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Budcakes

Locke and Midgame Balance

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15 minutes ago, Mishrak said:

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.

 

I'd say~ For midgame, the final stretch of WoB - Magitek Facility through FC.

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8 hours ago, Mishrak said:

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

Probably best if we use mid-WoB, late-WoB, early-WoR, instead. Even mid-WoR is kinda ambiguous, as it could be split into two.

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9 hours ago, thzfunnymzn said:

Probably best if we use mid-WoB, late-WoB, early-WoR, instead. Even mid-WoR is kinda ambiguous, as it could be split into two.

For the big mid-WoR part, I think that restrictions could allow for a better balance curve.
As is, you can go basically everywhere after early WoR. This makes balancing all the different areas rather... difficult. Personally, I only encountered any sort of resistance in the Veldt Cave(Probably cause I got there rather early) and felt like I steamrolled every other dungeon without much trouble, despite working hard to keep my lvls in check.

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19 hours ago, Mishrak said:

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

Essentially around the FC scenario.

19 hours ago, Mishrak said:

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.

Anyone that can equip the Ninja Mask (Locke in particular) does have a free Relic slot, but I see no reason not to use a power glove (thief glove), or mystery egg possibly, on that spot. Status mitigation is situational, and for almost every situation a Remedy (item) solves the problem. The only time I really worry about status mitigation is when an enemy hits the entire party with debuffs, and even then you just need 1-2 people protected, they can Remedy the others.

20 hours ago, Vaylen said:

The burning house in Thamasa felt like a joke to me, too(Aqua Rake=GG).

I think this is actually okay. This is more like an introduction to Strago. You're forced to have a particular party composition. I guess if anything the fights could be tweaked to make them tighter, but I don't mind having these little side stories be easier than a typical dungeon. I feel similarly about the collapsing house in the WoR, where you meet up with Sabin.

23 hours ago, thzfunnymzn said:

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.

I feel that after a certain point, maybe after the IMF, certain characters (maybe all of them) have the ability to deal such high damage that the difficulty curve is kind of thrown out of whack, specifically for the random mobs. I need to replay the WoB and pay more attention to this. Given that the FC is similar to a final dungeon, the difficulty should be set pretty high, I feel. Honestly, it should be the most brutal dungeon of the entire WoB. Again, I'm not including the boss fights in this. Generally the boss fights seem fine. Maybe it's an issue about different party compositions, and the balance is set so that you can still make it through with the most gimped party setup, which makes the powerful party setups breeze through. Though with all of the options available, I'm not sure any party is really gimped.

Maybe we would all be smart to remember that this is not a difficulty mod, and that no matter what the vanilla game was much easier. I think part of the logic about monster difficulty in the latter portions is, as you say, some areas seem to have a higher difficulty than others, and some of those others seem intuitively as though they should at least maintain that level of difficulty.

In any case, I am enjoying the hell out of all of the new options and mechanics.

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1 hour ago, Vaylen said:

For the big mid-WoR part, I think that restrictions could allow for a better balance curve.
As is, you can go basically everywhere after early WoR. This makes balancing all the different areas rather... difficult. Personally, I only encountered any sort of resistance in the Veldt Cave(Probably cause I got there rather early) and felt like I steamrolled every other dungeon without much trouble, despite working hard to keep my lvls in check.

I agree, but that seems like it would be beyond the scope of this mod. This same issue was present in the original game, and it's basically an issue with any open-world game. I like that aspect of the WoR. It makes the player evaluate an area when they arrive there. "I barely survived that encounter, maybe I should come back later." A problem might arise if you force your way through a higher level area and then get overleveled for other areas you should have tackled first from a difficulty perspective. Something that might help alleviate this problem somewhat is to provide a pretty clear recommended progression in game via NPC or PC dialogue, so the player has some idea what dungeon they should tackle next.

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1 hour ago, Budcakes said:

Something that might help alleviate this problem somewhat is to provide a pretty clear recommended progression in game via NPC or PC dialogue, so the player has some idea what dungeon they should tackle next.

All ready provided. Order of progression is Mt. Zozo -> Veldt Cave (also, nearby Terra and Gau) -> Owzer's Mansion -> Phoenix Cave -> everything else -> Cultist's Tower -> Kefka's Tower. The first three of those dungeons definitely feel easier than stuff like Cyan's Soul, Narshe, or Zone Eater's Cave, with Phoenix Cave kinda in the middle of these two sets in terms of difficulty. Outliers here are Ancient Castle and Ebot's Rock, which feel easy despite coming in the "later" set of WoR dungeons.

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Burning House being rather easy(As an introductory stage or smth) is fine... But it is not easy - it is a joke. That is not good, in my opinion.

Ebot's Rock and Ancient Castle feel like they could be buffed up, that's true.

Owzer's Mansion, Phoenix Cave and Cultist Tower stuck out to me as particulary easy. I did stuff in order(Aside from Veldt Cave) and did not grind one bit, often turning off exp - think by Cultist Tower, my party was about lvl 27-28, ELs at about 15-17.

 

So, to summarize the areas I felt were too easy~
FC(With proper setup, multi-party dungeon could alleviate the problem there).
Magitek Research Facility.
Burning House(And basically anything Thamasa).
Sealed Gate Cave.
Owzer's Mansion.
Phoenix Cave.
Ebot's Rock.
Ancient Castle.
Cultist Tower.

