Final Fantasy V: Three Berserkers and a Nanny

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I was mildly worried about Antlion, as the single fight where I wouldn't have Faris the chaperone. Also I'd negligently left the Dancing Dagger on absent Lenna, removing Sullla's sometime tactic of repeating a fight until that weapon rolled enough Sword Dances. But Antlion went down easily anyway. He hit Bartz twice with Sonic Wave, but not Krile, who kept ripping off 1000 damage per attack. If there's one thing Berserkers do well, it's overcoming enemy defense with the berserk multiplier to attack.

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So we picked up the Chicken Knife, the lifeblood of so many weapon-constrained variants, and here was no exception. I spent a few minutes running from fights to power it up all the way, and holy blammo that is 3300 damage up from about 1000 with older weapons. Didn't need any tricks beyond Haste/Slow to beat the Gargoyles without one reviving the other.

I found it pretty much unusable in random battles, though. Berserk status does not override the Flee effect, so several times I wasted some magic on Hastes and such before having the knife run me away. It chopped up the Machine Heads in the Pyramid right quick, though.

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Yikes! But.. look at that Aegis Shield keeping Bartz safe from the stoning!

Melusine was nothing, as usual. (Did any of Sullla's solos at all have any trouble with her?) She's vulnerable to Stop status, so Faris just kept pitching that while Bartz whacked with the Chicken Knife.

And finally it's time to pick some Legendary Weapons. The Nudists never bothered grabbing any besides the first three, and just threw them at Neo Exdeath. I added the Assassin Dagger and Rune Axe to the berserkers. Nothing else helps: the berserkers can't equip anything else, and the Wonder Rod can't be used by Faris by the restriction on not damaging enemies.

Yeah, that's a mild difficulty with the variant. The endgame selection of weapons for berserkers is surprisingly anemic. There's only one legendary axe, that with a disappointing attack value of 71, and no legendary hammer. The best hammer is the Thor Hammer at 81 attack, and at least it's Back Row OK, but it comes late in the Cleft and 81 isn't high compared to the multiple swords and katanas and bows with over 100 attack. Most of my boss-killing offense would revolve around the Chicken Knife, which is a bit anticlimactic; it seems that just about every variant uses that thing!

I also equipped the Thief Knife just for entertainment value, getting some amusing steals along the way. I actually got about five steals of Reflect Rings in the Island Shrine, useful to sell for a bunch of gold.

More errand running... Mirage Village (this time doing the chocobo run for a Mirage Vest), bard songs, Mighty Guard (I wasn't feeling creative on how to control the monster without the berserkers disrupting it, so just had Faris kill off the zerks),

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Odin who was easy (Faris used !Mix to feed Samson Powers to Krile with the mighty Chicken Knife),

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Bahamut who also was (forgot to equip Blue Magic for Mighty Guard, but regular White magic walls worked fine against Mega Flare),

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and Phoenix Tower who almost wiped me out here! Stoning Faris is very bad news for this party. I then figured out to give her the Aegis Shield, turning her into a Blue Mage to allow it.

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Stoker/Stalker/Wendigo in the Island Shrine took a few minutes, but was no problem. The false images only respond to hit-all magic attacks. If a physical attack hits the wrong one, nothing happens. Amusingly, the Assassin Dagger could "kill" the false images although they would just reappear. Faris applied all the usual buffs in Haste, Slow, Shell, Regen, and then it was just a matter of waiting until the berserkers worked through his HP.

I'd managed to Ironcore the third world so far, but got wiped in Fork Tower when Faris, running solo in the magic tower and equipped with a Wall Ring, got pasted by a pair of Comets from a random fight. Next try, she got smarter and just ran and Teleported away from everything.

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The physical side was easy for three berserkers, and for the Minotaur fight, I optimized them with the best defense possible, reaching values of 57, 62, and 65, each with a 40% evade shield. The Bone Mail, Thornlet helm, and Cursed Ring all went on for this fight; usually I left all of them off because of the complications involved (in order: undead status disabling healing, constant HP drain, and a 50-second countdown to instant death in every battle.) The Chicken Knife was also added similarly, and one berserker upgraded from the usual Aegis shield (33% evade) to an Ice shield (40%). Minotaur died easily - in 18 seconds judging by Krile's Doom clock.

Omniscient we know how to beat from Sullla's reports. Just inflict Old status to nerf his regeneration, and equip a Wall Ring to reflect all his spells onto him. It seems that he can still cast a Drain spell that goes through the reflect wall. Faris dealt with that by casting Regen and Shell on herself, by bouncing them off Omniscient's own wall when he cast Reflect. Faris could also amusingly bounce a Libra off herself onto Omniscient to check his HP. Waiting for him to suicide took over 2 hours of in-game time, about 15 minutes with the emulator on max fast forward.

And now a strangely tough foe. Gogo the Mimic. I definitely want to pick up the Mime job so that Faris can equip three different abilities in the later boss fights (probably White, Time, and either Blue or Mix.) The "secret" to "beating" him is to simply do nothing for about two minutes, then he tells you you're a wonderful mime for mimicking him doing nothing. But Berserkers don't know how to do nothing!

