The rules of the Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta are simple: each time one of the four crystals gives you a new set of jobs, you randomly pick one to keep. One job from each crystal: that’s it. You can mix and match however you like, but you can only use abilities from those four jobs, and you have to have one of each in your party at all times.
I’d been following the Fun Club thread at Talking Time, but I wasn’t going to participate. After all, I’m already neck-deep in a Final Fantasy Tactics challenge run, and I wasn’t looking to do an FF5 replay anytime soon. But then Theatrhythm came out, which made me want to replay every FF game ever, so I figured why not.
(You’re supposed to use some Twitter shenanigans to get your job picks, but I didn’t feel like re-activating my Twitter thing, so I just used good ol’ random.org.)
My Wind Crystal job was Thief, which almost scared me off the challenge right then and there. Thieves are pretty weak, and I’d have to use a party full of them until the Water Crystal, which didn’t sound like much fun. Their attacks are weak, and the first town doesn’t even sell Daggers, so I would have to do the Ship Graveyard virtually unequipped. On the plus side, innate Vigilance meant I’d never have to worry about back attacks!
I quickly learned that Thieves had another advantage I’d always overlooked: the !Flee command enables you to skip random encounters. Whatever else happened, if the going ever got too rough, I could always just make a beeline for a save point or dungeon exit to regroup. This boiled the game down (mostly) to a series of boss fight challenges, which sounded a lot more manageable to me.
The first boss is the mean-looking lobster dude in the canal. Not much I could do here but attack, and use Potions where necessary. Fortunately, that’s about all it takes to kill it.
A couple of Daggers dropped off the Skeletons here, so I was able to get my damage output somewhere respectable.
I wasn’t expecting to have difficulty with Siren. Partway through the fight she turns undead, and I figured, hey, I can just chuck a Phoenix Down or an Elixir at her. This is where my ignorance of FF5 began to shine through, because apparently that trick doesn’t work in this game. (Or, at least, it doesn’t work 100% of the time.) I managed to skate through the fight on my Daggers, but it was touch-and-go for a couple rounds.
Magissa and Forza
I had to lose this fight twice before I came up with a workable strategy. Magissa is not a big deal; she uses attack magic, but nothing some quick Potions can’t stay on top of. The trouble begins when she summons her boyfriend Forza, whose powerful physical attacks can one-shot a Thief on the front line. This meant I had to switch everyone to the back row once Forza showed up, which enabled me to survive but slashed my attack power in half. Magissa is nearly dead by this point in the fight, but Forza has lots of HP. The fight became a war of attrition; as long as I had Potions he could never beat me, but once I ran out it was all over. That ended up happening, and I had to run back to town to restock. After many rounds of 20-damage hits, though, he finally went down and I got on with my life.
Judicious use of !Flee allowed me to get my Elven Mantle without any trouble.
Oh good, it’s just the Forza fight again, except with more HPs! Fortunately, I had been dutifully !Stealing from each new monster in a hungry grab for resources, and discovered the Wyverns in Walse Tower yeild Mythril Knives. Four of these brought my damage output to the next level, and Garula wasn’t much of an issue.
I was pretty stoked to get my Water Crystal job, because I was getting a bit tired of the Attack/Potion/Attack/Potion/!Flee routine. Alas, my desire for deeper strategy was destined to go unfulfilled: my new job was Berserker. This meant that all White, Black, Time and Summon magic would be forever denied to me. It also meant I’d have to figure out a way to get through several already-pretty-tough boss fights without anything but physical attacks and Potions. Eventually I’d be able to give my Berserker the Artful Dodger ability to increase his Speed, but someone would have to master Thief first, and that was still a way’s off.
!Steal proved its worth over and over again here, providing an easy and endless source of Ethers and Hi-Potions. One of the treasure chests is a Moonring Blade, which would allow one of my Thieves to hit from the back row at no penalty.
This boss has three forms, and each form has different properties. I never bothered to learn what they were, though, because normally you just summon Shiva to end the fight before it starts. I didn’t have that luxury this time, though, so I had to do some figuring.
The three forms are Man, Tornado and Hand. The boss mainly attacks by countering damage, so if you need a breather you can just lay off and focus on healing. (Or, rather, you could as long as you don’t have a goddamn Berserker on the team.) The Hand’s counter is most deadly; it casts Fira on one of your guys, which at this level is pretty much a OHKO. The Tornado’s counter is to cast Fira on itself, healing lots of HPs. The Man counters by using Blaze, which hits the whole group, but can be somewhat easily healed.
