Worn out from a fairly difficult Beastmaster game, I decided to fall back on the Mystic Knight job for my next solo venture in Final Fantasy 5. The Mystic Knight is one of the game's overlooked power classes, with all sorts of inherent advantages. These characters have the ability to deal massive elemental damage to most of the bosses, and can even kill non-bosses outright with their top tier elemental attacks! They also have the possibility to inflict a handful of status ailments (Sleep, Poison, Mute, etc.) with their non-elemental attacks. But the Mystic Knight is no weakling mage that has to hide in the back row: they can equip all the strongest armors and a very powerful selection of weapons as well, plus have the ability to use shields. Basically, you get the best advantages of both the Knight and Black Mage classes together in one powerhouse form. What's not to like about that?
The one real weakness of the Mystic Knight is the need to waste a turn casting "Magic Sword" at the start of each battle; this makes their primary ability somewhat impractical in many random battles. On the other hand, Magic Sword spells are dirt cheap in terms of MP cost, and so they can be used liberally if needed without fear of running out of juice. If all of the enemies in one area share a weakness to a particular element, such as the undead in the Great Trench, the Mystic Knight can dish out a world of hurting in short order. Their other disadvantage is the lack of multi-targeting ability (since the Mystic Knight needs to physically attack his opponents to hit them), which is the only thing that reigns this class in from total dominance. The Magic Lamp can correct this in the third world, but earlier on it can be an issue.
The Mystic Knight's Magic Sword ability is called "Mahou Ken" in the original Japanese version, which literally translates to "magic blade". The GBA translation uses "Spellblade", which works fine. The awful Playstation translation calls this job the Sorcerer, which makes no sense whatsoever. I dunno what they were smoking when they came up with that! Because the characters sprites for the Mystic Knight job all have an Arabian flair and look like something out of the Thousand and One Nights, I decided to name my character Harun al-Rashid, after the famous Abbasid Caliph who ruled around 800 AD. Harun is considered to be one of the great Islamic rulers, presiding over an enlightened court at Baghdad while most of Europe was suffering through the worst of the Dark Ages. (Harun was a historical contemporary of Charlemagne; one story relates that he sent a mechanical clock to the Frankish court, where the superstitious Europeans thought it was possessed by demons!) As the semi-legendary caliph featured in the Thousand and One Nights, Harun seemed like a fine choice for this game.
I did the normal opening up to the Wind Shrine, however there was one unusual thing to relate. Harun faced off against three Mold Winds on the way up the tower, and got this battle result:
ALL THREE of the enemies dropped Elixirs! Wow. The odds of each one dropping an Elixir were 1/16, so to have all three of them hit on the drops at once came at 1/4096 odds! That's 0.024%, or 0.00024 overall. (Now why couldn't I get that lucky on a high-end Diablo 2 rune drop? Argh.) This was so incredible that I had to snap the screenshot - I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!
Anyway, this was Harun after making his permanent class change at the end of the Wind Shrine:
The numbers here demonstrate part of the reason why the Mystic Knight is such a strong job. The Mystic Knight is the only class in the game that combines strong Strength, Agility, and Vitality stats. Most of the melee jobs that focus on Strength and Vitality are quite slow movers, while the game's other speedsters (the Thief and Ninja) lack the Vitality and high HP growth of the Mystic Knight. Harun was just as fast as my Ninja Shadow, yet he could buff up with a much heavier selection of armors to protect him while sitting in the front row. Finally, this class also has average Magic Power, which generally doesn't matter because Mystic Knights don't do much in the way of spellcasting, but it does provide a fair amount of magic points to power Magic Sword. The Magic Power stat does not affect the damage from Magic Sword in any way, because it's classified as a physical attack with elemental damage, not a magic attack.
With that said, I should probably explain how the game mechanics of Magic Sword work in a little more detail. Feel free to scroll ahead past this section if that doesn't interest you. From the Algorithms Guide:
Magic Sword effects stack with other attacking commands like BuildUp, Counter, Aim, Jump, X-Fight, Capture and Sword Dance.
Magic Sword Element overrides current Attack Element. Status effect Magic swords have no Attack Element and will also overridecurrent Attack Element (e.g. Casting Mute Magic Sword with the Air Lancet will make it lose its Air Attack Element).
