RPG Challenge Runs (With Spoilers)

This week, I tried a single-class challenge for Bravely Default after completing an all-Patissier playthrough of Bravely Second. (Well, mostly. I had to switch to Thieves for one room in a dungeon where the party members are berserked in order to prevent overleveling.)

Monk seemed like a good idea at the time, so I used a New Game Plus file.

The rules:

-Level 14 Jobs carried over to avoid JP Grind
-Only Monk commands and passive abilities allowed, except for Obliterate to speed up grinding at high levels
-No Friend Summons, Abilink, etc.
-Hard mode

Essential Monk commands:

-Qigong Wave: This is your standard move. It does 25% more damage than a regular attack and ignores Default for 12 MP.
-Phoenix Flight: If the boss has low enough HP and your characters have full health, use this to help finish them off. Unfortunately, the damage cap prevents it from going over 9999 damage, but any HP over that amount is still drained for the user
-Hidden Dragon: Can be used over Qigong Wave if you want your Special buffs to go before your other attacks, or if you run low on MP. It's a bit like Vital Throw in Pokemon in that it has negative priority.
-Pressure Point: It's a physical attack that ignores defense, but has a 1 BP cost so you can't use it constantly.

Monks need Level 14 to get Natural Talent, which is the class's strength and weakness all at once. Remember Final Fantasy where Monks work best without weapons equipped? Bravely Default Monks work in a similar way, but Natural Talent is much stricter. To get the attack boost, they cannot wear ANY equipment at all. This includes accessories. Even with armor, using Monks is a similar experience to fighting a physical attacker with a Blissey. Bravely Default is a Final Fantasy game in disguise, and has the 9999 damage cap even if enemies have far more HP than that. Therefore, the Monk's only answer to anything is level grinding. There are Elixirs, but you can't buy them unlike in Bravely Second, and there are no "restore HP to maximum" potions. X-Potions barely heal them at all late in the game. The Special counter is reset in Bravely Default whenever you switch weapon types, and the triggers differ by weapon (i.e. get 5 critical hits in the case of fists), so you can't switch to a staff for healing unlike the sequel.

Some highlights:

Chaugmar: This is easy for Monks. Pressure Point ignores its force field that makes other classes do 1 damage to Chaugmar.

Braev: Pressure Point gets you through his high defense, and Qigong Wave ignores his frequent Defaults. Easier than I thought it would be.

Elemental Dragons: DeRosso is a jerk. He will only give you important plot exposition if you kill his 6 elemental Dragons to unlock his castle. I had to level up to 89 in Chapter 5 to beat them, and I still lost to the earth dragon sometimes.

DeRosso: His Gravity elemental attack will make your high HP useless if it hits, because it's percentage based. Fortunately, it misses often enough that you can win. He may also waste turns draining your BP, but beware of a certain physical attack that can KO your entire party at once.

Mephilia, Einheria, and Artemia: Yes, you fight them all at once in Yulyana's sidequest in Chapter 6. After a lot of failed attempts, I rushed Artemia, and then took out Mephilia while Einheria was jumping. (Think of them as a Ranger, Dragoon, and Summoner party from Final Fantasy).

Yulyana: He wasted several of his turns buffing rather than attacking, and the damage cap applies to enemy attacks too.

Airy 1 & 2: They were really easy. Yes, I was level 99 by this point, but I couldn't do the Chapter 7 sidequests, let alone 8 because Monks can't survive their attacks.

Airy 3: This convinced me an all-Monk challenge is impossible on Hard without Bravely Second. She can lower your elemental resistance to with Acedia, and then hit everyone with a 9999 damage Fire attack. Yes, this overrides the Iceflame Shield's immunity to Fire. Ouroboros heals her a few times throughout, so she has too much HP to take out with the Monk's single hit attacks before they die. She has a multihit physical attack, and can poison everyone and then use a move that instantly kills poisoned characters. Bravely Default is clearly a game designed for overpowered parties, unlike Second where you can get away with silly self-imposed challenges. My Patissier party in Second was about Level 72 at the last boss, which is about normal. In Default? My Monk team was 99, and they were still losing.

(Your SP is drained every time you use Bravely Second, whether the game saves or not. So that means 24 hours with your 3DS in sleep mode between 3 SP attempts at a boss. Maybe Monks could do Airy 3 with instant Megalixirs or Specials breaking the damage cap. . .)