The boss’s weakness is its limited MP. By laying off the Hand, but hitting the Tornado as much as possible, I was able to get it to Fira itself dry. All I had to worry about then was Blaze, which is a free spell, but by that point the tide was in my favor. Hurrah!
I ran the Karnak escape sequence twice. On a normal game you have no problem getting all the treasure (Elixirs, mostly) in the time limit, but there was no way my team would manage it. Fortunately, failing my first attempt gave me enough insight to breeze through my second. I pocketed lots of gil, and a Ribbon, and another Elven Mantle, and a Main Gauche (which, surprisingly, was an upgrade from whatever axe my Berserker was using). In addition, you can !Steal Mage Mashers from the wizard guys in here, which means the whole team got an upgrade.
I could see this fight going bad, but it didn’t. Attack until gg.
At this point the game awards you with three of the Fire Crystal jobs, and I wasn’t sure how to proceed. Should I roll for my third job now, or wait until I had all five became available? The benefit to rolling now was a 3/5 chance of increased abilities for the next dungeon. However, I decided to tough it out with what I had.
The same strategy that worked against the Liquid Flame worked again here, with this addition: my Mage Mashers were able to inflict Silence, thus removing Fira from Ifrit’s spell list. I still had to contend with Blaze, but he wasted too many rounds, and I outlasted him.
This guy, on the other hand, this total speed bump nothing guy from any “normal” FF5 playthrough, was a nightmare and a half. Byblos is a prime example of a few really annoying traits coming together to make an almost unkillable boss. The first complication is, he counters physical hits with Protect. So the fight stretches out twice as long as it needs too, right out of the gate.
Most of his attacks are status ailments, which weaken you a bit but can’t actually win the fight for him. His physicals were harsh on my front-row Thieves, but I had farmed up lots of Hi-Potions, so this wasn’t an issue. The issue was Wind Slash, which took a huge bite out of my entire party. With three Thieves working overtime issuing Hi-Potions I could recover from this, but it was going to take a lot of Hi-Potions. I went in with about twenty, and that wasn’t enough, so I went back and farmed up twenty more. Even a team of Slow’d L1 heroes (which is what I had, thanks to his constant use of Web and Dischord) can win this fight, 28 damage at a time if need be, as long as the Hi-Potions hold.
They held, but Byblos had one last trick up his sleeve: at low HP, he starts countering physicals with Drain instead of Protect. This heals him for about 200, and a Berserker with a Main Gauche who hasn’t been hit by Dischord can land 170 on a critical. Running him out of MP didn’t seem to be an option. All I could really do was hope my Berserker landed a couple good hits in a row which either didn’t trigger Drain, or otherwise hope for Drain to miss.
One of my Berserkers got Dischord’d, lowering his damage output to 40 or so. There’s no cure for this other than to just kill the Berserker so he doesn’t get in your way. Too bad.
My next increase in power level wasn’t going to be until someone learned Artful Dodger, which would have taken so much powerleveling that the stat increases probably would have won me the fight. Fortunately it didn’t come to that, and after my third 20-minute battle against Byblos I finally won. This is where someone comes along to tell me of an amazing strategy I missed, or some way for Thieves to deal Fire damage, or whatever. But that won’t harsh my mood; I’d successfully worked through my first real struggle of the game, and was looking forward to the next.
As it happens, the next struggle almost caused me to give up. The Sandworm continuously pops out of one of three holes, and if you hit an empty hole instead of a worm you get nailed with Gravity. Berserkers, of course, don’t discriminate between targets, which meant eating a lot of Gravity. The only way to avoid this was to enter the fight with my Berserker dead.
That left the Sandworm’s main attack, Quicksand. This deals damage to the whole party and inflicts Sap, so your HP slowly drains away for the rest of the fight. This isn’t a problem if you have Hi-Potions, but I was running low, and the plot had conspired to deny me access to my Hi-Potion farming grounds temporarily. The only other place to get them was from a rare monster in the library that doesn’t appear until you’ve killed several lesser monsters.
What was holding me back was a simple mental block. See, right near the desert are giant bird creatures you can steal Elixirs from. Spamming Elixirs in an early game boss fight just didn’t seem right, so for some reason my brain didn’t make the connection right away. But that’s what I had to do to win. (Of course, after spending thirty minutes farming up Elixirs one of the Talking Time guys stepped up with a hot tip abut stealing Hi-Potions from Ramuh, so I spent a few minutes doing that too.)
