final fantasy tactics

Final Fantasy Tactics – Demons Did It

fft-2018-04-18-20h47m05s635Battle 22: Lionel Castle Oratory

What, seriously? We got all the way to the Cardinal’s oratory? First the kidnapping in Eagrose and now this! Cities have guards, FFT! Soldiers! Bodyguards, maybe? This is a world where Evil Fedex had several missions worth of armed thugs, but apparently we’ve chewed through the garrison of the city-state of Lionel’s in just three? All you need to do is represent them in a cutscene instead of ignoring them, or maybe throw us into a battle with them first! Geeze.

Our party confronted Cardinal Dealcroix, who demanded the Zodiac Stone, but Ramza simply repeated his demand for the cardinal to hand over Ovelia. To my surprise, Delacroix actually told Ramza where she had gone and that she had accepted the help of the conspiracy to become queen. Delacroix didn’t even try to get Ramza over to his side, though he did sort of mocked Ramza for not… already being on his side. Ramza then says a few lines that I’m going to have to discuss at length.

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Final Fantasy Tactics – “I sure hope no one rescues you THIS time!”

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900 AP and nothing worth buying

Now that Balias Swale is done, we move full-time into our second play-session, and thus our second batch of Journals. Journal entries from our second session span from the end of Balias Swale to the start of Chapter 4.

I should probably discuss our character-building plans at this point. On the physical job side of things, we planned to bring three characters to the three major “end point” classes in the combat branch. To repeat: Ramza would become a Ninja, Arthur would become a Dragoon, and Meryell would become the female character-exclusive Dancer. Because these classes were dependent on every other combat class, we would get a tour of all the major branches and learn which was which. Unfortunately, we made an oversight that had me laughing at… well, mostly myself for overlooking it: it turned out that Meryell was level 7, which was almost half the party average! Even Agrias’ two recruit knights were better off than her, and we hadn’t touched them since the prologue! Combined with Meryell’s crap Bravery, which I mentioned earlier, this meant that Meryell was basically terrible at everything we put her to, and after a while I think we had given up on her ever serving a critical role in the party, least of all as a Dancer.

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Final Fantasy Tactics – Plunge into poison for your master!

Battle 17: Tchigolith Fenlands

So like, who do you think comes up with all these individual place-names, was that a job for the main writers or did they just have some dedicated intern sitting around for a day or three, making up words like “Tchigolith?”

fft-2018-04-04-00h50m18s455Battle 16 was against monsters. Undead, mostly, but also a Pig, which as I understand only appears randomly. The key factor in this battle was the fact that the fen water was poisonous. Kyle warned me as much, but I – both forgetting that characters could jump horizontally and not noticing a path of land in the corner – moved Ramza straight the fuck into the water the moment his turn started, figuring there was no other way to deal with the terrain but to suck it up! I noticed the patch of land soon after, and remembered that people could jump soon after that, after which the fight got a little boring. One flank, consisting of Mutadio, the Shitty White Mage, and Ramza the Swamp Thing, was able to fight effectively, while the other flank, Arthur, Meryell and Josephine, were stuck on a zig-zagged, one-way path the entire battle, taking the kick out of anything they tried to do. I should have stuck one of them in the bog. No, really! Poison wasn’t honestly that harmful, and for that matter neither was this group of monsters. Next!


After the battle, Kyle and I took a moment to stop our recording so that it wouldn’t run overlong like our Dirge of Cerberus disaster. We had already done this three times earlier in the day. Unfortunately, this time we forgot to turn the recording back on, and we lost the next few hours of play. Most of it was something in the neighbourhood of three random encounters at the tor while we were running Errands, all of which we won, no thanks to Ramza. You see, while we were accidentally off-the-record, we had finally opened up the Job chart and had decided on long term plans for everyone. Ramza was to be a Ninja; Arthur was to be a Samurai; Josephine was going to stay on Black Mage until we at least had Flare; Meryell we realized could become the female-only Dancer class; while our garbage White Mage could become a male-only Bard – we would make him an Orator in the interim, which we could use to finally confront our ongoing Bravery and Faith deficit! The downside is that Ramza spent most of our grinding at the tor as a useless, useless Archer, trying to earn the four job levels required for Ninja. And just wait, after this he gets to be a useless Thief! And then a useless Geomancer!

fft-2018-04-04-00h50m53s901While most of our lost footage was mostly concerned with grinding, we did lose some plot, and even the first half of the next plot battle, before we realized we had forgotten to turn on the capture. Hold on a minute while I find a Let’s Play or a script or something so I can supplement my garbage notes and… ah, there we go!

