Sorcerer Solo Game (with Ophilia)
Part One

It had been quite a while since I played Octopath Traveler, more than 18 months according to Steam's internal date tracking. During that span, Octopath Traveler 2 came out and I played it from start to finish; I may or may not write about that game for the website, we'll see. I did always intend to come back to the original Octopath Traveler to finish the rest of the solo games, however, at least in part because they tend to be pretty relaxing as a gaming venture. The next target on my list was another one of the secret endgame jobs in the form of the Sorcerer, a powerful spellcasting class which is essentially a souped-up version of the Scholar. I needed to pick one of the eight characters to serve as the Sorcerer since it's not one of the default starting jobs and my choice was Ophilia. It needed to be one of the characters with strong elemental attack and I did not want to deal with the terrible HP growth on Cyrus again if I could avoid it. There was another good reason to pick Ophilia: she has the highest spirit point (SP) growth in the game and the Sorcerer class burns through SP at an incredible rate. Tressa and Primrose would also have been good choices but I had already used Tressa for the Runelord playthrough and Primrose was the most recent solo character that I'd done. Ophilia it would be.

Since the Sorcerer is not one of the normal starting jobs, I used a Cheat Engine script that I had discovered online to force Ophilia into a new class that she doesn't normally possess. (I had earlier created starting savefiles for each of the secret classes due to the buggy nature of how this worked, with no guarantee that it would continue operating in the future.) With Ophilia as the default character, she would be allowed to use her Guide ability to complete town quests but not to Summon NPCs into battle - that's an Ophilia ability, not a Sorcerer ability. As a quick refresher for our rules in an Octopath Traveler solo game, the seven other characters will all be recuited (to allow playing through their respective storylines) but won't take any part in combat. The lesson that I learned from my initial Tressa solo game is that the Path Actions of the other characters also need to be included or else it locks out too much of the gameplay. So that's the rule for this game: Ophilia can use the other characters to Scrutinize/Inquire for information, Challenge/Provoke NPCs in town, and Steal/Purchase items, but none of those other skills can be used for combat purposes.

One last starting note: I have no idea why this class uses the name "Sorcerer". All of the other secret classes match the names of their secret shrines, with the Shrine of the Runelord opening up the Runelord job and the Shrine of the Warmaster unlocking the Warmaster and the Shrine of the Starseer revealing the Starseer. And yet for some reason, defeating Dreisang the Archmage at the Shrine of the Archmagus gives you the Sorcerer job - huh?! This should really be named the Archmage class, which also sounds much cooler, but I'll use the name Sorcerer since that's what the in-game text employs. Anyway, on with the report:

These were the initial stats for Sorcerer Ophilia at Level 1. Keep in mind that these numbers are modified by the fact that I was using Ophilia as the base character for the Sorcerer job; these numbers would look different if someone else had been chosen for the solo run. Here's the comparison to Ophilia's default stats with her normal Cleric job. Ophilia did not gain any additional health from her extra class, nor did she gain any physical attack, physical defense, or evasion. However, she did gain significant bonuses to max SP, elemental attack, and elemental defense which were all notable because Ophilia naturally has some of the highest base stats in all of these categories already. Recall that 80 is the average starting stat in Octopath Traveler, with anything higher being above average and anything below 80 being subpar. This was a case of the Sorcerer class further accentuating what Ophilia was already good at doing. Basically she was going to be ungodly strong at anything involving magic and embarassingly weak in every other area. It could have been even worse though, I could have used poor Cyrus as the base class instead!

The Sorcerer class has Staffs and the surprising Bows category for their weapon types. I hadn't spent much time using bows as a weapon type thus far and certainly not for a spellcasting character so this would be a good opportunity to explore their use in more detail. This isn't a class that cares much about weapons though because Sorcerers rely on their spellcasting to deal damage and in fact have access to all six elemental types of damage. The Runelord is the only other class that can say the same thing although of course everyone can use soulstones for limited amounts of elemental damage. In any case, I started out the gameplay by cashing in Ophilia's starting money for a Sturdy Vest with 32 physical / 42 elemental defense which was quite good for the very start of the game. Then it was time to look at her abilities for the first time:

