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Challenge Mode Guide by The Jaquio

Updated: 03/28/03

Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II
Challenge Mode Mini Guide
by The Jaquio
email: angryman@socal.rr.com
Don't steal, I can't stop you but karma will.

Class Overview
Weapons Analysis
General Tactics
Class Tactics
  a:TP rationing
Stage Notes
TA Guidelines
Closing Notes

Hello, this guide is intended as a mini challenge mode guide which
covers tactics and discussion of challenge mode (or cmode for short)
play. For indepth map coverage, go to pso-world.com. As for my
qualifications to write a guide, it is a guide compiled of many 
hours of experience, observation, and experimentation of playing
Time Attack (or TA) cmode games on the Japanese challenge mode 
block. It is a guide compiled out of love of the experience of
pure PSO, a way of playing where you are not the only hero,
where playing as a team takes your skills and resulting times
far beyond an individual effort with no thoughts about the welfare
of the teams you participate in.

You will get the most out of this guide if you play cmode for
the very experience of cmode itself, rather than playing cmode
for an s-rank item.

There is another excellent challenge mode guide written by
HC82 for challenge mode. You can find it by going to the
dreamcast section of www.gamefaqs.com

Now on to the guide -

Class Overview:
HUmar - not the "worst" hunter choice as far as cmode play is
concerned, in fact he has a lot going for him that needs to be
appreciated. He is a male character and hence gets the excellent
male saber animation. He also has a substantial amount of ATA as 
far as hunters are concerned. The HUcast's pitiful ATA is really
apparent when a HUmar is used. Has a decent amount of ATP as well
ATP which is used to kill enemies fast and efficiently. His 
drawbacks are really his lack of immunity to poison 
and paralysis, and his lack of traps, a serious setback as 
traps really make the difference in a cmode game as far as
time is concerned.

HUnewearl - considered the "worst" hunter for challenge mode with good
reason. The versatility of a HUnewearl is not seen until the HUne 
reaches a sizable level of experience, an amount you will not see
playing cmode. Her ATA growth is very slow, on par with the HUcast.
Her ATP is the lowest of the hunters preventing her from easily
using a pallasch. Her MST advantage has little effect in the realm
of cmode. To top it off, she is vulnerable to poison and paralysis
as well as having the less favorable female saber animation. To be
avoided unless one is looking for a challenge which I wholeheartedly
recommend to anyone once they have a grasp of cmode. 

HUcast - a very popular choice for challenge mode. His popularity
has some substance behind it though. He has the highest ATP in cmode
which allows the HUcast to equip a pallasch without any help,
has the male saber animation, has a high amount of HP, immune to 
poison and parlysis, and can use traps. His glaring weakness is his
lack of ATA, which is counteracted by teamwork, an adept grasp on
defensive HU fighting, and a good hit% weapon.

HUcaseal - the other common HU found in cmode games is the 
HUcaseal. The HUcaseal is quite versatile in cmode. She has a 
decent amount of ATP, a very nice amount of ATA, immune to paralysis
and poison, and can use traps. With her incredible amount of ATA
she can use powerful handguns when necessary, weapons useful for 
a variety of reasons which I will cover later. Her only weakness
I can see is her female saber animation, a weakness which isn't
a big deal.

RAmar - not a very common cmode choice but has a few redeeming
qualities which should be mentioned. His ATA is the highest out
of the rangers, which will allow him to connect with his weapon's 
special abilities if it has one. ATP isn't a grand issue for rangers
as their role is not to deal damage in a cmode game. His vulnerability
to poison and paralysis, and his inability to use traps are his 

RAmarl - the HUnewearl of the rangers, the RAmarl is considered
the "worst" ranger for cmode play. Her only advantage over other
rangers is her MST, which is more or less useless in cmode for
non force players. All her other stats are outdone by the other 
rangers. To make things worse, she suffers what other non-androids
suffer from, a vulnerability to poison and paralysis, and an 
inability to use traps. Use the RAmarl for a challenge or to change
things up. 

RAcast - not a bad choice for cmode. He has the advantages of being
an android, but also has the ability to disarm the traps he
spots because he usually uses a gun. His ATP is higher than his
android counterpart, the RAcaseal, but his DFP and ATA are lower.
There are no real weaknesses to an android ranger in cmode.

RAcaseal - another excellent choice for cmode. She has the android
advantages, the 2nd highest ATA of the rangers, and the ability to
disarm traps with ease. No glaring weaknesses.

FOmar - not a common force you see in challenge mode, but forces
are fortunate in that they all have something to contribute in 
cmode. The FOmar's strengths are his increased shifta range,
his bonus to gifoie, and his fast barehanded casting speed.
Weaknesses are his low HP levels.