The moral of this story is: Monks are bad in the Bravely series. Don't use your "4 Black Belt" party from FF1 here. It will choke at the last minute. Read my overly long post and save yourself the trouble.

My current Hawkeye run in Bravely Second is much easier because they can use equipment and use other weapons' Specials as needed. Most of the challenge comes from their lousy defenses and mediocre Speed (which affects turn order, but turn order is partially random unlike in Pokemon).

I also tend to do single class challenges for Etrian Odyssey games, such as all Princes in 3, and all Nightseekers, Runemasters, and Dancers in 4. Balanced parties bore me in those games. What kind of RPG self-imposed challenges do you like to try?


im the best
is a Pre-Contributoris a Past SPL Champion
I've done about half the Single Class Challenges in Final Fantasy Tactics and I'm the first known player to finish a solo SCC.

These days there's just too many good games to get through and too little time, I mostly just settle for some definition of 100% and minmaxing my party.
I got Etrian Odyssey 5 for Christmas, so I'll mostly be playing with my all-Therian class team (i.e. only Masurao and Rover). I'd like to finish the Hawkeye playthrough in Bravely Second though.

Hawkeye is the replacement for the Spell Fencer from Bravely Default and the Spellblade/Sorcerer from Final Fantasy 5. They usually use two-handed guns, and I used Axes and Bows until the party got to Hartschild in Chapter 2. (You don't get the Hawkeye until then outside of New Game Plus). Unlike with the Patissiers where I leveled them up from 1, I used Job Level 11 for this run. Level 11 gives Hawkeyes Crossfire, an ability with a 25% chance to hit a random enemy with a regular attack after any non-Special attack is used. Yes, this can activate multiple times per attack.

Notable Hawkeye abilities:

Sidewinder: Can hit all enemies for the cost of 1 BP. A bit too weak for me to use in most cases.
Harpoon: Makes physical attacks ignore defense.
Sparrow: This is what I use most of the time. Think of it as a reverse Psyshock from Pokemon. It is magic that uses physical attack, but unfortunately can be Reflected and cannot be used in Ghost status. (Ghost status means a character can only Brave, Default, or cast spells). So much for making Angelo easy. . .It does work on the magic head of Amphisbaena though.
Warhead: Can give elemental properties to the Hawkeye's attacks.
Shrike: An 150% damage attack with a delay of one turn. It can activate Crossfire. Useful if you don't want to attack a boss that turn for some reason, but only 5 Shrikes can be fired at a time.

Sparrow seems underrated by other Bravely Second players, probably because it's normally a late game ability. It hits harder than regular attacks in both random encounters and boss fights without high magic defense.

Overall, using 4 of them tends towards a hyper-offensive style, unlike Patissiers who rely on debuffs and improved healing items. Basically, hit bosses with Special attacks, then hit them with Sparrow and hope for Crossfire to activate. You can beat bosses at lower than the recommended level if you take advantage of Speed boosting equipment. To get around their low defenses, I sometimes start the battle with everyone equipped with shields, and one character activating a buff with the staff Special move Lux while the rest Default.

HAWKEYE UPDATE: The chapter 4 bosses weren't too difficult with preparing Special moves in advance. Anne didn't even get to act once! Anne is normally one of those "hit the real enemy in a group of fakes or face powerful counterattacks" kind of bosses, but abuse of Specials and Crossfire ended the fight in one turn.

Kaiser Oblivion 1 wasn't too bad. He mostly hits with single target regular attacks. Kaiser abilities have the drawback of being a field effect rather than only affecting the user's party, so his physical attack buff helped me too. Bella & Cú Chulainn (sp) round 2 were much harder. It's embarrassing to admit this, but I realized that Special triggers are saved between multiple bosses if you die to the second one. If you lose to Bella and Cú Chulainn, you get restored to full health instead of having to fight Kaiser Oblivion again. Unfortunately, you lose the items you used during those failed attempts. Level 1 Specials, a few Light Curtains (give Reflect status), and lots of Crossfires ended up saving this party.

If you need to level up, be sure to do it BEFORE you defeat Anne. When you beat Anne, all random encounters in Chapter 4 are changed to Ba'als, and Chapter 5 begins immediately with the Kaiser Oblivion fight.

Chapter 5 random encounters are much harder even in beginner areas, so I can't rely on the old "Auto-Default 20 times in fight with Goblins to max out Special triggers" trick anymore. I'll have to check the early dungeons that you don't visit again in the late game to find out if they have harder enemies too.