Sorcerers begin the game with two skills, Ignis Ardere and Glacies Claudere. Octopath Traveler apparently follows the Harry Potter example of naming its spells with barely-modified Latin descriptions. Anyway, both of these spells did the same thing, hitting all enemies on screen three times with their respective elements, fire for Ignis Ardere and ice for Glacies Claudere. If this sounds familiar to how the Scholar class operates, well, it should because the Sorcerer basically does the same thing only hitting everything three times instead of one or two times. By way of comparison, the Scholar's Fireball hits once at a strength of 1.33, Fire Storm hits twice at a strength of 1.20, and Ignis Ardere hits three times at a strength of 1.06. This is particularly useful when trying to break an opponent with an elemental weakness since the Sorcerer spells can chew through three of them at a time. The downside is the cost in spirit points: Fireball costs 8 SP, Fire Storm costs 22 SP, and Ignis Ardere costs a whopping 36 SP! Even using Ophilia, the character with the highest SP total, she could only cast her spells twice here at the outset of the game before running completely out of spirit points. This was of course due to the fact that the Sorcerer class isn't supposed to unlock until the very end of the gameplay but it did present some interesting challenges for the moment.

Here's the full list of the Sorcerer's abilities:

As with all jobs in Octopath Traveler, the first two abilities are an innate part of the class and then the following five skills can be unlocked in any order once there are enough job points. The final Divine skill requires unlocking all of the other seven skills before it can be taken to finish off the class. The Sorcerer class turns out to be pretty uninteresting as six of its spells are exactly the same, each attuned to one of the six elemental types of damage in Octopath Traveler. All six of these abilities deal exactly the same damage so none of them have any advantage aside from exploiting monster weaknesses. This means that the class can almost always hit at least one elemental vulnerability on every single opponent but it does make the class a bit dull in comparison to some of its peers. The Elemental Break skill was a notable departure and looked to be extremely useful, a way to inflict the elemental defense down debuff on opponents which translates into 50% more damage taken. That would be the skill that I most wanted to learn once Ophilia could amass the enormous 2000 job points required to learn a new ability.

Sadly this is not a class that has a particularly useful Divine skill, a major contrast to the ridiculously overpowered final abilities of the Runelord and Warmaster classes. The Sorcerer eventually unlocks Dreisang's Spell which grants three turns of guaranteed critical strikes on elemental damage. While that might sound pretty good, I've found that basically every attack goes critical on its own by the end of the game and crits only deal an extra 25% more damage anyway. Unless there's some part of this ability that I'm overlooking, the Divine skill seems pretty lackluster for the Sorcerer.

I had a pretty good guess at what the early gameplay would look like for the Sorcerer class which was confirmed as soon as I ventured out into the wilds with Ophilia. Her spells were the very definition of overkill, dealing far more damage than was necessary to eliminate the weak critters around Flamesgrace, while running Ophilia out of spirit points almost immediately. Fortunately characters regain all lost health and SP upon leveling in Octopath Traveler so I could have Ophilia blast away pretty frequently as she gained the initial rapid levels. She also had to do a good deal of whacking things with her staff since even frequent levels weren't enough to prevent running out of SP given the insane cost of Ignis Ardere and Glacies Claudere. Ophilia lacked a bow for the moment as I hadn't had sufficient funds to purchase her a weapon in that slot; I've found over time that defensive upgrades are more important to purchase for a starting character than offensive ones.

Ophilia's Chapter 1 boss is the Guardian of the First Flame, one of the more dangerous of the initial bosses due to its summoning of Dark Wisp minions. These little things will start counting down and then explode upon hitting zero which can easily be game over for a solo character. This wasn't a problem for the Sorcerer class, however, which could simply blast the living daylights out of the Dark Wisps with a casting of Ignis Ardere to hit their fire element weakness. I made sure to break the Guardian itself ahead of time for maximum damage (taking advantage of its convenient weakness to staffs) and then toasted everything in sight. The Guardian of the First Flame had lowered stats, since this was the one battle in the whole game intended to be done with a solo character, and Ophilia had no trouble achieving a victory without ever being in danger.

With the initial story sequence out of the way, Ophilia could finally access the world map and begin the game proper. I decided that I would recruit the other characters in their official OCTOPATH order by rotating clockwise to Atlasdam where Cyrus awaited. His short dungeon that followed fortunately was packed with monsters who were also weak against staffs as a damage type since Ophilia couldn't afford to use too many of her Sorcerer abilities. This was somewhat tedious, with lots of bopping enemies using Ophilia's very weak physical attack, though I knew that the class would become stronger and stronger with time. Russell was waiting at the end with his Water Wisp minions in a boss fight which was somewhat reminiscent of the Guardian of the First Flame, though Russell can't resummon his minions after they get destroyed. The Water Wisps were weak against fire element which meant that Ignis Ardere was the tool of choice once again. It wiped out the minions and then Ophilia could bash her way through Russell's staff weakness to apply further castings of Glacies Claudere to get the kill.