I'm sticking with the variant rule that the three berserkers must enter the fight in good health. So now the question is what's the fastest way that Faris can kill three berserkers? Well, what's the answer to anything in this game? All together now: "The Chemist!"

Mixing Dark Matter + Phoenix Down equals Death Potion, an instant kill. To help with this, Faris went to the Bare job in order to equip Masamune (which makes you start with your action bar full), a Hermes Sandals for haste, and a Mirage Vest to avoid one physical blow from Gogo if necessary. This worked.

I'd neglected to buy any Coral Rings, but took on Leviathan, and won easily. With Mighty Guard and some good magic defense equipment, Tidal Wave dealt only 300 at a time, and we could even survive three of them before White Wind repaired the damage.

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Great Sea Trench - the battles were actually pretty interesting. Faris would always start with Haste-2 and Slow-2, which she could do before the enemies got a turn. From there, it was pretty risky: the blob-type Unknowns respond to physical attacks with Possess, an instant-removal attack (same as Omega's Encircle), and the hanging-type Unknowns respond with Doom, a ticking death clock. I had to give up the Assassin Dagger - its death spell would instead revive the undead enemies with full health! Faris could also damage them with the Healing Staff - that's within the rules of the variant, they are random encounters and it is the plain Fight command.

I found this actually rather fun! It's the first and only time random encounters would actually pose a threat. The blob enemies kill themselves when they use Possess, so as long as I had more characters than blobs, I'd win. The ticking Doom clocks actually never once expired. They only tick during down-time, when no action is happening -- which actually means pretty small segments of time in a busy battle.

And the piggy trio. Faris had gone Mime for Mix, White, and Time magic. She had an Aegis Shield so there was no real threat from Delta Attack, and the pigs didn't pack any other offense that white magic couldn't answer. But how can my Berserkers kill them? Any time one gets a turn while any other is dead, it revives it. Berserkers have no hit-all capability.

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The solution was yet again found in the Chemist's bag of tricks. Faris fed Samson Powers to the others to increase their level until each was capable of killing a pig in one hit. Then it was just a matter of time until the berserkers' turns all lined up and they killed the pigs one by one.

So, after making surprisingly short work of the third world, let's go into the Void.

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Hehe, now that's a narrow victory! That happened because in the previous fight, there were three Ankheg enemies, who got a back attack and all three cast Earthquake, killing Faris. We ran, then encountered another fight WHILE STILL GETTING SWEPT BY THE SAND so there was no chance to heal Faris. This encounter was a Land Crawler (20000 HP) who cast Maelstrom to redline everybody. I expected to lose. But then Bartz ripped off a Death spell (the Land Crawlers are not Heavy and immune to it) with his Assassin Dagger!

And indeed, many of the random fights were actually harder than the bosses here in the Cleft. Anything with high physical Evade means the berserkers will take a lot of shots to kill it, while the bosses don't have much evade and eat 3500+ damage every turn from the Chicken Knife.

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I'll skip through most of the boss gauntlet here, as they just weren't very hard. Every fight saw Haste on the berserkers and if possible Slow on the boss.

Calofisteri wasn't much problem - her gimmick is responding with Drain spells like Byblos, but doing that for 300 at a time against angry berserkers dealing 1500+ does not work. (I did worry that Bartz was going to reflect a Death spell from the Assassin Dagger off her wall, but that didn't happen.) Apanda went down the same way, overpowering his Drains.

Apocalypse went down very quick, by mixing Samson Powers onto the Chicken Knife wielder to surpass 5000 damage, and Dispel when he cast Mighty Guard. The rest of the bosses fell to plain Berserker attacks similarly: the Jura Aevises, Catastrophe (locked by simply casting Float on the party repeatedly, which he always spends a turn to counter with Gravity 100), Halicarnassus, and Twin Tania (Coral Rings in hand.) Haste/Slow was always enough buffing.

Stole the Genji Shield from Gilgamesh, barely fast enough before the berserkers dealt the 7000 damage to trigger his exit dialogue.

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And Necrophobia. I knew I'd need both White and Time magic on Faris, plus wanted to steal the Genji Armor, so trained Faris as a thief for a few battles until she learned Steal, then put all three abilities on her as a Mimic.

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Uh oh! Krile's Assassin Dagger cast its Doom spell - reflected off the perma-Wall barriers! And Flare hit for big damage, killing Bartz. Fortunately Faris stayed healthy, and was able to rebuild the party, except that I had to leave Krile dead for fear of reflected Dooms. Faris got a Shell/Barrier spell on everybody, which greatly reduced the danger. Then the elemental spells from the four barriers dealt about 1000 total every turn, which Faris wiped out with Cure 3.

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So eventually the berserkers worked through the barriers. Now it's time to revive Krile... whoops, Faris ran out of magic on those Cure 3's. No problem, just use an Elixir... problem, she has no Item command! No way to revive the little blond girl, and shortly I was out of healing completely! Then it was a damage race between the berserkers and Necrophobia, with Faris unable to do anything at all. (She had a Guardian Dagger equipped; you can't change weapons mid-battle without the Items command.)

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Fortunately, we did win that race, and Gilgamesh saved our bacon.

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