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FAQ/Walkthrough by gheremond

Version: 1.1 | Updated: 06/08/18


                              Final Fantasy XII

                  (a walkthrough for the original PS 2 version)

                            by gheremond - 2018



==============================================================================

                             Table of Contents

                         Introduction

                                I.1 About this guide 
                                I.2 Acknowledgements and References 
                                I.3 Outline 
                                I.4 Speed vs Completeness 
                                I.5 Character Statistics 
                                I.6 Understanding Weapons and Armour 
                                I.7 Espers
	
                         Walkthrough

                                1. Nalbina Fortress 
                                2. Rabanastre
                                3. Dalmasca Estersand 
                                4. Rabanastre
                                5. Rabanastre Lowtown 
                                6. Giza Plains
                                     Hunts: 
                                          Textera 
                                7. Giza Plains
                                8. Estersand 
                                9. Nalbina 
                                     Hunts:
                                          Flowering Cactoid 
                                10. Estersand
                                11. Rabanastre 
                                12. Garamsythe Waterway
                                13. Royal Palace 
                                14. Garamsythe Waterway 
                                15. Nalbina Dungeons
                                16. Barheim Passage 
                                17. Rabanastre
                                     Hunts: 
                                          Wraith 
                                          Cluckatrice 
                                18. Bhujerba
                                19. Lhusu Mines 
                                20. Bhujerba 
                                     Hunts:
                                          Nidhogg 
                                          Rocktoise 
                                21. Dreadnought Leviathan 
                                22. Bhujerba 
                                23. Dalmasca Westersand 
                                24. Ogir-Yensa Sandsea
                                25. Nam-Yensa Sandsea 
                                     Hunts: 
                                          Wyvern Lord 
                                          Ring Wyrm 
                                          White Mousse 
                                          Marilith
                                26. Raithwall's Tomb 
                                27. The Shiva
                                28. Rabanastre 
                                     Hunts: 
                                          Croakadile
                                          Orthros 
                                          Gil Snapper 
                                     Bosses: 
                                          Earth Tyrant 
                                          King Bomb 
                                     Espers: 
                                          Zalera
                                          Adrammelech 
                                          Cuchulainn 
                                29. Giza Plains
                                30. Ozmone Plain 
                                31. Jahara 
                                     Hunts:
                                          Enkelados 
                                32. Golmore Jungle 
                                33. Eruyt Village 
                                34. Henne Mines 
                                35. Eruyt Village 
                                     Hunts: 
                                          Ixtab 
                                36. Golmore Jungle 
                                37. Paramina Rift
                                38. Mt. Bur-Omisace 
                                     Hunts: 
                                          Antlion
                                          Trickster 
                                          Feral Retriever
                                39. Mt. Bur-Omisace 
                                40. Paramina Rift
                                41. Stilshrine of Miriam
                                42. Mt. Bur-Omisace 
                                     Hunts: 
                                          Vorpal Bunny 
                                          Mindflayer 
                                          Bloodwing 
                                          Atomos
                                          Braegh 
                                          Carrot 
                                          Roblon 
                                     Espers: 
                                          Zeromus
                                43. Salikawood 
                                     Espers: 
                                          Exodus 
                                44. Phon Coast 
                                45. Tchita Uplands 
                                46. Sochen Cave Palace 
                                47. Old Archades
                                48. Archades 
                                     Hunts: 
                                          Darksteel 
                                     Bosses:
                                          Humbaba Mistant 
                                          Fury 
                                     Espers: 
                                          Chaos
                                49. Archades 
                                50. Draklor Laboratory
                                51. Balfonheim 
                                     Hunts: 
                                          Vyraal 
                                          Lindwyrm
                                          Overlord 
                                          Goliath 
                                          Deathscythe 
                                          Gilgamesh
                                          Belito 
                                52. Golmore Jungle 
                                53. Feywood
                                54. Giruvegan 
                                55. Balfonheim 
                                     Hunts:
                                          Fafnir 
                                          Catoblepas 
                                          Deathgaze 
                                          Diabolos
                                          Wild Malboro 
                                          Piscodaemon 
                                     Espers:
                                          Ultima 
                                          Zodiark 
                                56. Ridorana Cataract
                                57. Pharos of Ridorana 
                                58. Balfonheim
                                59. The End: Sky Fortress Bahamut
                                60. The Endgame 
                                     Hunts: 
                                          Pylraster 
                                          Ixion
                                          Behemoth King 
                                          ShadowSeer 
                                          Yiazmat
                                     Bosses: 
                                          Phoenix 
                                          Hell Wyrm 
                                          Omega Mark XII 
                                61. Loose Ends 
                                     A) Ultimate Weapons
                                     B) Trophy Rare Games 
                                     C) The Order of Ambrosia
	



						
						
==============================================================================



=============== 
Introduction 
===============

===================== 
I.1 About this guide 
=====================

This is a walkthrough of the original Final Fantasy XII version for
the PlayStation 2 console, released in 2006. It does not cover aspects
of the game related to the International Zodiac Job System (ZIJS)
version, or the recent re-release for PlayStation 4, Final Fantasy
XII: The Zodiac Age.

==================================== 
I.2 Acknowledgements and References 
====================================

In the compilation of this guide I have drawn from various resources,
as well as my personal play-throughs and experimentation with the
game. I will reference below resources that I either used during my
play-throughs or consulted for information like enemy statistics, loot
and chest contents etc.

1) The gamefaqs guide by Alex. This was the one I used for my very
first play-through and I wholeheartedly recommend. It is succinct,
informative and to the point. It has also influenced considerably the
formatting and structure of the present guide. Many of the boss stats
are also credited to it.

2) Ashe10's perfect game guide. I have used it in the past for power-
walkthroughs and is the definitive source about when and how to gain
early access to items, weapons and gear in the game. Many choices in
my guide about obtaining certain items early or not and the amount of
effort required were based on data from this source.

4) Maltzsan's gamefaqs guide on battle mechanics. This is a goldmine
of information concerning the inner workings of the game that makes
for a fascinating read. If you are wondering what is the best weapon
for every occasion or how to decide what items to equip, this is the
first place to look.

5) Giruvegan's low level challenge guide. I have done the low level
challenge based on this guide and it has helped me tremendously to
appreciate the finer details of the game and make decisions about how
FFXII is supposed to be played during the early and mid-game, where
the challenges faced are similar to the ones of a low level game. In
fact many of the strategies presented here are adapted from the low
level game, taking into consideration a normal levelling curve.

6) Aldoteng's gamefaqs Esper guide. I was very interested in Espers
right from the beginning, but their modus operandi was initially
mystifying, as they behave very differently from traditional Final
Fantasy summons. This guide put a lot of pieces of the puzzle in place
and helped me on planning my own strategies on Esper usage. If you
want detailed information of Esper gambits and attributes, check it
out.

7) FF12maps.com was always a great source about the location of
treasure chests, their content and probabilities. Also for loot
required for specific bazaar items and of course, the maps of the
Subterra and the Great Crystal, which you should definitely consult
before venturing into these hellholes.

8) FinalFantasyWIKI, for information regarding bosses and Hunts like
stats, immunities, elemental affinities and passive abilities.

9) HCBailly's video walkthrough on Youtube. Although far removed from
the way I like to play this game, it is consistently hilarious and a
great alternative source if something you read about seems confusing
on digital paper. Among other things, it also covers all rare games (a
subject I have barely touched upon in this guide).

10) aetithjnsw (is that even correct?) gets credit for the youtube
video that introduced me to the reflect Darkra method to defeat
Yiazmat.


===================== 
I.3 Outline 
=====================

The purpose of this guide is to provide a strategic walkthrough of the
game. Since there are obviously many different strategies and
approaches to advance through the plot and sidequests of FFXII, the
path presented here is mostly idiosyncratic and based on my personal
experience with the game and should be viewed as such. If you find
some tips or suggestions considering gear/magic/items/sidequests in
this guide not to your liking, feel free to disregard them. What I
tried to do is present what I consider my preferred way of going
through the game.

I tried to emphasise character classes, sound LP and gil management
(at least during the early and mid game, where these things are
relevant), optimal use of weapons and armour, MP management and use of
magic buffs and debuffs. This isn't meant to be a power walkthrough,
so there is no powerlevelling or insane grinding involved, or
excessive farming for early available power gear.  In fact, if you
stick to this guide, your level advancement will be pretty restrained
for most of the game, in a way that it won't take away from the
challenge. The idea is to advance your team's capabilities by using
the proper combination of licence augments, armour, weapons,
accessories and magic/items, rather than levels. But it isn't a
beginner's walkthrough either if you want to follow it every step of
the way. Several of the strategies involved will be quite challenging
for someone who has no experience with the game, especially if you try
to tackle all the optional parts in the sequence they are
presented. That being said, the first chapters of the guide are very
detailed, covering a lot of the basic battle mechanics, equipment and
gambits in considerable depth and should make for a gentle
introduction even for the novice.

I also attempt to present everything in a unified way, including
sidequests and optional bosses/Hunts in the order they actually become
available during the main quest, as I think this is the most
interesting and satisfying approach. Many other guides prefer to add
any optional content in the form of appendices. This usually causes
confusion as to when a particular sidequest becomes available (or
doable in a practical sense). In a game like FFXII, where a huge part
of the content is essentially optional, this can be detrimental. Many
of the optional bosses will be borderline borefests if done as an
afterthought, very late in the game when you're done with the main
plot and your levels soar.

Where this guide differs from other similar walkthroughs is:

1) Emphasis on ranged weapons: Most seem to prefer melee weapons,
except the guys doing low level challenges.  This has led to a
consensus that ranged weapons in this game are crap. Not so at all. In
fact, at least during the first half of the game, ranged weapons are
the way to go and the only way of effectively taking advantage of
enemy elemental weaknesses, or casting status ailments. Of course,
this is meant to be a strategic guide, so if melee weapons are best
suited in some situations, this is what I'll recommend too.

2) Espers: The other general consensus that has developed is that
Espers are also crap.  I beg to differ. Throughout the walkthrough I
will be discussing Esper usage extensively against all sorts of
enemies. Especially against bosses and Hunts, I consider them
indispensable.

This walkthrough isn't meant to be all encompassing. It does deal with
all the bosses, Espers (compulsory and optional) and Hunts in the
game, including Yiazmat. It covers several sidequests, but not all of
them, so you might want to refer to some other source for these. It
also won't cover all rare games, especially the Trophy rare games,
although I did include entries for several of them that might show up
during your regular questing. Game mechanics is also discussed, but
not as thoroughly as elsewhere. Rare loot and gear farming is done
only on a need-to basis. Things like getting the Tournesol or a
Danjuro are much better treated in other references.

One last thing I would like to stress, and which you should have in
mind while playing the game: Final Fantasy XII is a game where luck
plays a big role and not just in a bad sense. I have gone through the
game many times and no two of my playthroughs are the same. You may
accidentally come across a weapon or item you never got before at some
early point, or rare items that you spent hours grinding to get in the
past magically appear out of the blue.  These things do happen and you
should embrace the unexpected, not try to disregard it because you (or
I) have some preconceptions about how the game is supposed to
unfold. This will make your time with FFXII far more enjoyable.


========================== 
I.4 Speed vs Completeness
==========================

It is important to decide early on whether your goal is to complete
the main plot of the game as fast as possible, or take the time to do
sidequests and obtain optional equipment when they first become
available. This is going to greatly affect the way you play the game
and the way you choose to utilise characters, equipment, magic, items
and most importantly, gil (which is a very scarce commodity in this
game, as you 'll soon notice). Just as in many previous FF games, you
have more playable characters (6 in total) than you can use
simultaneously in battle (that is 3). From an early point onward, your
team will be assembled and, contrary to other previous entries in the
series, you will have full access to all of them for the entirety of
the rest of the game. This allows you to pick, if you like, three
characters only and sticking with them for all your battling without
worrying about symmetric levelling up. This approach has both
advantages and disadvantages.

There are two ways of levelling up characters in FFXII. The first is
by gaining experience points (EXP). Once enough EXP is accumulated,
your characters gain a level and this increases some of their stats
(like total HP, magic points, strength etc.). In order for a character
to gain EXP, he must be present in battle (and still standing) when
you slay an enemy. The other way of levelling up is by getting licence
points (LP) that can be used to unlock licences on the Licence Board
that allow you to equip weapons, gear, magic and boost your
stats. Foes that are defeated in battle drop both EXP and LP, but
unlike EXP, which is split evenly between all characters present in
battle at the moment the foe is defeated, LP is awarded to all 6
members of the group, undivided (provided that no one is KO'd). So if
a foe gives 1 LP, all six of your characters get 1 LP each, even the
reserves. So even your under-utilised party keeps levelling up in this
indirect way.

If your goal is speed and you are mainly interested in the main
storyline, I would suggest you stick to just 3 characters and go
through all battles just with them, so they get the most EXP possible
and level up faster. This will allow you to advance through the plot
faster, since your main party will usually have comparable levels to
your foes (or even higher), even if you don't spend time doing
optional dungeons and killing more difficult monsters (which is
time-consuming). You also gain speed since you don't have to waste
time switching characters and gear every now and then. You will also
prefer to use a less LP-intensive approach, since farming LP to
unlock licences can also be time-consuming. Magic requires a lot of
LP to be equipped and also additional LP for equipping mystic armour
and magic related accessories (which will render magic efficient). So
the best approach is to avoid using magic and technicks (so forget
about mage characters) and stick with weapons, heavy armour and items
for your game. All of your healing needs can be fulfilled using the
various potions and elemental weaknesses can be targeted using
weapons with the appropriate elemental affinities. Seriously, you
will finish the game a lot faster if you don't use spells at all. You
may have to use some of the high level spells very late in the game,
but by that time you will have the LP and gil available and your
levels will make up for not using the appropriate mystic
armour. Also, since you don't spend money to buy magic, you are left
with a hefty sum to spend on quality armour and weapons and since you
don't shop for more than three characters, this is going to ease your
gil strains considerably. Obviously, since you will be dealing almost
all damage in the form of weapons, it is preferable to stick to the
three male characters of the company (Vaan, Basch and Balthier), for
they have better strength stats and can thus kill foes easier. Ashe,
Fran and Penelo are better suited as mage characters, and since you
won't be needing a lot of magic, they can stay in reserve.

The obvious problem of this approach is that you take a lot of the fun
out of this game. You will have no mages, hardly use any spells and
will not take advantage of a lot of equipment which is
magic-related. Since you will be using three characters almost
entirely as melee fighters, the RPG element is greatly reduced. You
will also hardly use any Espers, which can be a fascinating facet of
this game and make for some uniquely strategic fighting. Also, if you
start doing sidequests like Hunts and optional Espers late in the
game, when you will have levelled up considerably and obtained some
decent gear, you will be able to finish them fast but there will
hardly be any challenge in them.

If you go for completeness and you plan on gaining all optional
equipment and doing all Hunts and optional Espers as early as
possible, then you are in for some very engaging and strategic
gameplay, since you really have to plan carefully and take advantage
of all abilities in your arsenal in order to complete these tasks as
they become available. Some of these sidequests can be very
challenging, especially if your levels and gear are not what they are
supposed to be and you should be ready to spend considerably more time
than you would if you postponed these sidequests for later, when your
levels and equipment would be more appropriate. But this way you will
also gain access to some pretty good gear early on and even get to
appreciate some of the magic available (like Blind, Slow, Immobilize,
Disable etc.) that would go totally unnoticed if you stick with the
attack-heal speedthrough approach. The RPG element of the game is also
amplified, for now you really have to think about how to distribute
roles in order to overcome your level and gear handicaps. Mages for
example become absolutely crucial in such a playthrough and ranged
weapons can prove extremely useful. Symmetric levelling up is also
important, as you 'll need all six of your party members during your
fighting.

========================= 
I.5 Character Statistics
=========================

There are a number of statistics that affect your characters in terms
of their abilities. These are: HP, MP, Attack, Strength, Defence,
Magic, Magic Defence, Evasion, Vitality, Speed. Different characters
have different starting stats and this can affect slightly the roles
you are going to assign to them (eg. Basch has the most Strength,
while Penelo and Ashe are the best in terms of Magic). HP and MP
depend on your characters' levels (and obviously increase as your
levels go up). You can also increase your HP by unlocking HP bonuses
on the Licence Grid, or equipping HP boosting armour. MP can be
increased by equipping mystic armour, staves and rods. Attack and
Evasion depend only on the weapon and/or shield you equip. Attack will
determine the efficiency of a weapon you equip and evasion will
increase your chances of blocking enemy attacks. They are both 0 if
you don't equip anything and don't depend on level. Same goes with
Defence and Magic Defence, they only depend on the armour you equip,
not your levels. This is important to remember. Levelling up your
characters won't make them more resistant to damage. Only better
armour will achieve this. The only thing you gain by levelling up in
terms of defence, is more HP, so attacks that would normally kill you
at lower levels will now "seem" to do less damage (they don't, you
just now have the HP to survive them and probably some better
armour). Strength and Magic both depend on your level and can be
boosted by equipping appropriate armour and accessories. These will
determine to a great extend how much damage you deal in physical and
magical attacks. Magic also determines the power of your healing
spells, as well as the success rate of some luck-dependent spells,
like Blind, Warp or Berserk. Vitality determines the characters'
resistance to status ailments. Finally, Speed is related to how fast
your characters can take turns and execute actions, although the
differences are negligible in battle. It is a crucial statistic for
some weapon classes whose damage depends on Speed (such as Daggers and
Ninja Swords). Both Vitality and Speed depend on your level and can be
improved by equipping armour and accessories.

===================================== 
I.6 Understanding Weapons and Armour 
=====================================

Unlike other games in the series, in FFXII there is a ton of equipment
available and a very large variety of weapons and armour. Initially,
it may be difficult to decide what to buy and what to equip in every
situation, so let's dig into the details and see how we can
distinguish between every kind of item available:

1) Weapons

There are several weapon categories that your characters can
equip. These include: One-handed Swords, Two-Handed Swords
(Greatswords), Spears, Poles, Axes/Hammers (they are actually counted
as one category), Katanas, Ninja Swords, Daggers, Staves, Rods, Maces,
Measures (more on these later), Bows, Crossbows, Guns and Hand
Bombs. As you can already see, it is quite a list! Each category has
its own licences on the Licence Board that has to be purchased in
order for the corresponding weapon to be equipped. Some of the
categories are also neighbours on the Licence Board (eg. Poles are
close to Guns and Bows close to Katanas), so this is going to affect
what weapons each character has access to, especially early in the
game, where LP in not yet abundant. Every time you equip a weapon, it
is going to affect 2 statistics. The first is the Attack (ATK)
statistic and the second is (potentially) the Evade (EVA). ATK
determines, together with other statistics of your character and the
foe, the amount of damage you deal. ATK is the main way to gauge a
weapon's power (although the "greater ATK equals better weapon"
mentality can be misleading in some cases, as we will see) when you
purchase or equip weapons. It is definitely a good way to compare
weapons that belong in the same class, but not for different class
weapons (eg. comparing Bows to Guns using just ATK). ATK can exceed
100 and the maximum you can get is 150 for the Zodiac Spear, the most
powerful weapon in the game in sheer attack power. EVA determines your
ability to block attacks. Some weapons (not all) will give you an EVA
boost. You can also boost EVA by equipping shields. EVA ranges up to
100 and if a character actually reaches this rating, he can block all
physical attacks. Bear in mind though that there are enemies in the
game (especially late game) that can totally ignore your EVA stat and
land their attacks regardless (Yiazmat and Hell Wyrm are
examples). The most EVA boost you can get by equipping a weapon is 34
by using the Main Gauche (in the Daggers category).

ATK is a good measure of a weapon's worth, but there are other things
to take into consideration. You may have already noticed that some
categories contain ranged weapons. These are Bows, Crossbows, Guns and
Hand Bombs. In previews games you needed ranged weapons in order to
hit foes that were flying or had very high evasion. This is still the
case in FFXII, but there are also some new advantages and
disadvantages in ranged weapons. Starting with the bad news, ranged
weapons are generally a lot slower than conventional melee weapons,
with Guns being the slowest weapons in the game. They also tend to
have lower ATK than comparable melee weapons you may have access
to. Finally, some of these weapons, like Bows and Crossbows have a
chance to miss the target (like a true bow or crossbow) and can be
even adversely affected by weather effects. So if you're trying to use
a Bow when it's raining hard, your chances of missing are increased
(there are, however, ways around that). But there are also added
bonuses from choosing ranged weapons, that can make them indispensable
in some battles. First, your party members can hit foes from a greater
distance and they also tend to spread more during battle than when
using melee weapons. That way, ranged weapon handlers can be kept in
the back row, away from enemy fire and take little to no damage at
all. Thus, they can get away by wearing lighter (and less expensive)
armour than your melee characters who will be fighting front row and
taking a lot of damage. Also, AoE attacks have a higher chance of just
hitting the character in the front, instead of damaging your entire
team. This will greatly reduce your healing needs and keep your MP
consumption in check, especially through long areas and
dungeons. Since ranged weapons have a better chance of keeping your
characters out of harm's way, they are a good choice for mage
characters, whose mystic armor generally provides less HP and Defence
than comparable light or heavy armour. Also, some of the ranged
weapons like Guns and Crossbows cannot be evaded or blocked by
enemies, so they are ideal to use against foes with very high blocking
or evasion (like the Backnamy in the Necrohol of Nabudis). Also, you
can equip ammo which can induce status ailments on the target. While
there are similar melee weapons that can also inflict conditions such
as Slow or Disable etc., ammo has a much higher chance to be
successful (you usually get a 25% chance for ammo). Later in the game
you can gain access to Assassin's Arrows to use with your Bows, giving
you a 25% chance of instant death (neat!). Compare this to only 10%
chance of KO for the Deathbringer sword, or the Assassin Dagger and
you get an idea of how efficient status inflicting ammo can be.

Finally, using elemental ammo can be your only option to take
advantage of specific elemental weaknesses of enemies. Again, you can
also find melee weapons with elemental affinities, but these won't
work against avians (obviously) and they won't be upgradeable. A
Cypress Pole (Earth-elemental) can be devastating early on with its 34
ATK, but later in the game, when the enemies you will be dealing with
will have much higher Defences, it will hardly make a scratch. On the
other hand, you can equip Mud Shot (also Earth-elemental) with a
Fomalhaut (best gun in the game) and deal max damage against
earth-weak foes even late game. Especially for the eluding elements
Water and earth, for which you won't have powerful spells in your
arsenal, elemental ammo present themselves as the only way to deal
considerable damage. Couple that to the fact that most avian foes are
earth-weak and you realise that ranged weapons+elemental ammo can make
your life much easier. By the way, the only ranged weapons that admit
elemental ammo are Guns, Bows and Hand Bombs. Crossbows do not provide
elemental ammo options, but have a wider variety of status inflicting
bolts. The only element for which a corresponding ammo doesn't exist
is Holy (there are a few melee weapons with that element).

Melee weapons are best for characters that will be mostly on the front
row, like your team leader who will be prone to attract the enemy's
attention. For such characters a One Handed Sword, Dagger or Axe
coupled with a Shield will be an ideal combination, since you can have
good attack power with a pretty high evasion stat, so your leader can
tank effectively. Poles are also a good option early on, providing
evasion comparable to equipping some of the lower level Shields with a
Sword or Dagger. DPS characters that are built to deal a lot of damage
fast will be better served by an Axe/Hammer or a Spear early on and
Greatswords late in the game.

Katanas and Ninja Swords are a little bit of a puzzle. They generally
have good (but not phenomenal) ATK ratings, but they are the two
categories of weapons that are most prone to combo. Before you get
carried away, even for these weapons the combo chance is still pretty
low (usually bellow 20%) to make any noticable difference when
fighting ordinary mobs, but it can be significant against bosses or
Hunts that have a lot of HP and with which battles tend to last
longer. Ninja Swords have the added bonus of being Dark-elemental and
this allows you to boost their power by 50% when equipping Black
Robes. Trouble is, you won't have access to Black Robes until about
2/3 through the game, and that's if you go out of your way to obtain
them. Katanas on the other hand take into account both your Strength
and Magic stats to determine damage dealt, so they can be a good
secondary weapon for mages. That being said, the Masamune (ultimate
Katana) can be, under proper conditions, one of the most devastating
weapons in the game! And you can get it pretty early.

Staves, Rods, Measuring Instruments and Maces are primarily targeted
for use with mage characters. You will hardly ever use Staves and Rods
for dealing damage by attacking, since their use is that they increase
your magic stats and total MP and potentially offer elemental spell
boosts (eg. equipping a mage with a Flame Staff makes his
Fire-elemental spells 50% more powerful). Also, some Rods can inflict
buffs on hit, so you can use them to put buffs on characters without
waisting MP, by sacrificing a little bit of HP. Maces only take into
account the character's Magic stat to determine damage, so they are
good with mages. Measuring Instruments are a very under-rated
category. If you don't use Espers in your game, you'll never know how
awesome they can be. Because they deal fixed damage and ignore all
Defences, they can be extremely useful with Espers whose attacks
depend on their current HP, like Zalera, Cuchulain and above all,
Zeromus. Measuring Instruments also have on hit buffs associated with
them, with a success rate of 50% (nice!), which means they are also a
good way of buffing up your Espers without waisting any more MP and
faster than casting spells.

There are specific formulas that determine each weapon's damage
output. I will not delve into these details (you can check out
Maltzan's excellent and encyclopedic game mechanics guide for the
specifics) but will discuss briefly what factors are important for
every weapon category, so you can get an idea of what
armour/accessories you should equip these with in the next sections.

-One-handed Swords, Greatswords, Spears, Poles, Rods, Crossbows: All
these weapons deal damage that depends solely on your character's
Strength stat and their level, so you should use them in conjunction
with armour and accessories that increase Strength. The Defence
statistic of the foe is also taken into account, so the stronger the
enemy, the less damage they will deal. Poles have the peculiarity of
taking into account not the foe's Defence, but Magic Defence. Since
Magic Defence tends to be a few points higher than Defence for most
foes, they will usually deal less damage than a comparable
spear. Notable exceptions are enemies like the Flans. Crossbows cannot
be blocked or evaded, but they have a chance of missing the target.

-Axes/Hammers, Hand Bombs: This is a special category, because the
damage they deal is a random number between zero and the maximum they
can potentially deal. Usually they have higher ATK ratings than
comparable available weapons in other categories in order to
compensate for the wildly fluctuating damage. This doesn't mean they
are useless. Especially Axes/Hammers can be potentially devastating
early game. Their damage depends on both Strength and Vitality, as
well as level.

-Daggers, Ninja Swords, Bows: This category includes weapons whose
damage is determined by level, Strength and Speed. Daggers and Ninja
Swords also happen to be the fastest weapons in the game. Ninja swords
are the most prone to combo.

-Guns, Measures: These are also peculiar weapons, in that their ATK
rating is totally misleading. They typically have low ATK attached to
them, but their damage calculation formula depends on the square of
their attack power, dealing a lot more damage than ATK alone will have
you believe. They also IGNORE ALL defences, both magical and physical,
cannot be blocked neither evaded. Their damage also is IRRELEVANT OF
THE CHARACTER'S LEVEL! That means that a level 1 character equipped
with a Gun or Measure will deal as much damage as a level 99 character
with the same weapon. So even underlevelled characters can use Guns
(Measures are not really meant to be used offensively) to deal major
damage early on in the game, when your levels will be relatively
low. Bear in mind though that some enemies (like Flans) are resistant
against Guns. Also, Guns are the only category of ranged weapons that
will never miss the target, unless your gunner is blinded, so you are
guaranteed a hit no matter what. They also happen to be the slowest
weapons in the game.

-Katanas, Staves: Their damage depends on character level, Strength
and Magic.

-Maces: They are the only weapon whose damage depends only on the
character's Magic stat (and level).

A final note on combos and critical hits. Most of the melee weapons
have a small chance to deliver multiple hits (combos), which for most
weapons ranges at below 10%. The exceptions are Ninja Swords and
Katanas and this can make up for their relatively lower ATK
stats. Ranged weapons on the other hand generally do not combo, but
they compensate by having a chance to deal critical hits. Basically,
when a critical hit occurs, the shot does double the damage it was
supposed to do. So if your ranged weapon typically deals around 1000
damage per hit, a critical hit will deal around 2000.

2) Armour

There are three different kinds of armour in FFXII: Light armour,
heavy armour and mystic armour. Each category contains head and body
armour, which are equipped separately (you can also mix head and body
armour types, using eg. a mystic hat with a light body
armour). Generally speaking, head armour increases Magic Defence, body
armour increases Defence. Unfortunately, their names can be somehow
misleading. You would expect for example that light armour will give a
character better Speed stats than heavy armour, which is not the
case. Let's see what each category actually provides:

-Light Armour: The main attraction of light armour is that it
increases your HP. Light helmets also boost Magic Defence. Depending
on the type of helmet, they can also boost your Strength, Magic,
Vitality or Speed stats. Light body armour increases your Defence (as
well as your HP) and depending on the armour, Strength, Magic,
Vitality or Speed. Early on in the game, where your HP is rather low
and there is also little differentiation in defence between light and
heavy armour, light armour is the way to go because of the significant
HP bonus and decent defence. Light armours also have the benefit of
providing elemental resistance or immunity (like the Viking Suit,
which nullifies Water damage), so even lower grade light armour can
come quite in handy even late game, when you will be encountering
bosses and marks unleashing devastating elemental attacks against your
team. So it is a good idea to stock elemental light armour for your
entire team. You are going to need it. Middle to late game though, the
Defence stats of light armour pale in comparison to the Magic Defence
of mystic helms and the superior Defence of heavy body armour, while
the HP boost will not be that significant as before (since your HP
will already be quite high).

-Heavy Armour: Heavy armour is all about boosting your Strength
statistic and providing high Defence. Only a few items will give small
HP boosts. Heavy helms will increase your Magic Defence (but typically
a little less than comparable light helmets), while heavy body armour
will give you Defence boosts. Some pieces of armour can also increase
your Magic, Vitality and/or Speed. As said earlier, there is initially
very little differentiation between light and heavy armour in terms of
protective attributes, so the only thing making a difference is your
preference for either more HP or better Strength. You will generally
prefer to equip light armour with characters like thieves and team
leaders, who will be getting most of the damage and not dealing much
themselves, for they need the extra HP to survive. Heavy armour will
be best suited for your DPS characters with melee weapons (since they
'll be taking some damage too, inevitably) that can benefit from the
extra Strength, such as Axes/Hammers, Spears, Poles and Swords. Mid to
late game, heavy body armour is the way to go for all characters
except mages/gunners, since their Defence cannot be matched. A final
point to be clarified: Heavy armour won't make your characters slower
compared to light or mystic. In fact, you can get Speed boosts with
specific heavy armour, just as you can get Speed boosts from specific
light armour and the differences aren't that significant either.

-Mystic Armour: Mystic armour will increase your Magic
statistic. Needless to say, it's a no-brainer that you should equip
your mages with mystic armour. This will increase their spell-casting
efficiency tremendously, compared to their non-mystic wearing
comrades, especially their healing spells. It is plain stupidity
trying to use healing spells with characters that are not mages. Body
mystic armour though generally provides less Defence than comparable
light and heavy armour, so it is better to try and keep your mage
characters away from enemy fire. Mystic helmets also provide the
highest Magic Defence of all helmets, so they are also pretty good for
all your party members late in the game against foes with powerful
magic attacks. Very few items will also give small HP boosts, while
depending on the armour you may get increased Strength, Vitality and
Speed.

-Shields: Finally, you can equip shields along with one handed
weapons, such as Axes/Hammers, One-Handed Swords, Daggers, Measures
and Maces. They can be extremely helpful, especially early game, since
they can increase your Evasion significantly and allow you to block
enemy attacks, both physical and magical. Like light armour, some of
the shields also provide elemental resistance, immunity or even
absorption. The most Evasion you can get from a shield is 90(!) (out
of 100), by equipping the Ensanguined Shield. Coupled with the Main
Gauce Dagger (34 Evasion) or a Measure (25) you reach 100% Evasion,
which means you can literally block everything. The drawback is, the
Ensanguined Shield causes the wearer a number of status ailments (Sap,
Poison, Slow), but nevertheless, it can come quite in handy against
enemies with devastating single-targeting attacks. Unfortunately,
there are some enemies that will ignore Evasion altogether. Notice
that apart from Evasion there is also a Magic Evasion stat, that
allows you to evade black magic spells (but not status ailment
spells), but only 3 shields in the game grant Magic Evasion.

3)Accessories

This category mostly resembles accessories as you already knew them
from previews FF games. So you have things like Thief's Cuffs that
improve your chances to steal from foes, Ribbons (grants immunity
against almost all status ailments) etc.. The novelty here is that,
due to the diverse ways in which damage is calculated for each weapon
class, equipping specific accessories can greatly boost the efficiency
of your weapons. Some of the accessories also double as Licence Board
augments, so you can have the same result as purchasing the augment by
paying gil instead of LP. Note that the benefits of having both the
augment and accessory do not stack up, so later on, when you have
purchased e.g. the Serenity augment there is no point in equipping
Magic Gloves. The notable exception to this rule are the Gauntlets,
which are not equivalent to the Shield Block augments and will stack
up with them, so you do get a +10% Evasion in addition to whatever
bonus you already have from the Licence Board.

Bottom Line: What the hell should I equip?  Let's see now, after this
rather extended prelude, what combinations of weapon, armour and
accessories are the most appropriate for each case:

-One-Handed Swords: Definitely equip a good shield with them. If you
want to deal max damage, use heavy armour for both head and body. But
since your sword wielder will be prone to take damage from foes, you
might prefer to sacrifice top attack power for survivability by opting
for light armour, especially during the early game. Keeping a good
light helm might be a good idea in general even later, when you will
probably switch to heavy armour for the body. For accessories, the
Battle Harness (allows you to counter physical attacks and adds 2 to
Strength), Gauntlets (increases Evasion by 10%), Jade Collar (grants
Parry) or Power Armlet (immune to Stop, +2 Strength) are good options,
depending on whether you seek more Strength or better protection from
foes. Since this is a good weapon choice for team leaders that will
probably also do most of the stealing, Thief's Cuffs is also a good
combination.

-Daggers: Also a good choice for team leaders/thieves, due to their
ability to be equipped along with a shield and being very fast. If you
go for damage, your best friend (as for all speed-related weapons) is
the accessory Cat-Eared Hood, which gives Vitality +20 and Speed +50
(!), essentially doubling your damage output. But since you won't have
access to this pretty awesome accessory until you're almost half-way
through the game (and even then you have to go a little bit out of
your way to obtain it), any of the above mentioned accessories (and
armour) for One-Handed Swords will also do. It will also be a good
idea to equip light or heavy armour that increases speed (although the
boost will be small). About one third through the game you get access
to the Main Gauce, whose ridiculously high Evasion makes it a
no-brainer for your main tank character, even if it means that this
guy will hardly be able to deal any noticeable damage (he will
probably be more busy stealing most of the time anyway, so equip the
Thief's Cuffs and don't bother).

-Axes/Hammers: These can be devastating weapons early in the
game. Equip with a good shield (since they are one-handed weapons) and
give them to the character with the best Strength stat (Basch is
usually your melee DPS guy). You definitely want to go with all-heavy
armour to maximize damage, even if it means lower HP. Also,
Accessories that increase Vitality will boost your Axe/Hammer, so
again, Cat-Eared Hood (if you have it) or Black Belt (Vitality +8,
immune to Disable). Problem is, by the time you get Cat-Eared Hood you
will also have access to better weapons than Axes/Hammers.

-Staves, Rods, Measures, Maces: All these were designed to be used
with mages, so use all-body mystic armour and a shield if you use
Measures or Maces. Though probably the best equipment for mages are
Staves and Rods, due to their significant Magic and MP boosts and
elemental enhancements. With the exception of Maces, all three others
weren't meant to be used offensively, so you shouldn't bother about
accessories boosting your weapon's attack. Just equip some appropriate
magic-related accessory (Magic Gloves, Indigo Pendant, Opal Ring
etc.).

-Ninja Swords: These weapons, though apparently lacking in ATK power,
can be turbo-boosted with the right setup. Since they are
Dark-elemental, equipping Black Robes (mystic armour) increases damage
by 50%. Add the Cat-Eared Hood and you have one mean weapon, with high
speed and a good combo rate. Genji Gloves are also good later on.

-Spears: Spears deal great damage and are pretty fast. They are the
kind of weapon you will want to use with a DPS character. Since you
can pretty easily (and early) obtain the Zodiac Spear, by far the most
powerful weapon in the game in terms of ATK, you will probably be
using this thingy a lot. All-body heavy armour is the way to go for
max damage and the Battle Harness accessory for the extra Strength and
counterattack. Later on you gain access to the Holy Lance
(Holy-elemental spear), so you can equip this with White Robes (mystic
armour) for 50% more damage.

-Greatswords: Greatswords are some of the most powerful weapons in the
game and with a little bit of work, you can gain access to them pretty
early. The same setup that works for Spears also works for
Greatswords. Their bonus is that they offer more Evasion compared to
spears, although they tend to be a little bit slower.

-Poles: Same setup as for Greatswords.

-Katanas: Since you need a combination of high Magic and high Strength
to get max damage out of these weapons, you may prefer to use a
combination of heavy+mystic armour for your Katana users. A good setup
is mystic helm and heavy body armour, which will also provide you with
optimal Defence. For accessories, Strength boosting items (Battle
Harness, Power Armlet). For late game, it's Masamune+Genji gloves and
Genji armour.

-Hand Bombs: They deal random damage just as Axes/Hammers and depend
on Vitality, so again, Cat-Eared Hood (if you have it) or Black
Belt. Strength does matter also, so all-body heavy armour is also
preferable.

-Bows: Fran comes equipped with a Bow and they generally tend to be a
good weapon of choice for mages, for they are ranged and keep them
away from battle. As such, you won't get the most out of them in terms
of Strength (since mystic armour isn't built for that), but you can
get a significant boost from equipping the Cat-Eared Hood, as Bows
depend on Speed. If you want to go for max damage, then couple this
with all body heavy armour.

-Crossbows: These weapons rely solely on Strength, like Spears, Swords
and Greatswords, so just equip heavy armour and Strength increasing
accessories.

-Guns: These are the wildcards in terms of weapons. Just like
Measures, their damage depends on nothing other than their own ATK
rating, so what armour you equip makes no difference whatsoever in
terms of damage. Light or mystic armour is thus a good idea, and they
can be good secondary weapons for mages. Their main drawback is that
they are the slowest weapons in the game, so the only accessory you
might want to use in order to counteract this is the Hermes Sandals
(grants auto-Haste).
   

============ 
I.7 Espers  
============

Espers are FFXII's version of summons. Like several previous games,
you obtain Espers after defeating them in battle. You will encounter
Espers both as ordinary storyline bosses, as well as optional
bosses. Some of them turn out to be some of the most challenging foes
in the game, especially if you attempt to obtain them as early as they
become available. Apart from being worthwhile opponents, they can also
be extremely helpful in battle, especially against Hunts and other
bosses.

The topic of Espers is much maligned, with many arguing they provide
nothing substantial in battle and they only serve as decent challenges
and little else. I strongly disagree and will discuss throughout the
walkthrough all cases where Espers can be of use (and they are
many!). Contrary to other games in the series, Espers aren't all
powerful summons (like they were say, in FFX). So it's not a case of
"wow, this guy is tough, let's just summon and we will wipe him
out". But they have immunities and special attributes that can make
them indispensable in certain battles, if only you're willing to think
more strategically. If you really think the game is all just
Attack+Curaja, then sure, you won't see much use in Espers. But if you
really want to target your enemies' weaknesses, Espers can make for
some of the most entertaining and satisfying battles in
FFXII. Seriously, there are several Hunts and bosses that will leave
you scratching your head if you just go for frontal attack, whereas if
you use Espers, you can finish them off with little or even no damage
at all.

Espers have their own licences on the Licence Board. There is a total
of 13 Espers. Five of them you obtain through the main plot, while the
other 8 are optional bosses, available at various points throughout
the main quest. You can give Espers to your characters by unlocking
the corresponding licences. But, every Esper can only be given to one
character. So only one will be able to summon him in battle. You are
free to distribute the Espers whichever way you like between the
characters, even giving all 13 of them to just one summoner
character. This may actually make sense, as I will explain.

When you summon an Esper in battle, you have to spend 1, 2 or all 3 of
your Myst Charges, depending on which one you summon, so Espers cost
MP, just like performing Quickenings. Once the Esper has been
summoned, he and the summoner remain in battle, while the other party
members become unavailable. From that point on, it is just the two of
them for a maximum period of 90 seconds. Then the Esper disappears and
you return to your previous team configuration. The Esper disappears
also (before the expiration of the time limit) if 1) your Esper is
defeated, 2) the summoner is defeated, 3) your Esper performs his
final attack (yes, just like in other FF games, Espers have special,
potentially powerful attacks), 4) you dismiss the Esper
manually. Throughout the battle, you cannot control your Esper. He
comes with his own gambits and is autonomous. You can only take
control of the summoner, who (this is where it gets annoying) remains
in the battlefield and can be targeted and take damage from enemies
just as before (ouch!). So essentially, when you summon an Esper, you
dismiss two of your party members in exchange for one. The catch is,
especially early on, Espers can be quite resilient, with better
defences and a lot more offence than your team members. Some of them
enter the battle with significant protective and offensive buffs, like
Shell, Protect, Reflect, Faith, Bravery and Haste. Espers also tend to
have elemental affinities and immunities. And most importantly, all of
them are immune to all status ailments, with the exception of instant
death attacks or the death spell and you get to have them long before
you gain access to Ribbons. So they are ideal to use against bosses
and Hunts that are big on casting status effects, like Tiamat, Elder
Wyrm and Raflessia.

Offense-wise, Espers will usually use powerful magic-based attacks
throughout their time in battle. Elemental Espers will cast powerful
elemental magic (usually a lot more powerful than the corresponding
elemental spells you'll have access to). If an enemy absorbs the
element they deal in, they usually switch to some physical, less
powerful attack. Non-elemental Espers will usually implement
non-elemental spells and attacks and give you a chance to use powerful
non-elemental spells A LOT EARLIER than you will have access to them
as ordinary spells. For your information, you only gain access to the
high-level non-elemental spells (Shock, Scourge, Scathe, Flare) only
after the Pharos at Ridhorana, which means right before the final
bosses! Until then, you're pretty much left with nothing but Bio. So
your Espers are really your only chance to use these spells any time
sooner than that (unless you come across some pretty rare
non-elemental Mote). And then you have the final attacks. For early
Espers, these are triggered once you enter the last 10 seconds of the
time limit (and your Esper and summoner are still standing), or when
your Esper gets critical. He will then start charging his final
attack. Elemental Espers will use these to deal heavy elemental damage
on all enemies within range, before leaving the battlefield. Early-on,
these final attacks won't be that significant compared to their normal
attacks (when you first obtain Belias, his standard Fire-elemental
spells deal around 2000 per hit, with his Hellfire doing around
3500-4000). But they will increase in strength once your Esper gets
more powerful (Espers increase their stats when your summoner gains
levels). However, most Espers' final attacks won't break the 9999
damage limit, which renders them underwhelming compared to Aeon
Overdrives in FFX. There are however exceptions, with some of the
Espers in the game being able to deal up to 60000 in final
attacks. These include Exodus (30000), Shemazai (60000) and Zeromus
(theoretically no damage limit, but in practice you won't be able to
do more than around 60000 due to the nature of his final attack). Also
Zodiark, the most powerful Esper in the game, has a final attack
(Final Eclipse) that always deals fixed damage equal to 50000. The
problem with these Espers is that triggering their final attacks can
get a little tricky.

You'll notice that all Espers, with the exception of Cuchulainn, deal
almost exclusively in magic attacks. Also, their final attacks are
always magic in nature. This renders them extremely helpful against
bosses who tend to increase their physical damage resistance
tremendously once they go critical, giving you a very hard time trying
to finish them off with just your ordinary weapons. So Quickenings and
Espers are great as finishing moves in such cases. Notice that Espers
typically require a lot less MP than quickenings (that usually consume
the entire team's MP). Also, some bosses will raise physical palings,
making them completely immune to physical attacks. In that case, your
Espers can just hack away as before, while you sit back and watch the
boss getting hammered. Espers that tend to deal fixed damage (either
as regular or final attacks) are also a great help, since their
attacks will not get attenuated by physical palings or magical and
physical resistance (like Exodus, Zalera and Zeromus).

The biggest caveat in using Espers is that both Esper and summoner are
constantly in danger and may fall before you even get the chance to
deal some serious blows. In that case you may end up with a chunk of
wasted MP and a dead summoner (so even more MP is lost, as your other
team members have to resurrect the fallen comrade). The first thing
you have to ensure is the survival of the summoner, since if he falls,
your Esper is gone as well. Although good armour and protective buffs
can be helpful in accomplishing this task, nothing is as important as
staying away from enemies altogether and trying to draw their
attention on your Esper rather than the Summoner. Seriously, just stay
away. Stay at a distance from the battlefield as much as possible. If
this isn't an option, use the Decoy spell on your Esper, so that he
gets to get targeted instead of you. Again, keep your distance. Even
if you used Decoy, if some foe uses AoE spells against your Esper, you
will get hit too if you are near. The drill is to summon, send the
Esper on the front, and keep the summoner at safety distance from the
fray, from which he will be able to keep the Esper alive.

Now Espers can have strong Defences, but this isn't always enough to
guarantee their survival, especially against powerful bosses. So your
summoner will have the duty of healing the Esper throughout battle (if
you play this right, the summoner won't need much healing himself), as
well as casting protective buffs (like Shell, Protect and
Bubble). Yes, you can buff up your Espers just as if they were
ordinary party members. Unfortunately you can't use some spells on
them like Reverse and Berserk, as they are immune to these
things. Since healing and keeping the Esper at tip-top shape is so
paramount, I am really in favor of the idea that you should primarily
give Espers to your mages, or even use one main summoner character who
controls all Espers, even if this means more MP constraints. Since
your mage will have enough Magic to heal efficiently, even with low
level spells (like Cure and Cura), your Esper has a much better chance
for survival instead of having him fighting along some melee
fighter. Also, mages will have licenses for all the important buffs
that will be needed to boost the Esper's Defence (and offence, like
Haste and Faith). Since mages will wear less protective mystic armour,
you'll really want to keep them away from the battle. With a little
bit of practise, your summoner-Esper duo will be a force to be
reckoned with and you will be able to deal colossal damage in some
cases while keeping your summoner unscathed. We will discuss further
Esper tactics in detail once we start obtaining them in the
walkthrough.

Also, one aspect of Esper usage which usually receives little
coverage, is that they allow you to finish a boss or Hunt with almost
all of your party members in reserve and even your summoner at safety
distance. After Raithwall's Tomb, this allows you to equip everyone
with Golden Amulets and get a serious LP boost, since you get double
the LP and most bosses and Hunts at this point drop considerable LP
and no EXP. This will help you advance through the Licence Board a lot
faster.


============== 
Walkthrough 
==============

==================== 
1. Nalbina Fortress 
====================

You start the game as Reks. There is a pretty self-explanatory
tutorial on basic game mechanics (rotating the camera, moving, talking
to NPCs etc.). Once you open the first gate, you are given the chance
to engage an enemy soldier. By this time you can access the Options
screen. Do so and set your battle speed to a faster rate (that will
make battles quicker) and your cursor positioning to memory, so you
don't have to wade through menu options too much to issue
commands. Once you're done with these settings, just choose attack
from your menu and attack the soldier. Basch will also join in, the
guy will be dead within a couple of blows. Proceed forward for your
very first boss fight.

======================= 
Boss: Air Cutter Remora
=======================

Nothing much to do here really. Just use Thunder magic (as a machine,
this boss is weak to Thunder) to do some decent damage. You're joined
in by Basch and the rest of the team, so you'll have plenty of
help. With the MP at your disposal you can attack 3 times with Thunder
before you run out. You can try engaging with your normal attack once
this happens, but you really shouldn't bother, by that time your team
members will be finishing it off. Since Air Cutter Remora uses an AoE
attack, it's better to sit at a distance from the rest and cast
Thunder from there. Even If you do get hit, Basch will use a Potion on
you. The battle will probably be over in less time than it took you to
read this.

Proceed forward and engage the three approaching enemy soldiers. It's
better to keep your attacks concentrated on one target until he
falls. Enter the next area. You get a brief Flee tutorial. Move north
in your minimap. On the right there is a potion chest you can grab if
you want to, but it's better you just keep R2 and flee all the way
north, then take a left and go up the stairs to the next area. There
is a save crystal here. Touch it in order to heal and save if you feel
like it. Climb the stairs towards the next screen. You are now pitted
against three imperial soldiers, which you have to defeat on your
on. Just attack one at a time until they're all dead. Use a potion if
your HP gets low (it probably won't). Once you're done with them, move
towards the west on the minimap and open the door. Head on for a
cutscene.

=============== 
2. Rabanastre 
===============

You now play as Vaan, the protagonist of the game. Your first mission
is to dispose of the three rats in the waterway. Notice that Vaan has
the Steal technick, so it's a good idea to try stealing from the rats
before killing them. You also have some Potions you can use in case
your HP gets low, but it's better you avoid using them, as money is
hard to come by at this point. Try to get 2 Rat Pelts from them,
you're gonna need them soon to unlock a useful bazaar item. Don't
sweat it if you don't, you'll have the chance to get more later.

Once all the cutscenes are over, you're given access to the map (press
Select). Your target is marked on it with an X, so you won't get
lost. There isn't much you can do in Rabanastre at this point (even
the shops are unavailable), so just head towards the X. After the
cutscene you can enter Migelo's shop right next to where you are and
buy potions, antidotes and eyedrops. You can also sell the loot you
got from the rats for gil. Just do the latter, you have plenty of
things to buy soon, so save for now.

Shops are now available, but you can only buy weapons and
armour. Don't, there's no point right now. Check your map and you'll
notice there is a new X on it. Head there and enter the Sandsea. Yet
another tutorial on the Notice Board, followed by one on the License
Board. By the time you're done, you will have accepted your very first
hunt, Rogue Tomatoe. You will also have gotten from Tomaj your Clan
Primer, a Writ of Transit (this gives you access to the Eastersand
area) as well as an Orrachea Armlet. Open your menu and equip the
Armlet. Now exit the Sandsea and head north towards the next screen,
we have some more talking to do before we get our hands dirty.

Take a left once you enter the new area, over the bridge, then north
to the two reptilian looking goons standing in front of a door. Talk
to one of them and he will let you into the hall of Clan
Centurio. Climb the stairs and speak to Montblanc, the Moogle at the
top. You will be admitted to the Clan. Speak to him again and you'll
get 3 Potions. There won't be any Hunt contracts available at this
time, so just hit the road and head towards the new X on your map,
where the east gate of the city is.

By the way, the magic shop now sells Cure, as well as level 1
elemental magic spells (Fire, Blizzard, Thunder), but I suggest you
don't buy them yet (even if you do, you can't do much with them, since
you lack the license points to use them). Also, we will also soon be
joined by party members that come with some of these spells for
free. Same goes for the technicks shop, where you can by the extremely
useful Libra (allows you to see information about enemies, as well as
hidden traps). You probably don't even have the money for it. Speak to
the guards at the east gate, then use the save crystal and prepare for
battle.

===================== 
3. Dalmasca Estersand 
=====================

Enter the Estersand. You'll notice you have wolf enemies that have red
HP bars, which means they are aggressive and will attack you if you
get near, as well as Cactoids, with green HP bars who will mind their
own business until you attack them, in which case they will fight
back. Bear in mind that stealing is considered an attack. You can
spend some time killing and stealing if you feel like it. Since you
are currently solo, killing enemies gives all the EXP gained to Vaan,
instead of splitting it between all party members, so you can gain a
couple of levels soon, as well as some LP. But the truth is, going
against enemies solo will also be very time consuming, with your
attack power being almost nil at this point and without the Cure spell
you will be burning through your meager Potion stash fast. So it's
better to just try to avoid them at this time and prepare for Rogue
Tomato, who awaits you on a ledge near a tree to the northeast of
where you entered the Estersand (you will see a pronounced red-orange
dot on your minimap, typical of all Hunts). If some wolf spots you on
your way there, just get rid of him fast before you come close to
Rogue Tomato. It is a good idea to clear the area around the boss of
wolves, so that they won't bother you during the main fight with Rogue
Tomato, then use a Potion (if you sustained any damage) and engage.

==================================== 
BOSS: Rogue Tomato - HP: 134 - LV: 2 
====================================

This is your very first Hunt and the only one you have to complete as
part of the main quest (all others are optional). It really is
easy. It only takes 3 to 4 hits at level 1 to deplete his HP enough,
so that Rogue Tomato will jump off the ledge. You'll then have to
follow him. Watch out for any wolves on the way, if they attack you,
kill them before you go near the boss. But if you just stay close to
the edge of the ledge, you have a good chance of no one following
you. Once you get near him again, just keep attacking him and try to
make him follow you towards the shade of the ledge, aways from
wolves. Again, only 3 or 4 hits and the Hunt is complete. You probably
won't even waste a Potion.

Watch the cutscene, then return to Rabanastre (just flee). If you
want, you can check out a couple of chests that spawn at the lower
east side of this area (near the entrance). Both have a good chance of
giving you a High Potion. There is also a Wild Saurian enemy (benign)
towards the north. Do not engage him, unless you want to see what the
game over screen looks like (seriously, he is WAY out of your league
right now).


============= 
4. Rabanastre 
=============
 
Save at the crystal if you like, then speak to Kytes. After the
cutscenes, head to the Sandsea and speak to Tomaj to collect your
reward for completing Rogue Tomato (300 gil, 2 Potion, 1 Teleport
Stone). This is standard procedure for every Hunt you take, you have
to speak first to the petitioner, then find and defeat the Hunt, then
speak again to the petitioner to collect the reward. DO NOT SELL THE
TELEPORT STONES. Seriously, they are very useful. Early on you can't
buy them, but you will receive them as rewards for hunts. We will be
able to get them as loot once we reach the Lushu Mines.

You can now inspect the Notice Board and accept the Thextera Hunt if
you like. You can actually do this right now, although it will be a
little difficult to fight him solo (not to mention gil-consuming, as
you still don't have Cure, so you'll have to use Potions). We will
take the Hunt a little later, when we will have Penelo in the team. Go
to a shop and sell any loot you got from the Estersand. Combined with
your reward from Rogue Tomato you should have enough gil to buy Cure
from the Magic shop and Libra from the Technicks shop. Do so. Even if
you don't have the LP to equip these yet, you will very soon.

At this point you have access to the entire Estersand (you could
previously enter the first area and the camp after it), as well as
Nalbina Fortress (the place where it all began). Nalbina now has a lot
better equipment and spells than Rabanastre, so if you did some
grinding in the Estersand and have the money and LP, go shop there (we
will eventually). You also have access to the Westersand, a far more
dangerous place but also one containing some nifty items, as well as
ideal for levelling up.

Through the Westersand you can also enter the Zertinan
Caverns. Enemies here are even harder than Westersand and will wipe
you out unless you're seriously overlevelled. Finally, there is the
Giza plains, which is our next destination. But first we have to hit
Rabanastre Lowtown. You can take one of the elevators available, or
just head to the south gate of Rabanastre. Save at the orange
crystal. This is a teleport crystal. Touching it allows you to
teleport to other like crystals you'll find in different locations
throughout Ivalice, at the expense of one teleport stone (that's why
they are so important). You have to touch every new teleport crystal
you find in order to add it to the list of available teleport
destinations. Once you save, open the big circular hatch on the wall
opposite the crystal to enter the Lowtown.

===================== 
5. Rabanastre Lowtown 
=====================
         
IMPORTANT!! READ BEFORE YOU PROCEED!!

In order to obtain the Zodiac Spear, the most powerful weapon in the
game, you have to NOT OPEN (that's right, not open) 4 key chests
throughout your game. The first of them is right in front of you once
you enter the Lowtown, right outside Dalan's house. If you are
interested in obtaining the Zodiac Spear later in the game STAY AWAY
FROM IT. There is a bunch of other chests spread throughout Lowtown
and you can open these to get some items and gil. Head to Dalan's (the
X on your map). Then exit the Lowtown and head towards the Giza Plains
throught Rabanastre's south gate (save first).


============== 
6. Giza Plains 
==============

Head south and enter the Nomad Camp. Speak to one of the residents
(Masyua). After you do this, Penelo will join the team. Exit the camp
and Penelo will give you 3 Potions and 2 Phoenix Downs, together with
a lecture on gambits. By the way, we don't have full gambits yet, you
just get to activate predetermined gambits for your players (so you
don't have to choose Attack every time). Basically these gambits will
target the party leader's target. Activate the gambits for both Vaan
and Penelo. You will notice that Penelo comes with her own equipment,
as well as her own license points and... hurray! She already has that
Cure licence purchased, so she can use Cure right off the bat. Now
it's time to get that Sunstone thing going, but before we do that, we
can take a detour to chase some monsters...

============================ 
OPTIONAL: Wolf in the Waste 
Thextera (Rank I) 
HP: 380 - LV: 6 
============================

To accept this Hunt, go to the Sandsea and read the Notice
Board. After you accept the Hunt, speak to Gatsly, who is sitting down
on the right of the Notice Board. Then head for Rabanastre's west
gate. Use the save crystal there and enter the Westersand.

Thextera awaits you in the first area of the Westersand, on the
southeast next to a big rock formation. There are wolves that are more
powerful than the Estersand variety, but now that you have two party
members and the Cure spell, you can take care of them. Try not to
engage more than one at a time though, for it will get risky. Start
clearing the area around Thextera. You will see the characteristic big
red-orange spot on your minimap. Thextera usually spawns with a couple
of wolves around it. Try to eliminate all wolves, until only one (the
one really close to Thextera) is left, without drawing the Hunt's
attention.

Even if you were level 1 when you entered the Westersand, by the time
you're finished with the wolves you'll probably have gained a
level. Then heal with Cure, stroll a bit to regain your MP and engage
by having both Vaan and Penelo attacking the remaining wolf, so you
get rid of him first. Once it's down, start attacking the Hunt. Vaan
should be the leader and stay close to Thextera, drawing its attention
while Penelo will be ready to do some healing. Thextera does about 20
damage per hit, so if you see Vaan (or Penelo) going below 60 HP, cast
Cure, since it can combo. The Hunt's hits can also induce Poison, but
this does minimal additional damage, so you shouldn't bother
dispelling it (with an Antidote).

Eventually Thextera will call for help and a new wolf will
materialize, but by this time the Hunt's HP should be low enough to be
finished within a couple of hits, so just concentrate your attacks on
it. If things really go south or you run out of MP, use a Potion. Once
Thextera is dead, kill the remaining wolf and return to
Rabanastre. Speak to Gatsly to collect your reward: 500 Gil, a
Headguard and one Teleport Stone. Not bad for a pretty straightforward
Hunt. It gets even better. Now you can buy High Potions from the Clan
Provisioner at the Muthru Bazaar.


============================= 
OPTIONAL: Westersand Farming
=============================

Apart from the Thextera Hunt, the Westersand is a great place to do
some fighting, level up and obtain some serious equipment, to the
point where it gets utterly distracting. I won't do this in the main
playthrough, but I will discuss here a few of the possibilities (this
section). Some of the enemies are a little hard in the beginning, even
if you have Penelo in the team, but as you level up and get stronger,
they will be less of a problem. The chests also contain some pretty
useful items, especially early game. In Galtea Downs to the east there
is a chest that can give you Water Motes. You can also get Phoenix
Downs and Onion Arrows from other chests here. To the southwest there
is an entrance to a smaller area, where you can find chests containing
Remedies and the very awesome Hastega mote (this will be your only
chance to get your hands on Haste magic for a long time). I would
advise you to get at least one from there.

RARE GAME ALERT: Lindbur Wolf

In the area to the southwest of Galtea Downs you can spawn the Lindbur
Wolf if you've killed at least 20 wolves while you are in the
Westersand (you don't have to chain them) before entering. His attacks
can do in excess of 300 damage, so you really don't want to go near
him if you're underlevelled. He has the Glaudius dagger (45 ATK,
Wind-elemental) as a rare steal, which can be very powerful early on,
but as it happens with every rare game, it takes many attempts to
steal it and if you don't have the levels and healing power needed to
endure his attacks, you'll probably end up dead before you get the
Glaudius.

In the Midfault, 3 very useful chests spawn right in front of the east
entrance. The one on your right usually has a Remedy. The one on the
left can get you a Hi-Potion, while a few steps forward from the
entrance, a chest occasionally spawns (near a pack of 3 wolves) that
can contain a Holy Mote. Given how long it takes to gain access to the
Holy spell (after the Pharos) or get Holy-elemental weapons, this is
your first chance to take advantage of Holy-weak enemies early on.

RARE GAME ALERT: Fideliant

Fideliant is a skeleton-like undead rare game that has a 20% chance to
spawn every time you enter the Midfault. Just as Dustia (described
below), he can be killed by using a Phoenix Down on him (being undead
and all). His attacks will kill you at low levels, but if you spot him
from a distance and sneak up on him, you can deliver the Phoenix Down
without getting hurt (it is a good idea to set your battle speed to
lowest for this). He gives 929 EXP and 3 LP, so he is great for
levelling up, but the best part is he's got the Heavy Lance (48 ATK,
on-hit: Slow) as a rare drop. You can easily chain him to increase
your chances of getting it. Just zone twice after you kill him and
return to the Midfault. If he isn't there, keep exiting and
re-entering (you only need to zone once from now on) until he shows
up.

You will also encounter the benign Dive Talons in various areas of the
Westersand. These are very powerful and very hard to kill, even if you
are seriously overlevelled. They have the Burning Bow (63 ATK,
increases Fire damage by 50%) as a rare drop, by far the most powerful
weapon you can get your hands on at this point. The only plausible way
of getting it now (along with overlevelling and lots of patience), is
to first increase your battle chain to highest by killing wolves
(which are easy) without picking up the loot. Once you get to highest
level, find a Dive Talon (there is one conveniently placed near one of
Midfault's exits, and yet another near the west exit of Windtraced
Dunes) and try to inflict it with Poison. If you manage to hit it with
the status, flee and exit towards the other area, then wait for a
while and return. The Dive Talon will still have Poison on and will
keep losing HP, but eventually it will wear of and you'll have to
re-establish it. If you manage to kill it by poisoning, it will die
without affecting your chain and you can potentially get his rare
drop. Unfortunately, Dive Talons tend to go Kamikaze on you, which
will break the chain, so it's not easy to get a Burning Bow from
them. I suggest you try this later, when you'll have access to the
Break spell.

The Shimmering Horizons area serves also as an entrance to the
Zertinan Caverns. The enemies here are ridiculously difficult at this
time. The Slimes have the Winged Helm as a very rare drop and you can
also find a chest here containing a Barbut, a very nice heavy
helm. You can set your battle speed to lowest and try to make a run
for it.

You will also notice changes in the weather patterns in the
Westersand. Occasionally you'll encounter a sandstorm. During these,
you can sometimes find a weird benign foe that looks like a big yellow
pulsing orb. This is the Gnoma Entite. It won't attack you, but will
aggro if you use magic anywhere near it, or provoke it. You can
usually find one during a sandstorm near the exit of the Midfault
towards Windtrace Dunes.

Gnoma has a rare steal (and drop), the Gnoma Halcyon. All Entite-type
enemies in the game have these Halcyons as rare items, which can be
used as ingredients to unlock some of the most powerful weapons and
armour in the Bazaar. Generally, Halcyons are notoriously hard to
get. The Gnoma Halcyon though seems to be an exception. I have
attempted it many times and getting it from the Gnoma Entite seems to
be relatively easy. All you have to do is have one team member steal
from it, then flee towards Windtrace Dunes. Gnoma will attack you with
level-3 spells that can immediately kill the thief (that will show
him!) if they hit, but if you get KOd you can bring in one of your
reserves to complete the escape. Once you're in the Windtrace Dunes,
heal and revive, then return to the Midfault to steal from the Gnoma
again. She will now have a new loot for you, even though you only
zoned once (this is a general trade of all Entites and Elementals in
the game). Continue this way until you get the Halcyon. I never had to
try more than about 30 times to get one, which doesn't take long,
although I would suggest you try this a little later in the game, when
you'll have more characters in your party (levels don't matter, Gnoma
will still be able to wipe you out) as well as the Thief's Cuffs. The
Halcyon you get won't be used for a long time anyway, but it will
allow you to get the Ultima Blade, the fourth best Greatsword (118
ATK) relatively early.

=========================== 
OPTIONAL: Dustia Levelling
===========================

Actually, an opportunity presents itself here for insanely fast
levelling up (and gil accumulation) that can render the first third of
the game a cakewalk. I won't be using it in this walkthrough, but if
this is your first time through the game, you might want to seriously
consider this, as it will make your life a lot easier (and
boring). Since insane levelling up appeals to a lot of people, I will
go through the process in some detail. You can find more thorough
guides and videos elsewhere if you have further questions.

RARE GAME ALERT: Dustia

In the Corridor of Sand region of the Westersand (north of Galtea
Downs, the first region you enter from Rabanastre), an undead rare
game spawns called Dustia. The condition to spawn this is to have at
least one of your party members at below 10% of his/her max HP (just
being critical won't do). If you fulfil this requirement, Dustia will
spawn immediately once you enter the area.

Now Dustia is a teleporting enemy. You will initially see a glowing
haze in front of you as she materialises. Like most teleporting
enemies in the game, you cannot target her until she fully
materialises, at which point her HP bar will appear on screen. Unlike
most undead enemies though, Dustia lacks the Safety passive ability,
that normally makes such enemies immune to instant death spells and
attacks. And since she is undead, you can through a Phoenix Down at
her to instantly kill her.

Dustia is a level 17-18 enemy and gives a hefty 1098 EXP and 3 LP,
making her an ideal EXP source. This is where the whole levelling up
idea stems from. With this amount of EXP, if you only kill 2-3 Dustias
using just one character (so you don't divide up the EXP between many
characters), you will immediately gain 4-5 levels. Do this for about
an hour and you will be in your mid 20's. And if you're really insane,
you can try going up to level 40 and beyond! If you only use Vaan for
the process, all other characters that later join the team will have
their levels determined by Vaan's level (Fran and Balthier join with
Vaan's levels +1. Basch, Ashe and Penelo with Vaan's levels +2). So by
levelling up just Vaan you also level up your entire team for
free. Same goes for the Licence Board. All the LP Vaan gets from
Dustia will determine the LP of the new characters, who will join with
a healthy amount of LP ready to use.

There are just 2 points that may act as a bottleneck in the process of
Dustia levelling. These are: 1) gil constraints. You need gil to buy
the Phoenix Downs to initiate the process. 2) Normally, once you kill
Dustia, you have to exit the Westersand (towards Rabanastre) and
return to Corridor of Sand in order for her to respawn, which takes
time (and also breaks your chain). Luckily, there are ways around both
these issues.

First, Dustia usually drops Book of Orgain, which sells for 532 gil
and has the Flame Staff as a rare drop (sells for 1200 gil). That
means that, if you have a good number of Phoenix Downs in hand
(10-15), you will usually make more money in loot than what you
spent. So you can head back to a merchant, sell the loot, buy a new
(and bigger) stock of Phoenix Downs and come back for more Dustia
chaining. If you have enough Phoenix Downs to maintain long chains,
you will be able to get more loot and more gil. So from some point on
the process is self-feeding and you can just keep going, farming EXP
and LP and making a good amount of gil in the meantime.

Second, you can take advantage of the so-called zone out glitch to
make Dustia reappear as soon as you kill her, without exiting the
Westersand and breaking your chain. The idea is, you keep your
character very close to the crossing line between Galtea Downs and
Corridor of Sand. Dustia materialises near you, you throw the Phoenix
Down and kill her but as soon as the loot drops, you step forward a
little bit, grab the loot then immediately turn around and cross into
Galtea Downs. If you do this fast enough, you can pick up the loot and
cross the line before the EXP and LP amounts of Dustia appear on
screen. The game then thinks Dustia didn't die, so once you re-enter
the Corridor of Sand, she spawns again! Keep doing this and you can
chain Dustia essentially indefinitely.

So let's see how you can put all these together and start Dustia
levelling up. I will suggest you do this right after getting Penelo at
the Giza Plains, as you can put the 3 Phoenix Downs Penelo gave you to
good use. Enter Galtea Downs and check the chest on the northwest of
the region. If it spawns, it has a good chance of giving you a Phoenix
Down. If you prefer, you can farm this chest until you have 5-10
Phoenix Downs. Just save at the Rabanastre west gate crystal and enter
the Westesand. If you get the Phoenix Down, go back, save and soft
reset and repeat. If you didn't get the Phoenix Down, soft reset and
repeat. Alternatively, you can try chaining wolves in the Estersand
(where they are easier targets) until you have enough loot to buy the
required Phoenix Downs, or steal from the Werewolves on the Giza
Plains. If you just want to gain a few levels, Penelo's Phoenix Downs
will be more than enough, but if you're really serious about the whole
levelling thing, make sure you have at least 10-15 Phoenix Downs
before you begin.

Once you have the amount of Phoenix Downs you want, kill the wolves
near the path that leads to Corridor of Sand. Then step near the
crossing line. Kill Penelo and have Vaan attacking himself until you
get him below 10% of his max HP (since Penelo is K.O.d, Vaan gets all
the EXP. Don't worry about her. Soon she won't be in the group and
once you get her back, her levels and LP will be aligned with what
Vaan will get from the Dustia levelling). This can be a little tricky
if your levels are low. You should also make sure he doesn't
accidentally combo and kills himself. To prevent this from happening,
once he hits himself, immediately open your menu (press triangle) and
change something in his equipment. This will cancel any potential
combo hit. I would suggest you start with Vaan using whatever weapon
he has (unless you accidentally gotten some very powerful weapon) to
deplete his HP fast, then once you start getting low, remove the
weapon and have him punch himself, which will do less and more
controllable damage. Remember to switch equipment every time he lands
a hit. Needless to say, have your battle mode on Wait.

With Vaan at below 10%, open your menu and SET YOUR BATTLE SPEED TO
LOWEST! This is critical for the process, for Dustia will start
charging Dark the moment you enter the Corridor of Sand and if this
hits Vaan before he delivers the Phoenix Down, it will kill him and
it's game over. But, if you set the battle speed to lowest, Dark will
take a long time to cast, while Phoenix Down, being an item, has no
charging time and you can kill Dustia before she gets a chance of
hurting you. Also, it is a good idea to remove any weapon from Vaan,
since the whole "draw sword" animation can slow you down when you try
to pick up the loot and retreat. Now cross the line towards Corridor
of Sand.

As usual, Vaan will appear a few steps ahead of the crossing line, so
immediately move back close to the crossing line (but without crossing
it). If you accidentally cross back to Galtea Downs, don't worry. The
only difference is, once you re-enter the Corridor of Sand, Dustia
will be there at once, while it usually takes a couple of seconds the
first time you enter for her to start showing up. Once Dustia
materialises and you see the red HP line, immediately press X. This
freezes the game and you can now select a Phoenix Down from your items
list. Then press R1. This allows you to target enemies with the
item. From the list, select the Dustia entry (beware of a Cockatrice
that also spawns near the entrance and appears on the list, you may
accidentally target her instead of Dustia). Now the next couple of
seconds are pretty critical. Once you deliver the Phoenix Down, keep
alternately pressing X and O (circle), so you freeze the game and have
a step by step view of what's going on. Once the Phoenix Down hits,
make sure you press X and freeze the game. Normally you'll hear the
level up sound and if Dustia does drop something, it will pop up, even
if the game is frozen. Now take a look at where the pouch containing
the loot has landed and prepare to make a run for it. Once you feel
confident, press O and make a quick step towards the loot. If you hear
the loot sound, press X again to freeze, make sure you got the loot,
then immediately cross the line as fast as you can (do not flee, just
run back). If you did everything correctly, you will only have time to
see Dustia wobbling before you cross the line towards Galtea
Downs. Rinse and repeat until you're out of Phoenix Downs or utterly
bored.

A further issue with the Dustia chaining is that, once you get your
chain at a high enough level, the coin-like loot will also grant you
with beneficial statuses and, occasionally, replenish your HP. In that
case, once you are back in Galtea Downs, take some time to bring your
HP back to Dustia-spawning levels. If you didn't notice it and entered
the Corridor of Sand without Dustia showing up, don't panic, most
likely you just got some HP from your loot. Just return to Galtea
Downs, hit Vaan until he bleeds and return to Corridor of Sand. Dustia
will be there.

Eventually you will run out of Phoenix Downs. You then have two
options. Either enter Rabanastre and visit Migelo's to sell your loot
and buy Phoenix Downs (which will break your chain, you also have to
have advanced with the plot a little in order for Migelo to sell
Phoenix Donwns), or traverse the Westersand fleeing towards the west
(Galtea Downs->The Midfault->Windtrace Dunes) until you reach the
Western Divide. There you can find a merchant, so you can sell your
loot and buy Phoenix Downs. Just use Cure or some Potions before you
make your way towards the Westersand merchant. The enemies will likely
be only a nuisance with your newly acquired levels. If you didn't kill
anything on your way there, your chain will be unbroken and you can go
back to the Corridor of Sand and continue. There is also a teleport
crystal in the same area (don't use it if you don't want to break your
chain). Once you flee back to Galtea Downs you have to be careful to
make your way towards the Corridor of Sand path without drawing any of
the wolves. If they spot you, just zone twice to the west and return
to try again (don't kill them, or you break your chain). When you're
safely back at the crossing towards the Corridor of Sand, use the same
process to bring your HP back to below 10% and continue your chaining.

The levelling up process is extremely fast in the beginning, when your
levels are very low, but it eventually slows down as you reach your
20's. If you got there, know that your levels are now more than enough
to get you through all of the main quest events up to and including
Raithwall's Tomb (that's the first 1/3 of the game), even if you know
jack shit about game mechanics and strategy. Also, the Flame Staves
you got from Dustia are some excellent weapons and at the time you get
them they have a pretty good ATK too, so make sure you keep at least
one (preferably 2) in your inventory. Even endgame they will be very
useful, as they boost Fire-elemental spells by 50%.


============== 
7. Giza Plains 
==============

Now that we're done with the Hunt, let's get back to business. Return
to the Giza Plains, enter the Nomad Village, save at the crystal and
exit southeast. You probably also have the LP to give Vaan the license
to equip the Headguard, which will boost his HP. The enemies here
aren't that hard, so it's a good idea to do some fighting, gain a
little LP and loot. Make sure you have Vaan stealing at least once
from each enemy, this will increase your loot (and gil)
considerably. Once in a while, have Penelo cast Cure to replenish your
HP. Also, since you 're at it, you should really try to get 5 Water
Stones (steal or drop) from the benign bunny-like creatures. They can
get a little annoying, for they tend to run around and aggro other
enemies, but other than that, they aren't that dangerous and you can
quickly get your loot. These little fellas will also occasionally cast
Cure on you if your HP is low (nice!), provided you don't attack them
(you can kill them right afterwards). The Water Stones are going to be
used later to unlock the pretty awesome Watershot Bazaar item. If you
don't want to use guns, don't bother with the Water Stones.

Continue south into the next area, then head west to a small area with
a save crystal. Talk to Jinn and get the Shadestone. Your mission now
is to head to the glowing pillar-like rock formations (Dark Crystals,
they show up as question marks on your map) that will allow you to
charge the Shadestone. You usually have to visit at least 3 of these
to get it fully charged. Save, then backtrack to the previous area and
use the Shadestone on the Dark Crystal there (just get close to it and
examine it). Then head west through the save crystal area and into the
next screen, where a second Dark Crystal awaits you once you enter.

Charge the stone and make sure you stay away from the two Werewolves
that lurk in the southernmost part of the region, they will wipe you
out. If you feel brave, you can try stealing from them (and then
running for your life). The Quality Hide they give sells for a good
amount of gil, but it is risky at this point. They also have the
Kotetsu (50 ATK Katana) as a very rare drop, which you can try to get
from them if you did some serious grinding beforehand (these guys are
about level 20), although it takes a ridiculous amount of time to get
it. You usually have to chain in excess of 100 Werewolves to get a
Kotetsu to drop.

If you haven't gotten the Shadestone to 100% yet, head north towards
Toam Hills, but before you do so, check for a chest near a bridge, it
has a good chance of giving you the Escuthceon shield, which is
excellent for Vaan. Continue north to Warrior's Wash and use the Dark
Crystal there. If you are particularly unlucky and the Shadestone is
still not fully charged, make your way east towards Gizas North Bank
where the fourth and final Dark Crystal awaits you. When you're done,
you will return to the Nomad Village and receive some items from
Masyua for your effort, as well as the Sun Stone.

We could now head back to Rabanastre and continue with the story, but
we can do some more interesting stuff while Penelo is still
around. Save at the crystal and exit to the west of the
village. Proceed to Gizas South Bank and then take the east exit over
the bridge towards the Estersand.

============== 
8. Estersand 
==============

You find yourself in the Yardang Labyrinth. By now you should have
enough LP to give Vaan the Libra licence. If you also got the
Escutcheon on the Giza Plains, equip that as well. Head northeast,
killing and stealing (watch out for the cockatrices, they can be kind
of dangerous if they attack you in pairs). Make sure you steal from
the wolves, you can get the very useful Pointy Hat mystic helm to use
with Fran later. At the northeast corner of the area you will find the
entrance to Nalbina.

============== 
9. Nalbina 
==============

Save at the teleport crystal, then enter the fortress. Buy all magic
with the exception of Fire and perhaps Poison. In case you're low on
gil, make sure you at least buy Blizzard and Blind. Also, do not buy
the First Aid Technick. If you want to get some weapons and armour, go
ahead, although there is really no need. Return to the Estersand.

============== 
10. Estersand 
==============

Move south, then turn right at the first junction and head north,
until you reach the next area (Sand-swept Naze).

RARE GAME ALERT: Nekhbet

A cockatrice-like rare game spawns in this area. It has a 20% to
appear after you kill a regular cockatrice. Engaging it this early
would be most unwise. He won't wipe you out immediately, but he has a
lot of HP (around 4000) and can inflict Slow. Nekhbet's behaviour
resembles in many ways the upcoming Cluckatrice Hunt. He will use the
same Mucus attack that can cause Slow and can also use Purify to
remove any status ailments. Just like Cluckatrice, you can hit him
with Disable (which he can't Purify). He is also susceptible to
Break. But of course you don't have access to all these spells right
now. Avoid killing cockatrices in this area and in the unlikely event
it spawns, just flee.

