I've spent most of this mod feeling like I'm playing it wrong. Right now I'm running Duran/Carlie/Angela as Paladin/Magus/Sage on the default difficulty and I'm playing by myself; I played the original like ten years ago so this may as well be a brand new thing for me and I picked my party because they reminded me of the party in Secret of Mana. The game's handed my ass to me several times in various ways. For instance:
-my physical attackers don't seem to hit a lot. Like a lot a lot. I put out a lot of swings but like half of them miss, if I'm lucky. I've tended toward weapons with high hit rate (mostly the broadsword, although I recently switched to the silver blade when it became available), but the tradeoff there is that I don't seem to be cresting 20 with any individual physical hit, and this is against physical neutral creatures. If I match their element with a saber I might get up to 30-ish on a normal attack, with a strong attack getting up to 40. Maybe this was my mistake for not immediately maxing Dex and using a falchion instead but it's kind of disheartening.
-apparently the way I picked my party in the beginning meant I only had two characters (Duran and Carlie) for Full Metal Haggar and I replayed that fight so many times I was afraid I simply couldn't win the damage race and would have to restart. At the end of the day I used basically all the consumables I had managed to scrape together, including two bulette's scales I'd stumbled into because I happen to like going after Ogre Boxes whenever I got treasure and the panel was there.
-my strategy for the vast majority of boss fights has basically been to make sure I'm carrying around a full stack of candies (and later chocolates) and heal whenever anybody's below max so I don't get exploded by whatever burst damage counter limit break thing thing the boss has in its pocket. Not only does this mean my whole party's contracted diabetes, it's kind of impacted the playability of the game, because it starts feeling a lot less like an action RPG and more like a weird turn-based one. Most of my fights have been with my party being equal level to the boss and I've only sat down and grinded a couple of times. If I'm "supposed" to be fighting them at a higher level than they are, then I'll do it, but that's going to run out eventually because I'm pretty sure I'll be hitting cap at the rate I'm going before the last couple of bosses.
-Money's tight. Clearly at least part of this is that I'm personally buying up every country's supply of sweets, but weapons etc. are damn expensive and that's bad for my collector tendencies. Even despite that, though, it's odd that the weapons are all supposed to be balanced with each other in a rough sense, yet each "tier" seems to double or triple in price from the previous one. It certainly doesn't feel like the amount of money I'm getting from higher level monsters is increasing at a similar rate. Also, I haven't been able to cover buffs for everything given my party layout; this has specifically stung me in the butt whenever something pulls out a dex debuff, since none of my characters have the corresponding buff. Stardust Herbs make that okay if that's what they lead off with, but if I've put any of the buffs I do have on before they hit me then using the herb will waste all of them. There are items to fix that-in particular I managed to get a bunch of bird scales in Rolante from drops-but if I'm looking to get particular ones I have to spend money on them, and as noted money's tight.
-I don't know what stacks and what doesn't as far as item properties go. Like, yeah, obviously the numerical increases all work together, but if I stick a Revelation Cane, Bunnydress and White Snow Veil on Angela, do all of those damage boosts stack or not? Experimentally it doesn't seem like they do, but it's hard sometimes seeing what numbers go to what attack the way the game resolves. And does wearing six Beastman Collars actually boost your money gain six times over and it's just that money drops really are just that tiny? I've done that when it was feasible (i.e. when the enemies weren't able to kill me if I wasn't using an accessory layout that gave me actual stat boosts) but it doesn't feel like it makes that much of a difference.
-For the most part I haven't felt like there's been a "only one strategy" for bosses. I've muddled along with the SOP my characters seem capable of (figure out what element the boss is vulnerable to and have Angela spam it and try to keep her from suicidally running into the melee, Carlie threw a lot of Holy Ball but now I have her use sabers and mind up now that she knows them, Duran pushes people around and maybe swings for 20 damage every once in a while and spams candies and chocolates) and made it through more or less intact. There were three boss fights where actually having an AoE nuker felt like a positive (Gildervine, Robots 2: Electric Boogaloo and Sephiroth's Mom) instead of just something I had. But there are two boss fights now that I can't imagine being able to do with anything but a specific gear layout and resultant strategy, given the team members I have. That's the first Bill and Ben fight and now Dolan, the first God-Beast I chose to fight and the current brick wall I've hit. I don't think it's numerically possible to beat Bill and Ben with my team if I don't do basically the opposite of everything that makes sense with two of the characters I have.
The problem is that I didn't have the gear that enabled that strategy, and you can't leave Rolante once you've acquired Jinn until you beat those two, so I couldn't go get it from where I was. I ended up rolling back to an earlier savestate and making a run to the Dwarf Village and Maia, then doing all that stuff with Tzenker and Genova and them over again. Which kind of damaged my morale having to first figure out how much progress I had to lose (since I didn't know exactly when I got locked out of leaving) and then of course go through that all over again, and even then it was more of a resource blowout than usual. I mean I suppose I could have sat there beating up needlebirds until I had enough money to buy 20 Angel Grails too but that seemed like even more of a trial.
Now with Dolan, I've figured out what I need to do against his moon hadokens and it turns out I lucked into the gear that enables it totally by accident.
The problem in this case is simply losing the damage race. I cast my buffs and spammed my spells and techs and items and went through full stacks of candy/chocolate/grass and the six angel grails and honey drinks I had because I was saving my money trying to buy some neato weapons for a change but it just wouldn't f***ing die. I've increased Carlie's Dex but it still feels like it takes forever for Heal Light to resolve and meanwhile he's Howling and Graviton Pressing and just making everything a f***show. I could do a different item layout but then I wouldn't have room to fit in debuffs so I could actually do damage, and of course it would light all my money on fire. Again. Which is why I'm starting to wonder if I'm missing something else, or if there's something more fundamentally wrong with my playstyle than I thought. Like maybe I prioritized my stats wrong, or maybe it was just a mistake not to have any of Hawk/Kevin/Lise in the first place. I'm really at a loss at what else I can do at this point. (I mean, besides just play an easier mode, but I like getting a chest after every fight even if it's just a candy half the time and also I don't plan on quitting this far in.)