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Budcakes

Locke and Midgame Balance

39 posts in this topic

First off, I can not thank you guys enough for this game. I could continue the praise for a long time, you deserve it for this wonderful game, but let's get to the point...

I am at the Floating Continent and have just been owning everything with my party of Terra, Locke, and Cyan. Shadow is all but useless. Locke is the star of the party, and here's why (I am playing on SNES Classic so I can't drop in some screenshots to simplify this)...

Disclaimer: Locke is level 24, esper level is like 14, so I know you're probably thinking "no wonder you think he is overpowered at this point in the game." I have the same thought, however, I have not intentionally done any grinding, I scoured the Magitek facility for all the treasure, meaning I had to backtrack a bit since I forgot the oprtimal route, but that's about it. The rest of my cast is around level 15-18, with a few exceptions. I'm thinking Locke is so high level because he is forced upon you multiple times up to this point. I mean, when is he not forced to be in your party? The trip to Zozo, and...? Even if he were 6 levels lower, he would still be quite powerful for all of the reasons given below, so it is more than simply an overleveling issue (which, again, I did not do any grinding, and actually ran from fights from time to time. I did take my time, though.)

So I have Locke geared up about how you would expect, I assume the majority of players take this approach, but here it is:

Scimitar, Drain Sword (I forget the actual name), and then just the best evasion gear I can get. I give him relics to enable cover/counter. Once I made a trip through the floating continent (with exp off) and found the Ninja Mask I equipped that to free up a relic slot. Now he has the Hero Ring and Thief's Glove (that 25% damage boost is incredible). I believe his evasion is at 84 with that setup, could be higher if I used the Knight's Cape, but the extra 12.5% HP and the mp boost is worth it. For Esper boosts, I went with HP/Stamina, because I want to increase the likelihood of cover/counter, and I think I remember that's the stat for it (I've been trying to play blind as much as I can), I think I also put in just a few levels into vigor, because I felt so bad about continuing to jack up his HP. So now his HP is sitting at around 1150+ with the gear.

The end result is pretty brutal. His stamina is still mid-40s maybe, so that's the only thing holding him down. He is really difficult for a monster to hit with physical attacks, and even if he does get hit, he has a ton of HP. Paired with the drain blade, I actually want him to take a few hits so when drain procs he can do even more damage and heal himself. Mug is there for undead monsters that you don't want to drain. He has magic to deal with vanishing enemies. He is incredibly fast. His physical attacks tend to deal around 700-1k damage, each. Then there's the fact that he has all of those nice White magic spells (that he never uses, save for a Life spell if it's needed). On top of it all, there's his speed, which is already quite high with no investment whatsoever.

I feel like Locke is too powerful in the midgame, compared to the other characters and the fact that he is most likely your highest level character makes matters even worse. Sure, the other characters can dish out similar damage if geared right and using the right attack for an enemy. But the other characters typically have some sort of weakness. Be it low speed, low HP, low evasion or defense, smaller spell selection, less equipment to choose from, fewer espers to choose from, etc. Locke's only real weakness is his low defense (but he has good equipment options, so this does not have to be the case), his HP isn't terrible to begin with, and it is enormous with HP/Stamina levels (which seem like the absolute best choice at the midgame, perhaps with a few levels of vigor just to beef up his hits a bit). For comparison, he's running with a hyper wrist+glove (name escapes me now, +25% physical damage) Cyan who does maybe a little more damage per turn, at like level 22. Berserk Cyan can keep up with the damage, but has some serious disadvantages (and he should be one of the premier damage dealers, beside Sabin, whom also has several drawbacks from those listed above.) The only thing Locke is really missing is a strong crowd sweeper... Then there's the elemental swords you could use to target weaknesses at the cost of a little evasion (with a decent magic stat to boot, on top of the fact that the +5 magic esper is probably the best esper equip unless you needed some specific elemental defense).

It's really hard to have Locke sit out of the party. I know that's one of the issues you wanted to address with this game. I feel like Locke is too powerful, and as much as I enjoy stomping face with him (I giggle like a child again every time he cover/counter/drains), I reluctantly suggest that he may need to be reworked in the midgame. I have not thoroughly considered how to address these problems, as there are so many things to consider and almost any change has implications for other characters. Part of the problem, as I see it, is that most of the other characters are kind of late bloomers; their versatility opens up in the WoR because of the equipment/relics/espers that can only be obtained there. Many characters don't have many esper options midgame, and if they have esper options, they lack the real means to utilize the different builds. Meanwhile, it appears to me that Locke's most powerful build is available with the first few espers, and he has equipment to capitalize. For Locke, new equipment is just an upgrade, it doesn't really open up new possibilities, or new ways to play.With that said, I really don't think this is an Esper problem, per se. Locke just has a bunch of little things available to him, and when you add them all up he is an incredibly powerful character and I feel like I am handicapping myself if he is not in my party.

Consider the character most similar to Locke in the midgame: Shadow. Similar stats, and a similar theme. No HP options, severely limited spell selection (though unique), fewer weapon options (the samurai swords don't compare to the versatility of the elemental swords), the only edge he has is Throw. Throw does have some crowd sweeping potential, and that's really the only thing Shadow has over Locke. He has all the same cover/counter options, with the same evasion, but with his pitiful HP and defense he really does not want to tank. No way to cure himself outside of items (which is not practical at the midgame due to cost). In exchange he does get a few support abilities, namely image, float, haste, and reraise. Did I miss a store selling the elemental throwing items before the Floating Continent (though, again, gil is a problem)? Those are nice spells to have, but at this point Shadow is kind of forced to either be in the back row (nerfing his damage), or needs to be revived whenever he gets hit, even with his reraise, you are hindering his damage either way. Meanwhile Locke with my setup WANTS to take those few hits that make it through his evasion, and generally welcomes the magic damage just the same because his HP is so high; taking a few hits will actually increase his damage because of drain. He can cast life if needed, and cure himself/others in a pinch. I guess Interceptor is a factor, but he doesn't proc often enough to really matter. So, in my eyes, Locke blows him out of the water in the midgame, which is unfortunate since Shadow is forced on you at the Floating Continent, but tends to just be a drag on the party at that point, even moreso with him and Locke fighting over gear. My Shadow is dual-wielding Healing Shivs and throwing shurikens from time to time. That's all Shadow is really good at in the midgame. And dying. Lot's of dying.

Maybe it's just me and the approach I have taken in this playthrough. I do play around with different party setups and feel that you have brought out the best in the characters. But when I want to bring out my strongest party, as with the Floating Continent, Locke will always be in my party. I do have one direct suggestion since I am here and I am talking about midgame balance: have you considered altering the exp curve in some way so that levels slow down more as you progress the Floating Continent scenario? Early game levels are great, through Zozo. The Mage Masher (or whatever that boss was named) was pretty tough. I did wipe once to both bosses escaping the Magitek Facility, but a slight tactical tweak fixed that. I haven't reflected on this much as I played through the game, but sitting on the Floating Continent, it is apparent that I am probably higher level than intended and that's part of the reason I am stomping face so hard. The Ultros/Chupon and Air Force fights for example were pretty laughable with my setup. A few fights since then have been close, but mainly from party-wide HP Critical attacks and quick followups. I am eager to see how the fight with Atma Weapon goes.  Back to the point: slowing down the levels would raise the challenge level slightly, while preventing people like me who play at what feels like a natural pace from overleveling (I don't like being forced to turn off the EXP to stay in the appropriate level range; again, I want to stress, I did not grind. I did not go directly from one flag to the next for every scenario, but I did most of the time. I would consider it normal for a player to backtrack or go off-course a little bit in the course of a normal playthrough. Maybe you want a different party to tackle Zozo than what you originally brought, for example, so you backtrack to Narshe, as I did). You have done an excellent job with the game and have a nice balance going, but is it possible that your experience curve is set for people that go from flag to flag, with no deviation? If so, it might be better to slow down the levels, because those fast-run players will likely have a setup capable of overcoming the challenges anyway, and those of us that want to take a more leisurely strole through a childhood favorite can do so without overleveling and being forced to turn off the EXP (which I understood to be an option mainly meant for people wanting low-level runs or farming gil). 