Continue northweast towards Banks of the Nebra. There is a village on
the northeast, enter it and save at the teleport crystal. Now exit the
village and head towards the riverbank on the right. You will find two
Ichthons there (fish-like benign enemies). Steal from them to get 2
Fish Scales. We will use them soon to unlock a Bazaar item. You can
also obtain these later in the Garmasythe Waterway, but you won't have
Penelo then, so now it's easier to get them. Once you're done, either
go back to Rabanastre on foot (a good chance to obtain more gil and
LP) or use the teleport crystal in the village.

================================= 
OPTIONAL: Dalmasca's Desert Bloom
Flowering Cactoid (Rank I) 
HP: 755 - LV: 4
=================================

After you complete Thextera, you can also undertake the Flowering
Cactoid Hunt. You will find him in the Yardang Labyrinth region of the
Estersand. His regular attacks aren't very dangerous, but he gets
annoying because he will run around aggroing other foes. Begin by
clearing the area around the Cactoid. You'll notice he is under
Protect and Haste, so wait for a while without engaging him for his
buff to wear off. Make sure you are healed and at good MP level
(especially Penelo, who should do the healing) and engage. If you
happened to come across some Dark Mote, use it. But most importantly,
have Penelo cast the newly acquired Blind spell (you must have the LP
by now to use it). If it hits, the fight will be much easier. Notice
that the Cactoid can also inflict you with Blind through his physical
attack. Have Eye Drops with you to dispel it.

The most dangerous point is when the Cactoid gets below 20% HP. It
will then start charging 1000 Needles, which amounts to instant death,
so use a Phoenix Down to revive. He only uses it once though. This is
a Hunt you may want to postpone until after Barheim Passage, not
because it's hard but because you can't take advantage of his
weaknesses now. You'll then have the Immobilize spell and characters
with ranged weapons in your team that will make this very easy (the
fact you'll have gained a few levels will help too).

============== 
11. Rabanastre 
==============

IMPORTANT!! READ BEFORE YOU PROCEED!!

The reason for the warning above, is that you are supposed to get back
to Dalan's with the Sun Stone. Once you head there though, Penelo will
leave the group, along with any equipment she has at the moment. So
make sure you remove all her equipment once you enter Rabanastre, that
way you get to keep them (and use them) until you get Penelo
back. Once you do this, head for Lowtown and Dalan's. Talk to the old
man, then head northwest in the Lowtown towards the X on your
map. Kytes awaits you there and gives a few items before you
proceed. Enter the gate towards the Garamsythe Waterway.


=======================
12. Garamsythe Waterway
=======================

Save at the crystal and climb the stairs to your left. In this new
area there are a couple of chests you can get Hi-Potions from. You
will be greeted by your old friends the rats, along with some bat-like
enemies (Steelings). Try to get 1 Bat Fang from them (drop of steal),
we'll need it for a Bazaar item, but other than that, it's better to
just flee towards the next area, moving east, then north. The last
region has some benign Ichthons (the same you encountered in the
Estersand. If you didn't get the Fish Scales then, you can try it
now), along with rats and Steelings.

RARE GAME ALERT: Razorfin

This guy has a 10% chance to show up in this area of the waterway. He
looks like an Ichthon, only larger and aggressive. He has very little
HP and isn't that hard to kill, even solo. Weak to Thunder.

Head towards the west of the area, where you can find a chest at the
southwest corner (climb the stairs), that may contain the Mage Masher
dagger (19 ATK, inflicts Silence). If you did get it, make sure you
equip Vaan with it (you probably have the licences by now). Finally,
head north and climb the stairs there towards the Palace.


======================= 
13. Royal Palace 
=======================

Open the Urn that contains the map of the place, then use the save
crystal. You will be advised to use a different save file, which is a
good idea. Then open the door.

IMPORTANT!! READ BEFORE YOU PROCEED!!

The second chest that might spoil your chances with the Zodiac Spear
is in this chamber. Don't open any of the chests here. Move north and
approach the guards. After the cutscene try to climb the stairs. Then
talk to the servant nearby. He will explain you how to bypass the
guard. Press the square button, wait for the guard to start
approaching you, then move behind him and take the stairs to the next
area.

Here you have to do a series of similar manipulations of the
guards. From the place you start, take a right (south), then turn left
(east) until you reach the junction. Turn left there and you will see
the two guards at a distance (they show up as two green dots on your
minimap). Press square to provoke them, then run back to where you
started. You will see the next team of guards right at the north of
where you are, at the initial junction. Call them (press square), then
head east. You will encounter a Signet on the floor as you walk here,
ignore it and turn left (north) along the big corridor, then take a
left on the first junction. You will find the Lion Signet in the
middle of this corridor. Examine it and use the Crescent Stone
here. Now move a little bit forward towards the western end of this
corridor. A guard is standing to the north. Call him (press square),
then move east and then north until you reach the upper part on you
minimap. Take the corridor leading west here and examine the glowing
window at the very end. This will open the door to the next room.

Walk towards the end of the corridor and you will find a switch on
your left. Press it, then examine the Suspicious Wall on your
right. After the cutscenes, climb the stairs. After even more
cutscenes, Fran and Balthier join your party and you find yourself
back in the waterway.

======================= 
14. Garamsythe Waterway
=======================

Move down the stairs to get a tutorial on gambits. You now have full
gambit access and can change your party formation from your
menu. Examine the bodies for a cutscene, then head back to the save
crystal to save your game, but before that you may want to take some
time to check gambits and rearrange equipment a little bit. Fran
already has the licences to use all level 1 magic, as well as Cure and
Blindna. She also comes with Fire magic for free (that's why we didn't
buy it before). You probably still don't have access to the other
spells you got from Nalbina, but don't worry, you'll have the
necessary LP soon. Balthier also has the First Aid technick, and a
gambit to use it. Set Vaan as your party leader (as he has the shield,
he can block enemy attacks) and set his first gambit to Foe: nearest
visible -> Steal (leave the other blank). It is better to have Vaan
stealing automatically, then once you get the loot, have him attack
manually. If you feel uneasy about your ability to defeat foes, change
this gambit from Steal to Attack.

Notice that both Balthier and Fran have ranged weapons, so if you make
sure Vaan stays near the foes, they will receive very little
damage. Of course you have to take care that your team leader is
healed properly, so set Fran's top gambit to Ally: HP <70% ->
Cure. Set both Fran's and Balthier's attacks gambits to Foe: party
leader's target -> Attack. If you got the Pointy Hat from the
Estersand and have the LP, give it to Fran. After you save, you can
start practising with your new group in the next two areas (in the
first one there in an Urn on the left with the Waterway map), moving
south towards East Sluice Control. You will find a save crystal
there. Save and prepare for a mini-boss fight when you climb down the
stairs.

After the cutscene you find yourself fighting along with a companion
character against 4 Imperial Soldiers. Change your leader's gambit to
Attack (if you had it on Steal) and have him attack one of the
soldiers that doesn't have Protect on. Once the first soldier falls,
check which one your companion is engaging and concentrate your fire
on him. Continue this way until all four are defeated. Do not worry
much about healing, Fran's Cure should be more than enough, if not,
have her use a Potion or two when needed.

After the battle, talk to your new companion. Amalia joins your team
as a guest, meaning, you do not control her. She has the Bangle
accessory (grants auto Libra) and an inexhaustible stash of Potions
and Phoenix Downs, so she can take care of healing from now on
(provided she stays alive). Return to the save crystal to save your
progress, then go west for another mini-boss fight.
   
You are ambushed by 4 Flans. These are resistant to physical attacks
but weak to Fire. If anybody else has licence to use the Fire spell at
this point, this is going to be extremely easy, but even with nothing
but Fran (who is essentially your mage at this point), this will be
over very soon. Set up Fran's gambits to Foe: nearest visible -> Fire
and close her healing gambit (you don't want to wast your MP on
that). For Vaan, change his attack gambit to Foe: party leader's
target -> Attack and make Fran your party leader. There is no point in
healing in this battle, if you are around level 4-5, the damage you'll
receive will be non-threatening. As the battle commences, check which
Flan Amalia targets and have Fran manually cast Fire on it. Then take
control of Fran and start running around the target Flan, so you
regain MP. Continue until the first Flan falls, then check which one
Amalia will pick and repeat. Keep Fran constantly on the move. By the
time her MP is depleted, you'll probably have only one Flan
left. These guys tend to cast Blind, which sucks, so if you have Vaan
with the Mage Masher to inflict Silence on them, it can make things
even easier than they already are.

After the battle, check the two chests there (one of them may contain
the Leather Shield. If you get it, equip it to Vaan), then return to
the save crystal to heal and save. Return your gambits to normal, then
proceed east, past the place where you fought the Flans, then head
north towards the Central Waterway Control (check your map). Once you
get there, save at the crystal, set Vaan's gambit to Attack and open
the gate for your first proper boss fight.

--------------------------------- 
BOSS: Firemane - HP: 3571 - LV: 7
---------------------------------

She is weak to Water (as most Fire-elemental foes in this game), so if
you happened to get a Water Mote from the Westersand, use it against
her, it will do about 350 damage.

Normally you can take her down without using buffs and debuffs, even
if you are around level 4-5, with little more than your standard
armour. If you have licences for Slow and Protect, make sure you cast
Protect on Vaan and Amalia (who will be receiving most of the damage)
before you enter the battle, then have Vaan engaging the Firemane,
while Fran (who is the most magic proficient) tries to inflict her
with Slow. If you don't have all these spells, give the Goddess's
magicite to Vaan to protect him from magic damage. Try to draw
Firemane's attention on Vaan by always keeping him closer to her. If
he has the Mage Masher, he can inflict Silence, so she can't cast
Fire. She will then only use her physical attacks, that also hurt a
lot. Also notice that if you manage to lure her into the water that
surrounds the area, you will deal increased damage, although it can be
a little risky because she may start targeting other party members
instead of Vaan.

Make sure Fran has her healing gambit active, because Amalia can't
administer Potions fast enough. If Fran's MP gets depleted and you
have a good stock of Potions, change her healing gambit from Cure to
Potion.

She will eventually use her big attack, Bushfire. This is an AoE
attack and can also inflict Poison. Luckily it has a relatively small
effect radius and because Fran and Balthier will stay at a distance,
it should normally only hit Vaan and Amalia. If Poison connects,
dispel it with Poisona (if you have it) or use an Antidote. Make sure
you keep Amalia and Vaan alive and you shouldn't have much of a
problem.

======================= 
15. Nalbina Dungeons 
=======================

Search the area for 4 chests containing Knots of Rust. Save at the
crystal and head north. After the cutscene you find Vaan and Balthier
fighting in hand to hand combat against the three seeq. Concentrate
your fire on Gwitch, who has little HP and isn't under Protect. Then
take care of Daguza and finally Galeedo. If something goes wrong, try
using the Knots of Rust, but it is an easy fight.

IMPORTANT!! READ BEFORE YOU PROCEED!!

After the battle, head forward towards the save crystal for a
cutscene. You get your equipment back and find yourself in a room with
some chests. Don't open them, they are connected to the Zodiac
Spear. Give Vaan the Orrachea Armlet again and save. Also, keep his
gambit to Attack. There are some moderately difficult guards in the
next screen and they don't give much if you steal from them. Head
towards the northwest, you'll see on your minimap there's an entrance
towards a new area there. You can find some chests containing Knots of
Rust, and one containing Ether, but it's better to just move on.

=================== 
16. Barheim Passage 
===================

After further cutscenes Basch joins as a guest. Climb down the stairs
until you find a small circular room on your right, containing 3
chests with a decent amount of gil. Then take a left before the save
crystal and examine Timeworn Machine. Talk to Burrogh who will give
you a Tube Fuse. Return to the Timeworn Machine and use the Tube Fuse
to activate it. Once the lights are on, get back to where Burrogh is
and press the switch near him. Now go the the save crystal and save
your game, then head south. You can do a bit of shopping with Burrogh
if you like, but we will be returning to him soon anyway. Make sure
though you get from him the Ally: HP < 50% gambit, this will come in
handy. Change Fran's healing gambit to Ally: HP < 50% -> Cure.

You will watch a cutscene explaining the situation with Mimics
absorbing energy. Once this is done, you have to engage a couple of
these, along with a zombie. Take care of the zombie first and make
sure you steal from him too. The Dark Stones are needed for Bazaar
items. Then kill the big Mimics (steal from them first), having Fran
casting Blizzard (they are weak to ice). Now the idea is that we need
at least 3 Dark Stones, so you can try skipping the big Battery Mimic
at the southern end of the room (kill the little ones) and wait until
the energy level goes below 30%. More zombies will spawn and you can
get more Dark Stones, until you have 3 of them. If the zombies refuse
to spawn, zone once south, then return to the previous room. Once you
have the stones, kill the remaining Battery Mimic, head back to the
save crystal and save. Proceed south to the Great Eastern Passage.

Head right to the first fork to get the Battery Mimic here. Return to
the junction, go south, then left on the next junction. Another
Battery Mimic is here. Return to the junction, go south, then head
north your right to find the Urn containing the map of the area. Head
south and kill another Battery Mimic before entering Op. Sector 36 on
the right. Kill the Mimics and Battery Mimics, then return to Great
Eastern Passage and enter Special Op. Sector 3. You will encounter a
Battery Mimic right away. Dispose of it, then turn towards the room on
the west, where you'll be ambushed by two Flans. They are weak to
Fire, so have Fran use it against them. If you did get a Green Liquid
from them, make sure the energy level is high enough, and run back all
the way to where Burrogh was. Now sell to him your Dark Stones, Fish
Scales, Green Liquid, Bat Fangs and Rat Pelts (if you haven't already)
to unlock the Bow & Bodkin and the Marksman's Delight Bazaar
items. Purchase them, then give Fran the Parallel Arrows and Balthier
the Capella and Silent Shot. With the Capella equipped, he can do some
pretty good damage. Return to Special Op. Section 3 and proceed to
Op. Sector 37, killing along the way. You will find several more Flans
on your way there. Make sure you get 3 more Green Liquids. Finally, at
the northwest corner of Op. Sector 37 you will find a switch. Press it
and provided you have more than 30% energy left, a door will be
activated. Return to Special Op. Sector 3 and head south to
North-South Junction.

After the cutscene, save at the crystal. The next section south (Great
Central Passage) has a few chests that are actually mimics in disguise
(you will know which, they are more bluish than regular chests). Kill
the Battery Mimic here, then proceed to the Zeviah Subterrane. There
are some good items to be found in the chests here, including the
gambit Self. Also, at the southwest (where a small island with a
couple of Surrianders is) a chest spawns that may contain the Oaken
Pole, a good weapon for Balthier. Kill the last 3 Battery Mimics here
and exit to Terminus 4 Adjunct. By the way, there is a very slim
chance you get a Mage's Habit as a drop from the Battery Mimics. This
is an amazing mystic armour at this point and will really set up your
mage all the way up to and including Raithwall's Tomb (after which you
get access to better mystic armour anyway). If you were lucky and
accidentally got one, pat yourselves on the back, you just made your
life a lot easier. Now save at the crystal and prepare to face the
boss of this dungeon.

------------------------------------- 
BOSS: Mimic Queen - HP: 4073 - LV: 10 
-------------------------------------

This can be kind of hard, even if your levels are comparable (8-9). A
good configuration is the following in terms of gambits:

Fran (Party Leader) 
Foe: nearest visible -> Slow 
Foe: nearest visible -> Blizzard

Vaan 
Allie: HP < 50% -> Potion 
Foe: party leader's target -> Attack

Balthier 
Allie: any -> First Aid 
Foe: party leader's target -> Attack

Fran is your leader for this battle. Fran and Balthier will deliver
the bulk of the damage, while Vaan and Basch will be tanking. Before
battle, have Fran cast Protect on Vaan and Basch, then touch the save
crystal to replenish your MP. When you enter the battle, you'll see
several small mimics in the area around the boss. Don't bother with
them. Instead, take control of Fran and immediately target the Mimic
Queen with Slow and have Vaan and Balthier also manually attacking
her. From there on, keep Fran and Balthier at a distance (near the
entrance of the circular chamber). Vaan and Basch will engage the
Mimic Queen and draw her attention. When she uses Shockstorm she will
do considerable damage to anyone near (that will probably be Vaan and
Basch), above 150 points. If some of them dies use a Phoenix Down, but
normally everybody should be standing after Shockstorm, with Fran and
Balthier taking no damage. Keep Fran constantly on the move, going
circles around herself so she replenishes her MP and can cast Blizzard
(Mimic Queen is weak to Ice). Make also sure Vaan has the Goddess's
Magicite. In the end you shouldn't have wasted more than 10 Potions
when this is over (which you can afford by now).

====================== 
17. Rabanastre 
======================

Save at the crystal, then get back to Rabanastre, moving south through
the Estersand. Once you get there, Fran, Basch and Balthier
immediately live the party (along with their stuff) but fear not,
unlike Penelo, we are going to have them back with us very soon. Take
the opportunity to do some shopping (especially the Shell, Immobilize
and Disable spells, as well as the Charge technick, which you'll be
using a lot), check the Notice Board (there are two new Hunts
available) and also visit Montblanc, who will give you all kinds of
goodies for your valiant efforts to make Ivalice a safer place. He
also has a couple of contracts for you, the Elite Marks (!)
Cluckatrice and Rocktoise, both of which are pretty hard! You can now
use the teleporter Moogles which will allow to move faster between
places in Rabanastre. Once you're done with that, head to
Dalan's. Speak to him and he'll give you a sword. Check your map and
go where the X shows. Talk to Balzac. After the scene, Basch joins the
team for good. Now head to the Sandsea. You'll find Fran and Balthier
sitting on the upper level. They also join for good. Now Balthier will
tell you to go to the Aerodrome, but before that, it's time to go
hunting...

=========================== 
OPTIONAL: Waterway Haunting 
Wraith (Rank I) 
HP: 5146 - LV: 9 
===========================

IMPORTANT!! READ BEFORE YOU PROCEED!!  If you already did the first
three Hunts, completing this will increase your Clan Ranking (Rear
Guard). The trouble with this is that the Clan Provisioner will stop
selling Hi-Potions, in exchange for Gysahl Greens (you can use them to
ride Chocobos). There is a REALLY difficult Hunt you may want to
attempt after Wraith and Hi-Potions can be a big help, if you have the
money to buy them. So stock up on Hi-Potions if you like before
killing Wraith.

I assume you know by now how to find the petitioners and start the
Hunts. Once you do, head to the entrance to the Garamasythe Waterway
(where we found Kytes before we entered the palace) and take the door
on your right.

When you enter the Overflow Coaca, nothing happens, but if you climb
down the stairs and move into the middle of the area, it will show up.

This guy always starts the fight by casting Doom on every one of your
characters successively until everyone has the Doom status. The trick
is, he won't use any other attack until Doom hits all your party
members. You can turn this to your advantage. Once you enter the
Overflow Coaca (but before taking the stairs), cast Shell on
everyone. To make it last longer, have one guy casting on the
others. Each time you put Shell on one of your characters, immediately
put him in reserve. Continue this way until only the caster
remains. Then have him cast Shell on himself and exit the Waterway
towards the Lowtown. Go to the save crystal at the south gate and save
there. You now have all your party members buffed up and ready to
go. Return to Overflow Coaca and spawn the Wraith.

Because of your Shell status, it will have a hard time making Doom
connect. In the mean time, you can just hack away. If he misses 3 to 4
times before everyone is under doom, you will have depleted about half
its HP. And you still have one party member left! As soon as your
third character gets inflicted with Doom, switch one of the others
with the reserve character. The Wraith will waste even more time
cursing him too.

If you have the Mage Masher, use it with Vaan. Once you inflict him
with Silence he will mostly use physical attacks, which do moderate
damage (have Fran ready with a healing gambit if you see your HP
getting low). He also has a Sleep Touch attack that can put one
character to Sleep (use an Alarm Clock or just remove the weapon from
one of your other members and punch the sleeping guy). Don't use
Silent Shot, since it's resistant to Guns. Better equip Balthier with
the Oaken Pole if you have it. Fran can also do good damage by casting
Thunder (the Wraith is weak to it). If you play this the right way and
use all of your characters evenly, you'll kill him with time to
spare. Notice that Doom doesn't go away even after you defeat the
Wraith, so quickly exit the Waterway. You can now go back to the south
gate and touch the crystal to remove Doom. And don't forget to go back
to the petitioner and get your reward.

By the way, remedies do not heal Doom at this point, since you must
unlock quite advanced Remedy Lore licences to be able to do that. So
the non-strategic (and more expensive) way to tackle this Hunt is
using a few Phoenix Downs to resurrect fallen comrades whenever
someone dies.

Now that you are Rear Guard, an interesting (although probably
pointless right now) opportunity presents itself of obtaining a really
high-end accessory from the Bazaar, the Hermes Sandals (grants
auto-Haste). You can get it by selling 33 Gyshal Greens (just buy them
from the Clan Provisioner, then sell them back) and 15 Arcanas. The
latter can be obtained as follows: Keep checking the Notice Board in
the Sandsea. You have to check at least 20 times (including the ones
you already checked to do previous Hunts). Then head to any merchant
or shop. You will see there is a new item in the Bazaar. This is the
Warmage's Monograph, costs 20000 gil (ouch!) and allows you to get
better quality loot from amorphs and undeads. The bonus is, undead
rare game now potentially drops Arcana. So if you buy some Phoenix
Downs and start chaining Dustia (see the Dustia Levelling section),
you'll soon get your Arcanas (and get tons of EXP and levels in the
process). You can now buy the Hermes Sandals if you fork out another
18000 gil (yeah, it's that expensive). Then good luck equipping these,
as the licence for them is near the upper right end of the Licence
Board. Unless you are prepared for some serious grinding (mainly
chaining Dustia, for she'll give both the gil and the LP, along with
the Arcanas) and totally abusing the game, I would advise you wait for
a while. We will be getting our hands on the Hermes Sandals anyway
after Raithwall's Tomb, when it will be much easier to collect all the
gil and LP required.

You also have access to the Garamsythe Waterway again, which now has
some of the toughest enemies available (with foes in their late 30's
in terms of levels). You can try farming there to get the loot
required to unlock the Francisca (89 ATK Axe!! By far the most
powerful weapon in the game at this point) and the Golden Garb (Golden
Helm+Golden Armour+Golden Shield). For the Francisca you need 6 Wind
Magicites (drop from Dive Talons in the Westersand), 2 Pointed Horns
(drop from Lizard in Garamsythe Waterway) and 4 Malboro Fruits (steal
from Malboro Overking in the Waterway). The first two are not easy to
get, the Dive Talons are really dangerous and you don't have magic or
weapons to kill them with ordinary attacks. Your best chance is to
blind and poison them, then hope they don't go Kamikaze on you (you
won't get any loot then), or hit them with Quickenings. It takes a
while. Lizards are even more dangerous. Sneaking up on them and
pulling a Quickening Chain is your only way of attack. If you did some
level grinding with Dustia, this can be a little less dangerous, but
the main problem is you simply don't have the armour necessary to
withstand their attacks. For the Golden Garb, things are a little
easier. You need to sell 3 Dark Magicites (steal from Malboro Overking
in the Waterway), 2 Tanned Hides (steal or drop from Slaven on the
Giza Plains) and 3 Iron Carapaces (poach Sleipnir in the
Westersand). Of these, only the poaching part is time consuming, for
it will usually fail to give you the item wanted. Needless to say, if
you equip Basch with the Golden Garb and Francisca at this point, he
will be a killing machine.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Little Love on the Big Plains 
Cluckatrice (Rank I) 
HP: 7509 - LV: 15
=======================================

If you thought Wraith was a pushover, get ready for this! You will be
left scratching your head to figure out what you're supposed to do to
survive this mayhem. The upside is that you'll really get a flavor of
how to tackle difficult fights using strategy instead of brute
force. Cluckatrice is a very powerful enemy, with loads of HP and 3
equally annoying (and hard to kill) minions, her Chickatrices. At the
time this Hunt first becomes available, given all your handicaps and
lack of decent equipment, it is probably one of the hardest boss
fights in the entire game. You should seriously consider postponing
this for later (probably after Raithwall's Tomb), where you'll have
some better stuff to play with and higher levels. If you really like a
challenge though, Cluckatrice will give it to you alright.

It would be pure madness trying to engage her with the gear you have
after you exit the Barheim Passage, especially when it comes to
armour. Not even Goddess's Magicite will be of use here. Both the
Cluckatrice and the Chickatrices have strong physical attacks and
without proper armour, you won't be able to last long. As if that
wasn't enough, the Cluckatrice will hit you with Mucus, which does
over 100 damage and can inflict Slow, while she will also use Stone
Gaze to Petrify you. It can miss and there is a higher chance it will
if you use Shell, but during this battle you won't have much time for
that.

As with most problems in life, throwing money to it can be a good way
of solving it. Simply put, if you manage to raise enough money, or
farm enough to get a very large stock of Hi-Potions and Phoenix Downs,
you'll probably make it (remember, the Clan Provisioner was selling
Hi-Potions to clan members for a reason). This is equivalent to
flushing gil down the toilet, since all the money you spend are gone
for good after this fight. The other way is to spend your gil on
better armour and weapons, or devote some time farming necessary items
that will unlock better weapons and armour in the Bazzar. The choice
is yours, but personally I prefer the second method, since at least
you get to use the gear you got even after the Hunt is over.

Preparation is of the essence if you want to succeed in this
battle. Let's start with the most important piece of the puzzle,
armour. I suggest you hit the armour shop and buy 3 pieces of Scale
Armour, the best heavy armour you can get at this point. Vaan,
Balthier and Basch will be using this. Also make sure you have 2
pieces of Leather Headgear light helms. If you want, also purchase the
Buckler for Vaan.

Remember that Mage's Habit we were talking about back in the Barheim
Passage? If you did get it (unlikely) it will render this Hunt SO much
easier. The Chickatrices have 17 ATK power, while Mage's Habit has 18
Defence, so if you put it on Fran, they will do zero damage, no matter
what your level. Given that Fran is the most important character in
this case (we'll explain why), you should make sure she has the best
mystic armour you can get (don't use heavy armour). At this point,
Rabanastre sells the Topkapi Hat and the Killimweave Shirt, which
simply won't cut it for Cluckatrice, unless you are prepared to waste
at least 40 Potions and several Phoenix Downs mid-battle. It can be
done, but I don't recommend it. This leaves you with the alternative
of the Bazaar. You can unlock the Traveler's Garb mystic armour set,
containing the Feathered Cap and Traveler's Vestment by selling 5
Water Stones (get them from the rabbits on Giza Plains, you probably
got them already), 3 Tanned Hides (steal or drop from Slaven also on
Giza Plains, you can find one in the area where you fight the
Cluckatrice) and (last but not least) 2 Braid Wools. The final item is
the only bottleneck. You can get it as a drop from the rare game
Greeden in the Estersand.

RARE GAME ALERT: Greeden

This cute looking creature will spawn in the Banks of the Nebra area
of the Estersand. You will see him spawning between the two Ichthons
on the beach, provided you wait for more than 3 minutes in the area
without killing any of the Cactites and Cactoids (you can kill other
enemies). He will usually show up with Shell and Protect on, so wait
for a while for these to wear of (especially Shell). Then cast Blind
on him. He is about level 30, but isn't as frightening as it
sounds. If you manage to inflict Blind, he is easy, especially if you
got the Scale Armour. Have Vaan tank with the Buckler and Mage Masher
(or the Assassin's Dagger if you have it), while Balthier and Fran hit
it from a distance. Make sure you use a Potion or two to heal if some
of his attacks lands. You can also try to inflict Slow, which will
render him even easier. He has the Braid Wool as a common drop, but
the trouble is, he will sometimes not drop loot. If you are farming,
save at the nearby village and if you don't get the loot, soft reset
and try again. It doesn't take long. One further note is that, if you
engage him and for some reason you fail to inflict Blind, or he starts
killing people, you can run back to the village, touch the save
crystal to heal, then return to the beach. He will spawn again after 3
minutes if you didn't kill him, but the best part is, when he shows
up, he'll have the same HP and all permanent debuffs (like Blind or
Silence) that you inflicted before, so you continue your fight right
where you left it! This also makes it easy to kill using nothing but
Quickenings, if you have them. Get close to him, initiate, get a
Concurrence, then flee back to the village. Touch the crystal to
restore your MP, then head back to the beach, wait for 3 minutes and
hit him again.

When it comes to offence, the situation is a little more
blurry. Actually, you can go ahead and try your chances with your
current weapons. It won't be that hard if you got the armour
(especially the Traveler's Vestment). The best weapons you can buy at
this point are the Assassin's Dagger, Javelin and the Silver Bow, all
of which are pretty decent. Capella is already the best Gun (and you
probably have it, along with Silent Shot). It is also a good idea to
buy an Oak Staff and give it to Fran. But if you want to go all out on
the Cluckatrice and take advantage of her weakness to Earth-elemental
attacks, your best choice is the Cypress Pole, again from the
Bazaar. You have to sell 4 Earth Stones (steal or drop from Cactoids
in Estersand and the Alraunes in Westersand), 3 Succulent Fruits
(steal or drop from the Alraunes in Westersand) and 5 Bone
Fragments. The last one is a common drop from the rare game Fideliant
(see the Westersand Farming section). It is pretty easy to obtain
these and gain a couple of levels too in the process. Also, you'll
probably end up with the Heavy Lance, which is Fideliant's rare drop
and excellent against the Cluckatrice (because it can inflict Slow). I
actually got 2 of them once before getting the 5 Bone Fragments!

After you assemble your gear, the final touch is making sure you have
the right support items. It will be a good idea to get at least one
(or more) Holy Mote (see the section Westersand Farming). These will
do decent damage and shorten the battle considerably if you have
them. Also, try to get 1-2 Dark Motes (from a chest that spawns on the
Giza Plains, Giza's South Bank, right after the bridge on the east
that leads to the Estersand). You can also buy the Dark spell, but I
don't think you'll have the MP to burn on this one. Water Mote (also
in Westersand) can do good damage too. You can also get a Hastega Mote
(see the section Westersand Farming), useful in case you get hit by
Slow during the battle (Hastega will dispel it). Finally, a good stock
of Potions (you probably have around 40 by now anyway, let's put them
to good use), some Hi-Potions (2-3 will be fine, in case something
really bad happens) and Phoenix Downs (around 10).

The last thing you should have in your inventory, is some Ethers. This
is a biggie. Make sure you have at least 5. The more you can get, the
better. You probably have a couple of them by now (and you got 1 from
the Wraith Hunt), but if you need more, you can farm them on the Giza
Plains, taking the so-called Giza circuit (Throne Road-> Giza's North
Bank-> Giza's South Bank-> Crystal Glade-> Starfall Field-> Toam->
Hills-> Wariors Wash -> Throne Road). There are several chests in
these regions that can give you Ether. Keep going around in this
circle until you have enough, then get back to Nomad Village and find
the petitioner. Save at the crystal and exit towards Giza's North
Bank.

The first thing you need to do is clear this area of all the enemies,
including the bunnies. Once you're done with that, it's time you
prepare your team for the Cluckatrice. I will assume you have the
armour from the Rabanastre shop, as well as the Traveler's Garb Bazaar
package, but not much better weapons than you had once you left
Barheim Passage. A good setup is the following:

Gambits:

Fran (Party Leader) 
Foe: nearest visible -> Disable 
Foe: nearest visible -> Attack

Vaan 
Allie: HP < 50% -> Potion 
Self -> Protect 
Foe: party leader's target -> Attack

Balthier 
Allie: any -> First Aid 
Foe: party leader's target -> Attack

Basch 
Allie: HP < 50% -> Potion 
Foe: nearest visible -> Attack
  
Equipment:

Fran: Short Bow, Parallel Arrows, Feathered Cap, Traveler's Vestment.
Vaan: Mage Masher, Buckler, Leather Headgear, Scale Armour, Orrachea
Armlet.  
Balthier: Capella, Silent Shot, Leather Headgear, Scale
Armour 
Bash: Mythril Blade, Leather Shield, Sallet, Scale Armour,
Armguard (if you have it).

You can also give Fran the Oak Staff if you got that, as this will
increase her Magic stat, but I prefer a ranged weapon as it'll allow
her to do some damage from a distance. Actually, her gambits are
mainly decorative. You'll mostly have to control her yourself. This is
perhaps the most important handicap in this Hunt, you lack proper
gambits to fight effectively. You will have to micromanage all the
time if you don't want things getting out of hand. Also, you might
want to consider purchasing some more Orrachea Armlets (they are
cheap) and equip them with everyone. Save at the crystal and prepare
to be annoyed.

The first thing you can do once you enter Giza's North Bank, is
wait. Just sit next to the crossing line with just Vaan and wait until
his Protect wears of and he recasts. The reason for this is that the
Cluckatrice spawns with Haste and Protect, so if you wait they will
wear off. Then move forward.

You'll see one of the Chickatrices. Go near it but do not provoke it
yet and keep your eyes towards the east. Eventually you'll see the
Cluckatrice coming towards you. Flee back to the crossing line and
once Cluckatrice starts getting near, bring in Balthier and Fran. Have
Balthier and Vaan attack and Fran cast Disable on the Cluckatrice (not
the Chickatrices) manually and take control of Fran. Keep manually
casting Disable on the Cluckatrice until it hits her and have Fran
moving constantly, preferably away from the enemies (Chickatrices will
start entering the battle too). I assume only Fran has the LP to use
Disable. You can possibly equip it with everyone and try your
chances. This will balance out your MP consumption a bit, but since
all other characters will have considerably less Magic than Fran, you
will mostly be wasting turns and MP (plus you stay in character. Magic
is for mages). Using just Fran, you will only have 2-3 casts before
her MP runs out (Disable costs 16 MP). If by then the Cluckatrice is
still unaffected, it's better to exit to the Nomad Village, touch the
save crystal and try again (that's why it's important to stay close to
the crossing line) instead of wasting an Ether right from the
beginning. Once you re-enter Giza's North Bank, the Cluckatrice and co
will respawn with full HP and buffs as before. You don't have to clear
the area again. However, if you save and reload, you will have to kill
the foes again to make the Cluckatrice reappear.

This battle depends on your ability to maintain Disable on the
Cluckatrice. She is a menace. If you give her the chance to move, she
will start using Mucus, inflict you with Slow and then it's game
over. It is thus important to have Disable hit as soon as possible
(preferably on your first attempt) in order for you to have a good
fighting chance. The Chickatrices are also susceptible to Disable, but
you shouldn't worry about them much. With the Traveler's Vestment on,
Fran will sustain less than 10 HP damage per hit from the
Chickatrices. So once you have the Cluckatrice disabled, start
attacking her with Fran (manually), so the others will follow. Vaan
will hopefully draw the Chickatrices towards him and administer
Potions when needed, while Fran and Balthier will stay at a distance
and fire at the Cluckatrice from there. In practice, it's very hard to
keep everyone focused on Vaan, so tanking is very problematic in this
case. Keep Fran on the move to gain MP and monitor the
Cluckatrice. Once Disable wears off, if you don't have the 16 MP
needed to recast, use an Ether.

Normally, by the time Disable wears off, Balthier and Vaan will have
inflicted her with Silence. If so, wait for her to use Purify (removes
status ailments), then cast Disable again, otherwise you risk having
your freshly applied Disable being washed off. Silent Shot is pretty
useful here, because every time you inflict the Cluckatrice with
something, she will waste time using Purify, which will give you time
while you gain MP/use Ether to recast Disable. Continue this way and
if someone dies, bring out Basch to do some fighting and use a Phoenix
Down +Hi-Potion to revive and heal the K.O.d character while in
reserve (use R1 to target reserve characters with healing items). His
healing gambit will help keep the team going in case Vaan dies, until
you resurrect him. When the Cluckatrice goes critical, she will resist
your attacks. Have Fran use whatever Motes you have on her (especially
Holy Motes) and pray she falls soon.

Once the Cluckatrice is dead, it's not over yet. You have to take care
of the Chickatrices. These do not pose a serious threat now that their
mother is gone, so only bother to hit them with Disable if you happen
to have the MP (and certainly don't use any more Ethers). Concentrate
your fire on one of them until it falls, then continue to the
next. The Hunt won't be over until all 3 of them are dead.

There is always the question of whether it's better to engage the
Cluckatrice first, or her little ones. I tend to get mixed results in
my runs, but I'd say killing the Cluckatrice first is less MP
intensive (should save you a few Ethers) but more demanding in Potions
(since you are getting damage constantly). If you start killing the
little ones, the battle gets progressively easier and you get less
damage, PROVIDED you manage to cast Disable successfully over and
over. This makes the process rather unstable, since if you enter some
long string of failed attempts at disabling the Cluckatrice late in
the battle, when your team will mostly be in bad shape, you risk
losing altogether.

If you have invested in better weapons and have things like the
Cypress Pole and Heavy Lance at your disposal, the fight will be a lot
quicker and straightforward. Have Vaan with the Heavy Lance, Balthier
with the Cypress Pole and when Fran manages to disable the
Cluckatrice, switch her for Basch with his best weapon available
(Javelin or Heavy Lance, if you got two of them from Fideliant) and
attack her relentlessly. Use your Motes too and with a little luck,
you shouldn't bother to cast Disable again. Then kill the little ones,
with these weapons they will fall very fast and you should hardly need
more than about 10 Potions for the entire battle.

Now if you want this to really hurt, you can try tackling the Hunt
with Fran wearing only the Topkapi Hat and Killimweave Shirt from the
armour shop. This is going to be difficult because 1) her Magic stat
will be lower, so it will be harder to successfully cast Disable, 2)
she will get targeted CONSTANTLY (these guys probably have some Foe:
lowest max HP -> Attack kind of gambit and Fran will have the least HP
in your team. By the way, even if you do configure your characters
such that Fran isn't the one with the lowest max HP, she will still be
targeted, no matter how far away she stands. There is no way around
it.) and because the Killimweave Shirt only has 8 Defence, even the
Chickatrices will do about 20-25 damage per hit, which really adds
up. It may even be a good idea to try and cast Blind on them once the
Cluckatrice is disabled to mitigate their damage a little. Buy an
Orrachea Armlet and equip it on Fran and cast Protect at the beginning
of the battle. Actually, buying the HP+50 licence for everybody would
be a pretty good idea, if you haven't already. If you can't get
Disable on the Cluckatrice fast, Fran is as good as dead. Do not spare
your Ethers whenever her MP goes down and it's a good idea to spend
some money on Hi-Potions too. Mid-battle, when your team's HP will
have lowered considerably, switch Vaan to throw Hi-Potions instead of
Potions, this may give you a chance until Fran manages to cast
Disable, then switch to Potions again. Use all Motes you have on the
Cluckatrice and hope for the best. You'll most probably consume all
your Potions, Hi-Potions and Ethers before this is over. I really
don't think it's worth it. With the time you'll spend on failed
attempts you could have easily gotten the Braid Wools from Greeden and
bought the Traveler's Garb, which is also good for the rest of the
game.

By far the easiest and least expensive strategy at this point though,
is using Quickenings. Even if you use them as just one part of your
overall strategy, Quickenings will make this a lot simpler and
easier. There is a question of who should get the Quickening
licence. I vote for Basch. He's got the LP to burn at the moment and
the least MP of all your characters, so if you use an Ether with him
he will get one Myst Charge immediately (Ethers give 50 MP if you
don't have any Ether Lore licences) and be ready to initiate a second
Quickening Chain.

Now it's mostly a question of how lucky you get with your Quickening
Chains. Once you enter Giza's North Bank, have Basch (or whoever gets
the Quickening license) approach the closest Chickatrice and initiate
a Quickening chain. If you have the Sallet and Scale Armour on him (to
increase his Strength, since Quickening damage depends on it) and
manage to get the Inferno Concurrence, you should be able to one-hit
kill it without drawing the Cluckatrice's attention. Then pump an
Ether, move to the north (avoid the central part of this area, where
the Cluckatrice usually appears) and you will likely run into a second
Chickatrice. Do the same and with a little bit of luck, you'll have
disposed of 2 out of the 4 enemies without getting any
damage. Eventually you will face the Cluckatrice and any remaining of
the little ones. Start battling as usual (try to inflict Disable and
all) and when you feel like it, hit her with a Quickening Chain. If
you can get a Concurrence, it will also do good splash damage on the
Chickatrices. You can also start depleting the Cluckatrice's HP, then
once it's low enough and she starts resisting your attacks, hit her
with Quickenings to finish her off. Bear in mind that even if you are
lucky, the Cluckatrice has enough HP to take 3 or more Inferno's to
kill her, so just using Quickenings against her may be
counter-productive, especially if you lack the necessary Ethers.

Many consider Quickenings cheap and indeed they are, in the sense that
they cost hardly any gil at all :). Notice that especially for this
Hunt, all you need to do is have some Ethers and spend a minimal
amount of gil and LP to buy and equip better armour. You don't need
fancy weapons, Bazaar items or tons of disposable healing items. Since
Quickenings have no charge time and deal potentially massive damage,
you can make this battle a lot shorter, exposing you to less damage
and requiring much less healing. So yeah, Quickenings are cheap in
terms of gil. Not only do they cost nothing other than MP, they also
save you all the gil and LP required to obtain high-powered
weapons. Surely they aren't meant to be used to deal with ordinary
foes, but when it comes to Hunts and boss fights, they can really be
the way to go, especially if your team is underlevelled. The fact that
they ignore Defences (and many bosses and Hunts will dramatically
boost their Defence when they go critical) means you will possibly end
up using them as finishing blows, even if you prefer to play
strategically. Also, with a little bit of effort you will be able to
buy Ethers very soon and at a pretty low price (222 each), so you can
stock up on them and whenever a boss or Hunt comes along, spam him
with Quickenings until he drops. With only 21978 gil you can
essentially march through half the game's bosses (including the
optional ones) and hardly spend a gil on buying better weapons. Of
course, you take a lot of the fun out of the game this way, but there
are cases that simply beg you to use them. I didn't hear anyone
whining about using Limit Breaks against Omega Weapon in FFVIII, so
why shouldn't you use your Quickenings if they can be of help? By the
way, they are no silver bullet. For some of the hardest bosses in this
game, Quickenings are nearly useless, including some of the big names,
like King Behemoth and Yiazmat. So don't worry, you'll get to fight
them fair and square.

After all this effort, you'd expect some good reward. Alas, the only
thing of interest here are the Jackboots, but it will take some time
until you use these. This is a given for the early Hunts. The main
reason to accept them (other than the fun factor) is that increasing
your Clan Ranking will soon give you the ability to buy some awesome
items, magic and accessories from the Clan Provisioner. In the
meantime, relish the fact you just defeated one of the most difficult
Hunts in the game, way earlier than you were supposed to.

Now we are ready to proceed with the story. If you did buy the Cypress
Pole from the Bazaar, make sure you get another 5 Water Stones before
leaving Rabanastre, we are going to need them later. It is also good
to do some shopping if you didn't get power equipment for the
Cluckatrice Hunt.  Buy the Buckler, Javelin, Silver Bow and Assassin's
Dagger, as well as a pair of Bronze Chestplates, a pair of Leather
Headgear, a Sallet and one Scale armour. Also, Kilimweave Shirt and
Topkapi Hat, if you didn't get the Traveler's Garb. Give Vaan the
licence to equip the Gauntlets you got from the Wraith Hunt and make
sure he has a total of 4 gambit slots. Set your gambits to the
following:

Vaan (Leader) 
Foe: HP=100% -> Steal 
Foe: nearest visible -> Attack
Self -> Protect Self -> Libra

Fran 
Allie: HP < 50% -> Cure 
Foe: party leader's target -> Attack

Balthier 
Allie: any -> First Aid 
Foe: party leader's target -> Attack

Basch 
Foe: party leader's target -> Attack 
Foe: nearest visible -> Attack

I would suggest using primarily Vaan, Balthier and Fran at this point,
with Basch as a backup. A good configuration before you leave
Rabanastre Rabanastre would be:

Fran: Silver Bow, Parallel Arrows, Feathered Cap, Traveler's Vestment,
Orrachea Armlet.  
Vaan: Assassin's Dagger, Buckler, Leather Headgear, Bronze Chestplate, 
Gauntlets. 
Balthier: Capella, Silent Shot, Leather Headgear, Bronze Chestplate, 
Orrachea Armlet.  
Bash: Javelin, Sallet, Scale Armour, Armguard (if you have it).

You can buy Orrachea Armlets from the Nomad Village on the Giza Plains
if you like. Also, give Vaan the HP+50 augment if you have the
LP. Basch should have a lot of spare LP, so make your way towards the
first Quickening licence, either by going through the Accessories-6
and Accessories-9 licences, or using the Axes-2 and Axes-3
path. Balthier will probably have load of LP at this point, but I
would advise you wait before you start spending in on augments. After
Raithwall's Tomb, we are going to use all this LP to unlock the Hermes
Sandals that will really make him a beast. You may want to alter you
configuration a little if you got the Heavy Lance and Cypress Pole,
but I prefer to use ranged weapons. Go to the west gate and enter the
Aerodrome. You will find Balthier waiting here. Talk to him and get
ready to fly.

====================== 
18. Bhujerba 
======================

After the cutscenes, you find yourself at the Aerodrome of
Bhujerba. Save at the teleport crystal and exit towards the
city. After another cutscene, Lamont joins as a guest. He also has an
unlimited stock of Potions, and will even use Hi-Potions if one of
your comrades goes critical. If you have money to throw away, you can
give them to the Cartographer's Guild Moogle (you'll find him in the
first junction ahead of you), but you really shouldn't. Even for the
Lhusu mines, you'll barely need it. Move south to the Technicks
shop. You can buy the Horology technick, which is really good at this
point to use with Vaan. It deals area damage dependent on the minute
counter of your clock time. If you use it with the counter at 8 or 9,
it can do some pretty serious damage, but if the counter is low it
isn't very useful. The nice thing is that during battle, you can just
open your menu (the clock is still ticking!), wait until the counter
goes to 7 or 8 and then return to battle and start using
Horology. Also, because the damage is fixed, it ignores all Defences
and is ideal to finish off bosses who tend to increase their Defence
at critical. Given how crappy most of the technicks in this game are,
Horology really is an exception.

Now proceed to the east, then north past the gambits shop. Save at the
crystal and enter the Lhusu mines.

====================== 
19. Lhusu Mines 
======================

After the cutscenes go north onto the tracks, then turn towards the
west. Steal and kill the Steelings, you can steal Teleport Stones from
them, which is always nice. Take the second of the two paths heading
south, then turn west into the next area.

If you have Libra on, you'll see a trap in front of you (the red
light-pillar thingy coming from the ground), don't step on it with any
of your characters (not just the leader). This is the reason for the
Libra gambit on Vaan. Always have it on, as you'll frequently
encounter traps of this sort from now on. Most of them will just hurt
you a bit, others will inflict status ailments. And a few of them will
actually heal you or give you MP (but you really don't want to take
the chance).

RARE GAME ALERT: Aerieel

This Steeling-like enemy has a 20% chance of spawing every time you
enter the Oltam Span. It is around level 12 and has about 3000 HP. If
you feel you are underlevelled or don't have the right equipment, just
flee. He is weak to Holy (obviously, we're in a mine after all). By
the way, he has the Golden Armour as a rare drop, so you can get one
if you get lucky.

Skeleton enemies spawn on the tracks in front of you, if you wish to
avoid them, take the stairs on the left or right of the platform and
move on into Transitway 1.

Follow the tracks to the north, there is a chance of a chest spawning
on your way with a small chance of containing a Killer Bow. Enter the
Shunia Twinspan. You can again take the stairs if you don't with to
fight the skeletons. If you wish to engage them, know that they spawn
constantly, so you may want to disable Vaan's steal gambit and go for
all out attack. Balthier's Silent Shot is also very helpful, for they
tend to hit you with magic. The nice thing is they tend to focus on
whoever is closest, so they will keep hitting Vaan and Lamont, while
Fran and Balthier stay intact. The Bone Fragments are the same loot
you got from Fideliant, so even if you didn't get the Cypress Pole
before, you can have it now. It is also a good source of gil and EXP,
so you might want to chain them for a while. They also have the pretty
good Iron Helm as a rare drop. When you feel satisfied, move north
towards Site 2.

Follow the tracks that leads south, follow it all the way until you
enter the excavation area, you'll find some chests here. Then if you
feel like fighting heal your team and move north.

----------------------------------------------- 
BOSS: Ba'Gamnan and company - HP: 3983 - LV: 12
-----------------------------------------------

This is an optional boss. Balthier will suggest you run back towards
the exit of the mine. Just keep R2 pressed as you run all the way back
to Shaft Entry (the very first area of the mines). Only then will
Ba'Gamnan and his gang stop the pursuit. You can then just exit the
mines.

However, should you choose to fight these guys, know that you only
have to kill Ba'Gamnan to win this, so the idea is to concentrate all
effort on him. The levels and HP are misleading, he hits like a truck
and the fact you are going against so many foes at the same time will
only aggravate things. But there is a sure-fire way of defeating him
and that is Quickenings. Bring in Basch and use a Quickening right
away. If you just get the Inferno Concurrence, he is as good as
dead. Ba'Gamnan is also weak to Water, so use any Water Motes you may
have if all else fails.

Whatever you choose to do, after returning to the Shaft Entry exit the
mines for another cutscene.

====================== 
20. Bhujerba 
======================

Head to the save crystal and another cutscene occurs. You now have to
go through a silly little sidequest. You basically go around
shouting. The best way to get through this is to find the various
guides that are spread throughout the city and make your show when
near them. Be careful though of the guards, if you shout within range
of them, you lose points. Once you get 100%, a series of cutscenes
will follow. Once all is said and done, check the Notice Board and
accept the Nidhogg Hunt. It's time for some more hunting!

=============================== 
OPTIONAL: Marauder in the Mines
Nidhogg (Rank I) 
HP: 6079 - LV: 10 
===============================

If you completed Cluckatrice, this will be a walk in the park. You
will find him once you enter Transitway 1 in the Lhusu Mines. He will
spawn with Protect on, so wait for it to wear of. In the mean time,
there will be a Steeling next to it, try to lure it towards you
without Nidhogg noticing it and kill it so it won't interfere with the
rest of the battle. Then engage with Vaan and have Fran casting
manually Blind (equip her with the Oak Staff while she does that)
until it connects. After that you can also try inflicting Slow, but it
won't make that much of a difference. Set everyone's attack gambits to
attack the nearest foe and take control of Fran and Balthier to keep
them away from Nidhogg (they will both now use their ranged
weapons). Nidhogg is programmed to attack the nearest enemy, so it
will only hit Vaan. Make sure you equip him with the Tourmaline Ring,
as Nidhogg's physical attacks can inflict Poison. Close Vaan's steal
gambit and set his Protect gambit above attack, you want to keep him
under Protect for this battle. Meanwhile, Fran should do the healing,
as she has considerable magic power by now. If her MP is low, use the
Charge technick to gain some.

When Nidhogg goes critical it will resist your attacks and start
comboing like mad. Thankfully, since it's under Blind it will mostly
miss. It will also use Tail Spear, which will deal a lot of damage, so
make sure you keep Vaan as healthy as possible at all times in
anticipation of it and if needed, administer a few Potions
manually. To finish it off you can bring in Basch to use a Quickening
Chain, or if you have it, use Horology when the time is optimal. He
isn't that hard. And you get some very good rewards for once. The Rose
Corsage will be very useful with your mages against enemies that cast
Silence, while the Balaclava is an excellent light armour, make sure
you equip Vaan with it. And don't sell that Serpent Skin you got. We
will be needing this for another sidequest later.

=============================== 
OPTIONAL: The Cry of Its Power
Rocktoise (Rank I) 
HP: 17548 - LV: 16 
===============================

From the fact that this is an Elite Mark, you must have realized it is
going to be considerably harder to beat than Nidhogg. Fear not though,
he isn't even remotely as dangerous as the Cluckatrice was, if you
know what you're doing. There are all sorts of trick you can use to
make this one pretty easy, even boring.

Run all the way into the Lhusu Mines, to the place where you
encountered Ba'Gamnan. By the way, if you accidentally happened to get
the Killer Bow from the chest on the tracks, run back and save, you
just got very lucky (if you think you don't care about ranged weapons,
think again. You will be pitted against a flying boss, as well as a
flying Hunt very soon and the Killer Bow will come in handy). Then
return for Rocktoise. There will be a couple of skeletons in the
antechamber where the chests were before and you will also find one
spawning in the tunnel that leads to Rocktoise's chamber. Kill it,
then stop to heal and prepare for the Hunt.

Rocktoise is essentially a 2 men operation, there is really no need
for a third member. This will make the battle more prolonged, but it
is a sure-fire method with little to no risk. The main attacker is
Balthier. You should equip him with the Capella, Silent Shot, your
newly acquired Balaclava and his light armour. Most importantly, give
him the Goddess's Magicite. With this setup, he will have 25 Magic
Defence. The second character is Fran, who will act as backup
healer. She should have her previous setup and the Oak Staff
equipped. Put a healing gambit for Ally: HP<70% -> Cure and close any
attack gambits she may have. Balthier should only have a Foe: nearest
visible -> Attack gambit and nothing more. Now take control of
Balthier and approach the chamber.

You will see the big Turtle standing there. You do not want to venture
deep into the chamber. There are skeletons awaiting for you to trip on
them and spawn. Also, the Rocktoise has some really powerful physical
attacks that require constant healing to withstand. He can also cause
Slow and use Flash to blind you. You really don't want any of that. In
fact, this is one of the first boss fights where you can take
advantage of the terrain of the battlefield. Get close enough to him
to just get his attention, then have him chase Balthier until the
entrance of the chamber (he is very slow moving, being a turtle and
all). Once you are away from him (near the entrance), put Fran in the
back, take again control of Balthier and start sniping him from there.
 
Now Balthier, if left unattended, will start moving around as he
shoots and may accidentally spawn some more nasty skeletons (you don't
want any of that either). So make sure you control him all the time,
not allowing him to move away from the entrance of the chamber. Now,
because the Rocktoise is a slow fat-ass, he can't fit into the tunnel
and will not chase you there. He will only stand in front of you,
start wobbling as if he's about to throw up and hit you the only way
he can, which is with pathetic level 1 spells (Fire, Thunder,
Blizzard). He will only attack Balthier and with his huge Magic
Defence, they will do less than 10 HP damage.

The only other spell he'll use is Dark. This can be a little more
powerful and since it is an area spell, it will also hit Fran, who
isn't as protected as Balthier. The way to counteract this is to
monitor the messages about his upcoming actions and once you see the
Rocktoise charging Dark, immediately have Balthier pull back into the
tunnel (do not flee, just move the character) until you are out of
range (you won't be able to see his HP bar). The Rocktoise will keep
targeting you (the names of Fran and Balthier will be red) and you'll
see him light up like a Christmas tree as he charges Dark, but since
you're out of range, he can't do much. Just stay in the tunnel until
his action gets cancelled (it takes 15-20 seconds), then head back to
hurt him some more.

The reason you don't want to flee, is that you must keep targeting
him, even if you can't deliver the blow. This is a general rule for
all Hunts, so pay attention, we're gonna be using this technique a
lot. If you do not target them for long, they will start regaining
their lost HP VERY fast (much faster than Regen). In many cases, you
just have to stay away from the Hunt for some time, in order to avoid
some powerful attack (like Dark in this case) or to heal your team and
resurrect fallen comrades. When you stay at a distance, you have to
make sure at least one of your characters keeps targeting the
Hunt. Just as for the Rocktoise, your commands too get canceled after
a while if you stay away for long and don't deliver the blow. So when
you are away, you should periodically reissue the attack commands
before they get canceled. You can do this by having Balthier step a
little closer to the Hunt, just enough so that his HP bar shows
up. You can now target him, but you cannot hit him yet (and he can't
hit you). Just choose attack again, move back and wait for his Dark to
get canceled before you re-engage. That way the foe's command gets
canceled before yours expires and he will do no healing at all.

The new trick in this battle and a recurring theme in many subsequent
Hunts and bosses, is the Return Damage. Whenever Balthier finds his
mark, he loses a portion of his HP equal to a small percentage of the
damage he deals. This is why you need Fran on standby, since if you
leave him like that for long, he may be K.O.d even due to Return
Damage alone. But even with that, the damage you will receive is
minimal and directed only towards one party member. If Fran gets low
on MP, use Charge, it should be more than enough. Alternatively, if
you purchased the Reflect spell, have Fran cast it on both, you then
only have to worry about Return Damage and use a couple of Potions to
heal from that.

Because you are using the Silent Shot, you will regularly inflict the
target with Silence, which means he can't even hit you with
spells. Unfortunately he will immediately use the Purify ability to
remove the status, much like Cluckatrice, but every time he does that
he essentially loses a turn and you don't get hit by magic at
all. Normally, debuffs stick on him and he won't use Purify, if you
engage him at close range with melee weapons. Surprisingly, when the
Rocktoise goes critical, he won't increase his Defence. So you just
deplete his HP (which seems astronomical at this point), slowly but
constantly. Eventually he will just fall. Yeah, he is that easy. This
Hunt will make you appreciate ranged weapons for good. Now get back to
the petitioner to get your Heavy Coat (equip it with Vaan). Notice you
didn't have to waste a single item!
  
Visit the shops to buy new spells and equipment if you like (Reflect
is a great spell at this point). When you're ready, get to the X on
your map and speak to the guards.

========================= 
21. Dreadnought Leviathan
=========================

Vossler joins the team as a guest. He is a force to be reckoned with
and will deal major damage, even if your weapons suck. You also get a
map of this place. Save at the crystal (at a different memory slot, as
advised) and check your map. The X is where you want to go. There are
two ways, one long, one short. The long one has a couple of chests
with good treasures, although it's not guarantied you'll get them, so
it's up to you. Bear in mind this dungeon is relatively short, but
dangerous. You will be routinely ambushed by several foes at once and
it can get pretty bad. If you followed my advice and purchased good
armour in Rabanastre, you shouldn't run into serious trouble. Also, I
suggest you close Vaan's stealing gambit, since you'll mostly get
crap. Just kill whatever you find and move on.

Once you exit the Port Launch area, you get a tutorial about laser
activated alerts. Bottom line, don't cross the red beams, or you'll
sound the alarm and get ambushed for a while (it eventually
stops). The easiest way of getting to your destination is through the
Port Section -> Large Freight Stores areas to get to Airship Berth
Access. The long way is to go from the Large Freight Stores to
Starboard Section, then Sub-control Room. You can find a chest in
Starboard Section containing (possibly) a Killer Bow, while in the
Sub-control Room there are two chests. One can give you the Assassin's
Dagger, the other the Ancient Sword. If you're not interested, take
the shorter route. In the southwest of Port Section you can get either
a Reflectga Mote or Handaxe.

Note that all these chests are trapped. They spawn at recesses that
look safe, but once you enter them to claim the treasure, laser beams
will activate and you can only get out by triggering the alarm. If you
want to avoid this, when you are about to open a chest put all your
characters in reserve (except Vossler) and have your team leader
running towards the chest, open it right away, then run as fast as you
can.

Once you reach Airship Berth Access, head towards the door that leads
to the gray room in the middle (from the north). You may be forced to
activate an alarm, deal with it. Heal before you enter the room and
stroll to regain MP, as a boss fight awaits you in there.

Focus your attacks on the two Judges, as the fight will end if you
kill them. Since you're going against 5 enemies concurrently and
there's no reliable way of targeting the ones you want, you should
better take control and issue commands yourself. Have Fran (and
possibly Vaan too) cast Blind on them.  There is also one rather
annoying mage-type imperial soldier that will cast spells like Blind
against you. If you have the time, have Balthier manually targeting
him with the Silent Shot, so you may Silence him. Once he is silenced
(or dead, the soldiers have about 500 HP, so they won't last long),
concentrate all fire on the Judges. They fall pretty fast.

After the battle, check the room on the right. In one of the chambers
you'll find Ashe, who will finally join the party for good. Another
contains a save crystal and an Urn with the System Access key. On the
other side you'll find a Moogle you can buy items and equipment from.

Now you have to return to Port Launch. Alarms will sound all the time,
so just flee towards where you came from, there is no point in
fighting. Use your minimap to navigate more efficiently. When you
reach Large Freight Stores, you can use the terminal on your left to
punch in a code that will shut off the alarm for 60 seconds. In the
center square area of the Port Section, Penelo becomes the last member
to join the party. Your team is now complete. You may want to take
some time to give licences to Ashe and Penelo. Penelo will have the
most LP, so I would suggest you turn her into a mage and give her all
the spell licences, mystic armour (similar to what Fran has) and as
many Quickening licenses as you can, so she'll have the MP to burn (3
Myst Charges would be ideal). The most efficient way is giving her the
Quickening licence next to Black Magic-3 and the one above Black
Magic-5. The third should probably be at the lower end of the Licence
Board, bellow Maces-3. On your way there, give her the Staves-1 and
Maces-1 licences, they will be useful. Once you get there, heal and
replenish your MP (Charge+stroll). The upcoming boss fight is
(potentially) hard and there in no save point.

------------------------------------ 
BOSS: Judge Ghis - HP: 4120 - LV: 14 
------------------------------------

If you want to make your life hard, you should try to inflict the
Judge with Slow. He hits very hard and combos often, so Slow is your
only real defence against him (he is immune to Blind). Make sure it
connects. Then have one of your mages (Fran or Penelo) cast Blind on
the other soldiers, while the others attack them. Use some Potions if
you need them. Kill the soldiers one by one and then take on Judge
Ghis. But assuming you gave Penelo her Quickening licenses (and you
probably already have one on Basch) you can just throw a Concurrence
and it will be over in a heartbeat. You don't even have to kill the
guy to win the battle, just bring him below 25% HP and it's over. One
Inferno will be more than enough and you can probably do much better
than that.

========================= 
22. Bhujerba 
=========================

Your exit from Dreadnought Leviathan and return to Bhujerba
essentially marks the end of the first section of the game and the
beginning of the so-called mid-game, which includes all the events
from now until you reach Balfonheim. This encompasses a huge territory
of exploration (probably the majority of explorable places in the game
become available during the mid-game) as well as sidequests and
optional content. During the mid-game, your permanent team is
essentially assembled (modulo the odd guest member) and your choices
as to the roles and abilities each gets will affect your gameplay
significantly, since there are still severe limitations in terms of
levels and LP that will hinter you unless you utilise all your
resources wisely. I believe this is also the most interesting and
engaging part of the game. Before this point, you do not have full
access to all your party members (and your gambits are most
problematic), or clear roles for them. And once you reach the endgame,
you will have the LP and EXP to burn, to the point where strategic
choices become more of an afterthought. But right now configuring your
team properly will make a hell of a difference in the way you play
this game for the next several hours.

You find yourself in the Aerodome. First, visit the shops to buy some
great new spells: Sleep, Oil, Raise and Cura. You can also buy the
Souleater technick and give the licence to Basch, but I am not a big
fun of that. What it basically does is that it boosts your attack by
50% and renders it Dark-elemental, in exchange for a chunk of your HP,
but it is kind of slow and Basch is more useful when he can hit
fast. There is nothing new in terms of weapons, and don't buy any of
the armour. There is better stuff in Rabanastre and we will be
visiting right away. Don't worry about your new team members, Ashe
will be using the same equipment as Vaan (she will be our backup
leader/thief/tank, you probably want to configure her Licence Board to
mirror Vaan's), so you can exchange your light armour between the two
and Fran and Penelo will share their mystic armour. When you're ready,
head towards the X on the map and talk to the same guards as before.

========================= 
23. Dalmasca Westersand
=========================

We are now supposed to head west towards the Ogir-Yensa (the road was
previously blocked by a couple of guards). But first, we want to make
sure we are prepared for our long trek until Raithwall's Tomb. There's
also a Hunt you can do later in the Nam-Yensa, so we should return to
Rabanastre first and accept it (the petitioner is there). Either use
the teleport crystal or traverse the Westersand on foot.

When you reach Rabanastre, go to the Magic shop and get the Berserk
spell. This is absolutely imperative. Get it and make sure your mages
(Fran and Penelo) can cast it. Unlike previews games in the series,
Berserk is a big deal in FFXII. Under Berserk, you deal 50% more
damage and your ATB gauge fills 50% faster. So just keep Berserk on
your DPS character and he will be a lean mean killing machine.

Visit the armour shop and buy the Barbut and Linen Cuirass for Basch,
the Round Shield for Vaan and (optionally) a Windbreaker for
Balthier. Also, if you have the gil, get the Hand Axe for Basch, if
you didn't get one on the Leviathan and also the Cherry Staff (it will
always be of help throughout the game, as it increases Air damage by
50%). Don't buy the Vega, we will get it anyway soon through the
Bazaar, along with Water Shot. By the way, you can now buy the Cypress
Pole if you don't have it, so in case you haven't done the Cluckatrice
Hunt yet, get three of these and wipe her out, it should be easy. If
you lack gil, you can sell some of your lower level weapons and
armour. Also remember to visit Montblanc, he will give you some stuff
if you did the two Hunts in Bhujerba. Being a prominent figure of the
community in Rabanastre, Montblanc won't publicly endorse your
activities against the Arcadian Empire, so unfortunately you get no
rewards whenever the boss you defeat is a Judge.

Of the new technicks available, Traveler and Numerology are
essentially crap. Traveler is insanely difficult and time-consuming to
set up to do good damage and Numerology, although potentially
devastating, is random as hell and WON'T WORK AGAINST BOSSES AND
HUNTS. Enough said.

After all these, go to the Sandsea to read the Notice Board and accept
the new Hunt (if you wish), for you'll find the mark on the way to
Raithwall's Tomb.

The next thing we want, is a good wind-elemental weapon, because on
the way to the west we'll be fighting a lot of Urutan-Yensas and
Alraunes, all of which are weak to Wind. Enter the Glaudius! We can
get it pretty easily now from the Lindbur Wolf in the Westersand (see
the section Westersand Farming). The idea is to have Penelo with the
Cherry Staff and just a healing gambit of the form Ally: HP<50% ->
Cura and setup Vaan and Basch (give Basch his new armour, the Handaxe
and the Buckler) to just steal. Then enter the area where the Lindbur
Wolf spawns, get rid of the other two wolves there and have Vaan and
Basch trying to steal from him, while Penelo stays at a great distance
and monitors the battle, casting Cura when needed. It takes a lot of
attempts (this always happens with rare games, especially if you don't
have the Thief's Cuffs) but normally you should have no trouble
getting your Glaudius after a while. Once you do, flee the area, equip
it with Vaan and save your game.

Finally, you may want to get a couple of Water Motes from the
Westersand, as we will soon be facing Belias, our first Esper, who is
weak to Water. This is really optional, since you already have the
Water spell and we will also buy the Water Shot for Balthier before we
reach Belias. Also, you may want to get one Hastega Mote (see the
section Westersand Farming), if you plan on tackling a really hard
(but optional) boss at Raithwall's Tomb. Again, it isn't a
prerequisite, but it can only help. After all these preparations, you
can now traverse the Westersand again and head west towards
Ogir-Yensa.

========================= 
24. Ogir-Yensa Sandsea
=========================
 
After the cutscenes, climb the platform. Steal from all the Alraunes,
as you may get the Mace for Penelo. Basch will probably be a few
levels behind the rest of the crew, so use him along with Vaan and
Penelo. The latter should have a healing gambit Ally: HP<50% -> Cure
and a simple attack gambit. Give her the Cherry Staff if you don't
have the Mace yet, as well as the Orrachea Armlet. Basch will deal
good damage with his new Handaxe and heavy armour. If you also got a
Battle Harness, put it on.

From now on you should try rotating between the characters of your
group in order to maintain level parity. The only possible exception
to the rule is Penelo, since she will soon be our summoner and will
end up doing a lot of solo fighting along with her Espers, so a few
levels more will give her more HP and better survivability.

When you enter the next area (Platform 1 - Refinery), Vossler will
rejoin as a guest (hurray!).

RARE GAME ALERT: Pineapple

Pineapple is a bomb-like enemy with a 20% chance to appear whenever
you enter Platform 1 - Refinery. You can get the Storm Staff from it
(increases ice-elemental spells by 50%). It is level 16 and has about
5000 HP.

Descend the platform and kill the Urutan-Yensas there. Switch off
Vaan's steal gambit, they are better to chain (you can get Teleport
Stones and Phoenix Downs as drops from them). Climb the west platform
to find an Urn with the map of Ogir-Yensa, then go north.

The fastest way towards your destination is through Platform 1 - South
Tanks -> South Tank Approach -> Yensa Border Tunnel. The two blue
arrows in the middle of the map are entrances to new areas of the
Zertinan Caverns, so better stay away, it's a nasty place for
now. Also know that should you choose to follow another path, you may
run into a Salamand Entite. This has the shape of a pulsing yellow
ball and usually appears in Primary Tank Complex or the Central
Junction when the weather is clear. It won't show up on your
minimap. Salamand Entite is benign, but it will aggro if you cast
magic anywhere near it (even healing spells or Protect). It will then
start casting things like Silencega and Sleepga, as well as Fear (that
reduces your MP to zero) and then hammer you with unreflectable Firaga
that will wipe you out in a matter of seconds, so stay away. Just so
you know, it's level 45 and has over 48000 HP, along with the Return
Damage ability. If you feel suicidal, give it a try.

The Salamand Entite though gives you the chance to obtain one of the
most powerful weapons about now! You have to steal from it a Salamand
Halcyon (rare steal), and also manage to obtain 2 Wyvern Wings from
the Wyvern Lord (the Hunt you accepted back in Rabanastre). From
bitter experience, this is an exercise in futility, as Salamand
Halcyon is notoriously hard to obtain. Even if you have late-game
levels, it can take hours until you get one. The upside with Entites
in general is that you only have to zone out once to make them
reappear and they will carry new loot. Unfortunately, Salamand will
not always respawn, so it may take a few attempts until it shows up
again. Bear in mind that stealing from the Wyvern Lord is also very
time consuming. If you manage to collect all this ridiculously rare
loot (along with 2 Yensa Fins, which are relatively easy to find), you
can unlock in the Bazaar the Arcturus, the second best Gun in the
game. Armed with that, Balthier can annihilate almost anything in your
way right now. But the amount of time it takes really isn't worth it,
especially if you consider that within 30 min to an hour you'll have
access to even better endgame level weapons with much less hassle.

At the Yensa Border Tunnel, save at the teleport crystal and buy at
least one Sash and equip it to your party leader, if you also have
other melee fighters (Basch and Penelo) use one with them as well. The
Urutan-Yensas in Nam-Yensa will hit you with Slow very
often. Alternatively, keep Shell on your party leader, this will
reduce the chance of status ailments attacks landing.

========================= 
25. Nam-Yensa Sandsea
=========================

To the west of the first area of Nam-Yensa there is a small
island-like formation with bridges leading to it. You'll see an Urn
there, which contains the map of Nam-Yensa. Once you cross the bridge,
the fish-like Yensa enemy will spawn (there are two spawning at this
place). Steal before you kill it, as we need 2 Yensa Scales. If you
don't get it, zone back twice through the Yensa Border Tunnel and try
again. When you have the 2 Yensa Scales, return to the merchant near
the teleport crystal and sell them to him. The Vega+Water Shot combo
will be unlocked in the Bazaar, provided you also sold the 5 Water
Stones and 3 Green Liquids. Give it to Balthier, then head north to
the Sandscale Bank (through the Withering Shores and the Urutan-Yensa
Sea) for a small sidequest that can give you a strategical advantage
in an upcoming boss fight. There is no real need for that, but it
won't hurt your chances either (and who doesn't like sidequests
anyway?).

You will find a save crystal. Talk to the Moogle nearby, save your
game and head back to the Withering Shores. You find the Urutan-Yensas
fighting the Urutan-Eater, a big turtle-like enemy.  Sit back for a
while and wait for the Urutans to do whatever damage they can. In the
mean time, make yourself useful by closing your healing gambits and
killing Vossler. When all the Urutans are dead, bring in Penelo and
any other two characters. Switch off gambits for the latter and give
Penelo the gambits:

Allie: any -> Reflect Self -> Dark

Now stay at a small distance from the Urutan-Eater and activate
Penelo's gambits. Make sure she has the Cherry Staff. The situation is
the same with the Rocktoise. If you don't go near him, he will only
cast level 1 spells against you, which will bounce back on him, while
you do in excess of 1000 HP damage per Dark cast, since it gets
reflected 3 times. Given that the Urutan-Eater only has about 8000 HP
and probably lost about 1000 from the Urutans, he will go down very
fast.

Return to the Sandscale Bank and talk to the Moogle again. Then exit
this area to the east. Attempt to climb to the platform there and a
cutscene will occur. Then return to Sandscale Bank for another
cutscene. Pick up the Eksir Berries by examining the flower near the
Moogle. This is the item we want. Save and start your way towards the
west again.

In the middle of the Yellow Sands area (before you cross the bridge),
a couple of chests spawn, one of which has a good chance of giving you
the Killer Bow, in case you didn't buy it in Rabanastre. Remember,
both Wyvern Lord and the upcoming Garuda (the boss we are about to
face) are flying enemies, so you need ranged weapons and magic to
defeat them. Make your way towards the northwest end of Trail of
Fading Warmth. You'll find the merchant there and you can buy the
Killer Bow if you didn't get it. Head towards the exit of the
Nam-Yensa. A message will appear that will prompt you to save your
game. After that you find yourself outside Raithwall's Tomb. You can
go straight ahead for the Garuda battle, or backtrack towards the
Nam-Yensa for a little hunting excursion...
 
======================================= 
OPTIONAL: A Scream from the Sky 
Wyvern Lord (Rank II) 
HP: 18669 - LV: 18
=======================================

Our first Rank II Hunt! You will find him flying over the northeast
part of Simoon Bluff in the Nam-Yensa. Clear the place of all the
Bagoly foes, heal your team and use your team leader (Vaan or Ashe) to
draw him near. Wyvern lord will spam Aero and other Wind-elemental
attacks, so equip the Windbreaker on your team leader (who is going to
tank) and equip him/her with the Manufactured Nethicite, that will
further decrease elemental damage by 50%. Have your mage cast Shell on
your party leader for maximum protection and possibly even on Vossler,
who is kind of a weak link here. With the Balaclava, Windbreaker and
Manufactured Nethicite, your tank will be very well protected. Put the
leader's attack gambit to use Horology and make sure you are past the
5 minute mark when you begin. Have Balthier with the Vega and Water
Shot and start the battle with Penelo as your mage (since she has the
most MP). Put Balthier under Berserk and once you engage the Hunt,
have her cast Blind manually on him, then Slow. Once both land, switch
her out for Fran and have her attack with her Bow, while she also has
a healing gambit for Allie: HP<50% -> Cure and a gambit of the form
Ally:Vaan -> Shell (if Vaan is your leader, change it accordingly).

Put everyone in reserve except your leader and move close to the
Wyvern Lord. That way you'll make it more probable it will pick him as
a target. Vossler has the Telekinesis technick, so he can hit the Hunt
even without a ranged weapon and because he is using the technick, he
will tend to move away from his target and avoid being hit by area
attacks like Aero, which the Wyvern Lord will use. Once the fight
commences, bring out Penelo, take control of her and move her away,
then bring out also Balthier and have Penelo trying to debuff the
target. Wyvern Lord will mostly focus on your leader, your party will
be spread out and then the only thing you have to do is keep your
leader healthy. With all the Defences you got, his attacks will do no
more than 100 per hit and with Slow on, they won't be a threat.

Now that the Wyvern Lord is gone, the really hard part begins. Going
back to Rabanastre to claim your reward! Flee back to the Yensa Border
Tunnel and use the teleport crystal. The Longbow you get is a marginal
improvement over the Killer Bow if you already had it, but the Magic
Shield is a thing to treasure throughout the game (it also sells for a
lot of gil right now. Don't be tempted!). These shields are rare and
very very useful. We will be putting it to good use real soon. Also,
now that you completed your 8th Hunt, your Clan Ranking has increased
and the Clan Provisioner sells teleportation stones, so you don't have
to worry about transport anymore.

If you check the Notice Board, you will see that three new Hunts are
now available (they become available once you defeat the Wyvern
Lord). Normally you wouldn't know until you completed Raithwall's
Tomb, but you can actually take these right now. All of them are very
hard and can only be dealt with if you use proper strategy and have a
lot of patience. They are doable, but you are actually supposed to do
these after Raithwall's Tomb, because you lack firepower. All three of
these have Belias written all over them and it would be a shame not to
put your newly acquired Esper to good use. He will make these very
very easier to complete. So it's better to postpone them for later. By
the way, some of them have great rewards in the form of very strong
weapons that if obtained, will render dealing with the bosses in the
Tomb a cakewalk (they are pretty easy anyway).

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: For Whom the Wyrm Tolls 
Ring Wyrm (Rank III) 
HP: 128648 - LV: 32
=======================================

Immediately after you defeat the Wyvern Lord, this Hunt becomes
available. The reward for completing it is very good, as you get the
Icebrand One-handed Sword, with a massive (at this point) 65 ATK and
Ice-elemental. This will cut through the bosses in the Tomb like warm
butter, but you first have to defeat the Ring Wyrm. Yeah, you read
right, this bad boy has almost 130000 HP! More than seven times the HP
of the Wyvern Lord! How are you supposed to deal with it?

Since this is one of the three Hunts you can do either before or after
the events at Raithwall's Tomb (the latter is advisable), I will
describe two strategies for defeating him, depending on when you
choose to fight him.

Pre-Raithwall Strategy: The surprising thing about this fight is that,
if played right, it will practically cost you next to nothing and will
land you the Icebrand anyway, so it's really good value for money. Out
of the three Hunts available at this point, this is by far the most
tractable and the one that won't require throwing the kitchen sink (in
terms of money), or abusing your character classes and Licence
Board. It can be done with what you already have. Believe it or not,
just like with the Rocktoise, less is more. In fact, it is much more
preferable fighting him solo! What it does require though, is an
insane amount of patience. With its astronomically high HP, this Hunt
is going to take a LONG time to defeat. And being solo won't help with
that either.

Enter the Windtrace Dunes. There must be a sandstorm for the Ring Wyrm
to appear, but I have the impression this almost always happens when
you have accepted the Hunt. If it doesn't, exit and re-enter the area
until you get a sandstorm. You will find him at the southwest part of
this area. Clear all enemies around him (including some annoying
Alraunes that seem to spawn out of the blue), you don't want anything
messing with you during this battle, as keeping your pace is
paramount. Now wait for his Protect to wear off and have Penelo
(mystic armour+Cherry Staff) try to inflict him with Blind. Get close
enough to cast, then flee back. This guy is very slow and won't follow
past a certain very confined region. Once you're out of range of his
physical attacks, he will either start charging level-2 Black Magic
spells (all reflectable), or his nasty Fireball attack. Now Fireball
is dangerous. It can deal oven 1000 damage and is a one-hit-kill move,
but you can block it (hopefully). If you stay away while he charges
one of these two attacks, you'll be fine. When he stops targeting you,
go near again and recast Blind.