FOmarl - Pretty common force as far as non-TA forces are concerned.
The increased resta and shifta range make survival a non-issue.
She also is the most durable of the forces. However her tech-damage
is the lowest out of the forces. Normally this wouldn't matter in the 
DC challenge mode days, but with the increased tech damage of the
GC version and the FOmarls lack of innate bonuses, she is not the
greatest force to use for TA purposes.

FOnewm - A good force for TA. High MST, rafoie and gifoie bonuses,
fast barehand cast speed. Weakness is his lack of range on
support spells.

FOnewearl - A good force for either survival or TA play. The highest
MST of the forces, basic tech bonus damage which proves to make
a big difference in TA games, and increased resta range to make
survival of the team easier. Her weakness is that she is the 
most fragile of the forces, and does not have the very fast
barehanded casting rate the male forces have.

Weapons Analysis:
Saber class - The saber class of weaponry are going to be one of 
the more important weapons one will use in cmode. It does the 
largest amount of damage per hit of all the weapons. It is 
accurate, it causes a decent amount of knockback. This class
of weaponry will be used quite often with good reason, its common
powerful, and useful. The male saber animation is great. It causes
knockback and moves your character around. The third hit of the
combo usually does not leave you open to retaliation by a monster.
The female saber animation is not so great but still does the job.
It does not cover a lot of ground, and the third hit animation lags
a bit more than the male animation does. The bread and butter 
of cmode.

Dagger class - The dagger class of weaponry is good when one uses them
correctly. Used correctly, they can quickly dispatch foes. However
used incorrectly they are just going to lead to much pain and
suffering on the hunter using them. The daggers of non HUcaseals should
be used on an enemy who is targetting anyone but you. HUcaseals should
also follow the same advice but it is not as crucial as it is to
non HUcaseals.

Sword class - The sword class of weaponry is good, but only in certain
situations. Unfortunately you are forced to use a sword in the beginning
of certain cmode stages when it is more favorable to have a saber
on hand. The sword is inaccurate but powerful. Swords also have poor
weapon animations for both genders. 3 hit combos with swords should 
be used very sparingly. With a sword, attack only monsters who aren't 
targetting you, preferably ones with their back turned. Swords are good for 
De Rol Le and frozen clusters of enemies. They are also rather nice
on groups of confused enemies beating on each other.

Partisan class - Far superios to a sword at the cost of less ATP. They are
faster and more acccurate, cause a decent amount of knockback, and are
able to be used with 3 hit combos with no chance of retaliation unless
your third heavy strike misses. Useful if one HU in a 3 HU party is wielding
this to support the other HUs

Handgun class - a very nice weapon. What it lacks in attack power it makes up
for in one word, stun ability. The handgun's speed of fire allows a person
to stun enemies with light combos easily. Preferable to a rifle in most 

Rifle class - not a bad weapon, but not in the same vein as the
handgun. It does more damage, has a bit more range, but is slower
than the handgun. It should be used if it has a nice weapon special,
such as paralysis or instant death as the rifle has a high amount
of ATA. Otherwise use a handgun.

Shot class - no real use in cmode, too slow, too little damage
too inaccurate, no range.

Mechgun Class - if a HU manages to get the ATA to use it, then
its a decent weapon. RAs lack the ATP to make them effective.

Slicer Class - only to be used if no other options are available.

Cane Class - not bad, allows a decent spell casting rate. If male, 
go barehanded.

Wand Class - In my opinion the best weapon class for female forces.
Boosts MST and allows a decent female cast rate. The MST boost is 
not worth the faster cast rate for male forces, stay barehanded.

Rod Class - boosts defense. If male, go barehanded.

General Tactics:
- Before deciding to engage a target, it is a good idea if the whole
team waits to see what spawns in the room before attacking anything.
Depending on the stage you should target different enemies first.
For example, in c7 or c9, a room full of claws, chaos sorcerors,
and dimenians spawn in the room. In this situation its best if
as many as possible attempt to kill or at the very least disarm
the sorceror before attacking anything else as the rafoie
it can use hurts every character for a substantial amount of damage.
Experience will dictate what you should and shouldn't target first.

-Don't step on a switch if you don't know what it does in a TA game.
Feel free to experiment as you will in non-TA games where everyone
is trying to learn.

-If a weapon has at least 40% hit, I recommend using hard attack
combos (hard,hard,hard). The damage, stun, and knockback it
causes makes a world of difference and the hit% will ensure
you do not miss.

-Drop items for other players at the exit of the room you are
currently in.

-Pay attention to when you have to kill monsters and when
you don't. Sometimes the door to the next room is open 
without having to kill every monster in the room. Use the
start menu to avoid slowing down when next to monsters.

-Traps deserve their own analysis of when they should be used:
Fire - Great against a horde of monsters weak against fire
such as basic grunt enemies (booma, evil shark, dimenian), 
both sinows, and claws. They are excellent ways to destroy slimes
in puddle form so when in an area which has slimes, save your 
fire traps for then.