2ND HAWKEYE UPDATE: Chapter 5 fights were so hard with Hawkeyes that I got levels and money in Grapp Keep. (i.e. use Phoenix Downs on all the undead enemies with Items for All or Halfsies) Since the Bravely series is focused on bosses to the point where you can turn off random encounters, I make an exception to the "Single Job" rule for level grinding to prevent having to spend more time than necessary doing that. Once at the appropriate level, the boss fights are pretty much the same as Chapters 1-4: Use Specials and Sparrow and hope for Crossfires. The low defenses mean you can't really stall with them unless you're extremely overleveled. This run isn't as fun as the Patissiers, since Hawkeyes don't have much in the way of tactics. Maybe I should try a defensive or support class next?
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It's been long enough that they'll forgive me for a double post, right?

The Bravely Second Hawkeye run is going smoothly. It would have been much harder if I decided to be a purist and not allow Level 11 abilities until the endgame, when you normally get the Yokai class. Piestorm (debuffs everything but Speed by 25% for free) was more of an upgraded version of the Patissier's existing abilities, but Crossfire makes up a large part of the Hawkeye's offense. Still, it's New Game Plus anyway, so I might as well show off all the classes' abilities.

As for Bravely Default, if you want to try any restrictions for a New Game Plus, load your maxed-out characters and find out if they can beat Airy 3 with whatever rules you wish. This will save you hours of grinding and pain if you find out that, say, Monks lose every time. Relatively few classes can beat that boss with their native abilities. Attack magic in general is wimpy without multiclassing, as I learned when I cast Holy and did 1 damage. Some jobs that can probably do it:

Freelancer-Has Stand Ground, which gives them a 75% chance to survive a move with 1 HP, as long as they had more than 1 HP before the attack. Think of it as an improved Focus Band from Pokemon.

Merchant-Low Leverage halves damage except for fixed attacks. This would mean they could debuff Airy for free and laugh as they use X-Potions to heal and throw attack items at her.

Salve Maker-They can mix Giant's Drafts to heal and increase their max HP beyond the 9999 cap for Airy's Zeta Flare.

Etrian Odyssey 5 was going smoothly until I reached Amalgolem, the first boss. In the previous games, you usually get a pre-emptive attack, or something that reduces the boss's max HP before the fight. Not in this one! On the first turn, Amalgolem exploded into smaller golems, which killed everyone except for a Rover who was left with 5 HP. Time to level up! The Golem has 3 parts, which are considered on the same line. This means my Hawk can hit them all with its area of effect attack. Masuraos have a slashing attack that can hit up to 4 enemies (but only once per foe), so I might use that too.

Masurao is pretty much the "fast swordsman with low defense" class, and Rovers can summon a Dog or a Hawk. Dogs heal allies and can bind enemies to prevent them from using certain attacks. Hawks can bind sometimes too, but are mostly used for offense. You can only have one Dog and one Hawk per team.

EDIT: Hawkeyes can't beat Diamante with brute force because of its "Mirror" status. This damages a party member whenever one of them attacks Diamante, but a few moves seem to bypass it, such as Specials. My Patissiers got through this battle by taking advantage of Items for All healing with Enopu Mushrooms (auto-revive) and X-Potions, and using Specials over and over with the Item trigger after debuffing the boss. Hawkeyes don't have the defenses or the item abilities to do this. *Checks GameFAQS* Reflect Rings are only available in the last story dungeon, and you can't buy Light Curtains to reflect attacks off yourself. I learned that you can drain the Mirror with weak attacks because it's based on the number of attacks, not the amount of damage done.

EDIT 2: Leveled my characters up to 70 (final dungeon recommends 72 maximum) and defeated Diamante without too much trouble. Yes, it's a stupid way to win, but hey, Hawkeyes don't have healing or defensive abilities.

EDIT 3: Braev has so much HP and physical defense that I had to try different tactics. Condor came in handy, because it makes regular attacks ignore Default. I bought 99 Enopu Mushrooms and used them frequently. When he was at negative BP, I healed or attacked depending on what I needed more at the moment. My characters went for an all-out assault when Braev was on his last "life" (he resurrects himself twice). Bravely Default Monks envy the Hawkeyes right now with their ability to buy Enopu Mushrooms and Elixirs!
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Finally beat Bravely Second with the Hawkeyes. I got sick of losing to Providence's second form, so I leveled up to 80 for more HP. When you don't have defensive moves, you might as well level grind. (Not that grinding takes long in this game.) Providence 1 isn't too bad if you bring Enopu Mushrooms to revive you when he uses Doom status (a bit like Perish Song) and Mandate of Heaven.

