|This was often a good indication that I was in over my head|
As I mentioned in the last post, I had a bit of grinding before progressing further in the story, so I'm a bit light on material for this post. So I'll dig into a bit more detail, starting with combat. On each character's turn they have the option to attack using melee or ranged weapons, use magic or items, flee, defend (damage is greatly reduced), or move. Each character sits on an invisible hex grid, and is able to move one space per turn with the option to attack using a melee weapon (at half damage) that same turn if an enemy is in an adjacent hex. There are only three rows, so tactically it's very limited. Attacks can also only be directed to a forward hex.
|As my fame grew random characters greeted me on the road|
Ranged damage always seems weaker than melee attacks, even when attack power was equivalent. If that weren't the case, then maybe having a tank type character out front always defending would be a viable option. Magic is comparatively weaker than melee attacks, but have a base damage that is more powerful than ranged (magic points are still better spent on healing). If lucky enough, characters will land critical hits that do massive damage, although enemies are capable of the same. I would guess critical hits completely ignore armor. Next to healing, debuff then buff spells are the most useful in combat as sleep can knock out even bosses for a few rounds if it lands. Items are limited to consumables; even though equipment is selectable, all that I've tried responded with a message indicating I couldn't use them at that time.
|I wonder if this name is relevant to the game, or just a notable real world geographical landmark|
In the field I have the option to search, which appears most useful for reading signs. As the game day cycles it curiously says it's too dark to read them at night. (Does that mean my characters are stumbling through the night without a light source?) I also have the option to use magic, items, and check my characters' info. The spy option is used in town only, although available in the field, and I described its use last post. Lastly, there's the lineup, where I can choose the order of my characters and their formation in combat among the six hexes on the right side.
|I courted this samurai for over a month to make him friendly enough to join|
I really wasn't looking forward to the grind, so I spent some time finding someone better than my second ninja. After a few false starts (talking to someone for a while before they just disappear to the next town), I managed to find a samurai that was sticking around waiting for war to break out. Naruse is his name and he joined with some of the worst equipment for that point in the game. No wonder he wasn't conscripted yet. I geared him up, and tried to do a side quest at the Sado gold mine. The enemies were even worse than I had been facing.
|The same amount of experience is given to each character, so there's no advantage to having less than a full party|
Two levels and 5,000 gold later I was in a much better position. Like many games of the era, I couldn't tell which piece of equipment my characters could use without the risk of purchasing it. So I was left with experimenting. I saved, sold off everything I had, and attempted to buy the very best equipment. This gave me a solid purchasing plan. To make combat a bit easier, I invested in some long bows (the best ranged weapon I could buy), and it was then that I really determined ranged damage was terrible. I was still not quite ready to go back to the main story dungeon (Mt. Ontake). I tried to continue my grind at Mt. Osore, but the encounter rate seemed to take a steep drop. I don't know if it was the time of year, or if the game reacts to my grinding or level. Whatever it was, it was time to move on.
|I followed a previous lead on a treasure filled dungeon near Hiraizumi... I was the one that did the demolishing|
I upgraded my armor, and bought a Masamune sword for my main character. Having this greatly improved my ability to tangle with the enemies in the next dungeon and the Sado gold mine. I felt like doing a bit more off course though, so I focused on finding the man lost in the mine. I made progress. Slowly at first, but things improved greatly as I leveled up and finally purchased a Muramasa for Naruse. The boss at the bottom of the gold mine was the man I sought, possessed by an evil spirit guarding the gold within. The man fell, and the town celebrated while his widow mourned. I was paid off for my services, and moved on... back to the main quest.
|There's been a sharp increase in the number of boss battles|
It's difficult to know where to strike a good balance between grinding to meet the challenge and over leveling. For the Sado gold mine, it was a good challenge. For Oda's diary at Mt. Ontake afterwards, it was a cakewalk. Having nearly everyone equipped with the best gear I could buy, I breezed through this dungeon, and the next doesn't pose too much of a threat. I would have had it beat if not for the maze-like design of multiple floors, passages that look identical, and ladders that are difficult to differentiate between up and down. At least I have enough to purchase a fire blade, and become even more unstoppable. Even before I do though, I want to note that I gained a new spell, Burn, which does about as much damage as the Masamune to all enemies. If it weren't for the MP cost, I might consider trading in my healer for a magician that could cast similar spells.
|Totally unrelated to the sky gem I retrieved earlier|
I seem to be just about 2/3rds done with my training. I'm not sure what the next step is after that's complete: if there are additional quests to complete, or if we'll be thrust to confront Nobunaga immediately. I really hope that I get to participate in at least one war battle before the game is over, but each of the states seem content to not attack anyone during these winter months.