My third job turned out to be Bard, which is like way-bro-awesome, because Bards are sickeningly broken in this game. A quick trip to Istory scored Romeo’s Ballad, which is an all-but-guaranteed multi-target Stop spell, at no MP cost, that works on many bosses. Spamming this song became my bread and butter. The Cray Claw didn’t even get to attack me.
Another tough nut to crack. This fight starts with two small guns throwing Gravity-type attacks at you. These can’t kill you, but the Soul Cannon itself fires off a huge blast every couple of rounds which can. The problem was, the small guns inflict Old, which reduces your stats to basically nothing. Even if I managed to sneak my Berserker through without getting Old’d, I wasn’t doing enough damage to keep up with the constant laser blasts.
Then someone told me where to !Steal a Death Sickle, which was a monumental damage upgrade. This didn’t help with the luck-driven aspect of the fight, but it brought the battle down from insanely difficult to merely somewhat tedious.
For some reason I always remember this boss as giving me no end of grief, but it did absolutely nothing to get in my way this time. No doubt that Death Sickle helped quite a bit.
At this point I got my fourth job (Samurai) and Galuf left the team. I designated him as a Thief, which meant I was locked in to Berserker/Bard/Samurai for the World One Boss Hoedown.
Romeo’s Ballad prevented them from acting at all, heh heh.
I had been dreading this fight the entire game. Without a full-party heal, I had no idea how I was going to survive his Earth Shaker attack, which he uses upon death. The canonical way to survive earthquake attacks is to use Float, but 1) I didn’t have a White Mage and 2) you don’t get that spell until World Two. I was afraid I was just going to have to powerlevel until my Samurai had enough HPs to survive Titan’s final attack.
Luckily, some research revealed a monster called Gaelicat in an early dungeon that casts Float if you Confuse it. Bard to the rescue once again, with the Confuse-causing Alluring Air song. Within minutes we were floating and Titan could no longer reach me.
Neutered by Romeo’s Ballad… which brought me to World Two!
You fight this guy with just Bartz, and Bartz happened to be my Berserker at the time… so I just watched this fight play out. I don’t think you can actually lose it.
And you fight this guy with just Galuf, who was my Thief. I did that so I could start stealing Genji equipment, but apparently he doesn’t carry any during this first fight. Total bummer.
Again with the no Genji equipment. Was my memory playing tricks on me? Residual traces of FF12 clogging up the neurons? Oh well, Samurai and Berserker took care of him pretty quickly.
Every FF game has one undead boss you kill by chucking a Phoenix Down at. This is that boss.
Apparently isn’t immune to KO, because my Berserker proc’d Death off his Death Sickle and won this fight in about eight seconds.
Gilgamesh #3 + Enkidu
Gilgamesh isn’t a problem in this fight, but Enkidu is. You can’t focus on killing Gilgy because Enkidu uses White Wind to heal the both of them. And focusing on Enkidu causes him to start Draining you. Aagh! Shades of Byblos! To make matters worse, Enkidu is in the back row, so physical attacks do half damage to him.
After a painful loss (lots of cutscenes to re-watch) I swapped some equipment around. Giving my Dancing Dagger to my Berserker and hoping for a fortuitous Sword Dance proc turned out to be just the edge I needed; that dealt way more damage than Enkidu could Drain back, letting me win the fight. Oh, and I stole some Genji Gloves, so my memory wasn’t totally stupid.
This is a trick fight no matter what jobs you bring. He spams Comet until someone dies, and then starts dragging the corpse across the map to eat it. As long as he’s in corpse-dragging mode he can’t kill another character, so if you leave one guy dead and then revive him just before he gets snarfed, you can get in a lot of hits. Problem is, with my team’s low damage output, I wasn’t sure I could win before everyone got eaten. I cut it pretty close… in the end, everyone was just a few pixels away.
!Zenigage, followed by !Zenigage. These guys don’t mess around, so I didn’t either.
You can !Steal the Genji Helm from him after he transforms, but other than that it’s the same old Gilgy. Since last time I saw him everyone had gotten a nice, beefy weapon upgrade, and I had also gotten my first mastered Thief. A Berserker with Artful Dodger is a wonderful thing.
