resistance is futile
As planned I'm moving onto the sidequests for now. I say sidequests, but I suppose it's more like a series of isolated Bonus Boss
fights. In some sense I'm doing this to prepare for the final boss, but in another sense I'd be doing sidequests right around now in any normal game. This is just the time when they should be done. To that end, I'm prioritizing the ones I haven't done before, even if I don't need their rewards immediately. I'm doing them for the sake of doing them.
Let's Play with Flan-chan!
Sakuya! Play! Waiting in Scarlet Devil Mansion.
Two interesting things about this quest◊
. First of all, it's not a duel, or any other kind of limited party arrangement. It requires you to have Sakuya in your party, but other than that you can have a full party of whoever you want. Secondly, it's a 6 star quest, which is rather more stars than the other character quests. Both of these facts should sound ominous, because they are.
is much the same as she was before, except boosted to Bonus Boss
levels. She still counters all magic with Starbow Break, and can still do it randomly anyway. This is now something of a problem, because it kills me. She's also fast enough to often get it off before I can buff on the first turn. Her other attacks are no laughing matter either. Not even Alice is safe from Laevetein anymore.
While I can imagine some ways to deal with a boss like this, the fact that she hides anywhere in the SDM randomly makes it very annoying to repeatedly fight her. I used to abuse running away in order to keep the bosses in place for these sidequests, but that's not an option when they just kill you. Ultimately, the idea of finding her over and over again tries my patience and I decide to put this on hold. Sakuya already has her weapon anyway, so she's a lower priority. Presumably we'll be back later. Maybe.
Alice! If you call yourself a puppet-user than show me that manipulation skill! Come to Muenzuka, alone!
What's with these random things challenging◊
our characters? If they wanna reuse sprites, why not just use old bosses? Somehow I can't bring myself to care about a tire, smiling or otherwise.
Just as advertised, it's a smiling tire◊
. It's just kind of attacks me, but as you've probably realized Alice isn't particularly good at dying. It does over 0 damage when she doesn't block, so it could theoretically kill me, but I gave her Excalibur beforehand so she regenerates 100 HP per turn and it's basically harmless. The question, then, is how to kill it. Alice isn't very good at hurting things. She has exactly one move that does decent damage: Straw Doll Kamikaze. It does around 3000 damage to all enemies and 250 to herself. Yes, she has attacks that hurt herself, but isn't she just detonating the dolls? More evidence that Alice's HP is actually the HP of all the dolls covering her.
Anyway, I run out of bombs when the tire's at around 1/3 HP, so then I just set it on auto-battle. Easy Peasy, and we get an Alice ingredient. I did more damage to myself with Straw Doll Kamikaze than the tire did to me. I suppose I should make armor for Alice as per the voting from last time. Armor takes 2
rare ingredients for tier 7 and 3 for tier 9, but luckily it doesn't take any Orichalcon or Super Agers so it's actually a bit more feasible. Assuming I can farm these quests forever. It takes 6 commons to make a rare, and I already have 3 rares, so I'd have to kill this tire at most 12 more times to get her best armor. Yay. I'll just go for the second-best for now.
Masters are a Protected Species
Youmu Konpaku. The way of the sword is, like all worldly things, impermanent. If you have confidence in your skill, come to the Serpent's Road and show it.
Oh, what's this◊
? Could this have something to do with Youki, Youmu's lost master/father figure? The answer is no, it doesn't have anything to do with that. Masters are actually a generic kind of enemy. You see colorswaps of them every so often. So this is just another smiling tire with more writing skills.
In case you were wondering, the Serpent's Road◊
is the upper half of the Netherworld dungeon. Which, now that I think about it, is a Dragon Ball Z
reference. Or perhaps Dragonball referenced some mythological feature. Not sure. Anyway, that's where the guy◊
Youmu is actually a pretty self-supporting character. She can heal herself through meditation-esque skills, buff herself with various stat-ups, and change stances to be a tank or whatever. Not that that's necessary here. Nowadays she's specced into Human Realm Stance, which has lots of accuracy and critical hit chance, and specializes in single target damage. No reason to change for this guy. Time to start the duel.
