Final Fantasy V - Solo White Mage

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First things first, though... I want to use Galuf/Cara as my solo character. This may sound odd, but hear me out. It's all about the stats. Galuf has high vitality and strength, which is what we need for the first half of the game with the White Mage's weak physical attack. But we need neither stat in the late game post Holy (for vitality, just go add levels for HP.) What we'll need is agility and magic power, so Cara is our girl. As with Arylon the Dancer who was actually Faris, I named the lead character "White" and pretended it applied to Galuf and Cara.

This will also run into some gender confusion. "White" will be male for the first half of this report and then female. That's oddly appropriate; the sex of the FF1 white mage has been a hotly debated topic for twenty years now. smile.gif - 1kb

Of course Galuf leaves the party briefly, for the last three miniboss fights in the first world. I could do what Arylon did for the Antlion fight (when Faris is missing), let the dead characters use whatever jobs to get past it. But that's not quite fair. The Purobolos in particular are one gigantic obstacle for a white mage and deserve to be beat head-on, not using a rules loophole to get GilToss or something. That fight needs to be beaten properly by the variant challenge, so I will briefly use Bartz as a second solo white mage for that. Finally, I will send these two solo white mages up each side of Fork Tower later. So in this way, every single fight in the game, even Galuf's brief solo at the start of world two, will be beaten by a lone White Mage.

Since White Mage is one of the starting six jobs, it doesn't seem necessary to use a cheat code to unlock them. Rather, I had White fight through the wind shrine as if he were a white mage, equipping a Staff weapon bought in Tule and only light armor. White actually got wiped a few times to Moldwynd enemies casting Aero for 80 damage, more than his HP total until he added a few levels.

At least Wing Raptor wasn't hard, with enough time to heal with cure spells during his rest periods.

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Yeah, like THAT was gonna work.

It seems I never properly understood the Karlabos fight from Sullla's reports. There's more to the danger than just the combination of Tail Screw (drops HP to a single digit) and a physical attack. You also die from simple accumulation of physical hits without Tail Screw. White magic curing was not enough, White's cure spells only healed about 100 HP at a time, barely more than a potion. So the answer to that is farming Elixirs in the Wind Shrine and also adding levels to simply have more life.

And how about the offensive game plan? The Staff weapon is basically an axe, using the same formula according to the algorithms guide. Attack is anywhere from 0.5x to 1.5x the stated value of 9. Of course that is an odd number so it loses out to integer truncation and rolls damage values from 4 to 13 rather than 4.5 to 13.5. The multiplier for most weapon attacks is (Str*Lev)/128+2. Galuf as a WM has Str of 20, so he adds a multiplier at levels 7 and 13 and the next is at 20.

So I farmed Elixirs, with a target total of 10 since I seem to remember one of the solos (Horazon the Summoner?) needing nine. 9 Elixirs came in reasonable time but the 10th took forever to drop. I went through at least twenty fights against three Mold Winds before it did. (Odds of at least one Elixir in each such fight are 1 - (15/16)^3 = 18%.) This took White all the way to level 18, where I briefly tried Karlabos a few more times, but then decided to just go to 20 for the attack multiplier.

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There's White using his newfound ability to deal 5x damage. Also that meant all the damage numbers were in increments of 5, making it easy to add up the damage in my head. smile.gif - 1kb (Yes, I micromanage everything.)

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And on about the 20th try at level 20, everything went my way and White avoided all the Tailscrew combos and pulled it off.

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Siren was easy, hit her with cure spells during the undead form and White's own self with cure spells otherwise. White made a critical pickup in Carwen town in the Armor spell. Physical damage halved for the exorbitant price of 4 MP! White would use that spell in just about every fight ever.

Against Magisa on North Mountain, I tried to outrace her Drain spells. Cures weren't enough, so White lit in to her with the full mighty power of the Staff (still hitting for 40 damage average and 65 max) and spent an Elixir for healing. Still, that barely stayed ahead in the damage race.

Until Magisa suddenly ran out of her 200 magic points. Now the fight was easy as she wasted all her turns doing nothing. Forza showed up, White moved to the back row, and traded attacks for a long long time, slipping in a Cure about every third round. The battle took probably around a hundred rounds of combat with White poking for 16 damage at a time and missing frequently, but White was in no danger and won easily. Finished with 4 MP remaining but didn't need any second Elixir.

Wind drake in tow, White triumphantly flew to Castle Tycoon to collect the lifeblood item of this variant in the Healing Staff. This weapon led to retrieving the Elf Cape from the Castle Walse basement (against the Garkimasra enemies, just continually heal until you manage to run), and both items together made the Garula fight easy. Armor spell on, White easily outraced Garula's damage with the staff and won in about another hundred rounds of combat.

And in Karnak, White bought his other lifeblood item, the Flail weapon. This little stick would be the only melee weapon White could use until we pick up a Morning Star in the far far away Forest of Moore. It behaves as an axe: it rolls random attack values from 0.5x to 1.5x the stated value of 16, it has an (in)accuracy rating of 70%, and it pierces enemy physical defense to a quarter of the original value. It also deals full damage from the back row. I have to wonder if the designers actually anticipated a White Mage solo challenge with this weapon. It's just barely enough to kill things, the key point being its ability to pierce defense, without which it could never damage many enemies at all. (Incidentally, there is no "Mythril Staff" weapon with 19 attack as listed in the Algorithms Guide. It exists in the code and can be hacked in, but there's no source of one in the actual game.)