Slowing down the levels would do a few things. It would perhaps encourage a little bit of grinding from time to time for players not capable of finding a strategy to beat a particular boss. I know this is not a difficulty mod, and I don't mean to restrict the levels so much that only the people running the low level challenge can beat the bosses without grinding. Maybe it's something worth polling the player base about. I suspect the majority of your players would be okay with something like this, because it would invoke the nostalgia of old-school games, which often DID require some grinding. Maybe i'm wrong. Another result of slowing down the levels is that you would encourage people to experiment more with different party setups and approaches to regular and boss battles (though it might require adding a few locations, in some key towns, where you can swap party members before getting the Blackjack.)

Okay. So those are my thoughts after playing up to the Floating Continent. I want to add that this is my second time through the game, I believe my first run was... 1.8.6 maybe? I love the original FF6, but after playing BNW I can't go back to it. I think that highly of what you have done here. That admiration is what brings me here, and has me spending too much time and too many words writing this... analysis? opinion? whatever you want to call this. As far as I'm concerned, this could be the final build of the game and I will come back to it time and time again. BUT if you're going to continue to refine it and make it even better, I wanted to do my part in giving you my feedback. Thank you for devoting what must have been literally months or years of your life to this game and for the dozen(s) of minutes it took to read this feedback. Thank you!

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...huh. I knew Kirin Locke was best Locke for FC. Didn't know he was that good.

Hmm....

At least part of the issue is that, early on, you want HP. Granted, everyone who can wants a handful of HP ELs, but they also definitely want them up-front. Less options in the WoB means your stats matter more, and HP is the stat that gives the most immediate power. Also, player HP vs enemy damage is a tighter race in the WoB than the WoR (open-world design problems), and, again, HP is the easiest solution to that given the tools available.

Another part of that Cover/Counter strats were only just introduced (1.9), so they may not be finely tuned yet.

Which...leads into the idea of what all C/C strats in the midgame are imbalanced. We got "Kirin" Locke, "Kirin" Cyan, Phantom Celes, "Unicorn" Terra (probably Uni/Bis), "Unicorn" Edgar, and Maduin Mog. Maybe Ocean Claw c/c Sabin? Sabin might not last under fire though. (I hear some people like c/c Shadow >_>). Purely in terms of characters, Locke, Cyan, and Edgar all stick out as being able to equip for all three of "Counterattack", "Cover", and "Physical Damage +25%". (Technically, so can Mog and Shadow, but I'm doubtful on their usability). I didn't find Unicorn Edgar particularly op when I tried him (didn't tried 2H Spear, granted, but I doubt it). If Cyan ain't op, maybe part of the issue is that Ninja Mask comes to early? (It's endgame worthy, it could theoretically come in the WoR).

There's also the idea that Cover is meant to be a party defender option while Counter is supposed to be extra offense, yet they both key off of stamina. Granted, C/C strats should exist, but maybe keying off of stamina, alongside lower Cover rate with higher Counter rate, creates a problem? Problems with the calculations, however, are harder to prove and require a lot more playtesting and data. I'd rather not push for those changes without hearing more about how other c/c character perform in the midgame, lategame, and endgame.

***

I should mention, as a technically, that Locke's WoR esper is actually pretty important for his builds. Locke likes his MP. Also, as a gameplay tip, FC Shadow is probably better off running support (you noticed Healing Shivs; Smoke Bombs, Float, Haste, and Rerise also help) rather than trying to dps. Also, Shadow's Throwables are buyable back in Jidoor, which...is actually easily forgotten. I'd prefer if some of his Throwables were also buyable in Thamasa, as a timely heads up to the player.

Otherwise, welcome to the community, and with what a bang do you enter. Certainly good points to ponder over.

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Thank you for the warm welcome! I was afraid I overdid it, given my only other post up to this point was a bug report in the previous build.

I will continue to offer my reflections as I play through the game. I have not tested the other characters you mentioned with the C/C option. It is true that HP is the best stat in the WoB. Simply making a party of people able to invest early in HP would probably render many areas of the game a little on the easy side, even with subpar party setup. Honestly, the +25% physical damage is probably not a big factor, maybe it is, but even if I unequip it Locke will still be dealing a huge amount of damage. I guess it would slow him down and let other damage dealers outperform him per attack, but the speed difference still makes up for that. The reason Locke seems like the premier tank is his evasion. The others you list do not have anywhere near as much evasion, excepting Shadow. I really like Shadow and plan to play around with him a lot in the WoR. We'll see how it goes. Everyone else essentially requires healing support to function as a tank. Locke is his own healing support, even without the drain blade. Granted I have not played around enough with high defense tanks, but even with high defense they will need some healing, and they will likely sacrifice damage potential for the defense. The stat bonuses on gear may be suspect, especially on the thief/evasion gear. It doesn't really seem like an issue with the Ninja Mask either, as I was laughing all the way through FC before I found the mask. The Ninja Mask was just icing on the cake, just a nice upgrade for Locke. Maybe Locke shouldn't be able to equip it, it would reduce his damage at least (not really enough to matter though).

 I really like cover/counter. I haven't looked at the stat distributions of all the characters that could utilize it, so I'm not sure what to do or say about it at this point. Maybe something as simple as making Counter function off of vigor and Cover from stamina would go a long way to fix this problem... except most of the characters you would want to cover/counter typically seem to have even higher Vigor than Stamina. Mog is the only exception that comes to mind, if I am remembering correctly. At the midgame stamina is really too low to cover all the time, which is a good thing. Though, again, in the case of Locke, if you take away his ability to cover, he is STILL a nearly unstoppable force. And it's not really possible to remove that option without nerfing a lot of other characters that could use it.

Cyan is also dealing out some serious damage in my game, but I have invested heavily in vigor and not so much into HP, and the two accessories I mentioned above make him impressive. I haven't taken other characters through the FC to compare them. Cyan is dishing out 2k damage per hit. But he's super slow, like 26 speed in heavy armor, and giving him counter/cover would reduce his damage by quite a bit. He can also heal himself as much, if not more reliably, than Locke in that configuration though... so he, too, may be a nearly unstoppable force, especially swapping some vigor for HP/stamina. At least he is slow. It's also difficult to go to the FC without him, but I could just be stuck in a rut as far as party composition goes. I think I just wanted to play around with the hyper wrist.

Edgar doesn't really stand out to me as a good tank, but I haven't used him much this time through (he was always in my party in vanilla, so I'm trying to use different people these days). I also tend to stack up damage on him with Jump, though early on he can wipe out a lot of enemy groups with just bio blaster (kind of broken), and his other early tools are great, but easily substituted with magic. I love jump strategies, always have... <3 Kain 4ever. Huge damage output and invincibility most of the time; who wants to tank hits when you can jump out of the battle? Sure, it's an option... but why bother? Sabin might do well enough, but he lacks any means to heal himself. Those counters will dish out the pain, so it's a trade off. His evasion is also a bit lower than Locke's, but still decent. No early HP options pretty much rule him out... maybe with a mystery egg and the ocean claws if he can equip the Ninja mask (didn't check). It would be very risky. 