Continue this way until you blind him, then switch Penelo for
Balthier. Set only one gambit to Foe: nearest visible -> Attack and
give him the Balaclava, Heavy Coat and the Manufactured Nethicite. The
latter will give him a chance to survive Fireball in case he gets hit,
as it will reduce the damage down to about 500 (as it is a
fire-elemental attack). For weapon, you need the newly acquired
Vega+Silent Shot. This is the counter-intuitive point of the foe:
You'd expect him to be weak to Water (Water is the opposite element of
Fire in FFXII, not Ice), but in fact, the Ring Wyrm is weak to Fire
and absorbs Water! So you can't use your Water Shot and you only gain
access to Wyrmfire Shot (Fire-elemental) after Raithwall's Tomb. By
the way, he is immune to Silence. Now the tricky part begins.

You'll notice a big round cactus next to where he is. It isn't just
decoration. The idea is to have the Hunt chase you around it, while
Balthier stops occasionally to snipe him. If you manage to set a good
pace and figure out how fast he's approaching and what distance should
you keep from him, you can go through the entire battle without
getting hit once! Being precise is important. Step too far away from
him and he will start charging spells or even worse, Fireball. Stay
too close and he will hit you with his physical attacks. Now these may
miss (because he's under Blind) and probably won't one-hit-kill you,
but you shouldn't count on that. Don't get hit, that should be your
goal. Otherwise you'll have to use Hi-Potions to heal and since this
battle is long, you'll end up spending a lot of gil this way. Done
properly, you can go through this fight without getting any damage.

Now once you first go near him, he will target you and either start
charging his area spells or Fireball, or his physical attack. If you
see the former coming, run away and try again, until you make him
chase you around the cactus without casting spells. Once you are
within range and moving around the cactus, the only other spell he
will use is Immobilizega, which can fuck you up, so once you are in
position and set a pace with the Ring Wyrm, switch your Manufactured
Nethicite for those Jackboots you got from that infernal Cluckatrice
(they were of use after all!) to gain immunity against it. You will
have several failed attempts before you figure out what your pace
should be, but don't be discouraged, it's not that hard. I suggest
saving at the teleport crystal nearby, so you can reload your game in
case you're not satisfied with the results. It takes some time, but
you'll get the hang of it eventually.

Once you're confident with this whole procedure, it's just you against
his massive HP. You'll be dealing about 250 per hit, which means you'd
need over 500 hits(!) to kill him. And that if he didn't use Restore
(he uses it once when he gets below 50% HP), which will give him back
a hefty chunk of his HP, so you realize you need a lot of patience to
get through this and be on your toes all the time. The good news is,
he won't use any weird change in his attack pattern or increase his
Defences when he goes critical. It's just the same drill all the way
until victory.

The other way of doing this, is attacking solely using
Quickenings. Just get near him with whatever characters have Myst
Charges and initiate a chain. Once this is done, move out of range,
have one of the characters manually attack him (so you prevent him
from gaining back HP), while the character with the least MP (Basch
most likely) uses Charge and strolls to gain his Myst Charge
back. Make sure you have closed your gambits and stay at enough a
distance from the Ring Wyrm so that his HP bar isn't visible,
otherwise the character that targets will start moving towards him
(and you certainly don't want that).

This is a general strategy for many Hunts, having one character
targeting while the others do reviving/healing/gain MP. You either
have to take control of the team leader (who does the targeting) and
keep him out of range (you will know when, he will stop trying to walk
towards his target) while the others only use healing/reviving gambits
and bring the team back into shape, or, when restoring MP is the goal,
have one character with closed gambits manually target, move out of
range, then bring out the character that needs the MP and take control
of him to stroll/Charge. Remember to periodically re-issue the attack
command, before it gets canceled.

When you have a Myst Charge ready, wait until Ring Wyrm stops
targeting you (make sure you keep targeting him without getting within
range), then move close and initiate the next Quickening Chain. It
will take several chains to eventually defeat him, but at least you
have an alternative in case you have trouble with the whole
run-around-the-cactus-guns-ablaze strategy. And just as before, you
waste no items and get zero damage :).

Probably the most efficient method is a combination of the two. If you
give Balthier a Quickening licence (you can give him the one next to
Accessories-14. It is also next to the Hermes Sandals licence, which
you want to give him eventually), as well as the Inquisitor licence
and Charge (Balthier is the character with the most spare LP, so you
should be able to get these licences by now), you can combine
Quickenings and ordinary attacks. After a Quickening Chain, keep
running around the cactus, but have Balthier manually use Charge two
times. If they are successful, you'll get enough MP back and by
running and firing you'll have a full Myst charge within the next
10-12 hits, so you are ready for another chain.

Post-Raithwall Strategy: Ah, what a wonderful opportunity to use
Belias! He can really tank like a pro in this one. This is probably
the first Hunt you'd want to take with your brand new Esper. Since
Ring Wyrm is weak to Fire, Belias's Fire-elemental attacks will deal
massive damage and deplete his HP very fast. Not only that, his
Fireball attack and Fira, as well as Flame Breath will heal Belias!
And his status spells will do nothing at all. So you're only left to
worry about Thundara, Blizzara and his physical attacks. The latter
are the most dangerous (Belias has good magic Defence, so he won't
have a problem with Thundara and Blizzara), make sure you use a mage
to blind him before you engage, so Belias has a better chance of
surviving for the duration of his summon time.

The idea is to just summon Belias and leave all the fighting and
tanking on him, while your summoner stays at safety distance and
continually uses Charge and strolls in order to gain a Myst Charge to
summon again. Don't bother healing Belias, between Fireball, Fira and
Flame Breath you have a good chance of Ring Wyrm doing your job for
you. You will occasionally get unlucky and have some combo of physical
attacks that levels Belias, but this will only be a
nuisance. Normally, by the time Belias uses Hellfire, you should have
gotten a Myst Charge and be ready for the next summon. Now if
something bad happens and the Esper dies or is dismissed after
Hellfire before you get back your Myst Charge (usually because Charge
missed), stay away, bring in another character with closed gambits to
target Ring Wyrn so he won't heal and keep charging and strolling with
your summoner until you have the MP to summon again. Continue in this
fashion until he falls. As with the other strategy, you wasted no
items and money and received no damage. See? Espers aren't that
useless after all!

Another thing you can do now you're done with Raithwall's Tomb is get
the Sirius Gun from Rabanastre and the Wyrmfire Shot from the Barheim
Key sidequest (see below). With these, you can try the same strategy
as pre-Raithwall, only with a better weapon and taking advantage of
the Ring Wyrm's weakness to Fire, which will render the whole
expedition considerably faster. If you want even faster results, give
Balthier the Adrenaline licence and have him fight at critical, which
will double his damage output. Since you can go through the entire
fight without being hit, fighting at critical isn't much of a risk.

Finally, if you visited the Mosphoran Highwaste and got 3 Ruby Rings,
equip these and have your team stand within range of the Ring Wyrm's
spells. All these Blizzara, Fira, Thundara the Ring Wyrm casts get
reflected. Fira will deal the most damage, since he is weak to it. So
this leaves only Fireball as a potential hazard. If it kills someone,
use Raise to revive him and don't bother healing (your HP won't matter
here anyway), or throw a Phoenix Down.

Along with the Icebrand you will also receive a Moon Ring. Sell it for
some good money and in time, it will help us unlock the Sagittarius,
the ultimate Bow in the game.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Lost in the Pudding
White Mousse (Rank V) 
HP: 69469 - LV: 35
=======================================

Although he boasts almost half the HP of Ring Wyrm, White Mousse is
considered a whopping rank V Hunt. The first thing that makes him a
challenge, is the battlefield itself. You will find him in the West
Sluice Control area of the Garamsythe Waterway, a place infested with
deadly Malboro Overking and Lizard enemies. You must first deal with
them, then tackle the Mousse. You cannot take advantage of the terrain
as you could with Ring Wyrm. He will follow you everywhere in this
area. You'll get hit and you will die. A lot. As before, two
strategies depending on when you choose to fight him.

Pre-Raithwall Strategy: You really have to empty your pockets and buy
as many Hi-Potions and Phoenix Downs as you can afford. 99 of each
would be a good idea. Buy some Alarm Clocks too. Sell everything you
can live without, or go loot farming (Alraunes are a good source of
gil right now). Also, buy the Warp spell and give it to both Penelo
and Fran. You also need another set of mystic armour, as we will be
using both mages concurrently. If you want to abuse your classes, give
licences for mystic armour, Warp, Blind, Sleep and Dark to a third
party member and buy mystic armour for him as well.

Since White Mousse is a Flan-type enemy, weapons are pretty much
useless, including guns (he is resistant to them). The only exception
are Poles (he has very low Magic Defence), but as he halves damage
from Earth, you cannot use the Cypress Pole. Actually, he halves all
elemental damage except Water, which he absorbs, and Fire, which he's
weak to. Magic is the only way to attack (and Quickenings, of
course). So you need both Fran and Penelo in this battle. If you want,
buy another Cherry Staff.

When you have the necessary equipment and items, enter the Garamsythe
Waterway and set you battle speed to slowest. Put everyone in reserve
except your party leader (give him his best light armour and Orrachea
Armlet. Vaan is good because of his high Vitality) and Vossler and run
like hell through No. 10 Channel towards the south, dodging all the
Malboros and Lizards there. Once you reach West Sluice Control,
Raise/heal if you sustained damage on the way there, then bring in
Fran and Penelo. Have all gambits closed.

There are 4 Malboros between you and the place where the White Mousse
is. The only way to get rid of them fast and painlessly is the Warp
spell. Have your team leader approach the closest Malboro and when his
HP bar appears, manually cast Warp with both Fran and Penelo. Try to
make the Malboro target your party leader while Warp charges, it takes
some time to cast and it may miss, but the Malboros are relatively
slow moving, so you can make them chase you for a while until your
mages hit them with Warp. If it misses, cast again immediately. You
probably want Basch as your leader here, for if he's got the Linen
Cuirass he may survive one hit from the Malboro and then use a
Hi-Potion. If someone dies, do not spare your Phoenix Downs. You have
to deal with the Malboros as swiftly as possible. Continue this way
until you Warp all four of them.

Now that the place is cleared, you can take on the Mousse. The first
thing to do is kill Vossler. We want to put the Mousse to sleep and he
will tend to attack physically and wake him up. Then activate your
mage's gambits and give both a single gambit of the form Ally: Any->
Reflect. This will shield you against most of the Mousses
attacks. When Reflect is on, go find him. He will spawn once you
descent the stairs towards the rectangular area. Occasionally he will
spawn with Shell on. If that's the case, flee immediately back to the
crossing line and exit into No. 10 Channel (the foes you fled before
still await you when you cross, so return to West Sluice Control
before you get hit). When you return, the Mousse is gone and the
Malboros won't respawn. Try to spawn him again until you get him to
appear without Shell. Now the battle begins.

Lure him up the stairs. Don't worry, he will follow you there. You
don't want to engage him in the rectangular area, because a Lizard may
spawn there and ruin you. Now set your battle speed to highest and
your mages' gambits to the following:

Penelo 
Ally: Any -> Reflect 
Foe: nearest visible -> Sleep 
Foe: nearest visible -> Blind 
Self -> Dark 
Self -> Charge

Fran 
Ally: Any -> Reflect 
Foe: nearest visible -> Blind 
Foe: nearest visible -> Sleep 
Self -> Dark 
Self -> Charge

That way, Penelo will try to put him to sleep, while Fran will cast
Blind. This is why you don't want him showing up with Shell. Not only
will it decrease the magic damage he takes, it will also make it a lot
harder to successfully hit him with status spells (by a lot. Even if
you have 100% chance of inflicting the status (you can do that using
the Indigo Pendant), Shell will reduce that to 50%). If you have a
third mage character, have him cast Sleep too manually, until the
Mousse is asleep. Otherwise, keep Basch as the leader with closed
gambits and his Hand Axe and Round Shield and also give him the
Manufactured Nethicite (he won't be casting any spells anyway and the
Nethicite will render him more survivable in case some spell hits
him).

The White Mousse will start hitting you with Waterga, Slowga, Toxify
and Flash. The latter two can inflict Poison and Blind. You can
reflect all of them except Flash. It won't affect your performance,
but if you have only Basch using an Eye Drop on himself, this will
induce the Mousse to use Flash again soon and thus you can make him
miss turns like that.

He will also hit you with his physical attacks, that can also inflict
Sleep and combo, as well as Slap. They both suck and are the most
dangerous, that's why sleeping and blinding him is really
important. Also, Sleep always increases the magic damage you deal by
50%. This works for all enemies, so keep that in mind in the future
too. It also works the other way around, so always make sure you
dispel Sleep when you're dealing with a foe with powerful magic
attacks (like the White Mousse).

Until you manage to make Sleep or Blind land, things are going to be
tough. Have him chase you around (he isn't that fast and that will buy
you some time) and whenever you get hit, have Basch use a Hi-Potion
manually, or a Phoenix Down in case someone dies. Make sure you have
the Orrachea Armlets on Fran and Penelo and get the HP+50 and HP+100
licences for them if you can. The first few seconds will be hard, but
as soon as the first status spell hits, things take a significant turn
for the better. Continue until you have blinded him, and once he goes
to sleep, you can finally start your attack.
  
Dark is your first area spell and generally more powerful than the
rest of your level 1 spells and since you're casting on yourself,
every cast gets reflected on each of your party members and hits the
Mousse 3 times. So you get 6 Dark casts whenever your mages get a
turn. If you abuse your Licence Board a little, you can even have a
third character casting Dark, for a total of 9 hits per turn. This
will do about 2000 per turn with decent mystic armour on all
characters. Keep your team close together so that Dark gets reflected
on all of them. Sooner or later your MP will be depleted, that's why
you have the Charge gambit. In theory, you can go on like that
indefinitely, in practice, the Flan won't stay asleep for long and he
may start attacking you with Waterga at some point where some of your
characters will not be under Reflect, because your MP is low. Also,
some times you will get a mage casting Dark before you manage to get
Reflect on some of your characters. This will damage the character,
but not enough to kill him. The benefits of reflecting Dark far
outweigh the risks. Otherwise you will have to cast Fire on the Mousse
and even with Flame Staves (if you got them from Dustia) this won't do
much damage. Since you will use Reflect for protection in this battle
anyway, it'll be a shame not taking advantage of it offensively.

Quickenings can also be a helpful contribution to your overall attack
strategy. I assume Basch has one Myst Charge and Penelo even
more. Once the MP of your mages gets low and they start using Charge,
wait until the Mousse awakes, then have Basch initiate a
chain. Hopefully Penelo will get a Myst Charge and this will allow you
to get a Concurrence. If Fran doesn't have a Myst Charge, or you don't
use her during your chain, her MP will be preserved, so after the
chain you still have someone ready to cast Sleep while Penelo uses
Charge. Take control of Basch and use Charge and stroll to get his
Myst Charge back. Once you get a chance, do the same. Only initiate
Quickenings right after the Mousse awakes. Quickenings are considered
physical attacks and as such, will awake sleeping foes.

With a little bit of luck, you may get him to about 50% of his HP and
think you're cruising through this fight, but around that time, the
Mousse will start spamming physical attacks and if you get an unlucky
string of Sleep casts, you may find yourself in a death spiral,
throwing Hi-Potions and Phoenix Downs as fast as you can and having
your characters K.O.d all the time until you finally manage to put him
to sleep again. This is why you need that big stash of Hi-Potions and
Phoenix Downs.

If you can endure this phase and wade down his HP enough, he will
start spamming his spells. This can also set you back (though you are
mostly protected against them), as whenever Waterga gets bounced off,
it heals the Mousse for about 450 per cast. If it gets reflected by
all your characters, he will gain back more than 1000 HP, so the
moment you see him charging Waterga, spread out your team in hopes
that it won't hit everybody. Maintaining Reflect and hitting him with
Quickenings should now be a priority, as you won't be able to cast
Dark fast enough to counteract the healing done by Waterga. It may
also be a good time to use a few Ethers on Basch to finish this
quickly.

Post-Raithwall Strategy: Things are a lot easier now that you have
Belias. Just like with the Ring Wyrm, you now have a way of taking
advantage of the Mousse's weakness to Fire big time. As a general rule
of thumb, if the foe is susceptible to Sleep, it's Esper time.

It is now also much easier to play the status ailments card. If you
completed 10 Hunts before the White Mousse (e.g. Ring Wyrm and
Marilith), you can now buy the awesome Nihopalaoa accessory from the
Clan Provisioner. Have a guy equip this and use an Alarm Clock on the
Mousse and he will immediately go to sleep. Same with an Eye Drop
(will inflict Blind). If you also completed the Barheim Key sidequest
and gotten the Indigo Pendant from the Surianders in Barheim Bassage,
you can equally well inflict him with the status ailments you want,
including Berserk (if you Berserk and Blind him, he can't cast magic
and will have a hard time hitting you, so you can use melee fighters
against him, if that's your thing). In addition, Warp will always hit,
so you can easily make your way towards the White Mousse and reliably
dispose of all the Malboros.

Have your summoner (Penelo) equip the Indigo Pendant and have her cast
Reflect on herself. Put Sleep on the Mousse, then Summon
Belias. That's it, you're done. He will start toasting the Mouse with
Pain Flare. Just so you know, you can renew Sleep by casting it before
it wears off. That way you can keep the Mousse asleep for the entire
battle, until Belias finishes it! Have this in mind for future
Sleep-prone foes. If you recast Sleep every 3-4 Pain Flares, you
shouldn't have any problems. If you don't have the Indigo Pendant or
Nihopalaoa, try to also induce Blind (in case White Mousse wakes up)
and keep your summoner and Belias under Reflect. Maintaining Reflect
on Belias is important. He is weak to Water and if White Mousse uses
Waterga before you put him to sleep again, it can potentially kill
him.

It usually takes 1-2 summons to defeat the Hunt, so when your MP goes
down, have Penelo using Charge and stroll to get back her Myst Charge
to summon again. Reflect and Sleep should be your priority though. You
can also bring in another party member who has a Myst Charge ready in
order to execute a Concurrence and finish this quickly once the Mousse
is low on HP, but there's no need for that. Your summoner and Esper
should be more than enough, especially with Nihopalaoa or Indigo
Pendant equipped. This Hunt will cost you next to nothing (perhaps
only a couple of Hi-Potions, in case Penelo gets hit), compared to the
small fortune you had to spend if you attempted this before
Raithwall's Tomb. As you can see, Belias rules during these early
Hunts.

The Yoichi Bow you get as a reward is a fantastic weapon for Fran and
all you'll ever need for her for the remaining of the game, until we
get hold of the ultimate bow, the Sagittarius.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: A Tinglign Toast
Marilith (Rank V) 
HP: 54921 - LV: 38
=======================================

With the lowest HP total of the three Hunts and the highest level,
Marilith is by far the most difficult of them all. It is also the one
with the worst rewards (2200 gil, 1 Serpent Eye and 3 Teleport
Stones).

Pre-Raithwall Strategy: Just like White Mousse, Marilith requires a
serious investment in terms of gil if you want to survive. Your armour
at this point is crap compared to what this guy will hit you with,
unless you happen to have the Golden Armour. His attacks are
tantamount to one-hit kills, and hits so fast there really is little
point in trying to heal. His only redeeming virtue is that he only
uses single targeting attacks, so if you can keep up and toss Phoenix
Downs fast enough, you won't get wiped out. Buy as many of them as you
can.

Not only will you need all these items just to be on the safe side (it
will probably require about 50), you also have to farm for some
special weapons particularly for this fight. In order to counteract
Marilith's enormous attack speed, you have to inflict him with Slow if
you want to stand a chance, but given you will be mostly trying to
stay alive and will barely have enough time to land a single hit
before you get K.O.d, let alone cast spells, coupled with the fact
that Slow wears off, your only choice is the Heavy Lance. Get at least
two from Fideliant (see the Westersand Farming section), three if
possible and head for the Zertinan Caverns through the Westersand (the
entrance is at the southwest end of Shimmering Horizons). Also make
sure you have the Cypress Pole.

Enter the Zertinan Caverns with Balthier as your leader holding the
Cypress Pole and Vaan and Basch carrying their Heavy Lances and equip
everybody with the best heavy armour you can get. Also give the Martyr
and Inquisitor licences to all of them and make sure all have one
Quickening licence. There will be some Slimes spawning on the way,
they are weak to Earth so Balthier will take care of them. Clear the
enemies as you go until you reach the southern end of the Invitation
to Heresy area. You won't be able to proceed any further. Then return
a little north, where a sunny spot is (there were a couple of
Speartongues there, as well as a trap. Set off the trap so you won't
have to worry about it and heal).

Now you have to wait a while near the southern entrance to this
chamber, where the path leads towards the dead end. After a couple of
minutes, bring in a character that knows Cure, have him cast while at
the same time your party leader (only have these two in your team, and
Vossler, obviously) moves towards the sunny spot. Marilith will jump
off the grass once you get near enough. When this happens, switch
leaders to the character casting Cure and have him walk away towards
the south and stand behind the wall there (do not flee). Marilirth
will kill the characters near him and won't follow your leader, who is
already far away. Revive the fallen character (don't bother with
Vossler, he won't be of help here), wait for a while for Marilith's
buffs to wear off (he spawns with Haste, Shell and Protect) bring out
Fran (who should know Raise and Immobilize) and have her cast
Immobilize on herself.

Now the hard part begins. We have to inflict Marilith with Blind and
it ain't easy. Bring out Penelo and give her the best mystic armour
and Cherry Staff, as well as Vaan, who probably also knows Blind. Take
control of one of them and enter the chamber where Marilith is and
have them cast Blind on him. He will kill these two within a couple of
hits. Once this happens, switch back to the Immobilized Fran who will
be sitting safely behind the wall. Have her revive Vaan and Penelo. If
they managed to get Blind on Marilith, great. If not, try again.

Once Marilith is Blinded, revive the dead and prepare for
battle. Marilith is immune to all elements except Water, which he is
weak to and Fire, which he absorbs. Equip Balthier with the Vega+Water
Shot, it will deal good damage. Also bring in Vaan and Basch with the
Heavy Lances. Enter the chamber and engage. It is best to use a
Quickening Chain as an opening salvo. Then start attacking
normally. Hopefully the Heavy Lances will soon inflict him with Slow
and things will be relatively easier, while many of his attacks will
miss. Do not kid yourself though, his attacks will almost certainly
kill you with a single hit. While his HP remains above 50%, you cannot
block his attacks, but below 50% you can, so it is important to reduce
his HP as fast as you can. If someone dies, manually have some other
member (one that is not being targeted, check if his name is red) use
a Phoenix Down. Don't bother healing.

If you manage to inflict Slow, you will be able to take control of the
situation in a manner. Make Balthier the leader and try to keep him at
a distance, though unfortunately Marilith will probably still target
him. Continue this way, trying to constantly revive whoever
fell. Between attacking and taking all this massive damage, you will
soon have one character with a new Myst Charge and ready for another
Quickening chain.

While below 50% HP Marilith can be blocked (so shields can be useful
again), he will start comboing like mad, so your chances of survival
aren't that better unless you have the Gauntlets, a good shield and
Shield Augments on your Licence Board (which you probably
haven't). Keep attacking him and hitting with Quickenings whenever
available. If something goes horribly bad and all your team gets wiped
out during this phase, bring in one of your reserves and start fleeing
towards the south. Marilith will probably kill the first character
that attempts to flee, but if you manage to get close to the incline
leading to the wall, he will usually stop following after your
character is dead and the next you bring in can successfully flee
behind the wall. Now that you are here, you'll notice that if you hang
the wall towards the east, you will be able to target Marilith, even
though you remain out of range. Target him, then bring in another
character to revive the rest of the team and continue. Eventually he
will fall.

Taking advantage of the terrain, you can also try to defeat him using
nothing but Quickenings, which is the most economically sound
strategy. Have a character Immobilized behind the wall (Fran
probably), then bring in two characters with Myst Charges (Penelo and
Basch in our current configuration), have them walk up to Marilith and
initiate a chain. After that Marilith will kill them. Switch to the
Immobilized character, have him target Marilith, while you bring in
another character to revive the dead one, then have the character with
one Myst Charge (Basch, who has the lowest MP) using Charge and stroll
until he is ready for the next chain. It takes long, but will be much
more cost-efficient and you don't even have to bother with inflicting
status effects or farming for the Heavy Lance. Marilith's HP isn't so
high, so a few good Quickening Chains will do the trick.

Post-Raithwall Strategy: Again, now that you potentially have access
to Nihopalaoa and the Indigo Pendant, inflicting Blind and Slow is
much easier. Debuff him using the same method as before, fleeing
behind the wall or using an Immobilized character. Now it is time to
summon Belias. Because Marilith absorbs Fire, Belias will switch to
his physical attack which unfortunately isn't that strong. The upside
is that Marilith's attacks are Fire-elemental, so whenever one of his
attacks connects, it will heal Belias. Except Tail Spear. This can
hurt him and if Marilith manages to hit him twice without also hitting
him physically in between, he will die. Also, make sure you dismiss
Belias before he uses Hellfire, as this will heal Marilith. Meantime
your summoner can stay on the incline ready to run behind the wall and
will not get targeted, while he uses Charge and strolls to get his MP
back for the next summoning. If you don't have enough time to get your
Myst Charge before Belias is dismissed, run behind the wall, target
Marilith and keep strolling until you are ready to summon. It again
takes some time, but Belias will basically win the battle for you and
it'll cost you nothing in terms of healing items.

If you bothered to get back to Rabanastre to claim your reward for
Wyvern Lord, you now have the Longbow to use against the upcoming
Garuda battle. Use the teleport crystal to return to Ogir Yensa and
traverse the Nam-Yensa again until you reach Raithwall's Tomb
(although there is no save crystal before Garuda, you will be prompted
to save your game before you enter the tomb, so you can save your
progress). I will assume you didn't do the three Hunts above and do
not have the uberweapons of their rewards.

========================= 
26. Raithwall's Tomb
=========================

-------------------------------- 
BOSS: Garuda - HP: 6754 - LV: 16
--------------------------------

Right off the bat, this dungeon greets you with a boss fight. Now that
we left Garuda waiting for a couple of hours, she is understandably
pissed. Most people who go through the game using mainly melee weapons
will find themselves in dire straits in this battle (you can relax
though, Garuda is the only storyline boss that is a flying enemy). If
you are the kind of player that doesn't much care about magic and
ranged weapons, your only way of attack is using technicks (Horology
is nice here, Traveller also can make this a one-hit-kill if you
charge it properly), Knots of Rust, Motes and basically trying to keep
Vossler alive (along with everybody else), since he at least has the
Telekinesis technick and can deal some damage while you are so busy
scratching your head.

On the other hand, if you took my advice and have the Longbow and Vega
in hand, your party shouldn't break a sweat. Balthier and Fran are
obviously indispensable here. Your team leader (Vaan or Ashe) will
mainly act as a tank and attack using Horology. Initiate the battle at
an appropriate time (it's not necessary, but helpful) and have Fran
(wearing her mystic armour and the Cherry Staff) cast Blind on
Garuda. If you want, have your team leader also try to inflict
Blind. When it connects, give Fran the Longbow and have her attack,
with a secondary healing gambit (Allie: HP<50% -> Cure should be
enough now that the boss is blinded). Garuda will probably target your
leader and Vossler, while Fran and Balthier will strike from a
distance. His attacks do moderate damage and can combo, but with Blind
on and your leader carrying the Round Shield+Glaudius, he will have a
hard time landing a hit.

The final touch is the Eksir Berries you got from the Urutan-Eater
sidequest. Have your leader throw them to Garuda, they will deal some
good damage. The fight is essentially easy and quick, provided you did
some shopping for decent armour and didn't neglect your ranged weapon
characters. Using Quickenings can make things even easier.

Another strategy if you prefer magic is to cast Reflect on everybody
and have Penelo casting Dark on herself. Garuda is weak to Dark and
each cast will be reflected 4 times (since you also have Vossler), so
it won't take more than a few casts to take care of her. The only
caveat is you can't cure yourself unless you use Potions and
Hi-Potions, but if you blinded Garuda before starting to cast Dark,
she'll probably be defeated before any of your characters gets KOd.

After the cutscene, climb the stairs and save at the teleport
crystal. Then head down the stairs again to find the merchant there,
he now sells some nice things. You definitely want to buy the Aero
spell from him (remember to equip the Cherry Staff whenever you cast
it, even later when you have access to better Staves, as it will boost
Aero damage by 50%) and a better axe for Basch wouldn't hurt either
(Iron Hammer has 53 ATK). There is a decision to be made, about
confronting an optional boss that awaits you when you first enter the
Tomb. Read the following section and make your call. When you're done,
return to the teleport crystal. If you plan on tackling the optional
boss, prepare your team here, save and touch the Way Stone in the
middle to teleport inside the tomb.

----------------------------------------------- 
BOSS: Demon Wall - HP: 22187 - LV: 18 
-----------------------------------------------

Know that, although this boss is optional, if you stay to fight and
are defeated you will get a game over. The optional Demon Wall is by
far the most difficult storyline boss you've encountered so far (much
harder than Ba'Gamnan). What makes this battle hard isn't the boss's
attacks (he won't even hit you), but the fact that there is a very
tight time window to finish it. You have to deplete his (considerable)
HP before the Demon Wall comes too close and smashes your team against
the wall. This can present quite a challenge, even if you are
overlevelled, if you don't set up your team properly (provided of
course you don't have some superweapons, like the Yoichi Bow, Icebrand
or even worse, the Francisca), since your damage output at this point
is barely adequate. Quickenings can be useful, but since the boss's HP
is so high, they are no silver bullet in this case, unless you have
Ethers to spare.

The most powerful weapons we have at the moment are the Glaudius,
Vega, Cypress Pole (you can buy it from the merchant outside the Tomb)
and Iron Hammer. Of these, Vega isn't a good idea because it's very
slow. We need fast weapons that can combo for this fight, so Balthier
gets the Cypress Pole. Vaan has more Strength than Ashe, so he gets
the Glaudius. Basch is the best melee fighter, so he is a shoe-in for
the fight with his Iron Hammer. You may want to consider buying
another Linen Cuirass for Vaan from the merchant (and possibly even a
Barbut), perhaps also for Balthier, to increase their Strength a
little, but it's not that necessary.

The other thing you need to buy is 3 Argyle Armlets. The Demon Wall
will hit you with unreflectable Blindga, which will make it impossible
to deal the damage necessary within the time limit. Equip these to
Vaan, Basch and Balthier. Return to the teleport crystal, give Penelo
her mystic armour and Cherry Staff and have her put Berserk on Vaan,
Basch and Balthier. You want this to last, so whenever you get Berserk
on a character, immediately put him in reserve, then continue with the
next. Save, then touch the Way Stone to enter the Tomb.

The Demon Wall awaits you right ahead, when you try to cross the
central bridge. Stand near the beginning of the bridge, switch mystic
armour and Cherry Staff to Fran and have her cast Berserk on Vossler
(we are doing this now because we cannot put him in reserve). Then
switch her for Penelo, give her mystic+Cherry Staff and close her
gambits.

Remember that Hastega Mote in the Westersand? This is why we need
it. It isn't absolutely necessary, but it will really help and will
probably allow you to finish the boss without even using
Quickenings. If you did get one, bring in Vaan and Basch and have
Penelo use it. Once Hastega is casted, put Vaan and Basch back in
reserve and move towards the bridge to initiate the battle with only
Penelo (and Vossler).

There is a pretty simple trick that can give you a nice strategical
advantage in this fight. When you enter the battle with only Penelo,
the Demon Wall will always target her. Once you see her name turning
red, immediately open your menu and bring in Vaan and Basch, then move
Penelo away from the Demon Wall, enough so you can see his HP but out
of his range (do not flee, just run). What this will do is that it
will delay Demon Wall from casting any of its spells, as it is trying
to hit Penelo and she is out of range. This will give you several
seconds during which your other 3 team members just hack away at the
Demon Wall, while he does absolutely nothing. Eventually he will
cancel his initial attack against Penelo and will start charging
X-zone against one of the three attackers. If you are a little lucky,
he won't pick Vossler, so once Basch or Vaan gets X-zoned (Penelo
remains away from the Demon Wall), just switch in Balthier to take the
place of the vanished character (you cannot do anything about X-zone
at this moment).

Provided all goes well, you should have depleted a large chunk of his
HP before he starts using Blindga and Sleep. If some of your attackers
goes to Sleep, have Penelo use an Alarm Clock. Move her close to the
wall and when Demon Wall gets dangerously near (if he's not dead yet),
have her use her Myst Charges to initiate a Quickening Chain. That
should be more than enough to finish him off. If not, the guy is weak
to Holy, so if you happen to have a Holy Mote, it will deal very high
damage.

Now if you want to go all out on the Demon Wall, the trick is to
purchase the Adrenaline licence for Basch, Bathier and Vaan (Basch and
Balthier need this anyway, Vaan, not so much). This doubles your
damage when you are critical. Also buy the Bleed spell and have Penelo
inflict Sap an all 4 attackers (Vaan, Basch, Balthier, Vossler). Turn
off any healing gambits. When they get to 1 HP, do as before and get
them under Berserk. Enter the battle and do the same
leader-leaves-the-battle-field thing with Penelo. With the Adrenaline
licence doubling their damage and the 1 HP per character allowing them
to perform insanely long combos (up to 12 hits), the Demon Wall will
probably be dead before he even has a chance to move, without the use
of Quickenings (the Hastega Mote isn't necessary). Note that although
this boss has physical attacks other than status spells (and X-zone),
he generally won't use them if you have the party leader running away,
so even if your characters fight at 1 HP, they won't die.

The alternative (and probably more economical) approach is to use the
Aero spell. Get a second set of mystic armour for your second mage
character from the merchant downstairs (Lambent Hat and Chanter's
Djellaba) and a second Cherry Staff. The second Cherry Staff will come
in handy in several cases from now on anyway, when you have an enemy
weak to Wind. I assume you probably don't have the Spellbreaker
licence. If not, there is a cheap alternative in the form of the
Leather Gorget, which you can buy form the merchant in the
Westersand. Get two of these and give them to your two mages along
with their mystic armour and the Cherry Staves and get them at
critical HP. Put reflect on them and put them in reserve (better use
another character to cast Reflect, so they don't waste their
MP). Finally, once near the boss, get Vossler at critical and cast
Berserk, then reflect on him. Set for your mages the gambit Self:->
Aero. The team leader won't play any role, put Reflect on him just in
case, though he won't be reflecting anything as he will be staying
away. Enter the battle with your team leader, then put in your
mages. They will be able to wipe out the boss before he even has time
to charge X-Zone and within the limits of their MP pool, even if you
only have one Myst Charge per caster.
 
If you think you prefer to leave this one for later, just run away
from Demon Wall and open the door to enter the next area, where a
second (compulsory) Demon Wall will engage you right away. Make sure
you are prepared. You can always deal with the optional Demon Wall
later.

Provided you did face the optional boss, there is a jewel where the
defeated Demon Wall was. If you touch it now, nothing will happen, but
this is a clue for what your reward for taking down this boss will
be. You might want to go save your game at the teleport crystal (this
will also remove the X-zone status) and prepare your party again for
the second Demon Wall that awaits you after you open the door at the
end of the bridge. If you just fled for the door during the battle,
then you'll immediately encounter...

----------------------------------------------- 
BOSS: Demon Wall - HP: 10332 - LV: 16 
-----------------------------------------------

This one you have to defeat in order to proceed. First you have to run
forward to meet him, along the (considerably longer than before)
bridge. The same technique that works with the first Demon Wall will
also do here. Make sure you have all three of your attackers berserked
(and Vossler too) and if you want, use the same method of
Sap+Adrenaline licence. The difference with this Demon Wall is that he
can use physical attacks to hurt you, but his HP is so low you can
finish him easily before he gets a turn. Use the same trick as before,
have only Penelo running towards him, then once you get near enough
and you see Penelo getting targeted, open your menu, bring in Basch
and Vaan and have Penelo run back. Just like the previous Demon Wall,
he will get stuck trying to attack the out of reach party leader,
while the rest of your team chop him into pieces. He won't even know
what hit him.

After you defeat both Demon Walls, that jewel in the first room will
now react when you examine it and will activate the stairs on the left
and right of the bridge that lead to a new chamber. There you will
find a chest that has a (low) chance of giving you the Demonsbane
sword (59 ATK). The chest respawns, so you can get as many of them as
you wish. Trouble is, it may take you anywhere from 1 attempt to 10 or
more in order to get a Demonsbane and you can easily end up wasting
the better part of an hour obsessing over it. Know that within the
same time you will have completed this dungeon and gained access to
some immensely superior weapons, so it's really up to you. And no, it
isn't such a great weapon for the upcoming Belias battle, your
Vega+Water Shot is far far better. Personally, I suggest you just
check once and if you get the sword, great, if not, don't sweat it. On
the way there you will be ambushed by some Tallows. They actually can
be more interesting, as they have the Broadaxe as their rare
drop. They are weak to Water (obviously). So if you want to spend some
time in Raithwall's Tomb, you would be better served by chaining
Tallows than trying to farm the chest for the Demonsbane.

Now you can proceed past the end of the bridge where you faced the
second Demon Wall and enter the next chamber. Descent the stairs and
you will find the Urn with the map of the tomb between two Way Stones
(they are both inert at the moment). The blue Way Stone teleports
between here and the other same-colored Way Stone in the first
chamber, so if you want to go back and save, then return, this is the
quickest route.

There are stairs on both sides of the area where the Way Stones
are. Pick whichever path you like. Both lead to two entrances to new
areas, as you can see on your map (Northfall Passage and Southfall
Passage). The lower of the two entrances also has a chest nearby,
which will be trapped, make sure you have Libra on. When you enter the
new areas, move forward until you reach a place where an altar, a Way
Stone and a jewel on the wall will be. Examine the jewel and the altar
will respond and lower itself halfway. As soon as the altar stops
moving, 3 foes will spawn, but you are not required to beat them, just
touch the Way Stone and you'll be teleported back to one of the two
colored Way Stones near the Urn.

Repeat the above procedure with the area you haven't visited. This
time the altar will move all the way down when you touch the jewel on
the wall and will reveal stairs leading to a new chamber of the
tomb. Return using the Way Stone back to where the Urn was.

There are also three chests in each of Northfall and Southfall
Passage, which you may have already encountered if you picked the
upper entrance to access both of these areas. If not, you can use the
green and red Way Stones to return there and search the place again
until you find them. Most often they will give you Knots of Rust, gil
and Gold Needles. One of the chests in Southernfall Passage can give
you the Iron Hammer (you probably bought it already), while in
Northfall Passage you can get a Longbow (you got that from Wyvern
Lord). There is a chance though of getting Gillie Boots from one of
the chests in Northfall Passage, which can be immensely helpful in the
Belias battle. It's not easy to get them, so I don't think it's such a
great idea to farm them. Once you have gotten the items from all 6
chests, use the blue Way Stone to return back to the first chamber,
then go to the teleport crystal to save your game and prep your team
to face Belias, our very first Esper.

When ready, use either the red or green Way Stone to return to the
chambers where the altars were and head down the stairs. Open the door
and you will find yourself in the western area of the tomb (Cloister
of Flame). Your goal is tho decent the stairs towards the
centre. There are two chests in two square shaped areas on your
map. One always gives a Gold Needle, the other always gives and Elixir
(yeah!). Now descent the stairs all the way for your boss fight.

----------------------------------------------- 
BOSS: Belias - HP: 15943 - LV: 20 
-----------------------------------------------

Check the numbers above and you'll notice that boss levels have
advanced significantly in a very short time. When you first
encountered Garuda, you may have been lacking a couple of levels. Now
you may find your team a whopping 4-5 levels below what Belias has, as
you'll usually be around level 15-16 at this point (unless you went
out of your way to collect EXP). Meanwhile, you hardly had a chance to
fight any ordinary foes in the tomb, this dungeon being relatively
short and generally, quiet as a tomb in terms of enemies. If you plan
on engaging Belias without taking advantage of his elemental weakness,
know that you are facing a powerful boss that may lead to a prolonged
and expensive battle.

If you still haven't gotten the Vega+Water Shot from the Bazaar, I
suggest you do now. No matter what your opinion on ranged weapons may
be, nothing beats this combination in terms of sheer attack power for
this battle. Belias is the Fire-elemental Esper, so he is weak to the
opposing element, Water. If you setup Balthier with Vega and the Water
Shot, in addition to giving him the Adrenaline licence, inflicting Sap
to get his HP down to critical and finally putting him under Berserk,
he will be dealing nearly 2000 per hit, with critical hits getting
above 3000! Compare that to the 300 max that Vossler can get when
Berserked and you realize the vast majority of the damage in this
fight will be coming from Balthier. Not only that, being a ranged
weapon user he will stay away and not get targeted by Belias, who will
engage your party leader and Vossler. You thus won't be in any
trouble, even though you have him fighting at 1 HP.

Belias, as most Espers, is big on magic and will rarely hit you with
physical attacks (which aren't very strong anyway). He will mostly
cast Fire, which is reflectable, so Reflect is your best friend once
again. Sooner or later, he will start charging Firaja, his signature
Fire-based attack (it has the same animation as the Inferno
Concurrence). This will deal about 300-400 damage on everybody with
the current equipment you have. You can cut this down a little by
putting Shell on your party and further decrease damage by equipping
the Manufactured Nethicite. The main danger is that Firaja has a
chance of inflicting you with Oil. Oil is a great status effect if
used offensively, as it TRIPLES Fire-based damage (Fire-weak enemies
take x1.5 damage when hit with Fire-based attacks, so putting Oil on a
Fire-weak foe increases damage 4.5 times). If Belias uses it against
you, it's a disaster. Even though you may maintain Reflect and avoid
being hit by Fire, the next Firaja will certainly K.O. all characters
inflicted with Oil. Not only that, Oil won't go away even if you're
K.O.d and revived. The only solution is to use Handkerchiefs to remove
the status. If you managed to get Gillie Boots, equip it to at least
one party member, as they make you immune to Oil. Putting Shell on the
entire party before the battle is thus a no-brainer. Not only will it
decrease Firaja damage by 25%, it will also cut down the probability
you get inflicted with Oil by half.

That is of course if Belias actually has the time to charge Firaja. If
you plan your attack correctly, you can have him beaten before
that. He is an extremely slow opponent and if you start depleting his
HP fast enough, he will lose even more time as he constantly switches
actions along with his dwindling HP. At one time he will be targeting
you with Fire, then will cancel that (without casting) to start
casting Greater Barrier, then switch to charging Firaja. This gives
you even more time unmolested, during which you can focus on all out
attack.

The best configuration for beating him without giving him a chance to
use Firaja is the following: Prep your team with Basch as your leader,
carrying his Iron Hammer (or the Broadaxe if you got one from the
Talows) and also the Round Shield. Give him a Battle Harness if you
have one. Then Penelo with her mystic armour and Cherry Staff. Finally
Balthier with Vega and Water Shot (his armour is irrelevant). Have
Penelo cast Bleed on Balthier to bring him down to critical HP. Then
cast Berserk and Reflect and put him in reserve. Then put Protect and
Reflect on Basch and put him in reserve too. Now head to the Cloister
of Flame (using only Penelo) and descent the stairs until you can see
Belias in front of you, but do not initiate the battle yet. Have
Penelo cast Berserk on Vossler, followed immediately by Reflect on
both him and her. When Reflect is on, set her just one gambit of the
form Foe: nearest visible -> Water, bring out Basch as your leaded and
move towards Belias. The moment the battle begins, open your menu and
bring in Balthier, then have Basch running towards and attacking
Belias. Vossler will follow suit, while Penelo and Balthier will stay
a little behind and start attacking him from there. Penelo will do
good damage with her Water spells, even though Belias is under Shell
(about 600-700 per cast). Compared to Balthier's colossal damage,
Vossler and Basch will seem underwhelming, but their small
contribution is what will help you finish this before your opponent
uses his all-powerful Firaja. Their main job is to keep Belias
occupied, while Balthier and Penelo blow him to smithereens. Do not
use the Gladius in this fight. Belias halves Wind damage, so you are
looking at about 150 per hit with the Glaudius, even with its high
ATK. Normally, Belias will be on his belly without even having to use
a Quickening Chain and before any of your buffs wears of. There is no
point in casting Shell on your team with this strategy.

If you want to make things hard for yourself, or neglected to get the
Vega+Water Shot, then definitely start the battle with Reflect+Shell
on everybody. Penelo should put Basch and Vossler under Berserk before
the fight (the right order is first Berserk, then Shell, then Reflect)
and apart from her Water casting, she should also have an Ally: any->
Reflect gambit. Use Ashe or Vaan as a party leader and equip them with
the Manufactured Nethicite and Balaclava. They should be attacking
using Horology (start the battle around the 5 minute mark, so by the
time Belias goes critical, you can deal some good damage). Traveler
can also be a great battle opener if charged properly and can shave
off 2/3 of the boss's life in a single hit. You can in theory inflict
Belias with Slow, which will render him slower than molasses, but good
luck with that, since he is under Shell. After Firaja hits, have your
leader (and perhaps also Penelo) manually throwing Potions, Hi-Potions
or Handkerchiefs where needed and try to keep your HP high. Remember,
you also got reserves, it may be wiser to bring in one of them fully
buffed and ready to go if someone from your first party dies, instead
of wasting time trying to revive and rebuff while being under
fire. When Belias goes critical, he will use Greater Barrier, renewing
his Shell and Protect and increasing his Defences dramatically. At
this point you'll be hardly able to make a dent with your melee
weapons, so use magic, Water motes if you have them and Horology (you
may actually want to open your menu and wait until you reach the 8
minute mark before resuming). And of course Quickenings. One good
chain will almost certainly finish him off.

After the battle Belias becomes your first Esper and you can summon
him in battle from now on. But first, you must give his licence to
someone in your party. I suggest Penelo, with her high magic and MP
makes an ideal summoner. You get 10 LP from defeating Belias, which is
exactly the LP required to purchase his licence. As long as Penelo has
the Libra licence, she can have the Esper.

Let's take a pause for one moment to see what our brand new Esper is
capable of. Belias is a Fire-elemental Esper, meaning he deals
primarily in Fire-based spells. His regular Fire spell is Pain Flare,
which he will use against any enemy within range, unless the enemy
absorbs Fire, in which case he will use his less powerful physical
attack. Finally, whenever his HP goes below 30%, or there is less than
10 seconds remaining before his time expires (90 seconds in total), he
will charge his signature final attack, Hellfire (by the way, it's not
the same as his Firaja attack. It is a regular trait for Espers to use
different spells as summons than the ones they do in battle). Hellfire
will deal heavy Fire-elemental damage against all enemies within
range, targeting primarily the one with the highest current HP. Also,
just like in the battle you gave with him, he can absorb Fire-based
attacks and spells (they will heal him) and is weak to Water, so be
careful whenever you pit him against a foe that uses Water-based
attacks (like White Mousse), use Reflect on him if the foe casts
reflectable spells. Like all Espers, he is immune to all status
ailments, with the exception of Death. He can be protected against the
Death spell if you put reflect on him, but you can't do anything about
it if an enemy uses physical attacks that have a chance of inflicting
instant death, or some unreflectable instant death spell like
Deathstrike.

In case you didn't know it, you can summon Belias (who costs 1 Myst
Charge per summon) near a save crystal, then touch the crystal and
gain back your lost MP. Since many boss fights or Hunts occur near a
save crystal area, Belias can be a great initiator, especially when
the boss happens to have annoying minions. Summon Belias, get back
your MP, then wait until his summoning time is almost up and walk into
battle. Belias will immediately start charging Hellfire and probably
also draw the boss's attention away from the summoner, so he will
deliver a good opening blow, usually wiping out any minions and you
can now start your battle with a good advantage and full MP. Much
better than trying to do the same by wasting all your MP to get a
Concurrence (which you might miss) and entering battle with no MP at
all. The three Hunts Ring Wyrm, White Mousse and Marilith (see above)
will give Belias the chance to prove his worth, he is ideal for these
and you should take them now that you have him in your possession.

Belias is great for tanking at this point in the game, as well as
offensively, because of his powerful Fire spells. Bear in mind that
you should use him against foes that tend to hit you with annoying
status ailments.

Do not forget to check the two chests in the battlefield, you have a
good chance of getting a second Elixir from one of them. Open the door
Belias was guarding and descend the stairs. You'll find a Way Stone
here. Walk past it and climb the stairs to trigger a cutscene. After
that you obtain the Dawn Shard, another key item with very high Magic
Defence (+20). Walk back and touch the Way Stone to teleport to the
first chamber of the tomb. Save your game. You'll notice you can't use
the crystal to teleport. This is a hint you aren't supposed to go
anywhere. Make sure your team is prepared to fight and head down the
stairs. More cutscenes will occur until you are pitted to fight
against an old friend...

========================= 
27. The Shiva 
=========================

--------------------------------- 
BOSS: Vossler - HP: 9318 - LV: 20
---------------------------------

Let's put Belias do our work for us. This battle is reminiscent of
past FF games: "When in trouble, summon." Fran starts the battle
berserked, so tough luck if you gave the Belias licence to her, she
can't use him until Berserk wears off. What you can do is give her the
Longbow and she will do some serious damage. But really, this fight is
for Belias. Bring in Penelo (or whoever has him) and summon. Belias
will start burning people left and right with his Pain Flare, while
the imperial soldiers and Vossler will try in vain to penetrate his
Defences. Just make sure you keep the summoner away and healthy and
this will be over before you know it. It's dead easy. By the way, it's
a good idea not to give the Belias licence to Basch. It seems like
Vossler has some score to settle with his old comrade and prefers to
attack him instead of anyone else (including Belias) when he's on the
battlefield.

========================= 
28. Rabanastre 
=========================

Congratulations on making it through the first third of the game. This
marks a significant turning point. From now on the game opens up
considerably, with a host of new optional areas to explore. In a
sense, the hard part is over. This doesn't mean there are no
challenges ahead. In fact, we will be dealing with some pretty hard
enemies right away, contrary to what you might do if you were just
following the main quest. But unlike all things we encountered before
Raithwall's Tomb, a lot of the handicaps we were facing in the past
are now gone. We finally have access to some immensely powerful
weapons, spells, accessories and armour, essentially endgame
material. There are also areas with enemies that give a lot of EXP and
are ideal for powerlevelling, so if that's your thing, go for it.

Personally, I do not like "breaking" the game after Raithwall's Tomb,
especially when it comes to levels, of which I generally try not to
gain too many. You most likely don't want to get in the way of your
levelling up (by actively hindering it, there are ways for that now),
given that once you enter the Giza Plains, you will be greeted by
level 20+ enemies that typically boast more than 1000 HP. This can
only mean one thing: Sidequests. Thus, we'll make up for the level
disparity and gain the necessary gear that will allow us to move
forward. And in fact there are tons of sidequests available at this
point, including some optional bosses and no less than 3(!) optional
Espers.

Weapons, accessories and armour are far more important than levels, so
it's them we should focus on from now on. We also need gil. You'll
notice that the shops in Rabanastre finally sell some decent armour,
but at ridiculous prices. And the fact that we barely got any loot in
the tomb won't help either. We have to devise some gil-making
strategies, as well as gain LP to expand our Licence Board with the
necessary augments and equip all the great gear we will be obtaining
soon. First, we need to take care of the gil and LP problems. Then we
go collect the items necessary to support our sidequesting
extravaganza. If you are bored with this thing, just head over to the
Giza Plains section to proceed with the plot. But frankly, I think
this is where all the fun begins.

Forget about shopping for the time being (you probably don't even have
enough gil to buy some decent armour). Instead, visit Montblanc who
will give you some much needed gil and items and let's start a
sidequest that will make gil farming fast and trouble free.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Barheim Key Sidequest 
=======================================

Remember the Barheim Passage? There is a sidequest available that will
grant us a key to return to this place, where all kinds of great
treasure lie hidden. Provided you did the Flowering Cactoid Hunt (if
not, go do this now), go find Dantro (the petitioner of the Flowering
Cactoid Hunt in the Estersand). Talk to him, then go to the village in
the Banks of Nebra (set your battle speed to lowest and just
flee). Next to where the merchant is, there is a woman standing
outside one of the houses. She is Dantro's wife. Talk to her and she
will give you a Bundle of Needles. Now exit and re-enter the village
and head to the riverbank. You'll find people standing there. Talk to
the boy and go with him on the boat.

On the other side of the river, find Ruksel in the middle of the
village and talk to him. Once you're back in the south bank village,
talk to Dantro's wife, then go behind her house and examine the thing
on the ground. Once the Cactoid pops up, it will follow you
around. Talk to the boy on the pier and cross the river again. Go
towards the big Cactoid. For your services you receive the Wyrmfire
Shot (Fire-elemental) and 1000 gil.

Cross the river again and talk to Dantro's wife. Go on the riverbank
and you'll find the required Semclam Shells sparkling on the
waters. Pick two of them and talk to Dantro's wife again. Now you have
to go find Dantro. Flee until the camp and talk to him, then pick the
phial which is located on some crates near where Dantro is. Return to
Dantro's wife and talk to her.

The next part is the only tricky one of the sidequest. We have to get
on the north bank of the river and collect some Valeblossom Dew. The
area where this is located is filled with high level enemies that tend
to aggro and will kill you if you stand and face them with your
current armour. So remember to set your battle speed to lowest. I
suggest you save before you attempt this.

Cross the river and exit the village into the Yoma area. Use only one
character. Flee north (the best route is to first go west, then once
you reach that side of the area where only Dive Talons are, head
north) and stay away from the Worgens. There are also Dive Talons that
won't hurt you. Unfortunately you'll find a Wild Saurian blocking your
way, which isn't benign. He will probably target you when you try to
walk past him and land a hit (perhaps even kill you), but you should
be able to make it into the next area, Broken Sands.

This is where you'll find the Valeblossom Dew. Heal if you need it,
then head forward. You'll see a crack in front of you and a tree with
white leafs there, with two Worgens on your right. Run towards the
tree, examine it and get the Valeblosson Dew. Now flee back to the
Yoma. That's it. Return to Dantro's wife to deliver the Valeblosson
Dew. If you also completed the Nidhogg Hunt, she will ask you for the
Great Serpentskin. Give it to her. Exit and re-enter the village and
talk to her again. She'll tell you that the guy she had been treating
is better and waits behind the house. Talk to him and he'll give you
the Barheim Key, as well as another reward. Now save your game and
enter the Barheim Passage using your key. The entrance is at the
southeast end of Banks of the Nebra.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Barheim Passage Farming 
=======================================
 
You will find the first area of the Barheim Passage pretty much the
same as you remember it, with same level enemies. Proceed to the
North-South Junction where you will now see a new teleport stone. Save
here. This is your starting point for all the subsequent farming we'll
be doing.

You can really make your team in the Barheim Passage. Everything from
weapons to armour to accessories can be found here. The first thing we
can get, is gil. Enter the Special Op. Sector 5, west of the Great
Central Passage. When you enter, you'll usually see a chest on your
left, which will often contain about 2000 gil. This is the chest we
want to farm. The fastest way is to keep zoning between Zeviah Span,
East-West Bypass, Great Central Passage and Special Op. Sector 5
(chests require you to zone 3 times in order to respawn). The enemies
in the East-West Bypass are benign and won't hurt you as long as you
don't use magic near them. Do not even think about engaging the
enemies in Special Op. Sector 5 yet. These are level 38-39 Surianders
and not to be joked about. We will discuss how to tackle these later
(yes, we do want them dead).

Some times the chest won't spawn, or will contain only a small sum. In
these cases, you are free to check two additional chests that appear
in this area. One is past the third Suriander on the north end (before
the big turtle). The second spawns near the turtle. You can try these
too if you like, if the first (and easiest) chest doesn't show up. It
isn't that hard really. Just set your battle speed to lowest and run
all the way, checking the chests until you've opened them all. If
you're lucky, you can make over 7000 gil in one pass. Surianders may
target you, but if you try to stay away from them and continue
fleeing, they usually won't pursuit for long and leave you alone. The
only hard one is the chest near the turtle. She will hit you with
level 2 magic, so you better have that Dawn Shard on. Just so you
know, almost all of these enemies will one-hit-kill you with your
current armour (Vaan and Ashe may be able to survive one blow, if they
have the Balaclava and Heavy Coat on). If this happens, bring in a new
member and continue fleeing out of this area. There are also some
nasty traps her (one of them inflicts the Disease status, which you
can't get rid of at the moment), so close all your gambits except
Libra, or wear a Bangle.

Our gil needs are very high at this point. One way to quickly farm gil
is the above, the other is to chain Dustia (see the Westersand Farming
section). The latter is probably a little more effective, plus it will
provide you with lots of EXP and LP, as well as the great Flame
Staves. There are two reasons you might prefer the Barhein chests
instead of Dustia, at least for now. The first is that you can gain as
much gil as you like without gaining levels. If you do not like the
idea of powerlevelling (as I do), you might prefer this method. We
will be chaining Dustia eventually, but for a completely different
reason, not powerlevelling. The second is that you do not want to kill
another foe before getting your hands on the Golden Amulet. You can
buy this right now from Mosphoran Highwaste for 4500 gil a piece and
since you want 6 in total (one for each character), you need at least
27000(!) gil before you even think about chaining Dustia. The Golden
Amulet doubles the LP you get, so ordinary foes now give 2 LP and
Dustia a whopping 6 LP. The kicker is that, if you equip Golden
Amulets on your reserves, they get double LP along with the rest of
your crew. So keep farming until you hit the 27000 gil mark. I would
advise you get as high as 55500 gil if you don't want to be returning
to the Mosphoran Highwaste for more shopping, but you may just want to
get the money for the Golden Amulets and then chain Dustia for the
rest. It's up to you. Know that in addition to whatever money you need
already, you need 800 gil more. When you feel ready (or bored enough
with chest farming and being killed by the Surianders), use the
teleport stone and get into Nalbina.

There is a small sidequest here that will not only give you access to
Mosphoran Highwaste (as well as numerous other areas), but also net
you that elusive Salamand Halcyon that is used for the Arcturus gun
(but you'll get your reward so late, you'll probably already have the
superior Fomalhaut). You will see a woman hiding and staring at two
guards nearby (Julie). Talk to her, then talk to the Moogle outside
Nalbina and rent a Chocobo (this is what the additional 800 gil is
for). While on the Chocobo, head towards the two guards. A little
scene will occur and you'll now have access to the Mosphoran
Highwaste. Continue northwest through this area until you see red
exits on you minimap. Head towards one of them and you'll be asked to
descent from your Chocobo to proceed. Do so and you'll find yourself
in the Babbling Vale. Talk to the merchant there who sells a host of
cool things. If you have the gil, buy 6 Golden Amulets, 3 Ruby Rings
(grant auto-Reflect) and one Thief's Cuffs. If you don't, just buy the
Golden Amulets for all your characters and equip them asap. Basch and
Balthier shouldn't have a problem with their spare LP and Vaan and
Ashe can probably get them immediately. Fran and Penelo may lack the
LP to equip their Golden Amulets. If that's the case, equip with as
many of your characters as you can, then teleport back to the
Estersand and start killing enemies outside the village until you get
enough LP so that everyone can have a Golden Amulet on. This place is
ideal for LP farming at the moment, since the enemies drop almost no
EXP (so no problems with overlevelling), die with one hit and won't be
able to penetrate your defences.

We are now ready to chain Dustia. But before that, we need another
20000 gil if we want to make the most out of it. Back to Barheim
Passage to farm that chest some more. Then teleport to Rabanastre,
visit the gambits shop and buy the Foe: undead gambit if you don't
have that already. See the Wraith Hunt section for the details on how
to obtain the Hermes Sandals. This is what we're about to do. Once you
have the Warmage's Monograph, enter the Westersand along with all the
Phoenix Downs you can muster (you usually need about 40-50, but you
can start with less). See the Westersand Farming section for details
on how to chain Dustia. Close all gambits of you characters and have
only your leader with Foe: undead -> Phoenix Down to automate and
speed things up. If you do not want to excessively level up here, make
sure you always have 3 members in your party, so that the EXP gets
more evenly distributed and keep rotating between all
members. Alternatively, you can just use Penelo for the whole
operation (as the official summoner of the team, she could use the
extra levels, for she'll be doing a lot of solo fighting along with
her Espers, who also level up and become stronger along with her). If
you run out of Phoenix Downs, flee through the Westersand until you
reach the merchant before Ogir-Yensa, sell your loot (if you got Flame
Staves as your loot, keep two of them, sell the rest), buy Phoenix
Downs and return to chain some more Dustia. Once you have your 15
Arcanas (you got 2 from Montblanc, so you need 13 more from Dustia),
return to Rabanastre. Check again the Wraith Hunt section about
completing the process and unlocking the Hermes Sandals. Give the
licence to Balthier (he'll be using them a lot). Between these and the
Berserk status, his Gun's ridiculously long charge time won't be an
issue any longer. From now on, he is a killing machine.

The next thing we want to do, is get an Indigo Pendant. Now this ain't
easy and it may take you some time. The Indigo Pendant is a rare drop
from those high-level Surianders in Special Op. Sector 5 and only
those. You can't get it from the other lower level Surianders that
spawn in the Barheim Passage. This is one of the farming instances in
the game I do consider to be a chore, because the drop rate for the
Indigo Pendant is infuriatingly low, but unlike other similarly
annoying situations (like trying to get the Demonsbane, or later, the
Deathbringer), the reward for this one is simply too good to
pass. Seriously, if you get the Indigo Pendant now, it will totally
transform the way you play this game.

To give you some perspective about what the reward really is, let's
make clear what an Indigo Pendant can do for you. Once equipped, this
accessory will grant the wearer 100% success rate when using any
status spell, buff or debuff that is luck dependent. What that means
is you can ALWAYS inflict a foe with a status ailment, unless the foe
is immune to it. Not only that, even some offensive spells like
Balance, Gravity and Warp, which are generally luck dependent, will
now have 100% success rate. Syphon (acquired later in the game), which
allows you to draw MP from friends and foes and is also luck
dependent, will always work. Same with buffs. Reverse (another spell
you'll soon have access to), which makes any damage you take heal you,
will always work. Decoy (turns every foe's attention on a character
with Decoy on) will always work. Berserk, which you'll want
permanently on your DPS characters from now on, will always land
successfully instead of having you wasting time and MP trying to
establish the status. Remember all your frustration during the
Cluckatrice Hunt whenever your Disable casts failed? You can forget
all that with the Indigo Pendant. With this little thing equipped,
most bosses and Hunts will tremble before you, not to mention ordinary
mobs, even if your armour is junk and your weapons little better than
potato guns. It's that good.

If you don't like the idea of farming for the Indigo Pendant, know
there is a way to get similar results equipping the Nihopalaoa
accessory. This becomes available once you obtain the Headhunter Clan
Ranking (you need 10 Hunts completed to get it). Nihopalaoa reverses
the effects of healing items. Thus, Potions inflict damage equal to
the HP they normally give, Ethers drain MP, Alarm Clocks induce Sleep,
Eye Drops Blind etc. And Remedies act as status bombs (a little like
Bad Breath from previous games), but in order for the Remedies to
induce all status ailments, the wearer of the Nihopalaoa must have all
three Remedie Lore augments on his Licence Board. As a final note,
Niholapaloa will always inflict the status you target for (unless the
foe is immune to it), even if your enemy is under Shell. In
comparison, when a foe is under Shell, it reduces the success rate of
luck dependent spells by half, so even with the Indigo Pendant you'll
have 50% success rate. Now it may seem that Nihopalaoa=Indigo Pendant,
but strictly speaking, this isn't true.

There are some status effects that aren't available as spells
throughout the game but which can be cured with Remedies, most notably
the Disease status. This is a biggie and the main reason why you may
want a Nihopalaoa in your inventory. Disease renders the character's
max HP equal to his current HP. This is extremely useful against foes
(usually bosses and Hunts) whose attack pattern depends on their
current HP as a percentage of their max HP. Some will raise their
Defences, others may raise palings that render them completely immune
to physical or magical damage (or both), others may increase their
attack strength or combinations of the above. And there are also foes
(perhaps the most annoying of them all) that will use healing spells
when their HP gets low, like Restore or (god forbid) Renew (restores
all their HP). If you inflict such enemies with Disease, none of that
will ever occur, as no matter how much damage you deal, their current
HP is equal to 100% of their max HP all the way until you kill
them. Notable foes that will use Renew in battle (and are susceptible
to Disease) are King Bomb and the Hunt Croakadile, both of which we'll
soon face.

There are also some status effects that, although available as spells,
you'll only get them later than the corresponding healing items that
can induce them (like Stop and Doom). Also, the Death spell (you get
it much later) can be simulated by throwing a Phoenix Down while
wearing the Nihopalaoa. This will kill instantly any enemy that
doesn't have the Safety passive ability.

Similarly, there are many things the Indigo Pendant can do that the
Nihopalaoa can't. With the Indigo Pendant you can successfully use
offensive spells like Balance, Gravity (Gravity can kill in this game)
and most importantly Warp, which is a great spell to quickly dispose
of many difficult enemies if they appear in clusters. You can also
reliably apply buffs like Reverse, Decoy and Berserk. These are all
unrelated to Nihopalaoa. And of course, using the Indigo Pendant costs
nothing, while you have to fork out money in order to get the items
you use with the Nihopalaoa, or farm for them (especially Remedies are
kind of expensive right now). If you do get both accessories, your
quest will become much much easier and you will be able to take on
some seemingly impossibly difficult optional bosses very early. They
will also increase your Espers' utility many fold and you'll hardly
need any high-level weapons apart from one decent Gun for most of the
game.
 
Now that we know what's at stake, let's see how we can get our Indigo
Pendant. Thankfully, just one will be more than enough. Also, we are
getting this much earlier than we'll be able to eventually buy one. It
will normally be available after the events at Giruvegan, essentially
right before the final dungeon in the game!

The high-level Surianders are really hard, so we must find an indirect
method of killing them. Quickening chains are an obvious choice, but
they take too long and if you get unlucky, they may fail to kill the
target, as the Surianders have a lot of HP. The most efficient method
is to use the Break spell. The odd thing about this spell (just like
with Poison) is that it will kill an enemy, making him drop EXP, LP
and potentially loot, without affecting your chain or chain
levels. Strictly speaking, loot will drop as if you didn't kill a new
enemy, so your chain count remains the same as before (and your chain
level too). Not only do you get a chance to kill the Surianders easily
(cast Break, then wait until the counter goes to zero), but you can
claim rare loot fast by getting a high chain level of completely
different (and much easier) foes before you start using Break against
the Surianders.

So head to the Banks of the Nebra and start chaining wolves and do not
pick up any loot. Not getting the loot makes your chain level increase
faster (that's a general rule). That way you can get to the highest
level by killing around 25 wolves. If you can't get enough in Banks of
the Nebra, kill some in the Sand-Swept Naze too. Higher chain levels
allow you to get multiple drops of loot and (most importantly)
increase the chance to get rare drops. The Indigo Pendant normally has
a meager 1% chance to appear, but this turns into 5% if you are at the
highest chain level. Once you get there (the numbers now appear in red
color and the loot has the form of big gold coins), get back to
Barheim Passage without killing anything else and head for the Special
Op. Sector 5.

Give one of your mages (Fran or Penelo) the Spellbreaker licence (you
should have the LP after all those Dustias killed). Equip her with
your best mystic armour and staff (the Flame Staff if you got it from
Dustia) and have her cast Bleed on herself. Sap will bring her down to
1 HP. Now that she is critical, the Spellbreaker licence doubles the
success rate of her status spells, so she can almost always cast Break
successfully. Also equip the Bangle so you can see the trap in front
of you. You really do not want to set this one off. It won't just kill
you (that wouldn't be a problem). Instead, it will inflict you with
Disease, which you cannot dispel even if you die and get resurrected,
unless you happen to have found a Vaccine somewhere, or learned the
Remedy Lore 3 licence. Disease will invalidate your Spellbreaker
licence, (your max HP is equal to your current HP, so you are not
considered critical anymore) so good luck inflicting the Surianders
with Break now. The only way to remove Disease is to touch the
teleport crystal, which will break your chain, so you'll have to start
all over again. Stay away from this trap no matter what.

Now set your battle speed to lowest, get close to those two Surianders
and start casting Break on one of them. Once it charges, get barely
near enough to have it casted, then flee immediately towards the
exit. The Surianders will usually chase you for a while, but they will
usually abandon pursuit without landing a hit and before you have to
leave the area (check the red dots on your minimap to see whether
they're still after you). If you shake them off before you reach the
crossing line, stay there and then get a little close to them so you
can see the petrified one. His timer will keep ticking even if you
can't see his HP bar, as long as you keep him in sight. Soon you'll
hear the "plop" sound as he turns to stone and potentially releases
the loot. If you want to avoid overlevelling, bring in some more party
members to witness the Suriander's demise. Then have Vaan or Ashe (who
have more HP) make a run for the loot. If the Surianders do not stop
chasing you until the crossing line, zone out twice then try
again. Rinse and repeat until you have the Indigo Pendant. It may take
long. Do not despair.
    
Once you have your precious Indigo Pendant, save your game
(obviously). You can now take a pause from all the farming you've been
doing to go do these three Hunts that were available even before
Raithwall's Tomb (Ring Wyrm, White Mousse and Marilith), as well as
the newly available Croakadile Hunt (see below). All these are
immensely easier to complete now that you have the Indigo Pendant and
Belias, as well as that Wyrmfire Shot and Hermes Sandals for
Balthier. Seriously, you don't even have to buy better armour or
weapons, your pre-Raithwall gear will be more than enough. When you
have done two of these and reached Headhunter Rank, you can buy the
Nihopalaoa (for 30000 gil, ouch!), so feel free to use that with the
remaining two. I suggest giving the license to your team leaders (Vaan
and Ashe), they should have some spare LP, plus, since they won't be
doing much other than stealing for most of the game, might as well add
debuffing to their duties. After all four are over, you'll achieve the
Ward of Justice clan ranking and you'll have access to the Reverse
spell and most importantly, Bubble. The latter doubles your HP, and is
one of your big rewards (along with the Nihopalaoa) for doing all
these Hunts for Clan Centurio. Normally, you'd get this spell after
Giruvegan! And it gets even better, soon we'll have access to some
even better spells and accessories from the Clan Provisioner, once we
increase our ranking again (this will happen when we complete 14 and
16 Hunts).

With Bubble available, you can go through the final phase of the
Barheim Passage farming process. We have some mean bosses and mobs to
take care of and for that, we need some serious armour. Luckily, the
Barheim Passage can give it to us relatively easily. There are two
chests that spawn in the Zeviah Span, one of them containing the
Celebrant's Miter mystic helm, the other the Cleric's Robes mystic
armour. These are Mystic Armour-9 equipment, (you are now at Mystic
Armour-4 if you got the Traveler's Garb), so you realise how advanced
gear you get. With these on, even your normally weaker mages will
receive zero damage from any foe you may encounter on the Giza Plains
now.

The enemies in the Zeviah span are a different story of course. The
Dead Bones that populate this area are simply deadly even with your
newly acquired super-armour. They cast unreflectable magic, will use
Flash and hit you very fast and hard. You can shield yourself against
their magic using a combination of the Dawn Shard and the Celebrant's
Miter (once you obtain it), but their physical attacks will kill you
even with the Cleric's Robes if they hit you twice, unless you have
Bubble on. They also have the Safety passive ability, so you cannot
kill them with a Phoenix Down (they are undead) or use Warp to dispose
of them. The only option is running past them. Set your battle speed
to lowest and have Vaan or Ashe with their best light armour and the
Dawn Shard equipped. Remove their weapon but use a shield (this will
shorten the animation time whenever you attempt to flee). Normally you
should be able to flee all the way to West Annex only being hit once
(or not at all), where you'll have the chance to stop and heal before
your return.

The first chest appears in the middle area of the Zeviah span, after
you climb the stairs (you'll see some bomb enemies in front of you
before you reach this place). Usually two Dead Bones will be nearby,
so make a run for the chest, open it, then flee south. On your right
you'll see a cart, examine it quickly before the Dead Bones get you
and push it to reveal a passage towards the next area, then continue
fleeing until you reach the West Annex. Then make a U-turn and
re-enter the Zeviah Span using the entrance in the middle of the
area. The second chest with the Cleric's Robes spawns in this small
space.

The process is essentially to start at the Barheim Passage teleport
crystal, have all gambits closed, then flee all the way until you
reach the first chest. If it's there and you get the Celebrant's
Miter, return immediately back to the teleport crystal, save your
game, then try again. If not, it's better to just soft reset and try
again. Once you have 2 Celebrant's Miters (for Fran and Penelo), start
farming the second, farthest chest until you have 2 Cleric's
Robes. You shouldn't obsess that much over the Celebrant's Miters, as
we'll soon have access to even better(!) mystic helms. But the
Cleric's Robes, you really want them, as you'll be stuck with them for
a long time. We won't be able to (easily) get a better mystic armour
until we reach the Cerobbi Steppe and get the Black Robes.

That part of the farming can be done without even using buffs on your
runners like Bubble, Shell and Protect. The final chest we want to
farm from though, is a little harder. It is located close to the
southwest end of the West Annex (before the entrance of the narrow
path that leads to Terminus No.7 Adjunct), near a lamppost. It has a
chance (17.5%) of containing the Dragon Mail. This is a heavy armour
with 53 Defence! With this on, you even have a chance against
Cuchulainn. The trouble is, once you start making your way through
West Annex to get to the chest, all hell breaks loose. Dead Bones and
Specters will start spawning constantly, blocking your way,
teleporting and hitting you with all kinds of nastiness. If you want
to survive the trip, when you enter West Annex, cast Shell, Protect
and Bubble on your runner and make sure all your reserves are under
Shell, Protect and Bubble too (you should better do your preparation
at the teleport crystal and save before you attempt this). Now hug the
western end of this area (stay away from the tracks, there will be
more foes spawning there) and make a run for the chest. If it's there
and you get the Dragon Mail, super, return back (bring in some of your
reserves if your first runner dies) to save and the next time, with
the Dragon Mail on, it will be a lot easier. Otherwise soft reset and
try again. Repeat until you have three of them, if you're seriously
thinking about challenging Cuchulainn early.

Obviously, the above armour (Celebran't Miter, Cleric's Robes, Dragon
Mail) is powerful to the point of abuse. You really don't need all
that to advance with the main plot and even for most of the upcoming
Hunts, especially now that you have Belias and your Indigo
Pendant. But if you are planning on tackling the three optional
Espers, Adrammelech, Zalera and Cuchulainn right now, it's a good idea
to get them (and it isn't that hard to obtain them anyway. You just
run and farm a chest, that's all). All of these Espers are tough
customers and you'll barely be able to survive them with you current
levels, so taking care of your Defences is a priority. Know that you
can relatively easily defeat Adrammelech and Zalera even with standard
issue armour from the Rabanastre shop (Golden Armour). Cuchulainn on
the other hand... Just get the Dragon Mails, you'll know when you see
him.

We are essentially done with our farming. The only loose end is the
Deathbringer. This is what lures most players into the Barheim Passage
the first time they play through this game. I admit I've had a soft
spot for this sword for quite some time and usually getting it would
be at the top of my priority list after Raithwall's Tomb. But after I
learned a little bit more about the game mechanics, I can say I am
less enthusiastic about it. If melee weapons are your thing, you
should definitely go for it, it will turn your party into a
powerhouse, especially if you get three of these swords, even if you
know next to nothing about game mechanics... that is until you enter
the Ozmone Plains and find yourselves running for your lives from the
aggroing avians that spawn there.

The Deathbringer is a one-handed sword with 90 ATK and a 10% chance to
inflict instant death (obviously won't work against foes who have
Safety). This looks like a big number and it is. Trouble is, like most
Strength-based weapons at this point, the damage you'll be dealing
with it will be underwhelming because your levels are too low (if
you're still around level 20, or even below that) and your armour
doesn't provide you with enough of a Strength boost to really take
advantage of this great weapon. This is late-game equipment in every
sense of the word.

When it comes to damage dealing, you can try it for yourselves. By now
you can get the Sirius from the Rabanastre shop and Fran has the
Yoichi Bow from the White Mousse Hunt. We also have elemental shot for
Water and Fire, as well as the Fiery Arrows for Fran. Now enter the
Giza Plains and have Fran and Balthier at critical (use Bleed), then
put them under Berserk and have them use the proper elemental
ammo. Water Shot against the Hyenas, Wyrmfire Shot and Fiery Arrows
against the Gigantoads. Balthier will be doing anywhere between 2000
and 4000, and that without getting a critical hit. Fran can get as
high as 6000 if she hits a sleeping Gigantoad (again, without
critical)! And all that just with your crappy pre-Raithwall armour. If
you buy Golden Armour for Fran or give her the Celebrant's Miter
she'll hit even harder against enemies with elemental
weaknesses. Notice that all these attacks are tantamount to
one-hit-kills for all enemies in this region, unless you're stupid
enough to challenge the Entites and Elementals.

In comparison, have Basch with a Deathbringer at critical and
berserked. He'll deal consistently about 3500 damage with his current
level and armour, which is certainly great but again, below the max
you can get even with a standard issue Gun from a shop. Plus, he is
much more prone to draw unwanted attention since he's fighting front
row, while Fran and Balthier can breeze through the place, fighting at
1 HP. Make up your own mind about the utility of a Deathbringer right
now. Not to mention how taxing it's going to be in terms of LP if you
plan to equip it with everyone. Usually your problem at this point is
that you'll get the Deathbringer, then have to wait until you farm the
LP to equip it.

After the above analysis, let's see how you can get your
Deathbringers, should you choose to. This sword is a guarantied steal
from the rare game Ithuno, that spawns in Special Op. Sector 5. As
usual, stealing from a rare game takes a lot of failed attempts, so
the whole point is to somehow survive Ithuno's attacks until you get
the Deathbringer, then run away and save. Thankfully at this point we
have the Thief's Cuffs to help you with the stealing, as they will
increase your chances of getting the sword fast considerably. Still,
it may take several attempts, even if you have three characters with
Thief's Cuffs stealing constantly. I'd say you should be O.K. with
just one Thief's Cuffs but if you want more, go ahead.

I will assume you have the Indigo Pendant, or at least the
Nihopalaoa. If you have any of them, you can easily clear a path
towards where Ithuno is, either using Warp or Niho+Phoenix Down to
kill the Surianders and the turtle. If you don't have the Indigo
Pendant or Nihopapaloa, or don't like the idea of wasting items, you
can just flee all the way to the place north of the turtle, where a
chest usually spawns (foes will usually not follow there and target
you if you sit by the northern wall). Right after the turtle enemy,
you'll find a new Suriander and a rock next to him. Ithuno is a
mimic-type enemy, so he will appear as a silver chest right behind
that rock. He has a 20% chance of spawning for each entry in Special
Op. Sector 5, so it would be a good idea to first keep exiting and
re-entering the area (single zoning) to make him appear.

