule. No need for the Aero series, 1000 Needles/Blowfish, or Goblin Punch. Mighty Guard and White Wind are well worthwhile but come much later.

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In Torna Canal, I still had only one decent weapon for the berserkers, the Dagger found in the Wind Shrine. But Lenna dished out 80-100 damage with it. That took down Karlabos easy, with Faris dishing out healing.

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Yeah Siren, you silence my Berserker, that'll show him.

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Uh oh, can't do much damage against the undead form, though Lenna could still hit for 50 with the dagger. Faris kept casting Cures to keep up with the damage Siren dealt, and eventually she changed back and we killed her.

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Finally, at Carwen, the berserkers at came into possession of a full set of weapons. Just a piddly dagger of 14 attack, but that's way better than fists or Lenna's starting knife of 7 attack. And how much can these daggers deal to Magisa?

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125 will suffice. The berserkers inefficiently attacked Magisa and Forza at random rather than concentrating on one until dead, but Faris the White Mage was able to keep pace on healing until they went down.

Let's talk about Berserker damage mechanics for a moment. Berserkers get an Attack modifier of 3/2. That generates a damage increase of more than 50%. Most modifiers in this game affect your damage multiplier (commonly called M), which means the boost comes after enemy physical defense has been subtracted out. Not so the Berserker attack bonus, which multiplies Attack _before_ subtracting enemy defense. The end result is an increase of 50% of the damage you'd be doing against 0 defense. And this early in the game, Berserkers are actually pretty good. That 3/2 is the biggest weapon modifier available for a baby character, before the advent of the likes of Double Grip and Dual-Wield and Jump and the bigger Spellblades.

Walse then sold Battle Axes at 23 attack, much better than daggers. Although also I now remember that the GBA version fixes the bug for knife damage. Knives get a damage multiplier from Agility as well as Strength, except that a bug in the SNES version caused that not to work except for the Chicken Knife. That means that knives deal significantly more damage in this version. I don't intend to avoid knife weapons just because of that, though. Although Sofis might be playing along with the same variant, it's not a competition.

Garula was the first fight I was slightly worried about. Can we outrace his damage and counterattacks?

Yes. Protect spells from Faris helped, as did the shields. Hey, yeah, Berserkers can equip shields - that should be pretty helpful throughout the game. Shields go underused in FF5, since fairly few jobs can equip them, and most of the time you'd rather have the offensive power of dual wielding or double gripping. But for the berserkers here, as out of character as shields might seem, they work well.

Karnak held another weapon upgrade, to Mythril Hammers, at 28 attack and also 80% hit as compared to the Battle Axes' 70. In the Steamship dungeon, Faris became a Blue Mage to learn Flash, then stayed as such because she could equip the Frost Rod and chip in some damage.

I lost a bunch of screenshots here again. This is the one pain of the VisualBoyAdvance emulator - it restarts the screenshot numbering every time you start the program, and will happily overwrite previous shots with no warning at all. Wall of text follows.

LiquidFlame presented some serious trouble. Faris went in as a Time Mage with !White level 3 for all the available buffs. The problem was that a Fire 2 directed at Faris could drop her in one hit. Everything else was answerable; the Blaze and physical attacks could be outrun by healing. But how could Faris defend against Fira? There's no item available this soon to get fire resistance or absorption, no Barrier/Shell spell, and not much equipment available for magic defense. No Chemist job yet for a Resist Fire mix or Giant Drink for HP. LiquidFlame is immune to Stop status and aging and darkness and anything else I can inflict.

The answer turned out to be to simply give Faris a job with more HP. As a Knight with !White level 3, she could survive the big hit. And I played smarter, having Faris wait on most turns until right after the boss acted in order to heal away any damage. That's actually another advantage of the Berserker job. They can act while another character is waiting for a turn command! Any other class will wait idle until you issue a command to the active character, but Berserkers can jump the queue.

Made it out of Karnak with 7 seconds to spare! But then realized I missed the Elf Cape and Guardian Dagger ("Main Gauche" in this version, whatever that is.) I reloaded to get them, skipping two of the Elixirs, and this time exited with 30 seconds on the clock. The new dagger boosted Galuf up over 400 damage per attack, and much more reliably without the missing and big damage spread of the hammers.

Ifrit needed nothing besides Haste buffs and healing from Faris. We also easily beat a Dhorme Chimera on the way there, though there was no need to try to learn AquaRake which is off the variant table.

Byblos took Haste, Protect, and Slow buffs, and a little more thought. Once he went into his Drain phase, I realized that I had to kill off two of the berserkers and do it with just Galuf, the Guardian Dagger wielder, especially after the top two characters got hit by Dischord/Sonic Wave and saw their damage drop to around 60. Galuf could do about 200 per hit with his dagger. Byblos would Drain for "240" which would outrace Galuf, but he only has 2/3 chance to respond with that, plus a small chance for Drain to miss its target. It took some time and several Ethers for Faris, but eventually Byblos took three straight hits without Draining (1/27 chance, but the battle had gone over 27 attacks by now). Narrow victory, but we won on the first try.

If that hadn't worked, my next plan would have been to try to get the Blue magic Guard-Off from a Page 256 enemy in order to cut down Byblos's defense. That would have been difficult at best, with three berserkers smacking it around while Faris would be trying to control it.