Providence 2 has two arms, and each can hit your whole party. My party Defaulted and healed with items until the second phase of the battle started (i.e. when you can actually hurt the boss). Crossfire works on attack items too! To get rid of the arms, I threw Bomb Arms. It was mostly a cautious strategy until the boss had low enough HP to finish off with a Brave rush. Enopu Mushrooms don't work well here because the main part casts Dispel every turn, which removes Reraise. Any buff-reliant classes are going to have trouble here.

In Etrian Odyssey 5, the all-Therian squad is on the second stratum. Be sure to bring area of effect attacks for Amalgolem. Masuraos have Whirlwind, which can hit multiple enemies, but only once per foe. Hawk-using Rovers have Wing Thrash, which hits one row of enemies. Defend when Amalgolem explodes on the first turn, then try to go for the small golems and parts before they can recombine. Focus on the body when all the parts are dead.

On the second stratum, binds from the Hound-using rover became more important. Binds are a bit like Disable or the Cursed Body ability from Pokemon for those unfamiliar with Etrian Odyssey.
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Two kids no brane
is a Forum Moderatoris a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus
I've done about half the Single Class Challenges in Final Fantasy Tactics and I'm the first known player to finish a solo SCC.

These days there's just too many good games to get through and too little time, I mostly just settle for some definition of 100% and minmaxing my party.
I'll probably start one of these soon. Which ones haven't you done?
Played a lot of Etrian Odyssey 5 today. The Therians have made it to the 3rd Stratum, and you get promoted classes when you beat the 2nd stratum boss, a hippogriff. The hippogriff can defend and heal itself for 500 per turn unless you interrupt its turn or bind it. It can also hit with powerful area of effect physical attacks. I had to level up to 30 to beat it, and Haze Slash came in handy when it put the boss to sleep. Hunting Shot from a Rover can inflict binds on the boss, and the Therian Union Skill All-Out Attack can make the boss flinch for a turn. It was nice to see the boss losing its turns to either sleep, stun, or trying to use an attack with a bound body part.

Masuraos can promote to either a Blade Dancer or a Blade Master. Blade Dancers trade most of their defenses for the ability to wield multiple katanas and high evasion. Blade Masters are much more durable and have critical hit skills, but aren't as strong as Blade Dancers. My party is already fragile enough, so I went with 3 Blade Masters. Fortunately, they have several area of effect skills, a binding single target move, and a Lightning elemental attack.

Rovers can become either Hawk or Hound specialists. The Hawk Rover gains more attacks, including an Ice move that hits multiple enemies and a skill that inflicts Blind. Hound Rovers focus more on group healing and binds.

I did a solo Ramza run on Final Fantasy Tactics some time ago. No, it wasn't a Single Class Challenge! I'm not that good. The luck elements in places like Elmdor's castle try my patience as it is. My build was mostly based around the Ramza-exclusive Squire buffs, with low Faith due to Mediator skills. It takes a much better player than me to do a solo playthrough with no Auto-Potion.
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im the best
is a Pre-Contributoris a Past SPL Champion
I'll probably start one of these soon. Which ones haven't you done?
as on discord, for those playing at home

[6:28 PM] Mr.E: let's see I completed squire by proxy of solo challenge, chemist, archer, monk, thief, oracle, time mage, geomancer, lancer, mediator, summoner, samurai, ninja, I don't remember on priest/wizard, def not bard dancer mime knight
[6:28 PM] Mr.E: I do not guarantee the accuracy of my statement 10+ years after the fact
[6:33 PM] WaterBomb: Calculator?
[6:39 PM] Mr.E: definitely didn't do that either
[6:43 PM] WaterBomb: You probably finished black mage and priest
[6:43 PM] WaterBomb: They seem more doable
[6:43 PM] WaterBomb: Maybe I'll take a stab at knight
[6:47 PM] Mr.E: nah cuz they're easy and relatively bland
[6:48 PM] Mr.E: I'd wager I didn't do at least one of them, and there's probably at least one I said I completed and really didn't but who knows
[6:48 PM] Mr.E: (if I completed either it was probably Priest)

edit: waterdumb is retarded and meant solo challenges, in which case Squire's the only one I did (but I was the first!), along with extensive attempts at Thief and Mediator
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I'm playing a bit with a solo run for Final Fantasy 3 DS. One advantage is that your job levels go up quickly because they're based on the number of actions taken per battle rather than experience points. Surviving long enough to get the first jobs is another matter.

