Final Fantasy V - Four Job Fiesta 2016: Run #2, Random
Random mode, or "You can get any job you can currently use". No duplicates, but Water can hand you Wind jobs, Fire can hand you Water and Wind, etc. You can get stuck with four Wind jobs if you're unlucky. This one is BLM / SMN / BLU / WHM
Dawn of the First Day
I'm starting to see pre-Wind as the calm before the storm. A leisurely stroll before Gilgabot shatters my world and throws me into a hellscape in which I'm stuck grinding four berserkers for hours to proceed. I'm sure in time I'll get tired of pre-Wind and hold my emulator's turbo button to rush through it. I'm not there yet.
Wind handed me Black Mage; a solid start. This required a very short grind in the canal to outfit everyone appropriately. Karlboss blew the hell up in 4 casts of Thunder and didn't even get an attack off. Much the same for Siren and 5 or 6 casts of Fire. I was hoping this was a portent for how the rest of the run would go. Sadly not the case.
I decided to use the Ice Rod on Magissa, as is my norm when I can do so. This was a decision I'd later question as Garula pounded me into a fine mist soon after. At the time I was level 8, and chose to grind to 10 before trying again.
Attempts #2 and #3 on Garula, by my estimation, I had dropped him to under 100 HP before he finally did me in. This is an extremely frustrating boss for me because your strategic options are nil. You throw what you have as a level 10 quartet of one job at him, and hope he dies. In this case, I had to grind to 11. Much to my delight and chagrin, the walk to round #4 with the wooly beast saw a Fire Rod drop from a mage, making the fight absolutely trivial and making the grinding seem pointless. Oh well.
The Water Crystal produced Summoner for my second job. For a moment I had to stop and take in the sheer power and flexibility I'd have at my command as this run progressed-- but also just how squishy I'd be. It'll be nuke or be nuked at least until the end of Karnak. In addition, Rods are going to be my savior for a lot of the run, and that means money. So for the first time this year: To the Wild Nakk grind!
But first... at the suggestion of a stream viewer I decided to try my luck at Shiva before shipping off to Karnak. I killed... one of her minions... before she resigned me to an icy hell from which the only escape was the reset button. I'll be coming back with some Fire Rods after the Wild Nakk grind, and then I'll have revenge.
Dawn of the Second Day
A short Wild Nakk grind saw me to level 14 and got the gear and rods I needed. I skipped back to Worus and bopped Shiva for the summon. Two Fire Rods and we're done here. Worthwhile revenge for the beatdown the prior day, I suppose.
Next up was Fireship. I discovered quickly that everything but Poltergeists died instantly to a single cast of Blizara, so I took fights here and reached 15 on the way to Liquidflame. Like Shiva, two rods and I called it a day. The Karnak 500, as it's called by some, went smoothly and I grabbed everything but the elixirs and gil.
Boom goes Karnak and my Fire job is up. What do I get? Blue Mage, and just a moment too late to learn Death Claw, damn! On the plus side, Aqua Rake is right to the west. I slide over to D-Chimera desert, take an Aqua Rake to the face, and break an Ice Rod to waste the Chimera and learn the spell. In doing so Lenna, the sole survivor of the rake, hits 16. This becomes important at...
The Ancient Library! My first priority was picking up Aera and Level 5 Doom; so much so that I ran into the stacks and ... got Level 5 Doomed. Three dead. I spammed Fira until the book stopped moving and fled for my life. Oops. A short grind later to get my party to 16, back to the stacks. My attempts to learn Aera were stifled by Page32 just being a jerk and only single casting it on my Summoner. I made a mental note to get it later and went to kill Ifrit and Byblos. Since I had Shiva and Ice Rods, Ifrit was a joke. Since I had Ifrit, Byblos was a joke. Then I forgot to get Aera...
Once I had the ship, I went straight to Crescent Island and got the Black Chocobo, then fled from everything in the ruins to get the airship. From there I picked up Ramuh, Dark Spark, Toad, reloaded my rods (including some Thunder Rods), and snapped an Ice Rod over Adamantoise's head. On to the flying city and the Sol Cannon.
A quick diversion here: Sol Cannon almost ended my first run this year. I had to fight it with four Beastmasters and had to pray for Sand Bear release luck as well as kindness from the launchers to not own me. I wanted revenge, so I went in with Ramuh, Thunder Rods, and Thundara blazing. Total overkill? Probably, but it was cathartic. I also learned Missile and Flamethrower from the turrets, but I doubt they'll ever be used. Meanwhile, everying in the flying city got exploded by Thundara, no sweat here!
