Final Fantasy Tactics – The Bullshit Lottery, A Lottery Where You Win Bullshit

fft-2018-06-18-17h01m45s794So now we’re off to Limberry to deal with the whole nearly forgotten plotline about the Marquis holding Alma hostage, except he’s not really holding her hostage (remember, Folmarv has her!), but Ramza doesn’t know that. Oh good, openly-acknowledged filler. It would be a four-node walk from familiar territory to Limberry. Between battles, we decided it was time to move Arthur out of Dragoon, and to begin his Ninja training by rounding off our one missing level of Archer in a random encounter at the Beddha Sandwaste, and then to Thief for the random battle after that. We also switched Josephine to Arithmatician with speed-boosting equipment (including a ladies-only handbag weapon that Wilham couldn’t have used), though this didn’t prove helpful enough in the long run.

At this point, if I’m remembering correctly, I accidentally stumbled across the Rumour that triggered part of a sidequest! Legitimately and everything! I was just looking to see if the Rumours had changed after the big developments at Bessalt (they hadn’t) and there it was! Unfortunately, the location unlocked by this Rumour, Nelveska Temple, was useless on its own, and poorly-phrased internet advice left us confused about it for a stretch. Nelveska is actually the middle step in a sidequest, and to start that sidequest you have to go a little further in the game. Nice of them to let you unlock it early, I suppose?

fft-2018-06-18-17h03m30s418We ended up in two random battles before reaching Sal Ghidos, and I’m not even sure how! Sal Ghidos is virtually next door to Nelveska, so rightly it shouldn’t be possible, but somehow we did, and the recoding cuts off just before the first fight! By the time we were there, Arthur was our third Ninja, and we had accidentally, permanently reorganized our party order on the subscreen. Yeah, turns out the subscreen doesn’t allow you to manually sort your party members, and if you ever use the auto-sort command, you can’t go back to default “Sort by Join Order”? So thanks for that.

In any event, Sal Ghidos. Sal Ghidos starts with a mandatory cutscene that starts a number of sidequests, and like with Beowulf, if you do it wrong you screw each of those quests! The cutscene begins when a flower girl comes up to Ramza and offers to sell him a flower for a single gil. If the scenario isn’t familiar, the character probably will be: she’s a bang-on lookalike for Aerith from FFVII (yes, in the remake it’s “Aerith,” and on the PSX, “Aeris”), similar to Ludo and maybe Balthier. Unlike Ludo and Balthier, who were both native Ivalicians, this Ivanlician version of Aerith was dressed in a new outfit to match the medieval setting. Also unlike Ludo and Balthier, she won’t be joining the party, but buying a flower from her is mandatory for the sidequest I just mentioned. She and Ramza talk briefly about the trials of poverty, and Ramza walks off muttering about how times are hard. Yeah Ramza, times sure are hard, if only there was some way to change things instead of openly denouncing the very possibility of change like you’ve been spending the entire game doing! If only there was a way.

fft-2018-06-18-17h04m28s790(Since Tactics was released a mere six months after FFVII, before FFVII was even released internationally, that means it must have been in development around the same time. This makes me wonder: what if this game’s FFVII’s references were put here because the games were contemporaries, rather than because of FFVII’s blockbuster status? I joked to Kyle about an improbable alternate universe where FFVII was only an obscure, cult hit but FFT wildly successful, and FFT’s references were one of the few franchise references to “that forgotten, early-3D black sheep, Final Fantasy VII.”)