Status effect Magic swords (Venom, Mute, Sleep and Break) will successfully inflict their statuses as long as you successfully hit the target, even if you only do zero damage (use Aim, X-Fight, Jump or Sword Dance to guarantee a hit).
For Elemental Magic swords, if the target is not weak vs. specified element then Magic Sword has no effect on the damage you do to the target.
If the target is Weak vs. Magic Sword Element:
FIRE, ICE, BOLT, VENOM
Defense = 0
Attack = Attack * 2
FIRE2, ICE2, BOLT2
Defense = 0
Attack = Attack * 3
FIRE3, ICE3, BOLT3, BIO, HOLY
Target is killed instantly.
Ignores Dead immunity.
Does not work against Heavy type creatures.
For Heavy types:
Defense = 0
Attack = Attack * 4
If the target is immune to Magic Sword element, attacks will always miss, even with Aim, X-Fight, Jump or Sword Dance.
If the target absorbs the Magic Sword element, target will be healed instead of damaged. Healing amount = normal damage formula, but Defense = 0.
Leaving aside lots of important details there, the critical thing is the damage boost that comes from using Magic Sword against targets weak against the selected element. Using Fire Sword against a target who isn't weak against Fire has no effect on damage whatsoever! However, a target weak against Fire takes double damage from Fire Sword, triple damage from Fire 2 Sword, and dies instantly to Fire 3 Sword! Unless the target is flagged as "Heavy" (like most bosses), in which case they "only" take quadruple damage instead from Fire 3 Sword. The powergaming tactic for defeating Omega is based upon this, casting Bolt 3 Sword and then using X-Fight to deal well over 10k damage per attack. For Harun, it means that any boss with a weakness to Fire, Ice, or Lightning - and later, Poison or Holy - would take a humongous increase in damage from the appropriate Magic Sword. Enemies without elemental weaknesses would have to be handled normally, yet that wouldn't be all that bad either, using a character with high stats who could equip strong swords, armor, and shields!
Keeping that information in mind, Harun purchased the Fire/Ice/Bolt spells in Tule village, then proceeded to make short work of Karlabos. His weakness to Lightning element meant that each attack with Bolt Sword was doing some 180 damage. I was a little bit lucky here and managed to win on the very first attempt.
Here's a picture of Fire Sword at work against the undead in the Ship Graveyard:
This was actually a bit of a deceptive image, taking the screenshot just for the purpose of taking it. Harun could kill the Skeletons normally without need of the boost from Fire Sword, and the Carcusers are actually immune to Fire element, so that any strike with Fire Sword would always miss! These random battles generally weren't very useful for Magic Sword. Harun's signature skill was a lot more effective against bosses; Siren didn't take any additional damage in her human form, but the undead one was vulnerable to Fire Sword. This was pretty easy compared to some of the solo characters I've taken through these areas.
Harun was able to purchase the Sleep spell in Carwen and add another spellblade option to his repetoire. After steamrolling the random foes on North Mountain, Harun made use of the new Sleep Sword against Magisa and Forza:
Forza could be taken out of the fight completely this way, with every strike putting him to sleep. And Magisa doesn't possess much of danger for a melee fighter. Although Harun was probably strong enough to win out without even making use of Magic Sword here, no need to take any chances.
Any melee class that can equip the strongest armor available (Iron Shield, Iron Armor, Mythril Helmet) can reach a total Defense of 15 before entering Worus Tower. That combination completely neutralizes Galura, whose Attack value is also 15. Each time Galura would attack Harun, the monster would deal 0 damage. Poor thing. It wasn't much of a fight.
So on it was to Karnak, where Harun loaded up on a series of powerful equipment: Mythril Sword and Mythril Armor, plus the upgraded Fire/Ice/Bolt 2 Swords. Along with Venom Sword and Mute Sword, Harun already had all of the Magic Sword spells that he would acquire in the first world. This combination allowed Harun to tear right through the Steamship while barely breaking a sweat. Many of the enemies in here had weaknesses to Ice element (Crew Dusts, Defeaters, etc.) so Harun could load up on Ice 2 Sword in battle with the random encounters and carve a path of destruction through the enemy ranks. With his shield and heavy armor, Harun wasn't taking much damage in return either.