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3 hours ago, thzfunnymzn said:

All ready provided. Order of progression is Mt. Zozo -> Veldt Cave (also, nearby Terra and Gau) -> Owzer's Mansion -> Phoenix Cave -> everything else -> Cultist's Tower -> Kefka's Tower. The first three of those dungeons definitely feel easier than stuff like Cyan's Soul, Narshe, or Zone Eater's Cave, with Phoenix Cave kinda in the middle of these two sets in terms of difficulty. Outliers here are Ancient Castle and Ebot's Rock, which feel easy despite coming in the "later" set of WoR dungeons.

I say Owzer's Mansion is easier than Veldt Cave in my opinion so I would reverse this 2 but outside of that I agree.

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kool-aid-man.jpg

So, I didn't get in and reply to this thread when it first landed and now it's such a wall of text that Trump wants to put it on the border, so I'm just gonna throw out some general points rather than responding to everything.

First and foremost, I consider Locke to be easily the weakest character in the early game. I keep a chart detailing the "utility" use of each character (including both buffs and debuffs) and Locke is the only character with a ranking of zero on it. His multi-target damage is limited to his magic (which is generally weak) and his single target damage doesn't ignore defense until the end of the game. Healing and hitting things are all that he really brings to the table, and neither of those are fully developed until later on. So, I am glad to see anyone getting genuine good use out of him in the midgame.

On a similar note, I consider Kirin on Locke to be one of the few real "dud" options available, since in my mind you'd only give him Kirin levels for early-game bulk and then respec him later. The limited use he gets from stamina doesn't feel like it'd be worth the MP boost he gets from Phoenix along with the same amount of HP, so again I'm happy that cover/counter strats - the shiny new feature of the current version of Brave New World - is having the intended effect of making it a desirable option for him.

It's been pointed out that Locke is overleveled, and yes, this is the sort of thing that can occur without trying. The level curve is fairly linear excepting some "Humps" at levels 10, 20, and 30, and the mod was designed so that you'll often have large discrepancies between levels in your active party. The most common characters to see this happen are Celes and Sabin in the World of Ruin; it happens less often with Locke because, even though players are forced to use him a lot in the WoB, they will generally dump him when they're finally given the chance rather than keep him in the active party and give him a fair shake.

And for the record, I define "midgame" as post-IMTRF through getting your team reassembled in the World of Ruin.

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Speaking of overleveling, is flat out just reducing exp gains, at least in some critical areas, something worth considering at this point? With overleveling turning out to be such a common problem among players.. At least, many peeps in this community seem to struggle with it to some extent, whether a veteran or not - and even though it gets a bit murky where the difficulty is in the players' hands anyways(turning exp off etc), maybe it could stand to be just a little more conservative?

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5 hours ago, Hapanpappa said:

Speaking of overleveling, is flat out just reducing exp gains, at least in some critical areas, something worth considering at this point? With overleveling turning out to be such a common problem among players.. At least, many peeps in this community seem to struggle with it to some extent, whether a veteran or not - and even though it gets a bit murky where the difficulty is in the players' hands anyways(turning exp off etc), maybe it could stand to be just a little more conservative?

Some work to prevent people a bit more from overlevelling seems like a good idea.
However, one more feature I'd like to see: Turn of EXP without turning off EL gains. I find EL-training(Especially in Early-mid WoR) to be incredibly annoying. Some characters can really fall behind the EL curve - and, opposed to lvls, ELs represent a lot more... fun. Level ups aren't fun(No choice, "boring" powerboosts).

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Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, Hapanpappa said:

Speaking of overleveling, is flat out just reducing exp gains, at least in some critical areas, something worth considering at this point? With overleveling turning out to be such a common problem among players.. At least, many peeps in this community seem to struggle with it to some extent, whether a veteran or not - and even though it gets a bit murky where the difficulty is in the players' hands anyways(turning exp off etc), maybe it could stand to be just a little more conservative?

In my last playthrough of 1.9.0 I used seibaby's encounter patch v4, and I believe that by the end I was at least 2 or 3 levels lower than my 1.8.6 playthrough. I think I ended up between 28 and 32 for all characters, with EL's from 19 to 23,  I think that this is a good way of lowering levels without messing around with too much else. Also I never had to grind to keep up either. Im not sure if I play faster slower or what not, but  my playthrough was 52-54 hours. Which is a decent game, considering vanilla is usually 32 hours for me.

Edited by F-Bomb
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3 hours ago, F-Bomb said:

In my last playthrough of 1.9.0 I used seibaby's encounter patch v4, and I believe that by the end I was at least 2 or 3 levels lower than my 1.8.6 playthrough. I think I ended up between 28 and 32 for all characters, with EL's from 19 to 23,  I think that this is a good way of lowering levels without messing around with too much else. Also I never had to grind to keep up either. Im not sure if I play faster slower or what not, but  my playthrough was 52-54 hours. Which is a decent game, considering vanilla is usually 32 hours for me.

IIRC, work is being done to make seibaby's encounter patch fit for mainstream release. IIRC, currently, there are technical issues with it.

That said, I would definitely appreciate a patch that raises the minimum number of steps taken before an encounter. Hiking to fight the Ice Dragon in NHT got real annoying when every (other) step in town of Narshe was an encounter.

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Posted (edited)

For anyone wanting to play around with various (almost) even-levelled character build options for the FC, here's an Snes9x savestate with all characters at level 17-18 with 8-10 unspent ELs. If anyone wants an SRAM, I can try to make that happen too, though my setup seems to be mighty finnicky with persisting SRAMs for some reason...