The next boss, LiquidFlame, followed the same script. Like Wing Raptor, this boss gives you plenty of time for healing when it shifts into a form that doesn't attack. It heals itself with Fire 2, and I was worried that White would never be able to outrace that, but its total of just 50 MP burns out quickly. White had unlimited healing again with the staff during the tornado form and won with no danger after, you guessed it, about a hundred rounds.

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But the escape from Karnak posed a problem. The fastest White could win any fight was more than two minutes, plus the boss fight would need a lot of time. I risked looting only one chest, the Esuna/Heal spell. It was sad to leave behind a Ribbon, Guardian Dagger, and Elf Cape; but White already had one of the latter and could never use the other two. White spent three minutes fighting for the Heal spell and five fighting the boss, but won and escaped.

The next boss battle was Ifrit in the library. Unlike the last few bosses, White could not outCure him endlessly. His special fight attack has a chance to inflict paralyzation, and he could launch enough Fire 2s to kill White during the paralysis.

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But White had an answer: the Confuse spell works on Ifrit! He heals himself with fire spells, but at least that was a much faster and safer way to run him out of MP. Also he apparently can cast Fire 3 when confused, which is really strange and not listed in the algorithms guide, but fine by me as that depletes his magic three times faster.

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There we go. White kept using Confuse even after that; having Ifrit hit himself for 120 was still safer than attacking with the flail. White needed one Elixir to refill on magic but eventually got past Ifrit on the first try.

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And here is Byblos, the eternal road block to low-offense characters. White would do this battle by borrowing from the tactics of Spoony the Bard and Jesse the Thief. These three characters all stood no chance of winning through offense before Sonic Wave hit or of overcoming his 160-point Drain spells. White would have to grind through the entire battle reduced to level 1 by Sonic Wave. Fortunately, the Healing Staff still works pretty okay even reduced to level 1. The multiplier for magic spells is always at least 4 even at level one, so its Cure 2 would always heal at least 45 x 4 = 180 life.

White couldn't Hide until Byblos ran out of MP, but he had a trio of advantages that were virtually as good. The Healing Staff, the Armor spell, and a Back Row OK weapon. This wasn't quite perfect protection: Byblos could take him out by rolling a Confuse spell followed by three straight Wind Slash attacks (an Air element spell for a little over 200 damage) with White failing to hit himself out of confusion three straight times. And the Healing Staff came a bit short of undoing an entire Wind Slash. Still, the odds of all that happening were one in several thousand. But just to be sure I pulled out and raised White from level 22 to 26 to add enough HP to 700 to survive three Wind Slashes and require Byblos to roll a fourth to kill me.

It was too risky to try to slip in damage. The danger was getting Confused while holding the flail instead of the healing staff, so White would hit and hurt himself instead of healing. So White kept the Healing Staff welded to his hand for the two hours until Byblos ran out of his 1000 MP. He had to suck a Hi-Potion at very low HP twice but never had to resort to an Elixir.

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Finally. Now that White was safe with the Confuse spell offline, I could carefully swap to the Flail weapon and hit Byblos... whereupon I immediately smacked my head in complete stupidity. I'd slipped in one hit at the beginning of the battle to apply a bit of damage before the Sonic Wave debuff kicked in... to which Byblos had responded with his Armor spell to halve his damage taken. Dumb! That can be prevented by running him out of MP first.

I actually paused the emulator overnight here, and ran the numbers at work the next day. It would be faster to redo the battle avoiding Armor than to work through it at half damage, so I did. Had to redo the battle once when Byblos (under 250 MP) hit on a streak of Wind Slashes with White failing six times in a row! to attack himself out of confusion. ... Then that happened three more times after lengthy starts to the battle. In anger I pulled White out again to add two more levels for more HP buffer room.

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Past phase one again. (Notice White's higher HP total now.) Start slipping in Flail attacks as possible. The weapon dealt 12 to 44 damage. I was pleased at having correctly worked that out ahead of time then seeing it confirmed in the game. Flail has 16 base attack and rolls damage between 8 to 24 on each swing. Byblos has 10 defense, which an axe-type weapon pierces and quarters to 2. The minimum physical multiplier is 2 without armor status on the target or the back row penalty. 8 to 24, minus 2, times 2, equals 12 to 44.

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Whoa, precarious situation when I got a little too aggressive in attacking! I used an Elixir there, one of five throughout the battle. They might not have been needed but now I was playing it safe. Gradually I learned the rhythm of Byblos's AI routine. The only dangerous move now was Wind Slash for 200+ damage, which can appear on every second turn at a 1/3 chance each time. Byblos would get two turns (one Wind Slash chance) between each one of White's, but on about every fourth cycle he would get three turns, so each second iteration of his triple-turn could bring two Wind Slashes without White acting between. I learned very accurately when to wait with the Healing Staff ready just before a possible double Wind Slash.

To keep up with the Wind Slashes and physical attacks (75 damage), it took about five rounds of Heal Staffing for every one chance to attack. And about half the attacks missed between the Flail's inaccuracy and Byblos's 20% evade. On average the Flail did 28 damage. So it took 128 hits to kill Byblos; about 256 swings; or 1500 rounds of combat all told. That comes out to over 225,000 damage healed by the staff. eek.gif - 2kb


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And appropriately enough, White mastered his job right here. I think he earned it alright!

Yes, that is over five hours of game time for one battle. And that's continuous action, no Hiding. I did say I lost my sanity.

(Full disclosure of two items that could be considered minor cheating. First, I used VBA's cheat-search function to find and see Byblos's MP directly rather than manually track it through a thousand spells. Second, I used its rewind function on a few occasions when I misclicked to make White hit the healing staff on Byblos or the flail on himself. I didn't rewind to undo any random results or actual decisions, just misclicks.)

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