As you might guess, Liquid Flame (a giant walking pillar of fire) had a weakness to Ice element. Ice 2 Sword put up the expected huge numbers, at nearly 800 damage per attack. (Liquid Flame only has 3000 HP.) The only minor problem was the fact that Liquid Flame's "Hand" form is actually immune to Ice - probably not something you would expect! Harun could solve the problem by casting Mute Sword (which stripped away the elemental properties from his weapon), attacking successfully to switch the boss' form, then recasting Ice 2 Sword for large damage against the non-Hand forms. It wasn't really that difficult. Harun was more than strong enough to grab all of the treasure chests on his way out of exploding Karnak Castle, making off with the Guardian dagger, Elf Cape, and 14 Elixirs in stash. He continued to be really strong against random enemies, even when I didn't spend the time to cast Magic Sword.
The two bosses in the Ancient Library can be encapsulated in a single pithy statement: easy if you have the proper elemental damage, hard if you don't. Harun was lucky in that he did have access to the three primary elements, and so both Ifrit and Byblos were quite simple to beat. Ifrit's weakness to ice meant that he died in three successful strikes with Ice 2 Sword, although I hard to repeat the battle several times as Harun was killed before he could get them off. (I was not going to use an Elixir against such an easy boss.) Byblos hit Harun with multiple Sonic Waves on my first attempt, but he ignored the spell on my second try, and that was his undoing:
Fire 2 Sword and its triple damage boost lit up the darkness like a reactionary book-burning. As with so many other classes, if you have a way to deal Fire damage to Byblos, this battle can be won fairly quickly. If you don't have that option though...
Harun used the Steamship to purchase a Flame Ring in Istory village, after saving up a little more gold. This was a really big deal for Harun, as it allowed him to heal himself by casting Fire Sword and then attacking himself in battle. Not quite as good as a Black Mage's ability to use Fire 1/2/3, since Harun had to waste of turn of action casting Fire Sword, but still an excellent additional trick. I made use of Fire Sword's healing many times during the long Sandworm battle, which otherwise would have required using some items.
Fortunately the next couple of bosses were also weak against one of Harun's primary elements. Crayclaw was vulnerable to Bolt 2 Sword, and he actually went down in a mere 2 hits. Sucked to be him! The Adamantium Turtle was a bit tougher, though his big feature is really high Defense, and using Ice 2 Sword allowed Harun to cut through the turtle shell like it wasn't even there and ignore Defense. Adamtantium only seems like he has a lot of health because of that armor protection; without it, his 2000 HP (same as Crayclaw) disappeared in a handful of attacks. Would have been defeated even faster, if Harun had been able to dispel Adamantium's Armor status!
Harun had no trouble with the Flamegun or Rocket minibosses. The Flameguns were irrelevant with a Flame Ring, and Bolt 2 Sword cut them to ribbons. The Rockets could be neutralized by casting Fire 2 Sword, so that any time Harun was confused he would heal himself (via Flame Ring) rather than killing himself like the game wanted. I cut and pasted two images together above demonstrating this. Yay, Flame Ring!
Harun was about Level 28 at this point, and unfortunately he needed another 40k gold in order to purchase an Angel Ring for the Sol Cannon battle. There's really no way around this for most of the solo characters in this game, sadly. So four levels and 40k gold later, it was time to get the party started:
Bolt 2 Sword looks really cool. Too bad that the Launchers don't have a weakness to Lightning element (or anything, for that matter) as Harun needed to spend two rounds of combat destroying each one. Then he could use an Elixir on himself and start hacking away at the main cannon. Harun was doing very good damage, almost 1500 with each blow, and his high Agility meant that he was attacking at a nice clip. Nevertheless, this battle still cost 4 Elixirs before all was said and done. That's not too shabby - some characters of mine have needed close to a dozen.