Throughout this run, I fought no more battles than necessary (applied the the Random Encounter patch and used Chocobos where possible), with the exception of hanging around Zozo until I had two Healing Shivs and a Mystery Egg after the Dadluma fight. I was regularly about 1-2 levels behind the expected level for any given point along the way, and chronically low on cash and Phoenix Downs. Under these conditions, most of the game felt like a decent challenge – some slip ups or rough RNG could mean dropping a character or two, but for the most part I felt like I was in control of my fate and didn't have to employ any fancy tactics. There were a few points where the struggle was a little more real, however:

Dadaluma: at Vaylen's request, I deliberately gimped myself a bit here with party composition. I brought along Cyan, Gau, Celes and Shadow. This party was well suited to dispatching (har) randoms, but really struggled with the big guy. Celes hadn't learned Slow yet (everyone was about level 10 here); and while Cyan and Gau could both theoretically set Sap to counter the Regen from Slim Jim, the add-ons made it tough to reliably land it. In the end, it came down to RNG – if Big D KOd Gau before he had the chance to set Rerise on himself, the resulting recovery spiral would generally result in a wipe. On my 4th try, I pulled through. I wonder if going Hornet with Gau would have been any better – but keeping Gau on his feet was the hardest part of the fight, and Conjurer definitely made that possible. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I brought Cyan and Sabin for the IMTRF segment, and that went fine. Had some really close calls with the Cranes and the boss on the tracks (I forget his number), but no wipes here.

The battle on the bridge at the Sealed Gate was another close call (IIRC, Edgar finished it off with a Bio Blaster with 1HP remaining), but again no wipes.

The Ultros fight by the statues was the hardest part of this run, but it was my own stupid forgetful fault. I savestated after the chitchat by the statues, and didn't feel like reloading an earlier save, so I was stuck with the loadout I had – and neither Terra nor Strago knew Shell, and I forgot to pick up Zoneseek prior to this segment. Party was around level 15ish here (maybe a 14 on Strago). Tentacle was a 1HKO for Strago and about 75% of Terra's max HP, and El Nino was knocking off about 80% of Locke's max HP, so it was too easy to find myself in a losing recovery spiral here. This one probably took me about 8 attempts to get past. Though again, probably would have been much different with access to Shell to take the edge off of El Nino.

The only segment along the way that felt too easy was the Opera House; but maybe that's just Sabin's Hell Claw talking?

Edited by SirNewtonFig
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Posted (edited)

On 7/10/2018 at 8:13 PM, thzfunnymzn said:

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

Having now run C/C on the FC with Terra, Celes, Cyan, Shadow, Locke, Mog, and Edgar, I think I enjoy the ladies most. The others follow in the order just listed. Thoughts below:

Terra took around 3 Bismark levels with the rest in Unicorn, while Celes took around 5 in Seraph with the rest in Phantom (maybe one more Seraph before Atma). I found single blade preferable to dual wield, opting for Gold Shield/Mystery Veil/Power Armor with Power Glove and Hero Ring. This left them a little squishy (what's that, like 105 Defense?), but they proc potent tier-2s all over the place. Elec Sword for the IAF, and Icebrand for the rest. Blood Sword is ok, but the procs are limited in power and suicidal against Djinn. There are just so many capable healers you can bring along to keep your tank patched up, why not let your tank be monster DPS too?

Cyan is probably more dependable than the ladies, but with lower burst damage potential on his counters. He still hits moderately hard though, and he just never goes down. Empowerer doesn't care if you're undead, it eats your soul whoever you are. (I swear Cyan is secretly the resident Death Knight of this mod.)

Shadow C/C is hilarious, and a close favorite behind Terra/Celes/Cyan. Has anyone collected enough stats on evasion's interactions with Cover to confirm that the evasion reduction is working? It feels like he's still dodging nearly everything, but maybe that's just some hot RNG. Behemoths and Ninjas laugh at the Wind Slash and Break procs, but they wreck everything else. Even Atma was getting a faceful of 2K+ damage from Shadow anytime he tried to smack anyone around with physical attacks. Watch out for those Discords from Djinn though, yowza. Probably best paired with Mog jamming on Forest Suite to keep everyone safe.

Locke evasion tanking isn't bad at all, but he gets less sword procs than the ladies with his setup (unless he trades his Thief Glove for some huevos misterioso, I guess?). He does, however, have the perk of being able to run Blood Sword with less worries by pairing it with the Demonsbane and hoping that dispatches the nasty Djinn before the Drain proc dispatches him.

Mog C/C with rod procs makes enemies dead fast. It also makes Mog dead fast. One amusing observation from these experiments is that Cover still seems to work while Dancing. I was under the impression that this was not the case, but maybe i'm misinformed. It's possible that its odds are simply reduced, but I'm still definitely getting Cover procs while Mog grooves out. This means that Mog can bodyguard while throwing around Harvesters and Sun Baths, which is pretty bomb. That all said, I don't recall seeing any Counter procs through all of this, so maybe he can't have it all. Could be streaky RNG too. In any case, I probably wouldn't advise any of this without the Hero Ring from the FC, as his squishy HP will not hold out long.

Edgar C/C isn't a complete waste here, but it is extremely meh. I want Unicorn Edgar to be a thing, I really do; but he just doesn't have the base stats to back it up. Going full Unicorn, I think he was packing a grand total of 39 Stamina if holding an Icebrand, though his pitiable 32 Magic makes for some sadder procs. With both relic slots dedicated to C/C, he's got no way to boost his procs in either frequency or power. Blood Sword actually isn't bad (42 Stamina now, and the procs don't care that his Magic sucks), but now the Djinn make fast work of him. Personally, I don't feel like the FC is Edgar's time to shine in general – maybe if he had access to his Flash pre-FC, a Siren build would have more to contribute here. Other than that, elemental sword jumping on a Golem build works, but it's a little sluggish.