Now dispose of the Suriander next to the rock. This is the only enemy
you HAVE to kill in this area in order to get the Deathbringer (there
are two more Surianders at the western end, don't worry, if you stay
close to where Ithuno is, they won't bother you). Warp him (or use
Niho+Phoenix Down), then check if Ithuno is there. There's also a
regular chest spawning there, sometimes they both show up. You'll know
which one is Ithuno. Now prepare your team. Put your best combination
of light helm and heavy armour and equip Thief's Cuffs with two
characters. Having a Main Gauche and Golden Shield would also help,
though not necessarily. Set these two characters to just steal and
have Shell and Protect on everyone (and Bubble if you got
it). Finally, bring in one mage with a healing gambit to cast
Cura. Set battle speed to highest and examine the chest to make Ithuno
spawn.

The first thing to do is debuff him. Have one character equip the
Nihopalaoa and throw a Remedy on him. This will inflict Slow and
Blind, both of which will be very helpful. Otherwise have the mage
(with Indigo Pendant) debuff him. Ithuno will start attacking
physically, as well as using his dreaded Leech attack, which sucks
away your HP and heals him. This is dangerous and will drain about
500-600 each time, so you need more than that on your thieves if they
are to survive. Cast Cura after every time he uses that. If somebody
dies, throw a Phoenix Down and Hi-Potion to bring him back to shape,
but the idea is to keep everybody alive for as long as possible. Try
to have Ithuno concentrated on the thieves, while your mage fulfils
his healing duties. Normally you should get your Deathbringer without
having to revive too much. If you see this drag on for far too long
and you start wasting Phoenix Downs and Hi-Potions left and right, I
suggest you soft reset and try again. The difficulty isn't in getting
the Deathbringer, but in doing so as economically as possible. Of
course if you're hellbent on getting the sword, then by all means, do
not hesitate to break the piggy bank.

Now that you're essentially done with all the farming in Barheim
Passage and stocked on gil and equipment, it's time we take care of
the available Hunts and optional bosses. There are 2 optional bosses
we can encounter right away, the Earth Tyrant in the Westersand and
King Bomb in Salikawood, both of which are pretty doable by now. You
can also try to obtain three optional Espers, Adrammelech, Zalera and
Cuchulainn.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: A Ring in the Rain
Croakadile (Rank II) 
HP: 19449 - LV: 24
=======================================

Finally, a somewhat straightforward Hunt after all the pitfalls of
Ring Wyrm, White Mousse and Marilith. Yet, don't let this boss's low
rank fool you, he has some tricks up his sleeve. Still, he is
immensely easy to take care of, even with essentially pre-Raithwall
gear.

Croakadile is the first enemy you'll encounter that tends to use Renew
(restores him back to full HP). This can present a serious
problem. The only way to counteract this is using a Remedy with the
Nihopalaoa, provided the wearer has the Remedy Lore 3 licence, so he
can inflict Croakadile with Disease. This will prevent him from using
Renew, as well as Growing Threat, which he uses at low HP to double
his levels. But you can easily bypass Renew and Growing Threat even
without the Nihopalaoa, if you deal damage fast enough.

You will find him in the Starfall Field of the Giza Plains, next to
the bridge (you'll see no other foes in the area when you've accepted
the Hunt). He always ambushes you, but won't attack if you just flee
back a little. Stay at a distance and wait for his Shell to wear
off. Then hit him with Immobilize (use Indigo Pendant or Niho+Remedy
if you have them). Once immobilized, bring in your attackers, Fran and
Balthier, both of which should be in reserve at critical HP (Bleed)
and Berserked. Balthier should have the Sirius+Wyrmfire Shot (and the
Hermes Sandals), Fran the Yoichi Bow+Fiery Arrows, or even better the
Flame Bow if you bought one from Mosphoran Highwaste. With their
Adrenaline licences on, Croakadile will be dead within seconds.

The Serpent Rod you get is a decent Rod for Penelo, as it boosts her
total MP, but you can get these soon as drops from Vipers on the
Ozmone Plain.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Crime and Punishment
Orthros (Rank V) 
HP: 87141 - LV: 34
=======================================

Aka White Mousse 2.0, Orthros is, along with Gil Snapper and
Trickster, one of the three Elite Marks you have to complete in order
to obtain the loot necessary to unlock the Canopic Jar Bazaar
item. The Canopic Jar costs an unprecedented 250000(!) gil and is a
wholly useless item unless you are desperate to get the Tournesol
(which you can only get much later anyway). Obtaining the Canopic Jar
makes ordinary foes drop occasionally Arcana, and rare games High
Arcana (both can be used as ingredients for the Tournesol).

You'll find him in the same area you fought the three flans earlier in
the game (Southern Sluiceway in Garamsythe Waterway). It is better to
head all the way to East Sluice Control and save there and prepare
your team. You'll also find a candle in the urn near the save crystal
that will complete your map with hidden areas.

In order to make Orthros show up, enter Southern Sluiceway with the
three female characters of your group. Once he spawns, you can switch
in any members you like. He always appears with Shell on, so use an
Alarm Clock with the Nihopalaoa to put him to sleep. After that, it's
business as usual. Summon Belias (Orthros is weak to Fire) and start
cooking. Periodically use Niho+Alarm Clock or cast Sleep (with Indigo
Pendant) when his Shell wears off. Due to his relatively higher HP,
you may need to summon a couple of times more compared to White
Mousse. Otherwise, it's a relatively fast and painless Hunt. Unlike
the Mousse, it won't net you some fancy new weapon.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Paradise Risen 
Gil Snapper (Rank III) 
HP: 86956 - LV: 37
=======================================

The second of the Canopic Jar-related Hunts, Gill Snapper can be a
headache, unless you have obtained Adrammelech. Like most turtle-like
enemies in the game, you want to stay away from him. If you engage him
at close range, he can be deadly, with powerful physical attacks that
will hurt a lot, even if you have a Dragon Mail on. He also has an
annoying elemental-affinity table. He absorbs Ice(?), is weak to
Thunder and halves all other elements (i.e., all elemental weapons and
ammo you have at this point are useless). Obviously, Adrammelech is
your only choice if you want to take advantage of his elemental
weaknesses (you won't get Thundara for some time).

Getting to him is also a headache. You have to go through an entire
sidequest to gain access to the area where he spawns. This is the
Tracks of the Beast area in the Giza Plains (southeast). To enter this
area, you have to create a bridge by cutting down 6 withered trees
that can be found in the various other areas of the Giza Plains (there
is also one in the village and one in the area with the save
crystal). Inspect the trees to cut them down. When you have cut down
all of them, a sound will be heard and you will now be able to cross
the bridge that has been created by the trunks of the withered trees
(at the southeast end of Giza's South Bank).

In the Tracks of the Beast area you can find a couple of chests on the
northwest around a small rock. One of them can give you the Jackboots
(immune to Immobilize) and the other the Black Belt (immune to
Disable). Both are very useful when fighting Cuchulainn, so you might
want to consider farming them. There is also an urn containing the
Feather of the Flock that can be used later in the game to initiate
the cockatrice sidequest.

You will also find the Silicon Tortoise enemies. They are pretty
powerful, but there is a way to handle them quickly. First, they are
susceptible to Sleep. Second, they are weak to Fire. If you have the
Aldebaran+Wyrmfire Shot, Balthier can deal about 7500 against them at
critical and berserked, so he can kill them within 2 hits. They won't
even have the chance to chase you (and they are slow, as usual). Even
with just the Sirius, they fall very fast if you have both Fran and
Balthier at critical and berserked and with the appropriate elemental
ammo. If you want to go all out, they are also susceptible to
Oil. They have the Aged Turtle Shell as a common drop, which sells for
good money (and is also one of the ingredients to unlock the Demon
Shield) and you can easily steal the Officer's Hat, a very good light
helm, particularly if you don't have the Crown of Laurels yet.

If you have accepted the Hunt, you will also find Bansat on site,
another Clan Centurio hunter, to assist you with your task. Having
this kind of allies will be a recurring theme in several Hunts to
come. He is also pretty good at tanking the Gil Snapper, especially
since he is immune to status effects and you definitely want him in
your team. You cannot control Bansat, but you can can target him with
magic or items (press R1 twice for he won't show up on your team list
like regular storyline guests). You can also heal or buff him when
using area spells (like Cura, or using Hastega Motes). He will also
occasionally buff your party members with spells like Shell and
Protect (this can actually be a nuisance if for example you want to
keep some characters under Berserk).

The Gil Snapper usually won't immediately show up the first time you
encounter Bansat. But you can take advantage of his absence and clear
the area of the 4 Silicon Tortoises, as they can be a problem during
the actual Hunt. After clearing the area, start exiting and
re-entering until Bansat tells you that the Gil Snapper is here.

First, wait at a distance for his buffs to wear off (he has Shell,
Protect and Haste). Then use Niho+Remedy with your party leader on the
Gil Snapper. This will inflict several status ailments, the most
important of them being Disease, Blind, Silence and Immobilize. Now
have the leader approach and attack, so that Bansat will follow
suit. This is important because just like Rocktoise, Gil Snapper will
use Purify unless at least one character engages him at close range.

Once Bansat starts attacking, move away and bring in your summoner to
summon Adrammelech. The nice thing with Bansat is that he is present
with you even after the summoning (!) and as long as he keeps
attacking Gil Snapper at melee range, the enemy won't use Purify. Gil
Snapper has Return Damage, so try to keep Adrammelech healthy for the
whole duration of his summoning, occasionally tossing Hi-Potions or
using Cura. Be careful to re-establish Immobilize during this time, if
he gets the chance to get near Adrammelech, he can kill him with his
physical attacks, even blinded.

Adrammelech is ideal for this Hunt, not only will he deal very high
damage quickly (more than 3000 per hit), he will also cast Curaga on
Bansat whenever his HP gets low! Just keep your summoner away, the
turtle immobilized and Adrammelech healthy and you should be able to
kill Gil Snapper within the second summoning.

If you don't have Adrammelech, definitely use Niho+Remedy to inflict
Disease, as this will prevent him from entering pissy-boss mode when
he goes critical (he will resist your attacks and increase his damage
output when this happens). Have Fran and Balthier attacking with their
best ranged weapons and have both Fran and a second mage periodically
healing (both Fran and Balthier are in danger due to Return Damage),
as well as re-establishing Immobilize. Bansat will also occasionally
immobilize Gil Snapper. Use Cura once in a while in order to keep
Bansat in good health, if he goes down you'll have a very hard time
tanking Gil Snapper yourself.

If you finished all of the above Hunts, completing Gil Snapper gives
you the Clan Ranking of Brave Companion and the Clan Provisioner now
sells the great Faith spell (increases spell potency by 30% for
offensive spells and 50% for healing spells), which you'll want to
have as a permanent buff on your mages from now on. Don't worry you
can't get your reward for the Hunt now, you can return later (when the
weather changes and it's again the dry season) to collect.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Earth Tyrant 
HP: 73982 - LV: 30
==========================

If you previously attempted to enter the aptly called Wyrm's Nest area
in the Westernsand (and were hindered by the sandstorm there), you may
have caught a glimpse of a dinosaur-looking being in the
distance. This is Earth Tyrant and now that we've completed
Raithwall's Tomb we can go and confront him.

Getting to him requires you to complete a brief sidequest. First, talk
to Rimzat, the green bangaa sitting outside the Aerodrome in
Rabanastre's west gate. Then go to the fountain in the central plazza
and talk with Cotze. Lastly, you have to find Northon in Rabanastre
Lowtown. Once you're done with that, enter the Westernsand and head to
the small secluded area that is accessible through the northwest exit
of Shimmering Horizons. You'll find a big cactus there, examine it to
get the Wind Globe and return to Rabanastre. Rimzat and the others
will be gathered together outside the Aerodrome. Talking to them
grants you with the Windvane, that will allow you to enter the Wyrm's
Nest and face Earth Tyrant.

Before you meet him, go buy a second Cherry Staff and make sure you
have mystic armour for both Fran and Penelo. If you got Celebrant's
Miters and Cleric's Robes from Barheim Passage this will be dead easy,
but even with the armour from Rabanastre you shouldn't be in
trouble. Also, if you plan on getting that Gnoma Halcyon, now is the
time to do it. After you defeat Earth Tyrant, sandstorms in
Westernsand will be more rare, so spawning Gnoma Entite will become
more difficult.

When you're ready, head to the Corridor of Sand, near the entrance
towards the Wyrm's Nest and bring both Fran and Penelo at critical
(Bleed), watch out for Dustia for it will spawn. Give them their
mystic equipment and Cherry Staves, then put them in reserve and enter
the Wyrm's Nest with only your party leader (Main Gauce, Golden Shield
and Golden Armour, along with a light helm and the Nihopalaoa).

When the battle begins, use an Alarm Clock or Remedy on Earth
Tyrant. He will go to sleep. Then put the Ruby Rings on your leader
(he shouldn't attack the boss), Fran and Penelo and have your mages
cast Aero on themselves. That's pretty much it. He'll be dead before
Sleep wears off. By the way, you can use the same method to quickly
and safely kill those Wild Saurians in the Estersand.

Montblanc will give you 1200 gil for your efforts against the Earth
Tyrant.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: King Bomb 
HP: 37596 - LV: 34
==========================

You may want to go through this boss early, since he guards the
passage towards Nabreus Deadlands and the Necrohol of Nabudis, where
the fabled Zodiac Spear can be found (yes, you can get it right
now). I'm not so interested in the Spear at the moment, as in the
Baknamy merchant that also resides in Nabudis and from which you can
buy Ethers. Also, Nabreus is a place with several high-level enemies
from which we can farm some amazing loot and gear.

King Bomb can be fought in the Grand Bower area of the Salikawood,
next to the teleport crystal. You can reach this place by teleporting
to the Mosphoran Highwaste, then heading north to enter
Salikawood. The path you should follow there is The Omen-Spur->Path of
Hours->Trunkwall Road->Sun-Dappled Path->Garden of Decay->Quietened
Way, heading north. You can just flee through these areas, otherwise
use your Indigo Pendant and Warp to march through them.

When you reach the teleport crystal in Quietened Way, save there and
prepare your team. It is a good idea to buff up everybody with Shell,
Protect and most importantly, Bubble. Regen is also a good idea,
especially for Fran and Balthier (or whoever your DPS for the fight
might be), since King Bomb has Return Damage. The latter also prevents
you from having your attackers at critical to take advantage of the
Adrenaline licence.

One idea is to summon Belias before battle (touch the teleport crystal
to get your MP back) and march with him into Quietened Way. First
enter with only your party leader (do not summon). King Bomb will be
flanked by some ordinary Bomb enemies. If you find yourself ambushed,
you can flee towards the Quietened Way and exit the battlefield (you
can do that), then summon Belias and return. The King Bomb and his
minions may then be further away and you may be able to send Belias
forth without the summoner being noticed. Both the King Bomb and the
minions have physical attacks that are Fire-elemental, as well as
casting Fire-based spells, so the Esper is 100% safe. He will start
hacking through the bombs, which will also eventually use
Self-Destruct and Mass-Destruct (neither of these can hurt
Belias). Once the bombs are out, get close and cast Immobilize on King
Bomb (with Indigo Pendant), then Silence, or use Niho+Remedy (you must
have at least the Remedy Lore 1 licence to inflict
Immobilize). Dismiss Belias before Hellfire, you do not want him
healing King Bomb.

Alternatively, you can start the battle with the party leader wearing
the Nihopalaoa and your mage with the Indigo Pendant. The leader will
use a Remedy on King Bomb, while the mage disposes of the Bombs
casting Warp.

Once Silenced, the boss cannot use his elemental spells, or the Cry
for Help that will summon more minions, so you only have to worry
about his physical attacks. As long as you keep him immobilized,
you're safe, the only way he can hurt you is through Return
Damage. Have your attackers (Fran and Balthier) with their ranged
weapons attacking him while under Berserk. Unfortunately, although
being weak to Water, Balthier won't be doing much damage since the
boss is resistant to Guns. Fran on the other hand will be very
efficient with her Yoichi Bow+Parallel Arrows. Have Penelo ready to
heal your attackers with Cura, as well as maintain Berserk and recast
Immobilize on the King Bomb. Sadly you can't renew the status before
it wears off, so the boss will have the chance to hurt you in the
meantime. Bring in some other party member to do the reviving in this
case. You can also use Niho+Remedy to re-establish Immobilize.

King Bomb may have little HP, but the trouble is he'll use Renew
(damn!) during battle when his HP gets low and no, Silence won't
prevent that. You can win this battle even with standard issue armour
(of course, the Cleric's Robes will help a lot, especially with
keeping Penelo alive), but it will take a while until he stops using
Renew and the battle will drag on, unless you have the Remedy Lore 3
licence on the guy with the Nihopalaoa. This will induce the Disease
status and the boss won't use Renew at all, which will speed things up
considerably. Alternatively, you can attempt using Quickenings when
his HP gets low enough (but before you see him charging Renew) to
finish this quickly. If you get a little lucky with your chain and get
a good Concurrence, you may be able to kill him at once.

If you obtained Zalera already, he can be used quite effectively,
combined with the Niho+Remedy trick. Just as Belias, he is immune to
all attacks from the King Bomb and his minions. A good strategy is to
first use a Remedy on King Bomb to inflict Immobilize and Disease,
then summon Zalera and hit him with Gravity. This will reduce his HP
below 80% and he will start hitting King Bomb with his powerful Shock
spell. The funny thing is, Zalera also takes into account the target's
Disease status and since King Bomb's HP is always at 100% of his max
HP, Zalera won't ever use Condemnation. He will just keep hitting with
Shock, until the Bomb is dead or his time is up. A couple of Zalera
summons will be enough to finish him. It's good to try and maintain
Immobilize, especially between the two summonings. If you keep your
summoner away, the boss will usually target Zalera once Immobilize
wears off, so you will have the chance to safely re-establish the
status. Zalera will receive about 100 Return Damage per Shock cast, so
an occasional Cure should be enough to maintain him for the entire 90
seconds.

You can now proceed to Nabreus Deadlands and the Necrohol of Nabudis
if you like.

RARE GAME ALERT: Spee

By the way, since you are in Salikawood, there is another loot you can
get here that will unlock the Pheasant Netsuke in the Bazaar
(increases potency of all healing items), an indispensable accessory
when fighting the Esper Cuchulainn. You need two Moon Dusts. These are
a guaranteed steal from the rare game Spee. To make him spawn, you
have to the Wyrdhares that appear in the Sun-Dappled Path. Spee will
then (likely, he has a 15% chance of showing up after you kill one
Wyrdhare) show up near one of the dead-ends of the area once you get
close to inspect (he is benign).

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Nabreus Deadlands Farming 
=======================================

Now that King Bomb is dead, you can access the Nabreus Deadlands area,
by following the northwest path past the point where you fought
him. Once you enter Nabreus, in the very first area, you'll find three
Baknamy enemies. These are very dangerous (you'll come to loath the
Backamy) and it is advisable to just set your battle speed to lowest
and flee towards the next area. Otherwise, carefully use Warp against
them (with your Indigo Pendant).

In the next area (The Muted Scrap), you'll find a save crystal. Save
there and also talk to the N'moh who is standing nearby, this is the
beginning of the sidequest that much later will lead us to the Chaos
Esper. Now we want to proceed towards the east, through the Vale of
Lingering Sorrow and into the Echoes of the Past. There are some nasty
traps on the way, keep Libra on, otherwise just stay away of any
enemies, all of them are about level 40 and very dangerous. In the
middle of the Echoes of the Past there will be a big turtle enemy,
walk around it and towards the north to enter the Slumbermead.

You want to cross the bridge on your right, then flee all the way to
the north until you enter the next area, Succor Midst Sorrow. A
teleport crystal is situated here, but don't be fooled, this is
actually a mimic-type enemy and you have to defeat it in order for it
to turn into a proper teleport crystal. It is very powerful and will
hit you with deadly high-level area spells which you cannot
reflect. The best way to take care of it at this point, is using
Quickenings. Examine the crystal to make the foe spawn, then once
targeted, move away towards the bridge to the south. If you stand near
the crossing line, his spells won't be able to reach you. Now bring in
the rest of your party (have all gambits closed), wait until the foe
stops targeting you, then move a little closer and initiate a
Quickening Chain. After that fold back to the bridge and have Basch as
you team leader targeting the mimic. This is the same drill as with
Hunts like Ring Wyrm, you must keep targeting it otherwise it will
gain back its HP. While at a safety distance, have Basch walk until he
gets his Myst Charge (make sure you keep targeting), then once the foe
stops targeting you, get closer again for the next chain. It has a lot
of HP, so it will take several chains before you finally get it.

When you defeat the mimic, use the newly-spawned teleport crystal to
save your game. This is going to be your starting point for most of
the farming in this area, as most of the useful items we want can be
found in the Slumbermead and the Lifeless Strand, directly south and
north of where we are now.

The first thing you will want to get, is the loot for the
Aldebaran+Mud Shot Bazaar package. You need 3 Earth Crystals (you
already have a lot of them if you farmed Gnoma for the Gnoma Halcyon),
4 Ichthon Scales and 3 Silver Liquids. The Ichthon Scales you can
steal from the benign Focalors in the Slumbermead, you'll find a
couple of them once you enter the area from the teleport crystal. It's
a common steal, put your Thief's Cuffs on and you will have them very
soon.

The Silver Liquids are a little trickier to get. They are common drops
from the flan-like Foobar enemies. One of them spawns in the
Slumbermead a little south of the entrance. He will always ambush you
when you get close, but if you move back he won't attack. These are
tough and unfortunately, immune to most status effects, but with a
save crystal right next to you, getting the Silver Liquids shouldn't
be much of a problem.

The best method is probably to use Belias against it. When you first
spawn the Foobar, it will usually have Shell on. Wait for it to wear
off, then inflict it with Blind and then Oil. It will probably try to
attack you, but with Blind on it will most certainly miss and you'll
have enough time to inflict Oil and cross back into Succor Midst
Sorrow. Now summon Belias and buff him up (and your summoner) with
Bubble, Shell and Protect. Touch the crystal to get your MP back and
cross into the Slumbermead to fight the Foobar. Even if it targets
your summoner, it will soon switch to Belias. Keep him alive (the
Foobar can do a lot of damage if it manages to get in a couple of
lucky hits) and he should be able to kill the Foobar before his time
is up. The Foobar will attack with many AoE status spells, which
Belias is immune to, so he can tank very well as long as physical
attacks don't get through and you keep the summoner relatively
away. Use Cura whenever the Foobar deals damage. If the Esper or the
summoner falls, flee back to the teleport crystal, heal and rebuff and
return to finish the job. When you get your loot, cross twice into the
Lifeless Strand, then return for the next Silver Liquid. You'll
probably also get a couple of levels in the process, as most enemies
in this area give tons of EXP. If you get really lucky, you may even
get a Minerva Bustier, one of the best light armours.

With the Aldebaran and the Mud Shot, we finally have a powerful weapon
against Earth-weak enemies (and many of the avians are weak to the
elusive element). Not to mention that Balthier will now be able to
shoot for about 7500(!) at critical with Berserk on against enemies
with elemental weaknesses and hit the damage cap with critical hits.

There are also many other great things to collect in the area, to the
point where it becomes strangely addictive. Let's see what else is
available.

You can steal the Golden Skullcaps, the second best mystic helm in the
game, from the Dead Bones in the Slumbermead. These are the same
enemies as the ones in Barheim Passage, but I consider this a much
better grinding place. Just hug the eastern side and go south until
you find the Dead Bone, steal, flee, zone twice, come back for
more. You can also get the Gigas Hat from them, a high level light
helm. Both are very rare and it may take tenths of attempts, even with
the Thief's Cuffs, until you get your first Golden Skullcap, but it's
definitely worth it. If you have the patience, get two of them for
your two mages.

Next up is the Crown of Laurels, the third best light helm with a huge
+680 HP. You can get these as rare drops from the Crusaders that spawn
in the Vale of Lingering Sorrow. In order to chain them, it is best to
buy a good stock of Chronos Tears and use them with the Nihopalaoa on
them to inflict Stop. They have a lot of HP and high Defence, so use a
couple of Berserked attackers to take them down before Stop wears
off. Try not to aggro more than one at a time and be careful of a
Banshee that spawns towards the northwest of this area. They drop a
lot of EXP, so depending on your thoughts on overlevelling, you may
want to avoid killing a lot of them. It is nice though to have at
least one Crown of Laurels for your team leader, it makes an ideal
complement to the Dragon Mail.

You can also get the loot necessary for the Demon Shield (40 Evasion,
Absorbs Dark), which will dramatically increase your leader's tanking
abilities. We need 2 Aged Turtle Shell (steal from the Emeraldtitans
in the Slumbermead), 8 Destrier Bardings (rare drop from Leynirs in
Lifeless Strand) and one Leamond Halcyon. The Aged Turtle Shells are
easy to get from the Emeraldtitans. The nice thing with the Leynirs is
that they don't have Safety, so you can kill them instantly using a
Phoenix Down, or casting Raise. Be careful with the latter because it
may occasionally fail (Indigo Pendant doesn't seem to help), so be
ready to run back to the crystal if your Raise misfires. Again,
Leynirs give tons of EXP and the fact you need 8 of these things means
you are bound to inadvertently overlevel a bit. The Halcyon you can
get from the Leamond Entite that spawns in the Slumbermead whenever
you see dense fog. Steal, zone once, then try again. It isn't
particularly difficult with the Thief's Cuffs.

The Emeraldtitans also have the Turtleshell Choker as a rare steal, so
you can get one of these as well. These can be very useful during
difficult and prolonged battles, or against enemies that use Fear,
because they allow you to cast magic consuming gil instead of MP.

In case you're thinking about farming the Leynirs for the Destrier
Bardings, know they also have a fabulous rare drop, the Defender Sword
(91 ATK, 25 Evasion Greatsword) and it is relatively easy to get one,
you usually won't have to chain more than 20 Leynirs to get the
Sword. I consider this much easier to get than the Deathbringer and it
will cost you nothing. The Defender is an excellent weapon for Basch
at this point and ideal as a secondary melee weapon later, when you'll
have the Zodiac Spear. You can actually get one, then use it against
the Foobars to obtain your Silver Liquids, it will deal good damage.

Finally, you can get Black Masks (53 Magic Defence mystic helm,
absorbs Dark) as a rare drop from the Banshee. There is one spawning
in the northwest of the Slumbermead, a little farther from the place
where the Foobar is. It is very easy to chain, since it is susceptible
to Immobilize and Disable, so hit it with that and then hack away. I
prefer Immobilize and then using Fran and Balthier at critical and
Berserked. Be careful of accidentally targeting some Focalor nearby
when casting Immobilize or Disable. These are immune to the status and
will aggro.

Generally, the enemies in Nabreus are high level, but you can handle
them provided you don't allow them to ambush you and get advantage of
their status weaknesses. Even the dreaded Baknamy can be Warped, or
you can use Niho+Phoenix Down against them. The most troublesome foe
is probably the Foobar, since you cannot inflict it with many status
ailments. This coupled with the presence of save crystals right next
to the areas where most of the farming takes place makes item and loot
farming in Nabreus a relatively straightforward process and a good
source of EXP.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Necrohol of Nabudis Farming 
=======================================

At this point in the story, the Necrohol of Nabudis is by far the most
difficult dungeon available. Even if you think you can handle Nabreus
relatively easily, once you enter the Necrohol you'll be surprised by
the level of difficulty.

From the very first areas, you'll get ambushed by high level Baknamy
that will attack in great numbers and have insane ability to block and
parry your attacks, especially when they are at critical. Guns can be
VERY useful here, since they cannot block or parry them. The Baknamy
will also combo a lot at low HP. They are weak to Ice, so the best way
of attack is Blizzara and Blizzaga (which you don't have at the
moment), as well as Warp and Niho+Phoenix Down. They are immune to
most status effects. You really don't want to engage them in great
numbers right now.

Next you will encounter the gargoyle-type Elvorets. These too can have
annoying parrying abilities. Thankfully they are also susceptible to
Warp and Niho+Phoenix Down. The kicker is, you can get the
Maximillian, the second best heavy armour in the game (58 Defence) as
a rare drop from them. From my experience, chaining them to force a
Maximillian to drop isn't such a good idea. I typically get one or two
during casual strolls in the Necrohol, just checking configuration and
gambits without an eye on farming. On the other hand, whenever I try
chaining, the item stubbornly refuses to show up. Go figure. And if
you're really mad, you can go for the Grand Armour, the best heavy
armour in the game (61 Defence) right now.

RARE GAME ALERT: Helvinek

Whenever you kill a certain number of enemies in the Necrohol, a
special enemy called Oversoul will spawn. It looks and behaves pretty
much the same as Dustia, only it's more powerful. Gradually Oversouls
will start spawning more frequently. Finally, once you kill the sixth
Oversoul, this fucker will show up. She is around level 50, has a
little over 100000 HP and will hit you like a truck, including nasty
status effects like Disablega. At low levels she will wipe you
out. Helvinek is farmed for the Grand Armour, the best heavy armour in
the game. This is the ONLY way to obtain this armour! But since it is
a (very) rare drop from a rare game, it isn't very easy. Normally once
you kill Helvinek, she won't respawn unless you exit the Necrohol and
return to do the same drill with the six Oversouls. So normally you
cannot chain Helvinek. Thankfully you can use a method similar to
Dustia to make Helvinek respawn immediately. Have her near a crossing
line and when you kill her, quickly grab the loot and cross into the
next area. Helvinek will then reappear and you can continue like
that. Of course this can take forever if you don't have the firepower
to kill her quickly, as well as the spells and accessories to heal
from her attacks. Normally it can take nearly 100 Helvineks to get a
Grand Armour. For sanity's sake, I would advise not to attempt this
until you are close to your 50's in terms of levels and have access to
things like Curaja, Esunaga, Excalibur, Zodiac Spear and the
Ribbon. Besides, the Grand Armour isn't that better than the
Maximillian. And you can buy the latter.

Another enemy you will find is the Babil. You can get the Einherjarium
as a rare steal, as well as a monograph drop from it. It is a
necessary loot to unlock the awesome Cat-Eared Hood in the Bazaar. You
can also get the Runeblade (85 ATK One-Handed Sword) as a rare drop.

Of course, the main reason to enter the Necrohol is to get the Zodiac
Spear. You can actually get it right now and it isn't that hard at
all, provided you just flee through the various areas and don't stay
and fight. Although you probably don't even have the LP to equip it at
this time, unless you LP farm aggressively. Anyway, let's see how you
get the damn thing.

Start at the teleport crystal in Salikawood and buff up your entire
party. Shell, Protect, Bubble and Float. The last one is imperative
since there are some deadly traps on the way. If you don't have Float
yet (it becomes available at Eryut Village), watch your step. Have
also Libra on everyone. Put all characters in reserve except your
first runner, set the battle speed to slowest and enter the Necrohol
from Salikawood, taking the southern exit of the path after the
teleport crystal (not the one you took to enter Nabreus). You will
find yourself in the Hall of Effulgent Light. Start fleeing forward
(west), then head north and then west again down the corridor. Baknamy
will ambush you, just flee as fast as you can. If your runner falls,
bring in one of your reserves and continue. Follow the corridor all
the way to the West, then head south. The exit is at the southeastern
corner of the area.

Now that you entered Cloister of the Distant Song, stay where you are
to revive/heal/rebuff, then continue your run towards the east and
north. Follow the big corridor past the two Babils on your left, then
turn right (east) and climb the stairs towards the Cloister of the
Highborn.

This is the fateful area. Again stop to heal and rebuff. Head east
until you see two Babils on your right, then turn left (north). On
your left you'll soon see a chamber filled with 16 chests. The one
containing the Zodiac Spear is the second from your
left. Congratulations, you just obtained the most powerful ultimate
weapon in the game. Now backtrack to Salikawood to save your game.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Zalera 
HP: 72248 - LV: 40
==========================

Strange as it might sound, you probably want to face Zalera even
before you tackle Adrammelech, despite his considerably higher
HP. First, he mostly uses single-targeting attacks, with the exception
of some status spells and his signature attack, Level Prime Death. He
will only use those late in battle, when his HP is low. Second, just
like many other Espers, he has minions (the dreaded Dead Bones you
encountered already on the way here), but you can avoid spawning them
(you can't do this with Adrammelech). These two characteristics render
the battle considerably easier defence-wise than Adrammelech.

The downside, is that there is a timer for the battle and should you
fail to finish Zalera within the 5 minute limit, you are automatically
thrown out of the arena (you won't get a game over). This raises the
question of offence. Your firepower at this point is not what it takes
to defeat him that fast.

You will find him in the westernmost part of the Barheim Passage,
Terminus No. 7. The journey there is no joke either (it's probably
more dangerous than the Esper himself). You have to traverse the West
Annex, following the narrow trail that started near the place where
the Dragon Mail chest was. I suggest you just run until you enter the
next area, Terminus No. 7 Adjunct. You will be ambushed by hoards of
Dead Bones and Specters that will wipe you out if you try to face
them, even if you have the Dragon Mails on. In Terminus No. 7 Adjunct
you'll thankfully find a save crystal right before Zalera to heal your
team and prepare.

Once you enter the battle, you'll find Zalera sitting in the middle of
the circular area. He will start with Defence on, which increases his
Defence stat by 80 to a startling 103. Ordinary weapons won't
penetrate his Defence (unless you get lucky with some Axes, that do
random damage) and you don't want to go near him anyway. If you step
into the circle, Dead Bones will spawn and then it's over. What you
have to use as opening attacks are Guns, technicks like Horology and
Traveler, the Cura spell (he is undead, so curative spells will damage
him), Potions and Hi-Potions (without the Nihopalaoa) and Knots of
Rust. Note that Zalera has Reflect on, so the only way to hit him with
spells is to have Reflect on your team, then cast Cura on yourself. He
is immune to all elements anyway. After you do some damage, Zalera
will snap out of Defence mode and get close to start his attack. That
way you can lure him away from the Dead Bones-spawning area. If you
keep engaging him on the circumference, you won't spawn any of
these. Also, do not bother with summoning other Espers against him, he
will just cast Death and kill them instantly.
 
Zalera will begin hitting you with his physical attack, that hurts a
lot, even if you have a Dragon Mail on and can inflict you with
Confuse (don't worry about dispelling it, the targeted character will
most likely be dead very soon). He will also use Kill, which is
equivalent to the Death spell (he uses that one too at lower HP). It
has 100% success rate, unless you are under Shell. Remember that Magic
Shield from the Wyvern Lord Hunt? It'll find significant use in this
battle.

Note that your levels will affect many of Zalera's attacks, as they
tend to be level-related. At lower HP, he may use Level 2 Sleep, Level
3 Disable, Level 4 Break and Level 5 Reverse. It is advisable not to
have all party members aligned level-wise, so you can spread the
damage, or alternatively, try to align everyone on a specified level
that will render harmless as many of his attacks as possible. You can
nullify level 2 Sleep by equipping Nishijin Belts (buy from the
merchant in the Mosphoran Highwaste) once you see Zalera charging the
attack. Break isn't so bad, you'll probably be dead anyway before you
even get a chance of being petrified, Reverse can even be of help, if
you don't have any healing gambits on. Disable can be a problem. The
only way to prevent it is farm a chest on the Giza Plains for Black
Belts that immunize against it, or try not having more than 1 member
in your party that is susceptible to it (given your levels, the
dangerous ones are 18 and 21). Finally, Level Prime Death will kill
everyone with prime levels (17, 19, 23 are at risk), but may miss even
without Shell on. I consider the best choices to be fighting him
either at level 16 or 18. The latter is probably the best, since you
can immunize against all of his level attacks by equipping Nishijin
Belts and Black Belts.

Many suggest putting your Ruby Rings on and have everyone casting Cura
on themselves. This may be a good strategy if you have higher levels,
but at the moment it won't help you that much. You probably do not
have the Warmage licence, or Serenity and the Faith spell, or
Swiftness licences. The lack of all these means that Cura won't make
much damage fast and your MP will soon be depleted. Also, hitting
Zalera with spells like Cura and Balance (Balance can do very good
damage now that you have the Indigo Pendant and Bubble) seems to
induce him to use Enrage immediately, so he will start attacking you
after your first cast.

What I consider the most plausible low-level strategy (even if you are
about 16-17), especially if you don't want to go farming for the
Dragon Mail and mystic armour in the Barheim Passage, is the
following: Buy the Sirius from Rabanastre and give it to Balthier,
along with Onion Shot (elemental ammo is useless against
Zalera). Balthier's armour won't matter, but give him the Hermes
Sandals. Before the battle, have a mage bring Balthier to critical
(Bleed), then cast Berserk on him and put him in reserve. You will use
Fran and Penelo as mages throughout the battle. Have two sets of
Feathered Caps and Traveler's Vestments, along with the Indigo
Pendant. Their gambits should be:

Fran/Penelo: 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down 
Self -> Shell 
Balthier ->Berserk 
Balthier -> Bleed

Anybody you use throughout the battle should have an Ally: any ->
Phoenix Down at the top of his gambits list. Cast Shell and Bubble on
everyone beforehand. Now enter the area where Zalera is with only your
team leader (Vaan or Ashe), wearing the Magic Shield, the best light
helm you have available (Balaclava or Green Beret if you bought one)
and a Golden Armour. Main Gauche won't help, Zalera ignores your
Evasion. Equip some other non-elemental one-handed weapon (Axe if you
have the licence). The moment your character shows up on the
battlefield, bring in Balthier and approach a little. Stay on the rim
of the circle and start attacking Zalera with Knots of Rust and/or
Horology. Balthier will start snipping, staying behind your team
leader and with Adrenaline+Berserk he'll be able to deal about 1000
per hit and near 2000 when he gets critical hits. Unfortunately,
Zalera starts the battle with Protect on, but as this wears off after
a while, you'll be dealing more damage soon. The nice thing about this
strategy is that 1) you avoid spawning the Dead Bones, 2) Zalera will
just stay there and get pummelled for a while, without
responding. Eventually, when you deplete about 20% of his HP, he will
use Enrage. At this point, bring in one of your mages (with the Indigo
Pendant on) and have her sit on the rim of the circle next to your
leader, give the leader the Nihopalaoa and use immediately a Remedy on
Zalera to inflict him with Blind and Slow, which will help a lot
(remember to remove the Nihopalaoa right after that).

Zalera will start attacking the two characters closest to him (your
mage and leader) and leave Balthier alone, so it is important to keep
these alive, far more important than actually attacking Zalera. Once
Zalera comes near you, you can switch your leader to attack if you
like, but the bulk of the damage you deal will come from Balthier,
unless you got that Deathbringer. Put also a Self -> Hi-Potion gambit
on him, his high HP will allow him to survive a physical attack if
Zalera hits him (your mage probably will be K.O.d instantly, so
there's no point for such a gambit). Zalera will try to hit you with
his physical attack (and miss a lot since he's under Blind), as well
as spam Kill. As both your front-men are under Shell, he only has 50%
chance of success (don't kid yourselves, this is still pretty
high). With this configuration, Zalera will kill one of the two, the
other will resurrect him, then the second character will die and be
resurrected and so on, with the boss switching targets between the
two, never having a chance to target Balthier. If Slow wears off, try
to use Niho+Remedy again to re-establish it. This way you can quickly
get him down to about 20% HP, within the first 3 minutes of the
battle.

When Zalera's HP is about 20%, he will use Level Prime Death, so
beware and switch out party members if they have prime levels. After
that, things will become pretty rough, since Zalera will now start
targeting indiscriminately, including Balthier who will most likely be
K.O.d. His Defences will also increase dramatically, to the point
where even Balthier won't be able to deal more than about 400 per
hit. He will also start using his level-whatever spells against you,
equip accessories accordingly once you see him charging them, then put
your previous accessories on (you need Indigo Pendant and Hermes
Sandals on always). You can try switching in Basch in place of your
party leader and give him a good Axe, the Golden Armour and Magic
Shield and have him attack to increase your damage output somewhat. If
you get a little lucky and Zalera misses Balthier a lot, or keeps
casting spells you can counteract, you can actually even get him
without resolving to Quickenings. If on the other hand he starts using
Stop...

I'd say the best thing to do is deal some more damage using
conventional weapons past the point when he first used Level Prime
Death, then start a Quickening Chain. He should be at about 10000 HP
by then, which means that you can even kill him with a single
Concurrence. If he's still standing after that, bring in one of your
reserves and hit him with a chain again. I'd say the above method is
pretty much sure-fire, although it cannot guarantee you won't have to
use some Quickenings near the end, when Zalera will be in pissy-boss
mode. It isn't such a challenge though. I wouldn't consider it harder
than killing that Cluckatrice at low levels. In fact, done right, it's
probably easier.

If you ventured as far as Jahara and have Larsa in your team, he can
be of great help, just as in the Adrammelech battle. Larsa will
routinely use his unlimited supply of Hi-Potions and X-Potions to keep
your party healthy, giving you more turns to attack and reducing the
healing items you spend (note that this may be counter-productive if
you use the above strategy, as he'll tend to use Potions on Balthier
too).

Now that you obtained Zalera, you have in your possession an
invaluable asset. Zalera will be useful all the way up to and
including your endgame. He is by far the best of the level-1 Espers,
far superior than Belias and Adrammelech and the fact you can have him
so early in the game makes him even more of a bargain. First, Zalera
is immune to all elements and absorbs Holy. If you're up against a foe
dealing in big elemental spells, Zalera will breeze through them. His
physical defences are also higher than Belias's and Adrammelech's (but
still, not spectacular). Second, his final attack is the most powerful
one at this point. It is also the first that is a little trickier to
trigger. Zalera will use his Condemnation final attack only if the
target's HP is below 30%. This makes him ideal as a finishing move
against bosses and Hunts that raise insane Defences when low on
HP. Condemnation is considered magical attack, so it can't be blocked
unless the foe is using a magic paling. What Condemnation does is that
it deals damage equal to the targets max HP. But unfortunately it has
a 9999 damage cap. Even like that, if you summon Zalera against a boss
with less than 30% HP, he will deal 9999, which is pretty good,
especially at a time when you'll have a lot of trouble damaging the
foe with ordinary attacks. Condemnation also charges very fast,
immediately after you summon Zalera or the target's HP goes below 30%.

Zalera is also pretty good for strolling through dungeons and areas
solo. He will routinely use Kill (the move he had been spamming
against you during your battle) on anything in sight to instantly kill
with 100% success rate, unless the target is under Shell or has
Safety, so Kill is a better move than Condemnation against ordinary
foes, especially avians who can be tough opponents. Bear in mind
though that Kill won't drop any loot, EXP, LP or Clan Points, but it's
also a nice way of going through difficult areas without
overlevelling. This also causes a problem. Zalera's gambits won't
distinguish between foes with Safety and those susceptible to Kill. So
if you find yourself in an area with a lot of undeads (who usually
have Safety), do not use him, or he'll start spamming Kill
unsuccessfully. This is also a problem in fights with bosses and Hunts
(all have Safety), if the target is above 30% HP, but there is a way
around that.

The attacks Zalera will use depend on his (and in the case of
Condemnation, the target's) HP. If he is above 80%, he'll only use
Kill. But if you bring him below that, he'll start casting Shock, a
powerful non-elemental spell. So you now have one non-elemental spell
in your arsenal (you get non-elemental spells VERY late in the game)
and the way to trigger this is to either have the target attack Zalera
and cause enough damage for him to start using Shock, or attack Zalera
yourself. Since his Defences are very high compared to your weapons,
the only way to do (controllable) damage is Guns or technicks, as well
as spells like Balance and Gravity. But soon we'll have access to
Measures, that also deal fixed damage ignoring Defences and will be
mighty useful in prepping Zalera (as well as other Espers) for max
efficiency.

When Zalera isn't engaged by foes, he'll cast Holy on himself (he
absorbs it) to return to full HP, so he's low maintenance. Also,
unlike your battle with him, you can now use healing items and spells
to cure him. Finally, he is perhaps the best Esper to syphon from. He
has a lot of MP available and you can easily summon him, use Syphon
and get a good deal more MP than it cost. This will make him very
useful once we get the Syphon spell (which won't be long). You'll then
be able to initiate the "Zalera loop", where you keep summoning him
against a boss with HP<30%, syphon him before he charges Condemnation
(yes, you can do that), then summon again, dealing tens of thousands
of damage.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Adrammelech 
HP: 39630 - LV: 39
==========================

Adrammelech is supposed to be the "easiest" of the optional Espers in
the game and perhaps the first you might run into, even accidentally
(given that the enemies in the Zertinan Caverns are not as hard as the
ones in the Barheim Passage). The fact that his HP is relatively low,
especially compared to Zalera's, makes it possible to settle this by
just using Quickenings. However, there are many aspects of this battle
that render it a challenge at these levels, especially if you're
willing to stand and fight instead of just spamming Quickenings.

The first problem is the minions. The place where Adrammelech is
fought is filled with Shambling Corpses that will keep spawning during
the battle and will quickly overwhelm you, even without the added
strain of Adrammelech's attacks. Unlike the case of Zalera, there is
no way to avoid the Shambling Corpses, they always spawn no matter
which particular position you choose to make your stand. There are
some ways around them though.

The second obstacle is Adrammelech's attack pattern. He is big on
Thunder-elemental spells and he will use area spells against your
party that can easily wipe you out if left unchecked. Also, being an
elemental Esper like Belias, he has a big attack called Thundaja that
will hit everybody and do tremendous Thunder-elemental damage, as well
as potentially inflicting you with Stop. Not only that, he also has a
powerful physical attack that will probably one-hit-kill your mages,
even with the Cleric's Robes, if they don't have Bubble. So the
problem arises of combining high Magic Defence to endure the Esper's
spells with good Evasion and Defence to survive the physical attacks.

Know beforehand that things like Golden Armours and Feathered Caps are
no match for Adrammelech, unless you just plan to survive long enough
to deliver your Quickening Chains. Celebrant's Miter, Cleric's Robes
and the Dragon Mail are almost imperative if you want to engage him in
conventional combat. Just reviving won't do like it did with
Zalera. You need buffs on your team on a permanent basis and their HP
close to max if you plan on staying alive for long.

Very late in the game you can get the Rubber Suit, one of the high
level light armours that grants you complete immunity against Thunder
damage. The same holds for the Zodiac Eschutcheon, one of the best
shields in the game. You can get one Rubber Suit now through the
Bazaar, but getting it involves farming for a rare drop from the
Lindbur Wolf (the same rare game we got the Glaudius from) and this
may take considerable time.

One way of dealing with the Shambling Corpses is to have a guy using
the Nihopalaoa during battle and whenever one of them pops up, use a
Cronos Tear (you can buy these on Mosphoran Highwaste) on them, which
will inflict Stop for the next 90 seconds. Obviously, it is a good
strategy provided you have enough firepower to finish Adrammelech
quickly.

Another solution is to clear the area of all the Shambling Corpses
before engaging the Esper. This can actually be done, because just
like with King Bomb, you are free to exit the battle area and return
whenever you like. When you first enter Arthroza Quicksands (the area
where Adrammelech is), you can flee towards the Undershore region,
before the Esper and the Corpses attack you. You can then return and
start clearing the enemies that will start spawning near the crossing
line. Equip your Ruby Rings, the Corpses cast level-2 reflectable
magic, so you can have all their spells bouncing back at them and
killing them faster. They will unfortunately inflict you with statuses
like Sleep, Slow, Blind and Poison. Whenever you see your team being
in bad shape, just cross the line towards the Undershore, heal and
rebuff, then return. If you feel you cannot handle them, use
Niho+Cronos Tears on them, or cast Disable (with Indigo Pendant), then
hack them down. If you got power armour in the Barheim Passage, put it
on, otherwise you'll have a hard time keeping up with all the damage
you'll be receiving. Occasionally you'll see Adrammelech coming, when
this happens, cross immediately. When you return, the Esper will
probably not be there and you can continue your work on the
minions. You'll have to kill around 12-15 of these foes before they
stop spawning. You can also level up a bit in the process and perhaps
also get their rare drop, the Platinum Dagger (66 ATK). Once you're
sure they stopped spawning, return to the Undershore to prepare your
team for the fight with Adrammelech, alone.

Adrammelech is the only flying Esper. He is weak to Ice, absorbs
Thunder (obviously) and is immune to all other elements, so equip your
ranged weapon characters (Fran and Balthier) with non-elemental
ammo. All his spells will penetrate Reflect, so forget about equipping
Ruby Rings. What you want is maximize your Magic Defence, so things
like the Dawn Shard and the Manufactured Nethicite, along with the
Shell Shield will come in handy. Give your party leader (Vaan or Ashe)
the Main Gauche, Shell Shield, Celebrant's Miter, Dragon Mail and the
Nihopalaoa. You may have to farm LP to give him all these things. Fran
can do the most damage at the moment with the Yoichi Bow+Parallel
Arrows. Give her Celebrant's Miter, Cleric Robes (Dragon Mail if you
can find the LP) and the Dawn Shard, this will increase her Magic
Defence to 70(!). Similarly for Balthier, Sirius+Onion Shot,
Celebrant's Miter and the Dragon Mail, or the best light armour you
can get plus the Hermes Sandals. Buff up everyone before battle with
Shell, Protect and Bubble.

When you finally engage, have the leader with the Nihopalaoa approach
Adrammelech (alone) and once he targets you, bring in Fran and
Balthier, then use a Remedy on the Esper to inflict him with Blind and
Slow. After that, switch the Nihopalaoa for the Manufactured
Nethicite. If you're lucky, he'll start attacking the leader, who will
mostly be able to block his attacks. Spread out your team so his area
spells won't affect everybody. Have the leader use Hi-Potions when
needed. Fran is the most resilient against Adrammelech's spells (Flash
Arch and Thundara will hardly do more than 100 damage with 70 Magic
Defence), the leader against his physical attacks. If Balthier gets
targeted by a spell, switch the Manufactured Nethicite to him. When
your buffs start to wear off, switch the leader for a mage (Penelo) to
re-establish them. Probably also give a gambit for that to Fran as
well, if she has the MP.

When you reduce his HP below 50%, Adrammelech will hit you with
Thundaja. If it finds you without Shell and Bubble on, your chances of
survival are very small, given that your normal HP is below 1000
(unless you have purchased the necessary augments already). It is a
good idea to switch out Fran and Balthier when you are close to 50%
HP, then have the leader chip away the remaining HP using Horology,
Knots of Rust or Niho+Hi-Potion, until Adrammelech unleashes
Thundaja. That way you can minimize the damage. If everyone falls,
bring in your reserves to do some reviving. Adrammelech will probably
raise his paling now, granting him immunity against all attacks. It
doesn't last long, so just try to endure it and keep your HP up. Use
Niho+Remedy again to re-establish Slow when his paling goes down. When
you have the chance, bring in the original characters and continue
attacking with Fran and Balthier. The Esper's Defences will eventually
increase. It is time to use a Quickening Chain to try and finish him
off.

Bellow 50% Adrammelech will use his physical attack much less
frequently (which is good) and will start spamming his area spells, as
well as try to inflict you with Sap, so if you have Quasimodo Boots
with you, put them on whenever he targets with that. If he misses, or
you dispel the status with a Remedy, he will try to hit you again with
it and thus you can make him waste some turns.

If you already got Zalera, it may be a good idea to use him now, if
you believe Adrammelech is below 30% HP. His Condemnation will deal
9999 if his HP isn't very low (Adrammelech will cap all damage, except
Quickenings, at 6999 when he is at critical). A couple of successful
summons should be enough at this point.

The most effective strategy, is to have Fran and Balthier deplete the
Esper's HP, while your leader tanks. When you get him close to 50% HP,
start a Quickening Chain with your current group. After that
Adrammelech will be at about 25% HP and will hit you with Thundaja
immediately. It is advisable not to survive it, in fact, remove all
the items that boost your Magic Defence as soon as you finish your
Quickening Chain. Then, bring in your reserves and start another chain
right away. With a little luck, this should be enough to kill him,
without giving him the chance to raise his paling.

Alternatively, have Fran and Balthier at critical and berserked in
reserve. Engage with your leader (having Bubble and the Shell Shield)
using Niho+Remedy and when he draws Adrammelech's attention, bring in
Fran and Balthier and move your leader away from them, so the Esper
won't hit them with any area spells. They will quickly deplete the
target's HP, while he targets your leader (switch constantly between
Shell Shield and Golden Shield depending on the attack and keep the
Manufactured Nethicite on), who uses Horology and Hi-Potions to stay
at max health. When Adrammelech is near 50%, switch out Fran and
Balthier and have your leader hit with Horology or Knots of Rust until
he uses Thundaja (have the Shell Shield and the Manufactured Nethicite
on, as well as the best mystic helm he can use). If he is near max
health, he should survive Thundaja and avoid Stop (because of
Shell). After that Adrammelech will raise his paling. Heal and have
him chase you around, so he'll land less hits. When his paling is down
again, bring back Fran and Balthier. If you manage to keep Adrammelech
occupied with your leader for just a few seconds (unfortunately he is
now more prone to switch between targets than before, just like
Zalera), they will be able to get his HP below 30%. Now bring in your
summoner (she should be in reserve with Shell and Bubble on) and
summon Zalera. Have the summoner run away from Adrammelech as Zalera
charges Condemnation. With a little luck, you can finish him with a
couple of summonings without using Quickenings. These strategies work
even with standard issue armour (but it is advisable to use the Yoichi
Bow and Sirius as weapons). Of course, if you got better equipment
from Barheim Passage and Nabreus (like the Aldebaran or Golden
Skullcaps), it will only make things easier.

You can of course choose to go the Quickening way, which is probably
the most practical, particularly if you're lacking in the armour
department. Make sure all your characters have one Myst Charge (Penelo
has 3). Enter the battle, use Niho+Remedy on Adrammelech to inflict
Slow and Blind, then start a Quickening chain (if you have Penelo in
the group, start with a level 1 Quickening, so you'll get at least the
Inferno Concurrence). When done, switch one member for one of your
reserves (provided you're not being targeted by an area spell) and
unleash a second Quickening chain. Continuing this way, you can get up
to 4 chains before your MP is up. If Adrammelech is still standing,
use Ether on Basch. If he is around level 16/17, he can get a Myst
Charge with one Ether. This is probably the easiest way of defeating
Adrammelech.

Be careful of those Shambling Corpses once the Esper is yours. If they
still spawn, you can get a game over if your party is badly battered
by the fight.
  
Adrammelech is a valuable ally at this point, certainly a better
fighter than Belias and his elemental immunities make him very
survivable against enemies that spam powerful elemental spells. A nice
application is using him to dispose of the Bull Croc and Aeros, that
occasionally spawn in the area where the Enkelados Hunt is
situated. Bull Croc can wipe out your team with his powerful Screwtail
attack, which is Wind-elemental. Adrammelech on the other hand will
get zero damage due to his elemental immunity. He can also be very
effective during the Gil Snapper Hunt.

Unfortunatelly, he is nowhere near the utility and power of Zalera. He
may be useful in some cases where you have trouble triggering Zalera's
Shock, or against enemies that are weak to Thunder, but other than
that, Zalera is simply put much better offense-wise and with better
elemental immunities and physical resistance. Plus, he is probably
easier to obtain than Adrammelech.

Later, when we are in the Paramina Rift and a lot of the foes there
will be weak to Thunder, Adrammelech can be useful. His final attack
is triggered the same way as with Belias. It deals heavy
Thunder-elemental damage. He is also very concerned about the
summoner's health, casting Curaga on him whenever the summoner's HP
goes below 50%, even mid-battle. Finally, against enemies that absorb
Thunder he will use Bio, a non-elemental spell that also inflicts Sap,
so you now have access to a second non-elemental spell.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Cuchulainn 
HP: 126165 - LV: 45
==========================

Yeah, if you thought Adrammelech was hard at these levels, Cuchulainn
will seem damn nearly impossible! The fat guy just won't give you a
break: He has tons of HP, he is immune to ALL status ailments, he is
resistant to Guns, he halves damage from ALL elements. And he has some
deadly minions. And as if all of the above wasn't enough, during the
battle there is an HP draining field that works like Sap on steroids
and which can (and will) kill you. It's that bad. Seriously,
Cuchulainn when first available gets my vote for hardest Esper battle
and in general, hardest boss/Hunt/Esper in the entire game! Ultima or
Zodiark are a joke compared to that!

Apart from the obvious problem (staying alive), you are also faced
with the question of offence, which is more of an issue than in any
previous Esper battle. If you're still hovering at about level 20 (or
even below that), your offensive skills against this foe are
laughable. You'll be dealing damage so slowly, your healing needs will
soon overwhelm your item reserves. This leaves only two options at
this point: Quickenings and Gil Toss (if you ventured up to Jahara).

The most efficient strategy, no matter how much you dislike the idea,
is to get about 30 Ethers (more if you have the money) from the
Baknamy merchant in Nabudis and settle this just by using
Quickenings. If Basch has above 50 MP at this point, give him enough
Ether Lores so he can gain a full Myst Charge with only one
Ether. That way you can have him pumping Ethers and going for one
chain after the other. It may also be a good idea to have a second
character with Ether Lores who can get a Myst Charge with a single
Ether, but it can be done with just Basch.

Gil Toss requires a lot of farming at this point, both in terms of
gil, as well as in terms of LP and gear. In order for Gil Toss to do
serious damage, your characters' HP should be as high as possible. You
need to farm enough LP to gain as many HP+ augments as you can, as
well as get those Crown of Laurels from the Crusaders in Nabreus and
even better, the Minerva Bustiers from the Foobars. Bubble is a
necessity, but not using Bubble Belts. You will get hit by a plethora
of status ailments throughout the battle and you'll need to constantly
switch accessories.

No matter what you choose to do, you need the Pheasant Netsuke. Your
team leader will use that to toss Hi-Potions and Phoenix Downs. He
should have ALL Phoenix and Potion Lores for this fight. You can't
keep up with your healing needs using spells at this point, it's that
simple.

To access Cuchulainn's lair, you have to use the key you got from the
White Mousse Hunt. Head to Overflow Coaca of the Garamsythe
Waterway. You'll see four switches near the save crystal. These are
sluice gate switches. They can be used to flood or drain the No. 10
Channel, No. 3 Cloaca Spur, No. 4 Cloaca Spur and No. 11 Channel
areas.

We now have to solve a little puzzle. First, switch on the No. 3 and
No. 10 gates (the two western areas on your map). This will drain the
No. 3 Cloaca Spur. You now have to enter this area and activate a
further switch there, at the southwest end. There are difficult foes
here, set your battle speed to slowest, buff up your party and use one
runner at a time to flee all the way to the switch, activate it, then
turn back.

Do the same with the switches for the No. 4 and No. 11 areas. Since
you cannot have more than 2 switches open at the same time, close the
No. 10 switch and then activate the No. 11 one. Finally close the
No. 3 switch and activate No. 4. So now you have the switches for
No. 4 and No. 11 areas open and the No. 4 Cloaca Spur is drained. Head
there towards the southeast end to activate a second switch.

To unlock Cuchulainn's area, you must now switch off No. 11 and
activate the No. 3 switch. It is advisable to buff up your team and
save before you do that, as Cuchulainn is supposed to disappear 75
seconds after you activate the proper switches.

Buff up everyone with Bubble, Shell, Protect and Regen (the latter
will help counteract the HP draining field a little). Do that for your
entire team, but use the characters with the most HP as your first
party. And of course include Basch. The leader should have the
Pheasant Netsuke, everyone else Bubble Belts, just in case Bubble
wears off mid-battle, or the Black Belts. Use these Dragon Mails you
got (the added Strength means your Quickenings will be more effective)
and the Crown of Laurels on everyone. Your gambits will be very
simple:

Party Leader: 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down 
Ally: HP<50% -> Hi-Potion
(Start with HP<30% when you have Bubble on, then switch to HP<50%,
otherwise you will burn through your Hi-Potion supply very quickly)

Basch: 
Ally: (insert your leader's name) -> Phoenix Down 
Self -> Ether

Third Character: (Optional) 
Ally: (insert your leader's name) -> Phoenix Down 
Self -> Ether

The third person should do nothing. Have no offensive gambits on
anyone. Now use one of your reserve party and head south in the No. 1
Cloaca Spur, which is now accessible. You will find an open gate at
the end, leading to an open rectangular area. Buff this character up
again, put him in reserve and bring in your leader and enter the
battlefield. Oh yeah, and SET YOUR BATTLE SPEED TO SLOWEST!

The first thing you have to do, is head to the recess on the left,
avoiding the middle of the area. Once your leader is there, bring in
the rest of your party and position them there too. If you stay in the
recess, you can avoid spawning the Foobars (Cuchulainn's minions) for
a while, possibly for the entire battle. Then start a Quickening Chain
with Basch. Once this is done, your gambit will restore Basch's MP and
you'll be ready to initiate the second chain.

Until this happens, monitor Cuchulainn's actions. If he readies some
status ailment, equip the appropriate accessory. Not only will this
nullify the attack, it will also buy you time, because every time you
switch gear on a character, his ATB gauge gets cleared and thus you
gain about a second that normally intervenes between the completion of
an action and the beginning of the new one. This is a tried and true
method in low level challenges and it will help a lot also here.

The one status you should be most mindful of is Disablega, which can
really be a killer. I hope you farmed for these Black Belts on the
Giza Plains, but you can actually survive Cuchulainn even without
them. The trick is to leave the guys hit with Disable gradually die,
then bring in the reserves as each one of them is K.O.d and revive the
dead ones while in reserve. Remember to switch the Pheasant Netsuke to
a new party leader if your first one got hit by Disable.

Of the other status ailments, Slowga is irrelevant (you're using items
with 0 CT), Immobilizega is actually beneficial (keeps you in one
place, less of a chance of accidentally spawning the Foobars), Toxify
causes Poison which isn't much of a problem. Bio can be dangerous,
mainly because of the Sap effect it will cause, equip Quasimodo Boots
when you see it coming. Don't waste time dispelling, you want to be
over with this asap. Just pump your Hi-Potions and Ethers and spam
those Quickenings. At low HP, Cuchulainn will spam Invert, which
coupled with the HP draining field is tantamount to instant
death. Don't worry about it, as the Pheasant Netsuke will bring the
fallen character back to full health. He will eventually fall. It will
probably require about 20 Ethers if you only use one on Basch each
time (more if you use one with a second character).

It is also a good idea to have your summoner in reserve. I suppose you
already have Zalera if you're going after Cuchulainn, so he can be of
use. When you have him below 30% HP, bring in your summoner when you
get the chance and summon Zalera. It seems Cuchulainn will almost
always target the Esper and he generally doesn't have much of a
problem surviving until he triggers Condemnation, especially if the
enemy uses a status spell. Unfortunately, Cuchulainn will cap
Condemnation damage at 6999 at low HP, but even so, you can deal more
than 20000 with three summonings.

With the above method you can defeat the Esper even as low as level
16/17 (usually your levels right after Raithwall's Tomb) without even
having Black Belts (if you're wondering, I kept my levels that low
using Fireflies after Raithwall's Tomb. Otherwise you're bound to
level up considerably when you farm for Crown of Laurels in
Nabreus). It can be done, but requires a little bit of luck with your
Quickening Chains (obviously) and some patience, this battle takes a
while.

The other strategy is similar to the above, you just add Foe: nearest
-> Gil Toss gambits to everybody and remove the Ether
gambits. Provided you have the nearly 130000 gil required to kill
Cuchulainn, you should be fine. In comparison, 20 Ethers cost about
4500 gil... But Gil Toss is definitely the fastest route available.

I'll be honest, Cuchulainn is among my least favorite Espers. He
requires a whopping 2 Myst Charges to summon at a point in the game
where the lack of the Syphon spell renders such MP consumption
impractical and potentially dangerous in battle (even when you have
Syphon, the fact he has Shell on makes it hard to get your MP
back). The only way to use him efficiently is to summon him before
battle, if you have a save crystal right before the boss/Hunt. Or you
can just pump Ethers, you can buy them now, might as well put them to
good use.

His damage output is also somewhat of a disappointment compared to his
MP needs. He is the only Esper that deals primarily in physical
attacks, and since he has Bravery as a permanent buff, they can hit
hard, but not fast enough and in general, elemental Espers and Zalera
can deal more with their spells if used against element-weak enemies
or the foe is oiled/asleep. Cuchulainn can be useful all around, but
he cannot take advantage of enemy weaknesses. His Blight final attack
(triggers the same way as Belias and Adrammelech) is non-elemental,
but the damage level unspectacular, especially compared to Zalera.

Where Cuchulainn really excels, is tanking. He comes with a host of
protective buffs on (Shell, Protect, Reflect). He will do anything in
his power to keep his HP at maximum. If he receives any damage, he
will switch from physical attacks into using Malaise, a magical attack
that absorbs HP from the target and heals Cuchulainn. This can
actually be a further hindrance to his damage output, since Malaise
takes even longer to cast than his physical attacks. But generally,
Cuchulainn is more suited for tanking, not fighting. Even his
positioning on the Licence Board suggests that he is more meant to be
used along with a thief/leader/fighter character instead of a
mage/summoner, since he knows how to take care of himself and distract
the boss while the summoner assumes DPS duties, perhaps using a ranged
weapon to deal damage while Cuchulainn takes all the beating. The fact
he also has Reflect on makes it hard to buff him up with spells like
Haste or Bubble, unless you got the Opal Ring from the Bombs in the
Zertinan Caverns. At the end of a fight (when no foe is around) he
will use Curaja to heal himself and the summoner.

Cuchulainn is the only Esper I would seriously consider assigning to
some ranged weapon character, like Balthier, who is not a mage. They
would make a great duo, Cuchulainn tanking while Balthier snipes from
a distance. It really is a shame, being the Poison Esper and all, that
they didn't give him some badass status ailment attack, ala Bad
Breath.

But in general, I consider his utility limited. There are very few
occasions where he could do better than the level 1 Espers to justify
his high MP demands and you'll find the rest of the optional level 2
Espers (and even some of the non-optional ones) vastly superior in
both survivability and damage potential. The fact he is so hard to
obtain early renders him even less appealing. By the way, if you wait
enough for him to be somewhat manageable in battle, you can already
obtain Exodus and Zeromus (both easier than Cuchulainn) and once you
have these, you can almost forget about him.

After this digression that probably seemed like a lifetime, we are
finally free to continue with the main quest. Let's head to the Giza
Plains!

========================= 
29. Giza Plains 
=========================

Provided you did only a little bit of the above sidequests, the
enemies here will just seem laughable. If you feel strained, put
Balthier under Berserk and critical and switch between his Wyrmfire
Shot and Water Shot (put on the Hermes Sandals if you want, although
they will probably make him so fast, you won't have enough time to
steal from the enemies before he one-shot kills them). Have Vaan or
Ashe with the best light armour you have and the Thief's Cuffs on (a
permanent accessory on your leader from now on) to always steal from
the enemies. The third character should be Fran or Penelo to act as
backup and occasionally heal/maintain Berserk on Balthier. Your leader
should have gambits for Shell and Protect on himself and your backup
mage should also have a gambit to cast Regen on the leader
(alternatively, give the leaders the licence for Regen and have the
gambit on them). You can also try strolling this area with your
summoner and Belias, they can easily make it from one save crystal to
the other and Belias will have no problem dealing with the enemies on
the Giza Plains. Your summoner will also gain a couple of levels. Make
your way towards the south exit of the Starfall Field to enter the
Ozmone Plain.

========================= 
30. Ozmone Plain 
=========================

The enemies here are about the same in terms of levels as on the Giza
Plains. If you followed my advise and have the Aldebaran and Mud Shot,
you will be able to one-shot all these Zu enemies here. The game
tricks you by making Dive Talons benign, into thinking that you don't
have to use ranged weapons against ordinary mobs. Not so at all!
Beware of the Werewolves also, they can be troublesome but if you have
the above weapons, you won't have much of a problem with
them. Mesmerins will give you Iron Carapace, which sells for good
money and is the missing ingredient for the Golden Garb Bazaar package
and you can get Ophidian Rods from the Vipers. Both of these enemies
are weak to Ice, so it will be nice to have Basch as your DPS against
them with his Icebrand. He probably needs some levelling too. You can
also make good money stealing Chocobo Feathers from the Chocobos. They
are weak to Water, so your Water Shot will one-hit kill them.  Proceed
south until you reach Jahara (Field of the Fallen
Wings->TheSwitchback->Haulo Green).

========================= 
31. Jahara 
=========================
 
Talk to the guards, then enter the village (it is also advisable to
save at the teleport crystal). You will find a merchant here that
sells several nice stuff, including the Gil Toss technick (which can
be useful in many tight situations) and the incredible elemental
Staves, Flame Staff (you probably already have these from Dustia),
Storm Staff and Glacial Staff. They boost by 50% elemental damage from
Fire, Thunder and Ice spells respectively and are perhaps the most
useful Staves in the game. I practically don't use anything other than
a Glacial Staff with my mages for the entirety of the game for
ordinary mobs (Glacial Staff has +1 Magic compared to the other
elemental Staves and many mobs are weak to Ice). Buy a pair of each,
they are totally worth it. It is also a good idea to get the Shear
technick, as most bosses and Hunts are susceptible to it.

Now find Chief Zayalu and talk to him. Then talk to Spinel, one of the
three guards standing in front of a bridge on the northwest of the
village and give him the Java Stick. Cross the bridge into the next
area and move forward to trigger a string of cutscenes. After all
that, Larsa joins as a guest. You also get a Crossbow as a gift (nice
people in Jahara!). Now we could proceed with the plot, but not before
we waste some more time doing another Hunt!

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: The Defence of Ozmone Plain 
Enkelados (Rank II) 
HP: 18709 - LV: 22
=======================================

In order to make him appear, you have to kill all the Wu foes in the
Shred area of Ozmone Plain, exit and then re-enter. You can also get a
Brigandine light armour from one of the chests. Enkelados is a
pushover, the one real threat here is the rare game Bull Croc:

RARE GAME ALERT: Bull Croc

He has a 20% chance of showing up every time you enter the Shred and
unfortunately, he can even appear together with Enkelados, so you'll
have to take care of him first before you deal with the Hunt. Weak to
Earth, so Aldebaran+Mud Shot will be very effective against him. He is
actually quite dangerous and his powerful Wind-elemental attack
(Screwtail) can do in excess of 1000 damage to all party members, so
either equip Windbreakers and spread your team, or summon
Adrammelech. He won't have much of a trouble taking care of Bull
Crock, since he is immune to Wind. And wait for this. Right after you
kill Bull Crock here comes...

RARE GAME ALERT: Aeros

Yeah, you actually have to fight a second rare game! He is flying and
will hit with Aerora, as his name implies. Again, Adrammelech can kill
him easily because of his elemental immunity, plus, Aeros is weak to
Thunder. Otherwise, have your leader tank him while Fran and Balthier
attack with ranged weapons. Aeros has the Wyvern Wing as a common
steal, one of the ingredients for the Arcturus Gun, so it is much
easier to get these from him instead of the Wyvern Lord.

It is possible to make Enkelados appear without running into rare
games, but make a mental note you might encounter them. It is best to
save your game at the Sunlit Path before trying to spawn the
Hunt. Provided the field is cleared and Enkelados present, the rest is
dead easy.

Weak to Wind and susceptible to Sleep. You can either use the same
strategy as for the Earth Tyrant (he'll be dead within a single cast),
or put him to sleep and summon Zalera, who will be done with him
within 3-4 Shocks+Condemnation. It is advisable to wait for his
Protect to wear off. Enkelados tends to recast his buffs, so the
moment Protect is down, it means Shell is also about to run out. Use
Niho+Alarm Clock or cast Sleep and you can start without any annoying
Shell reducing your magic damage. But even with Shell on it shouldn't
be a problem. Easy as pie. Belias and Adrammelech can also do the job,
but since Enkelados halves damage from their respective elements,
you'll need to double summon to finish him. Keep him asleep all the
time, otherwise he'll use Restore, which sucks.

If only we could have the Golden Amulet earlier! Sell it, you already
have enough of them. You can also now return to the village on the
Giza Plains to collect your reward for Gil Snapper. Also, give the
Errmonea Leaf to Lesina and she will give you a couple of Remedies as
a gift. We are now just one Hunt short of unlocking the final awesome
accessory and spell the Clan Provisioner can give us (Bravery and
Bubble Belts), at least for a long while.

Talk to the Moogle at the entrance of the village and he will let you
ride a Chocobo for free. Take it (unless you prefer to walk to grind a
little) and head towards the northeast exit of Ozmone Plains, where a
save crystal is (Sunlit Path). Save there and enter the Golmore
Jungle.

========================= 
32. Golmore Jungle 
=========================

If you're using the Balthier at critical strategy, Larsa can be a
nuisance because he will use Hi-Potions and X-Potions on your party
members. If you want to continue this way, kill him and remove any
Raise/Phoenix Down gambits. Be careful at the entrance, there are 4-5
Coeurl enemies that will attack you, so go all out to finish them
quickly. Then take the left path and on the first junction, turn right
to find the urn with the map of the jungle (watch out for those
Malboros). Return to the northern path and proceed east towards the
next area. The Gargoyles here are weak to Ice just like the Coeurls,
so the Icebrand is again a good weapon (they are not considered flying
enemies). They also have the Gilt Measure as a rare drop, this is very
very useful now that we have Zalera. You will eventually see a light
barrier as you advance east, which will trigger a scene. After that
you find yourself in front of a path. Examine it to enter Eruyt
Village.

========================= 
33. Eruyt Village 
=========================

Buy all the new spells you might want from the merchant there. All of
them are very useful, with Curaga being the priority. Float is very
good as it allows you to walk over traps without triggering them,
while Decoy will draw all enemy attention towards the party member who
has Decoy on. Also buy three Black Belts, in case you don't have them
already. We will be facing a boss soon that will hit us with
Disablega, so you better have these with you when that happens.

Enter the village and move north into the next area. When you try to
cross the bridge there, a cutscene will occur. Return to the entrance
of the village and after the scene there save, then backtrack to the
area with the save crystal on the Ozmone Plain. Save your game again,
then talk to the two imperial soldiers and when asked, give them a
Potion. They will let you ride their Chocobo. Use it to enter the
southern portion of the Shred area by crossing through the grass on
your left (south) once you enter Field of Light Winds. Dismount the
Chocobo and enter the Henne Mines.

========================= 
34. Henne Mines 
=========================

You will find the Mud Shot very useful here as well, since all those
bat enemies (Seekers and Redmaws) are weak to Earth. It is a good idea
to have your mage maintain Decoy on your leader now that you have it,
because the bats tend to pop up unexpectedly. You probably have the LP
to unlock some of the Channeling licences for your mages, that will
dramatically improve your MP management. This place is rather long and
it will be a while until we reach a save crystal.

You will soon find a blue switch. Activate it to open the gate to the
south. Cross into the next area (Pithead Junction A). You now want to
press the red switch, but before you do that, know that you'll be
ambushed by Jellies, so be prepared for close combat. It is a good
idea to just use Warp against them (cast Decoy on your leader so your
mage will have enough time to cast Warp). They are weak to Fire, so
Belias too is good here.

Pick any of the two available routes. You will find many bats on your
way (give Balthier the Hermes Sandals to finish them quickly) towards
the urn with the map of the area. Return to the junction and press the
blue switch (don't worry, no Jellies this time), then head west.

Proceed through the Phase 1 Shaft and into Phase 1 Dig. You can get
the Ice Shield from the Redmaws as a rare drop, which will be useful
later when you fight Mateus, who is the Ice-elemental Esper. It is a
good idea to farm these, but not before we reach the Henne Mines
teleport crystal. Once you reach Crossover A (if you have trouble with
the Tyranorox foes, remember, Sleep+Cherry Staff+Aero, just like the
Wild Saurians), head north until you enter Crossover B, then south
into Pithead Junction B. Now you have to press the red switch and exit
west, but just as before, you will be ambushed by Jellies, only this
time there will be A LOT more of them. Unless you have the Indigo
Pendant and Warp (as well as decent armour), I suggest you just flee
into Crossover A, you are not required to fight the
Jellies. Alternatively, cast Reflect on your team and have your mage
with the Cherry Staff reflect Aero. It should make quick work of the
Jellies and Larsa can take care of the healing. Note that the Jellies
can hit you with Confuse, so keep an eye out and if you see some of
your party members affected by it remove his weapon before he causes
any problem.

Now head back north and re-enter Crossover B. This time you can take
the northwest exit where the teleport crystal awaits (Staging
Shaft). Save your game and prepare for boss fight. Wow, we haven't
faced a proper boss since Belias!

--------------------------------- 
BOSS: Tiamat - HP: 49993 - LV: 25
---------------------------------

After all the success you've had with your Nihopalaoa and Indigo
Pendant against previous bosses, Espers and Hunts, you are in for a
disappointment: Tiamat is immune to almost everything, except Confuse
and Slow. She also has quite a lot of HP for a boss (but nothing you
can't handle), especially compared to what Belias had and is weak to
the elusive Earth element (don't hit her with Aero, it will heal
her). The only way of taking advantage of it is the Mud Shot, which
makes Confuse useless.

Fortunately, Tiamat doesn't hit very hard, especially given your
current HP (if you got the Officer's hat and did only moderate
fighting until you got here, you should be at about 1500 for your team
leaders, which is more than enough, even without Bubble). The main
threat here is Disablega, but if you got those Black Belts, it won't
be a problem either.

The fastest strategy is to have a team leader buffed up with Bubble
and Shell, good light armour and the Main Gauche, Golden Shield and
Gauntlets. Have Balthier with the Aldebaran, Mud Shot and Hermes
Sandals at critical and berserked in reserve. Also, a mage with the
Indigo Pendant with a gambit to maintain Decoy on your leader and
Berserk on Balthier. And of course... kill Larsa. Before the battle,
recast Decoy on the leader (so it will last) and enter the area where
Tiamat is with him and your mage. The leader should have a simple
attack gambit. He won't be doing any serious damage, but this will
keep him away from the rest of the party.

When the battle begins, take control of the mage and move away from
the leader, who will be engaging Tiamat. Once you are out of range of
area spells (Tiamat will also hit you with Aero, apart from Disablega,
so stay away), bring in Balthier, who will probably be done with the
boss before any of your buffs wears off. With all his augments and the
Mud Shot, it only takes 7-8 shots (Tiamat will resist your attacks at
critical). If your leader takes damage, cast Cura on him manually or
use a Hi-Potion, it should be enough. By the way, you can use this
strategy even with just the Sirius+Onion Shot, it will just take
longer, so keep your leader healthy and periodically recast Decoy
MANUALLY (just like Sleep, you can renew the status before it wears
off).