Goug turned out to be an island town, which is going to be relevant in a battle or so. The party realizes that they arrive before the cardinal’s men, still operating under the assumption that the cardinal was… you know… sending any men. They do not question this any further, because the party is actually a pack of crickets in human suits and can be forgiven for such deductive oversights. The party splits up from Mustadio so that he can do some investigating on his own, saying they’ll reunite later. Oddly, the game gives you no option to meet up with him. Rather, the plot progresses only when you try to leave the town entirely. I guess they realized we’d try to run away from Mustadio and his problems the minute we were out of his line of sight? These game developers are geniuses!


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The moment our recording returns.

Battle 18: Goug Lowtown

As it happened, Mustadio had been caught by Ludovich Baert himself, and Baert revealed his hand to Ramza to make a deal for the Zodiac Stone. Not only was he threatening Mustadio, he also revealed Mustadio’s father to sour the pot. Mustadio finally caved and told Ramza where to find the stone. It wasn’t actually very far away, and Ramza tossed to Ludovich. Now that he had what he wanted, Ludovich ordered us killed.

The battle took place atop two rooftops with a gutter in the middle. By the time our recording checks in, Mustadio was already unconscious and Josephine, my only useful party member, trying to drop a spell on an enemy Summoner while two enemy Thieves attempted to stab her before she could do it. I’m afraid I don’t remember the sequence of events that led to that mess, sorry to say. But I pulled it off! The battle ultimately ended with our useless White Mage, now a useless Mystic (a debuffing job on the way to Orator), kept the Thieves off of Josephine by clubbing one with his staff, shockingly ending the battle. Hey buddy, you accomplished something! Maybe I’ll consider addressing you by name!


fft-2018-04-04-00h52m19s695Finding Mustadio’s father unguarded and alive, his father remarked that Ludovich would try to use the auracite to awaken the old mechanical ruins. But it wasn’t as bad as it seemed: Mustadio revealed that Ramza had given Ludovich a false auracite all along, one that Mustadio had planted well ahead of time for just such an occasion. The real stone, a yellow one, had actually been on Mustadio’s person all along, the least secure place it could have possibly been. Yeah, uh… my impression of Mustadio had been so low from the beginning (thanks in part to Kyle, but still) that I had actually suspected the auracite had been in his pocket all along. That Baert hadn’t searched him when Mustadio was captured defied even my lowest expectations.

But speaking of my lowest expectations, and to the shock of an 11 second real-world pause, I discovered that Ramza had worked out the cardinal’s plan. He guessed about the cardinal working with Baert, he realized that he was now dealing with a hostage situation, he even guessed that the cardinal was aiming to summon the Zodiac Braves to take over the world! I… I didn’t promise that I wouldn’t cry… mostly because I never thought we would get here… but I’m crying anyway! Our sweet stupid baby is all growing up, and he didn’t even need to be kidnapped by an evil scientist, stuck in a tube for four years, and get shot at multiple times before realizing his genocidal employers didn’t think very highly of him! We’ve reached a new standard for the reversal of protagonist stupidity, people!

Better not let me down now, Ramz.

fft-2018-04-04-00h52m56s957Mustadio suggested that if we were going to rescue Ovelia, we could sneak up on Lionel by ship, since Lionel could easily stop us from crossing back the way we had come. He then joined our party for real, no longer an AI-controlled guest. Now that the fight is over, I can report on the status of our party after our three grinding battles and one plot battle: Ramza was still a useless Archer, much to my chagrin, though we were hoping to get his Archer’s Bane ability soon, which would allow him to dodge arrows in the future. Arthur was also a useless Archer! Meyrell was still a Thief, unfortunately. Lastly, Josephine had picked up Thundaga somewhere between here and there, rather than wait explicitly for Flare.

Sailing from Goug to The Port City of Warjilis, which I would later learn (after completing the game) is the one location in the entire game where you never fight a battle! There’s even an unused map in the game’s data, just waiting for a battle that never comes! Instead, we got a cinematic on arriving in port (in WotL, this is another watercolour cinematic, while on the PSX it occurs a different map than the one I just discussed). Apparently, we had outmanoeuvered the cardinal, but we hadn’t escaped from Jerkface, who was here for another FMV chat with Ramza. Jerkface hinted that he belonged to a group with a good information network, but of course he refuses to elaborate. He also knew that we knew about the Zodiac Stones, and he warned us away from them specifically. After this, Jerkface repeated that only he could save Ovelia, but once again didn’t explain that sentiment, insist on that sentiment, or try to take Ovelia back. I realize that by this point, our party probably outclasses him on his lonesome, but he still looks very silly with these aimless demands!

fft-2018-04-04-00h53m34s787Ramza asked what Jerkface’s goal was in all this, and to my astonishment, he said he didn’t know! Ohhhh, that’s not good. A character should never say that unless confusion is important to their character arc, and Jerkface is too busy trying to appear all-knowing for me to believe that. He insisted that all the political players in this plot were “caught up in a mighty current [which …] they cannot see or feel,” because that’s basically Jerkface’s role in the plot right now: to be vague. He insisted he was trying to “swim against” the current, and walked off, a useless, human-shaped writer’s crutch.