 

Edited by SirNewtonFig
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Interesting.

For Shadow, is either he seeing full evasion under Cover, or is Interceptor's extra evasion chance actually working with Cover, despite Interceptor not countering? Shadow...really shouldn't be the team tank.

I'm torn on C/C Dance Mog. On the one hand, Forest Suite + c/c Rods seems like the ultimately in a defensive Mog set-up, and I'm not totally certain it's necessarily bad (probably because I find the random nature of Dances to be a limiting factor on Dance's power). Otoh, it completely runs all over my favorite Sage Stone Mog, since I perceive Dance + c/c as probably being far preferably to Dance + Sage. Course, this is all late WoR, once Mog's got actual HP (Terrato). Seems like, early on, he just needs to stick with Dance.

My initial thought on Unicorn Edgar is you'd want to two-hand a spear for the innate Cover + extra power. Otoh, yeah, c/c Edgar ain't hot b/c of low Cover% and weak counters. Cover ain't bad utility on Edgar, but it ain't making a build. (Problem with Cover being used more c/c purposes, rather than as mostly a defensive tool). While its disappointing that Siren Edgar lacks his defining support Tools on the FC, his speed + Edgar's normal tankiness should be enough to make him plenty useful on the FC. Though you'd still play him as an alternative vig Edgar at the time, rather than as raw support.

C/C is definitely becoming a way of weaponizing one's HP score. Which...probably makes HP-based builds even better than they all ready are? Personally disappointed that I hear more about c/c rather than Cover as a purely defensive strat, as I had initially pitched the idea to BTB as a way of building true Defender roles in FFVI. Still, lack of personal experience means I can only comment so much on balance.

 

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I 100% support the Mog experience that I had, which was that Dance+Cover worked, but the Counters didn't happen. Streaks of non-recovery steps happen (just like streaks of non-Covered hits), so it's far from OP. Having Counter on top of that would definitely be over the top with his insane rod procs.

I'm torn on C/C as a viable offensive strat. On the one hand, it's fun and badass; but I think certain characters are just able to exploit the offensive opportunity too well. Or maybe it's just the balance of the FC? I haven't done this level of analysis elsewhere yet. If there was at least one immune/absorb mob on the FC for each of the elemental blades, it would take Terra/Celes down a peg. There was some chatter about putting a damage penalty on the counterattacks — I'd be interested in taking that for a spin to see how it compares too.

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Eh, I can take a preliminary stab at FC balance and # of options available to player.

Initial spoiler tag here just opens up to each character with their tl;dr. Opening those character's spoiler tags leads to a "thinking out loud, wall of text", so reader beware.

Spoiler

Terra: Mostly fine. In and of herself, only potential idea is Maduin = Stam +2 (with Tritoch = Mag +1 / MP +15) and a pre-Atma stam sword (carefully balanced) to make stam build available and functional for FC. Otherwise, any balance issues are probably coming from other characters being op, maybe from c/c needing some work.

Spoiler

- Number of builds are somewhat reduced. HP/MP, vig, and mag are available, but mag simply isn't worthwhile until Kefka's Tower, and stam is unavailable. I'll still, again, put forth my idea for Maduin = Stam +2, Tritoch = Mag +1 / MP +15, though with also adding in a pre-Atma stam sword (definitely with low BPow, lest it overtake vig). That way, stam build, at least, is both available and functional for the FC. Don't think it's possible to make mag both available and functional.

- HP/MP Terra has most of her options and feels neither op nor up. She's missing her boss killing Ice 3 and Bolt 3, and cannot be paired with Chakra, but that's about it. Storm kills IAF, Fire 3 (if at lvl.20) kills Gigantos (low mg.def), status control for randoms, Cure 2 and Life with Carbunkl ELs and Magic Cube, Shell, the bulk and relics (Knight or Hero) for Cover support, and Break as a quite useful damage option. (As much as I dislike it for Mog, 1.10's proposed 32 MP cost for Break is probably very fair for Terra). She's even got Reflect & Carbunkl for Atma strats. I suspect she's mostly ignored because of Setzer (Go Fish, Blackjack) and Celes (spd, Ice 2, Bolt 2).

- vig Terra has an assortment of options and doesn't feel op, though iunno how she compares to HP/MP Terra. She's got Morph, plenty of weapon options, c/c, and her magics. The last of those options is slight weak because Phoenix is missing, so a Bismark + Phoenix combo for extra MP (elemental sniping, heals) isn't available, but the reduced uses for elemental sniping on FC compared to WoR make that less of an issue. (Technically an issue for vig + Cure/Life hybrids, but that's hardly the end of the world >_>). I haven't significantly tested Morph's balance on the FC, but what I have done and the theory-craft doesn't seem bad: she's got Wind/Water resistance for Ultros and Reflect strats / Smoke Bomb support for Atma. Physical defense support options for Ultros (III and IV) are definitely limited, so that's an issue. She seems fine. Only potential issue she might have is the Rod users (Ice and Bolt) overpowering / cutting it to close to her Morph game, though she probably c/c's better than any of them. iunno about's c/c balance for her. Having Smoke Bombs buyable in Thamasa might be nice insurance for the player not forgetting to stock up for Shadow for the FC (could also have Shurikens and Sakura / Kunai be available).