Sandworm is another fight that had worried me. Sandworm is not immune to Slow, which will help some. (I managed to Slow one of the Holes. I don't know what that does.) Whenever you hit a Hole, it responds with a Gravity (Demi) spell, which deals damage equal to half the target's current HP. Sandworm has an attack called Quicksand that seems to deal exactly 60 damage every time, and his physical attacks about as much after applying Armor status. So the Sandworm really wasn't much of a threat. Faris could outrace the attacks with cure spells, though quaffed two Elixirs to restore magic.

Slowly I figured out that as long as each character stayed above about 200 HP, it would take a sequence of Gravity-Gravity-Quicksand all in a row to kill anybody. And once Faris finished applying Regen status on everybody, the damage came slow enough that she could often use the Healing Staff to conserve MP instead of casting Cure 2. The fight just went on and on - over 30 minutes by the in-game clock, about 20 minutes of real time with some fast-forwarding. But the Sandworm could not threaten anything lethal on my party, and eventually he went down.

Jacole held another weapon upgrade, an interesting choice between the Mage Masher dagger (attack 31, hit% 100) or Ogre Axe (attack 33, hit% 80, damage formula 0.5x to 1.5x base damage, enemy defense divided by 4). I went with Mage Mashers, because they're cheaper and more reliable.

I also cleared the little dungeon Jachol Cave, which I've started to think of as "Beastmaster Cave". For the ensuing Ronka Ruins, you want to learn !Control to pick up Blue magic spells, which requires 60 Beastmaster ABP. Jachol Cave is a good place to prepare for that, where the fights give 2 or 5 ABP for very little effort. The cave also holds a pretty good Beastmaster weapon in the Thunder Whip. BTW, Sullla, you mentioned that the Ironcores were scared of this cave? Skull Eaters can only kill one character at a time - you can easily run away or watch it run away long before it'll kill all four.

CrayClaw and Adamantimi both got splattered by hasted Berserkers. Anything without a counterattack to physical attacks poses very little threat to this party. That also went for the Launchers and Flamethrowers at the ruins entrance. Especially the Launchers -- which deal only percentage-based damage and you can only die from confused self-hits -- Berserkers can't get confused!

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Sol Cannon met the same fate. As long as White Magic is available to cure the Aging status, there's no problem here. The Berserkers chopped him down pretty quickly at 400 per attack, while Wave Cannon (Surge Beam) hit only twice the whole battle.

The encounters in Ronka Ruins actually weren't too hard. Unlike the Nudists, the Berserkers were well-armored, including two Elf Capes and some shields. Faris did get !Control and started trying to learn White Wind from a Whirl Demon (Enchanted Fan). Of course, the problem was the Berserkers attacking all the time, killing the Whirl Demons before Faris could control them to do anything. So I unequipped their weapons.

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That worked, there's White Wind. Except... then I couldn't win the battle! Berserkers can't change weapons mid-battle. Faris got killed and I had to run.

I next had the idea to Haste Faris and Slow the berserkers. That meant Faris needed to be a Bare job, for access to all of Time magic, !Control, and Learning for blue magic. That worked to get a Whirl Demon to cast White Wind on me again, and win the battle... but she didn't learn the spell. I guess you have to master Blue Mage for Learning to transfer to Bare.

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So I had to do it without Time magic. I swapped the berserkers over to some inaccurate axe weapons, hoping that they could miss attacking the Whirl Demon long enough for Faris to do her thing, then eventually kill the monsters. It took about six tries in random fights, but eventually got it.

At least Archaeoavis went down easily. The berserkers wielding Mage Mashers could deal 140 damage to even his first form, and it just went downhill from there as his later forms had lower physical defense. Manticore/Chim.Brain and Titan were also no problem, with the heavy Berserkers boasting enough HP to survive Earth Shaker.

And now for the Puroboros. I've been dreading this fight since exactly 6:27 PM on 8/31/10.

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How on earth can berserkers, flailing around at random, beat these guys? Whenever one is killed, it revives all its dead friends. They can also use Self-Destruct, which kills itself but deals its current HP in damage (up to 1500) to one target.

Well... it turned out the answer was already here. They can be Muted, via those Mage Masher daggers, which blocks the resurrecting!

I also got lucky that only one of the six Purobori exploded on the first time around (1/3 chance for each, actually comes to a 1 in 60 chance for just one out of six), and it was one that had taken a few hits so it didn't kill anybody. Faris quickly wised up and started simply casting the Silence spell at any Puro that hadn't been Mage Mashed recently. One of them did manage to revive three of its friends. Twice a Puro blew up for over 1000 damage and killed a berserker, but fortunately did not target Faris. Now we were down to just two Puroborem, both silenced, then one...

and victory!

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I also beat a Garkimasra (Jackanapes) just because I could. The Berserker attack multiplier with an axe's wildly variable attack gives enough damage to overcome its defense (and also learn Moon Flute.)

Another blue magic side-quest was to get the Guard-Off spell. This can be learned from a Page 256 enemy in the Library, and you must control it. Like with White Wind, the problem is that the berserkers will kill it while the nanny is trying to control it. I got White Wind by just trying enough times until the berserkers attacked other monsters instead of my target. That won't work for Guard-Off, because all the Page monsters appear just one at a time so there's no other targets.

The solution: go get the berserkers hit by Darkness status, so they would reliably miss. It's debatable whether Darkness constituted violating the rule of "berserkers must enter each fight in good health". But it was doable without, just would have taken hours and added some levels. Also later I realized Faris could have become a Bare and equipped the Darkness Bow to inflict it on the berserkers within the same battle.

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