Freeze - Good all purpose trap for either large groups of enemies 
to buy some breathing room, or against two or three very 
powerful enemies to assist in a quick kill. It is a essential
trap to defeating a garanz with little trouble in c6.

Confuse - Another great trap which is more effective on
a cluster of grunt troops or sinows or delsabers. Once 
confused, let them beat each other up then move in for 
the kill. The only time I recommend to attack while an
enemy is confused is either when there are only one or 
two enemies confused, or when your only weapon is a 
sword type weapon.

-In the earlier c-mode stages its better to gang up on enemies.
In later c-mode stages when people have the ATA to reliably
hit monsters without help should people try to spread
out to clear a room faster. It never hurts to support one
another in a fight.

-If you are drawing "aggro" from a monster, in other words
if a monster is targetting you, don't be afraid to run
circles around it to either get better positioning on it 
before you attack, or preferably to get a teammate who
is aware that you are drawing aggro from that monster 
to start attacking it to draw aggro off of you. Once
aggro is off you, then you can start attacking again with
little risk to yourself.

-Go to item rooms only when necessary. Monster drops tend to
be better items. Rely on those.

-Don't be afraid to use everything you got. Traps refill at
level up. Scape dolls when used also refill traps
and tp. Remember anything unused is effectively wasted.
Make use of everything you have for a better time.
Winning with fluids and dolls remaining are signs
you could have done a little better.

Class Tactics:
Hunters - You are the primary damage dealers. Its your job
to kill everything really. Ignore all boxes, let the 
rangers and forces get the items for you. Your time is better
off used to focus on clearing a room.

-Hunters start with fluids in later challenge mode levels.
Give them to the force.

-Hunters are difficult to use at first. Unless you know
how to truly fight, you will just take a dirt nap more
than you would like to. A rule of thumb is to never attack
a monster head on, always attack a monsters back, or at 
least the monster's side at the very least. Avoid
3 hit combos, stick with 2 hit combos unless you have 
another hunter or ranger backing you up. Don't be afraid
to run, and support your fellow hunters. Remember you
are not the only hero here.

Rangers - You are a support class really. However a RA
played well amplifies the damage of the hunters and boosts
the overall performance of your team.

-Rangers don't do the damage hunters do so hold off on the
heavy attacks. A simple light attack causes the stun a 
HU needs to get his/her attacks to connect. Heavy attacks
just repulse the enemies making it harder for a HU to
attack the enemy.

-Rangers can also disarm traps. Anyone with a gun can really
but rangers typically are using one at all times making
them the most convenient to disarm traps with.

-Rangers are also great for detonating player traps quickly.
Without a handgun or tech to detonate a player trap, it
takes some time for it to explode, which in that time
the monsters move out of position or cause you damage.

-The ranger should see which grunt monsters are targetting
their HUs and focus on stunning them while the HU 
finishes them off. Remember light attacks, heavy attacks
cause knockback which can throw a HU off balance.

-With the advent of increased tech damage in the GC 
version of the game, its a good idea for the RA to
be the "item person" of the game. In other words, the
RA should go to an optional item room if you decide
it is necessary.

Forces - There role is slightly different now. With increased
tech damage they are not merely reduced to support roles.

-By all means know tech resistences of all the monsters
you face in challenge mode.

-Shifta should be used in c7-9. I haven't decided if its
worth it in c5-6. Definitely not a big deal in c2-4 except
on de rol le. Deband not necessary in high level play.

-Jellen and Zalure are a waste of time in cmode.
Zalure belras and bosses, thats about it.

-I recommend going tech crazy on powerful enemies. I will
detail them in the stage note sections.

-Don't melee too often. If you have to melee to tag for 
experience, try to attack an enemy from behind and run.

-TP Rationing
Rationing TP in cmode can be tricky, but here are some

-Pay attention to your xp to next level. If you are 
drawing close to gaining a level, by all means
go tech crazy to level yourself up.

-Try to know where the heal rings are in each stage.
Time it so by the time you reach them you have
spent all your tp.

-Make sure to get the fluids that HU's and RA's 
start with in later stages.

-Ask for dolls and die for tp.

-Know what enemies need to be defeated first. There
is no need to gain experience from every monster in
the room. Only kill what is necessary.

Stage Notes:
Forest -
Foie or confuse large groups of enemies. Save freeze for

Chase wolves, the moment you turn your back to them, 
they attack.

On the dragon's 2nd form, make sure all players stay
behind the dragon. If done correctly, the dragon
will not breathe fire, ensuring he does not burrow
again which costs a large amount of time. If done
incorrectly, go berserk on it while it is breathing
fire hoping that you kill it before it gets the chance
to burrow again.