I always treat Celes as a mage, though she could be a great tank. Her physical hits at the midgame are underwhelming as I see it, so the counter function doesn't really help her. She can equip elemental swords for that big damage, but most enemy formations seems to be set up so that being limited to a single element type is actually a pretty big disadvantage. Or a person would have to be constantly changing elemental swords around for maximum effect, which would be okay for someone very familiar with all of the monsters in the game, but a huge pain for anyone else. That's why I tend to disregard the elemental swords. She is suited to the role of tank, but she also has weaknesses in that configuration that Locke does not, mainly the overall damage output. Then the question becomes: what does she actually do with her turn? Heal people? Cast offensive spells? In that case, tanking gear hinders her (not so much for healing). She could support/heal okay, I suppose. That would make her more of a traditional paladin (not of the Cecil variety...). With all of that, it seems like Celes is pretty well balanced, on paper at least. I could very well be missing something with this breakdown, and all of the others.

You are absolutely right about Shadow in the midgame. He's there for support, not tanking. Not much to say about that. Except maybe that with Locke/Cyan and any mage with a cure spell (I prefer Terra or Celes), there's really nothing for Shadow to do, as the enemies die too soon to need the longer-term strategies Shadow can help set up (haste/image). He takes over the healing for Terra so she can debuff and cast black magic and deal similar damage to the physical hitters (morphing is still risky). I pity the foo' who didn't steal two Healing Shivs.

Finally on to Mog. I have tried out C/C a little bit with Mog before the FC. He doesn't seem overpowered. He is locked into a single dance at this point, many of which are incredibly useful or powerful to begin with, but with the added bonus of taking some hits for the party and sometimes countering. Even with the stamina investment he doesn't seem to cover all that often with just the spear equipped (or is it the other way around? I can't remember if spears cover or counter; either way, I utilize that function of spears to free up a relic slot). Do different pieces of equipment offer different cover/counter rates? Additionally, his vigor is rather low, so his hits aren't nearly as powerful as Locke/Cyan/Sabin. His HP is too low, he lacks evasion, so that makes him a risky tank. His dances are still going to be doing most of the damage (if you pick an offensive dance), but then if you use a healing dance he might be the best tank (especially later on), but still wouldn't deal much damage with his counterattack (unless you equip an elemental rod, but that would force you to sacrifice your dance control, and still require frequent rod swaps similar to Celes above). I very much look forward to testing him out later in the game, he could be even more OP than Locke/Cyan.

So, you make a good point about Cyan. After thinking about it, he seems to be in the same category as Locke (maybe that's why they are both on my team). If I geared them both for C/C I suspect I would be blowing everything out of the water, because of the stacking probabilities. I'll try that for my second run through the FC. It seems that the other characters that could use C/C are balanced pretty well, mainly because their damage output is likely much lower. Pure tanking strategies with just cover, not using it to counter, don't seem to be that effective in the game because so many enemies use party-wide abilities. It's nice for enemies that dish out big single target damage, especially those with multiple hits, but that's about it. Lowering the cover/counter rates would be dangerous because you would overshadow them with other, more reliable options. Unless you wanted to make C/C available as passive abilities on various pieces of equipment, freeing up those relic slots, and making you sacrifice potentially better equipment. Then it would be more like Interceptor: a rare pleasure. It could also limit C/C users, but honestly the most OP users are the characters you would expect to counterattack (maybe not cover, though. Shadow is the only person I would expect to cover and counter, stemming from FFXI's Ninja. Which raises a question: do you counter attack when using image? I haven't tried it yet).  At the midgame it seems that all of the other C/C users (not Locke/Cyan/maybe Edgar) are either not dealing out substantial damage with their counter attacks, require frequent healing support, or are extremely risky. That balances them to a large extent. Huge damage, high HP, and self-healing unbalance C/C users at the midgame, not sure about the later portions of the game. It may be fine later on. I don't like the idea, but this could also potentially be fixed by reverting to the vanilla counterattack style (i.e. you can only counter when hit, not after a parry/evade). But then that just shifts the abusers over to defense tanks over evasion tanks, and would still leave Locke in that OP category, since he has decent defensive equipment options. As with everything, the game is so dynamic that any change requires a lot of consideration and could potentially impact many other things, such that there is no simple, easy fix. Of all the things I have considered, it seems that the problem could be best solved by adjusting some equipment, but then that might turn out to be problematic, too. I'm glad I'm just a test monkey, and not responsible for making the rockets.

It's pretty late for me, so I hope my logic is sound, since most of this is pure speculation. I'll spend a little time testing this out tomorrow before I move on to the WoR. I suspect I'm in for a world of hurt on the FC if I don't take Locke or Cyan.

zzzz... kupo ...zzzz

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Budcakes, you are talking to the man who been infamous for years for huge, long rants about minute points of balance in a mod of a 20 year old SNES game. I, at least, ain't throwing a single stone at you for your posts.

***

You are using the Hyper Wrist, something I've never toyed with. Another veteran used to use that thing in randoms to kick butt, so perhaps Hyper Wrist is just bonkers for randoms, balanced by the fact that few people bother? Iunno, rarely bothered with it.

Did you miss the Golem esper? Sabin has an HP esper for the WoB. It is a reduced HP esper (HP/vig), and yeah, Sabin ain't good for c/c, too little def & eva.

Only half of a character's evasion is supposed to apply when Covering. Does it feel like Locke's dodging less often when he Covers, or might there be a bug?

Cover being mostly useful as an offensive tool when paired with Counter kinda bugs me, as the whole idea of Covering for someone is to take a hit for them. Obviously, you'd counter the opponent in return, but fundamentally, it's concept is that of a defensive manuever. The issue there is mostly one of % rates, not working for single-target magic attacks, and not working for AoEs. Working for single-target magic attacks would be interesting at least. Not sure I'd want to see the other two changed.

Kirin Cyan is stupidly powerful, possibly op, for the mid-game. I think he always has been, I've seen a returning veteran continue to think so for a recent version prior to C/C, and I think I remember another good player think him quite strong on the FC with c/c.

I'll have to parse more of what you said later (still points to be made). Right now, looks like there might be a midgame balance issue with the two Kirin builds. Dunno where the issue lies though.

Later

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Maybe counter rates should be halved when covering, similar to how evasion is halved.

When C/C was originally being developed, I offered the idea that cover cues off vigor (higher vigor=less damage because of damage variance formula so character is more willing to take the hit) and counter is based on stamina (higher stamina=more energy to respond with a counterattack).  Just putting it out there again in light of this discussion.

Thinking about cover being dependent on vigor, this might work better with inherent cover spears since Edgar’s stamina is so low.  But it would make Unicorn Edgar basically pointless.  

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I didn't miss Golem, I just forgot about it. That's what I get for not having the game running while I am typing. And going that route with Sabin is viable, but you would have to save all of your ELs until right at the end of the WoB. The issue with Sabin Golem (and Edgar's HP option) is that it is still less HP than Kirin builds. That likely provides some level of balance.