I had been using the Guardian Dagger most of the time with Harun, as its Attack of 36 was so close to his other weapon, the Coral Sword's 37 Attack, as to make no difference. And the Guardian added an extra 25% physical Evade, which made it more than worth the minimal decrease in damage. The Lonka Ruins served up a new weapon though: the Ancient Sword (Attack 43), which has the special property of inflicting Ancient/Old status one third of the time. I thought this was a nice upgrade and made the switch. Then, in the middle of the Lonka Ruins I tried to have Harun heal himself with Flame Sword, only to see the Ancient Sword inflict Aging status on Harun! Whoops! Big mistake there. I went back to the Guardian Dagger for the moment to preserve healing power.
ArchaeoAvis raised two questions: Flame Ring or Elf Cape, and Guardian or Ancient Sword? On the first question, I reasoned that the ability to heal with Flame Sword dictated the need for the Flame Ring, even though I would have sorely liked the 1/3 physical Evade of the Elf Cape! That decision influenced the second half of the question, as I decided that giving up the Elf Cape meant that I should stick with the Guardian for its weapon block, and avoid the embarassment of hitting myself with the Ancient Sword when trying to heal. Thus the tactics for the battle were set.
As a result of using the lower offense weapon, the ArchaeoAvis fight did not go particularly fast. Harun did low damage with the Guardian, but he was able to heal himself over and over again, thus making slow but steady progress through the first two forms. For the third "Fire" form of the boss, I switched to the Ancient Sword and relied on ArchaeoAvis' Flame attack for free healing. (Interesting fact: swapping weapons in-battle removes any Magic Sword property they may have had. This is generally bad, but can be useful if you want to strip an elemental property from a weapon you just enchanted.) For the fourth form it was back to Guardian + Fire Sword, and then the final form was just the Guardian dagger, since the last "undead" form is immune against all elements. Harun lost his first two tries, then won the third one, at the expense of a single Elixir to counter a Maelstrom move:
Harun was hit by Maelstrom again right before the end, but I knew one more attack would finish the boss, so I trusted my math and sent ArchaeoAvis down in flames. Ha! Not the first time I've done that before either. There's a reason why I take the time to track boss health during these encounters.
The Chimera Brain and Titan were easily defeated using the combination of Fire Sword + Flame Ring for infinite healing. That left the Puroboros, bane of so many solo variants. I was a bit worried about Harun, as he lacked any multi-targeting ability to hit all six of the creatures at once. However, the Puroboros lacked immunity to Sleep status, so Harun started the battle by casting Sleep Sword and then began attacking each of them one at a time. Each Puroboros that was hit would fall asleep and remain that way until hit again with a second attack. This meant that Harun only had to dodge about 4 Exploder attacks before all of the creatures were asleep, at which point I could wake them up one at a time and wait until they exploded harmlessly. Harun could also kill them while they were sleeping, which would circumvent their ability to cast Life 2 on their partners! Thanks to Sleep Sword and a little luck, Harun actually won this battle on the very first try:
There's the final one exploding for ~500 damage as Harun sits and waits with full health. This was one of the few battles that had me a little concerned, and Harun passed it with flying colors. Excellent.
After solo Galuf made his way out of the dungeon in Exdeath's Castle, Harun tackled the fights on the Big Bridge. I was able to save healing items once again here by using Fire Sword with the Flame Ring, which made Harun all but invincible in random battles. For the Gilgamesh fight on the bridge, Harun spent most of the time using Fire Sword once again, however I swapped over to Mute Sword just before Gilgamesh was about to trigger his AI change. Properly Muted, his triple buff spells of Haste/Armor/Shell all failed to take effect, and Harun could recast Fire Sword and win out easily.
Rugor village had a sword upgrade, to the Slumber Sword, and the fourth-level Black magic spells on sale. That meant that Harun could outfit himself with his own fourth-level Sword magic: Drain Sword, Break Sword, and Bio Sword. Out of these three, Drain Sword was definitely the most useful, as it allowed Harun to attack his foes while simultaneously healing himself! Hard to top that, at least against foes that lacked elemental weaknesses. Break Sword could instantly kill anything that lacked an immunity to petrification, and would come in useful much later on. Bio Sword wasn't that great because few enemies have a weakness to Poison element, yet it too would eventually see use in one boss battle.
Drain Sword was the real winner, and Harun cast it constantly throughout the second world:
Anything that wasn't undead fell with ease and healed Harun in the process. Now there was no need to stick with the Fire Sword and Flame Ring combo, which meant wasting a turn of action to heal. Harun did use Fire 2 Sword to take down the undead Tyrannosaurus at the end of the Moogle Cave, however, which perished in a mere three attacks. No need to cheapen out and use a Phoenix Down this time!
