I gave up chaining at 45, with my team member's levels at 12. Stupid Mimics. I healed at the next Save Crystal, before heading to fight the next boss.
Mimic Queen — HP = 4073
Despite the relative high HP, the boss itself is not too difficult. It's assisted by Tiny Batteries, who's only real effectiveness is in hurting you slightly while you're taking care of it's mother. The strongest attack it has is Shockstorm, which deals a moderate amount of damage to your entire party. This is easily healed via Cures/Potions. There's room for some impromptu levelling in this battle; the Tiny Batteries are easily killed. However, there's no real point; it's much simpler to simply kill the Queen.
Once you're done, the dungeon exit begins to collapse; the team flees as it collapses. We emerge in the Dalmascan Estersand, and have to return to Rabanastre. I take the chance to save at a nearby Crystal, before setting out once more.
Enemies I once struggled with now fall in single blows. Given this disparity in strength, I decide to head to Nalbina to consult the noticeboard for Marks. And before you ask: I'm not returning to the dungeon. I'm going to the front door, you could say. This might make me the world's most inept escapee.
A merchant offers me his wares in front of Nalbina, asking me to buy something because his daughter needs medicine. Of course, I sell him my loot.
Gil Total = 18633
However, he has no useful wares. So I don't buy anything.
Upon entering Nalbina town, I'm greeted to an awesome CG introduction for what is, really, a rather small, dingy town. Huh.
I stroll through, buying what I want from the merchants — including a 7000 gil Poach Technik. I also pick up a Foe: HP = 100%, which is perfect for Stealing. I buy an Iron Sword for Vaan, and still the weaponsmith lacks two-handed weapons. Some new equipment for Fran and Balthier seals the deal.
Gil Total = 6583
I find the noticeboard, and accept a hunt for the Flowering Cactoid. To accept it, I need to talk to Dantro, who's in the Outpost. I do that, and he directs me to the Yardang Labyrinth... which I just walked through. *sigh*
I also need to take the flower from it's head when I kill it, as it's a useful medicinal herb. I soon find the little devil.
Mark — Flowering Cactoid — HP = 755
It's not a hard enemy itself; it's main threat is in it's Blind-causing attacks, and it can also use 1000 Needles, the signature attack of the Cactuars. And my team's HP is below 500. Yeah.
Thankfully, it's kinda pathetic apart from that.
I head back to Dantro, who gives me 10 Potions and 500 Gil. He also tells me to give the Flower to his wife; this is part of another sidequest which I can't start right now, so sod that. With that done, I return to Rabanastre. Once I do so, Basch, Fran and Balthier leave the party. Sucks. Apparently, a system called the Moogling has been setup; all it matters to me is that I can now cross Rabanastre in the blink of an eye. I teleport to the Sandsea, then head to Migelo's Sundries to find Penelo.
Penelo isn't there, and everyone's busy and couldn't give the slightest fuck about Vaan. Vaan, realising that he's unloved, scampers off to Old Dalan because Kytes is busy watching Migelo's shop. Even if there's a clerk or two right
behind him. Sure, Kytes, I believe you.
Old Dalan comments on Vaan's time spent in Nalbina, which shows how badly that secret is kept. Dalan gives me a sword to give to someone called Azelas; Vaan calls it a "sword of the old order". How very Star Wars
. I take the Sword of the Order. Unfortunately, Dalan gave me no clues as to where this Azelas was, and considering that I have two towns and various non-hostile places to visit now, this may take some time to cover. No, wait, there's a mark on my map and he's one zone in Lowtown away. Yeeee.
I head over there and find the unfortunately-named Balzac. I'm ushered into a room (although I'm not sure of where the entrance is). We're soon re-introduced to Basch, who's had a shave and a haircut. He's downgraded his outfit to a rather lame one; he argued with the other members of the resistance. As it turns out, Azelas is Vossler from earlier. Vossler and Basch squabble like kids, then Basch joins my party properly.
"Our paths keep crossing yours and mine. It's more then coincidence." "It's annoying."
If you say so, Vaan. He also says that they couldn't have escaped from Nalbina without Basch, although all we really needed was his cage, considering how quickly I levelled shooting Skeletons in the face. Basch always joins your party at your team's-average-level-plus-two, so he's at Level 14 with almost four-hundred License Points to play with. Because I'm a courteous fellow, I go to see Old Dalan. It's also easy access to the Moogling once I use the nearby gate.