The Hyper Wrist Cyan smoked Ultros, Chupon, and Air Force as well. Give him a few Kirin levels and a proper healer (given that Locke doesn't need a healer, Cyan can have a dedicated healer) and he can lay down a serious beating. Not sure what benefit he would gain from the relic slot (maybe to give him Cover, lol), but just casting Berserk on him would make him even more potent because of the extra accessory. I don't think there's really a problem with the Hyper Wrist, as Locke is still keeping up per attack, but attacks like 50% more often just by virtue of speed alone. Hyper Wrist is balanced by the fact that you have no control. There's at least some sort of trade off. I can see no trade off for what Locke is doing.

Something else about Locke I didn't mention: mugging just for fun. The random free turn you gain after stealing is pretty broken with mug with the Locke build I am using. I don't remember if you get the free turn if you fail to steal anything (i.e. mugging monsters), if so, it's even more broken. It would probably be best to disable that with Mug altogether if that's something that can be done easily.

I did do a bit of playing around this morning with C/C options. Here's what I found:

Edgar's stamina is far too low to be useful, even with the ELs. Another issue is that his best spear for the FC is the Stout Spear, due to elemental effects on his more powerful spears. Unless I missed one. Without two-handing, he's not going to be dealing serious damage.

Sabin might work, I couldn't properly test it because my ELs were spent. His stamina is naturally high with all the gear bonuses. He's still squishy on the front row, but the extra HP might suffice. I always have problems with elemental weapons though, so Ocean claws might be the only reliable option, unless you go back to the early non-elemental claws (hurting your damage), but you want him to be able to heal himself anyway if you're trying to tank without a dedicated healer.

Didn't test Celes much. However, her damage is low, except when the elemental sword procs, then she does do nice damage from the front. She could just heal herself with her turn as needed (or use the drain blade and act as she sees fit on her turn, and hit neutral element, just gotta watch those undead). She can get decent defense, even when equipping the Mystery Helm, so that helps her. Just hope you have an element that will work in all of the battles in any given area. My Celes is invested in +magic mostly, I can't remember the exact breakdown, so without that her procs would be doing less damage, dunno have much less. The fact that she also has runic would make her a very impressive tank... if not for the fact that most monsters do not actually cast spells, and Mute hitting all enemies pretty much reduces Runic to a weak osmose. Is there a way to enable runic to function on magical monster attacks like Meteo, Gigavolt, etc.? That would give the player at least one way to mitigate many of the party-wide attacks, making Celes much more useful. I wonder how many people use Celes' Runic outside of a few specific fights?

Mog's main problem is his HP. He does still require a healer, because dances are not a reliable means of self-preservation without HP investment. His defense is good, so that helps. I think he has around 650 HP right now for me with the Hero Ring, and with a healer he does fine for the most part. Counter attacking with a rod is the way to go, but that means your relic slots are taken. His stamina is quite high with the right setup (he has good gear for increasing stamina and magic), and the Poison Rod is a nice weapon for the stat boosts and the fact that it seems that Poison is not commonly resisted/absorbed helps a lot. ELs into Stamina/Magic are perfect for a rod-wielding C/C Mog. Since you need a healer anyway, he can do an offensive dance and dish out a lot of damage on top of the C/C. He's at level 18 on the FC, his poison rod counter attack is dealing 700 damage, haven't seen it proc yet. But since he's on the front row, and he has 50+ magic, it's going to hurt when it does proc. I haven't tested much with offensive dances, I kept hoping I could put him on a healing dance and keep himself and the party alive without much other healing, but it's not reliable enough on the FC. I suspect he will be a powerhouse when using offensive dances.

Cyan is definitely in the same category as Locke as a C/C user, since he gets counter attack for free, can heal himself (and restore his own MP), has access to Kirin, and deals a ton of damage. Those things together on any character are OP. That's why the rest of the characters aren't quite so OP with C/C. Sabin might be in this category too with Golem levels. The real issue as I see it is if a C/C character doesn't need a healer, he's OP. Locke/Cyan not only do not need a healer, they could use their turns to heal/raise the party as needed and still dish out a lot of damage, making a true healer not necessary at all.

Maybe Locke is getting hit more when he covers, I haven't really been paying attention. It is possible, but that actually boosts his damage even more with the drain proc. Maybe I should scrap some evasion for defense...

Kirin probably is OP for the midgame. It's like adding 50% HP at that level range, and then throw a Green Beret or Hero ring on top of that... characters with good vigor without investment (which is everyone capable of using Kirin) don't care if all of your ELs go into Kirin.

It would be kind of nice to see cover count for single-target magics. It doesn't make sense for it to work for the other situations you mention.

The problem with the vigor/stamina factor is that the characters that seem OP right now would probably be even moreso with the change you suggest, since their stamina and vigor stats are already high. Seems like it would just be shuffling the problem around, and potentially hurting the more balanced users of C/C. Cover could be tied to speed (because the character is fast enough to get in there and take the hit meant for an ally), but I'm not sure that's a good idea either. It still wouldn't stop Locke... would nerf almost everyone else. So that just makes Locke even more unbalanced.

Maybe the counter rate should be lowered when covering, though I'm not a fan of that, because I love seeing it happen. Another option would be to reduce the damage of a cover/counter. That would still make it a great strategy, but would prevent a powerful attacker from sweeping the enemy. Cut the damage in half, as if the character steps into the back row during the cover/counter. That would make Locke counterattacks deal like 700 damage instead of 1400, would make someone like Mog deal 350 instead of 700 (and still get damage spikes from weapon procs, but at reduced damage, and might prevent the drain blade from fully restoring the user). The flat percentage hurts characters dealing more damage than those without massive attack power, which is what you want.

That's about it... and I was right about removing Terra, Locke, and Cyan from my FC party: world of hurt. I could probably swap Terra for another healer/support mage without much of an issue, but Cyan and Locke make the FC much easier, mainly because the fights are a lot shorter. They can kill most enemies in 1-2 hits, and because of C/C, well... you get the picture. I think it's time to move on to the WoR and see what I can break there.

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17 hours ago, Budcakes said:

You are absolutely right about Shadow in the midgame. He's there for support, not tanking. Not much to say about that. Except maybe that with Locke/Cyan and any mage with a cure spell (I prefer Terra or Celes), there's really nothing for Shadow to do, as the enemies die too soon to need the longer-term strategies Shadow can help set up (haste/image). He takes over the healing for Terra so she can debuff and cast black magic and deal similar damage to the physical hitters (morphing is still risky). I pity the foo' who didn't steal two Healing Shivs.

I think sometime it is playstyle for Shadow I actually goes against what people were telling me :

-Use it for support on FC well....

I didn't use him for support at all quite the opposite actually and I was doing perfectly fine ^^ (though on this playthrough I willingly didn't take Cyan and Locke because I wanted to play around with different character) and this was only my second playthrough of the mod, so yeah I argue that you can use Shadow to add damage perfectly fine (honnestly I don't see why people seems to have so much trouble keeping him alive).

And WoR people were telling me "his Throwable are his best damage", yes right I say max out his Evasion (the Dark Gear can be buy), get the Orochi and Kagenui put Ninja Mask, Hero Ring and Power Glove and you get the best physical damage dealer of the game.

Quote

Finally on to Mog. I have tried out C/C a little bit with Mog before the FC. He doesn't seem overpowered. He is locked into a single dance at this point, many of which are incredibly useful or powerful to begin with, but with the added bonus of taking some hits for the party and sometimes countering. Even with the stamina investment he doesn't seem to cover all that often with just the spear equipped (or is it the other way around? I can't remember if spears cover or counter; either way, I utilize that function of spears to free up a relic slot). Do different pieces of equipment offer different cover/counter rates? Additionally, his vigor is rather low, so his hits aren't nearly as powerful as Locke/Cyan/Sabin. His HP is too low, he lacks evasion, so that makes him a risky tank. His dances are still going to be doing most of the damage (if you pick an offensive dance), but then if you use a healing dance he might be the best tank (especially later on), but still wouldn't deal much damage with his counterattack (unless you equip an elemental rod, but that would force you to sacrifice your dance control, and still require frequent rod swaps similar to Celes above). I very much look forward to testing him out later in the game, he could be even more OP than Locke/Cyan.