Kyle wanted to do more Errands, but there was no way to run down the timer without sailing comically back and forth between Warjilis and Goug, so… that’s exactly what we did! One day’s travel my foot! When we first tried to leave town, we were interrupted by a cutscene, but no worries. During the cutscene we cut away to Lionel, where the cardinal was hosting both Baert and our old buddy, Gaffgarion. Apparently, Dicebag and Delacroix had already arranged for the princess to go to Dicebag, so the cardinal was trying to convince Gaffgarion, as Dicebag’s representative, to let him keep the princess long enough to con Ramza and team out of their Zodiac Stone, since their conspiracy wanted that as well. Gaffgarion agreed, and decided to set a trail of breadcrumbs for Ramza to follow into their trap, which would become clear soon enough.

fft-2018-04-04-00h55m23s337After Gaffgarion had left the room, Delacroix stood up and stabbed Baert for failing him “time and time again,” full Darth Vader. While I understand the need to reduce the cast and that, I feel the need to point out that the cardinal not only performed a murder himself that he probably could have gotten someone else to do to keep his hands clean, but he also basically just murdered this world’s equivalent of the East India Trading Company, or maybe the CEO of Wal-Mart. It seems impossible that no one will want to follow up on this, and since the Baerts are criminals, they probably have someone willing to kill in revenge, wouldn’t you think? Also, remember that the Baert Trading runs a huge legitimate trading company, even if you set aside its illegal activities, and even those unfortunately impact the economy. Nevermind the moral concerns for the moment, my issue is that we will never hear about this again. The Baert Trading Company just evaporates into vapour like Castlevania after Dracula dies, because that’s what’s convenient to the narrative.

After a few Errands, our reserve party members gained a few levels and, among other things, we changed Ladd to a Chemist, for reasons that escape me after the fact. Our useless low-Faith Mystic (no, no I’ve decided to leave him unnamed for now) was promoted to a genuinely useful Orator, if only because his high Bravery made him a useful sharpshooter with his new gun. Arthur, meanwhile, became a Thief on his way to Samurai, and we taught him Steal Heart, having seen its potential back in Chapter 1.


fft-2018-04-04-00h55m58s788Battle 19: Balias Swale

After so many battles being won in a single attempt, it was finally time for our shitty, transitional Job setup to bite us in the ass. Hard. Since we were currently trapped in this corner of the map, there was nowhere to grind, and that would remain the case until we had cleared Battle 19. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t about to let us do that, and we spent basically the remaining half hour of our play session failing to complete Battle 19 over two attempts.

Battle 19 was split between two zones, divided by a deep river. You can’t perform any actions if you’re swimming in deep water, so it was a considerable obstacle (Geomancers have a skill to walk on water, which ironically costs more than their ability to walk on lava, because the game simply has more water maps!). Arriving at the battlefield, we found that Agrias had “escaped from” (been let free by) the cardinal and was now being “pursued” by Lionel’s Gryphon Knights, who were chasing her as unenthusiastically as possible to make sure she got to Ramza to set the bait. Thankfully, Agrias had been thoroughly upgraded in our absence, so she was a handy guest party member, which was good because she had to survive for us to win this battle. Unfortunately… basically everything else.

fft-2018-04-04-00h56m21s838We had to deploy a sturdy force to the left flank where Agrias was on the run, since keeping Agrias alive was an objective, but that meant that we had sincere problems both managing the right flank and getting our troops back together after we had taken either flank. The left flank held a Black Mage we typically had little trouble dispatching, but also two durable Knights and an Archer in a difficult position at the extreme corner of the map, atop a hill. The right flank, meanwhile, had a Black/Time Mage guarded by an Archer, which shouldn’t have been a concern, but who could we rout them quickly enough to cross the river? Note that basically no one in our party was a meat shield at this point, save for Agrias, and we were trying to protect her!

During the battle, Agrias asked why Ramza was here, and he loudly announced “WE’RE TRYING TO BREACH THE CASTLE FROM THE POSTERN, I HOPE NO ONE OVERHEARS OUR TOP SECRET PLAN AND RELAYS IT BACK TO LIONEL.” Oh Ramza, I know all this shouting isn’t going to hurt you, because they’re actually leading you into a trap, but I guess you haven’t changed that much after all, have you? Agrias told us that the Cardinal was going to execute the princess, but this was just another part of the bait.