I tried to win this fight legit, honestly I did. But Exdeath throws powerful spells way too rapid-fire for a team with no multi-heals and no burst damage to survive. Fortunately one of my YouTube subscriptions yeilded the answer: equip Reflect Rings, have someone !Hide, then survive until he uses Zombie Breath. Since Zombies can’t be killed, and your !Hidden character can’t be targeted, it’s impossible to lose the fight in this state. Then it’s just a matter of waiting for him to use Level 3 Flare a few times, which will bounce off your Reflect and deal 3000 damage to him. I ate tacos and watched a whole episode of Breaking Bad waiting for Exdeath to finish killing himself.
And that brings me to World Three! I was surprised to see I cleared World Two in record time; a little over four hours. (Keeping in mind some of that was letting the game sit idle, because I play it at work and have to divide my attention.) I think that’s because in a normal run I spend so much time filling out spell lists and banging my head against the Gil Turtle and what-have-you, whereas this time I pretty much just kept on task. No point going out of your way to hunt Catoblepas when there are no Summoners in the party, right?
You only get two heroes for this fight, but then, he’s kind of a pushover. I pretty much just pummeled him.
The Gargoyles are annoying because if you don’t kill them at the same time, or at least very close together, they will continuously revive each other. And with a Berserker on the team actually timing your hits can be very difficult… especially with low damage output like mine. (I could have grabbed the Chicken Knife before this fight, but I forgot about it.) !Zenigage could have mopped up here, but I pretty much just gunned it hoping I’d get lucky, and eventually, I did.
This was a long, arduous dungeon I never would have made it through without Romeo’s Ballad. (Or remembering to get the Chicken Knife. Heh.) But I looted the entire place, by thunder, picking up a nice Earth Hammer for my Berserker. Now, at long last, I had a semi-reliable way to damage multiple targets! (My Samurai had a Wind Slash, but its attack power was too low to use in general fights. Go figure.)
With Reflect Rings handy Melusine couldn’t actually damage me. Her attacks served to heal her, of course, but never for more than I could dish out. She has four “forms”, only one of which is susceptible to physical attacks. However, that one form was taking punishment from a maxed out Chicken Knife and a pretty pissed off Berserker. The fight dragged on and on, but my victory was really inevitable.
At this point the game opens up considerably. The idea is you’re supposed to run around the world completing subquests to unlock all the endgame spells and equipment, but I decided to skip most of it because it just didn’t pertain to me. I did swing by the Sealed Castle to pick up a Rune Axe, Masamune and Apollo’s Harp. The Masamune in particular was nice, because it guarantees first strike, so equipping it and !Flee onto my Samurai made avoiding combat trivial. I also visited the Phantom Village for four sets of Hermes Sandals (auto-Haste) and completed the chocobo sidequest for a Mirage Vest (auto-Blink), picked up my Magic Lamp (free summons), and filled out my !Sing repertoire. The new songs included Sinewy Etude (Strength buff) and Hero’s Rime (increase party’s level), both of which got plenty of use.
And so with a team around L30, it was into the Rift with me!
…is vulnerable to Silence. Pulling out the ol’ Mage Mashers was the key here, then I simply whacked her to death.
…is vulnerable to Stop, and therefore chain-casting Romeo’s Ballad is a winner. However, he only stays Stop’d for a very short amount of time; even two Haste’d Bards !Singing full time will let him sneak an attack in once in a while. And without proper equipment (much of which I didn’t have) a single attack will destroy me. So I had my actual Bard !Sing Swift Song, which increases everyone’s Speed stat, and then had two other heroes with !Sing carefully timing their use of Romeo’s Ballad while the Berserker killed Omega with the Chicken Knife. With Hermes Sandals and Artful Dodger, the Berserker got to attack between each layer of Romeo’s Ballad, and after a couple tries to get the timing worked out I was rewarded with my very own Omega Badge. Huzzah!
A tough fight, but with three strong, fast attackers under the influence of Sinewy Etude, he didn’t last long.
This is an optional battle, but winning it opens a save point right in front of a few other tough non-optional bosses, so I wanted him dead. He essentially uses Blue Magic nonstop, which is notorious for being a random grab-bag of effects. Blue Magic is incredibly powerful if used properly, but I was hoping the RNG was too dumb to use the right spells and that I could get lucky just pounding the boss into paste. And that’s what happened. Thanks for the save point, noob!