Mog as a tank become better in WoR when he get access to Terrato that can greatly increase his HP, and for C/C Mog in my opinion the stat to look for for damage is not Vigor but Magic (for Vigor and Spears best option would to Jump in my opinion especially since the Moogle Charm gives him near instant-jump), because of Rods, thanks to Terrato Mog is the only Rod user that can become tanky which makes him good at C/C Rod spell proc can be very powerfull with high Magic if you target the correct weakness, so having a character that will hit multiple time due to extra hit with counter and get the Proc is rather interesting, the downside to this strat however is that to maintain the Critical Hit with MP of the Rods (which affect the spells) you need to have way maintain Mog's MP in long fight (in Mob fight he can simply use one of his dance that has an ability that absorb HP and MP), for me Dance as damage is better for Mob fight for bosses he deals better damage with Rods.

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Hmm....half damage on C/C definitely reduces its ability as an offensive move (emphasizing its defensive benefit), but that asks the question of whether or not all C/C characters are doing op damage at multiple points in the game, or if its just Locke and Cyan on the FC. I'm about to run a C/C Phantom Celes through the final dungeon with an auto-crit (uses MP on critical) weapon, so we'll see if the damage keeps up in the WoR's equivalent of the FC. MP maintainence is a potential issue with it, as is whether or not Celes can take the hits (though that may be an issue of deliberately playing hard type, >_>). The weapon also ain't a drain weapon.

Self-healing being the problem, iunno. Self-healing potential has definitely been around long before C/C, though if a large enough set of people try C/C and come to similar conclusions, we could induce that maybe that's the issue. Otoh, Celes and Terra, like Locke, have Drain Attack potential, alongside self-heal, dual-wield (Drain Blade + Scimitar), good armor, HP ELs (Seraph, Unicorn), etc, etc. Locke's got speed, but they have way more healing potential then he does at the moment.

Anyone able to test Blood Sword + Scimitar C/C FC strats with Unicorn/Bismark Terra and/or Seraph/Phantom Celes?

Mog, IIRC, cannot C/C and Dance at the same time. Dance doesn't allow for Cover. Sounds like C/C Mog will come into his own more in the WoR, when he gets better HP+ access as well as really, really good Rods. (Doomstick and Punisher are what I'm eyeballing). Unfortunately, WoB Mog is mostly Dance Mog; he can evolve several different ways afterwards, but for now, looks like he's stuck Dancing.

Edgar has Cover on Spears, yeah, but unfortunately, he's trying to play the "Cover as a defensive manuever" game, which doesn't work out to well. There's no spear that's really good for non-Dragoon damage, and even if there was, damage Edgar is what vig Edgar is for. >_>

I can definitely see Hyper Wrist as not op in this case. Hyper Wrist Cyan in those fights ain't nothin' you can't do with Flurry Cyan. : p

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I'm typing this up on PS4 right now and it's a little wonky with the quotes, I can't take out the video or I would quote you, but this is to Nesouk:

I think you are right about it being largely an issue of playstyle regarding Shadow. However, from what I saw of the video (I only took a quick look) he's dealing 400ish damage per hit. That is not terrible damage at all, but Locke is throwing down twice that. That could just be a result of my level (which is why I brought up the exp curve, and we've completely ignored that ^_^). My only point is that in my particular situation, one can see why I call that pitiful damage in my party. If I had the need I'm sure Shadow would survive well enough, using image, safe, etc. Just no need when he's running with 2 death machines.

I totally agree about Mog wanting to use the magic stat, not vigor. I actually brought that up in my last long post (but I don't fault anyone for not making it all the way through that essay). C/C Mog with rods are where it's at. As for maintaining his MP, items gotta be useful for something. By WoR it won't be too bad if one has to use some items during boss fights to restore MP. In any case, Mog does look like he will be savage as a rod-wielding C/C user in the late-game.

To Thzfuzzymzn:

Related to what I have said above, I could be blowing all of this out of proportion regarding Locke/Cyan, given that they are level 22-24. I don't know how level impacts the damage equation. I'm curious what Shadow's damage would be at level 22. He's 18 on my save, and I kind of doubt 4 levels make that much of a difference, but it is possible I guess. Even if other characters aren't dishing out OP damage per counter, it might still be worth halving the damage, because those extra hits add up fast, and it would still hurt the heavy hitters more than the weaker characters. The game really wasn't designed with the intention of a member of the party getting an extra attack for every other monster attack. You can't really buff the monsters because then it just makes it harder for party's without a C/C user, and you don't want to require a C/C user... of course a traditional party setup always calls for some sort of tank, but I've never really thought of this game as demanding traditional party setups, just smart party setups. At the same time, A party with a C/C user appears to be easy-mode (especially those high-damage C/C users like Locke/Cyan/maybe Mog). It seems to be difficult to really solve this particular problem, even if you disregard completely the suggestion that certain C/C users may be OP. I guess another potential option could be to have the person using cover receive more damage, highly encouraging them to defend on their turn to mitigate the increased damage they will be taking. Or even require the cover user to be defending in order for Cover to proc. I know that's the whole point of requiring them to be in the front row, so that would be double punishment, so that might just be a dumb idea... I dunno. Just throwing ideas out there. I would also be fine just boosting enemy HP to compensate, but that probably isn't a good idea for reasons mentioned above.

Self-healing itself isn't really a problem. It's just one of those things on Locke/Cyan that contribute to their being OP. Midgame it seems that Locke/Cyan will always outdamage Terra or Celes with physical hits, so the ladies' self-healing isn't so problematic. Locke's lower healing potential at the midgame isn't really an issue either, because he typically doesn't need magic to heal himself, it's all coming from the blood sword.

I am curious about C/C Terra and Celes at the midgame, so I hope someone posts their experiences with that soon. Though Terra will probably deal more damage morphed in the back row slinging spells. It is questionable. However, with Locke/Cyan what alternative do they have that could push out similar damage? C/C is just an augment for them, a huge one, but still just an augment. If you have either one in your party, you're handicapping yourself if you don't have C/C enabled on them. We've talking about these other characters and they all have different options, different things they can do. What else can Locke/Cyan do effectively? I guess Locke could cast Fire 2... but why would you gear him for that instead of bringing an actual mage? And several FC monsters seem to be immune to fire. I always come back to the issue of sacrifice. Other characters have to sacrifice something in order to C/C effectively, what do Locke/Cyan sacrifice?

I haven't played around with Mog enough to be sure. I want to say I've seen a C/C during a dance, but it could have been right before Mog's turn. It's a real shame if Dance does not allow cover. C/C Mog with a rod and a good support dance would be impressive late-game. I changed my mind; I don't care about balance, let Mog C/C during his dance. Haha. Oh well, I suppose that's a sacrifice that one has to consider making...

Hyper Wrist Cyan boosts those innate counter attacks, even if you aren't use cover, so that's one way it is better than flurry, and the damage is focused on a single enemy, which is important on the FC for eliminating a monster outright. Not saying Hyper Wrist is a problem --it isn't-- just pointing out that it does offer something that flurry doesn't. Besides that, it requires sacrifice. That's what I keep coming back to in these reflections: sacrifice. That's the thing to really keep in mind.