And then he petrifies me. Cheater. What is this, some sort of Combat Pragmatist
? I came here for an honorable duel between swordspeople, not some sort of "throw the magic petrify powder" battle. Your style is not impressing me, oh great master! So I try again with an anti-petrify accessory equipped and it's trivial. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. To think I expected something out of this guy. Incidentally, out of pettiness I tried to chop him in half with Youmu's Last Word, but he's immune to instant death.
It's all good though, because he dropped a rare ingredient◊
in addition to the normal quest reward. Now that's
professional courtesy. The Sharpened Blade is of course worth 6 Broken Blades and saves me a lot of time and effort. This is probably irrelevant to you guys, but I could tell that it was a rare ingredient by the shiny gold box. Everything in the game is color-coded or otherwise labeled with icons, which is good for people like me who rely on non-textual information as much as possible. So now I actually have enough for Youmu's ultimate weapon. Assuming I can get my hands on some Super Agers. Which is really the entire trick, isn't it?
There's a tool that I'm one part away from completing. Looking for a hero to help me retrieve the part.
sounds simple enough. The place is the shop Kourindou, which means no running around in dungeons looking for where the boss happened to spawn. Run in, kill a boss, get some Super Ager! Sounds like a plan. The only stumbling block is the whole "8 star quest" thing. Well, there's only one way to find out.
is the Terminator, mk II. And indeed it terminates quite well. A lot of fine craftsmanship went into the terminating process. This is a ridiculously simple boss, but also a ridiculously difficult one. All he does is shoot you. And then you die. If you happen to live, he'll shoot you again. Until you die. His normal attack is all-targeting, and he gets two actions per round. And it does 1500 damage to everyone. That is not survivable. The ever stalwart Alice takes 500 damage while blocking. So she dies in two
Well, that's not quite all
it does. It also has the ever-popular "dispel everyone" ability that prevents me from using stat ups or stat downs to survive. Apparently this ability is called Vortex and Satori can learn it, not that it's particularly relevant. Also irrelevant because the boss is immune to stat downs anyway. I go through a series of experiments to see if he's vulnerable to some obscure status effect like Berserk, experiments made possible by the one turn buffer Reimu can give me with her "immune to physical" barrier spellcard. Unless the Terminator dispels the barrier, in which case there is no buffer. This is the classic "run into the wall repeatedly" technique.
Desperately wanting my Super Agers, I check the Japanese wiki for advice. "On the first turn, cast Power Down with Byakuren." Not entirely helpful, given that he's apparently immune to it. I had even been using Youmu's Commander ability to lower his resistance while trying it. Either he's immune to it or has so much resistance that it's not worth trying, and certainly not worth basing a strategy around. Maybe they buffed him in the 2.04 patch? Curse me and my patch-happiness!
Anyway, the other parts of the strategy involved Alice having a particular set of accessories designed to allow her to live, and then had her cover everyone every turn. This is possible using a combination of Little Legion and another spell that I didn't notice she had (new in the expansion) that covers party members who are in critical. They both have a one turn cooldown and so can be used on alternates turns to constantly cover the party. When they're in critical. Not that this helps me unless A) Alice can survive being hit 5 times at the same time and B) the rest of the party actually gets into critical instead of dying in one hit. The accessories could theoretically help with the first part, so I decided to investigate that first.
Let it be known that equipping exactly what they tell me to equip, going so far as to look up where to get them, makes me pretty uncomfortable. I don't like that kind of walkthrough. But this is an experiment, and it must be done. Can Alice live? Is this even theoretically possible? First of all, they want me to buy a rare and powerful accessories that takes 2 Orichalcons, which as you may recall are my limiting ingredients for weapons. In the interest of science, I give in and buy it.
