Part 24: Somebody call CPSPart 16: Somebody call CPS
Are you ready for this? I'm ready for this. This would be the hardest fight in the game if I didn't have Karna, but luckily I do.
So I took Bowie's quote out of context, mostly because I was wrong in the last update about the last time he talks. I swear this is his last line, though.
You know, if Astral had kept his mouth shut, Zalbard probably would have just handed over the Ground Orb and left us on our merry way.
Think those stats on Zalbard are scary? Those don't say the half of it.
I'm not going to be letting him exercise those crit and double rates, though. Just you wait and see how scummy I can be. Also, there's a new enemy and a blast from the past.
I have no idea what that gargoyle is doing there. Surprised it wasn't edited out of the fight, really.
Hey, remember what I said last time about the RNG returning with a vengeance? Well that streak of crits pissed me off so much, I decided to do some fact checking in SF2Edit.
Yeah, that'll do it. I just pressed the reset button at that point and started from scratch.
The first wave of enemies is a now-dead wizard and dark knight, with an orc lord on the opposite row between the benches. It's easy to charge too quickly and get gibbed by random criticals, but it's not hard when the RNG flips in your favor.
Like so. I should mention that Kazin has Desoul 2 now, which is the same spell but in an area effect. But because the RNG hates me, I never use it.
Bowie also learned Bolt 2 last fight. You know, that thing that was terrorizing me at the Taros fight, but doesn't really do incredible amounts of damage anymore? Yeah, that one. Still, the range coverage is nice and Bowie has no other use for MP anymore.
But bad placing leaves me without my best attacker. Higins also dies in short order, but fuck him.
Yeah, Bolt 2 is back. Doesn't hurt nearly as badly, but it still catches lots of people, making positioning difficult. It also doesn't help that Bolt has a 25% chance to critical.
This, however, is why I don't really fear area spells anymore. Aura is the area heal spell. The heal amount scales exactly the same as Heal, but it's an area effect. Catch three or more people in a single spell, and Aura 1 is more MP efficient than Heal 1. I don't need to explain why this is a good thing, right?
Regardless, with Gerhalt dead my strategy quickly shifts.
That strategy is get Bowie killed before anyone else dies, thus minimizing gold loss. I had figured that I wouldn't be able to beat Zalbard without performing a gambit where I cast Attack on Gerhalt, but boy was I wrong.
My plan comes to fruition pretty quickly. Don't forget, Zalbard is a boss and can easily triple turn any given character.
Somehow, it's tempting to bench Kiwi, but not. He's extremely fragile by now, but Boost does make him very durable. Also, Breath is amazing and it does have levels 3 and 4. Fun fact: the special breath attack does in fact scale up in the normal game.
Kazin, on the other hand, has hit his expiration date. His replacement is coming right after this fight and is actually a good choice for once.
Funny, I thought this was a rough situation when I ran across it, but I came out with no casualties. Thank the Slow spell once again. Archers shooting debuffed fliers is a wonderful thing to witness.
Both Higins' attack and defense growths are late. I'm starting to wonder how I'm going to get him there.
The endgame of the fight. To be honest, I'm still really scared, but I'm going to be brilliant in a few minutes.
See, Zalbard is really offensive with his spells. If you look at the layout of the map, there's quite a bit of territory where he can't reach with his attack, but can easily reach with Bolt. If you're starting to see where I'm going to go with this, then the answer is yes. Yes, I did spend that much time to beat Zalbard on my second try.
Part one of the strategy is to eliminate all the other enemies. I can't execute this with interlopers critting me for 90% of my HP.
Alas, poor Rick. Triple turned with two spell crits before I could hardly heal him. He's going to be the last one who dies in this fight, though. He will be remembered. And revived, I guess.
Do you see Zalbard's MP bar? Do you see where I'm starting to go with this? Bolt 2 costs 15 MP to cast. That's 17 casts that I have to survive. And I can do it, because I have both Sarah and Karna around.
At this point, I realize that Karna has the most HP out of anyone, and she has the capabilities of healing herself. She's my best candidate for burning out Zalbard's MP.
It took some time, but I did it. Next phase, test out how incredibly dumb the AI is.
Okay, not that dumb, apparently. That's okay. Zalbard has MOV 5. I can adjust.
See, the thing is that without a ranged attack, Zalbard only paces between these two spots:
And Janet's position is just far enough away that Zalbard can't reach her even in the closer spot. The other important part? If you're holding down a button when you tab out of Gens, the emulator will keep reading the input while you're tabbed out. So Janet will automatically attack if Zalbard is in her sights, while everyone else stays put.
It took upwards of twenty minutes to whittle him down, but I had some cleaning to do anyway.
In all honesty, I was sweating bullets that this wouldn't work. Sarah and Karna were down to about 20 MP each, and I just wasn't sure if I had enough firepower to kill Zalbard as he run amok and killed everybody with double crits every turn. I got to circumvent all that, but no other bosses will have terrain like this for me to abuse. It's the last time you get to see me be so sneaky about a boss.
You can call it smart use of terrain or you can call it flat out scummy. I don't care, I killed Zalbard with only losing three characters the entire fight.
Level 17 2 HP/1 MP/1 ATT/2 DEF/1 AGI
Level 13 2 HP/1 ATT/2 DEF/1 AGI
Level 10 1 HP/1 MP/1 ATT/1 DEF/2 AGI
Level 12 2 HP/2 MP/4 ATT/5 DEF/3 AGI
Level 13 2 HP/2 ATT/2 DEF/2 AGI
Level 11 2 HP/2 MP/1 ATT/2 DEF/2 AGI
Level 13 1 HP/1 DEF/1 AGI
Level 15 4 HP/5 MP/2 DEF/3 AGI
Level 12 4 HP/2 ATT/4 DEF/2 AGI
Level 9 2 HP/1 ATT/2 DEF/1 AGI
She then tells us to go listen to a bunch of statues, but I don't think it actually flags anything. It's poorly translated anyway Did you know that Dark Dragon isn't supposed to be mentioned in there at all? We do need to talk to somebody way more important.
The ears indicate she's an elf, but okay.
Also, this guy.
A good replacement.
I only did this one because KataraniSword suggested it, though. Time to make the game even harder!
NEXT TIME: Pointy chins!