When it comes to Espers, you will find both Belias and Andrammelech
underwhelming, as they will get significant damage from Tiamat's
physical attacks (especially Belias) and won't be able to hurt her
much, since she halves damage from their respective elements. Even the
mighty Zalera will need 2-3 summonings to defeat her, since her HP is
so high, but Zarela's Shock will do decent damage fast and his Defence
and elemental immunities will allow him to endure without the need of
any pampering on your behalf (don't cast Bubble). Use either Gravity
or hit Zalera a few times with the Gilt Measure if you have it to have
him cast Shock. Measures are great for reducing Zalera's HP quickly
and without wasting more MP, plus, you can buff him with Protect in
the process. Keep your summoner away and Tiamat will only focus on the
Esper. If you have problems with unwanted attention, cast Decoy on the
Esper.

This fight is surprisingly best suited for Cuchulainn (provided you
have him), as he will deal significant damage fast and since you
cannot put Tiamat to sleep, physical attacks are fair game here. The
fact that you have a save crystal right before the boss also makes him
affordable MP-wise. Summon him before battle, get your MP back and
enter Tiamat's lair. He will be a great battle opener, as Tiamat's
physical attacks cannot penetrate his defences and Aero will bounce
back, due to Cuchulainn's Reflect. The only thing that will hurt him a
little is Breath, but he will immediately retaliate with
Malaise. After he uses his final attack, Tiamat will be in such a bad
shape that one Zalera Condemnation will be enough.

After Tiamat is defeated, more cutscenes occur and you eventually find
yourself back to Eruyt Village. You can now finally purchase the level
2 elemental spells, Fira, Blizzara and Thundara, as well as the Haste
spell, although the later is at the moment too expensive to keep up as
a permanent buff. It is better to use this before boss
fights. Otherwise, the Hermes Sandals are still much more convenient
for ordinary fighting. It is also about time you get that Serenity
licence for your mages, as well as Warmage. Coupled with your
elemental Staves and Faith, you can now use your mages offensively in
a major way, even against ordinary mobs and not waste too much MP.

========================= 
35. Eruyt Village 
=========================

Having Lente's Tear allows you to cross the barriers that previously
prevented you from advancing through Golmore Jungle. But before that,
let's take a detour for more hunting and item farming. Head back to
Rabanastre to accept the Ixtab Hunt, then to Jahara to find the
petitioner.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: The Dead Ought Sleep Forever 
Ixtab (Rank II) 
HP: 22562 - LV: 24
=======================================

Not only is this Hunt pathetically easy, it will also grant you the
coveted Riskbreaker clan ranking. You'll find him in the Phase 1 Shaft
area of the Henne Mines, at the place where the urn with the map
was. The fastest way is to go from the Henne Mines teleport crystal to
the area where you fought Tiamat. There is a door here that leads to
North Entrance. Press the switch there to enter Pithead Junction A,
then the second switch to enter Phase 1 Shaft. Watch out, Jellies will
spawn again, just ignore them and enter the area where Ixtab is. Kill
the bats and when you get close to the urn, Ixtab will show up.

Unfortunately for him, Ixtab is susceptible to pretty much every
status ailment worth mentioning, including Silence, Blind, Immobilize
and Stop. Toss a Remedy with the Nihopalaoa on and he is harmless as a
kitten. He is a teleporting enemy, so be careful because you might
miss him if you throw the Remedy and he teleports. After that, go all
out. Having 2 berserked and critical attackers will be enough to
finish him before Stop and Immobilize wear off. Espers are also very
effective. All of them except Belias can finish him within one
summoning. Even Belias can make it if you cast Haste and Faith on
him. You can also try stealing from Ixtab, since he has the Flame
Shield (halves Fire damage) as a rare steal.

Now that you are Riskbreaker, you can buy the Bravery spell, which
increases your physical damage output by 30%. This is the boost needed
for Balthier to hit the damage cap with his current weapon against
foes with elemental weaknesses and over 5000 with non-elemental
ammo. You can also buy the Bubble Belts. These grant permanent Bubble
status and are indispensable when fighting difficult bosses and
Hunts. Not only will they make your characters a lot more survivable,
they also allow you to resurrect fallen comrades with Bubble already
on, which can be a lifesaver in tough situations. Also, Bubble Belts
make you immune against the Disease status. At 20000 a piece they are
pricey and the thing is, you want 1 for all your characters, including
reserves. If you have the money now, buy 5 (you'll get the sixth as a
reward for the Antlion Hunt), otherwise buy some (at least one), then
come back later for the rest. Bear in mind that Bubble Belts will
become unavailable after you achieve the next clan ranking of Paragon
of Justice (24 Hunts completed), but will reappear after you reach
High Guardian (28 Hunts).

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Feywood Excursion
=======================================

We can now obtain some more great items, if we search for a couple of
rare loots. To do this, we must first enter the Feywood. Once you exit
Eruyt Village, head all the way to the south (The Needlebreak->The
Rustling Chapel). When you are about to cross into the next area, cast
Float on your team, there are some traps waiting for you once you
cross. You will encounter Deadly Nightshades, who cast status ailments
and can be a menace. They are weak to Water, use your Water
Shot. Continue southwest until you enter the next area, Walk of the
Dancing Shadow. There are some Mu foes here, stay away from them for
they can hit you with Confuse and Time Requiem (inflicts Stop on
everyone). Your goal is to head towards the south, then east to enter
Antiquity's End, where a save crystal is. Save your game here.

On the way there you probably encountered the Mirrorknights. These
have the Mirror Mail (47 Defence, grants Reflect) as a rare drop and
you can also steal X-Potions from them, so you might want to try and
chain them to get at least one Mirror Mail. Even if you already have
the Dragon Mail, these armours can be very useful in conjunction with
accessories like the Indigo Pendant, Pheasant Netsuke or Opal
Ring. Their Windslicer Pinion drop also sells for good money, so they
are a good gil source at the moment. Their HP is around 5500 and are
weak to Earth, so Balthier with the Mud Shot and Aldebaran can
one-shot kill them. Keep Decoy on the leader and you will blaze
through them. Niho+Chronos Tears is also ideal if you have any
trouble.

On the northwest end of Walk of Dancing Shadow, you'll find an
entrance to the Henne Mines. This area is a dead end and you'll find
some Abysteels here. Abysteels are some of the highest level and
dangerous foes in the game, and these here are level 60+! They have
about 20000 HP and can easily wipe you out at this point. They are
susceptible to Sleep though and because they are undead, Curaga is a
great way to kill them. Their common steal, the Spiral Incisor, is
used for the Icecloud Arrows + Perseus Bow package (you need 4) and
the Black Bolts + Hunting Cross Bow package (need 3), but we are not
that interested in that. Unfortunately, we want the Vampyr Fang. This
is a monograph drop and also a rare steal. We need 2 of these in order
to obtain the Artemis Arrows, the most powerful arrows in the game and
the second ammo that is Earth-elemental. Use Niho+Alarm Clock, then
attack them with Curaga. If you're afraid, just put them to sleep,
steal, zone twice and return.

If you try to kill them, you can also get the Demon Shield in case you
haven't got that already from the bazaar, but it is a rare drop, so it
may take dozens of attempts to get one.

Once you have the 2 Vampyr Fangs, exit the Feywood and return to Eruyt
Village. Then teleport to Rabanastre and talk to the magic shop
repeatedly. If you have talked to him more than 25 times, the Mage's
Monograph will appear as a bazaar item (costs 21000 gil). Buy it and
teleport to the Nabreus deadlands. You can now try to kill the
Focalors to get their monograph drop, the Dorsal Fin. Again we need
two of these. Finally you need 3 Gemini Gems. You can steal these from
the two Werewolves on the Giza Plains (dry season). Now you can get
the awesome Artemis Arrows.

========================= 
36. Golmore Jungle 
=========================

After this brief diversion, let us continue with our mission. There
isn't much to do actually, just cross into Whisperleaf Way, then the
Parting Glade towards the east of the Golmore jungle. After this short
stroll, we have a new boos to face. Save at the teleport crystal and
prepare your party, then head north into Dell of the Dreamer.

------------------------------------- 
BOSS: Elder Wyrm - HP: 71692 - LV: 23 
-------------------------------------

Actually, this is an optional boss. You can totally bypass him and
enter the Paramina Rift through the Feywood, if you can withstand the
enemies there (if you did the optional part in the Feywood, you should
have no problem handling them), but this road is easier and shorter
and besides, who doesn't like a good boss fight?

Elder Wyrm can be a challenge when you first play the game and reach
him unprepared. The main difficulty here, is status ailments. He has a
big attack called Sporefall that acts a little like Bad Breath. It can
fuck you up pretty bad. The good news is that it won't hit you if you
manage to stay away.

Of course, once you know what you're doing, this dragon is a
cakewalk. The guy is susceptible to Sleep and weak to Wind, so he's no
different than a Wild Saurian. The same drill as for Earth Tyrant
works here as well. Buff up Fran and Penelo with Haste and Faith and
have them at critical with their Cherry Staves and Elder Wyrm will be
dead in seconds. The only twist is that he is flanked by a couple of
Treants (you've seen them already as benign foes in Golmore
Jungle). They are weak to Wind too, so once you start reflecting Aero,
they will fall almost instantly. If you are in a hurry, toss a Phoenix
Down with the Nihopalaoa or use Warp against them. Oh yeah, and kill
Larsa! You don't want him waking up the dragon, do you? Alternatively,
you can cast Reflect on Larsa and have him in your team too (have Fran
and Penelo at full health then to activate their Serenity Licence). If
you don't use any offensive gambit on your leader, he should stay put.

Espers are obviously very useful here, since they are immune to
Sporefall. The problem is Elder Wyrm starts the battle with Shell on,
so it will take some time to start doing some decent damage, to the
point where it would be beneficial to tank him yourself for the first
minute, until Shell goes away, then summon. Thankfully, he doesn't
halve elemental damage from either Belias or Adrammelech, so both can
put on a good show, especially if you buff them up with Haste and
Faith (you can also inflict the boss with Oil if you're using Belias,
which will increase his damage dealing significantly). Even if you
don't put the dragon to sleep, they are pretty survivable. Belias
especially can be healed from the Elder Wyrm's Fireball attack. As
long as you keep your summoner away, Sporefall won't be an issue. But
the best approach is to summon Zalera. With Haste and Faith on, his
Shock will do around 6000 per hit and will be done with the boss
within a couple of summonings.

Now that you're done with the Elder Wyrm, proceed east and exit
Golmore Jungle into Paramina Rift.

========================= 
37. Paramina Rift 
=========================

Save at the Fading Vale save crystal, then head northeast through the
Head of the Silverflow and Freezing Gorge until you reach Mount
Bur-Omisace. Many enemies here are weak to Thunder, so Thundara+Storm
Staff will nuke them easily, but don't worry, your Icebrand is still
useful.

========================= 
38. Mt. Bur-Omisace
=========================

The moment you set your foot in Mt. Bur-Omisace, a couple of new Elite
Marks become available. These include Trickster, the final Canopic Jar
Hunt and the Antlion. You probably want to take the latter
immediately. Not only will it net you another Bubble Belt as a reward,
it will also give you access to a chest with pretty good chances of
containing the Fomalhaut, the most powerful Gun in the game and the
first of the ultimate weapons we are going to get! You'll have to
teleport back to Bhujerba to accept the Hunt (pick up the others as
well).

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Antlion Infestation
Antlion (Rank V) 
HP: 106449 - LV: 37
=======================================

To find him, you must return to the Lhusu Mines and into the chamber
where you faced Ba'Gamnan and Rocktoise. You are now able to open the
gate that leads deeper into the mines. The walk until Antlion's nest
can itself be a challenge, make sure you come prepared. It's better to
have that Demon Shield we were talking about and your leaders should
have all the Shield Lore licences, as well as some of the higher level
HP+ licences.

You will encounter difficult level 40+ enemies here. These include the
headless-type and confusingly similar Dullahan and Headless. Dullahans
are weak to Water, so use your Water Shot against them. Headless foes
are weak to Wind, so have your mage cast Aero with a Cherry Staff and
keep Faith on. Maintaining Decoy on your leader is paramount.

Eventually you want to head south of Site 3, into the western section
of Transitway 1 and then west into Transitway 2. You will find a much
needed teleport crystal here. Save your game and prepare for the
Antlion. You have to cross the Tasche Span, then once you reach Site
9, turn south and move all the way to the west. This is where the
Antlion is. You will find level 40+ Killer Mantises on the way. They
are susceptible to Oil, so Niho+Handkerchief and shoot them with
Wyrmfire Shot and Fiery Arrows. You can also Warp them, but you may
want to save your MP for the Antlion battle.

Once you are close to the Antlion's nest, you'll see the mark flanked
by several Killer Mantises. All are weak to Wind, but you cannot keep
them at bay by immobilizing or disabling them, so the best attack is
to have the leader with the Nihopalaoa on tossing a Remedy on the
Antlion (this will inflict Slow, Silence and Disease) while the mage
with the Indigo Pendant casts Warp, hopefully targeting all Killer
Mantises at once. Once the minions are gone, give the leader the
Gauntlets and let him tank the Antlion, while you take control of the
mage (Penelo or Fran) and keep her at a distance, along with Balthier,
who should be at critical under Berserk and Bravery and shooting using
non-elemental ammo (the Antlion halves elemental damage if you're not
using Wind-elemental attacks and absorbs Earth).

Again, maintaining Decoy on the leader is paramount, recast it
manually before it wears off. Since you inflicted Disease, Antlion
won't go into pissy-boss mode when low on HP, which would cause it,
among other things, to ignore your evasion! With the Main Gauche,
Demon Shield and Gauntlets on, the leader will block most of the
attacks and in case he gets hit, Larsa can do the healing for you
(yeah, for once, he is useful). With a Minerva Bustier and Officer's
Hat/Crown of Laurels on, you should be fine. If you have MP to burn,
also cast Aero with you mage, but the priority should be to keep Decoy
on and Balthier buffed up. Due to the Antlion's elemental affinities,
you won't be dealing damage as fast as you'd like, yet it certainly
doesn't take long to finish him and with Disease on, the fight will be
uneventful.

After Antlion is dead, save at the teleport crystal and return to the
nest chamber (beware, Killer Mantises still lurk). You will find a
chest here which, when it spawns, has a good chance of giving you the
Fomalhaut. If you don't get it, soft reset and try again, it won't
take many attempts to get one. The chest respawns, so you can get as
many Fomalhauts as you want. This is by far the most powerful weapon
in the game right now, as with it and all his buffs on, Balthier will
be shooting for 9999 most of the time.
  
======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Paramina Run
Trickster (Rank V) 
HP: 61321 - LV: 44
=======================================

Like Gil Snapper, Trickster can turn into a disaster if you don't use
Espers. This can be a really hard battle when fought
conventionally. He will keep running around, preventing you from
hitting him and aggroing other enemies. And when his HP gets low, he
becomes terrible: He will raise a paling for a while against all
physical attacks and at the same time, spam Choco-Comet against you,
which hits everybody for colossal damage, very fast. If you fight him
with melee weapons, this will be the first instance you should really
consider using those Bubble Belts.

Thankfully, he is susceptible to Sleep, so the main problem is getting
rid of your annoying guests. Larsa is not that much of a problem,
since he won't attack if your team leader doesn't have any offensive
gambits. Unfortunately, you are here assisted (?) by another Clan
Centurio member, Monid, who unlike Bansat in the Gil Snapper battle,
is a pest. He will keep attacking Trickster and waking him up no
matter what you do. So you have to get rid of him as soon as Trickster
shows up.

Getting Trickster to appear will take longer than the actual
battle. Trickster spawns in the Frozen Brook area of Paramina
Rift. The first time you enter the place, you'll find Monid. Prepare
the battlefield by clearing all the foes here, including an annoying
Ice-elemental. They sometimes respawn, but it helps nevertheless. Then
exit towards the southwest into Path of the Firstfall and use the save
crystal to heal/replenish MP and start re-entering Frozen Brook until
Monid says he sees the Trickster (this will take a while). When that
finally happens, shoot Larsa and Monid (use R1 twice to target
him). Monid will use X-Potions when low on HP, so it will take a few
tries. When all your guests are dead, head towards the frozen river to
find Trickster.

When he appears, use Niho+Alarm Clock or cast Sleep. That's it. Now
bring in your summoner and summon Zalera. Put Haste and Faith on him
and he'll be doing nearly 6000 per hit. Given Trickster's HP isn't
that high, he'll be done with him within a couple of
summonings. Maintain Sleep.

Reflecting magic off your team isn't applicable here, as Trickster has
shifting elemental affinities. He will absorb all elements except one,
chosen randomly (and good luck if this is Water, Earth or Holy). So
you have to start casting magic to see which element he is weak
to. But even when you find it, he will immediately switch his
affinities when hit just once. This happens even if Trickster is
asleep. The only other choice is Drain, but Zalera with Shock is the
way to go here. Adrammelech can also be good, since if Trickster
absorbs Thunder (and the chances are high that he does), he will use
Bio (which is non-elemental). Belias is no good, he will use physical
attacks and wake him up.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Befoulment of the Beast 
Feral Retriever (Rank III) 
HP: 22559 - LV: 28
=======================================

Another pathetic Hunt given your current abilities, you'll find him on
the other side of the save crystal area in Paramina Rift (Spine of the
Icewyrm), so you can do this together with Trickster.

Susceptible to Disease and Immobilize, among other things. But
probably you shouldn't even bother debuffing him. Have Balthier and
Fran at critical with Berserk and Bravery and give them their
Earth-elemental ammo. It only takes 3 hits to finish him. Otherwise,
Niho+Remedy (or Immobilize) and summon either Zalera or Cuchulainn.

========================= 
39. Mt. Bur-Omisace
=========================

After the hunting interlude and with our first ultimate weapon in
hand, return to Mt. Bur-Omisace to claim your rewards for Trickster
and Feral Retriever and also do some shopping from the merchants at
the entrance. Buy the Arc Scale, a must for quickly reducing Zalera's
HP, and a Storm Spear for Basch, as many enemies in Paramina are weak
to Thunder. Also, buy some Ice Shields if you don't have some of these
already, they may be useful during the Mateus battle. Then proceed all
the way north and enter the temple. Several cutscenes later, Larsa
leaves the party and we can now make our way towards the Stilshrine of
Miriam.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Cat-Eared Hood
=======================================

We can also now get our Cat-Eared Hood, an awesome item to use with
Bows, Ninja Swords, Axes/Hammers and Daggers. It will essentially
double Fran's damage output, which means she can deal more than 2000
with Bravery on, even without Berserk and elemental weaknesses. To get
it we need some rare loot though. First, we need 2
Einherjariums. These are a rare steal from the Babils in Necrohol of
Nabudis. You'll find several of them in the Cloister of Distant Song
(enter from Salikawood). Einherjarium is also Babil's monograph drop
if you purchase the Scholar's Monograph, but there really is no need
for that. Babils usually hit with reflectable magic, so as long as you
have Ruby Rings on, you'll be fine. Be careful though, some of them
may penetrate reflect. Better equip your thief with the Mirror
Mail+Thief's Cuffs.

Next we need 2 White Incense. This is a monograph drop from
Garuda-Egi, the flying foes in Paramina Rift's Spine of the Icewyrm,
the same area you found Feral Retriever. You need the Hunter's
Monograph for these. To obtain it, talk to Gatsly who stands opposite
the Clan Provisioner in Muthru Bazaar. The monograph will then show up
as a bazaar item for 18000 gil.

Finally we need 7 Virgo Gems. These are a very rare drop from Cactoids
and Cactites in Estersand and a steal/drop from several of the Malboro
varieties. I prefer getting Virgo Gems by stealing from the Malboros
in Salikawood (Diverging Way). From the teleport crystal, enter
Diverging Way, steal from the two Malboros there, zone twice (touch
the crystal to heal) and repeat. This is probably the most
time-consuming part, but the reward is definitely worth it.

========================= 
40. Paramina Rift 
=========================

To reach the Stilshrine of Miriam, follow the same path you did to
find Feral Retriever (Freezing Gorge->Frozen Brook->Path of the
Firstfall->Spine of the Icewyrm) and proceed south towards into
Silverflow's End. The south exit leads to the StilShrine of
Miriam. The Twintania and Yetis (who are the most powerful) are weak
to Thunder, so use the Storm Spear with Basch to kill them. The
skeletons are susceptible to Disable.

========================= 
41. Stilshrine of Miriam
=========================

Save at the teleport crystal and enter the temple. Redmaws are weak to
Earth, so use Mud Shot/Artemis Arrows against them. You will find a
pedestal in the middle of this room. To make it work, equip your
leader with the Dawn Shard and touch it. You will be teleported into
the Ward of Velitation and ambushed by a Miriam Guardian. These are
weak to Wind, so use Aero, although if you have the Fomalhaut by now,
you can one-shot kill them even without the proper elemental
ammo. After you kill it, there is a chest on you right, which contains
either Elixir or Megaelixir. The trap under it will usually heal you.

Proceed to the west. You will find 3 Dragon Aevis enemies blocking the
way (weak to Ice). After these go west and climb the stairs until you
find another pedestal. Do the same thing again with the Dawn Shard and
you will activate some secret stairs. Return to the previous hall and
descent the stairs you just created using the pedestal to enter the
Walk of Revelation. There is a crystal mimic here (again, you have to
defeat it to turn it into a proper save crystal).

Head west into the Ward of the Sword-King. Make your way towards the
south killing the foes there and examine the sword. This will activate
the Way Stone on the north end of this area to get you back to the
first hall of the temple. But before that, you can visit a secret room
that can give you your second Shell Shield. I suggest you save before
you try this, since the chest with the Shield is a one time only thing
and may give you a Dark Matter instead. Then hug the west wall near
where you fought that Darkmare and a corridor will show up. In the
next area you will find Oilings (you can Warp them). Head up the
stairs and before you cross into the next room, cast float on your
team, as on the other side there are traps that inflict you with
Berserk and Confuse, a deadly combination.

RARE GAME ALERT: Matriarch Bomb

She has a 20% chance to spawn in the secret room where you can find
the Shell Shield. Weak to Water, obviously. She doesn't even have
Safety, so you can Warp her or use Niho+Phoenix Down. Also susceptible
to many status ailments, including Stop and Disable. She won't be a
problem.

You will also find some more Oilings here, Warp them, then get your
Shell Shield from the trapped chest. If you get it, return to the Way
Stone at the north end of Ward of the Sword-King and exit the temple
to save your game.

Now re-enter and take the stairs on the right. Open the door there and
in the new area, take the exit towards the west (Walk of
Prescience). Follow the northern corridor until you reach a chamber
with a statue. Examine it to rotate it in such a way that is faces
towards the east (if you open your map, you'll see an arrow showing
the direction of the statue). Then proceed south into Walk of
Reason. You will encounter some undead enemies here. When you reach
the stairs, climb them and move north. Follow that path until it turns
south and you reach the second statue. Examine it and have it face
towards the north. After that, follow the path to the north, where you
will find the exit that leads to an area with a door towards Ward of
Steel. Do not enter yet as there is a boss waiting there. Instead,
move even farther north and return to the first area of the
temple. Head outside to save your game. You can now return to Ward of
Steel by taking the left stairs (now that you went all around once,
the door is not locked anymore).

------------------------------------- 
BOSS: Vinuskar - HP: 15238 - LV: 27 
-------------------------------------

Vinuskar doesn't have a lot of HP, the gimmick in this battle is the
magnetic field, that slows down every character equipped with metallic
armour or weapons. Which means your summoner is pretty much in the
green. Summon Zalera or Cuchulainn and Vinuskar will have his ass
handed to him. By the way, Guns, Bows and Crossbows won't be affected
by the magnetic field, so Balthier and Fran can finish him within a
few hits (he takes regular damage from all elements and is weak to
none). Even if you charge in with nothing but Axes, Swords, Spears and
heavy armour, if you've casted Haste and Berserk beforehand the
magnetic field won't be much of a hindrance.

Take the map of the Stilshrine from the urn and enter the eastern
chamber to find the third and last statue. Rotate is so that it looks
towards the west. This completes the puzzle and the sword in the Ward
of the Sword-King will be moved to open the way towards the final
chamber of the Stilshrine, where Mateus awaits. Head back to the
entrance of the temple and save your game, then re-enter Ward of
Measure and use the Way Stone on the south of the area to teleport
back to Ward of the Sword-King. Head south past the sword, until you
reach the door of Hall of Worth. Buff up your team, although what
comes is definitely an easy fight.

------------------------------------- 
BOSS: Mateus - HP: 34259 - LV: 30 
-------------------------------------

The Ice-elemental Esper, Mateus is nowhere near as challenging as
Belias was back then, especially given all your current abilities and
gear. He has some annoying Ice-elementals as minions and he has
Reflect on, so don't cast spells directly on him. The minions can be
dangerous, as they tend to cast Silence on you, so put Rose Corsages
on your mages, cast Reflect on your team and Reflect Thundara. This
will quickly dispose of the minions and deal heavy damage on Mateus
himself. You can debuff him with Slow, but even if he has time to hit
you with Blizzaja, he won't be able to do much to you before he's
dead. Alternatively you can summon Zarela who is immune to all the
Ice-elemental attacks from the Elementals and Mateus. In that case
cast Shell on your summoner or give him the Ice Shield to protect him
against Blizzaja.

Poor Mateus, by the time you get him he is probably one of the most
useless Espers in the game. Your mages can do a lot more Ice-elemental
damage now that you have Blizzara and Faith, a lot faster than he
can. Although he is supposed to have higher Defences than Zalera, in
practice he is marginally better Defence-wise than Belias at this
point, which ain't much. His elemental immunities are also worse than
both Adrammelech and Zalera, as he halves Fire damage, is weak to
Thunder, absorbs Ice and is immune to the rest of the elements. Not to
mention that very soon we'll have access to a couple of incredibly
powerful level 2 Espers that once obtained, will make you forget about
him. Mateus is the last of the level 1 Espers by the way.

After the battle, enter the northern chamber. Following the cutscene,
exit the temple to trigger some new events, then teleport back to
Mt. Bur-Omisace.

========================= 
42. Mt. Bur-Omisace
=========================

Save your game and you should better head outside to prepare your
team, since a new boss awaits once you enter the temple at
Mt. Bur-Omisace. In case you didn't know, you can summon an Esper
right outside a town like Mt. Bur-Omisace and enter the area and you
will start the battle with your Esper and summoner.

---------------------------------------- 
BOSS: Judge Bergan - HP: 17200 - LV: 30 
----------------------------------------

This battle is usually a mess because you're being attacked on both
fronts by Judge Bergan and 3 Judges. Summoning an Esper right away can
thus be counter-productive, as he will usually start switching between
enemies. Thankfully, the Judges are susceptible to almost everything,
including Sleep, also a weakness of Judge Bergan (you can inflict him
with Stop too). The best method is to just start with a leader with
Decoy on and a mage. The leader will draw the Judges' attention while
the mage casts Immobilize. Now forget about the Judges and head north
to meet Judge Bergan. Once you get close, use Niho+Remedy/Alarm Clock
and summon an Esper (Zalera is pretty good as always). Maintain Sleep,
although Zalera will probably be done with him before the first debuff
wears off. Otherwise, inflict him with Stop and hit him with your
Fomalhaut, it only takes a few hits since his HP is so low. Since the
battle ends when Bergan falls, you don't have to deal with the Judges
at all.

Defeating Bergan is also an important turning point in the story. We
can now obtain a new and powerful optional Esper and have access to
some great new spells, like Dispel and most importantly, Syphon, which
will bring your mages to the next level in terms of MP management and
render level 2 and 3 Espers affordable. But the first thing we need to
do, is get that Zodiac Spear! Yeap, the time has come to claim the
most powerful weapon in the game. Getting it from Nabudis shouldn't be
a problem by now with your gear and your levels hovering around 30
(see the Nabudis Farming section for details). It is also going to be
indispensable during our upcoming fight with Zeromus. Give the licence
for the Spear to Basch, it's rightfully his. From now on, Basch will
have a more pronounced presence as a primary DPS.

Now speak to the Acolyte outside the temple in Mt. Bur-Omisace and
you'll receive the Stone of the Condemner. Head to the teleport
crystal and if you need, buy some more Hi-Potions and Phoenix
Downs. Make sure you have a good stock of both. Also, go back to
Rabanastre and buy the Foe: highest max HP and Foe: lowest HP
gambits. Then teleport to the Stilshrine of Miriam. Enter the first
area and head to the Way Stone, which is now flanked by a couple of
Nightwalkers. Ignore them and touch the Way Stone, choosing to use the
Stone of the Condemner. This will teleport you to a secret area, the
Throne of Veiled Gods. Buff up your team here (this is important),
then open the door.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Zeromus 
HP: 166888 - LV: 51
==========================

I would rank this as the second hardest Esper fight in the game, if
you attempt it right after Judge Bergan. The reason is the minions:
Dark Lords will spawn CONSTANTLY throughout the battle and they won't
stop until you kill like 35-40 of them! Not to mention they have quite
high levels themselves and a lot of HP. So you really have to expend
considerable energy keeping the minions in check. That's what you need
the Zodiac Spear for. It is wickedly fast, so Basch can start reducing
the Dark Lords' numbers, while Balthier uses the Fomalhaut to snipe
Zeromus. It is also a good idea to give both these characters a few
more Mist Charges if you have the licences (you probably can give them
all three by now). The third character will be either Ashe or Vaan,
acting as tank, drawing (hopefully) Zeromus's attention and assuming
healing duties.

You do not need mages in this battle and the reason is: Magic is
sealed! You cannot cast any spell during the fight. This is why you
have to buff up everyone before you enter the chamber. The only way to
heal and revive is Hi-Potions/X-Potions and Phoenix Downs, so the
Pheasant Netsuke is imperative. I will advise against equipping Bubble
Belts. Zeromus is the Gravity Esper and his signature attack is
Piercing Graviga. This cannot be reflected, hits everybody in range
for half of their MAX HP and can kill you! So if your HP goes below
50% and you get hit by it, you die. Obviously, Bubble is only going to
increase the damage you get by Graviga. Instead, what I consider a
good configuration is the following:

Vaan/Ashe: Main Gauche, Demon Shield, Crown of Laurels, Mirror Mail,
Pheasant Netsuke.  Basch: Zodiac Spear, (best heavy helm you have),
Dragon Mail, Ruby Ring.  Balthier: Fomalhaut, Onion Shot, (second best
light helm you have), Mirror Mail, Hermes Sandals.

I hope you did get these Mirror Mails from the Mirror Knights, as you
see, they come quite in handy here. Also, do not use elemental ammo,
Zeromus halves damage from all elements. Finally the gambit
configuration should be something like:

Vaan/Ashe: 
Ally: any -> Phoenix Down 
Ally: HP<50% -> Hi-Potion 
Foe: highest max HP -> attack

Basch: 
Ally: Vaan/Ashe -> Phoenix Down 
Foe: lowest HP -> attack

Balthier: 
Ally: Vaan/Ashe -> Phoenix Down 
Foe: highest max HP -> attack

With these, Balthier will always shoot for Zeromus, while Basch will
deal solely with the Dark Lords. The Reflect status on everyone will
protect you from Poison, casted by the Dark Lords, as well as Slow
casted by Zeromus himself during battle. He will also use Stop against
you, bring Chronos Tears with you. By the way, if you farmed those
Mirrorknights for X-Potion, you won't even need the Pheasant
Netsuke. Just change the healing gambit to toss X-Potions
instead. Typically you'll need about 20 of them to finish the battle.

When you enter the battle, control Vaan/Ashe and bring him close to
Zeromus. Don't bother debuffing him, the only thing you can cause with
Niho+Remedy is Slow and Zeromus will recast Haste soon on himself. If
you see him charging Graviga, move away to avoid having everyone hit
by the spell. Also try to position Balthier away from Zeromus and the
Dark Lords that spawn around him.

Since you can't do anything useful with your MP in this fight, might
as well use it for Quickenings. It is better to fire these whenever
there are 3-4 Dark Lords present, as the splash damage from the
Concurrence will help you get rid of them faster. Since both Balthier
and Basch will be dealing damage fast, you will get your Mist Charges
back in no time. Not only will this mitigate the problem with the Dark
Lords, it will also deal hefty damage on Zeromus as well.

As long as you keep track of what Zeromus is doing and manage to avoid
having Graviga hit everyone, coupled with taking advantage of your
Quickenings, you should be fine. It shouldn't even cost you that much
in terms of healing items. When Zeromus is about to die, bring in your
summoner and summon Zalera to finish him, as he will resist your
physical attacks as usual.

Zeromus is a revelation in terms of attack power when you obtain
him. His repertoire of moves is very limited: Gravity Well (his
ordinary attack) and Big Bang (his final attack). Both are,
unsurprisingly, gravity-based, which means they have a chance of
missing if the target is under Shell (not Big Bang). However, they
will work against foes that normally are immune to ordinary Gravity
attacks (all Hunts and Bosses are). But the amount of damage they do
isn't determined by the target's max HP, but by the difference between
Zeromus's max and current HP. Gravity Well deals damage equal to twice
this difference, while Big Bang does five times the difference. So the
lower Zeromus's current HP, the more devastating his attacks will be.

This may seem a little intimidating, since it implies that the Esper
has to fight on the verge of death if he's to do considerable
damage. But if you've learned something so far, is that Espers are
most useful when not used simply as a meat shield, but as a way to
deal heavy magic damage against enemies that are unable to attack them
(due to elemental immunities, status ailments etc.). There will be
many boss fights and Hunts where these conditions will be
satisfied. Have no illusions, Zeromus will be incredibly useful from
now on. Along with Exodus, they will be your best offensive Espers for
almost the rest of the game, essentially supplanting all your previous
level 1 Espers and Cuchulainn, with the exception of Zalera. Even the
level 3 Espers will have trouble keeping up with these two in terms of
utility.

Zeromus also has pretty good physical Defence, which means that even
as a meat shield, he will do a good job at this point without much
help. He is more susceptible to magical damage though, as he halves
damage from all elements but has no immunities or affinities.

If your summoner is a little over level 30 by now, Zeromus will have
about 3500 HP. Cast Bubble on him and he goes up to 7000. Which means
that, if you get his HP very low, Gravity Well can hit for about 14000
and Big Bang for 35000! These are very big numbers, enough to finish
most of the bosses and Hunts you'll soon be facing within a single
summoning.

Routinely using a level 2 Esper like Zeromus requires a different
approach from your previous Espers. Luckily, now that we have Syphon,
MP management is less of a problem. The idea is to summon, then use
Syphon on the Esper (Espers do not need MP to cast their magic). If it
costs 2 Mist Charges to summon Zeromus, Syphoning him will give you
most of it back (but usually less than 2 full Charges). The nice thing
is level 1 Espers have more MP than they cost to summon, with Zalera
having by far the most. You can usually get 1.5 Mist Charges by
Syphoning Zalera, which also allows you to enter the "Zalera loop"
when your foe is below 30% HP: Summon, Syphon Zalera while he charges
Condemnation, then repeat. It is a self-feeding loop, since you always
get back the MP you wasted and then some. Because Syphon has a success
rate below 100%, always have an Indigo Pendant on when you Syphon from
your Esper, especially during the Zalera loop.

Zeromus also needs proper grooming to be effective during battle. Just
like with Zalera, Measures come to the rescue. The fastest way to
reduce Zeromus's HP within devastation range is to have the summoner
hit him with a series of Measures (which will also potentially buff
him up), starting from the most powerful you have and continuing with
gradually weaker Measures, until you get his HP close to about
100-200, or even below that. Note that Measures can get critical hits,
meaning they can deal double the damage they normally do, so be
careful and do not get too risky, you might accidentally kill
him. Since attacks charge very fast, you can prep him for max damage
(as well as buff him up) quickly and without wasting any more of your
MP. Alternatively, you can use Gravity on him, Drain or Infuse to get
his HP down to critical.

After you bring him down to the HP levels you want, cast Bubble on him
and Haste. This is the best approach when you can keep Zeromus away
from enemy fire, or you want to prepare him before battle. It is a
very good strategy against many bosses and Hunts, since Big Bang is
triggered during the last 10 seconds of the summoning (not when his HP
is low). You can prepare Zeromus, wait until his time is almost up,
then enter the battle/draw him near the Hunt to have him execute Big
Bang immediately for colossal damage.

Of course, you can let your enemy do the honours. In that case, just
cast Bubble and Haste on Zeromus and let the foe start chipping away
at his HP. The more he hurts him, the hardest Zeromus will strike
back. In that case, your summoner should be on the lookout to timely
replenish Zeromus's HP when it gets dangerously low.

Obtaining Zeromus essentially marks the end of your financial hurdles
as well. The Dark Lords that were such a menace during the battle will
respawn whenever you enter the Throne of Veiled Gods. Each time you go
there, you'll get 35-40 of them to spawn. They tend to drop
Blood-darkened Bones as a common drop, which sells for more than 1400
a piece and you can also steal more Dragon Mails from them. Chaining
them is a good method to make a lot of gil fast. All you do is enter
the chamber where Zeromus was, start chaining till they stop spawning,
then touch the Way Stone. It will first teleport you to Ward of the
Sword-King. Then touch it again to return to the first area. Do not
attack the Nightwalkers there so you don't break your chain. Instead,
touch the Way Stone and you'll be back in Throne of Veiled Gods. Since
teleporting is tantamount to zoning and you just zoned twice, the Dark
Lords will now respawn. Continue chaining until you have 99
Blood-darkened Bowns, then sell your loot for a hefty 140000+ gil. You
now have enough financial resources to obtain all monographs (and even
the Canopic Jar, if you want), as well as buy whatever is available in
shops and the Bazaar.

It is time to do some shopping now. First, buy the Viking Coat from
the merchant in Mt. Bur-Omisace (grants immunity to Water) and a Fire
Shield (halves Fire damage). You can also buy the 1000 Needles
technick from the Mosphoran Highwaste and the Multiscale Measure. Also
buy from Mosphoran the Flame Bow, which is now available and is an
excellent alternative to the Sagittarius for Fran, as it increases
Fire damage by 50%, so used with Fiery Arrows against Fire-weak
enemies (or just oiled ones) it can be more effective than the
Sagittarius. Not only that, it also increases the potency of Fire
spells casted by Fran by 50%!

After that, go to Rabanastre and buy all the available new
spells. Dispel is a must, since it allows you to remove buffs from
enemies. Remember to buy 2 Goggle Masks (light helms) from the armour
shop, we will need these soon. Also accept all the available Hunts at
this point and visit Montblanc to get some rewards, as well as a new
Elite Mark (Carrot). To get the Syphon spell, board the Airship from
Rabanastre to Nalbina, you can buy it inside the Airship.

There are now several new Hunts available for us, so you might want to
devote some time to them. I would suggest you also get the remaining
Bubble Belts now that you have the money, as they will eventually
become unavailable for a while once you complete the new Hunts.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: A Chase Through the Woods 
Vorpal Bunny (Rank III) 
HP: 20010 - LV: 31
=======================================

An easy Hunt in theory, this can be quite tricky since the Bunny will
constantly run around very fast, aggroing everything and escaping your
attacks. You will find him in the Rustling Chapel area of Golmore
Jungle. He usually spawns in one of the rectangular areas. Do not
start clearing the place of other foes. If you do, skeletons will
begin spawning while you fight the Bunny. Kill only the foes that
engage you, stay away from anything else.

When the Vorpal Bunny shows up, cast Berserk and use
Niho+Remedy. Berserk is the only way to make him stick around and
attack you, since he is immune to Immobilize, Disable, Stop and
Sleep. Then use Guns and Crossbows to hit him, as he can parry your
attacks from conventional weapons. He doesn't have much HP, it should
be over quick.

The Lightning Arrows you get as a reward add one more element to your
elemental ammo list. Too bad we couldn't have them before Paramina
Rift!

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: The Mine Flayer
Mindflayer (Rank IV) 
HP: 31161 - LV: 35
=======================================

This is an excellent Hunt for Zeromus to show his power. You will find
him in the Phase 1 Dig area of the Henne Mines, right after the first
couple of Nightmares you encounter when you move south coming from the
Phase 1 Shaft. To spawn him, you must enter the area with your
character(s) having full Mist Charges (just switch in one character
with full Mist Charges and cross the line with him, you can then bring
in whoever you want).

He has a couple of nasty magic numbers, like Time Requiem and Hero's
March (casts a number of buffs on himself), as well as the ability to
restore all his HP the first time he goes critical. So the best way to
deal with him, is swiftly. Stand away from Mindflayer, summon Zeromus
and bring him down to lowest HP. The ideal way for this fight (since
you don't care about wasting MP, you'll only summon him once) is to
first cast Bubble on Zeromus, then use Charge until the summoner's MP
goes to 0, stroll to get only 1 MP and use Infuse on Zeromus. This
will bring him to 10 HP. Wait for a while, then when his summoning
time is almost up, cast Haste on him (use Charge to get the MP for
that) and draw him close to the Mindflayer. He will usually target the
summoner. If you see him charging Time Requiem, fear not, if you see
some level-2 spell like Thundara, move away. Thus, he won't have
enough time to hit you until Zeromus unleashes Big Bang, which given
the Mindflayer's HP, is more than enough to take care of him.

Alternatively, you can just cast Bubble, Haste, Decoy and Shell on
Zeromus, then draw him near the Hunt. The nice thing with the
Mindflayer, is that he tends to use Invert, which will immediately
bring Zeromus down to very low HP levels, meaning 3 Gravity Wells will
be enough to kill the foe. The bad news is, he usually follows this
with Drain, but with Shell on, you have a good chance of Zeromus
surviving it long enough to deliver the finishing blow.

Also, Mindflayer is susceptible to Berserk, which renders him unable
to cast any of his spells. So you can start the battle casting Berserk
and using Niho+Remedy. The latter will cause Slow and Blind and your
team won't have a problem defeating him fast with physical attacks,
although you shouldn't use Guns, as he is resistant to them.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: The Deserter's Revenge 
Bloodwing (Rank V) 
HP: 41171 - LV: 37
=======================================

Bloodwing himself is easy, the problem is he is located in Barheim
Passage's Zeviah Span, in the middle of the narrow path that led to
Zalera. Remember all those Specters and Dead Bones that were harassing
you back then when you were trying to get the Dragon Mail or reach
Zalera? It's payback time!

Now that you have Basch with the Zodiac Spear and your levels are
considerably higher, you won't have much trouble with the mobs in
Zeviah Span. The idea though is to progress gradually through the area
and start clearing the path, without spawning too many foes at once
and risking getting overwhelmed. The Zodiac Spear will be very
effective against the Specters (who are resistant to Guns), while the
Fomalhaut is better against the Dead Bones (that can parry). Use your
Silent Shot, as both types of enemies will cast dangerous level 2
elemental spells against you, so Silence is a good debut here. Have a
mage casting buffs on your primary attackers and healing the team
(maintain also Decoy on your tank). Then start ascending the narrow
path and continue the same way, slowly advancing until Bloodwing
spawns.

Use Niho+Remedy or cast Immobilize. Then have Fran and Balthier
shooting with their ranged weapon, Bloodwing takes normal damage from
all elements except Holy (weak) and Dark (absorbs). His HP is
relatively low, so it won't take many hits to get him. Alternatively,
summon Zeromus and do the same drill as for the Mindflayer.

If you're using Handbombs, the Stun Bombs you receive as a reward are
very useful, as they can inflict the Stop status and many enemies are
weak to it.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Trouble in the Hills
Atomos (Rank III) 
HP: 40020 - LV: 33
=======================================

You'll find him in the northern region of Mosphoran Highwaste
(Northern Skirts). This is essentially the same as Enkelados, only
with higher HP. After you clear the other foes in the area, approach
Atomos and cast Dispel (to remove Shell), then Niho+Alarm Clock or
cast Sleep. Now summon Zeromus, reduce his HP using Measures or Infuse
and he'll defeat him easily. Recast Sleep if you have to (Atomos can
use Restore and Purify like Enkelados, keep him asleep). His HP is too
high for Big Bang to one-hit kill him, but 3 Gravity Wells at low HP
will be more than enough. You can also use Zalera if you prefer, it
just takes longer.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Rodeo to the Death 
Braegh (Rank IV) 
HP: 43283 - LV: 35
=======================================

Another super-easy Hunt if you use Espers. This little pony spawns at
the Corridor of Ages in the Salikawood, down the stairs that lead to
the Necrohol of Nabudis. Using Zeromus and Zalera, you can kill him
without even seeing what he looks like.

Stand at the top of the stairs, away from Braegh and summon
Zeromus. Reduce his HP using Measures, cast Bubble and Haste on him,
pump an Ether (so you have at least one Mist Charge left on your
summoner) and when his time is almost up, move a little closer
(remaining at the top of the stairs) so Zeromus can target
Braegh. Zeromus will descent the stairs by himself and execute Big
Bang without getting attacked. After that, Braegh will be on the verge
of death, so immediately summon Zalera and he will descent the stairs
as well and deliver the killing blow. That simple.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Carrot Stalk 
Carrot (Rank VII) 
HP: 110842 - LV: 49 
=======================================

This Elite Mark is kind of a puzzle. He starts out not being harder
than any of the lower level Hunts you've faced so far. Then suddenly,
when he goes critical, he turns into a Rank VII Hunt alright! During
this phase he goes on a rampage, attacking with physical hits that
deal several THOUSAND damage and will instantly kill any of your
party, even if you have all protective buffs on. Oh, and he has Null
Evade too, so Shields and Main Gauche are useless here.

You will find Carrot in the Sun-Dappled area of the Salikawood. But in
order for the Hunt to appear, you must not kill any foe from the time
you enter the Salikawood until you reach this place. You will be
assisted by a Viera hunter, Krjn, who will turn out to be helpful for
a change.

Being a Malboro and all, Carrot is big on status ailments, with
attacks such as Putrid Breath and Time Requiem that he'll use very
often. Summoning an Esper is thus a no-brainer. The first thing to do,
is summon Zeromus. Before you engage Carrot, hurt him so he'll be
around 1500-2000 HP with Bubble on. Carrot will initially attack for
about 500 per hit, so he should be able to survive a few blows. Then
cast Haste on Zeromus and draw him towards the Hunt. Carrot will start
using physical attacks and status ailments against him. In the mean
time have the summoner cast Dispel to remove Carrot's buffs (he does
tend to renew them though). Do not forget to syphon Zeromus and also
pump an Ether if you need it to be ready to summon again.

Now the rest is mainly luck-dependent. If you get lucky, Carrot will
land a couple of hits, getting Zeromus's HP very low, then start using
Putrid Breath and Time Requiem until the time for Big Bang comes. In
that case, you can finish Carrot with only one summoning. Usually
though that won't happen. Either Zeromus will pass a long time
unmolested and won't be able to deal enough damage, or Carrot will
simply kill him. Whatever happens, just summon him again to
continue. Keep your summoner away from Carrot and you shouldn't have
much of a trouble. That is, until Carrot uses Growing Threat, which
doubles his levels and will make his regular attacks deal more than
1000 damage.

When that happens, make sure you cast Bubble on Zeromus immediately
after you summon and hope he survives a single blow. If he does manage
to get Carrot's HP low enough, you can summon Zalera and potentially
finish him like that. If Zeromus's summoning ends with Carrot at
critical, this is the most dangerous part, as he will now be able to
hit for 4000-5000, even with a Dragon Mail on. If the summoner gets
K.O.d or hit by Purtid Breath, it's a good idea to bring in your
reserves and start a Quickening Chain to finish him off. Otherwise,
have Basch and Balthier in reserve with Haste, Bravery and Berserk on
and bring them in to hopefully kill Carrot fast.

If you prefer to tank Carrot yourself, have one of the party leaders
with good light armour on (Crown of Laurels+Minerva Bustier if you
have them) and a Bubble Belt, attacking with a melee weapon that can
inflict Slow (like the Heavy Lance) and Balthier at critical with
Berserk, Bravery, Hermes Sandals and Fomalhaut+Silent Shot. The third
character should be a mage (probably Fran) with buffing gambits, as
well as Esuna and Chronos Tears in case the tank gets hit by Putrid
Breath. Balthier will hit for 9999 once you Dispel Carrot and
inflicting him with Slow and Silence (the only two debuffs that work
with him) will induce him to lose turns trying to Purify them. Carrot
tends to hit the person nearest to it, so don't bother with Decoy,
instead keep Shell on the tank. Have the mage heal the tank manually
with Curaga. When Carrot goes apeshit, try to keep the tank's HP at
max and use Curaga or Pheasant Netsuke+X-Potion against him, as
healing spells/items can hurt it and chip away the last of its HP. Gil
Toss is also a good idea. If the tank gets K.O.d, don't bother
reviving, just bring another character in and attack relentlessly
until he falls.

By the way, if you happen to have two Fomalhauts in your inventory,
you can finish this Hunt in a heartbeat. Just get your two gunners at
critical with Haste/Bravery/Berserk in reserve and engage with only
your tank, then switch in the dps characters. Pop a couple of
X-Potions on your tank and you should be fine.

======================================= 
OPTIONAL: Adding Insult to Injury 
Roblon (Rank VI) 
HP: 177365 - LV: 43
=======================================

Another excellent Hunt for Zeromus! Just like Bloodwing, the real
difficulty is the terrain. Roblon spawns in the Overlooking Eternity
area of the Nabreus Deadlands, a place infested with Dead Bones that
will spawn all the way until you reach Roblon, as well as on the
plateau where he is located. They can make this a very difficult and
confusing battle if you let them unchecked.

To reach Overlooking Eternity, start from the Nabreus teleport
crystal, enter the Slumbermead and head towards the west, hugging the
northern frontier of that area. Near where the turtle is, you'll find
a secret path that leads further west into The Fog Mutters. Proceed
west all the way, then north to enter Overlooking Eternity. You will
be encountering Dead Bones and Banshees very frequently until you get
there. Have Basch with the Zodiac Spear and a Bubble Belt, as well as
Balthier with Fomalhaut+Silent Shot and a mage casting the usual buffs
(Haste, Bravery Berserk). Both Basch and Balthier should wear the
Goggle Masks, as the Dead Bones will use Flash against you.

When you enter Overlooking Eternity, start advancing slowly up the
path that leads to Roblon, so that you gradually spawn the Dead Bones
and take them down without much difficulty. If you get overwhelmed,
have the mage cast Blizzara with the Glacial Staff. Once you are
almost at the plateau where Roblon is (but before reaching it) and
after you have dismissed all Dead Bones that have spawned, bring in
your summoner. Do not move that character at all and have her summon
Zeromus. Now positioning is really important here. If you have the
summoner properly placed, on the path that leads to the plateau but
not quite up there yet, once the Esper is summoned he will stay near
your summoner and won't spawn any new Dead Bones (keep the summoner
still always), while Roblon will target him with magic attacks but
will be unable to hit him. Now bring Zeromus down to critical as
always (use Drain or Infuse, do not hit him with Measures as this will
probably make the summoner move) and he will start ravaging Roblon,
who will be totally unable to either attack or defend. It usually only
takes a couple of summonings to deplete his entire HP. And you won't
spawn any Dead Bones or get attacked by Roblon at all.

It might be a little tricky to get the right position. Some times
Zeromus may end up barely within Roblon's attack range. He will then
hit the Esper (and your summoner) with level-2 spells, all of which
are reflectable, so just cast Reflect if that happens and you'll be
fine.

In the unlikely event that a Dead Bone spawns during the summoning, if
Zeromus is unable to finish it before it causes more trouble, just
dismiss him, bring in your DPS characters to kill the foe and try
again.

The Giant's Helmet you get as a reward is very good for Basch, give it
to him.

========================= 
43. Salikawood 
=========================

Now that you're done with all the extra hunting, you can proceed with
the plot. To do this you have to teleport to Salikawood (if you
haven't visited the place yet, you can now get there just heading
north of Nalbina, through the Mosphoran Highwaste). Once there, head
towards the east until you reach the Living Chasm. You'll find a
Moogle here that will task you with finding 9 Moogles in the forest
(their locations are now marked on your map). Just head where the
question marks are, talk to the Moogles and that's it. Once you locate
all 9 of them, you will be given the option to return to the Living
Chasm. There the gate that leads to the Phon Coast will be
opened. Talk to the chief of the Moogles and he'll give you a pair of
Quasimodo Boots for your good work. You can now either proceed to
enter Phon Coast, or head back to the teleport crystal and return to
the Mosphoran Highwaste for some more sidequesting that will land you
with your seventh Esper, Exodus.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Exodus 
HP: 119060 - LV: 46
==========================

This Esper becomes available the moment you open the gate to the Phon
Coast. To reach him, you need to go through a little sidequest as
usual with these optional Espers. Before you start, make sure you have
one Gyshal Green (you'll have to ride a Chocobo). Then, in the
Mosphoran Highwaste, examine the South Wind Shrine and activate it. Do
the same with the North-West Shrine, then exit the area towards Rays
of Ashen Light. You'll find a Chocobo there. Use a Gyshal Green to
ride it, head into the Empyrean Way and turn right past the Humbabas
there and continue over grass to enter the Skyreach Ridge. At the
lower part of this area there is an exit towards the Babbling
Vale. Descent the Chocobo and enter, then activate the West Wind
Shrine there. Finally, examine the rock to gain entrance to the lower
part of Babbling Vale. Now that you have opened the path, you can
visit Skyreach Ridge without using the Chocobo. Save at the teleport
crystal and return to Skyreach Ridge. Once you enter there, prepare
your team for battle, then flee all the way up past the Vultures and
into Empyrean Seat, where Exodus is.

You'll have noticed that Exodus has considerably less HP and lower
levels than Zeromus. He also has no minions (thank God!). Still,
Exodus has a couple of tricks up his sleeve that can make him quite a
formidable foe. The first is that Items cannot be used during this
battle. The second is that once his HP gets low, he will raise a
paling against physical attacks for some time (it will eventually wear
off). The fact he keeps casting Reflect on himself will render
attacking him with magic quite problematic during this phase.

Let's face it, this guy is easy at the point he becomes available. As
long as you have a Fomalhaut, you won't have a problem with Exodus
(and if you have two of them...). If you go for all out attack right
away, you will be able to finish him without giving him much time to
actually hurt you, or raise his annoying paling, so this is really the
way to go here.

Before the battle, have Balthier at critical with the usual buffs
(Bravery, Berserk) and Hermes Sandals. Give him the Fomalhaut and
Onion Shot (Exodus halves all elemental attacks). Similarly, Fran at
critical with your best heavy armour (I assume you do have the Dragon
Mails by now) and Celebrant's Miter, Cat-Eared Hood and Yoichi
Bow+Parallel Arrows. Have her under Bravery, Haste and
Berserk. Finally, Basch with the Golden Skullcaps (or whatever is you
best mystic helm), Dragon Mail, Dawn Shard and the Zodiac Spear. Cast
on him Berserk, Haste, Bravery, Bubble and Decoy. Have all three
characters in reserve, then enter the battle with a character that can
use Dispel. Once the battle begins, take a few steps forward, then
bring in Basch. The moment Exodus targets him, have the leader cast
Dispel while staying away from the Esper, concurrently bringing in
Balthier. Once Dispel goes through, switch out the leader for Fran.

Normally, this ends within seconds, as Exodus will only have enough
time to target Basch once with a high level non-elemental spell (he
uses Flare and Scathe, the two most powerful spells in the game),
which he will be able to withstand given his high Magic Defence. The
Esper will be dead before he has a chance to perform any other
action. At most, he may have enough time to use Unleash (gives him 0
CT for his spells) before it's all over. The only thing that might go
wrong, is having Exodus hitting Basch physically. His physical attacks
can cause Stop and if this happens, Basch will lose his Decoy status
and Exodus can then target (and kill) some other party member.

If for some reason you can't finish him before he raises his paling,
the way to go is keeping Basch Decoyed and healed, while two other
characters use Drain against Exodus. You can also summon Zalera, but
make sure you have the summoner under Bubble or wearing a Bubble Belt
before you do that, as Exodus can potentially kill him if he hits with
Scathe or Flare before Condemnation. But really, it is preferable not
to allow this fight drag for long. Exodus only uses high level spells
that will introduce queueing and prevent you from casting your own
(offensive and defensive) spells in time. This coupled with the fact
that you are prevented from using items leaves little room to
maneuver. Just attack fast and go for the jugular.

Like Zeromus, Exodus is an immensely powerful ally. The best thing
about him is that he comes with all the buffs you'd like right out of
the box. The only thing to do once you summon him is cast Bubble. This
serves a double purpose, just like with Zemorus. First, it makes him
more survivable (obviously). Second, it practically doubles his
offensive power. That's because Exodus's normal attack, Comet, acts
like a Knot of Rust, dealing damage that is a random number between
zero and Exodus's max HP. So with Bubble on, you get double the
damage. At first glance, the whole "random damage" gimmick may seem
like a letdown. Do not be deceived. Exodus will be routinely
devastating and with Bubble on, you are looking at at least 60-70
thousand damage per summoning, with little to no risk involved (unlike
Zeromus). This is because Exodus has Haste already on and Comet hits
very fast. Also, since Comet deals fixed damaged, it is totally
unaffected by Shell, Protect or increased Defences. Note that unlike
Knots of Rust, Comet is considered magic attack, so it will penetrate
palings against physical attacks.

When it comes to his final attack, the triggering condition is the
weirdest yet. Exodus will use his final attack, Meteor, during the
last 10 seconds of his summoning, if you cast Immobilize on him (it is
the only status ailment he isn't immune to)! Meteor works the same way
as Comet, with the added effect that it also has a chance to deal
30000 damage. From what I've witnessed, he tends to deal max damage
quite often (I would say at least 1 out of 3 times). Meteor also does
splash damage, and this can be as high as 10000, even if the main hit
is below 30000, so it can be a good opening against bosses with
minions. But generally, Exodus is an excellent all-purpose Esper,
ideal for both strolling through areas and use during boss battles,
where he shines both offensively and as a tank.

Exodus halves damage from all elements and has the same Defence as
Zeromus, so he is pretty durable (perhaps the most resilient of all
Espers). The fact that he can deal maximum damage even at full HP
(unlike Zeromus) only adds to his value as a tank. Throughout the rest
of the game, he will probably be your go-to offensive Esper, except
for the occasions where you can keep enemy fire away from the Esper
(in which case Zeromus is preferable).

An added bonus from obtaining Exodus is that we can now get the
Sagittarius, the ultimate Bow in the game and a long overdue upgrade
for Fran, who has been using that Yoichi Bow for far too long. To get
it, we first need to buy the Dragoon's Monograph. You can unlock this
in the Bazaar if you check the Notice Board 40 times in total. You can
then purchase it for 22000 gil. We also need the Knight's
Monograph. Unlock it buy talking to a weapon shop at least 30 times,
then buy it for 19000 gil. Once you have these, get back to the
Mosphoran Highwaste. All the missing ingredients for the Sagittarius
are here.

First, we need two Moon Rings. These are a monograph drop from Ash
Wyrm. Normally you wouldn't be able to find these until after the
events at Giruvegan. But now that we defeated Exodus, an Ash Wyrm
spawns at the very place where the Esper was. So just head there, kill
the Ash Wyrm and if you get the Moon Ring, go back and save, then soft
reset, otherwise just soft reset and try again. The reason for the
reset is that this particular foe won't respawn unless you exit
Mosphoran Highwaste and return, so it's faster to just soft reset and
return for the next Ash Wyrm. It does take some time, but it's not
anything terrible.

Once you get the Moon Rings, start killing the Humbabas (you can find
three of them in the Northern Skirts). You need 3 Beastlord Horns from
them, again their monograph drop. These coupled with the 4 Sagittarius
Gems that you probably have already from the Foobars in Nabreus, as
well as that Moon Ring you got as a reward for Ring Wyrm, will be
enough to unlock the Sagittarius for a whopping 60000 gil (but if you
have money shortages, just visit Zeromus's chamber to chain those Dark
Lords). This will be Fran's weapon practically for the rest of the
game, except from the odd occasion when she'll be using a staff.
   
A final remark: You may have noticed by now a chest spawning on the
path that leads to Exodus within the Babbling vale (the one you opened
by moving the rock). This has a chance of giving you the Embroidered
Tippet, which when equipped, doubles the amount of EXP gained by the
character wearing it. Naturally, it only works with active party
members, so you can keep the Golden Amulets on your reserves. If you
are worried about your level advancement, you can try farming for
Embroidered Tippets here, although it won't take long until you're
able to actually buy this accessory. But you really shouldn't fret
over it, your levels will be fine for every quest in the game, even if
you never use Embroidered Tippets on your characters.

========================= 
44. Phon Coast 
=========================

Now that you have obtained Exodus, you can teleport back to
Salikawood, return to the gate and enter Phon Coast. Save at the
crystal you'll find there. The enemies in Phon Coast are nothing
remarkable. Make your way towards the east (The Reseta
Strand->Pora-Pora Sands->Cape Uahuk) until you reach the Hunter's
Camp. Here save at the teleport crystal. Also buy any new spells and
gear you want. If you didn't manage to get a Koga Blade from the Ash
Wyrm while farming for Sagittarius, buy the Kagenui, it's a nice Ninja
Sword. You may also want to pick up the Site 11 Key, that lies next to
a guy sitting close to that big round rock south of the save
crystal. You will find a shining thing on the ground there if you
completed the Antilion Hunt. Pick it up and it's the Site 11 Key,
giving you access to the deepest (and most dangerous) regions of the
Lhusu Mines. You will need it later during your fight with Gilgamesh.

IMPORTANT!! READ BEFORE YOU PROCEED!!

If you exit the Hunter's Camp into the Vaddu Strand, you'll notice a
square arrangement of 16 chests on the beach, like the ones in the
Necrohol of Nabudis. This is not a coincidence. In fact, these chests
and the ones in Nabudis are connected and if you open one of the Vaddu
Strand ones, the corresponding chest in Nabudis will disappear. This
includes the fateful Zodiac Spear Chest. If you have gotten it
already, you'll see there is one chest missing in Vaddu Strand. Do not
open any of the chests here, even if you're not interested in the
Zodiac Spear (there is a good reason for that, check the Cerobi Steppe
Farming section below).

=============================== 
OPTIONAL: Cerobi Steppe Farming
===============================

We now have the chance to go on a farming spree for some amazing
high-level gear. The trouble is, it requires a little bit of patience
(and good luck) but in my opinion, the rewards are totally worth
it. What we need to do, is enter the Cerobi Steppe. But before we get
there, we need something else more important. First, exit the Hunter's
Camp towards Caima Hills. There is a Chocobo here. Use a Gyshal Green
to ride it and continue north through Limatra Hills and Ravas Pass and
into the Tchita Uplands. Here, head southeast into Oliphzak Rise, then
the Nameless Spring. You'll find a save crystal here. Save your
game. Now the hard part begins.

We need to get a Diamond Armlet. This accessory changes the content of
chests to give you (potentially) better rewards. The catch is, when
the Diamond Armlet is equipped with one of your active party members
(not necessarily your team leader), the chances of getting the high
quality items are usually pretty low (normally around 10%). Most
chests will either give you higher amounts of gil, or Knots of
Rust. But some chests in the game have some very high level gear and
items as rewards if you use the Diamond Armlet and many of the chests
in Cerobi Steppe belong to that category.

The Diamond Armlet itself isn't easy to obtain either. Normally you
can buy it from the Estersand merchant after the events in
Giruvegan. The only way of getting one earlier is from a chest that
appears in the Garden of Life's Circle, on the south end near a
tree. The problem here, is the chest spawns very rarely. It only
appears with a 10% chance. And when it does appear, it has a 50%
chance of giving you an item instead of gil and then 50% chance of
this item being a Diamond Armlet (otherwise you get a
Hi-Ether). Adding all these together, you have a measly 2.5% chance of
getting a Diamond Armlet every time you enter the Garden of Life's
Circle. And since you need to zone three times in order to respawn
chests, it is better to just soft reset and retry every time you fail
to get it. Actually, the hard part is getting the chest to appear in
the first place. Once it does, you might get lucky and get the Diamond
Armlet immediately. But from what I've experienced, nothing is
guaranteed. I usually get my Armlet with less than 20 attempts but
there have been cases where I'd have to try more than 50 times before
the first Diamond Armlet showed up. Make sure you close all
gambits. You don't want to waste time fighting enemies during
this. Just enter the area, flee towards where the chest is (it's on
the southeast, near a tree. There is only this chest appearing in this
area.), open it (if it's there) then flee back or soft reset depending
on the results.

Know that entering Cerobi Steppe can be beneficial at this point even
if you do not have the Diamond Armlet, as you'll be able to get the
loot required to unlock the Windslicer Shot and the Ultima Blade from
there very easily, especially now that you have the monographs. If you
are mostly interested in Ultima Blade, head for Cerobi Steppe now.

When you finally get your Diamond Armlet, return to the Phon Coast
Hunter's Camp. The easiest way is using the teleport crystal in the
Chosen Path. You can get there heading north from Garden of Life's
Circle, then west. Back at the camp, ride the Chocobo again. In order
to reach the Cerobi Steppe, you'll have to ride through Phon Coast,
then traverse Tchita Uplands towards the very eastern end (The Shaded
Path). You won't have much time as the road is long, so use your
sprints right away to get there as quickly as you can. Once in the
Shaded Path, move your Chocobo towards the rocks that block the
passage. If you position it correctly, the Chocobo will walk over the
obstacles and into Cerobi Steppe.

Now that you're there, continue south through Old Elanise Road (I
suggest you just flee, although you can take care of all of the
enemies here easily), into the Crossfield and then Journey's Rest,
where a save crystal awaits you. This is your boot camp for all the
subsequent farming we're going to do. Save here. Before you do this
though, it's a good idea to set up a character as runner with the
Diamond Armlet, no gambits and Float and Vanish on. The latter two
spells will make it harder for the enemies in the area to detect
you. You can thus run by them without being attacked, even if you get
closer than you'd normally could without drawing their attention. This
will make the process easier and faster. Note that enemies can spot
you using both sight and sound. Vanish takes care of the former, while
float of the latter (you'll notice you make no sounds while walking on
grass under float).
  
Now the long and sometimes aggravating process of farming
begins. There are numerous chests in the Cerobi Steppe that can give
you great rewards when using the Diamond Armlet. Thankfully, the ones
we are mainly interested in, are in the areas close to the save
crystal (Terraced Bank, Crossfield, Old Elanise Road and the
Northsward). You can find the exact locations and item content in
other resources online, I will only point out the relevant chests for
each area:

-Crossfield: Icecloud Arrows, Ribbon, Dark Shot.  
-Old Elanise Road: Magepower Shishak, Windslicer Shot.  
-The Northsward: Assasin's Arrows, Black Robes.  
-Terraced Bank: Cloud Staff, Euclid's Sextant.

Note that there are a lot of other great stuff you can find here, but
these are the ones I mainly prefer to get. Arguably the best items are
the Ribbon (obviously), the Dark Shot and the Black robes. The latter
will make a killer combo, as Black Robes boost Dark-elemental damage
by 50%. Put these on Balthier, along with the Fomalhaut and Dark
Shot. With Berserk and Bravery on and full HP, he'll hit for 9999
EVERY TIME against every enemy in the game from now on, unless the foe
has gun resistance or halves elemental damage/absorbs Dark.  Black
Robes are also amazing when used with Ninja Swords (again, Dark
Elemental). Put a character with a Ninja Sword under Berserk and
critical HP, give the Black Robes and Cat-Eared Hood and he'll be
doing devastating damage very fast and comboing like mad! As the Ninja
Sword licences are very close to Gun licences, Balthier should
probably be your Ninja Sword wielder. Black Robes will also be our
best mystic armour for a long time, so try to get two of them, so you
can have one with your mage and one for Balthier.

Euclid's Sextant is also ideal for prepping Zeromus quickly and the
Assasin's Arrows are great for Fran with their 25% instant death
chance. The Windslicer shot will be devastating later on against some
bosses and Hunts that are weak to Wind. Icecloud Arrows will complete
your collection of elemental ammo. Of course, the real bottleneck here
is the Ribbon. The chance of getting one is about 1%, so it will take
MANY attempts until you are successful. But seriously, it's the
Ribbon, it really can't get much better than this when it comes to
accessories. It will be invaluable later on, even if you get only one
Ribbon. In places like the Great Crystal and Henne Mines, where you'll
be attacked with terrible status ailments from numerous foes, it can
really be a lifesaver.

My preferred method of farming the chests in Cerobi Steppe, is using
the runner to first open the chests near the entrance of Terraced
Bank. Then the ones in the Crossfield, then the Northsward, return to
Crossfield, check the two chests near the entrance of Old Elanise
Road, then return to the Terraced Bank (chests have respawned now) for
a second try there. If you get one (or more) rare item during your
stroll, save the game and try again, this time omitting the chests you
where successful with (unless it was the Black Robe one, remember, we
need two of these). Continue this way until you are only left with one
or two chests per area. Then just focus on them exclusively until you
get the rare item. This is the best approach to getting the
Ribbon. Arguably this process can be very long and boring. But the
truth is, the rewards are just so great that it actually starts
getting strangely addictive, especially from the point on where you
get you first rare items. It tends to get quite aggravating close to
the end though, when you are trying to get these final 2-3 elusive
items that simply refuse to show up.

If you're really bored with all this stuff but still want to get
things like Ribbons and Dark Shot en mass, there is an easy way
out. It turns out you can abuse the game's random number generator, so
that you're guaranteed to get the rare items any time you open any
chest. You can find several good guides and videos online explaining
the whole process in detail, so I won't go into that. Just know that
you can get all the rare items very easily and quickly in as great
numbers as you like if you use these methods. Many of the items in
Cerobi Steppe can be bought later in the game, but some of them won't
ever be available for purchase. This includes all ammunition (Bolts,
Bombs, Shots and Arrows) you can find here, as well as things like the
Ribbon.

Other neat items you can get in Cerobi Steppe are Shell Shields (you
can get your third one from a chest in Terraced Bank, it is advisable
to do so), Fomalhauts, Castellanos (best Bombs in the game), Water
Bombs, Grand Bolts (best Bolts in the game), Mirage Vests (essentially
the best light armour). You can also get Scathe Motes from the Ribbon
chest if you open it without the Diamond Armlet, so the chances of
getting these are pretty good and Scathe Motes can be invaluable later
when we fight Zodiark. It's advisable to build a small stash of them
as well.

You can also now collect the missing loot for the Ultima Blade. This
is the Adamantite. You can get it as a monograph drop from the
Adamantitans (turtle like enemies) that spawn in Feddick River. Once
you get 2 of these, you're good to go. If you already have that Gnoma
Halcyon from the Westersand, head back to Zertinan Caverns and get 2
Death Powders from the Bogeys there (in Drybeam Cavern and Darkened
Wharf), again a monograph drop. Sell all the loot and the fabulous
Ultima Blade is yours. With 118 attack, it is the best melee weapon
you have access to at this point besides the Zodiac Spear (you can
also get the Scorpion Tail with 119 attack, but you'll deal more
damage on average with the Ultima Blade). In some cases from now on,
it may be useful to have two melee fighters concurrently, one with the
Zodiac Spear, the other with the Ultima Blade. I wouldn't bother
giving the licence to Basch (you want him with the Zodiac Spear at all
times), so better give this to Balthier, or some of your party
leaders, in case you run across some fight where tanking is pointless
and you do want them to do some damage instead.

In case you didn't get that Diamond Armlet, you can obtain the
Windslicer Shot from the Bazaar. The missing loot to get (Ring Wyrm
Scale) is a drop and steal from the Shield Wyrms in Cerobi Steppe. You
could also get these from the Shield Wyrms that appear in Nabreus
Deadlands, but in that case the loot we want is only a very rare drop
and since you need no less than 4 of these things, this is definitely
impractical. Not to mention the overlevelling you'd undergo, for the
Shield Wyrm drops insane EXP. It is also hard to kill if you don't
know what you're doing, as it has very high HP (around 60000 in Cerobi
Steppe), but throw a Phoenix Down with the Nihopalaoa or cast Death
and he's toast. Combine the 4 Ring Wyrm Scales with 5 Silver Liquids
(from the Foobars) and 7 Wind Crystals and the Armor-piercing Shot
package (Spica+Windslicer Shot) is yours for 15200 gil.

Once you're done with all your farming, you can return to the Phon
Coast (or Tchita Uplands, if you touched the teleport crystal there)
by going all the way to the east in Cerobi Steppe, until you reach
Balfonheim Port. You'll find a teleport crystal here (hurray!) that
will allow you to go back. Balfonheim Port is at the moment
inaccessible, we'll reach this place after the events in Archades, a
couple of dungeons down the road. Get back to Phon Coast or Tchita to
continue with the storyline. By the way, you can also use your Diamond
Armlet now in the Necrohol of Nabudis to open the remaining 15 chests
in the chamber where the Zodiac Spear was. Opening these with the
Diamond Armlet on will give you Dark Matter from all chests (except
one, which has a higher chance to give you gil). These Dark Matters
will be very useful against some of the late game Hunts and
superbosses.

========================= 
45. Tchita Uplands 
=========================

If you're back to the Hunter's Camp, make your way towards the
northeast, through Caima Hills, then Limatra Hills, then Ravas Pass to
enter Tchita Uplands. Once there, head east following the trail
through Realm of the Elder Dream into The Skytrail and then The Chosen
Path, where a teleport crystal is. The enemies you will encounter on
your way consist mainly of Coeurls and Serpents, both of which pose no
real threat. Have either Basch (Zodiac Spear) or Balthier
(Fomalhaut+Black Robes+Dark Shot) as your DPS, while your mage can
also do good damage against the Coeurls with Blizzara. From the
Coeurls you can get the Embroidered Tippets (doubles EXP gained for
your active party members wearing them) as a rare steal, so if you
want you can try and get some (do not fret though, once we get to
Archades we will be able to buy these). Coeurls can also hit you with
status ailments, so beware. Once at the teleport crystal, talk to the
boy there and accept the mystery Hunt (this is actually the next boss
we will be facing, not a proper Hunt). You can collect some Remedies
from the boy as a reward if you return later. Now exit east into The
Highlands and head north towards Fields of Eternity. To the northwest
you will find a cave entrance that leads to the next area.

========================= 
46. Sochen Cave Palace
=========================

If you have Balthier with the Dark Shot, remove it for there are
undead enemies here that absorb Dark. Head north until you reach the
door that seals the upper end of the Doubt Abandoned area and prepare
your team for battle before you enter. This is where you will face
your mystery Hunt.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Boss(es): Mandragora Prince / Alraune King / Onion Queen / Topstalk /
Pumpkin Star HP: 9069 - LV: 37
---------------------------------------------------------------------

You are immediately pitted against all 5 vegetables in a battle that
is as potentially frustrating as it is hilarious. The annoying thing
here is these guys will start running all the time and have you
chasing them around, while hitting you with status ailments at the
same time. They won't hit you that hard and their HP is very low, so
they really aren't that frightening. One idea is to enter the arena
with Decoy on your party leader and just get Balthier to kill them one
by one, while under Berserk. With the Fomalhaut and Dark Shot+Black
Robes, he will 1-hit kill any target. Be very mindful of the Confuse
status. If Balthier gets hit by it, disarm him asap and use
Esuna. Alternatively, summon Exodus, cast Decoy on him and let him
wail on them. If you have the Ribbon, put it on your summoner,
otherwise maintain Decoy and try to stay away from the bosses so you
can avoid things like Pollen. Use appropriate accessories if you are
getting targeted by some status spell. Other than that, you will
hardly have to heal at all. Exodus will be done with them long before
his summon time is up.

After the battle, exit the chamber west into The Acolyte's Burden and
proceed north until you see a save crystal (hint: It's a trap!). Kill
the Mimic that spawns and save your game. Now your goal is to traverse
the area by moving north through Mirror of the Soul, then Falls of
Time, then Destiny's March and into Hall of Shadowlight where the next
boss awaits. I wouldn't advise spending too much time killing enemies
here, as there is no save crystal before the next encounter. There is
also a puzzle you can solve in the Falls of Time that gives you access
to a hidden chamber. The puzzle is time-consuming and the reward
unimportant at this point (you will get either an Iga or a Koga Ninja
Sword from the hidden chamber chest. You probably have one already if
you got the Sagittarius), so I won't deal with it. Just head north and
hug the eastern wall of the dungeon. You will find an urn with the map
of the area on your way in Mirror of the Soul. Basch+Zodiac Spear or
Balthier+Fomalhaut will be more than enough to breeze through this
place. Imps are weak to Ice, so Blizzara is also pretty good. Prepare
your team before you enter Hall of Shadowlight.

-------------------------------- 
Boss: Ahriman HP: 62149 - LV: 38
--------------------------------

Ahriman is the first (and only) storyline boss that is resistant to
Guns, so you better not use the Fomalhaut here. It is a good
opportunity to use your brand new Ultima Blade (if you got it) along
with the Zodiac Spear. Ahriman can be a confusing battle, because he
tends to teleport around and from some point on he will start
splitting into multiple copies, all of which will be fakes except
one. You can make sure you target the real Ahriman if you use the foe:
highest max HP gambit, provided he doesn't teleport away while living
clones are still around. The clones have very little HP, but can
quickly overwhelm you if left unchecked. Healing spells are great here
(Ahriman is a Specter, hence undead).

I would suggest using a mage to cast Curaga on the boss and Basch
attacking with the Zodiac Spear. Enter the battle with your party
leader under Decoy and wearing the Nihopalaoa and use a Remedy to
inflict Slow, while the mage casts Regen on Ahriman. Not only will
these spells help with the battle, they will also act as a tag once he
starts splitting. Then put a Ribbon on your party leader (because he
will hit you with Confuse and Doom, otherwise use Remedies/Esuna) and
give him a good 1-handed Sword if you have one, as Ahriman will ignore
your Evasion, so no need for the Main Gauche. I will not suggest
dropping the Demon Shield though. At low HP, the boss will use Maser
Eye against you, a gravity-based Dark-elemental attack that hits very
hard, so you might want to keep that shield around just in
case. Otherwise, give the Ultima Blade to your party leader if you
want to speed things up and get over with it. This is essentially a
fast battle with the gear you now have, as long as you pause regularly
to monitor what is going on and do not let your team get annihilated
by status attacks like Confuse.

Surprise! No save crystal after the boss either. You can either
backtrack to save your progress (advisable), or continue north through
the last area of the dungeon (Temptation Eluded). Make sure you pickup
the chests that are in the chamber, some can give you Elixirs. There
will be traps waiting for you as soon as you exit the boss chamber, so
keep Libra up (and Float) and stay on your toes for here comes...

RARE GAME ALERT: Cubus

This one has a pretty weird spawning condition. In some cases, you
will only encounter Pit Fiends and Wendigos on the west end of this
area (if you don't see Imps, be alert). If you kill all these foes,
Cubus will ambush you. He will hit you with Oil and fire spells, that
can hurt you a lot, especially if you are unprepared, as well as
status spells. He doesn't have much HP, but he is resistant to Guns
(being an Oiling and all). As is usual with these rare games, they
tend to show up whenever you least expect them (or want them). I
suggest you just run away if he shows up in case you didn't save your
game.