During burrow form, getting hit deals 40 damage.

Caves -
Forces are the dragon slayers of c2-4. HUs
cannot do the damage FOs do to dragons
this early in the game. When dragons appear,
barta them 5 or more times. 

Against slimes, the third hit of a combo
splits the slime. Pay attention and make sure
a 3rd hit is not used.

Use fire traps to kill slimes in transit.

Standing close to a poison lily will provoke it
to attack rather than poison spit.

Rangers should not shoot lilies until all non-droids
are out of the way.

Rangers should not shoot dragons in flight. Let them
land and make sure the HU's can hit before shooting

Panarms will not split if they touch a wall. Do your
best to make sure you get in the way of all paths
that lead to a wall. It will do the red laser, than
do the blue blast, than split. If it touches a wall,
it will do nothing but red lasers till you kill it
with techs.

Forces should barta pal and guil sharks once. Don't 
waste TP on evil sharks unless you have a lot 

Grass Assasins are not a threat, don't bother 
targetting them unless they are the last monster
in the room.

On the c4 laser fence puzzle, travel in pairs.
In other words two people stand on one switch,
two people stand on another switch, moving from
switch to switch in pairs. Its easier to avoid 
mix-ups this way.

Against de rol le, stand in the corners to
avoid his purple ball attack. One corner is usually
safe, experience will tell you which corner that is.

To speed kill de rol le, have all hunters use
swords and stand in the corner of the raft
attacking de rol's body when it lands. The corner
allows access to the most body segments of de
rol le for the sword to do its damage. I 
believe the head and body have their own HP. 
Go for a body kill as you can do the 
most damage in the shortest amount of time there.

Mines -
Gillchics fall in one hit, regardless of the damage
behind it. Where as previous level it was better to 
team up, these enemies are better off dealt with
solo. HUcasts are usually able to kill a gillchich
in one combo, so don't interfere with them.

Forces should in most cases not waste their tp
on gillchics.

Canunes, FO's should either shoot down for a HU to
finish off or just kill. RA's should do the same.

Gang up on sinows. They spawn later than the rest
of the monsters so wait and see if there are any
before deciding to target a monster. Both
sinows are weak to foie, so you forces know what
to do - foie with extreme prejudice.

If freeze traps are unavailable, have the FO zonde
the garanz in hopes for a lucky shock effect.

If a dubchic spawns in a room, have a HU target it
first while everyone else deals with the remaining
monsters. During the time the others finish off the
other monsters, the dubchic will be dead or near dead.
It is faster than waiting to kill everything before
starting to attack the dubchic.

On the c6 puzzle, draw a pattern like so 
on a scratch piece of paper to easily
know which switch to press:

 4  2  6
 8     3
 1  7  5

On Vol Opt's first form attack the pillars only.
Have two people attack the red pillar, while the others
focus on the other pillars.

On the room before vol opt, have a person time it so
that by the time the room is cleared, they have 
pressed the switch to reach vol opt and are on their way
there. It takes too long to proceed to the switch after
the door is unlocked.

Claws are best dealt with normal normal heavy combos. A 
heavy attack will knock a claw back too far to finish
a combo with, so save your heavy attack for last.
HUs should be able to kill a claw in one combo this way.

Forces should gifoie a room of claws for a quick dispatch.

Delsaber try to get behind them and go for the kill. 
Attacks from the sides or the front will provoke a 
block. If it is in an evade animation, avoid the front, it
will attempt to shield smash you. The best idea a HU
should do is to provoke a sword swing attack and get 
behind them from there. FOs should barta like crazy.

Chaos Bringers have a weak spot I haven't tested on all
characters, but my HUcast is able to attack from there
and not be hit. I think if you attack from the bringer's
left side, he will swing but always miss you. Not verified
on all characters.

Forces should foie chaos sorcerors to help HU's defeat it.

TA Guidelines:
Some basic time attack guidelines -
Rely on drops rather than item box rooms.

Give the Force on the team all the scape dolls. Forces
can deal incredible damage now, speeding up room
advancement. The dolls will allow them to recover
all their tp when they suicide,
to allow them to assist with room sweeping.

Forces should not have to resta the team. Please
discuss with the team beforehand if resta is 
necessary. With enough skill, the default mates
each character starts with is more than enough
to clear a stage. Resta is expensive and is better
off reserved for offensive spells.

RA's should go to item rooms if they are on the team.

Know the map. Simple, obvious, necessary.

Take shortcuts when possible, even ones that involve
sacrificing your only weapon or shield.

Closing Notes:
Well, I hope this guide will help you in your
quest to get the most out of cmode. In my opinion
dont stress over time, just try to do your best 
every map.

If you want to contact me, my characters are:
Kitiara, HUnewearl
Souffle, FOnewearl
Lluvia, RAcaseal
Bacchus, HUcast

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