Harun was able to find the Epee Sword in Bal Castle (attack 57, a major upgrade) and of course swap over to the Bone Mail in the Hiryuu Valley. I had been curious as to whether Drain Sword would work with the undead properties of the Bone Mail, and fortunately the answer to that was yes. This made things almost too easy, even for a solo character, as Harun carved a path of destruction through the ranks of his foes, using Drain Sword on the normal enemies and Fire 2 Sword on the undead Zombie Dragons. The Hiryuu Plant was a simple matter of killing the paralyzation Flower (#4) over and over again while relying on Drain Sword for free healing.
The Gilgamesh/Enkidu combination proved surprisingly difficult, however! Maybe it's because Harun didn't have any way to boost damage against these two (who both lacked elemental weaknesses), but I found myself having to redo the battle over and over again many times. Death Claw popped up and destroyed Harun more times than I'd like to count. Eventually, I worked out a tactic where I would have Harun enter the Gilgamesh battle at extremely low health (and I mean EXTREMELY low, roughly 50 HP out of 1700) which would trigger his "Barrier" ability, casting the Shell spell. In addition to halving magic damage, Shell also cuts in half the probability of spells like Death Claw from working, dropping the chance from about 2/3 to 1/3. This did result in a victory eventually, but it was a very tough go. There's no question that enemies lacking elemental weaknesses are the toughest foes for the Mystic Knight.
Why not just cast Mute Sword against Gilgamesh? Because Blue magic is bugged in this game, and it can be cast right through Mute status. Oopsie on the programmers!
Harun turned up a Wall Ring pretty quickly in the Barrier Tower, and then it was time to go after the big, bad Atmos:
Atmos is immune to virtually every conceivable status ailment, with the one major exception of Sleep. That meant that Harun could send him off to dreamland with Sleep Sword, after which Atmos would be completely helpless! Except... Harun had no way to inflict magic damage, so Harun's next attack after putting Atmos to sleep would wake the boss up again. Nevertheless, Harun could alternate Attack (Atmos asleep), Attack (Atmos awake), Attack (Atmos asleep) endlessly and get periods of relief from the boss in between. This would also allow me to use Hi Potions instead of Elixirs for healing, making the boss beatable without raiding my supplies.
That's not to say that Atmos was a piece of cake, however. Once the other three party members were sucked up (and that didn't take long), Atmos would start his usual storm of Comets, and all it took was one or two high damage rolls to kill Harun instantly. I really would have liked to trigger Barrier for Shell status, but that requires an enemy to hit the Mystic Knight and inflict physical damage in the critical range. Magical damage (i.e. Comet) won't work, nor is it possible to attack yourself to trigger Barrier - believe me, I tried! Instead, I would start out the battle using the Dancing Dirk, hoping to land a couple of Sword Dances, and then switch over to the more reliable Epee sword. I didn't have any success at first, when Harun initially reached Atmos at Level 39. I realized that what was actually killing Harun was not enough health to survive Atmos' Comets, so I added a couple of levels to 43, and that along with a pair of Sword Dances was enough to do the trick:
On the successful battle, Harun survived one Comet barrage with 9 hit points left. Nine! Out of more than 2100! I wish I could make up stuff that good, no one would believe me.
After making a quick trip through Guido's Cave, Harun stocked up on the next round of superior equipment in the village of Mua. Most important here were the fifth-level Sword magic spells, the Fire/Ice/Bolt 3 elemental magics. These spells each instantly kill anything weak to their respective elements that does not have the "Heavy" flag in the game's code; I had some fun with this casting Fire 3 Sword to destroy some of the Mammon (tree) enemies in the Forest of Mua. Against bosses and other enemies that could't be killed instantly, these spells still did 4x normal damage and ignored Defense, effectively turning every strike into a Sword Dance! However, as always with Sword Magic, the spells did nothing against opponents that lacked the appropriate elemental weakness. That's the one weakness of the Mystic Knight class, as Harun was shortly to encounter...