I had enough money after completing the Subterranean Study to return back to Flamesgrace and purchase the Wolf's Bow. This finally gave Ophilia a weapon in the bow slot and it came with 42 physical attack / 32 elemental attack. The second half of those stats was more important as characters in Octopath Traveler will use the elemental attack from their best equipped weapon to power their spellcasting. More elemental attack meant more damage for the various Sorcerer abilities; next I'd have to save up for the Mage's Staff with 98 elemental attack available for purchase in Atlasdam at a cost of 18,000 money.

Tressa's story sequence was next in order as Sorcerer Ophilia went off to fight her pirate foes. The new Wolf's Bow was exactly the tool that Ophilia needed for the random encounters found in the Caves of Maiya since almost everything inside had a weakness to bows. It's almost as if the monsters are designed to be weak against the weapon types of their associated Chapter 1 characters, imagine that. Mikk and Makk were a bit annoying because they each had different elemental weaknesses, with Mikk vulnerable to lightning while Makk was weak against fire. (They're both weak against wind element but Ophilia hadn't unlocked the associated Sorcerer spell yet.) The best that I could do was employ Ignis Ardere again which dealt extra damage to Makk. The pirates themselves hit Ophilia harder than I remembered and she nearly died at one point when I was slow to use Healing Grapes. This was still an easy battle even if I was bit rusty at my piloting of an Octopath Traveler solo character.

Afterwards I decided to put Ophilia's accumulated money to good use by making the run up to Noblecourt where there were some major equipment upgrades available using Tressa's Purchase ability. I had hoped that Ophilia might be able to use her Sorcerer spells to blast her way past the Giant Sheep + Night Raven encounter that always seems to take place in this outdoor area, only to be disappointed when she fell well short of having enough damage. I guess that Ophilia still needed more levels and more elemental attack from her equipment. That meant falling back on running away from combat and Ophilia was able to succeed on about the eighth attempt after getting plastered in the previous tries. This allowed me to Purchase an Empowering Bracelet for 500 additional HP, effectively doubling her health total for the moment. Ophilia would also be able to teleport back to Noblecourt whenever she wanted which would be handy once I had more funds for buying additional gear.

I continued working clockwise around the inner ring with Olberic's story sequence next in line. Here's a detail that's easy to overlook in the written reports but always causes me some annoyance: the need to kill off the other characters in the party for a solo game. Octopath Traveler does not allow the player to target their own party in combat (an odd omission given that Final Fantasy let players do this 25 years earlier) which meant that Ophilia couldn't use her fancy elemental spells to blast the other characters out of existence. Instead, I had to wait for the monsters to kill them off which often took some time even with the gameplay running at 3x normal speed. Olberic was always the worst culprit in this respect since he has the highest base health and such high natural defensive stats, there's a reason why you almost never see him present in these screenshots. My solo characters never want to go to the inn either since that provides a full revive in Octopath Traveler and then I have the pain of removing the other three characters all over again! Eventually this issue resolves itself because the non-solo characters will remain at Level 1 and die instantly against the tough endgame enemies, it's a real problem in the early game though.

Returning to the gameplay narrative, Ophilia had to contend next with Gaston, the boss of Olberic's Chapter 1 tale. This was probably a bad time to take on this foe since he had his full unnerfed stats now that I technically had a full party while Ophilia was still scaling up her own abilities and equipment. The biggest danger came from his windup attack named Mighty Blow:

Obviously an attack dealing as much as 600 damage was a real problem with Ophilia having barely more than 1100 HP to her name! At least the attack didn't always critically strike and it did around 450-500 damage in those cases. The boss fight was further complicated by the presense of Gaston's two minions who kicked in their own attacks for about 100 damage each round. Ophilia couldn't kill them either as Gaston adds a stunning attack to his moveset once the minions are gone which would be an effective game over. I had to make sure that Ophilia used Glacies Claudere because the two Brigands had a weakness to fire element and Ignis Ardere would simply kill them. I initially tried this fight three times and lost on each attempt with Gaston simply doing too much damage and overwhelming Ophilia's use of Healing Grapes for HP restoration. Now here's the problem: by starting Olberic's story sequence, I was locked out of leaving Cobbleston and traveling anywhere else. Uh oh, did I just get Ophilia permanently stuck?