Each point in defenses seems to be more important in this game than in many other RPGs. Dual wielding is available from the start, and is not a specific class skill like in later Final Fantasy games or the Bravely series. Yes, this includes shields. Switching weapons does not use up your turn either, so I will be abusing this feature whenever I need to use a healing item or spell. Turn order has some randomness. Your HP gain per level is based on your class, so grinding as a Monk or Black Belt is optimal as far as I can tell.

Inns don't revive fallen characters, like in Final Fantasy 1 and Dragon Quest games. It's good to avoid having to kill off your other characters every time you need to heal!

EDIT: Defeated the Djinn. The first major dungeon can be annoying for a solo character, because Mummies and Cursed Coppers can confuse you. When I see those, I equip two shields and try to run away. Unfortunately, running away has a low success rate unless you're a Thief, and you have no jobs except for Freelancer in the Djinn's cave. Sara joins as a guest character in the middle of the dungeon and does all the work for you by casting Aero and Cure every few turns. She doesn't actually have HP, so think of her more as a bonus action per round rather than another character. It's a good idea to save your Antarctic Winds for the Djinn. Two of them kill him. Without Antarctic Winds, you'll have to deal with a boss that can attack twice per round with sword slashes and Fire spells.

Now I'm not so sure if I want to continue this playthrough. Flee is NOT guaranteed to work. If it has a greater chance of working with high job levels, it might be worth pushing through. Dragon Mountain was annoying. It isn't a long dungeon, but many of the enemies can petrify you, which is instant death for a solo character. This reminded me why I don't usually play solo characters in Final Fantasy games: luck based deaths. FF3 has no save points except for the overworld either, which would make the last dungeon pure masochism if Flee doesn't improve. Maybe a four character Single Class Challenge would be better for this game to mitigate the luck factor.
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I decided to scrap the solo run for Final Fantasy 3 and try a Red Mage only playthrough instead.

Why Red Mages?

-It's available as soon as you beat the Djinn.
-Some short dungeons require casting Mini on yourself to enter, which destroys your physical attack power.
-They can equip shields, making them unusually durable for a wizard class.
-Red Mages can equip some swords, meaning they're not useless if they have to fight in melee.
-Limited spell charges mean that they have to be more strategic in deciding when to cast a powerful spell and when to swing a sword or use an attack item.
-They can revive dead characters without Phoenix Downs, which cannot be bought.
-Teleport is available, which allows them to exit dungeons without having to fight their way out after a boss.

Thief may be another viable choice. They're the fastest 1st crystal class, they can steal rare items, and have great physical attack. The dungeon with the Giant Rat would probably involve chugging Potions, throwing an Antarctic Wind or two, and praying that guest character Desch decides to cast Thundara. (He didn't do anything in my Red Mage run.)
I played a bit with the Red Mages in FF3 today.

First Armor Shop on the surface world:

Viking Helm
Viking Mail
Heroic Shield
Thief Gloves
Black Garb
Black Cowl
Black Belt Ki
Chakra Band

Red Mages can't equip any of this. They may be expensive early on when you have to buy all their spells, armor, and staves, but I won't have that problem anymore now that they're an "obsolete class"! The next town may sell staves that cast free "-ara" spells, which would give me a lot more offensive power. Right now, they're relying on outdated swords and staves that cast Level 1 Spells to survive in the dungeons. Oh well, that's why it's a challenge, right? :)

The Therian class only run in Etrian Odyssey 5 is going better. Blade Master Masuraos have an ability that can slash up to 3 times, and each strike can inflict a random bind. The attack ends immediately if you get a bind. When you have three Masuraos using it and two Rovers also using binding attacks, you'll make even bosses waste a few turns. I may "Rest" them to redistribute their skill points. Resting makes you lose two levels (5 levels in Etrian Odyssey 3), so you don't want to do it often.
My FF3 Red Mages defeated Goldor, who was probably the hardest boss up to this point. Yes, even Salamander and its Fire Breath were harder. Hein was easier too, because Red Mages have Libra to scan him whenever he changes his elemental weakness.