Archeoavis has five forms that have five specific strategies that work against them. In order... Aera, Death Claw, Dark Spark and Level 5 Doom, Death Claw, and Level 5 Doom. This is where I finally realized I never got Aera from the library, and I didn't have the chance to get Death Claw because Blue Mage didn't unlock until after Karnak. Dohhh!!! Backup strategy? Thundara and Ramuh until Avis started absorbing lightning, then Fire2 and Ifrit until the fake death animation, then Level 5 Doom (which I actually HAD). It wasn't an easy fight.
After the lengthy cutscene, I rolled my Earth job. At this point my stream chat was divided between people who wanted to see me get a balanced 4th like Knight or Samurai, and people who wanted to complete the cloth wearing quartet with Time Mage, White Mage, or Chemist. The latter won as I got White Mage. Four pure casters. Oh dear Lord... I got Team 750 even though I didn't roll 750 with Gilgabot!
I wanted to finish out World 1 to close off the session, so I rushed to the meteors. Bomb Ring was made easy with Aqua Rake. Now Titan... I had no source of Float, so what do? Confuse Gala Cats way back in North Mountain and wait for them to cast Float on someone for me! It took only two battles, a few minutes total, to get Float on my Summoner. That's good enough! Two Ice Rods on Titan, he kills everyone but my Summoner with Earth Shaker, and we move on.
Chimera, I had no strategy for because I didn't have Death Claw still. I forgot his elemental weakness and blew a turn breaking an Ice Rod, healing it back to full; in return it Blazed me and killed my Summoner... So there I am, Summoner dead, White Mage and Blue Mage down to double digits. I started breaking rods on my Blue Mage; Fire ones this time. Chimera hit me with Aqua Rake which left my White Mage with 9 HP and my Blue Mage with 27. Luckily, the next Fire Rod killed the Chimera. Not an honorable victory, but really was it any less honorable than Death Claw?
So World 1 is finished. I have a party of all casters, and a lot of collecting and final strings to tie up before we leave Bartz's world for Galuf's. I don't know how well this composition is going to work for me, but I suppose time will tell.
Dawn of the Third Day
It'd been a few days since I streamed so I forgot exactly what I needed to do. This led to some running around to jog my memory. In the end I purchased four Mage Mashers, and dipped back into the Fireship to learn Flash. That's all I needed, so on to the portal and into World 2!
I was holding my own against Abductor until I erroneously assumed Sylph would heal my lone Bartz 4x as much since he was the only character on the field. Wrong. Oh well, no big loss; mostly bragging rights. Gaulf gibbed Gilgamesh in their 1v1 with his pure never-been-another-job Black Mage awesomeness in the form of Thundara to the face. For the rematch on the bridge, I managed to get lucky with Mage Mashers and Gilgamesh failed to go super saiyan, leaving him ripe for the picking with Titan spam. Easy.
I did some light grinding both before and at Bel Castle for EXP and ABP. This let me juggle up my jobs, and buy a full set of equipment including four Gaia Gears. I gave all four characters Summon and enjoyed 1500 damage Titans on anything not flying. Phew! Snagging Golem proved to be easy as I chunked the undead dragons before they could even scratch him. Hiyruu Plant proved even easier as it's susceptible to Death Claw (which I FINALLY picked up from a Treant outside Exdeath's castle).
Gilgamesh on the boat was a minor concern of mine, but then I discovered he's weak to the old Dark Spark + Level 5 Doom cheese, so he was dead before Enkidu could even be summoned. The climb up Barrier Tower was pretty darn easy as well; I mostly fled except in the case of a Traveler, where I waited around until it taught my Blue Mage Time Slip. I also took a few Wall Knight fights to try to pop a Wall Ring. I wasn't expecting much since my first run, I spent 30min trying for this with no luck but... lo and behold, my 4th Wall Knight fight netted me a ring. I destroyed Atomos with the same Dark Spark + Level 5 Doom cheese... then remembered I forgot the Gold Hairpin! Doh! Well with a party of four Summoners, that won't do... so I reset and did it again.
In control of the Submarine, I stopped off at Moore early to buy -aga spells and new gear, then did a bit more grinding in the forest against Level 5 Doom susceptible monsters. I hit 25 here before I skipped up to North Island to pick up Shoat. Doing 1600 damage a Titan summon, it didn't matter that he countered with Petrify. Guido's Cave was completely uneventful. I tried to learn Aeroga a few times but couldn't get a Morph to turn into the necessary creature. I decided to stop when one turned into a Red Dragon and almost wiped me in one shot with Zombie Breath.
The Forest was just annoying. I hate the fights here, and the fire spirits are flat out immune to almost all my sources of damage. I contined fleeing from everything, assuming my level high enough to carry me through the world. I once again chose the Aegis Shield during the burning forest scene, as I was confident I could take the Crystals with no form of fire absorb. As for the Crystals... 1600+ damage Titans destroyed 3 of the 4 crystals before they could cast their -aga spells. The final proved to be a challenge as it's only vulnerable to Wind, Water, and Fire. Ifrit wasn't doing much, so I ended up leaning on Firaga from my Black Mage for 1400 a pop, Aera from my Blue Mage for 500 a pop, and Ifrit from the rest for 300 a pop. I took an Earth Shaker to the face before I got him down. Close call!