I think no matter what, the game requires something in order to balance the new C/C mechanic. Without doing something, this game just got a lot easier.

I look forward to hearing about your experience with Celes. I maintain that using items to restore MP is the best thing to do; what else do you use them for, aside from maybe needing a refill mid-dungeon from time to time?  

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Hmm...Sacrifice...

For Cyan, he can't equip shields and had no op armor. Kirin should be a bulky build, Bismark should hit hard. Seems like the issue is that Cyan can too easily get high HP/bulk and high damage in midgame, eliminating any need to choose one. (Hyper Wrist c/c is a good catch. 20% more damage than Power Glove to boot).

Locke, I'm less certain on. Maybe it is just bulk vs damage again, but Locke's not as simple as Cyan, and I don't want to shoehorn everything into that paradigm. (I'm a wee bit too numbers oriented). He is still relatively simple though, maybe?

I, unfortunately, have little experience with the new c/c, and it is starting to show.

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1 hour ago, Budcakes said:

I think you are right about it being largely an issue of playstyle regarding Shadow. However, from what I saw of the video (I only took a quick look) he's dealing 400ish damage per hit. That is not terrible damage at all, but Locke is throwing down twice that. That could just be a result of my level (which is why I brought up the exp curve, and we've completely ignored that ^_^). My only point is that in my particular situation, one can see why I call that pitiful damage in my party. If I had the need I'm sure Shadow would survive well enough, using image, safe, etc. Just no need when he's running with 2 death machines.

Regarding the LV it's simple, LV in BNW increase nothing but HP and MP so the issue doesn't come from LV as the other stat are gain through equipment, EL and Esper equip, not LV.
I agree that Shadow's damage aren't great (in my video you can see that on physical attack Sabin is doing a lot more than Shadow) dealing at best (with 2 Sakuras) between 800 to 2600 (depending if the Sakuras proc or not), around 900 with Shuriken and can exeed 2000 with Ninja Star (but you will not have more than 1 or 2 of these for Atma) but since he is forced might as well makes him add to the fight even if it's a little ^^.

Quote

I totally agree about Mog wanting to use the magic stat, not vigor. I actually brought that up in my last long post (but I don't fault anyone for not making it all the way through that essay). C/C Mog with rods are where it's at. As for maintaining his MP, items gotta be useful for something. By WoR it won't be too bad if one has to use some items during boss fights to restore MP. In any case, Mog does look like he will be savage as a rod-wielding C/C user in the late-game.

Well I wasn't using C/C on my Atma fight with him (I should have actually cause despite not having his HP Espers his HP aren't that bad) but Mog performs extremely well against Atma the Ice Rod proc (Atma being weak against Ice) was dealing around 3500 damage so with the Rod it's close to 4000 so Yeah pretty savage at this point, on WoR some character can do better than him but he is still pretty good as a Tank that gives good damage on counter.

Quote

I am curious about C/C Terra and Celes at the midgame, so I hope someone posts their experiences with that soon. Though Terra will probably deal more damage morphed in the back row slinging spells. It is questionable. However, with Locke/Cyan what alternative do they have that could push out similar damage? C/C is just an augment for them, a huge one, but still just an augment. If you have either one in your party, you're handicapping yourself if you don't have C/C enabled on them. We've talking about these other characters and they all have different options, different things they can do. What else can Locke/Cyan do effectively? I guess Locke could cast Fire 2... but why would you gear him for that instead of bringing an actual mage? And several FC monsters seem to be immune to fire. I always come back to the issue of sacrifice. Other characters have to sacrifice something in order to C/C effectively, what do Locke/Cyan sacrifice?

The issue for Cyan is true outside of C/C he only has his Bushido so I guess giving nothing but Vigor in his EL would make him deal a lot of Damage but thing is even without giving any EL to Vig he can still reach a quite high Vig through equipment (because guess what many equipment increase both Stamina and Vigor at the same time) which will make him perform good damage with strong Bushido like Tempest, so base on that I see absolutly no reason to sacrifice the insane survivability he can get with pure Kirin investment (on top of having Regen for Stamina heal and Life) for just some extra damage.

Locke actually has this issue only in WoB where yeah outside of C/C he can't do much, on WoR however he get Phenix's EL, Cure 3, Life, Life 2, Rogue Cloak and Sage Stone with that he can be one of the best support in the game, so he can do other thing than C/C but only in WoR.

But this is something I agree both of them don't lose anything crucial for C/C, for other C/C character Mog lose Dance, Shadow takes risk of dying if he doesn't Evade (fortunatly his Evasion is insane in WoR), Edgar lose Jump (as why make a character that will Jump C/C), Terra take risk if she Morphed as she will take more damage but Morph is require to maximize her damage. 

I actually plan of using Stam Terra in my next playthrough so I will be able to give a shot to Terra, Morph with C/C seems risky but very strong (especaillay with Sword that can Procs), I think Celes could perform admirably to since she has a Vig/Stam option as well as an HP options in WoR with good equipment (I actually think Celes might be as good as Cyan or Locke in that position as from what I have saw with the Character Planer you can make all her stat reach a decent LV do on top of C/C she might be able to do other job perfectly fine).

 

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Nesouk said:

Regarding the LV it's simple, LV in BNW increase nothing but HP and MP so the issue doesn't come from LV as the other stat are gain through equipment, EL and Esper equip, not LV.

I've seen this mentioned around here before, but it's not true. Since we're on the subject of physical damage right now, here's a passage from the book of Readme:

Quote

NEW PHYSICAL DAMAGE FORMULA
Dmg = 2Vgr + BatPwr + ((Lv^2 * Vgr / 16) * (BatPwr / 16)) / 24

I'd have to know character loadouts to be more specific, but at the levels in question a 4 level differential represents about a 30% increase in damage, give or take. Add on the Thief's Glove (if Shadow isn't using a Power Glove at the moment in OP's setup), and that becomes more like a 60%ish damage gap between Locke and Shadow.

If I'm not mistaken, character level also impacts magical damage formulae – but these aren't mentioned in the Readme, so I'm guessing they were left untouched from vanilla. If this is true, then they would look something like this:

Quote

MAGICAL DAMAGE FORMULA
Dmg = 2*SpellPwr + (Lv * Mag * SpellPwr / 32)

There's also a few other odds and ends that are affected by level, such as Atma Weapon, GP Toss, and Shock damage, as well as Condemned timers, though these are much less ubiquitous.

Edited by SirNewtonFig
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Posted (edited)

Level plays a huge difference on a character's performance. Just to compare things other than damage (as Fig mentioned that already). You mentioned that Locke was level 24 and everyone else 15-18. Here's what Locke's HP would look like both before any boosters at 15, 18, and 24 along with his HP if you boost only Kirin ELs (we're going to assume roughly that EL count = level count - 10 along with wearing +25% HP)

15: 336 (607)
18: 438 (847)
24: 696 (1395)

Your Locke is probably running around with like... 4x the HP of others by virtue of level/EL investment

I don't know how you'd reach this level differential when, just to use your levels given, level 24 requires a total of 43k XP gained (rounded) vs level 18's 18k. Without intentional grinding, this suggests that you probably spent a lot of time with everyone other than Locke dead at the end of battles. This gets Locke all the XP and can snowball things out of control. I checked a few random encounters in each post-Kefka@Narshe area for per character XP gain and here's what I found a typical battle would give (remember that XP is divided evenly among every living character, and I assumed that the expected party size would be alive after the battle). One could take umbrage with me not checking every single encounter in every single area along with overworld bla bla, but I feel this is enough to illustrate my point. Final note: I only checked areas where you can wander and get encounters freely

Floating Continent: 445 xp
Esper Caves: 250 xp
Burning House: 350 xp Note: I don't see how one could fight a significant number of these enemies without it being grinding
Sealed Cave: 188 xp Note: Locke isn't required here
IMF: 125 xp 
Zozo: 137 xp Note: Locke isn't required here

So Locke would simply have to get a lot of battles where he's the only one standing (or him + 1 other that is fluctuating) and you had used him for every dungeon that you could bring him to.