Anyway, nothing in Mua presented much of a challenge, and Harun cleaned up some excellent experience in there. Best of all was the Aegis Shield in a chest at the end of the forest, yay! Drain Sword remained the typical Sword magic of choice, as there were no undead enemies present. The Crystals/Seal Guardians were handled easily using Drain Sword and a Flame Ring. Harun could have done that battle even without using his Sword magic. (It's a very easy battle for any character equipped with the Flame Ring.)
I found to my pleasant surprise that all of the enemies inside Exdeath's Castle could be countered with some type of Sword magic. The Red Dragons were weak against ice element, the dreaded Yellow Dragons could be neutered with Drain Sword's healing powers, and the Blue Dragons had no immunity to stone, and died instantly to Break Sword - ha! I went ahead and fought Carbunkle because it shared the same weakness:
Cast Break Sword, wait for Carbunkle to shift into its second form, and then one successful attack will result in petrification and victory. And yeah, this is on the cheap side, but so few classes have access to stoning attacks that I found it too much fun to pass up! As for the rest of the castle, Harun discovered that the very common Magic Dragon enemies had an odd weakness to Poison element, which meant that casting Bio Sword slew them instantly (they are not "Heavy" type opponents). The Blind Wolves were weak to fire, AdamaGolems were weak to lightning, and almost all of the random foes that lacked specific weaknesses could be leeched with Drain Sword. Even Gilgamesh battle #4 was a cakewalk, as Drain Sword eliminated the need for healing and the Aegic Shield blocked most of his nasty moves, including blocking Sonic Wave twice!
So far, so good. Unfortunately, this brought me up to the battle I had been dreading most since Harun started his quest: the Exdeath battle that concludes the second world. Hoo boy, where do we begin? The problem here was that Exdeath lacked any exploitable elemental weakness, which rendered most of the Sword magic at Harun's command useless. (Technically he's weak to Holy element, however Harun had no way to access that until later in the game.) All of the Fire/Ice/Bolt/Bio Swords were pointless, as Exdeath had no weakness against those elements. Sleep, Mute, and Break Sword were also blocked by Exdeath's many status immunities; he was also immune to Aging, so no use for the Ancient Sword either.
This meant that Harun was reduced to nothing more than Drain Sword, which was helpful in largely eliminating the need to heal, but it didn't do anything to boost damage. And that was the real rub; because Exdeath uses Condemn as part of his AI routine, a solo character simply must inflict damage against Exdeath very quickly, as dragging out the battle makes death at the hands of Condemn inevitable. Specifically, you must do exactly 16,768 damage to trigger a change to his (much easier) second AI routine, after which victory is practically a certainty. I had thought that I would have pretty good odds to dodge Condemn, as the probability it appears is only 2/3, and Harun had an Aegis Shield equipped which would have a 1/3 chance to block the spell, making the overall probability of Condemn hitting only 2/3 * 2/3 = 4/9, or 44%. However I was mistaken here, as Condemn actually autohits the target and never misses - it can't be blocked by the Aegis Shield. Eeep! That meant that Harun had to dish out that 16k+ damage before he was hit by Condemn, at roughly 650 damage per attack. This would take... about 26 rounds of combat to achieve. See the problem?
I tried and failed to do the battle normally; Harun simply couldn't do enough damage before Exdeath would go through his AI routine and hit with Condemn. I would have needed it to miss 4 straight times, and that would be straining probability at only 1/3 odds to miss each time! There were two answers: level up, or come up with a better strategy. I took the latter route, and - drawing inspiration from my Beastmaster Barnum, who had been in a similar situation - switched over from the Epee sword to the Dancing Dirk. Ah yes, the Dancing Dirk, the keystone of so many variant runs! If Harun could land several Sword Dances in succession, he would be able to deal enough damage to overcome the barrier posed by Condemn... and heal himself at the same time via Drain Sword! I begin trying my luck with the new weapon, and surprisingly was successful in a relatively short period of time. Would you believe that Harun led off one fight against Exdeath with THREE consecutive Sword Dances?!
It's true! Given that the odds of getting a Sword Dance with the Dancing Dirk are only 1/8, that's pretty incredible. I needed a second Condemn to miss, and fortunately it did, after which the victory was all but guaranteed. I made no mistakes in the second half of the battle, and Harun walked out victorious. It only took about 25-30 tries to win out; I had been expecting 100+ attempts, so this was quite a relief.