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Urm, they’re just sleeping.

Kyle made our first attempt, but had trouble seizing the right flank due to mistakenly taking both gunners – Arthur the Orator and Mustadio – in the same group. That cost us Arthur’s life when Kyle was unable to finish the battle in time, forcing us to restart. During my attempt, I misunderstood the mechanics of the river and ended up wasting Josephine for the entire battle as she tried to swim to an island in the middle.

We broke for the night after my second attempt at the battle. The plan between sessions had been for me to clear the battle out on my own time and then to grind away our useless, useless Archer and Thief jobs so that they would stop cramping our style. Unfortunately, due to a combination of blog work and non-blog work, I had other things to do, and we would have to wait for our next session to see this battle cleared out at last. As a result, this marks the break between my first batch of Journals (written after our first play-session) and the second batch of Journals (written after our second play-session), but I imagine you’ll want to see the end of the battle I close up the post, so let’s truck ahead and see how that went!

fft-2018-04-04-00h58m17s843When we got back to the game at the start of our second session, well… I can’t speak for Kyle but for me it felt inevitable that we would get through the battle on our first attempt, and we did! But in the end, the entire thing hinged so dramatically on an early lucky roll (or possibly two) that I can’t honestly say how we would have performed without it! In short, the battle began with automated Agrias using her Judgment Blade ability on both the enemy knight and Black Mage on the front lines, a pretty typical opening move for her. However, Judgment Blade has a very small chance of causing Stop to its targets, and this time, it Stopped the Black Mage! For reasons known only to the PSP, this caused the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Archer in the corner of the map to descend from her secure corner perch and walk straight up to Agrias in a poorly advised attempt to shoot someone in our back ranks instead of shooting Agrias like she usually did, and between her abandoning her post and the Black Mage being basically out of play, the entire enemy flank collapsed.

Kyle still had a good deal of trouble securing the right flank, even after Charming the archer there, because the enemy Black Mage hid in a tree-obscured corner of the map, but the battle was finally won, and we were able to move on. After the battle, Agrias told us that Ovelia was due to be executed at a place called the Golgollada Gallows. After this, she actually offered to join our party as a full-time member under our control, despite her seeming like such a serious, top-tier specialist! After all, Holy Knight is the same class that Jerkface seems to have – although, internally, they’re not identical. Kyle warned me that Agrias’ Holy Sword skills require she actually have a sword equipped, so we decided to leave her in the class until she had learned all her Holy Sword abilities, and after that move her to Knight to get Equip Swords, even though equipping the Equip Swords ability would mean slowing down her development in other classes, since it would mean unequipping JP Boost. After all: if we weren’t going to use Holy Sword, why take her over a generic?

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Finally

Funnily enough, this promotion of Agrias from guest to main party member also means that she’s demoted in terms of the plot. Because the game can’t guarantee that Agrias remain alive past this point (although the opening scene of the next battle does have lines for her, should you bring her), she basically has to bow out of her role as a central, voiced character from this point on and recede into the ranks of the faceless generics, with only a few text sequences to come (two?), all of them optional. It’s a sad consequence of a game with party member permadeath, but a storied one.


After the battle, we gave Arthur Parry from the Knight tech tree thanks to carry-over job points, and Move +1 from the Squire with even more carry-over job points! We also bought Ramza another Green Beret for his noggin, after a Knight so kindly Rent his old one in the previous battle.

Prev: Final Fantasy Tactics – St. Backstab
Next: Final Fantasy Tactics – “I sure hope no one rescues you THIS time!”

Final Fantasy Tactics – St. Backstab

After buying a few skills for Agrias and Ovelia (I was disappointed to learn that Ovelia doesn’t show up in most battles, and in fact we haven’t seen her in battle since the Falls), we headed south.


fft-2018-03-27-19h31m12s467Battle 15: Zaland

Zaland was a town on or near the border to Lionel, and determined to make a good impression with the locals he was going to plead with for sanctuary, Ramza immediately got involved in a local conflict and the massacre of around half a dozen local men and women. Remember kids: enemies aren’t people.