There was no battle at Sal Ghidos, or at least not yet. But there were Errands, and this is where we came into our plan to finally make Josephine (and Wilham, I suppose) a useful Arithmatician. It was simple, really: after using these new Errands to get her JP, we’d simply change her to a job that wasn’t like a tortoise for regular battles, and change back to Arithmatician for future Errands. Obvious in hindsight. Unfortunately, the Sal Ghidos Errands only dredged up enough points for a single upgrade, and remember that Arithmaticks needs at least two upgrades to function!

fft-2018-06-18-17h05m10s407At this point, we decided to chase the new sidequests rather than move on with the plot. After buying Aerith’s flower, you’re able to return to Goug (the other side of the map) to progress the sidequest, as Aerith’s flower scene indirectly causes Mustadio’s father to show you another weird auracite device. Only then can you go to Nelveska Temple to find the auracite that powers it. This cross-country trip to Goug and back chewed up so much time through random battles that, when we had finally finished in Nelveska (below), Kyle and I decided not to return to Goug to turn on the machine and collect our reward. Instead, we would flip off the whole affair, and to come back at the end of the game, since a walkthrough had told us the walk would be shorter at that point! Benefits be damned! It’s not like those benefits were any good to begin with!


Battle 45: Nelveska Temple

An hour and a half later, we were back at Nelveska and ready to actually explore it. Geeze, would it have killed Ramza to have walked into the temple under his own impetus? This was going to be an unusual battle. Winning it would be no problem, which only made our frustration all the more palpable. No, the real benefit to this battle were two top-tier, hidden items, a spear and a shield, that you can only find with the Treasure Hunter ability, and can only be found in this one battle, as Nelveska has no random encounters.

fft-2018-06-18-17h06m22s925There were two problems with this. Firstly, Treasure Hunter only works if you have someone with low Bravery. If you fail the Bravery-related random test to get the items, you get shitty, bottom-tier items instead of the good ones (oh, and the good items in this particular mission are disguised as being identical to the shitty items to make finding them all the more complicated). For us, this meant bringing Rapha, the only person in the party with low Bravery, even though she had been left on the bench since she had joined and had all the durability of a newborn kitten. We couldn’t be arsed to train one of our former B-team members into a coward with the help of an Orator; or to train Beowulf to get Chicken, for that matter. The best we could think of to even the odds was to give Rapha Balthier’s pistol should she need needed to use weapons, but got more mileage out of a later decision to change her to White Mage so she could use Revive. And even then, she was still only so helpful! In hindsight, we should have made her a Chemist so that she could revive people with Phoenix Downs, but we hadn’t wanted to do so, since the Treasure Hunter skill came out of the Chemist job, and she was now out of Chemist JP! (Well, in hindsight we should have brought her into battles during our walk back to Goug, Orating her Bravery down the whole way, but it was far too late for that.)

The second problem was that the treasures can only be found atop two high pillars in the middle of the battlefield. Treasure Hunter fills the same ability slot as Jump-boosting abilities, as well as Ignore Elevation, so you can’t use those abilities to climb the pillars. This means your only means of increasing your Jump are Jump +1 boots (which you must wear), which forces you to use an unusual technique that I don’t recall being documented in-game, though I may have overlooked it. Namely, you have to bring a large monster ally and stand on their back. For us, that meant bringing either Reis or Construct 8. Thankfully, they had joined at a level proximate to Ramza’s at the time, so they weren’t dramatically far behind, but that had been several level-ups ago, and we weren’t fond of either of them in the first place. Comparing the two, we decided they were proximate in terms of stats, and chose Construct 8’s flexibility over Reis.

fft-2018-06-18-17h07m16s736If you’ve been paying attention, you realize that we were in a bit of a bind! Not only do you have to survive the battle, but if you want the treasures, you have to dedicate one nearly-useless, low-bravery party member to move to part of the battlefield that happens to be both out of the way (on top of the pillar) and yet still in the centre of things (the pillar is in the middle of the battlefield), and then park another only half-useful ally immobile at their side so they can get on and off the pillar. While Construct 8 could launch missile attacks from the back of the line (literal missiles!), this would come at the cost of his HP, which meant we spent most of the battle with just three combatants against an enemy force dynamically levelled to match our group of five!