Goldor is tough because he seems to be immune to any spell that doesn't end in "-aga", and you can only have one of those at that point (Blizzaga) on one character. And that was in a treasure chest in the tide cave. In FF3, you have to get 4 of each spell if you want everyone in your party to cast it. I was desperate enough to try hitting him in melee with the Royal Sword and Poison Dagger after all my spells bounced off of him, and it turned out to be the most effective way to fight him. I lost that fight, then went back to town and bought 6 Main Gauches so everyone could dual wield the strongest melee weapon they could have at the time.

Beating Goldor gives you your airship back, and the next destination is Saronia. But Saronia is a point of no return, and Garuda is probably the hardest boss in the game, even if you're using Dragoons like you're supposed to. You don't get to use the equipment and magic shops there until you beat him either. What I'll probably do is grind job levels on some weak enemies, and then grind levels. It may make part of the game too easy, but I'll need it for Garuda and the final dungeon.

The Therian only squad in Etrian Odyssey 5 may be making the game too easy! The Undead King was almost helpless against Triple Strike's binds, and he couldn't regain his defenses and re-summon his minions if he couldn't take a turn. A bind-focused party like this can sometimes defeat FOEs even when their aura on the map is glowing red, which means you're underleveled for that fight. In the first two dungeons, you want to put one point into as many skills as possible to avoid diminishing returns, but when you unlock the promoted classes and can spare some points, max out the skills you use often.
The Therian team in Etrian Odyssey 5 beat the Crystal Dragon today.

It alternates between two "forms" with different moves and defenses. The first resists elemental attacks and is weak to physical moves, while the opposite is true of the second. Fortunately, Masuraos and Rovers have both when promoted. Blade Master Masuraos can Bolt Slash one form and Triple Strike the other, the Flying Falcon Rover can use Ice Peck and Aerial Talons.

The physically-weak form was better for my party because their best attacks can bind its body parts, making it unable to use its most dangerous techniques.

I had to level to 49 and buy better katanas for my Masuraos because the team was losing near the end of the fight on several attempts. Almost all equipment in Etrian Odyssey games is sold in the store, but you have to unlock it by selling items that enemies drop, or gathering materials found in the labyrinth.

The 4th stratum is mostly a teleport maze, but I was used to that kind of thing after playing Etrian Odyssey 3.

If you want to try a solo challenge in an Etrian Odyssey game, do it in the 3rd game. Solo Hoplite is fun with its "heal when defending" passive ability. Subclassing after the 2nd stratum gives you Ninja abilities, including temporary "clones" that are created in battle through sacrificing HP and TP. Tagen Battou is the most powerful attack in the game, and the more clones you destroy when using it, the stronger it becomes.
Garuda was easy. Wait, the hardest boss in Final Fantasy 3 DS was easy for a team of four underleveled Red Mages? How? I'm not sure myself. He decided to only use his physical attack every round instead of Lightning, a much stronger technique that hits your entire party. Maybe Garuda was overconfident and thought he could defeat a party made entirely of a single obsolete class that can't equip most weapons and armor found after first third of the game.

Before the fight, I equipped 3 of my party members with the strongest daggers and swords available to the Red Mage, which were Main Gauches, a Royal Sword found in Hein's castle, and a Poison Dagger. The one member lucky enough to have Blizzaga at this point sat in the back row equipped with two Ice Shields. The daggers did about 150 damage or so with each character on the first round, while Blizzaga hit for over 1000. Melee obviously wasn't a viable tactic for Garuda. I equipped every front-row character with two Ice Shields on round 2 and kept casting -ara spells with them. Garuda fell not long afterwards. Grinding to Job Level 72 helped, I'm sure, but a better party than mine would have hit the boss much harder with lower job levels. This fight came down to luck in the end, unless the AI battle script changes when you're not using Dragoons like you're supposed to or something.

After Garuda died, the shops became available. Still no new armor or melee weapons. Red Mages can take advantage of the elemental rods which cast -ara spells for free. I'll have to test the Golem Staff, which can cast Break and petrify enemies. The -aga spells were available too, as well as Protect and Raise. Why is Protect a level 5 spell in FF3? Maybe I've played too much Final Fantasy 5, where you get Protect much sooner. Then again, my Red Mages don't have any level 5 spell charges yet!
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Tera Melos

formerly Hasukura
I used to do a lot of Dark Souls Challenge Runs ( to the point where there's even an official Fextralife build named after me )

I think the most challenging Dark Souls ( 1 ) run I did was an inverted ( Screen flipped upside down and left > Right ) with the handicap of using a Gamecube controller. Took me about a week to finish it since I already knew the patterns and such to doing an inverted run, but I challenged myself by going in blind with a Gamecube controller and let some group members pick a controller layout for me.
The 5th and final stratum of Etrian Odyssey 5's story has every Pokemon player's nightmare: sliding floor puzzles!

Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 has ice movement puzzles too. In 5, it's disguised as "anti-gravity", but all the dungeons are 2D, so it's fooling no one for long. There are several switches in the labyrinth that can turn off the gravity on that floor. There's one clever part where you can trap an FOE (miniboss) in a corner surrounded by pits once you turn the gravity back on, but the rest is as annoying as you might expect. The final floor in particular has very few switches.

After a while, I decided to murder all the FOEs instead of solving the puzzle to move around them. Hey, I need the experience points, materials, and money anyway, right? :p

The Eternal Tyrant is the final boss. Fortunately for my team, it can be bound and blinded. It seems to take more damage from elemental attacks, so maybe Bolt Slash is the way to go after disabling it. It can spread miasma on the field, which can damage your whole party at the end of every turn. Therians rely more on evasion than high health or defenses, so I might be in trouble here. Time to level up and buy those expensive katanas.
Yay! I beat the Eternal Tyrant with the all-Therian team! It took a bit of leveling up on FOEs to do it, along with a different tactic. I decided to defend and conserve my TP for a few turns because I had a limited supply of Amritas. All Mist helped to increase my defenses, and Soma Primes were much more reliable than my Rover's Medicinal Lick that hits random targets.

Triple Strike and Aerial Talons helped to bind the Eternal Tyrant's head when it tried to use its miasma-absorbing super attack. Feather Storm's blinding effect saved me in the final phase of the fight. The Eternal Tyrant has a lot of HP, but its buffing moves work on you too. Bolt Slash did more damage than Triple Strike, so I used that when I didn't need to add binds. My party was about 58-59 on my successful attempt.

Like other Etrian Odyssey games, 5 has a New Game Plus. You can choose whether or not to carry over your maps, money, equipment, items for sale in the shops, and your bestiary.

For now, I'll try to beat Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 with an all-Landsknecht team. Landsknechts are the heavy armor melee class that fight with swords and axes. Their Force Boost lets them hit for 50% more damage for 3 turns, and their Force Break lets them hit a single enemy with a powerful slash attack. Boomerang Axe means the back row units aren't worthless, and Falcon Slash is an area of effect attack with priority. Hurricane, the ultimate sword skill, prevents them from using any non-Force skills for the next turn.

(Why do they call them Landsknechts anyway? They don't have pikes. . .)
Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 challenge runs are best done out of spite for the game designers. Every time I try to play that game, the bosses' bloated life meters and overpowered gimmick attacks that have a specific team in mind annoy me. Instead of subclasses or promotions like in the better EO games, Grimoire Stones randomly drop after battles to give party members new abilities when equipped.

The Chimera, the first boss of Untold 2, is a good example of the first problem. Before you begin the fight, you can drop the boss in 4 pits to reduce its HP by 1/3, bind its legs, and get about 2 free turns. Even with all these advantages, you can still lose through attrition. Amalgolem from 5 is a much better example of an early boss in an Etrian Odyssey game. It rewards tactics rather than pure level grinding, and the only pre-fight advantage you get is to reduce the number of reinforcements later on. Narmer from 3 is better than Chimera too.

Team Landsknecht relied on several attacks to get past this boss. While its legs were bound at the beginning, I used Blinding Slash with my front row and Boomerang Axe with the back. Blinding Slash is normally not recommended for Landsknechts without accuracy support from leg binds or blinding the enemy, but it was stronger than my other moves. Their Force Break dealt most of the damage after taking advantage of the 50% attack buff from their Force Boost for a couple of turns. Falcon Slash was there for a priority attack.

War Cry on a Grimoire Stone increased the Landsknechts' attack, and a Troubadour Grimoire Stone had a defense buffing skill. No, I didn't win through superior tactics or anything like that. What really happened was the leg bind wearing off faster than normal and not realizing it for a turn. One Landsknecht whiffed a Blinding Slash, which blinded the boss for enough turns to defeat it. Imagine if Focus Blast had a chance of paralysis if it missed.