..after making a duplicate save file of course. The game auto-saves constantly, but the naming scheme for the save files is pretty straightforward so I just copied my file and renamed it Save 3 (the first save is my old pre-Final Boss one). Eh, anything for science. What they want me to buy is an accessory that makes you practically immune to magic but weak against physical. This makes absolutely no sense to me given that the boss does physical attacks, but knowledge is power and I just cheated anyway so why not? As expected, this makes her take more damage and is completely pointless. So I decide that that must have been a typo and get the other one instead, the one that makes you practically immune to physical attacks but weak against magic. Much more logical.
And she still dies. Reducing 500 to 150 is good, but 150 x 5 x 2 = 1500 = dead. So... not quite doable yet. Maybe when she gets better armor. Or maybe there's some trick to getting Power Down to work. Anyway, not doing this yet. The thing about sidequests is that they can be done in any order you want. The original file before buying either accessory is loaded.
Cirno! Baka baka baaaka! Waiting in the sunflower field.
The title of this quest◊
is almost certainly a reference to the movie Seven Samurai
. Except, you know, ⑨. Obviously this is Cirno's duel. Except rather than a duel she gets to fight 9-on-1. Oh, that's fair. In preparation for this fight, and in response to the voting, I buy Cirno's weapon◊
. The Watermelon Bar. I guess it's a popsicle? I suppose that's another meaning of the word ice. Are they all popsicles? That seems plausible.
Anyway, 9 fairies◊
. In this fight, Cirno does what she does best, which is die horribly. Again and again. Traditionally, Cirno is my least defensive character. That's okay in random battles, because she's fast and somewhat unlikely to be targeted. In the reasonable event that she does
die though, she has a ton of extra lives so she can afford to and will be usable in the next battle. Truly a Glass Cannon
That doesn't help her much when she's on her own. Admittedly, the fairies are individually very weak, but Cirno has very few HP and no way to heal. If she's lucky enough to survive the first turn that is. Also, 9-on-1. My first thought is to perma-freeze them so they never get any actions, but only Perfect Freeze has a high enough freeze rate to do that, and it has a pretty long cooldown. So if I Perfect Freeze on the first turn, I'll die on the second. Etc. My only saving grace is that Cirno regenerates with water land gauge, so if I can survive long enough to raise it she'll start healing for 200 a turn. That's a big if though. Just so you know, Cirno can't equip Swords so she can't use the Excalibur I gave Alice.
When in doubt, look at your spellbook! Surely Cirno has some crazy ability I've been neglecting which will turn the tide of this battle! Plus she finally got her unique weapon, which will give her new spells if I allocate growth to it. The answer lies in here somewhere. I quickly narrow it down to 4 key points that I've been neglecting in favor of her basic ice spells with a chance to freeze.
First, she has instant death spells that I haven't used since she was low level. Second, she has a spell reflect ability that lasts a few turns, but not longer than its cooldown. About half the fairies are casters. Third, she has something called Ice Barrier that causes ice damage to whatever hits her. Given that she rarely survives hits, I figured this was pointless before, but it could be useful here. Lastly, her unique-weapon abilities are all physical attacks for some reason. Ice elemental physical attacks, but they use her physical attack stat. Which is... actually higher than her magic attack with this weapon. Which happens to have no magic power on it. This surprises me. Interesting. Given that she's a caster in every other way, I just assumed that she would have a caster weapon. Eh, if it increases her ice damage it's probably better anyway.
So, how can I apply these tools? First things first, instant death doesn't work. I wasn't expecting it to, but I had to be sure. Magic reflect sounds very useful, in that it actually helps me live. In more ways than one, as it turns out. I can't remember if I've ever mentioned this here, but shields are pretty awesome. They reduce a flat amount of damage at a set probability around the 30-50% range, and generally make dangerous attacks harmless, sometimes. Unfortunately, you can't block while using a two-handed weapon or while casting magic, so I tend to ignore shields on my casters because if it's important they'll always be casting. Apparently though, there are some exceptions to this rule, because Cirno can block while casting Reflect. And Ice Barrier. These defensive spells let her block while doing useful things, vastly increasing her survivability. Awesome.