Castle Exdeath actually presented some challenge. Being so flimsy, Red and Blue dragons could just blast me into oblivion. My low level made it hard to run, and they often got the first move. Atomic Ray chunked away 550 of my 800 HP, on all four characters. I died a few times on the way up. I learned Level 2 Old and Aeroga entirely by accident from Magic Dragons. Both turned out to be godsends as Aeroga was doing more single target damage than Titan was, with Air Lancets equipped and Level 2 Old would be used later. Carbuncle was an easy snag on the way; just wait until he cures himself once, then summon Shoat for an instant kill. While slogging through the castle Lenna (Summoner) hit level 27.
Since one of Exdeath's scariest moves is Level 3 Flare, Lenna's level presented a problem: do I grind up to 28 to avoid that, or attempt cheese? I chose cheese. I equipped Lenna with the one Wall Ring I popped in Barrier Tower, chortling to myself about how Exdeath was going to blow himself up on his own Flare. What ended up happening, however, was even more amusing.
Once in the battle, I used Level 2 Old on Exdeath (Oh yeah that works!) and decided to summon Carbuncle to give all four members of my party Reflect. I expected a lot more magic out of Exdeath than I saw (Keep in mind, last run I gibbed him with four !Releases of Yellow Dragons and didn't SEE his pattern!). As it turns out, he mostly slapped me around with physicals and Vacuum Wave. What the four Reflects did let me do, however, is bounce Thundaga and Aeroaga against my party for up to 4000 damage a cast! Exdeath was a smoking crater in 3 rounds.
I fortunately had the good sense to unequip Lenna and Faris before losing them to the Tycoon cutscene starting World 3. I didn't last run. So now I'm set to begin the final leg of the game. I'm pretty confident this will be easy right up to Neo Exdeath. Syldra will prove quite the asset very soon, and I have the Air Lancets to make her summon quite overpowered indeed.
Dawn of the Final Day
Starting out World 3, I rolled my two remaining party members as Blue and White. Antion got Berserked and fell to a barrage of Aerogas, which is a relief because in my first run I actually had problems with him due to who had what Abilities and who left the party. I tried to divert to the Pirate Cave to get Syldra early, because it'd be incredibly useful in the Pyramid; alas, the cutscene just doesn't trigger yet, even though there's no reason it shouldn't.
So the Pyramid... I had to stop here last run and grind !slash on my Samurai. It took hours. This time, I walked in and blew everything up with a combination of Firaga, Aeroga, and Gaia-boosted Titan. One problem though: MP. I was chugging my precious few Ethers like water. A lot of the fights in here are unrunnable or at least mandatory to progress, so I couldn't just flee when MP ran low. I ended up burning all my spare Ethers here but came out with all the important gear: The White Suit, Black Suit, and Gold Hairpin.
I over-prepared for Melusine, expecting it to be a brutal slow fight where I'd have to chase her weaknesses and scan with my Blue Mage. What actually happened is I blew her up in 3 casts of quad-reflected Firaga. Huh. Another fight I had severe trouble with last run, trivialized. I grabbed whatever from the Sealed Castle; not a single piece of gear therein was of use to me, then picked up my three Air Lancets (not four because White Mages cannot equip them) and Syldra, and was set for damage for the rest of the game.
So here, I had a few things to do before entering the Void. First was four pairs of Running Shoes, which I had the cash for on hand, another refreshing change versus my last run. Then I bought the final tier White and Black spells in Phantom Village, and stocked up on consumable, including about 40 Ethers; yay for actually having gil!
That left two goals before entering the Void: The Magic Lamp, and Mighty Guard. The former is easy enough to pick up, but the latter required some doing. At first I spent about 25 battles in the wrong spot before a viewer pointed it out-- oops! When I finally got to the right spot, it was about another ten battles before I found the Stingray needed to learn Mighty Guard. Then a problem: I had only one source of control: Charm, and it had a microscopic chance to hit. Uh oh.
After maybe 40 attempts to land charm, several Phoenix Downs, several Ethers... it finally landed and the jerk used the move on me. Now to kill him. I had to resurrect half my party and establish a combat rhythm, nearly wiping to this single world monster in the process. In the end I got my quad Reflect up and minced the Stingray with reflected Thundagas, but it took maybe 20 minutes all told, including the hunting. Ouch. Frustrating, but well worth the reward.