This boss spams Earth Shaker like nobody’s business. There was simply no beating him without Float. I’m sure there are better ways to get Float at this point in the game, but I was pretty comfortable on the couch and didn’t feel like getting up to check the wiki, so I just ran out of the dungeon and paid a visit to my old pals the Gaelicats. If you’re Floating, Catastrophe opens with 100 Gs, negating the status. Bleeh. With Reflect Rings on, though, 100 Gs bounces off, and what’s better, he’s too stupid to try anything else. In other words, I could have won this fight barehanded with a single character.
Aside from Frogging everyone right up front, I didn’t note anything difficult about this boss. He didn’t seem to have any multi-party attacks, and I had lots of Phoenix Downs. I actually got use out of my Mana’s Paean song, using it to buff the party’s Magic and then using the Magic Lamp to summon Bahamut and Leviathan. (The Magic Lamp casts each Summon in order, beginning with Bahamut and working down. The next spell in the cycle was Odin.)
Odin, by the way, happens to be a OHKO against this massively difficult boss. There’s even a book in the last dungeon that clues you in to this.
Stole the Genji Shield from him, then he ran off.
After the Sandworm, this had to be the hardest boss in the game. He starts out surrounded by four barriers that spam Holy and Flare at you. They bounce these at you, meaning you can’t Reflect them. The only feasible way to win this fight was to spam !Zenigage to take the barriers out before they could kill me with high-level magic. Of course Necrophobe himself has lots of high-level magic, too, so Elixirs were my only reliable way to heal. Eventually Gilgamesh shows up to finish him off for you, and I used the opportunity to steal his Genji Armor.
Exdeath and Neo Exdeath
Exdeath’s first form isn’t a pushover, but his most dangerous attacks are all single-target, so I wasn’t worried about it. His second form has a spell called Amalgest which deals way more damage than my party had HP. (My highest HP total was 1400; my lowest was 750.) The only way to avoid Amalgest was to kill the portion of the boss that uses it before it could get it off. Which, even with my Chicken Knife and Masamune, wasn’t going to happen.
Then someone reminded me that level factors into !Zenigage’s damage calculation (something I should have remembered, honestly), and that I could use Hero’s Rime to beef everyone’s level. Letting Hero’s Rime run the entire time my Berserker was soloing Exdeath’s first form brought my !Zenigage damage up over 8000, so a couple volleys was enough to take the boss out before he was able to inflict a single point of damage.
The next spells in the Magic Lamp cycle were Carbunkle, Catoblepas and Golem, so I went into the finale form with Reflect and a physical damage wall up. That turned out to be overkill, but hey, overpreparing is what FF5 is all about.
I decided against doing Shinryu, because it would require the same Zombie/Reflect/!Hide strategy that World Two Exdeath required, which is boring and mindless and stupid. And while I feel bad about skipping most of World Three, I have to say I’m still pleased I managed to complete the game in 20 hours at the lowest levels I ever have (32/30/32/32).
My overall assessment of the team is that Bard is almost game-breakingly good, first because of Romeo’s Ballad and later because of Hero’s Rime. !Zenigage is the same way, and I’m not sure how I would have gotten through a few sticky spots without it. Aside from that, though, the combination of Thief and Berserker has got to be the worst possible draw from the first two crystals. Literally any other job from either of those crystals would have given me far greater access to damage output, healing, or both.
Thief in particular was a really strange job. It has lots of powerful advantages: spotting passages, no back attacks ever, stockpiling items early on. But these advantages really only shine if you’re in a party of weak heroes… say, oh, mostly Thieves. In that sense they’re a lot like the Wh.MAGE from FF1; sure, Wh.MAGEs can CURE and RUSE and HARM, and all those things are great, but they’re really only required if you’ve gimped your team by putting multiple Wh.MAGEs on it in the first place.
Berserker, on the other hand, is probably the worst job in the game. With one on the team you lose any capability of focusing fire or timing your attacks properly; the only way to avoid triggering a boss’s counterattack is to incapacitate your Berserker. To compensate for these drawbacks, Berserkers get one of the worst weapon selections in the game. Axes and hammers have low hit rate, and there aren’t very many of them. Rune Axe — the “legendary” Berserker weapon — is particularly weak for the point in the game where you find it. Thor Hammer is an upgrade (defensively as well as offensively, since the Berserker can throw it from the back row), but he still can’t outdamage a Samurai. I can’t imagine he could outdamage a Knight, Monk, Ninja or Dancer either.
I did have a lot of fun with this challenge and will probably do it again next year. This is like a yearly thing, right?
In any event, back to Theatrhythm for me. See you!