Part 4: Chapter 4
So we're heading to Bofsk to destroy the Warship. By this point we could make the whole trip by foot easily without having to rest, but we're taking a pitstop anyhow.
When you deliver the Mithril to Tobul, a second weapon/armor merchant pops up in the store in Altea. That's not the only place that gets mithril equipment at that point, though--Palm and Poft get mithril gear too, and they actually have a slightly different selection. The mithril bow doesn't show up in Altea and so is very easy to miss, which will make your bow-users even more gimped. Again, it's comparatively cheap and is a huge upgrade considering how weak bows are to start with, so it's highly recommended (although if you know what you're doing you can get an even better one by now.)
While we're here, we might as well take the ferry--we're not really hurting for money. (No, you can't steer the boat--this ride is automated.)
Bofsk is just on the other side of the mountains from Poft, so it's a short trip if you took the boat.
: "That's no moon!"
: "No one said it was a moon, dumbass."
Just as Hilda's intel said, the Dark Knight is gone and he's left this clown in charge.
Even the soldiers don't like him.
But y'know, this place has some pretty nice shopping opportunities as far as slave camps go.
The armor is mostly old stuff, although the Silver Armor is definitely worth picking up--it's like a more powerful version of the Copper Armor, but it's not any heavier so you can still use it without killing your evade or spellcasting ability. And it's really pretty cheap for how effective it is. I'm going to pass for now, though.
The spells are mostly useless. Fear and Mute are terrible--Mute tends to wear off quickly and many enemies are immune anyhow. The poorly-named Peep spell (seriously, it's like they pulled that name out of a hat) cures temporary status conditions. So... the only thing it does is heal you of things that heal on their own.
Heal, on the other hand, cures permanent status conditions. Your inventory space is extremely limited here, so if you're playing the original version, this is one of the most important spells in the game since you probably can't carry all the curatives you'd need without it.
(In this version, anyhow. In the GBA version it's not a huge deal if you miss it, because there you have enough inventory room and enough money to buy all the healing items you want.)
: "I can't believe he's a general. He's just a moron... Oops! I didn't say anything!"
Hmm, there's an indiscreet soldier lounging around in front of this enticing alleyway. I know! Let's blurt out our secret rebel password!
So our spy apparently spends his day talking insubordination with random passersby while standing just outside earshot of the incredibly vain imperial commander, and we identify him by telling him the not-at-all obscure password that the rebellion uses for basically everything.
We are terrible at espionage.
As mentioned, the Heal spell is extremely important in this version. Merely having Heal on hand is not good enough, though. Oh, no...
See, spells work on a system very similar to weapon skills. Just as each weapon level gives you an extra attack, leveling up spells effectively gives you more "attacks"--damage spells auto-hit so this just translates into a straight damage multiplier, but for non-damage spells it means more chances to succeed and more chances to overcome enemy magic defense.
That's not all, though. Some spells actually have different effects depending on how many successes you roll. Even if you land your Heal spell, all you can heal at first is blindness or poison. Healing some statuses like petrification can take up to 5 successes, which means even if you've got a great Soul stat and no equipment penalties you need a minimum of level 5 Heal in order to cure stoning and other statuses.
Since Heal is a utility spell that only comes up occasionally, you're never ever really going to be able to get it up to level 5 "naturally" by the time you encounter enemies that start petrifying you. That's why Heal is one of the few spells where abusing the select/cancel bug can actually be really worth your time for something other than building up ridiculous overkill skills for laughs.
However, if you're aware of this problem in advance you might not need to resort to this kind of grinding. Instead, just grab Heal early and then cast it whenever you get a chance--any time your designated Heal user isn't needed to kill the enemies, have them waste their turn casting Heal instead. It's a little grindy, but since you need to enter commands for everybody anyhow you might as well pick something that needs training.
And of course, being Fry this translates to "cast Heal pretty much every single turn ever", since Marty and Guido have virtually all fights covered between Marty's physicals and Guido's spells.
This helps too. With Exit 3, turban guy can almost always zap a single target out and against a big group he can usually get 2 or 3. Fry is hardly ever going to make a difference in this crowd, so he's free to sit in the corner and fiddle with Heal.
Guido also manages to get a good-sized MP increase. If you're having one character focus on magic, don't bother trying to spread their spells out--try to pick one spell to specialize in early on and cast it at every opportunity to level that sucker up. Casting higher level spells is a very good way to increase MP without having to stop and grind, so if you can get a level 3 or 4 attack spell early on you can boost your MP easily during shorter trips and then have plenty to use for lower-level attack spells when you're in a long dungeon.
Some new enemies rear their heads. I love this dirty brown and green palette; it's the same one zombies used in FFI. These early Final Fantasies use some unorthodox color combinations to great effects in some of their monster art.
In keeping with the multi-purpose theme of a lot of the utility spells, this is the first FF game where you can cast Cure and Life to kill undead. Cure actually is not all that effective (Guido's Fire spell hits these guys for 80), but Life is instant death and has a very high success rate compared to other instakill effects. It's not an auto-hit against undead like in most other FF games, though.