Locke: Biggest issues center around his magic / healing game being almost completely WoR-locked (excepting Healing Shiv) and c/c possibly being imbalanced. Ideas for former are sketchy, including stuff like early Sage Stone or early Rogue Cloak, though where they'd be so as to not be missable, iunno. c/c is an on-going discussion.

Spoiler

- Lack of Phoenix and other WoR magic options is very noticeable. Lack of Bolt 2 strats for IAF / Ultros is probably all right, but his potential as one of the game's primary healers is locked to the WoR. (Celes is taking over his role for the WoB). Little can be done about his MP other than the Magic Cube or some potential base MP (latter is highly unlikely). A WoB Sage Stone would open up his magical options despite the low MP and it's probably mechanically fine on Locke right now b/c of his low MP. But iunno if it's right aesthetically, and iunno if it's mechanically fine on Strago or Mog at this time. Rogue Cloak could boost Cure 2 healing, though that's just no the same as FC x-healing strats. On aesthetic grounds and on balance concerns for Strago & Mog, iunno if much will be done here, so his mid-game healing potential is limited to the hidden Healing Shiv weapon.

- Kirin + Ramuh is really the best and only build option for Locke on the FC. Ifrit's extra speed simply cannot compete with an actual HP stat or more damage per blow, especially since Locke's support game is limited to Shiv and Item, both of which Shadow can handle anyways (and he's forced), though Locke's bulkier. This....actually makes a decent counter-argument against "no early Sage Stone"? As then there'd be more of a reason to do something besides "bulky c/c" Locke for the FC. Issue is that Sage Stone has to not be missable, so iunno where it'd go.

- My experience with Fighter Locke on the FC is limited to my last two games of "excessive Kirin, mostly Fight command with big bulk". As this topic showed, Locke's also got plenty of options with c/c and a good weapon selection. (Elemental blades, Blood Sword, Rising Sun, Demonsbane). Iunno how balanced he is. I played him inefficiently my last two games, but even then, he felt quite strong. He definitely doesn't need any buffs, though it sounds like any nerfs would be strictly limited to the c/c game (which, tbf, was only recently introduced, so its balance is obviously not perfect).

Edgar: Not imbalanced, but restricted to "Tank Edgar" strats, with Drill potentially confusing people as to what his real benefits are (Dragoon with Elemental Blades, Cover without c/c, utility). Idea for mag Edgar is replacing Drill with WoB counterpart to Defib, both pushing people away from Drill and giving mag Edgar an actual game plan. Also, so that Dragoon is useful earlier in WoB (and not forgotten on FC), Stout Spear -> 2x Damage to Humans Spear, Fire Lance -> Stout Spear, nerf BioBlaster's BPow.

Spoiler

- All critical esper options are available. Palidor is missing, but that's fair. It's not like Dragoon Edgar can only, or even most efficiently, be used with pure Palidor ELs.

- Tank Edgar feels fine. Drill's weak, but he's got HP/armor, Cover options with Spear and his bulk, Dragooning with Elemental Blades, plenty of debuffs / control, and even Haste. Cure 2's weak right now b/c of no Nirvana and limited MP, but oh well. If he's unpopular on the FC, I suspect it's b/c people aren't making full use of his available options. I suspect it's because they're thinking of Drill rather than Dragoon, Cover without c/c, or debuffs. Nothing inherently wrong with Edgar.

- mag Edgar, while he exists, is missing buid-defining Tools. While Flash is unnecessary (Blasters, yo), the lack of Defib and Battery is noticeable, as is his reduced MP for his Cure 2 game and the lack of Nirvana Band. Right now, mag Edgar mostly feels like an alternative vig Edgar, trading HP for spd. Especially feels this way since Dragooning with Elemental Blades raises spellcast rate, so magic is being used to a degree. Still aesthetically displeasing though. Straightforward fix would be to have either a WoB counterpart to the Defib or for a WoB Battery. Kneejerk is that the former sounds better, though iunno if it's still op, up, or balanced. As a warning: mag Edgar isn't weak on the FC. It's just he feels like a vig Edg variant instead of feeling like himself (support Edg). So, if WoB-balanced Defib is a wee too much for vig Edgar, it could be balanced perhaps by taking away another option that Edg doesn't really need?

- If Drill is throwing off people's Tank Edgar game and if WoB Defib counterpart is good, obvious solution is to axe the drill and replace with a weak Defib counterpart, probably buyable after the IMF. No Drill forces people out of the rut of "Drill mindset" with vig Edg, weak Defib lets mag Edg actually play his game a bit?

- Related to no Drill is that Dragoon, while fine on the FC, is still weak prior to FC. Too long of a hang-time for far too little damage. Edg is still a boss b/c of Blasters, but it's aesthetically displeasing that Dragoon is purposeless early on. Simplest fix is to create a spear that does 2x Damage to Humans, to be used against Dadaluma, Number 024, Kefka, etc, etc, and to nerf BioBlaster's BPow if necessary to counterbalance. Fire Lance is redundant with Flametongue, so it can become the old Stout Spear while the current Stout Spear becomes this 2x damage to human spear. Jump's hangtime is still an ugly issue, but oh well.

- hyb Edg doesn't exist b/c mag Edg doesn't have his stuff ye, and b/c Palidor + Siren isn't a thing yet. Nothing special should be done about this, mostly noting it.

Sabin: Biggest issue is stam Sabin lacking build-defining options, but 1.10's proposed Mantra change may just fix that. Otherwise, definitely strong on the FC, but I think most people can read 1.10 changelog when it's out and then opine on if mid-game vig Sabin is balanced or not. I...need other people's input here, to be honest.