Exiting into the Chamber of the Chosen essentially marks the end of
the Sochen Cave Palace. Take the elevator there and save at the
teleport crystal you will find in Skybent Chamber.

========================= 
47. Old Archades 
=========================

You will find a merchant once you enter the area, from which you can
buy the Bowline Sash (immunity against Confusion), get 3 of these as
there will be an Esper you will want to use them against. You can also
buy the Pheasant Netsuke if you don't have one already, but I wouldn't
recommend it, as you will very soon be able to get it from a chest
pretty easily. Head west into the next area and talk to the Imperial
Soldier guarding the stairs past the save crystal. After the cutscenes
(and forking out 1500 gil) you are assigned to do a little sidequest
in order to be able to sneak into the city. You essentially have to
walk back to the entrance of this area. You will find there a guy
talking to a bangaa who will mention a sack of coins. Once you talk to
him, backtrack to Jules the Informer and talk to him, he will mention
Ragaphon. Ragaphon can be found sitting next to a wall opposite to the
guy who mentioned the sack of coins. Talk to him, then go back to meet
Jules the Informer again, who will now have changed place (you will
find him sitting somewhere near to that save crystal, not far from
where he initially was). A short cutscene follows, during which a
diversion is set in motion, in order for you and your team to sneak
into Arcades unseen.

 
========================= 
48. Archades 
=========================

Unfortunately you are not through with Jules the Informer (or annoying
fetch-quests for that matter). Get to where the taxi is (opposite the
weapons shop in the Nilvas quarter) and talk to the controller
there. After forking another 2500 gil, you are briefed on White Leaves
and their usage. Long story short, you have to obtain nine of them in
order to be able to ride the taxi into the next area of the city and
advance the plot. The fastest way to do that is by talking to people
in the quarter. Some of the civilians in this area will mention a
topic of conversation that you can memorise. If you then mention the
topic to a matching person, you will receive a White Leaf. There are 9
such pairs in total in this area and once you are done with the
match-making you will be informed that you can now ride the taxi.

You also have access to the new magic, of which Aeroga is the most
important, technicks and armour. If you don't have better gear
already, I suggest the Platinum Armour for your team leaders and
Basch, since it has a little better Defence than the Mirror Mail
without annoying Reflect abilities. Also buy Mystic armour for your
mages if you need it. The big news is, the merchant in the city now
sells X-Potions, so in case you didn't farm those Mirror Knights in
the Feywood, you can stock up on them (remember, if you need gil, just
head to Zeromus's chamber to chain those Dark Lords a little more).

Once done with your shopping, hop on the taxi to enter the next area
(Zenoble quarter), where a teleport crystal awaits you. Head north and
a cutscene will occur. After that head back south towards the save
crystal and another cutscene will follow. You may now want to take
some time to reconfigure your Licence Board and save your game before
proceeding, since we have some more sidequesting to do. Normally you
can just go pickup the taxi and head to the “designated locationâ€￾ and
proceed immediately with the story into the next dungeon, Draklor
Laboratory (a pretty short one). You may also want to do so, since
right after the events in Draklor, you will have access to some pretty
powerful new spells (like the level 3 elemental spells). But if you
feel adventurous, there is a Hunt you can do right now, as well as
another optional Esper. And not just some Esper: Our very first level
3 Esper, Chaos!

===================================================== 
OPTIONAL: Chaos
and the Three Medallions Sidequest
=====================================================

Obtaining Chaos is by far the most involved Esper-related sidequest in
the game. Not only will you need to go through a rather tortuous
sidequest (the three medallions sidequest), which also involves having
slain previous Hunts, you then have to step into the Necrohol of
Nabudis (yeah, that cheerful place you got the Zodiac Spear from), and
fight no less than two (!!) optional bosses there (Humbaba Mistant and
Fury) before you can challenge Chaos himself (who, you guessed it, is
locked in a chamber in the Necrohol too). So prepare for quite the
detour.

Our quest for Chaos starts from Nabreus. If you already entered the
area and talked to the N'Moh in The Muted Scrap area, you have already
initiated the three medallions sidequest (if you haven't, you have to
enter the area now, which includes killing Bomb King), in which case
you can head to Rabanastre. Go into the Garamsythe Waterway, in the
area where the Sluice Gate switches are located (the same you used to
access Cuchulain). To do this part you obviously need the Sluice Gate
Key from the White Mousse Hunt. You now have to first turn on all the
switches (lights out on all panels), then proceed as follows:

1) Turn off the No. 11 Area Panel (lights on on the first panel on
your left).  2) Turn off the No. 4 Area Panel (lights on on the second
panel on your left).  3) Now turn on the No. 11 Area Panel (lights off
on the first panel) and turn off the No. 3 Area Panel (lights on on
the third panel).  4) Finally, turn on the No.4 Area Panel (lights off
the the second panel).

After these steps, you will hear a clicking sound. Check on the ground
on the semi-circular area in front of the panels and you will pickup
the Dull Fragment.

We are not even remotely over yet. Next head to Dalan's. If you spoke
to the N'Moh in Nabreus, you will find there Roh'kenmou. Talk to him,
then head to the southeast of Lowtown outside Dalan's, where you'll
find Filo. After talking to him too, you must head to Rabanastre's
Central Pazza, where a Curious Woman is staring into the
fountain. After talking to her too, head to the Muthru Bazaar and
speak to the bangaa merchant who is standing after the Clan
Provisioner. Then enter the Magic Shop and talk to the Sotted Imperial
nest to the entrance, choosing the first option. After all this
trouble, back to Lowtown to talk to Filo again. Choose “Sure, let's
goâ€￾ and after the cutscene, you find yourself in the Magic Shop
again. Talk to the Sotted Imperial and you finally get your hands on
the Grimy Fragment.

Finally, there is a third fragment, the Blackened Fragment, that you
get as part of your rewards for completing the Orthros Hunt. If you
got that too, head back to Dalan's and hand all three fragments to
Roh'kenmou, who will disappear after giving you a hint that the next
step of our quest should take place in Archades. This completes the
sidequest for the first medallion (don't worry you didn't get any
reward yet). Thankfully the other two are somewhat shorter than this
one.

Next teleport to Archades and enter the Magic Shop, where you'll meet
Roh'Kenmu, who will mention the second medallion. Go back to Old
Archades and in the Alley of Muted Sighs, not far from the save
crystal, you will find the Proper Gent. This is Otto and will give you
the Moonsilver Medallion. Return it to Roh'Kenmu. Two down, one to go.

The final part of the sidequest takes part back in Nabreus, where at
the Muted Scrap you have to talk again to Ma'Kleou, then make your way
to Overlooking Eternity, the same area where you fought Roblon (see
the Roblon Hunt section). If you have accepted the Roblon Hunt but not
finished it, you must first do the honours. Then exit the area and
re-enter for the events of the sidequest to take place. Otherwise,
make your way towards the altar in front of which Roblon was standing
(remember, annoying Dead Bones everywhere, Goggle Masks+Zodiac
Spear+Curaga to clear your path). Once there, a cutscene ensues and
you will finally receive your rewards: The Medallion of Bravery, the
Medallion of Love and the Lustreless Medallion.

Now save your game at the Nabreus Deadlands teleport crystal and make
your way for the Necrohol. It is advisable to teleport to Salikawood
and enter the Necrohol from there, as the first of the optional bosses
we need to face is in a chamber in the Cloister of the Distant Song,
so the road is shorter when entering from Salikawood. From your map
you can already see there is a hidden chamber to the west. Head there
after disposing of a couple of Babils and use the Medallion of Bravery
to unlock the gate.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Humbaba Mistant 
HP: 314086 - LV: 46 
==========================

Quite the HP there, but this guy really isn't that intimidating. He
will use powerful physical attacks, as well as Earth-elemental and
Dark-Elemental AoEs. You can immunise against the latter by casting
Float before you enter the battle. Otherwise, it's business as
usual. Niho+Remedy to inflict Sap, Silence and Slow and attack with
your best weapons, while keeping Decoy (manually) on your party
leader. He takes normal damage from all elements and is weak to Holy,
so toss a Holy mote if you have one, otherwise your normal weapons
(Fomalhaut, Zodiac Spear) will do just fine. If you have the Black
Robes+Dark Shot from Cerobi Steppe, Balthier will be shooting for 9999
with Berserk+Bravery on. Below 50% HP Humbaba Mistant will cap damage
at 6999, but he still falls pretty fast and his physical attacks isn't
anything your healer can't overcome with the occasional Cura. Put the
Gauntlets on your party leader, you won't even be needing a Bubble
Belt if you have the Dragon Mail on. After the fight you also get a
map of the Necrohol. Once you are done with him, backtrack to the save
crystal (be mindful of that Helvinek) in Salikawood, save and teleport
to Nabreus to enter the Necrohol again from that side, as our second
boss awaits in the hidden chamber of Cloister of Reason.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Fury 
HP: 69710 - LV: 46
==========================

This little bunny absorbs Fire and is weak to Water, so
Fomalhaut+Water Shot is your best attack here, although given Fury
caps damage at 6999, any other decent weapon will do. But Fomalhaut is
the better choice because at low HP, Fury will parry a lot. Once the
battle starts, Niho+Remedy to inflict Silence, Sap and Slow, then
Dispel him, but the best strategy here is to inflict him with Berserk,
which will prevent him from using annoying abilities like Time
Requiem. He has pretty low HP, so he falls pretty fast. If you go with
the Berserk method better put a Bubble Belt on your tank, for he is
going to hit you pretty hard. Otherwise, this is pretty uneventful
(and definitely a shorter battle than Humbaba Mistant).

Now that both of these optional bosses are down, we can finally face
Chaos himself. Technically you can do all of this in one go, while
inside the Necrohol (killing Humbaba Mistant, then Fury, then Chaos),
but I strongly advise you exit the Necrohol and save after every
fight. So return to Salikawood, save at the crystal there and prepare
for your Esper battle.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Chaos 
HP: 208966 - LV: 57
==========================

This is bound to be a perennially poorly researched battle, simply
because there is no save crystal before the boss and to access him you
have to make the trek from Salikawood all the way to the heart of the
Necrohol (the entrance to his chamber is in the Cloister of the
Highborn, the same area where the Zodiac Spear is). Even if you just
set your battle speed to lowest and flee all the way to the gate (you
can do that and enemies will typically stop following you once you
stand in front of his chamber), it takes several minutes from reseting
to initiating the battle, so doing test trials on this guy isn't
exactly easy. Once you reach the chamber entrance, use the final
medallion to unseal the gate. Make sure your team, gambits and
equipment are already prepared before you open the gate, as the battle
will start immediately.

Some shopping may be in order before you challenge Chaos, depending on
the strategy you want to use. Chaos is big on Wind-based attacks and
his signature Aeroja attack (his big bad AoE, like all the elemental
Espers) deals heavy Wind damage and can case Confuse. So the best
setup to mitigate it is buying three Windbreakers (in case you don't
have them in your inventory already) and three Bowline Sashes (from
the merchant in Old Arcades) and be ready to equip these to all party
members whenever you see him charging Aeroja.

If you check the guy's stats, you'll see his HP isn't so high, but at
the point of first encounter (since we like to tackle all these
challenges so early) he will probably be, depending on your team
configuration, anywhere from 10 to 15 levels ahead of you. This isn't
a small difference. If you have been farming for quality gear and
weapons you might have been feeling high and mighty lately, especially
after your fast win against Exodus. Prepare to get hurt. This fight is
more Zeromus than Exodus at this point, particularly if you are trying
to finish this before Draklor Laboratory, since Chaos has a lot of
aces up his sleeve. I wouldn't consider it as bad as Zeromus, it is
certainly doable, but it isn't a walk in the park either.

The first handicap of this battle is that the Attack command is
sealed, so you essentially cannot use any of your superior
weapons. This means the only way of offence is by using magic or
technicks. Now here comes the really bad news: Chaos, being the
Wind-Esper and all, absorbs Wind (obviously), is weak to Earth
(obviously) and nulls damage from all other elements, which renders
all your elemental spells useless. The only thing left to attack with
if you want to use magic is your crappy Bio, which won't deal more
than 1500 damage in the best of days (thank god Chaos is susceptible
to Sap). So let's see what we can do with technicks: Shades of Grey if
you got it is also pretty useless unless you get lucky and get some
big non-elemental spell, not to mention that the odd Aero/Aeroga will
actually heal Chaos. That leaves us with Souleater, 1000 Needles,
Horology and Gil Toss. Since you will be getting damage (a lot of it),
Souleater probably isn't the best choice and Horology simply doesn't
have the firepower required. Bottom line: Only 1000 Needles and Gil
Toss are viable options.

Now there are basically two strategies to pursuit here: The short and
easy and the slow and hard. The latter is suitable just for bragging
rights and will typically lead to a long, tedious and unsatisfying
battle. It boils down to this: You need your two mages (Fran and
Penelo) and a party leader (Vaan or Ashe). Fran will be on the
offence, Penelo will heal and support. Give your mages their best
mystic gear and the Indigo Pendant to Penelo. Fran can have the Hermes
Sandals if she has the licence, otherwise just leave a Bowline Sash on
permanently. Your team leader needs Main Gauche+Demon Shield, his best
Light Armour hat and a Dragon Mail/Maximillian (if you got one in
Nabudis). The accessory should be either the Pheasant Netsuke or the
Black Belt (Black Belt protects from Disable, which can be inflicted
by Chaos's physical attacks). Gambits should be as follows:

Fran:

Ally:Any -> Phoenix Down 
Ally:Any -> Smelling Salts 
Ally:Any -> Echo Herbs 
Ally:Any -> Esuna/Remedy 
Self: -> Shell 
Foe: Lowest HP -> Bio
Self: -> Ether

Penelo:

Ally:Any -> Phoenix Down 
Vaan/Ashe : -> Decoy 
Ally:HP<70% -> Cura/Curaga (better put Curaga and cast Cura manually) 
Ally:Any -> Smelling Salts 
Ally:Any -> Echo Herbs 
Ally:Any -> Esuna/Remedy 
Self:-> Shell 
Foe: Lowest HP -> Bio 
Self: -> Ether

Party Leader:

Ally:Any -> Phoenix Down 
Self: Critical HP -> X-Potion 
Ally:Any -> Smelling Salts 
Ally:Any -> Echo Herbs 
Ally:Any -> Remedy 
Self: -> Protect 
Foe: Lowest HP -> 1000 Needles/Knot of Rust

Don't waste time with Raise. In case things go haywire and people
start dying, you need to revive your team as fast as possible,
otherwise you're risking a wipe. Better just switch the Pheasant
Netsuke around depending on who is doing the reviving. Bring a good
stock of Phoenix Downs and X-Potions with you. When you enter the
battle it would be a good idea to just go in with your auxiliaries
first and start a Quickening Chain, as Chaos will greet you with four
ChaosJets flanking him (elementals, essentially) that will hit you
with Silence and elemental spells. The Concurrence will get rid of
them promptly and once done with them, you can bring in your main
party and start working on Chaos. Otherwise just charge in and brave
the first minute, until you dispose of the ChaosJets just by Bio/1000
Needles (they do die pretty fast). The most important part of this
strategy is maintaining Decoy (manually) on your tank and spreading
your team, for Chaos will also use Aeroga against you. Once the
minions are out of the way, the hard part begins.

Chaos will routinely use a gravity-based, Wind-elemental attack,
Wirlwind, against your tank. Since this is gravity based, it has a
chance to miss, especially if you are under Shell and will deal
heavier damage if your max HP is higher, so I would advise against a
Bubble Belt, for it will only make Wirlwind hit harder and then the
next physical attack will simply kill you. Chaos's physical attack
hits for more than 1000 even with a Dragon Mail/Maximillian on, so
keep your tank's HP up. If he goes down, your mages won't survive more
than one hit from Chaos at best (who can 1-hit kill them with
Wirlwind). So maintaining Decoy and healing the tank is paramount. And
this isn't the end of it. You also have to be constantly on the
lookout for Chaos's Aeroja and be quick to change your gear (switch on
your Windbreaker and Bowline Sashes), then immediately switch them for
your normal gear. With Shell and Windbreakers on your mages will be
able to survive Aeroja.

From now on it is a marathon of micromanagement: Keep Decoy while
monitoring HP levels on the tank (you even have to toss an X-Potion
manually here and there to ensure survival) while waiting for Aeroja
while making sure you didn't forget to put that Indigo Pendant back on
while slowly and painfully chipping away at Chaos's HP. It's a lot to
keep track of and any one mistake will cost you dearly. Chaos will
also start using Fearga (drains your MP) against you, so spread your
team and pump some Ethers. Normally you can finish the battle in this
fashion without even using Quickenings, but it typically takes a good
20+ minutes with all the time you are wasting changing gear.

The second method will lead to a fast and (mostly) painless victory
with very little micromanagement but involves using the one technick
you dread: Gil Toss. Simply put, if you have the about 200K needed to
finish Chaos with nothing but Gil Tossing him to death, you can have
him down within less than 5 minutes. You still need the same team
configuration as before, but now your gambits will look as follows:

Fran:

Ally:Any -> Phoenix Down 
Ally:Any -> Smelling Salts 
Ally:Any -> Echo Herbs 
Ally:Any -> Remedy 
Self: -> Reverse 
Vaan/Ashe: -> Reverse
Foe: Lowest HP -> Bio 
Self: -> Ether

Penelo:

Ally:Any -> Phoenix Down 
Ally:Any -> Smelling Salts 
Ally:Any -> Echo Herbs 
Ally:Any -> Remedy 
Self: -> Reverse 
Vaan/Ashe: -> Reverse
Foe: Lowest HP -> Bio 
Self: -> Ether

Party Leader:

Ally:Any -> Phoenix Down 
Ally:Any -> Smelling Salts 
Ally:Any -> Echo Herbs 
Ally:Any -> Remedy 
Foe: Lowest HP -> Gil Toss

That way your mages will just keep Reverse on everyone, while the
party leader is doing all the damage via Gil Toss (Bio is only
decorative). Alternatively, use both your party leaders (both must
have the Gil Toss licence by now) and one mage to keep Reverse on the
team. It's better to just put Bowline Sashes on everyone for the
entirety of the fight. With this configuration you won't have to worry
about putting on Windbreakers, since (hopefully) you are under
Reverse. The only thing that can go wrong is Aeroja finding all three
of your team members without Reverse on and your party leader at low
HP, in which case you may get a wipe. Just bring in your reserves to
revive the fallen party members while in reserve and keep going. Given
the damage you are now doing, there is a very small time window for
unforseen disaster and even an unfortunate wipe like the above is an
oddity. Provided gil isn't an issue anymore, I consider this the most
viable strategy. You will get your money back in less time than it
will take to defeat Chaos without Gil Toss.

Chaos is the first level 3 Esper, which basically means that in order
to summon him, you have to expend all your MP. The bad news is, the MP
you can syphon back from him is very little (usually less than one
Myst Charge), so unless you pump Ethers/Hi-Ethers, double summoning is
expensive unless you happen to be close to a save crystal. Chaos is
essentially the big, jack of all trades elemental Esper. He can use
all level 3 elemental spells in the game, including Dark and Holy and
can target enemies with all elemental weaknesses, with the exception
of the two elusive elements: Water (that is Famrit's business) and
Earth (Hashmal). Technically this should be great news, but given you
will have access to the level 3 spells once you finish Draklor
Laboratory (that is within the next 30 minutes), it isn't much of a
boon. His ultimate attack (triggers during the last 10 seconds of his
summon time) is also a letdown, given it is capped at 9999.

Defence-wise, Chaos comes with the highest Defence rating of any Esper
you ‘ve encountered up to now (56, the same as wearing a Genji
Armour). He also comes fully buffed, with Shell, Faith, Haste and
Reflect on and immunities to all elements except Wind (absorbs) and
Earth (weak), so all you have to do is cast Bubble on him (or hit with
Euclid's Sextant) and he is pretty survivable. But all in all, he
isn't as useful as your trusted Zeromus and Exodus. Very soon you will
be dishing just as much elemental damage as Exodus, faster and with
practically zero MP costs. So unless you come across the odd Holy-weak
boss/Hunt, he won't be as capable as the rest of your tried and true
triumvirate of Zalera/Zeromus/Exodus.

After obtaining Chaos, it's time we take care of the only Hunt
available at this point, Darksteel.

============================== 
OPTIONAL: Shelled Obstruction 
Darksteel (Rank IV) 
HP: 111331 - LV: 38 
==============================

You will find him in the very first chamber of the Sochen Cave Palace
(Temptation Eluded) once you descent using the elevator from the
location of the teleport crystal. He isn't very different from
previous turtle-like enemies you have encountered (Rocktoise, Gil
Snapper), so he will use hard hitting physical attacks, as well as
target you with spells when you are out of range and use Purify when
not engaged at melee range. He also has the annoying tendency to use
Restore during the fight, which he can use several times and can lead
to complications, especially if you want to use Espers.

Weak to Holy, absorbs Dark and halves damage from other elements, so
in principle your brand new Esper, Chaos, should be of use here since
he can use Holy against him. Alas, his utility during this Hunt will
be probably limited. The best way to use him is starting with your
summoner at the teleport crystal, summon Chaos and touch the crystal
to restore your MP (close any gambits on your summoner), then take the
elevator and enter the chamber where Darksteel is. Engage with your
Esper. Do not even bother to dispel Darksteel, even with Shell on,
Chaos will be hitting for max damage with his Holy spell. Now in order
for this to work effectively, your summoner should have the Remedy
Lore 3 licence to be able to use Niho+Remedy to inflict Disease, or
have Vaccines in your inventory. This will prevent Darksteel from
using Restore, but you should keep Chaos within melee range, otherwise
he will use Purify (don't worry about Chaos, he can survive the
attacks even without casting Bubble, especially if you inflict him
with Blind). Unfortunately, Holy is slow as molasses to cast (by far
the most useless high level spell in the game) and typically Chaos
will be unable to finish the Hunt within one summoning, so you have to
summon again. This is where it gets tricky. After Chaos uses his final
attack, Darksteel will immediately start casting Purify, then head for
Restore. You must summon Chaos right away, and cast another
Remedy/Vaccine to (hopefully) prevent him from healing. Usually, if
done correctly, you can have him down within the second summoning.

Once again, Zeromus proves to be by far the most useful, being able to
finish this within one summoning, unlike Chaos. Enter the chamber with
your summoner, summon Zeromus, get him to about 1000+ HP (with Bubble
and Haste on, use Euclid's Sextant/Compass to bring his HP down
quickly), then have your summoner using Dispel to remove the Shell
status from Darksteel. Move back towards the entrance of the chamber
and if needed, use Flee to properly park Zeromus close to the door, so
Darksteel will only be able to use Darkga against him (stay away so
your summoner isn't hit by it). Darkga will hit for about 300-350 at
this point, so tossing a Hi-Potion should be enough to keep Zeromus
alive and at around 500-700 HP total. He will be hitting for close to
14K with Gravity Well and once Big Bang kicks in, it should be enough
to finish him. You do not even have to inflict Disease. Darksteel may
have enough time to use Restore once during the fight, but it won't
help him.

The fastest method though is using ranged weapons. Get Balthier
(Fomalhaut) and Fran (Sagitarius) at critical HP with
Berserk+Bravery+Haste on (give Balthier the Hermes Sandal as usual)
and put them in reserve. Fran should have good Heavy Armour for
head/body and the Cat-Eared Hood. Give both non-elemental ammo. Now
enter the chamber with your team leader and Penelo. Have the team
leader use Niho+Remedy while engaging Darksteel, while Penelo casts
Dispel, then Decoy on your leader. Then replace Penelo for your
berserkers and kite Darksteel with your leader away from them. They
will both be hitting for almost max damage and he will be dead within
seconds.

========================= 
49. Archades 
=========================

After all this sidequesting, get back to Arcades (where the teleport
crystal is) and take the taxi, choosing the “You know where to goâ€￾
option to proceed into Draklor Laboratory.

========================= 
50. Draklor Laboratory
=========================

This is a pretty short dungeon without many surprises. On the first
floor nothing really happens, apart from inspecting some fallen
imperials. You start in front of the entrance of the laboratory. Take
a left turn and a short cutscene will occur. Proceed north following
the corridor until the elevator and use to to ride to the next floor
(you are now on the 66th, you want to go to the 67th).

Once there, take a left turn, then head north in the corridor to the
C.D.M. door. Enter and after another cutscene you receive a map of the
laboratory and an access key. Exit the chamber and use the save
crystal behind the first door on you right. From now on your minimal
is disabled, so consult your map instead. Your job is to now return to
the elevator, but you will notice that the gate leading there is now
locked. What you have to do to open it is enter the door next to where
the save crystal is (6703 east) and activate the switch (this dungeon
works similarly to the Henne Mines. You close the switch and red doors
unlock while blue doors lock and viceversa). Backtrack to the elevator
and ride to the 68th floor. From now on you will be periodically
ambushed by imperial soldiers in groups of 2 to 3, so Blizarra to the
rescue.

Once on the 68th, you have to reach the elevator south of where you
are (check your map) which requires a little manipulation of the
doors. Take a left, kill a couple of imperials and enter 6803 east to
activate the switch which opens the red doors. Head north, then turn
left (east) on the first junction and through the long corridor, where
you will encounter more enemies. Then enter 6804 west to activate the
switch for the blue doors. Proceed all the way to the southwest of
your map (there is essentially only one route available) until you
reach chamber 6811 west. Push the switch here to open the red doors
again. You are now able to reach the elevator which is also marked on
your map too. Be careful for you will be ambushed by 4-5 imperials
together once you get there. Once done proceed to the final floor
(70th).

After another cutscene you can use the crystal on your right to
save. Once you ascend the stairs in front of you you will be greeted
by the boss of Draklor Laboratory. Before you do that though, take a
right and enter chamber 7002 east, where there is a chest with a good
chance of giving you a Pheasant Netsuke in case you don't have one
yet. The chest respawns, so you can farm it, or just soft reset and
retry if you didn't get the Netsuke.

---------------------------- 
Boss: Cid HP: 72989 - LV: 40
----------------------------

Spoiler Alert: Cid is a bad guy this time around. And also, Balthier's
dad (as if we didn't have enough Star Wars references in this game
already).  Cid is big on using guns, so you cannot block his
attacks. His shots will deal about 500 damage, just heal through
it. He also has 4 Rooks as minions, that can also attack you and will
use spells like Drain and Syphon against you (so keep your mage away
from them).

The gimmick of the battle is that if you just start hitting Cid
without dealing with the Rooks, he will soon raise a paling against
physical attacks which will go away if you kill the Rooks. He will
then cast Greater Barrier/Haste on himself, move slowly away from the
centre and charge his big AoE attack, that will hit everyone for about
600-700 damage. You are then free to deal with Cid alone.

The fastest way to finish this, without also giving him time to charge
his big attack, is using your Espers and specifically a Zeromus/Chaos
joint attack, since Cid is weak to Holy (do not use your Dark Shot
against him). Cid has very high Magic Defence (to the point where even
Chaos cannot deal max damage against him with his Holy). Given the
Rooks also cast Reflect on themselves, you should avoid using
conventional spells against them. So before the fight summon Zeromus,
buff him up with Bubble and Haste, touch the save crystal to get your
MP back and bring him down to low HP using Measures. Wait for his
summon time to approach the last ten seconds and then cast Decoy on
your summoner, Syphon back your MP from Zeromus (or pump an Ether, you
want to have 3 Myst Charges ready) and enter the battle. Cid will only
have time to land a single shot on the summoner before Zeromus
executes Big Bang and take away about half his HP, along with one of
the Rooks (for whatever reason, you can only target one of them with
Big Bang and other opening AoEs, like Meteor). A short cutscene occurs
once the Rook is down. Then summon immediately Chaos. He will
completely ignore the rest of the Rooks and start hitting Cid with
Holy. Given Decoy will still be on your summoner, you probably want to
use a couple of X-Potions, of cast Reverse on yourself. Chaos will be
done within 2 or 3 casts, for the battle ends once Cid goes bellow
about 75% HP. Since you are not using physical attacks, he won't use
any annoying paling.

Exodus is also pretty good for this fight, though because he cannot
distinguish between the targets, he will keep casting Comet
indiscriminately against Cid and the Rooks. Within the first
summoning+Meteor you should be done with almost all the Rooks (and
probably done some hefty damage on Cid too), so the second summoning
should be enough to finish him (you cannot bypass Cid's AoE though).

If you go for conventional attack, I suggest you buff up all your dps
for this fight (Fran, Balthier, Basch) with Haste and Bravery
beforehand and put them in reserve. Initially, set their attack gambit
to Foe: Highest Max HP -> Attack, so they will start by targeting
Cid. Enter with your three dps characters, spearheaded by Basch. Fran
should Dispel Cid (he will cast Protect on himself in the beginning of
the fight) and also have a gambit to cast Cura/use an X-Potion here
and there. Then just wail on him until you get him to raise his paling
(you should get him at about 50% HP by that point). Then switch the
attack gambits to Foe: Lowest HP -> Attack to start clearing the
Rooks. Once they are down and the paling goes away you should have
enough time to finish him before he uses his final.

Provided you have enough firepower (Fomalhaut, Sagittarius, Zodiac
Spear etc.), you can actually kill Cid in one go, before he even has
enough time to raise his paling. Just get Fran and Balthier at
critical (but no Berserk, same gambits as before without the healing
gambit on Fran) and rush in with Basch as your tank with the Zodiac
Spear/Ultima Blade. Don't bother casting Decoy on Basch, Cid and the
Rooks will just target him once he draws near. Make sure you
immediately cast Dispel on Cid with Fran once you see him using
Greater Barrier (to remove Protect). A party with average level at
around 40 won't have trouble finishing him promptly, without even
requiring healing (if Basch has survival problems, cast Bubble before
the battle or put a Bubble Belt on him, it should be more than
enough).

========================= 
51. Balfonheim 
=========================

After all the cutscenes following your battle with Cid, you find
yourself (officially this time) in Balfonheim Port. This marks also
the beginning of the endgame. We are practically through with the vast
majority of the main storyline, with essentially two main areas left
to visit before we reach the final boss fights: Giruvegan/Great
Crystal (not that long dungeon) and the Pharos at Ridoranna (which is
huge and will take the greatest portion of the remaining
storyline). There is still a lot of optional content to deal with, but
now we finally have access to some pretty great high-level spells: The
level 3 elemental spells (Firaga, Blizzaga, Thundaga), as well as the
Curaja spell. Make no mistake, Curaja is an offensive, not a healing
spell. It will hit all undead enemies for 9999 and it's an area spell,
so your mage will be the most useful dps character in nasty places
filled with the undead like Henne Mines, Lhusu Mines, the Great
Crystal and Pharos Subterra later on. Using Curaja for healing is
counter-productive, as it is an MP hog (while if you use it
offensively, it actually replenishes your MP due to the massive
damage) and will introduce queueing as a high-level spell. If you have
a dedicated mage for healing, he shouldn't use anything more drastic
than Cura/Curaga for the vast majority of the game (including optional
content).

With the level 3 spells under your belt and your elemental Staves,
your mages should have a permanent dps presence from now on in a big
way. Set for then offensive gambits (below any supportive/curative
gambits) of the form:

Foe if self MP<50%: -> Syphon 
Foe: Undead -> Curaja 
Foe: Party Leader's Target -> Blizzaga

and have a Glacial Staff on for ordinary strolling through
mostareas. The only place where you might want to change your gambits
a little is Nabreus (most of the undead there are immune to Syphon, so
close this gambit and Syphon manually from your dps characters
instead). Also feel free to change gambits if you find yourself in
places where you have a lot of enemies with different elemental
weaknesses. But Blizzaga is a very good choice for most occasions, as
there are several mobs weak to Ice (that will show the Baknamy!) and
most normal enemies take normal damage from Ice. Also many of the
enemies we will encounter in the next couple of areas will be
Holy-weak, so there isn't any other better alternative.

Of the new technicks, Expose is a must have and will be used in some
of the big upcoming battles against optional bosses. You can also buy
the Cameo Belt from the merchant in Balfonheim (super useful against
enemies that can parry, like the Baknamy), as well as Vaccines (so you
can inflict Disease easily with your Nihopalaoa, even with users who
do not have the Remedy Lore 3 licence). Also buy the Foe: HP<5000 and
Foe: HP<10000 gambits for your team leader/thief and set your
steal/attack gambits accordingly.

There is also a chest in one of the houses in Balfonheim (in the
northern area) that will normally give you a either an Elixir or
Megaelixir, but has also a chance of giving you the Ensaguined Shield
if you open it with the Diamond Armlet on. You are guarantied to get
one of these soon on our way to Giruvegan. But since these are rare
(there are 3 in total in the entire game), you may want to pick this
one up too, your choice (one is more than enough really).

Also make sure to visit the tavern in Balfonheim port and check the
hunting board to accept the five new Hunts that are available (the
first three of them are very easy). In fact the petitioner for the
first of them, Lumila, is in the tavern, so you might want to tackle
this one immediately. You can also venture into the Cerobi Steppe if
you didn't already, where our next Hunt leads us anyway. Do not forget
to also return to Rabanastre and pickup your rewards from Montblanc,
as well as the two new Elite Marks: Belito and Gilgamesh.

============================= 
OPTIONAL: Get My Stuff Back!  
Vyraal (Rank V) 
HP: 106616 - LV: 41 
=============================

You will find him in the Cerobi Steppe, in the Northsward area. Lumila
will try to assist you during the Hunt, but we know better. Start by
killing Lumila (poor girl), then Niho+Remedy/Alarm Clock to put him to
sleep. He is weak to Wind, so either prep your mages to reflect Aeroga
with their Cherry Staves on ala Elder Wyrm, or summon Chaos and keep
the mark asleep. Zeromus and Exodus will dispose of him just as
easily. After you receive your reward, you can return to the
Northsward and inspect one of the windmills (#10). A short cutscene
will occur, after which the Wyrm Philosopher will grant you the Age
Worn Key. This will allow you to challenge Hell Wyrm in the Sochen
Cave Palace, one of the most powerful optional bosses (essentially a
mini-Yiazmat).

Completing this Hunt brings you also to a total of 28 and the rank of
High-Guardian, which means you can now buy from the clan provisioner
the Cat-Eared Hood (in case you didn't get it already), as well as
Warp Motes. Bubble Belts also become available again, so you can buy
more if you need them.

===================================== 
OPTIONAL: Old Legend, Decaying Bonds 
Lindwyrm (Rank V) 
HP: 228468 - LV: 39
=====================================

This is exactly the same kind of job as Vyraal, the only complication
is getting him to show up. You will find him in the Tchita Uplands in
the Garden of Life's Circle area (the same area where the chest with
the Diamond Armlet spawns), but in order for Lindwyrm to be there, the
weather must be overcast (the usual partly cloudy of the Uplands won't
do). The best way to change the weather is to keep exiting and
re-entering from Cerobi Steppe (where the save crystal is), when you
get overcast, start your way towards the designated area and save your
game at the save crystal next to it (do not engage Lindwyrm yet). If
you get rain on your way there, just keep zoning through the area of
the save crystal next to Garden of Life's Circle until it stops. From
what I've seen, if you get overcast weather and save your game, you
will start with the same weather condition.

Once the weather is correct, Lindwyrm will be the only enemy in the
area. By now, you know the drill. Niho+Remedy/Alarm clock to put him
to sleep, then either have your mages reflect Aeroga, or summon Chaos
or Zeromus. Since Lindwyrm has quite a lot of HP, neither of them can
finish him within a single summoning, but since you have a save
crystal next to the mark, double summoning won't be a problem even
with Chaos (summon before you engage, touch the crystal to get your MP
back, then drag Chaos all the way to Lindwyrm and toss an Alarm Clock
with the Nihopalaoa on. Rinse and repeat.). If you are using Chaos, do
not bother to dispel him, Chaos will be hitting for 9999 with Aeroga
even with Shell on.

============================== 
OPTIONAL: The Things We Do...  
Overlord (Rank VI) 
HP: 64325 - LV: 42 
==============================

Another pretty pathetic Hunt. You will find him near the entrance to
the Sochen Cave Palace (Doubt Abandoned, entering from Tchita
Uplands). You are assisted again by the petitioner of the Hunt (don't
worry, you won't have to kill him this time). Kill the mobs around
Overlord so you can fight him undisturbed, then use Niho+Remedy to
inflict several status ailments, including Silence, Confuse and
Blind. He is weak to Water, so Balthier with the Fomalhaut and the
Water Shot will be dealing max damage. Given Overlord's low HP, it
only takes a few seconds.

================================= 
OPTIONAL: The Creature Collector
Goliath (Rank VI) 
HP: 224294 - LV: 47
=================================

Now contrary to the last three Hunts, this is a rank VI mark and it
shows the moment you start fighting him. You'd thing you could go for
a strategy similar to Roblon (since Goliath is also a Babil-type
enemy), but unfortunately the moment you use magic against him,
Goliath raises a magic paling that will take some time to be removed
and which will be activated again if you keep using magic attacks. So
your Espers won't be useful here, with the exception of Cuchulainn,
but given Goliath's HP, he won't be making any progress either.

You will find him in the first chamber of the Necrohol of Nabudis,
entering from Nabreus. Baknany still spawn even when Goliath is
present. Take care of these first before engaging him (remember, you
now have Blizzaga, use it).

The best method is to use ranged attackers. If you have 3 characters
that can use ranged weapons, great, even though the most efficient
here is by far Balthier with Fomalhaut+Dark Shot if you have it from
Cerobi Steppe (Goliath is weak to Dark), otherwise use non-elemental
ammo. I usually go for just two attackers, Fran with the
Sagittarius+Assasin's Arrows+Cat-Eared Hood and Balthier with
Fomalhaut+Dark Shot (you do not need any other support
characters). With Bravery on at full HP, Balthier will be hitting for
max damage. Have Balthier berserked and use Fran as the leader. Stand
close to the pillar in the centre of the hall and Dispel Goliath, then
start attacking without getting closer. Oh, and put Mirror Mails on
both. Goliath will start spamming elemental spells and Gravity against
you, all of which are reflectable, so you are in no danger. Normally
when he goes below 50% HP he starts moving from his initial position
and hitting you with physical attacks too (which can cause Disable),
but if you are standing far away, he'll just stay where he is. Just
keep snipping him. At critical he will resist your attacks, but it
won't take long to finish him, or just go for a quickening chain.

If you already finished Gilgamesh and have your Masamune/Genji Gloves,
you can use it pretty effectively against him. Have Basch at critical
(use Bleed) with Masamune+Genji Gloves+Mirror Mail with
Haste/Berserk/Bravery on. Engage with a party leader with Mirror Mail
and Decoy on, then bring in Basch. He will cut through him like warm
butter and will probably finish him before he has time to seriously
hurt your party leader (use some X-Potions if needed).

Also contrary to the last three Hunts, you get a pretty decent reward
for a change, as Save the Queen is a very good Greatsword (100 ATK)
and a great complementary melee weapon, in case you didn't get the
Ultima Blade. This is actually the best Greatsword you can buy from
shops endgame (after the events in the Pharos).

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Dead City Watch 
Deathscythe (Rank VI) 
HP: 125601 - LV: 44 
==========================

Shit, he is in Nabudis! And this time it's in the Cloister of the
Highborn (the Zodiac Spear area), right in the centre. You know the
drill. Teleport to Salikawood, then flee all the way until you reach
Cloister of the Highborn.

Start by clearing the area on the top of the stairs, we want some open
space for this battle, as we are going to inflict him with
Immobilise. After disposing of all the mobs around, prep your two
mages with mystic armour/Staves, Haste and Faith and put them in
reserve with Ruby Rings on. Then have one character brought to below
10% HP (use Bleed). No, critical isn't enough. Once you get that
person at below 10%, Deathscythe will spawn.

He is a teleporting enemy like an Oversoul or Dustia. Usually he will
greet you with Darkra, so if you have the critical HP character
wearing a Black Mask/Demon Shield, he should be fine. He will
occasionally however start with a physical attack, which can lead into
KO. Anyway, once he shows up, use Niho+Remedy (he can teleport and you
may miss him in your first attempt). This will inflict several status
ailments, including Silence, Blind and Immobilise. Now that he is
still, move a little away (so he won't be able to hurt you with
physical attacks), bring in your mages, put a Mirror Mail on the third
party member and have the mages reflect Curaja. If he hits himself,
have the party leader feed him Smelling Salts with the Nihopalaoa (he
can drain your MP if conscious, so better keep him Confused). Normally
Deathscythe will raise a paling against all attacks when you get him
at about 50% HP (it eventually goes away), but with this strategy you
can bypass it completely.

This is the last of the Nalbina-related Hunts. You may have noticed
Jovy, a recurring character whenever you finish some of the Hunts of
Nalbina-based petitioners. After you ‘re done with Deathscythe, find
Jovy and talk to him. A cutscene will ensue and you will receive from
him an Elixir and a Knot of Rust.

Finishing this Hunt brings you to a total of 32 and the clan ranking
of Knight of the Round (the penultimate ranking and essentially the
one you are going to have for the vast majority of the endgame). The
clan provisioner will now sell Knots of Rust. This means you can now
power up any Dark Matter you might have in your inventory at
will. Just keep using Knots of Rust on ordinary foes (or on yourself)
until you register 180000 damage. You can save your game and test your
Dark Matter to see if it's fully charged, then soft reset. If you have
your Diamond Armlet, and since you are back in Nabudis, go collect the
rest of the Dark Matters from the chests near the Zodiac Spear. These
will prove very helpful against several of the upcoming Hunts/bosses.


=================================== 
OPTIONAL: Battle on the Big Bridge
Gilgamesh (Rank VII) 
First Battle: 
HP: 123103 - LV: 45 (Gilgamesh) 
HP: 33052 - LV: 43 (Enkidu) 
Second Battle: 
HP: 473246 - LV: 70 (Gilgamesh)
HP: 140162 - LV: 65 (Enkidu) 
===================================

Gilgamesh is perhaps the most important Hunt in the entire game (along
with Antlion, and you fight both in the Lhusu Mines:
Coincidence?). Not only will he land you a fabulous ultimate weapon as
a reward (Masamune, the best Katana in the game), he is also the only
way to obtain the quartet of Genji equipment (Genji Shield, Genji
Helmet, Genji Armour and the all important Genji Gloves). So there is
a lot at stake here and serious motivation to tackle this Hunt early
on (he is available once you reach Balfonheim port). Just like the
Antlion, this is a serious challenge and one of the hardest bosses you
will encounter.

Now here comes the catch. You are guaranteed your Masamune as reward
once you finish Gilgamesh, but the Genji equipment you have to steal
from Gilgamesh during the battle and they are missable, i.e. if you
fail to get each item within the appropriate window, they are gone for
good. Not to mention, these are the ONLY Genji equipments in the
entire game. If you miss them here, you miss them for good. So if you
are a completionist, pay attention. On the contrary, there is a second
Masamune you can obtain through the Bazaar, though it requires farming
for some pretty exotic loot items.

The difficulty of the endeavour is essentially correlated to your need
for the Genji equipment. Truth be told, the Genji Shield, Helmet and
Armour are more or less, disposable, in the sense there are better
substitute items you can get in an easier way. The only mission
critical item is the Genji Gloves, which has no counterpart. This
accessory has the ability to increase your combo rate (the amount you
get as a boost depends on the character's Speed). Now the Masamune you
are going to get comes with 40% combo rate (the highest than any other
weapon in the game) and has 93 ATK. That means that if you use
Masamune+Genji Gloves, you are almost guaranteed a combo. I guess you
see where this is heading. Get your attacker at low HP and
Berserk/Bravery. With Masamune+Genji Gloves he will be hitting
consistently for 10-12 hit combos, that can easily exceed 100K damage,
in a single turn. Used correctly, under proper circumstances, the
Masamune will be simply devastating and a notch above any other
conventional weapon you have in terms of damage per unit time, even
with its nominally modest ATK.

If you are only interested in the Genji Gloves and the Masamune,
Gilgamesh is a pretty easy affair, because the encounter is broken
into two fights. During the first, Gilgamesh is essentially very easy
to handle and it is this fight during which you can steal the Genji
Shield and the Genji Gloves. The second fight takes place in the
farthest reaches of the Lhusu Mines and is much more difficult, even
without the further complication of trying to steal the Genji Helmet
and Genji Armour while enduring the shitstorm dished out by
Gilgamesh. So should you decide to skip the latter two items
altogether, you can just focus on killing Gilgamesh quickly and
getting your Masamune. If you are a completionist on the other hand…

------------------ Gilgamesh: Part 1 ------------------

The first battle takes place on the bridge (this is Battle on the Big
Bridge after all) right on the left of the teleport crystal in Lhusu
Mines. If you accepted the Hunt from Montblanc (under the “Man of
Mysteryâ€￾ title), Gilgamesh will be waiting you there and the fight
will start the moment you zone into the area, so take some time while
at the teleport crystal to prepare your team. Not that there is
anything to worry about. This is a very easy battle.

Start by using Niho+Remedy on Enkidu (Gilgamesh's dog) to inflict him
with Oil and have Balthier hitting him with Wyrmfire Shot, while your
mage casts Firaga. Your tank should be constantly on stealing
duty. Initially you can steal ordinary things from Gilgamesh like gil
and Hi-Potions. After Enkidu is down, use non-elemental ammo, or bring
in Basch with the Zodiac Spear. Gilgamesh only uses single-target
attacks, so as long as you keep Decoy on your tank you should be fine
with melee attackers.

As you deplete his HP, Gilgamesh will start going through different
stances and draw different swords. Every time he goes into a new
stance, there is something new to steal from him. The items we are
after can be stollen from him when he is between 40% HP and 20% HP
(Genji Shield) and below 20% HP (Genji Gloves), so if you want to
speed things up have also your tank on the offensive, although your
main problem here will probably be that you are dealing damage too
fast, giving you little time to steal. I suggest you just use one
attacker and keep monitoring Gilgamesh's HP. You may even want to
remove your attacker from the battlefield altogether at some junction.

Also after every new stance, Gilgamesh will get some buffs. Dispel him
if you like, though it doesn't make much difference, unless you come
here with very crappy armour or seriously underlevelled (mind you,
this is all written from the point of view of a party at an average
level of 42-43, which is already considered pretty low for this
encounter). His typical physical attacks will do about 700-800 damage
per hit with Dragon Mail/Maximillian on, so there is really no point
in using Bubble Belts, even on your tank. With Main Gauche+Demon
Shield you will be blocking most of his attacks anyway.

At about 40% HP, he will draw his Gunblade. During this stance you can
finally steal the Genji Shield. I suggest using Thief's Cuffs on your
party leader and removing your attacker until you get the item. Just
keep your mage casting Curaga/Decoy on your party leader. Once you
have the shield, bring in your attacker and resume. After his HP drops
enough he will enter his final stance and use Perfect Defence, raising
a paling for a time against all attacks (remove your dps character
from the battle). He will then perform his big attack, Ultimate
Illusion, twice before removing his paling. This is a single target
attack (though it looks like an AoE) and does about 1300 damage with
Dragon Mail/Maximillian on, if you didn't Dispel his Bravery status,
so pop an X-Potion/cast Cura and you'll be fine. Once the paling is
down, continue stealing (you cannot steal him when he is under Perfect
Defence) until you get the Genji Gloves. Now bring in your dps and
finish him. He will now resist your attacks and combo more, but it
isn't anything life-threatening. That's it, Gilgamesh down (at least
provisionally).

------------------ End of Part 1 ------------------

That was the easy part and we already landed the Genji Gloves. You can
also use these to great effect with Ninja Swords, not just the
Masamamune, that also have high combo rates. Now for the second fight
we need to follow Gilgamesh (and Enkidu) deep into the Lhusu Mines, a
very nasty place in itself.

It is also advisable you do some shopping before pursuing him. Save at
the teleport crystal, then head to Phon Coast to buy from the merchant
there 3 Fireflies. During the next battle, Gilgamesh will use the
Level-2 Sleep/Level-3 Disable/Level-4 Break AoE attacks you first
encountered when fighting Zalera. So setting your levels correctly is
essentially more than half the job. Yeah, you have accessories to
immunise against all these attacks, but the battle will be long and
Gilgamesh will spam these AoEs. Unless you plan on spending 30+
minutes switching gear on and off, I suggest you just set your levels
correctly and then enter the Lhusu Mines with your Fireflies on
everyone. If you are hovering a little over level 40, then 41, 43, 47,
49 are advisable for your characters. Not that you cannot finish
Gilgamesh without setting your levels right, you can. It will just be
tedious and time-consuming.

After setting your levels and buying your Fireflies, it would also be
a good idea to stock up on Phoenix Downs, X-Potions, Gold Needles and
Chronos Tears.

Finally, if you have the Diamond Armlet, better go get those Dark
Matters from Nabudis (see the Cerobi Steppe farming section) and power
them up. You should have enough Knots of Rust by now to power up a
Dark Matter. To do this quickly, have a party member with light armour
and Bubble Belt on to use Knots of Rust on himself (set a gambit of
the sort Self: -> Knot of Rust). Whenever he dies, have another member
revive him. Knots of Rust deal random damage based on the user's max
HP. You want to keep using these until you register in total 180K
damage. Your Dark Matter is then fully charged. Dark Matters can be
used against targets to deal physical damage equal to the total amount
of damage done by Knots of Rust divided by three, with the damage
capped at 60000. This is essentially the single most powerful hit in
the game. After you use the Dark Matter, the counter resets, so you
have to register another 180000 damage via Knots of Rust before the
next Dark Matter is fully charged. Dark Matter deals fixed damage and
won't miss, unless the enemy uses a physical paling, so it is a great
finishing move against bosses. This will facilitate the fight a
lot. Again, if you don't have Diamond Armlet/Dark Matter, don't fret,
you can do this without it.

Also, to follow Gilgamesh into the mines, you need the Site 11 Key
from Phon Coast (see the Phon Coast section).

Now put the Fireflies on your active party members and head past the
bridge where you fought Gilgamesh and into the area where Antlion
was. What you want to do is turn right after you encounter the first
Praying Mantises and use the Site 11 Key to unlock the gate
there. Proceed into Site 11 and head all the way to the north. You
will find the tracks there blocked by a grill. Use the switch nearby
to remove the obstacle and proceed into the next area (Lasche
Span). Be careful of the two flying enemies (Aeronites), they have
instant death attacks. Use Thundaga/Lightning Arrows against them.

RARE GAME ALERT: Bombshell

This can be quite dangerous if you encounter him at low levels (as you
probably are right now). 20% chance of showing up every time you enter
this area. He is a bomb-like enemy, so don't use guns against him. His
physical attacks are Fire-elemental and can deal more than 2000 per
hit without Fire-resistant armour/accessories, so be careful. If you
are a complitionist, you will be seeing this guy a lot during your
endgame: He has the Yagyu Darkblade, the ultimate Ninja Sword as a
rare drop, so you will probably find yourself chaining him to get the
sword.

Finally you enter Site 5. The situation here is pretty bad, as you
will be greeted by high-level Abysteels and other undead
enemies. Remember, Curaja is your best weapon, have your mage cast it
pre-emptively whenever you engage and keep Decoy on your tank. Make
your way towards the east side of this area into Site 6, the last area
before Gilgamesh. Head south here, where you will find a save crystal,
a sure sign Gilgamesh is right around the corner. You can now safely
remove your Fireflies. Prep your team, save your game and prepare for
an epic battle.

------------------ Gilgamesh: Part 2 ------------------

This time things are serious. His HP is colossal and even Enkidu is
pretty frightening. He will also now hit like a truck (not initially,
but very soon you will feel his wrath). Thankfully, he remains a
single targeting opponent, with the only real AoE attacks being the
Level-2 Sleep/Level-3 Disable/Level-4 Break you already know from your
fight with Zalera (this fight in general reminds Zalera a lot. You
have a hard-hitting, single targeting enemy who uses the same AoE
status ailments). The latter you already neutralised by setting your
levels properly, so whenever he wastes time to charge one of these
attacks, you get a free pass. If some of your team members are
susceptible to his status ailments, make sure you switch on proper
accessories to immunise against them, or just have them on
permanently. Break isn't such a problem. Sleep and Disable on the
other hand is. If you haven't set your levels correctly, prepare for
micromanagement hell, as from some point on, Gilgamesh will spam his
status ailment attacks.

I would advise the following gambits for your mage/healer (Fran or
Penelo):

Ally: Any -> Raise 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Dispel 
Ally: Chronos Tears
Vaan/Ashe: -> Decoy (whoever is your team leader) 
Ally: HP<70% -> Cura/Curaga 
Balthier: -> Berserk (have this turned off inititally)
Balthier: -> Bravery 
Self: -> Faith 
Foe: Lowest HP -> Firaga

The rest should have pretty standard attack/steal gambits. Put a
gambit in place for the rest of the team to use a Phoenix Down if
needed. Your team leader should be always in Steal mode. It is also a
good idea to give the party leader a gambit of the sort Self: HP
critical -> X-Potion just in case the mage can't cast Curaga in time.

Equipment for your team should be: Balthier: Fomalhaut+Wyrmfire
Shot+Hermes Sandals. If you can equip some Dragon Mail or Maximillian
with him, now would be a good time.

Vaan/Ashe (tank): Main Gauche+Demon Shield (or the Genji Shield you
just stole if you don't have it), Crown of Laurels, Dragon
Mail/Maximillian (you can do it even with inferior armour to a Dragon
Mail, but it will be a hassle)+Nihopalaoa for the opening act, then
Bubble Belt for the rest of the fight.

Fran/Penelo: Best mystic armour/hat+Flame Staff+Indigo Pendant.

The level disparity (again, this is written for an early/mid 40's
level team) may give you the idea that tackling the second fight at
this point borders insanity. The game certainly gives the impression
of expecting you to wait for your second encounter. But as you have
learned so far, levels have only limited bearing on the outcome of
such boss fights. With proper augments on your Licence Board and
quality gear/weapons, your team is more than capable of handling
Gilgamesh. There are no weird handicaps in this fight. You can endure
the damage dealt and also hit him back very hard. This is enough to be
victorious.

Start your fight as the last time, by having your tank use Niho+Remedy
on Enkidu, while Balthier shoots with Wyrmrife Shot and your mage (if
she has the time) casts Firaga (you can also have your mage Dispel
him). Enkidu should be dead pretty soon and with Blind on, he won't be
able to hurt you particularly. Do not forget to put a Bubble Belt on
your tank after using the Remedy. Gilgamesh's physical attacks will
hit for about 1300-1400 with a Maximillian on and can combo, so pay
attention to both keep your HP up and maintain Decoy on your tank. He
should be doing nothing more than stealing for almost the entirety of
the fight.

After Enkidu is down, either bring in Basch with the Zodiac Spear or
use non-elemental ammo with your Fomalhaut and turn on the Berserk
gambit of your mage. Also, close the Firaga gambit, take control of
him and stand at a distance to monitor the battle. Depending on the
situation, have your tank use manually X-Potions if needed and
re-apply Decoy regularly. Once Gilgamesh's HP drops enough, he will
start entering his different stances and putting buffs on himself
every time he does that. The most frightening of them is Bravery. This
is why you need that Dispel gambit way up in the priority list. After
his first stance he will start using Bitter End (again, single
target), which will hit for 2000-2500 damage if you Dispelled Bravery,
so you can survive it easily if you keep your HP up (it occasionally
also inflicts Break, use Gold Needle). Be careful because he can cast
Bitter End two times in a row, so it is advisable to manually pop an
X-Potion on the tank after the first attack.

Near 40% HP he will enter a new stance and you can now try to steal
the Genji helmet. He will also start hitting harder and combo more,
but with good armour he is still manageable with Cura/X-Potions,
provided you Dispel him immediately after he changes stance and
maintain Decoy. You really do not want him targeting anyone other than
your tank from now on (especially your mages, who are as good as dead
within a single hit). If you are doing damage too fast and your steal
keeps failing, remove your dps until you get the item. I wouldn't risk
removing the Bubble Belt though in favour of the Thief's Cuff.

Once you have the helmet, resume your attack. Gilgamesh will enter his
final stance, which includes using again Perfect Defence. This is a
very dangerous moment. Normally your gambit should be enough to Dispel
his buffs before he has time to raise his paling, unless you happen to
be in the process of raising some fallen party member or casting
something manually (like Decoy). Should you fail to Dispel him, you
are in a world of hurt. It's not necessarily a game over, but you have
to weather the next minute+ until Bravery goes away by itself, during
which you will be fighting for your life.

Right after Perfect Defence (you can remove your dps character again
from the battle) he will charge his big tank-busting attack: Monarch
Sword. If you Dispelled him, it will hit for about 4500-5000 damage,
so it is still survivable with the Bubble Belt on. If you didn't
Dispel, this hit will deal 9000+, essentially killing your tank, in
which case Gilgamesh will go after the rest of the team and start
taking them down one by one. It is advisable to have your second team
leader already in reserve with Decoy on for such a bad
situation. Gilgamesh will hit again with Monarch Sword within a very
small interval. If you survived the first hit, cast Cura/Curaga AND
have the tank pop an X-Potion to have him back at max HP for the
second hit.

Once this is over, Gilgamesh will lower his paling (which means you
can finally Dispel him, if you failed so far) and you can now steal
the final item, the Genji Armour. From now on, change your healing
gambit into: Ashe/Vaan (Whoever is your team leader): ->
Reverse. That's right, it's time to use the Reverse/Decoy
trick. Gilgamesh will be comboing like mad from now on, so you cannot
keep up with just healing through the damage. Now it also becomes a
matter of luck. If you get your Genji Armour fast, you can finish him
quickly.  But the more it takes, the harder the fight becomes. By now
your mage's MP will be depleting, so it may be a good idea to bring in
your second mage to take over, or just pop Ether/Hi-Ether/Elixir (the
stakes are high. Now is the time to use your quality items). And
remember, maintain Decoy manually. If you stall for way too long, he
will even use Monarch Sword again!

When you finally get that Genji Armour, bring back your dps, throw
that Dark Matter and let's go home and celebrate. If you don't have
the Dark Matter, keep hitting him (he will resist your attacks at
critical) while using Reverse/Decoy, or just bring in your reserves to
hit him with Quickenings.

Obviously, if you do not wish to stand there and get hammered while
trying to steal the Genji Helmet/Armour, you can just go for all-out
attack and have him down very fast.

------------------ End of Part 2 ------------------

In general, this isn't a scripted battle. A lot of things can go
wrong. Gilgamesh can inflict Stop with his physical attacks (that's
why there is this Chronos Tear gambit in place). If this happens, your
tank will immediately lose his Decoy status and all hell will break
loose. It doesn't happen very often, but it is a possibility and a
cause for concern. Still, I prefer a Bubble Belt over a Power
Armlet. Be prepared for unforeseen events and for party members to
die. But it isn't the end, even if your plan goes sour for a
while. Toss a few Phoenix Downs, use your reserves wisely and you can
recover and reclaim control of the situation. Gilgamesh isn't the
battle to be won on autopilot. Even if you ‘ve done this many times,
there are still surprises and that's why I believe the term epic is
earned here.

Once Gilgamesh is down, save at the crystal and make your way back to
the teleport crystal to return to Rabanastre and claim the
Masamune. This time you can actually level up a little on your way
back. I hope you didn't initiate that Trophy Rare Game sidequest in
Phon Coast. There is nothing worse than having been through a nearly
hour-long ordeal facing Gilgamesh, then on your way back run into
Disma (I know from bitter experience).


========================================= 
OPTIONAL: A Dark Rumor
Belito (aka Ba'Gamnan and Co, Rank V) 
HP: 73393 - LV: 49 (Ba'Gamnan)
HP: 27626 - LV: 47 (Rinok, Bwagi, Gijuk)
=========================================

Spoiler alert: There is no actual Belito Hunt, you are just pitted
against Ba'Gamnan and his gang for a rematch. Don't worry though, you
will get a reward (Megaelixir) for your trouble. And revenge is always
a reward of its own.

You have to travel all the way to the Withering Shores in the
Nam-Yensa sandsea. This is the isolated area in the middle of the map,
accessible through the Zertinan Cavern. Teleport to Nam-Yensa (save
there), then enter Ogir-Yensa and take the route towards the Central
Junction area, where the entrance to the Zertinan Cavern is. I suggest
you just flee to get through this quickly, the Urutans and other
enemies cannot hurt you anyway and you don't want to waste time with
the Salamande Entite if it happens to be around. Take a U-turn through
the cavern towards the north and enter the Withering Shores. Monid is
waiting for you on top of the tanks. Once you approach him the battle
will start, so make your preparations before that.

Your opponents are, just as the last time, weak to Water. This time
around they are stronger, have a lot more HP and will use a lot of
new, high level abilities and spells. That will introduce considerable
queueing, so it is advisable to steer clear of using any high-level
spells yourselves, at least initially until you get most of the gang
to sleep (you can do that). For the opening act, it is better to
command your team manually and stick to simple attacks and
debuffing/healing items to save time.

The main threat here is Ba'Gamnan, who has several buffs on and will
hit you with powerful attacks, like Eviscerator and Shining Ray (this
is a Holy-elemental AoE that can deal more than 1000 damage on
everyone around, so spread your team and better have only your tank
near Ba'Gamnan. If you are doing this late in the game, just equip
White Masks to absorb it.). You will be assisted in this Hunt by Monid
(he is actually pretty helpful, do not get rid of him).

What I suggest may seem counter-intuitive. Ba'Gamnan and company are
all weak to Water. But, only Ba'Gamnan absorbs it. The rest of the
gang take normal damage from it and they are also susceptible to
Oil. So Firaga can dispose of them quickly, even if it might heal
Ba'Gamnan. Since you are casting Firaga at the very beginning of the
fight (where Ba'Gamnan hasn't received any damage yet anyway), you
don't have much to lose.

So start the battle with only your party leader and Decoy on. Have him
kite Ba'Gamnan and Gwagi towards the other two member of the gang (who
enter the fray from the bridge with a small delay), then start using
Niho+Remedy on Ba'Gamnan and his friends. Rinok, Bwagi and Gijuk will
be inflicted with Oil and Sleep (among other things), Ba'Gamnan will
get Sap, Silence and Slow. Now bring in your two mages with Flame
Staves on and start casting Firaga on the sleeping/oiled enemies. You
can try to kite Ba'Gamnan away so he won't get healed by the spells,
but it doesn't really matter. The goal is to dispose of his minions as
fast as possible and you are doing just that. After 2-3 casts, they
will all be dead and you can focus on Ba'Gamnan.

Now you can either have your tank keep him occupied (with Main
Gauche/Demon Shield on, you will be blocking most of his attacks,
including spells like Shining Ray) by maintaining Decoy and bringing
in Balthier with Fomalhaut+Water Shot to finish him (it doesn't take
long), or summon an Esper. In the former case make sure you keep Decoy
on. Ba'Gamnan obviously has a beef with Balthier and will always
prefer to attack him, unless you put Decoy on somebody else. In the
latter, you can essentially let Monid do the tanking while you stay
away and periodically toss an X-Potion/cast Cura on Monid to keep him
going. Both Exodus and Zeromus can easily deal with Ba'Gamnan within
one summoning (if using Zeromus, Dispel Ba'Gamnan to remove his Shell
status).

After all your sidequesting is complete, feel free to relax, then take
a teleport crystal to either Eruyt Village or Golmore Jungle.


========================= 
52. Golmore Jungle 
=========================

We are going to be crossing Golmore Jungle heading south. It's
basically the same route you took before if you have already entered
the Feywood to farm those Mirrorknights (see the Feywood Excursion
section).

========================= 
53. Feywood 
=========================

Once again, cast float before you zone in to avoid the traps. Dispose
of the Deadly Nightshades and make your way to the southeast, into the
Walk of Stolen Truths. Your minimap will stop functioning in this
area, but you can find a map on the northeast corner. Exit south to
where the save crystal is. The area with the Mirrorknights is on your
right.

Now if you've been here before, you will have noticed that upon trying
to move further south, you were blocked by the Myst. Not so this
time. Now we can enter the lower portion of the Feywood and reach
Giruvegan. That is, after the boss fight.

----------------------------------
Boss: Rafflesia HP: 73398 - LV: 43
----------------------------------

Let's be honest, storyline boss fights from now on will be mostly a
formality. The question isn't whether you can down Rafflesia, it's how
to do this the fastest and most efficient way.

The gimmick of this fight is the MP draining field, which will soon
render it impossible to use magic for offence or healing purposes. If
you plan on sticking around for long, you should resolve to healing
items (and Measures if you want to put buffs on). Rafflesia is like a
bigger Elder Wyrm, big on status ailment attacks and will occasionally
summon Malboros as sidekicks to hit you with even more status
ailments. Other than that, she holds no surprises. She won't resist
your attacks at critical, so you are free to hack away.

There are many ways of disposing of her fast. Given her HP, you can
just hit her twice with WindSlicer shot (Rafflesia is weak to Wind),
which will deal max damage, then toss a charged Dark Matter and it's
all over (not that anyone would waste a Dark Matter on
Rafflesia). Similarly, you can summon Chaos. After you summon, touch
the save crystal to get your MP back, enter the battle and have the
summoner cast Dispel on her, then sit back and relax while Chaos
Aerogas her to death (along with her minions). Given she can barely
scratch Chaos with her attacks, you don't even need Bubble on
him. Finally, you can go regular tank and spank on her, with your
party leader using Niho+Remedy to inflict her with Silence (which will
prevent her from using several of her status spell, like Disable), the
mage Dispelling her and then having Balthier with the WindSlicer shot
finishing her. She won't even have time to summon Malboros or use her
big AoE status ailment attack.

If you really want to go bananas and you have your Masamune, do the
whole Basch+Masamune+Genji Gloves+Critical+Berserk+Bravery+Haste trick
(engage with your party leader with Decoy on). She will probably not
last more than 5 seconds.

After this forgettable boss, we are free to explore the southern
Feywood. In the area after Rafflesia (What Magic's Embrace) you will
find an urn with a new map (your minimap is still jammed) in the
southeast. Also check the final recess on the southeast, there is a
chest occasionally spawning that can give you Elixir. By the way, the
Mantis-like enemies you encounter here, even though Holy-weak, do not
absorb Dark. So Dark Shot+Black Robes will deal max damage against
them (in fact with Black Robes+Dark Shot you can 1-shot everything
inside southern Feywood, except Giruveganos).

In the next couple areas you are prompted to visit the shrines,
examine them, then when you turn your camera around you will see a
spectral vision of a forrest between two pillars. Head towards the
direction of the image to visit the next shrine and do the same
thing. After doing this three times in the first area, it will lead
you towards the crossing line to the southwest into the final zone. If
you do not follow the shrines as indicated, you will be prevented from
proceeding any further.

When you enter the final area of the Feywood (The Edge of Reason), do
the same thing with the shrines there (four in total here), until you
are led to the big gate to Giruvegan. There you have to summon Belias
(the only case in the entire game where you are compelled to use an
Esper) and touch the gate to unlock it.

There is a chest spawning occasionally on a trap close to the gate
(where a Giruveganos is). It usually spawns on top of a regular chest,
so you may have to open two in a row. If it's there, you are
guaranteed the Ensanguined Shield (the chest won't respawn after you
get it). This is a mighty useful Shield. It grants 90(!) Evade, so if
you equip it together with a Measure or the Main Gauche, you hit 100
Evade and you can practically block everything, unless your opponent
ignores your evasion. This is going to be very useful against
hard-hitting enemies (like Pylraster). The downside is the wearer of
the shield also gets some debuffs (Slow, Sap, Poison etc), so it's not
supposed to be used for casual strolling through areas. In mission
critical situations though, it can be a lifesaver. Should you fail to
pick it up during your first pass through the Feywood, just save in
Giruvegan and come back and try again until you get it.

========================= 
54. Giruvegan 
=========================

Save at the teleport crystal, then touch the Way Stone to teleport
into another location. You see an ominous headless status in a
cutscene, signifying it's boss time.

--------------------------------- 
Boss: Daedalus HP: 65644 - LV: 42
---------------------------------

His HP is even less than Rafflesia's. Your Masamune will have a field
trip of him. He occasionally casts Darkra in the beginning of the
battle, which may mean trouble for Basch if you get unlucky with your
combos, but usually he is down before he has a chance to pose a
threat. Or summon Chaos. He is weak to Holy, so Chaos will wipe him
out easily and endure his attacks without breaking a sweat. Exodus is
also very capable in this fight.

With your Ensanguined Shield you can initially block all of his
physical attacks (and Float will take care of one of his
Earth-elemental AoEs), but bellow a certain percent of his HP, he will
ignore your evasion, so it's not such a good strategy here.

After the battle touche the new Way Stone to teleport inside
Giruvegan.

Blizzaga and Icecloud Arrows will work wonders against most enemies
here. Use Water Shot against the Golems. Beware of a Holy-elemental
entite occasionally spawning in the next area. His Holy spells can hit
hard, equip your tank with the Dawn Shard for extra protection if you
engage. Darkra and Dark-elemental weapons work well against it. He has
Return Damage, so make sure you heal your dps.

In this area of the spooky place (Water-Steps) there are a number of
blocked gates, controlled by corresponding Gate Stones (you will come
to loath them when you are deep inside the Great Crystal after the
storyline walkthrough). Things are pretty straightforward, use the
Gate Stones to open the gates and make your way in a meandering
fashion towards the west.

The first Gate Stone to activate is the Avrio Gate stone, south of
where you start. Continue farther south to eventually reach the Cthes
Gate Stone (there are a couple of Mythril Golems there, they cast
reftectable magic). Now head all the way back north, but right to the
east of where you began from to check a chest that may give you an
Elixir.

Continue meandering until you reach the end of this area, where a
couple of Myrthil Golems are. Take a leap of faith into the void and a
phosphorescent bridge materialises, leading into the next area.

More of the same Gate Stone business. Head south to activate the Paron
Gate Stone. Then keep meandering (there is only one way available
anyway) until you reach the Parelthon Gate Stone, again flanked by a
couple of Mytrhil Golems. Head southwest and you will soon find the
Tychi Gate, which is blocked. Take the ramp going up (you will see in
your map that you are essentially moving on a circle around a big
empty area in the centre). Continue meandering on this path until you
reach the Tychi Gate Stone. After activating it you can either
backtrack to the Tychi Gate, or continue towards the beginning of this
area (where the Paron Gate Stone was), since on your way is another
chest with a chance of giving you Elixir. Then get all the way to the
southwest through the (now open) Tychi Gate and over the rainbow
bridge into the next area.

After the cutscene, save at the save crystal and enter the next
area. Climd the ramp there on your left. From the centre of this area
(where you get a view of the Great Crystal) you can make another magic
bridge materialise. Follow it to reach the next boss fight.

-------------------------------- 
Boss: Tyrant HP: 180428 - LV: 43
--------------------------------

Technicks are sealed in this fight, how are we ever to survive this
:)?

He is weak to Ice (?!) and his HP is considerable. He is also capable
of hurting you using high level elemental spells, as well as
unreflectable Graviga (with which you are all too familiar from your
encounter with Zeromus. Remember: Gravity can kill you in this
game.). Finally, he is only susceptible to Confuse. So the easiest
method is putting Mirror Mail on your party leader and the Nihopalaoa
and Ruby Rings on your two mages. Haste+Faith+Glacial Staves and
reflect Blizzaga (Dispel him first to remove Shell) while the party
leader keeps feeding him (manually) Smelling Salts. That's all there
is to it. Other than his opening move, he won't get a chance to hit
you for the entirety of the battle.

You can also fuck him up with your Masamune. Have Basch in reserve
with the usual setup, as well as Reflect and open the battle with your
tank and Decoy on and your mage using Dispel. Then, once you have
Tyrant's attention on the tank, bring in Basch. It is a good idea to
have the party leader with a Mirror Mail on and the mage with Opal
Ring renewing Decoy/casting Curaga, or just use X-Potions to
heal. Normally Tyrant will be dead before he has time to charge
Graviga (which will kill Basch). If that happens, bring in your mages
and start feeding him Niho+Smelling Salts and finish him with your
Blizzagas (he should be pretty low on HP already).

After the fight backtrack to the save crystal, save your game, then
return where you fought Tyrant and touch the Way Stone to teleport
inside the Great Crystal.

Your goal is to get all the way down to the lower levels of the
crystal. You will also notice there is no actual map here and the
place is very maze-like. Magic bridges will materialise from the
platform you or onto. Take the one heading down. On the next platform,
check the chest (possibly and Elixir), then continue downwards. You
will reach the platform where Way Stone VII is. Touch it to teleport
to Way Stone VI.

Here there are three magic bridges. Take the one on your left (going
down) and activate the Cancer Gate Stone there. Take the other bridge
from this platform and in the next area you will find a chest. This
will give you either a White Robe (a great Mystic Armour that enhances
Holy-damage from spells and weapons by 50%) or a Holy Lance (your
first true Holy-elemental weapon). Take the other bridge from this
platform (going down) to return to Way Stone VI. Now head down the
right bridge. There is a gate there that we unlocked using the Cancer
Gate Stone. Continue down until you reach Way Stone V and use it to
teleport to Way Stone IV.

You will find here the blocked Pisces Gate. To open it, head down the
one of the two bridges starting from this platform (there are two, one
going up, one down). After you pass an empty platform, you reach the
Pisces Gate Stone. Activate it and come back to Way Stone IV. The gate
is now open. Take the magic bridge through the Pisces Gate (again,
always going down) and touch Way Stone III. A cutscene occurs and you
find yourself at Way Stone II. Head down the bridge to the save
crystal (save your game, Esper fight imminent) and touch Way Stone I
to teleport again outside the Great Crystal (you are back in the
Giruvegan section). Your Esper awaits you right after the gate.

--------------------------------- 
Boss: Shemazai HP: 91136 - LV: 45
---------------------------------

She has that annoying Elemental Shift ability that Trickster was
using. Whenever you hit her with the element she is weak to, she will
change her affinity and become weak to another one (while absorbing
all others). In principle this makes Chaos pretty good for this
battle, for he will target correctly almost all elements she is weak
to. If she switches to Water or Earth, Chaos will hit with Scourge,
which though it won't deal 9999, it is still powerful. That way you
can have him going through about half Shemazai's HP within one
summoning. Still, not good enough. Exodus can also deplete most of her
HP during one summoning and have her down early in the second.

The only status ailment you can inflict is Immobilize, but it ain't
much. Shemazai will cast powerful non-elemental spells like Shock and
Flare, than can one-hit kill your ranged weapon users, unless you use
top-of-the-line mystic hats, or the Dawn Shard. Her physical attacks
can also cause Disable. Put a Bubble Belt on your tank to immunise
against it.

If you have the Masamune, you can use it to cut her into pieces. Just
keep her attention on your party leader and she will be down very
fast.

In general, with a couple of berserkers and weapons like Ultima
Blade/Zodiac Spear, you can kill her easily by just having the tank on
auto-support mode with a Bubble Belt and popping the occasional
X-Potion, in case he gets hit by Flare.

After the disappointment Mateus was, you may have the impression we
went through all that just to be saddled with another useless
storyline Esper. Think again! Not only is Shemazai a level 2 Esper
(the first storyline one), she also has the craziest and most powerful
final attack of any of the thirteen available ones!

Shemazai is essentially a two-trick pony, like Zeromus and Exodus. She
will use her regular attack, Devour Soul, which acts as Knot of
Rust/Comet (deals damage equal to a random percent of Shemazai's max
HP, in intervals of ten) and also her final attack, Soul Purge, which
triggers during the last ten seconds of the summon, or if she gets
below 30% HP. Now this last one is interesting. It deals damage equal
to the total amount of damage done by using either Devour Soul or
ordinary Knots of Rust, divided by 3, with the damage capped at 60000,
just like a Dark Matter! So you can power it up just as you would an
ordinary Dark Matter (keep using Knots of Rust), or by using Devour
Soul (summoning Shemazai against ordinary enemies). And this is the
important point: Damage done by Devour Soul is saved whenever you
finish a summoning without using Soul Purge, so you can keep building
it completely independently from the Knot of Rust counter.

If you use Soul Purge, both the Knot of Rust damage counter and the
Devour Soul counter are reset. So you can either expend you deathblow
attack on a Dark Matter or Soul Purge, not both. Note that Soul Purge
is considered magical attack, so it can be used even in cases a Dark
Matter would fail (as when the target is using a paling against
physical attacks).

After the battle, enter the next chamber, read the inscription on the
Way Stone and then activated it for a quite interesting cutscene,
after which you obtain the treaty blade. Then reread the inscription
on the Way Stone and touch it to find yourself back outside
Giruvegan. Use the teleport crystal to return to Balfonheim Port.

========================= 
55. Balfonheim 
=========================

If you check your map you will see a big X on it at the southwest of
the port. Head there and talk to the Sentinel, informing him that you
want to see Reddas. After the cutscene Reddas joins the team and will
be your companion for the entire stage of Pharos of Ridorana (the last
segment of the story). You can get there by going to the Aerodome,
where there is now a Private section, apart from the tellers selling
tickets to the various cities on Ivalice. From there you can access
the Strahl and pick the Ridorana Cataract as a destination from the
worldmap. The Strahl is essentially our late-game airship from
previous FF games. You can use it to travel to several locations in
Ivalice, which means you now have a free alternative to using teleport
crystals, as well as access to some places for which there isn't a
teleport crystal nearby. If you want to continue with the story, head
to section 54. Of course, you can always do a little side questing
first :).

You can now buy the new spells available in Balfonheim, which include
big names like Arise (you might want to change your gambits to use
this instead of Raise from now on), Esunaga, Shellga, Protectga and
Darkga. Also visit the weapons shop and buy the Holy Lance if you
didn't get it in the Great Crystal. It is a very good weapon and will
be very useful until we get our hands on the Excalibur. Stock up on
healing items too.

After the events of Giruvegan, a lot of high level gear and spells
become available. You can now buy the Indigo Pendant (inside the
skyferry from Balfonheim to Bhujerba), the Diamond Armlet (from the
Eastersand merchant), the Sage's Ring (from the merchant in Old
Arcades), as well as the Bubble spell, which is normally only
accessible through the clan provisioner (inside the skyferry from
Rabanastre to Nalbina). You should now definitely go get those Dark
Matters from Nabudis with your Diamond Armlet (see the Cerobi Steppe
farming section).

A walk to the tavern will inform you that the Hunting Board has been
updated with six new marks, several of them being very
interesting. You might want to travel around Ivalice to pick them up
from their petitioners. Make certain you go pick up the Piscodaemon
Hunt from Ivanus in Bur-Omisace, as you will return to the Great
Crystal anyway, so you can finish Piscodaemon then.