I don't mean for this to sound like an attack at all, but I can't help but feel like you didn't quite grasp how powerful levels were, combined with prioritizing gear on him, combined with stacking HP ELs to give him survivability. For me, your argument almost seems to be "I focused on making Locke powerful over other characters, why is he OP?" For the record, I'm not saying you're a bad player (my average party level when I beat Atma Weapon my first time was around 23-24) or anything, just that the situation you got yourself in is very, very weird.

Note: I don't disagree with HP ELs being too strong and think a nerf to 2/3 or 3/4 of current EL HP gains would be good, as HP ELs are practically an easy mode.

Now then, regarding Locke in general. Locke has a major, major flaw that isn't being mentioned. His ability to buff/debuff is limited to Kirin and Siren casts, meaning that all he can do is 1-time RegenX or enemy bserk. All Locke can do is play the numbers game. Even if he was top damage (I doubt he is, as his options are available at least to Terra/Celes at this point and there are other ways to decimate FC outside of that) that's all he can do, damage and healing. Haste, Regen, Sap, Slow, Safe, Shell, are all kinda... not things he's capable of doing. Keep this in mind when discussing Locke's balance.

Edited by Nowea
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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Nowea said:

Now then, regarding Locke in general. Locke has a major, major flaw that isn't being mentioned. His ability to buff/debuff is limited to Kirin and Siren casts, meaning that all he can do is 1-time RegenX or enemy bserk. All Locke can do is play the numbers game.

And not even Siren. Does Locke even have debuff options? They'd have to come from weapon procs, and I can't think of any.

But yes, Locke is all about giving and taking away HP. Those are really the only tools in his kit. If he happens to be one of the better C/C users, I feel that it is appropriate – both balance-wise, and in terms of his character.

Edited by SirNewtonFig
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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, Nowea said:

Snip

I think nowea is right. Looking at the physical damage formula, I am pretty sure that going from 18 to 24 does represent a nearly twofold increase in damage. Cyan being 22 compared to 18 would be a 50% increase in damage output as well, alongside a good chunk of HP.

Edited by thzfunnymzn
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32 minutes ago, SirNewtonFig said:

And not even Siren. Does Locke even have debuff options? They'd have to come from weapon procs, and I can't think of any.

But yes, Locke is all about giving and taking away HP. Those are really the only tools in his kit. If he happens to be one of the better C/C users, I feel that it is appropriate – both balance-wise, and in terms of his character.

Why did I say Siren...

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Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, Nowea said:

So Locke would simply have to get a lot of battles where he's the only one standing (or him + 1 other that is fluctuating) and you had used him for every dungeon that you could bring him to.

I don't mean for this to sound like an attack at all, but I can't help but feel like you didn't quite grasp how powerful levels were, combined with prioritizing gear on him, combined with stacking HP ELs to give him survivability. For me, your argument almost seems to be "I focused on making Locke powerful over other characters, why is he OP?" For the record, I'm not saying you're a bad player (my average party level when I beat Atma Weapon my first time was around 23-24) or anything, just that the situation you got yourself in is very, very weird.

I don't take that as an attack at all. I am enjoying this exchange of ideas we are all having. 

 I agree, especially after seeing the damage formula, that levels account for a lot of the issue I am seeing with inflated damage numbers. However, it really was never the case that most of my party was dead at the end of battle, quite the opposite. I never had much trouble keeping everyone alive through battles and tend to raise them if they do. I think Locke was always in my party though. I feel like I didn't do any intentional grinding (if I did, I figure my other characters would be closer to the same level). One thing I did notice while playing that might fall into the unintentional category (and somewhat unavoidable): I am playing on the SNES Classic (dunno if that makes a difference) and there were a few instances where my encounter rate seemed to stick, giving me an encounter every 2 steps. It only happened 2-3 times, I think it was only on the world map so I was able to quickly save and reset the system, solving the problem. I may have gotten an extra 10 or so encounters through that. I don't know if that is just a known issue in general, or something specific to the SNES Classic. It doesn't have anything to do with being a good or a bad player, it's just how this run has played out. It's not like I hit a boss fight I just couldn't beat so I leveled up to compensate (that would make me a bad player, haha).

In any event, Locke is likely to be the highest level character in any save up to the FC because of how much of the game he is forced to be in your party. I guess maybe not, as long as you avoid taking him any time when he is NOT forced on you. But then that's kind of annoying because the player says "oh, I better not take Locke, or he will gain too many levels and run amok." This particular issue isn't new, it's just a result of how Square wrote the early scenarios. A person might think Locke was meant to be the main character.

11 hours ago, Nesouk said:

Well I wasn't using C/C on my Atma fight with him (I should have actually cause despite not having his HP Espers his HP aren't that bad) but Mog performs extremely well against Atma the Ice Rod proc (Atma being weak against Ice) was dealing around 3500 damage so with the Rod it's close to 4000 so Yeah pretty savage at this point, on WoR some character can do better than him but he is still pretty good as a Tank that gives good damage on counter.

Just on the issue of C/C making the game easier... extra attacks, especially with proc weapons speed up fights. No fight was designed with this extra damage in mind. Sure counterattack has always been available, but I doubt many people run a full party of counterattackers, in the front row no less. That would be a kamikaze strategy. Of course they wouldn't have to be in the front row in that case. It would still be brutal with everyone counterattacking. Now I have to try it... will have to be in the late-game though. This could be quite effective against bosses with an exploitable elemental weakness.

3 hours ago, SirNewtonFig said:

And not even Siren. Does Locke even have debuff options? They'd have to come from weapon procs, and I can't think of any.

But yes, Locke is all about giving and taking away HP. Those are really the only tools in his kit. If he happens to be one of the better C/C users, I feel that it is appropriate – both balance-wise, and in terms of his character.

I'm not suggesting Locke is unbalanced because he can do everything. At this point I'm not even suggesting that he is necessarily unbalanced; this has been largely resolved with the above. It's a good thing that he can't do much in terms of buff/debuff. And I agree that he should be one of the best C/C users. I wonder how he would be impacted by taking away his access to the elemental swords, though? That would stop him from draining on a counter (the evasion + drain proc is still concerning to me). I would test it out, but my levels would skew the results anyway. Of course that would give an edge to the Magic Knight C/C users, which might be a good thing, or maybe lead to an actual imbalance.

7 hours ago, Nowea said:

All Locke can do is play the numbers game. Even if he was top damage (I doubt he is, as his options are available at least to Terra/Celes at this point and there are other ways to decimate FC outside of that) that's all he can do, damage and healing. Haste, Regen, Sap, Slow, Safe, Shell, are all kinda... not things he's capable of doing. Keep this in mind when discussing Locke's balance.