The Exdeath battle was by far the most difficult one in the whole game for Harun. Now that he was in the third world, the journey became much easier again. Drain Sword took him past the Antlion, and even getting hit by Sonic Wave repeatedly made no difference as Harun kept leeching life back with every attack. Next he went to Mua and picked up the Chicken Knife, which put up the predictable mass damage (4000+ with each successful hit). Sleep Sword got Harun past the Gargolyes, and Bolt 3 Sword instantly annihilated the Machine Head robots:
I used the Epee Sword for these battles, as any hit would kill the robots and the Chicken Knife had 25% odds to get that darned Flee effect. Love that auto-kill aspect of the fifth-level Sword magic! A mixture of Fire Sword, Drain Sword, and Break Sword sufficed to deal with the random critters in the Pyramid. Merugene/Mellusion changes her barrier and elemental weaknesses, but she's always weak to one of the fire/ice/lightning elements. Harun waited to observe which one was her weakness, then used the appropriate Sword magic. Combined with the Chicken Knife, that did 9999 damage on each attack, so this battle didn't last very long...
Harun picked up the Assassin Dagger from Kuzar Castle (the only one of the Legendary Weapons he could use!) and the standard Running Shoes accessory from Mirage village. I used the Assassin Dagger most of the time in the Solitary Island Temple, simply because I didn't want Harun to run away from battle with the Chicken Knife. Even the weaker weapon was doing a solid 1500 base damage, and that could usually be boosted much higher with various Sword magics. When it couldn't be boosted, against foes with no elemental weaknesses, a Drain Sword that leeched back well over 1000 life per hit kept Harun in the comfortable zone. Poor Stoker/Stalker lacks an immunity to Sleep, so Harun froze him in place with Sleep Sword and pounded him to death with the Chicken Knife.
In Fork Tower, the Minotaur died without making Harun use an Elixir for healing... and Harun couldn't even use his Sword magic in the battle! Pretty weak, Minotaur. Omniscient never got a chance to cast Reset, because Harun used Mute Sword and completely pulled his teeth by silencing him over and over again! Possibly the easiest time I've ever had against that particular boss. Mute him, eliminate his ability to cast spells, and there's literally nothing he can do.
Completing Fork Tower opened up the Holy Sword and Flare Sword spells, the former of which immediately came in handy in the Great Trench dungeon. All of the Unknown enemies down there are weak to Holy element, and since they lack the Heavy flag in the code, one hit from Holy Sword with any weapon will kill them instantly! I moved Harun to the back row and gave him the Guardian Dagger for a weapon, since it would block a quarter of the monster attacks and his weapon's damage made no difference. This worked perfectly, and only the annoying magma floors caused real harm to Harun. The boss trio at the end were worn down with Holy Sword and then finished off with a Magic Lamp Bahamut summon. (It didn't even matter if Harun messed up here because his Aegis Shield protected him from their Delta Attack petrification move.)
That left Istory Falls, where many of the "watery" enemies had a predictable weakness to lightning. Harun cut them down with Bolt 3 Sword, and fell back on the old stalwart Drain Sword against those foes who lacked an elemental weakness. He also picked up an improved weapon inside:
Feel free to make your own joke here about a sword named "The Enhancer". But nevertheless this is the best non-Chicken Knife weapon for a number of classes, including the Mystic Knight. Although it has no special properties, the Enhancer has a much higher base damage (102) than the Assassin Dagger (81), the standard lategame weapon that all classes (other than the White Mage) can equip. I continued to use the Chicken Knife in most boss fights, but the Enhancer became Harun's weapon of choice in random encounters where I didn't want him running away.
Leviathan + Chicken Knife + Bolt 3 Sword = 9999 damage. 'Nuff said.