We are also in a position to obtain the two final optional Espers,
Ultima and Zodiark. But, getting to Ultima is a long process, since
she is inside the Great Crystal (you remember what a maze this was)
and Zodiark requires you to go through Ultima first. As none of the
two will have much bearing on the current Hunts (especially Ultima),
we will complete the first five of them now, then head to the Great
Crystal and do Piscodaemon on the way to Ultima. It is a good idea
before you start Hunting to spend some time to charge your Dark Matter
(and Shemazai). The first client in our list is Fafnir.

=============================== 
OPTIONAL: Wyrm Wrath's Renewal 
Fafnir (Rank VII) 
HP: 1390379 - LV: 67 
===============================

Fafnir is essentially the first true superboss we are going to face in
this game. At almost 1.4 million HP, he is more than 4 times beyond
what our strongest opponent up to now had (Humbaba Mistant). He is
also able to hit you very hard, with powerful physical attacks, breath
attacks (that hit everyone in a cone in front of him and can cause
status ailments too) as well as status ailments spell and powerful
non-elemental spells. But fear not, we'll take care or him.

Again, getting him to appear is tricky. You have to get a blizzard
when you enter Silverflow's End (the deadend region in Paramina Rift
connecting with Karydine Glacier). Talking to Relj (the petitioner in
Bur-Omisace) will induce the blizzard, but even then you have to take
a specific route to have it going when you reach Silverflow's End. If
you picked up the Hunt already, then teleported back to Bur-Omisace to
do it, the blizzard will generally not occur, you have to talk to Relj
again before you start.

It is advisable to just hire a chocobo from the Moogle in Bur-Omisace
and take the trip to Silveflow's End. The route is: Freezing Gorge
(you start here) -> Head of the Silverflow -> Icebound Flow ->
Karydine Glacier -> Silverflow's End. Once there, you should have your
blizzard going and Fafnir will spawn in the middle of the area. Go
park the chocobo close to that big rock right after Fafnir (don't be
afraid, he won't attack while you are on the chocobo, just like
ordinary enemies) and prepare your team.

He is weak to Thunder, like most things in Paramina Rift, so the
answer is obvious: Reflect Thundaga. Start by dispelling him, then
kite him close to the rock. He might knock out a couple party members
with his physical before you get him in position, but he cannot chase
you far enough. Eventually he will just start attacking with his
spells, which means you are out of range and safe go on the
offensive. All his magic attacks are reflectable, so he cannot hurt
you at all. Reddas will try to attack him at melee range, just let him
die and remove any Arise gambits you might have, you won't need any
healing from now on. Put reflective gear on (Mirror Mail/Ruby Rings)
and have at least one of your mages with the Storm Staff on reflecting
Thundaga.

That's it pretty much. Now you are on autopilot. Thundaga will deal
9999 per hit with good mystic gear and the Storm Staff, even without
Faith on and get reflected three times (keep your team together so it
bounces off everyone). The fastest approach to this fight is having
both mages reflecting Thundaga and a third person using
Sagittarius+Lightning Arrows. You can also equip one of the two mages
with Mirror Mail+Opal Ring to act as support (cast Haste and Faith on
the mage casting Thundaga, as well as Haste/Berserk/Bravery on the guy
with the Sagittarius, but even Faith won't do much, you are already
dealing max damage). Running out of MP isn't an issue, as your mages
will get their MP back and more after every Thundaga cast. Despite the
seemingly astronomical HP, this is a quick fight with all the damage
you are dealing and the fact you spend no time healing or
micromanaging. Even Fafnir's own Shock spell will be reflected (and
damage him).

Fafnir will land you Assasin's Arrows (if you don't have them already)
and you get a new sprite in the Skypirate's Den for slaying him (many
of these late-game Hunts unlock such achievements). The music in
Bur-Omisace will also change. There is more. Talk to Montblanc after
Fafnir and he will offer you a new Elite Mark, Behemoth King himself!
Now this is another superboss-class mark, as King Behemoth has around
1.7 million HP and is an improved version of Fafnir with more gimmicks
and no, this time his magic isn't reflectable :(. You can do this now,
but I strongly advise you leave this for after the Pharos, as we will
then have access to gear and spells that will render this battle sooo
much faster.


============================== 
OPTIONAL: Paying for the Past
Catoblepas (Rank VI) 
HP: 187991 - LV: 46
==============================

You will find him in the Zertinan Caverns, in the area northeast of
the save crystal (Hourglass Basin, where the bomb enemies spawn). The
petitioner, War chief Supinelu will join for this Hunt. As tradition,
kill Reddas and Supinelu (they are bound to interfere), then
Niho+Remedy/Alarm Clock and Dispel him. Now bring in Zeromus. By now
Gravity Well will be hitting for around 18K per hit, which means he
can finish Catoblepas without even using Big Bang. That easy. Not to
mention, the Masamune trick works on him also (cast Float on Basch,
there are some traps around and Catoblepas can use an AoE that can be
dodged if you have Float on).


========================== 
OPTIONAL: Visitor On Deck 
Deathgaze (Rank VII) 
HP: 184000 - LV: 50 
==========================

Do we really need another mark with annoying spawning conditions?
Seriously, the only explanation why this guy is a rank VII mark is
because he is so hard to make him show his ugly face. You have to talk
to the “Travelerâ€￾ boy in the Aerodome (any will do) and his family to
accept the Hunt, but noooo, this isn't enough. You have to now start
taking the skyferry (routes are irrelevant), then talk to the kid
every time you land (you can find him in every Aerodome). He will keep
talking about Deathgaze, until finally mentioning that he is very
near, which is a clue he is very likely to appear during you next trip
(this isn't actually required. You may even get him to show up in your
very first attempt, if you are very lucky). Unfortunately, there is no
guarantee for that. Also, even if you save your game when you get the
clue, whether or not he will appear once you reload your game is
random. Keep taking the skyferry or soft reseting until he finally
shows up. You will know immediately, as there is a whole pretty funny
cutscene occurring once he attacks the skyferry.

Now make your way to the observation deck where Deathgaze is waiting
for you. He is weak to Earth and absorbs Wind, so Mud Shot and Artemis
Arrows, right? Wrong! Deathgaze will raise a physical paling the
moment you target him (even if you use just magic) and he won't remove
it, until very late in the battle. So we can only use spells against
him, but we do not have any Earth-spells and we cannot use our
elemental ammo. This guy likes to play dirty, so we will pay him in
kind.

Do not waste your time within melee range, your melee weapons (and
Reddas) are useless anyway and he has instant death attacks that can
KO your tank, plus he ignores your Evasion. Also, he will use Curse
against you, an AoE status ailement attack used by many of these high
level marks. This is essentially Bad Breath and will inflict you with
many status ailments, so the only way to immunise against it is to
have the Ribbon on. Against enemies using Curse it is always a good
tactic to have the Ribbon on your mage and an Esunaga/Cleanse gambit
on him to heal the rest of the team after the attack. Mind you, Curse
will also inflict Disease, so you also need to use Vaccines/cast
Cleanse.

Instead, stand at the top of the stairs, Dispel him and have one mage
with mystic gear and Ruby Ring on reflecting a high level elemental
spell for which you have boosting gear (Thundara/Blizzaga/Firaga with
the appropriate staff or Darkga if you have the Black Robes). These
will deal about 7000 damage per hit with Faith on. You can do this
with two mages, but in that case you need the third person to have
Mirror Mail+Pheasant Netsuke on and a gambit to use X-Potion when
someone is below 50-60% HP, as Deathgaze has Return Damage, so you
need active healing. You can also start your attack by reflecting Bio,
as Deathgaze is susceptible to Sap. Otherwise, have one mage
healing/buffing (with Mirror Mail+Opal Ring) while the other
attacks. This is more useful for maintaining Faith/Haste.

If you are just reflecting spells, Deathgaze can only target you with
his Fireball attack (deals below 1000 with your gear), cast some
elemental spell himself, which will bounce back, as well as cast
Scourge, which will also bounce back and inflict him with Sap anyway
if you didn't use Bio already. He may still cast Curse, use
Esunaga/Remedy gambits to counter that (since you ‘re not carrying any
dangerous melee weapons, Confuse isn't a problem). This is again on
autopilot. At low HP you may see him casting Reverse on himself, so it
is a good idea to have a Dispel gambit on one of your mages. Close to
death, he will finally remove his physical paling. Either toss a Dark
Matter/hit with Quickenings or use your Mud Shot/Artemis Arrows,
though you can finish him just as well by spamming spells.

Though Espers sound like a good idea for this battle (open to magic
attacks but physical paling on + he casts Curse), they really
aren't. Especially if you are doing this after Pharos, Hashmal
(Earth-elemental Esper) should be great. Unfortunately, Deathgaze has
a bad tendency to cast Restore whenever he is not targeted even
momentarily, which means that in-between summonings you end up losing
all you progress.

============================= 
OPTIONAL: The Child Snatcher 
Diabolos (Rank VII) 
HP: 93551 - LV: 46 
=============================

You will find him in Site 11 of the Lhusu Mines, so teleport there and
enter Site 11. Diabolos is waiting in a chamber on the southwest of
this area. There won't be any other enemies around when he spawns.

Do not be fooled by his low HP, this guy is dangerous. He can cast
Curse just like Deathgaze and when at critical HP will combo and hit
you like a truck. He is also the first enemy you encounter that can
use the Breakart Pentagram attack to instantly kill any Esper you
summon, so don't waste your time with them. This ability is also used
by ShadowSeer and Hell Wyrm.

Don't give him the change to show his ugly side. Attack fast and go
for the jugular. He is weak to Water, so Balthier with the Fomalhaut
and Water Shot for the firepower. Since he will be standing away,
you're not in danger from Curse. Do not put Berserk on Reddas, if he
gets hit by Curse (which will inflict Confuse) you cannot remove his
weapon, so it can backfire. Have your tank use Niho+Remedy and your
mage Dispel him (he has protect on), then just heal/Esunaga. Balthier
will be done with him really fast, before even your Decoy wears off.

The Zeus Mace you get as a reward may seem like a letdown, but it will
boost Dark-elemental spells (and physical damage) by 50% when
equipped, so it is equivalent to wearing the Black Robes if you don't
have them! Unfortunately, the bonuses do not stack up (so using Black
Robes+Zeus Mace won't have any further effect).


========================== 
OPTIONAL: A Wild Stench 
Wild Malboro (Rank VI) 
HP: 110842 - LV: 50 
==========================

Teleport to Eruyt Village, then make your way towards the Feywood. You
will find Wild Malboro in the same area you fought Rafflesia. It has 3
Malboros as minions and will (unsurprisingly) hit you with status
ailment attacks, as well as powerful physical attacks. He is the third
mark in a row that will use Curse (really, what's wrong with all these
post-Giruvegan Hunts?). Like Rafflesia, weak to Wind.

The conventional (and fast) method is using Balthier
(Fomalhaut+Windslicer Shot+Hermes Sandals with Berserk and Bravery
on), you team leader/tank and a mage with the Cherry Staff. Have an
Esunaga/Cleanse/Remedy gambit on your mage, along with a gambit to
Dispel the enemy and attack with Aeroga. Once you enter the area, try
to sneak up to Wild Malboro and start with Niho+Remedy and Dispel (he
has Bravery on and can hit very hard). After that, the mage and
Balthier will dispose of the minions very quickly (both will hit for
9999, so one Aeroga will leave only Wild Malboro standing). Your mage
may be stalled if Wild Malboro uses Putrid Breath/Curse against your
tank (and Reddas) and has to use Esunaga, but Balthier will be hitting
so fast the Malboro won't have a chance to use his super annoying Soul
Etude (essentially restores it to full HP). He won't raise defences at
critical, so you can keep hitting for 9999 all the way to the finish
line. If you get nervous about Soul Etude when you have him almost
down, hit him with a Dark Matter, but you generally won't need it.

A good approach is a joint Chaos+Windslicer Shot venture, but this
requires you give your summoner the Fomalhaut Licence (given this is
the end-game, you probably have the LP to burn by now). Engage with
your tank and one mage, with the tank having Decoy on and using
Niho+Remedy on Wild Malboro, while the mage casts Dispel. Once you are
done, bring in your summoner (somewhere far away from the attacking
Malboros) and summon Chaos. Syphon him, cast Bubble on him using your
Opal Ring, then stay away and snipe with your Windslicer shot. The
only gambits on your summoner should be

Ally: HP<60% -> Curaga 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Attack

and keep the Opal Ring on. Chaos will tank, as well as dispose of the
minions with his Aeroga. Chaos is immune to all status ailment attacks
(including Curse), the only threat is physical attacks. Together you
can finish Wild Malboro before it has time to use Soul Etude.

============================ 
OPTIONAL: The Black Sorcerer 
Piscodaemon (Rank V) 
HP: 49660 - LV: 46 
============================

This is by far the easiest of the post-Giruvegan Hunts and in case you
don't have Dark Shot yet, you may want to tackle this first, as you
get Dark Shot as a reward. The only complication, is you have to go
back to Girugegan and go through the first two areas, until you reach
the Gate of Fire, right before the place where you faced Tyrant
(groan!). Well, at least you can level up a bit.

Save at the crystal. Once you open the gate, the place will be
populated with enemies. Climb the ramp on your left. Piscodaemon will
be there. Dispose of the enemies near him so they won't disturb you,
then engage.

Other than not using Guns (he resists them), this is a very
straightforward affair. I will say only one word: Masamune. If you
don't have it, your regular melee dps will be more than enough to
finish him within seconds. Espers are also good here (he uses status
ailments), but you can deal with him faster by yourself.

Now you can see how the game is f-ing with you: You already had to go
through Giruvegan/Great Crystal following the main storyline. Then you
have to do this again to get Piscodaemon. If you want to face Ultima,
you can just continue from here, after finishing the Hunt, into the
Great Crystal. BUT, if you don't have the Dark Shot, you have to go
all the way back, go get your reward, then go through Giruvegan AGAIN
(third time already) and then meet Ultima. AND we also have to come
back again (fourth time) to meet Omega!

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Ultima 
HP: 258001 - LV: 63
==========================

Important: If you plan on doing the Piscodemon Hunt now and you don't
like coming back again in Giruvegan, make sure you have accepted the
Hunt.

The great hassle here is getting through the upper portions of the
Great Crystal. This place is huge (considerably larger than the small
lower portion you encounter during the main storyline), maze-like,
there is no real map and there are hardly any save crystals (there is
only the one at the lower portion where you saved before Shemazai and
another one near the top, right before Ultima). Unless you use an
online map, there is no way to navigate through this place. As if that
wasn't enough, there is an intricate complex of Gates and
corresponding Gate Stones that needs to be manipulated in order to
gain access to certain areas. Oh, and the enemies you will encounter
here are about level 60 and some of the most dangerous in the
game. Going through the Great Crystal is very time consuming (and
occasionally nerve-wrecking, if your team is unprepared). You can end
up spending more than one hour just to reach Ultima, even if you have
a map and know what you're doing.

The Great Crystal also houses Ultima and the superboss Omega Mark XII
(with about one million HP and the only level 99 boss in the game). It
also contains chests with some very rare items. There are particularly
2 chests that are guaranteed to give you the Zodiac Escuthceon (50
Evasion Shield, immune to Thunder) and the Excalibur (128 ATK,
Holy-elemental Greatsword). The Excalibur is unique and can only be
obtained through this chest. The Zodiac Eschutheon can also be
obtained from a chest in the Barnheim passage (with Diamond Armlet
equiped), but the chances are about 3% of getting it.

If you come all the way to meet Ultima, you must get at least the
Excalibur. It is essentially the best sword in the game (and one of
the very best weapons in the game, period), as it will allow you to
deal 9999 damage when it counts the most (i.e. against the hordes of
the undead that will gang up against you in the Great Crystal and
other similar dungeons). Having the Excalibur will render your endgame
so much easier.

It will also make your advance through the Crystal a lot smoother (you
will struggle at first). Many of the enemies are very powerful and
will spawn in large numbers (especially the undead) that can easily
overwhelm you if you cannot kill them fast enough. They will also hit
you with status ailment attacks (that Ribbon will really come in handy
here). With the Excalibur on you can hit for max damage even when
things are going south and you HP isn't at max, or you have no more
buffs because you are under fire for much too long. As the enemies are
high level and drop a lot of EXP, you will probably gain a few levels
until you're finished with Ultima.

I will not give you specific details about how to reach Ultima inside
the Crystal, for without proper visual aid (map) it would only confuse
you. Just check an online map on a site that discusses the
subject. You will eventually find yourself in the twilights of the
upper regions of the Great Crystal, at the save crystal right before
Ultima.

RARE GAME ALERT: Evil Spirit

This Specter-like enemy will spawn randomly on any of the platforms
surrounding the save crystal before Ultima. He is a menace and a lot
more likely to wipe your party than Ultima herself. Evil Spirit will
usually spawn together with all the other undead enemies (Forbidden),
who are tough customers already. Couple that to Evil Spirit hitting
with all kinds of delightful status ailments (including Death) and
this can quickly devolve into a monumental clusterfuck, right the
moment you thought you were finally safe. If you see things getting
out of control, flee to the save crystal (in fact, just flee and live
to fight another day).

Climb the middle of the three magic bridges starting from this
platform to initiate the encounter.

At first glance, she is pretty intimidating. I will admit that the
first time I fought her, quite unprepared, I ended up burning through
my stock of Elixirs (and actually saving my game afterwards, I was
that desperate!). But once you start getting used to her attack
patterns and the rotating gimmicks of this battle, you realise it's
mostly all smokes and mirrors. Beneath all that, Ultima is very
easy. In fact, if you setup you gambits correctly and have only a few
key accessories/items available, you can defeat her on autopilot, even
with a level 30 crew!

The big gimmick of the fight (and what makes it initially seem such a
huge challenge) is that all the handicaps you've encountered
throughout the game are all present and cycled through during the
entire encounter. You will get an HP draining field (like Cuchulainn),
then an MP draining field (Rafflesia), then attack will be blocked
(Chaos), then magic will be blocked (Zeromus) then you cannot use
items (Exodus), then you cannot use technicks (Tyrant) and finally,
you get the magnetic field that slows you down if you use Heavy Armour
(Vinuskar). Each time this cycle is completed, it starts all over
again, until you finish the battle (or it finishes you).

Having to factor in all these obstacles, as well as take into account
Ultima's own attacks may initially leave you scratching your head, but
the simplest answers are the best. The only thing you really need to
defeat her is one Sage's Ring. Ultima will cast Holyja against you,
her big bad Holy-elemental AoE, which you can absorb if you have the
Sage's Ring or a White Mask on. It can also inflict Reverse. That
means, even if your team is low on HP before Holyja, the guy wearing
the Sage's Ring is bound to survive, then revive the rest if they
didn't make it. This is more than enough to get you through the fight
(I will explain later why one is actually better than three).

Ultima loves Holy and hates the Dark. Unfortunately, you cannot use
your brand new Excalibur against her, for it will heal her. What you
want is Dark-elemental weapons (Dark Shot, Ninja Swords) and
Darkra/Darkga spells. She also has Return Damage, so you cannot use
you Masamune to its maximum potential either. However, Masamune can
still be useful, just not as powerful as you'd want. In fact most of
the good non-elemental weapons in your inventory (Zodiac Spear, Ultima
Blade, Save the Queen, Deathbringer) are very capable and can
certainly get the job done, even if you lack Dark-elemental weapons,
so do not fuss about it even if you failed to bring “properâ€￾ weapons
with you inside the Great Crystal.

Ultima Check List:

1) One Sage's Ring 
2) Dragon Mail, Genji Armour or Maximillian (if you have it) 
3) A good stock of Phoenix Downs, X-Potions and Remedies 
4) Dark Shot (if you have it. You can get it also as reward for the
Piscodaemon Hunt) 
5) One charged Dark Matter

Low Level Auto-Ultima: Gear and gambits

This is the setup I use to consistently defeat her almost without
having to touch the controller (at most I had to change leaders a
couple of times because the leader wasn't revived in time), without
using Dark Matter or Quickenings and using a team with an average
level of about 30. It takes around 15 minutes. Not to mention that you
can make it even easier if you actually pick up the controller and use
your Quickenings. This was tested on a save file from an earlier
playthrough, where I had a main party at level 60+ and reserves that
were barely used from some point on. They did have however enough LP
to obtain all the augments and high-level spells and equip endgame
gear and weapons. The configuration I describe is far from ideal. It
was essentially patched up from the little resources I had available
on that save file (e.g., I didn't even have a Dark-elemental weapon in
my inventory, or Dark Matters, or even Gil Toss!) and is mostly a
proof of concept of how easy this fight can be if you setup your team
(and especially your gambits) efficiently, despite all the gimmicks.

Team members: Penelo (party leader, level 32), Fran (level 29), Ashe
(level 28) (this was done after the Pharos, so no Reddas). All members
have HP+ augments and all Potion/Phoenix/Remedy Lore Licences on their
Licence Boards.

Gear:

Penelo: Deathbringer, Aegis Shield, Diademe, Maximillian, Sage's Ring

Fran: Zodiac Spear, Golden Skullcaps, Maximillian, Hermes Sandals

Ashe: Save the Queen, Golden Skullcaps, Maximillian, Bubble Belt
(again, this is far from optimal. I didn't even have a decent Light
Helmet in my inventory, or second Hermes Sandals)

Gambits:

Penelo: 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
Foe: Nearest visible: -> Dispel 
Ally: Has Reverse -> Dispel 
Self: -> Bubble 
Ally: HP<70% -> Curaja 
Ally: HP<70% -> X-Potion 
Self: has Sap -> Esuna 
Self: has Sap -> Remedy 
Self: MP<10% -> Elixir 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Attack

Fran: 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down 
Self: -> Bubble
Foe: Nearest visible -> Attack 
Foe: Nearest visible -> 1000 Needles

Ashe: 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Attack 
Foe: Nearest visible -> 1000 Needles

That's all I used. At most you will burn through 3-4 Elixirs. With a
proper team with levels close to 50, good weapons and Dark Matter,
this is a cakewalk, as you will have her down far before she has time
to even cycle once through all the handicaps. Reflecting Darkra/Darkga
is also a good way to deal massive damage, especially at the beginning
of the fight. Keep in mind that better weapons means you deal more
damage, but also receive more (through Return Damage), so your
approach must be more healing-intensive to conpensate (especially
during the HP-drain phase).

At critical she will resist your attacks, so go for Quickenings to
speed things up if you still have some MP (or just bring in one from
your reserves) and toss a Dark Matter. Part of Ultima's critical HP
defence is also capping Dark Matter damage to 42000, so gauge her
remaining HP and use it when you think one Dark Matter will finish
her. Because of the massive hit, using the Dark Matter will probably
KO whoever is using it through Return Damage, so you want to make sure
this is the finishing move.

One obvious suggestion to improve this lineup is to, of course,
immunise everyone against Holyja by equipping more Sage's Rings or
White Masks (especially after the Pharos you can buy the White
Masks). This turns out to be counterproductive. The reason, is Ultima
is prepared for such contingency. Should you all survive Holyja
unscathed and if all three party members are inflicted with Reverse,
Ultima will retaliate with Renew, which will leave everyone standing
at 1 HP. Couple that with the onset of the HP-draining field and you
have a wipe of your entire team, very early in the battle. You can of
course bring in reserves, but why bother when leaving just one guy
standing is more than enough to revive your team automatically?
Similarly, you can cook up a lot of strategies with guys using White
Masks+Pheasant Netsuke to get you through the MP-drain/Magic block
phases and a mage with Sage's Ring to heal through the rest, but this
is just overkill. As I said, a single Sage's Ring is more than enough

Ultima is the second level 3 Esper of the game. When summoned, she has
Reflect on (like Chaos), as well as Protect, Shell, Haste and
Libra. She absorbs Holy, is weak to Dark and immune to all other
elements. Her HP is also very high (in fact, the higher of all Espers
for a given level), exceeding even Chaos's and has higher Defence (at
61, it is equal to wearing the Grand Armour, the best Heavy Armour in
the game). In principle, she can act as a good tank. I wouldn't count
on her though to lead me safely through the Henne Mines, or Pharos
Subterra.

Her two ordinary attacks are Redemption for ordinary targets (deals
heavy Holy damage, essentially 9999 against all enemies) and the
non-elemental spell Flare against targets that can absorb Holy, so you
have another high level (and still unavailable) non-elemental
spell. The really good news is, Redemption is the same hard hitting
attack she used against you during your fight and has 0 CT, so she can
hit very fast (especially compared to your other Holy-capable Esper,
Chaos, whose Holy spells were excruciatingly slow).

The bad news is, her final attack, Eschaton, isn't anything
special. In order to trigger it both Ultima and the summoner must be
at below 30% HP, so it's tricky to execute in the first place and the
damage is unfortunately capped at 9999 :(. The upshot is, you can take
full advantage of the entire summoning session to deal max damage
through her ordinary attacks. Hitting against Holy-weak enemies, she
can dish easily more than 200K.

All in all, Ultima is mostly a ceremonial Esper at the point you can
first obtain her. The main reason is most of the bosses and Hunts
where she could be of use are long behind us and the few ahead are
mostly not suited for her (with a few exceptions, Hydro, Cid and
Ixion). You could have used her against Catoblepas if you waited, but
what for, Zeromus could already defeat him without breaking a
sweat. In all the subsequent cases where an Esper is going to be
useful (and they are few from now on, the game is almost over!),
Zeromus will far outperform her in dps, with Exodus trailing close
behind, and that without taking into account how easier it is to
double-summon him compared to the MP hungry Ultima. It may be fun to
just stroll around in places like the Pharos with your fancy level 3
Esper, but given this place doesn't have exactly a save crystal around
every corner, this is mostly for demonstration rather than actual
utility.

If you have the stomach for it, as well as access to Demon
Shields/Black Masks, you can now try to claim the ultimate Esper of
the game, Zodiark!

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Zodiark 
HP: 336847 - LV: 66
==========================

Zodiark Check List:

1) Three Black Masks, or Demon Shields, or combinations of them 
2) Shell Shields (three would be best) 
3) Two Goggle Masks (optional).
4) A good stock of Phoenix Downs and X-Potions 
5) Opal rings 
6) One charged Dark Matter 
7) Ether 
8) Excalibur

To encounter Zodiark, you must first have obtained 10 Espers (and also
finished the Mindflayer Hunt). This means the earliest you can fight
him is after the events in Giruvegan, provided you picked up all the
previous Espers (including Chaos) and you returned to the Great
Crystal to obtain Ultima. Once Ultima is down, you stand at number ten
(there are still 2 storyline Espers in the Pharos and Zodiark for a
total of 13). Then go to Jahara to meet with Geomancer Yugelu, who
will give you access to the last portion of the Henne Mines, where
Zodiark is.

Teleport to Henne Mines and go north into the Ore Separation area,
where you fought Tiamat. You will now see that you can take a right
turn and access the new area of the mines. If you head all the way
east down this corridor you will find an urn with a much needed map of
the place. You will now see on it a large oval area in the eastern
reaction of the mines. This is where Zodiark awaits. I advise to
backtrack to the teleport crystal and save.

The trek to Zodiark can be challenging (perhaps this is an
understatement), even with very good gear if you are at lower levels
(mid-forties to early fifties), as the enemies in the deepest region
of the mines are essentially some of the highest level in the game
(around level 65, worse than the ones in the Great Crystal, about the
same as the ones in Pharos Subterra). Lots of undead, so your mage
with Curaja will be a force to be reckoned with. Also many of these
are susceptible to Niho+Remedy, which will fuck them up pretty bad, if
you feel overwhelmed, feel free to use this. Especially against the
Etems in the final section of the mines it would be advisable to use
it, since they will routinely cast Death against you, which is cause
for concern (and a cheap move in the first place).

RARE GAME ALERT: Glaring Eye

This is like a lighter version of Evil Spirit you encountered in the
Great Crystal. He always appears after you kill three of the Flan-like
enemies (Hecteyes) in Henne Mines, Crossover C or Phase 2 Shaft. The
good thing compared to Evil Spirit is you will be facing him alone, so
Niho+Remedy and you should get rid off him quickly. Keep your Demon
Shield on for he will use Maser Eye.

Obviously Holy Lance and the Excalibur are ideal weapons for this
place. Be careful of a particular junction where if you press a switch
you get ambushed not by Jellies as in the main storyline, but by a
shitload of Abysteels (you do not need to press the switch to access
Zodiark). These can quickly annihilate you if you don't keep them in
check. The best approach (aside from fleeing) is to cast Sleepga and
Curaja. This is also a tried and true method to level up your team
real fast, so if you are heading for level 99, this is probably the
place for you to farm EXP. Bear in mind that Zodiark will use the same
repertoire of level-whatever status ailment you are familiar with from
Zalera and Gilgamesh, so setting up your levels correctly is advisable
and since the enemies here drop lots of EXP, you may consider using
Fireflies for your journey. Make your way towards the east end of the
mines, where the telling oval chamber appears on your map. You will
have to cross some hidden paths that do not show on the map to get
there.

The bad news is, there is no save crystal before Zodiark! So better
avoid doing any farming/open chests on your way there, you may end up
losing all your progress if you are defeated. Stand at the crossing
line before his chamber and do all you pre-battle preparations
there. Having some Ethers with you is a good thing, for it will allow
you to start your battle at full MP despite the lack of a save
crystal.

The ultimate Esper of the game has become quite notorious for his
difficulty, but once again, it all depends on whether you wish to sit
there and watch while he spams Darkja against you, or finish this guy
fast and score the lucky thirteen. Seriously, this isn't the kind of
battle to be won by attrition. Like Exodus, all out attack is the way
to go. Not only will it guarantee you victory, it will also be fast
and painless. Remember that very first Esper battle against Belias,
where you were dealing damage so fast the poor guy was constantly
switching between actions not getting a chance to hit you? It's the
same all over again. Pummel Zodiark with everything you've got and his
HP will plummet so fast he will keep casting his protective spells
without attacking you. Go easy on him and he will retaliate with all
kinds of nastiness.

Zodiark will use powerful physical attacks which you can't block. He
is also immune to all status ailments, so don't waste time with
Niho+Remedy. Finally, he resists damage from Guns, so the situation
here is a little similar to Cuchulainn. The main difference is that
you now have decent levels and some good melee weapons, so you do have
the firepower to finish this quickly (obviously, it is plain stupidity
trying to down Zodiark without having quality weapons like the Zodiac
Spear and the Excalibur. Get them. Otherwise you really need to level
up some more before facing him). Zodiark also has Return Damage like
Ultima, so you do need a third character to actively heal your two
attackers. Apart from his physical attacks, he will cast powerful
spells like Scathe, Piercing Graviga and Banish Ray (single targeting
spell, Dark-elemental). He will also hit you with the Level 2
Sleep/Level 3 Disable/Level 4 Break spells like Gilgamesh and Zalera,
so it is advisable to set your levels at 53 or 55 (you will be around
there by now) before engaging him.

But the most dangerous attack Zodiark has for you is the infamous
Darkja (same animation as the elusive Black Hole Concurrence). His big
area attack that deals Dark-elemental damage (no problem here, equip
Demon Shields or Black Masks and you're set), can inflict Blind and
has a chance of instant death! The last attribute is the main threat
as you can immunize against the other two, but instant death you just
can't block. So Shell is really important as a buff here to minimize
the chances of having the entire party K.O.d by Darkja. Remember these
Shell Shields you've been collecting? They may actually save your life
when facing Zodiark.

Just like Shemhazai, Zodiark's physical attacks can cause Disease, so
Bubble Belts are once again a must. Have two melee attackers (Basch
and Balthier or Vaan) with the usual buffs on (Haste, Bravery,
Berserk), as well as Shell and give them Black Masks (or Goggle Masks
to avoid Blind, in which case you should look out for Darkja and put
on your attackers Demon Shields before it hits). Also cast Bubble on
everyone before the battle (before equipping the Bubble Belts), you
may want to switch some accessory mid-battle, along with Haste and
Shell (perhaps even Protect).

Now enter the battle with only one character and once the fight
begins, immediately cast Dispel on Zodiark (he has Reflect, Protect,
Shell and Haste on). Once you do that, Zodiark will promptly hit you
with Darkja (he always opens the battle with it, that's why you want
to enter with just one character). If your first character survives,
bring in your two berserkers to start your assault and have the first
character as a support to stand away from Zodiark and heal the
attackers with Curaja (equip mystic armour and a Judgement Staff/Cloud
Staff), if he dies, bring in three party members (including the two
berserkers) and revive the fallen one while in reserve. Your melee
attackers should start the battle with the Zodiac Spear and the
Excalibur, since Zodiark is (initially) weak to Holy. Both will be
hitting for 9999 damage with the Maximilian and Magepower Shishak
on. Keep the healer away from them and let them do their job. They'll
be hacking and slashing Zodiark so fast, he'll hardly have time to
breathe. Reddas, if you have him with you, will mostly be a nuisance,
but what the heck, you can do the job anyway.

You will soon see him using Greater Barrier. This puts Shell and
Protect back on, so Dispel them. Your damage from now on will be
capped at 6999, but still you'll be depleting his HP pretty fast. When
he goes below 50%, he will raise a magic paling, so if he casts any
buff like Faith or Reflect before 50%, Dispel it as you will be unable
to do so once he gets his paling on. Finally Zodiark will use
Elemental Shift, which will change his elemental weakness. Replace the
Excalibur with the Ultima Blade once he does that, but you are
basically almost there. If you have a charged Dark Matter in your
inventory, use it immediately, switch out your Berserkers (they won't
be targeted during Elemental Shift) and start a Quickening
Chain. Between the Dark Matter and a good Quickening Chain, you should
blast him with enough firepower to finish him off promptly. If he does
hit you with Darkja before completing these two attacks, bring in
reserves and try again before reviving any fallen party members.

In case you didn't finish him already, Zodiark will now be at pretty
low HP (within 10-20 thousand from defeat). Now is when it gets really
nasty. He will use Battle Cry which will increase his offensive power
and raise his physical paling which won't go away for the remaining of
the battle! You can simply forget about physical attacks from now
on. Your only way out is magic. By the way, if you do see him casting
Faith DO NOT DISPEL HIM. If you do, he will also raise a magic paling
which will make him completely invulnerable for a short time. Switch
out your berserkers and bring in two mages and a leader. Give everyone
Opal Rings and have the leader heal the team, while the two mages cast
Bio on Zodiark. Bio is unfortunately the only non-elemental spell we
got at this point but it fortunately charges fast and won't introduce
queueing, which can be very dangerous since Zodiark will also use high
level spells. If you do have Scathe Motes, use these too (you already
got one from the Piscodemon Hunt). Spread out your team to avoid
Zodiark's area spells. You really have to finish him quickly though
(and you can). If you don't, you may end up in a death spiral for the
next 30 minutes, where you'll barely have time to revive and heal (let
alone attack) before he hits you with the next Darkja (which he will
now spam). Seriously, hit him with all you got. But the best thing to
do is to just complete the job quickly with the Dark Matter+Quickening
Chain combo. If you do that, the battle will be over within 5 minutes.

After the battle, you can take a shortcut by exiting the battle arena
to the west (which was locked from the outside), which will render
your return journey faster and uneventful. You do not want to get a
game over after all that without saving, do you?

Congratulations on obtaining the ultimate Esper in the game! Don't get
your hopes up though, Zordiark isn't unfortunately of much use at this
point, just like Ultima. Apart from Final Eclipse, his big final
attack, his applications are quite limited. He deals in Dark-elemental
attacks and by now most of the ordinary difficult mobs are Holy-weak,
so Ultima is better in dungeons and some of the late game bosses.

His repertoire of moves contains Banish Ray (single target, fast,
heavy Dark-elemental damage), Flare (against enemies that absorb Dark)
and Scathe, the ultimate non-elemental spell, against multiple
enemies, so your arsenal of non-elemental spells is now complete. His
final attack though is the main attraction here. His Final Eclipse
deals fixed damaged at 50000! It charges instantly and the condition
is to have Break on the summoner. So you can trigger it at will (have
the summoner pop a Gold Needle with the Nihopalaoa on and just summon
him to perform Final Eclipse without wasting time). He absorbs Dark
and is weak to Holy, while taking normal damage from all other
elements, so he is actually a lot more fragile than Ultima.

Zodiark is the last of the four Espers with the most devastating final
attacks (along with Exodus, Zeromus and Shemazai). He is also one of
the ones worth considering whether to assign to another character
instead of your main summoner, since this way you can have one party
member dealing a deathblow of 50K through Final Eclipse (preferably
somebody who can spare the 3 Myst charges, like one of your party
leaders) and still have your summoner available to summon both
Shemazai and Zeromus. That way you can have in any battle 150K+ damage
available just from the final attacks of your Espers.


========================= 
56. Ridorana Cataract
=========================

After an impressive cutscene you find yourself at the footsteps of the
Pharos (there is a save crystal here). Continue east. The next area
has two exits, one north and one south. The south one brings you in
the Ridorana colosseum, which will be the theatre of battle for your
final confrontation against Yiazmat. You can find also a map of the
area in one of the chambers in the colosseum (not that you need
one). There is also a chest here that can give you a Cloud Staff if
you don't have it already.

The mantis enemies are now a little over 10000, so you cannot 1-shot
them anymore, even with Fomalhaut+Dark Shot, use Blizzaga against
them. The Malboros are easier.

RARE GAME ALERT: Pallicant

This looks a little like Helvinek, only considerably less
threatening. It spawns in the City of Other Days area, after you kill
all enemies, exit and re-enter. She is very easy to get the
Gastrophetes from (ultimate Crossbow in the game, 76 ATK), it is a
guaranteed steal (like Ithuno and Deathbringer). It takes some time to
steal, like with all rare games, but spawning her is very easy and
quick and you can easily get as many Gastrophetes as you like. She is
weak to Wind if you want to kill her.

In the Path of Hidden Blessing you will find another save crystal
(beware of the traps near it). Save there and head east for the first
boss of this area.

------------------------------- 
Boss: Hydro HP: 203800 - LV: 47
-------------------------------

Like Tyrant, he is susceptible to Confuse. He is also undead, so the
same strategy of feeding him Smelling Salts with the Nihopalaoa while
the mages reflect spells works here too, you just reflect Curaja (he
is also susceptible to Oil, so Firaga will also do). Do not use your
Dark Shot, he absorbs it. In general he can be annoying if you give
him the chance, as he will cast Darkga (no problem if you have that
Demon Shield), Bio, as well all several status spells (Immobilize)
and... Curse! He also uses instant death attacks that can KO your
tank. So it's better to just feed him these Smelling Salts.

Does the Masamune trick work here? Yes, though it's a little
riskier. In general you can get him within 10 seconds, provided he
doesn't kill the tank and choose your Masamune wielder as target
(unlikely), or cast Curse (if you have a Ribbon, put it on the guy
with the Masamune, then put the Genji Gloves back on). All other
spells are reflectable, so put a Mirror Mail on just in case.

This boss was designed with Ultima in mind. If you got her, this is
one of the few occasions where she can be truly useful. She can plow
through Hydro's entire 200K+ HP (very high, especially for a storyline
boss) within one summoning, since her Redemption spells have zero
CT. And although she is potentially in danger (weak to Dark), she can
reflect all of Hydro's spells, leaving just his physical attacks that
she can survive easily with her high HP (you don't need Bubble on
her). It is advisable to keep feeding him these Smelling Salts
though. Not to protect the Esper, but to avoid any queueing from
Hydro's spells and speed things up.


After the fight, proceed to the Pharos, where you are allowed to enter
after the cutscene.


========================= 
57. Pharos of Ridorana
=========================


There is a teleport crystal in the first chamber (the only one for
this entire dungeon). In the centre you can see a large cylindrical
elevator, but it is initially deactivated. There also and inert Way
Stone. To activate it, we have to go through a short sidequest while
at the base of the Pharos. We have to activate three altars, located
perimetrically to the elevator. In order to do that, you need 3 Black
Orbs, one for each altar. These can be collected by killing enemies in
the chambers around the central area. Occasionally, one of them will
drop a Black Orb (you must pick it up immediately, otherwise it will
soon fly away). The first of the altars is accessible from the initial
area, once you enter the Pharos (just go a little to the right of the
elevator). To reach the other two, you need to navigate through the
surrounding chambers. Also make sure to pick up the map for the lower
portion of the Pharos, at the end of the large rectangular chamber in
the south.

Your Excalibur will do max damage against the chimeras if you got
it. Ultima is also good against them, as she will one-shot most of
them. Otherwise Firaga and Wyrmfire shot against the Mistmares. In the
northestern corner (the one closest to the north) of this area there
is a chest spawning occasionally that can give you a White Mask
(otherwise you get a Hi-Potion or gil). This is the earliest you can
get the White Mask and if you get two of them, you are all set to face
Hell Wyrm right now (you can do it with Sage's Rings two, but for the
two of the three in your group it's more convenient to have a White
Mask), otherwise it's better to wait after the Pharos to buy the White
Masks (advisable).

Once you have activated the altars, the door to the locked chamber in
the east is unsealed. Save your game, then head there (the fastest way
is going from the north entrance). After you enter the door, you will
be teleported into a weird-looking desert location. Proceed upwards,
always staying on your right to meet the next boss.

------------------------------------- 
Boss: Pandemonium HP: 116678 - LV: 45
-------------------------------------
 
Despite his low HP, this isn't a quick battle because Pandemonium will
raise a paling against all attacks (physical and magical) when he goes
a little below 50% HP and you just have to wait for about a minute for
it to be dissipated. Remove your dps character and keep your party
leader and your mage in the field. You will be blocking most of his
attacks anyway with your Shield+Main Gauce. You cannot do anything
about Reddas, just let him keep hitting in vain.

Niho+Remedy will cause Silence, Oil, Confuse and Slow. Oil may give
you ideas, but he is immune to Fire (fooled yah!). In fact he is
immune to all elements, except Earth (absorbs) and Wind (weak). So
your Fomalhaut+Windslicer Shot is once again the best weapon here (as
it is for the next two bosses of the Pharos, all of which can be
targeted by your elemental ammo). Using Aeroga (straight up or
reflected) is also a good approach, make sure you Dispel first because
sometimes he has Shell on.

Pandemonium's elemental immunities also render almost worthless your
two shining new Espers, Ultima and Zodiark! Their gambits cannot
distinguish enemies immune to their elemental attacks. So they will
keep hitting with their regular elemental attacks to no avail. Unless
you summon Zodiark in the beginning of the battle for Final Eclipse
only, he won't be of much use. It will only make the fight last longer
if you factor in all the time it takes to summon and then go through
the Final Eclipse animation.

Pandemonium will cap all damage at 6999 from 50% HP down. He will also
cap Dark Matter damage to 42000 and Final Eclipse at 35000 :(. You can
try to keep feeding him Smelling Salt with the Nihopalaoa (especially
if you are planning to reflect Aeroga, also kill Reddas in this case),
but it won't prevent him from using his paling. The funny thing is,
you can feed him a Smelling Salt while he casts his Invincibility
paling and get him confused, after which he will be targeting himself,
but because he is immune to physical attacks now (including his own),
he is stuck in a loop for a while until Confuse wears off by
itself. You can thus pass some time unmolested while the paling is
up. Not that you have anything particular to be afraid of, you can
easily heal through his attacks. Or just put on your Ensanguined
Shield and the Main Gauche and you will block all his attacks for the
entire duration (Reddas though is in trouble).

There is a way to get him down before he uses his paling, by using
your Masamune. But it is generally luck-based. I've seen it happen
once or twice, if I get lucky with my combos, but generally you will
shave off most of his HP within the first seconds, without killing
him.

After the fight, return to the teleport crystal to save your game. You
can now use the Way Stone to get to the next floor of the Pharos. As
from now on it is essentially a very large dungeon with no more
teleport crystals, your only way to get out in case you need it is to
backtrack to the base of the Pharos (you don't want to do that). So I
suggest you use the teleport crystal now to go do any shopping for
items/gear before going any farther.

Use the Way Stone to teleport to the next floor. Exit from any of the
two doors. On the south of this area there is a Fool's Facade
(essentially a hidden door). Hit it to open it and you may find a
chest here containing an Elixir (it doesn't always spawn). Then return
to the stairs where two Brainpan enemies are. They are easy to kill by
casting Death (careful, some have Reflect on) with the Indigo Pendant
(or Niho+Phoenix Down). After killing them, a bridge materialises
allowing to cross to the east. This is a recurring theme in this area
and the next, where you have to locate the Brainpans and kill them to
make the bridges appear. Some of them you have to get a little out of
your way to find them, like the ones in the chambers and corners near
the southeast. You get a characteristic “pingâ€￾ sound whenever you kill
one of them, meaning that a new part of the bridge has been
added. Continue this way until you go all the way east, then north,
then west to enter the next floor, 29E.

Here you will again find Brainpans, as well as a similar looking (but
different) enemy, the Deidars. The drill here is to kill the Brainpans
but NOT the Deidars. If you kill Deidars, parts of the bridges will be
removed. You will find some Aeronites at a couple of locations, use
Thundara+Storm Staff against them. Continue the same way until you
complete the circuit of this floor too and exit through the stairs
into the next (48E).

You will find a save crustal here and no enemies. Save, then you might
want to backtrack a little. You see, now that the bridges are set, you
can go back to kill the Deidars, which will materialise a different
set of bridges, giving you access to some bonus chests (you might have
noticed them on your way). The most interesting of them is on the
northeast corner of the second floor and contains the Dueling Mask,
the best Light Helmet in the game (+800 HP). You might want to pick
this one up. There is another chest next to it containing the Zeus
Mace (you already got one from the Diabolos Hunt). The chests won't
always show up, but the items are guaranteed once they do. The Dueling
Mask in particular is one of only two in the entire game.

After you save, take the exit in the southeast. This will bring you to
the next floor, where you encounter Slyt in the big rectangular
chamber on your map.

----------------------------- 
Boss: Slyt HP: 92661 - LV: 47
-----------------------------

You find yourself on a patch of land surrounded by water, which should
give a hint for his elemental affinities: He is weak to Fire. If Slyt
is over water, he caps all damage to 6999 (and also caps Esper final
attacks).

This is actually an extremely easy fight, to the point where you will
miss a lot of things going on if you just hit the panic button and
attack attack attack. The first thing you will probably miss (since
you have the trigger-happy Reddas onboard), is that Slyt will hardly
attack you unless provoked! When the fight begins, he casts Enrage,
then starts wondering over water, essentially doing nothing. He won't
even engage you if you hit him from a distance with spells or ranged
weapons! You have to provoke him a lot, in the sense of either
following him into the water or standing very close to him for Slyt to
aggro. Occasionally he may come close to where you are, attack for a
while (3-4 times, with possible combos), then leave again. Especially
if you stop attacking him when he is near, he will quickly move away
and leave you alone. You can deplete his entire HP by just snipping
with a Flame Bow and Fiery Arrows solo and not having him attacking
you more than once through the entire fight!

Slyt is pathetic, since he is susceptible to Confuse and Oil and weak
to Fire. Niho+Remedy and start cooking with Firaga, while feeding
Smelling Salts, otherwise Wyrmfire Shot and Fiery Arrows will have him
down in no time. You can also inflict Disease, so he won't go into
pissy-boss mode.

Espers are also pretty good for this fight. Your summoner won't be
attacked if he doesn't get near Slyt. You can park the Esper next to
you in the middle of your little island and have the Esper cast his
spells from there, mostly undisturbed. If the Esper moves too far and
provokes Slyt, just hit Flee and he will usually stop his attack. Even
though your damage is capped, all of the Espers worth mentioning
(Shemazai, Exodus, Zeromus) can kill him within one summoning. You may
actually want to provoke Slyt intentionally before you unleash your
final attack, for then it will hit for maximum damage.

Once again, both Ultima and Zodiark are remarkably unhelpful. Like
Pandemonium, Slyt is immune to Dark and Holy, so they cannot hurt him
with their ordinary attacks. You have to kite him on the island
yourself in order for Final Eclipse to hit for 50K and even that isn't
enough by itself to kill him.

And now for the surprise reveal: The best Esper for this encounter is:
Belias! That's right, the poor fellow, which you probably haven't
summoned in a while, not even to Syphon his MP, is actually a champ
here. With Oil on Slyt and Faith and Haste on Belias, he will be
hitting for 6999 while Slyt is in his wandering mode and 9999 once he
engages. Better use Bubble on him and if you see Slyt target the
Esper, use Reverse/Decoy on the summoner, since his physical attacks
will do more than 1000 on your Esper with his low Defence
rating. Belias can easily finish him long before he uses Hellfire. Who
would have thought?

Did I even mention a sword called the Masamune?

Of course all this is mostly academic. For a late-game boss, Slyt is a
complete pushover. Hit him with the Fomalhaut+Wyrmfire shot or the
Flame Bow+Fiery Arrows and he is toast.

After the so-called boss-battle backtrack to the save crystal and save
your game, then head all the way east to find the Way Stone. There may
be a Water-elemental Entite there, put your Viking Suits on and use
Firaga against it. This marks the end of the first part of the Pharos,
called the First Ascent. There is also a Second and Third Ascent (I
told you this dungeon was long, didn't I?). Touching the Way Stone
will teleport you to the Second Ascent.

In the first area there is also a save crystal, so you can use it
too. You will notice four altars located perimetrically to the central
elevator area. In order to proceed you have to use one of them to
unlock the door positioned opposite the altar. Depending on which you
choose, you will be prevented to use your Weapons, Magic, Items or
minimap for the rest of the Second Ascent. Unless you are in for a
challenge, I suggest you pick the southeast altar that will seal your
minimap (no problem there, you still have your ordinary map). Enter
the door and take the stairs to the next floor (61E).

From the chamber you find yourself in, you want to head south, then
turn west, then north to reach the stairs that lead to the next floor
(62E).

You are in a chamber in the southwest. Exit into the central circular
area and head to the entrance in the northeast. Enter here and move
through the long corridor in the north to reach an urn with a map of
the Second Ascent. Backtrack one room and open the door to the
south. Exit into the central are and now make your way to the
southeast entrance. From here you can access the stairs to the next
floor by going first south, then turning east, then north (consult
your map).

On the next floor exit into the central area and take the entrance to
the southeast. Go all the way north and pass the long corridor there
to reach a door to the south. Open it and take the stairs in the
southwest corner. You reach 64E. There is a save crystal here. Save,
then take the stairs on the southwest corner. Just like Slyt, you will
find the next boss in the big rectangular chamber.

-------------------------------- 
Boss: Fenrir HP: 189992 - LV: 49
--------------------------------

Just when you thought endgame bosses couldn't get lamer than Slyt,
here comes this guy, who is susceptible to Sleep! Seriously?

Fenrir is the anti-Pandemonium, so he is weak to Earth and absorbs
Wind, while being immune to all other elemental. He is susceptible to
Oil (irrelevant) and Sleep. So first things first, kill Reddas, then
enter the battle and use Niho+Remedy to get him to sleep. Now summon
your favourite non-elemental Espers and have fun. Zeromus can
annihilate him without even using Big Bang. Even Zalera is very good
for this fight, as his Shock will hit for 9999 once you put Faith on
him and will have depleted more than 60% of Fenrir's HP during his
summon time (that's about 120K coming from a level-1 Esper!). Then
bring in Shemazai, she will finish him easily with her attacks+fully
charged Soul Purge.

Once more, Ultima and Zodiark are a complete letdown!

Now if only we had access to an Earth-elemental Esper for this
battle... but hold on to that thought, we'll get back to it later...

If you like to hit things hard, give Balthier the Fomalhaut+Mud Shot
and Fran the Sagittarius+Artemis Arrows (with heavy armour and
Cat-Eared Hood) and have your tank use the Ensanguined Shield and the
Main Gauche. Fenrir is like a miniature Humbaba Mistant, so he is big
on physical attacks, which you can completely block with the above
configuration. Use an X-Potion on your tank if you need it (to counter
Sap/Poison for the shield), but your ranged dps should have him down
before you even need one.

The Masamune trick also works, but it is riskier since Fenrir will
also use Wail, which is an AoE attack (can also cause Silence). Your
party leader will block Wail, not so your Masamune wielder. Fenrir
always opens the battle with Wail, so Dispel him with your mage and
tank and once he finishes the move and targets the party leader, bring
in the Masamune dps. Even if he does use Wail again, you will already
have depleted most of his HP.


After the battle continue east and find the altar that corresponds to
the one you chose when entering Second Ascent. Touching it will unlock
your sealed ability. You might again encounter the Water-elemental
Entite. After that the elevator becomes functional and you can ride it
(entrance from the west side) to the next level (67E), where the next
save crystal is. This completes the Second Ascent. Touch the Way Stone
to reach Third Ascent.

In the Third Ascent, dispose of the bomb enemies and climb the
stairs. You will find there three Way Stones (sigils) of different
colours. Choose the Black Sigil. If you choose the green you will be
teleported back where you started. If you choose the red, you will be
teleported in an area south of where you are, where you will be
ambushed by undead enemies. It isn't anything you cannot survive if
you are prepared, but better avoid it.

After you teleport, kill again the bomb enemies (and the Aevis in the
chamber next to them). Outside the chamber there are fool's facades in
two locations, allowing entrance to a corridor behind it. There are a
couple of chests here spawning occasionally, that can give you the
Dragon Whisker and the Rubber Suit (immunity to Thunder damage). Then
touch the green sigil there.

Any two of the paths available will lead you to the same place. Break
the fool's facades and exit into the area where the Aeronite is. Touch
the red sigil here. In the new area there are two Aeronites and a
chest containing a Circlet (best Mystic Helmet in the game. Put it on
your mage immediately). Touch the purple sigil on your left (sigil of
sacrifice).

Climb the stairs and turn north. There is another fool's facade in the
deadend. Use the Way Stone you find to teleport near the elevator.

RARE GAME ALERT: Tower

He will appear randomly in the area of the elevator. It's just an
oversized Babil enemy and will hit with spells and Graviga. Weak to
Dark, so Darkga will make quick work of him. Actually, Tower is your
friend, as he has as a rare drop the Grand Helmet, the best Heavy
Helmet in the game and you can only obtain it from him.

There is a second Way Stone here. Use it, then open the door on the
south, pickup the map from the urn and exit through the second door
right where you started.

Now the game pulls a dick move: There is no save crystal before the
next boss (Hashmal). Normally you are expected to just return using
the final Way Stone back to the elevator section and ride it on the
90th floor to fight him. Although you have to try real hard to lose
this battle, it would be better to save, since if something goes wrong
(I mean a power outage) you will lose all your progress and have to
repeat Third Ascent all over again, plus you may lose the items you
picked up from the chests (like the Rubber Suit). Also, if you want to
experiment a little with this fight instead of just blazing through,
it's better to have a proper save a little before the boss.

If you inspect the Way Stone that brought you to Third Ascent, the
inscription hints that it will return you to the base of the Pharos
and that you have to come back here on foot. This isn't as bad as it
sounds. I suggest you just take the Way Stone and return to the base,
then save at the teleport crystal there. Now set your battle speed to
minimum and just run all the way through the first two floors of First
Ascent (with the Brainpans and Deidars). Once you are past this
section, you can now use the elevator to reach the top of first
Ascent. Take the Way Stone to Second Ascent. Here you can just ride
the elevator (it works now) and skip the entire Second Ascent, so you
reach the top and the save crystal right before the Way Stone to Third
Ascent. Save here (this is the closest to Hashmal). Then use the Way
Stone to return to Third Ascent. You can now reach the Way Stone that
leads to the elevator by opening the two consecutive doors on the
southwest corner. Prepare your team before using the elevator, as the
battle will start right after you ride it.
 

--------------------------------- 
Boss: Hashmal HP: 209060 - LV: 50
---------------------------------

The Earth-elemental Esper, Hashmal is perhaps the easiest of the
storyline Espers. He won't hit with big non-elemental spells, he won't
use status ailments, he has no minions. He is essentially a
single-targeting opponent. And his big AoE elemental attack, Quakeja,
is an non-issue as you can counter it by either equipping Dragon
Shields or just casting Float on the entire party (which will take
care even of poor Reddas). So Float is your best spell here. Float
will also nullify damage from Hashmal's Roxxor attack, which is
Earth-elemental.

The only actual damage you can receive is from Hashmal's physical
attacks, which can also inflict Disease, so put Bubble Belts on and
you're golden. Other than that, you don't even have to tank him, since
he ignores evasion. You can have Basch attacking at melee range with
the Zodiac Spear or other non-elemental weapon, while your mage and
Balthier hack away with Windslicer Shot and Aeroga (Hasmal is weak to
Wind, obviously). He dies really fast. Provided you just casted Float
before battle, this is a done deal.

In fact, there is no point in healing gambits either. Just put Phoenix
Down gambits on everyone and a gambit to cast Float and you can go get
yourself a cup of coffee while your team finishes him unattended.

Needless to say, the Masamune works like a charm here: Your Masamune
wielder will not be targeted by anything for the duration of the
encounter.

Espers are not so effective in this battle, neither as fast as your
own team. Chaos will deal damage slower than you can and also receive
heavy damage from Quakeja. Zeromus is the only one who can almost
finish him within one summoning, but even he fails, because Hashmal
will hit him hard enough (and will combo) that you must set a gambit
to heal him whenever he is below about 30-40% (also put Regen
on). Since you cannot set his HP low enough, he will do reduced
damage, unless you use Reverse/Decoy on the summoner. Elemental Espers
are not good here since Hashmal is immune to all Elements except Wind
(weak) and Earth (Absorbs). This includes the consistently useless
mega-Espers Ultima and Zodiark (duh). Zodiark will do 50K through
Final Eclipse and that's it. In the same time it will take to cast it,
your team will have killed Hashmal three times over.


Finally you get a way to cast Earth-elemental spells through Hashmal,
even so late in the game! Hashmal will employ the same Roxxor attack
he used during your battle to deal magic-based, Earth damage. His
final attack, Gaia's Wrath, is one of the trickiest to trigger, as you
must get the summoner to 10% HP! Anyway, there is little incentive to
do such thing, just like Ultima, damage from Gaia's Wrath is capped at
9999. Unfortunately, there aren't many uses for Hashmal at this
stage. None of the Hunts and optional bosses remaining are weak to
Earth. There is a single occasion where he is useful and that is
during the ShadowSeer Hunt. We will have a rematch with Fenrir there,
who if you recall was susceptible to Sleep and weak to Earth.

After defeating Hashmal and obtaining you 12th Esper, move forward
until a cutscene occurs. Then save at the save crystal available
(finally). At the end of this path you will find a Way Stone. Touch it
to enter the final encounter of the Pharos, where you fight 3
consecutive bosses: Gabranth, Cid and the Esper Famfrit. I will
discuss some general characteristics of all bosses collectively and
give some outlines for the encounters as being one fight instead of
several (which it is):

First Phase:

--------------------------------------- 
Boss: Judge Gabranth HP: 64049 - LV: 47
---------------------------------------

Gabranth has very little HP and takes normal damage from all
elements. You can also inflict him with Oil, which will make Firaga
and Fire-elemental weapons very effective. Once you get him to 50% HP
a cutscene occurs, Gabranth will re-establish some buffs (like Haste)
and he will charge some very insignificant (though flashy)
attack. Once you get him to 25% HP the encounter is essentially over.


Second Phase:

----------------------------------- 
Boss: Doctor Cid HP: 92093 - LV: 50
-----------------------------------

Cid is weak to Holy and absorbs Dark like the last time you met
him. He too is susceptible to Oil. He will again use his Gun to hit
you (which cannot be evaded, just deal with the damage and heal, it
will now hit for about 600-700 per turn), as well as big AoE moves
like Gatling Gun, which again seems flashy but doesn't do much. At 50%
HP he will become immune to everything and summon the Esper Famfrit
against you.

Third Phase:

--------------------------------- 
Boss: Famfrit HP: 149060 - LV: 52
---------------------------------

Famfrit is the last of the Espers and his Element is Water, so he is
weak to Fire. Also susceptible to Oil, which means there is no chance
in hell you shouldn't be doing 9999 with your attacks in this
fight. Famfrit will cap all damage at 6999 below 50% HP. Apart from
his physical attack which should be dealing about 600 with a
Maximillian on, he will also use a Water-elemental attack, Briny
Cannonade. His big elemental move, Waterja, deals heavy Water damage
and can inflict Silence. Finally, he has Return Damage, so pay
attention to the HP level of the entire team. You have to deplete all
of Famfrit's HP to defeat him and enter the fourth phase. During this
time, Cid remains in the battlefield to buff up Famfrit and also
attack you, so you will be receiving damage from both enemies (as well
as Return Damage from Famfrit). Even when you finish Famfrit, you
cannot equip him and summon him in the last phase. He becomes
available to summon only after the entire encounter is over.

Fourth Phase:

------------------------------------------- 
Boss: Doctor Cid (again) HP: 92093 - LV: 50
-------------------------------------------

Now that Famfrit is yours, you can start attacking Cid again. He will
increase his offence (critical hits can now reach up to 2000) and
resist your attacks, to the point where even the mighty Excalibur will
have trouble dealing decent damage.


All this sounds mighty confusing, but in fact, this is by now a pretty
easy battle, especially if you setup your gambits correctly to account
for the fact that midpoint, you will be facing two opponents
concurrently and and should be able to distinguish between the two (so
you don't end up hitting the immune Cid instead of Famfrit). The Esper
himself is a non-issue, since like Hashmal, you can immunise against
Waterja (Viking Suits!), which turns him into a single-targeting
foe. The damage levels are easily survivable if you are at about the
level of your enemies (early 50s) with decent gear, without using
Bubble. If you think you are struggling, just cast Bubble or equip
Bubble belts.

If you are hell-bent on dealing max damage against every single boss,
you should do some micromanagement, like switching some gear, tossing
a Niho+Remedy here and there, switching dps characters depending on
whether you are facing a Fire-weak enemy or Holy-weak enemy etc. If
you have the Excalibur, it is obviously a good idea to use it against
Cid, while the rest of the encounter will be better served by
Fomalhaut+Wyrmfire Shot/Firaga/Flame Bow+Fiery Arrows. If on the other
hand you are too bored to do all that for a storyline encounter,
here's a quick recipe to get you through the Pharos bosses on
autopilot, without switching gear or team members:


Auto-Pharos bosses: Gear and Gambits

Gear:

Ashe/Vaan (party leader): Main Gauce, Demon Shield, Duelling Mask,
Viking Suit, Pheasant Netsuke

Balthier: Fomalhaut, Wyrmfire Shot, Crown of Laurels, Viking Suit,
Hermes Sandals

Fran/Penelo (mage): Flame Staff, Circlet, Viking Suit, Indigo Pendant.

Gambits:

Ashe/Vaan (party leader): 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down 
Self: HP<50% -> X-Potion 
Self: -> Protect 
Self: -> Regen 
Foe: Highest max HP -> Expose

Balthier: 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down 
Foe: Highest max HP -> Attack

Fran/Penelo (mage): 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
Ashe/Vaan: -> Decoy 
Foe: Highest max HP -> Dispel 
Foe: Highest max HP -> Oil 
Ally: HP<50% -> Cura 
Ally: any -> Esunaga 
Balthier: -> Bravery 
Self: -> Faith 
Self: -> Echo Herbs 
Foe: Highest max HP -> Firaga

Don't freak out that you are going through the whole battle with no
better defence on your tank than a Viking Coat. It's more than enough
and even if he falls at some point, the team is solid and will recover
easily by itself. In the long run it's better to immunise against
Famfrits elemental attacks and just deal with the slightly increased
damage from Famfrit's physical attacks. Cid will deal the same no
matter what armour you wear. Your dps may also not be optimal, but it
is more than adequate. Gabranth will fall so fast you won't even have
time to cast Oil on him.

Finally, Ultima is for once, very useful! It is advisable to summon
her during the beginning of phase 2 and almost certainly in phase 4
(Syphon one of you dps characters or use an Elixir). Ultima will be
hitting for max damage even when Cid increases his defence, to the
point that 4-5 hits from her will finish him faster than you with your
Excalibur will.

I wish I could say something about Famfrit as a summon, but I
can't. Even more than Hashmal, he is obsolete at the time you obtain
him, even though he is the only storyline level 3 Esper. He commands
the second of the elusive elements, Water. He will use Aqua Cannon as
a normal attack and Tsunami as the final attack. It triggers during
the last 10 seconds of the summoning or if his HP goes below 30% and
deals heavy Water-elemental damage, that is however capped at 9999
:(. Unless you haven't done the Belito Hunt yet, I see little use for
him. The only of the late Hunts that is weak to Water is Diabolos and
there you cannot use Espers in general.


After several cutscenes, and succesfully removing several floors from
the upper portion of the Pharos (good job everyone) you are finally
through with the longest dungeon in the game and almost with the game
itself! The only thing left to do is go meet the final boss.


========================= 
58. Balfonheim 
=========================

The last preparations before the final battles in the game is to shop
for the latest available spells, gear and Technicks. Not all of them
can be bought in Balfonheim Port and you have to do some searching to
locate them. Here is a quick list:

Blafonheim: Shock, Scourge, Flare, Slowga, Holy

Eastersand Merchant: Hastega, Golden Axe

Barnheim Passage Merchant: Ardor, Glimmering Robes, Golden Scullcaps,
Hermes Sandals

Nabudis (Baknamy Merchant): Maximillian, Magepower Shishak, Demon
Shield, Protective Ring, Scathe, Telekinisis

Westersand Merchant: Renew, Gugnir

You finally have access to all the high level non-elemental spells!
Too bad the game is almost over :(. You also finally get Holy, by far
the most useless of the high-level spells. A word on Ardor, which may
confuse you. This is actually an elemental spell. It is the highest
form of Fire-spell in the game, which means you can boost Ardour
damage with Flame Staves and using Oil. The only use of it (since
Firaga is already very strong) is possibly against enemies that are
Fire-resistant and cannot be oiled.

Restock also on healing items. There are still some Hunts left to do,
as well as some optional bosses. But I guess that, since you are so
near the end, you would prefer to just head to the final boss fights
and finish your game (it's been a long ride after all), then see
what's left to do in the form of sidequests and superbosses. So
without further a due, we reach the grand finale of Final Fantasy XII:
The Sky Fortress Bahamut

=================================== 
59. The End: Sky Fortress Bahamut
===================================

To reach Sky Fortress Bahamut, board the Strahl and you will now see
Bahamut as a destination (next to Rabanastre). Once arriving there
(end after several cutscenes), exit through any of the two door and
make your way towards the central corridor that leads to the southwest
into the next area. You will be continually assaulted by imperial
soldiers, I would advise you just flee, the game is over, you just
want to reach the final boss. In the next section head forward into
the circular area, then exit west on an elevator. Heal and prepare,
then use the Lift Controls to initiate the first boss battle.

--------------------------------- 
Boss: Gabranth HP: 70719 - LV: 49
---------------------------------
 
It's this one guy again. He will use the same moves as before and talk
a lot. He will also cast Renew (once) at some point. All your weapons
(elemental or not) are good to go. Just Dispel him and hack away.

You are given a brief respite to heal and regroup. Then use the lift
again to ascend and meet the final final boss. This is your last
chance to prepare, as the next three fights are consecutive.

------------------------------ 
Boss: Vayne HP: 76755 - LV: 50
------------------------------

We finally meet the real bad guy of this story face to face. He too is
a talker and cutscenes will occur frequently during the fight to
conceal the fact that this is actually a very short battle. Again,
dispel and attack. His highly cinematic attacks (like Cid, he has a
thing for the theatrical) will give you the impression that something
dreadful is about to happen, but the damage they deal is
unimpressive. With quality melee weapons and a berserked dps you will
be through him in a heartbeat.


--------------------------------- 
Boss: Vayne Novus 
HP: 104210 - LV: 53 (Vayne Novus) 
HP: 12121 (Sephira) 
---------------------------------

You didn't think you would get rid of him that easily did you :)? Like
any FF final boss, he has several forms and this is the second
one. Again, nothing impressive, the only complication is the presence
of the swords (Sephira) that move around very fast and will give you a
headache chasing them around if you use melee weapons. If you used a
berserked attacker for the last two encounters, don't bother
dispelling him, for even with random targeting, the Sephira fall very
quickly and you can then focus on Vayne. More cinematic moves occur
that again have very little impact. If you are about his level
(i.e. early 50s), you can go through all these battle without even
using Bubble or equipping Bubble Belts.

------------------------------------- 
Boss: The Undying HP: 228299 - LV: 55
-------------------------------------

Yeap, I think it's time to put these Bubble Belts on... This is
probably the only encounter in the entire storyline that warrants
it. You may have cruised through the previous three battles, but the
Undying certainly isn't a pushover of a final boss. He has AoE
attacks, he will blast you with tremendous damage (for your levels),
he will cast buffs like Faith and Bravery on himself that will make
his attacks even harder to withstand, he will use palings and even
become immune to all attacks for a short while. On top of all that,
this is the only boss fight in the game without the signature big red
HP bar on the top of the screen, which means you are left in the dark
about your progress and can be quite nerve-wrecking.

Of course, since this is the final battle of the game, you have
permission to throw the kitchen-sink at it and gambits like Self:
MP<20% -> Elixir or using your Turtleneck Chocker to burn through your
gil are fair game. Go bananas.

The Undying feels like fighting Bahamut in other FF games (you are
aboard Sky Fortress Bahamut after all), both stylistically (he has a
dragon-like form resembling a flying Bahamut) as well as in his
attacks, as he will use signature Bahamut moves, like Megaflare,
Gigaflare and Terraflare. He resists elemental damage (better equip
your non-elemental weapons) and is immune to everything. Though he is
flying around the battle arena, he is not considered a flying enemy,
so you can hit him with conventional melee weapons. You just have to
chase him around, as he is constantly on the move.

The beginning of the battle seems unimpressive and you will be dealing
a lot of damage, especially with a berserked dps character. But very
soon he will start becoming really threatening. Expect to be hit for
several THOUSAND damage by all of his attacks, even with
top-of-the-line gear on. Make sure you have a Dispel gambit on. It is
also time to bring out the big guns: Shellga, Protectga, Hastega and
switch to using Curaja for healing. Spare no MP and pop your
Elixirs/Megaelixirs/Hi-Ethers and use your Turtleneck Choker. Sage's
Ring is also a good accessory. Put also White Masks on, as he will hit
you with Holy that will deal 4000+ damage unless absorbed. The Undying
will also use other level 3 elemental spells, like Blizzaga and
Firaga, you can anticipate them and equip proper shields to reduce
their effect.

Before long he will use Megaflare. The cinematics aren't now just
smoke and mirrors, his big moves hurt, a lot. Make sure your team gets
topped on HP after big attacks (especially AoE attacks like Megaflare
or AoE elemental spells). Once you deplete enough of his HP, he will
raise a magic paling. I wouldn't suggest using magic against him in
general in this fight. The only spells that work are the big
non-elemental ones (Shock, Flare, Scathe) and since they will
introduce queueing, they will adversely affect your healing speed. The
only problem is that you cannot Dispel him while his magic paling is
on.

Next he will change his magic with a physical paling and use
Gigaflare, that will hurt even more than Megaflare. Dispel him. I'd
say just stay put and wait for the next round where he uses the
Invincibility paling. In the mean time, cast your protective buffs
(Shellga, Protectga, Hastega, Bubble). He will use Dispelga against
you, so he will waste turns this way.

Finally he will become immune to all attacks. By now he should be
turning red and lighting up like a Christmas tree, which means he is
at critical and you approach the end. This is the most frightening
phase, for he will now spam his long-distance physical attack. This
looks a little like Zodiarks's physical. It feels like being hit by a
gun, it is wickedly fast, has an insane range and will easily deal
3000+ per hit. He can start levelling your team by this attack
alone. But unlike a gun attack, this one can be blocked and yes, the
Ensanguined Shield works! I suggest you just weather the storm of this
phase with just one party leader with Main Gauche+Ensanguined Shield
that self-heals (you won't be receiving any other damage except form
the Sap/Poison of the shield). After a while he will charge his
hardest-hitting AoE. Brace for impact... here comes Gigaflare. Make
sure to have the one character with the Ensanguined Shield topped in
order to survive, although he can actually dodge even this attack. If
he doesn't, bring in reserves and get going, we are almost there.

After the paling is down, you can now resume your attack. He will
resist damage (if you have Dark Matter, shoot) as well as hit you with
a combination of nastiness, including his physical attack. Cast your
Curajas, use your reserves if someone dies (remember, you do not farm
for LP here, one man standing in the end is just as good as six) and
hit relentlessly.

As a side-note, usually when someone plays through the game for the
first time, he tends to just use a main party from some point on, as
well as farm EXP more aggressively to be on the safe side. As a
result, you will reach Sky Fortress Bahamut with the main team at
level 65+, a good ten levels beyond what you are supposed to have if
you go for symmetric levelling and do not use Embroidered Tippets to
farm more EXP. At these levels your HP will be higher and the fight
will generally seem easier, even pedestrian, so some of the
difficulties I describe here can be bypassed if you level up more. But
in case you went for symmetric levelling, you now play with six
members, not three :). Even if one party gets wiped, you can bring in
the second and finish the job.

Congratulations on finishing Final Fantasy XII! Pat yourself on the
back, relax and enjoy the ending and credits, then head to the next
section to read about the remaining endgame content.


========================= 
60. The Endgame 
=========================

Although you have come to the end (and probably already finished the
main storyline), like in every good FF game, there are still things
left to do. First we will tackle the remaining Hunts.

You can check the notice board to see that Pylraster is available
(the last of the ordinary marks). Also from Montblanc you can pickup
the Elite Marks Ixion and ShadowSeer. And we still have the Behemoth
King. Apart from these four, there is also the optional superboss
Hell Wyrm awaiting for us and also the final Elite Mark, the mighty
Yiazmat. Oh yeah, and I almost forgot the Omega Mark XII superboss in
the Great Crystal. These essentially constitute the very last of the
endgame. Do some shopping, especially for Behemoth King you need
appropriate armour to facilitate the fight.


============================== 
OPTIONAL: Who's the Strongest 
Pylraster (Rank VII) 
HP: 493513 - LV: 63 
==============================

When you accept the Hunt from Rikken, you are required to first race
once against him (it doesn't matter if you win or lose). This is
actually an entire minigame, where the rewards change depending on how
many times you have won the race (all the way to 100 races). Some of
them are very good, like rare loot items, Hi-Ether, Elixirs etc.

Pylraster can be found in the area outside the Pharos (where you
fought Hydro). It's better to teleport to the Pharos and exit, the
mark will be right there.

He is essentially the super-version of a Wild Saurian-type enemy. He
has the same kind of attacks (Crushing Fangs, Ram, Screwtail) and his
physical attacks can also inflict Confuse. Like other high-level
enemies that use Crushing Fangs, this attack can cause instant death,
so your tank is always in danger, even if you think he is safe
HP-wise.

Which he actually isn't. Pylraster will be the first enemy you
encounter who's ordinary attacks (in non-critical mode) hit so hard,
with hits easily dealing up to 4000! That means he can level your tank
within 3 hits, even with the Bubble Belt on and you are going to need
constant and intensive healing if you are to survive him. This calls
for a reconsideration of strategy.

The first approach is to use Reverse/Decoy and let Pylraster do the
healing. Other than instant death, you have little to worry about. You
should couple this to single-targeting healing gambits for the rest of
the party (Curaga), in case you lose Decoy, or your tank dies, in
which case Pylraster will merrily come after the other party members.

But there is a better method. This Hunt cries for the Ensanguined
Shield! Put it on your party leader along with the Main Gauche and you
will BLOCK EVERYTHING. This means that not only will you not receive
any damage from any of his attacks, you are also 100% safe against
instant death moves! Maintain Decoy (manually) on your leader and he
can go through the entire encounter without a scratch and the rest of
the team unscathed. So tanking is set, let's talk about damage
dealing.
 
Unlike Wild Saurians, you cannot put him to Sleep, he is not weak to
Wind, but Fire AND he is susceptible to Oil. So Oil and use your
Fomalhaut+Wyrmfire Shot and Flame Bow+Fiery Arrows/Flame Staff+Firaga
to deal 9999 per hit with maximum safety. You can also tryout your
brand new Ardor, just to see how it looks :). Keep your distance from
Pylraster though, as he isn't a single-target enemy. He will
occasionally use Rage, which is an AoE attack and hits very hard
(don't worry about your tank, he will block this one too).

All in all, he is very scary if you attack him conventionally and very
easy if you put your Ensanguined Shield to good use. As a reward you
get the Grand Mace (ultimate Mace in the game) and two Scathe motes.


========================== 
OPTIONAL: Fishy Dreams 
Ixion (Rank VI) 
HP: 306559 - LV: 70 
==========================

It will show up in the Pharos Subterra. This is a new area accessible
in the Pharos now that you completed the storyline part of it. It
encompasses the lower portion of the Pharos, the Penumbra, Umbra and
Abyssal (Abyssal is the deepest region). When you teleport to the
Pharos and take the (now operational) elevator near it, you will be
given the option to access the Penumbra. Initially, this is the only
part of the Subterra you can explore. You have to go through a whole
sidequest to gradually unlock the Umbra and Abyssal (it is described
in the ShadowSeer Hunt section below).

Besides the deeper portion of the Henne Mines, where you fought
Zodiark, Subterra is the hardest dungeon of the game, filled to the
brim with undead enemies in their late 60s in terms of levels that can
routinely gang up and wipe your team. Proceed with extreme caution,
especially if you are underlevelled. Your Excalibur really shines
here. Even on the perimeter of the elevator, before you even enter any
of the chambers, an unpleasant surprise awaits you. You will be
ambushed on both fronts by enemies (Lizards) that will quickly swamp
you unless you deal with them promptly. They even cluster so densely
around you that you will be blocked from running back to the elevator
to save your life! Niho+Remedy is a must if you feel overwhelmed.

Also in the Subterra (Penumbra) awaits you the optional boss
Phoenix. Watch out once you start exploring the chambers. These areas
do not appear on your map and you will occasionally reach rooms where
there are Magic Pots. These have a red HP bar, but they won't attack
you unless provoked. If you let your gambits run amok you will find
yourself running for your life, as the Magic Pot is completely
invulnerable, unless you give it an Elixir, as in previous FF
games. Meanwhile it will start chasing you around and hit you with
high level spells like Flare. I suggest you just flee the room
asap. Otherwise, feed it the Elixir. It will now take normal damage,
so you can try stealing your Elixir back, then killing it.

Despite the creepiness of the place and the difficulty of the enemies,
you want to stick around during your endgame, for apart from allowing
you to level up (and gain loot and gil), the Subterra is a goldmine in
terms of hidden treasure. Many of the chests that appear here contain
some of the rarest items in the game. You can pickup here your second
Circlet and Duelling Mask, as well as get a second Ultima Blade (!)
and a Ribbon with much better chances than the Cerobi Steppe chest
(but this is a one time deal). Other chests will give you Hi-Ethers,
Elixirs and Megaelixirs. It is also the place where you will find the
rare game Luxollid, from which you can steal the ultimate Staff in the
game, the Staff of the Magi (boosts Holy-elemental spells).