But not enough. This just delays the inevitable. I need to fill the land gauge to start healing, and casting Reflect isn't gonna do that. Ice Barrier fills it a lot faster because each of the counterattacks counts as a separate ice spell, but if I cast Ice Barrier first I won't be Reflecting and will take more damage from the magic. And either way a half-full meter just doesn't regenerate enough to survive. I can also never actually use my attack spells because then I'd stop blocking and die instantly. Luckily, I can use the new physical ice attacks while still being able to block.
And then I get stuck in this paradigm for quite a while. I fiddle with Cirno's accessories while trying again and again with small variations. Do I want to dodge? No, I won't counter if I dodge. How about magic defense? No, the physical attacks are too strong. Physical defense then. Oh, it looks like the lower-right fairy does paralyze, I need to be immune to that. And so on with minimal success. Frankly, it's really annoying to keep searching for the boss' spawn locations, but I seem to have identified all 6 of them. It's faster to search only three of them and then reset though. Eventually the normal enemies start respawning, but they die quick at this level. Mostly I'm just hoping to get a few lucky extra blocks or something. I'm so
close, I just need to survive another turn and start regenerating!
Eventually I give in and check the Japanese wiki's strat to see if I've missed something fundamental. And indeed I have. You can use Commanders in these duels; they don't count against the quest conditions. Oh, that makes things much simpler. Sanae or Remilia can just heal from the back row. Is that all?
Yes, that is all. While Sanae's heal would be marginally useful, Remilia's lifedrain effect is completely awesome. Because it applies to all the counterattacks from Ice Barrier. So instead of accumulating damage over the turn, Cirno just tops herself off between each attack. This also lets her use her attack spells with impunity. Remilia's ability has a cooldown, but even just surviving for another turn or two is enough to make the fight simple. In the end, Cirno is the strongest, of course.
The ⑨ Fairies were not cooperative and just dropped some random junk◊
. That's a Bird Feather for Aya and a Netherworld Peach, which is a super low tier dungeon ingredient. From about stage 6 or so. Also, why was that one 3 stars? It's been one of the harder ones so far.
I can't find the first kanji in the quest description◊
so I'm not gonna bother translating it. Something about a pet that won't take a bath or something. It's Rinnosuke again, and the reward is an Orichalcon. Ooh. 8 stars though. The first step is always to try.
The boss is a five-headed hydra◊
and his gimmick is simple. He gets five attacks per round, and each head breathes a different kind of breath. Which, in my case, means that he hits himself 5 times per turn. He can also do normal attacks instead of breath attacks, but those are rarer. Oh, and he regenerates 999 HP per turn, but that's not really significant nowadays.
I immediately go for a party of Aya, Remilia, Sakuya, Sanae and Byakuren. Remilia gets her new weapon for this attempt, although there's really nothing special about it. More damage, more numbers. Aya constantly reflects his breath, Remilia and Sakuya kill (Remilia is stronger than Sakuya now, if only because her spellcards are better), Sanae buffs everyone and Byakuren debuffs the Hydra. The classic Power Down, Meltdown, and then Unquick for insurance.
The hydra's normal attacks are actually quite strong, and will kill any one of my party members in one hit if the boss doesn't have attack down. If the attacks hit anyway. Unquick lower DEX and AGI, preventing it from dodging or hitting. In the rare cases it does hit, it does 0 damage because of Power Down. Ah, Byakuren how I've missed your brokenness. The sad part is that he also does 0 damage to himself like this. While he's immune to most of his own breaths, two of them do about 1000 damage to him so he averages 2000 damage to himself per turn. Unless he's debuffed.
There's a sketchy moment when the attack debuff runs out right when the hydra happens to get two lucky hits on Remilia and Sanae, but fortunately I had Mokou in the commander slot for emergency revival and the Unquick-induced misses keep me alive until Power Down hits again. Other than that, the battle is fairly slow and steady because the hydra has a lot of HP and of course also regenerates, slowing it down further. It's worth it though, because the Hydra drops an extra Orichalcon◊
for my trouble. Thanks Hydra!
...I wanted to end on a good note. Is that so wrong?
Ending on a good note is good. Congratulations on beating an 8 Star quest!