My levels were a bit higher than I would have liked, but I lost several times at slightly lower levels because of how much HP Chimera had. We'll see how they fare against the Flame Demon in the 2nd stratum. They should have Hurricane by then, and their Force Break scales with their level. If all else fails, I may put points into Blinding Slash. Its accuracy drops with point investment, and its blind chance increases.
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The Basilisk in Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold took about 2 or so attempts with level 16 Landsknechts. It would be a mandatory boss if I were playing Story mode, but I'm playing Classic mode so it's demoted to a sidequest. It's probably because Classic mode sticks to the original Etrian Odyssey 2 plot, while Story mode follows the "protagonist will seal the ancient evil with a self-sacrifice ritual, but somehow finds a way to defeat it for good" that the developers must have thought of after playing too much Final Fantasy X.

Like you might expect, the Basilisk can petrify your party. It can only do this when the eye appears at certain stages of the fight. I don't know whether it's based on how much HP the boss has left, or after a fixed amount of turns. Falcon Slash hits both the eye and the body, and was one of the more powerful attacks I had at that point anyway. Blinding Slash missed and disabled the boss. (An all Landsknecht run is a strange experience. In what other game would you want your characters to miss their attacks?)

The 2nd stratum has some tough FOEs for this team. Tree Sponges and Attack Cacti have counterattacks that can kill your whole party easily, but only activate when hit with physical moves. Guess what Landsknechts depend on for their offense. I managed to kill a few Tree Sponges with brute force, but usually only one party member survived after each battle. Their item drops let you buy better heavy armor, and one quest at the bar asks you to kill three of them.

As for Final Fantasy 3, I only play that in short sessions now. The Red Mage team died to random enemies using Lightning multiple times in the Temple of Time, and level grinding is slow in this game.
I'll probably spend a while ranting about Etrian Odyssey Untold 2's boss design and difficulty curve for a while.

Exploring the labyrinth and fighting random encounters is about the same as in every other EO game. No complaints about that. The bosses must have been outsourced to a less talented development team.

Flame Demon is an early example of this problem. Dealing with its first turn attempt to confuse your party is easy to deal with as long as you use cafe bonuses. Then it starts summoning gel monsters that can explode if you don't kill them quickly enough. When they explode, they kill your whole party unless you are extremely overleveled, use the Protector or Beast's Force Break, or use a level 5 or higher elemental wall move from a Protector or a Protector Grimoire. This is why EO fans complain about the Story mode: all the bosses are balanced with that in mind. Grimoires drop randomly, and there are about 13 classes to pick from in this game, so new players might assume that they don't need a defensive class.

Drastic measures were used to deal with this with 5 Landsknechts: Picnic difficulty grinding.

Picnic is the "auto-battle" difficulty in this game, and I only use it when I've already "cleared" an area and fought a particular FOE already on Expert and need to level up to fight the boss. There's no RNG exploit like in EO3, and no way to get shiny FOEs to appear reliably like in EO4. The only way to grind quickly outside of buying DLC is Picnic.

Even at 29-30, I still lost a few times. Then I bought Bravants to buff my party's attack on turn 1 and unleashed Hurricanes, Boomerang Axes, and Force Breaks. Flame Demon collapsed in a few turns.

I'm not looking forward to Guild Esbat and Scylla in the 3rd stratum.
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Ginnungagap's 2nd boss in Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 is Arachne, another boss that can be weakened before the fight. If you burn the web in her room, she falls from the ceiling and loses about 1/3 of her health. This gives you time to sneak behind her to get a free turn too.

The first time I fought her, she kept binding the Landsknechts' arms, which kept them from using most of their attacks. I decided to use the cafe food that blocks binds for the first 3 turns and won using similar tactics to the Flame Demon fight. Bravants saved the day again.

If my party needs it, I can Picnic grind on the flying eyeball FOEs in the 3rd Stratum now that I've cleared their floor and beat a couple of them on Expert. The status ailment blocking food makes them much less dangerous, and they have low HP for an FOE in this game. The other FOEs are too tough for me right now.

Guild Esbat is the biggest threat right now. Artelinde and Wilhelm are upgraded versions of the playable War Magus and Gunner classes. They have low HP for a boss fight, but if you don't have a Protector or a Beast, you have to defeat them at about the same time, or their Force Breaks will kill you several times over.

Scylla is another infamous boss from Untold 2, but Falcon Slash can deal with the tentacles it spawns. At least I hope so! I'll probably re-allocate my skill points to max out Falcon Slash on my sword Landsknechts for those two fights. I invested skill points into passive abilities, but they require too much investment to be useful at this point in the game.