Spoiler

- Terrato Sabin doesn't exist, oh noes!1! This is....actually modestly important, as with neither Terrato nor Chakra, support / stam Sabin is playing a radically different game from what he plays later on. Terrato and Chakra not existing now is fine, so biggest issue is making sure Mantra is appealing, which 1.10 is slated to do. (While Aurabolt exists, it's mostly another ST damage option, which makes stam Sabin just feel like an alternative vig Sabin. One could argue for stam Fire Dance for stam Sabin being AoE and Mantra, but Mantra is by far the more important one here: so long as 1.10's proposed idea works, not sure if anything really needs to happen to Fire Dance).

- vig Sabin has plenty of options and is a boss. Probably a few too many honestly, but I think 1.10 is slated to handle most of that. Also, c/c Ocean Claws are a thing, lolz.

- hyb Sabin isn't really a thing right now, mostly b/c Mantra and Chakra ain't things and b/c current theory is to build more Golem than Stray for HP. Dunno if proposed 1.10 Mantra might change that.

Celes: Only potential issue / idea I see is c/c balance, as well as how mag Celes' offense relates to vig Celes' offense, since the former is a decidedly better support tank.

Spoiler

- Technically lacks some options from missing Alexander and Crusader, but that's probably fine. She still has plenty of option for bulk, vigor, spd/mag, or even hybridization.

- vig Celes, like vig Terra, has a good assortment of options and doesn't feel op. She's got Seraph + vig gives bulk with MP for Cure/Life/utility, she's got Phantom + Seraph + armor for c/c, a good weapon selection, and Runic (lol). Things missing are Alex for a full-in tank build, as well as ??? for having Cover and Counter on one relic. Also, concerns about c/c in this topic. Other noticeable is that Elemental Blades overlap with Ice 2 and Bolt 2; I hear mag Celes is more popular than vig Celes, and I suspect this would be the reason why. Nothing can or should be done about Alex. Not sure if anything should be done about ??? either, though there's a better argument there? c/c discussion, I need other people's input. Overlap of elemental magic and blades is concerning, but iunno what can be done other than a more varied weapon selection, which 1.10 is slated to do with a stronger Morning Star. Other people might have more insight here?

- mag Celes is a boss. Proper elementals for hammering weaknesses, primary healer with Cure/Life, bulk, spd+ ELs, potential Cover support, and utility options with Rerise/Seraph, Haste, and Safe. She's A+ amazing. Iunno if she's quite op, but even if not, she's definitely top-of-the-line of non-op builds here. Iunno what can or should be done. Kneejerk idea is that vig Celes ought to be better offense while mag Celes ought to be better support (spd+ and MP+ and back-row for the latter, weapon selection for the former). So, that says either look at elemental magic or vig Celes' offense (c/c)? Having a WoB c/c relic certainly might change things, esp since vig Celes was supposed to be one of the one's defined as being great c/c. But iunno about c/c's mid-game balance. Changing elemental magic is.....probably not gonna happen, and honestly, a much trickier proposition anyways. (Only option is higher MP cost, but I doubt that sounds fair).

- hyb Celes is a thing. Anyone play Ramuh + Siren on the FC? Sounds like she wouldn't really grow into her own until higher EL counts and Alex anyways.

Cyan: 1.10 is slated to balance most of the long-standing balance issues here. Only other potential issue is c/c balance, which is the topic of discussion. 1.10 is slated to have something else that might effect c/c balance to, but I'm not the best judge of that, so wait for changelog to evaluate and opine on that.

Spoiler

- Alexander isn't a thing, oh noes!1! OK, so, we can't build Bismark + Alexander, which is annoying. Kirin + Bismark for a vigor Cyan with some bulk is still a thing though. It leads to an annoying respec later on, that's it.

- For vig Cyan and stam Cyan, biggest issue I see is that Dragon hits really hard, making it somewhat pointless to build Bismark right now, and the potential balance of c/c. Dragon vs. vigor is slated to be worked on in 1.10. c/c is the discussion of the topic.

- ...is there anything else that could even be an issue for Cyan? He's got whatever bulk he needs, he's actually got a meaningful AoE right now with Storm / Bismark for the IAF, he's not meant to be a great healer. Only real issue is that Kazekiri isn't useful, but 1.10 is, again, slated to do something about that.

Shadow: c/c Shadow is worrisome, might be some glitches with c/c on Evade or Interceptor. Having a few throwables in Thamasa would be nice, as a heads up. Otherwise, most balance discussion here is moot aside from insuring he's not op or up. I would need help for any further analysis. Early Fenrir would be nice, but it's hardly critical, and probably not worth the effort.

Spoiler

- Is forced, so balance vs other characters is a moot point. Also, he doesn't feel op. Tricky to use, but probably not up either. Only Phantom exists right now, that can't be fixed. So, only potential issue is number of options he has, potential character synergy, and making sure he's properly leveled in level and EL. 1.10 is slated to give him an option or two.

- c/c Shadow is worrisome. Are we sure c/c is actually havling evade and/or ignoring Interceptor?

- For the most part, I would need other people to opine on Shadow. (He's not a favorite of mine). Only issue I know of is that it's easy to forget to stock up on Throwables for him, since the stock is back in Jidoor. Solution would be having a few stockables in Thamasa, as a heads up to the player. Full supply probably ain't necessary. Perhaps just Smoke Bombs, Shuriken or Kunai, and Sakura. (Shuriken and Kunai, without Sakura, is an option, but I'd personally rather the player be able to buy Shadow's latest weapon).