The battle saw us arriving at the entrance of a ruin only to be greeted by the surprise arrival of Construct 8’s fellow robot, Construct 7, which had been left behind to guard the ruins as a former research site (hey, isn’t it funny how all ancient society’s in fantasy-fiction-that-is-actually-sci-fi build their buildings out of stone so that it will conveniently match the milieu until the big reveal, but their tools out of metal so that you won’t miss the reveal?). Construct 7 ordered us to leave, but the party did not, and that meant a battle against the rogue robot and its allies: two hydras (which are winged monsters in Tactics), which could breathe area attack fire on us or their fellow monsters with no complaints from us; and three cockatrice, which could petrify. The objective was to destroy Construct 7.

fft-2018-06-18-17h07m41s657As for the pillars with the treasure, the hydras were parked on them at the start of the battle, just to make things complicated. Thanks to a lucky first attempt, we soon discovered that one of the two hydras can sometimes spawn at high enough Faith and low enough HP that Cid could kill it with a single Holy Sword attack. Unfortunately, this would leave a hydra corpse on the pillar for its next three turns, and we couldn’t decide if this was for the better or not. We waffled back and forth on whether to kill the hydra on the pillar whenever the opportunity came up, though this was rare.

This battle took quite a few attempts (eight, assuming we didn’t lose a recording) and nearly two hours of our time to manage, and even then we only made it away with one of the two secret items, as Rapha never once successfully landed her Treasure Hunter roll to get the good spear. We ultimately just gave up on it, though in our defence we did reach both treasure spots on our final attempt, even if we did only get one good prize out of it. After a few attempts, our strategy began to revolve around reducing one of the hydras to its low HP state, at which point its AI would cause it to flee the scene. This kind of AI makes sense in a game where wiping out the bad guys is your objective nine times out of ten, but is nothing but a relief when you scare away a minor enemy during a boss battle like this! The cockatrices, which would foolishly cluster as they tried to petrify us, were usually fodder for Cid or Agrias’ Holy Sword techniques. One question that lingered was whether it was better to bring Agrias or Arthur at any given moment. Agrias could do more damage, but Arthur could use a Monk’s Revive! We ultimately switched Ramza back to Monk instead, which allowed us to bring Agrias and turn things more in our favour.

fft-2018-06-18-17h09m32s032We arguably finished the mission earlier than our final attempt, but quit after Construct 7 killed itself with one of its HP-draining abilities. We reset on the spot, only to later learn, during our final attempt, that Construct 7 will revive after it first dies! We might have been able to pull off the rest of the treasure hunt during the revival, but we simply didn’t know!

In any event, the super-shield we got from the battle went to Cid, his only serious equipment change in the entire game, besides situational accessories.


While it was Mustadio’s father who had essentially triggered this quest, it turned out it was Beowulf and Reis who were actually invested in our being there. They took the auracite out of Construct 7’s remains and used it to… somehow… transform Reis into a human! Apparently she had been one all along, but only this one, specific auracite could bring her back. It’s also the one Mustadio’s father needs at the moment, which is improbable as fuck. I guess the developers were limited to twelve total auracite thanks to the Zodiac theme, only some of which were optional, but I suppose they could made one of the mandatory ones optional? Like Cid’s, which serves no narrative purpose in hindsight, or the unexplained one we got from Isilud? Or maybe another one we’ll be getting meaninglessly later in this playthrough? There are options! Reis then rejoins the party as a woman, though she retains her ability to breathe dragon-breath as her active ability in her default job, if you can believe it. While that’s kind of neat, we didn’t really have room or interest to experiment with our A-team at this point in the game.

fft-2018-06-18-17h10m29s491Fun fact: this is the end of Reis and Beowulf’s plot in the original PSX game. The only explanation the original game ever gave for Reis transforming into a dragon in the first place can only be found in the characters’ biographies in the Personae section of the game! Thankfully the remake would correct this with one of its largest additions, but that sidequest to do so won’t be available until the eleventh hour.

Like I said earlier, now that we had the Cancer auracite, we could have returned to Goug for another sidequest, but no, we were done dancing for the game’s amusement. We decided to follow the main plot instead and to headed to nearby Limberry.

Prev: Final Fantasy Tactics – Bad Guy Bellyflop
Next: Final Fantasy Tactics – This is Halloween, This is Halloween

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