Thankfully, you can tackle Ixion right away, without any exploration
of the Subterra, or killing a single enemy here. In order to make it
appear, just keep using the elevator to the Penumbra. If you see
enemies around, Ixion isn't here. Do not engage them, just use the
elevator quickly to return to the base of the Pharos. Keep checking,
until at some point you will see there are no enemies around (normally
they will be waiting for you if they spawned already), a sure sign
that Ixion is present. I suggest you do all this with a “probeâ€￾ party
member with no gambits active and your fighting party in reserve and
fully buffed. Now stand in front of the elevator and wait a
while. Ixion will eventually start materialising in front of you. He
is a teleporting enemy like Dustia and Helvinek. In fact it looks like
Braeg.

Now let's talk about gear and team configuration. Ixion has Return
Damage, so no Masamune trick this time. If you remember anything from
FFX, expect Thunder-elemental spells like Thundaga coming your
way. But unlike what you would anticipate, it isn't weak to Ice, but
to Holy and halves damage from other elements, while absorbing
Thunder. He also ignores your Evasion for the duration of the fight,
so no point using a tank with a shield. Ixion will hit with Curse, as
well as many status spells (like Slowga) and elemental attacks
(Aeroga, Thundaga). Luckily, all of its spells are reflectable (not
Curse) and you can even inflict Silence on it, which will prevent it
from using any spells.

Obviously, Holy-elemental weapons like the Holy Lance and the
Excalibur work marvels against it. A good configuration to face him is
the following:

Gear: Vaan/Ashe (team leader): Holy Lance, Duelling Mask, Mirror Mail,
Bubble Belt 

Basch (main dps): Excalibur, Magepower Shishak, Mirror
Mail, Bubble Belt 

Fran/Penelo (mage): Any Staff (preferably Cloud Staff), Circlet, 
Glimmering Robes, Opal Ring

Gambits:

Vaan/Ashe (team leader): 
Foe: HP<50000 -> Dark Matter 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down/Arise 
Self: HP<30% -> X-Potion 
Self: -> Protect 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Attack

Basch (main dps): 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Attack

Fran/Penelo (mage): 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
Ashe/Vaan: -> Decoy 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Dispel 
Ally: HP<60% -> Cura 
Ally: any -> Esunaga
Bash: -> Berserk 
Bash: -> Bravery 
Self: -> Faith

Cast all buffs before the battle and have also Bubble casted on your
leader and switch the Bubble Belt for the Nihopalaoa. The moment Ixion
starts appearing, switch out your probe character (he won't be
targeted) and bring in only your party leader to use Niho+Remedy. This
will inflict Oil, Silence, Sap and Slow. After that switch the Bubble
Belt back on and bring in the rest of the group. Take control of the
mage and position her away from the tank and dps (she has no Reflect
on, so you don't want to be within range of Ixion's spells). Watch out
for the traps if you move too far from the elevator.

The substantial problem here is that you will probably be dealing
damage so fast, you will have issues from Return Damage! Especially
Basch with the Excalibur can burn through his entire HP very fast,
particularly if he gets some “luckyâ€￾ combo, which in this case can
potentially KO the character. That's why it's good to have at least
Bubble on him. You can also put Haste or use the Hermes Sandals
(precast Bubble in this case), but this will make him even more
unstable, to the point where Haste can be counter-productive. Likewise
for the party leader, you do not want him to over-reach with offensive
spells like Bravery/Haste or Berserk. Compounded with Ixion's physical
attacks, it will be hard keeping him alive for the duration of the
fight. It's better taking it down a notch, the fight is already quick
as it is. This configuration with two melee attackers is also more
stable, because in case your tank falls, Ixion will generally pick on
Basch, leaving your mage unmolested.

Protect is also a must here on your tank, for it will make Ixion's
physical damage much more manageable. Unattenuated, it can deal a good
3000+ per hit in some cases. Put Protect on and you are not looking at
more than 1500-2000 damage even with the inferior Mirror Mail on. Some
references claim Ixion's attacks are Thunder-elemental and can thus be
nullified by equipping Rubber Suits or the Zodiac Escutcheon. This is
NOT correct.

When its HP drops enough, Ixion will use Purify to remove any status
ailments, as well as White Wind which makes it immune to them. It may
also raise a magic paling. At critical it will typically start
resisting your attacks. This is what this Dark Matter gambit is
for. Ixion won't cap damage from it, so the Dark Matter will finish it
off. Boy that was quick!

Ixion is also the only Hunt that is very well suited for
Ultima. First, due to her high HP and her inherent Reflect and Protect
status, she can tank it really well and survive the entire summoning
session with a little assistance from you. Second, she will deal crazy
damage through her Redemption attacks very quickly, wading through
more than half of Ixion's HP, until it uses Purify and raises its
magic paling (you cannot use Ultima past that point). Engage as before
with your party leader to debuff Ixion, then bring in your summoner
and summon Ultima. Have the Opal Ring on to buff and heal Ultima
(better precast Bubble on the summoner). Pop a Hi-Ether/Elixir, Cast
Bubble on her and let her do her job while you stay away and
periodically heal her (Ixions damage will pile up, use Curaga/Curaja
whenever she goes below 50%). After Ixion uses its paling, dismiss
Ultima and bring in your ordinary team to continue. You are already
pretty close to tossing your Dark Matter.

An alternative approach is to take advantage of Ixion's susceptibility
to Oil and use Fire-elemental weapons against it. Ixion halves Fire
damage, but since Oil triples it, you get a 1.5 multiplier which
essentially renders Ixion weak to Fire, so he will receive the same
damage as from a Holy-elemental weapon. Fomalhaut+Wyrmfire Shot or
Flame Bow+Fiery Arrows will all hit for max damage with
Berserk+Bravery. You can also buy the Gugnir (84 ATK, Fire-elemental
Spear). This is more powerful than the Holy Lance if you used Oil! Of
course, after Ixion uses Purify and White Wind, it's better to switch
to non-elemental or Holy-elemental weapons. I would generally advice
against casting Holy. It will only make this fight drag and your mage
will receive damage, which isn't a good idea.

Reportedly, Ixion can appear randomly either on the perimeter of the
elevator, or any of the chambers surrounding it, so if you start
exploring before completing the Hunt, you may run into it (I haven't
tried that)! Also, it is supposed to have less HP (up to half od the
advertised 300K+) when you fight it in lower levels of the Subterra
(Umbra and Abyssal, again, never tried that either).

Ixion belongs to the group of Hunts with excellent rewards, as you get
both the Sapping Bolts and the fabulous Ragnarok, one of the best
Greatswords (can inflict Disable). Between this, Ultima Blade and the
Zodiac Spear, you have obtain three fantastic general purpose
non-elemental weapons, enough to equip an entire team when the
occasion calls for it.
 

================================= 
OPTIONAL: Truth Shrouded in Mist
Behemoth King (Rank VII) 
HP: 1668491 - LV: 70
=================================

Boy is he hard to find! The petitioner gives a hint that points
towards the Feywood. But just like Fafnir, the conditions to spawn him
are quite tricky. You need to kill all enemies in Ice Field of
Clearsight (the second area of the Feywood when entering from
Giruvegan), as well as the Giruveganos in the Edge of Reason (close to
Giruvegan's gate). After going through all this chore, Behemoth King
will spawn in the Edge of Reason, close to where that Giruveganos
was. This means you cannot have a save before facing the mark, as if
you zone back to Giruvegan and save, you will have to do the same
thing all over again :(! Provided you do not want unwanted attention
from mobs during the engagement with Behemoth King, it is also
advisable to clear at least the area around him, if not more. Once the
range is clear and Behemoth King present, the Hunt can finally begin.

With 1.6+ million HP, he rightfully belongs to the superboss category
and unlike poor Fafnir (of which he is the rich relative), he isn't a
snoozefest. Should you engage him at close combat, you are looking at
physical attacks in the several thousands, something you have to get
used to with all tentpole enemies from now on. He will use White
Breath that can cause Stop. If you are out of melee range, he will
launch like Fafnir high-level spells, all of them elemental (Darkga,
Holy, Blizzaga, Firaga, Thundaga and Ardor). Unlike Fafnir, you cannot
reflect these. Behemoth King is also immune to everything and halves
damage from all elements. His characteristic that requires your
participation the most (instead of just setting your gambits and
letting them do all the work) is his use of palings: After he loses a
percentage of his HP he will start rotating between a physical paling
and a magical one. So you have to manually change gambits for each
situation and switch your attacks from weapons to spells and
vice-versa.

The melee approach is to go for Reverse/Decoy. Equip Bubble Belts as
his physical attack can cause Disease. Thankfully he isn't going to
use any kind of instant death attack against your tank, but White
Breath can inflict Stop, which will remove the Decoy status and get
you periodically into trouble. I do not consider this a sound strategy
for this battle. It makes sense getting into melee range if you can do
more damage overall faster. But the fact that for half the time you
won't be able to hurt him physically because of his palling renders
this method problematic. Not to mention that since he has Return
Damage, you cannot use your Masamune effectively (in which case going
Reverse/Decoy would pay off, even with the paling). Also, doing high
melee damage requires the dps being under Berserk, which means that if
you want to switch to casting spells during the physical paling, you
must first Dispel him.

Instead, it is preferable to challenge him with ranged weapons and
spells, like we did with Fafnir. First, we have to immunise against
most of the spells he is going to hit us with. The best combo is:
Black Mask, Rubber Suit, Sage's Ring. Have these on all your party
members. This leaves you exposed to only Firaga, Blizaga and Ardor. It
is advisable to spread your team so area spells only affect one party
member at the time. Use two characters with ranged weapons (Fomalhaut,
Sagittarius, Gastorphetes etc.) and one mage for healing and
support. Shellga is a must in this case, as it will render almost all
attacks survivable. Have your team in a V configuration, with the two
ranged attackers front row and the healer in the back. The healer
shouldn't do much other than cast the occasional Cura and
Shellga. Also put a gambit on one character to use Haste on any party
member inflicted with Slow (Behemoth King will use Slowga regularly,
against which Shell is going to help a lot), as well as Bravery on the
two attackers. Since you have Sage's Rings on everyone, you have MP to
spare. You can Syphon your dps if you need any more.

Engage him with one party member from your reserves and have Behemoth
King chase him until he starts targeting with his spells, which means
you are out of melee range. Now bring in your team and start your
attack by Dispelling him and setting the attackers to use Expose and
Shear on him to reduce his Defence and Magic Defence. You need these
to speed things up a little. Since you cannot use berserked attackers
in this battle, you won't be hitting the damage cap. Shear and Expose
will help boost your damage, even without your favourite offensive
buff. Once each of these technicks is used 5 times successfully,
change the gambits to Attack. Always keep control of the healer and
stay in a distance. Be mindful of your positioning and do not fall
asleep on the wheel, your front row members will occasionally move
around and this may bring them within melee range. Also make sure you
keep a triangular formation for your team that will ensure no more
than one member is within range of AoE spells at a time.

Soon he will start rotating his paling. When the physical paling is
up, switch your gambits for the two attackers from Attack to casting
Shock, which will cast faster. You can also turn on for this phase a
Scathe gambit for your healer if everything is going fine. Since he
will have Faith on, he will be able to deal better damage with Scathe
than the other two. You can even try to put on the Glimmering Robe for
this segment, but be mindful of Thundaga and make sure you switch the
Rubber Suit back on just in case once the magic paling is up again.

At 50% HP he will cast Greater Barrier. Dispel his Shell and
Protect. From now on he will cap all damage to 6999. Other than that
there are no surprises. Keep rotating your gambits according to his
palings and you will have no problem. You can finish him with a Dark
Matter if you like (Behemoth King will cap Dark Matter damage at
42000), but do it manually, otherwise you risk using it when his
physical paling is up.

After completing the job, you get 250 gil and 2 Bacchus Wines as a
reward. This seems suspiciously measly for such a high-profile
assignment and indeed there is more in the petitioner's final remarks
than meets the eye. Head to Bur-Omisace and in the second area you
will notice a big rock shaped like a dragon's snout. There is now a
point on the rock that you can inspect. Have your team leader remove
his weapon and punch the rock. Inspect the item that drops and behold!
500K gil and the Rod of Faith (ultimate Rod) are yours! You are one
step closer to being a gillionaire :).


========================== 
OPTIONAL: God or Devil?  
ShadowSeer (Rank VI) 
HP: 278078 - LV: 67 
==========================

The most annoying thing about this penultimate Hunt (or ultimate,
depending on whether or not you chose to do Yiazmat first) is the
trouble you need to go through in order to access the mark. You need
to activate the three different sections of Pharos Subterra (the
Penumbra, Umbra and Abyssal sections, from shallowest to deepest
level). Initially only the Penumbra is accessible through the elevator
(after the events in the Pharos). To unlock Umbra and Abyssal, you
need to use similar mechanics as you did in the base of the Pharos,
killing enemies and collecting Black Orbs to activate certain altars
that are found on each level.

You will find these altars once you enter any of the four doors
accessible from the circular area around the elevator (northeast,
northeast, southeast and southwest). The altars are always located in
the first chamber. You can collect Black Orbs at the base level of the
Pharos, but this is a slower process (although you are facing easy
enemies and little risk). If you have some leftover from the storyline
sidequest, you can use these too. But it is faster to collect them in
the lowest level of the Subterra you have unlocked in each case. To
collect Black Orbs you have to kill enemies in the chambers
surrounding the elevator, killing them on the perimeter won't do. You
will also notice that whenever an orb is left unpicked, it starts
hovering around. You can infer the direction it is heading to. This
corresponds to a remote chamber in one of the four corners of the
floor. Black Orbs get accumulated there and form a “supe-orbâ€￾, which
is equivalent to a multiple of the orbs you have actually spawned. So
it is better to start killing enemies on the level you are at, infer
the location of the super-orb, then once you've killed enough enemies,
go find it to collect your bunch. Enemies in the Subterra are some of
the hardest in the game and not to be laughed at (see also the Ixion
Hunt section). Proceed with extreme caution and do not over-reach. You
do not want to lose half an hour of farming on an unfortunate game
over. You can also pickup on your way some great loot from chests you
will find in the chambers.

Oh, I almost forgot! In a chamber on the north of Penumbra, you will
also find the optional boss Phoenix. You must defeat this one too
before you can access ShadowSeer.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Phoenix 
HP: 134089 - LV: 59
==========================

This is a flying enemy (obviously), so you might be unprepared to
suddenly face something flying inside this dungeon where your
Excalibur was working so well. Other than the surprise factor, Phoenix
can be dangerous since he will initially ignore your Evasion (you will
be able to block his attacks when his HP gets lower). Begin with
Niho+Remedy which will inflict the all-important Blind status. This
will help you survive his attacks for the first segment of the battle,
until you can tank him properly. Keep that Main Gauche and Demon
Shield on your party leader, they will eventually be helpful. Other
than that, Fomalhaut+Water Shot (he is weak to Water) and he should be
dead pretty soon.


The number of orbs required to activate each altar is set and always
the same. You need:

Penumbra:
Northeast: 18 Northwest: 09 Southeast: 03 Southwest: 06


Umbra: 
Northeast: 15 Northwest: 09 Southeast: 15 Southwest: 18

Abyssal: 
Northeast: 15 Northwest: 21 Southeast: 27 Southwest: 12

IMPORTANT: You have to enter the EXACT number of orbs required. If you
exceed the number, you will lose all orbs you placed on the altar! So
be careful.

As you see, the requirements increase as you move deeper in the
Subterra, but you will also get more orbs if you farm in lower levels,
so the game rewards you if you stick around and do your farming in the
Subterra instead of slowly grinding away at base level. Typically if
you clear most of the chambers of one floor, you get more than enough
orbs to activate the altars for the next.

You might be wondering what is the use of activating altars in the
Abyssal, since this is the lowest level. Actually, it isn't! Once you
complete the Abyssal altars, you unlock one level below that, which
will now show up in the destination list of the elevator as “secret
locationâ€￾. This is where the ShadowSeer is. Save your game and
prepare. Once you ride the elevator the battle begins.

Not unsurprisingly, he is weak to Holy, so Holy-elemental weapons like
the Holy Lance and the Excalibur are great against him. He has Return
Damage, don't go Masamune and keep an eye on the HP of your dps
characters. This fight is broken into six different phases. In the
first phase, you can target the ShadowSeer and after you reduce his HP
below about 70%, he becomes untargetable and enters the second phase,
where he begins to summon the fallen bosses of the Pharos. During the
next four phases you will fight in turn Pandaemonium, Slyt, Fenrir and
Phoenix. Meanwhile, the ShadowSeer will remain in the arena and will
keep harassing you with physical attacks, as well as numerous annoying
status ailments, as if you hadn't enough on your plate already. Once
the four bosses are down, you enter the final phase where you can
again target ShadowSeer and finish him off. It does sound a bit
confusing, but once you get the hang of it, it isn't such a big
deal. The fight in itself isn't anything out of the ordinary or
particularly challenging at this point, after all you've been
through. You can probably just brute force it without much trouble,
but as always, a little strategising will only make things smoother
and faster, as you march towards the end of the game.

The first phase is pretty standard. He will always greet you with the
same AoE (Shining Ray, Holy-elemental attack, equip White Mask), so
start the battle with just your leader and dispel him, then after the
attack is over, bring in your main attackers and start hammering. Holy
Lance and the Excalibur will make short work of him and he will at
most have enough time to charge a second AoE that is Dark-elemental
(equip Black Masks/Demon Shields if you want, not that it will hurt
you that much) before he enters the second phase.

You are now pitted against Pandaemonium, the same turtle boss you
fought before in the Pharos. He has the same repertoire of moves and
the same annoying paling that goes away after a while. This and the
fifth phase are probably the hardest parts of the battle, for you now
have to both deal with Pandemonium, as well as ShadowSeer, who will
keep roaming the arena and target you with physical attacks and status
ailments. His status effects are usually AoE attacks, so spread your
team and keep Decoy on your tank, who should get the attention of both
bosses. He can use Curse, which hits everyone in a range with a Bad
Breath-like attack, so have Esuna/Remedies ready. The ShadowSeer will
also hit your tank with Inversion, so better give him a gambit to pop
an X-Potion when at critical HP, as your healer may not have enough
time to cast Curaga. Range attackers are best here, I suggest sticking
to just Gunner+Tank+Mage/Healer for this one, with the main firepower
coming from your gunner (Pandemonium is weak to Wind, so
Fomalhaut+WindSlicer Shot). Maintain Decoy manually on the tank and
keep your healer as far away as possible from ShadowSeer, for he can
cast Fearga (AoE) that will drain your MP (in which case, better just
pop a High-Ether/Elixir or put the Turtleshell Choker on). And when I
say far away, I mean it. You will be surprised by the range his spells
cover. It is best to tank Pandemonium/Shadowseer near the edge of the
arena, so you'll have enough space to move out of his attacks. If you
have him near the centre, it will be very hard to dodge them.

After Pandemonium falls, ShadowSeer summons Slyt. Surprisingly, the
battle takes an unexpected turn for the better. Before entering the
third phase, make sure you have re-established Decoy on your tank
before Slyt enters the battle, then have one of your team to
Niho+Alarm Clock/Cast Sleep on him (quite out of the blue, he is now
susceptible to Sleep, unlike your previous battle). That's it, he is
fast asleep, and here comes the kicker: The ShadowSeer stops attacking
you while Slyt is sleeping! He will just wander around doing
absolutely nothing, so if you are in a bad shape from the previous
phase, take your time to heal and regroup, before taking on Slyt
himself. Now here's something you couldn't take advantage of when you
first fought him: He is susceptible to Reverse+Renew like
Deathgaze. So do the same drill here, then give your gunner the
Wyrmfire Shot and shoot him dead. That's it, you ‘re in phase four.

And as if the above wasn't good enough, here comes Fenrir, who is also
susceptible to Sleep. I guess you see where this is heading to. Put
him to sleep and ShadowSeer is again inert. So phases 3 and 4 are
practically a break. Again, feel free to catch your breath and regroup
and once ready, let's deal with Fenrir. Remember Hashmal?
Surprisingly, he can be of use here, as Fenrir is weak to Earth and
you obviously cannot use your Mud Shot against him without waking him
up. So summon Hashmal and he will have him down in no time (you only
need to summon once, he will be finished before he even uses his final
attack). There goes phase four. So far so good.

Phase five is the last challenging situation, as ShadowSeer now
summons Phoenix. If Hashmal is still in the arena, dismiss him
immediately and make sure you have Decoy on your tank (it may even be
better to dismiss Hashmal before the kill, then use Mud Shot for your
finishing blow). The opening seconds can be tricky, because Phoenix
may target your summoner (and remember, even if he goes for the tank,
initially he ignores Evasion). Promptly hit him with Niho+Eye Drops to
inflict him with Blind and this should be enough to get you through
this one. Equip your Water Shot and stay away from the tank, as
ShadowSeer will now resume his attacks. Thankfully Phoenix has very
little HP, so this will be over with very fast.

The final phase finds you against the ShadowSeer for the remaining of
his HP. It is now time to switch back to a melee attacker with Holy
Lance/Excalibur. Your tank can also use a good one-handed sword, or
even ditch the shield altogether and attack with some other powerful
non-elemental weapon (Ragnarok, Zodiack Spear, Ultima Blade etc.) or a
second Holy Lance. Keep the healer far away as ShadowSeer will now
spam Fearga, as well as cast all the highest level black magic spells
in the game (Scathe, Flare, Ardour etc. Beware of Scathe and spread
your team, Shell may also be a good buff for your healer at this point
in case he gets targeted). Eventually he will start resisting your
attacks at critical HP, but this is as far as it will go, he doesn't
have any other ace up his sleeve. Just keep pummelling him or go for
Gil Toss/Dark Matter (do not summon Espers, he has the same Breakart
Pentagram attack that Diavolos and Hell Wyrm use, so Shemazai won't do
here).

You will get a couple of megaelixirs for all your troubles. Basically,
your reward was mapping the Subterra, along with all the goodies you
may have found in the chests there.


========================== 
OPTIONAL: Hell Wyrm 
HP: 8930711 - LV: 60
==========================

Hell Wyrn is essentially a prelude to your final Yiazmat battle. With
nearly 9 million HP, it is by far the greatest superboss we've face so
far. Actually, scratch that, Behemoth King had more aces up his
sleeves. Hell Wyrm is very doable, if you are around level 55+ and
have access to White Masks. This is why I generally suggest you tackle
this after the Pharos. You can do just fine even before that with the
Sage's Ring, but it will prevent you from utilising your Masamune to
the max and it will be a shame: this is the kind of battle the
Masamune was made for.

You can fight Hell Wyrm after reaching Balfonheim and completing the
Vyraal Hunt. If you got the Dragon Scale to the Wyrm Philosopher and
got the Age Worn Key (see the Vyraal Hunt section), you can enter the
Hall of the Wrath God in the Sochen Cave Palace. That is, after you
solve a little riddle. This requires you to enter the Sochen Cave
Palace FROM TCHITA UPLANDS. Make your way north through the palace,
until you enter from the east the circled junction before the chamber
where you fought Ahriman. You then have to open the Doors of the Hours
moving clockwise around the junction. When you open all doors, you
will hear the sound of a door opening in the distance, which means
Hall of the Wrath God has been unlocked. I suggest you now go north to
the Sochen Cave Palace teleport crystal to save your game. Then return
to the junction and enter Hell Wyrm's chamber (on the west).

The novelty of this fight, is that you can exit the chamber whenever
you feel like it. And I do not mean that in the sense you could leave
the battle against Adrammelech. No no, here you can leave the chamber,
go for a stroll, do whatever you like (like teleporting around and
buying new gear and items) then return to Hell Wyrn and voila! The guy
is at the same HP you left him! Because of the high HP rating of this
foe, the battle can take some time (if you are at a good level, it
will take about half an hour to 45 minutes) and the game gives you
leeway to finish it in several sessions and also re-stock on items if
you are running low (nice!). This will be a recurring theme during the
Yiazmat battle too. If you exit and re-enter the chamber, on the upper
right part of your screen you will now see the indication “Stage 2â€￾,
which means you are on your second session.

The lifebar for this boss is also different. It consists of 50 smaller
bars (each has about 180K HP) and every time one of them is depleted,
it is removed from the sum. You have to finish all of them for Hell
Wyrm to fall. You can see on which bar you currently are by counting
the remaining red dots aligned below the big red solid lifebar.

Hell Wyrm is weak to Holy AND has a Holy-elemental big attack, like
Ultima. Nominally, the Excalibur should be the best weapon against
him. But in fact this title belongs to the Masamune. You can implement
the Masamune trick against him to deplete his HP at breakneck
speeds. Hell Wyrm does not have Return Damage, so your Masamune
wielder will be fine even fighting at 1 HP. And don't worry, you will
get to use your Excalibur too :).

The best strategy here is to go for Reverse/Decoy, not because Hell
Wyrm is dangerous (he is not), but because it is easier to set gambits
compatible with the presence of the Masamune wielder, who will be
fighting at critical (so we do not want any healing gambits). Set
gambits for your mage of the form:

Ally: Any -> Chronos Tears 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
Vaan/Ashe: -> Reverse (put your party leader's name here) 
Vaan/Ashe: -> Decoy (put your party leader's name here) 
Self: -> Bubble 
Self: -> Curaga 
Ally: Any -> Gold Needle 
Basch: -> Bleed 
Basch: -> Bravery 
Basch: -> Haste 
Basch: -> Syphon

This will allow him to act as an MP bridge, continually funnelling MP
from Basch (who is using the Masamune and acts as an MP battery) into
the form of Reverse spells on the tank. Because of all the damage
Basch will be doing, you are guaranteed as much MP as you want. The
Masamune wielder (Basch) should be kept under critical HP, in fact as
critical as it can get. You can cast Bleep to reduce Basch's HP to 1,
but this takes some time. The best method is to use a combination of
Charge and Infuse. The following gambits actually allow you to
automate that process to a large extent:

Self: HP critical -> Bacchus's Wine 
Self: MP<20% -> Infuse 
Self: -> Charge

Put these on Basch below gambits to use Arise and Chronos Tears. These
will allow him to quickly bring back himself to critical whenever he
is revived. Although the best method to deal max damage, is doing it
manually: After revival, take control of Basch and use Charge until
his MP gets to zero. Then have him move to take back 1 MP and
Infuse. There, he is at 10 HP. He will now be able to hit for 10-12
combo hits with his Masamune!

The tank is essentially the second dps here, as he gets the Excalibur!
You cannot use Shields against Hell Wyrm because he ignores your
Evasion, so set your tank to attack. A good set of gambits is:

Ally: Any -> Chronos Tears 
Ally: Any -> Arise/Phoenix Down 
Self: -> Bubble
Self: -> Protect 
Self: -> Regen 
Ally: Any -> Gold Needle 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Expose/Attack

Use Expose five times to reduce Hell Wyrm's Defence rating. This will
allow the Masamune to hit for 9999 with all buffs on. The Excalibur
deals max damage from the get go. Also, you can inflict Hell Wyrm with
Oil and use Fire-elemental weapons against him (he halves elemental
damage except from Holy (weak) and Dark (absorbs), but using Oil
essentially renders him Fire-weak).

Gear to use for this encounter:

Tank: Excalibur, Duelling Mask/Crown of Laurels, Maximillian, Power
Armlet

Mage: Cloud Staff, Circlet, Glimmering Robes/Lordly Robes, Indigo
Pendant

Masamune wielder: Masamune, Magepower Shishak, Genji
Armour/Maximillian, Genji Gloves

Do not use any Espers, for he will retaliate with the Breakart
Pentagram attack to kill them instantly, like Diabolos.

If you don't want to use Reverse/Decoy, you must rely on a
self-healing tank with a gambit to cast Curaga/Curaja on himself
whenever needed. The mage can then be relegated to buffing and
maintaining Decoy, as well as attacking, since MP consumption will now
be low. Something really helpful in this case is setting on the tank a
gambit of the sort Self: HP critical -> X-Potion, which will be very
good during the last stage of the fight, when Hell Wyrm will use
Invert.

The physical attacks (Rake) have a 5% chance of instant death, which
means your tank is never in the green. Expect to have some mishaps
during the fight, but they are easy to recover from. Remember to
re-establish Decoy manually. Hell Wyrm will use every five bars of his
HP his big Judgment attack, which is Holy-elemental (so you absorb it
with your White Masks) and can inflict Stop, that's why you have the
Power Armlet and these Chronos Tears gambits. Bellow 50% HP he will
cap all damage to 6999 and cap Dark Matter damage too.

His attack pattern will change depending on his HP. Initially he will
use a combination of Rake and Stone Breath (can inflict
Petrify). Below 30% he will start using only Rake, until you get him
below 20%, where he will spam only Stone Breath. Finally in the last
phase of the battle (below 10% HP) he will use Invert, then hit with
some high level elemental spell. He can even cast Darkga, which you
can absorb. This can be a deadly combo, as he will usually cast his
spell before you have time to use your curative spells after Invert,
but if you set that gambit for the X-Potions, you should be able to
survive this, especially if you cast manually Curaga with your mage at
the same time. This is a more solid strategy for the last 10% of Hell
Wyrm's HP compared to Reverse/Decoy, as if Reverse falls while he
casts his spells, it will KO your tank.

Overall, this fight isn't particularly challenging and I would even
consider it one of the most fun in the game. It lasts enough to be
engaging, without overstaying its welcome (unlike Yiazmat). It is also
a great testing ground for gear, team configurations and gambits that
will give you valuable experience for your forthcoming ultimate battle
against the mighty Yiazmat.

========================== 
OPTIONAL: Omega Mark XII 
HP: 1037069 - LV: 99 
==========================

Like Ultima, the real challenge is getting to the damn thing! He is
also hidden inside the Great Crystal (upper level) and requires the
same kind of Gate Stone manipulations you used to access Ultima. If
you obtained her already, you have some of the job done, but you still
have to go back all the way to the save crystal right before Ultima
(groan!) and start using Gate Stones near it to open other gates that
will unlock the Way Stones leading to Omega. Again, this is too
complicated a task to explain without the use of a map and I will
refrain from discussing it. There are several good maps online to
consult on this matter.

Omega can only be fought if you have accepted the Yiazmat Hunt. If you
go there before that, you will find on the platform where Omega is a
huge mimic-like chest (yes, Omega is a mimic in this game :)) that
will remain inert. Once you accept the Yiazmat Hunt, it will be fully
deployed once you enter his area. The battle won't start immediately
once you zone in, you have to get closer to the platform to reach
it. Which means there is a safety zone on the magic bridge leading to
the platform where Omega won't target you. Like Adrammelech, you can
zone out and run for your life whenever you feel like it.

This superboss has less HP than several Hunts we did already (like
Fafnir and Behemoth King) and is far below Hell Wyrm. It is though the
only boss in the game at level 99. Omega is literally a one-trick
pony. He will hit you with only one, single targeting attack, like a
laser-cannon, that will deal around 6000 without mitigation with your
best gear on. It will essentially two-hit kill any character, even
with Bubble on. If you are very high level and have a lot of HP on
some characters like Basch, you may survive three hits. Omega has no
AoE attacks, no final mega-attack. It is you against his
laser-cannon. Normally you cannot get a wipe if you just keep reviving
people. But the fact you will barely have time to hit before you are
KOd again won't leave much room for progress.

If you use the Reverse/Decoy method, Omega is pretty
straightforward. This is the kind of situation where the Indigo
Pendant really makes a difference, since one slip with your
Reverse/Decoy spells will send you into a death spiral, at least for a
while until you re-establish control. Done correctly, this is a
completely uneventful encounter. The best approach is having two
mages, one in charge of casting Decoy (party leader) and the other in
charge of Reverse. You can switch roles between the two during the
battle to normalise MP consumption, since Reverse is MP-hungry, or
just pop a couple of Hi-Ethers/Elixirs. Both should have the Indigo
Pendant on. Keep Bubble and Haste on the mages to be extra safe (it
will be better to cast these manually when you have the chance). The
main tank/dps will probably be Basch with the Zodiac Spear. Omega will
use Elemental Shift to change elemental affinities and immunities like
Shemazai and Zodiark, so use non-elemental weapons (and non-elemental
ammo, if using ranged weapons). Put on a good Light Helmet (Duelling
Mask, Crown of Laurels) to boost his HP and a Bubble Belt. Omega has
Reflect Damage, but given the HP you get back from his own attacks via
Reverse, your risk is low.

The only possible complication is that Omega's attacks have a chance
of inflicting Berserk. This is beneficial if it hits your tank, but
may spell disaster if you momentarily lose Decoy and it hits one of
your support mages. Make sure you reapply Decoy MANUALLY before it
wears off and you should be fine. Since you are hitting with just one
character, it will take some time but Omega's HP is too low to make
this encounter drag.

The other thing you should be mindful of is that Omega's attacks have
insane range. He will start hitting you before you are on the
platform, so you have to pre-apply Decoy and Reverse while on the
magic bridge, before approaching. It is a good idea to have a
secondary tank with Reverse/Decoy on in reserve, in case the first
falls before you are on the platform.

There is another method used to kill Omega in the low level challenge
that is quite funny. I've tested it myself and it works very well, but
is a little tricky and takes a looong time to finish the battle. It
relies on Omega's inability to notice Vanished characters! That's
right, Vanish, that spell you never use, actually has big utility
against Omega!

The idea is to use a Vanished character as a runner who can exit the
platform and return on the magic bridge (within safety distance)
without being detected. Also, you need a character with Reverse and
Stop on him (actually, you need several of them in reserve). Stop will
make Reverse last for about a minute (until Stop wears off). Now you
use the vanished character to approach the platform. This one has no
active gambits, so he won't target Omega and Omega will not bother
him. Once you are standing under Omega, you bring in the Reverse/Stop
character. Omega will start pummelling (unsuccessfully). Meanwhile the
vanished character hits the road, returns on the bridge and there you
bring in the third accomplice: The guy that can summon Zodiark. Remove
the vanished character, use Niho+Gold Needle, then have another
character brought in to cast Reverse on the summoner. Now switch out
all characters except the one with Stop, then bring in the
summoner. He will show up on the platform next to the Reverse/Stop
guy. Summon Zodiark, who will execute Final Eclipse before the boss
has time to respond and you shave 50K off its HP. After Final Eclipse,
the Zodiark character will re-emerge next to the Reverse/Stop
character and Omega will probably kill him. If so, bring in the
vanished character to backtrack on the magic bridge, revive the fallen
summoner and you are good to go. Rinse and repeat and after about 30
Final Eclipses Omega will be no more (Omega will cap damage at low HP,
so 20 isn't enough, as it will also cap Final Eclipse damage).

This actually works better during a low level challenge, because there
getting back 3 Myst Charges to re-summon is easy to perform with only
one Ethers, as all characters have very little MP. If you want to
execute this with a high level team, you will need a lot more Ether
(the Pheasant Netsuke will also help), or even better Hi-Ether/Elixir
to recharge.

You are not over! Omega actually leaves a drop, the Omega Badge. DO
NOT FORGET TO PICK THIS UP! It is one of the three ingredients for the
Wyrmhero Blade and the only one that is missable if you don't get the
loot on your way out!

=============================== 
OPTIONAL: Farewell to a Legend 
Yiazmat (Rank VIII) 
HP: 50112254 - LV: 73 
===============================

Ah, Yiazmat. The ultimate Elite Mark is a sort of Everest of
superbosses and not just for Final Fantasy XII. His reputation has
transcended the borders of this particular game entry and has rendered
this FFXII superboss one of the most notorious in the pantheon of
super-difficult enemies in the series and just as emblematic of the
franchise as Emerald Weapon.

Yeah, you read correctly, there is an extra zero here! With an
unprecedented 50 MILLION in terms of HP, Yiazmat sports an HP rating
that resembles more a telephone number. To put things into
perspective, the previous high water mark, Penance in FFX, boasted 12
million HP in a game where you could break the damage limit and hit
for 99999 with every attack. Granted, in FFXII the battle system isn't
turn based and moves faster because of gambits. Still, 50 million HP
in a game where you cannot hit for more than 9999 is really pushing
it. Not to mention that Yiazmat, like Hell Wyrm, will cap all damage
bellow 50% HP at 6999, turning his effective total into more than 60
million!

In order to challenge Yiazmat, all of the previous Hunts (44 in total)
must be completed, with the exception of ShadowSeer (you are not
compelled to do that before Yiazmat). Also, you must have defeated
Hell Wyrm. The final 45th Hunt will then be available by Montblanc,
who is also the petitioner (and has some past history and a score to
settle with Yiazmat). No hint is given about his location. He is
waiting for you in the Ridorana colosseum.

Yiazmat resembles a lot Hell Wyrm. It's essentially the same dragon
enemy in terms of shape and size, only this time his colour is
white. Many of the attacks he will use you already know from Hell Wyrm
too. He has the same Rake physical attack that again has a 5% chance
of instant death, as well as White Breath AND Stone Breath (can
inflict Petrify). New attacks in this fight are his infamous
DeathStrike (instant death move) and his big AoE attack, Cyclone. The
latter is Wind-elemental and can hit for devastating damage. Since you
cannot immunise against Cyclone (like you could with Hell Wyrm), this
is a cause for concern and requires some thinking about countering it.

Compared to Hell Wyrm, he has higher levels, which means all his
attacks will hit harder and you will have a hard time surviving him,
unless your team is already considerably advanced in terms of levels
(i.e. 70s and beyond). This is essentially the one boss in the game
where a high average level pays off big time and will drastically
alter your strategy towards this battle. High levels means you can
survive his attacks easier because your HP is high enough. It will
also boost your healing spells, even without all-body Mystic Armour
and increase your offence, so you can consistently hit the damage cap
when you use your best weapons even without many buffs like
Berserk. If you were pining for that level 99, now would be a good
time to start your grinding (of course, it isn't necessary. You can
easily handle Yiazmat even at level 1, it will just render the job
easier in the long run).

Again, you are allowed to exit the colosseum whenever you want, go to
the save crystal to heal or go buy more items if you are running
out. When you return, Yiazmat will be at the HP you left him. But you
shouldn't linger long in the corridors in the colosseum without
engaging him, otherwise he will gain all his HP back. If you want to
take a break, flee quickly and exit the area. The next time you enter
a Stage counter will appear on the upper right to indicate which
session you are in (all this is transfered verbatim from the Hell Wyrm
encounter). So you shouldn't fret about finishing Yiazmat in one
sitting. Unlike Hell Wyrm, this time it is advisable to pace yourself
and take it one step at a time, especially if this is your first
attempt against Yiazmat and you don't want to risk losing all your
time and progress on an unfortunate game over.

So, is Yiazmat the famed epic battle to eclipse all else? Well, if by
epic you mean epic in length, it surely is :)! There is no chance you
finish this, particularly the first time, without spending AT LEAST
2.5-3 hours, and if you down him within that time window, you have
actually done a very good job. And this will require a pretty high
level (or level 99) team to accomplish. It is doable in one go if you
have the patience. If on the other hand you are lacking in levels,
which means you have to opt for a lower dps strategy, it can easily
take 4-5 hours to complete and at least 2 sessions (perhaps even
more).

When one considers the battle in terms of actual difficulty and
challenge (disregarding its length), I'd say it is more of a
letdown. Yiazmat is essentially a battle broken into two parts: The
first 45 bars of his HP, where it is mostly the same smooth sailing
(especially for a high level team) and the last 5 bars, where all hell
breaks loose. This means you have to endure a mind-numbingly boring
and painfully long part, which mostly moves on autopilot, in order to
reach the interesting finale of the battle, which is relatively quick
but nerve-wrecking. Seriously, we could just skip to the latter
without having to wait for SOOO long in the former stage. As such,
Yiazmat is mostly a stamina-based battle. It also tests your abilities
to manage your team beyond just issuing commands (positioning is also
important here) and endure long engagements without running out of
resources like MP and items.

It goes without saying you should come prepared in terms of gear,
weapons and items. This is the big fight of the game and what you
spent all your time preparing for. The better gear you bring, the
easier (and most importantly, shorter) the fight will be.

There are two ways to engage Yiazmat. The traditional one and the one
most suited for a high-level team, is entering the colosseum area and
fighting him within melee range. The other is to lure Yiazmat close to
the stairs that lead to the corridors of the colosseum and fight him
from there with ranged weapons and casting spells. These two
approaches require different armour, gear and weapons to be efficient.

Let's now see what are our options in the offence and defence
departments.

The first issue we have to deal with in terms of defence, is
Cyclone. This move will hit for about 7000-7500 damage (!)
unattenuated. It can be mitigated by 1) equipping the Windbreaker
Light Armour, 2) using Protect, not Shell! Surprisingly, Shell has no
effect on Cyclone damage, it behaves like physical damage and will be
reduced if your party is under Protect. Unfortunately there is no gear
granting auto-Protect apart from the Shielded Armour, which prevents
you from equipping the WindBreaker. There are essentially two ways of
surviving Cyclone: you either use mitigation gear like the
Windbreaker, or equip Bubble Belts. Especially for the first 40 bars
of Yiazmat's HP, before he uses Growing Threat, these are your two
main choices if you do not want to worry about his mega-attack wiping
out your party.

Once he goes into his Growing Threat mode (last 10 bars), Cyclone
damage can reach as high as 9999 (without mitigation). The best way to
reliably survive it in this phase is to break the 9999 limit in your
total HP. This can be done by equipping high level Light Armour for
both head and body (Mirage Vest, Rubber Suit, Duelling Mask, Crown of
Laurels).

Yiazmat's physical attacks (Rake) will deal around 3500 with
Maximillian on and can be further reduced with Protect, which means at
around level 60 you can survive at best 3-4 hits with Bubble on and a
good Light Helmet. If you have a higher level party, your HP will be
sufficient to essentially tank him conventionally, by using healing
spells like Curaja on the tank. At lower levels though, it is only
feasible to go the Reverse/Decoy way. Since the fight here is so long
though, MP management is going to be a serious issue and you should
either use the Sage's Ring or keep Syphoning your dps characters
(probably both). It goes without saying that you cannot possibly tank
him wearing the Windbreaker all the time. If you are fighting in melee
range, it is better to just forget the Windbreaker and rely on Bubble
and Protect to make it through Cyclone. You can in theory keep
switching gear, as Yiazmat uses Cyclone every 15 moves and you can
anticipate it, sort of, however this is a huge chore if you are going
to be doing this for hours on end.

His Breath attacks will typically hit for around 4000. White Breath
can also inflict Stop (which is the real threat), Stone Breath
Petrify. It may be a good idea to put a Power Armlet on the tank and
have him cast Bubble instead of using the Bubble Belt.

Apart from these, Yiazmat will also use his infamous DeathStrike
attack. You will see an ominous Pentagram forming under the targeted
party member. This is the same as Zalera's Kill attack, it is instant
death with 100% success rate, UNLESS you are under Shell :). So the
same trick that worked with Zalera also works here. If you have Shell
on, or equip a Shell Shield on the targeted person, you have 50%
chance of survival. Yiazmat will normally interweave Deathstrike with
his ordinary attacks from some percentage of his HP and below if you
are fighting within melee range. If you fight with ranged weapons, he
will spam exclusively this move.

When it comes to offence, since Yiazmat is weak to Dark (and absorbs
Holy), the best weapons to use against him are: 1) Masamue 2) Yagyu
Darkblade (ultimate Ninja Sword) 3) Orochi (second best Ninja Sword)
4) Fomalhaut+Dark Shot 5) Zodiac Spear

Then come all the lower non-elemental weapons, like Tournesol, Ultima
Blade, Ragnarok etc. You can also hit him with Darkra and Darkga
spells. These can be boosted by equipping Black Robes or the Zeus
Mace. Black Robes will also boost Dark damage from the Ninja Swords,
that can be further amplified by equipping the Cat-Eared Hood. The
Masamune trick works on Yiazmat, since he has not Return Damage. In
fact, this is by far the most powerful weapon against him, provided
you can keep the Masamune wielder alive (and at critical) for almost
the entire duration between two consecutive Cyclone hits. For
non-elemental weapons with lower ATK ratings, or inferior Ninja Swords
to deal high damage, it is advisable to use Expose on
Yiazmat. Likewise, Shear will increase the efficiency of your spells.

With that out of the way, let's discuss some approaches to this
marathon of a battle. Keep in mind that cooking up Yiazmat strategies
and exploiting glitches is a favourite pass-time for a lot of people,
so the following list is far from exhaustive. I'm sure pretty soon you
will be deploying your one tactics against him.


The First 25 Bars:

A) "Low" level strategies

By low level here it is meant a party with an average level of about
60+. High level parties are expected to be in their 80s and
beyond. Depending on your tastes, you may find these unappealing as
you do not “man-upâ€￾ and face Yiazmat as equals (hint: at these levels,
you are not), but they do play on the bosses weaknesses (as most of
the playthrough did) and also require you to be a little creative with
your gear choices. If you prefer a more direct attack approach, you
should opt for some of the high level strategies.

1) The zero-preparation Yiazmat: Zeus Cannon

This is probably the easiest to execute, as it requires essentially no
grinding and is based almost entirely on gear and weapons that you
have already picked up during your game. The only thing it requires is
that you have obtained one Fomalhaut (from the Lhusu Mines
chest). Other than that, you need two Zeus Maces (one you got from the
Diabolos Hunt and one from the chest in the Pharos, First Ascend) and
one Dark Shot (from the Piscodaemon Hunt). This completes the weapons
section. You will also need the two Shell Shields (one from the
Stilshrine of Miriam and one from the Wyvern Lord Hunt, you do not
need a third). If you picked up the Duelling Mask in the Pharos, First
Ascend, it will be very useful. Also, three Windbreakers and three
Ruby Rings.

Use one person as the Fomalhaut wielder (e.g. Balthier) and two mage
characters. If your level is around 60, it is best to use Ashe and
Penelo for this fight (you need the mages to have Magic stat at least
50). If you are higher level than that, it really won't matter. Gear
should be:

Balthier: Fomalhaut, Dark Shot, Crown of Laurels, Windbreaker, Ruby
Ring

Ashe/Penelo: Zeus Mace, Shell Shield, Duelling Mask/Crown of Laurels,
Windbreaker, Ruby Ring

Gambits for this phase should be as follows:

Balthier: 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Expose/Shear/Attack

Ashe/Penelo: 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
Self: HP critical -> Darkra 
Self: -> Darkga

Begin as usual by having one of the mages Dispelling Yiazmat. Then
kite him towards the stairs of the colosseum and have your two mages
on the stairs and take control of Balthier, who should be standing
behind them, in an inverted V configuration. That way, Yiazmat will
start using DeathStrike against the mages, which will have 50% success
rate since they are under Shell. Meanwhile, Balthier is always safe
from DeathStrike, as he will never be targeted if he is standing
behind the mages. For the first round, have Balthier using Shear and
Expose, until both succeed five times. By then you should be able to
hit for 9999 with your Darkga. Your Fomalhaut will not be dealing max
damage because you don't have any buffs on Balthier but it's
fine. Cumulative damage after you are done debuffing Yiazmat and you
set Balthier's gambit back to attack should be more than one bar
between Cyclone hits.

This configuration ensures that no more than 1 person is KOd in any
given moment during this phase. With the Light Helmets and the
Windbreakers, your HP should be 4500+, which means all party members
can survive Cyclone (which will hit for about 4000-4200 with the
Windbreakers on). Obviously, if you are a little higher level,
survivability isn't that much of an issue. After Cyclone hits, all
party members will be at critical and some of them inflicted with
Sap. This is a good thing! Right after Cyclone, you will be able to
hit for 9999 with just Darkra instead of Darkga. This will replenish
your MP faster and also make for a faster cast time. Balthier will
also be able to hit for max damage too at critical, even without any
buff on him. So the first few rounds after Cyclone your team will be
dealing even more damage faster and reducing MP consumption.

From now on, Yiazmat will start wading through your party members with
DeathStrike. He will progressively kill both mages, who will be
revived at full HP and without Sap, so no point in using healing
gambits, Yiazmat is doing the job by himself. All you have to do is
position them in turn as bait for DeathStrike. Batlhier you can keep a
bit longer at critical (so you can deal more damage), then after
several DeathStrikes, bring him intentionally on the front to be
targeted by the hit. After he is revived, the entire team will be at
full HP, ready to survive the next Cyclone. The only thing you have to
do is move your party members appropriately around and make sure all
of them have been hit by DeathStrike once before the next Cyclone. You
do not have to issue any commands in this phase. All gameplay is
centred around positioning. Your MP will also be consistently high
with all the damage you are dealing.

2) Snipper elite

This is the tried and true method used to kill Yiazmat in a low level
challenge and it works just fine even if you are a higher level (in
fact, it can be used by parties of any level whatsoever). The method
uses the Fomalhaut+Dark Shot as the weapon of choice for all three
members of the team, so you do need some farming to apply it. You need
to get 2 more Fomalhauts (from the Lhusu Mines chest), which is the
easy part, and two more Dark Shots from the Cerobi Steppe chest (see
the Cerobi Steppe farming section). The latter is the bottleneck, as
it can take some time to get the Dark Shot. Once you have these, you
basically do the same as in strategy A1, but here all three party
members are just snipping Yiazmat from the stairs. In terms of
equipment, you can either use Duelling Masks/Crown of Laurels for the
head and Windbreakers for the body as before plus the Hermes Sandals,
or change the Windbreakers for Black Robes (to increase damage from
Dark Shot) and equip Bubble Belts. Both configurations will survive
Cyclone. The first deals faster hits but the second will allow you to
hit for max damage. Gambits should be:

For the two gunners standing front row: 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
(Name of the other gunner on front row): -> Shell 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Attack

For the party leader standing behind them: 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
(Name of first gunner on front row): -> Shell 
(Name of second gunner on front row): -> Shell 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Attack

That way the guys sitting front row will always have Shell on whenever
they are hit by DeathStrike and the success rate will be 50% as in the
previous method, but you lose one turn in order to apply Shell
compared to using the Shell Shields. Again, Cyclone is good for you if
you don't put the Black Robes on but the Hermes Sandals, for it will
bring your team at critical HP and allow you to hit for the damage cap
for some time. You can again rotate your party members, placing them
to bait DeathStrike and be revived at full HP before the next Cyclone.

3) Fear of the Darkga

Another variation of A1, this time dismissing the gunner altogether
and going for all-magic attack. This method again needs some farming,
for you need a third Zeus Mace. The only way to obtain it is as a rare
drop from the rare game Minibug

RARE GAME ALERT: Minibug

He can be found in the Barheim Passage, East-West Bypass (where the
benign Bomb enemies are). He has a 20% chance to spawn every time you
enter and will be found in the upper northeast corner, near the mimic
chests. Minibug is a mimic like Ithuno, but when he spawns he will be
crawling around and not be in the form of a chest. The nice thing is
that he appears on your minimap the moment you zone in, so you know
whether it's there or not immediately. If you don't see him, exit and
re-enter (single zoning) until he shows up. After you kill him, zone
twice then return. You can increase your kill-chain by killing
ordinary mimics in the Barheim Passage before farming Minibug. The
only drop you get from him is the Zeus Mace, unless you have the
monograph, in which case you will occasionally get Arcana.

Farming rare drops from rare games is a difficult and boring process
and it can take quite some time to get your Zeus Mace (I once got it
accidentally, just passing through Barheim Passage and killing Minibug
without chaining or anything, so you never know).

Once you have the three Zeus Maces, the situation is similar to A1,
with the third mage equipped with everything the other two have, but
without the Shell Shield (he will be standing back row, so he won't
need it). Initially give the party leader a ranged weapon to use Shear
on Yiazmat five times, then put the Zeus Mace on and have him too
reflecting Darkra/Darkga. If you cannot get the third Zeus Mace, a
quick alternative is to have the guy standing back row to use a Demon
Shield, Crown of Laurels, Black Robes and Bubble Belts (no need for a
weapon) and put an additional gambit on him of the sort Self: ->
Reflect. That way he will be OK if Reflect falls and gets hit by
Darkga. You will just lose some turns because of the Reflect
casts. This configuration too can survive Cyclone.

4) The watcher behind the wall

This is a fantastic method that however, is pretty tricky to execute
correctly. It begins by using a character with the Nihopalaoa on to
use Hi-Ethers on Yiazmat. Using 4-5 of them will completely drain his
MP, which means he won't be able to cast any spells like Shell, Regen
etc. for the rest of the fight. Also, that guy must lure Yiazmat close
to the walls of the colosseum, near one of the entrances. It is better
to use Reverse for this part of the operation on your bait. Once you
have him positioned properly, make your exit towards the stairs and
enter the corridor behind the wall that is next to Yiazmat. He will
hit with DeathStrike as you move away, just bring in another party
member with closed gambits and continue until you are in position.

Now that you are behind the wall, you can still target Yiazmat. Issue
an “Attackâ€￾ command with the current member. If you are far enough and
with closed gambits, he shouldn't be moving from his place behind the
wall (if he starts moving to go find Yiazmat, keep him in check). Now
bring in two mages. These should be in reserve, with closed gambits
and at critical HP. Put on their best Mystic Hats, Black Robes, Staves
and Ruby Rings. Finally put a Ruby Ring/Mirror Mail on the current
party leader who is targeting Yiazmat. Put a single gambit on the
mages of the sort Self: -> Darkra and activate their gambits.

If you did everything the right way, Yiazmat should be behind the
wall, but within range of your Darkra spells. The mages will start
spamming Darkra and Yiazmat will be hit for 60K per turn without
retaliating. You must keep issuing the “Attackâ€￾ command with your
party leader every 10-15 seconds, otherwise Yiazmat will disengage,
move away from the wall and gain back all his HP. So from now on all
you have to do is keep hitting attack once in a while and the process
is automated. The mages will never run out of MP and you will be
dealing very good damage fast (since Darkra casts fast and Yiazmat
isn't stalling by using his own attacks).

The best news is Yiazmat will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for the entirety
of the battle. He won't cast any spells (since you drained his MP), he
won't even use DeathStrike. But most importantly, he will never go
into pissy-boss mode. He won't cap damage at 6999 below 50% HP and
won't use Growing Threat during the last 10 bars! You can keep hitting
him for 9999 all the way to the end (this isn't just hearsay, I have
actually tested it from 50 million to 0 HP: He won't do a thing). This
seems a little like a glitch, as if Yiazmat cannot register that he is
being attacked because he cannot see you. It isn't related to his MP
being drained, for if you use the Hi-Ethers on him during different
methods, like snipping from the stairs, he will use Growing Threat and
cap damage.


B) High level strategies

1) Traditional tank and spank

With a high level team, there is no point overthinking it: Ordinary
tanking is the way to go and especially for the first 40 bars,
probably one of the fastest approaches. It is better here to ditch the
healer altogether (Yiazmat will KO your tank through instant death
moves more often than Hell Wyrm) and opt for a double tank
configuration. Each of the tank characters should have: Duelling Mask,
Maximillian/Grand Armour, Power Armlet and the best weapons you got
after the Masamune (preferably, two Yagyu Darkblades, but you can also
just use Zodiac Spear+Tournesol or Ultima Blade). A good gambit setup
for the two tank characters is:

Ally: Any -> Arise 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down 
Self: -> Bubble 
Self: -> Protect 
Self: -> Decoy 
Self: -> HP<60% -> Curaja 
Ally: Any -> Chronos Tears 
Ally: Any -> Smelling Salts 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Attack

With Protect on, Yiazmat's physical attacks will hit for about 1500
and his breath attacks for near 2500, so the damage you receive is
very manageable, given you will be now exceeding 12K total HP at level
99 with Bubble on. You do need Curaja instead of Curaga, since none of
the characters is wearing Mystic Armour. The Chronos Tears gambit is
there only in case the third character (dps) is hit with Stop.

The attacker is also pretty standard configuration: Magepower Shishak,
Brave Suit, Genji Gloves and the Masamune. The Brave Suit will ensure
he will hit for 9999 from the get go, without needing any additional
buffs. Alternatively you could use the Yagyu Darkblade and Black
Robes, but the Masamune is simply the best here. Gambits are:

Ally: Any -> Arise 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down 
Ally: Any -> Chronos Tears 
Ally: Any -> Smelling Salts 
Self: HP critical -> Bacchus's Wine
Self: MP<20% -> Infuse 
Self: Charge

The above setup will ensure that whenever the Masamune wielder is
revived, he will take appropriate steps to return to critical HP, then
get Berserk of by himself. It isn't the best in terms of dos, for one
Charge will typically give enough MP to get the character to about
1000 JP after infuse, which is high if you are going for the highest
combos with your Masamune. If you want to hit for max damage, you need
a little micromanagement. In that case, close the final gambit for
Charge. Then, whenever your dps is revived, take manual control of
him, use Charge yourself and after that make sure he keeps moving, so
you get back 1 MP until he uses Infuse. If you use Infuse at 0 MP, he
will just die. This will ensure you get your dps at 10 HP, where combo
hits of 10 to 12 are commonplace.

Other than that, keep the two tanks close to Yiazmat's head. Better
have one of them on the side of his snout, so you don't get both of
them hit by breath attacks. The dps character should be placed far
away, close to Yiazmat's tail. This will ensure he is safe from breath
attacks, as well as keep him out of range of your Curaja spells. Try
to anticipate Cyclone if you can and switch him in and out
accordingly, but this is probably a tall order. You will still get
occasionally frustrating situations, when one of your tanks falls from
instant death, the second doesn't have Decoy so your dps dies, but
other than stalling you, they are manageable and you will soon
recover. At max levels, this team will be shaving off more than 3 bars
of his life between Cyclones, getting through the first 25 bars in
about one hour, with very limited supervision.


2) The "1-Hour Yiazmat" strategy

This is supposed to give you the ability (done successfully) to fell
Yiazmat within one hour. It requires all six party members at level
99, two Masamunes (you can get the second from the Bazaar) or a
Masamune and the Yagyu Darkblade and a couple of Brave Suits for two
dps characters (Basch and Balthier). You also need the Rod of Faith
and the Staff of the Magi/Cloud Staves for four mage characters (all
the rest) that are going to be tanking Yiazmat!

All four of these tanking characters would have a Staff/Rod on,
Circlet/Golden Scullcaps, Lordly Robes/Glimmering Robes and the Power
Armlet. They all need gambits to cast Reverse/Decoy as well as Bubble
and Haste on themselves, Arise/Phoenix Down and Chronos Tears/Smelling
Salts. A top priority gambit to use a Hi-Ether if MP is less than 50%
is also present.

The two dps characters will have gambits similar to those in B1,
ensuring they always fight Berserked, at critical HP. Since you only
get one pair of Genji Gloves, put the Hermes Sandals on the second
attacker.

The idea is to bait Yiazmat with one of these four characters and have
him chase him around the perimeter of the colosseum, while the two dps
characters trail behind, dealing huge damage on him. Since you have
two main dps, if you can keep Yiazmat away from them you are dealing
damage at about twice the speed of a conventional approach like B1, at
least in theory.

I have to be honest, I have never been able to successfully reproduce
this strategy. I find it just too unstable. Yiazmat will routinely
flatten my tank, then I will bring in the next and he will one-hit
this one immediately, then I bring in the third and after a couple of
hits oups! This one is dead two! Now you are down to your last tank
and it's up to him to try to turn this around. Even if you manage to
recover, you spend almost the entire interval between two Cyclone hits
just trying to revive your tanks and put your buffs on (and dealing no
damage whatsoever, since you have removed your dps from the
battlefield). This kind of mishap tends to occur, a lot. In order for
the strategy to be efficient, you have to anticipate Cyclone and put
the dps in reserve before it hits. You must also manually cast Decoy
on your tanks after every third Reverse to ensure Yiazmat won't target
the dps. If some of the tanks falls and you scramble to get the team
back in shape, good luck keeping track of all that.

Apart from requiring farming for top level gear and weapons (like the
Brave Suite and Yagyu Darkblade), this method also has a very grindy
part, as you have to farm for Hi-Ether. The fastest method is to
initiate the Trophy Rare Game sidequest and steal them from the Bull
Chocobo trophy rare game, that spawns near the Ogir-Yensa teleport
crystal. Hi-Ether is a guaranteed steal from it, but because you need
several dozens of them (the more the better), it is a very long and
boring process. And of course one has to factor in the time it gets to
get everyone to level 99 (you will be seeing the Abysteels in the
Henne Mines a lot).

Anyway, if you got through all the trouble in your perfect game to
obtain every weapon/item in the game and got everyone to level 99, you
should definitely give it a shot.


From 25 Bars to 10 Bars:

Once below 50% HP, Yiazmat, like Hell Wyrm, will cap all damage to
6999 (as if this wasn't taking long enough as it was :(). This may
impact your strategy, especially if you are using mainly spells to
attack him, as you will now be dealing less damage per Darkra/Darkga
cast and that will affect the amount of MP you get back through your
Warmage augment. If you cast Darkga for 6999, with three hits through
Reflect you get even (i.e. you lose no MP, but you are not gaining any
either). If one of the three members is KOd due to DeathStrike, you
get two hits and this will reduce your MP. You will be getting MP back
when you cast Darkra at critical after Cyclone, but the amount you get
back depends on how long you can sustain characters at critical before
they get hit by DeathStrike. You also waste MP on your Arise
spells. So expect MP imbalances to occur from now on (where some of
the characters deplete their resources faster than others), which you
can rectify by periodically using Syphon to redistribute MP. Strategy
A1 is the most solid, as Balthier will always have MP to spare even in
this phase, so you can Syphon from him. If necessary, you can fall
back from A3 to A1 for this segment.

Strategies A2 and A4 are mostly unaffected by the transition. A2 isn't
MP-hungry, while in A4 you simply have no transition, you will keep
hitting for 9999. Likewise B1 and B2 are unaffected. You will still
have plenty of MP from your attacks in B1 to fuel your spells on the
tanks (and you can always Syphon the Masamune guy). B2 is agnostic, as
you use Hi-Ethers to get MP.


From 10 Bars to 5 Bars:

After the longest snoozefest, things finally start becoming
interesting, particularly if you are fighting within melee
range. Yiazmat will now start glowing red and use Growing Threat,
which increases his attack power. This means both his physical and
breath attacks, as well as his Cyclone, will hit for more
damage. Equipping Windbreakers and using Protect brings total damage
down to about 5000, while Protect only will result in numbers around
7500.

If you are using A1, A2 or A3, you should now switch your gear into
Rubber Suit+Bubble Belt for everyone. Your goal is to have all members
breaking the 9999 HP limit, which means you survive Cyclone no matter
what. If you have enough levels to break 9999 with Mirror Mail+Bubble
Belt+Duelling Mask/Crown of laurels, you can keep reflecting spells as
in A1 and A3, otherwise either get your mages to cast their spells
directly on Yiazmat, or stop casting altogether and leave the
Fomalhaut deal all the damage. Gambits for A1 should be:

Party leader (Fomalhaut): 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
Self: -> Haste 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Attack

Mages: 
Self: MP<20% -> Ether 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
Foe: Self HP critical -> Darkra 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Darkga

You can also try to Syphon every once in a while from the gunner. A2
stays the same, modulo the change of gear. A4 is again, unaffected (no
Growing Threat).

B1 is where things get the most interesting. You will now be facing a
harder hitting enemy, which means you should ramp up your healing. It
is a good idea to put a Bubble belt on one of the tanks now, as
Yiazmat will also start doing longer combos. B2 sees little change,
but increased hit rate (due to combos) will also mean you are more
exposed to instant death from now on.

One quick note: Yiazmat will at some point within his last 10 bars
cast Reflectga on your team (once), if you haven't drained his MP. If
you happen to have some Renew gambit for your healing and this finds
you unprepared, you are risking restoring him to full HP!


The Last 5 Bars:

If you are fighting from a distance, you will notice no difference and
it's the same drill as before all the way to victory. If on the other
hand you fight within melee range, this is where the shit really hits
the fan. This is the most nail-biting part of the battle. It won't
last long, but it will test you. Yiazmat is now in full pissy-boss
mode. He will stop using all other attacks (no DeathStrike and White
Breath/Stone Breath from now on) and use solely his physical attack
and Cyclone. His combos will now easily reach 7+ hits and will simply
flatten your team, no matter how much healing you do. It is better to
change the gambits for all attackers to:

Self: -> Reverse 
Ally: Any -> Arise 
Ally: Any -> Phoenix Down 
Self: MP<20% -> Hi-Ether 
Foe: Nearest visible -> Attack


and put Bubble Belts on everyone. Forget about dealing damage fast,
your goal here is to simply outlive him. Bring in reserves to take
advantage of their spare MP. Normally you won't need more than 15
Hi-Ethers to finish the last 5 bars. Toss a Dark Matter too to speed
things up.

Congratulations, the big bad dragon is dead! You can now head back to
Montblanc to get your reward: 30000 gil (30000 to kill Yiazmat? What a
sleazy cheap guy!) and the GodSlayer Badge. The latter is one of the
three items used to unlock in the Bazaar the Wyrmhero Blade.




========================= 
61. Loose Ends 
=========================
 

A) Ultimate weapons

Apart from the handful of ultimate weapons I discussed during the
playthrough, either as weapons to obtain and use or as rewards from
Hunts, there are several more such ultimate weapons we haven't touched
upon, since there are so many weapon categories in this game. I won't
be thorough in this section as to the ways you can obtain each of them
(some are very rare items and excruciatingly difficult to get your
hands on), but I will comment on their endgame availability (or lack
thereof), difficulty in obtaining them and endgame utility in general.

Golden Axe (Best Axe): I don't even know whether this should be
categorised as a different ultimate weapon. If you count Axes/Hammers
as one category, then the Scorpion Tail is the ultimate
weapon. Anyway, this is easy to get endgame, it is available to buy
from the Estersand merchand. It is a pretty good Axe (110 ATK), but
the Scorpion Tail is slightly better and generally, late-game, you can
get better melee weapons than Axes/Hammers. Plus, you get the Scorpion
Tail way earlier.

Whale Whisker (Best Pole): This can only be obtained through the
bazaar and involves farming for monograph drops (Corpse Fly) from
enemies in the Pharos Subterra, so it requires some grinding to
obtain. It isn't too hard to get, but the results aren't that
spectacular either (it has 108 ATK), unless you are planning to hit
the Hecteyes until their eyes pop out. Again, endgame, there are
better weapons than that.

Durandal (Best One-Handed Sword): Durandal unfortunately requires
farming for a Halcyon (Leshach Halcyon), which is a rare steal from an
Entite. As a rule of thumb, if you see a bazaar recipe requiring a
Halcyon, better forget about it and find something better to do (the
one exception is Ultima Blade. That particular Halcyon isn't so hard
for some reason). With 99 ATK and no elemental affinities or statuses,
I personally think it isn't an improvement over Deathbringer (which
again, you get much earlier and easier and has a chance to instantly
KO the enemy).

Staff of the Magi (Best Staff): Boy do you get this late in the game!
You need to first complete the ShadowSeer Hunt (!), which means you
are through with almost all Hunts already and then gain access to a
chamber where the rare game Vagrant Soul appears. After you defeat
Vagrant Soul, a new rare monster, Luxollid, spawns in the Subterra
(Pendumbra), from which you can finally steal the Staff of the
Magi. Bottom line, spawning Luxollid is hard, fighting him and
enduring him while you unsuccessfully try to steal the staff is hard
(Luxollid is essentially an Entite, on steroids) and you get a staff
that blows: It has marginally more Magic stat than the Cloud Staff
(which you can buy now) and it boosts the most worthless of all
spells, Holy, something you can already do with either White Robes or
the Holy Rod. Given how overpowered all the rest of the elemental
Staves are already, there is no point in getting it.

Yagyu Darkblade (Best Ninja Sword): You might have gotten the
impression I have only derision for the ultimate weapons I cover here,
but for Yagyu Darkblade you'll hear me singing another tune. This one
is perhaps the only one of the very hard to obtain ultimate weapons
where I believe the grind is worth it. It is a rare drop from the rare
game Bombshell in the Lhusu Mines (see the Gilgamesh Hunt
section). Whenever you hear words like these you should normally run
away, but the reward is just too good to resist. It is also
essentially available as soon as you get the Site 11 Key, which means
after you reach Phon Coast! Bombshell is a hard enemy to kill even at
high levels and the hardest part of the expedition is that you want to
kill it while not messing with these two Aeronites that spawn in the
same area and can ruin your kill-chain. This is a complicated
manoeuvre and I would advise not to attempt it unless you are well in
your 60s in terms of levels and have endgame gear. Yagyu is the best
Ninja Sword (80 ATK) and essentially the second best weapon in the
game against Yiazmat. The fact you can boost it with Black Robes and
Cat-Eared Hood like all Ninja Swords, or couple it with your Genji
Gloves makes the deal even sweeter. Don't kid yourselves, this is a
long and painful grind, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Danjuro (Best Dagger): Along with the Tournesol, Danjuro is infamous
for the lengths one has to go to obtain it and the bane of the
completionists. Like Yagyu Darkblade, you can only get it as a rare
drop from a rare game (Larva Eater). This time, the rare game is
inside the Great Crystal (groan!) and even the conditions to spawn it
are still shrouded in mystery (references give contradictory
information). Long story short, it takes a loooong time to even get
the first Larva Eater to show his face and an even loooooooonger time
to finally make the damn thing to drop. And all that to get a damn
dagger (80 ATK, non-elemental). Seriously?

Tournesol (Best Greatsword): This is by far the most (in)famous weapon
in the game, more so than the venerable Zodiac Spear. The grind you
have to go through to get the Tournesol takes the concept of grinding
to a whole new level. Seriously, you can easily spend days just to
complete the loot farming for this sword. It can also be a good excuse
to finally level up to level 99 too. Apart from all the monograph
drops you have to collect, you have to also steal from rare games and
even from Trophy rare games (see the next section). At the end of all
that and after forking in an unprecedented 600K (!!) to buy it awaits
a Greatsword with 140 ATK, essentially the second most powerful
(nominally) weapon in the game. I admit it is a decent weapon and
looks neat, but I personally think the Excalibur is simply superior in
your endgame. In the one occasion where it could theoretically
supplant the Excalibur (Yiazmat), it is bested by the Yagyu
Darkblade. Do the grind just for the fun (?) of it, but I'd say this
is mostly a weapon you won't use in your endgame.

Zodiac Spear (Best Spear): Wait, didn't we already get it? Provided
you didn't mess with one of the forbidden chests, you should have
gotten your ultimate Spear. But even if you messed up, all isn't lost,
for there is another way to obtain as many Zodiac Spears as you want!
From a repeatable chest in the Henne Mines, in the section where
Zodiark is. Just put your Diamond Armlet on and you should get your
Zodiac Spear... after a gazzilion tries. You see, the chest appears
rarely and the fact you have only a 10% to get the Spear in case it
shows up doesn't help. The chances are about as low as for the Ribbon
chest in Cerobbi Steppe, but this time the chest isn't located close
to a save crystal, so you will have to travel for a few minutes every
time, just to see that the chest didn't spawn :(. You can of course
use RNG manipulation techniques to get Zodiac Spears for your entire
team.

Wyrmhero Blade: This can be unlocked in the bazaar by selling your
Omega Badge (from killing Omega Mark XII), the GodSlayer Badge (for
defeating Yiazmat and all other Hunts before him) and the Lu Shang
Badge. The latter can be obtained by completing a fishing sidequest,
which I haven't covered. It isn't that hard to get it, but as always,
it takes some time. You can then buy the Wyrmhero Blade (for 65535
gil). This is pretty interesting: It has 138 ATK, is Holy-elemental
(nice!), has 50 Evasion (!), grants Faith and Bravery to the wielder
(!!!) and has 80% combo rate (!!!!!!). The only drawback is, it's as
slow as using a Gun, but cast Haste and Berserk and that can be
bypassed. Seriously, this is a wicked weapon. You can easily hit the
undead (use Genji Gloves for 100% chance to combo) for like 40-50K per
turn at full HP! If that was the Tournesol, I would say it was worth
the grind. As it stands, Wyrmhero Blade has the disadvantage of
becoming available only when almost all enemies worth mentioning have
been defeated. That doesn't mean it's worthless. You can still have
fun with it as you march through Ivalice in your quest to complete
your bestiary (see sections B and C). If you didn't do ShadowSeer, you
can also use it against him.


B) Trophy Rare Games

There is a quite extensive (and interesting) sidequest you can start
once you complete the events in Archades. You can then return to the
Phon Coast and talk to the Huntmaster, in the Hunter's Camp. He will
task you with killing the first Trophy rare game, Thalassinon. It is a
turtle-like enemy spawning in the Vaddu Strand near the camp. Once you
defeat it, you will receive a Shelled Trophy (this isn't a drop, your
screen will go grey and you will be notified about the trophy, as it
happens when you receive a key item). This is a common occurrence with
all subsequent rare games of the sidequest. Once you kill them, you
will received a new trophy. Return the trophy to the Huntmaster and
the sidequest officially begins.

There are 30 Trophy rare games spread throughout Ivalice (including
Thalassinon). The earliest you can complete the sidequest is after you
reach Ridorana, as there are some Trophy rare games there too. You
cannot distinguish them from the 50 ordinary rare games until you kill
them and get the trophy. The important point here is that these Trophy
monsters are like bosses and they are a one-time only thing: Once you
kill them, they will never respawn. Like ordinary rare games, some of
them have tricky requirements to make them spawn (I won't go into
details here). They also have rare items to steal from. The latter
leads to complications, as some of the rare loot you can steal from
them is also used for the creation of the Tournesol, i.e., you are
forbidden from actually killing them (or finishing the sidequest)
before you get all the necessary loot!

Some of the Trophy rare games are very easy to complete, even if you
initiate the sidequest the soonest possible, like poor
Thalassinon. Most hover at levels around 40-45. There are however
exceptions, with some of them being formidable opponents of higher
level, in the same league with difficult Hunts and HP exceeding
100K. The prime example is Disma, one of the most dangerous enemies in
the game, period. He will show up in the Lhusu Mines close to the
place you give the second battle with Gilgamesh and hit you with level
3 elemental spells and Shining Ray, while also having Return Damage
and generally being tough as nails. If you initiated the Trophy rare
game sidequest, always be vigilant. You never know when a
superboss-class rare game will show up. These trophy monsters are also
good target practice if you just got your Wyrmhero Blade and you are
looking for something even remotely challenging to use it against.

Returning the trophies to the Hunter's Camp and specifically to the
three Bangaa brothers Atak, Blok and Stok, will net you rewards, some
of them very good if you collect enough trophies. Atak deals in
weapons, Blok armour and Stok will give you accessories and
motes. Depending on the allocation you choose, you gain access to
different items which you can purchase from them. These are one-time
purchases.

As the Trophy rare game sidequest interlocks with the loot farming for
the Tournesol, as well as with the Ba'Gamnan achievement for
completing the bestiary, you should probably refrain from undertaking
it until you know what your objectives are and what you are doing.

C) The Order of Ambrosia

You might have noticed that for quite some time now you have been
stuck with that Knight of the Round clan ranking. There is actually a
final rank in clan Centurio, the Order of Ambrosia. This is like a
ceremonial title to honour the fact that you pretty much completed
almost everything in the game. It doesn't require 100% of every
sidequest, or obtaining every item in the game, so if you are sick of
farming for rare weapons and gear, rest assured, this won't spoil your
chances to obtain the highest clan ranking. It does however demand
more things than just clan points and completion of all Hunts in the
game. You see, apart from these, you also must complete the Skypirate
Den, which includes sprites for various achievements. Many of them you
have already got if you reached so far, like Zodiark (defeat Zodiark),
Belias (obtain all Espers), Ashe (increase your average level above
50) etc. There are however some achievements that can only be unlocked
if you pursuit them diligently, not just by accident. One of them
requires you to buy the Canopic Jar, so you have to pay these 250K
gil, even if you are not going after the Tournesol. I will briefly
discuss three that I consider to be the main bottlenecks in obtaining
Order of Ambrosia:

Gabranth: To get this, you have to execute all concurrences at least
once. And yes, this includes the elusive Black Hole concurrence (same
animation as Zodiark's Darkja), which requires 4 level 1, 4 level 2
and 4 level 3 Quickenings. Unless you got really lucky at some point
in the game (I once got Black Hole when it mattered the most, against
Zodiark himself :)), you need to just target practice on this. Pick an
area conveniently close to a save crystal (like Cerobi Steppe or the
Estersand) so you can replenish your MP for the next attempt and hit
mobs with your concurrences. It is best to start with a level 3
Quickening and generally release as many level 3 as you can early on,
so that if you get new Myst Charges, you can use these to perform the
remaining level 2 and 1 to get Black Hole.

Ba'Gamnan: This one is really hard to obtain, because it requires you
to complete the bestiary! You have to kill every enemy in Ivalice
(including Espers, Hunts and optional bosses like Omega and Hell
Wyrm), except the final bosses in the Sky Fortress Bahamut, at least
once. This includes the 50 ordinary rare monsters, as well as the 30
Trophy rare games, so you cannot obtain Mighelo if you are still
farming for rare loot for your Tournesol :(. You will also have to go
back to the Great Crystal (agh!) to kill rare monsters there, like
Evil Spirit in case you didn't already and the Crystal Knight (Trophy
rare game). And yes, you have to kill at least one Larva Eater. Which
means that you have to go through the annoying process of spawning
him, even if you do not care about the Danjuro. If you kill him just
once and he drops the Danjuro, you should probably go play the lottery
asap.

Dalan: It's not so hard to obtain, but the requirements of this
achievement are so fuzzy that you will be unable to determine what you
should do. References also give contradictory and false
information. In order to unlock Dalan in the Skypirate Den, you have
to map all of Ivalice. Now this does not mean that you need to have
all the maps, bought from the cartographers or obtained from urns. It
also does not require to make all maps complete on your world map (in
the sense that you have traversed all regions). I have read these
things as potential requirements for Dalan and they are simply not
true (my Order of Ambrosia save file does not fulfil any of
them). What you DO need to do, is zone into every area that is
accessible through a zone line at least once. This does not include
places like the Great Crystal (thankfully) or the Sky Fortress
Bahamut, or places where you cannot go back, like Royal Palace and
Nalbina Dungeons, so fear not, it isn't missable. There are however
some small crevices that might elude your scrutiny. These include the
entrance to the Henne Mines from the Feywood (where you find a couple
of Abysteels), chambers in the Zertinan Caverns in case you weren't
thorough enough with your exploration and also some annoying hidden
areas that do not show on the map. For me the culprit was a small
invisible chamber north of Site 6 in the Lhusu Mines, close to where
you fight Gilgamesh. Once I zoned into this place, I immediately got
the achievement.

If you get Order of Ambrosia, kudos. The only difference is that the
Clan Provisioner now sells Dark Matter.







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