It is true that these options are available to both Terra and Celes (with a means to boost weapon procs, to boot!). Neither of those characters have insane evasion, nor do they have the speed (sure Celes could get up there, but at a cost). They do have more defense, but not much more with the helmet factored in. I am willing to admit that these differences may be the balance. It would actually be great if there's no problem with character balance at all, because that is a clusterf*** to address properly.

C/C is just such a powerful mechanic, regardless of who is using it, with the proper setup. Do you all agree with this claim?

Edited by Budcakes
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C/Cs reliance on Stamina makes it much less appealing in many cases - especially for characters with poor base stamina/stamina growth(Edgar comes to mind).

Stamina does not add dmg to your counter, but is necessary to keep the C/C chance reliable enough. Additionally, Cover needs at least some form of tankiness that does not solely rely on dodge(This makes Shadow a poor Cover user).

The problems are setups that "cheat" that inherent balance of Stamina=/=damage.

However, the reliance on stamina for C/C builds is largely what keeps them in check: Many character simply do not benefit enough from Stamina(Like Locke) to make their C/C build optimal in the long run.
But... We are talking about midgame balance here. And midgame balance is~ kind of a mess. I noticed that myself in my playthrough.

To "fix" that problem, one could swap ELs around... for example, granting Locke not access to Stam+HP, but rather MP+HP. That would keep his midgame C/C setups in check. Would need to crunch through all the midgame problems to make any proper calls on this, though - along with checking availability of each build going into the WoR.

Another possible "fix" for the midgame problem could... to actually just straight-up buff it. Thamasa, Sealed Cave and FC all need serious buffs, I feel. After all, taking options away from the player is not fun - but upping the challenge very well might be.

 

Some characters are definitely OP midgame. Cyan and Locke are the ones that come to mind first. However, I think it was established that you grossly overlevelled somehow. To prevent this, one could change the XP curve to spike MUCH more heavily past 20(Similar to the post 30 spike) and scale the WoR enemy XP up to compensate. This would prevent levelling characters post 20 in WoB by accident. Your results are definitely mainly caused by overlevelling - and accidental overlevelling feels crappy, especially if you are looking for a challenge.

 

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I'll admit I tend to end up a bit overleveled myself in the WoB just because I wander around the dungeons more to make sure I got everything, especially Zozo and the IMTRF, in my last playthrough I think I had Gau at level 18 after the IMTRF just because I used him for both sections and basically had to stop using him for the rest of WoB just to stop him from getting overleveled. (Though the reduced encounter patch should hopefully help with this incidental grinding through exploration.)

On Locke being so prevalent in the WoB, although he gets a lot of use here I think it's balanced out by how late you're normally going to get him in the WoR with Phoenix Cave usually being one of the later stops you make. (Unless of course you go out of your way to spelunk it early.)

But basically if you want to avoid a character getting overleveled, you need to switch to a B-team whenever you go to the next location, switching off your higher level guys the just got done in one dungeon for the lower level guys in the next one.
The unfortunate side effect of this is that is can kinda suck if you have a favorite character that you like to use, but at the same time you don't want them them to get overleveled and ROFLstomp everything they come across. (No.Exp Egg coming back when? :P )

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FFVI does seem to design Locke's level curve such that he'll be slightly overleveled for the late-WoB, balanced by him returning late in the WoR. That can't really be helped, so it's not really the player's fault if Locke gets overleveled. May even be best to work with mid-game balance assuming an overleveled Locke.

Also, I'm all for mid-game balance discussion. It's a little difficult to really do so, but I'm all for it. Though I think it mostly revolves around the Floating Continent portion and the Zozo / Imperial Magitek Factory portions of the late-WoB. Sealed Cave, Burning House, Mt. Thamasa, Sunken Figaro Castle, Daryl's Tomb, all give no choice in party, with many being breather dungeons by design, so there's little balance to discuss there outside of maybe a few cases of "party feels op here, build doesn't quite work here, etc"). Course, that still leaves the balance of the post-Falcon WoR. (Also, the balance of late WoR but not quite end WoR, though that's probably pretty close to endgame balance and/or mostly a breather before the endgame).

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I agree that the only issue where balance may be an issue is the later portion of the WoB, haven't made it far enough into the WoR yet to have an opinion. I feel like everything is fine until after the IMF, as those boss fights were challenging enough. I read some people saying that Zozo may be a bit too tough, but I feel like that's the first REAL boss fight. I know my leveling problem occurred after this point as well.

As a progress report: I have beaten Atma, and it took a few tries. I used a party of Celes, Mog, Edgar, and Shadow; I didn't want to cheese it with overleveled characters. Shadow with C/C, mystery egg and sakuras was pretty brutal. Of course Ice Rod Mog, Celes healed and Edgar supported mostly. The real tricky part was that I tended to be too aggressive in the 2nd phase, especially in the beginning. So, yes, with a good setup Shadow is still quite impressive. Mog's Water Rondo is maybe better than C/C Locke (even with the 6 level difference) through most of the random battles on the FC... so that seems to be an issue worth looking at. I definitely underestimated how powerful other characters could be, so Locke appears to be balanced well (I still question evasion + blood sword though).

18 hours ago, Vaylen said:

Another possible "fix" for the midgame problem could... to actually just straight-up buff it. Thamasa, Sealed Cave and FC all need serious buffs, I feel. After all, taking options away from the player is not fun - but upping the challenge very well might be.

This is not a bad idea in my eyes. Maybe not the some of the boss fights, but to the regular monsters. And maybe just to their HP, for the FC mobs anyway.

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While better than other parts of the WoB, for the player's current power, the FC mobs aren't as strong as the Zozo and IMF mobs were for the player's current power then. So, a buff to FC mobs isn't necessarily a bad idea.

Mog's brutal on the FC. Many versions ago, I had a Mog who solo'd Ultros and Chupon with Earth Blues, whereas I normally have trouble with those buggers. Let alone Forest Suite = Win for Atma.

Blood Sword has only just now found itself useful with C/C, so I don't want to nerf it too much. I'd like to see more results from a properly leveled Locke alongside c/c Terra and c/c Celes before drawing conclusions. Also, if FC mobs are buffed, I'd want to see results from that before addressing anything.

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If I have time this weekend, I'm going to start a new run with the objective of getting to the FC with all party members at level 18 with 8-10 banked but unspent ELs, and can share a savestate for further experimentation. If there are any other points before the FC that folks would like similar test data for, let me know (along with a desired target level and number of banked ELs) and I'll try to get a snapshot for each.

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48 minutes ago, SirNewtonFig said:

If I have time this weekend, I'm going to start a new run with the objective of getting to the FC with all party members at level 18 with 8-10 banked but unspent ELs, and can share a savestate for further experimentation. If there are any other points before the FC that folks would like similar test data for, let me know (along with a desired target level and number of banked ELs) and I'll try to get a snapshot for each.

Personally, I'd like some opions on Zozo regarding how hard you can gimp yourself via teamcomp. Just curious there, really.

Additionally, Magitek Facility, Sealed Gate Cave. Those were the points I felt OP at, to be honest. The burning house in Thamasa felt like a joke to me, too(Aqua Rake=GG).

 

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Posted (edited)

What part of the game are you referring to as mid-game?

Forgive me if this has been answered, but there is far too much in here to really read every word of it. 

Nowea addressed the major points about being too high level, and he was correct about how those affect a perceived balance shift.

wrt: C/C, keep in mind characters that can do this effectively usually have to trade status mitigation or damage relics to utilize it.  Almost none (except Celes) can do every piece of what makes C/C most potent and even she doesn’t have the best of stamina.

 

Edited by Mishrak
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