Fortunately there was a solution here: I could purchase the Silver Vest and Sturdy Helm from the equipment store in town, two items that had higher armor values than what Ophilia was wearing. The pair was enough to raise her physical defense from 167 to 215 and that was a big difference indeed. I went back to face Gaston again and I found that the additional armor was enough to reduce his damage to the point where it the combat was just barely survivable with continuous Healing Grape usage. Ophilia would eat one of the items on almost every round for 500 health restoration, letting her boost meter fill up and taking advantage of Gaston's weakness to staffs to cut through his shields. When broken, she would hit with Glacies Claudere for approximately 450 x 3 = 1350 damage. I had to repeat this process four times to defeat Gaston, with the fourth spellcasting knocking out the two Brigands simultaneously. This was a near-disaster and I really should have saved Gaston for a bit later on. Ophilia would have been totally screwed here with stopping to purchase the Empowering Bracelet and its +500 HP earlier, I probably would have needed to restart the savefile from scratch!

Onwards the quest continued to Sunshade where Primrose was recruited for the party, with her Allure ability not being needed on this playthrough with Ophilia's Guide available as the main character. I had enough money saved up by this point to Purchase an Imperial Vest with 120 physical / 132 elemental defense for big increases in each category. This made Ophilia much more sturdy and she wouldn't have had the same difficulties with Gaston if this had been equipped earlier. The Imperial Vest cost a little over 18k income though and that dropped Ophilia back down to an empty pocketbook, something that I was carefully managing. Money is tight for most of the game when playing Octopath Traveler (which I appreciate as a sign of good design) and that impacted how I was playing out the random encounters. Ophilia could incinerate all of the random critters in a flash when she used her Sorcerer spells, with their damage overkilling literally everything at this stage of the gameplay. However, at 36 SP per casting she would run out after three uses and that was insufficient for even the short early dungeons. I couldn't exactly afford to buy Inspiriting Plums at 240 money per item, not until later on when enemies started dropping more loot. Thus Ophilia spent a lot of time hitting things with her staff or shooting them with her bow, tedious though it was. This was another one of those things that would improve over time once I could work around the awkwardness of an endgame class running around where it wasn't supposed to be.

Helgenish was a far easier opponent than Gaston had been. He was weak against bows which allowed Ophilia to land an easy break and then Glacies Claudere hit for 500 x 3 = 1500 damage. Two such castings were enough to wipe out the attending minions and then the third one took out the boss as well. Helgenish never seems to cause problems for my solo characters and that's because his attacks are mostly area-of-effect blows that hit the whole party, something that causes far less danger in a solo game than strong damage directed against one target. Oddly enough, this boss fight dropped an item I hadn't seen before named the Plate Shield which had 45 physical defense and no elemental defense. It was better than the shield that Ophilia was using so I equipped it for the moment.

I should mention that it's not just the bosses which increase in strength once the player has a full party. The random encounters in the inner circle also get stronger as well, with the intention that they scale up alongside the party as it grow from one to four characters. (The outer rings are unaffected by this and the monsters there are always at full power.) The stronger random encounters have more monsters present which means that they also start yielding noticeably more money, experience, and especially job points. Whereas Ophilia was getting a pitiful 4-5 job points per battle in the starting Cave of Origin, now she was accumulating 20-30 job points on average and finally making real progress towards those expensive Sorcerer abilities. Ophilia crossed the 2000 JP threshold at the very end of Alfyn's Chapter 1 dungeon and I opted to take the pictured Elemental Break ability rather than one of the other elemental spells. Elemental Break is a critically important tool for the Sorcerer class as it allows them to inflict the elemental down debuff on opponents, with a default length of 2 turns and increasing by an additional 2 turns for each boost point invested. It also acts as a staff attack with modest damage which can sometimes be useful for shield breaking in its own right.

That was fortunately the case against the Blotted Viper who does have a weakness to staffs. The main threat in this battle comes from the poison status condition which the main viper and its two snake minions can all apply. Poison is no joke in Octopath Traveler as it does 1/6th of max health in damage each round that it ticks away, 250 damage for Ophilia at the moment as opposed to the double-digit damage that she was taking from their normal attacks. Needless to say, Ophilia was using Antidote herbs on most turns as her boost meter filled up. When not removing poison status, I worked the Blotted Viper down to one shield remaining, then broke the boss with Elemental Break followed by hitting it with Ignis Ardere. This dealt about 850 x 3 = 2550 damage thanks to having the elemental down debuff in place on the boss (which causes the target to take 50% more damage). Two such castings were enough to defeat the big snake, with Ophilia using Ignis Ardere to avoid killing the Mottled Asp minions too quickly by hitting their weakness to ice element.