The cause of this scuffle was a man named Mustadio, a Machinist by class, but something of a con man by profession. He was being chased by a group in the employ of a man named Ludovich, and they wanted a special stone from him, something called “auracite.” They even claimed to be holding his father hostage to get him to cooperate! Ramza showed up in the middle of this, and you get to choose his response (although since he shouldn’t be able to see or hear through the hill and wall that are between him and the city, I’m not sure why he as a say in things!). You end up in a fight either way, but like with Argath, your decision determines whether you have to rescue Mustadio or simply have to clear the board of enemies. There are Barvery rewards again too, but this time they’re wired in such a way that you gain Bravery with both choicesm butgain  more for the rescue. I don’t claim to understand why they did that, since there isn’t anything brave about ignoring Mustadio? We chose the rescue this new NPC, which may have been a… mistake.

fft-2018-03-27-19h35m24s587Kyle seemed especially anxious about going into this fight, but he managed to pull it off in one go. He split the party into two, one scaling the town walls and one heading in through the gate. Mustadio, meanwhile, was running around on computer AI and making an absolute ass of himself. He was armed with a rifle, which is normally only available to – get this – the Orator class. Mustadio had the Machinist prestige class instead, and his special ability was able to prevent enemies from either moving or attacking (this ability is called “Aimed Shot” on the PSP, but “Snipe” on the PSX. “Snipe” is a lot more effective and… how to put this… punchy? I like it better than “Aimed Shot,” to say the least). Mustadio used Aimed Shot to perfect effect early in the battle, taking one of the enemy Black Mages out of play for an extended stretch. Unfortunately, in his computerized eagerness, he left himself completely exposed to enemy attack, putting the success of his own rescue at risk! Ahh, classic Mustadio!

While a pair of enemy Black Mages threatened to roast Mustadio at the outset, Kyle’s forces on the wall managed to distract the bad guys into attacking them instead. Unfortunately, this meant Ramza taking a wound that would later result in his being knocked out, but it was a handy start that prevented the battle from ending with Mustadio’s death only a few turns in. Mustadio continued to fritter near enemy lines even though all we wanted was for him to run into hiding, but the fight went well enough from that point.


fft-2018-03-27-19h37m05s025After the battle, Mustadio introduces himself and took us somewhere safe, what with us being fellow murderers and all. He identified his pursuers as members of the Baert Trading Company, a world-famous trading organization, but apparently one that secretly profis off of slavery and other crimes behind the scenes. Mustadio also explained what a Machinist was supposed to be: apparently we weren’t so far away from “the Clockwork City of Goug,” a place built by an ancient and advanced civilization (yawn) that the Machinists try to study and copy.

Asking about the cardinal, Mustadio told us that the cardinal had fought in the 50 Years War and was thought of as a hero. Mustadio really believed that the cardinal would shelter the princess, but he wants to be brought along as well so that he could plea for the cardinal to help him get his father back from Baert. All the while, Mustadio refused to tell us about the auracite (indeed, the party never heard anyone say “auracite,” even though the player had). Because Mustadio was being such a frustrating git, I wasn’t buying his story, and even Ramza was going to leave him behind in the mud. We would have gotten away with it too, if weren’t for the princess stepping in and proving herself more generous… if less intelligent… than our dubiously intelligent leader. I guess Mustadio gets to stay, then.

fft-2018-03-27-19h37m34s210After the battle, our shitty White Mage generic (you know, the one with 50 faith?) got to learn Raise, which was what we were shooting for all along, only to learn that his low Faith made the spell so unreliable that we might as well have not tried at all. To try to round him out, we gave him Fira and the Black Magick skill, which had to replace his Item skill. You can see where this disaster is going.

We stopped off in a Tavern to catch up on rumours, finally learning the true importance of Prince Orinus: as he was an infant, whichever Duke wins the support of the Ivalice Council will become Regent. Kind of an important detail to have shoved back this far into the narrative, don’t you think? We also learned that Duke Goltanna of the Black Lions was being pinned down by a peasant’s revolt caused by “the Order of the Ebon Eye,” who sound like delightful people, definitely not demonic cultists at all. At this point we also began filling out Errands, but as there was a cutscene the moment we tried to leave town, I’ll get back to that in a second.

fft-2018-03-27-19h38m12s288Outside the town gates, Agrias and Ovelia were having a private conversation. Agrias said that the cardinal was a man of “utmost loyalty to the Crown,” and was acting like this was a reason to trust him. This means that even Agrias has had her brain carved out with a spoon, because Jerkface has already pointed out that the Crown wants Ovelia dead. Ovelia then began picking at a poor tree, which was a nice, natural animation for them to use. Really, what 2D games would even bother with such a small movement? They would have just had the text say what she was doing, but Square went to the added effort, good for them! At this point, Ramza arrives and begins to eavesdrop, and we learned that Ovelia had spent her “entire life” in monasteries. She said that she met another girl at the monastery who had also spent her “entire life” in monasteries, only for Agrais to reveal that she’s talking about Ramza’s sister Alma, who was never mentioned as spending her entire life in monasteries, so what gives? At least Alma is back in the plot now, that’s nice. Ovelia then reveals that Alma tried to teach her how to make a grass whistle, and Ramza reveals tries to help her do it.