- Early Fenrir lets Shadow immediately go either Phantom or Fenrir which....is somewhat nice, as otherwise, the player is banking ELs or respec'ing if they want to go heavy Fenrir. Hardly critical though.

Gau: 1.10 is slated to fix several problems with Rage balance. Stamina's use as a stat for Gau, while related to this discussion, is honestly a whole 'nother discussion entirely. A stam-based heal balanced for the WoB is an idea, but probably not happening. Early Fenrir is an idea, but that's a can of worms.

Spoiler

- WoB Gau balance, lol. 1.10 is slated to make multiple changes here, so most of what I might evaluate is moot. In terms of Gau's multiple Rage options, my biggest concern is that Brawler and Cephalid tend to overshadow other options, since they hit hard and key off the only stat Gau can build right now. I personally wish stamina did something for Gau other than "stam-damage Rages and bigger heals on Harvester", but that's a whole 'nother discussion I ain't getting into. Best idea I have now is to insure available Rages are balanced with each other (1.10 is slated to do that) and nothing is op. A very weak stam-based heal on a WoB Rage is an idea, but that'd require creating a whole 'nother move to insure that it's not imbalanced, which probably isn't happening.

- An early Fenrir would be nice, but that's a can of worms right there.

Setzer: If it weren't for Slots, he'd be fine, though it'd nice if Dice were more useful. Slots, however, are stupidly op. Unfortunately, fixing them either requires making them useless later on, magic programming skills to allow for having some Slots now but others later, or reverts Slots back to being randomized.

Spoiler

- Neither Starlet nor Heiji's Coin exist, so reliable GP Toss isn't an option. Also, no Starlet means it's not possible to beef up Setzer's Cover % or status / fractional evade %, which is something you'd want a healer. For now, he's limited to HP/MP, or to bigger Slots/heals with magic. I don't perceive anything that can be done about this.

- Obviously, Setzer is premier Cleric. HP, heavy armor, Green Beret or Hero (Cover), infinite Go Fish supply, Cure 2, Rerise/Seraph. Magic Cube with pure Seraph ELs gives him a fat MP supply for Rerise / Cure 2 in the Atma fight. (Chakra unnecessary, just use an Ether or two if needed, this would be a fight to use them in). Outside of Slots, he's a little limited on the offense, as he should be. Shoat's slated to get an MP cost increase (48), which is fine, since it's an underrated tool for clearing randoms. No Daryl's Soul, limited human/undead, and weak Dice means there's no real use for his Fight, which....is technically an issue. Mostly, it'd be nice if Dice weren't garbage, but that's an issue for BTB and seibaby to discuss. (Someone seemed to like Dice + Hyper Wrist. Maybe Dice actually is fine, presuming some specialized strats? Iunno). Possibly more popular than other bulky healers, but excepting Slots, I think that's more an issue of perception and popularity rather than actual balance, assuming that I'm even right about popularity.

- Bio's slated to get a small change (60 BPow instead of 54, sets Sap). Still mostly useful for sniping Ninjas and Gigantos, but it does give Setzer a little extra magical oomph if he doesn't want to use Slot attacks. Nothing really wrong here.

- Slots. Slots, slots, slots, slots, slots. Blackjack is absurdly powerful (and slated to get even stronger), Chocobop gives an AoE Stop IIRC, and Go Fish is an infinite healing supply while trekking through the FC. Being quite un-moderate in my opinion, there's really nothing balanced about these things, they're humongously op. There's really no way to fix that without Slots becoming weaker later on without a way to say "You have these potential Slot results at this point in the game, while you get these other ones later in the game." Otherwise, imo, only other way to balance them would be to revert them to being truly randomized instead of skill-based and to find some other method of making it worthwhile to go heavy Shoat on Setzer.

Mog: Highly restricted, though what's available is top-of-the-line for the FC. Mog balance is a huge can of worms with an ugly history. Ideas here include an early Palidor, Maduin = Stam +2 (Tritoch = Mag +1 / MP +15), and early Sage Stone. Dance balance is a can of worms.

Spoiler

- Highly limited in available options. Most noticeably, he lacks Palidor, Terrato, or the Moogle Charm. Also, there's really not much of a difference between Maduin and Shoat, in terms of ELs. Does have Magus Hat or Magic Cube to get MP for using his magic, but the only real options right now are some debuffs and Bio, so it's not worthwhile. FC Mog is highly restricted to being Dance Mog right now.

- Lack of Terrato cannot be helped. An early Palidor was brought up some time ago. It didn't make it in, but I bring it up again as it would be REALLY nice in terms of opening up Mog's build options. I mentioned under Terra the thought of Maduin = Stam +2 (and Tritoch = Mag +1 / MP +15) for her balance. For Mog, that change and an early Palidor would open up build variety for Mog on the FC? Lack of Moogle Charm still restricts mixing Dance with other options and restricts Palidor to normal Dragoon or smacking things with Rods, but that's probably all right. Also, early Palidor brings Haste and SlowX, opening up Mog's magic utility.

- Early Palidor, as a build, would be restricted to normal Dragoon (spear or Rod), smacking things with Rods, and high speed for Magic / Item utility. Lack of Dance utility is fine, some options should still be WoR restricted. Biggest issue here is that Spear Jumping is far less useful than Rod Jumping on the FC, with neither being too amazing for randoms b/c of hangtime, so Mog would want to use Rising Suns and such. (Lol, he actually would use those weapons). Most people, however, conceive of Rods as magic weapons, despite vig Mog technically being quite good with them. Rod tactics all ready exists, so early Palidor, as a build, is probably conceived as being somewhat shaky (not terribly different from other options), although the utility of speed still technically exists.

