Some games teach you to have alternating save games. Save in slot 1, then save in slot 2 next time. Rinse, repeat. This next game, and their series of bosses, serve to teach you this in the most brutal manner possible:
Final Fantasy Tactics
Riovanes Castle Fights
I’m lumping a series of 4 battles into 1 post purely because once you’ve gone into Riovanes Castle and completed the first fight, you’re unable to leave unless you load from an earlier save, or complete the series of battles.
The first one is easy enough. KO a load of generic enemies, and one rather weak non-generic guy called Marach. He loses, he runs away, you go through Riovanes Castle Gate, and run into…
Alone, in a relatively small arena, where he has height advantage over you. Here’s where you learn whether your decision to level Ramza as particular classes was wise. There are ways of making this fight easy. You can have Ramza as a Squire, spam Tailwind to increase your speed until you get 2 turns for every 1 turn of Wiegraf, then wail on him one turn, and then outrange him the next.
You can be a Knight, and break his weapons and armor, or be a Thief and steal them. This reduces his attack, defense and health!
You can be a Dragoon and Leap at him. Leap makes you untargetable by Wiegraf, and then you crash down onto him for MASSIVE DAMAGE.
Each of these strategies are improved with the Chemist ability Auto Potion, which makes you quaff a potion when you get hurt, increasing your survivability without spending an action on it.
Trouble is, if you don’t know this fight is coming, you may well have levelled Ramza in a non-optimal way. Maybe you are the aforementioned classes, without the aforementioned abilities. Maybe you decided to level Ramza as your White Mage, Orator, or other low-damage, low defense class. Wiegraf could easily kill you in one or two hits! His White Knight abilities hit like a TRUCK, even on Knights wearing heavy armor. Squishier classes may well fall in one go. You have to get his health to 20% or below, so you can’t run away forever, you have to eventually stand and fight.
Perhaps you’ve not even levelled Ramza at all. Though he is present in damn near every story battle, maybe you’ve levelled other characters more in random ones. An underlevelled Ramza is a sitting duck against Wiegraf. Indeed, many people have memories of having to start the whole game again, simply because the way they levelled Ramza made the battle completely unwinnable.
Once you get Wiegraf to 20% health, it’s immediately followed by fight #3, against Velius/Belias. Immediately, as in you don’t get a chance to recover Ramza, so you go into this fight with the same buffed stats (if you went with the Squire Tailwind strategy), but also with the same health as you finished Wiegraf with. Woe betide you if you’re at a critical level and Velius or one of his minions goes first!
Yes, he notices your allies joined this fight, and he summons allies of his own.
Powerful Archaeodaemons, with attacks that can decimate you! Of note is their Gigaflare, which has no charge time, and thus comes out instantly. Most attacks have a small delay between when you select them, and when they come out (spells requiring incantations, that sorta thing), but Gigaflare has a charge time of 0!
Belias himself uses incredibly powerful attacks, and can inflict Silence, Confusion and Stone with his spells. Got some units clumped together? He’s gonna nuke them with a Summon ability (usually Cyclops), and if you hit him with melee attacks, he responds with a powerful Counterattack, capable of killing some lower defense units in one hit!
Beat him? Not out of the woods yet. You then move to the roof of Riovanes Castle for battle #4. At least you get to save before this one!
That character in the middle is named Rapha, and has just watched her brother die. She’s AI-controlled, and the level fails if she dies.
Those characters on the top are your enemies. The two girls are of the Assassin class, and are extremely fast. Not only that, but they have an attack called Stop Breath (or Stop Bracelet in the PS1 version) that instantly KO’s an enemy with a horribly high frequency. The bloke is also really speedy, and is of the Samurai class, which has really powerful AoE attacks. Your objective is to get one of the three enemies to a critical health level, whereupon the fight ends.
Trouble is, as mentioned, Rapha has just watched her brother die. She’s grief-stricken, and thus has slightly suicidal tendencies. She’ll make a beeline for Celia or Lettie, attack them with one of her ineffective attacks, who will then respond in turn by using Stop Breath, or one of their other powerful abilities. It’s kinda explained as her wanting to be reunited with her brother in death, her brother who has always been there for her, even in dire circumstances. Doesn’t make her running over to the assassins any less annoying!
This is usually before you can even act, too. This stage can be lost before you make a single action.
Before the fight, you need to optimize Ramza (or any of your team) for speed. You NEED to outspeed Celia and/or Lettie, and you NEED to KO them in one go, lest they go off and kill Rapha. Hello Ninja class, which is fast and can wield two weapons. It is possible that Celia and Lettie ignore Rapha to attack one of your characters; maybe a White Mage, or by using one of your other characters to block a direct path to Rapha. Consider this a 1 in 10 (15? 20? 100?) occurence!
Typical turn of events?
- Rapha runs towards the enemies and hits nobody with her attacks.
- You try and run over near her.
- Elmdore uses a powerful AoE attack that hits Rapha and probably Ramza.
- Celia and/or Lettie finish her off, or inflict Stop/Stone/Charm from range, and the OTHER one finishes Rapha off
Reload. Hope things go differently.
So there you have it. Riovanes Castle, one of the most frustrating series of battles in gaming! Alternating between save slots is always a good idea; being able to load up a save from before you pass the Point of No Return and buy stuff/proper abilities is just so helpful if things end up going terribly wrong.
He who can snipe you through loading screens.