Now Kyle, excited by the fact that we had finally discovered the Errand system, , wanted to walk all the way back to Eagrose to find more of them. Unfortunately, when he tried to do so, we hit a random encounter from the depths of hell when we were crossing Zeirchele Falls. The monsters were deployed at the top of the falls, with the high ground advantage. I should also mention that the enemy party included three Mindflayers, which could use Mind Blast to inflict us with Confusion or Berserk, essentially taking a party member out of our control. Also present was a Time Mage equipped with Summon magick as a backup, but it was really the Mindflayers in the end. After a confusing, drawn out and mostly random battle, Kyle lost.

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This is fine.

After replaying the cutscene and saving this time, Kyle gave up on going to Eagrose. But it wasn’t his call, since I had the controller at this point. I walked as far back as the monastery before stopping, since I could pace back and forth between there and Dorter without any threat of a random encounter. This seemed better than running into Mindflayers by pacing at the falls! Unfortunately, the moment I tried to return to the main path to end our Errand, who should show up but four Mindflayers and one Squidraken recolour at Zeirchele Falls? The Squidraken wasn’t so bad, as all it could do was remove buffs, but the Mindflayers made a sauce out of us even after Kyle and I came up with an improved strategy. Our next attempt to grind our way through Errands ended up with us getting into a fight at the cursed Siedge Weald, but we pulled through with a win and that proved to be the worst of it, and soon back on track with our entire party. We even pulled it off using Ladd, the weakest party member still in the force!

Cashing in on our Siedge Weald and Errand experience, we bought both Ramza and Arthur the Monk skill Revive, which could raise the dead. At a loss for what to do with Meryell, we got her Steal Helm from the Thief skill tree, which I now regret (if nothing else, we should have saved up for Steal Weapon), but who knows what might happen in the future?


fft-2018-03-27-21h12m48s921Battle 16: Balias Tor

Battle 16 took place on the road south, where more thugs from the Baert Trading Company challenged us, demanding that we hand over Mustadio. Balias tor divided the arena right down the middle, so Kyle tried to focus his efforts on the high ground, only for Mustadio’s AI to immediately mess everything up by heading down a flank. We ignored him, which has proven a fairly reliable strategy ever since (Ed. writing from the future, I want to say that I didn’t really get comfortable with FFT until they finally ditched these insufferable AI Guest party members and gave us full control!). This fight included two Summoners, our first serious encounter with the Job, and Mustadio managed to hurt one of them with a crit early in the fight, which convinced the AI to burn through most of the summoners’ AI Summoning a Moogle to heal the wounded Summoner! At least we discouraged them from trying to attack us!

While Ramza dropped low in HP early in the battle, Arthur was able to revive him with his new Monk technique… and then our shitty White Mage was able revive Ramza again when he died a few turns later. Our hero. After finally chasing down the Summoners – they weren’t able to call an attack Summon until virtually the final turn! – we were able to move on to the next town.


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“But enough of this! Have at you!”

Back in Eagrose, Dicebag was talking to Gaffgarion, giving him orders to kill Ramza’s group. Dicebag said that he originally hoped Ramza would come home after he saw what exile was like (perhaps implying that he had never planned on having Ramza charged for treason if he had simply returned home), but now he was willing to order his brother dead. When Gaffgarion asked about the cardinal the protagonists were going to see, Dicebag just said that it was already dealt with. Towards the end of the conversation, Gaffgarion suggested that the other Bag might not be so loyal to Dicebag as could be hoped, which was something that had come across in the game’s writing… or at least it had prior to his ordering What’s His Name to shoot Tietra, but I guess that makes him more of a morally grey character? (Ed. Nope! Zalbag’s order to essentially shoot Tietra is arguably out-of-character in hindsight!)

Gaffgarion then asked how the original kidnapping had been botched, and Dicebag revealed that someone (Jerkbag) had killed the men he had assigned to take Ovelia (I presume this is discussion refers to the kidnappers sent to kidnap Ovelia at the start of the game, but the game doesn’t make that very clear, so it could also be referring to the people we fought at Zeirchele). Dicebag didn’t seem to think it was a big deal, but Gaffgarion wasn’t so sure. Why Dicebag would overlook such an obvious flaw in his plan when he’s made out to be such a mastermind is confounding to me, but I guess that’s the way they want to play it!

fft-2018-03-27-21h15m13s859Returning to our party, we got Arthur the Aurablast Monk skill, a mid-range attack that might prove helpful. Goodness knows we were already happy to have Stone around every time we landed just short of the enemy, and this was essentially an upgraded Stone! Frankly, we should have swapped out his Buttstuff skill at this point, because it wasn’t accomplishing anything now that he no longer needed Stone.

Past the Tor, we arrived in Lionel itself, and were allowed in without a fight (pictured above), much to my surprise! I had at expected at least one more battle before the cardinal!