The sewer dungeon is short, but the loot is quite decent for how easy it is to get.
Marty takes advantage of the free longsword to start dual-wielding. Unfortunately, in this version of the game dual wielding has the wee little problem of doing nothing--it will show the weapon swing animation for both weapons, but only your primary weapon gets to attack. (This is fixed in any of the remakes, where you actually do attack with both weapons--this makes it really easy to one-shot any enemy that doesn't have really high defense.)
The upshot is that you gain skill points for both weapons, so this is a decent way to transition from one weapon type to another. Axes do slightly more damage than swords early on, but in the long run swords are far and away the best weapons (naturally.)
The lack of evade% from the shield hurts, although it's not a complete loss--weapons do actually contribute a tiny bit of evade%, although in most cases it's only a fraction of what you'd get from a shield. Marty's naturally high agility should help compensate some for the time being.
Floor 2 of the sewers. The left and upper paths are dead ends, but otherwise this is a short and entirely linear floor.
: "Fully manned and fully--"
: "If you don't knock it off I will cut you."
The Dark Knight storms out impressively, followed by his useless lackey.
Yes, this line was inserted by the fan translator. Ted Woolsey's classic stone cold burn makes a lot more sense coming from this doofus than a cool old dude like Tellah.
Oh dear. That can't be good.
Take note of where Borgan came from, because you need something from this room. On at least one occasion I made the mistake of walking straight back out through the dungeon after the Warship flies off.
Yes, the Empire's engine of ridiculous flying death has passenger tickets.
A convenient magic circle off to the side teleports us back to the entrance to town. Time to make the long trek back to base.
Along the way, Guido gets an all-important Agility boost. Now, you get stat increases by using the relevant stat. You may wonder how you "use" agility, since it's a completely passive stat--all it does it determine your Evade%. You might think that agility is exercised by dodging attacks, but no. As it turns out, agility gains are based entirely off your current Evade%.
Yes. You gain agility by having agility. Your equipment modifiers do matter, though, so wearing lots of armor will kill your agility growth and shields will boost it. Beyond simply having as much Evade% as possible, nothing you do in battle will influence your chances of gaining agility--it's purely random. Evasion (and hence agility) is extremely important, and the only way to increase evasion is by having decent evasion to begin with, so you can see why shields are so extremely valuable early on. Conversely, barehanded or bow fighters have to be extremely careful; their lack of a shield, or even evade bonuses from dual weapons, means their agility will be largely stagnant.
On the trip back I do a little bit of shopping. I know I said you wouldn't get much use out of Blink, but it can't hurt, and turban guy's not going to be around much longer anyhow.
She's not kidding. This place used to be packed wall to wall with half-naked pirates.
Cid's still here, though, and he has some important technical details on the Warship's weaknesses. Again, do not forget to talk to Cid as you need this keyword to advance the plot.
: "You will notice that I am scrupulously avoiding any mention of thermal exhaust ports."
: "I hate you so much."
Luckily the ferry still works.
Palm didn't fare quite as badly as Poft, but now it's all creepy and depressing instead of being merely creepy and perverted.
The Empire can't be allowed to get away with this. We've got no leads on where the Warship is at or how we could actually manage to bring it down (Cid's technical insights notwithstanding), so we've only got one recourse:
We're taking the fight to those fuckers. Nothing can possibly go wrong with this idea!
The captains have a Bow attack, and it's higher level and more damaging than the bow attack the goblins and soldiers use. Still, thanks to the gains earned going through Semite Falls and the Bofsk sewers everyone has enough HP to survive it (well, everyone important.) Still, Guido's the only one who can damage this guy, so we don't want him getting killed by arrows. Luckily, the captain's decision to open up with the bow gives turban guy time to safely do this:
The Fog spell inflicts the "amnesia" status, which is like a more powerful version of mute that doesn't wear off. The enemies' bow attack is technically a spell, so while under the effects of mute or amnesia they can't use it. That's right, turban guy just cast a spell to make the captain so stupid he forgot how to use a bow.
In retrospect, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to block the captain from using the only attack that I have any hope of surviving. But never fear, I'm one step ahead of him!
If Marty was dead at the end of a turn, everyone in the back row would move up to the front and I'd be fucked. But since the captain is so fast, turban guy's Life spell goes off after he kills Marty and she's back up for the start of the next round so that everyone else can stay safely out of range of the captain's attacks.
This buys time for Guido to fire off spells to wear down the captain's HP. Thanks to the effects of Fog I don't have to worry about stray bow attacks killing Guido, so as long as Marty doesn't go down for the count he can sit back and do his stuff.
Fry pretends to be useful. (It doesn't help.)
Now, the captain has 750 HP and Guido's knocking it off in chunks of 60 HP at a time, so...
This happens a few more times. Since turban guy has a very high level Life spell, and a good Soul with no heavy equipment to interfere with his spellcasting, there's no real risk of him failing to resurrect Marty, so it's basically just a matter of time.
The bonuses from such an epic battle are considerable.