Speaking of Dalan, where did my Sword of the Order go? If it's the sword Basch is not equipped with, I can only wonder as to why the Order were equipped with Mythril Blades, since those are worse then Iron Swords. Dalan wagers that a sky pirate would be off, having a meal and a drink. Taking the message, I head over to the Sandsea via the Moogling. Vaan and Basch get their issues out of the way — or, rather, Vaan gets his issues out of the way while Basch apologises.
"You don't have to keep apologising... you didn't kill my brother. It was the Empire." Good thing you see sense, Vaan.
While my gameplay-time is being inflated by the fact I'm typing this liveblog as I'm playing, it seems that Vaan's character development is being rather rushed. All the same, I head to the Sandsea, I find Migelo and Balthier arguing. Penelo's been kidnapped by Ba'Gamnan, that sneaky Bangaa from earlier. Vaan offers the Goddess' Magicite to Balthier and Fran if they'll take him and Basch to Bhujerba, where Penelo's been taken — this is despite the Archadian fleet massing there. You're incredibly reckless, considering that you just broke out of an Imperial prison, Vaan... and
you're with one of the most infamous faces in Rabanastre. Geez...
Anyway, Balthier and Fran join my party and tell me to head over to the Aerodrome. I laugh at this and decide to do some sidequests and shopping instead. I accept a hunt for the Wraith; the petitioner's in Lowtown. I use the Moogling to head over to the Muthru Bazaar to look at Gastly's offer. While I'm there, I see a lonely Viera on the stairs leading to the Clan Hall. She's Kjtn, and she's part of a sidequest. You talk to her four times throughout the game, and your responses change what items she gives you. I choose the optimal reward, and thus tell her that: "Yes, you should be ashamed." I find Gastly, and he's put an item on the Bazaar for me: it's an expensive item that induces certain enemies to drop special Loot. It's worth 18,000 gil, so I'll need to save a bit.
I strike up a chat with Montblanc at the Clan Centurio Hall, and he gives me two Warp Motes, two Teleport Stones, 150 gil, 200 gil and 300 gil. and sends me on my way. The Marks he offers are too strong for me at the moment, so I head back to the Sandsea to do some shopping. I buy the Libra and the Charge Techniks, both of which are very useful. I also now take the time to obtain the Grimoire's in the Bazaar.
The Grimoire's are similar to the things Gastly put on the Bazaar; indeed, he gives you the first. The rest are found by talking to shopkeepers repeatedly; talking to a Mark Bulletin Board forty times gets you two. Here I go... another for talking to a Magicks merchant twenty-five times. A fourth, armour merchant fifteen times. And a fifth, a weapon's merchant thirty times. There's also one for talking to merchants a hundred times in total, but eh. I'll get it doing this incredibly tedious task.
Amal's weaponry shop stocks Javelins, so I buy two; one each for Fran and Balthier. With that done, I go find Milha, the Petitioner for that Mark. She directs me to go the place where I fought Dire Rats at the start of the game and later, the Firemane. The ghost's apparently motivated because some stupid douche has been wantonly killing rats. After equipping Basch with some new equipment and spending his License Points, I hope to it and head to the Garamscythe Waterway.
Mark: Wraith — HP = 5146
The first thing to recognise about this Mark is it's undead nature, so Potions are a fine weapon against it. It does cast Doom on my characters, but I have Phoenix Downs, so it's not as if it's really a threat. However, it soon becomes faster to simply hit it with my new Javelins, since those do about fifty more damage then a Potion does. The Mark is quickly felled.
I collect my reward (Ether, 500 Gil and Gauntlets) and am given an amusing cutscene. In the house, I pick up a Dusty Letter.
And now, to Bhujerba!
Now then, damage dealers. In XII
, I use Balthier and Fran as my damage-dealers of choice, although Basch could also do it. Best used with a Tank, their main purpose is to fend off enemies with herculean attack power and lightning speed. They are best given powerful two-handed weapons, like Greatswords, Spears or Crossbows. They are the prime users of such awesome weapons as the Zodiac Spear.
Heavy Armour is probably the best choice here, since it boosts up their strength. Accessories like the Cameo Belt (prevents blocking) or the Bubble Belt (doubles max HP) are useful; the best are the fantastic Genji Gloves, which you can steal from Gilgamesh. Since they lengthen combo times, it becomes very easy to demolish enemies with impunity and a powerful weapon.
There are a number of workable Gambit set-ups. The below is merely an example. You can also use the HP Critical set-up, but it isn't so great that I need to recount it immediately. If you're using a Holy-imbued sword,