Cardinal Delacroix heard our cases, and was so generous about them that only Ramza and his friends could be stupid enough to believe he was being genuine. “Oh, sure, I’ll write straight to the pope and tell him to take down an entire Dukedom in response to one kidnapping you can’t even connect to them. And Mustadio, your lack of evidence has swayed me to shut down the entire Baert Trading Company, which is so important to the world’s economy that I’m sure nothing bad will happen when I send my guards to slaughter their way through their company headquarters.” Dicebag must have sent this guy a letter saying that the world’s four biggest rubes were about to knock on his door because he doesn’t even try to hide his lies. Geeze, I was actually kind of interested to see how Dicebag’s scheming was going to ruin Ramza’s perfect political refuge, but the moment the game reveals Cardinal Delacroix, it’s like watching a cartoon plane crash: instead of arcing towards the ground like a real-world plane, it abruptly turns 90 degrees downwards and jets toward the bedrock at rocket power.  This guy is barely even pretending to be anything less than evil.

fft-2018-03-27-21h15m39s841Delacroix then tried to goad Mustadio into revealing why the Baert Trading Company was so interested in him, and when Mustadio hesitates, Delacroix reveales that he had already guessed. Reaching into his cloak, he pulled out a red Materia – erm… a red “Crystal,” or at least that’s what Agrias calls it. Delacroix asks if we’re familiar with “the legend of the Zodiac Braves?” Ovelia recites the legend: in the past, someone or something called the Lucavi ruled the earth. One day, twelve heroes plus a certain Saint Ajora, whom we later learned was a supreme religious figure in the church, drove the Lucavi “to the spirit world.” Apparently, each hero carried a Zodiac Stone made of auracite, and legend says they’ll return some day to save the world again. Curiously, going to the tavern after this scene causes the tavern-keeper to give you a Rumour covering an entirely different legend about a young king trying to conquer the world with a demon, and the Zodiac Braves defeating that instead. It’s early enough that I won’t challenge the two contrary myths, but it is confusing!

In any event, the cardinal has one of the twelve Zodiac Stones, and we already know that Mustadio has another (it’s not yet clear which zodiac symbol is on either stone). I wasn’t sure how to feel about this. Since I was still enjoying the idea of a political plot at this point, even if I wasn’t enjoying the execution, I was a little disappointed to be reminded that this was a Final Fantasy game, and that subtlety is a thing Final Fantasy uses to fill time between explosions. A big, world-destroying monster was probably just around the corner, and nuts to politics. I’m not sure why I was so disappointed, though. Didn’t I praise FFII for its mixing of a realistic, low-fantasy plot with a high-fantasy villain? But something feels different here… if only I could put my finger on it! I think, after some consideration, that it might be participation of the player characters in the high fantasy elements, where FFII’s party remained mid-to-low fantasy even when the bad guys got bigger?

fft-2018-03-27-21h21m19s487Delacroix kept his promise to Mustadio, saying that he would send soldiers to the Baert headquarters in the Clockwork City. Ramza decides to go join the attack on Goug, which prompted another real-world pause from me as I discussed with Kyle just how annoyed I was at Ramza for leaving the princess unprotected the moment he got the opportunity. Agrias stayed behind, but she’d hardly be enough to protect Ovelia against an entire city-state!

Prev: Final Fantasy Tactics – International Incidents
Next: Final Fantasy Tactics – Plunge into poison for your master!

Final Fantasy Tactics – International Incidents

fft-2018-03-20-23h09m23s424The next thing Kyle and I knew, we were back at the church from the prologue, just after Jerkface returned to Ramza’s life by kidnapping the Princess Ovelia. Gaffgarion was asking Ramza about Jerkface. Lady Agrias soon emerged from the church, and she and Gaffgarion got into a fight about whether or not this unusual was covered by Gaffgarion’s contract with the Order, and Gaffgarion suddenly about-faced on his interest in Jerkface and moved to leave the royal guard behind. Ramza, however, wanted to follow to find out what was up with Jerkface even if it means leaving Gaffagarion’s sellswords. Apparently attached to Ramza, Gaffgarion decides this means he’ll have to go, too.

This begins Chapter 2: The Manipulative & The Subservient. Each new chapter means a new costume and portrait for Ramza, as well as a new ability for purchase for Ramza’s Mettle skill (and, as I mentioned, Ramza’s existing Mettle skills are powered up a touch each chapter in the remake). It’s not much, but it’s something and that’s appreciated. The chapter opens with you selecting from Gaffgarion and Agrais’ generic allies to decide if you wanted to add them to your force. Well, sure, right? I mean, I don’t want it to just be Ramza and two Guest characters, we’re going to need to build up a whole new force of our ow—wait. Our entire party is here?