- Pumping a Stam +2 esper is dumb, unless you just don't care for Forest Suite's damage and want to extra resistance to status / fractional. Although for the latter, if you're running Forest Suite, you're probably also running relic immunities and Gaia Gear, so that's a moot point. Stam +2 / Mag +2 combo is nothing new. Only real gain is mixing Stam +2 and early Palidor. You wouldn't do that for the offense (can't mix Jump with Dance, can't mix Counter with Dance) but for the extra speed while dancing Forest Suite, so as to try and get your potential Harvester turn slightly faster. Not really convinced it's hugely amazing, definitely would be less popular than stam/mag.

- I mentioned Sage Stone for mag Locke earlier. For Mog, without early Palidor, probably not all that useful. Would lack the utility Palidor brings (Slow, Haste), so you'd mostly be restricted to X-Bio or X-Break, which would compete with Water Rondo. Water Rondo wins, obviously. With Palidor, Sage Mog would have some neat utility unavailable to Dance Mog (no Charm = no mixing Dance with anything), and X-Bio would be good damage at a somewhat affordable price. Mog would still burn MP / Tinctures / Ethers, but it'd be an option; if anything else, it'd provide double Haste and double Slow for Atma. Anyone mad enough to try and use the ultra expensive X-Break would at least do huge damage, comparable to Morph Terra or Rod strats.

- Dance balance is a can of worms. Mog is definitely strong right now, easily one of the best for the FC thanks to Water Rondo, Forest Suite, Wind Song, and Earth Blues.

Strago: Underpowered for the FC, but only concrete idea I have there is early Sage Stone, which iunno if it swings things too far the other way or not. Certainly debateable aesthetically? Could argue he needs a better Lore selection, but iunno what one would do there.

Spoiler

- Only one build available, the magic build. Odin won't come for a long time. Nothing can be done about this.

- Somewhat eclectic and weak options available with Lore and Magic. Aqua Rake is great for IAF and Ice 2 at least hits a weakness for Atma, though its perhaps low down on the list as a way to abuse that weakness? Other than this, only real option within Lore/Magic is Reflect and Slow for Atma, Holy Wind, or the possibility to learn Blowfish for acceptable damage. I'd personally rank Strago as one of the worst options to bring to the FC, unless you're abusing Rod strats (which isn't anything Mog or Relm can't do).

- Rod + Black Belt is a very interesting option for Strago on the FC, but it comes at a price (front row) and it's not inherently different from anything Mog or Relm couldn't do (aside from Mog not having any MP). Biggest power boost is having Bolt Rod for Ultros and Chupon, though Ice Rod + Black Belt for Atma is still probably better than Ice 2, provided Strago doesn't croak (hint: use Smoke Bombs). Again, though, it's nothing Mog or Relm can't do, and it's a "veteran" strat.

- I've mentioned Sage Stone for Locke and Mog. Strago is the real balance concern for an early Sage Stone. X-Magic with Ice 2, Shell, and Reflect represents a very big power boost to Strago, especially against Atma. Otoh, I was talking about how Strago is one of the weakest options available for the FC, so maybe this is perfectly fine?

- Something, something, Lore options on FC?

Relm: With good brushes proposed for 1.10, I'm not sure I can pinpoint anything that's particularly imbalanced. Bringing her to FC does commit one to two frail people on the FC. I'd need other people's opinions here.

Spoiler

- Technically has two build options available: heavy Zoneseek, or heavy Ifrit. Lacks Bahamut for Ifrit, which means Zoneseek might edge out without careful MP management on heavy Ifrit; 1.10 is slated to modify Brushes to be more useful, which certainly would represent a very useful thing for Ifrit Relm. Lacks Starlet, but stam Relm is a gimmick anyways. (I'm certainly not biased).

- Despite her frailty, dunno if she's up. You are committed to two frail people (Relm and Shadow), but she's got Life, Rerise, Sketch (Flare/Raze vs Atma), Ifrit summon, Zoneseek summon, and actually useful brushes proposed for 1.10. There may or may not be an issue with Sketch's usefulness vs IAF, Ultros, and the FC mobs (Glare vs Dragon, lol), but otherwise, she's in a surprisingly decent place. Oh, and Bolt / Ice Rod strats, which kinda counter-argues needs Sketch anyways for IAF and Ultros. Iunno, there's a lot here in theory, but I'd need other opinions about her balance her.

- Brushes, again, are getting useful in 1.10, so I really don't know what else is wrong here.

 

tl;dr

  • Aside from Slots, stam Cyan, and maybe c/c, nothing's really op. stam Cyan is getting taken care of in 1.10, without totally nerfing him. Mog and mag Celes are definitely top-of-the-line here, so I guess one could look at that?
  • Biggest issue is that many characters lack variety. Most Notably: Locke, Edgar, and Mog. Biggest proposals I have there are a WoB Sage Stone (somewhere where it's unmissable), replacing the Drill with a weaker WoB counterpart to the Defib, and an early Palidor.
  • Strago's definitely underpowered. Gau may or may not be, but he's complicated. Early Sage Stone (from above) is a potential option for Strago, but...iunno.
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I brought Relm to the FC during my developer's commentary run. I kicked ass with her. Sketch tears up quite a few of the random mobs, and she was one of my top damage dealers for Atma Weapon.

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