Clearly the game is still entertaining me. The developers have softened the need for the ye old S/L trick by having the AI unlock attacks in the harder fights as the fight goes on, instead of letting them blast you with their full unmitigated power. Mostly. The latest super difficult fight--Cagnazzo U+--would crush one of my mages for twice their health if I didn't have mitigation up yet.
On the bright side, the Ultimate+ fights only cost a single stamina, so I feel totally free to experiment and change up my strategy. This has made the game more fun for me because now I don't feel obligated to go look up the datamined AI to save myself 60 stamina (3 hours worth). On the other hand, I'm good enough with good enough Relics that even the plain Ultimate fights I don't need to look up the AI anymore.
Cagnazzo Ultimate+ is the same Elemental Fiend from FFIV. The annoying thing with that is despite FFIV's large cast, their ability usage is a little limited. No spellblades, D.Cecil has a tiny moveset, and the entire group is super magic heavy.
In hindsight, a mage party probably would've been a decent option, given Cagnazzo's propensity for countering physical attacks with Stop. Thankfully, my bullheadedness didn't do me in. It just meant Agrias spent 60% of the fight Stopped. Cagnazzo's MND is pretty high.
My FFIV synergy is pretty weak overall. Lots of 3*++ items, but only a couple natural 5* meant synergy wasn't going to help me as much as it does on other fights. Similarly, only taking a single FFIV character also probably didn't help there either. Still, my Relics and my decent armor saved the day.
|Name||Level||Ability 1||Ability 2||Record Materia||Soul Breaks|
|Squall||Lv 80||Thundaga S. (8)||Blizzaga S. (8)||Rebel's Might||Fated Circle|
|Ramza||Lv 80||Magic BD (8)||Full Break (6)||Mog's Teachings||Shout|
|Agrias||Lv 80||Thundara S. (10)||Saint's Cross (6)||Ace Striker||Cleansing Strike|
|Rydia||Lv 66||Thundaja (8)||Blizzaja (8)||Vow of Vengeance||Radiant Breath|
|Garnet||Lv 80||Ramuh (5)||Dispel (8)||Mako Might||Divine Guardian|
|RW: Sentinel's Grimoire|
Not looking at the AI meant that I totally missed out on taking Poison, which would've helped a lot. Honestly, I'd consider it over Blizzaga Strike on Squall given the sheer number of times Blizzaga Strike did 0 damage because Cagnazzo decided to activate his water wall.
I got low on Thunder-based hones by the end of the fight. Also missing out on Runic for easy-mode kinda sucks, as it would've neutered his Stop and a lot of his Water spells. Grand Cross would've been even better given his propensity for buffing, too.
You'll notice I didn't take any healing aside from Divine Guardian's Heavy Regen, which was the correct move. Made it a little bit touch and go a couple times, but as long as I kept my mitigation up, it was okay. But Garnet was around largely for her Soul Break, and providing Thunder damage and Dispel. Originally I had her healing, and Agrias used Banishing Strike for Dispel, but I needed a 4th Thunder user just in case things went south and someone was busy at an inopportune time.
So Garnet basically sat on standby, using Ramuh or Dispel immediately when needed, which was quite helpful. The rest was pretty straight forward. I realized after the fact that I was missing Shellga (Garnet's only gives +50% RES, not +100%), but thanks to Agrias' Cleansing Strike, it wasn't a huge deal after the first few rounds while it charged up. All in all, aside from his extreme defenses and rnadom mode switch rendering my Blizzard attacks useless half the time, he wasn't too shabby.
Up until a couple months ago, my Character Relics were pretty pitiful. I had a couple of Medicas, and Planet Protector. Every other character relic I had was crappy one-hit damage ones. Then we had some SSB festivals plus the Final Fantasy Tactics banner and now I'm awash in awesome relics:
|Luneth||FF III||Advance||+150% ATK, -50% DEF|
|P.Cecil||FF IV||Radiant Wings||3 Hits, Holy Physical Damage|
|Rydia||FF IV||Radiant Breath||2 Hits, AoE, Holy Magical Damage; Blur 2|
|Galuf||FF V||Unyielding Fist||Stupid Galuf Solo tricks|
|Yuffie||FF VII||Clear Tranquil||AoE, 40% Heal, Instant Cast|
|Aerith||FF VII||Planet Protector||AoE, +50% ATK|
|Squall||FF VIII||Fated Circle||3 Hits, 1 AoE Hit, Physical Damage|
|Rinoa||FF VIII||Wishing Star+||5 Hits, Magical Non-Elemental Damage|
|Quistis||FF VIII||Mighty Guard (VIII)+||AoE, Hastega, Shellga, Heavy Regen|
|Edea||FF VIII||Inaugural Parade||AoE, Hastega, +20% MAG|
|Zidane||FF IX||Scoop Art||3 Hits, Physical Damage|
|Garnet||FF IX||Divine Guardian+||AoE, Hastega, +50 RES, Heavy Regen|
|Steiner||FF IX||Sword Art Stock Break||AoE, 3 Hits, Physical Damage, Paralyze|
|Quina||FF IX||Mighty Guard (IX)||AoE, Shellga, Protectga|
|Rikku||FF X||Machina Sabotage||4 Hits, Physical Damage, -50% ATK, +50% ATK self|
|Auron||FF X||Dragon Fang||AoE, 1 Hit, Physical Damage, -30% ATK|
|Fran||FF XII||Shatterheart||AoE, 1 Hit, Ranged Physical Damage, -50% ATK/MAG|
|Penelo||FF XII||War Dance||AoE, Medica, +50% ATK|
|Lightning||FF XIII||Crushing Blow+||AoE, 5 Hits, Lightning Physical Damage|
|Vanille||FF XIII||Oerba's Boon||AoE, Medica, Protectga|
|Hope||FF XIII||Brutal Sanction||AoE, 3 Hits, Non-Elemental Magical Damage, Stop|
|Y'shtola||FF XIV||Medica II||AoE, Medica, Esuna|
|Thancred||FF XIV||Death Blossom||AoE, 1 Hit, Physical Damage, Slow|
|Agrias||FFT||Cleansing Strike||3 Hits, Physical Damage, -50% ATK/MAG|
|Ramza||FFT||Shout+||AoE, Hastega, +50% ATK|
As I mentioned, this isn't all of them. Anything that's a plain old AoE or single target with few or no effects are basically not listed. I've been doing the 100 gem pulls, which have gotten me a fair few of those. Only 8 of the above came before I pulled Quistis' Red Scorpion 2 months ago.
To be fair, I had saved up a lot of Mythril for the FFT banner and the SSB fest, so that helped. I also ended up spend $30 for an extra 11-pull on the FFT banner (which turned out to be worth it in hindsight given it got me both Ramza and Angrias' Relics). But I've gone from pauper to prince as far as options go. The game is much, much easier now that I have these relics, for better or for worse.
But it's nice because I can be more creative about what RWs I bring with me, which is more fun for me. But without these soul breaks, I'm not sure I'd be able to down fights like Cagnazzo U+ at all, let alone as relatively easily as I did. I've definitely had some good Relic pull luck, though.
More Fun To Come
The devs keep adding new content, new characters, new systems, so I'll keep on playing. Still having a lot of fun with the game, and I don't see that stopping anytime soon.