Completing Alfyn's initial story sequence left Ophilia with enough money to teleport back to Atlasdam and purchase the Mage's Staff item with 98 elemental attack. This was a rare case of buying something useful from a store instead of using Purchase/Steal; the vendors in Octopath Traveler are mostly pretty worthless. I was also completing all of the various side quests and seeking out the stat-boosting nuts as always, with the side quests providing some much-needed additional income. While traveling to Bolderfall, Ophilia finally saw her first Cait of the game and smashed the pictured Ice Soulstone to ensure its defeat. The resulting 1000 XP was worth about two additional levels, not quite so significant as it would have been earlier but still welcome.

Therion was the last important character to recruit due to the necessity of bringing him along to open purple treasure chests. (This was a dumb idea and I'm glad that the developers scrapped this concept for Octopath Traveler 2.) Therion also has very high odds to Steal things in his starting town of Bolderfall, probably because it's intended to serve as tutorial on how the Path Action works, and I made sure to relieve the townspeople of their burdens for the free loot. The enemies in Ravus Manor were a cinch to defeat by this point and Heathcote didn't fare much better. He was weak to bows but not to staffs which meant that Ophilia had to shift her tactics slightly. I worked him down to one shield remaining, then hit him with a boosted Elemental Break so that the elemental defense down debuff would remain in effect for four turns. That allowed sufficient time to break with a bow shot on the following turn, then hit with Ignis Ardere for a much larger 1500 x 3 = 4500 damage wave of flame. The extra effectiveness of having that Mage Staff was clearly visible and that pretty much ended the fight with Heathcote having a mere 6000 HP in total. Ophilia was being tickled by his sword strikes for well under 100 damage which meant that this whole boss clash was a laugher.

Now I could bring Therion out into the rest of the wider world instead of being limited solely to the town of Bolderfall and it was time to start abusing his Steal ability. Maybe I was inspired here by the recent memory of forcing stat increases with my solo White Mage and Thief in the original Final Fantasy, but whatever the rationale, I was more willing to save-scum for low-odds steals on this particular playthrough. I started out by taking the guaranteed theft of the Oasis Hat from the Impresario in Noblecourt, by far the best option in that slot for this point in the gameplay, then moved on to additional items that I often skip with solo characters. This Elderly Woman in Noblecourt had an improved armor named the Sorcerer's Robe with amazing elemental defense and even a boosted elemental attack value. It was awesome for the moment though the comparatively low physical defense meant it would eventually get swapped out for something better. Then I also stole a Stimulating Necklace at the same 3% odds which granted an additional 80 max SP. This was a huge deal for Ophilia as it boosted her total up to about 240 SP, taking her to approximately 6-7 castings of her elemental spells as opposed to the previous 3. This meant fewer random encounters spent whacking things with a staff and more freedom to unleash elemental death before running out of spirit points.

Longtime readers of the Octopath reports have likely noticed that I frequently leave H'aanit and her story sequence until the end of the Chapter 1 stories. This is not because the Ghisarma is a particularly tough boss, rather it's because poor H'aanit contributes almost nothing to a solo game. Olberic's Challenge is superior to her Provoke in almost every situation (not needing to catch monsters and release them in Pokemon fashion) and the village of S'warkii has no notable quests or useful equipment for Purchasing/Stealing. It's a bit of shame that there isn't more going on here although I guess it's realistic for a tiny forest village. Anyway, this was the tail end of the Chapter 1 quests and Ophilia had clearly outscaled the dangers that they could hold. She had enough health and physical/elemental defense that monster attacks were bouncing off harmlessly while her Sorcerer spells continued to grow more powerful. Any random encounter could be wiped in a single spellcast and bosses didn't fare much better. The Ghisarma wasn't weak to bows or staffs but Ophilia could still hit for 1200 x 3 = 3600 damage even when it was unbroken (once the proper Elemental Break debuff was in place). Three such casts and the fight was over with no need to use recovery items.

Overall, the Chapter 1 stories were a bit tricky for Sorcerer Ophilia to complete. This is a class that was emphatically not intended to be used in the early portions of the gameplay and I had to struggle a bit at times to work around the low spirit point cap. Ophilia only had access to two of the six elemental types and the damage wasn't really that amazing when starting out. Unlocking the Elemental Break skill had helped significantly and there were some important passive support skills in the pipeline which would come online as Ophilia made it further in her journey. I suspected that things were likely going to become easier, not harder, as the quest continued and Ophilia started taking advantage of more of the strengths of the Sorcerer class. I'd have to play thing out to know for sure though! On to the Chapter 2 stories next.