Harun was now ready to enter the Cleft of Dimension, despite being only Level 53. He had enough health to survive the worst attacks, and more than 30 Elixirs saved up for the final battle. As far as the first couple of bosses went, Wood Sprite posed no challenge to a character with the Bone Mail and Apanda had a weakness to fire element. (Instant 9999 damage again!) Apocalypse was in the same boat, due to his rare weakness to poison element:
Harun broke out Bio Sword and won pretty easily. Against Catastrophe and Halicarnassus, Harun employed Flare Sword, so let me give you the formula for that:
If the Attacker is using Magic Sword Flare,
Attack = Attack + 100 and Defense = (Defense/4)
In other words, add 100 to the weapon's Attack value, and quarter enemy Defense! This is extremely powerful, and allows the Mystic Knight to dish out massive damage to basically anything, even opponents that lack elemental weaknesses. With Harun's current weapons, Flare Sword took the Enhancer from the 2000 damage range to about 4000, and the Chicken Knife from roughly 4000 damage to 8000+! With the Chicken Knife and Flare Sword combined, Harun could now hack through practically anything. These bosses fell easily before the might of the Mystic Knight; Harun was barely even threatened. And as for Twin Tania, he has a weakness to Holy element, plus his second "Giga Flare" form doesn't even have the Heavy flag! One hit from Holy Sword while charging up for Giga Flare, and the boss died instantly. Wow. Wasn't expecting that!
Next up was Necrophobia, a difficult foe for many of my solo variants but not for Harun. After you get past the four Barriers, Necrophobia himself is weak against all eight elements, which meant huge damage for Harun. The Chicken Knife was dishing out 9999 figures on each attack (without the four-digit limit, Harun would have been doing about 16,000 damage!) Despite this considerable advantage, Harun still managed to die on his first attempt as the Chicken Knife kept pulling its Flee effect move over and over again. Argh. I did win out on the second try with no problems, fortunately.
I wasn't too worried about facing off against Exdeath and Neo Exdeath, as Harun was equipped with the combination of a killer offense (Flare Sword + Chicken Knife) and a very strong defense (Aegis Shield). The classes that can equip the Aegis Shield really have a major advantage in the first half of this battle, as it rules out the petrification of White Hole, overwhelmingly the #1 killer for most solo classes here. On the other side of the ball, you can see above the 8000+ damage that Harun was doing on the attack. Six successful strikes was enough to get past the first form.
With Neo Exdeath, the overwhelming danger invariably comes from Grand Cross. The randomness of this move makes it surpringly effective; you can't set up your equipment to defend against 18 different possible status ailments! I made it the goal of Harun to eliminate Part #1 to stop the possibility of Grand Cross, leaving Parts #2 and #3 for last. (Part #4 is always eliminated by summoning Odin via the Magic Lamp.) Now Part #2, the Almagest part, can actually be killed instantly by using Break Sword, because it lacks an immunity to stoning moves. However, that would have meant leaving Part #1 alive for the duration of the battle, and since Harun wasn't particularly afraid of Almagest, I refrained from using Break Sword.
Instead Flare Sword continued to be the order of the day, doing well over 8000 damage on every successful attack. Part #1 managed to get off three successful Grand Crosses before biting it, the first of which inflicted Poison status and the last two of which had no discernable effect. Once it was gone, Harun simply took his time and wore down the remaining parts. I had tons of Elixirs left over, so I could afford to be liberal with the healing. Even though two Vaccuum Waves (or a Vaccuum Wave + Almagest) would result in Harun's death, I was never really in danger. Been playing this game too long to make a silly mistake at this point. Harun defeated Neo Exdeath on his first attempt:
I won on the initial stab at the final boss battle, if you don't count a throwaway quick trial to see how much damage the Chicken Knife and Enhancer each did with Flare Sword. I think it's fair to count this as a perfect run overall. The big difference, as I've noted before, was the ability to equip the Aegis Shield.
Harun finished at Level 55, which is quite low for a solo character. He proved to be a very dominant character from start to end of this variant; the Mystic Knight is very powerful! You could do the whole game with nothing but Drain Sword and still come out ahead of a lot of other jobs. The battle against Exdeath at the end of the second world was easily the toughest one in the whole variant. Once Harun made it to the third world, it was smooth sailing through calm waters. I actually did the entire third world in one sitting, which took a little over two hours to play out. That's the first time I've ever done that - Harun just cut through every obstacle in front of him without breaking a sweat!
Next up will be one of the game's toughest solo classes: the Thief. Wish me luck...