So that's it... ready to go into the Void. I sub-slotted everyone with Summon Lv4 to summon Syldra, except the Summoner of course whom I gave Lv6 White for extra healing. I didn't need Bahamut, Flare, Holy, or Phoenix as I had enough damage in Lancet-boosted Syldra, and enough healing from two people with !White and Gold Hairpins.
One of my first battles in the Void got me smacked with a critical physical for 400 HP more than my Black Mage's max. I began to worry. Funny enough that was when I was trying to flee, so I stopped trying to run and instead blew everything up with 2-4 casts of Syldra. Not much could stand up to my damage in the early areas of the Void.
Calofisteri, I gave the Blue Mage the Bone Mail and expected to need to cheese the fight, but when she started casting Reflect on my party, I just followed up with Carbuncle and boosted Aerogas and she died before anyone really took any damage. Apanda got stunlocked by his AI procedure when hit by Ifrit, and I blew him up with Firaga easily. Azulmagia, I used Exploder on. Yes this killed my Blue Mage, but he immediately used it back on me, being a Blue Magic, and died instantly. Three down, five to go.
Catastophe, I was aware would AI-lock himself if someone had both Float and Reflect. What I didn't realize is Catastrophe would instantly use Gravity 100 if you Float anyone, so I couldn't get the Reflect up. I died the first fight. Round 2: I used Mighty Guard to give myself Float before the fight, then put my one Wall Ring on my Black Mage, and Catastrophe spent the whole fight trying to remove Float. Good.
Halicarnassus was another case of knowing what to do, but doing it wrong. I expected him to fry himself on reflected Holy, but mistook how seldom he casts it. He eventually frogged me enough times that I ran out of Maiden Kisses. Round 2: I took the fight to them and kept Reflect up while boosting Aeroga. You can't summon against them or they'll one-shot you, so this had to do, and it worked well. They eventually did roast them self with Holy for the kill.
Twintania, I spammed Shoat until it changed phase and Shoat insta-killed. Nothing much to note here. Gilgamesh, again not much to note. Three Syldra summons and he was done for the day. My first steps into the Void-proper beyond Gilgamesh, though, saw me tossed into a fight with Behemoths that cast Meteo. Meteo hits four times, and each hit was enough to one-shot a party member. Only by the luck of having two meteors hit Bartz did I survive and flee... Now I was really getting nervous about my chances to win.
Bosses however were jokes... Necrophobe's barriers all fell to 4 or 5 Syldra summons, and he himself turned out to be weak to Wind; what luck! So he died in a hurry to 6k Syldra summons.
Now for the big event. I was running a party of level 31 casters, none of which had more than 1000 HP. Almagest would fry me in one shot, so I only saw one option: Stone Exdeath's Almagest portion before he could cast it. This wouldn't be easy given the level disparity and Exdeath's inherent magic resist. I started the tree fight with Golem, Mighty Guard, and Syldra spam, being careful to use Elixirs to restore my MP just before phase change, then Neo emerged.
I began spamming either Shoat or Break with everyone, praying for one to land. I probably burned 9 to 12 attempts to stone the segment before it began to shake, warning me that my time was running out. One more round. Three more failures and then, my White Mage managed to land it with Shoat, shattering the Almagest section probably moments before it cast and wiped my party. PHEW!! I summoned Odin to kill the back segment next, leaving only Golem-mitigated physicals and Grand Cross as my threats. He got one Grand Cross off before getting run over by a swarm of angry Syldras: it Zombied Cara, near-deathed Bartz, and slept Lenna. Even so I was able to recover by chucking Holy Water and Elixir, and finished the fight.
This party plays exactly how it looks: you have incredible, unparalleled AoE damage potential, but in exchange you die in one hit from anything from most of the game. At the start, Summoner is pretty weak compared to properly rodded and weakness-targeting Black, and smart Blue use, but once you get Titan and Gaia gear that changes. Black makes a come-back when you get the -aga spells, and Blue remains useful for cheese throughout. In the end, however, it's Air Lancet boosted Syldras that do the most total damage to groups (like Neo Exdeath). Single target, you can eke out a bit more damage with reflected -aga spells, but not much.
I suspect I would have had to grind into the late 40s to survive a single hit from Almagest. Conversely by then just nuking Neo Exdeath down with Syldra before Almagest is even cast would be possible. I wasted a ton of MP and time trying to stone part of Exdeath with Break and Shoat, and if I'd just spammed Syldra, I may have killed it in time anyway.
The White Mage really made this composition feasible. Without that, I would have had no healing, no good way to confuse enemies to learn their beneficial skills, and would have blown a ton more cash on healing items and probably would have had to engage in an extensive cash grind befor the Void. Summoner and Black took turns being the main source of damage, while Blue was useful for utility through the entire run. Very balanced without many gaps.
I doubt I'll have a party that strong next run...