Still, they pale comparison to the epic loot these guys can drop. I'm pretty sure the designers didn't intend for the player to actually take on the captains and win at this point of the game, so you can get some ridiculously powerful loot way earlier than you're supposed to. As brokenly overpowered as the flame bow is, though (for reference Fry has 19 attack with the Mithril Bow equipped, and that's actually the strongest weapon we have at present), it's not what we're looking for.
There's an inn in Gatea, just across the lake, so it takes no time at all to recover everyone's HP and MP and strike again. Killing the captain doesn't actually get rid of the soldiers wandering around, so you can kill as many as you want for ridiculous treasure.
Getting first strikes is invaluable against these guys. Now, the last battle was pretty lucrative, but it took forever. There are ways to speed things up, though. For example:
Remember this spell? It may take a couple tries to overcome the captain's resistance, but the captain's huge 750 HP gets siphoned off to turban guy, and the captain gets stuck with turban guy's mere 195 HP. Guido can potentially three-shot him from here. The only problem is that turban guy also swaps his great MP away, but since the captain needs MP to cast his Bow "spell" turban guy does get back a little bit of MP in return.
If I wanted to, I could get into an easy combat and have my party rough turban guy up a bit before taking on the captains so that he could cast Change with double-digit HP, sticking it to the captain even harder. I'm lazy, though, and don't want to make an already risky endeavour riskier by bringing his health down to the point where he's liable to get taken out by Bow.
(Theoretically I could just cast Exit and potentially be done with it, but Change has a much higher success rate--these guys have a good level of magic resistance, so even at level 3 Exit is a terribly long shot.)
Even so, I could get into some trouble doing this, but Fry manages to not be useless. The Life spell actually has pretty decent accuracy as long as you have absolutely no equipment penalties; I removed Fry's bow for this fight, since even the flame bow isn't enough to scratch these guys anyhow and bows all have a horrible penalty for spellcasting. It's still not perfectly reliable at level 1 unless you have a really nice Soul score, so there's some luck involved in this approach.
Criticals ignore defense, so Marty actually manages to get back some of her own.
A couple of bolt spells later the captain drops more loot. Unfortunately, the Curse spell is terrible; it has a decent effect, something like half attack and defensive power for the target, but compared to simply killing stuff outright this is still a waste of a turn even if it works. The few enemies that you might actually want to use it against are pretty much all immune, too.
Thankfully, while it sucks in battle the Curse spellbook is not exactly worthless. Ka-ching!
Not nearly as many stat ups this time, but turban guy does get an easy MP increase--since casting Change gives up almost all his MP (unless he manages to target something with super high MP reserves), it's almost guaranteed to trigger an increase.
Marty is getting a bit tired of spending most of the fight splattered across the captain's shield, so we'll try a different tack this time.
Again we have to rely on Fry's somewhat dodgy resurrection magic, but we get lucky, and...
Swing and a miss!
The captains have a lot of goddamned attacks, so just to be on the safe side turban guy casts Blink a second time to make sure Marty continues to dodge them all (the spell stacks.) Then the captain takes the opportunity to remind the group that he has a 100% accuracy special attack.
That's easily remedied, though. The captain can't use his Bow attack now, and it's damn near impossible for him to land any physicals, so turban guy can safely swap away his MP in order to get rid of most of the captain's HP--it's not like turban guy needs his MP to spam defensive or healing spells anymore.
Guido gets Bolt up to level 4 (!) Normally this would take another dungeon or two at best, because by the time you reach level 3 you're getting hardly any skill points from goblins and zombies and crap, but since they're so strong captains give out more skill points--especially since he's cast bolt about 25 or so times in the past three fights.
More importantly, though, the third captain drops the most powerful spell in the entire game:
It's going to be a while before this really becomes effective (among other things, it's basically useless as long as Guido's rocking his dual shields, since combined they impose an absolutely ridiculous penalty on spells), but when it does... well, there's a reason Guido's job description is "magic-wielding ubergod." The extra stat boosts and skill ups from the captains are nice, and so is the money and overpowered magic bow, but this is the real reason to go to the trouble of taking down captains. With the Toad spell in hand, it's time to get back to the quest and start playing "normally" for a bit.
Altea is so empty now in the aftermath of the Warship attack, but at least creepy emo guy is gone.
You can see how expensive Inns can get when you're blowing a couple hundred MP a battle through Change spell shenanigans.
The ragtag rebel forces continue to grow, although the vibe I'm getting is definitely more "refugee" than "badass guerrilla commando."
And not even just refugee, but stupid refugee.
: "Is there anything turban guy can do?"
: "I'll stay here and try to ease his pain. Fry, you must stop the Warship."
Farewell, you crazy overpowered bastard. Sadly, this is the last you'll see of turban guy and his ridiculous pile of spells leveled up far higher than any reasonable player could ever be expected to. In the portable remakes he does come back later on for the bonus sidequest content, though, so whatever training or equipment you give him isn't going to go to waste in that version. Doing a little bit of grinding with him can actually make your life a bit easier when you get to that point, in fact, although his starting spells are good enough that you can potentially get by with nothing but clever use of his spells.