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Final Fantasy Tactics – Through the Fire and the Flames

Battle 08: Lenalian Plateau

fft-2018-03-13-21h18m16s031Arriving at the first set battle on our way to the Brigade’s fort, we discovered that we had apparently only let Milleuda go for her to fight us again in the very next battle! I’m, uh… that’s really uninspired, FFT, I don’t know how else to put it. I would have expected at least one battle’s gap. Milleuda and her band were apparently trying to flee the scene of the fortress! Well, Ramza, you let her go last time, why not a second go? Oh, Milleuda herself is going to force the fight? Well good for you, lady, your poor judgment is an inspiration for us all.

Speaking to Milleuda, we learned that the bandits are under the mistaken impression that Tietra is a Beoulve, and so was a genuinely valuable prisoner who might stay the hand of the evil Bags. Unfortunately, Milleuda was too irate at the nobility to listen to Jerkface’s pleas that they’re mistaken about Tietra. In fact, they’ve mistaken Jerkface for nobility as well, even though that goes entirely against what he was just saying, and what Argath said to Jerkface in front of Milleuda when she was first captured and had no reason to lie! Milleuda decides to do fight just to spite him.

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Final Fantasy Tactics – Our Unfinest Hour

fft-2018-03-06-02h08m35s058After buying some heavy equipment in Eagrose, we headed out of town ended up being jumped again at Mandalia Plain. After that kind gift of EXP we gave Arthur the Knight ability Rend MP, in case we came across any serious casters in the next stage (Ed. we never used it, ever, at any point in the game, with any character, despite buying it for nearly everyone who ever became a Knight!), and then kicked him over to Monk, since his being a Knight was redundant next to Ramza. We then finally got Move +1 for Josephine, and converted her back to Black Mage. Thank goodness for those upgrades, because…

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Final Fantasy Tactics – The Sand Rat’s Boudoir

Battle 04: The Siedge Weald

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(By the way, just to clarify, I’m going to start indicating exactly when each Journal was written so that you know exactly where we were when I made my comments.  This has already been added to the first post, but for the sake of readers who are caught up: this first batch of Journals was written when were at the battle of Balias Swale in Chapter 2!)

The battle in the Siedge Weald was our first battle against an all-monster force, including Red Panthers, Goblins, a single upgraded Goblin, and a few Bombs. Unlike humans, who are differentiated by Jobs and skills, monsters are differentiated by species, aka who is a recolour of what. Monsters get their own unique attacks that humans do not, but don’t progress very dramatically as they get stronger.

Our party was cut down to 4 regular members at this point (Ramza and 3 generics), since Jerkface was taking the guest slot and that forced Some Stranger to fill our usual fifth. Speaking of Ambrose, he spent three of our four attempts at this battle moseying around the empty left flank, away from the rest of the party. While in two cases this led to him tackling a single monster that might otherwise have gone amiss. Of course, “tackling” in this case meant “watching a bomb explode in his face and then dying,” so I can’t help but think that if he had just held the line, that monster might have come to us. (more…)

Final Fantasy Tactics – Heroically Cowardly Rescue

fft-2018-02-20-03h02m36s378After the second battle, the game threw us on to the map screen and asked us to march to the northwest. Um… aren’t we… you know… at a school or something? A school in this town? Shouldn’t we be staying at school? It turned out that we were actually following some interrupted, half-spoken orders that were given to us by our teacher before he got news of the bandits, which honestly should have been better handled. Kyle outright had to tell me to go back to Gariland so that we could do some shopping, because the game did such a poor job of revealing that to be an option. Along with the fact that the tutorial was only now unlocked, and the way that the game had for some reason declared Ramza an independently operating party leader of this group of students that are presumably of , with a war chest and everything (containing a bonus 2500 gold on top of what we had earned in battle), it kind of made me feel like I was missing a cutscene or three. (more…)

Final Fantasy Tactics – Akademy of Warfare, Magick, and Soul-Sukking

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(For a quick update on recent posts and other blog news, see here.)

Final Fantasy Tactics was first released in 1997 in Japan to great acclaim, and was later released in 1998 in the west to poor localization. I’ve seen some call it the second-worst localization in the series, after the awful PSX localization of FFV. Thankfully, I don’t have to experience it, since the game was tidily re-localized in 2007 with the subtitle “War of the Lions” for the PSP. We’ll be playing the WotL release, though the game has also been released on iOS, which arguably would have been the superior release since it gives you stuff that the PSP version restricts to multiplayer, but eh, what are you gonna do? Once again, as with all the big PSX Final Fantasy games, this is my first experience with the game, but Kyle was familiar with it from when we were younger. (more…)